"Nick," Harry gasped, fingers threading into his Nick's pink hair as his lips wrapped around his swollen cock. "Gonna be late," he managed to say before letting out a loud groan.
Nick pulled away, a small trail of saliva falling from his lips. "Would you like me to stop?" he asked.
Harry pushed Nick's head back down. "Kill you if you do," he muttered.
"Good answer," Nick said, sending Harry a wink before finishing what he started.
Louis slammed his phone down on his desk before glaring up at Zayn, his assistant. "Where the bloody hell is the new intern? I have one hour before my meeting with Posen and I don't have time to teach him the ropes," he complained.
"Isn't that what I'm here for?" Zayn asked, checking his emails.
Louis rolled his eyes. "Not when you'll be busy at the meeting with me. He was supposed to be here—"
"Two minutes ago," Zayn interrupted. "Calm down. He'll be here."
Louis frowned. He did not like Monday mornings. Especially this week—he had too many meetings and fittings and photo shoots to deal with; a late intern was not something he wanted to add to the mix. "He's still late. If he makes it a habit—“
Zayn slid his phone into his pocket and rested a hand on his boss, and best friends, shoulder. "Take a deep breath, Lou. You're stressed out enough. I'll make you some tea. Just sit down."
Lou nodded, taking a seat and running his hands through his hair. Zayn was right. Stressing because an intern was a few minutes late wasn't worth it. It wasn't that big of a deal. (Well, actually, it was. Being punctual was important.)
Lou's head snapped up and his first thought was no, no, no this kid could not be his intern. No. That just wouldn't be fair. "Yes?"
"I'm Harry, uh, Styles. I'm your intern? I'm so sorry I'm late—I swear I won't make it a habit," he said, walking over to the desk and sticking his hand out.
Louis shook his hand. "You better not. Punctuality is the most important part of the job. If you can't be somewhere on time, there's no point for you to be here," he told him.
Harry's green eyes widened and he nodded. "Yes, sir. I promise it won't happen again."
"Good. See to it that it doesn't."
"Don't scare him already, Lou," Zayn said, walking back into the office. He set a mug onto his boss’ desk and turned. "I'm Zayn, Lou's assistant. His bark is worse than his bite."
"I can assure you my bite is pretty bad," Lou muttered, picking up his portfolio and starting to shove items into his rucksack. "First things first, we have a meeting with Posen. We'll be photographing his new line and doing a couple adverts. You'll basically be my bitch this summer."
Harry smiled, revealing a dimple in his left cheek. "My specialty," he joked.
Lou raised an eyebrow and no, no, no this kid was barely out of school, probably didn't even have the ability to grow a beard, and he was not, not going to think about this kid in any way that could be sexual. At all. No. He wasn't going to.
"Sorry, Mr. Tomlinson," Harry said quietly.
And that, that was something else Lou wasn't going to think about, how a shiver went down his spine when Harry called him "mister." No. Lou looked over at Zayn, who was holding back a smile. "Right, well. While we're gone, I want you to...clean my office," Lou told him.
"You want me to clean?" Harry asked incredulously.
"You want him to clean?" Zayn asked at the same time.
"Yes," Lou repeated. "I trust you know how to organize things? Papers and photos and things?"
Harry smiled, tight-lipped. "Of course, Mr. Tomlinson," he said with a nod.
"Good," Lou said, standing up and tossing the strap of his bag over his shoulder. He picked up his tea and took a quick drink. "Alright, Zayn, let's go. And you—"
"Spotless by the time I get back," he said, motioning to his office.
Lou nodded and walked out of his office, Zayn hot on his heels.
"What was that?" Zayn asked with a smile.
"Nothing," Lou snapped.
"You sure?" he asked with a knowing look.
Lou pressed the button for the lift, stepping in and straightening his tie. “Are you going to join me?”
Zayn smiled and got into the elevator next to him. “You do know you probably shouldn’t fuck your intern, right?”
“That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.”
“He’s probably underage,” Zayn teased, elbowing his friend in the side.
“He’s eighteen,” Lou snapped.
Lou bit the inside of his cheek; Zayn’s smile was contagious. “Shut up.”
Two hours later and Harry was finally finishing all of Mr. Tomlinson’s (he refused to let himself call him Louis or Lou because, no, they were not friends, he was his intern for God’s sake) filing. The office wasn’t a disaster, it was just poorly organized, but Harry was a genius and had set up a very simple filing system that kept all of his important papers. There was a separate area for mock-ups, layouts, and a bunch of other things that Harry didn’t recognize.
Because, honestly, he wasn’t even sure what Louis did for a living. He knew there were meetings, photo shoots, and ad campaigns but, well, that was it. He mainly applied for the internship in order to delay going to university and, well, Nick said if he didn’t find an actual job, he should definitely find something. So he did.
He was in the middle of reorganizing Louis’ desk when the office door opened behind him. He fixed the nameplate before clutching his hands behind his back. “Mr. Tomlinson,” he greeted.
Louis stepped inside the office, taking in his now-clean desk. He opened up the desk drawers, seeing everything filed away and clearly labeled. And, okay, he was impressed. He met Zayn’s eyes over Harry’s shoulders and raised an eyebrow.
“It looks nice in here,” Zayn said.
“Where’s my tea?” Louis snapped.
Harry walked over to the desk, opening the top drawer on the left to reveal Louis’ tea collection, neatly organized in alphabetical order. “Right here, Mr. Tomlinson. You just had them thrown into one basket and I’m sure that’s not very helpful when you’re craving a cuppa,” he said with a smile.
Louis took a step back. “Do you want a congratulations or something?” he asked before sitting down in his seat and logging onto his computer.
Harry cleared his throat. “A thank you would be nice,” he muttered.
Zayn laughed. “Alright, Lou, I’m gonna get those mock-ups printed for the layout. We have to leave in less than an hour to get lunch before the photo shoot.”
“What photo shoot?” Harry asked, sitting down in one of the chairs across from Louis’ desk.
Louis sighed. “Do you even know what we do here?”
“I’m not even sure if I know where I am,” he said with a laugh.
“We are a part of a multi-billion dollar fashion organization, Harry. I have clients to manage, photo shoots to do, adverts to design and approve, and I need an intern who’s going to be able to keep up.”
“I can keep up.”
“You better pray that you do, Harry, because I don’t have time for children. And Zayn will be the first one to tell you that I don’t coddle. I didn’t make it to the head of the photography branch of this magazine at such a young age by not keeping up. If you’re working for me, you will be expected to be in all the places that I am. You’re going to be my second assistant. We’ll be working photo shoots, you’ll be getting coffee and lunch and doing whatever I ask of you. That is what we’re doing here,” Louis explained.
“I can keep up. Look how nicely I kept up with cleaning your office,” Harry offered with a wide smile.
Lou bit the inside of his cheek and studiously avoided looking at the dimple. “Are you asking for praise? Like a dog?” he asked.
Harry laughed, something loud and boisterous. “Maybe,” he told him with a cheeky grin.
Louis shook his head, letting out a small laugh. He stood up and walked around his desk, patting Harry on the head. “Good boy,” he said, fluffing his hair before walking out of his office. He cursed under his breath and walked quickly down the hall to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. “Fuck.”
Nick was dozing off on the couch when Harry finally got home from his first day of his internship. He rubbed at his eyes, yawning. “How was your first day, love?”
Harry shrugged off his blazer, tossing it over the back the couch before climbing on top of his, well…his Nick. They were at a stage in their relationship where it wasn’t really a relationship; they weren’t dating, they weren’t one another’s boyfriend, but lover seemed too passé and friends with benefits wasn’t inclusive enough. So…his Nick. That would have to do. “Missed you,” he said before pressing their lips together. He slid his fingers into Nick’s hair, tugging at the strands.
Nick pulled away and Harry’s lips moved down to his neck. “I take it you had a very good day at work?”
“Not really,” Harry mumbled, sinking his teeth into the base of his Nick’s neck. “Want you to fuck me,” he told him, pulling away and tugging Nick’s shirt over his head. He tossed it aside before unbuttoning his own shirt, shrugging it off his shoulders and attaching his lips to Nick’s throat again.
Nick’s hands instantly went to Harry’s hips, holding him in place. “Anything you want to talk about?” he asked.
Harry shook his head. “No talking,” he said, kissing his way up Nick’s neck until he reached his ear. “Want you to fuck me until I can’t walk.”
“If you insist.”
Louis was determined to not let it happen again. (And by "it," he meant touching Harry or speaking to him in a suggestive manner or...anything. He briefly thought about firing him but, with the fall season coming up, he would need an extra set of hands. Large hands that could definitely give him pleasure—no. That wasn't happening either. No.) Even after Zayn had laughed at his pain for a solid ten minutes, Louis was determined to not let it bother him.
He wasn't that successful.
After one day of working with Harry, he needed a drink. He invited Zayn and his friend out for drinks at the pub down the road from his flat. (They weren't friends with benefits, though Louis knew there had to have been some benefits going on with how happy Zayn was some mornings. No amount of caffeine could give the same glow as a glorious orgasm. He knew that for certain.)
"So basically he wants to fuck the intern," Zayn said dramatically as he took a drink of his beer.
Louis sighed. "I don't—He's just..." He trailed off, unable to find the right way to say it because, yes, alright, if he was presented with the opportunity to fuck Harry, he would probably most-definitely consider taking it.
"Pretty?" Zayn supplied.
"Jailbait," Louis corrected.
Aiden laughed. "Your intern is underage?"
"He's 18," Zayn told him. "And very pretty."
Louis took a drink; Harry was very pretty and very off-limits. "He's off limits," he expressed. "I should just fire him."
Zayn rolled his eyes. "All other candidates will have another job by now. We're sticking with him."
Louis groaned. "I touched his hair," he said suddenly.
Aiden smiled behind his beer bottle.
Zayn laughed. "I wish I could've seen that," he said thoughtfully.
"How am I even going to face him tomorrow?"
"Listen here, mate. You're twenty-five years old and one of the best in the business. People love you and your work. You're perfect. You will not be fazed by this," Zayn told him confidently.
Confidence. The one characteristic (besides raw sexuality) that Zayn had that hadn't rubbed off into Louis in the three years they'd been working together and the fifteen years that they’d been best mates. "I won't?"
"You won't," Zayn repeated. He reached into his wallet and threw some notes on the bar. "You will have one more beer before going home, have a wank to Harry's dimple, and get some beauty rest because we have a big day tomorrow."
Louis pouted. "You're off the job, don't boss me around."
Zayn smiled. "I'll always be here to boss you around," he said affectionately.
"Have fun with your wank," Aiden offered with a wave. "Don't sexually harass him."
"If anything he will be the one harassing me," Louis muttered.
"I'll see you in the morning," Zayn said, blowing him a kiss before grabbing Aiden’s hand and leaving the pub.
Louis frowned, telling himself he wouldn't listen to Zayn (for once). But an hour later, he was wanking to Harry's face while showering, and cursing Zayn and Harry's existence because life wasn't fair and he just needed to get laid.
Harry really should've paid more attention to the office rules. Maybe then he wouldn't have felt so nervous about his outfit as he made his way to Louis' office. When he walked in, he saw Louis' stuff spread across the desk but his boss was nowhere to be found.
"Word of advice," Zayn said walking in the door. "If you want him to like you, have his tea already made and on his desk."
"What kind of tea?" Harry asked.
"Any kind," Zayn said with a shrug before giving him a once over. "What are you wearing?"
Harry looked down at his outfit. "Um, black...jeans and a...white shirt and blazer?"
Zayn nodded thoughtfully. "Casual."
"Should I have worn something else?"
"No, you look good," Zayn said. "Make his tea. We're leaving in thirty for a photo shoot."
"Clothes," Zayn answered dismissively before waking out of Louis' office.
Harry shrugged and set about making tea, setting it down on Louis' desk right as he walked in. "Morning, Mr. Tomlinson."
Louis froze, eyes roaming over Harry's body, that was obviously rather nice as evident from the scandalously tight jeans he was wearing. And Louis worked in fashion. He knew scandalous. And that was Harry in a nutshell. "Harry," he greeted with a slight nod.
"Erm, would you like me to pop off and get you something to eat?" he offered, unsure of what else to do.
"There's no time," Louis said with a small shrug.
Harry nodded, watching as Louis sat down and logged onto his computer, opening up his emails. "I guess I just feel like I should be doing more..."
"You're still new," Louis said. "Once we have ads to edit, layouts to design and the like, you'll have more to do. For now—"
"Your secretary, basically," Harry said.
Louis glanced up at him over the top of his glasses. "Basically. Go find Zayn. I need him."
"Of course, Mr. Tomlinson," Harry nodded before scurrying off to do just that.
Louis let out a deep breath. Harry might end up being the death of him.
"I heard you needed me," Zayn teased as he walked into his friend's office.
Louis rolled his eyes. "Where is he?"
"Bathroom. I told him we had an hour drive ahead of us."
"What is he wearing?"
"Jeans?" Zayn offered in the same tone that Harry had used earlier.
"It should be illegal," Louis muttered with a frown.
"Aw, someone needs to get laid," Zayn pouted, mocking his friend.
"So you'll be over tonight?" Louis asked.
Zayn scoffed. "You're lucky I don't sue you for sexual harassment," he told him, his eyebrows rising.
"I wouldn't fire you because you don't want to sleep with me."
"I know. Thank God you're good in bed," he muttered.
Louis laughed. "I think that was a compliment."
"It was," Zayn assured him. "But I won't let you call me 'Harry,' that's where I draw the line."
"What about me?" Harry asked, green eyes impossibly wide as he walked back into the office.
"Nothing," Louis said with a frown. "Let's go. We have a lot to take care of."
"Yes, sir," Harry said with a mock-salute.
Louis rolled his eyes and grabbed his bag, motioning for them to follow him out of the office and to the car waiting for them downstairs.
"Harry, can you sit in the middle? I get claustrophobic," Zayn asked.
"Erm, sure," Harry answered, climbing onto the back seat next to Louis. Their thighs were pressed together and Harry bit the inside of his cheek. He was cramped against his boss who, for all intents and purposes, seemed to hate him without a reason. And that just wasn't fair because people who looked as good as Lou did in a suit and his glasses wasn't fair. But, well, Zayn wasn't fair either, with his dark eyes and eyelashes and all things mysterious and sexual. So Harry was pressed between two unfairly handsome/ beautiful/ sexy men and, yeah, he had a sexy and beautiful man waiting for him at home, but. This was different. And he wasn't sure if it was luck or temptation but, damn, how had this become his life?
"Are photo shoots supposed to be this long?" Harry asked Zayn the second Louis stepped out to take a phone call.
Zayn glanced over at him before looking at his watch. "It's been an hour, Harry."
"I know," he said, stuffing his hands into his pockets (or, well, what he could fit because, yeah, his trousers were rather tight).
Zayn smiled. "Don't let Louis hear that. He hates a whinge."
"He hates everything," he muttered.
"Not true. He loved the way you organized his tea," Zayn offered with a helpful grin.
Harry laughed. "Yes, that's a good point."
"It should only take a couple more hours, then we have a fitting and some layout editing to do," Zayn listed off. "Busy day in the fashion world."
"A couple hours?"
"That's all you picked up on?"
"It's standing in front of a bloody camera!"
Zayn grabbed his arm and dragged him further away from set. "Bite your tongue, Harry," he said quietly. "You might not understand this world, and that's alright, but this is everything to Louis. Watch what you say or he will be horrendous to you. That's the only advice I can give you right now."
Harry sighed but, okay, Zayn was right. Disrespecting someone's work and legacy was just, well, mean. And Harry liked Louis (kind of, if lusting over him fit into that category then, yes, he liked Louis) and if he wanted them to be friends (perhaps the kind of friends that exchanged blow jobs, that would be great) then he should probably start being nicer to him. "You're right."
"I know," Zayn said with a smile. "Ask him if you can get him lunch."
Harry pouted. "I hate being a gopher."
"Get used to it, love."
"Bloody public relations people," Louis muttered, running a hand through his hair.
"Niall again?" Zayn asked with a laugh.
"He just wants early mock ups to impress his boss, you know how he is," Louis shrugged.
"Oh, yes, that Niall's a character," Harry added with a shrug.
Louis frowned. "You know him?"
"No," Harry replied with a cheeky smile. "I was making a joke."
"Oh," Louis paused. "Don't."
Harry's smile faded and he sucked in a deep breath. He made eye contact with Zayn who was studiously miming eating and Harry snapped his fingers. "Yes! Can I...get you anything for lunch? Are you, are you hungry, Mr. Tomlinson?"
Louis rolled his eyes. "Yes, fine, whatever," he said with a wave of his hand before starting to walk back over to the set.
Harry quickly followed, reaching out for his arm. Louis stared down at Harry's fingers on his jacket and frowned. He raised his eyes to meet Harry's, who quickly jerked his arm away. "What would you like?"
With another sigh, he rattled off his order quicker than Harry could write it down. He dug a couple of notes out of his pocket while Harry struggled to remember what he has ordered and he shoved it in his hands. "Hurry back," he snapped before addressing the photographer.
And, all right, he was being a dick. But in his defense, he was a twenty-five year old man lusting over and eighteen-year-old boy whose smile was going to be the death of him. Well, if one could die from being around gorgeous people (and Louis worked with models). But Harry was going to be a problem for him. Maybe subconsciously he was hoping Harry would get sick of him and quit. But a bigger part of him was praying that wouldn't happen.
gonna be a late night, see u later xx
Harry slipped his phone into his pocket and finished making Louis’ tea. He joined his boss and Zayn in the office, setting the tea down.
“No, move that ad up a little bit,” Louis said thoughtfully, picking up the tea and taking a drink. He studied the new layout before shaking his head. “No, that doesn’t look good either.”
Harry glanced over Louis’ shoulder. “What if you put it on the right instead of the left? I took a rhetoric course last semester and I remember reading somewhere that if you want the ad to catch someone’s eye, it’s best to put it at the top corner to draw the eye,” he said softly.
Louis glanced at him over the top of his glasses.
Zayn reached for the ad and moved it to the top right, close to the corner, moving the article beneath it down slightly and altering the placement of the other photos. “That actually looks better,” he mused.
Louis nodded thoughtfully, appraising the rearrangement with a small smile. “That’ll do,” he shrugged, taking another drink of his tea. “Where’s the Kors ad?”
“Two pages before this, a full spread,” Zayn told him.
“No, switch it with the Guess ad,” Louis said. “Kors pays us more, they should have better placement. Switch those, cut the Dolce ad to one page opposite of the Fendi, and then we’ll do the contents.”
Zayn nodded, reaching for the appropriate papers and starting to reorganize them. Harry watched studiously as Louis stepped out to make a call. “You know, that was a good call on putting the ad in the corner,” Zayn told him.
Harry smiled softly. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Sometimes when we look at these for hours, our eyes just…don’t work,” Zayn said with a shrug. “Lou will probably make a comment about how he knew that trick, and he does, but…”
“You’ve been looking at it for hours and that leads you to forget simple things?” Harry offered.
Zayn smiled as he finished reorganizing the pages. “A fresh set of eyes always helps. Don’t listen to Lou. He’s just under a lot of pressure,” he told him.
“Does he do everything around here?” Harry asked quietly, looking at the contents page and shifting a few things around.
“That looks good,” Zayn told him. “But switch the bottom picture with the middle, we don’t want two blondes next to each other—diversity and all that.”
Harry switched the two pictures, offsetting the angles. He picked up a horizontal picture, three images of the same model, and set it underneath the rest of the contents so the words were framed. “So…”
“He does, actually. He does whatever the editor wants him to do. Photo shoots, layout, some articles, he even runs a blog,” Zayn said.
“Stop talking about me,” Louis snapped walking back into his office.
“Yes, sir,” Zayn laughed.
Louis stepped between them, eyeing the finished layout. “This looks good,” he said, tapping the contents page. “I like the photos near the edge more. And good call framing the contents, it makes it look more fun.”
“Harry did that, actually, I hadn’t even noticed,” Zayn said before raising his arms over his head and stretching.
“Oh,” Louis said pursing his lips. “I guess you’re not completely useless after all.”
“Actually, I’m good at quite a few things. This must be one of my many talents, Mr. Tomlinson,” Harry told him with a grin.
Louis met his eyes and involuntarily felt a flush creeping up the back of his neck. He cleared his throat and looked down at the layout. “I’m gonna get this off to the layout division. Can you clean up and get my stuff together for me?” he asked.
Louis gathered up everything he needed before glancing at the clock. “Is it really half one? Wow.”
“Do you want me to cancel your nine am?” Zayn asked.
Louis sighed, shaking his hand. “No, I can—”
“I’ll cancel,” Zayn interrupted.
“Bless you,” Louis said before exiting the office.
“What time should I be in tomorrow then?” Harry asked.
“Ten. That’s when I’ll be getting in,” he told him with a shrug.
Harry nodded. “Sounds good,” he answered with a yawn.
Zayn put Louis laptop and everything else he needed and closed his bag. “I can’t wait to go home. I’m exhausted.”
“Same here, mate. You guys do this every day?” Harry asked incredulously.
“Nearly. It’s like this at deadline,” Zayn shrugged before pulling his phone out of his pocket. He dialed a number, called for a car, before sliding his phone back into his pocket.
“Did you call a car?” Louis asked as he walked back into his office, taking his bag from Zayn’s hand.
“It’ll be here by the time we get downstairs.”
Harry grabbed his blazer and dragged it back on. “I’ll see you guys in the morning?”
“The car will drop you off as well, Harry, you’re not walking home at half-one,” Louis said with a wave of his hand.
“Are you sure?”
Louis rolled his eyes, motioning for Zayn and Harry to follow him to the lift. The ride to Harry’s flat was silent and only slightly awkward. Harry chose to ignore how Louis already knew where he lived because he told himself it didn’t matter anyway. When the car pulled up to the curb, he opened the door.
“Thank you for the ride home, Mr. Tomlinson,” he said before climbing out of the car.
Louis followed after. “I’ll walk you up,” he offered. “I’ll be right back, Zayn.”
Zayn hid a smile behind his fist as he yawned. “Okay.”
“You don’t have to walk me up,” Harry told him as he walked up the steps to his building.
“You’re my intern, therefore my responsibility. If you trip and fall on the stairs and die, my editor will make it my fault. So I assure you it’s purely for my own benefit,” Louis told him.
Harry could’ve sworn he detected a hint of humor in his tone, but he wasn’t sure. He climbed the three flights of stairs in silence, digging his key out of his pocket before he got to his door. “I’ll see you in the morning?”
“At ten,” Louis said. “We don’t have a meeting until noon, so we might as well sleep in a little bit.”
“Ten sounds great. Do you know what sounds better?” Harry asked.
Louis laughed. “Half-ten. That’s all I can do,” he told him.
Harry smiled, his dimple deepening. “Sounds good,” he said, unlocking the door and opening it. He froze when he heard the unmistakable sound of moaning or, more accurately, Nick moaning. He bit his lip and quietly shut the door. “See you in the morning, Mr. Tomlinson.”
“What was that?” Louis asked, eyebrows furrowing.
“Erm, just…my flat mate watching a porno or something,” he said with a shake of his head. “Doesn’t matter. I’ll wait out here ‘til he’s done.” Immediately following, Harry heard the headboard hitting the wall. He cringed, embarrassed—not exactly the first impression he wanted to make when Louis was at his flat. Not that, well, not that he had planned on Louis coming to his flat at all but…if he was going to, Harry definitely wanted it under different circumstances.
“A very life-like porno,” Louis said dryly.
Harry laughed awkwardly resting his back against the wall and sliding to sit down. “You can go home, Mr. Tomlinson. I know you’re tired. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Louis sighed, rolling his eyes. “Nonsense. Come with me.”
Louis snapped his fingers. “Come with me,” he repeated.
Harry stood up reluctantly. “I can stay here.”
“Or you can shut up and come with me, since we both know you’ll end up doing what I say anyway,” Louis mumbled.
“It’s almost two in the morning, Harry, I’m not in the mood to argue. Let’s go.”
“I’m not, like, ruining your plans, am I?” Harry asked as Zayn got out of the car with no goodbye. He tried to say goodbye, but Zayn was already out of the car with a glare aimed at Louis and, to be honest, Harry didn't even think it was possible to get Zayn upset.
Lou shrugged, watching Zayn storm off. His assistant hadn’t exactly been thrilled their planned evening was being canceled, no matter how tired they both were. “He’s just tired. He was going to come to mine but it’s too late.”
“But…you’re letting me come over?”
Harry pursed his lips. “Is it?”
“You don’t have anyone else. Zayn has…others."
Harry scoffed. “I do, too, have someone else!"
"Really? Who? Don't lie, Harry. You were going to sit in the hallway to your flat while your flat mate or whoever was having sex. Who were you going to call?” When Harry didn’t reply, he nodded thoughtfully. “Exactly.”
“I didn’t mind to wait in the hallway,” Harry said. “You’re the one who’s insisting upon being all noble.”
Louis rolled his eyes. “Shut up, Harry,” he told him fondly, shaking his head before looking out the window. He was determined to ignore Harry until they got to his flat and, for once, he succeeded. He thanked the driver before climbing out, hearing Harry pass along his thanks as well, and he walked up the steps to his flat.
Harry let out a low whistle when Louis let him into his flat. "This is really nice, Mr. Tomlinson," he said, clearly impressed.
"Call me Louis, or Lou if you’d like," he told him. "Just not at the office."
Harry smiled and continued to follow Louis into the kitchen. "I didn't even know they had flats this nice. You must pay a fortune," he mused.
"A decent amount. Quite too much since I rarely spend time here."
"I feel like you're one of those people who sleep in your office," Harry joked.
Louis' eyes widened. "Did Zayn tell you I do that sometimes?"
"No," Harry deadpanned.
"Oh. Well. I don't do that anyway," he said with a shrug.
Harry laughed. "You so sleep in your office."
Louis pouted. "Only sometimes," he muttered. And what was he even doing? Pouting and joking with his barely-legal intern in his own flat? His mind was screaming that it was a bad idea, to call a car and have him taken home, but he didn't want Harry to leave. Harry fit at his flat, the way the beige walls somehow brought out the gold flecks in his eyes, the way Harry leaned against the counter like he belonged there, it was a little bit of everything all at once, and it had Louis' head swimming. "Do you want something to eat?" he asked suddenly.
"Aren't you tired?" Harry asked.
Harry shrugged. "I'm always up for food."
"Brilliant," Louis mused, opening a drawer and pulling out his take away menus. "Thai sound good to you?"
"I can make us something," he offered, "if you want?"
"You cook?" Louis asked in disbelief.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I love cooking. Do you have any food in this place?" he teased.
"I'm not even sure," Louis admitted before pulling a bottle of wine out of one of the cupboards. "Are you even old enough to have this?" he asked.
"Fuck off, mate, 'course I am," Harry said, rummaging through the fridge before pulling out an armful of groceries.
Louis poured them both a glass of wine and thought about how surreal this whole scene was, drinking wine at two am while Harry made him something to eat. Harry walked around his kitchen like he belonged there, setting a pan on the stove and cutting up a tomato (that Louis was positive hadn't been there that morning but, hey, what did he know?) and just. It made Louis smile, and he took another sip of his wine. "What are you making?"
"Tacos," Harry said, reaching for his glass of wine and drinking half in one go. "I'm usually more creative, I promise."
"Tacos sound brilliant. I didn't even know I had the stuff to make them, to be honest."
Harry nodded. "I do the cooking at home so I can usually make a meal out of anything."
"Bet your boyfriend loves that," Louis said quietly. He didn't believe for a minute that his flat mate was just that. There was more to the story, and he wanted to find out everything he could about Harry.
"He's not my boyfriend," Harry shrugged, stirring the meat before heating up the tortillas.
"So what is he?"
Harry sighed, mixing the seasoning with the beef in silence before finishing gathering all of the toppings.
"Sorry I brought it up. We don't have to talk about it," Louis said.
"It's just... We have a unique relationship. I'm used to people judging and not understanding, so I don't talk about it," Harry said. He got out a couple plates and set them on the counter. "Dig in."
Louis made himself three tacos before topping off his and Harry's wine glasses. He sat down on one of the bar stools, surprised when Harry finished making his plate and sat down next to him. He took a bite and, maybe it was the fact that he hasn't eaten in six hours but hell, they were the best tacos he'd ever had, and he let Harry in on that secret.
Harry flushed lightly. "Thanks. Nick loves when I make Mexican. It's his favorite."
"Nick your non-boyfriend?"
"Yeah," he shrugged. "We aren't dating."
"But you live together?"
Harry nodded. "It's a fairly open relationship."
"Meaning he sleeps with other people?" Louis asked, feeling upset and he didn't even know why. (Except he did, because when someone was lucky enough to be sleeping with someone who looked like Harry, he knew that fucking that up would be a stupid mistake.)
Harry grinned. "Please, Lou, I sleep with other people, too," he told him.
Louis reached for his wine glass. He might have been too sober for that conversation, or maybe it was the way his named rolled off of Harry's tongue, but he definitely needed a drink.
"We just...normally do it when we're alone. We respect one another's boundaries," he said.
"To be young and crazy," Louis said with a wistful sigh. Hell, you had to be young to keep up with Harry, he told himself, and maybe he was trying to convince himself that they wouldn't be right together. He didn't even know.
"Please, Nick is older than you."
Louis froze. "How much older?"
"He's twenty-eight," he said with a shrug.
"He's ten years your senior?"
Harry smiled. "I like older men," he said simply.
"I see," Lou mused, taking another sip of his wine and finishing his tacos. He was looking for a distraction, anything to not meet Harry's green, green eyes, even though he could feel him staring a hole into his neck. "That was delicious. Thank you."
"Any time," Harry said, reaching for his dishes and putting them in the sink.
"You can leave them there. I have a cleaner come in every Wednesday," he shrugged.
Louis finished his wine. "Think it's time for bed, eh?"
Harry smiled. "Brilliant. Which way?"
"Guest room is on the right. Do you need anything to sleep in?"
"I normally sleep naked."
Louis bit the inside of his cheek and decidedly did not go there. He led Harry to the guest room and opened the door. "I have a shirt you can borrow in the morning. There's an iPhone charger already plugged in, just in case. Bathrooms through there, toiletries already stocked."
"You're such a gracious host," Harry smiled.
Louis didn't flush (he didn't). "Sleep well, Harry. I'll wake you up at nine so we can get to work on time."
"How about nine thirty?"
Louis laughed. "Nine."
"You're much more fun out of the office, you know," Harry told him.
"Thanks. I think."
Louis nodded. "Goodnight, Haz," he told him before stepping out of the room and closing the door behind him. He made it to his room and stripped to his pants, crawling under the covers and setting the alarm on his phone. He sent a quick text to Zayn (sorry about earlier...rain check?? xx) and put his phone on the nightstand. He sighed, telling himself not to think about Harry and the fact that he was sleeping (naked) less than twenty feet away. It didn't matter if Harry was legal, it didn't matter if Harry liked older men, it didn't matter because Louis was a professional and he was not, he was not going to do anything with his intern. No matter how bloody gorgeous he was. He wasn't going to be that guy. He just needed to figure out how to stick to that mantra. He didn't know if Harry did it on purpose, but the kid exuded sex appeal in almost inhuman ways. The kid was something else. Something Louis had to become immune to, because fucking his intern was not an option.
(Well, it was, because he knew Harry would probably say yes. And Harry would probably also work extra hard to make Louis happy, just like he did in the office and, oh, the look on his face on Day One when Louis called him a "good boy" was too much and no. No.)
Not an option, Louis repeated to himself, tugging the covers up to his chin.
Harry was not an option.
The next day in the office, Harry expected a change. Not necessarily a monumental one, but he was expecting a noticeable difference between how Louis had treated him before. But there was no change. The conversation was stilted, the exchanges slightly awkward and hesitant, and the entire situation was only made more uncomfortable when Zayn was added to the mix, still upset about the previous night. But Harry was an adult, so he told himself that it wasn’t a big deal. And he did what he could to ignore it.
When he got home at half six, Nick still wasn’t there. With a roll of his eyes he set about cleaning the kitchen and making dinner. By the time Nick got back at seven, Harry was just setting dinner on the table.
“What’s this?” Nick asked, kissing Harry on the cheek before sitting down at the table.
Harry poured them both of a glass of wine and sat down across from him. “Dinner?”
“So you didn’t have to work late tonight?”
“Obviously not,” he said quietly.
Nick nodded slowly. “You didn’t come home last night.”
“You seemed rather preoccupied when I got here, so I stayed with Louis,” Harry said with a shrug.
“You stayed with your boss?”
“He was walking me up and offered. I didn’t think that would bother you.”
“It doesn’t,” Nick shrugged, taking a drink of his wine. “Did you fuck him?”
“I don’t have to answer that,” Harry snapped, picking up his plate of half-eaten food and dumping it into the trash.
Nick rolled his eyes. “That’s our agreement, Harry.”
“No, our agreement is that we give one another fair warning. Yet last night, I came home at half one and heard you and god-knows-who. That is not fair warning,” he explained, running a hand through his hair.
“You said you’d be out late,” Nick shrugged.
Harry sighed. “I don’t want to argue.”
“You didn’t answer my question, Harry.”
“I didn’t fuck Louis, alrigh’?”
Harry rested his hands on the countertop. He could hear Nick stand up and he felt his arms wrap around his waist, his lips pressing against his cheek. “What was his name?”
“I don’t remember. He wasn’t that good,” Nick told him, hands fumbling with Harry’s belt buckle. “Not as good as you.”
Harry pushed Nick’s hands out of the way, undoing his own belt and trousers, pushing them down his hips. He reached for Nick’s hand, wrapping it around his length. “Tell me,” he mumbled.
“No one’s ever as good as you, Haz,” he insisted, pressing his lips to the base of his throat. “Never as tight, never as responsive,” he whispered, “never as needy.”
Harry fumbled with his trousers, pulling out a packet of lube and a condom from his back pocket and setting them on the counter before pushing his trousers further down his thighs. “Fuck me.”
“Such a demanding little slut, aren’t you?” Nick growled against his ear. He used his foot to nudge Harry’s legs further apart and he unbuttoned his trousers, rolling the condom on before ripping the packet of lube open. He smeared it on his fingers before pressing them against Harry’s opening.
Harry gasped as Nick slid two fingers deep inside of him roughly, his head falling back against his shoulder. Nick’s other hand tightened around the base of his cock, stroking him slowly as he added a third finger. Harry moaned, pushing himself back against Nick’s fingers. “More,” he choked out, another gasp falling from his lips.
Nick released Harry, pulling his fingers out of him, and grabbed his hips, thrusting in deeply. “You like this?” Nick panted, rocking his hips.
“Yes,” Harry gasped.
Nick’s grip on his hips tightened as he fucked him faster, harder, the way he knew Harry liked, the way he knew he could handle the mixture of pain and pleasure. “Such a good boy,” Nick praised, one hand leaving Harry’s waist to tangle in his curls, tilting his head back so he could press his lips against the soft skin behind his ear. “Such a pretty boy, aren’t you, Harry?”
Harry nodded. “Yes. Yes, Nick, please—“
“Please what?” he asked, fingers tightening in his curls as he bucked his hips faster. “Is this was Louis wanted? When he took you home last night?
“He didn’t—didn’t try anything,” Harry moaned, pressing himself back harder against Nick.
“Bet he wanted to,” Nick said in tandem with his thrusts. “Wanted to fuck you over his desk because you’re such a pretty boy.”
Harry gasped; he was close, so close, he just needed more. “Touch me, please, I—“
Nick wrapped a hand around the base of Harry’s cock, jerking him off quickly in time with his thrusts. Normally he would tease, make him beg for it, because Harry was oh so pretty when he was begging Nick for release, but not this time.
“Gonna—“ Harry gasped, fingers tightening around the edge of the counter “Gonna come, Nick, gonna—Need to—“
Nick attached his lips to Harry’s neck, right where it met his shoulder, and he bit his teeth in as Harry came on his fist. Nick fucked him through his orgasm; a groan fell from his lips as his hips stuttered and he came deep inside of Harry.
Harry’s head fell forward as he struggled to catch his breath. His eyes fell on the wet, sticky mess on the counter. “You’re gonna have to clean that up,” he told him.
A laugh fell from Nick’s lips and he kissed Harry’s cheek. “Go shower. I’ll clean up.”
Louis stared at his computer screen for hours. Or, well, it felt like hours but it was probably just a few minutes. Either way, he jumped in surprise when Zayn walked into his office, a folder in his hands.
"Niall's release about the new issue," he told him, tossing it onto the desk. "He's ripping us apart."
"About what this time?" Louis asked with a sigh.
"New management, says we're dull now, don't keep up with the times, less provocative, or something," Zayn shrugged.
"This isn't even my division, Zayn."
"Niall said you'd want a copy. Worst part is that he's not wrong."
Louis sighed. "I've tried to talk to Anne about changing some things. She doesn't think we need to. And if I want to keep my job, I have to do what she says," he told him.
"Like writing an article on anti-aging cream?"
Louis glared at him.
"Just tell her about your idea for the new Dolce ad. If she likes it, she'll put you in charge of the photo shoot. That's where you want to be anyway—photo editing and layouts, not articles," Zayn said softly.
Louis shook his head. "It's not worth it."
"What if she hates the idea?"
"She's not going to fire you for a bad idea," Zayn said, rolling his eyes.
"I don't want to risk it."
"You've had bad ideas before. You're still here."
The image of Harry was the first thing to pop into his mind because, yeah, that kid was a bad idea. "You've got that right," he muttered.
"I don't even know why she gives you the boring articles when she knows you're a good writer," Zayn told him.
Louis shrugged. "We all have to do the boring articles at some point."
"You've been doing them for five years," he pointed out.
"Then maybe my time is almost up," Louis told him with a cheeky grin. He glanced back towards his computer and frowned. "Where's Harry? He's supposed to be here with my tea by now."
"Haven't seen him," Zayn muttered, his jaw tightening.
"You've no right being upset with him, you know."
"You are, and he can tell."
"Are you seriously having his conversation with me when you're the one who barely talks to him in the first place?" Zayn asked incredulously.
"Fix it," Louis demanded. "And come to mine tonight after work."
"Do I get a choice?"
Louis pursed his lips, pretending to think about it before shaking his head. "Nope."
Zayn rolled his eyes, flipping him off before exiting the office, mumbling under his breath. He caught sight of Harry out of the corner of his eye, tea in hand. "That for Lou?"
Harry nodded. "The printer jammed and I had to fix it or I would've gotten it to him earlier."
"What's the printer got to do with his tea?" Zayn asked.
Harry looked down at the papers in his hand. "Just a little bit of research," he shrugged.
Zayn rolled his eyes. "Well, hurry on. He was ready for his tea hours ago. Then find me. We're having lunch."
"Together?" Harry asked.
"Okay," Harry mumbled before knocking on the door to Lou's office and walking in. "Morning, Mr. Tomlinson."
Louis glanced up from his computer. "Harry," he greeted, reaching for his tea and taking a cautious sip. "What's that?" He asked, motioning towards the papers in his intern's hands.
"Oh, just...a little bit of market research, really," Harry said with a shrug.
Louis set his tea down and held out his hand. "Well?"
"Oh." Harry shook his head and handed the papers over.
Louis flipped through them quickly. "What is all this?"
"Well, I know you have that article on the new anti-aging cream, so I did a little social media research. You know, finding out statistics and results and what the people think of it. Read all the three-star reviews because they list the pros and cons, that way you can make a counter argument and really get in touch with your readers," Harry explained, running a hand through his hair.
"I just got the article yesterday," Louis noted. "You did all of this just this morning?"
Harry shrugged again. "Didn't take that long really."
"Thank you," Louis whispered sincerely. "This is brilliant."
"Perhaps I'm not useless after all?" Harry smiled.
Louis didn't look at his dimple. (He didn't.) "Perhaps not. You're free to go to lunch."
"Brilliant. Zayn and I are gonna get something. If that's alright?" he added quickly.
"Of course. Enjoy," Louis said with a nod.
Not even a week and Harry knew what that nod meant. It meant we're done here, leave now in Tomlinson-Speak and Harry took advantage of it, stepping out of the office, shutting the door behind him before he went off looking for Zayn.
“Pizza alright with you?” Zayn asked, stubbing out his cigarette before leading Harry into the parlor.
Harry nodded. “I’m a teenager, of course it’s alright with me.”
Zayn smiled, nodding at the hostess (that he might’ve slept with once or twice—hey, it ensured that he always had a table which was convenient because Saporitalia was almost always busy) before he paid for an order that he placed before he even left work. “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?”
“We’ll eat back at the office.”
“Then why did I even come with you? I could’ve caught up on work so Lou—Mr. Tomlinson isn’t annoyed with me even further,” Harry muttered.
“He isn’t annoyed with you,” Zayn assured him as they walked back to the building. They sat in the lower lobby with their lunch, eating quickly and not talking.
Harry finished his pizza and bottle of water before sitting back in his seat, watching Zayn.
“What?” Zayn asked around a mouthful of pizza.
Harry shrugged. “You asked me to lunch, yet you’re not even talking to me. Which isn’t a surprise, you haven’t really talked to me in days.”
“About that,” Zayn mumbled, finishing his slice of pizza. “I was a bit of a twat. Took it out on you when you had nothing to do with it.”
“It’s alright,” Harry said with a shrug. “Didn’t know it was gonna piss you off, me going home with Lou.”
Zayn pursed his lips. “It didn’t. I was tired. That’s all.”
“We didn’t…do anything,” Harry said quietly. “We just ate and slept. If I had known you two were involved—“
“We’re not,” Zayn interrupted. “It’s…unprofessional. Let’s not talk about it.”
Harry smiled. “I’m an intern who isn’t around their boss. We don’t have to be professional right now,” he told him.
Zayn shook his head. “You might be able to convince others with that dimple of yours but not me.”
“I would never use my dimple for evil. How dare you,” Harry told him.
Zayn laughed. “He and I have been friends since year six. He interned here when he was your age, got a job, and hired me as his assistant when they let him. We’ve been here ever since.”
Harry nodded. “But you’re not involved sexually?”
“Not explicitly?” Zayn shrugged. “We fuck sometimes—usually only because we’re too stressed to go to a club or something. S’convenient.”
“I… He hates me, doesn’t he?” Harry asked suddenly.
“He doesn’t hate you.”
“I mean, I thought he did. We got on well at his flat. Maybe that was just because I made tacos, I don’t know. But now he barely talks to me,” Harry said, picking at a lose thread at the bottom of his blazer. “I thought it might’ve been because I’m gay but, if he’s sleeping with you, that obviously doesn’t bother him. So maybe it’s personal? I don’t know. Do you?” he rambled.
Zayn shook his head. “Not sure, mate. But he doesn’t hate you or he wouldn’t have hired you.”
“He didn’t. His boss approved my internship.”
“He had some say. He liked your CV enough,” Zayn replied with a shrug.
“It’ll be all right. I’ll talk to him. See if he can take it a bit easier on you, if you want?” he offered.
Harry shook his head. “No, it’s alright. I’ll be fine.”
“All right. Let’s go before Lou gets his panties in a twist,” he said with a smile.
Zayn had a thing about being in control. Which is why he never let Louis fuck him. But this time was different. He braced his hands on Lou's abs, fucking himself slowly; the burn of being stretched so wide was almost too much. Louis was sprawled out beneath him, eyes shut, a look of pure pleasure on his face as Zayn rode him. Little gasps were falling from Lou's mouth and Zayn knew he wasn't going to last.
"Look at me," he demanded, his voice deeper than normal.
Louis' blue eyes snapped open in time to see Zayn reach for his own leaking cock, gripping the base tightly. His eyes fell shut, dark eyelashes in stark contrast with how pale he looked with the moonlight falling through the window upon his skin. Lou had never seen him look more gorgeous than when he was being fucked slowly, pushed to the edge in such a leisurely manner; it drove him crazy. Zayn picked up the pace, fucking himself harder, faster, deeper upon Lou, jerking himself off in time until he felt Lou's abs contracting under his palm.
"You close?" he gasped out without slowing down.
Lou's only reply was a gasp of Zayn's name before he came, spilling deep inside of him.
Zayn groaned, seeing Lou fall apart beneath him was almost better than getting fucked (almost). He came without a sound, riding out the aftershocks of his orgasm, before climbing off of Louis. He disposed of the condom, tossing it into the bin, before collapsing next to him.
Louis reached for the tissues, cleaning himself off before handing one to Zayn.
"Thanks, mate," Zayn said, his voice hoarse. He cleaned himself off, tossing the tissues over the side of the bed, not caring where they landed.
"Fuck," Louis whispered, running a hand through his hair as he tried to even out his breathing.
Zayn smirked next to him. "Can you hand me my cigs?"
Louis scoffed. "No, you're not smoking in my flat."
"I'll open the window!"
"Nope," Louis said stubbornly.
"I'll suck your cock after?"
Louis paused. That sounded fair. He reached over the side of his bed for Zayn's trousers, pulling the cigs and a lighter from the back pocket and tossing them to him. "Still open the window," he told him.
Zayn smiled and did just that.
"And it better be the best blowjob of my life."
"It will be," Zayn promised with a grin. He took a slow drag of his cigarette, blowing the smoke out of the window, and he looked back at Louis. Even though he looked more relaxed, Zayn knew something else was going on. "Y'alright?"
Louis nodded. "M'great."
"Liar. What's going on in that pretty little head of yours?"
"Does it have to do with Harry?"
"And we have a winner," Zayn said, taking a slow drag from his cigarette. "What's going on with the two of you?"
“He thinks you hate him.”
Louis rolled his eyes. “I don’t hate him.”
“Well he thinks you do. Probably has something to do with you hardly ever speaking to him unless it’s ordering your tea,” Zayn said with a shrug.
“I like the way he makes my tea,” Louis said in his defense, reaching over to take Zayn’s cigarette away from him. He took a puff himself, leaning over his friend to blow the smoke out the window.
Zayn rolled his eyes, taking the cigarette back from Lou. “You should be a little nicer. Maybe engage in casual conversation with him. Ask how his boyfriend is doing, I don’t know.”
“He doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Lou said.
“Oh,” Zayn said with a knowing smile. “Is that the problem, then? He’s available?”
“He’s not available.”
“How does that work?”
Louis shrugged, taking Zayn’s cigarette from him again, causing him to roll his eyes. “They live together, fuck each other, and other people on the side if they want, I guess.”
“So theoretically, Harry could sleep with you?” Zayn asked, reaching for the cigarette to take one last drag before stubbing it out on the windowsill.
“We’re not going there. I’m not sleeping with him,” Louis said, settling back down against the pillows, running his fingertips up and down the top of Zayn’s thigh.
“If he wasn’t your intern, would you sleep with him?”
Louis sighed. “Zayn, don’t—“
“I’m just wondering! Because I would,” he shrugged, head falling back against the wall. Lou always had the distinct talent of being able to relax him no matter what. “Hell, I would even now. I know you wouldn’t fire me for it.”
“Go for it,” Louis replied.
“That wouldn’t bother you?” Zayn asked, his eyebrows raising.
“Of course not,” Louis said, fingers trailing up Zayn’s ribcage. (Lie, that’s a lie, his brain told him and, okay, it was but it didn’t matter because he didn’t plan on sleeping with Harry anyway. If Zayn wanted to sleep with him, fine. If Zayn wanted to fuck him, fine. He wasn’t bothered—he wouldn’t let himself be bothered.)
Zayn smiled to himself; he knew Lou well enough to know when he was lying, but he also knew him well enough to know when to not push a subject. “Alright, mate,” he said, running a hand through his hair before leaning down to press his lips against Lou’s throat. “Ready for that blow job?”
Lou laughed. “Been ready since you came on me. Didn’t know we were gonna get side tracked with girl talk,” he teased.
Zayn bit at the side of his throat. “Don’t be mean. I can leave whenever I want,” he told him.
Louis grabbed the hair at the base of his neck, pulling him up to give him a brief kiss before pushing him down the length of his body. “You wouldn’t dare.”
He shrugged; Louis was right, but he didn’t need to know that.
Harry rolled his eyes when he got home from work to see Nick sprawled on the couch, naked, lazily stroking himself. He set his bag down in the hallway, toed off his boots, and walked to the kitchen to get a beer. “Can’t you do that in the bedroom, mate? Jeeze,” he muttered, opening the bottle and taking a drink.
“Was waiting for you to get home,” Nick moaned.
“M’not in the mood, Nick,” Harry said.
“Long day at work?”
“Obviously,” he snapped.
Nick smiled, sitting up on the couch. “C’mere, love,” he motioned.
Harry sighed, walking over to Nick and setting his beer bottle on the table. “Nick, just go to the bloody bedroom. M’not in the mood to see you wank right now,” Harry insisted.
Nick reached around Harry’s knees, pulling him closer and pressing his lips against his shirt-clad stomach. “Not in the mood? You’re always in the mood,” he whispered, reaching to pull Harry’s shirt from his trousers, so he could trail his tongue across Harry’s abs.
Harry pushed at his shoulder. “Stop, Nick,” he said, trying to take a step back but Nick didn’t let him. “I said I’m not in the mood.”
“Well, I am,” Nick said, pulling Harry down until he was on his knees in front of the couch. He kissed the side of Harry’s neck, reaching for Harry’s hand and wrapping it around his length. “Been thinkin about you all day,” he moaned.
“Thought about coming on your pretty little face,” Nick said. “Would you like that?”
Harry closed his eyes, fingers tightening around Nick on instinct. Trust Nick to get him slightly interested when sex had been the furthest thing from his mind when he got home.
“You would like that, huh?” Nick asked, moving one hand to the base of Harry’s neck to grip his curls and force his mouth down towards his lap. “You’re such a slut for my cock, aren’t you, Haz?”
Harry licked his lips; he was only half-hard in his trousers and he was dying for a bath, but he knew Nick and once his mind was set, it was set. There’d be no point in backing away—it’d only cause an argument, one he was not in the mood for. He pressed his mouth to the crease of Nick’s thigh before slowly wrapping his lips around the head of his cock.
Nick groaned, forcing Harry’s mouth further down and tightening his grip in his curls. “God, you’re good at this,” he moaned, his head falling back against the couch. Harry relaxed his throat in order to allow Nick to thrust deeper in his throat. He gripped Nick’s thighs, employing all the tactics that he knew Nick enjoyed the most. Nick trembled beneath his touch, fucking Harry’s mouth faster, and his eyes slid open so he could take in the sight. “God, Haz, you’re beautiful like this,” he moaned. “So fucking ready for me, taking whatever I give you. Such a pretty little slut, aren’t you?” he rambled, his hand tightening painfully so in Harry’s curls. Harry reached around, pulling Nick’s hand away from his hair as his eyes began to water. “Gonna come,” Nick gasped, pushing at Harry’s shoulder; as his mouth popped off of his cock, he came, streams landing across Harry’s lips and chin.
Harry bit the inside of his cheek, the back of his hand wiping at the mess before wiping it off on his trousers—they needed washed anyway. He stood up and started walking towards the bathroom.
“Y’alright?” Nick asked, still breathless and boneless against the back of the couch.
“M’fine,” Harry said, tugging his shirt over his head and tossing it down the hallway.
“Why are you upset?”
“M’fine,” he repeated. “I just want to take a bath.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “If you’re pissed at me, just say so, Haz. Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it.”
“Piss off, Nick, I told you I wasn’t in the bloody mood,” Harry snapped.
“Seemed pretty in the mood to me,” Nick said with a shrug.
Harry scoffed. “Because there’s no stopping you when you get like that,” he said.
“Don’t be like that, Harry,” Nick spat. “You could’ve walked away. You never complain any other time I do that.”
“Any other time I don’t care. I told you I wasn’t in the mood,” he told him again.
“I didn’t mean—“
“I don’t care, Nick. I just want to take a bath.”
“I’m sorry if I hurt you,” he hesitated.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I don’t care about that. The pain isn’t what bothers me.”
Nick felt himself smile slightly. “Want me to return the favor after your bath?”
“No. I just want to be left alone. And I mean it. Go to a club or go on the pull to get someone to fuck tonight, I don’t care. I don’t want you touching me,” Harry snapped, walking into the bathroom and slamming the door shut behind him. He turned on the tub, stripping off his clothes, before climbing into the hot water. With a groan, he splashed some water on his face, cleaning up the dried cum he missed earlier. He didn’t mind Nick taking control, he rather liked it, but that was under any other circumstances. His mind was still preoccupied with work or, more appropriately, with Louis.
Nick didn’t sleep next to Harry that night. In fact, he didn’t sleep next to him for almost a week. Harry was reluctant to admit that he missed him. But ten days later, when Nick crawled under the covers next to an already naked Harry, whispering apologies and promises against his ear, he smiled. Harry laced his fingers with Nick’s, resting them against his lower abdomen, and he felt like he was finally home.
“You noticed something up with Harry this past week?” Zayn asked, setting Lou’s tea on his desk.
Lou looked up from his computer, moving to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose before he realized he wasn't wearing them. The contacts were a last minute decision because his glasses had been broken. He still wasn't quite used to it. "He’s been quiet. Why?”
“He got into a row with his…whatever he is,” Zayn shrugged before pausing. "Your face looks different. What did you do?"
Louis laughed. "Contacts. My glasses broke this morning."
"Hmm. You look..."
"Ridiculous?" he offered.
"Nice," Zayn said. "Different, but nice."
"Thanks," he mumbled, taking a drink of his tea. "Did Harry say anything to you?"
Zayn shook his head. "Nothing. Haven't seen him today, though. Friday he just mumbled something about doing research for you," he said with a quirk of his brow.
Lou bit his lip. "I might have asked him to do some research for me for this article."
Zayn sighed. "Christ, Lou, forget the article and work on a proposal for the photo shoot you want to do! Anne will let you; she's seen your work before and it's brilliant. She'll give you a shot, I know it," he told him.
Lou sighed. "Maybe, Zayn. I don't know. I'll think about it," he promised.
"Better than nothing," Zayn mumbled before leaving Lou's office, bumping into Harry on his way out.
"Sorry, mate," Harry apologized, walking past him to set his papers on Lou's desk. "Research is finished. I took it all home. Sorry I'm late."
"It's fine," Lou said, eyeing him up and down. "What's with the outfit?"
Harry blushed slightly. "Didn't have time to shower so I...just put on a beanie. My shirt’s okay, right?"
"It's...very plaid," Lou commented.
Harry paused, studying his boss. "You're wearing contacts."
It was Lou's turn to flush slightly and he busied himself with looking at his computer. "And?"
"You look...very handsome," Harry told him sincerely.
Lou shook his head but didn't hide his smile. "Thank you."
Harry nodded, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet before he sat down in one of the chairs across from Lou's desk. "So... You want to do a photo shoot for the magazine?"
"What did Zayn tell you?"
"Nothing. I was eavesdropping," he said with a grin.
"I've seen your photos. They're good."
"Thanks," Lou muttered. "But it's not going to happen."
"Because I have other priorities to focus on."
"But you really want to be a photographer, so why not just try? Anne likes you, she'll give you a shot," Harry said, "I'm sure of it."
"I don't want to talk about it," Lou said sternly.
"Why were you in such a bad mood last week?" Lou countered.
"I wasn't," Harry insisted, his eyes growing darker.
"Something you don't want to talk about?" Lou asked condescendingly.
"Don't patronize me," Harry said softly. "I was encouraging you to further your career. If I made you uncomfortable, I apologize, but the response to that shouldn't have been to attack my personal life," he told him.
Lou pursed his lips; he wasn't used to hearing Harry upset. Even when he and Zayn had literally run into each other the precious week, spilling tea down Harry's white shirt, he wasn't upset. He just laughed it off. This, though? He was upset. "You're right. That was unprofessional. I'm sorry."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm not offended because you're my boss, Lou. I'm hurt because I thought you were my friend," he confided before standing up, muttering something about making copies before exiting Lou's office before he could reply.
another late night planned. see you soon xx :)
Harry slipped his phone into his back pocket, following Louis into dark room. “You sure you don’t need any help developing these photos?”
Louis rolled his eyes; he hadn’t exactly invited Harry to join him, but he hadn’t tried to prevent it either. “I’m sure,” Louis told him, setting his bag down. He had developed the negatives earlier; he just wanted to make a couple of prints for his own collection. He had no intention letting anyone see them, but Harry had a way of doing whatever he wanted and Louis didn’t have the energy to stop him.
“I’ve never been in a dark room before,” Harry said, tugging his beanie off and running his fingers through his hair. He tossed his beanie onto his bag, watching as Louis started developing a couple of pictures. “Do you do this often?”
Louis shrugged. “When I need to relax? I enjoy the silence,” he said with a small smile, sending Harry a glance over his shoulder.
Harry had the decency to look slightly ashamed. “Sorry.”
“S’alright,” Louis said. He set the photograph into the solution, flipping it over before hanging it up to dry. “I don’t usually let people see my photos.”
“I feel special,” Harry commented, walking over to the counter and jumping up on it.
Louis ignored him, just barely, developing a couple more photos and hanging them up to dry before he finally looked at Harry, who had taken to knocking his heels back against the counter. “Your hair’s a mess.”
Harry flushed, scratching at the back of his neck. “Sorry.”
“I like it,” Lou said quietly.
“Feel like it makes me look even younger,” he shrugged.
“Well, you’re already only a teenager, how much younger could you be?”
“Pre-teen,” Harry answered automatically. “And I’m eighteen! I’m not that young.”
“You’re seven years younger than me—you’re young,” Louis said. There was no reason for him to point out their age gap; he just considered it a friendly reminder to himself that he wasn’t supposed to go there.
“Is that a bad thing?” Harry asked.
Louis’ eyebrows rose. “Is what?”
He shrugged. “That I’m younger than you.”
“Just a fact,” Lou answered. He inspected the photos that were hanging up close to Harry’s head, doing what he could to ignore the feel of Harry’s eyes on him. The red glow of the light was casting shadows upon his bone structure and Lou refused to admit that Harry was gorgeous. (Though, refusal to admit was technically admittance in and of itself, but that wasn’t the point.)
Harry bit his lip, watching the way the tendon’s in Lou’s neck worked under his skin, admiring the way studied his photographs. “You’re a great photographer, Lou. If you showed these to Anne—“
“Stop while you’re ahead, Harry,” Louis suggested.
Harry smiled, reaching a hand out to trail over the skin of Lou’s forearm where he had pushed up the sleeves of his white button-up.
Lou’s hand clenched into a fist on top of the counter.
“Is that what you want?” Harry asked softly.
“Harry…” Lou sighed. “We shouldn’t—“
“But you want to, yeah?”
“I—I can’t, Harry,” he whispered.
Harry smiled softly, fingers gripping the edge of Lou’s shirt and pulling him closer. “So you do want to,” Harry clarified, scooting over further and wrapping one of his legs around Lou’s hip. He jerked him closer, hands resting on his slim hips. “Right?”
Louis ducked his head.
“There’s no harm in it, y’know,” he assured him, sliding his hands up the front of his chest, toying with the buttons of his shirt. “We’re both consenting adults—“
“You’re eighteen, Harry,” Louis choked out.
Harry smirked, tilting his head up until their noses brushed and they were practically sharing the same breath. “That makes it more fun, yeah? The refractory period for me could make this really interesting,” he added, fingers deftly undoing the first couple of buttons on Lou’s shirt. His eyes never left Lou’s lips, noting the way his tongue darted out to lick them nervously, and he smiled.
“We could, though,” Harry told him, unbuttoning Lou’s shirt all the way, pulling it from his trousers so he could slide his hands over his abdomen. “Would you want to fuck me over this counter?” he wondered, pressing his lips to the side of Lou’s neck. He felt his pulse quicken and smiled against the skin. “I would let you. Would even blow you while you’re developing pictures, if that’s what you wanted. God, have I thought about that,” he panted against his neck, hands slipping to the button of his trousers and undoing them. His fingers trailed across the soft skin above his belt, teasing, and he pulled back long enough to catch a glimpse of a flush on Lou’s cheeks and his blue eyes fluttering shut. “Wanna blow you in your office, Zayn right outside the door, feel your thighs trembling because you’re afraid he might walk in,” he whispered.
“God, Harry, your mouth is gonna get you in trouble one day,” Lou remarked, his breathing uneven as he moved his hands to grip the sides of Harry’s thighs.
Harry smiled. “Heard that one before,” he smirked, sliding his right hand against the front of Lou’s pants, rubbing him through the fabric. He wasn’t even surprised to find him hard and leaking, heavy against his palm. “Turns you on though, doesn’t it? Thought of my lips around you, haven’t you? I’d be good, I promise. Make it worth your while,” he told him, rubbing his palm against him. Harry locked his ankles behind Lou’s back, pressing their groins together and he let out of a soft moan.
Lou groaned when their cocks pressed together through the layers of fabric. His hands slid further up Harry’s thighs, gripping him tight and pulling him closer to the edge of the counter, changing the angle and causing Harry to moan a little bit louder. He decided then that the sounds Harry made might’ve been more arousing than anything else.
Harry’s left hand gripped Lou’s hair, dragging his mouth closer to his own. “Wanna kiss you,” he panted against his lips, rubbing himself off against Lou. “Wanna feel your lips around my cock, around my hole, all over me. Do you want that, too?”
Lou gasped against his lips, hands reaching for Harry’s hips as he thrust against him. He was so close, so close, and Harry’s mouth was so filthy that he couldn’t stand it.
“Can I suck you? Please can I suck you, Lou? S’all I can think about,” Harry whispered against his lips.
Lou’s tongue darted out to wet his lips, surprised when Harry’s tongue followed his own, tracing the inside of his mouth quickly. He bit Harry’s bottom lip, eliciting a moan from the younger boy, and he pulled back because his mind was consumed with yes, yes, I want your lips around my cock right now. “Yeah. Yeah,” he nodded.
Harry grinned against his lips, kissing him chastely before hopping off the counter and pressing Lou back roughly against the opposite wall. He fell to his knees, dragging Lou’s trousers and pants down over his hips, and he pressed his nose against the trail of hair leading from Lou’s abdomen to his cock. Harry moaned and gripped him tightly, sliding his tongue over the vein on the underside of his cock before sliding his lips over him sucking him in a way that showed he clearly knew what he was doing.
Lou’s hands fisted in Harry’s hair, his head falling back against the wall and a shameless groan falling from his lips. He wasn’t going to last, not with the way Harry was moaning around him, the vibrations sending him closer to the edge. He tightened his hands in Harry’s curls, his name slipping from his lips along with a muffled warning that he was close. Harry slid a hand between Lou’s legs, fingers trailing over his balls to press at the sensitive skin behind them. “Harry, gonna—“ Lou groaned, unable to get the warning out before he came down Harry’s throat. He fell back against the wall, legs weak and he struggled to catch his breath.
Harry sat back on his heels, mouth obscenely red and wet and fuck, had he always been that attractive, Lou asked himself. Harry wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, a smile on his face before he slipped a hand into his trousers, jerking himself off quickly, his eyes never leaving Lou’s. When he came, Lou’s name was on his lips. It was almost enough to make Lou hard again, but he wasn’t eighteen and his refractory period wasn’t as interesting as Harry’s.
“Fuck,” Lou whispered as Harry wiped his hands off on his pants before buttoning his trousers up again.
“Next time?” Harry teased, standing up, a sated smile on his face. He wrapped his arms around Lou’s waist and leaned in to kiss him.
Lou turned his head, Harry’s lips landing on his cheek, and he pushed him away.
Harry frowned but took a step back anyway. “Are you joking?”
Lou sighed, buttoning up his shirt and tucking it back into his trousers.
“You’re not going to kiss me but you’ll let me suck your dick?” Harry scoffed, shaking his head. “What is your problem?”
“Don’t, Harry,” Louis warned.
“No, you don’t get to tell me what we can and can’t talk about. I know you’re not in the closet, so what is your problem? Am I not good enough for you or something?”
“What?” Louis asked incredulously. “Is that what you think?”
“What am I supposed to think?” Harry spat. “I’m good enough to suck you off, let you come down my throat, rub off against me, whatever—but you won’t kiss me?”
Louis sighed. “It’s just a kiss, Harry,” he whispered.
Harry laughed bitterly, buttoning his trousers, pulling on his beanie, and grabbing his bag. “Fuck you, Lou. I thought… I don’t know what I thought,” he admitted, “but this isn’t what I had in mind.”
“I’m sure it’s exactly what you had in mind,” Louis muttered.
“Fuck you, Louis,” Harry repeated, slinging the strap of his bag over his shoulder before walking past Louis and storming out of the dark room. Thankfully it was late enough that no one was in the office to witness his almost-walk-of-shame. He knew his lips were red and swollen, indicative of a good time that he almost wished he could forget, and he couldn’t believe that he could be so stupid.
He needed a drink. And he needed someone to fuck him senseless until he forgot about Lou, even if it was only for a couple of hours.
“Nick?” Harry yelled, walking into the door of their flat. “Grimmy, you here?” He passed the living room, frowning when he didn’t find Nick there or in the kitchen. He retreated to the bedroom, kicking off his shoes and trousers, looking for a fresh pair of pants and jeans. “Of course you aren’t home,” he sighed. He changed his pants, sliding on a pair of skinny jeans and a fresh white shirt. He dug his phone out of his bag and dialed Nick.
“Harry, what’s going on?”
“Where are you?” Harry asked softly.
“Working, love. Is something wrong?”
Harry sighed. “No,” he said, sitting down on the bed. “When are you gonna be home?”
“Probably not until late. The guys and I are going to a late dinner after. I thought you’d be working late? You have been all week.”
“Not tonight,” Harry muttered. “I just wanted to see you?”
Nick sighed. “Harry, I have to work, I’m sorry. Someone’s gotta pay for the flat.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “We’re seriously getting into this right now? How many times have I offered to help you pay?”
“How many times?” he demanded. “And how many times have you said that it’s not necessary? Fuck, is today Piss Harry Off Day or something?”
“Fuck off, Nick. I called because I missed you, and I had a bad day at work, and I’m horny as fuck but no. No. You go work. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he snapped, hanging up on Nick and tossing his phone behind him. He marched into the kitchen, grabbing a beer from the refrigerator, before climbing back onto his bed. He took a slow drink and decided that he did not want to be alone. He didn’t exactly have an extensive list of friends, but there had to be someone who wouldn’t mind hanging out with him for the night.
He unlocked his phone, scrolling through the contacts on his phone. He didn’t want to talk to his mum or sister, Lou was beyond out of the question, Nick obviously had other plans, and— Zayn. Why didn’t he think about him earlier? Harry’s thumb hesitated over Zayn’s name; sure they were friends at work, texting occasionally throughout the week and weekend. But he wasn’t sure if texting him at half seven on a Monday night was a good idea. He selected Zayn’s number before letting himself think about it too much.
“Hey, what’s up?” Harry asked, struggling for casual conversation.
“Nothin much. Just about to order some takeaway. What about you?”
“Um…same. Just without the takeaway, actually,” Harry said.
Zayn laughed. “What’s going on?”
“Um, look, I’m just going to be honest with you, yeah?”
“Honesty’s the best policy.”
“Can I come over? I just. It’s been a long day—a bad one, actually, and Nick isn’t here, and I really don’t want to be alone. Is that—Would that be okay? If you aren’t busy, of course,” Harry added as an afterthought. He hated rambling and he wasn’t even that nervous so he wasn’t even sure why he was anxious.
“That’d be fine. Do you like Thai?”
Harry smiled. “I’ll eat anything,” he said with a shrug.
“I’ll text you my address. I’ll see you in a bit, yeah?”
“Yeah, of course. Thanks, Zayn,” he replied.
“Of course, Harry.”
Harry set his phone down next to him, dragging on his blazer before slipping his wallet into the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled on his boots, looking at the message Zayn sent him, before he grabbed his beer bottle. He finished it quickly, tossing it in the trash before leaving his flat and locking the door behind him. Zayn didn’t live too far away, only a couple of blocks, and Harry didn’t mind walking. When he got to Zayn’s flat, Zayn was standing outside, paying the delivery guy and he waved at Harry.
“Hey, did you walk all the way here?” Zayn asked, leading him into his flat.
“Yeah,” Harry said, toeing off his boots.
“You don’t live that far, I suppose. Kitchen’s this way,” he said, pointing to the left. “Beer’s in the fridge. Can you grab me one?”
Harry nodded, walking towards the fridge and grabbing two beers before joining Zayn on the couch. He was surprised by how comfortable he felt in someone’s flat but he supposed it didn’t matter.
“I was about to put on a film. Any preferences?”
“No,” Harry said with a shrug.
“Have you seen the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?” Zayn asked. “It’s brilliant.”
Zayn stood up, sliding the disc into the player. “I think you’ll like it. Naked Daniel Craig and all.”
“Who wouldn’t like that?” Harry asked with a smile.
He laughed. “Right?”
Zayn opened up the containers and propped his feet up on the table in front of the couch. “Get comfortable. The movie’s a long one.”
Harry settled down on the couch, intent to enjoy food, movie, and company. When the credits rolled almost three hours later, Harry was laying with his head in Zayn’s lap. “That was brilliant. But why can’t I be naked with Daniel Craig? Hardly seems fair.”
Zayn laughed, running his fingers through Harry’s curls. “Y’alright?”
Harry nodded, turning over to lie on his back. “That feels nice,” he said softly.
Zayn continued to stroke Harry’s curls, fingertips scratching at his scalp. “You said you had a bad day earlier. Anything you wanna talk about?”
“Just Lou being Lou, I ‘spose,” he said with a shrug. He was feeling more and more relaxed by the minute.
“What did he do? Do you want me to fight him?” Zayn asked softly and he stopped stroking Harry’s scalp.
Harry laughed. “No, it’s all right. But thank you.”
“Sit up,” Zayn told him.
Harry pouted. “But I’m comfortable.”
Zayn tossed a pillow onto the floor between his feet. “Sit there.”
“Just do it.”
Harry sat up automatically, moving to sit down on the pillow between Zayn’s legs. “You’re so bossy.”
“Are you surprised?” Zayn asked, scooting further to Harry so he could tilt his head down, thumbs resting on either side of his spine and he started to massage the skin beneath him. “You let Lou stress you out too much.”
Harry’s head fell forward almost automatically. He knew he was stressed, he knew he was tense, but he wasn’t sure just how stressed until Zayn started rubbing at his sore muscles. “Can’t help it. You know how he is,” he said.
Zayn’s decision to give Harry an impromptu-massage was two-fold; first, Harry would be more relaxed and open up to him as to why he was so upset and second, who wouldn’t want to touch Harry? The kid had everyone enamored at the office and Zayn wasn’t clueless as to why. He massaged the sides of his neck, right under his hairline. “He’s definitely something else.”
“Did he tell you I blew him in the dark room?” Harry asked.
Zayn hesitated, just briefly, before his hands moved down closer to Harry’s shoulders. “He didn’t.”
“Well. I did,” he said quietly.
“And that made your day bad? Normally sex makes a day better,” Zayn teased.
“No, that was the highlight of my day. He’s got a great cock.”
Zayn laughed. “That he does.”
Harry sighed. “Does he… Does he ever… Never mind,” he said, shaking his head.
“No, what is it?” Zayn asked, fingertips digging into the juncture of his shoulder where it met his neck.
“Does he ever kiss you?”
Zayn shrugged. “Occasionally. It’s always brief, though. I think he’d rather have his lips around a cock than on someone’s mouth. Why?”
“He didn’t kiss me after I got him off, pushed me away and everything,” Harry told him sadly. “I mean, it’s not like I expected anything. But he just…looked at me like I was disgusting.”
“You’re not disgusting, Harry. Don’t let him make you feel like that,” Zayn told him.
Harry leaned over slightly, allowing Zayn’s hands to trace his shoulders. “You’re really good at this.”
“At the massage or being an encouraging and supportive friend?” Zayn teased.
“Both,” Harry said.
“Do you feel better?”
Harry paused, he definitely felt more relaxed, but he was still wound up. It was a combination of residual tension left over from Lou and new tension from the feel of Zayn’s hands on his body. “A little.”
“A little? And here I thought my hands were magic,” Zayn said with a sad sigh.
“They are, that’s the problem,” Harry told him, turning around on the pillow so that he was kneeling in front of Zayn.
Zayn’s hands rested on Harry’s shoulders, tracing the skin beneath his shirt. “Is it?”
Harry nodded, setting his hands on the outside of Zayn’s thighs. “Would you kiss me after I got you off?” he asked innocently, green eyes wide.
“Before and after,” Zayn told him.
A smile graced Harry’s lips and he leaned forward, kissing the side of Zayn’s neck. “Made me feel so good, wanna make you feel good,” he whispered, mouthing against Zayn’s pulse point. “Would you let me?”
“Would you ask nicely?” Zayn asked.
Harry’s eyes fluttered shut when Zayn’s voice dropped an octave. “God, yes,” he moaned, biting the side of Zayn’s neck. He pulled away, hands reaching towards Zayn’s belt. “Been thinking about you since I walked in on you dancing in the break room. The way you move your hips, fuck, I wanna suck you off so badly. I’d make you feel so good, Zayn, I promise. I’d make it worth your while, let you fuck my mouth if you wanted,” Harry told him, undoing his belt. “Can I?”
Zayn nodded, lifting his hips off the couch so Harry could pull off his trousers and pants.
“Fuck,” Harry breathed, eyes landing on Zayn’s cock. He was thicker than he expected and beautiful. He pressed a kiss to the vein underneath before wrapping his lips around the head, tonguing at the slit. He wanted to tease him but that would have to wait for next time (if there was a next time…) because he was too wound up. He spread his fingers along the inside of Zayn’s thighs, gripping them tightly as he slid his mouth further down his length.
Zayn bit his bottom lip, fisting his hand in Harry’s hair, pressing him further down slowly. Harry moaned around him, one hand slipping around the base of his dick to grip him tightly. Zayn stroked the back of Harry’s neck before pulling him off of him, leaning down to press their lips together. He could taste himself on Harry’s tongue and he reached for his hips. “Take these off. They’re in the way,” he told him. Harry nodded, standing up and removing his trousers and pants and Zayn grabbed his hips again, pulling him closer and pressing his lips to the soft skin beneath his navel. Harry bit his lip in an effort to keep himself from moaning. “Do you have a condom?”
Harry nodded, reaching for his trousers and pulling out a condom and a packet of lube. He handed them over to Zayn before straddling his lap, their cocks pressing together and Harry panted against Zayn’s lips. “C’mon, you gonna fuck me or what?”
Zayn smiled, ripping open the condom packet and sliding it over his length. “What’d I tell you about asking nicely?”
“Mmm,” Harry scratched his nails down the front of Zayn’s chest. “Do you wanna fuck me?” he asked, pressing his lips to Zayn’s earlobe before running his tongue down the side of his neck.
“Want you to ride me,” Zayn told him, opening the packet of lube and spreading it across his fingers. He pressed his fingers against Harry’s opening, slipping two in without warning, watching Harry moan and tighten around him. “Ride my fingers,” he demanded.
Harry nodded, pushing himself back against Zayn and urging him to add a third. “Fuck, Zayn,” he muttered, hand gripping Zayn’s shoulder as he struggled to balance himself. “Please will you fuck me? Want you to fill me up, fuck me ‘til I forget my name,” he rambled, moans falling from his lips. “Please, Zayn, fuck, I—“
Zayn kissed him then, cutting him off mid-ramble, and removed his fingers from his hole. He spread the excess lube over his cock, grabbing the back of Harry’s thighs before pulling him a little closer. He slipped his tongue into Harry’s mouth before lowering him onto his length, swallowing his moans as Harry dug his fingertips into his hips.
“Fuck,” he breathed, pulling away from Zayn to pant against his neck.
It didn’t take any more encouragement than that before Harry braced himself on Zayn’s abdomen, fucking himself in earnest. The sound of skin-on-skin was loud in the otherwise quiet room; Harry’s moans more audible than Zayn’s. Harry clenched tighter around him as Zayn hit his spot with each thrust of his hips.
Zayn leaned closer, pressing his lips against Harry’s throat. “Tell me how good I feel,” he insisted, biting Harry’s neck.
Harry groaned, his left hand slipping to the back of Zayn’s neck, encouraging him to mark him. “Fuck, Zayn, feel so good inside me, so big,” he panted, enunciating his words with each thrust. He tightened his grip in Zayn’s hair as he rode him harder. He wrapped his free hand around himself, knowing he was close. “Gonna—“
Zayn gripped Harry’s hips, burying himself deep inside as he came, a moan falling from his lips.
Harry continued to ride him until he came himself, spilling over his fist and Zayn’s name on his lips. He hesitated before slowly climbing off of Zayn and falling back against the couch, breathing heavily.
Zayn removed the condom, tying it off and tossing it into one of their empty containers from dinner, before reaching for his cigarettes. He lit one up, leaning back against the couch and blowing smoke into the air.
“You’re gorgeous,” Harry commented, blindly reaching for a napkin on the table before cleaning himself off as best he could.
“Not so bad yourself,” Zayn said with a wink, taking another drag from his cigarette.
Harry pouted. “Smoking shouldn’t be so attractive, you know.”
Zayn laughed, settling himself between Harry’s legs and laying down on top of him. “Shouldn’t it?” he asked, taking a slow drag and blowing the smoke out next to Harry’s face.
“Mhmm,” Harry decided, sliding his fingertips up the length of Zayn’s spine.
Zayn held the cigarette to Harry’s lips, watching him take a drag and release the smoke before pressing their lips together. “That was nice,” he told him.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Just nice? I was aiming for phenomenal or something,” he told him with an easy laugh. He’d had one-night stands before (if he could even consider Zayn that) but he’d never been so comfortable around someone. It was probably because he and Zayn were already friends, but he didn’t really care.
Zayn finished his cigarette, stubbing it out on the ashtray on the coffee table, before he allowed Harry to wrap his arms around his waist. “Phenomenal sounds about right, actually,” he decided.
“That’s what I thought,” Harry said with a smile, resting his head on Zayn’s shoulder as they snuggled together on the couch.
Louis was on pins and needles waiting for Harry to show up the next morning. He knew it was going to be awkward, uncomfortable, and probably a multitude of other adjectives that weren’t available to his mind in that moment. He made his own tea since he showed up early and studied the photographs he had developed the previous day. With a sigh, he put them in his portfolio and rubbed his hands over his face. Everything was reminding him of Harry and with good reason.
At exactly nine o’clock, there was a tentative knock on his door and Anne walked in, a manila folder in her hand.
“Good morning, Anne,” Louis said with a small smile.
“Louis,” she greeted. “How’s your intern working out?”
“Cutting right to the chase, aren’t you?” Louis laughed. “He’s doing well.”
“He’s been helping you with the research for your articles, hasn’t he?” Anne asked.
Louis nodded. “Yes. I’ve been rather swamped and he offered to help.”
“He’s good. Have you been paying attention to what Niall Horan has been posting on social media about us?”
“I’ve heard a little bit from Zayn, yes,” Louis told her.
“I’ve been thinking about a new direction, to keep us current. Harry seems like he could be a real asset to our team. What do you think?” Anne asked him, sitting down in the seat across from his desk.
“What sort of asset? You do know his internship is until August, don’t you?”
Anne smiled and nodded. “I do. I think he could be an asset to keeping us…hip,” she told him. “I know, I know—I’m a fifty year old woman, what do I know about being hip?” she teased.
“I wasn’t thinking that at all, Anne. You’re the hippest woman I know,” Lou told her with a wide smile.
“I want him to start posting on your blog. Your readers like you. You’re young, he’s young, you guys can keep our younger readers interested,” Anne told him.
“You want us to run a blog?”
“Or just take turn posting articles on whatever subject you want, as long as it’s relevant to our magazine,” she added.
Lou nodded slowly. “Of course. If that’s what you want.”
Anne smiled. “It is. Has anyone come to you with a plan for the new Dolce advertisement?” she asked.
Lou hesitated. This is your moment, this is your moment, his mind was screaming at him. He wanted to say yes, I have ideas, I have a plan but his words were failing him. He settled for shaking his head. “Not yet. I’ll have one by the end of the week.”
“See to it that you do. You’re talented, Lou,” Anne told him, standing up. “You could go far if you wanted to.”
“I do want to.”
Anne set the manila folder on his desk. “Here’s what they’re competing with. They want something bold, something that will jump off the page and attract readers, but something different. I trust you’ll come up with something brilliant. You always do.”
Lou flushed slightly. “Thank you. I’ll have something by then.”
“Good,” she said before walking out of his office.
Louis sighed. It was rare for Anne to make her presence known in his office, and even rarer for her to give him an assignment face-to-face, usually using her assistant. And, hell, Louis could’ve kicked himself to not taking the opportunity to show her his photographs and tell him that he wanted to shoot the Dolce ad, that he had a clear vision for it, but he panicked and he hated himself for it. He didn’t even notice that it was almost half-ten when Zayn stumbled into his office.
“I am so sorry, Lou, my phone died and my alarm didn’t go off,” he apologized.
Lou paused, taking in Zayn’s disheveled appearance. He didn’t put in his contacts, opting to wear his glasses, there was no product in his hair, and his white button up with slightly wrinkled, though he tried to hide it with his black leather jacket. “It’s all right, Z. You’re late once in three years, it’s not a big deal,” he told him with a small smile. “Late night?”
Zayn flushed, scratching the back of his neck. “Kind of, yeah. I’m so sorry, Lou. I forgot to charge my phone when I got home—“
“I bet you did,” Lou teased.
“Yeah, and it died and,” Zayn shook his head. “I’m just sorry.”
“It’s all right,” Lou repeated. “I’m not upset.”
“Well, I will be upset if I don’t find Harry. I haven’t seen the kid all morning,” Lou said, opening the browser on his computer. “Anne stopped by, and I need to discuss something with him.”
Zayn’s eyes widened. “Oh, I haven’t seen him,” he told him.
Lou nodded. “Well, if you do, can you send him to me?”
“Of course, Lou,” Zayn said, turning to walk out of his office when Lou stopped him.
“Did you talk to Harry last night?” he asked quietly.
“Um, a little bit, yeah,” Zayn nodded.
“Did he say anything about me? About…yesterday?”
“No,” he said with a shake of his head. “I just got the feeling that he was upset.”
Lou sighed. “I really have to apologize. I messed up.”
“Come over tonight? I’ll tell you then?” Lou said.
Zayn nodded. “Yeah, sure. I’ll go see if I can find Harry for you.”
Zayn smiled before slipping out of Lou’s office, letting out a breath he had been holding. He ran his hands over his face before walking towards the break room where Harry was making himself a cup of tea.
Harry looked over at him and smiled. “Lou upset?”
“No. He didn’t even know you were late, so there’s that,” Zayn said.
“You all right?”
He nodded. “He wants to see you.”
“All right,” Harry said, patting Zayn on the arm as he walked by him and towards Lou’s office. He knew it wasn’t written all over his face that he had sex with Zayn, and he knew it wasn’t obvious. Hell, it wasn’t even wrong since Harry could have sex with whomever he wanted. But there was a part of him that felt like he had betrayed Lou, even though there was a bigger part of him saying that it was kind of Louis’ fault for being a dick to him in the first place. He knocked on the door to Lou’s office before slipping inside quietly. “Zayn said you wanted to see me?”
Louis nodded, sitting back in his chair and studying him. “Where’ve you been?”
“Doing stuff…” he trailed off. “Things. I was working on things. Stuff and things.”
“Were you late as well?”
Harry pursed his lips. “It was purely on accident. I ran into Zayn right outside the building. I forgot something at home.”
Lou studied him closely—there was something different about him, but he wasn’t sure just what.
“Um, I’m glad you wanted to talk to me, though. Because I wanted to talk to you about yesterday,” Harry told him.
Lou cleared his throat. “We really don’t have to talk about that,” he said, reaching for some papers on his desk just to have something to occupy his hands with.
“We do. I wanted to apologize. I might’ve said some things that—“
“Wait,” Lou said, holding up a hand. “There’s something different about you today. What is it?”
Harry froze. “I don’t…know? I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.
“That shirt. I’ve seen it before.”
Harry looked down at the plaid shirt he nicked from Zayn’s closet. Shit shit shit. “It’s…y’know, it’s a plaid shirt?”
“Zayn has one just…like it,” Louis trailed off, and finally it all clicked. Harry was wearing Zayn’s shirt. Zayn was late, and Harry claimed to have run into him outside. That would explain Zayn’s strange behavior and the way that Harry was fidgeting in front of him. “Oh.”
“I can explain, Lou—“
“Don’t,” Louis cut him off. “It’s not a big deal.”
“It’s not?” Harry asked.
“No, you can go.”
Harry let out a sigh. “Okay. I’ll go…do something productive.”
“No, I mean you can go,” Louis repeated.
“Take the rest of the day off. We’ve nothing pressing today.”
“I’d like you to leave,” Louis rephrased. “Come back tomorrow, on time, in your own clothes. Perhaps we’ll talk then.” He turned towards his computer and started typing nonsense into a random word document, hoping to signify to Harry that he was done with the conversation.
Harry could feel tears pricking behind his eyelids, but he refused to let them fall. No. That was not going to happen. He nodded. “Yes, Mr. Tomlinson,” he managed to say before stepping out of the office and closing the door behind him.
Zayn looked up from his desk, brown eyes wide. “You all right? He upset?”
“Oh, he’s upset,” Harry said with a shrug. “He told me to go.”
“He fired you?”
Harry shook his head. “No. He sent me home after realizing I was in your shirt.”
“Shit,” Zayn cursed. “The very nerve of him!”
“What are you on about?”
“After all the times he said he didn’t care if I slept with you, he freaks out like this?” Zayn asked quietly.
“You two talked about me?” Harry asked.
“Not like that,” Zayn said with a sigh. “Shit. No matter how I say it, it’s going to sound bad.”
“Especially right now. I’m just going to go. I’ll wash your shirt and bring it back tomorrow,” he promised. As he walked out of the office and towards his flat, he had never felt so defeated. He had intended to apologize to Lou; he had legitimately felt bad for responding so negatively the day before. But the second Lou realized he was in Zayn’s clothes, the look that flashed over his face, it was worse than when Lou pushed him away in the dark room. He still looked disgusted, but it was different in the light of day that under some red lights in an enclosed space. And even though Harry did nothing wrong, he still felt like dirt.
Harry didn’t cry until he was in the comfort of his own home. He knew Nick wouldn’t be back for at least an hour, and he wanted to take advantage of that. He drew himself a bath, kicking off his shoes and clothes while the tub filled up with water and lavender scented bubbles. He wandered out to the kitchen naked, grabbing a bottle of wine from the cupboard before pouring a glass and walking back into the bathroom. He turned the water off and climbed in, setting the glass on the edge of the tub, and running his hands over his face.
His internship was just supposed to be something to do over the summer to keep him busy. He didn’t even care about the bloody magazine, not really. Or, well, he hadn’t. But now? Now he was starting to. He was starting to care about every little part about it, especially the parts that made Lou’s life stressful. He wanted to take on as much as he could just to see Lou smile. And that—that wasn’t healthy. It couldn’t be.
He had Nick. And he was happy with…whatever they had. It’d been a year and things weren’t stellar, but they definitely weren’t worse. He had a flat to stay in since he was still saving up to afford one on his own, he had sex whenever he wanted it (with whoever he wanted, actually), and he had… Well, that was really it. He had never thought about his and Nick’s relationship because he never thought there was anything to think about. And now he didn’t even know where he wanted to be, and that frustrated him more than anything.
And then there was Lou. Fucking Lou. He couldn’t even hate the guy and he didn’t know why. When they were alone, things were fine. Hell, Lou couldn’t have hated him that much or the whole dark room incident wouldn’t have happened. He knew Lou wanted him, and he wanted Lou, but he couldn’t figure it out. He knew Lou was older—that was probably what he liked most about him (besides the rare smile directed towards him, the way he looked in his glasses when they worked late, the way he always ordered extra rice from Harry’s favorite Chinese takeaway for lunch).
But Harry didn’t like the way Lou looked at him earlier, in the dark room and in his office after realizing that he had gone home with Zayn. Harry had never felt ashamed of his sexuality or his conquests before; he never felt ashamed about his relationship with Nick before he met Lou.
“Hazza? Are you alright?”
Harry looked up, unaware that he had been crying until Nick kneeled next to him. “I’m fine,” he told him with a shrug.
Nick rolled his eyes. “You’re not.”
“Then why did you ask in the first place?”
“Seemed like the right thing to do,” he said with a shrug before settling onto the tile next to the tub.
Harry scoffed, rubbing at his eyes. “I hate crying.”
“Or so you say; you do it often enough that no one would know.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I don’t cry that much,” he whispered and wiped at his eyes again; he couldn’t seem to stop the tears falling from his eyes, and the only thing he could think of was fuck you, Louis.
“Is it your boss?”
He nodded, muttering under his breath. “He’s an idiot.”
Nick smiled. “Obviously. Do you want to quit?”
“No,” Harry said, shaking his head. “M’not a quitter.”
Nick reached out and ran his hands through Harry’s curls, massaging his scalp. “I’m not so good at talking about feelings. Can I just blow you until you feel better?”
Harry laughed. Everything was so easy with Nick, and he didn’t know why it couldn’t be that easy with Louis. Hell, things had even been easy with Zayn. “Yeah. You can do that.”
Zayn might’ve been furious with Louis, but he knew that if he didn’t get him something for lunch, he wouldn’t eat. He walked into his office with a bag of takeaway and set it on his desk.
Louis looked up, a small smile on his face. “Thank you.”
“Only did it because if you die, I have to find a new job, and I hate job searching,” Zayn said, sitting down across from him and folding his arms over his chest.
“I appreciate the sentiment,” Louis said softly, opening the bag and taking out the containers. “Did you get yourself anything?”
“M’not hungry,” Zayn told him.
Louis took a bit of his burger, chewing slowly when he realized Zayn was still staring him down. “What?”
“You’re a bloody idiot.”
“I’m sorry?” Louis asked.
“What is your problem, Louis? Are you so dedicated to being miserable and work-obsessed that you have to bring down everyone else who isn’t like you?” Zayn questioned.
Louis paused, his eyes widened behind his glasses. “What are you talking about?”
“How many times did we talk about Harry?”
“What does he have to do with anything?” Louis asked, his voice quiet.
“You know bloody well what he has to do with it, Louis. He told me what happened in the dark room,” Zayn said.
“Before or after you fucked him?” Louis snapped.
Zayn rolled his eyes. “Is that what you’re mad about? That I had sex with him?”
“You’re such a liar. You told me that you didn’t care if I had sex with him.”
“I don’t,” Louis said with a shrug.
Zayn nodded. “Then why did you send him home after you saw he was wearing my shirt?”
Louis paused. “He was? Weird.”
“Don’t play stupid, Lou. You’re jealous. And I don’t know why since you keep saying you’re not into the kid,” Zayn told him.
Louis sighed. “I’m not into him, Zayn,” he said quietly.
“That’s a lie and you know it, Lou. You like him—you just don’t want to.”
Louis ran his hands through his hair. “What do you want me to say? Do you want me to call him and tell him to come back in? What do you want?”
“I want you to be honest. If you want to try things out with him, Lou, then go for it. And let me know. You know I’d back off in a heartbeat,” Zayn told him. “Not that it’s going to happen again, mind you. It was brilliant, but it was a one-time thing.”
“It won’t happen again?” Louis asked him softly.
Zayn shook his head. “No. I don’t want to do that to you, Lou. I had no idea you…”
“No idea I what?”
Zayn shrugged. “That you were into him so much.”
“Oh, stop lying to yourself, Louis,” Zayn groaned. “And stop making excuses. The kid’s been here for less than a month and he already thinks the sun shines out of your arse.”
“Who bloody cares? You’re the only one who’s bothered by that, Louis, and you know it.”
Louis sighed. “I don’t know what to do, Zayn. I… I mean, he’s attractive, obviously. He’s talented—“
“I’ll say,” Zayn muttered.
Louis hid a smile and flicked a rubber band from his desk towards his friend.
“He is! You know first hand what his mouth can do…” he trailed off.
“Oh my God,” Louis shook his head and laughed softly. “I didn’t even really know until you two…you know…”
Zayn stood up and stepped behind Lou’s desk, hugging him from behind. “Just be nice to him. If it’s the issue that you’re his boss and he’s an intern, then kill time until his internship is up.”
“He has Nick—“
“You think that’ll last?”
“He’s eighteen. He probably wants to be crazy and try new things and—“
“What if he wants to try those with you?”
Louis paused. “You’re getting ahead of yourself.”
“Well, do you just want him for sex in the dark room?”
Louis shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Stop making excuses, Louis,” Zayn snapped. “I’m your best friend. You can talk to me about this. If you had told me how much you liked him, I would never have let him come over. Mind you, he only came over because you pushed him away after the dark room incident.”
“What did he tell you?” Louis asked.
“That he blew you and you pushed him away after. You made him feel like dirt, Lou. Probably made him feel worse when you told him to leave this morning,” Zayn told him with a shrug.
“Fuck,” he sighed. “I don’t know what I should do, Zayn. He’s my intern. He’s a teenager. I just…”
“Forget about the technicalities, Louis,” Zayn told him, resting his hands on his friend’s shoulders. “Try apologizing and go from there.”
Louis nodded. “Do you think he’ll forgive me?” he asked, leaning back to look up at Zayn.
“Of course,” Zayn told him, pressing his lips to Lou’s in a chaste kiss. “And word of advice—don’t ever pass on kissing him again. You don’t know what you’re missing,” he teased, ruffling Lou’s hair before he walked out of the office.
The next few days were agonizing slow, and Harry was just looking forward to the weekend so he could have a couple of days without Louis. Things were tense and strange, neither of them staying around the other any longer than necessary. Their conversations were stilted and limited, but Harry couldn’t even blame Louis because he wasn’t exactly going out of his way to be friendly, either. Things with Zayn, thankfully, were back to normal.
“Any plans this weekend?” Zayn asked casually on Friday as he was packing up his bag. Louis was letting him skip out an hour early, which meant Harry would be alone with him. He could manage.
Harry smiled. “Is this you being subtle?” he teased.
Zayn laughed. “As thrilling as another go would be, Harry, I’m afraid I’ll have to decline.”
Harry pouted. “I understand. But you’re right. It would be thrilling.”
“I know,” Zayn said.
“No plans on my end, though,” Harry told him with a shrug. “Takeaway and some movies with Nick, more than likely.”
“So you two aren’t dating?”
“But you live together and you sleep together?”
Harry shrugged. “Yeah. Why?”
“I don’t know,” Zayn replied. “Do you think that can go on forever?”
“I mean,” Harry paused. “Is that really any of your business?” he asked quietly.
Zayn held up his hands in mock surrender. “Not at all. I was just curious. I’ve had friends with benefits before. But your situation is…unique. That’s all,” he told him.
Harry sighed and hesitated for a few seconds. “I don’t know if it will,” he answered quietly. “We never talk about it. He always tells me to appreciate what we have, and I do.”
“But you want more?” Zayn asked.
“I don’t know,” Harry shrugged. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
Zayn’s eyebrows rose. “Ever?”
Harry shook his head. “I met Nick when I was sixteen. He was the first guy I was ever with,” he shrugged. “He made it clear from the beginning he didn’t really do monogamy. I was young and okay with it—I’m still okay with it. I think.”
“You wanna know what I think?”
Zayn elbowed him in the side. “Shut up. I think you should go on a date.”
“A date?” Harry asked. “Why?”
“Has Nick ever taken you out on one?”
“We’ve gone on dates.”
“But have you ever actually dated?”
“Going on dates means you’re dating someone,” Harry told him.
“Not if they don’t want to be your boyfriend.”
Harry pouted. “Ouch.”
Zayn patted him on the shoulder. “Just think about it.”
“Why? Do you want me to date Lou or something?” he asked, his voice quiet and eyes narrowed towards his friend.
Zayn smiled. “Why? Do you want to date Lou?”
Harry shook his head. “No. Why would you say that?”
“Maybe because that’s the first place your mind went to?” Zayn offered.
“Well. I don’t want to. So. You can go now.”
Zayn smiled, pressing his lips to Harry’s temple. “Have a good weekend. I’ll see you Monday.”
Harry reached out and swatted his bum as he walked by. “Have a better one.”
“Seems a little inappropriate for the work place.”
Harry froze. Of course. Of course Louis would walked out right as Zayn kissed him and Harry reached for his bum. Of. Course. “Sorry, Mr. Tomlinson,” Harry said quietly.
“In my office, please?” Louis requested before turning around and walking back into his office.
Harry grumbled under his breath, glaring at Zayn’s retreating body, before following Louis into his office.
“Shut the door.”
Harry shut the door quietly, turning on his heel to face Louis. He crossed his arms over his chest and didn’t move, wanting to keep as much distance as he could between them. He didn’t have any aversions being close to Lou, but he didn’t trust himself. He wasn’t sure if he would slap him for making him feel so low or kiss him because, well fuck, Lou was just really attractive.
“Try not to smack Zayn’s ass in the office again,” Louis told him as he sat down in his chair.
“Yes, sir,” Harry replied quietly and with a short nod.
Louis pursed his lips, resting his elbows on his desk. “Two things. One, Anne was in here earlier this week. She told me how your research on that article really made it better. She was impressed.”
Harry smiled. “Really?”
Louis nodded, ignoring The Dimple because, well, that just wasn’t fair. “Indeed. She wants us to work on a blog. Well, I already have mine through the magazine’s website, and she would like you to start updating as well. Something about how…you’re young and attractive and that’ll keep the readers interested,” he said with a shrug and a casual wave of his hand.
“She said that? That I’m attractive?” Harry asked, his smile widening.
Louis cursed The Dimple. “In so many words,” he told him.
“Or maybe you think I’m attractive?” he offered, walking over to Lou’s desk and sitting down across from him. “Do you think I’m attractive?”
“So you do.”
“I don’t,” Louis said decisively. “So here is your first topic for the blog. Try to get it posted by Monday,” he told him, sliding him over a manila folder with a couple of options in it.
Harry nodded, folding up the slip of paper and sliding it into his back pocket as he stood up. “And two?”
“Two?” Louis asked, eyebrows raising.
“You said you had two things. I imagine the blog was the first one. So, what’s the second?” Harry asked.
Louis sighed. “I wanted to…apologize for making you leave earlier this week. I shouldn’t have done that. It was petty and unprofessional of me,” he explained.
Harry nodded. “That’s all you’re apologizing for?” he asked him quietly.
Louis bit the inside of his cheek. “What else would you have me apologize for?”
“Nothing,” Harry said quickly before plastering a fake smile onto his face. “I accept your apology. Thank you.”
“Have a good weekend. Remember to post that blog,” Louis told him.
“Sure thing, Mr. Tomlinson,” Harry said with a nod before exiting the office. Honestly, he hadn’t expected Louis to apologize for kicking him out of the office, so that was better than nothing. There was no reason for him to push it and demand an apology for pushing him away. He only wanted Lou to apologize for that if he really meant it, and obviously he didn’t.
Louis was acutely aware of the change in Harry’s movements Monday morning. He watched him closely, though no closer than normal, and studied the little winces he made when he reached up to slide a binder back onto Lou’s bookcase. “What is wrong with you today?”
Harry froze, turning around, his eyes wide. “I’m sorry, sir?”
Louis rolled his eyes. “You’re acting strange, like it…hurts to move.”
“Oh. I got a new tattoo this weekend. It itches so, I’m trying not to aggravate it,” he explained. “Sorry if…you thought it was something different.”
Louis paused before he realized what Harry meant. “Oh, no, that’s not. That’s not what I meant at all,” he said, shaking his head.
“Right. Because that would be inappropriate,” Harry said with a nod.
“Precisely,” Louis nodded. “I saw the blog you posted. Well done.”
There was a knock on the door and Zayn stuck his head in. “Louis? Anne’s here to see you.”
Louis sighed softly and waved a hand, indicating to Zayn that he could show her in. “Alright.”
“Would you like me to leave?” Harry asked.
“No, Mr. Styles, you can stay,” Anne told him, walking into Louis’ office and sitting down across from his desk. “Good work on your blog, Mr. Styles.”
Harry practically beamed and Louis had to dig his nails into his palm to keep himself from rolling his eyes. There was a part of him that wanted to be the only one who put that smile on Harry’s face.
“Really?” Harry asked. “Thank you, ma’am. I just…did what Mr. Tomlinson instructed and it turned out well. He’s a wonderful boss.”
Louis ducked his head.
“So I’ve heard,” Anne commented. “I just wanted to let you know that you’re both on the right track. Also, I need you to find me a new photographer for the Dolce shoot.”
Louis paused. “A new one? You liked my proposal then?”
“It was the only one of quality that was submitted. Sometimes I worry about your coworkers, Mr. Tomlinson. You have more talent than they do, there’s no question about that.”
“Thank you, Anne,” Louis said quietly. “I’ll find you a new photographer by tomorrow at the latest.”
“Good. We’re scheduled to shoot next week on location. I only want the best. Get me at least three options and prepare portfolios for each of them,” Anne requested.
Louis nodded. “Of course.”
“Lou’s a photographer,” Harry interjected.
“Harry!” Louis snapped, eyes narrowing behind the thick frames of his glasses.
Anne turned to face Harry, her eyes wide. “Is he now?”
Harry nodded. “I’ve seen his work. It’s brilliant.”
“It’s nothing,” Louis interrupted. “Just a hobby.”
“Anything you’d like to show me?” Anne asked.
“Not at the present, Anne,” Louis said. “Sorry for wasting your time with such an unimportant tangent. I’ll find you a photographer and prepare for the portfolios.”
“Eleven AM tomorrow, I want those portfolios on my desk. Gentlemen,” she nodded, standing up and exiting the office.
“That was your chance, Lou!” Harry explained, forgetting the fact that he was trying to remain a purely professional relationship with him. He had told himself he wouldn’t call him Lou or Louis or be too friendly but, well, he slipped up.
Louis frowned. “Is it your life’s work to embarrass me?” he asked.
“I wasn’t trying to embarrass you, Lou. You are a brilliant photographer. I’ve seen the photographers. Remember the dark room?” Harry said before he could stop himself. “I didn’t mean—“
“I remember the dark room perfectly well, thank you, Harry,” Louis said.
Harry bit the inside of his cheek, crossing his arms over his chest then remembered how bad of an idea that was. He winced slightly and slowly lowered his arms to his sides. “I’m sorry if I upset you. I just…thought you might want to take a chance.”
“Obviously,” he muttered.
Lou’s eyebrows rose. “You…” he sighed, shaking his head. He didn’t want to argue with Harry, not again. “I understand it came from a good place, that you did not do it maliciously, but please don’t do that again.”
Harry nodded slowly. “Yes, sir,” he told him before going back to the binders and reorganizing them since Louis didn’t ask him to do anything else.
Louis watched Harry for a minute or two, the way the thin fabric of his white button-up stretched over his shoulders as he reached up, the way his dark jeans clung to his—he shook his head. As he watched the younger boy, he was overwhelmed with a pang of curiosity. He wanted to see the ink that marred his pale skin, he wanted to know every inch of his skin, and he wanted to memorize every aspect of his body and that thought jarred him out of his daydream. “What did you get?” he asked before he could stop himself.
Harry looked at him over his shoulder. “I’m sorry?”
“Your tattoo,” Louis said. “What did you get?”
“You don’t have to—“ Lou tried to stop him, he did, but when Harry’s fingers were deftly unbuttoning his shirt. He watched as Harry unbuttoned all but the last two buttons that were tucked into his jeans, spreading open the shirt to expose the two birds tattooed beneath his collarbones. Lou stood up and walked across the room, reaching out to touch one before stopping himself. He took a step back. “Birds?”
“Swallows,” Harry corrected.
Lou cleared his throat, pushing down a flush that was threatening to creep up the back of his neck, and he ignored the cheeky grin on Harry’s face and the mischievous glint in his eyes. “How many tattoos do you have?”
“A few,” he shrugged. “Do you want to see them?”
“No,” Louis said quickly, shaking his head. “Fix your shirt and make me a cup of tea.”
Harry buttoned his shirt, leaving the first two buttons undone. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling. Louis could act like he wasn’t affected or bothered, but Harry could tell that he was. And Harry had told himself multiple times that he wasn’t going to push Lou, he wasn’t going to make work uncomfortable, and that they probably shouldn’t be friends. But that wasn’t what he wanted.
He wanted Lou.
Louis didn’t stop thinking about Harry’s tattoos all day. He tried to concentrate, but every time he closed his eyes, he saw black ink on pale skin and Harry’s dimples. And his collarbones…collarbones weren’t supposed to be sexy. Harry wasn’t supposed to have tattoos because tattoos were Louis’ only weakness. There was something about a man with tattoos that just… That just.
“Lou? Is it all right if I head out a few minutes early? Got a date,” Zayn said, sticking his head into the office.
“Huh? Yeah, sure,” Louis answered without listening.
Zayn stepped inside the office, shutting the door behind him. “You all right?”
Louis sighed. “He has tattoos, Zayn.”
“Harry,” Louis groaned, running his hands over his face.
Zayn smiled. “I saw a few of ‘em. He’s got one on his hip, some on his arm. Why?”
Louis sighed. “He got swallows beneath his collarbones.”
Zayn burst out laughing. “That’s not cliché at all! Poor boy is practically flaunting his talents,” he said.
“Cheer up, mate. Think of Harry as a test. An incredibly sexy, tattooed, dimpled, sexy, young—“
“You’re not helping,” Louis interrupted.
Zayn smiled. “You’ve got it bad, mate. Granted he’s a compilation of everything you want in a man—“
“He’s a boy.”
“Take him out for drinks Friday after work. Say it’s a way of showing your gratitude,” Zayn suggested.
Louis shook his head. “No. He’s my intern. That’s very inappropriate—“
“So is letting him blow you in the dark room but that didn’t stop you there,” Zayn told him.
“Are you ever going to let me live that down?” Louis asked, trying to hide the small smile on his face.
“Absolutely not,” Zayn smiled. “I’m headed out.”
Zayn paused. “I just told you I had a date.”
Zayn shrugged. “Blind date. I’ve gotta get off somehow since you’ve made Harry off limits.”
Louis scoffed. “I didn’t—“
“He’s off limits and you know it,” Zayn told him. “I’m not making another move on someone when my best mate is into him, you know that. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I hate you,” Louis muttered.
Zayn laughed as he opened the door to Louis’ office. “You do not.”
Harry nearly collided with Zayn, almost spilling Lou’s tea. “Whoa, sorry mate!”
“You’re fine, darling,” Zayn said, patting his shoulder, eyes briefly flitting down to his chest and then over to Lou. He shook his head before laughing again and walking off.
Harry set a mug down on Lou’s desk, glancing over his shoulder to where Zayn had been standing. “What was he laughing at?”
“He’s laughing at my pain,” Louis muttered
“Harry, did you forget to do the dishes before you left for work?”
Harry rolled his eyes as he walked into the flat, hanging up his blazer and kicking his boots off. “Obviously,” he muttered.
Nick leaned out of the kitchen. “I asked you to do the washing last night.”
“And I forgot,” Harry shrugged, unbuttoning his shirt as he walked into the bedroom, tossing it aside. He reached for the hand lotion on the nightstand, rubbing it over the ink on his chest to soothe the aggravated skin.
Nick followed him, leaning against the doorframe. “It’s not like it’s a difficult task, Harry.”
Harry frowned. “Then why don’t you do it and stop bothering me about it?”
“Bad day at work?” Nick asked facetiously as he watched Harry sit down on the bed.
“Not really,” Harry shrugged, lying down. “Just have a migraine, and you’re not helping.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “My apologies for thinking you would do the bloody dishes.”
“I do the dishes every single night, Nick!” Harry snapped, running his hands over his face. “What more do you want from me?”
“I want you to pick up your fucking clothes instead of tossing them on the ground,” Nick muttered, picking up Harry’s shirt and tossing it into the bin to be washed.
“Are you takin’ the piss?” Harry asked quietly. “You leave your clothes everywhere all the time. You never do the bloody dishes, even when I’m the one cooking for you, which is almost every single night—“
“That’s what you’re supposed to do, Harry,” Nick groaned. “That was the deal.”
“What deal? What deal did we ever make? And where was I when I agreed to that?” Harry asked, sitting up off the bed.
“That was the deal! You cook and help me clean and—“
“And you pay rent?” he offered, standing up. “How many times are we going to have this conversation?”
“How many times?” Harry repeated.
Nick sighed. “I asked you to do the dishes once—“
“That’s not the point, Nick! How many times are you going to throw the fact that you pay the rent in my face? I’ve offered countless times—you refuse every single time. I cook for you because I care about you, not out of some misguided notion that I owe you something. You can come in here and yell about me being messy but you leave your stuff around all the time and I pick it up for you—“
“I don’t even want to hear it,” Harry snapped. “You have no right to talk to me this way.”
“Don’t tell me what to do in my own flat, Harry,” Nick groaned. “And don’t put words in my mouth. I’m—“
“Are you finished?” he asked.
Harry paused, reconsidering his thought process. “No, you’re done. And when you decide to not be an asshole to me, then maybe we can finish this conversation without you freaking out on me,” he said, pulling a shirt out of his dresser drawer and pulling it on.
“Where are you going?”
“Since you’ve made it abundantly clear that this is your flat, I’m going to go,” Harry told him before his tangent was interrupted by his mobile ringing. He dug it out of his pocket, seeing that it was Lou, and he answered. “’Lo?”
Nick rolled his eyes. “So you’re just going to answer your mobile while we’re in the middle of a conversation?”
“Hang on just a second, Lou,” Harry said, pulling the phone away from his ear. “I said we’re done with this conversation for now, Nick, and I meant it.”
“Since you’re obviously distracted by your bloody boss, yet again, I’ll go to Aimee’s for the night and give you two your privacy,” Nick snapped, picking up his jacket from the top of the dresser and storming out of the flat, yelling over his shoulder that he might see Harry tomorrow.
Harry sighed, running a hand over his curls. His head had hurt before, but now it was positively throbbing, and he almost forgot that Lou was still on the phone. “Sorry about that, Lou,” he said softly.
“You all right?”
“Yeah. Did you need something?”
“I’m working from home tomorrow. Zayn’s rescheduling my meetings for me.”
“Are you okay?” Harry asked, hoping he didn’t sound as concerned as he felt because he didn’t want to be too obvious.
“Yeah, it’s not a big deal.”
“You’ll be there the day after though, yeah?”
“Yeah. Listen, will you be able to stop by the office and turn in the portfolios to Anne? Everything’s on my desk. I would really appreciate it.”
Harry nodded, though Lou couldn’t see. “Of course. I’ll have them on her desk first thing in the morning.”
“Thanks, Haz. I’ll see you on Wednesday.”
Louis hung up before Harry could respond, and he tossed his phone onto the bed. He ran his hands through his hair. His night could not have possibly gotten any worse. He lay down on the bed, his mind racing, from Nick to Louis and to Nick again, before going back to Louis. He had no idea what he was going to do, but he was sure of one thing: he had to take Zayn’s advice and figure out exactly what, and whom, he wanted.
The thing was, Harry wasn’t exactly good at ignoring opportunities. If he thought something was a good idea off the bat, he usually just went for it, and didn’t think twice about it. And he really, genuinely thought it was a good idea. After all, the stack of portfolios was just sitting on Louis’ desk, all prepared to send to Anne for the new Dolce shoot. And Harry, well, he wasn’t good at following orders (outside of the bedroom). And besides, he knew that Louis was good enough, but he also knew that Louis wouldn’t take the risk himself.
So Harry did. He searched through Louis’ desk drawers until he found a stack of his photographs that he had taken, making his own portfolio before sliding the binder into the stack next to the others. He could easily justify his actions—Louis was talented photographer who deserved a shot at the Dolce shoot and Harry…well, Harry was a teenager who didn’t think his actions through. He picked up the stack of portfolios, Louis’ was the third one from the top, and he made his way to Anne’s office. Balancing the portfolios on one arm, he knocked twice on the open door, walking in when he heard Anne’s muffled reply of “come in.”
“Good morning, Anne,” Harry greeted, fixing her with his most charming smile.
“Mr. Styles, I thought Mr. Tomlinson had taken the day off?” Anne asked.
Harry nodded. “That he did. However, he knew you wanted these portfolios so I told him that I would come in and give them to you,” he explained.
“Five? I only asked for three,” Anne muttered. “That man certainly is thorough.”
Harry bit back a smile. “Yes, he is.”
Anne motioned for him to set the portfolios down on the desk. “Are you enjoying your time here, Mr. Styles?” she asked him.
“I am,” Harry replied with a nod.
“Good. Mr. Tomlinson is supposed to send you an email of potential topics for the new couple of blog entries. Would you be willing to consider a potential job offer at the end of your internship?”
Harry paused. “Honestly, ma’am, I don’t know,” he told her.
Anne nodded. “Think on it, would you? I could use someone with your voice. You have a way of drawing in our social media crowd,” she said.
Harry smiled. “Thank you.”
“You may go. Let Mr. Tomlinson know I’m looking through the portfolios and that I appreciate his work.”
“I will, Anne. Thank you,” he told her before exiting the office. His heart was racing and part of him was worried that Louis would be furious if he found out that Harry had submitted his portfolio. He sent Louis a quick text, reassuring him that he turned in the portfolios, before walking back towards Louis’ office to get his sunglasses and keys that he had left on the desk, and he was surprised to see Zayn at his desk outside Lou’s office. “What are you doing here?”
Zayn looked up, eyes wide and tired behind his glasses. “Just catching up on a bit of paper work. Have you seen Lou’s portfolios? Anne needs them by eleven—“
“I just gave them to her,” Harry said, pointing over his shoulder. “Lou called me last night and asked me to.”
“Did he?” Zayn asked, shaking his head. “I must’ve forgotten.”
“Are you okay?”
Zayn sighed. “Yeah, I… Did I reschedule Louis’ meetings?”
Harry nodded. “He said you did last night, yes.”
“What’s going on with you?” Harry asked, pushing aside a couple of papers to sit down on Zayn’s desk.
Zayn sighed. “I had a date last night,” he said quietly. “We got to talking, we got to drinking, things…progressed…”
Harry smiled. “So you had a good night, then?”
“I was so worried that I overslept, I completely forgot that Lou was working from home and I rushed off without leaving him a note or anything,” Zayn muttered, running his hands over his face.
“Do you have his number?”
Harry reached for Zayn’s phone that was sitting on the desk, shoving it into his hand. “Text him, have him meet you for brunch. That way he doesn’t think you’re blowing him off or that you regret last night,” he told him.
“You think I should?”
“Do you like him?”
Zayn nodded. “Yeah, I mean. He’s funny and we got on great,” he shrugged.
“You’re hesitating. Why are you hesitating?”
“He works for Niall Horan.”
Harry mock-gasped. “You’re fraternizing with the enemy?”
Zayn laughed, smacking Harry’s leg. “Don’t take the piss, Harry. I feel like I’m betraying Lou or something…again,” he muttered.
“Fuck it, Zayn. If you like the guy, go for it. It’s not like you’ll be spilling his secrets to this bloke, am I right?”
“Yeah,” Zayn said with a shrug.
“Then go for it, mate!” Harry said with a laugh.
“I think I will,” he said quietly, typing up a text, his thumb hovering over the send button.
“Do it,” Harry encouraged him, a smile on his face.
Zayn closed his eyes and pressed send before overthinking it. “It’s sent.”
“Good work, mate. Now, tell me all about—“
“Mr. Styles, is this your idea of a joke?”
Harry froze when he heard Anne’s voice, a chill running down his spine. He stood up quickly and turned to face her. “No, ma’am.”
Anne held a portfolio open in front of her, flipping through the pages, and Harry knew, he knew it was Louis’ work. “You weren’t lying when you told me that Louis was a photographer.”
“I wouldn’t lie to you,” Harry told her.
“These are very good,” Anne said before her gaze landed on Harry. “Does Louis want to do this photo shoot?”
Harry nodded. “Very much so. But I am the one who submitted that portfolio, not Louis. And he would be…very upset with me if he knew I did that,” he said quietly.
“Yes. He didn’t know if you would like his proposal or think he was good enough. And I probably shouldn’t have told you that,” Harry said, sucking in a deep breath. He heard Zayn sigh next to him and, yeah, he knew he was going to be in trouble if—when—Lou found out.
“He was wrong,” Anne commented. “He’s got it. You can tell him the good news yourself. Tell him I’ll email him all of the details by Friday.”
Harry swallowed and nodded.
“Good work, Mr. Styles. You have a good eye,” Anne told him with a smile before walking back towards her office.
“Oh shit, shit, shit, shit, shit,” Harry muttered, running his hands over his face. “Oh my God. Why did I do that?”
“Why did you do that, Harry?” Zayn asked, shaking his head.
“I don’t know. Oh my God, Lou is gonna fire me—“
“Fire you? He’s going to kill you!” Zayn whispered frantically.
Harry groaned. “Oh fuck me,” he muttered.
“Why did you put his photographs in there? You know he wasn’t ready.”
“He is ready, Zayn, and he is good enough—you know that. He would never have done this on his own. I thought that his photographs needed to be seen and…” Harry sighed. “I thought I would be helping.”
“He’s going to see it as interfering and—“
“I know, I bloody know,” Harry groaned.
“He—“ Zayn cut himself off, glancing down at his phone when he received a text message.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Are you ignoring me to text your new boyfriend?”
Zayn shook his head. “Sorry, mate. There isn’t much I can do. You gotta tell Lou yourself. I can’t help you with that.”
Harry was fucked, royally fucked.
Louis wasn’t prepared to see Harry standing outside of his flat, knocking on the door as if his life depended on it. He was equally surprised to see that Harry’s nose was red, his eyes swollen, and he was rubbing stubbornly at his cheeks. “Harry? What’s wrong?”
“Can I come in?” Harry asked, sniffling.
Lou ushered him in, suddenly feeling over-protective of the boy. “Are you all right? Was it Nick? Did he—“
Harry shook his head. “Nick didn’t do anything,” he told him quietly, wiping underneath his nose with the sleeve of his red plaid button up.
“Then what’s wrong?” Lou asked.
“You’re gonna be so mad at me,” Harry muttered.
“What happened?” he asked softly, reaching an arm out to pat at Harry’s shoulder in a manner that he hoped was soothing.
Harry sucked in a deep breath. “I went in this morning to turn in the portfolios to Anne for you,” he started. “And…I…”
“And you what?” Louis encouraged him, though he felt his stomach sinking.
“I…” Harry sighed. He didn’t even know how to say it. He was a mess.
“What did you do?” Louis repeated, his voice hardening.
“I showed her your photographs,” Harry whispered.
Louis took a step back, running his hands over his face. “You did what?”
“They’re really good, Lou, and—“
“I don’t care how bloody good they are, Harry!” Louis yelled, tugging his fingers through his hair. “Christ, Harry!”
Harry sniffed and blinked, trying to hold back a new set of tears that were threatening to spill from his green eyes. “I’m so sorry, Lou. I didn’t know she—“
“She what? Would see them? I bloody told you I didn’t want you to do that!” Louis forced himself to suck in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself down. It wasn’t working. “Why would you even—“
“Because you’re so talented, Louis,” Harry said, his chest heaving.
“I don’t care how talented you think I am, Harry! I told you not to! You knew I would be upset, that’s why you’re sobbing in my apartment like a bloody child,” he snapped.
“At least I’m telling you what I did, Louis. I shouldn’t have done it, I know, but it’s done. And Anne loved it—she wants you to do the Dolce shoot—“
“Do you think that’s going to make up for breaking my trust, Harry?” Louis asked him slowly.
Harry shook his head before wiping furiously at his eyes. “No. No, Lou, I know it won’t. But—I did it for you—“
“You did it for yourself,” Louis spat. “You didn’t do it for me. What? Did you want to impress Anne even further? She already thinks the sun shines out of your arse so why not—“
“No!” Harry interrupted, reaching out for Louis before he could stop himself.
Louis grabbed his arm and pushed him back up against the wall, holding his arms flush against his side. The force of the shove was enough to cause one of his framed portraits to fall off of the wall, glass shattering by their feet. “No? So you did it out of the goodness of your heart, did you?” Louis asked, rolling his eyes. “I trusted you with one task and you royally fuck it up, Harry. I have never been this furious before.” Louis was practically shaking in anger, his fingers tightly gripping Harry’s biceps where he had him pressed up against the wall.
Harry didn’t even try to stop the tears that were beginning to flow down his cheeks. He had never seen Louis angry, always calm and collected, and he had never felt so low. “I’m so sorry, Lou. I only did it because—“
“Because why?” Lou spat, releasing his hold on Harry to force himself to take a step back. He was shaking with adrenaline, anger, and he had never wanted to strike someone as much as he wanted to lash out against Harry in that moment.
“Because I care about you,” Harry whispered, wiping at his eyes.
Louis hesitated, freezing for the briefest of seconds, before he rolled his eyes. “Get out.”
Harry reached out for Lou again but he stopped himself. “Louis, I—“
“I said get out,” Lou repeated through gritted teeth. “I’ll deal with you tomorrow.”
Harry just stood there, sniffling. “You—“
“I want you to leave, Harry!” he snapped, walking over to the door and swinging it open, motioning for Harry to go. “Now. I don’t want to repeat myself again.”
“Okay,” he whispered, shoving his hands into his pocket and silently walking to the door of Lou’s flat. He paused, just briefly, meeting Lou’s eyes and he wished he hadn’t. He had never seen Lou look so distant or so hateful. He had tried to convince himself on the way to Lou’s apartment that he wouldn’t regret what he had done, but once he saw the aftermath he definitely had second thoughts. As Lou slammed the door shut behind him, Harry felt another sob building up in his throat, and he just wanted to get as far away from Lou as he could.
Harry was exhausted by the time he got back to the flat he shared with Nick; his eyes were puffy and red and he just wanted to take a bath or a nap, or even both. He opened the door to the flat to find Nick sitting on the couch, a beer in hand. He kicked off his shoes and walked over to the couch, sitting down next to him.
“Thought you didn’t have to go into work today,” Nick commented.
Harry shrugged. “Had to turn something in for Lou.”
“Why are you crying?”
“Do you care?” he asked quietly.
Nick sighed. “I don’t think we can do this anymore, Harry.”
Harry ran his hands over his face. “Don’t do this right now, Grimmy. Please.”
“This isn’t what you want, Harry—“
“It is, though—“
“Maybe it was,” Nick interrupted, running his hands through his hair. “But not anymore. I don’t even know if it’s what I want.”
Harry paused, letting that sink in. He’d been so concerned thinking about what he wanted that he didn’t really stop to think about what Nick wanted. “Nick…”
“You’re still so young, Harry. And I love that about you. And I love that I was your first, but,” Nick hesitated, shaking his head. “You’re young. You have all of these opportunities ahead of you.”
“If you think you’re holding me back—“
“I don’t,” Nick told him.
“Do you think I’m holding you back?” Harry asked quietly.
Nick sighed. “I don’t know.”
Harry shut his eyes tightly, feeling tears prick behind his eyelids.
“You need to experience life, Harry—“
“No, you’re experiencing one part of it, your sexuality, sleeping with whoever you want, and that’s fine. But there’s more to life than that, than us,” Nick told him. “You need to… I don’t know, have a boyfriend, go on dates, get your heart broken, all those things that normal teenagers do.”
“Why should I waste my time with that when I have you? I love you, Nick,” Harry told him.
Nick sighed. “I don’t want to be your default. And you don’t want to be mine. I know you love me, Haz, and I love you, too,” he assured him, reaching over for his hand and lacing their fingers together. “But we’re not going to work. You know that.”
Harry looked down at their fingers entwined on his knee and he felt his stomach drop. “Is there. Is there someone else?”
Nick shook his head. “No. But I think there’s more between you and Louis than you’re letting on,” he admitted.
“There’s nothing there, trust me. Not anymore,” Harry said bitterly. “I doubt he ever wants to see my face again.”
“Then he’s a fool,” Nick said softly. “I’ll stay in the guest room. You’re welcome to stay here until you find a new flat, all right?” He leaned over, pressing his lips against Harry’s temple, and he stood up.
Harry tightened his grip on Nick’s hand, pulling him back down onto the couch. “Please don’t do this, Nick.”
Nick sighed. “It’s for the best, Harry. It’s what we need.”
“No,” Harry said, shaking his head as a few tears slipped from his eyes. He let go of Nick’s hand, reaching for his face to press their lips together.
Nick grabbed his shoulders, pushing him away lightly. “Harry—“
“Just… Give me this, okay?” Harry asked, pressing his lips against Nick’s once, twice, a third time before Nick finally responded. Harry slid his hands down the front of Nick’s chest, reaching for his belt and unclasping it swiftly.
Nick reached for his wrist, holding him steady. “Harry, we shouldn’t—“
“Just one last time, Nick,” Harry said, nosing at the soft skin behind Nick’s ear. “Please.”
Nick grabbed Harry’s hips, flipping them over on the couch pulling away from Harry long enough to pull off his trousers and pants before getting rid of his own. He pressed his mouth against Harry’s, thumbs digging into the soft skin under his hipbones. Harry’s hips rose up to meet his, a silent encouragement, and his legs wrapped around Nick’s back, fitting their bodies together.
Nick pulled away from Harry and reached behind him towards the table by the couch, opening the drawer and pulling out a half-empty tube of lube and one of the condoms they kept stashed there. Harry leaned up, attaching his mouth to the side of Nick’s neck, sucking at the skin above his pulse point until Nick arched his back, a moan escaping his lips. “Fuck, Haz,” he groaned, popping open the bottle of lube, spreading some over his fingers before pushing two into Harry without warning.
Harry let out a breathy sigh, head falling back against the arm of the couch, thighs opening to allow Nick a better angle. Nick leaned down, pressing his lips to the center of Harry’s shirt against the thin cotton of the shirt.
“Take this off,” Nick told him.
Harry nodded, sitting up, causing his hips to push against Nick’s hands, and he quickly shed his shirt, tossing it aside. He lay back against the couch as Nick crooked his fingers inside of him, a moan falling from his lips. “Mmm, more,” he grunted, sliding his hands to Nick’s hair to tug at the strands.
Nick pressed in a third finger as he kissed his way up Harry’s chest, stopping right beneath the fresh ink. He opened him quickly, though he knew Harry could take the burn of being stretched, knew how much he enjoyed it. Harry’s fingers tightened in Nick’s hair, pulling him down for a kiss, his tongue tracing his lips and teeth before biting down on his bottom lip.
“Fuck, Nick, just fuck me already,” Harry groaned.
Nick removed his fingers, wiping his hands off on Harry’s discarded shirt, before opening the condom and sliding it over his length. He grabbed Harry’s hips tightly; sliding in quickly and savoring the little whimper that left Harry’s lips. Harry lifted his legs, wrapping them around Nick, heels digging into the base of Nick’s spine, and he tried to push himself further down on Nick, craving more friction.
Nick pressed his hands against Harry’s hips, holding him down and preventing him from thrusting back against him; that simple action caused a moan to leave Harry’s lips and his head fell back against the armrest, eyes drifting shut. He held Harry down and fucked him slowly through his moans and whimpers. Harry’s heels pressed against Nick’s spine, one of his hands scratching through the coarse hair across Nick’s chest, the other wrapping around the base of his cock that was pressed against his stomach.
Harry jerked himself off in time with Nick’s lazy thrusts, his teeth biting at his bottom lip and his eyes fluttered open to meet Nick’s. Nick kissed him quickly, pulling his bottom lip into his mouth, and Harry’s hand left his chest to tangle in his hair, molding their mouths together, and Nick changed his pace, fucking Harry hard and fast. One of Nick’s hands left Harry’s hip, sliding around his back to change the angle, burying him cock deeper inside of Harry, hitting the little bundle of nerves with every thrust. Harry moaned against his lips before pulling away, panting against his mouth, and he jerked himself off faster.
“M’close,” Harry grunted.
Nick nodded, pressing his lips against Harry’s in a chaste kiss, before he pulled back, gripping his hips again and fucking Harry faster. His hand pushed Harry’s away, enveloping his cock, and jerking him off in time with his thrusts. Harry’s back arched off the couch, Nick’s name falling from his lips, and one of his hands tangled in his own hair as he let Nick take control, losing himself in the sensation. He could barely get out a warning before he came, spilling over Nick’s fist. Nick fucked him through his orgasm, spilling deep inside of him and collapsing on his chest.
Harry whimpered, pressing his lips against the side of Nick’s neck before landing on his lips. He smiled lazily, wrapping his arms around Nick’s waist.
Nick sighed, kissing Harry’s temple before pulling out of Harry and sitting up on the couch. He disposed of the condom, running his hands through his hair, and he went to stand.
“This doesn’t change anything, Harry,” Nick told him.
“I know,” Harry said sadly. “Just lay with me?”
Nick sighed and looked down at Harry, who looked thoroughly debauched, fucked out, and ridiculously sexy, and he nodded. He lay down next to Harry, pushing his curls away from his forehead, and he kissed his cheek. “I don’t want you to hate me, Harry.”
Harry curled up next to Nick’s side. “I’m furious with you, you know. But I could never hate you,” he admitted, kissing his collarbone before slowly drifting off.
Harry woke up the next morning, still on the couch, a throw blanket tucked around his shoulders. He blinked slowly, eyes adjusting to the sunlight streaming through the windows, and he sat up. He rubbed at his eyes, suddenly acutely aware that he was alone in the flat. His stomach dropped and he felt himself start to tear up without meaning to. He didn’t want to cry, not again; after the previous day, he almost felt as if he wouldn’t be able to shed one more tear. He picked his jeans up off the floor, pulling his phone out of the pocket. It was only half-seven, plenty of time to get ready for work. He stood up, stretching, before making his way into the kitchen and preparing himself a cup of tea. Part of him wasn’t even surprised that Nick had left, but it still hurt. Once his tea was done, he leaned against the counter and took a sip before his eyes landed on a slip of paper on the table. Setting his mug down, he walked over to the table and picked up the paper.
Working late. See you tonight, Haz.
Harry rolled his eyes, crumbling up the paper and tossing it aside. Underneath was the paper from that morning and Harry scoffed. Nick had circled some flat openings and drew arrows pointing towards them. If Harry was looking for a reminder that their conversation had indeed happened and that Nick wanted him gone, that was it. He pushed the paper aside and walked into the bathroom so he could shower and get ready for work.
He’d look for a flat during his lunch break. He didn’t feel like bothering with that just yet.
When he got to the office, his stomach was still in knots. He had spent most of his morning crying in the shower and washing his face, trying to make it look as though he hadn’t been crying. It didn’t exactly work, but he would just have to deal with that. He was there before Zayn and Lou, which was a surprise, and he made two cups of tea. By the time they were done, Zayn and Lou were walking out of the lift. Harry sucked in a deep breath, determined to make the day as least painfully awkward as possible, and held out both mugs.
“Bless you, Harry,” Zayn greeted him, taking the mug out of his hand and taking a long sip.
Harry smiled softly at Zayn before looking at Lou.
Lou took the mug from his hand without saying a word and walked into his office.
Zayn watched Lou shut the door behind him and he turned to look at Harry. “How mad was he yesterday?”
Harry shrugged. “Furious. Did he say anything to you?”
“A little. You look horrible. Did you get any sleep?” Zayn asked, setting his bag down before sitting in his chair and starting up his computer.
“Yeah. Didn’t sleep well, though,” Harry muttered, looking down at his feet.
“Nick and I are done,” Harry said with a shrug. He hoped that if he sounded like it didn’t bother him that Zayn wouldn’t ask questions or, more accurately, that it would stop bothering him. But he knew that wouldn’t work.
Zayn sighed. “Shit. Are you all right?”
“I will be,” he answered honestly.
“What a shit day. First the argument with Lou, then that,” Zayn commented, shaking his head. “If you wanna talk, I’m here. All right?”
“Thanks, Zayn,” Harry said with a small smile.
“Do you want to go for drinks tonight? I’ll change my plans, we’ll have guy talk—“
Harry shook his head. “No. You have that date tonight with your new beau—“
“Liam,” Zayn interrupted with a small grin.
“Go have fun tonight. I’ll manage, I promise,” Harry told him.
Harry nodded. “I should probably go in there and beg him not to fire me,” he muttered.
Zayn sent him a supportive nod. “He’s not going to fire you.”
“I hope not, especially now that I need to find a flat. I’m banking on him putting a good word in for me when I apply for jobs at the end of my internship,” Harry said thoughtfully.
“He will. Just don’t delay. Get your arse in there.”
Harry sucked in a deep breath before walking into Lou’s office, shutting the door behind him. Lou didn’t even look up at him, and Harry couldn’t say he blamed him. “Good morning, Lou,” he said softly.
“Harry,” Lou acknowledged, setting his pen down and finally looking up at his intern. “You look horrible.”
Harry laughed softly; he didn’t realize how nice it would be when Lou finally acknowledged him again. “I do, yeah. Rough night,” he muttered. “Are you—“
“I need you to get these papers to legal for me,” Lou said, standing up. He picked up a stack of papers and handed them off to his intern. “After that, you need to do some research for me for my last article that Anne gave me. You have two blogs to finish by the end of the day. And at three, we have a fitting with Cara Delevingne for the Dolce shoot.”
“Already?” Harry asked.
“Yes. Anne takes these photo shoots seriously. And since you were so gracious to throw my name around, I have to have the entire shoot and staff sorted by five so we can shoot on Monday,” Louis snapped.
Louis rolled his eyes. “Stop apologizing. And thank Zayn on your way out.”
Harry frowned. “For…?”
“For convincing me not to fire you. And…for convincing me to take it easy on you today,” Louis said before snapping his fingers and pointing towards the door. “Go.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said with a mock salute before slipping out of the door.
Harry was exhausted. If this was Lou’s idea of taking it easy on Harry, well he didn’t exactly see it that way. It was half-one and he was exhausted, drinking tea by the gallon (or so it felt) while he worked simultaneously on a blog entry and research for Lou’s article. He was going to attempt to get lunch at noon and Lou put an end to that, making him work through lunch. Not that Harry minded, it was keeping his mind off of other things, but still—food would’ve been a nice distraction, too.
“How’s the research coming?” Zayn asked, propping a hip up against Harry’s desk as he took a bite of his grilled cheese sandwich.
Harry frowned. “Did Lou ask you to flaunt your lunch in front of me?”
Zayn paused. “No? Have you not eaten yet?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’ve too much to do today, Zayn,” he said sarcastically. “I’ve been forbidden from eating until my blogs are done and my research compiled.”
“Good luck,” Zayn said with a laugh, taking another bite of his sandwich.
“I’d kill for lasagna right now. Or even a sandwich,” Harry muttered, running his hands over his face.
“I’d kill for you to get back to work,” Lou said, walking out of his office and setting a folder on Harry’s desk. “How about you do that?”
Zayn smiled. “How about you’re a little bit nicer to Harry, like we discussed you would be this morning,” he suggested.
“It’s fine, Zayn,” Harry said, taking a sip of his tea. He glanced back towards his computer but something caught his eye and he looked towards the lift, hesitating. “Nick?”
Nick raised a hand in a wave, walking over to Harry’s desk and setting down a plastic bag. “Brought you some lunch,” Nick said with a shrug, running a hand through his hair.
“Thank you,” Harry said quietly, still in shock that Nick was at his work and bringing him food. Nick wasn’t the sentimental type, he wasn’t even particularly affectionate, and Harry never would have expected him to bring him food, especially after their last conversation. Harry pulled out the two containers, one holding a slice of lasagna from his favorite takeaway spot, and the other holding a cupcake.
Nick rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, eyes landing on Zayn and Lou. “I was hoping we could talk for a minute or two,” he said, looking back at Harry.
“You’ve too much to work on, Harry,” Lou said.
“Lou—“ Zayn started but stopped when Lou glared at him.
“Would you like my assistant to show you out?” Lou asked.
Nick smiled. “You must be Louis.”
Lou nodded. “I’m Harry’s boss, yes.”
“Right. His boss,” Nick said, the last word laced with venom.
“Harry’s actually in the middle of an assignment right now,” Lou told him. “I’m sure you two can finish this conversation after work.”
“Pretty sure we can’t, mate,” Nick said, a patronizing smile on his face. “It’ll only take a minute. I’m sure the fashion world won’t fall apart with Harry indisposed for a few moments.”
Lou scoffed. “This isn’t just about fashion or this magazine, it’s about Harry having a job to do. A job, mind you, that you are distracting him from right now.”
Harry stood up. “Both of you—“
“Sit down, Harry,” Lou demanded, his never leaving Nick’s. “Zayn, would you mind showing Nick out?”
“I don’t think you should talk to Harry that way, mate,” Nick told him.
Lou smiled, just briefly. “I’m asking you to leave.”
“Lou, it’ll just take a minute,” Harry said quietly.
“Shut up, Harry—“ Lou said through gritted teeth.
“All right, you can back off right now. Don’t talk to him like that,” Nick said, stepping between Harry’s desk and Louis. “You might be his boss but you’re not his master. You’ve no right treating him like a dog, telling him when to sit and when he can eat—“
“You don’t just get to show up and see your little fuck buddy whenever you want—“
“All right, stop!” Harry yelled, drawing the attention of everyone else in the office that hadn’t already been staring. “We’ll be back in a minute, Louis,” he said, grabbing Nick’s arm and dragging him away before either of them could protest. He muttered under his breath, pushing Nick into the corner of the break room. “What are you doing?” he asked incredulously.
“Bringing you lunch,” Nick told him. “I was a dick last night—“
“And you’re being a dick today,” Harry added.
Nick sighed. “I felt bad and wanted to apologize.”
Harry paused. “Did you change your mind?”
“No, Harry, you know I didn’t,” Nick said quietly.
“Then you don’t need to be here. I don’t need you to be my protector, Nick,” Harry spat, “especially not to my boss.”
“Right. Your boss,” he repeated. “That’s all he is then?”
“You know that,” Harry told him. “I need this internship to go well so I can get a job after. That’ll make it so much easier for me to move out sooner. And that would be better for both of us, don’t you think?”
Nick bit the inside of his cheek. “I don’t like him.”
“He doesn’t like you either.”
“Couldn’t tell,” he said with a grin and a shrug.
Harry sighed, shaking his head. “You do have to go. Lou’s already upset with me, and I don’t need you making it worse.”
Nick ran his hands through his hair again. “I’ll see you later?”
Harry shrugged. “I might go out after work. I’ll probably be home late.”
“All right. I’ll…see you when I see you then,” Nick said with a shrug.
“Don’t get that tone with me, all right? You’re the one who wanted this, now you have to deal with the consequences,” Harry said. He grabbed Nick’s arm and led him out of the break room and to the lift. “I’ll talk to you later.” He didn’t stay to watch Nick leave, rather he made his way back to his desk and sat down, ignoring Lou’s withering glare and Zayn’s raised eyebrows.
“Let your boyfriend know—“
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Harry interrupted, opening up his web browser to finish his blog entry.
“Regardless,” Lou said with a wave of his hand. “He doesn’t need to be visiting you here when you’re working.”
“I’ll let him know.”
“See to it that you do.”
Harry sighed, fixing Lou with a harsh stare. “He won’t be making that mistake again, trust me. Now can I finish this blog before the fitting at three? I’m nearly done.”
Lou nodded, walking back into his office silently.
Zayn let out a low whistle when Lou’s door shut. “What the bloody hell was that?”
Harry ran his hands over his face. “My life? I don’t even know,” he said, shaking his head. He sent another look at Lou’s door before he opened up the lunch that Nick brought him and started eating. He finished it in less than five minutes, swallowing the rest of his tea, before throwing the container in his trash bin. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“That’s what you get for eating so fast, mate,” Zayn said. “You all right?”
“No,” Harry said. “I don’t understand why Lou had to—“ he cut himself off. “But then again, Nick was…” he trailed off.
“Yeah, he’s cute, though.”
Zayn bit his lip. “Too soon, yeah?”
Harry laughed. “You’re ridiculous,” he commented. “Now go away so I can finish this blog so Lou doesn’t destroy me later.”
Zayn leaned over, ruffling his hair, before sauntering off, leaving Harry alone in his misery and confusion to finish his work.
“Since it’s clear you have no idea how fittings work, you’ll pretty much just be there to hold my tea and agree with everything I say, got it?” Lou instructed, handing him his iPad and his mug of tea.
Harry pursed his lips and nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Good boy,” Lou said, patting his shoulder. “Now don’t embarrass me in here, all right?”
Harry scoffed before following Lou into the room. There were racks upon racks of clothes lining the wall and Lou started sifting through them. Harry set the iPad down on the desk, next to Lou’s mug, which was perfect timing because Lou started shoving hangers into his arms.
“Put these on that empty rack to your left,” he told him.
Harry did as he was told, taking all of the outfits from Lou and hanging them up as neatly as he could.
Lou stood next to Harry and surveyed the outfits. After a minute, he sighed. “Where is Cara? She’s supposed to be here by now,” he muttered. “Bloody woman is always late. Let that be a lesson to you, Harry, if you ever get an actual job, that being on time is the most important thing you can do.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said. “Can we—“
Harry paused, turning just in time to see a slim, blonde woman walking into the room and throwing her arms around Lou’s neck. He took a step back and refused to frown. Harry had never been jealous of a woman before, not unless she had a very, very attractive boyfriend, but he found himself wishing he could’ve been the one with his arms wrapped around Louis, causing him to smile the way that he currently was at the woman in his arms.
“Cara, you look lovely,” Louis said, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Thank you so much for doing this on such short notice.”
“Of course, Louis, anything for you,” Cara said, setting her bag down on the floor. She turned and faced Harry, a smile on her face. “Hello.”
“Hello, I’m Harry, Lou’s intern,” he said, sticking his hand out.
Cara glanced down at his hand and shook it. “Pleasure to meet you, Harry. Aren’t you just adorable,” she said with a grin.
“He’s not,” Louis said, picking an outfit off of the rack and handing it out to her.
“I really am,” Harry stage-whispered, sending Cara his most charming smile. “He just doesn’t know how to admit it just yet.”
Cara laughed. “Where on earth did you find him, Louis? I want one. His hair is so fluffy!”
Lou rolled his eyes. “Can we focus, please, Cara? I’m sure you have a tight schedule—“
“You can touch it if you want to,” Harry told her with a shrug.
“Can I?” Cara asked, her eyes lighting up.
Harry leaned his head over. “Go on.”
Cara reached out and stroked her fingers through his hair.
Louis bit the inside of his cheek. He knew exactly what was going through Cara’s mind; he was pretty sure Harry’s hair had some sort of magical powers. His mind flashed back to the last time he touched Harry’s hair (or, well, the only time) and he shook his head because that was not something he needed to be thinking of at the time. “Cara? Can we continue?”
“Yes, of course,” Cara said, removing her hands from Harry’s hair and taking the clothes that Lou was handing to her.
“Harry! I want you to meet someone.”
Harry glanced up from his bag where he had been packing up his stuff for the weekend to see Zayn walking over to him, hand in hand with another man with dark hair and warm brown eyes.
“Harry, this is Liam. Liam, this is Harry, Lou’s intern and my friend,” Zayn said.
Harry stuck out his arm. “Good to meet, you mate, heard nothing but good things.”
Liam flushed slightly. “Good to meet you,” Liam said. “You’ve been working on the blog for this magazine, haven’t you?”
“I have, just for a week or so, nothing major,” Harry said with a shrug.
“You’re a brilliant writer. Niall and I have been watching you closely,” Liam told him.
Harry paused. “Me?”
Liam nodded. “Tell Louis to keep an eye on you. We might have to snatch you up after your internship,” he told him.
Zayn laughed. “I warned you about stealing my coworkers,” he teased.
“I like to live on the edge,” Liam said with a shrug, his fingers tightening around Zayn’s.
“Zayn, remember this weekend—Oh, hello,” Louis said, stopping when he realized Zayn had company.
“Lou, this is Liam. You remember him, yeah?” Zayn introduced.
Louis smiled brightly, shaking Liam’s hand. “Liam, good to see you again.”
“And you. Heard you’ve been less of a tyrant lately,” Liam joked.
Louis laughed. “Heard you finally put a leash on Zayn,” he teased.
Liam smiled. “Of sorts, yes.”
Harry resisted a frown as he watched Louis interact so carelessly with Liam; he had never even seen Louis with that type of smile on his face before.
“So how’s Niall doing?” Louis asked with an easy grin.
Liam laughed. “He’s doing this thing, you know, the usual. He doesn’t even know I’m in enemy territory right now,” he joked.
Louis laughed. “I won’t spill your secrets, I promise.”
“Thanks for that.”
“We’re gonna head out. Text me this weekend if you need anything, okay?” Zayn told Harry, sending him a look.
Harry smiled softly. “Thanks, but I’ll be okay. You two have fun.”
“Nice to meet you, Harry.”
“Keep an eye on my boy, Liam,” Louis told him.
“Same to you, Liam. Take care of him or else,” Harry warned, waving as they both walked towards the lift. There was a twisting in the pit of his stomach as he watched both of them, one he couldn’t place, but he knew that’s what he wanted. He wanted what Zayn and Liam were just starting to create; awkward first dates, shyly holding hands, whatever people in…relationships actually did. He wanted that. And that was when he understood what Nick meant. Nick was wonderful, sexy and funny and a great person, but he wasn’t a relationship person, and he wasn’t monogamous. And Nick was also right—it might’ve been what Harry wanted in the beginning, but it wasn’t what he wanted anymore. And then there was Louis, fucking Louis, who was so charming and handsome when he was talking to anyone but Harry, and he just didn’t get it.
“Harry? Haz? You all right?” Lou reaching for his arm shook Harry out of his reverie and he looked over at him.
“You all right?” Lou repeated, throwing the strap of his bag across his shoulder.
“Yeah,” Harry said quietly, picking up his bag. “I’ll see you Monday.”
Lou sighed, reaching for Harry’s arm again. “Do you wanna go out for drinks?”
“You want to go out for drinks?” Harry asked.
Lou paused. “No, I’m asking if you want to go out for drinks?”
“Theoretically, yes,” Lou said with a nod.
“Oh,” Harry said slowly. “I don’t… I mean, do you want to?” And what the hell was that, he asked himself. He had never been nervous in front of Lou before. Where were these nerves even coming from? The last person he wanted to make a fool of himself in front of was Lou.
Lou nodded. “Yeah, I would.”
“Then yes, I would,” Harry told him.
“Let’s go then,” Lou said, nodding towards the lift.
Oh, God, what have I gotten myself into? Harry asked himself fifteen minutes later as he and Lou walked into a local pub a few blocks down the road from the office. Lou ushered Harry over to a booth in the corner, one that probably could have fit about five people, and Lou climbed in next to him. Lou waved over a waitress as Harry struggled to put a good foot of distance between the two of them. Harry set his bag next to him, sucking in a deep breath.
“Can I get a vodka and cranberry?” Lou asked. “Haz? What do you want?”
“Can I get a Jack and Coke, please?”
“And two shots of Jack, one tab,” Lou told her.
“Lou, I can pay for my own,” Harry told him.
Lou smiled at the waitress. “One tab, please,” he repeated, pulling out his card and handing it over to her.
Harry picked at the peanuts placed in a bowl in the middle of the table. “I can pay for my own tab, Lou,” Harry said.
“You make it very difficult for a man to apologize, don’t you?” Lou asked him.
“Is that what this is? An apology?”
Lou shrugged as the waitress brought over their drinks. “Can we get some chips, too, please?” he asked, turning to look at Harry. “Do you want anything else?”
Harry shook his head. “Chips sound great. Thank you,” he told the waitress with a smile.
“Let me know if you need anything else,” the waitress said before walking off.
Lou picked up the shot glasses, handing one to Harry. “Cheers, mate.”
“Cheers,” Harry repeated, throwing back the shot without wincing. He set the shot glass down, resting his chin on his hand as he stared over at Lou. “You said this was an apology.”
Lou nodded. “I did.”
“What for?” Harry asked softly.
“I’m gonna need more shots for this,” Lou muttered.
Three hours and countless shots later, Harry was leaning against Lou’s side, chips cold and forgotten on the table. He was buzzed, not drunk, and just warm and less unsure of himself. Louis had his arm wrapped around Harry’s waist, fingers pressing against his hipbone. Despite their argument the day before and the tension that had been between them all day, they managed to actually have fun with one another. Once the shots and drinks started flowing, so did the conversation, and Harry was fucked, completely fucked, because he was completely enamored. Louis was funny, a little weird, handsome, charming, and just wonderful, and Harry was fucked because now he had seen this side of Louis, and he wanted to see it all of the time.
Harry snuggled deeper into Louis side, wrapping his arms around his waist and pulling him closer. He pressed his nose into the side of his neck, cutting Louis off from whatever he had been saying because Harry had not been paying attention.
“Y’alright, mate?” Louis asked, his voice a little higher, his blue eyes crinkling behind his glasses with laughter.
Harry nodded, shifting in the booth to curl up closer to Louis, hands slipping under his button up to press against his warm skin.
Louis cleared his throat, reaching for Harry’s hand and—well, the thing was, he really wanted to push Harry away. Or, well, he wanted to want to push Harry away, but he didn’t. He laced their fingers together and just let himself enjoy the feeling of Harry pressed against his side.
“You’re fun outside of the office,” Harry commented, resting his head on Lou’s shoulder, his breath fanning across his neck.
Lou laughed, picking up his drink and taking a sip. “Am I?”
Harry nodded, scooting closer until their hips were touching. “You’re so serious at work.”
“I have a serious job,” Lou told him with a smile.
Harry laughed, cheeks flushed due to the alcohol, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “You do! You do. You really do,” he said seriously with a nod.
Lou shook his head before taking another sip of his drink.
“Why are you giving me apology drinks?”
Lou froze, watching him out of the corner of his eye. And no. No, no, no, of course Harry would be an adorable drunk, completely precious and just… No. No.
“Hmm?” Harry prompted, his fingers sliding out of Lou’s to press against his lower back.
Lou shifted, closer to the table, trying to get away from Harry’s touch, but he couldn’t. “Because I was an asshole to you and your boyfriend earlier,” he said quietly.
Harry snorted. “He deserved it. He’s an arse. So are you, actually,” he added.
“Thanks?” Lou asked, though he had no right to be offended because Harry was only speaking the truth. He was an arse, to Nick, and especially to Harry.
“But at least you’re cute,” Harry commented.
Lou looked over at him. “Harry—“
“Shut up, Louis,” Harry told him, cupping the side of his jaw with one hand and pressing their lips together. He held him there tightly, fearing that Lou would pull away and run away, but he took that risk. It wasn’t a glamorous kiss, and it wasn’t even a particularly good one because of the angle, but Harry didn’t care. He fit against Lou, they just fit together, and it was perfect. He pulled Louis’ bottom lip between his teeth, nibbling it in the way that he had imagined for weeks and then—
Then it was over. Louis was pulling back, breathing heavily, and trying to distance himself from Harry. “We can’t do that, Harry—“
“Why the fuck not?” Harry asked with a groan.
“Because you’re eighteen, I’m your boss, you’re drunk—“
“Enough with the age thing, bloody hell,” Harry groaned. “I’m not even that drunk. I’ve wanted to kiss you since I had your cock in my mouth, all right?”
Louis coughed, looking around to see if anyone was paying attention to their conversation. “Harry, please keep your voice down. There’s a long list of why this is a bad idea—“
“No there’s not, there’s only one reason, Louis, and that’s the fact that you’re an idiot,” he snapped.
“I want you, Louis,” Harry said. “I’ve wanted you for weeks, and I haven’t tried to hide that from you. But, fuck, you don’t even see—why can’t you just see how much I bloody want you?” he asked, exasperated. “Christ.”
Louis sat there with his mouth open before he finally responded. “You have Nick. I’m not going to come between that,” he told him quietly.
Harry scoffed. “Nick and I are done, Lou. He ended things yesterday. There is no Nick anymore,” he muttered.
“So I’m a rebound then?”
“Christ!” Harry exclaimed. “It’s like you’re not listening to me at all!” He ran his hands through his hair in frustration, sucking in a deep breath.
Louis reached out for his arm. “Harry, it’s just not a good idea—“
“Oh, fuck off with that bullshit, Lou,” Harry told him. “Do you want me? Because sometimes I think you do, sometimes I’m so sure, and then sometimes I just…have no bloody idea,” he admitted.
Lou opened his mouth to speak but he couldn’t, he froze on the spot. Did he want Harry? Of course he did. But knowing he wanted him and admitting that he wanted him were two different things.
“Oh,” he said softly. “I just…” He shook his head, reaching for his bag and standing up. “I’ll see you Monday. Thanks for the drinks,” he said before walking out of the pub.
Lou watched him leave, knowing he probably should have stopped him, knowing that Harry probably thought he was being rejected. But Lou wasn’t… He wasn’t rejecting Harry. He just didn’t know what to do. And that was completely different… Wasn’t it?
Harry was growing tired of coming home and crying over something, it was getting old. He was surprised to see that Nick was still awake and lounging on the couch when he got back from the pub. His head was throbbing and he wasn’t in the mood to argue and, lately, any conversation with Nick ended in an argument.
“Have fun?” Nick asked
“Not particularly,” Harry pouted, kicking his boots off and tossing his wallet and keys on the kitchen table.
“How’s Lou?” Nick questioned, a tone in his voice suggesting that he didn’t really care but that he wanted to push Harry’s buttons.
Harry groaned. “He’s bloody wonderful. Is that what you want to hear?”
Nick shrugged. “So you were out with him?”
“Yes, I was. And you’ll be thrilled to know that nothing happened because since you ended things, no one bloody wants me. I’ve been a sexual pariah or something,” Harry snapped, stumbling over his words as he unbuttoned his shirt.
“What are you talking about?”
“Since you decided that you don’t want me,” Harry started, “no one does! Zayn has his precious Liam,” he said, trying to pull his shirt off and getting stuck. He muttered a curse and almost fell over, but Nick was by his side to stop him.
“Harry, how drunk are you?” Nick asked, grabbing Harry’s shirt and carefully taking if off of his shoulders.
“Not drunk enough,” he pouted, “because fucking Lou still doesn’t want me.” Harry crossed his arms and sat down on the couch.
“I’m sure he does,” Nick said, pushing Harry down lightly against the couch and pulling a blanket over his shoulders.
“No, he doesn’t,” Harry whispered, rubbing at his eyes and telling himself not to cry. “No one does.”
Nick felt his stomach twist as he tucked Harry into the couch. That last thing he wanted was to ever make Harry feel like he didn’t want him, like no one wanted him, because that wasn’t the truth. He just hoped that Harry would see it that way at some point.
“I owe you big time, Zayn, thank you,” Harry said, hanging up his mobile and looking around the apartment. It was half six and Nick was still gone. Harry had gone to see three flats earlier that day and already settled on one, a few blocks away in an older building; it was in his price range and on the fifth floor, which wasn’t bad except they didn’t have a lift. He could deal with that, though. He would call for some movers on Monday to arrange a day but for the evening, he was going to pack.
Twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the door to his flat and he opened it, revealing Zayn and Liam standing there.
Harry smiled. “My heroes.”
Zayn laughed. “I demand dinner and beer for my services,” he announced, stepping in and peeling off his jacket, hanging it on the rack by the door.
“I’m here out of the goodness of my heart,” Liam said with a smile, his jacket joining Zayn’s.
“I will cook you whatever you want,” Harry promised, “as long as we can get as much done tonight as possible.”
“We’ll manage,” Liam said encouragingly.
Harry led them into the bedroom where his clothes were scattered everywhere. “Good thing I don’t have a lot of things.”
Zayn stared at the pile of clothes on the bed. “That’s not a lot?”
Harry paused. “No?”
“I think I need a beer now,” Zayn decided with a nod.
“I’ll get you one,” Harry said, quickly doing so before joining them back in his bedroom, handing the beer to Zayn. “I really do appreciate both of you helping me. I know you probably have four hundred other things you’d rather be doing right now.”
Liam shrugged. “I don’t mind. A friend of Zayn’s is a friend of mine.”
Zayn smiled, squeezing Liam’s shoulder before looking back at Harry. “Do you have boxes?”
“I do!” Harry pulled out a few slats of cardboard and turned them into boxes. “The clothes can just be thrown wherever, I have a few outfits set out for this week so it isn’t a big deal.”
“When are you moving out?” Zayn asked, picking up some of Harry’s clothes and folding them before stacking them in one of the boxes.
“Whenever I can hire some movers. I have to talk to Lou and see if it’s possible to get a morning or afternoon off or something,” Harry said with a shrug.
“Good luck with that,” Zayn muttered. “I don’t even think he knows what a day off is. He’s always working.”
“You know, Niall is a great boss, always understanding,” Liam interjected.
Harry paused; the change in topic was so obvious that he couldn’t help but smile. “Is he now?”
Liam nodded, helping Zayn fold Harry’s clothes before boxing them up. “Just keep that in mind,” he said with a smile.
Harry laughed. “You’re not subtle at all.”
“I’m not trying to be. We’re trying to woo you away from the awful magazine industry and into the lovely world of public relations,” Liam said.
“Are you quoting Niall now?” Zayn asked.
Liam smiled. “He had me memorize that.”
“I’m thinking about it,” Harry said, stacking his shoes in a box.
“Are you?” Liam asked.
Zayn frowned. “You want to leave?”
Harry shrugged. “After my internship, yeah. I’m going to need an adult job. I don’t have enough in savings to pay for my flat for more than six months,” he told him.
“I thought you and Anne had been discussing a potential job,” Zayn commented.
Harry responded with another shrug.
Zayn sighed. “If you leave because of Lou, you’re a bloody idiot.”
“I know,” Harry said quietly.
Liam looked between the two of them. “What’s going on between you and Louis?”
“It’s complicated,” Zayn said.
“It’s not complicated. It’s nothing,” Harry corrected. “I’m going to pack up the bathroom.”
Zayn watched him for a minute before he sighed and continued to pack up his clothes.
“Should I not have asked that?” Liam asked.
Zayn shook his head. “You’re fine. They’re both just idiots.”
Liam nodded. “Should I apologize?”
Zayn smiled. “You’re so cute,” he said, leaning over and pressing his lips to Liam’s cheek quickly.
Liam flushed. “Shut up.”
About an hour later, Harry emerged from the bathroom, eyes red and his hair a mess. He set the box down, picking up the tape and sealing it before writing “BATHROOM” across it in his messy handwriting.
“What do you want for dinner?” Harry asked.
Zayn looked up from the box he was taping, the last box of Harry’s shoes and clothes. “Doesn’t matter,” he said with a shrug.
Harry frowned. “You’re done packing all the clothes?”
Liam nodded. “Teamwork. It’s a key principle of the job—“
Harry laughed. “If you’re still trying to sell me on an interview, you don’t have to. If Niall is offering, I’d love to take an interview with him,” Harry told him.
“Perfect,” Liam said with a smile. “My work here is done.”
“So you were dating me to get to Harry? I see how it is,” Zayn said, a teasing tone to his voice but Harry knew that he was probably actually wondering if that’s all it was.
Liam wrapped an arm around Zayn’s waist, pressing a quick kiss to his lips. “Never. Harry was just a perk; you’re the reason I’m with you.”
Zayn cleared his throat, trying to fight the flush that was rising up his neck.
“So…tacos or pasta?” Harry asked.
Harry laughed. “For dinner. You didn’t forget already, did you?”
“Of course not,” Zayn said. “What are you in the mood for?” he asked Liam.
Liam shrugged. “I’m quite partial to pasta.”
“Pasta it is,” Harry decided.
It wasn’t until the three of them were sitting at the table eating their dinner that Nick got home, kicking his shoes against the wall to announce his arrival. Harry turned around, sending him a small smile.
Nick smiled, tight-lipped. “Who are your friends?”
“This is Zayn, I work with him, and Liam, his boyfriend,” Harry introduced.
“He’s kind of—“
“Boyfriend,” Harry repeated, successfully cutting off both of their protests. “This is Nick.”
“Nice to meet you,” Zayn said, Liam echoing the sentiment.
Nick looked around the flat, boxes pressed up against the back of the couch, one of the bookcases empty, and empty boxes lying around. “You’re leaving so soon?”
Harry bit the inside of his cheek. “Sometime this week. I just have to call the movers,” he told him. “I found a flat earlier. One that you suggested, actually, from the paper.” Harry wasn’t above being passive-aggressive but it was obvious that Nick wanted him out and, if he was being honest, he desperately wanted out as well.
“There’s more on the stove if you’re hungry,” Harry said.
Two hours later, Zayn and Liam were hugging him goodbye, leaving Harry alone with Nick in the flat. Harry wasn’t exactly ignoring him, no; he just wanted to finish packing whatever he could. He was having lunch with his sister the next day, probably an impromptu shopping trip, just to get out of the flat.
“I didn’t know you were leaving so soon. Why didn’t you tell me?” Nick asked.
Harry shrugged, leaning over to pile some of his books in a box.
Nick rested a hand on Harry’s lower back, sliding under the thin fabric of the shirt, and he massaged the skin softly.
Harry shivered, standing up and pushing Nick’s hand away. “You made it clear that you’d like me to leave, so I made it happen,” he said with a shrug.
“You left. You were gone when I woke up and had this passive-aggressive note on the table with flat suggestions. If that’s not an indicator that you want me out, I don’t know what is,” Harry told him.
“I didn’t mean for you to take it like that,” Nick said. “I thought I was being helpful.”
“It still hurt, Nick.”
Nick went to hug him, but Harry slipped out of his grasp. “Christ, Harry, is this how it’s going to be now?” he asked.
“Yes,” Harry said. “Because that’s what you wanted.”
Nick ran his hands through his hair.
Harry sighed. “No, that’s not fair to you,” he muttered. “I’m sorry, Nick.”
“You’re all right.”
“No, I’m…upset and hurt and taking it out on you. All you did was be honest with me and I’m…acting like a child,” he shrugged.
“I never wanted to hurt you, you know,” Nick interjected.
Harry nodded. “I know. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was leaving this week. The flat I saw was already cleaned out and…” he shrugged. “I thought it’d be easier this way.”
“You’ve been in my life, in my flat, for well over a year, Harry. Nothing’s going to make this easy,” he told him.
“I know,” he repeated before he paused. He didn’t want to get into another emotional talk about their feelings; he couldn’t handle that. “I was going to leave you the Bond Collection.”
Nick smiled. “You’re all packed up to move and you’re offering me The Bond Collection. Oh, Harold, you shouldn’t have,” he teased.
Harry laughed, knowing that he would miss Nick’s teasing and jokes more than anything else, and he picked up the DVDs, setting them in a box. He threw a couple more DVDs on top of them before he looked back up at Nick. “Are you sure?”
Nick nodded. “Do you need help packing?”
“I got it. But thank you.”
“Goodnight, Nick.” Harry watched Nick escape into the guest bedroom and he ran his hands through his hair. Everywhere he looked was a constant reminder of their time together and, while most of the memories were good ones, Harry felt like he was suffocating. He pulled his mobile out of his pocket, searching and saving the information for a few different movers, before sending a text to Lou.
possible for me to get a few hours off this week? moving and need to schedule a time with the movers. –h
will talk monday. should work out. we’re meeting on location at ten on Monday, I’ll send u the address. –l
thanks. see you Monday. –h
have a good weekend. –l
Harry had never even seen a photo shoot set before so he had no idea what to expect when he showed up Monday morning at ten am. Louis was fidgeting with his camera and ordering people around, setting up lights and a whole slew of other things that Harry couldn’t name even if he wanted to. He walked around for a few minutes, visiting the clothing department where the hair and makeup stylists were chatting, bored. He fiddled with the trunk of accessories, picking up a flower crown, and he paused, glancing around to make sure no one was paying attention and he set it atop his head, brushing some of the his curls out of his eyes.
“What are you doing?”
Harry turned quickly, eyes wide, and was surprised when a flash went off in his face. “What the hell was that?” he asked.
Lou bit the inside of his cheek, holding back a smile. “It’s called a flash. Why are you wearing a flower crown?”
“I don’t—“ he paused, reaching up to take it off.
“Keep it on,” Lou told him. “It’s not hurting anyone.”
Harry nodded. “Right. Um, how…can I help?”
Lou shrugged, snapping a couple more pictures of Harry in quick succession.
“Stop that,” Harry said with a nervous laugh. “Trust me, you don’t want pictures of me on your camera.”
Lou scrolled through the pictures he had just taken and shrugged again. “The camera loves you,” he muttered.
Harry flushed. No. There’s no way Louis was flirting with him. No way. That just…didn’t happen. Not at all. Nope.
“Can you get my iPad out of my bag for me and check my emails? Cara’s supposed to be here any minute,” Louis said before he turned and walked away.
Harry grabbed Lou’s iPad and wandered over to the bench to sit next to him, pulling up his emails. “Isn’t this what Zayn is supposed to do?”
“Probably,” Lou told him, messing with the lens on his camera. “But he’s off today.”
“Then why am I here?” Harry grumbled.
Lou smiled. “Because you got me into this mess so you have to stay here all day with me even though there’s next to nothing productive that you can do,” he told him.
“Lovely,” Harry declared, pulling up his emails and reading them off, responding when appropriate, before Lou waved him off, telling him to find him some tea. And that, that wasn’t an easy task; it took Harry nearly thirty minutes to find some proper tea, a kind that wouldn’t make Lou throw it back in his face (not that he ever had but, well, there was a first time for everything). When he found Lou again, he was in the center of all of the staff who had been setting up, an unhappy look on his face.
“All right, well,” Lou said with a sigh. “Cara’s not showing up. So—“
“What do you mean?” Harry interrupted, pushing through the people to hand Lou his tea.
Lou glanced down at his mobile before shoving it into his pocket. “She can’t do it. So I’m fucked. And Anne is going to fire me and—“
“There’s got to be another way. Who else do you know who might be able to help?”
“No one, Harry. Cara was doing me a favor—“
“No, there’s got to be someone else. Who can I call? How can I help?”
Lou narrowed his eyes. “Harry, you don’t—“
Harry grabbed his arm, careful not to spill his tea, and dragged him out of the crowd. “Everyone just…go do something. Meet us back here in ten minutes,” Harry instructed, pulling Lou against his will over towards the bench they had been sitting on earlier in the day.
“Harry, stop,” Lou said, jerking his arm away. “Just stop. I’m going to get fired and—“
“No, you’re not,” Harry said, decidedly stubborn. “I’m going to fix it.”
Lou raised one eyebrow. “Really? While wearing a crown of flowers?”
Harry pouted, reaching up and tugging the crown off of his head, setting it next to him. “I’m not letting you fail. I got you into this, and I’m not letting you fail.”
Lou sighed, looking down at his hands. “I don’t deserve your help.”
“I don’t know why you think that, but you’re wrong,” Harry told him.
“Maybe because I’ve been an arse to you since day one?” Lou suggested.
“How can I help?” Harry repeated.
“There’s nothing you can do, Harry,” Lou snapped.
“Not unless you’re going to wear the bloody clothes yourself, which is…” he trailed off, head tilting to the side as he studied Harry’s face. “Actually…”
Harry’s mouth dropped open and he shook his head. “Oh, I didn’t mean—“
“The camera does love you…” Lou repeated, looking up at Harry from under his eyelashes.
“You don’t actually expect me to…model for you, do you?” Harry asked, feeling a sense of panic rising in the pit of his stomach.
Lou shrugged. “You asked how you could help…”
Harry sighed, pointing over to the rack of clothes. “You do know that none of those will fit me, right?”
“Then it’s a good thing it’s an advertisement for a fragrance, not clothes,” Lou told him.
“It’s not for clothes?”
Lou shook his head. “So…we could find something to fit you. You’re not that big.”
Harry scoffed. “I beg to differ.”
Lou swallowed, cheeks flushing and he looked away. “I would owe you really big, Harry,” he said softly.
“I would completely ruin it, Lou. I’m not a model. I’m not… The camera doesn’t love me, alright?” he said, a mocking tone to his tone as he repeated Lou’s words. “I could completely ruin the shoot and then you would be fired—“
“Or you would be saving my arse,” Louis interrupted. “I need you to do this for me, Harry.”
“Please,” Louis repeated, his tone softer. “I know I don’t deserve your help—“
“Stop that,” Harry groaned before he paused to consider his options. One, he could refuse and watch Louis fail and inevitably get fired, knowing that he probably could have helped prevent it especially since, yeah, it was kind of his fault Lou was in this position. Two, he could try to find someone else in Louis’ extensive contact list to pull a last minute favor which, well, probably wouldn’t work. Or three, he could suck it up for a few hours, help his boss out, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Then he paused because, Louis was right, he would owe Harry. And Harry knew exactly what he wanted.
“So…” Lou drawed out, “are you going to answer me?”
Harry smiled softly. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll do it. On one condition.”
Louis sighed because he really should’ve known that Harry would pull something like that. “Yes?”
“I want a proper kiss,” Harry decided.
Lou’s mouth dropped open. “That’s not—“
“One kiss. Maybe two. And a real one, a proper one, not like that drunk almost-snog from Friday night,” Harry told him.
“It wasn’t, you’re right,” he said with a nod. “It was pathetic, and I’m willing to give you another chance because I know you can do better.”
Lou sighed because he had two options at that point: fail or succeed. If he failed, he would be fired, his name ruined, and…that was horrible. If he succeeded, he could potentially get a promotion, do something he loved, and get to kiss Harry with a relatively free conscious. It was obvious what he was going to do; he didn’t even have to really think about it. He let out another sigh and nodded. “All right. One kiss.”
“Maybe two,” Harry corrected with a smug smile on his face.
“Maybe two,” Louis agreed through gritted teeth. “Now get to hair and make up. I have to readjust the lighting.”
Harry smiled and stood up, walking over to the hair and make up stylists to let them know what was going on. He wasn’t exactly thrilled to be in front of a camera making a fool of himself for hours, especially when Louis was the one who would be photographing him, but when he stopped to think about what he was getting out of the it, it didn’t seem like that bad of a deal.
Louis heart was thundering in his chest by the end of the shoot. He wasn’t lying when he said the camera loved Harry—it really did. He might’ve been one of the most photogenic people he had ever known. He scrolled through the pictures and he was pretty sure he knew which ones to present at the meeting on Wednesday. He didn’t know how he was going to explain it to Anne that Cara had bailed and he’d volunteered Harry’s services, but he would worry about that later.
He tucked his camera away in the bag, next to his iPad, and he wandered over to the hair and makeup tent (because, really, that’s all it was) where Harry was changing. He watched as Harry tossed the brown leather bag aside, followed by the bow tie, and the white button up before he pulled his black v-neck back on. He change back into his jeans and boots, shoving his mobile and wallet into his back pocket and turned around, meeting Lou’s eyes; he smiled softly.
Lou walked over to him, hoisting the strap of his bag over his shoulder. He paused in front of Harry, an awkward silence overcoming them, and he scratched at the back of his neck. “I…” he sighed. “Thank you.”
Harry smiled, shrugging on his blazer. “It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. And you’re such a brilliant photographer that I know it’ll turn out brilliant, even if it is just photographs of me,” he teased.
Lou knew he was blushing under Harry’s constant praise, though he still didn’t think he deserved any of it. “Yeah, well,” he shrugged. He didn’t deserve someone like Harry, someone who he shoved away, someone who he had probably made cry at some point, yet there Harry was, helping him out, complimenting him, looking at him as if the sun shined out of his arse.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow, then?” Harry asked.
Louis nodded. “Yeah, bright and early.”
“Oh, is it possible to get some time off Thursday? That’s the soonest day this moving company is free and,” he shrugged, “I’d like to just be moved out already.”
“You’re moving out of Nick’s?” Lou questioned.
Harry nodded. “Yeah.”
“So you weren’t joking…”
“No, I wasn’t. I meant every word I said, Lou.”
“We don’t have to talk about that now,” Harry told him. “You’ve had a long and stressful day. You need to go home, have some wine, and relax.”
Lou nodded. “Yeah. Okay.”
Harry smiled, patting Lou’s shoulder, before turning to leave.
Lou reached for his hand, stopping him and pulling him close to his chest. He hesitated, just slightly, before leaning up to press their lips together. He felt Harry smile against him, kissing him back just barely, before pulling away. “What?”
“You don’t really think that counts, do you?” Harry teased.
“Oh, Lou, baby, you know it’s going to be on my terms,” he told him, sending him a wink. “But thanks for showing some initiative. I’m proud of you.”
Lou grinned. “You’re ridiculous.”
Harry nodded. “More than likely, yes. I’ll see you tomorrow, Lou.”
Harry woke up Thursday morning at half-seven and he was not exactly thrilled to be up so early. However, he was holding onto the fact that within six hours, he would be in his own flat and that, well that was pretty exciting. He climbed out of bed, brushing his teeth and pulling on his tightest pair of jeans (because they were the only ones he didn’t pack up) and a white v-neck. He shoved his mobile into his back pocket, just in case the movers who were supposed to show at eight called to say they were running late, and he wandered into the kitchen. Nick was already at the table, paper and tea in hand, while Harry made himself a cup of tea.
“Morning,” Nick greeted, setting the paper down.
Harry smiled. “How’d you sleep?”
Nick shrugged. “What time are the movers getting here?”
“About eight,” Harry told him, taking a sip from his mug.
“They’re just taking the big stuff and the boxes since I don’t have a car,” Harry told him. “The rest of the furniture I ordered will be delivered near noon.”
“You could’ve had some of my stuff.”
Harry shrugged. “I wanted something new.”
“Something that didn’t have our naked bodies sprawled over them?” Nick teased.
Harry laughed. “Well, the leather couch you have wasn’t always conducive to sexy naked romps,” he said.
Nick shrugged. “We always made it work.”
Harry smiled, taking another sip of his tea, enjoying the silence between the two of them. It had finally gotten to the point where it wasn’t exactly awkward being around Nick, especially since Nick seemed dedicated to make Harry as comfortable as he could. Harry was going to miss the companionship and the teasing, but he didn’t want that to be all that Nick was to him. He was finally starting to understand where Nick had been coming from and, while it hurt, he kept telling himself it was for the best, because he knew it was.
Nick was the one who let the movers into the flat. Harry was in the bedroom, finishing throwing his clothes into a duffel bag, and when he wandered out to the living area, he stopped dead in his tracks. No way, he told himself, attractive movers only existed in movies, right? There’s no way there was a six-foot-whatever gorgeous piece of man in his flat, ready to move his furniture.
“This is Ben,” Nick said with a wave of his hand, “and this is Richard. They’ll be helping you move.”
Harry ignored the look on Nick’s face, one that he couldn’t place, and he smiled, reaching his hand out to Ben. “I’m Harry, pleasure to meet you.”
Ben gripped his hand tightly, a small smile on his face. “Pleasure. We should probably start with the larger items as they’re usually most difficult to move.”
“Yes, of course,” Harry said with a nod. “They’re in the bedroom. This way.”
Nick rolled his eyes, leaning against the wall as he watched Ben follow Harry into the bedroom.
Harry shoved his hands into his pockets, causing his shirt to ride up just slightly and, okay, maybe he did that on purpose. (He did.) “Um, it’ll be these two dressers, the bed frame, the mattresses, the desk, and two book cases that are out in the living area. I’m having couches and a table delivered later,” he told him, pointing randomly around the room to pieces of furniture.
“What about those boxes and tubs?” Ben asked.
“That’s just…clothes and miscellaneous things,” Harry shrugged.
“We’ll get those last,” Ben told him, stepping outside of the bedroom to call for Richard so they could start the process.
Harry wasn’t the most physical being on the planet. He usually tried to avoid exercise except for a rare game of football when the weather was nice, so he appointed himself as the supervisor for the move. He made sure nothing was broken and everything was collected. As Ben was carrying the last box out of the door that Harry was holding open, he might’ve let his hand slip and graze Ben’s arse as he left. Ben, for the most part, played it cool, carrying the boxes with Richard as Harry bit back a smile.
“I guess you aren’t still torn up about us, then, are you?”
Harry looked up, meeting Nick’s eyes as he leaned against the wall. He shrugged. “We’re not together so you don’t get a say in what I do, Nick. Especially since we were never exclusive to begin with,” Harry told him.
Nick sighed. “You’re staring at him as if you want to—“
“What?” Harry interrupted. “As if I want to what?” He shook his head. “Dammit, Nick, you can’t have it all, okay? You ended things. We fucked around with other people when we were together, so what makes you think I would be shy about flirting with someone in front of you now?”
“You’re right,” Nick decided.
“Okay, is everything packed up?” Ben asked, walking back into the flat with Richard following closely behind him.
Harry plastered on his best smile. “It is. Would you guys like some tea before we head over to the new flat?”
“We really shouldn’t…” Ben trailed off.
“One cup of tea won’t hurt anyone,” Harry told him.
Ben sighed but gave him a nod, giving in reluctantly. “Sounds lovely.”
It took barely half the time to unload all of the furniture and boxes, loading everything up the stairs and into Harry’s new flat. It was small, but he didn’t need a lot of room. He had Ben and Richard set the bed up in the furthest corner of the one-room flat. He set about unloading some of his boxes while Richard and Ben carried everything else.
“Where do you want the dresser?” Ben asked, biceps flexing as he readjusted his grip on the piece of furniture.
“Against the wall, please,” he instructed.
They set it down against the wall, pressing it a little further back.
“Actually,” Harry sighed, shaking his head. “No, can we try it over here, please?” Harry tilted his head to the side as he watched Ben bend over, lifting up the furniture again to move it across the room. Harry took a step back, eyeing the placement and, he didn’t really care where the furniture was because he could move it himself, but he was taking advantage of, and enjoying the view. “Actually—“
“You do know we’re not supposed to decorate your entire flat, right?” Ben asked, his voice stern but there was a twinkle in his eye that couldn’t be overlooked.
Harry smiled, running a hand through his curls and fluffing them up subconsciously. “But you’ll make an exception for me because I’m so cute, right?”
Ben cleared his throat and looked at the dresser. “I think it looks good over here.”
“I’m going to go get the night stand,” Richard announced out of nowhere, slipping out of the flat and leaving Ben alone with Harry.
“Your roommate seemed pretty unhappy you were moving out,” Ben said quietly.
Harry shrugged. “Nick doesn’t get a say in what I do anymore.”
“So…no girlfriend moving in with you?”
Harry laughed. “That wasn’t even subtle, Ben, but I’m flattered,” he told him with a cheeky grin. “Just me flying solo this time around.”
Ben nodded. “It’s a…nice place,” he decided.
“It’s small,” Harry shrugged, “which is interesting because I’ve always thought bigger was better.”
Ben coughed and awkwardly rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. “So…”
“We should go out for drinks sometime,” Harry told him.
“We should,” Harry said definitively with a nod. He pulled his mobile out of his pocket, handing it to Ben so he could program in his number.
“Darling, we’re all a little gay,” he interrupted, motioning for him to put in his number.
Ben smiled, tapping in his number and walking over to Harry, sliding the phone into his back pocket. “I was going to say I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend,” he told him, and he kept his hand on Harry’s arse longer than was necessary, well, no one needed to know that.
Harry smiled, resting a hand on Ben’s chest as he leaned up to whisper in his ear. “Neither am I.”
“Am I interrupting your game, Ben?” Richard asked, carrying in the nightstand and setting it next to the bed.
Ben flushed lightly and he cleared his throat.
“No, we got all the important stuff out of the way,” Harry told him, sending Ben a flirtatious smile.
“I guess we’re done here then,” Ben said softly.
Harry pouted. “You guys can stay if you want. I don’t have to be at work until half noon. I could make us lunch?”
Ben shook his head. “We have another job in an hour.”
“Pleasure meeting you, Harry,” Richard said.
Harry nodded and walked over to the kitchen, pulling his wallet out of his shoulder bag and pulling out the stack of cash he had set aside for the move. He double counted it before walking over to Ben and slipping it in the front pocket of his jeans. “The pleasure was all mine,” Harry said with a smile.
Ben laughed softly, muttering something under his breath that Harry couldn’t make out, and he left the flat with Richard before he could do anything stupid.
Harry smiled to himself. Flirting with Ben had been different than whenever he flirted with Nick or Louis. It was nice. Ben was nice. And while he doubted if it would go anywhere, it was a nice little reassurance that Harry was still able to render someone nearly speechless.
Louis looked up when Harry ran into his office, a big smile on his face. “Can I help you?”
Harry smiled. “Thank you so much for allowing me time off this morning, Lou,” he said. “I got everything moved in!”
“You seem really excited for someone going through a break up,” Lou commented.
Harry shrugged. “As Nick told me plenty of times, we were never really together—“
“Break-up is still the best term used to describe it,” he said.
Harry sucked in a deep breath. “Okay, break-up. And why shouldn’t I be? If someone doesn’t want to be with me, why should I want to be with them?”
“Great point,” Lou muttered.
“So are you coming over for dinner tomorrow night?” Harry asked.
Lou dropped his pen, his eyes widening behind his glasses, and he leveled his gaze to meet Harry’s. “Pardon?”
Harry smiled. “I’m having a dinner party. I already invited Zayn and Liam, they’re both excited, and I think you should come, too.”
“You think I should come, too?” Lou asked.
“I want you to come,” Harry said, correcting his words.
Lou sighed. “I don’t—“
“If you say that you don’t think it’s a good idea, I might slap you,” he interrupted.
“Tomorrow night, half six. Do you have any food allergies?”
“Brilliant,” Harry said with a wide smile. “I’ll make something delicious, I promise.”
Louis didn’t know why he was standing outside of Harry’s new flat, a bottle of wine in hand, at quarter to seven Friday night. He knocked twice before he lost his nerve and he heard the unmistakable sound of Harry’s laugh before the door flew open.
Harry pushed his curls out of his eyes, an infectious smile on his face. “I knew you’d show up.”
Lou shrugged. “Did you give me a choice?”
“Not really,” Harry replied with nod. “Come on in. Zayn and Liam are already here.”
Harry grabbed Lou’s arm, leading him into the flat and waving his arms. “This…is my place,” he said with a shrug.
“Quaint,” Harry corrected. “And my budget didn’t really allow something spacious.”
Lou nodded, sitting down at the table across from Zayn.
“It’s a nice place, Harry,” Liam said. “And once you interview with Niall, you’ll be able to afford something really nice.”
Lou frowned. “You have an interview with Niall Horan?” he asked.
Harry shrugged. “Possibly,” he said, pouring Lou a glass of wine and setting it in front of him.
“Because I’ll need a job once my internship is up,” Harry told him, walking over to the stove and stirring the chicken.
“Let’s not talk about work,” Zayn interrupted. “Let’s just have a nice dinner and thoroughly enjoy Harry’s new flat.”
Harry smiled, picking up his wine glass. “Cheers,” he said, taking a sip and finishing dinner. He piled the plates, passing them out to everyone, and he sat down next to Lou
“This is delicious, Harry,” Liam told him.
Harry ducked his head, curls falling over his eyes. “Thanks.” He turned to face Lou, who didn’t notice, and just watched him for a moment. It had only taken nearly two months but Lou was opening up to him, even just a little bit, and Harry was fucked. Because, yeah, Lou was wonderful. And he was finding out little quirks about him every day that just solidified the fact that he was royally, royally fucked.
“Do I have something on my face?” Lou asked, cheeks slightly flushed, as he turned to look at Harry who was just staring at him.
Harry shook his head, taking a bite of his dinner. “Just admiring the view.”
Lou rolled his eyes, reaching over and grabbing Harry’s chin, forcing him to look down at his plate. “I can’t eat with you watching me.”
Zayn coughed. “Can you two stop flirting? It’s making me sick.”
“Oh, like you’re one to talk,” Harry said with a laugh. “You and Liam are bloody disgusting. Don’t think I don’t know when you’re texting him at work. You get that stupid Liam smile on your face.”
Zayn flushed and sputtered. “I do not—“
“You have a Liam smile?” Liam asked, reaching over to grab Zayn’s hand with his own.
Lou rolled his eyes again.
“It’s not our fault affection makes you sick,” Zayn said, sticking his tongue out at his friend.
“It doesn’t make me sick. I just have no use for it,” Lou said with a shrug.
Zayn scoffed. “Yes, you do. Don’t lie.”
“Everyone has need for affection,” Liam added. “It’s human nature.”
“Maybe yours. Not mine.”
“Liar,” Harry said.
Lou froze, turning to look over towards his intern. “Pardon?”
“I don’t believe you for a second,” Harry told him with a soft smile. “I’d prove it, but we have company.” Harry sent him a wink before taking a drink of his wine.
Lou didn’t respond, taking a sip of his own wine, before finishing his dinner. He didn’t even know how to respond to Harry sometimes.
Two hours and half of a movie later, Zayn was falling asleep on Liam’s shoulder. Harry was tossing popcorn at him, most of the pieces landing on Lou’s lap, and he propped his feet up on the coffee table.
“If you’re tired, you can go home, you know,” Harry told him. “I’m not going to make you stay.”
Zayn groaned. “I can’t help it that my boss is a total slave driver,” he muttered.
“Hey!” Louis protested, picking up some of the popcorn that had been thrown onto his lap and tossing it at Zayn.
Zayn smiled, picking it off of his shirt and popping it into his mouth. “Think we’re gonna head out now,” he said.
Liam nodded. “Thanks for having us over, Harry.”
“Only if you’re cooking though,” Zayn told him.
“You didn’t eat dessert,” Harry said with a shrug.
“There’s dessert?” Lou asked.
Harry nodded. “But Zayn and Liam don’t get any because they’re leaving early.”
“I’ll stay for dessert,” Zayn said.
“Nope. You don’t get it now.”
“Well…what did you make?” Liam asked.
Harry smiled and shrugged. “It’s a secret.”
“I’ll bring you something Monday,” Harry promised.
Zayn nodded as Liam stood up, reaching for his hands and allowing his boyfriend to haul him to his feet.
Harry stood as well, hugging them both before leading them out of the flat and wishing them goodbye, have a good weekend, the usual. When the door shut behind Zayn and Liam, Harry turned to face Lou, who was looking at his lap, studying his hands.
“You want dessert?”
Lou looked over to him and nodded. “Yeah, all right.”
Harry nodded and walked over towards his small kitchen, opening up a tub and pulling out two of the cupcakes he had made before his company arrived. He turned and handed one to Lou before jumping up on the counter, his heels tapping against the front of the cupboard as he peeled away the wrapper and took a bite.
Lou did the same, heart pounding unevenly in his chest as he watched Harry. It had been five days, five days since the photo shoot, five days that Harry has had to collect on his bet—a kiss—and he wasn’t even so much as looking at Lou as if he wanted to kiss him. Lou knew he should’ve felt relieved, but instead he just felt nervous, on edge, and he didn’t know why. Okay, he knew why. One look at Harry and he knew why. The kid had started as a pain in his side, albeit an attractive one, and had somehow wormed his way into almost every aspect of his life; he had saved his arse during the photo shoot, even if it had been his fault that he was there in the first place, and he couldn’t even be mad. Because Harry had taken a chance on him, when he didn’t even want to take a chance on himself, and that…that was something else.
Harry finished his cupcake and set the wrapper aside on the counter, meeting Lou’s eyes. “You all right?”
Lou nodded, taking another bite of the cupcake. And, okay, Harry could bake quite well. And he could cook. And he could suck—No. No. Well, technically, yes, yes he could. But Lou had to stop his mind from going there all of the bloody time.
Harry laughed quietly.
“You just…” Harry trailed off, reaching over to wipe some of the icing off of the corner of Lou’s lips
Louis froze when Harry’s thumb pressed against his lips and he had to actively fight the urge to pull him off the counter and—No.
Harry’s eyes fell to Lou’s lips, his thumb running across his lower lip, smearing the white icing over it. Lou’s tongue acted on its own, reaching out to lick the icing off of his lips, and Harry couldn’t stop the quiet moan that escaped his lips. “Christ, Lou,” he whispered.
“Can I kiss you?” Lou asked breathlessly.
Harry nodded. “Of course.”
Louis set the rest of his cupcake on the counter and slid his hands into Harry’s hair, pulling his head down so their lips could meet. Harry moaned, hands finding Lou’s hips and pulling him closer to the counter, wrapping his ankles around the back of his thighs. Lou’s tongue traced his bottom lip and Harry could taste the sugar from the icing and he slid his hands from Lou’s hip to grip his arse through his back trouser pockets. Lou pulled away, pressing a chaste kiss against Harry’s lips, and resting their foreheads together.
Harry smiled, nudging his nose against Lou’s. “That was nice,” he murmured.
“Just nice?” Lou asked, smiling as he slid his hands down Harry’s neck to rest at his waist.
Harry nodded. “I’m sure you’ll have at least two more chances to change my mind,” he teased.
Lou pulled away slightly, his eyebrows furrowed. “What—“
“What? You don’t really think that counted do you?” Harry interrupted with a wide smile.
“I just…” Lou trailed off, shaking his head. “Never mind.”
The smile fell from Harry’s face as Lou stepped away, his hands falling from his pockets. “You just what?”
“Nothing, Harry,” he said, his tone terse.
“No, talk to me,” Harry said, jumping off the counter and reaching for Lou’s hand as he turned away.
“Why haven’t you kissed me?” Louis asked quickly, his cheeks flushing.
Harry let out a short laugh. “Is that what this is about?”
“You—You—I just… What the fuck do you want from me, Harry?”
Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ve already told you that, Lou,” he said, forcing his tone to remain level. It wouldn’t last; he could feel a fight brewing between them and he was just over it.
“You can’t, you can’t, you can’t,” Harry said with a groan, rolling his eyes. “You can’t bloody do anything, can you?”
“No, it’s excuses,” he snapped, cutting him off. “You can’t date me, you can’t sleep with me, you can’t whatever with me, but I tell you I’m going to kiss you and now you’re all antsy and asking me why I haven’t?” He shook his head, growing frustrated. “You can’t have it both ways, Lou. You can’t tell me that you can’t be with me, though I know you want to, and then ask me why I haven’t kissed you. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Then how does it work?” Lou asked. “Because I don’t bloody know what to do with you anymore.”
Harry paused, watching Lou for a minute. It took a lot to get any sort of reaction out of him, but this wasn’t the reaction he wanted. Harry shrugged. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“You’re so bloody frustrating, Harry, I can’t even deal with this anymore,” Lou snapped, walking towards the entrance and sliding his shoes on.
“You’re leaving? Are you—“
“Yes, I’m leaving,” Lou interrupted, grabbing his jacket and sliding it on. “I shouldn’t have come over anyway.”
Harry scratched the back of his neck. “And you have the nerve to say that I’m frustrating,” he muttered.
Louis scoffed. “You—You just—“ he shook his head. “You tell me that I can’t have it all, Harry, but neither can you.”
“I don’t want it all. I just want you,” Harry told him, his heart pounding in his chest. He hadn’t the need to admit that to anyone, possibly ever, because everything with Nick had been so fluid and noncommittal but he didn’t want that with Lou. He wanted feelings and Sunday mornings but he didn’t want this.
“I told you that’s not possible, Harry,” Louis whispered.
“In three weeks I won’t be your intern anymore. Would it be possible then?”
Lou sighed. “I don’t know, Harry.”
Harry shook his head. “You never do,” he said sadly.
“Maybe you should go, Louis,” Harry told him, walking past him to open up the door to his flat.
Louis sighed. He wanted to say goodbye, apologize, pull Harry close and press his nose against his neck, breathing in his scent and begging for forgiveness that he didn’t deserve, but he couldn’t, he just couldn’t. Instead he just walked out of the flat with no goodbye, leaving Harry in stunned silence behind him.
Monday was awkward, Tuesday was sufficiently awkward, and by Wednesday, Harry was over it. Of course, he was actually over it by Saturday but he spent the weekend seething and shopping with Gemma, so it wasn’t completely horrible. But Wednesday, Wednesday was the day that he simultaneously wanted to slap the kiss the shit out of Lou, and he wasn’t sure which side was going to win.
“You really need to sort your shit out, Lou,” Zayn said, rifling through some papers as he stood behind Lou.
Lou frowned as Harry slammed the door shut; he turned to face Zayn. “Pardon?”
Zayn nodded towards the door. “You and Harry. You’re so dysfunctional,” he muttered.
“We are not.”
“You haven’t said two words to him outside of get my tea or file these papers or what have you in days,” Zayn noted. “You gonna tell me what happened after Liam and I left, or do you want me to guess?”
“Nothing happened,” Lou said, repeating the same sentence that he had been telling Zayn over and over the last two days.
“Keep telling yourself that,” Zayn muttered.
Lou sighed, running his hands through his hair. “We kissed.”
“Friday night,” Lou said. “And then we got into a fight.”
“Gotta fix that, mate,” Zayn said with a shrug.
“Why is that up to me?” Lou asked with a scoff.
“Because you’re probably the reason why you two were fighting. I know you, Lou,” he told him.
Louis rolled his eyes. “Piss off.”
Zayn held up a hand in mock surrender. “Don’t get mad at me because you know I’m right.”
Harry walked back into the office, a stack of folders in hand, and he tossed them on Lou’s desk. The folders shifted the papers that Lou had been looking at, and Harry set down his mug of tea, a bit sloshing over the sides. “There you go, Your Highness,” he told him, crossing his arms over his chest.
Zayn shook his head. “I’m going to go…not be here,” he muttered, setting some files down on Lou’s desk before exiting the office. He sent Lou a look before the door shut, pointing to Harry and mouthing fix it and that was really all he could do.
Lou rolled his eyes, picking a tissue out of the box on his desk and wiping up the excess tea that had spilled over the side of his mug. “Thanks for spilling that,” he said sarcastically.
“You’re welcome,” Harry replied.
Lou sighed, taking a sip of his tea and straightening up the files on his desk. “Did you finish—“
“Did you send the email to—“
“Can you let me finish a bloody sentence, Harry?”
Harry’s eyebrows rose and he shrugged. “By all means, go ahead.”
“We can’t keep doing this, arguing all the bloody time over stupid shit—“
“It’s not stupid,” Harry interrupted.
Louis sighed. “I don’t want to fight with you, Harry.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Stand up,” he repeated.
Louis pushed his chair back away from his desk and he stood up, crossing his arms over his chest. “Well?”
Harry walked behind him, crowding against Lou and pushing him back against the desk, hands resting on the cool surface on either side of Lou’s hips. He stared at him for a minute, trying to gauge his reaction, and the only thing he knew was that Lou wanted it, he could feel it. “I’m gonna kiss you,” he said quietly.
Lou tilted his head up. “Is this one gonna count?” he asked facetiously.
Harry smiled, just barely. “Oh, yes,” he told him before crushing their lips together. He didn’t want to barely kiss Lou, he didn’t want a soft kiss that made his lips tingle for a few seconds after they pulled away; he wanted something more substantial and, dammit, he was going to get it. Harry grabbed Lou’s hips, holding him in place, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. Lou let a quiet moan slip through his lips as he wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist.
Harry slid his hands upwards to cup Lou’s neck, tilting his head up to change the order, and he slipped his tongue into Lou’s mouth. It was wet, a little filthy, the slide of Harry’s tongue along Lou’s teeth and the roof of his mouth, and he could feel Lou’s pulse racing against his fingertips. Lou’s fingers dug into the side of Harry’s waist; he wanted to pull him closer but he knew he should push him away—he didn’t do either.
“Lou, can you—Oh, Christ,” Zayn muttered, turning around swiftly and shutting the door. He cleared his throat.
Lou pushed Harry away, jumping off his desk and straightening his shirt. “Sorry, Zayn, I—“
“I mean, that’s not exactly what I meant when I said ‘fix it,’ but,” Zayn shrugged, turning around and doing everything he could to not look at Harry’s lips.
Harry scratched the back of his neck. “Sorry, Zayn.”
Zayn shook his head. “It’s all right. Just…here’s the file you wanted,” he said, setting the folder down on the corner of Lou’s desk.
Lou cleared his throat. “Thank you.”
“Just…” Zayn paused. “Clean up a bit, yeah? You look like you’ve been debauched.”
Lou flushed and sputtered a response. “We just—It was—“
Harry shook his head, smiling. “We will.”
Zayn nodded and exited the office again, muttering under his breath about how he was definitely going to knock next time.
Lou ran his hands over his face. “Fuck. That can’t—“
“Can’t happen again,” Harry interrupted with a scoff. “Of course it can’t.”
“You know why, Harry—“
“Yeah, got it, Lou,” he snapped.
“No,” Harry said, stopping him. “You’re right. I knew what to expect. After all, it’s always the same thing with you, isn’t it?”
Lou sighed. “Always the same with you, too, isn’t it?”
“You got what you wanted, right?”
“You can go now, Harry,” Lou said, stepping around him and sitting back down at his desk.
Harry stood there for a moment before turning to face Lou. “You’re an idiot.”
“Good to know,” he muttered.
“I’m leaving early.”
“I didn’t give you permission.”
Harry scoffed. “I don’t bloody care,” he snapped, storming out of the office and towards his desk. He grabbed his keys and wallet from the drawer, shoving the latter in his pocket.
“Are you okay?” Zayn asked, watching Harry’s movements with curiosity.
“No,” he said shortly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Harry needed a drink. Or twelve.
Four drinks and three hours later, Harry was texting Zayn and bitching about Louis. Because apparently that’s all he felt like doing. It was nearing six and he was alone at the bar, his iPhone battery slowly depleting, as the after work crowd started joining him. He ignored some of the younger men who were flirting with him, their youthful faces doing nothing for him in comparison to Louis’ maturity. Louis wasn’t old, but he was older than Harry, and that was… That was what Harry was attracted to, maturity and vitality and everything that Louis was, and he just didn’t understand why Louis refused to let anything happen.
Because, honestly, Harry wasn’t an idiot, and he knew that Louis wanted him. And Harry could tell himself it was because he was an intern, telling himself that in two and a half weeks, he wouldn’t be one anymore. He had suffered through Louis and his mood swings and temper tantrums for two months—he could handle it. Harry had spent long enough trying to figure out where Lou stood, and it was driving him insane. Harry had it going on, he knew he did, and damn Louis for making him feel like he didn’t.
Harry frowned, turning towards the voice to eye the young man up and down. His hair was hanging over his eyes and his jacket was two sizes too big, making him look like a teenager trying to play adult; Harry might’ve saw himself in him just a little bit. “Hello,” he muttered, thinking to himself how extremely uninterested he was and, wow.
The guy smiled, sitting on the barstool next to him. “Can I buy you a drink?”
Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair. The kid couldn’t have been older than him and, fuck, is that how Louis saw him? Was he really just some little kid and oh, God, that’s why Louis didn’t want him. Or, well, he wanted him, but not in the for-more-than-the-night way and, fuck, Harry wanted the night and the morning and the day and everything.
“Love? Am I boring you?” the guy asked him, a small smile on his face.
Harry nodded. “Yeah. How—How old are you?”
Harry groaned. “Ugh, no,” he said, shaking his head. His fingertips were tingling, his mind was only slightly fuzzy, and he wasn’t even close to being drunk, just pleasantly buzzed and tipsy enough to say whatever he wanted and not feel guilty.
“No? I’d bet a years wages you’re younger than me.”
“I am,” Harry said with a nod. “And you’re—you’re too young. Too young. And—And I have someone meeting me here soon, so—“
Harry rolled his eyes. “Mate, do I look like I’d even know what to do with one?” he asked.
The guy laughed. “One drink wouldn’t hurt, would it?”
Harry paused. “No,” he agreed. “No, it wouldn’t. Drinks are good.”
“What are you drinking?”
“Anything. Everything,” Harry told him, running his hands through his hair. “I’ll be back in a mo,” he said before standing up and walking towards the bathroom. He locked himself in a stall, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He didn’t have anyone joining him, and he didn’t want to be alone, but he really didn’t want to be alone with a kid who was clearly just trying to take him home. He scrolled through his contacts and his first thought was Lou but, no, he quickly pushed that aside—Lou didn’t deserve his buzzed phone calls and, hell, maybe he didn’t even deserve Harry, but he wasn’t sure. When his eyes landed on Ben’s name, he froze. Now that, that could be interesting. The alcohol flowing through his bloodstream convinced him that calling Ben would be a good idea and, well, he couldn’t really hang up once he answered.
“Ben!” Harry exclaimed before laughing softly. “It’s Harry!”
“From…last week…? You—“
“Moved you into your new flat, I remember.”
He wasn’t sure if it was his mind playing tricks on him but Ben actually sounded happy to hear from him. “How old are you?” he asked.
“I’m thirty three.”
Harry groaned because his age shouldn’t an attractive quality but hell, everything about Ben was attractive. And if Louis didn’t want him then, fuck, Harry was going to let himself want someone else. “You should come drink with me.”
Ben laughed. “Are you drunk?”
“Unfortunately not,” he muttered. “But I’m drinking and alone, and you should be here. Be here. Come join me,” he repeated.
“Where are you?”
“I don’t…” he trailed off, scratching at the back of his neck. “That—You know that place? Like… It’s a new pub, like, by that hotel with the really fancy door.”
“It’s near the new H&M!” Harry declared. “Just come join me, Ben. I don’t want to be alone. We should not be alone together.”
“Sit tight, Harry. I’ll find you.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, good. Good plan. I like this plan,” he told him before hanging up his phone. He shoved it into his back pocket and made his way back to the bar, jumping into the chair and turning to face the guy next to him. “Oh. You’re still here.”
The guy nodded. “Yeah, um… You said you’d be back?”
“I got you a drink.”
“Thank God,” Harry said, picking up the glass and downing the drink in one go.
“You’re not interested in going home with me at all, are you?” the guy asked.
Harry shook his head. “Too young.”
“You are,” he told him. “I like older men.”
The guy nodded slowly. “Mind if I ply you with drinks until your gentleman friend arrives, then? God nothing better to do,” he said with a shrug.
Harry pursed his lips before nodding because free drinks were lovely. And, hell, he might not have wanted to go home with this random guy but he wasn’t going to deny free drinks. He didn’t know how long he sat there drinking with—hell, he didn’t even know the kid’s name and he didn’t even care—before he saw Ben walking through the door. He straightened up in the barstool waving his arms. “Ben! Over here!”
Ben ducked his head slightly before walking over to him. “Harry.”
Harry wrapped his arms around Ben’s waist and, yeah, that’s what he liked—older, bigger, just…different than himself. It felt nice, it felt comfortable, and he nuzzled into the side of his neck. “You’re handsome.”
Ben laughed softly, grabbing Harry’s hands and untangling him from his waist. “How drunk are you?”
“Not drunk enough,” Harry told him, peering up at him from under his eyelashes. “There’s still only one of you. Two of you would be nice.”
“Two of me?”
Harry nodded. “I feel fuzzy. I wish there were two of you.”
Ben turned towards the younger man sitting next to him. “Thanks for looking after him.”
“Had nothing better to do.”
“I’m going to get him out of here now,” Ben told him.
Harry nodded, standing on the lower rung around the barstool and wrapping his arms around Ben’s neck. He slid his tongue up the side of Ben’s neck, stopping at his ear, and he bit at the soft skin there. “Take me home.”
Ben shuddered and, okay, that wasn’t exactly how he envisioned his night ending and he was so, so okay with that. Because Harry was pliant against his side, eyes bright and, fuck, he was gorgeous. “You want—“
“I want,” Harry interrupted, teeth nibbling at Ben’s earlobe and he felt him shudder beneath him again.
Ben pulled him off of the barstool, wrapping an arm around his waist and resting it against his hip. “Let’s get you home.”
“We should do shots!” Harry decided as Ben steadied him outside of the door to his flat.
“No, we should get into your flat and get you water,” Ben told him calmly.
Harry pouted, leaning against the doorframe. “Shots sound better.”
“Where are your keys?” Ben asked him patiently.
Harry turned, resting his back against the door, and he smiled lazily up at Ben. “In my pocket,” he told him, jutting out his hip and pointing towards the correct pocket.
Ben sighed and reached into Harry’s pocket, somehow managing to get his hand in the obscenely tight jeans, and pulled out his keys. He went to pull his hand away and Harry’s fingers wrapped around his wrist and pulled him closer, pressing his hand against the bulge in his jeans. Ben’s fingers curled closer to him on their own accord before he jerked his hand away. “We gotta get you inside,” he said, clearing his throat, before opening the flat and ushering Harry in.
Harry grabbed Ben’s belt, tugging him closer and pulling him into the flat. “Want you to fuck me,” he declared, unfastening Ben’s belt and unzipping his trousers, sliding his hand in to cup his length and, yes, yes he wanted that inside of him and soon.
Ben gripped Harry’s hips, fingers bruising the soft skin, and he sucked in a deep breath. “Water is the priority.”
“No,” Harry said, shaking his head, “having you inside of me is the priority. Water can wait.”
“So can this,” Ben told him and, okay, he didn’t want to wait; he was using every ounce of self-control he had to not bend Harry over the kitchen table and fuck him until neither of them could see straight. But he wanted to at least try to be a gentleman.
Harry slowly withdrew his hand from Ben’s jeans and took a step back. “Do you not want me?” he asked slowly and his gut was churning because no, no, he couldn’t handle one more person pushing him away. He needed someone to kiss him, touch him, fuck him, make him feel whole instead of the mess that he was. And Louis, well Louis was his first choice, and that obviously wasn’t working out so Ben was all he had. And, fuck, if Ben pushed him away—
“I do,” Ben told him, cupping his face in his hands and forcing their eyes to meet. “More than I should. Christ, Harry, you’re so young—“
“Sick of hearing that,” Harry told him, taking a step back and pulling off his shirt, tossing it aside. “I’m eighteen, I’m old enough to make my own decisions, and I want you inside of me,” he added, kicking off his shoes and unzipping his jeans. He kicked them down his legs, along with his pants, and sunk to his knees in front of Ben. He reached for Ben’s jeans, tugging them down his hips. “Wanna suck you—“
“No,” Ben said.
Harry paused, looking up at Ben from under his eyelashes.
And, Christ, Ben was in trouble, big trouble, because of the way Harry could look so innocent and debauched at the same time. His eyes were so green, so wide, so innocent, and his mouth was so red and ready like he was made to suck cock and, okay, maybe he was. And Ben wanted it, he wanted Harry’s lips wrapped around him but not as much as he wanted to be enveloped in Harry’s body.
“You don’t want me to?” Harry asked. He had never been with someone before who wasn’t ready for him to suck them, swallow around them, let them fuck his mouth because, fuck, that was one of his favorite things, barely being able to breathe because he was just so full.
Ben shook his head, pushing Harry’s curls out of his face, and sliding his hand around to the back of his neck. “Stand up,” he whispered.
Harry stood instantly, his breathing coming out in shallow gasps and, fuck Ben was attractive before but now?
Ben opened his mouth to say something, but he stopped himself.
“What is it?” Harry asked, voice deep and thick with lust and want.
“I don’t want to push you too far,” he said softly, thumb rubbing against Harry’s jawline.
Harry’s eyes fluttered shut and he leaned into Ben’s hand. “You can, you know,” he told him, “push me too far, tell me what to do, I like it.” And he did, he really liked it, because it made him feel good and happy and he couldn’t explain why but he just wanted it, needed it, craved it.
“Do you…” Ben trailed off.
Harry stepped closer to him, standing between his legs and pressing his body against the long, hard line of Ben’s chest. “You can ask me. I promise I won’t be offended,” he insisted.
“Do you always just want to please everyone?
“I mean,” he paused before shrugging. “Yeah? I like… I like making people feel good, be happy—“
“That’s not what I meant,” Ben said quietly. “When was… When was the last time someone got on their knees for you, and not the other way around?”
Harry paused. “Normally just skip that and go right to fucking,” he said with a shrug.
Ben nodded, taking a step forward and pressing Harry back against the counter. He sunk to his knees, pressing his lips against Harry’s hip, feeling the way he sucked in his breath sharply.
“Don’t, Harry,” he warned, wrapping his lips around the head of Harry’s cock and hollowing his cheeks. He felt Harry jerk beneath him and he pressed his hands down against his hips roughly, holding him steady. Harry groaned and, shit, it had been a while since he felt someone’s lips around his cock because, yeah, it was great but he preferred being fucked but, okay, Ben knew what he was doing.
“Ben,” Harry gasped, hands sliding into his short hair and trying to push his hips forward. When Ben let him, he groaned. “No, no, no, hold me tighter,” he insisted.
Ben moaned around him, sending delicious shivers down Harry’s spine, and he gripped his hips tighter. He pressed him against the cupboards, knowing it had to be digging into his spine and causing him pain but, well, Harry was asking so nicely, and who was he to say no? He sucked him down in earnest, enjoying the gasps and pleas that were escaping his lips.
Ben pulled away and shook his head. “Not yet.”
Harry reached for him then, pulling him up to press their lips together. He could taste himself on Ben’s tongue and he wanted to lose himself in the sensation. He was so close, so on edge; the feel of Ben’s jeans rubbing against him was about to make him lose his mind. He moaned against his lips and rubbed himself against the fabric, but Ben grabbed his hips and steadied him. “Want—“
“Not yet,” Ben repeated. “Bed.”
“Yeah,” Harry said with a nod because, yes, there was more room on his bed and it would be a lot more comfortable and, just yes.
Ben pulled him towards the bed, kneeling and reaching for Harry. “On your hands and knees,” he told him.
Harry nodded, pressing his lips to Ben’s quickly before fumbling through his nightstand. He pulled out a condom and some lube, tossing it on the mattress before kneeling in front of Ben. Ben repositioned himself to where he was behind Harry, running his hands over the smooth expanse of his back, and fuck, there wasn’t one inch of skin that wasn’t flawless and perfect. He pressed his lips to the base of Harry’s spine, feeling him shudder.
“Spread your legs further apart,” Ben instructed.
Harry nodded again, spreading his legs further apart and resting his weight on his forearms. He was hard, so hard, and he wanted to come so badly but he also wasn’t ready for it to be over. He nearly whimpered when he felt Ben slide his fingers over the curve of his arse. He pushed back against him, moaning when Ben’s tongue slid over his opening because, fuck, he hadn’t had that in a while and yes, he wanted that again.
Ben’s thumbs spread him open and Harry couldn’t hold back a groan when Ben slid in two fingers alongside his tongue. It was almost too much, almost, and it was perfect at the same time. Ben was relentless, fucking Harry with his tongue in short little jabs as his fingers slowly opened him. Harry was a mess already, breath coming out in heavy pants, and he needed Ben inside of him.
“Ben—Please, I—“ Harry moaned, fingers gripping tightly in the sheets as he pushed back against Ben.
Ben pulled away, pressing a kiss to the back of Harry’s thigh, and he ripped open the condom wrapper, sliding it over his length. “Is this okay?” he asked, positioning himself behind him.
“Tell me what you want,” Ben said, spreading some more lube across his fingers before sliding them into Harry again, pressing against his spot.
Harry sucked in a deep breath. “Hard, fast, I—“ he gasped, “wanna forget.”
“Forget what?” Ben asked.
“Don’t wanna talk about it, wanna forget,” Harry told him.
Ben nodded. “I can do that.”
“Where are you going?” Harry asked, voice thick with sleep. He rested his weight on his elbow, running a hand through his hair as he watched Ben pull on his jeans and shirt.
“Got an early job,” Ben told him, pulling on his shoes. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Time is it?”
Ben walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, pressing a kiss to Harry’s temple. “Half-seven.”
Harry groaned, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. “Want me to make you some tea?” he offered.
“No, I’ll pick some up on the way,” he said.
Harry nodded, wrapping his arms around Ben’s waist and pressing his nose against his neck. “Thank you for last night.”
Ben smiled, rubbing a hand down Harry’s bare back, scratching lightly; his smile widened when he felt Harry start to nuzzle against him, and he reluctantly pulled back. “Do you wanna talk about it yet?”
“No,” Harry told him.
“Okay,” Ben said with a nod. “Call me if you change your mind? Or for…anything else.”
Harry smiled and nodded, pulling away and lying back down, pulling the covers up to his chin. Ben pressed another kiss to his forehead before slipping out of the flat, shutting the door behind him.
Harry hadn’t felt that alone in a long time. He rolled onto his back, reaching his arms up and stretching and—yeah, he hadn’t felt that burn at the base of his spine in a long time. He knew Ben was well endowed and the burn was wonderful, Harry loved it, but he didn’t love the feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him something was wrong. Harry was single, he could sleep with whomever he wanted, but it still felt…wrong, like he shouldn’t have done it. It was fantastic, glorious and Harry wouldn’t change a thing but… Then there was Lou and, yeah…. Lou.
With a groan, he tossed the blanket off and dragged himself into the bathroom. He ran his hands through his hair, flipping on the light, and he paused. Oh. There were bruises lining his hipbones and, Christ, maybe he shouldn’t have called Ben in the first place. He turned on the shower and climbed in, scrubbing at his skin as if he could wipe away the bruises on his hips, the ache in his thighs and lower back, or even the bruises long his collarbone.
When Lou arrived at the office, he was surprised to see his tea and a box of donuts already waiting on his desk, but he was more surprised to see Harry standing in front of him, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. After their argument the day before, he wasn’t… Well, he didn’t know what he was expecting. He sent Harry a soft smile, setting his bag down by his desk and picking up his tea, taking a sip.
“Good morning, Lou.”
“Morning, Harry. What’s this for?” he asked, nodding towards the donut.
“I…wanted to apologize for walking out yesterday, leaving without permission,” Harry told him. “It was unprofessional, disrespectful, and rude, and you deserve better than that. I’m sorry.”
Lou hesitated, eyeing Harry up and down. He opened his mouth to respond but he paused, sitting down behind his desk. “I appreciate your apology, Harry, thank you.”
“I’ll be getting the pictures from photo shoot this afternoon. I’d like you to have a look at them with me,” Lou said, opening up the box of donuts and retrieving one.
“I’d like that,” Harry said with a nod, raising his arms over his head and stretching his back.
Lou froze when Harry’s shirt rolled up and his eyes landed on a series of bruises across his hipbones and…okay. He cleared his throat and looked away because, no, no, he did not like the idea of someone else touching Harry and bruising Harry and—No. “Fun night?” he asked before he could stop himself.
Harry shrugged. “You could say that,” he replied.
Lou pursed his lips, taking a bite of the donut and refusing to meet Harry’s eyes.
And, okay, that was new. “You’re not going to look at me now?”
“Nothing to look at,” Lou told him, turning to his computer and logging on and, no, he was not going to look at Harry. He wasn’t. Because looking at Harry meant acknowledging that someone else had their hands on him the night before, touching him in ways that Lou dreamed of, and that wasn’t fair, dammit. Because he wanted to be the one to touch Harry that way, even though he knew he just…couldn’t.
“You sure?” Harry asked, lifting the hem of his white shirt and glancing down at the bruises. “Because I think these bruises might be something.” He just wanted Lou to look at him, look him in the eye, because he knew Lou was upset and, fuck, he just wanted to see something in those blue eyes that meant he felt something, too.
“Put your shirt down, Harry,” Lou said, barely glancing at him before turning back to his computer screen.
There it was, he told himself. Harry saw a flash of sadness in his eyes and…maybe he shouldn’t have put himself on display but—Lou was sad, and that…that meant something. Harry tucked the edge of his shirt into his trousers and resting his hands on his hips. “I’m going to go make Zayn a cup of tea. Do you want anything?”
Lou shook his head. “No, thank you, Harry.”
Harry nodded and stepped out of the office, his heart hammering in his chest and his mind was screaming you’re a bloody idiot, Harry because he was an idiot. He deliberately hurt Lou and that… He never wanted to do that. After all the times he had cried over Lou, had his own feelings hurt, and he was doing the exact same thing. He felt low, so low, and he hated it.
“Y’alright, Harry?” Zayn asked, walking up to his desk and tossing his bag into his chair. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, his dark eyes full of worry, and he rested a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Harry?”
“Lou found out I took someone home last night,” he said in a rush. “Fuck.”
“You took someone home?”
Harry nodded. “I was. I was upset, okay? He… He just. He’s so hot and cold, and one minute I think he wants me, and the next he wants absolutely nothing to do with me. And I just—I can’t do that, Zayn,” he rambled.
“How did he find out?” Zayn asked.
Harry sighed and lifted up the corner of his shirt. “I stretched and—“
“Do you do this on purpose, Harry?”
“No, I—“ Harry paused. “Why would you think I would do this on purpose?”
Zayn shrugged. “Just… Sometimes I wonder if you do this to cause a reaction.”
“I don’t,” Harry told him sternly. “I mean, I just… I want to know he cares?”
“You’re both bloody idiots,” he muttered. “You two deserve each other.”
Harry’s mouth fell open and he scoffed. “We don’t—You just—“
Zayn shook his head. “Make it right. I’m sick of seeing my two best friends be idiots and hurt one another because they can’t be honest, all right?”
Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair. “What do I do?”
“Talk to him,” Zayn said simply. “That’s all you can do.”
By lunchtime, Harry was aggravated. Each time he tried to get a minute alone with Lou to talk to him, there was something in the way. And he couldn’t even blame Lou for not wanting to be alone with him; he really couldn’t, because he was an asshole. Harry was…an asshole.
“Can I get Liam’s number from you, Z?”
Zayn stopped typing and looked over at Harry from over the top of his glasses. “Why do you want my boyfriend’s number?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Not for that. I…wanted to see if Niall was still interested in setting up an interview,” he said with a shrug.
“An interview with you? For a job?” Zayn asked.
“No, with my sister. Of course for me,” Harry told him.
Zayn hesitated. “Are you sure you want to do that, Harry?”
Harry nodded. “I can’t work here forever, Zayn. You and I both know that if I was offered a job here, it would just… It wouldn’t work out, all right?” he explained.
“But if you and Lou—“
“I can’t even get five minutes alone with him to beg him to have a conversation with me, Zayn. I’m here for two more weeks. I want to get a job lined up. And I can’t work here,” Harry said, a hint of finality to his tone. “Can I have Liam’s number or no?”
Zayn sighed and nodded. “Yeah,” he said, fiddling with his phone. “I just sent it to you.”
“Thank you,” Harry said, picking up his mobile. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Zayn watched him leave and, as soon as he was positive Harry was in the lobby downstairs, he walked into Lou’s office. “Louis.”
Lou looked up, pushing his hair out of his eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked. He could tell that something was wrong with the look in Zayn’s eyes and that made him worry.
“Harry’s calling Liam now.”
Lou scoffed. “Probably gonna try to sleep with him, too,” he muttered.
Zayn frowned. “That isn’t funny, Lou.”
“I know,” Lou said quietly, running his hands over his face. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair. You know Liam would never hurt you.”
“Harry wouldn’t do that to you anyway.”
“He already has.”
“Well, you haven’t exactly been forthcoming about your feelings for him, have you?” Zayn asked.
Louis pursed his lips. “Thanks for that, mate.”
Zayn sighed. “Dammit, Lou, I’m not trying to be an arse, all right? He’s been trying to talk to you all day—“
“I don’t want to talk to him,” Louis interrupted.
“I know, but you bloody have to, all right? You’re both being idiots. He’s trying to apologize to you, yet you won’t give him the time of day. Maybe this is why he ran off to…whoever it was yesterday, because he thinks you want nothing to do with him,” Zayn explained. “And that’s probably why he’s on the phone right now with Liam, scheduling an interview with Niall Horan, because he thinks you’re done with him before you two even started.”
Lou sighed heavily. “Maybe it’s for the best if he works with Niall—“
“You can’t really believe that,” Zayn said, cutting him off. “You two are bloody meant to be together or something, I don’t even know.”
“You are. And Harry’s messed up, yes, but so have you. You both need to cut the shit, talk it out, and realize that you’re both bloody crazy about one another,” he rambled.
Louis looked down at his hands and, okay, Zayn was right—he was crazy about Harry. He had wormed his way into his life and Lou didn’t want him to leave. And Harry had slept with someone else but, well, Zayn was right again, because they weren’t together and, shit, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Lou was so concerned with office politics and not wanting this kid to have the ability to break him that everything was all messed up. And, fuck, all he wanted was for Harry to be his and he could deny it as much as he wanted but that want was never going to change.
“When he gets back, I’m sending him in here. You two can look at the photographs for the Dolce ad, you’ll tell him he looks handsome, and then you two will talk about what is going on. And when he leaves this office, he better be smiling, Lou, or I swear,” Zayn said, trailing off. “And if you even think about protesting, I will sneak into your flat and shave all of your hair off while you’re sleeping,” he warned. “Don’t think I won’t. I will.”
Louis leaned back in his seat, slouching slightly. “Okay.”
Louis nodded. “Okay.”
“Zayn said you were ready to look at the photographs,” Harry said softly as he walked into Lou’s office, shutting the door behind him. He stood there for a minute, waiting for Lou to respond.
Lou nodded and finished typing something on his computer before he turned to Harry. “You can pull up a seat,” he told him.
“Okay,” he said, walking towards Lou’s desk and pulling a chair up next to him. He sat down, their knees brushing, and he expected Lou to jerk away and put some distance between them, but he didn’t. And maybe that was a good sign.
“We just have to pick out some images and send them over to the Dolce representative and they’ll pick the final ones that will appear in the next few issues,” Lou explained, opening up his email and pulling up the folder of photographs.
“How do we decide which ones to use?” Harry asked as images of his face appeared on the screen. “Oh, this is awkward.”
“Awkward?” Lou asked, glancing at him over his shoulder.
He nodded. “Seeing my face all…big on the screen. It’s just weird,” he said.
Lou shrugged. “I think you look handsome,” he told him. He swore he only said it because Zayn told him to but, yeah, no, he really thought that Harry might’ve been the most handsome man he had ever laid eyes on.
Harry could feel himself start to flush and he cleared his throat. “Let’s just, uh, pick some photographs,” he said, pointing towards the screen.
Lou smiled and glanced back at the screen, scrolling through the photographs. It only took about thirty minutes for them to decide on their options, even though Lou liked one that Harry despised but, hey, it was Lou’s decision and Harry just jumped on board because he knew that Lou couldn’t be stopped. Lou opened up a new email, sending it to the Dolce representative, and that was that.
“Lou, can we talk?” Harry asked suddenly, the words spilling from his lips before he could stop them.
Louis nodded. “Yeah, I think we need to,” he said.
“I’m so sorry, Louis. I was upset, I had been drinking, and I thought you didn’t want me. And then I called Ben and it just…” he shook his head. “I am so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I just… I thought you didn’t want me and—“
“It’s not about me not wanting you, Harry,” Lou interrupted. “I’ve always wanted you. I just…have never known how to show it.”
Harry felt himself smile. “You mean you… You, like, actually want me?” he asked slowly.
Lou nodded but avoided Harry’s eyes. “We shouldn’t have this conversation here, though.”
“Won’t be able to keep your hands off me, yeah?” Harry teased and, just like that, he felt normal, back on track, like all was right in the world or something.
Lou laughed softly. “Maybe.”
“When—When do you want to? Tonight, maybe?”
“Eager, aren’t we?”
“Maybe,” Harry told him with a wink.
“How about this weekend?”
Harry nodded. “You can come to mine. I’ll make dinner. Do you like fajitas?”
“Or we could go out to a neutral location,” Lou suggested.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “This isn’t a public conversation. We need privacy. My flat offers that.”
“Your shoebox of a flat offers so much privacy,” Lou told him.
“I love my flat, thank you very much,” Harry said, crossing his arms over his chest. “And so should you. Come over Saturday.”
Harry stood up and straightened his shirt. “Half six. I’ll have wine and fajitas, so make sure you’re hungry,” he told him, leaning down and pressing his lips against Lou’s cheek. “I’m going to go…do something…”
“Are you at Harry’s yet?”
“Just got to his flat,” Lou told Zayn as he climbed the last staircase. “Bloody building needs a lift.”
Lou shrugged. “A bit. I’ll text you and let you know how it goes.”
“Let me know if I need to fight him for you.”
Lou laughed and shook his head. “Thanks for having my back, Z.”
“Anytime, Lou. See you Monday.”
Lou hung up his mobile and shoved it into his back pocket and knocked on the door to Harry’s flat. He had lied to Zayn when he said he was only a little nervous; his heart was pounding in his chest and his palms were sweaty—the whole deal. Harry opened the door and, well, was it cliché to say that Lou’s breath caught in his throat? Maybe it was because he was actually allowing himself to find Harry attractive but damn.
“Hey, Lou,” Harry said with a warm smile. “Dinner’s almost ready. Come on in.”
Lou nodded and followed Harry in silently, kicking off his Toms and setting his keys on the table by the door. He met Harry in the kitchen, leaning against the counter as he finished stirring the vegetables on the stove.
“You all right?” Harry asked, glancing over at Lou.
“Of course,” Lou said. “Do you want some wine?”
“Hmm, yes please. Glasses are behind you, wine’s in the refrigerator.”
Louis reached into the cupboard and pulled out two glasses before pulling the wine out of the refrigerator. He poured them both a glass, returning the bottle, and walked towards the stove, handing one to Harry.
Harry took a quick drink, setting the glass aside, before pressing his lips to Lou’s cheek quickly. “Thanks. Hope you’re hungry—I think I made too much again,” he said with a shrug.
“I’m sure we’ll manage, babe,” Lou said, patting Harry’s hip before he set his wine glass on the table.
“Did you just call me babe?” Harry asked, a wide smile on his face.
Lou hesitated because, wow, did that really slip out?
“I liked it, you know,” he told him, scooping the food onto a plate and taking it over to the table.
“Just slipped out,” Louis said, scratching the back of his neck.
Harry smiled, setting down the plate and wrapping an arm around Lou’s waist and pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. “It can slip out whenever you want,” he whispered before retreating back to the stove to bring over the rest of the food.
Lou flushed instantly. And he pretty much didn’t stop for the remainder of dinner. Harry sat next to him, their legs touching, and a smile on his ridiculously handsome face. Lou was almost positive Harry was finding any excuse for them to touch, and he was strangely okay with it. By the time they were done, they left the dishes on the table, filled up their wine glasses, and retreated to the couch. Harry draped his legs over Lou’s lap, curling up against the back of the couch, but he wasn’t ready to be completely away from Louis just yet.
“Why did you… Like, why didn’t just tell me that you wanted me?” Harry asked slowly.
Louis took a drink of his wine, his free hand curling around Harry’s ankle, slipping under the hem of his jeans. “I think at first…” he started, and then hesitated. He wasn’t a pro at talking about his feelings or opening up with anyone but Zayn. But he and Harry had already had a rough time and he didn’t want more of those times to be ahead of them, and in order to avoid that, he had to take a chance. “I didn’t want to want you at first. You’re young, my intern, and I just…didn’t want a conflict of interest,” he told him.
“But… You had to have known the sentiment was returned, yeah?”
Lou shrugged. “At first, I just knew that you had Nick. And then you slept with Zayn—“
“I know,” Harry said cutting him off, “that I probably acted in all of the wrong ways. But… All I knew was that I wanted you, and I thought you wanted nothing to do with me.”
“I know,” Lou said softly.
“If I had known we were on the same page, I never would’ve taken Ben home,” he admitted.
“And I’m not blaming you at all,” Harry interrupted and he knew was rambling, but he couldn’t stop. “I’m blaming myself for being such a slag,” he muttered.
Louis gripped his ankle a little tighter, leaning over to set his glass down. “You’re not a slag, Harry. We’re both just…”
“Really bad at communicating?” he offered.
Lou smiled briefly. “Yeah,” he agreed, resting his head against the back of the couch.
“Can I be honest?” he asked, reaching over and setting the glass down on the coffee table.
“I think we need to be at this point.”
“I want you,” Harry said simply. “I don’t want to question whether or not you want me, too. I don’t want to go home with anyone else. I want you, point blank, Louis.”
Lou smiled. “You don’t have to question that anymore, Harry.”
Harry knew the smile on his face was ridiculous, but he didn’t care. He wrapped an arm around Lou’s neck, pulling him closer and pressing their lips together. And that? That was fucking magical or something. He lay down against the couch, pulling Lou on top of him because, hell, it was real now and Harry just wanted to feel him.
Louis cupped the side of Harry’s face, pressing one lingering kiss to his lips before pulling away. “I think we should…take it a little bit slower,” he said softly, his voice a little rough and deeper than normal.
“We can take it slow,” Harry said with a nod, sliding his hands from Lou’s back and to his hair, pulling their lips together again. Now that he had Lou in his arms, now that he knew Lou wasn’t going anywhere, he never wanted to stop kissing him because, fuck, kissing Lou was like a religious experience or something. His lips weren’t as full as Harry’s but damn, he knew how to use them. Harry was content to kiss him forever, if that was actually an option. He shifted his hips, pressing their bodies closer together, and he felt Lou moan against him and, fuck, if he thought the sounds in the dark room were something special, then there were no words for how it felt to have Lou lying on top of him and moaning.
Louis pulled away, breathless, cheeks flushed, and he sucked in a deep breath.
Harry leaned up, attaching his lips to the side of Lou’s neck because he just needed to feel him.
“Harry,” Lou said, trying to catch his breath.
“Hmm?” Harry asked, lips still working at his neck.
“We gotta stop,” he said, reaching for Harry’s shoulder.
“Don’t wanna stop touching you,” Harry whispered against his neck, voice deep and thick with lust. He bit at the soft skin under Lou’s ear before running his tongue over it, soothing the red skin.
“Please,” Lou choked out.
Harry’s eyes slipped shut and he paused, resting his forehead against Lou’s shoulder for a minute. He fell back against the couch, eyes opening and meeting Lou’s, and he smiled.
Lou cleared his throat, sitting up, careful to avoid brushing his half-hard cock against Harry because he knew there’d be no turning back. And he wanted to, he did, but he also just wasn’t ready for that yet. (He was ready, but he meant it when he said he wanted to take it slow. He didn’t want to mess anything up.)
“You all right?” Harry asked, reaching for Lou’s hip and slipping under his shirt, fingers tracing the sensitive skin around his hipbone.
Lou nodded, grabbing Harry’s hand and pushing it away lightly.
Harry sat up a little straighter because, okay, that wasn’t normal. He didn’t like Lou pushing him away; it sent him back to that place where he wasn’t sure if Lou was still on board with their previous conversation.
“I just really think we should take it slow,” Lou repeated.
Harry nodded slowly. “Okay.”
“You’re upset with me.”
“No, I’m not,” Harry said quietly. “I understand that you want to take it slow.”
Lou pursed his lips. “But do you understand why?”
“I’m not a child, Louis,” he snapped. “I know what you mean.”
Lou ran a hand through his hair because, really? Fifteen minutes into their maybe-a-relationship-but-also-kind-of-not and another argument? That was just his luck. “I know you’re not a child, Haz. I just don’t want to mess us up, okay?”
“How is making out and rubbing off on one another gonna mess us up?”
Lou cleared his throat because Harry had a way of making something sound so fucking sexual without realizing it. “I just want us to pace ourselves, all right?”
Lou sighed. “I know you’re upset with me, Harry,” he told him. “You’re not that subtle.”
“I’m not upset, Lou, I’m just hard and wanting a wank, all right?” he said, sitting up and running his hands through his hair.
“All right,” Louis said with a nod. “I’ll see you Monday?”
Louis nodded. “Did you want me to like, watch some telly while you wank in the bathroom or something?” he asked incredulously.
Harry hesitated. “I don’t know. Just thought you might stay, is all,” he said with a shrug.
Lou leaned down and pressed their lips together. “Next time. I promise.”
“Good. I’m going to hold you to that,” Harry said before he stood up and walked Lou to the door. The last thing he wanted was for Lou to leave, but he couldn’t really stop him. With one last kiss, he shut the door behind Louis and leaned against it. Fuck. He was royally, completely, and wholly fucked.
“The Dolce representative loved your shoot, Louis,” Anne told him as she walked into his office late Monday morning.
Lou looked up from his desk and smiled, eyes wide behind his glasses. “I’m very pleased that everyone was happy.”
“I think it was a sign that Cara was unable to show,” she mused. “Your young intern is very handsome.”
Lou hesitated before he nodded. “He is. I was thankful he stepped in to help me.”
Anne nodded and slid an envelope across his desk. “This is for Mr. Styles,” she told him.
“I’ll make sure he gets it.”
“Good. One more thing,” Anne said. “I want you to do the cover shoot for the December issue.”
“The…cover shoot?” Lou asked.
Anne nodded. “We’re also doing a spread in the November, December, and January issues about winter weddings. We’ll have designs from Valentino, de la Renta, Cavalli, von Furstenberg, everyone,” she explained. “I’d like you to do that spread as well.”
Lou’s mouth dropped open. “Are you… You want me to… Me?”
“I was very impressed with your shoot, Louis. You’re very talented. I took it upon myself to find your other photographs, and you did not let me down.”
“This is a huge opportunity, Anne.”
“If you don’t want it, just say so—“
“No, I do,” Louis interrupted. “I’m…honored that you have so much faith in me. I would love to do this for you.”
Anne smiled. “Good. “I’ll have my assistant send you the details,” she told him before walking out of his office.
Lou waited about two minutes before he called Zayn in, a smile on his face. “You’ll never guess what just happened, Zayn.”
Zayn smiled. “What? You never look this happy when Anne leaves your office.”
“I’m doing the December cover shoot!”
“That’s amazing, Lou, I’m so happy for you,” Zayn said, giving his friend a hug.
“And the wedding spread they’re doing for the winter quarter. I can’t believe it,” Lou said with a sigh, shaking his head. “I never thought… I’m doing a cover shoot, Zayn.”
Zayn laughed. “You are so talented, Lou, you really shouldn’t be surprised.”
Lou smiled so much that his cheeks were hurting. “I have to tell Harry. I have to thank him,” he said. “If he hadn’t...”
“Forced you into a photo shoot that you didn’t want to do, which led you to being angry and passive-aggressive with him for days because you were upset, and then ended up with you two kissing and admitting your feelings for one another, this wouldn’t have happened?” he offered.
Lou hesitated. “Something like that,” he admitted.
Zayn laughed. “He’s at lunch, actually. He went a little early. Didn’t think you’d mind,” he said, looking down at his shoes briefly.
“Where is he really?” Lou asked.
“You can’t lie for shit, Z,” he teased.
Zayn sighed. “He is out at lunch…”
Lou’s eyebrows rose. “And…?”
“He’s with Niall.”
“This is my favorite café on the planet.”
Harry smiled as Niall shoved a muffin into his mouth. “I can tell.”
Niall shrugged. “You know this interview is more of a formality, right?” he asked.
“I mean… I didn’t want to come into it with that kind of attitude,” Harry told him.
Niall smiled. “Well, I’ve had my eye on you for quite some time. You’re the only thing making that dreadful magazine’s website entertaining at all,” he muttered. “I want you working with my agency.”
“I have absolutely no experience, Mr. Horan—“
“Niall, please,” he said with a roll of his bright blue eyes. “And you’ve been working for Louis Tomlinson—I’m sure you’re well versed in the art of kissing ass,” he teased.
Harry laughed. “Yeah, that’s a big part of the job,” he mused.
“Not to mention you’ll draw in all eyes to our firm, through social media and our events with that pretty face of yours,” Niall told him.
Harry scratched the back of his neck.
“Sorry. Liam told me the best way to persuade you to work for me was to flirt with you,” he said.
“Liam was probably right,” he joked.
Niall laughed. “What you’d basically be doing is working side-by-side with me for the first few months, learning the ropes and meeting clients. You’d be working with our social media team, staying up to date with everything going on in the social sphere, writing blogs, tweets, Instagram-ing—is that even a word?” he asked.
“We can make it a word,” Harry told him.
“Brilliant,” Niall said with a nod. “You’d be putting your name and face out there. People would know who you are. You want that, though, you know? It draws clients to us, even if it’s only because they think you’re attractive,” he said with a careless shrug. “I tend to attract the ladies with my rough Irish brogue,” he teased with a wink.
Harry laughed because, well, Niall was indeed charming and fun and, well, maybe the job seemed a little bit too good to be true. But it didn’t mean he wasn’t going to run with it.
“Liam draws them in because he’s so sweet and he has those puppy-dog eyes that everyone just trusts,” Niall told him with a wave of his hand before taking another bite of his muffin. “What do you think?”
“I think it sounds too good to be true, honestly,” Harry told him, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. “What’s the catch?”
Niall laughed. “Why do you think there’s a catch?”
“I’m not going to, like, give you all the secrets of Lou’s magazine, if that’s what you want,” Harry said. “I won’t do that to him.”
“I don’t want you to,” Niall responded. “It’s not too good to be true, either, Harry. My firm is small, yes, but we’re talented and we have a large clientele. I’m able to hire the best, pay them well, and have a successful business because I’m honest and I treat my employees fairly. That’s all.”
Harry chewed at his lip. “When… When would you want me to start?”
“When’s your internship over?”
“Then the following week,” Niall replied. “I want you on as soon as possible.”
Harry nodded. “Okay.”
“Yes, definitely,” Harry told him.
Niall smiled. “Brilliant. You didn’t even ask me how much you’d be getting paid.”
Harry shrugged. “I’m at an unpaid internship right now, Niall. I’m pretty sure anything’s better than that.”
“You sure? Because I wasn’t planning on paying you for a while…”
Harry paused. “What?”
Niall laughed. “I’m teasing. Starting salary is thirty-five thousand pounds a year.”
Harry’s mouth dropped. “You weren’t kidding about paying your employees well,” he muttered.
“I’m glad you’re taking me up on this, Harry. I know you’ll do well.”
Louis told himself that he would let Harry come to him, let Harry be the one to tell him about the interview, and that was for a couple of reasons. One, he didn’t want Harry to potentially get upset with Zayn for telling Lou—not that he would but, well, why risk it? And two, he wanted to know that Harry trusted him with even the minute details of his life—even though a job offer at a public relations office was more than just minute. And, well, he didn’t have a third reason.
So on Wednesday (“Winesday, Louis. It’s Winesday. It’s the only way to get through the rest of the week!” Harry had declared as he opened up a bottle of wine.) when Harry still hadn’t told Louis about the job interview, he was more than a little aggravated. He watched as Harry made dinner, sipping lazily at his wine from where he was lying on the couch, and that was something he could get used to—lazy nights at home, having Harry cook him dinner, being all…domestic. It was…weird, new, and he really liked it.
“I promise I’ll go shopping because I invite you over for dinner next time,” Harry said, carrying a plate and balancing two bowls along his arm as he walked over to the couch.
Lou set his wine down and reached out to help him, setting the bowls on the table. “Where’s your wine?”
Harry groaned, turning back towards the kitchen to get his glass before returning to sit down next to Lou. “I know grilled cheese isn’t exactly gourmet but—“
“I love it,” Lou told him because, really, grilled cheese and tomato soup was pretty much perfect in his eyes. “The wine really makes it classy.”
Harry elbowed him in the side. “At least I can cook more than eggs for you,” he told him.
“Yes, but you’ve never had my eggs—they will change your life,” Louis said with a smile.
“They better,” Harry said around a mouthful of grilled cheese.
“Don’t talk with food in your mouth.”
Harry rolled his eyes but listened because, well, his mum had raised him better than that. They ate slowly while watching Top Gear, in turn complaining about the lack of good programs on a Wednesday night, and Harry finished his wine. He poured Lou another glass even as the older man tried to tell him to stop.
“Haz, we both have to work tomorrow,” Lou said.
“I’m not getting you plastered, Lou,” he told him, topping off his wine glass before refilling his own.
“I still have to go home—“
“Stay here,” Harry offered.
Lou raised his eyebrows.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Not like that. Christ, Lou, I respect your wishes. But, I mean, we both work at the same place so, like… I could make you breakfast,” he told him.
“I just…don’t think it’s the best idea.”
“I would like it if you did, but I understand if you don’t want to,” he added, finishing off his glass of wine and setting it aside.
“I want to,” Lou told him, “but I haven’t slept next to someone in…a long time. And I just…”
“It’s all right, Lou,” Harry told him softly, leaning over to brush his lips across his cheek.
“You’re not mad?”
“Of course not.” Harry smiled and reached for Lou’s wine glass, drinking it in one go, before setting it aside. “Now, if you’re not going to stay, get over here so we can make out like teenagers,” he said with an obscene wiggle of his eyebrows. Lou laughed, letting Harry pull him on top of him to where he was lying between Harry’s legs. Harry wrapped his arm around Lou’s waist, his free hand coming up to rest at the nape of his neck, bringing their lips together.
“So you didn’t do anything interesting this week?” Louis asked as he wiped down Harry’s stomach with a wet flannel.
Harry shrugged, stretching his arms over his head, still hazy and sated post-orgasm. “Not really. Come snuggle me for a bit,” he said, reaching out for Lou.
Lou laughed, wiping down his own stomach. “We’re a right mess, Haz. Better to clean up now rather than later,” he told him.
“But it’s our first mutual orgasm, Lou, we need to celebrate with a lot of snuggles,” he instructed, grabbing Lou’s hips and pulling him down flush against his own body.
“Okay, okay,” Lou said with a smile, wrapping an arm around Harry and resting his head against the crook of his shoulder. He nuzzled the side of his neck, inhaling his scent of sweat and something that was just Harry, and he wanted to stay the night, God did he want to stay, but he wanted their relationship to last more than anything, and he was terrified of rushing and ruining everything.
“Why do you keep asking if I did something interesting this week?” Harry asked him. “You asked me all day Monday and about four times tonight.”
Harry sighed. “Zayn told you about my interview with Niall, didn’t he?”
“You’re upset with me.”
“No, I’m not,” Lou said, leaning up and resting his weight on his elbow. “I’m not upset that you had an interview with him.”
“You’re upset I didn’t tell you,” Harry commented.
Lou shrugged. “I thought you would’ve.”
“You knew I was thinking about it.”
“Thinking about an interview and accepting an interview are two very different things, Harry,” Lou told him.
“I called him for an interview, Louis, not the other way around.”
Harry scooted further up the couch, sitting up and leaning against the arm of the couch. “I didn’t tell you because I knew you would try to talk me out of it. Or, worse,” he said softly, “that you wouldn’t care if I did take it…”
“Of course I care, Harry,” Lou replied. “I—“ he trailed off, running a hand through his hair. “It was just before our talk. And I thought that, maybe, after we got everything sorted, you wouldn’t want to leave.”
“I have to, though, Louis. Did you…expect me to work at the magazine, be your assistant or have some other menial job forever?” he asked. “I just didn’t want people thinking I got the job because we’re together. And I didn’t want you to have to face any sort of talk around the water cooler because of me,” he explained.
Lou’s frown softened and, fuck, he had spent so much time thinking Harry wanted to be away from him that he didn’t even stop to think that Harry was trying to protect him and his reputation at his job. “You’re amazing, Harry,” he said softly.
“It’s a great offer, Lou. And I guess part of me thought that if I worked somewhere else that we wouldn’t have to…hide. We could just…be together,” he said, trailing off. “It was stupid, I know.”
“It wasn’t stupid,” Lou told him, leaning in to press their lips together. “I was upset because I thought you wanted to get away from me,” he admitted. “I’ve gotten quite used to you being around the office, you know.”
Harry smiled. “Well, Niall’s office is only a couple of blocks away. I’m sure I could steal away for a few lunches with you.”
“I won’t tell you any of the magazine’s secrets,” Lou told him.
Harry laughed. “I’m sure I could persuade you,” he said, running his hand down Lou’s chest and stopping at the top of his trousers.
Lou flushed, reaching for Harry’s hand and pressing his lips to his palm. “You’re ridiculous.”
“And you love it.”
Louis smiled, leaning down to kiss him again. “I do.”
“You should let Zayn go home early since it’s Friday and all,” Harry told him, sitting down on Lou’s desk and swinging his legs back and forth.
Lou glanced over at him from the top of his glasses before turning back to his computer. “Think you get to tell me what to do now?” Lou asked, a small smile on his face.
Harry shrugged. “What’s the good of dating my boss if I can’t pull some strings on a Friday afternoon?”
Lou sent him a glare. “We’re not—“
“Dating, I know, not yet,” Harry added with a smile. “One more week ‘til my internship is up,” he reminded him.
“I know,” Lou said, the corner of his lips quirking upwards. “Hard to forget that, seeing as how you keep reminding me,” he teased.
Harry’s smile widened, his dimple deepening.
“Tell Zayn he can go if all of his work is done,” Louis told him.
Harry nodded, jumping off of the desk and exiting the office. He found Zayn at his desk, scrolling through some random gossip website, and he smiled. “Lou said you can leave early if all your stuff is done,” he announced.
Zayn looked up at him. “Are you takin the piss?”
Harry shook his head.
“Thank God,” he muttered, logging off of his computer. “Been done for ages. How’d you manage to swing that for me?”
“Don’t answer that,” Zayn interrupted. “Don’t think I want to know at all, actually.”
Harry laughed. “Hey, I’m gonna have a dinner next Friday. You and Liam in?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You think Louis knows his way around a kitchen?”
Zayn laughed. “Good point, mate.”
“Yeah, I’m cooking.”
“Then we’re in. And I’m going to go surprise Liam at work before he leaves,” Zayn announced. “Tell Lou I said goodbye?”
“Of course,” Harry said with a nod before Zayn gave him a quick hug and walked towards the lift. He meandered back into Lou’s office, sitting down in the chair across from him, tapping his fingers on the armrests.
“Don’t,” Lou warned, barely sending him a glance as he typed away at his emails.
“But, Lou, I’m bored,” Harry whined.
Lou smiled. “You can go home early, too, you know.”
“Rather stay here with you.”
“Well, I still have a few hours ahead of me. Gotta finish these emails then I’ve got some film to develop.”
Harry perked up. “In the dark room?”
Lou swallowed audibly. “Yes.”
“Can I join you?”
Lou sent him a warning look. “We’re not having a repeat of last time,” he told him.
“Going slow, I know,” Harry said with a nod. “But can I join you?”
“No funny business, Mr. Styles,” Lou warned.
Harry smiled. “Send those emails later.”
Lou finished typing out his reply and hit send before turning to face Harry. He picked up his bag that contained everything he needed and motioned for Harry to follow him. By the time they got into the dark room, Louis was practically buzzing because he could feel the energy that Harry was exuding. “Can you calm down?” he asked.
“Maybe,” Harry said, shutting the door behind him before he pressed Lou up against the wall.
Lou dropped his bag almost instantly, hands finding Harry’s waist. “This wasn’t what I had in mind,” he confided.
Harry laughed. “Please. You knew this was my plan and you didn’t stop me. You’re as much to blame as I am.” He leaned forward, brushing their noses together, causing Lou to laugh against his lips. “You laughing at me?”
“Just kiss me already.”
Harry smiled and pressed their lips together. His hands cupped Lou’s cheeks and he was content just to kiss him for hours. He would if he could and, well, it was Friday so maybe he would have that opportunity once they actually left work. But for now, lazily kissing Lou against the wall in the dark room was enough.
“I just don’t see why you thought inviting Niall would be a good idea, that’s all,” Lou said, opening a new bottle of wine as Harry started making dinner.
Harry shrugged. “He’s my boss as of Monday, Lou. He’s Liam’s boss and friend. I just want to get to know him a little bit more.”
“He likes food. What else do you need to know?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You better be nice to him, Lou,” he warned.
“Or?” Louis asked, a small smile on his face.
“Or nothing,” Harry conceded, leaning over and giving Lou a chaste kiss. “Just like you to be nice, is all.”
“I’ll be very nice. I’m always nice.”
Harry didn’t even try to hide his laughter. “Oh, yes, that’s you, always nice and charming.”
“I am charming!” Lou protested.
“Sure you are.”
Lou pouted. “You’re forgetting I’ve met Niall before. We get along swimmingly.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Do you now?”
“Shut up and start cooking.”
Harry set his ingredients on the counter before turning around, grabbing Lou’s and pulling him flush against his body. “We still have time before I have to put dinner in.”
Lou smiled, giving in briefly and kissing Harry slowly because he didn’t want to rush. He pulled away, resting his hands on Harry’s waist. “You’re making lasagna, yeah?”
“Get that ready and I’m going to shower, okay?”
“Spoilsport,” he teased, kissing Lou again before watching him walk towards the bathroom. He liked the way Lou fit in his flat seamlessly. It was a small place, almost too small to have four people over for dinner, but he liked it. He liked the close quarters with his closest friends—he had no doubt he would be able to add Niall to that list relatively quickly; the Irishman was one of those people with such a big personality that it was hard not to be their friend.
By the time the shower turned off, Harry had the lasagna in the oven. By the time he heard Lou finish blow-drying his hair, he had filled glasses of wine and had them setting on the coffee table. When Lou walked out of the bathroom in his black jeans and one of Harry’s shirts, Harry smiled—there was something about seeing Lou in his clothes that was just…quite perfect.
“I feel like I should just keep some clothes over here,” Louis muttered, adjusting his glasses as he sat on the couch next to Harry.
“You should. I’ll clean out part of the closet for you.”
“Now, now, Harry, don’t make promises you can’t keep,” he teased. “You have more clothes than I do, and my flat is three times the size.”
Harry pouted. “I’d like you to keep some stuff here. Then you could stay the weekends without excuses.”
“I’d still find excuses,” Louis admitted, resting his head on Harry’s shoulder and looking up at him from under his eyelashes.
Harry smiled, wrapping an arm around his waist. “You want to make excuses to not stay with your boyfriend?”
Lou laughed. “Oh, you’re my boyfriend now?”
“Well, my internship is officially over,” Harry told him, pulling Lou onto his lap.
“That’s a good point,” Lou said with a thoughtful nod.
“I quite like the sound of that—being your boyfriend. What do you think?” Harry asked.
Louis could hear the nerves beneath Harry’s light and teasing tone. He leaned down, brushing their lips together. “I quite like the sound of that, too.”
“Stop fiddling with your tie, love, you look phenomenal,” Harry assured him, wrapping his arms around Lou’s waist from behind and pressing a kiss behind his ear.
Louis wormed his way out of his boyfriend’s arms and ripped off his tie. “It doesn’t work. Nothing works. I can’t find a decent bloody outfit and I’m going to end up at my own show naked—“
“That’s an idea,” Harry teased.
“My own show, Harry! It opens tonight and I can’t find anything to wear!” Lou rambled. He walked over to the closet and threw the door open before shifting through the shirts. “No. No, no, and definitely not—when did I even get this?” he asked, pulling out a polka-dot button-up and grimacing.
“That’s mine,” Harry said, carefully taking the shirt from his hand before he could toss it aside. “And it’s silk so be careful.”
“That’s hideous, Harry, I can’t believe I let you buy that,” Lou said, still frowning at the shirt that Harry was holding.
“It was on sale,” he said softly, pouting and holding the shirt close to his chest.
Lou smiled. “I never want to see you wear that, okay?”
“I can not wear it right now if you’d like,” Harry said with a grin, pushing past Lou to hang his shirt back up in their walk-in closet. He pulled out a gray blazer, handing it to Lou. “Wear a black shirt and this along with your dark jeans. They make your arse look amazing.”
Lou rolled his eyes. “I don’t want people looking at my arse, Harry, I want them looking at my photographs,” he said.
“They will be,” Harry promised. “I’ll be the one looking at your arse.”
“You have to experience the show, too!”
“I will!” he said with a laugh. “I promise. The show will be incredible, you’re brilliant, you’re perfect, and now you can go change, all right?”
Harry shook his head. “No buts,” he said, snapping his fingers and pointing towards the bathroom.
Lou groaned and rolled his eyes. “You’re such a mean boyfriend.”
“I’m a wonderful boyfriend, thank you,” Harry said, pulling out his clothes for that night. He changed quickly into a pair of black jeans, a white shirt with the neck stretched a little too much, and a black blazer. He pulled on his favorite boots and headed towards the bathroom to fix his hair.
Louis frowned as he met his boyfriend’s eyes in the mirror. “How do you manage to look so bloody fantastic in jeans and a shirt and I look practically homeless?”
Harry smiled. “It’s a talent, I suppose,” he said with a shrug before fixing his hair.
Louis turned around and jumped on the counter, pulling Harry between his legs.
He laughed. “Remember when I was the one pulling you between my legs in my old tiny little kitchen and you couldn’t wait to get away?” he asked.
“I never really wanted to get away,” Louis confided.
“Hard to believe it’s been over a year, huh?”
Louis smiled, trailing his fingers over the swallows inked onto Harry’s chest; they were visible because of the neckline of his shirt. “Remember when you got these done,” he mused. “You were a bloody tease about it the next day.”
Harry laughed, ducking his head slightly.
“Still are, though, aren’t you?” Lou asked, fingertip tracing the edge of his tattoo.
Harry shivered, hands gripping Lou’s thighs. “Don’t start something you can’t finish,” he warned. “Because if you leave me hard throughout your show—“
“You won’t do a thing,” he whispered, moving his hands to Harry’s curls and dragging his mouth down to meet his own. He felt Harry moan against his lips and he slipped his tongue into Harry’s mouth. Harry’s hands gripped Lou’s thighs tighter as Lou’s fingers scratched lightly at his scalp. Lou started to pull away and Harry followed him, pressing their lips together again, and Lou smiled, finally pulling away. He would’ve been content to kiss Harry all night, all day, every day, but he did have a show to get to—his first gallery show and, fuck, he almost forgot how nervous he was.
Harry was breathing heavily, his forehead resting against Lou’s.
“Now who’s starting something he can’t finish?” Lou teased.
“Oh, I can finish it all right,” he said, dropping to his knees in front of Lou.
“Harry, we don’t have time—“
“It’s your opening, yeah?” he asked, continuing after Lou nodded. “They can’t start until you get there.”
“Yes, they can—“
“Then you can be fashionably late,” Harry told him with a smile, pulling Lou’s hips off the counter until he was on his feet. He unzipped Lou’s jeans, pulling them down along with his pants, and pressing his face against the juncture where hip met thigh.
Louis sucked in a deep breath and, Christ, Harry looked good on his knees. He fisted his fingers in Harry’s curls and was awarded with a low groan and, yeah, he was officially on board with the pre-gallery blowjob.
“Think we have the time now?” he asked, looking up at Lou from underneath his eyelashes. He pressed a kiss to the side of his length, his eyes never leaving Lou’s.
Lou sighed. “Harry—“
“Please, Lou,” Harry whispered, peppering kisses to the inside of Lou’s thigh. “I’ll make it good for you, you know I will. I always do.”
“Christ, Harry, you’ve got a made mouth for dirty talk, don’t you?”
“No, just for blowing you,” Harry said with a cheeky grin before wrapping his lips around Lou and swallowing him down. Louis let out a gasp and Harry grabbed his hips, holding him steady as his tongue teased the vein on the underside of his cock. Lou’s fingers tightened in Harry’s curls, pushing Harry’s head down until he felt his nose brushing against his stomach. He moaned, Harry’s name falling from his lips, and Christ, Harry was right—his mouth was practically made for Lou’s cock. A warning fell from Lou’s lips before he came down Harry’s throat, his heart pounding in his chest. Harry pulled away, licking his lips and smiling up at Lou.
Lou grabbed his shoulder, hauling him to his feet and pressing their lips together. His tongue met Harry’s and, fuck, he should not find it so hot to taste himself but he did because it was Harry, and everything Harry did was just sexy.
Harry smiled against his lips, pulling away and letting out a laugh. “You more relaxed for your show now?”
“Fuck, my show!” Lou exclaimed, pulling up his pants and jeans and trying to fix his hair. “We’re gonna be so late.”
“But it was worth it, yeah?” Harry asked.
Lou smiled, meeting Harry’s eyes in the mirror. “Always is with you, Haz.”
“Don’t drink too much, Lou,” Harry said quietly, standing beside his boyfriend as he inspected one of his photographs.
Lou shrugged. “What if they don’t like it?” he asked, gesturing towards the people who were roaming around the gallery.
“Love, this place is packed, everyone loves it. I’ve been walking around talking to people and literally no one has anything bad to say,” he told him.
Harry smiled, rubbing Lou’s shoulder. “You see that group of girls over there?” he asked, nodding towards a group of college girls who were looking at one of his photographs (one of Harry, of course, that he did not want on display but, well, Lou had a very effective pout); Lou nodded. “They’re making bets on who can get your number by the end of the night.”
Louis grimaced. “That’s unfortunate.”
“Obviously they can’t tell that I’m crazy about you,” Harry told him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Guess it isn’t as obvious as everyone else says.”
Lou laughed. “I’m glad you’re here, Harry. It’s making me a lot less nervous.”
“Please. I’m only here because Niall’s paying me to write about it for the website he’s creating,” Harry said with a shrug.
Lou nodded slowly. “Of course. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been talking about this show for three months.”
“Have you?” Harry asked. “You see, I tend to forget vital information when you’re telling it to me as you fuck me over the kitchen table.”
Lou choked on a sip of his wine, eyes wide as he glanced around quickly. “You can’t say things like that in public, Harry,” he said quietly.
“Someone might overhear,” Zayn said as he walked over to them, embracing Louis tightly. “You’re lucky it’s me.”
“I could’ve gone without hearing that little bit of information,” Liam said, hugging Harry briefly before doing the same to Lou. “Amazing show, Lou.”
“Brilliant. I told you for years you were a brilliant photographer, and you never believed me,” Zayn shrugged.
Lou smiled. “I can’t believe you guys are here.”
“Why wouldn’t we be?” Liam asked. “We would never miss your first show.”
“Thank you,” Lou said softly.
“Niall’s around here somewhere.”
Harry frowned. “Did he not think I could handle it?”
Zayn shrugged. “Probably thought you’d be too busy dragging Lou off to coat check to blow him than to actually pay attention to the show itself,” he said.
Harry paused to consider that statement and, okay, that was a fair call on Niall’s part because, well, he really did like blowing Lou. Could he really be blamed for that, though? “Did that before the show,” he replied with a shrug.
Liam’s mouth fell open. “You—“
“Couldn’t help myself,” Harry told him.
Louis wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “You know how Liam is, darling,” he said in a mock stage-whisper.
Liam rolled his eyes. “Please. Hearing about blowjobs does not offend me,” he said.
“Neither does getting them. He rather likes them,” Zayn said with a smug grin.
“No, no, don’t be ashamed, Liam,” Harry teased. “Lou loves them, too.”
“Especially from you, I’d wager, lips like that,” Zayn commented, taking a sip of his wine.
“Now, now, Z, don’t go that far,” Louis warned, sending his friend a small smile.
“Yeah, let’s forget that we’ve all basically slept with one another,” Liam suggested.
Harry smiled, slipping his hand into Lou’s back pocket. “You should probably go mingle, darling.”
Lou sighed. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, you do,” Harry said with a nod. “Go chat up that group of girls,” he told him, waggling his eyebrows.
“You’re evil,” Lou commented.
Harry smacked his arse. “I’m gonna go find Niall and have words with him. You better be mingling when I return.”
Louis rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go mingle now,” he told Zayn and Liam, hugging them both quickly before he walked slowly over to the group of girls. Well, he actually walked around them first, only half-listening to their conversation, before he butted in. “Are you ladies enjoying the show?” he asked with a fake smile plastered to his face.
One of the girls smiled widely at him. “Of course! I’m Lucy. Your photography is amazing,” she told him, sticking out her hand.
Lou took it, ever so politely. “I’m Louis. I’m thrilled you love it. I was actually quite worried that no one would get it,” he told her.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Lucy asked. “It’s—“
“Oh, now you got her started,” the second girl said. “I’m Alison. Lucy here is the art student, so I’m sure she’ll be keen to talk your head off for a while.”
“I’m Mary,” the third girl replied. “And I didn’t even want to be here, but your pictures are quite pretty.”
Louis laughed softly. “Well, thank you all for coming. I’m sure it wasn’t your first choice for a Friday night. Three lovely ladies such as yourself must’ve had other plans.”
“I’ll say,” Mary muttered.
“Mary!” Lucy rolled her eyes. “It’s about falling in love, isn’t it?”
Louis paused. “Pardon?”
Lucy smiled. “Your collection. It’s about your journey of finding love, right? This man here,” she said, pointing to a photograph of Harry that Louis would always remember taking. It was the morning after they first slept together, he took it through the curtain to create a sort of manipulation that he couldn’t replicate even if he tried, and he didn’t want to try. “He’s the subject of most of your photographs.”
“Yeah, he is,” Louis said with a nod, and he turned, searching for Harry in the crowd. He wasn’t hard to find, he was a good deal taller than the others and Lou could pick Harry’s curls out of any crowd. When he met his boyfriend’s eyes, he smiled.
“How long did it take you to put together this collection?”
Louis pursed his lips. “Probably almost a year. It’s always been in the works, I suppose. It just…really came together with him,” he told her honestly. He didn’t really stop to consider that people in the gallery might get it, might know that the entire collection was about Harry, was for Harry, even. It was nice to have someone to talk to who just understood.
“He’s a very lucky man,” Lucy said with a smile.
Louis laughed. “Actually, I think I’m the lucky one…”
“You’re brilliant, Lou,” Harry said softly as they walked the four blocks back to their flat.
Louis flushed. He had been receiving praise all night, but it was different coming from Harry. It meant…more. “Yeah?”
“Of course,” he told him, wrapping an arm around his waist. “How many photographs were of me?”
Lou shrugged, slipping an arm around Harry’s waist and pressing his fingers into his back pocket. “A few.”
Harry smiled. “You love me.”
“I do,” Lou said, looking up at him.
“Do you want ice cream?”
“Do you want ice cream?” Louis asked.
Harry sighed. “Tonight isn’t about me, Louis, it’s about you. So if you want ice cream, we get ice cream.”
“And if I don’t want ice cream?”
“Then we don’t get ice cream,” Harry said simply.
Louis smiled, grabbing Harry’s wrist and pressing him up against the wall of the building that they had been walking in front of. He gripped Harry’s wrist tightly, fingers pressing into his pulse point, and he felt it jump. “And if I want to take you home and fuck you until you can’t walk?”
Harry bit back a moan. “Then we can do that. We can totally do that.”
“Can we?” Lou asked, pressing his lips against the side of Harry’s throat. It was half eleven that night, the streets weren’t exactly crowded, but Lou didn’t really care.
Harry nodded. “We can do whatever you want, Lou. I’d do anything you want.”
“I know,” he whispered, pressing their lips together. “Let’s go home, then.”
“Bloody tease,” Harry muttered affectionately, lacing their fingers together as they walked back to their flat. Part of him wanted nothing more than to drag Louis into an alley, drop to his knees, and worship Lou in all the ways he knew how. But it was Lou’s night, and he wanted to make it special, make it perfect.
Louis smiled, tightening his hold on Harry’s hand, as they approached their flat. The ride in the lift was silent and slow; Lou could practically feel Harry buzzing with energy and he couldn’t blame him. Harry wrapped his arms around Lou’s waist, fingers pressing against his stomach, as they walked down the hallway in tandem. Harry pressed his lips to the back of Lou’s neck; Lou nearly dropped the keys he was holding, but he manage to open the door, both of them stumbling in like tipsy teenagers who couldn’t wait to be alone. Harry pushed Lou against the wall, kicking the door shut behind him, and pressing their lips together, and it was just like Harry, Lou thought, always eager, always responsive. Lou cupped Harry’s face, slowly pulling away.
“Take off your clothes and lie on the bed,” Lou said quietly. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
Harry pouted but did exactly as he asked because, well, he always did.
Lou sucked in a deep breath and briefly wondered how the hell he got so lucky. When he walked into the bedroom, Harry was naked, lying on the bed, a hand on his stomach and Lou knew how much self-control he was using to not touch himself. Lou smiled, kicking off his shoes, his jeans and pants, his blazer and shirt followed. “You’re so beautiful, Haz,” he whispered, getting on the bed and crawling up to brush his lips across Harry’s cheek. He ran his hands up Harry’s sides, fingertips tracing his tattoos; he loved the way that Harry arched under his touch, like it was new even though it was by no means their first time.
“Tonight’s about me, yeah?” Lou asked.
“Good,” he said, leaning down to brush Harry’s curls away from his face. “Can you do something for me?”
“Anything,” Harry said breathlessly.
Harry groaned, hips arching off the bed, desperate to seek Lou and get any sort of contact.
Louis reached down and pressed Harry’s hips to the bed. “Don’t come, all right? Not until I tell you to. And if you’re a good boy—“
Harry sucked in a deep breath.
“Do you wanna be a good boy for me, Harry?”
“Yes. Yes, I do, Lou, fuck, I—“
Louis shook his head, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. He grabbed Harry’s hands and pressed them into the mattress before pressing a kiss to his sternum. He could feel Harry, hard and leaking against his chest, and hell, it was going to be a task for Lou not to come as well. Harry was so beautiful, so bloody beautiful, and Lou told him so. Harry shifted beneath him and Lou tightened his grip, lips brushing across the side of his cock, and Harry arched his back.
Harry’s grip tightened in the sheets as Lou’s mouth pressed against the head of his cock, tongue lapping at the precome, fingers ghosting past in order to press at his entrance. Harry pressed his hips down and Lou pulled his fingers away, smiling up at him. Lou reached towards the nightstand, pulling out a condom and a bottle of lube, quickly coating his fingers.
“You gonna be good?” Lou asked, tracing Harry’s entrance.
Harry nodded, curls matted to his forehead. “Yes. Yes, please, Lou, please, I need—I need—“
Louis slipped one finger into him and Harry sighed, insides clenching, and this was his favorite side of Harry. Submissive, trusting, and Lou knew that Harry would let him do whatever he wanted, because he trusted and loved Lou without a second thought. Harry’s eyes drifted shut as Lou added another finger, the slight stretch sending chills down his spine, and he moaned as Harry pressed a kiss to the head of his cock. Harry clenched as Lou added a third finger, the burn was on just this side of painful and he loved it. He wanted to reach for Lou, he did, and he almost did, but he stopped himself.
“What do you want, Harry?” Lou asked, pressing kisses to Harry’s hipbone and completely avoiding his cock. He knew Harry was close, could send him falling apart, and he knew that it wouldn’t take long for him to come once Louis was buried deep inside of him.
“You—Want you inside of me,” Harry gasped as Lou’s fingers pressed against that little bundle of nerves.
Louis nodded, withdrawing his fingers and rolling on the condom. He settled between Harry’s thighs, leaning down to press their lips together. “Y’alright?” he asked softly.
Harry nodded. “Wanna touch you.”
“You can touch me, just not yourself,” Louis said, grabbing Harry’s hips and entering him in one swift thrust.
Harry reached for Lou’s back, fingertips digging into the tan flesh as Louis stilled, giving Harry just enough time to adjust before he started rocking his hips. Harry wrapped his legs around Louis’ back and he arched his hips, causing Lou to thrust deeper inside of him, and a moan escaped his lips. Lou braced his hands on either side of Harry’s head, moving slowly inside of him, causing just enough friction that had Harry’s head lolling back, small whimpers escaping his lips.
Lou shifted his hips, changing his angle, and hit that spot deep within Harry, causing his back to arch off of the bed.
“Lou, m’gonna—Need you to—Fuck—“ he whimpered, nails digging into Lou’s shoulder blades. He arched his back, trying to cause some friction, any friction towards his abandoned cock because he was damn near desperate.
“Don’t come yet,” Lou told him, rocking his hips lazily as he watched Harry. His cheeks were flushed, his mouth fell open, and his eyes were watering, and Lou knew he was close, knew he was desperate to be touched. He started thrusting a bit faster as he trailed a hand down Harry’s chest, wrapping around his length.
“Lou,” Harry gasped, heels digging into Lou’s lower back. “Need to—“
“Not yet,” Louis said because Harry wasn’t at that point, not yet, not where he was completely wrecked and pliant in Lou’s arms and that, that was his favorite side of Harry. He tightened his grip around the base of Harry’s cock but didn’t move his hand, not yet. Lou could feel his own orgasm building in the pit of his stomach and he didn’t want to come, not before Harry did. He leaned down, pressing his lips to the base of Harry’s neck, to the bottom of his jaw, to the corner of his lips. “Now.”
Harry practically screamed Lou’s name as he came, spilling over Lou’s fist and against his chest, falling limp against the bed.
Lou kept thrusting, fucking Harry through his orgasm, before he came himself, Harry’s name falling from his lips. He paused before pulling out slowly, tying off the condom and tossing it into the wastebasket by their bed. He collapsed next to Harry, allowing the younger boy to nuzzle up against his side, and he smiled, lazily trailing his fingers over Harry’s spine.
“Y’weren’t kidding, were you?” Harry asked, voice rough and quiet against Lou’s chest.
“Fucking me ‘til I couldn’t walk,” Harry said, a small smile on his face.
Lou laughed. “Not exactly,” he said. He untangled himself from Harry’s arms and stood up. “I’ll be right back,” he told him when Harry pouted, reaching up towards him. He snuck off to the bathroom, wetting a flannel before returning to Harry’s side and wiping his chest clean. “Y’alright?”
Harry nodded, rolling onto his back as Lou wiped his chest. “M’perfect,” he told him with a lazy grin.
Lou smiled, wiping his own chest down before tossing the flannel to the ground. He lay back down next to Harry, his chin finding Harry’s shoulder automatically, and he wrapped his arms around his waist.
“Was I good?” Harry asked softly, tugging the blanket up towards his shoulders.
“Of course you were,” Lou said, kissing the soft skin behind his ear.
“What do I get?”
Lou smiled. “You get to make me breakfast in the morning.”
Harry pouted. “I always make you breakfast, though.”
“Still my day isn’t it?”
“That’s what I want, then,” Lou told him.
“I’ll always make you breakfast, Lou,” Harry said quietly, grabbing Lou’s hand and lacing their fingers together across his stomach. “I love you, Louis.”
Louis smiled and he felt warm all over, a kind of warm that he had never felt until Harry entered his life. “I love you, too, Harry.”