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To Taste So Sweet

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Zayn is walking toward his flat when he sees Harry. He slows the momentum he’d built hopping the stairs two at a time and tugs an earbud out so that the Kooks’ Ooh La fades to just one side.

Harry’s sitting there at the end of the hallway, hunched over on the floor next to Zayn’s door, knees pulled up to his chest with the toes of his dirtied white Converse twisted in toward each other. His arms are wrapped around himself and his head is bowed; there are dark, loose curls falling over his face with just a hint of nose and wobbly chin peeking through. His angles are so inexplicably wrong that Zayn can’t seem to swallow past his heart lodged in his throat or even catch his breath.

He knows Harry’s crying before he even sees the tiny hitch of Harry’s chest or hears the pathetic snuffling that follows. Harry’s a crier. He cries at the end of the Notebook and in the midst of Die Hard, cries when his friends’ pets die. He cries when Gemma has to be hooked up to an IV overnight after having bad sushi and he cries when the woman on the radio talks about being reunited with her long lost twin. He used to cry when Zayn went quiet and stoic with him, jaw set firmly and eyes dark because Zayn needs his space sometimes, but he has since learnt that Harry just needs to be told what’s wrong so he doesn’t worry himself sick that it’s him.

Harry’s crying now, but Zayn has no inkling as to why. He gives his phone a cursory glance while he goes to turn off his music, checking if he’d missed any texts or phone calls, but there’s nothing there. It makes the sinking feeling in his stomach turn to lung-squeezing worry. It’s not like Harry to be this upset that he shows up unannounced, breaking down at Zayn’s doorstep without so much as a message Zayn’s way.

Zayn takes a deep breath and pulls his other earbud out, winding the cord around his mobile and stuffing it into his messenger bag. He steps into Harry's periphery, holding the panic on his tongue. He knows better than to freak out when Harry’s upset.

He comes to a stop, lowering his bag next to Harry’s folded frame and crouching in front of him. Harry finally realizes Zayn’s there and makes an embarrassed keening sound. He twists his head to rub his snotty nose into the crook of his armpit and hide himself away.

“Babe,” Zayn murmurs, curling a hand against the side of Harry’s neck and pressing a thumb to his chin, forcing him to meet his gaze. Harry’s eyes are red-rimmed and wet, face zig-zagged with dry tear tracks and moist with fresh ones; there’s a tiny dimple in his chin that won’t stop quivering. “What happened? You okay? Are you hurt? Is anybody hurt?”

His tone is firm enough to show that he’s not going to wait for Harry to calm down from whatever this is before he gets an answer, but gentle enough not to startle him further into his shell. It takes time for Harry to navigate intense emotions and find his words through his thoughts, but Zayn just needs to know whether Harry’s okay first. They can take all the time he needs after.

Harry shakes his head - a tiny little jerk indicating no - and when he parts his lips to speak, he hiccups and exhales shakily instead. “M’not - m’not hurt. M’okay.”

Zayn nods, swiping his thumb over Harry’s bottom lip and letting it catch and stutter on the fullness of it. He scans Harry’s face - the scar near his temple where he split it open on Anne’s cupboard after too much eggnog one Christmas; the barely noticeable birthmark the shade of milky sweet coffee on the edge of his chin; the hazel specks swimming in the familiar mossy green of his irises.

“Alright, c’mon,” Zayn murmurs. “C’mon, let’s get you inside and I’ll take care of you, yeah?”

Harry nods his assent with minimal reluctance, but doesn’t move to get up. He sniffles back snot and tilts his head to the side, nosing at his short sleeve. If this was a Notebook or Die Hard cry, Zayn would call him out on how gross he was being, telling him to wait a minute until they could fetch a box of tissues. As it is, he’s so heartbroken by the destroyed sight of his boyfriend’s face that the thought of even a playful jab about it just barely crosses his mind.

Zayn pushes up to his feet and pulls his messenger bag over his shoulder, eyes fixed on Harry. He reaches a hand out and hauls him upwards, taking a reflexive step backward to give him enough space to straighten up. Zayn’s about to turn to the door, hand going to his pocket for his keys, when something on Harry’s leg brings him to a halt. He pushes Harry back by the chest and takes another step back himself, tilting his head to get a better look.

“Jesus christ, Haz. You said you weren’t hurt. What do you call this?”

There’s an ugly smear of crimson bleeding through a fresh rip in the denim of Harry’s jeans, his kneecap visibly scratched up. The material around the rip has gone dark with dried blood. Zayn wonders how he didn’t notice it before.

Harry wipes his eyes with the heel of his palm, gaze dropping toward his own gash, almost as though he’d forgotten it was there. Zayn watches his cheeks turn from a warm, tearful pink to a burning, sheepish red.

“I tripped up your stairs coming in,” he says. “Was trying to text you and didn’t look up from my phone. Stupid.”

“Babe,” Zayn coos, face softening. He tugs on the bottom of Harry’s shirt. “You’re not stupid. C’mon.” He unlocks the door and holds it open for Harry, watching as he shuffles inside. “Get your shoes off while I get something for that cut, yeah? I’ll just be a minute.”

Harry nods absently and Zayn can already tell it’s going to be a struggle getting him to talk today, worse than pulling teeth.

Zayn throws his messenger bag aside and crouches down in the entryway, starting to make quick work of the laces on his boots. He wonders if he’s got enough first-aid things in the loo to take care of Harry’s wound properly, but pauses his train of thought altogether to glance up.

Harry’s lowering himself to his knees in front of Zayn, his thighs splayed out in a V as he rests back on his haunches, his palms resting against the small triangle of ground between them. His fingers curl against the wooden flooring as he fixes his stare on to Zayn’s hands where they’re still wrapped around the ends of his laces.

“Can I?” he asks finally, voice small and unsteady.

It takes a moment for Zayn to realize what Harry wants from him. The question reverberates and bounces off the walls of Zayn’s head like it’s trying to elude him. It knocks the breath out of him when it finally settles and clicks into place. Can I?

It’s something they’ve done only once before. It was the morning after Zayn was particularly rough with Harry, leaving him mottled with bruises and bitemarks and angry criss-crossed welts from his belt all over. Zayn had wrecked him to tears that night, an ocean of blubbering thank you, sir, thank you, sir, thank you, sirs leaving Harry’s lips in the dark of their room.

Zayn gathered him up in his arms afterwards, Harry sliding into his grip easily like shards of glass settling into a dustpan. He pieced him back together gingerly before they went to sleep, kissing tears off his face and wiping his stomach clean with a flannel, interspersing the swipes of harsh fabric with gentle kisses along his endless torso. He shampooed Harry’s curls in the shower and soaped up the dips of his back with careful fingers, then laid him out on his bed and rubbed ointment over the raised bits of his skin that were crying to be soothed. Harry purred and whimpered sleepily through the sensations, fighting to stay awake so he could get his promised goodnight kiss.

Zayn woke up the next day to find Harry standing in front of the full-length mirror in his closet door, the entirety of him bathed in dusty sunlight and looking like a dream. He was tracing a blooming array of shapes on his hips, purpled contusions that grew darker at the center. His fingers traveled between bruises like he was constructing pathways from one pushpin to another on a map of his skin, and all Zayn could think as he watched was I’ve been there, there, and there.

When Harry saw Zayn’s reflection in the mirror - awake and watching him - he crawled back into bed with him and stole a succession of slow, lazy kisses that Zayn didn’t try to hold back, parting his lips readily when Harry hummed for more access. Harry kissed him like he wanted to suck nectar from the underside of his tongue, swallow him up and eat him whole. Zayn wanted nothing more to say yes, yes, yes to Harry, to kiss him until both their lips went raw, but he had to leave for class soon, and when he broke away to murmur exactly that, Harry’s eyes went a little wet and his bottom lip quivered just enough for Zayn to notice.

Zayn knew enough about subspace to know this was part of it; not exactly a drop, but teetering on the edge, like if Zayn didn’t peck Harry’s lips once more, Harry would crumple like a kite caught beneath the sole of a careless boot. So he rolled him over and kissed him until he stopped shaking, until his fingers steadied where they dug half-crescent moons into Zayn’s sides, until he seemed solid enough not to turn to ash if Zayn let go.

Harry poured all of his focus into making the perfect breakfast fry-up for Zayn and bringing it to him at the couch. Zayn pressed an awed kiss to the inside of Harry’s palm, and not a moment later, Harry was getting to his knees quietly to tie up Zayn’s undone boots for him, as if it were the most natural thing for him to do.

Zayn watched him tighten the laces on his Doc Martens, stunned by the remarkable display of subservience. To anyone else, it might’ve looked like nothing, like everyday domestic bliss, but to Zayn it was the entire world quaking beneath his feet. His body went rigid as though he didn’t want to perturb the newly found balance of the universe, as though someone had poured cement between his ribs and laid bricks between his bones.

Harry leaned down and kissed the toe of Zayn’s boot, lifted his lips to kiss the leathery inside of his ankle, then dragged his lips up to Zayn’s kneecap, peppering it luxuriously with affection. He looked up at Zayn from beneath his lashes for approval, eyes hooded and hazy, humming in relief when Zayn scritched shaky fingers behind his ears like he would a kitten who brought him the mouse.

Today feels different, somehow. Zayn, crouching in his entryway with his hands frozen on his laces, taking in Harry’s quiet Can I? Harry, sitting on his knees and waiting for the green light to touch Zayn, an edge of desperation in the way his hands shake between the splay of his own thighs. It feels like Harry might need this for himself more than he wants it for Zayn, a parched man who might collapse without a drink of water, so Zayn nods. He settles onto the floor, dropping his hand away from his laces and stretching his leg out so that Harry can get to it.

A small smile tugs the corners of Harry’s lips upwards. Grateful, maybe. Relieved, definitely. He takes a shaky breath and lifts Zayn’s foot to rest it sole-first against his thigh. He gets to work unfastening Zayn’s laces with much more care than the task deserves; his long, delicate hands finger the knotted strings like they might break, his eyebrows cinched in concentration.

He slowly unties the first knot and then the second on one boot, letting the strings fall apart and hang by the sides. He loosens the tongue with a tug, and the pressure around Zayn’s foot releases gradually. Harry sniffles as he takes the loosened boot in both hands and tugs it at an angle - up and away - his body jerking back slightly as it finally comes off. He sets it aside and eases Zayn’s foot back to the ground.

There’s a chalky grey bootprint left on Harry’s jeans that he doesn’t bother to dust off. Instead, he switches his attention to Zayn’s other boot, gingerly bringing it to his other thigh and undoing the double-knot with the blunt edges of his nails, pulling it loose in the same way he’d done with the first. He pauses for a quick moment to wipe his eyes with the heel of his palm before he reaches down and twists the boot off, setting it next to its match.

Zayn flexes his socked toes, overwhelmed by the time Harry is done, his lungs pulled taut and throat thrumming with his racing pulse. Electricity thumps through him, as though someone had stuck a handful of frayed wires into a bathtub and jolted him limb by limb.

“Thank you, babe,” he murmurs finally, knowing that Harry is expecting him to say something.

Harry had been looking at the ground unsurely, but he gives a shy grin at the praise, his timid gaze traveling up to Zayn’s.

“I’m all snotty,” he admits with a quiet laugh, as if Zayn wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t mentioned it. And just like that, the rigid tension liquefies and falls around them in waves, leaving more room to breathe.

“C’mon, then. Let's take care of you,” Zayn says, pushing up to his feet a little unsteadily and flexing his hands by his sides. He waits as Harry takes off his Converse; he's clumsier than usual with his own laces, fingers faltering like he can’t quite remember how they work.

Zayn flicks on the washroom light and washes his hands with a bar of soap, dried acrylics caked beneath his nails from painting for class. Harry squeezes past him to sit on the toilet, wordless, and Zayn shoots him a warm smile as he shakes his hands dry in the sink. He pops open the mirrored cupboard to grab alcohol swabs, a mostly-empty jar of petroleum jelly and a box of assorted plasters; they’re the Hello Kitty kind because Harry picked them out, and Harry picked them out because he’s the one who’s most likely to become injured of the two of them, even if it’s in Zayn’s own flat.

Zayn elbows the cupboard shut and moves toward Harry. He’s waiting with his arms held taut by his hips, whitened knuckles gripping the edges of the closed toilet seat tightly at each of his sides. His stare is fixed on the mish-mash of first-aid things in Zayn’s hands; the toe of one of his socked feet rubs against the curved sole of the other, a telltale sign that he’s feeling anxious.

He’s beautiful, Zayn thinks, even like this. Even with his disheveled hair and runny nose and bloodshot eyes, trusting Zayn to put him back together from whatever it was that dared pull him apart.

Zayn crouches on the floor in front of him and inspects his wounded knee. He holds the ripped strands of denim away from where they’ve stuck to the gash and disinfects it. The alcohol swab clears up most of the blood and dirt that hadn’t already dried against the skin, and the succession of cuts underneath is revealed to be minor without the ugly mess of scarlet covering it. Zayn uses a cool finger to smear the area with petroleum jelly, and then plasters it with a large, rectangular and very pink bandage, smoothing the sticky edges down carefully to avoid the material bubbling.

“Thanks,” Harry manages. He sounds grateful but brittle, like the word took everything out of him.

“You’re good, babe,” Zayn assures, pushing to his feet. He grabs a flannel from the counter and wets it with warm water, squeezing the excess out in the sink before bringing it to Harry’s face. “Tilt back.”

Harry obeys, rolling his neck back and letting his eyes fall shut. Zayn only lets himself survey the wrecked contours of his boyfriend’s face for a brief moment, drinking in the shadows and soft curves that he knows so well. The subtle spread of acne spotting Harry’s forehead matches the bruised cherry of his swollen lips where he must’ve bitten them too hard. Zayn wipes him clean, working the flannel over his ruddy cheeks and against the lines of his jaw, even scrubbing behind his ears.

Harry purrs his approval; he loves to be fussed over, often shameless in admitting or even demanding it, but he doesn’t move an inch now, not even to twitch a brow or sniffle.

Zayn leaves his nose for last so he can pinch it firmly in the material of the flannel. “Blow.”

Harry does as he’s told and Zayn catches most of it, squeezing out what he can and using an unsoiled corner of the cloth to wipe Harry's nose clean. He twists away to throw the flannel in the hamper, and then turns back to step between the V of Harry’s legs. Zayn curls his hands into the hair at the base of Harry’s neck as he searches his face.

“Are you ready to tell me what happened?”

Harry takes a shaky breath. Zayn rubs the pads of his thumbs behind his ears, waiting for Harry to find himself in the scattered corners of his mind. Zayn doesn’t rush him, coaxing instead with reassuring touches. Harry shies away, lowering his head to Zayn’s clothed stomach, nuzzling against the material of his shirt for what seems like forever. Zayn is about to push him for a response when Harry finally speaks, sounding hesitant.

“I did my portfolio assignment wrong,” he mumbles, voice low and words slurring together. He pauses again. “Ivalov just barely passed me by two percent, and I’m-” Harry snuffles, his voice breaking momentarily. “I’ve been working on it for the past few months, and I’m just really stupid. I can’t even follow a bloody course outline.

Zayn sighs quietly. He bumps Harry’s bowed head with his stomach, trying to get his attention. “That’s not even slightly true, is it? You’re not stupid, for one. Ivalov is the twit for not giving you a chance to fix it. Is this the course outline we went through together?”

“Yes.”

Zayn furrows his eyebrows, confused. “But I thought we’d figured it out.”

Harry whines, shifting his forehead from Zayn's stomach to his hipbone as he attempts to nuzzle in closer. He curls his hands around the backs of Zayn’s knees and pulls himself up against Zayn’s thighs. If Zayn didn’t know any better, he’d think Harry was trying to take refuge under his skin; he doesn’t stop him, just tangles one hand more surely in his hair while the other falls to his shoulder.

“Remember how I was s’posed to include ten peer-reviewed sources?” Harry asks, but doesn’t wait for a response. “And I said I would put random sources in my bibliography without reading them, and you said it wouldn’t work. You told me to read through the sources and make sure I’d actually cited them or he’d know the difference. You told me to listen to you. Remember?”

Zayn remembers; Harry had rolled his eyes and Zayn had jabbed his side and said, I’m serious, Haz. Listen to what I’m telling you. He cranes his neck to try to look down at Harry, but from up above he’s only a head of curls trying to disappear in the hidden crevices of Zayn’s body. “But you didn’t read them, did you?”

Harry rubs his nose harder against the pocket of Zayn’s jeans. Zayn’s going to be a mess by the end of this, fluids crusted into his trousers. The rough denim can’t feel good against Harry’s irritated nostrils, either. He supposes that’s why Harry is doing it, though - a dash of discomfort to punish himself.

“He said I was the only one who messed it up so badly,” Harry mutters, words muffled and nearly lost.

“Haz. Whatever you’re thinking at the moment, you’re not stupid. Sometimes you just... you don’t listen.”

Harry whimpers in response, like he’s rejecting Zayn’s assessment and demanding a harsher one. Harry nudges his nose against the top button of Zayn’s jeans, catching the strip of his bare waist where his shirt rides up.

“Hey. None of that. Look at me.”

Harry shakes his head quietly, dropping his head again and breathing against Zayn’s flies instead.

Zayn squeezes his shoulder in one hand, scratching his scalp with the other. “You’re not gonna look at me?”

Harry sniffles, shrugging. “No.”

“Okay. I’ll leave you to it, then, if I can’t help?”

“You can help,” Harry drawls, letting the words draw out beseechingly like a child would, sounding like he’s just short of huffing in frustration. He stays silent for a while longer before dragging his lips and teeth down the crotch of Zayn’s jeans, exhaling slowly onto it. The unexpected heat sends a shiver tumbling down the knobs of Zayn's spine, making him momentarily lightheaded. Zayn tightens his fingers on Harry’s hair, feeling a heavy pressure on his flies a beat later; Harry’s parted mouth is rubbing against the material as he presses filthy, open-mouthed kisses along the length of it.

Zayn tugs Harry’s head back with a warning look, holding back a shaky breath. “Harry. Use your words, please.”

Zayn.” Harry doesn’t sound happy about the apparently unreasonable request. He tightens his fingers in the backs of Zayn’s knees and meets his eyes, looking entirely fucked out even though Zayn’s barely touched him. “Please, just...? Please.”

Zayn levels him with a calm look, surveying his flushed cheeks and the wild haziness of his blown eyes. He knows this Harry. This is the Harry that’s starting to slip away from him in increments; the one who needs to be pulled from the inside out until he’s shaking with it, the one who needs his guts rattled and his core bruised black. The one who needs his ruins kissed better at the end of the night.

Zayn drags the fingertips of both hands to Harry’s hairline. He combs the loose curls back and keeps them off Harry’s forehead, pinning them against the crown of his head so he has nothing left to hide behind.

Zayn searches his eyes. “What do you need, Haz? Tell me.”

“Please,” Harry breathes, voice breaking. He lets his eyes fall shut, nuzzling against Zayn’s wrist. “Please, just. Zayn. I don’t know.”

“I need a little more than that,” Zayn cajoles, certain to keep his voice gentle and not chiding. There’s a time for chiding Harry, and this is far from it. “You’re emotional, yeah? And I don’t want to fuck with your head. Doesn’t feel right.”

Harry takes a shaky breath and Zayn can see the concentrated twist of his face as he attempts to bring himself back to the surface for this conversation; he looks like a sleeping toddler would if they were having a nightmare. He wrenches himself back from whatever depths he’d begun to slip into, parting his lips.

“I want...” Harry pauses, brows furrowing above his closed eyes, like the words had left a bad taste in his mouth. “I deserve,” he corrects, “I deserve to be punished.” He swallows, Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. “I should’ve listened to you when you told me about - about Ivalov. You only wanted what’s best for me and I didn’t listen. I always undermine you because I like to take the easy way out.”

Zayn waits to make sure Harry is done talking, then leans down to catch his mouth in a gentle kiss.

“Thank you for using your words,” he murmurs, pecking him softly once more. He straightens up a moment later, considering him. “I don’t think you were being malicious or purposefully bad, but I do think you need to learn to listen better, yeah? So I’m going to punish you, but only a bit. Is that alright, babe?”

Harry nods, chest heaving softly, eyes fixing on Zayn.

Zayn steps forward and lifts his right knee, settling it comfortably between Harry’s thighs on the toilet cover. He keeps one hand still buried in Harry’s hair and uses it to tilt his head to the side, watching him go with the pull of it like a ragdoll. Zayn curls his free hand in the exposed juncture between Harry’s neck and shoulder, thumb curved to press against the front of his throat.

“Get yourself hard for me, love.”

Harry nods, looking more pink and breathless already, and Zayn can’t help but imagine what shade he’d turn to if Zayn really put pressure on his throat, if he squeezed lightly or even choked him in earnest for a handful of moments. Both of Harry’s hands move to curl around the back of Zayn’s offered knee, but he doesn’t pull it forward. He shifts toward the edge of toilet seat instead until he’s pressed snug against Zayn’s thigh, keening brokenly at the contact. He’s already half-hard, Zayn can feel him, and it takes his breath away that he’s the one responsible for it.

Zayn loosens his grip on Harry's hair, nodding down at his thigh. “Watch yourself.”

Harry mewls and flushes deep red, tilting his head forward. He drops his hooded eyes to watch himself squirm against Zayn’s thigh obediently, rubbing up and down in stuttered, determined motions. Zayn can tell he’s struggling to perfect a smooth rhythm of denim-on-denim by the impatient little grunt he gives, sounding so much like the nineteen year old that he is.

Harry pulls Zayn’s thigh closer, and Zayn can practically feel his eyebrows meet in concentration as Harry circles his hips closer, never breaking contact. He grinds firmly until Zayn can feel the obscene heat of his fattening cock, the thick and solid line of him becoming more and more pronounced with every rub.

Zayn surveys Harry, drinking in his aborted moans of pleasure and breathy whimpers of reckless abandon, the line of his shoulders tensing beneath his shirt. Harry leans more of his weight against Zayn’s stomach and starts to rub his hips in earnest once he’s fully hard, clearly chasing his release.

“Don’t come, Harry,” Zayn warns, watching his every move. He pets Harry’s head when he gives a broken sound, awed by how close he must be. “That easy, huh? Like a pathetic puppy. Embarrassing, baby.”

Harry’s hips snap up against Zayn at the words. He goes completely silent and still and then exhales in a whoosh a moment later, like the spike of humiliation had winded him. His fingers scrabble to the sides of Zayn’s thigh and dig in deeper, holding Zayn in place so he can rut against him roughly; he barely lifts his hips, going for a harsh, concentrated friction, and Zayn knows how close he is - probably not even a full minute away.

When Zayn yanks Harry’s hair back so that their eyes meet, the sudden pain of it startles a squeal out of Harry and he goes rigid.

“Sorry,” Harry whispers immediately. “Sorry, sorry. Sorry, sir. I got carried away.”

Zayn hums his agreement, eyes traveling down to see the bulge of Harry’s cock pressed against him, precome so thick it’s smeared into the darkened wet denim of Zayn’s jeans. Zayn takes a step back, releasing Harry’s curls and lowering his leg back to the ground, breaking all points of contact between them.

Zayn bumps Harry’s chin with the knuckles of his fist. “Are you going to listen to me?”

“Yes, sir.”

Zayn raises his voice an octave. “Are you going to listen to me, Harry?”

Yes, sir.”

“You don’t get to come if I don’t want you to come.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You should be grateful when I help you.”

Harry’s red to the tip of his ears, hips canting up into nothing. “Thank you, sir.”

“This isn’t about what you want. It’s about what I think you deserve.”

“Yes, sir.”

Zayn takes in Harry’s flushed cheeks and gives a single nod, but not without an air of skepticism that lets Harry know he’s going to be observing him. Harry bites his lip and waits dutifully for instruction. Satisfied with him, Zayn lowers himself to his knees in front of the toilet and shifts on the hard tile, starting to undo Harry’s jeans. The fact that the black denim is nearly painted onto his boyfriend’s legs means there’s no need for a pesky belt, but it still takes Zayn an age to work them down his hips either way.

“Up,” he orders, tapping Harry’s legs.

Harry obeys, lifting his hips off the seat. His hardened cock curves out of the waistband of his briefs when Zayn tugs them down along with the trousers; it bobs against his t-shirt, smearing it with a streak of precome. Zayn pulls the jeans all the way off, wary of the Hello Kitty plaster as he passes the fabric over Harry’s wounded knee, and then shoves them aside in a heap.

He holds his hand out. “Shirt, please.”

Harry straightens up and pulls his t-shirt over his head, handing it to Zayn and locking their gazes. Zayn accepts it with a grateful thank you, baby and the pet name elicits a pleased hiss from Harry, his body curving in on itself; the tip of his cock glistens responsively with a fresh spill of precome.

“If you move, you won’t get to come tonight,” Zayn informs him, setting the discarded shirt aside. “I need you to stay really still for me, Harry. Can you do that?”

Harry nods.

Zayn curls his hand around the base of Harry’s cock and leans in, pursed lips hovering right above his shining slit. He gathers saliva in his mouth and spits as slowly as he can so that a lazy stream of it inches obscenely down each side of Harry’s length, sliding from his crown to the circle of Zayn’s fingers. Zayn licks his lips to cut off the string of spit that’s left between them, then starts to stroke Harry, smoothing the slick over him from tip to base. He watches the length of him get progressively wetter in his fist, humming appreciatively at the sight.

“Such a nice cock, baby,” Zayn praises, eyes moving up to Harry’s face as he settles himself back onto his haunches, Harry flushing beet red under his gaze. His hand moves in slow, steady pulls, palm twisting over the head to gather any bubbling precome on the upstroke and smearing it back down. “So thick and long. You reckon you could get this hard for anybody?”

Harry shakes his head, his lips a hectic pink. His eyes are so hooded Zayn can barely tell what shade of green they are.

Zayn hums consideringly, twisting his fist upwards. “Just me, then?”

“Just you, sir,” Harry whispers under his breath, but he sounds like he can barely recognize the words coming out of his own mouth.

“I don’t think that’s very true, baby. I think you’d get hard for just about anyone who’d be nice enough to touch your cock. Just look at you, Harry. You’re gagging for it.”

Zayn punctuates his words with a rough jerk and Harry tenses like he wants to move. He keens breathlessly instead, watching Zayn’s hand move up and down his length, diligent and thorough. Zayn parts his fingers over the head of Harry’s cock, making a snug V around him, the glistening web between his index and middle finger dragging down the velvety vein on his underside all the way to his sac and back up. Harry’s fingers clench and unclench desperately around the toilet seat; his thighs start to tremble with the effort to stay still, like he’s going to burst at the seams or shatter into nothing if he doesn’t come soon.

Zayn thumbs over his slit in small circles, looking up at him. “You like when people touch your prick, Harry?”

“Yes, sir,” Harry pants, nodding continuously, shoulders shaking.

“Do you wanna come for me, Harry?”

“Yes, sir. Please. Please-” Harry gasps, staring at Zayn’s hand, and his hips twitch like they’re about to buck upwards.

Zayn squeezes his ankle warningly with his free hand, a reminder that he’s not allowed to move, but he kisses his tip nonetheless, murmuring into it as he tugs Harry towards his release. “Alright, babe. Come for me. Come as hard as you can.”

Harry grips the sides of the toilet seat so tightly that Zayn’s afraid his arms are going to snap from the strain. He goes silent when the first few spurts are torn out of him, spilling over Zayn’s fingers and jumping as far as the inside of Harry’s elbow when Zayn aims it away from himself. Harry exhales jerkily after a beat, his stomach rippling as Zayn milks him of his orgasm, squeezing it out of him drop by drop.

As soon as Harry’s slit stops bubbling with come, Zayn tightens his grip mercilessly on his oversensitized cock and continues to stroke him with his own come like nothing had just happened, not allowing him go soft.

Harry lets out a panicked shriek of disapproval, his hips coming up off the toilet seat involuntarily at the immediate switch from pleasure to pain. “Zayn. Zayn! Zayn, Zayn, Zayn,” he cries in a rush.

“Shhh,” Zayn says, steadying him with one hand on his thigh as he twists his palm cruelly over the sensitive tip of Harry’s cock, sliding the heel of it back-and-forth over Harry’s slit as Harry’s hips jerk in protest. Harry bangs his hand against the wall, gasping in shock. “Steady, baby. Steady. Does it hurt?”

Harry’s entire body shakes; he lets out a sob in response to Zayn’s question. His shoulders hunch and his knees press inwards against Zayn’s sides, almost as though his body is trying to curl up and protect him against the pain.

Zayn doesn’t let Harry’s blubbering pleas deter him. Harry knows his safeword better than his own name, and nothing but that could stop Zayn from carrying out his punishment until its end. He strokes him from base to tip as if it were any other handjob, showing no signs of slowing down.

“I want you to remember this, yeah?” he tells Harry, calm in the face of his hysteria. “You were so good for me today. You listened to me and you had such a nice orgasm. But it was all ruined because I had to punish you. Don’t you hate when you disappoint me and I have to punish you?”

Harry nods, eyes squeezed shut. His chin wibbles and his lashes stick together with tears, exhales coming harshly through his nose. When he speaks, his voice is strained, sounding like it’s punched out of him. “Thank you, sir.”

Zayn watches him fondly, but the motion of his grip is relentless. “C’mon now, baby. I want you to come again for me. You can do that for me, can’t you? Yeah, you can. Be my good boy.”

Harry cries out and his hands fly to Zayn’s shoulders, holding onto him tightly. His legs clench tighter around Zayn where they bracket him on the floor, and Zayn patiently works his hand over Harry’s hot cock, pulling until Harry’s hips jerk upwards almost violently.

“There we go,” Zayn coos appreciatively, stilling his hand at Harry’s base and squeezing once, looking down to watch Harry’s slit spasm around nothing as he comes painfully dry in Zayn’s loosened grip. It’s a sight he’s seen only twice before, and it stirs the heat building low in his own stomach to something urgent. “That’s it, baby. That’s it. You’re so good.”

“Please,” Harry sobs, fingernails scrabbling at Zayn’s shoulders, tugging at the material of his shirt for him to stand. “Please, Zayn. Please, I need it. I need it.”

“Alright, baby. Alright.” Zayn lets go of Harry’s cock and holds onto both of his thighs instead, knocking Harry’s chin with his nose until Harry gets the hint and kisses him dirtily, their tongues meeting without preamble. Zayn hums and breaks away despite how good it feels, not wanting to keep Harry waiting for what he really needs.

Zayn pulls himself up to his feet, feeling off balance for just a moment before he steps in between the spread of Harry’s bare legs, curling his hands into his hair. Harry lets out a high sound of relief, fingers immediately going to Zayn’s belt to work it open, the metal clanging as the leather snaps apart. He’s not careful, hands frantically pulling Zayn’s flies open, practically ripping them off.

Zayn doesn’t have a moment to breathe before Harry is grabbing two handfuls of Zayn’s jeans and briefs and tugging them down at once, Zayn’s hardened cock slapping against Harry’s cheek as it bounces free. Harry makes a needy sound and grabs onto the backs of Zayn’s thighs to pull him forward, Zayn’s hand flying to wall behind Harry’s head to steady himself as the other tightens in his hair.

Harry’s parted lips seek out Zayn’s length; he catches him with his tongue first, sliding it upwards until he can close his mouth around the head. He hums in relief like this was exactly what he was looking for, a swell of warmth to calm the buzzing in his head. He swallows around the head, twirling his tongue around it once before pressing a kiss to his slit. Zayn expects him to savour every moment and work his way down gradually, but instead, Harry slackens his jaw and lowers himself on Zayn’s length in one go, until his nose is buried into the short hair at Zayn’s base, the immediacy of it nearly making Zayn’s knees buckle. Zayn can feel Harry’s throat flutter around the tip of his cock just before he coughs and gags, spluttering against the length of him.

Zayn tugs at Harry’s hair, voice strained. “Easy, baby, don’t hurt yourself. It’s okay. It’s okay, take your time. You feel so good.”

The words seem to miraculously break through to Harry, because he slows down a notch, swallowing around Zayn’s entire length once before pulling the wet ring of his lips up an inch from the base, giving himself just enough room to breathe.

Zayn wants to last. He knows this is just as much about Harry’s needs as it is about his own. The comfort of being able to please Zayn like this after he’s been punished helps Harry come back to his head, pacifying him in a way that ensures his joints are loose and his mind is clear by the time the night is over.

Zayn tightens his fingers on Harry’s hair with a hiss as a twist of pleasure nearly brings him to the floor. He lets Harry set the pace, watching his head move hungrily on his length. Harry holds onto Zayn’s thighs and tries to take him all the way down again, holding him in his throat as he gags. He breathes through it for a moment longer, drooling with a moan down Zayn’s sac before he goes back to bobbing eagerly.

“I’m close, Haz,” Zayn whispers, voice breaking despite himself. Harry pulls off of Zayn with a deep, dizzying breath, and Zayn realizes that it’s the first time he’s fully broken away since he started sucking him. Harry looks up from beneath thick lashes, his long fingers wrapping around the base of Zayn’s dick and starting to tug in earnest, his spit making the glide slippery smooth. Harry leaves his lips parted and close so that the head of Zayn’s cock bumps his mouth with every pull.

Zayn holds on tightly to Harry’s hair, fingernails curling against the wall, and he nearly sees black when his release hits him, like a bolt of thunder striking him right in the pit of his stomach. He comes in thick streaks over and inside Harry’s velvety mouth and he can’t tell which one of them is moaning so loudly or if it’s the both of them in sync. Harry milks him through it dutifully, hand twisting just right to get a final few spurts out of him before he slows his fingers down.

Zayn’s vision swims, but he can tell that Harry looks obscene, a diagonal streak of buttery white dashing across his parted lips and dipping beneath his chin, the rest of Zayn’s come settled visibly on his tongue where he holds his mouth open for him. Zayn’s voice is syrupy slow when he finally tells him to swallow, and Harry closes his mouth and does as he’s told with a pleased hum, sticking his cleared tongue out afterward for Zayn to inspect.

When Zayn nods his approval, Harry licks his lips clean. “Thank you,” he murmurs softly, his voice hoarse and deeper than it was just a short while ago.

Zayn loves him so much in that moment - in every moment - that he thinks it could bring him to his knees; break him clean in two; turn him to dust. He leans down and roughly licks the line of come off Harry’s chin, mouth and upper lip before feeding it back to him in a kiss. He curls his hands against the sides of Harry’s neck and strokes his jawline, their tongues working together ruthlessly, the strong taste of Zayn passed between them.

Zayn breaks away finally, pecking gently at Harry’s abused lips. He pulls back to search his eyes one by one. He can tell that Harry’s still not back with him, but he’s starting to surface nonetheless.

Zayn smoothes Harry’s hair away from his face, kissing his temple. “You think you can stand for me in the shower?”

Harry nods and sniffles. Zayn steps back to give him some room, and Harry’s face breaks into a small, shivery smile - just big enough to expose the dip of his dimple and it makes Zayn’s heart sing. He’s learnt how to bring Harry right to the edge without pushing him completely off the cliff long ago, but the relief of the first smile afterwards will never be expendable. Zayn leans back in and pecks him again softly.

“I love you more than anything,” he murmurs into Harry’s lips, and he can feel Harry’s full body shudder in response to the quiet admission, chest arching up towards him.

“Me too,” he returns breathily, and Zayn kisses him once more.

“C’mon,” he urges, and Harry wraps his arms around Zayn’s neck and allows himself to be hauled up to his feet, the two of them stumbling backwards towards the wall, laughing together. “Easy, now. You’re going to give me a bloody knee to match yours.”

Harry buries his face in Zayn’s neck and Zayn can feel him grinning there, wider than before. Zayn squeezes him in his arms and lets him have a proper cuddle for as long as he wants - which turns out to be quite long, long enough that Zayn starts to feel the ache in his legs from what they’d just done - before they start to break away.

Zayn pecks him a few times on the lips then pats his bum. “In you go.”

Harry makes a gargled sound of protest but untangles his long, gangly limbs from Zayn’s anyhow and climbs into the tub, stepping away from the showerhead as Zayn turns it on. Zayn stays outside but holds his hand beneath the water, testing the temperature until it’s to his satisfaction.

He strips off his clothes to join Harry, feeling him watch every bare inch of Zayn’s skin as it’s revealed, seemingly hungry for the sight of it since he was the only one naked for so long. Zayn climbs into the tub and pulls Harry to him wordlessly. They wash each other clean beneath the hot spray in no rush, fingers lingering in the hollows of each other’s bodies, hands gliding over the familiar curves and juts of bone; they wind up losing themselves in a slow, deep kiss, tongues twisting together hotly in the mist until they’re light-headed with it.

Harry comes back to Zayn bit by bit, the haziness of his gaze settling into something more solid and sharp; his eyes return to a brilliant green from the darkness they’d blown into.

“Zayn,” Harry says; the word curls up at the end, sounding more like a question.

“Harry,” Zayn responds, running his fingers through his wet curls and kissing his chin.

“Do you love me?”

“The most out of anything,” Zayn assures him easily, and a dopey grin takes residence on Harry’s face even though he’d heard the same sentiment just moments ago. He tilts his head to kiss Zayn once more before he nuzzles into Zayn’s neck.

Zayn lets him, eyes falling shut. He still has a sharp image of Harry broken to bits next to the door earlier that day, but everything about him now feels more whole and complete. His angles are soft beneath the spray of the shower, and softer still when they sit around the kitchen island to share a cheese toastie in the comfort of their pajamas, and the softest right before he curls up in the curve of Zayn’s arm, his breathing evening out in the crook of Zayn’s neck. He murmurs a thank you against Zayn’s throat and it’s so low that Zayn barely catches it, can only feel it buzz against his skin before it fades to nothing, and then Harry’s falling asleep, skin shimmering where it splays against the black of Zayn’s sheets like his very own constellation.