Harry Styles was a perfectionist. He always had been. He had always been the one to plan the perfect birthday party ever since he was a child; the one to execute an outfit to a T, to find the perfect Christmas gift, so it came as no surprise that when all of his friends started getting married, they turned to him for help.
Which of course delighted Harry to no end. He was more than happy to search out venues, scour flower shops for that unattainable color of pink that he would make attainable so help him god, organize bachelor parties, supply tissues for when the tears were flowing…what can he say, he truly put the “best’ into best man. Not that he was always the best man, but he has been a number of times, so in his mind this was going to be his acclaimed title.
Tonight, however, he had made the unfortunate mistake of double booking himself for two weddings, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to be across town from one another. Which meant running in-between the two of them – not literally of course, he would never be sweating in someone’s wedding photos. He had struck a deal with a cabbie to drive him back and forth for the night, and he was currently struggling to change in the back of it because of course the suits he had to wear were completely different cuts and color schemes. Because that would have been too easy, right? He caught a snicker from the driver and frowned at him in the rearview mirror.
“Hey, eyes where I can see them,” He finished buttoning his shirt and quickly tucked it into his trousers, grabbed his jacket and clapped the driver on the shoulder. “Don’t move.”
He jogged into the venue just in time for the vows and stayed long enough for the obligatory photo shoot and champagne toast to the happy couple. He wasn’t that close with this particular friend, so he didn’t need to stay there for very long, which meant he was out and back in the cab in exactly twenty minutes. God, he was good at this. He said as much to the driver when he startled him out of the snooze he had been taking while waiting for Harry.
“Last run of the night; told you I’d only be twenty minutes,”
He missed the grunt and eye roll from the driver as he pulled away, and started changing into the better of the two suits - in his opinion, dove grey looked good on everyone and no one could argue with him on this point – and smiled at the thought of relaxing for a bit when he got there. His job was almost done for the night.
He wasn’t at all surprised to find Zayn smoking outside of the building, tie already askew, his face in a permanent pout as per usual. He shook his head at Harry, flicking his smoke on the ground to stomp it out.
“You’re a fucking nut you know, running around to all these weddings in one night,”
Harry shrugged, fixing the collar of Zayn’s shirt while he eyed up his disheveled appearance. “They were happy, and that’s all that matters. I’m here now, so let’s go have fun,”
Zayn’s grin turned wicked. “Yes, let’s. There were some really fit bridesmaids in there that would make a great parting gift.”
Harry waved at a few people when they walked back in; grabbing them a couple of glasses of champagne off a passing tray. He handed one to Zayn, a rueful smile on his lips, “I’ll pass, thanks. Besides, I’ve got dibs on one of these centerpieces. I had to get those flower imported, you know.”
Zayn gave him a long look before pushing past him to make his way to the dance floor, muttering under his breath, “Fucking nut.”
Louis wouldn’t say that he was a sentimental guy, and he definitely wasn’t romantic, so how he ended up working for the style section of the local paper writing about weddings was beyond him. The thing was; he was good at it, like unnaturally good, somehow able to capture the exact feeling of every different wedding he went to. What he really wanted to do was be an actual reporter, but his boss wouldn’t even remotely consider giving him up. So, here he was at yet another black tie wedding affair, waxing poetic about how in love the bride looked, how they picked the perfect venue, the perfect flower, everything perfect perfect perfect.
The one off thing that Louis had noticed was that one of the groomsmen kept running in and out of the venue every half hour or so, haphazardly pulling on his clothes as he ran through the front doors. Louis watched him curiously as he stumbled in one last time and decided to follow after him, because he needed to know what the hell this guy was doing.
Unfortunately, the next time he saw him, he was in the midst of being run over by a group of overzealous bridesmaids clamoring to catch the bouquet. Louis watched the scene unfold before him in slow motion, his mouth dropping open when a high heel whizzed through the crowd, knocking the curly haired groomsman flat on his back. Jesus Christ, the things women will do for the promise of a future husband.
Louis rushed over to the scene, pushing past the gaping group of women snapping his fingers at them.
“Look alive ladies, someone go grab some ice, will you. Just make sure it’s not that horrid centerpiece,”
He heard someone murmur 'that was rude, the centerpiece is a carving of the bride and groom’ and rolled his eyes, before leaning over to inspect the fallen soldier. His hair was fanned out behind him, a mess of wild curls, his very pink lips parted open, and thank god, he was breathing.. The last thing he needed was an obituary attached to his heartfelt wedding piece. He started to come to, his eyelashes fluttering against his pale porcelain skin. Oh dear, Louis just used the term porcelain while describing another man’s skin. He really needed to get out of the style section.
When the eyes finally met his, Louis sucked in a little breath. Don’t you dare go into what color of green you think they are Louis Tomlinson. Okay…it was moss. Louis closed his own eyes, internally cursing himself. He opened them again, finding that green pair giving him a dazed look.
Louis offered a hand, pulling him up into sitting position. “Rogue high heel,”
This only caused Curly to scrunch his face up, looking even more baffled. He lifted a hand to feel around his head, frowning at what Louis could only guess to be a bump. Louis was about to yell at someone regarding what the hold up with the ice was and if they were actually making it themselves, when a broody looking guy with a face that would make any model weep ran up to them, bag of ice dripping in his hands.
“Shit, Harry, are you okay? You really went down hard there; I mean, I know you don’t have the fastest reflexes of all time, you’re pretty shit at sports and all that, but it was just a shoe, surely…”
“Okay Zayn, I get it, thanks for the ice, cheers,” Harry grumbled through grit teeth.
Zayn squeezed him on the shoulder before straightening up again. “Right. Well, see you at work Monday, I have a bridesmaid to go and entertain,”
Harry glared at his disappearing figure, turning it on Louis a few moments later. “And who are you exactly?”
Louis stood up, leaning down to pick up his messenger bag, hauling it over his shoulder before offering out a hand to Harry again.
“I’m Louis. I’m going to help you get home,”
Harry eyed his hand suspiciously, squinting his eyes as he searched his face for some recognition. “I don’t know you.”
Louis simply shrugged, wiggling his fingers at him. Harry huffed indignantly but grabbed onto his hand, allowing himself to be helped up. He wobbled on his feet a little, his face flushing when Louis had to reach out and steady him. He gave him a weak smile, before he remembered something important.
“Oh, I need to grab my centerpiece!”
Louis decided not to ask.
Now here they were, one ridiculously massive, overbearing centerpiece in the middle of them in a cab, and Harry eyeing him up again.
“So, why are you helping me get home?”
Louis turned to look at him, pointing a finger. “Why were you running in and out of that wedding?”
Harry squirmed in his seat, looking pointedly out the window so he didn’t have to look at Louis. “Is that really any of your business?”
“What if I’m making it my business?”
Harry whipped his head back at him, finding Louis grinning madly. Harry sighed, giving in. “If you must know, I was at a wedding,”
A look of confusion crossed Louis’ face. “Wait…what? You were in two weddings in one night? Are you crazy?”
Harry crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the window to face him full on. “And why, exactly, is that crazy? They were both good friends, and I am a good friend that doesn’t miss people’s weddings.”
Louis shook his head. “Nobody likes weddings that much.”
Louis raised his eyebrows. “Then I’m sticking with my first thought. You must be crazy.”
Harry snorted. “Oh right, I must be completely mad for believing in love; in two people coming together on a day that’s just for them, a day they are always going to remember,”
Louis nodded, his face serious. “You’re right, it is a beautiful day to remember, especially when you’re signing your divorce papers two years later.”
They had pulled up to Harry’s building now and he angrily grabbed his things before handing over money to the cab driver. “How original, a cynic. There’s just not enough of you in the world. Goodbye.”
Louis tapped on the window, that unbearable cocky grin spread across his face again. “You should have a drink with me sometime.”
Harry shot him a withering look. “No thank you, I’m fully booked.” He started up the stairs, hearing Louis call out to him, “What, with more weddings?”
He flipped him off, and pushed into his apartment building with a heavy sigh. He rubbed at the bump on his head once more, grumbling under his breath how this would of course happen to him. He got inside his flat and placed his centerpiece in his front hallway. He fluffed out the flowers a bit and smiled, thinking it really did look fantastic. Bravo once again, Harry.
He shuffled to his bedroom and peeled off his clothes, carefully placing all of the items on hangers and easing them into his closet that was strictly used for all of his wedding attire. Yes, it was a massive waste of space, but no, Harry wouldn’t dream of parting with it. He liked to have the memories, plus he was always prepared to go to a formal event. He stroked a hand over the lapel of a suit and smiled softly, before pushing the door closed.
He wandered into the kitchen to grab a glass of water and settled into the corner of his couch, his feet tucked up under him. He grabbed at the stack of articles in front of him – all wedding announcements and wedding coverage done by his favorite writer, Henry Green – and brought them to his chest with a happy smile tweaking at his lips. This was his favorite part of the week, catching up on his reading. Maybe it was crazy, but he was allowed to love weddings if he wanted to god dammit, and no blue eyed, golden skinned arsehole named Louis was going to make him feel bad about it.
Louis laughed to himself. What a loon. He definitely wondered how he could see him again. He glanced at the seat beside him, noticing a brown, leather bound book on the seat that was practically bursting at the seams. He picked it up and flipped through it, raising his eyebrows higher and higher as each page flew by.
“What the actual fuck…he is crazy…”
Louis’ mind was racing a mile a minute. Okay now he really needed to see him again. And he also had an idea on how to do so.
Louis was actually looking forward to going to work for once, because he thinks that he finally had an idea that his boss would go for. Something that would finally get him out of the style section. He strode through the front door, buzzing on coffee and his brilliant idea, running into his buddy Niall that wrote for the sports section.
“Hey Niall, good weekend?”
Louis eyed him up from the side, noting he looked a little worse for wear. Or maybe he just always looked like that.
Niall scrubbed a hand over his face, stifling a yawn. “Had to cover a few footie matches, which of course turned into a few pints afterwards. Still feeling it to be honest. What about you, you get laid?”
Louis laughed, nodding to a few coworkers as Niall trailed after him on the way to his desk. “Niall, you ask me that every weekend, and every weekend the answer is no. I don’t know how much play you think a gay man can get at a wedding,”
Niall frowned down at his coffee cup. “That doesn’t seem fair; you’d think someone there would want a piece. I think you’re wasting your good looks in the style section.”
Louis gave him a pat on the arm, a fond smile on his face. “That is truly touching, I do appreciate the sentiment. Now go away, I have to go sweet talk Cal into letting me write an article about a psychotic groomsman.”
Niall cocked an eyebrow at him. “You sure you didn’t pull? This sounds like I need more information,”
Louis waved him away, noticing that Cal had just gotten off the phone. “I’ll tell you at lunch.”
Niall gave him thumbs up, and snatched an apple off someone’s desk as he wandered back to his own section. Louis still didn’t understand how no one ever gave Niall shit for constantly stealing food off their desks. Luck of the Irish was real and out there.
He braced his shoulders and blew out a nervous breath before knocking on Cal’s door, a huge, somewhat crazy grin on his face. Cal barely looked up from his paper to acknowledge his presence.
“Tomlinson, whatever it is, spit it out. Though I can only suspect the reason you’re hovering outside of my door and grinning like a manic is because you know that the answer is no.”
Louis strode inside, sliding into the chair in front of his desk. “But you should really hear me out,”
Cal shuffled up on his elbows, slowing easing back and crossing his arms. “Unless you’re asking if you can cover engagement parties as well, I don’t want to hear it.”
“What if I told you it was an expose on someone who’s been in nine weddings,”
Cal pointed at the door. “Style Section, can you read the words, Tomlinson? How many times do I have to remind you, you are not an investigative reporter,”
Louis pulled out the notebook he had in his bag, tapping at the pages. “No, Cal, you don’t understand. Nine weddings...this year,” Louis started flipping through the pages “Seriously, think of how many more he’s probably been in, he…”
Cal cut him off. “I’m sorry, did you say he?”
Louis nodded enthusiastically. “Right, exactly, a he. He’s a groomsman, or maybe a best man I don’t know…always a groomsman, never a groom…has bit of a different ring to it, doesn’t it,”
Cal tapped a pen on the desk, looking at Louis’ thoughtfully. “Fine, I want a rough draft for the spring piece we’re doing in a few weeks. And I don’t want to see your other articles slacking, do I make myself clear?”
Louis clapped his hands together, bouncing out of his chair. “Thank you so much Cal, you won’t regret it!”
“I already do, Tomlinson."
Harry waited outside of the building watching as Zayn came strolling up in a the same suit he had on for the wedding, cigarette hanging a the side of his mouth, black Ray Bans covering his eyes, yet somehow his hair was immaculately done.
Zayn stopped in front of him, taking one last drag of his cigarette before stubbing it out. “What?”
Harry looked down at his own outfit – crème colored jeans, a white t shirt and a black blazer – then looked over at Zayn, his hand waving up and down his body. “You can’t come into work looking like you were just rolled out of a strangers bed,"
Zayn reached over to pinch his cheek. “But I did.”
Harry smacked his hand away, adjusting his blazer out of habit. “You’re a slag.”
Zayn pulled open the door, pushing Harry in ahead of him, “No, I have fun. You should try it sometime,”
“Sorry I don’t want to sleep with everything that moves, Zayn.”
The reached their office and Harry gave their secretary Eleanor a wave; who immediately got up to come greet them. Zayn leaned in closer; voice pitched low, “Oh right, I forgot you were too busy making heart eyes at our boss,”
Harry hissed under his breath. “Shut up, Zayn…Eleanor!! All ready for the party tonight??” Harry announced, much, much too brightly. Eleanor must have thought so as well, because both she and Zayn gave him a strange look.
“Yeah, Harry, thanks again for organizing everything," she nodded towards his office door. "Liam asked me to leave those new ad pictures on your desk for you to look over. Oh, and some flowers came in for you. Also on your desk.” She shot him one last odd look before taking her place back behind her desk.
Harry walked over to his own…okay maybe he sped walked just a little and gasped when he saw the massive bouquet of peonies there. Zayn smacked his arm.
“Do you think…?”
Harry let out the breath he was holding. “Liam…oh my god, Zayn…what if these are from Liam,”
Okay, so Harry wasn’t going to say that he's in love with his boss...it’s just that he really, really is. Liam was the most amazing guy that Harry had ever had the pleasure to be around. He was kind, he cared about the environment, he was insanely fit, in all the ways a person can be insanely fit, he treated his staff like gold, he even had a loveable dog that he looked perfect with. Who came bounding into the office at that very moment.
Loki ran up to Harry waiting for his morning cuddles, which Harry happily bent down to give him. He was scratching behind his ears and talked to him in silly voices, while Zayn provided a soundtrack of mock vomiting behind him. Harry raised his eyes and was met with a beaming Liam.
“I swear he likes you more than me,”
Harry shot up, offering his hands out to take Liam’s coat. “Not possible. Did you have a good weekend?”
He shook his head at Harry, opening the door to his office. “I can take my own coat, Harry, honestly. And yes I did, I made really good time on my hike, it was wicked.”
Harry followed after him and stood in the doorway of his office. “Oh, that’s awesome! I know you really wanted to do it in under an hour this time,”
Liam looked up from his computer, a soft smile on his face. “I can’t believe you remember that, I didn’t think anyone listened to my boring hiking stories.”
“Oh, they’re not boring,” Harry could hear Zayn groaning somewhere behind him. Yes. He should probably wrap this up. He cleared his throat. “I have those ads on my desk that you requested; I’ll give them a look over before I bring them in. And I was going to order sushi for lunch, should I get you the regular?”
Liam looked at him in awe, stroking a hand over his hair with a laugh. Harry’s eyes followed the movement and he did not imagine what it would be like for him to touch it.
“You really do too much around here, Harry. I don’t know how you put up with me.”
Harry murmured, "oh it’s nothing" before letting himself out of the office. He walked back to his own and shut the door, leaning back against it, squeezing his eyes shut. He felt the hard smack of a hand against his cheek, nodding his head slowly as he opened his eyes to meet Zayn’s.
“Yes, good, thanks. I needed that.”
Zayn squeezed his shoulders reassuringly, reaching around him to open the door. “Just try to reel it in, Styles. I’ll see you tonight?”
“Yes, I have to pick my sister up at the airport, but I won’t be late.”
Zayn released a heavy sigh. “I almost want to slap you again you know? Your sister could probably take a cab, and Eleanor probably could have organized her own engagement party. But no, you just have to take care of everyone,”
Harry shoved him out the door. “She’s my sister, and I like helping people. And please shower before you come out later,”
“Only if you promise to get laid!” Zayn shouted as he strolled over to his desk.
Harry quickly shut his door again, rolling away from the window. He really hoped Liam didn’t hear that.
Harry bounced up and down on his heels, searching through the sea of faces at the baggage claim for one familiar to his own. He finally saw the long blonde hair and matching set of dimples, and held his arms wide open.
His sister raced up, throwing herself around him, laughing into his neck. “Look at you handsome, I hardly recognize you!”
Harry tugged on her hair, earning him a playful tug back. “Maybe if you didn’t stay away for so long you would know what your family members look like,”
“Hmm, here or Italy, the choices, the choices.”
Harry rolled his eyes, glancing behind her. “Gem, where are your bags?”
She placed a finger on her lips hiding a tiny smile, turning to wave at a man standing with a mountain of Louis Vuitton around him. “Marco over there was kind enough to help me; he’ll bring them to the car.”
Harry followed behind them with this hands shoved into his pockets as his sister flirted with yet another tall dark and handsome stranger. Some things never changed.
Harry let them into his flat, dragging in Gemma’s obscene amount of baggage alongside them. “How long did you say you were staying for again?”
Gemma wandered around the flat giving it a once over, picking up a picture of their mum in her wedding dress.
“Not sure, a few weeks maybe?” She stroked over the dress, a ghost of a smile on her lips. “God, mum was gorgeous. Still is of course. Shame about this dress though,”
Harry peered over her shoulder, taking the frame out of her hands. “She looks lovely, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Yes, you always did have a thing for weddings.” She picked up a pile of clippings from his coffee table, cocking an eyebrow at him. “Harry…are you saving wedding announcements from the paper?”
Harry raced over and grabbed the clippings – carefully he may add – his sister’s eyes wide with shock. He shoved them into a notebook sitting next to the couch, giving her a sheepish smile. “I just like this one particular writer is all, so I try to catch up when I get a minute. It’s not a big deal,” Harry decided he needed to distract her from more questions, because she looked way too curious now. “Drink?”
She nodded, flopping down into a chair at the kitchen table. “Vodka…”
“Redbull, and strawberry Pop Tarts. I didn’t forget to stock our favorite things Gem, who do you think I am?”
She grinned at him, leaning her cheeks on her palms. “You’re the best, baby bro. So, what’s on the agenda for tonight?”
Harry mixed their drinks, placing one down in front of her, hoping she didn’t notice that he opted out on the vodka. It was early yet, and he wanted to be alert for the beginning of the party.
“I have a work thing. Well, an engagement party for someone at work if you want to stop by,”
She sipped her drink with a satisfied hum. “I did tell Marco I would meet him for dinner, but I’ll try to stop by later?”
Harry nodded, smiling back distractedly, thinking ‘who’s Marco?’ and trying to go over the list in his head to see if he had any last minute details to take care of for the party. Which then veered off into thoughts about what Liam might wear to the party…
Harry finally sipped on a much needed drink, happy that everything went off without a hitch. Eleanor was elated, and a little bit – okay a lot - drunk, but so was much of the rest of the office, which was going to make for an interesting morning. Harry’s eyes lit up when Liam walked in, his hands blindly adjusting the neck of his t shirt.
Zayn wandered over, nursing a beer and followed Harry’s line of vision, letting out a gargled noise. He didn’t get a chance to give Harry shit though, because Liam was already making his way over to them.
“Sorry I’m so late, did anyone notice?”
Harry shook his head, taking in Liam’s skinny jeans and fitted flannel shirt, and he thinks he may have died a little inside at that moment. He could almost feel Zayn’s eye roll in his own head. Pathetic.
“Of course not, we’re just glad you could make it at all! Oh, and I picked up a gift from you as well; you got them champagne glasses and a bottle of Cristal.”
Liam hugged an arm around him, pointing a finger at Harry while looking at Zayn. “Can you believe him? Best assistant ever. I better go offer my congrats, can I grab you a drink?”
Harry was surprised he could even get any words out in his dazed stupor. Liam touched him. His arm. It touched him. Liam’s arm.
“Nope, no I’m fine, we’re good here.”
Zayn waited a beat for Liam to walk away before punching him in the shoulder. “Harry, what the fuck are you doing? If the person you’re lusting over with offers to buy you a drink, you take it, this isn’t fucking rocket science,”
Harry pouted, rubbing his shoulder. “But I have one.”
Zayn ripped the drink out of his hand, throwing it back himself before knocking it down on the counter.
“Now you don’t. Harry, please for the love of god get some balls and do something for yourself. Have a drink. Tell him how you feel. Have wild and crazy sex that you can then tell me every detail about. Then plan your own perfect, environmentally friendly wedding. But stop doing nothing,”
Harry drew his eyes over Zayn’s profile just to distract himself from everything in his mind that was telling him not to do this.
Zayn shook his fists in the air doing a little cheer. “Yay, finally. Now fucking go over there before you change your mind,”
Harry took a deep breath. Okay, he took many deep breaths .He started to walk and didn’t think about the way his heart was pounding in his chest, or the fact that his sister just walked into the bar, looking like a goddess as per usual. And he wasn’t the only one that noticed. Harry stopped short…no…no what was this, what was happening here. Why were Liam and Gemma staring at each other like that. Why is she giving him her man eater smile. Why, why, why.
Harry thinks he was probably having a panic attack. Or a heart attack. Or an aneurysm. Or all three. When his vision finally cleared his sister was repeatedly saying his name.
“Harry…Harry…H…are you alright? You look like you’re going to be sick,”
He felt a hand on his back, and tilted his head to see Liam also staring at him with a worried look.
Harry shook it off, offering his best fake, toothy smile. “I’m great! So, so great. Don’t be silly. Oh and Gemma! This is my Liam…wait! My boss Liam, I mean. That’s what I meant,”
Harry wanted the floor to open up and swallow his entire existence.
Liam held out a hand, covering the top of Gemma’s with the other when he shook it. “I’ve heard so much about you Gemma, it’s really nice to meet you. I must say, your pictures don’t do you justice,”
Gemma giggled and Harry whined inwardly - no that’s supposed to be me giggling at Liam, not you!!
“Flattery will get you everywhere, Liam,”
Harry focused on staring at their hands that were still connected, hoping to somehow pry them apart with this mind. Liam tipped his heads towards the bar.
“Will it get you to have a drink with me? Harry, do you want to join us?”
Harry felt his own choked giggled bubble up between his lips. “Yes, just give me a minute, I’ll meet you there.”
They turned away, all subtle touches and smiles – already - and what exactly just happened here? Harry scratched his head, needing something to do with his hands, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
He turned around and came face to face with someone whose face he didn’t expect to see ever again.
“What are you doing here?”
Louis poked him in the shoulder. Harry frowned down at the accusing finger. “That’s not very friendly of you. I feel like you should have missed me,”
Harry’s frown deepened, some due to Louis, most of it due to the lack of space between his sister and Liam at the bar.
“Well, I didn’t.”
Louis apparently, was not even a tiny bit fazed. “Did you like the flowers? I figured you were a peony lover, you know because all the crazy wedding shit. Even I know that's the most popular wedding flower,"
Harry’s eyes were wide and horrified when the weight of Louis’ words sank in. “Wait…it was you…you sent the flowers…you…Louis...”
Louis opened his mouth to answer, but Harry was already striding away, tugging the exit door open at the back of the club and slamming it shut behind him. His head pounded as he let out a raging scream.
“FUCKING FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!”
His chest heaved up and down as he flipped his hair out of his eyes and swallowed hard. Oh…well fucking fuck indeed. Harry had just interrupted a 60th wedding anniversary party with his epic meltdown.
“So, so sorry, wow. 60 years though, amazing. Have a great night.”
He quietly eased back through the door and smiled serenely at Louis when he got back.
“You were saying?”
Louis looked at him like he was utterly insane. That was pretty accurate at this moment.
“Are you drunk?”
Harry laughed hysterically, dragging a hand through his hair. “Oh, I really wish I was. I should actually go home. Thanks for the flowers though. I think. Yeah…okay then.”
He swiveled to leave, but Louis grabbed onto his arm, turning him back around.
“Wait! I have your appointment book, that’s actually why I’m here,”
Harry grabbed it, clutching it to his chest. “Oh my god I didn’t even realize it was missing…hold on a minute, did you read this?”
Louis took a sip of his beer, shrugging it off. “How else would I know how to find you? It was either this or your waxing appointment on Thursday. Did you want to talk about that for a minute, because I sure do,”
Harry’s face flushed pink. Louis licked his lips. Okay this teasing was getting fun. It’s not like he didn’t notice that Harry was insanely attractive.
“I don’t think I need to discuss my personal grooming habits with someone who stalks people and reads through their personal things.”
Louis figures he’s planted the seed now. Harry will contact him again. He’s pretty confident. He started backing away, giving him a wink.
“Alright then, call me when you want to, Harry. I’ll be seeing you.”
Harry threw his arms up in the air. Who was this person? What was this night? Zayn came stumbling over, nudging Harry in the shoulder.
“Who was that, and why aren’t you sleeping with him yet?”
Harry sighed, biting on his thumb nail while he looked around for his sister. “Didn’t you just tell me to sleep with Liam?”
“I think your sister may have that covered,” Zayn pointed at the bar, where Liam was slipping her into a coat.
She waved over at them, grabbing Liam’s hand to pull him along behind her. “We’re gonna go dancing, you guys want to go dancing?”
She eyed Harry up with a look that clearly said ‘you better not say yes to dancing’. Harry looked at Zayn, who closed his eyes with a little shake of the head and gave in.
“No, you guys go have fun. I was going to head home anyways.”
Liam reached out and rubbed his arm, and Harry tried his best not to lean into it. He did.
“See you at work tomorrow, and don’t worry I’ll get your sister home safe.”
Harry smiled on the outside, but laugh cried inside his mind.
Harry drummed his fingers on his stomach, turning over to check his clock for the millionth time that night. Two am. Why were they still out, god it was a work night even. That’s pretty irresponsible. Harry could only blame his sister, because Liam was like the gold standard of responsible things.
Harry gave up, throwing the covers off and eased out of bed. He needed to keep his mind occupied, so he did a few yoga moves, trying to focus on his breathing and not what kind of dancing his sister and Liam did tonight. Where did Liam put his hands, surely not low on her hips? What would Liam’s hands feel like on his hips? Okay, yoga is not helping.
He grabbed his cleaning supplies and started to give his kitchen the scrub down of a lifetime, which may have been his way of trying to mentally scrub his mind as well. He finally heard a key in the door and tried to remain calm, like he always scrubbed his stove squeaky clean in the early morning hours.
“H, what are you still doing up?”
Harry can do this, he can play it cool. “Oh, I couldn’t sleep, just too wired I guess, so much energy you know!”
Ugh, okay that did not sound cool at all. He heard Gemma sigh dreamily behind him. He bit the inside of his cheek before turning around. She was sitting on the couch, tilting her head up to look at Harry.
“Liam. Is. Amazing.”
Harry pretended to be really interested in the cleaning product he still held in his hand. “Right, I forgot you were with him,”
Gemma ignored his ignorance, patting the couch beside her. “Come here and tell me everything I need to know about him,”
Harry hesitated, but really he couldn’t stop himself. Liam was one of his favorite topics after all. He sat down and stared ahead out the window. “He’s really charitable, he donates money to different causes all the time, he’s so caring. And he’s a vegetarian, and he’ll do a pretty good job at selling you on why you should be as well. He loves his dog, like loves him to death, and he’s so generous to everyone on the staff, and sometimes his smile is just so infectious…”
Harry coughed, looking at his sister out of the corner of his eye, her eyebrows raised in surprise. Harry shrugged, playing with an invisible thread on his pajama bottoms.
“But, I mean, he’s not that great, like he hates almonds, which is super weird if you’re a vegetarian I think, and he’s really into comic books, so nerdy right, and…”
He felt a hand on his wrist, and looked up to meet Gemma’s amused eyes. “Harry, those are not deal breakers. He sounds perfect. He is pretty perfect actually…and maybe he’s a great kisser too, I just don’t know,”
Her smile turned innocent as she bopped a shoulder up at him, before wandering into the bathroom to wash her face.
“Ooh, very nice, that’s important the whole good kissing thing, yep.”
And if Harry laid awake for the rest of the night poking at his eyes to try and gauge that image out, well nobody had to know.
The weekend brought breakfast at their mum’s house, where it was her turn to fawn over Gemma. And it’s not that Harry didn’t love his sister, he did very much, but why was this week turning into everything short of a parade for all things Gemma?
He smiled when he needed to though, and shoveled the teddy bear shaped pancakes into his mouth that his mother insisted on making - which Harry secretly loved okay, he was a sucker for cute things – when he heard Gemma outrageously flirting on the phone with Liam in the next room.
His mum smoothed a hand on his back when he choked on a piece, giving him a concerned look.
“Slow down honey, you’re going to choke if you’re not careful.”
He mumbled a ‘sorry mum’ around a mouthful of pancakes, trying to strain and listen in on where Gemma and Liam’s next extravagant date was going to be.
And it only got worse from then on because Gemma wasn’t working at the moment, which meant she had way too much free time. She started hanging around at their work much to Harry’s displeasure. He was currently craning his head to see what they were doing in his office, when his phone started ringing. He grabbed it, almost falling out of his chair when he saw Gemma perch herself on Liam’s lap.
“I feel like we should work on your manners, Harry Styles,”
Harry furrowed his brows, leaning over to looking at the number. “Who is this?”
He heard the laugh on the other end of the phone and it immediately clicked…Louis. What has he done wrong in life?
“I’m offended you haven’t called me yet. I’m still waiting for that drink,”
Harry chewed on the tip of a pen, switching it out when he realized it was not the lid. He wasn’t having a good week. Actually make that plural. Weeks plural.
“Number one, there will be no drink. Number two, I don’t even have your number to say no to this drink.”
Louis tsk’d him. “Someone hasn’t looked at their appointment book this week,”
Harry quickly grabbed it off his desk, flipping it open to that days date. There in black felt marker was Louis Tomlinson’s number. He flipped a few more pages. There it was again. He kept flipping, his anger flaring up.
“You wrote your number on every Saturday!”
“I know. Did you put it in your phone yet?”
Harry threw the pen across the room, his head falling into his palm in frustration. “Can’t you do this to someone else?”
“Nope. What’s the wine of the month club?”
Harry groaned; popping an eye open to see what was happening in Liam’s office. Still sitting in his lap. Jesus Christ Gemma, this isn’t a club.
“You really did read through the entire book, didn’t you,”
“I did. Truly fascinating, border lining on creepy. Anyways, call me when you have a free moment between organizing everyone in the city's weddings.”
He hung up before Harry could get a retort in. Whatever. He should have been worried about having a person he didn’t know harass him on a regular basis, but right now he had a potential lap dance to break up.
He grabbed some paperwork that Liam probably needed (probably) and knocked on the door.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I need you to look these over sometime today?”
Liam pushed Gemma to her feet, kissing the back of her head and making Harry test his gag reflex. It was pretty strong. For now.
“I was going to take Gem over to park and play some footie with the kids from the school down the road; you know that ones that I volunteer to teach them sometimes?”
Of course Harry remembered. That was one of the more painful days in his existence, having to see Liam surrounded by children AND teaching them how to play football.
Harry massaged the back of his head, nodding, “Yeah right, cool that will be fun. Nice day out.”
Gemma batted her lashes at Liam, grabbing his hand to squeeze it. “After we're done I’m going to take him to that new vegetarian place that opened up down the road from the flat, it’s supposed to be to die for.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at her. “Interesting. I thought you were more into steak,”
She laughed him off easily. “H, don’t be silly, I haven’t touched beef in years.”
Or since last week, Harry screamed with his inside voice. Liam, of course, wasn’t fazed one bit.
“You never told me your sister was into hiking either, Harry, I can’t wait to take her out. Maybe we’ll even camp out there, take the dog too.”
Harry moved his head from side to side, taking in their faces, Liam’s with an idiotic look of adoration, and Gemma’s with panic spread throughout it.
Harry smirked. “Oh yeah, Gem is real outdoorsy. She does love a good patio.”
Gemma smiled at him sweetly, subtly giving him a middle finger behind her purse, while Liam remained dumbly oblivious. Did Harry mention that his life wasn’t fair?
The painful evolution of Gemma and Liam only continued to get worse as the weeks flew by. Between the almost daily flower deliveries, the walking in on them in compromising positions, the pictures of her showing up on Liam’s desk…yes having a living, breathing reminder living with him dating the one thing he couldn’t have was the purest form of torture.
Harry was running late at work one night due to a last minute paperwork backlog, when he noticed that Liam had left his wallet on his desk. He checked his calendar to see if he had anything written down on where he was supposed to be that night, and Harry figured he had time to drop it off for him. Because he was a great employee and cared about his boss having his wallet. Harry cared about him being able to pay for things. Harry just cared. Too much in fact.
He ran into the restaurant and stopped short when a sign was dropped by a mariachi band, with bolded white words against a red velvet backdrop, screaming ‘Marry Me’ at him.
He looked around frantically, finally spotting Liam who was motioning for the band to stop playing. Harry was about to ask what was going on, when his sister came waltzing through the door, a similar look of shock on her face. She looked between Harry and Liam, her expression puzzled.
“H, what are you doing here, what’s going on?”
Harry slowly started backing away, letting Liam take over. He started to panic…how did this happen?? He watched in a blur as Liam got down on one knee and professed his love to his sister, and fuck he should be happy, he loved weddings, but all he felt were the tears behind his eyes, and the pain of a sob clawing at his throat to get out.
But the pain felt even more unbearable the next day when he watched his mum hand over her wedding dress to Gemma, knowing that he would have nothing significant from her on his day. His mum stroked a hand through his hair, hugging him close, saying how much she loved her babies and Harry grasped onto her fingers like a lifeline, and did the proper brotherly thing and gave Gemma his blessing.
After a very long week of urging himself to be happy for his sister, he decided he needed a drink. And someone to talk to, someone who wasn’t Zayn for once. Not that he didn’t love Zayn and all of his pearls of wisdom, but maybe he needed an outsider’s voice for once. Which was how he found himself meeting Louis for a drink after work on a Friday night.
Louis was already there when he walked into the bar they had decided on, a pint already settled in front of him. His smile was big and bright when he saw Harry approach, and maybe that already made him feel a little bit better. He slid onto the stool next to him, hanging his coat on the hook underneath the bar.
“Thanks for meeting me, it’s been…well, a rough week to say the least,”
Louis brought a hand to his chest. “I am honored that you finally felt the urge to call. So what happened, wedding emergency?”
Harry flagged down the bartender, ordering a vodka water, because he needed pure alcohol. The water was simply in it so that Louis didn’t think he was a complete alcoholic.
“My sister is getting married.”
Louis looked thoughtful, absently flicking his tongue out to catch a stray drop of beer from his lip.
“Okay…and she doesn’t want you to be in the wedding or something?”
Harry took a sip of his drink, grimacing from the burn of the alcohol. “No, of course not…it’s just, she’ll want me to do everything for her, she's terribly unorganized. Plus she can be a bit demanding and, just yeah…I’ll be doing everything,”
Louis tipped his beer at him. “I thought you lived for the whole doing everything stuff, but aside from that, why don’t you just say no?”
Harry looked at him incredulously. “She’s my sister…I can’t say no to her.”
Louis put down his beer, turning to face Harry head on. “Harry…have you ever said no to someone?”
Harry opted to take another sip of his drink, laughing him off. “Of course I have, don’t be ridiculous,”
Louis poked him in the ribs, causing him to stifle a giggle. Louis raised an eyebrow. “Ticklish are we? Good to know...what if I just…”
Louis tickled a few more fingers against him, making Harry squirm out of reach, finally wheezing out the giggle he was holding in. “Oh god, please…no…stop…Louis, no,”
“Ha, so you can say no.”
Harry hung his head in shame, hiding the smile that had formed on his lips. He felt some movement beside him, and looked over to see Louis leaning in closer, his eyes shining the brightest blue in the dimly lit pub, smelling faintly of the hoppy beer he was drinking and some sort of woodsy designer cologne. He placed a hand on Harry’s thigh, rubbing his thumb into the material of his faded black jeans. Harry’s swallowed hard, looking back up at Louis’ eyes.
“Harry…can I have a sip of your drink?”
Harry nodded slowly, watching Louis’ lips curl around the glass, his tongue peeking out, his eyes never leaving Harry’s. He placed it back on its coaster, leaning over once more to whisper in Harry’s ear. He shivered involuntarily.
“You were supposed to say no.”
Monday…Harry’s least favorite day of the week, and he was already stressed out from listening to his sister complain about the lack of bridesmaid potential in their family. He may have been annoyed, but he was still typing everything she was telling him into a spreadsheet, because organization was key. However, he started to pay full attention again when Zayn’s name was brought up. He swiveled around in his chair to face his sister.
“Wait, what was that about Zayn?”
She glanced up briefly from the bridal magazine she had perched on her lap. “Oh, I need you to ask him if he’ll be in the wedding,”
Harry hesitated a moment, trying not to laugh at the absurdity. “Gem…why would you want Zayn to be in your wedding?”
She gave him an odd look, before returning her attention back to the magazine. “Liam doesn’t have a lot of friends, and he will look amazing in the pictures, his profile is to die for…oh Harry, look!”
She turned the magazine towards him, pointing at a picture of a hotel. His heart rate picked up as he played nervously with his hair.
“I’ve seen the Ritz before, what about it?”
She smacked Harry in the forehead lightly. “That’s the place I picked for the wedding dummy, I’ve only heard you rave about it a million times,”
Harry felt his stomach drop. “How...how did you afford that? It’s not exactly within most people’s budgets, and you know, with you not working…”
She leaned over, a finger on her lips indicating for him to keep quiet. “I may have held the room with Liam’s card, but please don’t tell him.”
Harry blinked a few times, staring at her in disbelief. “Gemma that is insane, I can’t keep something like this from him, and what were you thinking anyways!”
She clamped a hand on his mouth to shush him, looking out the door of the office to see if anyone could hear them.
“They had a last minute cancellation, I had to okay? I promise I will tell him as soon as possible. Which will actually be pretty quick, because I had to move up the wedding date. ..to like…a couple months from now. So, can you ask Zayn about the wedding, because we’re going to need to do fittings, oh and we should really go and find out about the cake from that place you recommended, and I’m probably going to need to do the bouquets pretty soon as well…”
The pounding of Harry’s heart in his ears started to drown her out again. He peered down at the magazine, closing it with a shaky hand. Now not only had his sister stolen his perfect man, she had also taken away his dream wedding spot.
“Sometimes your sister is a total bitch you know?”
Well, at least Zayn was a supportive friend. For now. He hadn’t dropped the groomsman bomb on him yet. He waited until Zayn uncurled from downward facing dog and moved onto child’s pose, making it easier for him to speak in a low voice. Harry figured telling Zayn at yoga was the best option, seeing as he would be in a somewhat calm state of mind. Harry shuffled closer, hoping their instructor wouldn’t give them shit for talking. Again.
“Gem has always been a handful to say the least…and she wants you to be in the wedding,”
Zayn immediately sat up on his knees, forgetting about the volume of his voice. “Why the fuck would I want to be in her wedding, she’s practically ruined your whole life!”
The entire class was staring at them now, the instructor looking at them thin lipped and pointing at the door.
“Sir, please quit disrupting my class,”
Zayn turned his scowl towards the front, pulling up to his feet and placed a cigarette between his lips before clasping his palms together and bowing.
Harry scrambled up to follow after him, mumbling an apology to the teacher. He found him outside leaning against the side of the building, and well, he really was beautiful, wasn’t he. Harry couldn’t blame people for wanting him in their wedding pictures.
Harry leaned on the wall beside him, arms pulled behind his back. “You do realize that I have to come back here right?”
Zayn laughed, flicking an ash out in front of them. “Whatever, these health nuts need a little riling up every once in a while. I bet the most excitement they get is switching out their soy milk for regular non-fat or some shit. Not sure how you do it,” he glanced at him out of the side of his eye. “Don’t know how you do most things actually. You’re too good for your own good."
Harry bumped their shoulders together. “Does that mean you’ll say yes to the wedding?”
Zayn reached over to ruffle his hair. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll do it. These Styles genes better run in the family though, I expect there to be a hot cousin I can bag.”
Harry wrinkled his nose in distaste, but felt a long sigh of relief leave him.
Later on the week Harry found himself arguing over prices of buttercream frosting, and how many tiers of cake were too many, his sister once again hanging back and not being helpful, claiming she was waiting for someone to show up and interview them.
Harry haggled with the baker down to a price that he deemed acceptable for the amount of times that he recommended him, turning around to tell his sister the good news. She was laughing with someone in the doorway and petting Liam’s back and arms – gross – and when she moved out of the frame, Harry was met with a pair of mischievous blue eyes.
They all turned to face Harry, Gemma waving him over excitedly. “Harry, come meet Henry!”
Harry looked at each of their faces, Liam being the only one who seemed more perplexed than him. He only looked at Louis now though.
“I thought you said your name was Louis,” he said accusingly.
Gemma pointed a finger between the two of them. “Wait, you two know each other?”
Louis nodded cheerfully. “We both work the wedding scene. Plus there was that date a few weeks ago,”
Harry sent him a sour look. “It wasn’t a date, Louis,”
Liam scratched his chin, pulling Gemma in closer. “No really, I thought you said his name was Henry?”
Louis pulled a business card out of his bag, handing it over to Liam. “It’s just the name I use for writing; I promise this is all legit. But yes, my real name is Louis,”
Gemma handed the card over to Harry after Liam looked it over. “See Harry, it’s that writer you’re always raving about; you know all those clippings you keep?”
Harry felt all the blood drain from his face. He could feel all eyes on him, the heat of Louis’ boring into his skin.
“Rave about me, really? Now this is a development,”
Harry was shaking his head and backing away from them. “I-I…have to go.”
He could hear his sister and Liam calling out after him but lost them when he hit the warm spring air and sprinted all the way home.
Harry heard the soft knocking at his front door and chose to ignore it, looking at the fading sunlight being cast over the city instead. He had already been avoiding his sisters calls since he ran out of the bakery after he listened to one of the messages, which mostly her screeching about how embarrassed she was and why was Harry trying to sabotage her article.
The knocking started up again and was accompanied with a voice that was very much not his sister.
“Harry…I know you’re in there, and I know you’re pissed, but I still need to finish the article, and I can’t do that without your quotes,”
He had him there didn’t he? God forbid he actually ruin the bloody article. He stalked over to the door and yanked it open, his lips still in the same frown that he left the bakery with. He waved an arm into his flat.
“If it isn’t Louis the liar, come on in,”
Harry eyed him up once he shut the door, and he had to give him points. He did look a little upset. He crossed his arms, mimicking Harry’s stance.
“I didn’t lie, you've never actually asked me what I did for a living,”
Harry’s shoulders slumped in defeat…oh. Fair enough then. “Alright, fine, I guess I’m in the wrong here as well. Look, I’m tired, let’s get on with it and call it a day.”
Louis hummed in agreement, noticing the open closet door in his living room. He walked over and peered inside, reaching out to move a hanger aside.
“Did you know you have an entire closet full of formal wear…” He leaned in for a closer look, pulling out a hanger to aim at Harry. “These are leather chaps,”
Harry strode over and tugged them from his hands, holding them protectively away from him.
“Yes, as a matter of fact they are.”
Louis looked at him seriously. “Harry, you’re not a Go-Go dancer on the side are you,”
He rolled his eyes. “No, I’m not a dancer; I just like to keep all of my wedding outfits alright?”
Louis’ gaped at him. “How many weddings have you been in exactly?”
“Like…27,” he said quietly, all while avoiding contact with Louis.
“That is truly mental, and I demand a fashion show at once…starting with those chaps,”
Harry tilted his chin up, pointing his nose haughtily in the air as he headed towards his room to change.
“I’ll have you know I look amazing in most of these outfits.”
Louis riffled through is bag to get his camera out, mumbling an ‘I don’t doubt that’ under his breath.
The crazy thing was Louis could see exactly why people would want to have Harry as a part of their wedding. With every ridiculous outfit he put on – kimono’s, western gear, Miami Vice theme, the leather chaps, which might have had Louis feeling a little hot under the collar – you couldn’t deny the happiness on Harry’s face. Louis thinks he might be one of the most sincere and honest people he has ever met in his life.
He came out in the final outfit, a forest green tuxedo jacket with black lapels, worn with very fitted, skinny black dress pants, and Louis was happy he could hide his face behind his camera at that moment. He didn’t want to sound like his wedding article alter ego, but Harry looked fucking breathtaking.
Harry sat down next to him on the couch, smoothing down the front of his jacket and messing about with his hair, and Louis didn’t necessarily need the picture of his profile, but fuck it, he took it anyways. Harry heard the camera go off and turned his head to look at him, giving him a cheeky smile.
“Heyyyy, I wasn’t even looking,”
Louis held his eyes for a beat too long, nodding at his jacket. “I like this one the best. You look really fit… I mean, really nice in green. Really nice.”
He cleared his throat and busied himself with going through the photos on his camera, so he didn’t have to see how Harry was looking at him.
“Can I ask why you dislike weddings so much? I mean, you write so beautifully and that has to come from somewhere, you can’t absolutely hate them right?”
Louis eased off the couch, grabbing his bag, and offered Harry a sad smile. “I guess it’s because I was supposed to have one myself once. My fiancé decided he fancied another guy more than me about a week before the wedding, so,”
Harry stood up quickly, reaching out a hand to touch Louis, but dropped it by his side instead.
“Shit, Louis, I’m so sorry I asked. I should’ve just left it…I’m so sorry, really,”
Louis reached out himself now to give Harry a reassuring squeeze. “No worries, it's old news. Thanks for the pictures by the way. I’ll probably need a few more quotes from your sister if you can let her know?”
Harry held the door open for him, his lips quirking up at the sides. “Sure, of course. See you, Louis.”
Louis waved, letting the door shut behind him, leaning his forehead against it once it was closed. He was fucked.
He dawdled nervously outside of Cal’s office the next day, when he finally got called in. Louis sat down in the chair, forcing himself to look him in the eyes. When Cal wanted to see you in his office, the news was never good.
“Where are we at on the groomsman article?”
Shit. Louis combed a hand through his hair, puffing out a breath. “I don’t know if that should really be a thing anymore, I don’t know what I was thinking, it was shit really…”
Cal cut him off with a hand. “Too bad, the head honchos ate the story up. I want something on my desk by the end of this day, it runs on Sunday. Are we clear?”
Louis hopped out of his chair, nodding that he understood. “Loud and clear, gotcha.”
Louis was slumped over his desk a few hours later, cursing the day he decided to get involved in Harry Styles life.
“Who’s Harry Styles?”
Louis peered up through his fringe, frowning at Niall who was sat on the end of his desk, shoveling a chocolate bar into his mouth.
“Is that mine?”
Niall nodded, wiping his hands on his jeans. “Yup. So, Harry Styles?”
“Remember that guy I had to write about for the front page story of our section’s spring issue?”
Niall shrugged noncommittally. No, of course he didn’t remember. No surprise there Louis thought. He forged on.
“Anyways, I’ve hung out with him a few times now, and he is lovely and funny and really, really fit, and charming, and fuck. I think I like him.”
Niall snorted, fiddling with his stapler. “Honestly couldn’t tell from all that,”
Louis smacked his hand. “Shut up. What do I do? I can’t write this article,”
“You don’t really have a choice on the article if you want to keep your job. Find out how he feels first. Go from there.”
Louis sighed like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, but gave him a tired smile.
Louis felt a bit better after that, but it still didn’t stop his hand from trembling when he pressed send on the draft he sent to Cal that evening.
He scrolled through his emails quickly, looking for anything of importance when his eye caught one from Gemma Styles. She wanted to meet up with him tomorrow at the Ritz to finish the rest of the article. Which obviously meant Harry would be there as well.
Harry checked his watch, wondering what the hell was taking Gemma so long. It’s not like she had an actual job to come from. He was just about to send her another text, when Liam slid into the seat across from him. He looked a little frazzled, and Harry remembered he had raced from a meeting to be here on time. Unlike his sister.
“Hey, it’s a good thing you made it, your sister just called and said she had a last minute appointment she couldn’t break.”
Harry resisted the urge to scream ‘what kind of appointment couldn’t she break, is spray tanning really that important?’
“Oh, that important sister of mine, always on the go. At least you’re here right? One half of the bridal party should enjoy the food at least,”
Liam examined all of the different cutlery around them, a frightened look on his face.
“I’m afraid this is going to be rather embarrassing for you, Harry.”
Harry looked at him fondly, and finally came to the realization that they were doing this alone. Together. Wedding dinner taste testing. Together. Suddenly he was having trouble breathing. So he reached over and squeezed Liam’s hand, pulling it away suddenly when he saw the waiter approaching. He offered a smile to replace the hand.
“Trust me…you’ll be perfect.”
Louis was escorted out onto the patio where the Styles party was having their tasting and paused in the doorway to watch Harry. He doesn’t think he’d seen this look on his face before, he was positively radiant. His skin was glowing, he was talking animatedly with his hands, his dimple was the size of a crater and the longer Louis stood there, the more clear it became to him…Harry was in love with Liam.
They were just finishing up when they finally noticed Louis standing there. They pushed away from the table, Harry staying behind a moment to go over something with the waiter, while Liam came over to greet him.
“Hey Louis, I didn’t know you were coming today?”
Okay, Louis certainly wasn’t surprised that Liam didn’t realize Harry was in love with him. He seemed pretty oblivious to most things going on around him.
"Gemma had sent me an email last night saying she wanted to meet here to finish up. So, here I am.”
Liam groaned, pulling out his phone. “Shoot, she didn’t end up coming today, I’m so sorry to waste your time. Let me call her and find out a new time for you,”
Liam went around the corner leaving him alone with Harry now, and Louis didn’t know why, but he was suddenly irrationally angry. Might have been the whole Harry being in love with someone who wasn’t him he suspected.
Or it could have been the way Harry looked confused to see him there. He could look a little bit excited, couldn't he?
“How come you’re here?”
“Just trying to finish my job, I didn’t realize I would be interrupting a date…” And now Liam just had to interrupt them.
“Harry, please don’t be mad, but I have a huge favor to ask you,” Liam pleaded with puppy dog eyes.
Louis rolled his eyes, looking away. Right, like Harry would ever be mad at you. Idiot. Harry, also an idiot, just waited patiently for his instructions because, he’s an idiot.
“Gemma and your mum are together having a girls night, and your mum thinks she might have left the bungalow unlocked, and I would go myself, but I have another meeting…”
“It’s not a problem at all, I wouldn’t mind staying up there for the weekend anyways. I can go check.”
Louis shocked him out of his Liam trance with a slap to the back, jolting him forward a bit.
“Hey, I can go with you! Wouldn’t want you driving up to Holmes Chapel all by your lonesome at this time in the evening,”
Harry was starting to say no but Liam brightened, shaking Louis’s hand gratefully.
“Oh that makes me feel loads better, thanks to the both of you. Safe drive then!”
A little while later when they were well on their way and Harry still hadn’t spoken to him, Louis thought no, this wasn’t a good drive at all. But Harry did own a Range Rover, and fuck if that wasn’t hot. But now was not the time for day dreaming about Harry’s mode of transportation.
He turned down the god awful song that Harry considered music and turned his body towards him.
“You know, you can’t be mad at me this entire time and not even tell me what I’ve done,”
Harry’s hands gripped into the steering wheel. “You can’t just invite yourself up to spend the weekend with me in front of my boss, it’s a little unprofessional!”
“Right, I wouldn’t want him thinking anything is going on seeing as you’re in love with the guy and all,”
Harry swerved past a puddle, jostling Louis in his seat. “I am NOT in love with my boss, he’s marrying my sister for god’s sake!”
“Speaking of your sister, does she know you’re in love with her fiancé?”
Harry turned to glare at him, his body vibrating with anger. “What the hell, I’m not…”
Louis’s eyes widened as he smacked the dash, jabbing a finger out the window. “Shit, Harry, deer!”
“Are you seriously calling me dear…oh, shit shit shit,”
Harry swerved the truck out of the way just in time, but hit the brakes a little too hard, causing the truck to veer off into a field. A very muddy field. Harry gunned the gas pedal a few times, all with zero success. He leaned his head against the steering wheel.
“The only thing I want to hear out of your mouth right now is if you have cell service or not.”
Louis pulled his phone out of his jacket pocket, sliding it open. No signal. Brilliant.
“Fraid not…isn’t this a four wheel drive, what’s the point of having a Range Rover if you can’t even…” Louis caught the look of pure hatred on Harry’s face and decided to shut up for once.
“Anyways… I think there was a pub up back aways. They should have a phone we can use.”
Louis hopped out of the truck and grimaced when he heard the squish of mud against his brand new shoes. Well this was turning into a wonderful fucking night.
They trudged silently to the bar, Harry going off in search of a phone as soon as they got in the door, and Louis opting to plunk himself down at the bar, ordering two shots before he was even half way out of his coat. Harry was back a few minutes later, grumbling as he threw himself onto the stool beside him.
“The tow truck won’t be here until the morning,”
Louis lifted his shot glass in a salute, pushing the other towards Harry. “Cheers, I’ll be here getting drunk off my arse, because there’s no way I’m sleeping in the back of that truck sober,”
Harry sniffed at the glass before bringing it to his lips. “Alright, but I don’t want to drink too much.”
So Harry lied earlier. He had drank entirely too much at this point in the night. And he didn’t really know what point that was. But he did know that he was giggling a lot. And staring at Louis’ eyes. Such blue, blue eyes. Like an ocean. A calm, tropical ocean. Actually, he had a pretty nice profile too.
Harry dropped his head onto his shoulder, his voice coming out muffled. “You have a nice face,”
He felt fingers in his hair, and made a soft purring voice under his breath. He let Louis ease his head up, meeting his eyes with a goofy grin.
“Two things Styles; one, did you just purr like a cat when I touched your hair, and two, did you just say I had a nice face?”
Harry wagged an unsteady finger at him. “Yes and yes. Great eyes too. You. Have. Great. Eyes.”
Louis placed a glass of water in front of him, an amused smile tugging at his lips. “I think you’re drunk there, Curly. And weren’t you just mad at my face not that long ago?”
“S’not curly, it’s waaaaavvvvyyyy.” Harry threw his arms above his head, swaying his body in a squiggly motion that Louis could only guess was supposed to be a wave. Louis doubled over with laughter, clutching at his stomach.
“Hey, no laughing at me! Louis, stooooop,”
Louis straightened up, brushing tears away from the corners of his eyes. “Sorry, sorry.”
Harry smiled happily again, bopping his head along to the song playing in the background. “And I’m not mad you know. Shots make me so much less mad,”
Louis grinned back. “I’ll have to remember that then…and Harry,” Harry perked up. “You have really nice eyes too.”
Harry’s mouth formed an ‘O’ when suddenly he was out of his seat, his hands clapping loudly.
“Louis come on, I love this song! B-B-Bennie and the Jetsssss,”
Louis let himself be dragged out onto a makeshift dance floor at the front of the bar, and as soon as other drunk patrons realized what Harry had started, they slowly started to join them, singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs.
Louis let his hands slide down to Harry’s hips, singing all the wrong lyrics into his ear just to make that dimple pop out and hear his bubbly laughter. Louis was trying however not to look directly at Harry, because it was similar to looking at the sun. It was all too bright, too warm, and Louis wanted too much.
The song segued into a slow R&B tune, and Louis knew that it was time to get the hell out of there. He nodded towards the door, “We should get back to the truck.”
Harry agreed and went to grab a couple of bottles of water from the bartender and met Louis outside, who held out an arm to him. Harry linked his through it and swung it back and forth; giggling behind his free hand at how ridiculous they must have looked. Then suddenly the rain came pouring down on them in buckets, making Louis shriek like a banshee and drop Harry’s arm to race back to the truck.
Harry fumbled the keys out of his pockets, unlocking the truck and scrambling into the back seat behind Louis, their wet clothes squeaking on the leather seats. Harry reached into the back and felt around for the towel that he kept back there, rubbing it on his face before passing it over to Louis.
Harry watched him wipe his own face off, his lips parted and panting out breaths from their impromptu run. He ran his eyes over his profile, stopping to trace them over the line of Louis’ lips. Harry involuntarily licked his own, and felt a familiar heat up his veins…a heat that had been building there all night.
Harry slid closer to him, placing a hand on Louis’ thigh. Louis startled, looking down at the hand, then back up at Harry, a question in his eyes.
He leaned his head in closer, breath tickling the side of Louis’ neck. “Louis…will you kiss me please?”
Louis turned his head towards him and all Harry had to do was tilt his head slightly and…finally. He parted his lips, wanting to feel everything right away, testing his tongue out against Louis’ lips. He moaned, which Harry took as a good indication to deepen it, and almost whimpered himself when Louis dragged his fingers through his hair, pulling at the damp curls on the nape of his neck.
They kissed messily for a few minutes until Harry suddenly pulled away, his cheeks flushed, and hair drying into a mess of tangled curls. He grasped Louis’ cheeks in the palms of his hands, searching his eyes. “What’s your favorite thing about weddings…I know you must like one thing,”
Louis want breathing hard now as well, his usual bright blue eyes lined almost black.
“The groom…I like to see how happy the groom is. So, I always look at him first,”
Harry slotted lips back onto Louis’ once more, murmuring against them. “Me too.”
He pushed Louis’ back flat onto the seat so he could climb into his lap, a gasp coming from him once he settled down in it. “Shit, your jeans are fucking soaked through, s’cold!”
Harry eased back on Louis’ thighs, rolling over so he was lying on his back; his shirt rucked up against around his stomach. He voice came out in a rasp that shot straight to Louis’ dick.
“So take them off,”
Harry sat up to pull the rest of his shirt off, watching Louis’ fingers ease down the zipper of his jeans, then swear under his breath when he started his to attempt to tug them down.
Louis tossed the jeans on the floor of the car, stroking his palms up and down his thighs.
“Fuck, Harry…I want to…”
Harry bit down on his lip and nodded, arching into Louis’ mouth with a moan once his lips wrapped around him, and let everything else slip away as he turned Harry into a quivering, wrecked mess on his damp leather seats.
Harry woke up the next morning with a few fuzzy blinks of the eye, before bolting upright in a state of shock once he realized he was in the back of his truck. With nothing but a fleece lined jacket covering him. Which wasn’t his…it was Louis’. Then everything started to come back to him with embarrassing clarity. Harry being very drunk….Harry being very drunk and asking Louis to kiss him. Harry being very drunk and having sex with Louis. And judging from the way his body currently felt, and the series of teeth marks along his collarbones, he had really good sex with Louis.
He slowly started to pull on his clothes, wondering what it all meant. He also wondered where Louis had taken off to, worry starting to swirl in his stomach. He stumbled out of the truck on wobbly legs, squinting at the bright sun, noting it was probably still early yet. He spotted Louis in the distance, walking towards him with a couple of to go cups of coffee. He gave him a thankful smile when he reached him and handed it over.
“You are a savior. I would get down on my hands and knees and bow at your feet. If it weren’t so muddy that is,”
Louis smirked around his cup. “You lost me at hands and knees, Harry.”
Harry felt his face heat up all the way to the tips of his ears. “Oh. Um…so about last night, I just want you to know I don’t usually do those kinds of activities in the back of my truck. It’s not a regular thing,”
Louis laughed, his own cheeks a bit pink. “Yes, you did mention that more than once.”
Harry shifted back and forth on his feet, looking down at his muddy brown boots. Maybe it was time for a new pair.
“Well, that’s incredibly awkward. Sorry about that.”
Louis’ voice turned soft. “Hey,” Harry glanced up to meet his eyes for the first time that morning. “Why don’t we get some breakfast in us before we start discussing how many people have gotten the truck rockin."
The tow truck honked its arrival and Harry wandered over to meet him, hands stuffed in his pockets, glancing back at Louis and thought 'Just you'
They found a nearby diner after sorting the truck out, both of them needing to refuel before the rest of the trek to Holmes Chapel. Harry really hoped no one had popped into the bungalow and made themselves at home over night. Louis chortled around a mouth full of fry up.
“What, you didn’t want to walk in to find some disorientated old pensioner stripped down to his briefs having a nap in your bed then?”
Harry’s fork paused halfway to his mouth, his eyes wide. “Oh god.”
Louis’ eyes crinkled up at the sides, his shoulders shaking with laughter. “Don’t worry, I’ll be there to protect you,”
Harry hid a smile behind a piece of toast. He was about to take a bite when he noticed a girl standing in front of their table, her face lit up with recognition.
“Hey, you’re Harry Styles! I just saw you in the paper, hilarious write up, you’re pictures were so cute.”
Harry missed Louis choking on his coffee, giving the girl a funny look. “I’m not quite sure I know what you’re talking about,”
She held up a finger and scampered back to her table, quickly coming back and handing Harry the paper. He skimmed through it, his lips thinning out as he finished up. He slid it across the table towards Louis, his voice filled with hurt.
“What the fuck is this?”
Louis reached out to grab his hands, but Harry moved them away, his eyes flashing. The girl backed away from their table with a ‘oh shit’ look on her face.
“Harry, I didn’t even know this was actually going to print today, I had only sent in a draft, I…”
“But you wrote it! You wrote this…this article making fun of me, so what, you’ve just been using me this whole time?”
“Harry, it’s not like that, I didn’t know you at first, and the wedding thing was kind of nuts, so I presented it as a story, but then I got to know you, and you’re lovely, and I swear, I swear I didn’t know they were going to run it…I mean, at least not until I got a chance to tell you.”
Harry pushed up from the table, shaking his head as he threw some money down. “Funny, I don’t believe you. I guess you have been lying to me this whole time,”
“Just like how you’ve been lying to yourself about being in love with Liam?”
Louis immediately regretted with words when he saw Harry swipe at his eyes when he backed away.
“Fuck you, Louis.”
Louis leaned his head against the back of the booth, rubbing at his eyes. Fuck you Louis indeed. This was not how his plan for Harry was supposed to go at all. They had such a good time the night before, and Louis had definitely not expected to find out what Harry looked like when he was coming, but he did now, and it was something he had hoped to be seeing again. But he’s really gone and fucked that up.
He pulled out his phone and turned it back on now that he finally had service, and watched as the messages started coming through, one email with all caps in the title from Cal reading “LOUIS WHY THE HELL ISN’T YOUR PHONE TURNED ON” and inside a detailed account of how impressed he was with Louis’ humor – yay? – and how the article would really bring attention to another side of the wedding industry, it wasn’t just for women after all.
Louis knew that he should have been proud, but he just felt sick to his stomach all over again when he thought about the betrayal Harry’s eyes. And now he was stuck without a ride, which meant he was going to owe Niall a huge favor. But Niall was always pretty good in a crisis, so hopefully he had some fantastic ideas on how to fix this mess with Harry.
Harry always cried at weddings. He couldn’t help it; he had always been sentimental, even as a child, but what he never imagined was him crying over a guy writing about him and his fascination with weddings. It’s a good thing he had sex last night, because it was probably the last time it was going to happen now that Harry Styles ‘the wedding addict’ was out there for all the world to see.
He pulled into the driveway of the bungalow and checked his face in the mirror, wiping away any errant tears. Just in case there did happen to be an old, naked pensioner in the house; he didn’t need him making fun of Harry as well.
He checked the door – locked up tight of course – and fit his key in the lock, opening the door to a silent house… or so he thought. He shut the door quietly behind him, and crept slowly into the living room where he heard muffled noises coming from. He stopped in the hallway and craned his neck over the peek his head in the doorway, nearly falling through it when he saw what was happening on the couch.
“Gemma, what the hell!”
His sister crashed the floor after flinging herself off the guy she was just snogging. A guy that was clearly not Liam. She sat up and adjusted her clothes, smiling sheepishly at him
“Harry! What are you doing here?”
“I’m here because mum asked me to check on the place! You remember mum don’t you, the person you were supposed to be with?”
Mystery guy (who actually looked a look like airport guy) excused himself, leaving Gemma to scramble over to Harry. He held a hand out to stop her from touching him, crossing his arms over his chest.
“So, that’s not Liam. Unless he suddenly turned into an Italian guy between yesterday and today,”
She bit her lip, giving Harry her best innocent baby deer eyes. “I know, I know, it’s just…it hit me all of a sudden, you know, getting married, and…I don’t think I’m ready. At all.”
“And you thought the best way to remedy that was by stuffing your tongue down some Italian guys throat?”
She groaned, slumping against the wall. “No…I don’t know…what am I supposed to do now? I can’t tell Liam,”
Harry grasped her shoulder, shaking a finger at her. “You better tell him something Gem, you’re not going to lie to him, not about this. This isn’t the same as pretending to be into meatless burgers. Which was ridiculous by the way, even for you.”
“Fine, I’ll talk to him tonight. I promise I’ll sort it out, and let him down easy.” She nodded towards the side table, “Did you know you were in the paper today? What’s that all about?”
Harry flicked his eyes towards it, lips turning into a frown. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
She laughed, reaching over to poke his dimple. “It’s not that bad, Louis actually is a very good writer. But I guess you already knew that. Plus you look really fit in the pictures, you should be thanking him really,”
“Doesn’t it make me look like an idiot though?”
She slid her hand down to his cheek, her eyes that were so similar to his sparkling. “No, Harry. It makes you look like a romantic, lovable man who would do anything to make the people in his life happy.”
Harry looked skeptical. “And Louis…he wrote all of that?”
She nodded. “Mmm hmm, I think he might even fancy you, H.”
Harry eyed up the paper. Maybe he should give a read just to see. He wagged a finger once more.
“I mean it about Liam; you need to tell him tonight, okay? You may not have realized it, but he’s pretty amazing, and he deserves to be happy,”
She held up her hands, pulling her phone out of her jeans. “Alright, alright, I’ll call him right now. You sure you don’t want to marry him?”
Harry glanced at the bolded ‘Louis Tomlinson’ on the front page of the paper.
He wasn’t sure about anything anymore.
Louis spent the rest of Sunday getting epically pissed with Niall hoping it would make him feel better, or at least bring him some clarity, but sadly the only thing he got was a massive hangover.
So his Monday was turning out to be the fucking worst, which is what he deserved. He rolled back in his chair, resting his chin on his desk and brought up ‘extravagant I’m sorry gifts’ on Google search.
He clicked on a link about a private jet to France when Cal appeared at his desk with a coffee. Louis cocked an eyebrow when said coffee was placed in front of him.
“Just wanted to say congratulations to our most popular writer on staff. Your wish has finally come true; you’ve been requested for a front page story. As in the real front page,”
Louis shot up in his chair. “Holy fucking shit.”
Cal looked at him unblinking. “Language Louis, this is still an office. And you’re still on commitments for the time being. I’ll forward you the assignment.”
Louis watched him go, his mouth still hanging open in shock. He turned back to his computer and scratched his head, wondering if there were any ‘I’m sorry but also thank you so fucking much’ gifts out there.
Harry knocked softly on Liam’s door when he got into work, unsure of what mood to expect from him. He knew that his sister had spoken to him and that he took it alright but having someone tell you they don’t really want to marry you wasn’t really the best news someone could be given, so he needed to make sure he was okay.
He also had a lot of time to think over the rest of his weekend. Looking at Liam now, he knew that he truly wanted him to be happy. Just not with a member of his family. Or him. Funny how life works.
Liam looked up from his desk, a sad smile on his face. Harry turned and shut the door so that they could have some privacy. The whole office didn’t need to know. Even though they already did; Zayn especially pleased with the news.
“Great, I kind of wanted to sleep with your sister too.”
Harry shook the image out of his mind. Gross. He thinks he’s seen enough of his sister draped all over different men enough times over the past few months to last him a lifetime.
Harry didn’t really know what to do with himself once he was in there, so he opted to lean against the door.
“I…I hope you’re okay, Liam. I feel like I should apologize on behalf of the Styles family or something,”
Liam got up and walked around his desk, leaning against the front of it, shrugging his shoulders.
“I’m fine, Harry, really. Maybe we did rush into things. I don’t know, I guess the thought of getting married sounded nice. I haven’t given up, second times a charm and all that right?” Harry nodded. “I saw your article by the way. I think they were trying to poke a bit of fun at you, but I think you sounded really lovely. It’s nice that you enjoy something that much.”
Harry didn’t need to see his face to know that he was blushing furiously. He dragged the toe of his shoe across the carpet absently.
“It’s funny, I was bleeding mad over the article at first, and I suppose it is odd to be this invested in weddings, but I’ve had an influx of messages of people wanting me to consult on their weddings. So, it’s not all bad.”
Liam’s face softened. “That’s really great, Harry. You know, if I didn’t know any better I would think that Louis quite fancies you,”
“Annoying as it is, he’s grown on me as well.”
Liam came over to pull him into a hug, holding him out be the arms after. “Go take him to lunch or something and tell him. I think I can handle a few hours without you.”
He pushed him towards the door, and Harry paused at the handle, deciding to finally tell Liam the truth.
“You know, Liam…I thought I was in love with you for the longest time. Just kind of wanted to get that off my chest. And it was really weird. I’m sorry.”
Liam shook his head back and forth, his smile wide. “Harry, if I were at all into men I would have definitely picked you. I know you would have planned us the most amazing wedding,”
“Would it make it weirder if I told you I kind of already did?”
Liam’s face turned serious, but there was still a smile behind his eyes. “It would.”
Harry tipped his head at him. “Noted.”
And with that he was off to make his second proclamation of love for the day.
Harry found Louis’ office easily enough, and ignored all of the whispers and stares when he walked through the halls to his desk. He kind of decided that maybe fame wasn’t for him.
Louis noticed him right away, standing straight up in his desk. Harry stood a few feet from him, but close enough to feel the nerves seeping off of Louis.
“Would you be embarrassed if I kissed you in front of your whole office?”
Louis’ eyebrows furrowed up in confusion. “No?”
“Damn, I wanted to make us even,” Harry pulled him in by the waist, his lips hovering above Louis’ “No more articles, okay?”
Louis grasped him by the neck, pressing up into a kiss before breaking away a few moments later.
“What if it’s to write about our wedding?”
Harry smiled. “Fine.”
He was his favorite writer after all.