Harry and Louis have known each other since the start of everything.
When Harry is only a few weeks old, and Louis is two, the older boy is immediately intrigued by the little person in the carry cot.
"Auntie Anne?" he asks quietly.
"Why is he so small?"
"It's because he's only just got here. He'll get bigger soon." Anne smiles and - when she sees that Louis has no further queries - turns back to speaking to his mother, Jay. Louis sits for the whole three and a half hours Anne and Harry are at the Tomlinson household, watching Harry sleeping softly.
When Anne stands up to leave, Louis tugs at her trouser leg.
"Please don't go, Auntie Anne! I want to watch Harry grow!"
From then on, Jay knows that it will be difficult to keep her son away from her best friend's little boy.
As soon as Harry is big enough to crawl around and babble nonsense, Louis is there, continuing to watch him. When Louis starts going to playgroup for a few days of the week, both Anne and Jay notice how each of the boys miss each other. Even though they never have proper conversations due to Harry's inability to talk, they seem to know each other so well.
When Harry does say his first word however, Louis is the recipient.
"Mummy, Auntie Anne's here!" Louis shouts from the front door.
They all walk through to the living room, and as Anne and Jay sit on the sofas, Louis throws himself onto the floor dramatically, and Harry is placed beside him.
"Hi, Harry!" Louis exclaims happily, as if he hasn't seen his friend for a long time - when really they'd seen each other two days ago.
"Hi!" Harry says back.
Everyone in the room freezes.
"Umm, Auntie Anne, has Harry said that before?"
Anne appears to break out of her reverie, and scoops Harry off the floor, holding him up in the air and cooing. Harry looks down at her with a gummy smile.
Louis thinks it reminds him of when Rafiki holds Simba up to the sky in the Lion King.
When Louis is six, and Harry is four, Louis takes Harry to school on his first day.
Louis insists on taking Harry into school, so their Mums say goodbye at the gate, giving them hugs and kisses before Louis looks at Harry and smiles, as if to say 'let's go'.
Harry smiles back slightly awkwardly, nerves showing across his eyes, his cheeks turning slightly pink. He steps towards Louis once his Mum has kissed him on his forehead once more, and Louis leans down slightly - he is taller than Harry at this time - and runs his finger along his cheek to catch a lone tear.
"Please don't cry," Louis says. "I don't want you to be upset."
"I'm f-fine," Harry replies, sniffing.
"Everything will be great." Louis puts an arm around Harry's shoulder, and starts walking them across the playground.
When they reach Harry's classroom, Louis bends down to Harry's height again and ruffles his hair - his Dad always did that to him when he was upset.
"You'll be fine, Hazza." Louis' hand is still on Harry's hair, stroking it absent-mindedly.
"I wish..." Harry takes a moment to steady his nervous breathing. "I wish we were in the same class, Lou-Lou."
"You'll have friends in your class, you know, like I have Tom?"
Harry grimaces - he doesn't like Tom very much.
"I'll meet you in the cloakroom at break, yeah?"
Harry nods slowly, and Louis gives him a hug before standing up again.
"See you later," he says.
As Louis walks away, Harry takes a deep breath before opening the door and entering the room, where a few children his age are sat at tables colouring.
His teacher - Miss Lark - shows him to his seat and hands him a sheet with a big teddy bear on it for him to colour. He immediately grabs a dark blue pencil and starts to colour in the bear's paws.
Miss Lark thinks about the encounter she saw through the glass window of the door before Harry entered. She had taught Louis two years ago, and couldn't remember him ever mentioning a little brother, and later, when she does the register and sees that Harry's last name isn't Tomlinson, she knows.
Harry enjoys his first day of school, and talks about it quite a lot when he is at home. His Mum is stood by the hob, stirring a pot of spag bol sauce, as Harry walks up and down the kitchen, showing her picture after picture that he coloured in.
"I also did a bear, but I gave that one to Louis."
"That's very nice of you Harry," Anne says softly.
"Well, he is my bestest friend."
And then, Anne knows as well.
Time passes quickly, in years of colouring and sticking, adding and taking away, Henry the eighth and his six wives, playing the recorder and singing.
Louis is now in year six, his final year of primary school. Harry doesn't want him to leave.
"But Lou, I'll miss you!"
"I know you will, Hazza, I'll miss you too."
Harry snuggles tighter into Louis' side, wrapping his arms around his waist. "Who will I eat with at lunchtime now?"
"You have Niall," Louis reminds him.
"Niall isn't you though."
"I know, Harry, I know." Louis holds him even tighter. "I'll always see you out of school though, and it's only two years until you're at secondary school too."
"Oh, but Louuu..." Harry whines.
"Oh, but what?" Louis imitates the other boy’s tone.
"What if you forget about me?"
"I would never forget you." Louis adjusts his position so he can look Harry straight in the eyes. "You're my best friend in the whole world, and nothing will ever change that."
"Promise?" Harry squeaks.
"Cross my heart and hope to die."
During the first year they have in separate schools, all goes well. Harry builds a strong friendship with Niall, and actually refers to him as his 'best-school-friend'. Louis sticks with Tom, and meets two boys called Liam and Zayn, who he also gets along with.
Outside of school, Louis and Harry see each other as much as they can, and Harry never has a day when he isn't desperate for his best friend's company. Louis feels very much the same, but he's a bit less obvious about it.
When Louis is in year eight and Harry is in year six, Harry starts to notice Louis changing. Even when they do meet outside of school - which is starting to become less frequent, due to Louis' homework schedule - Louis always has his mobile phone with him, and Harry notices that sometimes Louis will pay more attention to that tiny device than he does to his best friend.
"Oh yeah, and Lou, they picked me to have a solo in the choir! Me! Can you believe it?"
Louis doesn't look up.
"Oh, uh, sorry, what was that?" Louis finally says.
"I was just telling you about my solo."
Louis opens his mouth to say something, but his phone buzzes in his palm, so he looks down at the screen and smiles. "That's cool, H."
"Mum, can I have a mobile phone?"
"And what would you want one of those for, Harry?" Anne opens the cupboard under the stairs, pulling out a duster and some furniture polish.
"Lou has one."
"Lou's much older than you."
"Only two years and a bit over a month."
"Harry, you don't need a mobile phone." Anne sighs, untangling the wires from the Hoover.
"Neither does Lou, but he has one!"
"Jay lets Louis have a mobile because he goes to school on his own, and she wants him to have a way of contacting her if he gets into trouble," Anne explains, plugging the Hoover in.
"But he is always talking to his friends on it."
"Well Harry, that's what older people do."
"You can have a phone when you get to secondary school. No earlier."
Any further complaints made by Harry are drowned out by the loud sound of the Hoover, so he gives up and retires to his room.
Soon, it is Harry's turn to be moving on from primary school. He is overjoyed when he notices Louis in the audience at the end of year performance, where he is playing Fagin in a production of Oliver. However, when the show is finished and he walks over to his parents - who Louis is sat beside - he notices that Louis has a girl next to him who he is talking to quietly.
Harry makes sure to announce his presence quite loudly.
"How did I do?" he exclaims.
"You were wonderful, darling!" Anne stands to give him a hug.
Harry turns expectantly to Louis, who is still talking to the girl.
"Lou? What did you think?" Harry asks.
Louis turns to him and grins. "It was ace, Haz. I never knew you could do such a good Cockney accent!"
"Who was that girl?" Harry asks Louis meekly, when they're sat outside the village hall eating ice creams. (She left not long after the performance ended, saying her Mum had arrived to pick her up.)
"Oh, uh, that was Hannah."
Harry swallows before asking his next question. "Is she your girlfriend?"
"Ummm..." Louis eats a bit more of his ice cream and looks straight ahead, feeling Harry's gaze burning his right cheek.
"Ummm?" Harry urges.
Harry doesn't understand the feeling in his stomach. It's like he has the feeling that he gets every night before going to sleep, but only his stomach can feel it now; the feeling of falling. His mouth goes slightly dry as he tries to form his next sentence.
"Why didn't you tell me you had a girlfriend?" He blinks before adding: "It's cool, right?"
"I suppose so." Louis shrugs. "Sorry I didn't say; I should have told you she was coming tonight, but then it would've ruined the surprise of me being here."
"No, don't worry; it's okay,” Harry replies.
There is silence as they finish off their ice creams and throw the sticks into the bin. Harry knows that his parents will be inside talking to other parents and teachers for a little while longer.
"Did my mum drive you here?" Harry asks.
Louis nods. "Yeah."
There's another silence before Louis turns in his seat, and Harry turns to face him properly.
"Your mum said I could stay over tonight, if it's okay with you. She knows we're drifting apart, Haz, and I know too."
"I don't want that." Harry shakes his head so his curls bounce.
"Neither do I." Louis pulls Harry into a tight hug, and Harry can feel the smile forming on his face. "Everything will be fine. When you're at my school, we can spend loads of time together again."
They spend a lot of the summer holidays together after that, having sleepovers at each other’s houses, and spending days outside in the sun with picnics packed by Jay or Anne. Harry realises how much he had been missing Louis' company before.
He tries not to show how he's slightly happy when Louis breaks up with Hannah.
Louis looks after Harry as much as he can for his first day at secondary school. Year sevens normally have 'buddies' from year eight, but Louis talks to his form tutor and Harry's so he can be Harry's ‘buddy’.
Harry thoroughly enjoys year seven, apart from the large amount of homework, and getting used to having different teachers for every lesson. He is always extremely grateful for Niall's company in all of his lessons, because otherwise, he struggles to make friends in his year. Most first years would be bothered by not particularly fitting in, but he doesn't mind, as long as he sees Louis at lunchtime.
On Harry's first day, Louis introduces him and Niall to his friends, Zayn and Liam, and from there, the five of them - along with Tom - spend time with each other every lunchtime. You wouldn't really think that it would work, two year sevens hanging around with four year nines, but it does.
And Harry and Louis text each other all of the time.
In the summer of that year, when Louis is fourteen and Harry is twelve, they - along with Tom, Niall and Zayn - plan a surprise birthday party for Liam. Liam has always hated having a summer birthday, because it meant that he was quite a bit younger than the others in their year, but they decide to change that, by taking advantage of the lighter nights and the fact that Louis has a massive grass field beyond his back garden.
It took some persuasion from the parents, but eventually everything was sorted out, and they set up a tent in the field so the six of them could have a big camp-out to celebrate.
While Harry, Louis, Niall and Tom finish off setting up, Zayn is in charge of getting Liam to them.
"What if Zayn can't convince him?" Harry asks.
"Trust me, Zayn can always convince Liam."
Harry isn't sure what that could mean, but Louis is right - ten minutes later Zayn texts them, saying that he and Liam are on their way and will be about ten minutes.
Harry ducks down behind the wind-break, and he hears Niall shuffling into the tent, where Tom is hidden behind a chair just inside the entrance. When Louis plops down beside Harry after turning off the battery powered iPod dock, Harry grins at him. Louis winks back and peeks round the corner, waiting to see the two approaching silhouettes. About six minutes later, when he sees them, he hides behind the wind-break again and hisses:
"They're on their way guys!"
Everyone freezes and waits patiently, until they hear Liam talking.
"What's this? I didn't think people camped out here..."
Everyone jumps out from their hiding places and smiles at Liam who is stood with a hand on his heart.
"God guys, you scared the life out of me!"
"Dance with me Haz!"
Louis was in his kind of hyped up 'party mood' and whenever he's like that, he always wants to dance.
"I can't dance!"
Sadly for Harry, Louis never wants to dance on his own.
"Come on!" Louis pulls Harry up onto his feet and onto the bit of grass in the middle of all of the chairs.
Harry groans. "I don't want to dance, Lou."
Louis pouts. "But I love this song!"
Harry sighs. "Fine." He doesn't admit aloud that this is one of his favourite songs too.
Louis grabs both of his hands and starts pulling him round in a circle, moving in little jumps to the beat of the song. He lets go of one of Harry's hands and spins him around. Niall is laughing and clapping as they bounce around in a not exactly graceful manner. He is their only audience member, as Zayn, Liam and Tom are inside the tent playing Cheat with the pack of cards Tom brought along.
"See, you can dance!" Louis says, just before Harry stumbles and nearly falls face-first into the cool box. Luckily, Louis' reactions aren't bad, and he grabs Harry's waist before he loses his balance completely. When Harry is pulled back into a warm chest which he knows to be Louis', he grins.
Year eight passes in a similar manner to the previous school year, except Harry starts to feel like something is constantly coming between him and Louis - and by something, he means someone. Because Louis is now in year ten, he has only one lesson with Tom, so Tom decides that he wants all of Louis' attention during any time the group have together. Harry struggles to understand, because he has not one lesson with Louis, but still ends up being pushed away as soon as Tom wants to say something. However, Harry tries not to let it bother him, as he doesn't want him and Louis drifting apart again like before, so he makes sure that if they have a day when they didn't speak much at lunchtime, he rings him or starts a text conversation in the evening.
The summer holidays that year are- in Harry's opinion - the best ever.
A holiday is organised for Harry's family and Louis' family. They have a villa in Spain, with a pool outside and a games room in the cellar and loads of bedrooms to play hide and seek in - even though they spend most of the time out in the pool.
Harry and Louis share a room, which Harry loves - says it's like a sleepover every night.
"Lou?" Harry asks into the darkness of the room one night.
"Mmm?" Louis mumbles.
"Is there room for me in your bed?"
Harry swings his legs out of bed and pads across the stone floor to Louis' bedside. Louis pulls back the covers for him, and he climbs in.
"What's up, Haz?" Louis murmurs into Harry's curls.
"Just wanted a cuddle," Harry replies, snuggling into Louis' arms.
"Well, you know I'm always up for that." Louis pulls him in tighter and kisses the top of his head.
Then Harry knows.
That kiss - which is actually the first time Louis' ever kissed him - makes him realise that he wants to kiss Louis. He wants to kiss Louis more than that girl in year four who he thought he fancied.
Harry tilts his head up. "Lou?"
"Why'd you break up with Hannah?"
When Louis and Hannah first broke up, Harry didn't ask about it right away, but when he did the first time, Louis gave a very vague response, and Harry decided to leave it. Now, he just wants to know why. He doesn't want to think that it’s because he wants to avoid any mistakes she ever made...
"I just didn't like her as much as I like someone else," Louis replies.
"Nah, can't tell ya that."
"But friends don't keep secrets!" Harry argues.
"They do when they absolutely need to."
"Well they shouldn't."
Harry rolls over in a huff, and faces away from Louis.
"Aw Haz, I'm sorry."
Harry doesn't reply and lays there in silence as Louis keeps trying to get him to talk, resting his head on his shoulder and wrapping his arms around his waist. It isn’t long before the blue eyed boy uses another method.
Louis’ hands turn into claws as they dig into Harry's ribs, and move down his sides, until Harry is squirming, trying not to laugh. Louis finally uses his strongest weapon - his fist on Harry's shoulder blades.
Harry's giggles bounce around the room as he wiggles around. "Stop! Lou, I surrender!"
"Yes, yes, just stop!"
Louis pulls his hands away and Harry rolls back over to face him.
"That was mean," Harry says.
"Had to be done."
Harry suddenly gets an idea - revenge. He grins evilly and swings one leg over Louis' body so he's trapped, before he's tickling Louis like Louis tickled him.
Louis immediately lets out loud laughter. "Hey, no fair!" he exclaims.
As Louis tries to move away, Harry loses his balance slightly, and shuffles around to regain it.
It's then that Louis whines.
It's the softest sound; Harry thinks that if the air con was just a bit louder, he would've missed it - but he didn't.
"Lou? Is everything... okay?" Harry now has his hands on either side of Louis' head.
He nods. "I'm fine."
As Harry goes to move off of him, he feels it - Louis is hard.
Harry swallows and continues to move, trying not to make it seem like he's noticed - he'd hate for it to be awkward between them.
Louis coughs. "Finished tickling me then?"
"I think so," Harry replies. "I'll catch you again though, I'm sure."
If Harry really did worry about whether things would be weird between them after that night, it would've been wasted brain waves.
The next day, everyone goes down to the beach. There are steps down the cliff side just down the road, so it isn't too far to walk with the cool boxes, beach bags, and inflatables. When they reach the bottom of the steps, and the adults along with Gemma set up their sunbeds, Louis’ younger sisters immediately start building sculptures in the sand whilst Louis and Harry run down to the waves, dragging their lilo behind them.
"Be careful, boys!" Jay shouts.
"We will!" Louis replies.
Both boys hang over the lilo width-ways, kicking their legs to propel it forward, out of the shallow waters. When it is deep enough to float on the lilo comfortably and the two of them can just touch the floor on the tips of their toes, they turn to each other.
"Do you wanna climb up first, Haz?"
Harry nods and pushes himself up onto the lilo, moving around so his head is at the top, on the sort of pillow part. Louis rests his head on his hands to the right of him.
"Comfy?" he asks.
"Think so," Harry replies, looking up at the sky.
Louis begins kicking his legs again so they are moving forward, and when Harry asks whether he is going to join him, Louis points out that there isn’t really enough room for the two of them. Harry attempts to persuade him by sitting up with one leg either side of the inflatable, holding each side for balance to prove that there’s plenty of space. Louis still is negative, not wanting it to flip up, so Harry explains that they can both swim, meaning no problem. He really doesn’t understand why the older boy won’t join him.
"Fine." Louis puts his feet on the ocean floor and pushes up. As he predicted, it flips straight over, leaving them both in the water. Louis resurfaces first after somersaulting over the inflatable, but Harry is under a bit longer before popping up, coughing and spluttering. Louis hurries over to him as quick as he can, putting his hands on his shoulders.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Harry replies. "At least it's sort of shallow!"
Louis grins and offers to help Harry back onto the lilo, but Harry insists that he doesn’t need any, clambering up onto the inflatable and sitting as he was before, gesturing to Louis that it is his turn. Louis raises an eyebrow and Harry nods, patting the space in front of him.
This time they both gracefully slide back into the water when it tips slightly.
"It's okay Haz, I'll just swim."
"But Louuu," Harry whines.
"Okay," Louis agrees, "but this time, we'll jump up together."
Harry nods and pushes his fringe - which is starting to get pretty long - out of his face before putting his hands on the side of the lilo. Louis does the same.
Both boys jump up onto the inflatable, swinging a leg over the other side and sitting up. Finally, they achieve success as both are floating, looking straight at each other.
"We did it!" Harry exclaims. "High five!"
Louis shakes his head as he slaps Harry's outstretched hand. "You're a dork."
Harry shrugs. "You still love me."
"Well, I suppose so." Louis laughs.
They float on the lilo for the next couple of hours, talking and laughing and joking. Harry's stomach is the first to rumble, so they paddle back to shore.
Once both boys have eaten their sandwiches and munched through their packets of crisps and apples, their mums insist on them putting more sun cream on. Normally they'd grumble, but they rushed through putting it on, as Harry had noticed some rocks further down the beach that he wanted to climb on, due to the rule about not swimming after eating. When they tell Jay about their plan, she immediately puts hats on both of their heads, sunglasses on their faces and their shoes back on their feet.
"Mum, you worry too much," Louis points out.
"Don't be silly; a mum can never worry too much about her children." She shoves t-shirts and a couple more packets of crisps into a bag, along with a bottle of sun cream.
As the boys begin to walk down the beach to the rocks, Louis expresses his annoyance towards his Mum's worrying.
"Jesus, I'm nearly sixteen and she treats me like a baby!"
"It's just 'cause she cares about you, Lou."
"It's just bloody annoying." Louis kicks a pebble and it rolls slightly across the sand. "Don't you ever feel like you should be treated like an adult?"
"I'm only thirteen," Harry points out.
"I sometimes forget that you're that much younger than me," Louis mumbles.
Harry doesn't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. He had always thought he acted a bit old for his age - apart from the fact that he is easily amused - but he doesn't know what Louis thinks about that.
A grip on Harry's hand pulls him from his thoughts.
"Let's go," Louis says, dragging Harry along the beach, breaking into a run. "I'll race you!"
Harry grins and starts sprinting to the rocks, Louis at his side. Louis is soon a bit ahead of him, and reaches the rocks first. Panting slightly, Harry approaches him.
Louis laughs. "You may be on your way to having longer legs than me, Harold, but I will always be a faster runner."
"I'm sure I'll win one day." Harry starts stepping from rock to rock. "Come on then."
Louis follows, and soon they're further out into the sea. Here, the rocks are further apart and decreasing in size, so the boys have to slow down in their expedition. Eventually, about twenty minutes after they first reached the natural pier, Harry stops at the water's edge. He waits a moment, and Louis stops on the rock diagonally behind him; when Harry sits, so does he. Harry puts his toes into the sea water and looks back over his shoulder.
"Come and sit next to me Lou!"
"Harry, I know for a fact that there is not enough room for me and you on that rock."
"And I know for a fact that you said a similar thing about the lilo."
Louis rolls his eyes and starts shuffling forward to sit by his friend. Harry moves so he's right on the edge of the rock, leaving room for Louis.
"Wasn't difficult, was it?"
Louis doesn't reply; he looks straight out at the water ahead of him - at the boat in the distance, at the seagulls whirling and crying. He doesn't notice Harry beside him, who is watching anything but the water; his eyes are often flickering to Louis' face.
"Was there any particular reason you wanted to come out here?" Louis asks after a moment.
"Nope. Just looked nice, 'spose." Harry shuffles forwards so he can get more of his legs in the water, and Louis' eyes catch the sight of the bright red skin across Harry's shoulder blades.
"Shit Harry!" he exclaims.
"What? What is it?" Harry turns to look at Louis in a panic.
"S'alright; doesn't hurt."
Louis isn't listening; his hand is in the rucksack, searching for sun cream. He pulls out a bottle of factor fifty and pours some into his hand.
When Harry feels the cool cream on his shoulder he flinches slightly, and not only from the surprising cold. He suddenly realises how he had burnt so quickly, and the pain is rapidly spreading, but he also wonders why he is reacting to Louis' hands on his skin.
Before he loses himself in his thoughts, he notices a piece of material being dropped into his lap.
"Put that on," Louis demands, putting the cap back on the cream and the bottle in the bag. Harry obeys and pulls the t-shirt over his head, and Louis looks up from the bag to see Harry brushing his hair in different directions, starting to look frustrated. He watches for a moment, before taking a breath and holding Harry's right wrist away from his face.
Harry opens his mouth to say something, but stops and sucks in a sharp breath as Louis sorts out his runaway fringe.
"There," Louis murmurs. "All sorted."
Harry swallows before replying. "Thanks."
They stand there a moment longer, trapped in a somewhat confused bubble. The bubble soon pops however, when Louis realises that he still has a grip on Harry's wrist. Harry realises, when his arm drops back to his side, how much he wants to hold Louis' hand in his.
The holiday passes in a blur, and soon the boys are back at school. It starts well - everyone still gets on and they keep in touch outside of school - but then Tom... well he has words with Louis about a particular subject, which Harry knows is about him.
"Louis, tell me!"
"I can't, Harry."
"I'm your best mate. Just fucking tell me!"
"Language," Louis scolds jokingly.
"Piss off, you swear all the time!"
"There you go again. Maybe we should get a swear jar."
"But what... Stop changing the bloody subject!"
"Fine, fine." There is a moment of silence as Louis tries to be serious. "Tom was just saying that... saying that..."
"Go on," Harry urges.
"He said that he doesn't want to," he hesitates, "hang-out-with-the-two-little-twats."
Even though Louis speaks those last words at a pace of about seven words per second, Harry understands every syllable.
"Meaning me and Niall, right?" Harry snaps, even though he knows the answer.
"Well great Lou. That's absolutely fantastic. 'Spose I ought to go and tell Niall that we are no longer wanted." Harry spins around towards the door of Louis' bedroom.
"Haz." Louis follows and grabs Harry's sleeve when it is in reach. "I said no."
"No to that. I said that you are my best friend and just because he doesn't like you doesn't mean I should stop spending time with you. He didn't like that, of course, and went off in a huff. He was being a dick - and you're being a dick just by thinking I would just stop liking you because Tom doesn't."
There's a tense moment of silence as Harry takes in Louis' words. He tosses them over in his mind for about a minute before stepping towards his friend. Louis holds his arms out, and Harry stumbles into them, resting his head on Louis' shoulder.
"I'm sorry," he mumbles.
"Being a dick."
Louis turns his head slightly, and places a kiss on Harry's temple. He notices Harry's sharp intake of breath, but pretends he doesn't. Louis doesn't have to say anything; Harry knows that it's a way - albeit, a new way - of saying everything's alright.
From there, everything is even better than before. Liam and Zayn apologise to Niall and Harry for Tom's ridiculous behaviour - even though they didn't need to, which is what Harry and Niall tell them. Even though it is said that groups of odd numbers are at a higher risk of falling out, the five of them get on like a house on fire.
It used to be that Tom and Harry would compete for Louis' attention, and when Tom won, Harry would always turn to Niall. Otherwise, Niall got on incredibly well with Zayn and Liam (or ‘Ziam’, as he called them. He told Harry how he was convinced they'd make a good couple).
Now, it is always Harry&Louis and Zayn&Liam, and Niall really doesn't mind flitting between the two. He also has his eyes set on a girl from his physics class, who he sometimes invites to eat with them at lunch. He doesn't mind not seeing as much of Harry during these times - they often have classes together, and they still meet up outside of school.
One lunchtime, near the end of the school year, Liam and Zayn tell their friends that they have some news. In confusion, the other boys follow them away from the normal path to the computer room, to the benches on the opposite side of the courtyard.
"Well, uh, this is kinda big news, I suppose," Zayn starts.
"We have decided to tell you today, because we thought you deserved to know," Liam continues, turning to Zayn. Harry can see the slight begging in his eyes.
"Liam and I are..." Zayn pauses, and on a whim, takes Liam's hand in his, entangling their fingers. "Liam and I are together. In a relationship."
There's an extremely brief silence before all three boys jump up from their seats opposite, all exclaiming different things.
"When? How? Who came on to who?"
"Guys I'm so happy for you!"
However, Niall is louder than everyone else.
"I knew it! Didn't I tell you? This is fantastic, I can predict the future!"
Liam and Zayn exchange looks of relief at their friends' acceptance, followed by amusement at Niall's outburst.
"Actually, you guys have given me the confidence I need! See you later; I need to go and speak to someone!"
Niall then scurries away, and his friends watch him before talking again.
"Anyway, guys! Answer my questions!"
"Well, Liam totally came onto me-"
"I did not!"
As the others chat and laugh, Harry begins to feel something in his stomach. As it becomes more developed, he realises that it is the same feeling that he had when Louis told him about his new girlfriend. Harry now knows that this previously unknown emotion is jealousy. Jealousy at Zayn and Liam, being able to be happy together in a relationship where they can hug and kiss and hold hands and...
Harry wants that with Louis.
He feels jealous towards Niall, how he is now off asking a girl to go out with him. Asking a girl to be in a relationship where they can hug and kiss and hold hands and...
Harry wants that with Louis.
He feels jealous towards Hannah, who had the opportunity in her life to be in a relationship with Louis where she can hug him and kiss him and hold hands with him and...
Harry wants it all.
He doesn't think he's asking for a lot, really.
Jealousy is a green eyed monster.
That green eyed monster claws at Harry's heart every single day; every single lunchtime when he's sat with Niall&Jess and Liam&Zayn. Louis jokes with him, saying that they can be single together.
Harry scolds himself every time he looks at Louis and thinks about what it would be like to kiss him. He constantly tells himself 'no' when he thinks about what it would be like to have his fingers tangled up with Louis'.
A couple of weeks into the summer holidays of that year, he decides to tell Niall.
"So when did you finally realise?" Niall asks with his hand in a packet of Haribo.
"Well it was the day that... finally?"
"Uh, yeah. You're pretty obvious. I think I first noticed it when you were dancing at Liam's birthday that year...I'm pretty sure Zayn and Liam have noticed too."
"Brilliant." Harry falls back onto the bed, throwing his arm across his face. Deep down he sort of wishes that he is obvious enough for Louis to notice, because at least then he wouldn't ever have to explain to him.
"Don't worry though, I think Louis' completely oblivious to everything."
Harry chuckled darkly at how Niall's words fitted with his previous thoughts. "It doesn't matter anyway - he's straight, Niall."
"And how could you possibly know that?"
"He's my best friend - of course I know. He went out with Hannah, didn't he?"
"Yeah, and broke up with her after a month and a half and hasn't been out with anyone since. Also, guys who are unsure about their sexuality often go out with girls before they know the truth," Niall points out.
When Harry doesn't really say much else for the next half an hour or so, Niall leaves, promising that he won't tell a soul.
When Harry returns to school after a fairly boring summer holiday, he realises that he has started to occasionally avoid Louis. He doesn't necessarily do it on purpose, but because of his sudden...feelings, he does occasionally turn in the opposite direction in corridors, or occasionally makes sure he is sat far from him at lunch. Just occasionally. (He also knows how Louis’ company is sometimes more difficult to handle; now he is in sixth form and gets to wear his own clothes. His tight skinny jeans, t-shirts that show the muscles in his arms...)
Louis joins the school football team, and hangs around with his teammates every now and again once he has finished eating with his friends, and Harry can't help feeling a bit left out - especially for the fact that Tom is on the football team. He thinks he’s stupid for feeling this way however, as he can’t expect to stick with Louis like glue when he’s always trying to avoid him. (Harry does miss how close they were the previous year, after their holiday, but things change.)
One cold day, when the snow is falling lightly outside, he smiles at everyone before sitting down in the only spare seat left... opposite Louis. Not his favourite place to sit in his current situation. He knows he's practically staring already and-
"What's up, Haz? Have I got summat on my face?" Louis grins.
"Sorry, was just... out of it."
"Thought you were." He chuckles. "Becoming a bit of a habit of yours, right?"
Well, shit. Before Harry has a chance to panic at all, Louis is speaking again.
"Anyway lads, this weekend I'm having a party for-"
As Louis continues to talk about the birthday party he has planned for when his mum goes out on Saturday, Harry tries not to find himself transfixed by the movement of his mouth. He blinks continuously, trying to stop thinking about what Louis’ lips would feel like against his, before moving his train of thought to his beautiful eyes surrounded by surprisingly long lashes. When he realises he has been staring for too long, Louis catches his attention to ask whether he’d be attending, which Harry just replies to with a nod.
"There's not going to be any alcohol at this party, right Lou?"
Jay raises her eyebrows, but decides not to question it further. "I will have my mobile for the whole evening, so if you need me..."
"I know, Mum."
"Okay then, birthday boy." She ruffles his hair. "You've got Harry to look after you anyway."
Louis looks up from sorting out his hair and grins at Harry. "Of course."
"Right, I will see you later then boys. Everyone gone for one o'clock, okay?"
"Okay then. Happy birthday, love." Jay kisses the top of Louis' head and walks out to the hallway, putting on her coat and shoes and shouting for the twins (Lottie and Félicité have gone to friend’s houses, and the twins are going to Anne’s with Jay). "Be good!"
When they hear the front door slam, Louis turns to his curly haired friend and smiles.
"Well Harold, my friend," he slaps a hand down on Harry's shoulder, "I think it's almost party time."
Jess and Niall are the first to arrive at Louis' house, with an enthusiastic exclamation from the latter.
"Let's get this party started!"
Jess just giggles and hands a card to Louis, giving him her wishes and apologising in advance for Niall’s behaviour (he can become a bit of a party animal sometimes).
"Come on babe, let's dance!" Niall suddenly appears behind her and drags her through to the living room where Louis and Harry had pushed the sofas to the edge of the room to make space for a dance floor.
Zayn and Liam arrive next with a big gift bag between them and a card in Liam's hand. They both exclaim their ‘Happy Birthday’s and embrace him before handing over their gifts.
"Thanks guys," Louis smiles. "Snacks are on the table in there, but I don't know how many of them have been demolished by Nialler."
As Zayn and Liam walk through and Louis goes to follow, Harry hesitantly grabs the back of his t-shirt.
"What's up Haz?" Louis asks as he turns round.
"Do you mind if I give you my present later?"
"Of course, Haz. You didn't even have to-"
"Don't start that Lou. I've got you a present and you will accept it whether you like it or not."
"Fine, fine." Louis shakes his head but Harry can see the small smile forming on his face.
Harry looks away, giggling at his stupid best friend. They're sat on opposite ends of the living room, and the others are sat in between, laughing about some story about tigers that Niall is telling.
Harry shakes out his hair and looks up again, and Louis immediately catches his eye.
His mouth forms words which Harry struggles to understand at first, but he eventually realises he’s begging Harry to dance with him – as always.
When Harry continues to shake his head and mouth back his disagreement, Louis stands up and walks across to where Harry is sat on the window seat.
"How many more times are we going to be in this situation, my dear Haz?"
"However many more times it takes before you realise I don't enjoy dancing."
Louis shrugs. "I'm just going to stand here until you give in."
"How do you know I'll give in?"
Another shrug. "You always do."
Only for you.
Harry shakes his head indignantly once more.
Louis widens his eyes and sticks out his bottom lip. Harry curses inwardly; Louis may not be the best at 'puppy-dog-eyes', but Harry can never go against their will.
Harry closes his eyes for longer than what would be classed as a blink. "No, Lou."
"I'm really getting bored of hearing you say that."
Harry opens his eyes to see Louis stood with a hand on his hip, and his facial expression has changed to something more like impatience.
"Come on Haz, it's the song. The song!"
"Yay! I win!" Louis grabs Harry's hand and pulls him onto his feet, dragging him into the middle of the room.
Harry shuffles awkwardly from side to side for a while, as Louis dances properly in front of him. Eventually he rolls his eyes and pulls Harry closer towards him, whispering in his ear.
"Harold, I know for a fact you can dance better than that."
"And I know for a fact that this is my 'I'm-being-forced-to-dance-against-my-will' dancing."
Louis tuts obnoxiously, grabs his hand again, and he begins to spin them around in a circle, just like two years before. Harry eventually gives in and goes along with it, laughing and smiling. As the song reaches its final chorus, Zayn, Liam, Jess and Niall are also up on their feet and dancing, and Harry realises that it's the most fun he's had since summer.
As the song flows into the next, and the next, Harry eventually stops.
Louis comes to a halt a second after. "You alright Haz?"
"'M fine, just gonna get a drink." He has to speak loudly, as the room is slightly small and they have the music on at a high volume.
"I'll join ya!"
Harry walks down the hall into the kitchen, where a few bottles of soft drinks are by a pile of plastic cups. He pours himself a coke and raises an eyebrow at Louis.
"I'll have the same," he says.
Harry fills another cup with the sugary liquid and gestures to the patio door. "I'm just going to get some fresh air."
Louis nods and picks up his cup.
Harry notices that Louis is following him outside and wishes that he wasn't. He feels bad, but he thinks that he needs a moment to himself, as watching Louis dancing really wasn't good for him. The sensual moving of his hips, the flex of his biceps, his arse... none of it was good for Harry's mental health. He thinks for a moment about how - after Wednesday, when it's Louis' actual birthday - it will soon be that there is a three year age gap between them, and it feels almost strange to be having those sort of...feelings towards someone quite a bit older than him. Let alone his best friend.
It is quite cold outside - being winter, after all - and Harry notices that he can see his breath in front of him.
"So you didn't want alcohol at the party then?"
Louis takes a moment before replying, probably wondering why Harry has chosen this moment to ask a question like that. "Not really." He shrugs. "I always hear about parties that people in my year go to, and there's people being sick and passing out 'cause of alcohol and whatever. I didn't really want to spend my birthday party like that, so..."
Harry goes to say something before Louis continues.
"'Sides, you and Jess are only fourteen, Niall's only fifteen... I didn't want-"
"I knew it," Harry mutters.
"What?" Louis asks softly.
Harry doesn't reply, and continues to walk forward, shoving his hands in his pockets and standing next to the cherry tree by the hedge which formed the barrier between the garden and the field.
"Harry, knew what?" Louis asks, walking quickly to his side.
"That you have a problem with my age. That you don't want me as your friend anymore, like Tom."
"What? No H-" Louis reaches his hand out to touch Harry's arm, but Harry shrugs it off and steps away slightly.
"It didn't matter before that I was two years younger than you, did it? But now I embarrass you."
"You don't embarrass me, Haz."
"But I ruin everything! I'm only fourteen!" Harry knows he's being childlike, but he decides that it's about time.
"And that doesn't matter to me! You may be fourteen, but as I've said before, I forget that you're younger than me. You're my best friend, Haz, and you always will be." Louis puts his arm across Harry's shoulder and pulls him to his side, so he can't move away again. "I was going to say that I don't want you guys to feel uncomfortable or pressured by the rest of us. We're all friends here; age isn't an issue." Louis turns his head and kisses Harry's temple, and Harry sighs softly, wrapping his arms around Louis' waist. After a moment of standing there in a tight embrace, words fall from Harry's lips, which he doesn't completely think about.
"I love you, Lou."
It's not something they've never said to one another before, but normally, it's in a jokey, friendly way, and it's only on rare occasion that it would be said in serious circumstances.
"I love you too, Haz."
Harry sighs again, wishing that it was meant in a different way.
After a moment, he feels two fingertips beneath his chin, raising his eyes to Louis', which he sees sparkling slightly in the patio lights.
"Has everything been okay?" Louis asks quietly.
"What do you mean?"
"Recently you seem to have been trying to avoid me, and I'm worried that I've done something to offend you, or that something bad has happened."
Harry hesitates. "It's nothing bad, I promise."
"So there is something?"
"Maybe." Harry smiles slightly for a brief second before it falls from his face. Butterflies explode simultaneously from the cocoons in his stomach, as his palms start to sweat and his heart beats a mile a minute.
Louis' face is definitely getting closer.
Louis' face is getting closer and not moving to the side for a whisper.
Louis' lips are gradually approaching Harry's.
Harry has no idea how to kiss.
He can feel his lips quivering as all of these thoughts and realisations hit him at once. However, before he can think anything else, slightly chapped lips are covering his, and Harry is flying.
He doesn't know how to describe the feeling. It's a combination of relief at fulfilling a wish, surprise at what it's like and overwhelming happiness at the fact that it's happening.
Louis is kissing him.
Harry's brain finally kicks into gear. Kiss him back! It screams. Just as he thinks about doing so, Louis is pulling away. Harry realises then how short the kiss was, and how many thoughts he had managed to cram in before even thinking about reciprocating.
"S-shit Haz, I'm sorry, I-" Louis whispers, lips still only centimetres from Harry's.
"Please -" Everything's a mush in Harry's head as he tries to formulate a sentence. He shakes his head. "Please don't stop."
A grin pulls at the corners of Louis' mouth before he is hurrying it back to Harry's. Harry is thinking clearly now; he immediately tries to imitate the way Louis' lips are moving against his. Louis must know that Harry is a virgin when it comes to kissing - well, a virgin in everything like that, but whatever - as he slows the kiss down, and Harry runs his hands up Louis' chest to clasp together behind his neck. When Harry's lower lip gets caught between Louis' teeth, he gasps as Louis nibbles it softly, tugging at Louis' hair, earning a quiet groan in return.
Louis' lips are snatched away from Harry's, and he immediately feels lost. They both turn, Louis' arm still across his shoulder, and Harry's arms round Louis' neck, to see Niall standing on the patio.
"Alright, Nialler?" Louis asks, dropping his arm as Harry does the same.
"Yeah mate, just wanted to let you know that some of your other guests have arrived."
"Oh right, I'll be there in a sec." Louis turns back to look at Harry. "We'll talk later, yeah? Once everyone's gone?"
"Okay," Harry replies. "I've gotta give you your present anyway, right?"
"Of course." Louis grins and looks back over to where Niall is rocking backwards and forwards on his feet with his hands in his pockets - luckily not looking in their direction - before reaching out for Harry’s hand and squeezing it. "I'll see you later."
Harry feels so happy that he could burst - not only for the fact that Louis kissed him, but also for how they both seemed to just get on with it, and not seem too worried about moving from friendship to... perhaps something else. Harry doesn't want to think about that yet though, but he does start to wonder how long Louis may have been waiting to do that, or what he might say later, or...
Harry looks back up to the house where Niall is still standing, waiting.
"Oh praise the lord, Harry Styles is alive!"
Harry scoffs and starts walking up. "I wasn't out if it for that long."
"Louis was right - it really is becoming a habit of yours."
"What do you expect from me if one of my dreams has just been fulfilled?" Harry raises an eyebrow when he finally reaches his friend.
"So Simon Cowell finally called you? About time! Hey, I could be the guitarist and-"
"Shut up, Ni."
"Sorry man. I'm really happy for you." He pulls Harry into a quick hug and pats him on the back. "Can I be your best man?"
"Piss off Niall." Harry pushes him away, laughing.
"So you'll really pick Li over me? How depressing."
Harry and Niall eventually venture back inside, where Liam, Zayn and Jess are in the kitchen, holding drinks and talking quietly.
"Hey! You've been out there for a while. What's up?" Zayn comments.
"We've just been discussing the Larry wedding," Niall says casually. (Another one of his silly mash-up names. Harry doesn't see the point.)
"What? Have I missed something here?" Liam asks.
"Well we-" Harry starts.
"Harry and Louis kissed!" Niall interrupts excitedly in an over-exaggerated whisper.
Soon Harry is dragged into a massive group hug by everyone in the kitchen, including Niall, who bounds in next to Jess.
"What happens now? Aren't you gonna go through there and ask him to dance or something?" Liam says.
"More like snog his face off," Zayn counters.
"I think he's done that already." Niall smirks.
"Exactly how much did you see Niall?" Harry questions warily.
"Enough." Niall grins.
"Anyway, what are you going to do Harry? There's-" Liam suddenly stops speaking.
"Well it appears that Lou has invited the guys he plays football with...and that includes Tom," Zayn provides.
"He's invited Tom?" Niall says, annoyed.
"Yeah... he shouldn't bother you though. It'll be fine." Liam reassures the two younger boys.
"I can't exactly go in there and... act 'coupley' then, can I?" Harry sighs, sitting down at the table and resting his chin on his palms. "May as well just stay in here for the rest of the night."
"Don't be a drama queen, Haz. I say you go in there and drag Louis onto the dance floor like he always does with you, and-"
"Grind on him 'til he comes in his pants." Niall finishes Zayn's sentence, and after a beat, Zayn nods in approval. Harry pulls a face which practically mirrors Liam and Jess's disgruntled expressions.
"And, to go against my wonderful boyfriend here," Jess throws a fake smile in Niall's direction, who shrugs innocently, "I say you go in there, sit with us and enjoy yourself. If he doesn't come over, well so what? You can talk later, right?"
Harry thinks it over for a moment before standing up, grabbing a plastic cup from the side and drinking its contents - ignoring Zayn's sound of protest - before walking through to the living room.
It is busy.
There are four girls stood on the makeshift 'dance floor' dancing and chatting to each other, two other girls sat on the window seat with cups in their hands, and a group of lads sat on the floor and on the sofa, all of them surrounding Louis.
Basically, there is nowhere for the rest of them to sit.
Zayn places his hands on Harry's shoulder and guides him to the free corner, which is practically opposite where all of the lads are sat on the sofas. Harry sits right in the corner, with Zayn and Liam to his left, Jess and Niall to his right.
"So you know some of these people?" Harry asks.
"I know names and faces." Liam shrugs.
"And I know that a few of them are complete and utter twats," Zayn adds.
Harry looks at Zayn, questioning with his eyes, but Zayn waves it off, saying that it's nothing. He explains that the girls sat on the window sill are called Eleanor and Danielle - also from their year - and the four girls on the dance floor are from the year below.
"Don't know their names though," he says, sipping his drink. "Just know that they cling to some of the lads from the team like they're gods or something."
Harry nods and looks down into his plastic cup, swilling his coke around before taking a sip. He looks up and catches Louis' eye, who grins at him and winks. Harry can feel his cheeks reddening slightly as he looks down again fiddling with the hem of his checked shirt. He glances up again to see Louis still watching him, a soft smile on his lips.
"Sorry," he mouths.
Harry pulls an emphasised expression of confusion to ask Louis why he is apologising.
Louis answers by picking up a can of cider offered to him and taking a long swig of it, before turning back to his friends and laughing. The four girls from the dance floor have now tottered over in their heels, joining the large group, as well as the girls from the window sill, leaving Harry and the rest of Louis' closest friends sat in the corner like rejects.
So that's what he is sorry for.
The party ends earlier than expected.
Louis gets everyone out of the house by midnight, and Liam and Zayn stay to help with cleaning up.
Harry is in the kitchen, trying hard to not to earwig on the conversation happening between Louis, Liam and Zayn in the living room. Most of it he can’t quite understand, as it is muffled through the door, but a sudden outburst from Zayn makes him realise that they’re arguing.
"Well maybe we shouldn't have stayed," he snaps, "because you've literally been an arsehole tonight and completely ignored us - your best friends - in favour of getting shitfaced with some twats you play football with. I'm surprised that we didn't leave much earlier, to be honest. But hey, we're good friends, so we've decided to stick around and help you tidy up."
Harry is slightly surprised by that, but he agrees with what Zayn said – Louis has been a dick tonight.
He doesn’t hear what Zayn says next, but then a massive yell comes from Louis which would be difficult to miss.
"You don't know shit about me and Harry!"
His voice is slightly slurred from the alcohol he has consumed – even though he had said earlier that he wasn’t into that; Harry had an idea that he was lying a bit – but the message comes across loud and clear: they’re talking about him now.
The voices turn muffled again, and some of the things said in Louis’ voice appear to be apologetic; probably saying sorry for his behaviour.
When it continues to be more difficult to determine what is being said, he tries to focus on the task at hand – getting the sticky remains of fizzy drinks off the counters. He scrubs and scrubs for about a minute until he hears Liam exclaim:
“But Niall told us that you two kissed!”
Harry gives up his pretence of being good and respective of his friends’ private conversation, throws down the cloth in his hand and leaves the kitchen, walking down the short hallway to the living room. He pauses just out of the way of the empty doorway to listen.
“So what are you going to do about Harry?” Liam asks.
“I don't want anything to come out of it,” Louis replies, sounding strangely more sober. “It was just a kiss. It's not like I want to be with him; I just want to pretend it didn't happen."
“Pretend it didn’t happen?”
The final squeak before the lengthy silence didn't come from Zayn. It wasn't an enthusiastic sound from Liam.
Nobody had seen Harry when he stepped into the doorway at the beginning of Louis’ answer to Liam’s question.
"Oh, hi Harry, finished in the kitchen?"
Harry ignores Liam's question, feeling the tears pricking at his eyelids as he continues to stare at Louis, who is watching Harry with a similar expression. Louis' mouth is slightly parted and he feels his breathing rate increase as panic washes over him.
"Pretend it didn't happen?" Harry repeats, blinking.
"You don't understand, I-"
"What's not to understand, Louis?"
"Please-" Louis pleads, stepping towards the boy in the doorway.
"I'm going home," Harry whispers, turning on his heel and going upstairs to get his stuff, leaving the other boys in the living room.
A few moments later, Harry is back at the bottom of the stairs, with a messenger bag thrown over his shoulder, pulling on his tatty black Converse. He can hear Liam and Zayn arguing with Louis in hushed tones; telling him to go and speak to Harry.
Harry doesn't stay to listen to much of it, however; he is soon slamming the front door behind him and walking down the garden path to the gate, trying to control the tears and sobs that want to escape from him.
Harry stops in his tracks, lets out a huff of breath and turns around, closing the gate on the latch, trying not to think that he's being over-dramatic and secretly wanting this all to play out like a cheesy romantic film.
The two boys stand and look at each other for a moment with the gate between them; Harry could easily just turn around and leave, but part of him wishes to stay so Louis can explain.
"Haz... I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what? Lying to me about getting drunk? Talking about what happened behind my back? Kissing me?" Harry's voice breaks on the last sentence.
"Everything. All of it, Harry. I'm so sorry."
"Everything?" Harry squeaks.
Louis stares Harry straight in the eye as he whispers: "Everything."
Harry looks back for a moment, until he feels the tears threatening. "I don't accept your apologies. Especially the one about kissing me, because I know it's bullshit. Why would you kiss me like that and then want to pretend it didn't happen?"
Louis' mouth is opening and closing like a fish.
"It's 'cause you don't want your teammates to know you're gay, right? And you especially don't want them to know you kissed your fourteen year old best friend!" He reaches inside his bag and pulls out a red envelope. "Here's your present." He pushes the envelope into Louis' chest, turns on his heel and walks away.
It’s the start of the Christmas holidays the Monday after the weekend of Louis’ party, and Harry is dreading Thursday. Thursday means Christmas; Christmas means having the Tomlinsons over for dinner and presents.
Every year, it is tradition for Harry and Louis to make each other presents. Harry has a collection of childish drawings, finger puppets and home-made CDs hidden at the back of his wardrobe (which he will not admit to crying over whenever he and Louis have an argument).
This year, Harry knows there is a wrapped piece of cardboard in his wardrobe, covered in pictures of the two boys, right from when they were small up to just the other week, when they joked about with Harry’s camera in front of the mirror (on a day when Harry could keep himself in check with Louis around).
Harry already feels butterflies in his stomach at the thought of giving it to Louis, but he knows, deep down, that he will go through with it – even after what has happened.
Harry has opened up the text conversation on his phone between him and Louis a few times since the party, thinking about sending a message, but he can never pluck up the courage to do it. Instead, he finds himself scrolling back through every silly conversation they’ve had between them. He doesn’t know why he does it; it’s just a constant reminder of how much he doesn’t want to lose his best friend - which he really doesn’t need right now.
You see, Harry keeps telling himself that his main emotion is anger towards Louis for lying to him, and that’s why he won’t talk to him and basically doesn’t feel like seeing him again – which seems stupid now, because it’s not as if he can tell Louis to not drink alcohol - but the thing is, he knows, deep down, that he is mainly just upset because of the feeling of rejection.
He was rejected by the person who he really thought could love him, and that takes a lot to heal.
The first couple of days pass extremely sluggishly, with Harry often feeling very bored and finding himself bugging Gemma, playing pointless games on the computer or texting Niall, Liam or Zayn.
On Wednesday morning, the phone beeps with a complaint of low battery, before it buzzes with a text, waking Harry up from his lengthy lie-in.
From: Lou :)
Thnks so mch for the tickets, Curly. Make sure 10th May is freeee :) xxxx
Harry sighs, his fingertips hovering just above the touch screen, thinking about what he could say to reply. When he draws a blank, he huffs out a breath and locks the phone again, planning on just letting it die.
Harry hears loud exclamations of merry joy erupting from the hallway, where his mum has just opened the door to let in their guests.
“Let me come and help you in the kitchen,” he hears Jay say. “I’ve brought parsnips!”
The adults walk straight past where Harry is sat on the sofa, studying his new iPad carefully.
“Look! Harry has an iPad!”
The curly haired lad soon finds himself surrounded by four girls, all fighting for their turn.
“Hey, hey. Be careful with it!” Harry exclaims jokily, handing it cautiously into the hands of Lottie who accepts it with a grin. “Supervise,” Harry tells her, a dimple appearing on his cheek (the first time it has happened since Louis kissed him – the girls can always put a smile on his face). Lottie carries the device across to the other sofa, and her sisters follow like shadows.
After a moment, Louis plops down into the space beside Harry. “Hi,” he says.
There’s a beat before Harry replies. “Hi.”
The two boys sit in silence, watching the commotion happening over the iPad as they each take it in turns playing on the few games Harry had already installed.
“Harry,” Louis says when the tension has built to a painful level.
“Yeah?” Harry responds, trying his hardest to stay calm.
“Can’t we just forget what happened? Even if it’s just for today?”
Harry actually stops and considers saying ‘yes’, thinking about how much easier the Christmas celebrations could be if the two boys were getting along. He opens his mouth to voice the positive, before snapping it closed and shaking his head. “I’ll never forget. You hurt me.” He is vaguely aware of how ridiculously dramatic he sounds, but he doesn’t care. He’s speaking the truth and that’s all that matters.
Louis twists in his seat and tugs and Harry’s sleeve to get him to look at him properly. “I know I did, Harry. I was such a tw-“ he pauses, conscious of the younger children in the room, “idiot. I wouldn’t ever hurt you on purpose, you know that. I was stupid, and I haven’t even forgiven myself yet.”
“Then why should I?” Harry snaps, turning away from Louis’ eyes so he wouldn’t drown in the honest pools of blue.
“I’m not saying forgive me – I’m saying can we just try and go back?”
“Look, Lou.” Harry turns to face him again, inwardly scolding himself because even through his anger, he is still calling him by his nickname. “I will be civil with you today, and that is it. I will not be your friend, let alone your best friend. We will be civil... acquaintances.”
“Is everything okay?” Lottie interrupts, raising her eyebrows pointedly and directing the boys’ attention to the other people in the room.
“Everything’s fine,” Harry mumbles, standing up and leaving the room.
Louis finds Harry in his room about an hour and a half later, when he is sent to fetch him for dinner.
Harry is sat on the other side of the wall, holding a cushion to his chest with both of his headphones in, listening to a certain CD which he had been given on this day two years ago. He doesn’t hear the voice, or the knock on the door, so he recoils in shock slightly when the door opens and a brown-haired boy pokes his head through.
Harry yanks the headphones out of his ears, pushes the pillow away from him and jumps up from the bed. Louis watches him with a slight shine of amusement in his eyes, until the sound of a song by The Fray starts playing from the laptop speakers, and his face drops.
Harry dives across to the bed again, pausing the track. He didn’t realise that he had pulled the headphones out of the socket when he had moved so suddenly before.
“What’s up?” Harry asks when everything is sorted.
“Uh, dinner’s ready,” Louis replies, and Harry notices a slight pinkness on his cheeks. “Your mum sent me to get you. Was that really-?”
“Let’s go, then,” Harry interrupts, already slightly embarrassed, knowing that Louis had seen him listening to a CD that he had made and hugging a pillow like a lovesick teenager (which he is).
“S-sure,” Louis stammers, gesturing for Harry to leave first.
Dinner is wonderful – despite a certain member of the company. Luckily, the way everyone sits means that the boys end up being opposite ends of the table from one another (which their parents raise eyebrows at each other about, but don’t say a word).
They eat a delicious turkey dinner, pull crackers between them, tell ridiculous jokes and wear paper crowns. It is a typical Styles-Tomlinson Christmas, and Harry tries to ignore the occasional awkwardness of when his eyes meet Louis’.
“Mum, would you like some help clearing up?” Harry asks once he is with his mum in the kitchen.
“I’m fine, thank you, H. Why don’t you go through and sit with the others in the living room?” Anne suggests. “You’ve hardly seen Louis today.”
Harry holds back a deep sigh, still unwilling to explain to his mum what happened; it would definitely worry her. He turns on his heel, walking back to the living room where everyone is crowded round the tree. It must be gift-giving time soon, as it was tradition for the swapping of gifts between families to happen between the main course and dessert. He slumps down on the sofa, happy to see that Louis isn’t in the room – yet. He tugs down the sleeves of his reindeer jumper – they always end up being too short in the arms – and focuses on the Christmas film playing on the telly.
Just as Harry finds himself getting into the movie – Elf, one of his favourites – he feels a presence beside him, followed by a whisper in his ear.
“It’s nearly time for gift-giving... can I give you mine later?”
The curly haired boy rolls his eyes before muttering out of the corner of his mouth: “If you must.”
Harry receives a pair of woolly socks, a DVD, a 3D pop-up Christmas card (from Félicité, who explained that they learned how to make them at school) two drawings of Santa and his reindeer (from the twins) and a small box of chocolates (from Lottie, who is proud of her ability to save her pocket money to buy everyone presents). He accepts all of the gifts very gratefully, spending time using as many different adjectives to compliment the creative presents.
As everyone else continues to open presents and celebrate merrily, Louis grabs Harry’s arm, tugging him out of the living room and up the stairs when everyone is too pre-occupied to notice.
“So,” Harry says, placing a fake smile on his face. “What have you got for me, Louis?”
“Have you got anything for me?” Louis mumbles, looking down at the snowman socks on his feet.
Harry hesitates before nodding the affirmative, walking across to his wardrobe and pulling out the large wrapped gift. When he turns back to the other boy in the room, he notices a small wrapped square in his hand. Louis holds it out awkwardly at arm’s length, and Harry takes it from him, handing over his own gift.
Their eyes meet and Harry has to hold back giddy – slightly awkward - laughter, which becomes even more difficult when he sees Louis trying to do the same.
Suddenly, soft giggles burst out of each of their lips, which Harry doesn’t quite understand. He’s stood in a room with someone he’s supposed to be angry with, but here he is, laughing stupidly. The problem is, Louis always has this effect on him; his presence alone just makes Harry happy – makes him laugh, makes him smile...
“Who’s going first?” Louis asks once the pointless laughter dies down.
“You can,” Harry replies, gesturing for the two of them to sit down on the edge of the bed.
Louis looks ever so slightly confused by Harry’s change in mood, but sits carefully beside him, gripping the large rectangular gift in both hands. He bites his lip and carefully starts removing the decorated paper; Harry watches intently.
“Oh, Harry.” Louis pulls the collage out and holds it up. “This is... amazing.” He studies every part of it, looking and reacting to every picture; cringing over baby photos and laughing over silly ones. “Thank you. Thank you so much, Haz.” He hesitates before pulling Harry into a tight hug. “And thank you for the concert tickets. I’m taking you, no matter what you say.”
Harry smiles genuinely now, his dimples making a slight appearance.
“I knew you couldn’t be mad at me for too long,” Louis then says, and Harry immediately pulls back out of the hug.
“I am mad at you.”
“But...I thought that-“
“No, Louis. I know I’m here smiling and laughing with you, but that’s because I can’t help it. It’s not my fucking fault that you make me this way.”
Louis’ eyes widen, and after a moment, he looks pointedly at the parcel on Harry’s knee. Harry follows his gaze, shakes his head and picks up the square, quickly tearing off the paper and seeing a disc in a plastic case.
“Put it in your laptop and find out,” Louis answers, a soft smile playing at the corners of his lips, despite Harry’s mini outburst.
Harry reaches behind him and grabs the laptop from where it was left after listening to music earlier. He puts the disc into the tray and clicks on the link for it to play when the option appears on the screen. After a moment, it turns black apart from white text which reads:
Merry Christmas Harry!
I decided to make a video for you this year, about all of the times we’ve had together and all of the memories we have shared.
Harry watches, transfixed, as many images and short videos fly on and off the screen, having to hold back laughter sometimes and tears at others. He can’t quite believe that Louis has spent so much time over making this for him (and how skilled he has become since he started doing ICT A Level) and he soon finds himself crying – against his own permission.
“Just keep watching.”
Harry stares at the screen right through to the end, until more writing appears.
I hope you enjoyed!
Lots of love,
From Louis xxxxx
Harry holds his breath and finally turns to face the boy sat beside him. “I can’t believe you did that,” he says.
“Sorry.” Louis shrugs, a faint smile on his face.
Harry is practically speechless. He feels frozen to the spot as well, as he really doesn’t know what to say or do. Eventually he decides, and puts the laptop on the floor before throwing his arms around Louis’ neck. The tears flow freely now, and Harry sobs into the other boy’s neck.
Louis hushes the curly haired boy, and rubs his back comfortingly.
“Why d’you do that, Lou?” Harry eventually lets out.
“It’s tradition, right?”
“Thank you,” Harry squeaks.
Louis just pulls the other boy closer and murmurs, “You’re welcome,” into his hair.
The rest of Christmas Day soon evaporates, and the Tomlinsons are leaving. Harry gives everyone a hug – including Louis (who still isn’t forgiven, but he is in good enough books to deserve a hug) – and wishes them Merry Christmas one last time. It is not long after they’ve left that Harry goes to bed, his mind buzzing with thousands of thoughts that he can’t make any sense of. He doesn’t know what exact emotion he is feeling towards Louis anymore. Part of him insists to never forgive him, no matter what, but another part is starting to feel like he deserves forgiveness after all the lovely things he’s done. It’s just all so confusing.
He hopes, that by New Year’s Eve, when it is the turn of the Tomlinson’s party, everything will be much clearer.
“Harry! Are you up?”
“Yeah!” Harry replies, jumping around his bedroom with only one leg in his skinny jeans, trying to tug them onto his legs.
“Can I come in?”
“Just a second.” Harry finally manages to get both legs in and the button done up. “Come in!”
Anne pokes her head round the door. “Hi, it’s ju-“ she stops herself, staring at Harry’s attire. “What are you wearing?”
Harry shrugs, embarrassed. “Just trying stuff on for the party tonight.”
“I think those jeans may have shrunk in the wash, love.”
“They’re fine, Mum,” Harry argues, attempting to pull them up. “What’s up, anyway?”
“I just came to make sure that you were awake. I know what you’re like with your one o’clock lie-ins.”
Harry rolls his eyes. “Well, I’m up now,” he points out, hinting for his Mum to leave.
“Right, right.” She walks across to the door and opens it. “Do you really need to sort out your clothes now?”
Harry shrugs again.
Anne sighs, leaves the room and closes the door behind her, baffled by her son’s sudden change in character.
He’s growing up.
From: Lou :)
Will I see u later? xx
From: Lou :)
Gd can’t wait :) xxxx
Harry checks his phone again and finds himself smiling just because he’d received another text from his sort of best friend, who was still sort of unforgiven.
He shoves the device into his pocket when he is shouted from downstairs to get ready to leave. He pulls on his jacket as he hurries down the stairs, stopping at the bottom to shove his feet into his shoes and tie the laces.
“Ooh, aren’t you looking fancy!” Gemma exclaims. “Anyone would think you were going to try and impress someone...”
“Shut up,” Harry grumbles as they leave the house. “Haven’t you got a bigger party to be getting to?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t start ‘til nine, so you’re stuck with me until then! Aren’t you lucky?” Gemma reaches across and ruffles Harry’s hair.
“Hey, I just styled that!”
“Honey, you probably just shook your head twenty times.”
Louis isn’t at the party.
The first thing Harry does when they arrive at the Tomlinson’s is look for the blue eyed boy but he isn’t anywhere. He considers asking Jay, but something holds him back, so he goes for the next best option.
“Louis’ gone to another party. Sorry, H.” She doesn’t even look up from where she is painting her fingernails. “Here, will you just hold this for a second? I don’t want to spill it on the carpet.”
So Harry spends the next half hour holding a bottle of purple nail polish which Lottie dips her brush into every now and again. He doesn’t particularly mind – he gets on with Lottie well, and it’s not as if he has anything else to do, now that he knows Louis isn’t present. Downstairs would mostly be adults – as it’s never just the Styles’ and Tomlinsons on New Year’s – and just a few kids, who would probably fall asleep hours before the countdown.
“Did you like your Christmas present?” Lottie asks suddenly.
“Oh yeah. Can’t beat a good ol’ box of chocolates!”
The girl laughs. “No, silly. Louis’ present.”
“Yes, that!” She grins. “You know, he spent ages sitting in his room, clicking about on the computer, just trying to get everything perfect. I asked to see it, but he said that you needed to see it first.” She pauses and her eyes widen. “We should go see it now! I’ve waited patiently enough!”
Harry just watches as she rants on, confused by her interest.
“I know the password for his computer; he gave it to me for emergencies.” Emergencies?
She jumps up onto her feet and grabs Harry’s hand, dragging him down the hall to Louis’ bedroom. Harry knows it’s a bad idea.
“We shouldn’t,” he says, stopping them outside the door. “Why don’t you ask him tomorrow, when he’s home?”
Lottie just rolls her eyes. “Don’t be a loser, H.” She waltzes straight into the room, pulling Harry behind her. She rushes over to the computer and perches on the crimson swivel chair, already twisting side to side as the device warms up.
Harry spends the whole time looking back at the door nervously, just waiting for Louis to barge in and tell them to get out.
“Harry’s movie, final product,” Lottie reads. “This must be it!”
Harry turns back to the screen, butterflies fluttering about at the thought of seeing it again. He hadn’t brought himself to watch it since the first time; it didn’t feel right without Louis there.
The smile doesn’t leave his face throughout the whole thing, and he laughs at all of the silly comments Lottie makes, her little giggle at the end of each one being very contagious.
When it is over, and the final message appears on the screen, Harry moves his eyes to Lottie, expecting her to say one last thing. She doesn’t however, and continues to stare at the video.
“Harry, look.” She nods at the screen and clicks pause.
And Harry, I can’t believe I did what I did.
I made a silly mistake because I was in denial, and I’m sorry.
I want to be with you, if you’ll let me?
With so much love it cannot be put into words,
Your Louis xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
P.s. I lied. The kiss meant everything to me.
Harry swallows and swallows many times, trying to clear the uncomfortable lump in his throat. Every possible emotion fills his entire being and he can’t quite control himself. A silly part of him hopes Louis’ other party is close enough so that if he went up to the roof and screamed “YES LOUIS TOMLINSON, LET ME LOVE YOU!” Louis would hear him.
Another part is just praying he sees Louis tonight so he can snog his face off.
A pathetic part feels like he might be in love already.
Can he go and get drunk and mumble to everyone about ‘his Louis’? (Too young.)
Can he run out onto the street with no guidance and find ‘his Louis’? (Too dumb.)
His thoughts are soon running away from him and the only thing there to show Lottie that he is still conscious is the blinding smile appearing on his face.
“Uh, Harry?” Lottie waves a hand in front of his eyes.
“Hey, Lottie. You okay?” Harry says brightly.
“Are you drunk?” she asks nervously.
There’s a moment before Harry shakes his head. “Maybe it’s the nail varnish fumes.”
“I’m a prisoner!”
When Harry announces this, he is told to stop being so dramatic and go and sit on the sofa with the ‘other children’. He snorts and flounces away to flop down onto the floor, because fuck it; he doesn’t have to do what his mum says.
He knows that he shouldn’t have had numerous sips of the WKD Blue that Gemma had offered him just before she left; he is such a lightweight – tipsy after one Alcopop. (Plus he is totally contradicting himself about the whole alcohol thing.)
Even though he’s not really tipsy; he just likes to think that he is. It makes him sound more ‘grown up’. He wishes that he could wear a neon sign around his neck that says ‘I’m tipsy’ (‘and Louis loves me’).
Being a ‘prisoner’, however, made him feel quite a bit more childish.
You see, he had asked his mum – nicely, may he add – whether he could go to the party Louis was at, because he needed to talk to him. Anne simply said no, and wouldn’t listen to Harry’s whines of protest.
So now he’s stuck here, in the living room with a load of half-asleep kids – most of them below the age of ten.
At least he’s older than them.
“Half an hour to go guys! Thirty minutes until midnight!”
Everyone starts moving outside, where a portable telly has been set up just outside the kitchen window, showing London on New Year’s. Everyone at the party also has a Chinese lantern to release at midnight, each with their resolutions attached. Harry stares at them all lined up, trying to think about what his resolution could be. He sips his cherryade in thought, constantly looking to the door behind him in hope that Louis will return.
After the twelfth time, he decides to stop torturing himself.
To: Lou :)
I need to talk to you. Can you come home please? .xxx
After a moment, he hears a phone go off right behind him. He spins around in foolish hope, seeing a friend of his mum’s checking her phone.
“Stupid coincidence,” he mumbles to himself, turning back to look at the rows of lanterns.
Just over twenty minutes later, Harry hears a shout and looks in all directions, huffing when he can’t see the source of the call.
“Straight ahead of you!” the same familiar voice yells.
The curly haired lad squints into the darkness and sees a silhouette standing the other side of the hedge, in the field. He blinks and starts walking towards it, dodging the lanterns without really thinking about it. Soon he is running, desperate to get to the boy on the other side.
“Lou,” he breathes when he gets there. “Thank God you came.”
“What’s the matter? Has something happened?” the other boy asks in a panic.
“It’s nothing bad, I promise.”
“So there is something?”
“Maybe.” Harry can’t hold back the smile at the memory of the same conversation occurring just over a week and a half ago. Seeing that Louis is expecting him to carry on – clearly not noticing the similarity – Harry adds, “I saw it.”
Harry takes a deep breath, wishing he could have a bit more courage.
“The ending. Of the video?”
Louis opens his mouth to say something, but he immediately closes it again and his shoulders slump forward. Harry isn’t sure if it’s just the fairy lights in the garden that make him look pale.
The chatter increases in volume as everyone gathers around the television, but the boys don’t move, both of them knowing that their conversation is far from finished.
They barely register the movement going on behind them; their eyes remain fixed on one another as Harry awaits a response.
Louis does eventually move, taking a deep breath before bowing his head and walking away, along the hedge.
“Two more minutes guys!”
Harry watches as Louis breaks into a run before he spins back to where everyone is huddled together, glasses of champagne in their hands, ready to be drunk when the next year begins. He glances back over his shoulder to see that Louis has now disappeared, and feels an ache in his stomach that he tells himself isn’t anything to do with being upset or disappointed.
He walks back up to where all of the party guests are stood surrounding the television, waiting for the fireworks to be released in central London. A large ‘60’ appears on a hologram projected onto Big Ben, and everyone becomes hushed as the numbers begin to count down. A glass of Buck’s Fizz is placed into his hand, and he sends a grateful nod in the direction of the giver.
He takes a couple of sips before setting it down on the windowsill beside a flowerbox, not particularly enjoying the taste.
Harry is taken by surprise when a hand grabs his wrist, and he turns to see Louis stood behind him, smiling softly. He tilts his head in the direction of the house in a way which says ‘follow me’, which Harry does, assisted by the grip Louis has now moved to his hand, tangling their fingers together. A spark goes off inside him as he thinks about this being something he’s wanted for such a long time.
The boys hurry through the now-empty house to the stairs.
They sprint up to Louis’ room, and Louis kicks open the door, squeezing Harry’s hand.
He leads Harry to the centre of the room, and the two lads stand directly in front of the window, the light from the moon being the only thing letting them see each other. Harry is grateful; it means he can see the pure feeling in Louis’ bright eyes as he cradles Harry’s face in his palms.
“Three...two...one...Happy New Year!”
Louis’ lips capture Harry’s in an overly passionate kiss, and Harry can’t do anything but stand there and take it, completely overwhelmed. His arms lay limp by his sides – when he really wants them round Louis’ petite waist – and his lips stay unmoving – when he desperately wants to kiss back.
“Harry,” Louis mumbles, pulling back slightly. “What’s wrong?”
Harry pauses for a moment, unable to find the words to respond.
Instead he says nothing and pulls Louis back to him, gripping the downy hairs at the back of his neck.
Louis groans softly in surprise, one of his hands moving to tangle in Harry’s fly-away hair, and the other sliding down to his waist.
Harry can feel his lips turning tingly, and that sensation simply explodes when Louis runs his tongue across the seam of Harry’s mouth. The younger boy moans quite loudly at that, silently begging the more experienced lad to do it again. He does, thankfully, and Harry takes the opportunity to open his mouth to let the other boy’s tongue sneak inside. A harmonious groan echoes through the room when their tongues meet and Harry just lets Louis take dominance straight away, without fighting back. He grips Louis’ hair tighter, like a lifeline. Fireworks from across the field begin shooting up into the air (slightly delayed) and everything – Louis’ hands in his hair, on his waist, his tongue moving sensually around his mouth – just falls into perspective.
“Lou,” Harry says, pulling away. The other boy just takes the opportunity to start leaving butterfly kisses down his neck.
“What’s...up...?” he mumbles between soft touches of lips to skin.
Harry tries to steady his breathing. “Is this for real? Or are you just going to say it doesn’t mean anything again?”
Louis leaves one last kiss before looking straight into Harry’s eyes. “You saw the message, right?” He pauses as Harry nods. “Well, I wrote that yesterday. It’s stupid really; I was just so annoyed with myself and I needed to let it out, so I tagged that onto the end of the version I gave to you, just picturing what life could be like now if that was what you saw at Christmas. I don’t know why I did it.” He strokes his hand through the other boy’s curls. “So fucking glad I did though. And bloody glad you saw it... hey, how did you see it?”
“Uh...” Harry stalls, not wanting to place blame, but seeing no other alternative. “Lottie.”
Louis sighs. “Well, I should thank her, I guess, but I will be changing my password.”
Harry chuckles before he notices Louis’ eyes drifting across to the window; the lanterns are starting to fly past.
“Come on,” Harry says. “We need to write one.”
He grabs the hand that Louis has on his waist and begins dragging him downstairs and outside to where pretty much everyone is still watching the television, and only a few are writing messages for their lanterns. Harry picks up a pen from the table along with one of the small tags to be tied on, inwardly smiling like a fool at the feeling of Louis stroking his thumb backwards and forwards across their intertwined hands. They sit down on the patio steps, debating over what to write. Louis says they shouldn’t bother writing resolutions, as he can never keep them. Harry disagrees and says they should write a joint resolution which means a lot to them.
When everyone else is ready, and the rest of the lanterns have been lit, the boys stand together, holding hands tight between their bodies – they’re not quite keen on the idea of everyone seeing them together like this yet – and watching as the decorated papers carried by flames take off into the sky, flickering softly against the dark canvas dotted with stars. Louis squeezes Harry’s hand when they see theirs gently floating upwards, with a message that reads:
Our Resolution: To not let go.
Harry & Louis
The final week of the Christmas holidays passes depressingly quickly; by the end of it, Harry really doesn’t want to return to school.
The boys met up on the second of January, when the heavy snow from New Year’s Day had passed, leaving a fluffy white blanket on the ground. Louis had pulled the younger boy into an embrace as soon as they reached each other in the field, murmuring his greeting into his neck.
When he pulled back, Harry had barely registered what he was doing before he somehow built up enough confidence to drag Louis back in so he could kiss him. Louis let him do so before pulling back to explain why he wanted to meet up.
“You didn’t answer,” he said, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket.
Harry’s face mirrored what he was thinking. Answer what?
Louis simply handed the piece of paper over.
“There’s a question on there which you haven’t specifically answered yet,” Louis explained, and when Harry looked up from the note, he saw that the older boy was smiling.
Soon Harry was smiling too, as he nodded and spoke the affirmative.
Louis cheered loudly, picked Harry up and whirled him around, exclaiming his happiness… before dropping the boy into a pile of deep snow. Harry had scowled before attempting to throw a snowball at his boyfriend(?) and missing, as Louis dived dramatically to dodge it.
That’s when the one-on-one snowball fight began.
Once it was over (and Harry had surrendered) the boys walked aimlessly around the field with their hands entwined, and Harry couldn’t quite believe his luck.
“Does this mean you’re my… boyfriendnow?” Harry had asked nervously, once he’d finally plucked up enough courage. He looks back now and hopes he didn’t sound like a stupid, naïve teenager starting a new relationship (which he was, but whatever).
“If that’s what you want,” Louis replied. “Is it?”
Harry had nodded excitedly, before Louis stopped them in their tracks and leaned in to kiss him breathless.
Looking back at this moment now, Harry can’t keep the cheesy grin from his face as he walks towards the main entrance of the school building. Just as he looks around guiltily (as if people can read his thoughts) he spots Louis on the other side of the foyer, chatting to a couple of people Harry recognises from the party. As if Louis can sense his being watched, he glances in Harry’s direction and smiles before excusing himself and making his way over.
Harry feels giddy as he keeps his eyes firmly on his boyfriend’s (he’s still not used to that term) as he walks across. His faint smile does soon fade though, when a girl blocks Louis from walking any further. She’s wearing chinos and a blouse (Her own clothes, Harry thinks. She’s a sixth former) and her long brown hair is tied up in a bun. She talks excitedly to Louis, expressing her feelings using hand gestures, and Louis just stands there and smiles politely in response.
Harry can feel his feet itching to walk across and interrupt their conversation, but he knows that he can’t.
Eventually, Louis clearly says something to the girl so he can leave, and just as Louis begins the final few steps towards Harry, she looks over her shoulder and glares in his direction. Harry also recognises her from the party; she was one of the girls Zayn said were called Danielle and Eleanor.
He looks away from her stare, gazing half-heartedly down at his scuffed school shoes.
“Hey Haz!” Louis’ face suddenly fills his vision and he jumps backwards slightly in surprise.
Louis chuckles and pulls Harry into a hug; Harry’s arms stay limp by his sides.
“What’s wrong?” Louis asks, pulling back immediately, but still keeping a grip on Harry’s arms. “Friends can hug, you know,” he adds softly.
“I just can’t believe I’m already finding it difficult to… keep my distance.” Harry moves away from Louis, as if to show his point.
“It’ll be okay,” Louis assures. “We’ll just be like Liam and Zayn. They’re not all ‘coupley’ at school. In fact, Jess and Niall aren’t really either.”
“At least everyone knows they’re together, though,” Harry mumbles.
“Well, they’ll know that we are too, at some point.”
“Once you’ve left?” Harry raises an eyebrow.
Louis rolls his eyes. “Come on, Hazza; I’ll walk you to your form room.”
They walk together slowly, knowing that they have plenty of time before the bell goes, signalling the start of registration. As they chat about the days of the Christmas holidays when they weren’t together, Harry focuses a lot of his energy on not asking the question he’s wanted to ask since the beginning: why exactly must their relationship be a secret?
He’s pretty sure it must be to do with their age difference, which frustrates the hell out of him, but he does somewhat understand. Some people might find it weird that the two are together when one is two years older than the other. He tries not to think about the other possible reason: the fact that they are both boys.
No one really seems to notice the change in relationship between Louis and Harry; not even at lunch time, when they insist that they are sat next to or opposite each other, when before Christmas, Harry had been constantly avoiding that placement. At first things are slightly tense, after the way things were left after Louis’ party, with Zayn and Liam especially, but when they see that Harry is fine, everything soon goes back to normal.
Louis stops meeting up with his football friends quite so much; he says that it doesn’t matter when he sees them at practice twice a week anyway. Instead, he always goes with Harry and the rest of their friends to the computer rooms, where they just mess about and cause havoc.
On the day after Harry’s birthday, (it was on a Sunday, and he spent it with his family) Louis has organised a mini ‘party’ for lunchtime – he brings in banners, balloons and a cake, decorates the table and gets everyone to bring in their gifts. Harry is so happy and has to put all of his effort into not kissing Louis in thanks right there.
The downside of the celebration is that the girl from the foyer comes across to the table to have her daily flirt with Louis. Harry finds himself holding back giggles at her advances, along with Niall, who, as always, has something to say on the matter.
“Ooh, Louis. You really are playing hard to get with poor old Eleanor, aren’t you?”
(Louis, as always, responds by flipping him the bird.)
Harry cannot be too bothered by this though, because he knows what’s coming next.
Louis kisses him forcefully, their tongues tangling almost straight away as he presses him against the wall. The curly haired boy drags his hand up Louis’ spine before knotting his fingers in his feathery hair and Louis keeps Harry close with a hand on the lapel of his blazer, tugging him closer every now and again. Harry can feel a fizzing in his stomach and the familiar tingling on his lips he gets whenever he kisses his boyfriend.
“Lou,” he murmurs as Louis begins kissing across his cheek to his ear, where he pulls the lobe into his mouth, nibbling it gently. “Lou, you can’t…”
Louis stops nibbling and pauses before whispering, “Can’t I?”
Harry shivers slightly in Louis’ arms before dragging his face back so their lips can meet again.
About five minutes later, they take a break from kissing and just sit on the bottom step of the staircase, with Louis’ arms wrapped around the younger boy, alternating between gentle words and soft kisses.
“Thank you for my birthday party, Lou,” Harry murmurs against Louis’ shoulder.
Louis chuckles and strokes Harry’s hair away from his face. “Wasn’t just for your birthday.”
“What else then?”
“I don’t know if you remember, babycakes, but we’ve officially been together for a month today,” Louis explains.
Harry raises a hand to Louis’ cheek and slaps it softly. “God, you’re a sap,” he says, before leaning up to press his lips carefully to his boyfriend’s.
Just as Harry moves his hands up to Louis’ neck, Louis freezes.
“Shit, someone’s coming,” he whisper-shouts, and Harry hears the footsteps approaching the door.
The boys quickly rearrange themselves, moving so they’re sat on opposite sides of the step; Harry shakes his head out in an attempt to neaten up his hair from where Louis had been running his hands through it.
“Boys! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in class in less than a minute.”
Mrs Walsh – a German teacher – has always been a favourite teacher of Harry’s, as she is often quite nice and doesn’t set much homework, but now she seems to be glaring at his boyfriend in a manner which makes him dislike her a bit.
“Harry, I thought you were better than this!” she scolds gently. “I sincerely hope that Louis here isn’t being a bad influence on you.”
Harry shakes his head forcefully, and sees Louis flash him a grateful smile in the corner of his eye. They then seem to snap into action as they jump up from their seats, pick up their bags from the floor and straighten their outfits (Mrs Walsh frowns at the sight of Harry’s askew school tie).
“I’m sorry, Miss,” Harry apologises. “I’ll just be going to my lesson, then.” He pauses before adding, “See you later, Lou.”
Harry looks back over his shoulder briefly once he has opened the door, giving Louis a weak wave before sprinting to Physics and letting the door fall closed behind him.
The remainder of the school year passes this way, with hidden kisses and concealed phones sending secret texts from under desks. The boys also try and see each other as much as they can – within reason – outside of school. Tuesdays and Fridays, Louis has football, and Wednesdays Harry has started photography club, so they spend Mondays at Harry’s house and Thursdays at Louis’ (the weekends tend to alternate between the two, and they exchange raised eyebrows when their parents suggest sleepovers).
Louis helps Harry revise for the few GCSE exams he has at the end of his first year, and the two of them sit at the table in one of their dining rooms for hours on end, looking over science textbooks and revision guides. This often ends up being more of a hindrance than a help, as Louis can be quite distracting (and they normally end up snogging, losing track of time and having to pull away in a panic if a family member comes anywhere near them).
In turn, Harry tries to help Louis practice football when they visit the field, but the problem is that Harry is absolutely terrible at football, resulting in the whole thing being a pretty pointless exercise.
In May, they attend the concert that Harry bought the tickets for, and both boys can easily say it is one of the best nights ever. They’re in the standing area, and aren’t very far from the front as they jump around madly and dance with one another. Harry can’t quite believe that when he originally won the tickets in an auction on Ebay – using his stepdad’s account – he wasn’t expecting to be slow dancing with his boyfriend at the concert when a ballad came on.
Not long after the end of the school year, they decide to tell their friends and family – friends first, ‘because it’s easier’, according to Louis.
They invite everyone round for a ‘little get together’ – everyone being Zayn, Liam, Jess and Niall – and put out food and drinks while planning what they’re going to say.
At three o’clock, when they know that their guests will be arriving soon, they enter the kitchen to get glasses for the drinks, and Harry’s hand accidently brushes against Louis’ as they reach up to the cupboard at the same time, resulting in ridiculous banter between the two of them and ending in Louis cornering Harry against the counter and forcing their lips together.
Their guests choose that moment to enter the kitchen – without knocking.
Zayn and Liam are slightly surprised, but supportive, Jess is generally so blasé about it all she seems as if she’s known since the beginning and Niall insists that he can still predict the future.
Their parents however… well, Harry is pretty surprised by their reaction.
The two boys stand in the centre of the room, their parents on the sofa in front of them, watching them with the same question filling each of their eyes.
“Um…Well, the reason why we asked to… We are here to…” Harry stumbles over his words pathetically, looking to Louis and hoping he can finish it for him.
Louis just smiles softly, reaches out and takes Harry’s hand in his, slotting their fingers together.
“Harry and I are in a relationship,” he tells the adults confidently, Harry quivering slightly beside him.
There is an extremely heavy silence hanging over the room for the next couple of minutes as each of the four adults think about what to say next. Harry panics more and more as each second passes, and Louis tries to calm him by stroking his thumb along Harry’s.
“How long has this been going on?” Harry’s stepdad, Robin, asks. Harry’s slightly-heavier-than-normal breathing slows down a little as soon as someone speaks, but once he has registered the question, it quickly speeds up again. He looks to Louis in a panic.
“Just over six months,” Louis responds.
Jay takes in a sharp breath before whispering, “Perhaps you should go home to speak with your parents alone, Harry. We need to speak to Louis.”
Harry nods and regretfully lets go of his boyfriend’s hand, attempting to send him a smile of encouragement before leaving the room with his parents in tow.
Later that evening, after a shockingly short talk with his parents to make sure that the relationship with Louis was definitely what he wanted, and that his ‘innocence’ was still intact, Harry goes to bed early and not long after, his phone buzzes on the bedside table.
From: Lou :) <3
All is fine with me babycakes, hope its gd with u :) Tbh I think my parents were just worried abt me being a bad influence on u, haha I wonder where they got that idea ;) But this has made me realise that we’ve already made it past half of the yr without breaking our resolution, and I know its not the best time to say it, over text, but for the first time since being in a relationship with u, I just wanna tell you that I love you Haz. So much xxxxxxx
Harry has a couple of silent tears settling in the dimples caused by his watery smile. The phone slips out of his grip and falls onto the duvet cover; he sighs and picked it up again, his fingers hovering over the screen to reply.
To: Lou :) <3
Yep all was fine with my parents too, I actually think mum and robin are happy that I’m with someone they know :) And Lou, I love you so much too .xxxxxxxx
The following morning, Harry is upstairs in his room, pulling on an old band t-shirt to put with his jeans and tattered Converse, when he hears a faint knock on the door before Gemma bursts in.
“Gemma!” Harry exclaims. “Did I say you could come in?”
The girl ignores his annoyance. “Lover boy’s here. He’s waiting outside,” she says teasingly.
“And who might that be?” Harry asks, trying not to seem panicked.
“Louis, stupid. Heard Mum and Robin talking – can’t say I was expecting that.” She shrugs and reaches out to ruffle Harry’s curls. “At least I know I can trust him to not break my little brother’s heart. And if he does…”
Harry rolls his eyes. “See you later, Gem.”
He leaves the room, letting the door stay open in a hint for his sister to leave, and rushes down the stairs, throwing open the front door and trotting down the front path to the gate which Louis is leaning against.
Harry throws his arms around his neck, leaning round to kiss him on the cheek. “Hi,” he whispers into his boyfriend’s ear.
Louis jumps slightly, but turns to catch Harry’s lips in a short chaste kiss. “Hey.”
Once they’ve had their normal greeting conversation, and Harry has closed the gate behind him, the two of them walk down the street side by side, their hands brushing together on every other step.
“So…” Louis murmurs after a few minutes of general chatter. “I think there’s something that has to be said.”
Harry immediately knows what he means, and struggles to keep the smile off his face. “And what is that?” he asks, attempting nonchalance.
Louis pulls them both to a stop and steps closer to Harry, wrapping his arms around his waist. Harry continues to grin massively and pulls Louis even closer with hands on his shoulder blades and eyes on his.
Louis leans forward, until their foreheads are held together and they can feel each other’s breath on their lips. The older boy raises a hand to Harry’s cheek, stroking his thumb backwards and forwards across the soft skin.
Harry can feel his stomach tying itself in knots as he awaits the words that he knows are coming. It’ll be the first time the words mean so much more than just those spoken between friends, and the fact that it has taken longer than he expected for them to come around makes them all the more special.
Their relationship has always been a cautious one, mainly for the fact that there was the transition from friendship to something else, which is often a risky thing, but for them it works.
It’s like they’re made to be together, whatever the situation.
Harry thinks he must be a stupid kid for planning his future with the boy in front of him right now, but that doesn’t make him stop. He’s in love, and that’s difficult to fight.
“I’m in love with you, Harry,” Louis finally says, pulling Harry in for a kiss without giving him the chance to respond. It is short but sweet; Louis’ lips massage Harry’s gently, as if they were delicate and could be broken. Harry relaxes into the kiss, leaning against Louis’ chest and curving up slightly – Louis is still a tiny bit taller than he is.
Then he realises.
“Lou,” he mumbles, pulling back a little. “We’re in public… you’re kissing me.”
“I know, you fool, and I don’t care. I want everyone to know you’re mine,” Louis replies, eyes shining.
“Really? Does that mean…”
Louis nods, pressing their forehead back together again. “Yep. When we go back to school, I’m walking in with my head held high and my boyfriend’s hand in mine – that’s if you still want to?”
“Of course,” Harry whispers. “It’s what I want more than anything.”
Their lips meet in the middle again and they kiss slowly, languidly, standing in the middle of the street with their arms wrapped tight around each other.
The following summer is another one of Harry’s favourites; it is second only to the holiday in Spain a few years before.
The boys spend many days together, celebrating the freedom of summer before the dreaded return to school. One day they go swimming, and if Louis picks Harry up, throws him into the deep end, and gets scolded for it by the lifeguard, perhaps they don’t tell their parents that they were banned from the pool for disruptive behaviour (especially after they kept accidently splashing a mother and toddler group when they were doing handstands in the shallow end).
Another time they invite their friends to the field and have a massive water fight, and Niall may have accidently sprayed a woman walking her dog with his water gun, but she surprises them all by laughing and joking about getting her revenge.
They also have a day out at AltonTowers, and Louis finally helps Harry with getting over his fear of rollercoasters (and if that’s by kissing him when they’re queuing up to get rid of his nerves, Harry’s not complaining).
Even after all of the wonderful days out that Harry has with his boyfriend, they hardly compare to the times they spend together when Louis takes him out on dates in the evenings.
Whether it’s the cinema, ten-pin bowling, or dinner, (even when it’s at McDonald’s and they share a McFlurry) Harry can’t quite believe that it’s happening. He’s got what he’s wanted since he was thirteen, and it just feels surreal.
“I feel bad that it’s always you taking me out,” Harry mumbles, sipping from his Coke as they sit in the fast-food restaurant.
“I love taking you out,” Louis replies, shrugging and spooning a bit more ice cream into his mouth. “Besides, you’re my baby. I just want to look after you and care for you, and if taking you out is part of that, then I shall do it.”
“It doesn’t have to necessarily be part of it,” Harry points out, gesturing with his own plastic cutlery.
“Babe, please… just let me.” Louis smiles and holds Harry’s hand on the table.
So Harry does, because who is he to deny Louis of what he wants?
“You ready for this?” Louis asks as the two boys approach the school gates.
Harry shrugs, knowing that it’ll be more of a big thing for Louis, as Harry is probably just known as ‘the kid who follows Louis Tomlinson around’, and that no one really cares about who he is. Louis suddenly stops them and pulls Harry into a hug. “Whatever happens, Haz, please remember that I love you. So much.” His voice is muffled in the shoulder of Harry’s school blazer, and his nerves shine through.
“I will, Lou. I love you too.”
Louis kisses the curly haired boy softly before taking his hand again, and squeezing it before walking towards the entrance.
The students in the foyer part before them like the Red Sea, watching them with surprised facial expressions and slightly confused body language.
“I didn’t know Tomlinson was gay.”
“I always suspected something was going on between those two…”
“That Harry kid doesn’t deserve someone like that.”
The boys try to ignore the hushed comments surrounding them, but Louis reacts to the final one by spinning back to face the source – Eleanor. Harry stumbles forward when Louis suddenly stops, keeping a firm grip on his hand.
“Eleanor,” Louis says. “How are you today?” he asks in a sickly-sweet voice. Harry cringes.
“Uh, fine, thank you,” she replies in a meek voice, her eyes continuously flashing to where the boys’ hands are entwined. It makes Harry feel uncomfortable.
“Good. Now, if you’d like to stop making comments about my boyfriend, I would appreciate it.”
A lump forms in Harry’s throat as he watches the encounter, feeling everyone’s eyes on him.
“Lou,” he mumbles, tugging on his hand slightly, hoping he has finished.
Luckily he has, and he only glares at Eleanor for one more second before dragging Harry away from the crowd of people, who watch in complete silence before bursting into chatter.
“God, did you have to make such a scene?” Harry asks as they walk down the English corridor to Harry’s form room.
“Did you hear what she said?” Louis growls in response.
“Surely you know that she’s fancied you for God knows how long,” Harry comments, frowning.
Louis stops outside the classroom door and looks Harry straight in the eye. “It doesn’t give her the right to say that you don’t deserve me. Nothing does. If anything, I don’t deserve you.”
“Don’t say that.” Harry sighs, letting go of his boyfriend’s hand and hitching his bag up on his shoulder. “Anyway, it wasn’t too bad, was it?”
Louis shrugs. “I guess not.”
“It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
Harry spends the whole morning being asked questions from all directions to do with his relationship. It gets increasingly frustrating as time goes on, and when lunchtime arrives, he just can’t wait to see his friends and boyfriend.
When he gets to the lunch hall, he sees that no one else has arrived yet, so he walks over to the table and pulls his packed lunch out of his bag, starting to nibble on an apple as he waits.
“There’s that gay kid.”
“Where’s his boyfriend now, huh?”
Harry frowns as he hears the criticism coming from the tables near his. Before he can listen to any more, however, Niall is flopping down into the seat opposite, with his hand already in a packet of Doritos.
“Wassup, H?” he asks with his mouth full.
Harry shrugs, biting into the fruit again.
Niall immediately starts telling the story of what happened in his Biology lesson, and just as he reaches the end, the lunch room doors fly open, slamming obnoxiously against the walls before Louis stumbles in, flanked by Zayn and Liam. Harry spins around at the sound, and as soon as he sees who it is, he stands as the rest of the room fall silent. He slowly steps out of the way of his seat but speeds up as he approaches the boys by the door, Niall not far behind him.
“What the hell happened?” Harry asks, coming to a stop straight in front of his boyfriend, who has a slightly reddened cheek, a cut in his lip and dried blood near his nose.
“Th-they cornered me, Haz, and they were s-saying all these things-” Louis cuts himself off as he swallows, appearing to be holding back tears.
“Oh, Lou,” Harry murmurs, finally reaching forward to put an arm around the older boy’s shoulders, walking him out of the room to the courtyard. As Niall runs back to grab their bags, Harry sits Louis down on a bench outside, holding a hand in each of his and questioning with his eyes.
Louis explains that after his PE practical lesson, he was surrounded by the boys in the changing room, all sneering at him because of his sexuality and his boyfriend – and that included Tom. He had managed to ignore them for that, and just carried on getting changed, until one of them said that he was wrong in the head, and that the ‘Styles kid’ had damaged him.
That’s what made Louis turn around and shove the speaker of the last comment away from him, planning on just getting him to understand that he didn’t want to hear anything against his boyfriend. Instead, he was pushed back against the lockers and grabbed by the front of his t-shirt.
“What do you think you’re doing, fag?”
Louis then stops in his story telling, tears filling his eyes as he releases his hands from Harry’s and buries his face in them.
“So he just… beat you up?” Harry asks tentatively.
Louis nods into his palms, responding with a muffled: “He got in a couple of punches before one of the other lads heard the coach outside.”
“Louis,” Harry murmurs softly, almost letting out a whine at the thought of Louis being in not only physical, but emotional pain.
He just hopes that - now the original shock is over – it’ll get a bit easier.
Harry’s naïveté means that he wasn’t expecting it to be quite so difficult.
Being the only ‘out’ homosexual couple in the school proves to be one of the hardest tasks either boy has come across, but they are determined to make it work. Harry suggests pretending to break up, but realises that it was a stupid idea when Louis explains that they’d have to keep away from one another at all times.
They hold back on the ‘lovey dovey’ stuff in school anyway, which does cut down the number of daily degrading comments slightly, but they are always there, lingering.
One improvement is that neither of them are physically harmed – until a month later, when Liam finds Harry cowering against some lockers in the Maths block, holding his books to his chest with sheets scattered around him, pain throbbing at the back of his head where he was pushed into the metal object.
Overall, the first term is a terrible time for them, but their relationship stays strong throughout, as does their friendship with Niall, Jess, Liam and Zayn, who all support them.
Harry can’t wait for the Christmas holidays – and Louis’ birthday.
Louis has another party this year, and even though it should be a bigger celebration since it’s his eighteenth, he only has a small get together with his close friends, as he isn’t quite sure who he’d want at his house after all that’s been happening lately. They spend most of the evening sitting around and talking – even drinking some alcohol – until Niall is tipsy enough to request that they play a game of spin-the-bottle. Everyone complains until Niall tells them he’ll stop nagging once everyone’s had a turn.
“Fine,” Louis says, putting an empty bottle of WKD in the centre of the circle they’re sat in, pulling Harry slightly closer under his arm without thinking. “As long as you go first,” he adds, tilting his can of cider in Niall’s direction.
“Okay,” Niall replies enthusiastically, reaching for the bottle and spinning it with one finger.
It lands on Liam, who immediately blushes. (Being the only completely sober participant of this ‘game’ made him slightly nervous.)
“C’mere then, Li-Li.” Niall grins and crawls across the circle, pecking Liam on the corner of his mouth. Liam nods, clears his throat and turns a slightly darker shade of red.
The game goes on in a similar way – each person finds themselves clambering across to different sides of the circle and pecking another on the lips (apart from when Zayn got Liam, which resulted in a slightly less ‘friendly’ kiss). It goes on longer than just each person having a turn, mainly because the bottle never lands on Louis.
It’s Jess’ turn, and she pushes the bottle until it rotates and ends up facing Harry. She laughs at Niall’s reaction of mock horror before leaning across to kiss the curly haired boy.
“Please make it land on me,” Louis mutters in his ear as Harry reaches for the bottle and spins it, laughing softly at his boyfriend’s comment. It misses Louis by a mere degree and lands on Harry himself; Louis whines indignantly.
“Go on, H. Give yourself a good snog,” Niall jokes, laughing at himself.
Harry rolls his eyes and goes to grab the bottle again, before Louis pulls him back.
“Or let me do the honours,” he says, a smirk pulling at the corners of his lips before rushing them to Harry’s. The younger boy gasps in surprise, and Louis takes that as an opportunity to sneak his tongue into Harry’s mouth.
Harry hears Liam clearing his throat in amongst Niall’s comments of, “I knew this would end up in someone having a snogfest.”
“Yeah, and I knew it would be those two,” Zayn mumbles.
Harry pulls away to breathe and looks towards the rest of his friends as Louis leaves soft kisses along his cheek to his ear. “I believe we’ve each had a turn n-now.” He trips over his words when Louis bites his earlobe. Louis chuckles and lets go, pulling Harry under his arm once again and smiling against his temple.
The rule this Christmas is ‘no romantic gifts allowed’. Louis says that the romantic gifts should be saved for their anniversary, which they had planned for January second, so Harry is pretty stuck. He’d given Louis a homemade coupon for one free movie and one free meal from TGI Friday’s – however much Louis told him he shouldn’t – for his birthday, so he couldn’t do anything like that for Christmas. He already knows what he is doing for the anniversary present, but he just can’t think for Christmas. Eventually, he gives in and logs onto his computer to make Louis a disc of songs he had liked this year, using an idea that had been done before, but at least it was a little different.
From: Lou :) <3
Can I have a clue? ;) xxxxx
To: Lou :) <3
No chance! .xxxx
As Harry goes to put his phone back down on the desk, he is suddenly given a burst of inspiration. He jumps up from his seat and starts scrabbling around underneath the bed, trying to find his old sketchbook from when he used to do Art. He eventually finds it, in a box of all his old school books, and pulls it out, smiling as he sees many clear, A3 sheets of thick, off-white paper. Perfect, he thinks.
Christmas day soon rolls around, and Harry finds himself adding finishing touches to his gift for Louis at quarter to eleven, when he knows that they need to be out of the house by eleven o’clock.
“Harry! Are you ready to go?”
He picks up the sheet carefully and runs his free hand through his hair once more as he hurries down the stairs. His family ask what the piece of paper is for, and when he explains that it’s Louis’ present, they don’t ask again.
Christmas day is fully enjoyable for everyone. Harry and Louis sit close together throughout the whole meal, with colourful paper crowns perched on their heads as they mess around and joke with each other and the rest of their families, making everyone laugh (and their mothers smile fondly at them). When everyone but Jay traipses into the living room after eating, ready for gift-giving, Louis drags Harry into the entrance hall, where a conveniently placed sprig of mistletoe is hanging from the ceiling above their heads. They kiss romantically, but chastely – trying not to get too into it – before Lottie yells: “Oi, lovebirds, cut it out!” from the doorway.
Once the rest of the present swapping is over, they leave the room – as tradition allows – and go upstairs to Louis’ room, where a small package already lays on his bed.
Harry had asked Jay when she answered the door earlier whether he could quickly run up to Louis’ room to put the gift away, as it isn’t wrapped and he didn’t want Louis to see it.
He pulls it out from its hiding place behind Louis’ desk and holds it across his palms, face down.
“When did you put that in here?” Louis asks, walking across to him.
“Earlier, when I had just arrived and you were in the living room stealing Lottie’s chocolates.”
Louis chuckles and reaches out to take the paper from Harry. He pauses. “May I?”
Harry simply nods and places the sheet into Louis’ hands.
He flips it over and analyses every part of it – there is quite a lot to look at – with a massive smile on his face.
“This is incredible, Haz,” he says, still reading.
It’s a sheet of all of their memories written down in different calligraphy styles, tightly packed together so all of the ones Harry could remember would fit on. He’d also added little sketches and doodles everywhere, making it look like one of the sheets the boys would pass between them when they were younger, even if they were at each other’s houses and could have a conversation aloud. (It was just one of their phases.)
When he has finished reading, Louis pulls Harry into a hug, kissing his temple. “I really do love it.”
“I’m glad.” Harry smiles and reaches for the present on Louis’ bed, pulling the ribbon and paper off carefully. Inside is a leather-bound book with a ‘H’ on the front of it.
“I know we’re not supposed to buy things, but that’s the only part I bought – promise.”
Harry looks up at Louis briefly, wondering what could be inside, before pulling the front cover back and seeing ‘Harry Edward Styles’ written in fancy script, that he knew not to be Louis’.
“You got help,” Harry murmurs.
Louis nods slowly. “I did, yes, but every part of the book is done by me; I was only given advice.”
Harry turns the page and sees a drawing of him and Louis, which he recognises as a photo he has on the wall at home; it’s one of their best. It’s drawn in a style which could almost be described as detailed, but there are elements that make it slightly more cartoon-y and therefore more Louis-y.
“So you drew this?” Harry asks, tracing a finger over the page.
Louis nods again, watching for Harry’s reaction.
“I didn’t know you could draw,” Harry comments.
“I couldn’t really, but Zayn’s been teaching me,” Louis replies.
Should’ve known, Harry thought, knowing that Zayn is the most creative in their group and would have the ‘advice’ Louis needed.
Harry spends the next ten minutes looking through the book of drawings thoroughly, and he could’ve happily looked longer, but the boys are called downstairs for dessert.
“Lou,” Harry says quietly, grabbing Louis’ sleeve and pulling him to a stop before they go downstairs. Louis looks at him questioningly before Harry buries his face into the older boy’s neck, wrapping his arms around him. “Thank you,” he mumbles.
“You’re welcome,” Louis murmurs, stroking Harry’s hair.
New Year’s is pretty much the same as every year, and Harry gets to kiss Louis at midnight for the second time. There are no lanterns this year, but the boys sit out in the garden, watching fireworks and discussing their resolutions for the year ahead. Louis’ original ideas are ridiculous - like getting a pet elephant, for example – and as Harry reminds him that he is eighteen and should be grown up about his resolutions, Louis decides that it should just be the same as last year, because it’s the first resolution he’s had that he’s stuck to.
Harry keeps willing away his sweaty palms and wiping them on his jeans, jumping up and down nervously. The guitar is in its case, leaning against the wall, and he can’t seem to keep his eyes off of it. As he tugs on the lapels of his jacket, he hears someone behind him.
“It’s no good if you’re this nervous.”
“Thanks for pointing it out, Gem,” Harry replies sarcastically, looking over his shoulder at her.
Gemma shrugs. “I know you’ll be fine. Just think about why you’re doing it.”
Harry nods, feeling slightly better because of his sister’s words until there’s a knock on the door.
“Shit, shit, shit,” Harry whispers, beginning to move up and down on his toes again. He hears Gemma mutter something along the lines of, “Answer the bloody door then,” before she opens it herself.
Hiding behind the potted plant in the corner sounds like a good idea right about now.
Louis is stood in the doorway, looking like a god, with his hair styled in a quiff and a massive smile on his face, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. A burgundy jumper along with a black coat covers his top half, tight grey jeans are on his legs, and a pair of black Vans are on his feet.
“Hi Gemma,” he says, smiling wider – if it’s even possible. “How are you?”
“Good thanks, Lou. I hope you have a fantastically romantic evening planned for my little brother,” Gemma replies, letting Louis inside the house.
“I’m gonna do my best,” he says, and grins when he sees Harry stood by the stairs. “Hello, Harry.”
“Hey, Lou.” Harry can feel the automatic smile appearing on his face that he gets whenever he’s around his boyfriend.
“Are you ready to go?” Louis asks and Harry nods, picking up his guitar and making his way out of the door. They say their goodbyes, and Anne comes out of the living room to remind Harry that he needs to be back by midnight.
Louis makes a joke about Cinderella once they’re out of earshot and pulls Harry under his arm as they walk back to his house (Louis always complains about not having a car, but his mum won’t let him have one until he's positive that it will be worth it). Harry wraps his free arm round Louis’ waist, as he is holding the guitar case in his other hand, and they chat comfortably, sharing each other’s warmth on the cold January evening.
In Louis’ living room, the sofas have been pushed to the side again, and a table for two has been set up in the middle of the room. It has been set up perfectly, with shining cutlery and a handful of red flowers placed in a vase in the centre of it.
Harry barely notices that, however.
The room is filled with candles.
Every surface is absolutely covered in them, and the whole room just glows because of it. White fairy lights hang across each wall, some of them twinkling every now and again. The Christmas tree is still in the corner, and the coloured lights strung across it are shining gently.
It’s just beautiful.
Harry feels completely overwhelmed, not quite believing that he has this in front of him. If someone had told him a few years ago that he would have a boyfriend who would be romantic enough to do this on their year anniversary, he would have laughed.
Just as he thinks that, aforementioned romantic boyfriend takes the guitar from Harry’s hand, putting it down carefully before wrapping his arms around Harry’s waist, resting his chin on his shoulder.
“What do you think?” Louis whispers.
“That you shouldn’t have left all these candles unattended when you came to fetch me.”
Louis chuckles huskily into Harry’s ear. “That was quick, for you,” he says. “I was expecting you to start listing adjectives.”
“Well, it is very beautiful,” Harry whispers.
“Almost as beautiful as you,” Louis murmurs, kissing Harry’s neck.
Harry rolls his eyes and turns around in Louis’s arms. “So cheesy, Lou,” he says. “What’s for dinner?”
Louis has cooked – surprisingly with minimal help – chicken breast stuffed with cheese and wrapped in Parma ham, served with mash potatoes and vegetables. Harry savours the taste as the boys eat it slowly, chatting to each other about anything and everything. It is – by far – the best date Louis has organised for the two of them, and Harry just spends the whole evening thinking about how lucky he is – apart from when he can’t help thinking about the butterflies in his stomach expressing his nerves.
“Presents now?” Louis asks, picking up the plates and carrying them through to the kitchen.
Harry stands, feeling his stomach drop at the thought of presents.
“Yeah, sure,” he croaks, walking across to the sofa and sitting down.
Louis comes back into the room carrying a wrapped box, and sits beside Harry. “Who’s going first?”
Harry answers by taking the present from Louis’ hands and ripping the paper off it, raising an eyebrow when he sees that it’s a box for jewellery. He hesitates before opening it, but when he does, he sees a necklace nestled inside. The butterflies disappear at once.
“Oh, Lou,” he murmurs, pulling it out and holding the chain in the air so he can rest the charm in his palm. “It’s lovely.” He hands it to Louis, turning around in his seat. “Put it on for me?”
Louis puts the necklace around his boyfriend’s neck and clips it together at the back. “Is it okay?”
“It’s perfect,” Harry whispers, looking at where the paper aeroplane charm settles on his chest. He quickly spins back to face Louis, kissing him quickly.
When he pulls away, Louis kisses his nose and smiles before asking, “My turn?”
Harry pauses and swallows before nodding, standing up and getting his guitar. Louis hasn’t asked about it yet, but Harry figures he would probably have guessed what his present was as soon as he saw it.
He removes the case and sits back beside Louis, feeling the nerves settle once again. Louis smiles softly and Harry finds himself remembering all the times that Louis would smile in that encouraging way when they were younger. It gives him all the confidence he needs.
Clearing his throat, he begins to strum out the few chords of introduction, his fingers moving slightly shakily until he sings.
“Now you were standing there right in front of me,
I hold on, it’s getting harder to breathe…”
“Gemma will notice,” Harry comments, looking at the red and purple marks scattered across his neck right down to his collarbone.
Louis shrugs, grinning at Harry in the mirror. “Oh well.”
“Every single time she’s spotted a lovebite on me, she’s given me shit for it. I dread to think what she’ll be like when she sees this, you bloody vampire.”
When Harry had finished singing, Louis had gently taken the guitar from him and placed it on the floor before pushing the younger lad against the arm of the sofa and forcefully kissing him with all of his might. When Harry had to pull away to breathe, Louis simply moved down and started nibbling and sucking on his neck, creating too many love bites – as well as sounds of pleasure from Harry. (And if the feeling of Louis’ lips against his skin became Harry’s wanking material for that evening – as well as many other times – no one has to know.)
“It’s only half nine; do you fancy watching a film?” Louis suggests, still smirking to himself because of Harry’s neck.
“Okay,” Harry grumbles, inspecting the skin one last time with a grimace before joining Louis in front of the TV. Louis pulls a blanket from the back of the sofa to cover them and flicks off the lights, leaving only the candle-glow to fill the room. He scrolls through Netflix to find a film, and after debating between Wall-E and The Hangover, Harry wins, so they settle down to watch two robots falling in love.
Jay arrives home to Louis flicking through the TV to find something to watch (settling on One Tree Hill) with Harry’s head rested on his shoulder, fast asleep.
“Louis!” she hisses from the doorway.
Louis spins round to face her, waking Harry up in the process. “What’s wrong?”
“Harry was supposed to be home half an hour ago!”
Louis curses and pulls the blanket they’re tangled in off of their bodies, jumping up and holding out his hands for Harry to take. He grabs them sleepily and is pulled to his feet.
“I’ll drive him, and you make me a cup of tea to thank me for it,” Jay says jokily to Louis.
Louis nods and kisses Harry softly. “Happy anniversary, babe,” he mumbles into his lips.
“Happy anniversary to you too,” Harry replies, leaning in to kiss him again.
Jay tuts and the boys pull apart.
“I’ll text you,” Louis says.
Harry just nods tiredly, waving goodbye weakly and following Jay out of the room.
A week before Harry’s birthday, the boys are sat around the lunch table at school with their friends (ignoring the normal glares) when Louis asks Harry what he wants for his birthday.
Harry shrugs. “You could let me take you out. You have tokens, remember?”
“Ha-ha, very funny,” Louis says sarcastically. “What would you really like?”
Harry think about it for a moment, opens his mouth to reply before remembering that they have company. He bites his lip and leans forward to Louis’ ear, cupping his hand around it.
“I want you to make love to me,” he whispers.
He hears Louis’ gasp as he pulls back, and sees him squirming a bit in his seat.
“How much are you gonna bet that Harry just said something dirty?”
Louis slaps Niall’s arm at his comment before packing up his food and gesturing for Harry to follow him out of the lunch hall. They walk together to the Languages staircase and sit down in silence.
“Did you really mean that?” Louis eventually whispers, not looking in Harry’s direction.
“Yes,” Harry replies at the same volume, shaking slightly with nerves. He definitely didn’t think he’d be saying that to Louis today when he got out of bed this morning. He then adds, with a little more confidence: “I’ll be sixteen. They said in Sex Ed that you cou-”
“I know, Haz. The question is, are you ready?” Louis asks seriously.
“I think so. I mean, we’ve been together for over a year, right? And I know I love you enough.”
Louis laughs bitterly at Harry’s naïveté. “I don’t think you’re ready.”
“And who are you to tell me that?”
“I’m the person who you’re asking to have sex with.” Louis finally turns to face Harry on the other end of the step, and sees that he has tears in his eyes. The older boy pulls him close, stroking his hair gently.
“So you’re saying no?” mumbles Harry into Louis’ t-shirt.
“Not necessarily no,” Louis replies. “More like, ‘let’s give it time’.”
Harry pulls back slightly. “So, ‘no’,” he states.
“No for now,” Louis corrects. “But I promise that, if it really is what you want, I will make love to you one day.”
(And if Louis asks Harry what has brought it on and he shrugs and says ‘it’s because I love you’, he also means, ‘it’s because I get off to the thought of you pretty much every night’.)
That ‘one day’ sort of comes in the Easter holiday, when they had been together for a year and about three and a half months.
Harry finally got Louis to use his coupons from his birthday – by threatening an expiration date - so they spent a whole day together, getting the bus into town in the morning, having lunch at TGI Friday’s and going to the cinema to watch a film of Louis’ choice.
When they return to Harry’s, they see that the house is empty (Gemma must have gone out), so Harry throws his arms around Louis’ neck and brushes their lips together. “We have the house to ourselves,” he points out.
As he awaits Louis’ normal ‘not yet’ speech, he takes advantage of the situation and snogs Louis passionately, knocking him slightly off balance. Surprising to Harry, Louis does nothing to fight back, and lets himself be led into the living room, where Harry falls back onto the sofa, pulling Louis on top of him. They kiss messily for a few minutes until Harry opens his mouth, allowing Louis’ tongue to enter it. A groan forms in Harry’s throat as Louis sucks on his tongue, and he can feel himself getting hard. He throws his head back and moans aloud when Louis’ hip accidently brushes against his covered erection, keening as Louis marks his collarbone.
Louis must finally twig on to what is happening, as he pulls back and looks down into Harry’s eyes.
“Please-don’t-say-not-yet,” Harry blurts out, slightly out of breath.
Louis pauses before chuckling. “How about ‘let’s take it slow’?”
“Really?” Harry breathes.
Louis grins cheekily and leans back down, capturing Harry’s bottom lip between his.
They continue kissing until Harry’s lips are sore and he gains enough confidence to move his hips upwards into Louis’. Louis sucks in a sharp breath before letting out a groan.
“Please… do that again,” he whispers.
The two of them end that way; moving their hips together until Harry shudders, coming into his boxers, closely followed by Louis.
“Wow,” Harry says breathily when Louis collapses on top of him.
Louis laughs into his neck. “Anyone would think you’ve never gotten off before.”
“Trust me, I have, but it’s never been as good as that.”
He’s not lying; it may not have been the ‘making love’ he asked for all those months ago, but it was a start.
They don’t do anything else like that for quite a while, and Harry notices that Louis has become more cautious around him; he keeps kisses short and chaste, stops any lingering touches… Harry feels rejected. That’s the only word he can think of to describe it.
When he returns to school, their friends all start asking him whether he and Louis have fallen out, and he’s not sure what to say. It certainly seems like they have, but Harry can’t remember a moment when something had happened to stop Louis being his normal self.
Eventually, when Louis doesn’t put his arm around him, or hold his hand as they walk together through the park after school – which he normally does when Harry leans against him – Harry decides to confront him about it.
“What’s your problem, Lou?” he asks, pulling Louis to a stop.
“What do you mean?” Louis replies, not quite meeting Harry’s eye.
“You’ve just been acting weird with me recently, and I want to know why,” Harry states, surprised by his confident tone.
Louis bites his lip for a moment, staring off into the middle-distance.
“Well?” Harry urges when he doesn’t receive a response.
Louis sighs and leads Harry across to the nearest bench. They both sit down and Louis takes both of Harry’s hands in his. “I should’ve explained; I’m sorry,” he says.
“Should’ve explained what?”
“It’s two things really. First…” Louis trails off and his volume lowers as he mumbles, “I don’t want to be taking advantage of you.”
“But you’re not,” Harry says quickly.
“I just can’t help thinking it,” Louis mutters before carrying on his explanation. “The second thing is, well, after that day in half term I realised just how distracting you can be.” He pokes Harry’s dimple when he grins. “But now we both have exams, and neither of us can let the other distract us from being ready for them, okay?”
Harry nods slowly, knowing that Louis is right. “I understand the exam stuff, and I promise to keep out of your way and everything, but please don’t think you’re taking advantage of me. I love you, and I trust you, yeah?”
Louis pulls Harry into a tight hug, rubbing his hands up and down the scratchy material of Harry’s school blazer and kissing his temple. “I love you too.” He pauses before adding. “But maybe we should take a break.”
The weeks full of exams are not fun at all.
Not only is it bad enough having to go into school practically every other day for an exam, but having to basically act like your boyfriend is just a friend is even more difficult.
The boys only meet up outside school if they are with their other friends as well, and they find themselves avoiding physical contact pretty much completely.
Harry knows what he must feel for Louis when he could cry because he misses Louis fingers tangled in his own, or Louis’ lips on his. It’s a painful experience for him, and the worst part is getting to see Louis every day and knowing that he is off limits. (Remind him why he agreed to this ‘break’ again?)
That’s when he finds himself avoiding Louis again.
He turns other ways in corridors, taking longer trips to classrooms to avoid his regular routes. He sits away from him at lunch, and goes to extra study groups instead of sticking with his friends once they’ve eaten. He acts like he did when he first realised that he had fallen for his best friend.
God, he thinks. I really am pathetic.
Liam is the first to ask again if they’ve fallen out or even broken up. Harry shakes his head and mutters something about ‘exams’ and ‘distractions’.
He knows that they’ve been asking Louis too, and generally, it makes Harry feel like they actually have split up. It’s like they’re getting a divorce and their kids aren’t sure what’s going on. (He really shouldn’t think about that, though, because that gets him thinking about his possible future with Louis and the number of kids they’ll have.)
It all comes to a head on the day of Harry’s final exam.
Louis had finished about a week earlier, and none of them had seen him since, now he didn’t have to come into school anymore. Harry had received a couple of texts from him, wishing him luck in his remaining two exams, but even they had still been annoyingly platonic.
When Harry puts his pen down after his final further maths exam, he could easily jump up from his seat and run out of the hall screaming, but he has to stay seated and wait until the papers have been taken in and they are excused.
When it is all finally over, and they are allowed to leave, Harry walks quickly outside and meets up with Jess, who was also in the exam. They chat for a while about the exam and the summer ahead, before Harry leaves, telling her that he’ll see her at prom.
When he gets home, he sprints upstairs, pulling on his tightest black jeans with a white v-neck t-shirt, and because the weather is fair outside, he doesn’t put on a jacket. Shaking out his hair, he runs down the stairs, pulls on some shoes and runs outside, locking the door behind him.
When he reaches his destination, he hesitates for a moment before raising a hand and knocking on the door.
“Harry?” Louis asks when he sees who is on the doorstep.
“Hi,” Harry breathes. “Are you alone?”
Louis nods, a confused look in his eye, before Harry grabs the front of his t-shirt and crashes their lips together. Louis lets out a moan and grips the back of Harry’s neck, walking backwards into the house and kicking the door closed. He pushes the younger boy against the wall, kissing him hungrily, their tongues meeting in their mouths and sending sparks between them.
“It’s not even been two months-ah!” Louis gasps when Harry sucks on a particularly sensitive area behind his ear.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Harry whines softly into Louis’ ear, biting the shell. “You’ve just always been there, and I’ve wanted you all the time.”
Louis seems slightly surprised by Harry’s sudden enthusiasm and perhaps dominance as they kiss furiously, but lets him take the lead.
Until he has to, anyway.
Louis runs his hands down Harry’s back until they reach his bum, running his hands over the covered flesh appreciatively. Harry keens into Louis’ mouth.
As Louis moves his hands slightly lower, to the tops of Harry’s thighs, he mumbles hoarsely: “Jump up for me, babe.”
Harry pauses before jumping into Louis’ arms, wrapping his legs around the older boy’s waist and continuing to kiss him.
When he realises that Louis is carrying him over to the stairs, a buzzing of anticipation and slight anxiety flies through his veins, before the nerves set in. As he said before, he trusts Louis no-end, and knows that he won’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to, but he can’t help feeling slightly scared.
Louis places Harry carefully on his bed, crawling over him and kissing him lovingly.
“You’re so beautiful,” Louis murmurs, looking at Harry’s dark pink lips and flushed cheeks.
Harry bites his lip before whispering, “Thank you.”
Louis kisses him again, but more powerfully, and Harry can feel himself melting. Louis’ hands slide down his chest, brushing lightly over Harry’s clothed nipples, before grabbing the hem of his t-shirt.
“May I?” he says gently, as if half expecting Harry to say no.
He couldn’t ever say no.
Instead, he nods about five times, lifting his arms so Louis can pull the article of clothing off of him. When he lowers them again, he brings his hands down to the buttons of Louis’ shirt, starting to undo them carefully as Louis kisses his collarbone. When Louis’ shirt has also been removed, Harry just needs a moment to take it all in.
He has seen Louis shirtless before – hell, he’s seen him naked before – but it has never seemed so erotic. The sight alone of the tan skinned boy hovering above him, with a bit of hair falling in his eyes, is enough to give him the confidence to say:
“I want to give you a blowjob.”
Louis freezes half way down Harry’s torso, where he has been leaving a trail of butterfly kisses.
“Are you sure?” he breathes. “Have you ever-”
“You would know if I had,” Harry replies cheekily, reaching for the button on Louis’ jeans.
Louis’ hands grab his wrists and he moves so they can look straight into one another’s eyes. “Harry, please don’t do this if you don’t want to.”
“But I do,” Harry whispers, pulling his hands free and quickly removing the rest of his boyfriend’s clothes. “Just let me.”
So Louis does (and returns the favour).
The two boys lie there, on top of Louis’ duvet, completely spent. Harry knows his hair must be an absolute mess, if Louis’ is anything to go by. A light sheen of sweat covers his naked body and a massive smile spreads across his face.
“Lou,” he says softly, from where he is tucked into the older boy’s side.
“I thought we were on a break.” Harry starts tracing a pattern across Louis’ stomach with the tip of his index finger, pressing a kiss to one of his ribs.
“You say this now?” Louis says, looking down at Harry with bright eyes. “After I sucked you off?”
Harry laughs and slaps Louis’ chest playfully. “You idiot.” He pushes Louis so his back is flat on the bed before swinging a leg over him and straddling his waist. “I’m just glad you took me back.”
“What do you mean? We didn’t split up; I knew it wouldn’t be a permanent break.” Louis holds Harry’s hips in his hands, stroking his thumbs across them gently.
“Well I wasn’t so sure,” Harry replies. “I thought it might play out like Friends or something.”
Louis chuckles. “They always end up together in the end,” he reminds Harry.
Harry shrugs, leans down and kisses Louis’ cheek. “I better go,” he mumbles against the skin.
“Please don’t,” Louis mumbles. “No one will mind if you stay for a while.”
So Harry ends up staying for the rest of the evening, until Jay gets a phone call from Anne, who’s in a panic about Harry’s whereabouts. Louis walks him home and kisses him goodbye on the doorstep, telling him that he’ll see him soon.
(And if the next time they meet up with their friends - who are confused about the relationship change between them – they announce “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” dramatically, perhaps they are a bit more Ross and Rachel than they thought.)
(And however much Louis insists on it, Harry is definitely not Rachel.)
Because of all of the cheesy rom-com films Harry has seen through the years, he expects prom to be a magical occasion, with nice food and time to celebrate the years spent with his fellow classmates.
Instead, he spends a lot of the evening sat at the tables whilst everyone else is dancing, staring
at his phone with a mardy look on his face, constantly waiting for Louis to reply to texts.
Niall and Jess keep trying to get him to dance with them, and he does for a while, until he feels another buzz of a text in his pocket, so he goes to sit down again.
From: Lou :) <3
Im lonely :( Liam + Zayn r slow dancin w/o meeeee xxxxxx
Both the year eleven and year thirteen prom committees had booked for the same evening, so Harry and Louis couldn’t go to either one together – resulting in both boys being incredibly jealous of their other friends.
To: Lou :) <3
Slow dancing is generally just for 2 people .xxxxx
From: Lou :) <3
I knowww, but I wanna slow dance with youuu :( xxxxxxxxx
Harry sighs, checking the time and seeing that it was still only nine o’clock. Two more hours.
“Harry, this is getting old,” Niall says, suddenly appearing in front of him. “Just ‘cause Lou’s not here doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy yourself.”
“What if I am enjoying myself?” Harry raises an eyebrow.
Niall fake-laughs. “Don’t be silly; you’ve just been on your phone all night. Come and dance!”
“I’ve just been dancing,” Harry snaps, typing out a response to his boyfriend.
“Jesus, you’re pathetic without him, aren’t ya?” Niall flops down into the seat beside Harry.
“No ‘m not,” Harry mumbles.
Niall rolls his eyes. “God, how things have changed.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Me and Jess, Liam and Zayn, you and Louis… I never would’ve expected that six years ago,” Niall explains.
“Six years ago you would’ve been ten,” Harry points out.
“So?” Niall shrugs before changing the subject completely. “Anyway, remember when I found that cat in the playground at primary and brought it into school?”
The next hour passes much quicker than the previous three as Harry chats and laughs with Niall and when Harry’s phone buzzes on the table, he ignores it (for a little while, at least). When it reaches ten o’clock, Niall finally manages to persuade him to return to the dance floor, where they meet up with Jess and dance in a big circle along with a group of her friends.
The final hour feels like a minute.
The next summer is an extra long one due to finishing school early after exams, so Harry has a lot of time to kill. Of course, he spends most of it with his boyfriend, but they try and hang out with their friends as much as possible. They hold campouts in the field, and throw parties at houses and time begins to fly by.
At the first campout, Niall suddenly announces that they should play spin the bottle again.
“No way,” Zayn immediately says. “Not when I’m sober.”
“You only had to kiss Li last time!” Niall points out. “Come on, please?”
“No, Niall.” Louis throws his arm around Harry. “Not again.”
“Oh, I get it, Mr Protective,” Niall replies sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest.
For the rest of the conversation, Niall sits in a huff and eventually goes into the tent, closely followed by Jess. The conversation gradually turns into two separate ones between Louis and Zayn and Harry and Liam. It’s not long until Niall returns with a Monopoly box and a smile on his face, so a tournament begins.
“Ah, but I have a hotel on there. Hand it over.” Niall holds a hand out to Harry for the extra £300 that he’s owed because of that stupid hotel on Pall Mall.
Harry digs through the notes he has organised in front of him and cringes when he sees he doesn’t have enough. Louis – who has two houses on all of his properties, and therefore quite a lot of money – grabs Harry’s hand between their thighs and subtly hands him three £100 notes.
Harry grins and hands the money over to Niall, who looks slightly surprised.
“He’s cheating,” he announces. “I counted his money and knew he wouldn’t have enough!”
“Well, you counted wrong,” Harry replies, taking Louis’ vodka red-bull from him and stealing a sip, kissing his cheek in thanks.
Niall frowns and rolls a six, landing on one of Harry’s properties.
“That’s £525 please,” Harry says, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
The game ends and everyone decides to go to bed when Louis and Niall are the only two remaining and they keep accusing each other of cheating.
The tent is split up into four sections; the main area, and three bedrooms. Liam and Zayn somehow get to the biggest bedroom first, so Harry and Louis find themselves squashed together in the smallest. They both strip down to their boxers, and Louis unzips the sleeping bags so they act as a quilt over the two of them on their airbed. They lie apart from one another at first, feeling ever so slightly awkward, as this is the first time they have spent the night together in the same bed since they started dating, considering they weren’t allowed sleepovers anymore.
Eventually, Louis whispers, “Come here,” and pulls Harry close. Harry tucks his head in the crook of Louis neck and wraps his arms around his waist, tangling their legs together.
Louis buries his face in Harry’s curls, breathing in his scent. “Love you,” he whispers.
“Love you too,” Harry whispers back, raising his head so they can press their lips together gently. “I wish I could spend every night with you; like this,” he mumbles against the corner Louis’ mouth.
Louis smiles. “Maybe we will, one day.”
“D’you really mean that?”
Louis nods, the grin still covering his face.
Harry lets out an embarrassing squeak, throwing himself on top of his boyfriend and kissing him passionately, their tongues moving together sensually in their mouths. When Louis’ thigh slips accidently between Harry’s legs, he groans quiet loudly, already feeling himself hardening. (God damn his teenage hormones.)
Suddenly, the wall of the tent behind their heads is pushed in and they jump.
“Seriously, guys, we get that you’re having a moment, but we would appreciate it if you didn’t start fucking in there.”
Harry looks down at the older lad and grins; Louis grabs the curls at the back of his head and pulls their lips together again, huffing laughter into each others’ mouths.
Harry wakes up the next morning, spread across Louis’ chest with one arm around his neck and the other by his side, gripping onto his hand. He lets out a sound of contentment, nuzzling further into his boyfriend’s collarbone and closing his eyes again, thinking that he really could get used to this.
From: Lou :) <3
Can I come over to yours pls? xxxxxx
To: Lou :) <3
Of course! See you in a bit :) .xxxxx
Harry attempts to ignore the feeling of nerves settling in his stomach at the text he receives from his boyfriend. It sounds so formal; he never normally asks to come round, he usually just turns up.
A few minutes later, he is sat in the living room with the rest of the family when the doorbell rings. Harry jumps up, saying that it’ll be Louis and that he’ll answer it.
“Hi,” Harry greets when he opens the door.
“Hey,” Louis replies. “Can I come in?”
Harry pulls the door open wider so Louis can get past, trying to get rid of the He’s breaking up with me mantra forming in his head. He follows Louis upstairs to his room, where they sit down together on the bed, and after a moment, Louis turns to face him, holding both of Harry’s hands in his.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” he starts.
“I got into a Performing Arts School.”
Harry throws his arms around Louis’ stiff form, exclaiming, “I’m so proud of you!”
When Louis doesn’t reciprocate, Harry slowly pulls back, questioning with his eyes.
Louis bites his lip and swallows a couple of times before saying: “It’s in London.”
Harry doesn’t twig on to what Louis is saying straight away; he keeps staring at him as if waiting for the punch line.
“Harry?” Louis says softly, watching him and waiting for a response.
“London?” Harry finally squeaks, tears brimming in his eyes.
“Baby,” Louis whines, pulling Harry close into a tighter-than-tight hug and brushing his fingers through his curls. “Baby, please don’t cry.”
“L-London?” Harry says again, his voice muffled by Louis’ t-shirt.
“I’m so sorry, honey, please, please don’t be upset,” Louis croaks, noticing that he also has tears dripping from his jaw.
“How c-can I not be up-upset?” Harry stammers. “You’re going away fr-from m-me, and I’ll m-miss you s-so much!”
“I’ll miss you too, love,” Louis whispers hoarsely. “All of the time.”
The boys sit there for the next twenty minutes in complete silence, just holding each other close and crying quietly, whispering sweet nothings to one another in between sobs.
When Anne knocks on the door, asking if everything is okay, Louis goes to speak to her so he has chance to explain. When she sees how much it is affecting both boys, she leaves them to it, explaining that she’s taking Gemma out to the shops and that Robin has gone elsewhere.
They’re left alone.
Harry takes the opportunity to stand up and walk across to Louis – who is still by the door – to whisper in his ear:
“Can this be our ‘one day’?”
Louis pauses before responding, and Harry panics.
Answering by grabbing Harry by the hips and walking him across to the bed, Louis pushes him gently down and hovers above him, pressing a line of butterfly kisses from his collarbone, up his neck to his jaw, and across his cheek to the corner of his mouth.
“Lou,” Harry whines, curving his back upwards like a cat in contentment.
Louis finally kisses him properly, but he keeps it slow and chaste, simply massaging Harry’s lips with his own. Harry pokes his tongue out to run along the seam of Louis’ lips, hoping he’ll open his mouth. When he doesn’t right away, Harry makes a noise of indignation and does it more forcefully.
“Harry,” Louis says, pulling back. “It’s not the right time.”
“It’s never been the right time. Will it ever be, or are you just saying it so you don’t have to sleep with me?” Harry argues, clearly feeling hurt from the rejection.
“You’ve just told me that you’re bloody leaving – surely this could count as the right time? You know, as a goodbye?”
“I’m not leaving until September,” Louis points out, moving off of Harry and laying beside him.
“Well you chose today to come and tell me that we’re practically breaking up!” Harry exclaims.
“I never said I was breaking up with you!” Louis shouts back, rolling onto his side as Harry does the same.
“Yeah, like you’re going to say no to anyone who wants to fuck you because you’ve got a sixteen year old boyfriend waiting at home,” Harry scoffs.
“Fuck off, Harry. I’m not the type of person to go to Uni to sleep around – especially when I already have a boyfriend.”
“So you seriously think we’ll be lucky enough to master the art of long distance relationships?” Harry says sarcastically, his voice shaking.
Louis shrugs. “Maybe. My mum has insisted that I return every chance I get, so the first gap will only be a few months.” He pauses and raises a hand to Harry’s cheek, running a finger down it gently. “Besides, I couldn’t stay away from you for too long.”
Harry sighs, automatically relaxing into Louis’ touch as another tear rolls down his face. The older boy wipes it from his face carefully, and Harry gives a watery smile. “So, what are we going to do until September?”
There are only ten more days left of August, and Harry plans to spend every possible second with his soon to be distant boyfriend. It’s like their first summer they had together as a couple; they go swimming – luckily no one recognises them - spend a day at the park, visit Alton Towers again – Harry still insists that he’s scared so Louis will hold his hand – and of course, Louis takes him out for a few evenings. The others are just spent at one of their houses, cuddled up in front of the telly watching films, just enjoying each other’s presence.
The worst parts are the night times.
After they’ve said goodbye to one another, Harry always goes straight to bed, holding back tears when he finds himself thinking about when he’ll have to do it for the last time.
He plans what he’ll say, he thinks about Louis’ reactions and most of all, he imagines what will happen afterwards.
He knows that the idea of the two of them having a long-distance relationship that will last is ridiculous; he knows that Louis will come home for Christmas with a new boy or girl on his arm, announcing that they’re getting married next summer.
He can only hope that he’s exaggerating.
Harry frowns at the date shown beneath the text he has received.
I only just got up :/ what time r we meetin?
Received: 31st August, 10:03
Tomorrow, his boyfriend would be leaving to take everything to London so he could settle in before the term begins. Tomorrow morning will be the last time Harry sees him until Christmas.
He shakes his head as if to get rid of the thoughts inside and replies to Niall, telling him that they’ll meet at eleven, as that is when Jay has organised to take Louis out shopping, and the house will be empty.
Liam is the first to arrive at Louis’ – five minutes early – followed by Jess at eleven o’clock on-the-dot, and Zayn and Niall traipse in at around ten past.
They get to work setting up the house as they had planned, putting banners and balloons absolutely everywhere and making space for dancing, as well as filling the table with all sorts of different drinks. They have to work quickly and efficiently, as they only have a couple of hours until Jay will be getting home with Louis and the girls. Overall, it takes about an hour and a half to set it all up, and when Anne sees that they are finished, she makes lunch for everyone.
About an hour later, they hear the car outside, and everyone quickly jumps into hiding; Harry hurries across to the wall by the doorway, next to the light switch.
“Ready?” he stage-whispers, and when everyone has replied, he turns off the lights, leaving the room in darkness.
Moments later, the front door clicks open, and Harry can hear the chattering voices of Louis and his sisters as they enter the house. Footsteps approach the living room and Harry braces himself.
“Why’s it so dark?”
Harry flicks the light switch and jumps out in front of the doorway as everyone appears from their hiding places, shouting loudly.
Louis – who’s stood directly in the centre of the doorway – jumps slightly, before a massive smile forms on his face and he pulls Harry into his side, kissing his temple.
“Is this your doing?” he asks.
Harry nods with a sheepish grin on his face.
Louis brings a hand up to his face and presses their lips together briefly before turning to everyone else, his arm still wrapped around the younger boy’s waist. “So, you’re that desperate to get rid of me then?” he jokes, and everyone laughs.
The party goes on for the next few hours, and everyone appears to be enjoying themselves. More guests turned up not long after the surprise, so the house is now quite full; people are in every room downstairs, chatting and laughing with drinks in hand, and a few are even on the dance floor. Zayn is in charge of music – he enjoys calling himself ‘DJ Malik’ – but he keeps stopping to dance (with Liam mostly), so he doesn’t do a great job. No one seems to mind though, and soon, everyone is dancing, squashed together in the living room.
“I can’t believe you’re actually dancing with me,” Louis murmurs into Harry’s neck, where they are slow-dancing together.
“Shut up; I don’t mind when it’s like this,” Harry mumbles back.
“Well, we’ve got one song left guys,” Zayn announces into the microphone of Lottie’s karaoke machine, (which he thought made the DJ-ing more professional), “and I know it’s a favourite of Louis’, so here we go!”
“Oh no,” Harry says as the music starts, rolling his eyes when Louis pulls back to grin massively at him.
“It’s the song, Haz!” Louis exclaims teasingly. “The song!”
“I know,” Harry replies, preparing himself for the worst.
Louis grabs one of Harry’s hands from where his arms are looped around his neck, and spins him quickly around in a circle before they start their normal mad dancing. It’s not long before Niall, Jess, Liam and Zayn join them and it brings back many happy memories.
It really is the perfect end.
A perfect goodbye.
“Remind me why you offered to do all of the tidying up on your own?” Harry says, dragging a black bin-bag around the living room, picking up plastic cups and paper plates.
“I’ve got you to help,” Louis points out as he walks into the kitchen.
Not long after the party ended, Louis convinced their friends and families that he would be okay to sort out tidying up himself – with Harry’s help of course. Harry didn’t protest – as the party had been his idea after all – but he didn’t particularly want to spend the rest of his Saturday cleaning. (Who does?)
He went along with it as enthusiastically as he could however; all he could think about was the short amount of time he had left with Louis.
About forty-five minutes after they started, Harry is untangling the wires of the Hoover when he feels arms wrapping slowly around his waist and tickly breath on his neck.
“Have you finished?” Louis whispers, kissing the shell of Harry’s ear.
“N-not quite,” Harry stutters, repressing a shiver from the feeling of his boyfriend’s lips on his skin.
“That’s a shame,” Louis murmurs, pulling Harry even closer to his chest. “I was thinking today could be the day.”
“W-what?” Harry spins quickly around to face the older boy, his eyes widened in surprise and his heart beating a mile a minute.
“Well, you’ve done so much for me, planning this party and such; I’d love to make it up to you.” Louis leans up slightly – Harry has had a bit of a growth spurt over the summer and is now about two inches taller – to press his lips chastely to Harry’s jaw. “Besides,” he mumbles against Harry’s skin, “just seeing you today has reminded me how much I want you… all of the time. You’re just too beautiful for your own good. You’re gonna have all the boys fawning over you when I’m gone, but they need to know that you’re mine.” He stops and nips at Harry’s neck, sucking until a reddish-purple bruise begins to bloom under the surface.
“I’m y-yours?” Harry squeaks pathetically.
Louis pulls back slightly, admiring the mark he’d made and grinning. “Always – and I’m yours.”
Harry lets out an embarrassing noise when Louis scoops him off the floor and holds him against his chest, bridal style.
“Lou,” Harry whines in complaint, feeling ridiculous as Louis carries him out of the living room.
Louis just chuckles at the blush on Harry’s cheeks, walking upstairs and into his room, dumping him unceremoniously onto the bed.
Harry lands with an ‘oof’, glaring up at his boyfriend. “And here was me, thinking it was going to be a romantic moment.”
Louis carefully crawls up Harry’s lanky body, hovering above him and pressing a short, chaste kiss to his mouth. “I’m sorry, baby. I want it to be romantic too; I just didn’t want you to be nervous.”
“I’m not,” Harry replies, contradicting the knots in his stomach. “I trust you.”
Louis gently kisses Harry’s nose, and a giggle escapes the younger boy’s mouth. Looking down at him fondly, Louis rolls them over so they’re on their sides, facing each other. They simply stare at one another for a few moments before they meet in the middle and kiss each other slowly, languidly. Their tongues meet in their mouths and wrap around one another, moving together carefully. Harry’s hands are frozen on Louis’ waist, and he can feel one of Louis’ hands knotted in his hair and the other moving up and down his back. When he feels a tug on his curls, Harry groans softly, moving slightly to grip Louis’ hipbones, knowing he wouldn’t mind leaving bruises.
Louis runs his hands under Harry’s t-shirt, pushing it up so the pale skin of his stomach is exposed. He separates their lips and moves down Harry’s body, pressing kisses to his neck, chest and finally his hipbone, sucking a mark into it.
Harry tugs at Louis’s shirt. “Shirt…off,” he mumbles, and Louis raises his arms so Harry can pull the offending material off of him. Harry’s t-shirt is also removed not long after, closely followed by his jeans – which Louis has slight difficulty with.
“Why do they have to be so tight?” Louis complains, roughly tugging the jeans down.
“You love them really,” Harry breathes hoarsely. “Besides, you can’t really talk.”
Louis smacks Harry’s bare thigh lightly, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
When both boys’ trousers are on the floor, they continue kissing, this time a bit more forceful and heated. Their tongues battle for dominance – Louis wins, as always – and Harry whines quietly into the older boy’s mouth.
“Lou,” he moans, pushing his hips forward into Louis’, feeling himself getting hard. Soon he finds himself lying beneath the slightly smaller boy, who begins palming him through the thin material of his boxers. Harry throws his head back in pleasure, moaning loudly, pushing his hips upwards for more friction. Soon Louis’ hand is replaced by his half-hard dick as he rocks their lower halves together, pressing his lips to the hollow of Harry’s throat. As the movement increases in speed, the desperate sounds leaving Harry’s mouth increase in volume, until he finally cries:
Louis stills in his movements and pulls back to face Harry properly. “Please what, my love?”
“Please; I need you,” Harry whimpers, starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.
When Louis doesn’t react straight away, and continues to just stare at Harry’s dishevelled state, Harry adds, “I need you to make love to me.”
“Okay, darling,” Louis whispers, stroking a stray curl from Harry’s eyes. “I just need you to relax for me, okay?”
Harry nods, trembling slightly as Louis hushes him and presses words of praise into his skin.
When Harry has calmed down a bit, Louis stands up from the bed and walks across to the dresser, rooting through the top drawer. When he has found what he needs, he returns to Harry – who makes grabby-hands at him – placing a bottle of lube and a condom on the bed beside him. Louis watches as Harry swallows deeply and brushes his hair back, still panting a little as his legs move apart.
“We don’t have to-” Louis starts, kneeling between Harry’s spread legs.
Harry sits up to throw a hand over his boyfriend’s mouth. “Please don’t finish that sentence.”
Louis nods solemnly before licking Harry’s palm, grinning when Harry cringes and moves it away.
The grin turns into a look of concentration and determination when he grabs the elastic of Harry’s boxers, tugging them down gently. He lubes up three of his fingers thoroughly and adjusts his position so he can reach where they are needed.
A grunt rumbles from Harry’s chest when he feels the first finger entering him; it’s slightly uncomfortable, and there’s a bit of a burn, but the pain soon becomes pleasure – until Louis adds a second. He bites his lip as he adjusts, but once again finds himself liking it after a while. His dick twitches when the third finger enters him, and soon he is rocking down onto Louis’ hand, moaning loudly. Suddenly, a shock of ecstasy runs up Harry’s spine and he cries out, writhing on the bed.
“Oh my God; do that again,” Harry breathes, and Louis does, crooking his fingers so he hits Harry’s prostate. Harry reacts in the same way as before, reaching down to fist his cock.
“Do you think you’re ready, baby?” Louis asks.
Harry whimpers, opening and closing his mouth, trying to get words to come out.
“You have to tell me, sweetheart; I need you to be comfortable.”
“I am, I am!” Harry suddenly shouts. “I just need you inside of me, please!”
“Okay, baby, shh,” Louis coos, stroking his free hand up and down Harry’s side as he gently pulls his fingers out, wiping them on the sheets. After pulling his boxers down, he rolls on the condom, slicks up his dick and steadies himself. He pulls Harry’s hand from where he is jerking off, tangling their fingers together.
“Okay?” he whispers, watching Harry’s dark eyes, the normal green taken over by his enlarged pupils.
Harry nods, panting heavily and struggling to find the words to express the feelings running through him – and Louis isn’t even inside him yet.
Louis lines up, pushes forward and… finally.
Harry barely has time to process the thought as he yelps in pain, tears immediately springing to his eyes.
Louis stops straight away, reaching forward to wipe the tears from Harry’s eyes. “If it hurts, tell me to stop.”
Harry nods. “It hurts,” he says, a sob catching in his throat. Louis goes to pull out, but Harry shakes his head. “Please don’t stop,” he says, repeating words from long ago.
They are both reminded of their first kiss in that moment, and Harry decides to use that as a distraction as Louis pushes gently forward bit by bit until he’s buried to the hilt. The pain cannot be hidden by thinking happy thoughts, Harry realises, and he is constantly letting out sounds of pain which Louis cringes at.
“Harry, I can’t do this if I’m hurting you.” He reaches forwards to stroke Harry’s hair from his face again, but loses his balance, falling forward as Harry squeaks. “Oh shit, I’m sorry; are you alright?” Louis asks in a panic.
“Whatever you just did, please do it again,” Harry whispers.
Louis tries to recreate the angle, and when Harry moans obnoxiously loud, he knows he’s got it right and attempts to do it every time.
It takes a while for Harry to catch his breath once it’s all over.
He lays spread across Louis’ chest, his head lolling onto his shoulder and eyes half closed. Louis is gently stroking his fingers through his messy curls, pressing kisses to them every now and again.
“Calmed down yet, Curly?” he asks after a few minutes.
“Nearly,” Harry replies, moving slightly so he can look at Louis properly. “Thank you,” he says, kissing the older boy’s jaw.
“For what? I wanted that as much as you did.” Louis smirks.
Harry raises his eyebrows challengingly. “Wanna bet?”
Louis begins moving his hands up and down Harry’s sides, letting his fingers grip onto his ribs as he starts tickling him, rolling them over so he could pin him down and get him properly. Harry squeals and giggles like a child, kicking out and attempting to escape.
“Lou stop!” he shouts through bursts of laughter. Louis chuckles and moves his hands to the younger lad’s waist so he can roll them back again. Harry begins tracing a pattern on Louis’ chest with his finger. “Please don’t forget me,” he mumbles.
“Forget you? Why the hell would I do that?” Louis says, incredulous. “Haz, you’re not only my best friend in the whole world, but also the person I love the most. You’re the one I’ve known since the start of everything; you’re the one I’ve loved since I was two years old. How can I forget you?”
“I won’t forget you either,” Harry whispers, pressing his lips to Louis’ quickly before lowering his head to his chest, listening to his heartbeat. “Lou, that wasn’t just to thank me or to prove that I’m yours, was it?” Harry enquires slowly after a moment, raising his eyes once again to look at his boyfriend.
“Not entirely,” Louis replies. “Let’s just say it was to prove that I love you very much and that I’ll never stop.”
Harry thinks, in that moment, if he never sees Louis again, at least he has had the perfect goodbye.
(And if, when the actual ‘goodbye’ arrives, Harry can’t stop crying for days afterwards, then he just has to keep reminding himself of the night of the thirty-first of August.)
Just Under Two Years Later
It’s summer, and Harry has just finished his final year of sixth form.
He’s eighteen, still has a fantastic group of close friends and has received good grades for his A-Levels, meaning he could get into the University he has wanted to go to since he discovered his love for music at the beginning of year twelve, when he changed PE to Music on his options sheet.
The first song he performed in front of his class – which had to be self-written – was entitled ‘Little Things’, and when he was asked by the teacher if it was about anyone in particular, he sheepishly admitted it was about his boyfriend, whom he loved very much.
He still does.
There isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t think about Louis.
Harry hasn’t seen Louis for a year.
They had tried so hard to make it work; texting or ringing each other all of the time, Skype-calling every other day… When Louis visited at Christmas after being away nearly four months, no one could even attempt at separating the two boys.
But, deep down - however much he didn’t want to admit it - Harry always knew it wouldn’t last.
Last summer, he visited London with his Mum, Gemma, Jay and the girls to see Louis in a performance of Grease, in which he was playing Danny. Afterwards, Louis had explained that he wouldn’t be coming home for summer, because he had a performance nearly every weekend and rehearsals all of the time. It was also then that Louis dragged Harry to the side and told him that things weren’t working out.
He wanted to break up.
Harry reluctantly agreed to ‘stay friends’ – when he really wanted to yell and scream and punch something - but when Louis visited last Christmas, the younger boy didn’t want to see him, simply posting a homemade disc of recordings he had made of songs Louis loved through the letterbox, along with money for the girls.
It would’ve hurt his heart too much to see him.
And his heart already had a pretty large puncture wound straight through it.
Harry frowns when he sees that the heavens have opened once again.
How Harry detests the unpredictable weather of England; it’s freaking August, and it’s throwing it down. Niall text him earlier this morning to see if he wanted to go out and play football, but now he knows it’s probably been cancelled. That’s happened quite a lot recently, as if the dark clouds stuffed with rain just don’t want to leave and are happy to stick around and ruin Harry’s summer.
Boredom. That’s what Harry’s feeling right now; bored and lonely, as everyone else is out, and he knows that Liam and Zayn are away on holiday together at the minute, and that Niall is more than likely with Jess now that footie’s out the window.
He mopes around his room for a while, deciding to clean up a bit – hoping his mum will get off his back. Once he’s collected the various items of clothing that definitely don’t need washing, he opens the wardrobe and chucks them inside, planning on shutting the door quickly to stop them falling out again, when a blank disc in a clear case drops onto the carpet in front of him.
He furrows his eyebrows a little as he thinks about what it could be – he really ought to start labelling things. It’s probably one of my recordings, he assumes, picking it up and flipping the case over in his hand. When he gains no more evidence about the origin of it, he decides that now would be the perfect time to go through the pile of disks hidden in his wardrobe and sort them out.
Sitting cross-legged on his bed with his laptop in front and the basket of disks beside him, he checks each disk and writes on them in Sharpie. The first is a recording of ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ he did when he was sixteen, not long after… He doesn’t finish that thought and moves quickly onto the next disc.
Thirty seven discs and a whole lot of acoustic covers and photo slideshows later, Harry reaches the bottom of the pile and inserts the final disc into his laptop.
Merry Christmas Harry!
I decided to
He slams the laptop shut harshly, his breathing already becoming laboured. How the fuck did that get in there? Reaching out to press the eject button on the disc drive, he pauses, hovering his hands above the device before opening it again, waiting for it to wake up.
The screen had paused on the same message, and Harry took a deep breath before pressing play.
Louis I hate the way things
I still love you Lou ple
God I fucking hate you, you’re a bastard
You broke my heart you dick
Harry’s fingers shake from where they are suspended above the touchscreen of his phone, tears still making their way down his cheeks which have long since seen dimples.
He knows he’s pathetic; still hung up on a boy he broke up with over a year ago, but he just doesn’t understand life without Louis; he can’t make sense of it.
He has known Louis since forever, and now he’s gone… Harry just doesn’t know how to carry on. Birthday candles and wishing wells have been wasted on wishes to just start it all over again.
Biting his lip for about the tenth time, he types something out which he thinks might be okay.
Louis, I’d love to catch up sometime. If you’re up for it, let me know :) – Harry
(Harry crosses his fingers as he presses ‘send’.)
Days pass, and considering he hasn’t received a reply yet, Harry assumes that Louis isn’t particularly interested in seeing him, so he starts ‘Project: Get Over Louis’ – with the help of Niall.
On the first night, Niall and Jess take Harry to a party, telling him that he has to go and meet new people ‘because they don’t need a third wheel hanging around’. Harry complains a little, before he gives in and ventures around the house, seeing if there’s anyone he even knows vaguely. To his disappointment, there isn’t, but when he realises this, he bumps straight into a guy who introduces himself as Nick. They spend a majority of the evening together, chatting and dancing (and getting more than slightly tipsy).
By the end of the evening, Harry has Nick’s phone number in his mobile and has a burning kiss on his cheek. (Niall pats him on the back and congratulates him.)
Pushing the door open carefully at two o’clock in the morning, Harry notices the LED on his phone flashing by his bed. He feels a slight swoop of hope in his stomach as he unlocks the screen. The ‘swoop of hope’ turns into a dive of oh-my-fucking-god-just-kill-me-now when he reads the message.
Harry, it’s so, so nice to hear from you. I would absolutely love to see you at some point, I’m home soon :) – Louis x
Harry bites the inside of his cheek hard enough to shed blood as he processes the message in front of him – which takes slightly longer for a partly drunk brain.
Soon, it clicks and he throws himself backward on the bed, burying his face in the pillow.
Unable to come up with a text to respond, Harry just cries himself to sleep.
The next morning – or afternoon, as it is one o’clock – Harry wakes up to a pounding headache and a buzzing by his leg. He groans, reaching blindly for his phone as it continues vibrating.
“Hello?” he croaks once he’s answered.
“Hazza! It’s Niall, mate, how are ya?”
Niall sounds way to chipper for a Saturday morning/afternoon after a night out.
“Absolutely wonderful,” Harry replies, swinging his legs out of bed and realising he must have removed his jeans in his sleep. “What do you want?”
“To discuss the next stage of your treatment,” Niall says.
“I’m not ill, Niall.” Harry stands up and stretches out the muscles in his back, regretting sleeping in an awkward position.
“You’ve been suffering from heartbreak,” Niall points out. “The way to get over it now, is to…”
As Niall continues to natter on about his plan, Harry gets himself ready, carrying his phone into the bathroom to brush his teeth and wipe the sleep from his eyes.
“Niall, I need to shower; can we sort this out later?”
“Just text Nick, okay? That’s the next step.”
“Okay, I’ll speak to you later.” Harry hangs up the phone and strips off his clothes before jumping into the shower, already feeling himself relaxing once he is immersed in the spray.
As he rinses the shampoo out of his hair, he practically feels the memory clicking inside of his head.
Louis text him last night.
He quickly finishes cleaning himself and jumps out of the shower, drying off and tying the towel around his waist before unlocking the phone and scrolling through until he finds the message.
Harry, it’s so, so nice to hear from you. I would absolutely love to see you at some point, I’m home soon :) – Louis x
His heart clenches at the thought of seeing Louis again. He has missed him so much and is really struggling with not seeing him all of the time like he used to.
Harry wonders what Louis was thinking when he sent this message. Was he happy or unhappy? Focused or distracted? Sober or drunk?
The possibilities are endless, and Harry can only hope that Louis really means what he said, because there’s no way in hell he’s missing the opportunity to see him again.
(And if Niall texts him later to ask what Nick said in response, maybe Harry explains that he sent a text to the one person he actually wanted to.)
Just under a week later, it is the day that Harry and Louis have organised to meet up. Harry woke up at about seven o’clock this morning, and has been spending the last couple of hours trying to come up with something to wear.
His four friends sit on the bed, shaking their heads to each outfit Harry shows them.
“What about the top you wore first, with the jeans you’re wearing now?” Liam suggests.
“No, it won’t go right,” Niall says, walking across to the wardrobe to sort through it for the fourth time. “How about this?” he asks, holding out a long sleeved, v-necked, navy blue shirt.
Liam and Jess nod in approval right away, and Zayn eventually agrees.
Once the outfit has been decided, everyone insists on giving Harry a pep-talk about what will be happening.
“You need to expect to be friend-zoned,” Jess explains. “Don’t be obviously disappointed.”
“I won’t be; I know he isn’t interested in being more than friends, anyway,” Harry replies, pacing.
“Don’t hug him when you see him,” Zayn says. “He might think you want to get back together.”
“He won’t think that.” Harry shakes his head and Zayn shrugs.
“And finally,” Liam explains, “don’t let him know you’re not over him.”
“If you say anything to do with being over him, I’ll punch you,” Niall threatens. “I’ve never seen anyone so excited about seeing an ex before.”
All of his friends nod in agreement and Harry groans. “I’m not excited,” he insists.
Okay, he was lying.
Harry can barely contain the excitement building up inside of him as he makes his way to the café where he is meeting Louis. Everyone had wished him luck before he left – even his family – and that made him slightly anxious. Why would he need luck? He’s only seeing Louis.
He realises why he needs the luck when he reaches the café and notices Louis has beaten him there and is sat at a table by the window, looking like a fucking god with the way his beautiful feathery hair is styled into a quiff and the way his blue eyes sparkle. There is a tiny bit of sunlight breaking through the clouds and it is falling perfectly onto him, highlighting his gorgeous presence as Harry makes his way over.
He clears his throat softly when he is in close enough proximity and Louis turns from looking outside to face the tall, lanky boy stood in front of him.
“Hi,” the older boy says softly, standing up carefully and stepping out from the table.
They stand there for what feels like hours, simply taking each other in. It’s only been a year but it feels like a century. Harry is taller, his hair is slightly longer and not quite as curly and he just seems so much older.
In Harry’s eyes, Louis hasn’t changed. (Because how can you improve on perfection? He thinks.)
Finally, Harry takes the first step forward, gripping the back of the chair in front of him so tight, his knuckles turn white. Louis takes the next step, also holding onto the chair – it’s as if they’re both trying to avoid wrapping the other into a massive hug.
Harry bites his lip and moves to sit down, noticing Louis mirroring him, until they both stop in their actions and take one final step closer, releasing their chairs and grabbing each other instead. Harry’s change in height means Louis’ head buries into his neck, and as Harry tries not to think about how the feeling of Louis’ breath on his skin is making him feel very un-platonic, he rubs his hands up and down Louis’ back, stopping himself from knotting his fingers into his hair.
“I’ve missed you so much.”
Harry may have been imagining things, but he is sure that that was Louis’ muffled voice saying those words.
“Lou,” he whimpers, because that’s all he can think to say as he concentrates on stopping tears chasing themselves down his cheeks. When he feels a wet spot on his shirt from where Louis’ face is nestled, he figures that it doesn’t matter so much.
When they pull apart, Louis gives a watery grin and chuckles weakly, wiping his own eyes before leaning up on his toes to do the same for Harry.
“I really have missed you. Going through life without your best friend is hard, innit?” Louis says, sitting down and gesturing for Harry to do the same.
Harry now knows why he needed that luck.
He’s pretty sure he’s broken at least two of the rules.
Don’t hug him when you see him. Don’t be obviously disappointed when friend-zoned.
- Don’t let him know you’re not over him.
He just has to make sure he doesn’t break the last one – unless he already has.
Niall, Jess, Liam, Zayn and Gemma are taking up all of the sofas in the living room when Harry gets home; they all turn to stare at him when he walks in.
“Well? How did it go?” Liam asks enthusiastically.
Harry shrugs. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Zayn says, incredulous. “Is that it?”
“I went to meet up and chat with Louis. We met up and chatted. That’s all there is to tell,” Harry replies, sitting on the arm of the sofa next to Liam.
“There’s more!” Gemma exclaims. “I know my little brother, and I know that there’s something he isn’t telling us!”
Everyone begins asking what it is, and soon they are guessing all sorts of things – all of which are wrong.
“There’s nothing to tell,” Harry says through gritted teeth, hoping that they’ll all just drop it.
His friends go home not long after that, and Harry is left to face Gemma, who certainly hasn’t dropped it. Harry is in his room with his guitar, strumming out random chords and trying to form a sequence when she walks in, sitting on the bed and watching for a moment before saying something.
“H, you know you can tell me anything, right?”
Harry nods, a look of concentration on his face as he adjusts his fingers on the frets.
“Please tell me what happened with Louis.”
Harry sighs and before he can say anything, Gemma adds: “I won’t tell anyone, I swear.”
Harry bites his lip, playing three more chords before leaning the guitar against the wall and turning back to face his sister, who is watching him expectantly.
“Nothing really happened, per se,” Harry starts, “but now I am regretting it.”
“Regretting seeing him? Why?”
“Because…” Harry takes a deep breath before looking Gemma straight in the eye and saying: “I think I’ve fallen in love with him all over again.”
Gemma points out that Harry never really seemed to fall out of love with Louis in the first place, and Harry explains that he thought he maybe could’ve done a little bit, because now he feels as if he loves Louis as much as he did two years ago. He tells her about everything they talked about in the café, and how much Louis made him laugh all of the time; so much that his stomach hurt and his cheeks ached from smiling. Louis just makes him happy.
Louis is his sunshine, and he doesn’t want to always be living in the dark.
Louis is everything to him.
And he can’t lose his everything.
“Good luck,” Gemma says as Harry opens the gate.
Harry smiles, “Thanks.” He hurries up the garden path, hoping to not get noticed by anyone inside the house, and breathes a sigh of relief when he gets under the porch. Holding the letterbox open so his hand fits, he carefully drops the package inside before retracting his hand and sprinting away again, because he knows someone would have heard it hitting the doormat.
Gemma runs behind him as he continues to get far enough away from the house before anyone sees him.
“H…stop, please!” Gemma huffs, grabbing his arm and pulling him to a stop. “No one will see us now!”
Harry slows to a walk beside his sister. “Thank you for coming with me,” he says.
“It’s no problem,” she replies. “Hey, what song did you sing?”
“It wasn’t a cover; you wouldn’t know it.”
“I know all of your songs… don’t I?”
Harry shrugs, trying to keep the smile from appearing on his face.
“I don’t?” Gemma tuts and then gasps in realisation. “You never told me you wrote a song for Louis!”
“A lot of my songs are for Louis,” Harry points out.
“No, they’re about Louis. When did you write one for him?” Gemma asks enthusiastically.
“Our year anniversary,” Harry mumbles sheepishly, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“Aww!” Gemma exclaims. “Who knew my ickle brother was such a romantic?” She ruffles his hair and Harry groans, pushing her hand away.
Knock knock knock.
Harry groans and climbs out of bed, wondering who on Earth could be at the door at this time of night. Making his way downstairs slowly, he pauses in the hallway, taking a deep breath before opening the front door.
Louis is stood there, hair plastered to his forehead because of the rain, his clothes stuck to his skin.
“I’m tired of feeling alone,” he says simply, before pulling Harry in for a bruising kiss, leaving them both breathless as Harry drags the older boy inside, closing the door with a…
The sound of the door hitting the door frame at top speed wakes Harry up from his dream and he sighs, wondering who could be having a tantrum now.
“You absolute dick.”
It appears that the angry person is in his room right now, so he sits up and glares at them for a moment before putting a fake smile on his face. “Good morning, Niall.”
“Harry, we agreed that you were trying to get over Louis, not fucking trying to get back together with him!”
“We’re just friends,” Harry says, laying back down and burying his face in the pillow. Why does his room have to be so bright?
“Oh yeah, because ‘friends’ go around to each other’s houses posting disks full of love songs through their front doors, don’t they?” Niall exclaims sarcastically, dragging the duvet off Harry’s still half-asleep body.
Harry rolls over and sits up again. “Who told you?” he asks, panicked.
“I didn’t mean to tell them, H, they just… got it out of me.” Gemma shrugs, scooping the tea bag out of her mug and putting it into the bin.
Harry leans against the counter, crossing his arms. “You know this is just going to get worse because you told them.”
“That’s no way to speak about your friends, Harry,” Zayn says from the doorway, with Liam on one side and Niall on the other. “We’re here to help you.”
Harry sighs. “I can deal with this perfectly fine on my own, thank you,” he says, brushing past them and going back upstairs to get dressed.
Just as Harry pulls a plain white t-shirt over his head, a shout comes from downstairs.
Harry just rolls his eyes and continues sorting himself out until Gemma calls for him again.
“Harry, uh… Louis’ here!”
He freezes, halfway through pulling on a button-down shirt. It takes him a moment to get moving again, hurriedly sorting himself out, shaking his hair out a few times in an attempt to get it right and checking that he doesn’t look too bad.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Harry shouts back, opening the door and nearly walking straight into the person on the other side. When he realises who it is, he swallows just as the front door shuts.
“I wonder when I last heard you saying that…” Louis muses. “Oh wait, I do remember.”
Harry blushes, bowing his head for a moment until he gains enough composure to speak. “What are you doing here?”
“Got this through the door last night,” Louis says, holding up a disk. “I was wondering if you knew anything about it.”
Harry remains silent, staring down at his bare feet again, feeling Louis’ burning gaze on the top of his head. He hears Louis take in a breath before he feels two fingers beneath his chin, raising his unwilling eyes to Louis’ shining ones.
“You see, there’s no label, and I’d love to know who the artist is. He’s got such an amazing voice, and the song is just perfect. I got another disk by the same guy last Christmas, and I’d love to know his name. He should be famous, he’s so good. But the song on here… it’s amazing, Harry, it really is. I don’t know what sort of idiotic bastard would let this guy go; especially after he wrote him this song.”
Harry can feel himself trembling all over as he listens to each and every syllable falling from Louis’ mouth. His knees may be buckling, his heart may be pounding but does he give a fuck? No; not with Louis’ thumb stroking his cheek and Louis’ words of praise showering over him.
It takes the sudden sound of the disk case falling to the floor for Harry to realise that Louis has finished talking and is slowly rising up onto his toes.
Their lips meet tenderly, each boy moving their lips carefully so the kiss remains chaste. Harry slumps against his bedroom door as soon as he feels the normal tingle in his lips he gets from kissing Louis. However, it doesn’t last long and Louis is the first to pull back.
“Harry, I love you so much, and I know it’s pathetic, but I never stopped loving you. I regret ending our relationship every fucking day and I can’t believe I was so stupid. I’m sorry, baby, I really am.” Louis’ voice cracks slightly on the last word and Harry can see his eyes watering.
“I completely understand if you don’t want to be with me anymore; I don’t deserve a second chance at all, really. I’ve been such a twat and-”
Harry cuts Louis off by kissing him again, wrapping his arms around Louis’ petite waist and bending down so he doesn’t have to lean up so far. Harry gently coaxes Louis’ mouth open and he licks inside his mouth, pulling him closer and dragging a whine out of him.
“Do you really-” Louis mumbles when Harry starts kissing across his cheek to his ear.
“Lou, I’ve never stopped loving you either. And why the hell would I post a recording of myself singing a song I wrote for you through your door if I didn’t want you back?” Harry interrupts, pulling back from Louis’ skin to see his reaction.
Louis grins massively and hurriedly forces his lips onto Harry’s once again, wrapping his arms around the taller boy’s neck. Harry keeps one hand knotted in Louis’ hair and uses the other to open his bedroom door behind him, walking them backwards into his room and onto the bed. Louis lays him down and slowly kisses up his torso through the thin t-shirt, pausing when he reaches his collarbone to suck a mark into the skin. Harry throws his head back onto the pillow, letting out a sigh, not quite believing that this is happening.
“Lou,” he murmurs when Louis tries to remove his shirt, “we can’t do this now.”
“We have the house to ourselves,” Louis reasons.
Harry doesn’t question it and pulls Louis back up his body so their lips can meet again.
The bright sunshine falls gently onto Louis’ naked form, creating shadows against his tan skin. Harry doesn’t care that he’s obviously staring; Louis’ just plain beautiful and Harry can’t help himself (and Louis' eyes are closed, so he doesn’t know).
“Stop staring at me,” Louis mumbles tiredly, one eye opening.
Okay, maybe he does know.
The curtains are only open slightly, and the one place the light decides to fall onto is the gorgeous boy in Harry’s bed, acting as a spotlight; Harry himself remains in the dark.
Louis had made love to him slowly but passionately, and Harry had never felt more loved in his life – even during the first time they slept together. Their lips only parted when it was completely necessary; even when they couldn’t actually kiss and just ended up panting into each other’s mouths.
Harry is taken from his thoughts when Louis takes his left arm and begins inspecting his bicep, running his fingers across it.
“When did you get these?” he asks, tracing around the star with a fingertip.
“Uh…not long after I turned eighteen.”
Louis mouth forms an ‘oh’ as he inspects the tattoos further, his cerulean eyes twinkling in interest. “Do they have any stories?”
“They’re all for, um, well parts of my life, I guess,” Harry shrugs, feeling slightly embarrassed about having to explain them. He’s never really told anyone – and he especially never thought he’d be telling Louis.
“Okay, what’s the star for?”
“Um, I had my first kiss under the stars, so…”
Louis nods in understanding, leaning forward and kissing the five-pointed shape gently, and when his finger skims over the next tattoo, Harry begins preparing an answer.
“So…what does this say? Won’t stop ‘till we…” Louis trails off, biting his lip when he realises what it says. “Surrender,” he finishes.
“I think it’s obvious…” Harry explains. “The song, remember?” He tries to imitate Louis’ dancing while lying down, which is a task in itself.
“Jesus, you’re a dork,” Louis mumbles fondly. “You got the words wrong though.”
Harry shrugs again. “I picked out the words I wanted on my body for the rest of my life.”
Louis nods as if to say ‘fair enough’ before leaning forward again, but instead of kissing it, he licks a long stripe the whole way across the lyric. Harry can’t quite hold back the shiver it creates.
“And this one?” Louis asks, much softer than before. He already knows what it means.
“Well, ‘Hi’ was the first thing I said to the love of my life, and-”
Louis stops his speaking by kissing the tattoo quickly before moving so he can kiss Harry’s lips instead, massaging them gently with his own and rolling Harry onto his back.
“You know it was the first thing you said to anyone though, right?” Louis says once he’s pulled away.
“That’s what I tell everyone else it’s for,” Harry replies, pecking Louis’ lips once more before rolling them back again so Louis is beneath him. “I love you,” he whispers.
“I love you too,” Louis whispers back, craning his neck up so their lips can meet again.
As the boys lay there in their little patch of sunlight, Harry thinks that perhaps now the rays will follow the both of them, as they won’t ever let each other go again. He doesn’t mind if he’s constantly stuck in the rain though, as he’ll always have his sunshine to brighten up his day.