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Never Let Me Go

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PROLOGUE

2 nd January, 2007

 

Friends don’t treat me like you do
Well I know there’s a limit to everything
But my friends won’t love me like you
No, my friends won’t love me like you
          — Friends, Ed Sheeran 

 

 

 

“C’mon, baby. I’m so close…”

Louis shuts his eyes, letting the pleasure of the moment overtake him. A mounting tension and warmth in his belly threaten to explode any minute now. He fucking loves getting his cock sucked - sue him - and boy, oh boy , this bloke’s really good. And he’s definitely fit, too. What’s his name again? Hendrick? Harrison? Something like that. Wasn't Hershel, that's for sure. That one was last week.

Louis tangles his hand in the guy’s hair, tugging slightly, his hips thrusting faster and harder into the guy’s mouth, fucking it relentlessly. And he’s got such pretty lips, so rosy, so glossy…

“I’m gonna… Oh God, I’m gonna come,” he pants, before emptying his load into that pretty mouth. A moan eases out of his throat. Damn. That was nice.

The guy swallows, then meets Louis’ gaze. He licks his lips seductively. He’s got nice hazel eyes, too. Too bad green eyes are his personal favourite. Well, you can’t always get what you want, can you?

“This was aces, man. Cheers,” Louis says, stretching to high-five the guy.

Just then, the tones of SexyBack by Justin Timberlake and Timbaland blasts in the room. Louis jumps at the sound.

“Shit, Hector, have you seen my phone?” he asks, starting to check his trouser pockets.

“It’s on the desk,” the guy says, heading to the bathroom. “And, by the way, it’s Hayden.”

Louis raises a thumb to acknowledge him, not bothering to apologize. He’s concentrating on the contact name flashing on his phone screen.

“Hey, H,” he says, grinning. “Guess what I’ve been doing? Or, well, who… this guy is, like, amazing at giving head, seriously. It’s a…”

A stunted sob from the phone stops his ranting. A crease forms on Louis’ forehead.  

“Haz? Harry, are you okay?”

“Lou, Josh… He d—” the voice over the phone breaks.

“Harry?” Louis frowns harder. “Talk to me, Haz, I’m getting worried here. What has he done?”

“He dumped me, Lou.”

Louis can hear sniffling.

“Oh, H,” he sighs. “I’m so sorry, babe. Where are you now?”

“I’m at this restaurant he brought me to. We had a fight, and then he broke up with me, and he just left.”

“Text me the name, will you?” Louis starts pulling on his trousers, looking around for the shirt he chucked somewhere in the room. “I’m on my way, okay? We’re gonna get pissed, and we’re gonna have fun, and you will forget about that twat in a heartbeat. I promise, love.”

Harry sniffs one more time. “Thanks, Lou,” he says sadly before hanging up.

Louis slips into his Vans without bothering to tie them.

Where the fuck did he put his shirt, for God’s sake?

His eyes wander through the room, meeting Hayden’s unimpressed gaze.

“You’re leaving.”

Louis shrugs his shoulders. “Sorry, mate. Something came up.”

Oh. Here it is, the bloody shirt, hidden by a stupid pillow.

“You owe me an orgasm, mate.” Hayden crosses his arms on his chest.

And… why did Louis hook up with him again? The guy’s so fucking boring. And his voice sounds as flat as day-old Coke. What had he seen in him? Louis rolls his eyes. That must be the reason he only let him suck his cock.

“Like I said, something’s come up,” Louis fakes a grin. “I’ll make it a double next time, darling.”

“There’ll be a next time?” Hayden says, lifting his lip with a thin hope.

Dear God, boring boring boring.

Louis pats him on the shoulder.

“Ha. Sorry, mate. Nice blowie, though. Really enjoyed it,” he says, before leaving the guy’s flat without turning back.

 

 

 

 

Less than an hour later, Louis enters the restaurant where Harry should be, looking for his friend.

Louis locates him almost immediately, sat all by himself, playing with the headscarf in his hands. He also looks so, so lovely. He’s in a red and blue plaid shirt, left unbuttoned on a simple white tee that shows off his collarbones and the sparrows he got tattooed just below – that represent himself and Louis, by the way, ‘cause yeah, they’re the kind of friends who get matching tattoos – paired with extremely skinny jeans and dark chocolate brown Chelsea boots. Just a shade darker than his hair. Louis’ heart breaks a little at the thought of his friend dressing up for a cunt who clearly did not deserve him.

“Hey, Haz,” he greets, slipping in to sit next to him. Louis can't help smiling when he sees that Harry’s frown disappears as soon as he spots Louis.

“Lou!” he exclaims, dimples deep as a canyon, making Louis’ insides melt. He might or might not have a soft spot for Harry’s dimples. So? Sue him. Who doesn’t?

“You came,” Harry says, inching closer.

“Of course I came, silly,” Louis bats him on the nose, and then he pulls him in for a hug, leaving a kiss on Harry’s curls. The curls are getting longer and longer these days...

Harry leans in in the touch, hugging him back, sighing happily. He rests his head on Louis’ shoulder, closing his eyes.

“How are you doing, baby? You seemed pretty upset on the phone, got me a bit worried.”

“Awww, sorry, Lou. I’m much better now that you’re here, though.”

Louis grins, hugging him tighter. “Glad to hear it, love. Also, I brought you your birthday present!”

“But, Louis” Harry frowns, detangling from him in order to look him in the eyes. “There’s still, like, a whole month left before my birthday.”

“Whatever, Haz. You were sad. I needed to cheer you up so I quickly stopped at home before going back to you. And here you are, your early birthday gift.”

Louis gives Harry a disastrously wrapped present, knowing that Harry won’t care. In fact, the boy just beams at him and starts to open it.

As soon as Harry spots what’s inside the box, Louis can see some tears forming in the corners of his eyes. Harry scrunches up his nose.

“Oh, c’mon Haz, don’t cry! The waiter is gonna think I’ve just broken your heart, too.”

Harry seems offended at the very thought. “You would never,” he declares, leaning in to hug Louis again.

“This is beautiful, Lou. I love it,” Harry says, a secret smile on his lips. “I really do.”
Louis feels his cheeks heating up.

“Don’t go all sappy on me now. It’s not a big deal,” he shrugs. “It’s just an old picture.”

But that’s not true, and Louis knows it. It’s more than an old picture, that's why he picked it for a portrait. It’s one of the first pictures of the two of them, taken three years prior, just after they had met. Neither of them was looking into the camera. They hadn’t even noticed someone was photographing them, too busy staring at each other. Harry was pouting ridiculously, hair much shorter, shoulders way smaller. And Louis, sporting an incredibly embarrassing haircut, was laughing heartily at him.

Harry was sixteen when he had moved to Doncaster with his mum and sister. He had been the goofy new guy who enrolled in school in the middle of the year. He talked too slowly and sounded too posh, and that was enough for a bunch of kids to start making fun of him.

Louis was a flamboyant eighteen-year-old, with a passion for awkward red trousers and the musical Grease, proud of his status as a senior student.

After witnessing a scene of some guys heartlessly mocking Harry, Louis had decided to take the younger boy under his wing. And they had been attached by the hip ever since.

Even their mums and siblings had become friends, after being forced to spend so much time together because of their close friendship. One year Louis might or might not have insisted that his mother invited Harry and his family to spend Christmas with them as he might miss him. In fact, not a day went by without their hanging out together. After graduating, Louis had even waited for Harry to finish high school as well, sticking around in Donny for a bit longer, so that they could move to London together as they’d always dreamed of.

And that’s what they had done. Look at them now: older, and wiser (well, Harry was, at least), and tougher (well, Louis was, because Harry was still a ridiculous sap), and prettier (both of them, definitely, even if Louis had to admit that Harry might be a tad bit cuter. But Harry has dimples, so it’s not like it’s a fair game), and still very much the bestest of friends.

And right now, Harry’s looking at Louis like he hung the fucking moon.

“Lou,” Harry murmurs, his eyes glimmering, “this is the best gift I’ve ever gotten.”

Louis’ grin grows wider. He can’t help it. “I’m happy you like it, Haz. And just so you know, I got myself an identical one and put it on my night table.”

“Awww, Lou, are you saying that I’ll be the last thing you’ll look at before sleeping and the first thing you see when you wake up?” Harry teases. He nudges Louis with his elbow, smiling. “I’ve always known there was a hopeless romantic in you.”

Louis rolls his eyes in response. “Shut up, Harold. I’m afraid you’ve mistaken me for yourself,” he mumbles under his breath. “I’m not the one who believes in soulmates and everlasting love and that kind of shit, thank God. Love is overrated anyway. Who needs a relationship when you can have a good fuck and then hang out with your best mate?”

Harry furrows his brows. “Everyone needs love, Lou. Don’t you know the song? All you need is love?”

“That’s a bullshit sentiment that may have worked back in the loved-up ‘60s, Harry, not now,” Louis replies. “I mean, how many long-lasting relationships do you know, anyway?” He raises an eyebrow. “Look at your mum. Look at me mum, for fuck’s sake, she got married three times and not one man has stuck around!”

Harry sighs, the corners of his mouth pointing down. “Just because it didn’t work for them it doesn’t mean we won’t find someone,” he whispers, voice getting thinner.  

“And maybe, just maybe, someday you’ll grow out this childish dream of a fairytale happily-ever-after, and realise that there’s only one thing that makes the world spin, and that’s good, great, fantastic sex,” Louis says. His tone is half serious, but there’s a smile on his lips. “But enough, Harry!” he adds, and smirks. “I promised you a night of alcohol and fun and that’s exactly what we’re gonna have!”

 

 

 

 

Four beers, two cocktails, and a couple of shots later, they definitely achieved the alcoholic part of the night. The fun one, though, not so much.

In fact, Harry has apparently managed to grow even more miserable and sad as the night proceeded.

Right now, he’s just glaring at the almost empty glass he has in front of him, shoulders low, brows knitted together.

“Harry,” Louis runs a hand through Harry’s hair. “I promised you fun and you’re not having fun right now, love,” he says, trying not to sound too worried. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just…” Harry’s brows knit even more. “I was thinking about what you said before. About love, and soulmates, and relationships, you know? And… what if you’re right, Lou?” he adds, voice breaking. “What if I never find anyone?”

“Oh, c’mon, H. You’re being tragic now. I’m the entitled drama queen here,” Louis tries to laugh, fading to a sigh when he gets no reaction from Harry.

He tries not to focus on the other boy’s trembling bottom lip. He fails.

“Okay, look at me, Hazza,” he says, gently lifting his friend’s chin to meet his gaze. Harry’s eyes are big and innocent and trusting, an endless pit of green and gold.

“First of all,” he starts, “of course you’re gonna find someone, baby. Just because Josh is a blind, deaf, emotionless cretin, it doesn’t mean everyone’s like him. And I assure you, everyone in this world, every single human being, would be goddamn lucky to get the chance to love you and to be loved by you, okay? You’re an amazing person. Honestly. I have no doubts you’re gonna find someone worthy of you.” Louis smiles, tangling his hand with Harry’s and squeezing it.

“Actually,” he adds, “I'm not really sure about the worthy part. I don’t reckon there’s anyone worthy of you, Curly.”

“I dunno,” Harry mumbles, shaking his head. “What if I do end up alone, though? I can already see myself in ten years. I’ll be thirty – basically an old man – and lonely and unloved and unwanted by anyone except the four or five cats I’ll surely have.”

“Don’t be silly, H,” Louis scolds. “There’ll be at least seven cats.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “You don’t get it,” he whispers, frowning, letting his curls slip forward enough to partially cover his face.

And, c’mon. How is Louis supposed to handle it? He can’t stand this too soft and too sad version of Harry, so close to resemble the sixteen-year-old boy crying because everyone would make fun of him. He just can’t. He needs to do something. He needs to. Louis bites on his lower lip, trying to focus. He’s too drunk.

And then it clicks.

“Harry! I’ll tell you what,” Louis exclaims, clapping his hands together. There’s a big grin on his face. “If both of us are still single by your thirtieth birthday, we’ll marry each other.”

Harry’s head snaps up, eyes widening. “What?”

“Yeah! If neither of us will have found someone to settle down with, we’ll marry each other. It’s a wonderful idea, innit?”

Harry opens his mouth, and then closes it. And then opens it again. He really does look like a frog, but a cute one. An extremely cute one.

“Are you shitting me, Louis?” he asks, frowning, and what the hell? He’s not supposed to frown anymore. That was the whole point.

“Stop frowning, love, please,” Louis pleads. “I’m not shitting you. I mean it. I promise. I’ll swear it on me mum, if you want.” Louis brings his left hand to his heart, and nods. “Actually, you know what? You should put this down. You’re gonna become one fancy lawyer, right? Write a contract, and I’ll sign it.”

And Harry finally laughs, throwing his head back. “You got it, Lou! I’ll do it right now,” he says.

Harry stretches to grab a paper napkin and a pen from the next table. He starts writing, brows wrinkled, the tip of his tongue poking out between his lips.

“All right. Sign here,” Harry says. Louis, half smiling, takes the napkin and writes his name. His signature looks a bit shaky – too much alcohol – but it’s readable. It’ll do.

“There you go,” Louis hands him back the napkin, smiling broadly. “Show this to me in ten years, and I’ll marry you.”

“Lou,” Harry’s looking at him with stars in his eyes. “Are you serious?”

“Well, I signed, right?” Louis jokes. “Plus, you’re the only one who could possibly lead me to marriage anyway, Harry. Seriously. I would get annoyed by anyone else.”

Harry says tentatively, “Are we really doing this? Is this for real?”

“Yeah, Harry, I told you,” Louis nods, squeezing Harry’s shoulder. “This is a real deal.”

“So…” Harry clears his throat. “Should we seal it?”

And, well, has Harry always been this close? He’s so close to Louis, Louis could easily count his eyelashes, one by one. And his lips, what the hell? Louis never noticed how pink they are (okay, that's a lie. He has).

“Tell me, Curly, how do you suggest we seal it?” Louis says, smirking.

“A kiss would do, I reckon.” Harry’s voice is so damn low and husky. Louis swallows. 

“Yeah, I reckon a kiss would be appropriate,” Harry adds. His gaze lowers. Is he looking at Louis’ lips? Fuck. Louis’ enjoying this piece of information way too much.

“Well, you’re the expert here,” Louis tries to joke, but his own voice has dropped, too. “And tell me, Styles, are you planning on sealing all of your future deals as an attorney with a kiss? ‘Cause I think your clients might be willing to queue for that…”

“No,” Harry says, suddenly serious, no trace of a smile left on his face. “No. Just you.”

He leans in, touches his lips to Louis’, and they’re kissing. It’s sweet and tentative, at first, just lips brushing on lips, sheepishly chasing each other.
Louis can hear Harry sigh, and then Harry’s hand is on his neck, bringing him even closer. Harry opens his mouth and lets his tongue caress Louis’ lips, and Louis let go, allowing it. And suddenly, it’s that type of kisses where teeth collide.

Now, Louis has had a fair number of kisses in his twenty-two years of life. He's had lascivious, tentative, wet, sneaky, fast, hard, drunken, seductive kisses. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to this one.

Harry takes control and Louis immediately grows pliant under him. Their lips are soft against each other, their tongues enlaced in a dance. Louis is trying not to moan aloud. The kiss is wild and hungry and fierce, but also so warm— no, it’s fucking hot, and Louis’ burning from the inside.

He doesn’t know how long they keep kissing, but when they untangle themselves from each other, they’re both breathless. They look away almost immediately, clearly taken aback.

Harry’s curls are messy, his cheeks rosy, his eyes dark. His pupils fill his eyes, rimmed by a halo of golden green. He looks amazing. So fucking handsome.
Louis’ head is spinning and he’s not sure it’s because of the alcohol.

“So,” Harry mumbles, his voice still rough. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yeah,” Louis’ breathing is still uneven. “Yeah, we have a deal.”