Part of it are the lights.
The feeling of white hot lights burning into his back as he sprints down the field, lungs threatening to give out, sending fire coursing through his veins and to his brain. It only pushes him further, his feet all but a blur beneath him, pulling him past the forty yard line to the thirty, to twenty and then ten, and he hears the crowd before he sees them, all stomping and screaming, all muddling into his brain, and it turns into only vague recollections of shouts.
He passes the goal line. He thinks the crowd gets even louder. He allows himself a smile into his mouthguard, just for him.
The lights are part of it, and so is the crowd and the adrenaline burn and the attention and the glory. He loves his sport, loves the field and the ball and the team. He’s never loved anything more. Well.
He turns to the crowd and pulls his helmet off, pumping his arms and waving the helmet and ball around, pulling a larger grin for the people. They respond, cheering and chanting Go Warhawks! and if he allows his ego to get large enough, he thinks he can hear Styles being chanted as well.
That’s not why he turned to the crowd. He sees it in the middle, a bright gold sign shining in the center, being waved by what would be a particularly avid fan, if the lettering didn’t read Harry Styles Sucks in bold blue.
Eloquent, Harry thinks. He rolls his eyes and points to the sign holder, and then to the ball, mouthing for you. A few eyes turn to look at the sign holder, and the students nudge each other knowingly, smug smirks appearing on their faces as the sign holder gives Harry the finger and mouths back fuck you.
Harry feels himself smile, not for himself or for the crowd, but one just for his boy.
After all, he does love something more than football.
And now, after the game, Harry Styles stands in the middle of the football field, stands empty with the smell of grass and paint and sweat lingering in the air, lights pulling his shadow down the field. He has never felt bigger than when the lights make him appear like a giant amongst everyone else, where his shadow looks more like who he should be rather than who he is.
A thump at the back of his head pulls him out of his thoughts and he frowns, turning around to begin to yell, or something, but instead a smile spreads on his face, one brighter than the lights, he thinks.
“Ahhh!!” The initiator throws his arms up in mock enthusiasm, putting his hands on his face and gasping. “It’s Harry Styles!”
Harry shakes his head, but can’t shake the grin off his face. “Louis,” he says, and makes grabby hands to somehow pull him closer, so Harry can touch him, so Harry can feel something. “Louis, come here.”
Louis rolls his eyes and takes his leisure when walking to Harry, the few feet separating them closing in. He stops just inches away from Harry’s nose — if Harry were to lean over, their lips would be touching — and Harry curls his fists to keep from reaching out to caress Louis’s skin, the soft part that stretches over his hipbone, the part where Harry left a blossoming purple bruise a week ago.
It’s been too long. They both feel it. The air between them is getting hard to breathe.
Louis’s eyes flicker over Harry’s lips. and if Harry wasn’t so attuned to Louis, he wouldn’t of heard the small gasp Louis let out. Louis swallows and smiles tightly, turning his gaze to Harry’s eyes, and Harry opened his mouth to ask why Louis is so quiet, and why the skin around his eyes are red, and why his blue eyes — those blue, blue eyes, the ones that Harry has fallen asleep dreaming about and woken up thinking about, are so hazy.
Louis beats him to it first; he always wins.
“I’m cold,” Louis whispers between them, and Harry is shrugging off his jacket before he even finishes his sentence. Louis bites his lip to keep from smiling, slipping the jacket over his shoulders, it falling to his thighs, over his hands. It took Harry’s breath away the first time he saw Louis in his clothes, and Harry doesn’t think it will ever stop.
Harry brushes back a piece of hair that has fallen into his eyes. Louis’s eyes follow his hands. “That’s what you always say,” he says.
Louis grabs the tips of Harry’s fingers, swinging their arms between the two of them. Harry feels shivers run down his spine, Louis’s skin cold against his. Louis leans forward the slightest bit, knocking his head into Harry’s chest, as if trying to wrap himself in Harry’s arms.
Harry knows Louis, and he knows this is the closest thing he’ll ever get to an I miss you, so he wraps his arms around Louis’s waist, burying his nose into his hair. “I missed you too,” Harry whispers into his hair. He smells like caramel.
Louis pushes off Harry’s chest, and bends down — Harry’s heart skips a beat — only to pick up the football that has landed at their feet. Louis shimmies his shoulders as he walks backwards, raising his eyebrows as a smile spreads on his face.
“Tomlinson gets the ball, sprinting past the forty yard line,” Louis yells, as he turns and begins to run across the field. “Where is the defense?” He throws a wink over his shoulder before he begins bounding towards the other end of the field, lights still shining bright.
Harry smiles into his hand before following; he’ll always chase Louis, and Louis will always know this. He sprints past forty, thirty, and yells, laughter between his words, “Styles catches up, right on Tomlinson’s heels.”
Louis turns suddenly, running towards the sidelines. Harry skids back on his heels, knees landing in the dirt, and Louis does nothing but roll his eyes. “Shoddy work by Styles, letting Tomlinson right through his hands.” Louis grins and skips carelessly towards the end zone, taking his time. “The other team doesn’t even have a chance.”
Harry picks himself up and sprints past twenty, laughter floating into the air and settling into the grass. He thinks he can hear Louis’s giggles settle against his. “Styles is catching up,” Harry says, voice echoing down the field. “Styles also thinks Tomlinson is spewing bullshit.”
Louis turns around, running backwards, his lip caught in his teeth, the way it sometimes does when he smiles. He raises his eyebrows. “Tomlinson doesn’t think Styles will make it.” He throws his arms out, shrugging. “Tomlinson also thinks Styles should shut his — ”
The screech that Louis lets out when Harry tackles is almost comical, but Harry receives a knee to the stomach before he can laugh. They both crash to the ground, Louis screaming Harry, you big oaf! but the malice isn’t there, replaced with giggles and smiles and Harry buries his face into Louis’s neck, his heart in his throat, his brain turned to nothing.
He can’t think when he’s with Louis. It’s what got him here. It’s why he’s here. It’s why he wraps his arms underneath Louis’s waist, why he grasps him tighter, as if Louis were to fall through his fingertips. It’s why he litters his neck with marks, purple bruises lining his throat, his lips pink. It’s why he bites Louis’s shoulder, to keep from going to his knees and begging for Louis’s forgiveness, begging for him to see, to believe him, to understand why things are the way they are.
Harry says no one understands. Louis says he’s the only one who does.
“So.” Louis cards his hands through Harry’s curls, his fingers twirling, knotting his hair further. “You smell gross.”
Harry huffs against his shoulder, pulling himself up so he’s eye to eye with Louis. “That happens when you spend two hours on a field with a whole bunch of boys. Sweat ensues.”
“How could anyone possibly forget our star quarterback, Harry Styles?” Louis pokes Harry’s face, squishing his cheeks together. Louis pushes Harry down, straddling either side of Harry’s hips. He rocks his body back, putting his weight onto Harry’s bulge. “How many of them know their star quarterback just loves getting sweaty with other boys?”
“Louis.” He swallows. His hands find Louis’s waist, stilling his body. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Louis leans down, pressing his lips to Harry’s. It’s more teeth than anything else, but the same feeling overwhelms Harry everytime, the same desperation that comes over the two of them, the way they both won’t stop until the other gives in.
This time, it’s Harry. “Louis,” he says, taking a deep breath of air. Louis raises an eyebrow at him, cheeks flushed pink.
“What is it?” Louis bends down again, biting at Harry’s jaw, his neck, trailing kisses up to his ear. “What is it, Harry Styles,” he whispers, then bites at the skin beneath Harry’s ear. “What has you so upset?”
Louis is mocking him, pouting his lips, then littering his face with kisses, holding Harry’s face in mock sincerity. “Why are you so scared?”
Harry pushes Louis off just enough to sit up on his elbows. “Louis, we can’t. Not here. My dad — ” Louis looks at him, the same expression he has every other time this happens, a small smile on his face but something else lingering behind his eyes, and Harry would do anything to see it go away.
“Oh, yes.” Louis leans more weight onto Harry’s hardness, biting his lips and smirking. “Coach Styles might see his son snogging another boy.” Harry swallows as he feels Louis rock harder onto him, his pants considerably tighter than they were five minutes ago. “Because that would be so bad.”
Harry doesn’t know what to say — he does, actually, but he has said it before, and it makes no difference — so he doesn’t say anything, and instead he grabs Louis’s ribs and flips them around, Harry suited between Louis’s thighs.
“Please, shut up.” Harry knocks his forehead against Louis’s, breathing in the same air. His fingers linger on Louis’s throat, the skin always so cold. “You, just. Shut up.”
He presses their lips together, slow and steady, Harry melting into it, his entire body weight sinking on top of Louis. Louis whines into his mouth, trying to get more of Harry, more of everything, moremoremore.
Harry gives it to him, grinds into the spread of his legs further, slips his tongue into Louis’s mouth. Louis sighs, his hands trailing underneath Harry’s shirt, fingers drawing circles onto his back.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Harry whispers against Louis’s lips. The blue of Louis’s eyes are hazy, in the slightest way they always get. They make Harry want to write poems about them, or something, if Harry was good at that sort of thing.
“Yet here we are,” Louis says, smiling against Harry’s mouth. Harry’s heart skips a beat, and he bends down to kiss Louis again, harder and more bruising.
“You drive me crazy,” Harry whispers it between the two of them like some sort of secret. He runs his hands up and down Louis’s waist, into the dip of his back, sliding over his ass. “You drive me fucking insane.”
And it’s true, because Harry can’t even form proper thoughts sometimes, can’t even get the words out. Sometimes he finds himself staring at Louis when he’s supposed to be listening in class, he gets lost in conversations when he’s replaying the ones he had with Louis the night before. He remembers every single word.
He’s not sure if Louis does.
Harry pulls back the slightest bit, the air between them still the same. Louis looks up at him with stars in his eyes, glittering in the lights of the football field. “I need,” Harry breathes in, then out. “I need to get going.”
Louis narrows his eyes, licking his lips. He pushes Harry back and they both sit up on the grass, inches apart from each other. It’s still too far, and Harry wants to hold him, wants to always hold his hand, take care of him.
“What’s wrong, baby?” It occurs to Harry after he says it that Louis might not be particularly open to pet names right now, and he’s correct when Louis narrows his eyes further and stands up, crossing his arms.
“I thought we were going on a date,” Louis says, and it sounds like he’s trying to be menacing but there’s a certain softness to his words, and it only makes Harry want to hold him more because Louis doesn’t do soft, at least not purposely. “What came up that is so important?”
Harry stands up, reaches out to grab Louis’s hand but he retracts it as if Harry were poison to him. He swallows tightly, hands hanging by his sides without anyone to hold. “My dad.” And he sees the slight flinch Louis tries to mask. He fails. “I wasn’t home all last weekend, and he’s getting suspicious.”
“You weren’t home all weekend because you were with me.” Louis’s voice cracks at the end and Harry just wants to wraps his arms around him, but Louis is so distant, walking backwards towards the gates. Always going away.
Harry’s hands are shaking. “He doesn’t know that.”
“You don’t want him to know,” Louis corrects, and he looks at Harry, the same cool expression he wears at school, the one he gives to everyone, the one he doesn’t give to Harry except now.
And Harry wants to grab Louis by the shoulders and shake him and make him understand and he also wants to punch a wall and he also kind of wants to jump off a cliff but he doesn’t do any of that and instead he watches Louis leave because Harry isn’t good at a lot of things but he is really good at doing nothing and he’s even better at making everything a mess and he just wants to be able to hold his hand and kiss him and fuck him and wrap his arms around him but he can’t he can’t he can’t.
The lights shut off.
Harry remembers the first time he saw Louis Tomlinson.
He had an air about him; the new kid, fresh from England. The majority of the kids in his town had never even left the state, much less the country. He was mysterious, an enigma among the crowd, complete with startling blue eyes and a smile that said you don’t know me, and you don’t know anything.
Or, like. Something like that.
Because Harry never remembered looking at a boy and thinking about their eyes (they are blue and Harry wants to drown in them) and Harry never remembered thinking a smile was something worth thinking about (Louis’s makes Harry’s heart skip a beat) and Harry never remembered his gaze lingering on the dip of a boy’s waist, but Harry had never seen Louis before.
None of them had. Because just as people defined time as BC and AD, Harry and his friends — in a terribly cliche and embarrassing way (the way highschoolers typically are, in Harry’s defense) — defined their high school careers into two distinct sections: before Louis and after Louis.
Before Louis looked something like this: people woke up, they went to school, they survived, they went home.
Harry went for runs at four in the morning to get out of the house, Harry ate breakfast alone in the park, Harry smiled at school but never knew what he was smiling about, Harry went home, Harry survived, Harry kissed random girls at parties, Harry drank shitty beer to forget that he kissed random girls, Harry played football, Harry still managed to breathe.
After Louis looked like this: people woke up, they went to school, they waited for Louis to arrive, they parted ways for him, they stared, they followed, they talked and waved and smiled for him, they would whisper about him behind his back, they were invested, they were interested, there was a piece of Louis for everyone.
Harry went for runs at four in the morning to walk Louis to school, Harry ate breakfast with Louis in the park, Harry smiled at school because of Louis, Harry never went home, Harry lived, Harry kissed a boy, Harry fucked a boy, Harry drank shitty beer because he’s a fucking highschooler and he can, Harry loved football, Harry breathed for Louis, Harry lived for Louis, Harry was fucking in love.
Harry is in love.
But. He’s getting ahead of himself.
It first happened on a Sunday morning, three weeks into Harry’s senior year.
A particularly rainy day, dismal in all things that mattered. Grey clouds hovered above them and rain pelted their shoulders, seeping into their bones. Rain, Harry remembers thinking, makes everything just a bit more lifeless, a bit of an ache in the chest, the head.
Harry didn’t know it at the time, but it was the last day of summer.
(Harry, a firm believer of fate and destiny, tries to not think too much about the fact that maybe the world was trying to warn him about the inevitable fortunate — or unfortunate, Harry still can’t tell — thing that was about to happen to him.)
(He doesn’t linger too long on the thought.)
They were given a five minute water break, where most of the boys huddled under the roof of the concessions, sitting on benches that lined the walls. Harry and Liam made their way over to the bleachers, making idle conversation about the weather or something equally as dull.
Harry was taking a drink of water when he eyed a figure in the stands. He shook his head and continued his chat about a football play or the girl Liam was currently infatuated with or something that Harry apparently did not find important enough to remember.
Liam said something about needing to use the bathroom, and Harry was left alone circling the bleachers. He remembers looking up and seeing the same curled up figure, umbrella lying unused at his side, hood up.
“Hey!” He remembers shouting. The figure had looked up and dropped something, maybe a pencil. Harry got one good look at their face before someone nudged his shoulder and he turned back around, into the field.
“What’re you shouting at?” Nathan, a running back, had asked.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows and pointed at the stands. He doesn’t know the guy’s name. “That guy up there.”
Nathan had looked back at the stands and looked at Harry, laughing. “Don’t see anything. Lay off the beers or something next time, alright? Must be imagining something.” And he left Harry with a pat on the back, a shrug of the shoulders.
Harry shook his head and turned back to the stands. They were empty. But something lingered. He didn’t know the guy’s name.
There are few things good about living in a town with a population with less thousands than Harry can count on one hand. He has no privacy and no freedom and a general feeling of being stuck, but. As a rule of thumb, living in such a small town means knowing everybody, and knowing everybody means knowing their names.
Harry knows the name of the boy who delivers the morning paper and the woman he passes by on his daily jog and the baker who sends him off with a muffin and a warm smile on the days he stops in and he knows everybody and he has since as long as he could remember.
Must be the rain, Harry remembers thinking.
Louis is ignoring him.
Harry knows because of the fourteen missed calls, and the stubborn silence that Louis had given him all throughout English, and the burning sensation in his back during history that he knew was Zayn, which only meant that Louis told Zayn something, which only left a feeling of ugly, ugly jealousy.
Harry also knows Louis enough, though, that he knows that he doesn’t really want to be left alone. He also knows that because of his jacket that hangs off Louis’s shoulders on Monday and today. And that a sticky note was left on his locker with the most passive aggressive smiley face written on it, x’s for eyes the way only one person he knows draws them. And that dirt immediately pouring out of his locker as he opened it this morning can only mean one thing.
Louis wants attention. And attention he is getting.
Harry is waiting by Louis’s locker at the end of the day, knowing glances passing him by. A girl nudges him as she walks by and rolls her eyes, says something along the lines of don’t be too mean to him, Styles.
Of course. Because rumors of Louis’s prank have already circulated around the school and the whispers and giggles he receives as he walks down the halls are not his imagination. The feud of Harry hates Louis, and Louis hates Harry is age old and something that neither of them started but something that keeps other rumors — rumors of something much worse than them hating each other — away.
But. Louis does a pretty good job of acting like he hates Harry most of the time. Harry actually does a fairly awful job, but his lingering gazes and public displays of admiration could be taken as sardonic displays of deep rooted hatred, so. They take it as they go.
Louis is walking with Zayn as he nears his locker. His footsteps slow down as he sees Harry. He says something to Zayn, and Zayn walks away, but not before leaning into Louis’s arms and giving him a hug, his hand low enough to have Harry’s jaw clenching, the hand by his side curling into a fist.
Zayn pulls away first and walks past Harry, no further contact. Through the few interactions he and Zayn have had, he knows that no contact means more than any, in a way.
“Hi, baby,” Harry says and leans against the wall near Louis’s locker. The halls have mostly cleared out, anyway. Harry doesn’t have to be afraid.
Louis gives him an unimpressed eyebrow raise. Right.
Harry clears his throat and leans in closer, crowding into Louis’s space. “I missed you,” he says. No reaction. “You look beautiful today. Like you in my clothes.” His varsity jacket hangs off of Louis’s shoulders, a couple sizes too big.
“You like me no matter what,” Louis says, then scrunches his nose like he didn’t mean to.
“You’re right.” Harry grins at the response. It’s more than he’s gotten in the last three days, and he’s missed the sound of Louis’s voice. “I do.”
Louis huffs and shoves Harry, without any malice behind it. He goes to enter his combination, and as he opens his locker, a wall of yellow sunflowers come to be sprawled on the floor, filled to the brim of Louis’s locker.
“Is this your idea of an apology?” Louis asks, and the corners of his mouth are turned down in an exaggerated frown, the kind that he only does when he’s trying not to laugh. “Because it kind of sucks.”
Harry waves both his hands in the air. “Surprise, baby.” There is a smile threatening Louis’s lips if he looks close enough. “Sunflowers are your favorite.”
“Congratulations on being a half decent boyfriend.” Louis’s voice is dripping in sarcasm and he claps his hands together slowly. He picks his backpack up and before he can pull the straps over his own shoulders, Harry grabs it from him.
“I deserve boyfriend of the year,” Harry says as Louis walks in front of him. He smiles to himself, his varsity jacket hanging proudly on Louis. Harry doesn’t think his name ever looked more beautiful than when it is sprawled across Louis’s back.
Louis is still facing away from him as he exits the school. “Oh, yes of course,” he says, and he can hear the roll of his eyes. “Boyfriend of the decade.”
“Of the century.” Louis looks over his shoulder and Harry winks.
Louis shakes his head and turns back around. The leaves are crunching underneath their feet as they walk past the parking lot, onto the sidewalk. It smells of fall, rain and decaying trees, orange and yellow surrounding the walkway to the school.
Harry catches up to Louis, walking side by side. He drops his hand to his side, letting the tips of their fingers brush, shivers rushing down Harry’s spine.
Louis stares at their hands and retracts his own. It only kind of breaks Harry’s heart. “I’m still mad at you,” he begins. “Just to clarify.”
No, he isn’t. “No, you aren’t,” Harry says. “You’re just being stubborn. And you miss me.”
“Awfully strong accusations for someone who wants to keep their head,” Louis says, sticking his tongue out at Harry. Harry nudges him off the sidewalk the slightest bit, which causes Louis to push Harry into the street, which causes Harry to run after Louis, who is already running, his laughter echoing in the air.
Harry chases Louis; that’s how it’s always been and that’s how it always will be.
They’re at the older part of town, now. The buildings are smaller and made of red brick, small townhouses lining the streets. The leaves crunch beneath the two of them, finally slowing down and resuming their walk, and this time when Harry brushes their fingers together, Louis intertwines them.
“Why are you here?” Louis asks, in midst of the silence. The streets are empty, and they both know that’s the only reason they can do what they’re doing. A bird flies over them, awfully late for November, Harry thinks. “Don’t you have practice?”
Harry runs a thumb over the freckle on Louis’s hand. “I do,” he says. “But I wanted to walk my boy home.”
Louis hums knowingly and turns to Harry, poking him in the cheek. “And what else?”
“I can’t just walk my boyfriend home because I want to?” Harry gasps and put a hand to his chest in dramatics and not at all because the word boyfriend still causes his heart to skip a beat. Louis purses his lips and nods for Harry to continue. “And also because I haven’t been playing properly. The boys have been noticing.”
There’s a pause in the air. The words your dad has been noticing hang between them. Neither of them try to take it.
“So, skipping practice is going to make this all better?” Louis looks up into the trees, the shades of autumn falling around them. “Makes perfect sense.”
Nothing makes perfect sense with Louis, but Harry doesn’t say that. “I think spending time with my boyfriend,” Harry takes a breath, for himself, mostly, “will put me back into shape.”
“And Coach Styles most definitely signed off on this whole plan of yours?” Louis grins and leans into Harry’s side, the space between their hips burning.
Harry swallows and stops in front of Louis’s house, an old thing of two stories and deteriorating brick, yellow leaves covering the impeccable garden that would flourish every summer. He hovers in front of Louis and pulls him in close, letting their foreheads knock together. There’s something boiling up inside of Harry; it’s been there for a while now, the need to have Louis close, always, forever.
Forever. It’s not something either of them have ever talked about, but it’s all Harry thinks about these days. A forever with Louis, a type of forever where Harry can hold his hand in the hallways at school and in the street without worry of someone finding them and Harry could bring him on dates to the theatre and the park and out to dinner and Harry could introduce him to his parents and a forever where they wouldn’t have to be afraid.
Where Harry wouldn’t have to be afraid. Louis isn’t. Louis isn’t afraid of anything.
“Coach Styles,” the words roll off of Harry’s tongue, bitter and distasteful, “doesn’t have to know about everything.”
Louis smiles, his eyes landing on Harry’s lips. “I suppose he doesn’t.” And he leans up, pressing into Harry’s body, his mouth. They fall together easily, as they always have, Harry’s hands finding Louis’s waist and Louis’s hands coming to find their way into Harry’s curls.
“So,” Louis says as they break away, grin pulling at both their lips. “Here is what’s going to happen. You’re going to kiss me goodbye, and go back to practice. And tonight you’re going to come to my window and if I feel up to it, I’ll let you come inside.”
“What if you’re not feeling up to it?”
“Then,” Louis begins, curling his fingers further into Harry’s hair. “You’re going to wait until I’m ready. Right?”
Harry lets go of Louis’s waist and goes to pick up their backpacks he previously left on the ground. “Of course, Princess.”
Louis grabs his backpack and shoves it over his shoulders. “And now I want my goodbye kiss.” He opens his arms wide and Harry steps in between them, leaning down to brush their lips and pull them in, his arms sneaking around to the small of Louis’s back.
“I said a goodbye kiss, not a snog,” Louis says between laughs, pulling away to walk down the pathway to his front door, brick stone lining his way. “You filthy animal.”
Harry frowns and leans against the tree standing at the front of the lot, scoffing. “I’ll miss you, baby! Tell your aunt I said hello!”
Louis hums and turns from where he’s jingling with his keys at the front door. “Because Barbara misses you so much!”
Harry grins and messes with his own backpack, trying to focus on the crunch of the leaves and the sound of the wind. He looks up as Louis is shutting the door, and the feeling of his skin being too small for his body and the itch beneath his hands burns up.
“I love you!” He shouts at the last moment, and the door pauses on it’s way shut.
Louis sticks his head out the door, laughter heard from across the street, probably. “I know!” And he shuts the door.
Harry sighs and looks up into the sky. He lets out one scream, a shout so loud he thinks the neighbors will probably tell him to stuff a sock in it, but. Nobody comes, and he walks back to school, definitely not thinking about forever.
That practice, he plays better than he has in a month.
The words Louis Tomlinson echoed down Harry’s school hallways that Monday.
Harry knew three things about Louis Tomlinson before he ever laid eyes on him. Courtesy of his second period study hall — which most days, consisted of Liam and Niall competing to see who can make the best paper airplane, and Harry and some guys from the team playing paper football. Senior study hall at its finest. Some days, Harry would budge in on the girls’ conversations, which would consist of Perrie Edwards and her strange tendency of knowing everything about everyone.
One. “He’s from England or something,” Perrie had said and brushed her bubblegum pink hair over her shoulders, light mint on the tips of her fingers. She picked at one of her nails. “It doesn’t really matter where he’s from, but his accent.” Harry remembers Perrie sighing dramatically and sprawling her hands across her desk. “Is so cute.”
Two. “He likes sunflowers.” Harry had rolled his eyes, told Perrie off for making that up. When he asked how she could have possibly known that, she shrugged. “I don’t know,” she had said. “I asked him to tell me something about himself, and that’s what he said.”
Three. “He’s like,” Perrie paused and took a breath, closing her eyes. “So beautiful. The most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on. I swear, Harry, he isn’t even real.”
Isn’t real, Harry remembers thinking. It had certainly felt like it, that morning. Everyone seemed to have seen him, and everyone was whispering the words Louis Tomlinson, hushed and revered, a secret among the student body. He attended classes just like them, he walked the same halls and used the same bathrooms and talked to the same teachers. He was just like one of them, but he wasn’t.
Harry saw him first in English.
It’s the class he had before lunch so naturally, he sat at his desk, looking longingly out the window and thought about the free period he had to be able to sit outside and talk to his own heart’s content. Which wasn’t much those days, if he thought about it. There wasn’t much to talk about. There wasn’t much of anything.
Harry doesn’t fully remember the first three weeks of his senior year, just that they were wholeheartedly underwhelming in every way possible. Days passed the same as they always did, and as always, they dragged on and he saw the same people and the same buildings and he doesn’t know why, because those things never particularly bothered him before. But it did those first few weeks, the dull people and the dull buildings and dull classes and that’s all he remembers.
He remembers this Tuesday, and every day after that, with perfect clarity.
“Styles,” the teacher had said from the front of the class. Harry turned his head up and quirked an eyebrow. He was chewing gum.
“We have a new student today,” she said, and motioned towards the empty chair next to Harry. “I expect you to catch him up on the material we’ve already covered. Mr. Tomlinson, if you’ll take your seat.”
The first thing Harry thought was he was so much smaller than he expected. For someone who seemed to have spread through the student body like wildfire, his name muttered even on the lips of people who claimed to have no interest in the tasteless gossip of high schoolers, he was small and strangely delicate, like if someone were to hold him in their arms, his bones would break.
Harry blinked a few times. What was he doing.
Louis sat in his own seat, twirling his pencil around. If he knew Harry was there, he didn’t acknowledge it.
The second thing he noticed about Louis Tomlinson was his clothing. He wore white overalls, and a striped shirt underneath. He covered his feet in Vans, and if Harry remembers correctly, he was wearing pink socks.
“Hey,” Harry said, and he had waved a hand, setting it in front of him. “I’m Harry. Styles. Harry Styles.” What was he doing.
Louis had turned and given a lackluster expression, eyes narrowing. “Louis,” was all he said, and that is all Harry got out of him.
Later that day, as he was standing in front of his car with the rest of his friends, he remembers seeing a figure walk past them and towards the paths. They were wearing a striped shirt. He had made his friends wait a moment for him, and ran for the paths leaving away from school, the leaves just beginning their red hues.
“Louis!” He yelled. The figure didn’t stop walking, and Harry didn’t know why he just didn’t stop there. “Louis, hey!” He ran further until he could reach his hand out to grab his shoulder and turn him.
He has blue eyes, Harry remembers thinking. Louis looked up at him, the blue a certain type of startling against the gray rain that covered his town. Louis rolled his eyes and continued walking, this time Harry trailing a bit behind.
“I’m, uh.” Harry’s words got jumbled in his mouth, his lips hanging open dumbly. He swallowed. “It’s Harry. From English. Harry Styles.”
“I know,” Louis said and walked a bit faster, water sloshing into his shoes. If Harry looked closer that day, he would have noticed the flush of red in Louis’s cheeks.
Harry coughed. “I was wondering when you’d want to meet up to go over the notes.” Louis didn’t bother to look at him. “Since the teacher.” Harry fumbled over his words. He never does. Never. He shook his head. “The teacher wanted me to — ”
Louis stopped, abruptly enough that Harry nearly tripped over his own feet. He turned to Harry. “I don’t need your help, Harry Styles,” Louis said and looked over Harry’s shoulder, biting his lip. “I would rather like it if you would just leave me alone, actually.”
He turned back around and this time, Harry didn’t bother following him.
“I have a brilliant idea.”
Harry winces as he hears the words comes out of Louis’s mouth. “Must I remind you how your last brilliant idea went?”
“That was not my fault,” Louis says and sticks his nose in the air. “It was Niall’s for being incompetent and not following my instructions.”
The song changes on Harry's old radio, sound crackling between them. Harry sighs and rubs his eyes, back sore. He lays out on Louis’s bed, sheets soft beneath his fingers. He feels as though he could melt into them. “You set off the fire alarms.”
“After school hours,” Louis leans back in his chair, a pencil twirling in his fingers. “So it doesn’t count.”
Harry rolls over and buries his face in Louis’s sheets, sweet coffee engulfing him. “Can’t we just lay down for a bit?” He mumbles into the pillow. “I’ll eat you out, or something.”
“As tempting as that is,” Louis says, and he feels a weight lie down next to him. Louis nudges him until he turns over, and it’s on instinct that he opens his arms to allow Louis to cuddle up against him. “I will not rest until the school’s pool is turned into jello.”
Louis’s hands are cold. Harry wraps one hand around Louis’s both, pulling them between their bodies, their stomachs. “And you’re planning on doing this tonight? Alone?”
“Of course not,” Louis scoffs and his breath hitches as Harry’s hand travels downward, under his shirt to rest on his bare stomach. “Tomorrow night. And I have Zayn. And you.”
Harry’s hand curls at the name Zayn. It’s unfair how quickly that makes him turn over, settling between Louis’s legs. Louis gasps but settles into his sheets, seeping into them the way he has done a thousand times before, legs sprawled out for Harry.
“If I didn’t know any better, I would almost say someone was a little jealous,” Louis says and wiggles his eyebrows, fingers tangling themselves in Harry’s hair. Harry groans and hides his face in Louis’s shoulder, biting at the sharp angle of his collarbone, his soft skin.
Louis giggles and pulls Harry up, their lips coming together. He tastes of tea and something else Harry can’t put his finger on. “So,” Louis whispers between them as they pull apart. “You are going to help me, right?”
Harry is almost offended that is even a question. “Can I eat you out?”
“I guess,” Louis sighs and drops his head on the pillow. “If you insist.”
Harry grins against Louis’s lips. “Then I guess I’ll help you wreak havoc on the school.” Harry would have helped him no matter what, but he doesn’t say that. They both know it. Harry could never refuse Louis anything.
Harry comes to Louis looking for soft skin and loud laughs and the way he bites his lip when he’s thinking and his smile when his favorite song on the radio comes on, tugging on Harry’s hand until Harry twirls him around and they fall together in a heap of laughter. Harry comes to Louis to make his tea and the scrunch of Louis’s nose when he can never get it quite right and the nights spent on the roof laughing about nothing and everything with the wine Harry stole from his mother’s cabinet, staying out until the sky melts from black to orange.
Harry comes to Louis looking to take, take the gasp of his breath when Harry pushes his lips against his own, the nails digging into his back, his scalp. He takes the shade of blue Louis’s eyes turn when he comes and he takes the little noises Louis makes and he takes Louis’s cold hands and makes him warm and he takes the air Louis breathes and he tries to give Louis something, too, but what Louis gives him is so much more.
It’s the I love you’s that he takes the most, that has him pushing down on Louis harder, pounding him further into the sheets until Louis comes apart, all HarryHarryHarry in his lungs, on his lips. It’s what has him gripping Louis’s wrists tighter and biting down on his neck, faint purple marks blossoming on his throat that lead to his mouth, a constant stream of iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou spilling from Louis’s pretty lips.
Harry means every word he says. He isn’t sure if Louis does.
Zayn has everything Harry wants and can’t have.
Like most people at his school, Harry can’t remember Zayn before Louis came along. Zayn kept down on the ladder of the school’s hierarchy, was one of those kids who hung up posters protesting the war and wore leather jackets with smoke still lingering on the fabric. He kept a sketchbook around in his backpack at all times and had buttons reading things about AIDS and social stigmas and fascism. Despite knowing about each other’s existence since they were born, Harry can’t remember a conversation he’s ever had with Zayn before Louis.
And like most people at his school, when Louis Tomlinson sat next to Zayn under the fairly unremarkable tree in the courtyard that first day at lunch, Harry could not believe his eyes.
Louis doesn’t fall on the school’s hierarchy. He’s a ladder all on his own, a completely different set of rungs. Untouchable. He could be friends with anyone he wanted and they would be happy to have him, but he made friends with Zayn fucking Malik and his stupid fucking cigarettes.
Zayn didn’t go anywhere without Louis anymore. Louis hung off Zayn’s arm in between class periods and ate lunch with him, Louis usually laying across Zayn’s lap reading some book and Zayn leaning back against his tree, doing whatever it is Zayn Malik does. Louis wore Zayn’s jackets and sometimes in English, Harry could still smell the smoke hanging off Louis’s shirt.
(The burning in his chest was just from the smoke. Definitely.)
It didn’t hurt for a bit; it didn’t because Louis wasn’t his and he wasn’t Louis’s, but one day they were each other’s and Louis still ate lunch with Zayn under that stupid fucking tree and he still wore Zayn’s jackets and he still went home with him sometimes, sat on the back of his motorcycle with his arms around Zayn’s waist.
It isn’t fair.
Because Louis is Harry’s and it isn’t hard to notice the small smiles Zayn gives Louis as they’re sitting alone together, playing with Louis’s hair and laughing at Louis’s jokes. Zayn is able to wrap his arm around Louis in the hall, hug him close to his hip and curve his hand into the dip of Louis’s waist. Zayn can make Louis smile and make Louis laugh and he can be with Louis at all hours of the day and he can give so much more than Harry can.
Sometimes Harry doesn’t feel like he knows everything that goes on between the two of them. Despite the amount of times Louis rolls his eyes and says you’re just being a prick, Harry, the sight of Zayn’s hands on the small of Louis’s back are engraved into the back of his eyes and it still makes his chest constrict with ugly, ugly jealousy.
Harry opens his locker; it’s Wednesday and he’s tired, with a full three hour practice ahead of him. He yawns as he collects his stuff, then promptly shuts it only to come face to face with Zayn fucking Malik and his stupid fucking face mere inches away from him.
(Harry is a bitter high schooler. He allows himself this moment to be petty.)
“Shit,” Harry gasps and clutches his backpack to his chest. “What the fuck, Zayn.”
Zayn leans against Harry’s locker in that stupidly nonchalant way he always does, a little too pretentious, in Harry’s opinion. “Hey, Harry,” he says and runs a hand through his air. He rolls his eyes and sighs, “Lou wanted me to tell you to not wait for him after school.”
Harry adjusts his weight onto one foot as he slides his backpack onto his shoulder and ignores the nickname that left Zayn’s mouth. “Why are you telling me this?” Harry asks. It’s not a stupid question. Harry can count the amount of times Zayn has talked to him on one hand.
Zayn rolls his eyes again and Harry resists the urge to poke him in them. “He has play practice tonight and I’m giving him a ride — ”
“Wait, he’s in the play?” Harry interrupts midway through, and Zayn gives him a look, and yes, Harry thinks, this is why they could never possible get along. “He never told me.”
“Really?” Zayn smiles and leans back onto his heels. “He won’t shut up about it. He’s really good, too.” He raises an eyebrow at Harry. “You really didn’t know?”
Harry swallows back a bitter taste in his mouth. “Maybe he just forgot to tell me.” Harry knows he’s lying, and Zayn does as well.
“Alright, well,” Zayn says as he walks back, hands raises in surrender. “I don’t know what’s really happening between the two of you. So. Maybe you guys should talk.”
“Don’t tell me what to do with Louis — ”
“Not telling you anything.” Zayn grins some more. “Just odd that you’re his boyfriend — ”
Harry runs a hand over his temple and closes his eyes. “I’m going to try my best not to be rude right now — ”
“Ever the gentleman, you are.”
“But could you please leave?” Harry asks and opens his eyes. “Before I punch you.”
Zayn opens his mouth to speak, but it’s lost as someone turns the corner. “Zayn Malik, just the man I was looking for,” Nick rounds the corner and for the love of God, Harry feels like he’s in some sort of nightmare. “Lou’s been looking for you. The glory of the stage crew waits for no one!”
Harry pinches himself to make sure he’s not in a literal dream. Did someone slip something into his food this morning. Is the apocalypse actually, literally coming.
“A bit dramatic there, Harry,” Nick says as he nudges Harry’s arm when he walks past. “Maybe you should join the crew. Or at least stop making Malik late!”
“Fuck off!” Zayn yells back and laughs.
Nick sighs. “It’s for the theatre, Zayn,” he leans against the wall and poses. “Art imitates life.”
“It’s life imitates art, you pretentious prick,” Zayn shoves Nick off the wall, and he leaves in a fit of laughter, and Harry is left in a state of confusion.
(Also, Zayn dares to call Nick a pretentious prick while Zayn corrected Nick about a pretentious quote from pretentious author Oscar Wilde, and Harry doesn’t know if he’s the true pretentious one here for knowing the quote is from Oscar Wilde. God.)
Harry bites his lip. “Is everyone just friends with Louis and I didn’t get the idea?” Harry always thought Louis was kind of his. That Louis needed him.
Zayn furrows his eyebrows. “Of course he has friends, Styles,” Zayn scoffs. “Despite what your friends say about him, he needs someone to talk to sometimes.”
“I’m here,” Harry says. “He can talk to me.” Harry takes care of Louis. It’s all he wants to do most days.
Zayn waves his arms around Harry. “Well. You can understand why. You’re like, a bit.” Zayn pauses. “Much.”
Harry leans his head against the lockers, because they are cool and Harry’s head feels as though it’s been put through an oven. “And you’re really that easy to talk to?” Harry doubts that very much. He can’t imagine Zayn showing any amount of empathy towards anyone. Harry likes to think that Zayn is made of glass, and that one day Harry could break him.
Zayn shrugs, and his smiles falls for the first time in the conversation. “I’m his best friend.”
Harry shakes his head, shoving Zayn aside with his shoulder to storm down the halls, slamming the doors open in a terribly dramatic fashion because he’s a teenager and he can. Zayn’s eyes burn on the back of his neck. Harry’s burning, too. The blood beneath his skin is boiling and the corners of his vision still haven’t turned normal and all he wants is to go to Louis and bury them in Louis’s bed and never, ever have to come out.
It is midway to the football field that Harry realizes he doesn’t know Louis’s favorite color.
Harry’s at the locker rooms when he realizes he doesn’t know Louis at all.
Harry saw him that Saturday morning.
Harry has a routine; a fairly decent one, one that’s served him well for the seventeen years of life he’s had. He has never been the type to sleep in, always was the first one up in the morning, long before mom could make breakfast for him and he could be on his way to school. Six year old Harry spent early mornings throwing the football with himself, nothing but the birds and the misty air and himself.
He’s since matured since then, a bit. Peewee football sessions have developed into jogs at the ass crack of dawn, but the birds have stayed the same and the morning air never fails to fill him with a sense of solitude that is strangely comforting.
Harry was listening to some casette his mom gave to him ages ago, and the only reason he remembers she gave it to him was because his mom is the only person he knows who genuinely enjoys Abba.
(Not that he doesn’t enjoy Abba. He actually kind of does. A lot.)
(Not if his friends ask, though.)
Anyways. He was listening to Abba, Dancing Queen blaring through the headphones of his Walkman— which was digging into the skin of his thigh to the point of mild pain — when he heard the first note.
Harry was so sure he was imagining it at first that he kept on running, despite the fact that he could barely breathe anymore and the player was still poking through his shorts and he was feeling all around quite awful. Because despite not speaking to him at all for the past three days and ignoring the fact that Harry existed, he swore he heard Louis Tomlinson singing The Beach Boys.
Louis was wearing these stupid overalls, an awful bright orange sweatshirt under it. His hips were swaying to the beat, one hand holding a paint brush and the other the bucket. Pale yellow paint covered his clothes and hair. Messy, Harry thought.
Harry didn’t think Louis Tomlinson was capable of any other emotion other than cold and disinterested, so the sight of him in early morning light and dancing to the fucking Beach Boys was a sight to behold, truly.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?” Louis threw his arms up and more yellow paint splashed across himself. Harry let himself laugh for a brief moment, because Louis was laughing at himself as well. “Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long!” Louis, Harry realized at that moment, had the kind of laugh that made others laugh with him. The type of laugh that makes people laugh even when nothing is funny.
He danced around the walls of the building, swinging his body every which way, only actually painting every once in a bit. He’s at the bridge, Harry still standing out quite stupidly on the other side of the street, hands on either side of his body and mouth hanging wide open.
“We could be married!” He uses the paintbrush as a microphone, throwing his head back. “And then we’d be happy!” The music picks back up again and he goes back to bopping his head, the straps of his overalls hanging over his shoulders. The sunrise in the distance, melting colors of pink and yellow, blend together with each other. Harry wished he had his camera.
(Just to take a picture of the sunrise. No other reason.)
Harry shook his head at himself, resumed his Abba, and began his run again. There was something settling in his stomach, stupid butterflies gnawing on his insides, unlike the beautiful, beautiful things described in movies. Just a dumb feeling. That’s all it was.
So. The Beach Boys, Harry thought.
He continued on his jog, stupid feelings and stupid smile lingering.
“How many electrons does Sodium have?”
Harry goes down, touches his chin to the ground. Thirty-one. “Eleven.”
“Good,” Louis hums and wiggles on Harry’s back. Harry takes a breath before touching his chin back to the ground. Thirty-two. “Hydrogen?”
Harry bends his arms again. Thirty-three. “One.”
Louis leans his weight further onto Harry’s back as Harry pushes himself up. “Great,” Louis says, and Harry can hear the smile in his voice. “Now. This is a challenging one.” Louis clears his throat in dramatics and Harry feels himself smile into the carpet of his room as he touches his chin to the floor.
“How many electrons.” Dramatic pause. “Are in helium?”
Louis’s fingers are tangling themselves in Harry’s hair as he speaks, smoothing out the curls and sending warm, lovely sensations down Harry’s spine.
Harry touches his chin to the floor. Thirty-five. “Two.”
“Bravo,” Louis claps, and then a pinch is delivered to Harry’s side. He almost falls onto his face, just barely catching himself. “Now. Aluminium?”
Harry pouts to himself as he bends his arms. Thirty-six. “Thirteen?”
“Wrong,” Louis says, and the next moment Harry’s on the ground, sprawled out like a starfish. Louis laughs on top of him, whole body shaking against Harry’s back.
“I knew you didn’t listen in chemistry.” Louis’s laughter takes his whole body and he’s rolling over to lay next to Harry. “This is like, basic chemistry. Memorizing the periodic table.”
Harry turns to lay his body over Louis’s, sprawling his limbs as he puts his whole body weight on Louis’s form. He laughs as Harry buries his face in Louis’s neck, grumbling out something he doesn’t even understand.
“I can’t concentrate in class because I’m so busy thinking of you,” Harry says and pouts, sticking his bottom lip out unnecessarily long. He’s not even lying, is the thing.
Louis scrunches his nose up and pokes Harry in the corners of his mouth. “You,” Louis begins, “are so stupid.”
“It’s not my fault you are so beautiful,” Harry mutters between them before connecting their lips, the taste of Louis’s bubblegum still fresh in his mouth. Harry swallows the taste and takes hold of Louis’s wrist, holding it between the two of them.
“Shove off,” Louis whispers between the two of them, but his voice is so soft that it is almost not even there. “We need to.” Harry’s lips interrupt Louis’s voice, for a moment. “We need to study. You need to study.”
Harry groans against Louis’s neck. “Can’t we take a break. I’m hungry.”
“We ignore all basic needs when grades are on the line,” Louis says and pokes at the corner of Harry’s mouth. “Food is a nuisance.”
“Get me food.”
“Get me food, whore.”
“Oh my God,” Louis laughs and shoves Harry off. Harry grumbles and holds him still. “You are the worst. I hate you.”
Harry laughs and wraps an arm around Louis, pulling him closer. “No, you don’t. You love me.” Harry sings the word love, and Louis rolls his eyes.
“Say it,” Harry says and smiles into Louis’s mouth. “Please.”
Louis pulls away and looks Harry in the eyes. Harry is drowning in blueblueblue. “I love you,” Louis whispers between them. He kisses Harry on the lips. “So much.”
Harry grins some more. “And why?”
“Shut the fuck up.” Louis laughs and stands up, brushing out his jeans. Harry’s eyes stray to the faint mark lingering on his neck. “You need to study.”
“But my boner,” Harry whines from where he still lays on the ground. He motions to the obvious tent in his pants. “I can’t concentrate with these raging teenage hormones.”
Louis narrows his eyes. “You wanna fuck?”
“I wanna make love.”
“Oh my God. There it goes.”
“My boner.” Louis flops down onto Harry’s bed. “It’s gone.”
Harry walks over and falls over Louis, catching himself on his hands. He lowers himself until their lips are brushing, whispering between them. “I think I could find a way to bring it back.”
Louis smiles and meets Harry halfway, small whimpers coming from his mouth. Harry swallows them as he pushes Louis into the bed. He could spend hours doing this, Harry thinks. Could spend days just kissing Louis, until both their lips are bruised. It is all he wants to do.
Harry’s hand is lowering itself to the button of Louis’s jeans when the unmistakable sound of the front door opening is heard, the slam of Harry’s father felt around the house. Harry shoves Louis off him, as if Louis’s skin were fire. There is only a small hint of something in Louis’s face before he masks it into the cold, stoic expression Harry was always so happy to see melt away. Harry’s lungs tighten until he can’t breathe.
They’re on opposite sides of the room by the time Harry’s father opens his door, Louis reading a copy of On the Road upside down and Harry flipping through his stack of cassettes. His dad nods a fake pleasantry to Louis before shutting the door, but Harry still can’t move.
Louis puts down the book and picks up his bag. “I think I’m going to go.”
Harry curls his hand into a fist. He’s so stupid. So fucking stupid, and he wants to grab Louis and hold him down and make him stay because he can’t keep on going like this. He can’t, he can’t, he can’t.
“Please don’t leave,” Harry says, and they both ignore the way his voice cracks. “I’m sorry, it’s just — ”
“I get it,” Louis says. He won’t look Harry in the eyes. “I just need to go.”
“Louis —” is all he gets out before the door is shut in his face. Harry is left standing alone, ice trailing up his arms and cracking his skin. He swallows and turns around, left looking at the fucking mess he’s made.
He punches the wall. He goes to school the next day with a bandage wrapped around it.
Louis doesn’t ask about it.
Harry’s life begins to revolve around Louis.
There isn’t a date Harry looks back on and he decided, yes, this is the love of my life. There is no defined moment, no date or hour or minute. He just remembers one day, listening to The Smiths on his old record player, and realizing that he couldn’t live without Louis.
Louis becomes the sun, and Harry falls in orbit with everyone else in his town. Louis is the light, the shade of yellow in the morning light and the shade of the black of the night. Harry’s soul becomes a reflection of Louis’s; when Louis is happy, so is Harry. When Louis is sad, the whole town feels it, and Harry would use every piece of his being to make Louis never feel like that again.
He writes shitty poems about Louis’s eyes in class, he admires Louis from across the halls, he writes Louis Styles in hearts across his notebook paper. Every song on every radio is about Louis, the stars in the sky write about how they pale in comparison to him, every thought and every feeling is for Louis. There are roses blooming in Harry’s being. Harry is bleeding love and no one seems to notice.
There is no other reason for living, no reason for existing. Love is what Harry lives for. Louis is what Harry lives for. Louis is the closest thing to heaven and Harry is sinking deeper and deeper into his faith.
It would be a shame, Harry thinks, to see a love like this go to hell.
Harry saw him next at a party, Perrie’s doing if he had to guess.
If Harry had to pick anyone in the world who could get to Louis Tomlinson and all his ice queen glory, it would be Perrie Edwards. Perrie Edwards, captain of the cheerleaders, president of student council, it would be easy to be swayed by a girl who’s voice is louder than the whole student body’s combined. But the beautiful smile and the ever changing hair (she had recently changed it to a bright, bright blue, and Harry doesn’t think about why), a personality to match, it is impossible to say no to Perrie Edwards.
“He said no,” Perrie sighed and leaned against a wall. She swirled a red cup in her right hand. “And here I really thought I was getting through to him.”
Jade came from around the corner. “I don’t know why you even bother anymore, Pez. I don’t think he’s interested.” She bit her lip. “Not that it’s you. It’s him. Definitely him.”
“Ugh.” Perrie rolled her eyes. “I’m not even interested in him like that. Anymore.” She looked at the front door with a disheartening sense of desperation. “I just think he seems a bit lonely. Don’t you think so, Haz?”
Lonely. Out of all the words to describe Louis, lonely is not one Harry would choose. “I think you should leave it,” Harry said. He took a sip of his beer; it’s shitty, as with all beer at any high school party. “Find some other charity case.” The words almost tasted more bitter than his beer.
“He’s not a charity case,” Perrie said and poked Harry in the face. She leaned almost her entire body weight into it. “Just, like. Imagine being him.”
Harry pursed his lips. “You mean imagine being a douche and completely avoiding all interacting with other people?”
“Harry, why are you such an asshole?” Jade laughed and shoved him lightly into the wall. “Pez’s right. We should be nicer.”
“Perrie’s the dictionary definition of nice.”
“Then you should be nicer.” Jade picked Perrie up from where she was beginning to nap against the wall, fuchsia lipstick smeared against the wallpaper. “Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to make sure our highness doesn’t end up in a pool of her own vomit.”
Harry nodded and wished Perrie a happy hangover, which in return gave him a well deserved middle finger. He chuckled to himself, leaning against the wall further. He could probably leave now; people would notice, sure. They would probably whisper amongst themselves if anyone saw him with a girl on his arm, maybe make up a rumor or two about how he was seen with a few. It wouldn’t be a surprise to him. It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
Harry pushed himself off the wall as he downed the rest of his beer, tossing it over his shoulder. He’s not leaving. Because that would mean that he won.
Because that would mean that Louis fucking Tomlinson dug under his skin enough that Harry couldn’t even function at a fucking party. It would mean Louis Tomlinson had won and made Harry so fucking stupid that he couldn’t even think of anything that wasn’t him.
Fuck Louis Tomlinson. Harry’s the life of the party. Always has been. Always will be.
Or. Like. He would be. If Harry were a bit stronger and not so confused at the strange squeezing sensation in his chest, like someone’s very own hands were grasping his heart the whole time, maybe he would have gone into the living room and found a pretty girl and a closet and it would have been fine because he’s Harry and that’s what he does and why should anything have to change in this town.
Harry should have done that. It is what he was made to do.
Instead he did this. He pushed his way through the crowd, not even muttering an apology, which was so unlike Harry that it was almost liberating. He somehow fumbled his way upstairs, up an obnoxiously lavish set of spiral staircases that he always made fun of Perrie for, because her family is the definition of establishment and she’s the opposite. He ran through the halls, ignoring every sock on every door because he knows a spot and it’s his spot and so what if anyone thinks he’s off fucking a girl or three or whatever they’re saying about him now, he’s through with that.
And he was definitely not thinking about Louis fucking Tomlinson and his stupid blue eyes and the fact that Harry went home and memorized the whole fucking discography of The Beach Boys by the off chance that Louis would strike up conversation with him. Fuck Louis fucking Tomlinson, Harry remembers thinking. Fuck him and his hair and his eyes and how he won’t leave Harry’s mind and how he’s leaving Harry all confused and fuck his Beach Boys —
“Oh my God.”
The universe had a funny way of bringing Harry to Louis. If in another time or place, Harry probably would have been his usual eloquent self and asked Louis how’re doing or lovely weather we’re having or even just a simple hello.
The universe, in the most horrid way possible, had decided on a much different path.
“What are you doing here?”
Harry winced as the words left his mouth because Harry’s not rude. Harry’s the exact opposite, the type of boy who brings flowers on the first date because he’s polite, and he’s almost a sort of hopeless romantic. He gives girls jackets and buys dinner and parents love him because he’s just so charming and so chivalrous and what a nice boy.
Louis didn’t seem deterred in the slightest. He even raised an eyebrow, which was the most emotion Harry’s ever seen him give. “Could say the same for you.” The moon was reflecting off his skin. Harry tried not to look too closely on how it hung from his fingertips.
Harry flinched, then shook his head because he’s supposed to be mad. Angry. All high and mighty. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Louis shrugged. He was sitting on the ledge of the roof, his feet swinging into the night. The music from downstairs could still be heard. “Parties aren’t my thing.”
Parties aren’t his thing. Harry scoffed and rolled his eyes. What could be his thing. “Could you leave?” Harry wanted to be alone. Didn’t want anyone to see him like this. Didn’t want Louis, of all people, to see Harry Styles be anything but happy, happy. Happy Harry. Always smiling. Always laughing. There was always something to laugh about, at some point, Harry remembers.
“I was here first,” Louis said, toying with the frayed edges of his jacket. Underneath, he was wearing a crop top. White, if Harry remembers correctly. Harry also remembers tearing his eyes away from the strip of skin between his navel.
Harry was two minutes away from flinging himself off the edge of the roof. Someone had just left the party, a group of friends shouting beneath them and laughing. “Perrie’s looking for you,” Harry said. He bit his lip and looked away from Louis, who was looking at Harry a bit too closely. His skin was on fire. “You should go to her. Like, now.”
“Oh, God,” Louis groaned and leaned over the edge of the roof railing, and it took everything in Harry to not grab his delicate wrist and pull him back. Closer to Harry. “I’m not drunk enough to tolerate her at the moment.”
But drunk enough to tolerate Harry. Apparently. Harry felt himself smile despite himself. “But she’s so nice.” And Harry’s not.
“I hate the word nice.” Louis looked at Harry, and Harry met his gaze. Louis’s eyes glanced towards Harry’s smile and back to his eyes. “Unnecessary pleasantries are the worst. It’s the worst compliment.”
Harry walked towards Louis. Waited for Louis to tell him to stop, but it never came. He sat himself on the railing, facing the opposite direction, Louis looking towards the outside and Harry in.
“Why are you at a party if you don’t like them?” Harry asked. He tried looking everywhere but Louis, but Louis was right there. He had a splatter of freckles on his cheeks. Harry would go home later that night and write a shitty poem about them, and then promptly puke in the toilet ten minutes later.
Louis hummed and closed his eyes, tilting his head up towards the sky. Harry wondered what he was seeing, what he was feeling. “What is Harry Styles doing alone at a party?”
Harry remembers liking the way Louis curled his lips around his name, how he said it meant something. “Do you always answer a question with a question?”
“Do you?” Louis had allowed the smallest hint of a grin onto his face, the corner of his mouth sending stupid butterflies towards Harry’s stomach.
Louis was probably drunk, a bit too lost in it to remember that he doesn’t like Harry. He’ll probably wake up the next day and regret this conversation. Will probably pretend it never even happened.
Doesn’t mean that Harry won’t use it to his advantage. He supposes he’s that type of person.
“Did you go to the game?” Harry had asked. They won that night, an undefeatable season. 44-21. His team had all gone to the party. His dad pat him on the back and told him to have fun, but not too much. He had practice the next day, after all.
People always telling him what to do. He was burning underneath his skin, itching to just leave it. Leave it all.
There was something in the air that night. Must have been. Because Harry should not be speaking to Louis. Not that anyone had explicitly said don’t talk to him, because just about everyone would if given the chance. But there were rumors, and Harry, as much as he told himself he’s not that type of person, listened.
He hated the rumors about himself. Hates. He hates them now, too. But he never liked them, never liked when people claimed to see him with a different girl on every weekend, a different girl who would go to school on Monday and say that Harry had finally, finally fallen in love. Rumors about his dad. Rumors about his friends. His life wasn’t his own. It never was, being born in this town.
But the rumors about Louis were entirely different. Ridiculous rumors of how he was a convict on the run, how he was an anarchist or socialist and he came to Harry’s town to hide. How he was part of the government, a spy of some sort. He was a millionaire’s son, send off for his own protection. He was a part of the circus. He was a writer seeking recluse. He was the prince of a small country. They were ridiculous, exaggerated, making him seem larger than life himself and Harry hated each one of them.
There were none he hated more than the one Liam told him, in the locker room after practice, muttering something about the new kid in his chemistry class. I heard he’s a fairy. Liam had said it to him so quietly, Harry may have imagined it.
Fairy. Queer. Faggot. The words were passed around the locker room as easy as ever and they joked about Louis being one, joked about him running away because he was afraid, how AIDS took his friends and they laughed and laughed and moved onto something else and Harry couldn’t breathe.
They, of course, would never say anything to Louis’s face. Louis was untouchable. Louis wasn’t afraid of anything.
“Did I go to the game?” Louis repeated, and he kicked his legs against the railing. “I’m not very interested in American football.”
“American football?” Harry said, and laughed. Audibly laughed, an accidental cackle leaving his mouth. He shook his head and ruffled with his own hair. It was getting a bit long. “You mean football.”
Louis scoffed. “It’s American football. Football is kicked with your foot.” He imitated kicking a ball with his feet. “Like this.”
“Like this,” Harry echoed back. His eyes lingered on the arch of Louis’s foot, to the curve of his calves and thighs. He bit his lip and looked at the sky. “That’s soccer.”
Louis shoved him — playfully, an emotion Harry wasn’t sure Louis was capable of — and Harry pushed him right back, the smallest amount. His hand stopped on Louis’s shoulder a moment too long, to make sure he didn’t fall. That’s the only reason.
“American football is stupid,” Louis said, and smiled, and Harry felt his heart stutter against his ribcage, beats falling over each other in their haste to keep up. It was so perfect, the shade of blue of Louis’s eyes when he grinned, the scrunch of his nose. Harry wanted it to last forever.
“I’m hurt.” Harry put a hand over his chest in dramatics. “Truly. Football — ”
“ — is my livelihood,” Harry said. He pursed his lips as he looked at Louis’s profile. “I’m the quarterback.”
“Oh, I know.” Louis had said it like he knew something Harry didn’t. He wasn’t smiling anymore, but there was something behind his eyes. “I’ve heard all about you, Harry Styles.”
All about me, Harry remembers thinking. “I could say the same for you, Louis Tomlinson.”
Louis had leaned into Harry, his smell invading Harry, every crevice. It took everything in Harry to not lean his hand on the small sliver of skin under Louis’s top. It would probably burn if he did, but Harry wouldn’t mind. Wouldn’t mind at all.
“But here’s the difference, Styles,” Louis had whispered between them, close enough that Harry could see the curve of his lips, how pink they were. Louis looked at him from under his eyelashes. “What I’ve heard about you is true.”
Harry swallowed at their proximately. Louis smelt like coffee. Harry didn’t smell alcohol on his breath. “And what about you?”
“You don’t know anything about me.” He smiled, softly this time, a gentle curl that left Harry’s heart fumbling for a steady rhythm. “I should get going. Barbara doesn’t want me out too late.”
He swung himself over the railing, back onto the rooftop, landing one foot over the other. Harry watched him go, was about to let him leave, back to the party, back to those people, before he heard his own voice.
“Will I see you at homecoming?” He heard himself say, distantly. It sounded like an echo. Louis’s form didn’t turn around, but didn’t continue. “The game is on Friday. And the dance.”
Louis turned around and leaned his weight onto one side, hand resting on his hip. “Probably not.” He pursed his lips. “Why?”
“I would.” Harry swallowed and looked towards the sky, then back. “I would like you there.”
“Why?” Louis repeated, and Harry didn’t know. He didn’t know at all, why he wanted Louis there, why he wanted Louis under his arm, why he couldn’t stop thinking of him and his eyes and why his heart was racing against him.
Harry shrugged. “Just. Please?”
Louis hovered there, on the roof, and for a brief moment Harry felt something shift, a change in the sky, stars clicking into place in their perfect arrangements and he swears, he felt the universe set itself aflame, for a new start.
A new beginning.
Louis was standing there, gazing at Harry or something else entirely, and he smiled. “I’ll see you later, Harry Styles.” And he left.
Harry, and the whole world, was left on fire.
Every great story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Beginnings, as Harry has learned from sixth grade English, are good for only a few things. They are good for introductions, good for identifying the setting, and good for identifying characters. So.
This is an introduction: this is a love story, of two boys who met in the wrong place and the wrong time. Or maybe the right place at the exact right time. Depends on how someone looks at it, Harry guesses. It doesn’t really matter. A love story of epic proportions, nonetheless.
This is the setting: an insignificant town in an insignificant state. Harry has lived here his whole life, as his mother and father. It is the year 1989. Ronald Reagan had left office and Bush had taken his place. Reagan ignored the AIDS epidemic for some four years of his presidency, having no interest in gay plague. There have been 100,000 AIDS cases reported in the United States.
These are the characters: Harry and Louis. Harry is seventeen and in his senior year of high school. He plays football because his dad played football. He likes girls because everyone else likes girls. He also likes baking, and music, and The Smiths. He also likes boys, he thinks, but he doesn’t really know. He likes Louis, who is a boy, so.
Louis is sixteen and in his junior year of high school. He lived in England but he doesn’t anymore. He likes boys, has since he was little. He likes fire.
That’s all you have to know, for now. This is, after all, just the beginning.
Harry’s father doesn’t like Louis.
Never has, from when Louis came over that first (strange) time and he sat himself between Harry and his father all dinner, across from his two little sisters. He remembers his mother that night, sat paralyzed on the other end of the table, across from his father. He remembers her hand shaking every time Harry’s dad would ask a question that would send anyone else running, and he remembers every time, Louis smiling and challenging his father back.
That night, he heard his parents muttering in the kitchen, his father’s rough voice scratching the wall and his mother’s soft murmurs painting right over them. No one would know a thing. His dad was saying ugly, ugly words, ones that he thinks his mother couldn’t even try to fix.
I don’t want a queer in this house, Laura. His father was pacing, probably. Harry was upstairs, making sure his sisters were still sleeping, that they wouldn’t have to hear it. Any of it.
I don’t want him talking to the girls. He stopped for a breath and slammed something onto the counter. Harry flinched against the door frame. I don’t want him near them. I sure as hell don’t want him anywhere near Harry.
The one thing he remembers most from that night was how after his father fell asleep. How he crept into his room and dialed the phone and talked. Talked to Louis all goddamn night. Hushed whispers and awful jokes and it wasn’t anything serious, not even close, but Harry could have done that all night. All his life. He wanted to run to his father and shove the phone in his face and just yell look, look at me, look at what I’m doing, look at what you can’t control, look at me look at me look at me.
Harry’s father especially doesn’t like Louis now. Louis’s on the living room floor, and the girls are giggling as they smear pink gloss onto Louis’s lips. Harry knows Louis will wipe it off before he leaves, but when he comes back tonight, he’ll ask to put some more on, ask for Harry to lick it off for him.
Harry is sitting on the couch, and his parents are in the kitchen. He knows his father sees them, sees Louis painting the girls’ nails and sees Harry watching them, sees the smile Harry can’t seem to wipe off his face.
“Loouuuueh,” one of his sisters say, drawing the word out. She leans down as if to whisper in Louis’s ear, as if covering her mouth with her hand would stop Harry from hearing her. “I think Harry’s staring at you.”
Louis looks up from where he’s sitting down, her curls brushing his face. He opens in mouth in mock surprise, covering his lips with his hand. “Really?” He glances towards Harry and leans in to talk to his sister. “Why do you think that is?” Louis winks at him, and Harry winks back.
“Because you’re wearing makeup!” The other sister says from where she’s laying on the floor. She waves her hands as if it’s obvious. “Only girls wear makeup. Pretty girls.”
Harry looks as Louis picks his sister up and sits her down on his lap. “Only pretty girls wear makeup?” He pouts and sticks his bottom lip out, and it takes everything in Harry to not grab him right there and take it in his mouth. “But what about boys?”
She tilts her head as if this were a serious decision. “I guess if they’re a pretty boy.” And his other sister nods in agreement.
“And am I a pretty boy?” Louis asks them, but he’s so obviously looking at Harry. He raises his eyebrows, knowing what he’s doing to Harry as he licks his lips. Harry’s eyes can’t leave his face, but they never really do anyways. Nobody really stops staring at Louis.
Harry can’t stop staring now, though, because Louis with his sisters only makes him think of the future, and a future with Louis consists of kids — he imagines a big, big family, complete with a white picket fence and perfectly mowed grass. There is a treehouse in the backyard, or a playset, and his kids are running around and there are cookies in the oven and the radio is playing some lovely song that Harry can dance around in the kitchen to and most importantly, Louis is there.
Louis is there, of course, because there isn’t a future Harry thinks of where Louis isn’t there. He’s never told this to Louis, though. Louis would laugh at it off. Would think he’s joking.
“The prettiest!” His sister’s voice brings him back. Louis smiles at Harry before picking her up and twirling her in the air. She laughs and her dress flows around her legs, and yes, Harry thinks, this is what the future looks like.
“Harry.” A voice comes from behind him. He turns, and can breathe a sigh of relief. His mom bites her lip and nods to Louis. “Dinner is almost ready. I’m afraid your guest will have to leave soon.”
Harry doesn’t think he’s ever heard his parents say Louis’s name. His mother is more civilized about it, at least says guest instead of fag, visitor instead of fairy.
His sisters groan collectively. “Come on, Mom!” One of them sighs and grabs onto Louis’s legs. “Can’t Lou stay for dinner?”
“I’m sorry, but he can’t,” his mother says, and puts her hand against her forehead. “Please go help set the table with your father.”
Harry can see the slightest hint of an argument clinging onto their lips, but they reluctantly release themselves from Louis, not without a hug and a kiss and they make promises of next time, Lou and Louis gives them the false hope of maybe, definitely.
Harry turns to his mother. “I’ll walk Louis outside.” And he doesn’t allow her to respond before he’s picking Louis up from the floor and ushering him out the front door, shutting it behind them with a resounding noise that allows Harry to fucking breathe.
“I’m sorry,” is the first thing that comes out of both of their mouths. They pause and look at each other for a moment before breaking out into smiles, laughs pouring out of their mouths.
“Shit,” Louis says and he licks his lips, curling his arms around himself. There is still lip gloss glittering against his skin. “I’m not going to lie. I’m really into this lip gloss.”
“I’m really into you being into that lip gloss,” Harry says and leans into Louis. Not touching. They’re in the open, and it is around the time parents are coming home from work. A car pasts them from where they’re standing on Harry’s doorstep. “The color really suits you.”
“You think?” Louis grins and leans up onto his toes. He pouts his lips further, like he’s trying to show himself off for Harry. “Do you think I’m a pretty boy?”
Harry chuckles and curls his fists at his side, trying not to reach out and grab Louis’s wrists, Louis’s face, Louis. “You already know what I think.”
“Doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear it,” Louis whispers between the two of them, eyes darting towards Harry’s mouth.
“I think,” Harry begins, and takes a breath, his heart skipping, “that you are the prettiest boy to ever walk the face of this earth.”
Louis tilts his head in consideration. “And what is the prettiest boy in the world doing with a boy who looks like a frog?”
Harry scoffs and smiles. “Because you love me.”
“Actually,” Louis sighs and looks up at the sky, pressing his tongue to the inside of his cheek. “I’ve changed my mind. I hate you. I hate you and your frog face.”
“You love me and my frog face,” Harry corrects and steps the slightest bit closer, eyes lingering on the pink tint of Louis’s lips. “I really want to kiss you right now.”
Louis smiles presses a finger to Harry’s dimple. It’s the most contact he’s had with Louis all day, and he wants to press Louis’s hand to his cheek, wants to engulf Louis in his own arms. “Later,” Louis whispers, for the two of them, before allowing himself to step away.
“Well, Harry Styles,” Louis says as he walks back onto Harry’s front lawn. “How gracious of it was for you to host me.”
Harry grins and leans against his front door. “How lovely it was to meet your acquaintance.” He watches Louis hop on his bike.
He doesn’t look back at Harry. Harry knows because he doesn’t look anywhere else.
Harry was wearing this awful striped suit jacket, listening to equally awful music, when Niall slapped his shoulder.
“What the hell — ” Harry began, turning around to tell Niall off, but he’s already got an armful of blonde hair before he could open his mouth.
“Just wanted to say hey,” Niall said, grin resting on his face. He patted Harry on the back. “It feels like we haven’t talked in ages.”
They spoke just yesterday, after the game. Niall had congratulated them on winning Homecoming, but Harry didn’t mention that. “Well,” Harry opened his arms, “here I am.”
“Here you are,” Niall repeated. He glanced over Harry’s shoulder before looking back at Niall. “I just wanted to know where my best friend has been off to for the past week. The boys miss you.” He shoved Harry’s shoulders. “I miss you.”
Harry could have told the truth. He could have said that instead of going out with the boys after practice, he ran home and screamed into his pillow until one of his sister told him to knock it off. He could have said he listened to The Smiths on repeat while laying out on the rooftop. He could have said he had written at least ten shitty poems a day about a set of blue, blue eyes, but he didn’t.
How could he, really.
“Just tired, man.” Harry smiled through his teeth. “I think the weather’s really got me down. All this.” He motioned with his hands. “Rain.”
“The weather.” Niall was still smiling. “Really.” Niall pursed his lips. “I think you’re lying.”
Harry paled. How could Niall possibly know. Was the word queer carved out on his forehead, bleeding out disease and distaste. Did someone see Harry and Louis on the rooftop last week, did they see how Harry’s eyes lingered on his lips, his thighs. How could this happen. How did this happen.
Niall laughed. “I think my best friend’s in love!” He grasped both of Harry’s shoulders in his hands, the two of them facing each other. Harry chuckled despite the tightness in his lungs. “Who’s the lucky lady who’s taking up all your time?”
This time, Harry really genuinely laughed, cackled, because of course. The lucky lady. Harry’s in love with a lady. A girl, with long silky hair and boobs and she would be on the cheer squad and Harry would show her off to his parents and she wouldn’t have blue eyes and she wouldn’t smell like caramel and she definitely, definitely, would not be a boy.
“I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong,” Harry said and shrugged Niall’s hands off. “There’s no lucky lady.” Not a lie.
Niall leaned in. “C’mon. You can tell me.” Niall kept on grinning. “Is she here tonight?”
If Harry lived in a better place in a better time, he would have smiled with Niall and went on and on about how no, Louis wasn’t coming. Parties aren’t his thing. And he would have kept Niall around all night and would have made him sick with stupid metaphors of how Louis’s eyes are the ocean, how they drown Harry, how Louis lit up Harry’s world and consumed everything around him, leaving just the two of them. And Harry would be perfectly okay with that.
But. He doesn’t live in a beautiful time. Just as Harry was about to open his mouth, Niall groaned and leaned his body weight onto Harry’s side. “Of course. Of course he’d come.”
Harry didn’t bother asking. He was so tired. Tired of this stupid dance. Tired of dressing up. He frowned and kicked at his own shoes.
“God.” Niall was still mumbling to himself, words vibrating the fabric of Harry’s jacket. “I hate him.”
“What’re you on about?” Harry turned to look down at Niall. Niall didn’t hate anyone. It was like, a law of the universe. Gravity exists, The Smiths fucking rule, Niall likes everyone. It’s just fact. “You like everyone.”
Niall stood up straight and messed with his jacket, a simple powder blue. “Just. Look at him.”
Of course, Harry was already looking at him. To be fair, everyone else was as well. Because just as planets orbit around the sun, Harry remembers this day as the day Harry’s town started orbiting around Louis.
He was wearing this blue jean jacket — embroidered with flowers, light pinks and purples on the lapel. Underneath, a striped shirt, bubble gum pink. There were tight, white jeans tucked into pink socks and pink socks tucked into faded boots and Harry.
Harry couldn’t stop staring, but then again, no one could.
“Oh dear God,” Niall groaned some more, “What does Ellie see in him?”
“Ellie doesn’t like him,” Harry said, for him or for Niall, he still doesn’t know. “She likes you. You guys literally came here together.”
Niall shook his head. “And the whole time it was Louis this or Louis that or Niall, do you reckon Louis’s gonna come?” Niall sighed and ran a head through his hair. “I don’t fucking get it. I don’t get him.”
Neither did anyone else, though they tried. Everyone tried to make him their own version of what they wanted him to be. Harry is just as guilty as the rest of them. Maybe that is why things turned out the way they did.
Louis was at the entrance of the school gym. He was smiling at the song that was playing. Perrie greeted him at the door — of course she did, Harry didn’t know why he was so surprised. She spoke in hands, motioning around the gym and bopping her head and Louis had his eyebrows raised into his hairline and she took his hand and dragged him to her group of friends, a group of cheerleaders.
And then to the football players, and then her student council friends, and she made sure she stopped at every person to make sure hey, have you met Louis yet? He’s new, and I’m showing him around. Did you know he’s from England? He likes sunflowers and did I mention —
And that was how it went for the rest of the night. Perrie showed Louis off on her arm like they were some sort of power couple, the word burning in Harry’s throat. Couple. Right. He had no right to think that. He didn’t know why it even passed his mind.
But they were so beautiful, Perrie’s blue dress twirling around as she danced across the floor with Louis in tow and Louis laughed — even if Harry wasn’t watching, he would have been able to hear it. It carried across the gym and he was sure that if someone had somehow missed him before, they couldn’t have possible now. It was so seamless — it was as if Louis had been here all his life, and everyone was just waiting for him to finally arrive. The earth spun before Louis came to his town, but he wasn’t sure it would if Louis left.
“Harry!” Perrie waved her arm in front of his face. She slapped herself on her forehead in dramatics. “I can’t believe I didn’t introduce you guys to each other earlier!” She pushed Louis in front of her and smiled. “Harry, this is Louis. Louis, this is — ”
“Harry Styles,” Louis finished for her. Louis grinned as he looked up at Harry through his eyelashes. They were long for a boy. Harry sort of wanted to kiss them, and sort of wanted to kick himself. “We’ve met.”
Harry bit his lip to keep from smiling back. Perrie raised her eyebrows at Harry. “Have you guys now?” She nudged Harry with her elbow. “And why hasn’t Harold told me about this?”
Louis pouted at Harry. “I don’t think he likes me very much.”
Harry snorted — a very unattractive move, on his part. Didn’t like him. Harry wanted to roll his eyes. Harry wished he didn’t like him. It would make things so much easier.
Perrie scoffed. “Oh, I doubt it. He’s Harry.” She poked him on the cheek. “Happy, happy Hazza. I think you guys would get on quite well.”
“You think?” Louis looked at her, then glanced back at Harry’s eyes, lips. “Hey, Pez?” Pez. “I need to use the bathroom.”
“Oh, I can walk you there, if you want,” she said and grabbed Louis’s hand.
Harry coughed. “I think he can manage on his own.”
Perrie huffed out a laugh. “Oh, of course!” She nodded at Louis. “Of course, I’m being stupid. I’ll be waiting right here. I’ll even get us some juice, or something.”
Louis nodded, and if Harry blinked, he would have missed the wink Louis sent him as he walked away. He didn’t, though, and he was left with the tips of his fingers sparking up, waiting to be ignited.
“Harry, I think I’m in love,” she breathed. She twirled a lock of blue hair around her finger. “He’s just, just so — ”
“Lovely?” Harry offered, then bit down on his lip. Stupid.
Perrie didn’t seem to mind it. “Yes, exactly. God, Harry, he’s so nice, and funny, and so, so beautiful — ”
Niall came up from behind Perrie and put his hand on his chest. “Are we talking about me?” He straightened his jacket and laid a hand on Perrie’s shoulder. “Listen, Pez, you know I love you — ”
“Oh my God, you insufferable asshole,” she laughed and shoved his hand off her shoulder. “I’m not even talking about you. I doubt your ego needs it.”
“Underneath this beautiful man is a boy filled with insecurity.”
Harry took that as his cue. “Hey, Pez. I think I’m going to run to the bathroom.”
Perrie looked up at him with wide eyes. “You too? Am I driving people away?” She put a hand on her face. “Did I drive Louis away? Oh my God — ”
Niall smiled and mouthed something that looked a lot like leave while you can. Who was Harry to disobey. He nodded and grinned back at his friend, pushed his way through the crowd. The hallway was a cool welcome, cold air brushing down his arms. He passed the office, a few classrooms, a girls bathroom. Grey and blue tile squeaked beneath him. His own breathing was the only other sound.
He was turning the corner, swinging his arm around the wall when a forced pulled him back into an empty classroom. His eyes were engulfed in darkness for one moment before the lights were turned on, and he was left staring at the planets.
“Did you know,” a familiar voice began. It made Harry burn, up his spine, into his brain. “That all of space is completely silent?”
They were a science classroom; there were planets strung up on the ceiling, little models of purple and orange hanging around them. The universe at their fingertips. One mistake, and the whole thing could crumble.
Louis was sitting on a desk, looking up at the stars. “Sound waves need a medium to travel through. There’s no atmosphere in space.” He twirled his finger around before looking at Harry, a small smiling playing against the two of them. “No atmosphere. No medium. No sound.”
Harry couldn’t help but allow a grin to overcome his face. “Why’re you telling me this?”
“My thing is,” Louis said, and hopped off the desk. He walked over to Harry, until they were mere inches apart. If Harry leaned in two inches, their noses would touch. If he leaned in three, their lips. “My thing is that when you speak to someone, you hear them. Right?”
“Right.” Harry’s mouth felt like cotton balls were stuffed inside it. “We’re talking right now.”
“Always the observer, you are.” Louis tilted his head. “Anyways. In space, we couldn’t be doing this. But here,” he motioned around the classroom, “is as close to space as we can get.”
He leaned away from Harry, the slightest bit. Harry curled his fist in his pocket to keep from closing the space between them. “When you tell someone you love them, where do your words go?” Louis asked. He smiled. Harry felt like the sun.
“I don’t know?” Harry wished he were the type who wrote poetry, or something. “Your ears, probably.”
“Exactly.” Louis snapped his fingers and stood up on a desk chair. “It just goes in one ear and out the other. Where is the love? You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. You can’t feel it.”
“But.” Harry furrowed his eyebrows. “You still heard it. You know it’s real.”
Louis pushed one planet in an orbit, the rest of them following his path. “But how do you know it’s real? If they meant it?” He frowned and pushed himself up further, onto the desk. “They say it because they want you to hear it. When you’re in space,” he waved his arms around, “you’re saying it just for you. No one else can hear. You mean it the most when people aren’t around.”
Harry looked up at the ceiling, shiny paper reflecting off the moon. “We’re in space right now.”
“My thing is about you, Harry Styles,” Louis looked down from where he was perched on the desk. “I think you’re hiding something.”
Harry laughed, letting the air travel between the two of them. His ribs hurt with the force. “You think I’m hiding something?” He shook his head. “That is really rich. Especially coming from you.”
“You’re a slave to the universe, Harry Styles,” Louis sang, grinning down at Harry. “You’re a slave to what people think, to what you think of yourself.”
Harry leaned his weight onto a desk. “What about you, Louis?” He looked up at him, still messing with the universe, so easily wrapped around his fingers. Every star, every planet, dripping from his hands. “You can’t say anything. You’re just like me.”
“That’s why I know how you feel,” Louis whispered. It was so quiet. Harry’s heart bruised his ribs. “We’re in space, Harry Styles. No one can hear.”
Louis let the corners of his mouth curl up further. “I don’t think you mind me listening.”
Harry breathed out. He swore he saw his own breath among the stars for a moment. How they must be so proud to see the two of them together, finally.
“I want to kiss you.”
Harry breathed in the words. It was too late. They already left his mouth, and Louis was hanging off the planets, lowering himself back to Harry.
“Then why don’t you?” Louis was sitting on the desk. His feet didn’t touch the ground.
“I think if I kiss you,” Harry fumbled over his words. His heart stuttered with him. “If I kiss you, I won’t be able to stop.”
Louis’s eyes looked so endless. “I wouldn’t mind.”
He needed to get Louis out of his system. That was all. Just one kiss, and he’d be done. He’d laugh and say it was fun and he’d go back. It never happened. Just a kiss.
His feet moved before he did and his hands found their way to Louis’s waist and his body so easily fit between his legs. There was a moment when their eyes met and Harry felt the universe collapse.
Louis’s lips were so soft, is what he remembers first. He wasn’t sure if he was expecting rough because they were a boy’s lips, but they were so gentle. So warm and inviting, slotting in with Harry’s. They licked small flames into Harry’s being. The universe, Harry felt, was beginning to realize what had happened.
There were small hands at his neck. That is what he remembers second. They met his skin and Harry remembers the sensation, the fever burning up underneath his hands. He had pushed his hands underneath Louis’s shirt. The skin there was on fire, too.
Harry remembers thinking they would burn forever.
Harry pulled away first. He shook his head and knocked their foreheads together. “Louis,” he whispered between them. The air felt like smoke. “I think I’m going insane.”
“No, you’re not, Harry,” Louis giggled, burying his face in Harry’s chest. “You’re just happy.”
Harry’s fingers tightened around Louis’s waist. “Hey, Louis?” He said into his hair. “Do you want to go somewhere?”
There are pebbles at Harry’s window at exactly five minutes after eleven. Always on time to being late.
Harry opens his window and looks up at the sky, pointedly not looking down at the ground. He smiles. “O Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy — ”
“Harry, shut the fuck up,” a voice below him whispers, small giggles between the words. “Are you going to throw down the ladder?”
“Not until I finish my monologue,” Harry says and laughs at the finger thrown his way. “Now. Where was I?”
Louis sighs. “Deny thy father and refuse thy name.”
Harry snaps his fingers. “Right, right.” He clears his throat and throws his hands out in theatrics. “Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and — ”
“Thrown down the ladder.” Pause. “Please.”
Harry cackles, covering his mouth just as quick as they left it. He throws the ladder over his windowsill. It’s an old thing, something from his treehouse he had when he was a kid. He guesses he was too attached to part with it completely.
Louis fumbles with the ladder as he always does, rolling into the room with a graceless thump. They both hold their breath for a moment, waiting for the slam of a bedroom door, for footsteps heading towards the two of them.
It never comes. They break out into smiles on Harry’s bedroom floor before Harry engulfs Louis in a hug, trapping his warmth beneath him.
“I missed you,” Harry mumbles into Louis’s hair. His smell steadies the rhythm of Harry’s heart.
Louis’s hands make their way to Harry’s back. “It’s been, like, four hours.”
“It’s always too long,” Harry says. “Every moment apart is too long. It feels like years.”
Louis hums. “Look at you. Making metaphors. Quoting Shakespeare.”
Harry groans and buries his nose further into Louis’s feathery hair. Louis laughs and tugs on Harry’s curls, making him look up at Louis from where he’s perched on Harry’s lap. “So,” Louis begins, fingers massaging Harry’s scalp. “This lip gloss situation.”
Harry moans into Louis’s mouth and Louis giggles. Harry wants to swallow the noise. “Right,” Harry says and looks at Louis, who’s looking right back at him. “I have some. With me. It’s my sisters.”
“Do you wanna put some on me?” Louis whispers between the two of them. He grins against Harry’s lips. “Please?”
Harry’s hands clumsily move their way to his pocket, pulling out a tube of lipgloss. It’s pink and Harry chose it because he thought Louis would like it more than the one in the green tube. His hands are shaking and he doesn’t realize it until Louis’s hands come to rest on his wrists, running up and down the veins.
Harry laughs at himself and shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I’m being stupid.”
“It’s not stupid,” Louis says. He puckers his lips and scrunches his nose. “Now make me beautiful.”
Harry surges up and melds their lips together, running his hands over Louis’s cheekbones, the line of his jaw. “You’re already beautiful,” he whispers, the air hot between them. He uncaps the lip gloss. “The prettiest boy I’ve ever seen.” The lip gloss is messy on Harry’s fingers and it’s unsteady when he applies a thin sheen on Louis’s lips. Louis rubs his mouth together and smiles at Harry, blush the same shade as the gloss rushing to his cheeks.
“How do I look?” Louis bites his lip. “Am I a pretty girl?”
Harry gasps and smashes his lips into Louis’s. His mouth is sticky, cherry on his tongue as he slips into Louis’s warmth. Louis whimpers and tugs on Harry’s hair, Harry’s hands burning on his waist.
“I don’t want you to be a girl,” Harry says between a kiss. Louis kisses down his mouth, against his jaw. Harry groans and tightens his hands around Louis, moving them down to grasp at his hips, his ass. “I don’t, I don’t — ”
“Really?” Louis says. He bites at Harry’s ear. “What would you do if I was? Take me home to your parents. Introduce me to your sisters.”
Harry shakes his head. “I don’t know — ”
“How proud your dad would be. He’d congratulate you on getting such a good girl,” Louis licks into Harry’s mouth. His world is spinning, hands squeezing Louis’s ass. “Because I’m a good girl, right, Harry?”
Harry gasps for air. He can’t breathe.
“We wouldn’t have to lie,” Louis says. He laughs, and it sends a bucket of ice over Harry’s skin. “Your friends would high five you on landing the new girl. You could wrap your arms around me in the halls.”
“Louis,” Harry mutters. He’s seeing red in the corners of his eyes. He doesn’t know if it’s anger. Lust. Something else.
“I’d dress up. Wear lace, just for you,” Louis giggles into Harry’s shoulder. Harry’s hands have made their way into Louis’s pants, brushing against his boxers. “I could kiss you on the sidelines when you make a touchdown. Kiss you whenever I wanted.”
Harry grabs at Louis’s ass, hard enough to leave faint finger shaped bruises. Louis moans. “God, we’d be so happy. Harry Styles and his good girl — ”
A groan escapes Harry’s mouth and he picks Louis up before tossing him onto Harry’s bed. His legs are open as Harry slides himself between them, pushing Louis down into the sheets. “You’re not acting like a good girl right now,” Harry goddamn near growls between them. There’s a tightness in his insides, like the hands on his chest have somehow made their way into his lungs.
“We would move in together,” Louis says, his hands trailing up and down Harry’s shirt, underneath, to his back. Harry’s hands are pushing away Louis’s shirt, his pants, until he’s just in his briefs. “We’d live in a beautiful house. A white picket fence and everything.” Louis’s fingers come to the button of Harry’s jeans. “You could kiss me on the front porch before you go to work. I’d relax you,” Louis squeezes the bulge Harry’s sporting, “after a long day.”
“Shut up, Louis,” Harry groans, pushing at Louis’s hands until they’re held down on either side of his head. He bites the skin between Louis’s ear and his neck, a place easy enough to hide. They’ve become good at those places. “Just. Shut up.”
Louis giggles, his breaths short and gasping for air. “I could carry your children,” Louis whispers in Harry’s ear. Harry moans and pushes Louis’s hips into his sheets with his own, his hands wrapping around Louis’s wrists. He imagines the faint purple bruises on Louis’s wrists tomorrow.
“We’d have such a big family, Harry,” Louis mutters against Harry’s lips. His breath is hothothot and Harry’s world is fading. Images of Louis, the beautiful house, a family. “I’d be so full of you and your baby, right? Keep me knocked up all the time.” Harry thinks he imagines the crack in Louis’s voice. “We’d be so happy. Harry and Louis. Forever and ever.”
Harry shakes his head. He can’t look at Louis’s eyes, the sheen in them, how they’re only like that for Harry. How Harry is the only one who Louis allows that around. “Turn over, baby,” he says. It’s a bit more cold than he intended, the air around them still burning. When Louis doesn’t respond, Harry twists him around with his own hands, turning him over until Louis is pliant, ass up, face buried in Harry’s pillows.
He pulls at Louis’s briefs in one fluid motion, almost missing the gasp coming from Louis’s mouth, a small, quiet thing. He runs his hands up and down Louis’s golden skin, somehow still radiating beautiful, beautiful sun. Harry runs a finger down Louis’s crack, snubbing a dry finger against his hole. Louis arches his back further, pushing his arse into Harry’s hips.
“You’ve been acting like such a bad girl, baby,” Harry mutters into the small of Louis’s back. He kisses the skin there, leaving a small trail faint marks in his wake until he bites on the curve of Louis’s arse. “I wanna mess you up, Lou.”
He just barely licks at Louis’s rim, watches it as clenches around nothing. Louis moans, hiding his sounds in Harry’s pillow. “Harry, Harry, please,” Louis breathes out from where he turns his head to the side, gasping for heat muddled air. “I’m so.” Louis ruts against Harry’s sheets. “Harry, I’m so — ”
“Wet.” It’s not a questions as Harry says it. He knows, even before he curls his arm around Louis’s stomach, feels for his cock. “God, you’re fucking soaked for me, aren’t you?”
Louis squirms in Harry’s grasp, whimpering out these fucking noises that have Harry going fucking mad. “Please.”
Harry lowers himself back to Louis’s arse, drags his teeth down the skin, stopping at the section where Louis’s arse meets his thighs. “You have to tell me what you want, baby,” he says, sucking a mark into the dip. “Use your words.”
“Harry,” Louis moans, writhes between Harry’s body and the sheets until Harry rests one firm hand on his hips, a silent stay still. “I want,” he takes a deep, deep breath. Inhale, exhale. “I want your mouth.”
“Want my mouth on your pussy?” Harry whispers, pulling Louis’s arse cheeks apart, exposing his pretty hole to the air. Louis’s gasp is taken away from him when Harry licks a stripe up his crack, little kitchen licks against his rim. Louis kicks one of his legs out and Harry pins it back down with one of his own, Louis’s body melting into the mattress, seeping into the sheets.
Louis’s voice is muffled. “I want,” his words slur, dragging across the vowels. “Inside.”
Harry’s hand comes down on Louis’s arse. Not hard enough to leave anything, but enough for it to resonate. “Good girls use their manners.”
“Please, please. Harry, get inside me, please,” Louis whimpers into the sheets. His fists are curled up so tight, knuckles white against the black sheets.
A tongue and a finger breach Louis at the same time, Louis arching up into Harry and making such a noise that Harry has to bite down on Louis’s arse to stop from coming himself. Louis’s shaking beneath him, little sobs shuddering down his shoulder blades, shaking his small body. Harry runs a hand down his smooth skin, tongue and finger still nudged inside.
Harry can’t see his face, but he knows he couldn’t look even if he wanted to. Louis’s unbearably pretty on the worst of days; a sort of untouchable quality on the best. Harry can barely stand to look at him sometimes. He feels too much, or stops feeling altogether. He’s not sure which one’s worse.
“You’re so pretty, so fucking beautiful,” Harry says into the soft skin of Louis’s arse. He slips in another finger, Louis’s spit slick hole barely taking it. “God, your pussy’s so tight. Just for me, right? Just my girl?”
“Just your girl,” Louis echoes back. He pushes further into Harry’s fingers, back arched obscenely and it takes so much for Harry to not just rip his own pants off and fuck into Louis right there, take all of him at once.
Harry just manages to stuff three fingers in Louis’s hole, the rim fluttering around his hand, beautiful in it’s own right. “Fuck, just looking at you.” His own cock lays hard in his pants still, looking for relief. “Wish you could see yourself right now.” Wish you could see how I see you.
Harry presses one more kiss into Louis’s arse, feels the push and pull of Louis’s body in his arms. “I’m gonna fuck you, okay?” He speaks slowly, drawing out the words. “I’m gonna turn you over first.”
His hands find their way to Louis’s waist, rolling him over until his legs are open and Harry presses himself between them, like he was made to do. Harry damn near collapses at Louis’s messy lips, spit strung and eyes red and soaked through. He pushes himself down to lick at Louis’s lips, massages the top of Louis’s mouth.
Louis mumbles, barely forming words. “C’mon,” he manages, huffs out a laugh at the slight tickle of Harry’s curls at his cheek. Harry’s heart finds itself between his lungs and his ribs, both of them struggling against the stutter of Harry’s rhythm. “C’mon. Want you inside. Want you to fill me up.”
Harry sucks a mark onto Louis’s stomach, Louis’s hands running through his scalp. He pushes his pants down with his briefs, cock pressing up against Louis’s hips. Louis fumbles with Harry’s drawers, pulling out a condom before tearing it open and teasing Harry’s cock with his own fingers, running a nail down the vein, around the head, before covering it.
“I get to see you,” Harry pushes Louis’s hair back, his hands on either side of Louis’s face, knocking their foreheads together. “Get to see you when I fuck you, get to kiss you —”
Louis lifts his hips up, rubbing his slick hole against Harry’s cock. It gives away, the slightest bit, and Harry feels himself melt into Louis. The head slides in, warm heat engulfing him, the resistance building back up.
“Shhh,” Harry whispers into Louis’s mouth, running a thumb over his cheekbone. “It’s okay, baby. I’m right here.” He pushes in deeper, a bitten off cry leaving Louis’s lips. Harry presses a kiss down onto the corner of Louis’s mouth. “You’re okay.”
There are times where Harry can’t bear to look at Louis; it’s all too much at once, the crinkles by his eyes, the way his whole body moves with his smile, his laugh that echoes across the halls, the small giggle reserved only for Harry’s chest. Harry has to turn away, sometimes, because if he looks too much he feels too much. It’s gets dangerous, at those times.
This is not one of those times. This time, he wants to feel everything. Wants to feel the way Louis looks at him when Harry thrusts into him, wants to hear his noises, feel his nails against his back. He wants the sounds Louis gives him and the warmth and the small sobs and the iloveyou’s and he wants it all, all the time.
That’s too much to ask of Louis, though.
Feel more and stop feeling.
“Fuck, baby,” Harry says into Louis’s mouth. “You’re so tight, so wet. Is it okay? Are you okay?” His hands are squeezing, harder and harder against Louis’s hips.
Louis nods and wraps his legs around Harry’s waist, nudging him further. Louis gasps and runs his hands over Harry’s shoulders. “You’re so,” Louis says, “so big.”
Harry bites his lip to contain a smile, lips curled the slightest bit at his boy. “Yeah?” He rolls his hips, nudging the slightest at Louis’s spot. Louis squeezes his eyes shut before Harry pushes in further. “Want you to look at me, okay? Can you do that?”
Louis nods and looks at Harry with those wide eyes, those ones that Harry doesn’t think much of anyone has seen but him. Louis’s told him as much, at one point. Harry tries to go slow, tries to savor the moment because he wants to remember it.
He tries to go slow, to remember the way he fucked Louis, but how could he with Louis looking at him like that. His pace stutters, uneven and fast at once, pushing against Louis, fucking him into deeper into the mattress. He wants to remember the high moans Louis always made, the ah ah ah’s that fell from his mouth.
Harry sticks two fingers into Louis’s mouth. “Shhh, baby.” It’s late, must be past midnight by now. “We wouldn’t want anyone to hear, right?” Louis nods, sucks on Harry’s fingers harder. Harry shoves them in further, to see how much Louis would take. He sputters, gagging on the tips of Harry’s fingers. He doesn’t let them go though, makes this stunning noises that have Harry fucking into him harder, hips sloppy, the sound of skin obscene.
“Fuck, fuck, baby,” Harry mutters against Louis’s lips. “I’m gonna come, feels so good, I’m gonna come inside you, fuck, fuck, baby — ”
Louis comes between them, suddenly spilling between the two of them and maybe it’s a combination of that and the way Louis’s hole clamps down on Harry’s cock, the sounds Louis makes around his fingers, that have Harry’s orgasm shuddering through his body, cracking into his bones and muscles as he comes into Louis. He rides it out, short thrusts against the two of them as they come down.
Harry wants to remember this: the sound Louis made when Harry eased out of him, the way Louis’s thighs opened up around him, the fucked out little giggle Louis let leave his lips, the kisses left on his neck, the beautiful bruises on his wrists. He wants to remember Louis trying to leave before it got too late, the way Harry wouldn’t let go, how he curled around Louis muttering embarrassing things, please don’t leave, iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou, how Louis curled into his chest, the stutter of his heart, Louis’s own steady rhythm.
God, he wants to remember all of it.
Because this isn’t going to last.
Something about hearing Louis talk about forever, about a family and kids and the fact that Louis pictured it, once, a future with Harry. A future of them together. A future where they could be so, so happy.
A future where Louis’s a girl.
A future that doesn’t exist.
Hearing Louis talk about Harry like it’s never going to happen, like this is just a small story in the novel of Louis Tomlinson, like Harry is just another chapter, another page to turn over. The finite value of it, how many limits are placed upon them, how Louis doesn’t associate future and Harry together.
Louis has always been it. It’s always been Louis and forever. That’s how it always has been and that’s how it always will be.
At least, for Harry.
“We’re going to get run over.”
“We’re not going to get run over.”
Louis stuck his nose in the air. “When we get run over,” he began, throwing his right foot in front of his left, toe touching heel. “I’m pushing you first.”
“Comforting.” Harry grinned, feet balancing on the rail. The tracks were creaking beneath them, years of use and mistreatment catching up.
“This is very romantic, Harry Styles,” Louis said, arms perpendicular to the ground, tilting to one side when his foot misstepped. Harry thought he looked like some sort of plane, or a bird, or something equally as beautiful. “What a great first date idea.”
“This isn’t a date,” Harry said, turning towards Louis. Louis raised an eyebrow, a silent really between them. “It’s not a date. If this were a date, I would have like, I don’t know, courted you. Or something. Met your parents. Given you my jacket if you were cold.”
“Now that you mention it,” Louis smiled and wrapped his arms around himself, “I really am quite cold.”
Harry rolled his eyes, shrugged his Homecoming jacket off nonetheless. He leaned over his side of the tracks to Louis’s, opening the jacket up for Louis to slip it on over his shoulders. It was laughably large on him, covering his hands and reaching his thighs, small body swimming in it.
Harry laughed. “You know,” he began, continuing their walk down the tracks. The sky was shining despite the darkness; Harry thinks it was a full moon. Or the stars. “You look very nice in my clothes.”
“I thought you said this wasn’t a date,” Louis said. He grinned into the night, twirling around the train tracks, arms spread around him. “I don’t think a boy’s platonic friend tells him he looks nice in his clothes.”
“Well,” Harry sighed, “this one does.”
Louis hummed and turned his head up. “I don’t think platonic friends kiss each other, do you, Harry Styles?” Louis’s pink lips curled up, and Harry shook his head because it was those thoughts, the beautiful eyes, the wet lips, the soft hair. It was those things that got him where he was.
Harry swallowed and looked away. Apparently he couldn’t handle looking at those eyes, or anything else for that matter. “Why do you always say my full name? It’s just Harry.”
“Because I think right now you’re Harry Styles, golden boy and quarterback, who acts like he can’t keep a relationship and pretends to like parties,” Louis said and Harry still felt his gaze, and Harry kind of wanted a train to run himself over. “You were Just Harry in the science room. I want more of him.”
“I don’t think there’s a lot of him there,” Harry muttered and kicked a pebble that somehow managed to land itself on the tracks. He shook his head. “What about you, Louis Tomlinson? You think I’m the only one who’s acting?”
Louis stopped on his side of the track. He looked away from Harry, and Harry immediately wanted to pull his face back, run his hand down Louis’s cheekbone just one more time. “I’m just trying to help you.”
“It’s hard for me to believe that when you seem to know everything about me and I don’t know anything about you!” Harry ran a hand through his hair and turned to Louis, just a few feet of railroad separating them. “Like, how old are you? I don’t even know that.”
Louis was messing with his fingers, flicking at his fringe like this was some sort of interrogation. “I don’t get why I have to tell you.”
“Because people want to know who you are,” Harry said, throwing his hands out in the air. He probably looked like some sort of insufferable child. He could not have cared less. “I want to know who you are, Louis!”
Harry shoved a hand through his hair. “What?”
“I’m sixteen years old, Jesus Christ, why is this so difficult?” Louis huffed and Harry almost wanted to kiss away the pout that landed itself on Louis’s lips.
“You’re sixteen,” Harry echoed. He felt his heart in his throat, the bruise of his ribs. Louis’s a year younger than him, and it’s not much at all but for a seventeen year old boy it must have been enough. “Okay. So.” Harry ran his palms over his face. “Like. What’s your favorite movie?”
Louis narrowed his eyes. “The Princess Bride.”
“Of course it is.”
“Everyone loves The Princess Bride, prick,” Louis scoffed and shoved Harry when Harry started laughing. “What kind of heartless person does not like The Princess Bride?”
Harry ran a hand over his face and says, “When you’ve watched it at least a thousand times, it gets a bit old.” Louis raises an eyebrow. “It’s my sister’s favorite movie. I swear, I know it verbatim.”
“A useful life skill, right there,” Louis says and pokes Harry’s shoulder. “Nothing gets me more hot and bothered than a man who can recite Wesley’s speech to Prince Humperdinck.”
“Really?” Harry grinned and turned to Louis, who was pointedly not looking at him, smiling at the ground. “In that case — ”
“If you start reciting it, I’m going to leave,” Louis laughed and looked Harry in the eyes. “And I won’t like you anymore. It’ll be too good to be true. He’s cute, plays American football, and can recite The Princess Bride. My body wouldn’t be able to take it.”
Harry smiled. “You think I’m cute?”
“Is that all you heard?”
Harry ignored that, too. “You like me?”
“Unfortunately,” Louis began, stepping forward so he’s closer to Harry, just a few inches. “I like you, Harry. I really do.”
Harry rolled his eyes but stepped forward, taking one of Louis’s fingers and interlocking between them. “And why could you possibly think that?”
He genuinely was wondering; what could wonderful Louis Tomlinson see in Harry. Louis had the whole town in the palm of his hand, and he was here. In front of Harry.
“I came to this town expecting the same people with those same faces,” Louis had said, looked up at Harry and fluttered his eyes. “I was expecting nothing but then I saw you.”
“And what did you see?” Harry didn’t just want to know. He needed to.
Louis’s eyes glanced down at Harry’s lips. “I don’t know. But I do know I like the way you look at me when you think I’m not looking.”
“I do not — ”
“You do,” Louis whispered and curled his lips up. “All the time. And I like how you play American football. And I like the way you say my name. And the way you bite your lip when you’re thinking. I like the sound of your voice.” Louis leaned in further, their lips just brushing. “I like the way you kissed me.”
Harry’s hands found a place in the dip of Louis’s waist, pulled Louis closer until their fronts melded together, Louis’s hands in his hair, soft lips against Harry. Louis breathed out, a gentle exhale and Harry breathed Louis in.
“Let me take you out on a date,” Harry said. Louis pushed himself up, pressed one more kiss until Harry settled his hands on Louis’s hips. “A proper one. I’ll dress up, pick you up from your house. I’ll bring flowers. Proper courting.”
Louis scrunched his nose. “No.” He broke out into giggles, little hiccups that had Harry’s heart stutter.
Harry laughed with him. “Really? Why’s that?”
“Because I’m characteristically very stubborn.” Louis stepped out of Harry’s hold, Harry’s fingers left curled up where Louis was supposed to be. “And I must remain in character. So, Harry,” Louis spun around, looked over his shoulder. “I’m expecting secret love notes stuffed in my locker proclaiming your undying love for me.”
“Louis Tomlinson!” Harry shouted down the tracks, where Louis was making his way back to the center of town. “You drive me fucking insane!”
“Good!” Louis turned to walk backwards. “It’s not working if I don’t!” He twirled back around, balancing himself on the railing.
Harry shook his head and looked up at the sky. And laughed and laughed, laughed until his ribs were bruised from the beat of his heart and a certain boy.
He thought he heard the universe laugh with him.
It’s late, and Harry’s been looking at the same chemistry note cards for two hours. He decides he deserves a break.
He rolls his shoulders back and stumbles downstairs, rubbing his eyes and yawning. His bare feet hit the ground, cold wooden floor sending shivers up his spine. Water is polar. Covalent bonds share electrons. Sodium has eleven electrons. Why do I need to know this.
Water. He came down here for water, and like, maybe a snack. Just a study break. Priorities, Harry.
He’s making lazy footsteps to the kitchen, counting up the periodic table until he hears something come from the living room. It’s nearly midnight. No one else in his house sleeps past ten, usually.
Harry turns the corner, shielding himself the slightest bit from view. He first sees some brown curls, then a few other heads of different shades. He hears his mom whisper something, and then a group of her friends laugh in hushed tones.
He’s forgotten. His mom runs some sort of book club on their street, one where they read a book enough to get by in discussion and then promptly spend the rest of the meeting sipping wine and eating cookies. Harry’s always loathed it, has always tried to just ignore it and let it happen because his mother seems to enjoy it enough, but this time, something makes him stay.
“Have you heard about Barbara’s new kid?” One woman says, and Harry can imagine her flipping her hair. So snooty. So pretentious.
“Who hasn’t heard of him?” Another woman pipes in. “It’s all my Jade seems to want to talk about.”
Someone sighs. “This is such old news. He’s been here for two months, ladies. I thought we were through with this.”
“I’ve heard some rumors.”
“We’ve all heard rumors.”
“No, but these you want to hear.”
“He’s not a spy for the government, Stacy.”
“No, no. This time Barbara’s the one who told me.”
“Now I know you’re lying. Barbara won’t talk to anyone about him. She acts like he doesn’t exist.”
Harry bites his lip and sinks to the ground. He wants to hear.
“Oh, but she let something slip.”
“Well, tell us.”
“I don’t know for sure, but something about an accident. There was an accident with a friend, or something. Something about family getting mad. Money or a lawsuit.”
“Could you be anymore vague?”
“I’m sorry! She was all upset and muttering things at the shop and that’s all I could pick up.”
“A friend?” There’s a pause, entirely too dramatic. “Are you sure it wasn’t a boyfriend? Surely I can’t be the only one who’s heard of those rumors.”
There’s a small rumble of giggles. Harry doesn’t hear his own mother’s.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if the boy was a queer. Have you seen the way he dresses?”
Another round of laughs. Harry’s fists are clenched. They are white.
“Wouldn’t surprise me if he has the plague. Unnatural things they are doing these days. Sodomizing the whole world.”
More laughs. Harry’s heart is picking up. Blood is rushing through his head.
“Leave the boy alone.” There is silence in the room. “I’m sure he’s been through enough.”
It is his mother. His mother, who won’t say Louis’s name. His mother, who sits at dinner, never looking him in the eyes, never looks anywhere but the floor and her plate. She blends in with the green walls of their house, pale and lifeless. Harry doesn’t remember the last time they’ve had a proper conversation. He can’t remember the last time they’ve said I love you.
But right now, he resists the urge to gather her up in his arms and fucking scream it. Oh, how he would love to see all those women’s faces when he turns to them and says I’m gay, I’m fucking gay and I’m a fucking faggot and I love boys and I love Louis and there is nothing you can do about it.
Of course, he doesn’t. He sits on the tile floor for a few moments longer, eyes focused on the cobwebs in the corner. He tries to focus on that when one word repeats in his brain, a constant mantra and it’s only getting louder and louder with every beat of his heart.
“You know,” Harry began, “I don’t really know anything about you.”
“My name is Louis Tomlinson. I am sixteen years old. My favorite movie is The Princess Bride.” Louis counted each sentence off with his fingers, held a three proudly in the air. “There. Three whole things you know about me.”
“Yes, but.” Harry waved with the one hand he could, the other holding the basket. “What about the other things. Friends. Family. Favorite color.”
“If you’re going to interrogate me,” Louis wiggled his fingers at himself, then in Harry’s face, “I would like to know where we’re going.”
Harry hummed and threw the basket into his other hand. “It’s supposed to be a surprise.”
“You’re dragging me out into the middle of the woods at night.” Which, Louis wasn’t wrong. They were in the woods. It wasn’t night, but fairly close. The sun was making its way behind the mountains. The sky was pink. “What if this was all a grand scheme for you to murder me where nobody could ever find my body again? I’m too young to die, Harry Styles. This is blasphemy — ”
“Close your eyes.”
“See, no, this is the part where you’re supposed to be like haha, Louis, I’m not planning on murdering you and then I laugh and you laugh and we all have one great big laugh.” Louis motioned between the two of them. “Like in all those John Hughes movies and then music swells up in the background and we go on a romantic date.”
Harry held out his right hand. “C’mon. Close your eyes.”
“You’re really not making your case for this whole not murdering Louis situation.” Louis closed his eyes regardless. “Okay. Eyes are closed. Ready for death.”
Harry laughed and stood behind Louis, put his hand over Louis’s eyes. “Okay, I’m going to need you to walk forward a bit.” He bit his lip, tried to not steady Louis’s waist with his hand. “No cheating, promise?”
“Do you promise to not murder me in the woods?” Louis asked. He took a few steps forward, Harry close behind him. If Harry stepped a few inches close, they would have been pressed against each other.
Harry hummed. “I guess. If this date goes well.”
“Comforting.” There were a few moments of comfortable silence, just the crunch of leaves beneath them and birds fluttering in the trees. Harry remembers thinking his heart beat as fast as their wings.
“Tell me a joke,” Louis said into the air. The wind seemed to pick up his words. “I don’t like silence.”
“Why can’t the flower ride their bike?” Harry bit back a grin. He’s not good at a lot of things, but this was something he could handle.
Louis stuck his tongue in his cheek. “Why?”
“Because their petals fell off.” Harry let out a cackle, because he’s hilarious.
“That,” Louis huffed out. There was a smile there, Harry could tell. “That was awful.” Louis giggled, and Harry wanted to lean over and capture the noise in his own mouth before the wind took it away. He shook his head.
He was being stupid; this whole thing was very stupid. Harry shouldn’t have done this.
He did it anyway.
“Louis Tomlinson,” Harry cleared his throat. “Are you ready for the best date of your life?”
“If it means anything.” Louis tilted his head to the side, Harry’s hand still covering his eyes. “You have very low standards to live up to.”
Harry nodded, despite Louis not being able to see him. “Right.” He grinned. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He let down his right hand, both his hands handling the basket. Harry breathed in. “Okay. Open your eyes.”
Three things happened in quick succession of each other.
First. Louis gasped, put his hands up to his mouth like Harry had given him the whole world. There were few things more beautiful than Louis in that moment in time, crinkles by his eyes, cheeks flushed. Harry remembers thinking that he’d want to see that everyday. Wanted to take Louis’s breath away for the rest of his life.
Which, of course, was stupid. Everything about this night was stupid, but Louis makes Harry a bit dumb.
Second. Louis spun around and flung his arms around Harry’s neck, surged up to kiss Harry on the lips. This would be the third time Harry kissed Louis, and the fourth time he’s kissed a boy. But. More on that later.
Third. Louis pulled away and looked at Harry like he had hung every star in the sky, because Harry quite literally had.
Harry had woken up before the sun, drove to this spot in the woods. He spent two hours stringing tinfoil stars on a tree that sat in the middle of a small clearing. They glittered in the sun, shone brightly and at night they would reflect back the moon. On the base of the tree laid a blanket Harry set down earlier, and a cassette player.
“I love it,” Louis said before Harry. Always ahead of him. “I love it and it’s beautiful and Harry Styles, you are truly a hopeless romantic.”
Harry slipped a hand into his basket. “I’m not done yet,” he said and walked over to the player. He grinned over his shoulder as Louis stood over by the edge of the clearing, still adoring Harry with those eyes, swimming in the stars Harry had made for him.
Morrissey's voice crooned over the speakers, and Louis smiled at Harry, something Harry has noticed has been reserved only for him. Louis nodded as he walked towards Harry. “Of course you’d like The Smiths,” Louis almost whispered. It was so quiet, Harry had to strain to hear him.
“Everybody likes The Smiths,” Harry said back, rolling his eyes. “Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.”
Louis scoffed, shrugged his shoulders back. “A bit morbid, is all.”
Harry bit his lip, hands moving before him. He grabbed Louis’s wrists, looked Louis in the eyes. “How can you say?” Harry sang along with the , a smile reaching his ears on his face. Louis scrunched his nose, a short laugh left his lips. “That I go about things the wrong way?”
Louis’s hands seemed to melt in Harry’s arms, going pliant. He let himself be swayed in Harry’s hold, stared at the hollow of Harry’s throat. He grinned and continued where Harry left off. “I am human — ”
“And I need to be loved!” Harry belted out between them before falling on a branch, onto the blanket with a solid thump as Louis landed on him. Louis laughed as he rolled off Harry’s chest, voice muffled by the blanket and the quiet rise of the moon.
“You are, by far, the clumsiest American football player I have ever encountered,” Louis giggled as he rolled onto his back. He stared at the tinfoil stars Harry put together, as if he could see constellations through them.
Harry leaned on his side, resting his head on his hand and his elbow on the blanket. “It’s not American football — ”
“It is, though, because I said so.” Louis smiled and Harry’s eyes lingered on his sharp profile, the straight slope of his nose and the gentle curve of his eyebrows, the contrast of his pink lips and the blue of his eyes. Beautiful juxtapositions. “And I’m always right,” Louis continued. “Don’t even get me started on that abomination of a drink you always have in class.”
Harry paused. “Are you talking,” Harry said, drawing out the words, resisting a smile, “about Gatorade?”
“Yes!” Louis threw his hands up. “A disaster of a drink.”
“Says the boy who drinks tea.”
Louis huffed and refused to look Harry in the eye, sticking up his nose. “I’ll have you know — ” He began, but never finished. A smile overtook his features, and he leaned up on his elbows. “Harry. Look.”
Harry turned to the sky, and behind his own false stars, he saw it. A streak of white flashed through the black, cutting through the darkness and Harry’s eyes followed. It left behind a trail of fire, a left behind wish before disappearing completely.
“A shooting star,” Harry had whispered. He had never seen one before. Thought it was only something from fairy tales.
“Actually,” Louis said, mouth turned up at the corners. He tilted his head at the sky, tongue between his teeth. “Shooting stars aren’t actually stars. They’re just meteors. Just a small piece of dust.”
“Alright, Einstein.” Harry chuckled. He poked Louis in the shoulder. “Did you wish for anything?”
Louis glanced at him before turning away just as fast. “Of course I did. It’s just some dust, but beautiful dust.”
Harry nudged him again. “What’d you wish for?”
“Well, if I tell you,” Louis began, eyes still on the sky, “It won’t come true, now will it?”
“I’ll tell you if you tell me,” Harry said, eyes flickering between Louis’s lips and the slope of his neck, the small bones of his wrist. He was always so delicate. Sometimes Harry thought that if he reached out to grab Louis’s hands, he would slip right out of them. Like he was never even there.
Louis shrugged. “I don’t want to know what you wished for.” Before Harry could linger too long, Louis stretched his arm out and pointed. “Those stars look like a cat.”
Harry narrowed his eyes. “No way. That’s a penguin.”
“No, look.” He had grabbed Harry’s finger and directed it to point at the sky. “See, those are the ears, that’s the body, and that’s the tail.”
Harry felt a rush of blood to his face at their contact, Louis’s small fingers wrapped around his larger ones. Louis seemed unaffected, babbling on about how these are obviously the whiskers, Harry, how can you not see and Harry had never wanted to kiss someone quiet so much and yet make them want to never stop talking.
That’s what they did a lot of that night. Just talk. About a lot of useless things, and Louis carried most of it with his own incessant need to fill silence, to occupy every space he’s in. Harry remembers the shade of blue Louis’s eyes turned when Harry would make a joke, laugh until his ribs ached. Harry also remembers a star.
“Look over there,” Louis whispered in Harry’s ear. Louis had made his way closer to Harry throughout the night, and he was half leaning on Harry’s side, nose curled into Harry’s shoulder. “That’s your star.”
Harry knew immediately which one Louis was talking about. A smaller one in the sky, and it would have blended in if not for the light behind it. It looked as if it were hiding a million galaxies beneath it’s surface. If only something could let it out. Let it know it was okay.
“Why do you think that?” Harry said. He swallowed tightly, throat caught up.
Louis hummed. “I think it would tell bad jokes. And probably play American football. Maybe even have curly hair.” Louis poked Harry’s face, fingers a few motions away from Harry’s pout. “And a dimple. Of course.”
Harry looked back up at his star. Louis pursed his lips. “What would your star’s universe look like, Harry?” Louis asked, lips soft against Harry’s shoulder.
“Nobody would know my name,” was the first thing Harry said. He shut his eyes. “And I wouldn’t have to be so afraid.”
“What’re you afraid of?” Louis’s hand was on the side of his face. He didn’t open his eyes. “You can tell me. We’re in space, Harry. It’s just us.”
Just us. Just Louis. Louis was just another person. That’s all he was. That’s all he ever will be. Just another person.
“Everything. I’m scared of my father.” Harry breathed in. His chest was shaking. “I’m scared of my friends. Scared to leave but I’m scared of staying forever. Scared of change but I’m scared of things never changing. God, Louis, you’re.” Harry opened his eyes to find Louis looking right back at Harry. His eyes were filled with stars. “You’re not scared of anything.”
Louis kissed him. Louis rubbed the veins in Harry’s wrist with his thumb, brushing the sensitive skin. Harry’s hands found Louis’s and wrapped around them, and Harry felt like he could have so easily snapped them.
He would be so easy to break.
“We should get going,” Harry said in between a kiss. Louis was half in Harry’s lap, catching his own breath. He furrowed his eyebrows at Harry. “It’s late,” Harry explained. “Curfew.”
On the way back, in Harry’s shitty car, Louis would pretend to fall asleep on Harry’s shoulder. Harry only knew that because Louis tensed the slightest bit when Harry slid his arm around him, and the way his eyelids were scrunched tightly.
At Louis’s house, Harry would hand Louis the CD he had played earlier. Louis would shake his head, insist that no, you can keep it, you’ve already done so much.
Harry would smile. “Keep it.” Please. The please was silent, but they both knew it was there.
Louis would keep everything. Harry did make the cassette for Louis; it would be the first gift of many. Louis would keep every note Harry snuck into his locker. The late phone calls. The nights spent in each other’s beds. Glances passed in the halls. Harry’s heart. Harry’s soul.
Everything Harry had was made for Louis. Harry was convinced that the world had created him for Louis, and Louis for Harry, and that nothing could come between the two of them. They could rule the world together. They could burn it down.
So. Keep it. Please.
It wasn’t much, but it was everything then.
It all happened so fast.
Everybody fell into Louis’s gravity, no matter how much they didn’t want to. But nobody fell as hard or as fast as Harry.
Harry looked forward to school that Monday, because at school he got to see Louis. He couldn’t touch Louis. He couldn’t wrap his arm around him or wish him good morning. But he could see him, could feel him around him, could wrap his feet around Louis’s under the desks in English. It was enough. It would have to be enough.
And everyday Harry got up for Louis, whether he knew it or not. He dressed for Louis, he smiled for Louis, he stayed after school to walk Louis home, he stayed up until two in the morning to talk to Louis. He listened to all the bands Louis liked, and made cassettes to slip into Louis’s locker to make sure Louis did the same.
Louis did not remind Harry of anything, but everything reminded Harry of Louis.
Louis was the smell of Harry’s sheets, the light coming through his window. Louis was in every movie, every book. Harry became infatuated with his eyes and their tendency to change color and Harry slipped stupid poems into Louis’s locker about that very thing. Louis was the very air Harry breathed, and Harry couldn’t get enough.
And the month of October passed and every game Harry played was for Louis and every time his father would yell at him for being out late it was for Louis and every skeptic look his friends gave when they caught him staring was for Louis and every moment, every class, every breath was for him and it still wasn’t enough.
It would never be enough. Because Harry is Harry and Louis is Louis and that is just how things are, Harry is realizing, and how things will always be.
This is the thing about football.
Harry has loved the sport since he was little, and he’s always had a certain knack for it. He was the player the other kids were told to pass it to during peewee, and the kid other parents would whisper about and mutter something about tryhards and overachievers and Harry has never understood the gossip that fuels a small town, but.
He was good at it. And Harry was always quite awful in school and his father would beam at him whenever a good pass was played and he lived for his father’s approval when he was little. So Harry played football and he got onto Varsity his freshman year and he was going to get a full ride scholarship to some school somewhere. But there is a difference between being good at something and being passionate about it and, well.
Harry is good at football.
Liam is stretching next to him at practice, rotating his hips when he asks, “So. How are things between you and Louis?”
Harry doubles over in coughs, puts his hands on his knees to steady himself. He stares down at the ground and squeezes his eyes shut. “What.” His hands are sweating. “What do you mean?”
How do you know, is what he wants to ask.
Liam furrows his eyebrows. “Just wondering if he’s given back your jacket yet,” Liam says, drawing out the words as he nudges Harry up. “He’s always stealing your stuff, you know that? A right nuisance.”
Harry laughs, because, yes. Of course. Liam doesn’t know. “I,” Harry breathes in and chuckles, runs a hand over his face. “I know, he’s a pain, isn’t he?” A pain Harry loves. A pain Harry can’t live without.
“Niall’s wondering if you’d grow to like him someday,” Liam says, rising up to stretch his shoulders. They’re towards the back of stretches today, away from intruding ears. “You know, Niall really seems to be warming up to him. Says Louis is a laugh, and he’s really good at chemistry. Everyone seems to be really starting to like him.”
Harry huffs as he bends over. Harry really likes him, too. “How neat.”
“I guess I’m wondering.” Liam sits down on the cool grass, mud getting on the back of his legs. “When this little feud between the two of you is going to die out.”
A feud that never really has existed, but a feud to everyone else, Harry supposes. But Harry is the one who started that rumor. The one who freaked out that Tuesday in October when Louis came to school wearing Styles on his back, the one who told his friends that oh, that kid must have stolen it from me and Perrie passed a rumor about Louis having a deep rooted hatred of Harry, and anything Perrie says gets spread around the school like fucking chlamydia, Harry swears it.
Anyway. So. Apparently Louis hates Harry and Harry hates Louis and every prolonged glance is a challenge and every time Louis brings a sign reading another insult to Harry to a game, it’s just part of them. Harry and Louis. Louis and Harry.
Harry shrugs. “Maybe when he stops stealing my stuff.”
Liam shoves Harry on the shoulder. “Let’s be honest here,” Liam grins, brown eyes warm. “He’s never going to stop stealing from you.”
He’s not wrong, is the thing. Louis has already taken everything. Harry’s jackets, his school, his life. Harry’s heart, of course, but that sounds terribly cliche.
But before Harry can say anything, a whistle marks the beginning of practice. Harry’s father is watching him as he brushes off the mud and starts his laps. “How about an extra lap for Styles and Payne for talking during stretches, huh?” Harry’s dad asks the team, and the team laughs as they pass Harry and Liam.
Liam sighs and mutters something along the lines of why am I friends with you as he runs on the pavement and Harry.
Harry can feel the weight of his father’s gaze all throughout practice. It doesn’t go away for the rest of the day.
It was Halloween.
Louis was wearing Harry’s jersey.
But before that, it was raining.
Harry was sitting on a couch in Liam’s living room, arguing about the shades red and green and why they made for an absolutely horrible color scheme. People passed them every once in awhile to congratulate them on the game, or to say hello. Someone offered them a drink, but they leaned in closer to each other, too immersed in the conversation.
“It’s hideous,” Harry had said, glaring at the green couch. “What time of year is it, Halloween or Christmas, you’ll never be able to tell.”
Liam scoffed and leaned into the cushions. He was dressed as Batman, which meant he used a black blanket as a cape and drew a shitty Batman symbol on a white shirt. “It’s a classic. Look at it. Green and red are complementary colors.”
“It looks like Santa himself barfed all over the floor.”
“Who says it’s too early to be festive?” Liam patted a bright red pillow and held it up in the air. “I say we have Christmas all year round.”
Niall hopped on over the couch and clapped Harry on the arm. “Harry!” Niall yelled and rustled with Harry’s hair. “Just the guy I was looking to see.”
“Hi, Niall,” Liam said.
“Oh, hey, Liam.” Niall grinned over his shoulder and turned back to Harry. “Now. Why haven’t you told me that you and Tomlinson made up?”
Liam peered over Niall’s shoulder and raised his own bushy eyebrows. “This is the first I’m hearing of this.”
“Shut up, Liam,” Harry grumbled and frowned at Niall. “What are you on about?” Harry’s palms were sweating. There was always a sense of anxiety, is what Harry remembers. A sense of foreboding, a sense of what if we get caught and a sense of I don’t care if we do. There was a thrill in it. There was freedom.
Niall frowned back. “What are you on about?” He turned around and looked at the room. “Hey, Liam, have you guys recently redone the place?”
Liam looked at Harry with a smug grin. “Yes, we did.”
“Oh, no. Green and red look awful,” Niall frowned and picked up the pillow previously held by Liam. “I mean, I know they’re complementary colors, but it looks like Santa just barfed all over the floor.”
Harry snapped his fingers and stood up. “That’s what I said!” Liam turned to shoot Harry a glare and Harry nodded and said, “Right. I’ll just go get a drink. Or something.”
Niall smiled. “Be sure to find Tomlinson.” He took a drink from his own cup and if Harry saw it properly, shot Harry a wink. Odd. It made Harry’s stomach lurch. “He’s certainly looking for you.”
Certainly looking for you. Harry shrugged and walked off, making his way towards the kitchen. He passed by a group of guys, offered Harry a joint. He grinned and shook his head. Not right now.
He met Jade — adorned in a Wonder Woman costume — in the kitchen, where she was twirling her hair and murmuring to Perrie, who placed bunny ears on her head and somehow called it a costume. They welcomed him with big smiles before shoving a red cup in his hands and sending him on his way, the same smile aimed at him as Niall had given.
Harry frowned and let the God awful a-ha song course through him, unwillingly tapping his foot against the tile. Damn pop radio hits. Damn Liam for his awful music selection. Damn himself for falling for the rhythm. Damn Louis, because where was he —
“Harry!” Right. Harry allowed himself a smile, schooling his expressing down before spinning around on his heels.
Louis was there — of course he was — and he was smiling at Harry. He was sat up on the countertop, black grease under his eyes. Harry’s jersey was cropped, the number seventeen stopping before his stomach, Styles on his back. His legs were sprawled.
Zayn stood between them, but Harry likes to ignore that part when he looks back on it.
Louis waved his hands and quirked his fingers in a come hither motion. Harry glanced around — there were not a lot of people in the room, but enough that Harry’s palms began to sweat. He walked over, because Louis was still looking at him with expectancy and how could have Harry denied him, really.
“What is he supposed to be?” is the first thing Harry said. Zayn chose that moment to walk away, not before hugging Louis with one arm and muttering something in his ear that made Louis laugh. Harry’s eyes lingered on Zayn’s back far longer than he wanted them to. “More importantly,” Harry said. “What are you supposed to be?”
Louis smiled. “Zayn went as Beetlejuice.” He motioned down at himself and wiggles his eyebrows. “I went as an American football player.”
Harry narrowed his eyes. “It’s not American football — ”
“Honey, we’ve been over this,” Louis said and playfully kicked Harry in the knee, smiling up at Harry with mischief in his eyes. “Remember? I’m always right.”
“Right.” Harry chuckled, beside himself. He felt a few pairs of eyes on them, and a few smart enough to look away. “Where’d you even get this?” He pointed at his jersey. He wanted to toy at it, to pull Louis closer, to slip his hand under the fabric, but. You know why he couldn’t.
“You left it at my house,” Louis said and leaned back further, exposing the tan skin of his stomach. Harry felt himself lean forward the slightest bit, trying to conceal Louis, or just for himself, maybe. “That one night when you stayed over — ”
Harry must have looked terrified because Louis rolled his eyes and sat back up. He looked down at his pants before turning up to smile at Harry. “I like your costume.” Louis pointed at the orange lightning bolt struck across Harry’s face. “Very David Bowie-esque.”
“Did you even come to the game?” Harry asked, too hopeful in tone.
Louis scoffed and rested a hand on his chest. “I’m insulted that you think I wouldn’t come to insult my favorite player.”
Harry bit his lip. “I’m your favorite?”
“Of course,” Louis said. “My favorite moment was when you fumbled the ball third quarter.”
“Oh, dear God,” Harry mumbled and ran a hand over his face. “I didn’t even know you watched the games. I thought you just stood there and yelled.”
“What can I say? I’m cultured.” Louis’s feet nudged Harry’s leg, wrapping themselves around it. Harry looked Louis in the eye, and Louis raised his eyebrows. A challenge. “My second favorite moment was when you threw the ball to the other team.”
Harry groaned. “It’s called an interception and in my defense, number twelve came out of nowhere — ”
“Excuses.” Louis waved his hand. His ankles were wrapped around Harry’s leg. “My third favorite moment was when you — ”
Harry’s hand covered Louis’s mouth, his words cut off with a mumble, hot heat against the palm of his skin. “Stop insulting me,” Harry laughed. If they were alone, he would have stopped Louis with his own lips. “This is bullying.”
Louis’s own breath tickled the palm of Harry’s hand. He felt a grin; he also felt the eyes of a few more people staring at them. Though, honestly, by Monday probably was a rumor that Harry was like, choking Louis out. High schoolers.
“Nngh,” Louis mumbled against Harry’s hand. Louis rolled his eyes. “G’t yer fif’y ‘ans off.”
“Did you hear something? Harry hummed and looked around the room, meeting Louis’s entirely unamused glare. “Must have been the wind.”
Louis sighed and smiled against Harry’s palm before a wet stripe was licked against his hand, saliva covering his fingers. “You filthy — ” Harry began, wiping the spit off with his shirt, but he was cut off by the loud cackle of Louis’s laugh, and his own smile spreading itself on his face despite himself.
The few people left in the room were left staring at Harry, their own grins playing at their lips and eyebrows raised in explanation as Louis ran out of the kitchen, laugh echoing down the hall. Harry mouthed a small sorry.
He didn’t mean it, of course. Louis was unapologetically himself — it was not his fault that Harry wasn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t, in some people’s eyes.
Harry nodded and made his way towards the living room. Niall was lounging on the coach, and he pointed towards the back door. “He ran out there,” Niall said. He was looking at Harry with narrowed eyes. “Try not to beat him up, Styles.”
“I make no promises, Horan.” Harry grinned.
“I’m beginning to like his face.” Niall waggled his finger. “I would hate to see it purple.”
Harry happened to like his face, too. He would also hate to see it purple. He nodded and stepped outside, cool autumn air against his skin. Everyone else was inside; it was just them, and Harry loved it.
“Louis?” Harry called out. His voice seemed to carry into nothing. He stepped further into Liam’s yard, the grass fading into the forest that bordered their town. It would have been fairly creepy, if not for the fact that Liam’s house was adorned in Christmas colors. Complementary colors his ass.
“Loueeeeh?” Harry smiled at the sky, full moon peering down at the two of them. For such a clear night, there were no stars. “Louis William Tomlinson — ”
“Boo!” A voice behind him yelled. Harry’s eyes were promptly covered and concealed in darkness. “Guess who?”
If it weren’t for the voice, and the fact Harry was just calling out his name, Harry would have still been able to tell it was Louis. Mainly because Louis’s skin radiates a sort of warmth that Harry’s never felt before, that leaves Harry’s own shivering late at night when Louis is all he can think about. Also because he’s felt Louis’s fingertips on his face a thousand times before, and no one has ever held a sort of grace with their touch the same way Louis does. A sort of delicate caress.
Harry pretended to make a thoughtful noise. “Does it happen to be the guy from The Shining?”
“What the fuck is The Shining?”
“You’ve never seen The Shining? The best horror movie of all time?”
“Harry, my favorite movie is The Princess Bride.”
Harry hummed and turned in Louis’s arms. Louis was left with his hands curled in Harry’s hair. “Right, I forgot,” Harry said and knocked their foreheads together. His fingers found the sliver of skin exposed by Louis’s — his own — jersey. He ran his fingertips up and down the smooth skin, a trail of goosebumps left in his wake. “You’re made entirely of gumdrops and fairytales.”
“Actually, tonight I’m a big, manly football player.” Louis pointed to the grease under his eyes. “I’m very intimidating. I tackle burly men. I intercept balls.”
“You sure intercepted these balls — ”
“Okay, no, I’m leaving,” Louis laughed and grabbed Harry’s wrists, forcing them down to Harry’s sides. “I cannot handle these raging, immature, American boys.” Louis turned around and walked further into the woods.
Harry cooed. “You love how American I am.” He plastered himself to Louis’s back, wrapping his arms around Louis’s waist. Louis grumbled, but pushed his hips back against Harry’s regardless. “You love my immature, American humor.”
“I hate it,” Louis breathed out, Harry’s lips against his neck, teeth crawling up his throat. “Almost as much as I hate myself for laughing at it.”
“You love my jokes,” Harry murmured into Louis’s jaw. “Because you love me.”
Louis’s hips stilled against Harry’s.
It was not the first time Harry ever used the word love with Louis. Louis has never said he doesn’t love Harry — Louis throws the word around whenever Harry gets him a glass of water or gives him a pen in class. He uses it when someone picks up his books in the hall — an Oh my God, I love you, thank you so much. Harry’s fairly certain Louis’s love doesn’t mean anything.
It doesn’t stop Harry from saying it every waking moment of everyday — he would scream it from the fucking rooftops if he could. He would write it down on every wall and paint it over every house until the whole world was painted in shades of HarryandLouis.
Louis’s fingers were rubbing small circles on the back of Harry’s hand, and he spun himself around to face Harry. “I wanna blow you.”
Harry paused. What. “What.”
“Do you not know what that is?” Louis asked.
“Of course I know what a blowjob is,” Harry said and bit his lip, his own pants tightening up the slightest bit. “Just, like. Now?”
Louis rolled his eyes. Sassy. It kind of made Harry want to get Louis on his knees just to shut him up, and kind of made him want to gather Louis in his arms and never let go. “Did you want me to make a weekly planner for our sexual conquests?”
Not many sexual conquests to make plans for, at this point. The furthest they had gone in October was when Louis came in his pants when they were kissing on Harry’s bed. Whether the noises Louis made when he came made Harry come as well, will never be confirmed by Harry. But.
“I just wanna feel close to you,” Louis whispered and intertwined their fingers between them. “I’m so cold.”
Louis was just about the exact opposite of cold; he was burning up underneath Harry’s hands, Harry’s own personal source of light. He ignites under oxygen and Harry’s found that he burns brightest when people try to blow him out. He rages against dying light and there is nothing that can put him down.
Sometimes, Harry wants to share Louis with everyone. Most of the time, though, Harry wants to keep Louis all to himself. He guesses he’s selfish like that.
“There are more ways to feel close to someone than physically,” Harry had said back. “We can go back to my house and watch The Shining. I have it on VHS.”
Louis tilted his head and sighed. “Will you have tea?”
“We can pick some up,” Harry said. “And snacks. Anything you want.” Anything.
No one thinks Harry hates Louis.
Harry wishes he hated Louis. Harry has spent a good portion of his time trying to hate Louis. He has tried distancing himself. He has tried insults. He has tried ignoring him. He could never hate Louis.
And as much as he has tried to convince himself that everyone thinks Harry hates Louis, he knows, somewhere in his mind that he’s never tried to think too much of, that no one does. He knows because of the way Niall speaks of Louis, how he asks Harry how Louis is doing, how Liam’s eyes linger on the jackets Louis steals, how Perrie furrows her eyebrows when Harry says he doesn’t know where Louis is.
He knows his life would be easier if he hated Louis. If he hated Louis, there would be no lying. No sneaking around. He would date a girl with long blonde hair and warm brown eyes and they would be happy for a bit. His father would never have to yell at him about that faggot, that queer, get him out.
And if he looks even deeper, he thinks a part of him would prefer it if Louis didn’t even exist.
A future where Louis never even existed looks something like this:
Harry would graduate high school and maybe go to college on some football scholarship. He would pretend to have fun with his team and go out to parties and fuck with random girls while thinking about random boys. He would eat, breathe, and sleep. At some point, he would meet a girl with kind eyes who dresses nice and has a funny laugh, and he would think that she is fine and she would meet his parents and he would meet her own. They would get married at a church with their close relatives and buy a house with a beautiful green lawn and a white picket fence.
They would have kids and Harry would have a nine to five job doing something he never had a passion for but it paid the mortgage. They would fight a lot and it would be entirely his fault — whether it was about money or the kids or the lack of love, God, they used to be in love. Right?
And Harry would go through his life feeling all the emotions he will ever feel by the age of eighteen and everything from then will just be shadows of everything he’s felt before but he wouldn’t have to be so fucking afraid. He would never have to be afraid.
“I hate you,” Harry is muttering against Louis’s lips. They’re on Louis’s bed, and Louis is pinned underneath Harry’s weight, the warmth of his legs engulfing Harry in heat. “I hate you so much.” Their teeth clash together. “I hate you.”
Louis giggles and shakes his head. “I love you.” It is so quiet, and it is for Harry. Harry hates it. Harry wishes Louis wouldn’t say that.
“It’s not a joke,” Harry says between his teeth. He grabs Louis’s wrists and pins them above his head. “I hate you.” He wishes he did. “I really, really do.” He really, really doesn’t.
“I love you,” Louis whispers. Harry clenches his eyes shut when he feels the weight behind them. “I love you, Harry, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Nothing Harry can do. Harry is too far gone; he knows Louis isn’t. Louis has the world adoring him and Louis chooses Harry and it doesn’t make any sense.
“I hate you,” Harry says, weak and breathy. He’s left a litter of marks up the column of Louis’s throat and he wishes he hated them but he would do it all over again. He knocks their foreheads together. “I love you,” he says against Louis’s lips. He can’t breathe in the air. “I love you so much I’m gonna fucking kill you.”
I wish I didn’t goes unsaid between them. They both know, anyway.
Why do I need to know about Latin roots? Harry slides the note to Louis.
Louis skims over the note and writes back. Because the school system is a systematic way for society to get off on the failure of students then blame them for not knowing how to navigate the workforce after high school even though we spend an hour a day learning about Latin roots but not about how taxes work.
Harry nods. Right. He picks up his pencil. Ah, societal norms in a capitalist society. A breeding ground for social injustice.
He slides the note and Louis scribbles on it with his pen. It’s red and leaves smears across the paper. Everybody’s obsessed with who’s best dressed and who’s fucking who that nobody cares about injustice. Which further perpetrates injustice and capitalism.
Harry is about to write back before another note is slid into his hands. Like, Reagan was an actor. Hardly qualified to be president, right?
He picks up his pencil again, but another note finds its way into his lap. Imagine if we continue down this route. TV stars could become president who have no experience in office! Who have no idea what being a minority is like. Who listen less to the people than Ronald fucking Reagan. There could be an unqualified, racist, sexist, xenophobic asshole in office and some people would still find a way to support him!
Harry raises his eyebrows at Louis, then scrawls something on the back of the paper. Louis. Is there something you need to talk about.
Louis reads and slides another note over. Nothing. Just that Reaganomics is bullshit. And the war on drugs is failing. And traditional American values is a social construct perpetrated by angry white people.
Louis. You are white.
Harry bites his lip. This is truly a thrilling conversation.
Louis rolls his eyes as he writes back. This teacher blows.
Harry reads the note. He scribbles his own words onto the back and slips it over to Louis. I know someone else who blows.
Louis huffs when he reads the note and crumples it into a ball before tossing it at Harry. It nearly hits Harry’s eye before he ducks and it lands on the floor, a few inches away from the chalkboard.
“Styles, Tomlinson,” the teacher turns around. She smiles at them and the whole class chuckles a little under their breaths. “Care to tell the class what is so interesting that it is more important than this very engrossing Latin roots lesson?” She picks up the note from the ground with a grin. Harry’s heart nearly drops out of his chest.
Harry likes this teacher. He also likes keeping his head on his body. “Not particularly, Miss,” he says. He grimaces at himself. “I actually love vocabulary.” What.
Louis turns to him. “Right, Miss,” Louis says. His words are dull. “It’s my passion.”
“Glad to hear!” She claps her hands together and the class laughs. “Then maybe Louis can tell me what acrimony means?”
“Oh, easy.” Louis grins and leans back in his chair. “It means a bitter or ill feeling. For example.” Louis pauses and Harry purses his lips to keep from laughing because he knows. “This class gives me acrimony.”
The class bursts out into loud laughter. The teacher forgets the note and throws it into the garbage.
Louis gets a twenty minute detention. Harry gets the privilege of waiting for him outside in the rain.
Harry has only been in Louis’s room a twice. The first time was when Louis asked him to run up and grab his jacket. The second time is right now.
It’s barren. The first time, Harry hadn’t really looked around. To be fair, there isn’t much to look at. White walls with windows facing the street. There is a bed in the corner, a dresser towards the door, and a desk on the opposite wall. There are no clothes on the ground and no photos on the walls.
Louis seems perfectly content with how cold the room appears. He’s in the corner humming some song Harry doesn’t know, filing through one of the three boxes Louis has. Harry can’t believe a whole life could possibly be contained in those things.
“Hey, Lou?” Harry asks. He’s perched up on the desk. It’s surprisingly — or not surprisingly, really — empty, save for a textbook and two pencils. “Why haven’t you unpacked yet?” Louis’s been here since September, and it’s the end of November. A fairly valid question, in Harry’s opinion.
Louis shrugs and pages through one of the books he’s looking at. “I don’t know. I guess I just haven’t gotten around to it?” It’s not a question, but it sounds like one.
“Do you have any pictures?” Harry stands up. “I’ll gladly help to hang stuff up. The place looks a bit — ”
“Sad?” Louis offers. He grins up at Harry between his eyelashes.
“I was going to say empty, but that too, yeah,” Harry says and purses his lips. “Like, don’t you at least have one of your family?”
“Nope.” Louis leaves it at that. “Now, where did I put that book?”
Harry’s mouth moves to offer help, but his head is still stuck on something. “Lou, that’s sort of strange — ”
“Aha!” Louis smiles and pulls the book from underneath the third box on the floor. That one remains unopened. “Found it.”
Harry’s about to bring up the photos, or lack thereof, but Louis lays down on his bed, stretching his arms above himself until his shirt rides up the slightest bit, revealing a bit of tan skin, and Harry’s gone.
“Now,” Louis begins and opens up his book, smiling at the pages. “I’m going to write a poem.”
“Oh.” Harry raises his eyebrows and points to the door. His eyes still linger on the slip of skin Louis’s revealing. “Did you want me to leave?”
“No, you tit.” Louis throws a piece of paper at him. It hits Harry on the shoulder before rolling to the floor. Harry would pick it up, but it adds the slightest mess to the room and Louis’s a teenager, for the love of God, it should be littered with clothes, or papers, or something. “The poem’s about you.”
Harry nods. “Am I supposed to pose?” Harry pulls one hand on his hip and the other on the back of his head. “Because I can do that.”
Louis rolls his eyes. His pencil is tapping on his book, the same rhythm of the song he was humming earlier. “No, you idiot. Tell me about your day.”
So. Harry does. Harry tells Louis about how his sisters woke him up by blasting the entirety of Abba’s discography and how his father wasn’t at home again. Harry tells Louis the shade of the sky when he drove to school this morning and how that one Tears For Fears song came on the radio and he hates it but it’s been stuck in his head all day. He tells Louis about how the classes without him drag on for days but the ones with Louis last insignificant seconds, how it always seems like they’re being pulled apart too soon. He tells Louis about football practice and how much he loves his boys but hates his father. He tells Louis about the conversation they had in his history class, earlier, about God. Something about religious freedom.
“Do you believe in God, Lou?” Harry asks. He’s looking at Louis and Louis’s looking at anything but Harry.
Louis smiles at his book. “Of course not.”
And he tells Louis about how he thought of him in the middle of pre calc, and chemistry, and English even though Louis was right next to him. And he tells Louis that he’ll probably be the last thing Harry thinks about when he goes to sleep at night and the first thing he’ll think of in the morning. Louis shakes his head, but Harry still sees the blush creep onto his neck, to his cheeks.
“Can I see what you have so far?” Harry asks from where he’s seated on the desk.
Louis shakes his head. “No. An artist’s work must sit. It has to marinate.”
“The poem’s about me,” Harry says and throws out his arms. “I have like, a right to see it.”
“The poem’s about the love of my life,” Louis says and smiles at Harry. He throws his arms out. “I will only accept the best for him.”
Harry feels himself grin. “I’m the love of your life?”
Louis tosses his book at Harry’s face, and it lands somewhere near the door. “Unfortunately, yes. Now,” Louis opens his arms up and pouts. “I would very much like the love of my life to cuddle me.”
Really, how could Harry resist. Harry plops himself down between Louis’s legs, his head landing on Louis’s stomach. He nuzzles his face into the skin and Louis giggles, carding his hand through Harry’s hair.
“Could I just stay here forever?” Harry thinks aloud. He doesn’t mean to, but he doesn’t mind. He’s never been anything but honest when it comes to Louis. One of Louis’s hands come to intertwine with Harry’s. “How was your day?” Harry’s words are muffled into Louis’s shirt. Neither of them particularly seem to mind.
Louis hums and his words come out slow and smooth and Harry wants to wrap himself in them, wants to drown in the way Louis says morning skies and restless nights and he wants to swallow every word and make it his own until every part of him and every part of Louis belong to each other. Louis murmurs things about Zayn and Harry and friends and home, and Harry doesn’t know if he means back in Britain or here, in Harry’s arms.
Eventually, Louis’s words die off until they fall completely and Harry is left to pick up the pieces of them, putting together the letters until they no longer make sense. Harry smiles into Louis’s skin and leaves a lingering kiss on the column of Louis’s throat before pulling himself up and out of bed.
He’s about to leave before he nearly steps over the book, left near the doorway. Harry bends down to pick it up. He rips out the last page before leaving it where he found it, almost like nothing even happened.
Louis probably won’t notice, anyway.
Harry goes home and reads.
The first time he kissed me.
The last time he kissed me.
Every time he kisses me there is something I cannot articulate into words; he speaks slow, like he does not want any word to be left behind. I
love hate that about him. He never leaves anyone alone.
He speaks slow but kisses like I’ll slip away. I also
love hate that about him. He is cold when my fingers slip around his neck. I want to tell him I am staying, I am here, I will not be going anywhere, do not be so cold. Stop pulling away. Please, continue doing so. I cannot decide which one. He kisses me and I feel everything nothing.
I love the way he wraps his arms around me I hate the way he hovers. He fills an emptiness he takes up too much space for me. He makes me laugh he makes me cry. He’s going to get bored of me I want him to. He’s so sure about everything he can never make his mind up about me. I love the way he kisses me why does he think I’m going to leave. I love the way he makes me burn he’s going to leave me in fucking ashes. I ’m a walking contradiction no I’m fucking not.
I love him I hate him.
No, I don’t.
Harry goes into the bathroom and promptly pukes into the toilet.
Harry inserted the cassette, pressed play, then swiveled his hips.
He turned around and waved his hands. “So. Which type of lube do you wanna use?”
“Oh my God,” Louis moaned and fell back against Harry’s bed. He looked at the ceiling. “No. I refuse to have sex with you to this song.”
“Louis Tomlinson.” Harry set his hands on his hips. “It’s a classic.”
“Nope. I have too much pride.”
Harry shrugged. “Well, I mean.” He glanced towards the lube bottles he had bought earlier that week; he built up quite the collection. “We have a variety of lube, if you’re interested. Oil based, water based, this one supposedly smells like bubblegum. Don’t know if that’ll set the mood or — ”
“I dunno, Harry.” Louis’s eyes were averted away from Harry. “Stick a finger in me with fucking butter, I don’t care.” He paused for a moment. “As long as we turn off Marvin Gaye.”
“We’re not turning off Marvin Gaye. Is this not getting you in the mood?” Harry swung his arms into shapes while shuffling around the room. Some people would call it dancing. “C’mon, Lou. It’s a jam!”
Louis looked entirely unimpressed, but Harry could see the smile pulling on his lips. “Change the song, Harold.” He rolled onto his stomach and hid his face in Harry’s pillows.
Harry threw his hands up in surrender. “Fine.” He clicked the next button, then threw a bottle of lube at Louis before flopping onto his bed, nuzzling the back of Louis’s neck. “Better?”
“I fucking hate you.” Louis’s voice was muffled in the pillows, but Harry could hear his laughter. His shoulder blades shook against Harry’s chest. “You are fucking dreadful, Harry Styles.”
“Lou.” Harry grinned despite himself, burying his nose into Louis’s hair. “Lou. Look at me.”
“No. I’m protesting Marvin Gaye and all his songs.”
“But, Louis,” Harry crooned into his ear, biting the soft skin under it. “Marvin Gaye wants us to get it on, sugar.”
Louis’s shoulders shook again, his giggles being lost in Harry’s pillows. Harry was only kind of jealous that he couldn’t hear it. “Promise to not sing Marvin Gaye during the actual thing. Or else I may actually leave you for Zayn.”
“I promise,” Harry said. He tugged on Louis’s waist. “Now. Will you turn over so I can look into your eyes and tell you how beautiful you are?”
“You do that everyday,” Louis muttered, but turned over so Harry was between his thighs, fit perfectly between them. Harry ran his hands up and down Louis’s legs, down to the delicate curve of his ankle.
“You’re right. I do.” Harry pressed a kiss to the hollow of Louis’s throat. “And I’ll tell you tomorrow.” He littered kisses up to Louis’s jaw. “And the next day. And everyday after.” He bit on Louis’s ear, whispered, “And I’ll do it while I’m inside you. If you’d let me.”
If you’d let me. Because now that Harry looks back on it, it was always Louis. Louis’s chance. Louis’s opportunity. Louis’s life. Louis’s love.
Louis’s breath hitched, the slightest intake of breath that maybe most people would not have noticed. “You’re such a sap,” Louis said, but his breath was shaking.
“Is that a yes?” Harry was smiling against Louis’s lips, and the nod of Louis’s head was steady and certain. Harry kissed Louis, deep and long, drawing out the seconds between them. “Thank you.” He ran his hands up Louis’s sides. “Will you take your shirt off for me, baby? Please?”
Louis’s hands were nervous, and Harry could see how his veins were trembling and the beat of his heart through his chest. Harry took his wrists and pinned them down to the bed. “Let me do it, okay?” Harry looked up at Louis, who was flushed red from the dip of his collarbones to his cheeks.
“You don’t need to coddle me,” Louis said, but pulled his arms up, allowing Harry access to his chest. Harry tugged Louis’s shirt off and threw it towards the ground, adding to the pile of clothes building up on the ground. They’d been planning this for like, a week. Harry should have lit some candles, or at least made sure Louis didn’t end up coming on Harry’s old boxers, or something.
Harry said as much. “D’you wanna wait?” Harry looked up from where he was pressing light kisses between Louis’s ribs, the outline of his bones just pulling at his skin. He ran his lips over Louis’s nipples, could feel their hearts beating as opposites. “I just want it to be perfect for you — ”
“It’ll be perfect because of you, idiot,” Louis giggled and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair. He looked down at Harry and smiled. “Now. Please. Fuck me?”
“You know,” Harry began. He leaned back on his haunches to tug at Louis’s pants, sharp and sudden, and Louis let out a breath as his legs were exposed. Harry rubbed his thumbs in circles, outlining a faint, imaginary H on Louis’s hips. “I used to dream about this. When you first came here.”
Louis nodded absently; he was toying at the ends of Harry’s jersey. They had won earlier that night. Harry remembers looking back at the crowd when he made the winning touchdown. Everyone was cheering his name, and the only person he could see was the small boy, front and center of the student section, stomping his feet and screaming obscenities. Harry remembers wanting to pull him down from the bleachers to kiss him. Harry remembers never wanting anything more.
“What did you dream about?” Louis asked, tugging Harry’s jersey over his head. Harry went willingly, shoving it off until their chests were naked, their hearts in line. “Tell me. I wanna hear it.” Louis’s words were slow and slurred, and Harry wanted to lick them out of his mouth.
Harry stripped Louis of his boxers, and Louis gripped the back of Harry’s neck, tugging him down for a kiss. “I remember one of the first nights. You dropped your pencil in class that day and bent down to get it.” Harry ran a finger over Louis’s dry hole, and Louis bit Harry’s lip, hard enough to draw blood. “I went home and thought about you dropping to your knees for me.”
“You know. I would have.” Louis’s breath was hot against Harry’s face. Harry was suffocating in it. “If you asked.” Harry managed to get one finger snubbed up against Louis, pressing just barely. “What else,” Louis breathed out as Harry breached him. “What else, Harry, what else?”
Harry crooked his finger inside Louis, tight heat wrapping itself around him. Harry had smiled into Louis’s neck, thinking about how he was the only one who got to do this, and how unfair it was that he was happy that no one got to share Louis with him, and how he didn’t care.
“The first couple of weeks were like that.” Harry wiggled his finger some more, and Louis had dug his fingers into Harry’s hair, and his heels into Harry’s back. “Just you on your knees. I’d use your throat.” One of Harry’s hands, the one that wasn’t shoving two fingers up Louis’s arse, ran a finger down one of Louis’s veins. “You’d take it, even when you were hurting.”
Louis whined into Harry’s mouth, Harry’s fingers rubbing against his spot. Harry pressed his fingers deeper, watched Louis’s eyes as they turned dark, dark blue, deep enough to drown in.
“S’that it?” Louis narrowed his eyes to look into Harry’s. Harry wondered if he looked as messy as Louis did. Hair gone in all directions, sweat stuck to his skin, bite marks littering his throat. He doubt he pulled it off as well as Louis did. Louis somehow always looked stunning, even more so when he was Harry’s.
Harry shook his head and stuffed three fingers into Louis’s hole, Louis whimpering at the intrusion, moaning at the curl of Harry’s fingers. “I dreamt of you underneath me, like now. All naked and pretty.” He bent down to suck one of Louis’s nipples into his mouth, and Louis’s hands trembled in his hair, unsure of whether to pull Harry off or to pull him closer. “I thought of fucking you into the mattress. Thought of fucking you until you cried.” He tugged on Louis’s hair when Louis shut his eyes, making Louis look him in the eyes, the slightest sheen over his blue. “Dreamt of you begging for it.”
Louis’s hands came to the waistband of Harry’s pants. “You want me to beg for it?” Louis asked, looked up at Harry’s wide eyes.
“I don’t.” Harry began, and shook his head. “I don’t know.” He took his fingers out, wiped his stick hands off into the sheets. “You make me so confused. You get me all messed up.”
Messed up. Ever since the first day Harry laid eyes on Louis, he’s all Harry could ever think about. How he would feel under Harry, how he would say iloveyou, if he would ever, if he would ever mean it. If they could ever speak, if they Harry could ever love Louis properly, if their love could be forever. He’s the only thing Harry thinks is worth breathing for. The only thing worth dying for.
Harry shoved his pants off. “Could you get a condom, baby?” He said. “Please?”
Louis nodded and turned to Harry’s bedside table, slipping a hand into the drawer to pull one out. Louis had found them the first time he went into Harry’s room, and had giggled at how he could make a balloon animal out of it. This time, Louis tore at the wrapper and ran a small hand over Harry’s cock, not quite wrapping around it.
Louis smiled as he slipped the condom over Harry’s cock. “You’re really big,” he whispered and huffed as he looked at the ceiling. “Is it even going to fit?”
“I promise it will, princess,” Harry said and leaned forward to plant a kiss on Louis’s forehead, brushing aside his fringe.
“Don’t call me princess.” Louis spread his legs the slightest bit more, pulling Harry in closer to his atmosphere, all hot and hazy. Like summer. Like the sun.
“Whatever you say, princess.” Harry shot him a wink and Louis stuck his tongue at him and yes, Harry thought, this is what his love looks like.
Harry held onto both of Louis’s wrists with his hands and planted them on either side of Louis’s head. “Don’t move them, okay?” Harry said. “Princess?”
“Don’t call me — ” Louis whispered, but had it punched right out of him when Harry’s head breached his hole. Louis gasped and knocked his forehead against Harry’s, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Look at me, baby.” Harry grabbed onto Louis’s jaw as he slid into Louis deeper, hot heat all around. Louis’s eyes were glistening and his cheeks were red and Harry could feel his heart fluttering beneath him. He wanted to see this everyday. He wanted to see it forever.
Louis let out a small string of fuckfuckfuck when Harry’s hips came to be nestled against his arse. He curled his hands into his sheets, so beautifully still for Harry.
Harry ran his thumb across Louis’s cheekbone. “Fuck, baby, you’re so tight.”
“Thanks,” Louis whispered, and a smile drew across his face. “You’re pretty cool, too.”
A pause. Harry pulled back a bit, raised an eyebrow. “Did you just.” Another pause. Louis was giggling, and Harry smiled at the sound, just a bit more breathless than usual. “Did you just say.”
Louis quirked an eyebrow and Harry burst out laughing, body shaking, hips rolling into Louis. “You’re ridiculous,” Harry said into the corner of Louis’s mouth. “You’re my favorite person.”
Harry thrusted a bit deeper, then, slow and steady still. Louis gasped with every moment Harry pressed his hips against him, moaned into the room when Harry got to his prostate. “Fuck, Harry, fuckfuck.” He wrapped his legs tighter around Harry’s waist, pulled the angle into an even better position, one where Harry brushed Louis’s prostate on each slow thrust. “Shit, Harry, Harry.”
Louis’s lips were opened in a constant stream of fuck, harry, fuck, his lips pink and bitten, hands still curled into the sheets. His hips jolted up to meet Harry’s and Harry shook his head, his own hands coming to still Louis.
“Stop moving,” Harry muttered against Louis’s jaw. “Stay still, baby.”
Louis’s lips curled. “Still wanna fuck me until I cry?” He dug his heels further into Harry’s back. “I know you want to. You said you wanted to since you saw me, so just fuck me the way you want.”
Harry looked into Louis’s eyes, and all he saw was the softness of the blue, light and airy, and Harry remembers feeling like the luckiest person that he is the only one who will ever get to see it, the vulnerability that Louis hides.
“Okay, yeah.” Harry nodded. He took Louis’s arse in his hands, all rough as he stuffed Louis with his cock before snapping his hips again. Louis gasped and cried out, curled his fists hard enough that they turned white.
Harry felt a certain possessiveness, a need to bite Louis up, litter him with parts of Harry. It made him drive his hips harder into Louis, hold Louis down until he broke and he had to have Harry collect the pieces. He tugged Louis’s hips towards his own, left finger shaped bruises where he once was, where Louis would have to look in the mirror and remember he is Harry’s and Harry is Louis’s.
“HarryHarryHarry,” Louis sobbed as Harry used him, fucked him into the mattress. “Fuck me, HarryHarry, fuck me harder, I can take it, I wanna come, wanna come — ”
“Gonne come on my cock, yeah?” Harry snapped his hips harder. “Know you can, come on.”
Louis was crying, a stream of wet tears flowing down his cheeks. “Please, please — ” He came with a whimper, crying out as he painted his tummy white, holding onto Harry’s shoulders. “Harry, Harry.”
Harry thrusted into Louis, chasing his own orgasm. He ran a hand down Louis’s thigh. “Want me to pull out?” He asked, and Louis, too gone to form words, shook his head and held Harry’s head closer, pressed a lazy kiss to Harry’s mouth.
Harry came then, and though he was wearing a condom all he could imagine was filling Louis up with his come, having it sit in Louis, a constant reminder that Harry was there, that Harry did that to him.
“Get off me, you oaf,” Louis had said, with no malice behind it. Harry laid there for a moment longer, his fingertips lingering on where they were connected, before pulling out and turning to lay on his back.
He felt fingers on his arm. “Hey, Harry?”
“No need to thank me, Lou.”
“No. Not for this.”
There was silence. Harry did not know what to say.
Harry loves Louis. Here is a list of reasons why, shortened because Harry is running out of time.
One. Louis makes Harry wish there were more hours in the day, if only it means that they can get one more word in together, or that Harry can see the way Louis smiles, the crinkles by his eyes, the way he bites his tongue a bit when he’s nervous. Before Louis were restless nights and lifeless days and gray buildings and skies and Harry breathed, yes, but it wasn’t living. After Louis is wishing on every star and staying up until 11:11 every night and throwing coins into every fountain and believing they could change the world if he wanted it enough.
Two. Harry is horrible at taking tests and even worse at paying attention and he has trouble starting conversations sometimes but loving Louis is the only thing he’s ever been good at and Harry adores being good at something but he adores Louis so much more.
Three. Louis feels in extremes; when he is happy, the town radiates in his glow. When he cries, it rains. When he is angry, it burns. There are no inbetweens. Louis always says he hates that, hates when people are gray, hates when people don’t know what they think. There is happy, there is sad. There is sun and rain. There is hate, and there is Louis.
And Harry loves him. Almost too much.
“Louis, will you be my boyfriend?”
“No, no. You’re going about this all wrong,” Louis said and sighed, balancing himself on the edge of the sidewalk. “Put more emotion behind it, Styles. I need to feel it.”
Harry nodded and looked out into the distance, nothing but streetlights over them to light the way. “Right. I have to channel my inner Shakespeare.”
“Exactly!” Louis threw his arms up to the empty sky, nothing but a vast painting of black covering the two of them. “You need to pretend you are Romeo, and you’ve just found your love Juliet dead.”
“Louis. I am asking to be your boyfriend. Hardly a life or death situation.”
Louis turned to him. His hands were on his hips and he tilted his head to the right. “Is my hand in marriage not worth your life?”
“Of course it is, baby,” Harry said. “You’re my reason for existing.” The way Harry had said it made it seem like he was joking; whether he was or not is entirely up to how someone views it.
“Right.” Louis turned to continue walking down the ledge of the sidewalk. “You don’t seem very genuine. I really need to feel it, you know?”
Harry, as a matter of fact, did not know. He bent down onto one knee. “Louis William Tomlinson.” Harry cleared his throat. Louis stopped in his tracks to look down at Harry, grin pulling at his lips. “Will you please grant me the honor of being your boyfriend?”
Louis cooled his expression into one of nonchalance, despite the obvious blush that was blooming on his cheeks. “I don’t know, Styles. Are we ready for this commitment?” Louis pursed his lips. “Like, how do I know if you just like me, or you like like me?”
This kid. Harry was one moment away from sprinting to his house and one moment away from kissing Louis until he couldn’t breathe. “Well. Louis William Tomlinson. I am proposing an offer of a relatively good American football player — ”
“I would say he’s average at best, but go on.”
“He was voted Most Valuable Player by his team three years in a row, but whatever. Anyway. This football player is proposing a formal relationship in which you, Louis, would have the title of Boyfriend.”
“Oh, dear. A big word.”
“Exactly. A huge word.” Harry grinned at himself. And at Louis, who was covering his mouth, hand concealed with Harry’s Varsity jacket. “And this huge word has huge commitments. For example, Louis would be obligated to tell this football player he loves him at least two times a day. And they would have to go on dates at least once a week, in which said football player would shower him in kisses and adoration and you, Louis, would have nothing to do but take it.”
“Oh, goodness,” Louis sighed and laid a hand over his forehead. “How will I ever be able to handle this hardship?”
Harry shrugged. “I know, it’s a big weight on your shoulders. It may be important to know that you make proposing football player very happy. He would not only love to have the title of Louis Tomlinson’s boyfriend, but he would also love to be able to hold you whenever he pleases.”
“He already does that.”
“He loves making you warm because you’re always cold. He enjoys making you laugh.”
“These are all things he does already. What makes the title boyfriend so important?”
“There is a guarantee that there will be 365 days where the football player gets to see his favorite person smile.” Harry’s heart bruised his ribs; he didn’t mind. It barely even hurt anymore. “Said football player will be able to celebrate weekly anniversaries of the relationship and hopefully yearly anniversaries. He would have you forever and ever, for better and for worse, love you until he couldn’t — ”
“These are sounding an awful lot like wedding vows.”
No, Harry thought. They don’t. Those are for a different day. “And there is also this thing where he is in love with you.” Harry looked up. Louis was smiling.
Louis bent down and kissed Harry, barely brushing their lips together, yet it still felt like a forest fire, burning down Harry’s spine. “That’s all you needed to say, love.”
“That I loved you?” Harry had whispered against Louis’s lips.
Louis grinned. “Of course.”
“I love you,” Harry said. “I love you so much.” Harry pressed their lips together, wrapping his arms around Louis’s waist to a standing position. He spun Louis around once and Louis laughed into his mouth. “I love you so fucking much.”
They were in the middle of the street, but it was two in the morning and nothing but them and the stars. These were the moments he lived for.
Louis stepped onto Harry’s shoes to meet him at eye level. He grabbed Harry’s jaw. “I love you more,” Louis whispered and they met their lips in the middle of space.
“Impossible,” Harry had muttered and Louis bit his jaw. It was true. How could anyone love anyone more than Harry loved Louis. It seemed impossible. “Nothing can come between us.”
Nothing. Impossible. Such big words for such small people. How were they so certain. Maybe, as Harry looks back on it, maybe if they just were more careful with those words, things would be different. Maybe if they realized earlier, they would not have been so stupid.
Maybe is a small word for small people. Maybe it is right for Harry and Louis. Maybe it isn’t.
But they were walking down their small town streets and the roads seemed to never end and maybe was a word that they had left behind. They were HarryandLouis and they were going to take on the world. They were going to burn it down.
And as they parted ways that night, they yelled their respective goodbyes and together, the whole world heard.
I love you, Harry Styles.
I love you, Louis Tomlinson.
Where is this love? Louis can’t see it. Louis can’t touch it. Louis can’t feel it.
This is what love looks like, Harry tells him. Nothing could go wrong.