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One second, Louis was reaching out to unlock his front door, and the next he’s been taken out at the knees, suddenly on the ground with his grocery bags flying out of his hands.  His words were lost, and he let out more of a half yell than anything when he felt a warm, wet tongue on his face.

“Ugh, what the fuck,” he exclaimed, bringing his hands up to his face to guard against the animal currently resting all its weight on him. “Get off me!”

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that his words meant nothing, as the dog that was suffocating him continued to lap at his chin, his nose, his forehead.

Using all the strength he could, Louis pushed hard at the dog’s midsection, finally dislodging it from where it sat on top of him. He expected the dog to run away in fear, but they simply stared at each other as it sat back on its haunches, tongue flopping as it panted, its tail wagging joyfully.

Sitting up, Louis placed his hands on the concrete behind him, leaning backwards with his legs still splayed out in front of him. He surveyed the scene, his grocery bags half off the stoop, a gallon of milk gurgling sadly onto the sidewalk where it had been busted open. He shook his head in frustration and looked back at the dog.

“Well hello to you, too,” he said, and the dog lifted its weight slightly off the ground, but plopped back down in excitement as its tail continued wagging, like it wanted to stand up and start licking Louis again, but was politely giving him some personal space.

He couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. Despite the major loss of some of his groceries, this dog was pretty cute. It looked like it could be part bear, with its massive amounts of dark fur and huge paws.

Louis sighed and shrugged his shoulders slightly.

“Come on then,” he said, leaning his weight on one of his arms to reach out towards the dog with the other. It immediately responded, bounding towards him with enthusiasm, and he laughed at its eagerness. Sitting right next to Louis on the step, sparing him from its full body weight this time, Louis began to scratch behind its ears, avoiding its tongue as it tried to lick his hand.

“Where did you come from,” he mused out loud, feeling for a collar underneath its fur. Louis didn’t think it could be a stray – it seemed too friendly, too groomed to be without an owner somewhere. He finally found a thick collar, completely hidden beneath all the fluff, and he ran his hand along the fabric to try and find some clues.

His fingers closed around something metal, and he pulled out a tag that read simply “Barkley”.

He snorted, “Your owner likes puns, huh?”

He turned the tag over in his hand, hoping to find an address or phone number, but was met only with smooth silver.

Shifting around to sit cross legged, Louis moved to scratch at Barkley's broad back with both his hands, and he leaned into Louis’ touch, putting more of his weight on him. As Barkley rolled over to expose his belly, Louis mumbled at him fondly.

“Who’s a good boy? Are you a good boy Barkley?”

Barkley was relishing the attention, his tongue flopping out lazily. Louis looked over his shoulder towards the road. The gate remained open, which is how Barkley must have gotten into his fenced yard. Sometimes Louis didn’t bother to close it when his hands were full, but this was the first time that such an enthusiastic intruder had taken advantage of it.

“Are you lost bubs?” Louis looked back at the dog in front of him. Barkley was seemingly comfortable with the pets he was receiving, despite them being perfect strangers. “Where’s your owner?”

Not wanting to startle Barkley for fear he might run back out of the open gate and into the road, Louis tried to crane his neck to peer down his quiet street. It was completely deserted.

“How’d you get here, boy?”

Barkley's only response was a quiet whine and a soft bat from his paw to encourage Louis to keep petting him. Giggling at his snuggly nature, Louis obliged quickly.

“Well, guess I’d better take you inside until we figure out what to do, huh?”

Slipping his fingers under Barkley's collar so he couldn’t run away, Louis guided him up the rest of the steps and towards the front door. Bending over to retrieve his keys where they had fallen, Louis unlocked the door and slipped inside with Barkley still in his grip. Once he shut it behind him, he released his hold on the dog, and Barkley trotted off happily to explore the new location, sniffing around Louis’ living room and darting into the kitchen to lick at something Louis must have spilled on the floor earlier.

“Be good Barkley,” Louis said pleadingly, hoping that this dog was house-trained as he exited quickly to pick up his discarded groceries. Jogging out towards the front of his yard one more time, Louis looked left and right down the street, hoping to see someone with a leash, someone calling Barkley's name. He still saw nothing, not a single person out and about, and he sighed as he closed up the gate and started gathering his spilled food. Ignoring the empty milk carton, he quickly made his way back inside to check on the state of things.

He couldn’t help his smile as he walked into the living room and saw Barkley already snoozing on the couch, looking more at home than most guests ever had.

After placing the grocery bags on the kitchen table, Louis crept up to the couch and sat down gently, patting Barkley quietly on the head. Barkley opened his eyes only slightly, saw it was Louis, and went right back to sleep.

“Good boy, Barkley.”

--

“Barkley, no, get down!” Louis hurried over to the front door where Niall was currently on his back, having been bowled over by Barkley and was now being greeted with copious licks to the face.

“What the hell,” Niall yelled, muffled by the fur between his mouth and the room.

“Sorry Ni, sorry,” Louis grabbed Barkley by the collar and pulled backwards, using as much strength as he could to budge Barkley's massive weight away from Niall.

Niall sat up, breathing heavily, and looked at Louis incredulously.

“This dog is a menace, Lou.”

Louis laughed, knowing that Niall didn’t mean it. In the two weeks since Barkley had turned up in his yard, Niall had come over at least five times, each visit paired with a more flimsy excuse than the last. Louis was close to questioning it all, until he caught Niall snuggled up with Barkley on the couch one evening during a movie – Niall was a goner, there was no denying it.  

“He just loves you, he can’t help it,” Louis said, as Barkley continued to pull against Louis’ hold, hoping to get closer to Niall. Louis had complained more than once about the dog’s preference when Niall was around, and Niall would laugh and snuggle Barkley closer.

“Brought you some dog treats, Barkley,” Niall said, standing up off the ground and approaching Barkley to pet him. Louis finally released him of his tight grip so that Niall could love on him, Barkley falling to the ground immediately and showing his belly, tail wagging happily.

“What are you going to do when he goes back to his owner?” Louis shook his head, heading back to the kitchen to finish preparing the cup of tea he had started before Niall knocked on the door.

Niall stopped petting Barkley and his head snapped up to Louis, “Did you find them?”

Louis stopped his walk towards the kitchen, looking back over his shoulder. The concern etched across Niall’s face revealed the conflicting emotion that Louis shared – they were both worried about finding Barkley's real family, but it was tinged with the fear that they would inevitably have to say goodbye to the friendly pup. Barkley had snuggled his way into their hearts very easily the past two weeks.

 “No,” Louis said, sighing. “I’ve posted in all the local lost dog pages online, I’ve put up fliers, I’ve checked in with the shelters every other day. Nobody seems to know where he came from.”

Louis had gone out immediately that first day to try and sort the situation, stopping into the nearest animal shelter to inquire what he should do. His intention had been to leave Barkley with them, but when he heard that they weren’t a no-kill shelter (and that the owner only had three days to claim Barkley before anyone could take him), Louis had returned home that evening with Barkley in tow - a new leash, dog food, bowls, and a few toys that Barkley had snatched off the bottom shelf at the store had also somehow wound up in his possession.

Since then, Louis had become a little too accustomed to his new routine. He got up early every morning to let a whining Barkley out into the backyard, blinking wearily at him in the early morning light by the door as he happily trotted around, sniffing at the fence and marking his territory, barking at birds that dared to fly too low. Calling Barkley back inside, they would snuggle up in Louis’ bed for a little longer before Louis had to leave for work.

(The first day leaving Barkley had been nerve-wracking, and Louis spent his entire shift at the bookstore worrying that he would come back to a disaster zone. When he got home in the early afternoon, however, he found Barkley curled up on the living room floor, rousing from his dog-nap only to happily greet Louis with his tail wagging.)

Louis’ evenings were now spent catering to this eager ball of fluff – walks around the neighborhood, rounds of fetch in the backyard, and lazy evenings spent watching movies from the couch where Barkley insisted on taking up three-quarters of it, Louis relegated to the farthest corner with Barkley’s head in his lap.

Louis knew, objectively, that he shouldn’t allow himself to get so attached to this creature in his life, but he was helpless to resist the charm of Barkley’s fluffiness and unabashed love for anyone who would snuggle him.

And somewhere deep inside of him, he almost hoped that Barkley’s owners weren’t looking for him. Maybe Louis could keep him. But when those thoughts would creep up into his conscious mind, he tried to squash them. Surely someone was out there, heartbroken that this cuddly soul wasn’t reunited with them yet. And Louis knew that he couldn’t give up looking for them, no matter how comfortable he had gotten to having Barkley around.

He just hoped, selfishly, that it wouldn’t be before he was ready.

--

Louis retrieved the ball for the third time in as many minutes. Usually Barkley was an excellent fetch partner, chasing after the things Louis threw and recovering them with no problem. Today, though, he was much more interested in sniffing around the front garden than bringing back a squeaky ball Louis kept attempting to ply him with.

Louis rolled his eyes as Barkley once again ignored his enthusiastic “Go get it!” in favor of lifting his leg on a portion of the picket fence he hadn’t yet marked.

Their playtime was usually limited to the back yard, but Louis thought a nice sit on the front porch swing while Barkley ran around showing off for the neighbors sounded nice.

It was as he was kneeling in the front bushes with his back to the street, attempting to reach the ball that had rolled almost under the porch, that he heard a loud gasp and a strangled “Barkley!” from somewhere behind him.

Louis struggled to detangle himself from the shrubbery he was currently knelt in, and by the time he turned around, there was a stranger in his yard.

Well, a stranger to him anyway.

Barkley was entangled in what appeared to be a full-bodied hug with the man, standing up on his hind legs like a human, tail wagging fiercely as he attempted to lick the face in front of him, the man sobbing loudly into Barkley's neck.

Louis felt awkward approaching the scene, as he could hear muffled statements like “I missed you so much” and “Where have you been” between still-audible crying.

“Um,” he said, clearing his throat as he kept a respectful distance from the pair.

The quiet noise seemed to startle the man into looking up, and as Barkley lowered himself onto four paws once more (and promptly trotted off to sniff around the fence again), the man approached Louis so quickly he wasn’t nearly prepared for the hug that almost knocked him down.

He heard himself let out an oof as the man, taller and much broader than Louis, enveloped him in a tight hug, swaying him gently back and forth as he whimpered quietly.

“You found him,” he heard him say into his hair, as Louis clumsily reached up to pat the man on the back in what he hoped was a soothing gesture. “Thank you so much.”

As he said this, the man held Louis back at arm’s length, and he finally got a glimpse of Barkley's rightful owner.

And shit he was gorgeous.

He had bright green eyes that were shining with a few unshed tears, and his soft looking lips were bitten red with worry, his chiseled jawline striking Louis speechless.

He seemed to have gotten himself under control, no longer outwardly sobbing, but a stray tear fell down his cheek, and Louis tracked it with his eyes. At that exact moment, something in him must have short-circuited, because there was no other excuse for why Louis mindlessly reached out to wipe it away with his thumb.

He was touching a stranger’s face.

Quickly, he yanked his hand back and awkwardly coughed into his fist, as the man released the hold on his shoulders. The stranger laughed and wiped his face with his hands, mumbling apologies behind them, as if he was the one who should be mortified right now and not Louis –the one who had just inappropriately caressed someone he didn’t know.

“Um, sorry about that,” Louis said, unsure what to do. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, a defensive gesture, still feeling awkward.

“No, no,” the man said, still wiping his face, and taking a glance around the yard at Barkley who was now happily chewing on the rubber ball, holding it between his two paws as he laid in the grass contentedly. “I’m so sorry, I barged into your yard uninvited. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw Barkley. I’ve been looking for him for weeks.”

He took a deep breath.

Louis nodded his head in understanding, unasked questions running through his head, but he patiently waited for him to continue.

“I’m Harry by the way, Harry Styles. Should have said that first.” Harry stuck out his hand, and Louis unwound his arms from in front of him to extend his hand in return.

Harry’s hand was warm and soft, and Louis felt a little thrill run through him when they touched.

“I’m Louis.”

Harry was staring at Louis with extremely intense eye contact, and Louis flushed. Dropping their hands, Louis coughed and tried to voice some of what he was thinking, things like Where did you lose him? and I tried to find you, I promise.

What came out instead was, “Do you want to come inside?”

Harry looked surprised for a second, but he quickly flashed a large, dimpled smile in Louis’ direction and nodded his head.

“I’d love to,” he said, looking over his shoulder and whistling towards Barkley with a practiced ease. Barkley immediately trotted over and stood obediently beside Harry, wagging his tail.

Louis looked down at his furry companion, impressed.

“Wish you would do that for me, bubs,” Louis said towards Barkley without thinking. He cringed a little internally, realizing belatedly that he was probably acting too familiar with Barkley. He wasn’t Louis’ dog, not anymore at least, and Harry would be taking him home soon.

Maybe that was why Louis had extended the invitation to come inside without thinking. More time with Barkley before he was gone forever.

That had to have been it.

--

It occurred to Louis sometime between his and Harry’s first and second cup of tea that this wasn’t exactly normal. People didn’t just invite strangers into their house, even if they did claim to be the dog-parents of your current furry roommate.

But something about Harry was different.

For one, Harry had accepted Louis’ invitation without second thought, and that was another thing people just didn’t do.

It seemed that Louis and Harry were both ignoring social protocol, because the past hour had been spent filling each other in on what Harry had dubbed “Barkley’s Big Adventure”, piecing together the puzzle from each other’s perspectives and quietly sipping tea in Louis’ living room.

Barkley was snoozing on the rug in front of the couch, as comfortable as ever.

“I can’t even explain how relieved I am,” Harry said quietly, looking fondly over at Barkley. Louis smiled, watching Harry with interest. “I’ve been alternating between crying over Barkley, and cursing him for being such an asshole.”

Louis surprised himself with the giggle he released at that. Harry looked at him quickly, joining him in laughter and continuing, “He just had to pull a fucking Homeward Bound, and meanwhile I’m having a heart attack every night trying to find him.”

Like he knew he was being talked about, Barkley roused from his doggy snooze and stretched dramatically in front of them. Padding up to the couch, he wedged himself between Louis and Harry, despite his body being a bit too big for the space available.

“No, no,” Harry said, hand instantly going to Barkley’s head to pat him. “Make yourself at home, get comfortable. There’s plenty of room.” Harry’s sarcastic tone made Louis smile, and he too reached out to pet the soft expanse of fur between them.

Louis looked at Harry, and quickly back down at Barkley before he spoke.

“I’m really sorry I didn’t find you earlier,” he said quietly, but he could tell Harry was watching him. “I tried, but I- yeah. I tried.”

He cut himself off lamely, unsure how to express how badly he felt for the anxiety Harry went through.

“Louis,” Harry said, causing Louis to look up into his eyes which watched him with a mix of curiosity and sympathy. “I told you, it’s okay. I’m just glad I found him.”

As Louis absentmindedly pet Barkley, his and Harry’s hands met briefly, softly bumping into each other. Both of them pulled back quickly and stumbled over apologies.

Louis felt that little thrill again, even though the graze lasted less than a second.

“I guess we should get going. Need to take this little delinquent home,” Harry said, standing and stretching in front of the couch much like Barkley had a few minutes previously. Louis quickly averted his eyes after he found himself staring, and got up to help Harry gather Barkley’s things. Noticing his human was preparing to leave, Barkley jumped off the couch and began circling Louis and Harry with excitement.

“He thinks we’re going for a walk,” Louis said fondly, freezing awkwardly when he realized he’d done it again – he was treating Barkley like he was his own. He tried to save himself, “I mean, uh-“

Louis knelt down to address Barkley and the dog panted in his face excitedly.

“You get to go home, bubs. I know you’re excited.”

Louis scratched behind Barkley’s ears and a little pang of sadness welled up inside of him.

He knew he had allowed himself to get too attached to the dog, but he hadn’t realized just how deep it went until that very moment.

“I’m gonna miss you buddy,” Louis said quietly, resting his forehead against Barkley’s, speaking to him as if Barkley could understand.

“You can come visit him anytime,” Harry said quietly, and Louis looked up to see Harry watching the pair of them fondly.

“Oh,” Louis said, standing up quickly. He felt his cheeks redden. “That’s okay, I didn’t mean to- I mean, I-”

Louis stumbled over his words, but Harry cut him off.

“Louis, I can’t thank you enough for taking care of him. A lot of people would have just left him at a shelter, or worse just left him on the road.”

Louis didn’t know that he could redden any deeper at that moment, so he bent down to the basket next to the door and collected the few items in it, holding them in his arms towards Harry as he straightened up.

“It was really my pleasure. He’s a sweet dog.”

Offering Harry the few toys he had bought for Barkley, he said gently, “He seems to like these, you should take them.”

Louis didn’t want Harry to think he was overstepping, but Barkley had really grown attached to the rope and chew toys Louis bought for him. Harry smiled deeply, dimples popping out.

“Are you sure,” he asked hesitantly, although he was already reaching out for the items in Louis’ arms.

“Absolutely,” Louis said, trying not to focus on the tingle he felt where Harry’s hands grazed his skin as the toys were passed off. “I don’t need them.”

Louis trailed off uneasily, realizing this was goodbye for him and his furry friend.

He pushed down the thoughts threatening to bubble up that reminded him this was it for him and Harry as well.

There is no ‘it’, you just met him Louis scolded himself internally.

Zoning out for that split second, he missed when Harry went in once again for a large hug, bringing his arms around him belatedly and patting his back.

“Thank you so much,” Harry said from his position wrapped around Louis, Barkley’s toys digging into Louis’ back where Harry still held onto them. “I can’t even tell you how grateful I am.”

“It’s no problem,” Louis said, giving up on patting Harry and wrapping his arms around him firmly instead. Along with accepting invitations for tea, Harry apparently also hugged strangers tightly whenever possible.

Pulling back from the hug, Harry gave Louis a look he couldn’t decipher, seeming to be on the verge of saying something else. Instead of speaking, though, he nodded his head once and whistled quietly again for Barkley, who happily trotted to the front door alongside him. Leaning down to hook a leash onto his collar, Harry turned around once more to face Louis.

“It was really nice to meet you Louis,” he said, hand on the doorknob about to exit. “If we’re ever in the neighborhood on a walk, maybe we’ll see you again.”

Louis’ heart fell a little bit. He wanted to see both of them again, and was disappointed that the opportunity might never arise.

Instead of expressing this, though, he smiled and said, “Yeah, definitely. That would be great.”

Harry once again looked like he was debating on whether or not to speak, but ended up flashing Louis a bright smile and pulling the door open quickly to guide Barkley outside. Louis followed them out onto the porch, watching as they walked down the path to the picket fence and towards the road.

Harry looked back one last time and waved before walking Barkley quickly around the corner where Louis could no longer see them. He spent a few minutes standing there as dusk fell, the sounds of his neighborhood surrounding him – some kids riding bikes down the street, someone mowing their lawn a few houses down.

But Louis missed the sounds he had gotten too comfortable with over the past few weeks. A noisy, slobbery dog panting and barking around the yard as Louis happily watched on.

Eventually, he sighed deeply and went back inside, shutting the door behind him and trying not to notice how empty his house felt now.

--

It took three days for the knock on the door to come.

Louis was enjoying a rare weekend off from the bookstore, and had decided to spend all day on the couch doing nothing but watching Netflix. Outside, it was dreary and pouring rain, and Louis refused to leave his house for any reason in this weather.

The unexpected knock annoyed him, and he wondered briefly about just ignoring it before he lumbered up off the couch and blearily opened the door. Despite it being almost noon, he was still in pajama bottoms and a loose t-shirt, and he sleepily ran a hand through his hair.

When he saw who was on the other side, his eyebrows shot up his forehead as he took in the sight in front of him: Harry Styles was at his door, soaking wet and holding a sopping Barkley in his arms like he weighed nothing.

“Um, hi,” Harry said, sounding guilty for showing up at Louis’ door drenched in rainwater.

“Hi,” Louis said quietly, a question in his tone of voice. He hesitated as he waited for Harry to say more, but when he was met with only silence he offered, “Do you want to put him down?”

Louis didn’t know what Barkley weighed, but there was no way he could have picked him up like that - Harry was cradling him in his arms like he wasn’t more than half his size.

“Oh, yeah,” Harry said, looking down at Barkley like he had forgotten he was there. Barkley, to his credit, was panting and dripping water on the welcome mat like nothing was amiss. His tail had picked up speed once he saw Louis open the door, and Louis’ heart gave a little lurch at the sight of him. He resisted reaching out to pet him for now, though. “I just didn’t want him to tackle you when he’s soaking wet. Hopefully now that he’s seen you, he won’t.”

Harry asked the question silently to Louis by starting to lower Barkley and raising his eyebrows, Louis nodded and opened the door further to let them both in.

As soon as Barkley’s paws touched the ground, he catapulted himself into Louis and knocked him flat on his back, his dripping fur soaking into every inch of Louis’ clothes, and his slobbery tongue coating Louis’ face in greeting.

“Barkley, no!”

Louis could feel Harry trying to pull Barkley’s weight off of him, but he couldn’t see him through the mounds of dark fur obscuring his vision. He let out a half laugh, half huff at Barkley’s greeting and tried to assist Harry in his removal by pushing on him as hard as he could.

Barkley was not easily swayed, though, and continued trying to lick at Louis’ face even as Harry pulled him once more off the ground like he weighed nothing.

Louis sat up and giggled as Harry wrestled with Barkley to allow Louis some space to breathe.

“He’s fine,” he managed to snort out, and held an arm out to Barkley in the same gesture he offered the first time they met.

“Are you sure?” Harry sounded skeptical, both he and Barkley dripping on the hardwood floor beneath them.

“Yeah, it’s just a little rain.”

At Louis’ insistence, Harry let go of Barkley’s collar and he bounded up to Louis excitedly. Since Louis was already sitting on the ground, Barkley didn’t go for the tackle – this time he cuddled up close to him so Louis could offer him some pets.

“What a good boy,” Louis cooed at Barkley, talking to him in a mumbled, fond tone. “I missed you so much.”

When Louis glanced up, Harry was staring down at the pair of them with a huge smile on his face, dimples out in full force.

Louis smiled back, “So, hi.”

It seemed to shake Harry out of his reverie to hear Louis speak to him instead of Barkley, and he shook his head a bit, but continued to grin at them as he said, “Hi. I’m sorry for intruding. Didn’t know if you would be home actually.”

“You’re in luck,” Louis said, absently petting Barkley where he laid down next to Louis, belly up. “I’m off all weekend, for once.”

“Oh yeah?” Harry stuck his hands in the pockets of his soaked jeans, bouncing on the balls of his feet like he was unsure what to do with himself. Louis just nodded, hoping that Harry would continue. “Well Barkley has been incredibly depressed these past few days.”

Louis frowned and looked down at the dog beside him, eyes closed in relaxation, tongue lolling out of his mouth.

“Has he?”

“Yep,” Harry said, nodding his head emphatically. “When I took him home the other night, he wandered around the house for hours, whimpering. I think he was looking for you.”

Louis pouted a little, and rubbed Barkley more firmly.

“Aw bubs, you’re okay.”

Barkley seemed to appreciate the gesture, but was no more or less happy that Louis could see. He looked up at Harry, who was biting his lip nervously.

“So I was hoping, uh, I mean-” Harry toed the ground cautiously, no longer looking Louis in the eye. “I know it’s presumptuous, but I thought maybe Barkley and I could, like, hang out a little? Just so he’s not so depressed today. Uh, I mean, if that’s okay?”

Every sentence seemed to end in a question, and Louis was endlessly endeared.

He smiled reassuringly at Harry and nodded his head as he said, “Yes, of course. I would love that.”

He said the last part quietly, mostly directed at Barkley, but he could tell Harry was preening at the statement.

“Okay awesome,” Harry said, going to move farther into the living but stopping himself quickly. “Um, do you have a towel or something…”

Harry trailed off, and Louis started to extricate himself from Barkley’s snuggles on the floor.

“Oh yeah, actually, here,” Louis got to his feet once more and started to make his way to his bedroom. “Let me get you some dry clothes. We can throw ours in the dryer while we hang out.”

Before Harry could protest, Louis was gathering together a loose pair of sweatpants and a big t-shirt for Harry. He regretted that Harry would no longer be wearing skin tight jeans and a form fitting shirt, but he figured it would be better than forcing him to stay cold and wet all afternoon.

Harry looked hesitant as Louis came back into the living room and tried to hand over the fresh clothes.

“Are you sure? I feel like I’m intruding extra hard now.”

Louis laughed and shook the clothes a little in his extended hands, encouraging Harry to grab them.

“It’s really okay, as long as you don’t mind old t-shirts.”

Harry finally grabbed the clothes from Louis, looking intensely at him.

“Thank you so much, that’s really nice of you.”

Louis blushed, and shrugged the compliment off.

“Not a big deal.”

Harry smiled at him shyly and made his way to the bathroom to change.

Once they were both in dry clothes, and Barkley had been toweled off as well as they could manage, they plopped down on the sofa together with Barkley snuggled between them. The dryer turned in the background, but otherwise it was silent in the house. Louis realized suddenly he wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do together.

“So,” he started, right as Harry began to speak.

“What do-“ Harry cut himself off as he noticed Louis’ attempt, and they both chuckled.

“Go ahead,” Louis said, starting to pet Barkley between them, who was already starting to snooze. For a depressed dog, he seemed pretty content at the moment.

“I was just going to ask what you do, you said you don’t usually have weekends off?”

Louis began to tell Harry about the bookstore he owned downtown, how he was usually willing to work whatever shifts, and that meant most Saturdays and Sundays. This weekend, though, he had noticed he was fully staffed, and after Niall reminded him he hadn’t taken a weekend off in months, he decided to take advantage of it.

Harry listened intently, asking questions in the right spots, keeping the conversation flowing easily.

Eventually their talk turned to Harry, and Louis learned that he was a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school in town.  

Louis watched as Harry lit up talking about the little kids he taught, about being able to help them learn their letters, and Harry seemed to glow with pride.

It wasn’t until Barkley started whining to go outside that either of them noticed the time – they had spent about three hours chatting with each other. Sometime in the middle of it, Barkley had gotten off the couch and left them to themselves, both of them facing each other, bodies angled inwards. Louis hadn’t even been aware that Barkley wasn’t hanging out with them anymore, but he didn’t seem to mind. Louis figured he had been snoozing the hours away on the floor, unaware that both Louis and Harry weren’t paying him attention.

Now, though, he whined and pawed loudly at the front door.

Louis and Harry both went to get up, but Harry stopped him.

“I’ve got it, sorry about that,” he said, getting up and stretching before leaning over the pet Barkley on the head. “I guess we should actually get going. Didn’t realize it was so late in the afternoon.”

Louis got up from the couch as well, disappointed that their time was coming to a close but trying not to show it.

“Uh, yeah,” he said, scratching the back of his neck. “I didn’t realize either. Hope I wasn’t keeping you from anything.”

“No,” Harry said quickly. “If anything, I probably ruined your plans you had for your time off.”

“Honestly, my only plan was the couch and Netflix, so this was-” Louis trailed off, and looked at the ground. Quietly he added, “This was great.”

Glancing up at a beaming Harry, Barkley whined again and pulled them both out of whatever was happening.

“Well, like I said, Barkley missed you.”

Louis’ stomach sank a little. Right, he reminded himself, he’s here for his dog. Not for you.

Despite that, he couldn’t help himself from blurting out, “Would you want to come over tomorrow?”

Harry raised his eyebrows, and Louis hoped desperately he wasn’t being too forward. The hours of them chatting had just slipped by so easily, so comfortably. He was venturing dangerously close to crush territory when it came to Harry Styles, and he could tell himself all day that he just wanted to visit with Barkley, but… he knew that wasn’t the whole truth.

“Are you sure?”

Harry looked cautiously hopeful, smiling at Louis as he slowly hooked Barkley’s leash onto his collar.

“Yeah,” Louis said, trying to remain as casual as possible. “Might as well. Wouldn’t want Barkley to get sad again.”

Harry furrowed his brow slightly, but schooled it into something more neutral extremely quickly.

“Right, yeah,” he said, turning towards the door to unlock it. “Um, is around noon alright?”

Louis agreed, and they both offered see you laters and have a good nights, and then Harry was off with Barkley once again.

Once the door was shut, Louis turned around and leaned against it, head back with his eyes closed. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, still leaning against the door, that Louis realized Harry had left in his clothes. Harry’s own were still in his dryer.

Sighing and ambling his way to the kitchen to make some food, Louis thought about hanging out with Harry and Barkley again the next day. Butterflies welled up in his stomach.  

Maybe it was wrong to use a depressed dog as an excuse to see Harry, but Louis hoped that Barkley would understand.

He would probably understand.

He was a pretty understanding dog.

--

Louis regretted suggesting a movie within two minutes of it playing. Harry and Barkley had come over around noon, and they had spent the first hour or so playing around the yard, throwing him things to fetch, chasing him around as he happily ran between the two of them. They had come inside to cool off and eat some lunch when Louis thought about lounging around on the couch.

It had seemed like such a good idea.

But now, he was trying so hard to appear relaxed and unbothered while he and Harry lounged with Barkley between them. Something about their body language had changed since yesterday. They were angled in towards each other, and Louis could feel heat between their arms as Harry leaned against Barkley, his forearm occasionally nudging Louis’.

Every so often, one of them would pet Barkley and accidentally graze the other with soft touches. After the first few times, they stopped apologizing, and Louis was going out of his mind wondering if Harry’s touches were intentional. His own certainly were.

They had picked a romantic comedy that Louis had seen hundreds of times before, and he was glad for it because he couldn’t have even tried to explain what was going on at the moment. He was too aware of Harry’s body, Harry’s breathing, the way his own would pick up when Harry’s hands grazed him gently. 

They had both gotten very quiet as the movie went on too, no longer commenting on the actors or the plot, no longer even offering halfhearted chuckles at the cheesiness of it. Both of them seemed to be hyper focused on the screen without really reacting to what was happening.

Louis tried hard not to inhale too loudly when he felt Harry’s pinky resting on his. He didn’t immediately remove it either, Louis noticed, and at least ten second went by before Harry causally started petting Barkley again, dislodging his hand from where it had touched Louis’.

That had to have been intentional, right? Louis’ brain was a mess of what ifs and not possibles, and when the movie finally ended, he wasn’t sure what to do.

It seemed Harry was in the same boat, because even after Louis reached over to pause the movie’s credits, neither of them said anything. A few long, silent seconds went by before they both tried to speak at once.

“So,” Louis began, as Harry muttered something he couldn’t quite hear.

They both chuckled, the awkward silence having been broken, and Harry encouraged him to speak first.

“Yeah, so um,” Louis started, realizing too late he hadn’t actually known what he was going to say. His brain was whirling with the heavy implications that he felt between the two of them – if Barkley wasn’t between them, they would have been practically snuggling on the couch together. But he was too scared to say anything of the sort, too afraid that Harry really was here just for Barkley, too worried he had misinterpreted all Harry’s small, minute touches.

“You have work tomorrow?” Louis cringed internally at how lame he sounded, asking about work, but it was the only thing that came to his mind that wasn’t going to implicate him.

Harry cleared his throat, “Uh, no actually.”

Louis couldn’t help but stare when Harry spoke, although he tried to keep his focus on his eyes instead of his lips. His gaze continued to be drawn there despite his best efforts.

“Spring break,” Harry offered casually, by way of explanation.

A light went off in Louis’ head.

“Oh,” he exclaimed, speaking before his brain could catch up fully. “Well I wasn’t sure what your plans were for the evening, but you’re welcome to stick around. Maybe have some drinks with me.”

Louis trailed off and looked down at the couch as he started picking at a loose thread in the cushion. He couldn’t meet Harry’s eyes, and he hoped his cheeks weren’t as red as they felt, but he was sure Harry could sense his hesitation. What was it about Harry that made Louis so forward?

“Um,” Harry started, and Louis flushed.

“You definitely don’t have to,” Louis started, interrupting Harry as a flash of self-preservation tinted his humiliation. “You probably have plans, sorry.”

“No, no,” Harry said quickly, forcefully. Louis was startled into looking up at him, where Harry watched him curiously. “That sounds, uh, that sounds great.”

Harry’s voice got quieter as he spoke, almost a whisper at the end of his sentence, and Louis immediately got up from the couch in order to prevent himself from doing anything else embarrassing, like leaning over and kissing the unsure expression off his face.

“Great, I’ll make us some drinks,” Louis said, heading to the kitchen without looking back. “Is whisky okay?”

He heard Harry call out to him from the living room, “Yeah, definitely. Nothing too strong, though. Don’t want to get too drunk.”

Louis chuckled and agreed, “No, absolutely. Just a little one, I promise.”

--

They had both, apparently, been lying.

“Just a little one” had turned into two big ones, which had turned into three more shots, and some loud drinking games between the two of them. They were sat at Louis’ kitchen table, slurring their words and giggling frequently at nothing in particular. The only breaks in their drinking came when Barkley would whine to go out for a bit, and Louis would take those opportunities to gather his thoughts, take some deep breaths. It was getting harder to be around Harry and not touch him, especially now that his defenses were drunkenly down.

Harry was coming back inside with Barkley, and Louis couldn’t help but stare – his shirt rode up slightly on his hips, hints of his tattoos peeking out. Louis couldn’t tell what they were, some sort of plant, but he desperately wanted to see them, touch them, kiss them.

It wasn’t until Harry waved at him and called his name curiously that he snapped out of it.

“Sorry,” he said, giggling again despite himself. “I’m drunk.”

Harry flashed him a smile, his eyes a little red and watery, and hiccupped without warning. He clapped his hand over his mouth, snorting into it as Louis cracked up at him.

“Guess I am too,” he said behind his hand, and Louis rolled his eyes and sat back down at the kitchen table.

“Want another one?”

He knew that neither of them were in the position to keep drinking, but he desperately didn’t want Harry to leave. 

“I don’t know,” Harry said hesitantly, and when Louis looked up at him he was swaying a little in place. “I think I should probably get going.”

Harry went to gather his things, but ended up stumbling over the rug, catching himself on the arm of the couch before he toppled over. Louis stood up in a panic, attempting to help him before he hurt himself, but Harry stood up straight and began giggling before he could do so.

“Oops,” he said, turning to face Louis as he offered him a little shrug. “Maybe walking home isn’t the best idea right now.”

The combination of alcohol and Harry’s presence made for a dangerous combination, and before he could even think about it, Louis was blurting, “You could stay over. There’s a guest room.”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up so quickly, Louis almost laughed. Instead, he busied himself with clearing the shot glasses off the table, wanting to avoid eye contact if Harry turned him down. Which he should. Louis shouldn’t have even offered, he barely knew Harry. If Harry was at all a rational person, he would tell Louis no.

“That would be great, thank you.”

Louis quickly looked at Harry, who was smiling once again in Louis’ direction. 

“Oh,” Louis said, taken aback. “Yeah, okay. Let me get it ready for you.”

Louis spent the next few minutes clearing up the kitchen and stumbling into the guest room, flipping on the lights and making sure the bed was ready for guests. He flitted around as Harry came in with Barkley, making it obvious he was ready to pass out. Louis tidied up some things that were on the dresser, brought some fresh towels in, and even changed the pillow cases for no good reason. At this point he was really reaching to try and spend some more time with Harry.

It was only when Harry fell backwards on the bed and dramatically closed his eyes, his body starfished out and sighing loudly, that Louis figured he needed to leave him alone.

“Alright, well, get some sleep,” Louis said, heading towards the hallway and going to pull the door shut.

“Hey Lou,” Harry said, holding his head up despite his obvious exhaustion. Louis leaned back into the room to listen as Harry smiled at him and said a quiet, “Thanks.”

Louis nodded once, and went to leave, figuring he could at least pass out quickly and not think too much about Harry staying a room away from him. He had gotten only a few steps away when he heard Barkley start to whine. Although he couldn’t make out the words, he also heard Harry muttering soothingly to the dog, probably encouraging him to just lay down.

Louis then heard pawing at the door, which turned to an insistent scratching, which turned into loud barking relatively quickly.

Louis hurried back to the room and opened the door, figuring that Barkley needed to be let out, knowing that Harry was probably too tired to move. He was going to offer up himself to do it, but as soon as the door was open and Barkley got a glimpse of him, he stopped whining and hopped up onto the bed next to Harry.

Harry was half asleep already, but patted Barkley on the head gently and muttered a Sorry to Louis for the commotion.

Louis chuckled.

“It’s okay,” he said quietly, and went to leave the room again.

At the first sign of Louis’ departure, Barkley stood up on the bed and barked twice, loudly, in his direction.

“What?” Louis said automatically, hoping to placate the dog with some attention. Walking over to the bed, he scratched behind both his ears, holding his large head between his hands and addressing him directly. “What’s wrong, bubs?”

With Louis’ attention on him, Barkley once more settled down, nuzzling Louis’ hands once before turning around in a circle and settling in the middle of the bed.

Louis heard Harry give a quiet chuckle.

“What’s he upset about?” Louis asked, wondering if Harry was more in tune with Barkley’s nighttime rituals than he was.

“No idea,” Harry said, raising a hand halfheartedly, as if he wanted to have a conversation, but his eyes were mostly closed at this point. “He’ll be fine.”

Taking that as a dismissal, Louis once again went to leave, but before he could reach the door he heard Barkley jumping off the bed behind him. The giant dog accosted Louis before he could get through, nudging Louis’ legs with all his weight and making him stumble, and Louis had to grab the doorframe to steady himself.

“What the heck, Barkley?” Louis was mostly talking to himself, aware that Barkley couldn’t actually understand him, but he had never witnessed the dog acting so oddly.

He turned around when he heard a quiet murmur coming from the bed.

“What?” He hadn’t been able to make out what Harry said, but at Louis’ question he sat up in bed, hair already wild from the pillow, eyes heavy, and Louis’ stomach gave a little flip.

“He wants you to stay.”

He said it so casually, so firmly, that Louis was rendered speechless. He thought maybe there would be more to that statement He wants you to stay, but you don’t have to or he wants you to stay, but just ignore him. Instead, Harry flopped back down onto the bed, snuggling into his pillow more, still fully dressed and looking so soft that Louis was tempted to hop right into bed with him.

Instead, he stood staring at Harry’s half-asleep form, hand still on the doorframe, Barkley staring up at him expectantly.

“Umm,” was all he managed to squeak out before Harry was raising an arm again, making a gesture that clearly meant come here.

“Just do it,” he said, his voice half muffled by the pillow, “or he won’t shut up.”

Louis looked at Barkley like he was going to help him, like the dog would give him some answer he couldn’t figure out right then. Rather than soothe Louis’ internal dilemma, Barkley started wagging his tail apropos of nothing, and turned right around to hop back onto the bed. Settling down next to Harry, but leaving room on his other side for Louis, the fluffy dog stared directly at Louis until he started to make a move towards the empty side of the bed.

Satisfied that Louis wasn’t going to try and exit the room again, Barkley closed his eyes and snuggled close to Harry, a gesture that clearly meant he was satisfied with the way things were turning out.

Louis was totally being hustled by a dog.

A million thoughts were going through his mind – he should change his clothes, he shouldn’t stay in here, he should snuggle under the covers right now and lay a gentle hand on Harry’s side – but he didn’t let any of them take root. Instead, he mindlessly flipped off the bedside lamp, plunging the room into almost total darkness. He figured if Harry was going to sleep in his clothes, he could too, and he flopped down on top of the comforter, feeling Barkley’s warmth radiating off of him between himself and Harry.

Laying on his back, staring up at the dark ceiling, some of those thoughts he didn’t want creeping into his brain were starting to take over his consciousness. He could hear Harry’s rhythmic breathing, could feel Barkley’s body moving with his panting, but Louis felt paralyzed.

This wasn’t a big deal. He kept repeating that over and over in his head, hoping it would sink in. He and Harry weren’t even touching, Harry was probably already passed out, and the only reason Harry had invited him to sleep in here was to calm Barkley down.

At the thought of the dog beside him, Louis reached out with his right arm and rested it on Barkley’s warm body, feeling calmer at the sensation of his soft fur underneath his hand.

Just when he was starting to gain control of his own breathing, as he was starting to calm down, he heard Harry shuffle closer to Barkley, bringing an arm up and over the dog’s body to rest a warm hand on top of Louis’ arm.

Louis froze. He held his breath, wondering if Harry would move his hand, figuring it would happen in the next five seconds.

Okay, the next ten seconds.

But then ten, twenty, thirty seconds passed, and Harry’s hand remained steadfastly on top of Louis’ arm, warm and soft, and sending little electric tingles through Louis’ body.

Louis swallowed, the sound seeming to echo in the quiet room, and he didn’t dare move his body.

He was torn between not wanting Harry to stop touching him and wondering if Harry even knew what he was doing.

He quietly whispered “Harry” into the darkness of the room, but there was no response, just the continued rhythmic breathing next to him. Louis sighed, and whether it was the alcohol still buzzing through him, or the darkness of the room, or the feel of Harry’s hand on him, he felt the fight leave his body.

Removing his right arm carefully from underneath Harry’s, he turned so his body was facing Barkley, curled up on his side to match Harry’s position. And without giving it too much thought, he softly pet Barkley’s side just once before caressing Harry’s arm gently with his own hand, resting his left arm on top of Harry’s in a gesture that mimicked Harry’s own a moment before. 

Harry didn’t stir, and Louis began to relax a little more, the exhaustion and alcohol in his body finally taking over. He allowed the warmth from both Barkley and Harry’s arm to comfort him, and it eventually lulled him into a deep sleep.

--

What woke him up was a whine from Barkley, loud in the early morning, and Louis tried to shake himself out of his exhausted haze, but was struggling. He felt drowsy and comfortable, and instead of trying to rouse himself from sleep, he snuggled in closer to Barkley’s warmth, expecting to be met with soft fur.

What he found instead was a firm chest, and as he slowly came around, sleep melting away from him, he realized that Barkley was no longer between him and Harry. Barkley was no longer even on the bed, whining gently from the foot of it as Louis and Harry laid tangled together on top of the comforter, still fully clothed, their limbs intertwined as they held tightly to each other.

Louis’ stomach lurched a little, both from the surprise of being snuggled close to Harry, and the desire to keep himself there – maybe if he didn’t jostle around too much, Harry wouldn’t wake up and he could continue being wrapped up in his warm embrace.

Unfortunately, Barkley decided that was the perfect time to let out a loud bark, startling Harry as he jerked awake and pulled back from Louis slightly.

Louis winced, both from the sound and the loss of contact between them, and rubbed at his face to try and avoid making eye contact. Slowly, he disentangled his legs from Harry’s, still not saying anything, and swung them around to sit on the side of the bed. He was surprised when he heard Harry chuckle, and looked back over his shoulder to see Harry fixing Barkley with an amused look.

“You little sneak,” he murmured, and Louis wondered if he was even supposed to hear it. Despite the awkwardness he was feeling, Louis smiled at the interaction.

“Um,” Louis cleared his throat, and Harry looked up at him. His smile grew even wider as they locked eyes.

“Good morning,” Harry said, sounding unaffected, like they hadn’t just woken up in each other’s arms.

“Morning,” Louis said, his voice sounding scratchy, suddenly feeling incredibly bashful. “Do you want some breakfast?”

Louis quickly got up out of bed, desperate for an excuse to leave the room, and refused to look back at Harry as he exited quickly. He knew he was being cowardly, but he thought that he might give away too much if he stuck around.

“That’s okay,” he heard Harry call, and his heart fell a little. “I should probably get out of your way.”

Louis was going to protest, was going to insist that Harry and Barkley stick around for the rest of the day, but he stopped himself. He was pushing too hard, and he worried that Harry wouldn’t want to come around at all if he made it too obvious that his interest in seeing them had much less to do with Barkley than it did when they first met.

 He stayed out of Harry’s way as he gathered up his things, got Barkley ready to go, and by the time they were both back in the living room, Louis still hadn’t said another word to him. He didn’t know what to say – “Sorry for snuggling you all night”? “Sorry I’ve been using your dog as an excuse to hang out, but I’m actually really interested in seeing you outside of the context of this arrangement?” Everything that went through Louis’ head fell flat, and before he knew it Harry was calling a hasty goodbye and pulling Barkley out the door.

Once they were gone, Louis sighed and looked around. The cards from their drinking game were still spread around the kitchen table, their glasses empty along with the bottle where Louis had left them after his halfhearted attempt to clean up last night. He collapsed into a kitchen chair and put his head on his arms, breathing deeply.

He felt a pit in his stomach, unsure at what to do with these feelings for Harry, and hoping desperately that he hadn’t messed everything up.

--

The next night, after a long shift at the bookstore, Louis was unwinding on the couch with a beer and some trashy television. Freshly showered, he lounged around in an oversized hoodie and soft joggers, scrolling aimlessly through his phone as bored housewives droned on in the background. He wasn’t really paying attention. In fact, he was mostly trying to keep his mind off of Harry, wondering where he was on his first day of break, wondering what he was doing.

A loud knock on the door startled him, and he could do nothing to stop the immediate hope that bubbled up that Harry would be on the other side. He rolled his eyes at himself as he stood. It was stupid to think that Harry would show up the day after… whatever that was. He hadn’t heard from him, and he didn’t expect to. It was probably Niall, who had been coming over a lot less in the week since Barkley had been returned to his rightful owner.

Muting the TV and shuffling over to the door, he swung it open without a second thought, and his mouth dropped open when he took in Harry, standing quietly in front of him.

He was stunning.

Louis couldn’t even help the once over he gave him, his eyes trailing up his skintight black jeans, up to his sheer, floral button up that was undone obscenely low. His hair was styled artfully, and he was biting his lip nervously as Louis met his gaze. Louis’ eyes were drawn back down once more when he realized that Harry was holding a bouquet of flowers in his hands.

“Hi,” Harry said quietly, smiling at Louis shyly.

“Hi,” Louis mimicked, barely audible in his shock. He blurted the first thing that came to mind.

“Where’s Barkley?”

Harry’s smile faltered a bit, and Louis desperately wanted it to return. He must have said the wrong thing.

“He’s uh, he’s with a friend,” Harry said, sounding much more unsure of himself now. Louis nodded in a gesture of understanding, although he truthfully had no idea what was going on. “Could I come in?”

Louis startled, realizing he had been staring at Harry without speaking, and ushered him into the house quickly.  

Once inside the living room, Harry anxiously offered up the flowers, extending them to Louis slowly.

“These are for you,” he said, and Louis reached out automatically.

“They’re beautiful.”

Harry blushed at that, but without the flowers in his hands anymore, he nervously shoved his balled up fists into his tight pockets, bouncing a little on the balls of his feet. Louis busied himself with finding a vase, and set the flowers on the windowsill as Harry continued to fidget nervously.

“So,” Louis started just as Harry let out a loud ‘Um’.

They both looked down and laughed.

“We have a tendency to do that,” Harry said, smiling again.

“Yeah,” Louis agreed. “You go ahead.”

“I just, um,” Harry stumbled over his words terribly. “I was just wondering-”

He took a deep breath, and Louis was frozen in place, unable to say or do anything.

“Well see,” Harry started over again, and Louis’ heart gave a lurch. Whatever was going to be said, Louis wished Harry would just come out with it quickly. “I, um-”

Louis nodded his head, trying to silently encourage Harry to continue.

“Barkley didn’t actually miss you.”

Louis wasn’t sure what he thought Harry was going to say, but it definitely wasn’t that. He could feel his face screw up into an expression of confusion, and Harry flushed.

“Shit, no, that came out wrong,” he hurried, taking his hands out of his pockets and holding them up in a placating gesture. “I mean, of course Barkley missed you.”

“Okay,” Louis said slowly, drawing out the syllables into long vowels.

“I might have, sort of, maybe embellished the truth a little bit.”

Louis was watching Harry as he struggled to speak, and even in such a state of anxiety, Harry was beautiful. Louis watched his mouth form the slow words, and unconsciously licked his lips as he tried to focus on what Harry was saying.  

“I wanted an excuse to see you again.”

As soon as the words were out of Harry’s mouth, he looked up from where he had been staring at his feet and met Louis’ eyes with a hopeful expression. Louis felt a smile overtake his face before he even had a chance to fully register the words, but Harry’s answering laugh and beaming face was well worth it.

“Yeah?” Louis asked tentatively, moving a little closer to Harry where he stood.

Harry nodded his head emphatically.

“I felt really lame using my dog as a wingman,” he laughed as he said this, and Louis’ smile grew. Butterflies were fluttering around his stomach, and he almost couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “But I was wondering if you would maybe want to go on a date with me, like, a real one?”

Despite Harry’s smile, he still looked a little unsure, which was unacceptable. Louis approached him slowly, and reached out to put a hand on his hip. Harry took a sharp breath in at the contact, but reached out to gently touch Louis’ arm as he met Louis’ eyes.

“I would love to,” Louis said. He looked down at his lounge clothes and back up at Harry before saying, “Right now I’m nowhere near as put together as you though, might need some time to get ready.”

Harry furrowed his brow and shook his head. With his other hand, he reached up to cup Louis’ face, rubbing his cheekbone softly with his thumb. In barely a whisper he said, “You’re gorgeous.”

Before Louis even had time to blush, Harry leaned down and connected their lips together softly. Louis’ hand on Harry’s hip tightened instinctively, and Harry took the cue to deepen the kiss, pulling Louis’ body flush with his own.

After a few blissful minutes, their kisses slowed down to something soft, something gentler, and they pulled back to smile at each other.

“I hope Barkley doesn’t find out I used him like that,” Harry said, a laugh in his voice. Louis giggled and hugged Harry tighter, burying his face in his neck and inhaling the scent of him.

“Oh I don’t think he’ll mind,” he said, kissing Harry’s neck softly, hearing him sigh and tighten his grip on Louis. Pulling back, Louis looked him in the eyes and smiled.

“Honestly, I think this was his plan all along.”