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What we do in the dark

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Louis was about to hit save on his essay when everything went black.

“What the fuck?”

The screen was black. The room in darkness. Everything was just--

“No,” he said, his heart already starting to race. “No no no.”

He couldn’t think when he’d last saved the essay, but he hoped it hadn’t been too long, that he wouldn’t have lost too much. He’d been on a roll, so he didn’t think he’d been saving, but autosave was a thing, that probably had it covered, maybe, he hoped.

But he actually had bigger concerns. Because it was dark. Really fucking pitch dark. The rain was hammering on the window and he could hear the wind howling - the storm had been worsening all day. And he was alone. He didn’t know where Harry was, but he wasn’t there, that was the main thing. And he didn’t know where his phone was either, but he was one hundred percent sure it was out of charge. Because he was an idiot.

He rolled his chair back from the desk and swung round to standing. Was there a protocol or something for a power cut? Maybe he was meant to check that it wasn’t just his room, he hadn’t blown a fuse. He headed for the door, banging his knee on the pile of Harry’s boxes he’d been telling him to shift for months now. He opened the door a crack and everything was black. Or not quite black. There was some sort of weak flickery emergency lighting, but that was all. Shit. Another student - a tall, beefy guy Louis only knew by sight - was peering out of his door too.

“Power’s out,” he said.

Louis nodded. “Yeah.”

“Early night then,” the other guy said, closing his door.

Louis shut his own door and thought about locking it, but what if Harry came back? But what if he left it unlocked and there was… looting? Or rioting or something? He knew he was being dramatic, but it was definitely too dark to leave his door unlocked. He flicked the latch across and headed back across the room in what he was fairly confident was the direction of the bed.

If anyone - if Harry, who was the kind of person to ask just this kind of thing - had asked Louis if he’d know the layout of their room, if he could navigate it with his eyes closed, Louis would have said of course he fucking could. But he couldn’t. He tripped over a pair of trainers, smacked his knee again on something - he didn’t even know what - and then on the corner of his bed. That one really fucking hurt. He lay down, curling into a foetal position and cradling his knee, and pulled the covers up over himself. Which was when he realised he was actually in Harry’s bed. Shit. But he wasn’t going to get out. Harry wasn’t there and everything was black and Louis’s knee hurt and god only knew what man traps there might have been between Harry’s bed and his. Neither of them was particularly tidy.

Trying to navigate the room and then the throbbing in his knee had distracted Louis a little, but now he was lying still and silent - in Harry’s bed - and the power was out and he was alone and his heart was racing and—

Deep breaths. That’s what his mum had always said. She’d come into his room, sit on the edge of his bed, rub his back and say “Just breathe. It’s okay. Everything’s okay. Just breathe.” And he tried. One two three in. One two three out. But his breath was fast and juddery and he was starting to tremble. But it was okay. The building was full of people. He wasn’t alone. They were all in the same situation. He was alone in his room but not in his life. Harry wasn’t there, but he’d be back. Later. After, probably. So he was okay. It was okay.

His throat felt tight and his eyes were starting to prickle with tears. Which was ridiculous. He was an adult. He shouldn’t feel like this. There was no need to be scared of the dark. But he was. He was.

He pressed his face into Harry’s pillow. Like the duvet, it smelled just like him: the stupidly expensive grassy, coconutty cologne he always wore. Louis breathed it in. That was another thing he was meant to do when he felt like this: focus on his senses. What could he see? Absolutely fuck all, that was the problem. What could he hear? Sirens outside. Some laughter, which he also thought was coming from outside, but surely couldn’t be, not in this weather. But beyond that, not much at all. And the building was never usually quiet, that was one of the things he liked about living there. It drove Harry mad - he liked silence, had invested in some noise excluding headphones so he could get his work done. Louis had tried them once but had yanked them off immediately before the panic - the feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world - had set in.

How long did power cuts usually last? Not long, surely. Although there was that New York one that had lasted for ages. Days? No, it couldn’t be days. And it would be light in the morning and that would be okay, so he just had to get through the night.


He needed a distraction. And he needed to sleep. And there was no way he was going to be able to just, like, fall asleep. He was bad at that at the best of times. No, he knew what he needed to do. And he definitely shouldn’t do it in Harry’s bed. Although just the thought of doing it in Harry’s bed was making his dick firm up. That was bad. But he could feel guilty about that tomorrow. Right now, he needed a distraction and if wanking in Harry’s bed would work for him, then he was just going to go ahead and do it.

He reached one hand down inside his sweats, pushing his underwear down under his balls, which he cupped for a second, feeling them tighten a little, before sliding his hand back along his dick. He knew Harry had lube in his bedside drawer - he’d heard the snick of the cap when Harry had thought he was asleep and then he’d had to pretend to be asleep while Harry let out little gasping breaths and Louis tried not to listen to the wet click of Harry’s hand on Harry’s dick while his own had ached painfully in his shorts. (He’d thought about getting himself off too, of course he had, but he didn’t trust himself to do it silently and if there was anything creepier than listening to your roommate get himself off, it was joining in uninvited.)

Just remembering it now was definitely helping the situation in his pants. How he’d known Harry had been close by the sound of his breath, the tiny groans he was obviously trying to stifle, the aborted cry when he’d finally come, smothered by what Louis had assumed was his arm over his mouth. Or maybe he’d been lying on his belly? Hips canted up, face pressed into the pillow? Louis could have watched - he’d chosen the bed under the window because of the street light directly outside - but he’d kept his eyes closed. Louis had pictured it a number of ways in the months since it had happened and while he thought that getting off to imagined scenarios of your roommate getting off probably wasn’t entirely healthy, it wasn’t hurting anyone either. So.

He brushed the palm of his hand over the head of his dick, collecting pre-come and sliding it down his length, gasping at the smooth sensation. He pictured Harry in this bed, but here, now, kneeling up over Louis, his legs either side of Louis’s hips, his huge dick that Louis had seen dozens if not hundreds of times because Harry had no body hang-ups at all, curling up towards his belly, red and hard. Harry looking down at him, biting his lower lip in concentration as come smeared over the ridiculous butterfly tattoo he’d got on a dare the first week of term.

Louis reached up and rubbed a thumb over one of his nipples, feeling it harden. He imagined Harry leaning down, strong arms braced against the bed, swiping over Louis’s nipple with his tongue, sucking it into his ridiculously huge mouth, grazing it with his stupid tiny rabbit teeth.

He shouldn’t be fantasising about his roommate, he knew that. But desperate times and all that. Imaginary Harry reached up to tweak his own nipples before knee-walking up the bed and swiping his wet dick across Louis’s lips. Louis gasped, his toes curling into the mattress, hand moving faster over his cock. He wondered what Harry tasted like, whether he’d want to come on Louis’s face, let Louis come on his face, those lips. Louis made an embarrassingly needy whimpering sound and then let out an actual scream when something - a tree branch? - rapped against the window.

He rolled onto his side, pulling his knees up to his chest. God, this was ridiculous. It was just a storm, it’d be over soon. There was nothing to be scared of. He was twenty years old. It was fine. Everything was fine.

His heart was racing, but the burst of fear didn’t seem to have disturbed his erection at all, so he let his hand drift down again, curling his fingers loosely around himself. Harry. Harry bending over the bed, his head hanging down, muscles moving over his broad back as Louis pressed himself against him, dick sliding between his arse cheeks, fingers pressing into the soft flesh of his hips. Louis groaned. God. He shouldn’t be thinking about Harry like this. He shouldn’t be thinking about Harry at all. Harry was—

The door burst open and banged back against the wall.

Louis made a sound that wasn’t exactly a scream, but wasn’t not a scream either. What the actual fuck.


It was Harry. Of course it was. Louis couldn’t seem to speak. His breath felt caught just behind his breastbone. This was mortifying.

“Louis?” Harry said again, and then the light from his phone played over Louis’s face and he screwed his eyes tight.

“What are you—” Harry said. “Oh! Hey, are you alone? I—”

“I’m alone,” Louis said, his voice coming out strained and weak. “Sorry I’m in your bed. It was dark and I thought it was mine and I—”

“No. S’fine,” Harry said. He closed the door behind himself.

“I thought I’d locked it,” Louis said. “I didn’t think you’d be coming back.”

“I was going to tell you the other day.” The light from his phone swept around the room. Everything looked wrong in the dark, Louis thought. Too near, too far, just wrong. “It’s been flipping back. I was going to ask Nick to fix it.” Nick was their RA and, for most of last year, Harry’s boyfriend. Louis hated Nick.

“Do you mind if I…” Harry said, coming closer to the bed, his bed, his bed that Louis was still lying in, his underwear still bunched under his arse and balls, his dick now soft, but pre-come drying on his hand and belly.

“I just need a—”

Louis held his breath as Harry leaned over him, across his bed. His hair was wet and dripped onto Louis’s face, which was so burning hot Louis was surprised not to hear a sizzle.

“You’re wet,” Louis said and immediately regretted it.

Harry laughed. “Yeah. It’s raining out there. In case you hadn’t noticed.”

“How did you even get back?” Louis asked. He meant why did you come back, but he didn’t think he could ask that.

“I was only in Campbell.”

Two buildings along. Louis didn’t know who Harry knew in Campbell.

“I was studying,” Harry said. “With Becka. She’s in my Lit class. I don’t think you know her?”

He’d managed to grab a towel now and straightened up, rubbing his hair, vigourously.

Louis really wanted to fix his underwear, but there was no way to do it that didn’t bring attention to his situation. He wasn’t one hundred percent certain Harry could even see him well enough by the light from the iPhone, but he wasn’t willing to take any chances. And Harry would probably move away in a minute anyway, he’d need to get changed, his shirt was wet.

“Did you get your essay finished?” Harry asked, hooking his fingers into the hem of his t-shirt and pulling it up over his head and no. No.

“I think so,” Louis said, his mouth so dry he was amazed he could speak at all. “Power went out so I don’t know if it saved.” Harry. Shirtless. Wet and shirtless. Standing right next to him. He felt his dick stirring again and no, that absolutely could not be happening. No.

Harry rubbed over his skin with the towel and then reached for the button on his jeans.

“I’m, uh,” Louis said. “I’m really tired. Actually.”

“Shit,” Harry said. “Yeah. Sorry. Do you want to get back in your own bed or—”

A branch crashed against the window and the small pane at the top smashed, showering glass over Louis’s bed.

“Fuck!” Harry said, jumping back and banging into the wardrobe.

It was dark and Louis couldn’t catch his breath. Harry was here and it was dark and he was starting to panic, his breathing speeding up, his head feeling fuzzy. He fisted his hands into the sheets, trying to anchor himself.

“Lou?” Harry said. “Are you—”

Harry kneeled on the bed, leaning over Louis. “It’s ok. It’s just the storm. Are you ok? Are you… Is this… Are you having a panic attack?”

Louis managed to nod and then Harry was lying down and pressing his warm palm to Louis’s chest.

“Just breathe,” he said. “Try and breathe, I mean. It’s okay. You’re safe. It’s just a storm. Do you… I don’t know what I’m meant to do…”

“S’okay,” Louis managed to say, his voice small. He knew what he was meant to do. And Harry’s hand was helping. Having Harry there at all was helping.

Louis tried to focus on his senses, but everything was Harry. What could he hear? Harry breathing. What could he smell? Harry’s skin and hair and pillow and sheets. What could he see? The shape of Harry moving closer, turning on his side, towards Louis.

“Do you want me to… hold you?” Harry asked.

Louis did. He really did. And he knew he should say no. Because, fuck, he was in Harry’s bed with his pants down. Moments ago he’d been half-hard. There was no way this could possibly end well. But. He nodded. Harry slid one arm under Louis’s head and round his back, pulling him into his chest. Fuck. Louis tucked his face into the curve of Harry’s neck, tasting rain. He breathed in his scent: coconut, grass. And something else - beer? Harry rubbed Louis’s back, his hand smoothing over his bare skin to the dip of his waist and up again. Louis felt himself relaxing a little more every time.

“Is it the storm?” Harry asked.

Louis felt his breath on his face.

“No. Well, that doesn’t help.”

“It’ll be over soon,” Harry said, hand still moving over Louis’s skin. “I’m glad you were in my bed. Or the glass—”

“God,” Louis said. “Yeah.” He hadn’t even thought of that.

He saved ‘Glad you were in my bed’ to think about later.

Harry’s hand stopped and instead he pulled Louis even closer, shifting against the mattess to accommodate him tucked into his side. The room was cold – the wind whistling through the broken window – but Harry was warm. Harry was always warm.

“You feeling better?” Harrysaid. “You sound better. Your breathing…”

“Yeah,” Louis said. Harry’s thigh was pressed alongside his, his fingers were digging into his waist. If Louis turned his head just a little, he could kiss Harry’s neck, mouth along his jaw. Fuck. He needed to not think about that before—

“Oh, um,” Harry said, and shifted a little.

“Oh fuck,” Louis said. “I’m sorry. I—”

“It’s fine,” Harry said. “I’ll just let you, um… I need to get my phone anyway.”

He pulled back, his arm sliding out from under Louis and rolling over towards the other side of the bed.

Louis hadn’t even noticed that the light from Harry’s phone had gone. Which was interesting. But he finally had a chance to rearrange his pants and he wasn’t going to miss it. He wriggled them back up, dragging the waistband over the dried come on his stomach. Fuck. This was the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to him.

“Shit,” Harry said. “It won’t switch back on.” He rolled onto his back next to Louis. “Probably out of charge now.”

Louis had no idea what to say.

“Do you want to, um, try to sleep?” Harry asked.

Louis didn’t think there was any chance of that happening. Not when Harry was lying next to him. Not when he could feel the heat radiating from Harry’s body and smell his skin. Not when he knew Harry knew exactly what he’d been doing in Harry’s bed. The storm and the dark were the least of his worries, it was much more likely he’d just die of embarrassment.

“It’s okay, you know,” Harry said.

Right, yes. Louis was going to die of embarrassment. This minute.

“If you were, um, you know…”

But first Louis was going to curse Harry’s extra-fucking-slow way of speaking.

“You know,” Harry continued, his voice low. “Getting yourself off.”

Louis couldn’t move. He wanted to roll over and bury his face in the pillow, but he couldn’t move.

“I know it’s, um, like, tricky. Because we share. So there’s not always an opportunity…”

Please stop talking, Louis thought. Please.

“I think you heard me once?” Harry said.

No. No no no.

“And I was, um, embarrassed at first. Because, like, I thought maybe we should’ve talked about it. About, like, when we would do it. So I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry if you, like, felt awkward about it? And didn’t know how to ask me to, you know, not.”

Louis was getting hard. This was the worst thing that had ever happened. Where was the rest of the tree? Why couldn’t it smash through the window and end this discussion.

“I’m scared of the dark,” Louis said, which he thought may well be the conversational equivalent.

“Yeah?” Harry said. Gently. With no judgement.

Louis’s eyes burned. “Always have been. Since I was a kid. Don’t know why.”

“It’s okay,” Harry said.

“So when I was, you know,” Louis said, his eyes were scrunched up so tightly it was almost painful. “It was a distraction. From the storm. And the dark.”

“Right,” Harry said.

His breathing had sped up, Louis could feel it. His own heart was racing again, but not from fear this time.

“Did you, um… Did it work?” Harry asked, shifting on the mattress.

“It didn’t… I didn’t…” Louis wanted to roll over and curl into a ball like a hedgehog. “You came home,” he said instead.

“Right,” Harry said. “But if you wanted to… you know. I don’t mind. I mean… maybe I could… help?”

“Jesus Christ, Harry!” Louis said, pressing his face into Harry’s shoulder. “You can’t just… How can you…”

“Sorry, sorry,” Harry said, starting to move across the bed. Away. Away from Louis. “It was just a suggestion. I just thought maybe…”

Louis opened his eyes. Everything was dark still. He couldn’t even see Harry even though he knew Harry was there. Right there. If he stretched out his arm he could touch him again. He wanted to touch him again. Wanted Harry touching him.

“Come back,” Louis said. “I didn’t say I don’t want to. It’s just…” Embarrassing. Humiliating. Ridiculously arousing? “A lot.”

“Sorry,” Harry said again, shuffling back. And then his hand was smoothing down Louis’s side and Louis was shivering with the touch.

“Like this?” Harry said.

“That’s good,” Louis whispered.

“Do you want to touch yourself?” Harry said. “Or do you want me to touch you?”

Louis did roll over then, onto his belly, hiding his face in the pillow even though he knew Harry couldn’t see him.

“You touch me,” he said, his voice muffled. “Please.”

“Good,” Harry said. “Turn over.”

Louis rolled onto his back, dropping his arm over his face to hide his eyes. He couldn’t believe this was really happening. Maybe it wasn’t? Maybe the tree had come through the window and killed him and this was—

Harry’s hand was moving down his chest, over his belly, brushing gently across his cock.

Heaven. This was heaven.

“Like this?” Harry said.

Louis made another embarrassing sound and then said. “Yeah. Please. That’s good.”

Harry’s hand curled around Louis’s dick, stroking it gently. Louis felt the mattress move and then Harry said, “Louis?”


“Can I kiss you?”

“Shit,” Louis said. “God. Please.”

He felt Harry’s lips on his shoulder. Then moving up the side of his neck. And then his jaw. And then Harry’s mouth was on his and Louis couldn’t breathe. He’d moved his hands - he didn’t know when - and one was on Harry’s hip, the other curled around the back of his neck. Harry moaned as he licked into Louis’s mouth and Louis’s hips came up off the bed.

“Wanted to do this for so long,” Harry said, against his mouth. “Didn’t think you—”

“I do,” Louis said. “I have. Since I first saw you.”

Harry groaned, dropping his head down and mouthing at Louis’s throat. Louis could feel Harry’s hardness against his hip. Harry was hard. For him. He’d never even dared to dream about this. Not really. Harry bracketed Louis’s legs with his own, and they both groaned as their crotches pressed together.

“Wish I could see you,” Harry said, hips moving against Louis’s, mouth pressed to the side of his neck.

“Fuck,” Louis moaned, tipping his head back to give Harry better access, fingers pressing into Harry’s waist. “Me too.”

There was a low humming sound and the power came back. Louis had been working by the light of his desk lamp, so the room wasn’t flooded with brightness, but there was Harry, above him, smiling down at him, eyes dark, ridiculous mouth red and swollen from kissing Louis. From kissing Louis!

“Hey!” he said.

“You’re a wizard,” Louis said, his voice small.

Harry rolled his eyes. “You, um, want to stop?”

Louis stared at him. His hair and his skin and his eyes and his mouth and his fucking dimple.

“Fuck no.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” He moved down down down, licking at Louis’s collarbones, teeth grazing Louis’s nipples. “I do my best work in the dark,” Harry said from under the duvet.

Louis pushed his hands into Harry’s hair and closed his eyes. He wasn’t even afraid.