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Wild at Heart Ain't Hard to Find

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Louis squinted up at the hot midday sun as it beat down on her in the front seat of the rental car. She had her feet propped up sticking through the passenger side window as she waited for Niall to pump the gas into their tank while Liam was in getting snacks.

She flipped her sunglasses down onto her nose from where they were pushing her hair back. She could get used to this.

It was a lot easier when Liam and Niall weren’t in the car, though. They were her best friends, and she loved them, but they were also smelly boys, and they were all on a bit of a mini road trip. She had rolled the windows down pretty quickly after their departure from the Denver airport.

They had flown direct from Boston to Denver, but it was still another six-hour drive to Redwater Canyon, their final destination. They were four hours into that drive and Louis had been traveling for far too long already, and she was beginning to get restless.

Liam climbed back in the car first and began to distribute the snacks accordingly. He reached over and threw Louis her iced tea and cheddar and sour cream chips.

“How can you eat those things?” Liam asked from the back seat.

“Excuse me, Lima. These are delicious, and I’ll not have your judgment, thanks.” Louis opened one eye and sneered at Liam’s kale chips. “Blech. At least mine have flavor.”

Liam snorted but let the subject drop.

Niall paid for the gas then hopped back in the driver’s seat.

“Alright. Last leg. Here we go!” Niall cheered as he started the car again. He passed his phone over to Louis so she could start the GPS up again, and so she could control the music. Technically the last two hours were Niall’s music choice - he had insisted - but Louis needed to make the actual selections because he was driving.

Louis huffed out a breath before opening up Niall’s pre-loaded playlist, eyeing the selections and rolling her eyes a bit.

“Where do I start, Ni?” Liam was going to hate this.

“Just press play, Lou.”

Louis nodded and did as she was told. The ambient noises of “Untamed” by Cam came on, and Liam groaned almost immediately.

“Country? Really, Ni?” Liam asked.

“Yeah!” Niall cheered, while Louis laughed at Liam’s misfortune.

Louis quite liked country music when she was in the mood for it, which was precisely what Niall was going for this time.

“Come on, Liam! We’re getting in the mood,” Louis crooned exaggeratedly.

Liam flicked her ear from the back seat. “Traitor! You were the one who didn’t even want to come on this trip.”

“Keep up, Lima bean, I’m excited about it now,” Louis threw the plastic wrapper from the top of her iced tea blindly behind her in his general direction.

“Whatever,” Liam pouted.

Louis settled further in her seat, keeping her feet out the window in the breeze as they flew down the freeway.

It was true, Louis hadn’t been excited about their trip to Redwater Canyon. Really, it had taken arriving at Logan Airport this morning for her to get into the spirit.

Niall had chosen this trip; it was his turn. The three of them had been rotating through trip ideas every year since they met freshman year of college. Ten years later, they had been through the full cycle three times.

It had been Niall’s idea in the beginning when all they could afford was the one dollar Lucky Star bus trip to New York City. They had gone down, slept on the floor of Louis’ friend’s dorm room at NYU, and spent all their money on doing all the crazy touristy things they could cram into one weekend. The next year had been a ski trip to Maine, and so on.

Now they all had relatively good paying jobs and could afford luxuries like airfare and rental cars.

Girlfriends - and that one boyfriend Niall had the first year after college - had come and gone, some even got serious enough to go on the trips with them, but nothing ever got in the way of their annual vacation.

The planning of this vacation in particular was truly testing the limits of their love for Niall.

They were headed to Redwater Canyon the “World’s Best" immersive Old West experience. Immersive. As in, live like it’s the Old West.

Louis had been the first one to kick up a fuss. “Niall. Do you realize what the Old West was like for women? I’m going to have to wear a dress. A dress!”

“Louis, don’t be ridiculous.  It's still tourism; they’re not that strict. You can be an outlaw gunslinger if you want to be.” Niall had made a face at her that shut her up, even if she was still fuming on the inside. No one could say no to Niall, though, Louis included.

Eventually, she had come to the realization that this was happening with or without her, so she better get used to the idea. She had done some research into the town on her own, and it really did look like she could do whatever she wanted. There also were a bunch of listings for live music shows and artist demonstrations, both as part of the living history town, and the village just outside the “historical” limits.

So they all got time off, packed their bags, and boarded a plane to Denver.

Liam’s girlfriend Sophia wasn’t able to get time off and come with them this year which was unfortunate. Louis also suspected that she didn’t try very hard; “roughing it” wasn’t her specialty. She wasn’t necessarily high maintenance but had joked with Louis that until the woods had Wi-Fi, she would prefer to stay in Boston.

They had been high at the time, passing a joint back and forth laid out on a picnic blanket in Boston Common, and Louis had thrown her head back into Sophia’s lap and laughed until tears gathered at the corners of her eyes. She really hoped Liam did something about proposing soon. Girls like Sophia didn’t come around very often.

Louis would know, she thought a little bitterly. Dating hadn’t been going well for her at the moment… or for the past year. Sometimes the Boston dating scene felt much too heavily weighted in undergraduates that were dabbling in experimentation. She was already twenty-eight, she just didn’t have time for casual sex anymore.

Her last relationship broke up a little over a year ago, so she had officially been single longer than she had been in that relationship. Louis decided after that break up that she wanted to settle down. She was looking for someone to spend her life with, not just have a little bit of a cuddle with after a few dates.

As she was spinning deeper into her thoughts, “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris came on Niall’s playlist. Great. Louis rolled her eyes just in time for Maren to sing;

To a time when I wouldn’t roll my eyes
At a guy and a girl
Who make it work in a world
That for me so far just seems to go so wrong
Yeah I could use, I could use a love song

Louis forcefully tapped the face of Niall’s phone to move onto the next song. Sometimes country music got a little too real.

The song switched to “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” by Jo Dee Messina, which was a much better choice for a road trip anyway. Niall made some noises about the song changing so abruptly but got over it quickly enough to shout: “I’ve got people in Boston!” at the top of his lungs with Louis.

Louis just wanted to enjoy this vacation. They were going to stay at one of the old-fashioned boarding houses in town; there would be good, real, home cooked breakfast every morning, some fresh air, tours, history. It would be fun. She would make it fun even if it killed her.

Liam was a history nerd, so he would get into it too, as long as they didn’t shove any Shania Twain down his throat much longer than Niall’s allotted two hours.

 

Eventually, after three wrong turns and one minor spat about navigation later, they made it to the town. More specifically to the parking lot behind the town where everyone parked their cars then walked the three-quarters of a mile to the town.

They all grabbed their luggage, made sure the rental car was locked, and someone took a picture of their parking space number before they began their trek down the path.

Louis could feel the sweat making her t-shirt stick to her shoulders and back under her backpack straps. She could really use a shower, and she made Niall promise that the old-fashioned boarding house at least had somewhat modern bathrooms. Niall had sworn up and down they did; apparently there were different “levels” of immersion that you could pay for during your stay in town. Then on their last night, they were going to rent equipment from the boarding house and camp out under the stars instead.

They reached the foyer of their specific boarding house, and Louis was grateful that even if the building didn’t have central air, they had figured out a way to make the house cool and dry with as much cross breeze as possible. She was glad she had packed light with a wardrobe that was limited to cut off jean shorts and thin cotton t-shirts.

Louis was also glad that as the only girl she got the second room to herself by default. If there was ever a significant other that came with them they tried to rearrange, and rooming with one of the boys was fine, but she was always happier when she didn’t have to resort to that.

She also required the vetting of all significant others that were deemed serious enough to bring on the trip. That rule was instated after The Tara Incident of 2014. Louis shuddered as she pushed the door open to her room.

There was a modest double bed in the middle of the wood-paneled room with a dresser, a mirror, and a wash basin on top of a vanity with a pitcher next to it. And a decided lack of an en-suite. 

“Niall!” Louis yelled through the open door into the hallway.

“There are real bathrooms, Louis, I promise! They’re just… communal,” Niall replied sticking his head out of the boys’ room.

“One of these days, Horan, I am going to make you wish you were never born,” Louis growled.

Fine. Communal bathrooms. Louis grabbed her toiletries and the provided towels and closed her door behind her before entering the boys’ room.

“I’m going to get in the shower, what do you guys want to do about dinner?” She asked.

“The saloon connected to the boarding house will be open and quick if we just want to grab dinner and a pint later?” Liam read from the brochure.

Louis nodded, “Sounds good to me. We can sit and plan out the next few days.”

Niall agreed, so Louis left their room, shutting the door behind her before making her way down the hall to the bathroom. They were nice and clean at least, if a little old-fashioned. There wasn’t anyone else in there with her, either, so Louis started the water and checked out the rest of the facilities as she waited for it to heat up.

There were bugs and dust caked on the screen on the window, but again, the room was cool with a ceiling fan going to help the breeze along.

When the water was the right temperature, Louis got undressed, left her clothes in the cubby and got under the spray. It felt amazing to clean off the hours of travel; the plane and dusty road grime fell away from her skin and she felt so clean she could cry.

 

That night at dinner, in a fresh t-shirt and shorts, Louis felt much more clear headed. They had paid a flat fee for all of their food for the week to emulate the old fashion idea of a “free lunch” where saloons used to provide food in order to entice their patrons to drink, which made them want to eat, which made them want to drink. A vicious circle of capitalism. 

The boarding house built in the cost of daily breakfast and either lunch or dinner. Boarders then had to pay for all of their drinks and anything else they wanted.

Each of them ordered a pint when they sat down, and Louis and Niall checked out the menu while Liam pulled out what looked like the entire brochure rack from the foyer and spread everything out on the table in front of them.

Tours. Museums. Shops. Concerts. The living history town itself was quiet and subdued, but the villages surrounding it offered all the regular tourist traps and more.

Liam pulled out his planning notebook and began to map out different days, costs, logistics, what they would need the car for, what they could just walk to; he was wonderful at figuring out stuff like this. Louis was a lot better at flying by the seat of her pants, so she always gave him a list of things she wanted to do and then sat back to let him work out the details.

Niall was good at helping Liam put their schedule together, primarily because this was his trip, so he knew a bit more about what was on offer as well.

Their waitress approached the table and Louis couldn’t lie. Her mouth watered a bit. The girl was cute and compact with a little bounce in her step; the kind that only came from a lifelong history of afterschool dance or gymnastics. Maybe cheerleading. Her dark hair faded to a deep golden at the ends where it was sticking out of her high messy bun. She was wearing a simple period-esque cotton shift that was long sleeved and fitted in the bodice but laid flat against her body with slightly more voluminous skirts. And there were ruffles. Lots of ruffles.

She introduced herself as Melissa and took their order with a twinkly giggle and a kind smile. When she got a far enough distance away from the table, Niall - who was still staring, watching her walk away - said as forcefully as possible, “Dibs!”

Louis dislodged a handful of brochures from the pile in front of them and gave Niall’s arm a good solid beating while he flinched away from her.

“Niall, what have I told you about dibsing women?” She punctuated each word with another slap of treated paper on his exposed skin.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch! I’m sorry, okay!”

Louis stopped hitting him and slammed the brochures back down on the table, ignoring Liam’s noise of protest at their now bedraggled state. “Thank you. Now. If you had bothered to ask and calmly express your sexual interest in our waitress, I would have said that she is really fucking hot, and if it turns out she’s even remotely gay we will settle this like gentlemen and let her decide.”

“I thought you swore off casual sex, Lou,” Liam pointed out.

Louis messed up some more of his brochures.

Melissa came back to the table with their food, but was definitely making eyes at, and flirting with, Niall. Louis sighed. Liam was right. She was better off sticking to her settling down plan anyway.

When they were done with dinner, they passed through the quaint half doors that always showed up in western movies into the boarding house and climbed the stairs to their rooms. Louis had talked Liam down from his obscene wake-up call time, convincing him to let her sleep in a little bit because he sometimes got too excited and had trouble remembering that they were supposed to be on vacation.

“See you for breakfast, Lou?” Niall asked as they unlocked their door.

“Mmm… pancakes. Bacon. I’ll be there,” Louis declared before entering her room and closing the door behind her.

She used some of the water in the basin to brush her teeth and do a face mask - the dry heat was already messing with her skin. When she was done, she slipped out of her clothes and tossed them into her empty suitcase, choosing instead to climb under the light cotton sheets naked.

The air had gotten cooler as the sun set, so she left the coverlet bunched at the bottom of the bed as she checked her phone. She sent a text off to her mom to tell her that they had arrived safely, then shut it down without setting an alarm.

Cell phones weren’t explicitly discouraged in town, in this day and age Louis wasn’t sure they could get away with that, but when they made their reservations, there was a whole section on the website about how they liked to promote a “screen free” environment during the day to add to the ambiance. Louis liked the idea of unplugging in theory, it might be nice, but she wasn’t sure how long she would last.

She let the silence of the town seep in through the open window with the breeze and wash over her where she lay. Relaxation. She could get used to this part.

 

The next morning, Louis didn’t end up needing an alarm. Metal clanged on metal in the far off distance; horse hooves clopped steadily on the packed dirt road, doors swung open and shut on creaky hinges, chickens clucked; the town came to life beneath her third-story window right in the heart of it all.

She was convinced the rooster had even crowed at dawn, but that at least she had slept through. She knew because she had a weird dream involving her ex-girlfriend who at one point had crowed at her. Louis blinked at the ceiling of her room trying to get her bearings.

Redwater Canyon. Right.

Her body came back to the world slowly as she got up and headed down the hall for a shower. She ran into Niall on the way.

“Put some clothes on, Lou,” he chided eyeing her towel.

“Where’s my cheery, sunny Niall?” she asked, affronted.

“The fucking rooster woke me up,” he grumbled.

Louis laughed and patted his back, “Come on, Ni. Into the shower, then we’ll get some coffee and bacon in you. Wake you right up!” She pushed him towards the door to the men’s bathroom, then entered her own across the hall and repeated her routine from the day before.

When everyone was showered and ready to face the day, they met downstairs for breakfast, and Louis’ mouth was watering before they even hit the stairs. Eggs any way she wanted, bacon, sausage, pancakes, french toast. She was glad they would be walking around a lot on tours and things so she could work off the amazing breakfast.

“The tour starts at 10:30 in front of the Town Hall, so we should probably get there fifteen minutes early,” Liam said through a mouthful of pancakes.

Louis hummed in agreement around her bite of crunchy bacon. “Okay, I want to see some demonstrations.”

Niall laughed at her, spraying a little bit of egg, “I’m so surprised that you would rather do that than take more tours, Lou.”

“You’re so gross. Also, rude.” Louis wiped exaggeratedly at the table in front of her. She couldn’t deny that she preferred actually seeing cool stuff - or doing cool stuff - instead of listening to middle-aged tour guides tell her about some boring dead white dudes. “I’ll do the main tour, get the lay of the land, then I want to go see the blacksmith.”

“The blacksmith? Really?” Liam asked with his eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, some huge ass dude lighting stuff on fire and then attacking it with a hammer,” Louis replied making the motions of the pounding hammer with her fist, getting some serious side-eye from the prim older woman serving breakfast. She wished Melissa was there. Melissa was more fun.

Liam consulted his schedule; “Alright then, blacksmith it is. Looks like they have a demonstration after we had planned on having lunch.”

Niall groaned, the bare white china of his plate gleaming in the bright morning sunlight. “We might have to push back lunch.”

Louis laughed then poked his stomach making him contract in defense. He hit back, managing to get her on the boob. “Ouch, Nialler. That was my tit!” The woman serving breakfast sent her another stern look.

They cleaned up quickly after that, not wanting to get kicked out, and went back up to their rooms to grab their things for the day. Louis had a small crossbody bag that she packed with her gum, water, and sunglasses in, and she slammed her trusty old Red Sox hat on her head, pulling her ponytail through the back.

The temperature was beginning to rise as they got their first real look at Redwater Canyon in the daylight. It was less a canyon and more a valley, with the gorgeous Rocky Mountains shooting up on either side all around the town. The town itself, and the surrounding area, was flat enough that it felt like the mountains were right on top of them, even though Louis knew they were actually miles away.

She was glad she had taken the time to apply the fancy sunscreen her younger sister Lottie had insisted she pack, because she could feel her skin beginning to heat up already. She reached across her shoulder to tuck the sleeves of her t-shirt into the arm holes and under her bra strap to prevent a farmers tan, a move she hadn’t pulled since middle school. Oh well, when it worked, it worked.

“Welcome to Redwater Canyon, folks!” The guide cried out from the edge of the town square with a bright, cheery voice. She was wearing the same kind of dress Melissa had on the night before in the saloon, an old-fashioned turn of the century kind of gown made out of light cotton with a neutral calico print.

“My name is Barbara, and I’ll be taking you on a tour of town today. It will run about ninety minutes with lots of stops for water along the way. If I’ve done my job right, at the end of the tour, you’ll have a much better idea of everything we have on offer here for you over the course of your stay with us, even if it’s just for the day. Everybody ready?”

The group was relatively quiet, and there were a few grunts here and there, but Liam and Niall each responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Louis groaned, “You guys are such dorks.”

With that, Barbara got underway, talking a mile a minute giving them the history of the town, surrounding area, and general facts about what life was like in the Old West. Louis had to hand it to her, she was quite clever beyond the general standard cheesy puns and jokes that come with every historical tour.

She pointed out different buildings and activities along the way, including the blacksmith hut that had an open area in front of it with an unlit fire pit, anvil, and tools presumably for demonstrations. Louis made a note of the location so they could return later. They moved on as a group, but Louis noticed Niall glancing repeatedly over his shoulder, so she nudged him.

“What’s with you?” She growled under her breath.

“Nothing, Lou,” he said with a smirk. He looked entirely too smug, so she pinched under his arm right where she knew it would hurt the most. “Ow! Fuck.”

“Tell me.”

“Nothing! I just think we should definitely go back to the blacksmith.” Niall’s smirk didn’t go away.

“We’re already planning on it,” Louis huffed. “Dick.”

“Mmm. Not much, I wouldn’t think,” Niall hummed on a laugh.

Louis stared at him again, confused, but Niall only nodded towards where Barbara was launching into a made-up ghost story about the old mill on the outskirts of town.

Throughout the tour, Niall stuck close to Liam, even leaning over to whisper in Liam’s ear for a second. Louis was pissed. They were keeping secrets from her. She hated that.

When Barbara finally ended the walking tour, Louis snuck up behind them and slapped both of them on the back of the head.

It was a wonder Sophia never wanted to come with them on their group trips.

They were, in fact, ready for lunch when the tour was done, so they stopped at the sandwich shop in town. Once they loaded up with food and were a good halfway through their meal, Niall spoke up.

“So the blacksmith demonstration is in a little bit. We should finish up quickly so we can get a good a seat.” He went back to eating the sandwich suspended in his hand.

Louis paused in her chewing. “Uh, yeah, sure…?” she said around the bread in her mouth, confused as to why he felt the need to point out the obvious.

“I’m just making sure,” Niall replied defensively.

Louis stared at him strongly enough to convey her skepticism before going back to her food.

“So after the blacksmith demo, we’ll have some time to look around more,” Liam said.

“Right, first blacksmith. Then everything else.” Niall repeated.

Louis was officially suspicious. “Why the fuck are the two of you so obsessed with the blacksmith?”

“No reason,” Liam replied without meeting her stare. Something was definitely up.

 

Her suspicion didn’t let up for the entire walk over to the hut because her best friends were still acting like idiots. When they got there, there were a few empty wooden benches right up front behind the little wooden barrier designed to keep the tourists a safe distance away from the now lit fire pit.

Louis was perfectly happy to hang back and let the people that needed to be up close, like little kids, take the good seats, but Liam and Niall crowded her until she finally gave in and sat down on the back bench.

“Guys, we can just sit here!” she protested.

Not willing to let that stand, they each took her by the arm and dragged her up - without saying anything - to the seat that was front and center.

“What the f--” Louis paused when she saw a little kid come into the small clearing and Liam gave her a stern look. “What on earth is your problem?” she hissed at the stupid boys now known as her former best friends.

Niall was smirking; “Nothing, Lou, we’re just really interested in metal. Fire. All the stuff you said earlier.”

She eyed them for another few minutes, but they just kept watching the entrance of the hut. “You are both so full of shit. If this ends up being some ploy to volunteer me for audience participation, I’m going to kill you.”

Niall snorted but still didn’t say anything.

The viewing area continued to fill up as the start time for the demonstration drew near, and Louis could hear a bunch of ambient noises from inside the hut, but the door was closed. Finally, it opened, and the blacksmith walked out.

It was not a huge hulking dude ready to smash metal with his fists like Louis had been looking forward to when she explained it to Niall and Liam at breakfast.

No, instead, the blacksmith was an actual angel. She was tall and lean with silky, suntanned skin. While the rest of the women in town were all wearing modest cotton shifts, the blacksmith looked a bit like she had taken a wrong turn leaving the Renaissance Faire.

She was wearing a simple cognac brown leather bustier, and her torso was long enough that the sweetheart neckline had to be resting just above her nipples. Louis' eyes began to water because she was pretty sure she hadn't blinked in more than a minute. Tucked underneath the bustier, the blacksmith wore a light cotton peasant skirt that was cut high in front, hitting her just above her knees, while the back brushed low on her calves like a Can-Can skirt. The look was finished off with some dusty brown work boots at the bottom of her endlessly long legs.

Her toned arms were bulging a bit as she carried a bucket of water out of the hut towards the fire pit where the rest of her tools were ready and waiting for her to start the demonstration.

As she leaned down to place the bucket, her thick braid of long curly brown hair fell over her shoulder. Louis wouldn’t have known it was curly if it weren’t for the little baby hairs that framed her face, tightening up from the salt in the sweat along her hairline. Louis had never wanted to lick a girl’s forehead before. Other parts of their body, sure, but not a forehead.

The not very secure bustier gaped away from her chest for a moment of heaven and Louis could see the curve of her breasts as they strained to stay tucked away.

“Boys? I think I’m in love,” Louis whispered.

Niall elbowed her in the side, cackling. “We knew you would be.”

She slapped him in the chest as the rest of the crowd began to settle down. The woman stood up, and one of her knees bent in a bit pigeon-toed as she put her hands on her hips and surveyed her workspace to make sure she had everything.

“Right,” she said clapping her hands together. Oh. Her voice was husky, and deeper than Louis thought it would be. Not the airy, feminine country twang she had been expecting at all. “Hello everyone, my name is Harry,” she started, looking around. Her eyes landed on Liam and Niall who were bent over whispering between themselves conspiratorially while Louis sat, entranced.

Harry’s gaze finally met Louis’ and she paused for a second before starting again. “My name is, um, Harry, like I said. I’m the head blacksmith here in Redwater Canyon.” Harry stopped to clear her throat. “Before we start, does anyone know anything about smithing?”

“Do you make swords?” One little boy piped up.

For all that Harry’s attention had been on Louis - Louis certainly wasn’t complaining - she immediately switched gears and turned to the little boy.

“That would be so cool! I can’t because it requires really super nice metal that I don’t have around here. Most swords are shiny, right?” The boy nodded as Harry came closer to the barrier to talk to him more directly. “Well, I mostly work with iron. Did you see the horses around town?” The boy nodded again, in awe. “I make shoes and things for them so they can be comfortable and make sure their feet don’t hurt while they carry everyone around.”

That launched another slew of questions from other little kids and Harry was patient with each one. Louis couldn’t help but think that this was not the presentation Harry had originally planned.

Louis was endeared. Smoking hot and good with kids. If Louis could dream up a wife to ride off into the rainbow sunset with, it would be this woman.

Harry did end up continuing on with her regular program and brought out a piece of iron for a gate that she was shaping. She talked with her slow and steady voice explaining the steps as she heated up the piece she wanted to shape until it was a burning, angry, bright orange. She rested the piece on the anvil and held it with one hand as she brought her other arm up holding the hammer and let it fall down to pound at the iron.

As she worked and answered questions, she began to heat up from her proximity to the fire and the manual labor from wielding the hammer. Her skin glistened in the hot afternoon sun, and Louis wanted to die.

This could not be happening. Harry looked like one of those lingerie models that had been sprayed with water to get a fake glisten. Except it was real. She probably tasted salty and earthy and wonderful, and Louis’ whole body was beginning to positively throb.

All she could do was stare at Harry, which was why it took her a few extra minutes to realize that the rest of the spectators had gotten up from their benches and were moving along to their next activity. Louis turned to Liam and Niall to see them staring at her expectantly.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing, Lou,” Niall said innocently.

Liam broke first, as he was want to do. “Go talk to her, Tommo.”

Louis rolled her eyes at them before getting up from the bench and turning to leave the demo area to walk away. She absolutely would not talk to Harry. Mostly because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to string two words together. Or she would totally word vomit all over her. Either way, it wouldn’t end well.

Niall and Liam were trailing after her heckling her retreating form. Whatever. They could shove it.

“Where are we going next?” Louis called over her shoulder, turning her head a bit to acknowledge them. When she did, she caught a glimpse of Harry out of the corner of her eye bringing equipment back under the covered section of the smith.

Harry put her tools down on a blackened table before lifting her gaze, pinning Louis with her stare.

Louis lifted one hand up to wave, dopily, as the corner of Harry’s mouth quirked up and she turned to go back into the hut.

Great, Louis thought. She was such a dork.

“Smooth,” Niall teased.

“Fuck off.” Louis huffed out a breath and turned to walk farther away so she wouldn’t continue to embarrass herself. Her Converse kicked up dirt as she headed back towards the main part of town.

 

Niall and Liam continued to tease her all afternoon until dinner when she poured salt in both of their iced teas when they weren’t looking.

“Alright, alright. We’ll stop,” Liam conceded as he cleaned up the spit-take he had done when he dragged pure salt up through his straw.

Louis leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, leveling them both with a death glare.

“But, Lou, she’s so hot. You can’t blame us for wanting to be wingmen,” Niall pointed out, trying to dab at his shirt. He had a bit more control than Liam but had still dribbled a bit.

“How do you even know she’s gay?” Louis whined.

Niall shrugged, “I don’t know. Just a vibe. Even if she’s bi, or straight as an arrow ninety-nine percent of the time, she’s feeling you. You are the one percent.”

When the finally got their meal, after Niall flirted with Melissa for a good ten minutes (surely she had other tables) Liam brought up their schedule for the next day.

“There’s games and stuff after breakfast. Then a live concert around four that should be fun. That will lead directly into a barbeque in the same place.”

Louis rolled her lips in debating whether or not to ask the question. The boys had just calmed down. “And, um, what kind of demos are on the schedule?”

Both boys turned and looked at her. “There’s demos at eleven, one, and three.”

“Demos of what?” Louis asked innocently.

“Blacksmithing. At the hut. With your girlfriend,” Niall teased loudly.

Louis pouted and stuffed a french fry into her mouth. “I do believe the correct term is ‘smithing,’ thank you for playing, though Neil.” She chewed haughtily.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to insult your girlfriend.”

“What are you twelve?” Louis hissed as she stole the rest of his french fries off his plate.

Dinner devolved after that.

 

The next morning, Louis did her best to play along and attend the other activities with Liam and Niall, but her mind was on endlessly long legs, shiny green eyes, and cute little baby curls. She lasted until 10:55.

“Boys,” she cleared her throat, “I’m just going to go… back to my room.”

They didn’t protest, but she could tell they knew she was lying. Honestly, she didn’t even care. She barely spared them a second glance as she rushed through town toward Harry’s hut. Because she was cutting it so close, the seats were already completely filled up. Louis didn’t mind; she didn’t want to be so obvious while stalking Harry. She would just hang back on the outskirts of the crowd.

Harry started her demonstration the same way as the day before. Again, Louis watched her wield her hammer, interact with the cute kids, and just generally glisten beautifully in the sun. It was a bit of a sensory overload for Louis.

Harry ended the session, and Louis snuck away, blending in behind a family of six.

 

Louis told herself she wasn’t going to, but she went back for the second session of the day. And the third. Every time she did, she always hung in the back and didn’t interact with Harry. She probably looked like a total creep, but she couldn't help it. She was just so drawn to Harry and her energy. It was so calming as she stood there in the sun with her hair and skirt picking up in the breeze. She looked like a walking ad campaign for something vaguely... country western? Louis was having a tough time getting her brain cells to function around Harry.

The morning of their third day, the three of them were going on an excursion to a hiking trail. Louis was absolutely not going to any Harry’s demonstrations.

Except that Liam dragged them out of the boarding house early so they could hike when it was cooler outside, which meant that by the time they made it back it was lunch time, which meant she could totally make the second demo of the day at one o'clock.

She sat at the table eating her sandwich definitely not watching the clock.

12:47...

12:53...

“Lou, just go!” Niall shouted at her.

She startled, dropping the last falling apart bit of her sandwich back onto the plate, her phone laying face up on the table next to her, lit up with the time, betraying her eagerness.

She didn’t even bother protesting or trying to lie this time. The boys said they would pick up the check, as she walked briskly down the street and the blacksmith hut grew closer and closer.

Harry was already carrying the water bucket out by the time Louis took her place at the back of the crowd. When Harry stood up and double checked her supplies with her hands on her hips, the same way she did every time, Louis’ heart went a bit gooey. She was so gone for this girl.

Shifting her gaze up to the crowd, Harry began her usual speech. Her eyes darted around the crowd until they landed on Louis. The corner of Harry’s mouth quirked up momentarily as she continued talking.

Harry went through the whole demonstration as she normally did, but this time, at the end when she let people approach the barrier to ask questions, she made sure to catch Louis’ eye and give her a look.

Completely following her instinct, not even thinking about how cliché it was, Louis pointed at her own chest, raising her eyebrows as if to say, “Me?”

Harry smirked, nodded, then turned to the first person waiting to talk to her. Casual as ever, as if she hadn’t just brought Louis to her knees.

Fuck. Harry wanted to talk to her. Harry wanted to talk to her.

It was probably to tell her off for being so creepy. Louis knew she should have limited herself to one demonstration a day. But this had only been her first one today.

On the other hand, she did go to all three the day before. Louis did some Lamaze breathing exercises that she had learned when she was a kid and her mom had been pregnant with her little sisters. She had to use them over and over again to help her mum go through all her pregnancies, but she had never needed them for herself.

Her hands were shaking a bit, so she crossed her arms underneath her breasts as she watched Harry calmly field the questions from all the little kids and their parents.

When the last family finally left the clearing, Louis could barely hear anything above the pounding in her ears. Harry briefly glanced at her before grabbing the bucket and turning around to head back into the main hut.

Louis was rooted to the spot. She didn’t know if she was supposed to follow, or if she was supposed to wait.

“Are you coming?” Harry called over her shoulder.

Louis practically tripped over herself vaulting over the waist-high barrier. Well, waist-high for her. For Harry, it was about as high as her…

She cut her thoughts off for her own self-preservation.

When she made it to the open barn style door of the hut she stopped in the doorway. The space was weatherbeaten and sooty, but the air was cool in the dimly lit room. Harry stood in the middle of the floor like a beacon of light.

Louis had no idea what to say.

“Louis, right?” Louis nodded. “You didn’t come to the morning demo,” Harry stated matter of factly as she began to put her tools away.

“Um,” Louis faltered. “No, no I didn’t. We were on a hike.”

“We? The guys you were with?” Harry asked with a leading tone. Her conversational voice was different than her presentation voice. That was true for a lot of people, and Louis had loved her presentation voice, but this was more natural. Definitely less affected.

“Yeah.” Louis watched Harry’s lanky frame move around her space completely at ease. She wished she could be at ease. Instead, she was pretty sure she could feel her heartbeat in her nipples. Harry was so attractive.

This three-foot distance was the closest Louis had been to her. Up close she could see that everything about Harry was natural. Her skin was glowing, and she had faint tan lines like it was well earned and not from a product or a salon like so many of the girls back home in the chilly northeast. Her eyes reflected the refracted sunlight through the open window as she finally faced Louis head-on.

“Are you with one of them? The one with the glasses?” Harry asked, maintaining her straightforward tone.

“Yeah,” Louis answered again, breathily. Harry’s face had been fairly neutral, but Louis watched it fall, and she scrambled to figure out what had gone wrong. With. With. “Oh my God, no! No. Not ‘with’ one of them. Just ‘with’ like traveling together. Not with ‘with,’ I’m super gay.”

Louis’ face immediately flamed red, and she slapped a hand over her mouth.

After a beat of silence, Harry laughed so hard that her torso tilted back and her knees bent under the weight of it.

“I can’t believe I just said that,” Louis garbled through the hand still covering her face.

Harry’s laugh petered out, and she took a step closer. Louis’ body temperature rocketed up another ten degrees. She shifted her weight so that she was no longer leaning against the doorframe, subtly moving forward.

Harry was still smirking at her. “So, you’re super gay, huh?”

Louis swallowed against her parched throat. “Yeah,” she croaked out. Really, she had been a communications major in college. She knew lots of words. She just didn't seem capable of using them right now.

They stood there for another few heartbeats staring at each other. Louis felt a bit powerless. She was used to being the forward one, she had always been good at it. She had been drawn to Harry from the moment she laid eyes on her, and now she didn’t know what to do. There was a current flowing between them, but that could just be in her own head.

Then there was Harry, who basically crooked her finger, and Louis had come running. Harry, who was clearly sick of waiting, because she reached out and grabbed Louis' t-shirt pulling her further into the hut and right into her space.

Their lips crashed together and their teeth clacked before they both relaxed into the kiss. Louis’ arms reached up instinctively draping over Harry’s shoulders.

Harry’s lips were soft and slick and tasted vaguely of mango chapstick. And she smelled amazing, earthy and sweet, just like Louis expected her too. Louis wanted more. She needed to taste. Find the source.

She tore her lips away from Harry’s and dug a hand into the base of her braid to push the weight of it away and trail kisses down Harry’s neck.

“Oh, God, Louis. Louis, we need to--” Harry cut off on a moan as Louis nipped at the skin just below her ear. “Door. We’re in the door,” she forced out.

Louis lifted her head and met Harry’s mouth again as Harry began to move backward, pulling Louis with her. She wasn’t very graceful in her movements, keeping her focus where Louis wanted it - on her - so they ended up running into one of the wooden columns.

Path corrected, Harry led Louis into the more closed off part of the room while they giggled into each other’s mouths. Harry’s hands had been wandering, but they settled finally on the base of Louis’ spine as she brought their hips together.

Louis finally found the back wall when Harry’s body slammed into it. She leaned away to apologize, but Harry made a noise in protest, pulling her body back in close.

Harry’s hands began to tug at the bottom of Louis’ t-shirt, dragging it up her body until Louis’ blue t-shirt bra was exposed. Louis pulled away again just long enough to lift her arms so Harry could remove the shirt.

Taking her cues from Harry’s responses so far, Louis grabbed Harry’s wrists and pinned them against the wall up next to her head. She knew Harry’s arm strength was off the charts, and her own hold was loose, so the gesture was largely symbolic, but Harry still melted, soft and pliant against the wall.

Louis leaned in and nosed her way to the strap of the light cotton dress Harry had worn under her bustier this time. The skin was silky and soft under her lips, and she couldn’t resist placing a little bruise right there above where the leather cup was keeping the cotton trapped against her body.

“How do I get this thing off?” Louis asked, voice a lot more desperate than she expected.

“Mmph-” Harry grunted through where she was biting her own bottom lip, with her eyes squeezed shut. “Going to have to let go of me,” she whispered regretfully. “Hooks in the back.”

Louis traced the boning lines in the bustier with her eyes as she formulated a plan. “Okay.” She let go of one of Harry’s wrists just long enough to nudge one of her shoulders and flip her body around before pressing her back into the wall.

Louis immediately leaned in to push Harry’s thick braid away and suck another bruise, this time into the base of her neck. She let go of Harry’s hands completely so that she could use both of her own hands to get the corset off.

Harry lifted her hands to brace them against the wall while Louis began to fiddle with the finicky little hooks. She began to swear under her breath as she made her way through all ten of them. It wasn’t the sexiest thing that had ever happened to her, but it made Harry giggle, so it wasn’t too bad.

When the last hook was finally free, the corset gave way, and Louis threw it across the room. She flipped Harry back over as quickly as she could.

She wasn’t sure really, why she assumed Harry was wearing a bra under the dress when she clearly hadn’t worn one when she had the bustier on by itself the first day. But she was completely unprepared for the way Harry’s hardened nipples pressed against the light cotton of her dress.

Without thinking, she placed her mouth over the bud and began to tease it with her tongue through the fabric.

“Louis,” Harry whined.

“Yeah?” she replied. Still no expansion of her vocabulary, but with Harry writhing underneath her she couldn’t much bring herself to care.

When Harry didn’t say anything else, Louis ever so lightly teased at her other nipple with her teeth just to make sure it didn’t feel left out, before dropping to her knees on the dusty wooden floor.

She lowered her hands to Harry’s smooth calves, tucking them under the hem of her ruffle skirt as she began to draw them up the outside of her legs. She needed to get her mouth on Harry as soon as possible.

“Can I?” she asked, looking up Harry's long torso to where she was staring down at Louis, wide-eyed. She hummed in agreement, so Louis gathered her skirt up more quickly.

As soon as the fabric passed over Harry's thighs, Louis could see a glint of wetness.

“Harry,” she breathed. “No underwear?” It was Louis’ turn to squeeze her eyes shut and lean her forehead against Harry's hip to take a moment and collect herself.

“Like the breeze,” Harry shrugged. “Came in handy, didn't it?” she smirked.

Louis didn't answer, couldn't answer. Instead, she just rucked Harry's skirt up the last little bit she needed to be able to see all of her.

She pressed the bundle of fabric into Harry's skin. “Can you hold this for me, please?”

Harry reached down and gripped it so tightly that her knuckles immediately went white.

Louis leaned in to nuzzle at the scattered hair between Harry’s legs. It was trimmed but natural and oh so beautiful. She brought one hand up to tap Harry’s knee to get her to spread her legs a little bit more, and Harry complied instantly.

A horse neighed somewhere in the distance and the bell signaling that it was two o’clock chimed from the small church in town.

Louis wasn’t sure how much uninterrupted time they had left, so she quickly dragged her tongue up one inner thigh and then the other, tasting Harry, feeling the muscles jump under her tongue. Not willing to wait once she had a sample, she moved her mouth to Harry’s center, finally settling where she had wanted to be for days.

Her goal was to get Harry off as fast as she possibly could with her tongue, so she didn’t even bother teasing. As she stroked Harry with her tongue, she hooked a hand up to expose her clit. She drew a few long licks until she finally laved her tongue across it.

Harry had been making soft whimpery noises until Louis had finally given her what she wanted, and she gave a surprised yelp in response, letting go of one side of the skirt, letting it fall to bring her hand down to bury in Louis’ hair. Her hair that was unfortunately drawn up in her signature short ponytail, so Harry couldn’t get much purchase, but Harry's long fingers continued to dig enough that Louis could feel it loosen.

“Oh God, Louis. Fuck." Harry was panting heavily, her upper body squirming against the wall that was still holding her up, miraculously. “Right there,” she cried out, gripping Louis even harder and pulling her whole head in closer toward her body.

Louis could barely breathe, too close in, only smelling, tasting Harry. She could tell Harry was close and she had worked herself up enough that she brought her free hand to the button on her jeans, but she couldn’t get it one handed.

Frustrated, she forced her hand into the waistband of her shorts and then her panties, glad for the millionth time that she didn’t like to wear super tight denim shorts. She only just managed to find her own clit with her fingers. The angle was awkward, and her forearm would definitely be sore in the morning, but the relief on contact was almost instantaneous.

She did her best to keep a steady rhythm on Harry’s clit with her tongue while she rubbed her own. It was a little bit like trying to pat her head and rub her stomach, but then Harry started to ride her face and Louis was able to just stay still and concentrate on her own hand to get herself off.

They found their groove just long enough for Harry to give one last shout as she began to spasm around Louis’ tongue and come, hard. She brought her knees in, clamping her thighs around Louis’ ears as she began to slide down the wall.

Louis couldn’t pry her right hand out of her jeans fast enough and didn’t really care to if she was honest, so she caught Harry under the arm with her left hand as they collapsed together in a pile of limbs and random pieces of clothing on the floor.

Her body was still on fire, and her fingers were still moving in her jeans as Harry tried her best to untangle herself. When Harry had shifted her weight enough that she was braced mostly above Louis on the floor, she leaned down to kiss Louis, licking into her mouth right away. Tasting herself on Louis' lips and tongue. 

Louis finally let herself moan into Harry's mouth as she picked up the pace, frantically rubbing herself.

Harry had recovered enough that she could help Louis, so she tugged Louis’ bra straps down off her shoulders and pushed a cup out of the way, sucking sharp kisses across Louis’ chest before tonguing at her nipple.

“Yes, that’s it,” Louis cried out desperately. “There, there, there,” she breathed as Harry nipped a circle around her nipple before teething right at the bud.

Suddenly, it was all too much, and Louis’ orgasm slammed through her as she jerked her hips up a few times before flattening them to the floor and arching her back, riding out the wave.

When the aftershocks finally faded, she realized Harry had worked her way across Louis' chest and was tonguing the other nipple around the edge of her bra cup, wetting the blue cotton fabric. Louis' pelvic muscles clenched half-heartedly, and she groaned.

Harry let her weight collapse when she felt that Louis was finally done, resting her head on Louis’ little pancake boobs.

Louis was the first one to start laughing. Harry followed soon after with a few low belly chuckles.

“Holy shit,” Louis said, staring at the wooden beams of the structure.

“Yeah,” Harry mumbled against Louis’ sternum. Her braid was almost completely frayed, draped over her shoulder and on to Louis’. She lifted her weight a bit so that she could reach her hand between their bodies and undo the button and fly of Louis’ jean shorts, freeing her hand. Louis thanked her before twisting her wrist around a few times to stretch out the muscles.

“Can I have your number?” Louis blurted out before she thought better of it. She lifted her head to try and see Harry’s face. “I mean, I’m sure there’s a better time to ask…”

Harry giggled before pressing her lips directly onto Louis’ chest to bury her smile. “Yeah.” They laid there staring at each other for another few minutes before Harry’s face went slack and her eyes bugged out. “Fuck! Time! What time is it?” She looked around frantically until she found the clock on the wall that read 2:40pm.

Harry immediately leaped up, letting her cotton shift fall, floating loosely around the front of her body. It was covered in dirt and soot. “I have to get ready for the three o’clock.”

“Oh my God,” Louis joined her in her panic. They began rushing around the hut to get dressed, but when Louis looked up, she saw just how dirty and wrinkly Harry’s dress was.

“I think I need a new dress,” Harry mumbled, taking in her own disheveled appearance. She grabbed the hem and flung the dress up and off her body leaving her completely naked save her brown work boots. Louis was supposed to be helping her, but instead, all she could do was stop and stare at Harry’s fully naked form.

“Um…” Really. Louis was quite intelligent most days. Days when she couldn’t see bruises blooming on Harry’s skin that she had made. With her own mouth.

Harry waved her free hand dismissively at Louis while she pulled another dress off a hanger in the small closet. “No time for that! Help me!”

Help. Right. Louis could help. She picked Harry’s trusty bustier up off the ground and brushed it off while Harry tugged on a new underdress. She grabbed the bustier and flattened it against her chest before turning around and pulling her hair over her shoulder, indicating that Louis should hook it up.

Louis went through another round of swearing as she battled with the hooks for the second time, but she did get Harry done up properly. Unfortunately.

Louis swatted Harry’s hands away as she gathered her hair up and braided it quickly into a fishtail braid. Harry’s hair was long enough that Louis could make the braid it easily, having practiced on her younger sisters a million times before.

Harry’s eyes lit up when she saw it. “Hey! You’re good at that, can you teach me?” she asked eagerly.

“Yeah of course, but not right now,” Louis nodded at the entrance where she could vaguely see the first people arriving at the clearing through the slats.

“Right. Will you stay and watch the demo?” Harry looked at her hopefully. “I really want to talk afterward. Still have to give you my number.”

Louis smiled at her and nodded before they both dove headfirst into gathering up Harry’s tools. Harry was about to give a public presentation at her place of work, so they both agreed it would be better if Louis snuck around the back. Harry popped a quick kiss on her mouth before pushing her out the back door and picking up the water bucket.

Harry was just finishing getting everything set-up as Louis swung around the back of the seating area, walking straight into Niall and Liam who were standing there with their arms crossed.

“And where have you been, young lady?” Niall asked with an affected concerned tone.

Louis' eyes widened. “Oh, you know, exploring. Between demos. I saw the one o’clock. Needed to kill time.”

Liam snorted trying to contain his laughter. Niall couldn’t hold it in either, and they both started laughing at her. “Louis Tomlinson, you’ve got soot all in your hair at the top of your head.”

Her hand flew up to feel it. She probably should have done a better job of checking, but the light was dim in the hut when she redid her ponytail. The boys could definitely see it in the glare of the high afternoon sun, though. “Shit.”

“What exactly were you doing, or should I say who exactly were you doing that would get soot on top of your head?” Liam asked, smiling so wide he could barely form a sentence.

“Hi everyone! My name is Harry,” Louis could hear as Harry continued on with her speech, and she frantically checked to make sure Harry was put together enough that she could actually be out in public. But when Louis looked over, it was clear that everything was fine. Harry was a bit disheveled, but not any more than might be indicative of the manual labor required for her job.

Louis ignored her best friends and focused intently on watching Harry’s presentation.

“She sure looks relaxed this hour, wonder why?” Niall asked rhetorically. Louis was going to punch him in the nuts when he least expected it. Maybe right before they got on the plane to go home.

Home. Away from Harry. That sent a little pang through Louis’ chest. Did she really want to get into a long distance relationship? Did Harry?

She watched the rest of the demo with a bittersweet taste in her mouth, Harry’s actual taste fading off her tongue by the minute.

When it was done Harry answered her usual questions after, and Louis stayed behind to talk to her. She tried to shoo Niall and Liam, but they weren’t going anywhere.

Finally, Harry waved them over, and they approached her presentation area.

“Hello,” she greeted Niall and Liam as she pushed her body against the barrier as close to Louis as she could get. Louis was right earlier. It really was right at her… hips.

“Hi Harry,” Niall replied first, holding his hand out for a shake. Louis could tell when his face changed halfway through as he realized where that hand very well could have been. She threw her head back and laughed as Harry watched on, confused.

Throwing caution to the wind, Louis boosted herself up a bit using the barrier and gave Harry a brief kiss. “You’re safe, Niall.” She said when she had righted herself.

Harry and Liam caught on at the same time, both turning a shade of pink.

“I’m Niall; he’s Liam. We’ve heard a lot about you,” Niall said, trying to smooth over the slightly awkward moment.

“Nice to meet you,” Harry replied with her sunshiney smile, dimples popping out.

Niall tilted his head. “You’ve already met Louis.”

“Yeah,” Harry replied, as her lips curled up at her own simple answer. It was a great, versatile word.

“Hey, your braid is different!” Liam piped up. “Louis does those braids on her sisters all the time.” All three of them stared at him for a moment as he made the connection.

“You have sisters?” Harry asked Louis directly.

Louis nodded. “Loads. Like, five? And a brother.”

“That’s amazing I love big families. Do you get to see them often?” Harry asked, still addressing Louis directly.

“Yes, she does. They live half an hour away from us in the suburbs,” Niall piped up. He probably thought he was helping Louis by pushing the big families thing, but really all it did was remind Louis that she wouldn’t be around Harry for much longer.

“The suburbs? Which suburbs?” Harry asked.

“Around Boston,” Louis mumbled.

Harry gasped, eyes lit up again, “You’re from Boston?”

“Seriously, what did you guys talk about?” Niall asked, exasperatedly.

“Um…” Louis replied, not knowing what to say because the answer was very close to nothing. “Could you guys give us a minute?”

They both didn’t want to go, but Louis made pleading faces at them until they left.

“I’m so sorry about that--” Louis started to apologize before Harry cut her off with a deep kiss. “Mmph--Harry,” she made a valiant effort into attempting to communicate before she let herself relax into Harry’s hold.

Louis finally drew away. “We really should talk about this. I really like you, so much, and I really want to make this work, but the distance thing is obviously an issue, and I don’t really know what to do, and you’re so beautiful, and we haven’t even been on a date yet, or had a real conversation actually.” Louis trailed off when she realized she wasn’t making sense anymore.

Harry just stood there smirking at her before dropping her hands down to rest on Louis’ hips. “What would you say to our first date. Tomorrow night.”

Louis groaned. “I can’t tomorrow night. That’s our last night, and we’ve got this big tent, and we’re going camping at the boarding house campground.”

“Well, um, I have a tent?” Harry smiled mischievously.

Louis’ outlook on the situation was entirely less grim than it had been a second ago. “And I wouldn’t have to share with the boys!”

Harry laughed, “Glad to see where your priorities are.”

Louis kissed her quiet again.

 

Two nights later, she and Harry were sprawled out on Harry’s air mattress cocooned in her tent. It was still summer in Colorado, so it wasn’t the coolest she had ever been, but being naked definitely helped with the body temperature situation. The sex might not have, but she wasn't complaining.

“Hey, Lou?” Harry whispered. “You awake?”

“Yeah,” Louis answered pressing a kiss to her back. It was much more fleeting than she expected as Harry moved away before turning over to face her.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to pressure you, but I also can’t lie anymore.”

Louis immediately began to panic, second-guessing everything that had happened, wondering what Harry could have lied about over the past two days. She didn’t get very far - her post-coital brain was a bit sluggish - before Harry continued.

“I know this could just be a vacation fling for you, and that's okay. Please just be honest with me? But…," she took a deep breath, "I’m going to MassArt in the fall.”

Louis shot up in bed, making the air mattress creak underneath her shifting weight. “What?!”

“Yeah, I’m going for my Masters in 3D Fine Arts with a concentration in jewelry and metalsmithing,” she added, repeating the title by rote but getting quieter and quieter.

It occurred to Louis then that Harry would be around. Around Boston. Available. To date, and kiss, and stuff. And Harry thought Louis might not want that.

Louis waited for another heartbeat before throwing herself over Harry where she was still laying flat on her back, pressing kisses into her face. “Can take you everywhere. Favorite bar. Shops. Art supply stores, wherever those are. My apartment.”

Harry giggled as she playfully tried to push Louis away.

“So,” Harry said breathlessly. “How would you feel about having our second date be in about… two months?”

“Yeah,” Louis nodded before leaning down to kiss her for real.

She paused a second later, though, when Niall yelled from across the clearing; “Hey! Quiet down over there! We set up all the way over here for a reason!”

That sent Louis and Harry into another round of laughter.

Best annual vacation ever.