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Take me to Church

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Do you ever feel like breaking down?

Do you ever feel out of place?

Like somehow you just don't belong

And no one understands you- Simple Plan

Louis sighs as he looks in the mirror, debating about whether or not he should change his outfit for a third time. The first day of school is always nerve wracking, but adding the extra stress of it being his first day at a new school and his senior year, it’s downright nauseating. Being an Army brat, he should be used to this by now, but he isn’t. It never gets easier. He has been to five different high schools alone, not to mention middle schools.

He remembers when his mom married Mark. He was happy for her. She seemed happy, and it meant he was getting a new dad. He had no idea, at the time, that he would be ripped away from all of his friends and everything he held dear. All of the schools and faces over the years have just kind of blended together, no one really standing out. He never allowed himself to even get attached to anyone. He is so excited to go to college next fall, so that maybe, just maybe, he can finally lay roots down. Have actual friends that he won’t have to leave in a couple of months. He can dream.

He takes a deep breath, checking out his appearance again. He glances at the clock knowing his mother will call him down to breakfast any minute now. He pulls at his shirt, not knowing what exactly the kids at his new school would be wearing. He then runs small fingers through his brown hair, going for a somewhat messy look.

“Louis! Time for breakfast!” His mom shouts from downstairs, just like he knew she would. He hates it. He has to be down to breakfast at exactly the same time every single day. His mom and step-dad are somewhat controlling. Well, his step-dad really, his mom just tries to keep the peace. He stares at his reflection again, hoping that he wouldn’t stand out at this new school. He just wants to blend in until he is moved to the next location. Who knows, maybe this time, he would get to stay an entire school year.

“Louis William Tomlinson, don’t make your mother ask you again!” Mark’s booming voice travels up the stairs in into his room, making Louis wince.

“Yeah, sorry! I’m coming,” He calls back, turning and leaving his room, going down stairs. He walks into the kitchen, where they always eat breakfast, to find his four sisters, mother, and Mark all already sat around the table.

“‘Bout time, Lou. You know we aren’t allowed to eat until everyone is down here, and we say grace. I’m starving,” Lottie moans. If Louis wasn’t in front of their parents, he would flip her off, but instead he just rolls his eyes and plops down in the open chair, avoiding Mark’s glare.

Everyone holds hands as Mark begins, “Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to wake up this morning and thank you for this meal. We thank you for our health and happiness. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”

It’s the same every morning, so Louis mumbles his ‘Amen’ and starts eating right away, trying to avoid the small talk with his family if at all possible. No such luck, though.

“I signed you up for football,” his mom starts, glancing in his direction. He barely stops himself from rolling his eyes, knowing Mark would chastise him for it.

“Why?” Louis asks, through gritted teeth. He kinda likes the sport itself, always being an active person, but he hates having to leave his team once Mark gets relocated. He would rather just avoid it all together.

“Because it is a good way to make friends, and it is a safe after school activity for you to take part in,” his mom answers easily, her tone leaving no room for argument.

“Fine,” Louis grumbles looking down at his plate of food, suddenly not hungry.

“First practice is today, after school. You’re father talked to the coach yesterday since you already missed two-a-days, but he is willing to let you play given you prove your skills. Don’t forget about it. We expect you home right after,” she says, and Louis knows . Of course he knows, he has had the same rule since he was a child. How dare he try to do anything fun after school that isn’t school sponsored? He has never been to a school dance because his parents fear that he may get drunk or lose his virginity. Their stupid rules didn’t do them any good though, because he has already lost his virginity and been drunk.

“I know, Mom,” Louis tells her, suppressing yet another eye roll. Jesus, he will be lucky to make it through breakfast without getting grounded.

“Oh, and join your school’s Bible Club,” Mark adds, pointing one chubby finger at Louis.

“Sure,” Louis answers robotically because he is just done with this already, and he hasn’t even gone to school. He manages to evade the rest of the conversation, his parent’s attention going to that of his little sisters. After he forces down enough food to appease his mother, he practically runs out the door and to his car, silently praying that no one from his family stops him. He lets out a sigh of relief when he is safely in his car, the door slamming behind him.

He pulls out his school schedule, glancing over it to see what he has first period. Choir. Fuck . Must be one of those stupid general courses every high school student has to take. Why couldn’t it be art or something? The rest of the classes seem fine. Looks like he is in Honors courses at this high school. His eyes rove down the list of courses: Physics, Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, Spanish, English, Creative Writing, and a free period.

He takes a deep breath before he puts the car into gear, making his way towards the location of the high school. It is a very small town, so the high school is equally as small. Hick-town USA it seems, where everyone knows everyone, and when a new person walks in, it’s deathly quiet as they all stare in the direction of the new person. When his mom enrolled him, she had said he would only have about 100 people in his entire class. That almost makes this worse. In bigger schools, it’s easy to blend in. Smaller schools are a whole different universe. Everyone knows everyone, so, when a new kid comes along, that person is easily identifiable. This thought makes Louis feel sick all over again.

He parks his car in the student parking section of the lot and takes a few more calming breaths, trying to slow his racing heart before he steps onto the pavement. Like he does with all new schools, once he leaves the safety of his vehicle, he keeps his eyes down and starts walking, not wanting to be met with the staring and pointing that inevitably happens with ‘the new kid’. He only glances up to follow the signs for the main office, which is where he was told to go.

“Hi. I’m a new student here,” Louis tells the older lady at the front desk. She is wearing red thick rimmed glasses with red lipstick to match. She smiles, and Louis notices a few lipstick spots on her teeth. He hair is also red and teased up. The higher the hair, the closer to heaven, he supposes. She looks like she just strolled out of the 80s.

“Lewis Tomlinson?” She asks, thick southern accent prominent as she types something into her computer that looks about as old as her. Well maybe not that old, but still not as high tech as it could be.

“It’s actually Louis,” he corrects, rolling his eyes. He is so used to people getting his name wrong, but it will always annoy him just a bit.

“Oh, I’m sorry, darlin’,” she apologizes, smiling again, her lipstick dotted yellow teeth looking even more stained in contrast to the redness of the makeup.

“It’s okay, ma’am,” He answers politely, beginning to tap his fingers on the surface of her desk, needing a release for his nervous energy.

“Okay,” She stands up from her desk, and for the first time, Louis notices she is also wearing something that looks like it is from the 80s. Jesus, he loves the decade, but this is a bit much. She walks around her desk and uses one long boney finger to motion for someone to come in. Louis turns to see a student with longish brown hair and deep brown eyes make his way through the glass door way of the office, smiling at him. He returns his smile, because at least he isn’t looking at him curiously like everyone else.

“Louis. This is Liam Payne. He is going to show you around a bit then take you to your first class,” The woman says, gesturing towards the other boy.

“Hiya. Nice to meetcha,” Liam greets, eyes crinkling with his smile. He grabs Louis’ outstretched hand for a shake, and Louis instantly likes him. Something about him seems warm and caring. Maybe they will be friends. Well, that is if Louis allows it. He hates the thought of leaving yet another person behind.

“Hi. Nice to meet you too,” Louis returns, smiling as well.

“Come on. I’ll give you a quick tour. Shouldn’t take very long since the school ain’t very big. We have pretty much the same schedule, and I play football, so I think that’s why they picked me,” Liam says gesturing for Louis to follow him.

“Makes sense.”

“Yeah. So this is a super small school. Shouldn’t take you long to learn your way around. Let’s start with your locker,” Liam says, walking down a hallway to the right, lined with trophy cases. “You’ll find that you will be in class with generally the same people all day, every day. It’s based on test scores. They want to make sure kids are taking classes with other kids who are on their level, academically. The only classes that’ll differ are general courses, like foreign languages and fine arts.” Louis nods along, listening to Liam ramble about the school and pointing to various things, mostly understanding through his accent. They go to Louis’ locker, where he successfully opens to combination, then they go on a quick tour. Louis is thankful that it seems class has already started, so he doesn’t have to deal with the staring.

“Alright, time to go to our first class, I suppose,” Liam says with a chuckle although Louis didn’t find the statement all that funny. They walk into the choir classroom, and a hush instantly falls, all of the student’s eyes trained on them.

 

__________

 

Harry hits the snooze button on his alarm for the fifth time that morning, not wanting to go to school at all. He groans looking at the clock. He doesn’t have time to shower or anything before he has to catch the bus. Fuck . Why does school have to start so godsdamned early? He rubs his entire face in a weak attempt at waking himself up. He really should have gone to bed last night at a halfway decent time, but he was reading and didn’t want to stop. Not like anyone would make him go to bed anyways.

He rolls out of bed and finds the nearest pair of black skinny jeans laying on the floor. He stumbles to his dresser, pulling out one of his many black band t-shirts. He doesn’t even pay attention to which one it is as he pulls it over his mop of curls. He grabs all of his bracelets, putting them on one at a time, making sure they take up most of his forearms, covering his scars. Next he puts on his necklaces, pulling them over his head so that they lay flat against his t-shirt. He slips each ring on, one by one, enjoying the feeling of the cool metal against his skin.

He goes to the bathroom to brush his teeth, squinting at the harsh overhead light. He looks bad. Despite the fact that it’s summer, his skin is pale and there is a dark ring around his eyes. Oh well, he shrugs. He isn’t trying to impress anyone. No one will even notice him, like normal. He is just the weird kid. Most people at his school simply try to ignore his existence or they are scared of him. They think he is a Satanist or something, going to cast a spell on them. He doesn’t care. It gets them to leave him the fuck alone.

He finishes his minimal bathroom routine, and goes down to the kitchen to grab an apple, not having time for actual breakfast. His mom has left him a note on the fridge, saying she is working both jobs today, so she won’t home until late. He sighs, mentally preparing himself for another lonely evening. Maybe he will find something to get into, but probably not. He isn't sure that his mom loves him, she is never around, but to be fair, she is a single mom. She has had to work two job since his dad left when he was a teenager, just to put food on the table for him and his sister. Since Gemma has moved out, things have been easier on her, but she still works a lot.

He eats his apple as he makes his way to the bus stop, his friend Niall greeting him with a huge smile. Harry just rolls his eyes, but allows his lips to curl into a soft smile. Niall is like an over excited puppy, but he is Harry’s best friend. His only friend, really. Niall is one of those rare people who can fit in with anyone and any crowd. He is friends with everyone at school, and fits into all the cliques easily. He sticks with Harry the most, probably because Harry is a bit of a loner, and Niall is too nice to let him be by himself all of the time.

“Hey, I didn’t think you’d make it,” Niall says, hugging his friend like he didn’t just see him yesterday. Niall knows that Harry hates hugs, but that doesn’t stop him for a second.

“Yeah. I was up late last night,” Harry responds shrugging his hunched up shoulders.

“With a boy?” Niall asks with an exaggerated wink.

“Fuck off, and keep that shit down. I am trying to not die on my first day of school,” Harry whispers, but Niall just rolls his eyes.

“Come on, you know I’d protect’cha.”

“If you could keep your big fucking mouth shut, then I wouldn’t need protection,” Harry hisses, but there is no bite in his tone. He loves Niall too much to actually be mad. Not that he actually gives a flying fuck what people think of him. His sexuality would be just one more thing to add to the list of ‘weird’ if they were to know. He just doesn’t want to deal with that kind of crisis in his senior year. He would rather just move far away for college, and become his own person.

“So what classes are you in?” Niall asks talking over the loud noise the breaks of the bus makes as it pulls to a stop in front of them. They both get on, Niall heading straight to the back with Harry hot on his heels. Niall greets everyone while Harry tries not to make eye contact.

“Here,” Harry says thrusting his schedule at Niall.

“Oh sweet, we have all the same classes except for Art and Creative writing!” Niall exclaims, clearly happy about this turn of events.

“Awesome. Maybe I won’t be terribly miserable,” Harry says, closing his eyes and resting his head on the seat in front of him. He just wants to go back to bed. Niall chats on and on about how he hopes the first day of school is going to go. Harry doesn’t even think Niall would realize it if he put his earbuds in to block out the noise, but he doesn’t want to do that to his friend. He may be an ass, but he isn’t that rude.

They get off the bus and walk to choir class together, stopping at Niall’s new locker first. Harry doesn’t bother going to his; he didn’t bring anything except his ancient cell phone, a pen, a notebook, and his brown, leather bound journal he takes everywhere with him. Harry is actually looking forward to this class and creative writing, but he doesn’t voice this. He has had choir since the beginning of his high school career, even though he only had to take it once. He enjoys music and singing. The ease of the class also breaks up some of his harder ones like physics and chemistry.

The room is set up with three rows of brown chairs all facing the front of the room. Harry and Niall immediately go to the section where the baritone’s will be seated, since they have both been in the class before. Mr. Tennant will probably make them test their vocal range again, since it can change with age, but both boys are pretty confident this is where they will end up. Niall keeps talking, because he literally never shuts up, as more people begin to filter into the room, Niall greeting each of them, starting a conversation. Seriously, how does he have the energy this early in the morning?

Harry, for his part, just ignores everyone with his eyes trained firmly to the front of the room waiting for class to start, thinking about how boring this year is going to be. He contemplates, for the fourteenth time that morning, putting his ears buds in and drowning out everything with some rather loud music, but he knows that class will start soon, and Mr. Tennant would just make him turn it off. Sure enough, a few moments later, the last bell rings signaling the beginning of class. Mr. Tennant takes row, then starts bringing each student up, one by one, to test their vocal range, sitting them in the appropriate seat afterward.

When it’s Harry’s turn, he walks to the front of the room, hating the feeling of all eyes on him. Thankfully the other students are allowed to talk amongst themselves while their peers are being tested, still doesn’t ease his apprehension though. Niall gives him a thumbs up, which kind of helps. He pushes down the anxiety making its way up his throat and walks up to the piano. Mr. Tennant does an excellent job of making it painless because he understands that not everyone is a good singer nor do they like being in front of people. Mr. Tennant, however, has told Harry on multiple occasions that he is a great singer, and he would give him a solo if he just asked. Harry ignores his comments, being perfectly happy to just be the weird kid in the corner.

“Baritone,” Mr. Tennant starts with a smile, “But you can go as low as some bass notes. Well done.”

“Thanks,” Harry mumbles making his way back to his seat, feeling as though  his cheeks are on fire at the compliment. Niall is called next, his results being a steady baritone. Before he knows it, everyone in the room is seated in their appropriate sections. Like normal, most of the girls are sopranos with a few contraltos. Most of the boys are like him and Niall, baritones, with one and two basses and one or two tenors mixed in.

Mr. Tennant is in the front of room, beginning their lecture when the door opens. All eyes are on the pair entering the room. One guy Harry recognizes as Liam Payne. He is a jock in his senior year as well. He has never explicitly made fun of Harry, but he has also never really talked to him outside of the classrooms. He has a good voice though. His falsetto is killer. The other guy, however, Harry doesn’t recognize, which is odd for a small town. He is quiet attractive, even though he is preppy and clearly a jock. He is short with shapely legs, brown hair, lightly tanned skin and freckles. His eyes though. His eyes are a clear shade of blue, framed with ridiculously long eyelashes. Okay. He is cute. Very, very cute, but completely off limits. A guy like that would never even talk to Harry, let alone actually date him. He is probably straight anyways, like everyone else in the godsforsaken town.

“Mr. Tennant,” Liam addresses, “Sorry I’m late, sir. I was showin’ our new student around the school. This is Louis Tomlinson.” Liam then goes to take seat beside Niall, knowing that Mr. Tennant probably wouldn’t make him test his range.

“Hi, Louis. Nice to meet you. I am glad you could join us in Choir this morning,” Mr. Tennant smiles reassuringly. “Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, then we can test your vocal range.”

Harry watches a blush creep up Louis’ freckled cheeks, turning them the prettiest shade of dark pink, to match his lips. Louis doesn’t seem to want to do this, but he finally turns towards the class as a whole and gives them a tentative smile. “Hi,” He starts with a small wave, “As already established my name’s Louis. I hate doing these things. I am an army brat, so I’ve moved around a lot. My family just moved here last weekend. I guess I will be playing football.” His voice is high and raspy, his accent very different than anyone Harry has ever heard that wasn’t on the television. He didn’t really have an accent, that’s the thing. Everyone in the town sounded like a donkey eating an apple, but Louis is different.

“Very good. Come over here, and we can test your range to see where you will be seated,” Mr. Tennant instructs. Louis does as he is asked and makes his way to the piano in the front of the room. When he starts to sing, Harry is mesmerized by it. His voice is the most beautiful kind of oxymoron. It is light and raspy but somehow bright with great projection. He sounds how silk feels, and it gives Harry shivers.

“Don’t see new kids very often ‘round here,” Niall’s voice breaks into his subconscious, effectively taking his attention away from Louis and his voice.

“What? Oh, no. You don’t. Seems like another jock though, so he should fit right in,” Harry replies, bitterness leaking into his tone.

“Ya never know, he may be different,” Niall observes right as Mr. Tennant compliments Louis on his voice and sat him with the tenors of the class, on the other side of the room from the baritones.

__________

 

So that wasn’t the most terrible thing. Sure he has never sung, but he didn’t think it was that bad. It definitely could have been worse. The entire classroom could have laughed at him. He makes his way towards the tenor section of the room, looking for Liam, because, at this moment, he is the only familiar face. Liam is sat with the baritones, so therefore, on the other side of the classroom. Of fucking course.

Louis finally lets his gaze wander over the rest of the class. Some of the girls are looking at him and smiling. He smiles back, knowing that Mark is going to ask him about a girlfriend in a few weeks. He sees Liam is sitting next to a loud guy with bleached hair and braces. He seems to be the life of the classroom though, talking to everyone, and making them laugh. Louis likes him already and hopes they have more classes together. Louis is known to be loud and bit of a class clown once he gets used to the school, so he could see them joking around together.

Finally, his gaze lands on the person hunched over in the chair beside the blond guy. His black skinny jeans makes his legs look incredibly long. His arms are crossed over his black t-shirt clad chest with rings on almost every one of his long fingers. His eyes cast down seemingly interested in the chair in front of him, so Louis can’t make out their color. His hair is a dark mess of curls making his skin look even paler, almost translucent. His red lips are shaped into a small pout and his brows are drawn, as if in concentration. He isn’t speaking like everyone else in the class.

Louis suddenly wishes Liam was beside him so he could ask about this guy. There is just something about him that has caught Louis attention. Louis wants to get to know him, but isn’t sure how to go about it. Maybe they will have more classes together. As if he can feel Louis’ gaze on him, Curly looks up, green eyes locking with his own. It almost takes Louis breath away, but then the guy glares. Louis briefly wonders if he did something wrong, but doesn’t drop his gaze. Curly, in one fluid motion, takes one long hand and flicks Louis off. He doesn’t even bother glancing to see if the teacher is watching. Louis can’t believe the nerve of this guy, so he gives him a look as if to say ‘oh yeah?’ then flips him off with both hands. Curly rolls his eyes and looks away, crossing his long arms over his chest again.

Louis continues to watch the guy for the rest of class. He only sees him talk a few times, and it is always to the blond guy he is sitting next to. He never addresses anyone else, and they never address him. Louis doesn’t even know what his voice sounds like because he is too far away, which is a fucking travesty. He would bet money that his voice is as dark and dangerous as he looks. He wonders if he will have a thick southern drawl like everyone else. If that’s the case, then the accent has suddenly become more appealing to Louis.

After class, Liam comes up to him and ask to see his schedule. Louis gives it to him, already knowing that next they would be going to Chemistry. He watches as the rest of the class filters out, mostly keeping his eyes on the tall curly haired kid who flicked him off. Now that he is closer, he takes in a bit more of his appearance. His jawline could cut glass. The black t-shirt he is wearing has a menacing logo of a band on it that Louis doesn’t recognize. A few necklaces are hung around his long neck, one looks like some sort of star with a circle around it. The symbol looks familiar, but Louis can’t place where he had seen it before. His skin is pale, the dark bracelets dawning his thin wrist a stark contrast. He is beautiful in a haunting sort of way.  A shiver goes down Louis’ spine when their eyes meet one more time as he exits with his friend. His eyes are green, the color of a dark forest or a mysterious lake.

“Who is that kid?” Louis interrupts. He feels kind of bad because he hasn’t been paying any attention to Liam, but whatever. He is curious, and there is something magnetic about the boy.

“What kid?” Liam asks, confused.

“The one with curly hair. Quiet. Wearing all black,” Louis describes trying not to get impatient. He just wants to know his name.

“Oh. Harry. Harry Styles. He’s a bit weird and a loner. He’s friends with Niall though, and Niall’s cool,” Liam supplies starting to exit the classroom.

“Harry,” Louis says letting the name roll off his tongue. He likes it. It fits. “Niall’s the blond guy?”

“Oh yeah. He’s friends with everyone, so you’ll definitely meet him at some point,” Liam answers. Louis lets this information roll over in his mind as they make their way to their next class. He is surprised to see Harry in the room when they arrive, already seated in the back beside Niall.

 

__________

 

Harry notices as soon as Louis and Liam walk through the door. Fucking great. This is just shitting perfect. Louis is in honors classes, so I will literally spend all day with him . He quickly averts his gaze when he sees Louis looking around the room, probably finding a seat. He glances up again, seeing Louis tap Liam’s chest and gestures for him to follow. Liam does, seemingly confused when Louis started moving towards Harry and Niall.

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Louis can’t. He wouldn’t. Fuck he did. He sat right behind Harry, while Liam took the seat across from him, behind Niall. No one ever sits behind Harry. One would think he has the plague or something equally as devastating, so he is used to most people avoiding him. It’s weird that Louis chose to set behind him instead. He wants to scream. He shoots Niall a puzzled expression, but Niall just smiles.

“Hey, man. I’m Niall,” he introduces, sticking his hand out for Louis to shake. Fucking Niall. Always having to be polite and friendly and shit.

“Nice to meet you,” Louis responds politely, his clear voice ringing in Harry’s ears. He refuses to turn around though, keeping his eyes trained on the chalkboard in front of him.

“This is my friend Harry,” he hears Niall say, and Harry shoots him a death glare. He would have been perfectly content with Louis never even knowing his name.

“He doesn’t talk much,” Louis observes, but Harry still refuses to look in his direction. He doesn’t trust his intentions. Ever since middle school, he has been harassed by the popular kids. Sick jokes always being played on him, some taking it too far. Quite frankly, he just doesn’t trust a single one of them. Why should this Louis guy be any different? He is probably a sheep just like the rest of them.

“Oh, he does. You just have to get him to open up,” Niall assures rolling his eyes when Harry flicks him off, still refusing to speak. Thank the gods that the teacher starts the course, letting Louis introduce himself again. He pretty much says the same thing, as if he has it memorized. Harry briefly wonders just how often Louis changes schools, since he is an army brat, but quickly forgets the thought. Not wanting to give him even that.

Mrs. Harris is notorious for never making her students do much, even in a more difficult course like chemistry. She spends the first day of class briefly going over her lesson plans, the allows them all to ‘talk and catch up from the summer break’. Harry kind of hates her because Louis is behind him. He can feel Louis’ gaze on the back of his head, but he still refuses to turn around. Niall and Liam are talking about something sports related, so Harry opens his journal intending to get some thoughts down.

“What are you doing?” He hears a high raspy voice from behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Louis peeking over his shoulder. He quickly moves to cover the page from his prying eyes.

“Nothing,” he responds, positioning his body over the journal and keeping his gaze down.

“Doesn’t look like nothing,” Louis says, then he feels a warm hand on his shoulder, attempting to move his body. Harry doesn’t budge though, and tries to ignore the spark of electricity that moves down his spine from the touch. “Come on.”

“Why are you even talking to me?” Harry asks shutting his journal and finally turning around, giving Louis what he hopes is a death glare. Louis’ blue eyes are wide with shock, probably not expecting the question.

“Because I want to.”

“No, you don’t. I promise. I am not interesting or popular. I don’t have the hook up for drugs. I am not rich. You’re smart, since you are in these classes, so I doubt I could do your homework better than you. There is no reason for you to be talking to me,” Harry rants, words falling from his lips quickly, even for him. He is just sick of this shit. He wants Louis to understand that he has nothing to offer him, and he should probably just leave him alone.

“Relax there, Curly. I don’t want anything from you. Just want to talk,” Louis says lifting two small hands up at chest level, blue eyes wide with his thin dark pink lips quirked into a small smile.

“No one ever wants to talk to me, and my name’s not Curly,” Harry tells him rolling his eyes and turning back around, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“Well I do,” Louis insist, tapping him on the shoulder. This guy just won’t stop. Liam will probably inform him after class how uncool it is to talk to Harry. “Look we got off on the wrong foot back in Choir class. I would like to properly introduce myself. I’m Louis.”

“Yes. We have established that. I know who you are,” Harry says with an exasperated sigh, turning back around to face Louis. He’s going to get whiplash if he keeps this up.

“Ah, but I don’t know anything about you.” Louis smiles, and, fuck, it’s devastating. His teeth are straight and white, the smile making his blue eyes crinkle at the corners.

“You want to keep it that way, trust me. I’m a nobody. The weird kid that everyone thinks worships Satan or some shit. Talking to me on your first day will ruin your image,” Harry maintains, placing his palms on Louis’ desk, trying to get him to understand.

“First, I don’t give a fuck about my image, well not entirely. Second, do you? Worship Satan I mean?”

“What?” Harry asks, taken aback by this turn of events. Who the fuck is this Louis guy? The confusion must be apparent on his face, because Louis just crosses his arms and narrows his eyes, waiting for Harry to answer.

“Umm-- no. You have to believe in a God to believe in Satan. Can’t worship something I don’t think exist,” Harry finally answers hoping his honesty would turn Louis away. He is probably a Christian like everyone else in the area. Yay for Bible Belt, USA.

“So, you don’t believe in God?” Louis looks shocked, yet slightly intrigued by the information. He is looking at Harry as if he is puzzle that he wants to solve. It is making Harry feel uncomfortable, shifting in his seat. He isn’t used to people taking an interest in him or asking him questions at all. His own mother barely asks him how school is going.

“No. Does that bother you?”

“I just don’t understand how. Like have you not read the Bible? Never gone to church?” Louis’ blue eyes are narrowed, but he doesn’t seem angry, just interested.

“Yes. I have read the Bible and gone to church. That’s why I’m an atheist. Look, if you want to have a philosophical discussion about the Bible and Christianity, now is not the time nor place to do it. You aren’t going to convert me into a Christian, if that is what you are hoping for. I am a lost cause. Ask literally anyone in the school,” Harry says, already tired, and it’s only the second class of the day.

“I may take you up on that philosophical conversation later,” Louis says with an easy smile. Later. What the fuck does he mean by later? There will be no later. After class, Liam will tell Louis that he shouldn’t talk to Harry because of his reputation, then he will never hear from him again. There will be no later. The bell rings then, stopping them from continuing their conversation, for this, Harry is thankful.

Much to Harry’s surprise and displeasure, they spend the rest of the day like that. Louis sits behind or beside Harry in almost every class, since there is always an empty seat near him. He doesn’t see Louis’ at lunch, thank the gods, so he just eats in his normal spot with Niall. The only classes he and Louis do not have together is Spanish, and they must go somewhere different for their free period. The rest of their classes are quite busy, so he didn’t really have to speak to Louis again, however, he could always feel his gaze. Harry just doesn’t understand why Louis is interested in him. He is sure that whatever he intent, it is malicious.

Chapter Text

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You’re so brave from your side of the glass

And you, you can’t compute, you can’t do the math

And you’re, you’re playing god with your remote control

But I already know that there's a flaw in my code and the

The truth is you silently study me

And there are consequences that you cannot see

And you ask yourself how did I unplug

But the simple truth is that I just don’t give a fuck- In this Moment

 

Harry Styles is Louis’ new favorite thing to study. He is way more fascinating than classes, his family, and anyone else at school. Louis can’t read him for the life of him; which is odd because Louis is fucking amazing at reading people. He considers it a gift, really. He has known Harry for three weeks now, and still can’t seem to get through his walls. Harry has now taken to answering his questions with one word, or putting his ear buds in during their free time of class and reading from a book, ignoring him completely. This is why Louis has decided to befriend Niall. Niall is the only one, it seems, that Harry ever speaks to. So that must mean that Niall has superpowers or something. Maybe some kind of innate ability… like the Harry Whisperer or some shit. Louis must find out his secrets.

“Louis, time for breakfast!” His mom calls from downstairs. Louis rolls his eyes because he knows what fucking time it is. He is just so sick of his parents constantly controlling his every move. He joined the football team and the Bible Club as asked, yet he can’t seem to get Harry’s words about religion out of his brain. He really wants to speak to Harry about it, but the boy has been all but ignoring him since their first day, which just makes Louis want to try harder.

He goes down stairs and through the motions of saying grace, eating breakfast, and making small talk with his family. Barely stopping himself from rolling his eyes a few times. He is almost out the door when the dreaded question comes from Mark. “So, Louis. Do you have your eye on a girl yet?”

Fuck. He hates this question. He was expecting it, but that doesn’t make it any easier. He has been putting off this whole girlfriend thing for as long as possible. He met a girl that he thinks would be the perfect candidate for his predicament. Overly religious and a cheerleader, she won’t expect sex, which is what he wants. His parents don’t know he is attracted to men. No one does. He, himself, will barely even acknowledge it because he knows it’s wrong. He hates himself because of it. It’s wrong. It says so in the Bible, but that doesn’t stop his urges. It certainly hasn’t stopped his attraction to Harry. He will just beg forgiveness for his sins later, and pray that maybe God will stop his urges.

“Yeah,” he answers his step-dad realizing that he has gone far too long in silence, causing suspicion.

“That’s my boy,” Mark smiles, clapping him on the shoulder, almost causing the smaller man to fall. Now he is going to have to ask this girl out, which kind of makes him sick. All he can think about is the curly haired, green eyed boy that seems to hate him. What will Harry think? Would he really stop talking to him now? He doesn’t even know if Harry is into guys, and he can’t seem to get a read on him.

“Umm… I may ask her out today. Her name is Leigh-Ann, and she is a junior,” Louis supplies, thinking of the girl he met last week during football practice. She was certainly flirting with him in that sickening way popular high school girls do, laughing far too much and twirling her ridiculously long blond hair that sounds as though it is actually crackling from all of the hairspray. He probably won’t ask her out until next week, but maybe it will keep Mark off his back for now. He would just fake having a girlfriend, but his parents would know .

“Cheerleader?” Mark asks with a sickening wink.

“Yeah. Well anyways, I better head to school. Don’t wanna be late,” Louis says with a tight smile because eww . He doesn’t wait for a response before he is out the door, practically running to his car. Once he gets into his car, he bangs his head on the steering wheel a few times, trying to tell the contents of his stomach that they, in fact, do not want to make another appearance this morning.  He can do this. He has ‘dated’ a girl at every single school he has been to. This is just another day to him, but something about this time seems different. Perhaps it’s because there is a guy he is actually interested in. Louis is no virgin, but he has only fucked around with guys who he knew would never tell his parents. Never an actual relationship or even feelings involved. He just needed to scratch an itch, that’s all.

He sighs, starting his car. He makes his way towards Liam’s house to pick him up for school. Louis has become quite close with Liam over the past few weeks. He would actually consider him a friend, even though he knows better than getting attached. Liam is very serious, but he tends to balance out Louis’ joking nature. He also doesn’t seem to care about Louis’ fascination with Harry, unlike the rest of the football team who have given him shit for it from the very beginning.

“Hey, man,” Louis greets, watching as Liam climbs into the passenger seat.

“Mornin’,” Liam responds, shooting Louis an easy smile.

“So…” Louis starts, not really sure how to ask his next question. He doesn’t want Liam to know of his recent obsession. He has been doing a good job of not talking about it, but he needs to know more. He decides to just go for it. Liam doesn’t seem the type to judge, but he can’t let him know too much, especially when it comes to his attraction. “What do you know about, Harry Styles?”

Liam shoots him a confused look, but answers, “Honestly? Not much. I know that he is super quiet and wears a lot of black clothes. The kids at school say he worships the devil or somethin’, but I don’t know if I believe it. Probably just gossipin’. I’ve seen him write in a diary of some sort though, so that’s kinda weird. He also likes to read. Um-- I think he comes from a poor family and his parents are divorced, but I don’t know for sure.”

Louis considers this information. Most of it he already knew from his observations. It seems that not many people actually know a single bit of useful information about Harry. Like real, solid information. Just theories. He is a mystery, and Louis loves a good mystery. He pauses before he asks his next question, not sure if it would seem like he is a bit too interested, but plows ahead because he doesn’t know another way to find out at this point. “Does he have a girlfriend?”

Liam looks like he is considering this for a moment, tilting his head to the side in thought. Louis tries to pay attention to the road, as he waits. He doesn’t want to  look overly interested in the answer, but holds his breath awaiting a verdict. “Not that I know of. Come to think of it, I don’t think he has ever had a girlfriend. Some kids say that he is gayer than a two dollar bill, but I don’t know ‘bout all of that. Why?”

“Oh no reason,” Louis responds quickly, too quickly. His heart felt like it had stopped when he heard Liam use the word gay, but he doesn’t really understand the phrase after that. A two dollar bill- what the fuck? Do they even make those? And why on earth would they be gay? Some of these redneck phrases make absolutely no sense. “He just seems interesting is all.”

“Hmm,” Liam says, and out of the corner of his eyes, he can see the other man studying him.

“Niall seems cool, too,” Louis diverts, quickly changing the subject, kind of.

“Yeah. Niall is as cool as a cucumber. He’s friends with everyone. Maybe we can all hang out after school, you know after football practice. I think you’d like him.”

Louis is unsure. On the one hand, it would be the perfect opportunity to get to know Niall and possibly even Harry, if Niall convinces him to come, but on the other hand his parents probably wouldn’t let him. He is expected to come home as soon as practice is over. He could ask them if he can hang out with Liam. They know about Liam. Met him at church last Sunday, so they may even trust him. “Let me ask my parents. They are super strict, so they may say no.”

He decides to text his mom and ask once he parks at school. She is way more understanding than Mark. Mark is also working late today, so he won’t even notice if Louis isn’t home. Louis feels his phone vibrate in his pocket on their way to class.

“Awesome. She actually said yes. As long as I don’t stay out past 7,” Louis informs, surprised by his mom’s answer.

“Great.”

“Yeah. Maybe we can ask Niall here in a minute. I may be able to sneak over and sit with you all,” Louis says with a laugh. He hates that he sits across the room from Liam. He is surrounded by girls and every single one of them tries to flirt with him. He tries to ignore them, but he can’t since he wants everyone to think he’s into them. It’s an issue. A really stupid, ridiculous fucking issue.

Once they walk through the doors of choir class, they take their assigned seats. Louis promises Liam that he will come over when Mr. Tennant starts working with the sopranos on their part. He sits in his seat and waits patiently for Harry to walk through the door, like he does every morning. Louis’ breath hitches in his chest when Harry and Niall walk through the doors. Harry is dressed the same as he dresses every day, black skinny jeans, and a band t-shirt, but today, is a bit different. Harry’s green eyes are outlined in coal black eyeliner, making the color pop. He long dark lashes add to the overall edginess of the look. Louis can’t break his gaze. He has never really been attracted to punk/goth people, but there is something about it that works for Harry. It works well.

Harry, like always, makes it a point not to look anywhere near Louis’ general direction. He sighs because he has to find a way to get Harry to talk to him. There has to be something. He wonders who had hurt Harry in the past to make him so suspicious of his fellow classmates. People don’t become so distrusting overnight. He has a sudden urge to find whoever it is and hang them from a tree by their toenails. No one deserves to be made fun of, but he has a feeling that is exactly what happened to Harry. Probably what continues to happen, and for some reason, this thought makes him incredibly sad and angry. With newfound determination, Louis makes his way towards Liam and Niall.

“Hey, how are you all?” Louis greets to both Niall and Harry. Niall waves while Harry just crosses his arms, rolls his green eyes, and looks away.

“We are just fine and dandy. Have a seat, man,” Niall says gesturing towards the empty chair in front of him and Liam. What does fine and dandy even mean? Louis is going to have to start writing this shit down, maybe get a translator or something because sometimes it feels as though they are speaking a different language. He has noticed, when he talks at least, that Hary doesn’t usually say phrases like that. His accent isn’t as thick either, like he has worked on not speaking that way. It’s still there, but more subtle.

Louis decides to get straight to the point, because that’s what he does. “So, Liam and I were gonna grab some food after practice today. You two wanna join us?” Liam nods in agreement.

“Yeah,” Niall starts, firmly hitting Harry on the arm when the other man scoffs. “We’d love to.”

“Speak for yourself, Niall,” Harry says glaring at Louis and Liam. Louis is a bit taken aback by the clear disdain in Harry’s tone. He has never met anyone in his life who had been harder to crack than Harry. It is frustrating.

“Come on, H. You never do anything after school,” Niall pleads, looking over at his friend. Harry’s frown deepens.

“No,” Harry responds, tightening his arms that are crossed over his chest, making his biceps bulge. Louis wants to lick the crease between the muscles and the bone. He wonders if Harry will taste as sinful as he looks. It suddenly dawns on him that Harry is his forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. He understands Eve’s perspective now, because if that apple looked as good as Harry, then it’s no wonder she took a bite. He sure as fuck wants one. He shakes his head, and tries to refocus on their conversation.

“Harry, you’re just bein’ plain ornery,” Niall huffs, clearly getting agitated with his friend’s stubbornness. Louis is glad, even though he isn’t exactly sure what the fuck ‘ornery’ means. From the context, though, he assumes it means stubborn. Maybe Niall can be on his side. Harry, for his part, rolls his eyes. He slowly pulls out a pair of earbuds from his pockets. He doesn’t spare them a glance as he plugs them into his phone. Louis can actually hear the moment Harry starts the music, because it is loud. He can’t make out the words or song, but it clearly has some pretty heavy guitar and drums. He sighs.

“Don’t worry, y’all. I’ll get him to come,” Niall assures, rolling his eyes at Harry.

“Why does he hate us?” Liam asks curiously, glancing over at Harry who has is eyes cast down. Liam actually looks a bit hurt by Harry’s actions, which Louis appreciates. He is hurt as well.  

“He doesn’t. It’s complicated,” Niall tells them, clearly wanting to say more but not wanting to betray his friend’s trust. While Louis understands that, it opens the door for more questions than answers. One way or another, he will figure Harry Styles out, even if it kills him.

 

___________

 

“No, Niall,” Harry tells his friend during lunch, for what feels like the two-hundred and thirty seventh time.

“Come on, H, I’m not asking you to suck their dicks. It’s just dinner,” Niall snaps obviously becoming annoyed.

“No. I don’t want to.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because.”

“Come on. That doesn’t make a lick of sense. Because why?”

“Because, Niall, I don’t fit in with them,” Harry answers through gritted teeth, wishing Niall would just drop the godsdamned subject already. Niall knows how he feels about the popular kids. He knows how they have made Harry’s life a living hell ever since middle school, so why was it so hard for him to fucking accept that he didn’t want to be a part of their little group? He didn’t owe them shit, and he doesn’t want to be their friend, thank-you-very-much.

“Oh for Pete’s sake, Harry, why the fuck does that matter? You certainly don’t care about fittin’ in here,” Niall retorts, stabbing his Salisbury steak with his fork, shoving a bite of it in his mouth, and chewing angrily.

“You know I don’t care about fitting in, Ni. That’s not the point. The point is that they probably don’t really want to hang out with me. They probably lost a bet or-- or promised their other friends that they would find out if I’m a freak. Probably just trying to become my friend, so that they will have something to use against me.” The last line comes out bitterly, leaving a bad taste in his mouth. He takes a drink of his water in hopes that the liquid will wash it away.

“Seriously?” Niall asks, outraged. Harry just nods in response. “Heavens to Betsy, this ain’t no fucking teen romantic comedy, H. Freddie Prinze Jr. ain’t gonna to pop out of nowhere and confess his undying love to you. Did ya ever think that maybe, just maybe, they want to be our friends? Maybe they think you’re interesting or cool. You don’t get to decide what their motives are. I understand why you don’t trust them, I do, but you can at least just have dinner with ‘em. You don’t have to tell ‘em anything you don’t want them to know,” Niall reasons, blue eyes going soft with Harry’s words. Harry hates the pity.

“Whatever. I can’t go anyways. I don’t have the money,” Harry admits, blushing at the confession. Niall knows he can’t really do much because his mom couldn’t afford to give him an allowance. He has put in applications all over town, but no one really wants to hire someone that looks like him.

“I’ll buy,” Niall offers, shooting down Harry’s last hope of getting out of this.

“Fine. I’ll go, but don’t expect this to become a thing . It’s not. I will not be their friend,” Harry says, pointing one long finger at Niall threateningly. He doesn’t give his friend time to respond before he is stalking away, leaving his tray of mostly uneaten cafeteria food on the table. He normally wouldn’t do that since he doesn't always know when he will get his next meal, but he is annoyed with Niall. At least today he knows he will get to eat after school. Silver linings.

It’s half an hour later, in Creative Writing, when Harry feels a tap on his shoulder. He doesn’t turn around because he knows it is Louis fucking Tomlinson. It is always Louis it seems. He glances over at Niall, who just so happens to be looking at anyone but Harry. They are supposed to be working quietly outlining their upcoming assignment, but Harry can’t concentrate. He just keeps thinking about what was to come after school. What he stupidly agreed to.

The tapping on his shoulder continues, incessant this time, getting firmer with each new strike of the finger. Louis isn’t going to be ignored today, it seems. Harry sighs and turns around, facing Louis. His blue eyes widen with surprise that he is actually able to get his attention. Good. He wants Louis to keep believing that Harry wants nothing to do with him because he doesn’t. “What?” The word comes out low and menacing. It doesn’t seem to faze the other man, though. He just smirks. Fuck him.

“So, are you gonna hang out with us after practice?” Louis asks, propping his chin on one small hand, looking at Harry curiously. Harry hates when Louis looks at him like that. It makes the old marks on his arm itch, like they want to come off his skin.

“Why are you asking? I am sure Niall already told you,” Harry responds, rolling his eyes.

“Nope,” Louis tells him clasping his danity hands on the desk in front of him and popping the ‘p’, his thin lips pressing together to make the sound. The action shouldn’t be obscene, but it is. He tilts his head to the side, as if he is studying Harry. Harry hates that. It makes him want to squirm, but he refuses to do so.

“Yes. I’m coming.”

“Oh, I like the sound of that,” Louis says with a small smile and a suggestive wink. Harry’s cheeks heat up at the innuendo that he didn’t even realize he was saying.

“Not by choice,” Harry mutters turning back around. He feels tapping again.

“Why do you hate me?” Louis asks when Harry finally turns around to face him. Harry is surprised. Louis looks genuinely curious and maybe a little hurt. He has his bottom lip pulled between his teeth, biting lightly.

“I don’t hate you,” Harry admits. He should have just lied, maybe then he would be left alone.

“You act like you do though.”

“I don’t know you, so I can’t hate someone that I don’t know,” Harry reasons, watching Louis for any sign of amusement. He is almost waiting for Louis to laugh in his face and shout ‘well I hate you because you’re weird’. He doesn’t.

“You can get to know me, you know. I don’t bite. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.” Louis smirks again. Harry can feel the blush on his cheeks getting worse. It almost seems like Louis is… flirting. With him. Like Louis is flirting with him. Harry doesn’t have a lot of experience with people flirting with him. He doesn’t think anyone really has, so he is probably reading the situation completely wrong.

“You don’t want to get to know me,” Harry finally decides to say. Louis’ expression falls, and he kind of hates himself for it. He just can’t. He can’t understand why Louis is talking to him. Why he keeps going on and on about getting to know him or whatever. He can’t fathom this.

“I do. I promise, I do. How can I convince you?” Louis replies, tapping his nimble fingers on the desk as if in thought.

“I don’t know,” Harry says honestly, and Louis looks somewhat crestfallen. Harry finds himself adding, “You could start by telling me why you want to get to know me.”

“That’s easy. You’re interesting. The most interesting thing at this school if I’m being honest. You don’t seem to give a fuck what people think of you, and I kind of admire that. You’re you. Unabashedly you, and that’s just amazing. Why wouldn’t I want to get to know you? You’re also impossible to read, and I love a good puzzle,” Louis responds earnestly.

Harry is taken aback by the honesty in his blue eyes. He wants to believe him. He wants to believe that someone would find him interesting or whatever, but it’s just hard. He is just really surprised by Louis answer. It’s a lot, if it’s true, that is. “What do you wanna know?”

“Whatever you want to tell me,” Louis says with a shrug prompting Harry to just stare at him. Harry doesn’t just talk about himself. He never has. Everyone already knows him anyways, well at least they think they do, so what difference does it make?

“Well, I don’t want to tell you anything.”

“Shhh,” Mrs. Moore hushes, from the front of the room, giving both boys a stern look. Harry quickly turns around, looking down at his paper, pretending to do actual work. Not even a minute later, he feels something nudging the back of his neck. He glances back to see Louis pressing a folded up pieces of paper towards him, the sharp edge is what he felt. Harry rolls his eyes, but accepts the note. He opens it to find Louis’ handwriting, which he had never seen before. It is messy, but legible. He traces the words for a moment before he even reads it.

Louis: Start with your family.

Harry: Just me and my mom. My older sister went to college, so she moved out.

Louis: That’s cool. For me it’s my mom, stepdad, and 4 sisters

This continues to happen for the rest of the class period. Harry answers Louis’ questions, even being brave enough to ask a few of his own. He discovers writing down his answers is much easier than voicing them, oftentimes finding himself divulging maybe a bit too much information. Louis never makes fun of him for it though, just continues to talk using a pen and paper. Most of the questions aren’t overly invasive, just shallow stuff. He finds himself liking Louis. Even in his messy scroll, Harry can see his dry and sarcastic sense of humor. Harry continues to get the feeling that Louis is flirting with him, but brushes it off as a figment of his horny imagination.

Once the class ends, Harry takes the note and rips it to small pieces, throwing it in the trash on his way out. He doesn’t want Louis to keep it and perhaps use it against him later. It may be a bit pathetic and extremely paranoid, but he doesn’t want to risk it. As Louis watches him do it, his eyes widen, but he doesn’t say anything. He gives Harry a small smile, then follows Liam out of the classroom, chatting quietly. Harry feels like he has stepped into an alternate universe. Nothing makes sense.

 

__________

 

“There they are,” Liam says pointing to Harry and Niall, sitting on opposite sides in a booth. They are both dressed in the same clothes as they wore during school. Harry’s eyes are still outlined in black, the makeup smudged a bit, but still the same level of beautiful on his pale skin and green eyes. Liam and Louis changed once they finished their shower after practice. Louis’ hair is still somewhat damp. He runs his fingers through it self-consciously, not having had time to put any product in it.

He watches curiously as Harry glances over, then slaps Niall’s arm. Niall gives him a confused expression then Harry furiously whispers something to his friend, glancing over at Liam and Louis every few seconds as they make their way towards the table. Even when they get closer, Louis can’t hear what Harry is saying, but he seems to have a pleading look on his face, dark brows drawn in worry, big hands pulling at the material of Niall’s shirt. Interesting.

“Hey! Glad you could make it,” Liam greets, taking a seat in the booth next to Niall leaving Louis, thank fuck, to sit next to Harry. Louis barely stops himself from cheering and rubbing his hands together in delight. He will get to touch Harry. He looks down at the other man who has the most adorable pout on his face as he scoots as close the wall as possible, giving Louis ample room. Louis shoots him a small smile as he slides into the booth, putting both hands on the table for support.

“Yeah. Thanks for inviting us,” Niall says shooting a pointed look at Harry.

“Yeah. Thanks,” Harry mutters not making eye contact with anyone at the table. Louis wants to reach out and hold his hand, but he knows Harry would just shake him off, maybe even run away from the restaurant altogether. He also doesn’t want someone to possibly see. He is so afraid of getting caught. He knows he should suppress his urges, but it’s hard. With Harry now beside him, looking like sin with black eyeliner and nail polish to match, it’s down right fucking impossible. He figures he can just ask for God’s forgiveness later. Scratching an itch. That’s it.

“So, umm, how was practice?” Niall asks, breaking some of the awkward tension that has settled in the booth. Louis likes Niall. Niall can stay. The three boys talk about football, and how the season is going thus far as they order food and wait for it to come to the table. Harry doesn’t contribute to the conversation at all, probably not interested in sports. He keeps glancing over at Louis curiously, making Louis want to squirm. Harry is intense when he looks at you. Like he is hanging off of your every word and boring into your soul. It is unsettling in some ways, but also makes Louis’ cock twitch in interest.

“Food’s here. Awesome. I’m fuckin’ starving. I could eat the north end of a southbound mule,” Niall announces clapping his hands together then rubbing, like he’s warming up for a marathon. Where does Niall come up with this stuff? Louis seriously needs an ‘English to Redneck’ translation booklet, but despite the weird phrases Louis finds himself smiling because he likes Niall. Not in an I wanna fuck your brains out kind of way, but more so   I think we could be friends .

“Did you all get the Physics homework finished?” Liam asks, looking at everyone at the table including Harry, obviously trying to involve the quiet boy in their conversation, bless him.

“Way to ruin my supper, Li,” Niall answers, sighing dramatically and dropping his fry on his plate. He throws his hands up in the air, as if it is the worst thing to happen to him, making everyone laugh.

“I started it. What about you Harold?” Louis addresses Harry directly. Harry’s eyes snap up from his plate when he hears the nickname, gaze landing on Louis, but he doesn’t say anything about it. Louis gives him what he hopes is an encouraging gesture, and smiles.

“Me? Oh, I already finished it.” Harry shrugs going back to his grilled chicken salad.

“What? That shit is hard.” Louis tries to keep the conversation going, happy to have finally gotten a complete fucking sentence out of the other boy.

“Nah. I got it done two nights ago,” Harry says taking a drink of his water, full lips wrapping obscenely around the straw and sucking the liquid into this big mouth. Louis has to physically shake himself. Fuck. What were they talking about? School? Oh yeah. Physics. That’s right physics. He’s sure there is some kind of equation in physics that could tell him at what force Harry is able to suck using his mouth. Fuck. He’s going down the rabbit hole, again. Right. Concentrate.

“Oh, Mr. Overachiever,” Louis quips, clearing his throat. He hopes it comes out as a joke. When Harry’s lips quirk up into the tiniest smile Louis has ever seen, he takes that as a win.

“Not really. Just have a lot of free time at home, I guess.” Harry shrugs again, picking up his fork and stabbing some lettuce. Harry clearly doesn’t like to talk much about his home life, so obviously Louis wants to know more. He just wants to know everything he can about Harry.

“You know, I could help you with that free time thing,” Louis murmurs, so only Harry can hear. Louis can’t really help him, because his parents are ridiculous, but it seemed like a good way to flirt. Niall and Liam have begun talking about their paper due in Creative Writing, so he felt it was safe to try to engage Harry is some in kind of conversation.

“What?” Harry asks his head snapping up again, and Louis was slightly concerned for the long column of muscles and skin. It is biteable really, but that’s neither here nor there. Harry is almost looking as if he is trying to figure out if he actually heard Louis correctly.

“Free time. I could help you with it,” Louis answers, winking.

“What do you mean?” Seriously, though, why is it so difficult for Harry to understand that Louis is flirting with him. He knows he isn’t being completely obvious, but he also isn’t being too subtle. He is starting to think that Harry has never been flirted with which is a travesty of justice, really.

“Well that’s obvious, Curly. I am saying that I would like to hang out with you in your free time.” Louis decides not to be flirtatious with this comment, not wanting to freak Harry out. He only thinks he is into dudes; he doesn’t know it for a fact.

“Why the fuck would you want that?” Harry asks, and, for once, Louis can kind of read his body language. Maybe he is getting better at it, or Harry is letting his guard down. Either way, Harry looks confused and somewhat defensive. His hand travels to his bracelets, scratching between the dark leathers, something that Louis has noticed him subconsciously do when he is speaking to Louis.

“Harold, didn’t we already establish this is class today? I think you’re interesting blah, blah, blah. Is it really that difficult to believe someone may want to actually spend time with you, and get to know you?” Louis asks feeling his temper rise. He is starting to get frustrated. He feels like he is having the same conversation with Harry over and over again, yet expecting a different result. Isn’t that the definition of insanity or something? Is Harry making him insane? Probably, but if Harry Styles is insanity, then sign Louis up for that shit.

“I still don’t know if I believe you because I’m a nobody. Why would anyone want to get to know me? Like really? I am boring and weird,” Harry starts the slightest pout on his lips. Louis wants to kiss if off. “And stop calling me Harold. That’s not my name. My name is Harry.”

“I know your name, Curly,” Louis says rolling his eyes and nudging Harry’s arm, his skin so fucking warm Louis wants to touch it some more. He refrains, though. Somehow. Put it down as a miracle at this point. “But to get back to the topic, please stop calling yourself weird and boring. You are neither. I…” Louis lets the sentence trail off, trying to think of what he wants to say. Finally, he decides to just go with it. “I like you.”

“Yeah. Right.” Harry snorts. “You don’t even know me.”

“And whose fault is that, hmm?” Louis retaliates. Harry doesn’t seem to have an answer, so he just rolls his eyes. One point for Louis, not that he’s keeping track. Honestly, if he were, Harry would probably be winning, but he has definitely gained some ground today, so mental pat on the ass and all that. “Please believe me when I say I want to know you.” Louis eyes are wide with honesty. He tentatively reaches out and put one hand on Harry’s knee, letting the heat seep in through Harry’s jeans. Harry visibly stiffens at the gesture, not relaxing, but he doesn’t remove Louis’ hand either.

“Fine. I will try to believe you, but it's…” Harry trails off, looking as if he is fighting an internal battle with himself. Finally, he sighs, looking somewhat defeated. “It’s hard, okay? Like. I don’t know if you have noticed, but nobody but, Niall actually wants to talk to me. I don’t mind since I prefer to keep to myself, but it’s just odd.”

Louis is shocked by Harry’s honesty. He thinks this is the most he has gotten him to open up since he started trying to talk to him. He is pleased with this turn and is going to do his best to keep it up. “Well trust me, alright?”

Harry just looks at him with wide green eyes, but doesn’t reply. For a moment, it feels as though they are suspended in time, teetering on the edge of something. The moment feels pure and innocent, somehow. Louis then hears someone clear their throat, breaking their trance. He looks up, seeing Niall looking at them with a small smile while Liam just looks confused and somewhat curious. Shit. Louis had forgotten they were there. Fuck. Hopefully Liam didn’t hear too much. Louis quickly and discreetly removes his hand from Harry’s warm knee, already missing the contact. He very much wanted to trace his fingers up the inside of Harry’s thigh. It probably would have taken days to get there, given Harry’s ridiculously long legs, but Louis would have dealt with the fatigue.

“Well, I have to be home by seven, so, umm, I should get going,” Louis tells the group looking down at his phone to see it is half till.

“How would you like the checks?” The waitress asks, coming to the table probably overhearing their conversations.

“Mine and his together,” Niall chimes in, pointing to Harry who has started to find his leftover food quite fascinating. Louis thinks there is more to Harry Styles than meets the eye and he wants to peel back each layer to find out what is underneath.

Chapter Text

“image”

I keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees

I can't understand why they're stinging me

But I'll do what I want, I'll do what I please

I'll do it again till I got what I need- Thrice

 

Harry is sitting on his bed, listening to music that is probably far too loud for the neighbors, but he doesn't actually care. He decided to try to get some of his feelings about Louis out on paper, so he has been writing for the better part of an hour. However, he doesn’t like the way it flows quite yet. He sighs, shutting his journal and throws it to the corner of the bed. He rolls over on his back, and stares up at the ceiling thinking about his predicament.

Could Louis really be all that interested in him? He just doesn't see how. It has been a week since their dinner together, and he just can’t get some of the things Louis said to him out of his head. His brain is trying to convince his heart that Louis hasn’t been flirting with him, and that he doesn’t actually like him, even though he has said as much. He likes him? What does that even mean? Does he like him as a person? Does he like his style? Does he like him as more than just a friend? There are many ways to like a person, and all of these questions are making his head hurt.

Louis continues to pass him notes in class, and Harry, against his better judgement, continues to answer them. He tries to be vague with the questions about his life, family and past, but he answers shallow questions like his favorite color truthfully. He thought writing would help, but it didn’t. He is just so confused with everything. No one in his life has ever shown him this much interest, or if they have, they’ve given up after Harry gives them the cold shoulder. With the exception of one time, but Harry refuses to let his mind wonder there. He’s not young and naive anymore. Louis is persistent though, if nothing else. With a sigh, he grabs his phone to text Niall, hoping a distraction may help his dark and muddled thoughts. He doesn't want to return to old habits, and he can already feel the panic rising in his throat, threatening to suffocate him. When he goes to open the messaging app on his phone, it starts vibrating in his hand. He doesn't recognize the number, but he answers it anyway.

“Umm… Hello.” Okay, so it’s probably not the best way to to start a conversation, but it will have to do. Harry hates talking on the phone. It always makes him feel awkward.

Mr. Styles?

Harry quickly turns down the music, because this sounds important. “Yes, this is he,” Harry says feeling like a complete and total loser. He has never been called Mr. Styles before, but he supposes there is a first time for everything.

Good evening. This is Mac from Mac’s Music. I saw you put in an application for a position we have available. If you’re still interested in the job, I would like you to come in for an interview.

Harry’s heart skips a beat. Someone is actually calling him about a job. After all of the applications he filled out, maybe there’s hope. He realizes then that he has been silent for far too long, so he swallows, his throat suddenly very dry. “Um.. Yes, I am still very much interested,” Harry stammers, hitting himself hard on the forehead in his frustration.

Okay, can you come in for an interview this weekend? Saturday around two o’clock?

“Sure thing,” Harry tells him quickly. He sounds eager, but he doesn’t care because he is. The music store is one of the places he actually wants to work.

Okay. See you then.

The man hangs up, and Harry stares at his phone for a few minutes, not actually being able to believe what just happened. He has an interview. Fuck. He has an interview. He doesn’t even think he has anything in his closet that is interview worthy. What the fuck is he going to do? He can’t go out and buy anything. He would actually need money for that, and his mom certainly won't be able to afford to buy him anything. He texts Niall his news and is a bit bummed when he doesn’t get a quick reply. Niall is probably hanging out with one of his other friends.

Harry makes his way downstairs, deciding it is time for a snack since he didn’t really have anything for dinner. He opens the refrigerator to find it empty, like normal. He looks in the cabinets, seeing that they too, are mostly empty. What they do have, he can’t make because he is missing vital ingredients like milk or eggs. His good mood dissipates as he goes back to his room, deciding to just go to bed. It’s the easiest way to deal with being hungry. If he gets this job, the first thing he will do with his pay cheque is buy groceries.

 

__________

 

Louis is tired and annoyed. He had a grueling football practice that afternoon, and now all he wants to do is go to bed, however he has physics homework he has to finish. He kind of wishes he had asked Harry for help during class that day instead of just passing a note talking about their favorite ice cream flavors. He can’t say he regrets it, though; Harry is finally, kind of, starting to open up to him. He is still super fucking vague about his family and home life, but Louis figures it will just take time. Louis looks up when he hears the door to his room open.

“Got a moment?” Mark asks by way of greeting, just barging in without even so much as knocking. Louis internally sighs and rubs his face. He knows what’s coming. Fuck. He doesn't want to deal with Mark tonight. He just wants to finish this homework then lay in bed, have a nice wank to images of Harry, and pass out. Is that too fucking much to ask for? Seriously.

“Yeah,” Louis lies, looking at his step-father. Mark walks over and perches himself on the edge of Louis’ bed. Louis hates when Mark comes into his room. He isn’t sure why, but he finds the whole scenario really uncomfortable. His room is his space, where he feels like he is free to be who he is without judgment, but Mark judges. It feels as though when he is there, he taints something private. Like a black fog rolling in on a lovely day. His presence almost feels suffocating, like he is taking up the whole room, not leaving any free air or space for Louis to exist.

“Good. Wanted talk to you for a minute,” he starts, sitting his elbows on his knees and clasping his large meaty hands in front of him. Louis turns his body towards him in his chair, doing his best to look interested in the conversation when in reality, he would hop the first spaceship to fucking Uranus if it were an option. Uranus. Of course, that’s the planet Louis would want to go to to. He would be more interested if it was Harry’s anus, to be honest, but he doesn't say that outloud.

“Okay,” Louis says resisting the urge to roll his finger through the air, just wanting Mark to get on with it. He already knows what he is going to say, so what the fuck is the point in drawing out the process? He just wants him to fucking get to the goddamned point, so Louis can move on with his night in peace. He can already feel the headache building behind his eyes.

“Are you having girl issues, Son?” Mark asks, and Louis wants vomit. He absolutely hates when Mark calls him son. On one hand, Louis is grateful for everything the man has done for his mom and family, but on the other hand Mark isn’t his dad. His dad left him when he wasn’t even a human yet. If he was really Mark’s son, then Louis wouldn’t feel the need to walk on eggshells around him. He wouldn’t feel the need to hide, but it is what it is. Nothing he can do about it. The whole thing is hopeless really.

“Um-- not really,” Louis says. It’s not a lie. He isn’t having girl issues because he gives zero fucks about girls.

“Well you mentioned that girl Leigh-Ann, but you haven't told us you were seeing her yet,” Mark prompts, and oh right. He did tell him that. Fuck. Louis needs to think fast because he hasn’t so much as spoken to the fake ass cheerleader in a few weeks. He had completely forgotten about her in his desire to crack open Harry’s hard exterior. Honestly, the girl had never really been a blimp on Louis’ radar, she was just a means to and end. A way to satisfy his step-dad’s insistence. Louis had to think fast, so he does what he always does in these situations, he lies through his goddamn teeth. He is quite good at it, having had years of practice thus far.

“Oh, yeah. Her. Yeah, she started dating this other guy. He had been talking to her for a while apparently,” Louis says not realizing that with this lie, he is going to have to find a whole new girl to satisfy Mark’s wishes. Fuck. Oh well, he wasn’t sure if he could handle Leigh-Ann anyways. What was that southern saying Niall said the the other day? Oh yeah. She certainly wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. If he had to give her a color, it would probably be like a Sepia. Nothing particularly interesting, or bright. Just kind of there and used as a filter on Instagram because it’s so fake. She is shallow and vapid. She has no depth, and Louis doesn't know if he can handle a relationship like that, fake or not.

“Well, that’s too bad, Son. Got your eye on any others?” Mark asks, studying him. It makes Louis want to squirm, but he doesn’t. He refuses to give Mark that kind of satisfaction. He is lucky he wasn’t shipped off to Military School when he was younger.

“Not at the current moment. Been trying to focus on school and football, you know?” Louis hopes that his lie is convincing. Well he hopes all of his lies concerning his parents are convincing like any sane teenager.

“Oh,” Mark says and fuck, he doesn't sound all that convinced. He is still looking at him as if he is something to be studied. “I know that football and school is important to you, but girls should be too. You’re a young man, you should go out and sow your wild oats, if you know what I mean.” Mark then winks at him, and Louis actually has to swallow the bile that has made its way up his throat. He wants to gag, but knows he can’t. Maybe he can make a mad dash to the bathroom when all of this is over, although this conversation seems to be lasting forever and a fucking day at this point.

“Well. You and Mom don’t make that exactly easy since I have the curfew of a third grader,” Louis quips, suppressing his eye roll. He knows he shouldn’t piss Mark off, but he is fucking tired. He hates this conversation, and he just wants his fucking room back. If pissing him off is the only way for him to get the fuck out, then Louis will take a grounding. Not like Mark can ground him from anything, since he isn’t allowed to do shit as it is.

“Watch that tone with me, boy.” Mark points one stubby finger at him, and Louis swallows. “You’re eighteen now, so I may start considering letting you do other things, as long as they are school sponsored activities.” Oh jeez, how sweet of Mark. What a fucking saint he is. Letting Louis do what normal kids his age are doing. Louis barely suppresses another eye roll at his comment. Like Louis should be thankful for Mark letting him out of his makeshift prison.

“Thank you, Sir,” Louis says quietly, looking down at the floor even though the words feel like acid. He hates this submissive bullshit he has to put on for Mark.

“Good. Now set your eyes on another girl, bring her to dinner or something.” Mark gets up from his place on the bed, groaning a bit when his knees make a loud popping noise. Louis can’t help the small smile on his face because it almost feels like karma. Karma is a thing right? He should ask Harry. Harry seems to know about that kind of stuff. Harry. Oh God what is he going to think when Louis has a girlfriend? Will he hate him? Fuck. Louis places his head in his hands, trying to bite back the tears as Mark finally leaves the room. Louis feels like he can breathe again, but at the same time he feels like he is suffocating. Suffocated by this life and who he has to be. Why is it so wrong to be attracted to someone? The fucking Bible. That’s why it’s wrong. The Bible says so. Louis scrubs over his face one last time before he dives back into his homework, doing everything in his power to take his mind off the mess that is his life.

 

__________

 

“So, you and Lou have gotten all chummy in class lately. Like two peas in a pod,” Niall says laying back on Harry’s bed, throwing a clean pair of socks Harry had laying on his bed into the air and catching them.

“Niall, you are supposed to be here helping me pick out clothes for this interview, not talking to me about a guy I have no interest in, and stop calling him Lou,” Harry responds looking down at his friend, very unamused by the entire thing. Can’t Niall see he is freaking out over this? He could really use the money, and he would very much like to help his mom out.

“We can do both,” Niall replies with a shit-eating grin. If it wouldn’t have been like kicking a puppy, Harry would have done just that. Harry sighs and rolls his eyes, because that’s all he can do. He was expecting this conversation, but that doesn’t mean he actually wants to have it. He is nervous enough about his upcoming interview; he doesn't need to add discussing this Louis situation on top of that. A situation. That is really all it is.

“Why do we need to do one at all?” Harry asks, trying to avoid the question as long as possible.

“Because you like him, and you need to come to terms with that,” Niall tells him, a seriousness in his tone.

“No, I don’t. He’s a preppy jock. Why would I like someone like him? Or better yet, why would he like someone like me?” Harry asks, still not answering the question. He doesn't like Louis. He doesn’t. Louis just annoys the hell out of him until he gives in and talks to him. They never really have any deep conversations. Mostly just about random things that Louis asks him. He really doesn't know anything about Louis if he is being honest. He knows he has a mom and a step dad as well as four sisters. He knows he likes his banana splits to be ‘traditional’. He knows that his favorite color is blue. Okay, well maybe he does know a decent amount about the other boy, but it certainly wasn’t by choice.

“You’re bein’ hypocritical,” Niall says catching the socks and pointing an accusatory finger at Harry before resuming his previous activities.

“How the fuck am I being hypocritical? Facts, Ni. I’m stating facts,” Harry defends, stretching both long arms out to the side then letting both fall limply in his exasperation.

“You constantly talk about how people are quick to judge you because of the clothes you wear or the fact that you wear eyeliner and paint your nails, but you sure as fuck are quick to judge someone when you deem their clothes preppy.” He lifts four fingers to place air quotes around the last word then continues, “or even when they play sports. How it is that any different than singing in choir? Why does his fucking polo shirt have to be any different than your band shirt? Yes, H, you’re being hypocritical.”

Fuck. Niall has a point. Harry hates when Niall has a point. Harry never thought of himself as a hypocrite, but it seems he is being exactly that when it comes to Louis. He just, he doesn’t know how to get past it. His entire life he has been used to people making fun of him for who he is and what he likes. It’s hard to change years of behavior that has been ingrained. Louis may not be like everyone else, but it’s hard to convince himself of that when he’s had no one prove him wrong. Ever.

“That’s not the point, Ni.” Even if it really is the fucking point. “He probably isn’t even gay.”

“There you go again. Judging,” Niall tsks, not taking his eyes off the socks he is still throwing. Harry wants to bat them out of the air. He probably would, however he is athletically challenged and that sounds like it would require actual hand eye coordination. Instead he just decides to glare at their movements, letting his heated gaze go up and down with them because glaring at fucking socks would solve all of his problems regarding a blue eyed boy.

“No, I’m not. He probably isn’t,” Harry insists getting annoyed because Niall may or may not be correct about this, and he absolutely despises when his friend is correct.

“Just because he’s a jock means he isn’t gay? That doesn't make a lick of sense. Jesus Harry, I thought you were progressive or whatever. Maybe he is just playing a part to survive.”

“We are still very different people.” What if Louis really is playing a part? Harry could understand that, and no. He is not going down that path. He refuses to even entertain that thought. Sympathy would get him nowhere, he had to learn that the hard way.  

“Opposites attract.” Niall shrugs, hitting the light in Harry’s room with the socks, making them room dim for a split second before the item came back to Niall’s waiting grasp. “We learned that in science class when we were in 2nd grade. Remember?”

“That was magnets, Ni. Not people,” Harry says, sitting down on the bed nudging Niall’s legs so he would move them. Niall grumbles a bit, but does as Harry wants, not pausing his efforts with Harry’s socks. Harry watches because he doesn’t really want to look Niall in the eye.

“Same difference,” Niall replies. “If two people were exactly the same, they wouldn’t fit together. Like puzzle pieces or whatever. The point is, it’s okay to be opposites. Sometimes that is the best thing because you give two different perspectives. Like you complete each other, ya know?”

“What are you? A fucking hallmark card? Real life isn’t like that Niall. I know that better than anyone. One boy doesn’t meet and fall in love with another boy in Bible Belt, USA and expect that boy to love him back. That’s not how that works. You don’t get to be yourself and love who you love at the end of the day.” Harry is breathing a bit heavy after his speech, breaths coming out as short burst of air. He can feel his anger and resentment rising because it’s not fucking fair, but that is just how the world works. Sure the LGBTQ+ community has made strides in the past few years, but that doesn’t change opinions overnight. It won’t stop the judgement and the closeting and the homophobia. It certainly wouldn’t allow two boys to fall in love in high school while they are still living in the Bible Belt.

“Why not, though? Like why can’t it be that way? You can bitch about it ‘til the cows come home, but you can’t expect the world to change unless you are willing to change it yourself, H.”

“Great. Now you’re a fucking fortune cookie,” Harry says, placing both hands on his knees to get up and pace the room, feeling the need to move around.

“You can divert all you’d like, H, but he flirts with you. A lot.” The light reflects off Niall’s braces as he tosses the socks in the air again.

“What is it with you and all of these big words. You never use words like ‘divert’ and ‘hypocritical’,” Harry points out, deflecting again.

“Thank you for noticin’, been studying for the SATs. Regardless, when you’re in the room, it’s like no one else exist to him. I don’t know why you’re bein’ so stubborn about this. Louis isn’t the people who teased you or a part of the group who hurt you. He shouldn’t have to pay for their misdeeds,” Niall says, finally catching the socks and not throwing them again, instead sitting up to meet Harry’s eyes. Niall’s right. Fuck. Niall is right. Maybe Harry is punishing Louis for things he never did or had a part in. That doesn’t mean Harry has to trust him though.

“Niall, can we please drop it and discuss my interview. I really need this job,” Harry begs because he is really freaking out over this, and he desperately wants to change the subject. He has never had an interview, and he knows people are quick to judge him for his black clothes and overall aloofness.

“Alright,” Niall concedes and thank the gods. Harry sighs in relief. He just can’t keep talking about Louis. He was fine before Louis ever came into the picture. Well, maybe not fine, but he was surviving. Sometimes he wishes Louis’ family had never even moved to the area, so he could endure his senior year of high school in peace. Instead, Louis seems to be a wrench thrown into the cogs of his perfectly moving plans to get the fuck out of this place and be himself in college. “What do you have?”

“Erm. Band t-shirts and skinny jeans?” Harry answers even though it comes out like a question as he glances towards his sparse closet.

“Do you have anything with buttons besides jeans?” Niall tries, and Harry has to think about it. Does he have anything with buttons? He places one long finger on his chin, tilting his head to the side in thought.

“Um-- I think I have a black button down that my mom made me wear to my grandma’s funeral last year. It may be a bit tight though,” Harry answers glancing towards his closet and seeing the item of clothing. He pulls it out and holds it up to himself, looking at Niall.

Niall studies it for a moment, tilting his head to one side then the other as if trying to decide something. “That should work with a pair of jeans. It’s only a music store, not like you’re interviewing to be the CEO of Samsung or something.” Niall laughs like he just made the best joke on the planet. Harry just smiles and shakes his head at his friend.  

“What if they don’t like me. I mean I have no experience. I love music, but I don’t know a tonne about it. Like I play the guitar, but that’s about it. What could I bring?” Harry asks, hanging the shirt back in the closet, and going to sit back on the bed, placing his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.

“Just be yourself, H. You’ll be fine. You’re smart, and you can be charismatic, if you cared. They obviously aren't looking for someone with a degree in music. You’re just going to be a sales guy, plus a lot of information about instruments and that stuff can be taught.” Harry hears Niall say then feels when Niall pats him on the back with a warm hand.

“Okay. You’re right,” Harry sighs, looking at his friend. Niall gives him a small smile, and Harry returns it.

“Now, maybe you’d listen to me about other stuff,” Niall smirks, and Harry hits him with a pillow, because really, what else is there to do at this point.

 

__________

 

Harry looks at his reflection in the store front windows of Mac’s Music. The only shitty thing about black clothing is that it feels like the summer sun heats up the material like a brownie in an easy bake oven. Maybe that isn’t the best metaphor, but he has never had an easy bake oven, so he would never know. He runs his fingers through his curls, making sure they aren’t overly sweaty considering he walked there. He smooths his hands over his almost too tight shirt, nods his head one last time and opens the door with a sweaty palm. The cool air from the shop hits him in the face, cooling him down a tiny bit.

He peers around to store to find Mac, but instead he sees a girl sat behind the counter. She doesn’t even look up as the door closes, the bell above it dinging shrilly, too engrossed in whatever book she is reading. Harry wants to know what it is because he loves reading, and he is always looking for good recommendations. He doesn’t want to disturb her, because he knows how much he hates when people interrupt his reading, but he also doesn’t want to be late for his interview. He takes a quiet deep breath and slowly walks up to the counter.

“Um-- hi,” he starts awkwardly. He clears his throat right as her head snaps up, large brown eyes studying him. “I’m Harry Styles, and I’m here for an interview.”

“Oh yeah. I think Mac mentioned something about you. Hold on,” she places a bookmark in her book, well it looks more like a receipt, to hold her place. She uses one hand to push her red shoulder length hair out of her face before she hops off her stool and disappears into the back room. She returns a moment later, her thin lips pulled into a bright smile. Harry recognizes her from school, but he doesn't think he has ever talked to her. He thinks she is the grade behind him, but he can’t be positive. She always seemed cool and laid back, not really hanging out with any of the popular kids that liked to make his life hell.

“Mac said he will be out in minute,” she tells him, placing both hands on the counter to hoist her short frame onto the stool. Harry bites his lip nervously, barely suppressing the urge to gnaw on his fingers like he tends to do when he gets nervous. He looks down at his feet, seeing they are turned in and consciously straightens their position. A few seconds later, a tall man with a graying ponytail emerges from the back room. He is wearing a Metallica T-shirt that looks older than Harry himself, a pair of dark jeans, and heavy black boots. He has a sleeve of tattoos on one arm, and few random ones on the other, they look more like the ‘classic’ tattoos with flames, skulls, and the like. Harry is jealous because he has been wanting a tattoo for years.

“Hi, Harry. I’m Mac,” the man greets, his voice lacking the normal southern drawl of the area. He holds out a large palm for Harry to take. Harry shakes his hand, hoping his palms aren’t too sweaty as they tend to be when he is nervous. He silently cursed himself for not wiping it on his jeans beforehand.

“Nice to meet you,” Harry replies politely, because he may be a bit of a dick to the people at school, but he does have some semblance of manners.

“Alright, come back to my office, and we’ll get started.” Mac gestures, leading Harry through the back room and into a very small office. The walls are a dull gray, the space just big enough for a desk. The computer on the desk looks dated, and the area is a disorganized chaos, papers littering every open surface making the space seem even more cramped and small. There are posters and pictures all over the wall, most from old bands Harry recognizes and enjoys daily. Some even look like they were taken by Mac himself. Harry could see this man as being someone he would like to talk to about his experiences, and it immediately puts him at ease.

“So, Harry, tell me a bit about yourself,” Mac starts, clasping his long bony fingers together and sitting them on the desk. Well sitting them on top of the paperwork that is on the desk. Harry thinks for a moment, panicking about the question a bit. He never really liked talking about himself, and it seems that is all he asked to do lately.

“Well--um-- I’m seventeen and a senior, so I go to school full time throughout the day, but my schedule is mostly open on weekends and afternoons. I’m not really involved in any after school activities other than the occasional choir performance,” Harry says, feeling like he is rambling a bit because the man probably doesn't actually care that Harry is in choir.

“Interesting. Why did you apply to work here?” Mac asks next, nodding his head along with Harry’s words. Harry knows it’s a lie. Nothing about himself or his life is interesting, but he powers through to the next question.

“Well, I wanted to get a job to help my Mom with bills and groceries and stuff. She is a single parent, so I thought it would be nice to take some of the burden off of her, you know?” Harry has no idea why he is telling Mac this. The only person that knows this specific information is Niall, and Harry isn’t one to share his personal issues with anyone let alone total strangers or future employers. He pauses for a moment, swallowing, and continues, “I also have always had a passion for music. I love listening to it, singing, and I play the guitar. Unfortunately, I’m pretty crappy at all other instruments and don’t know much about them.”

“Thank you for your honesty, Harry. I really appreciate that. Knowledge of instruments can be trained, but passion can’t be. So you have never been employed anywhere else before?”

“No, Sir,” Harry answers, searching Mac’s expression for disappointment. He finds none.

“Are you good with people?” Mac asks prompting Harry to panic again. It’s not that he isn’t good with people, he just doesn't really care about them. Okay, that may not be completely true. He just doesn’t care what they think which leads him to not care in general.

“I can talk to anyone,” Harry answers, and it’s not a lie. He can carry on a conversation with a variety of people from the old lady that owns the bakery to Louis who is very different than him. He may not technically speak to Louis, since most of their conversation happens on paper, nor does he actually want to speak to Louis, but they still communicate.

“Good. This next question is very important,” Mac says, a serious expression marring his face. Harry freezes, scared to death he is going to be asked to promise his first born child or his soul or something equally as terrifying. “What are your favorite bands?” Mac asks, smiling widely, and Harry instantly relaxes. For the next hour, they discuss music. Mac tells Harry about all of the concerts that he has been to over the years, and his background in stage setup. Harry tells him about the concerts he wants to go to when he has extra money. They discuss British vs American rock bands, Harry preferring the former.

“Well, Harry, I’d like it if you could start on Wednesday. Maybe just come in after school. The shop is closed on Mondays, and I mostly need someone to work evenings and weekends. Willow is my other employee. It’s a small business, so you may be working alone at some points or just with her.” Harry nods, barely breathing because he actually got the job. He is employed. Fuck. He can help buy groceries, pay bills, maybe even finally save up enough for a tattoo.

“Yeah. That would be perfect. Thank you,” Harry says, quickly thrusting out his hand to shake Mac’s one more time. He knows he is smiling wide both dimples popping as he bids Mac and Willow farewell, and walks out the door, the September heat enveloping him like a grossly warm blanket straight out of the dryer. He shoots a quick text to Niall and his mom as he begins walking down the sidewalk, feeling like he is on a cloud. He starts to get out his headphones as he is walking past a park, he glances up just in time to see very familiar blue eyes looking at him. He quickly turns, praying to whoever is listening that he wasn’t recognized.

“Hazza!” Comes a raspy voice from behind him and fuck, why always him? He was having a good day, too. He had just gotten a job, and it was a Saturday therefore he didn’t have to wake up early in the morning. It was a good day, until he heard that unfortunately all too familiar raspy voice call out a version of his name. Seriously, what is it with Louis and nicknames? Harry isn’t even that difficult to say. Harry tries to ignore him, quickly popping his headphones in.

“Hey, Haz!” He hears again, closer this time. Fuck. How fast is Louis? Harry doesn’t know what position he plays in football, but there is some type of running position, isn’t there? He doesn’t mull over it too long because a small finger is tapping him on the shoulder, much like it does in class. Harry sighs, closes his eyes for a moment then turns around to a crinkly eyed smile from Louis. It’s Harry’s favorite type of Louis smile, but he is going to pretend he doesn’t have a favorite Louis anything.  

“Hey,” Harry says, popping out his ear buds and shoving them in his tight pocket. He makes it a point not to return Louis smile, but Niall’s words from the other day ring in his ear. Fucking Niall.

“You look good. Where were you?” Louis ask eyes raking down Harry’s body then back up, a small pink tongue coming out to lick his thin lips. He puts a hand up to his mouth, swipes it, then shakes his head as if coming out of a thought. Harry briefly wonders what that’s all about until he realizes Louis asked him a question.

“Oh um-- thanks. I had an interview,” Harry answers and mentally scolds himself because he actually gave Louis a real answer and not something vague. What the fuck has gotten into him? Niall has really fucked with his head this time.

“Oh that’s cool. Did you get the job?” Louis asks, actually looking interested in what Harry has to say, a direct contrast to their other peers.

“Yeah. I start Wednesday,” Harry can’t help the smile that has bloomed on his face because he is so happy to have gotten it.

“Congrats, Haz. I’m proud of you.” Louis’ warm hand claps him on the shoulder. It is the  most Louis has really touched him in a while. Harry can feel himself blushing from the compliment and hopes Louis will think it’s just the sun. “Where at?”

“Oh-- um-- Mac’s Music,” Harry supplies awkwardly pointing in the direction of the shop. Louis nods, so Harry continues, “Won’t be a bad walk from my place.”

“You don’t have a car?” Louis asks, looking surprised. Fuck. Harry is torn between telling Louis the truth or being an asshole about the whole thing. He decides to go with a little column A and a little column B.

“Not everyone can afford a car,” He says with no real venom. He does roll his eyes for good measure.

“Oh. Of course…” Louis’ sentence is cut off by a small voice.

“Loulou. Who’s that?” Harry is surprised by the voice and looks down, finding two identical little girls hiding behind Louis’ shapely legs. Both have blonde hair and blue eyes, but one is wearing a purple shirt while the other is in yellow. They must be Louis’ sisters. Harry glances around to find two other older girls, with the same hair color as Louis, looking at him with curious blue eyes, coming to stand next to their brother. Fuck. Harry is trying not to panic. This can’t actually be happening. He can’t be meeting Louis’ family. Fuck.

“This is Harry. He’s a friend from school,” Louis introduces, easily catching the small brown football one of his older sisters tossed him. “Harry these are my sisters. That’s Lottie and Fizzy.” He points at the two older girls. The oldest one waves while the other is still looking at him curiously. It’s the same expression Louis has on his face when he looks at Harry, as if she is studying him. Harry hates it because it is startlingly similar to her brother. “This is Phoebe and Daisy.” Phoebe seems to be wearing the yellow shirt. Harry tries to remember, but this is a lot of information that he wasn’t expecting.  

“Nice to meet you,” Lottie says, smiling shyly.

“Yeah. Lou hasn’t said much about you, though,” Fizzy ads, eyes squinting in the bright sun.

“Why don’t you go and get us some water? There is a vending machine over there,” Louis tells them through gritted teeth. Fizzy accepts the cash he gives her, and Lottie rolls her eyes, a gesture so very much like Louis, both making their way over to the vending machine.

“Are you gonna pway wif us?” Phoebe asks once her sisters are gone, more of her body emerging from behind Louis’ legs. Harry doesn't know much about small children, well he doesn’t really know anything about them, but he thinks that means she is getting more comfortable with him. He isn’t exactly sure what the small human asked, so he looks at Louis for help.

“She asked if you’re gonna play with us?” Louis translates with a small fond smile, glancing down at his sister, running his fingers through her soft blonde hair.

“Oh. Play what?” Harry asks, confused by the question, really. Why would they want him to play with them? He is a complete stranger.

“Football, silly,” the other little girl pipes in, pointing to Louis’ hands. Harry understood that.

“Nope, I don’t do sports balling,” Harry answers, putting one hand up in the air, dismissing the idea because fuck no. He is uncoordinated and doesn’t know the first thing about any sport. He doesn’t even think he could name more than one position or a single NFL player.

“Come on, Haz. It’s just football, not balls balls,” Louis says with a smile, glancing down at his sisters who decided that holding hands and spinning in a circle is way better than paying attention to their brother and his friend.

“Balls of any kind,” Harry says, and that’s a fucking lie.

“I bet I could find some balls that you would play with.” With that statement, Louis winks. Jesus, is he trying to kill Harry? Does he want him to die? Harry is beginning to think so because it isn’t the first time Louis has made a comment like that, and he has a sneaking suspicion it certainly won't be the last.

“They will be blue before that happens. Any sports played with blue balls?” Harry asks with his own wide smile. Two could play at this game.

“Nope. Just sports players. I’m sure you could help out there, though. You don’t need to know much, and I could guide your through the process.” Fuck. Harry can’t play. He doesn’t even know enough innuendos to be on the same level as Louis. Guide him through the process? Did Louis just hint at showing him how to give a handjob or maybe a blowjob. Holy fuck. Harry’s dick twitches in his overly tight jeans at the very thought.

“Um...” Harry audibly swallows, mouth suddenly feeling incredibly dry.  

“Come on, Hazzy. Pway wif us!” Harry’s attention snaps to Daisy as she runs over and grabs his hand, Phoebe coming over to do the same with his other hand. Harry doesn’t know if he has ever touched a small child until that very moment other than when he was small child himself. His heart feels warm when they start pulling on his arms, jumping up and down in excitement.

“I don’t have anything to wear,” Harry excuses, not having it in him to outright say no to the little girls. His heart breaks a bit when a pout forms on Daisy’s lip, reminding him very much of Louis when Harry refused eat out with them.

“I have some extra gym clothes in my bag in the car. They’re clean. They should fit you, maybe a little tight, but most of your clothes are anyways,” Louis supplies, giving Harry’s body another once over.

“So you can pway!” Phoebe exclaims, both girls beginning to jump up and down again. Harry glaces at Louis, pleadingly. Louis just smiles as if he knows Harry won’t say no to two adorable little girls. Louis is right. Harry didn’t think he liked children, but here he was, getting ready to agree to spend time with Louis outside of school because of them.

“Um-- okay, but I don’t know how,” Harry says looking down and smiling when both girls cheered, high fiving each other.

“I already told you, Haz. Don’t worry about it; I’ll teach you.” Louis winks, and Harry is confident he stopped breathing for a full minute trying to process the information. He is almost positive Louis is flirting with him. He doesn't know shit about flirting, but it is the only plausible explanation for Louis’ behavior. “Alright girls, go find Fiz and Lots while I get Harry here some clothes.” Louis watches with another fond smile as his sisters run up to his other sisters, excitedly telling them the news. He gestures for Harry to follow him.

“You just made their day,” he tells Harry as they walk the short distance to what Harry assumes is Louis’ car. “They don’t get to hang out with anyone outside of the family when they aren’t in school. Our parents are pretty strict.” Louis uses his key fob to pop the trunk, quickly locating a gym bag and rummaging through it, pulling out a pair of athletic shorts and a t-shirt, victorious expression on his face. Harry takes the proffered items, wondering why Louis just told him that information, feeling as though it was a bit personal for the other boy.

“Thanks,” Harry says following the direction Louis is pointing to the public restrooms. In the far too small stall, he pulls off his skinny jeans and button up, folding them neatly and laying them on the closed toilet. He only bangs his elbow on the side of the stall once and only falls twice, thank you very much. He slips Louis’ too short shorts over his hips, the material clinging to his thighs. He leaves his bracelets on, knowing they would look ridiculous but not wanting to deal with alternative. He then takes Louis’ shirt in both hands. It is a simple light gray t-shirt with navy blocked lettering across the front. At least it’s gray, and not like, light blue, or something. Gray isn’t too far off from black. He sighs, wondering for the one hundred and twenty third time that hour what exactly he has gotten himself into. When he pulls the material over his head, all he can smell is Louis. Fuck. His dick instantly gets hard in his shorts just from Louis’ smell. He briefly considers wanking in the dirty bathroom stall of a public park, but decides to think of way more disgusting things like pop music, the Republican Party, and kissing Niall. Kissing Niall. That did it.

He opens the stall door and shuffles outside, squinting at the harsh sunlight. He supposes it will be okay to run around in his beat up old black converse shoes. “You didn’t run away,” Louis yells, jogging up to him and another devastating crinkly eyed grin. He looks Harry up and down, his eyes dark with what almost looks like desire. The sun must be fucking with Harry’s head.

“I did not,” Harry confirms because it really is a fucking miracle. What would Louis’ friends think if they seen him outside of class with Harry? Liam doesn’t seem that bothered by it, but he is sure that the other jocks would feel differently.

“You gonna take your bracelets off?” Louis asks, pointing to Harry’s arms. Harry’s hand automatically goes to wrap around them tightly, feeling as if they are burning his skin.

“Um-- no. I like to wear them,” Harry excuses lamely, and is relieved when Louis just nods his head, not pushing the matter.

“Come on.” Louis pats his arm, sending sparks of electricity through him.

“I-- um-- I told you I don’t know how to play,” Harry admits, looking down and suddenly feeling awkward, holding his clothes in his hands.

“We can teach you. If Phoebe and Daisy can grasp the rules, I am sure a smart guy like yourself will be just fine.” Louis smiles, probably trying to put him at ease, and it works. Harry can feel his body relaxing just a bit at the words. He also feels very nervous, for some reason wanting to impress Louis and not wanting to embarass himself. He got through his one year of PE, and that was it. He doesn’t mind physical activity, but he hates sports. He doesn't understand them, and he just isn’t competitive. Winning or losing at a sporting event isn’t going to change the world.

“Okay, now that we have Hazza here, we have even teams,” Louis starts, clapping his hands together when they have made their way over to his sisters. Daisy and Phoebe cheer at the mention of Harry’s name, well nickname. Again, what is it with Louis and nicknames anyways? So far he has given Harry four, if he counts Curly. Harry thinks for a moment, and he can’t recall one other person who has four nicknames from Louis. Interesting.

“Haz, you’re gonna be on a team with Fizzy and Daisy. Me, Lottie, and Phoebe will be on the other team. This is two hand touch football. The rules are easy, your goal is down there next to Harry’s clothes, and ours is on the other side, next to the water bottle.” Louis points to the locations, and Harry thinks he is following so far but he keeps getting distracted by the way Louis’ thin lips form around words, the cute look of concentration he gets in his eyes when he is instructing, and the way he gesticulates as he speaks. Right, Louis is telling him the rules. He should probably pay attention.

“You are not allowed to touch the quarterback unless they start running with the ball. You are not allowed to tackle, and if you have the ball and get touched with two hands, not just one Félicité.” Louis looks pointedly at his sister for the statement who just smiles back at him. Quarterback. Harry thinks he knows what the Quarterback is. He may have watched a movie about sports once. The Quarterback is the one that throws the ball, right? Fuck he hopes so, or he is going to really embarrass himself. “If you have the ball and get touched with two hands, the play is over. No kicking the ball or tackling. Each touchdown is worth a point. First to 5, wins?”

Fuck that was a lot of information, and Harry got distracted again by the way the sunlight was reflecting off of Louis’ brown hair, making some strands look carmel and the way his blue eyes sparkle with it. Harry thinks he was counting the freckles on Louis’ tan cheeks when he was talking about a touchdown. Isn’t that what they call scoring in football? Fuck this is hopeless. Harry is screwed. At least it won’t require touching Louis much. Maybe just two hands. Hopefully he doesn't pop a boner just from that.

“Any questions?” Louis asks, looking at Harry in particular. Yes, Harry has a lot of questions, but none of which pertain to the game of two-hand-touch that they will be playing. Harry shakes his head, licking his suddenly very dry lips. “Okay. Lottie and Fizzy are the quarterbacks.”

“What? That’s not fair, Lou! You’re too fast!” Fizzy exclaims, crossing her arms.

“I don’t make the rules,” Louis says, smug smile on his face.

“What? You literally just made the rules,” Fizzy shoots back, looking like she really wants to slap her brother. Harry can’t blame her. He is pretty sure Louis would be fast with his curvy legs and ass. They are going to lose terribly.

“Alright, ready?” Louis asks, ignoring her and throwing the ball from one hand to the other, eyes following the movement. He winks at Harry before they get into their individual team huddles. Harry doesn’t know what to do or say. He is still trying to figure how this is all happening. He is almost positive he has somehow landed in the Twilight Zone or that this is a dream, but quickly realizes it is not when they start playing. Louis’ teams scores the first point easily, Fizzy being correct when saying that Louis is fast. Really fucking fast. Harry’s eyes could barely keep up with him as he ran on the grass down their makeshift goal line. He is just a blur of green and brown. Jesus. Harry looks like fucking Bambi when he runs, unable to get his legs to work properly, both seem to want to move independently from the other.  

The first time Harry is passed the ball and actually catches it, he thinks he may faint. He briefly hears Fizzy yell ‘GO’, as she starts to try to hold off Louis, and he just runs. He can feel the wind sweeping back his curls, he glances back to see Louis hot on his heels, so he doubles his efforts, pumptng his free arm through the air. He doesn’t feel two hands on him until after he has passed their goal, meaning he actually scored a touchdown. Holy fucking shit. Harry scored a touchdown. He turns around in disbelief dropping the football to the ground. Fizzy and Daisy run up to him, and hug him, which is odd. He doesn’t like being hugged, but he doesn’t seem to mind it when it is in congratulations.

“Well, well, looks like young Harold can do stuff with balls after all,” Louis murmurs, once the girls pull away. Harry can feel his ears becoming hotter with his blush and hopes that it looks like he is just getting sunburned.

“I’m only a year younger than you,” Harry points out. He tells himself that the only reason he even bothered to remember Louis’ birthday is because it is the day before Christmas.

“A year and a few months, but still so much to learn,” Louis tsks, picking up the dropped football and beginning to walk towards his sisters.

“Who’s gonna teach me? Seeing as I just scored on you, it certainly won't be you since you don’t seem to be very good with balls,” Harry quips. Louis turns around, eyes narrowed at Harry. Harry just smiles, and the fuck? What has gotten into him? Harry doesn’t smile, and is he flirting? No, he can’t be. Harry doesn’t know how to flirt.

“You’re gonna pay for that comment,” Louis threatens, pointing at Harry, winking, and running towards his sister. Harry shakes his head and follows, completely unsure of what just happened. He is almost positive he is hallucinating at this point. This is all just fabricated. Maybe he and Niall are in his bedroom, and got their hands on some really good weed. Either way, it can’t be real.

The next hour is spent sweating, running, and mostly laughing. Harry watches with a fond smile when Louis acts like he can’t catch Daisy, allowing the small girl to score. She giggles and taunts him, Louis acting like he is wounded by her words. Fizzy and Harry do the same, allowing Phoebe to score on them, acting as if she was just too quick to catch. She eats it up, smiling broadly as if she has just won an Olympic gold medal and not scored in a game of two-hand-touch football with her siblings. They are tied, four points each, and Harry’s team has the ball. Fizzy passes the ball to Harry, and he immediately begins running down the field. What feels like two seconds later, he feels a body collide with him, tackling him to the ground roughly. A thrill shoots through Harry’s spine when he looks up to see Louis is now on top of him, arms still wrapped around his waist, looking at him with blue eyes and a smirk.

“Thought you said there was no tackling allowed?” Harry asks, feeling his cock twitch in his shorts from their position. He can feel Louis’ soft dick against his own through the material of their shorts, and he wants to groan. Fuck. He can’t get hard now. This is the worst possible time when he has a gorgeous, probably straight, boy practically straddling him in the park with his sisters probably running towards them.

“I tripped.” Louis shrugs, smiling down at him. He unwraps his arms and sits up, looking around for a second. “The fact that I accidently ended up straddling you after the fall was not my fault at all. Can’t be blamed on me. I just may be the best way to fall though.” Harry knows his mouth is hanging open in shock at the comment, and he stares dumbly as Louis braces both hands on either side of his head, blows him a kiss, and hoist himself into a standing position. He reaches a hand down, grabbing Harry’s, and pulls him up soon after. Harry tries to ignore the spark in his spine from their hands touching and prays that his semi-hard erection is hidden by the shorts. Fuck.

He barely listens when Louis and Fizzy start arguing over the foul, Louis maintaining that he tripped. They soon get back into position to run another play with Harry’s team still having the ball since it is decided that it was, in fact, a foul. Harry really isn’t paying attention when Fizzy runs the ball, getting them the winning point. He snaps back to reality when he has his arms full of two younger girls, jumping up and down against him. “We never beat, Lou!” Fizzy exclaims, smiling brightly, looking so much like Louis in that moment it was eerie.

“Yay! Hazzy! We did it!” Daisy ads jumping up on Harry. Harry thankfully catches her, the little girl quickly wrapping her tiny legs around his waist in a side hug, squeezing tightly.

“We did,” Harry confirms, still feeling as if his senses are in overload from Louis’ comment, Louis’ straddling him and now being hugged when he isn’t used to any of it.

“Good job, guys,” Louis smiles, coming up to them. Harry allows Daisy to slide down his body, much to her displeasure given the pout marring her little features.

“Yeah. You should come hang out more often,” Lottie says, coming up to them holding Phoebe's hand. “It’s nice having an even number.”

“I agree. Harry should hang out with me more often,” Louis concedes, and Harry doesn’t miss the smug smile on his face. “Well I had better get you girls home, or Mark is going to have my head.” Louis grabs both of his youngest sisters’ hands, holding them firmly.

“Yeah. Thanks for-- umm-- inviting me,” Harry replies awkwardly, running his fingers through his sweaty curls. He makes a mental note to bring a headband next time, his curls becoming far too long without one. Next time? What the fuck? There isn’t going to be a next time.

“You’re always invited, love,” Louis whispers the last word so low, Harry isn’t sure he even heard it correctly. “I have never seen you smile so much. I like it. The dimples look good on you. Like to see you wearing nothing else.” Harry doesn’t miss the innuendo in the statement. He stares dumbly at Louis, as he and his sisters turn towards Louis’ car.

“What about your clothes?” Harry asks, coming back to his senses.

“Bring them to me at school,” Louis shouts from his car, as he and Lottie buckle the younger girls into their booster seats.

“Okay,” Harry says, grabbing his clothes and waving one last time and walking in the direction of his home. Harry thinks this has been the strangest day, but he feels like he has had a lot of those lately since meeting Louis Tomlinson. He still can’t seem to wipe the smile off his face the entire way home, debating about texting Niall about how his afternoon was spent, ultimately deciding against it, not really wanting to have that conversation again.

Chapter Text

“image”

Say something, anything to me

I did believe, but I have doubts

So many reasons to hold on

Conflicting interest, isn't it?

I guess I'm better off in the end

Because you were always there to blame

I haven't felt so bad and I don't know how long you know- Stone Sour

 

Louis has been searching the school for a potential fake girlfriend for three days, but the very idea of kissing a girl, fake relationship or not, makes bile rise in his throat. He should probably get used to it though, because he will probably end up married to a woman and living a life he hates. He pushes that unpleasant thought away, committing himself to just living in the now and not really considering a future of church, a wife, and children.

Speaking of church, he is on his way to the monthly Bible Club that happens during their lunchtime. He fucking hates it. He would skip, but he is paranoid that Mark would somehow find out and lead him to find out other facts about his step-son. Louis shudders at the thought as he opens the door to the library, where Bible Club is held. Harry said it is ironic that a Bible Club would be held in a place known for learning and knowledge. Louis didn’t get it at first, but thinking about it, he is starting to understand what Harry means. He sits down, not really paying attention to anyone around him. They open today’s meeting with a prayer. Louis bows his head, and, for the first time in his life, it feels slightly useless. He pushes that thought away and imagines he is talking to an all loving father figure in the clouds. He isn’t all loving though, is he?

“Alright, today during Bible Club, we are going to be breaking into groups of two,” Jeremiah says softly, standing in front of the group of students. His checkered button up shirt is tucked into his light khakis, mousy brown hair parted to the side. Something about the boy annoys Louis, and he isn’t sure what. Maybe it’s his holier-than-thou attitude or because he probably has a sign in his closet that says ‘God Hates Fags’. Either way, Louis really doesn't like him. “When you find your partner, I will pass out a piece of paper. We will be playing Bible Hangman.”

What the fuck? What are they, like eight? Louis is sure he watched his five year old sisters play hangman just this weekend. In fact, if it wasn’t for his younger siblings, Louis probably would have forgotten the game even existed. This is a game for children, not teenagers. He is snapped out of his musings by a  female voice. “Wanna be my partner?”

“Huh?” Louis asks, brain not really registering what the girl beside him just said. She is pale with red hair, a small button nose and large brown eyes. She smiles, almost as if she knows what he is thinking.

“I asked if you want to be my partner in this game?” She repeats her voice is low and somewhat soothing. It doesn’t grate on his brain like most girls’ voices tend to. She flashes him a small smile, one side of her thin lips crooked up to the side. She’s cute in a ‘wanna be my fag hag’ sort of way.

“Oh. Why me?” Louis asks, slightly confused as to why she would choose him out of everyone in the room.

“Because you look like you think this is as fucking ridiculous as I do,” she responds, smirking when Louis looks a bit shocked at her use of language. Most people in this shit club won’t go near what they deem to be a ‘dirty word’ because, again, they are children. “You also look like you don’t wanna be here, so we could not want to be here together, at least.”

Louis laughs at that, relaxing a bit in his seat, uncrossing his arms. He likes her already. She reminds him of Harry for some reason, but he can’t for the life of him figure out why. “Yeah, that's true. Why are you here?” Louis isn’t really listening as Jeremiah explains the rules because he knows how to fucking play Hangman, thank you very much.

“Parents,” she says, sighing, and sitting back in her seat, taking the sheets of paper being handed out. There is nothing flirtatious in her tone, her body language is open to him, but her legs are crossed in the opposite direction, telling Louis she really has no interest him. He almost wants to sigh in relief. “You?”

“Same,” Louis answers, clicking his pen a few times, needing something to do with his hands. “My name is Louis, by the way. I don’t think we’ve met, but I’ve seen you around.”

“Willow, but you can call me Will, everyone else does. I’m in eleventh grade. I’ve seen you around, too, since this school is so fucking small. I know you’re the new kid, you’re a senior and you play football,” she lists, using her fingers to count each thing off. Louis gives her a half smile because it is kind of funny in a way. She seems to know a decent amount about him, but he knows nothing about her.

“Well it’s nice to meet you, Willow,” Louis says smiling and sitting up in his chair, giving her a hand shake. She returns his smile, and they get to work playing the stupid game. They mostly laugh through it, their chosen words and phrases getting more and more satirical as the game progresses. After Willow chose the word, Jezebel, Louis knew she would be fine with his phrase choice of ‘seven wives of David’. Willow laughed loudly at that, causing their stick-up-the-ass club peers to glare at them. Louis decides to go out on a limb with his next phrase choice, biting his lip hoping it will go over the way he wants. With shaky lines, he draws the hanging post, and draws sixteen dashes, the appropriate spaces between each of the three words.  

“Hmm,” she studies the blank spaces with squinted brown eyes, placing her index finger and thumb on her jaw in thought. She only has the legs left to guess before she loses. She has managed to guess some correct letters including ‘a’, ‘r’, and ‘m’. “O” she guesses.

“Yes,” Louis tells her, filling in the four o’s in the phrase. Her eyes light up when she sees where they are placed, probably figuring it out.

“Sodom and Gomorrah!” She shouts triumphantly prompting Drag-emiah to shush them and give them a dirty look that he probably hopes sends them straight to hell for their insolence. Louis giggles when she rolls her eyes.

“Correct!” He exclaims just as loudly because fuck these assholes. Well not literally, he doesn't think he would actually fuck a single one of them. The only person he currently wants to fuck is Harry, and that doesn’t seems to be happening anytime soon.

“What a crock of shit,” she says looking down at the words on the paper. Louis doesn’t miss it when she quickly glances across the room to a girl laughing at something her partner had said. Interesting.

“I agree. It’s bullshit really,” he responds, trying to get a feel for her thoughts on homosexuality. He doesn't even know his own thoughts on it, but he needs to know hers.

“Yeah. I don’t see what’s wrong with being attracted to the same sex,” she replies this time more quietly, glancing at the girl again. Could she be? No. No way. Statistically speaking, there should be more than one gay student at the school, but has Louis found another one? He would count Harry, but Harry is impossible to read therefore he is completely unsure about his sexuality. He thinks he may have felt a hard on below Harry’s shorts on Saturday, but he can’t be sure. It was probably a figment of his overactive and very horny imagination. Straddling a very cute boy with chocolate curls probably did weird things to his mind. Louis shakes his head, realizing his thoughts about Harry have run away with him again. Tends to happen a lot, if he’s honest.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Louis says with a smile, just as Jeremiah makes his way to the front of the room, clapping his hands loudly.

“Thank you all for coming today. We will close the club in prayer, please bow your heads,” he instructs. For the first time in his life, Louis doesn’t bow his head in prayer. Instead he silently thinks about his observation regarding Willow. He decides he needs to get to know her a bit better, but he may have a plan. After the prayer is over, he gathers his things and smiles when he sees the blonde that Willow was eyeing, walking in their direction.

“Hey, Willow,” she waves, smiling broadly. Willow’s cheeks suddenly become the same shade as her hair, as she looks down, not making eye contact with the other girl. Interesting.

“Hi,” Willow squeeks out, when the silence stretches out making the whole thing feel awkward. Willow finally looks up, smiling at Tara. Well, it’s more of a grimace if Louis is perfectly honest, but at least she tried.

“I was wondering how you think you did on the math test,” Tara says after another few moments of pregnant silence. Louis is learning so much just from the three sentences that has been said between them, the silence speaking more than the words ever could.

“Oh umm-- I-- umm-- I think I d-did okay,” Willow stutters out, playing with her fingers in a way that reminds Louis very much of Harry when Louis flirts with him.

“Awesome. Me too,” Tara’s sentence trails off, her blue eyes finally landing on Louis.

“Louis? Right?” She asks, eyes narrowing. Her question almost seems-- jealous. Fuck. This keeps getting better and better.

“Yup, and you’re Tara. Willow has told me so much about you,” he lies, shooting Willow a knowing smile. Willow glances down quickly, her face becoming more red with each passing moment. He hopes his comment has smoothed things over with Tara.

“Oh. Um-- that’s cool. Well, anyways, I have to go. I’ll be late if I don’t. See you in class, Will, and it was nice meeting you Louis,” she waves then disappears out the door. Willow visibly deflates when she is out of sight, a deep sigh coming from her chest. They walk out of the library together in silence. She waves once before they part ways, each heading in a different direction. Louis’ head is spinning with the new information, starting a plan. He wants to watch her a bit more first.

 

__________

 

“Didn’t see you at lunch,” Harry says by way of greeting when Louis sits down behind him in Creative Writing. Fuck. He told himself he would never initiate conversation with Louis, but here he is, letting his inquisitive nature get the best of him. He is just so used to Louis always being around, that’s all. He noticed that he was nowhere to be found during lunch. He saw him in the lunch line, then eating with Liam for a few minutes then he just disappeared, and Harry is curious. Just curious. That’s all.

“Miss me, Curly?” Louis asks, smirking at Harry who just rolls his eyes in response. It’s his own fault really. He should never have said anything.

“No,” Harry insists, even though it’s kind of a lie. He didn’t really miss him, he just noticed when he wasn’t there. When Louis smirks at him again, all Harry can see is the same smirking face that was straddling him on Saturday. The sun behind him making his hair look almost like a halo. Harry doesn’t believe in angels, but Louis is probably the closest he will ever come to one.

“I was in Bible Club, if you must know,” Louis tells him, and of course Louis was in Bible Club. Harry didn’t even think of that because he doesn’t care when Bible Club meets or if there is even a club for it. He was invited once. It was quite hilarious seeing the look on the dude’s face when Harry told him that he worships at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He hopes he Googled it later since education is important.

“Do you just all sit in a cross formation and read from the Bible for an hour?” Harry asks, and, much to his surprise, Louis lets out a loud laugh, covering his mouth with a small hand, eyes shiny in the fluorescent lights. Harry thought he would be offended by the joke, not actually laugh.  

“May as well have been. We played Bible Hangman,” Louis tells him, getting out his notebook and a pencil, sitting the items on his desk. His notebook is mangled, with doodles all over the cover. Harry can make out a paper aeroplane, a stick figure skateboarding, and a spider web. Harry smiles down at the small doodles, having a few of his own in his journal.

“Bible Hangman? What are you, fucking five?” Harry asks, brows drawn in confusion because Louis couldn’t be serious. The Bible Club surely didn’t expect teenagers to play a game made for children.

“Eight actually, but those were my thoughts exactly,” Louis responds, glancing up as Miss More tells them to work in groups on their newest assignment. Harry turns to Louis, as if they are actually going to discuss the assignment. He glances over at Niall who seems to have distracted Liam, debating about the pros and cons of first person. Harry agrees with Niall, writing in first person is terrible.

“Well, children also have imaginary friends, so it’s not that different I suppose,” Harry points out with a shrug, watching Louis’ expression as he understands exactly what Harry was inferring with the statement.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Louis asks with the most endearing look on his face, a mixture of intrigue and offence.

“I am simply pointing out that believing there is a man in the sky who grants your wishes if you do good deeds is the equivalent to a child having an imaginary friend.” Harry then stands up, straddles his chair so the back of it is pressed against his chest and interlocks his fingers, placing them on Louis’ desk, giving the other boy his full attention. Louis’ blue eyes squint as if trying to think of a reply.

“That is hardly the same thing,” is what he comes up with, and he doesn’t even look like he believes what he is saying.

“I think it is. I mean, think about it, Lou,” Harry pauses when the nickname slips from his mouth, but quickly recovers, not wanting to draw attention to his mistake. “Both religious people and children with imaginary friends wholeheartedly believe that a being exists with no physical evidence. They talk with that being, ask it for favors, and even make up backstories about its existence. Tell me, how is it any different?”

He watches as Louis considers his question, clearly getting frustrated when he doesn’t seem to have a real answer. “It’s not the same because God exists.”

“Do you have proof?”

“I have faith.”

“That doesn't count, Louis. Faith isn’t proof. Having a feeling in your heart does not make it true. Facts and evidence are what make something real.” Harry is giving calm, calculated answers. The same answers he gave himself when he was first starting to come to the conclusion that religion was bullshit after everything that had happened to him.

“So you don’t have faith in anything?” Louis asks, clearly diverting from the current discussion. Harry thinks about the question for a moment because he hasn’t really been asked that in a long time.

“I have faith in science, evidence, and nature,” Harry answers finally, watching as Louis puckers his lips a little, mulling Harry’s words over in his head. He looks like an angry hedgehog, and if it wasn’t for the seriousness of their conversation, Harry would have kind of wanted to kiss him.

“The Bible is proof,” Louis says pointing triumphantly, his eyes lighting up as if he got one on Harry. Harry shakes his head though, and Louis looks him curiously.

“No, it’s not.”

“How so?” Louis asks, curiosity marring his features.

“The Bible was written by men. It wasn’t written by some divine hand,” Harry answers, and he already knows what Louis is going to say. He just lets the other boy walk into the trap.

“It was written by God through man,” Louis corrects, and there it is. The answer Harry knew was coming.

“Do you seriously believe that though? If someone in this day and age were to say ‘God spoke to me, and I wrote it down in a book. Here it is, so worship his word,’ we would put them in a mental hospital because they are clearly psychotic. Don’t even get me started on all of the books from that time period that the Catholic Church deemed less than desirable, so they say it's not canon.” Louis looks like he is having an internal battle with himself, and that he may cry at any moment. Harry kind of wants to hug him and tell him that it will be okay. That a world without God is okay, because it is the same world it was before. He doesn’t though, just lets him find out for himself. If he wants to actually talk about it though, Harry knows he will be there to listen. He has no idea why, but he will be.

“What do you mean other books?” Louis asks finally, his voice barely above a whisper. He is looking down at his desk, but it seems more like he is looking through it, lost in thought.

“There are loads of other books and gospels written by supposed prophets. Bet they didn’t teach you that in Church. There is the Book of Enoch, which was found with the Dead Sea Scrolls. You know what those are, right?” Harry asks, a small smile on his face.

“Yes. I know what those are,” Louis answers, gaze finally landing on Harry. He looks paler for some reason, his eyes searching Harry for answers Harry isn’t sure he has.

“Well the Book of Enoch was found amongst those. It is a lot and an interesting read. It is only canon in the Ethiopian Bible. Most Christian sects do not accept it as canon, and by canon I mean books that aren’t accepted by the Catholic church and therefore are not allowed in the bible. The Gospel of Matthew is canon, for example, while the Book of Enoch is not,” Harry explains, thinking back to his late night research a few years ago.

“But if it was found with the scrolls, then why isn’t it canon?” Louis asks.

“That’s a good question. You will have to ask your Church that. Churches do love to cherry pick, though. Maybe it didn’t fit in with their narrative. I’m not sure.”

“Is that the only one?” Louis asks, and Harry thinks it is kind of funny that an atheist seems to be teaching Louis more about his own religion than years of Church and Bible study.

“Nope,” Harry answers popping the ‘p’. “Like I said there are more. Um…” He pauses, thinking about another book he has read about. “There is the Gospel of Thomas. That one is super interesting, but it’s not shocking why it wasn’t included in the canonical text.” Harry hopes his words are tempting, and when Louis looks even more intrigued, he knows he’s won.  

“What happens in it?”

“Are you sure you wanna know?” Harry asks, giving Louis a chance to stay in his lovely little bubble. When Louis nods, Harry smiles, feeling proud for some unfathomable reason. “Well first, it insinuates that Jesus actually had a twin brother. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas writes about Jesus as a small child, which is interesting considering the canon text is missing 30 some odd years. Canonically, his birth is discussed, then it pretty much skips to his death, but the Gospels of Thomas discusses his childhood. At one point, another child bumped into him on the street, it angered him, so he killed the child. When the people around them see the dead child and become fearful, he makes them all go blind. There are a lot more stories. You can find them online if you’re curious.”

“If you’re an atheist, then why do you know so much about religion?” Louis asks, his question genuine.

Harry thinks about it for a moment, wanting to give Louis a truthful answer for once, but not too truthful. There are many reasons why he knows so much about religion. Since he began really examining it after the worst day of his life, but his main reason is simple. “Know your enemy.”

Louis looks like he has seen a ghost. His face is pale and his hands have the slightest tremor. Harry barely stops himself from reaching out and holding them, since they are mere inches away from his own hands. Louis swallows dryly, his throat bobbing with the action and licks his lips. He looks almost spaced out, as if he is so lost in his thoughts, he may never resurface. A silence settles over them for a few minutes, Louis staring off into the distance, barely breathing. Harry is getting worried about him, so he takes pity on him, glancing around the room to make sure nobody is really watching them.

“Look, Lou, it’s fine if you don’t believe me or if you wanna see for yourself. I am just stating facts. I just find it fascinating what the canonical text of the Bible doesn’t include, yet…” he pauses, unsure if he wants to continue his thought. He takes a deep breath and plows on, “yet they are more than happy to keep terrible text from the old testament in there about stoning women for being promiscuous or that homosexuality is an abomination.” The bell signaling the end of the period rings with Harry’s last statement, seeming to snap Louis out of his trance. Louis mutters a goodbye and shoots Harry a small almost pained smile. Harry exhales through his mouth, unsure of what the fuck just happened.

 

__________

 

Louis has been trying not to dwell too much about the conversation he had with Harry a few days ago. That night, he lay awake lost in thought about what Harry had said. He found his laptop, turning it on and dimming the screen, not wanting his parents to know what he was doing. It was like he was getting ready to search for porn and not for the information Harry had provided earlier that day. He Googled the books Harry had mentioned and had no trouble finding them. He spent the next two hours pouring over the information, brain spinning with it all. Harry didn’t lie, at all. Those texts were real; he was even honest about where the Book of Enoch was found.

At nearly 2 am, Louis shut his computer and scrubbed at his eyes, trying to erase the conversation from his mind, but it wouldn’t budge. His discussion with Harry left more questions than answers, and he hadn’t been expecting that at all. He thought when they would discuss religion, he would know more than Harry being that he was the one that believed in God, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, he learned more in his half and hour conversation with Harry than he had in his years of Church and Bible Study. He went to bed, dreaming of prophets and angels, but he wasn’t sure he believed any of it.

He didn’t tell Harry of his thoughts though, instead they went back to quietly passing notes, Louis occasionally flirting with the the other boy. He is starting to be able to read him just a bit more. For example, Louis has found the tip of his ears turn pink when he is being flirted with, however, his ears are mostly covered by is longish curls, so he can barely ever see it. Harry also scrunches up his nose just the tiniest bit when he is lying, or perhaps not telling the entire truth. He wipes the tip of his nose when he doesn’t want to answer a question, and coughs when he feels uncomfortable. Louis feels like he needs to start writing this shit down, almost as if it is a code to how to crack Harry Styles.

He has also been watching Willow from afar in the hallways and during lunch. They even talk occasionally between classes, her sense of humor is much like his own, but there is just something about her that reminds him of Harry. Louis just can’t figure out exactly what it is, but he is sure he will put his finger on it sooner or later. He is currently nervous, because he is going to ask her something after class is over, and it could either work out in his favor or go very, very wrong. He hopes it is the former. He is running out of time and options.

He sighs then takes a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart, looking around for something or someone to distract him. Harry. Harry is sitting beside him on one of the long black tables. Liam and Niall sitting on Louis’ other side. Originally Niall had sat next to Harry, but Louis stole his spot enough times for Niall to get the hint. Harry is looking down at his work, effectively ignoring him, and that just won’t do. He pokes him on his cheek, right where his dimple would be if he were smiling. Louis may or may not have memorized the location the first time he caught a peek of it.  

“What?” Comes Harry’s deep voice, glancing up from his work to meet Louis’ eyes.

“I don’t know. I’m bored,” Louis says, shrugging. He isn’t. He needs to be distracted for the last fifteen minutes of class, and Harry is his favorite type of distraction.

“Okay,” Harry responds, going back to his work. Louis sighs again, hoping to annoy him. When that doesn’t work, he glances around, making sure nobody is watching, and places a finger on Harry’s knee, working it up his thigh before Harry jumps and pulls away.

He grins when Harry glares at him, lifting up both arms in a stretch. Louis can hear the bones cracking with it. The bracelets fall down his arm just a tiny bit, touching the rolled up sleeve of his flannel, when he notices something. “Fuck. Is that a tattoo?” Louis asks pointing to the black padlock on the top of Harry’s wrist peeking out between the bracelets. He could have sworn it wasn’t there earlier that day, but he could be wrong since the jewelry always covers it.

“No. It’s just sharpie,” Harry answers, glancing down at it then back up Louis. He moves his hand quickly, repositioning the bracelets, so that it covers the drawing.  

“Oh,” Louis says, relieved. “That’s good. I don’t really like tattoos.” He scrunches up his nose at the thought.

“Why? ‘Cause they’re against the Bible?” Harry asks, leaning his body more towards Louis, so he could hear his low voice. Louis leans a bit further, because, well he wants to be closer, sue him. When their elbows touch on the table, Harry’s eyes widen a bit, but he doesn’t pull away. The touch gives Louis butterflies for whatever reason.

“Yeah, and I don’t know. I think they look kind of trashy or something,” Louis answers, honestly. He has had that thought about tattoos for a long time, never quite understanding the appeal of marking your body in such a permanent way.

“I want a tattoo,” Harry tells him, and oh.

“Don’t,” Louis says, even though now his mind is very much wanting to know what Harry would look like with a tattoo.

“Not your body.” Harry rolls his eyes, clearly getting annoyed with Louis’ attitude.

“You have such pretty skin and a lovely body, would be a shame to mark it up like that.” Louis allows his gaze to sweep over Harry’s long pale limbs. He has imagined those limbs arranged in a variety of different positions, including but not limited to caging him in, under him, and his personal favorite, holding him against a wall.

“Would you rather mark it in different ways?” Harry asks, and fuck he was not expecting Harry to say that in his deep, deep voice with his sinful mouth. Louis’ dick twitches at the thought of sucking a red bruise into Harry’s long neck even though he has never seen the appeal of being marked or marking someone else. Didn’t help that his mind was already in the gutter.

“Yeah. Actually, I would,” he answers, smiling when he realizes Harry’s pupils are dilated. He looks down, spotting a black sharpie poking out of the tight pocket of Harry’s skinny jeans. Before Louis can second guess his actions, he uses two fingers to slide it out. Harry looks surprised and confused by the action. Louis glances around again, making sure nobody is watching. He takes Harry’s hand, and jesus it’s huge. Louis allows himself to imagine, for a brief moment, what it would look like wrapped around his dick. He shakes the thought away, going back to what he originally had planned.

He can feel Harry’s curious green eyes on him as he turns Harry’s hand palm up. He skims his fingers over the soft skin of his palm, wanting to memorize every line incase Harry never lets him do this again. He glances up at Harry one more time, smirking as he opens the marker, then writes an ‘L’ in the dead center of Harry’s ridiculously wide palm. He admires the letter for a minute then looks up to find Harry staring at it. After a few moments, Harry looks up, meeting his gaze. Louis can’t tell what is going through Harry’s mind, like normal, but he doesn't look angry. In fact, his pupils are still blown and his lips are red, as if he had been biting them recently.

The final bell of the day rings, effectively ending their moment. Harry looks around, moving the hand with Louis’ initial below the table out of Louis’ view, but Louis thinks he may be adjusting himself. Louis is in the same boat, so he doesn't say anything as he discreetly does the exact same thing. Harry bolts out the door before he gets a chance to say goodbye. Louis tries to push the thought of Harry’s soft skin covered in tattoos out of his mind as he looks for Willow once he leaves the room. He finds her in the hallway at her locker. He is suddenly feeling really nervous again, so he wipes his clammy hands on his jeans and strides towards her. She smiles when she sees him and waves a silent hello.

“Hey. Um-- do you got a minute to talk,” he asks, glancing around the crowded hallway, “privately,” he adds for good measure.

“Yeah, sure. Everything alright?” She asks, curious expression on her face.

“Yeah, fine,” Louis answers looking around and spotting an empty classroom, he pulls her inside, shutting the door firmly behind them. His breaths are coming out in short pants and he tries to calm his heart rate. He goes to hop on the teacher’s desk, swinging his legs as his VANS repeatedly hit the metal frame.

“No offence, but you’re kind of scaring me, Louis. What’s this about?” Her red eyebrows are drawn into a frown, brown eyes wide with concern as she stares at him suspiciously.

Louis sighs, and decides to just jump straight to the point. He would laugh at his double meaning of the word straight, but he is too fucking nervous. “Look. I know you’re in love with that Tara girl.”

“What? No--no I’m not,” she stutters out backing away from him a bit. She looks frightened like she may run at any moment, so Louis needs to act fast. Her breaths are coming out short and quick, as she glances around the room as if looking for something that could help her out of this.

“It’s okay. I promise I won't tell anyone,” Louis starts, holding both hands up at his chest in a non threatening gesture.

“Tell anyone what?” She asks, narrowing her dark eyes at him.

“That you’re gay. That you are in love with Tara,” Louis answers easily, not wanting to pretend for a second that he doesn’t know. He hops off the desk and moves towards her.

“I never said that.” She almost whispers the statement, avoiding Louis’ eyes as she looks at the window, the rain beating down on the glass.

“Will, you didn’t have to. It is written all over your face, but it’s fine. I kind of was hoping we could come to an agreement,” Louis says and knows it immediately comes out wrong.

“Are you blackmailing me?” She asks, anger in her tone, eyes finally snapping to his. Louis immediately backs up, because she is kind of scary when she’s angry. He didn’t mean to upset her, this whole conversation isn’t going like he had planned in his head.

“No! God no! Not at all. I just. I need your help. Regardless of your answer, I promise I will keep your secret and hope we can still be friends. Please, just listen to me though,” Louis pleads hoping to convey how important this is with his eyes.

“Go on,” she replies, visibly relaxing in front of him.

Louis releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding as he steps forward, getting closer to her because he doesn't want to say this next part too loudly even though they are in a closed off classroom away from the ears of their fellow classmates. He takes a deep breath because this will be the first time he says it out loud too, but he thinks of kissing a girl again. He thinks of Harry, and hopes this will be worth it. He prays this doesn’t backfire.

“I’m--” he starts, but pauses, not sure if he can actually say the words out loud. Saying them out loud means acknowledging them. He clears his throat, deciding to go with a different choice of words, because he just can’t. “I’m just like you.” He bites his lip, hoping she would get his meaning without making him actually say the words out loud. He just, he doesn't know if he can. Not yet. It’s one thing to give into his urges when he is less than sober with total strangers, but a completely different thing to say it vocally.

“Okay, but that still doesn’t tell me what you want,” she crosses her arms, but her features soften almost as if she is relieved to know she isn’t the only gay student in school.

“Okay. I don’t wanna bore you with the details, so here’s the gist. My step-dad Mark is a total dick, and my entire family is religious, which I’m sure you understand,” he pauses his statement, watching as she nods her head because she clearly understands. “Well anyways, my step-dad has been on my ass about getting a girlfriend since I started at this school. I normally just find some overly christian bimbo who won’t expect sex, and pretend, but I-- I just don’t think I can this time. The mere thought of kissing someone who isn’t--” he almost finishes the sentence with Harry, but stops himself swallowing the name back, “of kissing a girl makes me want to puke.”

“Funny, I have the opposite problem,” she cracks with a smile prompting Louis to laugh about the absurdity of the situation. Just like that, the tension in the room is broken. Louis feels like he can breath again, as if a weight has been lifted off his chest. He didn’t realize how much not telling anyone was weighing on him, but now that his secret is somewhat out, he feels as though he is breathing for the first time. “So let me guess where you are going with this. You want me to pretend to be your girlfriend to keep your step-dad off your back?”

“Yes, but I thought it could also help you. You said your parents are religious. They have to be wondering why you don’t have a boyfriend,” he ventures, and when she releases her arms to her side and sighs, he knows he is correct in her assumption.

“So you want to fake date?” She clarifies again.

“Yes. Nothing major. Maybe holding hands around school, coming to my house for dinner with my parents, hanging out with each others friends. You’re the coolest girl I know, and I just-- I can’t stomach the thoughts of fake dating another girl when she thinks it is real dating. I just-- fuck I can’t.”

“Okay. I’ll do it. It’s not like Tara will actually care, and it will get my parents off my case, too,” she says after a few moments of thought, the first part almost comes out bitterly. Louis sighs in relief that this whole thing didn’t backfire on him, but he feels just a stab of guilt over the whole Tara situation. He pushes it away, because he knows this is what is best for both of them.

“What’s your number? We can come up with a story over the weekend of how we met and shit,” Louis tells her, pulling out his phone and handing it to her.

“Yeah that’s fine,” she replies typing in her number and shooting a quick text to herself, so she has his.

“Thank you. Fuck thank you so much for doing this; you have no idea,” Louis tells her, giving her a meaningful look. He almost hugs her, but they aren’t to that level of friendship yet, but he hopes they can be. He starts making his way to the door, not wanting to be any more late for football practice, when he hears her voice and freezes.

“One more thing, Lou.” He hears her say, so he turns around and faces her, uncertain about her next statement. “Who are you in love with?”

“What?” Louis splutters because he was not expecting that question at all.

“Who are you in love with?” She asks again, words measured and slow.

“I’m not--” Louis begins, placing a hand over his heart. He feels like a deer caught in the headlights, like he can’t move under her gaze, and that she is seeing into his very soul.

“I can see it in your eyes. If you’re not in love, you definitely have a crush. It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me right now. I just-- I wanna help.” She gives him a small smile, and runs a hand down his arm in a comforting gesture. “You know my crush, so it only seems fair.” She smiles one last time and is gone, the door shutting quietly behind her. Louis is still standing rooted to the spot, unsure of what just happened. He thinks he could cry with relief though because he doesn’t really have to pretend to be someone he isn’t with her.

 

__________

 

“Come on, H, it’s our senior year. You have to go to homecoming game,” Niall begs him over their lunch of shitty fucking pizza.

“No. It’s stupid. Picking a single week of school where people dress up like fools depending on the day to lead up to a football game where we are forced to show school spirit is the dumbest fucking concept we as a society have ever come up with, save religion in general. Why does it fucking matter if we win a football game?  Will it impact the world in any way…”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. You should at least go to the dance, though.” Niall rolls his eyes at what he knows was the beginning of another rant about religion and football from Harry.

“Oh an even better idea. Of course I’d want to go to some antiquated sexist dance where everyone's aim is to spike the punch and lose their virginity. Since I have more than three brain cells, that doesn't sound like my idea of a good time, Ni,” Harry responds. School dances are fucking stupid. He hates being around his classmates on a normal day, why on earth would he choose to be around them when he doesn't have to be? It is just another excuse to show who is the most popular and who has the most money. The ridiculous amount of time and energy people put into things that don't matter is unfathomable to Harry.

“Stop the fucking rant, H. I get it. You’re an asshole,” Niall waves away, rolling his eyes at his stubborn friend. “Louis would probably love it if you went though.”

“What does Louis have to do with this?” Harry asks, wondering how he was even brought into the conversation, but Niall always finds a way it seems.

“He likes you, and he’s the Running Back of the team, Haz,” Niall answers, looking at Harry like he has two heads for not knowing the position Louis plays.

“I figured he played something that had to do with running. He is incredibly fast,” Harry says, mostly to himself pointedly ignoring the first part of the sentence, while he takes a bite of the cardboard his school calls pizza, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. It’s not like he has any food waiting for him at home when he gets out of school. He has to eat what is available even though it is cardboard with shitting bits imitation pepperoni on top with something that is passable as cheese. It is exactly 3.6 seconds later when he realizes he fucked up with the comment. He holds his breath to see if Niall will pick up on what he had just said.

“Yeah. Running Back,” Niall agrees then drops his pizza slice on his tray and fixes Harry with quizzical blue eyes. Harry swallows dryly, waiting for the question he knows is coming. “Wait, I smell somthin’ fishy. How do you know he is fast? When have you seen him run? I know for a fact you’ve never seen him play in any of his football games.”

“Um--” Harry briefly considers lying, but he knows Niall will see right through him. He is a terrible liar, and Niall knows all of his tells. He decides to go with his usual approach, giving as little information as possible. “I saw him at the park this weekend after my interview.”

“Is that why you didn’t text me back for hours after your interview? You were with him?” Niall accuses loudly, pointing a finger at Harry.

“Shh, Ni. Fuck,” Harry says, puckering his lips and placing a finger up to them trying to get his very loud friend to shut the fuck up. He doesn't need the entire fucking school to know he hung out with Louis over the weekend.

“Harry, you’ve been keeping shit from me, which hurts because I am supposed to be your best friend,” Niall responds, and he really does look hurt. Harry can’t handle that. He may be a heartless bastard, but not even a serial killer could handle the look Niall is giving him. Fuck.

“I just ran into him at the park when I had finished my interview. He was with his sisters. They asked me to play two-hand-touch with them. That’s all. End of story,” Harry explains, sighing afterwards.

“So you played two-hand-touch, as in football, in your interview outfit?” Niall asks disbelievingly, and yes, when it is said that way, then it does sound unbelievable. Harry barely believes it happened himself. He would think it was a dream if it weren’t for Louis’ clothes sitting neatly folded on his bed, waiting to be returned to Louis. Harry kept forgetting them. He almost hated when he washed them because then they no longer smelled like the other man.

“Um-- no-- not really. Louis had some extra clothes that he let me borrow,” Harry mumbled looking down at his food, not wanting to meet Niall’s eyes. He feels like a child who was caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  

“This shit just keeps getting better and better,” Niall says with a shit eating grin. He claps his hands together, rubbing them back and forth as if it were Christmas morning, and Santa brought him an Xbox.

“It’s not like that. His little sisters begged me, and I couldn’t turn them down.” It was a lame excuse even to Harry’s ears. Niall’s smile didn’t even falter with it, in fact, it got bigger.

“So, already meeting the family, I see. What else happened? Give me details.” Niall’s eyes are sparkling with amusement, his lunch forgotten. When Niall forgets about food, Harry knows he is interested in the conversation because Niall never forgets about food.

“Nothing,” Harry insists, but he can feel a blush rising on his cheeks when he remembers ‘the straddling incident’ as he has been referring to it in his head, and Louis’ words while it was happening. His cock twitches in his overly tight jeans. Fuck.

“Bullshit. You’re blushing, something else had to have happened. You never blush unless it involves Louis Tomlinson.” Niall points an accusatory finger at him. Harry sighs, knowing he will probably give in soon.

“Fine. There may have been an accidental straddling incident,” Harry replies, not making eye contact with his friend. He is fidgeting, his toes turned inward under the table. He really didn’t want to admit it outloud and his face feels hot. It sounds so much worse than it is out loud, and he was really trying not to think about it. He has already stopped himself from wanking to the memory more times than he can count.

“How do you ‘accidentally’ straddle someone, Haz? You can accidentally lose your keys or accidentally trip over your own feet, but you don’t accidentally straddle someone.” Niall looks unconvinced, but remembers he has food and takes a large bite of his pizza.

“It was an accident,” Harry defends, finally meeting Niall's gaze. “He tackled me, and we kind of just sort of ended up that way.”

“But you said it was two-hand-touch. Why would he have tackled you?” Niall argues, letting his pizza fall to the tray again and fixes Harry with a hard stare, practically daring him to lie.

“Um-- he said he tripped,” Harry says shrugging because he really did say he tripped.

“Yeah, and I am the Easter Bunny,” Niall says rolling his eyes.

“Anyways, I am not going to homecoming,” Harry says, changing the subject because he doesn't think his poor neglected cock can even handle anymore discussion of the straddling incident.

“You have that night off. You already told me as much. Think about it, please? It will be fun, and it will get you out of the house,” Niall begs.

“Fine. I will think about it, but no promises,” Harry tells him, finishing off his pizza and standing up to take his tray to the trash.

“Alright. I’ll see you in class. I need to go catch Luke to see if he needs any help on his math homework,” Niall says, getting up and taking his tray in the opposite direction. Harry waves, dumping his tray in the trash can then placing it in it’s designated spot.

He turns around, surprised to see Louis talking to Liam, but Louis isn’t just with Liam. He is with Willow, and his arm is wrapped around her waist, his small hand resting on her hip stroking absentmindedly. What the fuck? Why is Louis holding her that way? Why-- why is he holding her with his hand on her fucking hip? Louis can't. He can't be holding her that way. Not after everything that has transpired between them. Not after the fucking straddling incident. Harry was beginning to actually believe that Louis liked him, as more than just a friend. He can't go through this again. Not again. This can’t be happening again. He feels bile rise in his throat as the pizza turns over in his stomach. How could he have been so stupid? His eyes come back up to Louis’ face making eye contact for a brief second. Louis’ expression is unreadable from this distance, but Harry just knows there is probably a smug smirk there, taunting him. This was probably his plan all along. Torment the weird kid. How could he have been so stupid as to believe that this was anything other than that?

Harry quickly turns around and walks away, not giving Louis a chance to react, to lie again, leaving the school completely. He can’t deal with anymore of Louis’ lies. He was just starting to believe him and now this? Louis and Willow are obviously dating. You don’t just stand like that, holding someone so intimately in the hallway with a hand on their hip. He needs to get the fuck away. His heart is in his throat, beating erratically, and his limbs start to shake. He absentmindedly scratches at the skin under his bracelets, feeling the raised scars under his fingernails from so long ago, taunting him, serving as a reminder of the past. He knows he will get in trouble, but he doesn't care. He just wants to get as far away from the school and as far away from Louis as possible. Not like his mom would actually do anything if he skips school. The school officials probably won’t even notice he isn’t there. Words from his past float through his mind like dark clouds in the sky.  

I hope you enjoy your time in hell you fag.

His eyes are stinging with unshed tears as he walks home, begging himself not to cry over Louis, and the fact that Louis seems to now have a girlfriend. He just can’t fathom it. Louis has a girlfriend. It’s the only possible conclusion to their close proximity to one another in the hallway. Louis is dating Willow. Willow the person he works with. He should have known better than to believe Louis had actually been flirting with him. Why would a guy like Louis ever be interested in someone as low on the social scale as Harry? Harry is nothing. Barely a blip on the radar of their high school. He feels so fucking naive to have ever let himself be convinced that Louis was actually interested in him. He made the same mistake twice. Harry runs his fingers through his dark curls pulling hard while silently belittling himself with words like ‘stupid’, ‘naive’, and ‘idiotic’.

Why on Earth would anyone ever be interested in a freak like you?

When he finally gets home, he goes straight to his bedroom, pulling off all of his clothes and jewellery. He sees Louis’ clothes neatly folded on his bed, and he breaks. He grabs them and throws them across the room, so angry with the reminder of his own stupidity. That day at the park was one of the best days he has had in awhile. He actually felt happy, and he thought-- he thought Louis was really flirting with him that day. With the jokes about balls and straddling and all of that. He was, wasn’t he? He watches as the clothes fall to the floor of his bedroom in a small heap, reminding him of when he first put them on. The smell of Louis taking over his senses. Fuck.

You’re disgusting. You’re so fucking stupid for thinking any of this was real.

He is shaking when he sits down on the bed, fat tears streaming down his face landing on his chest just staring at the stupid fucking clothes. A painful reminder of his own stupidity. Memories from middle school flash through his mind, the faces being replaced by Louis’. He feels like he can’t breathe, as if something heavy is sitting on his chest. It hurts, and his breath is coming out in short puffs. He looks down at the scars littering his forearm, then looks around frantically for a few moments needing the one thing that could make him feel better. Could take his mind off of the shitshow that is his life. He opens his nightstand and tries to find the only item that will take the pain away. He just needs a physical manifestation of how he is feeling.

God hates you. He hates your kind. You’re not worth the dirt you walk on.

After a few moments of rummaging around, his large hand finally lands on his pocket knife and pulls it out of his nightstand drawer, using shaking fingers to open the blade. He lets it glint in the natural sunlight of the room, briefly looking at his reflection in the shiny surface. His hair is disheveled and his eyes are rimmed red. He quickly shuts them, not wanting to see himself or the shame written all over his features. He doesn't even open them nor second guesses his hasty decision as he brings the blade down to his own alabaster skin, making a fist as he slices a clean and shallow horizontal line onto his forearm. It burns, but it takes his mind away from the pain he is feeling in his chest, which is exactly what he intended.

You're nothing but a filthy fag, an abomination.

He finally opens his eyes to watch the blood pool to the surface, a stark contrast on the paleness of the broken skin around. He lets his tears mingle with the red liquid, the salt making the area burn even more. They mix with the thickness of the blood, thinning it out so it runs down his arm, towards his elbow. As more memories from that night in middle school flash through his mind, he cuts more lesions into his skin, marking the area permanently. He barely feels it, though, but it is far better than the alternative which is reliving the worst night of his life. After a few more cuts, he looks down at what he has done, horrified that he let it come to this again. He let someone get to him. He hates himself so fucking much. He deserves this, deserves the pain he is causing himself. It is a punishment for being so fucking stupid, so naive. He made a promise to himself that he would never let anyone get to him again. Never let anyone bring him to this, but here he is, cutting himself, again. He is so fucking pathetic.

Someone needs to teach you what’s right and wrong.

Suddenly feeling shameful of his actions, he throws the knife across the room and curls up on his bed in the fetal position under the covers, trying to make himself as small as possible. He covers his ears, trying to block out the voices in his head. He can’t. All he can see are the memories, and Louis’ small hand wrapped around Willow’s waist, fingers stroking her fucking hip. The very same fingers that were tracing his palm just the other day. Fat tears are streaming down his face onto his pillow as his breaths start to come out in short and sharp. He presses onto the marks on his arms, trying to distract himself, but the action doesn’t work. He can feel himself sinking deeper and deeper, but he doesn't know if he wants to pull himself out of it. He doesn’t know if he can. His chest hurts, and he can’t breathe. His whole body begins shaking with his sobs, and his vision is starting to get blurry around the edges from lack of air. He is pretty sure he is dying, even though he has been through this before. This has to be what death feels like. If it is, then he welcomes it. He closes his eyes as more words are said viciously in his mind, being repeated over and over again like some kind of sick prayer. This time the voice has morphed into a familiar rasp, sounding like silk feels.

You're a freak , a nobody. No one would miss you, you know? I don’t know why you don’t just do the world a favor and kill yourself, you sick fuck.

Chapter Text

“image”

Dear Mother, Dear Father

What is this hell you put me through?

Believer, Deceiver

Day in, day out, lived my life through you

Pushed onto me what’s wrong or right

Hidden from this thing that they call life- Metallica

 

“Louis! If you don't get down here right this second, we will be late for the Church Homecoming!” His mom yells up the stairs. Louis sighs, rolling his eyes. He pulls his phone out for the 577th time that day checking to see if Niall has texted him back. He is disappointed to see he has no new notifications. Louis didn’t miss the pain that passed across Harry’s features when he saw him holding Willow during lunch on Friday. Harry disappeared after that. He wasn’t in class for the rest of the day, and nobody knew where he had gone. Niall had even seemed lost saying that he had just seen him at lunch, and he seemed fine. Louis couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that he had something to do with Harry’s disappearance. He felt sick just thinking about it, desperately wanting to explain everything to Harry.

He had texted Niall a few times, but Niall hadn’t really texted him back. The only thing he had said the first time was that he would check on him, but that was it. Louis is beginning to fear the worst about the whole situation. He really should have talked to him about it first, but he didn’t think he would react badly. Harry always seemed like he didn’t care about anyone or anything, so why would he care about this? Louis sighs, rubbing his face. This whole thing is fucked up, and he definitely doesn’t want to sit through church service and the church's Homecoming celebration.

“Coming!” Louis finally replies, glancing in the mirror. He looks weary and tired, older than his mere eighteen years. He told his mom and Mark about Willow. They are both very pleased with the news and told him to invite her to dinner during the upcoming week. Louis didn’t really want to think about it, but he was glad Willow at least knew everything. At least he didn’t have to do more than touch her waist and occasionally her hand. He walks down the stairs, already dreading the coming hours. He is thankful that Liam will be there to keep him company. He smiles at his sisters, in their Sunday best, when he gets to the bottom. This church service was a bit different than usual. It was being held later in the afternoon because they were eating afterwards to celebrate the opening of the church 26 years ago. Southern people are so strange.

“Ready to go? Got your Bible?” Mark asks, coming to stand in front of him. Louis nods in response, not in the mood to really talk. They all make a single file line as they head to his parent’s van, piling in, Louis and Lottie strapping Daisy and Phoebe into their booster seats.  The car is loud, like everything else in Louis’ life. It is exhausting constantly being surrounded by people. He rests his head against the window, trying to tune out the noise as he silently wishes he could be alone in his room. It suddenly dawns on him that he has never once in his entire life been truly alone. His parents had never ever left him alone in the house; he was always with them or surrounded by his family. In that moment, Louis wants nothing more than silence.

They arrive at the church quickly. There are an absurd amount of churches in the area for how small the town actually is. There is a church across the street from another church which is beside another church. What is the point in that? He knows they are different denominations, but don’t they all believe in and worship the same God? Why did there have to be so many denominations in the same religion? If they are all correct in the same God, then why all of the differences? He wants to ask Harry his questions, but he doesn't even know if Harry is currently speaking to him. He doesn’t even have Harry’s phone number, so he can’t text him. It is all very annoying and frustrating.

Louis gets out of the van, the rest of his siblings following behind him in their dresses, careful not to show anything inappropriate. The fact that his sisters have to wear dresses, and he gets to wear actual pants is kind of bullshit to him. Why are women treated so differently in church? He shakes the thought away, eyes going to the sign situated outside of the red brick building. They change the phrase depicted every week, this time it reads ‘Some books are written for our information. The Bible was written for our transformation.’ What the fuck does that even mean? They need to fire whichever old lady it is that scours the internet to find these things because that one is terrible.

Louis walks through the doors of the small church, shaking hands with everyone he sees, smiling politely. He smiles and waves at Liam when their eyes meet. Liam waves back, then says something to his mom who is sitting beside him. Louis takes his normal seat in the fifth pew back, sitting on the end beside Phoebe. He and Lottie sandwich the two younger girls between them, helping to keep them quiet during the service. He doesn't blame them. Five year olds must be bored out of their skull during something that they don’t understand. His mom didn’t start going to church until after she met Mark, then he was forced to go along. He was around six at that point. He just remembers constantly being told to sit still and listen to the preacher. It was hard for him. He was always an active child who struggled staying in one place. It is still hard for him now, and he is an adult.

Louis sits quietly as the preacher opens the service with a prayer, bowing his head at the appropriate moment and kind of praying along. He usually enjoys church, listening to the songs, singing along. He enjoyed hearing what the preacher had to say, learning from him, but today he would rather be anywhere but here. Harry’s words and his own research float through his brain as members get up to sing off key religious songs like I’ll Fly Away and Victory in Jesus with no music. He sings along, mostly because he knows the songs by heart. Next, individual people get up to sing a song of their choosing, some good singers, others in desperate need of a lesson from Mr. Tennant. After this, one of the preachers in attendance rises from his seat and asks if there are any prayer requests, and so the seemingly unending segment of ‘please pray for my son, he hasn’t found god yet, blah blah blah’ has begun. Great, another fucking prayer. He bows his head again, trying to count how many there are in a single church service. He still isn’t sure when the last Amen is said, and he is allowed to look up again.

Finally, the first preacher comes up to alter, starting off with a story about his grand child seeing a gay couple on television. Fucking great. Louis knows exactly where this is going. Before he knows it, the preacher is practically screaming at them. His face resembles the american flag, white skin, blue lips from lack of oxygen, and red blotches all over. Fitting now that Louis thinks about it. His old worn Bible is held in the air above his head as he paces the stage, taking in huge gulps of air every few words or so. Louis can barely understand what he is saying and wonders if anyone else does as they nod their heads. Occasionally someone would hold up their hand, shouting ‘amen’ in agreeance. He can pick out yelled words here and there like ‘hellfire’, ‘abomination’, ‘damnation’, and ‘Lord’, but nothing of substance. It is like he is watching the church service with new eyes. It all seems so strange now that he really considers it.

“So if you know,” the out of shape man starts, winding down and breathing heavily with the exertion of screaming. His face is now the color of a tomato, spit on his chin and lips, and breaths coming out in short puffs. It is gross and makes Louis want to hurl. Louis briefly wonders if the man is going to go into cardiac arrest then surprises himself when he realizes he may not want to actually call an ambulance for him.

“So if you know someone who is suffering from the disease of homosexuality, bring them in and let the Lord’s saving grace heal them. May he lay his healing hands on their skin and repair their mind to His ways. Through him, they will see light and salvation. So pray for them. Pray that they see the flaw in their filthy ways and seek out the Lord for deliverance.” Louis barely suppresses an eye roll when he hears several people say Amen, Mark raising his hand to the ceiling when the word leaves his lips.

“That’s all the preaching that we will have today, seein’ as we still need to celebrate Homecoming. Please come up and sing while we pass around the collection plate, any money given is a donation to God and His word.” Louis watches as members of the congregation walk up to the stage and begin singing even more old church hymns, a gold collection plate being passed around and filled with money, while the preacher stands in front of the altar, yelling, yet again, about being saved and giving your heart to the Lord.  Mark drops a fifty dollar bill in when it gets into his hands. Louis thinks of all the better ways Mark could spend that fifty dollars, all of the meals he could buy for starving children. Instead it is going into the pocket of some preacher to keep the lights on in one of the many churches located in the area. Louis sighs in relief when he bows his head for the last prayer, thanking the heavens that it is almost over. Yes, he realizes how ironic that is, but it is what it is.

“Hey, how are ya?” Liam asks, when everyone gets up from their seats and begins filling out of the church to walk to the building adjacent to where the food is being served.

“I’m okay, I suppose,” Louis answers, not wanting to tell him that he now has a migraine from the stupid shit the preacher was spouting. He is pretty sure that wouldn’t go over too well with Liam and all of the nosey people crowded around them. He thinks that a plastic surgeon would make a killing in this town seeing as everyone has big noses that they place firmly in everyone else’s business. Then again, he would probably starve to death from lack of work since none of them seem to want to change. They can easily see what they deem the error in the general population’s ways, but could never see how they are at fault. It is ridiculous really. He follows behind Liam as they make their way into the adjacent building, the smell of home cooked food hitting Louis’ nostrils making his stomach growl.

“Emanuel will be here to bless the food in just a moment,” a woman tells them when Louis reaches for a plate. Oh yes, he forgot. He can’t fucking eat without God’s blessing. Please forgive him. Finally the preacher from earlier, Emanuel, arrives and says grace, Louis bowing his head simply because he didn’t want Mark to notice if he didn’t. He and Liam talk about football as they make their way through the line, piling their plates high with food. If nothing else, at least these people can cook. They find a seat at a table by themselves, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. A group of five old women sit at the long table with them, discussing the most recent sermon. Louis knows them all. One of them is Emanuel's wife and others are married to various men in power at the church. Louis tunes them out while he eats, answering Liam’s questions on the made up story about how he met Willow. Well it’s not really made up, but he skimmed over the details of their deal.

“You know who I think needs Jesus? That Harry Styles boy,” one of the old ladies says, moving her fork around in the air with the statement. Louis’ ears prick up when he hears Harry’s name on the lady’s lips. He glances over at Liam who also seems to be listening intently to their conversation.

“Oh. That boy who wears them there tight pants and black clothes? He’s kind of funny, ain’t he? Not right, I tell ya,” Ruth replies, beady eyes watching as all the women nod in agreement. What the fuck does that even mean? He’s kind of funny? As in he has a good sense of humor? Louis doesn’t think that’s the case. He thinks it some weird southern phrase that he will need to add to his fucking list. He has never heard that term before though. He is beginning to think his definition of funny is very different than theirs because there is a malice in her voice when she says it, her tone dripping with disdain. Almost as though she believes she is too good to say the actual word she wants to use. As if the word itself will taint her blessed soul.  

“I think that boy’s queerer than a football bat, mark my words on that ‘un. He’s got the devil in him,” Anna-Lou agrees, nodding her head while she puts a fork full of green beans in her mouth, chewing slowly. She probably doesn't want her dentures to fall out. So that's what the phrase ‘kind of funny’ means. It means she thinks Harry is gay. Queerer than a football bat? Who comes up with this shit? Louis can feel the anger rising in his chest, gripping his throat like a vice. How dare these women talk about Harry when he can’t even defend himself. So what if he wears tight pants and black clothes? That doesn’t make him bad in any way. Or necessarily gay for that matter.

“I’d have a hissy fit if he were my son. I would make him straighten up. Doesn’t make a lick of sense why his mamma would let him act that way,” Polly adds, the other women making sounds of approval. Is a ‘hissy fit’ the equivalent to a tantrum? Louis wants to scream at every single one of these despicable excuses for good christian women. He bites his tongue to hold the words in, the metallic taste of blood filling his mouth. He chances a glance at Liam who looks just as angry, a fire behind his dark eyes.

“I agree. He is gayer than a two dollar bill. He is going straight to hell in a handbasket if he don’t change his wicked ways though.” Edna’s decrepit and blotched hands are shaking as she scoops up some chicken and dumplings with her fork, bringing the food to her wrinkled lips. She shakes her head, and Louis wonders if her fake hair piece is going to go flying off and land in her food. Why on earth would anyone go to hell in a handbasket? What the fuck does that even mean? He can feel his cheeks heating up with his anger. He just wants to yell at them to mind their own fucking business, but he can’t. Mark would ground him for a month if he even so much as as utters a single word to defend someone like Harry. Someone like himself.

“It’s ‘cause he’s from a broken home. He don't have a father to beat him like a red headed step child for acting that way,” Donna says around a mouth full of food, spitting the contents all over her plate and the table in front of her. Louis barely suppresses a grimace. Beat him for being himself? What the fuck does  a ginger child who was adopted have to do with this? He is a step-child himself. Does that mean he needs to be beaten? Or is it because his hair isn’t red that his body can stay in tact? Was it really necessary to bring Harry’s family into this? Why do these people have to be so hypocritical? He is sure their hands aren’t clean. They aren’t perfect and sin free. The more Louis thinks about it, the angrier he gets.

“All we can do is pray for his wicked soul. Pray that the Holy Father helps him see the error in his ways and brings him into the church. Bless his heart,” Anna-Lou says, bowing her head and shaking it, as if it is the most despicable thing she had ever heard.  How dare they talk about Harry like that. They don’t know him. They wouldn’t even get to know him. He just dresses in dark clothes and wears tight jeans. Neither of those things make him gay. Even if he was gay, why does it matter? There are way worse things that a person could be. He could be a pedophile or he could torture puppies in his free time. Gay isn’t bad. Is it?

“I think I need some air,” Louis mumbles to Liam, getting up from the table, leaving his half eaten food behind. He goes outside, breathing in the cool air, trying to calm his racing mind and tamp down some anger. He is physically shaking from his rage, wanting to strangle some old women, as terrible as that sounds. It just that… they had no right to talk about Harry like that. They don’t even know him. Why does he have to go to hell for being different? Is he doing anything wrong? Is Louis doing anything wrong? Is there something inherently evil for loving a person of the same sex? Louis used to think so, but now he isn’t so sure.

If there is one thing Harry has taught him, it’s that religion is flawed. Louis closes his eyes with the questions racing through his mind. He can feel his eyes stinging with unshed tears, frustrating him further. He feels helpless and confused. He hits the brick wall of the church in anger and cries out when pain shoots through his hand and up his arm. At least it’s a fucking distraction from his thoughts, Harry, the church, fucking everything. He blinks away tears from the pain and anger, willing himself not to cry. His mom or Mark could come out looking for him any second, and he has no idea what he would say to them. He certainly can’t tell them truth. ‘Sorry, mom and Mark, I came out here because those old bitches were talking badly about a guy that I am completely falling for. The whole thing is incredibly frustrating because I can’t tell how he feels about me. Oh yeah, by the way, I am going to hell for liking men, apparently in a handbasket, what ever in the fuck that means.’ He could never ever say that. He doesn't even know if he can admit half of it to himself yet.

“You alright, man?” Louis hears Liam’s voice behind him. Louis takes a deep breath and puts his now bleeding and shaking hand down to his side. Fuck, what has his life become? Before they came to this godforsaken town, he thought he knew everything. He knew that God was real and would love him after he apologized for his sins of being with men. He was supposed to find a good christian wife to settle down with, have their 2.5 perfect children and live the fucking American dream. Now everything has changed. His whole world feels like it is tilted on its axis, and he is so fucking dizzy.  

He should hate Harry. He should blame him for all of this, but he can’t because Louis asked the fucking questions. Harry even warned him, and made sure he truly wanted to know. He said he did, and what an over confident idiot he was. He thought nothing Harry could say would change his mind because he had faith. Faith in a church that hates him. Faith in a God that would send him to hell for love. He had faith, and he thought that with faith, nothing could shake him. He can’t blame Harry for telling him the fucking truth. He tightens his good hand into a fist, frustrated with everything. He thought he had faith in his heart, but now he isn’t so sure. He isn’t sure of anything, and he wants to scream. He blinks a few times before he turns to his friend, pasting on what he hopes to be a reassuring smile.

“Yeah. I’m fine. I just needed some air I think,” Louis tells him. It’s not a lie. He did need air, he just hopes it is convincing enough. He can tell by the look on Liam’s face that he failed. It is not. Fuck.

“Look, man.” Liam’s dark eyebrows draw together in worry, eyes looking at him tenderly. Louis takes a deep breath, completely unsure of where this conversation is going to go. “I heard what they were saying about Harry. I know he’s your friend, kind of. I’m sorry they were being like that.”

“It’s fine. Not your fault. Plus, Harry is barely my friend. Sure we talk occasionally, but that’s about it,” Louis lies because what else is he supposed to do? He isn’t embarrassed of Harry, but he also doesn't know if he trusts Liam enough to not tell his parents. He is terrified of his parents. Mark more specifically.

“Lou, I know you talk more than occasionally. You constantly pass notes in class. You’re the only person he doesn’t openly ignore besides Niall,” Liam says, a small knowing smile on his lips. Fuck. He didn’t know he was being that obvious. If Liam noticed, then how many people at school did? How long would it be before it got back to his family? That Louis was friends with a guy some of the people in church think is what were the terms? ‘Kind of funny’, ‘Queerer than a football bat’ and his favorite ‘Gayer than a two dollar bill,’ that was it. Maybe they won’t hear or believe the old women. His parents are the type to prefer living in blissful ignorance than cold hard truth. They would probably convince themselves that he was a fine young man, despite the clothes. They may not have even heard the old ladies talking. He may be panicking for nothing.

“I’m sorry. It just pissed me off. Like, they don’t even know him, Li, and they were talking about him when he wasn’t even there to defend himself.” Louis can feel the anger rising in his throat, gripping at his heart for a second time. He tightens his hands into fists again, wincing at the pain of his right hand.

“It made me angry, too. I get it. In fact, after you left I might have told them that it wasn’t very Christainly to gossip about teenage boys. They were appalled, but I don’t care.” Liam shrugs, and for the first time in his shitty fucking day, Louis smiles. He is so happy he could kiss him if Liam were his type that is, but it seems his only type is green eyes, curly hair, intellect, and dark clothes. Go figure.

“Thank you, Li. Fuck, thank you,” Louis says, beaming at his friend now. Liam’s features break into a smile of his own.

“You’re welcome. Maybe Harry won’t hate me if he finds out.” Liam laughs. Louis doesn't think Harry hates Liam. He just doesn't trust him. Louis is pretty sure that Harry currently hates him though which hurts him more than he thinks he can admit.

“He probably likes you better than he likes me,” Louis mumbles looking down.

“Look, I don’t know what happened on Friday, but I could tell you were worried about him. I’m sure he doesn't hate you though. I meant what I said. You’re the only person in school he doesn't glare at for so much as looking in his direction besides, Niall. That’s gotta count for something, right?” Liam reassures him, smiling when Louis finally looks up.

“I hope so,” Louis responds, not entirely convinced by Liam’s words, but at least his friend tried.

“Come on. Let’s go in and get that hand of yours cleaned up then go back in there and eat, so our parents don’t notice,” Liam says, looking down at Louis’ now throbbing hand. He has blood dripping down his fingers, hitting the gravel beside his feet. He didn’t mind the pain at the time, it was a good distraction. Now it just hurts, but it is still serving as a distraction to his inner turmoil. He just nods and follows Liam inside.

 

___________

 

Harry feels sick as he walks to work on Sunday. He knows he will be seeing Willow since he is relieving her for the afternoon. She has evening church service with her family, of-fucking-course. That’s probably why Louis likes her. She is a perfect little church girl. Three things that he can’t be. Three things that make him the total opposite of her. She’s a christian. They probably met in the Bible Club. Probably a virgin and clings to the old rugged cross with her purity ring perfectly intact on her finger. Probably the type that doesn’t say the word shit, because it's dirty and the ‘s’ stands for Satan or something equally ridiculous. She most likely cries in biology when evolution is discussed and firmly believes both Darwin and Obama are the Antichrist. Fuck. She probably makes a cake on Christmas because she believes it to be Jesus’ birthday, which it isn’t.

He knows it isn’t logical to blame her. She isn’t a bad person. He has talked to her a few times since starting at the shop, but they haven’t really worked together yet. She seemed cool, which makes Harry somehow angrier. He doesn't think she is overly popular, not the type to date a jock, but still she is dating a jock. His jock. Fuck. No. Louis isn't his. He never was it seems. Harry is a fucking moron for ever believing differently. Again. He did it again. At least this time he didn’t get physically hurt. Well, no more than what he inflicted on himself. He glances down, making sure the sleeves of his shirt are covering the new marks. They are. Thankfully it is getting cooler now, so he will be able to wear long sleeves more often. He pulls himself from his dark thoughts as he swings open the door to the shop. It is usually pretty slow on Sunday’s given that it’s ‘God’s Day’ and all, but Mac doesn’t seem to care about that. Thank the gods.

“Hey, Harry. Good to see you.” Willow smiles at him, looking unsure by her words. She must have noticed him on Friday. Fuck. That means Louis must have noticed him, too. Great. That’s all he fucking needs. Thankfully Louis didn’t have his cell number, and he threatened Niall by life and limb if he so much as even considered giving it to him. Niall is a good friend. Niall keeps texting him, but he keeps on ignoring it, ashamed that he went back to his old habits. Niall is the only person in the world that knew about it. Well his mom, kind of, but she didn’t know the extent. Niall even went as far as coming over to his house yesterday, but he pretended not to be home. Instead, he laid in his bed and ignored the constant knocking for twenty minutes until Niall gave up. He knows it is cruel, but he can’t deal. He just can’t. He doesn’t want to think about it, and he sure as shit doesn’t want to see the disappointment cross Niall’s features. The pity. Harry hates pity.

“Is it true?” Harry blurts out, not knowing what else to say to his coworker. It is the question that has been on his mind for the past few days. The only one he can think of besides the words to belittle himself and old memories he is trying to suppress. He spent the rest on Friday and all of Saturday mostly in bed or writing in his journal, attempting to get his feelings on paper. He barely got up to eat, but that is mostly because they didn’t have any food in the house. His mom was home for a few hours on Saturday, and asked him if he was okay. He lied. Of course, he lied. She didn’t need the added burden of a fucked up son. She already had that once.

“Is what true?” Willow stutters out.

“You know what I’m talking about. Don’t play dumb with me. Is it true that you’re dating Louis fucking Tomlinson?” He asks, his anger rising threatening to suffocate him. He knows she isn’t dumb, and he doesn't appreciate people avoiding his questions. He is the only person allowed to avoid questions, thank you very much. His hands are clenched into fists as she stutters again, looking down at them and looking back up at him, brown eyes large with fear.

“Harry. I--I think that is s--something you need to ask Louis,” she responds, quickly grabbing her jacket and running for the door. “Um-- I’ll see you at school tomorrow. I’m sorry. Talk to Louis and let him explain. Bye.” Before Harry can utter another sentence she is gone. What the fuck? He doesn't need to talk to Louis. In fact, he would be perfectly content never seeing the bastard’s face ever again. What does she mean by explain? What the fuck would Louis have to explain? Harry feels sick just thinking about it, more questions than answers floating around in his mind.

He sighs looking around the now empty shop. He is just so fucking tired. He hasn’t slept in the last two days, insomnia kicking in at full force. He doesn't even know how he is still standing and breathing. More importantly, he doesn't know why he is. He doesn’t feel present, like he is living his life from outside his own body, simply going through the motions. He doesn’t really feel anything anymore, closing himself back off to the outside world, to people like Louis. Mostly he feels like he is watching his life through a movie, not really living it. It is welcome. This way he doesn't have to think, just watch himself go through the motions of his own existence. A pathetic existence at that.

At first he felt betrayed, stupid and a blinding anger that almost consumed him. Now, he is simply numb. Numb to the pain and the hurt. Numb to the reality that he was stupid enough to put himself in this position again. He made a promise to himself that he would never let anything like this happen to him again, and yet, he had fallen for the new kid. With his bright blue eyes and his wide perfect smile and his endless fucking questions, that he had been unable to ignore. It was he who bore the scars of that choice, of the decision to put his faith and trust in Louis. Faith. There is that stupid fucking word again. Faith is for people who actually want to believe in something. Faith is for sheep, and Harry will not be a fucking sheep. Harry should have never had faith in anyone or anything except truth, facts, science and himself. Louis fucking Tomlinson did not fit into any of those categories.

It is unfathomable that he actually began to allow himself to believe that Louis really was different from all the others. That he saw the real him. The Harry that he hid away from the world. The part of himself that so desperately wanted to be set free but never could be. He let himself believe that Louis genuinely saw that in him, saw past the brick walls he’d so carefully erected all those years ago. He had put a crack in the foundation, letting sunlight through for the first time in years, and now Harry’s heart and mind were in tatters. Harry deserved this. He deserved what he got because he was stupid. He deserves to pay for his misplaced faith and trust. He should have known better. So yes, Harry deserves this. He deserves the pain, the cuts, and the scars. The marks that will serve as punishment and a reminder of his own stupidity. He thought he had enough of those, but it seems he didn’t learn his lesson the first time.

Slipping on the mask again was easy. He should have never let his guard down in the first place. Should never have let someone in. How could he be foolish enough to let someone see him without his mask firmly in place, even though it was mere moments in time. Louis still saw it though. He still saw Harry smile and laugh. He still had knowledge of the intimate details of Harry's existence. It still happened. He just hoped that Louis wouldn’t use it against him now. It was stupid on his part. Pure fucking stupidity. He doesn’t know if he has ever hated himself more. The first time was a mistake of his own naivete. This time, though, he had no excuse. What was the old saying? Oh yeah, fool him once shame on them, fool him twice, shame on him. Fuck. He just wants to sleep, because it is the only time that he is free from the thoughts swirling around his mind, but that won’t be happening any time soon. His brain won’t shut off, so after his shift he will probably go home and just stare at the wall for hours, trying not to think of blue eyes, freckled cheeks, or a bright crinkly eyed smile.

 

____________

 

Harry skipped school on both Monday and Tuesday. It is now Wednesday, and Louis is biting on his fingers anxiously, waiting to see if Harry walks through the door. When he asked Niall where Harry had been, the other boy just said he was sick and left it at that. Something about that excuse didn’t sit right with Louis though. His stomach churned in knots at the idea of Harry being upset because of him, with him. Fuck. This whole fucking situation was a mess. He rubs his hands up and down his face, feeling the bandage on his right hand scratch at his skin, trying to rub away the remnants of this hellish week, starting with last Friday. It doesn’t work. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong with Harry. He feels sick thinking about it. Fuck.

His head snaps up when he hears the door open, eyes landing on Harry’s tall frame. He is wearing a long sleeved, plain gray t-shirt, with a pair of skinny jeans and black boots. His hair is a tangled mess on his head, as if he tossed and turned in his sleep, black beanie perched on top of his curls, covering most of them. His skin is pale, and his face looks gaunt like he hasn’t eaten or slept in days. His eyes, though, his eyes send a painful pang through Louis’ heart. They are hollow, almost as if he has pulled away from the world itself. They are bloodshot, the green contrasting with the red, with deep bags under them. His lips are still red, so fucking red, Louis just wants to kiss them.

Louis tries to get Harry’s attention as he walks through the door, but Harry ignores him completely, taking a seat beside Niall with his head down, headphones firmly in place. Louis’ heart drops when he realizes he may be back to square one with Harry. All of the time and effort he put into to trying to break through Harry’s walls has gone to waste. Harry has sealed up any cracks Louis managed to make with fucking concrete, closing himself off once again. Harry obviously hates him, this time with good reason. Louis wants to scream or cry or hit something or maybe all three. Anything to relieve the tightness in his chest. Fuck. He doesn't even know if he can get Harry to speak to him. The other boy isn’t even talking to Niall. Louis forces away tears and tries to ignore the knot in his stomach as Mr. Tennent starts speaking.

Louis spends the rest of the day being completely ignored by Harry, the other boy even going as far as to change his seat in the all of their shared classes, prefering to sit with the nerdy kids over Louis, Niall and Liam. By the end of the day, Louis’ heart feels like it may stop beating at any minute, and his stomach feels like it was left in the lunchroom on Friday when this shit storm began. He never meant to hurt Harry, and he hates himself for doing so. He had just gotten him to smile around him, too. He thought he was making strides in their friendship, leading to possibly more, but Mark had to go and fuck that up. Mark is destined to fuck Louis’ entire life up at the rate he is going. Louis just finished with Football practice and sees Willow, waving to her as he approaches.

“Any luck?” She asks, her brown eyes large and hopeful. She told him about her conversation with Harry at the music store on Sunday. She figured out that Harry was the one Louis had a crush on from there. Louis was just shocked that Harry asked her about it. That should have been his clue that Harry had been upset about the whole situation, but he ignorantly believed that Harry would actually allow Louis to speak with him. Louis wants desperately to clear this up, tell Harry the reason why he is dating Willow, but he can’t. Harry won’t even so much as look at him, and telling Harry means telling someone else that he is attracted to men. He doesn't know if he can. As of now, the only person in his life that knows is Willow. Can he really tell someone else the secret he has been hiding for so long? He only suspects that Harry is just like him, but he doesn't know .

“No,” Louis sighs, blinking back tears for the 163rd time that day. How did everything get so fucked up? It was going so well too.

“He’ll come around eventually, you just need to get him to talk to you,” Willow reassures, placing a comforting hand on his bicep.

“Even if I did, what the fuck would I say?” Louis asks, closing his eyes and wishing to go back in time. To talk to Harry before all of this happened. Why the fuck was he so stupid?

“The truth?” Willow says it like it’s a question.

“What if-- what if he isn’t like me?” Louis finally asks the question that has been plaguing him since this morning. This is the first chance he has gotten to voice it, being alone outside with the one person in the world that knows his secret.

“Do you really think he would be acting this way if he didn’t have some sort of feelings for you? He couldn’t mask the hurt in his eyes when he asked me about it Sunday,” Willow reasons, trying to get Louis to look her in the eyes.

“No. I can’t think of another reason for him to be so upset with me. I literally did nothing wrong. Maybe I did, and I didn’t even realize it. Maybe I have missed the mark completely, and he isn’t mad at me for dating someone,” he responds, searching Willow’s brown eyes for answers he knows he would only find in green ones. He feels so confused about the whole fucked up situation. He racks his brain for anything that could have happened before Lunch on Friday. Anything at all, but he comes up short. He literally can’t think of anything else that would be bothering Harry.

“I don’t think you’ve missed the mark, Lou. I really don’t,” Willow says earnestly, like she really believes her words. Louis wishes he could, but he just doesn't know.

“What if it has nothing to do with me, and he is just having family issues or something? Like what if I am jumping to conclusions, and I am totally wrong, then tell him about how I feel?” Louis knows he is rambling, coming up with the most outrageous scenarios, but he can’t help it.

He doesn't know if he can actually tell Harry. He has no idea why he decided to pursue the other boy in the first place. He never thought of the day he actually had to tell someone. Maybe he believed that Harry would be the first to come out with it, literally, but that was false hope. Getting Harry to tell him his name was like pulling teeth, so why was Louis delusional enough to believe Harry would have told him first?

“What if I was totally wrong all along, and he finds out and tells the whole fucking school? What if he tells my parents?” He asks, eyes stinging with tears, frustrated by everything.

“That’s just a chance you have to be willing to take. Is he worth the risk?” Willow asks, and that is a good fucking question.

Is Harry Styles worth the risk? His brain is screaming ‘no’. His heart, though, has been in physical pain all day from this, each thought of Harry sending another stab. His fucking heart says ‘yes.’ Just picturing Harry smiling again, makes it float like a bubble in the breeze, but the moment he thinks of the opposite, the bubble bursts.

“Maybe I should just let him be upset and forget about him. I never thought of what would actually come of this. That I would have to tell him, and I don’t know if I can. I just don’t. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to put it all behind me with my secret perfectly intact.”

He just feels like such an idiot, like he should have actually thought about it before he even considered flirting with Harry. What the hell had been thinking? He wasn’t, and that was the problem. He feels so fucking stupid. His head hurts with the endless questions, and his heart hurts from the whole fucking situation. He just wants to go home and sleep, but he can’t.

“Are you really going to let your own fear make the decision for you?” Willow asks, her tone stern, like this is something she is passionate about.

Louis almost throws Tara in her face. Willow certainly won’t tell Tara about her feelings, but Louis would never do that. Willow and Tara were a completely different situation, and it would be unfair to compare them. Plus, Willow is just trying to help. She is the only person he can talk to and be honest with, and he fears pissing her off because she knows enough to bury him. Literally. Mark would probably kill him if he ever found out.

“I don’t know,” he says finally, biting his lip. He takes a deep breath in through his nose, as if the fresh air outside will make his heart stop aching.

It doesn’t. Praying also doesn’t seem to help. Maybe it’s because he is praying over a man, and God would never answer a prayer to sin. Maybe this is all happening because God is trying to teach him a lesson. God wants him to know that he shouldn’t be questioning his faith, and he shouldn’t be lusting after a man. He knows it's wrong, so maybe this is his punishment. Maybe he deserves this pain and heartache for being attracted to someone of the same sex. This could be a sign from God telling him he should stop. The idea makes him want to cry.

The very thought takes him back to church on Sunday when those hypocritical old women were saying those awful things about Harry. He was angry at the time for Harry, but also for himself. They may as well have been talking about him, but he can’t help but wonder if this is God’s way of telling him that he needs to not be with Harry. Harry acting this way and ignoring him is a sign that he should have never been attracted to him in the first place. The pain in his chest and gut serving as a harsh reminder that his desire is an abomination against God, a direct violation of His holy word. Everything in the universe kind of points to it right now, doesn’t it? The church service about homosexuality, Louis questioning his faith, now Harry being upset with him all adds up to God being angry. Him not wanting them together, but Louis wants them together. Why aren’t they allowed to be together like couples of the opposite sex? Why can’t they be the same?

“Just-- Just think about it,” she tells him, snapping Louis out of his turbulent thoughts.

She looks him in the eye, gives him a small smile then pulls him in for a hug. This is the most they have touched, but fuck he needs it. He feels so lost, and even worse, he feels alone. He would normally talk to Harry when he is questioning his faith, but Harry won’t speak to him. Again bringing him back, full-fucking-circle, to his previous conclusion. God doesn’t want them to be together.

“Thanks, Will,” Louis says, returning her hug, sinking into her warmth. He pulls away slowly, leaving his hand on her arms. “Ready to go to my house for dinner? Meet the parents?” He freezes after he says the last words, eyes trained behind Willow.

Harry is already quickly walking away from them, down the street. He doesn't have his headphones in, and Louis is almost sure Harry heard the question. He feels panic gripping his throat. What if he heard the entire fucking conversation? What if he now knows Louis’ secret? Oh God. Louis feels sick. He barely ate lunch, and now it feels like it is going to come back up any moment now. Fuck.

“What?” Willow asks, feeling Louis change in posture and demeanor. She looks around, spotting Harry’s quickly retreating form. “Oh shit.”

“Oh shit, indeed,” Louis says debating about running after his... well he isn’t sure what Harry is to him anymore. He isn’t sure if they were ever really friends. He decides not to because Harry obviously doesn’t want to speak to him, and his parents are already going to be angry at him for being late since his conversation with Willow put them five minutes behind. With a sigh, he starts walking towards his car, Willow following silently behind. Louis takes the minutes in the car to prepare Willow for what was to come, which also takes his mind off the Harry situation for the first time today.

Chapter Text

“image”

Did you really think by pushing me

I would become what you want me to be?

And did you really think by hurting me

I'd open up and just hand you the key?

I know you're scared and don't understand

This is my life, this is who I am

What I do know is come judgement day

Before the lord can you say the same?- In This Moment

 

“Mom, Mark! We’re here,” Louis yells, announcing their presence as soon as they walk through the door. He offers Willow an encouraging smile before he turns back towards the noise of someone entering the room.

“Louis. I told you not to call me that, especially in front of guests. You are to call me Dad or Father,” Mark warns, and Louis barely suppresses an eye roll. He hates calling Mark either of those titles because he simply doesn't deserve it in Louis’ eyes.

He has been trying to change Louis since the very moment he married his mother. He wants to mold Louis into his ideal son which is something Louis doesn’t think he is capable of being. He will never be the perfect son in Mark’s eyes, and honestly, he is getting tired of trying. It is difficult being a constant disappointment to the only man who has ever resembled a father figure to him. He is too short, his voice too high pitched, his actions too feminine. Louis is honestly surprised he hasn’t ended up in Military School to ‘toughen him up’, like Mark has threatened in the past. He has a suspicion that his mom has something to do with him still being in public school.

It has only been recently that Louis began referring to him by his actual name in conversation, which has just served to piss Mark off even more. Louis may or may not do it because of that though. Anything to help him feel like he has control over his own life, even something as small as calling Mark by his given name and not a title he doesn’t deserve. He would much rather refer to Mark with a title like ‘asshole’, ‘shitprick’, or his personal favorite, ‘fuckstick’ since those are titles Mark deserves. He would be murdered if he so much as even muttered those words anywhere near Mark, since they are curse words, and he isn’t allowed to swear. Mark does it though, but he is a fucking hypocrite. He is a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ kind of ‘leader’, so Louis can’t imagine what would be done to him if he used them as actual titles for Mark.

“I’m sorry,” Louis mumbles, looking down at the floor. He decides to toe off his shoes, so it doesn't seem like he is avoiding Mark’s gaze, even though that is definitely what he is doing.

“You must be Willow. Louis has told us so much about you,” Jay greets then, coming to stand beside Mark, smiling at Willow warmly and shaking her hand. Louis’ mom really is amazing and caring. He has no idea why she chose to marry someone like Mark. Financial security. That has to be it.

“Yup. That’s me,” Willow responds smiling nervously then moving to shake Mark’s hand. “Thank you for having me Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson.”

“Please call me Jay,” she waves off.

“You may refer to me as Mr. Tomlinson,” Mark replies, standing so tensely, the stick lodged firmly up his ass will never ever have the chance to come out or see the light of day. That poor fucking stick. What a terrible existence. Being in a dark place, gripped tightly, with no light for the rest of its life. Louis kind of feels it’s pain though, since most days he feels he leads a similar reality. Louis glances over at Willow, watching as she barely conceals a grimace from Mark’s comment. Maybe Harry can teach her how to better hide her facial expressions, if Harry ever talks to either one of them again that is. Fuck, at this point, he will be lucky if Willow doesn’t call this whole shitshow off within the hour.

“Well. Dinner is ready,” Jay says, somewhat breaking the tension that has built in the room.

“Yes. Hopefully it is not cold, since Louis seems to have taken his time getting you two here.” Just like that, the tension is back ten fold. Mark turns towards the dining room, without another comment. Louis tries to offer Willow a reassuring smile as they follow Mark and Jay into the dining room.

“Lou! You’re here!” Phoebe exclaims from the table causing the rest of his sisters to look at them.

“Yup, love. We just got here.” Louis smiles at his sisters. They always put him in a better mood.

“Who’s that?” Daisy asks, pointing at Willow.

“It’s not nice to point, Daisy,” Mark reprimands, and Louis very much wants to punch him. She is a child. It is normal to be curious, but heaven forbid she actually ask a question. Literally, it seems as though heaven actually forbids questions.

“This is Willow, my girlfriend,” Louis introduces, smiling at his sister, deciding to ignore Mark’s comment completely.

“Oh. What about Harry?” Daisy asks, her blue eyes wide, expression innocent. Louis freezes though. Fuck. Maybe his parents didn’t hear the question. At least he hopes they didn’t.

“Who’s Harry, darling?” Jay questions, curiosity lacing her words.

“He’s just a friend from school. I saw him at the park the other day when I took the girls to play,” Louis supplies, trying to stay as close to the truth as possible.

“Harry’s pretty,” Phoebe adds, as if that is the most important fact about the entire experience, and she can’t believe Louis would have left that out.

“Phoebe, honey, boys aren’t pretty. They are handsome. Only girls can be pretty, so please never use that word to describe a boy again,” Mark chastises, and Louis wants to punch something again, because boys can most definitely be pretty. Harry, for example, is very pretty, beautiful even. Handsome doesn't sum up how Harry looks, and it would be a travesty of justice for someone to use that word as a descriptor for him.

“Lou, you’ve never mentioned a Harry. You should bring him around some time for dinner. Where do his parents go to church?” Jay asks, smiling at him. Fuck. What is he supposed to say? ‘No, Mom. I don’t think Harry’s parents go to church. Harry’s an atheist who doesn't believe in God.’   

“Um-- we haven't really talked about that,” Louis responds, face heating with the lie while thinking of other things they have discussed. Fuck, he needs to get a grip.

“Then what do you talk about?” Mark asks, as if the very idea of talking about anything other than church and God is absurd. To be fair, he and Harry have spoken, and on more than one occasion, discussed both of those topics, but not in a way he could ever tell either of his parents.

“Mostly about classes. He’s really smart. He occasionally helps me with my physics homework during our free period,” Louis lies again, this one coming much easier. Harry is really smart, so it isn’t that unbelievable.

“Oh well, maybe he could tutor you or something. I know you have been struggling in that class, perhaps a study partner will do you some good,” Jay tells him. Fuck, now the only thing Louis can imagine is he and Harry alone in his room, ‘studying’ on his bed. Harry’s long limbs would make his bed look small, his pale skin a stark contrast to the dark blue of the comforter and sheets. Louis licks his lips, telling his dick to calm down. He shouldn’t be thinking those sinful thoughts, since his heart is currently being punished for them in the first place.

“Yeah. Maybe. Anyways, Willow, these are my sisters, Lottie, Fizzy, Daisy, and Phoebe,” Louis introduces quickly changing the subject, pointing to each girl as he says their name. He knows that Willow is probably starting to feel awkward with the conversation straying towards Harry, and he doesn’t want that. She is doing him a huge favor, afterall.

“Well, sit down everyone,” Jay says, motioning for them to take a seat. Willow looks confused when they all begin holding hands as soon as they sit down, preparing to say grace. Louis reaches for her hand, giving her a small smile. Her hand feels weird in his, mostly because it’s not large and adorned with rings. His mind flashes back to the day he wrote his initial on Harry’s hand, remembering how warm and big it felt in his own. That felt right, but this… this feels wrong on so many different levels. It’s not the first time he has held hands with Willow, but it will never fail to make him internally cringe. It is nothing against her at all. She is a beautiful girl and Tara is very lucky to have her, he just hates it. Hates that he has to pretend. Hates that he has to force himself to be someone and something that he’s not.

“God. We thank you our Heavenly Father for providing us with this feast,” Mark starts, as soon as Willow’s hand is in Louis’ and Louis bows his head, praying along. “We also thank you for our health and happiness. Thank you for bringing Willow into Louis’ life, so that she may sit down with us for this meal you have provided. We thank you for everything you graciously do for us every day, may we always follow in your footsteps on the path to righteousness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

“Amen,” they all mumble dropping each other’s hands as Mark finishes. He hates how much Mark is showing off for Willow’s benefit. He normally just says the same prayer before every single meal, but of course he had to include her in this particular blessing. The irony of his step-dad’s words seep deep into his bones, making him shiver a bit. If Mark really knew what brought Willow into his life, he would have an aneurysm. Perhaps Louis should break the news after all.

“So, Willow, what church do your parents go to?” Mark asks as everyone starts eating their meal. Of course he would ask her that, since it seems to be the only thing he cares about.

“Oh-- umm-- United Baptist,” Willow answers, taking a bite of her green beans.

“That’s the church we almost joined,” Jay says smiling at Willow’s answer, seemingly happy with her choice.

“Yes. I recall. We decided against it, though, since one of the preachers is an Obama sympathizer,” Mark tells her, like he is defending their decision not to join her church.

“Oh-- um-- I didn’t know that.” Willow is obviously uncomfortable with the conversation, but Mark doesn’t seem to give a fuck, plowing on as if Willow hadn’t spoken.

“Tell your parents. They need to know, so they can switch churches. I don’t understand why anyone would actually support Obama,” Mark continues, and fuck here we go again. Louis buckles his imaginary seat belt, and bites his tongue ready for the inevitable. He knew this would happen, but that doesn't make it any less embarrassing.

Mark’s face is already beginning to redden with his anger as he continues, “He is the antichrist, I tell you. He wanted to take our guns and disband the Military! Give all of our jobs to those aliens south of the border. Did you know he refused to swear in on the Bible? Yeah, he wanted to swear in on the Quran because he’s a Muslim. Having a non-Christian as President is just un-American. He and Hillary Clinton, I swear, would take this country straight to Hell. Thank God she didn't win the last election. I just don’t understand what people were thinking. Why would anyone think a woman capable of being the President of the United States? Women are far too emotional and hormonal for that kind of job, and she is no different. Women would much rather talk about their feelings than fight for freedom. A woman doing a man’s job is just plain stupidity. It’s what’s wrong with America really; what is wrong with our families. President Trump is a gift sent from God. I am so thankful every single day that a man of faith won the election. I know we all prayed about it.” Mark is now red faced and breathing heavily as his rant comes to an end, looking similar to the preacher during the church services on Sunday.

“Now, Mark, remember your blood pressure,” Jay reminds him, patting his arm. Louis almost wishes he wouldn’t remember his blood pressure. Saying that stuff about women, right in front of his four sisters, his mom and Willow, makes Louis’ blood boil. They should be built up, not torn down because of their gender. His mind drifts back to the fact that his sisters have to wear dresses to church while he is allowed to wear pants. It’s the same concept, isn’t it? According to people like Mark, women are beneath them, and so they should be treated as such. It pretty much even says that in the Bible. He glances at his sisters, noting the look of hurt on their face from their own father’s words. He bites his tongue harder, tasting blood. He hates him. He really fucking does.

“Yes, of course, Jay. I just get so worked up over the stupidity of those liberal snowflakes.” Mark spits the last words, saliva coating his bottom lip. Louis almost gags. It’s not the first time Louis has heard that term, but it still irritates him to no end.

“I know, dear,” Jay responds patting his arm again, attempting to calm her husband down.

“I tell you what liberals need. They need Jesus and a good beating.” Mark points his finger towards the ceiling with his words, then slams one large palm down on the table. The loud bang and the sound of the dinnerware clanging as a result makes the rest of them jump. Louis doesn't understand what it is with people and wanting to beat everyone who believes and thinks differently than them. Is violence really the answer? If Harry started to beat Mark because he is a Christian, then Mark would surely cry religious intolerance, making sure everyone heard about the heinous crimes against the nation’s Christians.

“So, Willow, tell us, what do you plan to do after graduation,” Jay asks, clearly trying to steer the topic away from politics. Louis could kiss her. Willow looks relieved, her body visibly relaxing as she answers the question.

“I plan on going to college, even though my parents aren’t keen on the idea,” Willow responds, really smiling for the first time this whole fucking shit show of an evening. Willow is smart, just like Harry.

“Oh what are you planning to study?” Jay asks, clearly interested. Mark huffs beside her, but doesn’t say anything, just continues to stuff his face which is now becoming a more normal shade. Willow holds up one finger as she chews, politely signifying that she is going to answer once she finishes.

“I would like to major in Civil Engineering,” She responds, and Louis smiles proudly.

“Oh, that’s a lot of math. Are you sure about that?” Mark asks, clearly judging her for her choice in future career. He can almost hear him saying ‘girls can’t do math, silly.’

“Oh, I love math. I am currently taking college algebra even though I am in eleventh grade. I plan to finish calculus before I start my freshman year of college,” she tells them, taking a bite of food. He wonders why Harry didn’t take any college classes like other students seemed to have done. Some are even taking English 101 now, planning to start English 102 when the semester ends. He makes a mental note to ask Harry, that is, if he ever talks to him again. Mark grunts at her answer, clearly displeased, which is utter bullshit.

“Are those college level courses? Did your parents have to pay for them?” Jay asks, actually interested in what Willow is saying. Louis loves his mom.

“Yes. They are college level, but I paid for them out of my own pocket. I have a job. My parents um--” she pauses, clearly unsure if she wants to finish her thought. Louis knows what she is going to say, so he wonders the exact same thing before she decides to continue. “My parents don’t want me to go to college. They say it will be a waste of my time, and that I should concentrate on finding a husband and starting a family.” Her voice is sad with the admission. Not as sad as the first time she had told Louis the very same thing. They’d had this conversation a few days ago, but she sounds sad all the same. She pretends it doesn’t affect her. That she doesn’t need her parent’s permission or support, but Louis can tell that it really does bother her. Shouldn’t they be fucking proud that their daughter is so intelligent and wants to further her education? What kind of backwards way of thinking do these people have?

“I can see where they are coming from. You’re their daughter. They just want what’s best for you,” Mark responds, and what the fuck? It’s not necessarily what Mark said that leaves a bad taste in Louis’ mouth, it’s what he left unsaid. It is the words between the lines of his sentences. What he meant by his statement. They just want what’s best for her? Is he fucking serious? As if what is best for her isn’t to get a good education. As if what is best for her is to get married and settle down and pop out half a dozen kids. As if she shouldn’t want to get an education, and her parents are actually correct in their goals for her. What kind of bullshittery is that?

Mark has been telling him to go to college and get an education since the day he waltzed into their lives, so why is he singing a different tune with Willow? In fact, now that Louis really thinks about it, Mark has never once talked to any of his sisters about college. He never even talks to them about school or rewards them for good grades like he does Louis. In fact, he just encourages them to take courses like Home Economics or Family Studies. Holy shit. What a fucking double standard. How has Louis been so blind to it before? He just, fuck, he just thought it was normal, and he thought that the girls didn’t really want to go to college or get an education. Now, though, now it makes Louis sick because they are taught to not want one, by people like Mark. They are taught that their main goals in life are to get married and start a family, to do as their husband says without a thought in their brains. Louis’ head is spinning with the realization. He feels like he is going to be sick. Holy shit. Not for the first time this week, he just wants to talk to Harry. Harry has a way of putting things that helps Louis to understand.

“Yeah,” Willow agrees, voice small and unsure. She sounds beaten and upset, so Louis reaches a tentative hand over to her, rubbing it down her back in what he hopes to be a soothing gesture. That’s something boyfriends do for their girlfriends’ right? He hates Mark so fucking much right now, his blood feels like it is boiling. Poor Willow. She just added another person to her seemingly never ending list of people who don’t believe in her. Who don’t believe she could actually succeed in college. Louis decides right then and there that he will be the support that she needs. He will encourage her to pursue her dreams, and he will help her along the way. She doesn’t need family. She can make one of her own. An awkward silence fills the room after that, everyone just eating their food.

“Mom, Dad, I have a question I have been meaning to ask you,” Louis starts a few minutes later, finally breaking the tension. He puts down his fork to look at his parents. It almost pains him to call Mark ‘Dad’, but he did it because he is getting ready to ask a favor, and doesn’t want to be on his shit list even more.

“Of course, honey,” Jay responds, smiling encouragingly.

“Saturday is the Homecoming dance, and I know you all don’t usually let us go to dances. I thought, that maybe, I could go this year with Willow, since it’s my senior year. I’m eighteen now, so I think I am responsible enough. I will also be home no later than midnight. Willow just really wants to go, and now that you’ve met her, I thought maybe you would agree,” Louis rambles, wanting to get everything out there before they can start arguing the point.

“I don’t know honey, we have never let you before. What do you think, Mark?” Jays asks, looking to her husband for an answer. Louis hates that so much. Why can’t she just give him permission. She is his mom after all, the only one of the two to have any biological relation to him at all, yet Mark is the one that holds Louis’ future in his fat hands. Mark looks like he is considering the question, fork hanging between his thumb and index finger as he choose with his mouth open. Louis bites his lip and prays for an answer in the affirmative, just wanting one night to spend with his friends. He has already planned to sneak out and possibly attend an after party, but they don’t need to know that.

“Okay, but you will be home by 11 and not a moment later. Am I understood?” Mark says, pointing his finger at Louis and nodding. Louis is shocked. This is the first time Mark has ever agreed to let Louis do something that isn’t directly related to academics, football, or baseball. His mouth is actually drooping open with the allowance, but he quickly recovers.

“Thank you. I will be home by 11, not a minute later,” he stutters out, nodding.  The rest of dinner goes more or less smoothly, his parents asking Willow questions, her answers always short and safe. He thinks they like her, even though she isn’t a cheerleader or whatever. Jay keeps smiling at him as if to say ‘she’s a good one,’ while Mark keeps glancing down her shirt even though it isn’t low cut. What a disgusting prick.

“Lottie, Fizzy, will you help me clean up?” Jay asks, standing from the table once everyone has finished eating.

“I can, Mom,” Louis offers, beginning to stand up from his seat between Willow and Phoebe.

“Louis, sit down. That’s women’s work, so let your mother and sisters handle it,” Mark demands, and Louis sits down, looking at his mom apologetically. She just smiles at him, silently thanking him for the offer. Lottie and Fizzy rise from their seats, grabbing the remainder of the dishes from the table before they disappear into the kitchen behind their mother.  

“I think I am going to go ahead and take Willow home, it is getting late,” Louis says a few minutes later when his mom and sisters reappear, the younger girls going to the living room to find something to watch on television. Willow takes that as her cue to stand, Louis following behind her.

“Okay, drive safe. It was lovely meeting you, Willow,” Jay says, pulling Willow into a warm hug, the younger girl returning it easily. They make their way into the the living room, Louis freezing as soon as he sees what his sisters accidentally left the Netflix cursor on. Please no. Fuck. Please no.

“Get that shit off of my TV!” Mark yells, making Lottie jump and turn her attention back to the television. Her eyes widen when she realizes what she has accidentally landed on in her search. “No house of mine will have fucking trash like that on TV! Wanting us to sympathize with fags and actually be tolerant of their choice in lifestyle. No. In fact, I may just cancel the Netflix subscription since they are nothing but millennial pieces of shit pushing their liberal agenda on our youth.” Mark motions wildly towards the television face resembling a tomato, the picture of Queer Eye long gone, now replaced with Lilo and Stitch . Louis feels sick at his step-dad’s words. His eyes sting with tears, but he blinks them back, knowing that crying will just make it worse. First they will wonder why he is crying, then he will be called a pansy by Mark for showing emotion.

“Honey, they were just scrolling past it,” Jay reasons, rubbing Mark’s bicep like the good little housewife Mark wants her to be.

“I don’t care, Johannah. That filth will not be on my TV. Their parents should have raised those men better.” Mark uses four meaty fingers to put air quotes around the word ‘men’, making Louis ball his fist up behind his back with anger. Mark acting like they aren’t men because they are gay makes bile rise in Louis’ throat, burning it. He also doesn’t miss the comment about their lifestyle choice, as if being gay is a choice. Louis used to think so, but now he isn’t so sure. He isn’t sure about anything anymore. “I blame their parents. Their parents should have raised them better, raised them in church, sent them away when they started behaving in such a ungodly way, to fix them.”

“Well, I’m gonna get Willow home,” Louis interrupts, taking a shaky breath while he and Willow slip their shoes on.

“It was nice to meet, y’all. Dinner was great,” Willow compliments then waves as Louis pushes her out the door.

“Yes! Take care,” Jay waves, smiling again as they walk out the door, shutting it firmly behind them. When they get outside, Louis closes his eyes taking in a few gulps of the cool autumn air. He is physically shaking, feeling as though he may throw up his dinner at any moment. A single tear falls down his cheek, but he quickly wipes it away hoping Willow didn’t see it. He bites the inside of his cheek, willing no more to fall.  

“Are you okay?” She asks, voice low and hesitant. Louis cracks his eyes open to look at her. She looks concerned, and also slightly shaken by Mark’s words. He understands the sentiment completely.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry Mark was such an asshole to you about the college thing. Know that you always have someone supportive in me,” Louis tells her, glad to have finally gotten to say it. He told her before, when they talked about it, but he wants to reiterate it after what Mark has just said.

“It’s fine. I’m used to it, but seriously. Are you okay? That was… intense,” Willow asks again, her red eyebrows drawn in worry. Her brown eyes are wide with her concern, soft even.

“Yeah. I’m used to it too. Let’s just go,” he responds, using a foot to push himself off the doorstep, quickly walking down the stoop.

“Lou,” Willow starts, but Louis quickly cuts her off.

“Look, Will, I appreciate the concern, but I don’t want to talk about it,” he says, not missing a step. He closes his eyes for a moment when he hears her sigh, then follow behind him. He can’t. He can’t talk about it, or he will cry. He can’t cry. Not in front of Willow, and not where his parents may be able to see him. Mark’s words are still racing through his mind at light speed, not giving his brain a moment to fucking rest. To think. For the third time tonight, Louis thinks he hates him, but then feels guilty for the thought. One of the ten commandments is about honoring thy father and mother. Even though Mark isn’t technically his father, he is the closest thing Louis has ever had and probably will ever get. He shouldn't hate him. He should probably hate himself instead, for his choices that have led him to this.

If homosexuality is a choice, then why can’t he choose not to be attracted to men or Harry for that matter? He doesn't want to be. He doesn't want to disappoint his family or for God to hate him. It’s the last thing he wants, yet it doesn’t stop his body. It doesn't stop his heart . Why is it so fucking terrible to love someone? He feels like his world that was turned on its axis by Harry is now on a scale, measuring every single detail against the others until there is something quantifiable. Something valid. The whole thing is making his head hurt. He just wants to talk to Harry. He knows he shouldn’t. He knows he should just move on from his bad choices, and pretend Harry doesn’t exist. He just can’t. His heart can’t.

 

___________

 

“I’m not fucking going, Niall. Drop it,” Harry practically growls as they walk down the empty back stairway after school.

“Come on, it’s Homecoming!” Niall begs, grabbing Harry’s arm to stop him when they get to the bottom. Everyone else in school is currently occupying  the gym for the Godsforsaken pep rally, and Harry just doesn't feel peppy at the current moment. Or ever really. Sports are pointless and having school spirit for a place you will be leaving in four years is just fucking dumb.

“No. Louis is going to be there which means I am not going to be there,” Harry shoots, glaring down at his friend.

“You can’t avoid him forever, Haz.” Harry flinches at the nickname, one given to him by Louis. Niall’s tone is soft, making Harry that much more angry. He hates pity. “You have all of your classes with him, you need to talk to him.”

“No. That’s the fucking problem, Niall, I shouldn’t have talked to him in the first fucking place. Talking to him is what got me into this disaster of a situation, so I don’t think it is going to help matters. In fact, I should go the rest of the school year without talking to him. Let him spend the rest of his miserable life with his Jesus freak of a girlfriend, their 2.5 kids and their stupid fucking white picket fence with their three crosses proudly standing in the yard. I don’t care about him.” Harry is breathing heavily from his rant, hoping that saying it outloud will help him to convince himself. Niall’s blue eyes are wide with surprise, dark brows shooting into his hairline.

“You’re fucking lying through your teeth,” Niall pokes him roughly in the chest, punctuating the accusation. “If you didn’t care about him, then you wouldn’t be madder than a wet hen. You have been fucking moping for a week over him having a girlfriend. Lie to yourself all you want to, Haz, but don’t lie to me. I’m your friend, and I just wanna help you. Get off your high horse, and talk to him because I think he feels the same way.” Niall pats him on the chest then walks out the door, leaving Harry breathing heavily and astonished. Niall has never, ever talked to him like that. When the excited scream of his fellow classmates floats into the stairwell from the gym, Harry screams with them, only in anger. He thrusts his hand out, punching the air then pulls it back, running his fingers through his curls on his neck.

“Are you okay?” Harry hears a soft raspy voice say behind him, dread now filling his veins. He is supposed to be at the pep rally with all the other football players, so what the fuck is he doing here? Harry wipes his eyes quickly before turning away, not wanting him to even see them water. He will not give him the satisfaction. Harry ignores him and tries to walk past him, but the other man steps in his path. Harry flinches away, not wanting to be touched.

“I asked, if you’re okay,” he says again, blue eyes soft. Harry shouldn’t have looked at them, knowing full well what those eyes do to him. His hair is soft, and he is wearing his football jersey and jeans, like all of the players on the team do on Fridays. The fact that it is homecoming week making it even more of a requirement. It’s not the first time Harry has seen him today, but it is the first time he has really looked at him.

“Move, Louis.” Harry’s voice sounds broken and cracked even to his own ears. He silently berates himself, wanting it to come out firm and strong. He can’t let Louis see him upset. He can’t give him something else to go and talk to his preppy friends about.

“No. I wanted to talk to you,” Louis tells him, crossing his arms in front of his chest, widening his stance even more, the voices from the gym echoing around him. He has a look of determination on his face, lips in a thin line, eyes narrowed. It would be hot, if Harry didn’t hate him so much.

“Well, tough shit, ‘cause I don’t wanna talk to you,” Harry says his southern accent becoming more pronounced with his anger. He moves to go up the stairs, but Louis just stands in his way again, effectively pushing him towards the dark area under the stairs, so all of his exits are blocked.

“Will you please just listen to me?” Louis asks, eyes pleading voice going straight to Harry’s heart, like a stabbing pain. Harry takes a moment to really look at his features. Louis looks tired, his voice is just a hair more scratchy, like he is upset, too. Harry doesn’t know why he would be upset. His life is fucking fantastic. He has a girlfriend, and he is on the football team. Every single person and teacher in the school loves and adores him, so why the fuck would he be upset?

“Why don’t you go find your girlfriend and talk to her?” Harry spits the words out like they are poison. They make his mouth taste bitter, acid rising in his throat. He knows it isn’t fair to be mad at Louis for having a girlfriend. He doesn’t even know if Louis is gay. For all he knew, Louis could have been trying to be his friend, and Harry has taken Louis’ friendly actions the wrong way. Or Louis could have been fucking with him all along, flirting with him even though he is straight just to be a dick. Harry is going to go with the latter, allowing him to hold onto his anger for a little longer.

“I don’t want to talk to her. I want to talk to you,” Louis insists, stepping towards Harry. Harry takes a step back out of instinct, his mind briefly flashing back to middle school.

Louis is not them. Louis will not hurt you. He reminds himself, as he eyes the other man. He really doesn’t think Louis will physically hurt him, but old habits die hard. He can’t stop his body from responding that way, his mind automatically jumping to the worst possible scenario.

“So you admit that you have a girlfriend? Gee. Thanks for telling me now, a whole fucking week after the fact,” Harry says, sarcasm dripping into every word as he gesticulates his words. He knows Willow is Louis’ girlfriend. Every kid in the whole fucking school knows, but it is still painful to hear Louis actually admit it outloud. His stomach feels like it’s in knots, his arms and hands shaky.

“It’s not like that,” Louis responds, shaking his head as another muffled scream surrounding them. What the fuck does that even mean? It’s not like that? He either has a girlfriend or he doesn’t, there are no other options. He basically just said he does have a girlfriend, so how is it not like that? Harry isn’t sure he cares to find out, not wanting to hear Louis’ bullshit.  

“Really? Not like that, huh? I would ask if she is just your fuck buddy, but you two probably wear fucking purity rings or something, wanting to save yourself for marriage in the name of God or some shit. Did her meeting your parents not go well? Was she not virginal and demure enough for them?” Harry asks, watching as Louis flinches at his words. Good. He wants to hurt him. He wants to hurt Louis like he has been hurting all fucking week. Maybe then Louis will understand the pain he has endured. He knows it’s not fair though, since Louis is only responsible for a small fraction of that pain, but as Harry always says, life isn’t fair.

“You heard that?” Louis phrases it like a question, but it is more of a statement, an observation. Harry can hear the cheerleaders in the gym doing their routine, the god awful pop music now filling the corridor offering a horrendous backing track to an even more horrendous conversation. Harry just wants it to be over. Everything. This conversation. This month. This school year. His life.

“Yes. I’m not fucking deaf, Louis. I heard you ask if she was ready to go to your house for dinner. I also saw you hanging all over her. May as well have been in each other’s fucking skin,” Harry says, taking another step back to try and put some distance between them. He can feel Louis’ body heat radiating off of him in waves, and Harry can’t handle it. Not when he is this angry. This hurt. He can feel the cool surface of the wall against his skin now, cooling him down.

“Just let me explain…” Louis starts, but Harry cuts him off as excited cheers from the gym surround them, a stark contrast to the heaviness of their conversation. The happiness of their fellow classmates does nothing to sooth Harry’s sadness. His own emptiness. In all honesty, this is the most he has felt all week. He was doing such a good job of burying it deep, never letting his emotions see the light of day. Here comes Louis, though, to fuck that up, too. Why can’t he just leave him alone to suffer through his misery? Why does he have to always tilt his world on its axis and make him feel ?

“Explain what, Louis? You want to tell me how fucking stupid and naive I am for ever believing that you would want me? Explain how you decided to fuck with me because I’m the weird kid, and I looked like an easy target? Or maybe you want to describe in detail your elaborate joke about pretending to be my friend, getting me to talk to you, convincing me that maybe you and I aren’t that different, then stabbing me in the fucking back? Hmm? Which is it? I’m waiting, Louis. I’m all fucking ears.” Harry’s deep voice echoes in the stairwell, mingling with the screams of joy from his fellow students in the gym. He is breathing heavily again now, back pressing against the wall. Louis looks hurt by his accusation, his blue eyes shiny, his firm lips wobbly. Harry hates himself for not being pleased by his expression. He hates himself for wanting to hug him and tell him he doesn’t mean any of it, even though he sort of does somewhere deep inside.

“Do you really think that of me? Really think I would do that?” Louis asks, his voice cracking with the question. Harry has to look away, because seeing Louis appear so upset is making his resolve crumble. He blinks back his own tears, eyes stinging with them. He will not cry. He will not give Louis the satisfaction of seeing him cry or the ammunition to use it against him in the future. He bites down on the inside of his own cheek to stop the tears from falling and embarrassing him further.

“I don’t know what to think. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Not that I ever really did it seems,” Harry says, staring at the darkened area under the stairs, so he doesn’t have to meet Louis’ gaze. His mind is whirring with with everything going on in front of him and around him, he can’t fucking concentrate with Louis looking at him like that. And the voices of his excited classmates continue to carry through the hallways, only adding to his agitation.

“Harry, I am your friend. None of that was a lie or a prank. I swear to you...” Harry thinks Louis’ face is getting closer to his, he can almost feel his breath on his lips. He refuses to move away though, partly because he has no where else he can go with his back now pressing against the wall and partly because he just feels defeated. Harry wants to believe him. He wants to believe the words, but he can’t. Not after everything he has been through.

“Bullshit, Louis. Fuck off,” Harry spits, finally facing him. His eyes immediately go to Louis’ dark pink lips, Louis wetting them with an equally pink tongue. Before he is even able to process what is going on, those same lips are on his. The lips he has been dreaming of since the first fucking day of school. They are wet and firm against his own as small hands come up to to tangle in his curls. Their chests are pressing together with their proximity. Louis feels soft and perfect against him. Harry isn’t sure what to do now, because for all intents and purposes, this is his first kiss.

He leaves his hands at his sides because what the fuck is he supposed to do with those? Grab Louis’ shapely ass? Maybe put them on the small of Louis’ back? He isn’t even sure this is really happening, so he opts to leave them dangling at his side. He comes to his senses a bit after a few seconds pass, and he finally starts kissing back, parting his lips. Almost as soon as it happens though, Louis pulls away, crooking his head in the direction of the gym. Harry thinks he has done something wrong. He is probably a terrible kisser. He has never done it before, and he seems to be terrible at everything else concerning people. He starts to panic as Louis smiles at him.

“And now, to introduce our football players!” A disembodied voice says, echoing in the stairwell. Harry is stunned. His brain feels like it is short circuiting. He isn’t sure what the fuck just happened. Did Louis kiss him? Is this a fucking dream? Because he hasn’t slept more than sixteen hours total all week, so he could have very well fallen asleep. Maybe he is hallucinating. He digs his fingers into the now healing marks on his arm, feeling them sting with the pressure. Nope. Not a dream. This is actually fucking happening. Louis kissed him. Fuck.

“Look. I’ve gotta go. You’re coming to the game though, right? Can we talk after? My parents will be there, but I can probably get a few minutes away, and we can go somewhere alone, under the bleachers or something, to continue this conversation. Please?” Louis begs, looking frantic now, eyes glancing in the direction of the gym where he is clearly supposed to be. Harry just nods dumbly, not trusting his voice.

“Great. I’ll explain everything then. I promise,” Louis says, getting up on his tiptoes, pressing their lips together again, this time quicker, and then he’s gone. Harry touches his lips, not quite allowing himself to believe what just happened. He stares at the door as it closes, the sound echoing around him. Flashes of their conversation float in his mind, the feeling of Louis’ lips on his own burning into his memory. He almost forgets how angry he is at Louis. He isn’t even sure if he is angry anymore, not after that. He is more confused than anything else. Louis is definitely into men, but Harry doesn’t want to be his dirty little secret. He doesn’t want to be used as a way for Louis to cheat on his girlfriend. He could never do that to Willow. He guesses he is going to the stupid fucking football game after all. He shakes his head, and starts walking in the direction of the gym. Holy shit.

Chapter Text

“image”

And I hate that I'm conflicted

This addiction's got me twisted on you

I'm conflicted, contradictive

Got my body confused

I'm yes or no, I will, I won't

I'm conflicted and addicted

So come over and make up my mind- Halestorm

 

“Osborne just scored a touchdown for the Pioneers making the score 15-14, with only 30 seconds left on the clock. The Pioneers will kick off and Tomlinson, number 28, is back deep for the Rebels. He catches the ball, and he’s off!” Louis barely registers the disembodied voices as he feels the ball in his hands and takes off into a sprint. His head hasn’t been in the game all night, eyes continuing to roam to Harry in the stands sitting next to Niall. Harry who has been paying absolutely zero attention to the game all night, instead, opting to read. Of course Harry I-Don’t-Do-Sports-Ball Styles would read during a football game. Louis thinks he has never been more endeared.

As he runs, he glances over to the curly haired boy in the stands, watching as his dark brow furrows at the book in his large ringed hands, his lips puckered at the words. Not for the first time, Louis’ mind drifts back to the kiss they shared in the dark, back stairwell of the school. Louis still can’t believe he fucking kissed him. What was he thinking? He was just so hurt that Harry would think that of him, and he could tell the other boy was gearing up for another rant. He shut him up the only way he knew how, with his lips on Harry’s. It was the most perfect kiss Louis has ever experienced. The cool air on his lips now did nothing to replace the warmth of Harry’s against his own from a few hours ago. It was the most daring thing Louis had ever done, and he, strangely enough, doesn’t regret it.

Louis’ attention snaps back to the game as he feels another body collide with his own, knocking the breath out of him. The ball slips from his fingers before he hits the ground. “Oooo, Tomlinson takes a hit and fumbles the ball, but the Rebels are able to recover! Tomlinson has seemed out of the game all night. Rebels call a timeout,” the announcer says, voice booming over the field and stands. Louis gets up, and shakes his head. He glances over at his family as he makes his way over to the side of the field for the time out. Mark is red faced and screaming in his direction, hands flailing wildly. Louis grimaces, not even wanting to know what the man is currently saying about him.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, Tomlinson? You need to get your goddamn head out of your fucking ass and play the game,” Coach Stanley screams, gum barely staying in his mouth, as Louis removes his helmet. Louis just nods because he really has nothing to say for himself. He has been distracted, but he thinks it is the best kind of distraction. Mark is still yelling on the sidelines, Louis can hear every other word now. Phrases like ‘fucking moron’, ‘playing like a fucking girl’ and ‘no son of mine’ floating through the air like pollution, making Louis feel even more like a fuck up. The coach is explaining their next play, but Louis is barely paying attention, just nodding along. He really should be paying attention, a lot is riding on him, but he keeps glancing towards Harry. He is now smiling down at his book, his green eyes sparkling in the harsh light of the stadium. His cheeks are bright red from the cool air, making the paleness of his skin stand out even more. He looks so beautiful it physically hurts Louis.

“Alright, get your lazy asses out there and get us that W!” The coach yells, pointing towards the field with one fat finger. Louis would like to see this guy get out there and fucking run for hours on end. The man probably hasn’t seen his own feet in years, his belt barely holding his pants up under his large gut. He is just some washed out player that peaked in high school and has been yelling at younger more talented people for the past 25 years. Louis would pay big money to see him run across the field or fuck, even throw a ball. He would probably dislocate his shoulder if he even tried then have a heart attack from exertion.

Louis puts on his helmet and strap ups with the rest of the team, feeling a few of his teammates hit him on his pads as he walks towards the 60 yard line. “And we’re back, score 15-14, Pioneers, with only 15 seconds remaining on the clock. Rebels still have possession of the ball, but Tomlinson has the chance to deliver something special here to secure the win.” As Louis gets into position, he looks back over at Harry. He sees Niall nudge his friend, Harry’s attention snapping towards Louis, green eyes finally meeting with his. He quickly puts his book down, smiles at Louis and shoot him a thumbs up. That is the best encouragement Louis has received all night. Not his coach yelling at him, not Mark screaming about how terrible Louis is, but Harry smiling and giving him a thumbs up. He hasn’t even been paying attention to the game, but he has faith that Louis can do it. Faith from Harry. That’s all Louis really needs.

Louis gets into position and waits for the ball to be snapped. He takes off when it is in the hands of the Quarterback, running a few yards and turning to catch the ball as it is being thrown to him. With Harry’s eyes on him, he makes a mad dash towards the end zone, feet flying while dodging anyone that gets in his way. He glances back to see Liam block someone that was about tackle him, Liam usually has his back, thank God. He can almost feel Harry’s eyes on him as he continues to run down the field, using Harry as fuel to get to the endzone. He just wants to end the damn game so he can finally clear the air with Harry. If this his how he needs to do it, then he will dodge fifty fucking players from the other team and God himself to do so.

“Look at Tomlinson go! When he takes off, nobody can catch him! He’s at the 40, 30, 15 and TOUCHDOWN!” The announcer yells, the entire stadium erupting into cheers, sending a chill through Louis’ spine as the rest of his teammates grab him and hoist him onto their shoulders. Louis barely registers any of it though, as he cranes his head to spot Harry on his feet, cheering along with Niall and the rest of the crowd. His eyes are bright, curls windswept, cheeks and lips even more red, with large fists in the air. It looks strange to see Harry outwardly showing so much emotion, especially happiness, but it looks so fucking good him. Louis decides then that he wants Harry to look this happy for the rest of his life, because a smiling Harry Styles is what dreams are made of, not winning a highschool football game.

He never takes his eyes off of Harry who is now smiling at him, dimples popping, making Louis want to swoon. He removes his helmet, running his gloved fingers through his sweaty hair and smiles back, barely registering as every single one of his teammates pat his body in someway, wherever they can reach, several of them smacking his ass. He finally tears his eyes away from Harry to see his mom and sisters smiling and waving happily. Mark still looks angry, but he will have to get over it. They won, why does it matter if it was at the last possible second? Louis has always had a flare for the dramatic, after all.

He walks over to the sideline with the rest of his team, not paying attention to a single word the coach says. Again, he looks at Harry. He nods his head towards a spot under the bleacher, silently trying to tell the other boy to meet him there. Harry nods back in understanding, then turns to say something to Niall who is practically yelling at him. Louis smiles, wishing he could be in on their conversation. He turns his attention back to his coach, catching the end of his usual ‘good job, I knew you could do it’ speech. It’s funny because not even five minutes ago, the asshole was cussing them out and calling them pussies. Funny how things change when people are successful.

When he looks up next, he finds Harry has disappeared, Niall shooting him a confused look. “Hey, Li, man, I need a favor,” Louis says, clapping Liam on the shoulder. Liam turns to him with confused eyes, clearly ready to do whatever Louis is about ask.

“What’s up?”

“I need you to cover for me with my parents. If they ask where I am, just tell them I had to go to the bathroom or something,” Louis says, trying to convey to his friend with his eyes how desperately he needed this. He quickly glances over at his parents who are currently making their way down the bleachers towards him. He turns back to Liam with panicked eyes.

“Yeah, sure. Where ya going?” Liam asks, also glancing in the direction of Louis’ family.

“I can’t tell you,” Louis stutters out, feeling terrible for asking Liam to lie for him when he can’t even tell him the goddamned truth. He is such shitty friend.

“Okay. That’s fine, man. I understand. You know, you can tell me anything, though. Right? Whenever you’re ready,” Liam says, his dark eyes sincere. A jolt of panic goes straight through Louis. Does Liam know? Fuck, does he suspect? What if he tells Louis’ family? Oh fuck, but Liam looks earnest, as if trying to tell Louis that he cares. Louis just gives him a small smile. “Go,” Liam says, clapping him on the back and pushing him, right as Louis’ parents step onto the field a few yards away. Louis sprints off in the opposite direction. He looks around to make sure no one is watching him then ducks under the bleachers, giving his eyes a moment to adjust to the dim light. He suddenly feels more nervous than he felt the entirety of the football game as he looks around for Harry. His stomach is in knots, his gloved hand is sweaty as he grips his helmet under his left arm.

“Right here,” he hears a deep voice say to his left, causing him to jump in the air, almost hitting his head on a low beam. That’s just what he needs, a fucking concussion. He places a hand on his chest in hopes to calm his racing heart. He was already nervous, now he can add scared shitless to the never ending list of ever present emotions he is currently going through. It snuggles nicely between ‘oh shit Harry is looking at me’ and ‘what if God’s not real?’, those are emotions, right? They have to be because he feels them every single fucking day of his life lately.

“You scared the fuck out of me,” Louis says gripping the helmet he almost dropped and looks at Harry’s dark from. He steps closer, their bodies almost touching, so they can see each other in the dim light. It is perfect.

“Oops.” Harry laughs, clearly not sorry about it. Louis smiles, so glad to just hear his voice again after a week of being completely deprived. He doesn't think he will ever forget this conversation. It feels almost pivotal for some reason. The tension between them quickly returns, almost feeling as though a weight has been dropped on them in their dark hole under the bleachers.

“Hi,” Louis says, voice barely above a whisper. His eyes trail to Harry’s lips. The same lips he had been kissing just a few hours prior. He still can’t believe he did that. He has no idea what he was thinking, but if he is going to commit a sin, it may as well be for Harry Styles. He realizes he doesn't regret his decision to kiss Harry. It felt almost inevitable in some way. Like some indescribable force has been pulling him to Harry since the very first day of school. Maybe it was is heart. Maybe it is his brain. He is certain, though, it isn’t God.  

“So, um-- wanna tell me what’s going on?” Harry ventures after a few moments of silence, just the remaining noise from the fans left in the stadium. Louis thinks it’s strange that they keep having these conversations when there are so many happy and excited people around them. It strangely fits though. Louis suddenly feels sick again, the elation from hearing Harry’s voice gone in the cool breeze blowing under the bleachers. His stomach feels like it is tied in knots and he searches his brain for the best way to begin.

“I don’t know where to begin,” Louis says finally, sighing. They haven't even started, and he already feels defeated. He is so scared of fucking this up. He would give up the win of the football game he just played, if it meant that this conversation would be successful. He fidgets with the helmet still tucked under his arm, looking down at Harry’s pigeon toed feet.

“Louis, I don’t want to be your dirty little secret. I am not going to help you cheat on Willow just to scratch some fucking itch and get it out of your system. So, why don’t you start by telling me what you meant when you said you and Willow aren’t like that?” Harry asks, his deep voice slow and measured. Louis’ gaze snaps up to meet Harry’s. He begins the statement with a harsher tone of voice, but his green eyes are soft and curious, as if he just wants answers. Louis doesn't blame him, if he were in Harry’s position he would want answers as well.

“Willow is only my girlfriend by label. We made a deal. She would pretend to be my girlfriend to get my parents off my back, and I would do the same for her,” Louis finally answers, looking down again in embarrassment. He has no idea why he is embarrassed, but his cheeks are heating with the admission. His face feeling like it is on fire.

“Why do your parents care if you have a girlfriend?” Harry asks, and Louis was not expecting Harry to talk so much, nor ask this many questions. It is kind of strange actually speaking to Harry, and not just reading his messy scrawl written on a page, in mostly capital letters. He isn’t sure what he was expecting, but he and Harry haven't ever really had a long verbal conversation, unless you count the fight from earlier. The one that ended in the best kiss Louis has ever experienced. His dick twitches in his cup just thinking about it. He somehow made it through the entirety of the pep rally without climbing the bleachers and tasting Harry’s sinful lips again. This had to be what Eve felt like in the Garden of Eden, because Harry’s taste is sinful. Like everything Louis wants, but knows he can’t have. Louis is desperate for another taste, but he can't right now. He has some explaining to do, even though he would much rather go back to allowing Harry to suck his soul out through his mouth. Doesn’t seem like he would have much use for his soul anyway, given that it will be damned it seems.

“Because my step-dad is a bit of a misogynistic pig that measures every man’s worth by how many women he’s linked to. At every single new school, I am expected to have a girlfriend by the third week, tops,” Louis explains, rolling his eyes at the mention of Mark. Harry nods his head, almost as if he understands.

“Louis, it’s October, if that’s the case, you should have had a girlfriend weeks ago,” Harry points out.

“I bought myself some time,” Louis answers, honestly.

“Why did you need to, though? Why didn’t you just do what you seem to have done at other schools?” Harry asks, his dark brows drawn with the question, causing two little wrinkles to form on his forehead. Louis wants to kiss them. He shakes his head, trying to stay in the conversation.

“Because-- um…” Louis pauses, not sure how he wants to continue. He takes a deep breath and decides to just go with the truth. He feels like they are teetering on the edge of something, and he is afraid he will fuck it up by lying. He doesn’t want to lie to Harry. He would lie to himself all day, but Harry is different. “You.”

“What about me?” Harry asks, eyes widening with Louis’ last word. A pang hits Louis in the chest. It’s like Harry can’t understand why anyone would even take him into consideration, as though no one has ever cared enough to. Louis wants to change Harry’s mindset about that. He doesn’t need to know the details of whatever suffering Harry has endured to prove to the other boy that not everyone is the same. Louis doesn't want to hurt him. He has hurt him, this Louis knows, but it was never his intention.

“I met you. I wanted to be with you, so I lied to buy myself time. The very idea of fake dating a girl makes me sick, regardless. Then I met Willow in Bible Club, and came up with the plan. At least this time, the girl I am fake dating is in on it, and I don’t have to fake an attraction. I don’t have to hide what I want to have with you,” Louis whispers the last part, like a secret. It is one though, his biggest secret. He wants more with Harry, but he can’t believe he actually just said it outloud.

“What do you want with me?” Harry asks, and that’s a good fucking question. Louis isn’t sure how to answer and definitely doesn’t think he could say what he wants out loud. He bites his lip, trying to think of the best way to say it without actually saying it. He is still confused as to what he wants, truth be told. Well, he knows what he wants, but he also knows he shouldn’t want it.

“I want to be with you,” Louis whispers, because he is afraid God will smite him where he stands if he says the words any louder. They already feel so loud to his ears, almost as if he screamed them instead of saying them so low, he is sure Harry barely heard him over the sound of the excited chatter all around them. Harry narrows his eyes at him, as if trying to decide if he is lying or not. Louis tries to put as much honesty into his gaze as he can muster, willing Harry to believe him for once in his goddamn life. To actually believe that he is worth something to someone.

“Is this some kind of joke, Louis?” Harry asks, and Louis wants to fucking scream. Jesus, he feels like they have had this conversation at least four million seventy-two thousand three-hundred and sixty eight times in the past two months, but here they are again, back to the fucking definition of insanity. Harry is going to drive him insane, Louis just knows it, but he is strangely okay with this, as long as Harry keeps kissing him like he did before. What the fuck does Louis have to do to convince Harry that he is sincere? At this point, he has considered writing it in the sky, screaming it from the highest Mountain, and, his favorite, tattooing that shit on his fucking forehead. Maybe then Harry will actually understand. He tries not to be too frustrated. He knows something had to have happened in Harry’s life that has made him believe that no one would ever want anything with him, but instead he loses his cool, letting his frustration out.

“Despite my parents’ constant bitching, I avoided getting a girlfriend for you. I put up with your shitty fucking attitude towards me. I have done everything in my power to get you to open the fuck up to me, including making friends with Niall, so you would be forced to talk to me. I fucking kissed you. I am questioning everything I knew, everything I've ever been taught and believed in. For you , Harry. When will you stop asking me that stupid fucking question? Jesus,” Louis snaps, because he is so tired of defending his actions to Harry.

Sure last week was a total fucking mess, but he thought that kissing him would actually prove something. He seems to be wrong, again. He has the sudden urge to throw his helmet, needing something to do to let  the anger rising in his chest out. He has never in his life met someone that makes him so incredibly fucking frustrated. Harry is the epitome of a contradiction to him. He wants to strangle him with his hands, and yet run his fingers through his dark curls at the same time. He want to smack his face, and yet kiss his lips. He wants to tackle him, then either punch him for being so fucking frustrating or hump the apprehension right out of him. Words. He must use his words.

“I don’t think Jesus has anything to do with this, babe,” Harry finally responds, a smirk in place, and Louis could fucking cry. He feels like he may have finally broken through one of the many fucking walls Harry has constructed around his heart and soul. Louis wants to howl in joy and dance at the victory. It feels way more triumphant than their win of the football game just moments ago. He feels like they have been under the bleachers for hours, when, in reality, it has only been mere minutes. Time seems to stand still when he is with Harry though, which is fine by him since they never seem to have enough time. As if they will always run out of it, with words unspoken and skin untouched.

Louis laughs because of course Harry would say something like that. He can feel the tension between them being released, floating away on the cool breeze along with the chatter of the crowd. His smile fades when he looks up into Harry’s eyes. There is a seriousness in them that wasn’t there a moment ago, as if he is trying to come to a decision. Louis bites his lip, waiting. The old tension being replaced by something completely different. Like charged electricity in the air, much like what Louis felt when the game had first started. His stomach knots with the anticipation of what’s to come.

Louis watches Harry’s light pink tongue dart out to lick his red lips, the same tongue Louis was touching with his own hours ago, even though it feels like days at this point. Harry hesitantly reaches out both hands, placing them on Louis’ hips between his football pads and his pants, making the skin below the material heat up. He uses those same ridiculously large hands to pull Louis to him so that their chest are aligned. He looks into Louis’ eyes one more time, seeming to search for something Louis isn’t sure he will find. Louis wants to squirm under his gaze, the intensity in Harry’s green eyes weighing on him. Finally after what feels like a lifetime, Harry grips Louis’ waist tighter, bends down, and brings their lips slowly together.

Louis lets Harry control the pace of the kiss this time. Harry kisses like he talks, slow and methodical. As if he is planning every little movement before he actually does it. At first he keeps it soft and gentle, feeling everything out before deepening it. He licks the seam of Louis mouth to gain entrance, which Louis quickly grants, because tasting Harry is his new favorite thing to do. It is like a drug, a very sinful drug, and Louis has no idea how he will kick the habit. He isn’t even sure he wants to. Why would God hate something that feels so inherently right ? How could it be so wrong to feel this good? He moans when Harry’s tongue begins exploring his mouth. He briefly wonders how much experience Harry has with kissing, since he seems to be so hesitant about it. He is probably just hesitant because it’s Louis though. Louis who is the epitome of everything Harry seems to hate in life.

Louis drops his helmet onto the grass in favor of putting his arms around Harry’s neck, deepening their kiss even more. He feels one large palm cupping his cheek, ringed fingers touching his sweaty hair. Louis almost can’t believe this is happening. Harry is actually kissing him. Harry, who has done everything he can to avoid any kind of relationship with Louis. Harry, who has more trust issues than Louis has ever seen in an seventeen year old person. Harry, who is very different than himself, but he feels so drawn to. If this is a dream, Louis doesn't want to ever wake up. He can be safe in his dreams. There he doesn’t have to worry about persecution from both his family and God. In his dreams, he can be who he wants to be without being ashamed. His dreams are a good place, as long as they don’t become nightmares.

They jump apart when they hear a loud bang followed by several loud pops in succession. Louis’ heart skips a beat when they are both bathed in red light, shadows dancing across their bodies. Louis and Harry both look around for the source of the noise. “What the fuck?” Harry asks, eyes searching the field towards the bright lights and sounds.

“Fireworks. Fuck. I almost forgot they were letting them off tonight for homecoming,” Louis replies, the answer dawning on him, the imaginary light bulb coming on over his head.

“Scared the piss out of me,” Harry says, holding his chest as if to calm his heart down. He looks up at the peak of sky they can see from their vantage point, his green eyes sparkling in the light.

“Me too,” Louis breaths out, also watching the brightly colored sparks from between the risers. He looks at Harry in the light, observing the way the rainbow colors dance across his beautiful features. The red over his lips, the blue in his hair, the green over his eyes, and the rest of the colors on various parts of his body, mingling with the shadows, creating an image Louis wishes he could have framed. Of course it would be rainbow, no other colors would ever suffice to bathe Harry’s beautiful pale skin. A rainbow is also strangely fitting for the moment, although he is sure the firework people would probably shit an entire brick house if they had known what was taking place beneath their colored lights.

“Harry, umm-- I’m sorry to cut this short again, but I have to go. My parents are going to be looking for me. Liam can only cover for me for so long before they actually send out a search party with too bright flashlights, cadaver dogs, the whole nine yards,” Louis jokes prompting a smile from Harry.

“It’s fine, Lou. I understand,” Harry tells him, letting his small smile bloom into something so bright, the fireworks themselves are muted.

“Okay. Um-- will you be at the Homecoming dance tomorrow night?” Louis asks, voice hesitant. He isn’t sure where they will go from here, but he wants something more concrete. He doesn't want them to just find each other to make out, maybe give the occasional hand job. He could find that anywhere.

“I wasn’t planning on it. Dances aren’t really my thing,” Harry responds, brows creasing in thought.

“Well I will be there with Willow, without my parents breathing down my neck. Maybe you can make it your thing?” Louis asks, thumbing Harry’s black jacket, the old worn leather catching on the rubber of his gloves.

“Maybe,” Harry shrugs, but smirks giving Louis the indication that he will be there.  

“Okay. Umm--bye.” Louis is suddenly feeling very awkward. Before he can question himself, he fists Harry’s jacket, gets on the tip toes of his cleats, and kisses Harry gently on the lips. Harry’s lips are still warm under his own. He just wants one more taste before he has to go back to reality. Once they break apart, he stares into Harry’s eyes again, hoping to find his answers there. He doesn’t. He waves goodbye, picks up his helmet and ducks out from the bleachers. He quickly catches Liam’s gaze, smiles and waves to the other boy who is talking to Mark pretending to be interested in what the other man has to say. Louis walks up to the group, watching Harry emerge from the same spot minutes later, and he hopes nobody else noticed.

 

__________

 

“Why the fuck did I agree to this? I’m a fucking masochist,” Harry groans out, placing both hands over his face, rubbing up and down furiously, trying to scrub the memories from last night out of his mind. He opens his eyes, blinking at the light and quickly realizes it didn’t work. He still remembers the fight, the pep rally, seeing Louis score the winning… touchdown… it is a touchdown right? Or was it like a homerun? He doesn’t really know or care. He just knows Louis scored the winning points. Then he remembers everything afterwards in vivid detail. Their conversation, the exchanged touches and kisses, his agreeance to go to the dance, all burned into his brain like a brand that he will never, ever forget.

“We already knew you were a masochist, and you agreed because you like him,” Niall sing songs the last part, wiggling his eyebrows at Harry, pushing another item of clothing to the side. Harry told Niall that he didn’t need help dressing himself, but after Niall had heard the story of what took place, he insisted on coming over for a chat. Harry has no idea why he even told Niall. He considers it a brief moment of insanity. He has been having a lot of those lately, like the moment he chose to kiss Louis again. He may as well check himself into a mental hospital, because he is definitely fucked up. He's always been a little fucked up though, so he may as well add this to the ever growing list of proofs.

“No, I don’t,” Harry insists, watching as Niall makes a face at yet another one of his nicer shirts, then pushes it to what he has labeled the ‘pasty ass emo kid, so no thanks,’ side of the closet. Why does he like Niall? Oh yeah, he is literally the only person that will speak to Harry. Besides Louis. And now Liam. Fuck. What has Louis done? Has he become, dare he say, sociable? If so, he wants to go back because this is maddening.

“Then why are you going to, what were the words you used?” Niall places his finger up to his chin, looking up pretending to be in thought for a few seconds. Harry glares at him and goes to interrupt before he strangles him, but Niall continues, “Oh yeah, an antiquated sexist dance where everyone's aim is to spike the punch and lose their virginity. I believe you said only people with less than five brain cells are going.”

“I said three,” Harry corrects.

“Six one way, half a dozen the other,” Niall dismisses. When Harry glares, he explains, “Three is less than five, so my point still stands.” Niall points a finger at Harry triumphantly. Yes. Harry is for sure going to strangle Niall before the afternoon is over. Why Niall wanted to come over now when the dance doesn’t start for another four hours is beyond him. Probably to drive him crazy. It’s working. He’s succeeding. Give him a fucking trophy and not even a useless one, like the kind they give for participating. He needs an actual trophy with a little version of him at the top crushing Harry’s brain in his hands, and his name engraved into the golden plate at the bottom: Niall James Horan 1st place in Driving his Best Friend Mental.

“Niall, why do you hate me?” Harry sighs because that has to be it. Niall hates him. It is the only plausible explanation as to why this entire fucking conversation is currently taking place.

“Stop deflecting. Just admit you like him. You fuckin’ kissed the guy. He was your first kiss, Haz. You can’t pretend you don’t like him. I know you do, and the first step is admitting it,” Niall says, his features stern as if he is scolding a child.

“Jesus, Niall, I’m not an alcoholic. This isn't a twelve step program,” Harry quips. He can’t help it. It’s far better than the alternative which is actually saying what he is feeling out loud. Saying it out loud makes it seem more real, more believable, and Harry still isn’t sure how much he wants to believe. He knows what Louis told him, but his brain still finds that incomprehensible for many reasons. He is still uncertain of Louis’ motives, especially after the bullshitery that was last week. He does, however, feel a shit tonne better knowing that Willow knows. He didn’t help Louis cheat on his actual girlfriend. He helped him cheat on his pretend girlfriend, which is better, he supposes. Who is he kidding? In which realm is that any better? Harry wouldn’t want to take their relationship, or whatever this is, out into the open for the world to see anyways. Getting stoned to death or being burned at the stake does not sound like his idea of a fun Saturday afternoon, so a secret relationship would be key for survival purposes.

“Deflecting,” Niall sing songs, pulling out the only pair of skinny jeans Harry owns that do not have holes in them and throwing them on the bed. “I feel like we have had this conversation at least a dozen times and my patience is wearin’ thin. Why don’t you just fuckin’ admit it, so we can move on with what you’re going to wear.”

“Fine. I like him,” Harry grits out through clenched teeth, feeling like he has been backed into a corner. The words sound weird coming from his own mouth, as if they weren’t meant for the outside world to hear. He doesn't think they are. They were supposed to stay in his mind, never to be released for a single person on Earth to hear and repeat. Admitting it outloud is one step to believing it. Harry wants to believe it; he just doesn’t know if he can. Not with his past. He knows Niall has a point, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to kick his ass for it.

“Awe, H! I’m so proud of ya! This must have been what my mom felt like when she birthed me,” Niall exclaims, tackling Harry onto his bed in a hug. Harry manages to keep his laugh and smile in, not wanting to reinforce Niall's new touchy behavior towards him. Well, he had always been touchy towards him, but he had never been ‘tackle on the bed’ touchy. Harry had only ever really been tackled by one person, and it’s the same person that currently haunts his dreams.

“Fuck off,” Harry says, pushing at Niall, but Niall makes himself a dead weight, not allowing him room for much movement.

“You’ve come so far. Making out with boys in the back stairway then again under the bleachers during the fucking homecoming game no less, where anyone could see ya. Admitting you like said boy, and possibly starting a secret relationship with him. This shit is the high school you see in movies. I’m tellin’ ya, Haz, they are gonna write a book about it someday. Well, let’s hope they make it into a movie, ‘cause books are borin’. Who do you think they’d get to play me? Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio?” Niall asks, crooking his head to the side in thought.

“Yeah, right. My story would never be interesting enough for that, and Leonardo Dicaprio is too good looking to play you, not to mention he’s like forty-five and could never pass for a high schooler,” Harry says, wiggling his arms to try to free them of Niall’s tight hold.

“Semantics,” Niall dismisses, finally getting off Harry and sitting on the bed, facing him, with an excited grin and a wicked glint in his eyes. “So tell me about your first kiss. I need details. Don’t leave anything out.”

“No,” Harry responds flatly, but Niall just crosses his arms and raises his eyebrows, waiting. Niall would literally stare at him all night if that’s what it took to get Harry to talk. He has. It’s annoying but seemingly effective. “Fine. It was nice.”

“Nice?” Niall looks unimpressed with the information. “Nice is how you describe a car or your fucking day. You don’t describe your first kiss as nice, unless it sucked.”

“It didn’t suck,” Harry says, allowing his mind to travel back to the the empty stairwell. “It was amazing, actually. Louis’ lips were soft even though he was clearly angry and frustrated with me. It was like a dream. As if I was watching it from outside of my own body, but I could feel every little thing. The very air around us felt electrifying, like it does before a big storm.”

“Only you would describe your first kiss in such a grossly poetic manner,” Niall chuckles, covering his mouth with his hand.

“Why the fuck did you ask then?” Harry punches Niall on the arm, effectively getting Niall to stop with his giggles.

“Anything else? Was there tongue?” Niall asks, bobbing his eyebrows suggestively.

“You know, for someone who claims to be straight, you sure are interested in how two boys kissed,” Harry muses, punching Niall again, this time not as hard.

“I am straight, but I’m also curious,” Niall defends, rubbing the spot on his arm that Harry has now hit twice. His smile is still there, amusement twinkling behind his blue eyes. Harry hates him. Harry needs more friends. Scratch that. Harry needs less friends. That seems to be a way better alternative.

“Didn’t curiosity kill the cat or something?” Harry asks, squinting at Niall, hoping the other man takes the bait.

“It had nine lives, so… about those tongues. Where were they?” Niall asks, shit eating grin spreading across his face. Harry goes to punch him again, but Niall dodges this time, cackling loudly.

“Fine. If you must know, we didn’t get a chance to really use tongues the first time. He had to go to the pep rally. Tongues happened under the bleachers,” Harry informs, smiling at the memory. He still can’t believe it fucking happened, and he has no idea how it happened even. He is trying to tell himself that it’s okay that it happened. That Louis really is interested in him and doesn’t want to hurt him. It’s just difficult to rewire his brain towards positivity after so much negativity. Louis just seemed so sincere, then again, so did Logan. Harry shakes his head, trying to release the image of that boy from his mind, not wanting to taint the good memory of Louis.

“Now, we’re getting somewhere,” Niall says rubbing his hands together and grinning like the cat that ate the canary. Why is he so excited about this? Is this what girls feel like when they do sleepovers? He is sure it is nothing like in the movies with sexy pillow fights that end in kissing. He has never seen the appeal of two women kissing. That should have been his first clue that he was gay. Very, very gay. His second clue probably came when the boys started putting pictures of naked girls up in their lockers in middle school when Harry wanted to display pictures of David Bowie.

“Seriously, why is my sex life so interesting to you? I never ask you about the girls you bang or want to bang for that matter,” Harry points out, shuddering to think of Niall with a girl. He knows Niall isn’t a virgin by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean Harry really wants to envision it. Picturing Niall naked was like seeing his brother naked, and a girl, no thank you. Harry would much rather stick to dudes. They are much more fun to look at. He wonders what Louis would look like naked. In porn, he has definitely seen his fair share of cocks. Louis probably has a nice one, but his ass. Holy shit. His ass. Harry wants to grab it. Maybe he will find the nerve to actually do so next time.

“So you wanna fuck Louis!?! I knew it!” Niall exclaims like it’s the best discovery since sliced bread. Thank the Gods Harry’s mom isn’t home to hear this. He’d like to think she would throw a shit fit, but she probably wouldn’t actually care. Harry groans, dropping his face in his hands again. Yes. Harry definitely needs less friends.

Chapter Text

“image”

But now that I’m broken. Now that you know it

Caught up in a moment can you see inside?

'Cause I’ve got a jet black heart, and there’s a hurricane underneath it

Trying to keep us apart. I write with a poison pen

But these chemicals moving between us

Are the reason to start again- Five Seconds of Summer

 

“Do I look okay?” Louis asks Lottie, holding his hands out to his side. He feels stupid. He refuses to get overly dressed up for the homecoming dance, despite his mother’s wishes to rent him a suit. He is wearing dark red trousers, a white dress shirt with a black collar that has a single button, and a pair of black and white suspenders. He has the sleeves rolled up, wanting it to look even more casual. He knows Mark is going to give him shit for the suspenders, but he likes them, so Mark can fuck off.

“You look great. Willow is going to love it,” Lottie says, sitting on his bed and assessing his outfit. Louis doesn’t really care what Willow thinks of it, he knows she will be happy with anything he wears, is isn’t going there to impress her; he wants to impress Harry. Of course, he can’t say that outloud. He still can’t believe he actually made out with a boy, under the bleachers of their high school, with his parents within yelling distance. He doesn’t know what has gotten into him. He isn’t reckless by nature, but something about Harry makes him want to throw caution to the wind.

It wasn’t his first time kissing a boy, but all of the other times were in the dark with a loud party going on around them. They were alcohol fueled and urgent, with one goal in mind: to get off. Kisses that happened in the dead of the night, when both men tasted like alcohol, their minds were fuzzy with need and inebriation. None of them felt that… innocent. Funny he uses the word innocent to describe it because it was also filthy and sinful. It wasn’t something that could easily be swept under the rug and dismissed as drunken shenanigans. No. He had no excuse for this, which made him feel uneasy. At least before, if he ever had to explain himself to God, he had an excuse. He could chalk it up to the alcohol and teenage rebellion while begging for mercy. This time, though, he doesn’t have one other than he simply wanted it.

It felt so right. So fucking perfect, yet he knew it was wrong. It is wrong to feel this way about a person of the same sex. He knows this. He just can’t seem to stop himself. He wants Harry. Why is that wrong? Oh yeah, the Bible says so. Not to mention the fact that if his parents ever found out, they would probably send him away to never be seen again. So yes, he wants Harry, but he also should probably keep his feelings at bay. At least until the school year is over, and he can work out in his head if being attracted to the same sex really is all that bad. He knows it is, but he also has his fair share of doubts at this point. Stupid Harry. He never questioned things before him. He always just planned to eventually stop hooking up with men, find himself a nice normal girl to marry, and convince himself that he would be happy. He would keep going to Church on Sunday, then maybe God would have mercy on him to relieve him of his impure thoughts. God hasn’t done that yet because all he can think about is Harry.

Harry with his long legs and pale skin. Harry with his curly hair and ridiculously green eyes that he sometimes lines in black. Harry with his big hands, long ringed fingers, and black painted nails. Harry who is aware of everyone’s disapproval but doesn’t seem to give a fuck and continues to just be himself. So yes, as much as he doesn't want to admit it to himself, it is Harry he wants to impress. He really hopes Harry’s ‘maybe’ from the night before really meant ‘yes’, because he has his hopes  way up. He told Willow what had happened with Harry in the stairwell then again after the game, and she seemed genuinely happy for them which made him feel relieved.

“Louis! You better hurry, you’re supposed to be picking Willow up in fifteen minutes!” Louis hears his mom yell from downstairs, effectively snapping him out of his thoughts about Harry.

“Come on, Lots. Thanks for helping me by the way,” Louis says, gesturing for his sister to follow him out of the room, shutting the door behind him. She nods in response, trailing right behind him. As they walk down the stairs, he allows himself to wonder what Harry will be wearing. He could go for something a bit more dressy, like the shirt he was wearing that day in the park. Knowing Harry, which Louis feels like he is starting to, he will show up in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Fuck. Louis hopes he is wearing eyeliner. That’s not a sentence Louis ever would have expected to think, but it’s true. He likes it when his boy wears eyeliner. His boy? Louis likes the sound of that, too. Well maybe not sound exactly, since he hasn’t said it outloud, but he likes the way it sounds in his head, at least.

“Oh Lou, you look so handsome! Your first dance!” His mom exclaims, blinding him with the flash on her phone as soon as he reaches the landing. He blinks a few times, trying to get his eyes to adjust again then smiles at her because she looks so happy.

“Thanks, Mom. I should be going though,” Louis says, praying that he will get out of there without a Mark lecture.

“Wait, young man,” Mark interrupts, walking into the living room from the kitchen. He stops, eyes raking over Louis appearance with a look of disgust. Louis stands there quietly, thinking this has to be what judgement day will feel like. He prays again, this time, that he will be allowed to leave in the foreseeable future, and Mark won’t change his mind. “Those suspenders make you look like a fucking fairy. Ridiculous.”

“I think they look great,” Jay disagrees placing two fingers under the aforementioned clothing and tugging once then giving Louis a reassuring smile. Louis is happy that his mom seems to be on his side for once.

“Thanks, Mom,” Louis says quietly, trying to keep his head up and his gaze level with Mark. Showing fear would only make matters worse. It would only mean Louis would have to change even though he very much likes his outfit.

“Well I think you look stupid, and you should change. I don’t want my son going to a dance looking like the fag in a boyband,” Mark huffs, eyes slanted at Louis. Louis grits his teeth when Mark refers to him as his son. Louis isn’t his son. He isn’t even sure he wants to be, although Mark did legally adopt him. When that happened, he was thankful, but now, he hates the very idea of calling Mark ‘dad’.

“Mark, don’t be like that. He is probably dressed like a lot of boys his age. Let him go and live,” Jay responds, placing her hands on her hips. Louis can’t believe his mom is actually standing up to Mark for him. This rarely happens, and it if does, his mom usually loses because Mark pulls the ‘I’m the man of this house’ card. His mom doesn’t seem to be backing down right now, though. He holds his breath and waits for Mark’s response.

He really should have just worn something he knew would make Mark happy. Well not happy, but that he would approve of. It would have saved an argument and possibly Mark being unhappy with his mom. He should know better than to try to be the slightest bit himself in the presence of Mark. Over the years, he has learned to suppress his normal typically flamboyant side, instead going for something more stilted and less natural for himself. He hates it, but he has to. He has to do it to keep the peace and to keep his family together. So what if he has to sacrifice himself and his happiness? He would give it up for the happiness of his mom and sisters in a heartbeat, which Mark seems to provide.

“Fine. If he wants go looking like that, then he can. I just hope nobody I know sees him,” Mark says finally, gesturing towards Louis then stomping back into the kitchen, probably to grab another beer. Louis sighs in relief, glad it didn’t cause more of an argument than necessary. Well, he didn’t see how it was necessary to argue about his choice in clothing at all, but he supposes it is in his household.

“I think you look pretty, Lou,” Phoebe says with a small voice and wide eyes. Louis likes that she chose the word ‘pretty’ even though Mark told her not to refer to men that way. He is proud of her.

“Thanks, Phoebs, and I think you look pretty, too.” She beams at the compliment, Louis messing up her hair a bit. She doesn't seem to mind, just runs her small fingers through it and smiles.

“You’re gonna be late, better get going,” Fizzy says, looking at the clock above the television. Fuck. She’s right. He is going to be late if he doesn’t get going. He takes a deep breath, stealing his nerves. His mom gives him another reassuring smile, which he appreciates then feels guilty because she has no idea the real reason he is nervous. Louis kind of hates himself for lying to her, but what else could he do? He could break things off with Harry, but that doesn’t feel like an option.

 

__________

 

“Have you seen Harry?” Louis asks Liam, two hours into the dance. He feels like time is slipping away from him. He can actually hear the seconds tick by, and still no sight of Harry. Maybe Harry lied to him and had no intentions of coming. Louis’ heart sinks at the thought. He thought he may have actually broken one of Harry’s walls down, gotten through to him, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe Harry is still second guessing everything. He probably still doesn’t trust Louis, but Louis doesn't know what else he could do. He really thought he had made a breakthrough.

“No. Honestly, this isn’t really his thing. I haven't seen him at a dance since…” Liam’s sentence trails off, his gaze going into the air as if trying to actually think of the last time he had seen Harry at a dance. Was it that long ago? “I think since middle school,” Liam finally finishes, looking back at Louis. Louis takes a drink of his punch, which has clearly been spiked with vodka. He hasn’t drunk that much, so he feels fine. Mostly it is just making him warm and loose.

“He just told me he would be here,” Louis says, trying to keep the disappointment from his tone. He doesn't think he succeeds given the look of confusion marring Liam’s features.

“He did? That’s weird. I’m still shocked he even talks to ya. Before you came into town, he tended to keep to himself,” Liam says conversationally, but Louis can hear the smallest hint of curiosity in his tone.

“Yeah…” Louis allows his thoughts to trail off as he glances around the room again, spotting Niall walking towards them. He smiles at the other man.

“Where’s Willow?” Liam asks, snapping Louis’ attention away from Niall. Fuck. That’s a good damn question. He hasn’t seen her really since they had gotten here. She went off with her friends when they had arrived. They planned to meet back up before his curfew, so he could drop her off at home like the good boyfriend he was supposed to be.

“Um…” Louis says, trying to buy some time as he looks for her flaming red hair and black dress on the dance floor. He spots her a few seconds later and smiles when he sees who she is with. “She’s dancing with her friend Tara.” Louis points to the two girls with bright smiles as they laugh when Willow almost trips in her heels, Tara steadying her.

“Hey, guys!” Nialls greets, finally joining them, fist bumping Liam and clapping Louis on the back.

“Hey. Harry here?” Louis asks impatiently, cutting straight to the point. He knows he asked it too quickly though, because Liam is giving him a funny look while Niall’s features have morphed into a smirk with a glint in his eye. Could Niall know Harry’s preference? Harry doesn't strike him as the type to tell people, but Niall is definitely not at all confused by Louis’ insistence.

“Yup,” Niall answers, rocking on his heels and popping the ‘p’. When Louis gives him an impatient look, he just points towards the entrance. Louis looks in the direction Niall’s finger is pointing to find Harry standing awkwardly, eyes glancing over the room, finally falling on Louis. Harry, of course, is wearing a pair of ripped skinny jeans and his signature black band t-shirt that looks like it may actually be older than Harry. In the darkness of the room, he can’t really make out the logo on the shirt. Louis really needs to start writing these bands down, wanting to listen to them. Maybe it will help him gain insight into Harry’s mind. Harry has one large hand shoved in his pocket, the other clutching a solo cup, probably full of spiked punch.

“He looks nervous,” Liam observes, eyes following Louis’, spotting Harry.

“As a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” Niall adds, and what the fuck does that even mean? Why would a cat be nervous in a room full of chairs? Is it because it has a long tail? Do cats even get nervous? He knows they can be curious, but he has never heard anyone refer to them as nervous. He’ll just add it to the list of ‘weird as fuck’ phrases Niall tends to say in his presence. He swears he is doing it on purpose. Fuck. Harry has begun walking towards them, his long limbs almost gliding across the floor. People in his path part, letting him through while simultaneously gawking. Harry is like Moses or some shit, parting the crowd like the fucking Red Sea. Louis tries not to get irritated by the stares Harry is gaining just by being there, but Louis wants to punch them and tell them all to mind their own fucking business. Harry is allowed to be wherever he fucking wants to be, and if they don’t like it they can shove it.

Just as Louis takes a drink from his own cup, Harry is close enough for him to see that his eyes are lined with black, making the green stand out. His nails are also freshly painted black, no chip or mark in sight. Louis almost chokes on his punch, inhaling the liquid as it burns his lungs. Niall laughs and claps him on the back a few times to help clear his airways, as if he knows why Louis almost died. Fuck. He might. Did Harry tell him? Oh God. What if he did? They didn’t really rule out telling their friends, he just thought it was an unspoken request. Fuck. Niall might know .

“Hey,” Harry greets the group as he comes to a stop beside Louis. He is looking down, not making eye contact with any of them. Louis thinks that Liam’s presence may be making him feel anxious mixed with the overall effect of having everyone in the room stare at him. He wants to reach out and hold his hand and squeeze, letting him know that it will be okay, but he can’t. It is so frustrating not being able to openly comfort him, and it makes Louis want to scream. He never intended for Harry to feel nervous, and if he had known, he would never have asked him to come. He is suddenly struck by the realization that whatever they have must mean a lot to Harry because this is a big step for him. This is forcing Harry out of his comfort zone completely, and Louis wants to hug him even more. Fuck.

“Hey. It’s good to see you here Harry,” Liam responds, smiling at Harry. Well Harry isn’t actually looking, so smiling in Harry’s direction. There is an awkward silence that falls among them, as they all sip their punch and look out at the dance floor. Harry is becoming increasingly more tense as the seconds tick by, the loud pop music blaring in the room almost feels deafening. Louis wants to to sling his arm around him, but can’t. Fuck. Maybe this was a terrible idea. Maybe Harry’s right, and they are just too different.

“Mr. Horan, Mr. Payne, Mr. Tomlinson and -- ah, Mr. Styles. Interesting seeing you here,” Mrs. Marcum, their pre-calculus teacher, says, with her pointy nose up in the air, as she looks down on Harry through her silver rimmed glasses.

“Evening Mrs. Marcum,” Niall waves, smiling at her. She ignores him, taking in Harry’s outfit with a critical eye. It almost makes Louis feel as though Mark is looking at him, and he hates it.

“Harry. I don’t think that is appropriate apparel for a school dance,” she says, eyes finally landing on his face, looking appalled by his eyeliner. She has seen it before, since they all have her class during fourth period, right before lunch. Perhaps she is just pissed because it is at a school dance, where everyone went out of their way and spent far too much money to look nice.

“I don’t think the girls walking around here with their asses showing and their boobs hanging out while wearing sripper heels is appropriate either, so I guess we all have our grievances,” Harry responds, not even cracking a smile. Louis literally has to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. Niall is smiling into his cup while Liam has the most adorable surprised expression on his face, as if he can’t believe Harry just spoke to a teacher that way. Louis thinks it serves her right for being a bitch. Louis has a suspicion that Harry may not be able to afford nice clothes, but he can’t be sure. Harry hasn’t really talked about it, but it would explain why all of his clothes either seem too small or like he got them from a thrift store, however, it could also just be how he chooses to dress.

“Mr. Styles, do you kiss your mamma with that mouth? She should wash it out with soap. It would do you well to remember who you are speaking to; I could kick you out for that,” Mrs. Marcum responds, anger making her tone sharp, but he didn’t understand half what she just said. Kiss his mamma? Wash what out with soap? Was she referring to his mouth because that sounds unhealthy. Soap has a bunch of chemicals that shouldn’t be ingested, surely a teacher would know that. He holds his breath as he watches Harry roll his eyes, a rebuttal clearly on the tip of his tongue.

“Mrs. Marcum, I think what Harry means is that people seem to be able to wear whatever they want to these dances, so he shouldn’t be any different. He isn’t dressed inappropriately. He may be a little casual, but he isn’t wearing anything offensive,” Liam chimes in, effectively cutting off Harry’s most likely biting reply. Harry doesn't bother to mask the surprised expression on his face at Liam coming to his defense. Louis, on the other hand, just wants to cheer for Liam because fuck yeah. He knows Liam is a really fucking good person and has never talked badly about Harry, but it is still nice for Harry to finally see it. See that maybe the entire school isn’t against him. That maybe he could have more than one person who cares for him.

“I’m sure that is what he was trying to say. I will be watching you boys,” Mrs. Marcum says, pointing at each one of them as she walks off  towards whatever bitch cave she flew out of.

“Jesus, that woman puts the cunt in country,” Niall quips once she is out of earshot, prompting the other three boys to laugh, even Harry.

“Thank you,  for umm-- sticking up for me, Liam,” Harry says quietly, once the laughter has died down. He is back to looking at his feet, but Louis is so proud of him for actually being the first to say something to Liam.

“You’re welcome, man. You were right. It’s not fair, and she clearly just wanted to be a bitch about it,” Liam says, and Harry finally looks up to meet his eyes giving him a small smile. Another feeling of pride sweeps through Louis, threatening to crack his rib cage and overflow onto the dancefloor. He can’t help the fond expression that takes over his features as he watches Harry and Liam continue their conversation.

 

__________

 

“Do you wanna, maybe, find somewhere to hide?” Louis whispers in his ear, his raspy voice sending chills down his spine. Harry almost chokes on his drink. He was not expecting that, at all. He sputters and coughs a bit, trying to catch his breath feeling Louis’ small hand patting and rubbing him on the back. Louis touches him often, but he still isn’t used to it. He has to mentally remind himself that he doesn’t need to pull away.

The four boys had made their way to a table, spending the last hour talking and laughing. Maybe Liam isn’t such a bad guy after all, but Harry still doesn't trust him. They haven't really talked to each other exclusively, just keeping it within group conversation. Willow would check in periodically, probably trying to keep up appearances for the sake of Liam and the other people in attendance. Harry still hates it, but he could tell that Louis was keeping their interactions to a minimum, only touching her when he thought he had to. She had just excused herself, again, disappearing with her friends onto the dance floor.

“What?” Harry chokes out, making sure he heard the other boy correctly.

“Do you wanna disappear for a little bit?” Louis asks again, blue eyes gleaming in the low light, his straight white teeth showing with his easy smile. Fuck. Does he know how pretty he is? Harry feels it when Louis places his hand on his knee, the warmth seeping into his skin. He doesn't move his knee and gives himself a mental pat on the back for not even flinching. Once he gets used to it, the touch makes him stomach do a little flip, warmness pooling in the pit.

“Um-- sure-- yes-- but um-- how?” Harry stumbles out, his cheeks heating in embarrassment from his stuttering. He needs to get a fucking grip around Louis. He is usually perfectly fine at never showing any type of emotion at all, but Louis does something to him. Makes him let his guard down, and he doesn’t like it.

“Meet me in the hallway by chemistry in five,” Louis whispers, glancing to make sure Liam and Niall are still engrossed in their conversation. They are.

“Won’t someone find us?” Harry asks.

“No one will be there, trust me,” Louis responds, winking and fuck. Harry trusts him. How could he let this happen? He does though. Somewhat.

“I am going to go dance with Willow like she has been begging me all night,” Louis says then, standing up and smiling at Harry.

“Alright, man, see you around,” Liam responds, while Niall just waves. Harry watches with an amused expression as Louis disappears into the crowd, hips swaying as walks. Holy fuck. It should be illegal for Louis to wear dress pants and suspenders. Seriously. He almost gave Harry a heart attack with that outfit when he had first arrived. The suspenders act like arrows, pointing down to the prize which is the dark red trousers that cling to his shapely legs and plump ass like a second skin.

Harry tries to pay attention to the conversation between his... friends? Well, he isn't one hundred percent sure they are his friends. Niall is, but Liam is questionable still. That just seems like the best word to use to describe the two men he is currently sitting at the table with. His cock is already stiffening with the idea of being alone with Louis again. He tells it to calm down and cut that shit out because they will probably just kiss or something equally innocent. He looks at his watch for the fifth time and realizes that it has been exactly three minutes. It will take at least a minute to get to the designated hallway, not even factoring in excusing himself from the table and all of that. Well, that is at least what he tells himself as he stands.

“I have to go to the bathroom, excuse me,” Harry tells them watching as a grin blooms across Niall’s face. The bastard. He has probably figured it out. Liam looks suspicious for .5 seconds before he shrugs, waving to Harry.

“Alright. Have fun,” Niall says with a wink. Harry almost flips him off but doesn’t want to seem suspicious in front of Liam, so he refrains. So he just rolls his eyes, waves at Liam, and makes his way through the crowd. Most of the people around him don’t stop and stare at him this time, thank fuck. He just wants to sneak out in peace. He looks around for any teachers, finding it clear, then sneaks through the door quietly. As soon as the door shuts behind him, he is met with a deafening silence. He closes his eyes for a moment, leaning against the door and taking a deep breath, letting the stillness wash over him. He can still hear the dull thump of the dance through the doors behind him, but after so long being in a loud environment, it is nice to just relax for a minute. He has been out of his comfort zone all night, so taking a minute just to relax and breathe is exactly what he needs.

After a few more deep breaths, he straightens himself back up and begins walking down the empty hallways of the school. Harry is used to them being filled with light, voices, and footsteps, but they are dark and eerie in the late night hours. His own footsteps echo down the corridor as he makes a right, then a left, trying to quickly and quietly get to his destination. When he rounds the last corner, he is confused to see that Louis isn’t there. His heart drops, thinking that Louis has changed his mind and didn’t want to show. Maybe he will find a note or something that says he doesn't want to do this anymore. He slowly walks down the hallway, looking around for Louis. He almost screams when he feels small hands grab him and shove him into the corner where the wall meets the lockers.

“You have got to stop doing that,” Harry breaths out, panting as he looks down at the smiling face of Louis. The light in this particular hallway is dim, but not so much so that Harry can’t see the crinkles by Louis’ eyes. He can still see the way Louis’ chest is rising and falling with his breaths, a small giggle escaping him at Harry’s words.

“Why? It’s so much fun,” Louis pouts, his bottom lip pulling down with it. It doesn’t last long though, because a few seconds later he is smiling again. Harry wants to die. How could someone so pretty and happy want to be with him? He is so weird and moody. It is ridiculous really. Louis is like the sun and Harry, well Harry isn’t sure what he is, but he is definitely not the sun. Maybe the moon? Harry doesn't have time to consider it because Louis wedges himself between Harry’s legs then and gets up on his tiptoes to kiss him. “I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” Louis mummers against Harry’s lips.

“Did I tell you that you look amazing tonight?” Harry asks, and he has no fucking clue where that came from. He would have never thought, in a million years, he’d say something like that, but things fucking change he supposes. They sure have changed quite a bit in the past three days. He hopes he doesn’t sound like a total fucking nerd with the compliment, but it’s true. Louis does look amazing.

“You did not, but thank you. You look beautiful tonight as well,” Louis tells him, blue eyes roaming over his face in the dim light. Harry thinks he is lying, but he isn’t doing any of his normal tells to show he is doing so, like using the words ‘obviously’ and ‘literally’ while emphasizing them. He actually looks genuine with the remark.

“I look the same as I look every day,” Harry counters, glancing down at his outfit. He would have bought something fancy, but that requires actual money that he doesn’t have yet. He is going to get his first paycheck soon, though he doubts he will spend it on clothes. He isn’t sure he actually cares. He does care what Louis thinks, for whatever reason, but he doesn't care what he looks like to everyone else.

“You put a fresh coat of paint on your nails, and you wore eyeliner. You are also wearing an extra ring on your left pinky. While you do wear eyeliner, on occasion, to school, you never care if it is put on with a steady hand. This time, it’s clear that you took your time, so no, you don’t look exactly the same.” Harry doesn’t bother to mask the shock on his face, his mouth forming a small ‘o’. What the fuck? Louis notices that stuff about him? Nobody else has. He doesn’t even know if his own mother knows he came to the dance tonight. She had to work, so probably not. Niall doesn’t notice shit like that and others were too busy staring at his arrival at the dance to bother taking in his actual appearance. A warmness spreads in his chest when he comes to the conclusion that someone may actually pay attention to him. Louis pays attention to him.

He doesn’t say anything, just grabs Louis’ suspenders, because honestly he has been wanting to do that all fucking night, pulling the other man towards him and kisses him again. Louis’ small hands immediately come around Harry’s neck, tangling in his dark curls. This kiss isn’t quick and innocent like the others have been. This one is intense and heated, making Harry’s cock stiffen in his jeans. He moans when he feels Louis’ own erection against his, rubbing through the fabric, and it feels so fucking good.

“Fuck, Harry.” Louis voice is high and needy, not quite a whine but not a whimper either. He trails kisses down Harry’s jaw, biting and nipping the skin there. Harry’s eyes roll into the back of his head when Louis kisses, then bites and finally sucks on the spot where this jaw meets his ear because, holy shit. Harry is embarrassed when a moan escapes from deep within his chest, but it seems to urge Louis on. He grinds his hard cock against Harry’s, releasing a high raspy sound into the spot he has claimed as his own on Harry’s neck.

“You feel so good,” Louis says in his ear, grinding harder. Harry feels the coil in the pit of his stomach tighten with the words. Fuck. He is getting close, but he is literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. His back is pressed against the locker and the wall, Louis pinning him in. He couldn’t pull away even if he tried, and he isn’t sure he wants to because it feels so good he may faint. Louis’s lips are back on his, swallowing his next moan.

Without thinking, Harry releases Louis’ suspender straps. He had no idea he was even still holding them, to be honest. Before he can second guess himself, he places his hands on Louis’s lower back, pulling the other man impossibly closer. Louis continues the slow grind of his hips as he kisses him, wet and sloppy, tongues delving deep. This all feels like too much but not enough. His entire body feels like it is on fire, and Louis gripping his hair tightly isn’t helping matters. Each nerve ending is shooting off in different directions, but all finding their way back to his hard cock.

Harry’s hands are subconsciously working their way towards Louis’ round ass. He has been dreaming about that ass for far too long, so who could blame them. He will call them traitorous later, but right now they have a mind of their own. When they finally come to rest on Louis’ ass, Louis moans into Harry’s mouth prompting him to squeeze the firm muscles. Louis seems to like that because he grinds harder, his movements becoming quicker. Holy fucking shit. Harry has never felt this good in his entire life. His hand would never compare to Louis fucking Tomlinson grinding their cocks together through the fabric of their pants while kissing the life from him. He knows it’s pathetic, but it’s the truth. Harry doesn't know how he will ever go back to his hand after tonight.

“Oh God,” Louis moans when Harry squeezes his ass firmly. Harry would usually have some sort of ‘no God here or anywhere’ remark, but he can’t fucking think when his balls feel like they may explode any second now, while Louis’ tongue is massaging his own. Harry begins grinding back, just needing to come. He is so close; he is out of his mind with need. He just needs to come, and Louis grinding on him quickly now is exactly the friction he needs. He calls out Louis’ name as he comes in his own jeans, squeezing Louis’ ass so hard he is probably going to leave bruises.

Louis breaks their kiss, eyes wide, mouth open, looking down in surprise. Fuck. Shit. What the fuck just happened? Harry creamed his jeans like a horny fourteen year old, that’s what fucking happened. Harry can feel his cheeks and chest burning with the realization. Louis must think he is a stupid fucking virgin. Fuck. He is a stupid virgin, isn’t he? He didn’t want Louis to know that, but now he must. Harry doesn’t look Louis in the eye as he pushes him away, looking down at his come stained pants for a few seconds. Letting the shame sink in even more. Jesus the first real makeout session with a boy, and Harry fucking comes in his pants. He is so stupid. He hates himself.

He doesn’t say a word to Louis, ignoring his calls and runs down the dimly lit hallway and into the darkness of the next one. He quickly locates an exit that won’t sound an alarm, breathing in the fresh air as he pushes through the thankfully unlocked doors roughly. He blinks back tears, as he continues to run in the direction of home. All he can hear is the echo of his boots and the blood rushing to his ears. The air feels cold on Harry’s too warm face, helping him cool down a bit and dry the tears in his eyes as they form. He tries to breathe as deeply as he can as he runs, but it’s difficult. All he wants to do is collapse on the dirty ground and cry. He can’t. He needs to make it home, to his bed, before he lets the panic take over him. His breaths are coming out in short huffs. He doesn't know if he will make it, but he has to try. He doesn't even want to consider the embarrassment he would suffer if someone from school found him mid panic attack on a dirty sidewalk in town.

 

__________

 

Louis runs after Harry’s retreating figure, following him out of the school. He thinks he loses him to the night when he exits, but spots a glimpse of him going around the corner. He quickly follows him. Harry doesn't run that fast, and, even in Louis dress clothes, he knows he will catch up with him sooner rather than later. He has no idea where Harry is going, he just follows blindly as he continues to beat himself up over his reaction. He was just surprised. That’s all. He wasn’t expecting Harry to come. He didn’t mean to make Harry think he was upset with him in any way. He was just so fucking surprised. In fact, a feeling of pride swept through him right after, being able to get Harry off just by kissing and grinding, did something to his ego. Of course, Harry didn’t see that. His cheeks had already began turning a bright shade of red, his large hand going to cover the wet spot on his crotch. He didn’t even say anything to Louis or look him in the eye, he just fled.

Harry looks like he is struggling to breathe ahead of him, hand going up to cover his chest, judging by the angle. Louis is barely breathing hard as he begins to catch up, just a few steps behind Harry now. Louis takes his opportunity when Harry turns to walk into a driveway. He grabs Harry’s elbow, spinning him around. “Harry, please don’t run from me. Please,” Louis begs, suddenly feeling like he and Harry are back to square one. He certainly hopes not, because that would suck major ass, but Harry isn’t making eye contact much like the first day. Harry ignores him and tries to turn around again, but Louis stops him with another firm hand on his elbow.

“Let go,” Harry says, rubbing his chest with his other hand. He is blinking a lot, biting his lip, and Louis thinks he may actually be holding back tears. Louis hates himself for making Harry feel this way. It was never his intention. He just. He was just so surprised. He, himself, was about two minutes away from coming in his own pants, if he is honest, but Harry apparently didn’t see it that way.

“Not until you talk to me,” Louis responds, tightening his grip even more when Harry tries to pull free. Harry is breathing hard, probably from the sprint. His green eyes are cast down and his curls are disheveled. His pale skin almost glows in the moonlight, making him seem ethereal. Louis just wants to reach out and touch his face, pull his lip out from between his teeth, but he doesn't. He is afraid one wrong move will scare him even more.

“What is there to talk about? I fucking came in my pants. You happy? Wanna make fun of me? Remind me of how I am a virgin who, up until two days ago, had never kissed anyone, let alone had someone grind against me?” Harry accuses, his tone raw, voice cracking on the last two words. At first, Louis was angry at yet another accusal, but his heart breaks when he comprehends what Harry has just admitted to him. Harry must have just realized it too, because his eyes get as wide as saucers, his cheeks turning and even deeper shade of red if possible. Harry is a virgin? Holy shit. Louis had no idea. He thought that maybe he was inexperienced, but never imagined that hot as fuck Harry Styles would be a virgin at seventeen. Just like that, another piece of the puzzle known as Harold has fallen into place.

“Oh love, no. It’s not like that,” Louis insists, trying to keep his eyes kind and his tone earnest. Anything to make Harry understand. Louis takes his fingers and uses them to lift Harry’s chin up. Harry’s eyes are still mostly downcast, but he glances up at Louis making eye contact for a split second. That is all Louis needs to keep going. “I was just surprised that’s all.”

“I just-- I can’t Louis,” Harry starts, but Louis is quick to cut off that sentence.

“Can’t what? Harry, I need you to listen very carefully. You ran off before you could see the look of pride on my face. You have any idea how fucking hot it is to know that I made you come in your pants? That you got so turned on by what we were doing, you came? Fuck. I almost came just knowing I made you so turned on. In fact, I will probably go home tonight and get off to the mere thought of it. Holy fuck, Harry, don’t you understand what a compliment that is?” Louis asks, and at some point during his speech, Harry finally met his eyes. He is looking at Louis as if trying to decide if Louis is telling the truth. Louis most certainly fucking is.

“I feel like an idiot,” Harry mumbles after a few excruciating minutes of silence. His eyes are shining in the moonlight with unshed tears, and Louis’ heart breaks a tiny bit more for him. Harry takes a deep breath, looking up at the sky and blinking a few times. Louis bets Harry looks beautiful when he cries. He looks beautiful doing everything else, including, but not limited to breathing, sitting still, and sucking a goddamned straw.

“You’re not an idiot, love. It’s actually normal. The first time I did something like that, I also came in my pants. They guy was a total asshole about it, though. He made me feel like shit for it, and that wasn’t fair. I think it’s a compliment,” Louis tells him, thinking back to the time he snuck out of his house on New Year’s Eve when he was sixteen. He ended up getting drunk and dry humping this random dude that he doesn't even remember the name of until he came.

“I’m sorry he was an asshole about it,” Harry responds, finally meeting Louis’ gaze and keeping it. Harry does seem genuinely sorry, but Louis just shrugs. It really isn’t that big of a deal now, but Louis promised himself that he would never ever make someone feel bad for coming.

“Are you okay?” Louis asks, placing his hand on Harry’s chest, feeling his heart beat erratically beneath his fingers.

“Yeah. ‘M fine,” Harry answers, but Louis isn’t entirely sure he believes him. Louis’ gaze begins to take in his surroundings finally. Harry has lead them to a part of town Louis didn’t know existed. Behind Harry is a small and very run down house. The white paint is dingy, chipping off in several places. One of the dark shutters is broken, the other is crooked. The windows look grimy, spider webs woven through the dirty white banister.

“Harry is this your house?” Louis asks before he can think better of it. Fuck. He feels Harry stiffen below his hand, his heart rate picking back up. The look on his face has gone back to panic. Louis is just a major fuck up tonight. That’s the only explanation for any of this. Louis shouldn’t be allowed to talk anymore. Talking gets him into trouble and makes him say things to cute boys that could be taken the wrong way. So stop talking? That should be easy, right? It’s not like he ever says anything important.

“Um-- yeah,” Harry responds, voice barely above a whisper. His body has turned back in on itself, feet pigeon toed, gaze firmly planted on them. “I know it’s just a glorified shack and probably not nearly as nice as yours, but-- yeah this is where I live. You probably have already gathered that I am poor. I guess you were gonna find out about the shit hole I call home at some point.” Harry laughs humorously.

“Love, I don’t give a fuck what your house looks like, or if you’re poor. None of that matters to me,” Louis tells him, taking his large hand in his own. The rings are cool on his skin, but Harry’s hand is warm.

“Fuck this whole night has been a disaster,” Harry says, cheeks red with his embarrassment. Louis thinks he has seen Harry show more emotion tonight than he has in the last two months combined. He would be happy, if the emotions weren’t shame and embarrassment.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Louis says, smiling a bit. It hasn’t been a total disaster. He got to make out with Harry. He got him off, and has plenty of wanking material for later. He knows way more about Harry now than he ever thought he would. He feels… closer to him somehow. “I think this night has been perfect, full of doing things we shouldn’t do and having secret little rendezvous.”

“You need to stop studying all of those stupid vocabulary words Mrs. Perry keeps assigning as SAT prep.” Harry laughs, the sound deep and musical.

“Probably,” Louis says, returning Harry’s smile and getting on his tiptoes to kiss Harry on the lips.

“I’m sorry I flipped out,” Harry sighs, Louis feeling the hot breath on his lips. Louis doesn’t want him to apologize. There is no need for it really. He shouldn’t be sorry for anything.

“No need to apologize, love. I don’t mind as long as you keep the things I said in mind for next time.”

“Next time?” Harry asks, as if he can’t believe Louis would still want to continue this. Louis wishes he could smack some sense into him, but he knows he needs to keep proving himself to make Harry understand.

“Of course,” Louis answers, glancing down at his watch and sighing when it reads 10:30. He feels a slight panic in his chest at the idea of being late for curfew. His parents never let him do anything, so being late this one time is sure to mean he won’t be allowed to do anything ever again. “I’m sorry, Harry, but I have to go. My parents are expecting me home at 11, and I don’t want to know what will happen to me if I am even a minute late. I still have to drop Willow off.”

“It’s fine, Lou. I understand,” Harry says, giving him a small smile, and that is really all Louis could ask for. Louis hates doing this. Hates leaving him when he feels like he has cracked through another wall. He may have many more to go, but the moment seems fragile somehow. As if, as soon as Louis turns his back, Harry will put cement over the cracks, and pretend they never happened. He supposes if he wants Harry to trust him, he is going to have to trust Harry, too. Trust that their blossoming relationship won't be a continuous cha cha of one step forward and two steps back.

“Gimme your number,” Louis says then, the idea popping into his head suddenly. He doesn’t want another week like the one before. Wanting to speak to Harry but having no way of contacting him. Having his number would at least give him another avenue of communication. Sure, Harry could ignore him, but he also knows where he lives as well. He then pulls out his phone and hands it to Harry. Harry does as asked, using too large thumbs to type in his number, then sends a quick text to himself so that he has Louis’.

“Text me, if you want,” Harry adds the last part, as if he isn’t sure Louis really wants to text him. If it takes forever, Louis will get him to learn that he does want to text him, and talk to him, and kiss him, and do all sorts of other things with him.

“Of course, love. Alright, I better get going, bye,” Louis says, kissing Harry softly on the lips with the word. “Oh and by the way, I love the flowers.” Louis gestures at the flowers planted in the bed alongside the chipped painted siding. He catches Harry blush the prettiest shade of pink before he turns on his heels and begins to run off, smiling from ear to ear.

Chapter Text

“image”

How can you see into my eyes like open doors

Leading you down into my core

Where I've become so numb. Without a soul

My spirit sleeping somewhere cold

Until you find it there and lead it back home- Evanescence

 

“Two words. Hallo. Ween.” Niall counts off the ‘words’ on his fingers, holding them up in the air triumphantly with a glint in his eyes as he comes to sit down between Harry and Liam in Choir. Louis had snuck over to take the seat in front of Harry, turning around to talk to him and Liam as Niall made his grand entrance.

“Pretty sure that is one word, Ni,” Louis quips, and Harry tries to cover his smile. He knows it doesn't work because Louis smirks in his direction. Asshole. Harry used to pride himself on covering his emotions, especially smiles, but Louis seems to always bring them out of him, albeit begrudgingly.

“What about it?” Harry asks. He, truly, loves Halloween. It may be his absolute favorite day of the year, but he never says that outloud. It’s not like he ever gets invited to Halloween parties or anything. He usually spends the evening watching scary movies.

“There’s a party. Josh Devine’s annual Halloween Extravaganza to be exact,” Niall tells the small group, wide smile spreading on his face, braces gleaming in the light. Niall always seems to make even the smallest, most trivial thing seem to be the most important thing a person will ever hear in his life.

“No,” Harry says, when all eyes come to land on him. They know he is the one that will take the most convincing, rightfully so because Harry doesn’t do parties with the popular kids. Last time he had even attempted that it was… well… Harry won’t go there. The point is. He won’t.

“Come on, Haz,” Louis pouts, lower lip coming out, eyes big and round, as he clutches the back of the chair. Harry stands firm.

“No, I am not going to Josh’s Halloween Party. I am probably not really invited anyways,” Harry says, crossing his arms, attempting not to make eye contact with Louis, pleading look still on his face.

“Everyone in class is invited,” Liam says. What? Since when did Liam actually talk to Harry. Oh yeah, the fucking dance. Liam stood up for him, and Harry decided that maybe he isn’t so bad. He has changed his mind. Liam can fuck right off if he thinks Harry is invited. He’s not. When they say ‘everyone in the senior class’ they really mean ‘everyone in the senior class who isn’t Harry Styles’.

“Yeah. Haz. Everyone. I talked to him myself just now. He didn’t say a damn thing about not inviting you, and he knows we’re friends.” Niall places two hands together in a praying gesture. Niall should know that praying will not work on Harry. It usually has the opposite effect.

“You all can go and have fun without me,” Harry responds.

“Maybe we don’t wanna go without you,” Liam shrugs, his brown eyes wide sporting a similar look to Niall. Fuck. How did Harry go from rejecting one person to three? He guesses those are just the powers of Louis Tomlinson.

“Yeah. We don’t. Come on, Hazza, we can all dress in costumes and get drunk. It’ll be fun. Please?” The tone in Louis’ voice makes Harry finally look at him while shaking his head. Louis still has a pleading look on his face, his pink lips still forming the cutest pout Harry has ever seen that reminds him very much of Daisy that day at the park. His eyes are wide, and he is batting his long eyelashes. Fuck. Okay. Maybe he will. Stupid Louis and his ridiculously blue eyes and stupidly adorable face. How the fuck is Harry supposed to say no, when Louis looks at him like that? No one could, really. Harry isn’t being weak if he agrees to go. He is just agreeing to the inevitable at this point because everyone and their fucking mother knows that Louis will wear him down. He will continue to bat those obscenely long eyelashes at him and use those firm, soft lips to weasel his way in, and convince Harry that going to the party of a popular kid is a grand fucking plan.

“Fine,” Harry says, now it’s his turn to pout while the other three boys cheer in victory, Liam even joining in and throwing his fist in the air. Wait. Are him and Liam friends now? When did that happen? No. That cannot happen. Harry is just going to bury that thought away with all of the others.

“Wait, Louis, your parents are super strict aren’t they? How will you go?” Liam asks, peering at Louis with curious brown eyes. Yeah. Harry does remember Louis saying on multiple occasions that his parents are overprotective. Harry’s eyes snap up to Louis, curious of his answer too.

“I’ve been sneaking out since I was fifteen. I think I’ll be good,” Louis responds, smug expression firmly in place. Harry thought Louis was a good little christian boy, but it turns out that may not be the case at all. Interesting. He figured that Louis wasn’t a virgin or anything, like himself, but he also didn’t picture him to be the type to disobey his parents. He did kiss a boy though, so he must have a rebellious nature in him somewhere.

“Wanna go with me to pick out a costume after school?” Niall asks, looking at Harry. They all glance towards the front of the class when Mr. Tennent begins working with the sopranos on their part of the the Holiday Concert.

“I can’t. I got paid today, finally, and I am going to buy groceries since we really need them,” Harry says, realizing too late that he has said far too much. Fuck. What the actual fuck was he thinking? He knows better. He needs to stop letting his guard down around Louis. Maybe not Louis so much anymore, but definitely Liam. A silence falls on the group, as Harry’s words sink in.

“I’ll go with you, man,” Liam says to Niall, after a few minutes. Harry lets out a sigh of relief, glad that no one commented on his slip. Stupid fucking slip up. He can feel his cheeks heating up at the thought of it, and begins tapping his forehead with two firm fingers, as punishment, his eyes closed. Fuck. Why is he so fucking stupid?

“Stop that.” He hears Louis’ raspy voice break into his self deprecating thoughts, barely above a whisper. He feels it when cool fingers wrap around his wrist, pulling his hand away from his head. He doesn't even try to protest, but he does bring his other hand to cover his now red face. He feels like such a fucking moron. Why did he say something like that? Now they know . Everyone in the school knows that Harry’s family is poor, but he never actually told anyone how poor, except for Niall. Niall is always the exception, and now Louis, and fucking Liam by association. Fuck.

“Babe, stop it.” Again, Louis’ other hand comes to wrap around Harry’s wrist, bringing both hands away from his face, stopping his own form of punishment. Harry still doesn’t look up, not wanting to meet Louis’ eyes. He hates that he lets his self confidence do this to him. He is usually better at faking it. Louis just... He makes him feel raw somehow. Not in a bad way. Just in a way that makes him want to open up and bare his soul, but he won’t. That would be bad. Just because a boy kissed him doesn’t mean Harry has to trust him or owes him anything.

“Look at me,” Louis says, voice soft. He can hear Liam and Niall discussing where they are going to go for their Halloween costumes, so they must not be paying any attention to their other two friends. Harry has a feeling that Niall is, but he is also working to distract Laim. What a good fucking friend.

Harry finally looks up when he feels Louis’ thumb stroking his wrist below the hem of his sleeve. He quickly pulls his hand away, not wanting Louis to feel any of his scars. Fuck. This morning is just shaping up to be fucking great. Brilliant really. Louis’ blue eyes are soft with concern, but almost studying him. Harry wants to look back down again, but doesn’t.

“Do you guys, like, not have any food?” Louis asks after a minute or so of just staring into each other’s eyes. Louis looks sad by the realization, the pity coating his features. Harry hates pity.

“Can we not do this right now?” Harry asks. When Louis looks disheartened by his words, Harry finds himself sighing and continuing. “I will tell you later, just not right now.” Harry glances around at his classmates, none of them really showing the least bit of interest in their conversation, but he doesn’t want to take any chances.

“Okay. Later,” Louis says with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I’m surprised you celebrate Halloween, with it supposedly being the devil’s holiday and all of that shit,” Harry jokes in an attempt to change the subject.

Louis looks at him curiously for a few seconds before he gets the look on his face that Harry has come to know very well. Louis is about to ask a question about religion. Harry eagerly leans forwards, barely suppressing the urge to rub his hands together in glee. He secretly loves it when Louis asks him questions. He rarely gets to use his vast knowledge of religion on the yocals, so it is a nice change of pace. Louis seems genuinely interested in what Harry has to say about it. He doesn’t always automatically call Harry a Satan worshiper like many others would. No. Instead he tries to argue back, then eventually concedes when Harry wins. Harry always wins. Since when did Harry become so fucking competitive? Louis must be rubbing off on him in more than one way. His cock twitches at the thought of what had occurred Saturday night, long gone are the feelings of embarrassment over the situation.

“Is it? Like the devil’s holiday, I mean. That’s what Mark always says, but my mom seems to think that there is nothing wrong with it.” Harry leans forward, closer to Louis as he asks the question, placing his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands between them. He isn’t really surprised by the question. He is actually kind of proud of Louis for phrasing it the way he did. Instead of it being accusatory or unbelieving, it was curious. Also, points to Louis’ mom for being somewhat sane.

“Not at all. Most of the Halloween traditions come from the Celts, who were Pagan, and their celebration of Samhain,” Harry tells him, smirking, and waiting for the next question. He likes to make Louis ask questions, instead of just giving him all the information at once. It helps him figure out how Louis is actually processing the information, and what he finds interesting.

“So, Samhain is just like Halloween?” Louis asks, brows furrowed in the cutest possible way. Fuck. Why is he so cute?

“Well, the Celts believed it was a time of year when the veil between the spiritual world and our world was lifted, allowing the spirits to haunt, so they would appease these spirits by giving them treats,” Harry informed, watching as Louis processes the information. His small hands are still clasping the seat in front of him, his body leaning closer to Harry’s as the words slip from his mouth.

“You said most. What are the others?” He finally asks, probably wondering if there was any mention of the devil.

“It has some elements of the ancient Roman celebration of Pomona which was a harvest feast. Bobbing for apples, for example, was a part of the celebration.” Louis nods his head as if he knows what Harry is talking about.

“So, how did Christianity get involved? Like why do so many think it is the Devil’s holiday?” Harry smiles at the question, expecting it. Sometimes when they have these conversations, he feels like he is playing chess. Attempting to get Louis to ask the right questions, and this time feels no different.

“Well, Christians did what they always do. They were having trouble forcing the Pagan Celts into believing in their religion and their one God. The Celts liked to party and have a good time, which Christianity didn’t allow for. They didn’t see the point in converting to a religion where there was no celebrations to be had, so they resisted. Christians decided to then adopt some of their traditions into their own, as a way to almost con them into converting. They would say ‘look, we do the same thing, but our God is better,’ not to mention killing anyone who resisted too much. It just so happened that November 1st is All Saints day, so they made Samhain into All Hallow’s Eve.” Harry watches Louis’ face as he gives him the information, almost seeing the cogs in his head turn processing everything. Harry almost starts telling him about how all christian holidays are stolen from other religions celebrations, but he decides to save that conversation for a different day. Baby steps.

“But none of that mentions the Devil or Satan or anything. Why do people think it is his holiday?” Louis asks, brows drawn in confusion again.

“Well, no one knows for sure, but it is most likely because we kept so many of the original traditions of Samhain. Roman Catholics believed that anyone who followed the Pagan religions, were a part of the occult and therefore worshiped the Devil among their other deities. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around worshiping other gods, therefore anyone that did was placed into the category of Devil Worshipper. It honestly doesn’t make sense, but very little in religion actually does.” Harry shrugs his shoulders, watching to see if Louis reacts to his last comment. Louis doesn’t, his gaze technically on Harry, but it is going through him in thought. Harry knows Louis has another question. He can tell by the crease between his brows, and how his bottom lip is protruding ever so slightly.

“Can I take you grocery shopping after school?” Louis ask finally, and Harry can’t stop the the look of shock that takes over his face. He was not expecting that.

 

__________

 

“You said your parents are really strict, how are you not going to get into trouble?” Harry asks walking with Louis through the halls and towards the parking lot of the school after the last bell has rung.

“The football coach cancelled practice today as a ‘good job on the homecoming win’. I didn’t tell my parents, figuring I could just hang out with Liam or something without them knowing.” Louis shrugs barely resisting the urge to reach for Harry’s hand as they walk through the school.

“Oh. Um-- if you’d rather hang out with Liam, then you can. You don’t have to change plans for me or anything,” Harry stumbles out. Louis looks around, then pulls Harry into the back stairway where they had their first kiss.

“Stop that,” he says as soon as they are in the quiet of the stairwell, away from prying eyes. A lot of the student’s avoid it, rumors of it being haunted by a dead cheerleader or some shit making people think it’s creepy. When Louis heard the story from Niall today, he thought it was bullshit, but it at least allowed he and Harry some privacy, therefore Louis is thankful to the fake dead cheerleader that haunts the stairwell. Fucking Halloween.

“Stop what?” Harry asks, but Louis can tell he knows exactly what.

“Stop acting like I would rather be with someone other than you. I honestly figured you would be working, so that’s why I didn’t ask you. I didn’t even think about the fact that Willow is working, so that means you are probably off. Anyways, that’s not the point. I want to hang out with you,” Louis tells him, with as much honesty in his tone as possible. He can tell by the look on Harry’s face he doesn't quite believe him, but he doesn't argue.

“Won’t someone see you hanging out with me and tell your parents?” Harry asks after a few moments.

“I’m not too worried about it, plus I brought this.” Louis then pulls a maroon beanie out from his pocket. Harry looks at it skeptically, watching as Louis puts it on. “Plus, if anyone says anything to them, I’ll just lie like I always do.”

“Okay. Whatever you say,” Harry says, rolling his eyes.

“I like the sound of that. May as well tack on a ‘dear’ to the end of the sentence,” Louis replies, smirking while Harry rolls his eyes.

“I’m just saying, I can do this by myself. I know it isn’t the best way to spend your day off.” Louis wants to smack him, but instead, decides to do what he always does when Harry is doubting him. Proving it to him with logic and actions.

“You don’t have a car, and you live at least ten blocks from the nearest grocery store. Let me do this babe.” When Harry looks down at him, he takes that as an opportunity to kiss him, knowing they are alone in the stairwell. The kiss is short and chaste, mostly to let Harry know that he is being sincere in his efforts.

“Fine,” Harry relents when Louis is back on his feet.

“Good, let’s go,” Louis says, wrapping his fingers around Harry’s forearm briefly as they begin walking towards the parking lot. When they get into the car, Louis tells Harry he can listen to whatever music he wants, and gives him his phone which is already connected to the bluetooth in the car. He doesn’t think he has anything on his spotify that Harry would actually listen to, since his parents monitor his spotify listening activity and only allow him to listen to country, bluegrass and gospel, so Harry will probably have to search for it. Before he even pulls out of the parking lot, the car is filled with a heavy guitar and drum rhythm. Louis finds he doesn't hate it, per se. It is just different than his normal kind of music. Harry doesn’t sing along or move much at all as they make their way towards the grocery store. Louis can feel the tension coming off of him in waves.

“Alright, what do you need?” Louis asks once they get into the grocery store and find a cart, well the people in the area call it a ‘buggy’ even though Louis has no fucking clue why. It isn’t pulled by a horse or a mule. A buggy is what Amish people use as a form of transportation, not something you put food in at the grocery store.

Louis watches with amused eyes as Harry pulls out a list, his mostly capital letter handwriting scrawled down the page. Louis didn’t take Harry for the type of person to create a list for grocery shopping, but he guesses he learns something new every day. Today it is that Halloween is based on Pagan traditions, mostly from a celebration called Samhain, and Harry Styles makes lists. Louis thinks the latter is more interesting, but he is probably the only person. It’s just that the boy is full of surprises, and Louis thinks he hasn’t even scratched the surface of Harry’s personality or secrets, which reminds Louis.

“Why do you need to go grocery shopping with your own money? Like what about your mom?” Louis asks the question as delicately as he can as they make their way over to the produce section. He tries to phrase it in a way where it doesn't sound like he is pitying the other boy. He has come to learn that Harry doesn’t much care for pity, so he has been trying to stay away from that route. He can feel Harry stiffen beside him, the tension returning to his body tenfold. Louis wants to reach out and rub his back, but refrains, knowing that would draw far too much attention. He is already playing with fire as it is.

“Um--” Louis thinks Harry is about to lie to him, so he gives Harry a pointed look. Harry sighs after a few moments. “She is a single mom and works two shitty jobs just to pay the bills and rent as it is. We don’t always have enough food between her paychecks.” Louis was kind of expecting that answer, but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear. Fuck. How many times has Harry been hungry around him? How many times did he come to school not knowing if he was going to eat when he got home? The thought shoots a pang through Louis’ chest, threatening to stop his heart. He tries to keep his facial expression neutral, knowing that if Harry thought he even felt a little sorry for him, he would never share anything about himself ever again. Louis can’t have that. He just, he suddenly has this fierce need to protect Harry. Louis, himself, has never known what it was like to be hungry. He always had food provided for him by Mark and his Mom. He can’t imagine what Harry goes through at least twice a month. How is that even fair? No one deserves to be hungry.

“She must really appreciate you helping her out then,” Louis says carefully, feeling as though he is stepping on thin ice, one wrong move will sink him.

“She doesn't really know I’m doing this. We don’t talk much,” Harry says, looking at avocados. Louis scrunches his nose at the chosen item, but lets the information roll around his head.

“Is that because she works so much?” Louis asks, trying to pry into Harry’s relationship with his mom while not outright asking about it. He is also curious about Harry’s father, but he isn’t even going to begin to broach that topic. Delicate balance it seems.

“Somewhat,” Harry answers, throwing a few of the disgusting green things into a bag and placing it into the cart. He knows he isn’t going to get anything else out of Harry about the subject right now, so he decides to change it.

“What are you going to be for Halloween?” Louis asks after a few moments, watching as Harry looks over the cereal selection with critical eyes. He will probably choose something boring and healthy. Something with oats or raisins. Who the fuck puts raisins in cereal? That doesn’t make any fucking sense. Louis almost exclaims ‘knew it’ when Harry puts box of generic honey and oats in the cart.

“Dunno,” Harry answers, pushing the cart. Louis is getting really tired of these one word answers. It is so much easier to get Harry to open up with pen and paper. He lets his guard down a bit more that way, but Louis is going to keep trying verbally. He will get through someday. Probably. He is surprised when Harry asks a question of his own. “What are you going to be?”

“That’s a surprise,” Louis teases, having thought of his costume in second period. He can’t wait to see the look on Harry’s face Halloween night. He is so busy hearing the evil laughter in his head that he almost misses the small smile Harry gives him as he throws a few boxes of cheap mac and cheese into the cart.

“Come on, Lou, tell me,” Harry whines after a few seconds, the idea of not knowing clearly gets to him. He has never heard Harry whine before, and even though Harry has used the nickname before, it does something to him. He almost tells Harry right then and there. Almost, but no. Louis hates surprises, but he loves surprising people. Pranking them too, but it is really the same thing if you really think about it. Right?

“Nope,” Louis says popping the ‘p’ and smirking. Harry pouts, and Louis isn’t ready for it. Holy shit. How can Harry go from scary goth kid to so fucking endearing in zero point two seconds flat is beyond Louis. Louis actually feels sorry for the world since they may never get to experience this Harry.

“Don’t pout,” Louis laughs, taking the bag of chips Harry hands him and placing them in the cart. It all feels very domestic, and Louis is kind of enjoying it. So much better than fucking football practice, that’s for damn sure.

“I don’t pout,” Harry says, looking adorably moody all of the sudden. Louis really wants to kiss him, but he can’t. That may be the most frustrating thing in the world, not being able to kiss someone in public simply because you are both of the same sex. It’s not fair really, but Louis is slowly learning that not many things in life are actually fair.

“You’re cute when you do. Hard to resist,” Louis responds, smiling at Harry. He likes flirting with Harry. It makes him kind of squirmy and adorable. As if he doesn't really know what to do. Louis wants to teach him. He wants to teach him a lot of things and it seems, after his little history lesson today in choir, Harry can also teach him a thing or two as well.  He already made a mental note to look up the origins of Halloween when he gets home. It’s not that he doesn't believe Harry, he would just like to know more. Everything Harry said is so interesting, and he wants to learn.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Harry says slowly, as if he isn’t sure if it is the right thing to say. He watches as a very light blush crawls up Harry’s cheeks before he turns his attention towards the milk, grabbing a gallon in one big hand. Louis has had so many dreams about those same hands, usually waking up hard. It only takes two tugs imagining it is Harry’s hand to get him off when that happens. If Louis is honest, which he rarely is with some people including himself, Harry has been the subject of his wanking material since the very first day of class. Kissing him has only added to that. He wonders if Harry jacks off to thoughts of him as well? The image makes Louis’ dick twitch in his jeans. Fuck. He needs to focus. He can’t get a hard on in the middle of a grocery store no matter how how nice the gentle movement of Harry’s hips are in front him. His long legs carrying him down the aisle, his ass swaying back and forth with his steps. Louis wants to walk up behind Harry and hold him around the waist as they both guide the cart be he can’t . Fuck.

They spend the next half hour wandering the isles of the grocery store, discussing the merits of Kettle cooked chips over regular, not even throwing Pringles into the mix. Pringles are apparently Niall’s favorite chip, who knew? Louis learns a bit more about Niall and Harry’s relationship. It turns out, they have been friends since they were in elementary school. Harry apparently had more friends until middle school, but then it was just Niall. He wouldn’t tell Louis why, and Louis didn’t want to push sensing that it may be a sensitive subject for Harry. Liam, to his surprise, went to a different elementary and middle school in town. Louis wasn’t aware of this, but there are apparently three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.  

“Thank you,” Harry tells the cashier as he pays. Louis decides to load the bags into the cart, keeping his head down incase the woman recognizes him. He doesn't know her, but that doesn't mean she wouldn’t know him. Perks of living in a small town. Well there is nothing perky about living in a small town. It’s all shit. They quickly load the groceries into Louis’ car then get in. Louis wordlessly hands Harry his phone, telling him that he can pick the music again. This time, Harry sings along to the songs as they drive. Louis doesn’t know the song, but he does enjoy Harry’s deep voice as it flows through the car. The music sounds angry, but from what he can make out of the lyrics, it is a love song. Hmm. He glances at Harry as he sings, smiling. Something about the moment feels perfect. A week ago, he would have never thought he would have Harry in his car, singing along to some metal song, but here they are. If his parents find out, and he is never allowed to leave his room again, it will be worth it, because Harry Styles is currently sitting beside him, in his car, singing and smiling. Perfect. Everything is perfect.

As they pull up in front of Harry’s house, Louis tries not to cringe at the chipping paint, the grime, or the broken shutter. It looks even worse in the light of day, the white banister somehow looking even more dingy than it did the other night. Louis’ stomach turns at the thought of Harry living in there. It may not be so bad on the inside, but if the outside is anything to go by, Louis isn’t so sure. Harry shoots him a nervous smile, fiddling with the door handle, as if he isn’t sure what to do now.

“Do you need some help taking the stuff inside?” Louis offers, knowing full well that Harry will answer in the negative. Harry probably isn’t ready to let him see the inside, yet. Baby steps.

“No, I got it, but thank you,” Harry says, finally meeting Louis’ eyes. Louis smiles at him, letting him know that it’s okay.

“Okay, if you’re sure,” Louis replies, putting his hand on Harry’s, enjoying the warmth under his fingers. Harry freezes for a second before he relaxes again. Someday, he may be able to touch Harry without him tensing up. Louis has found that Harry doesn't tense, as long as he sees it coming. It’s when he is surprised that he freezes.

“I actually think my mom’s home. I haven't seen her in a few days, so yeah,” Harry tells him, looking at the house. He hasn’t seen her in a few days? That has to be an exaggeration. How is that even possible? Louis wonders exactly how much time Harry spends alone in that house without food. A pang hits Louis’ chest again, along with an unbearable need to protect the boy he has found. Protect him with everything he’s got.

“Oh okay. Well text me, okay?” Louis asks, and Harry nods, his curls bouncing with the movement. Louis hadn’t realized, but Harry’s hair is beginning to get long. He makes a mental note to ask him if he is growing it out later, when they aren’t saying goodbye. Louis glances around, making sure the street is empty before he leans over the center console to kiss Harry. Harry’s lips are warm and soft under his own, like always. They feel perfect. After a few moments, Harry parts them, inviting Louis inside. Louis likes how much more confident Harry has gotten with kissing since their first one just a few days ago. Jesus. It feels like a lifetime ago at this point. Louis keeps the kiss slow and leisurely, not wanting to get too caught up in the moment.

“Thank you, for, you know, for the ride and helping me grocery shop. You made it less boring,” Harry says, breaking the kiss and looking into Louis’ eyes.

“Gee thanks. That is a lovely compliment, Harold,” Louis deadpans, smiling when Harry laughs and shoves him. Harry kisses him on the cheek then gets out of the car, grabbing all of the bags in both large hands, disappearing inside the house.

 

_____________

 

“Harry is that you?” Harry hears Anne’s voice as soon as he walks through the door. He quickly goes to the kitchen, the weight of the bags hurting his arms and hands.

“Yeah. It’s me,” Harry yells back, sitting the bags down and begins to go through them.

“What’s that?” He hears Anne say a few minutes later from behind him. He turns around to find her staring at him curiously, still wearing her uniform from the restaurant.

“Oh. I um-- I went grocery shopping,” Harry answers, gesturing towards all of the bags. He hates how awkward things have been between him and his mom for the last several years. He just doesn't know how to fix it. They used to be really close, him, her and Gemma. Their dad was there, but he never felt a bond with him like he did his mom. Things have changed since then, his dad leaving for starters. Harry has changed, and his mom just didn’t know how to deal with it. He doesn't blame her really. Why would she want a broken son? How could she love someone so defective?

“Where did you get the money to pay for all this? You better not be dealing drugs. Are you?” She asks, looking down at the assortment of groceries. Harry rolls his eyes to cover up the pain he almost lets show on his features. He knows he is a screw up, but he would never sell drugs or anything like that. It hurts him that it is his mom’s first thought.

“No. I got a job at the music store in town. I told you about it a few weeks ago,” Harry responds, a slight edge to his voice as he distracts himself by putting the cold things in the fridge. Smiling when he remembers the look on Louis’ face when he bought the avocados.

“Oh. I forgot,” she says, not even apologizing for the fact that she thought he was dealing fucking drugs. Harry rolls his eyes as he puts the cheese in the drawer. “How’s school?”

Harry doesn't want to answer, but he decides to go a head and answer anyway. It is the first time they have really spoken in weeks, the notes on the fridge not counting. “Going good. I am getting A’s in all of my classes.” He glances over at her. She is just sitting at the table, staring off into the distance. Harry isn’t even sure she is listening to him.

“That’s great, honey,” she replies, almost robotically.

“Um-- So how’s work been?” Harry asks when he realizes Anne has finished talking, wanting to fill the awkward silence that has settled over the room. Everything between them just feels so stilted. Harry hates it. It’s why he avoids her if he can. It is probably why she avoids him as well. He begins to put the dry food in the pantry, glancing over at her every few seconds to see if she answers.

“Busy,” Is all she says, making Harry want to scream. Getting more than a few words out of her is like trying to drop a penny into a jar from the top of the Empire State Building… damn near impossible.

“Well, if you need money for bills and stuff, I can help now,” Harry offers, smiling at her when she finally looks in his direction.

“Honey, I can’t take your money. Use it to buy something you want.” She returns his smile, with a small one of her own. It doesn't quite reach her eyes. She looks tired and like she has aged twenty years in the past five. It’s his fault. Everything is his fault. He is the reason why their relationship is so fucked up. He let people get to him. He trusted people. He should never have. If he hadn’t, then maybe his mom would still love him.

“But Mom I-- I want to,” Harry tells her, trying to get her to see that he just wants to help her so maybe she will be around more often. She probably doesn't want to be around though. Why would she want to be around her useless excuse for a son? All he does is cause her sadness, so he doesn't blame her for being gone all the time. It is only human to want to be away from the person bringing you down. He is like a sinking ship. Well he was, but maybe not so much the last few days. She doesn't need to know that though. He doesn’t need to add yet another thing to the never ending list of ways he disappoints her.

“We will talk about it later. I’m tired, so I am going to go to bed. I have to be up at three am.” She doesn’t even tell him good night as she gets up and walks out of the room without another word. He was going to protest, tell her that it isn’t even dark outside yet. Maybe even ask her if she wants to watch a movie, but it all dies on his tongue as she walks away without even sparing him a second glance. He almost texts Louis about it, but decides against it. Not wanting to open up that can of worms nor bother him with his shit. Instead, he just finishes putting away the groceries, then goes to his own room to do homework and write in his journal. Today had been such a good day, too.

Chapter Text

“image”

Don’t you see the way I look at you

I can see behind your eyes

Can’t you tell the way I reach for you

I wear my halo in disguise

I watch you burn

I can feel you

I watch as you turn

What did you do- In This Moment

 

“I don’t want them to go out Trick-or-Treating, Johannah, why must you argue with me about this?” Louis hears Mark yell from their bedroom, which is down stairs, next to the living room. Louis was just walking into the kitchen, minding his own business, when he heard them arguing. He decides to stop and listen in, wondering how his mom is going to respond.

“For God’s sake Mark, it is just a bit of fun,” she responds, voice muffled since she isn’t yelling like her husband.

“Don’t use His name in vain. What has gotten into you? First you want our kids to celebrate the Devil’s holiday, and now you are using God’s name in vain,” Mark yells, and Louis can almost see him pointing at his mother threateningly. Louis rolls his eyes, mind flashing back to the conversation with Harry two weeks ago in Choir class. Since then, he has done a bit of his own research finding that Harry was correct, not that he doubted him. Harry hasn’t lied to him about facts yet, and he didn’t expect him to start. That seems to be his parents M.O.  Halloween literally has nothing to do with the devil, and Louis kind of wants to burst into their room and tell Mark exactly that. Christians stole their traditions. Louis briefly wonders what else they have stolen, but quickly pushes that thought away, not ready to go there yet.

“Mark, why do we have to have this argument every year? It is harmless fun. They are going to dress up in costumes and go around to the neighbors houses to get candy. Lottie and Fizzy are even going with us. Calm down. It’s not the end of the world, and the devil isn’t going to the possess them for going,” his mom reasons, voice still steady despite the fact that Louis knows she is getting irritated. Louis almost cheers at his mom’s logic. She is correct, celebrating a holiday doesn't mean you are a Satanist. There is nothing inherently wrong with Halloween. In fact, a lot of the traditions are quite fascinating to Louis. He spent an hour and half the other night reading about Samhain, even though it took him a good few minutes to find it since it is spelled oddly and nothing like how it is actually pronounced. He almost texted Harry to ask how to spell it, but didn’t want the other boy to think he didn’t believe him.

Harry had actually been texting him more since their trip to the grocery store. Nothing too deep and meaningful, mostly just little things about his day. Yesterday, he sent Louis a picture of mac and cheese. Louis was confused for a moment before he remembered that Harry had bought some boxes while they were shopping, so he figured that was why. He feels like he is finally getting Harry to open up a bit. He hopes that Harry doesn't feel so lonely anymore, even though he would have never admitted to being lonely to begin with. Louis wants to make sure he knows that even if he can’t always physically be with him, he is just a text message away.

“Fine, but when they start practicing witchcraft and worshipping the Devil, the blame will be squarely on your shoulders,” Mark says, after a few moments. Louis can hear his breathing is heavy in his anger. Louis rolls his eyes again at yet another ignorant comment spewing from Mark’s mouth. It shocks him though, that just a few months ago, he may have somewhat agreed with Mark. He wouldn’t have taken it so far as to believe that people who celebrate Halloween were Satan worshipers, but he probably would have agreed that it could lead someone to witchcraft if they went in deep enough. He didn’t realize how much Harry has taught him and actually changed his way of thinking until that very moment, and he is strangely okay with it. It never felt forced. Harry always told him the facts then let him make up his own mind, which is very different than Mark and his mom.

“Stop being so dramatic,” Jay responds, and Louis can hear her rolling her eyes at her husband. He is a lot like his mom, after all. He hears footsteps coming to the door, so he runs into the kitchen, preparing himself for the lie he has decided on. He arranges his expression into one of exhaustion and pain, having done this before.

“Oh, Lou. I didn’t know you were in here. Are you okay, love?” She asks, facial features morphing into that of concern for her son. If Louis wasn’t acting as though he was in pain, then he would smile.

“I have a bit of a migraine. I came down to get something to drink, so I could take some meds and maybe go to bed early,” Louis tells her, squinting his eyes a bit as if the light is bothering him.

“Oh, Boobear.” His mom rushes over to him, placing her hand on his forehead, and looking him in the eyes. She is a nurse, so she is hard to fool. However, he is usually able to get away with it, especially if he wasn’t trying to get out of school or something. “You don’t feel warm.”

“Yeah, I think it’s just a migraine.”

“Oh, you need to drink lots of water. You may be dehydrated, and you have been stressing yourself out over your physics homework. I think you need rest, so go upstairs, drink some water, take some meds, and call it an early night,” she tells him, eyes full of concern. Louis almost feels bad, then he remembers what is waiting for him at the party, so he doesn’t anymore.

“Yeah, that’s my plan.” Louis smiles at her, wincing in fake pain. He really should get a fucking Oscar. She walks over to the fridge and gets him a bottle of water, thrusting it in his hands.

“Lottie, Fizzy, and I are taking the twins trick-or-treating. Mark will be here with you if you need anything,” she tells him, smiling kindly. Mark is pretty easy to get around. He usually waits until Mark has passed out on the couch snoring softly with Fox News playing on the television in front of him, then sneaks out. When they first moved in, he purposefully picked the room with the tree outside of the window for a reason, thinking he could just climb down the tree. This isn’t his first time sneaking out, and it probably won’t be his last.

 

__________

 

“Is Louis here, yet?” Harry asks, glancing around at the people in the small living room of Josh Devine’s house, not spotting Louis’ chestnut hair among the crowd. He is antsy, feeling as though his skin is too tight. He should have never agreed to this, but Louis and his stupid face can make him agree to just about anything. Which is a fucking problem, if you ask Harry.

“Relax, Haz. He literally just texted you and said he was on his way. He did have to sneak out after all,” Niall reasons, looking ridiculous in a red Netflix shirt holding a bucket with fake ice in it that says ‘Chill’ in blue letters, with fake snow on top. Niall’s blue eyes glance around the small space, smiling and waving when he catches sight of Liam. Liam, dressed as Batman, walks up to them, holding a red solo cup full of what Harry can only assume is some kind of liquor concoction. He never took Liam to be the type for underaged drinking, but Harry is starting to learn not to judge a book by it’s cover. Maybe Harry really has been a hypocrite all along. He barely listens as Liam and Niall discuss some random movie that is apparently coming out soon, too focused on appearing as if he belongs there. He hasn’t gained attention from many of his fellow classmates. Most of them seem pretty drunk already though, so that isn’t exactly a feat.

Harry jumps when he feels a small warm hand resting on his lower back. He turns around to find Louis, of course. He loves to scare him for whatever reason. Louis is just smirking at him, with a wicked glint in his eye. Harry realizes why when he takes in Louis’ costume, eyes roaming up and down Louis’ form. Louis is wearing a white shirt and white pants. This in and of itself isn’t what makes the costume though. Perched on Louis lithe shoulders are white angel wings, his head adorned with a fake halo. Louis came to the Halloween party as a fucking angel. Of course he did. Why the fuck not? He loves fucking with Harry, and what better way than coming dressed as an angel. An angel that Harry very much wants to defile and be the reason he fell from grace.

“Where’s your costume?” Louis asks, voice snapping Harry out of all the ways he would convince the angel in front of him to apostatize from faith. He has already been convincing Louis to do that, so how much more difficult could the angel version be? Louis is smirking at him again, as if he knows Harry’s thoughts which… hopefully not.

“I’m wearing a costume,” Harry responds with a smirk of his own.

“You’re wearing what you always wear,” Louis points out, gesturing to Harry’s chosen clothes, a black shirt and black jeans.

“I’m a witch.” Harry shrugs his shoulders, trying to stop the small smile threatening to bloom on his face. Louis crosses his arms, looking unconvinced, and it is pretty adorable if Harry does say so himself.

“Where’s your hat and broom? What about a wart or something?” Louis asks, looking offended at the mere idea of Harry being a witch. Harry very much wants to laugh, but schools his expression. He knew that would be Louis’ response. Harry is pretty good at calculating people’s next moves if he knows them well enough. As much as it pains him to admit it, he is beginning to know Louis very well.

“That’s stereotyping, Louis,” Harry scolds, placing a palm on his chest as if Louis actually hurt him. He can be dramatic if the occasion calls for it, and fucking with Louis is definitely a time that calls for it. “Witchcraft is still practiced today, and they look like everyone else.” May as well add some education to the mix, for good measure.

Louis looks like he is mulling over the information. Harry knows that look so well, he has considered having it tattooed to the back of his eyelids. He may well, he will never forget it because it may be his favorite Louis look. After a few moments, Louis cracks a smile and says, “Look at us. An angel and a witch. I feel like that may be the beginning of some really bad porno.”

Harry is so taken aback by the joke, he can’t help the sound he releases from his mouth. It is nothing short of embarrassing being somewhere between a laugh a squawk, loud and honking. He slaps his hand over his mouth to stop it, saving himself further embarrassment. He can feel his cheeks heat with it, the now familiar feeling working it’s way through his entire system. He glances up to find Louis smirking, a fond look on his face.

“What happened?” Liam cuts in, his eyes darting between the two boys.

“I made him laugh,” Louis responds, smug smile firmly in place. Harry kind of wants to punch him and maybe kiss him. He can decide later, but for now he lowers his hands and nods. Liam looks somewhat amused by it, and Niall is all out laughing. Bastards. Harry needs new friends. Wait. What the fuck? When did he start counting Liam among his friends? No. Nope. No, that will not happen.

“I’m gonna go and get us some drinks. Need a refill?” Niall asks, looking down at Liam’s almost empty cup. Harry watches as Liam hands Niall the cup, then drops his gaze back down to the floor. “Wanna come with me, Lou?” Harry’s head snaps to Niall, shaking it minutely, glancing over at Liam. Niall can’t leave him alone with Liam. What the fuck were they even supposed to talk about? They literally have nothing in common. Can’t Niall and Liam go get drinks, leaving Louis and Harry to talk? Well, if Harry is honest, there is a halfway decent chance the boys would come back to find them missing, but that isn't the point. The point is: Niall can’t possibly leave him alone with Liam.

“Yeah, fine by me,” Louis responds, maneuvering his body around Harry’s, his hand resting on Harry’s waist as his crotch presses into Harry’s ass, sending a spark of arousal through his system. Louis smirks at him, knowing what he did while Niall smirks for leaving Harry alone with Liam. He wants to strangle both of them but doesn’t have a chance since they disappear into the crowd. He looks back at Liam, awkward silence falling between them. They both look away, attempting to find something, anything to distract them from the awkward silence. Harry spots a tattoo on the arm of one of his classmates. It’s a stupid fucking tribal tattoo, the dark design circling his bicep. Harry hates those types of tattoos; he always held the belief that tattoos should mean something or at the very least be punny.

“So-- umm--- do you want to get a tattoo?” Liam asks, dark eyes staring in a similar spot that Harry was looking at moments before. Harry is confused by the question, but then follows Liam’s gaze, eyes landing back on their classmate with the terrible tattoo.

“Oh yeah-- um-- I am actually saving up for one now,” Harry responds, giving himself a mental pat on the back for being a socially acceptable human being and responding to questions he is asked for once. Louis would be so proud.

“Oh cool! I can’t wait to get to college and get my own job so I can get a tattoo. My parents are going to murder me, but I have always wanted one, so they can fucking get over it,” Liam exclaims, face lighting up with the admission, and what? Liam wants a tattoo? Good little church boy Liam actually wants a tattoo and is going to defy his parents to get one. He has to be lying to him, but why would he lie about something so trivial? Harry had just never taken Liam for someone who would want a tattoo, then again, he is also learning quite a bit about the different facets of Liam’s personality. That thought both intrigues and frightens him. He takes a deep breath, determined to keep talking for the sake of Louis. Since when did he do something for someone else? Fucking now, apparently.

“Oh-- umm-- what kind of tattoo do you want as your first?” He asks, genuinely interested. He is also attempting to keep the conversation moving as a way to prove to both Louis and Niall that he can play nice.

“I’m not sure, yet. I have loads planned, but I want my first to be special to me, you know?” Harry does know. He has had the same exact thought thousands of times, and he is glad that Liam agrees with the sentiment. “Save the random tattoos for later, when you already have a few on your body,” Liam continues. “I was thinking some kind of scroll right here, I just don’t know what I want it to say yet.” Liam then holds up his arm and points to his forearm, running a finger along the spot where the muscle meets the bone under the stretchy fabric of his costume.

“Oh yeah. I’ve heard that’s not a too painful place. Not like the back of the hand or knee or something,” Harry says, looking at the indicated spot, trying to imagine the other man with a tattoo. It just seems like a foreign concept to Harry, but Liam seems pretty set on getting one. If he isn’t lying, that is.

“What do you want? As a tattoo, I mean,” Liam clarifies dropping his arm back down to his side, looking at Harry with another small smile. Harry gets the feeling that Liam honestly wants to know. He wants to know something about Harry, and that is just strange to him. Harry isn’t used to people paying him any type of attention unless it is negative. First Louis and now Liam. He knows Louis wanted in his pants, but Liam? What’s his motive?

“Umm-- I haven’t decided, yet. I agree with you; I think your first tattoo should be special. You can’t just get anything. It has to mean something. I have a lot planned, but I think I want the first one to be on my arm, but I don’t know exactly what I want. I think it will eventually become a part of a sleeve. I just don’t want the sleeve to mold seamlessly together; I would prefer it to be just random items that mean something to me,” Harry tells him, gripping his left bicep. He has thought about it a lot, but it is hard for him to settle on one idea for his first when he has so many. He knows his first one will be smallish, since he probably won’t be able to afford a bigger one right away. Liam nods like he understands what he is talking about, and Harry realizes this is the most he has ever spoken to Liam. It should feel weird, but it doesn’t. Louis has told him multiple times that Liam is kind hearted and can be trusted, even going as far as to tell him that Liam stuck up for Harry at their church once. Harry was shocked by the information, his mind immediately thinking Louis was lying to him. He really needs to get a grip on that and give Louis a little bit of trust, though.

“Are you boys getting along?” Louis’ voice interrupts both his thoughts and the conversation, appearing beside Harry holding two solo cups. He hands one to Harry, their fingers brushing with the exchange. A spark of electricity goes up Harry’s spine from the simple touch. It is ridiculous really, but everything about their relationship seems a little ridiculous.

“Yeah. We were just talking about tattoos,” Harry responds, gesturing towards Liam with a small smirk on his face. Louis doesn’t even try to hide the distaste that takes over his features. Harry just chuckles a bit, knowing he can bring Louis around to liking tattoos. Maybe never getting one of his own, but at least being okay with them on other people.

“They’re cool, just don’t want one for myself. I’m fine with whatever floats your boat,” Niall interjects, handing Liam a cup and rocking on his tiptoes then back onto his heels, smiling at them, his braces gleaming in the light. Harry knows how much Niall hates his braces, excited to get them off over the summer before they go to college.

“Where’s Willow?” Liam asks, looking around. Harry freezes. He had almost forgotten Liam thought that Louis and Willow were really dating, that they were really a couple.

“Oh, her parents are strict like mine, but she didn’t feel comfortable sneaking out,” Louis provides, wrapping both small hands around his cup, puckering his lips, and taking a small sip as he looks through his long eyelashes at Harry. The whole thing shouldn’t be both sexy and obscene, but it is. Harry hates him.

“Makes sense,” Liam shrugs. Harry releases a pent up breath he didn’t realize he had been holding. Louis looks happy that Liam bought his lie. Harry very much doubts Louis even told Willow about the party, probably not wanting to complicate things more. Harry still feels a bit of jealousy when he sees them together, wishing he could openly be with Louis. He knows, logically, that he shouldn’t be jealous. Everything Louis and Willow have is fake, no feelings involved whatsoever. Just a means to an easier life for both of them. It is what it is, but that still doesn’t make it hurt less. Harry takes a big drink from his cup at the thought, relishing in the feeling of the liquor mixture burning his throat on the way down his esophagus.

 

___________

 

“I think I’m drunk,” Louis slurs out, really concentrating on getting the words from his brain to his mouth, then out into the open for everyone to hear. Well for Harry to hear mostly, since he has no fucking idea where Liam and Niall have wandered off to. To him, though, Harry is everyone. Louis may or may not be just a tad sappy and way too touchy when he is drinking. Thankfully, everyone else at the party seems to be in an equal state, so no one seems to be paying them a lick of attention. A lick? Fuck. Since when did he start using ‘a lick’ as a form of measurement? Is he turning into one of these redneck hillbillies? He needs to stop spending so much time with Niall before he starts using crazy fucking phrases that he is still unsure what most of them mean and drinking moonshine. At that thought, he looks down at his cup, watching the liquid inside sway with his own movements. He just didn’t realize he was swaying until that very moment.

“Is there moonshine in my cup? Is it turning me into a redneck?” Louis asks, letting the thoughts in his head out into the air. He holds his cup up to Harry, accusingly, his mouth forming a pout. That has to be it. It’s the only logical explanation. There is some kind of magical moonshine concoction in his cup that is turning him into Niall. He will be barefoot and playing the banjo before the night is over at this rate.

“I don’t think it works that way, love,” Harry responds with a laugh, letting the term of endearment slip from his red lips like honey. His eyes are glassy from his own alcohol consumption, letting his guard down more and more as the night progresses. He is so pretty. Louis doesn't know exactly why Harry is laughing. It is a legitimate concern, but he also doesn’t care since his favorite feature of Harry’s is on full display. His fucking dimples. Each time Louis gets a glimpse of one, he feels special somehow because Harry doesn’t smile very often. When he sees them, he feels like he is privy to a special moment, inducted into an exclusive club of some sort. A club that allows Louis to bask in the loveliness that is Harry, and Harry’s fucking dimples.

“You’re so pretty,” Louis voices, completely forgetting about his morphing into a redneck crisis, opting instead to poke Harry’s left dimple with an unsteady hand. Well he has to try twice to get it, but he thinks it is a job well done, considering his current state of inebriation. Louis is just happy he didn’t accidentally poke his eye out, which would be a shame considering Harry has such lovely eyes. Louis decides though, Harry would still be pretty regardless of eye count.

“Thank you.” The redness on Harry’s cheek deepens to match the same color of his lips with the compliment. He looks down for a few moments, then looks back up, locking eyes with Louis. Louis finds himself holding his breath for some reason, waiting to know what Harry is about to say. “You’re beautiful as well.” His voice is low and gravelly, the words washing over Louis like a warm summer rain, making his insides turn to mush.

“It’s hot in here. I’m sweating like a whore in church.” Niall’s boisterous voice shatters their bubble, making reality swoop in and hit Louis square in the chest. A whore in church? Where the fuck does he come up with this shit? Well, Louis supposes a whore would sweat in church, probably because he or she is nervous about being judged. Louis, himself, has begun to feel sweaty in church. He looks over at Niall, who also seems to be on the happy side of drunk, and blinks at him amusedly. Harry just said he is beautiful, and Niall ruined the moment. Louis could slap him, but he is pretty sure his balance wouldn’t hold up, therefore he settles for a glare. “Did I interrupt somethin’?” Niall asks, blue eyes darting between Harry and Louis in question as he pulls his red shirt from his skin dropping it back down over and over again, attempting to cool it off.

“Fuck off,” Harry responds, but there isn’t much venom in his tone. There hardly ever is with Niall, Louis has found. Louis suddenly realizes he and Harry are standing far too close to one another to be considered friendly. He goes to move away, but Harry’s arms comes around his waist, tightening quickly and stopping him in his tracks. He looks up at the other man, who just smiles down at him. What the fuck? He figured Harry would want to hide the nature of their relationship in front of his friend, but it seems like Harry is just pulling him closer. Has to be the alcohol.

“Why? Wanna give your boy here mouth to south resuscitation?” Niall asks, gesturing towards Louis and bobbing his eyebrows up and down. Mouth to what? Hold on… is Niall referring to a blowjob? No way. He can’t know. How does he know? Maybe Louis is imagining things, but then Niall puts his loose fist up to his mouth, and pokes his tongue into his cheek, making it protrude. Louis can feel the panic rise in his chest, taking hold of his heart. Niall knows. What if he tells Louis’ parents? What if he tells Mark? Louis will surely be murdered or exiled from his own family. He will never see his mom or sisters again. Shit. This can’t be happening. Louis can feel the tears start to form in his eyes as he begins to push hard against Harry’s firm chest, wanting to get out of Harry’s grasp and away from Niall.

“Shh, baby. It’s okay,” Harry soothes holding him tighter, his green eyes soft with concern, confusion appearing in his dark brows. Louis feels like he can’t breath though. How is this okay? How is him not seeing his family ever again okay? Louis’ drunken brain can’t fathom this.

“He knows?” Louis finally chokes out, eyes glistening with tears as he glances to Niall who looks a bit panicked and very concerned.

“Yeah, but you can trust me. I swear, I won’t tell no one. I have known about Harry’s preference for years and never told a soul,” Niall says, voice soft and gentle, both hands held out in a calming gesture. Louis’ head is spinning with the new information. Niall knows, but Harry trusts him. Harry doesn’t trust anyone, so Louis supposes he can trust him as well. With this thought, he feels like he is finally able to take air into his lungs again, breathing pattern becoming somewhat regular. He also feels decidedly more sober than before, which is a fucking shame.

“You told him?” Louis asks, looking up into Harry’s eyes. He isn’t angry, more so curious at this point. He is just so surprised that someone knows Harry’s sexuality. It just solidifies Louis’ belief that Niall has some kind of magical powers. That his new title is now ‘The Harry Whisperer’, and he should have a laurel leaf crown with ebony gems perched on his blond head.

“Yeah. I mean, kind of. He knew everything leading up to it, so he kind of figured it out once we started talking again.” Harry’s words stumbled from his mouth quickly, well quickly for Harry, as honest green eyes stare into Louis’ soul. One hand is gripping Louis hip while the other is rubbing soothing circles on his lower back, like he looks scared as if the idea of Louis being mad at him is terrifying. Louis doesn't think as he gets on his tiptoes and plants a soft kiss on Harry’s lips. When his heels hit the floor again, unsteadily he may add, Harry is beaming at him, dimples back with a fucking vengeance. Louis’ eyes widen when he realizes what he just did in a room full of people. He begins looking around, making sure no one was looking at them.

“Relax, no one saw. I was blocking you from most people, plus Josh is dong a keg stand, so everyone is chanting him on,” Niall informs, thumb gesturing over his shoulder where Louis can see their classmate, in fact, attempting to do a keg stand. It feels like the volume control of the party is turned on full blast, the sound of the crowd filling his ears. He was so wrapped up in Harry, he didn’t even realize what the hell was going on around them.

“Thanks,” Louis responds dumbly.

“I’m gonna go find Liam. You two have fun,” Niall says with a wink then he is gone, disappearing into the crowd like some kind of magician sans smoke. Louis shakes his head, attempting to stop thinking about Niall and his magical powers. What is it with him and magic when he is drunk? It’s like he just watched Harry Potter or something. Well he has never watched it because he isn’t allowed, but they do magic in that movie right? That’s the whole reason he isn’t allowed to watch it. Louis suddenly remembers something Niall said, an idea popping into his head. A light bulb may have actually appeared in the middle of his fake halo for all he knew. He just needs to get Harry alone.

“Bathroom,” Louis mumbles into Harry’s ear, dick twitching at the thought of what he is about to do, as he grabs Harry’s  hand and pulls him along. Louis looks around to make sure no one is watch them, and he pulls the other boy up the stairs.

 

__________

 

Harry is very confused as he follows Louis up the stairs of the strange house. His muddled brain can’t for the life of him figure out what they are doing, but he doesn't question it, for once, instead following Louis through the darkened hallway upstairs. Louis pauses for a moment, peering around as if he is looking for something. He smiles when he apparently finds it, then pulls Harry into a room.

“Where are we?” Harry asks just as Louis flips a switch bathing the room in artificial light. Harry looks around to find that they are standing in a bathroom. Louis shuts the door quietly, locking it, then turns towards Harry with a wicked glint in his eye. Funny, considering Louis is still dressed as an angel. Louis doesn’t answer, just walks up to Harry, hips swaying as he smiles. Harry’s barely functioning motor skills, and that's on a sober day, scarcely have time to react when Louis launches himself into Harry arms, lips landing on his. There is no pretenses of chastity, it goes straight to tongue, teeth, and spit. Harry grabs Louis’ ass as his head spins, feeling as though it is the only thing keeping him on earth at the present moment. Louis moans into his mouth, which isn’t helping matters.

“Please,” Louis whimpers after a few moments of making out and grinding. Fuck. Harry doesn't know what Louis is asking for. He doesn’t know what to do, and yet again, he is feeling out of his league with Louis. As if Louis senses his inner turmoil, he takes Harry’s hand and guides it to his crotch, putting it directly over the bulge and squeezing. Harry’s eyes widen for a split second feeling the outline of Louis fat cock just below his palm, the stupid fucking layer of fabric separating their skin. Harry has never been so mad at an item of clothing in his life.  

“Want your hand,” Louis moans into his mouth, when Harry doesn’t move. The idea of touching Louis’ cock has Harry’s own becoming impossibly hard. He bites his lip, concentrating on not coming in his pants again. He can do that, right? Fuck. He isn’t so sure when he takes in Louis’ expression, eyes blown wide and glassy. With shaking fingers, Harry unbuttons and unzips Louis’ white pants, looking down to see what he is doing. He has never done this before. He knows he is fumbling, but he wants to make it good. Louis looks down as well, then looks back up to meet Harry’s eyes, reaching his own hand between them. Harry almost chokes when he looks back down again to find Louis has freed his hard cock, gripping it in one tiny hand. Harry closes his eyes for a second, trying to stave off his quickly approaching orgasm. He opens them back up, and fuck. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. Louis’ cock is so pretty and thick, a blue vein making a path from the base to the head, a path Harry wants to follow with his tongue.

“Like you do it to yourself,” Louis supplies, taking Harry’s hand in his own and guiding it to his cock. Harry hisses out a breath when his hand makes contact with the soft, warm skin, the heaviness feeling perfect in his palm. Louis then grabs Harry’s wrist, guiding it up and down twice, before he lets Harry take over, moaning as Harry becomes more confident with it, finding his own rhythm.

“Fuck, Harry. That feels so good,” Louis says, brokenly, eyes closed. Holy shit. Harry may actually make him come. This can’t be real. As a way to authenticate the moment, Harry uses his free hand to grab Louis hip, pulling him closer. He picks up speed as he bends down, capturing Louis lips in a wet kiss. It takes Louis 1.3 seconds to begin kissing back, small hands coming up to tangle in Harry’s hair as he moans with abandon.

“Oh, God, Harry. Shit. I’m so close. Please, keep going,” Louis says, breaking their kiss with a wet pop, his words going straight to Harry’s neglected cock. Don’t come. Don’t come. Don’t come. Harry chants the words, hoping that they will stick, and he won’t make a fool of himself yet again. He wants to get Louis off this time. He stays quiet as he continues to work Louis’ cock faster and faster, not really knowing what to say. Feeling like if he says anything, he would just ruin the moment, and it would sound cheesy.

“Watch.” Louis moans the word, gripping Harry’s hair to pull his gaze down. Harry watches with wide eyes as his own large hands strokes Louis’ hard cock, the head red and angry looking. “Oh fuck. You’re gonna make me come. Please, Harry. Shit. Please. Please. Please,” Louis begs, and Harry isn’t sure which he would prefer looking at, Louis face or his cock as he comes. He decides to let his eyes dart between them, like some kind of rogue tortoise shell in Mario Kart. Louis’ mouth opens in a silent cry, then Harry feels the come on his hand, looking down quickly to find Louis’ cock releasing spurt after spurt of the milky white substance. He looks back up to see Louis’ blissful expression, mouth slightly open, eyes closed, long eyelashes brushing the freckles that dust his cheeks. Everything about it is beautiful and breathtaking.

After Louis is finished, Harry has an overwhelming desire to taste Louis’ release currently coating his hand, so he does. He bring his fingers to his mouth and begins sucking on each digit. He has never tasted come before, but he finds he doesn’t mind the salty taste. When he starts licking it off his hand, his eyes find Louis’ who looks shocked and still a bit turned on. Without uttering a word, Louis drops to his knees in front of him, his fake wings fluttering with the movement. Holy shit. This can’t be happening. Harry isn’t going to last.

“What are you doing?” Harry asks, his voice sounding foreign even to his own ears. He thinks he is going to experience his first ever blow job, and his cock is not displeased with this realization. He has been picturing Louis’ firm pink lips wrapped around his cock for the better part of three months now. He may be finally getting to experience it. This has to be a dream. He has to be dreaming. Louis Tomlinson dressed as a fucking angel is on his knees in front of him, looking up at him with large blue eyes. Eyes the same color as the heavens. Maybe he is an angel. Harry is too drunk to make a list of the evidence right now, and his cock has other plans.  

“Well, not praying if that’s what you’re asking.” Louis smirks at him, as he watches Louis’ small nimble fingers go to the fly of his jeans in a silent question. All Harry can do is nod his head vigorously. He should be shaking it because he will surely embarrass himself, but his cock is too hard, and the alcohol is making him slightly less concerned about that. Louis takes it as a yes, undoes Harry’s jeans, pulling the tight material down to his knees, his cock springing free. Louis studies it for a moment, and Harry wants to squirm under his gaze. He knows he isn’t small, he has watched enough porn to know that, but what if Louis hates it? What if he finds Harry’s cock ugly or grotesque? Harry doesn’t get a moment to contemplate that thought because Louis licks the head, and it feels like worlds colliding. Harry bites his lip again, telling his body not to come even though he knows he is dangerously close.

“This will at least get you something of substance,” Harry jokes because he can’t let Louis have the upper hand when it comes to religious jokes. He is still shocked Louis even said it, but stranger things have happened.

“That’s the plan,” Louis responds, eyes coming back to land on Harry’s hard cock. He licks his lips in anticipation. Like he can’t wait to have it in his mouth. Harry almost moans at the scene, but somehow suppresses it. He needs to play it cool, unlike last time. He doesn't need another repeat of that.

“I’m not gonna last long,” Harry warns, cheeks heating with embarrassment. He hates this about himself. His stamina is shit, but he is also a virgin, so it’s expected. He knows that logically, but right now, it seems stupid and annoying. Louis probably doesn't want to waste his time with someone who comes in mere minutes.

“That’s fine, love. I don’t want you to,” Louis tells him, taking Harry’s length in his hand and kissing the tip. He then swirls his tongue around the head, pressing hard against the silt, Harry barely stopping himself from bucking into the sensation. Louis looks up at him again as he slowly closes his mouth around the head, sucking lightly, and holy shit. It feels so good. His mouth his hot and wet, making his body feel as though it is on fire. When Louis begins taking more of his cock into his mouth, sucking harder, Harry can’t help himself. He uses Louis’ fake halo to push himself deeper, hitting the back of Louis’ throat. If this is what defiling an angel is like, then he needs more to fall from grace. Or he just needs Louis to continue his own fall.

Louis uses one hand to grip what he can’t reach with his mouth, bobbing his hand with same rhythm as his head, sucking hard. If Harry has a soul, he is sure Louis has sucked it out already, and he is fine with it. Giving Louis his soul seems like a fine idea when Louis is on his knees before him. He never thought he would be much of a talker when it came to this stuff, but he finds himself muttering curse words to the rhythm of Louis’ head. He is teetering on the edge, so he really needs to warn Louis. Louis probably doesn’t want his come in his mouth. It was probably gross to him when Harry licked Louis’ come off his hand.

“Fuck, baby. I’m so close. Pull off. Shit,” Harry almost yells, gripping Louis’ fake halo hard and pulling. Instead of Louis’ mouth leaving his cock, the halo is ripped from Louis’ head. It’s symbolic really, if Harry cared to think about it, but right now, all he can think about is coming. He drops Louis’ halo, and holds his cheek in his hand, feeling where his cock is inside of Louis’ hot mouth. That’s all it takes. “Fuck. Holy fucking shit,” Harry exclaims as he comes hard down Louis’ throat, entire body tingling with the release. His limbs feel heavy and numb, as if Louis has sucked all of his energy out along with his soul, as he sags back, leaning against the sink.

“I think I ruined your halo,” Harry says with a smirk after a few moments, helping Louis to his feet. He still can’t believe what just happened. His brain is trying to process everything but to no avail. He makes a promise to himself to return the favor to Louis soon, despite his insecurity and lack of experience. He wants Louis to feel the way he just felt.

“That’s fine. I don’t really need it anyways,” Louis responds, and Harry thinks the comment may have a double meaning but his brain is too drunk and fucked out to contemplate it. Maybe tomorrow.

Chapter Text

“image”

My head is haunting me and my heart feels like a ghost

I need to feel something, 'cause I'm still so far from home

Cross your heart and hope to die

Promise me you'll never leave my side- Bring me the Horizon

 

“Haz! Harry! Over here!” Harry hears the very boisterous voice of his best friend exclaiming somewhere to his right. When his gaze travels in the direction of the voice calling him, he quickly spots Niall’s bright blonde hair as he waves both hands to get Harry’s attention. Harry sends him a small wave as he makes his way towards the other boy, muttering ‘excuses mes’ and ‘sorrys’ as he steps over others sitting in their spots on the bleachers. He has no idea why he agreed to this. Oh yes he does, because fucking Louis Tomlinson asked him to, and Harry has found that when Louis pouts his sexy firm lips out, Louis can get Harry to agree to just about anything. Including, but not limited to, going to yet another fucking football game.

“Hey,” Harry greets, dropping down onto the bleacher next to Niall. He hates how cramped everything is. He has never done all that well with crowds, but now here he is, nut to butt with random people to watch his… well, Louis, play in a fucking football game.

“I didn’t think you’d actually come. You must have it bad,” Niall remarks, taking a huge bite of his chili cheese dog, the yellow substance dripping onto his fingers.

“Fuck off,” Harry says, a little too loudly causing a mother two rows down to dramatically cover her son’s ears and glare at him. He just rolls his eyes because the kid is going to hear much worse than that during the course of his lifetime. Probably already has. People can’t shield their children from the world forever. It’s pathetic really. He has the urge to keep cursing just to piss the PTA bitch off even more. Maybe he will.

Harry lets his eyes travel to the field, looking for the short player with the perfect ass that he would recognize with his eyes closed. He has surely spent enough time admiring that ass, even before they became a thing. As his gaze finally lands on the Number 28 jersey, with the word ‘TOMLINSON’ written in uppercase, bold letters above it, Louis turns around, as if feeling his gaze on him. He smirks and waves right at Harry. Harry can feel the blood rushing to his cheeks and gives Louis small smile, waving back.

“You look like a love sick puppy. It’s so cute.” Niall’s voice cuts into his staring contest with Louis as he feels an elbow in his ribs. He rips his gaze away from Louis, and that may be the most difficult thing he has ever done, to glare at his friend.

“I don’t love him. We barely know each other,” Harry says after a few moments of glaring, and it accomplishes nothing seeing as how Niall is still smiling at him. It’s a lie. Well, not the loving part. Harry isn’t even sure if he is capable of love, if he is being honest. It’s easier to love than to trust, but without trust there is no love at all. He doesn’t trust Louis, yet, so, how could he possibly love him?

“Eh. You’re gettin’ there,” Niall responds, setting down his hotdog in favor of taking a bite from his Nacho Cheese platter. Seriously, how much cheese can this boy consume? That can’t be healthy. When Niall starts waving animatedly at someone on the field, Harry’s head whips back towards the area to see Louis and Liam talking to each other, Louis pointing in their direction. Liam nods then looks up at them then smiles and waves. Niall starts waving back immediately, but Harry doesn’t until he feels Niall elbow him yet again. Harry really needs to tie Niall’s arms to his sides, so he can’t be so fucking annoying with them all of the time. When Harry returns Liam’s wave, Liam beams, and that… well that’s just strange.

“Who’s that,” Niall asks, nodding towards their right. Again, Harry follows the direction of his gaze to find a set of twin little girls waving their arms in his direction, each sitting on the lap of another person. He looks around to see if there is anyone else they could be waving at but finds no one. When his gaze lands on them again, recognition dawns on him. They are Louis’ little sisters. He lets his eyes land on the people the laps belong to to find Louis’ other sisters smiling at him brightly, also waving. Harry is… well he is confused. That was over a month ago. How on earth did they recognize him? He couldn’t have made that big of an impression on them and certainly not a positive one.

“Um… Louis’ little sisters,” Harry tells Niall still flabbergasted by it all. He knows his mouth is probably hanging open in shock and surprise, but he can’t bring himself to close it. He is just so… dumbfounded.

“Well don’t just sit there like a knot on a log, H. Wave back,” Niall says, actually lifting Harry’s wrist so he would snap out of it and get the picture. Harry pulls his arm out of Niall’s grasp to glare at him for a split second before he returns his gaze to the girls. He waves back because, fuck, what else can he do? He suddenly wants them to like him. He has never actually wanted anyone to like him, not for a long, long time, so this is a new feeling for him. What the fuck?

“Look at you, making nice with Louis’ sisters. That’s so fuckin’ sweet it’s givin’ me a toothache,” Niall quips, and Harry can feel his cheeks heating up with the statement.

“Shut it, Ni,” Harry says, smiling now since they are all smiling at him brightly. He doesn’t want them to think he is some kind of emotionless freak, even though he is. He stops breathing when, he thinks it is Lottie, nudges the woman sitting beside her. Blue eyes so much like Louis’ it startles him, land on him. Lottie whispers something in her ear and the woman smiles kindly, eyes crinkling at the corners and also waves. That must be Louis’ mom, which means the angry man sitting beside her who is doing nothing but watching the game must be Louis’ step-dad, Mark. Louis doesn't talk about him much, but from what Harry has gathered, he is a bit of an asshole. He even looks like an asshole. Hair cropped short to his head, posture stiff and threatening. Harry never wants to meet him, but has the sinking feeling it is inevitable.

“They seem to like you,” Niall speculates, watching the twins wave at Harry one last time before a whistle is blown, bringing their attention back to the game. Harry finally looks away, feeling both relieved and disappointed. He is still having a hard time believing that they recognized him after such a long time. He didn’t think he made that much of an impact on them or their everyday lives. Maybe Louis was being honest when he said Harry had made their whole day just by being around.

“How long do these things usually last?” Harry asks, changing the subject after a few moments, looking around at all of the people and lights. He tries to remember how long the homecoming game lasted, but his brain was so scrambled from his first kiss that day that he barely remembers anything about the game. He tries to calm himself down by taking deep breaths when he notices how large the crowd is, how close people are to him. He can make it through this without having a panic attack. He knows he can. Well at least he hopes so.

“About two, two and a half hours,” Niall replies around a mouth full of cheese. What item that cheese came from is beyond Harry. Harry had no idea how long a game would last, but surely he must be joking. That is a long ass time to play a sport. They must all be exhausted by the end of it.

“Jesus’ tits. That’s a lot of time to pretend to care.” That phrase gets Harry another glare from the PTA bitch. He almost flips her off, but decides to save it for a different moment. He doesn’t want to get kicked out of the game, afterall. She definitely looks like the ‘let me speak to your manager’ type with her hair cut into an concave bob, being held high with far too much hairspray. If Harry had held a match anywhere near her, he is sure her head would combust from all of the chemicals.

“Don’t act like you don’t care. Save the shit, H. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be here. It’s the first game of the playoffs. You know just as much as I do that it is important to Louis and Liam. That’s why you’re here. Now read your book and get out of my hair while I watch the game,” Niall says rolling his eyes fondly then transfixing them back on the field where someone on the team just kicked the ball. “Want some nachos?” Niall asks, holding them in Harry’s direction, not taking his eyes off the game. Harry takes one and eats it, begrudgingly admitting to himself that the cheesy snack is pretty good. Then Harry pulls out his book. This is going to be a long evening.

Almost two hours later, and Harry’s gaze has never left the field, his book laying long forgotten on the bleacher beside him. It’s not that he is interested in the sport, perse, just interested in the way Louis plays the sport. He is pretty sure he could watch Louis run all damn day and never get tired of the sight of those powerful legs and his plump ass taking him across the field. The skin tight football pants are an added bonus, extenuating every muscle, dimple, and curve in the most enticing way. Harry may or may not have been concealing a boner for the past hour.

The game has been pretty gruesome thus far, from what Harry has been able to gather from Niall. He wasn’t asking questions. He wasn’t. The score has been close the entire time, with the Rebels leading by a few points. The other team has also progressively gotten more aggressive with their defense, a yellow flag being thrown almost every play, Niall referring to the second half as ‘laundry day’ whatever the fuck that means. Yes, Harry now knows what a yellow flag means, thank you very much. He worries for Louis’ safety, and, again, questions why anyone would want to watch such a barbaric sport, let alone play one.

“And the ball is snapped,” the announcer’s loud booming voice says over the intercom system. Harry has mostly been tuning them out, since they don’t help him to understand what it is going on. They talk too fast and use too much sports jargon for Harry to ever keep up. “Morgan is looking for an opening, he’s found one, he throws it deep to Tomlinson who is in the red zone. Tomlinson catches it. Go! Go! Go! Ohhhh, he’s tackled, hard. That had to hurt. Where’s the flag? Tomlinson’s not getting up.”

Harry stops listening as all of the blood rushes to his ears. Almost of their own accord, his knees unbend as he rises from his seat, attempting to get a better look at Louis who is still laying on the ground. Harry feels sick as he replays the image of Louis getting hit by a guy twice his size, his head snapping to the side while his right ankle bends at an awkward angle. Harry kind of registers Niall’s hand on his shoulder, squeezing it, too wrapped up in making sure Louis is okay. He’s okay, right? He has to be okay. It feels like time is standing still as Harry watches helplessly from the bleachers while the head coach, the athletic trainer, and a few teammates crowd around Louis’ seemingly lifeless form. They are all leaning over him, hands in different areas, keeping his helmet on.

“He’s okay, right, Ni? He’s gotta be okay,” Harry says, wincing at the pleading sound in his voice. He doesn’t take his eyes off Louis for a second as he asks the question, too afraid he would miss something, but Louis, from what he can tell between the limbs of the others, is still laying on the ground. He swallows hard, trying to tell the one nacho that he ate that it does not want to meet the world again. He just can’t believe this is happening.  

“I’m sure he’s fine, H,” Niall responds, squeezing his shoulder again, but Harry can hear the worry lacing his words, which makes his heart drop. Liam looks at them then with a small worried smile. Harry tries to return it, glad that Liam seems to know that they are at least worried. After what feels like an eternity, when it is probably a matter of seconds, Harry sees Louis’ arm finally, finally move. Thank the gods. Harry lets out a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding at the sight, relief flooding his veins like the first spark of sunlight on a rainy day. Louis immediately grips his ankle, though, and Harry feels sick again. It doesn’t look broken, but Harry is no medical professional.

They finally remove his helmet, Harry can just spot his brown hair matted down with sweat through the various legs. Harry watches helplessly as the athletic trainer bends to examine his ankles, Louis grimacing when she pokes and prods, clearly in discomfort. When two people bring out a stretcher from the side lines and move Louis onto it, Harry’s body begins shaking. Louis is hurt. Fuck. Harry just wants to run down to the field to be with him, but he can’t. That is the most frustrating thing about this whole fucking thing. The secrecy. He can’t show how much he cares, and if he does, it has to be in a ‘bro’ way and not in a ‘I will suck your dick’ way. He holds his breath as he watches them carry Louis off the field, tightening his hands into fists, wanting nothing more than to go into the ambulance with him.

Suddenly, an idea forms in his head. It may be crazy, and they will be fucked if he gets caught, however he has to try. He just has to. “I’ve gotta go,” he mummers to Niall, his whole body feeling numb, but it helps now that he has a goal. He does not listen to Niall’s protest as he pulls his arm out of Niall’s grip and runs down the bleachers. He just needs to get to Louis.

 

___________

 

“Mr. Tomlinson, it seems that you have suffered an ankle sprain and a mild concussion. You will need to be on crutches for a week, and probably won’t be able to play in next week's game.” Louis almost protest, but his mom squeezes his hand in a silent gesture to be quiet and listen to the doctor. “When you got hit, your blood pressure dropped, which paired with the head injury, caused you to pass out. We want to keep you in overnight for observation, but I’m sure you’ll be right as rain by tomorrow.”

Right as rain? Why is rain right? Louis has a headache and doesn’t really want to try to understand the phrase. There is nothing right about this situation. He has been here for an hour, the game long done. He has been poked and prodded by nurses and doctors. He has had a CT scan and been given meds. His mom told him that their team won, which is a relief, but he can’t miss the next game. They need him. He has a headache from hell, and he feels like shit. He just wants to go to sleep. Well, he kind of wants to see Harry, but that probably won’t happen, so sleep sounds like the next best thing right about now. Instead, he has to listen to this doctor drone on and on about his ankle x-ray and his head scan. Thankfully they gave him some Tylenol, so his ankle is no longer throbbing like it was. Small favors.

“I can’t stay with you, Louis. Mark is already asking where I am because the girls need to be bathed and put to bed. He can’t do it. I’m sorry, darling,” his mom says, snapping Louis out of his thoughts. He looks around the room, finding no sight of the doctor. He must have missed him leave. The hospital that they brought him to is small and looks like the place where people go to die. It’s the only hospital in town though, so it was his only option since the ambulance is legally bound to take him to the one closest one.

“It’s okay, mom,” Louis responds, trying to keep the disappointment from his tone. It’s not the first time he has been in the hospital, but he doesn’t want to stay here overnight, alone. Hospitals creep him out. He finds the sterileness of the environment unsettling and the overly clean smell disturbing. It suddenly dawns on him that once she leaves, he will be truly alone. He knows he wished for that before, but not this way. She can’t stay though, because Mark wouldn’t do anything to take care of his sisters, leaving that to his wife since it is her work. It is bullshit and annoying, but Louis can’t do anything about it. He doesn't want to make it harder on his mom by begging her to stay, so he just nods his head.

“I’m sorry. I wish I could, love. I do, but I can’t. I love you, and I will see you bright and early tomorrow morning when they discharge you. Call me if you need anything. I will keep my ringer on tonight just for you.” Jay smiles reassuringly, but Louis can see the tears behind her blue eyes. He holds back tears of his own, trying to swallow down the lump in his throat. He won’t cry. He is eighteen years old. One night in the hospital won’t kill him. His head just hurts, and his ankle is starting to hurt again. He is a bit scared, but he takes a deep breath attempting to school his features into one of confidence. Harry is alone all the time, it seems, surely Louis can spend ten hours alone without freaking out.

“I know, Mom. Love you, too. Go take care of the girls.” Louis is proud that his voice doesn’t crack with the statement. She gives him one last smile and hugs him tight.

“Sleep well, Boobear.” She blows a kiss and shuts off the light, only leaving the bathroom light on. She waves one last time as she walks out the door, shutting it behind her. Louis sighs and rubs his eyes, looking around for his phone. He has no idea where his mom put it, but he needs it. He needs to tell Harry that he is okay and not to worry about him. He sees his phone laying across the room, sitting on top of the window sill where he can’t reach in his current place. It’s like the damn thing is taunting him. Reminding him of his own misfortune.

He wants to cry, but he won’t. Instead, he carefully maneuvers so his legs are hanging off the side of the bed, facing the window. It is dark out, the only light is coming from the bathroom, casting the room in shadows. He can see the LED notification light blinking with probably a million messages and missed calls. It is only a few steps. It probably won’t hurt that bad. He hisses out in pain as he puts a small amount of weight on his bad ankle, feeling a cool breeze hit his bare back and underwear clad bum as he gets fully off the bed. Stupid hospital gowns.

“Baby. I don’t think you should be doing that,” a deep voice says from behind him then, making his heart feel like it is about to burst from chest and run down the hallway. He probably would have jumped had it not been for his bum ankle. He tries to get his heart to settle down, as his brain registers who that voice belongs to. It can’t though. How would he have gotten in? He slowly turns around to find Harry, smiling at him. It’s small, and Louis can barely see it in the dimness of the room, but he is smiling. He also looks worried, his dark brows drawn, a slight frown on his handsome face.

“Harry! You scared the hell out of me! How did you get here?” Louis whisper shouts, not wanting to alarm the nurses. He clutches his chest, and tries to close the hospital gown in the back, but it’s no use. Harry has already seen. It’s not like Harry hasn’t seen him partly naked at this point, but for some reason he feels embarrassed. Maybe it’s because it’s not in a sexual way.

“I thought I put hell in you and payback's a bitch,” Harry says with a smirk, referring to the two separate occasions Louis had scared him. Harry continues, “And it doesn’t matter. Let’s get you back in bed.” Harry takes two long steps towards him and grabs his arm. His hand is warms as it settles into the crook of Louis’ elbow. Louis is startled when Harry doesn’t just push him on the bed, instead, he just picks him up, bridal style and places him gently on the crappy hospital mattress. Louis doesn’t protest, just wraps his arms around Harry’s neck, trusting him not to drop him.

“There,” Harry says, covering Louis’ legs and tucking him in. He then grabs Louis’ phone figuring out what Louis was after in the first place and hands it Louis. Louis glances down at it, swiping away the missed calls because who the fuck calls people in this day and age? He replies to both Niall and Liam quickly, but ignores all other notifications because Harry is in his room. Harry is looking at him with worry still marring his lovely features. Louis wants to reach up and smooth over the worry lines between Harry’s brows, so he does. It is nice not having to worry about people seeing them interact. Not having to second guess everything they do, afraid it will be interpreted as ‘too gay’.

“Harry, how did you get here? You don’t even have a car,” Louis asks again lowering his hand. Even though he just touched him, he is still not able to believe Harry is standing there in his hospital room. He doesn’t have to be alone. Well at least not right now, but Harry would have to leave eventually.

“Walked,” Harry answers, with a shrug, as if it is no big deal.

“That’s like five miles, Harry, and it’s cold out. You can’t be serious,” Louis exclaims at Harry’s unbelievable statement. He walked here. Why would he do that? Now Louis is worried that Harry is going to get sick, walking five fucking miles in the cold.

“Sorry it took so long,” Harry replies with a wide smile, seemingly quite proud of his joke. At least, Louis thinks he is joking. He hasn’t gotten a good idea of Harry’s sense of humor, yet, not getting enough glimpses of it under all of the all around moodiness. He knows he likes puns, and it can be slightly corny. Harry also gets sarcasm, which Louis appreciates. Louis can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t get sarcasm.

“Why?”

“I wanted to make sure you were okay,” Harry says it like it’s not a big deal, but to Louis it is a huge deal. A step. A step in the right direction for Harry, finally. Maybe they will no longer do the tango or some equally outdated dance. Maybe they can start moving forward, towards college where they can maybe, just maybe, be a little bit more free.

“You were worried about me!?” Louis exclaims, letting a huge smile take over his features. He hates that he worried Harry, but he is also kind of glad that Harry came to check on him. It makes a warmness take over his chest, spreading to his aching body parts.

Harry just shrugs sticking his hands deep in his tight pockets, but the blush taking over his features is answer enough. Louis feels like he can’t contain it anymore, so he scoots over on the bed, patting the spot beside him. Harry looks hesitant, so he pats it again. “Come on. Come lay with me,” Louis pouts, trying to get the other boy to give in. After what feels like a lifetime, Louis is starting to think he is going to get rejected, but finally, Harry toes off his shoes and gets in the small bed beside him, wrapping Louis in his arms tightly, as if he is afraid to let go. His big hand comes to settle in Louis’ hair, running his long fingers through the strands over and over. It is soothing and it’s making Louis sleepy.

“I’m sorry I scared you,” Louis apologizes after a few moments, his voice breaking the quietness that has settled over the room, popping their warm bubble. Louis feels Harry stiffen, as he waits for him to deny the comment. He knows he scared Harry, though. Harry wouldn’t have looked so worried and wouldn’t be holding him as if Louis is about to slip through his fingers at any moment if he wasn’t scared. Louis tightens his hold around Harry’s waist, resting his head on his chest, trying to reassure the other boy that he isn’t going anywhere. Harry smells like vanilla, and Louis takes a deep breath, trying to commit it to memory.

“What did the doctor say?” Harry asks, clearly changing the subject, but Louis lets him. He goes on to tell Harry everything the doctor told him and his mom earlier, ending with the fact that he will be on crutches for the upcoming week, and he may have to miss the next playoff game. As he says it, he lets Harry’s warmth seep into his bones, feeling content for the first time since he arrived at the hospital. Harry’s large hand is a constant presence on his bare back as he rubs small, smoothing circles into his skin, letting Louis say everything he has to say.

“I’m sorry. I know you want to play,” Harry says after he quietly listens to the whole story, running his fingers through Louis’ hair again. Louis fiddles with the words on Harry’s shirt, tracing them with his finger over and over again. Harry looks relaxed like this, with Louis in his arms. Louis decides it’s a good look for him. They both jump when they hear the door knob start to turn, panic rising in Louis’ chest threatening to suffocate him. This can’t be happening. They are going to be caught, and Harry is going to be kicked out. Whoever it is is going to say they found Louis cuddling with some boy in his hospital room, and it will be over for him. He won’t have to worry about a sprained ankle and concussion when Mark is finished with him. They freeze exactly how they are, wrapped up in each other’s arms as they watch the door slowly open. If they are going to die, at least it will be in each other’s arms Louis supposes. He can feel Harry holding his breath, Louis doing the same.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to to interrupt,” a nurse stumbles out when she sees them both in the bed. “I was just coming into make sure that you are okay.”

“I’m fine, and you didn’t interrupt anything.” Louis is quick to say, limbs springing into action as he pulls out of Harry’s hold. Harry looks scared, teetering on the fence of staying on the bed and jumping off to run from the room. It seems the former wins out, but his one foot is still on the floor as if he is ready.

“No need to explain. I’ll leave you to it,” she responds, dark hair shaking with the movement of her head. She has both hands raised in the air, palms facing towards them as she slowly starts to back out of the room, pink scrubs gleaming in the low light.

“You’re not gonna tell my parents are you?” Louis blurts out, stopping her in her tracks.

“Oh no, that would be a HIPPA Violation. You could sue me. You’re 18, and you are are allowed to have any visitors you want with your permission. Just buzz me if you need anything,” she says with a wink, then she leaves the room, Louis and Harry nodding dumbly as they watch her go. They both let out a collective sigh of relief when the door clicks shut, then start laughing because what else is there to do? The whole thing scared the fuck out of them, but now it seems funny in retrospect. They technically did get caught, but Louis feels lucky to have found the one open minded nurse in this town. He has no idea what HIPPA is, but he needs to thank it. He feels Harry shake beside him with his laughter. He doesn't think he has ever heard Harry laugh so much, and it really is the most lovely sound Louis has ever experienced.

After a few moments of laughing, Harry wipes the tears from his eyes, then his gaze lands on Louis with a look Louis can’t quite figure out. Time seems to stand still as Harry continues to stare at him, seemingly deciding something. Louis releases a breath he didn’t even realize he was holding when Harry is on him, sealing their lips together in a kiss. It is heated and desperate, as if Harry wants to memorize every feature of Louis face, every taste of Louis’ lips. Louis loves how confident Harry has gotten with their kisses, now taking the lead, his large hand coming up to rest on Louis’ cheek. Louis probably shouldn’t do anything sexual with a concussion, but his dick seems to not have gotten the memo as it starts fattening with Harry’s attention. Plus, the doctor said nothing about a hospital hand job from a devastatingly hot boy. Right?

“Haz, take off your pants; I’ve got an idea,” Louis says, breaking their kiss. He looks in Harry’s eyes which are glazed and blown wide even in the dim light. His red lips are glistening with spit, and for a second it seems that he is not going to do it, which is disappointing, but Louis would understand. Finally, Harry just nods then stands up, making quick work of the button and zipper of his jeans. He pushes his too tight pants down his thighs, his hard cock springing free. Fuck. Louis loves his cock. He almost forgets his plan and just starts sucking Harry right then and there, but he wants to kiss Harry as they both get off. Louis pulls at his hospital gown, easily pulling the item over his head, then off goes his underwear, now fully naked under the scratchy covers. Harry watches him with hooded eyes, then pulls off his own black band t-shirt, leaving his jewelry on, the silver of his necklace gleaming in the low light.

Fuck. What Harry was hiding under that shirt was nothing short of glorious. His pale skin is stretched over lean muscles, with dusky pink nipples. Louis spots two discolored areas below each nipple, but isn’t sure what they are. He wants to find out though. He licks his lips, now desperate to get his mouth on the skin. To mark it. Harry has just the slightest love handles on his hips, perfect for gripping and biting. Louis’ mouth waters with the thought. Holy shit. Does Harry know how perfect he is? How breathtakingly beautiful he is? Louis doesn’t think Harry is aware though, but makes a silent promise to himself to compel Harry to understand.

“Get in bed with me,” Louis says, laying on his side and patting the spot next to him, holding open the covers for Harry to crawl under. Harry does so quickly, as if he is afraid to lose his nerve. As soon as Harry is close enough, Louis molds their bodies together and traps Harry’s warm mouth in another heated kiss. He wants nothing more than to devour the boy. His beautiful boy. He hisses when he registers that Harry’s hard dick is pressed against his own. Harry is rutting his hips slowly, groaning into their kiss. The friction is just a tiny bit rough and perfect in every way. Louis is almost sure he could come like this. His head feels light, but he thinks it has nothing to do with the concussion and everything to do with Harry.

“That’s it, love. Fuck. Feels so good,” Louis encourages, moving his own hips to meet Harry’s thrusts, causing his balls to tighten. He then takes Harry’s large hand and kisses each knuckle. He looks into Harry’s eyes as he takes each finger into his warm mouth, only stopping when his lips touch the cool metal of Harry’s rings. He sucks on the digits greedily, wanting to get them wet. Harry moans low and deep, almost as if the sound is ripped from his chest, as he closes his eyes and thrusts harder against Louis. Louis needs to get this show on the road because he feels like his dick is going to explode at any moment.

After getting his fingers sufficiently wet, Louis kisses his palm one last time then guides it down between them, wrapping Harry’s long fingers around both of their lengths. He takes Harry’s wrist, and begins moving his hand in an up and down motion much like Halloween night. His breath hitches in pleasure with the action, Harry's’ warm hand wrapped around them, his hard length pressed against his own. Harry is a quick learner, bless him, and catches on with record speed, his grip becoming firmer, his movements steadier. Louis’ eyes roll back into his head when he feels Harry thumb over the tip of his dick to use the precome spurting from their tips to better ease the glide.

“Shit. Gods. This feels… fuck,” Harry mummers into Louis’ ear, voice low and sexy, sending chills down Louis’ spine. Louis does the only thing he can think to do at the current moment, he kisses him. Their teeth clack together with the force of it, but neither of them seem to care, chasing their own orgasms. Louis pulls Harry tighter, not wanting an inch of their bodies to be separated as their legs tangle further together. Louis forgets that they are in a hospital bed. He forgets that they could get caught at any moment by a nurse or his own mother. He is too busy drowning in Harry’s warmth, his smell, his fucking skin. Everything.

“‘M close,” Harry mumbles into Louis’ mouth, and Louis just grips his hair tightly, another spark of pleasure going straight to his balls with the words. He pulls back, wanting to see Harry’s face when he comes. He didn’t really get that chance last time, too busy with a dick down his throat to get a really good view, not that he was complaining about the view. Harry’s eyes are closed and his mouth his open in bliss when Louis feels the first spurt of hot liquid hit his chest.

“That’s it, darling,” Louis whispers, biting Harry’s chiseled jaw feeling his whole body tense when another ribbon is released, making them both sticky. It feels like it is burning Louis’ skin, but he doesn’t want it to stop. He will gladly deal with burning alive if it means he can be with Harry. He is close himself, but he wants to watch Harry fall over the edge, wants to catch him at the bottom.

“Want your come to mix with mine,” Harry says, continuing his pace even though Louis knows he is sensitive from just having orgasmed. Louis looks down between them, being met with the sight of Harry’s big ringed hand wrapped around both of their cocks, Harry’s still semi hard. Fuck. That sends Louis over the edge into oblivion as he comes all over his and Harry’s chests, mixing with what Harry has already put there. They kiss lazily for a few moments afterwards, catching their breath, just enjoying the rare alone time that they’ve been given. Louis’ head is throbbing though, so maybe coming after a concussion wasn’t the best of ideas, but he regrets nothing.

When Harry breaks their kiss and reaches to the bedside table, Louis notices a mark he left on Harry’s jaw, probably when Harry was coming. It is small, red, and perfect on Harry’s pale skin. Louis smiles to himself, ridiculously happy to have laid claim to Harry in someway, even though it could never be public. They could never be public. He pushes that unpleasant thought away, as Harry begins to wipe himself off, not touching Louis. Louis is about to say something, but chokes on the words when Harry bows down to lick their mixed releases off of Louis chest. Louis’ spent dick twitches in interest as he feels Harry’s wet tongue licking, and his red lips sucking every single drop marring Louis’ skin. Holy shit. He didn’t know Harry would like the taste of come so much, but Louis is here for it. After Louis is clean from every speck of come, Harry gets out of the bed to grab Louis’ underwear and throws them to him then pulls on his own.

“Stay for a little while longer?” Louis asks when he sees Harry go for his shirt. He hates that he asked, but he just doesn’t want to be alone. His head is hurting again and his ankle is starting to throb now that the adrenaline has worn off. He just wants to be held.

“Yeah. I can stay,” Harry responds, lowering the bed with the remote on the side so that it is mostly laying flat. He climbs back in the small bed and holds his arms open wide. Louis doesn’t think twice before he burrows himself into them, laying his head on Harry’s chest. Harry chuckles then covers them both up with his hand coming to run through Louis’ hair. This is the first time Louis has ever slept with anyone. Like real sleep. He usually sneaks back home after they fuck, but this feels different somehow. They didn’t even have sex, but Louis thinks he may be able to get used to this. Falling asleep in Harry’s arms. He has no idea if he will ever get the opportunity again, so he tries to soak it up, like a flower on a sunny day.

“Won’t your mom be worried?” Louis murmurs, voice muffled by Harry’s chest. He can feel his eyelids getting heavier, a mixture of the orgasm and the incredibly long day pulling him under, but he wants to stay present. He wants to remember this moment forever, bask in it because it may never happen again. He feels like he will be missing something if he lets his eyes close and succumbs to sleep.

“She won’t even notice,” Harry replies, and Louis is too tired to question that. His brain feels foggy, and his limbs feel heavy, however he needs to say one more thing.

“My mom will be here at 8 am…” He lets his sentence trail off, unsure of where he was going to take it.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be gone. Go to sleep, baby,” Harry responds kissing him on the forehead, and Louis smiles, glad Harry was able to read his mind. Harry tightens his arms, and Louis burrows in deeper, inhaling his scent. Maybe hospitals aren’t so bad after all.

 

__________

 

“Alright, let’s get started on some of the songs for the Christmas Concert,” Mr. Tennant says, clapping his hands excitedly. Harry rolls his eyes, already annoyed. It is the Monday after Louis’ accident, and Louis said he would be at school. He isn’t there yet, and Harry is more worried than he wants to admit. His eyes keep wandering over to the door, expecting it to open and Louis to emerge, but it hasn’t yet. Louis seemed fine when Harry left the hospital the morning after sleeping together. It was honestly the best sleep Harry had gotten in years despite the too small bed. Harry found that he enjoyed the feeling of Louis’ body on his chest. They woke up in a spooning position, Louis’ chest pressed against Harry’s back. Harry didn’t know he would enjoy being the little spoon, but he did.

It was awkward, at first, when they had awoken, groggy and disoriented. Harry could tell Louis was in a lot of pain, even though he tried his best to mask it. Harry knew the other boy better than that, but didn’t say anything not wanting to hurt his pride. Harry put on his clothes, and they kissed goodbye as Harry snuck out of Louis’ room, Jay being due there any minute. Harry actually passed her in the hallway and hoped she didn’t recognize him from the game. If she did, she didn’t say anything. He and Louis had texted throughout the weekend, Harry wanting to make sure Louis was doing okay. Louis’ little sisters apparently couldn’t wait to tell him they had seen Harry at the game, and told him all about it as soon as they caught sight of him on Saturday morning, after making sure he was okay, of course. That made Harry smile, although he would never admit it to Louis.

“It’s a Holiday Concert,” Harry corrects after Mr. Tennant refers to it as a ‘Christmas’ concert yet again. When the rest of the class sighs at his statement, he has the sudden urge to flip everyone in this small minded town off. Is it really that difficult to be inclusive? They would be completely offended if someone referred to it as the ‘Hanukkah Concert’ or the ‘Yule Concert’. They would probably riot and burn down the school if anyone had even tried to call it that.  

“Harry’s right. It should be a Holiday Concert.” Harry hears Louis’ raspy voice say, and his head whips around to find the person the voice belongs to. Louis is stood in the doorway of the classroom, every student in the class training their eyes on him. He is perched on silver crutches, books somehow grasped in his small hand as he uses both to get to his seat. He looks tired and worn down, and it isn’t even their first period. He sits down carefully, and leans the adorably short crutches on the table behind him, blowing his hair out of his eyes. He looks like he doesn't care today. Harry knows that look well, he sports if often enough.  

Mr. Tennant doesn’t comment on Louis’ tardiness since he has an obvious reason why, or his comment. He does start calling it a Holiday Concert though, and for that Harry is pleased. The teacher moves on to the lesson, having them all sing the first song of their Holiday Concert in synchronization. Even though all of their voices are blending together, harmonizing with one another, Harry can still pick out the unique sound of Louis’ voice. The raspy quality making their performance just a little bit fuller and stronger. If they didn’t have him, it would feel incomplete somehow. It is weird to Harry how incomplete everything in his life would feel without Louis. It is also alarming. Louis has just woven himself seamlessly into Harry’s life to the point where Harry hadn’t even noticed until it was too late.

When Mr. Tennant moves on to working with just the Altos of the room, Harry pulls out the book that he brought with him, starting in on the place he left off last night when he stopped reading. He glances up to find Louis staring at him, a curious look on his face. Harry makes a mental note to ask him about it and continues reading, getting lost in the book in a matter of seconds, completely ignoring everyone around him. Harry stays that way until the class ends, no one paying him any attention. Save for Louis.

“Hey. Let me carry your books for you,” Harry says, going up to Louis after class is dismissed, watching as he winces when he stands to place his crutches under his arms. It physically hurts Harry. He doesn't like to see Louis so hurt, but he also knows this will be a delicate subject for Louis. He just wants to take care of him, though.

“Nah. I got it,” Louis replies, eyeing Harry with confusion. Harry knows it is a bit weird for him to want to do kind things for other people, but he wants to with Louis. He has this uncontrollable desire to help him. His fingers itch with it. If Louis asked him, Harry would probably carry him to class on his back, so he didn’t have to move.

“Come on, Lou. Your hands aren’t big enough. Let me help. Please?” Harry reasons, giving Louis a pleading look.

“No, Haz,” Louis sighs, but Harry can tell he is wearing him down. He looks even more tired as he stands with his crutches, trying to figure out the best way to arrange his books so that he can do both. It’s a miracle that he managed the first time, and Harry doesn’t believe in miracles. Maybe it was more like defying physics or something.

“Please?” Harry asks again, eyes pleading with the request. Louis must have found something there because he sighs and hands his books over to Harry. Harry can see him trying to conceal his smile as he does so, and Harry wants to kiss him. He doesn’t though. Instead, he grabs the stack of books in one large hand and puts them with is brown leather journal. He never carries anything with him except his journal, a pen, a book to read for pleasure, and maybe a notebook.

“What are you reading?” Louis asks, changing the subject and glancing down at Harry’s hands.

“Oh. The first Harry Potter book. I decided to restart the series for like the fourth time,” Harry answers with a shrug, but doesn’t miss the curious look on Louis’ face.

“I’m not allowed to read those,” Louis responds after a few moments. Harry consciously makes his steps shorter and pace slower because Louis already has short legs, and he is on crutches. Louis seems to be fairing okay with them, only wincing with every few steps.

“Why not?” Harry asks, genuinely confused by the admission. Harry does his best to ignore the confused stares and murmured whispers from their classmates as they make their way towards Louis’ locker.

“Because it teaches witchcraft, according to Mark. Well, it was fine, but Mark watched some preacher on TV. That preacher said not to let your kids anywhere near it because it teaches witchcraft,” Louis says, and he sounds like he almost believes it, almost .

“What the fuck? That is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard.”

“Well it does, doesn’t it? Like isn’t it about witchcraft?” Louis asks, getting up to his locker and starting to put in the combination. His cheeks are red, and Harry isn’t sure if it’s from exertion or their conversation. Harry is going to go with both.

“Louis, it’s a children’s book,” Harry says because that should be answer enough to Louis’ question.

“Yeah, but isn’t it like… evil?” There is a hesitance in Louis’ tone that wasn’t there before. He glances at Harry, taking the books from Harry’s hand to exchange the ones he doesn’t need while balancing on his good leg.

“No. ‘Course not. They are children’s books about the battle between good and evil. In fact, there are Christian themes heavily embedded throughout. You should read them,” Harry tries, taking the books that Louis gives him.

“I shouldn’t. I’m not allowed, and well…” Louis’ sentence trails off as if he doesn’t have any other good excuse.

“Think about it, Lou. Why is religion so fragile that it won’t allow you to read a children’s book about good versus evil? Why is it so weak that it is afraid if you read that children’s book, you would no longer believe?” Harry watches Louis, seeing him deliberate Harry’s points in his own head. Harry knows that look quite well now, and it is beginning to be his favorite Louis look. Louis changes the subject, and Harry allows it as they walk the rest of the way to class.

Chapter Text

“image”

Holding onto his words, but baby

I saw an angel become the devil

Still they walk pretty good hand in hand

Well baby, I don't need any of them

Heaven nor hell- Volbeat

 

“We really shouldn’t be doing this,” Harry says, his low voice echoing off the walls in the dark back stairwell of the school, but returns Louis’ kiss despite his words. Louis breaks the kiss, the sucking sound bouncing off the walls in random directions. He quickly puts his mouth on Harry’s neck, replacing the hickey that had faded from the hospital room just over a week ago.

“Shut up,” Louis mumbles, words muffled by Harry’s neck. Harry’s eyes roll back in his head with a particularly sharp bite, cock stirring in his too tight jeans. Harry’s vocal cords, of their own accord, release a low moan. He has found that he likes a little bit of pain. Not shocking, but now he knows.

“What if someone sees us?” Harry asks, voice needy and desperate. He is starting to get hard, Louis grinding against him and and sucking marks into his neck isn’t helping him in the slightest. Then Louis removes his mouth to fucking smirk at him, and Harry’s knees almost give out right then and there.

“That’s what makes it fun,” Louis responds, going back to his task of marking Harry’s neck. Harry is now so unbelievably hard it is making him dizzy. He had no idea what he was thinking when he agreed to meet Louis during their free period. He should have known nothing good could come of it. He is just terrified of someone seeing. Then they would know . He and Louis would no longer be allowed to be together, and Louis’ family would probably move him immediately.

“I know you’re upset that you all lost on Friday, and you blame yourself because you couldn’t play due to your ankle injury. This isn’t the way to fix that though, Louis,” Harry reasons, his hands traveling down to grope Louis’ round ass because they have a mind of their fucking own. Louis moans with the action, rubbing his own erection against Harry’s again. Harry feels like he is going to die.

“I thought you were a bad boy who doesn’t care. We both have a free period; they won’t even notice we’re gone. Don’t you wanna fuck around at school?” When Harry gives him an unimpressed look, Louis rolls his eyes, but breaks. “Fine, I am a bit, I don’t know, bummed I guess about not being able to play. My ankle was feeling better, but the damn coach and athletic trainer still made me sit out. I just feel like we would have won if I had played, and I let my team down,” Louis finally says, his tone sad.

Harry’s heart breaks just a tiny bit with the admission, his arms coming to wrap tightly around Louis, trying to show him that it doesn't matter to him if he couldn’t play football. Harry may never understand the competitiveness or the sport in general, but it obviously means a lot to Louis, therefore he refrains for making a sarcastic remark about how it’s just a sport and doesn't matter who wins and loses. He thinks about what he wants to say, knowing he needs to tread carefully with this. “You can’t focus on the what if’s, baby, you may have lost regardless of if you were playing or not. You should be so proud that you all made it to the playoffs in the first place. It’s amazing, and you said yourself you have already been scouted by college teams. That’s gotta count for something, right?”

“Yeah, you’re right, I guess. I’m sorry. We don’t have do anything here if you don’t want to. I just wanted something to take my mind off of it, but it’s not fair to you,” Louis sighs, kissing Harry on the cheek right where his left dimple would be if he had been smiling. He feels like Louis likes kissing that spot on purpose, as if wanting to give it a reason to appear.

“Don’t apologize. You know I enjoy-- umm-- what we do,” Harry finishes lamely, cheeks heating up with the admission. He knows Louis would never force him to do something he isn’t comfortable with. He knows he can say no, and Louis would be perfectly content to just make out or even just talk for the rest of their free period, however he kind of wants to. The thought of the possibility of getting caught sends a thrill down Harry’s spine, making his cock twitch with interest. They could. Nobody would ever know. No one uses this stairwell ever, thinking it's haunted, so the chances of them actually getting caught are slim to none. They certainly wouldn’t be the first people to fuck around on school grounds, so is it really that bad of an idea? Probably not.

“Oh yeah,” Louis challenges, smirk returning in full force, blue eyes gleaming in the low light. “Tell me how much.” Harry wants to show him rather than tell him, so without thinking, Harry hoists Louis up, the shorter boy bringing his legs to wrap around Harry’s hips instinctively. Louis lets out an adorable little shriek before Harry swallows it with his mouth. He slams Louis against the opposite wall, taking them more into the darkness of the underside of the stairwell. He knocks the breath out of Louis, but takes it into himself, keeping one hand firmly on Louis’ ass, the other coming up to cup his jaw, deepening their kiss.

“Fuck, Harry,” Louis whispers into his mouth, tightening his legs even more and grinding his hips down. Harry reacts by pushing him that much harder against wall, grinding back. If they don’t cut this out, Harry is going to come in his pants which will be all kinds of bad given he still has two more classes and work to get through. Louis’ hands are tangled in Harry’s curls as Harry continues to kiss him, their tongues battling for dominance. Harry really wants to taste Louis. Feels like he has to, but he has never done it before. Before he can second guess himself, he taps Louis’ hip, a silent signal for Louis to drop to the ground. Louis obliges quickly, but doesn’t remove his lips from Harry’s, using his grip in Harry’s hair to make him lean down.

“Wanna taste you,” Harry says between kisses, cheeks burning with the admission. Thankfully Louis probably can’t see, their faces shadowed by the stairway above.

“You don’t have to,” Louis whispers, being aware of how inexperienced Harry is. Harry knows Louis would never make him do something he was uncomfortable with, which makes him want to do it that much more. His mouth waters with the thought of Having Louis on his tongue. He is afraid he will suck at it, and not in the way he is supposed to, but there is only one way to find out, he supposes. Without replying, Harry drops to his knees in front of Louis, the cool tile of the floor hard under them.  

“I know, but I want to,” Harry whispers, looking up at Louis. Louis just nods, mouth open in surprise. Harry then gets to work popping the button on Louis’ jeans, then unzipping them slowly, the sound echoing in the darkness around them. He doesn’t pull them down or off, but reaches into the waistband of Louis’ briefs and tugs them down a bit, allowing his cock to spring free. He tucks the elastic right under Louis’ balls, trying to decide the best way to do this. He feels overwhelmed, like he has a big task in front of him, pun intended, and he simply doesn’t know where to start.

“It’s okay, love. Take your time. There’s no rush,” Louis says, voice high and raspy. Harry’s quickly beating heart does a flip at the term of endearment, still not used to someone calling him anything but ‘weird’ or ‘freak’. Louis’ small fingers come to tangle in Harry’s curls, scratching his scalp in a somewhat soothing manner. Harry closes his eyes for a second, soaking in the kindness radiating off of Louis. The understanding. When he opens them again, he is met with Louis’ hard, leaking cock. Even in the semi-darkness, he can see it twitching in interest. He takes a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart and his own hard on that is currently painful and throbbing. He decides to start by touching Louis, taking his hard length in his hand. He has done this before, so that’s not all that scary. He remembers how it feels on his palm and is reacquainted with that now. Warm and heavy.

“You’re so beautiful.” He hears Louis whisper into the quietness, almost as if he didn’t mean to say it outloud. That gives Harry the confidence he needs to poke out his tongue and kitten lick the tip of Louis’ cock, right over the slit, listening as Louis hisses out a breath. Harry has tasted Louis’ come before, on more than one occasion, but it is addictive. It almost tastes better coming straight from the source, so he wraps his lips around the head. It must have been the correct thing to do, judging by Louis’ moan and the tightening of his fingers in Harry’s hair.

“That’s perfect, love,” Louis rasps, squirming a bit when Harry starts sinking down, taking him deeper into his mouth until he reaches his gag reflex. Like he remembers Louis doing on Halloween night, what he can’t reach he takes in his hand, gripping tightly. He pulls back up and swirls his tongue around the head to get another taste before he sinks back down, repeating the motion again and again. He can feel his confidence growing with every moan, groan, and growl he pulls from Louis, as if he is actually doing a halfway decent job.

“Oh my God, Harry. Feels so good.” Harry would make a comment about God if he didn’t have a cock shoved in his mouth, so he is just going to let it slide. Literally, he is now sliding Louis’ shaft in and out of his mouth, sucking hard with each withdrawal. Louis seems to not be able to stay still, his legs squirming around, his fingers gripping tight, his hips thrusting subtlety. He is acting like Harry is driving him mad with need, which makes Harry want to work that much harder. He wants Louis to come. He feels like he needs it.

“Fuck. Shit,” Louis chokes out when Harry grazes Louis’ tight balls with one long finger while simultaneously tightening his lips and sucking hard. Louis’ hips buck almost of their own accord when Harry sinks down again. Harry’s eyes water, but he keeps going, not minding the feeling of being gagged just a bit. Not when what he is being gagged by tastes like heaven and feels close to perfect on his tongue. Harry freezes with Louis cock deep in his throat when they hear the door to the stairwell open loudly.

Neither of them make a sound or even breathe as they listen, hoping that they don’t get caught. Harry’s cock gets impossibly harder in his jeans at the idea of getting caught though, and he thinks Louis is having the same thoughts because he can feel his cock twitch in his throat. Harry almost wants to be mean and start back up, but decides the risk is far too great. This isn’t some random person catching them in the bathroom of a club. That would be kind of fun, to tease Louis with. Tell him to be quiet or they will get caught, but no. This is someone catching them on school property who would tell Louis’ parents. This is a moment that could tear them apart.

They hear it when the person starts climbing the stairs, the footsteps loud above them, almost deafening. It’s the only sound Harry can hear over his own beating heart and the blood not currently in his cock rushing to his ears. Harry doesn’t think he has taken in a microgram of air since the mystery person entered the stairwell. Neither boy has moved an inch since the intruder. Louis’ cock is still in Harry’s mouth, his fingers still tangled in his dark hair. Harry can feel how tense he is, his body more motionless than Harry has ever seen it. Louis is always moving. Harry’s own body is tense, his shoulders stiff, his fingers gripping onto Louis hips, stuck mid motion. The intruder is slow to go up the stairs, each footstep measured, almost as if the they want to piss Harry off. Harry just wants to pull off Louis’ cock and tell them to hurry the fuck up so he can get back to sucking his boyfriend off. Boyfriend? Now there is a startling thought, but Harry doesn’t have much time to dwell since he is currently scared shitless.  

Both boys visibly relax, and Louis lets out a sigh of relief when they hear the door to the second floor close, leaving them alone again. Harry looks up at Louis with wide eyes, asking him if he wants to continue. He probably looks ridiculous with Louis’ still impossibly hard cock in his mouth, but at the same time he doesn't want to release it just yet. He likes the way it feels. Likes his lips being wrapped around it, and it twitching on his tongue. Is it normal to enjoy giving head this much? He just likes being able to make Louis come a part just with his mouth. He can’t imagine what actual sex will be like if they ever get there. He hasn’t really thought about them going there, though. He feels like he needs to trust someone to give them that part of himself. While he is starting to trust Louis more, he just isn’t there yet.

“Keep going. ‘M close,” Louis says, bringing Harry back to the present. Louis leads his hand down to cup Harry’s jaw, moving his head up and down on his shaft until Harry registers what he said and takes over the movement with his own muscles. Louis is close. Harry has Louis close to orgasming. He did that. Holy shit. He doesn't know how he hasn’t come in his pants yet, because that thought has him teetering on the edge of oblivion, but he wants Louis to finish. Needs him to, so he goes back to doing exactly what he had been before they were so rudely interrupted.

“You liked that didn’t you? The idea of being caught,” Louis whispers, surprising Harry a bit with both the sound of his voice and his words. He was just not expecting Louis to talk. He hasn’t been, but Harry looks up at Louis and nods. Despite the low light, Harry can make out Louis’ fucked out expression. His eyes are hooded, his obscenely long eyelashes casting a dark shadow on his sharp, freckled cheek bones. His rouge colored lips are parted as his breaths come out in short huffs. Fuck. Harry feels like he is seconds away from coming. Even if he wasn’t close before, seeing Louis look like this would send anyone over the edge.

“Fuck. Knew you would. You would love to be caught with my dick down your throat. Then they would all know. Know who you belong to.” Holy shit. Harry has never heard anything so dirty in his life, but he has certainly read it. He has been reading gay fanfiction since he was fourteen, always preferring Drarry over almost anything else. He just doesn’t think he would ever have the courage to say any of his thoughts out loud, however, when Louis does it, it’s hot as fuck. He kind of wants to cry, but instead he wines around Louis’ cock, unsure of how else to express how unbelievably turned on he truly is.

“Fuck. Harry. I’m close. Shit. Pull off. Pull off,” Louis says, grabbing Harry’s jaw, but Harry stiffens his neck and doesn't pause is sucking as he looks up at Louis, shaking his head. “Fuck. Love, are you sure?” Louis gets out, clearly trying to stave off his orgasm for just a few more seconds. Harry nods, then takes Louis deep, swallowing around the head and that must be what does it. A moment later, Harry feels it when Louis orgasms, his entire body tensing around him and his cock twitching as he releases into Harry’s waiting mouth. Harry moans at the taste coating his mouth, not even thinking about it as he swallows quickly, telling himself not to fucking come because he doesn't have a change of clothes.

He feels Louis pull his hair, probably because he is becoming over sensitive, but Harry just doesn't want to release his new favorite thing. Louis is addictive. So with one final wet pop, Harry allows Louis to pull his mouth away and himself up off the floor, only to sink down to his own knees. Louis is silent as he undoes Harry’s belt, button, and zipper. He glances down at his watch then looks back up at Harry. “Class is letting out in five minutes, then this stairway will be flooded with people. Think you can come in less than five minutes?” He asks, looking up at Harry through his long eyelashes. Harry comes in three.

 

_________

 

“What time do you get off work tonight?” Louis asks, whispering the question to Harry who is sitting beside him in physics.

“Eight. I’m working with just Willow. Mac is going to be out,” Harry responds, giving him a small smile. Everyone in the class, including Louis jumps when a loud bang of thunder followed by a flash of lightning happens outside.

“How are you getting there?” Louis asks, glancing out of the window to see that it has started to rain heavily.

“Walking,” Harry shrugs, looking down at his mostly completed work. Louis’ isn’t even halfway complete. He glances at Niall and Liam. Niall is drawing in the margin of his notebook, having given up on it a long time ago. His drawing, however, looks like a rather pretty flower, even though it is black and white because he is using a pencil. Liam is staring angrily down at his work, brows drawn, bottom lip out in a pout. He then erases something so hard, Louis is concerned that he may start a fire from the friction alone. Neither of them seem to be fairing very well either.

“Let me drive you,” Louis says, not wanting it to sound like a question because he knows what Harry’s answer would be if he had phrased it as a question. Now that football practice is over, he has a little time afterschool free, until baseball starts that is. He is supposed to go straight home, but where Harry works is kind of on the way, not really.

“No. I can walk,” Harry answers, putting a finality to his tone that Louis just will not accept. No boyfriend… friend… of his is going to be walking to work in the this rain. Harry’s workplace is at least a mile away. He will be soaked by the time he gets there then have to work several hours in wet clothes. He will get sick, and Louis hates the thought of that because he won’t have anyone to take care of him.

“Hazza, it’s fucking pouring outside. Let me take you work. Please?” Louis begs, nodding towards the window which now shows a dark sky pouring down large drops of rain. Harry is only wearing a long sleeved T-shirt, no rain coat or anything. Louis would even bet that Harry doesn’t even have an umbrella. He probably doesn’t even own one.  

“Don’t you have to go home as soon as you’re out of school? Don’t your parents like time you or something?” Harry points out, as if he has won the argument, but Louis is already two steps of ahead of him. He already has a plan.

“I’ll tell them I am taking Liam home,” Louis whispers, not wanting Liam to respond to his name. He knows his friend would go along with the lie, but he thinks Liam is suspicious of something between them, therefore Louis doesn’t want to chance it.

“What will he do for a ride then?” Harry asks, brows drawn together with the question. Louis really wants to point out that Harry is now concerned with Liam’s well being, and how he is going to get home, however, Louis wants to stick to the topic at hand. He will let Harry figure out that he is slowly becoming friends with Liam later.

“He’s taking the bus. Wants to talk to Cordelia.” Louis bobs his eyebrows up and down suggestively until realization strikes Harry’s features, his eyes widening, his pretty red mouth shaping into a small ‘o’. Louis came in that same mouth earlier that day. He shakes his head to rid himself of the memories, dick already hardening just from the thought. Focus. He must focus. Right. What were they talking about? Yes. Louis giving Harry a ride, and not in the sexy way even though he kind of does want to hop on Harry’s dick like a pogo stick. Maybe someday, but for now a ride to work will just have to do. See, Louis can totally focus even when Harry’s mouth is slightly agape not even six inches away. He is a focusing machine. He may as well be a fucking microscope because that is how well he is focusing.

“Fine. If you want to give me a ride, then I would appreciate it,” Harry says, finally closing his mouth. Thank God because Louis was about .3 seconds away from another fantasy involving Harry’s mouth. He’s a teenage boy. Who could blame him really?

“I would love to give you a ride,” Louis replies winking, because he can’t help himself. Harry walked right into that one, really. Plus, even though they are fucking around, Louis still loves fucking with Harry when it comes to sexual innuendos. It always seems to catch him off guard, sporting a look that is the most adorable mixture of surprised and confused. Then he always, always, scrunches his nose, coughs, and clears his throat. Afterwards, at least half of the time, he squirms a bit in his position, shuffling his feet or moving his hands in someway. Louis has this down to a science. Now if only he understood science half as much as he understood Harry, he would be doing great academically.

The final bell rings and Harry finally stops sputtering at Louis’ comment, which is a fucking shame because it is a look he is quite fond of on Harry. “Come on. Let’s go,” Louis says, grabbing his books tapping Harry’s bicep. Harry places his homework in the only notebook Louis has ever seen him carry,  then grabs his brown leather bound journal that he takes practically everywhere with him. Louis has suppressed the urge to steal it on more than occasion, desperately wanting to know what kinds of thoughts Harry has written within its pages. He feels like he would get a glimpse into Harry’s brilliant mind, and it makes him itch to take it and read it, however he won’t. He would never betray Harry’s trust like that. He will just have to wait until Harry trusts him enough to possibly read it.

They walk out of the school together, running through the cold rain to get to Louis’ car. They are practically soaked when they get in, both slamming the doors to keep out the wetness that seems to have taken over the town. Louis is shivering as he quickly starts the car and turns the heater on, rubbing his hands together. He gets cold easily, and it makes him quite grumpy, if he’s honest, but he’s not going to complain. The rain got Harry into his car, and for that he is thankful. He is always thankful for being able to spend just a bit more time with Harry when he can. Especially, when they can be alone.

Harry must also be cold because his nipples are hard, poking against his shirt making Louis want to bite them, but he refrains, somehow. He doesn't know how one man can be so devastatingly gorgeous and not even know it. Harry seems to have gone through a bit of a growth spurt recently, without Louis even noticing. Where at the beginning of the year, he only had an inch or so height advantage over Louis, now he is much taller. Louis shivers remembering what had occured in the stairwell earlier when Harry had practically manhandled him against the wall. His legs look impossibly long crammed into the tight confines of Louis’ car. Louis wants to kiss his ankle and work his way up. It may take months to get to his destination, but he would be perfectly happy because it would be fucking worth it.

“Just need to text my mom to let her know that I will be a bit late,” Louis explains, pulling out his phone. Harry nods as Louis texts her. She is way more lenient than Mark. As long as she knows where he is, she is generally fine. It is Mark that is the asshole about it. Then again, Mark is an asshole about everything. Louis turns the windshield wipers on their highest setting and maneuvers his way out of the school parking lot. He bites his lip, thinking about the question that has been on his mind for the last few days. He just never had an opportunity to bring it up. He didn’t want to ask while they were around their friends and in a note or text seemed far too impersonal. Now, seems to be the best time.

“So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Going to your family’s house or something?” Louis holds his breath, waiting to see if Harry would actually answers his question. He tried to phrase it in the most non threatening way he could think of, wanting to make it sound casual and not at all like he is prying. He’s not. He is just impossibly curious about Harry’s family. Harry generally avoids questions about his family, but has been opening up a bit more since their shopping trip together. It makes Louis’ chest feel warm and his heart feel too big for his rib cage.

“Umm-- nothing. One of my mom’s jobs is in retail, so she has to work to prepare for Black Friday, and we don’t have the money to buy food. My grandparents are all dead, my dad wants nothing to do with me, and Gemma is going to Virginia to spend it with her roommates family,” Harry answers after what feels like an eternity. Louis tries his hardest to keep his expression neutral, and not shocked, but his gut drops and his heart aches with Harry’s admission, however he knows he can’t let Harry know that. Harry would just shut off again if he thought Louis felt any sort of pity. The problem is, Louis doesn’t feel pity for Harry. He more so wants to share Harry’s pain, take some of it away and off of Harry’s shoulders. He wants to make Harry happy. He chances a glance at Harry, whose gaze is is trained out the window, not really looking at anything. His cheeks are red either from cold or embarrassment, and he looks almost sad, even though his voice gave none of that away.

“Why don’t you-- um-- come and eat dinner with my family?” Louis asks hesitantly, unsure if Harry would see it as a handout. It’s not. He just really cares for Harry and absolutely hates the thought of him being alone in a house with no food on a holiday that is supposed to be about family and food. It makes him sick even thinking about it. How is that fair? How is it fair that there are so many starving people in the world, yet so many undeserving billionaires? Why does his family have food, but Harry’s does not? What kind of God would allow someone to go hungry, never knowing when they are going to get their next meal?

“No,” Harry rejects, eyes snapping to Louis. He clearly saw it as a pity invite when that is the exactly what Louis didn’t want it to be. So, Louis tries a different approach. It may be dirty, but Louis never promised to play fair.

“I would like to spend the Holiday with you though,” Louis says, glancing away from the road to pout at Harry for a brief second before looking back. He sees Harry’s features soften, which means that this new tactic may be working.

“I don’t want to intrude on your family, Lou. There are seven of you; they don’t need another mouth to feed,” Harry argues, and dammit, Louis really thought he had won. He will not be deterred though. Harry will not spend Thanksgiving alone even if Louis has to drag him out of his house kicking and screaming. He will do that too. He knows where Harry lives.

“Mom loves cooking and always makes too much food. She would love to have you, I’m sure,” Louis responds, trying to fight Harry with logic, which tends to work in his favor. Harry is a sucker for logic it seems.

“Your family won’t like me though.” Harry gestures to his clothes, his voice slightly sad, which breaks Louis’ heart. It is as if Harry has thought a lot about this subject. He may be correct when it comes to Mark, but Louis doesn’t think his mom would outright hate him because of the way that he dresses.

“My sisters loved you, Hazza. They still talk about you, and you only met them once,” Louis tells him, and Harry looks like he is seriously considering the question for the first time. Thank God, because Louis is almost at Mac’s Music. He has been driving slowly on purpose, trying to give them more time to talk about it, and not give Harry an excuse to leave. He can’t leave if the car is moving.

“What about Mark?” Harry asks, and Louis knew it was coming. He had just hoped that Harry would agree first.

“I’m not gonna bullshit you and tell you that he will be fine. He will be an ass the entire time and will probably talk about religion. I don’t want you to feel like you have to hide who you are Haz, so it is up to you on how you want to answer him. I want you to come, regardless, though. I would like to spend the holiday together .” Louis puts emphasis on the last word, trying to convey that he wants him around. That he likes being around him and not just to get off. It’s important to Louis that Harry understands this. That Harry understands he is important, and he has not been forgotten.

“Okay. Fine. If your mom says it’s okay, then I’ll come,” Harry says, but Louis doesn't miss the nervous shake in his voice. It’s barely there, but Louis has gotten a bit better at reading Harry. Reading Harry is like a fine art. Harry is subtle. His words usually have a double meaning, and he likes metaphors. If he doesn't want to outright answer a question, he will usually ask one of his own instead that is similar enough to the original question to confuse the other person into changing the subject. He is tricky, but Louis is finally starting to interpret all of the little things that make up the bigger picture.

“I’ll ask her as soon as I get home and text you her answer,” Louis says, parking on the street in front of the shop, and turning to give Harry a bright smile. It has mostly stopped raining, and Louis couldn’t be happier. Harry won’t be alone for Thanksgiving. Harry won’t have to starve on Thanksgiving. Louis looks around before he kisses Harry goodbye and waves at Willow through the shop window, who waves back with a big smile. He drives home a little too quickly, and calls for his mom as soon as he walks through the door.

“In the kitchen!” She calls back, voice muffled by the walls and door separating them. Louis toes off his shoes and throws his backpack into some random location as he makes his way into the kitchen eager to get an answer to Harry.

“Umm--- got a second?” He asks her, watching as she starts to peel a potato, preparing something for dinner. He goes to wash his hands, intending to help her.

“Yeah, what’s up, Lou?” She asks, glancing from her potatoes to Louis as he dries his hands. She follows him with her blue eyes, so very much like his own, as he comes up beside her, picking up a knife and beings cutting carrots. Louis suddenly feels nervous. He has no idea why, his mom isn’t like Mark.

“You know my friend Harry? The one the girls were talking about the other day when they saw him at the game?” Louis asks, finishing the first one quickly.

“Yeah, Boobear, why?” She asks, looking at him, dark brows drawn in confusion.

“Well, his mom has to work on Thanksgiving, and he doesn't really have any other family. I was wondering if he could join us?” Louis asks, expression hopeful. He wants to tell his mom just enough about Harry’s situation to bring out her motherly instincts, but not enough to upset Harry if he finds out.

His mom’s expression softens immediately, and he knows exactly what she is going to says before she even gets the words out. “Of course he can! Stupid companies taking people away from their families on holidays. It’s terrible, really. He is more than welcome to join us. One more person isn’t going to kill us, plus the girls seem to love him.” She smiles at him.

“Okay. Awesome, thanks, Mom. You’re the best,” Louis replies returning her smile.

 

____________

 

Harry is nervous. He has no idea why the fuck he even agreed to this. He found the most basic black shirt he owns and paired it with his loosest fitting skinny jeans with no holes. He still is wearing all black, and he still knows he appears gothic, however it will have to do. He even put some product in his hair, using it to keep the curls out his face. He still feels like Louis’ step-dad is going to hate him. He looks at the clock nervously, resisting the urge to pick at his cuticles or worse. He hasn’t been this nervous in a very long time. He needs something to relieve it. He glances to his night stand drawer, but instead gets up and starts pacing the room, biting at his already mangled nail beds. His jumps when he hears his notification tone go off. He pulls his phone out of his pocket, seeing Louis’ smiling face with a message saying ‘here!’ with a little heart beside it. Harry takes a deep breath, and wipes his hands on the front of his jeans. He can do this.

“Hey,” Louis greets a little too cheerfully as soon as Harry opens the door. Harry smiles at him, folding his legs into the car. It is the first time Harry has seen him since their school let out on Tuesday for Thanksgiving break. Even though it has only been two days, it still feels like a lifetime. Harry kind of missed him. He looks beautiful in a dark blue, knit sweater with horizontal stripes in various shades of red and light blue paired with dark jeans. Louis has the sleeves of the sweater bunched up, exposing tan forearms that Harry has the desire to bite. He would if he wasn’t so fucking anxious.  

“Hey,” he replies nervously, resisting the urge to jog his leg. The urge wins out, the whole car moving with the movement. He freezes when he feels a warm palm on his knee.

“Don’t be nervous,” Louis says softly, blue eyes staring into his. He then grabs Harry’s hand and brings it up to his lips, kissing it tenderly. He drops it back down on his knee, keeping it in his own as he starts driving them back towards Louis home. Harry realizes he has no clue where Louis lives. He has never seen his house. He suspects it’s nice, but has no idea. The car is quite as they drive, as if Louis senses Harry’s nerves. He never lets go of his hand though, a constant steadying presence helping him resist the urge to fidget. Harry realizes that Louis doesn't live that far away from him at all, just a mile or so. Louis’ house is fairly large and made of  brick. It has two stories and a nice little porch with a swing. There are various toys out in the yard that clearly belong to young children. It is much nicer than his own, that is for sure.

“This is it,” Louis announces releasing Harry’s hand and pulling the key out of the ignition. Harry takes another deep breath before he gets out of the car, following Louis’ lead. He has already decided he is going to try his best to bite his tongue when talk of religion comes up. He doesn’t want to be banned from Louis completely. He doesn't want to have to hide their relationship even more than they already do. He can fake it. He has before, so he can do it again. He stills himself, slipping on the mask that he is so used to wearing. He has been letting it come off more and more around Louis, but he can’t today. Today he has to make a good impression.

When Louis opens the door, Harry’s senses are overwhelmed with… everything. He hears people talking loudly, the sounds of little girls chatting and giggling. He smells the delightful aroma of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. He sees a crowded living room full of oversized furniture, a football game playing on the television. Harry is so used to being alone in a home, being surrounded by people and sounds and smells is slightly jarring for him, but he takes a deep breath and steps over the threshold behind Louis. Louis glances at him worriedly, but Harry gives him what he hopes to be a small reassuring smile. It may come out as a grimace, but he isn’t sure. He absentmindedly scratches at the scars on his arm through his shirt sleeve, as he tends to do when he is nervous. Fuck. He can do this. He can be a normal human being for once.

“Hazzy!” Harry hears the scream of a little girl, and before he even has time to register who it is from, he feels two small arms wrap tightly around his waist, a face being buried into his thigh. He freezes unsure of what to do glancing at Louis for help. The bastard just laughs and shrugs so Harry pats her head awkwardly. He is pretty sure it isn’t socially acceptable to pet a child much like one would pet a dog, but it’s all he can think of. Before he knows it, her twin comes to join her, burrowing her face into his other thigh. Now Louis is outright cackling, and Harry kind of wants to punch him.

“Harry, you remember my sisters, Phoebe and Daisy,” Louis asks with a sweet smile, obviously trying not to laugh anymore at Harry’s discomfort.

“Which one is which?” Harry whispers to Louis, looking down a the identical girls. He doesn’t think he will ever be able to tell them apart, but he knows he would hate to be called by the wrong name. He could at least try to remember who is wearing what.

“Phoebe is wearing the brown dress with the turkey, and Daisy is wearing the orange sweater with the family of turkeys,” Louis responds smiling at Harry’s question. Harry nods, trying to remember that, then he makes the mistake of looking up, seeing four pairs of eyes on him. He knows Lottie and Fizzy from that day in the park. Just like that day, Lottie waves, and Fizzy looks at him, blue eyes squinted with interest. Then Harry’s gaze lands on Louis’ mom. He recognizes her from the night at the game. She is smiling at him brightly, and Louis looks so much like her it is strange. Finally, and unfortunately, Harry’s eyes come to land on Mark. Mark is a big guy with a crew cut. Harry remembers seeing him that night as well, but he is exactly how Harry had pictured him from Louis’ description.

“Alright, girls, I think he understands that you missed him,” Louis says, bending at the knees to grab Phoebe and Daisy’s arms, pulling them off of Harry’s legs. They don’t move too far away from him though, instead looking up at him as if in awe. Harry is so confused, but decides to just let it be. He needs to concentrate now on making a good impression. He is meeting Louis’ family. This seems important. Harry feels sick thinking about just how important, the acid turning in his empty stomach. He takes another deep breath before he smiles at the room around him. Niall always says that he could be charming if he wants, so now is a good time to try out that theory.

“Harry, it’s so good to finally meet you! The girls have talked so much about you, and you only met them once. You made such a good impression on them.” Louis’ mom finally breaks the awkward tension that has settled in the room with a wide smile. She comes up to Harry and hugs him warmly. Harry is so taken aback by the action he freezes for a few seconds before finally, and very awkwardly, he returns her hug. He needs to get it fucking together. Jesus.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Mrs. Tomlinson,” Harry responds because, yes, he does in fact have manners. His mom may not be around very much anymore, but she did raise him right. Things just... changed.

“Call me Jay,” she tells him, releasing him and pinching his left cheek just a bit before taking her daughter’s hands and pulling them away. Harry takes a moment to look around the living room. A giant flat screen TV sits atop an even bigger entertainment center filled with electronics. Harry can see an Xbox, Playstation, and blu ray player among others that he isn’t even sure what they are. The room is large and painted a very light shade of blue. Dozens of family pictures adorn the walls alongside pictures of bible verses and other ‘Christianly’ decorations that Harry barely suppresses an eyeroll at. The living room is about twice the size of Harry’s with so much more of everything.

“I prefer Mr. Tomlinson.” Harry is startled to hear Mark’s voice for the first time. He even sounds like an asshole, and of course he would prefer Mr. Tomlinson. Heaven forbid someone give him anything but respect. Harry has always had the belief that respect should be earned, not given, but Harry bites his tongue and nods. He has a feeling he is going to be doing that a lot over the course of the next several hours.

“Well, you boys are just in time. Thanksgiving dinner is almost ready,” Jays says, breaking the tension again. Harry can feel his body start to stiffen. He just wants to grab Louis’ hand and squeeze it, needing that strength, but he can’t. Fuck he should have never agreed to this. This was a mistake, a big one. Why did he ever think that Louis’ family could like him or would like him for that matter? He is weird and so unimportant, it is pathetic. He really shouldn’t have come.

“Stop,” Louis whispers, when the entire family turns to go towards the kitchen. Harry shoots him a confused look. He feels it when Louis puts his hand on his lower back. He looks around, but the entire family seems to have disappeared into the kitchen. “Stop second guessing yourself. I can see it written all over your face. They will love you. It will be fine.” Louis’ voice is barely above a whisper, but it makes Harry feel so much better. He can feel the tension somewhat leave his body at Louis’ words. He smiles at Louis who returns it, then makes his way into the kitchen behind Louis. When they get into the kitchen, Harry quickly notices that off to the side is the dining room where the family are already sat around a table full of food. Harry doesn’t think he has seen that much food in his life, and he isn’t sure where to even start. He can’t even decide where his gaze should land. Holy shit. Harry feels his stomach growl at the smell, and his mouth waters. So this is what Thanksgiving is like for well off families?

There are two open seats at the table. Louis takes the one beside Daisy, while Harry sits next to him with Fizzy on his other side. He tries to keep the look of amazement from the assortment of food in front of him off his face, but he doesn't think he can. It is just so much, and their home is so nice. Everything is just… better than anything he has ever experienced first hand. The dining room is large, with a cedar table. The walls are painted a deep maroon, a brass chandelier hanging from the ceiling directly above the table providing a soft light. The table alone looks like it may have cost the same amount as a month’s rent for Harry’s mom. Harry has never felt so poor in his life, seeing what other people have. He has been to Niall’s house, but Naill isn’t super well off. His family is lower middle class, with a small but nice home. Nothing like this.

“Alright, we are going to say grace. Since Harry is here, we won’t be holding hands, but everyone please bow your heads,” Mark demands, who is sitting at the head of the table, chest puffed out looking very much like a proud rooster. If he had red hair, the resemblance would be uncanny. Harry bows his head, but an idea pops into his head. He smirks as he listens for the prayer to start.

“Heavenly Father,” Mark begins, and Harry sneaks his hand under the table, a long dark table cloth covering his movements mostly. “We thank you for this meal,” Mark continues, and Harry puts his hand on Louis’ knee. He can feel Louis stiffen. “This is a day we are supposed to reflect on things we are thankful for, Lord, and we are so thankful for the many blessings you give to us.” Harry stops paying attention, as he trails his hand up Louis’ inner thigh, making Louis squirm. Louis glares at him, but Harry just smirks. He thinks this is the best prayer he has ever been a part of. Right as Mark and the rest of the family say ‘amen’ Harry grabs Louis’ crotch making him yelp in surprise. All gazes turn to Louis, and his cheeks flame a rather lovely shade of pink.

“Louis, are you alright?” Jay asks, a mixture of concern and confusion marring her features.

“Yeah, I’m fine, Mom. Sorry. I just-- uh-- accidentally kicked the table and hurt my toe. I’m sorry for disrupting the prayer,” Louis lies, and if Harry didn’t know any better, he would have actually believed him. It is no shock that Louis is a convincing liar. The only sign that something is amiss is the way Louis fidgets with his shirt, adjusting and readjusting it under the table while he looks down, shaking the hair out of his eyes.

“Amen,” Harry says with a huge smile, and he feels Louis punch his thigh hard. He just laughs, and the rest of the family is staring at them confusedly. They don’t say anything and just start passing food around the table, grabbing whatever they want. It is overwhelming, and Harry isn’t sure what to grab first. He doesn't have to decide, though, because Louis begins putting food on both of their plates. Turkey first, followed by mashed potatoes and gravy, then he adds too many sides for Harry to count, a little bit of everything and finishes of their plates with a roll for each of them.

“So, Harry. Where is it that your family goes to church?” Mark asks and they both knew these questions were coming, but that doesn’t stop Louis from visibly stiffening beside of him.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. “My mom normally works on Sundays, so we don’t get to go often, but when we do, we go to Fairmont Baptist,” Harry responds, easily. It’s not technically a lie. That was the church he went to growing up back before he started refusing to go, and his mom didn’t see the point anymore. Fairmont is also on the edge of town, so he doesn’t expect Mark to know much about it. Mark nods his head, seeming to like his answer, and Harry almost sighs in relief. Louis just looks shocked by his answer. Harry can lie if he wants.

“That’s a shame. Working on Sundays. I remember when there used to be laws against it. No one should have to work on the Lord’s day of rest, but that’s the messed up world we live in,” Marks says shaking his head like it’s the worst news he has ever heard. Fuck. Not rolling his eyes is starting to become very fucking difficult. He knew it would be, but he wasn’t prepared for just how difficult. “You probably don’t know much about the Bible, Son, since you don’t go to church any more, but it says you shouldn’t work on Sunday which is the Lord’s day.”

No, it isn’t. Saturday is technically the ‘seventh day’ of the week and the only sabbath, but Christians started worshiping on Sunday because that was the day that Christ had supposedly risen from the tomb. Since then, Sunday has been widely believed to be the sabbath by most Christians, even though they are wrong. “I did know that, Sir,” Harry responds instead, taking a bite of his turkey which is probably the best turkey he has ever tasted.

“Good, good. So you at least know something about the Holy Book. What’s your favorite bible verse?” Mark asks, looking at Harry with squinted eyes. Harry knows this is a test. Well Harry’s got Bible verses for days. He has quite a few memorized or is at least able to paraphrase.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. Exodus 21: 7-8. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding. In all the ways you submit to him, he will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.” He smirks at Louis as he says it, and Louis’ eyes go comically wide almost choking on the bite of mashed potatoes he just shoved into his mouth. He knows he chose one that Mark would approve of, but it also has quite the double meaning given his and Louis’ conversation. It also has the word ‘straight’ in it, which is perfect, isn’t it?

“That’s a good verse, Son,” Marks compliments, chewing on some green beans in thought. Harry hates that Mark calls people ‘Son’. There is just something weird and creepy about it. Harry isn’t sure what, but something about it makes his stomach roll. Harry seems to have passed whatever test Mark was giving him because the conversation moves to Lottie and Fizzy after that.

 

__________

 

“I got five!” Phoebe exclaims happily, moving her little blonde girl piece five spots, cheering excitedly when she realizes it has landed on a ladder. Harry cheers with her, smiling brightly. It is the strangest thing, seeing Harry sitting on his living room  floor playing a board game with himself and his two youngest sisters while the rest of his family sits around them, talking. He still has no idea how Phoebe and Daisy got him to agree to this. After dinner, they just pouted a bit, made their eyes big and said ‘pwease, Hazzy’ in the cutest little voices, and he caved. Perhaps Louis should try that.

“Your turn, Hazzy,” Daisy tells him, matter-of-factly, as if neither of them knew who’s turn it was.

“Oh. My apologies. I didn’t realize,” Harry acts, bowing his head to Daisy prompting her to giggle. The whole scene is making Louis’ heart feel warm and almost too big for his chest. When Harry lands on a chute sending him down the board, he pouts and the girls giggle. Louis even laughs because it’s adorable. He has the sudden urge to kiss his pout away, but he can’t. If Harry were a girl, his parents wouldn’t think twice if he had done it. So why is this so fucking different?

“Ha ha ha ha. I won!” Daisy boasts two seconds later, moving her piece to the 100th spot and cheering loudly. Harry pretends to pout, and Phoebe just shrugs, not really ever having been competitive, much like Harry. Louis for his part also pouts, pretending to be so disappointed that he lost a game made for children. Daisy sticks out her tongue, blowing a raspberry which has Harry laughing. He looks beautiful like this. Louis knows Harry isn’t super comfortable around children, but he seems at home with his sisters.

“Well. I better get Harry home,” Louis says then standing, and without thinking he reaches his hand out to help Harry up. If his family thinks it’s less than bro-like behavior, they don’t say anything. They all just stand, preparing to bid Harry farewell. Jay hugs him first, and Louis watches as Harry visibly stiffens for half a second before he returns it. Fizzy and Lottie opt for a fist bump because they are to the age where hugging isn’t cool. Mark actually, and this is the fucking miracle of the century, shakes Harry’s hand. Finally, Harry hunches down for Phoebe and Daisy to hug him, murmuring tearful goodbyes into his shirt, and making him promise to come back and visit. When they get outside, Harry takes a deep breath, as if he needs to steady himself. Louis feels the same way. He has been on edge all night.

“Okay, who are you, and what have you done with my moody Harold?” Louis questions, with a grin as they walk to Louis’ car.

“Your Harold?” Harry asks with a smirk.

“That’s not the point,” Louis says, getting into the car and shutting the door. He places his hand on Harry’s knee when he gets in, glad to finally have some point of contact that isn’t strictly on the friendly side of sorta, kinda, boyfriends. Harry smiles at him as he shuts the door, the cab now mostly dark.

“Why do you look so shocked?” Harry asks, grabbing his seatbelt, and buckling up.

“I don’t know. First, you pull Bible verses out of your ass, then you make up some shit about going to Church, then you talk all throughout dinner, when it took me forever to get you to utter a single word to me, then you play a board game with my little sisters. Not to mention the fact that you fucking groped me during Mark’s prayer, not that I am complaining about any of it, mind you. I am just a bit shocked. I didn’t expect it to go that way at all. I was halfway prepared for you to argue with them, which I would have been perfectly okay with,” Louis rants as he starts the car and pulls out of the driveway, and Harry is… laughing? He can’t see him very well in the low light of the cab, but there is definitely a smile on his face, and the unmistakable sound of Harry’s laugh flowing from his direction. Why is he laughing?

“I’m sorry. You just look adorable when you rant. Your voice gets all high pitched and squeaky, and you do all of these hand gestures. You talk so fast, I can barely keep up with you,” Harry responds, and Louis can make him out wiping his face with two large thumbs. Harry can’t see it, but Louis is glaring at him. “And to answer your questions, I decided before I even set foot in your living room that I would be on my best behavior. I don’t want them to ban me completely from seeing you. I like your sisters. They are sweet, and of course I would grope you during a prayer. Did you really expect anything less of me?”

Louis doesn’t take his eyes off the road, but smirks because, no, he didn’t really expect anything different. It took him by surprise, yes, but he really shouldn’t have been all that surprised in the grand scheme of things. It was kind of funny, afterall. He is also very grateful that Harry at least tired with his family. He doesn’t want to be permanently banned from Harry either, but he was prepared to be even more sneaky if worse came to worst. He also doesn’t want Harry to pretend to be someone else around them either. Of course not, but if he chose to then that was his call. He wasn’t exactly pretending to be someone he isn’t, he just grazed over the details. In fact, Louis isn’t sure if Harry outright lied at all. His mom probably did used to take him to church, and he probably did know that it used to be a law not to work on Sundays. He just had the feeling that Harry perhaps wasn’t saying everything he was thinking.

“Well. Thank you. My family loved you, and it was nice, you know, having you at my house and stuff,” Louis says, placing his hand back on Harry’ knee, keeping it there. Harry intertwines their fingers, making Louis smile. He loves how much more open Harry has been with him lately. He still thinks Harry hasn’t told him everything or that he has even breeched the surface, but he hasn’t expected him, too. Trust takes time, and Louis can be patient.

“Thank you, for umm-- inviting me. I know I can be a bit of an ass, but it was nice not spending it hungry and alone, I suppose. Your family is nice, well except Mark who was wrong on several different occasions. Your mom is a good cook. I had fun,” Harry says, and there is a vulnerability to his voice that wasn’t there before. It is just barely there, but Louis can still make it out.

“You’re not an ass. You’re just… into self preservation. I can’t fault you for that.” Louis brings Harry’s hands up to his lips, kissing his knuckles. “You have a nice ass though,” Louis adds, attempting to lighten the mood. It works because Harry chuckles as Louis pulls up to the curb in front of Harry house.

“Well-- umm, text me?” Harry asks, glancing at his dark house. Louis hates the idea of Harry going in there alone, spending the rest of the night that way, but there is nothing he can really do about it. Maybe he can go home and call him or something. He can just tell his parents that he is talking to Willow. They won’t have to know it’s Harry.

“I’ll call you when I get home, how about that?” Louis asks the idea forming in his head.

“You don’t have to do that. You just spent a few hours with me,” Harry responds as if he can’t fathom a reason why anyone would want to spend hours with him then talk to him on the phone. Louis hates that. He hates how insecure Harry is. He wishes he could find whoever made him this way and beat them. Fuck beating the gay out of people, they should be more concerned with beating the asshole out of people who could hurt Harry. He has been getting glimpses of who he thinks Harry was before whatever happened to him to make him so distrusting lately, and it hurts his heart to think someone could have caused him so much pain. Don’t get him wrong. He likes who Harry is now, maybe even more than likes, but he would have liked to have known Harry before.

“I want to, and plus you have to tell me all of the things Mark was wrong about, and how he was wrong,” Louis jokes, making Harry smile.

“It’s a deal if you’re sure you wanna know,” Harry says, as he reaches for the handle. Does Louis want to know? Does he want to continue questioning everything he thought he knew?

“Of course, I do,” Louis says, then before Harry can open the door, he pulls their lips together, kissing Harry sweetly. Harry lets out a surprised gasps, but melts into it after a few seconds. His lips are soft and he tastes like the piece of pumpkin pie he hate for dessert. Louis kind of wanted to lick whipped cream off of him in other more inappropriate spots while he watched Harry eat it, but that is besides the point. Louis breaks this kiss too soon and continues, “I’m just glad Mark didn’t rant about politics.”

“There is always next time,” Harry responds, then opens the door, kissing Louis on the cheek and gets out, waving. Next time.

Chapter Text

“image”

Oh, no, here it is again

I need to know, when I will fall into decay...

Somethin' wrong, with every plan of my life

I didn't really

Notice that you've been here…- Lacuna Coil

 

Harry takes a deep breath. He can’t fucking believe he is getting ready to do this. He looks at Liam sitting at the lunch table with Niall a few feet away. He almost turns around and walks away, much preferring to eat his lunch in a dirty bathroom stall rather than actually doing what he is about to do. He has to do this, though. He has to for Louis, so he takes the few steps coming to a stop at the head of the table, looking down at Niall and Liam.

“Hey, Haz! Wanna eat with us?” Niall asks, and Harry glances at Liam who smiles and nods in confirmation. He releases a breath as he sits his tray down with shaking hands beside Niall. He briefly considers putting this conversation off longer, but he can’t. This is the one day a month when Louis spends his lunch period in Bible Club, so he needs to do it now or Louis will figure out what he is up to. He slides into the seat beside Niall, attempting to smile at them both, but he knows it is probably more of a grimace.

Niall looks at him worriedly out of the corner of his eye, probably trying to figure out why the fuck Harry has decided to sit with them during lunch. Harry is trying to figure out the exact same thing, so he fucking gets it. Louis usually acts as a buffer between himself and Liam, but Louis isn’t there today therefore the other two boys probably expected Harry to not be there either. Willow also usually eats lunch with them, bringing her friend Tara who is very nice, but they are also in Bible Club. It is strange to go from eating lunch with one person to five, however, Harry doesn’t really allow himself to think about it too much, or else he will freak out.

“How are you?” Liam asks, looking at Harry, and Harry panics for a brief moment. It’s not like he hasn’t spoken to Liam before. They’ve spoken a few times, it’s just… this is different. It is what they are going to speak about that is the issue. Harry swallows and tries to remember to breathe. He can do this. He can be a normal socially functioning human being for once in his life. He can do this for Louis. Niall seems to sense something big is happening because he stops talking and looks at Harry.

“I’m good,” Harry mumbles, but then remembers he is supposed to follow that up. “How are you?”

“Great,” Liam smiles, and Harry realizes that maybe Liam isn’t so bad. He has always been nice to Harry, even before Louis came into the picture. Now that Harry thinks about it, Liam has never really said anything mean or hurtful towards him. Harry should maybe give him a chance. He decides to plow on since Niall is staying abnormally quiet.

“Listen. I actually need your help with something,” Harry starts, and Liam looks so surprised it would be funny if Harry wasn’t so serious about this. Liam, to his credit, recovers quickly, shutting his mouth and lets his dark eyes fall back into a somewhat normal shape. Niall, however, still looks completely shocked. He even stops eating which is the mechanism that Harry uses to gage Niall’s health.

“Yeah, of course, man. What do you need?” Liam asks enthusiastically. He puts down his fork to give Harry his undivided attention. Harry swallows, asking himself for the one hundred and thirty third time if this is a good idea. It is too late now. It is already out there, and Niall probably won’t let him back out even if he tried.

“Well, I wanted to get Louis a birthday gift, but I’m not sure what to get him. You’re his best friend, so I was hoping you could help,” Harry says, eyes cast down, so he doesn’t have to look at Liam when he asks him for help. It is honestly killing him. He hates asking people for help, especially people that probably don’t like him, but he is doing it for Louis. He wants Louis’ birthday to be special. He has already gotten him a Christmas gift, but he is at a loss for the birthday aspect. He doesn’t want to bring it up with Louis because then he will know.

“Oh. That’s so nice of you. I don’t know how much help I can be, though. When I asked him, he told me not to get him anything, and that his birthday isn’t a big deal because it’s around Christmas.” Liam finishes the statement with a shrug, a small pout on his lips. He probably thinks that he didn’t help Harry at all, but on the contrary, Harry’s mind is now whirling with information and a plan. He knows exactly what he wants to do for Louis, and the good news is that it really won’t cost that much money. This is good seeing as he spent all of his last pay on Louis’ Christmas present and buying a present for his mom and Niall. His next pay will probably go to his mom to help her pay the power bill, so it doesn’t get shut off. She doesn't know that he knows, but he does.

Fuck. If he is going to pull this off, it is going to have to be at his house, which means Louis will have to actually come to his house. His mom will probably be working or something anyway, even if it will be Christmas Eve, so that won’t be an issue. He thinks he will be able to manage it, but he will need to talk to Louis about it first.

 

___________

 

“How was Bible Club?” Harry asks turning around to straddle his chair. Louis watches the way his thighs strain with the movement, glancing down to see his tight jeans stretched at his crotch. Harry asked him a question. Right. It was about Bible Club, and Louis is surprised to hear him ask that. They usually pretend Louis doesn’t go to Bible Club once a month, much preferring to talk about other things. Harry is smiling. He seems to be in a good mood, and Louis wonders what he missed during lunch. Miss Moore told them to work in small groups to discuss the concept of Voice in creative writing. Louis thought it was funny that Liam didn’t even bother asking him to work together, knowing that Louis and Harry would partner up like always.

“Oh. It was fine. We talked about Christmas and the miraculous birth of Jesus,” Louis responds, honestly. He has heard the story a million and seven times, so it was kind of boring. He has heard it all before, and, as miraculous as a virgin birth is, he isn’t shocked by it anymore.

“You do know that Jesus, if he even was a real person, most likely wasn’t born on December 25th, right?” Harry asks, and what?

“Yes, he was. December 25th in a manger,” Louis tells him, because he thinks he would know better than Harry about this. He literally just came from a discussion on it.

“Nope. Most biblical scholars believe he was born in the spring, probably around June because that is when the shepherds would have been watching over their flocks, plus there was an astronomical phenomena that happened around that time in the year 2 B.C.E that could have been mistaken for the Star of Bethlehem,” Harry informs him, sitting straighter and intertwining his fingers together, placing them on Louis’ desk. Louis tries to keep the shocked expression off his face and silently tells his dick to settle down because there is something ridiculously hot about Harry when he shows his intelligence. What he said, though, finally sinks in. Biblical scholars? Astronomical phenomena? No.

“Then why would they say it was on December 25th? What’s the point in lying?” Louis asks, and he thinks it is a valid question.

“Same reasons as Halloween. Except this time, they were trying to convert the Pagans of Rome to Christianity. The date in December directly correlates with the Roman Winter Solstice festival called, Saturnalia. Other Pagan religions also celebrated the Winter Solstice, like the Germanic holiday Yule. The Church, in true Christian fashion, stole the traditions and made it about the birth of Jesus instead of the solstice to fit their narrative,” Harry tells him, smirk firmly in place. It is the same smirk he has sported when they have had discussions like these before, but now Louis kind of finds it hot. Wait, could what Harry is saying be true? Harry hasn’t lied to him yet, unlike his church. What Harry said about Halloween turned out to be true, as well as those other books the church didn’t include in the Bible. So why would this be any different?

“What kind of traditions?” Louis asks, not being able to keep the curiosity from his tone. Harry smiles, like he is proud of him for asking that question.

“Well gift giving, for example, can be traced back to Saturnalia. They used to give children wax figures during the holiday to represent human sacrifices to Saturn. Christmas Trees have roots in Nordic and Germanic traditions. Their evergreen biology symbolizes immortality, and they were decorated with apples and nuts.” Harry’s voice is firm and unwavering, the statement coming out almost rehearsed, as if he has said it before. Louis’ head feels like it is reeling with information. Not for the first time, Louis thinks that everything he knows and was taught is a lie.

“Okay, they may have borrowed some traditions, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger,” Louis points out, feeling somewhat triumphant because it’s true. So what if Christianity borrowed some traditions, like Harry had said before, they were trying to convert people to the true ways. So what if they stole here and there to save people’s souls.

“Borrowed is such a Christian way of putting it,” Harry says, chuckling humorously. “I am going to be honest with you here. They also stole that story from other religions, as well. There were quite a few Gods who were born of virgins thousands of years before Judaism as a religion even began. Take Mars for example. He was a Roman God. His mother Juno wanted to conceive without her husband, so she sought help from the Goddess, Flora. She became impregnated after touching a magical flower, later giving birth to Mars.”

“That is just absurd. Getting pregnant from a magical flower. That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That sounds more like Disney than religion,” Louis scoffs. He is pretty sure his sisters watched Tangled, and there was a magical flower in that. The story Harry just told is absolutely insane. Louis can’t even fathom how anyone would have believed that.

“Is it really that much less believable than a virgin becoming pregnant after having a dream where an angel visited her saying it would become so? Because it is a story about a God that you don’t believe in, suddenly it is the most bullshit thing you have ever heard.” What? Fuck. Louis stops breathing.

“But…” Louis lets his sentence trail off, his head is spinning. Is a virgin becoming pregnant by God so much different than a virgin conceiving by way of a magical flower? Louis wants to say it is, but, now that Harry has phrased it that way, he knows, logically, it is not. In both stories, divine intervention was at play, but Louis was so quick to brush the other one off as false simply because it sounded crazy to him. It isn’t that much different to the story he currently believes though, is it? Louis automatically dismissed the idea because it wasn’t about his particular God, but now he isn’t so sure.

“Think about it, Lou. You are woman in a time where sex before marriage was punishable by death. You were unwed and realized you were pregnant. So you come up with a lie to tell your overly religious fiance who is a virgin, so he won’t kill you. Isn’t that scenario way more believable than a virgin becoming pregnant with God by God?” Fuck. Harry’s right. Holy fucking shit. Louis feels sick. He just… well… he can’t believe it, but what Harry is saying makes sense. With today’s technology, it would be easy to prove a virgin impregnation as false, but back then? It would have been so simple for a scared young woman to make up that story, so her fiance wouldn’t kill her for being pregnant when it was clearly not his. It is shitty that a woman would feel like she had to do that in the first place since the man who impregnated her wouldn’t have had to fear death.

“Are you okay, Lou?” Harry’s voice breaks into his subconscious, somehow pulling him out of his spiral. He has been staring at Harry the whole time, but he was in a completely different world. Louis blinks a few times, attempting to focus his eyes, to find Harry looking at him almost apologetically. Louis doesn’t know why he looks like he is sorry for something. Harry was just giving Louis information and being logical. Louis realizes he must have been silent for too long, because Harry also looks somewhat worried.

“I’m fine. You were just giving me information. That was... just... that’s a lot to think about,” Louis says honestly, his throat suddenly feeling dry. He tries to swallow, but he feels like he has no spit in his mouth, so it is dry as well. He just feels like everything he has been taught is a lie. Everything he thought and knew to be true simply isn’t. Every single time he and Harry have had one of these conversations, it ends with Louis learning more about his religion than the church has taught him ten years. Over the past few months, the more Louis learns the more it become almost startlingly obvious that religion is flawed. Why should he continue to believe and form his life around something so flawed? Why does he need religion to be a good person? Harry is a wonderful person, and he is without religion. Louis also knows plenty of terrible people who are just as God fearing as himself.

“I have a question,” Harry says, and that gets Louis’ attention. Harry hardly ever asks questions, and he looks really nervous all of the sudden. His feet are now turned inward, and he is playing with his rings, twirling them around his fingers. Louis’ eyes find Harry’s lips to see that they are between his teeth, an obvious sign that Harry is nervous about something. Louis forgets everything he had been thinking about before and focuses on the boy in front of him, sensing that Harry needs him.

“And I hopefully have an answer,” Louis responds, giving Harry a reassuring smile. He hears it when Harry scratches at his arm, the fabric of his shirt making a scraping sound under blunt nails, another tell that Harry is nervous. Louis glances around to find nobody watching, then pats Harry’s hand, hoping to give the other boy some comfort.

“Well-- umm-- I was wondering if it would be possible for you to like, come to my house on Christmas Eve, so we can exchange presents? I know your parents won’t let you actually come, but maybe you could like, sneak out like you did before?” Harry is barely making eye contact, his cheeks matching the shade of his lips. Louis finds it adorable that Harry can go from confidently breaking down Louis’ beliefs about God in one moment, to rambling about Louis coming over the next. He is like a contradiction. Louis really wishes he could kiss him.

“What time?” Louis asks, already coming up with a plan in his head.

“Whatever time you want. It can be after your parents go to bed. I don’t sleep much anyways,” Harry responds with a shrug, finally meeting Louis’ eyes. Louis decides not to comment on the sleep thing, knowing that Harry will just shrug it off. It’s not the first time Harry has told him that he struggles with sleeping, but every time Louis has even tried to approach the subject, Harry simply changes it. Louis figures, like everything else, Harry will come to tell him in his own time.

“It is Christmas Eve, so my parents will probably go to bed early with the girls. I can probably sneak out of my house by like 10pm, if that isn’t too late for you,” Louis tells him, and watches as Harry’s green eyes widen with understanding, as if Harry didn’t actually believe that Louis would say yes.

“No, it’s not too late at all. My mom will probably be working, so that would be perfect actually,” Harry says smiling. Louis is actually surprised Harry thought of this. He purchased Harry’s present a few days ago, hiding it at Willow’s house for now, so his parents wouldn’t get suspicious. Willow’s parents are strict, but not like his, so she is able to kind of get away with more than Louis is. It also isn’t something that is easy to hide. His mom or Mark would have definitely seen it.

“Okay then. Yeah. I can do that. It will be fun.” Louis feels excitement bloom in his chest. He will get to be alone with Harry in his house on his birthday. This may be the best birthday present he has ever had, which isn’t saying much since his birthday mostly gets ignored. He can’t stop the smile that spreads across his face. He knows his eyes are crinkling, but fuck, he is just so happy. He gets to be with Harry on his birthday. They get to spend time together without being surrounded by people or possibly being caught.

“Umm-- I need to warn you. My house is a shit hole, it’s not as nice as yours. Like, it’s drafty and kind of cold because the heat doesn’t really work, and all we have is a fireplace and a few space heaters. The wallpaper is stained and gross. There are splotches of unidentified substances all over the carpet, and it most definitely smells like mold. I would understand if you want to spend your birthday somewhere else. This was probably a bad idea. I didn’t even think about the fact that my house sucks.” Harry drops his head in defeat at the end of his speech, and Louis’ heart breaks just a little bit more. How could Harry possibly think that he wouldn’t want to spend his birthday with him because his house isn’t nice? Louis really wants to kiss the apprehension right out of him, but they are in the middle of class, so he needs to use his words. Louis just knows that his chest aches with something that he can’t put into words, and he really wants to comfort Harry.

“Love, stop that. What your house looks like doesn't matter to me one bit. I don’t care about that. I care about the fact that you asked me to come over, and you want to spend time with me on Christmas Eve. You didn’t even have to get me anything, just that you want me around is enough. I...” Louis pauses before he voices the thought that is on the tip of his tongue, his voice barely above a whisper, too afraid of their classmates overhearing. He licks his lips before he finishes, deciding to go with a variation of what he was about to say. “I like you, a lot.”

“I like you, a lot, too,” Harry murmurs looking down and blushing again. Holy fuck. Louis feels like that whispered sentence is one of the most important things Harry has ever said to him. He doesn't know why, but it just feels pivotal somehow. Like something shifted again, another wall around his heart came crashing down. For once in his life, Louis can’t wait until his birthday. Too bad it is still a few weeks away.

 

__________

 

“Is your mom coming tonight?” Harry hears Louis ask, snapping him out of his thoughts. He looks up when Louis takes a seat in the chair in front of him, looking at him curiously. Harry almost lies, but decides he should go with the truth.

“Yeah. She is bringing her friend Robin,” Harry tells him, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes. He can’t believe she is even coming, and by the surprised look on Louis’ face, he seems to agree with the sentiment. Harry thinks Robin talked her into it, though. Ever since she met him a month ago, he has been meddling a bit in their relationship. Not in a pushy way, but Harry really wants to tell him that there is no way of fixing something so broken. He figures that Robin will get the picture sooner or later, and leave like all of her other failed relationships have before.

“Who’s Robin?” Louis asks, curiously. Harry decides to play it down, knowing Louis will get all happy for his mom. It’s not that Harry isn’t happy, he has just seen it all before. He doesn’t want to have to explain to Louis what happened when Robin eventually leaves their lives like everyone else.

“Just some guy she’s been seeing. Nothing serious. Just like a passing fling,” Harry tells him, and Louis nods in understanding. He didn’t completely lie. Robin could very well be a passing fling. Harry is definitely not going to get attached to him even if he did somehow convince his mom to come to his Holiday Concert for choir. He seems nice enough, but that doesn’t mean Harry is just going to start calling him ‘Dad’ or whatever.

“Where are Niall and Liam? Figured they would be here already. We were supposed to be here two hours early, even though I have no idea why,” Louis says, glancing down at the time on his phone then back up at Harry. Louis is wearing a dark blue sweater with white horizontal stripes across the chest and arms. Perched on his head is a red Santa hat, and he looks adorable. Mr. Tennent told them to dress nice and festive, so Harry wore a black t-shirt and his black skinny jeans because fuck that. He doesn’t really like Christmas, and he hates that he has to participate in this stupid Holiday Concert. Harry doesn’t even think he owns anything that would be deemed ‘festive’.

Suddenly an idea pops into Harry’s head, so he decides to act on it before he loses his nerve. He looks around the almost empty room to make sure nobody is paying attention, then leans towards Louis, lowering his voice. “Wanna maybe find somewhere a little more quiet and dark for a bit?” Harry asks, cock already twitching in his jeans from the thought. He can’t believe he actually just asked that, however, he is a teenage boy, and he really just wants to taste Louis again.

“Why Harold? What are you suggesting?” Louis asks, a teasing glint in his blue eyes, making them sparkle in the light of the room. A warm feeling floods Harry’s chest then, not for the first time, that puts butterflies in his stomach and makes his heart race. How is Louis so beautiful, and why would someone so beautiful want anything to do with him? Harry lets that feeling of warmth that has taken over his being give him courage to respond.

“I’m suggesting that we find somewhere dark and secluded, so I can suck you off again,” Harry says, trying to keep a confident smirk on his face, despite the fact that his heart is beating erratically and his palms are sweaty. He can’t believe he just said that. He has been becoming more confident with Louis, and even though they have whatever it is that they have going on between them, he never thought he would ever have the courage to say anything like that. He swallows the lump in his throat and tries to quiet the panic in his mind about it being the wrong thing to say. Fuck. What if Louis doesn't want to? What if he prefers just fucking around during school because he gets off on the idea of being caught? What if he just isn’t into Harry anymore?

“I’d love to,” Louis responds with a wide smile and stands up freezing when they see Niall and Liam staring at them.

“Where are you two off too?” Liam asks, and Niall is just smiling at them, as if to say ‘Yes, Harold. Wherever are you two off too?’ Fucking dick. Harry glances over to Louis, signs of panic etched into his face.

“Umm-- We were going to see if Harry’s mom is here yet,” Louis lies, the words slipping easily from his lips. It’s not the first time Harry has heard him lie so easily, but it certainly still shocks him at how believable it is. Louis is quick witted and thinks on his feet. It is kind of hot, if Harry is being honest, and the boy can definitely produce a convincing lie when the occasion calls for it. He is a smart liar too, keeping as close to the truth as possible and making it believable.

“Oh. I didn’t know she was coming,” Niall says, like he actually believes Louis. Although, he probably doesn’t.

“Yeah, she is, anyways, we will be back,” Harry responds, and before Louis can say anything else, he pushes him out the door. Once they are far enough away from the room they just exited, they hold hands as they make their way into the main building. The hallways are quiet and dark, perfect for what they want. Harry starts turning door knobs when they are far enough away from the gym that they probably won't get caught, until he finds one that is unlocked. It is their chemistry classroom, but it will work. Louis flicks the switch by the door, bathing the room in a bright, fluorescent light. A thrill shoots down Harry’s spine at the idea of getting caught though, so he shuts the door quietly, locking it, just in case.

“You really are full of great ideas,” Louis starts with a mischievous smile, but Harry doesn’t give him time to continue. He is too turned on by the situation and the way Louis looks, so he pushes Louis against the old chalkboard and kisses him harshly. For the first time, there is no pretenses of chastity. Harry feels brave and mad with lust, so he just parts Louis’ lips with his tongue and delves into Louis’ waiting mouth. Louis seems shocked by the action but recovers quickly, bringing his hands up to pull at Harry’s hair deepening the kiss while pressing their fronts together. Harry is surprised to feel Louis already hard, his erection noticeable in his jeans, the friction making Harry’s eyes roll back into his head. Maybe Louis is really attracted to him. He has no idea why, but he doesn’t really want to question it when Louis is rutting against him.

Suddenly, Harry remembers the Drarry fanfic he was reading last night. There was a blowjob scene in it, and well, it gave him some ideas. He also really wants to taste Louis again, so sue him. He breaks their kiss to drop to his knees in front of Louis, allowing a smirk to take over his features. Now that he has done this before, he feels a bit more confident in his abilities. He has made Louis come multiple times now, so he can’t be all that bad. Unlike the darkness of the back stairwell, though, there is light, which only makes him feel slightly more exposed. Louis can see him this time as he does it. He isn’t sure if that scares him or turns him on more. Probably both. Harry is going to go with both.

 

_________

 

Louis can’t fucking believe this. Harry just dropped to his knees in front of him and is looking up at him with bright green eyes, biting his red, kiss bitten lips. Louis wants to die, but he wants his dick sucked more. So Louis will stay alive, even if it is only for the next five minutes, because he doesn’t think he will last much longer given the way Harry currently looks. His cheeks are red and his curls are a mess from Louis’ fingers. Harry doesn’t say anything as he tries to yank Louis’ jeans halfway down his thighs.

“Fuck, Haz. You sure?” Louis asks, wanting to make sure Harry is one hundred percent comfortable with the turn of events. Harry just nods then starts to undo the button and fly of Louis’ jeans. Louis lets his head fall back against the chalk board when he feels Harry’s large, ringed hand wrapping around his dick, giving it a few good tugs. The Santa hat on his head falls down on his forehead a little bit more with the movement, but Louis doesn't really care because when he glances back down, Harry is staring at his shaft and licking his lips like a starved man. Louis doesn't know where this confident side of Harry came from, but he isn’t going to question it. He kind of loves it, honestly. If Harry wasn’t so insecure, he could be a fucking porn star with his looks alone. Louis is fucked if Harry ever figures this out about himself, but at the same time, Louis hopes he does. He wants to build him up.

“Oh God,” Louis whispers when he feels Harry’s lips wrap around his dick, sucking gently. He glances down to see Harry smirking at him, even with a dick in his mouth, probably thinking about some comment on Louis’ choice of phrase. Louis doesn't care, though, because Harry’s mouth is hot, wet and fucking perfect. He flicks his tongue over Louis’ slit, prompting Louis to release another moan into the empty classroom. He needs a fucking distraction, or he is going to come too soon.

“I love watching you suck me off, love,” Louis says, looking down again, and fuck, that may have been a mistake. Harry looks indecent with his red lips wrapped around Louis’ dick. He keeps his eyes trained on Louis’ as he begins sliding his mouth up and down, making Louis’ shaft wet with his spit. His eyes are dark, the pupils dilated to make them look almost black. He has a tiny bit of spit making its way down his chin, and Louis can’t stop his hands from coming down to feel Harry’s hollowed cheek. He can feel his own dick poking against the stretched skin, and it is almost too much. Fuck. They need to do more stuff with the lights on.

“You’re doing so good. You’re so good at sucking my dick. Fuck, Harry. You should see yourself right now. You look down right obscene...” Louis sentence trails off when he feels Harry grabbing his ass hard, pulling him further into his mouth. Louis briefly wonders if he will have bruises from the harsh grip, but he decides he doesn’t care as long as they are the same size and shape as Harry’s fingers. He likes the reminder that what they have is real. That it isn’t just a dream or a figment of his imagination. Sometimes though, he will see the marks and feel guilty about what he is doing with Harry. What he is doing against God, but he tries to push those thoughts away, preferring to ignore them for the moment.

He feels it when Harry pauses, the cold air hitting his now hot dick, but he doesn’t bother looking down, too lost in sensations, plus Harry is back on him before he even notices the loss, sucking hard enough to make Louis’ eyes roll back into his head in pleasure. Louis eyes snap back to Harry in surprise because holy fucking shit, did Harry just do what Louis thinks he did? “Fuck, Harry. Shit. Do that again,” Louis pleads, looking down at Harry with what are probably desperate eyes. Harry nods, and sucks Louis hard then Louis feels it again, Harry’s wet finger gently pressing over his tight hole. Not firm enough to penetrate, but just enough to let Louis know that it’s there.

“God. Fuck. Gonna make me come,” Louis rasps, hips automatically starting to fuck into Harry’s wet heat. To Harry’s credit, he manages to not gag even though he hasn’t done this many times before. He just nods his head and keeps sucking, hollowing out his cheeks even more with the effort. He keeps his finger pressed against Louis’ hole, just letting him know that it’s there while he grips Louis’ ass hard, guiding his motions a bit. It’s a lot, and Louis feels like he is going to explode. He needs to actually warn Harry. Yes. Just because Harry swallowed before doesn’t mean he will do it again, so Louis must somehow manage to form coherent words.

“Harry. I’m so fucking close. Fuck. Harry, please,” Louis says, and he isn’t even sure what he is begging for. Maybe it’s for Harry to push his finger in, or maybe for Harry to keep sucking him. Maybe he is begging God for salvation and forgiveness of his sins, but God isn’t here. Harry is. He is begging Harry, not God. When Harry doesn’t pull off, instead pushing his finger just a tiny bit harder, Louis’ silent prayers are answered by Harry, not God. Louis comes with a strangled sound, releasing into Harry’s mouth. Harry moans around his dick, swallowing every drop and sucking for more.

Louis’ eyes sting with unshed tears, even though he isn’t sure why. He just feels completely overwhelmed as he watches the boy in front of him slowly pull off, smiling up at him. His beautiful contradiction of a boy. Harry, who looks so broken when he thinks people aren’t paying him any attention. Harry, who believes that no one would ever want to have any kind of relationship or friendship with him. Louis’ chest aches with that. He pulls Harry to his feet and kisses him for a few seconds, moaning at the taste of himself on Harry’s tongue.

“Hold this,” Louis says, an idea forming in his head. He has had this done to him before, but he was drunk as fuck. He just wants to give Harry something special. Another experience. He loves watching Harry experience new things sexually. He loves being that for him. The thought of that alone has Louis’ spent dick twitching again. He takes off his Santa hat and places it on Harry’s head. He forgot he was wearing it, but it looks cute on Harry. Louis would laugh at the fact that he just received a blow job while wearing a stupid Santa hat, but he pulls up his pants and sinks to his knees. He can see the outline of Harry’s hard shaft pressed deliciously against the fabric of his tight jeans. Louis doesn’t say anything as he quickly unbuttons and unzips Harry’s pants, pulling the waistband of his underwear down, allowing Harry’s hard dick to spring free. Louis licks his lips, but doesn’t taste it, deciding to do something completely different instead.

He reaches for Harry’s hand and wraps his long fingers around his own dick. Harry looks surprised by the change of events and a little confused. Louis uses one small hand to push his brown hair off his forehead, running his fingers through the matted down strands to put some life back into them then looks up at Harry. “I want you to come on my face.” Harry’s mouth falls open in shock, looking somewhat comical with the Santa hat perched on his dark curls. Louis sees out of the corner of his eye that Harry’s dick actually twitches in his hand as he tightens his grip on it. He likes the suggestion.

“I-- I can’t,” Harry stutters, looking down at Louis as if he has two heads. Technically Louis does have two heads, but one is currently spent and in his pants. Louis doesn’t say that outloud though, instead opting to sink further into the hard ground, parting his legs a bit, so that his face is right under Harry’s dick. Harry’s eyes widen even more, like he can’t believe Louis is actually serious, but he is. He is so fucking serious, his own spent dick is twitching in pathetic interest at the whole idea.

“Yes, you can. I want you to. Please. Come on my face,” Louis asks, making his eyes wide and honest because fuck does he want Harry to. So fucking bad. Harry gulps and nods, but seems frozen to the spot, his dick clutched in one big hand. Louis decides to help him out and wraps his fingers around Harry’s wrist, starting the motion. Harry gets the idea after that, beginning to stroke himself at a steady rhythm. Instead of waiting for it, Louis decides to talk, wanting to help Harry along because he is getting turned on again, and they don’t have time for another orgasm.

“Yeah. That’s it. Look so good getting yourself off for me. Fuck,” Louis says, watching the motion of his big hand. Louis is starting to have an obsession with his hands. Well, who is he kidding? Louis has had an obsession with his hands since he met the guy, but now he knows what he can do with those hands. What he may eventually do with those fingers, and that has Louis’ wanking fantasies running wild. It didn’t help that Harry had gotten brave moments ago and had one long finger pressed against his hole enticingly.

“Oh fuck, Lou,” Harry moans, his hand working faster, the sound of his balls slapping against his fist reverberating throughout the room. Louis can tell he is close just from the twitch in his legs and the sound of his voice. He has the cadence memorized now, wanting to relive it every chance he can get.

“Come on, love. Mark me, so they will know who I belong to. Wanna feel it,” Louis says. Harry moans long and low, prompting Louis to close his eyes, knowing what is about to come, literally. He feels the first strand hit his face, directly under his eye. The next falls across his nose. Another ribbon lands on his left eye, making the eyelashes stick to his cheek. The final rope lands across his lips. It’s hot on his skin, feeling like it is burning him, and he can’t suppress the moan. He hears Harry mumble a string of profanities when Louis begins licking his lips, not opening his eyes to do so. Harry’s come is warm and salty in his mouth, perfect really.

“Hold on, baby, let me grab a paper towel.” He hears Harry say, and he remembers they are in the Chemistry classroom, which has a sink and is stocked with paper towels and soap incase of a chemical spill. Thank God they chose this classroom, and it just so happened to be unlocked because Louis doesn’t know if he could have waited for Harry to sneak out to go to the bathroom and return. He hears the water turn on then off, a moment later Harry is gently wiping a damp paper towel across his face. Louis doesn’t move as Harry continues to clean his own release from his skin. After Harry pulls away, Louis opens his eyes to find Harry staring at him almost in awe.

“Thank you, love,” Louis rasps out. Harry holds out his hands to him, and Louis takes them allowing the taller boy to help him up. He is grateful, his legs were starting to go numb from the position. Harry holds him steady for a few seconds, making sure Louis has his footing, his hands warm and sure on Louis’ hips.

“You're welcome.” Harry punctuates the sentence with a kiss on Louis’ nose. “Ready to go back?They are probably wondering where we are.”

“Yeah, let’s go,” Louis responds, walking with Harry out of the classroom, shutting the lights off behind him. They make their way back towards the choir room, finding it now full of people talking amongst themselves. Liam and Niall wave them over as soon as they see them, smiling happily, but Harry panics when he sees that Liam looks suspicious.

“Harry, why are you wearing Louis’ hat?” Liam asks, eyes squinting with the question, an uncertainty to his tone. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Louis forgot he put his hat on Harry’s head. He watches as Harry brings one hand up to touch the soft material, looking just as panicked as Louis feels. Louis needs to think fast.

“Um-- I told Harold here he needed some more Christmas Spirit, so I made him wear my hat. Looks good on him, doesn’t it?” Louis asks, looking over at Harry with a convincing smile.

“Yeah. Looks great,” Liam says smiling back, seeming to believe the lie. Jesus. That was fucking close. They should be more careful, or Liam is going to figure it out. Louis, in a really fucked up way, kind of wants him to though. Liam is his best friend. The closest he has been with a person since his Mom married Mark, and they began uprooting his life every six months, if he doesn’t count Harry, that is. Would Liam finding out be the end of the world? Probably. He may be disgusted by the idea and think Louis a pervert. He could tell everyone in the church. He could hate Louis. Nope. Louis can never tell his friend. Ever.

They spend the rest of the time talking and practicing for the concert. The concert itself goes off without a hitch. Louis looks around the crowd to try to find Harry’s mother, but he has no luck. He has no idea what the woman even looks like, or what the man she is with looks like for that matter. He is very curious though. He wants to put a face to Harry’s mom in his head. Harry has met his entire family at this point, so it is strange to Louis for Anne to be such a mystery. After the concert ends, Louis finds Harry, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he can get an introduction.

“Hey, that went pretty well,” Louis starts, looking around the gymnasium but not seeing anyone coming towards them. He sees his own mom, Lottie and Fizzy. Mark must have agreed to keep the younger girls home. She is talking to someone though, so Louis doesn’t feel all that rushed.

“Yeah. Not terrible I guess,” Harry responds looking at him. He is still wearing the Santa hat, which makes Louis smile. Harry wearing something of his just does something to him, even if it is something as ridiculous as a Santa hat. Harry suddenly looks nervous, so Louis looks around trying to find the reason behind it. Finally he spots a woman coming towards them, smiling, her dimples popping. She is beautiful, and Harry looks so much like her, it is startling. She has long dark hair and kind eyes, not at all what Louis was expecting. She looks tired, though, like she worries a lot and works long days. She is holding the hand of a man. He is about her height with salt and pepper hair and a gray beard. He, too, is smiling. That must be Robin. He seems kind, and Louis likes him already. Louis gets the feeling, though, that Anne and Robin are more serious than Harry admitted earlier.

“Harry. That was lovely. Maybe next time you will get a solo,” Anne says, smiling at her son. She doesn’t move to hug him or kiss his cheek though, which is kind of odd to Louis. His mother would have done that. Robin though, claps him on the bicep, smiling proudly. Harry looks down at his pigeon toed feet, blushing slightly.

“Yeah, maybe. Umm-- Mom, Robin, I want to introduce you to my friend, Louis. Louis this is my Mom and Robin.” Louis smiles at them and shakes their hand. The word friend doesn’t sit right with him, but he has to deal. They haven’t put a label on what they are, and even if they had, they can’t tell anyone except maybe Willow or Niall.

“I didn’t know Harry had a friend other than Niall,” Anne says, and Louis can tell she didn’t mean the comment in a malicious way, but that doesn’t stop the hurt that briefly crosses Harry’s features.

“Yeah. He has lots of friends, actually,” Louis tells her, and it isn’t a lie. Harry may not realize it just yet, but he has Niall, Liam, Willow and Tara. They all hang out together often enough and talk. Harry can be in denial all he likes, but he has friends. Good friends.

“Oh. Well, he didn’t tell me,” Anne replies, and that comment was probably meant to hurt Harry because she looks at him pointedly when she says it. Harry looks down again, kicking at nothing on the fake wood floor. Louis almost wants to roll his eyes and say ‘that may be because you are never home and never bothered to ask’, but he keeps his mouth shut, wanting to make a somewhat good impression.

“He loves his secrets I guess,” Louis decides to say, poking Harry in the ribs with his elbow and laughing. Harry chuckles too, as if it is funny. It isn’t, but Anne and Robin are smiling. Louis glances over to see his mom heading in their direction then, so he knows he needs to bow out. He doesn’t really want Jay and Anne meeting just yet, knowing that his mom may say something about the fact that Harry spent Thanksgiving with them. He doesn't want to embarrass Harry further.

“Well, I think my mom wants to go, so I have to cut this short. It was nice meeting you Mrs. Styles and-- umm-- Robin.” Anne and Robin both nod their head and smile politely. “Hazza, I’ll see you at school on Monday.” He shoots Harry a sly wink and grips his forearm for the briefest of seconds before he leaves the group, making his way towards his mom. Harry smiles at him as he does so, and Louis’ heart melts just a bit.

Chapter Text

“image”

I won’t pretend that I resist temptation

I think it’s funny when you preach damnation

I’ve been to hell and back and now it’s just a part of me

Without the darkness there’d be no light in me- In This Moment

 

“We are going to head to bed, Lou. You know your sisters are going to have us up early tomorrow to open their presents from Santa,” his mom says, poking her head through the door. Louis is under the blankets on his bed, covered from chin to toes, pretending he is going to bed.

“Okay, Mom. I will probably go to bed myself,” Louis responds, faking a yawn. An Oscar. That’s what he deserves. He feels the butterflies in his stomach as he glances towards the clock perched on his bedside table. It’s 9:30 pm, so perfect timing. He will give his mom and Mark half an hour to fall asleep, then sneak out through the front door. He normally sneaks out through his window and climbs down the tree, but Harry’s present it too big for that, therefore he is going to have to chance going through the front door. He is leaving his window unlocked though, so he can sneak back in through it.

“Okay. Happy Birthday, Boobear. I know we didn’t really do anything, but you know with it being Christmas Eve, it’s hard. We had to go to church for their Christmas play that your sisters were in, so it just wasn’t feasible this year,” she tells him, her eyes sad and apologetic, but Louis really doesn’t want to hear it. She uses the same excuse every single year. Mark doesn’t even excuse himself anymore, just tells him Happy Birthday in the morning and moves on to other Christmas activities. Louis guesses Jesus’ birthday is more important than his own to his parents. It shouldn’t bother him anymore, but it does. It hurts, but he pretends he’s okay with it. It’s easier that way. He doesn’t even get presents on his birthday anymore, Mark and his mom, instead, choosing to just add them to his Christmas presents, wrapped in the same paper and all.

“Thanks, Mom. It’s okay, I understand. Night,” Louis lies, blinking back tears. He closes his eyes for a moment, silently telling himself not to cry. He doesn’t want to deal with questions from his mom and then subsequently more lies. He just wants her to leave, so he can sneak out and be with Harry. At the thought of Harry, his chest erupts with happiness, the tears holding back because of it. He is just over half an hour away from seeing Harry. He hasn’t seen him in a while, and it has been killing him. They text all the time, but since school had let out for the break, they haven’t actually spent time together. That is going to change after tonight though.

“Night, love,” His mom replies. He smiles at her as she turns off the light and shuts the door with a soft click. He doesn't count the seconds and minutes as they pass by for the next half an hour. He doesn’t listen for Mark’s tell-tale snores as a sign that the man has fallen asleep. He doesn’t take notice of each little groan or creak the house makes as it settles for the night. He doesn’t. When he finally decides it is safe enough, he gets out of the bed, already fully dressed. He grabs his coat and reaches under the bed for the large box he has wrapped Harry’s present in. He is so excited to give it to him. He silently sneaks out of his house with not so much as a hiccup in his plan. He carries the large present under one arm for a moment as he pulls his hood over his head, serving the purpose of covering his face from others that may be out and to block out the cold.

Louis sends Harry a quick text as he starts walking, letting him know that he is on his way. The journey to Harry’s house is brief, and the streets are deserted. It is the night before Christmas, afterall. Most people are asleep at this point or too drunk to notice a young kid walking with a large box. The sidewalk is lit up with both street lights the the lights from Christmas decorations on each house. Louis is feeling anxious with excitement. He is finally going to see Harry’s home, which is probably a big step. He tries not to think about that too much though, too excited to give Harry his present and spend some much needed alone time with him.

Harry’s house is dark when he gets there, the only light streaming through the living room window seeming to look almost like it is flickering. The structure isn’t decorated with decorations like the other houses around it, making it seem even more dark and dreary, almost menacing. Louis’ own house has been decorated since before Thanksgiving, Mark forcing him to go out one warm day to help hand him lights and put out those ridiculously large blow up lawn decorations. Louis takes one more deep breath before he goes up the front steps, quickly walks across the porch and knocks on the door before he loses his nerve. He listens as footsteps come to the door, then hears the sound of a deadbolt unlocking.

“You’re here,” Harry greets, looking somewhat surprised. The light from what is most likely the living room is framing his body, allowing Louis to take in his appearance. Harry is wearing his normal band T-shirt and black jeans. There are white finger prints on the hem of the shirt though, as if Harry had something on his hands and pulled the item of clothing down. He looks nervous. His feet are turned inward, and he isn’t meeting Louis’ eyes as he absentmindedly plays with his rings.

“‘Course I am, love,” Louis replies, trying to relax the other boy. His shoulders release their tension just the tiniest bit. Louis will take it.

“Come in,” Harry stutters out, stepping out of the way as ushers Louis inside. The first thing Louis notices when he walks through the door is that it is cold and drafty, the temperature not being too different than it is outside.

“Sorry it’s cold,” Harry apologizes as if reading Louis’ mind, still not meeting his gaze. “I just started the fire though, so it should warm up soon.” They seemed to have stepped into a small entryway with stairs directly to the left. Louis can’t see into the living room yet, but can smell the fire and hear it crackling, the scent of burning wood mixing with something distinctly musty.

“It’s fine, Haz,” Louis says, smiling when Harry glances up. “Should I take off my shoes?”

“Nah. The carpet is pretty gross, can’t do much worse than what it already is,” Harry says, and Louis tries to cover up the shock on his face. His mother would murder him if he even so much as tried to wear his shoes in the house. He looks down at Harry’s socked feet. He has a large hole, the tip of his toe poking out. Louis just nods and toes off his shoes anyways, wanting to be comfortable.

“Umm-- is that for me?” Harry asks, pointing to the large present in Louis’ hand wrapped messily in green paper. Louis smiles and nods. “You didn’t have to do that, Lou…” Harry starts, but Louis cuts him off.

“It’s your Christmas present. ‘Course I did,” Louis says with another huge smile. “Do you wanna exchange them now?”

“What’s Christmas? I don’t know of a Christmas. I only know that it’s your birthday,” Harry responds and walks through the entryway some more, stepping through an open doorway. Louis is very confused by Harry’s statement and starts to ask as he follows him, but his breath leaves him in surprise. The small living room is completely decorated for Louis’ birthday. A handmade banner that says ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOU’ in big blue letters is hung on one of the walls. There are streamers of various colors everywhere, and helium filled balloons floating around tied to every available surface with different birthday messages on each one.

“What’s all of this?” Louis asks, his mouth hanging open in shock. He blinks back tears as he takes in the room around him, not knowing where to look first. Harry seems to have bought everything birthday related the dollar store had, and what they didn’t have, he seems to have handmade. The ugly stained wallpaper that is peeling in many places is covered in signs and streamers.

“It’s your birthday party! Happy Birthday!” Harry exclaims with a huge smile on his face, dimples popping as he places a pointy birthday hat on Louis’ head, pulling the stretchy string under his chin. Louis looks to see Harry wearing one of his own, his wild curls all around it, and his chest suddenly feels warm and light, as though his heart is going to burst out of it at any second. He just can’t believe someone did this for him. He can’t remember the last time he had a birthday party, since he has his birthday on the most unfortunate day of the year. When he was young, he used to hate almost sharing a birthday with Jesus, and now that he knows that Jesus wasn’t born on this day, he hates it even more. Some random person decided that this was a great day to celebrate and completely fucked Louis’ own birthday over.

“Oh my God, Haz! I can’t fucking believe this!” Louis exclaims, looking around the living room again. Now that he looks at it, he can see some Christmas decorations hung under the birthday ones. Harry had placed a large banner over the stocking hung over the fireplace. There is a decorated tree in the corner of the room. It is small and kind of pitiful, with a few presents under it. Louis briefly wonders where the other presents are, but is stopped from asking questions when he hears Harry’s deep voice behind him.

“I know it’s not much of a party since it’s just me, but-- umm-- I decorated,” Harry explains, looking down sheepishly. Louis has the sudden urge to kiss him, so he does. He keeps it sweet and chaste, just wanting to taste Harry’s lips on his own. They taste sweet, as if he had been eating something sugary recently.

“No. I love it, so much. Thank you, Harry,” Louis tells him sincerely, breaking the kiss and placing a hand over Harry’s rapidly beating heart. He is suddenly overcome with emotions. Harry did this for him. He went out of his way to give Louis a birthday party and recognize a day that has been all but forgotten by most of the people in Louis’ life. He sniffles then and rubs his eye, hoping it looks more like he is sleepy and less like he is crying. He is definitely not crying. He isn’t.

“Ready for some party games?” Harry asks, taking the gift from Louis’ hand that he had forgotten he was holding and placing it to the side. He then takes Louis’ coat, laying it over the back of the ugly green couch that looks as if it is missing some vital stuffing with large holes at random places in the stained, thin fabric. It has definitely seen better days.

“Party games? You’re going to play party games?” Louis asks his own question, letting his lips form a smirk. He can’t believe Harry right now. Decorating his living room and asking if he wanted to play party games. Louis shifts from one foot to the other, hearing the floorboard below creak and groan with the movement. It doesn't feel very firm, but Louis doesn’t comment on his own safety concern. He doubts the floor would fall in, it only sounds like it, really.

“Of course! It’s your birthday party. They have games at those don’t they?” Harry asks, eyes shining. Louis can’t believe this is the same boy he met months ago, that flipped him off just for looking at him. Harry smiles so much more now, and Louis’ chest feels tight knowing he may just be the cause of this change.

“I think so. I’m not sure, I have never had a birthday party for myself, but my sisters always had games at theirs.” Louis shrugs with his own smile, but Harry’s face falls.

“How come you’ve never had a party, but your sisters have? That hardly seems fair,” Harry questions, making his adorable grumpy frog face that Louis kind of wants to kiss. He would never tell Harry that, though. He would prefer to live to see Graduation, thank you very much.

“My birthday is on Christmas eve. It’s easy to ignore I suppose,” Louis says with another shrug, but he knows he doesn’t do a very good job of keeping the pain and disappointment from his voice since the crease between Harry’s brows deepens.

“I don’t know this Christmas you speak of. Today is your birthday, nothing else. So let's start with a game shall we?” Harry asks, his smile returning tenfold, and Louis kind of wants to cry. Instead he smiles back and nods. Harry then produces a green silk scarf from the table. Well, it is most likely not silk, but a silk like material. Louis raises his eyebrows in confusion.

“Haz! I didn’t know you were ready for something so kinky,” Louis tells him with a wicked smirk. Harry freeze and gapes at him. It’s adorable, and Louis can’t help but burst into laughter.

“Get your head out of the gutter. We are playing pin the tail on the donkey,” Harry says, gesturing towards the wall that Louis just now notices has a cartoon donkey’s ass on it. He hands Louis a tail with a pin in it and begins to fold the scarf around his face, blocking out his vision. It smells like Harry, and Louis’ dick twitches in interest.

“Won’t your mom get mad that we are putting holes in her wall?” Louis asks, feeling Harry’s nimble fingers carefully tie the scarf at the back of his head. He hears Harry release a deep chuckle from behind him, his breath ghosting over the back of his neck making the hair there stand on end. He feels like all of his other senses are amplified since he has now lost his sight.

“Nope. There is much worse on the walls. I doubt she will even notice,” Harry responds, laying his large hands on Louis’ shoulders, the warmth soaking in through the material of his shirt. The house is starting to get warm from the fire. Louis smiles imagining Harry starting it before Louis had arrived. He didn’t know Harry knew how to build a fire, but he guesses people learn to do the things they need to to survive. He hates that Harry has to do these things though. Other people have centralized electric heat in their house, but Harry doesn't have that luxury. It’s odd, but Louis had never thought about it as a luxury until now. Why would something so necessary as heat be considered a luxury? How is that fair?

“Okay? Ready?” Harry asks, deep voice breaking Louis out of his dark thoughts. Louis shakes his head a bit, trying to clear it then nods. Harry’s hands then grip his shoulders, and he begins to spin him in circles. Louis can’t help but laugh as he stumbles around, listening to the echo of Harry’s laugh in his own ears. After what could be five or a dozen turns, Louis feels Harry’s hands on his hips, steadying him. Louis is sufficiently dizzy and blind, so it’s nice. “Okay, the donkey is directly in front of you.”

“Okay,” Louis responds, taking a tentative step out of the comfort of Harry’s hands towards his destination. He sticks one hand out to feel in front of him, so he doesn’t run face first into a wall. After a few more slow and slightly staggering steps he feels the cool surface of the wall. He feels around for a few seconds before his fingers come into contact with what is definitely a poster. His arm is unsteady as he pulls it up, pinning in to what he hopes is the rear of the cartoon donkey. He doesn't think so, since Harry bursts out laughing behind him. “How did I do?”

“Great, babe,” Harry answers through another fit of giggles. Louis can feel his cheeks reddening from what may be embarrassment as he reaches a hand up to pull the scarf from his head, wincing when a few strands of hair that were caught in the knot pull. He blinks a few times, allowing his eyes to get used to the new light they are now flooded with. He looks at the picture in front of him and realizes he has pinned the tail on the donkey’s nose, nowhere near it’s ass.

“It’s harder than it looks.” Louis’ cheeks heat even more as he turns around to see Harry bent over in a fit of laughter, making the look of offence on Louis’ face morph into his own smile. “I’d like to see you do it.” He tries to stop the laugh from erupting from his chest, but it doesn't work especially with Harry still laughing, his green eyes shining in the light of the living room. Louis has never seen anything so fucking beautiful.

“I will. I have to participate in the party games, too,” Harry says after a few moments, wiping his eyes with his thumbs. He then takes a marker from his pocket and goes up to the picture of the donkey. Once he pulls the tail from its nose, he marks the spot with a black ‘X’. Louis gives Harry a smirk, and rolls his finger in the air in a silent gesture telling Harry to turn around. Harry does as asked, and Louis can almost see the grin on his face from the back of his head when he bends his knees a bit, so Louis can reach. Louis hates him, but not really. He ties the silk material around Harry’s head, careful not to tangle his curls in the knot.

“Ready?” Louis asks, pulling his hands off Harry’s hips, enjoying the feel of the love handles there below his finger tips. Harry nods in the affirmative, his dark curls bouncing around the material of the scarf. Louis then begins using Harry’s hips to spin him in circles. He spins him exactly thirteen times before he stops, pointing him in the direction of the donkey. “It’s right in front of you.” He pushes Harry lightly, releasing his hips. It almost kills him to do so, but this is way funnier. Harry slowly stumbles towards the wall with one large palm out in front of him. He looks like Bambi learning to walk, and Louis is hopelessly endeared.

Louis tries not to laugh as he watches Harry feel around for the picture. He feels all corners first, then traces around the whole thing, seeming to decide where the middle of each edge was. He then uses two fingers to trial a line down the middle of the page then back up. It is an interesting technique, and Louis can’t fucking believe it when Harry pins the tail almost exactly in the correct location. Holy shit. Harry is brilliant. Louis would have never thought about using that technique. Louis doesn’t laugh, his mouth is too busy gaping open in surprise.

“How did I do?” Harry asks, removing the scarf his expression morphing into one of surprise when he sees how well he did. Louis would normally accuse him of cheating, but Harry looks so happy about the fact that he did better than Louis, he can’t bring himself to do it. Instead a feeling that can only be described as pride washes over him, a smile spreading across his face, his eyes crinkling in the corners.

“I’m so proud of you, love,” Louis says, letting the feeling come out in his words. He moves over and brings Harry into a hug, smiling wider when he feels Harry’s long arms wrap around his waist. He knows it’s stupid to be celebrating something so trivial, but he is just having so much fun on his birthday. He is so thankful for the boy in his arms that he can’t even begin to form words about it. After they break apart, they play the game again, Harry winning for a second time. They then move on to play charades, laughing and giggling through it.

“Oh! Time for your present!” Harry looks at his watch, then gets up from his place on the couch. Louis thought the birthday party was his present, but apparently Harry has other ideas.

“Do you wanna open your Christmas present first?” Louis asks, stopping Harry in his tracks.

“Louis, I told you, Christmas doesn’t exist until midnight. Until then, it is your birthday. No more Christmas speak. I will not hear it. Now stay here.” Harry then turns on his heels and flicks off the light as he goes through the door to what Louis assumes is the kitchen. Harry returns a few moments later, with a cake balanced in his large hands. Even in the dark, Louis can see the round surface is decorated with blue frosting, multi colored sprinkles all over it. It is clearly homemade, one side slightly lower than the other, with candles in the shape of a one and a nine pushed into the surface in the middle, their tops lit and providing the only light in the room besides the fireplace. Louis blinks back tears, then Harry starts to sing.

Happy Birthday to Lou

Happy Birthday to Lou

Happy Birthday dear, Boobear

Happy Birthday to you

His deep voice finishes the words, and Louis is openly crying now. He can’t believe someone went through the trouble of baking him a birthday cake. Louis hasn’t had a birthday cake in at least ten years, probably more if he really thinks about it. Harry has given him the best birthday present he could ever ask for, and he has no idea how to repay him.

“Make a wish, babe,” Harry says, smiling. He probably doesn’t see Louis’ tears, but Louis laughs and nods. He closes his eyes and wishes to never lose Harry as he puckers his lips and blows out the candles. Harry cheers, but doesn’t move to turn the light back on, leaving the living room lit by just the fire. It is soft and beautiful, making everything that much more perfect.

“Why are you crying? Is this terrible? I mean it will probably taste terrible. I have never baked a cake before, and I did it from scratch from a recipe I found online,” Harry rambles, quickly sitting the cake on the coffee table in front of the couch and turning to Louis.

“No, Haz. These are happy tears. I just… I can’t believe you did this for me. You went through all this trouble of decorating your house for my birthday, then you baked me a cake from scratch. I know you don’t, like, have a lot of money, so it really wasn’t necessary…” Louis sentence is cut off by Harry’s lips, which are firm and warm against his own. Louis kisses back once the shock wears off, running his fingers through Harry’s curls.

“It was completely necessary. Your birthday shouldn’t be forgotten because it falls the day before some made up holiday that I kind of hate. I wanted it to be special for you,” Harry responds, the breath from his words blowing over Louis’ lips.

“Thank you.” Louis wants to ask why Harry hates Christmas but doesn’t think this is the time.

“Happy Birthday, Louis. Now, do you want a slice of cake?”

 

__________

 

Louis beams up at him and nods his head vigorously. Harry’s heart melts just a tiny bit more for the man in front of him. How could someone ever want to forget his birthday? How could his own parents not want to make the day special for him just because they believe it is the day before the birthday of some debatably mythical person? It really is just another reason for Harry to dislike religion and this day. He kisses Louis chastely one more time then takes his hand, leading him to the old and lumpy sofa. Louis hasn’t commented on the condition of his living space, thank the Gods, but Harry didn’t miss the look on his face when he first walked in. Harry still can’t believe he invited him into his house.

“Share a piece with me?” Louis asks, and Harry nods, picking up the knife he brought with him and cuts the cake into pieces. He grabs a small plate and places the slice on it, only grabbing one fork since they are sharing.

“You get the first bite. Let’s hope it isn’t shit,” Harry says, with a hopeful smile as he holds a bite of cake up to Louis’ lips on the prongs of the fork. Louis opens his mouth obediently, and Harry guides the piece of cake inside. The way Louis closes his firm pink lips around the utensil is downright obscene, then he moans… actually fucking moans around it as Harry slowly removes the fork. His eyes are closed in bliss as he chews, and Harry may or may not be holding his breath.

“Oh my God, Haz, this is so fucking good. Where did you learn to cook? Where did you find the recipe?” Louis asks, after he swallows it. His blue eyes are open in shock, and Harry actually believes what he is saying. He is giving no indication that he is lying to him at all about the taste of the cake.

“Umm-- I found it online,” is all Harry is able to get out then takes a bite of his own. He chews and decides maybe his first attempt at cooking isn’t half bad. They sit in companionable silence for a few minutes, feeding each other bites with the fork, licking blue icing off of each other’s fingers before Louis speaks again.

“I know you said you don’t want to talk about Christmas, but I have a question. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want, but I’m hoping you will trust me with the answer,” Louis says, pulling his lower lip between his teeth and biting down. Harry’s interest is piqued. He has no idea what Louis would want to ask. He thinks he will answer it though.

“Ask away,” Hary responds swallowing dryly and nodding, giving Louis his full attention. Louis looks like he is thinking about the question before he asks it. Probably trying to decide the best way to bring it up without offending Harry. Harry thinks he knows what it is, and his heart is beating rapidly.

“Why do you hate Christmas, Haz? I know you said in class that Christians stole most of their traditions from Pagans, but I feel like there is more to it than that. Like I said, you don’t have to tell me. I just… I wanna know everything I can about you.” The ‘let me in’ that Harry knew he wanted to say is silent, but his eyes finish the thought. The words are soft, as if he is afraid to scare Harry away. Harry takes another deep breath, coming to a decision.

“I don’t really have any crazy or dark reason. I just… I don’t have very many good memories of it growing up. Like even when I was young, I could see the kind of stress it put on my mom to buy my sister and me presents for it. I actually figured out Santa wasn’t real at a really young age. I remember always asking him for something, but never ever getting it even though every single kid I went to school with got whatever they asked for. One year, I even convinced myself that Santa accidently dropped my present at the wrong house because Dakota Marcum got like eight gifts from Santa, one being the only present I asked for. After that, I kind of figured it out. I just kind of hate the consumerism around the holidays. Parents shouldn’t feel like shit because they can’t afford to buy their kid the newest Xbox while kids shouldn’t feel like Santa doesn’t love them or they are inherently bad because their parents are poor. It is just a fucked up holiday to me,” Harry finishes, and he really can’t believe he said all of that. Louis is the first person he has ever told. Not even Niall knows why Harry doesn’t much care for the holiday.

“I could see why you would feel that way,” Louis responds, and he looks slightly shocked. His voice is sad as he says it, and Harry recognizes the look of pity as Louis’ eyes dart to their pathetic tree then back to Harry. Harry is starting to regret his decision to be so open and honest. He should have just kept his mouth shut or bullshitted his way through an explanation. Then Louis does something that Harry wasn’t expecting at all. He sits the mostly empty plate down and crawls into Harry’s lap, curling up there and resting his head on Harry’s shoulder. Harry freezes, unsure of what to do before he finally brings one hand up to rest on Louis’ folded knee, the other snaking around his waist to hold him. “I’m sorry you had so many shitty Christmases growing up, Haz.”

“Its’okay,” Harry responds, the sentence coming out as one big word as he shrugs his shoulders, forcing Louis to bob his head. He looks at Louis to see his eyes are cast down as he plays with the neckline of Harry’s t-shirt, his long eyelashes casting a shadow on his freckled cheeks.

“No, it’s not. It sucks, and it isn’t fair to you. Thank you for telling me though. I know that was probably hard for you, so thank you. I can’t change the past, but I hope that I can make your future Christmases a bit better.” Louis takes that moment to finally look at Harry, his azure blue eyes honest with his words, making a lump form in Harry’s throat. Harry realizes then that maybe Louis doesn’t really pity him. Maybe he just wants to understand him better. Harry doesn’t pity Louis for not getting a real birthday party from his family. He just wants to change that, so maybe this isn’t so different. Maybe Louis just wants to change Harry’s circumstances. He doesn’t say anything, just wraps his arms around Louis tighter and leans in to kiss his cheekbone, right on top of a freckle. Harry then traces a path down his cheek, ending at his lips. Louis’ small hands have somehow found their way to around Harry’s neck and are gripping him tight, pulling him in. Harry goes easily, subsequently deepening the kiss after.

After a few moments, Louis moves to straddle Harry’s lap, giving himself enough leverage to deepen their kiss even more. Harry allows his hands to slide down the small of Louis’ back, eventually landing to grip his firm ass, Louis moaning into his mouth as he does so. If Harry wasn’t hard before, he is now. His cock is painfully hard in his jeans, and it doesn’t help when Louis starts grinding on him. He feels Louis’ nimble fingers on the hem of his shirt, then before he knows it, Louis is breaking their kiss long enough to pull the offending item off of him throwing it in an undisclosed location. Harry doesn't give him a chance to lean back in because he needs to feel Louis’ chest against his own, so he yanks Louis’ shirt off of him, revealing lightly tanned skin.

Harry’s mouth waters for a taste of Louis’ sharp collarbones, watching as the shadow deepens with Louis’ movements enticingly. So, Harry leans in to mouth them, biting and sucking until he knows there is a mark. At least, it is in a place that Louis can cover up easily. Louis leans his head back to give Harry better access as he continues to moan and grind his hips, their cocks rubbing together through the lining of their jeans. Harry feels hot all over. Hotter than the fire burning along the wall. Hotter than the pits of hell that he will surely go to if such a place exists. He feels like his skin is burning from the inside, each place Louis touches becoming that much hotter.

“Need you,” Louis whines, then promptly removes himself from Harry’s lap. Harry is surprised, but then sees that Louis had only done it so he could strip off the rest of his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the floor at his feet as he steps out of them. This prompts Harry to do the same, pulling down his tight jeans and briefs, then kicks them to the side. He doesn’t know what Louis has planned, but he assumes Louis is going to suck his cock since he currently looks like he wants to eat him alive. Harry widens his legs, gripping his hard length at the base to try to hold off his orgasm. He feels his eyebrows hit his hairline when Louis straddles him again, instead of sinking to his knees.

“What?” Harry asks, hands, of their own accord, finding their place back on Louis’ ass, squeezing hard.

“Do you trust me?” Louis asks, looking down to keep eye contact with Harry, given the angle. Harry finds himself nodding. He does trust Louis when it comes to this. When it comes to sexual activities, Louis hasn’t led him astray yet, nor has he pushed Harry further than he is comfortable with. “Okay… remember the other day when you were blowing me in the Chem classroom before our concert?”

“Yeah,” Harry answers, confused. He has no idea where Louis is going with this, but his cock is so hard at this point, he would do anything for a tiny bit of friction. Louis’ cock is lined up with his own, but slightly above so they aren’t touching. It is driving Harry mad, so he squeezes Louis’ ass again and begins mouthing at his collarbones, kissing the already purple bruise he had left there earlier.

“Well do you remember what you did that really got me going?” Louis asks, his voice light and raspy, almost whiny, as he uses one hand to grip Harry’s jawline.

“Wha--” Harry looks up to meet Louis’ eyes when it dawns on him, his mouth forming the shape of a small ‘o’ with the realization. Louis nods, taking one of Harry’s hands and bringing it to his lips. Harry watches with wide eyes as Louis kisses the tip of his index finger, telling Harry exactly what he is thinking without using a single fucking word. Holy fucking shit. Harry’s heart begins beating rapidly in his chest. Holy shit. He can’t do this. He has never done anything like this before. His cock, on the other hand, is telling him to fucking do it. He wants to know what it would feel like to be inside of Louis, even if it is just his fingers. He doesn’t think he is ready for full on sex, but maybe his fingers wouldn’t be a terrible idea. He did tease Louis’ entrance last time.

“Would you like-- be okay with doing it?” Louis asks, kissing Harry’s ring finger this time. Harry knows that if he were to say ‘no’, Louis would be perfectly fine with it. He would probably just lean forward and let Harry get them both off with one large hand, but Harry wants to do this. He wants to please Louis in this way. He feels like he and Louis have both shared a lot of themselves tonight emotionally, so this would be the next obvious step in their sexual relationship, right?

“Yeah. Um…” Harry swallows heavily, taking a deep breath before his next confession. “I-- I just don’t really know how. I don’t wanna hurt you.” Harry can feel his cheeks getting warmer with the admission, but he needs to say it. He doesn't want to hurt Louis and lying to him about his level of experience would surely spell disaster. He holds his breath, waiting for Louis to change his mind, but instead Louis smiles and kisses him sweetly on the lips.

“That’s okay, love. I’ll show you,” Louis responds once he breaks the kiss. Harry is having a hard time believing Louis real. Louis is really straddling him in his living room on a dirty, old, worn out couch asking him to finger him. Holy shit. He has to be dreaming. Maybe he built a fire and wanked off to thoughts of Louis but fell asleep before he got off, and this is the result. If Louis is a dream, then he is a damn good one because everything feels entirely too real.

“I don’t have any lube,” Harry says, suddenly, feeling defeated. He was totally not prepared for this turn of events. Maybe they shouldn’t do it since he obviously didn’t think ahead, but Louis begins shaking his head and holds something out in front of his face.

“I sorta brought a packet with me. I figured we were gonna do something, and well, lube helps the slide even if it was just a handjob or whatever. I wanted to be prepared,” Louis tells him then places the packet of lube in Harry’s now shaking hand. Holy shit. This is going to happen. His fingers are actually going to be inside of Louis. How? Just how? Harry knows his hands are large. He knows his fingers are long and could be painful if they were actually inside someone. Inside Louis. The other boy must be able to read the hesitation on his face because he says, “Haz, you won’t hurt me. I know you won’t. Trust me, okay?” Louis’ eyes are wide and honest, and Harry believes him.

“Okay.” Harry nods once, and Louis leans in to kiss him, starting it off slow and sweet. It doesn’t take long before their bodies start heating for each other again, Harry’s hands finding Louis’ ass to help him rut against him, their cocks lining up to create a delicious friction. Harry thinks he could come like this, with Louis’ small body on his bathed in the flickering light of the fire as he moves to the rhythm of their heartbeats.  

“Fuck, Harry, I want you inside me,” Louis moans breaking their kiss, the words going straight to Harry’s cock. Louis is breathing heavy, his bare chest rubbing against Harry with each deep inhale. His eyes are glassy and his hair is messy from Harry’s own fingers. He is lovely in the soft light, making it seem as if he is literally glowing. Harry can’t get enough of him. Can’t believe he is allowed to touch him, to kiss him. Harry does not see himself as a good person, nor does he think he deserves good things, so he isn’t sure what he has done in order to deserve Louis, however, he doesn’t want to question it. If he believed in fate, maybe he would chalk it up to that, but he doesn't believe in that shit no more than he believes in God.

“Okay. What do I do?” Harry asks the question before he can stop himself. He hates that he even has to ask. He knows the basis of it. He has watched porn and has read far too man Drarry fanfics to not know the basics, but this is different. This is real. This isn't some story where they have magical lube, or a porn with impossible standards. This is Louis straddling his lap, begging for Harry’s fingers to be inside of him. This is big, and Harry is petrified of fucking it up. He just wants to make it good for Louis. It’s Louis’ birthday, afterall.  

“Open the packet and put some on your index finger. Don’t use it all, you will need a bit more for later,” Louis instructs, helping Harry open the foil packet since his hands are shaking far too much to do it alone. When he hands the now open lube to Harry, he squeezes a bit on his finger, sitting the rest down on the arm of the sofa. He reaches one long arm around Louis while Louis presses his firm chest against Harry’s giving him better access. Harry holds his breath as he finds Louis’ tight hole with one slick finger.

“Okay, now spread it around a bit. Just like that, love. You’re doing so well,” Louis encourages, gripping Harry’s arm when Harry applies a bit of pressure. Harry freezes thinking that he has already hurt Louis with his ridiculously oversized and stupid fucking hands, but Louis looks to be in pleasure. This fact makes Harry relax a bit.

“Fuck, Harry. Please. God please, just press it in a little.” Harry swallows what feels like sandpaper in his throat as he carefully pushes past Louis’ tight ring of muscle, the tip of his finger breaching it with little effort. “Feels so good,” Louis murmurs against Harry’s shoulder, kissing the skin already below his lips. Louis whimpers when Harry removes his fingers to reach for the packet of lube.

“It’s alright, baby, just wanna get more lube. Get you nice and wet,” Harry explains, kissing his nose. He has no idea where that statement came from, but it seems to turn Louis on even more because he whines and ruts against Harry’s lap trying to get friction on his cock. Harry uses his lube free hand to still Louis’ hips. He does it because he doesn't want him or Louis to come yet. Harry puts more lube on his finger, using his ring and index fingers to spread it over the digit. He wraps his arm around Louis again, quickly finding his hole this time. It is still wet from moments ago, so he is able to slide the tip in easily. Holy shit. Louis is already so tight and hot around him. Harry’s cock throbs just imagining what the tight heat would feel like around it.

 

_________

 

“Fuck. Harry. Yes. Just like that. More,” Louis moans when he feels Harry’s wet index finger breach his hole again, the sensation sending a spark of pleasure straight to Louis’ balls. It has been a while since Louis has had anything inside of him. He usually doesn’t bother when he masterbates, his arms are too short, so it can make the angle a bit awkward, plus it would be much harder to explain if his parents catch him. The intrusion stings a bit, burning from the stretch, but Louis is relishing in it. He fucking missed it. Missed feeling full, and he has been dreaming about Harry’s Goddamned hands for the better part of four months.

“More?” Harry asks, and Louis can hear the hesitance in his voice. Louis is fucking proud of him though. First he opened up about his reasoning behind hating Christmas and now this. Louis nods, and pushes his own hips down on Harry’s finger. He hisses out a breath in both pain and pleasure as Harry’s digit sinks deeper into him. Louis takes a moment to get used to the stretch, allowing himself to sink even deeper.

“That’s it, love. Fuck me with your finger,” Louis begs, his voice high and raspy with need. Finally. Finally Harry begins moving his finger in and out, and Louis can’t help but meet the thrust, his eyes rolling back into his head with pleasure. Harry’s finger is long and perfect inside of him, and Louis needs more. Harry’s body looks almost golden in the light of the fire, his hair looking darker somehow. Fuck, he may be the most beautiful thing Louis has ever seen in his life.

“Fuck, Lou. You’re so tight,” Harry mumbles voice gravelly, as he trails more hot kisses across Louis’ collarbones, licking and biting as he goes. Louis has a suspicion that Harry may have a bit of an obsession with his collarbones, but Louis has no room to talk. Louis has a similar obsession with Harry’s hands it seems. Louis uses both hands to thread his fingers through Harry’s hair, forcing his face up so Louis can capture his lips in a heated kiss, their tongues battling for dominance immediately. Louis fists Harry’s dark curls and moans deep when Harry crooks his finger and hits his spot, sending a jolt of pleasure straight into Louis’ neglected dick.

“Fuck Harry. God. Right there. Fuck,” Louis moans in abandon, feeling it when Harry repeats the motion, hitting his prostate dead on this time, prompting Louis to actually yell out in pleasure. “Add another one.” Harry removes his finger long enough to add more lube. He doesn't really need it, but Louis doesn’t say anything, not wanting to embarrass him, plus it’s nice being with someone who is sober enough to be concerned about this type of thing. Harry then reaches back around, using his long arms to his advantage. He slowly, ever so fucking slowly, pushes two fingers in. Louis tries to relax, allowing his body to get used to the stretch, but Harry’s fingers are fucking huge. It take a few agonizing moments before the pleasure starts outweighing the pain. He knows it will be better when one of them moves, so he begins shifting his own hips in a small circular motion, using strong legs to control the pace.

“Holy shit,” Harry moans, biting Louis’ shoulder as Louis starts moving faster, fucking himself on Harry’s thick fingers, moaning when he can feel the cool surface of his rings barely touching his rim. He imagines it’s Harry’s dick that is splitting him open instead of his fingers, which just urges him on. Harry crooks his fingers again, and Louis cries out as he hits his spot dead on. Fuck. Harry really is a natural at this, and it may end up being the death of Louis.

“Fuck. Harry, you feel so good. Doing so good. God. Need you to touch me.” Louis grips the back of the couch with two hands, using it for leverage as he begins moving up and down on Harry’s hard fingers, their dicks slapping together every time Louis sinks down. Harry seems to understand what he is asking for because he takes his free hand and pushes it between their sweaty bodies. He wraps his large hand around both of their dicks. He doesn't need to do much, letting Louis’ momentum create most of the friction as Louis keeps moving up then sinking back down, using strong legs.

“Ah. Fuck. Harry. I’m so fucking close. Keep doing that,” Louis begs, feeling out of his mind with pleasure now. Harry feels perfect under him, his body hot and hard. Louis leans down to capture Harry’s lips in a kiss. Harry chooses that moment to begin fucking Louis back, his fingers going deeper with every thrust, making Louis scream into Harry’s waiting mouth. Spark after spark of pleasure goes through Louis’ system. He can feel the tell-tale sign of his orgasm approaching, the knot at the pit of his stomach tighter than ever, his balls feeling as if they are about about explode from the sheer force of it all.

“Come on, baby. Come with me. I’m close, too. Need you to come with me though,” Harry growls out, pressing hard onto Louis spot, and Louis just topples over the edge. He screams into Harry’s mouth as spurt after spurt of his own come coats both of their stomachs and chest. He can feel it when Harry releases soon after, their fluids mixing together not for the first time. Louis collapses on top of Harry, smearing the come between them, but he doesn’t care. He is warm and satisfied after the best birthday he has ever had. He whimpers from the loss when Harry slowly removes his fingers, wiping them down on the couch.

“Merry Christmas, Lou,” Harry says, kissing his temple after a few moments of cuddling. Louis is confused until he looks at his watch to note that it is in fact after midnight. He burst out into laughter when he sees the smirk on Harry’s face in the dim light of the room. Louis hates him. Well not really, because the feeling blooming in his chest is definitely not hate. He decides to smack Harry’s arm instead, laughing again when Harry cracks a smile, his dimples popping.

“Does that mean we can exchange presents?” Louis asks, grimacing as he gets off Harry, deciding to just lay naked on the couch while Harry disappears into the kitchen, probably to grab some wet paper towels. Harry comes back a moment later with his chest now clean and a damp cloth in his hand. He wipes their release off Louis’ chest then disappears again. Louis takes that moment to get up, and put his shirt, underwear and pants back on. He decides to sit on the floor in front of the old tree that looks like it is falling apart. It has cheap silver tinsel hanging draped over each fake branch, some of the ornaments are cracked or just simply broken, and the lights aren’t turned on, leaving it eerily dark.

Harry is still completely naked when he walks back into the room, and Louis can’t help but stare. He watches the way Harry’s long lean muscles flex as he begins to put his clothing back on. Which is a fucking travesty. Harry should always walk around naked if you ask Louis. The man is beautiful in about one hundred and sixty three different ways. He kept his jewelry on during the whole thing, like he always does. Now that Louis thinks of it, he has never seen Harry without the bracelets unless he is wearing a long sleeved shirt.

Louis put that to the back of his mind when Harry walks over to the Christmas tree, bending down and plugging the lights in. The tree doesn’t look much better lit up, the multicolored lights blinking on and off every few seconds, making the fake polyvinyl material stand out that much more. Harry then picks a large box up, leaving only four presents under the tree. Louis thinks about the presents that are sitting under his tree at home right now. Himself and each one of his siblings have at least a dozen gifts each, thousands of dollars being spent on them this year. Thousands of dollars being spent on them every year. Yet, Harry has to spend Christmas in a cold house with only four presents, only one is probably his own. He spent many Christmases like that from what Louis could gather from his story, and how is that fair? What kind of God allows one family to have so much while another to have so little?

He is abruptly pulled out of his dark thoughts when Harry sits opposite of him, holding out the retrieved gift in two large hands. The present is wrapped in red paper with silver designs, and silver ribbon tied in a large bow on top of it. The tag reads ‘To: Lou From: Haz xx’.  Louis can’t imagine Harry sitting down and carefully wrapping his present, then adorning it with a bow and and handwritten tag, but it seems that is exactly what he had done. It’s perfect.

“I-- umm-- I hope you like it,” Harry tells him, handing the present to Louis. Louis is surprised to find that it is heavy, very heavy. His curiosity is killing him because he has no idea what could be so heavy yet in a smallish box. He shakes it, not hearing a single sound come from it. “Open it, Lou,” Harry laughs, the sound making Louis feel warm all over. Without further hesitation, Louis rips into the paper, throwing it to the floor to reveal his present.

“You bought me the Harry Potter books!?!” Louis exclaims, holding them in his hands. They are all in one box, the spines facing towards him. He uses one finger to trace over the lettering, not quite believing they are his. He knows the set is expensive, which makes it that much more precious since Harry probably had spent his own hard earned money on him. He has been thinking about them a lot since he saw Harry reading one after his accident. Harry’s words, as always, echoing in his head for the rest of the day, making more sense than he wanted to admit. He had seen the trailers for the movies on television, and they always seemed so magical. He never really understood why he was forbidden from reading or watching them; he just accepted it.  

“I know you said your parents wouldn’t allow you to read them, but that just doesn’t sit right with me. These books were my only friend through some really difficult times, and-- well I think you should read them. You would probably enjoy them, and you will find that there is nothing evil or bad about them,” Harry rambles, talking faster because he is clearly nervous. Louis wonders what kind of hard times they helped Harry through, but doesn’t ask, knowing that Harry has shared more tonight than he ever has before.  

“Yeah. Of course, I’ll read them. I’ve always kind of wanted to; I just accepted that I wasn’t allowed. Can we-- umm-- keep them here at your house though? If Mark finds them, he will burn them, and I-- I don’t want that at all. I want to keep them forever, so can I store them here? I’ll read them at night when I’m supposed be asleep or something. When I’m done with the first, you can bring the the next with you to school,” Louis plans, smiling with how brilliant it is. His parents make him go to bed at 10pm anyways because they think he is a fucking toddler. He could probably use the brightness provided from his clock as a sort of flashlight to read for a few hours before he actually goes to sleep. He could also read like Harry does during class.

“Yeah. I’d be glad to hide them here for you,” Harry tells him, and Louis jumps in his arms, hugging him tightly.

“Your turn,” Louis exclaims releasing him. He stands up to retrieve the large box that Harry’s present is wrapped in. He didn’t do a great job of wrapping it, the green paper not lining up, and tape in random places. He at least tried though, with Willow’s help. He hands it to Harry and returns to his spot, sitting with his legs crossed in front of him as he waits patiently for Harry to open it. Harry just stares at it for a few minutes, using long fingers to trace the lettering on the wrapping paper as if he can’t believe someone got a present for him.

Louis feels like he is about to jump out of his skin with excitement at any moment, just wanting Harry to open his present already to see what’s inside. Harry, of course, takes his sweet ass time turning it over and running his fingers under the seam to pop the tape instead of just ripping into the paper. Louis kind of wants to strangle him then rip into the present himself, but refrains knowing that Harry probably doesn’t get many presents. That thought sends a pang of guilt through his chest, making his breath hitch for the shortest second before returning to normal when he realizes Harry has finally gotten down to the plain white box inside.

“Go ahead, open it,” Louis encourages with a smile when Harry looks up at him with wide eyes. Harry carefully pulls the lid off the box, his full lips opening into a small ‘o’ when he reveals what is inside.

“Louis. You can’t be serious,” Harry says, running his fingers over the strings along the neck.

“I am very serious.”

“You got me a fucking guitar. Not just a guitar, but the guitar I have been saving up for at the shop. ” Harry voice cracks with the words as he carefully reaches into the box, wrapping one large hand around the neck and pulling it out. The instrument is a simple maple wood stained with a dark, shiny, mahogany finish. He pushes the box out of his lap in favor of laying the guitar on it, picking at some of the strings randomly with black painted nails. He looks so good with a guitar in his hands; Louis almost swoons. He kind of wants to fan himself. The fire is making the room hotter, that has to be it.

“Yeah. I asked Willow and Mac to tell me which one you liked the most. They both said you had been saving up for this one, so I kind of bought it with the money my mom gave me to buy Willow a gift with. Don’t worry, Will is aware,” Louis chuckles with that, suddenly feeling nervous. “Mac tuned it for me and gave me a great deal. Employee’s discount since you were going to buy it anyways, and he knew I wanted to buy it for you for Christmas.” Louis knows he is rambling, but he can’t help it.

“But how did you know I wanted to learn to play?” Harry asks, running his hands over every available surface of the stringed instrument in awe. Louis loves that look on his face. It makes his heart beat funny and his stomach do somersaults.

“Umm-- Niall actually gave me the idea. I asked him because I had no idea what to buy you. He said that you liked music, which I already knew, but then he said that you had always wanted to learn to play the guitar. That’s what lead me to Willow and Mac,” Louis explains, feeling proud of his buying something that Harry so obviously loves.

“Thank you, Lou. I love it,” Harry says, green eyes shining in the light of the Christmas tree as he looks up, dimples popping. Louis feels like his heart melts. He leans in, kissing Harry chastely because he can’t help it. He just feels like he has to in the same way that he has to breathe or drink water. As if his very life depends on him kissing Harry in that moment.

“Merry Christmas, love.”

“Happy Yule, Lou.”

Chapter Text

“image”

Are you ready for my soul?
What if I'm broken from the start?
And what if I never heal?
Are you ready for my soul?
What if I open up my heart?
And somehow we stumble into something real?- Thrice

“He’s coming for dinner, Lou,” Harry says into the speaker of his phone as he plops down on his bed. He is nervous about the upcoming dinner, so he decided to call Louis to calm his nerves. He tries not to think about the fact that Louis is the first person that he thought to call, not Niall or even just not talking to anyone about it all. He thinks he would have opted to keep it in, before. Before Louis. Before he had someone he is really starting to trust to confide in. Harry will even admit that it is nice, having someone to talk to for moments like these.

Tell me again why this is a bad thing, Haz.

“I don’t know. I just-- like I know it’s not going to last, so what’s the point in wasting time and energy?” Harry asks, moving his sock clad feet with the words, trying to warm them up a bit. His room is so cold even with the space heater because he can’t leave the damn thing on when nobody is home or else he will catch the house on fire.

You don’t know that, Hazza. I thought you were the logical one in this relationship.

Harry can hear the smile in Louis’ voice, and he may or may not melt at the word ‘relationship’. They haven't defined anything, but it still feels like more than a friendship that’s for damn sure. Harry bites lip then pulls it between his thumb and index finger as he thinks about Louis’ words. “How did you feel when your mom started dating Mark?” Harry asks, finally. It is the question that has been on his mind.

I was young when he came into the picture. I don’t remember much, but I do remember being happy that my mom was happy. Does he make your mom happy?

“Yeah. I guess. I mean she has been smiling more. She has had boyfriends since her divorce, but none of them seemed this serious, Lou. Like she has never asked them to dinner. Fucking dinner, and wanted me to actually be there,” Harry admits. It’s easier to admit it through the receiver of a phone than in person.

So you are actually admitting she has a boyfriend, then?

Harry knows Louis is smirking on the other end of the phone, and Harry wishes he was there to kiss the look off his ridiculously pretty face. He is not though, so he is going to have to settle for just talking with his words. “Yes. She has a boyfriend. His name is Robin, and they seem pretty serious. Happy?” Harry rolls his eyes, but he is smiling. He can’t help it. Louis makes him smile.

Yes. I am actually. The first step is admitting it.

“Jesus, Lou. I am banning you from speaking to Niall ever again. You are starting to sound like him. Pretty soon you are going to start using words like ‘tarnation’ and phrases like ‘down yonder’ as a form of measurement,” Harry jokes, laughing at the outraged sound Louis makes on the other side of the line.

I don’t even know what half of that means, thank you very much. Now back to the topic you are obviously trying to change. Why is this such a big deal to you, Hazza?

“Fuck. Fine, Lou. Robin-- he likes me. Like he tries to talk to me and get to know me, and it’s fucking weird. None of her other fuck offs have even so much as learned my name, but Robin always asks me about my grades and my homework and shit. I mean, he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of chances to ask like a lot of questions, but he asks more questions when he actually sees me than she does,” Harry rambles, finally telling Louis what is on his mind. It is nice to get it off his chest. He has actually been wanting to talk to Louis about it for sometime, he just never knew how.

What’s wrong with that, though? To me, it just seems like he really likes your mom and wants to get to know you too because you are obviously an important person in your mom’s life…

“But I’m not,” Harry says, abruptly cutting off Louis’ sentence. “I don’t think I am all that important to her. She doesn’t even really like to be in the same room as me, so why would he think I’m important? I am almost sure that is why none of the other guys have tried to get to know me. They probably could tell I wasn’t a priority to her.” It’s true. He wasn’t even a priority to his own father, so he just couldn’t understand why Robin seemed so interested in getting to know him.

I don’t think that’s true, Haz. I think you are important to her, but maybe she just doesn't understand you. Maybe you should give this Robin guy a chance. If he makes your mom happy, then what’s the harm, as long as he doesn’t like, abuse you or anything.

His voice sounds sad, and Harry isn’t sure if it is because Harry thinks he is unimportant to his mom or if it has more to do with the abuse statement. Harry wonders, not for the first time, if Louis and Mark’s relationship is as good as Louis wants him to believe. Louis has never said it was amazing or anything, but he has said, on more than one occasion, that he is grateful for Mark and everything he has done for him and his mom. Harry just gets the feeling there is more to it than that. He doesn’t think Mark physically abuses Louis. He has seen every inch of his body and the only marks there are from Harry himself, but there are other types of abuse, right? Surely the way that Mark yells and screams at Louis, and the names he calls him is abuse. Louis hasn’t really spoke a whole lot about it, but he has mentioned Mark and his tendency to belittle Louis for his way of speaking or acting. “Yeah. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should give him a chance.”

That’s my boy.

Just like that, Louis’ smile is back in his voice, and Harry’s own face is splitting into a wide grin. “Thanks for talking to me about it, Lou. I have to go. He should be here any minute,” Harry tells him with a sigh as he glances at the clock. He can smell the food that his mom is cooking from downstairs. Harry can’t remember the last time she actually cooked, so she must want to make a good impression. Harry is kind of bitter about it though. Of course, she would cook for this random dude she has been seeing, but she can’t be bothered to cook for her own son.  

Alright, love. I’ll talk to you later.

“I’ll text you if I’m miserable. Bye,” Harry says, then taps the call end button feeling so much better now that he talked to Louis about it. He has just been doing better in general since Louis came into his life, save for their one hiccup. He hasn’t felt the need to cut in weeks, not since Thanksgiving and that was more because he was nervous and less because he was sad. Even though he hadn’t done it in years before Louis, he still sometimes wanted to. Like tonight, being thrown into something new like a dinner with his mom’s boyfriend, would have made him want to cut. Instead of feeling the need, he called Louis, and that fact does not escape him. He gets off the bed when he hears the doorbell ring, taking a deep breath before walking down stairs.

“Hey Harry,” Robin greets with a broad smile as soon as Harry steps into the living room. Harry smiles, well it may be more of a grimace, and nods in his direction, not really knowing how to act. He feels out of his element with this, and he kind of hates it. He wishes Louis could have come. Louis always makes him feel more at ease.

“Hey,” Harry returns, watching as his mom takes Robin’s coat, laying it over the back of the chair in the corner. He isn’t sure what else to say. Should he ask how he is? Maybe if it’s cold outside? Fuck. Harry hasn’t seen or even so much as uttered a word to his own father for almost four years. Robin isn’t his father, obviously, but it kind of feels like that same thing.

“How are you doing?” Robin asks, clapping a hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezing warmly. This is so weird. Even when his dad was around, he wasn’t warm, ever. He wasn’t a bad father, but he also wasn’t the type that would talk to Harry about his feelings and shit. He worked a lot, seeming to never want to be around them even when he was still at home. After he left, his mom took his place in the working category, refusing to take any money from the asshole. Harry didn’t blame her. Harry didn’t want to see him, and if she had taken child support from him, he would have been forced to. It was the one good thing Anne has done for him since the whole debacle. It’s his fault he left though, and Harry feels an enormous amount of guilt for that. He pushes the dark thought from his mind, opting to answer Robin’s question.

“I’m good.” Harry doesn’t mean to sound so short, he just doesn’t ever know what to say when someone asks him that question. He is also still not used to people asking him things like that. People other than Niall caring about his well being is still fairly new to him. He hasn’t even decided if Robin really cares about his well being, or if he is just trying to get into his mom’s pants. It may be a cynical thought, but Harry has never claimed to be an optimistic person. Time will tell, he supposes.

“I heard you talking to someone, who was it?” Anne asks, and her tone isn’t accusatory at all, more curious. Harry turns to her so fast, he probably has whiplash. His mouth is hanging open, gaping in shock. Other than when she asked if he was selling drugs, she hasn’t asked a question about his life in so long, he doesn't exactly know how to respond. The drugs question doesn't really count though because that was more of an accusal.

“Umm-- My friend Louis,” Harry answers honestly because he is so taken off guard, he doesn’t even think to lie.

“Oh, the nice boy we met at the concert, Anne. Remember? The one that gave Harry his Santa hat, so he could be more festive.” Robin smiles at Harry, nodding to Anne. Harry feels like he is in the twilight zone or some shit. He is going to be in a permanent state of shock if Robin keeps this up, keeps remembering little things that have happened with Harry. Anne nods her head, as if she remembers, she might, but Harry doesn’t know.

“Oh yes. He was very nice. I’m so glad you’re making friends,” Anne says, smiling at Harry brightly like she is actually happy about his budding friendships. It is probably just an act though. An act around Robin. “Well dinner is ready, so who’s hungry?” Harry and Robin both nod, then head into the kitchen where a small table is sat, three plates of spaghetti already served with garlic bread on the side. It smells good, and Harry’s stomach rumbles in response. His mom always made the best fucking pasta when she cooked. He almost cries for the simple fact that he missed it so much. He better not get used to it though, it will probably change sooner rather than later.

“This looks delicious.” Robin kisses Anne on the cheek with the statement. She smiles her dimples popping and gives him a disgustingly fond look. Harry makes a face as he watches Robin pull out her chair for her, then takes the seat across from her, leaving Harry to sit at the head of the table.

“So Harry. I asked your Mom for this dinner, so I could get to know you a bit better. Tell me a little about yourself,” Robin prompts, picking up his fork and beginning to twirl some noodles on it. Harry watches the motion because he needs something to do other than make eye contact with either Robin or his mom.

“Umm-- I’m really not that interesting,” Harry responds because it’s the truth. He wouldn’t even know what to say. He remembers telling Louis the exact same thing when he had asked a similar question months ago. He still stands by his original belief. He is weird and boring. Not interesting in the slightest.

“I don’t think that’s true. What are some of your hobbies?” Robin asks, smiling at him. Anne is also smiling and nodding along, as if she is interested as well. Maybe if she spent more than three seconds in the same room as him, she would know his hobbies.

“Oh, well. I like to write and read. Oh and umm-- I’ve been teaching myself to play the guitar,” Harry responds, beginning to play with his food because he needs something to do with his hands. Fuck. He wishes Louis was here. Louis is so much better at talking to people. He has been teaching himself to play since Christmas. It has only been a few days, but he has already learned like three cords. That's improvement, right? He can’t wait to show Louis when he comes over for New Years Eve in a few days.

“Guitar, eh? I used to play guitar back in the day. Haven’t picked it up in years, but I’m sure I remember a few things if you’d like me to show you sometime,” Robin offers, smiling at Harry. Harry is so taken aback by the proposal, he can’t keep the look of shock from his face. Robin wants to do something with him? He can’t be serious. This has to be another tactic to get to his mom. It has to be. Harry wants to tell him that he is barking up the wrong tree because his mom gives zero fucks about him but refrains.

“Yeah. Um-- I’d like that. I’ve been using YouTube mostly,” Harry tells him, and it’s been hard because he has to use his phone since he doesn’t have a laptop. It would be nice to have a few pointers if he’s honest, he just doesn’t know why Robin is offering. Even when his dad was around, the man never once offered to teach Harry to do anything. He never played catch, or took him hunting, or anything other dad’s do. Harry didn’t care, it is just odd to him that this practical stranger is offering to do something like that.

“What kind of music do you wanna play?” Robin asks next, taking a bite of his pasta while keeping eye contact with Harry. For his part, Harry looks down, using some garlic bread to help twirl pasta on to the prongs of his fork.

“Rock. I listen to mostly metal,” Harry tells him, waiting for the look of disgust to cross his face. His mom scrunches her nose up and opens her mouth to say something, but Robin beats her to it.

“Me, too. I saw Def Leppard live in concert 20 years ago. It was the best concert I had ever been to.” Robin smiles, getting a far off look in his eyes at the memory. Harry smiles, too, because that’s cool as shit. Harry has a feeling that Mac and Robin would get along splendidly. Harry doesn't miss it when Robin reaches across the table to hold Anne’s hand in his own.

“Harry, I didn’t know you still listened to that kind of music,” Anne pipes in, face still resembling one of someone who has smelled something foul.

“You’ve never bothered to ask,” Harry responds with a shrug, his tone short and pointed while he takes another bite of his food. Just like that, there is  tension in the room that is so tight, Harry doesn’t know how everyone is still breathing.

“Harry that’s not fair,” Anne says finally, dropping her fork and fixing him with a hard stare. Harry will not back down, though. Harry feels like his blood is boiling because he is suddenly so angry with her. Not fair? How dare she decide what isn’t fair. She hasn't been around enough to make that decision. He can feel his body starting to shake because she has never seemed to care what was fair before. She is trying to put on a fucking show for her boyfriend and act like she gives a damn about him when she clearly doesn’t. Harry isn’t going to play. If Robin wants into this dysfunctional family of bullshit, he needs to know what the fuck he is getting into.

“What’s not fair, Mom?” Harry asks. His tone is accusatory with just a hint of sarcasm laced throughout. Anne sputters, so Harry continues before she can cut him off,  “I personally think it’s not fair that you constantly leave me here alone because you can’t stand being in the same room as me, and you use work as an excuse. I also think it’s not fair that you are learning more about me tonight because Robin here is asking me more questions than you have in the past three years. And it’s really not fair that Gemma doesn’t even want to come visit because the tension between us is so fucking thick, that it makes her sick.” Harry’s heart is racing in his chest, not being able to quite believe he said all of that. Robin looks completely shocked, but he hasn’t made any move to run away as he should. Anne’s mouth is hanging open, her eyes blinking rapidly as if she is attempting to blink back tears. Harry finds some kind of sick satisfaction in that, and he knows it’s terrible. At least she is showing some kind of emotion. Something more than the cool indifference he has gotten from her for the past fuck knows how long.

“Harry-- I…” Her voice is shaky, and she isn’t making eye contact with him anymore, instead looking down at her and Robin’s joined hands as she squeezes it tightly. Harry cuts her off, not really being in the mood to hear whatever lie she is about is spew.

“Forget it. Thank you for dinner, but I’ll be in my room. I’m suddenly not very hungry.” He pushes his chair back quickly, the legs making a loud scraping sound as they move across the linoleum floor. He glances at his mom one final time watching as she bows her head. He almost feels sorry for his words, but he believes he is justified in saying them. It needed to be said. He couldn’t sit there and let her play the victim. Let her act like the perfect fucking mother in front of her new boyfriend. He wouldn't. Harry knows he isn’t perfect. He has never pretended to be. He is painfully aware that their relationship is fucked up because of him, and he is even more aware that the reason why his father left rests squarely on his shoulders.

He leaves the kitchen, taking the stairs two at a time, his footfalls sounding thunderous on the old creaking wood before he is in his room, shutting the door firmly behind him. He paces his room for a few minutes, debating about leaving the house completely, still shaking from what happened down stairs. He wants to cry. It is the most he has said to his mom since the day he went grocery shopping with Louis. He takes a few deep breaths, deciding to call Louis. Louis said he was going to be studying for the next few hours, so he should be alone enough to talk to Harry. Harry sits down on his bed, pulling the phone out of his pocket and hovers his finger over the button when he hears a knock on the door. What the fuck? His mom has never followed him upstairs. She hasn’t even been in his room since… the incident. She won’t go near it, not even spare it a glance. He doesn’t blame her. He has bad memories of it too, but he has to sleep here therefore he has gotten over it.

“Come in,” he says, voice thick with emotion. He blinks back tears, feeling his face heat up with the action. He has no idea why he told her she could come in. Mostly wanting to see if she would actually come all the way in or just hover around the door. The door slowly opens, and Harry’s mouth drops in surprise. Instead of woman with long dark hair and features far too similar to his own coming through the doorway, it is a man with a graying beard and a kind face. Harry blinks at him, eyes suddenly dry out of sheer astonishment and confusion. Is Harry fucking hallucinating? He hasn't smoked weed in a few days, so he doesn’t think he has gotten a hold of anything that was laced. He has to be hallucinating though, because his mom’s random boyfriends don’t just come into his room after something like that. Robin should be tucking tail and hauling ass out the door, not going towards the obviously broken person.

“Hey. Can I talk to you for a minute?” Robin asks, his voice hesitant but his eyes genuine. Harry just nods dumbly, expecting Robin to stand over him and maybe even give him a lecture as to why he shouldn’t speak to his mother like that, but instead Robin sits beside him on the bed. He puts his elbows on his knees and laces his fingers together, turning his head to look at Harry. He isn’t touching him, but Harry stiffens just the same. “I’m not here to give you a lecture, Harry.”

“Then why are you here?” Harry asks, staring at the closet because it is a far better alternative than looking at Robin. Harry doesn’t think he can handle the look of disappointment in another person’s eyes even if it’s a virtual stranger. He just can’t fucking do it. He is so tired of seeing it in his mom’s eyes. In Gemma’s eyes. Everything used to be so good, not great, but good, and now everything is broken. Everything is broken because of him, and he hates himself for it.

“I just wanted to tell you that if you think what happened downstairs is going to scare me off, you have another thing coming. I really care for your mom, Harry, but I am not going to sit here and make excuses for her. She told me things between you two are strained. I know that everything isn’t going to be fixed overnight or maybe ever, but I want things to be better. I know I am nothing to you, not yet, but I want to be. I am not trying to replace your dad, Harry, nor am I trying to force you to have a relationship with me or your mom, but I want you to at least consider it.” Harry isn’t looking at him during his speech, but he can hear the honesty in his voice. Harry wants to believe him. He wants to like him, even. He really fucking does, but it’s so fucking hard given everything he has been through. His dad doesn't want anything to do with him, and he is supposed to believe this random man does? It’s hard to wrap his head around, but he finds himself nodding.

“Okay. I’ll think about it,” Harry responds, voice thick with emotion, finally looking at Robin. Robin smiles at him, then pats his knee twice before he leaves the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Harry needs to talk to Louis. He needs to tell him everything that happened, get his opinion on everything. He also just wants to hear the sound of his voice. Louis has a way of making him calm. He may even be able to sleep tonight if he hears it. He grabs his discarded phone, tapping Louis’ name. It rings exactly two times before Louis’ raspy voice answers, and Harry feels the tension leaving his body just like that.

 

__________

 

“I’m sorry you don’t feel up to coming tonight, Lou,” Jay says, her eyes kind. “I brought you some pain meds though. Stay off that foot. Let me see if it’s swelling.” She walks over to Louis who is currently laying on his bed.

“Yeah. I’m bummed, too, but I would have no fun being on my feet at the church for the next few hours. Stupid cold weather making the sprain flair up,” he lies, putting a sadness in his voice like he is just so fucking upset that he is missing the church’s boring New Year’s Eve celebration. He doesn’t even know if an ankle sprain flaring up due to weather is a thing, but his mom seems to believe him therefore he isn’t going to question it.

“It does look kind of swollen, so you best stay off it.” His mom picks up his ankle examining it before laying it gently back down on the bed. It’s not swollen at all, but if she wants to believe that then it’s fine by him. “Will you be okay here alone?”

“Mom, I’m nineteen now. I think I’ll be fine. Mark is even fine leaving me alone, plus the girls deserve to have some fun, and so do you all. I’m probably just gonna take these pain meds and go to bed. New Year’s isn’t that special anyways,” Louis reasons, even though that is totally not what he is planning to do. New Year’s is special, and he is planning to spend it with Harry. He just needs his mom and the rest of his family to leave already, so that he can sneak out. He has been feeling antsy over it all damn day. He feels like he has looked at the clock at least three hundred and seventy two thousand four hundred and six times in the past five hours alone, just waiting for his family to leave, so he can do the same.

He started acting like his ankle was bothering him around noon, and it has progressively gotten ‘worse’ since then. He even went as far to limp around the kitchen to get a snack. When is mom suggested he stay home, he insisted on going just to make it that much more believable. Louis has said it before, and will continue to say it, he deserves a fucking Oscar. At least a goddamned nomination for his performance in the featured film titled The Passion of the Sodomite; it will be a tale about a boy who may or may not be falling for another boy and lies to his parents constantly to see said boy. It will break box office records and be labeled as ‘ahead of its time’ or some shit by some sort of pompas magazine. Louis just knows it.

“Okay, Lou. We are going to head out. I hope your ankle feels a bit better. We will be home late, so we will see you in the morning,” she tells him, kissing him on the forehead.

“Thanks, Mom. See you all in the morning. Have fun.” He watches as she exits the room, turning off the light as she does so. He holds his breath, listening for her and the rest of his family to leave the house. He gives it another ten excruciating minutes before he jumps out of bed, fully dressed, and makes his way out of the house, texting Harry as he walks. He pulls his hood over his head, trying to mask his appearance in case anyone happens to see him and takes the back way to Harry’s house, not wanting to risk anything. If he gets caught, he could kiss any more nights like this with Harry goodbye, and he simply isn’t prepared for that kind of sad existence.

Before he knows it, he is knocking on Harry’s door listening for the footfalls signalling he is about to answer. Louis is freezing his ass off, but it is completely worth it when Harry opens the door with a huge smile, dimples popping. Holy fucking shit. Louis doesn't know if he will ever get used to seeing Harry smiling so much, and he is perfectly okay with this. He will gladly have a heart attack every single time Harry’s dimples show if it means Harry continues to show them. Louis feels like he hasn’t seen Harry in ages when in reality it has only been like a week, but that doesn’t stop him from launching himself into Harry’s arms, wrapping his own around Harry’s neck. Harry squeezes him tight, picking him up a bit in the process as Louis takes a moment to breathe in his scent. Fuck. Louis missed him so much. They went from seeing each other every single weekday at school to only seeing one another once over the course of a week. Louis hates it.

“I missed you, too,” Harry mumbles into his hair, kissing his forehead, and Louis feels like he may faint. They have talked on the phone every single day since their break began, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that they were used to seeing each other five days a week. Harry releases him after a few more minutes, then pulls him inside out of the cold. Louis notices that the room is warmer this time. Harry must have started a fire early on, because it’s nice and warm, a welcome change from the bitter cold outside. Louis takes off his coat quickly, draping it over the back of the couch when they enter the living room.

“So umm--” Harry starts, looking down at his pigeon toed feet and kicking the off white carpet. Louis isn’t sure if it is off white or if it is just so stained and gross from years of neglect that it just looks off white. Harry is clearly nervous, and Louis can’t help smiling because it’s so damn endearing it hurts Louis’ chest. Louis just wants to squeeze him until his eyes pop out of his skull because he is so fucking cute, but he could never do that. He would miss his curly haired boy far too much.

“Harry, please don’t be afraid to say what you are thinking with me,” Louis says, giving Harry an encouraging smile. He means it too. He never wants Harry to be afraid to be himself with him. He always wants to hear Harry’s thoughts because Harry’s brain is fucking fascinating. He is brilliant really. The way his brain works is so strange and amazing; Louis just wants to understand it. Harry is incredibly logical and approaches everything in his life with that, never taking emotions into account. Louis has never met anyone quite like him, and he just loves that about him. Harry doesn’t even realize how smart he actually is; doesn’t even realize when he is being fucking brilliant.

“I was thinking that maybe we could hang out in my room. Maybe listen to music and stuff then come back down here to watch the ball drop since I don’t have, like, umm-- a TV in my room or anything. If you wanted to stay down here that’s cool, too. My room isn’t great or anything. It’s kind of cold, even though I’ve had the space heater on since I’ve been home. It probably smells weird too, like the rest of the house, so yeah, we can stay down here,” Harry rambles, and Louis has to stop him right there. He gets up on his tip toes and kisses him, stopping more self deprecating words from being released. He hates how insecure Harry is about everything, including where he lives. Harry can’t help where he lives or how he grew up. He has no control over that, and it would be unfair to judge him on it.

“I’d love to go up to your room. Maybe you can finally introduce me to some of your favorite bands.” Louis smiles up at him, dropping back down to his heels.

“You’re not gonna like it,” Harry warns, not making eye contact with Louis.

“I’ve listened to it before with you when we went grocery shopping, and I kind of liked it. Better than the shit my parents will let me listen to. If it doesn't fall into the category of country, gospel and bluegrass, it has to be better than that,” Louis reasons, shrugging his shoulders. He hates that type of music so fucking much, but they have access to his Spotify account therefore they can see if he tries to listen to anything else. Most days, he just doesn't listen to music. The music they played at football practice was pretty good, though Louis had no idea what half of it was.

“Eww.” Harry makes a face, shaking his head at the mention of gospel. Louis can’t say he blames him, but laughs because the look of disgust on Harry’s face is so fucking cute. Harry turns, going up the stairs, and Louis follows, enjoying the view of his ass as he walks them two at the at time. The way his long legs flex in his skinny jeans is down right sinful. Louis really should appreciate his ass more. It is a nice ass. A great ass even.

“Were you practicing before I got here?” Louis asks, seeing Harry’s guitar laying on his bed as soon as he walks into the room. He takes a moment to look around the room, noting that it is very small. Just enough space for a twin sized bed, a dresser, and a very small closet. No desk or computer that Louis can see. The walls are an off white with no decoration, not even posters of any kind. Harry probably can’t afford them, though. The carpet is just as stained as the one in the living room, maybe more so. It smells musty and is kind of cold, the small space heater sitting in front of the closet, barely warming it up. Louis doesn’t comment on any of these things, instead deciding to try to focus on the positives.

“Oh yeah,” Harry says, cheeks getting pink with the admission as he looks down at his toes, seeming to find the brown stain on the floor very fascinating. One large ringed hand comes up to rub the back of his neck, his too small shirt riding up exposing a sliver of pale skin. Louis licks his lips, suddenly wanting desperately to lick something else. It suddenly dawns on him that this is the first time he has been in Harry’s room. Louis wonders how many others have been up here. Probably not many. If Louis had to guess, he would say just Niall. He feels privileged in some way, getting a peek into this part of Harry’s life. A part he seems to want to keep hidden from the outside world. Maybe Harry is starting to trust him. He didn’t think Harry would tell him all of his secrets overnight, but small steps in a positive direction are better than no steps at all.

“Show me.” Harry starts shaking his head before the second word even leaves Louis’ lips, and he can’t have that. So Louis pushes out his bottom lip in a pout, looking up at Harry through his eyelashes, knowing Harry won’t agree without a little convincing. Harry looks like he is considering the request now at least, so that’s good. After a few moments of Louis keeping his pout, Harry finally caves. “Pwease Hazzy,” Louis begs, using his sister’s approach. He may not be as cute as them, but it seemed to work just fine on Harry.

“That isn’t going to work,” Harry says, with a laugh that dies down. He looks like he is considering it which is exactly what Louis wants.  

“Works for my sisters, and I’m just as cute,” Louis replies, shrugging and continuing his pout, looking up at Harry through his eyelashes again.

“Fine,” he responds, but Louis can tell he is attempting to suppress his smile. Louis, however, lets his face break out into one of his own because he got his way. He also gets to see Harry play the guitar which is something he has been dreaming about since he purchased it for him at the beginning of the month.  “But I only know like three cords and no songs, so it’s not going to be that impressive.”

“More than I can do,” Louis says, smiling wider when Harry takes the guitar in his hand, sitting down on the bed with his legs crossed placing it in his lap. Louis sits down opposite him, watching as his large hands find their place on the strings, pressing into them. His other hand holding a pick that looks too small in his long fingers as it comes up to strum. It is all kind of mesmerizing, and Louis’ dick is stiffening in his jeans. He didn’t know watching Harry play three cords would be so fucking pornagraphic, but here he is, desperately needing to adjust himself before Harry notices the bulge he is sporting.

“I can’t believe you have learned three cords already. You’ve only had it for a week,” Louis says, clapping when Harry finishes his demonstration. Harry’s whole face turns red with the compliment, the pink tint working it’s way down to his chest, dipping below the collar of his shirt. Louis is so proud of him, and he really can’t wait until Harry learns a whole song. He wants to listen to Harry’s deep voice as he sings along with the music he is making using the instrument Louis had bought him. He knows Harry will be embarrassed, but he thinks he will do it. Fuck. He hopes he will. Harry has real talent when it comes to singing, and the boy is oblivious to it. He is oblivious to a lot of things about himself, it seems, like how incredibly sexy he is.

 

__________

 

“So what’s your new year's resolution, Haz?” Louis asks, his breath ghosting over Harry’s jawline when he looks up with the question. They have spent the last few hours listening to music while talking about anything and everything. Harry shared more with Louis about his conversation with Robin, allowing Louis to ask him various questions regarding his decision while Louis traced the print on his shirt, since they had somehow ended up laying on Harry’s bed, with Louis resting half of his body on top of Harry. It feels nice, if Harry is being honest. He loves having Louis in his room.

“I don’t know,” Harry answers after a few moments of searching his brain and not coming up with anything substantial. He has never made a new year’s resolution, mostly because he was never looking forward to another year. He didn’t see the point, but now, he may have to think about it. Now that he has a lovely boy in his arms who wants him to tell him all of his secrets. Now that he is thinking about confiding some of them to said boy.

“Me neither, but I’m gonna think about it,” Louis responds, crooking his head up to give Harry a smile.

“I love this song,” Harry says, changing the subject when Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls starts playing through his cheap speaker that is connected to his phone. He starts humming along, running a hand down Louis’ arm, watching chill bumps pop up in the low light of the room.

“Let’s dance.” Louis has a sparkle in his eye as he sits up completely, shaking Harry with excitement. Harry shakes his head, but allows Louis to pull him up and off the bed. They move to the small clear area of the room, Louis placing his arms around Harry’s neck, tangling his fingers in the curls there. Harry, for his part, threads his arms around the small of Louis’ back, enjoying the feeling of Louis’ smaller body pressed against his own. They begin swaying to the beat of the song, Harry singing the words into Louis’ ear.

And I'd give up forever to touch you

'Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be

And I don't want to go home right now

 

And all I can taste is this moment

And all I can breathe is your life

And sooner or later it's over

I just don't wanna miss you tonight

 

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

 

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming

Or the moment of truth in your lies

When everything feels like the movies

Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive

 

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

 

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

 

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

 

I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

 

Harry means what he sings, every single word as they move to the rhythm of the song in his bedroom, hidden away from the outside world. Louis’ head is resting on his shoulder; Harry breathing in the smell that is Louis. The smell of his happiness. After the last word is sang, Louis looks up at him with shiny blue eyes, and he looks so beautiful at the moment, Harry feels like his chest is being crushed under some God’s fist. Pulverized since he just can’t handle it all. The moment. Louis looking like the only angel Harry will ever acknowledge. The feeling in his chest that wants to burst out and bathe the world.

Harry does the only thing he can do in that moment, the only thing his brain is screaming at him to do other than say the words he can’t say. He bends down and kisses Louis. The other boy responds immediately, pulling himself up on his tiptoes to the deepen the kiss, moaning when Harry parts his lips letting Louis’ seeking tongue gain entrance. They kiss for a few more minutes, or could be hours for all Harry knows, as the song switches to Only One by Yellowcard. Louis breaks the kiss, looking up into Harry’s eyes, “What do you want, love?”

Harry swallows, thinking about the question. He knows what he wants, but he is afraid to ask for it or to even let himself have it, so he decides to go with something else that has been on his mind since Christmas. Something that he has been considering a lot lately. Every single time he is around Louis, his stomach does that weird flip thing, and he feels as though there are dozens of butterflies that have made their home in there. Not butterflies. Harry hates butterflies. Moths. They are like nocturnal butterflies, way more goth. Yes. He feels like he has moths in his stomach every time he shares moments like this with Louis, which just solidifies his decision.

“I-- I want to have sex with you, Lou,” Harry blurts out. It probably isn’t the sexist way to say it, but it’s out there. He can feel his cheeks heating with the admission, but he means it. He wants to have sex with Louis. He wants to trust him in that way, and maybe trust him in every single other way later. He isn’t ready to bare his soul to him yet, but he wants to give him something.

“A-are you sure, Harry? You don’t have to. I don’t want you to feel pressured…”

“Louis,” Harry cuts him off, placing a finger on his dark pink lips. “I have been thinking about it a lot lately. To the point that there are lube and condoms in the my drawer because I knew I wanted this. I want to be with you in that way. I’m not gonna lie to you Louis and say that I am ready to share all of my secrets, but I want to share this with you. I won’t regret it, I promise. I--,” Harry pauses, stopping himself from saying the words on the tip of his tongue. “I like you, a lot.”

“I like you, a lot, too, Harry. Okay, if you’re sure about this. Like I said, I don’t want you to feel pressured because you think it’s what you have to do. I would be perfectly content spending the rest of the night talking and dancing and listening to music. I don’t want you to regret it like I regret the way I lost my virginity,” Louis tells him, blue eyes honest. They have talked about this before. The way Louis lost his virginity, but it still breaks Harry’s heart that Louis regrets that. Harry knows that virginity isn’t some sacred thing that should be kept under lock and key until marriage, but he does think your first time should be with someone special. Someone you care about, and Louis didn’t get that.

“I’m sure,” Harry says, putting a firmness to his voice, so that maybe Louis will believe him. Louis drops to his knees, and Harry is so fucking confused. He just told Louis he wants to have sex with him, not that he wanted to receive a blow job. Louis’ nimble fingers work to unbutton his jeans, pulling them and his underwear down to the floor, Harry’s stiffening cock springing free.

“What are you doing?” Harry asks, looking down at Louis, whose eyes are transfixed on his cock, licking his lips as if it is the most delicious looking thing he has ever seen. Harry swallows dryly, fully hard now, his head spinning from the sudden rerouting of blood. He doesn't think he will last long at this rate. He feels nervous all of the sudden for what is about to happen. What they are about to do. What if he is terrible at it? What if he only lasts five minutes and can’t get Louis off?

“I’m gonna suck you off first. Trust me, you’ll thank me,” Louis responds, looking up at Harry with dark eyes, pupils dilated. Harry swallows and nods, unsure of how he is going to get hard again if Louis gets him off already, but he trusts him. Then without any kind of warning, Louis opens his mouth and feeds Harry’s length into the wet heat, causing Harry to curse out in both surprise and pleasure. He flattens his tongue and looks up at Harry through his eyelashes. Harry briefly registers the song changes to Push by Matchbox 20.

“Gods, Lou, that feels so fucking good,” Harry moans, concentrating on the feeling of Louis’ tongue on his cock, the way he purposely swirls it around the head as he pulls off before sinking  back down to repeat the process. Harry’s hands come up to hold onto Louis’ hair, not pulling or guiding, just resting there. If he concentrates on these feelings, he doesn’t give his brain time to panic over what they plan to do after. He doesn’t want to overthink this, he just wants to enjoy the moment. He is still solid in his decision; he is just so fucking worried that he isn't good enough for Louis. That he isn’t experienced enough, and he will let the other boy down. He never wants to let Louis down.

“Fuck,” Harry groans because he will never get used to the look of Louis on his knees before him with his cock shoved into his mouth, moaning around it. It should be illegal, but holy shitting hell, Harry would just break the law. Some rules are just made to be broken, especially if they are stupid rules. Harry hisses out a breath when Louis’ small hand comes up to fondle his balls, the act sending a spark of pleasure through his spine, making his whole body tingle. No, he isn’t going to last long.

Louis then brings his other hand up, stroking what he can’t reach with his mouth to the same rhythm, a wet slapping sound filling the room, making Harry’s eyes roll back into this head with need. “Ah. Fuck. Shit. Louis. Fuck,” Harry curses when Louis looks up through his eye lashes again, maintaining eye contact, and Harry is suddenly hit by the memory that has been seared into his brain since it happened. Louis’ beautiful face simply covered in Harry’s own come. The way a ribbon shot across the bridge of his noses, tracing a similar line as his freckles. When it hit his eyelashes, gluing them for a moment to his ridiculously high cheekbones. When some landed on his lips then he got to watch Louis lick it off. Holy fuck. Harry would never ever forget that moment as long as he lived.

“I’m gonna come,” Harry warns, three minutes later. When Louis’ hand doesn't stop playing with his balls, and when his mouth goes even deeper, Harry trips over the edge into oblivion. His entire body tenses with his releases as he fills Louis’ mouth up with his own come. Louis swallows around it, making Harry growl out with one more spurt. Holy fucking shit. Before he even has time to come down from his high, Louis is on him, mouth fused with his, shoving his tongue through Harry’s lips. Harry can taste himself on Louis tongue, and somehow his cock miraculously twitches. Okay, maybe he will be able to get hard again.

Louis lifts up his arm in a silent gesture for Harry to take off his shirt. With shaking fingers, Harry does so. It’s certainly not the first time he has seen Louis naked, but this time feels like there is a purpose. Louis pulls off Harry’s shirt next, the cool air hitting his overheated skin, making all four of his nipples hard. Even though the bedroom is cold, he feels like he is on fire, every touch of Louis’ hands making it burn that much hotter, starting a new flame, feeding off the others until there is nothing left of Harry but ash and smoke.

Harry trails his hands down Louis’ torso, kissing and sucking his lips while doing so, until his fingers reach the top of Louis’ jeans. He traces them using a blunt finger nail, finally coming to his button, unfastening it after a few shaky attempts. If Louis notices, he doesn’t let on since he is preoccupied peppering kisses along Harry’s collarbones and chest, anywhere he can reach really, making Harry’s skin reignite. Harry then pushes Louis’ jeans down his shapely ass stopping at his thighs, then Louis pushes them down the rest of way, stepping out of both items easily. Harry hisses in a breath when Louis’ hard cock grazes his skin, his own starting to stir once again.

“Haz, it’s okay if this ends here. I want you to know that. I want you to be sure,” Louis says, his voice high and raspy, making Harry’s cock twitch once again. The honesty in his blue eyes hurts Harry’s chest, and, not for the first time, he is so thankful for finding someone so caring to share his first time with. The fact that Louis is asking, once again, not just taking advantage of Harry speaks volumes and only serves to solidify his decision.

“I’m sure. Just-- show me? Okay? I just want it to be good for you, and I don’t want to hurt you, Lou,” Harry replies, voice cracking with the mere thought of hurting the boy standing in front of him. The person he has come to care so much for.

“Haz, it will be great because it’s with you. I promise.” Louis then takes both of Harry’s hands in his and pulls him to the bed, laying down himself first then pulling Harry on top of him. Louis’ naked body feels warm and firm under Harry. It’s perfect really, being in the cradle of Louis’ legs, feeling his hard cock press against his stomach, but Harry is so nervous it is difficult to concentrate on that. He feels like he may vomit at any second, the moths in his stomach replaced by knots that are threatening to kill him. His whole body is shaking with nerves, his breaths coming out quick and sharp. So much so, that he is afraid he will go into a panic attack which would just be disastrous. No one has ever seen him have a panic attack, and he would prefer to keep it that way. Especially not one at the beginning of his first time having sex.

“Baby. I need you to calm down and breathe. You’re fine. I promise. Trust me.” Louis’ soft voice breaks Harry from his panicked haze, eyes finally focusing on Louis’ face. Louis looks slightly worried, his small hand resting on Harry’s chest just above his racing heart. Harry tries to match is breathing pattern with Louis’ and focus on Louis’ eyes, the sound of his breath and the song playing in the background Forsaken by Disturbed, which helps ground him, calming him down a bit. “That’s it, baby.” Louis then pulls Harry down and kisses him, starting off slow at first, working up to something deeper and more passionate. Louis moans and grinds his hips on Harry, and Harry is thoroughly fucking distracted.

“Where do I start?” Harry asks, breaking the kiss and looking down into Louis’ eyes, searching them for something he isn’t sure he will find. Fuck. He isn’t sure what he is looking for to be honest. Maybe to see the same thing in Louis’ eyes that he is sure Louis would find in his own. He knows there are a lot of words left unsaid between them. He knows he still needs to trust Louis with other things, and Louis knows this, too. Louis probably has his own secrets, not to mention the fact that Louis still thinks his own sexuality is a choice and a sin. They still have a ways to go. They are both still broken, but maybe together they can make each other whole. Pick up the shattered pieces of each other and find a way to glue them back together. Find strength in one another, and that is why he wants to continue what he has with Louis. The belief that they can be what each other needs.

“You said you got condoms and lube right?” Louis asks, and when Harry nods, he continues, “Get them, then begin opening me up just like the night of my birthday. You did so well then, and this will be exactly the same.” Right. Harry knows how to do that. He fingered Louis before. A week ago, to be precise, so he can handle that. That’s not anything new. He pulls himself off Louis enough to reach over to his nightstand, pulling out the bottom drawer. He quickly grabs the lube and a condom, coming back up to Louis giving him a timid smile. Louis cards his fingers through Harry’s hair, letting his hand come to rest on his jawline. Harry nuzzles into the touch, feeling slightly better.

Harry gets up on his haunches as Louis spreads his legs, revealing his tight puckered hole. Harry has the sudden urge to taste it. He has seen it done in porn and has already read about it, but maybe a different time. This is about being inside Louis, not just his fingers. With trembling hands, Harry pops the cap on the lube, squeezing some on this waiting fingers. He watches Louis’ face as he traces around his hole for any signs of discomfort. Instead he sees the opposite, his chin tilted towards the ceiling, cock twitching against his hip. When Harry slowly breaches Louis’ hole, he cries out pushing his hips down to get Harry further in. Louis is so hot and tight around him, he has no idea how he will ever fit. He just knows that it will feel so good if he manages to. With that thought in mind, his spent cock starts fattening up again, Louis’ breathy moans egging him on.

“That’s it love, all the way,” Louis says, closing his eyes when Harry sinks his finger down to the last knuckle. Harry wants to kiss him so badly it hurts, so he does. He leans over Louis’ pliant body and kisses him until they are both moaning and breathless. Somewhere during their heated kiss, Harry began moving his finger in and out building up a steady rhythm just like the first time.

“Ready for another?” Harry asks, when Louis starts biting his shoulder and gripping his biceps so hard, his small fingers will probably leave bruises. Harry has been careful not to rub too much on Louis’ hard shaft, not wanting to create friction and make him come. Louis just nods, seemingly unable to form coherent sentences. Harry slides his finger out of his tight hole enough to add another, joining it with the first one. It is tight and hot, and Harry thinks he may actually die. He quickly finds the same rhythm fucking into him slow and steady, not wanting to rush anything at the current moment. He is just enjoying Louis being under him, small and warm, making the prettiest fucking noises Harry has ever heard.

“Scissor them,” Louis moans out, after a few more agonizing minutes. Harry knows he has heard or read that term before, but for some reason what it is is leaving him in the current moment. He freezes panicking for a brief second, but decides to be logical with it. Louis said scissor, so what do scissors do? A second later, the answer clicks in his mind, so he spreads his fingers, continuing his tortuously slow movements. Louis curses, letting his head fall back on the pillow, his eyes rolling back into his skull in pleasure. His small hands tangle in Harry’s curls, pulling just enough to send another spark of pleasure through Harry as he fists his free hand in the sheet, needing something to keep him on the very earth. Harry is doing this to him. A feeling of pride blooms in his chest. Holy shit. Harry is driving Louis crazy with lust. Harry’s own cock is now becoming painfully hard, hanging heavily between them. He is doing his best not to touch Louis’ with his own, knowing that it will all be over if he does.

“Feel good?” Harry asks in a moment of complete and utter insanity. He has no idea why he thought it would be a good idea to talk. He probably sounds like a complete and total nerd with the question. He can feel his cheeks and chest reddening in embarrassment. Then Louis begins nodding his head furiously, eyes wide and pleading, and maybe, just maybe Harry didn’t say the wrong thing after all.

“Yes. Fuck, Harry. Your fingers are so big and perfect. So fucking long, filling me up. Please add another,” Louis begs, and what? Add another? How? How will another fit? Louis must read the look of confusion and panic on his face because he cups Harry’s cheeks, bringing his eyes down to meet his. “You’re big, Haz. Like really big. The biggest I’ve ever been with, if I’m honest. Open me up good for you. Add another finger to make sure I’m ready. I wanna be ready for you.” Harry just nods, not knowing what else to do. He removes his fingers long enough to slide a third in along side the first two very, very slowly. So slowly, Harry is pretty sure they should be in college by now. Wouldn’t that be nice?

“Oh fuck.” The words come out of Louis’ mouth high and needy, like he had to say them in order to stay sane. Harry agrees wholeheartedly. Harry doesn’t move for a few moments, which could be hours really, as he waits for Louis to adjust to the much larger size than he is used to. When Louis starts moaning, and thrusting his own hips to get Harry deeper, Harry decides it’s okay to move, once more starting the agonizingly gradual pace.

“This good?” Harry asks because he has to know. He has to know if what he is doing is good, or if he is just fucking it up completely. He knows, logically, that Louis wouldn’t be writhing and squirming beneath him if it wasn’t good, but he needs a bit of reassurance to calm his racing mind.

“Yeah. I’m ready, Harry. Please. I’m ready. Need you inside of me,” Louis moans out, looking at Harry with a fucked out expression, the blue in his eyes almost completely gone, replaced by black. Harry swallows hard and nods, slowly removing his fingers. Holy fucking shit. This is happening. In a matter of moments, he is going to be inside Louis. Surrounded by his tight heat. His cock gets impossibly harder at the thought, a spurt of precome being released from the tip. With jittery movements, he reaches for the condom, dropping the packet between them twice.

“Let me help, babe. Sometimes the lube makes it hard,” Louis says, smiling up at him. Harry knows that’s a lie. Louis wants to help because Harry is so fucking nervous he can’t hold the damn condom, but he appreciates the excuse all the same. Louis takes the packet from his unsteady hands, using his teeth to rip into the foil. He expertly pulls the condom out, then carefully rolls it on Harry’s hard cock. Harry watches him do it, wanting to learn how. He kind of knows how, but he has never seen anyone do it in person, just on videos and even then they usually used some kind of phallic shaped fruit like a cucumber or banana. Harry will never look at a banana the same way again, that is for damn sure.

Harry winces with the over-sensitivity, but it feels fucking good. Louis grabs the lube and squeezes some directly onto Harry’s condom covered shaft, giving it a few tugs. The liquid is cold, even through the protective barrier, but Louis’ hands are warm, therefore it balances it out. Harry shuts his eyes, hoping to stave off his already quickly approaching orgasm. Suddenly it dawns on Harry why Louis insisted on sucking him off first. He never would have fucking lasted through all of this. He would have come earlier or pretty much the moment he entered Louis’ tight heat. Harry wants to kiss him in thanks, so he does just that, attacking Louis’ lips. Louis makes a surprised sound, then begins kissing back, allowing Harry to push him back down on the bed, returning to their previous position with Harry’s hips cradled between Louis’ spread legs.

Without words, Louis reaches between their bodies and lines Harry up with his tight hole. Like some unknown force is playing with them, the song switches to a Lifehouse song called Hanging by a Moment . “Slow,” is all Louis says, removing his hand and looking up into Harry’s eyes. The amount of trust Harry sees there hurts his chest. Slow. He can do slow. Harry begins carefully sinking into Louis, his tight heat squeezing Harry’s cock like a vice, almost pulling him in. It takes everything in Harry not to thrust into him however Louis said slow, and fuck that is exactly what Harry is going to do. A growl escapes from deep within Harry’s chest as he squeezes the sheets behind Louis’ head, trying to stave off his orgasm. Jesus. He at least needs to fuck Louis first.

He closes his eyes, attempting to picture anything but Louis’ naked body below him and the pressure in his own balls from the need to come. Once he is completely seated, hips nestled perfectly against Louis’ round firm ass, Harry swears he sees fireworks behind his eyelids. He hears them too. When he opens his eyes, he is confused to be actually seeing the color of fireworks flashing into his room, the tell tale sounds coming from outside. Holy shit. It must be midnight. They are letting fireworks off to celebrate the new year. Harry ignores it though, much more interested in the boy under him, all around him. Louis who has found his way into Harry’s heart making a home for himself there between the broken beats.

“Fuck, Harry. Oh my god. Move. Please. Need you to move,” Louis begs, snapping Harry out of his thoughts as he grips onto Harry’s arms seeking purchase. So Harry does, very slowly at first, letting his weight fall on top of Louis completely, so that every inch of their skin is touching that possibly can be. Louis seems to welcome it, wrapping his arms and legs around Harry like he never wants to let go. Louis begins kissing any part of Harry he can reach, his shoulder, his neck, his face. The kisses feel hot on his skin, encouraging him.

“You feel so good, Lou. So tight. Fuck,” Harry mummers, the words coming out slow and deep. Harry almost doesn't recognize the sound of his own voice, shocked by it’s deep quality. Louis seems to like it, though, because he moans directly into Harry’s ear, beginning to thrust his hips back, pushing Harry deeper into his heat. Louis’ walls feel like they are fire, searing Harry’s cock in the eternal flames of hell, but he is strangely okay with this. He would gladly burn of Louis, burn of this. There is no way hell could possibly be hotter than this moment, as if Louis is branding him in some irrevocable way.

“Right there. Fuck. Harry. Holy shit. Right there. Keep fucking doing that,” Louis pleads, voice almost whiny with need. Harry does everything in his power not to change the angle he is currently at, not wanting to stop whatever pleasure he is giving Louis. Harry wishes he was a photographer, wishes he could capture this moment forever because Louis falling apart below him is beautiful. The sounds of Louis’ whimpers and moans mix with the lyrics of The Unforgiven II by Metallica, Harry's hips finding a slow rhythm with the beat.

“Fuck, Louis. You’re so beautiful like this. So perfect.” It may not be the epitome of dirty talk, but it is so fucking true Harry wants to cry. He then dives his head down to kiss him because he feels the need to seal the words, almost like a promise. Louis is beautiful like this. His brown hair is sweaty and matted to his forehead, his pupils dilated to the point where only a sliver of blue is actually showing. His body is covered in a thin layer of sweat, and it feels as though it was made to cradle Harry. At this point, Harry isn’t sure where one of them begins and the other ends, but he isn’t concerned about finding the breaking point. They are both already too broken as it is. Maybe they just need one another to complete themselves.

“God, Harry. I’m close,” Louis moans out, and thank the fucking gods in every known pantheon because Harry is close, as well. He has been teetering on the edge since he first entered Louis. Since he first learned the feeling of Louis around him. He doesn’t even know how he lived without it before. He doesn't know if he will ever be able to live without it again. He feels like this is going to become a necessity for survival, like air and water. He needs to breathe air, drink water, and do both to Louis.

“Me too.” Louis’ hands are everywhere, in his hair, on his his back, blunt nails scraping, prompting Harry to start thrusting faster. Louis moans, seeming to get exactly what he wanted. Louis reaches down between their bodies and begins stroking his own cock, the wet tip rubbing against Harry’s stomach turning him on even more if that is humanly fucking possible.

“Oh fuck. Harry. I’m gonna come,” Louis cries out pulling Harry’s head down into a punishing kiss, moaning with abandon while tightening his short legs around Harry’s hips, forcing him even deeper. Harry feels it when he does, his whole body tensing around him. Harry’s own orgasm literally feels like it is being milked out of him, Louis’ hole gripping his cock so tightly, Harry worries about losing circulation. Just like that, Harry tips and topples over the line of obscurity, where he feels everything, but none of it feels real as he spills into the condom, a growl being released from deep within his chest into Louis’ mouth.

They lay like that for a few minutes or hours, wrapped in each other’s arms, neither wanting to let the moment go. It feels almost fragile, life changing in some ways. Harry knows that sounds ridiculous. They just had sex. People have sex every single day, and the world never stops turning however his own personal world did. When it halted, Louis took a moment to rebuild some of it, making it better and stronger. That is why it feels life changing because it kind of is to him. Louis is slowly picking up the pieces of Harry’s shattered existence, and without knowing the exact cause for his pain, finding a way to fit the shards back together. As with any large project, it is taking time, but Harry isn’t sure Louis will ever give up. Harry doesn't think he could give up on Louis either. He doesn’t want to. His chest aches with the realization, his brain not processing it.

“I’m gonna go get something to clean you off with. Stay right here,” Harry tells Louis, kissing his nose as he very slowly pulls out. He takes off the condom and places it in the small trash can in his room. He goes to the bathroom, wetting a washcloth then comes back to wipe Louis’ come off his skin. Louis looks fucked out and sated, making a happy sound when Harry is finished. Harry throws the dirty rag into his clothing hamper, then gets under the covers to lay with Louis, opening his arms for the smaller man. Louis doesn’t hesitate, draping half of his body over Harry’s in the small bed. Harry cards his fingers through Louis’ hair, thinking about a question Louis asked him earlier.

“My new year’s resolution is to try to be happy,” Harry says after a few moments, the words coming out cracked almost like the walls he carefully constructed around his heart years prior. Louis looks up at him, eyes shining in the low light of the room, a small smile adorning his features. He can’t believe he said it outloud, but he finds he doesn’t regret it. He doesn’t regret a single fucking thing about the night.

“Mine is to help be the reason you are happy,” Louis replies moments later, and Harry can’t help but smile. It’s fucking cheesy, but it is also incredibly sweet. Louis is already the source of his happiness. Already the sun on his most stormy days. Maybe he could tell him that eventually. Maybe he could tell him everything.

“Can you stay?” Harry asks, the question falling from his lips before he even thinks that it shouldn’t. He stops breathing, waiting for Louis’ response. He shouldn’t have asked him to stay. They haven't even defined their relationship. Louis may not want to stay with his fuck buddy. Based on what Louis has told him, he doubts very much that Louis has ever stayed the night with any of his previous partners. They always fucked then Louis left, sneaking back home and into his own bed. Why in the fuck did Harry believe he would be any different? Is he any different? He feels like it was different, but it is presumptuous of him to say the least.

“Yeah. My parents and sisters probably will sleep late, as long as I sneak home before sunrise, I’ll be fine,” Louis answers, grabbing his phone, probably setting an alarm. Harry can’t help the wide smile that takes over his face, so happy to have Louis actually sleeping in his small bed with him after such an incredible evening. At some point the music had stopped, so they lay in silence for a few minutes, Harry stroking Louis’ spine while Louis listens to the low thud of Harry’s beating heart.

“Happy New Year, Lou,” Harry says, looking at the time to see that it is well past midnight. If someone would have told him that he would be starting the year off having sex with a boy, Harry would have probably punched them in the face, or at the very least laughed. It is insane how much has changed in just a few short months; how much more will probably change in the future. He hopes that he has started this year off right, for once in his fucking life.

“Happy New Year, Hazza.” Louis’ voice is tired, barely above a whisper. A few seconds later, Harry hears his breaths even out as he falls into slumber, his long eyelashes casting shadows over his cheeks, making him look angelic. Harry should turn off the light, but he would rather die than move Louis at this very moment. He has wanted to die for less. A few minutes later, he falls into a deep sleep, Louis’ breath ghosting over his chest. It is probably the quickest he has fallen asleep in years, but he refuses to believe the blue eyed boy resting over his heart has anything to do with that.

Chapter Text

“image”

Under the words of men

Something is tempting the father

Where is your will, my friend?

Insatiates never even bother

You and I, wrong or right

Traded a lie for the leverage

In between the lens in light

You're not what you seem- Slipknot

 

Louis is bored, so what does he do when he is bored in class? He bugs Harry, of course, because when Louis is bored it is other people’s responsibility to entertain him. Harry specifically. It comes with the perks of Louis sucking his dick. He doesn’t make the rules. It’s their third day back from the break, and the excitement of seeing their friends has died down substantially, the entire senior class having been bogged down with talk of college, SAT prep, and the importance of choosing a good major. They are supposed to be working on their pre-Calc assignment, but Harry is currently sitting beside him. He may be a bit distracted.

“Any ideas on where you are going for college?” Louis asks because the question has been plaguing him since their guidance counselor came to speak to his Spanish class this morning. Harry looks taken aback by the question, his green eyes opening wide in surprise, dark brows shooting up into his hairline. The green beanie he currently wearing has some of his curls tucked into, making his eyes appear even more green, but Louis can’t think about that. Oh yes. College. That is what he is apparently supposed to be thinking about according to everyone in his life right now, including his parents. The counselor must not have made it to one of his classes yet. Well he is in for a treat. The woman is devastatingly boring, and she has a mole on her chin that is so big, Louis was afraid it was going to also break out into a speech about FAFSA. He would have been doubly bored then.

“Um-- I haven't really thought about it. I honestly didn’t think I would go,” Harry answers with a shrug, looking back down at his calculus assignment, and what? Harry is the smartest kid in school, hands down, why wouldn’t he go to college? He remembers Harry writing in a note once that it was his one ticket out of this place, so it’s odd to hear him dismiss it so readily when it is brought up in conversation.

“What? You took the SAT with last week though. What wouldn't you go?” Louis asks, remembering falling asleep on Harry's shoulder because they had to get up so early to take it. He can feel his brows knitting together in confusion, tapping Harry on the shoulder again. Why would Harry take the test if he wasn't planning to go to college? He just realizes that Harry seems to have taken off the hoodie he had been wearing to school and in first period. He must have taken it off during second period, which they don’t have together. Instead of the hoodie, Harry is wearing a white tank top, the sleeves obviously having been cut out by himself. His pale white biceps are on display, and Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it isn’t fair when Louis is attempting to have a serious conversation with him about their futures. He looks up, trying to distract himself from his desire to lick the crease between the muscle and the skin.

“I took it ‘cause they paid for it  and I got out of school to hang out with you. I can’t really afford to go to college,” Harry responds, shrugging again as if the answer should be obvious. Is it? Louis hadn’t even considered his college not being paid for. Since Mark had adopted him, he always knew he would have the GI bill to pay for his higher education, his parents making up anything the government didn’t pay for. He never really thought about what others did to pay for college, just assuming their parents began saving for it since birth.

“There has to be another way. Aren’t there like scholarships, grants and loans and stuff?” Louis asks, and Harry just shrugs in response, demeanor instantly changing to shut off and distant. It reminds Louis of when they first met, and he hates it. They have come a long way since then, but they also have not come far enough. Harry’s body is tense now, arms crossed over his chest. Louis knows what that means. Harry wants him to drop the subject, and he is going to, sensing that talking more about it will only upset Harry.

This isn’t the end of the conversation though. Not by a long shot. He wants to continue it. He is sure their guidance counselor talked about it this morning, and the difference between the two. Surely Harry would qualify for such things. Honestly, Harry is more deserving of a scholarship than anyone in this school. The fact that some of the guys on the football team, who can’t even spell their own name correctly, are going to get full rides because they can throw a fucking ball while Harry may not, makes Louis a bit sick. Louis makes a mental note to look into it when he gets home. If he approaches the topic again with facts, then Harry will be more open for a discussion. Harry likes facts, after all, and Louis knows by now to battle Harry with correct information, if nothing else.

Louis looks at Harry again, trying to think of something that will distract him from the topic Louis had brought up. He finally sees what he will use, snagging it out of Harry’s tight pocket. Harry’s eyes widen when Louis pops the cap of the black sharpie, flipping it onto the other end. “What are you doing?” Harry asks a little too loudly; they both freeze, looking to the front of the room to see if they caught the teacher’s attention. They didn’t. She is busy helping one of their classmates, paying them no mind whatsoever.

“Drawing,” Louis says, shrugging. He then grabs Harry’s left arm, the skin warm under his finger tips, and props it on the desk between them. Harry looks confused but doesn't pull away. Good. It’s not the first time Louis has drawn on him, and it probably won't be the last if he is being honest. He likes to. It makes Harry smile for some reason, and Louis likes seeing the reminder that he has marked him all day long even though Harry has bruises on his neck to prove that in other ways. Before Harry, Louis hadn’t realized he would be so possessive. Maybe because their relationship can’t be public, they feel the need to claim one another in the form of marks on their skin. Whatever the reason, Louis wants people to know that Harry is his in some way, even though they don’t know he is his.

He pokes his tongue out to the side in concentration, drawing a messy heart on Harry’s upper bicep, close to his armpit. He maneuvers the skin, warm on his cool fingers, to make it more of a flat surface so that he can work. When the outline it is done, Louis notes it is slightly crooked, but he doesn’t care. He is just having fun and attempting to distract his boy. He then begins filling it in, coloring the entire thing black before he declares it done. Harry looks down, smiling.

“What happened to your hoodie, by the way?” Louis asks, not that he’s complaining. Hell no. He misses seeing Harry in tank tops since the weather turned cold. His skin seems even paler now that it isn’t getting any sun at all, and Louis wants to bite it. He did bite it. He shivers, thinking about what happened on New Year’s Eve. What Harry made the decision to ask for, and what Louis wanted more than anything. He will never forget the look on Harry’s face when he first entered Louis. It was a mix of surprise, shock, and utter pleasure. Louis wanted to tattoo it on his fucking eyelids. Maybe tattoos aren’t so bad after all.

“Took it off during art ‘cause we were painting. Didn't want to ruin my only hoodie,” Harry tells him admiring the new black heart on his arm. Louis’ dick twitches because he put that look on Harry’s face. He doesn’t miss the comment though, and the fact that Harry only has one hoodie. Louis has at least a dozen hoodies, if not more. How could Harry only have one good one? He really shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but he just seems to forget about the little conveniences he has in his own life that Harry probably doesn’t.

“I’m not complaining,” Louis responds, closing the marker and throwing it on Harry’s leather journal. Harry still won't let him go anywhere near it, but he has gotten a better peek at it since the beginning of the year.  It is brown, old and worn, with Harry’s messy scrawl decorating the front and back. Louis can’t make out everything, but phrases like ‘one and only’ and the newest addition ‘let us love’ which Louis finds fascinating. Harry takes a moment to stretch, his long arms coming above his head. Louis watches the motion, eyes traveling to the expanse of muscle. His bracelets fall down his arm, and something catches his eye that has Louis’ heart stopping.

Scars. Harry has scars under the bracelets. Suddenly, everything clicks into place. Why harry never takes off his jewelry, why he constantly fidgets with that spot in particular when he is anxious. Everything clicks like pieces of a puzzle, and Louis can’t fucking breathe. He quickly draws his gaze away, not wanting Harry to know that he saw. What the fuck? Does Harry hurt himself? Has he? None of the marks look new, so that’s at least good, but holy fuck. Louis blinks back the tears threatening to take over his entire being. Why would Harry hurt himself? What the fuck happened to Harry to make him want to do such a thing? The questions are racing through his mind at light speed, and Louis feels like his brain is about to short circuit.

Louis wants to cry. This lovely, perfect boy hurts himself, and Louis has no idea why. Louis has had a suspicion for months that something had happened to Harry to make him distrusting. It is in the way he refused to even speak to Louis at first, the way he closes himself off to everyone, and in the way that he flinches when touched by someone he doesn’t know, or if he is caught off guard. Cutting just adds to that theory, solidifying Louis’ belief that something horrible did happen to Harry, by the hands of others most likely, and Harry was so distraught, he took to hurting himself to take his own emotional anguish away.

Louis can’t stop the mental images of Harry crying while cutting himself from forming in his head. He can’t stop watching a recreation of Harry using some unknown sharp object to mark his beautiful pale skin, the red blood a stark contrast. Louis’ eyes sting with the pictures in his mind’s eye, and he just fucking can’t. Can’t take the fact that his sweet, caring boy would hurt himself in such a way. Suddenly, anger floods his veins, wanting to find whoever hurt Harry and make them pay for their misdeeds. Harry probably never did anything to deserve that. His heart physically hurts with what Harry must have gone through, and he doesn’t even know details. He holds his eyes open until they burn, hoping that maybe the tears there will evaporate, and Harry won’t see.

“Lou, you okay?” Harry’s deep voice breaks into his subconscious, pulling him from his spiral. He blinks a few times, attempting to focus on Harry’s face. The same face that has been covering years worth of pain behind a mask. The same one that is slowly showing Louis the real version of himself. Louis knows he can’t bring this up. He knows if he does, Harry would never talk to him about it. Harry will when he is ready, and not a moment before, so he pushes it to the side.

“Yeah. I’m fine. Sorry, I was lost in my head there,” Louis says, pasting on a fake smile. If Harry can do it, Louis can do it too.

 

_________

 

“Are you sure this is going to work?” Harry asks, looking at Louis’ house forlornly. His heart is racing in anticipation for what they are about to do. He swallows, looking over to Louis for reassurance. It has become a habit, looking to Louis for many things. Harry doesn’t know if it is a habit he is willing to break though.

“It’ll be fine, Haz. Have a little faith,” he says with a smirk, emphasizing his chosen word, and Harry may actually kill him. Harry looks back to the large house, taking a deep, shaky breath before following Louis. Louis opens the door confidently, smiling at the sudden onslaught of noise that slightly horrifies Harry. Silence. Silence is what Harry is used to when he first enters his own house. When he came to Louis’ for Thanksgiving he was kind of expecting the chaos, given the holiday, but he had no idea it was so chaotic every single day. Harry winces when a shrill shriek goes through his eardrums and straight to his brain like a hot poker. He doesn’t even know what she is screaming about, he just wants it to stop.

As they toe off their shoes, leaving them by the door, he looks around the room to find Mark sitting on the couch, doing absolutely nothing while Jay runs around the living room, trying to do far too many things at once. Harry glances to Louis, watching his eyes widen then he springs into action, going over to his arguing twin sisters, one currently screaming and crying, the other looking upset and on the verge of tears. His mom glances at him thankfully, going up the stairs probably to confront Lottie and Fizzy who seem to be having an argument of their own, if the shouts from that direction are anything to go by. He follows Louis instead of standing awkwardly in the doorway, allowing Mark to stare at him.

“Daisy, you know it is not nice to hit, so why did you hit your sister?” Louis asks carefully, the words coming out slow and measured. He has bent his knees so that he is eye level with the little girls, looking at them with disappointment. They both look down guiltily, fat tears streaming down who Harry thinks is Daisy’s face, pout prominent on her dark pink lips. Harry’s heart breaks for her. He kind of wants to scoop her up and hug her and give her ice cream or something, but he doesn’t. What does he know about kids? Louis seems to be handling it, so he just scrunches down beside him to look at them.

“She wasn’t sharing,” Daisy explains, her bottom lip wobbling, clearly trying to hold back more tears. Her shiny eyes glance down at the the doll in her left hand, the one her sister is also holding.

“That is still no reason to hit your sister. You know better than that. Apologize to her right now please,” Louis tells her sternly, tone brooking no argument.

“I sowry for hitting you, Phoebe. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Daisy apologizes sincerely, dropping the toy and looking at her sister with big blue eyes.

“What do you say, Phoebe?” Louis asks, eyes glancing between the two girls.

“I accept your sowry.” Phoebe then glances over at Louis who shoots her a look then adds, “And I sorry for not sharing my toy.” The girls then hug, and Harry is astonished. Louis is such a good big brother, not that Harry didn’t think he was, he had just never really seen him in action. Harry’s heart feels full with the realization that Louis is going to make a wonderful dad someday. Harry, personally, isn’t sure if he wants kids. He is too fucked up to put that on them, but being around Louis’ siblings is making him reconsider.

“Hazzy!” Daisy exclaims, seeming to just now realize Harry is there, and he suddenly has an arm full of little girl, as she wipes her tear stained cheek on his hoodie. Phoebe follows soon after, throwing Harry off balance, making him fall to his ass right in the middle of the living room, both girls giggling joyfully in his ear as they land on him in one big heap. Harry tries to hold back a wince of pain as the corner of a book stabs him in the spine from inside his backpack. Harry can hear Louis laughing too, and Harry can’t help but release his own chuckle.

“And what’s going on in here?” Harry hears a feminine voice ask, then he looks up between the strands of blond hair to see Jay standing beside Louis, both wearing identical smirks. It is creepy how much they look alike in that moment, making a shiver travel down Harry’s spine as he starts attempting to get the twins off him. They both feel like dead weights, so Louis laughs then bends down to pull Daisy off first, setting her on her feet, followed by Phoebe. Finally, he offers a hand to Harry, pulling him up with little effort, surprising Harry with his strength.

“Mom, you remember Harry,” Louis says once Harry is on his feet and fixing his hoodie, with both Daisy and Phoebe hugging his legs.

“Of course, Harry I want to thank you for giving Louis a helping hand with physics. He has been struggling in the class, so we really appreciate you agreeing to tutor him.” During her speech, Mark finally decides to get off the couch to join them, looking at Harry with a critical eye. Harry tried to wear clothes that didn’t scream ‘I listen to the devil’s music’, but he still wearing mostly black.

“Oh you’re welcome. It’s not a big deal. He doesn’t even need a whole hand, maybe just a finger or two, three tops,” Harry smirks with the lie glancing over at Louis who looks like he just choked on air at Harry’s comment. Jay and Mark look none the wiser, both just smiling and nodding at Harry.

“At least let us pay you,” Jay says, but Harry cuts her off.

“No. I don’t want any kind of payment,” Harry tells her, feeling a bit guilty for the first time since they arrived. Louis’ grade is perfectly fine in physics; it’s just a lie they came up with so he and Louis could spend time together outside of school. Back stairwell blowjobs are great and all, but it’s not the same as spending time together to actually speak. Well at least that is what Louis said, and Harry didn’t disagree with him. They don’t get a whole lot of time to actually talk outside of class without ttheir teacher breathing down their necks, so Harry could see the merits of the lie.

“Alright, we are gonna head up,” Louis says, pointing his thumb to the stairs, then clapping Harry on the shoulder, both turning towards them attempting to make a speedy getaway before Mark wants them to bless their homework or some shit with some sort of ridiculous prayer. Harry thinks the man probably has a prayer for everything. Your back hurts? Pray about it. Need a promotion at work? Pray about it. Can’t take a shit? Oh, you should pray. Harry hates those types. Always wanting handouts from a god that doesn’t exist instead of putting in actual work. Then if they don’t get what they asked for, it’s ‘in God’s plan’. Harry internally rolls his eyes at that, as they begin making their way up the stairs, listening to Jay shush the girls’ protests.

“Do you have the next one?” Louis asks as soon as they get into his room, unceremoniously dumping his backpack near the door, before shutting it behind him. Harry ignores the question for a moment, in favor of taking in the room’s appearance. It is a typical ‘boy’s’ room which isn’t shocking given Louis’ step-dad. The room is large, far bigger than Harry’s, and the walls are painted a light blue with a cream carpet. The walls are mostly blank, with none of the posters Harry has on his own walls. The words ‘Through God, all things are possible’ adorn one wall, in big black swoopy letters. It looks like one of those stickers, and Harry internally cringes again. Directly to his right is a desk with a laptop; beside it is a bookshelf with mostly sports trophies instead of actual books. Harry wants to inspect them more, but instead his gaze wanders over to the bed, a light gray bedspread laying over it haphazardly, as if Louis was quick to make it up this morning.

“Yeah,” Harry finally answers distractedly, hands in his pockets as he continues to take in every little detail of the room.

“Oh sorry. This is my room.” Louis shrugs, looking around probably trying to see it from Harry’s perspective, but his eyes come back to Harry, watching him as he begins tentatively walking towards the trophies. Most of them have a little golden man holding a football on the top, but some are for other sports like baseball, soccer, and basketball with ‘Louis Tomlinson’ followed by a date and the award etched into the gold plate. None of them seem to be participation trophies, which Harry appreciates. “That is the bathroom,” Louis says as he points to a door Harry hadn’t realized was there, “You know, just in case you need to go or whatever.”

“You have your own bathroom?” Harry asks, not able to keep the shock from his voice or expression. Louis has a bathroom in his fucking room? Harry has always shared a bathroom with his mom and sister. They have never lived in a place with more than one, not even when his dad was in the picture. He gapes at Louis, taking a few steps to glance into the bathroom then looks back at Louis, mouth hanging open.

“Yeah. I mean. It’s not that big of a deal, right? Mom and Mark have one in their room down stairs, then Lottie, Fizzy, Phoebe and Daisy all share the one down the hall,” Louis explains, pointing in the direction of probably the bathroom his sisters share. Harry swallows, trying to hide the fact that he thinks it is kind of a big deal. He decides to change the subject because that is always a fair move.

“Really?” He asks Louis, gesturing to the words on the wall, with raised eyebrows, smirk firmly in place. Louis blushes, which is just so fucking adorable Harry wants to kiss him. His eyes find their way back to the wall, gaze traveling over the words again. He wants to roll his eyes, but refrains because he knows Louis still believes in God, for the most part.

“Yeah. Sorry. Mom put it up,” Louis explains putting his hands in his pockets. “So, where is it?”

It takes Harry a few seconds to figure out what the fuck Louis referring to. Finally it dawns on him, a small ‘oh’ escaping his lips before he shrugs off his backpack, looking for a place to sit. Louis gestures to the bed, so Harry shrugs sitting down. The mattress is soft and squishy, without any of the normal lumps or springs poking through that Harry is used to. The bed is also a full, which is nice given that Harry’s is just a twin. Lots of room for activities. Harry’s cock twitches at the thought of those activities then it wanders to pictures of Louis masturbating under the covers, a look of pleasure on his face. Harry shuts his eyes and shakes his head, attempting to focus. Oh yeah, he is supposed to be getting what Louis had asked for. He carefully unzips his backpack pulling out the book.

“Gimme,” Louis says, making grabby hands at Harry prompting Harry to offer an amused smile, handing it over. Louis immediately turns to the back, reading over the blurb. He distractedly hands Harry the first book back, and he tucks it into his backpack, out of sight. Harry’s mind, for whatever reason, goes back to when his mom asked him if he was dealing drugs. Maybe because Louis is making him feel somewhat like a drug supplier by the way he is acting, but Harry finds it kind of funny. He wishes more people would see knowledge as a drug instead of a chore.

“So what did you think of the first one?” Harry asks, looking at the copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that is currently being held in Louis’ small hands. It is his least favorite of the series, but he is still excited for Louis to read it. Louis seemed to love the first one, given the text of ‘akdkajkjda’ he received one morning. They haven't had time to actually discuss it though. Harry figured it would be too much to text, and he hated the thought of not being able to see Louis’ expressions while doing so.

“I loved it,” Louis answers, and Harry can already tell there is more. He watches as Louis tries to put together the rest of his thoughts, waiting patiently for the inevitable. “I just don’t understand why my parents were so threatened by it.” There it is. A feeling of satisfaction blooms in Harry’s chest, so proud at his boy for thinking critically without being prompted.  

“I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t,” Harry tells him, watching as his favorite look takes over Louis’ features, the one that he has seen many, many times now. His firm lips are slightly puckered, blue eyes cast down in thought, eyebrows furrowed. Fuck. He’s so pretty, Harry isn’t sure what to do. He still hasn’t even figured out why someone as pretty and confident as Louis would want anything to do with him.

“Like, it makes no sense. It is a children’s book. Clearly a work of fiction. Like I just finished it, and I don’t want to go out and worship Satan. Satan isn’t even fucking mentioned in it. Why would so many Christians be up in arms over it?” Louis looks as if he is having an internal crisis, and Harry feels kind of bad for wanting to smile. This is just the first time Louis has asked these types of questions without being prompted, which is amazing. It means he is thinking about it. It’s not that Harry wants Louis to be an atheist, he just wants him to see the flaws in his religion. If that leads to atheism, which it usually does, then Harry can’t help that.

“I agree. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s completely illogical. Don’t you wonder why Christians are so threatened by it? Is their narrative so fragile that a children’s book can unravel it?” Harry asks, watching Louis closely for a response. It’s not so much what Louis is going to say but rather his body language when he says it. Louis doesn’t look as if his world is falling apart like he did during their first conversation. In all honesty, he looks as if he was thinking the exact same thing, just too scared to voice it. Maybe someday, Louis won’t be so scared, at least not with Harry.

“I know. I was actually thinking about that myself when I finished it. I wanted to talk to you so bad, but it was 3 am, and I figured you were asleep.” Harry’s heart feels like it is going to burst out of his chest with Louis’ words. The fact that Louis wanted to talk to him, and not anyone else over this, makes Harry unbelievably happy. To know that Louis also has moments where he just wants to talk to Harry, makes him realize that maybe this isn’t one sided.

“You should have. I never sleep. If I was, by some miracle, asleep, then I still would have answered because it’s you.” Harry says the last part quietly, looking down, not wanting Louis to see his face which he can feel is hot. He has no idea why he admitted that, but he doesn't think he regrets it. He wants Louis to know that, just in case he needs to call him at some absurd time for whatever reason.

“Please don’t hesitate to call me anytime either, but why don’t you sleep, Haz?” Louis asks, small fingers pulling up Harry’s chin so that they are looking in each other’s eyes. Harry is taken aback by the question. No one has ever asked him that, but then again very few people know about his sleeping habits or lack thereof. Louis answered his own questions about Harry Potter, so he should probably answer to the best of his ability, in the interest of fairness and all that.

“I don’t really know, I just-- I don’t sleep well. I haven't for a long time. Sometimes, I go, like weeks, without sleeping more than a few hours a night,” Harry responds finally, trying to put what happens into words. He's not even going to consider telling Louis about the nightmares that happen when he is able to sleep. They don’t happen as often anymore, but they do still happen on occasion, but maybe he can tell him about the other stuff.

“Do you have insomnia or something?” Louis asks, look of concern etched deeply into his face. Harry recognizes it as concern and not pity, this time.

“I’m not sure. Maybe? I haven't been, like, tested or anything, but I have trouble falling asleep then staying asleep,” Harry starts, then pauses, not sure if he wants to tell Louis some of the other things that happen while he is asleep. He has never told anyone, but maybe he should confined in Louis. Louis seems to tell him things that he doesn't tell anyone else. He just isn’t sure how to say it. He has never had to really formulate it in a vocal discussion. Poems, yes, but never verbally. He takes a deep breath, thinking about how he wants explain it, then continues, “Sometimes, this super weird thing happens to me while I am still asleep.”

“What do you mean?” Louis asks curiously. Harry sighs, getting frustrated by not being able to actually say what he means. He racks his brain for an explanation, trying to desperately think of a way to tell Louis what happens to him.

“Um--like, sometimes I will wake up, but I can’t move. It’s like I am paralyzed or something. Like I can hear everything going on around me, sometimes even, like, my mom talking on the phone or something, but I can’t physically move,” Harry tells him, and he knows he sounds insane. It sounds crazy even to him, but Louis looks to be considering his words, taking them in with a thoughtful expression, similar to the one he has when they discuss faith.

“That sounds really scary. I don’t think you’re crazy. Have you googled it or anything?” Louis asks, and Harry believes him. Louis doesn’t think he’s crazy. It is kind of relieving, honestly. Someone believes him. He verbally explained it, and someone fucking believes him. He thought that if he ever told anyone, they would think he was crazy. He shakes his head in response, and Louis looks like he is making a mental note to do it himself. Louis places his hand on Harry ribs, beginning to say something, but Harry wasn’t expecting the action. It fucking tickles, and Harry can’t stop the giggle that escapes from his lips as he pulls away from the touch.

 

_______

 

Louis almost chokes. What the fuck was that? Did Harry just… did he just giggle? That is the only way to describe the sound that just came out of Harry’s mouth as he pulls away from Louis’ touch with a smile. Harry fucking giggled, and Louis feels like his world has been turned upside down, yet again. It may be his new favorite sound, and he feels like he may die if he doesn’t hear it again. The sound is slightly high pitched, but still gravely coming out in a short huff, followed by two quick laughs. It’s like music or some shit. Louis probably wouldn’t be allowed to listen to it if it were music since he can’t listen to anything that bring him joy, but he would want to. Could probably listen to it all damn day. Then it dawns on him as to what caused the beautiful sound in the first place.  

Harry’s ticklish. Holy fucking shit. How did Louis not know this? He feels like he just discovered the Lost Arch of the Covenant or something equally as rare. Who needs to know that the physics equation for energy is e=mc^2 when they could know that Harry Styles is ticklish? Louis allows a mischievous grin to take over his face as he tackles Harry onto the bed, straddling him and digging his fingers into Harry’s side prompting him to burst out in loud laughter this time, well past a giggle, and Louis feels like he is living for the first time. He has heard Harry laugh before, of course, has even brought the sound out of him a couple of times, but this is different. This isn’t a quick burst of laughter that Harry stops after a few seconds, this is all out full belly laughs, and he looks so fucking happy Louis feels like his heart could burst. The feeling stabs his chest, his heart threatening to stop all together.

“Stop! Stop!” Harry laughs, warm breath ghosting over Louis’ face while attempting to grab his hands or wrists to stop them from their attack, and Louis wants to cry for some reason. There is just something so perfect about the moment. Something so pure about Harry laughing over being fucking tickled. “Your parents could hear, and I have asthma,” Harry whispers through breaths of laughter, obviously trying to quieten himself. Louis leans in to hear, his face inches away from Harry’s. He knows Harry’s asthma isn’t that bad. He hasn’t even seen him touch his inhaler, but fuck. Harry’s other point still stands. His parents could hear them laughing and ask Louis what they were doing or worse, come upstairs to inspect the noise, finding a locked door.

“But I like it. What should I do instead, hmm?” Louis asks, lips mere inches away from Harry’s, eyes darting down to look at them before coming back up to Harry’s. The smile melts off of  Harry’s face, but his eyes are still sparkling in the light of the room, looking like green, glittering stars in the heavens accept Harry is more beautiful than those even. He can find an entire galaxy in Harry’s green eyes, with swirls of blue and gray throughout, the black rim around them making the colors stand out even more. It’s like they hold the secrets of the universe. They probably do. Harry has certainly taught him a lot in the few months that they have known each other.

“I don’t know-- perhaps something else you like,” Harry responds, voice barely above a whisper. Louis can’t stop himself from leaning down to bring their lips together even if God himself told him not to do it. God has pretty much told him not to do it, if he believes the words written by God through man of course, but as Harry has pointed out, that is kind of flawed, isn’t it? Harry made several good points that day, even Louis will admit that. Points that Louis hasn’t been able to shake from his head. His dick begins to stir as the kiss gets dirtier, all spit and teeth in their lust and haste.

Holy fuck. He is kissing a boy, on his bed, in his room, mere yards away from his parents and sisters, but he can’t seem to find the fucks to give because Harry tastes like heaven and sin all in one. Louis deepens this kiss, allowing his tongue to sneak into Harry’s mouth, seeking more. Louis makes a surprised noise when Harry’s long arms wrap around his torso, and he flips them in one fluid motion, coming to land in between Louis’ legs. He feels it when Harry’s large hand snakes down between their bodies, popping the button of his jeans easily. Louis would smile at the confidence Harry has gained, but he is too busy being kissed senseless by the other boy.

Louis actually whimpers when Harry breaks their kiss, getting up on his knees, placing Louis’ legs on either side of his shoulder. He glances at Louis’ bare feet with a smirk, and says, “You’re legs are so short.” Louis glares at him and rears back to smack him, but he can’t really be mad when Harry lifts his hips to pull Louis’ jeans off completely. Louis hisses out a breath when the cold air of his room hits his half hard dick. “Where’s your lube, love?” Harry asks, running his hands up and down Louis’ bare thighs, his thumbs barely grazing Louis balls before they travel back to his knees.

“Can’t have sex,”Louis whispers frantically, looking at the door then back to Harry, afraid even saying it would bring his parents to the room. He knows they are probably down stairs, watching TV and are none the wiser, but that doesn't stop his heart from racing at the idea of getting caught by them. At the same time, it is kind of thrilling. Doing something so bad right under their noses. He hangs on to that feeling, allowing it course through his veins, suddenly liking the idea of doing something in his room, on his bed, with Harry. He may not be ready to have sex here yet, but the very notion of getting away with something they would deem so filthy kind of turns him on more. Louis can dwell on that later though, because Harry is talking to him, and he needs to pay fucking attention.

“Calm down, babe. We won’t have sex. Just wanted to have it just in case,” Harry is saying, his kiss bitten lips forming around the words like they would Louis’ dick, and Louis can’t fucking breathe. Louis just nods and points to his bedside table.

“It’s in there. Hidden in the Bible box,” Louis tells him with a smile. It is a newer hiding place, but it works. His parents would never think to look in a Bible box for sex paraphernalia. It is honestly the perfect hiding spot, and Louis is shocked he didn’t think of it sooner. Before Harry though, he would have probably been afraid to have been struck down by God for doing such a thing. The lube and condoms have been in there since Christmas now, and God hasn’t smote him yet.

“It may burn me,” Harry jokes, reaching into the drawer to locate the box. He comes back up to Louis holding a bottle of lube triumphantly with a large smile on his face, as if he discovered a lost treasure. He has though. Louis has no idea what he plans to do with the lube, but he watches with curious eyes as Harry lays it on the bed beside of him. He feels kind of weird being only naked from the waist down, but he supposes it’s for the best if they get an unplanned visitor. He already has an escape plan in mind if they were to get caught. That’s not damning, is it?

Harry must be able to see the look of panic on his face because he looks down at him, offering a small smile. “We don’t have to do anything if you’re not comfortable. We could like actually study if you want. I just thought we could take advantage of the semi-alone time,” Harry says with shrug, and Louis knows that if he tells Harry to stop, he will, but Louis doesn't want him to. He wants to continue this because his dick is hard, and Harry is devastating. So fucking what if he does this under his parents roof? Is it really that much different than doing it under the roof of a stranger after he sneaks out?

“I want to, but I have an escape plan. If someone knocks on the door, I will grab my jeans and run into the bathroom while you quickly hide the lube and open the door telling the person on the other side that I just went to pee or some shit,” Louis says all in one breath, and Harry brows hit his hairline, eyes going wide, with a smirk threatening to take over his face. Louis doesn’t blame him. Harry is used to Louis speaking fast, but never that quickly.

“Okay. I had already thought of that,” Harry responds voice deep with arousal, making a shiver go up Louis’ spine. Harry’s voice just does something to him. Fuck. Harry leans down to kiss him again, making Louis momentarily forget that that his parents are just a floor below them, carrying on with their lives having no idea that their son is participating in homosexual activities with his so called friend. Harry then begins to trail hot kisses down Louis jaw, pausing to kiss and suck on his neck right over his pulse point. Louis throws his head back against the pillow, giving Harry more room to mark him. If his parents have noticed the bruising Harry has left, they haven't said anything, probably thinking Willow is the culprit.

“Just tell me to stop, and I will,” Harry mummers in his ear, the words bathing Louis in arousal as his hand comes down to stroke Louis to full hardness, his rings cool against the heated skin of Louis’ groin. Louis just nods, watching with hooded eyes as Harry slowly sinks down his body, lining his face up with Louis’ dick. Louis holds his breath as Harry lowers his mouth onto Louis length at an agonizing pace, the head being enveloped in a wet, warm heat before the rest. Louis’ eyes roll back into his head when Harry takes him deep, the vibration from his moan going straight to Louis’ balls. Holy fucking shit. Louis knew Harry would kill him when he finally gained more confidence with giving a blow job, but he had no idea it would be from a heart attack.

“Fuck. Harry,” Louis moans, pulling off Harry’s beanie throwing it to the side so that he can push his fingers into Harry’s curls to hold him down on his dick a moment longer. Harry doesn’t seem to mind the action, his hips rutting into the bed as Louis does it. As if Harry need more contact with Louis’ overheated skin, his large hands come up push Louis’ shirt up almost to his collarbone. Then he begins tweaking Louis’ hard nipples as his head bobs up in down, the sensations making Louis feel as though he is going to squirm out of his skin. He had no idea his nipples were this sensitive, but holy fucking shit, they are.   

“Your mouth feels so good,” Louis whispers, looking down at Harry with his red lips wrapped tightly around his shaft, taking him further than he ever has before. When did Harry get so good at this? Louis gives himself a mental pat on the back because he must be a damn good teacher because what Harry is doing is downright unholy. He flattens his tongue on the vain that runs up Louis shaft, flicking the head with a firm tongue each time he pulls off only to repeat the process. Changing up the pace and technique to keep Louis on his toes.

Louis whines when Harry removes his hands from his chest but is too wrapped up in the sensation of being enveloped in Harry’s mouth to hear the lube cap being popped open. He feels it when a wet finger circles his hole. He props his legs on Harry’s back, giving Harry more access while he digs his heels in using Harry as leverage to thrust up into the other boy’s waiting heat. Harry uses Louis’ own momentum to slip the tip of his finger inside, allowing Louis to fuck himself on the digit to take it deeper with each motion. Louis isn’t sure what sensation feels better, the finger in his ass or Harry’s ridiculous mouth. He just knows he never wants it to end.

“Fuck. More. Please, more,” Louis moans on a whisper, being mindful that his parents may hear them and wonder what the fuck Louis is asking for more of. He really should be quiet, but he has never been a quiet person during sex, and he doesn't know if he can stop now because Harry feels too fucking good. Harry makes the decision for him, bringing one large hand up to clap over Louis’ mouth, effectively shutting him up. Louis’ eyes widen with the action, looking down to find Harry staring at him with his dick in his mouth, as if asking if what he did was okay. Louis just nods, breathing heavily through his nose around Harry’s hand, Harry’s undeniable scent only sending more sparks of arousal coursing through his system straight to his dick.

When Harry adds a second finger, Louis’ loud moan is muffled by Harry’s hand, still holding tightly over his mouth. Thank God, because Louis doesn't know how much longer he can go without fucking screaming, the pressure in his balls feeling intense. Harry then finds a rhythm, fucking into Louis with two long, thick fingers as his mouth sinks down onto his length at the same time, and Louis is fucking doomed. He grips Harry’s hair tightly and begins fucking up into Harry’s mouth again, allowing him to just concentrate on the pace of his fingers. Louis’ body feels like it is on fire, as Harry’s mouth and fingers go deeper, the later brushing against his prostate with each thrust. He knows he is moaning with abandon now, the noise being muffled by Harry just like Harry’s noises are being muffled by his dick.

Louis looks down to find Harry rutting against the mattress, getting off on Louis getting off which just spurs Louis on more. It is like one big fucking circle, and Louis can’t be fucked to care, not when all he can feel, see, and think about is Harry. Louis is close, teetering on the edge and briefly panics when he realizes he can’t warn Harry. He pulls Harry’s hair hard to get his attention, but Harry shakes his his head, going back to the task at hand which seems to be getting Louis to come in his mouth. Okay. Louis can do that. He has done that, and holy fucking shit it seems as though he is going to do it again and soon. Harry doubles his efforts, letting Louis fuck up into his mouth quickly while keeping his fingers in one place, pressed against his prostate, automatically moving everytime time Louis moves his own hips.

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” Louis chants behind Harry’s hand, the words sounding like nothing more than garbled moans to his ears. He watches Harry’s hip stutter and he knows, knows, that Harry just came in his pants, as the other boy releases a deep moan around Louis’ dick. “I’m gonna come,” Louis screams into Harry’s palm, releasing into Harry’s hot mouth, whole body tensing and shaking with his orgasm. Harry freezes, allowing Louis to thrust his hips up so that he is deep in Harry’s mouth, shooting his load down his throat. Harry swallows around it, pressing against Louis’ prostate again making more spurt from Louis’ slit. Holy fucking shit. Where the fucking hell did Harry learn that?

After the stars have disappeared from Louis’ vision, he allows his knees to open, relaxing enough for Harry to remove his fingers carefully, while also taking his hand off of Louis’ mouth. Harry is definitely going to have bruises on his shoulder blades where Louis’ heels were digging into his soft skin. “Sorry,” Harry whispers, a smirk on his features. “Had to get you to be quiet.” He shrugs, coming up to lay beside Louis, fully clothed.

“I didn’t mind. I have always been kind of loud,” Louis responds, bringing his hand up to Harry’s cheek, stroking his sharp jawline, a feeling of warmth blooming in his chest at this boy. His boy. His smart, strong, lovely boy. Louis is jarred by the realization that he never wants to let him go. Ever. He just doesn’t know how to keep him. He would get disowned by his parents, never be allowed to even go near his sisters again which would break his heart. He would get kicked out of the house and have nowhere to go or live. He also still isn’t exactly sure where Harry fits in with his faith. He knows it’s wrong, but then again, he isn’t so sure it really is wrong anymore. He feels like he is in a battle with himself.

“I should go,” Harry says after laying together, talking for a while. Louis looks at the clock, noting that it is almost time for dinner. He almost wants Harry to stay for it, but he knows Harry will decline the offer, seeing it as a hand out. He also wants to protect Harry as much as he can from the hateful words that are commonly spewed during dinner. He knows Harry would try to hold his tongue, but it would still hurt him. Louis is used to it now. Even though Harry is as well, he still has a desire to protect him.

“Okay. Yeah. I’ll drive you home,” Louis says, getting up and stretching. He finds his own pants pulling them on, hopping to get them up his shapely thighs. Harry smirks at him, then looks down at his own, grimacing at the large come stain. Louis had almost forgotten that Harry came in his pants. He is surprised Harry wasn’t apologizing for it because of embarrassment, but it seems that maybe Harry was actually listening the night of the homecoming dance when Louis said it was a turn on. It is. The fact that his dick just twitched in his jeans as he remembered it is proof.

“I have some sweats you can borrow,” Louis tells him, already rifling through his dresser. Harry is quite a bit taller than him, so he looks for ones that are either too long or that Harry could pull up, so they wouldn’t look weird. They are just going to Louis’ car, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. He smiles when he finds a pair, throwing Harry the pain black sweats. Louis laughs as they hit Harry in the face, hand coming up to catch them before they fall to the floor. Harry looks at them skeptically. “They may be a bit short, but they should fit.”

“What will we tell your parents if they ask why I am wearing your pants?” Harry asks even as he unbuttoned his own, pulling them and his underwear down his long legs. Louis’s dick twitches again, seeing Harry unclothed even though he is soft. The man is gorgeous.

“Eh-- We can just say you spilled soda on them or something,” Louis replies with a shrug, but Harry’s head snaps up, looking at him as if he has three heads. “What?”

“You’re just really good at lying. That’s all,” Harry responds, shoving his legs into Louis’ pants, pulling them up on his hips. They are short for him, so he pulls them up so that they are bunched around his calf. His old worn out chucks will look strange with them, but it doesn't matter. Louis can’t deny that he likes the look of Harry in his clothes, another way to claim him. He makes a mental note to look through his closet, maybe to find something that Harry would want to take home with him and possibly sleep in or something.

“I’ve gotta be, haven’t I?” Louis reasons, watching Harry stuff the dirty items into his backpack that Louis didn't even know he owed , zipping it back up. Louis begins to tidy up the room, placing the lube back into the Bible box, fixing his bed, and hiding the Harry Potter book in his own backpack while watching Harry out of the corner of his eye. Harry pulls his hoodie on, finds is brown beanie on the floor, yanking it down over his curls. Louis much prefers the green beanie he wore to school last week. It makes the green of his eyes pop, complimenting them so they appear even more devastating. He watches as Harry slings his backpack over his shoulder, looking at Louis as if to say ‘ready when you are’. Louis smiles at him, looking so perfect in his room, then leads them out the door and down the hallway to the stairs. He takes a deep breath, preparing to lie to his parents as he always does.

“I’m gonna take Harry home. I’ll be back in time for dinner,” Louis announces as soon as he reaches the landing, wanting to make a quick get away. The only person he sees is Mark, who hasn’t seemed to move from his spot on the sofa. Louis can hear his mom in the kitchen, probably cooking food.

“Alright. Good seeing you again Harry. Thank for tutoring my dumbass son,” Mark says, barely sparing them a glance.

“It’s not a problem, really,” Harry responds, smiling at the fact that what they just did was definitely not tutoring. Louis elbows him in the ribs, attempting to hold in his own smile.

“Okay, see you soon,” Louis says, trying to rush the conversation along, not wanting to stick around any longer than they have to.

“Bye Harry. Keep him straight,” Mark says, looking up finally, and Louis almost chokes on air. He knows what Mark meant by the statement. As in, make sure Louis isn’t breaking any rules and stays on the straight and narrow path, but holy fucking shit, did he have to use that line? Louis just stares at him, mouth open.

“I’ll try, sir, but sometimes it’s hard,” Harry replies shooting Louis a smug smile, and Louis coughs to cover up the choking noise that escapes him at Harry’s response. Mark laughs, taking it as a joke, prompting Louis to laugh nervously, and Harry just to smile brightly. That bastard. Louis wants to kill him. Too bad he may be falling for him, so instead he pushes Harry out the door.

Chapter Text

“image”

And I think I can fly

Sunshine upon my face

A new song for me to sing

Tell the world how I feel inside

Even though it might cost me everything

Now that I know this, so beyond, I can't hold this

I can never turn my back away

Now that I've seen you

I can never look away- P.O.D

 

“Did you bring everything I asked?” Louis questions as soon as he opens the door to his house one Saturday morning. Harry ignores the question in favor of stepping inside and out of the cold January weather. He toes off his shoes as soon as he walks through the door, used to the rules now that he has been over to Louis’ house a few times.

“Yeah. I had to ask my mom for some of it, so that was weird,” Harry tells him then freezes. Is Louis wearing glasses? Harry didn’t know Louis wore glasses or contacts for that matter, but he is standing before him with a pair of glasses with thick,black, square frames. And well, Harry doesn’t find it completely fair. It’s a fucking crime is what it is because he looks devastatingly gorgeous and just the right amount of nerdy to make Harry’s cock twitch in his jeans. Louis must notice Harry is staring at him with an open mouth, completely shocked because he clears his throat and uses one finger to push them up on his nose, as he scrunches it. Harry kind of wants to die.

“Oh what did she say?” Louis asks as if Harry’s world isn’t falling down around him just because Louis is wearing glasses. Harry shakes his head, deciding to save the compliment for another time when they aren’t in Louis’ living room where any one of his family members could be listening. Harry kind of wants to see what Louis looks like giving him a blow job, looking up at him under the frames. Holy fuck. He may have to ask for that at a later time.

“She just asked why and nodded when I told her. Robin helped her find what we needed, and they gave it to me without another word,” Harry responds, shrugging. His mom has been around a bit more lately, usually with Robin, but Harry finds he doesn’t hate it. He just thinks it is strange and he is also still slightly annoyed with his mom for acting like everything is peachy during that disastrous dinner. Robin and, by association, his mom, are making an effort to ask Harry how things are going even though Harry isn’t all that forthcoming with information. Robin takes it in stride while his mom seems to get hurt by it. Harry isn’t sure he cares though, too hurt by everything that has happened between them over the past several years. As far as he’s concerned, she has dug her own grave, and she can lie in it.

“Great. Mom’s in the office,” Louis says, pointing up stairs where Harry assumes the office is. He looks around, noticing how quiet it is.

“Where is everyone else?” Harry asks, looking around the deserted and eerily quiet living room. It is weird, being in Louis’ house without being surrounded by noise and the excited squeals of the twins.

“Oh, they are at the Church’s youth group. Mark took them,” Louis answers, looking around the living room himself.

“Why didn’t you go?” Harry smirks with the question, leaning closer to Louis.

“I had a special guest coming over, so I couldn’t.” Louis smiles, looking up at Harry with amused eyes behind his glasses. Harry really hopes Louis will wear his glasses more often. They suit him. If Harry maybe wants to get them messy with his own come, that is neither here nor there, and it has no influence on his appreciation of them.

“So we are kind of alone down here?” Harry asks, taking another small step closer so that their chests are aligning, barely touching. Louis glances around while Harry’s senses are on high alert, listening for any signs of Louis’ mother coming down the stairs. “I really like your glasses,” Harry mummers against Louis lips before he places a gentle kiss there.

“Really?” Louis asks, rearing back so that he can look Harry in the eyes. He looks so shocked, Harry doesn’t bother covering his chuckle. Harry bites his bottom lip and nods, before smiling again and leaning down. He kisses Louis again gently, bringing one hand up to cup his face as he does so, his thumb stroking the arm of his black frames.

“Yeah. They make you look smart, and they are sexy. I didn’t know you wore glasses; you should wear them more often.” He doesn’t give Louis a chance to respond, pulling Louis’ bottom lip between his teeth sucking and biting down, prompting Louis to moan. Harry’s cock is starting to stir in his jeans, making him want nothing more than to take Louis up to his room and ravish him like they’ve done a few times now. Exchanging messy blowjobs and hand jobs in the privacy of Louis’ room when they are supposed to be ‘studying’, has become the highlight of Harry’s Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I guess we should find your mom,” Harry whispers against Louis lips, kissing him one more time. He likes kissing Louis, so sue him. He has just discovered kissing, and he isn’t about to stop now not when Louis’ taste is the closest thing he will ever get to heaven. Louis looks up at him, almost like he is in a trance before he shakes his head as if to clear it. Harry smirks because, well, it’s kind of nice being able to have this kind of effect on someone. He has never had this kind of relationship where he felt like he could touch someone. Harry used to not like being touched, but he doesn’t mind when Louis does it. Okay maybe he likes it a bit more than ‘doesn’t mind’, but he’ll never admit it if asked.

“This way,” Louis says, turning towards the stairs and going up them, his ass swaying with the movement making Harry release a groan. Louis looks back, smirking, and Harry knows then that the bastard is purposefully moving his hips in a suggestive manner. Louis will always be able to flirt better than him, but Harry plans to at least give him a run for his money now. His New Year’s resolution was to be happy, and Louis makes him happy.

“Harry! So good to see you!” Jay exclaims when they walk into the room of what Harry assumes is the office. It is a small room with stacks of papers everywhere, the walls painted a blueish gray color. Jay is sitting at a dark mahogany desk with a computer monitor perched on top, reading glasses sitting on the tip of her nose. She stands up, hugging Harry warmly. Harry doesn’t even bother to act surprised anymore because he has become so used to her hugs. Almost every time she sees him, she hugs him at least once, usually tightly. At first, it was weird because his own mom doesn’t hug him that often, but he has become accustomed to them now, much like her son’s touch.

“Thank you for-- um-- helping me out with this. My mom doesn't know how to do it, and our guidance counselor at school is sh… crap,” Harry finishes, catching himself before he cussed, blushing a bit but Jay just smiles. His mind wanders briefly back to the day in his freshman year when Mrs. Asbury told him that he would be too dumb to go to college due to his poor grades. He hadn’t quite recovered from everything that had happened, and his family was falling apart around him therefore his grades had slipped a bit. He has recovered since then, earning a place in honors classes, making her eat her words, but the moment has stuck with him all these years. Sometimes it’s difficult feeling as though no one wants to support you.

“It’s fine, love. I need to do Louis’ anyways, so yours won't be too difficult. Lou also found some scholarships you qualify for. We can help you fill out those applications too, once FASFA has been submitted, that is,” she explains, and Harry only understands about half what she just said. The counselor came and spoke to his art class, so he had a very limited understanding of difference between grants, scholarships, and loans as well as what FASFA is, but limited is the keyword. He would have never have been able to fill it out on his own, and Anne wouldn’t have even known where to start. He could have asked Robin, but they weren’t there yet. They may never be there, and Louis offered therefore he figured it couldn’t hurt to get Jay to help them. It also means he gets to spend more time with Louis.

He wasn’t even going to apply for college, but he and Louis had a long discussion about it during the last time he was over for ‘tutoring’. Louis convinced him that there is no harm in applying, even going as far as to tell Harry the list of colleges Louis is planning to apply to. When Harry had told him he didn’t even know where to start, Louis had suggested asking Jay for help, hence why Harry is currently watching her type some numbers into the computer, occasionally looking down at his mother’s tax papers. He is kind of embarrassed, Jay now knows exactly how little his mom makes a year, but he supposes he needs to suck it up if he wants to go to college. Doing it alone would be difficult, so he is just happy to have her and Louis’ help.

“Okay, FAFSA is done!” Jay announces smiling at Louis and Harry, who were having a conversation about Liam and whether or not he will have the balls to ask Cordelia to the prom. Harry is getting anxiety just thinking about prom. He knows Niall and Louis will want him to go, but he isn’t sure he wants to. It just doesn't sound like a fun time at all. He has become used to Willow’s presence, talking to her often. They have a lot in common, and Harry likes her just fine, it is just really hard to see Louis holding hands with her around school, fake or not. Harry hasn’t said that to either of them yet though because it is stupid, and they can’t help what they have to do. He just pushes it down and reminds himself that it is fake.

“Do you have your personal statements and a copy of your SAT scores?” Jay asks, looking directly at Harry. Harry swallows, the knots making him feel sick. College just scares him a lot. He always saw it as a way to get out of this shithole he calls home, but at the same time he doesn't know how he will do it alone. He has no support system. His mom, even if she did care, never went to college, so she knows just as little as him. He would be pretty much alone which he should be used to by now. He is used to being alone in this town, a town that he knows, but being alone in a new place sounds daunting. He knows he must though, or he will be stuck here. That is not an option.  

“Um-- Yeah. I can email it to you, and here is a copy of the scores” Harry responds, handing her a piece of paper after blinking a few times, attempting to get his head in order. He has to do this. This is the only way to change the circumstances of his current existence. He doesn't want to wonder where his next meal is coming from for the rest of his life, and he doesn’t want that for his future family for that matter, if anyone would have him that is. He has to do this regardless of his fears.

“Harry. You got a 1350! I’m so proud of you! Why didn’t you tell me you got a 1350?!? Holy sh…” Louis’ sentence trails off when Jay glares at him as he pulls the paper from Harry’s hands, staring at the number. They had taken it a month ago, when their high school paid for every student in honors class to take the standardized exam, all of them getting on a bus at fuck-this-o’clock to go and take it. When Louis asked what his scores were a few weeks later, Harry said ‘pretty good’ and changed the subject. Louis didn’t push, and Harry had kind of forgotten that he never told Louis is actual score.

“Yeah. Umm-- sorry I didn’t tell you,” Harry says, and he can feel the blush rising in his cheeks, his ears feeling hot with the praise. He glances over at Jay who is smiling at him, laughing at her son who looks like he wants to burst with pride. His glasses are askew on his face just the tiniest bit, looking adorable pressed against his freckled cheek. Harry can tell that Louis wants to kiss him in that moment, his tongue coming out to wet his lips, but instead he just beams, lighting up the whole room with his happiness. Happiness over Harry’s success.

“It is a very good score, Harry. Congratulations. It’s amazing really. Go ahead and email me your personal statement,” Jay cuts in, watching with blue eyes as he pulls out his phone and forwards them to the email Jay provides. A moment later, he hears the computer ding, and she goes to open it. He looks down at his feet, knowing she is about to read it. She will probably think it’s shit. He had no idea how to write a personal statement, so he just explained why he wanted to go to college in it.

“Harry, this is really good.” She smiles at him, then begins asking him a few questions as she fills out applications to his and Louis’ chosen colleges. He almost feels like he is being interviewed by her in some way, but she doesn’t delve too deeply nor does she comment on his mom’s income. Harry decides he likes Jay. She is warm, caring, and so very kind which isn’t all that surprising since her son has similar attributes. He wonders why she is even with someone like Mark. They just seem like the total opposite, then again, sometimes he feels like he and Louis are opposites.

“Okay, you guys have officially applied to every school on your list. Harry, Louis found some scholarships we both think would be perfect for you and your interests. Come over here and take a look at them with me, see which ones you may want to apply for,” she says, patting the chair beside her, but Harry stopped listening after the words ‘Louis found some scholarships’. It’s not the first time she has eluded that Louis researched scholarships alone for Harry, as if she had nothing to do with finding them. Harry glances over at Louis, who is decidedly not looking him, finding his bare feet quite interesting, his cheeks pink.

“Alright,” Harry responds, snapping out of it and gets up slowly. He goes to sit beside Jay, putting his chin on his hand as she clicks through several tabs, showing him each scholarship. Most are for high school students of low socioeconomic status who excel and have an interest in the STEM fields. Louis is correct, those demographics apply to Harry. Suddenly this all seems like a lot, and it all feels very overwhelming. He tries to push down his panic as he and Jay start filling out some of the scholarship applications, tweaking his personal statement to fit what they are looking for. At some point, Louis drags his chair over to come sit beside Harry, offering input and placing his hand on Harry’s knee when Jay isn’t paying attention, as if he can sense Harry’s anxiety.

“So do you and Lou wanna go to the same college?” She asks after what feels like hours, hitting submit on the final scholarship application, then looking at them with an odd expression. Harry glances at Louis, rubbing his now sweaty palms down his jeans, not really knowing how to answer. He has been wanting the same answer, but has never actually asked. If he’s honest with himself, he has been too scared to even bring it up, afraid Louis’ response would be something along the lines of ‘This is great for now, Harry, but you know I will have to settle down with a girl eventually. I can’t keep this from my parents forever, and I don’t want to piss God off.’

“Yeah. We’d like to go together, I’d say. Don’t know what I would do without him,” Louis answers, cold hand coming up to pat Harry on the back with a smile playing on his face, but Harry’s heart has decided to stop working while his entire musculoskeletal system is frozen. Did Louis just say he wants to go to college with him? Holy shit. Suddenly all of Harry’s anxiety about this melts away because if Louis is with him, maybe he will be okay. Louis will be supportive, and so will Niall. Maybe with them, Harry won’t feel so lost or alone. He doesn't feel as lonely anymore as it is, not when Louis is just a message away. Sure, he still has moments deep in the night when he only has the shadows on his wall to keep him company, but then he remembers he will get to see Louis the next day and suddenly it doesn’t seem that bad.

“Same,” Harry agrees, glancing towards Louis giving him a small smile, which Louis returns.

 

__________

 

“Tommo!” Louis hears a yell from down the hall, prompting him to turn around towards whoever is calling him. He knows it has to be one of the football players since that is what they normally call him. Even Liam refers to him that way when they are hanging out in a group, which rarely happens anymore since Louis tends to spend his free time with Harry when he can. He doesn’t even eat lunch with them anymore, preferring to sit with Harry, Niall, Willow, Tara, and Liam. He never even bothered to invite them to his table, knowing it would make Harry extremely uncomfortable.

“Oh hey, Travis,” Louis greets, but he can feel Harry stiffen beside him. He doesn’t even have to look at Harry, knowing he is tense just from the other boys coming towards them in the hallway. He really wants to reach out and hold his hand, but that would probably make things worse therefore he settles for a reassuring smile. They were just walking from Choir to Chemistry together like they always do, chatting with Liam and Niall about whatever random thing Niall decided to comment on.

“I’m having a party at my place on Friday, you three are invited,” Travis tells them, pointing to Louis, Niall and Liam, completely ignoring Harry’s presence. Louis feels anger flood his system, having the sudden desire to punch Travis squarely on the nose. The guy is a moron, barely capable of counting to ten on a good day, so the world wouldn’t be at a loss if he suffered losing a few brain cells from a fist to the face.

“What about Haz?” Louis asks, gesturing in Harry’s direction, giving Travis a chance to not be a fucking prick. Harry is now looking down at his feet, scratching at his arm in the same spot Louis now knows there are scars. Louis feels sick, not knowing what Harry is thinking at that moment. If Travis fucking ruins everything that Louis has worked so hard to build in Harry, he may actually strangle the dickwad.

“Harry? Fuck no. I don’t want a freak at my party,” Travis spits, looking Harry up and down as if he is the most disgusting person on Earth, and Louis sees red. The rage in his chest is threatening to strangle him, feeling as though it is coming out of every pore in his body, making him feel like a volcano that is about to erupt.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Louis asks, putting venom in his tone this time, stepping closer to Travis. He hears Harry murmur his name, but it doesn’t register. He is too busy fuming and staring the prick down.

“Exactly what I said, Tommo. You need to clean your ears out or somethin’. He’s a fucking freak, and I don’t want him anywhere near my house,” Travis says, his southern drawl grating on Louis’ ears. Louis is shaking with rage, wanting nothing more than to kill someone or something. He glances around, seeing that a small crowd of student’s have gathered including Willow and Tara, their harsh tones gaining their attention. Some are just watching while others are pointing and whispering. This will probably get back to his parents, but he can’t find a fuck to give because someone is being mean to Harry. The need to protect the other boy outweighs any fear he has of Mark, which is shocking, but he will think about that realization another day. Right now, he is about to punch this shitstick’s lights out.  

“You have about three fucking seconds to apologize to him,” Louis threatens, pointing at Harry with the statement, but not taking his eyes off of the fuckwit in front him, watching as Travis’ large nostrils flare. He ignores Niall’s ‘come on, Lou. He’s not worth it’ in favor of staring daggers, not backing down to some close minded redneck dickhead. It’s people like him that have made Harry so untrusting. He doesn't know Harry’s whole story, but this useless excuse of a human being certainly adds to it. That fact alone only serves to foster the already overcoming desire to rearrange his face into something probably far more appealing using his fist. Travis takes a step towards him, the larger boy towering over Louis, but Louis doesn’t care. The guy could be three hundred and one pounds, and thirteen feet tall, and Louis would still be standing there, glaring at him.

“Not a snowflake's chance in hell of that happening. I don’t talk to freaks, unlike you. You seem to love hangin’ out with them. You’re better than him. Is he some charity case or somethin’? Doing it as volunteer work to get into college? I think a church would be a better choice. Then you wouldn’t have to wash your clothes all the time to get the smell of freak off of ya,” Travis says, looking around at the boys with him, laughing, prompting them all to do the same, the sound just stoking the fire running through Louis’ veins. Louis can’t stop himself, he lunges at the other boy, ready to tackle him to the ground and beat the shit out of him, but he is stopped by a set of firm arms wrapped around his torso, effectively restraining him.

“Travis why don’t you do us all a favor and fuck off. Nobody gives a shit about your small minded opinion. Harry is our friend, and we don’t give a fuck if you like that or not. Go to class. Open a book. Learn something for once in your fucking life,” Liam says, stepping up to Travis in place of Louis. He would kiss Liam for his words, but he is too busy fighting the hold on him. He thinks it is Niall because whoever it is roughly the same height as him, and he would recognize Harry’s arms around him anywhere. He just wants to get loose and acquaint his fist with Travis’ face, regardless of the consequences. His whole body is shaking as he fights to get free, but Niall’s grip is firm and unrelenting. He thinks he is saying something in his ear, but all he can hear is the sound of his own blood rushing past.

“This ain’t over,” Travis says after a few moments, turning and walking down the hallway, his friends following him. Louis really wants to go after him but is distracted by Harry hurrying in the opposite direction towards the back stairway. He barely gets a glimpse of Harry’s crestfallen face as he vanishes into the slowly dispersing crowd. Louis’ heart breaks, an intense desire to follow Harry washing over him, calming his anger. Louis fights again, this time to follow Harry because he can’t let Harry be alone after this. He just can’t.

“Let me go, Ni. I just wanna go after Harry. Please,” Louis begs, stopping his fighting. The bell for class has now rang, so they are the only three left in the hallway. He thinks he knows where Harry has gone, he just has to get to him, and he can’t do that with Niall holding him. Liam is looking at him curiously, probably wondering why he is reacting this way to his friend being bullied, but Louis doesn’t care. He needs to get to Harry. He will tell Liam everything right now if it means he can just find Harry and comfort him. Harry needs him, and Louis feels like he may actually start crying if he doesn't get to him soon. He can’t let Harry be alone again. Not when this just happened. Not when he is this upset. A pain stabs through Louis’ chest at the mere thought.

He sighs when Niall releases him, patting him on the back. He doesn’t even bother to answer Liam’s confused question as he takes off into a sprint down the hallway in the direction Harry had went just moments ago. He gets to the back stairwell in record time, only to be met with sobs coming from under the stairs hauntingly echoing around him, making his heart shatter. He allows the door to shut quietly as he carefully makes his way under the darkened stairway, trying to keep his steps soft, not wanting to scare Harry.

He creeps under, towards the source of the heart wrenching sounds, only hearing those and the sound of blood rushing to his ears. His eyes sting with his own tears when he makes out Harry curled up in the fetal position on the cold floor of the dark stairwell, his body shaking more with each sharp inhale of breath. Louis immediately notices his breathing pattern is off, each inhale and exhale coming in short, sharp pants. When Louis realizes it is getting worse, almost to full blown hyperventilating, he decides to speak. “Baby, are you okay?” His voice is soft, cracking with his own emotion, barely carrying over the sounds coming from Harry. It is a stupid question, and Harry doesn’t answer right away, however Louis has the feeling Harry knows he is there.

Louis carefully walks up to him. He doesn't know if he should touch him given that Harry didn’t like to be touched at first, but he also feels like if he doesn’t touch him he may break himself. He needs to. He needs to comfort Harry because seeing him like this is making bile rise in Louis’ throat, and it feels as if the jaws of life are crushing his heart. He decides to lay down behind him on the cold, hard floor, wrapping an arm around his torso and stroking his hair. “Please. Go away. I don’t want you to see me like this,” Harry begs between pants, each word coming out on an sharp exhale. Louis can barely hear the plea, it is said so weakly, but he tightens his grip around Harry.

“No, baby. I’m not leaving you like this,” Louis replies simply, snaking his hand up Harry’s shirt, bringing it up to his racing heart. He rubs over it, feeling his chest rise and fall too quickly to be safe or normal. Harry is full on hyperventilating now, and Louis is so fucking scared. He doesn’t know what to do. He has never seen this happen to someone before. It’s heartbreaking just watching it happen, and he can’t imagine how Harry is feeling right now.

“You’ll get in trouble for missing class,” Harry replies between breaths, the sentences coming out choppy and barely decipherable. Louis doesn't fucking care if he gets in trouble, and it is absurd to him that Harry thinks he will, however now is not the time to say that. Right now he needs to get Harry to breathe and possibly calm down a little bit. He squeezes Harry tight to his chest, feeling Harry’s body shaking around him, each hard sob pulling them further into the corner of the stairwell towards the wall Harry is currently facing. He can’t see his face, the area too dark and currently being covered with his curls, so Louis reaches a tentative had down to pull the dark hair off of his sweaty forehead, to find that his hands are also covering his face too, probably making it that much harder for him to breathe.

“Baby, don’t worry about that. Right now, I need you to breathe, okay? Try to match your breaths to mine,” Louis suggests, aligning his chest with Harry’s back, breathing deeply. Harry either ignores him, or can’t physically make himself to do it because his sobs are getting louder, each one coming out as almost a hiccup now. Louis has never felt so helpless in his entire life, not knowing what to do to help Harry. Is this what a panic attack is? He has never seen one in person, but he thinks this may be one. He searches his brain for anything he knows about it, trying not to panic himself. He can’t panic. Harry needs him to be calm right now.

“Please,” Harry begs pathetically, and Louis isn’t sure what he is begging for. Maybe it is for Louis to leave him alone, but there is no chance of that happening. Maybe it is for Louis to help him, Louis just doesn't know how. He’s powerless, and the feeling makes him want to tear his fucking hair out. He has half a mind to find Travis and make him pay for this, but Louis has a suspicion that this isn’t just about Travis. Regardless, Louis wants to take the pain away from Harry. Harry who is so beautifully broken. Louis has the urge to squeeze him until he somehow manages to put the crumbled pieces of Harry’s soul back together, so he does. He squeezes him tighter, wanting to let the other boy know that he is here for him. Someone is here for him.

“Calm down for me, love. I don’t want you to pass out,” Louis soothes, deciding he needs to get Harry off the floor. He sits up, placing his back against the concrete wall and pulls Harry until he is laying in the cradle of Louis’ legs, large hands still covering his face as if he doesn’t want Louis to see him. Louis wraps his arms around Harry’s chest and arms rocking him back and forth, one hand stroking Harry’s arm, the other coming up to run through his hair. Harry’s breaths are still coming out too quickly, whole body shaking as he puts his full weight on Louis, but Louis doesn't care. At least, Harry is giving him something. He will take whatever Harry will let him have, even if it isn’t some of his pain.

“Can’t. Breathe.” Louis makes out under Harry’s broken muttered phrases ‘please’, ‘just go’, and ‘I’m sorry’ that are currently being muffled by his hands. Louis hasn’t listened to a single one of the others because he isn’t leaving Harry like this. He won’t. He can’t physically make himself. Harry is too broken to be alone. Louis wont allow him to be alone anymore, but his most recent words slice though Louis like a knife, cold fear flooding his veins. Fuck. Harry has asthma. What if this is more than a panic attack? Louis tries to keep himself calm, wracking his brain again for some kind of information about panic attacks. He thinks he remembers some random post on a social media sight that someone had shared about them. What did it say? Oh yeah.

“Harry, baby, I need you try to calm down. Tell me what you hear,” Louis starts, deciding that maybe a distraction would work. He continues to rock Harry gently even though he is still tense, like he is afraid if he lets himself relax, his body will literally shatter into a million pieces. It may for all Louis knows, but he also knows that he will work diligently to put the pieces back together until Harry is whole again. Louis swallows silently begging Harry to answer his question.

“Your voice,” Harry responds finally, the words coming out a whimper. Good. He is at least listening to Louis now, forming whole words and sentences. His body is still so tense, Louis can barely rock them, but he continues to do so.

“Good. What else?” Louis asks feeling hope lace though his system at Harry’s reply.

“Your shirt rubbing against the wall,” Harry answers again, voice still muffled but stronger this time. Louis snakes one hand under Harry’s shirt, tracing his belly button, hoping the skin on skin contact will help. Harry’s skin is hot to the touch, damp with sweat, but Louis doesn’t care. He is just happy to be touching him, and Harry didn’t pull away. Maybe Harry trusts him more than either of them wants to admit. Louis would almost bet that nobody else has witnessed Harry is such a fragile state.  

“Okay, baby, what do you see?” Louis reaches around, pulling Harry’s hands from his face with his free hand. Harry fights him at first, shaking his head against Louis’ shirt, but Louis doesn't relent. Finally Harry drops his hand, his gaze still looking down. Louis’ breath hitches in his throat. From his angle, he can make out Harry’s face is red and blotchy, wet with his tears and snot. The sight before him hurts Louis’ chest, and he has a fierce need to protect overpowering all others. Louis swallows, knowing he needs to keep a level head. He can’t fall a part when Harry needs him to be strong. If his heart breaks just a little bit at the sight in front of him, then no one needs to know. He just never wants to see Harry likes this again.  

“The stairs,” Harry murmurs, his breathing finally starting to regulate. Louis can feel Harry’s heartbeat against his own chest, the consistent thumps coming slower now. He allows himself a sigh of relief, finally. He doesn't think that they are out of the woods yet from a relapse, but Harry seems to be finally calming down.

“Anything else?”

“Your feet and legs.”

“What do you feel?”

“Your hands. Your heart beat. You.” His voice is steadier now, and Louis smiles, so glad that Harry is coming back to him.

“What do you smell?”

“Nothin’ ‘cause my nose is stopped up,” Harry says, sniffling dramatically, southern drawl coming out in his speech pattern due to his current state of upset. Louis can’t help it. He laughs. He knows it was a dumb question to begin with, but Harry’s response was just so… Harry. He laughs more when he hears Harry’s own chuckle, squeezing him tighter to his chest, never wanting to let him go.

“I’m sorry, Lou,” Harry says once their laughter has died down. He hasn’t looked at Louis yet, instead choosing to stare at Louis’ legs and his feet, their shoes couldn’t be more different. Louis wearing a pair of VANS with no socks, despite the cold, and Harry wearing black boots.

“For?” Louis asks because he is so fucking confused. He has no idea why Harry is apologizing to him. He should be apologizing to Harry for Travis’ behavior. He by no means ever labeled that dickhead as a friend, but he has still hung out with him a few times. He had no idea he was that bad of a person, but Louis supposes people can shock you. He just hopes Travis doesn't plan on playing baseball in a few months, knowing he won’t be able to keep his mouth shut around him.

“This,” Harry says gesturing to himself as if it’s obvious.

“No need to apologize, love. Seriously. It’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. I don’t want you to be alone when shit like this happens. I want you to trust me when it comes to this. You just scared me, is all,” Louis replies, moving Harry so that he is face to face with him. It may not have been the most eloquent thing to say, but he hopes he got his point across. Harry still isn’t making eye contact, looking down fiddling with the neckline on Louis’ t-shirt.

“I-- It’s just that nobody has ever seen me that way before.” Louis doesn't know what to say. Harry’s words imply that he has had a panic attack before. Alone. Probably in his room. Louis’ eyes sting with tears and his heart feels like it has stopped beating at the thought of Harry going through that alone. Fuck. Just the thought makes his stomach roll uncomfortably and the stabbing pain in his chest intensifies. He makes a promise to himself that Harry will never go through it alone again if he can help it.

“Does it happen a lot?” Louis asks hesitantly, not sure if he really wants to know the answer. Harry shakes his head, gaze finally coming up to land on Louis’ eyes. Harry’s own are red brimmed, fat tears still leaking down his face as if he can’t stop them. Louis brings one hand up to wipe them away with his thumb. Harry is achingly beautiful even when he is broken. An angel that has fallen from grace. It hurts Louis’ soul to even look at him, but he can’t seem to look away, like the moon eclipsing the sun. He doesn't think Harry is bad for his health though, maybe just his salvation.

“Not as much anymore. This is the first time since-- um…” Harry sentence trails off, seeming to not want to say whatever it is that is on the tip of his tongue. “Since um-- October,” Harry finishes, and Louis suddenly understands why Harry didn’t want to complete his thought. The last time this happened was Louis’ fault. Louis wants to bang his head against the wall behind him, guilt gnawing at his insides. Fuck. He has been the cause of this. Harry was probably alone when it happened, too. Louis kind of hates himself at that moment. He already hates what he did, not talking to Harry about it first, but this makes him truly hate himself. Harry doesn’t deserve this. Louis is a terrible person for ever causing Harry that kind of pain to where the panic literally takes him over.

“I’m sorry. I-- I’m so sorry, Harry.” Louis’ voice cracks with his name, bringing his hand up to wipe away Harry’s tears once more. He doesn't know what else to say. He feels terrible about what happened, and he has apologized to Harry countless times, however, it doesn’t excuse his behavior.

“Don’t, Lou. That’s all in the past. Thank you for helping me now though. That is the quickest I have ever gotten past one, I think. I’m not sure though, because time normally kind of feels warped when it’s happening,” Harry says, placing a warm hand on Louis’ arm, eyes large and honest. An overwhelming feeling envelopes Louis then, one that he doesn't have a word for nor does he know what it means. It just feels like a warmess has taken over his essence, threatening to break free of his chest and bathe the darkness in light, but it is painful at the same time, making him not want to inhale.

“What do you say we get out of here?” Louis asks, looking around the empty stairwell. When Harry looks confused, he clarifies, “Like out of school. Skip.”

“What do you wanna do?” Harry asks, a small smile playing on his features, seemingly keen on the idea.

“I don’t know, what do you normally do after this?” Louis asks, with a shrug wanting to do whatever it is that would making Harry feel better.

“Are you sure you wanna know?” Harry ask, lips in a full blown smirk, and Louis kind of wants to kiss him. He doesn’t, instead he just nods. “Let’s get out of here.” Harry gets up, taking Louis by the hand to pull him up as well. Louis has no idea what they are doing, but he knows he would follow Harry anywhere.

 

__________

 

“So I just inhale?” Louis asks, looking at the glass bowl with a wary expression, as if he doesn’t trust it. Harry chuckles, nodding his head. They are sitting in his room, cross legged on his small bed facing each other, Louis holding a glass bowl full of weed in his hand.

“You really don’t have to do it if you don’t want. You asked what makes me feel better after I have a panic attack, and my answer is this,” Harry says, gesturing to the pipe. He wants Louis to know that he isn’t pressuring him or anything. It is his decision, just like Harry knew Louis wasn’t pressuring him into sex or anything like that. If Louis does this, it’s because he wants to, not because Harry is forcing him to.

“Isn’t it dangerous? Like isn’t it a gateway drug or something?” Louis questions, looking at Harry skeptically then back down at the item, examining it. Harry almost starts laughing before he realizes Louis is completely serious about the question. What the fuck? Doesn’t Louis do any research for himself at all? Does he always believe everything he is told without questioning any of it? The answer seems to be ‘yes’, and Harry hopes, if he does nothing else for Louis, he can get Louis to start questioning things more.

“No. It’s a natural plant that grows from the ground. It is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes. In fact, I would say it is less dangerous than both. No one has ever OD’d on it, and nobody I know has ever gone on to try other drugs. That gateway stuff is bullshit,” Harry finishes, approaching it with logic, as he does most things. “I mean, think about it, do you think it is more dangerous than some of the other shit that is legal to use like opioids which are highly addictive. Marijuana isn’t even addictive.”

“Okay. What do I do?” Louis asks after a few moments, seeming to come to a decision. Harry smiles at him, happy that Louis has decided that Harry is telling the truth. He thinks Louis will probably go home to research it more on his own, like Louis seems to do with all other conversations that force critical thinking. Harry is actually glad for that. He doesn’t see it as Louis not believing him, moreso Louis seeking out his own explanations which is exactly what Harry wants.

“Want me to do it first?” Harry asks. When Louis nods, he takes the pipe from Louis’ hand. Using a lighter, her expertly lights the green inside, inhaling while doing so. The smoke burns his esophagus as it makes its way to his lungs. He holds the smoke for a few seconds before he exhales, a whitish gray cloud forming around his head. He hands it to Louis, and Louis mimics his action, coughing as soon as the smoke is in his lungs, eyes watering as he hands it back to Harry.

“This isn’t so bad,” Louis says after a few passes, coughing from another hit. Harry goes and gets him a glass of chocolate milk, knowing that it helps soothe the burning during your first time, so Louis takes a drink after his coughing fit seems to have subsided.

“Yeah? I don’t think so either,” Harry responds, taking the piece from Louis, inhaling deeply, enjoying the feeling of the harsh smoke burning his lungs before he exhales. He already feels a bit more relaxed, his brain beginning to get fuzzy. He decides they need a bit of music, so he uses his phone to find something on the mellow side, the slow music flowing through the room like the smoke from their lungs.

“Yeah. It makes me feel like a dragon.” Louis then emphasizes the statement by letting the smoke blow through this nose instead of his mouth. Harry laughs because he doesn’t look like a dragon at all, but it’s adorable all the same.

“You look more like a hedgehog who found a pack of cigarettes,” Harry responds, giggling at the look of offence on Louis’ face, making him look like a grumpy hedgehog now. “Lucky for you, I think hedgehogs are very cute.” Harry leans in, placing a kiss on Louis’ lips. When he pulls back, Louis is trying desperately to keep the look of offence on his face, but Harry can see the corners of his mouth twitching threatening a smile. By the time he is done with another hit, Louis is giggling.

“You’re a dick,” Louis says through his laughter, prompting Harry to smile. Harry loves when Louis laughs and smiles, the way his eyes crinkle at the corners, his mouth shaping a perfect half moon. His teeth are white and straight, and he is simply beautiful, happiness radiating from every available surface, bathing the room in a light that only Louis can produce.

“Yeah, but I’m your dick,” Harry shrugs, grinning wide with his innuendo. He has gotten a lot better at them since the day in the park after all. He still can’t really compete with Louis, but he is getting there. By the time all of the green in the bowl is converted into gray ash, they are both feeling the effects. Harry’s limbs feel heavy, and it feels like his brain is working at only half speed, making him sleepy. He grabs Louis, pushing him down on the bed, then lays beside him once he places the pipe on the bedside table beside Louis’ phone.

“This song feels like it’s been on forever. How long has it been on?” Louis asks, eyes slightly glassy. Harry looks at his phone to see the time stamp on the song.

“One minute and forty three seconds,” Harry answers, laying his phone back down chuckling at Louis’ surprised noise. He grabs Louis’ hand intertwining their fingers, wanting to touch him in some way, loving the feeling of Louis’ much smaller hand in his own.

“You know,” Louis starts, and Harry knows that look. Louis is going to bring up religion. Harry tries to focus on Louis, on the question he is about to ask. Harry kind of loves talking about religion when he is stoned, making the topic seem less personal somehow. He waits for Louis to continue. It is taking a bit longer for him to get his thoughts in order, which isn’t surprising given their current state. Hell, it may not even be taking longer, it just may feel longer to Harry. “Wouldn’t it be safe for you to believe in God?”

“What do you mean?” Harry asks, genuinely confused by Louis’ question. He isn’t sure if it is because his brain is somewhat fuzzy, or if the question really makes no sense. He watches as Louis diverts his eyes, probably thinking of a way to rephrase in order for it to make sense to Harry. It’s cute, and Harry wants to kiss him. He doesn’t because that would be a distraction, and he really wants to know what Louis has to say.

“Like-- wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? You may as well believe in him and worship him in case he does exist so that he may save your soul,” Louis reasons bringing his free hand up to cradle his own head under their shared pillow. Harry understands now and isn’t surprised by the argument at all. He has heard it so many times before, it is ridiculous really.

“Louis, there are thousands of other Gods that people believe in. By that logic, you should believe and worship every single one of them to be safe rather than sorry,” Harry responds after a few seconds of getting his thoughts in order. He could start naming a bunch of Gods, but he doesn't want to confuse Louis with too much information, especially if it is trivial. Louis is aware of the belief in other Gods, however Harry has the sneaking suspicion he doesn't know exactly how many.

“So you’re telling me two billion Christians are wrong?” Louis counters, obviously skeptical, and Harry is surprised by the number. Louis seems to have done his research on this. Harry wonders how long Louis has wanted to bring it up

“You’re telling me that the other third of the world, that aren’t Christian, are wrong? There are more people in the world that don’t believe in the Christian God than there are who do,” Harry points out, gazing into Louis’ eyes waiting to see his reaction to that.

“I’ve never really thought about it that way.” Louis looks shocked, pink lips hanging open just a tiny bit in surprise. Harry smiles, glad he made Louis see it a different way. His goal has always been to get Louis to think critically about these types of things and not just believe whatever is fed to him by his family and his church. If he becomes an atheist while learning to think from a different perspective, that will just be icing on the cake.

“I also don’t want to worship a God just in case, especially if this God doesn’t accept me and thinks there is something inherently wrong with me, even though I was supposedly made in his image,” Harry reasons, hoping he didn’t overstep some invisible line with Louis. He has been waiting for the right moment to say it, wanting Louis to see the error in that belief.

“We were made in his image,” Louis informs, but he seems to be thinking about something else.

“If that were the case, then why would he make me and you attracted to one another, then say it is wrong?” Harry tries to be delicate with the way he phrases his point, not wanting Louis to freak if he says the word ‘gay’. He has noticed that Louis never says it, but he isn’t sure why. He thinks it may be simply because he is still struggling with accepting that part of himself. Harry wants to help him accept it, though. He doesn't want Louis to think there is anything wrong with him or his attraction to the same sex. His attraction to Harry.

“But that’s where free will comes into play,” Louis says after a few moments, seeming to get what Harry was trying to say even though he didn’t use the word.

“Ah. Yes. Free Will. That doesn’t make any sense though. Like the very idea is a contradiction to other beliefs Christians have. When something bad happens, what is the very first thing Christians say as a way of comforting the person?” Harry asks, watching the cogs turn in Louis’ head as he thinks of an answer.

“It’s all in God’s plan,” he says finally, biting his lip, probably seeing Harry’s point already. Harry is still going to explain.

“Exactly. If God has a plan, then how is it free will? He is basically damning people before they are even born. Deciding that person will be a sinner, according to his plan, of course, then there is nothing that person can do to be saved because God has already planned that they won’t be. Does that makes sense?” Harry asks, hoping he is able to articulate his thoughts in a way Louis will be able to understand even though they are both currently high as a kite.

“But if we have free will, then we choose to sin and therefore choose to go to hell for the consequences of our behavior,” Louis says, eyes lighting up as if it is a fair point, but Harry is already shaking his head before Louis has half the sentence out.

“You can’t have it both ways. Either we have free will and can make our own decision, or God had a plan for us all along. If it is the former, then he isn’t all knowing or all powerful, and if it is the latter, then he is damning us for his own plan, so there isn’t any point in following his rules.” Harry waits for Louis to process his words. The longer it takes the more Harry is worried that he has taken things too far this time with Louis being in his current state. Louis looks so lost, it almost hurts Harry’s heart. Harry has the sudden desire to help Louis find his way home. Find his way to Harry. “Baby, are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m just-- I’m confused,” Louis says, eyes snapping back to Harry’s, his neck bobbing with his swallow. Harry tightens his grip on Louis’ hand, smiling when Louis squeezes back. It feels somewhat reassuring, and Harry isn’t sure why. Maybe it shows that Louis isn’t mad at him, or that he is okay.

“It’s okay to be confused, love. It is also okay to ask questions. You can ask me any questions you want, anytime you want to. I don’t care if it is day or night,” Harry tells him, getting closer to Louis so that he can kiss his forehead.

“I know,” Louis responds, tilting his face up so that he can kiss Harry’s lips. Harry wraps his arms around Louis’ body, pulling it towards his own as he returns the kiss easily, now used to the familiar taste of Louis’ lips. A taste that Harry doesn’t ever want to forget or go without. If Louis ever decides that being gay is a choice, then Harry is completely fucked because he is falling for the boy in his arms. The boy that worked so hard to break down Harry’s walls and taught Harry to be happy again.

Things get heated between them quickly, Louis clumsily removing Harry’s shirt first, then pulling his own over his head before attacking Harry’s lips again. Every touch feels amplified due to the marijuana running through his system, each sense feeling as though it is on high alert. He feels hyper aware of every single touch, caress and kiss Louis lays on his skin, making it tingle under his touch. His cock is impossibly hard, just wanting to be inside Louis in some way. Harry helps Louis take of his own pants and underwear, then goes to remove Louis’ too, wanting to take advantage of their rare alone time.

“Fuck. Haz, please,” Louis mummers into Harry’s mouth, his voice high and needy, making another jolt of pleasure run through his body and into his cock and balls. Harry breaks their kiss long enough to grab the lube and a condom from his bedside drawer. He doesn’t bother hiding it. His mom hasn’t came into his room in years, so he isn’t too concerned that she will find it. Even if she did, she probably wouldn’t care, glad that he is practicing safe sex and not out getting girls pregnant since he is such a menace. She probably hasn’t even considered that Harry may prefer boys.

A few seconds later, Harry is pushing his lubed index finger past Louis’ tight ring of muscle, kissing his nose and freckles as he does so, listening to Louis moan. Harry will never get used to this, the feeling of Louis’ tight heat around his appendages. Harry wastes no time adding a second finger alongside the first, now being able to recognize Louis’ moans for when he wants more. He is shocked by this, having never thought he would get to the point in any relationship where he would recognize non-verbal cues with his partner.

“What do you want, love?” Harry asks, kissing Louis’ lips again, pulling the bottom one between his teeth has he pulls away. Louis’ hands come up to fist Harry’s hair when Harry adds a third finger, stretching Louis around him. He has been careful to miss Louis’ spot, also avoiding his balls and cock, not wanting Louis to come too soon. Harry should also be worried about himself though because he is still fairly inexperienced, and his stamina isn’t that great yet. He already feels on the verge of exploding, and he has barely been touched.

“I wanna ride you,” Louis answers, his voice gravelly, and Harry almost chokes on air. Louis wants to ride him? Holy fucking hell. Harry was not ready for that answer. Not even a little bit. Louis doesn’t give him time to even process the request, grabbing the condom, opening it, then rolling it down Harry’s shaft causing Harry to moan and bite his lip, trying to stop his quickly approaching orgasm. Louis puts more lube onto Harry’s cock before he straddles Harry’s hips on the small bed. Harry suddenly gets a flashback to Christmas Eve night when Louis rode his fingers. If Louis rides his cock half as well, then Harry is well and truly fucked. He won’t last.

“Fuck. Louis.” Harry hisses when Louis lines himself up, slowly sinking down onto his cock. Once Louis is seated, Harry’s eyes roll back into his head, the feeling of Louis’ tight heat wrapped around him. Louis is overwhelming all of his senses that are in overdrive from the weed. His limbs feel heavy, but at the same time he wants to fuck up into Louis. He doesn’t though, wanting to give Louis time to adjust to him. It’s not like they have had a tonne of opportunities to have sex.

“Oh my god, Harry, you feel so fucking good,” Louis voices, beginning to move his hips in small circles sending jolts of pleasure down Harry’s spine and straight into his tight balls. Harry isn’t sure if it’s the weed or Louis’ affects on him, but he feels as though he is floating. He needs something to hang on to in order to anchor him to the very Earth, so he places his hands on Louis hips, his ringed fingers digging into the meaty flesh of Louis’ ass. Louis moans in response, placing both small hands on Harry’s chest using it to gain leverage and increase his momentum. Harry can feel Louis pressing him into the mattress, almost feeling as though Louis is holding him down. He kinda likes the feeling, somehow turning him on even more. He is enjoying the view of Louis hovering over him, his brown hair falling into his blue eyes every other time his hips come off Harry’s own.

“Holy shit, Louis. Fuck,” Harry moans out, removing a hand long enough to push Louis’ hair out of his eyes, tucking it behind his ear, then quickly brings it back down to it’s resting place on his ass, squeezing again. Louis changes his angle, almost pulling completely off Harry then falling back down quickly, using his strong thighs to control the motion. All Harry can hear is the sound of Louis’ hard cock smacking against his stomach, a trail of precome connecting the two for a split second before he pushes himself back up, repeating the motion.

“Touch me, Harry. Fuck. Please, touch me,” Louis begs, so Harry silently removes one hand to wrap it around Louis’ leaking shaft, matching his tugs with each of Louis’ movements. “Yeah. Fuck. Just like that. Shit,” Louis hisses, the sound of his voice laying over Harry’s body, making it feel like it is on fire, as Louis quickens the pace of his hips.

“C’mere, need you” Harry says, using his free hand to grab Louis’ head to pull it down to him, bringing his entire body crashing down on his own. He doesn't know exactly what he needs, he just wants Louis all around him, forever. The skin of Louis’ chest is hot against his own, sticking to the already sweaty area. They shouldn’t be hot, given that the only heat source in Harry’s room is a space heater, but Harry figures that physical activity such as this will do that. The change of position forces Louis to change his own movements, now using his hips and abs to fuck down on Harry, still almost pulling completely out with each thrust. All Harry can feel is Louis, like he is drowning in him.

“I’m here, baby. I’m here,” Louis breathes against Harry’s lips before he kisses him, his pupils blown and glassy from both the nature of their position and the weed coursing through his system. Harry returns his kiss hungrily, not even caring when their teeth clack together, tongues battling for dominance. Harry continues the motion of his hands, feeling it in his mouth when Louis moans again. Louis tastes like perfection, and Harry wants nothing more than to live off him for the rest of his life. He doesn't need any other type of nutrients, just Louis’ lips and come will keep him alive forever.

“Always?” Harry asks, murmuring into Louis’ mouth, eyes looking up to find Louis’ own, the moment feeling intimate. He hates how vulnerable he suddenly feels, but the panic attack of the day has finally caught up to him. Louis seeing him during such a fragile moment and not running away. Any normal person probably would have run for the hills, screaming along the way. Not Louis, though. Louis stayed with him. He held him and helped him calm down, and Harry isn’t really sure what to do with that information. No one has ever been around when he has had one, so anyone, even Louis, being there was a whole new realm for him. Feelings in general.

“Always,” Louis responds, pushing down deeper now, instead of the fast pace he was going at before, making Harry feel everything. The heat of his tight walls feeling as though they are suffocating him in the best possible way. Harry feels like he is being smothered, but also like he is breathing for the first time in his life. Breathing Louis in, the smell of Louis’ natural scent mixing with their sweat, creating an aroma Harry wants to bottle and sell.

“Lou, ‘M close,” Harry says, beginning to suck a mark into Louis’ sharp collarbones. He feels it when Louis moans, the sound traveling through his chest making the bones under Harry’s lips vibrate. Harry could fucking die happy right now, his senses submerged under Louis’ very being.

“Me too,” Louis responds, quickening his pace again. Harry winds the hand currently not stroking Louis’ hard cock around Louis’ body, feeling where he is entering Louis, and that does it. Harry cries out as he releases into the condom, Louis following him shortly after, painting both of their stomachs and chest. They don’t even have a chance to come down completely when Louis’ phone starts ringing. Louis doesn’t even pull off Harry as he reaches to the bedside table to grab his phone. His eyes go wide, panic clearly written on his face now.

“What?” Harry asks, his brain having trouble processing anything currently going on. It feels fuzzy and floaty.

“It’s my mom,” Louis gulps, face as white as a ghost as he looks down at the vibrating and ringing phone in his hand then back up to Harry. A stab of panic runs through Harry’s chest, making his brain clear up quite a bit. Fuck.

Chapter Text

“image”

Followed you from dawn of time

Whisper thoughts into your mind

Watched your towers hit the ground

Lured the children never found

Helped your kings abuse their crown

In the heart of feeble man

Plant the seeds of my own plan

The strong and powerful will fall

Find a piece of me in all

Inside you all- Metallica

 

“Fuck,” Louis says, and he is pretty sure Harry is thinking the same thing. This can’t fucking be happening, but it is. His phone is still vibrating in his hands, his mom’s picture smiling brightly at him making him feel sick. “What do I do.” He can hear the panic in his own voice, but Harry looks just as scared. His skin is paler, big hands gripping Louis’ thighs.

“Answer it,” Harry responds just when the phone stops vibrating, but he doesn’t sound sure. Not two seconds later, it begins again, his mom’s picture popping back up. Louis swallows roughly, suddenly feeling extremely sober, as he nods. With a shaking thumb, he taps the green phone on his screen, connecting the call and brings it up to his ear.

Louis William Tomlinson. Where are you? The school just called and said you didn’t attend any of your classes after first period.

Louis winces at the sound of his mom’s voice, piercing his ear like a knife. He is pretty sure Harry heard every single word because she is pretty much yelling at him through the receiver. He stops breathing. He can’t exactly tell her that he and Harry skipped school to smoke weed, talk about God, and now he has a dick up his ass and come drying on his stomach. He is almost positive that wouldn’t go over well.

Aren’t you going to answer me?

Oh right. Talking. He is supposed to be talking. He can talk. He has only been doing it since his first year of life. Forming whole words and everything. He can even write when he needs to, so talking isn’t that difficult. Right? He sighs, deciding to stick as close to the truth as possible. It is a personal rule while lying. He looks down at Harry and sends a silent prayer to up someone he isn’t sure is even there anymore in hopes that Harry won’t be too mad at him. Trepidation is painting his beautiful features like a dark cloud, green eyes wide, red bottom lip pulled between his teeth, his dark brows pulled into a frown, making Louis want to bend down and kiss the lines. Comfort him in someway.

“I’m with Harry, Mom. I’m sorry. Something happened at school, and he was really upset. You can ask Liam. I offered to take him home because he doesn't have a car, and I was really worried about him. I’m sorry for skipping school, but he needed me,” Louis tells her, eyes on Harry for his reaction. He knows Harry doesn’t like showing emotions or letting others burden his problems. He wanted to say enough for her to understand the stress of the situation but not so much that Harry would be upset. It’s like walking a tightrope above the grand canyon, and Louis is slightly scared of heights. Harry doesn’t look upset though, no more than he did ten seconds before. He still looks concerned, but more so for Louis. When Harry rubs his leg in comfort, he knows he isn’t upset, and Louis is more relieved then he cares to admit.

Oh.

Oh? What the fuck is he supposed to do with ‘oh’? She sounds somewhat relieved. He knows his mom likes Harry even though he wears dark clothes. She seems to have a bit of a soft spot for him which is apparently genetic because Louis’ entire being is soft for Harry and his sisters also love him. “Umm-- a-are you mad? I know I should have called you, but I just didn’t think of it in the moment.”

You scared me, Boobear.

Harry mouths the word ‘Boobear’ with a smile, and Louis smacks his bare chest with an eye roll and a smile of his own. He knows Harry has heard his mom use the term of endearment before. Harry has even used it himself on his birthday, but this is the first time he has openly commented on it. Perhaps it was a move to lighten the tension that has fallen around the room, and it works. Louis feels more relaxed just like that. “I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to scare you. Really.”

It’s okay, love. I understand. You had to help your friend, and I am proud of you for doing so. It’s not like you to skip school, so I was just worried.

“You’re not gonna tell Mark, are you?” Louis asks, his question hesitant. He closes his eyes and tilts his head towards the ceiling, praying for an answer in the negative. Funny he is praying with a dick still in his ass and come still drying on them, while straddling the boy he is definitely kind of falling in love with. He can see the irony in it, hitting him like a fucking shovel to the face, but he is still sort of praying. If he was God though, he probably wouldn’t answer his prayers. He is definitely a sinner in this moment, after all.

I should, but I’m not going to. He wouldn’t understand, so it will be our little secret. Just come home around 3:30, and he will never know. Is Willow still coming for dinner tonight?

He can hear the smile in his mom’s voice, and Louis feels like he can breath again. Panic is no longer gripping his chest, stopping him from taking in air. He can feel the rest of the tension leave both his and Harry’s body, as he looks down at Harry smiling. Harry is smiling back, fingers drawing patterns into Louis’ leg now. He forgot Willow was supposed to come to dinner like she does every Wednesday evening before Church. He will just text her later, tell her he will pick her up at the normal time. It's not that big of a deal. Harry didn't even react to the mention of Willow, maybe he is getting used to it. Willow and Harry a friends now, so it's not surprising. Harry is used to her being a constant presence in their lives. 

“Yeah. She is and thank you.” He can feel Harry squirming a bit, probably getting over sensitive, so Louis slowly lifts up, feeling Harry’s soft dick slip out of him, barely concealing a hiss. If his mom heard that, it would be hard to explain. Harry’s has his eyes closed tightly, probably trying to muffle his own groan.

Okay. I’ll see you in a little bit. Don’t make a habit of this though, Louis. If I hear you skipped school again, I will tell your father, and you will surely be grounded.

She can’t be serious. Grounded? That is the stupidest thing he has ever fucking heard. You can’t really ground someone who isn’t allowed to do anything in the first place. That’s like punishing a bird who has spent its whole life in a cage by telling it that it can’t fly. It doesn't know anything else, so it’s not really a punishment. Regardless he agrees to her terms, then exchanges goodbyes and hangs up. As soon as the call is disconnected, he literally deflates on top of Harry, relaxing completely, not caring a single bit about the dried come on them.

Harry warps his long arms around him, rubbing up and down his back for a few minutes as they lay in silence, their breaths and heartbeats seeming to sync up. Louis feels so relaxed by the rise and fall of Harry’s chest, he thinks he could fall asleep. He hears Harry start to speak in his chest before the words come out of his mouth. “What do you wanna do for three hours?” He sounds nervous again, and Louis can’t have that.

“Nap?” Louis asks, looking up at Harry with a smile. Harry nods, pulling the condom off and tossing it into the trash can beside his bed. He leaves, coming back with a washcloth to clean them both off. Without another word, he climbs into the small bed with Louis, pulling him so that Louis has resumed his previous position with his head on Harry’s broad chest. He covers them with the blanket, and Louis is suddenly feeling exhausted. Harry is warm, the rise and fall of his chest, mixed with the sound of his heart beat is so fucking relaxing. If Louis could recreate it, he could sell it as a cure to insomnia.

“Are you feeling better, Hazza?” Louis asks, his voice tired. He isn’t even sure where the question came from, but he feels like he has to know. He has to know if Harry is feeling better after the events of the day. He will never forget the sound of Harry crying and broken on the floor, the fear of the moment. He doesn't know what happened to Harry, but he never wants to see him like that again. Or if it does happen again, he wants to be with him at the very least.

“Much. Thank you, Boobear,” Harry responds, and Louis can hear the smile in his voice, his large hand tracing Louis’ spine. Moments later, they are asleep.  

 

_____________

 

“Are you sure you wanna do this, Haz? This is permanent, permanent. Not like a sharpie or some shit,” Louis asks, his voice sounding slightly panicked. Harry can’t stop the chuckle that escapes his lips at the question. It is the seven thousand, two hundred and eighty fifth time Louis has asked it today, but it is still kind of adorable. Thank the gods that Harry’s birthday just so happened to fall on a Friday and a half day of school. Harry had skipped school earlier in favor of getting his ID updated to reflect his new status as an official adult, then he met up with Louis once Louis was done with school. So they have plenty of time for Harry’s birthday present to himself, then dinner with his family. He still isn’t sure how Louis convinced his parents to allow him to come, but he isn’t questioning it. He suspects Jay having something to do with it.

Harry couldn’t fucking believe it when Louis told him he was going to be allowed to spend his birthday with him. He almost didn’t want to believe it. This is the first time in six years that he has been actually looking forward to his birthday. Niall usually tries to do something to make it special, but his mom is hit or miss. Some years she would cook him his favorite meal, then he, her and Gemma would watch a movie together while eating his birthday cake. Other years, however, she left him completely alone. This year, though, Robin and Anne are making him dinner and a cake, and Gemma is coming in from college. They also told him to invite Louis, so of course Harry did. He just hopes it isn’t as disastrous as the last meal he had with his mom and Robin, although his mom has been making more of an effort with him lately. He still isn’t sure if he wants to give her a chance though, having been hurt by her for far too long.

“I did quite well on the English portion of the SATs, so I believe I know what permanent means, Lou,” Harry jokes, looking over at the other boy, but Louis isn’t paying him any attention. His blue eyes are trained on the tattoo shop in front of them, his expression one of discomfort, his posture stiff. Harry looks around to make sure no one is on the street, before he grabs Louis’ arm, bringing his attention back to Harry. “What’s wrong?”

“I just...” Louis sentence trails off as he looks back at the tattoo shop in distress, his eyes following the words on the window then to the various designs displayed. Harry tightens his hand on Louis’ arm, trying to keep him in the conversation. Louis looks more nervous than he feels, every muscle in his body tense, his jaw clenched. He is looking at the tattoo parlor the way Harry looks at church, with forlorn.

“You didn’t have to come with me, you know. If it makes you this nervous,” Harry tells him, keeping his eyes and voice soft. He doesn't want Louis to think he would rather do this alone, but at the same time, he doesn’t like seeing him this distraught. He felt less anxious about the whole thing when Louis offered to come with him in the first place

“No. I couldn’t let you do this alone. It’s just-- like-- what if you regret it? What do you even know about this place, really? They could have dirty needles or some shit,” Louis rambles, his voice getting higher with each word, alarm evident in each syllable. Harry wants to kiss him as a way of comfort, but he can’t. Not in the open, in broad daylight where anyone could see. Even if they are in the next town over, it is still a place the locals of their town frequent, since it has more places for shopping and such.

“Hey. Hey. Hey. Calm down, Lou. I won’t regret it. It’s just a tattoo. Another mark to add to my body,” he pauses, realizing his slip too late. He recovers quickly, taking a deep breath to plough on before Louis notices his obvious pause amongst his own panic. “Mac’s friend owns the place. Mac says he is really clean and good. He even called for me to set up the appointment, so that his friend would be the one doing it. Relax, babe.”

“Okay, if you’re sure.” Harry nods, and Louis takes a deep breath, physically relaxing under Harry’s fingers. Just a tiny bit, but it’s a start. He thinks Louis will feel better once they are in there, and he realizes not all tattooed people are scary. Harry smiles at him, and pulls him through the door, listening as the little bell rings above signally a customer has entered. The room is large and open with comfy looking black leather couches along the walls, tables with various magazines, and pictures of tattooed clients hung all around. The atmosphere is almost inviting and warm, not dark, cold and scary. The woman behind the counter smiles brightly, the bars in her nose, septum, eye brow, and lip gleaming in the light. Her hair is short and bright red, with orange streaks throughout. She also has a fair bit of her body tattooed, from what Harry can tell. He notices Louis has fallen behind, so he grabs him by the elbow and pulls him to the counter with him.

“Hi. I have a tattoo appointment with Bowen,” Harry says politely, suddenly feeling nervous. Louis must sense it because he grabs Harry’s hand and squeezes. Louis hand is slightly sweaty, but Harry appreciates the comfort. He doesn't think it will hurt too bad. He has probably inflicted worse on himself, but the anticipation is killing him.

“Harry Styles?” She asks, eyeing him and Louis up, her eyes glancing down at their clasped hands. Harry swallows and nods. “I need your Driver’s Licence, and for you to fill this out.” She slides a paper in front of Harry that looks to be some sort of survey.

“I don’t have a licence, will an ID work?” Harry asks, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet, covertly avoiding Louis’ eyes. Harry never told Louis that he didn’t know how to drive. It never came up in conversation, and it wasn’t something Harry was proud of or wanted Louis to know, but now he does by default. Harry feels even sicker at the thought, making the anxiety in his stomach roll. Fuck.

“Yes. That’s fine, hon. Just need to take it to the back and make a copy of it for our records,” she responds, reaching to grab Harry’s ID. She glances down at it and smiles broadly as she says, “Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you.” Harry can feel the blush rising on his cheeks at her remark as he takes the offered survey on the clipboard and moves to sit down on a sofa. Louis follows, plopping down beside him. The sofa is so deep, Louis’ feet don’t quite reach the floor, and he swings them back and forth. Harry would tease him about it because it is fucking adorable, but he is busy still trying to avoid his gaze, acting as if the survey is the most difficult exam he has ever had to take.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you don’t have a driver’s licence?” Louis asks after a few moments, and Harry freezes. He didn’t phrase it as if he was accusing Harry of keeping stuff from him, just more curiously, but that doesn't make Harry feel any better.

“Never came up,” Harry answers with a shrug, keeping his eyes trained on the page, filling in his birth date. He can feel Louis’ fidgeting beside him, probably wanting to ask another question but doesn't want to upset Harry. Harry sighs, putting the pen down on the page and turns to Louis who looks surprised to have his attention. Harry never gives information about himself unless he is asked directly, and even then he probably still won’t answer honestly. Today, though, seems like a day of first. “I never got it because my mom never taught me. My dad fucked off when I was in middle school, and since then, my mom has been too busy to teach me to drive. We don’t have an extra car, so I can’t teach myself, plus that’s illegal, so yeah.”

Harry releases the rest of his breath, his heart beating wildly. He has no idea why that was so hard for him to do. It’s Louis. Louis has never made fun of him or said anything negative about his life in any way. He should trust Louis. It’s just so difficult. He can feel his cheeks burning. It’s embarrassing. How is he eighteen years old and never learned to drive a vehicle. Everyone he knows has their licence, yet he has never even sat behind the wheel of a car. He hates it, but there is nothing he could do about it. He does his best to keep eye contact with Louis though, feeling strangely vulnerable. Even more so than when Louis found him under the stairs a week ago. That moment was far from his control, but this, Harry chose to share this. Louis’ eyes dawn with understanding, the blue feeling like it is cutting into his heart.

“I’ll teach you,” he says after a few moments, and Harry wasn’t expecting that. Not at all.

“What? How? You’re parents are so strict, plus I can’t ask you to give up your time to teach me how to drive,” Harry argues, picking his pen back up to fill out the rest of the survey. The sooner he completes it, the sooner they will start his tattoo. He had almost forgotten the reason why he was there in the first place due to the direction of their conversation.

“Mark usually works until five, and school lets out just after three. I think mom will be understanding if I tell her what I’m up to. We can do it on days that you don’t work. Baseball doesn't start until March, so that gives us a month an half. Even then, I can probably still teach you after practice if Mark is working late or whatever,” Louis says, and Harry realizes very quickly that Louis has put a lot of thought into it, which does something to Harry. It makes his heart warm. As much as he wants to believe otherwise, it really feels as though Louis doesn't want to go anywhere. That what they have is more than just a passing fling. Harry doesn't know how their relationship will fit into Louis’ faith, but he has a feeling that Louis’ faith may be changing, waning even.

“I’ll think about it,” Harry answers, glancing over at Louis who is beaming, eyes crinkling in the corners because they both know that will most likely result in a ‘yes’. The realization that Louis knows his mannerisms so well startles him. Louis can read him. Holy fucking shit balls. Louis can actually read him. It is partly Harry’s fault for letting his guard down more and more around Louis, but he is also strangely okay with it. It feels good not to always cover his facial expressions and wear a mask around him. It is almost like he can be himself around Louis without fear of judgment. He has that with Niall, of course, but this feels different. Niall is just a friend because eww, but Louis is so much more than that.

“Harry Styles?” A deep voice asks, causing both Louis and Harry’s attention to snap up. Harry had just finished filling out the survey, so he gets to his feet. The man that said his name is an older guy, about Mac’s age. He is tall with short gray hair and tattoos on every exposed surface of his skin except his face.

“That’s me,” Harry responds, shaking the man’s hand, returning his smile. He glances over at Louis who is back to looking scared.

“Mac’s told me a lot about you,” Bowen says, gesturing for Harry to hand him the survey as he gives Harry his ID back. Harry quickly slips it into his wallet as Bowen’s brown eyes scan the page. “So you want to get a heart. What kind of heart?”

“Just a black one. Not an anatomical one or anything, just a simple black heart, filled in,” Harry tells him, slipping off his jacket. Louis reaches out to hold it as Harry points to the location on his bicep he wants the tattoo, indicating with his fingers the size while Bowen nods a long.

“Alright. That shouldn’t be too hard. Hold tight for a minute and let me sketch something up, then I’ll take you back.” Harry nods and watches Bowen disappear into the back room. He returns a minute later with the sketch of a black heart. He shows it to Harry, and it is exactly what he wants. He looks at Louis who just shrugs as if to say ‘it’s your body’.

“This is perfect,” Harry says smiling at Bowen. He likes the man. He has kind eyes despite his intimidating outward appearance.

“Alright come on back. You can bring your boyfriend with you if he wants to come,” Bowen responds, already turning towards the back rooms, but Louis and Harry both freeze at his comment, glancing between each other, neither really knowing how to respond. Harry feels like his heart has moved up to to the region of his throat, closing off his air way with each new beat. Louis looks just as petrified, as if he doesn’t know if Harry wants him to correct the man. Harry doesn't know if he wants to correct Bowen either. Finally, Louis just shrugs, takes Harry’s hand, and follows him in the direction that Bowen had just gone. What the fuck?

 

__________

 

“So that’s it?” Louis asks, watching as Bowen applies some kind of ointment to the new tattoo on Harry’s bicep. The black heart is looking red and angry on Harry’s porcelain skin, but Louis finds he doesn’t dislike it. At first, he thought he would hate it, always being told tattoos are bad and against the Bible. Mark has even gone as far as to say ‘if God wanted a picture there, he would have done it when he made you.’

“Yup. Just wash it twice a day with unscented soap and warm water and apply lotion when it starts getting itchy. Try not to scratch at it, you don’t want an infection,” Bowen says, covering the area with shrink wrap, telling Harry more instructions. It suddenly dawns on Louis why Harry’s choice of tattoo looked familiar. He drew a heart on Harry’s arm a few months ago to distract him from a difficult conversation that looked strangely similar, even being placed close to the same location. Harry couldn’t have chosen that particular design from that, could he? Louis would ask, but he doesn't want to make Harry feel uncomfortable on his birthday, and he could be wrong. If he is, he will look like a total jackass, and it could also bring up another more unpleasant conversation therefore he pushes the thought into the back of his mind where it shall stay, forever.

“Ready to go, Lou?” Harry asks, snapping Louis out of his thoughts. Louis hadn’t even been paying enough attention to notice that Harry has already put his coat back on and paid the artist.

“Oh yeah. It was nice meeting you, Bowen,” Louis says, and he means it. When he first saw the guy, Louis will admit, he was scared shitless. The man looked intimidating and gruff, but once they went back, Louis quickly realized that he was the exact opposite. While doing Harry’s tattoo, he talked to them about his garden, and how he couldn’t wait for spring to get back out there and plant some more vegetables. He seemed like a big teddy bear to Louis, even though a part of his job is to inflict pain.

“You boys have a good day, and Happy Birthday again,” Bowen responds with a wave before he heads into the back room. Louis and Harry both wave at the girl behind the desk as they make their way outside, back into the cold.

“So how did you get your parents to agree to spending my birthday with me?” Harry asks as they climb into Louis’ car. Louis isn’t surprised by the question. He knows Harry is curious, and he was just waiting for him to ask.

“Mark is out of town for the weekend. Something to do with the Army or whatever, so Mum said it wasn’t a big deal as long as I’m home by 9. She also said to tell you Happy Birthday,” Louis informs, pulling out onto the road, heading in the direction of Harry’s house, glancing over to see Harry smile at the comment.

“Your mom is so nice. I don’t see why she is with Mark,” Harry remarks, reaching for Louis’ hand to hold it on the center console. Louis’ heart flutters with the action, knowing Harry isn’t usually the one that makes a move, but that has slowly been changing lately, Harry’s confidence in himself and their relationship growing more every single day.

“You and me both,” Louis agrees with a roll of his eyes. He hates Mark. He realizes that now, but it is a hard pill to swallow because he feels guilty for it. Mark wouldn’t love him if he knew who Louis really was though; Louis knows this. Doesn’t stop the shame that rises in his throat from the thought, especially after everything Mark has done for them. His mom didn’t have to struggle with Mark. She could stay home and raise their kids while he provided for them. It may be a very 1950s way of thinking, but Jay seems happy with the arrangement.

“Why doesn't she divorce him?” Harry asks, his question genuine, and Louis glances over at him. Louis is surprised to find he doesn’t really know the answer to that. They aren't very affectionate with one another, and they have been arguing a lot more lately however she would probably never divorce him.

“I dunno. I think there are two big reasons. The first is because she depends on him for financial security, and the other is because divorce is against the Bible,” Louis says, nodding his head deciding that had to be the case.

“You do realize that marriage isn’t a strictly Christian principle, right?” Louis recognizes that tone. It is the same tone Harry uses every time they have these types of conversations. It is calm, measured, and reassuring. Louis, it seems, it about to learn something new today. Still, he disagrees with what Harry just said.

“Marriage is definitely a Christian tradition,” Louis scoffs glancing over to see that Harry seems unbothered by the comment.

“What makes you think that?” Harry asks, and it seems he honestly wants to know Louis’ reasoning behind it, however he can see Harry’s brain working under all of those dark curls. His green eyes gleaming with intellect, probably trying to predict Louis’ next rebuttal, but Louis is actually fairly knowledgeable on this subject, having talked to a preacher about it when gay marriage became legal in the US. He remembers that conversation well, ultimately deciding that marriage should be between a man and woman, even if he, himself, had a sinful secret life.

“The Bible states that marriage is a divine covenant made before God and with God. In Matthew, it says that man shouldn’t separate that of which God has joined together,” Louis tells him, noticing that Harry still hasn’t removed his hand. He knows Harry doesn’t get mad when Louis argues back, though. In fact, he seems to enjoy a good debate, and Louis feels as though he just got a point.

“Marriage existed well before Christianity and exists in many cultures outside of Christianity. It is believed that ancient Egyptians even had some type of marriage ceremony that ended it a celebration. They also allowed for divorce. Celtic people had hand fasting before Christianity took hold of their culture. In fact, the Church didn’t even get involved in marriage until 800 CE. Even after that, the Roman Catholic church still felt that marriage was impure, which is why their priests aren’t allowed to marry. If it was a Christian tradition, then why are so many within the church forbidden from ever doing it?” Harry asks, gaze on Louis’ face. Louis glances over, meeting Harry’s eyes for a brief moment before glancing back.

“Other religions don’t allow their leaders to marry, asking them to take a vow of celibacy,” Louis points out, smiling. Harry looks slightly impressed by Louis’ statement, and Louis feels strangely proud.

“That’s true, but that just reinforces my point that marriage isn’t strictly a Christian tradition,” Harry replies, and Louis should have known better. He walked right into that one which he tends to do with these discussions it seems.

“It is still sacred. A sacred bond between a man and a woman,” Louis counters, realizing it is off topic, but he really doesn’t know how to respond to the information Harry just provided. He had no idea that the idea of marriage existed before Christianity. He knew that there were obviously people who had a ‘marriage’ in royal lines and what not, but he just never really thought about what that meant until now.

“There is nothing sacred about marriage,” Harry scoffs, and Louis can almost hear him rolling his eyes. “Historically speaking, marriage has been about property, wealth and ownership. Fathers used to auction their underaged daughters off to the highest bidder. Men used to have multiple wives as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. What’s so sacred about that? And why does it have to between a man and a woman?” Louis blinks a few times, feeling as though he has been hit by a Mack truck. Louis feels sick at the answer. If what Harry is saying is true, which it always is, then there is nothing sacred about marriage, but he can answer the second question.

“Marriage is for procreation, and homosexual relations can not lead to procreation,” Louis responds, pretty much reciting word from word what the preacher had told him. He has it memorized, repeating it like a mantra on days when he thought that maybe his homosexuality isn’t so wrong, but Louis has always wanted a family. He can’t do that with a man. Men can’t give birth. Their anatomy doesn’t match his, so it is against nature. Right?

“Louis, I’m sorry, but that is the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard. By that logic, then men and women who are infertile should not be allowed to marry. Because a woman is infertile, something that your God made her, does that mean she should not be allowed to marry?” Louis feels like the words hit him square in the chest, knocking the breath from him. Holy fucking shit. Harry’s right. That logic is flawed, and Louis feels dumb for ever believing it. He just, he believed what the preacher told him without question. He believed what he wanted to believe and didn’t even try to question it or draw his own conclusion. He followed blindly.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with divorce. I think it is a good thing. It means less people are in unhappy marriages where they may be abused. If God punishes people for saving themselves from abuse, how does that make him good?” Harry asks, and that’s a damn good question that Louis doesn’t have the answer to. He would normally say that if someone chose to marry their partner, then they knew what they were getting into, but that isn’t always the case, is it? People change. Mark certainly has since he and Jay got married. He feels Harry squeeze his hand as they fall into a heavy silence, while Louis drives the rest of the way to Harry’s house.

“You still wanna come in, right?” Harry asks, his voice small when they pull up in front of Harry’s house. It looks empty. Harry said they would be alone for the first few hours until the rest of his family arrives.

“Of course, darling,” Louis responds, kissing Harry’s knuckles as a way to show him. Harry doesn't look like he believes him though, and he waits for what he knows Harry is about to say.

“I thought I may have… I don’t know-- pissed you off or something.” To be fair, Harry did upset him, but not in the way Harry believes. He is mostly upset at himself for just blindly following his entire life. It is a hard realization to come to terms with, and it probably won't happen for him in an hour or so. He feels like it has been slowly building since he met Harry, each conversation about religion between them another brick lost in his tower of faith. It hasn’t come crashing down quite yet, but it is definitely swaying in the wind.

“No, love, you didn’t. You were just telling me facts like always, which is something I appreciate. Sometimes it feels like I have been lied to my whole life,” Louis responds, and he can almost see the sentence ‘you have’ escape from Harry’s lips even though he doesn’t utter a single word. His green eyes are wide and honest, almost as if he feels sorry for Louis. Louis can’t take it any longer. He closes the gap between their lips and kisses Harry in broad daylight in his car, where any passing person can see. He doesn't think there is anyone around, but their kiss gets heated quickly, his dick twitching in his jeans as Harry’s tongue delves into his mouth.

“Inside,” Harry mummers into his mouth, and Louis doesn't need to be told twice. Their lips separate with a wet pop as Louis pulls away to reach for the door handle. He quickly gets out of the car, following Harry’s long strides and watches as Harry fumbles to unlock the latch. The door isn’t even fully shut behind them when Louis launches himself into Harry’s strong arms. Harry barely even stumbles before he grips Louis’ ass, picking up off the floor. Louis wraps his legs around Harry’s hips, moaning when he can feel Harry’s hard dick rub against his own through the fabric of their jeans.

“Fuck.” Through Louis’ lips that are currently attached to the long column of Harry’s neck, he can feel the word as it travels from Harry’s chest to his mouth then out into the air. Louis nods, biting his favorite spot where Harry’s jaw meets his ear, extracting another curse from Harry.

“Harry,” Louis whines, grinding down again as Harry rips his coat off his arms with one hand, keeping the other firmly wrapped around Louis’ back, helping him keep his balance. He tosses the offending item into some undisclosed location, his now free hand coming back to cup Louis’ ass. He pushes Louis up against the wall, the surface cold through the fabric of Louis shirt, grinding their clothed dicks together, moaning into each other’s mouths with abandon.

“Yeah?” Harry responds on a breath, kissing Louis’ lips as he uses both hands to push Harry’s coat off his shoulders, letting it pool to the ground at their feet. One hand comes down to grip Harry’s shoulder the other his bicep. He is confused for a split second when he feels something that doesn't quite feel like skin. He looks down to find the plastic wrap covering Harry’s tattoo. He remembers Bowen said to only leave it on for half an hour after the appointment, and it has been about that therefore Louis removes it carefully, looking at the red raised skin under it leaning back against the wall for support.

“Does it hurt?” Louis asks, his finger itching to trace the jet black heart. He refrains, knowing that he shouldn’t get germs or debris in it. He will have plenty of time in the future to inspect it, trace it, possibly with a pointed tongue. Where the fuck did that thought come from? He didn’t think he liked tattoos, but on Harry, he is finding it kind of sexy. He won’t say that outloud yet, but he kinda… likes it.

“Not really,” Harry shrugs, and Louis has a newly desperate urge to kiss his lips, so he does, tightening his legs even more around Harry’s slim waist and grinding, moaning into Harry’s mouth. Using strong arms and legs, Harry removes Louis from the wall and carries him up the stairs into his room. Harry isn’t as uncoordinated as he likes to believe because that move requires quite a bit of strength and balance. The room is cool on Louis’ overheated skin as they tumble onto Harry’s small bed.

“This. Off,” Louis demands, grabbing Harry’s muscle T and yanking it over his head, watching as his curls fly with the momentum. He can feel Harry’s big hands on his stomach, then his shirt comes off a moment later, being thrown in the same vicinity that Harry’ shirt lays. Louis moans when their torsos align, loving the feeling of Harry’s skin against his own. Harry’s mouth is back on his in a punishing kiss as he grinds their dicks together. Louis feels like he is about ready to jump out of his skin if something doesn’t happen soon, so he pushes his hands down between them, easily undoing Harry’s jeans and pushing them down his hips, allowing Harry to do the rest.

Once Harry’s jeans, underwear and socks are in the floor somewhere, he sits back on his haunches, looking down at Louis with hungry eyes. Louis wants to squirm. He has been under Harry’s intense gaze a number of times now, but it never fails to make him feel like he is both going to fold in on himself and explode at the same time. Harry runs his hands up and down Louis’ torso, warm and sure. Louis closes his eyes and moans in response, just wanting Harry to do something. Harry laughs, as if he read his mind, and carefully begins removing Louis’ jeans.

“Please. Do something,” Louis begs when his aching shaft springs free, just wanting more. He watches with hooded eyes as Harry reaches into the nightstand pulling out the lube and a condom. Louis then makes an executive decision to give Harry something nice for his birthday. He grabs Harry’s hips and pulls him down on on the bed. He kisses him soundly, the lube and condom being dropped on the side. Just when Harry doesn't expect it, he flips their bodies over so that he is on top of Harry.

“Has anyone ever given you a rim job for your birthday?” Louis asks even though he knows that Harry has never had his ass licked, but he wants Harry to know he has the option to say no. Harry’s green eyes widen in response, his throat bobbing with a swallow. His mouth is hanging open in surprise, but he looks interested.

Louis knows Harry has watched porn, and he has a sneaking suspicion that Harry reads romance novels even though Harry will never admit it. He knows Harry is aware of what a rim job entails, so he waits with bated breath. His mouth waters. He wants to fucking do this. He wants to taste Harry where no one has tasted him before. A thrill goes up his spine every time he and Harry do something new, feeling as though he gets to share another exclusive moment. Another first for Harry. He feels as though he is special in some way, Harry trusting him with all of these new sexual experiences. It is a lot, and does weird things to his heart and stomach that he can’t explain. He knows one thing for sure though, he wants to give Harry this for his birthday.

 

____________

 

“No, but if-- if you want to, I wouldn’t say no,” Harry stumbles out, nervous moths blooming in his stomach at the idea. He knows what one is. He has read about it and seen it in porn, but he never thought he would ever actually have it done to him. Louis just smiles down at him, seemingly happy with his answer. He taps Harry’s hip once, and Harry understand the silent gesture, kicking one long leg over Louis’ head to turn over. When he is on his stomach, Louis smacks his ass lightly, prompting Harry to laugh into the pillow, relieving some of the tension in the room.

“Hands and knees, love,” Louis tells him. Harry looks over his shoulder to see Louis watching him with hooded eyes as he gets into position. Harry’s hard cock is swinging between his legs, the tip almost touching the comforter below, not relieving any of the pressure that has built in his balls. A dusky pink tongue comes out to lick Louis lips, as if in practice. Harry wants to moan at the site, the anticipation making his stomach jump again.

Harry turns his gaze toward the pillow as Louis’ begins to lean in, afraid he will come if he watches even for a second. The image of Louis’ firm pink tongue and thin lips is almost enough to take him over the edge as it is, so to actually see it in real life sounds like a recipe for coming too early. He feels it when Louis’ small hands come up to his cheeks spreading him, making him feel more exposed than he ever has before. Well that’s a lie. Harry felt far more exposed and vulnerable when he was having a panic attack under the stairwell with Louis holding him. Louis has proven himself time and time again, so he tries to keep his breath even when he knows Louis is leaning in.

“Holy fuck,” Harry hisses when he feels a broad tongue right over his hole, licking a fat strip. He feels it when Louis chuckles, his breath ghosting over his now wet entrance. Louis has barely even started, and Harry already feels like he is going to explode. Louis stops licking for a moment to bite and kiss Harry’s right cheek, kneading the other one with a firm hand. Then Louis goes back in, licking the area with a pointed tongue making Harry’s whole body shake.

“Lou,” Harry whines, feeling as though all of his senses have been assaulted by the man currently licking him into a pile of skin and sensations. Harry never thought in a million years a guy would give him this for his birthday, but here he is bent over and begging for something as Louis tongue splits him in two.

“That’s it, love. Relax for me,” Louis whispers, the words flowing over Harry, making him melt into his bed even more while fisting the pillow under his head for purchase. He can’t talk. He can’t think. His mind has been taken over by a blue eyed boy with a sinful tongue who is able to teach him all types of things. It has been that way for months, but for the first time, Harry is okay with that. He doesn't want to fight it. He doesn't want to pretend it isn’t happening. He wants to welcome it. What would be so bad about letting Louis in? He doesn't have time to ponder the questions when Louis’ pointed tongue licks into him again.

“Ah. Fuck. Shit. Lou. Gods. Fuck,” Harry curses, far past forming coherent sentences. He has no idea how Louis manages to do it. He just feels like he needs more somehow. He doesn't know what, and he can’t fucking think with Louis’ tongue buried in his ass. When it curves inside of him and hits his spot, the sensation is so overwhelming, he tries to pull away, but two firm hands on his hips keep him in place. Shitting hell. He moans deep and low when it happens again, squirming under Louis’ grasp. Holy fucking shit. His balls feels like they are going to explode yet his cock hasn’t even been touched.

“More,” Harry begs, his voice muffled by the pillow, and he isn’t even sure what the fuck he is begging for. His breathing is heavy and uneven, coming out in quick huffs. He is pretty sure he has tears in his eyes from the both overpowering and pleasurable sensations. Holy hell. If this is what pressure on your prostate feels like, it’s no wonder Louis loves bottoming. Perhaps Harry will ask Louis to fuck him someday. He’s not ready to go there yet, but maybe someday.

“Okay, babe. Want a finger?” Louis asks, and Harry freezes, the question running through his mind at light speed. Does he? On the one hand, if he says yes, Louis may want him to fully bottom, however, he knows Louis’ wouldn’t push him to do anything he is uncomfortable with. All he would have to do is tell Louis ‘no’. Louis even fucking asked before just doing it like most people. That’s got to count for something. Right?

“Yes,” Harry answers, nodding into the pillow. He feels it when Louis’ mouth his back on his hole, sucking and licking with a newfound furiousity. He doesn’t add a finger right away, and Harry almost forgets he is going to, too lost in the sensation of Louis’ mouth. He barely registers it when the tip of Louis’ finger begins prodding around his hole, getting him used to the feeling of it being there. When he pushes past the tight ring of muscle, Harry tenses up at the intrusion. It feels… weird.

“You’ve gotta relax, love. It will feel so much better if you relax,” Louis says, his soft voice muffled by Harry’s skin. Harry tries to relax, it is just a new feeling for him. When Louis begins licking around his finger, though, Harry feels like he is melting. His body goes pliant with the sensation, allowing Louis enough room to crook his finger and touch his spot, prompting Harry to cry out in pleasure. Harry isn’t going to last long at this rate. Fuck.

“Louis. Feels so good,” Harry manages wanting Louis to know how crazy he is making him as his eyes roll back in his head when Louis touches his prostate again with a firm finger. He feels like he can’t breathe, but he isn’t sure he even needs air anymore when he has discovered this. All he needs is Louis and his magical tongue and his wicked finger. Holy shit balls. Yes. He’s dying because this feels too good to be happening while he is alive. This is as close to heaven as he will ever be.

“Fuck. Harry. You taste so good. Can’t get enough of you,” Louis responds, and Harry’s head is spinning. He doesn't know up from down. Fuck he doesn’t even know his name at the current moment, he just needs to come, but he has no friction on his cock. None. He is so incredibly turned on, his shaft is aching. He can’t imagine how Louis must feel. He doesn't think he is touching himself, if the movements of the bed under him are anything to go by. Louis is focusing on him, and Harry kind of wants to cry. Right now he feels like the center of Louis’ world, and he has never felt like that before. Ever. He never felt like his happiness mattered to anyone, but with Louis, he feels like he matters. He suddenly wants Louis to come with him.

“Fuck my thighs,” Harry says abruptly, turning to look at Louis. Louis has stopped mid lick, his finger halfway into Harry’s ass, as he looks at him with wide blue eyes. He looks shocked by Harry’s words, as if he doesn’t quiet believe what Harry is asking for. Harry knows what he is asking for though. He isn’t ready for Louis to fuck him, yet, but he wants something. This is as good of a first step as any, plus they can both get off. Harry wants Louis to get off for his birthday.

“What? Are you sure?” Louis asks, raising up a bit so Harry can see him better. He looks fucked out and sinful. His brown hair is messy on top of his head, eyes glassy, and his chin and lips are wet with spit. Harry finds himself nodding before Louis even gets the question out, completely sure in what he wants. He wants Louis to come with him. He knows this like he knows he needs air to live. He wants Louis to come on him. He wants to feel Louis between his thighs.

“Yes. Please, Lou,” Harry begs trying to put as much sincerity into his eyes as possible alongside the need to come. When Louis nods and grabs the lube, Harry stays where is, unsure of what position Louis will want. Louis taps his hip, so he lays down on his side, feeling it when Louis’ gets behind him. He holds his breath, suddenly nervous, when he feels a sticky hand come between legs, coating the inside of his thighs in lube. He feels hot all over, despite the cool temperature of the house. He hopes his thighs are good enough for Louis. He knows it won’t feel as good as him bottoming, but he hopes it will work for now.

“Not gonna last long,” Louis says, kissing Harry on the cheek as he gets into position behind him. Harry opens his legs, allowing Louis to slide his hard cock in between them before he closes them again, tightly, hearing Louis hiss in his ear. A spark of arousal floods his system. He didn’t realize he would find this so incredibly hot. Harry cranes his neck to capture Louis’ lips as he braces his legs even more. He moans when he feels Louis’ hot cock scrape against his balls with every thrust.

“Me either,” Harry mummers into Louis’ mouth as Louis snakes his sticky hand down Harry’s torso, grabbing his cock to match the rhythm with his thrust. Holy fucking hell. Harry’s now empty hole tightens around nothing, as Louis continues his movements, licking into Harry mouth. Harry can feel the pull behind his navel that he knows means he is going to come soon.

“Holy shit,” Louis curses when he matches the rhythm of his hips to the timing of his strokes on his cock. Harry seconds that. Holy shit indeed. He can almost feel what it would be like to be fucked by Louis, and he loves it. The way his hips are meeting his own with every thrust, the sounds he is pulling from Louis just from his thighs. The idea of being fucked by Louis like this, his thick cock pulsing inside of him has him teetering on the brink.

“‘M, close, Lou. Fuck,” Harry warns,  getting lost in his own imaginings of Louis cock being buried deep in him, making the same movements instead of just between his thighs. He almost stops Louis to tell him to open him up, and just fuck him. He doesn't. They are both far too close, neither of them would be able to last through the process, plus they don’t have time. He also doesn't want to regret his decision. He wants to come to it when they aren’t in the heat of the moment. He knows Louis wouldn’t agree to it when they are in the middle of anything sexual anyways, arguing that Harry isn’t thinking clearly. To be fair, he’s not. All he is thinking about is Louis inside of him. The way his thick cock is sliding on his thighs, and how it may feel sliding against the walls of his hole, pressing on his prostate with every thrust. Fuck.

“Come for me, babe,” Louis responds, biting his lower lip hard, quickening his strokes and thrust. All Harry can feel is Louis’ hot firm body behind him, his small tummy pressing into his lower back with each sharp breath. With the way his hand is fisting his length perfectly and his hard cock between his thighs, Harry topples over the edge. His whole body tightens with his release, prompting Louis to moan because of the nature of their position. Spurt after spurt of hot come coats Louis’ hand as he works Harry through it, making a mess on the bed. Once he is finished, Louis releases Harry’s cock, grabbing his hip with a messy hand as he begins to fuck faster. Harry crosses his legs and squeeze, too fucked out for much else.

“Fuck. Louis. Please come. Need it. Need it on me,” Harry begs. He isn’t sure where the fuck that came from, but it seems to spur Louis on. He watches Louis’ face out of the corner of his eye, and he knows Louis is about to come. He can tell from the crease between his brows, his wide eyes, his firm lips opened into a small ‘o’. Harry has Louis’ orgasm face memorized to the point that he could probably paint it if he was any good at art. Not even three seconds later, Louis is coming, coating his thighs and the bed in his sticky release. Louis releases his grip on Harry’s hips, bringing his hand to rest on Harry’s stomach while Harry can feel Louis’ own stomach against the small of his back, breathing starting to regulate.

“Wanna shower?” Harry asks quietly, after their heartbeats have calmed down and synchronized, twinning his fingers with Louis’. They are sticky with come and lube, but Harry doesn’t care. The moment feels perfect, but he knows his family will be home very soon. He can almost feel the minutes ticking by in his brain. He is nervous about dinner with his mom, Robin and Gemma, but this has already been the best birthday he has ever had. Not even an argument with his mom could change that at this point, and it is all because of Louis. The man who is currently holding his hand like he never wants to let go. Harry gets that.

“Love to,” Louis responds a moment later, kissing Harry on the forehead. Harry freezes at the L word. Louis calls him love all the time as a term of endearment, but for some reasons Harry’s brain processed the sentence as ‘love you’ instead of ‘love to’. Harry shakes his head, trying to get some semblance of logic back before he turns his face to smile at Louis kissing him on the lips.

 

___________

 

“So you’re the guy that has been making my little brother smile more?” Gemma asks as soon as Harry opens the door, and Louis feels like his heart may actually stop. He knows he is staring at her open mouthed, probably on the side of gaping, but he doesn’t know how else to react. Louis is so caught off guard by the question, he didn’t take in her appearance until now. She has long dark hair, the same shade as both Harry’s and Anne’s, and a dimpled smile. All three favor each other, and Louis isn’t surprised that she is also gorgeous. He doesn't know if Anne could make an ugly child.

“Uh…” Louis knows it’s not an answer, so he glances at Harry for help. Harry’s cheeks are red, and he isn’t making eye contact with Louis or his sister. Louis is hardly ever at a loss for words, but right now he truly is. Then it dawns on him. Harry talks to his sister about him. Holy fucking shit. Louis’ can’t believe it. The realization hits him square in the chest, making him feel as though there isn’t enough air in his lungs and his heart is too big.  

“Relax. He talks about you. It’s all good things,” she confirms his suspicions with a wink, taking off her coat and throwing it on the back of the couch. Harry’s face is still the same shade as a tomato, as he returns his sister’s hug. She isn’t what Louis was expecting at all. She is bright and vibrant, smiling easily, very different from Anne and Harry, even though Harry has been smiling more. Harry didn’t shy away from the hug, wrapping his long arms around her lower back pulling her in, smiling into her shoulder. He clearly missed her, and Louis can’t help but smile, seeing his boy so obviously happy. “You’ve gotten taller, H.”  

“Yeah. He’s grown like two inches since I met him,” Louis pipes in, finally finding his voice. Gemma turns to him, smiling. When she hugs him, Louis is completely caught off guard again, but returns it after a few moments. She doesn’t give him any indication as to why she hugged him, just pulls away and looks at both of them with a smile.

“Happy Birthday! The big one eight. How do you feel?” She asks, hitting Harry on the shoulder, and Louis notices her accent is just a bit thicker than Harry’s but not nearly on Niall and Liam’s level. Harry has told him that he has worked to obliterate his accent over the years, and he hates when it shows however Louis loves it. It’s adorable. It only comes out when he is tired, drunk, or upset, and Louis loves every second of it even though he never wants Harry to be upset. He wonders if Gemma lost some of it because she is in college with a more diverse group of people, and not like Harry who worked to actually stop speaking with it.

“The same as seventeen, but with more freedom. Bought myself a tattoo for my birthday,” Harry says, smiling brightly and pushing up his left sleeve, having changed shirts after their shared shower, for her to see. She whistles low, pulling his arm to get a better look at it. It looks red and angry, but still good. Louis has decided that he doesn't hate it. He isn’t sure he likes it yet, but he definitely doesn’t hate it.

“Nice. When did you get that done? Does mom know?” Gemma asks, her questions coming out quickly unlike Harry’s speech pattern.

“A few hours ago with Louis, and yeah I told her. You know she doesn't give a fuck about me, Gem,” Harry responds, with a shrug. Gemma frowns but doesn't correct him. Not for the first time, Louis wonders what the fuck happened with Harry and his mom to make their relationship so strained. He obviously has a good relationship with Gemma. They seem close. Close enough for Harry to talk about Louis. He doubts that Harry has told her the nature of their relationship however she at the very least knows that they are friends, and Harry is somewhat happy again.

“When are Mom and Robin supposed to get back?” She asks, and as if on cue, the front door opens to reveal both Anne and Robin, holding grocery bags and smiling brightly while walking in from the cold. They greet the party, then go into the kitchen to dispose of the groceries. It’s weird being in Harry’s house when it is full of people. He is so used to the eerie quiet that enveloped him in the past, the noise is a stark contrast.

He talks to Harry and Gemma in the living room while Robin and Anne prepare dinner in the kitchen. He finds he likes Gemma. They have similar senses of humor, and poor Harry is getting teased left and right by both of them. He notes that Gemma tries to make him laugh almost as much as he does, which is right by him. She is smart, and Louis can easily see how she managed to secure a scholarship to pay for her college education. If he has anything to say about it, Harry will too.

“Dinner is ready. The cake is cooling. Figured we could eat and give Harry his presents, then have cake,” Robin tells them, popping his head through the door separating the kitchen and living room letting a delicious aroma in. Harry looks surprised at the mention of presents, but he knew Louis had bought him something. While they were waiting for dinner, Louis ran out to his car to retrieve his gift to Harry. He just hopes Harry likes it. They all make their way into the kitchen, Louis sitting between Harry and Gemma at the small round table. In the middle is a steaming pan of lasagna, and Louis’ mouth is watering. It looks and smell delicious. After their activities earlier, he is starving.

“So Harry, show us the tattoo,” Robin prompts once everyone has been served with a portion of lasagna and some garlic bread. Harry pulls up his sleeve to show the table his new tattoo, even though both Gemma and Louis already saw it. Anne and Robin both smile, examining it closely.

“What made you decide to go with a heart?” Anne asks, eyes coming up to meet Harry’s. Louis is very curious to hear Harry’s answer, so he quietly puts down his fork, attempting to hear exactly what Harry has to say without being obvious and making Harry even more nervous.

“Oh well-- I mean-- umm-- I draw stuff on myself all the time, so I wanted it too look more like a doodle. I figured a heart would be great because it could mean a lot of things and is up for interpretation,” Harry answers even though it’s not really an answer. Harry did that thing again where he answers a question but doesn’t really answer it. He is good at that, Louis has found. He decides not to push further, figuring that Harry would tell him his reasoning behind it if he wants. He knows Harry would never say it in front of his family.

“I like it. Want to get any more?” Robin asks, taking a bite of his lasagna followed by a bite of garlic bread.

“Yeah. I already have the next few planned. I am gonna start saving up for another one now that I got this one,” Harry says excitedly, face lighting up. Louis makes a mental note to ask Harry what others he wants to get and how soon. He is beginning to get curious about tattoos. He doesn't think he will ever want one for himself because it is against the Bible, but he doesn't know if he minds them as much on other people. Harry specifically.

“Okay, Harry. We can’t wait any longer to give your present, so this is from me and Robin,” Anne says once dinner is almost finished, smiling so widely, both dimples are popping. Louis doesn't think he has ever seen her smile this much. From what he has gathered over dinner, she seems kind, but there is a definite invisible barrier between her and Harry, one that Gemma and Robin are obviously trying to break.

“And me!” Gemma adds prompting Harry to smile at her obvious lie, and Anne rolls her eyes but nods anyways. She hands Harry a white envelope, and he looks confused. Louis suspects he probably doesn’t get a whole lot of presents from his mom, so he is most likely surprised by the gesture. Louis feels guilty for being surprised as well however he suppresses it, and gives Harry an encouraging smile. He watches as Harry opens the envelope with shaking hands, pulling out what looks to be two tickets, but Louis can’t see what they say.

“What are they?” Louis asks, putting his chin on Harry’s shoulder and peering at them. It may not be exactly the most bro thing they have every done in front of people, but Harry’s family aren’t even batting an eye. He loves watching Harry’s big hands as they flip the tickets over, then glances to see his profile is in a wide smile, dimples coming out again as he looks at his mom and Robin. Louis has the sudden overpowering urge to kiss that dimple, making an appearance more in the past month or so than it ever has before. He doesn’t though because Harry’s family have their eyes on him as well as Harry.

“They are tickets to see Metallica in March,” Harry tells them, an unconvinced look marring his features. Louis removes his head from Harry’s shoulder to get a good look at him, and yes, he does look doubtful of the new turn of events. Louis knows that Metallica is a band that Harry adores, and he thinks they have listened to a few of their songs together however he can’t be sure. Either way, Harry should be excited, not skeptical. “You can’t be serious.”  

“We are,” Robin says, nodding his head. “Got you two tickets then I got one for myself, so I could take you. In This Moment is opening for three headliners: Volbeat , Disturbed , then Metallica is on last. Figured we could make a day out of it then grab a hotel room for the night. You can take whoever you want, even though I suspect who you want to take is already sitting beside you.” Robin gestures to Louis with one large hand.

“I can’t. My parents would never allow me to go to a rock concert,” Louis gets out when all eyes of the table land on him. He lets the disappointment he feels lace his tone as he looks down at the table, feeling suddenly sad that he is going to miss out on such a special moment for Harry. He could take Niall though. He would probably be happier with him anyways since they have been friends for so long. Niall probably even knows the bands and music. Louis doesn’t know any of it.

“But I want you to go,” Harry says the words so low, Louis wonders if anyone has heard them but him. He looks over to find Harry’s bright green eyes on him, sparkling with his happiness of the occasion, and it breaks his heart just a tiny bit more that he can’t. He would never be allowed. Mark would never ever allow him to go anywhere, much less a rock concert. It’s hopeless.

“Let me talk to your parents. Perhaps we can come to an understanding if I tell him that I am taking you boys to the Biblical Museum that just so happens to be in the same city. We will be going with a group from my church,” Robin replies, a sly smile on his face. Hope blooms in Louis’ chest. That may actually fucking work. Holy shit.

“Do you even have a church?” Harry asks, giving Robin a small smile.

“Hell no,” Robin responds, and Gemma cackles prompting the rest of the table to laugh as well. Louis decides right then and there that he likes him. He has the sneaking suspicion that Harry is also starting to like him as well, but he knows Harry won’t admit it or even allow himself to. Harry is convinced that Robin will leave like the rest of them, but Louis thinks that he may just be around for a while. He looks at Anne as if she hung the moon, and he obviously cares for Harry and Gemma, going out of his way to make sure they have what they need. Harry told him that Robin bought him a winter jacket a few weeks ago when he noticed all Harry had was a single hoodie. Louis likes anyone that takes care of Harry.

“You’re awful,” Gemma chuckles, fond smile on her face looking so much like Harry it’s strange. Anne pats Robin’s hand as he smiles at her.

“I just think that he is eighteen years old and should be able to make his own decisions about that kind of thing. If he wants to go with us, we can find a way,” Robin says with a shrug. “Do you wanna go with us?” He asks Louis, all eyes back on him. Louis thinks about it for a moment weighing the pros and cons in his head. On one hand, he doesn’t know anything about any of the bands that are playing, but on the other, he really wants to be with Harry during his first concert, their first concert really.

“Yes, but only if Harry promises to make me a playlist on Spotify, so that I can actually know the music,” Louis responds, smiling at Harry. Harry nods his head in agreement, his own dimpled smile lighting up the room and Louis’ universe.

“Okay, it’s settled then. Hope you boys don’t mind sharing a hotel room,” Robin says, looking between them as if waiting for one to protest, or maybe waiting for them to agree. Louis isn’t sure. His head is spinning with the new information. Holy shit. He is going to his first concert with Harry. It is going to be so much fun. He is going to have to borrow something black and decidedly less preppy to go. He doesn't want to be a poser, but he also doesn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, plus the idea of wearing Harry’s clothes does something to him.

“I think we are okay with that,” Harry responds, smirking at Louis then reaches his hand under the table to squeeze his knee. Louis returns the smile, not wanting to seem too eager, but fuck he is. A whole night alone with Harry, where they could sleep together without having to sneak out at the ass crack of dawn.

“Okay. I don’t know how I am going to follow that up, but here is my gift,” Louis says, reaching beside himself to the floor where he placed the badly wrapped present. He did manage to wrap it in birthday paper and not news paper, so that’s got to count for something. There is tape in awkward areas and the bow is crooked, but he tried. He hands it to Harry, suddenly feeling nervous over his choice of present.

“Thank you.” Harry takes the gift with one big hand and wide eyes. Louis knows he is probably confused. It looks like a notebook, but it is so much more than that. Harry begins opening it slowly, popping the random bits of tape instead of just ripping into it like Louis tends to do. He mostly keeps his eyes on Louis, not the gift he is slowly opening. It makes Louis feel hot and squirmy under the intensity of his gaze.

“Oh my Gods, Lou! This is so cool!” Harry says, finally unwrapping it and holding it in his hand, looking through the pages.

“Yeah. It’s a Songwriting Journal. I know you write in your journal a lot, and now that you have a guitar I know you have been learning how to read music and stuff. I figured it would be a great way to combine two things you love and are passionate about,” Louis rambles, his nerves making the words come out quickly, all in one breath.

“I love it. It’s amazing. Honestly, Lou. Thank you. You have made this the best birthday ever,” Harry tells him, whispering the last part so that only Louis can hear. His smile is bigger than it has been throughout the whole dinner making Louis’ stomach flop and his heart feel like it has been filled with helium and will float out of his chest any moment now.

“Happy Birthday, Hazza,” Louis responds returning his smile and wanting desperately to kiss him at that very moment. To do something physical to reflect the feeling in his chest. Instead, he grabs Harry’s hand under the table, squeezing it tight, never wanting to let go. Harry squeezes back, seeming to have the exact same thought.

Chapter Text

“image”

Cut me open and tell me what's inside

Diagnose me 'cause I can’t keep wondering why

And no it's not a phase 'cause it happens all the time

Start over, check again, now tell me what you find

'Cause I'm going out, I'll fake what's real

Can anyone respond?- Bring me the Horizon

 

“Jesus, Hazza, could you be any louder?” Louis hisses when Harry climbs through the window of his room the night of Valentine’s Day. It took everything in Louis’ arsenal to even get Harry to agree to come over in the first place. Harry, in true Harry fashion, hates everything about the holiday. He didn’t even want to exchange presents, insisting that the present Louis got him for his birthday was enough, but Louis still has something for him. Not a present perse, but something Harry can take home with him.

“I could, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want that,” Harry responds, smirking at Louis when he brings his other impossibly long leg through the window, setting both feet on the floor of Louis’ room. Louis has most of the lights turned off, in case one of his sisters gets up to go to the bathroom and tells his parents that he was up later than allowed. His parents and sisters are supposed to be in bed, asleep, but there is always the chance of getting caught.

“I’m glad you came, though,” Louis says, pulling Harry down for a hug, breathing him in. He smells like winter, vanilla, and something so Harry that Louis just can’t identify. Harry wraps his long arms around him, placing his cold hands on the small of Louis’ back under his shirt causing Louis to yelp in surprise, and Harry to chuckle in his ear. Louis knows he just saw Harry a few hours ago at school, but that was different. They can’t really do this at school except for when they sneak off together during free period, which happens more often than not these days.  

“Not yet,” Harry quips, pulling his head back to smirk down at Louis. It takes Louis’ brain a moment to process what Harry is referring to before he smiles at the innuendo, smacking Harry on the chest even through his thin t-shirt. It is far too cold outside for Harry to have just gone out in a thin shirt, but Louis isn’t going to argue. Harry hardly ever wears anything warm, it seems. Louis lets him go, allowing Harry to remove shoes before they sit on the bed together.

“Okay. I know you said you didn’t want presents because you think this holiday is stupid and was only created by the chocolate companies to sell merchandise, but I still wanted you to have something.” Louis says the sentence quickly, having it practically memorized from rehearsing it in his head all throughout the day. Harry’s green eyes are wide in the low light, blinking at him.

“But I didn’t get you anything,” Harry responds, looking at Louis in confusion. Louis uses one finger to push his thick rimmed glasses up his nose because they started to fall, and Harry’s eyes follow the motion, a look of hunger there that wasn’t present before. He didn’t think anything of it when he took out his itchy contacts an hour ago, replacing them with his glasses, but Harry seems to like the change.

“I didn’t buy this for you. It was already mine; I just want you to have it,” Louis tells him, reaching over to the other side of his bed grabbing the item and holding it behind his back. Harry now looks curious, knowing that Louis is hiding whatever it is behind his back. Louis can’t take the anticipation any longer and thrusts it into Harry’s hands.

“Your football jersey?” Harry asks, holding up the item between his index fingers and thumbs, inspecting it. It looks small in Harry’s big hands, the 28 on the front and back catching the low light, causing it to almost shine. Louis loves that number. He isn’t sure why, but he loves it. Maybe it’s because he was wearing the number when he and Harry shared their first kiss. It feels like it means something to him now, and it isn’t just a number.

“Yeah. Thought you may-- umm-- want to wear it when you’re home alone. You know, kind of like I’m with you,” Louis whispers because he is too nervous to say it any louder. He can just blame it on the fact that they are supposed to be being quiet. It’s probably a stupid present, and Harry probably hates it. The boy hates sports in general, so why on Earth would he want Louis’ old jersey? Louis wants to smack himself for thinking it was a good idea.

“I love it. Thank you, Lou,” Harry says smiling widely, both dimples popping, eyes shining and Louis fucking melts. He is so far gone for this boy, he doesn't even know what to do at this point. It makes his chest ache and his stomach knot up in the best kind of way. Louis can’t help but picture Harry wearing the jersey in his room when he is lonely. It will probably be a tiny bit too short and tight on him, hugging his body in all the right places. Louis’ dick twitches at the thought. Maybe one day he will get to fuck Harry while wearing it. Fuck. Now he is definitely hard.

“You’re welcome,” Louis responds, leaning in to kiss Harry on the lips. Harry’s big hand comes to cup Louis’ jaw, keeping him there to deepen this kiss, tongue delving into Louis’ mouth. A spark of pleasure races through Louis’ system as he reaches for Harry’s shirt, tugging it up over his head, letting his hands come down to rest on Harry’s chest. He tweaks his left nipple, being rewarded with a deep groan from Harry straight into his mouth. Before Louis even knows it, his own shirt is off and tossed somewhere on the floor, and Harry’s hands are already in the waistband of his sweatpants, pulling Louis on top of him so that he can yank the offending item of clothing off. Louis kicks them to the floor when they are at his ankles, working on Harry’s jeans as well.

“Fuck. Harry,” Louis moans when Harry flips them over easily, laying his naked body on top of Louis so that their dicks are aligning. Harry’s feeling warm and hard against his own, making Louis even more turned on. Holy shit. He doesn't know how much longer he is going to last at this rate. He loves it when Harry takes control and tells him what he wants. He loves seeing the confidence in Harry grow because of him. Louis takes off his glasses, placing them on the bedside table beside the lube. Harry pouts but doesn’t say anything. Louis just rolls his eyes, not wanting to get his glasses messy with whatever bodily substances they exchange.

“Wanna suck you. I promise, no sex,” Harry says, one hand coming up to cup and fondle Louis’ balls, making his eyes roll back into his head. Louis knows Harry won’t push him into sex. He knows Louis isn’t ready for that and may never be, and that makes his heart ache. Louis pushes that ache aside, deciding to instead concentrate on the ache in his balls and dick. Louis just nods, unsure if he can form actual words at the current moment. When Harry kneels between his legs and begins licking the head of his dick, Louis thinks he may actually pass out.

“Oh God,” Louis moans when Harry takes him all the way in, his nose rubbing against the trimmed patch of hair at the base of Louis’ groin, breathing him in. When the fuck did Harry learn to deep throat? Has he been practicing on a banana or some shit? Louis isn’t fucking complaining though because he is definitely reaping the rewards of that practice right now.

“You’ve gotta be quiet, babe,” Harry whispers, coming off Louis’ dick with a slick, wet pop making Louis bite back a groan. Louis can barely see Harry’s eyes in the semi darkness of the room, but he can definitely see that he is smirking. His full lips shiny with spit. It’s their first Valentine’s Day together, however, Louis is getting all of the pleasure and that just won’t do. He pushes the pillow off to the side so that his head is level with the rest of his body as Harry sinks back down, his wet, hot mouth feeling perfect.

“Why don’t you preoccupy my mouth? Come here,” Louis tells him, but Harry looks at him with confused eyes, big mouth still wrapped firmly around Louis’ dick. It’s obscene, and Louis almost comes at the sight. He doesn’t, though, liking his idea much better. “Straddle my face,” Louis explains further, and Harry’s eyes widen with the realization. He doesn't remove his mouth, as if Louis’ dick is his most favorite toy as he swings his body around. Louis helps him maneuvers his legs so that he has a knee on either side of his head. Louis looks up, licking his lips at the sight of Harry’s length right in front of his face.

He grabs Harry’s hips, pulling him down into his waiting mouth feeling Harry moan around his own dick as he sinks down. He can taste the saltiness of Harry’s precome on his tongue, and he moans for more. It’s a bit easier to be quiet with a dick in your mouth, though. The pull behind his navel is already present, signaling that his orgasm is imminent. He can feel Harry’s thighs twitching around his head, so he spreads Harry’s cheeks resting a finger against Harry’s dry hole. He really isn’t going to last long at this rate, then Harry pulls off, probably struggling to concentrate on both things at the same time.

Harry holds himself up on two hands as he begins fucking into Louis’ mouth, with Louis barely able to suppress his gag reflex, nearly choking. He is, for all intents and purposes, completely pinned down, but he is kind of enjoying it. A moment later, Harry uses two large ringed hands on his knees to spread his legs, and Louis feels a spit slicked finger tracing his hole. Harry leans down again, but instead of taking his dick into his mouth, Harry begins licking Louis’ balls as he presses the tip of his finger past his tight ring of muscle. Louis feels around on his nightstand blindly until he comes into contact with the lube that he had gotten out of his Bible case before Harry got there, knowing they would probably need it. He tosses it on the bed beside Harry and hears it open up a moment later. If Harry isn’t inside of him soon, Louis thinks he may actually die.

“You’re so tight,” Harry mummers, the words ghosting over Louis’ tight balls, making his dick twitch against Harry’s broad chest. Harry wastes no time slipping his finger down to the last knuckle, seemingly just as desperate as Louis. Louis moans around Harry’s length when Harry begins thrusting his finger in and out, adding a second one just minutes later. Louis has never felt so helpless and turned on at the same time. The pressure of Harry’s weight on his torso, plus the fact that he can’t communicate with, him is taking him even closer to the edge. He doesn't have any friction on his dick though, so he doesn’t think he will be coming any time soon. Fuck.

“You take my fingers so well,” Harry whispers, and Louis isn’t sure he even heard him. Maybe Harry didn’t want him to hear the words, however Louis did, and his dick is fucking throbbing now. Harry doesn’t talk much during sex, and Louis thinks it may be because he feels stupid or insecure doing so, but he has been becoming more vocal recently. Louis is loving it. Loving the sexually confident side of Harry he always knew would be there. Louis wants to tell him to talk louder and that he loves it, but he can’t because he has Harry’s dick down his throat, which may or may not turn him on even more. Knowing that he can’t talk.

He reaches for the lube, finding it laying against his hip. He opens it, making sure Harry hears what he is doing. Harry makes no move to stop him as he squeezes a bit onto his finger, placing it against Harry’s tight hole. When he applies a bit of pressure, Harry’s hips stutter, forcing his dick deeper into Louis mouth, a low moan escaping his chest. Now who’s being too loud? Louis would mention that, but his mouth is otherwise occupied. He isn’t sure if that pisses him off or turns him on. He is going to go with both. Harry’s hips soon regain their rhythm, and Louis notices Harry is withdrawing his hips more from Louis’ face, forcing Louis’ fingers in deeper. Harry’s moans are muffled, as if he is biting down on something to stop them from escaping.

Harry is tight around his fingers, but relaxed enough that Louis decides to add a second finger. Harry had two fingers in him on his birthday, even though he may not have been aware of it. He uses the same technique as before, starting with just the tip of two fingers allowing Harry to control how much he takes. Before Louis’ knows it, he is two fingers deep in Harry while Harry fucks his mouth. Harry also has two fingers inside Louis, but he is still not touching his dick, driving him mad. Louis just wants to come. He is surprised Harry hasn’t yet, even though Louis has been trying to only touch his prostate every other thrust.

Louis moans when Harry adds a third finger, nodding his head in hopes that Harry can feel it through his dick. He doesn’t know if that is possible, but it is worth a fucking try because he can’t do much else. Harry keeps the pace of his hips, gagging Louis with almost every thrust then pulling back to sink Louis’ fingers deeper into him. Louis is now pressing against his prostate with every thrust, just wanting to get Harry to the point of no return. He wants to taste Harry on his tongue again. He is dizzy with it and lack of oxygen. He moans around Harry’s shaft when Harry’s hips stiffen, his hot come filling Louis’ mouth a moment later. Louis tries to swallow every drop, but knows some has managed to make its way out of his mouth and onto his chin. He doesn't care.

“Where do you want to come?” Harry asks after a few seconds, turning his body so that his dick is no longer near Louis’ mouth. He watches with hooded eyes as Louis licks his lips, using a finger to smear the come off his chin then plops it into his mouth, sucking the salty substance off. Louis was so wrapped up in Harry’s pleasure, he almost forgets he hasn’t come yet. He is just confused by the question. It also dawns on him that Harry isn’t freaking out over coming first, like he would have a few months ago. Louis is so proud of how far he has come with his confidence he could cry, but Harry is looking at him expectantly. Right. What was the question again?

“What do you mean?” Louis asks, still not understanding the question. He just knows he suddenly feels empty without Harry’s fingers in him. He almost wishes they would have had sex, but Louis isn’t ready for that yet. He’s not ready to do that under Mark’s roof, where God can really judge him for his misdeeds. He would not only be sinning, but also breaking a commandment. He is pretty sure fucking a boy under his parent’s roof is the exact opposite of honoring them.

“Since I didn’t get you anything for v-day, you can come anywhere on my body you want,” Harry responds, holding out his arms to emphasis his point. Louis’ eyes widen with realization as to what Harry is saying. Anywhere. Holy shit. Louis has imagined coming on every inch of Harry’s body. His pert ass. His long legs. His toned stomach. His broad chest. Most of all, though, Louis has imagined coming on one place in particular.

“Your face,” Louis responds before he can stop himself. He holds his breath, waiting for Harry’s reaction. Most guys don’t really like facials, and he is sure Harry has never had one, however, he desperately wants to do it.  Harry doesn’t seem to mind come though. In fact, Louis actually thinks he likes it. He has licked it off of Louis’ skin enough times to prove that. Maybe it’s not an outlandish idea.

“Okay. Where do you want me,” Harry says all in one breath, his eyes darker than before. Louis is so surprised by his quick response, his brain short circuits and his dick throbs painfully. He uses his strong legs to flip them over, wincing when the bed creaks under them. He reaches over to turn the lamp on the bedside table on, praying that no one will wake up and notice it because he really fucking wants to see this. Harry’s mouth is open in surprise, and Louis definitely wants to come on those red lips. Fuck.

“Lay there,” Louis tells him as he shimmies up Harry’s torso, finally coming to a stop on his broad chest. Louis’ dick is aligned with Harry’s lips, and he almost slides it inside, however, that would just distract him from his intentions. Louis then begins wanking himself right over Harry’s beautiful face. Fuck. He isn’t going to last long, especially with the fact that Harry is watching the movement of his hand with dark green eyes. Louis is surprised when Harry lifts up his hips, slipping two fingers into his already wet, loose hole easily. Louis bites his lip to suppress a moan and quickens his pace, gripping Harry’s tattooed bicep with his free hand. Holy fucking shit.  

“Oh my God, Harry. Right there. Please,” Louis begs, wanting to close his eyes but also wanting to keep them open because he is so fucking close to coming on Harry’s face, and he will probably die if he misses it. He presses his hips down on Harry’s fingers grinding slowly in contrast to how quickly his hand is moving over his shaft. Harry brings his other hand to clap over Louis’ mouth in order to keep him quiet, and Louis’ nods in thanks because he is getting ready to fucking scream. All of his senses are being assaulted by Harry. His smell. His face. His body. Everything.

Louis cries out, the sound muffled thanks to Harry’s hand, when the first spurt of come is released from his aching shaft and lands right across Harry’s full, red lips. The second hits his eyes, Harry closing them in time as the white substance lands on his eyelashes and cheeks. The sight is so incredibly obscene, Louis releases a third and final ribbon that lands in a vertical line from Harry’s cheek down to his sharp jaw. Louis thinks he would come again just from the sight alone if he wasn’t spent. Harry drops his hand, and Louis wants to take a picture of the beautiful boy below him. Then his tongue comes out to lick the come from his lips, and Louis decides a video would be a much better alternative. Instead, he just commits it to memory, knowing he is going to masturbate to this moment over and over again for the rest of his fucking life because Harry Styles is the definition of spank bank worthy.

“Shit. Hold on,” Louis says, reaching onto the floor and grabbing the first item of clothing he can find to wipe Harry’s face off with. He almost doesn't want to. It’s like erasing art. How would Leonardo Da Vinci have felt if someone threw water on the Mona Lisa? Louis hopes Harry will give him the opportunity to recreate it in the future. Many, many times. Or possibly on other body parts, maybe over his tattoo. Where the fuck did that thought come from? Louis hates tattoos. They are against God. Then again, so is having sex with a man.

“Cuddle?” Harry asks, once most of the come has been wiped off his face by Louis’ sure hands. He cracks his eyes open, peering up at Louis with a smile, and if Louis’ heart melts just a bit more, nobody has to know. Louis nods his head and shimmies back down Harry’s torso then, moving his body to lay on his side, his body touching Harry’s. Harry’s hand comes up to rest on his waist, and Louis thinks he could fall asleep. He shouldn’t. Harry should leave, or they may get caught. Harry can leave in a little bit though because Louis is comfortable.

“Good night, Lou,” Harry says, shutting off the bedside lamp and kissing Louis’ eyelids. Harry then maneuvers their bodies enough to cover them up with Louis’ thick blanket. Thank God because Louis was starting to shiver from the sweat drying on his skin. He sighs happily, feeling warm and safe in Harry’s arms.

“Good night, my Hazza,” Louis responds tiredly. He should probably remind Harry to leave in a little bit. He should probably tell him what time his alarm is going off for school the next morning, but he doesn’t. He lets his body settle deeper into Harry’s side, concentrating on the way Harry’s long finger is now stroking his spine as his breathing begins to even out. Louis is surprised to hear Harry’s voice, but tries to keep his breathing even, wanting to hear whatever Harry is about to say even though his heart feels like it is frozen.

“I’ve got scars, even though they can’t always be seen, but when I’m with you, I don’t feel a thing,” Harry whispers, and Louis is almost positive he wasn’t supposed to hear that. Harry probably thinks he is asleep, only wanting the walls to know his secret. Louis wants to cry, but he doesn’t. He has seen Harry’s scars. The physical ones at least, and he can’t even begin to understand the mental ones. He thinks Harry may let him in on those eventually, too. Instead of asking the question on the tip of his tongue, he allows the warm feeling to take over his chest again letting his mind fall asleep.

 

__________

 

“Louis! If you don’t come down right this second, you are going to be late for breakfast. Don’t make me come up there!” Louis hears Mark’s booming voice, startling him from his peaceful sleep. What the fuck? He is disoriented so it takes him a few moments to realizes he is in naked, in bed, beside a sleeping Harry. He rubs his eyes and squints at the clock. He thinks it reads 7:15 am, but he isn’t sure. The seven could be a fucking two for all he knows; his eyesight is so fucking bad. Then the words Mark just yelled sink in.

“Fuck!” He curses loudly, waking Harry up. He climbs over Harry’s naked body, hearing a small ‘harumph’ as he does so and scrambles into the bathroom. He quickly brushes his teeth and puts in his contacts. It is definitely going to be a hat day because he has zero time for a shower now. When he comes back into the bedroom, Harry has sat up in the bed and is blinking sleepily at him. Louis allows himself a moment just to fondly smile at the boy. He looks so soft, Louis just wants to climb back in bed and cuddle him, but he can’t. If he doesn’t get down stairs, Mark is going to come barging through his door, and they are going to be fucked. Not in the fun way either.  

“I’ll be down in a second. Sorry, I overslept!” Louis yells, opening his door a crack so that the rest of his family can hear him. He doesn't give them time to respond before he shuts it again, turning back towards Harry who looks decidedly more awake and is looking on the floor for his discarded clothing. Louis goes into his closet to find something to wear. The options are limited, he needs to do laundry, so he grabs a white t-shirt with skinny red horizontal stripes and a blue zip up hoodie. He slips his legs into his jeans then walks out while putting the shirt on. Harry is looking at him in panic.

“My shirt from last night has come on it. I can’t wear it to school!” Harry exclaims in an alarmed whisper, glancing at the door then back at Louis. The direness of the situation must have sunk in as Harry woke up. Fuck. Louis thinks for a moment as Harry pulls on his jeans. Louis would watch, loving to see Harry wiggle into those ridiculously tight things, but he is too busy trying to think of a solution.

“Wear one of my shirts,” he says finally, the answer dawning on him. He may as well have a fucking light bulb over his head because the idea is fucking brilliant. He knows it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that solution, but it is far too early in the fucking morning. His brain isn’t functioning well as it is, so he thinks it is genius really, given the circumstances.

“What? Lou, you don’t even own anything black,” Harry says, as if the very idea of wearing anything other than black is preposterous. Louis is offended. Well, not really. Harry isn’t wrong. Louis has maybe one black shirt, and he is almost positive it is dirty and would be far too small on Harry. All of his clothes are going to be snug on Harry, but they don’t have much of a choice.

“Does that fucking matter?” Louis asks, wanting to yell. They don’t have time for this. “I thought you didn’t care what people think of you.”

“But, Lou, I haven’t worn anything preppy in fucking years,” Harry whines, and Louis is surprised he didn’t stomp his goddamned food. Louis would be amused and endeared if Mark wasn’t possibly halfway up the stairs at that very moment.

“Haz, are you going to tell me that you would rather wear a come stained shirt to school than something ‘preppy’ as you call it, out of my closet?” When Harry looks torn, Louis can’t believe it. “Seriously?!?” He whisper shouts.

“Fine. Give me a damn shirt,” Harry relents, pouting. It’s so fucking cute Louis wants to kiss him, but, at the same time, he also wants to punch him on the nose for being so fucking stubborn. Christ. How can he be both so infuriating that Louis could fucking strangle him, and so endearing Louis wants to hold him and never let go? Louis nods and goes into his closet. Finding the one thing left on a hanger that would probably fit Harry. It will still be small, but it will have to do.

“Here,” Louis says, throwing it at Harry. Harry surprisingly catches it with one hand. Maybe his reflexes are getting better.

“Light fucking blue? Seriously, Lou? I haven't worn light blue since I was like five,” Harry grumbles, holding the item up and pouting at Louis. Louis barely suppresses a smile, far too smug to see Harry have to walk around school wearing something that is almost very clearly his.

“At least it’s not my Hollister hoodie, plus light blue looks fabulous on you,” Louis responds with a shit eating grin. Harry rolls his eyes, pulling the shirt on. It is almost too small on him, fitting snugly around his shoulders and barely touching his jeans. Louis loves it.

“I don’t even have a hoodie to wear over it,” Harry complains, pulling a gray beanie over is his curls at the same time Louis pulls one of the same color on his head.

“Why didn’t you wear a hoodie last night?” Louis asks, brows creased in concern. He didn’t ask last night, but now his curiosity has gotten the better of him. It wasn’t super cold outside, but it is still the middle of February which is in the winter. He remembers Harry’s hands being cold when he came through the window, but otherwise, he seemed fine. Harry just shrugs in response, pushing his hands into his pockets, but Louis looks at him, waiting for an answer.

“I wasn’t really cold last night,” Harry answers, and Louis thinks there is more to it than that, but he doesn't have time to get it out of Harry. He may never know, but if it was all that important, Harry would tell him. It wasn’t really that cold outside, but most people in the south would think it is. Louis is okay just wearing a hoodie, having grown up in many different areas with different weather.

“Louis! You have five seconds!” Mark yells, and Louis feels like he is going to be sick. He grabs his backpack from the side of the bed, stuffing the jersey he gifted to Harry in it before zipping it up, figuring he would just give to Harry before the end of the day. Heaven forbid Harry ever carry a backpack.

“Meet me by the car in ten. Be quiet,” Louis says, as Harry stops and ties the white strings of his hoodie in a bow with nimble fingers. Louis lets him, even though his hoodie isn’t even zipped, and it probably looks strange. He shoots Harry one last smile before he leaves his room, quickly going down the stairs.

“I’m so sorry. My alarm didn’t go off for whatever reason,” Louis apologizes as soon as he gets into the kitchen. Mark looks angry while the rest of his family have already started eating.

“Pathetic excuse. Your mother worked hard on cooking you breakfast, meanwhile your tardiness has rendered it cold, and you missed prayer,” Mark says, and Louis barely suppresses an eyeroll. It is one fucking breakfast. It’s not like he kicked a puppy or murdered anyone. He literally just overslept, yet he is treated like it is the end of the fucking world. Louis sits down at the table and eats quickly and quietly, an awkward silence settling into the room. He makes two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, eating one then sneaking the other in a napkin under the table for Harry.

“I’ve gotta get to school,” Louis says once he is finished, standing from the table and stuffing the pilfered food in his hoodie pocket. He doesn’t even spare Mark a glance as he kisses his mom on the cheek and his youngest sisters on top of the head. He pats Fizzy and Lottie on the shoulder, then leaves the room, feeling like he can breathe again. When he gets outside, he sees Harry standing behind a tree near his car, waiting on him. Louis glances behind him to make sure no one is looking out the window before he unlocks his car with the key fob and waves Harry over, smiling at the shirt on Harry’s torso. He can’t help it. He fucking loves it.

“Here. Grabbed you something,” Louis says, handing the food to Harry once they are sat in the car. Harry appears surprised, looking down at his hand with wide eyes, his mouth in the shape of an ‘o’.

“You didn’t have to. I would have been fine without. I hardly ever eat anything before lunch except maybe the occasional piece of fruit if we have any,” Harry tells him, which kind of hurts Louis’ heart. Their living situation has gotten better since Harry began working and Robin came into their lives, but it still isn’t the best. At least the bills are seeming to be paid on time, and they have more food in the house. Louis still hates that Harry had to do without for so long that it became normal to him.

“Course I did. I couldn’t forget about you,” Louis says, watching Harry take a bite of the sandwich as he turns the key in the ignition, the car coming to life. Harry is supposed to be taking his permit test next week, and Louis is looking forward to teaching him how to drive.

“Do you have to pick up Liam?” Harry asks around a mouth full of food, and Louis backs out of the driveway. His slightly greasy fingers fiddle with the knob on the stereo, finding a radio station he likes. Rock music begins playing softly in the background, and Louis isn’t surprised. That reminds him.

“Nope. He is taking the bus because he wants to see Cordelia again. I guess they did something for V-day, but I’m not sure. Anyways, I need to ask you a favor,” Louis hedges, changing the subject.

“Sure. What is it?” Harry asks, finishing his sandwich and looking out the window.

“Can you make me a Spotify playlist of the songs I should expect to hear at the concert? I don’t want to be that person who just goes and doesn’t know any of the music,” Louis says, feeling kind of embarrassed for asking, even though he already joked about it when Harry was gifted the tickets. He knows he has heard some of it. He has been listening to music with Harry on more than one occasion and the bands they are going to see are among his favorite.

“Yeah of course. Already told you I would, and I meant that. I will work on it this weekend and text you a link when it’s done,” Harry says, smiling brightly as if Louis has given him a present. Louis shakes his head and pulls into a parking spot, putting the vehicle in park. They walk into the building together, only gaining a few stares and whispers. Probably from Harry’s outfit, never seeing him in anything other than dark shades. They could be talking about their friendship, but at this point, the entire school knows they are friends, especially after what happened with Travis and his cronies. Louis doesn't even know why people bother talking anymore because it is old news. They get there right when the first bell rings, signaling that class is about to begin. They walk into class together, Louis following Harry to the Baritone section even though that isn’t his seat.

“That’s an interesting shirt, Haz. And where is your hoodie? It’s colder than a witch’s tit out there,” Niall says, and what the fuck? Colder than who’s tit? A witch? This isn’t fucking Halloween, and why on Earth would a witch’s tit be cold? Didn’t Harry say that witches look like everyone else? Is there a way to tell if a person is a witch to feel one of their breasts to see if it is cooler than the rest of their body? Louis will never ever understand these southern idioms, and he isn’t even sure he wants to because Louis isn’t going to be feeling anyone’s breast anytime soon, thank you very much.

“Yeah. It’s from like middle school. I haven’t had a chance to do laundry,” Harry lies, but Louis can see the faint blush on his cheeks. Niall is looking between them grinning like a loon, while Liam looks suspicious. Fuck.

 

___________

 

“I got my permit!” Harry exclaims into the receiver right as Louis picks up the phone. He just finished at the DMV, Robin taking him to try for his permit since his mom is working. He can’t believe he passed it on the first try, and glances over to see Robin smiling at his happiness. Once he finished the test, and was told he passed, Robin clapped him on the shoulder congratulating him immediately. He was itching to call Louis right away, but somehow refrained until he got his picture taken and had the new permit in his hand.

Congrats, Hazza! I knew you could do it.

“Thanks for staying up late last night and helping me study from your book since I didn’t have my own,” Harry replies, glad that Louis’ book from two years ago still had correct information. They were up until 1 am, Louis quizzing him based on information from the book. Most of it was common sense, but he was still glad to have Louis’ help.

It was nothing, Haz. I’m so proud of you.

“Thanks,” Harry responds, blushing. Robin said the same thing when he announced it to him, texting Anne immediately. He then showed Harry her response, and Harry was surprised to see in big letters ‘I’M SO PROUD OF HIM’ with a crying emoji. Things have been slightly better between Harry and Anne recently, but he doesn’t want to believe things have changed forever. Maybe while Robin stays in the picture, and who knows how long that will last for. It’s the longest his mom has been with a guy since his dad left.

So what are you all doing now?

“We are meeting mom to go bowling. She just got off work. I guess we will get pizza there,” Harry responds barely stopping himself from rolling his eyes. He suppresses a smile, secretly excited to spend some time with his mom. He hopes it’s not a disaster, but Robin insisted that they do some ‘family bonding’ even though Robin isn’t really a part of their family. He doesn’t hate Robin, though. He can’t. He is too nice of a guy. Always asking Harry about his life and being supportive. He even hung one of Harry’s physics exams on the fridge because he earned an ‘A’ on it. Anne hasn’t even so much as asked about his grades in years, but she is making more of an effort. She even asked him the other day if he was planning to go to college like his sister. Harry was shocked to say the least.

Don’t act like you’re not excited.

Harry can hear the smile in Louis’ voice, and this time he doesn’t try to suppresses his own as he climbs into the passenger side of Robin’s jeep. He didn’t even ask to drive because he knows he isn’t ready for the road quite yet. “I am,” he admits, then changes the subject. “What are you doing?”

Getting ready to grab an early dinner with Liam and Niall. They told me to invite you, but I said you were busy with a family thing. You should have seen the look on Niall’s face. It was priceless. I’m surprised you didn’t tell him.

“Yeah. I forgot to tell him,” Harry says, and it isn’t a lie. Niall knows that Robin has been trying to bring Harry and Anne closer together, he just left out the details as to how. He just didn’t want Niall to get all excited for him, and it suddenly dawns on Harry that Louis is the first person he thinks of to tell news to, not Niall anymore. It was Louis he told about the ‘family night’, and Louis who he called as soon as he passed the test. Since when did Louis become a more important part of his life than Niall? Maybe not more important, but certainly something. Holy shit. Harry isn’t sure whether to feel guilty, or petrified, or happy. He is going to go with all of the above. He almost misses it when Louis speaks again.

Wanna do our first driving lesson next week?

“Yeah. I’d love to. Robin also said he would teach me, and I guess mom offered. So between the three of you, I should have my licence in no time,” Harry says, glancing over at Robin who smiles when he hears his name. It’s odd to Harry how just a few months ago, Robin was a complete stranger, and now he is starting to become a big part of his life. At first, Harry did everything he could to push him away, but, much like Louis, Robin persevered. He never pushed him too hard, just let him know that he was there. Harry has visited his house on more than one occasion and met his children from a previous marriage, Mike and Amy. Harry has decided, begrudgingly and only to Louis, that he likes Robin, but he still refuses to get attached.

That’s great, Haz. You’ll be a pro in no time. Oh, and thank Robin for me. He somehow convinced Mark to let me go with you all next month. I don’t know how he did it, but I am convinced he is a wizard.

“Fuck yeah!” Harry exclaims, excitement coursing through him at the news, glancing over to Robin with his choice of language. Robin doesn’t seem to care though. Harry has heard Robin cuss on more than one occasion, and Harry knows he is not the hypocritical type, thank the gods. “You’ve been reading too much Harry Potter,” Harry adds with a smile.

The Goblet of Fire killed me. I don’t know if I can mentally handle to Order of the Phoenix, but guess what I started reading last night?

Harry can hear the smile in his tone, and it gives him butterflies and makes his chest feel too tight. “The Order of the Phoenix.” It’s not really a guess. He knows Louis couldn’t resist picking it up when Harry gave it to him at school yesterday. He is addicted to the story. Harry told him once he finishes with them, he can take the sorting quiz on Pottermore because then he will be a true Potterhead. Louis is far too excited, convinced he will be in Gryffindor. Harry doesn’t have the heart to tell him he thinks he will be a Slytherin.

Yup. I swear to God, Harold, if this makes me cry like the last one, I am never trusting your presents or book recommendations again.

“That’s simply not true,” Harry responds laughing at Louis’ threat. He laughs harder when he remembers Louis texting him at exactly 2:07 am a string of crying emojis. It scared Harry at first, thinking something was actually wrong, but it turned out Louis had just finished The Goblet of Fire and was a mess. He spent the next half hour consoling Louis about the death of a fictional character, barely able to stop himself from telling him what happens next.

You’re probably right. Well, I’ve gotta go, or I am going to be late. Want me to tell Ni the good news?

“Nah, I’ll text him. Don’t want him to get too jealous that I told you first even though he is my best friend,” Harry says, insinuating that Louis is more than his best friend. He is, though, isn’t he? He thinks of Louis as so much more than that, but he doesn’t know if Louis feels the same way. He then begins to panic with the realization that statement may sound weird to Robin. He glances over at him, but Robin seems to either be not be paying attention or pretending to not pay attention. Either way, he doesn't look shocked or outraged.

Alright. Text me with how things are going. Don’t be nervous. I have a feeling it will go great. I’ll talk to you later and congrats again.

“Thanks, Lou, and I will. Bye,” Harry says, smiling at the fact that Louis seems to still be able to read his mind even though there are miles between them currently. He taps the call end button just in time to see that the bowling alley is straight ahead.

“Sorry about that,” Harry apologizes shyly, realizing it may have been rude to be on the phone that long when in the car with Robin. He looks down at his phone, sending a quick text to Niall with the news.

“No need to apologize. Louis is a great guy. Your mother and I like him a lot. He’s good for you,” Robin responds, his smile wide, and Harry isn’t sure what that means. He’s good for him? Isn’t that what people say about significant others, not just friends? Maybe Harry is looking too far into it. Robin probably didn’t mean that at all. He is distracted when his phone vibrates. He looks to see a gif of a dog driving a car, badly, with a string of seemingly random emojis below it. Harry laughs and puts his phone in his pocket, wanting to try to stay off it while he is with his family.

“He wanted me to thank you for convincing Mark to let him go,” Harry says, looking at Robin.

“It was nothing,” Robin replies, waving him off. It wasn’t nothing though. Mark is an dick on the best of days. How on Earth did Robin convince him?

“What did you tell him?” Harry asks, curiously. He would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. He’s not even sure how Robin got a hold of him. Did he call him or did he go over to his house? Harry wants to know, but at the same time that would feel as though he is invested in Robin. He refuses because there is still a chance Robin will see how fucked up his family is and leave.

“That we are going to a Biblical Museum, and that you boys would be with me the whole time. Took a bit more convincing than I thought. Mark is a bit of an asshole, however, Jay was on my side, so that helped,” Robin tells him, pulling into a parking spot.  

“Well, Louis is convinced you’re a wizard,” Harry remarks, opening the door to the cab and getting out. Maybe Louis is right. Maybe Robin is a wizard, and they haven't figured it out yet. Picturing Robin with a long beard, in robes and half moon spectacles it quiet hilarious though, and Harry has to bite back a smile.

“Just call me Dumbledore,” Robin responds, opening the door to the bowling alley then following Harry inside. Harry laughs because that sounds like something Louis would say and exactly what he was just picturing. They find Anne quickly. It seems she had time to go home and change into a long sleeved cream colored shirt. Her hair is down, and she looks happy.

“Congratulations, Harry,” she exclaims as soon as she sees him, wide smile on her face. She then comes over to him and Robin, smile still firmly in place. She opens her arms slowly, and Harry thinks she is going to Robin, but instead she tentatively wraps them around him as if she is unsure that he will accept the hug. He is unsure as well and extremely shocked by the action. He doesn't really remember the last time his mom hugged him, so he isn’t sure how to react, but her arms are definitely around his waist, her head hesitantly dropping to his chest. The last time he hugged her, they were the same height, now he is towering over her.

“Thanks,” Harry responds, voice wavering just a bit. He finally wraps one arm around her, not wanting to fully go there yet, but at least she is trying. She is as warm as he remembers and smells exactly the same. He didn’t realize how much he missed her touch until it was back again. He doesn’t want to get too attached though, convinced it will go back to the way it was, so he just soaks up what he gets for now.

“Take a picture of me with my licenced son,” She tells Robin, breaking their embrace. She hands Robin her phone, and he takes a step back, aiming the camera at them.  

“It’s just a permit,” Harry responds cheeks heating with her words, but she just pushes him so that they are side by side. She wraps both arms around his waist, so he rests his hand on hers, leaning down so his cheek is touching the top of her head. Robin snaps a few, smiling at them. It’s weird. His mom has been getting a bit more touchy with him lately, gripping him on the shoulder or squeezing his arm, but he wasn’t expecting her to hug him or want a picture of them together. Maybe she really is trying to change. Maybe he should, too. He just can’t help being wary after everything that has happened. It’s hard to forget when your parent has basically ignored your existence for the last four years.

He had almost forgotten that they used to go bowling together a lot when he was younger. His mom even taught him how. It is just easy to suppress the good memories when there are so many shitty ones now. It reminds him of how his mom used to be before he fucked everything up. She used to vibrant and smiling. He gets a glimpse of that today, and he realizes he missed it. His chest aches with it, wanting to see her like that more often. Harry is learning to be happy again because of Louis. Maybe Robin is doing the same thing for his Mom. They can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, but for now it’s okay. He doesn’t think they will ever have the kind of relationship they used to have, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone grows up. Maybe she just wants to be a part of his life now. Who he is now, and maybe he should let her try. Let her in again.

They spend the next hour and a half bowling and eating far too much pizza. Anne wins the first and second round, and Harry wins the third. Robin takes the losses smiling and laughing. Harry texts Louis throughout the first hour, but Louis stopped responding after his last text. He is a bit concerned; they usually text when they aren’t in school however he figures Louis is just having fun with Niall and Liam. He wishes he could have gone and is surprised by that thought. Harry has never wished to go to a social function, but he will admit, begrudgingly of course, that he does enjoy hanging out with Niall and even Laim now. Ever since Liam stood up for him at school, things haven't been as tense between them. He definitely trusts him more because Liam didn’t have to do that. Harry’s blood runs cold when he looks down at his phone then, to find an urgent text from Louis lighting up his screen.

 

____________

 

“So I am convinced that Bigfoot lives in the woods behind my house,” Niall continues his story, his accent thick with his laughter, barely able to contain it to get the tale out. Louis is laughing more at Niall than the actual story, while Liam is just smiling, his brown eyes twinkling in the low light of the diner. “So I get Harry to agree to go on a Bigfoot hunt with me even though he is skeptical of his existence. Typical Harry.” Niall rolls his eyes fondly.

“Typical,” Louis agrees, then adds, “It’s hard to believe some of these stories you are giving us about Haz.”  It is hard to imagine Harry being a kid just like he was, exploring the woods with Niall. He seemed to have been a bit free spirited, having fun like any normal boy or girl their age would have.

“I know! But I swear on my momma’s life that they are true. Anyways, I go into my house to grab the poker from our old wood burnin’ stove for protection. We didn’t use it no more since we got central heat, so I don’t know what the fuck I was thinkin’. I guess in our nine-year-old brains, a poker would be a good a  weapon as any to battle a giant fuckin’ ape man.” Niall uses his hands to gesture how big, prompting Louis to giggle. He fucking loves Niall. Louis doesn't know what a ‘stove’ is, however, he would guess it is sort of like a fireplace, given that it uses a poker, and he mentioned central heating.

“Okay. Did you find him?” Liam asks, seemingly intrigued now.

“‘Course not,” Niall scoffs with another wide smile. “We did, however, see a tree that we thought sorta kinda