It was warm. Sunlight trickled in where Louis hadn’t quite shut the curtains. Harry could already tell it was going to be too bright, his eyelids were painted red.
Outside, birds were chirping somewhere in the distance. Wind was blowing through trees. Closer, up near his ear, was the sound of quiet breaths. In and out. Slow but sure.
Harry felt a shifting against his side, a moving away. And then the warmth was gone.
He rolled towards it. Lazily threw out an arm to catch it.
He caught Louis’ shoulder.
His skin was hot, he was always running warmer than Harry. It was nice.
So Harry pulled him back towards himself.
Louis moved with a lazy, cosy moan. The sort of sound a kitten would make to say hello.
“Morning,” Harry grumbled. His voice was tacky, muffled against the pillow.
Louis reached an arm back and half-heartedly pulled Harry closer, right up against his back. It was a quiet acknowledgement — half of me is asleep, but the other half is here with you .
Harry kissed the back of Louis’ head.
They lay like that, both facing away from the window, for a good while. Until Harry woke enough to rub circles into Louis’ hip. He was naked under the sheets. They both were. It meant that Louis’ warmth was almost too sharp against Harry’s skin, like coffee on a cold day.
Harry blinked his eyes open and let the sun settle into them, let Louis’ shoulder come into focus.
And then he stayed like that for a good while too, watching Louis’ chest rise and fall as he rubbed his hip and breathed in his smell.
Louis smelled like summer. Like the summer they’d just spent together, like the long afternoons after Harry left his shift at the cafe or the longer nights after parties finally ended. He smelled like the salt left across skin when Harry was finished kissing him and discovering him.
He smelled like Harry wanting to take him home to his family.
But his mum was coming up in a fortnight to see Harry in his too-small flat, with his too many flat mates, to see that he was doing okay. And because they missed each other. It was his first summer he’d not gone home from university to spend christmas with his family.
So Harry could wait till then. He just needed to ask Louis.
“Hey, Lou,” he mumbled, voice still thick with the morning.
Louis hummed and rolled further onto his back, looked lazily up at Harry.
“My mum’s coming up next week,” Harry replied, shifting up onto his elbow so he could talk properly, rest a hand on Louis’ chest. “Would you wanna meet her?”
Louis gave a small smile and nodded. Maybe it was because he was still so sleepy, but Harry couldn’t help noticing something irresolute at the corner of Louis’ mouth. It looked more like he was saying I guess than I will .
“You don’t have to, it’s fine if you don’t want to. Sorry, I—"
“No, no,” Louis smiled, properly, reassuringly, this time. “That’d be nice.”
“Are you sure? It’s only been four months, it’s okay.”
”Haz,” Louis took Harry’s chin between his fingers. “When I nod, it means yes.”
Harry wanted to believe him, but even within those four months he’d started to pick up on the little things that Louis’ accidentally said without words. The quirk of an eyebrow when someone they didn’t know well enough to call out made an untoward comment, or the tighter grip on his hand when they walked past the wrong group of people. Louis held so much to himself, was quiet till he was ready, and Harry had seen that the most out of everyone now. He’d heard the quiet worries Louis finally whispered after they’d finished exams and driven up to spend the weekend camped out at Harry’s family bach — a small holiday home on the edge of Omaha Beach. He’d seen Louis cry at the end of Short Term 12 , and held his hand in silence until Louis gave one of his small little smiles and said they should go to bed.
Harry had seen Louis slowly come more and more out of his shell, had seen his bitten lips become smiles, and heard his giggles become bellows.
Harry was learning, and he was learning that Louis had little tells. He could recognize the lines at the edge of his eyes and what each one meant.
And he didn’t necessarily believe it when Louis said that his nod meant yes, that he wanted to meet his mum already.
But he’d also started to learn that Louis needed to be believed, and he’d explain what he was really feeling later on, when Louis wouldn’t go back to his own flat for the ninth night in a row, and they’d crawl into bed that night, probably. Or tomorrow, when Harry would wake him up with gentle kisses and a more gentle reminder that Louis could tell him anything.
So Harry just gave Louis a smile back, and then looked down at his hand on Louis’ chest. He kissed him between where his thumb and his finger lay. And then he kissed him again a little lower down, and then again. And again. And Louis’ smile would grow with each little kiss and Harry definitely liked this.
He liked that in his third year of university, he’d met someone so beautiful. So ready to give him love. So ready to spend every summer night with him until class started again.
So ready that they fell into each other’s lives and never really felt the need to come up for air.
Louis’ body, lying under Harry, was so gorgeous. So slight, but curvaceous. He had some hairs on his chest, but only enough that they could have just looked like the scratches Harry left on his hips. He had the shadow of a tan line around his arms, where his arms went from gold to olive, but his skin was still so smooth.
Harry reminded him of these things he liked so much all the time. And he did it again right now, kissing down his stomach.
“You look gorgeous in this light.”
The sun cast white light across Louis’ brow, made his eyes bright and wet and sparkly. Made the shadow of hair he could grow above his lip glint warm tones of brown, like honey.
The hair below his belly button was the same, barely there and shiny. Glinting at Harry like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
He wanted to follow that trail.
Louis pulled him up by the chin and kissed him instead. Soft and slow, the faint stubble on his lip brushing up against Harry’s baby-soft face.
“Promise me something,” Louis whispered when he finally pulled away.
Harry nodded, and made sure his face agreed with him.
“You won’t ever judge me.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to make of that, wasn’t sure what made Louis think about that either. Not when he was too busy kissing his body and telling him he was perfect.
So again, Harry just nodded. And he kissed his agreement into Louis’ mouth. And then he kept kissing Louis as the sun shone through the window, and Harry clasped each of Louis’ fingers between each of his.
Harry hoped that Louis could taste the honesty on his lips, could feel the reassurance in his grip. He wouldn’t judge him for anything.
Not now. Not ever.