Actions

Work Header

I Get To Love You

Chapter Text

EBO5-Bi-OX4-AESJl-A-1

Prologue

It was hot inside the club, and worse inside the cramped bathroom. Louis could feel beads of sweat trickling down his back under the black cotton of his t-shirt, but he ignored that, focusing only on the man’s lips sucking at his neck, his big hand cupping and rubbing Louis’ hardening cock as he worked a love bite into his skin. Louis groaned, throwing his head back, ignoring the dull thrum of pain in his skull as he did so.

“Fuck- I don’t- do you wanna go back to mine?”

The stranger - H, he’d called himself when Louis had asked for a name a few minutes ago during some rather dirty grinding on the dancefloor - nodded, pulling away and admiring the mark he’d made for a moment before he reached down, adjusting himself. Louis’ eyes followed the movement of his hand, and he smirked at the fact H was as aroused as he was himself. Louis reached out and took his hand, dragging him out of the bathroom, pushing his way through the crowd.

The door opened with a shove, and Louis tumbled out onto the pavement, moaning as H grabbed him, pressing him against the wall outside and kissing him deeply for a moment before catching himself, standing upright and smirking down at Louis. Louis straightened out his t-shirt and walked as steadily as he could towards the taxi rank, bending down to an open window. He muttered his address and the driver nodded. Louis held open the back door and watched as H crawled inside, ogling his bum as he did so.

It didn't take long for H to pounce on Louis again, dragging him into a passionate kiss right there in the backseat of the cab. The roads back to Louis’ flat were fairly dark thank god, but Louis couldn’t bring himself to care too much thanks to the levels of horniness he was feeling. He palmed himself as H’s tongue dipped into his mouth again, tasting the fruity drink he’d been gulping earlier at the bar when Louis had spotted him, stood all alone, watching the swaying bodies around him. Louis’d had a burst of confidence thanks to the Vodka RedBulls he’d been sinking, and grabbed H by the belt loop, tugging him onto the dance floor. It hadn’t taken long for the taller man to dance back, soon turning around in Louis’ hold, grinding his bum against Louis’ interested crotch.

“Shit, we’re here,” Louis groaned, adjusting himself again as H got out of one side of the cab. Louis reached into his pocket to grab his wallet, but H had got there first, chucking a twenty at the driver as he pulled open Louis’ door, yanking him out a little ungracefully. Louis just giggled and ran up the path, H hot on his heels. “Keen, aren’t you?”

“Keen for your cock,” H purred, kissing up the side of Louis’ neck as he fumbled with the key, missing the lock each time. Louis took a deep breath, focusing hard as he pushed the bronze key forward, biting back a cheer as it slid in, the door swinging open at last. Louis walked in first and H followed, the flat dark which Louis was grateful for. H was up behind him just as Louis shut the door, and he was turned around, H patting his leg.  “Jump up. Lemme carry you to bed.”

Louis did as he was told, arms around H’s neck as he kissed him again, not able to get enough of how well H kissed, how good his full lips felt against Louis’ own, how his legs easily wrapped around H’s slender waist.

“Down the hall, second door on the left,” Louis mumbled as they kept kissing, stumbling drunkenly down the hallway. Finally, they made it to Louis’ room, and he was eternally grateful for his foresight of making the bed before he’d left for the night. The room was still a mess, but at least the bed looked a bit presentable. H didn't seem bothered as he practically threw Louis down onto it, quickly straddling his thighs, pressing Louis down into the mattress. “Fucking hell…”

“You wanna fuck or get fucked?” H asked, and Louis practically came at those words. He arched his hips just as H ground down, making both men hiss at the friction against their restricted cocks. “Lou?”

“Wanna get inside you,” Louis mumbled, reaching up to try and open some of H’s shirt buttons. “You’ve got too many clothes on. Get naked.”

H giggled and stood up, tugging his clothes off as Louis did the same, both of them nude within a few seconds. Louis took a moment to ogle H’s body, his tattoos, the planes of toned, firm skin in front of him. It didn't take long for him to pull the other man down on top of him, neither holding back their noises as their bare cocks met for the first time. Louis could feel that H was already wet, his precome smearing down Louis’ shaft as they rocked their hips, lips desperately seeking out each other’s.

“Lube,” H panted out and Louis quickly nodded, rolling over enough he could grab the bottle from where he knew he’d let it roll under his bed the previous night when he’d had some solo fun with his favourite vibrator. He flicked open the cap, but H shook his head, snatching the bottle and drizzling some onto the first couple of fingers on his right hand. Louis watched, wide eyed as the man on top of him reached behind his body, eyes fluttering shut as he inserted his first finger, slowly grinding down on it.

“Shit, you’re so fucking hot,” Louis mumbled, hand stretching out to take H’s thick cock in his hand, stroking steadily and slowly, not wanting him to come just yet. Louis felt like he was losing his mind with the visuals in front of him, but he willed himself to calm down as H began to bounce himself on his own fingers, his cock bobbing gently in Louis’ hand as he did so. “Fuck, H, need to fuck you-”

“Almost ready,” H murmured, concentrating solely on opening himself up by now. Louis watched as H drew his bottom lip between his teeth, his cheeks pink now, and Louis thought he’d never seen a more beautiful sight. H’s body was long and lean, tattoos at his hips standing out on his pale, soft skin that Louis just wanted to mark up and touch with every part of his body. It seemed H was finally ready as he withdrew his fingers, wiping them down on the sheet before he got onto his knees, hovering about Louis’ cock, smirking down at the man between his thighs.

“No condom?” Louis asked, and H just shook his head, the long hair on top of his head flopping down over his eyes for a moment until he shoved it back up in one incredibly sexy motion that had Louis sighing again. “Sure?”

“Yeah, just pull out before you come, yeah? Makes it easier for clean up.”

Louis nodded, and held his breath as H’s hand grasped the base of his cock, holding it steady as he slowly lowered himself down, his thick thighs supporting him. Louis gripped the sheet as he felt the head of his cock enveloped by H’s body, the warm and tight heat a rush of pleasure from head to toe. H didn't go slowly by any means. Before Louis knew it, H’s bum was against his hips, his cock buried deep inside the man on top of him.

“Holy shit, you’re tight.”

“S’been a while,” H stuttered out, his palms coming to rest on Louis’ hips now as he started to move slowly, rotating his hips, letting his body stretch around Louis. It felt amazing, having the weight of this handsome stranger on top of him, and Louis tentatively reached out, his hands connecting with H’s strong thighs before he met his eyes, checking it was okay. Clearly it was because H just smiled and lifted himself up gingerly before he slammed back down, letting out a throaty moan. “Fuck-”

“Take my cock so good, baby,” Louis murmured, digging his fingertips into H’s flesh for a moment. The room was quiet as H started to work himself up and down Louis’ cock with a finesse Louis wasn’t sure he’d ever seen before, and it was certainly a sight to behold. H’s body arched beautiful as he rode Louis’ cock, his own cock dripping between his legs, leaving a trail of precome over Louis’ flat stomach. “So good for me-”

H seemed to take those as words of encouragement because he moaned, starting to bounce harder and faster. Louis just laid and watched, enjoying the show that H was putting on. He almost came when H moved his palms from Louis’ chest back to his thighs, putting himself entirely on display. Louis thought for a moment that it might well be the dirtiest sex he’d ever had, and he was loving every second of it.

Soon, he sensed H was tiring, wincing slightly as he lifted himself up, and Louis decided to do something about it. When H rose, Louis slipped entirely out of his body, making H’s eyes fly open, meeting Louis’ in confusion. Louis quickly shook his head, grabbing H by the hips and guiding him to the bed.

“Not yet, love. Just let me take over, yeah? Hands and knees, babe-”

H just nodded, sweaty and flushed from his exertions, and Louis tugged on his own cock as he watched H get into position, baring himself for Louis again. His ass was one of the best things Louis had ever seen, and he groaned, lining himself up. His hole was stretched already, and Louis just watched intently as he sank back inside him, mesmerised by the sight. H groaned loudly as Louis bottomed out, the pair connected again. Louis withdrew before he plunged back in, his hips making a pleasing slapping sound against H’s bare backside, the jiggle of his flesh enticing, and Louis reached out, grabbing a cheek for a moment.

“Harder,” H grunted, his head hung between his arms, the curve of his spine so beautiful Louis just wanted to trail his tongue from the top of it to the bottom. “Fuck me, want it hard-”

“Yeah, gonna give you what you need,” Louis agreed, not holding back as he started to pound away at H, the room filled with the sounds of their pants and moans, neither bothering to keep quiet. Louis’ hands gripped at H’s slim hips as their bodies moved together in a fast and dirty rhythm, sending Louis hurtling closer to his orgasm quicker than he anticipated. One of H’s hands was tucked under his body, no doubt touching his own cock, and Louis just wished he could see, sure it would push him over the edge. “Fuck, I’m close-”

“Come on my arse,” H begged, pushing back against Louis for a moment. “Please-”

Louis didn't speak his agreement but just thrust his cock harder into H, angling it until H practically screamed, Louis smirking as his cock pushed into H’s prostate over and over, his hole clenching around Louis’ cock.

“Oh fuck-” Louis gasped, sensing his orgasm starting to roll over him in waves. H’s body felt so good around him, and Louis felt his cock start to pulse out just as he pulled out, aiming so he covered H’s arse in his release. Louis’ body was shaking as he watched strings of come land on H’s skin, one sliding down his thigh as H moaned loudly, clearly coming himself now. Louis noticed a small puddle of come just beside H’s hole and swiped his finger through it, making H moan with sensitivity. “You okay?”

H nodded and rolled down onto his back, flinging an arm across his eyes, entirely spent. Louis smirked at the sight of H’s cock covered in his own come, the hair around the base coated as well. It wasn’t usually a sight Louis paid much attention to, but right now, H looked like a god laid there on Louis’ sheets, sweaty and sated from their sex.

“That was… wow. I needed that so much,” H mumbled, clearly tired. Louis leaned down and brushed his lips against H’s, pleased when H’s hand wrapped around the back of his neck, holding him down as they kissed again, Louis’ body still feeling butterflies from such a simple touch, despite what they’d just done. “Love kissing you…”

“Same,” Louis said, unable to stop the smile crossing his lips. “Lemme clean you up, then we can sleep. I mean, I don’t want to assume-”

“Couldn’t move if I wanted to,” H said, his voice husky with sleep now. Louis kissed him quickly one more time before he got to his knees, grimacing at the sight of his bedsheets covered in come, especially since H was on his back, his come-covered backside right against Louis’ sheets. He walked naked through to the bathroom, dampening a flannel with warm water before he returned to the bedroom, wiping a sleepy H down, the man in his bed nearly asleep.

“Want me to change the sheets?”

H just shook his head, and Louis flung the flannel onto the bedside table, getting into bed next to H, who wasted no time in rolling against Louis’ body, his thigh coming across Louis’, soft cock laying against Louis’ hip. It felt more intimate for a one night stand than Louis cared to admit to, but he felt too tired to be bothered. If H was happy, so was he.

“Night, H,” he whispered, getting nothing in reply. He craned his neck back, getting a glimpse of H’s face, lips parted as he breathed in and out in a steady rhythm, already sound asleep. Louis smiled and pressed a quick kiss to the man’s forehead, letting himself fall asleep too.

*****

Six hours later, Louis was rudely awoken with the shrill bleeping of his alarm clock. He groaned as he sat up, his head pounding, and he pushed down the wave of nausea which washed over him. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself not to be sick, not when he had a shift later that day. After a few moments, snippets from last night started to flash through Louis’ mind, and he remembered bringing the tall, dark and handsome stranger home and indulging in some pretty filthy sex with him. Louis smirked at the memory, but when he saw the bed next to him was empty, he frowned.

“H?” Louis called out, getting no reply. He reached across, finding the sheets were cool, clearly vacated a while ago. Louis dragged himself out of bed and grabbed some boxers from his drawer before he padded through the flat, seeing no sign of his flatmate Niall, but none of H either. As much as Louis knew it was just a one night stand, he felt a bit disappointed.

He was about to reach into the fridge for some juice when he saw a pink scrap of paper pinned on there with the fridge magnet Niall have given him for a moving in present, proudly proclaiming “ You’re gayer than Kylie riding a pink unicorn through Disneyland at Christmas ”. It was one of Louis’ most treasured possessions. Louis stepped over, blinking to clear his vision before he read the words in an unfamiliar scrawl.

Lou,

Thank you for an amazing night. Best night I’ve had in a long time, I promise. Sorry to dash, but I had an ungodly 7am meeting. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to leave you in bed. I did kiss you goodbye…

H xx

P.S. Love the magnet.

Louis smiled to himself, clutching the note to his chest for a moment before he walked back to his bedroom, tucking it in the top drawer of his bedside table, kicking the bottle of lube under the bed again as he did so. He quickly stripped the sheets before he laid back on the bed, resting his head on the pillow H had used the night before. It still held his scent, and Louis would deny sniffing it as he dozed off again until he was blue in the face if anyone asked. But he did, the smell of the night before bringing back a fresh wave of memories.

Chapter Text

Harry

Harry wiped his mouth off on the back of his hand, reaching out to flush the toilet. He felt disgusting, and stood up on shaky legs, running the tap until the water was chilled enough to sip from his cupped hands. He spat it back out again before he grabbed his toothbrush, making quick work of cleaning his teeth. It wasn’t the first time he’d been sick, but it didn't seem to get any better. The strange thing was that as soon as he’d been sick, Harry felt much better, and the wave of nausea was gone. Harry had an inkling of what was going on, but he kept trying to put it to the back of his mind, sure it wouldn’t happen to him. Not now, when he was finally in a good place workwise. He’d just pulled on his tank top when his phone buzzed again and he walked through to his bedroom wearing only his boxers, scratching at his tummy.

Liam: You’re nominated for the Emmy for In the Fall , that TV short you did last year. Well done, mate! Might want to tweet out and say something about it. How you feeling?

Harry smiled at the message from Liam, his friend and manager, and how much he cared about him, and not just in the sense of his career. Liam had been there since Harry had got his first acting job in Emmerdale when he was a young boy, and his career had quickly taken off when he was asked to take on a small role in a Hollywood movie that surprisingly hit the big time. Since then, he was in demand, and Harry felt lucky enough he got to pick and choose the roles he took now. Being nominated for an Emmy was an amazing feat, and already, Harry was imagining attending the ceremony next year, schmoozing with stars much more famous than he was, and he smiled to himself as he tapped out a reply.

Harry: Amazing news, I’m so pleased! Will sort out a tweet in a bit. I’m alright, still a bit poorly. Must have caught a bug from someone! You round later for drinks?

Liam: Definitely. I’ll bring a bottle. See you later, mate. Take care.

Harry switched off his phone, and pulled on some pyjama pants before he left them room and wandered over to the fridge, pulling open the door. His eyes raked over the contents, the salad wilting in the crisper at the bottom. He’d gone to make himself a healthy lunch the other day but the minute he’d cut open the avocado to add to his salad, he’d felt the urge to vomit and had barely made it to the loo before he’d thrown up again. Green tea was another thing he couldn’t stand anymore, and with a guilty feeling settling low in his belly, he reached for a can of full fat coke, something he would never normally touch and opened it quickly, the metal can cold under his fingertips. He took two large gulps and smiled to himself as the fizzy liquid made its way down his throat, hitting the spot.

He kicked the fridge shut and walked back through to the sitting room, plopping himself down heavily on his sofa as he reached for his iPad, inputting his pin code to get access to the device. He opened Netflix and kicked his feet up on the coffee table, his can of coke by his side, a half eaten bag of Doritos on the table that Harry was hungrily eyeing up now his sickness had passed. This was the opposite of how he usually behaved, but the idea of going for a run this morning made Harry’s bones ache. He opened the latest episode of Gossip Girl and settled back, enjoying the lives of Manhattan’s elite unfolding on the screen.

He was startled awake hours later by the shrill tone of his doorbell. Harry cursed and sat up, pulling at the waistband of his Gucci pyjama pants, hating that they were feeling uncomfortable and tight lately, but at the same time, he felt grateful he hadn’t managed to spill coke all over himself in his slumber, and chucked the now dead iPad to one side, dragging himself off the sofa. He looked through the peephole and smiled to himself at the sight of the man stood on the other side, and he opened the door.

“You know you have a key, right? That means you can get access to my flat without me letting you in,” he teased, accepting the bottle of wine from Liam with a grin. His best friend walked inside, kicking off his boots and hanging up his jacket before he followed Harry inside, watching his friend grab a few menus from the takeaway drawer. “Had a good day, Li?”

“Yeah, alright. Had quite a few newspapers and stuff calling for quotes from you about the Emmy nomination, so we’ll have to sort those out,” Liam replied, opening a bottle of beer that he’d grabbed from the fridge as Harry took out another can of coke. “Coke? Really, Haz? You hate that stuff. And why are you not dressed?”

“Am I not allowed a dress down day, Liam?” Harry mumbled, hoping his cheeks weren’t as red as they felt as he avoided meeting Liam’s eyes. “And yes, coke. I like it at the moment. Which takeaway d’you want? I’ll order when you decide.”

“Chinese?”

“Bleurgh,” Harry replied, making a face at the idea of it. “What about pizza?”

“Why ask me if you’ve already made your mind up? And you hate pizza, by the way, always moan about the grease,” Liam answered, rolling his eyes. “Just get the usual, then. Can I borrow your iPad for a tick while you sort that out?”

“Yeah, you know the pin,” Harry muttered, opening the app to order their dinner on his phone. While he waited for it to go through, he rinsed up a few dishes that were left in the sink from the night before, wondering when he became such a slob. Usually, he was fastidious about his home being clean, but lately, his priorities seem to have shifted towards sleeping, and eating complete crap. “You want any dips for the pizza, Li?”

There was no answer, so instead of walking through to see what Liam was up to, he yelled louder.

“LIAM? DIPS?”

“No, ta. Come here, would you?”

Harry frowned at the tone Liam was using and left the sponge in the sink, grabbing a tea towel as he left to dry his hands with. He stopped as he saw Liam glaring at him, the iPad now on charge and perched in his hands. He swallowed and felt butterflies flapping in his tummy, although he couldn’t pinpoint quite why he felt like that.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, and Liam just kept staring, his gaze unwavering.

“You want to tell me what this is about?” Liam said slowly, turning the iPad around so Harry could see the screen. For a second, Harry wanted to kick himself for being stupid enough not to close down his last few windows in Safari, the evidence of his recent google searches right there in front of him in black and white. “Pregnancy symptoms?”

“Um, research?” Harry said rather pathetically, knowing Liam knew he didn't have any sort of pregnancy movie coming up. “Shit-”

“Harry, are you pregnant?”

Instead of answering, Harry just squeaked and ran back to the kitchen, bending over the worktop and leaning his head on his forearms. His mind was swirling, his heart rapidly thudding in his chest, and it all felt too much. It was the first time he’d heard the word in relation to himself, and it didn't matter how many times he’d thought it about himself, this felt so different, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. A warm hand on his lower back brought Harry back to reality, and he sniffed, standing up straight and turning, the edge of the worktop digging in to his back as Liam’s hand found his shoulder.

“Mate, it’s me. You can tell me. Are you pregnant, Harry?”

“I don’t know,” Harry whispered, almost scared to voice the words. “I, uh, maybe?”

Liam was silent again, as if he was pondering something. Harry jumped when he stood up, grabbing his phone and shoving it in his pocket.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m going to buy you a test. It’s the only way we’ll know, Haz. Is that okay?”

Harry just nodded, trying frantically to swallow down the lump in his throat at Liam’s kind gesture. He’d put off heading out to buy a pregnancy test himself, knowing the papers would have a field day if supposedly straight actor Harry Styles was spotted buying such a thing, and rumours would then start flying about who he’d impregnated. It would never occur to them that it would be Harry who would be expecting a baby. 

Liam just gave him a short nod and headed out, leaving Harry alone. The doorbell rang about ten minutes after Liam had left, and Harry paid for the pizzas, setting them out on the table as he sipped at a glass of water, trying to down as much as he could so he could take the test. The door banged as Liam returned, a small carrier bag in his hands, and Harry felt sick at the sight of it. Somehow, that little thing within the bag had the potential to change the course of Harry’s life and he wasn’t quite sure how to deal with that information.

“Let’s eat, then you can take it,” Liam instructed, and Harry felt grateful the control was being taken away from him for now. Luckily, Liam changed the subject as they ate, talking about the Emmy awards, and how he’d scheduled a couple of radio interviews for the weekend for Harry, neither bothering to mention the fact that if Harry was indeed pregnant, there’d be no way he could fly out to L.A. to the awards. They just kept the topic light, discussing the other nominees, and what kind of chance they felt Harry actually had at winning.

Harry stood up when they’d eaten, flattening out the pizza boxes before he took them outside to the recycling bins, knowing full well he was putting off the inevitable. His bladder felt full, but he pushed that thought away, returning inside to tidy up, stacking their plates and glasses next to the sink. Just as he reached for the bottle of washing up liquid, Liam’s hand encircled his wrist, stilling Harry.

“Go and do it.”

“I don’t want to.”

“I don’t care. Now.” Liam thrust the carrier bag at Harry, who nervously removed the ClearBlue box from it, scanning the instructions. He pretty much knew what he was doing, but he was sure it didn't hurt to check now that so much rode on the small stick of plastic inside. “Pee on it, and come back here. Or do you want to look alone?”

Harry frantically shook his head at that, knowing he couldn’t handle revealing the result on his own. With shaking hands, Harry walked to the bathroom, concentrating hard as he made sure he peed on the stick, placing the cap on the end when he was done before he washed his hands. He picked up the stick by the end and walked back to Liam, nervously placing it on a piece of kitchen roll Liam had put on the coffee table.

“How long?”

“Three minutes,” Liam replied, glancing at his watch. Neither man spoke as the longest three minutes of Harry’s life ticked by, his stomach churning now. Somehow, he knew the answer already, and this was just going to be a confirmation of his thoughts. The idea of seeing it presented to him, that he was actually pregnant, was terrifying. Liam sighed, getting Harry’s attention back on him. “Okay, time’s up.”

“I can’t look,” Harry muttered, too scared. He sat on his hands, showing Liam his unwillingness to deal with this, and he felt grateful as Liam picked it up, the screen still face down so they couldn’t see. “Fucking hell, just tell me.”

In one swift motion, Liam flipped the stick and just wordlessly held it up to Harry’s face. The words ‘ Pregnant: 6 weeks ’ rang out brightly from the small digital screen, and were now imprinted into Harry’s mind forever. Harry just pressed his lips together, his eyes screwed up tightly to stop the tears from falling. He heard a clatter as Liam placed the test back on the table, and then he was yanked into a much needed embrace, letting himself cry until the tears dried up, Liam’s shirt acting as his own personal hanky.

“Who’s the father?” Liam asked softly, petting Harry’s hair. “I mean, obviously you are, but the other guy. Who is he?”

Harry shrugged, embarrassed that he’d have to admit to Liam that he wasn’t actually sure who the father of his baby was. He knew his Mum was going to be disappointed in him too, and what the press was going to print about him didn't bear thinking about, especially since to the general public, he was very much straight.

“I know you’ve not had a boyfriend, Haz,” Liam started, his voice soft, trying to coax Harry into talking. “Was it a fling?”

“At the club,” Harry whispered, knowing Liam would know what he meant. “The night I snuck out, when I’d had enough. I went to a club, it was dark, no-one recognised me. This guy… he kept looking at me, and then pulled me onto the dance floor. We were kissing and stuff, and…” his cheeks flushed as he went to continue his story. “We went back to his. We slept together, and I stayed the night. I left before he woke up, and I’m pretty sure he had no idea who I was. But yeah, it’s him.”

“Right,” Liam said with a sigh, and Harry could already see the cogs turning in his head as he slipped back into manager mode, mentally starting to deal with this. “You didn't use a condom, then?”

“Stupid, I know,” Harry mumbled, knowing that he knew better than to fuck strangers without protection. “I was drunk. No excuse. I told him to pull out, and I’m pretty sure he did, but you know…”

“Yeah, I did sex ed,” Liam retorted, running his hand through his hair. “Do you know his name? Anything about him?”

“Lou,” Harry answered easily. “His name was Lou. That’s all I know, aside from the fact he was the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever slept with. I don’t fuck around, Li, you know that, but he was just… he was perfect.”

Liam nodded, his phone back in his hand and he tapped away at his screen, no doubt writing down everything Harry had already said.

“Do you want to try and find him? Tell him about the baby?”

“No,” Harry answered without hesitation. “He didn't ask for this. Not this baby, or this life. You know if this gets out, there’s going to be a shitstorm Li, and that’s just for me. This is my job, I chose this. He didn't, it wouldn’t be fair.”

“But-”

“No buts. I’ve made my decision. I’m doing this alone. I can do this-” 

Harry choked on his final words, reality hitting him like a sledgehammer. He was going to be a father. He was in the closet, but pregnant with a stranger’s baby after a one night stand. He was well and truly alone. Harry finally let the tears start to fall as Liam wrapped him up in another cuddle, shushing Harry but with no words of comfort that could help. As he cried, Harry’s palm rested on his flat stomach, already subconsciously protecting the little life growing in there, the baby that was half him, and half this ‘Lou’, a man who had no idea his drunken fumble with Harry had resulted in something very permanent.

*****

Louis

Louis walked over to the trays of supplies and grabbed a packet of butterfly stitches, along with some plasters and other equipment he’d need. As his trainers squeaked over the shiny floors, Louis silently sent up a quick prayer that Thomas would behave, and allow him to put the stitches on the cut on his forehead. Louis took a deep breath before he pulled the curtain back, grinning at the young boy on the bed.

“Ready then, mate? I’ve got everything I need if you’re ready to be a brave boy-”

“NO NO NO NO!” the three year old shouted, tears pouring down his cheeks as he shook his head. Louis could see the plaster was already saturated with fresh blood, and he was aware he had to get this done. “I don’t wanna!”

“Hey, let me tell you a secret,” Louis said, grabbing a pair of glasses he kept in his pocket that he’d pinched years ago from radiology. He perched on the side of the bed, and ignored how Thomas stopped his wailing, listening to what Louis was saying while trying not to. He smoothed out the bold blue scrub top he was wearing, adjusting his ID badge for a moment for something to do. He smiled down at ‘ Louis Tomlinson, Charge Nurse’ printed on his badge, his photo printed next to it. Louis loved his job, and wouldn’t change it for the world. “See these specs?”

The little boy watched as Louis laid them in his lap, a pair of thick plastic frames with grey tinted lenses. He nodded, his thumb back in his mouth now as he sniffed, finally silent.

“Well. I don’t just give these to anybody. They’re super secret, from the top clever people in the government.”

“What’s the gover- that thing you said?” Thomas asked, rubbing his eye with his fist as his mum smiled on at the side, watching Louis work his magic.

“The people who run the country,” Louis said with a nonchalant shrug, the boy’s attention completely captivated by Louis’ made up tale. “Anyway… I’m in charge here, and because of that, they give me special stuff. And one of them is this.”

“What is it?” the boy gasped as Louis unfolded the arms, peering through the dimly coloured lenses. “I see?”

“The thing is,” Louis began, catching Thomas’ mum’s eye over her son’s head, smiling softly at her. “I’m only allowed to give these pain-go-away glasses to my best patients. And I’m only allowed to use them once a day…”

“Did you give them to another kid today?”

“Nope,” Louis said, starting to refold the arms again. “Maybe I can use them twice tomorrow inst-”

“I use them!” Thomas shrieked, making grabby hands for the glasses. “If I wear them, my head don’t hurt no more?”

“That’s the idea,” Louis reassured him, finally handing over the glasses. “But you mustn’t tell your friends. You have to pretend it hurt like anything, and you were the bravest boy in the whole hospital, that you didn't even need a bit of calpol. What do you reckon?”

“I’m brave,” the little lad asserted, his chest puffed up as he put the huge frames onto his face. “You can look at my cut, Mr Nurse.”

“You can call me Lou,” Louis chuckled, peeling away the edge of Thomas’ plaster while his mum handed him her phone, providing a further distraction. Louis made quick work of cleaning up the relatively superficial graze, and Thomas’ mum held him still while he expertly applied the butterfly stitches. Soon enough, four white strips were holding Thomas’ cut together, and Louis had cleaned up the skin around it, leaving him ready to go home. “All done, bud.”

“But it didn't hurt!” Thomas exclaimed, a surprised expression on his face. “You so clever!”

“Not me, it’s all thanks to those magic glasses,” Louis said as Thomas handed them back. “Now Mum, you need to take those off in a week, but try not to get them wet until then. They will naturally start to peel at the edges but try to keep them there as long as possible. Any more problems, or if it starts bleeding again, pop him down to your doctor’s surgery and they’ll sort it out.”

“Thank you so much,” Thomas’ mum said with a smile, shaking Louis’ hand. “You’re wonderful with children, you know. Great parenting skills.”

Louis chuckled to himself as he threw the rubbish into the proper bins, making sure there were  no stray things lying around that shouldn’t be.

“Not lucky enough to have my own children just yet,” he smiled ruefully at her. “Got lots of siblings though, and I helped my mum raise them, so I learnt a few tricks along the way.”

“Well, you worked miracles with Thomas, so thank you. Have a lovely afternoon.”

“You too,” Louis grinned, helping Thomas down from the bed and ruffling his hair after he’d set him on the floor. “Take care of that head, Thomas.”

“I will, thank you Mr Lou!” 

Thomas waved enthusiastically as his mum took his hand, finally leading him out of the Children’s A&E department where Louis worked. Louis finished up the notes on the computer and logged out before heading into the main area, checking on a few of his staff, making sure everyone was happy. Louis had been the Charge Nurse of the department for eighteen months now, and he was relishing his role. He’d worked hard to climb the career ladder, and just under two years ago, his bosses had finally recognised his achievements, awarding him his much deserved promotion. Now, Louis’ hours were longer but he was happy in his work, and enjoyed every day he went to work.

“Kel, I’m gonna clock out,” Louis called across the Nurses bench, getting the attention of the nurse who was taking over the department after he’d left. He’d been on shift since four am, and was dead on his feet. There was also the fact that he had an hour’s drive back to his home in Doncaster to see his younger siblings’ assembly the following morning, so he was desperate to get home for a bit of shut eye before he left. “Rosters are in the staff room, and I sorted out those emails regarding the temp nurses.”

“You’re a star, Lou,” she replied, a wide smile on her face, eyes shining behind her big brown specs. “Enjoy your few days off, yeah?”

“Oh, I will,” Louis said, nodding his head. “Need a bit of home cooking from me Mum, and hugs from my sisters, and I’ll be all set. Take care love, call me if you need to, okay?”

“I won’t, but you have a lovely time, Louis. See you on Thursday.”

Louis nodded and finally made his way out of the department, deciding to stay in his scrubs for ease. He went to the staff room and grabbed his jacket and bag, eventually exiting his workplace through the automatic doors which slid open, a gust of cool air blowing through making Louis grateful given the weather outside was already warm and a bit too humid for his liking. He draped his jacket over his arm and headed for the bus stop, not having had the money to replace his car since his last one died a death three months ago.

It was nearly an hour later that Louis arrived home, sweating profusely and cursing having to use public transport for the millionth time. He trudged into his flat, slamming the door behind him as music blared in the background, telling him his best friend and flatmate was at home. Louis left his trainers in a heap by the door and walked through, heading straight for the fridge where he grabbed a bottle of water, downing half as quickly as he could to alleviate his thirst.

He left the rest of the bottle on the worktop and walked through the flat, banging heavily on Niall’s bedroom door before he barged in, not caring about what state he might find his flatmate in since they’d pretty much seen it all. They’d been living together for nearly three years now, and as much as Louis loved living with Niall, he was getting to an age where he was craving his own space, tired of sharing his living area with another person not related to him either by blood or marriage.

“Yo,” he said as he walked inside, grateful that Niall was wearing clothes on this particular occasion. He was sat cross-legged on his bed, strumming on his guitar, a notebook by his knee as he looked up to Louis, grinning at his best mate. “Had a productive day?”

“Yep. Got two new songs down, just got to see if anyone likes ‘em,” he muttered, setting the instrument back into its case. “But fuck, am I paying for just sitting here all day now. Me back’s killing me.”

“You know better,” was all Louis replied as he sank into the chair by Niall’s desk, glancing around the room at some of the photos around. “Take a couple of ibuprofen and have a bath tonight, that’ll sort you right now.”

“Bath and an early night? Who do you think I am?”

“Someone with a bad back?” Louis replied, a little confused.

“Mate, I don’t think so. I was hoping we could hit up the town, have a few drinkies, I could find a lady friend, you could pick up a man-”

“Nope,” Louis said, cutting him off quickly. “You know I’m heading back to Donny later on, you said I could borrow your car. I’ve only come home for a nap and some clothes. I’ve got Pheebs and Daisy’s assembly tomorrow, and I promised them I’d be there.”

“Shit, I forgot about that,” Niall cursed, looking fed up. “You sure it’s got nothing to do with you still being hung up on that mysterious H you fucked a few weeks ago?”

“Will you fucking shut up about him?” Louis said, feeling slightly annoyed. Niall had done nothing but go on about Louis’ one night stand with H after he’d seen the note on the fridge the following morning. He’d now got it into his head that Louis was pining, and whether or not that was true, Louis didn't appreciate being teased about it, especially when he was already tired and in a bad mood.

“Oooh, touchy-”

“Fuck OFF,” Louis huffed, getting to his feet. “He was a good fuck, that’s all. Whether I want to see him again or not is irrelevant. It was a one night stand. One fuck, Ni. Not like he left his name and number is it?”

Niall’s smirk told Louis he’d gone too far, so he stormed off, flopping onto his bed. He groaned, covering his face with his hands as he tried to push away the flashbacks of the night he had spent with H just a few weeks ago. It felt like a lifetime ago in some ways, yet in others it was so fresh in Louis’ mind it might as well have happened last night. When he closed his eyes, he could picture how good H looked on top of his body riding him, how his lips had felt against Louis’, how good he’d felt when Louis was pounding into him. He’d been one of the most responsive men Louis had ever taken to bed, and he wasn’t sure he’d be over him in a hurry.

Still, Louis had no way of knowing who he was, or where to find him, so pining was pointless. He needed to get over him, but no matter how much Niall felt the best way would be for Louis to get under someone else, Louis wasn’t convinced. The thought of sleeping around was wearing thin now, and the idea of going to a club to pull someone new just didn't make him excited anymore.

Reluctantly, Louis hauled himself up off the bed, grabbing his holdall from on top of his wardrobe. He’d made the drive back to Doncaster so many times he knew exactly what to pack by now, and made quick work of it, his washbag already loaded with the things he’d need for a few nights at home. Within half an hour, Louis was ready to hit the road, and found Niall in the kitchen making himself a sandwich.

“Want one?” Niall offered, holding out a rather fat sandwich stuffed with what looked like the contents of the fridge.

“Nah, you eat it, mate,” Louis grinned back, grabbing the charger wire from where he’d left it plugged in last night. “I’m heading out, alright? Give me a buzz if you need me, but I’ll be back on Thursday morning because I’m on a late.”

“Alright, Lou. Drive safe, and give those sisters and your mum a kiss for me, yeah?” Niall said, and Louis nodded, pulling him into a quick hug. Louis’ eyes drifted over to the fridge where his infamous magnet sat, no longer holding up the note that was stowed away in Louis’ bedside table. “See you Thursday. Don’t get too tired, Lou. If you need to, take a break. I hate you going back and forth like this.”

Louis frowned at those words, understanding Niall’s concern but to Louis, his family always came above everything.

“They’re my family, Niall. They come first, always. You know that,” Louis called, grabbing his bag from the floor in the hallway and shoving his feet in his shoes. “See you soon, mate.” 

He took one last look around the living room to make sure he wasn’t leaving anything behind, and walked out, leaving his bag and jacket in the back seat, hooking up his phone to the sound system in Niall’s car. He was always grateful to his best friend for lending him the car, since it would cost him a fortune in train fares back and forth all the time. He was hoping he’d remember to buy Niall a case of beer when he got home by way of thanks.

He grinned as his favourite Sam Fender song came on shuffle, and he sang along at the top of his lungs, winding the window down a bit. It was unfortunate the air conditioning in the car was broken, but this was still preferable to a stuffy train carriage stuck next to someone he didn't know. With that in mind, Louis pulled his sunglasses down to cover his eyes, and set off for home.

*****

Harry

Harry peered out of the back window of the car he was sat in, making sure there was no one following him before he got out of the car. The last thing he needed was to be papped going into a Paternity clinic, but it seemed he’d gotten away with it. It had taken a good week for the initial furore over his Emmy nomination to die down, and he’d hidden himself away in the flat, eating junk because he wanted it, much to Liam’s irritation. Still, Harry had done the right thing in finding a private clinic which promised privacy, and Liam had gone so far as to deliver some NDA’s to them before Harry’s first appointment today.

“Ready, darling?” Anne asked, taking her son’s hand in her own. Harry looked to her, nerves flooding his body. Liam had been busy and hadn’t been able to go, so Harry had braved telling his mum about his pregnancy. Luckily, she’d been thrilled about the imminent arrival of her first grandchild, and had cried when Harry had asked her to accompany him to his first midwife appointment. “Come on, you can do this. You’re going to be a daddy, you need to be responsible and that means going inside, and finding out if your little one is okay.”

“I know,” he mumbled, feeling like a little boy again. “I just… it’s scary, you know?”

“I know. I’ve been there, sweetheart. But I promise you, once we get inside, it’ll all be okay.”

Harry nodded, and let Anne exit the car on the other side, staying put and taking a few deep breaths while he had a few seconds to himself. Just as he closed his eyes, the door opened and he looked up to his mum, her smile encouraging him to get out of the car. He thanked the driver, and followed his mum inside, tugging his hat down just in case anyone was looking. It seemed he’d gotten away with it, and he hovered near the main desk.

“Hello, welcome, how can I help you?” the gentleman behind the desk asked, smiling gently at Harry.

“I have an appointment,” Harry began, clearing his throat nervously. “Harry Styles, I’m here to see a midwife?”

The man nodded and passed Harry a clipboard with some paperwork on it.

“Fabulous, if you could just fill out the paperwork, and then take it through with you when you’re called. You also need to drink something for your scan, so help yourself to the drinks fountain over there. We only provide cold drinks, sorry about that.”

“Oh, not to worry,” Harry reassured him, shuffling off to sit next to Anne. He sighed, looking down at the ream of papers he now had to fill in, scribbling on the corner of the page to get the ink to flow from the pen. “Christ, they want to know everything, don’t they?”

Anne hummed in agreement as she sat next to him, tapping away on her phone, no doubt texting Harry’s sister. She also knew about Harry’s pregnancy, and was thrilled that she was going to be an auntie. Harry took his time, filling in all the questions as well as he could, but he stilled when he turned the page, seeing it was asking about the father.

“What’s wrong- oh.” Anne raised an eyebrow at her son, and Harry knew what was coming. “You must know something about him, love.”

“His name is Lou. That’s it,” Harry said, his cheeks hot and red by now. He hated having to tell his mum his first child was the result of a one night stand with a stranger, but it had to be done. That hadn’t stopped Anne pushing Harry to find out more about the man though, not quite comprehending Harry literally had nothing to go on. He couldn’t remember exactly where Lou lived, other than it was just outside the city centre, and he certainly didn't have his number. “Give it a rest. Please?”

“Sorry darling. I just think he has a right to know he’s going be a father, and he has an obligation to provide-”

Harry scoffed at that, shaking his head. One good thing about his job was that Harry had no financial worries in the slightest, and he knew he could provide for everything his baby needed and more without hesitation.

“It’s not just the financial obligation,” Anne continued, handing Harry a cup of water. “It’s the emotional support too. Pregnancy is tough, darling, and you’re going to be contending with press speculation as well. It would be nice for him to be there to supp-”

“Well, he can’t be, can he?!” Harry snapped, taking in some shallow breaths, feeling his heart start to race. “I don’t know him, Mum. I shagged him once, and we made a baby. That’s his contribution to this whole thing so please, just… stop asking about him!”

Anne went quiet at that, and Harry’s hand started to shake so much he dropped the pen, cursing quietly under his breath. Anne rested a hand on his wrist, stopping him for a second, concern evident in her eyes.

“I’m just worried, love. I know you’re a grown up, and you’re going to be a wonderful dad. But I can’t lie. I wish circumstances were different.”

“So do I,” Harry whispered, blinking back his tears. It was the first time he’d acknowledged the fact he wished Lou was by his side through this, excited to see their baby together for the first time, but it wasn’t to be. He was doing this alone, with his mum by his side.

“Harry Styles?” called a kind voice, and Anne stood first, waving to say they were here. Harry slowly got to his feet, ignoring the twinge in his back as he did so, and followed his mum down the corridor, his water in his hand while she carried his paperwork. “Hello love, I’m Jean, I’m one of the midwives here. I’ve spoken to your manager Liam, and I’ve signed all your paperwork. Are you happy for me to begin?”

Harry nodded, smiling at the young woman sat opposite him in pink scrubs.

“Definitely. Uh, I’m Harry, this is my Mum, Anne.”

“Lovely to meet you,” Jean smiled over, offering a hand to her, which Anne took. “Did you get a chance to fill in the form given to you when you came?”

Anne handed over the clipboard, and Jean flicked through it for a moment, pausing on the final page.

“I won’t ask again, but I just want to be sure… the baby’s father is no longer in the picture?”

“It’s just me,” Harry confirmed, letting his mum squeeze his hand again. “Well, I’ve got my Mum and sister of course, but no father. No.”

“Not a problem. First thing we’ll do is take some measurements from you, Harry, then some bloods. It’s all routine, usual screenings to check you and bubs are healthy. Then we’ll try for a little look at your little ‘un, but I can’t guarantee anything just yet as you’re fairly early on in your pregnancy. Does that all sound okay?”

Harry gave the okay, and Jean stood up, collecting everything she needed. She made quick work of making Harry hop up on the scales, jotting down his weight before using a measuring tape to take a few more measurements, thankfully over his clothes. He sat next to his Mum while she drew his blood, burying his head on her shoulder through the sting of the needle puncturing his vein, and he felt grateful when that part was over.

“Sorry about that, not many people like the needles,” she sympathised, sticking a few labels on the vials of blood she had drawn. “Chances are, you’ll hear nothing back about your bloods if everything’s normal. We only call you if there’s a problem. If you could go over and hop up on the bed for me, that’d be great. Just expose your stomach for me so I can get you ready for scanning.”

“Come with me,” Harry whispered to Anne, who nodded. He laid himself on the bed, his heart rapidly beating again with the anticipation of seeing his baby for the first time. He laid a hand on his stomach, still flat but there was a softness there he wasn’t used to. He stroked over it for a moment, marvelling over the life growing inside him. “Is that enough?”

“Um, shuffle your trousers down a bit more, they sometimes need to scan a bit lower than your belly button,” Anne said, and Harry did as she asked just before Jean stepped over, flicking on a machine at his bedside.

“Right, awkward question time for dating purposes. When did you have sexual intercourse that you believe resulted in this pregnancy?”

Harry blushed, but felt grateful Anne looked to the floor, allowing him to answer.

“Uh, early June. It was the 6th.”

“Super. I’ll pop that in, and we’ll take a look. I’ll keep the screen to me at first while I take some measurements and so forth, but when I’m happy, you’ll be able to take a look, and I’ll print you a couple of photos too.”

“Alright,” Harry agreed, the butterflies flapping madly in his tummy now. He watched as Jean reached for a bottle of blue fluid and drizzled some onto his bare stomach, making him gasp. “Christ, that’s cold.”

“Yep, sorry, I forgot to warn you,” Jean chuckled, grabbing a wand from the side of the screen which she pressed firmly against Harry’s stomach. The room went silent as she worked intently, clicking buttons and moving the wand around, angling it as she went. Harry gripped Anne’s hand like a vice, waiting nervously for her to turn the screen around. “Okay, everything is looking spot on with the dates you gave me, Harry. The baby’s due date is around March 15th. Of course, babies don’t stick to dates, but that’s a rough estimate for you.”

“Wow,” Harry breathed out, the fact he was going to be a dad within eight or so months rapidly sinking in. “Can I see them now?”

Jean nodded, and pressed another button before she flipped the screen around, revealing the ultrasound image to Harry and Anne. Harry immediately teared up as Jean pointed out his tiny fetus on the screen, shaped much like a bean, a rapid flickering going on that he could see on screen.

“What’s that?” he asked shakily, wanting to be sure everything was okay.

“That’s their heart, my darling,” Anne said softly as Harry finally started to cry, feeling utterly overwhelmed by now. “Oh sweetheart, that’s your baby.”

“They’re so tiny,” Harry sobbed, unashamed as the tears fell. He let Jean mop up a few tears as she moved the wand slightly, giving him a slightly different view. “I never- I d-didn't- oh, Mum.”

Anne leaned over to hug her son as best she could in the position Harry was in, and he felt bereft when finally, Jean lifted the wand away and the screen went blank. She wiped off his belly and let him resituate his clothes before he sat up, wiping his eyes again.

“Sorry, just very emotional,” Harry sniffed as Jean bent down, taking something from a machine underneath the desk.

“I see it all the time, you’re fine,” Jean said with a grin, handing over a few squares of paper to Harry. “It’s more unusual for parents-to-be not to cry, I promise you. But congratulations, your baby is healthy, and I wish you and happy and healthy pregnancy!”

Harry flicked through the few scan images she’d given him, giving one to his Mum who just beamed before she tucked it safely into her handbag.

“Uh, could you hang onto mine, too? I’ll pop them up when we get home, but I don’t want anyone seeing them…”

“Of course, my love,” Anne said, getting to her feet alongside Harry now, the pair keen to get home. They thanked Jean and set up a follow up appointment before they left arm in arm, strolling down the street together, unable to hold back their smiles. “So, how does it feel now you’ve seen them?”

“Real,” Harry confessed, chuckling to himself. “Like, I knew I was having a baby before today. But seeing them there, in my belly… it’s amazing, isn’t it? That I can carry a new life inside me?”

He stopped for a moment, letting everything sink in, the sun beating down on him, warming him.

“I’m going to be a dad, Mum.”

“I know, sweetheart,” Anne said back, her eyes glassy with unshed tears. “My baby is having a baby. I’m so, so happy for you, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

Harry grinned over to Liam as he threw his script back down onto the sofa in the trailer he’d commandeered as his own while he was on set. One of the perks of being a lead actor was getting your own space, and Harry was making the most of this already. He’d been desperate to tuck one of his scan pictures into the corner of the mirror like he had at home, but he couldn’t risk anyone knowing about his pregnancy yet, so he resisted, leaving it safely in the pages of his diary, tucked deep in his bag.

“You ready, mate?” Liam called, and Harry replied he was, finally stepping out of the little changing area. “Shit, I forgot you got sized for this months ago. Uh, we’re going to have to take you to costume, get them to look at it.”

“Is it obvious?” Harry frowned, looking down at the period costume he was wearing. He ran his hands over the ever-so-slight swell of his tummy, surprised Liam could see anything as he certainly didn't feel outwardly pregnant just yet. “I didn't think so?”

“Trust me, mate,” Liam muttered, opening the door to the trailer. “Just say you’ve been eating crap, they’ll understand, let it out a bit.”

Harry just followed Liam as he always, trusting his manager’s decisions implicitly. Aside from his family, Liam was still the only one who knew about Harry’s baby, and had suffered many evenings on Harry’s sofa while he’d waxed lyrical from the pregnancy book Anne had bought him, sharing every detail he could about his unborn child. He stepped inside the costume trailer, pleased to see it was just Jill, one of the older ladies in there.

“I’ll be back in a bit,” Liam said as his phone rang, slipping out of the door. “Liam Payne speaking…”

“Hello, my lovely, don’t you look handsome?” Jill crowed, giving Harry a quick hug. They’d worked together a few times on sets before, and Harry loved when he got to work with a familiar face. “What can I do for you, sweetheart?”

“Uh, I’ve put on a little weight, Liam said I need to let the costume out a bit?” he said, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment at the admittance. Jill just chuckled before she wandered over to her sewing trolley, picking up a tape and some pins before she knelt in front of Harry, peering up at him over the top of her large framed glasses. 

“Right then, untuck your shirt and I’ll take a few measurements and see what I can do.”

Harry did so, not really thinking about his bump, and he flapped the fabric out before he slipped open the clasp of his trousers, grateful for the release it gave him around his tummy. He let out a long sigh, and Jill chuckled, opening a notebook on the floor, a pencil tucked behind her ear as it always was.

“Won’t keep you a tick, hold your shirt up. Let me just…” she scribbled something and looked up, gasping as she saw Harry’s bared stomach for the first time. “Oh, Harry…”

Harry looked down, biting his lip as he realised what she’d seen. Where before there had been a flat belly, there was now a bump he most definitely couldn’t pass off as one too many tubes of pringles. He hurriedly pulled his shirt back down but it was too late. Jill took his hands away and lifted the shirt again, pressing her palm against his belly.

“Love, are you…”

“No-” he blurted out, trying to wriggle away from her touch, frantically grabbing at the edge of his shirt to cover himself up again. “No, I just, I had a big dinner, and I just- shit-”

Harry felt the all too familiar sting of tears as he realised he’d been caught out, that Jill had seen his bump, and that she knew exactly what it was.

“Sweetheart… I’ve been there myself. I know what a tummy like that means. Are you pregnant, darling?”

He knew there was no getting out of it now. Tears filled Harry’s eyes as he nodded, one of them tumbling down his cheek at the older woman’s kindness. Slowly, she got to her feet and pulled him into a hug, one that he went into easily. He didn't bother to hold back the tears once his face was masked, and her embrace felt much like his own mother’s, so Harry let go, shame and fear and guilt flooding his body. It was Jill that broke the hug first, and she wiped away his tears with her thumbs, looking him in the eye.

“A baby is such a blessing, my darling,” she crowed softly, her soft Northern lilt comforting. She led Harry over to the sofa at the back of the room, pulling him down next to her, his hand still in her own. “How far along are you?”

“Uh, just over eleven weeks,” Harry admitted, biting back a smile as his hand naturally came down to cup his tiny bump. It wasn’t huge yet, but Harry stood naked in front of the mirror every morning, twisting and turning so he could see himself from every angle. Where there used to be firm abs was now a pillow of softness, a swell that was definitely all baby. He loved sitting alone at night watching telly and caressing it, feeling like he was connecting with his unborn baby. “But Jill, only Liam knows, you can’t tell-”

“I would never,” the woman rushed to say, her earnest face telling Harry everything he needed to know. “It’s your news, my love. But if you need someone to talk to here, I’ve been through it myself four times. How have you been?”

“Sick,” Harry said with a laugh, as Jill nodded knowingly. “Every morning without fail, I throw up. The nausea is there until lunchtime, even if I eat. It’s horrible, but I know it’s good because it means the baby is there and growing, but it feels crap.”

“Ginger tea and crackers,” she confided, smiling at him. “Always helped me through with each of mine.”

“I’ll try that,” Harry nodded eagerly. “I’m at the point where I’ll try anything. But… back to work. Is there anything you can do with this so nobody else knows?”

“Harry, there is nothing I can’t do with a needle and thread,” she said, getting to her feet again. “Stand up, my lovely, let me see you.”

Harry did so, unashamed when she made him turn around, showing off his body to her. She hummed and nodded to herself as she knelt down again, looking at the seams of the clothes he was wearing as if calculating where she could make the adjustments needed.

“Right, I’m going to scrap the shirt and make one from scratch with extra fabric for when your bump grows. The trousers should be good, there’s enough there for me to work with. You do know I’m not going to be able to help you hide this for too long, lovey? At some point, it’ll be obvious you’re pregnant…”

Harry nodded, already dreading speaking to his bosses.

“I know. I do. But I just want to hold off as long as possible. I don’t want to make this public until I absolutely have to because once it’s out there, I can’t take it back. Not to mention the fact the public think I’m straight so me being pregnant will not only ruin my career, it’ll out me as well.”

“Own who you are,” Jill muttered as she took the shirt away from Harry, passing him a t-shirt to put on in the meantime. “You’re a wonderful man, Harry, and a talented actor. If people choose to not like you because you sleep with men, that’s their issue, not yours. And I’m pretty sure it’s against the law for you to lose your job because you’re pregnant, my love. They’ll be able to work around it.”

“I hope so,” Harry agreed. “I loved the idea of this movie, I was desperate to get a part. I practically begged Liam to get me an audition-”

He clapped a hand over his mouth as another wave of nausea washed over him, his eyes scrunching shut to ward off the feeling of being sick. He felt a hand on his back between his shoulder blades, rubbing gently.

“Deep breaths, darling, that’s it.”

Harry did as he was told, taking breaths in and letting them out slowly until the nausea passed, and he stood upright, smiling weakly at Jill.

“Thanks. Sorry, I just-”

“Don’t apologise. Pregnancy wreaks havoc on your body, I know that. You should take off, love. Not much we can do here until I’ve sorted the shirt. Actually, let me just take a few measurements, and I’ll have something ready for you by tomorrow. You’ve got your first scenes then, right?”

“Yeah, I think so. Kate’s due on set then too, so we’re at least running through the first few scenes. And uh, I appreciate you keeping it to yourself, Jill. I really do.”

“You can trust me, I promise.” 

Harry hugged her and went off to find Liam, pulling him to a quiet corner to confess that Jill had guessed he was pregnant, and that she promised to keep it to herself. Liam had concerns but Harry told his manager he trusted the older woman, and left the set with a skip in his step that night, deciding to walk home instead of taking the car service. He didn't think about the fact the t-shirt he’d borrowed from Jill was slightly too small and clinging to his pronounced belly as he made a detour to a Tesco Metro around the corner from his flat.

He grabbed a basket as he walked in, suddenly having a craving for something greasy. He wandered up and down the aisles, grabbing all manner of snacks from chocolate bars, to sugary popcorn, and some nice family sized bags of crisps he was sure he could devour all by himself. He stood and peered down at the basket, realising there wasn’t anything healthy in there so he walked back to the salad section, eyeing a large tub of guacamole hungrily. He grabbed two and shoved them in, along with some pre-prepared carrot sticks, the idea of it suddenly making him salivate. 

He joined the queue for the till, popping his things on the conveyor belt. No-one had spared him a second glance just yet, and he ran his hand over his belly, tugging down the t-shirt that kept riding up. His phone pinged as the person in front of him began to pack their things, and Harry smiled at the pregnancy memes Gemma and Anne were sending through, making him chuckle to himself. He tapped out a reply, telling them both he’d told someone else about his pregnancy today, and they congratulated him with emojis and lots of kisses.

“Did you need a bag?” the man behind the till muttered in a bored tone, and Harry nodded, accepting one with a smile. He watched as the man scanned through his junk, throwing it in the bag, eager to get home and stuff his face, the hunger pangs almost painful by now. “That’s twelve forty six, please. Do you have a clubcard?”

“Not on me,” Harry said, handing over a twenty pound note, waiting patiently while the man sorted his change. He slotted a few of the coins into the charity pot and put the fiver into his wallet. “Thanks so much, have a great night-”

“Do you need a carrier bag?”

The employee had already moved onto the next customer, so Harry just rolled his eyes and walked out, carrier bag swinging from his fingertips. As he walked out, he grabbed the bag of carrot sticks and opened them, taking a few in his hand as he tucked the rest back into his bag. He munched on them, not realising how far his t-shirt had ridden up as he strolled down the street, humming to himself. Little did he know, him and his now exposed baby bump had been spotted by a pap who was hanging around on the off-chance there might be someone worth photographing walking around, and he certainly didn't hear the whirr of the camera click going off as he munched on his carrot stick, lost in the fog of his baby, and getting home to change into something comfy that didn't restrict his growing bump. If he did, things might well have been very different…

*****

“Shit- be more fucking careful you knobhead, that’s Lou’s shit, you know he goes nuts if we break his stuff.”

“Sorry but maybe he shouldn’t leave it laying around-”

Louis grunted and rolled over on the sofa, pulling the cushion over his ear to try and block out the noise Niall and his friend were making. Louis was pretty certain it was Zayn with him, but he couldn’t bring himself to sit up and actually greet their guest. It had been a hellish shift at the hospital, and while he’d tried to sleep in his bed, sleep had been elusive, and he’d ended up on the sofa watching Homes Under The Hammer with Niall until he’d clearly fallen asleep. 

“Can I borrow your laptop? I need to check my email.”

“Course you can,” Niall replied, settling on the end of Louis’ sofa, taking care not to sit on his flatmate’s feet. “Just be quiet about it, yeah?”

Thankfully the two men were a little quieter after that, talking under their breath as the telly stayed on in the background. Louis couldn’t quite work out what was showing, but he stayed where he was, cosy and comfy. He smiled to himself as he shuffled his feet into Niall’s lap, and the other man didn't even flinch, just resting a hand on Louis’ bare calf.

“Holy shit…”

“What?” Niall asked, his voice getting louder now.

“Did you see the showbiz news? Look!”

There was a gasp as Niall evidently saw whatever it was on the screen, and Louis stayed still, not wanting them to know he was awake. He was much more interested in finding out the gossip first.

“Fucking hell… he’s pregnant?!”

“Pregnant?! I can’t fucking believe he’s gay, let alone knocked up!”

“Shit man… I wonder who the father is…”

There was the sound of the keys of the keyboard clicking as Zayn endeavoured to find out more information, and Louis couldn’t keep up the pretence any longer. He sat up, stretching his back as he let out a low groan, his back protesting from being curled up on the sofa for hours. He blinked to clear his vision and peered over to Niall, who sent him a fond smile.

“Rise and shine, Tommo,” he teased, tickling Louis’ feet for a second until Louis brought his legs back, curling them under himself. “Sorry, Zayn got a bit overexcited at the Daily Mail’s showbiz column.”

“S’alright, probably time I woke up and had something to eat anyway,” Louis mumbled, running his fingers through his hair, praying it wasn’t too messed up. “So who’s pregnant?”

“Harry Styles,” Zayn answered, finally glancing up from the laptop.

“Who?”

“You know, that actor guy. He did that TV show you refused to watch, and he does a lot of those period films you never want to watch.”

“Oh right.” 

Louis was rapidly losing interest in the whole situation, and stood up, his bare feet hitting the carpet.

“Show me his picture then, I might know him if I see him. You know I don’t watch any of that shite. Netflix all the way. If it’s not on there, I’m not intere- oh fuck.”

He felt the blood drain from his face as Zayn turned the screen around, seeing it filled with a face that was a little too familiar to Louis for his own liking. He swallowed before he walked closer, making sure it was who he thought it was.

“What’s up, mate? You’ve gone a bit green,” Niall teased, kicking out at Louis’ knee from where he was sat. “Seriously. You alright?”

“Uh, not really,” Louis stuttered out, his hands starting to shake. “What’s his name again?”

“Harry Styles,” Zayn replied, looking confused now. “Do you know him?”

“Could say that,” Louis muttered, sighing deeply. “I think that’s my baby.”

Niall scoffed, shaking his head.

“That’s what all his fans say,” he laughed to himself, high-fiving Zayn. “Lou?”

“Niall. That’s H. My one night stand. The guy I fucked a few months ago?”

He could see Niall’s eyes widen in recognition, and he looked between Louis and the screen for a moment.

“Holy fucking shit…”

“Will somebody tell me what’s going on?” Zayn stropped, pouting now. “Tommo, what the fuck are you on about?”

“I fucked Harry Styles, and I think that’s my baby in his belly. Oh fuck.”

*****

A few hours later, Louis was snuggled up in his bed, his laptop perched on the pillow in front of him. It felt like he was in some sort of parallel universe, and he was exhausted, mentally and physically. He still hadn’t quite gotten over the fact he’d somehow fucked some celebrity without knowing it, and now, he’d apparently got that celebrity pregnant as well. He’d spent a good hour with Zayn and Niall talking through what had happened that night, and he repeatedly reassured both of his mates that he genuinely had no idea that H was Harry Styles. They seemed to believe him, and now Louis was finally alone with his thoughts.

He tapped Harry Styles pregnant into his google search window, and watched as the paparazzi images filled his screen. Harry had apparently been to Tesco and bought a bag of junk, and Louis couldn’t deny he was endeared by the photos of him walking home, munching on what looked like carrot sticks. His little belly was sticking out from under the hem of his t-shirt, a prominent baby bump swell, not just a paunch of flab like he and Niall both sported after a particularly heavy night on pizza and beer. He closed that window, and then tried googling Harry Styles boyfriend instead, surprised to find only images of Harry with women on his arm at various events, or shopping, or just eating a meal together. They were all young, brunette, and pretty, and Louis rolled his eyes, realising Harry was probably in the closet. Not for long , Louis mused to himself, now the news of Harry’s pregnancy was out there. He wondered for a moment if he’d been an experiment, but then pushed that aside as Harry seemed too experienced with fingering himself and riding cock for that.

Louis pushed the laptop away, trying not to think about the weird reality he was now in. He yanked off his clothes and walked to the bathroom in his boxers, flicking on the shower over the bath. He stepped under the spray, hoping the hot water would wash away the sick feeling in the bottom of his stomach, but it was to no avail. He washed his hair and body, unable to block memories of that amazing night he’d spent with H, no, Harry , trying to work out how he’d ended up pregnant.

He vaguely recalled them not bothering to use a condom at Harry's request, but Louis felt certain he’d pulled out in time. He knew that wasn’t 100% effective, and now it seemed he’d proved that to be the case. He yelled out as his fingers caught on a knot in his hair, and he rinsed before yanking the curtain back, clambering out of the bath in a huff. He wrapped a towel around his waist, and just as he stepped out of the bathroom, Niall appeared from his own room, a look of concern on his face.

“You alright, Tommo? I heard you in there-”

“Am I alright, Niall? Really? ” Louis spat out, feeling angry all of a sudden. “No, I’m not fucking alright. I fucked a closeted celebrity who is apparently now pregnant with my baby, and I have no fucking idea how to get hold of him so we can sort this fucking mess out!”

He stomped off to his room, slamming the door so he could dry himself, pulling on some boxers before he opened the door again, giving Niall entry. Niall just perched on the edge of the bed, looking a bit nervous now. 

“Sorry, I didn't mean to take it out on you, Ni. This whole thing is just a mess. What the fuck am I gonna do?”

Niall just shrugged, playing with the hem of his shorts for a moment.

“I mean… did you look online, see if he’s got a website or something where you can contact him?”

“Yep, there’s nothing out there. I just… I don’t know what to do, Niall.”

Louis sank down on the bed, resting his elbows on his thighs, his head in his hands. It all felt hopeless, and the thought of his child being out there in the world without him felt wrong.

“I don’t want to be like my dad. I don’t want to be absent from their life. I don’t want my child to think that I didn't want them, or that I made the choice to not be around, Niall. I know how that feels, and it’s completely shitty. And… I really don’t want Harry to think he has to do this alone because I’m here. I’ll step up, I’ll be a dad to my kid. I just can’t see how I can make that happen, especially with him being who he is.”

“Leave it with me and Z, mate. We’ll do some digging, see if we can find out anything about him, or his team or something. Do you have anything we can use as proof that you and Harry were together?”

“Nope,” Louis said sadly, knowing they didn't even bother to take a photo together or anything. Harry’s reluctance to even share his full name made sense now. “Only got his note, and that could be from anyone. What a fucking mess.”

“Don’t give up hope,” Niall said, pulling Louis into his side, neither caring that Louis was practically naked, his body still damp from the shower. “Let us see what we can find. I know you don’t want your kid to be without a dad, so we’ll do our best, okay?”

Louis just nodded, his eyes stinging with tears. It was all completely overwhelming and he finally just let his emotions get the better of him, the tears falling from his cheeks onto Niall’s t-shirt as he cried, having no idea how he was going to fix this mess he’d gotten himself into. 

*****

That day at Harry’s…

Harry groaned as he was dragged out of his sleep by a horrible, high-pitched screeching sound. He muffled his head with the pillow and sighed with relief as the noise stopped. No sooner had he started to drop back off to sleep, it began again, impossibly louder than it was before. 

“Fucking shut up,” he mumbled, reluctantly sitting himself up when he relaised the noise wasn’t going to stop. He blinked, dragging himself out of sleep and to his feet, his back already twinging in protest. He had a bad back anyway, but it seemed this pregnancy was just going to exacerbate everything he was already feeling. As he woke up a little, Harry realised the relentless screeching was in fact his landline, a number only three or four people in the world had access to. 

In a panic, he stumbled down the hallway and down the stairs, thinking there was an emergency. There had to be if someone was calling the phone to his flat, and he snatched the receiver from its cradle, panting into it as he tried frantically to catch his breath.

“Harry Styles-”

“Do you ever answer your phone?” came an irate sounding Liam’s voice down the line, and Harry immediately relaxed, knowing he wouldn’t have opened with a line like that if something were wrong with his mum or sister. “Seriously, Harry, I’ve been calling you for over an hour.”

“Liam, I’m knackered. The baby pressed against my bladder all night, and I constantly had to pee.”

“It’s the size of a grape. I don’t believe you.”

“Fuck off then,” Harry yawned, sliding down the wall until he was sat on the floor. “Why have you woken me up at this god forsaken hour?”

“It’s gone ten, it’s not early. Have you seen Twitter this morning?”

Harry frowned, realising he hadn’t even bothered to check his phone since he’d been woken up, and he shook his head before he realised Liam couldn’t actually see that through the phone.

“No. Why, what’s up?”

“Good. Don’t look until I’m there. I’m just leaving the office-”

“It’s Saturday.”

“I know. I had something to do. But wait for me, alright? I’ll be there with breakfast in about twenty minutes.”

The line then went dead, and Harry just sighed to himself as he got up, stretching out his back for a moment. Despite what he’d just said to Liam, Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to resist googling himself now, and walked back to his bedroom, collapsing with a happy sigh onto his bed again. He ran his hands over the swell of his bump and wondered if he’d feel some sort of movement now he was getting bigger. He liked that his bump was becoming more prominent, and he smiled to himself as he caught sight of the framed ultrasound picture on his bedside table.

He reached for his phone, ignoring the list of notifications on his lockscreen as he held the device up to his face, unlocking it with Face ID. There was a bold red blob on his messages app proclaiming there were 21 unread messages, and 11 missed calls. Harry just rolled his eyes and opened Safari, tapping his name into google. Of course, it auto-completed, and soon, the results were displayed, and Harry almost dropped his phone in shock.

HE'S COMING OUT... AND HE WANTS THE WORLD TO KNOW HE'S PREGNANT?!

DADDY COOL: HARRY STYLES EXPECTING HIS FIRST CHILD?

OUT OF THE CLOSET AND INTO... MOTHERCARE?! ACTOR STYLES EXPECTING HIS FIRST CHILD WITH MYSTERY PARTNER

Harry’s hands shook as he scrolled down with his thumb, clicking on one of the articles. He swore under his breath as the wifi took forever to load up the page, but soon, the article appeared, along with a collection of photos of him that had been taken the night before. Harry bit back a sob as he saw his obvious baby bump exposed where his t-shirt had ridden up, and the articles didn't hesitate to comment on the fact Harry was not only pregnant, but apparently gay.

He was so engrossed in reading the horrendous articles that he didn't hear Liam coming into his flat, closing the front door and walking into his bedroom, stopping in the doorway. A tear slid down his cheek as the mattress dipped next to him, Liam resting a hand on his thigh.

“I told you not to look until I was here,” he said softly, not wanting to argue with Harry when he was already clearly in an emotional state. Harry sniffed and accepted a tissue that Liam handed him, wordlessly passing his manager and best friend his phone, his body still trembling with the shock of not only being outed, but his pregnancy being out there before he was ready for it to be. Sometimes, he really hated the paparazzi. “Haz, you okay?”

“No,” Harry rasped out, his voice husky. “Liam, what the hell am I going to do?”

Liam took Harry’s phone, locking it before he set it down on his bedside table. Harry watched as he kicked off his shoes, and then shuffled over, making room for Liam next to him on the bed. Harry rested his head on Liam’s shoulder as the silence hung heavily between them, the breakfast Liam had brought in with him now abandoned on the floor.

“I’m so sorry, Haz,” Liam muttered, his gaze in his lap. “If I’d known they’d got pictures like this of you, I’d have tried to stop them getting out. First thing I knew about it was Mel in the office texting me at four this morning asking if I’d approved them or not.”

“Sneaky wankers,” Harry cursed, balling his hands into fists, anger taking over now. “What gives them the fucking right to do this to someone? I mean, they could ruin my life by doing this, not that they give a shit-”

“You’re right, they don’t. But Harry, they’re out there now. There’s no point in getting them taken down, you know what social media is like, they won’t go away.”

“Fuck-” 

Harry cut off as the lump in his throat made him want to throw up, and for the first time in a few days, he leapt out of bed and barely made it to the bathroom before he threw up, emptying his stomach of everything inside him. His throat burned as he hadn’t eaten a lot the night before, and it was mainly just stomach acid, which just made Harry want to cry more. Liam soon came up behind him, rubbing Harry’s lower back soothingly as he knelt over the toilet bowl, feeling miserable and pathetic.

When the pangs of nausea started to abate again, Harry fell back onto his knees, letting Liam flush the toilet. Harry grabbed for some loo roll and wiped off his mouth before he slowly got his feet, trying his best to ignore the twinge of protest in his back. Liam guided him back to the bedroom and disappeared for a minute before he came back with a glass of water in his hand. Harry took it and had a few shaky sips, the pair perched on the edge of the mattress.

“You had any thoughts on how you want to handle this?” Liam asked, his voice clearly hesitant but Harry understood. Now it was out there, they had to tackle it, and work out what to do. 

“What if they think I’m a liar, Li?” Harry said, voicing his deepest concerns. “For all these years, I’ve just perpetuated this straight image. I’ve been seen with women, I’ve taken women as my date to award shows and shit. I’ve never actually said I’m straight, but the assumption was always there and I never corrected it. What if everyone hates me because of this?”

Liam sighed, rubbing a hand over his beard for a moment.

“I mean… I can’t say that won’t happen, Harry. I wish I could, but I can’t. But people who are your true fans… they won’t care. They’ll just support you, and be happy for you that you’re having a baby.”

“Yeah, ‘til they find out I shagged a stranger and I’ve got no idea who my baby daddy is,” Harry muttered, feeling frustrated at the whole situation again. His eyes flitted back to the image of his unborn baby, finding it calming. “I just… I know I need to make a statement or something, but I’m not ready yet. I will, Li, but please, just, can you put them off or something?”

“I can. But not forever, mate, you know that. And if you don’t want to say something, you need to lie low for a while. No online presence, no social media, no popping out for pregnancy snacks. If you need something, call me, or your mum or Gem. Don’t risk getting papped. And we’ll need to talk to the studio as well, see how they can work with this.”

“Oh shit, I didn't even think-” Harry said, panicking again. “I just… shit, Liam, what a fucking mess.”

Liam’s phone pinged, and he pulled it from his pocket, frowning when he saw the alert on the screen. Harry peered over, sensing it wasn’t good news, and when he saw the subject, he groaned, flopping backwards onto the bed.

“Oh god. They’re going to fire me, aren’t they?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Liam chastised, hating when Harry took the pessimistic view. “Uh, they want to see you. They’ve asked that you come in tomorrow for a meeting. I’ll come with you, of course. Are you due on set before that?”

Harry shook his head, sure he wasn’t due there for a few days, which he suddenly felt grateful for.

“This isn’t how I wanted it to be,” Harry said in a whisper, not able to trust his voice with anything louder. “I thought I’d be married, with a lovely, husband, that we’d be happy and excited to have a baby. The world wouldn’t care that I was gay, and everything would be perfect. Why can’t it be like that, Li?”

Liam stayed quiet, and just pulled Harry further against his side, offering comfort in the only way he knew how. But for Harry, it wasn’t quite enough.

Chapter Text

Louis jumped as the front door to the flat slammed open, and an over-excited Niall barrelled through, red cheeked with the biggest smile on his face.

“What? Have McDonald’s confirmed they’re adding an all day breakfast to their menu?” Louis asked, drawing a snort from his Irish mate who collapsed on the sofa next to him. “Don’t know what else would put that sort of smile on you, mate, so do tell…”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Niall retorted, waggling his eyebrows at Louis as he kicked off his trainers, nudging them under the coffee table. “And did you order Domino’s without me?”

“I did, but that’s not the point right now. I want to know what’s going on.”

“Nothing.”

“Liar.”

“Fuck you.”

“No, fuck you, Ni. Tell me, before I drag it out of you.”

“Fine. But you’re gonna wanna kiss me when I tell you.”

Louis just arched an eyebrow, practically daring Niall to reveal his news now.

“Alright, alright. I may have found out that your baby daddy is filming on the outskirts of the city. And that he’s there more often than not. So you can go and see him.”

As he finished speaking, Niall folded his arms across his chest triumphantly, a smug smile on his face.

“And you’re telling me this why?”

“Erm, because you want to be in your kid’s life? The only way to do this is to speak to Harry, Lou. You two actually have to have a conversation about where this is going to go, how it’s going to work since he’s having your baby.”

“I can’t turn up and ambush him, Niall. He’s going to think I’m some sort of crazy stalker. I need to do this properly, so he can’t use it against me.”

“Oh, fuck that. He let you put it in him, he knows who you are. He also knows that’s your baby inside him, so he’s probably going to want to see you as well. You need to give him a chance.”

Louis sighed. Every avenue he’d gone down in order to find Harry so far had resulted in a dead end, so Niall suddenly revealing that he knew where Harry would be over the next few days felt like a lot. The idea of confronting the man carrying his child felt overwhelming, and if he was honest, he was scared stiff that Harry would just turn him away.

“But Ni… what the hell do I say? ‘Hi Harry, remember me? I’m the guy that fucked you and knocked you up. Wanna raise a baby together?’”

“Well, not quite like that,” Niall laughed back, shaking his head. “I’m sure even you can be a bit more diplomatic. And if you don’t think I’ll be dragging you there kicking and screaming if I have to, you’re sorely mistaken…”

Two days later

Louis threw the bunch of clothes in his arm onto the bed in frustration, certain he had nothing to wear that was going to look good to the father of his child on their first, well, second meeting. Usually, he looked forward to a day off from the hospital, but he’d been in a funk ever since he finished his shift last night, dreading what was going to happen today. As much as he was grateful to Niall for helping him find a way to get in contact with Harry, this almost felt too soon, and Louis still wasn’t sure how this was all going to go down, especially given it was a very public way of going about it. Still, Louis knew he didn't really have any other choice, and he hollered for his friend.

“Zayn, come and help me!”

Footsteps sounded as Zayn clunked his way down the hall in his heavy boots, and appeared in Louis’ doorway, a cigarette hung from his lips.

“Gimme that, and find me something to wear,” Louis mumbled before he took a deep drag from the butt, letting the smoke pool in his lungs before he released it slowly. He watched as Zayn rifled through the pile of clothes, pulling out a blue shirt and some dark skinny jeans. “Really? That’s the best you can do?”

“It’s not a first date,” Zayn muttered, switching the shirt for a Pink Floyd t-shirt. “Try this.”

Louis nodded and handed Zayn back his smoke before he stripped off, unabashed about his body in front of Zayn. He got himself dressed and ruffled his hair for a minute before doing a silly twirl. Zayn nodded with a pleased half-smile on his face, and wandered off, muttering to Niall to come and have a look.

“You think he’ll like it?” Louis asked as Niall walked into the room, wolf-whistling at Louis who just rolled his eyes. “Give it a rest.”

“He likes you, Lou. He let you spunk in him, remember?”

“Not exactly,” Louis mumbled, his cheeks flushing at the memory of actually coming all over Harry’s bum, not inside him. He may or may not have used that image to get himself off countless times since then, not that he’d admit it to anyone. “Seriously. It’s alright?”

“Yes, mate. I’m driving, by the way. I’ve done a bit of research and I’ve worked out where to park and shit, since it’ll all be cordoned off. It’s gonna be okay, yeah?”

“And if it isn’t?” Louis asked, already anticipating the worst. “If this goes to shit, I might lose my shot at getting to be in my kid’s life, Niall. This isn’t just for fun, you know.”

Niall’s face got serious all of a sudden and he stepped forward, grabbing Louis’ upper arms as he stared him down.

“I might joke around, but I get it, Tommo. I know this is important, but I get if you need to do this alone-”

“No! No, I want you there. I, uh, I don’t think I can do this by myself,” Louis mumbled, his cheeks going pink at the admission. He felt ridiculously nervous to approach Harry now he knew who he was, and he couldn’t begin to think about what he’d do if it didn't go to plan. “Do you, um, do you think we can go now? Before I change my mind and back out?”

“Course,” Niall said, pulling Louis into a quick hug. “Let’s go, get this thing started.”

*****

“-I just wanted to talk to him really quick,” Niall said, trying to work his Irish charm on the security guard whose expression didn't change in the slightest. “I’m not a stalker, I promise, my mate knows Harry-”

“Then he can call him and speak to him that way,” the guard said, his deep voice making Louis realise this was a dead end. There was no way this man was going to cave, and Louis didn't really like the way his arms were now folded across his chest, and his stance widened. “You are not permitted to get near Mr Styles.”

“Look, mate. I only need two seconds of his time,” Louis said, taking over from Niall, sensing he was getting nowhere. “If you could just tell him Lou is here, I’d really appreciate it.”

“I said no. It’s time you lads moved on. The crew are going to pack up soon, and I’m afraid Mr Styles doesn’t meet fans at this time.”

“I don’t want a fucking autograph,” Louis muttered through gritted teeth, feeling frustrated by now, and he could feel Niall tense next to him. “I need five minutes of his time. That’s all, it’s really important that I speak to him, I’m the fath-”

“Louis, no,” Niall said, dragging Louis away from the security guard, who was looking less amused by the second. “We’re not going anywhere. We can come back, try again- oh, I’m sorry.”

Niall moved the pair of them out of the way as several members of the crew stalked past, various items of kit in their hands, and they watched as the security guards immediately dragged the barriers back across, blocking anyone trying to enter.

“Look, this is a fucking waste of my time,” Louis muttered, storming off. He felt angry that he was made to look stupid, and he was irrationally angry at Harry for the fact he couldn’t see him. There was also the fact he’d got his hopes up about seeing Harry, and having them crushed again didn't feel good. He didn't like knowing Harry was on set somewhere, just a few minutes away from him, along with their unborn baby, and he could do nothing about it. To the security guards, he and Niall were just crazed fans trying to get near to the star of the movie. This just wasn’t going to work.

“Where are you going?” Niall called, jogging to catch up with Louis, who was walking away as quickly as he could now. “Louis, will you stop?”

“No, Ni. I’m going home. This was a stupid plan, and it’s just not going to work. I just… forget it, yeah?”

They soon arrived at the car, and Louis drove them home in silence, silently fuming. As soon as they arrived home, Niall changed and headed off to work, apologising for leaving Louis alone. Louis didn't mind though, and quite liked the idea of spending a few hours alone before he had to go to bed. He pulled a tub of icecream from the freezer and settled on the sofa, scrolling through his phone for a while. He somehow ended up on the Daily Mail website, seeing photos of Harry on set earlier that day. His bump was masked by a billowing jacket he had on, but even Louis could see that he was glowing. He was laughing, his head thrown back as he laughed at one of his co-stars, and Louis couldn’t deny how beautiful he looked.

Without thinking twice, Louis closed down the app and opened up FaceTime, clicking on his Mum’s contact. It only rang a few times before Jay answered, sat in the kitchen with a wide smile on her face as she looked at her son on her own screen. Louis mustered up a smile, his heart already aching with how much he missed her.

“My gorgeous boy,” Jay said softly, keeping the phone steady and on her face. “How are you, darling? No work today?”

“Nah, got a day off,” Louis replied, twisting his body so his legs were resting on the rest of the sofa. “You and the girls alright?”

“Yeah, we’re good. They’re all at school at the moment, Fizzy’s got an exam today.”

“Ooh, well tell her to text me later with how it went,” Louis said, proud as always of his siblings. “She’ll smash it though, she’s too clever not to.”

“I know that, and so do you. But you know your sister, never believes in herself enough. Anyway, are you going to tell me why you’re calling me?”

“Do I need a reason to call my mum?” Louis asked, feeling guilty that she already knew something was up. “I just wanted a chat.”

“That’s fine, love, but I can see something’s wrong. You didn't say anything when you came up a few weeks ago for the girls, so I assume it’s something new? Boy trouble?”

“Sort of,” Louis shrugged, unsure how to word it. It was one thing telling his best mates about knocking up a stranger, but he had a horrible feeling his mum was going to be disappointed in him. “Uh, I have something to tell you…”

“Oh, Louis,” Jay breathed out, looking concerned. “What have you done, sweetheart?”

“I’m going to be a dad,” he whispered, tears filling his eyes as he finally admitted the truth to his Mum. Her eyes widened so he carried on talking, filling her in with the whole sorry story. “I had sex with someone a few months ago. It was just a…. One night thing. He only called himself H, I didn't think anything of it. Then a couple of weeks ago I found out that he’s um… Harry Styles? That actor from that show Lottie and Fiz watched?”

“Bloody hell, Louis, you don’t do things by halves, do you? Have you spoken to him?”

“Nope,” Louis replied, shaking his head. “I, uh, I don’t have a number for him or anything. I tried to go to the film set with Ni earlier on, but nobody would let us see him. I get it, we probably look like nutters who want a picture with him or something, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t-” 

Louis cut himself off, feeling emotional. His eyes stang with tears, and he looked down from the screen for a moment, unable to look his mum in the eye.

“I don’t want to be like my dad. I want to be there for my kid, Mum. This whole thing is a fucking mess, and I just don’t know what to do.”

“You’re sure he’s pregnant with your baby?”

“As much as I can be,” Louis mumbled, wiping at his eyes. “Dates add up. A few things he said as well made me think he didn't sleep around much, let alone with guys. I’ve seen shit in the papers about him since they saw his bump. I don’t think it was public knowledge that he’s into guys, so maybe he won’t want to know me now it’s out there.”

“Alright, my darling boy,” Jay began, sitting up straight and fixing her serious look onto her face. “Here’s what I think you should do.”

*****

Harry winced as he bent over to undo the laces of his boots after a long day on set. His lower back was screaming in pain, and Harry kicked off the boots, leaving them in a mess on the floor as he headed for one of the sofas, gingerly laying down. He rolled his ankles for a moment, relieved that his poor feet were free of the confines of the stiff leather. His ankles were already swelling, and he was struggling to stay in his costume for the duration of the day, he was so uncomfortable. He sighed in relief as his limbs came to rest and he shut his eyes, exhaustion kicking in now. He hadn’t realised how much being pregnant would sap him of his energy, and he was finding the long hours on the movie set more tiring that he’d ever have believed.

“Knock knock,” Liam called as he walked into the trailer, a takeaway cup of what smelt like tea in his hand. Harry smiled as Liam handed it over, and he propped himself up on his elbow enough to sip at the liquid, letting it slide easily down his throat. It was what he’d been craving all day, and he loved that Liam knew him well enough to give him what he needed, especially at the moment when all he wanted to do was sleep. He set the cup on the floor and laid back down, rubbing at the swell of his belly over his shirt. “How are you doing, mate?”

“Shitty,” Harry mumbled in reply, immediately hating himself for moaning. He knew there were people out there who would kill to be in his position, expecting their first baby, so he quickly backtracked. “I shouldn’t moan, it’s not right. I’m just tired, and I ache, Li. Nobody tells you this pregnancy thing is such hard work, all you see is people glowing with big bumps, acting like it’s the best thing ever. They don’t tell you about the constipation, the swollen ankles, and feeling like you’re so exhausted you could sleep for a week.”

“Nice,” Liam winced, ignoring Harry’s all-too-personal comments. He watched with a small smile as Harry unbuttoned his shirt, letting it flap open, exposing his baby bump. Liam was a little surprised by how much Harry had popped over the past few weeks, the swell of his stomach most definitely that of a baby now. “Shit, mate, you look really pregnant.”

“Get away,” Harry joked, pretending for a second like it was brand new information that he was with child. “Seriously, though, I know. My bump’s just really appeared this week, I love it. Not sure the costume ladies do, but hey, what can you do?”

“You got any more appointments?” Liam asked, dragging a chair over to sit on it, not wanting to dislodge Harry from his comfortable position. “Sorry if I sound like I don’t have a clue, but I really don’t about this baby stuff. How many weeks are you now?”

“I was sixteen weeks yesterday,” Harry revealed proudly. He’d downloaded several different apps to his phone to keep track of his pregnancy, loving all the little snippets that popped up every day telling him something new about his baby, or what to expect over the next few days. “But oh my god, Li, did I tell you what I felt yesterday?”

“No?” Liam frowned, hoping Harry wasn’t going to be talking about his excessive wind again as he had done a few weeks ago. There were things managers and best friends just didn't need to know. “Are you sure I need to know this?”

“Yes,” Harry chuckled, knowing exactly why Liam was so hesitant. “I felt the baby move, Liam!”

“What?” Liam gasped, excited to hear that revelation. “Seriously? Already?”

Harry nodded proudly, his hand on his stomach again. He seemed to gravitate to his bump without thinking these days, just stroking or resting his hand there, connecting with the life growing inside him. It was a comforting gesture, and he loved the ten minutes or so he spent every night rubbing some ridiculously expensive ‘bump butter’ into his skin, hoping to prevent stretch marks. He chatted away to his bump as he did so, and he was hopeful the baby would recognise his voice when they were born.

“Yep. It wasn’t like a kick or anything, not yet. My apps say that’s more like twenty four weeks or so. But this was like butterflies, Li. Proper flutters, like they were trying to tell me that they’re there. I just laid there and felt it, it was so amazing.”

“You cried, didn't you?” Liam asked, already knowing the answer. 

“Well, that is my child, Liam!” Harry laughed in reply, unashamed at being connected with his emotions at the best of times, let alone when he was pregnant. “But honestly, mate, it was the best feeling in the world. I just-”

Harry went quiet, his smile fading, a look of contemplation replacing it on his face.

“What?”

“I wish I had someone else to get excited with. Like, the baby’s father.”

“Lou?” Liam asked, as Harry nodded, confirming the name of his baby daddy. “Have you had any more thoughts about that?”

“Nope.”

Harry’s answer left no room for any reply, and Liam just sighed, getting to his feet.

“Where are you going?”

“Taking you home,” he replied, gathering up Harry’s things that were strewn all over the trailer. “You’re already tired, and you’ve got that sunrise scene to do in the morning. You know I’ll be by your flat at about five, right? You have to be here just before six.”

“Shit, I forgot about that,” Harry cursed. “Let’s just hope the morning sickness doesn’t make a reappearance, huh?”

*****

The following day

“And cut!” the director yelled. Harry stuck his thumbs up over at the older man, who returned it by way of a nod of his head, clearly not wanting to show too much enthusiasm. There was the hum of chatter as other members of the crew walked onto the set, starting to fix up things that had been moved during the scene, and Harry headed for his chair, sipping heavily on a bottle of water. It might be October, but it was still warm enough that Harry was sweating in his period costume. The billowy shirt he had on meant he could pop open the top button of his trousers and no one would see, and it meant he felt much better about himself today than he had yesterday. “Harry, you’re done for the day, you too, Kate. I’d like Michael, James and Ed to hang around please, I want to do a quick reshoot.”

Harry felt grateful for the fact he could now head home, especially since he was expecting a delivery of baby clothes to be waiting for him. He hadn’t been able to help himself from placing an order online the other day, and already he couldn’t wait for the tiny clothes to arrive. He’d gone for neutral colours, still not sure if he wanted to find out the sex at the twenty week scan in a few weeks, but he had needed something at home to make it all feel more real. The baby started to flutter in his belly again, and Harry’s hand automatically flew down to his bump as he smiled fondly to himself.

He wandered off towards where his trailer was sat alongside Kate’s, the leading lady on the film, as well as the other trailers for the supporting cast. Harry took his phone off one of the boom operators, thanking her quietly while he read the texts from his mum, agreeing that they could go pushchair shopping at the weekend if he wasn’t called back on to set to reshoot anything.

“Harry! Harry Styles!”

Harry kept his head down as he ignored the fans at the barricades shouting his name. They sounded friendly enough, but since he had found out he was pregnant, Harry was more hesitant about approaching anyone for fear of photos being leaked, or people saying unkind things about the fact he was gay, pregnant, or both.

“Harry, please. I need to talk to you. Harry!”

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Harry was sure he recognised the voice but he kept walking, focusing on not tripping over, sure someone would be videoing the moment to post on Twitter later, exposing him to more public ridicule. The trailer was in sight, but Harry paused as he heard another yell, this time capturing his attention more than anything else.

“Harry, it’s Lou. Louis, from before. We need to talk.”

Harry turned slowly, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. Everything clicked in his mind - the voice, the name… it was Lou. Louis. The father of his baby. Harry’s eyes frantically raked through the crowds and finally settled on him. He recognised him, was the thing. Of course he did. Louis was gorgeous, just as he remembered him. But what shocked Harry was the fact he appeared to be in scrubs, an NHS badge clipped to the hem of his scrub top. Louis was red-cheeked, his hands on the barrier, staring back at Harry intently.

“Holy shit,” he whispered to himself, swallowing slowly, wondering what to do. He looked behind him, praying Liam would appear out of nowhere to talk to him, but of course he didn't. Harry was alone, and he had to make the right decision.

“Harry, please.”

Louis’ voice was soft but it carried over to Harry as if he were stood next to him. Harry watched as Louis pulled out his phone, holding it up. His heart fell as Harry realised Louis was trying to take a photo of him, and he didn't hesitate in taking a few steps to the side, muttering in the ear of the security guard.

“Lee, can you get that guy to leave please? The one in the scrubs. I think he’s here to cause trouble.”

“No problem, Mr Styles.”

Lee quickly headed towards the barricade and stood in front of Louis, speaking to him in a tone that offered no arguments. Harry watched as Louis started gesticulating, clearly arguing back, his voice becoming raised. Guilt started to gnaw at Harry’s insides as he saw Louis’ eyes pleading over to him, practically begging him to put an end to this, but he couldn’t. His hand came down to cup his bump again, and Louis’ eyes followed the action from afar, his jaw dropping when he saw what he was doing.

“Harry, I just want to talk-”

This time, Harry didn't hang around. He turned on his heel and walked away, ignoring the shouts from behind him, his eyes burning with tears. He broke into a jog, stumbling into his trailer and slamming the door behind him, not bothering to hold back his sobs. The tears tumbled down his cheeks now, and Harry staggered his way to the back corner, sinking down onto the floor. He couldn’t bring his knees up to his chest as he normally would be because of his bump, so he left his legs outstretched on the floor in front of him while he cradled his belly, head rested against a wall as he cried.

His whole body was wracked with sobs by now, and Harry’s throat was hurting, his back was protesting from the uncomfortable floor, and he needed to pee, but he ignored all of that in lieu of staying hidden away where no-one, least of all Louis, could get to him. It felt like hours later that there was finally a tap at the door, and it slowly creaked opened. Harry whimpered at the fact someone was walking in, but he felt nothing but relief upon seeing it was just Liam.

“Hazza…” he said, sinking down onto the floor next to his best friend and pulling him into his side. “Lee found me outside, told me what happened with that guy by the barrier. Who was that?"

Harry just sniffed, not sure he trusted himself to speak just yet. He shook his head, letting his curls fall across his eyes. 

“Harry, it was Louis, wasn’t it?”

He wasn’t surprised somehow that Liam had guessed just who the mystery man was, and he nodded miserably.

“Yeah. I… it was Lou. Louis, he said his name was. He's like a doctor or a nurse, or something. But he was trying to take pictures, Li. I couldn’t let him, I don’t want him to use me. I can’t let him sell me and my baby out.”

“I get that, I do. But is there a chance you’re wrong about that?”

Harry shook his head frantically, more sure than ever he’d made the right decision. His breath was coming in shallow gasps by now, and he clutched the sleeve of Liam’s jacket, shaking as he looked him in the eye.

“No. I’m not wrong, I saw him, Liam. He was trying to take a picture. With his phone. But I can’t. I can’t let him. I have to protect my baby. They need me to protect them, I can’t-”

The next thing Harry knew, everything was going black.

*****

“Fucking stupid ignorant twat, cockhead knob, can’t fucking stand the shit bag,” Louis cursed, letting his shoes fly off his feet and across the room. He dumped his jacket on the sofa and stamped angrily through to his bedroom, pulling off his scrubs the minute he got inside. He let the cool air of the room wash over his body, but it did little to calm him down. He didn't bother with a shower, not needing any time to think.

Instead, he reached into his drawers and pulled out a tatty old tank top that had more holes than was socially acceptable, and a set of grey jogging bottoms, stained from when he’d painted his room a few years ago. He then stalked into the kitchen, selecting a heavy metal playlist on Spotify, which soon filled the kitchen through the bluetooth speaker perched on the windowsill. Louis liked how the loud music stopped the thoughts whirring in his head, and he reached into the cupboard under the sink for the rubber gloves and cleaning caddy he knew Niall kept stowed there.

He roughly pulled on the gloves, still muttering angrily about Harry under his breath as he listened to Slipknot scream their way through a song, and he grabbed the oven cleaner, yanking the door open. He coated the glass in cleaner, scrubbing roughly at it with one of the scrubbing pads, creating suds and a horrible stink. Still, it was better than thinking about what had happened at the movie set just under an hour ago.

Louis’ shift at the hospital had ended with a cute patient who thanked Louis with a hug around his waist for helping remove the little bead that she’d wedged in her ear, proudly taking it home to show her big brother. Niall had text him as he walked home, telling him he’d seen paparazzi pictures online proving Harry was on-set again, and that he should go back and see if he could see him. For some reason, Louis had thought it was a good idea and had made a detour, arriving fifteen minutes later, joining some of the already waiting crowds, hoping for a glimpse of the stars.

A small group had left after a while, and Louis had wriggled his way to the front, pushing up onto his tiptoes to see if he could catch a glimpse of the father of his child. Louis was close to heading home when excited chatter rose up, and he caught someone saying Harry was on his way. Louis felt nervous, but when he saw a familiar silhouette approach, he realised it was now or never. He’d called Harry’s name, trying to get his attention, and when that failed, he yelled out his name, hoping Harry would recognise that much at least.

It appeared he had, as Harry paused, turning to look at Louis. However, instead of the excitement Louis had been hoping to see, he had only seen fear in Harry’s eyes. His phone vibrated against his hip then, and Louis pulled out, cursing Niall under his breath when he saw it was his best mate asking if he was there yet. But by the time he looked back to find Harry, a security guard was in front of him, asking him to leave. Louis had tried to protest but it was to no avail. He’d left, sticking up his middle finger to the guard, and had stomped angrily home, wishing he hadn’t bothered wasting two more hours of his day.

“What the fuck is this racket?” 

Louis didn't bother to look up as he heard Zayn walk into the kitchen behind him before he lowered the volume of the music. Louis kept scrubbing at the oven door, focused on his task.

“Lou? What’s up?”

“Nothing,” he replied, pulling out one of the oven shelves. He started using the scourer to clean off the wire bars, trying to tune back in to the music that was now too low to distort his thoughts. 

“Louis, stop. You’re stress cleaning again. So now, you’re going to stop and tell me what the fuck is going on.”

Louis stayed quiet for a while, and Zayn just waited patiently, just as Louis knew he would. He made them both cups of tea, and sat at the table while Louis finished cleaning the oven, feeling a little heady now from the fumes of the cleaners he’d used. Eventually, he got to his feet and pulled off the gloves, dumping the cleaning pad in the bin and the gloves in the sink. He turned round, gripping the worktop behind him.

“Talk to me, bud.”

There was silence for a moment, and Louis sighed, not sure how to word it.

“Louis, come on. Is it Harry? Have you heard from him?”

“Not exactly,” Louis scoffed, finally pushing away from the worktop and sinking into the chair opposite Zayn. He dragged the lukewarm tea cup over to him and took a sip, ignoring the fact it was barely tepid now. “I went to his set again, Zayn. Ni told me he was there."

“Oh. Oh, okay. Did you get a chance to speak to him?”

“No I fucking didn't!” Louis burst out, the rage finally spilling out of him. “He is such a stuck up wanker, Z. I shouted over to him, tried to get him to see it was me, and when he did, he set his fucking security guards on me!”

“He what?” Zayn said, clearly shocked at what had happened.

“You heard right. He didn't even want to give me the fucking time of day, fucking cock. Wouldn’t look at me, stupid fucking twat. My poor kid is stuck with him as their father, and I’m not going to get near them now, am I?”

“Hey, come on, you don’t know that…”

“I do. I do fucking know that. I saw that today. He’s going to have my baby and keep me away. I’m obviously not good enough to be part of his world, Z. He seemed like such a normal guy when I brought him home. What the fuck changed, huh? If I knew what an arsehole he was, I’d never have fucked him in the first place.”

All of the fight left Louis at that, and he slumped down over the table, his forehead resting on the cool surface. He felt Zayn’s hand rest on his back, willing him to calm down. He breathed deeply for a moment, angry at himself for speaking badly about Harry, angry at Harry for turning him away when all he wanted to do was talk. This whole thing was a mess.

“Zayn, he’s not going to let me see my kid. That’s my baby, too, as much as it is his. I’m not going to be part of their life because he’s so selfish.”

“Shit mate, I’m so sorry. Is there no way you can make this work?”

“I don’t see how,” Louis shrugged, feeling like the situation was more helpless than ever. Before he’d seen Harry, there was a glimmer of hope that if they met again, things would be good between them, that they’d talk and work out a way of making it work. But now Harry had so publicly rejected him, Louis didn't know how things were going to get any better than they were right now. “I just want to be a dad to my baby, Z. That’s all. If he doesn’t want anything to do with me, that’s fine. But that’s my child inside him. And he doesn’t know me well enough to know that I’m not going to take this lying down. One way or another, I will be a father to that child.”

“There’s the Lou I know and love,” Zayn said, clapping his mate on the back. “Look, let me see if there’s anything I can do.”

“There isn’t,” Louis snapped back, hating that everyone thought they could do anything.

“It’s worth a try. Just let me do some digging. You never know.”

Chapter Text

Harry picked up the box of baby clothes that arrived the week before and stowed them safely in his wardrobe, out of sight of prying eyes. He looked around his bedroom, smoothing out the fabric of his duvet as he made sure there was nothing embarrassing in view. There wasn’t a chance in hell his guest would make it anywhere near his bedroom, but still, Harry wanted everything to be perfect. He was dreading being judged as it was, and the horrible swirly sickness feeling floating around his body was back in full force.

He pulled off the dirty t-shirt he’d worn to hoover his flat that morning and walked to his drawers, pulling out a soft yellow maternity shirt that he’d bought earlier that week. Liam had called him two days after the fateful day at the set where he’d seen Louis, and broke the news that he’d somehow got in contact with Louis and arranged a meeting. Harry had been beyond livid, ignoring Liam for the following few days, but when Liam had eventually turned up with Harry’s favourite takeaway, he’d calmed down enough to listen to his side of the story.

“You can talk while I eat,” Harry mumbled, filling his plate with as much of the takeaway as he could, leaving Liam just a little of everything. He was eating for two now, and he was most definitely making the most of that fact. “I’m listening. And it better be good.”

“So, the day after you saw Louis on set, I got a weird DM on Twitter,” Liam began, pushing his noodles around his plate, eyes flitting up and down to watch Harry, who was eating eagerly. “It was from this guy, Zayn, saying he was Louis’ best mate, and he needed to arrange something between you and him.”

“You just took the word of a stranger and now he’s coming to my house?!” Harry shrieked, spraying noodles all over the table in his horror. “Liam, I seriously wonder about your sanity at times.”

“Just stop,” Liam said, reaching for a piece of kitchen towel to clean up the table. “I asked for proof that he really knew Louis. He sent me a few old photos of the pair of them, he even sent me a photo of Louis’ driving licence. He seemed legit.”

“Right,” Harry said, spudding a chicken ball on his fork, wondering for a moment if he could fit the whole thing in his mouth at once. “So, you agreed to this nonsense why exactly?”

“Zayn said Louis was heartbroken,” Liam mumbled, making Harry stop mid-chew. It was the last thing he had expected to hear, and suddenly, Harry needed to hear more. “He’s really scared he’s not going to be allowed to be part of this baby’s life. Apparently, he just wanted to talk when he came to the set, and he was really pissed off you just dismissed him.”

“He was the one trying to sell me out!” Harry said emphatically, not wanting to come across as the bad guy. “Please don’t tell me you’re on his side now, Liam-”

“I’m on your side, of course I am,” Liam acquiesced. “But I think he deserves to be heard out. You can ask him about everything, why he was trying to take your picture. He deserves that, at least. Last thing you want is him going to the papers, making out you’re keeping him away from his kid.”

“You think he’d do that?” Harry asked. He hadn’t considered that at all, and the idea of it was petrifying. Harry had spent years cultivating a good public image, and the realisation Louis could undo all of that in seconds was frightening. “Shit-”

“I’m not saying he would,” Liam hurried to say, keen not to panic Harry. “But we don’t really want to give him that opportunity, do we? I think if you just met him, you could sort something out, pacify him for now at least.”

As always, Liam had talked Harry around, and now, Harry was awaiting Louis’ arrival at his flat. It wasn’t the first time they’d met, of course, but Harry felt like it was. He was nervous to see the man whose baby he was carrying inside him, and he was scared of being judged. He was dreading Louis thinking he looked fat and awful, and he looked down at the maternity shirt he’d chosen, wondering if he looked even bigger like this.

The ping of his phone dragged him out of his thoughts, and he saw it was Liam. He walked through to the living room, sitting on the sofa as he tapped out a reply, telling Liam he was fine, that he hated him for putting him through this, and he’d text him after. He glanced around the living room at the photos, seeing a copy of the scan photo on his mantelpiece, nestled there amongst photos of him and his mum and sister, one of him and Liam at the BAFTAs last summer, and him and his beloved grandmother. He swallowed down a lump in his throat as he thought about the fact that she’d never get the chance to meet her first great-grandchild.

Harry sat there in silence, tapping his foot on the floor until the doorbell rang, signifying Louis’ arrival. Harry stood up and smoothed out his shirt, double checking his reflection in the mirror as he walked into the hallway, his shaking hand resting on the handle for a moment while he gathered a little courage. He slowly opened the door, and there he was, stood in front of him, no barrier separating them this time, no Lee to call on if things went tits up.

“Uh, hi,” Harry began, trying desperately to read Louis’ face but there was nothing there. His face was kind, but devoid of any strong emotion, and Harry hated that there wasn’t even a flicker of recognition in Louis’ eyes. “You, um, you can come in, if you want?”

“Alright,” Louis said, his voice raspy and perfectly high pitched, quite the opposite of Harry’s. He couldn’t help but wonder for a moment if they had a son, who he’d end up sounding more like when he was older. “You want me to take off my shoes?”

“I’ve got floorboards,” Harry said, shaking his head. “I don’t mind, but, uh, thanks for asking.”

“No worries. Mum always taught me to ask.”

Silence fell heavily again, and Harry led the way through to the sitting room, indicating with his hand that Louis could sit. As he did, Harry let his eyes take in the sight of the other man opposite him. His legs were encased in dark skinny jeans, very different to the baggy scrubs he’d seen in him at the set last week, and he loved how curvy Louis’ thighs were as they rested against his sofa. He had a red t-shirt on his upper body, a few tattoos peeking out from under the short sleeves, and Harry bit back the urge to ask if he had any more, unable to remember from the night they’d spent together.

“Would you like a drink? Something to eat?” Harry offered, ever the perfect host.

“A tea would be good. No sugar, splash of milk,” Louis asked, and Harry nodded, getting to his feet as gracefully as he could before he walked to the kitchen. He’d boiled the kettle shortly before Louis had arrived, so it didn't take too long for it to boil again. He reached up for the good mugs which were on the top shelf, his shirt riding up as he did so, but when he put them down, he saw Louis stood there, staring at him, at the swell of his belly.

“Oh. Um… I just wondered if you needed a hand, but it looks like it’s under control.”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Just… you can go and sit and wait for me.” Harry winced at the rigidity of his voice, not sure where it was coming from, but Louis just nodded and disappeared, leaving Harry to finish up the drinks, guilt sitting uneasily in his tummy. When he was done, he picked up the mugs by the handles and walked through carefully, not wanting to trip over and spill the hot liquid all over himself. He stilled as he entered the living room, seeing Louis stood there with the small frame containing the scan photo in his hand.

“Is this-”

Harry just nodded, taking the few steps over to the coffee table, setting down the mugs.

“Yeah. That was my eight week scan.”

“Right.” Louis looked nervously over to Harry for a moment, biting his lip until finally, he spoke, voicing what had clearly been on his mind for a while. “I hate to ask this but I have to. This baby... it is mine, right?”

“Yeah. Yes. It’s your baby, Louis. You were the first guy I’ve slept with in a long time. There’s no doubt it’s your child.”

Harry wasn’t upset by the question. He understood why Louis had to ask, and he’d rather get it cleared it up now than leave any kind of doubt at all.

“Alright. Well, good to know.”

Louis reached out and took a cup, sipping on it gingerly as Harry sat back down on the armchair, watching Louis as he kept hold of the photo, not wanting to let it go just yet. Harry could see the fondness settle in his face as his eyes scanned the image, marvelling over it just as Harry had done the first time he’d seen it. It made Harry realise that this was all new to Louis, and he was determined to make this as easy for the other man as he could.

“You can ask me anything, if you want to,” Harry said hesitantly, locking eyes with Louis for a moment. “About me, or the baby. I don’t know how much you know already about pregnancy, or whatever-”

“A fair bit,” Louis answered, cutting off a surprised Harry. “I’m a nurse. I work in paediatrics, with kids, but I obviously did the usual rotations, did a stint in Maternity and Paternity before I specialised.”

“Oh right. That sounds cool. I did wonder when I saw you in scrubs the other day…”

“I don’t wear them by choice,” Louis joked, smiling for the first time, and the sight totally melted Harry’s heart. Louis’ eyes crinkled beautifully at the corners when he smiled, and the way his lips moved into a little V made Harry’s heart skip a beat. Harry didn't bother to hide his own smile now, and it felt like it eased a bit of the tension somewhat. “So… how have you been? With the pregnancy, I mean?”

“Yeah, alright,” Harry nodded, absentmindedly rubbing his belly again as he always did whenever he talked about the baby. “I had a bit of sickness at first, but it’s started to taper off a bit now, thank god. I find as long as I eat regularly, it’s all good.”

Louis just nodded, seemingly pleased with the response. Harry watched him set the photo back on the mantlepiece, coming to sit back down and join Harry now. 

“And the baby? Have you felt anything? I mean, I don’t… how many weeks are you?”

“Seventeen,” Harry replied, a proud smile on his face. “Eighteen on Thursday. I can’t believe I’m already nearly halfway. I have felt some flutters, like butterflies in my tummy. It’s nice, knowing they’re there. But no proper kicks yet. I did some research, and the books and apps all say about twenty four weeks?”

“Yeah, that sounds right,” Louis agreed. “Usually with first time pregnancies, you start feeling proper kicks anywhere from twenty weeks, but it’s usually a bit later, especially in male pregnancy. You’ll know when you do, though. It’ll be totally different from the other flutters you’ve felt. I’m glad you’ve felt something, though. The other parents-to-be I’ve worked with have told me it’s reassuring.”

“It is, definitely. I talk to them a lot, the baby, I mean. I hope they’ll know my voice when they’re born.”

“Right,” Louis nodded, his face going serious again. “You’ve got a midwife?”

“Yes, I’m with a private clinic. It was just easier, especially as I didn't plan on making the baby public news just yet. But hey, the paps put paid to that, didn't they?” 

Harry felt tension creeping back in, and he suddenly felt a need to make it all okay again, to make Louis smile as he had done before.

“Louis, I…” Harry took a breath, hating how his voice was shaking. “I hate that you found out the way that you did. If it was up to me, I’d have told you myself, but it was taken out of my hands. I’m really sorry for that.”

“I get that. Even I could see you didn't know those pictures were being taken. That must be the shitty part of your life, I guess.”

“I hate it,” Harry shrugged, being honest now. “They didn't care that they were outing me and my pregnancy by publishing those photos. My friends and family found out that way too, Louis. You know how hard it was for me to hear my mum crying on the phone because she knew how devastated I’d be by those photos?”

Louis shook his head. “Must have been horrible. I’m sorry.”

Harry didn't want to get emotional about this, but he felt it was heading that way already. Just reliving those moments was making him feel sick, and as he had done countless times before, he wished everything was different. But it wasn’t, and this was his reality. He had to suck it up and make it work.

“What I don’t understand, though,” Louis began, setting his now empty cup on the table, his hands laced together in his lap as he leaned forward. “Is why you turned me away last week when I came to see you. I only wanted to talk, Harry. And you treated me like some crazy fan and got your security to throw me out. Do you have any idea how that felt?”

“I-” Harry stuttered, guilt the prominent emotion once more. “I thought you were trying to take pictures of me, to sell them off or something, or use them against me-”

“I would never- what? Where did you get that idea?” 

Louis looked angry all of a sudden, and Harry shrank back, realising he’d got it all wrong.

“You had your phone, the camera was aimed at me, I thought-”

“I got a text, Harry! My mate Niall, who told me you were filming, was asking if I’d made it, if I’d seen you. If you bothered to look back, you’d have seen me put it away before I was fucking frogmarched out of there in front of everyone. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered, willing himself not to cry, not now. He needed Louis to take him seriously, and he wasn’t sure being a snotty mess gave over the right image. He wasn’t even sure Louis had heard his pathetic apology, but he couldn’t bring himself to repeat it. The air in his flat felt heavy again, and Harry started pulling at a thread on his shirt, letting it unravel slowly, which he felt was a metaphor for how he felt this meeting was going.

“Look, if I can be honest,” Louis said, breaking the silence again, a steely look on his face. “I just want to be part of my baby’s life, Harry. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, far from it. This is an awkward situation for the pair of us, but we have to make this work, one way or another. My dad wasn’t in my life, and I’m not going to do that to my own child, not when I know how shit it feels.”

Harry nodded, pleased that Louis was being so open with him. He could see how affected Louis was as he spoke about his dad, and he wondered if Louis would ever open up properly up about it at some point. 

“I don’t want to presume anything about us. But if we can, I’d like us to be friends, Harry. We’re having a baby together, and while I can’t really provide much in terms of money and stuff, I can promise you my time and my support.”

Harry knew it was hopeless in holding back in his tears now, and he let them fall. Louis got up and Harry wondered if he was leaving, but he smiled up gratefully as Louis knelt in front of him, a box of tissues in his hand. Harry pulled a few from the box and wiped his tears before he started to speak again. 

“I just … Louis, I need you to understand this. My life, it’s not easy. I don’t want to drag you into the mess I’m already in. I don’t want you to feel obligated to deal with me because of this. This life… it’s not for everyone, I get that. Once you’re seen with me, they’ll want to know everything about you, especially when they realise you’re the father of my baby. I need you to be sure of what you want, before you agree to this.”

“I’m sure of the fact I want to be a father to our baby, Harry. And don’t think I haven’t sat at home since I found out who you were and that you were having my kid wondering how this would work. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to help you, and to raise our baby together. I’m not daft. I know it’s not all going to be easy, but if you’re willing to go through this, I’ll be by your side. As your friend. If you want that.”

“I do,” Harry nodded, immensely grateful for how wonderful Louis was being so far. He’d had enough nightmares about this meeting, but Louis was making everything seem so easy. Harry wasn’t sure how he had got so lucky, and he gave Louis a small smile. Louis tentatively rested his hand on Harry’s thigh, the first touch they’d shared that day. Harry tried not to react, but he felt like his skin was on fire where Louis’ hand was sat. 

“That photo,” Harry mumbled, nodding to the scan picture on the mantlepiece. “You can have it.”

“Isn’t it yours?” Louis asked, his eyes lighting up at Harry’s words.

“I’ve got another one in my room,” Harry said as Louis got up, picking up the photo again. “Keep the frame, too. It looks cute in there.”

“Thank you,” Louis said, staring reverently at the image again. “It’s just… it’s amazing, isn’t it? That this is our baby. That they’re growing inside you, right now.”

“You’re a nurse, and you’re amazed people can have babies?” Harry joked, and he loved how Louis threw his head back at that, laughing loudly and unabashedly. It faded into the cutest giggle Harry thought he’d ever heard in his life, and suddenly, Harry wanted to make it his life mission to Louis laugh like that every single day. “But, no, I get what you mean. We made an actual human, Lou.”

Harry blushed as the nickname slipped past his lips, but Louis just smiled at him.

“We did.” His eyes dipped to the swell of Harry’s stomach again, the exact shape of his bump hidden under his shirt. “Can I… um… and you can say no, I won’t be upset… can I touch your bump?”

Harry nodded quickly, not wanting Louis to think he didn't want him to touch. Louis’ hand reached out slowly, and Harry saw him swallow and lick his lips before he pressed his palm flat on the round swell of his stomach, resting it lightly there for a moment. Harry just stared at Louis’ hand there, and he was filled with the thought that this was it. This was what he wanted. The father of his baby in their life, supporting him, being there.

“I have a scan. In two weeks. The twenty week one. I’d love for you to come, if you want to?”

“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” Louis grinned back, keeping his hand on Harry’s belly. “We can swap numbers, you could call me and tell me where it is and when?”

“I was kind of hoping I’d see you before that?” Harry blurted out, clapping his hand over his mouth when he realised what he’d said. “If you want to, that is. Don’t feel like I’m pressuring you or anything, but-”

“No, that sounds good. I’d still like to swap numbers though, in case you need me for whatever reason.”

“Definitely,” Harry agreed, wriggling slightly as his back muscles twinged again, making him wince. “Don’t worry, it’s just my back. It’ll be alright when I get up and get moving again. It was bad before I got pregnant, nothing new.”

Louis nodded and withdrew his hand, and Harry tried not to pout at the loss of contact between them.

“Thank you, Harry,” Louis whispered, his voice soft, words just for the two of them.

“It’s me who should be thanking you,” Harry replied, looking up shyly at Louis. “For not giving up on me… on us. For wanting to be here.”

Louis just nodded, and he rested his hand on Harry’s wrist for a moment. Somehow, Harry knew it was all going to be alright.

*****

Louis barely put his hand on the door handle to his flat when it was flung open from the inside, his flatmate and their best friend peering out at him, looking eagerly at a stunned Louis.

“Erm, can I come in?” he asked, and had to force his way through as they followed him.

“So? How did it go? Was he a twat?” Niall asked, and Louis just rolled his eyes, knowing his mates would just want gossip. “Lewis, talk to me. I have a right to know.”

“If anyone has a right to know,” Zayn argued back, elbowing Niall in the rubs. “It’s me. I set this whole thing up. You can thank me later, Tommo.”

“As beautiful as you are, no thanks,” Louis deadpanned, making Niall cackle as they all walked into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of beer each from the fridge. “But yeah, it went well. Really well, actually.”

“Seriously?” Niall said with surprise, having expected things to have gone wrong from the moment the two men were reunited. “But he kicked you off the set the other day-”

“That was a misunderstanding,” Louis said, wafting his hand through the air, dismissing Niall’s claims. “He was scared I was trying to take photos or something, but I had my phone because you text me. He apologised for that. Several times, actually.”

“Well, that’s decent of him,” Zayn said, kicking his feet up on the coffee table. “So what went down, then?”

Louis proceeded to talk them through the meeting, about how he and Harry had talked, both admitted they wanted to be friends, that they both wanted Louis to be part of the baby’s life. They both grinned widely at that, and Louis suddenly sat up, going back to where he’d hung up his jacket and bag, taking out the little frame Harry had given him.

“Look, lads. It’s baby Tommo.”

Zayn took the frame and smiled fondly down at it for a moment before he handed it to Niall,  who squinted and frowned, turning it upside down for a second.

“Niall, what are you-”

“Where is it?” he asked, shoving it back in Louis’ hand.

“Dickhead,” he mumbled, pointing on the glass screen to where his tiny baby was. His eyes skimmed over where it said STYLES, HARRY EDWARD along the top, the man’s green eyes and curly hair filling his mind again for a second. “There, look. It’s only an embryo really, but he’s got another scan in a few weeks. I’ll get another photo then.”

“You’re going with him?” Niall asked, and Louis nodded, not even trying to hide his smile. “That’s so cool, mate. I’m really glad it all worked out. I mean, I know you’ve got shit to work out, but it’s a good start, yeah?”

“It is,” Louis agreed, standing up and putting the photo on the windowsill, loving that he had a photo of his baby in his home. It made everything more real, and Louis couldn’t wait to add more photos to it as Harry’s pregnancy progressed. “Pizza for dinner, boys?”

Niall nodded and walked off to the kitchen, no doubt to collect the pile of takeaway menus they kept in the drawer there. Louis sat back down next to Zayn and turned to his friend, nudging him gently.

“Oi. Thanks. For setting this up, I mean. I really appreciate it, you know.”

“I could see how much it meant to you,” Zayn replied, flinging an arm around Louis’ shoulders. “You’re going to be a great dad, you know that? This baby is lucky to have you. So is Harry, for that matter. He’ll see it, sooner or later.”

“Maybe,” Louis mused, looking as Niall barrelled into the room, menus in his hands. “What are we feeling tonight, Nialler?”

“S’gotta be Domino’s, I reckon,” Niall said almost to himself, pulling the right menu out of the stack. “Yep. Without a doubt. I’m craving the Big Pepperoni one.”

“Sounds good to me,” Louis agreed as Zayn echoed that, and Niall pulled up the app, quickly making the order. “Another beer, lads?”

*****

Two days later, Louis was on an early shift, and it was already mid-morning. The children’s A&E department had been busy given it was half term, and kids had been tumbling off climbing frames left, right and centre, meaning Louis and his staff hadn’t even had a chance for a break before more patients turned up either by ambulance or with concerned parents.

“Louis, bay six, please,” called Rosemary, one of the Sisters called over, drafted in to help with the rush, and Louis nodded, coating his hands in antibacterial gel as he walked inside the bay, seeing a mother sat there with a quiet baby in her arms. Louis smiled at them and sat down.

“Hi, I’m Louis, I’m one of the nurses here. How can I help you today?”

“Uh, Rosie hasn’t been feeding well over the past few days, she’s very lethargic, and generally not like herself. I know it’s probably silly to bring her in, but-”

“No, don’t think that. You know your baby better than anyone, and if you’re worried, you did the right thing bringing her in. Do you mind laying her on the bed for me, and taking off her babygro so I can have a look at her?”

The woman nodded and did as Louis asked while he scanned the notes on the computer before he stood up, heading to the bed. The little girl was laid out on her back on the bed, a dummy in her mouth, barely moving. Her big blue eyes blinked up at Louis, and he smiled at her, pulling a funny face which drew a slight smile out of her.

“She’s gorgeous. Seven months old?”

“Yes, just two days ago,” her mum agreed, watching as Louis took her temperature first, following by checking her over.

“Her nappy is pretty dry, was she changed recently?”

“A few hours ago. She isn’t wanting any fluids at all, I’m really struggling to get her to take anything.”

“Okay. I can see a few tiny spots on her back here, see? It looks like it could be the start of chicken pox, but she seems quite under the weather for that. I’m going to draw some blood, and I think we’ll get her admitted for some IV fluids. I don’t think it’s anything immediately concerning, but I’d rather be sure.”

“Oh gosh, but she’s so little,” her mother fretted as Louis stepped away, gathering the things he needed to perform a blood draw. “I don’t think I can-”

“Not a problem. I’ll get one of my colleagues in to assist me. It can be distressing, but please don’t worry, I’ll take good care of her.”

Rosie’s mum kissed her cheek and stepped out of the curtain while Louis scooped up the little girl, holding her to his chest as he walked out, calling over his colleague, Wendy. She smiled at the sight of Louis with a baby, and he sat on the bed, holding the baby’s arm firmly enough that Wendy could take the blood she needed, Rosie barely whimpering as the needle pierced her skin. She grumbled quietly and then began a weak cry as her mum came in the room, a small white bandage around her hand where the blood had been taken from.

“Is she alright?” Rosie’s mum asked as she saw Louis rocking her sad daughter, shushing her quietly. He nodded, and passed the infant back to her mother, watching the tiny baby relax back into her mother’s familiar embrace. “You were so good with her… thank you so much. I’m guessing you like babies?”

“I do, a lot,” Louis grinned, adding to the note son the computer. His heart started to quicken as he smiled to himself, knowing what he was going to admit to. “Actually, I’m going to be a dad soon.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” the woman exclaimed, happiness evident in her tone. “Your wife must be so excited-”

“My partner is, yeah,” Louis agreed, and the woman blushed, realising she’d got her assumption wrong. “He’s nearly eighteen weeks, coping really well. He’s glowing, it suits him, I think. Being pregnant, I mean.”

“I loved it… carrying a new life inside me,” Rosie’s mum admitted as a porter arrived to take them up to the PICU where Rosie was going to be admitted for now. “Thank you for taking such good care of my daughter, and good luck with your partner’s pregnancy. I hope all goes well. Enjoy being a dad!”

“Oh, I will,” Louis agreed, running his hand over Rosie’s head, the little girl almost asleep again. “Take care. I’ll try and check in on her later when things have calmed down here a bit.”

The porter left, and Louis took the chance to escape to the staff room, using the loo quickly and making a drink while he had five minutes. He checked his phone in his pocket, and saw he had a text from Harry.

Harry: How’s your day? Just wanted to let you know I felt more flutters this morning. Won’t be long until he/she is kicking away!

Louis: All good, busy but good. I told someone today I’m going to be a dad. Didn't mention names, but it felt good to say it to someone other than my mates.

Harry: That’s awesome, Lou. I’m glad you told someone. Makes it feel more real, doesn’t it? Saying you’re going to be a daddy, I mean.

Louis: Yep. Got to go back to work. I’ll call you later?

Harry: Looking forward to it! Don’t work too hard! X

Louis was about to put his phone away again when it pinged, this time with a photo, and he opened it to see a photo of Harry in a mirror, a hand on his bump, wearing a tight t-shirt that emphasised his belly, smiling broadly at the camera. He bit his lip, his own tummy doing butterflies at that sight, and before he could do something silly like call Harry and tell him how beautiful he looked like that, he shoved his phone in his pocket, the image already burned into his mind as he stepped out onto the busy hospital floor.

“Louis, paediatric red phone, ETA three minutes!”

Louis switched straight back into professional mode and grabbed an apron, yanking it over his head as he prepared for the arrival of the critical case, pushing thoughts of Harry and his unborn baby to the back of his mind, but only for now.

Chapter Text

It had been ten days since Louis had arrived at Harry’s, and they’d broken the ice between them. Since then, they’d spent a fair bit of time together, getting to know each other, talking about their unborn baby, how things were going to go. All Harry knew was that the more time he spent with Louis, the less he wanted him to leave. Now, though, he was awake, the morning was relatively dark as October faded into November, and he was cocooned in his bed, warm and cosy.

“Morning, little one,” he murmured, rubbing his stomach. He was still yet to feel proper kicks, but the flutters of movement were becoming more prominent as the pregnancy continued. Louis was desperate to feel some kind of movement now, and Harry wished there was some way he could feel this too. Louis was always so happy for him when Harry gasped, feeling more movement, but it didn't stop Harry feeling slightly guilty Louis couldn’t join in with his excitement just yet. “Why do you always make me want to pee when I’m all warm and cosy, hmm?”

He reluctantly got out of bed, swinging his legs out into the cool air. The heating hadn’t clicked on yet, but Harry decided it was probably time to get that going. He didn't want to risk getting poorly while he was pregnant. He tiptoed down the hallway and used the toilet, groaning at his pale complexion in the mirror as he washed his hands, grabbing a headband to pull his hair out of his face, wondering if he should get a cut, when the doorbell rang. Harry frowned, wondering who would be calling at this hour, and he walked to the door, leaving on the security chain as he cracked it open.

“Let me in, Haz, it’s bloody freezing!” Louis said, and Harry grinned, closing the door enough to slide the chain across, and then he opened it fully, letting Louis in. He’d clearly come from a shift, in his scrubs, glasses perched on his nose. Harry shivered at the cold of gust of wind he brought in with him, and Louis just smiled, shrugging off his coat and hanging it on Harry’s coat rack like he’d been doing it for years, not just days. “How are you and my baby?”

“We’re good, Lou,” Harry smiled, quickly hugging Louis. That was another recent development between the pair. Harry had always been a hugger, and once he’d divulged that information to Louis, they’d decided hugging hello and goodbye was a perfectly acceptable thing for them to do. Harry loved it, loved how small Louis felt against his body, how his bump nestled against Louis’ firm stomach. He tried not to whine when Louis pulled away, bustling into Harry’s kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. “I’ll have one if you’re making them?”

“Sure, Haz,” Louis said, as Harry sat down on the sofa, pulling a blanket over his legs. It wasn’t long until Louis came in, balancing two cups of tea in his hands. “God, it was so busy at work again today.”

Harry listened intently as Louis started to talk about the various patients he’d seen that day, and he was proud of his job, how well he managed to run his department. It seemed so much more important than Harry’s job, he literally had life and death in his hands on some days, and Harry wasn’t sure how he coped with the pressure. Harry’s tea disappeared quickly, warming him inside, and he didn't miss how Louis sat next to him instead of over on the armchair where he usually sat.

Harry also loved how easily conversation between the two happened as well. He recounted what he’d done on set the day before, managing to shoot scenes before the skies opened and the rain pounded down, everyone barely getting somewhere dry before they got soaked. Harry had sat in his trailer until it had relented slightly, and he and Liam had run back to the car to bring him back home, his manager staying until the rain let up enough for him to get an Uber home, Harry now more than ready for bed given the late hour. It had been a fun evening with his manager, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d have enjoyed it more if it had been Louis with him, not Liam.

“Hey, I brought something for us,” Louis grinned suddenly, leaping up from where he was sat and heading over to his bag, which was left by the door. “We absolutely don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but I know you’ve struggled with the fact I haven’t felt any movement yet so I thought this might be an idea?” 

He held up a funny looking little machine, and Harry frowned, wondering what it was. There was a handheld device of some sort, with a curly wire and then what looked like a mini microphone on the end. Louis laughed at seeing Harry’s confused expression, and he sat next to him again, leaving the device in his lap.

“You not seen one before?”

Harry shook his head, eager to find out what Louis’ plan was. 

“It’s a doppler, Harry. I borrowed it from the hospital. It allows us to hear the heartbeat. I assume you’ve done that already?”

“Yeah, they let me hear it for a bit at my twelve week scan. I’m sorry I didn't think to record it or anything-”

“Hey, no, don’t worry about it! I just thought this might be fun, something we can do together? But again, I promise this is all up to you. If you don’t want to-”

“Can we do it now?” Harry blurted out, feeling more than excited. “Please? I’d really love to hear them, Lou, and for you to as well.”

“Yeah, sure. Um, it’s probably best if you lay down on the bed, so you’re all relaxed…”

Harry nodded and let Louis help him to his feet, leading his way to the bedroom. Harry paused for a moment, realising that Louis hadn’t actually been in his bedroom before, but he pushed on, walking over to the bed which was still rumpled from his sleep. He was glad the rest of the room was tidy, and he shoved the quilt down to the end of the bed, making room. He laid down on his back, head on the pillows as Louis followed him in, the machine in his hand, and a small bottle too.

“What’s that for?” Harry asked, nodding towards the tube.

“It’s a gel, helps me move the doppler around on your belly easier,” Louis said, hovering at the side of the bed. “Uh… you need to lift your shirt up for me so I can get to your bump-”

Harry didn't think before he yanked his t-shirt off over his head, baring himself to Louis for the first time. He noticed how Louis’ gaze lingered on him for a moment, and how his cheeks quickly reddened at the sight of Harry’s body. He’d always felt Harry’s bump over whichever clothing he was wearing at the time, but now, this felt like a lot. Harry felt very exposed laying like this, but he wasn’t ashamed of his pregnant body, far from it.

“You can touch the bump, if you want to,” he said softly, not wanting to break the atmosphere in the room. Louis swallowed and nodded gently before he reached out, touching Harry’s bare belly gently, his hand warm against Harry’s skin. 

“You’re getting so big,” Louis marvelled, cupping the lower part of Harry’s tummy for a moment. “I love it… means our baby is growing well in there.”

“Well, let’s hear them, then,” Harry grinned, and Louis laughed, finally removing his hand. He apologised before he squirted a blob of the gel onto Harry’s  belly, and he pushed the wand against his skin, smearing it around slightly.

“Okay, this might take me a minute, I haven’t done this for a while. If I don’t find it at first, don’t panic, okay? It can be a bit tricky.”

Harry nodded and relaxed as well as he could, tucking his hands under his head as he watched Louis work, looking professional in his scrubs, now knelt at Harry’s side, concentrating on what he was doing. There was a bit of static noise for a moment, and he could feel the pressure of Louis dragging the wand over his stomach, pressing against the full part before he moved it. All of a sudden, the room was filled with a loud whooshing sound, and he saw Louis gasp, a big smile crossing his face. His eyes filled with tears, and Harry bit his lip as he locked eyes with Louis, amazed by the sound.

“Is that the heartbeat?” he asked, and Louis just nodded, holding the wand steady as the sound pulsated from the little machine in his hand. “Oh my god, Louis…”

“It’s so strong,” Louis said, looking pleased with himself and the sound still filling the room. “Harry, that’s our baby. Just… god, I’ve heard this so many times, but knowing that’s my baby, I just-”

He pressed his lips together, his emotion overwhelming him. Harry took the wand from Louis, holding it in place as he held out his other arm, needing a hug. Louis hesitated for barely a second before he rested the doppler on Harry’s chest before he laid down next to him, their bodies lined up as the sound kept pulsing, a steady rhythm. 

“This was an amazing idea,” Harry whispered, tucking his arm around Louis. He smiled to himself as Louis’ head came to rest on his chest, his hands tucked between their bodies. “I love hearing how alive they are. I mean, I know they are because I feel them and stuff, and I’m growing, but hearing their little heart… it’s so wonderful, Lou. I love this so much.”

There was no response from Louis, and Harry tried to angle his head to see what was wrong, if Louis was upset or something.

“Lou?”

Harry was worried now, and gently lifted the doppler wand from his stomach, the room suddenly falling silent. He craned his neck and saw Louis’ eyes were shut, his lips parted slightly as he breathed deeply, sound asleep. Harry couldn’t believe this had happened already, but he smiled to himself, settling down on the bed. He reached out his free arm, grabbing a few tissues to wipe his belly off before he hooked the duvet up the bed with his foot, grateful he hadn’t bothered to kick it all the way off to the floor. He let his eyes fall shut, cosy and warm in bed with Louis by his side, the sound of his baby’s heartbeat still ringing in his ears as he allowed himself to fall back asleep.

*****

Louis jolted out of his sleep with a gasp, his heart racing. He wasn’t sure what it was he was dreaming about, but it was enough to have made him sweat, feeling all out of sorts as he stretched out his body, sighing lightly. He blinked slowly, the room clearing in his blurry vision and he frowned, realising he wasn’t in his own bed. He turned his head, seeing he was alone, and he sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. With a start, he realised it was Harry’s bedroom, and he gingerly peered under the covers, relieved to see he was still wearing his scrubs. Harry was nowhere to be seen either, but as he listened, he could hear music playing in the background.

He got out of bed and pulled the door open, following the sound of the familiar tune, smiling when he heard Harry’s deep voice singing along in the background. He leant against the doorjamb for a moment as he watched Harry dance around his kitchen, his belly prominent in the maternity shirt Harry on, but the sight just took Louis’ breath away. As Harry did another twirl, he must have sensed Louis’ presence as he stopped dancing, blushing as he laughed, leaning to turn down the music.

“Sorry, did I wake you up?” Harry asked, and Louis shook his head, wandering further into the room now. “I didn't mean to.”

“Nah, you’re alright. What time is it?”

“Just after midday,” Harry replied, resting a hand on his belly again. “You fell asleep as we were listening to the heartbeat. It must have been calming or something.”

“Stop, just makes me want to hear it again,” Louis grinned back, eyeing the half eaten plate of sandwiches on the table. “I can keep the doppler for a few days though, if you fancy giving it another go?”

Harry just nodded, stepping back over to the cupboard.

“You want something to eat?”

“I’ll make it, you rest,” Louis replied, grabbing the carton of eggs and loaf of bread. He set them on the table, then grabbed a frying pan from the rack on the wall, and a bowl and whisk. “I’m going to be brutally honest with you right now, Harry and tell you that while I know exactly what I’m planning on doing here, I haven’t got a bloody clue how to do it.”

It made the loudest belly laugh erupt from Harry then, and Louis was a bit worried for a moment that he was going to have an accident right there in the kitchen. Soon, the laughter died down, and Harry opened the box of eggs.

“Well, luckily for you, I can cook. I can give you a little lesson, if you want to learn?”

“Yes, please. I think if I’m going to be a Dad, I need to know how to cook at least scrambled eggs, right?”

“Might be a good idea, Lou,” Harry mumbled. “Right, first you need to crack the eggs into the bowl.” He grinned as Louis did so, proud that he hadn’t even got any shell in there either. “Good job. Right, now you need to whisk them up.”

“Um…”

“Here,” Harry instructed, wrapping his fingers around Louis’ hand, helping him with the movement. “That’s it, get the air in there, make sure all the yolks and whites are mixed together. Now, while you do that, I’m going to melt a bit of butter in the pan.”

Louis found it fascinating to watch Harry move so easily around his kitchen, making it look like second nature. Despite the ever-growing bump protruding from him, he  looked graceful in his movements, some sort of pregnancy leggings clinging beautifully to his body, elongating his already long legs. Louis brushed aside any inappropriate feelings, standing next to Harry as the eggs started to sizzle in the pan, coming together already.

“It’s like magic,” he chuckled as Harry scraped a wooden spoon around the pan so they didn't stick. Soon, they were done, and Harry dished them onto the slices of bread that Louis had already buttered, sitting at the table with him while Louis gobbled his snack down hungrily. “So, I was thinking,” he began through mouthfuls. “It might be nice if we went out baby shopping, get a few things, or at least have a look at what’s out there? I haven’t ever done this before, and I’d like to get an idea of what we need.”

“I’d like that, but I think I’d better ring Liam and find out what he thinks,” Harry said, sounding hesitant. “I just… there’s a chance we’ll be seen together, Lou. And if they publish the pictures of us, it’ll start the rumours and they won’t go away. Are you sure you want that already?”

“It is what it is,” Louis shrugged, scooping up the last of eggs onto his last piece of bread. “We’re having a baby, Harry. Sooner or later, they’re going to figure it out, especially if we stay friends. People are aware you didn't make our little one on your own.”

“I’ll protect you as much as I can,” Harry said again, and Louis hated how he was taking all this responsibility on himself. “But if they find out who you are, I’ll only be able to do so much. I won’t be able to stop them printing shit about you, about us…”

“Harry, will you just stop? I’m an adult, I know what I’m getting into. I want to go out with the father of my child, and shop for things for our baby. If you need to put a statement out or something, do it. You need to do whatever makes this easier for you, Haz. You need to feel as little stress as possible, and I’ve already told you I’ll do whatever I need to make this as easy as I can for you.”

Harry sent Louis a shy smile, and slowly rose from his seat, supporting his lower back as he did so.

“I’ll go and give Liam a call, then, warn him we’re heading out,” Harry said, waddling out. Louis realised his bump really had popped lately, and he was so excited to see Harry get much bigger as their baby grew. “I’ll be right back, just sit and finish your tea.”

Louis sat for a moment until he heard Harry’s bedroom door close, and he quickly got to his feet, gathering the plates and cups from the table. He took them to the sink, not even bothering to puzzle out Harry’s complicated looking dishwasher as he ran the hot water, staring out of the window in front of him into the small communal garden. Louis pictured a small swing and slide being there in a few year’s time, Harry helping their baby slide down, a big smile on his face.

“Lou?” 

“Sorry,” Louis said, wiping his hands off on the tea towel as he turned around, wondering how long Harry had been standing there. “What did Liam say?”

“He said it was up to us. Said he’ll keep an eye for anything in the press, but he won’t be able to stop anything going online. He also said they might try and spin this, make us out to be more than we are. So... are you really sure you want to do this?”

“I am,” Louis nodded, stepping in front of Harry. “If they make out we’re together, then that’s on them. We know the truth, and it's no-one’s business but ours, really. We just have to ignore any of the bullshit they say, love. You wanna head out now? I haven’t got to work until tomorrow, so you’ve got me for the rest of the day if you want me. I just need to pop home and change before we go out.”

“I can give you a lift,” Harry suggested, following Louis into the sitting room. “Saves you walking home, and we can drive straight from there?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Louis agreed, grinning over to Harry. “Let’s go then, no time to waste!”

*****

“Oh my god, how cute is this?” 

Louis smiled as Harry held up a little pair of dungarees, a duck motif sewn onto the front pocket. It looked tiny in Harry’s giant hands, and for a moment, Louis couldn’t believe they were going to have a baby tiny enough to fit in these things. 

“So sweet,” he smiled as Harry set it back on the rail. Louis already had a basket in his hand, but they’d only bought a packet of soft cream babygro’s, two packs of white vests, and another maternity shirt Harry hadn’t been able to resist. “It’s kind of hard to buy things until we know what we’re having, though.”

“You want to find out what we’re having?” Harry asked over a rack of tiny little baby dresses, reaching out and touching the frilly bits at the bottom, and the small pair of tights attached. “Really?”

“I mean, it would make life easier, wouldn’t it? We’d be able to paint them a nursery, and buy things in the right colours-”

“They can wear any colours, Lou. I don’t buy into this baby boys in blue, and girls in pink stuff.”

“Alright, I don’t mind that. I just think… I’d like to know if we’re having a son or a daughter? If you’re really against it, we won’t but that’s what I think.”

“Mum’s asked me if I want to know,” Harry said, rounding the stand to appear next to Louis, both of them looking at the tiny rack of t-shirts with the cutest slogans ever on the fronts. “I wasn’t sure then, I don’t think I mind either way. So if you really want to know, then we can.”

“You sure?” Louis asked, ridiculously excited at the notion that in a weeks time, they would know if the baby growing inside Harry was a boy or a girl. He didn't think as he reached out, rubbing Harry’s bump for a moment. “I don’t want to pressure you…”

“You’re not. I’m okay with it, I’d say if I wasn’t.”

They wandered off together, Harry throwing a packet of scratch mitts into the basket, and the cutest little stuffed elephant, saying it was too sweet to resist. They came to a stop in front of a display of pushchairs, a little overwhelmed by the selection, and the multitude of different designs.

“They all look the same to me,” Louis murmured, a little stunned by some of the prices of these pushchairs. “Any idea what you want?”

“Nope,” Harry laughed, resting a hand on the handle of a sleek Silver Cross pushchair. “Mum and I had a look a while ago, but it all seemed too far off for me to really take it seriously.”

“They’re so expensive,” Louis said, worry evident in his voice. “I can’t believe they cost this much, it’s mad…”

“Louis, we really don’t have to worry about money,” Harry cut in, taking Louis’ wrist and forcing him to look up at him. “We can just buy what we want, and the cost doesn’t matter. Please don’t fret about that.”

“I want to provide for them, too. They’re my child, Haz, I don’t want you to have to get everything.”

“You are providing for them, by being here with me, supporting me, making me feel better about this. You don’t know how much it means that you’re here, doing this with me.”

Louis took a step forward and pulled Harry into a hug, right there in the middle of the shop, his bump between them. Louis could feel the eyes of a few other shoppers on them, but he didn't care. It felt right, and he loved that he and Harry were getting closer. As he pulled away, he kissed two of his fingers and then pressed them to Harry’s bump, the pair smiling at each other.

“You know I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, right? Oh, and I meant to tell you I got the hour off to come to your scan. I’m working, but there’s no way I’m missing this.”

They walked off again, Louis following Harry as he stopped in front of a small rack of clothes.

“Oh, Lou… my Mum would love this!” Harry exclaimed excitedly, holding up a little white t-shirt, Nanny’s Little Star embroidered into the front. “I’m going to buy it, it’s too cute.”

“I think my Mum wants to be Grandma,” Louis said softly, seeing one with “I love my Grandma” sewn on. “She’s really excited, you know. She keeps asking me when she’s going to meet you, she’s a nurse like me.”

“You want me to meet your family?” Harry asked, looking a little surprised. “Really?”

“Of course I do,” Louis said, shocked that Harry found that to be surprising information. “You’re having my baby, Haz. Mum wants to see you before the baby arrives.”

“This weekend?” Harry asked, taking Louis by surprise. “I know you said she’s in Donny, and you’re off, aren’t you?”

“I mean, I can ask?” Louis replied, his heart racing at the fact Harry wanted to meet his family, and that he wanted it to happen sooner rather than later. “If you’re up for it, so am I. I’ll text them, make sure they haven’t got any plans.”

“Sounds good to me,” Harry grinned back, picking up one of the Grandma t-shirts as well and adding it to the basket. “We could give her that when we see her, you think she’d like it?”

“I do,” Louis grinned, leading Harry over to the till to pay for their things. “Just… my sisters are pretty full on, they’ll want to touch the bump, and ask you lots of questions. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Harry laughed back, handing over his credit card to the store assistant. “I mean, I’ve met one Tomlinson, and you’re pretty great. I’m sure the rest of them will be as well. I can’t wait to meet them, Lou.”

Louis just smiled, taking the bag from the desk and swinging it by his side as they walked out, heading to the car park. He spotted a couple of photographers hanging back, and he stood protectively by Harry’s side as he opened the car door for him, making sure he was in safely before he closed it, keeping his head down. He knew they’d have taken their photos by now anyway, and it was pointless trying to hide himself, but he didn't want to give them any more than he had to. He got into the car, and pulled the seatbelt over him, smiling fondly at how Harry had tucked the belt under his bump.

“Coming home with me, Lou?” Harry asked, and he nodded as Harry pulled out of the car park, driving towards his home. “I’ll cook us dinner, if you like.”

“Perfect end to a perfect day,” Louis quipped, tucking his feet up on the dashboard, his arms wrapped around his knees. 

*****

“You sure you’re ready for this? Just tell me if it's too much, please,” Louis pleaded, helping Harry down from the car.  Harry looked up at the modest family home in front of him, feeling a little sick at the thought of meeting Louis’ family for the first time. He knew he wasn’t going in there as his boyfriend, but it didn't make it any easier. He was going to be in these people’s lives for at least the next eighteen years, and Harry was desperate to make a good impression.

Louis had repeatedly ensured him over the past few days that they hadn’t bothered to read anything about him in the papers, preferring to make up their own minds about him, but Harry wasn’t completely convinced. Louis had let slip that his sisters Charlotte and Félicité were fans of his previous work, and Harry was now keen for them to like him as much as they liked his on-screen personas. 

“Let’s go in, Lou. Also, I really need to pee,” Harry pleaded, making Louis giggle, leading him up the path to the front door. “Shall we knock, or just go in?”

“Knock? I grew up here, we’re going in,” Louis grinned, pushing down the handle and walking straight in. Harry followed him, hanging back slightly as Louis hollered out that he was there, and already, Harry could hear footsteps thundering down the stairs, and two identical girls launched themselves at Louis, arms wrapped around his waist as they babbled excitedly up at their big brother. “Girls, girls, chill out for a sec!”

They went quiet, and Harry laced his fingers under his tummy, waiting to be introduced. Usually, he was in control of these situations, approaching interviewers and journalists with ease, but now, he seemed to have lost all of the confidence he’d had before.

“Love, come with me,” Louis asked, holding out his hand as he led Harry inside, the twins trailing after them both. “Mum?”

“Sorry, love, let me get this out of the oven!” came a kind sounding voice from the kitchen, and Louis just rolled his eyes, hovering next to Harry. “Right, sorry, you were earlier than I expected… come and give me a hug,” she said as she walked in, and Harry watched on as Louis hugged his mother, unsurprised by how alike the pair looked. Their eyes were both sparkling and happy, and they had the same smile. It was a sweet moment, and Harry almost felt like he was intruding.

“Mum, I’d love you to meet Harry. Haz, this is my Mum, Johannah-”

“Jay, love, call me Jay,” she grinned, hurrying over to Harry and scooping him up into a quick hug that Harry returned happily. Already he felt at ease with this woman. She had a warmth about her just like Louis did, and Harry had a feeling this weekend would go well. “Look at you… what an amazing bump you have already! Louis said you’re nearly halfway through now?”

“Yeah, uh, next Friday,” Harry grinned, placing his hand on his tummy. “We’ve got our scan in the afternoon then, too.”

“Oh, how exciting!” She clapped her hands together in excitement, and reached out before snatching her hand back. “I’m so sorry-”

“Don’t be, you can touch,” Harry smiled, and he caught Louis’ eye for a moment, the pair sharing a smile. “You have a lovely home.”

He glanced around, taking in his surroundings. There were family pictures everywhere, and Harry spotted Louis in a lot of them, cradling babies, arms around teenage girls, stood in what looked like a brand new set of scrubs outside a hospital. It was a proper family home, the kind Harry envisioned raising his own children in one day, and he jumped as someone patted his hip, getting his attention as Jay finally stepped away, offering to make drinks.

“Are you having a baby?” one of the girls asked, looking up at Harry with big blue eyes that reminded him so much of Louis’. “I think you are, because your belly looks like Ashley’s mum’s, and she’s having a baby too.”

“I am,” Harry said, looking to Louis for guidance in answering this question. “My baby is coming in March.”

“Are you Louis’ boyfriend?” the other one asked, entirely innocently, but Harry floundered, not sure how to word his reply.

“No, love, he’s not,” Louis said, resting a hand on her head. The words broke Harry’s heart, but he focused on keeping his expression passive, not wanting to let on how much they hurt. “We are having a baby together, though. The baby will be your niece or nephew.”

“And you and Harry are the daddies?”

“Yep, we are the daddies,” Louis chuckled, telling Harry to sit as Jay appeared with a tray of cups, a teapot and a plate of delicious looking biscuits. “Ooh Haz, you must be special, Mum doesn’t crack open the posh shortbread for just anyone- ow!”

His sass earned him a flick around the legs with her tea towel, and Harry chuckled, lowering himself onto the sofa. Before Louis could sit next to him, one of the other twins darted into the space next to him, taking a glass of squash from the table.

“So, Harry, how has the pregnancy been?” Jay asked, pouring tea into each of the cups while Louis followed with milk. Harry felt a bit like a spare part, but he was pleased Jay was showing such a genuine interest in him and the baby. “Louis did tell me you had a bit of sickness…”

“Yeah, early on, but it’s all disappeared now,” he said, accepting a biscuit that Daisy (he hoped he got it right) put in his hand. “Thank you, love. I’m feeling good at the moment, though. Lots of energy, and the baby’s fluttering a lot which is great. Did Lou tell you about the doppler he did?”

“He did, he text me that morning, said he helped you hear the heartbeat. Magical, isn’t it?”

“Can I hear it?” Phoebe piped up from where she was now splayed out on Louis’ lap, cuddling up to her brother. “I want to hear it too.”

“I didn't bring the machine, love,” Louis answered, clearly regretting that. “But listen, Harry and I are going to see more pictures of the baby next week, so we’ll make sure to send you some, okay?”

“Will you print me one for my room?” she bargained, and Harry held his cup up to his face to mask the smile threatening to burst out, catching Jay’s eye across the room. “Please?”

“Alright, munchkin,” Louis said, leaning over to bite the top off her biscuit, making her squeak in indignation. “If anyone’s allowed the special biscuits, it’s me! I’m the special guest!”

“No, Harry and the baby are the special guest people!” Daisy retorted, getting up and pulling her sister from Louis’ lap. “Harry, can we sit with you, ‘cause Loulou’s being mean.”

“Uh, sure,” Harry said, letting the girls cosy up to his sides. “Are your other sisters not here, Louis?”

“Mum?”

“Charlotte’s at her boyfriend’s, and Fiz is at the pictures with her friends. I didn't say both of you were coming, so they said they’d see you at din-”

“Excuse me,” Louis interrupted, slamming his teacup onto the table. “I must have misheard you. I thought you said Lots was with her boyfriend for a moment there!”

“I did?” Jay said, eyeing her son as he got to his feet, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “Oh god, Louis, don’t-”

“Charlotte, you’ve got a boyfriend?” he shrieked into his phone, and Jay just groaned, flopping back in her seat, her hands over her face. “And when exactly were you planning on telling me?”

*****

“Louis, just come and sit down. Watching out of the window will do nothing but upset your sister, and I really don’t want a repeat of what happened last time,” Jay stated, and to Harry’s surprise, Louis did as he was told. Sure, he was scowling and tapping his foot angrily on the carpet but he was sat, eyes fixed on The Chase playing on the television.

“Do you mind if I get a drink of water?” Harry asked, and Jay nodded, smiling as Harry got to his feet. The twins were upstairs playing a game together, the novelty of having someone new over already worn off slightly, but Harry loved it. They didn't see him as a film star, just a friend Louis brought round that happened to be having his baby, and he liked the anonymity of it. 

He ran the tap for a moment, letting the water get cool until he held the glass under, filling it almost to the brim. He looked at the calendar hanging from the wall as he sipped at it, loving how Jay had colour co-ordinated the appointments according to each of her children, even adding Louis’ various doctor and dentist appointments there despite the fact he didn't live at home anymore and apparently hadn’t done for years. Harry realised he was the sort of person who would do that for his children too, and he wondered for a second if that was why he and Jay got along so well.

He helped himself to a satsuma from the fruit bowl and stood over the bin peeling in, and heard the door slam in the background. He heard voices he didn't recognise, and assumed that Louis’ other sisters must be home. He decided to stay where he was, out of the way, and munched on a segment of orange, wiping the juice that trickled down his chin with the back of his hand, but when he looked up, he was confronted by a tall, dark-haired teenage girl staring back at him, wide-eyed, mouth open.

“CHARLOTTE! COME HERE RIGHT NOW!”

“I’m busy, Fiz, sod off-”

“NOW! QUICK!”

Harry didn't know what to do, and soon enough, there were two girls stood in front of them. The other was blonde and shorter than her sister, but was equally as shocked.

“Lottie, why is Harry Styles standing in our kitchen?”

“I don’t-” she turned to look at her sister for a moment before she yelled, even louder than the dark haired girl had done. “LOUIS - WHY IS HARRY STYLES IN OUR KITCHEN?”

“Sorry, I, um…” Harry began, shrugging when Louis appeared, barging his way through the girls and coming to a stop next to Harry. “I didn't know what to tell them, Lou. Don’t know if they know-”

“What don’t we know?” the one Harry believed was called Lottie demanded, her hands on hips, steely eyes on her brother. Louis didn't flinch, apparently used to this banter, but Harry longed to reach out and pull Louis in front of him to protect him. “Spill. Now.”

“Um, well, Harry’s my mate-”

“Since when?!” the brunette shrieked, her gaze flitting between Louis and Harry, and she must have realised Louis hadn’t even introduced them yet because- “Introduce us then, you bloody berk-”

“Keep your bloody hair on, Felicite, or I’ll take him home and you won’t so much as get a word out of him.”

Both girls must have believed Louis would do just that because their angry faces faded into small smiles, waiting for their brother to say something more.

“That’s better. Alright, Hazza, these are my demonic sisters. That one is Lottie, or Charlotte as Mum calls her when she needs a telling off, and that’s Fiz, or Félicité.”

Harry stepped forward and shook the hands of both girls, trying not smile at the fact they were blushing heavily now, looking shy as he approached.

“Uh, you look great,” Lottie said shyly, indicating his bump. “I saw in the papers you were having a baby, but you look bigger now-”

“Yeah, I’m eighteen weeks,” Harry said, proudly rubbing his bump again.

“But you still haven’t told us why Harry’s here?” Fizzy interrupted, looking puzzled again.

“Well,” Louis started, getting a nod from Harry who was trying to tell Louis it was okay to tell them. “And you need to keep this to yourselves, girls, so no plastering it on Facebook or Twitter, okay? But… as I said, Harry’s my mate, and um, we, uh… so a few months ago, we, ummmm-”

“Louis’ the father of my baby,” Harry cut in, unable to listen to Louis’ rambling any longer. “This is your niece or nephew. Not sure which yet, but… yeah. Congrats?”

“Holy fucking shit-” Lottie murmured, and even Louis didn't bother to chastise her for her language. “Does Mum know about this?”

“Of course she knows,” Louis huffed, glaring at his sisters who still looked stunned at the revelation. “But you aren’t to tell anyone, okay? Harry doesn’t want it out just yet, not until we’re ready to tell the world.”

“We promise. We’d never do that, Harry,” Félicité said quite earnestly, like she was keen Harry believe her. “But Lou, you didn't say anything about not having a picture with him, so can I?”

“Me too, I’m older so I’m going first,” Charlotte butted in, yanking her phone out of her pocket and shoving it at Louis. “Hurry up, Lou- Félicité, get out of my photo or I’ll- MUM!”

*****

The following day, Harry stirred, bringing himself out of the nap that he’d been enjoying. They’d all gone for a walk that morning, and the exercise had tired Harry out to the point where Louis and Jay had both instructed him to go upstairs to the guest room and have a lie down. Of course, he’d dozed off pretty much as soon as his head hit the pillow, and he tapped his phone screen, making it light up and he saw it was already three in the afternoon.

Harry changed his t-shirt for a cosier jumper and carefully headed downstairs, masking a yawn with the back of his hand. The house seemed eerily quiet, and Harry almost felt like he was intruding as he stepped into the living room. He could hear clinking from the kitchen, and followed the noise, seeing Jay stood at the worktop, peeling some carrots.

“Anything I can do?” he asked, and she turned around, smiling at him. 

“You can chop, if you like,” she replied, and Harry was pleased she wasn’t making him go and sit down. “Lou’s taken the girls out for an icecream. I did suggest a hot chocolate might be better give it’s November, but when he’s got his mind set on something, you know what he’s like.”

“I do,” Harry agreed, taking a knife from the block in front of him, cutting the carrots expertly into batons, adding them to a saucepan Jay had just fetched for him. “I’m glad he’s had some alone time with his sisters, I know he misses them a lot when he’s working.”

Jay and Harry worked together quietly for a few minutes, and Harry could sense there was something Jay was holding back. He focused on making each of the carrots the same length, taking Jay’s bowl of peelings away every now and then to empty it before he stood next to her again as they moved onto potatoes.

“So Harry,” she started, handing Harry the first of the peeled potatoes to be cut into chunks. “How long have you been in love with my son?”

Harry paused, glancing at Jay out of the corner of his eye for a moment, contemplating how to answer her. He didn't want to lie, but he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to admit to the truth. However, there was no chance of being overheard so he took a deep breath, placing the knife down before he spoke.

“Since he came to my flat and promised to be there for me and the baby?” He said, his reply coming out like a question for some reason. His hands were shaking, and Jay set down the vegetable in her hand, turning to face Harry. “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t apologise for loving him, sweetheart,” Jay said kindly. “You just… you need to bear with my boy, okay? He’s got feelings for you too, he just needs to process them before he admits to anything.”

Harry felt shocked at Jay’s words, and he let his gaze fall to his feet, able to only really see his toes over his bump.

“He doesn’t,” he hurried to say, shaking his head. “He’s said it before. We’re just friends who happen to be having a baby together, that’s all. And that’s enough for me. I’m just glad he’s here for the baby.”

They were interrupted by a loud cacophony of noise as Louis and the girls arrived home, all chatting eagerly until they appeared in the kitchen.

“Harold! You’re awake!” Louis yelled, walking quickly over to Harry and collapsing to his knees in front of him, touching his belly quickly, Harry and Jay watching on in surprise. What happened next though made Harry gasp. Louis leaned forward, kissing the centre of Harry’s bump quickly until he looked up, his eyes wide as he stumbled to his feet. “Uh, yeah, um, I’ll be right back-”

He left quickly, not looking back, and Harry just remained where he was, glued to the floor. He mustered up the courage to look over to Jay, who was looking straight back at him, her eyebrow arched, a knowing smile on her face.

“See? I’m right,” she muttered before she turned back to the vegetables again. “A mother knows these things, Harry.”

Harry just picked up the knife again, cutting up the potato Jay placed on his chopping board. There was no way Jay could be right. No way. Louis had barely initiated a hug with him so far, and surely, if he had feelings, Harry would have sensed something by now. Louis was getting more tactile with his bump, but Harry just put that down to wanting to bond with their baby, nothing to do with Harry himself. They were spending more time together too, but again, that was for the benefit of their child. Louis never gave Harry any hints he felt anything more than friendship to him, but Jay’s words had left him all confused, and he didn't know what to do.

“Harry, will you come and paint our nails?” Phoebe asked, appearing in the doorway.

“Um, I’m just-”

“You can go, I can finish up,” Jay said, and Harry nodded, rinsing his hands before he joined the Tomlinson girls in the sitting room, a line of pretty coloured polishes lined up on the table. Louis was sitting cross legged opposite Daisy, already painting her fingers, and he didn't look up as Harry lowered himself to the floor, shaking a bottle of pale blue polish that Phoebe had selected.

“Give me your hand, love,” he said, wiping the excess off the brush, taking the girl’s tiny fingers in his own much bigger hand, trying to ignore the flutters in his belly again. “This is a lovely colour.”

“It’s my favourite,” she agreed. “Do you paint your nails, Harry?”

“Sometimes,” he admitted. “Not all the time because of my work, but I like to when I’m at home. Louis painted my toes for me a while ago.”

The girls both gasped, surprised at Harry’s words.

“Really? What colour did he have, Lou?”

“Pale pink,” Louis replied, finally looking up at Harry with a soft smile. “They looked very pretty.”

“Well, you’re pretty, Harry, so your toes should be pretty too,” Phoebe said with a nod, like that was the last word to be had. “Will you do my toes too?”

“Oh, alright then,” Harry grinned, seeing Louis agree that he’d do the same to his other sister. 

“They’ve got you wrapped around their little fingers already,” Louis said softly, finishing up Daisy’s fingernails. “Bodes well for our bubba, doesn’t it?”

“Yup,” Harry said, nodding and blowing on Phoebe’s nails for a moment. “And I don’t mind one tiny little bit.”

*****

Louis pulled Harry’s car over at the curb, indicating as he parked in Harry’s parking space. The pregnant man was dozing in the passenger seat next to him, and Louis reached over, tucking a lock of hair back onto Harry’s head from where it had dropped into his eyes as he slept.

“Haz, wakey wakey, love,” he said, shaking his arm slightly, drawing Harry out of his stupor. He took in a deep breath, and wiped his mouth off, looking embarrassed for a moment. “We’re outside your place, love. Time to go inside, okay?”

“Mm hmm,” Harry muttered, his voice low with sleep. “Sorry I dozed off.”

“Don’t say sorry, no worries. You’re growing a human, love, you’re bound to be tired. I’ll get you in, then I’ll have to get home. I’ve got an early tomorrow, so I need to get to bed.”

Louis got out of the car and walked over to Harry’s door, taking his arm as he climbed out, making sure he didn't slip. It was drizzling slightly, and Louis told Harry to get inside while he got the bags, not wanting him to get wet. He set the bags inside the door, and Harry was already hanging up his coat and taking off his boots.

“Can I borrow a brolly? I didn't bring one with me,” Louis called, spotting one in the corner of the hallway. “I promise I’ll bring it back…” He turned around, unsurprised to see Harry laid out on the sofa again, already looking sleepy again. Louis felt fond, and part of him didn't want to leave, wanted to look after Harry while he slept.

“Take my car,” Harry mumbled, Louis straining to hear him now. “Don’t drive much now anyway, we can share the car. You can pick me up, be my chaffeur.”

“You sure?” Louis asked, not wanting Harry to feel like he was taking advantage of him in any way. 

“Yeah, I added you to the insurance before we went to Donny,” Harry slurred, tugging a cushion against his chest as his eyes drifted shut. “Sorry, so tired…”

Louis walked over, and leaned down, pressing a kiss to Harry’s warm forehead, a hand resting on his belly, the other supporting his weight of the back of the sofa.

“Sleep, love. I’ll call you tomorrow when I’m on a break. Sleep tight, alright, but call me if you need anything.”

He didn't get a reply, so Louis just kissed the bump quickly before he left the flat, ensuring the door was locked before he turned away, jogging to the car, trying not to get too wet. He started the engine, smiling to himself at finally having a set of wheels, even if it was just for a little while. He headed for home, making sure he texted Harry before he slipped into bed himself, tired but more than happy with how the weekend away had gone. Everything, at last, seemed to be falling into place. Now there was just the scan to look forward to. Louis couldn’t wait.

Chapter Text

“Alright, alright,” Harry muttered to himself as he heard Louis honk the horn for the second time outside his flat. He triple-checked his reflection in the mirror before he headed out of the flat, a water bottle in his hand, coat pulled tightly around him. Now his bump was so big, it didn't fit properly and the tip of his belly poked out, and he realised he was going to have to buy a new coat to get him through the winter. He carefully descended the stairs, taking care not to slip, and he smiled when he saw Louis had parked right outside his building, hazard lights on. Upon seeing Harry, Louis got out of the car, breath coming out in puffs of steam as he supported Harry getting into the car. “Thank you, what a gent.”

“You’re very welcome. Sorry about beeping the horn twice, wasn’t sure if you heard the first one or not.”

“I did. I just don’t move as quickly as I used to,” Harry joked, tucking the seatbelt under his bump. “I didn't manage to drink all the water they told me too, either, but I’ve brought it with me. You know where we’re going?”

“Yeah- hang on a tick, shit, this road is busy,” Louis mumbled, indicating and waiting for a free space in the traffic until he could pull out. “Alright, sorry. Yes, I do know where we’re going, I looked it up last night when you text me the address. Hadn’t heard of it before, how did you hear of it?”

“Liam found it for me,” Harry answered easily, taking another swig of water.  He already needed to wee, and he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to last another hour or so before he was allowed to go. “Apparently, they have a lot of high profile clients and are well known for their discretion, so yeah, it seemed the right place to go at the time, especially since my pregnancy wasn’t public. How was your day?”

“Shitty, actually,” Louis muttered, glancing over at the sat nav in the middle of the dashboard. “We had a kid come in with suspected meningitis. They looked awful, the poor parents were heartbroken. As much as I love my job, days like this make me just want to give it all up and go and work in Tesco or something.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that,” Harry said, his heart aching at the news. He always admired Louis’ job, and he wasn’t sure he held it together when the children and babies he worked with were desperately sick, or worse. He was an emotional wreck just hearing Louis tell him about it, let alone experiencing it. “Hopefully today will cheer you up a bit.”

“How could it not? First time I’m going to properly see my bubba,” Louis grinned, his blue eyes now shining in excitement. “I can’t believe you’re over twenty weeks now. It’s going so bloody quickly.”

They made small talk about Harry’s pregnancy until they arrived at the Paternity clinic, Louis impressing Harry with his parking skills as he skillfully maneuvered the car into the space behind them. They walked slowly across the car park, thankful it wasn’t raining, until they walked in, greeting the receptionist with a smile. Harry checked himself in and then the pair took a seat over in the corner of the waiting room, the only ones in there at the moment.

“Very posh. You don’t get nice bunches of gerberas in the waiting room at my doctors,” Louis joked, catching sight of the blooms on the desk. “And magazines that are actually up to date? Blimey, Harold, how well-to-do!”

Harry couldn’t help himself giggling at Louis’ sense of humour, ridiculously happy to have Louis by his side this time around. He’d loved his mum supporting him last time, but it felt so nice that he was bringing the father of his baby along with him this time. Anne had wanted to come to this scan too, but had totally understood when Harry had quietly told her Louis was going, and that they’d like it to just be the two of them. He kept sipping on his water as they waited, the clock ticking slower than ever the closer their appointment time came.

“Harry?”

Harry looked over his shoulder, seeing Jean stood there with a smile on her face, file of paperwork in her hands. Harry smiled and got to his feet, Louis quickly following him down the corridor into a slightly different room from last time.

“So, we have somebody different with you today,” Jean said, opening the file of notes in front of her, eyes flicking between Louis and Harry for a moment.

“Um, yeah, this is-”

“Louis Tomlinson, father of the baby,” Louis interjected, a wide and proud smile on his face as he stuck his hand forward, shaking Jean’s happily. “Very pleased and excited to be here this time around, I assure you.”

“Well, that’s wonderful, Harry. I didn't realise you two-”

“Oh, no. We’re just friends. Friends who happen to be having a baby together,” Harry insisted, repeating Louis’ words from earlier on. He stood up to hang his coat on the door, completely missing the devastated look on Louis’ face at his words, his face making a smile again as Harry sat next to him, rubbing his belly again. “I’m really glad he’s here, though.”

“Yes, it’s wonderful. Actually, Mr Tomlinson-”

“It’s Louis, please.”

“Okay, sorry. Louis, if you wouldn’t mind filling out part of Harry’s paperwork for me? He couldn’t fill it in last time, but it would help us fill in some of the gaps.”

She passed over a clipboard to Louis who just nodded, starting jotting things down already. Harry tried not to coo over Louis’ tongue sticking out as he wrote, the thin strand of hair that fell from his quiff onto his forehead. 

“So how have you been, Harry? Everything been okay with yourself and the baby?”

“Yeah, really good,” Harry confirmed, smiling at Louis when he looked up for a second. “I’ve been feeling a lot of flutters, and Lou brought home a doppler from work and we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. It was his first time, so that was amazing.”

“Oh? You got a doppler?” Jean asked, clearly a little confused.

“I’m a nurse,” Louis explained. “Charge nurse at the RMC, so I went up to Paternity and borrowed one. Hazza was feeling a bit down about him feeling the baby and me not, so it was a good way to bridge the gap between that and me feeling them kick.”

“Ah, I see. Well, I’m glad you managed to do that, I assume the heartbeat was good?”

“Really strong, I found it fairly easily,” Louis smiled, handing back the completed forms. “I’ve found it a couple more times as well, it’s great to hear it.”

“I’m really pleased. Harry, if you’d like to hop up on the bed and roll up your shirt, we can get started. I assume you’re coming to sit with us, Louis?”

Louis nodded and followed Harry, holding his hand as he lowered himself backwards, and Harry loved how Louis plumped his pillow just before he laid on it, the pair sharing a small smile. Harry felt that they were getting closer by the day, and Louis had appeared in several of his dreams lately as well. They were family oriented dreams, ones where he dreamt of Louis at their child’s first birthday party, heading off on holiday together… they always had Harry waking up with a big smile on his face, but with an aching heart over the fact he wasn’t sure if he’d ever get to experience these things with Louis.

“You know the drill, Harry. Bit of cold gel first, and I’ll do my measurements before I show you guys.”

“No worries,” Harry said, giggling as the cold gel was spread over his stomach with the wand, staring up at the ceiling. “Oh Lou, I forgot to tell you I’m back on set next week. They’re done with the scenes up in Scotland, so they’re all back here. I’ll be working all day next week.”

“Well, you need to make sure you take it easy, love,” Louis said, eyes fixed on what Jean was doing on Harry’s belly. “Does it feel alright?”

“Yeah, except I really need to pee. Like really badly,” Harry moaned, crossing his legs again. 

“Sorry, Harry, I won’t be much longer,” Jean said, still clicking away on her computer. “Honestly, though, it all looks perfect. Baby is on size for the dates you gave me, heart and other organs look well developed. Your water looks good as well, as does the placenta.”

“Good to hear,” Harry grinned, his heart stopping for a second as she turned the screen around. “Oh my god-”

Louis grabbed his hand as the screen was facing them, and they were faced with the image of their baby. Harry immediately teared up, seeing it looked like a real baby this time. He could see their limbs moving around inside him, the flicker of their heartbeat, their head, their torso… it was the most magical thing he’d ever seen.

“Louis, look, that’s-” he sniffed, and Louis just squeezed his hand, bringing it against his body and holding it there as they both stared at the screen, mesmerised by what they could see. “Wow, they’re so big, I can’t believe it.”

“I’m dating you at twenty weeks and four days, Harry, so your due date is remaining the same. Do you have any questions?”

“Um, can you tell what we’re having?” Harry asked, his voice wobbly, and he looked to Louis, who was blushing fiercely now, his bottom lip tucked between his teeth. “Louis? Is something wrong? Oh my god, what can you see-”

“I know what we’re having,” he whispered, his eyes shining with tears now. “I can… I can see.”

Jean just chuckled to herself, apparently unsurprised at that.

“You can?”

“Yeah. You want to know?”

“Tell me, Lou…”

Jean moved the wand slightly, changing the image on the screen soon, Louis nodding slightly as he confirmed it to himself once more.

“We’re having a baby girl, Haz. It’s a little girl.”

If anyone asked, Harry would later deny the noisy, ugly sobs he burst into at that news, and his hands flew up to cover his face, completely overwhelmed at the news he and Louis were having a daughter. He could hear Louis sniffing next to him, and he used his sleeves to wipe his eyes before he finally looked at Louis, the pair’s eyes finally meeting. Harry could feel the emotions flooding through his veins, and it didn't feel at all wrong or out of place when Louis leaned down, pressing his lips softly against Harry’s for a moment.

Harry let his eyes flutter shut as Louis’ hand cupped his cheek, just letting Louis kiss him. It was nothing more than their lips pressing together, but it was perfect, and when Louis pulled away, he stayed close enough that Harry could feel his breath ghost over his lips, his words whispered between them.

“Thank you, Harry, for my baby girl.”

His hand then pressed against the bare side of Harry’s bump, and his face disappeared, his lips now pressed against Harry’s bump. He couldn’t hear what Louis was whispering to their daughter, but Harry accepted a tissue from Jean, unashamed at his open display of emotion. Jean talked them through a couple of things on the scan before it was done, and Harry let Louis wipe off his belly, throwing the tissues in the bin as Harry sat up, clutching the edge of the bed for a moment, his eyes screwed shut.

“You alright, Haz?”

“Bit dizzy,” Harry mumbled, and Louis disappeared for a second, returning with his water bottle. “Thank you.”

“Just take a minute,” Jean advised, and Harry did just that, Louis knelt between his legs, looking up at him in concern. When he felt okay enough to get to his feet, Louis held onto his elbow, helping him over to the chair. “Alright now?”

Harry nodded, and smiled when Jean handed a small bundle of photos over to Louis. They flicked through them together, admiring their beautiful little girl while she added a few things into Harry’s notes.

“Okay, well I want to see you again in about six weeks. Just a check up, to make sure everything is okay. Obviously, you’re in good hands with Louis, but if you have any worries, just call us and set up another appointment at any time. Congratulations, as well.”

“Thank you so much,” Louis said, standing up and grabbing Harry’s coat from the wall, holding it open for him before they left together, heading for the car. “I’m so glad I managed to switch shifts so I don’t have to go back to work now. I feel too jittery and excited to be there, I can’t stop thinking about the fact that we’re having a girl.”

“I know. Oh god, Lou, a baby girl. She’s going to be so beautiful, and tiny, and precious…”

Harry looked down at the photos again, ignoring the streets passing by as Louis drove them back to Harry’s flat, the radio filling the silence of the car. Christmas lights were already visible in some windows, and Harry realised for a moment this would be his last Christmas alone, that next year, he’d have his baby girl with him. Louis soon parked up outside Harry’s flat and pulled on the handbrake, turning off the engine.

“Come up with me?” Harry asked, and Louis nodded, rounding the car to help Harry out as he always did. They chatted as Harry unlocked the door, groaning as he tried to bend to undo his boots, but his back protested too much, and he hissed in pain. He was surprised when Louis fell to his knees again, unzipping each of the boots in turn, and then tapping Harry’s calves, getting him to lift his feet to help him out of them. “How embarrassing, I can’t even take my own shoes off anymore…”

“Hey, it’s what I’m here for,” Louis said, directing Harry to the sofa. “Sit down and rest, I’ll make us a cuppa.”

“Hang on- Lou?” Harry called, and Louis paused where he was, looking stunning in a grey cable knit jumper and some soft black jeans, his feet clad in green socks. He smiled to Harry, wondering what he needed as Harry just stared at him. “C’mere and hold this?”

He held out one of the scan photos and Louis walked over, perched on the edge of the coffee table, the picture now in his hands. He looked down at it for a moment before he turned it around, holding it in front of his chest, a proud smile on his face as Harry aimed his phone camera at him, snapping a few photos. Harry was certain he didn't even need any filter to make Louis even more beautiful. The photo was perfect, and Harry hurriedly opened up Instagram, adding the photo and tapping out a caption: ‘So, so happy’.

“Sending that to your mum?” Louis asked, popping it back on the table as he got up.

“Um… not exactly,” Harry replied, biting his lip as he wondered if Louis would want this. There would be no going back once he posted the picture, but for the first time since he’d got pregnant, Harry wanted to share something with the world. He wanted his fans to share in his joy, and get a glimpse of what was making him so happy at the moment. “What do you think?”

He handed his phone to Louis, who didn't react as he took in what Harry had done. He hadn’t posted it just yet, but it was there and ready, and Harry so badly wanted Louis’ approval, although he knew there was no way he would post it without it. He tapped his fingers on his bump as he waited, and finally, Louis passed him the phone back wordlessly, starting to walk out of the room.

“Post it,” came the words Harry wanted to hear, and he grinned, sending it out into the world. Harry hadn’t posted on social media in a while, so he wasn’t too shocked when the likes started rolling in, comments too, many asking who the handsome man was, if he was Harry’s boyfriend or husband, as well as a huge range of questions about their baby. Harry didn't answer any of them, but he did like one comment exclaiming ‘What a precious photo, all the love to you, your baby and baby daddy!’ which Harry knew would send his fans into a frenzy all by itself. It also didn't hurt that liking that comment put it out there that Louis was most definitely the father of his child.

With a satisfied smirk, Harry swivelled around on the sofa and laid out his legs, rolling his aching ankles as he heard Louis humming away to himself in the kitchen, still making their tea. Harry felt tired, but his mind wouldn’t stop turning, thinking about the kiss he and Louis had shared earlier on. It had been perfect in the moment, the pair expressing their joy at finding out they were having a girl, and it had been a completely natural reaction. But the thing was, Harry had loved it. It felt right for Louis to kiss him, and his lips slotted perfectly against Harry’s, Louis’ hand cradling his cheek with what felt like love. Harry briefly wondered if Louis had felt butterflies in his tummy like Harry had felt, but they were butterflies he most definitely knew weren’t to do with his baby, but rather the man that had put the baby inside him. Harry was screwed.

*****

Louis stood at the front door to Harry’s flat, his carrier bag full of food in his hand. Harry answered, looking red-cheeked and tired, but Louis’ heart still swooned, thinking he was beautiful anyway.

“I bring food!” he exclaimed, holding up the bag and waggling it in front of Harry’s face, making the pregnant man laugh, a hand supporting his now sizeable bump. It had been three days since the scan where they’d found out they were having a girl, and speculation was now rife online about who Louis was after Harry’s photo on Instagram. A lot of Louis’ colleagues had noticed it, and he’d ended up announcing in a staff meeting that he was going to be a dad, and yes, the other father of his baby was Harry Styles. There had been shock amongst his colleagues for a while, but it soon died off in favour of excitement, everyone congratulating Louis and telling him what a wonderful dad he was going to be. It had probably been the best three days of Louis’ life.

“You’re cooking?” Harry asked, grimacing a bit. “I mean, I can afford takeaway, Lou, I don’t mind-”

“You cheeky shit,” Louis laughed, kicking his shoes off as he walked inside Harry’s flat. It wasn’t strange how much it felt like home now, given how much time Louis spent there, and it hadn’t gone unnoticed by Niall. Louis had promised his best friend that they’d spend some time together that weekend, and if he was honest, he did feel a bit guilty that he’d neglected his friends as of late for Harry. “I’ve bought something I can cook. Nothing exciting, I’m afraid, but I wanted to do something nice for you.”

“Well, that’s sweet,” Harry said, taking a seat at the table as Louis started to pull ingredients from the bag. “Ooh, I love Sacla pesto. Are we having meatballs?”

“Yep. I know you said you liked it the other day, and even I can manage this one without a recipe book,” he joked, grabbing the pans and things he needed. Harry stayed where he was as Louis cooked their meal, chatting but Louis could sense there was something not quite right with his friend. Harry kept fidgeting in his chair, playing with his hair, generally looking very distracted which wasn’t like him, and it was playing on Louis’ mind to the point where he felt he had to say something. “Haz, what’s wrong?”

“Huh? Oh, nothing. Just been a long day, I ache and… yeah. I’m fine. I’ll set the table.”

Louis watched on with concern as Harry hauled himself out of his chair and fetched some tablemats, cutlery and plates, leaving a jug of water in the middle. He’d told Louis countless times he didn't mind if he drank around him, but Louis was nothing if not supportive, and had avoided alcohol while he was around Harry in solidarity. It only seemed fair given the reason Harry couldn’t indulge was because of their baby inside him.

Dinner was a fairly quiet affair, but Harry proclaimed it one of the nicest meals Louis had ever made him, which made Louis’ chest puff out in pride. He wasn’t a masterchef in the kitchen by any means, but he was making more of an effort to learn to cook basic dishes, spending hours on the phone to his mum asking inane questions he was sure he could find the answer to on Google, but he trusted her judgment more than anything. He sent her a picture of Harry with his meal in front of him, and had received a row of thumbs up emojis in reply.

Louis  loaded the dishwasher when he was done, and Harry slipped off to have a shower, saying he felt sweaty and uncomfortable. Louis tried to push the mental picture of Harry naked in the bathroom out of his mind as he scrubbed at the saucepan, one Harry had warned him not to put in the dishwasher in case it got ruined. He put everything away, wiping down the table and had just sat on the sofa when Harry sauntered through in a tight t-shirt, and some pyjama shorts that didn't leave a lot to the imagination.

“Sorry, I’m just feeling really hot today. Feel like I’ve got a furnace in my tummy, not a baby,” he joked, flopping down next to Louis and resting his feet in his lap before he suddenly withdrew them, his cheeks red. “Sorry, I-”

“Will you stop apologising?” Louis chastised, taking Harry’s feet and putting them back on his thighs, pressing against his arches with his fingertips. “You’re pregnant, you do whatever makes you comfy at the moment, and if that means skimpy shorts, I’m sure I’ll survive.”

Harry flicked through the television channels for a while, his t-shirt riding up more and more as he rubbed his tummy, the sweet smell of his body wash surrounding him like a fog. Louis loved it, and kept rubbing at Harry’s feet, happy just to be sat there with him. Harry was still quiet, though, and Louis, while not wanting to push Harry, was determined to find out what was really going on.

“Is it the photo you posted?”

“Is what the photo I posted?” Harry asked, his brow furrowing as he tried to work out what Louis was asking.

“The reason you’re in a weird mood tonight.”

Harry sighed, running a hand through his damp hair before he let his head fall backwards against the cushion behind him.

“Louis, I’m not being weird-”

“Yes, you are. You might not realise it, but trust me, I know you enough by now to know something is on your mind. You can trust me, Haz, with whatever it is.”

“Not with this, I can’t,” Harry mumbled, and Louis perked up at the fact Harry had finally admitted to something being up. It was step one, and Louis was nothing if not persuasive. “Just… leave it, okay?”

“Nope. Tell Uncle Lou, come on. I might even be able to help, you never know.”

“No, Louis. You of all people can’t help me.”

Louis made a face at that, wondering how to take Harry’s words.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, feeling offended by now. “Me of all people?”

“Yes, Lou, you of all people. Just drop it, please!”

“Well, I won’t now you’ve offended me. I want to know what it is you think I can’t help you with.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Louis…” Harry’s tone was dangerously low now, but Louis kept pressing, aware he was verging on pushing too far.

“Come on, don’t be such a -”

“I’m horny, okay? Is that what you wanted to hear? I’m pregnant, I’m hormonal, and I’m horny as fuck, and there’s sod all I can do about it!”

“Oh.”

Louis’ cheeks flushed at Harry’s admission, and Harry scrabbled to get off the sofa, clearly mortified at blurting out what had been on his mind this whole time. Louis panicked, and grabbed his foot, making Harry stop and look at him, his green eyes full of something Louis didn't recognise.

“I can help you with that. I mean… if you want me to.”

Louis only realised what he was saying when the words were out, and there was no way to take them back. They hung heavily between them for a moment, and Louis almost held his breath, knowing this was going to go one of two ways, and he wasn’t sure which was the most preferable.

“I haven’t had sex since I slept with you,” Harry confessed, looking at Louis as he spoke, slowly and carefully as if each word was being considered before he allowed it to come out. “I don’t usually sleep around. But you… god, Louis. You were amazing, and that night… it was the best night I’ve ever had with a man. There’s not actually been that many, but… yeah, you were the best, by a long way.”

“I loved it too,” Louis admitted, not wanting Harry to feel he was the only one laying everything on the line. “You were amazing in bed. I, um, I haven’t been with anyone since, either. Not really wanted to, if I’m honest.”

Harry looked a bit surprised at that revelation, and Louis stayed where he was as Harry tugged the cushion out from behind his head, putting it over his lap. 

“Sorry I’ve been in a shitty mood. I’ve just… what I said before. I’m horny, I’m stuck with my right hand which really isn’t doing a lot for me if I’m honest, especially given I can barely reach myself these days, and I’m just frustrated. I’ll be fine tomorrow, just ignore me.”

“No, I won’t ignore you.” Louis’ heart was racing at what he was about to suggest, because deep down, he was sure Harry would say no, and that would be that. But part of him had to know, had to at least try. “I meant when I said I could help you. If you want me to. If you’re comfortable with that.”

“As in…”

“As in… friends with benefits?” Louis hedged gently, watching Harry’s face for any flicker of emotion. “Not like it would be the first time I’ve touched you, or seen you naked, is it? And you can trust me. I’m not going to run to the papers or anything. I just… I want to help you feel good, Haz. It’s kinda my fault you’re in this position anyway-” he said, gesturing towards Harry’s bump. “Let me help you.”

Harry gulped, the bob of his Adam’s apple obvious as he slowly reached down, moving the cushion away from his lap. Louis’ breaths became shaky as he saw Harry was obviously hard in his shorts, tenting the flimsy fabric, and he hoped to god it wasn’t too obvious how aroused he was becoming himself at the sight. Louis tentatively reached forward and placed his palm on Harry’s bulge, and Harry let out the most glorious low moan at the sensation, a sound Louis wanted to hear forever.

“Shit, that’s so good,” Harry murmured as Louis rocked the heel of his hand back and forth for a moment, judging how far he could go. “Oh my- Louis…”

“Tell me what you want, Harry. I’ll do it, whatever you want.”

“Touch me. Please touch me,” Harry pleaded, his eyes begging Louis, and he couldn’t resist. Louis reached for the waistband of Harry’s shorts, which was tucked under the swell of his bump, and he pulled it down and over Harry’s cock. He bit back a gasp when he realised Harry wasn’t wearing any underwear, and soon enough, his hard length was free, already wet at the tip. Harry’s cheeks were red, but he followed the movement of Louis’ hand as he finally wrapped his fingers around Harry, gripping firmly. “Oh wow, Louis, I… ah-”

Louis couldn’t quite believe this was happening, even as his hand was moving slowly up and down Harry’s shaft, getting used to the feel of him beneath his fingertips. Harry looked as good as Louis remembered, his cock long and thick, and he hurriedly pushed thoughts of what that would feel like inside him away, determined that this would be all about Harry, and making him feel good. Harry looked heavenly spread out for him like this, a flush slowly spreading up his neck and across his cheeks, the swell of his bump peeking out from underneath his top. Louis removed his hand, and licked across his palm quickly, not wanting Harry to feel anything but utter pleasure.

“This good?” he asked breathily, and Harry just nodded, an arm flung over his eyes as he breathed deeply, hips twitching every now and then like he wanted to buck up into Louis’ fist, to take some control of the pace. “You’re so hard, Haz, feel so good… you have such a pretty cock.”

At that, Harry removed his arm from his face and looked at Louis, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. After a second, his gaze dipped to watch Louis’ hand around him, and Louis rubbed the pad of his thumb over the shiny tip, making Harry groan lowly in the back of his throat. Harry widened his legs, and Louis shuffled slightly closer, using his other hand to press against the inside of Harry’s thigh, kneading the soft skin there as his strokes got a little quicker, twisting his wrist slightly as he reached the tip, just as he liked to do to himself.

“Oh, fuck- Louis, please-” Harry begged, and Louis crept his other hand closer, brushing the backs of his fingers across Harry’s balls for a moment, the skin soft and hot. Louis quite liked the fact nobody since himself had touched Harry, let alone been inside of him, and that spurred him on, watching hungrily as Harry’s cock leaked precome as he neared his orgasm. Harry’s own hand was up and inside his t-shirt now, and Louis’ cock twitched as he realised Harry was playing with his nipples, probably oversensitive due to his pregnancy, and he wanted to see, wanted to know what Harry liked.

“Pull your top up,” he instructed, licking his lips as his eyes didn't move from Harry’s. “I want to see you.”

Harry nodded, still in a daze as his shaky hand grabbed the hem of his top, pulling it up and under his armpits, exposing his body entirely. His nipples were hard nubs, one of them pinker than the other from where Harry had been playing with it. He hesitantly pinched one of them between his fingertips, and Louis just nodded, telling him to keep going.

“Lou, I… oh god,” Harry mumbled, pinching and pulling at his nipples now, and Louis whimpered at the sight, his own cock fully hard now inside his jeans. Seeing Harry like this, so wanton and chasing his own needs was one of the hottest things he’d ever seen, and it made Louis want to never stop touching him, to always have Harry feel this good under his touch. “I’m close, I-”

“Then come for me, love. Want to see how beautiful you look.”

Louis’ hand worked steadily over Harry’s length, watching another bead of precome leak from his slit and tumble down the side of his shaft, settling under Louis’ fingers. Harry was panting now, twisting his nipples, bucking his hips up, and Louis murmured encouragingly, by now desperate to see Harry release.

“So good for me-”

“Ah-” 

Harry gasped and dug his heels into the sofa, pushing his hips up one final time as he came, his whole body wracked with pleasure. Louis kept stroking as he watched Harry’s cock spurt out come all over himself, covering the bottom of his bump, as well as Louis’ fingers. His eyes were scrunched shut, his mouth open in a gasp, and Louis felt mesmerised, unable to drag his eyes away from the sight in front on him. Harry slowly collapsed back against the sofa, his fingers releasing his red nipple, his other now laying on his bump, the skin now slightly taut from his orgasm.

“Wow, you were… wow,” Louis murmured, reaching for the box of tissues on the table and pulling a few out, swiping them through the come on Harry’s belly to clean him up. His soft cock rested against his thigh now, and Louis carefully pulled up his shorts again, covering him up. Harry slowly blinked, eyes finding Louis’, his hand sneaking down to Louis’ crotch. Louis paused, not sure what to do, if Harry would mind he’d gotten hard too. The atmosphere still felt charged between them, the scent of sex heavy in the air, and Louis couldn’t stop himself as he reached down, grinding the heel of his hand against himself. “Ahhhh-”

“Want you to…” Harry cut himself off, blushing profusely and he turned, burying his face in the back of the sofa for so long Louis was a bit worried he wouldn’t be able to breathe.

“Tell me,” Louis asked, cupping his length now, pushing down slightly enough that he wanted to keep going, to keep touching until he came too, even if it was in his boxers like a teenager. “Harry, I want to know what you want.”

Harry slowly turned his head back until he was looking at Louis, and licked his lips as he spoke, torso still bare, his chest and belly rising and falling with each breath he took.

“I..” he started, his voice husky now, and Louis loved how his cock twitched at the mere sound of it. “I want you to come on me, Lou. On my face.”

“Shit-” Louis kept touching himself, but slightly harder now as Harry reached for him, trying to pull him up his body. Louis didn't feel confident enough laying on top of him, and wondered for a minute what to do. “Oh god, Harry, are you sure? I don’t-”

“Please. I love it. I… I trust you, Lou. Just once? Please? You can kneel by my face…”

It was too hot, hearing Harry beg him to come on his face, so Louis decided to just do it. Harry seemed to know what he wanted, and Louis carefully knelt down, Harry still on his back and facing the ceiling. Louis untucked his cock from his own jeans, pushing the stiff denim down so it was tucked under his own balls, and he didn't miss how Harry sighed in contentment as Louis took himself in hand, stroking firmly and quickly, already too close to coming.

“So lovely,” Louis purred, unable to even think of saying anything derogatory about the perfect specimen laid out for him, all spent from his orgasm, eyeing Louis eagerly, like this was exactly what he wanted. Louis always found there was something so sexy about a man who knew what he wanted in bed, and he was fairly sure Harry had been that way the night they slept together too, which is why it had been so unforgettable. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Haz… oh god-”

Harry was now tracing a finger teasingly over Louis’ balls, licking his lips as he watched Louis continue to wank himself. Louis felt hopelessly exposed, but at the same time, more desired than he’d ever felt. It was the hottest moment of his life, that much he knew. It was when Harry slowly parted his lips, exposing the tip of his warm, pink tongue that Louis decided enough was enough. He picked up his rhythm, biting down hard on his lip as he focused on his impending orgasm, his body now craving the release.

“Harry… shit, look at me-”

Harry did, angling his chin back slightly so they were looking at each other, and that was it. Louis came with a loud cry of Harry’s name, trying desperately to aim the tip of his cock where Harry had asked him to. He watched the white splatter on Harry’s cheeks, his lips and chin, his green eyes not moving from Louis’ until he stopped moving his hand, oversensitive but still helplessly turned on. Harry was a sight, covered in Louis’ come, pregnant belly out, his hand still between Louis’ legs. Louis honestly felt like the luckiest man alive.

However, it all came crashing down just a moment later when Louis shifted from his position, his feet going to sleep from where he’d been knelt down. He stood up and stretched out, but before he could utter a word, Harry was sitting up, looking shocked.

“Oh fuck, I- I’m so sorry-”

He clamped a hand on his belly and ran away as fast as he could, and before Louis could compute what was happening, the bathroom door was slamming shut, the lock soon following it. Louis cleaned himself up as best he could, dumped the tissues in the bin in the kitchen and walked over to the closed door, pressing his palm against it, wondering what the hell he could say to make Harry feel alright about this.

“Harry, it’s okay,” he began, speaking softly given he could hear the sniffs through the wood, Harry no doubt sat down and wiping his tears away. “Please, love. Don’t feel embarrassed or whatever. I liked it, and so did you. There’s nothing wrong with what we did, or for you asking for what you did, either.”

“Go away, Louis,” came the reply, and Louis sat down, sliding against the wood until his bum hit the floor, knowing he wasn’t going anywhere until he knew Harry was okay. 

“I‘m not going away, babe.” 

Louis winced slightly at the term of endearment, but he couldn’t help himself. He still felt a bit warm and fuzzy from his orgasm, and since he was usually a cuddler after any kind of sex, it didn't sit easy with him that Harry had just run away from him.

“Haz, come on. It’s fine. This was, um, my suggestion, right? That we be friends with benefits, help each other out? So please, please don’t feel bad. It’s natural, and like you said, your hormones are all over the place. You’re allowed to like what you like, and believe me, I’m the last person to judge anyone for what they want. I just… I want you to be happy, and to feel good, Haz, that’s all.”

Louis finished his little speech with a shrug Harry couldn’t see, and leaned his head back. His eyes closed slowly, but he nearly fell flat against the floor when the door opened, a snivelling Harry stood there, holding the pieces of his shirt together as best he could, red eyes looking at Louis. His face was now clean, and he smelt of the bodywash Louis knew he used every day in the shower, the one he always smelt of.

“Did you mean it?”

“I don’t know which bit you mean, but yeah, I meant everything I just said,” Louis said, ungracefully getting to his feet, hovering near Harry, not sure if he needed or wanted to be touched. “Harry, I-”

He was stopped from speaking by receiving an armful of Harry, his pregnant friend’s arms flying around his neck, bump pressed between them. Louis couldn’t move, but nor did he want to. Harry’s skin felt hot even through his shirt, and Louis just stroked his back soothingly until Harry broke the hug, wiping his eyes before he looked at Louis again.

“I swear I’m not usually this much of an emotional wreck,” he sniffed, taking Louis’ hand and leading him back to the sofa. “But you can see why I can cry on camera so easily, I’m pretty bloody good at it.”

They both chuckled lightly, and Louis felt the tension dissipate already. 

“That was… you were amazing, Lou. I just… I felt I could let go with you. S’been so long since I’ve felt lo- like that.”

Louis pulled him into another quick hug, tucking Harry’s fringe back when they parted, his bump pushed against Louis’ side.

“Good. I’m glad I could make you feel good. If anyone deserves to feel good, it’s you.”

Harry’s smile was shy, but not an embarrassed one like it had been previously. Instead, he stood up again, and Louis panicked, trying to tug him back down.

“Harry, please don’t go-”

“I’m going to the kitchen, Lou. Sex gives me the munchies. Want anything?”

Louis just laughed as Harry waddled off, quickly returning with two sharing bags of crisps in his hands, looking at Louis questioningly.

“Cheese and Onion, or Ready Salted? Oh sod it, let’s live on the edge and have both.”

*****

The facade Harry put on for Louis didn't last long. He’d waved him off about an hour after their escapades on the sofa, and he’d quickly divested himself of his clothes, stepping under a shower than was just a degree too hot to be truly comfortable. He scrubbed his skin until it was red, washing his hair several times until he felt so tired, he could barely stand. He dried and walked through to his bedroom naked, collapsing on top of the sheets, letting the warm air of the room dry him properly.

He answered a few work emails, answering the director of the film to confirm he’d be on set the next day, and the costume department also sent him a few photos of the new outfits they’d made for him, hoping to mask his bump from the cameras. Harry thanked them for their help, and when the emails were all done, he opened the most used contact on his phone, hitting the call button before he could think twice about it.

“Hi Mum,” he said softly into the handset, curling up on his side. He reached for the other pillow on the bed, tucking it under his bump for a little support. He’d actually seen a specialised pregnancy pillow online the other day, and was awaiting its arrival, but until then, he had to make do. “No, all is okay with the baby, don’t worry. How are you?”

He listened to her talk about her afternoon tea with her best friends for a while, adding a few comments here and there to prove he was listening, but the lump in his throat was growing bigger every moment, and it seemed like Anne could tell.

“You didn't call me to hear me witter on about Angela and Sue, so what’s up, love?”

“I’ve done something really stupid,” Harry babbled, not even bothering to hold anything back. “I...oh god.”

“Take a breath, Harry. Calm down, and tell me what you think you did wrong.”

“What I know I did wrong,” Harry commented, tugging the duvet over himself now he was dry, the cotton soft against his bare skin. “I, um, well. Louis and I, we... “

“You kissed?”

“Not exactly,” he began, well aware there was a blush spreading over his cheeks now. “We fooled around a bit? And now I think… no, I know I want him to be more than my friend, Mum.”

“Oh, sweetheart…” Anne said, and Harry wished she was there to give him a big hug.

“He doesn’t want that, though. He tells everyone who listens we’re friends who happen to be having a baby. He only helped me out because I practically threw myself at him. I’m so embarrassed-”

“Don’t be, darling. He didn't have to do anything with you, so the fact he did tells me there’s something there between you. But you two need to talk about this, you can’t ignore it and hope it goes away like you always do.”

“I don’t-”

“Harry Edward Styles, yes you do. I’m your mother, and I’ve known you for twenty five years. Talk to Louis. Before it gets awkward, and it ruins your friendship. Promise me you’ll talk to him.”

“Okay,” Harry nodded, sniffing again, feeling the all too familiar burn of tears in his eyes. “Why am I so stupid? I always screw everything up.”

The tears started to fall now, and Harry just let his mum talk him down until his eyelids felt heavy, and he ended the call. He reached out to flick off the bedroom light, plunging the room into darkness, but soon, it lit up again with a text. Harry squinted at the screen, opening it.

Louis: Night night, Haz, night night my little girl. Sleep well, looking forward to seeing you both very soon. Xxx

Harry just clicked the phone off, not bothering to reply, not sure what he could say that would make any sense right now. The words he longed to tell Louis were words he didn't want to hear, and Harry didn't know what else to do except let him cry himself to sleep over once again getting himself into a hopeless situation.

Chapter Text

22nd December

Louis adjusted the Christmas hat on his head as he wandered through the department, pleased that many of the patients appeared to be smiling despite the pain. The Christmas decorations he and Kelly had put up brightened the place up a little bit, and Louis was glad that his staff had embraced wearing some sort of festive attire, whether it was tinsel around their badges, a festive hat or festive socks. Louis just longed to give the children that ended up in the department at the happiest time of the year something to smile about, even if it was only for a few minutes.

He walked over to the big whiteboard where they listed each of the patients in the bays and removed the two patients he’d recently discharged, opening up the space for more children to come in. Luckily, it had been a fairly quiet shift, which had meant Louis had been able to spend a little more time getting to know the children he’d had to deal with so far. He still had another four hours until it was time to head home. He was going to be working an early shift on Christmas Eve, but he had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off thanks to the fact he’d worked them for the past five years, and had finally got the schedule to work in his favour.

“Louis, did you discharge Heather Watkins?” one of the doctors asked, and Louis nodded.

“Yes, Dr Lucas checked the scans and confirmed there was no fracture. I put her arm in a sling for support and she’s headed home.”

“Perfect, just wanted to double check. Thank you.”

Louis finally sat down, relieving his feet for a moment. A string of Christmas cards was hung over the desk from various staff members and even regular patients the department had dealt with, and he smiled at the childlike writing within the cards he could see, names scrawled in messy writing, lots of kisses underneath. He was glad he’d already written and sent his cards, and the ones for his best friends and Harry were sat in his bedroom, ready to be doled out soon enough.

He could hear a bit of commotion in the corridor, but Louis ignored it, knowing they hadn’t had a call about an urgent case. There was also enough staff milling around that could deal with any drama, so he stayed where he was, checking up on a couple of cases while he had five minutes to himself, pleased to have a lull in patients.

“Louis?”

He sighed, knowing the peace wouldn’t last long. He locked the computer and span around on his stool, turning to look in the direction of the voice, seeing it was another of his nurses, Megan, calling him.

“What is it, Meg?”

“Someone’s here to see you,” she said, her cheeks oddly a little pink. Louis wondered if it could be Niall coming to pick him up a few hours early, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Niall quite often got Louis’ shift patterns wrong and had been turned away countless times, sent on his way by Louis. He swiped his card to walk out of the department, stilling when he saw who was in the waiting room, crouched on the floor, talking to a little girl on her mother’s lap, looking miserable.

“Harry?”

“Oh, hi Lou,” he said, smiling at Louis over his shoulder as he got slowly to his feet, supporting his bump. He was twenty four weeks pregnant now, and Louis was sure his bump was growing by the day. Louis could feel the eyes of the room on them, but he let Harry walk over, hugging him quickly, a soft red beanie on his head, the top of his Christmas jumper peeking out over the coat he’d finally bought a couple of weeks ago, after Louis had told him he wouldn’t go out with him anymore until he was dressed appropriately for the weather, and that meant wrapping the baby bump in a coat too. “Sorry to just turn up…”

“No, it’s okay. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m great! I had a meeting with the crew today, we’ve got one more scene to do tomorrow, and then we’re done until the New Year. I was on my way home, so I thought I’d pop in.”

“Well, that’s nice of you. You want a drink or something?”

“Not really, but I did want a quick word in private, if that’s alright?”

“Sure,” Louis nodded, leading Harry back into his department and to the staffroom. They were stopped several times by Louis’ colleagues wanting to congratulate them, asking Harry about his pregnancy, admiring his bump when he opened the poppers of his coat, showing off his tummy, which Louis proudly cupped with his hand. “Sorry about that, they’ve all been excited to meet you-”

“It’s alright,” Harry stated, lowering himself into a seat, pulling up something on his phone. His eyes flicked up for a moment and Louis could sense his gaze on him, and he wished he was wearing something other than his unsightly scrubs and old comfy trainers that were like a second skin. “Um, can you come and sit down with me for a sec?”

Louis nodded and walked over, sitting next to Harry as he passed his phone over. His eyes took in the article in a national newspaper that was about the two of them. There were photos of them in town last week doing some Christmas shopping together, Louis laden down with bags while Harry strolled next to him, his head thrown back in laughter. They were gorgeous photos of the pair of them, but they did nothing to quell the rumours that they were in a relationship with each other.

The other saving grace was that the papers hadn’t yet managed to find out Louis’ identity. He knew his friends and family would never sell him out, but he had a feeling it wouldn’t be long until everyone knew who he was.

“Okay? Am I meant to say something about this?” Louis asked, looking over at Harry who was now chewing on his thumbnail, peering nervously over at Louis.

“You’re not… angry?” Harry hedged, hesitant in his words. “I didn't know they were going to be out there, Liam text me and said…”

“Love, no, I’m not angry. Not at all. It's not like you asked for this, is it? I knew what I was getting into with you. But I’ll be honest, it is making me think about something.”

“What’s that?”

“Well… what do you think about the two of us doing an interview? Put our story across, stop the rumours. It might make things easier on us both in the long run. Admit we’re having a baby but we’re not together, but that we’ll be co-parenting. You could choose who you want to do it with, you’re the expert, but I just wonder if it might be for the best.”

“You’d want that?” Harry asked, evidently surprised by Louis’ suggestion. 

“Yeah, why not? You already put up a few pictures of me on your socials, people know by now I’m the baby’s daddy. I don’t think that’s going to be a shock to anyone, but it’ll be on our terms. And maybe we could do something with them when the baby is born too? So we don’t get hounded-”

“Oh, I already thought about that,” Harry said, sitting up straighter, holding his bump again. “I don’t want to sell our baby, Lou-”

“I bloody hope not,” Louis teased, making Harry swat at his arm. “Sorry, go on.”

“As I was saying… I don’t want to sell their picture. How about… we put out just one picture of all of us, and the media can have a copy in exchange for a minimum donation to charities of our choice? That way, the public get to see our little one, and charities benefit financially. We don’t need the money, and I just thought it would be nice.”

Louis had to really bite back the urge to kiss Harry at that. It was the sweetest, most selfless thing he’d ever heard, but somehow, he wasn’t surprised at all. It was exactly the sort of thing Harry would do, and already, Louis loved the idea.

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s fucking perfect, actually. Maybe we could just get our Mums to take a photo, rather than someone fancy? If it’s good enough for William and Kate, it’s good enough for Harry and Louis…”

They both burst into laughter at that, and Louis handed Harry back his phone, the worry over the article already forgotten. 

“You alright getting home?”

“I’m pregnant, not an invalid, Lou,” Harry reminded him, standing up again and smoothing out his festive jumper. “I’m also a little insulted you haven’t commented on my new festive attire, I gotta be honest.”

“You look very Christmassy, love,” Louis said, holding the door open for Harry. “I wish I could drive you home, but I’ve still got a few hours to go yet before I can leave. Make sure you text me, okay? Let me know you and my girl are home safe.”

“You sap,” Harry laughed, doing his coat up again. He paused mid-popper, and his eyes lit up in the way Louis knew exactly what it was. 

“More flutters?”

Harry nodded and grabbed Louis’ hand, pressing it firmly against the right side of his bump. Louis concentrated on what he could feel, which was sadly nothing, just as he expected. Harry looked at him, sighing when he realised Louis couldn’t feel what he could, and let Louis take his hand back.

“I want you to feel something too,” Harry pouted, letting Louis fasten his coat for him. “It doesn't seem fair you haven’t.”

“You’re not doing it on purpose,” Louis said through a laugh, guiding Harry towards the exit, the building a little bit of a rabbit warren inside unless you were there frequently enough to know where you were going. “It’s fine. It’ll happen soon, I can feel it.”

“See you tomorrow, then?” Harry asked, and Louis nodded. “Remember I’m on set, but I’ll be back at dinnertime.”

“Alright. Drive safe, text me when you’re home.”

“Will do, bye Lou!” Harry called as he walked off, his beanie pulled down to try and disguise himself a little. Louis watched until Harry became just a speck in the distance and walked back inside, shivering a little since the thin fabric of his scrubs didn't do much to keep him warm against the cold December temperatures outside. 

“Well, he’s bloody gorgeous, Louis, where have you been hiding him?!” one of the nurses exclaimed as Louis turned around, surprised by the amount of nurses stood there waiting for answers. “Come on, spill!”

*****

“No, you don’t understand! It’s you… it’s always been you. Why can’t you see that what I feel for you is genuine? That I put you above every single other thing in my life, even my own family? That’s how much you mean to me. And if you can’t see it… well. I don’t know what else to say. Because in my opinion, I couldn’t make it any plainer than the fact I’m head over heels for you.”

Harry turned and his coat billowed behind him as he stalked away across the muddy surface, stopping as the director yelled cut, ending the scene. A small round of applause went up, and Harry blushed, heading back to his co-star, who was now mopping up her tears after the scene. It was one of the most emotionally charged moments they’d filmed so far, and this was their third, and Harry felt best, take.

“I’ll take a look at that, but I think that was it. Harry, Kate, you were absolutely stunning. Beautiful performances from both of you, thank you so much. I think that’s a wrap for now everyone, go home and enjoy your festivities with your families, and we will see you all in the New Year.”

Harry hugged Kate, wishing her a happy christmas with her family, knowing she couldn’t wait to head home to London where she, her husband and children lived. She asked him about his Christmas plans, and Harry divulged he was spending it with his mum and sister, although secretly he was hoping to see Louis at some point to give him the present he’d bought. A few other cast and crew members came up to hug Harry, wishing him a lovely break from the set, sending him luck with his pregnancy too. Some of the older members cooed over his bump, telling him he was glowing, and that they couldn’t wait to meet his little one.

Harry loved when people made a fuss over his bump, and accepted all the compliments with ease, going so far as to get one of the camera crew to snap a picture of some of the wardrobe department with their hands on his bump, all grinning at the camera. He posted it to Instagram, realising it had been a while since he’d posted anyone but Louis or the bump on there. He changed quickly, texting Liam to tell him the final shoot had gone well, and that he was done until the New Year, his manager over in L.A. to sort out something to do with Emmy’s Harry wasn’t entirely sure about. Before he put his phone away, he texted Louis, telling him to come round and that he’d get them some takeaway, and was a bit disappointed when the message went unanswered by the time he’d got changed and back to his car.

He drove home slowly, the Manchester traffic heavy as always, especially since it had started drizzling. Harry just sat patiently behind the wheel, singing away to the Christmas songs playing on the radio, belting along to Wham! as he drove. His bones felt weary as he walked the few steps up to his flat, sliding the key into the lock. The flat was warm as he went inside, but just as he went to switch on the light, he stilled, his heart full at what he could see.

Louis was curled up on his sofa, sound asleep in his scrubs, one of Harry’s cashmere blankets draped over him. His trainers were kicked off on the floor, and a full mug of tea was on the table, but probably cold by now. Harry smiled to himself, collecting up the shoes and mug to clear away as he let Louis sleep, aware he’d been on a late shift. He’d only given him a key the other day because Louis was fretting over something happening to Harry and the baby and him not being able to get inside to help, so he’d given in, watching as Louis proudly clipped it to his own bunch of keys. Now he looked at the sleeping man in front of him, Harry realised giving Louis his key was the best idea he’d ever had.

He stayed quiet as he puttered around the flat, flicking on the Christmas lights to give the room a soft glow, presents nestled underneath it in red and gold paper, ready to be opened on Christmas morning. Harry adored Christmas, always had, but despite his money, his family always insisted he not spoil them. Harry enjoyed the challenge of trying to find them meaningful presents, and had been pretty pleased with his choices this year. He’d even got Louis a little something too, even though the other man had made him promise not to get more than a token gift if he really must.

It had to be said that Louis looked beautiful bathed in the Christmas lights, his skin and hair glowing, and Harry didn't think before he pulled out his phone, taking a quick picture. He added it to Instagram along with the caption ‘Sleeping Beauty’, smiling to himself as the likes and comments rolled in as always, asking the identity of the beautiful man he was always posting. As always, Harry ignored them and headed off to get changed, not bothering with a top since he was so warm.

“Oh, you’re awake,” he said softly as he walked back into the room, smiling to Louis, who was rubbing tiredly at his eyes. “Sorry, I hope I wasn’t too loud-”

“Not at all. It’s been a couple of hours so it’s probably best I wake up anyway. Sorry, I didn't mean to doze off, but work was hell last night.”

“Hey, it’s fine,” Harry said, coming to sit close to Louis on the sofa, curling into his side. Louis’ left hand immediately went to his bump, stroking over the firm skin as they sat quietly together. “I’m sorry it was a bad day.”

“It is what it is,” Louis shrugged, pressing a kiss to Harry’s bicep. “Feel better now I’m home with you, anyway.”

Harry tried to ignore the way it felt to hear Louis saying that, referring to his flat at home, and he didn't think before he turned his head, the pair looking at each other before Harry leaned in, capturing Louis’ lips in a kiss. Kissing was something they’d done a little more lately, a quick kiss hello or goodbye, or just because Harry wanted to. If Louis had asked, he’d have blamed it on his pregnancy hormones, which wouldn’t have been entirely true, but Harry didn't care. It was Louis, though, who deepened the kiss, twisting his body until he and Harry were chest to chest, tongues in each other’s mouths. 

Harry went easily as Louis began pushing him backwards, encouraging him to lay down on the sofa, and Harry did so, his hands tangled in Louis’ hair, finally slipping down to the waistband of his scrubs, letting them slide underneath. He cupped Louis’ plump bum, loving how it felt in his palms, and he moaned, rocking his hips up. He felt Louis was hard too, but he wasn’t surprised by how quickly things were moving. Since Louis had touched him the other day, Harry felt like it had opened the floodgates, and he just wanted more. He tried touching himself, but nothing compared to what Louis’ hand had felt like around him, and right now, Harry needed his touch again.

“Louis, touch me…” he pleaded, and Louis pulled up slightly, his dark eyes looking down at Harry’s, ensuring he knew what he wanted as always. Harry found Louis getting consent each time he touched him the sexiest thing in the world. 

“Wanna use my mouth,” Louis murmured, his voice raspy, and Harry could only nod, his mind already blown at the idea. He watched Louis kiss his way down his bare chest, all over his bump until he reached the leggings Harry had put on, rubbing over his cock on the outside for a moment, teasing him. Louis smirked, knowing how worked up Harry was getting, until eventually, he pulled them down, licking his lips as he took Harry’s length in his hand, holding him firmly as he slowly bent down, tongue darting out to lick at the tip.

“FUCK-” Harry cursed, hands scrabbling to grab onto something as Louis swirled his tongue around the head, licking up the precome Harry was already leaking. He strained to look down, and managed it just as Louis put the head of Harry’s cock between his lips, his cheekbones pronounced as he sucked lightly, his fist still around the base, resting against the coarse hair Harry had struggled to tame lately, thanks to his bump being in the way. “Louis, I- oh god, don’t stop, don’t ever stop-”

Louis’ eyes dragged up Harry’s body until they met again, the view slightly obscene from Harry’s angle. His back ached from holding himself up so he allowed himself to lay back down, focusing on what Louis was doing with his cock. They’d stuck to handjobs, or grinding with their jeans on so far, and because it had been so long since Harry had been touched in this way, Harry was already close.

He moaned as Louis popped off, raising up enough that Harry could see him over his bump, his cheeks red, lips swollen.

“You taste so good, want you to come in my mouth, Haz,” Louis murmured before he went straight back to it, sucking eagerly, his hand working over Harry’s balls. Harry cried out as Louis let his hand dip a little lower, grazing quickly over his hole, and that was too much for Harry to handle. His hands flew down to grab Louis’ hair, to pull him off but Louis stayed where he was, going further down on Harry’s cock until the head bumped the back of Louis’ throat for a second. The sensation was too much and Harry came, Louis pinning his hips down as he swallowed around him, not letting a drop of come escape his mouth.

Harry was panting and breathless as Louis came up, wiping off his mouth on the back of his hand, looking pleased with himself. Harry’s back was screaming in protest, his cock soft now but he moved as quickly as he could, shoving Louis off him as he got down onto the floor, pushing Louis’ legs apart, shaking hands working at the tie of his scrubs.

“Harry, you don’t have to-”

“I want to. Want to taste you. Now, please, Louis…”

Louis just nodded and helped Harry by lifting his bum, Harry tugging on his scrubs until they came down, pulling until they were around his ankles. His cock was hidden behind his tight blue boxers, and Harry wasted no time in taking it out, admiring it for a moment. He’d felt Louis’ cock in his hand before, against his thighs, even his bum one time when they’d spooned against the sofa, and Louis had rocked against him until he’d come with a quiet moan. But this, seeing it up close, deep red and hard and beautiful, did something to Harry he hadn’t felt in a long time.

He licked his lips, his mouth already watering at the anticipation of taking Louis inside. He looked up to Louis as he leaned in, rubbing the head over his lips for a moment, Louis biting down hard on his bottom lip. It was erotic, it was everything Harry wanted and needed, and Louis just let it happen, sweat beading on his forehead.

“Shit, Haz, I’m close, I-”

Harry understood, and quickly sucked Louis down, bobbing his head hard and fast. Louis’ taste exploded on his tongue already, and he used every technique he knew, wanting to make Louis feel as good as he had felt moments ago. Louis’ thighs felt heavenly as they held his body in place, and Harry loved how it felt to be on his knees for the man he loved - Harry barely flinched at that realisation, and kept sucking, his hand working in time on what he couldn’t fit in his mouth.

“Oh fuck, shit, oh Harry-”

It was a surprise when Louis came suddenly, flooding Harry’s mouth with salty come, but he didn't mind. In fact, he quite liked that Louis hadn’t been able to hold back, and he swallowed every drop, licking and sucking until Louis gently pushed him away, pulling Harry up under the armpits and into his lap. Harry straddled Louis’ thighs and let himself be dragged into a deep kiss, tasting himself on Louis’ tongue. He’d never really kissed men after a blow job, but now he had, he never wanted to go back to not doing it.

They kissed lazily for a while until Harry started to ache, thighs sore from where they bracketed Louis’ body underneath him, and he reluctantly climbed off, Louis watching his every move, ready to assist. Harry just moved himself into Louis’ side after he’d tucked himself away, the silence comfortable between them.

“Stay tonight?” Harry asked, not daring to look at Louis as the words escaped his mouth, his heart beating quickly in his chest as he waited for Louis’ reply.

“I will,” Louis replied easily, pressing a kiss to Harry’s temple. Harry smiled to himself, and relaxed, feeling happier than he had in a long time.

*****

Louis woke up the next morning feeling like he had a hot water bottle plastered to his back, but he couldn’t help smiling when he realised it was just Harry, cuddling up to him in his sleep. They’d gone to bed in the reverse of this position, Louis curled around Harry’s body, his hand on his bump, but somehow in the throes of sleep, they’d switched around. Louis carefully extracted himself from Harry’s embrace, needing to use the loo. He crept out of the room, pleased that Harry appeared to be sleeping like the dead, and used the toilet, washed his hands and walked back in, sliding in between the covers.

Harry had gone onto his back in Louis’ absence, his bump sticking up, like it was trying to greet Louis. Louis reached out and touched it gently, not wanting to disturb Harry but wanting to touch, needing to connect with his daughter again. He very gently sat up and leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to Harry’s skin, loving how he smelt slightly of sweat, but something so purely Harry too. 

“Good morning, baby girl. Hope you’re being a good girl in there for Daddy. He’s doing such a good job of growing you and making you all strong, isn’t he? You know, it’s nearly Christmas! I know that doesn’t mean much to you, but next year, you’ll be here with us, and we’ll be spoiling you rotten.”

He kissed the bump against, cupping his hand over Harry’s sticky-out belly button, smiling to himself at how big Harry was getting now. There was no concealing it in any way, shape or form, not that Harry wanted to, and Louis loved it. He loved that he’d put that baby inside Harry, loved that they would be raising their little girl together. He left his hand there, his head resting on his palm, elbow on the mattress as he continued to mutter nonsense in a quiet whisper, all until-

“Oh my god.”

Louis stilled, keeping his hand where it was, praying it would happen again. Seconds felt like minutes as Louis held his breath, not wanting to miss a thing when it happened again - a firm kick against Louis’ palm from inside Harry’s tummy, hard enough to wake up the pregnant man next to him.

“Louis? Was that-”

It happened once more, and Louis laughed, his eyes full of tears now as Harry’s hand pressed down next to his, waiting for the kick which came just seconds later.

“She’s there, Haz. She’s telling us she’s there,” Louis said through his laughter, unable to believe this had happened today of all days, not that he could tell Harry it was his birthday. He’d been meaning to bring it up for the past few days, but there’d never been a good moment, and now, it didn't feel right to admit it was his birthday. Still, it was the most special moment of his life, and he was so glad they were sharing it together like this, after they’d spend their first night together. Louis still wasn’t sure what they were, but in that moment, he wasn’t sure anything needed defining. They were Harry and Louis, and that was enough. 

He looked up to see Harry’s eyes were full of tears as well, and he quickly surged up, kissing Harry roughly, ignoring their sour morning breath. It was a kiss full of emotion, joy and pure happiness, and Louis felt like his heart might burst with elation. It was everything he’d been waiting weeks for, and now it had happened, he knew he’d never forget it.

Their daughter kept kicking for the next few minutes, wriggling around inside Harry as the pair of them chased her with their hands, trying to work out where she’d be next. Louis kept talking to the bump, kissing it and whispering words of love, desperate for her to know his voice as well as Harry’s when she was born. She must have become tired because soon, the kicks stopped, and Louis went back up to lay on his pillow, he and Harry rolling to face each other.

“I wanted to ask you something,” Louis said, carding his fingers through Harry’s hair, thinking how beautiful he looked in the morning, pillow creases on his cheek, his skin warm and soft, leg tucked between Louis’. It was intimate, but nothing about it felt wrong. He tried not to react as Harry’s hand came up and brushed against his chest, his fingers threading through the sparse chest hair that Louis had.

“Sounds serious…”

“Um, not really. But sort of, I suppose. We’re having a bit of a lads night tonight at my place. They’ve given me a bit of a hard time lately for spending so much time with you and not letting you meet them so… would you like to come? You don’t have to, there’s no pressure-”

“I’d love to, Louis,” Harry breathed out, a small smile on his face. “It would be nice to meet your friends. Tell me about them?”

Louis started talking about Niall and Zayn, how they’d been friends for years and had stayed close despite everything. He confessed that they were the ones who knew about him getting Harry pregnant first after they spotted the article online, telling him about the first visit he and Niall made to the set where they stood for hours without any luck.

“You don’t need to bring anything, just yourself. I can pick you up on the way back from my shift if you want. I finish at seven, so I’ll swing by after that? Might shower here if that’s okay, then we can just arrive and join in the fun.”

“Sounds good, Lou. How long ‘til you have to be at work?”

“Uh, I have to leave in an hour. Why?”

“Because I can feel your morning wood against my thigh and I’d quite like to do something about it,” Harry murmured as he ducked under the duvet, making Louis groan loudly, eyes shut as all he could feel was the warmth of Harry’s mouth.

*****

Harry frowned as he twisted this way and that in front of the mirror, checking out his body. He was having a day where he felt he looked ridiculously whale-like, and nothing he wore looked good, let alone good enough to tag along to meet Louis’ best friends for the first time. For some reason, it felt important to Harry that he make a good impression, and he sighed, picking up another paternity shirt off the bed, shrugging it on. It was still a bit too snug across his bump, but no shops would be open now so Harry had to make do.

He spritzed himself with some cologne, admiring his pretty painted nails for a moment, knowing Louis loved when he did whatever he could to make himself feel good. His hair was artfully disheveled, and his paternity jeans felt comfortable, the elastic panel stretched up and over his ever-growing bump. He picked up the box of beer he’d walked to the shop to buy for the boys earlier on, and carefully went downstairs. He opened the door just as Louis indicated and pulled in, grinning at him. 

Harry descended the steps and opened the door, handing Louis the beer which he set down on the passenger seat.

“You coming in for a shower? I’m almost ready to go,” Harry said, and Louis nodded, getting out of the car and walking in next to Harry. They both stopped in the hallway as Harry shut the front door, and he turned around, surprised to see Louis stood close behind him. Hands rested on his hips, and Louis’ lips were on his for too brief a moment as they kissed hello. “Uh, you know where the bathroom is, I left your stuff on my bed.”

“Thank you, love,” Louis said, pulling off his scrub top as he walked through Harry’s flat, entirely at home by now. Harry washed up the few mugs in the sink as he heard Louis singing from the bathroom, trying not to imagine Louis naked in there. It was about ten minutes later Louis emerged, looking handsome in his skinny jeans and a long sleeved Vans t-shirt, the red sleeved top making Louis more gorgeous than ever. “Okay, I think I’m ready. Sorry I took a bit long-”

“No, you’re fine. You told your friends half eight anyway, didn't you?”

They headed outside together and Louis drove as always, the pair singing along to the radio. Harry recognised the neighbourhood as they got closer to Louis’ place, and when he parked up, the nerves were setting in in full force. He gulped, looking up at the block of flats, wondering which one Louis lived in, if he’d recognise it once they stepped inside.

“Come on, you’ll be fine once we get inside.”

Harry let Louis help him out of the car, and they headed inside, the box of beer in Louis’ arms since Harry didn't trust himself to get it up there safely.

“Did I tell you that you look beautiful today?” Louis said as he pressed the doorbell for his flat, hovering next to Harry. “You really do.”

“Thank you,” Harry answered shyly, swallowing as the door flung open, a smiley brunette man on the other side ushering them in. What Harry saw, though, made him stop dead. There were balloons pinned up in the corners of the room, banners stuck to every surface, and a large cake sat on the coffee table in the middle of the room.

“Happy birthday, you old bastard!” the man shouted rather loudly, pulling Louis into a hug, ignoring the box between them. “Come in, both of you.”

“Niall, you fucking moron,” Louis cursed, handing over the box and whirling around to face Harry, who was still stunned. “Harry, I-”

“It’s your birthday and you didn't bother to tell me, Lou?” he asked, feeling hurt that Louis hadn’t shared it with him. “I don’t- why didn't you say anything?”

“Because this-” he indicated around with his hand, an expression of exasperation on his face, “-wasn’t supposed to happen. It was just meant to be drinks, but as usual, Niall’s gone over the top. I just… I didn't want a fuss. My priority is you and our baby at the moment, not myself.”

“But I haven’t got you a present or anything,” Harry pouted, hating that he didn't have a gift to add to the small pile on the sofa. 

“I don’t care. You’re here, that’s enough. Look, let me introduce you to my friends, we can talk about this later?”

Harry huffed and nodded, letting Louis guide him, a gentle hand on his elbow as they walked to the kitchen.

“Uh, lads?” he called, getting the attention of the two men shaking crisps into bowls, both grinning when they turned around. “This is Harry. Haz, that one on the left with a gob full of crisps is Niall, and the other one is Zayn. I live with Niall, but I have a feeling Zayn’s been kipping in my bed when I’m not here.”

“It’s very comfy, and it’s going to waste now you’re shacked up with Harry,” Zayn commented, making Louis splutter, quickly denying the accusation he and Harry were living together, and Harry focused hard on not showing how much it hurt. “Anyway, good to meet you mate, nice to put a face to the name at last.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Harry said, shaking Zayn’s hand, then Niall’s. “Louis talks about you both all the time.”

“Only good things, I hope,” Niall crowed, offering Harry a bowl. “I dunno if you have any weird cravings or aversions or whatever shit pregnant people go through, but just help yourself to anything we’ve got. If not, I can pop down the shop-”

“It’s fine. I’ve been eating pretty normally, thank god, no horrible sickness at the moment,” Harry said through a laugh, already liking Niall. “Louis’ lucky to have good friends who throw him a party. I wish I’d have known-”

“You didn't tell him it was Louis day?” Niall asked, clearly aghast that Louis hadn’t mentioned his birthday. “But Louis day is your favourite day of the year!”

“No, I didn't, and I feel shitty enough about it so shall we drop it- Haz? You alright?”

Harry was wincing, clutching the bottom of his tummy as the baby kicked roughly against him, whirling around uncomfortable inside him for a moment until she stilled, kicking again.

“Yeah, just… your little footballer is going mad in there today,” he mumbled, rubbing gently over the patch of skin where she was kicking.

“This might be too forward but I don’t give a shit. Can I feel? Please?” Niall begged, and Harry laughed, nodding easily. He guided Niall’s hand to where the baby was still kicking away, and the way Niall’s eyes lit up was everything. Louis stood proudly off to the side, pouring Harry an orange juice and lemonade as Niall gabbled excitedly.

“Oh, it’s like a bloody miracle, isn’t it? That’s, like, real life, man! Lou, that’s your kiddo man, the baby Tommo making themselves known! Actual magic going on right here.”

“Fucking hell, Ni, give it a rest, will you? People have been having babies since the year dot-”

“But this is your baby, Lou! Here, feel-” he grabbed Louis’ hand, pushing it on Harry’s tummy who just watched on, bemused with the banter between the men. “Zayn, don’t miss out, come here-”

“I’m good, cheers,” he mumbled, texting on his phone where he was leaning against the fridge. “No offence, Harry-”

“None taken,” Harry replied as Louis and Niall chased the kicks around his belly. 

“Who are you texting over there?” Louis called, and Zayn sent what looked like a threatening glance to Niall, who smirked before he shrugged.

“Niall, don’t-”

“Oh, only Liam.”

“Liam?” Harry frowned, wondering what was going on. “My Liam?”

“Yep,” Niall replied, looking smug as Zayn sent him a death glare across the room. “He messaged him on Twitter about you and Lou, remember? They haven’t really stopped talking since then, bit of a bromance going on, I reckon.”

“Oh! You’re the Z Liam keeps talking about!” Harry exclaimed, a lightbulb going off in his head now, everything making sense. “I thought he was seeing someone, he got really territorial over his phone, and kept blushing when he got texts-”

“And you didn't think to tell me?” Louis shrieked, hands on his hips, and Harry thought he looked a bit like an angry kitten. “Harold, I’m disappointed-”

“I didn't bloody know Z was your Zayn, did I?!” Harry said, hands flying up in despair. “I’m not bloody psychic, Lou.”

The banter continued between the friends for the next few hours, Harry feeling like he’d always been around these three men. Liam had text Harry several times, making sure he was okay, and Harry hadn’t been able to resist snapping a group photo, sending off with the message ‘Me, Lou, bump, Niall and Z’. Liam, unsurprisingly, didn't reply to that, but Zayn’s phone was pinging at a rate of knots, much to the amusement of everyone else in the room. Louis opened his presents and they all had cake, singing loudly and out of tune to a very embarrassed Louis, who sat pressed against Harry’s side, a hand on his bump as much as he could the whole evening.

It was one of the best nights out Harry had had in a long time, Louis constantly making sure he had drinks and food, Niall asking every question he’d ever thought of about his pregnancy, but Harry didn't mind, answering every one as well as he could. They didn't make him feel like he was out of place, or that he was a famous person crashing their night. He was just Louis’ friend, the man carrying Louis’ baby, and that was good enough for them. 

Harry yawned loudly against the back of his hand, and Louis looked at him in concern, resting a hand on his thigh.

“You want to go home?”

“Sorry, I’m just so tired at the moment,” Harry said, stifling yet another yawn. “This has been brilliant, though. I’ve loved it, even if I didn't know it was your birthday.”

“Oh hush,” Louis chided as he stood up. “Lads, I’m gonna run Haz home, back in a bit.”

“Christmas hugs, first!” Niall called, diving at Harry on the sofa who just wrapped his arms around the Irish man, a look of amusement on his face. “So lovely to meet you, Haz. Don’t be a stranger, our home is your home and all that shizz. Have a good Christmas, yeah?”

“I will, and you, Zayn,” he said to the other man who was a bit more reserved, shaking Harry’s hand as he wished him a merry christmas. Louis came back with Harry’s coat and helped him into it before he put his own on. “Thanks again for inviting me, guys. Merry Christmas, see you again soon.”

They both called out as Louis took Harry down to the car, and before Louis could get Harry inside, Harry stopped him. He placed a hand on Louis’ chest and slowly leaned in, kissing him gently, not caring Niall and Zayn were clearly watching from the window upstairs overlooking the street. 

“What was that for?” Louis asked when they parted, his forehead resting against Harry’s, their breaths mingling between them.

“For tonight. For letting me be part of your night, for introducing me to your friends. For your birthday,” Harry shrugged, happy for Louis to take any one of those answers. “I had a great time, Louis.”

Louis just smiled and leaned back in, kissing Harry, a hand on his belly.

“Let’s get you home, then, love. In you get.” 

Harry smiled as Louis closed the door behind him, wondering if this time next year, things might be different between them, and he, Louis and their baby girl would be celebrating Louis’ birthday all together as a real family. He could only hope.

*****

Louis paid the Uber driver a horribly excessive amount of money and clambered out of the backseat, making sure he had everything with him. The christmas present he’d bought Harry was tucked into the garish gift bag he’d seen in a shop, certain Harry would love it. It was windy and cold, so Louis hurried up the steps, letting himself in with the key Harry had given him a while back now. He could smell turkey, and kicked off his shoes as he called through the flat.

“Merry Christmas, Harold!”

He wandered through, seeing Harry stood in the doorway to the kitchen, the brightest of smiles on his face. He had on a Christmas jumper with a big snowman on the front, but somehow, he still looked utterly gorgeous.

“Merry Christmas, Lou,” he said, rushing forward to embrace Louis, who opened his arms, letting the gift bag fall to the floor. Louis’ arms wrapped around Harry as much as they could, and when they broke from the embrace, he dropped to his knees, lifting the hem of Harry’s jumper and exposing his bump. He kissed it softly, a hand on either side, Harry’s warm skin warming him. “You missed her, hmm?”

“I always miss her when I’m not around,” Louis said, pressing one final kiss to his popped out belly button before he stood up, smiling at Harry again. “You as well.”

Harry blushed then scuttled off into the kitchen, returning a few seconds later with two plates laden with sandwiches.

“Oh my god, gimme,” Louis said, grabbing for one of the plates. If there was one thing in the world he loved, it was a cold roast turkey sandwich, and this looked pretty special. “Was this from your Christmas dinner?”

“Yep,” Harry grinned, sitting on the sofa next to Louis, barely an inch between them. He took a big bite and moaned loudly, as Louis ate quietly next to him. “Did you have a good Christmas with your family?”

“I did. The girls all moaned you weren’t there, I’ve got a few things from them, actually.” He noticed how Harry’s eyes lit up at that, and decided to put him out of his misery. “I really wouldn’t get your hopes up. Their few quid a week doesn’t buy you very exciting gifts, I promise. Phoebe got me a stressball and Daisy bought me a share bag of Minstrels.”

“Well, it’s the thought that counts, right?” Harry said, eating another massive bite. They flicked on the telly, watching a rerun of an old Michael McIntyre special, laughing along as they ate. Harry also produced some sausage rolls that had been made by Gemma earlier that morning, and an unopened tin of Quality Street, telling Louis he could eat all the orange ones as apparently, he now had an aversion to them. “God, I love him. He’s so funny. I met him once, you know.”

“Did you? Was he just as funny in real life?”

“He was actually,”  Harry replied, leaning forward to put his now empty plate on the table, stealing a Strawberry creme from the tin as he did so. “A real family man, you know? Kept talking about his wife and kids.”

“That’ll be you soon enough,” Louis joked, nudging Harry with his elbow. “Well, the kids part I mean, not the wife part.”

“Definitely not the wife part.”

It went quiet for a little while until the show finished, and Louis could wait no longer. He sprung up from the sofa, grabbing Harry’s present from the floor and he quickly dropped it in his lap, loving how excited Harry looked.

“I wouldn’t get too excited, it’s not much,” Louis started as Harry reached inside, pulling out the box of chocolates Louis had chosen for him, knowing it was the kind Harry had been craving in the middle of the night lately. He then reached back in and pulled out the red envelope, Harry written across the front in swirly writing.

“Oooh, what is it?” Harry asked, sliding his finger under the flap, dragging it from one side to the other. “Louis, what did you do?”

Louis watched his face as Harry’s eyes read across the certificate he pulled out, his smile getting wider as he realised what it was. Louis had asked his mum about this gift when he’d had the idea, and she’s gushed, saying it was so thoughtful and she wished someone had done that for her when she was pregnant.

“You like it?”

“I love it,” Harry said, lunging at Louis and pulling him into a hug. “A pregnancy special at the spa? This is like heaven for me, Lou… what do I get?”

“Uh, it’s printed on the back I think, but a pregnancy massage, you can get your nails done, and your hair... “

“Perfect… hang on, it’s for two?”

“Yeah, I thought your mum or your sister could go with you?”

“You’re just… you’re wonderful, Louis,” Harry murmured, hugging him again before he pulled away, briefly pecking him on the lips. “Thank you so much. I love it.”

“I’m sorry it’s not much-”

“Oh, be quiet. It’s a thoughtful gift, and I love that. Now, hang on, I have something for you. Let me grab it.”

Louis laughed as Harry practically rolled off the sofa, giggling as he stumbled over to his bedroom. He took a moment to look around the room, loving how festive it felt. Harry’s tree was covered in tinsel and baubles, he had fairy lights strung up everywhere, and Christmas cards littered every available surface. He heard a thud, then footsteps came towards him, Louis’ eyes widening when he saw the size of the parcel in Harry’s hands, much larger than his own.

“Oh my god, what did you do? I told you not to get me anything-”

“Shut up. This didn't cost a lot, don’t worry. But now I’m glad I did get this because it can be like a joint birthday and Christmas present.”

Louis accepted the parcel with a quick kiss, and admired the tasteful wrapping. It was wrapped in a shiny red paper, and had gold ribbon looped around the middle, a large bow in the centre. He turned over the gift tag, smiling as he read Harry’s little festive message and pulled it off, leaving it on the table to keep for later. Slowly, he unwrapped one end and then the other, turning it over to peel the two sides apart.

What it revealed was a layer of soft pink tissue paper, and as Louis lifted the present, Harry whipped out the paper from underneath it, looking slightly nervous now. Louis ripped a small hole in the tissue, desperate now to see what was inside. As it was slowly revealed, he could feel his heart start to beat faster, not able to comprehend what Harry had done for him.

“Harry, I-”

He unfolded it, holding it up in front of him, a tear already sliding down his cheek. It was a patchwork baby blanket, big enough to put inside a cot or to wrap their daughter in, but that wasn’t what made it special. Louis recognised every scrap of fabric in the blanket that had clearly been sewn by hand, and he was already overwhelmed. There were parts of his old football shirts, band shirts he no longer fitted into but kept for nostalgia's sake, fabric from dresses his little sisters wore when they were little, even a treasured shirt of his Mum’s he remembered her wearing a lot when he was little. It was like a patchwork of family memories, and he just turned to Harry, blinking slowly at him.

“How did you… this is absolutely amazing. How?”

“I called your Mum, told her my idea. I wanted something for you to keep forever, something that you could share with our little girl when she’s older. It’s also something nice for you to have at your place when you have her stay over.”

Louis sniffed, trying not to let on how much those words made his heart ache. If he was honest, that was the last thing he wanted. He didn't want his daughter being ferried between two homes, custody being split between the two of them, but apparently, Harry had thought it through and made plans already. Still, the gift was absolutely amazing, and Louis moved it around, touching each of the squares in turn.

“She sent me a load of things she’d kept from when you and your sisters were little, told me I could cut them up. I have a costume lady at work and she made it for me… for you, I mean. Do you like it?”

Louis just nodded, pressing his lips together, feeling overwhelmed. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever given him, and he leaned in, cupping Harry’s cheek as he kissed him softly, willing Harry to understand what he meant as he kissed him. He turned and put the blanket on the sofa behind him and stood up, holding his hands out to Harry, who put his inside, letting Louis pull him to his feet.

“Louis, what are you-”

He didn't drop Harry’s hand as he led him through the flat, towards Harry’s bedroom. The door was still open, the bed perfectly made in the middle of the room, and Louis walked them inside, stopping next to the bed. Before Harry could say another word, Louis kissed him, but deeper this time. He swiped his tongue gently along Harry’s bottom lip, a hand coming up to the back of Harry’s neck as he parted his lips, letting his tongue dip inside. Harry hummed as Louis kissed him deeply, trying to make Harry understand how he felt, that this wasn’t just a friendship anymore.

“I want to make love to you,” he murmured against Harry’s lips, and as Harry nodded, he grabbed the hem of Harry’s jumper, pulling it up and over his head, undressing him slowly. He continued removing each bit of Harry’s clothes until he was stood naked in front of him, hands on his swollen belly, and Louis reached down, palming himself, so turned on by the beautiful human being in front of him. “You are stunning, do you know that? I want to touch every inch of you, Harry.”

“You can,” was Harry’s reply, and he kissed Louis again, replacing Louis’ hand with his own. “Please get undressed too, want to see all of you.” 

Louis stepped out of his clothes, loving how Harry’s cock was getting harder as he watched him, his eyes following Louis’ every move. He felt exposed like this, but in the best way. When finally he was bare, he walked up to Harry, cupping his belly with his hands for a moment, wanting to be sure this is what Harry wanted.

“Are you sure you want this? We don’t have to, we can just cuddle if that’s what you want.”

“I want you, Louis. Just… can we take it slow? I haven’t… for a while.”

“I’ll take care of you, I promise,” Louis whispered, walking Harry backwards towards the bed. “Lay down, baby. Do you have lube and a condom?”

“In the drawer,” Harry muttered, shifting up the bed as Louis delved into the top drawer, emerging with a half empty bottle of lube, and a shiny foil packet. He looked at the date and sighed, seeing it had expired. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s out of date. Shit, do you think there’ll be any shops open?”

“We could… without? I mean, I’m already pregnant, and I know I’m clean as I’ve had enough blood tests with this pregnancy.”

“Me too. You sure?”

“Please. Louis, will you just come and lay here and kiss me?”

Harry was on his side as Louis laid down opposite him, Harry’s bump pressing against the flat of his tummy. Louis trailed his fingertips teasingly up Harry’s sides, loving how a trail of goosebumps followed in their wake, and he kissed him. It didn't take long for it to get more passionate, Harry’s tongue tasting every inch of Louis’ mouth as Louis pushed his thigh between Harry’s legs, giving him something to grind against. Louis knew this was going to be different from any other sex he’d had before, but already, he couldn’t wait, just the thought of being inside Harry again driving him insane with desire.

“Going to open you up, darling. Can you get on your back for me?” Louis asked, and Harry complied, slowly rolling over. Louis grabbed a spare pillow and tapped Harry’s hip, encouraging him to lift up while he slid it underneath, trying to make the pregnant man as comfortable as he could. Harry looked beautiful all spread out for him like this, and Louis watched in awe as Harry slowly spread his legs, exposing himself to Louis. “You’re so gorgeous. Shit, I feel so lucky to be seeing you like this…”

He drizzled a bit of lube on one finger to start with, and saw Harry tense up as he let his hand dip between his cheeks. He rubbed his other hand against Harry’s thigh, locking eyes with him.

“Relax, baby. I’ll stop if you want me to-”

“No, I’m just… I’m nervous, Louis. This means a lot to me.”

“And to me. You tell me if it hurts, okay?”

Harry nodded and took a deep breath in. As he exhaled, Louis slowly pushed his finger into Harry's tight heat, feeling his muscles contract around him. He kept moving until he was fully inside, and Harry moaned in pleasure, quietly asking for more. Louis started to rock his finger back and forth in small motions, not wanting to rush anything. They had all night, and he was determined to make this amazing for Harry, no matter what. After just a few minutes, Harry was grinding down on Louis’ fingers, his body already sweating slightly as he asked Louis for a second finger.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, just… I need it, please.”

Louis nodded and withdrew his finger, coating that and the next finger in lube before he pressed them both to Harry’s entrance, already slick with lube. He watched as he sank his fingers in deep, watching Harry’s rim stretching around them, letting him inside. He kept them still for a moment as Harry adjusted, and only when Harry nodded did he start to pump them in and out, enjoying every noise Harry was letting out as he opened him up.

It was when Louis was three fingers deep and Harry was writhing and moaning on the bed that they decided they were ready for more, and Louis pulled out his fingers, wiping them down on the sheet. Harry was panting, his cheeks red, eyes glassy as he waited for Louis, trying to see how Louis was touching himself now, pumping his cock, slightly nervous to get inside Harry.

“How do you want this, baby?”

“Uh…” Harry pondered for a moment, and finally rolled back onto his side. “I think you behind me? I can use my bump pillow…”

Louis nodded and fetched it from where it sat by the wardrobe, helping Harry get situated before he lowered himself behind. He hitched up one of Harry’s legs a little, letting his own leg come between Harry’s as he lined up. 

“Louis…”

“Alright, darling, I’ve got you,” Louis murmured, finally pushing his hips forward, and his cock inside. Harry’s body welcomed him in easily, the lube and copious prep Louis had done moments before making sure things were as smooth as can be. Louis didn't hurry, inching in slowly until he bottomed out, his hips resting against Harry’s beautiful bum, a hand on his bump. “You okay?”

“Feel so good,” Harry said, his voice husky and affected, hand coming up to lace his fingers with Louis’. “You can move… slowly, yeah?”

“Whatever you want, sweetheart,” Louis whispered, leaning forward to kiss Harry’s neck and shoulder as he started to gently rock his hips. Harry felt tight and hot around him, but Louis could also feel that he was relaxed, just taking whatever it was Louis gave him. Louis knew without a doubt in that moment he was in love with this man in front of him, holding his hand, letting him make love to him. It was tender and loving, solidifying Louis’ feelings with every movement of their bodies, and Louis got up onto his elbow for a second, making Harry look up at him. “Kiss me. Please kiss me.”

Harry did so, the kiss fairly shallow because of the position of their bodies, but to Louis, it was everything. He kept rocking his hips back and forth, small, shallow thrusts but it felt like every inch of his body was on fire where his skin touched Harry's. He only picked up the pace when Harry whispered that he wanted more, and he made his thrusts deeper, not wanting to get too rough or fast, needing to take care of Harry above and beyond everything else. His hand was tucked between Harry’s thighs, supporting his inner thigh as he thrust, Harry’s cock bobbing with every meeting of their bodies.

“Louis, need you to… I can’t reach, will you touch me?”

Louis didn't answer but just moved his hand to wrap around Harry’s cock, loving how hard he was just from having Louis inside him. It was definitely the most intimate moment of Louis’ life, and he briefly wondered how sex could ever get better than this. He wanked Harry slowly in time with the thrusts of his hips, getting quicker as he felt his own orgasm approaching.

“You are so amazing, giving me our baby, letting me make love to you,” Louis whispered into Harry’s ear, knowing how much he loved hearing things when they were being sexual with each other. Louis loved to watch, to see how Harry was affected by him by seeing his cock get hard, the way he bit his lip, how his eyes widened and his pupils blew, but Harry relied on what he could hear, loving Louis talking him to orgasm, hearing the sounds they made together. It made them feel perfect together, somehow. “You don’t know how beautiful you look, taking me inside you, full of our daughter, Haz…”

“Make me come, Lou,” Harry begged, tears welling in his eyes. Louis was sure his body must be aching by now, and decided to finish this quickly, to make Harry feel good. He withdrew his cock nearly all the way before he pushed back inside hard and fast, watching Harry’s bum jiggle as their bodies met again. “Oh god, yes- more-”

Louis did as he was asked, repeating that over and over while his hand kept stroking Harry’s cock, using his precome as lube to keep him from getting too sore. Harry’s body was getting tense, his pants coming in short, sharp breaths and Louis knew that was it, they were almost done. He sucked at the skin of Harry’s shoulder as he thrust his way to orgasm, enjoying every second of how Harry felt around him, murmuring compliments and dirty words to Harry who was whimpering now, desperate to come.

He felt Harry’s cock twitch just before he came, and Louis stroked him through it, as Harry chanted his name again and again, looking back at Louis as he came down from his high, smiling slightly, asking for a kiss. Louis didn't hesitate to shove his tongue into Harry’s mouth, and with two more deep thrusts, he came too, filling Harry’s body.

“Oh my- fucking hell-” Louis panted out, his chest heaving as he came hard, Harry’s body still clamped around him. “That felt… wow. Harry, you-”

He cut off with a kiss to Harry’s lips before he slowly withdrew, Harry wincing slightly as Louis’ cock left his body. Louis grabbed a tissue to clean them both up slightly before he got up and walked around the bed, coming to lie in front of Harry so he could look at him. He had a beautiful post-sex glow about him,  and Louis thought he’d quite happily die a happy man right now, a naked and very pregnant Harry spread out in front of him, sweating and red-cheeked from their love making.

“Merry Christmas, Lou,” Harry mumbled, clearly tired, but he still puckered his lips for a kiss, smiling slightly as Louis pressed their lips together for a moment. “That was so perfect. You’re so good to me.”

“You deserve everything,” Louis whispered, bending down to pull the duvet over their bodies, neither wanting to get dressed. Louis tangled their legs together, brushing Harry’s hair out of his eyes gently. 

“Stay,” Harry muttered, his eyes shut now, hand gripping onto Louis’ beneath the covers as if worried Louis was going to run off on him now they’d had sex. 

“I’m never going anywhere,” Louis said, not caring if Harry heard him. It felt like there had been a shift between them now, and Louis was hopeful it was the start of everything he ever wanted finally coming true.

Chapter Text

Louis rubbed at the front of his forehead, his headache setting in properly now. He knew the cause of it, and was cursing his carelessness, certain he knew better since this had happened before. He slid his phone out of his pocket and tapped out a text to Harry, hoping he’d get it before he had to leave work to go home and get them himself.

Louis: Hi love, I left my glasses at yours on the bedside table. Any chance you drop them in asap? I’ve got a horrible headache. X

He smiled to himself as he thought about Harry getting that text, shuffling around the flat with his bump on display, collecting up Louis’ things for him. Somehow, Harry’s flat had been feeling more and more like home lately, and Louis honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d spent a night in his own flat with Niall. It was now mid-January, and since he and Harry had slept together at Christmas, they’d become even closer, although nothing in their relationship had really progressed, apart from Louis staying over every night, albeit in Harry’s bed. 

“Louis, are you free?”

“Yeah, I am, did you need a hand?”

“Please. I need to do a blood draw on a little one and I know you’ve got the magic touch.”

Louis smirked to himself at that, loving the reputation he had amongst his colleagues for being good at his job.

“Hello, sweetheart,” Louis said as he walked into the room, smiling softly at the little boy on his dad’s lap, crying and sweaty. “Alright Dad, did you want me to take him, or are you wanting Linda here to hold him?”

“I think I’ll be okay,” the man started, looking a bit nervous as Louis prepared everything he needed. “My wife had to step outside… she doesn’t like needles.”

“Not a problem, we see it all the time.” Louis put on his gloves, but no matter what he said, the boy didn't calm down. In fact, he was becoming more distressed, and Louis decided on a different cause of action. “Right, little man, I’ve got something special for you,” he said now, pulling the gloves back off. “Want to come and see what I’ve got?”

The little boy, Ryan, shook his head, and Louis nodded, understanding he didn't want to leave his dad. Instead, Louis dashed off and soon came back with what he needed.

“Okay, so I get you’re a little worried about the needle. But this magic cream-” he said, brandishing a little tube, “-means you won’t feel a thing. I need to pop it here, on your arm, under a plaster for about an hour, then it means your arm won’t feel a single thing! Do you want to try?”

Ryan looked at his dad, who grinned and nodded, and he slowly held out his arm to Louis, watching as he applied the cream in a generous layer to the boys soft skin. He then held up the plaster, showing Ryan how he’d put it on before he did so, leaving Ryan and dad in peace, promising to be back. He was glad Ryan was calm now, it was never nice to see children in distress, especially when they were already poorly. He smiled back at the pair before he drew the curtain back around, giving them some privacy. He checked his phone to see if Harry had replied yet, and it felt a bit strange that he hadn’t, given Harry was usually glued his phone, especially on days like today when he wasn’t filming much on set and would be stuck in his trailer. 

“Louis!”

“Sorry, Kel, I got held back with a - what’s wrong?”

Louis frowned when he saw how upset Kelly looked, and he stepped over, wanting to hug her when she shook her head, pressing her lips together.

“Kelly, talk to me…”

“Lou… Harry’s here at the hospital-”

“Oh good, I text him about bringing my glasses in if he finished up early-”

“No, Louis, you don’t understand. Harry’s here… as a patient. He’s upstairs in Paternity.”

Louis didn't wait to hear anymore. He took off as fast as he could, sprinting for the stairs instead of waiting for the lift, his heart pounding, nausea in his tummy. Harry was only thirty weeks, there was no way he could be in labour already… the baby would be extremely premature, and Louis knew that didn't always mean good things for either the father, or the baby. He slowed down as he reached the department, and saw Liam pacing outside, looking as sick as Louis felt.

“Liam, what the hell-”

“Oh fuck, Louis,” Liam called, and he practically ran at Louis, wrapping him up in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here, they won’t let me in, I’m not family-”

“What happened, I need to get in there but what happened-”

“He started bleeding, mate. He was sat in his trailer between takes, and he just screamed. I called an ambulance-”

“You did the right thing. I’m going in now, I’ll pop out and let you know. Did you call Anne?”

Liam nodded as Louis swiped his way inside, almost not wanting to know what he was going to find. He went to the desk, trying to calm his breathing as he locked eyes with one of the nurses he knew, Stacey.

“Stacey…”

“He’s this way, Louis. Follow me, love.”

Louis nodded, and tried to ignore the sad faces the staff were giving him as his shoes squeaked up the corridor, hovering outside a room, the door shut. Knowing Harry was inside was bad enough, but Louis almost hated not knowing what was going on even more. He took in a deep breath and pushed down the handle, walking inside.

*****

Half an hour earlier

“No, it’s too soon!” Harry screamed on the bed in the back of the ambulance. “I’m only thirty weeks, she’s not ready yet, you have to make this stop.”

“Sir, you need to calm down, we need to get you to hospital and they’ll take care of you-”

“I need my Louis. You need to call my Louis, he’s the father, he needs to know…”

“Harry, mate, I’ve sorted it. I’ve called ahead, asked them to find him and let him know we’re on our way in. I’ve called your mum too, she was out of town but she’s coming home. It’s all going to be okay.”

“You don’t know that, Liam,” Harry sobbed, his hands covering his face now as he felt another trickle of blood leave his body, staining the sheets between his legs. They’d already stripped Harry of his trousers and underwear, only a sheet covering his modesty, but Harry could already feel blood seeping through, heightening his panic. “I need Louis.”

The five minutes more it took to get to the hospital felt like forever, and Harry didn't even bother to cover his face as he was wheeled inside, rushed to the paternity department. He kept begging the staff to get Louis, crying that he couldn’t do it alone, for them to please save his baby. The doctors and nurses were kind, hooking Harry up to various fetal monitors, inserting a cannula into his arm so they could give him some medicine.

“What are you giving me- no, I don’t want it until Louis’ here, he’s a nurse here, he knows about this stuff-”

“Harry, listen to me. We need to give you some steroids in case we can’t stop your bleeding and you go into preterm labour. The steroids will help mature your baby’s lungs, and increase their chances of survival.”

Harry held out his arm, allowing them to push the medicine through as he cried silently. The nurses quickly changed the sheets again, and Harry was alarmed to see that there was still blood present, meaning they hadn’t managed to stop it, and Harry knew that meant only bad things. The nurses soon left, and Harry grabbed at the blanket, laying back and crying as he waited for someone to arrive.

The door opened just a crack after what felt like hours, but was only about ten minutes. Harry looked up tearfully, and burst into tears when he saw Louis stood there, hurrying over to the bed. He scooped Harry up in his arms and held him tightly, his tears soon wetting Harry’s hair but neither of them cared. Eventually, Louis pulled back and wiped at Harry’s eyes, brushing his hair back as he sat on the edge of the bed, taking Harry’s hand.

“Oh darling, I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner-”

“I can’t lose her, Louis, you have to tell me what’s happening.”

“Someone’s going to come in and talk to us, darling. But look…” Louis got up and looked at the machine Harry’s tummy was hooked up to, pointing out the readings. “This is good, okay? She’s still in there, her heartbeat is strong. How are you feeling?”

“Dizzy,” Harry admitted, feeling the after effects of the blood loss now. “I’m so tired, Lou.”

“You can sleep, darling, I’m here now. I’ll wake you up when someone comes in-”

“No. No, I can’t sleep until they tell me she’s okay.”

Louis just hugged him again, holding him close to his body, rocking Harry back and forth. It felt like they were living in a nightmare. Just twenty four hours ago, they were sat on Harry’s sofa, laughing as they watched reruns of Friends, Harry running off before he wet himself as his favourite episode played. Louis had found that too funny, much to Harry’s indignation, refusing to kiss him goodnight for a good ten minutes before he caved, the pair snogging before they fell asleep. Now, though, they were in a living hell, and Harry just wanted to make everything okay.

There was a knock at the door, and Louis got up, staring at the older woman who walked in. Louis muttered that he didn't know her under his breath as she shut the door behind her, walking over with a clipboard.

“Hi Harry, my name is Doctor Holden, I’m one of the consultants on call today. Can I ask how you’re feeling first of all?”

“Dizzy, and a bit sick,” Harry admitted, not letting go of Louis’ hand at all.

“That’s to be expected. Are you dad?” she asked, turning to Louis who nodded.

“Yes, I am. Louis Tomlinson. I’m a Charge Nurse down in Children’s A&E, I’ve just come from there.”

“Ah, I see. Sorry, I’m new, I haven’t got to know everybody yet. So, what we appear to have here, Harry, is a prenatal haemmorage. This means you’ve had a sudden and unexpected blood loss, and we need to determine why this could be.”

“Placenta previa?” Louis asked, and Harry chewed on his lip as the doctor nodded, both of them looking concerned now which panicked him more.

“That, or placental abruption. We need to perform some scans to determine which it is, and our course of action. We’ve already administered corticosteroids in hopes of maturing the baby’s lungs in case we end up in a preterm labour situation. We’re going to take you now, Harry-”

“Louis, come with me,” Harry begged, panicking now, and Louis just nodded, not moving from Harry’s side. “I don’t understand, what is this placenta thing?”

“Placenta previa is where the placenta is lying low in your uterus, covering the cervix. It can be very serious, love, so we have to take this seriously. An abruption is where the placenta separates from the wall of the womb, it’s more unlikely than previa, but more serious.”

Harry started to cry again now, and Louis held him tight. 

“Alright, I’m not going anywhere, sweetheart. Let’s get these scans done, and see what we’re dealing with, okay?”

Harry sniffed and nodded. Louis walked beside him as the bed was wheeled to another room, where they performed an ultrasound. Harry could see Louis trying to watch what was happening as the doctor and ultrasound technician muttered quietly between themselves before Harry was being taken back to his room, the pair left alone once more.

“Do you think she’ll be okay?” Harry asked in a wobbly voice, still clinging to Louis. “I don’t think I want to keep going if something happened to her-”

“Hey. No, nothing’s going to happen. You’re in the best place, my love, okay? And if she did come soon, there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t be okay. You’re past the twenty eight week mark now, so they’ll do everything they can for her.”

Another knock came to the door, and the doctor filed back, a nurse at her side. The nurse peered beneath Harry’s sheet again, and nodded to the doctor.

“Okay, it appears the blood loss is slowing down, we just need to get you into some underwear and a pad-”

“Can Louis do that? I just… I want him to do it.”

“That’s not a problem,” the doctor said as Louis nodded by his side, accepting the things from the nurse without a shred of embarrassment, and Harry had never been more pleased to have Louis by his side. “It appears our concerns of placenta previa were unfounded. At the moment, you and your baby are safe, and not in imminent danger. The bleeding appears to be caused by an infection of some kind, so we need to get you on antibiotics as soon as possible. However, there are some things we need to make sure you follow to ensure your pregnancy goes as close to full term as possible.”

“I’ll do anything,” Harry said tearfully, clutching Louis’ hand.

“Okay. First of all, we need to put you onto bed rest as much as possible for the next few weeks at least. We need you to rest as much as possible, and that means taking it easy from now until the birth. We don’t expect you to stop living your life, but working at the moment is most definitely a no go. We will continue with the steroids to mature your baby’s lungs for now, and we’ll want to see you regularly. I feel better knowing you live with a nurse, and I’m sure he will keeping a close eye on you.”

“I definitely will,” Louis said with a smile, and Harry felt happier at the fact Louis hadn’t corrected the doctor’s assumption that they lived together. “Anything else?”

“I’d like to ask that you refrain from sex at the moment, particularly penetrative sex. That can cause further ruptures, and obviously pose further risk to you and the baby.”

“Would having sex have caused this?” Harry asked, his cheeks flushing slightly.

“Possibly. Have you been sexually active within the past few days?”

Both Louis and Harry nodded, the doctor remaining professional as she answered.

“It’s possible, yes. So abstinence for now is definitely the ideal situation. Finally, ensure you finish your antibiotics, and come back at any sign of discomfort, pain or anymore bleeding, however slight. I’d like to keep you in here today to get the antibiotics started intravenously, and to ensure the blood loss has stopped, but if all is okay, I’m happy for Louis to take you home tomorrow. Do you have any more questions?”

“I don’t, love, do you?”

Harry shook his head, and Louis thanked the doctor as she told them she’d be back later for rounds, and finally, they were alone again. Harry sighed as Louis tucked himself into Harry’s side, stroking his hair gently.

“I was so scared, Lou,” Harry whispered. “I just… I thought I’d done something wrong, that I’d hurt her.”

“No way, you could never hurt her. You’ve been amazing so far, sweetheart. She’s okay in there, I know it.” 

Louis’ hand came to rest on Harry’s tummy, and they sat silently for a few minutes, finally feeling calmer than they had done in a while. Louis eventually got up and helped Harry into the underwear the hospital had given him, affixing the pad in place, the pair laughing about it to Harry’s relief. As worried as he was that Louis wouldn’t find him attractive after this, Louis’ kiss when he settled him back on the bed alleviated his worries.

“I’m going to go and talk to Li, he’s waiting outside, he’s probably shitting himself,” Louis chuckled, pecking Harry’s forehead. “I’ll ask him to get you some things from home for tonight.”

“Are you staying with me?”

“Nowhere I’d rather be,” Louis said with a grin before he disappeared through the door and closing it behind him, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts. The baby wasn’t moving as much as she usually did, which was worrying Harry, but the reassuring thing was the monitor still strapped to his belly, her heartbeat evident on the trace that was being printed out. Harry let his eyes shut exhaustion setting in now, and he barely stirred as the door opened again, assuming it was Louis. “Look who I found, love.”

Harry blearily opened his eyes, and cried again as he laid eyes on his Mum. She hurried over to the bed and hugged Harry tightly, her hand on his tummy as she comforted him in the way only a mother could. Louis hung back, not wanting to interrupt the moment, but when they were done hugging, Harry held out a hand, needing Louis close.

“I’m okay, Mum, she’s okay, too,” Harry sniffed, wiping his eyes again which was now sore from all the crying he’d been doing. “I was just so scared.”

“Louis filled me in outside, sweetheart,” she said, petting his hair gently, sitting down on a chair that Louis dragged over for her. “You look pale, darling. Louis, can he have something to drink?”

“Yeah, I’ll grab him some water. It’ll be the blood loss, but his blood pressure looks okay for the moment. I’ll be back, sweetheart.”

Harry shut his eyes as Louis kissed Harry’s forehead, squeezing his hand before he disappeared again, leaving Anne and Harry alone. He sighed, turning slightly onto his side, avoiding pulling at the tubes in his arm as Anne came closer, holding his hand.

“He seems wonderful, Harry,” Anne said softly as Harry relaxed, letting his Mum’s voice soothe him. “I think it’s lovely he’s here by your side, taking care of you.”

“He has to be,” Harry muttered, not liking where this was going. “He’s the baby’s father, Mum.”

“But that’s not all he is, is it?”

Harry blushed, looking back up at the ceiling for a minute.

“He doesn’t feel that way about me, I’ve told you that. And he doesn’t know how I feel either, so please don’t tell him.”

“Oh, Harry, don’t be so naive,” Anne said all of a sudden, making Harry’s head snap in her direction. “You really can’t see it?”

“See what?”

“How he looks at you, baby. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. He’s completely gone for you, Harry. You both just need to admit to what you feel, and realise what it is you want. You do want to be with him, don’t you?”

“More than anything,” Harry whispered, his eyes filling with tears again. “But what if he doesn’t want that too?”

“There’s always a risk,” Anne said softly, stroking Harry’s arm. “But trust me when I tell you that man looks at you like you’re the sun, the moon and the stars. And that has nothing to do with the fact you’re having his baby. It’s you he loves.”

They fell silent as Louis came back in with a cup of water for Harry, and a tea for Anne, which she accepted with a soft smile. They all sat and talked, Anne and Louis getting to know each other as Harry relaxed, the two most important people in his life by his side, and neither going anywhere. He laughed as Louis and Anne laughed together, even if it was at Harry’s expense but he didn't mind. His panic from earlier had finally disappeared, and he cupped his bump, smiling softly to himself. Maybe, everything was going to be alright after all.

*****

“Okay, one of these three times a day with food. Plenty of bed rest, and no sex,” the doctor repeated, making Harry and Louis laugh, nodding. Harry was dressed in a brand new pair of paternity joggers that Liam had gone to buy for him, certain his jeans weren’t exactly going to be comfortable enough, and one of his biggest, cosiest jumpers. Anne had gone home, but promised to pop by Harry’s flat later when they got home, and Louis was oddly excited at the prospect of spending more time with Harry’s mum. She was so much like Harry, it was easy to like her as well.

“Got it, doc. Thank you so much for everything,” Louis said, sliding the medicine into Harry’s bag for later on. “Are we okay to go home now?”

“Definitely, but don’t hesitate to call us or come straight back in you have any more concerns, no matter how small your worry.”

“We will, I promise,” Louis said, helping Harry from where he was sat on the edge of the hospital bed, more than ready to get out of there. “Ready, my love?”

“I am. Thank you for your help,” Harry said, pulling the doctor into a quick hug. “The NHS is truly amazing, I appreciate everything you did for me… for our baby.”

“Anytime, Harry. Take care.”

She left the room, and Louis led the way, taking all the bags as he walked them to their car. Harry got in the passenger seat as Louis stowed their things in the boot, paying for the car park before he drove out, heading for Harry’s flat. He’d already text Niall telling him he wouldn’t be back home until the baby was born, that Harry needed his support. Niall and Zayn had both been amazing, promising that they’d do anything Louis needed, and had already offered to bring some meals around later on to save the pair cooking. Louis felt grateful to have such amazing friends, and he glanced over to Harry as they came to stop at a red light.

“Okay?” he asked, and Harry nodded, still quiet. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but they wouldn’t let you go home if they weren’t sure you and our girl were okay. I’m staying with you as well, so you don’t need to worry about being alone.”

“I don’t deserve you,” Harry muttered, and Louis didn't have time to open that can of worms as the light turned green, and the car behind him honked, making him hold up a hand in apology as he pulled away. Harry was quiet for the rest of the drive, and sloped in after Louis as they arrived back at his flat. Louis made him sit on the sofa, his feet up as he made them tea, and finally picked up Harry’s feet, resting them in his lap, stroking over his fluffy socks. 

They watched television for a few hours, neither of them wanting to do a lot more than relax, and Louis made them pasta which they ate from their laps, chatting softly as they watched the drama on BBC One. It was only eight o’clock, but Harry asked to go to bed, Louis agreeing easily. They changed into their pyjamas, and Harry spent a while using his face creams, moaning about how dry his face was from being in hospital overnight. It felt ages later when Harry slipped into bed beside Louis, the room dimly lit in the glow of the bedside lamps.

Louis shuffled down the bed as Harry rolled onto his side, pulling his pillow down with him as he faced Harry’s big tummy, kissing it softly for a second.

“You’re being such a good girl for Daddy,” he whispered, stroking softly over Harry’s tummy, wondering as always how Harry made sure his skin was so soft and perfect. “Staying in there and getting much bigger. I know we’re so super excited to meet you, but there’s a little bit longer to wait yet. We just have to be patient, and you’ll be so worth the wait, I know you will be.”

He stopped talking as he heard a sniff and looked up, concerned to see Harry in tears once again. He wasn’t quite sure how he had any tears left, but it seemed he did because they were tumbling down his cheeks again. Louis scooted up the mattress, holding his arms out, Harry quickly curling into them. Louis shushed him gently, their bodies pushed together as Harry cried himself out, using Louis’ t-shirt to dry his tears, not that he minded in the slightest.

“I’ve never been so scared in my whole life, Lou,” he croaked out, voice sore from crying. Louis reached up and cradled his cheek, wishing there was something he could to stop Harry blaming himself, or from fearing the worst. “I thought I was losing her, that she was going to be gone-”

“She’s still here,” Louis whispered, stroking his thumb along Harry’s cheekbones. “She’s in your belly, safe and sound. You’re looking after her so well, Haz-”

“I thought if I lost her, I’d lose you too. I thought I’d be all alone, Lou, and I don’t want to be alone. I want you, and I want her. I don’t want to lose either of you.”

Louis stilled for a moment, realisation hitting him like a sledgehammer. If he wasn’t mistaken, Harry was telling him what he’d wanted himself all along - the three of them to be a family. He blinked slowly, licking his lips, Harry’s eyes boring into his own. For some reason, it felt like there was no going back from this moment, not that he wanted to.

“You’ll never be alone, Harry,” he said so softly, he wasn’t sure Harry had caught the words. “You’ve got me, and you’ve got our daughter.”

“But I don’t have you,” Harry said, his voice cracking on his words. “Not really. Not in the way I want you in my life.”

“Oh, but you do,” Louis chuckled. “You’ve had my heart this whole time, Harry. It’s been yours so for so bloody long, I just wasn’t sure you wanted it.”

The smile that crossed Harry’s face at that made it worth every bit of courage Louis had had to summon to get those words out. 

“Yeah? Your heart is mine?”

“If I can have yours too,” Louis whispered, smiling himself by now. “You’re all I want. You and our baby girl, our family.”

Harry just kissed Louis at that, as if he was trying to press every ounce of want into it, trying to tell Louis that he wanted that too. They kissed softly and lazily for a while, both aware it couldn’t go any further, but it didn't have to. Louis could feel everything he needed to from how Harry was holding him, kissing him and making him feel like he belonged right there in his arms.

“Kiss my tummy. I want to do something.”

Louis didn't need to be asked twice. He pushed the covers down and knelt between Harry’s thighs, his hands on either side of the expanse of Harry’s swollen tummy. He smiled fondly at it for a second before he leaned down, pressing his puckered lips to it, glancing up at Harry. He knew he was smiling and that he probably looked daft, but he didn't care. Harry was grinning back, his phone in his hand, and soon he nodded his head, telling Louis to come and lay with him again. He hid his phone as he tapped out something, and after a second of hesitation, he turned the screen, handing it to Louis.

“I want to post this. If that’s okay? If that’s what you want?”

“I- god yes, I want that. But let me do something...”

He took Harry’s phone, quickly tagging his own account in it, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind who he was. He was Harry’s now, and Harry was his, and he wanted the world to know, damn the consequences.

Harry grinned and hit post, sending it to his Instagram account. The photo was the most precious thing Louis had ever seen, a shot of Harry’s big tummy with Louis peering up over it, his eyes shining with his smile as he kissed it, his hands visibly cupping the sides of Harry's swollen belly. It was intimate, leaving no doubt they were in bed together, and it was obvious Louis was topless too, a glimpse of his bare back arched behind him. But it was the caption that Louis loved most of all. Harry had typed out ‘My boyfriend and our daughter’, followed by a blue heart emoji and several kisses. It was the perfect way to put their relationship out into the world, and once Harry powered off his phone, they snuggled back down in bed, kissing and celebrating the fact they finally belonged to each other, and that the world knew too.

Chapter Text

“You sure you’re ready for this?” Harry asked, wanting to make sure that Louis was okay with what was happening. They were sitting in one of the management offices awaiting the arrival of a journalist Liam had organised for the first interview they were doing together as a couple. Harry had yet to make an official statement about his pregnancy, although his posts on Instagram had left the world no doubt that he was expecting a baby, and now that Louis was his boyfriend. However, Liam told him it would still be best to get their side of things out there and in their own words, so they’d finally gotten around to booking an interview which was to be published two days before Harry’s birthday in just a week’s time.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Louis quipped, squeezing Harry’s hand tightly for a moment. “I just hope I don’t fuck it up and embarrass you at all. That’s the last thing in the world I want to do.”

“Hey, you won’t,” Harry reassured him, scooting a bit closer, the two wedged together against the arm of the sofa. “Remember, she’s been told to go along with what we want, so if we don’t want something in there, we tell her. We’re paying her enough to make sure this is everything we want, and nothing less.”

“Okay,” Louis mumbled, still a lot quieter than he usually was. He’d worked a late shift the night before, and had come back to Harry’s flat, tumbling into bed utterly exhausted, and Harry had hated dragging him from his sleep to get to this interview. Still, Louis looked beautiful as ever, even though the couple weren’t being photographed. Liam had arranged a photographer to come to their flat a couple of days ago, and they’d had a nice photo taken of the pair of them, Louis’ hand proudly on Harry’s bump as they smiled at each other. “I just… this is the first time I’m really going to be putting myself out there. It’s nerve-wracking. You’re used to all this.”

Harry sighed, nodding his head. He knew Louis had been nervous about this, and despite the fact both himself and Liam had coached him through the questions that they’d put forward, he had a fear of making a fool of himself. It was exactly the reason Harry had put off doing a television interview, figuring Louis would be slightly more comfortable with something in print, where they could retract their answers if they needed to. Liam was also going to get through a copy of the article before it went to print too, so Harry and Louis could give their approval first.

“It’ll be okay-”

There was a knock at the door, and they both looked up to see a woman shuffling in, a heavy looking bag hanging from her arm as she smiled slightly at the two.

“So sorry I’m late, my Uber was late, and then the babysitter rang to say my little ‘un has thrown up-”

“Oh, do you need to leave?” Louis said, cutting the woman off. “We can totally reschedule if you need to-”

“No, it’s fine. My husband’s going home to deal with it. He’ll keep him alive until I get home, I’m sure.”

Louis chuckled at that, and Harry loved how quickly Louis had jumped in, happy to put this off in favour of a mum getting home to be with her child. They sat quietly as she rifled around in her bag, producing a digital recorder which she sat on the table, and a notebook and fluffy pen.

“Okay, I’m ready if you both are?” 

She looked up to see them nod, and started the interview.

“Right, let’s get introductions out of the way, shall we? I’m Lisa Bakewell, I work for Fabulous Magazine, and I’m here because I’ve worked with lots of Liam Payne’s clients before, and he asked if I’d do this for him. I’m really hoping it’s all going to go well, but please feel free to stop me at any time, or to change any questions you aren’t happy with.”

“Sounds good. I’m Harry Styles, as you know, I’m an actor. I’m twenty five, and I’m thirty two weeks pregnant with my… our first baby.”

He smiled across to Louis at that, letting his hand be held between the two of them for a moment.

“I’m Louis Tomlinson. I’m twenty seven, and I work as a Charge Nurse at the Royal Manchester Children’s hospital, usually in A&E. I’ve been with Harry for a while now, and I’m really excited to be a daddy.”

Harry couldn’t stop grinning at that, and leaned in, pecking Louis’ lips, the pair sharing a secret smile for a moment.

“Okay, so did you just want to talk about your relationship, or did you want me to ask questions?”

“Uh, Lou?”

“I think questions would be easiest? Stop us rambling too much.”

Lisa nodded, and opened her notebook, reading down a list of written words that Harry couldn’t decipher from where he was sat.

“So how did you meet?”

Harry blushed at that, but cleared his throat, already having prepared an answer that didn't include nearly fucking Louis in a club bathroom seven or so months ago.

“I went out for the evening on my own. I had a few drinks, and ended up talking to Louis. I’d never met him before, but I liked that he didn't know who I was. We chatted about anything and everything, and spent the night together. It’s not something I usually do, but things felt different with him that night. They always have done, if I’m being honest.”

“Well, that’s lovely. So you weren’t a couple when you found out you were pregnant?”

“No. I wasn’t in touch with Louis at that point, I ended up taking the test at home with Liam. If he wasn’t there, I think I’d have lost the plot. But everything came right in the end, Louis found me, and that’s all that matters.”

“Louis - how did you react when you first found out Harry was pregnant and that you were the father?”

“I was shocked, of course,” Louis started, squeezing Harry’s hand gently, resting them both on his thigh. “But like Harry said… it was different with us. Even though we’d only really spent a night together, I couldn’t get him out of my head. So when I saw he was pregnant, and I had a good idea the dates matched up and it was my baby, I was determined to be part of my kid’s life. I didn't want to be like my own father and walk away from my responsibilities.”

“He was amazing. Right away, he wanted to be friends, to help out however he could. He came to all my scans and things, we’ve even got a baby class next week and we’re going along to that together as well. I don’t think there’s anything Louis wouldn’t do for his baby.”

“Or for you,” Louis cut in, making Harry smile dopily again. “But he’s right.”

“And you’re a couple now?”

“Yeah. We started off as friends,” Louis explained, biting his lip as he contemplated his next words. “But I quickly realised I felt more than friendship for Harry. It wasn’t just to do with the fact he was carrying my baby, either. He’s just an amazing person, so kind and funny and gorgeous… I just never thought he’d be interested in someone like me.”

“What do you mean?” Harry frowned, trying to work out what Louis meant with that comment.

“Well, what can I offer you, really? I’m a nurse, Haz-”

“What can you offer me? How about love? Stability? Respect? A-” he cut himself for a moment, not wanting to scare Louis off, but then he decided to be honest, to put it all out there. “A home, Louis. That’s what you offer me. All of that. You should know by now I don’t care about money or status or whatever. I want to be with you for you… for our family.”

Louis surged forward, foregoing words and kissing Harry roughly on the lips, both of them ignoring the journalist now, who was smiling to herself at the sweet display of affection in front of her.

“Don’t say that shit about yourself again, you hear?” Harry asked, and he felt pleased when Louis nodded, the pair straightening themselves up, blushing slightly at the realisation they’d gone a little bit off track. “Sorry about that… just had to put him right.”

“It’s no problem, honestly. I think you’re both a lovely couple, actually. You balance each other out, and it’s pretty clear you adore each other. Was there something specific that prompted you to be honest about your feelings and to head into a relationship together rather than stay on the path of friendship?”

“Harry had a bit of a medical emergency,” Louis said, his voice low as he recalled that horrible day. “He was bleeding a bit, and was rushed into hospital. I was working, and got told he was there. Luckily, everything was fine, but it made me realise that Harry had to know how I really felt. So I told him I wanted to be with him, that my heart was his. And, well… then we posted that picture on Harry’s insta. So yeah, kind of sweet, I suppose.”

“Beautiful,” Lisa agreed, scribbling something in her notepad. “So Harry… can I ask you something? The media has never explicitly said you were straight, but you were always seen with various women at your engagements. There was certainly never a hint of the fact you were into men as well. Was that a conscious decision you made for the sake of your career, or…”

“Not really. When I was younger, I didn't have the amazing team that I do now. I certainly wasn’t lucky enough to work with Liam as closely as I do now, so I went along with whatever my management team at the time told me to do. I was open about the fact I’m into men, but they told me it would harder to win the bigger parts if I put that out there. I refused to say I was straight, so instead, they just asked me attend events with these other up and coming actresses. I was naive, and saw nothing wrong with it, so I went along and did it.”

“I see. But you dated men?”

“I wouldn’t say I dated anybody,” Harry said, shrugging his shoulders. “Louis was the first man I’d been with in a long time. Like I said before, it felt different with him and I felt safe to have sex with him and not have it splashed across the papers the next morning. But when I got papped with my bump out, I knew it was all going to come out anyway.”

“Just to be explicit - you’re gay?”

“I am. Very gay, and very happy,” Harry grinned, leaning his head against Louis’ shoulder for a moment. “I’m happily settled with Louis now, and I don’t foresee anything changing. He makes me happier than I’ve been in a long time, and if my fans have a problem with me dating a man and having Louis’ baby, then that’s their issue, not mine. I’m sorry to anyone I led astray for all those years, that I perpetuated a false image of myself. But now… I’m being honest, and I’m telling the world who I am. I’m Harry, I’m gay, I’m pregnant, and I’m with Louis. And that’s exactly what I want.”

They continued to chat for a little while longer about the pregnancy and their baby, listening as Lisa divulged her own stories of motherhood, the three of them getting along like old friends by the time it was done an hour or so later. Harry had never been part of an interview that was so relaxed before, and he felt so relieved to finally get his side of events out there, already excited to see what the finished article was going to be like before it went to press the following weekend, in just five days time.

“Now, I thought it might be nice for me to just snap a candid picture of the two of you rather than something forced? I know someone came round to your house the other to take some photos, but I quite like this approach myself...”

“Perfect,” Louis agreed, sneaking behind Harry and placing his hands on his bump, grinning at Lisa over Harry’s shoulder. “How’s this?”

“Louis, you twat,” Harry teased, laughing as Louis jokingly bit at his shoulder, throwing his head back in laughter. “You don’t want to stand next to me?”

“I like being behind you!” Louis cried, and suddenly the room fell silent before it exploded in laughter, all three of them practically crying at Louis’ slip of the tongue. “Oh fucking hell, me and my big gob! Please, Lisa, don’t print that!”

“I won’t, god, that was gold,” she said, wiping under her eyes as her make-up started to run. “You two must have so much fun together.”

“We really do,” Harry agreed, turning to kiss Louis again, blushing as he heard her phone click another photo of the moment. “Come here, let’s get one of all three of us.”

“That would be great, thank you!” she said, and Harry took the camera, angling his arm out until all three of their faces were on the screen, grinning widely as he took a few pictures. “Are you alright if I tease the interview on social media with this photo?”

“Oh, please do. I’ll share it on my accounts as well,” Harry agreed, watching as the woman started to gather her things, getting ready to leave. “It’s been so lovely to meet you. Honestly, this has been the best interview I’ve done in a long time, so I really appreciate you making this so easy for us to do.”

“It’s my pleasure,” she agreed, hugging both men quickly. “I hate to dash, but I really should get home now-”

“No worries, we get it. Take care, I hope your son is better soon,” Louis smiled, holding the door open to the room, and they both waved as Lisa clacked her way down the corridor in her heels, finally leaving the two of them alone. “Well. That went better than I expected.”

“That was amazing ,” Harry agreed, walking up to Louis and hugging him tightly. “They’re going to print an interview about us, baby. I can’t believe it. I’ve always wanted this… to be happy with someone, and to tell the world about it, and now I get to do that.”

Louis arched back for a second, his expression serious, and Harry panicked, hoping Louis wasn’t going to say something negative. “Aren’t you worried about there being any backlash to you coming out?”

“If they’re going to have an issue about who I lo- who I‘m in a relationship with, that’s their problem, Lou. I don’t want people like that as fans anyway. I want people who support me, and are happy for me and you. I deserve to be happy, just like everyone else.”

“And you are? Happy, I mean?”

“More than happy,” Harry agreed with a smile, tugging Louis back against his body, his bump a mountain between the pair of them. Harry was sure he’d grown overnight yet again, but he wasn’t complaining. He loved how his body was changing every single day, and he knew that Louis loved his bump just as much as he loved the rest of his body. “Happiest I’ve ever been, I reckon.”

And he kissed him again, just because he could.

*****

“No Harold tonight?” Niall asked as they pushed their way through the crowd at the pub, finally finding a small corner table for the three of them, perching on the outer stool, leaving the one tucked inside for Zayn, who was running late but promised to be there as soon as he could. “You two can actually be apart and survive?”

“Fuck off, Ni,” Louis said across the table, rolling his eyes. “He’s on rest, you know that. He had a meeting with the production team today as well, so he’s knackered. He doesn’t mind if I come out with you guys… we’re not attached at the hip, whatever you might think. We just like being together.”

“Nowt wrong with that,” Niall agreed, standing up and pulling out his wallet. “Same as usual? I’ll get Z one, too. He’ll be here soon.”

“Hmm? Yeah, a beer would be good,” Louis agreed, getting his phone from his pocket as Niall pushed his way towards the bar, waiting to be served. Louis was sure he’d be a while given how busy it was tonight, so he text Harry, smiling as a picture message came through. It was Harry in the bath, his belly peeking up over the top of the water, one of Harry’s hands resting on top with the message ‘ Hi Daddy, we miss you lots, cuddles tonight? Love Papa and bump xx’ . Louis’ heart melted and he tapped out a reply, telling Harry he missed him and couldn’t wait to come home, only jostling from his reverie when someone slapped a hand down on his shoulder.

“Dirty pictures at eight at night? Honestly, you two…” Zayn teased, and Louis laughed, shaking his head as he proudly showed Zayn the photo, the other man not as interested in Harry's belly as he was. “Shit, he’s got huge, hasn’t he?”

“Yep. My little girl is growing so well,” Louis agreed, pride filling his chest as he spoke about his baby, his favourite topic of conversation. “Oh, your mum text me about the article, I told her thanks. She’s lovely, she is.”

“I know. But it was a great article, Lou. And that picture of you and Haz kissing… so cute!”

“She didn't tell us she was using that one! But yeah, she was awesome, really nice lady. I was shitting myself, Z, thinking it was gonna be a rough ride, but she seemed genuinely happy for us. I love that she didn't twist our words either, everything we said was in there.”

“Well, I’m pleased for you, mate- ah cheers, Ni. Need this.”

Niall set down the three beers on the table, and each of the men grabbed one, clinking glasses before they took a few gulps. It felt like too long since Louis had been out with the boys for a drink, and as much as he hated leaving Harry at home, he knew he needed a bit of time with his best friends as well. He felt calmer knowing Harry was at home and relaxing in the bath, probably with some of his favourite music on, and his scented candles dotted around the place. Louis smiled to himself at the thought.

“You’re thinking about Haz again, aren’t you?” Niall asked, and he and Zayn just fist-bumped each other when Louis just shrugged and nodded, not ashamed of thinking about his pregnant boyfriend at all times of the day.  “Ah, Tommo’s showing off his emotional side!”

“And? I don’t care, Ni. I’m going to be a dad, and I care about Harry. A lot, actually. But enough about us. How’s work going?”

“Yeah, alright,” Niall said between sips, waxing lyrical about his job for a little while Louis and Zayn listened, nodding in all the right places. After a while, Louis could sense someone staring at him, and he tried to keep listening to Niall as he glanced surreptitiously over his shoulder, trying to work out if his instincts were right. They were, and he eyeballed a man stood near the bar, sneering at him and his friends. “Oi, Lou- what do you reckon?”

“Huh? Sorry, didn't hear you,” Louis apologised, not wanting Niall to feel ignored but he didn't like the way that stranger was making him feel. “Say again?”

“Doesn’t matter… what’s wrong? You look worried… shit, is it Haz or the baby?”

“No, just… that guy over there is watching me. Hasn’t stopped staring at me, but I don’t know why.”

“Probably just recognises you from the article,” Zayn mused, ever the pragmatist. Louis hoped that was the case, and turned back to Zayn, listening to him talking about the art class for toddlers he’d done the other day at the community centre, smiling at his stories.

“You’re the one who knocked up Styles, right?” 

The voice cut into Zayn’s dialogue, interrupting him and Louis just turned, blinking as he looked up at the bearded stranger.

“Uh… what’s it to do with you?”

“Just wanted to see if it was true that he’s into men. Used to like his films, but not so much anymore.”

“Well, he’ll be just devastated about that, I’m sure,” Louis deadpanned, sensing Niall and Zayn sitting up straighter next to him, neither of them liking where this was going. “I’m having a night out with my mates, so if you don’t mind-”

“I do, actually.”

“Are we gonna have a problem, mate?” Niall said, now getting to his feet and squaring up the man. “We’re having a quiet night out, leave us be.”

“Suppose you’re one of them as well? You disgust me, all of you. And you can tell Styles from me that he disgusts-”

“I won’t tell him anything. He doesn’t need your shit, especially right now. So fuck off. Now.”

“You heard him,” Zayn said, rounding the table to push the man away, a gaggle of people looking on by now. “Get lost. Leave us alone.”

“I think you need to leave, sir,” one of the employees said, sensing the issue now half the pub was looking on. “We won’t tolerate any kind of hatred in this pub, so please leave, and don’t bother coming back until you’ve decided to be more tolerant of everyone.”

The pub was silent as the man pushed his way out and towards the door, giving Louis one last glare and a middle finger before the door slammed shut behind him. Louis sagged as the rest of the patrons went about their business, but the employee stayed by their table, giving them all a regretful.

“I really am sorry about that. I meant it when I said we don’t tolerate any hatred or discrimination. For what it’s worth, I saw the interview you did with your boyfriend, and it was lovely. I wish both of you all the best. I’ll get you guys another round, on the house.”

“Appreciate that, mate, thanks a lot for your help,” Louis said, shaking the man’s hand before he walked off, Niall following to collect their drinks. “Why are people such dickheads? It’s the fucking twenty first century, and people are still pressed over the fact guys can fuck other guys and enjoy it? Seriously?”

“Ignore him. He’s not worth it, Lou. You know Haz would say the same thing. Everyone who means something is happy for you guys, so just take that and roll with it. There’s always going to be shitheads like him, but you have to focus on what matters.”

“Yeah, I know-”

Louis cut off as his phone pinged again, and pulled it out, smiling at the picture of Harry that greeted him. He was wrapped in a blanket, his head peeking out, curls all over the place. The message read I miss you lots, need my cuddles. Say hi to the boys for me. H xxx , and Louis quickly replied, promising to be home within the hour. Niall returned with the three new beers, and all three men changed the subject, Louis determined not to dwell on that shit for much longer. All that mattered was that he and Harry were happy, sod everybody else, especially those he didn't even know.

*****

“Sorry, H, we know you’re tired mate, but do you mind reshooting this last scene before you go?”

Harry shook his head even though his back was screaming in pain, and his feet felt like they were on fire. It was the first day back on set since the bleeding a few weeks ago, but he’d had nothing since, and the midwife had cleared him for light duties at work. Luckily, the crew had been very accommodating, making sure Harry was sat between takes, and that he had everything he needed at his disposal. Louis had been upset he’d been working and unable to support Harry, but Harry had just kissed him until he’d stopped worrying, telling his boyfriend he could cope for one day, and that Liam was there if he needed someone.

“Sure. Do I need to change again, or…”

“No. It’s a follow on from the last one, so you should be good. Just get your hair sorted, and we’ll get it shot.”

Harry nodded and waddled slowly over to the hair and make up trailer, sitting down with a big huff at last as he arrived. He was starting to get breathless now whenever he walked anywhere further than just a few steps, much to his frustration, although Louis had taken it as a cue to get him to rest more, which Harry hated.

He made quiet conversation with one of the hairdressers as they coiffed his locks. His hair seemed to have got thicker and shinier since he’d gotten pregnant, and he thought it was probably the best thing about it all if he was honest. He loved when Louis played with his hair whenever they curled up on the sofa, or in bed, and it was no different as the hairdresser, a young man called Luke, worked his comb through, Harry’s eyes fluttering shut at the nice sensations.

When he was done, his hair styled to perfection, he walked back onto the set. He walked over to Kate, his co-star, and they quietly started running their lines together. Harry was grateful to work with her, she’d been so brilliant about his pregnancy and baby-brain causing him to make the odd mistake with his words here and there, but they’d both laughed it off, much to Harry’s relief. They got into place as the director called for starting positions, and Harry delivered his lines with as much emotion as he could muster, bouncing off every cue Kate gave him.

“And… cut!” the director yelled, and the crew burst into applause, happy with how it had gone. “Fabulous, everyone. That’s a wrap for today. We’re on set tomorrow with Kate, Jeremy and Flynn, so I will see you there. But hold your horses…”

Harry turned as it all went silent, and he couldn’t stop smiling as Louis emerged through the crowd of camera men and women, a huge bunch of flowers in his hand and a silver gift bag dangling from his fingers. Everyone started to sing Happy Birthday, making Harry blush, and when Louis stopped in front of him, they kissed, not caring everyone was looking.

“You dick, I said I didn't want a fuss,” Harry chided softly, pecking Louis’ lips again. 

“Tough luck. Your first birthday with me as your boyfriend, so get used to it. Over here, please, Li, birthday boy gets first dibs!”

Harry laughed as Liam wheeled over one of the catering trollies, a huge three tiered birthday cake in the centre.

“Happy birthday, mate, I didn't forget, see?” Liam said, hugging Harry quickly as Louis started to slice the cake. Harry couldn’t take his eyes off Louis’ figure in the skintight scrubs, watching him interact with the people all around him, making easy conversation. He knew Louis had to be tired after a late shift, but the fact he’d made the time to come here and surprise Harry after work meant the world. 

“Here you go, sweetheart,” Louis said, producing a piece of cake on a napkin for Harry, kissing him quickly before he let Harry eat. “Li chose the cake, but I cut you a bit of the chocolate layer. I know you’ve got a sweet tooth at the moment…”

“I do,” Harry agreed, taking a big bite of the cake and moaning as the taste exploded in his mouth. “Oh my god…”

“Hey, I’d rather your colleagues didn't hear your sex noises, if you don’t mind,” Louis muttered, pressing a hand to Harry’s bump. “You opening your pressie at home?”

Harry just nodded, his mouth still full of cake. He thanked everyone who came up and wished him a happy birthday, many of them protesting the fact he hadn’t made it public knowledge until Louis had arrived, giving the game away. He was worn out by the time Louis guided him out to the car park and into his car, practically falling asleep on the drive home. Louis helped him inside, and settled him on the sofa as he disappeared to have a quick shower, leaving Harry alone with a few cards that had arrived in the post.

He was Facetiming Anne when Louis emerged from Harry’s room in one of his t-shirts, the baggy fabric hanging from Louis’ smaller frame, and Harry beckoned him over, keen to put his boyfriend on the screen too.

“Oh hello, love! Nice to see you, how was work?”

“Busy. Sorry, I didn't know H was talking to you, or I’d have come out earlier.”

“Not to worry. I can’t believe my baby is twenty six, madness!”

“Your baby is having a baby, Mother. I’m not a child anymore!”

Louis just laughed as Harry and Anne bickered, and Harry smiled fondly at how well they all got on, everything he’d ever dreamed of. Louis left after a few minutes to make them some dinner, and Harry wound up the conversation, finally wanting some alone time with Louis. He wandered into the kitchen as Louis was making some sort of pasta dish, and Harry’s tummy rumbled loudly, stopping Louis in his tracks until they both laughed.

“Alright, your daughter is hungry. Feed us, Tomlinson.”

“I’m trying,” Louis pouted, a tea towel flung over his shoulder now. “You look gorgeous, by the way.”

“This?” Harry frowned down at his outfit, shrugging at the sight of the lilac polka-dot paternity blouse, and soft grey leggings he’d put on. He didn't think it was anything special, but Louis always made sure to make him feel like a million dollars, which Harry really appreciated. “Thanks, Lou. Um… can I open my present now?”

“Sure,” Louis shrugged, taking the pasta off the heat to finish later on as Harry walked ahead of him to the sitting room, Louis joining just seconds later. Harry lowered himself into the sofa, and Louis sat next to him, passing Harry the gift bag. “Now if you don’t like it… tough. I can’t exactly take it back, so just pretend, yeah?”

Harry smiled and nodded, lifting the messily wrapped parcel from the bag. It had more than enough sellotape on it, but Harry found a corner that wasn’t quite stuck, using it to start pulling the wrapping paper off. Inside was a black box, and Harry bit his lip as he opened it, wondering what he’d see inside.

“Oh, Louis…”

He held up the item closer to his face, marvelling at it and wondering what it was for a moment. He lifted the silver necklace out of the box, holding the flat silver bar against the back of his hand, looking down at the etching in the metal with a puzzled expression.

“Okay, so… this is from me and our little girl. That thing engraved on there-” he pointed to the zigzag lines on the silver plate, “-that’s the sound recording of her heartbeat. I don’t know how they did it, but I sent them the file, and they engraved it onto this. I just thought it might be nice for you to have-”

Harry cut him off with a bruising kiss, his eyes scrunched shut, hoping to hold back his tears but failing miserably. Louis’ hand was around the back of his neck, and Harry deepened the kiss, pushing his tongue into Louis’ mouth for a moment before he finally broke away, desperate to wear his new jewellery.

“Put it on me please?” he asked, and Louis nodded, using the delicate clasp to fasten it around Harry’s neck before he turned, looking at how it rested against his chest. “Louis, I love it. It’s so… thoughtful. Seriously, this is wonderful, babe. Thank you so much.”

“You’re so welcome, Haz. I… you deserve it. You deserve the world, really, but this will have to do. Happy birthday, love.”

“Stand up,” Harry instructed, getting to his feet rather ungracefully, but he didn't care. He pulled Louis close, stretching his arms out to lay his palms on the curve of Louis’ waist. “I know the doctor said we can’t, but I really want you to make love to me, Louis.”

“Haz…”

“Come on, Lou, please? I’ve been fine, and we can make it slow and gentle? I’ll tell you if it hurts, or I need to stop? I just… I want to be close with you. And I haven’t had birthday sex in years…”

Louis laughed at Harry’s comical pout and agreed, the pair walking quietly through to Harry’s bedroom, where Louis undressed Harry, kissing every inch of his body until they were both naked, and Harry was begging for more. They kissed and touched since the scare a few weeks ago, but this was the first time they were attempting more, and although Harry felt nervous, nothing had ever felt so right.

He laid on his side as Louis gently opened him up, whispering compliments as he did so, and Harry felt so relaxed, so good from just Louis’ fingers working inside him, knowing exactly what Harry liked already. When Louis finally entered him from behind, the pair spooning, Harry wanted to cry. It all felt so good, he felt so loved and cherished, and Louis’ hands glided up and down the sides of his body, brushing past his sensitive nipples as he rocked his hips back and forth, shallow thrusts that had Harry moaning quietly.

After, when Louis had come and had used his hands to bring Harry’s orgasm around too, they both laid facing each other, bodies sweaty and slightly sore, but so happy. Louis reached up and tucked a lock of Harry’s hair behind his ear, smiling sweetly at him.

“I love you, Harry.”

Harry stilled, blinking slowly as a rush of emotions hit. They were the words he’d been holding back for too long, and he felt stunned Louis had beaten him to it. He was sure he was going to be the one admitting he’d fallen in love first, and he quickly blinked back more tears before he spoke himself.

“I love you, too. Have done for a long time, actually.”

“Good, because I’ve kinda slipped up so many times. I nearly told you earlier, but now it just… it feels right. And you need to know, because I do. I love you so much.”

“Move in with me,” was all Harry could think to say, and he carried on speaking, blurting out every thought in his mind. “I want to raise our daughter together. I don’t want her going between our houses. I love you, you love me… we both love her. Let’s live together, be a proper family. Please tell me that’s what you want.”

“I do, Haz. Feels like I’ve been living here for months anyway, might as well make it official before she comes along.”

They kissed as if to seal the deal, and Harry couldn’t stop beaming, unable to believe that all this happiness had come from what he’d thought was going to be a one night stand. Louis had taken his life, shook it up and made it the best version of it that it could ever be.

“Let’s buy a house, though,” Harry whispered between them as Louis flicked off the light, both of them needing to sleep. “A flat’s no good for us. We need to find a family home, Lou.”

“We do, you’re right,” Louis replied as Harry gently turned himself over, needing to be the little spoon. “But we’ll talk about that in the morning, alright? You’re tired, and you and my baby girl need your rest. Happy birthday again, baby.”

“Best birthday I’ve ever had. Well, since I was five and had a McDonald’s party and I thought I was the coolest kid in the world,” Harry mumbled, his voice addled with sleep now. Louis’ arm came across his belly, his palm pressed in its usual place as the room fell silent. “G’night Lou. Love you.”

“I love you too, both of you,” Louis replied, rubbing his hand up and down for a moment. “Goodnight, my love.”

Chapter Text

Louis looked at the huge pile of gifts he and Harry had just opened, and his heart felt ridiculously full. Everyone had gone to such an effort to buy them something useful for their baby, and he couldn’t believe how generous everyone had been to them. He looked to Harry, who had a beautiful baby scrapbook open on his lap, flicking through the pages and reading the titles printed on there.

“You alright, Lou?” Niall asked, plonking himself next to Louis on the floor. “Growing up, huh?”

“Yeah,” Louis chuckled, glancing around him at his family and friends, and his very pregnant boyfriend who was sitting with his Mum and sister on either side, absolutely glowing. “Just… can’t believe this is my life, you know? I’m living with my pregnant boyfriend, our baby is due in like two and a half weeks, and... shit, it’s just getting real, you know?”

“But you’re happy?”

“Happier than I’ve ever been,” Louis confirmed, slinging an arm around Niall’s shoulder. “Look at him, though. He’s all pregnant and glowing and gorgeous… how could I not be the happiest man in the world?”

At that point, Harry glanced over and met Louis’ eye, the pair sharing a quick smile across the room. He watched as Harry’s hand drifted down to his bump, probably where their baby girl was kicking madly, as it was typically the time of day when she was more active than not. Louis mouthed ‘love you’ over to Harry who quickly returned it, blowing him a kiss across the room that made Harry dissolve into giggles.

“Go and sit with him, I can see you want to. I wanted to go and find Payno, actually.”

“I need a drink first. I haven’t seen Haz drink in a while, so I’ll grab him one too. You want one?”

“Nah, I’m good, ta.”

Louis stood up and mimed getting a drink to Harry who nodded, and he slipped through the groups of people stood talking. He kissed the back of Lottie’s head as he walked by, smiling at how she was chatting easily with Kate, Harry’s co-star in the movie, and Jill from the costume department, who Harry had been adamant about inviting to their baby shower.

He walked into Harry’s kitchen and opened the fridge, pulling out the bottle of orange juice, and whipping himself and Harry up orange juice and lemonades, sticking a stripy straw in each before he turned, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He leaned around the fridge, and bit back a smile as he saw Liam cup Zayn’s cheek, their other hands gently linked between them. He watched as Liam leaned in, brushing his lips quickly against Zayn’s, and he moved away as quietly as he could, not wanting to interrupt them.

He made a beeline for Harry, grinning as Gemma got up to make way for him, and sat down, handing him his drink before they kissed quickly as Harry put the book to one side, adding it to the already huge pile of gifts they’d accumulated.

“Want some gossip?”

“Always,” Harry said eagerly, his eyes lighting up as Louis shuffled so close, their thighs were pressed against each others. He leaned in to whisper into Harry’s ear, moving his hair out of the way as he spoke.

“So… guess who I just saw getting a bit cosy in the kitchen?”

Harry looked around, trying to see who was missing, and Louis knew the moment he realised who it was by how his eyes widened, his jaw dropping slightly.

“Liam and Zayn?”

“Mm hmm,” Louis agreed, sipping on his drink. “Li was cupping his cheek, and they kissed- oh shut up, you bloody twit!”

Harry’s squeak drew the attention of everyone in the room, and he leaned forward, resting his head on Louis’ shoulder while the attention on them passed, everyone drifting back into their own conversations quietly. 

“Sorry, I got a bit excited. But you really think they’re a thing?”

“Think so. Definitely looked like it. I can imagine them being good for each other, actually. Zayn’s pretty chill, I think maybe Liam needs someone like that in his life?”

“Yeah, someone grounding. A bit like you are for me.”

“Sap,” Louis muttered as he let Harry kiss him again. “How’s your back?”

“Sore,” Harry shrugged, rolling his shoulders for a moment. “I guess it’s inevitable this far into being pregnant, right? I feel better now we’ve packed the hospital bag, actually. Feels like we’re prepared if I was to go into labour tonight.”

“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Louis said, determined that Harry was going to get as close to forty weeks pregnant as he could. “My little girl’s got a couple weeks more cooking to do yet, thank you very much.”

Harry just laughed as Louis got up, turning and taking Harry’s hands as he pulled him up as well, hating that Harry was visibly in pain as his bones ached from the extra weight he was carrying around. He admired Harry’s pregnant body for a moment, the way his silky shirt skimmed the outer part of his bump, how his soft leggings cupped his long, lean thighs, and he let his mind drift to the shower they’d shared that morning. Louis loved waking up with Harry every morning, especially now he was officially moved in, and he was sure things were only going to get better for the two of them.

“Want to get their attention, love?” Louis asked, and Harry nodded, clapping his hands a couple of times. The conversations fell quiet, and all eyes were on the expectant couple. Louis slipped his arm around Harry’s waist, grinning at everyone as Harry started to speak to their nearest and dearest, everyone hanging off his every word.

“Uh… Lou and I just wanted to thank you all for coming today to celebrate our baby girl with us. We’re really touched by all the amazing things we’ve received, you’re all the best family and friends we could ever have wished for. Enjoy the rest of the food, otherwise I’m gonna have to roll Lou to bed tonight, so any help with that will be much appreciated!”

“Cheeky fucker!” Louis blurted out, making the gathered congregation laugh as they kissed softly, one of Louis’ hands on Harry’s swollen belly. “Zaynie, come here a sec…”

Louis slipped his hand into Harry’s as they waited for Zayn to drag himself away from the conversation he was having with Jay, and when he arrived, the couple just smirked at him, Zayn frowning at them.

“Why do you both look like that?”

“Like what?” Louis asked, trying to sound as innocent as possible, Harry not bothering to try and hide his smile now.

“Suspicious. Like you know something I don’t…”

“Well, we just might,” Louis teased, making Harry snigger next to him. “Anything to tell us, mate?”

“No?” Zayn replied, his answer coming out almost like a question. But the blush on his cheeks said otherwise. “Oh fuck… how do you know?”

“I saw you. In the kitchen,” Louis stated, rubbing at Harry’s lower back, aware he was still aching. “We’re happy for you, though. Shoulda told us, but yeah, we’re happy if you are.”

“I really am,” Zayn said softly, his eyes flitting over to where Niall and Liam were stood chatting, a bottle of beer in their hands. “He’s a good guy. You don’t mind, do you, Harry?”

“Why would I? He’s my manager, not my boyfriend,” Harry quipped, making Louis glower at him for a moment. “Just treat him nice, please? He’s got the best heart, and he gives it so easily. I just don’t want him hurt.”

“Neither do I,” Zayn confided, still staring at Liam across the room. “Right, that’s enough embarrassing Zayn 101 for today. Where’s the bloody cake? I need some sugar after that interrogation…”

*****

Harry winced as he tried to move around on the sofa to find a more comfortable position, but in that moment, he wasn’t sure such a thing existed. There was nothing on telly so Harry had the radio playing quietly in the background, but he wished Louis was there with him to help distract him from his aches and pains. He’d finally reached thirty eight weeks pregnant yesterday, and was more than ready to think about getting his body back. His ankles had swollen to pretty epic proportions, to the point where he’d spent a good thirty minutes sobbing over them after a bath the other day, panicking Louis when he’d come in from work, expecting something far worse to be wrong.

To his credit, Louis had hugged Harry until the tears had dried up and told Harry that he loved him regardless, and had then painted his toenails in a soft pink, making Harry smile for the first time in hours. It was one of the biggest reasons he was head over heels in love with Louis, and he couldn’t wait for the next few hours to pass so his boyfriend could come home.

He glanced over to the clock and groaned when he saw it was only half four in the morning. The baby was well and truly awake in his stomach, putting paid to any ideas of going back to sleep, so Harry reached for the iPad, pulling up his and Louis’ text thread. He sent off a text, hoping Louis was free to reply, and he was in luck.

Harry: You on break? I can’t sleep. Bump too big to get comfy :( xxxx

Louis: You need to sleep, love, it’s 4 in the morning! Try and get cosy for me. Xxx

Harry: On the sofa. Back is killing me. We miss you. Love you. Xxxx

Louis: Oh baby I wish I was there to help :( Shift finishes at 9 so I’ll come straight round after. Love you both so much xxx back to work xx

Harry smiled to himself, and rested the iPad back down now he knew Louis wouldn’t be replying anymore, and he stared up at the ceiling, the only light coming from a lamp in the corner that he left on in case he needed to get up for the toilet. He felt a kick against his stomach and he smiled to himself, stretching his hand down to press against where he felt his baby girl.

“Hello sweetheart, you’re awake too?”

There was a resounding kick against his palm and Harry chuckled to himself, loving these moments he got to share with his daughter. Part of him hoped it wouldn’t be too long until he met her because by now, he so badly wanted to know what she looked like, whether she’d be more like Louis or himself. Either way he knew he was going to be the happiest man in the world because… well, how couldn’t he be? He’d love his baby girl to look like him, but on the other hand, the thought of their daughter looking like Louis melted his heart too.

Harry’s eyes felt heavy, and he tugged the blanket down from the back of the sofa and over his legs, draping it over his bump too. He hated that Louis still had to work nights, but now that filming was over, he had a lot more time on his hands to spend with him when he was off shift. They’d been relentlessly house hunting since Harry had asked him to move in, and while the flat was good enough for now, Harry knew he wanted to raise their baby in a real home, one with a garden where he and Louis could build their daughter a swing set in the years to come, where they could maybe even raise more children if they were lucky enough to get pregnant again.

That was the final thought in Harry’s mind as he drifted back to sleep, knowing he’d regret falling asleep where he was when he woke up, but at that moment, he was too tired to even contemplate moving.

*****

“No worries at all. Enjoy the rest of your day!”

Louis smiled at the eleven year old boy as he walked off with his father, turning back to his notes. He rested his head on his desk, wishing he could head home and spend some time with Harry. It felt like it had been the longest shift in the history of night shifts, and he’d had enough. He added to the notes as much as he could before he drifted out of the room, his attention caught by his phone vibrating in his pocket. He’d set it to vibrate in case Harry went into early labour, and hurriedly pulled it from his pocket, squinting at the bright screen.

Liam: Louis, you need to call me. Now. This shit better not be true.

“What shit?” Louis mumbled to himself as he tapped on Liam’s name, bringing up his contact. Judging by the tone of Liam’s message, he felt calling would be better, and walked into the staffroom as it started ringing, grateful it appeared to be empty.

“Liam, it’s Lou. Everything alright with H?”

“You tell me,” came Liam’s snarky reply, and Louis frowned. Liam had been nothing but kind ever since Louis had come into Harry’s life, and they’d begun texting each other a little bit as well, especially since Liam and Zayn had become a couple. Louis was always up for making new friends, and liked Liam, so he was pleased their little friendship group was expanding by one. “What have you done, Louis?”

“Liam, mate, I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking about,” Louis insisted, getting more and more annoyed by the minute. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m fucking knackered and I’m still on shift, so if you could get to the point-”

“There’s an article out about you today in The Mirror. It’s in today’s print run, and it’s just gone live online.”

“An article? About me and Haz?”

“Not exactly,” Liam replied, his voice softening as he could hear Louis clearly didn't have a clue what he was talking about. “Louis, someone’s sold a story about you. It’s, um… it’s not nice. I’m sorry this has happened…”

“Shit. Harry warned me people would crawl out of the woodwork but I didn't think…” he paused, running his hand through his hair, wondering what he could have done in his youth that would be worth selling now, but he came up with nothing. “What is it, then?”

“This guy called Jeremy Stephens….”

“Oh. Yeah, I know the name,” Louis said, his heart plummeting. Jeremy was Louis’ ex from a few years back, and he’d been bad news. He hadn’t taken it well when Louis had broke it off after five or so months, telling the older man that he didn't see things working out in the long term, that the spark wasn’t there. In the end, Louis had ended up changing his number to be rid of him, and it hadn’t been a pleasant experience. “What’s he said, Liam?”

“I’m paraphrasing here, but the general gist is that you’ve been seeing him lately behind Harry’s back, that you’ve slept together, and you’ve told him that Harry was just a mistake that you can’t take back.”

Louis just stared at the wall, the array of leaflets almost swimming in front of his eyes now as he let the horrific truth of what Liam had said sink in. He felt sick, and he didn't know what to do.

“I, uh- Liam, you have to believe me. That isn’t true. Ask Niall and Zayn, they know that he was bad news. He was a shit when I broke it off, and this is obviously some sick kind of revenge. I haven’t seen him for… god, must be at least a year now. I love Harry and our baby girl, I would never- FUCK!”

Louis slammed his fist down hard against the table, making the few teaspoons laid out on the surface jump with the force. There was a throbbing in Louis’ hand and wrist but he didn't care. All he could feel was utter rage that this bastard was back to ruin his life, and he suddenly felt a dread deep inside that Harry was going to believe that actual bullshit.

“I need to go-”

“He’s not answering, Lou. He’s probably asleep-”

“I don’t care. I want to get to him before he reads all of this. Can I do some sort of statement about this?”

“Yes, definitely. We’ll sort that later, though. For now, keep quiet on your socials, and when you see Haz… just make sure he knows it’s crap, okay? He doesn’t need this right now, especially so far gone in the pregnancy.”

“You don’t need to remind me, Li. I’ve been doing every fucking thing I can to keep him calm and chilled out, even though he’s still stressing about finding us a home, but now this… it’s not fair, Liam, how can he do this to me?”

“Because this sensational shit pays, that’s why. Go home to Haz. Call me later, alright?”

“Yeah. And Li?”

“Yes, mate?”

“Thanks. For believing me.”

“I do. And Harry will when he sees you. I can see how much you love him, Louis. That much is clear. Zayn’s told me you’ve never been like this about anybody else, and that makes me happy. Trust me, if I didn't like you, you’d know about it.”

“I’m sure,” Louis agreed, finishing up the call and getting quickly to his locker, gathering his things. He shrugged on his jacket and lifted his bag over his head as another of the nurses came in, frowning at Louis getting ready to leave a few hours early. “It’s Haz, he’s not feeling well. I need to check on him,” Louis said, and the other nurse nodded, promising to tell everyone else as Louis dashed outside, shivering in the chill.

He didn't have the car so decided to walk home, sticking his earphones in his ears as an angry playlist blasted into his ears, making his journey seem quicker than it was. It was drizzling by the time he arrived home to his and Harry’s flat, and he walked upstairs, finding the right key as he hovered outside the door. He crept quietly, pleased to still see Harry sound asleep on the sofa and took off his bag, coat and shoes before he knelt next to the sofa, running his fingers through Harry’s hair until he started to stir, a small crossing his lips as Harry blinked himself back to reality.

“You’re home…” Harry murmured, his voice raspy and sleep-laden. “Lou, you okay?”

“Haz… can you sit up, baby?”

Harry nodded and let Louis help him up, propping him against the cushions before he knelt between his legs again, kissing his bump as he stared up at the man he knew he was head over heels in love with, and had a sudden fear of losing.

“Louis, you’re scaring me…”

“Sorry, I…” Louis let out a deep breath, his hands shaking as he rested them on Harry’s now curvy thighs, willing himself to keep himself steady. “Harry, someone’s sold a story about me to the papers. It’s complete bullshit, but Liam told me, and I wanted to tell you.”

Harry’s face stayed passive, and he didn't drop his gaze at all.

“What is it?”

“It’s an ex boyfriend. Jeremy. We were together about eighteen months ago for a few months. He was a bit intense, I left him and he was a shitbag about it… now he’s put out a load of lies.

“Show me.”

“I don’t want-”

“I don’t care, Louis. Show me, please.”

Louis sighed and reached behind him for the iPad, bringing up the article. He’d read it through several times on the way home, anger surging through his veins as he’d read each of the blatant lies. What angered him most though was the awful things Jeremy had made up that Louis had said about Harry and his pregnant body. He was grateful he’d got rid of Jeremy’s number, because he had a few choice for words for him if he hadn’t.

“Harry, just know I didn't see him or say any of this.”

Harry nodded and took the iPad from Louis, reading it slowly and carefully, as he did with everything. Louis sat back on his calves, biting nervously at a hangnail, dreading Harry’s reaction. He could almost tell when Harry got the made-up quotes about himself because Harry's eyes teared up, and he bit hard on his bottom lip, almost hard enough to draw blood.

All of a sudden, the iPad was thrown onto the sofa next to them, and Harry got up, making Louis fall backwards as he stalked off.

“Harry, please-”

The bathroom door slammed shut in the distance, and Louis clenched his hands into fists, breathing deeply as he tried to keep his temper. He knew it wasn’t Harry’s fault that he was so upset, that this was completely on Jeremy but he felt helpless. He scrambled to his feet and walked down the hall to their bedroom, seeing the closed bathroom door, and he walked over, pressing his palm against the wood, as if Harry would know he was there from that alone.

“Harry, my love-”

“Go away, Louis.”

Louis could tell Harry was crying from his voice, and he hated himself even more in that moment for bringing this into Harry’s life. He didn't need this stress at over thirty eight weeks pregnant, and Louis knew he had to calm him down. He turned and slid down the door until his bum hit the floor, drawing his knees up against his chest, his arms wrapped around his legs, trying to offer himself some comfort given he could draw none from his boyfriend.

“Harry, I’m not going anywhere. Just in case something happens, okay? I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to, I just want to be here.”

“You don’t,” Harry sniffed, his voice slightly echoey inside the tiled room. “Surely my fat disgusting pregnancy body makes you want to run for the hills, right-”

“I didn't say that! You must know I fucking love your body, especially at the moment. God, I can’t keep my hands off you, Haz. You’ve felt how hard you make me…”

“I’m just a pity fuck, aren’t I? You feel guilty for knocking me up…”

“No! Never. I wouldn’t do that. Fucking hell, Haz, I know we started as friends with benefits, but you must have seen how much I wanted us to be more than that? I wanted every single bit of you to be mine, and I still do-”

“I’m just fat and unattractive-”

“Listen to me, Harry Styles. You’re fucking gorgeous, especially pregnant with my baby. You have any idea how much that turns me on? Knowing I got you pregnant, and the world knows it? Everyone knows I’m the one who gets to be with you, gets to take you to bed, take care of you… to love you. Shit, Harry, I love you so much. I thought I was in love before when I was younger, but god, this is so much more than that. I’m so fucking gone for you, Harry. I’m bloody in love with you, so much it’s a bit overwhelming if I’m honest.”

There was silence, so Louis ploughed on, hopeful Harry was still listening to him.

“You’re growing our baby girl, my darling. Why would I think you’re anything but amazing? We’re going to be a family… it’s everything I wanted, do you know that? My own family… a man I love and that loves me, a baby with him. I wouldn’t throw that away over someone who never meant anything to me in the first place, and I would never, ever speak badly of you. I love you, Harry. Please, please just believe me.”

Louis wiped at his eyes with the heels of his hands, resting his hand back against the door when there was no reply. He looked around the bedroom, at the mussed up sheets from where Harry had clearly struggled to get to sleep, at the clothes thrown off and on the floor where he’d quickly got changed for work the previous evening. There were photos on the bedside tables of the two of them, of their baby girl in Harry’s womb, as well as Harry’s jewellery, Louis’ reading glasses, a half-empty bottle of lube, and Harry’s latest novel of choice. It looked like the bedroom of a settled couple about to embark on the most exciting part of their lives, and Louis felt choked up, hoping it wasn’t all about to come crashing down.

He glanced down at his scrubs, playing with the hem of the top that had been pulled down today when he’d caught on the edge of a unit, pulling too hard at the stitches. He sat and pulled it a little harder until he could hear more stitches ripping apart, feeling much like he did inside. He didn't know what Harry was doing behind the door, if he was crying, if he was in pain, if he needed him. Louis’ body ached, he was tired deep in his bones, but he knew he wouldn’t be moving until Harry came out. If he had to sit here all day, that’s what he would do. He had to make this right, no matter what.

*****

Harry splashed some cold water on his face, wondering how long he’d actually been locked in the bathroom. His back ached from sitting on the floor, but that pain felt more tolerable than the one in his heart as he’d read the hideous article. The stupid thing was that he didn't believe it, not really. He knew Louis had only been with him since he’d gotten pregnant, and Louis had seemed so upset about the article. But still, Harry had hated reading the things about him that Louis had supposedly said, picking on each of his own personal fears and hates about his pregnant body.

He blinked at his reflection in the mirror, wondering how long after their baby was born that his face would stop being so puffy, and he shot a hand down as the baby kicked again, reminding him of her presence. He dried his face on the fluffy hand towel he’d spent a fortune on, one thing he treated himself to as a luxury, and he unlocked the door, taking a breath before he gently pulled it open-

“Shit, I’m so sorry, Lou,” Harry gabbled as Louis collapsed backwards in a start, clearly having been asleep where he was slumped against the door. He could only watch as Louis scrambled into a standing position, blinking up at Harry, trying desperately to wake himself up. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, just… I’m fine. Harry, I-”

“No. I believe you. I don’t think you’d cheat on me, and I definitely don’t believe you’d say those things about me. I know you love me, Lou.”

“Oh thank fuck-”

Louis crashed against Harry’s body as best he could with the bump between him, and he grabbed Harry’s cheeks, kissing him hard for a moment. Harry let it happen, pleased to have Louis back in his arms. Louis kissed him slower again for a moment before he broke away, pressing a few quick pecks to Harry’s lips before he led him over to the bed, letting him sit down for a moment.

“Baby… I’m so sorry. I can’t believe he’d ever- no, that’s a lie. I can believe it, actually. He was a shit boyfriend, and he hated that I left him. It doesn’t surprise me he’d cash in on us and try to stir up some shit. Liam said he’d sort out me putting out a statement.”

“No. Us. I want us to put a statement out together, show the world we’re united, we’re in love and we’re together. He needs to know that he can’t break us, Lou. I can’t lose you. Not now. I love you so much, and I’m sorry for believing that shit, even for a second. My hormones are making me an irrational mess, and I just… I’m so sorry.”

Louis just chuckled, shaking his head for a moment, much to Harry’s confusion.

“I love that we’re both apologising here even though we’ve done nothing wrong. It’s him, this is all on him. But I promise, I’d never cheat on you. Never. I’ve seen how that destroys people, love, and I wouldn’t do that to you. You mean everything to me, you and our little girl.”

“Can we go to bed?” Harry asked, suddenly needing to be close with Louis. “I didn't sleep well without you, and you look tired. I don’t want to keep talking about it because this is what he wants, to make something out of nothing. If we don’t pay it any attention, he can’t win.”

“He’d never win anyway, Haz. You’re mine, and it’s staying that way.”

They kissed softly again for a moment until they both stood up, shedding all their clothes bar their boxers, and they slipped into bed together. Louis quickly got up to draw the curtains again but then curled around Harry’s body, a hand resting on his still squirmy bump.

“She’s active today, isn’t she?”

“Mm hmm,” Harry agreed, nodding sleepily, feeling at home now Louis was back where he belonged, by his side. “Running out of room, I reckon. Love you, Lou.”

“Love you too, sweetheart. Get some sleep, okay?  I’m not on tomorrow so we can finish narrowing down those houses?”

“Perfect,” Harry muttered, almost asleep by now. He reached out and laced his fingers through Louis’ against his bump, letting himself fall back into sleep, his mind finally calm, pushing away every negative thought, basking in Louis’ love.

*****

Statement from Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson

Mr Styles and Mr Tomlinson wish to make it known that the article printed in The Mirror yesterday is entirely unfounded, and completely fabricated. Jeremy was an ex-boyfriend of Mr Tomlinson’s who has chosen to sell an untrue story, of which Louis and Harry heavily deny. Mr Tomlinson has been completely faithful to Mr Styles during their relationship, and stringently denies these accusations.

The couple are very much together and in love, and will not be commenting any further on what they believe is a nonsense article. Mr Styles is imminently due with the couple’s first child, and they are very much focused on their family. They ask that you please respect their privacy at this exciting time, and will share further news with you in due course.

Thank you.

Chapter Text

“Please, Louis. You won’t hurt me, or the baby. I just need to get this baby out of me, and I read online that sex is a really good way to get labour going. Something to do with your magic sperm…”

Louis scoffed, shaking his head. 

“No, I’m not shagging you, Haz. You’re forty one weeks pregnant, and you can hardly move. I’m not even sure if we could do it even if I wanted to…”

“Oh right. Who’d want to fuck the whale, right?” Harry retorted, and Louis just rolled his eyes, turning back to the sandwich he was making his grumpy and extremely fed up boyfriend. The forty week mark had been and gone a week ago, and the excitement had most definitely waned along with it. Harry woke up each day proclaiming that he could feel it was going to happen today to no avail, and Louis was beginning to wonder if he’d end up being taken into hospital and induced if things didn't start moving naturally within the next few days.

“You’re not a whale, stop it. She’ll come when she’s good and ready,” Louis said, setting down Harry’s sandwich in front of him. “What do you want to drink, love?”

“Smoothie, please,” Harry asked, polite as ever, his previous pouting of just a few moments ago already forgotten. His emotions were all over the place at the moment, and Louis felt like he was treading on eggshells, not knowing which Harry he’d be dealing with from minute to minute. Louis nodded and bent down, brushing his lips against Harry’s for a moment before he walked through to the kitchen, grabbing the jug of smoothie Harry had made the other day, pouring a glass full and popping a pink stripy straw inside it.

“Here you go, love,” he said, and Harry grinned before he took the straw between his lips, sucking as he peered up at Louis, a slight smirk evident on his face. “Enough, Haz. I’m not fucking you today, so you can flirt all you want… it’s not happening.”

“Fine.”  

Harry huffed and folded his arms across his chest, almost resting on the swell of his baby bump, which seemed bigger than ever. Louis knew he was uncomfortable and wished there was something he could do to help, but right now, it was a case of waiting and hoping labour would start before any kind of intervention was needed.

“So no twinges or anything?”

“A few,” Harry shrugged, still sipping daintily on his smoothie. “Nothing that feels remotely like a contraction though. Why is this taking so long, Lou?”

“Well, you made such a good home for her in there, darling, she’s quite happy staying put. Remember, Holly at the hospital said you have another two days or so before they want to see you, so there’s still time for things to get moving on their own.”

“I’m really not that lucky,” Harry whined, and Louis just smiled at him, trying not to react. He knew buying into Harry's whinging would only make him do it more, and it really wasn’t helping anyone. Louis was still working as much as he could, making sure someone was staying with Harry whenever he wasn’t home. He’d tried to take time off but Harry had asked him to save it for when the baby was born, telling Louis he had no idea what to do with a newborn and that he’d probably hold her upside down or drop her on her head if Louis wasn’t around. Louis had laughed too hard at that until Harry had got upset, thinking Louis was mocking his incompetence, and it had ended in yet more tears from Harry until Louis had calmed him down. The flat was a hot bed of emotion, and Louis felt guilty that sometimes, he enjoyed the escape that work gave him for those few hours, passing Harry over to his Mum, his sister or Liam.

“Oh, Kelly called. They switched my day shift tomorrow to a night, so I’ll be at home longer. I’ve already let Li know, so it’s just us two. We could maybe pop round and see the house?”

Harry’s face lit up at that, and he nodded, reaching out to drag Louis down onto the sofa next to him. Louis held out his arm and let Harry curl his body up against him, loving how affectionate he still was. Louis had offered to sleep out on the sofa the other night because Harry couldn’t get comfy but the idea had left Harry in tears, begging Louis not leave him, apologising for being so big and generally an emotional wreck. Needless to say, neither of them got much sleep that night. Louis had slept easier since they’d found their dream home, though, and although moving day was a few months off yet, he was already too excited to get in there and make it their own.

It wasn’t a huge home compared to some of Harry’s co-stars, but it was big enough for them and their expanding family. It was a detached four bedroom house with a gorgeous well-kept garden, a kitchen that Harry proclaimed was “to die for”, and plenty of space for their daughter to run around. One of the bedrooms was already painted in a soft pink, so they’d earmarked that as the baby’s room for now, determined to put their own spin on it when things at home had calmed down.

“You really like the house, Lou?”

“I do,” Louis nodded, playing with a ring on Harry’s finger he could no longer get off because his fingers had started to retain water as well, much to Harry’s dismay. “I think it’s perfect, you know that. I just wish you’d let me pay something towards it.”

“I want us to feel secure, Lou. if that means paying for the house outright so no one can ever take it away from us, that’s what I’ll do. You know I said I’m happy for you to contribute to the bills or whatever, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. It’s our home, yeah?”

Louis smiled and nodded. Being a kept man was a strange feeling, but he knew Harry’s heart was in the right place, and that he was doing it for the right reasons. Louis had made up for it by buying their daughter as many things as he could, especially now he had extra money as he wasn’t paying rent anymore. Zayn had moved into his old room officially now, but Louis was already wondering how long it would until Niall had to start looking for a new flatmate if Liam and Zayn decided they wanted to move in together. 

“I know, love. You look tired. Do you want a nap?”

Harry nodded, and Louis helped him up off the sofa, hating how Harry winced with every step, his hips now suffering due to the excess weight he was carrying, and the fact his bump had most definitely dropped. Louis hadn’t commented on that too much to Harry, because it might make him too excited that something was going to happen soon, and Louis didn't want to get his hopes up.

“In you get, gorgeous,” Louis said, helping Harry lay down, quickly positioning his pregnancy pillow under his bump. It was a worthwhile purchase that Louis had nicknamed ‘The Godsend’ as it allowed Harry to at least sleep for a few hours at a time in comfort, his bump nicely supported. “Rest, alright? I’m going to catch up with some paperwork in the living room, but give me a shout if you need me.”

Harry nodded, bringing the duvet up and under his chin, smiling softly at Louis. 

“Alright, I will. Thank you for being so amazing.”

“Hey, you’re the one doing all the hard work, growing our little girl. I should be the one thanking you. Now, give us a kiss.”

Louis puckered his lips and leaned down, pressing his lips to Harry’s for a moment, before he also kissed his nose and his forehead, making the pregnant man giggle beautifully.

“I love you, Lou.”

“Not as much as I love you two,” he said, blowing Harry a kiss as he stood in the doorway. “Sleep. Shout when you wake up, and I’ll help you up.”

“You make me sound like a decrepid old person,” Harry laughed, pulling Louis’ pillow under his head. “Don’t be lonely without me.”

“I’ll try,” Louis grinned, and left the room, closing the door behind him. The rest of the flat was peaceful, and Louis picked up his bag, taking it over to the sofa. As much as he hated doing work at home, he preferred it to doing overtime at work, hours that could be spent with Harry, making sure he had everything he needed. He worked hard on the rostas, making sure they were fair until he was happy, and moved onto the next stack of reports. As much as he loved getting the promotion to Charge Nurse, it also meant more work for him which took out of time he spent with his little patients, much to his annoyance. It seemed paperwork was the way of the world now, and Louis sighed, picking up a pen and starting to work on his ever-increasing stack.

It was a few hours later that Louis was startled out of his trance, the letters on the page now swimming around in front of his bleary eyes, and he blinked, stilling to make sure he hadn’t imagined it, but he definitely hadn’t.

“Lou! LOUIS! COME QUICK!”

Louis stood up, and in his haste to rush out of the room, bashed his toe on the coffee table. He cursed loudly, hopping for a second as the painful throb in his toes abated. He could hear Harry moving about in the bedroom so quickly walked towards it, walking on the edge of his foot and ignoring the pain, his concern for Harry paramount. He quickly flung the door open to see Harry knelt in the middle of the bed, looking shocked, a puddle of damp underneath him on the sheet.

“Fuck, is that-”

“Louis, my water broke! I woke up and it was like I’d weed myself, but I didn't, it’s my water! Oh my god, the baby is coming, we need to get to hospital, I need the bag-”

“Right, calm down. Let’s get you up and changed, and I’ll change the sheets. And I thought we decided on a home birth so why are you rabbiting about getting to hospital?”

Harry just laughed as Louis helped him stand up on the floor, staying still as Louis peeled down his now sodden leggings and boxers, standing half naked in the middle of the room but entirely unashamed of it as he cupped his now very low belly. Louis walked to the chest of drawers and pulled out a pair of baggy shorts, not bothering with underwear as he helped Harry into them before guiding him over to the armchair in the corner of the room.

“Sit there, let me change the bed.”

“How stupid am I, Lou? I just suddenly started thinking about getting to the hospital, I totally forgot about the home birth. Baby brain, huh?”

Louis nodded as he balled up the wet sheets, applying a waterproof sheet he’d bought last week before he fitted a new one, chucking the duvet to the floor. 

“You want to lay down or get moving for a bit? I’ll go and call Holly, let her know your water’s have gone. Had any contractions yet?”

Harry shook his head as Louis helped him up, the pair shuffling slowly but surely into the sitting room. There was a birthing ball sat in the corner of the room that Louis had borrowed from work for Harry’s labour, and he rolled it out, lowering Harry onto it next to the sofa, watching him fondly as he rolled his hips a little. He called the midwife, who asked him to time the contractions, and to get back to her when things were progressing, and Louis hung up, feeling confident that for now, he could take care of his labouring boyfriend.

“Lou, will you call my Mum? She knows I don’t want her here for it, but I want her to know things are starting. Are you going to let yours know as well?”

“Might as well,” Louis agreed, texting both of their parents, wanting them to feel part of it as much as they could. “So, Holly knows, and she said I need to call her when the contractions are a good eight or nine minutes apart. We just have to wait until they start up, which shouldn’t be too long hopefully. How are you feeling?”

“Nervous. Excited. I just want to see her now, Lou. We can do this, yeah?”

“We can, baby, I promise. I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere.”

*****

Three hours later

Louis hung up the phone call and sighed, raking his hand through his slightly sweaty hair. Things were progressing with Harry’s labour faster than either of them had imagined, and they were still alone.

“Shit, another one- Louis!”

“Coming,” Louis called, hurrying back to the bedroom to find Harry bent over the bed, rocking his hips from side to side. He was now topless, his body sweating as yet another contraction wracked his body. Louis glanced down to his watch where he’d been timing it, and was somehow unsurprised to see it had only been just under five minutes since the last one. “Wow, Haz, they’re getting closer-”

“Yes, I’m the one fucking having them Louis, I know! Shit, this hurts!”

“I know, baby,” Louis soothed, stepping over to rub Harry’s lower pain. “Do you want me to get the gas and air? Holly let me bring some home just in case the other day, if you want to try?”

“No, don’t want pain relief,” Harry said through gritted teeth, a bead of sweat rolling down his spine. “Where’s Holly?”

“She said there’s been an emergency come in, everyone is tied up with it. So you’re stuck with me for now. I’m sure she’ll be here as soon as she can.“

Harry just nodded, and Louis paused, knowing he had to ask Harry something that was going to make him a bit uncomfortable.

“Haz… I need to see how dilated you are, sweetheart. I know you wanted Holly to do this bit, but she’s not here, and she advised me to check-”

“Louis, I don’t care right now, just do it. Not like you’ve not fingered me before, is it?”

Louis blushed but just walked over to the side of the room where he’d put his hospital bag earlier, grabbing a pair of gloves and pulling them on. He’d done this many times before on his rotations in the Maternity and Paternity departments when he was training, and was hopeful he could make it as painless for his boyfriend as he could.

“Okay, darling. Do you want to lay on the bed, or stay there?”

“Stay here, hurts less,” Harry mumbled.

“I need to take your shorts off, is that okay?”

Harry just nodded again and Louis slid them down, leaving the pregnant man naked now.

“Feel better like this, more free,” Harry muttered, and Louis understood, having watching several men and women prefer to labour naked during his time on the wards. “What do you need me to do?”

“Just… spread your legs a bit… that’s it, that’s fine, Haz. When I put my finger there, take a deep breath in, and exhale slowly, okay? I’ve got lube, so I’ll try not to hurt you. Okay, ready?”

Harry hummed in agreement and did as Louis asked, and as he exhaled, Louis pushed inside with two fingers, hearing Harry hiss in pain. Louis did what he needed to do, then slowly extracted his fingers, pulling off the glove as he did so. He was a bit startled by what he’d felt, and decided he needed to text Holly, try and get her here sooner rather than later. In his medical opinion, this baby was coming soon, within a few hours at the most.

“Well, that wasn’t pleasant,” Harry said, turning around and sitting his bare bum on the edge of the bed, his belly hard as another contraction started. “Shit, Louis-”

Louis grabbed his hands, and helped Harry breathe his way through the pain, Harry desperately trying to copy what his boyfriend was doing. Louis shivered at the amount of trust and love he felt radiating from Harry as they did this, watching Harry’s face scrunch up in pain as the contraction took hold, his body inching ever closer to the birthing their baby.

“Where is she?” Harry rasped out as the contraction began to ease off. Louis reached for the damp flannel on the bedside table and patted it across Harry’s brow, trying to cool him down. “Louis, she needs to be here-”

“I know, love. I’ve text her, I’m waiting to hear back. She wouldn’t tell me there was an emergency if there wasn’t, we just have to wait it out. You’re about seven centimtres at the moment-”

“Shit, already?”

“Yeah, you’re doing so well, love. It’s not easy watching you hurting like this, but I’m so fucking proud of you, you know? You’re so strong, and beautiful… I’m going to miss this bump so much.”

“I’m not,” Harry laughed, relaxing back against the mattress for a bit of respite, Louis watching him in awe. He looked beautiful like this, his body on display, his rounded belly housing Louis’ daughter, his cheeks stained red from the exertion of his contractions. “You never know, you might end up delivering her, babe.”

“Don’t even joke, Haz, Holly will be here, it’ll be okay,” Louis said, sitting down next to Harry, rubbing his belly. “You doing alright, though?”

“Yeah. I knew this would be hard, I did. You being here makes me strong, though. I love you, I love you for being here for me.”

“Well, this whole baby thing is kinda my fault too, right?” he joked, making Harry laugh, nodding along. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, though. I want to help you through this as much as I can. Do you want some water?”

“Please,” Harry asked, flopping down on the pillow, his legs splayed, trying to make room for his belly. “God, I must look a right sight.”

“You look stunning. Seriously, you’re gorgeous. Can I…”

Louis pulled his phone out of his pocket, and was surprised when Harry just shrugged, giving him a shy smile as Louis captured the image for his eyes only before he stepped a bit closer, capturing Harry’s beautiful face, the way his eyes shone, his dimple just peeking out of his cheek.

“I don’t want to see.” Harry waved the phone away as Louis went to show him, but he nodded, locking it and putting it back in his pocket. He knew they were images he would treasure forever, his wonderful man just a short while before two became three, about to give him the greatest gift in the world, his daughter. “Water please, babe?”

“Sorry, you distracted me,” Louis laughed, finally leaving the room to fetch Harry his drink. Alone in the kitchen, he rested his head on his arms on the worktop, everything suddenly feeling a bit much. He could feel the pressure of being alone with Harry and took his phone out again, sighing when he saw Holly still hadn’t replied to him. He felt nervous, butterflies whirling around nervously in his tummy as he glanced at the clock, seeing it was already two in the afternoon. Harry had only been labouring for about three hours now, and Louis was convinced they wouldn’t make it another three until something more happened. He pulled up the contact on his phone and dialled, running the cold tap for a minute as he reached for a glass.

“Mum? No, he’s fine… it’s just… shit, this is really happening, isn’t it? I’m about to be a dad…”

*****

Louis winced as a piercing scream rang out through the flat, Harry now on his hands and knees on the bed as the latest contraction took hold.

“I’m here, Haz, I’m here,” Louis said, rubbing his back, wishing there was more he could do.

“I need to push-” Harry grunted out, his breaths coming in heavy pants, body pouring with sweat by now. “Louis, I can feel her, i need to push-”

“Shit, are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m fucking serious- OWWWWW!”

Harry cursed as the contraction deepened again, his hands clenched into fists on the mattress, back arched, bum in the air. There was still no sign of Holly the midwife, and Louis had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what he was going to have to do.

“Ring Holly, we need her-”

“Okay,” Louis mumbled, fumbling in his pocket for his phone as the contraction eased off. Harry stayed in the position he was in, breathing heavily as Louis dialled.

Louis? I’m so sorry, we’ve just come out of theatre with the emergency-”

Everything okay?” Louis asked, always concerned to hear of emergencies on the labour ward. They usually meant things were dire, and he waited to hear.

It is now. Twins with a placental abruption. We nearly lost Mum, but the surgeons were able to delivery the babies safely…”

She trailed off, and Louis knew exactly what that meant by her tone.

“Shit, they had to do a hysterectomy?”

It was that or lose Mum. Anyway, I need to get in some clean scrubs, do my notes then I’ll be with- oh god, is that Harry?”

"Yeah. He’s, um, he needs to push? Like, now?”

Can you handle this if I don’t make it in time?”

Louis paused. Deep down he knew the answer, but the responsibility of what he’d have to do sat heavily on his shoulders.

“I think so. I’ve seen it, and I’ve assisted at quite a few. Just… being my boyfriend and my daughter makes it feel like a lot, you know?”

You can call for an ambulance if you think you need help, Louis. Don’t be afraid to do that. I’ll be there as soon as I can, alright?”

Louis quickly ended the call as he heard Harry yell for him as another contraction started, and he grabbed some gloves, tucking them into his pocket.

“I need to push. Right now- argh!”

Louis went to the end of the bed, and was shocked by what he saw. He could see the baby already descending down the birth canal, the top of her head already visible between Harry’s legs. He quickly grabbed the gloves and started to pull them on as Harry wailed, his body desperately needing to push the baby out now.

“Harry, she’s crowning. You need to listen to me, okay? Our girl is coming, so I need to deliver her. Are you okay with this?”

Harry just nodded, rocking his body again, trying to find some relief.

“Okay, what I need you to do is get comfortable for me. Is this how you want to deliver, on your hands and knees?”

“I’m comfy,” was all Harry managed to get out, and Louis nodded, happy to work with that.

“That’s fine, baby. Can you just shuffle down the bed a bit for me, so I can get between your legs? That’s it, well done. Okay, when the next contraction comes, I want you to push for me as hard as you can, and as long as you can. And try not to scream. Put all that energy into your pushing, so we can get her out safely.”

Harry relaxed as the contraction relinquished its hold for a moment, looking back tearfully at Louis, who was by now laying things down next to Harry that he’d need for after the birth, mentally running through everything he was going to have to do.

“Lou…”

“Hey, it’s alright, sweetheart. I’ve done this before, you’ll be fine and so will our little girl. You trust me?”

“I do. I just.. I’m scared.”

“I know. Me too. But soon, we’re going to have our little baby, alright?”

Harry nodded before he grimaced again, and Louis slipped back into professional mode, focusing only on the medical part of what was happening, trying to block out the fact it was his boyfriend birthing his daughter in front of his eyes.

“Okay, good, and a big push for me, Harry. Good, keep pushing, hold it as long as you… no, don’t stop, she’s going back up, you need to push hard-”

“I can’t!”  Harry cried, his arms straining by now as he tried to hold himself upright, the contraction sends shockwaves of pain through his whole body. “Louis, help me-”

“You have to do this,” Louis instructed, taking a firmer tone with his voice, knowing softness and sentimentality would do nothing to help Harry at this time. “When the contraction starts again, push hard.”

“Oh god, here it comes-”

“Push, Harry. I can see her, you’re doing so well, keep pushing.”

Louis focused intently on watching the baby slowly emerge from Harry’s body, the dark hair at the top of her head visible now, and Louis couldn’t stop himself from smiling.

“Oh Haz, she’s got your dark hair… keep going. Push for me, well done, keep going-”

“Shit, I-”

“Short, sharp breaths. Pant, Haz, that’s it…”

Louis encouraged Harry to keep going through the next three contractions, and by the time the fourth had arrived, he knew this was going to be the last one.

“Her head’s almost out, push Harry-”

His fingers helped ease Harry’s body around her head, watching as he stretched painfully as her head pushed further down. Harry screamed loudly as her head finally popped free but Louis stayed focused, muttering words of encouragement. Louis’ hands slipped forward to support her neck, and tried not to cry as he looked down at the head of his baby daughter.

“Okay, next one and she’ll be born, my love. You are so amazing, you’re doing so well.”

“Is she alright?” Harry asked, his voice raspy from his tears and screaming, clearly utterly exhausted. “Oh god-”

“Push Harry, but slowly. That’s it, bit more… okay- and she’s out! Harry, she’s out!”

Despite Louis’ initial joy as his baby girl slipped from Harry’ body and into his waiting hands, he soon realised something wasn’t right. Instead of the usual cry a baby made upon entering the world, the baby was silent. Louis swallowed and immediately laid her out on the bed next to Harry’s feet on top of a waiting towel, starting to rub at her gently at first, trying to coax a cry out of her.

“Louis, why is she so quiet? Louis-”

“Harry, just let me work…”  he muttered, trying not to panic. He glanced over to Harry, relieved to see there was no obvious post-partum bleeding or anything that would cause him to split his focus. “Come on, baby girl, need to hear your voice…”

He kept rubbing at her skin, noting that her chest was rising and falling so she was breathing, but it was imperative he got the first cry out of her to clear her lungs.

“Please, sweetheart…”

“Louis, oh my god-”

He could sense Harry was panicking now, and picked her up in his hands, being a little more rough with his movements as he rubbed over her again, trying to stimulate a cry. He knew there was no imminent danger since she was breathing, but the sooner she cried, the better. His heart was racing as he glanced at the clock on the bedside table, seeing it had been four minutes now since she'd been born, and she still hadn’t cried.

“Harry, I need you to reach for my phone and call Holly now-”

Harry must have sensed the urgency in his tone because he did so, his hands shaking as he watched Louis with their daughter, desperately trying to get her to cry. He was almost about to begin the call then there was a loud wail, making Harry burst into sobs, covering his face with his hands. Louis felt a surge of relief as her shrill cry completely filled the room, and he felt overcome with love as he held her close, silently thanking anyone and everyone that she was okay. Louis cradled his now crying daughter’s body in his hands, marvelling as he gently turned her over, looking down at her beautiful face. Her body was covered in vernix, the coating on their skin made to protect them in the womb, but she was utterly beautiful. 

“Harry, can you turn over, darling?”

Harry wiped his eyes and did so gingerly, being careful of the cord that still connected him to his daughter, but he flopped onto his back, eyes raking around for his baby, stilling when he saw Louis holding her in his hands, looking down at her with a look of complete wonder.

“Oh god, she’s okay…”

“She is, Haz. Meet your baby girl, my love,” Louis said as he passed their newborn daughter over to Harry, nestling her against his chest for the precious skin to skin contact. Harry was already crying as his big hand came up to cup her back, holding her against him, and Louis couldn’t stop himself leaning in, kissing his boyfriend. “She’s so beautiful, Harry, you did amazingly…”

“We’ve got a baby girl, Louis… I did it, she’s here and she’s okay…”

“You did. God, she’s stunning…”

Louis brought himself back to reality for a moment, knowing there was more he had to do. He fitted two plastic clamps onto her cord, and grabbed the scissors, pausing before he made the cut.

“Do you mind if I-”

“Not at all. That’s the daddy’s job, isn’t it?” Harry said, smiling as he watched Louis make a cut between the clamps, finally disconnecting the baby from Harry’s body. His eyes were still red from his tears, but now Louis was sure they were happy tears rather than the previous ones of panic and fear. “She’s so tiny, Lou…”

“They’ll weigh her when Holly gets here. Let me take her, wrap her up for a sec…”

Harry nodded and let Louis take their daughter. He mumbled words of love to the tiny baby as he pulled out a pink blanket from the pile by the bed, laying it down and experly wrapping her up, touching every little finger and toe as he did so, unable to believe he and Harry had created something so perfect. When she was all covered up and warm, he passed her back to Harry, kneeling between Harry’s legs again. Just as he prepared himself to begin to deliver the afterbirth, there was a bang at the door, making them both jump.

“That’ll be Holly,” Louis murmured, getting to his knees, looking at Harry who wasn’t paying him any attention. He was staring down at his baby girl, running his finger over her cheek, watching her suckle against him. “I’ll be back.”

He hurried down the hall to the door, throwing it open, relieved to see the woman on the other side, sweaty and harrassed, much like himself.

“She’s here,” Louis blurted out, biting back the tears as he finally said the words. “My daughter’s here, Hol.”

“Congratulations, Louis!” Holly said, pulling him into a quick hug. “Did everything go okay?”

She let Louis lead the way down the corridor, filling her in on the birth, how things had been a bit tense until she’d made her first cry. Holly didn't seem too worried given Louis knew she was breathing the entire time, but promised to check her over fully. They both stopped when they walked into the bedroom, silence greeting them. Harry was on the bed, the baby girl nestled at his chest, feeding from him.

“It just felt right…” Harry murmured, his hands gently cradling the baby. “Is this okay?”

“Of course it is,” Louis said, walking over slowly, not wanting to startle the feeling baby. “You look so beautiful.”

He took a quick photo before he sat down, Harry red cheeked but utterly beautiful and he sat down next to his boyfriend, watching his daughter. Holly started to prepare Harry for the afterbirth, both of them ignoring whatever was going on down there, their daughter far more captivating.

After a while, when the placenta had been delivered and the baby had fallen asleep eating, Holly approached tentatively.

“Can I steal her for a moment? I want to weigh her, do her Apgar…”

Harry nodded and handed over his baby, Louis watching on as Holly cradled her gently, taking her over to the scales and setting her down after removing her from the blanket. She whimpered as the cool air of the room hit her body, and Louis turned his attention to Harry for a moment, wanting to make sure his boyfriend was okay.

“Are you feeling okay?”

Harry smiled and rested his head against Louis’ shoulder, pulling the sheet up his lap a little. Now that everything was done, Holly had asked if he’d wanted to get dressed but Harry hadn’t wanted to, happy as he was, and she’d popped a sheet over him for modesty, although Louis knew Harry didn't give two stuffs about nudity, especially at the moment.

“Sore, like, really sore. But she’s so worth it, Louis. I can’t believe you brought her into the world, that we did that together…”

“I know. You were amazing, you know. Watching you do that, just… wow. I’m so fucking in love with you.”

Holly walked back over then, their baby now in a nappy and wrapped in a clean blanket.

“She weighs five pounds, eight ounces, her Apgar is perfect, and she’s forty-seven centimetres long. She’s tiny, but absolutely perfect. Congratulations, you two.”

She handed the wrapped up bundle back to Harry, smiling fondly at the happy couple as Louis reached over, touching the soft skin of her cheek.

“Does she have a name yet? It’s okay if not…”

Harry looked to Louis, and they both smiled, knowing the name they’d finally settled on a few days ago felt right now they’d seen their daughter for the first time. Louis decided to say something first, knowing they hadn’t brought up this particular topic, but he suddenly felt a need to, not wanting Harry to feel pressured at all.

“She can be Styles if you like, love. I’m okay with whatever you want.”

Harry reached out and took his hand, squeezing his fingers lightly as he looked deep into Louis’ eyes, the baby girl whimpering for a second as Harry changed her position, trying to get them both more comfortable.

“No, Lou. She’s your baby too, I want her to know her other Dad was here the whole time, that he wanted her as much as I did… that you’ll always be here for her. I want her to be a Tomlinson.”

“You’re sure? You don’t mind her having a different name?”

Harry smiled to himself for a moment before he spoke again, his voice quiet.

“Well, I’m sure we can arrange for mine to be changed too in the not too distant future, yeah?”

Louis didn't bother to hold back his big grin and nodded, quickly crashing their lips together as he realised what Harry meant. 

“Definitely. I want that more than anything.” He looked up at Holly, smiling as she looked between them. “Her name is Quinn. Quinn Joanne Tomlinson.”

“Oh, that’s beautiful. She looks like a Quinn. I’ll finish up my paperwork then leave you alone, I’ll go outside…”

“Let me help you,” Louis said, carrying out her bags, leaving them on the sofa. It was around twenty minutes later that he saw her out of the door, finally leaving the family of three alone. “Can I have a cuddle?”

Harry chuckled softly and passed the baby over to Louis, who held her like she was the most precious thing in the whole world. 

“She’s so, so tiny- what are you doing?”

“Just… don’t look at me, look at her again, like you were before.”

Louis did as he was asked, and after a few seconds made his way back over to the bed, sitting down on the free side. He still needed to change the sheets, but he wanted to make sure Harry and Quinn were resting before he did so.

“How’s this?”

Harry handed over his phone, and Louis gasped at the beautiful image Harry had captured. He’d filtered it to black and white which just added to it, but Louis could feel the emotion just from looking at it. He was gazing down at his baby girl, whose face was obscured, but you could see a tiny hand poking out of the blanket, as if she was reaching for her daddy. The caption read ... and baby girl makes three. Never been so happy in my whole life. Xx

“I love it,” Louis confessed, and watched as Harry posted it before he then sent it on a family message to everyone, telling them Quinn Tomlinson was here, safe and well, and that they could visit whenever they were ready. “I love her so much already, you know? I wish we could just stay here forever, just the three of us. I still can’t quite believe she’s here, really. We’re a family, Harry.”

“We are. This is everything I’ve ever wanted, you know,” Harry confessed, his voice sounding sleepy as he cuddled up to Louis’ side, resting a hand on Quinn’s blanket next to Louis’. “I always wanted my own family.”

“Well, you’ve got us for good,” Louis whispered, watching Quinn’s full lips wobble for a moment, hoping she wasn’t going to cry again. “We’re yours, Harry, I promise you that.”

He turned to look at Harry, and felt fond as he saw his boyfriend’s eyes were shut, exhausted from the experience of giving birth. Louis just sat there, content with his daughter in his arms, his boyfriend at his side. It might be everything Harry ever wanted, but it was everything Louis needed in his life. He wasn’t sure things could get any more perfect.

Chapter Text

“Yes you are… you’re Papa’s princess, aren’t you?” Harry mumbled down at his sleepy daughter, watching her suck sleepily from her bottle. Quinn had been in their lives for four weeks now, and it felt like they had a bit of routine down by now. When she was done, the bottle drained as always, Harry sat her up a little on his thigh, cupping her chin with his hand and began rubbing her back slowly, bringing up her wind. “Come on baba, do a big burp for Papa?”

He kept rubbing in small circles, patting gently in between until she let out a little burp, a dribble of milk trickling down her chin that Harry caught with the muslin cloth he was never without, lifting her gently and kissing her full lips. Anne had shown him photos of himself as a baby where his lips looked exactly the same, and Louis had loved it, proclaiming that as babies, they would have been so twins, so alike. Now she was winded, Harry laid down gently on the sofa, bringing his baby onto his chest as she wriggled a little, her head against the soft cotton of his t-shirt. The telly played quietly in the background but Harry was off in his own little world, staring down at the downy hair on top of his daughter’s head, stroking it gently, her smell surrounding him. She smelt of the baby fabric softener Louis had used when he washed her babygro’s last night, the milk she’d just drunk and the baby shampoo they used on her hair.

“You’re so perfect, you know that? I love being your papa,” he murmured as the door opened, and his boyfriend walked in, grinning when he saw Harry curled up on the sofa with their daughter on his chest. “And look who’s home! It’s Daddy! He’s back from work!”

Harry’s belly fluttered as Louis pulled his scrub top over his head, leaving him bare chested as he walked over to the pair of them, gently lifting Quinn up and into his arms, her tiny body cradled against his own. Harry felt so happy as Louis kissed the top of her head before he sat down next to Harry, smiling softly at him.

“You two had a good day?” he asked as Harry sat up, kissing Louis quickly. “Has my little angel been a good girl?”

“Of course she has, she’s my baby girl, aren’t you?” Harry asked, tickling her chin. “Nah, we’ve been good. She’s fed lots, pooped lots and slept lots.”

“Ah, sounds a lot like me on a day off,” Louis quipped, making Harry cackle, Quinn jumping at the loud burst of noise, whimpering. Harry reached forward to grab her dummy from the table, and rubbed it across her lips, the baby girl soon parting her lips and sucking eagerly, her eyes fluttering shut again. Her palm was pressed against Louis’ chest, over his 78 tattoo, and Harry grabbed his phone, snapping a quick picture before she could move. “How are you feeling?”

“Yeah, I’m alright. Managed to get a shower while she slept in her bouncy chair, so I felt a bit more human after that. Oh, and the doctors rang, I have to go for my six week check in two weeks time. Will you come with me?”

“Of course, you don’t even need to ask,” Louis said. Harry took Louis’ hand in his own, needing a point of contact with his boyfriend. Louis had gone back to work just two days ago, but Harry missed him terribly. He was coping with being home alone with their daughter just fine, but he missed adult company and conversation, given Quinn did nothing but cry at the moment. Harry already couldn’t wait for her to find her voice. “You take her, I’ll go and rustle up some dinner.”

“No, you’ve been at work-”

“And you’ve been with our baby girl. Let me look after you, Harold,” Louis said as he expertly transferred Quinn back to her papa, smiling at the two of them cosied up again. “We could have that casserole Mum brought round the other day? I could heat it up?”

“Sounds perfect,” Harry called as Louis went through to their bedroom, no doubt wanting to have a quick shower before he started dinner. Harry kept his daughter in his arms until he was sure she was asleep, then got up, laying her gently in the moses basket they kept in the living room, tucking her under the soft blanket Harry had made for Louis. Her dummy dropped from her mouth as she slept and Harry scooped it up, intending to put in the steriliser. He shivered, suddenly chilly and walked off to their bedroom to fetch a jumper, but was startled when he walked into their bedroom to see Louis stood there, naked as the day he was born.

“Uh-”

“My eyes are up here, Styles,” he teased, rubbing at his hair with the towel in one hand, the other hand on his hip. Harry swallowed and willed himself not to react too much to Louis’ proximity, but things soon went out of the window when Louis wandered over slowly towards Harry, his cock swaying with each step. “Alright, love?”

There weren’t many times in his life Harry could honestly say he was speechless, but this was one of them. Louis came to a stop just in front of him, and Harry could feel his breaths coming in shallow pants as Louis took his hand, bringing it up to his lips, kissing each fingertip in turn, eyes locked on Harry’s. They hadn’t really been intimate since Quinn had been born. Harry hadn’t felt up to having sex at all, and Louis had been wonderful about it, telling Harry he’d wait as long as it took. That wasn’t to say Harry hadn’t woken up with his usual morning wood of course, but they’d not really done much about it, both too tired to think about themselves.

“I miss touching you,” Louis murmured, licking his lips slowly, stepping closer to Harry, his erection bumping against Harry’s thigh, just under the hem of his shorts, teasing him. “Can I kiss you?”

Harry just nodded, and almost sighed happily as Louis pressed their lips together, a gentle hand coming up and cupping his cheeks. Harry hadn’t bothered shaving for a few days, and he felt Louis’ fingertips caress his stubbly cheek as their lips worked together, Harry parting his slightly to let Louis’ tongue dip inside, the pair teasing each other. Harry felt Louis’ hips begin to roll in small circles as their kiss deepened, Harry’s hands pressing into the curve of Louis’ waist, the pair fitting perfectly together as always.

“Touch me, Louis,” Harry begged, his body desperate for Louis’ hands to be on him now. The bedroom door was open so he knew he’d hear Quinn if she woke up, but right now, he had to think about himself and his boyfriend, about what they needed. “I want you to…”

Louis just nodded and kissed Harry again softly as he gently tugged Harry’s shorts down along with his underwear. Harry’s breath hitched as Louis wrapped his fingers around Harry’s shaft, moving it up and down with firm strokes, not too quickly that Harry felt close, but enough it felt so good. He moaned lowly as Louis brushed the pad of his thumb across the head, collecting the precome before he brought it up to his own lips, sucking it off quickly.

“What do you want, sweetheart?” Louis asked, clearly not wanting to push Harry further than he wanted to go. “Tell me…”

“Uh, want to… want your mouth? Please?”

Louis nodded and slowly sank to his knees, still entirely naked while Harry stood, watching as Louis wrapped his hand around him again, staring up at Harry as he stroked slowly, twisting his wrist as he reached the tip. Harry wished he had something to lean up against, but focused on staying upright as Louis parted his lips, resting Harry’s cock on his tongue for a moment before he closed his lips around it, sucking gently.

“Oh my god-” Harry murmured, his hands flying down to tangle in Louis’ hair, not pulling, just sitting there, feeling the bobs of Louis’ head as he moved up and down Harry’s length. It might have only been a month since Harry had had the pleasure of Louis’ mouth on him, but it felt like forever right at this moment. “Louis…”

Louis responded to Harry’s rasp of his name by sucking harder, his cheeks hollowing, making his cheekbones appear more prominent. Harry already felt too close as Louis’ hand worked over the base, the part he couldn’t fit into his mouth. It felt filthy, letting Louis suck him off like this in the middle of their bedroom in the early afternoon, Louis entirely naked while Harry’s baggy old t-shirt hung from him, probably covered in baby sick.

Louis’ hand came up and wrapped around Harry’s wrist, pressing his hand firmly against his head, making sure Harry understood he was to control what was going on. Harry swallowed as he wrapped his fingers a little tighter in Louis’ hair, dragging him back and forth a little, feeling hot all over, his toes curling into the carpet as Louis’ tongue swept over the head, teasing again.

“Shit, I’m close-” he murmured, and Louis just flicked his gaze back up to Harry, an obscene picture. It only took Louis a few more bobs of his head, and one final suck for Harry to come hard, biting down roughly on his bottom lip so he wouldn’t scream out Louis’ name as he wanted to. He watched as Louis swallowed frantically around him, Harry’s cock pulsing out streams of come into Louis’ waiting mouth. “Louis…”

Louis slid off Harry’s cock slowly, licking his lips as he got his feet, moving his jaw side to side for a moment before a smirk settled on his features. He didn't hesitate in pulling Harry into a kiss, Harry moaning as he tasted himself on Louis’ tongue. His hand snaked down, quickly fisting Louis’ cock hard and fast, determined to make him come. He swallowed down each of Louis’ moans as he tightened his grip, just how he knew Louis liked, and soon, Louis was coming over Harry, the pair kissing him through it until Louis whined, oversensitive.

Just as they finished, there was a feeble cry coming from the living room and Harry laughed, looking down at himself. He had Louis’ come all over his thighs, and his boyfriend wasn’t faring much better, his body sweaty again, his lips swollen and red.

“I’ll clean up quick and get her. You showering again?”

Harry turned to walk back to the bathroom but was stopped by Louis grabbing his wrist, making them look at each other. Harry smiled at the sight of Louis, so open and beautiful in front of him like this.

“I love you, Harry. I hope you don’t think I forced you into that…”

“Never. I wanted that, I promise. I, uh, I’ve been thinking about us having sex again. I want to, I’m just scared. Maybe we can build up to it?”

“Whatever you need. I just wanted you to know I love you. So much, actually.”

“I love you too-”

Quinn’s screams got a little louder now so they parted, Harry dashing into the bathroom to clean himself up as best he could with a flannel, changing into some clean shorts and a jumper before he hurried back out, stopping beside the moses basket.

“Oh no! What’s wrong, little love? Tell Papa all about it.” He lifted her up, cradling the back of her neck in his hand as he lifted her into the crook of his arm, the baby girl settling slightly with the presence of her papa around her. “You hungry again, hmm? Or you need a change?”

He patted her nappy clad bum, realising the nappy was quite full and he smiled down at her, wondering how long it would be until she returned it.

“Yep, new nappy it is. Let’s go, sweetheart.”

He held her close as he gathered the things he needed, kneeling on the floor with his supplies around him. He unpopped the babygro, exposing her lower half. Her little saggy knees were adorable, and Harry bent down, kissing each tiny toe then up to her knees as she wriggled around. 

“Sorry sweetie.”

He made quick work of removing the old wet nappy, cleaning her up with the packet of wipes, quickly wrapping her up in a clean one before she could wee all over him. It had happened to both himself and Louis, and it was an experience neither of them were keen to repeat. Harry kissed her bare tummy before he popped her vest back into place over the nappy, quickly followed by getting her wriggly legs into the babygro, making her warm and cosy again.

“Perfect!” Harry exclaimed as he lifted her up, nuzzling against her belly for a minute as Louis walked into the room, laughing at his boyfriend and daughter. “I bet you want cuddles with Daddy now, don’t you? I do, he gives the best cuddles you know.”

“Well, that’s good to know,” Louis smiled, reaching for his daughter and putting her into the crook of his arm. “Did Papa make your bum all clean, hmm? You smell all lovely, my little angel. Let’s go and see what I can cook Papa for dinner, yeah?”

Harry watched on fondly as Louis left the room, chatting away to his baby girl, and he looked around the living room, sighing at the mess. He began to pick up the array of baby toys scattered around, folding up some of the blankets that were strewn across the arms of the sofas, gathering a pile of dirty muslin cloths that needed a wash. It all felt very domestic, and Harry absolutely loved it.

“Love? Casserole’s going to be around half an hour, want anything until then? Drink? Snacks?”

Harry wandered through to the kitchen, smiling down at his daughter who was laid in her bouncy chair, looking sleepy again. He walked up to Louis, snaking his arms around his waist and leaning his chin on the top of Louis’ head after he gave it a small kiss.

“I’ll wait for dinner. Thank you for doing this for me, baby.”

“I told you I’d always look after you. I meant it. You and Quinn mean the world to me.”

Harry smiled as Louis turned in his arms, tilting his chin back for a kiss. 

“Good, because you’re our world too.”

*****

“Niall, support her head, for fudge sake!” Louis muttered, moving his best friends arm as he clumsily held his daughter, making it look much harder than it really was. “Look, let me-”

“Lou, he’s fine. Calm down, babe, okay? Come and help me with the drinks.”

Louis let Harry take his hand, dragging him into the kitchen and leaving the other three men alone with their daughter.

“Harry, what if-”

“Seriously? They’re fine. They love her, they’re not going to let any harm come to her, are they? I know they’re not as experienced as you are, but I was like them when she was born. You taught me, and now you can teach them. Give them a chance, okay?”

Louis sighed, collapsing into Harry’s arms as he nodded, knowing he was right. “I know. I’m just protective, I can’t help it. She’s my little girl, Haz.”

“I know she is. Are we going to ask them?”

Louis nodded, picking up the three mugs that Harry had made for their friends, the two of them sticking with glasses of water. He followed Harry back into the sitting room, smiling as Niall passed Zayn the baby girl, Quinn still snoozing as she was moved between the men.

“Is it time for a bottle, Haz?” Zayn asked, and Harry glanced as his phone screen, shaking his head.

“No, not yet. Don’t worry, you can feed her when she’s awake,” Harry chuckled, knowing how desperate Zayn was to feed her. He’d tried feeding her himself for a few days, but when he’d cried in frustration and pain, Louis had told him enough was enough. He’d tried to pump to no avail, and in the end, everyone was much happier and less stressed when they switched to bottle feeding. “Actually guys, while you’re all here…”

“Oh that sounds ominous,” Liam said, eyes flitting between Louis and Harry. “You’re not pregnant again, are you?”

Louis’ cheeks flushed as Harry blurted out a denial. They’d finally had sex for the first time since Quinn was born just two nights ago, and it had been perfect. Harry had been very apprehensive, begging Louis to take it slow and gentle, to the point where Louis had almost stopped, not wanting to pressure his boyfriend into something he wasn’t ready for. In the end, Harry had ridden Louis, taking control of the situation, and it had been a tender and loving moment neither of them would ever forget. It had also made the two of them feel intimately close again, and Louis was pleased to have that side of the relationship back.

“Christ, Quinn’s only five weeks old, lads, give us time!” Louis joked, rubbing Harry’s thigh, hoping he wasn’t feeling too awkward. “But anyway, we do have something important to ask all of you.”

“BAGSY GODFATHER!” Niall yelled, and Zayn just glared at him across the sofa, unable to strike out due to Quinn sleeping in his arms.

“Oh, piss off Niall, you can’t do that! Louis, tell him-”

Louis and Harry were laughing by now, somehow unsurprised by Niall’s action.

“Well, actually,” Harry began, holding Louis’ hand now. “We wanted to ask all of you to be Quinn’s godfathers. Gemma, Lottie and Fizzy are her godmothers, so we figured three godfathers to match?”

“Hell yeah, I wanna be her godfather!”

Louis and Harry were suddenly attacked with armfuls of Niall as he barrelled into them, forcing them both back against the sofa, arms flung around their necks.

“Shitting hell, get off me, you great oaf,” Louis said, his voice muffled against Niall’s neck. He sat up as Niall released him, but kept Harry pushed down, just patting his back. “Oi, get off my boyfriend!”

“Sorry, I’m just so happy! Zaynie, give me my goddaughter-”

They watched in amusement as Niall marched over, demanding the baby from Zayn, who it seemed wasn’t ready to give her up yet.

“Guys, this is a real honour, honestly. I’d really love to be Quinn’s godfather, and I promise you I’ll do a good job,” Liam said, shaking both of their hands, a watery smile on his face. “Seriously, this means so much to me.”

“No one I’d rather have, Li,” Louis heard Harry say as the two embraced. He looked over to see somehow Niall had won, Quinn now in his arms and awake as Niall jostled her carefully, muttering softly to her. Louis stayed where he was as Zayn got up, coming to sit next to him as Harry and Liam wandered off, probably to see the latest baby clothes Harry had splurged on.

“Lou…”

“Z…”

Zayn gave him a closed-mouth smile then, and Louis knew his friend was searching for the right words. Zayn was a quiet man, but Louis knew that when he spoke, his words were meaningful and from the heart.

“I’ll look after her, man. I love her like she’s my own already. You and Haz, you’re amazing parents, but I’ll be there for her. You don’t need to worry about that.”

“I know, Z,” Louis said softly, hugging his friend quickly. “I know if anything ever happened to me and Haz, she’s in good hands with you three, and her godmothers. She’ll never not know how it feels to be loved, that’s for sure.”

After the emotional part of the evening was out of the way, and Zayn had gotten to feed Quinn her bottle before Louis had gone to put her down for the night, the boys had sat chatting, working out how things were going to go when Harry and Louis moved into their new house the following month. Anne was going to stay at home with Quinn while Harry and Louis helped with the move, and everything was booked, from the moving van, to the carpet fitters, new sofa delivery and Zayn had already been commissioned to decorate Quinn’s room before they moved in.

It was almost midnight when they bade their best friends a goodnight and walked quietly to their bedroom, neither of them willing to disturb their sleeping daughter. She was still in her moses basket in their bedroom, Harry not willing to have her sleep in the spare room just yet, and Louis didn't mind. He’d woken up too many times to Harry with Quinn asleep on his bare chest, and it was probably the best sight in the entire world.

They changed quietly in the dark, Louis’ bedside lamp providing enough light they didn't stumble and hurt themselves, but not enough it would disturb their sleeping beauty. Louis hovered over her for a moment, just watching her sleep, admiring her beauty. She was a gorgeous baby, that much was already obvious to the pair of them. She had dark curls already, and Louis had a sneaking suspicion she’d end up with green eyes in a few months time as well. The thought made his heart want to sing with happiness.

“Cuddle?” Harry asked, breaking Louis from his trance as he stared at his sleeping daughter. He turned back to his boyfriend, nodding and smiling as he made his way back to the bed. He pulled off his shorts and slipped into bed in his boxers, curling up against Harry’s furnace-like body, warm whatever the weather. “That was a good night, huh?”

“It was,” Louis agreed, resting his head on Harry’s chest. “They’re good guys, aren’t they? I cannot believe Niall cried over being Quinn’s godfather, though. I’m not letting him live this one down too easily.”

“Meanie,” Harry teased, prodding Louis’ flat stomach with his finger. Louis traced his fingers across Harry’s belly too until Harry pushed his away, shrinking away from the touch. “Lou, don’t touch there…”

“Why?” Louis asked, puzzled. He’d always loved Harry’s body and had happily embraced every change it had gone through.

“It’s all squishy, not like yours. It’s not nice.”

“It’s perfect,” Louis said, feeling upset Harry felt that way about himself. “You grew our daughter in there, Haz. You were her home for nine months, and look how perfect she turned out. That’s because of you. And if you don’t think I don’t love and worship every single part of you, well… I’m going to have take more time showing you, aren’t I?”

“Louis…” 

Harry giggled as Louis tickled his fingers all across Harry's stomach and chest, pressing kissing against his biceps, shoulders and collarbones as he did so. He slowly trailed up to Harry’s mouth until their lips met in a soft and tender kiss, one of Louis’ legs thrown across Harry’s under the quilt.

“You’re too good to me, you know that?”

“Not sure that’s true, but I love you anyway. Before we sleep, I want to see that photo Liam took of us tonight.”

Harry nodded and reached for his phone, moaning when the bright light burned his eyes, and Louis watched him quickly dim the display before he opened his photos app. Of course, the majority of both of their phones were now filled with pictures of Quinn, but Liam had commandeered Harry’s phone earlier, saying he wanted some pictures of the new family. They’d posed sat on the sofa, Quinn cradled in Harry’s arms, then Louis’, and they’d then stood up, Harry holding their baby girl as Louis held his boyfriend around the waist, both looking down at their daughter with utter love and devotion.

“That one is… wow,” Louis breathed out, zooming in and admiring it a bit more. It had a real natural charm to it, and Louis knew what he wanted to do with this photo. “You know we said about maybe posting our own picture, and letting magazine use it for a charity donation? I want this one, Haz. It’s perfect, like… it’s natural and just us , you know?”

Harry just nodded, a smile slowly crossing his face as he opened up Twitter at the same time as Louis grabbed for his own phone. Harry had already sent him the picture by the time Louis opened his messages, and they both pulled up Instagram, adding the picture and their own caption. Louis thought on his for a moment, settling on “Welcome to the world, Quinn Joanne Tomlinson. Papa and I are full of love for you, each other, and our new family.” He also tagged Harry in the photo, making sure to get his boyfriend’s approval.

Harry’s caption made Louis well up a little bit, feeling the love his boyfriend had for himself and their daughter. He read with teary eyes the words “My world is complete. I love you, Quinn, and I love you, Louis. My happy ever after. Xxx”. They both sent the pictures at the same time, then turned their phones off, not needing to see the furore they would have attracted. Instead, they wriggled back down into bed, kissing each other again.

“Love you, Louis. So much.”

“I love you, too. Sleep tight, Haz.”

There was quiet for a few minutes, and Louis thought Harry had drifted off to sleep when-

“Lou?”

“Sleep, babe.”

“I will, but Lou?”

“Yes, Haz?”

Louis squeezed Harry a little tighter then, rubbing his palm over Harry’s belly, knowing he still found that soothing, a leftover touch from the pregnancy both of them missed.

“What you said earlier to Liam, did you mean it?”

Louis frowned, trying to remember what he might have said but gave up, his brain too tired and addled to run through the entire night.

“Which bit, love?”

“About, um... “ Harry cleared his throat softly, and Louis felt him move slightly to look back at him over his shoulder. “When you said give us time. About another baby. Is that, uh… not now, obviously, but maybe in the future… you’d want that?”

“I would,” Louis agreed, not even hesitating. The thought of raising more children with Harry, creating a bigger family for themselves was something Louis most definitely wanted, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. “Did you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, Lou, I do. Just wanted to check. Night night.”

Louis kissed the back of Harry’s head and silence fell again as they both finally fell asleep. It felt like just minutes later that Louis was disturbed from his sleep by his daughter’s disgruntled cries from her moses basket, and Harry stirred next to him, stretching as he readied himself to sit up, but Louis had other plans.

“No, you stay in bed. Go back to sleep, I’ve got her.”

There was no protest from Harry as Louis swung his legs out of bed, creeping across the carpet until he reached the moses basket on Harry’s side of the bed. He reached down and pulled his daughter up and against his body, rocking her slowly as he whispered to her.

“Sssh, we don’t want to wake your lovely Papa, baby, do we? He deserves a rest. Daddy’s got you, I’ll get you all fed and clean, I promise.”

He pulled the bedroom door closed behind him as he kept hold of Quinn, knowing she liked to be held rather than left in her chair or elsewhere as he expertly put her bottle into the warmer, flicking it on. He swayed slowly side to side as they waited for her milk to warm up, and Louis shivered, the kitchen tiles cool on his bare feet. He walked back through to the sitting room and picked up a soft pink blanket, draping it around Quinn, not wanting her to get too cold.

When the bottle was ready, Louis curled up in the corner of the sofa, his baby girl in his lap as he shook the bottle, making sure the liquid was warmed evenly. He tested it on his wrist before he lowered the teat to her mouth, watching her latch on, sucking hungrily. It was these moments Louis loved the most. While the world slept and all was quiet, he had precious one-on-one time with his daughter, and he made sure to never take it for granted, knowing these times were too fleeting. 

Quinn’s little hand flexed and opened for a moment, and Louis reached around her gently, sliding his index finger into her tiny palm. When she grabbed it and didn't let go, he smiled down at her, loving the connection between the pair.

“I love you so much, you know,” Louis started, talking softly so he didn't disturb Harry from his much-needed sleep. He knew his boyfriend had struggled to get a decent stretch of sleep in since Quinn’s arrival, and he hoped that tonight, he finally would. “I know you didn't come about in a very conventional way, but I hope you know that you were so wanted by both of us. The minute I found about you, I wanted you, I wanted to be your daddy.”

She blinked slowly up at Louis as she kept drinking, warm, cosy and safe in the arms of her father.

“And although your Papa and I started out as friends… I love him so much now. I feel so lucky that he came into my life, and that because of that, we now have you. We’re a family, and I hope it’s going to be that way for the rest of my life. Hopefully one day, you’ll be a big sister, and our little flower girl when I marry your Papa.”

As she finished off the milk in her bottle, Louis gently moved her so her chin was resting on his shoulder, her tiny body against his chest as he started to wind her.

“I’d do anything for you. And for your Papa. I’ll always be here, baby girl, whatever you need. I love both of you so much.”

“And we love you,” came Harry’s sleepy voice from the doorway. He was still only in his boxers as he shuffled over to Louis, curling right up into his side as Louis laid his daughter back down in his arms. Harry’s palm rested on her now full belly, cosy and close in their home. “We love you so much, Louis.”

“You two are everything,” Louis confessed as Harry pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “My beautiful little family.”

Our beautiful family,” Harry muttered, leaning in to kiss Louis softly. “And just so you know, I’m the lucky one.”

“And why’s that?” Louis asked, keen to hear the answer as if he was honest, he was sure he was the lucky one in the relationship. Harry just shrugged, resting his head on Louis’ shoulder, the moment peaceful and perfect.

“I get to love you.”

Chapter Text

3 years later

“Where Papa?”

Louis held on tightly to his daughter as she wriggled around on his lap, the buggy driving them around the huge film set as they sought out Harry. He’d been in America filming for a new movie for a couple of weeks now, and Louis had been juggling work with looking after Quinn to the point of exhaustion. Thank god his Mum and Anne had stepped up to help, as he wasn’t sure how he’d have coped without them. Now though, Quinn was desperate to see her Papa, and Harry had bought them both plane tickets out there for a week.

“Well, that’s where we’re going, lovely, to find Papa,” Louis soothed, knowing how impatient the little girl was now. His arms stayed tight around her waist as she flipped her head to look out the other side, one of her bunches smacking in the face as she did so. “Ouch!”

“Oh no, I sorry Daddy! Love you,” she said, grabbing his face and landing a kiss on his cheek. “Papa here yet?”

“Soon,” Louis said, trying to stay as patient as he could as the buggy rounded yet another corner. Someone waved at them to slow down, and Louis leaned in, shushing his daughter. “Now, we have to be quiet here, okay? Papa is working. You need to stay with me and hold my hand. Can you do that for me?”

“I be good,” she said solemnly, nodding her little head, hair bouncing as she did so. Louis wasn’t quite the hairstyle guru that Harry was, but he could put Quinn’s hair into bunches when he had to. “I see Papa?”

“Yes, love, you see Papa now,” Louis replied, carefully climbing out of the buggy with Quinn in his arms before he put her on the floor, grabbing her hand. Her little sundress looked pretty on her, something Lottie had bought her a few weeks ago, and her sparkly pink sandals finished off the look. He and Quinn were already drawing some sweet looks from people who worked on the set, and Louis made sure his Access pass was on show so he wouldn’t be stopped as he wandered around. They were both quiet as they paused by a camera, and Quinn turned, grinning up at Louis as she spied Harry.

“It’s Papa!” she whisper shouted, her eyes lighting up, and Louis’ heart skipped a beat as well. Harry looked as handsome as ever, a sight for sore eyes, and Louis longed to just run over and hug and kiss him, cameras be damned. “I see him?”

“In a second, love, he’s acting,” Louis said, picking her up and holding her on his hip so she could see a little better. They both watched in awe as Harry finished out his scene, finally relaxing as the director yelled cut. Quinn wriggled down from Louis and set off at a rate of knots towards Harry.

“PAPA! I HERE, I HERE NOW, PAPA!”

“Princess!” Harry called, bending down just in time as Quinn crashed into him, little arms wrapping around his neck. Louis started to walk across, half not wanting to interrupt the moment, but needing to see Harry. “Oh god, I’ve missed you so much.”  He kissed her cheek before he set her down, turning his attention to Louis for a second.

“Hi, beautiful,” Louis said softly, cupping Harry’s cheek and kissing him, not caring who was watching.

“Hello, my gorgeous fiancé,” Harry whispered back against Louis’ lips. “It’s so good to see you both.”

”Papa,” Quinn asked, tapping her Papa on the stomach, getting Harry and Louis’ attention. “Who she? Why you hug her? You only hug me and Daddy.”

“Well, she works with me, love. We’re only pretending. You know all my most special hugs are only for you and Daddy. Now I need another Quinn-hug, please.”

Quinn laughed and jumped at Harry, letting him scoop her up again. They wandered off the set, Harry reaching for Louis’ hand as they walked off towards Harry’s dressing room, wanting a little privacy.  Harry let them in, and Quinn wasted no time in marching around, taking a good look at everything. She gasped when she saw a photo of the three of them on the shelf under Harry’s mirror, propped up near his hair and beauty things.

“This is us! Me, Daddy and Papa!”

“Of course. Reminds me of you both when I’m working.”

With that, Quinn fell quiet and looked to the floor, gazing at her sparkly sandals. 

“Papa, you come home? I miss you.”

“Oh, I will soon, my love. Then I’m staying at home for a long, long time. I want to be at home with you two all the time. Does that sound good?”

“So good,” Quinn agreed, climbing into Harry’s lap where he and Louis were now sat on the sofa. Louis smiled at his fiancé, stroking over his hand for a minute. “How long now?”

“Until what?” Harry asked, and Louis chuckled, shaking his head.

“Our wedding. She’s been obsessed since our mums took her to get her dress fitted. We have to count down on the calendar every morning, don’t we, love? And it’s sixty-three days, Quinn.”

“Not long until I’m Mr Tomlinson, huh?” Harry murmured, nuzzling into Louis’ neck for a minute. “Can’t wait. And only three weeks until I come home and we can finish planning.”

“I wish you could come home with us,” Louis admitted as Quinn turned her attention to a book she found on the sofa next to her. “I really miss you. It’s been so long since we’ve properly been able to be together.”

“Ah, about that,” Harry started, a smirk on his lips. “Liam’s coming by tonight to take her out for the evening. Thought we could have a few hours to ourselves?”

“Oh yeah?” Louis asked, trying not to react to the idea he and Harry could finally be intimate again after too long without each other. He felt he deserved a medal for how he’d gone without sex for the past six weeks, especially given how regularly they usually did it together. “Got plans for me, have you Styles?”

“Plans? I like plans! What plans?” Quinn asked, looking innocently up at her parents.

“Uncle Li is taking you out for a very special dinner tonight,” Harry said, trying to make it sound exciting. “And I’ve got a day off tomorrow as well, so you, me and Daddy are going to spend the whole day together. We can go swimming and have fun all day long. Sound good?”

“Is Uncle Li here? Where?” she said, getting onto her knees and looking around, like Liam would appear out of nowhere. “I not see him!”

“He’s at work, love, at his office. But he’s going to pick you up later from our hotel.”

Quinn looked excited at the prospect, and Louis felt more excited for the evening now he knew his daughter was happy about it. It would probably be a different state of affairs when she realised she had to leave her daddies behind later, but for now, his anticipation for the evening was already high.

“So how’s filming going?”

“Yeah, all good. We’ve got a really good cast, and things are ahead of schedule. I’m just glad it’s nearly over. I’ve enjoyed the film but all this has made me realise that I just want to be home, Lou. When we’re married, I don’t want to be flying off all the time, I want us to have time together, to be a family, to-”

He stopped talking then, his cheeks glowing pink, and Louis knew he was holding something back. 

“To what?” 

“Uh, well, you know,” Harry shrugged, eyes following Quinn as she got down from the sofa, plopping down cross legged next to Louis’ bag, rifling through for her toys that he’d packed earlier on. “We’ve got the honeymoon after we get married, and then…”

“Spit it out, Harold,” Louis teased, sliding his hand up Harry’s thigh, watching his fiancé visibly shiver under his touch.

“Well, I always thought it was romantic to get pregnant on your honeymoon, you know?”

It wasn’t the first time they’d discussed having another baby. Harry had been broody for a few months now, mentioning a new baby before he’d flown off to America for this film. Louis also wasn’t opposed to the idea, but hearing Harry liked the idea of getting pregnant on their honeymoon really appealed to him. They’d slipped up a couple of time with protection, forgetting to use a condom, but nothing had come of it yet. Still, Louis was quite happy to try as much as they could in the Maldives, where they’d booked their ten day honeymoon.

“I could get on board with that,” Louis murmured, his eyes dipping to watch Harry’s lips for a moment. “I miss your pregnant body…”

“I do, too,” Harry whispered back, his breath tickling Louis’ chin now, they were so close. “Lou…”

There was a loud bang at the door then, and they broke apart, Harry getting up to answer the door.

“Alright, I’ll be out in a minute,” Harry nodded, turning around and pouting at Louis. “Sorry, babe, they need me to reshoot something…”

“S’alright. Can me and Quinn come and watch?”

“Yes please!” the little girl piped up from the floor, her dress hitched up around her, practically flashing her mermaid knickers as she played on the floor. “We go now?”

“Yeah, but then I’m done, and we can go back to the hotel together before Uncle Liam comes,” Harry said, picking up Quinn as they left his dressing room. He chatted with her as they walked down the corridor back to the set, and Louis trailed behind, watching his fiancé and daughter with love in his eyes. “Oh, hang on Lara, there’s someone I want you to meet…

The woman holding a baby stopped and turned around, looking a little harrassed as she smiled at Louis.

“Lou, this is my leading lady Lara. Lara, this is my fiancé Louis, and our daughter Quinn. Can you say hi, sweetheart.”

“Hello,” she said softly before burying her head in Harry’s neck, suddenly shy.

“Hi, I’m Louis,” he said, extending his hand and shaking Lara’s. “Is that your son?”

“Yes, it is, this is Hugo. Sorry to dash, but I can’t find my Nanny, and we’re due on set…”

“I can take him if you want?” Louis offered, raising his eyebrows at Lara and Harry who just smiled. “I’m a nurse and a dad, I’m pretty safe, I promise…”

“He’ll be in good hands with Louis,” Harry confirmed, and Lara handed her son over. He must have been about eight months old, and smiled gummily at Louis as he tickled him under the chin. “Lou, I’ve got to go.”

“Go, we’ll be fine, won’t we, Quinn?”

“I watch and be super quiet. Shhh,” she mimicked as Harry laughed, kissing her head and Louis’ lips before he walked off. “Who that baby?”

“This is Hugo, love.”

“He my baby too?”

Louis chuckled, shaking his head.

“No, love. He’s Lara’s baby, the lady acting with Daddy.”

“Okay.”

She was quiet for a moment as the director called for action. Louis jiggled the baby in his arms softly, happy that the baby boy seemed peaceful, and he kept hold of Quinn’s hand, impressed as always by Harry’s acting, how he became his role so easily.

“I want a baby.”

Louis looked down at his daughter before he walked further away from the set so he could talk a little more quietly.

“You want what, love?”

“A baby. Annie at school got a baby at home. I want one too.”

Louis liked the thought of making Quinn a big sister, and tucked away the thought to share with Harry later on when they had some time to themselves.

“Well, you’ll have to wait and see, won’t you? Let’s go and watch Papa again, okay?”

She nodded and dragged Louis over to watch again until the scene was finished, the director finally dismissing everyone for the day. Lara walked over with Harry, taking her son with a kiss to Louis’ cheek and a thank you as the baby screeched happily, pleased to see his mum again. They waved bye to a few people and grabbed their things from Harry’s dressing room, finally getting ready to head off for some precious family time.

“You ready for a fun evening, love?” Harry asked as Quinn shoved her bright red sunglasses onto her face, giving them a cheesy grin when they were in place. “What a gorgeous girl you are!”

“I know,” she said, her hands on her hips making her parents laugh. “Hotel now?”

“Yes, love, hotel now,” Harry agreed, walking her over to Louis’ hire car. He lifted her into the back seat and into the car seat, strapping her in before he closed the door, surprising Louis by crowding him against the door and kissing him deeply. “Mmm, been wanting to do that since I laid eyes on you earlier.”

“Save it for later, you,” Louis murmured, brushing his lips against Harry’s one more time. “I’ve got plans for you later.”

He wiggled his eyebrows at Harry and laughed as he rounded the car, slipping in behind the wheel, wanting to give Harry a rest. He’d not gotten much sleep himself last night thanks to Quinn being unsettled and in new surroundings, but somehow, he’d found a new zest for life now he was back with his Harry.

“Right, where to, family?”

“Home,” Harry said, reaching for Louis’ hand, lacing their fingers together.

“Silly Papa. S’a hotel, not home!”

“It is home,” Harry corrected, holding Louis’ gaze for a moment. “Wherever you two are is home.”

THE END