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hold this rope and i'll pull you in

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It was somewhat of a tradition for Liam to throw an annual Valentine’s Day party.

It was one of the few holidays they didn’t choose to go and spend family with, and at least appeased all their single friends that could drink away their problems. While it’d be more practical to do a Christmas party, Louis insisted on any party-related events near Christmas to be about his birthday and his birthday only (“Jesus can wait, thank you very much.”), and that was practically all Harry’s job to plan now anyway, and only one of the activities on the birthday roster would involve anything the lads could stick around for, so. Valentine’s Day was what they were left with.

But no one could deny that it was an even bigger tradition for Harry to bring his homemade, heart-shaped, sugar cookies.

Harry was modest; it was one of the few traits he was absolutely sure he had. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t aware the majority of Liam’s friends expected those damned cookies to be there. He had to buy enough ingredients to make it through an apocalypse and spend the majority of the day holed up in the kitchen just to make sure he wouldn’t let anyone down.

It was the twelfth of February when Harry finally remembered he hadn’t baked his traditional Valentine’s Day cookies for Liam’s party.

If that wasn’t inconvenient enough, it was about an hour before his and Louis’ second anniversary. And they were currently snogging on their couch.

Louis was straddling his lap, thighs bent on either side of Harry’s hips. His fingers were running through Harry’s curls, gripping and pulling on the strands of hair. Harry’s hands were splayed over his lower back, steadily dipping lower over his curves as their lips moved together languidly.

Harry was just about to grip Louis’ bum—pulling him that much closer and, hopefully, being able to hear his gasp as he sucks in a puff of air—when he felt his phone buzz in the pocket of his jeans.

Louis laughed into Harry’s mouth as his wandering fingertips stilled. He smiled awkwardly and Louis pulled back, both their cheeks flushed red and hair disheveled.

“‘S probably just Liam,” Louis mumbled, amusement pooling in his blue eyes. “Making sure we’re still coming for the fiftieth time.”

Louis made to move back in, but that was when it clicked. Harry’s eyes widened as he shot up into a seated position, pushing Louis off of him so he fell back onto the sofa with a yelp.

"What the hell, Haz?" Louis grumbled, leaning up on his elbows and kicking Harry in the thigh in retribution. "What's wrong?"

Harry turned to look at Louis. His soft, brown hair was falling into his eyes, and he looked positively murderous.

Harry breathed in deeply. "I forgot to make the cookies," he said.

Louis' eyebrows furrowed for the slightest second, before shooting up to the top of his hairline in alarm.

"Fuck!” he shouted, scrubbing his hands down his face. “Fuck, we did, didn't we?"

Harry groaned, his head dropping into the cup of his hands.

He didn’t know how he could have forgotten. He’d been doing it for years now, and Harry wasn’t one to let things slip from his mind. Why did he have to remember while sporting an untouched semi, for God’s sake?

“Harry,” Louis said softly, shaking his shoulder. Harry let out an incomprehensible noise. “Haz, it’s really not that big of a deal. We’ll go out and get some store bought cookies or something.”

Of course Harry knew it wasn’t a huge deal. Of course he did. But the cookies were his thing. Not only that, but now it was important to him and Louis, too. There was a reason their anniversary was the day before Valentine’s Day. Two, if one included the fact that they were never ones to do things in the more traditional sense.

“Besides,” Louis continued. Harry could hear his change to a lighthearted tone, so he lifted his head to see Louis smiling at him, the love and adoration in his eyes probably clear from space. How did he ever get so lucky?

“We shouldn’t be focusing on cookies when our anniversary is tomorrow.”

Harry rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across his face. “But the cookies, Lou.”

Louis scooted closer on the sofa, pressing their sides together—just that one bit of contact was enough to spread warmth throughout Harry’s body. He rested his head on Harry’s shoulder, circling his arms around Harry’s torso. Harry slowly ran his hands through Louis’ hair.

“Tell you what,” he said, peeking up at Harry from underneath his eyelids. “We’ll get up early tomorrow, go shopping, and get your cookies done by early afternoon. And then the rest of the day is just us, okay?”

Harry nodded, smiling down at Louis. “Sure, babe.”

“Promise you won’t stress?”

“Promise,” Harry agreed.

“Good,” Louis chimed, pressing a kiss to Harry’s cheek before drawing back. “Now I think there’s something you need to take care of.”

He glanced down at the tent in his jeans suggestively, and then arched his eyebrows at Harry.

Harry laughed, standing up from the couch and grabbing onto Louis’ wrist to pull him up as well.

“Of course,” Harry remarked, rubbing his thumb across the back of Louis’ hand. “How could I have forgotten?”

Louis hummed, taking a step closer to Harry and shortening the already minimal distance between them. “You seem to be forgetting a lot of things lately, oldie.”

Harry frowned. “You’re older than me, y’know.”

Louis visibly winced, like the two years between them actually made a difference. “Don’t remind me. Bedroom, love?”

Harry moved his hand down so his and Louis’ fingers were intertwined.

“Of course.”

 

--

 

Things didn’t exactly go as according to plan.

Harry woke up at around eight in the morning, which is a miracle in itself, really, since him and Louis had a notorious track record for sleeping in far later than they should have.

Somewhat surprisingly, the first thing on his mind was those damned cookies. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get nearly enough of them done if he wanted to spend most of the day with Louis and also waited until he woke up, so instead, he quickly (and quietly) got dressed, left a note on the bed stand for Louis in case he woke up before he got back, and left for the store.

It’s not like Louis was all that fond of shopping anyway; he’d honestly slow Harry down by demanding that they buy random sweets that really just put a dent in their joint bank account.

Ah, the joys of domestic life.

Harry didn’t take too much time at the shop. It was sort of a routine by now, and he knew exactly what to get and how much of it. It helped it was early enough that there was practically no one there and the checkout lanes were all empty. He was home just a little after ten.

When he stumbled into the kitchen, grocery bags in tow, he was startled to see Louis leaning against the counter, sipping on a cup of tea and narrowing his eyes at Harry. He had on what was obviously one of Harry’s T-shirts, loose and hanging off his narrow frame, and a pair of gray joggers, his hair in a disheveled mess, but still so artfully beautiful.

“Oh, hey,” Harry greeted, setting the bags on the counter next to him. “Didn’t think you’d be up before I got back.”

Louis lowered his drink, placing it on the counter top and crossing his arms. “I thought we were going out together.”

Harry turned to stare at him questioningly. Louis… Louis seemed mad—Harry knew the signals; they’d been dating for two years now and were best friends for even longer—but he had no earthly idea what about.

“I, uh, thought I could get it done earlier? I know you would take sleep over grocery shopping, so…”

Harry trailed off as Louis started to narrow his eyes even more, if that was even possible.

“Uh,” Harry stammered, not actually sure if he should continue. He does really need to get started on the cookies. “Did I do something?”

Louis straightened up, shaking his head, but his expression stayed the same. “No, no. Make your cookies or whatever. Don’t mind me.”

Sarcasm was dripping from his voice, but Harry had no way to decipher it. Louis had said they could work on the cookies in the morning, didn’t he? Or had Harry misconstrued that sentence somehow?

Harry’s eyebrows furrowed, irritation bubbling underneath his skin. He didn’t want to be mad at Louis—not on their anniversary—but they had been together long enough for Louis to know he could talk to Harry when something was bothering him.

“What’s wrong?” Harry decided to ask. He was used to Louis being stubborn, and some slight budging usually would get him to open up.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Louis replied, still sending an icy glare in Harry’s direction.

“Louis, really,” Harry pleaded. “Tell me what’s up.”

Louis didn’t reply. Instead, he grabbed his mug and walked out of the kitchen, leaving an extremely confused Harry in his wake.

“I don’t—” Harry called after him.

“If you need me,” Louis cut off, shouting from another room. “I’ll be upstairs.”

“Louis!” Harry tried, but it was no use. He could hear Louis heading up the stairs, and he knew when he got like this, there was really nothing he could do but wait until he was ready to talk.

With an anguished sigh, Harry turned back to the bags. He could at least busy himself with the cookies in the meantime.

 

--

 

Harry had five batches done by three o’clock, and Louis had still not reemerged from wherever he was hiding.

It had been a relatively slow process compared to other years, where Louis, or at least one of the other lads, would have helped him with making the cookie dough and carving it out with heart-shaped cookie cutters. He didn’t have the extra set of hands this time, though, and his mind was off in so many different places he had to start over from scratch because he hadn’t followed the recipe properly.

Harry had been planning on making Louis breakfast earlier, but then decided it would just make the cookie process go slower, and he really, really wanted the rest of the day to be about him and Louis.

He was going to make him a sandwich or something once afternoon rolled around, but then he realized he underestimated the amount of dough he needed and had to go back and make some more. He felt guilty about completely ignoring Louis the whole day, but really, they would have been done just a little after noon if Louis had only come down to help.

He resolved to make an extra batch of cookies just for Louis, as a sort of “remember when you helped me bake these cookies two years ago and I kissed you and half of them almost ended up burning” anniversary gift. He still didn’t understand what Louis had been so mad about that morning, but it’s been hours now, so Harry was sure he had cooled down a bit. Hopefully.

He put Louis’ batch of cookies on a plate, arranging them in a heart (hearts in a heart, ha!) and pouring red and white sprinkles over them. He took them upstairs, and when he saw his and Louis’ door closed, knocked on the door and waited for a response.

There was some slight rustling, and then, “What,” he heard muffled.

“Um, I brought cookies?” Harry said, voice rising on the last word. “If you want them.”

It was silent for a few seconds. He could hear the creak of the bed as Louis climbed off and his footsteps as he got close to the door.

The doorknob twisted, and Harry saw Louis’ tired and sunken face blinking against the light from the hallway as the door creaked open. He must have been sleeping; the TV in their room was off and Harry couldn’t think of anything else Louis would have been doing for these past couple of hours.

Harry grinned, handing the plate over to Louis. Louis took them, a slow smile spreading across his face.

“It’s in a heart,” he commented, letting out a small laugh. “You’re so cheesy.”

“It’s what I do best,” Harry said, chuckling along and desperately wanting to pull Louis into his arms. His laughter died down when he remembered he was still standing on thin ice.

Louis furrowed his eyebrows at him, and yeah, Harry definitely didn’t want to permanently ruin this day, so.

“Can you tell me what was wrong earlier?” Harry got out in a rush. “You know, when I got back from the store.”

Louis’ smile was wiped clean off his face, and shit. Shit, shit, shit.

“You don’t know,” Louis said. It wasn’t a question.

“Um.” Harry had absolutely no idea what to say.

Louis scowled, stepping back into the room. “You know what, talk to me when you do.”

With that, Louis slammed the door in Harry’s face, taking the cookies with him.

Harry couldn’t let out one sound, didn’t know what he was supposed to do or what he could do to make this better. He dejectedly climbed back down the stairs, plopping down onto the sofa and turning to a random channel on the TV.

He couldn’t really say what was on, because a few minutes later he was fast asleep, bones and body tired from the early morning and roller coaster ride the day had been.

 

--

 

When Harry woke back up, it was nearing eight at night, and he definitely hadn’t meant to sleep that long.

But after he checked to see that, yes, Louis was still locked up in their room doing who knows what, he couldn’t find himself wanting to do anything other than collapse back onto the sofa and go right to sleep.

 

--

 

It was the next morning when Harry awakened again, rays of sunlight streaming in from the glass window in the living room. His back was aching and stiff, and he had an awful crick in his neck that made it hard to move his head as he sat up on the couch.

 

He was a bit confused as he took in his surroundings. The only times he hadn’t woken up tangled up with Louis somewhere was when they got into fights and—oh, oh. That’s right.

They were having a fight, but Harry didn’t know what about.

As he stretched his limbs and climbed off the couch, he heard a clatter from the kitchen, and knew it had to be Louis, who was finally, finally, out of their room.

Harry staggered into the kitchen, only just then realizing that, yes, he hadn’t bothered to change out of the jeans and T-shirt he was wearing from the day before. Louis was standing at the counter, also weirdly fully dressed, and eating cereal out of a bowl.

He lifted his head as Harry came in, giving him a carefully guarded look that Harry hadn’t seen on Louis in a while. It made his heart hurt.

“Good,” Louis said, emotionless. “You’re up. We’ve got to help Liam and the lads set up for the party.”

Harry blinked, eyebrows furrowing. Was Louis still going to keep him in the dark?

“Um, okay,” Harry agreed, not sure what else to do.

“Might wanna get changed,” Louis continued. “They want us there in the next half hour.”

Harry nodded, walking further into the kitchen to stand beside Louis.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, crossing his fingers Louis would stop being so damn proud and tell him.

Louis’ eyes narrowed. “Quit asking me that.”

“Lou,” Harry practically begged. “I don’t—whatever it is, I want to make it better. Especially on Valentine’s Day.”

Louis looked away from Harry, rolling his eyes. “You remember that.

Harry’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

Did he forget something important? Is that why Louis’ upset?

Louis turned his back to Harry, slamming his cereal bowl on the kitchen counter. Harry watched as the milk sloshed around inside, and as Louis’ face scrunched up furiously.

“Don’t forget the cookies,” he spat out, before turning on his heel and storming out of the kitchen.

Harry was left feeling much more confused than he was just a few minutes ago.

 

--

 

It was just as Harry and Louis were about to walk out the door, Harry’s famous cookies on a plate covered with tin foil, that Harry’s phone vibrated with a new message.

Harry carefully placed the plate on one hand, while pulling his phone out with the other, reading the text from Niall as Louis was pulling on his shoes.

 

From: niall

How was ur anniversary with the bf ;)))

 

Harry only narrowly managed not to drop the plate.

He twisted around in the doorway, staring at Louis pulling on his shoe over the heel with his leg raised slightly off the ground. He seemed exhausted, even though Harry was certain he had to have slept most of the day and all through the night yesterday. His movements were slow and shaky, and Harry could just see the red rimming his eyes.

Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit.

He forgot their anniversary.

“Louis,” Harry whispered, clutching his phone so hard his knuckles were turning white and on the verge of collapsing into tears. He’s such an idiot.

Louis raised his head, lowering his foot to the ground. For a split second, his eyes flickered with concern, but returned back to their nonchalant state they had been in all morning just as quickly.

“What?” he said, standing up straight.

“Did I…” Harry swallowed, wishing this was just a terrible dream and he wasn’t actually the dickhead boyfriend that forgot dates important to their partner. Just, no.

“Did I forget our anniversary?” he managed to get out, voice cracking on the last syllable.

Louis’ blue, blue eyes widened, arms crossing over his chest.

“There it is,” he said, a type of fierceness lace in his tone that Harry never wanted to see aimed at him, and that was just confirmation enough.

Oh God.

Harry inhaled deeply, sagging against the doorframe.

“Louis,” he said, “I’m so sorry. I had so much stuff planned, I don’t know how I forgot.”

Louis’ eyes softened just a tad; so slight it would probably be unnoticeable to anyone but Harry.

“The cookies, Harry,” Louis reminded, and Harry didn’t know if he had ever felt more stupid.

The cookies, of course. Harry glared at the plate in his hand, as if they would apologize for the trouble they caused. He never had to make them, and he went and spent their whole anniversary making them and completely ignoring Louis’ existence.

Harry sent the most sorry-filled eyes he could at Louis. “I’m really sorry, Lou. You could’ve just told me I wasn’t paying attention to you and I would’ve let all of the cookies burn so we could spend the day together, you know that.”

Louis shook his head. It seemed like he wanted to cry just as much as Harry right now. “I could have, but it’s a bit heartbreaking when your own boyfriend forgets that, and I wanted to see if you would remember. I thought…” Louis paused, gaze lowering to the ground. “I thought when you brought me the cookies last night that you realized, but…”

And that was it. Harry dropped the plate to the ground, not caring at all what happened to them, and stalked forward and wrapped his arms around Louis’ frame, chin resting on the top of his head.

“I’m sorry,” Harry chanted. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

He heard Louis sniff as arms came up around his back, and Harry couldn’t stop a tear from rolling down his cheek.

He was so terrible. Yesterday was meant to be about them, not Harry’s stupid Valentine’s cookies. He had fucked it all up, and he wouldn’t be surprised if Louis broke up with him right then and there.

Harry squeezed him tightly, just in case.

“You’re amazing, Louis,” Harry muttered into his hair. “You don’t deserve half the shit I just caused you.”

“Harry, Harry, Haz,” Louis said, pulling away from Harry. “Look at me.”

He proceeded to grab Harry’s face in between his hands, forcing him to look at Louis right in the eyes.

“It was a mistake,” he said. “One mistake I was pissed about, and still kind of mad at. But that doesn’t mean you still don’t make me the happiest person ever, because you do. You’re right, I should’ve said something, but I don’t want you doing this ever again, alright?”

Harry nodded, leaning his forehead against Louis’.

“Of course,” he said. “Never, ever again.”

He moved closer, in hopes of getting a make-up kiss, but Louis pulled back once again, groaning.

“Fuck, we’re gonna be late!” he exclaimed, walking around Harry to grab his jacket off the coat hanger.

“Louis,” Harry interrupted, an idea forming in his head. “No, let’s not go this year.”

Louis snapped his head at him, staring at Harry like he grew two heads.

“What are you talking about?” he questioned. “We go every year. It’s Liam’s party.”

Harry sighed, stepping forward to grab Louis by the arm and pull him that much closer. “I know, but I want a second chance. Do our anniversary properly. I have a gift and everything, and like, candles and shit. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day, so it’s not like it’s a complete bust.”

“Are you sure?” Louis asked, but his lips were already spreading into a grin. “The lads might be mad.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Like you care about them.”

“You’re right,” Louis said, smirking. “I don’t. Let’s do it.”

“Yay!” Harry cheered, genuinely excited.

So he didn’t fuck it all up.

“You’re a child,” Louis chastised, but he was smiling all the same, so Harry counted that as a win. “I expect a romantic lunch ready within the next hour. I’m gonna call Liam, and then I’ll get ready.”

Louis winked before, quite literally, sauntering off, tugging off his shoes and throwing his jacket to the floor. It was definitely unnecessary, and Harry would be the one to clean it up (along with the spilled mess of cookies by the doorway), but for now, he felt like he couldn’t breathe, in the best possible way, of course.

It took another minute for him to get his legs working and dig through the closet he hid everything in last week.

 

--

 

“This is nice,” Louis praised, head swiveling around the renovated living room as he took a bite from his sandwich.

Harry hadn’t been lying. The lights had been turned off so the room could be covered in scented candles, the flames flickering in the dark and casting shadows along the walls. The coffee table was pushed to the side so they could sit down together on the floor instead, a buffet of their favorite foods spread out between them.

Harry had originally been considering a classis gourmet meal, but he had done that last year and for Christmas Eve, and, well, Louis’ favorite foods were along the lines of pizza and crisps. It only made sense to go picnic style for this.

Harry nodded, picking up a sandwich for himself. “Only the first stop for the day I’ve got planned.”

He smiled cheekily at Louis, who Harry could tell, even in the dark lighting, was blushing.

“What about what I got planned?” Louis asked, munching away. He had changed out of his tight jeans and button up, and into sweatpants and an old band T-Shirt.

(Harry would have much rather him be stark naked, but alas, Louis was the biggest tease on the planet)

“It’s your anniversary, too, you know,” Louis continued.

“We’ll take turns then,” Harry compromised, opening the wine bottle he had set out.

Louis raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t it a bit early for that?”

“Please,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “Never too early for some good, cheap wine.”

He poured some into two separate wine glasses, handing one over to Louis, who took it with an odd expression on his face.

“What?” Harry said, raising the glass to his lips.

Louis shook his head, leaning forward and pushing Harry’s glass out of the way to connect their mouths.

Harry wasted no time melting into it, setting his glass down and bringing his hands to either side of Louis’ face.

Louis pulled away after a few seconds, while keeping them just a breath apart.

“You’re a sap,” Louis giggled, twisting one of Harry’s curls around his finger.

Harry smiled. “It’s my job, babe.”

“I forgive you about the cookie thing,” Louis said, lips turning down just the slightest. “I can see how you’d get completely invested in it.”

No, that didn’t really excuse any of Harry’s actions, but he felt the weight resting on him disappear with Louis’ words.

“That’s good,” he said, “because it’s definitely never happening again.”

As Harry closes the distance between them and they make out on the carpet floor, he thought this was how he wanted to spend his Valentine’s Day, with Louis by his side.

Forget the damn cookies.