Actions

Work Header

May We Stay Lost On Our Way Home

Chapter Text

It’s getting late, and I
Cannot seem to find my way home tonight
Feels like I am falling down a rabbit hole
Falling for forever, wonderfully wandering alone
What would my head be like i f not for my shoulders
Or without your smile
May it follow you forever
May it never leave you
To sleep in the stone,
May we stay lost on our way home
C’mon, c’mon, with everything falling down around me
I’d like to believe in all the possibilities

&

There's singing.

Louis sensed the humans as soon as they came into the woods, but now they're within earshot and there's definitely singing.

"Isn't she lovely, isn't she wonderful, isn't she precious?"

It's getting louder as Louis approaches. The singer sounds good, better than any human Louis has ever stumbled upon. True, most of them have been babbling children, but he's still confident that this voice is more pleasant than that of most adult humans.

Once he tracks them down, he peeks between a couple of leaves, and… oh. There is a small child, but there's also a man. If Louis' never heard anyone like him, he's certainly never seen anyone like him. Maybe he's not human after all. It's been two seconds but Louis' decided there's something too... much about him. He's tall and lean, and his skin is glowing. His hair is thick and seems to grow leaves—or maybe they just got caught in his long curls during his stay in Louis' woods. His lips are pink and full, and his eyes are suspiciously bright. He should be extra careful around this one.

Then again, Louis has never been a very careful person. Which is how he finds himself hovering in front of the child, who starts squealing, "Wings! Wings!"

The tall one stops singing, which is unfortunate, and then asks, "What'd you find, Luxie?"

The girl claps, dangerously close to Louis, and yells, "Look! Fairy!"

Louis smiles and claps back. This is why he loves children—they're so willing to believe in him and in his magic, and they make excellent accomplices when it comes to pranking adults. Louis loves a good prank.

The man's hand suddenly drops to the girl's head, huge in comparison to her and to Louis, and then he ruffles her blonde hair. "Aw, look at that! You found a butterfly!"

"Oi!" Louis yells, flapping his wings so he's more at eye level with the man. The child makes an affronted noise and starts clapping at him again, but Louis' trying to make a point.

The man has started talking about kinds of butterflies, more focused on the girl than on Louis, which must mean he didn't even hear him. Right. He's too small.

Louis stretches his arms, feeling his wings and limbs grow slowly. The bigger he gets, the bigger the man's eyes get, until Louis' almost human-sized and the man's almost shrieking. He looks different now—his skin is tan and his mouth is gaping and he's so pretty he looks even less human than before. Louis' wings are fluttering even after his feet find the ground.

The man snatches the baby up and holds her on his hip with both arms, while staring at Louis and yelling, "What the fuck, how did you do that?"

Louis snorts. "By not being a butterfly."

The man is backing away slowly, but his eyes are still glued to Louis. There's a root he's about to stumble on. He might fall back on his arse. It could be hilarious, if it weren't for the girl, who's growing increasingly more agitated. Louis sighs—he's too good, really—and waves his hand to push the root back into the ground. The man squeaks and holds the girl tighter. "What do you want from me?"

"Nothing," Louis promises, because he doesn't. If he wanted something he would've taken it already. Right now he's just looking for some entertainment, and the man's fear is in the way. "You've got a lovely voice. What's your name?"

"Harry," he answers automatically, but then his face hardens again. "Are you joking? How did you do that trick?"

"Magic," he answers, obviously. Harry looks like he has a reply, but then nothing comes out of his mouth other than a polite noise of disbelief. Slightly offended, Louis spreads his wings in his most impressive move and rises a few inches off the ground.

The only thing Harry has to say to that is, "Fuck me, I should not have eaten those mushrooms," and then he's backing away again. Louis saves his life thirteen times by clearing the path, not that he gets any credit.

"That's probably true, you really shouldn't just eat random things in the woods," he agrees, moving forward along with the pair. "Especially not in front of your child."

"Oh, she's not mine," Harry says. He's speaking very slowly, either like he's trying to placate the dangerous predator that is Louis, or like he's a bit strange himself. "Like, she kind of is since I'm her godfather, but she's not mine mine, I'm just watching her for the weekend."

That was an excessive explanation. "So you took her to the woods?"

"I like the woods," Harry justifies, still retreating. Louis has to move a whole tree just so Harry doesn't bash his head in, and wonders if the woods really are the safest place for this maybe-human.

"You've never been in these woods. I would've remembered." That much he's sure of.

Harry quirks an eyebrow. "How? D'you like, live here?"

Louis rolls his eyes. "Obviously."

Harry gapes like it's just hitting him again. "Oh god, obviously, because I'm chatting with a hallucination."

Louis loves being a mythical creature most days, loves dicking around with other kinds and chilling in flowers and flying everywhere and controlling nature and tricking humans, but there are times when it's frustrating. "I'm not a hallucination, Harry. Or a butterfly."

"A prank then?" Harry asks, and Louis' surprised to hear curiosity under the confusion and nervousness.

"Nope. Little darling had it right," he says, flying closer to them and smiling at the child. "I'm a fairy. Or pixie, if you prefer."

"Why would I prefer pixie? Just because fairy's used as a derogatory term—oh my God," he cuts himself off. "I'm not just imagining you?"

"'Fraid not. Why would you imagine me, anyway?" He thinks Harry's a bit older than the humans who would imagine magical creatures in forests. Not that Louis' an expert on humans, particularly human aging. Time moves slightly different for his kind, and aging takes much longer.

Harry flushes pink, and with the hand not holding the child, points to Louis and kind of gestures all over. "Well, you're all—" Harry gives him a onceover, for the first time looking away from his wings. His eyes widen. "Oh God, could you, um…" His eyes are locked on Louis' body, while his huge hand covers the child's eyes. "Could you cover up maybe?"

"What?" Louis asks, confused.

"Your dick, cover up your dick," Harry says in a rush. "Not that you should feel ashamed of your body!" he corrects even faster. "It's amazing." His eyes widen. "Like, every body is amazing, not just your dick. I mean, everyone should be comfortable in their own skin—I like being naked myself—well, not right now, obviously, because—the baby. Lux."

As pleasant as it is to hear Harry talk shit, Louis feels a bit sorry for him. He flies up and picks a few soft leaves off the tree, charming them to lengthen and then clump around his hips in a makeshift cover. Harry looks just a tad calmer. For the second it takes him to panic about magic again. "Fuck, you're really real, aren't you? This is completely mad. I have to…"

He turns around, finally facing the direction he's walking in, and then picks up the pace.

Louis should let him go. Louis should even report this to Liam, should make sure the boy forgets this ever happened. He's probably had enough fun.

But Louis isn't technically obligated to, and this is the most exciting thing that has happened to him in a while, and he doesn't want this strange, confused boy to forget about him this soon.

So instead of mentioning that he's spent the past fifteen minutes just walking deeper into the woods, he saves him from stepping on a beetle. The child can't be ignored anymore; she tears off Harry's hand and starts banging on his shoulders. Harry tries to soothe her, immediately stroking her hair and saying slowly, "Shh, what's wrong, sweetheart?"

"Fairy!" Lux insists, grabbing a fistful of Harry's hair. Louis' quite pleased with this child. "Wanna play!"

"No baby, you can't play with strange naked men in the woods."

That's very sound advice, but Lux won't have it. She starts outright sobbing, the sound grating on Louis' heart. He jumps up and over Harry's head, appearing in front of them instead of chasing them. Lux instantly brightens and claps happily, making grabby hands at Louis. He comes up to Harry, closer than he's been before, and Harry halts abruptly.

His eyes are big and forest green, with what seems to be a permanent twinkle in them. Though it might be a twinkle of fear, Louis forgets all about his plans in order to stare. There's something about this man; Louis can feel that he's special, he just doesn't know why yet. Harry starts biting his bottom lip and looking down from Louis' eyes to his chest, then quickly back up.

Louis reaches up and buries his fingers in Harry's hair, marvelling at how silky and nice his curls feel. Harry's mouth drops open again, his lip slightly redder where he's been biting it, and he releases the softest sound. Then Louis picks up one of the stray leaves caught in his hair, and bends down to look at the child. "Wanna see something cool?" he asks her, smiling mischievously and waving the leaf in front of her eyes.

Her hands shoot out, trying to catch it, and she nods fiercely. Before Harry can object, Louis turns the dry leaf into a beautiful purple orchid petal. Both Harry and Lux gasp, and then she shouts happily and snatches the petal from his hand. He looks up at Harry smugly, because see, he's not just a strange naked man in the woods. He's not even a man.

And then Lux stuffs the petal into her mouth.

They both curse and force her mouth open to pull it out, which makes her so upset that Louis has to charm a dozen orchids and offer them to her. She seems happier at that, magnanimously saying pretty, thank you and picking up one flower. She doesn't try to eat this one, thank fuck.

He looks up to ask Harry if she has a favourite colour, only to find Harry staring at him. For the first time, he doesn't look suspicious at all. He looks charmed, for lack of a better word. Louis smiles at him, holding up the remaining orchids. Harry smiles back, something between cheeky and shy. "Okay, that was cool," Harry admits.

"I know. And I'm not naked anymore."

"Yeah, I know." He reaches up and pushes his hair back, trying to fix it even though he's probably just crushing the leaves. Louis could help him out with that, but maybe after he puts the child down. "We should still probably go before you turn out to be a baby-eating demon."

Lux seems to be offended by that accusation. She throws the flower at Louis and keeps her arms reaching out, demanding, "Pretty!"

"Are you going to break your baby's heart? We've bonded, Harry," Louis insists, already turning one orchid into a carnation and handing it over to a delighted Lux.

"I told you she's not mine… fairy," he completes lamely.

Louis snorts. "Louis. And I remember."

"Oh, you have a name?" Harry asks, curious again. His eyes are outrageously bright.

"Everything has a name," Louis reasons. "Even baby-eating demons."

Harry laughs much too loudly, as if he's possibly starting to believe Louis isn't a demon. "I meant that it's a French name. And you're not supposed to even be human."

Louis rolls his eyes. "It's not my real name, obviously, but a human gave it to me once and it stuck."

"Well, Louis." Harry clears his throat. "Guess I can't break her heart."

Louis' wings flutter in excitement, but other than that he's totally keeping it cool. "Guess you can't."

He's sure Harry doesn't fully trust him yet, but he seems to like him well enough. They all end up sitting on the grass, Harry and Louis next to each other watching Lux tear apart endangered flowers. "Cute, right?" Harry asks, like he's proud of his baby human.

His smile is unguarded and happy. Louis, staring at Harry’s dimples dumbly, says, "Very."

Harry blushes again, biting his lip and playing with the rips on his skintight jeans. "Can't believe I'm hanging out with a fairy."

Louis can't believe it either. "Well, you're bound to wake up soon. All my charming wit can't possibly be real."

Harry's dimples somehow deepen and he nudges Louis' shoulder. "I was referring to all the magic, but yeah, you're all right."

Louis nudges him back. "Guess you're all right too. For a human."

Harry repeats human to himself. It's not as annoying as it could've been. Probably because of Harry's all-right-ness. He's about to say something else, but then Lux starts making excited noises. "Look! Bunny! Hop hop!"

Harry raises an eyebrow, but Louis can sense that she's right. There's a rabbit creeping up behind them, probably drawn to the luscious green hay Louis' raised for them to sprawl on. Once Harry notices it too, Louis' surprised to hear him exclaim with just as much excitement, "Louis! Bunny!"

"I know, Harry," he replies, hardly as impressed. Harry actually pouts at him.

Louis groans. He turns his head to find the bunny, and then keeps steady eye contact with her, communicating that it's safe. When she hops closer to them, Lux absolutely loses her shit. Louis leans down and takes Lux's hands in his. "Little girl, can you be really, really gentle?"

Lux nods immediately, scrunching her face to show that she's serious. "Promise," she says solemnly, and then pets Louis' hand in demonstration. She's clumsy, but she's not aggressive. Louis relays as much to the bunny, who hops even closer. Lux covers her mouth dramatically, so as not to squeal and scare the bunny off.

Or maybe not. When Louis looks up again he finds Harry covering his own mouth, staring in amazement. "You okay?" Louis asks.

Harry's twinkling eyes widen. "Lewis. We're about the witness the cutest thing that's ever happened in the whole universe."

Well. Louis has his doubts. Until the moment the bunny hops directly into Lux's lap and tickles the child's nose with her furry ears. Lux pets her extremely carefully and says, "Good bunny."

"Shit," Louis agrees.

Harry giggles, and then pulls out his cellphone, presumably to take a picture. Of course, it doesn't work. He slaps it on his leg a few times, and his attempts are kind of amusing, so Louis stays silent until finally Harry directly asks him, "Why won't my phone turn on?"

Louis gestures around. "Magical forest. No technology."

"So…" Harry frowns. "That includes Instagram?"

Louis' not quite sure what that is. "Yes, Harold. It offends my enchanted kingdom."

"Oh, shove it. Just because I only moved here last month doesn't mean I don't know the forest has been here for a long time. It's well documented."

"Not this part," Louis says, fighting a shiver when the bunny's fur brushes the sole of his bare foot. "You're currently in the magical part. No one can get here uninvited."

"How d'you mean?" Harry asks, apparently confused. "I came here. We walked."

Louis shakes his head slowly. "I led you. Remember?"

Harry's smile dims slightly. "Are you actually going to murder us?"

"No, you idiot. You're free to go anytime. If you can separate these two," he adds, ignoring his heart squeezing just a little. It's just. Nice to have company that isn't a pack of angry centaurs. Not that Liam doesn't sing well, but he is less cute than this girl, even with the addition of flowers Louis made to his tail a few years ago.

Harry lets it go for a bit, lying down. His shirt rides up just a little on his tummy. It makes his voice sound even deeper when he says, "Guess I do owe you for finding Lux a best friend."

"Yeah, they like each other," Louis promises.

Harry stares at him again. "Can you talk to animals?"

"Yes," he deadpans. He can't. "Also, the bunny would've run away as soon as she stopped eating if she didn't like Lux."

Harry laughs too loudly again. "You know, I quite like dragons. If you could summon one of those, that'll be great."

Louis highly doubts Harry would survive a meeting with their dragon, but he's charmed nonetheless.

*

"Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while."

Singing again. Louis drifts up from his mushroom curiously, sliding his fingers through his hair. He recognises the voice immediately, even if it takes him a moment to remember the human's name. Harry.

He's in the same spot Louis found him at when they first met, but this time he's alone. When Louis' close enough to see him, he notes that Harry's looking around searchingly. His singing is purposeful, even though he's got no one to sing to; it's all very curious and Harry's very lovely.

Louis flies between the leaves of the closest tree and hovers behind Harry for a moment. The temptation is too great. Louis starts tugging on Harry's hair tie, making him turn around, and around again when Louis stays on his hair until the bun his hair is trapped in is loosened. It's hardly his most clever prank, but Harry's hair is soft and Louis' tiny stature is useful sometimes.

After five minutes of Harry yelling and shaking his hair out, Louis takes pity on him and finally flutters right in front of his face. Harry curses particularly loudly at the sight of him. Louis waves. Harry's big eyes appear even bigger, since he's surprised and since Louis' small. Before even making a conscious decision, Louis gets bigger, until his feet touch the ground.

It must have been enough time for Harry to get his shit together, because he looks perfectly composed as he crosses his arms and stares Louis down. Menacingly.

"You came back," Louis offers.

"Yeah," Harry agrees. He looks defensive, for some reason.

Louis clears his throat. "Has it been a year or two?"

"What?" Harry asks, brow furrowed. "No, it's been a day."

"Oh!" That's not so bad. "Where's the baby girl then?"

Harry juts out his chin and says, "As if I'd bring her back to your claws."

Louis lifts his perfectly humanoid hands and short, blunt fingernails. "Claws?"

"Yeah pal, I did some reading," Harry claims, waving a finger in Louis' general direction. "Do you know what fairies like to do?"

Magic, eating, fucking around with tree nymphs. He's got a feeling that's not what Harry thinks. "What?"

"Kidnap human children," Harry accuses finally, sticking his finger in Louis' pec and then coughing and pulling it away.

Louis tries not to laugh, really, but. He ends up cackling. "Harry. What on Earth would I do with a human child?"

"I don't know, Louis, since I'm not a creature known for its mischief and malice." He covers his mouth quickly. "That was rude. I'm sorry."

Louis just shrugs, still amused. "Sorry for disappointing you then, love. I could kidnap you if it'll make you feel better."

"I knew it was all a fan's plot," Harry says with a sigh. "How much are they paying you?"

Louis taps his chin, considering this strange situation. He might as well play along. "How much are you offering?"

Harry makes a show of checking his pockets, though his pants are so tight Louis has no idea how he even fits his hands there, let alone other essential body parts. "I've got… a hair grip, a plaster, a headband and a few rings."

Louis definitely wants the rings, but he's got a question first. "So if the child is safe at home… why did you even come here? Just to yell at me?"

Harry kind of. Blushes. He drops his arm and his stance loses the accusation. He's slightly hunched over, hand flipping his fringe, eyes sparkling. "Well, you know. Had to make sure what happened yesterday really happened."

Nope. No way Louis' letting him get away with it. "If you really thought I was a kidnapper, wouldn't it have been better if it hadn't happened?"

"Well, obviously, but." His hand moves from his hair to his lips, playing with them absentmindedly. "I wanted to see you again. To make sure I wasn't mental," he adds hastily.

There's a chance he's lying. Louis' wings flutter. "Obviously."

Harry smiles, probably knows he's been caught out. "You're pretty much harmless then?"

Well. "I love some mischief, me, but like. Stealing little things. Leading people astray. Pulling their curls. Not taking babies from their families."

Harry's eyes light up instantly, and for some reason he's touching him again, warm hand on Louis' bare shoulder. "Stealing things? D'you have a collection? Gadgets and gizmos aplenty?"

He's smiling like he's trying to clue Louis in on a joke. Louis clears his throat. "Not really? I don't have a lot of use of human things. Just turn them into other stuff."

"Oh!" Harry exclaims, fascinated. He's extremely expressive, like Louis could guess every thought in his head at any moment, and Louis doesn't know if it's a human thing or a Harry thing. "Can you turn anything into anything then?"

Louis puffs out his chest. "The source of my—me is nature, so that's mostly what I can fuck with. Plants, animals."

"That's amazing."

It's not. It's pretty limited. Not enough to really impress a human, but too much to ever share with one. But Harry's easily amazed and Louis finds himself wanting it to go on. "What's your favourite colour?"

Harry ponders it like it's the most important question he's ever been asked. Eventually he looks Louis in the eye and says, "Blue, I think."

Louis hums and points down, growing Harry a blue hydrangea. Harry beams at him, delighted, and then gives him a hug. It's a strange moment, given that Louis' usually too small for hugging purposes, and that Harry's wearing clothes. Louis finds himself wanting it to go on. "Green thumb superpower then, eh?" Harry asks once he lets him go.

Louis huffs. What the fuck does Harry have with his hands? He's got perfectly normal thumbs. "Sure."

"Could you—maybe grow some more?" He asks it like he's trying to contain his enthusiasm, but he's already halfway to the ground and picking the hydrangea. "So we can make a flower crown?"

Louis sits down in front of him, cracking his knuckles. "For your child?"

"No. Like, yeah, of course." He ducks his head, a devastating curtain of curls flopping over his forehead. He looks up at Louis hopefully. "But also for me."

Louis might be beaming too, already working on some roses.

Harry's utterly ridiculous, but he takes flower crown-making very seriously. Firstly, he asks Louis to cover up his crotch again. Then he asks Louis to grow a dozen different kinds of flowers, then has a selection process that takes ages because the colour combination has to be "just right", until finally he makes a devastated sound and blinks up at Louis. "When I get them they're with fake flowers. These are gonna rip apart, Lou."

A gust of wind sweeps Louis' hair—or maybe it was his wings again. "Don't worry, I'll charm them to be extra durable."

"Well, they don't need to be extra," Harry says, but his smile is cheeky. "I can be gentle."

Louis looks directly at Harry's massive hands and quirks a brow. He's only known Harry for two days but he's already deduced he's the clumsiest human in the whole world. "I'm sure you can, but we can still play it safe."

He circles his hand around the lump of flowers and gives them strength, and an extra shine. As predicted, Harry smiles and touches them extremely gently. Louis' rather pleased. "Now what?"

Harry wets his bottom lip in concentration. "We need like, a wire and some glue. Unless you—magic?"

Louis' not used to doing this for others' entertainment, never really performed magic for the sake of performing. But Harry's candid and bright-eyed and funny, and when Louis twines some vines together with the prettiest flowers to make a crown, Harry stares awestruck. Louis can't get enough of Harry's attention on him.

"That's nice," Harry finally announces.

"Nice?" Louis sputters, waving the crown around. "This is the most spectacular flower crown you've ever gotten!"

Harry shrugs, but he can't seem to stop the grin splitting his face. "I dunno, could do with some wires."

Unbelievable. Not only is it apparently a human custom to give flower crowns, they give each other subpar flower crowns. Louis grows some vines to prick Harry's hands, which were resting on the ground. Harry squeaks and lifts both of his arms, leading to him crashing down on his back like an idiot. Louis uses his immediate advantage and crawls over him, putting the most spectacular flower crown over his face rather than his head.

Harry kind of blinks at him, face surrounded by flowers. "I guess it's nicer than nice," Harry admits after maybe ten years. His voice sounds even deeper than usual, and Louis wonders if it's because he's lying down or because Louis' splayed his hand over Harry's sternum.

"Then I'm keeping it," Louis decides, settling more comfortably over Harry's thigh and grabbing the crown. He puts it on his own head in triumph, then instinctively smooths over Harry's hair. He'd do it himself if his hands weren't spread in shock right now.

Harry bites his lip. "Looks pretty."

"Of course," Louis huffs, adjusting the crown so it's just a bit crooked. "It's fabulous."

He's not sure why he's taking this so personally, but Harry seems eager to play along. "Does it make you flower royalty?"

Louis considers it. "Yes. I'm the ruler of the magic forest."

Somewhere in the distance, Liam's probably cackling. Whatever. To this human, Louis' the most fantastical magical creature these woods have to offer. Harry's arms start going up and up over his head, like he's surrendering. Or stretching his muscles. "Can I be a duke then? Or a prince?"

"Would that involve making another crown?" Louis asks, not at all hopeful.

Harry nods, hair bouncing over his biceps.

Louis clicks his tongue. "Will it have to be in the boring way again?"

"Excuse me, Louis, but seeing as I'm the expert here, that's offensive." He's pouting. Louis has to consciously stop himself from floating off his body.

He climbs to his feet, feels oddly out of sorts not touching Harry, wonders why they've been touching so much in the first place, and then reaches out his hand. "C'mon lad. We're gonna do it the Louis way."

Harry takes his hand and gets up, nearly colliding with him head-on. He really is ungraceful. And far too tall.

Harry adjusts himself and then rolls up his sleeves. "Alright, let's adventure!"

He's also really endearing.

*

"Stop right now," Liam insists, eyes zeroed in on Louis from the ground.

Louis doesn't even blink. He knows Liam's secretly amused by this. "Please, he's a twat, you know it and I know it."

Liam's mouth totally twitches. Louis hadn't exactly expected to get caught in the act of trapping Ben in a maze of thorny bushes, but he knows Liam will let him get away with this. Even when he says, "Louis, I'm their leader, I can't just let you get away with this."

"C'mon, Li, I'll let him out in a bit. A little prank won't kill him." Louis widens his eyes innocently. There's that twitch again. Louis hopes Liam will break soon, since they're both missing the show. Watching Ben gallop at full speed and then screech to a halt and curse when a new bush mysteriously appears five feet from him is hilarious.

"What did he even do to you?" Liam asks, instead of encouraging him to continue.

Louis huffs. "I was on my way to your camp and heard him talking shit. He's worse than that imp Grimmy, I swear."

It's not really true—Grimmy is by far Louis' least favourite resident here—but Liam wouldn't have agreed with Louis anyway. His face slips into that pinched expression that says "as one of the four Fosters I'm obligated to defend all the creatures who live here, even abnormally tall arseholes who are in an open conflict with my best fairy friend". Before he gets the actual speech, Louis adds, "He was talking shit about you."

Liam hesitates. Louis isn't even lying this time, the smarmy bastard was being disrespectful, but he doesn't blame Liam for not trusting him. He is a fairy, and Ben is a member of Liam's clan. Unfortunately.

Before Liam is forced to make a tough call, Louis' wholly distracted in a matter of seconds. There's a tug he feels at the edge of his magic, warming up his fingertips. It's quite familiar, by now.

All the excitement that dissipated during the righteous debate with Liam returns in full force. Louis' got a visitor.

He jumps off the branch and with a wave of his hand clears the thorns he put along the path to Liam's camp. "I know you would've agreed with me eventually, but out of respect and admiration, I'll stop fucking around now."

Liam gapes at him in confusion. It's not like him to give up so easily, but another adventure awaits. "Uh, thanks, I guess," Liam says.

Louis salutes and flies away, confident Liam won't tell anyone what he'd done. He's a good lad.

Much like Harry the human, who's standing in the clearing just outside the border between the natural and the magical woods.

"Why do you always sing?" Louis asks curiously, perched on a branch over Harry's head. He might have been spying on him for a bit, listening to him sing three different songs.

It's Harry's sixth visit, and Louis still has no idea why each one starts with a random song.

Harry jumps and looks up at Louis. His eyes instantly slide down to Louis' lap, so Louis grows bigger and grabs some leaves to cover himself before Harry has to ask him to. It's always an awkward moment. "You dick, how long have you been there?" Harry calls out.

"Only forever," Louis shouts back, smiling when Harry pouts.

"Well come down then, give us a hug," Harry demands.

Louis rolls his eyes. "Come up instead."

He didn't actually expect Harry to run to the tree. Foolish mistake; Harry's nothing if not eager, daring or obedient. Louis' got him all figured out. "On my way!"

Louis sneakily makes the trunk a bit more accessible, for a wrong-footed idiot like Harry. (He all but crafts stairs out of the bark.) When Harry finally reaches his branch, leaves are littering his hair and he's a bit sweaty, but he flexes his muscles like he feels accomplished. "Proud of you, young human," Louis compliments him.

"I'm twenty," Harry points out, but otherwise doesn't react at all to Louis being condescending—he just throws his arms around him for their customary hug. Louis isn't sure what's more unsettling, the fact they have a customary hug, or Harry's body nearly flattening him to the branch and causing both of them to fall down. If Louis' wings weren't acting up again they probably would have died. He's done a lot of things to humans, but he's not quite ready for murder.

He should do it now. Should find Liam or another Foster, should end whatever this is. He's already done too much—six times—to risk the exposure of the magical territory of this forest and everyone in it. This is hardly like a few thorns.

But he doesn't.

Louis makes sure Harry's tucked safely between the tree trunk and Louis' body, their legs dangling over either side of the branch. "It's not that big," Harry comments, voice low.

Louis clears his throat, then remembers his silly leaves cover. "What isn't?"

"These woods." He gestures down. Their branch isn't that tall, but it provides a decent view of the forest. "I mean, even with secret fairy colonies, from here it doesn't look that big."

Louis looks down too. The woods look infinite to him. "It's because you're not seeing how deep it is," Louis reasons.

Harry looks back at him. "How d'you mean?"

"I told you, if you go on the right path it pretty much doesn't end."

"Hmm." He narrows his eyes. "Maybe you're seeing it that way because you're all fairy-sized most of the time?"

Louis huffs. "First of all, seeing as I'm a fairy, every size of me is fairy-sized. Secondly, I'm 5'9. Thirdly, no, there's a whole world right here. There's a waterfall, and this stone formation, and other—things." Shouldn't really tell a human all this. He's going to get his arse kicked.

Harry isn't one to let things go, though. "Other fairies?"

Louis shakes his head. "Just me around here."

Harry's stare becomes fifty percent more intense, and then he's holding Louis' hand. "Really, mate? The websites didn't say—I mean, I didn't know if your kind was like, territorial or if you travel in packs or whatnot."

Louis snorts and turns Harry's hand over so he can lace their fingers together. It feels like the thing to do. "It's not about that, really. I just wanted to go exploring by myself. It's not sad, just a bit boring sometimes."

Maybe, very rarely, it does get a bit lonely. After growing up with a million siblings, it's natural that sometimes he misses having other fairies around. But it's been ages since he left his family, really, and he doesn't regret it. He knew he had to, knew it wasn't enough for him. He loves finding new places and kinds, always believed in going big no matter what he did. Plus, the farther he gets from other fairies, the more powerful his magic becomes.

Harry doesn't seem convinced. He's still staring, and for once, Louis doesn't want his knowing eyes on him. Fortunately, since Harry is a good person, instead of saying something disgustingly sympathetic he just leans forward so their foreheads are touching. "You can do magic. How can you ever be bored? You can build a treehouse in two seconds. You can become small enough to swim in flowers, or—or! Grow giant flowers and swim in those. You can talk to adorable bunnies, for fuck's sake. You can grow a beard and chest hair."

Louis isn't completely sure how that's related, but he laughs for Harry's benefit. "I guess magic is a perk."

Harry smiles and leans back. Louis feels slightly colder. "You've got this spell on me, I don't know what to believe," Harry informs him with a melody.

Louis pokes his cheek. "You never answered my question."

Harry swings his legs so their feet brush together. He's started showing up barefoot, like a normal person. Louis is proud of his young human. "What question? How I keep my hair so luscious? It's quite simple, really—"

"No, idiot," he cuts him off, kicking at his ankle. "Why are you always singing?"

"Because…" He mulls it over, like he's thrown by Louis' question. Harry's a very thoughtful person. "Because I like it. But also to, like. Summon you."

Louis wasn't aware that he needed summoning. "What? D'you read that on your websites?"

"Nope, just figured. Since you always show up when I sing."

He just can't tell Harry that he senses when anyone steps in his forest, that he doesn't require a special call. Firstly, because it's hilarious that he thinks that, and secondly, it might make him stop singing. "Makes sense," he says, noncommittal. Definitely not mentioning his free will and stuff.

Harry's eyes light up suddenly. "Can you sing? Do you have any fairy songs?"

"Sort of, but you wouldn't understand them."

Harry pokes him. "Louis." He pokes him again. "Lou." Another. "Lou." Is this tickling? "You have to sing for me, c'mon."

"No I don't," he says, batting Harry's hands away. Of course, Harry just goes harder for Louis' ribs, nearly flattening him to the branch. His hands are big and warm and feel kind of odd, not an ounce of magic in them. It's intriguing.

Louis' so focused on them that he falls from the fucking tree.

There's a disorienting moment before Louis' wings automatically snap and carry him up, where Harry actually yelps in panic. Louis worries Harry might jump after him, considerate person that he is. Like when he chased Louis around a few trees and then apologised to a fawn for nearly flattening her, despite the fact the fawn couldn't understand him.

When his arse is safely back on the branch, Harry looks at him without even a hint of a smile. Highly unusual. Louis puts a reassuring hand on his knee and says, "All right?"

"I could've killed you!"

Louis blinks. He considers giving Harry shit, but he looks actually distraught. "You really couldn't have. I'm perfectly fine, look, I'll sing for you."

The corners of Harry's mouth are quirking up, meaning Louis' in the right direction. He starts singing the first thing that comes to his mind—a dirty rhyme Liam taught him so he wouldn't feel too excluded when hanging out with his angry centaur buddies. Since Harry doesn't understand the language, to him it probably sounds like deep poetry.

He actually seems moved. He looks at Louis with his eyes wide and mouth slack, his head unconsciously bent forward. All the tickling and the flying somehow brought them closer together than they were sat before, and Louis' face feels hot. He stops singing abruptly, fixing his fringe. Harry just grins at him. "Louis."

"What?" Louis asks, something between defensive and embarrassed.

Harry covers Louis' hand with his own. "You sound lovely."

Louis shrugs immediately. His best friends are nymphs and elves (and now a deep-voiced human); he's really not that impressive. "Whatever. Want something really brilliant?"

"Is it you singing again?" Harry asks, batting his lashes.

Louis shuffles even closer to Harry, hooking their ankles together and pressing his hands down to the branch. Harry drops the coy act and just looks kind of stunned, eyes darting all over Louis' face and settling somewhere around his mouth. Louis closes his eyes.

And then their tree is growing, slowly becoming taller and taller, until Harry's hand is squeezing his too tightly and Louis stops. They're overlooking more of the woods now, can spot the stream and the more hospitable patches and Liam's Northern camp, but beyond that, Louis suddenly realises he can see the human territory. Harry's house, probably.

For some reason, he didn't think it was this close. It seems absurd that Harry's been right there all along, that Harry's right there when he's not right here. Or maybe what's absurd is that he's grown quite attached quite quickly to a human idiot.

"Whoa," Harry mumbles, like he's having life-altering revelations of his own. Or maybe he just has a fear of heights. "This is your world then?"

Maybe not. Louis looks over from the green of the treetops to the green of Harry's eyes and nods. "Told you it's deeper."

"And now I guess I'm a part of that world," Harry adds. There's a smirk growing on his face, like Louis' missing a joke again. Whatever, let Harry be a weirdo.

"Guess you are."

*

It's Harry's idea to follow the stream. He doesn't even wait for Louis to comment on his singing when he first arrives, just grabs both his hands and says, "I wanna explore."

Even though he's been coming here more and more often, in what some might call… bonding, they've mostly been keeping to the original clearing and chatting. It was the only excuse Louis had to not report him—knowing he's risking only himself, that really, he's protecting the forest by keeping Harry on the human side.

For some reason, the same reason as always, he doesn't shut him down. "Explore what?"

"You mentioned a magic waterfall once," Harry reminds him, a determined glint in his eyes. "How come you've never taken me there?"

Because I can't. Because I've taken you too far as it is. Because this is stupid. Because you could destroy me. "I didn't think humans liked water that much."

Harry looks adorably confused. "Why? I mean, we're not cats."

Louis smirks and ruffles Harry's soft curls. "Sure you're not?"

He definitely preens like one when Louis touches him. "Maybe part-cat. But as a species, sure, we can't breathe in it and we have to take off our clothes, but I love swimming."

Oh. Now things are more interesting. Not that he's particularly eager to see Harry naked, but since Louis always is, he figures it's about time they even out. Liam might have a heart attack if he ever found out, but Louis figures that since he's the one guiding Harry and controlling what he's exposed to, it's still okay. He'll make sure Harry never finds another creature here and put them at risk.

Nothing feels as important as putting a smile on Harry's face. (Maybe that's a more critical problem than the morality thing. Louis doesn't think about it too hard.) "Follow me."

Harry's a bit strange today. He's not babbling as usual, doesn't look around as often. It's not that Louis isn't enough of a talker to fill the silence, but he's grown used to hearing Harry's wild laugh after every joke, even his less than hilarious ones. And though he keeps detouring and making the road to the pond longer, Harry doesn't open up.

He's slightly cheerier when they reach the slope close to the waterfall and Louis charms them wooden sleds. Of course, Harry steers himself directly over a rock and falls on his arse, nearly rolling to his death, so they both end up squeezed into Louis' sled. Louis' at the front to steer, so Harry's long legs bracket him in and he hugs him close in a comforting touch. When they start gaining speed he's howling in joy, so Louis definitely pats himself on the back.

"Oh wow," Harry says, finally properly amazed when they reach the waterfall. "Look at that."

It's only twice as tall as Harry himself, but there's something naturally awe-inspiring about waterfalls and peaceful ponds in the middle of luscious woods. Harry's smile brightens the more he looks at it. Louis' smile brightens the more he looks at him. "Look at that."

Harry nudges Louis' hip with his own and says, "Race you."

Before Louis can ask, Harry takes off towards the pond. Fuck no, there's no way he's losing. He spreads his wings, soaring right by Harry and yelling, "Smart move, human—"

Suddenly there's a hand wrapped around his ankle, and Louis yells as he's being yanked back midair. He looks back to see Harry's absolutely devious smile and tries to kick him off, but Harry just giggles, his huge hand offending Louis' tiny ankle. Louis folds his wings and uses the momentum to roll on the grass and release himself from Harry. He's going to sprint for it.

Of course he wins. Even if he weren't more coordinated than Harry, Harry has to waste time taking off all his clothes just to jump in after Louis. When they both resurface, they're breathless and laughing. Louis pushes his hair out of his eyes and then snorts when he sees Harry's fingers completely tangled in his.

His breath stutters when Harry finally stands up. He's. Well. Usually he's dressed in tight jeans and a half-undone buttoned shirt, so there's not much of a surprise, but seeing his abs and long limbs and dick and stunningly broad shoulders all wet is a different experience altogether.

The water gets a bit hotter, definitely completely unrelated to Louis. His wings flutter a little, making Louis wonder… "Turn around."

Harry just does, no hesitation. It's not surprising, but maybe it should be.

What's really astounding is his back, broad and wet and wingless. That definitely shouldn't be surprising, but it really is. He drifts closer to Harry, running his hands over Harry's spine, from his neck to his bum. He can feel Harry shuddering, his skin soft under Louis' fingers. "What does it feel like?"

Harry's head tilts to the side, and Louis finds himself sliding his fingers up automatically, playing over Harry's shoulders and throat and hair. "Nice," Harry answers. His shivering turns into shaking, into shaking Louis off, and then he's sinking all the way to his chin and swimming away, closer to the waterfall. "Why?"

Louis swims after him, still mesmerised by Harry's back muscles rippling in the water. "It's all exposed! No wings."

Harry stops abruptly, turning around to face him. "Isn't the water dangerous to your wings? Like a butterfly?"

"No, there's a protection—I'm not a butterfly!" He claps his hands in the water and charms a wave large enough to shove Harry back and straight under the waterfall.

Harry flops dramatically, limbs flailing. When he finally resurfaces, he shakes his hair violently, spraying water everywhere. Louis stares, amused. "I take it back, you're more dog than cat."

Harry smiles good-naturedly. "Really? My friends say I look like Tarzan."

"What's that?" Louis asks, swimming back and away from the waterfall so he could actually hear Harry. Expectedly, Harry follows.

"Right, sorry. Human movie. Nevermind."

"No, tell me," Louis insists, splashing Harry a little.

Harry splashes him back. "It's a story about a human baby raised by apes. So he has long hair and big arms."

He flips his fringe and flexes his biceps in a way that distracts Louis for a moment from the improbability of what he just said. "Then he gets killed?"

"No! He finds a human and falls in love."

Louis' throat feels tight all of a sudden. He shakes his head. "But how would they even communicate?"

"She teaches him, kind of." He nibbles on his pink lower lip in thought. "But the apes speak in English too."

Louis just raises an eyebrow.

"Don't shit on one of my favourite movies, Louis," Harry tuts, obviously trying not to laugh. "How do you know English, then?"

"I don't," he replies, smiling in victory.

Harry does his slow blink thing. "Huh?"

"It's a magic thing. You hear me in the way you can understand me. I never actually learnt English, that would be absurd."

Harry blinks extra slow. Louis tries to think of a better explanation, but then Harry's only question is, "Are you saying Tarzan had magic too?"

Louis splashes him and kicks his legs to drift away. Harry grabs his ankle again, slowing him down like he expects a real answer. Or maybe not, since there's a dirty grin on his face. "I really don't know him," Louis reasons. "But you don't look like an apeman, anyway. More like a merman."

Harry beams unexpectedly, the kind of glinting smile that makes Louis' heart jump, and then he sinks back in the water. When he pops up again, Louis' heart just seizes. Harry throws his head back so theatrically that his hair whips and douses Louis with water. His neck is stretched and his back is arched so his chest is all broad and Louis' stupid wings are fluttering so hard he's causing a small whirlpool behind him.

Harry's smile is blinding when he finally turns back to Louis. "That move is from a film about a mermaid."

He's probably still staring like an idiot. "What happens in that one?"

"She's the mermaid princess, yeah? But she's always been obsessed with human stuff, and then one day she falls for this human sailor prince, and then she strikes a bargain to give up her mermaidenhood to be with him."

Louis would really like to point out how ridiculous that would be—to give up who you are just to be with a sailor prince—but Harry's flopping around happily and seems excited to tell Louis about this stuff. The whole point of this was to lighten Harry's mood. "I'm guessing Tarzan does the same?"

"Nope. His human stays with him in the forest." He frowns. "Though to be fair, both movies perpetuate the woman abandoning her life to be with the man, so I'm not sure about the message. But. It has great songs."

Louis smacks his own forehead. "Why do you even like those movies?"

Harry shrugs. "I like the music, and the happy endings. And the singing animals."

"Do they sing in English too?" Louis asks, smirking.

"Of course. But like, you sing and then birds start braiding your hair, mice making you dresses, chameleons playing chess with you. Can you imagine?"

Louis' helplessly endeared. So he splashes him right in the face. Harry sputters angrily, and then pounces on Louis, trying to dunk him underwater. He actually manages it, since Louis couldn't have predicted feeling Harry's whole body pressed up against his side.

He flails, trying to at least break Harry's arm, if not kill him. When Harry finally lets up, Louis shoots out of the water, probably a lot less attractively than Harry did earlier. He splashes Harry violently again, and before Harry can retaliate, he swims around him and latches onto his back. Harry freezes, which is very convenient for mounting purposes.

He wraps his arms around Harry's broad shoulders and buries his nose in his wet hair, legs tangling around Harry's waist until he's clinging completely. They've never been quite this close quite this naked, but it feels oddly natural, their bodies fitting together.

Harry accepts this reality without a word, just starts swimming with Louis attached to him. Harry's back, strong and wingless, moves subtly under Louis' chest, slippery under Louis' cock. It's nice, the slow motions and cool water relaxing Louis for once. Enough that he's not really troubled by the realisation that he's attracted to Harry.

He closes his eyes and lets Harry carry him around for a long time, only jolted back to reality when Harry murmurs, "Lou."

It sounds deeper than usual, either because of their close proximity or because there's water in Louis' ears. He detaches his mouth from Harry's neck to ask what's up, then realises his mouth has been kissing Harry's neck for some undefinable reason.

He pulls his head back, hands slipping over Harry's chest, and the question that comes out of his mouth is, "Are you cold?"

"What?" Harry asks, sounding kind of dazed. Louis flutters his fingers over Harry's obviously hard nipples, and Harry's voice sounds even odder when he says quickly, "Yeah, freezing."

Louis hums and lets go of Harry completely, treading water behind him instead of being all over him. Harry instantly ducks underwater, resurfacing a few feet away from Louis and with his back to him. Louis claps his hands and wiggles his fingers until the water around him heats up steadily. He knows it reaches Harry by the soft "oh my God" he hears, and he smirks to himself.

"Better?" he asks, swimming closer. Harry's leaning on the rocks at the edge of the pond, so Louis can only stare at his back and nudge his shoulder.

"So nice. Like a jacuzzi," Harry rumbles. His eyes flutter closed, waterdrops clinging to his lashes. Louis flaps his wings to create ripples that lap at Harry's body pleasantly. A small smile spreads on Harry's face. He's a beautiful person to pamper. "Just what I needed."

"Needed?" Louis asks, leaning on the rocks next to Harry and elbowing him.

"Don't worry about it. Just human stuff." His voice is still slow and content, so Louis doesn't feel the need to drop the subject.

"C'mon, Hazza. What's up with you today?"

Harry sighs. It takes him a while to answer, longer than his slow speaking can account for. "It's just been a rough week, I guess. There's a lot of pressure on me right now from the—people I worked for. They want me to do something I really don't want to do yet, and I guess I just got a bit sad."

Louis frowns for a moment. Because of Harry's endless curiosity about Louis, they mostly discuss him and magical stuff when they're together; it's not often that he hears about Harry's life out of the forest. He can't imagine Harry being anything less than a force of nature. And he's the expert on those. "So the woods make you happier?" he asks, hesitant.

Harry doesn't open his eyes, just bites his lip. "Yeah, they're… easy to talk to. Pretty fun to chill with."

He looks pretty chilled now. Louis gets an epic idea. He looks up and starts humming, quieter than Harry can hear. Then, he says, "Harry, sing."

Harry just does. "It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside. I'm not one of those who can easily hide—what—"

His eyes flutter open, and then he laughs in delight when he realises Louis' called a few hummingbirds over. They're not actually braiding his hair, since that's impossible, but they are making it flap about with their long beaks. Harry looks at Louis with a smile splitting his face, dimples out and eyes shiny, and just by making him this happy Louis feels happier than he has in a while.

Harry resumes singing and Louis just touches his arm gently. More awkward than a mermaid, less tough than an apeman, perfectly human. Louis might like him a bit too much.

*

They have a ritual going on. Louis mostly always sneaks up on Harry, trying to think of new ways to startle him whenever Harry sets foot in the forest. He ranges from throwing apples at him to changing his hair colour (both disappointingly welcome by Harry).

So when Louis runs to Harry and tackles him straight to the ground, it's because he absolutely must.

"Oh my god," Harry squeals, throwing his arms out to protect himself.

Louis pays him no mind, darting in close and sitting on top of him because he can still smell the thing that triggered his attack. Something like vanilla and coconut and… "Aha!" It's in Harry's hands. He makes a grab for it, but Harry only holds the bag tighter. Only out of concern for the potential content of it, Louis backs off. "It smells so organic!"

Harry still looks a bit overwhelmed by being thrown to the ground, but he smiles wide at that. "I thought you might like that."

Louis fucking loves food. Harry mentioned that he loved cooking once, but Louis' never benefitted from it. Until now, apparently. "You do love me," he decides.

Harry smiles brightly. "'Course. They're just vanilla cookies, though. And you like me too."

"We'll see after you give me one."

His hold on the bag tightens and his mouth turns down. "Not if you don't like me."

Please. Louis puts one hand on his heart and another on Harry's. "I adore you."

It's just a random thing. Something they say occasionally, since Harry's the most affectionate creature Louis' ever encountered, and Louis' come to terms with liking him almost as soon as he met him. Surprising, maybe. Gratifying, if it gets him cookies.

Which Harry finally releases. Louis snatches the bag from him and rolls off his hips, ends up cross-legged next to him. Before Harry can mention it, Louis puts the bag over his crotch and then digs in. All the excitement fades in a second. "Harry. You don't love me at all."

Harry slaps a hand on his chest, offended. "How dare you?"

Louis holds up one of the cookies extremely carefully. It's about the size of the pad of his thumb. "Why did you bring me the world's tiniest sweets?"

"Because I'm a genius, obviously. Smaller cookies means more cookies."

He looks incredibly smug, still lying flat on his back with his pretty hair tousled in the grass. It's a shame he's such an idiot. "But I'd need to shove ten in my mouth just to get the taste. How is that satisfying?"

Harry throws his arms out and slowly closes the distance between his hands. "I made them fairy-sized! So you can get smaller and they'd be proper. Or you get even smaller and they'd be huge. I used to be a baker, you know."

Shit. Harry does love him. There's just one problem.

Louis' been ignoring it for a while. It's not like he had to deal with it, and he's never been one to address his issues before he absolutely had to. Now that there are sweets at stake, though, Louis' afraid he needs to come clean. Face the facts.

"I sort of can't," he whispers, crackling the bag in the process.

Unfortunately, Harry still heard him. "It's all organic products, I promise, vanilla extract and fruit and stuff you could grow yourself."

"No, I mean. That's lovely, truly, I just can't get small."

Harry sits up instantly, blinking at Louis. "Seriously?"

Louis would really rather be in any other conversation. He began suspecting this problem a couple of weeks ago, when he heard Harry's song greeting and grew human-sized without making a conscious decision to do so. Then he noticed he couldn't shrink as small as he used to. Now he can't do it at all. It's humiliating.

"Is there something wrong? Are you sick or summat?" Harry asks, spreading his huge hand on Louis' forehead for some reason. "I could get help really fast."

He knocks his wrist away. "I don't get sick."

"Oh, I know!" Harry exclaims, suddenly excited. "You're getting bigger because I believe in you. That's how it goes with magical beings in movies."

He looks so proud of himself, either for figuring it out or for actively making Louis grow. And Louis thinks about how happy he seems, how he's inexplicably fond of Louis, how he believes in him blindly and fearlessly.

And Louis knows Harry's wrong.

He knows because Harry's touching him and looking at him like he always does, and even if Louis wanted to shrink right now his magic won't let him. Because he wants Harry to see him this big. Just like he found himself living in the human timestream instead of skipping years absentmindedly, or how he lost the will to go exploring farther. There are too many feelings in him now, way more than he's used to, and they seem to be directing his magic.

Harry is a force of nature, even if he doesn't believe it himself. He's magnetic and charming and so special, could pull anyone to him like he's stringing vines around them. Louis feels like he can tell Harry anything; the boy is as sensitive as only a human can be.

But he can't tell him all that.

So he says, "Maybe," and then they stack up the (fucking delicious) tiny cookies and devour them in clumps. It's one of the most confusing experiences of his life.

*

"Whoa," Harry mutters, pushing his hair out of his face. It's a horrible, distracting habit of his. "You're glowing."

"What?" Louis asks, confused and still looking at Harry's hands. Even with this whole inconvenient growth spurt, Louis' hands aren't quite as big as Harry's.

Harry clears his throat awkwardly, and when Louis looks up he finds him flustered. "I mean, not you you. Not that you don't! Like, you're magic, there's lots of glowing there. But I meant, like, when you made that path, one of your tattoos glowed."

Louis doesn't know what about that was more confusing. He decides on, "My what?"

"Your tattoos," Harry repeats, like Louis' being slow. "This one," he adds, pointing at his bicep. Louis looks at his own skin and suddenly starts laughing.

"Harry, they're not tattoos." At Harry's dubious expression, Louis rolls his eyes. "They're runes. For all sorts of things."

That seems to have effectively blown Harry's mind. He takes a small step closer and runs his gaze all over Louis' body, making him feel self-conscious. "Runes? Are you serious?"

"No, Harold, I actually clipped my wings, left the magic forest and strolled into the nearest tattoo studio."

At least by now Harry knows when Louis' being sarcastic. Which is a bit sad, actually. Not that long ago Louis managed to convince Harry that the magic flowers only grow because he pisses magic urine on them. "Well, I dunno!" he says defensively. "Could be a magic tattoo studio or summat. And they never glowed before." He pokes Louis' Direction rune, the one that glowed earlier.

Louis frowns down on it. Harry's right, they're definitely not supposed to glow by now. He's really not sure how he feels about his magic becoming more and more obvious around Harry. It's like it has a mind of its own lately.

For the sake of the argument, Louis huffs at Harry. "Why would I go to a tattoo artist when I could just..." He stretches his arms, looking for free space among the runes already on him.

There, his right wrist. With quick strokes of his left index finger, he draws Connection on himself, which looks like a serpent biting its own tail. It glows red for a moment, but then his body accepts the well-executed charm and it turns into something else—rope coiling around his wrist, shaping an infinity. He's not sure why that was the first spell that came to mind, but he is sure it'll bite him in the arse.

For now he's well pleased with it, still amused by the concept of someone drilling a needle into his skin.

The amusement fades when he looks up and Harry's staring at his new mark in nothing short of awe. Louis feels self-conscious again. He feels a bit hotter and like his skin is on display, more than the casual nudity usually permits. "Lou, that's amazing," Harry says in his normal, slow way, but there's emotion there, something that makes Louis' wings flutter. "What does it mean?"

"It's for connection," Louis replies, holding out his hand because Harry seems like he wants him to.

Harry wets his lips, still staring at Louis' charm in that intense Harry way of his. "Sounds vague," he mutters, then quickly, so as not to offend, adds, "In a beautiful way, I mean. You're—it's so lovely."

"You can touch it," he offers, because he knows Harry's too polite to admit that he wants to.

Harry's eyes snap up. Louis has these thoughts, sometimes. When he looks into Harry's big green eyes and they're specked with gold and he's sure that Harry's got some magic in him, too, that something must have made him this beautiful. He never says it. "Won't it hurt?" Harry asks in a hushed voice, like Louis' asked him to do more than touch his wrist.

He arches an eyebrow. "Of course not. How could you hurt me?"

Harry shrugs, then finally puts a tentative finger on Louis' charm. He traces the loops of the rope, entranced, and it suddenly starts glowing. Harry gasps but doesn't stop, and Louis feels his skin grow warmer in a way that has nothing to do with the spell. Or maybe. Maybe like he's Connected to Harry.

He blurts out something he regrets instantly, because he's an idiot. "Would you like one?"

Instead of dropping it, Harry grabs his wrist, his hand fitting perfectly wrapped around him. Louis can't breathe and it seems like Harry's suffering from the same condition. "Could you give me one? Really?"

This is stupid. This is crossing a line between them. Louis' never even done it before, never came close, because traditionally, runes are passed from kinds to humans during claiming rituals, not random meetings in forests. But he's cast a lot of malicious spells on humans that have gone off without a hitch, so what could go wrong with a positive rune? With confidence that's mostly feigned, Louis says, "If you want me to, sure."

"Brilliant!" Harry exclaims, suddenly excited, and drops himself on the ground. Louis quickly grows thick moss under him so his back doesn't hurt. "Will the magic work on me?"

Louis shakes his head to clear it and lies down more gracefully than Harry had. He props his head on his hand so he can look Harry over. "It should. If you don't want—like, you could just get a normal tattoo."

"Shouldn't, not yet," Harry says with a sigh. "In my line of work—people don't expect me to get one."

Since Harry obviously wants one, Louis has no idea why expectations would come into play. "Your line of work?"

"Yeah, like. My bosses are pretty strict about that kind of thing. Because I should look a certain way, you know?"

Louis' still curious, but Harry's being evasive and his excitement is fading, so Louis gets back on topic. "You realise the runes will look like one? Might raise a few eyebrows."

Harry nods slowly, like he's sad to agree, but then his eyes light up. "Unless it's a secret!"

"What—" Before Louis even finishes his question, Harry's unbuttoning his shirt. Okay, that's happening.

He lies back down and spreads his arm out, swatting Louis' shoulder accidentally. He points to his inner bicep, touching the pale flesh. "Secret tattoo," he explains. "In a secret place."

"Right," Louis says, thoroughly distracted by Harry's soft hips and shivery skin and hardening nipples. "Okay, I suppose. What would you like?"

Harry sucks in his little stomach when he takes a long breath. "Whatever you'll give me."

Right. Louis tears his eyes away from Harry's body and gets on his knees. He focuses on Harry's upper arm, thumbing his own lips and trying to imagine what would fit. "How about a guidance charm?"

"Cool," Harry says automatically. He sounds so happy that Louis has to look at his face again, and all heated thoughts escape his mind because Harry just looks thrilled. Excited for his magic tattoo and magic friend. "What would that do?"

Louis bites back a laugh. "Give you guidance. So you don't get lost in the woods again."

Harry frowns. "You made me get lost."

That's just blatantly untrue. "Well, this would make sure you can come to my patch."

"Oh." Harry absolutely beams at him, in a way that makes Louis' stomach flutter. "Alright. What does it look like?"

"Dunno," Louis says with a shrug. At Harry's confused pout, Louis explains, "You saw, like. I draw it, but the magic has a mind of its own. You don't know what you're gonna get."

"Dangerous," Harry comments. Louis' about to remind him again that they don't have to, but then Harry turns on a cheeky grin and says, "I like it."

"You're an idiot," Louis decides.

Harry smiles even harder at that. "Maybe. What are the chances that it'll look like a giant willy?"

"Harry, honestly, there's no need to advertise how much you want a giant willy."

Harry sputters for a moment, then launches himself at Louis and jabs his ribs hard. Louis' got two advantages here—well, he's got twenty, really, between his inhuman strength and magical powers, but right now the main advantages are that Harry's shirtless, and that Harry's ticklish.

Which is how not four minutes later they end up in the same position—Harry lying defeated on his back with his pale skin flushed and Louis aching to touch him again. "Fine," Harry huffs. "I guess we can do it even if it doesn't turn into a dong." More seriously, he tacks on, "I trust you."

Louis thinks, why, and you shouldn't, and good. "Spread 'em," he says, and Harry spreads both his arms out like wings. Louis still feels the new rune thrumming in his veins, making him even more connected to Harry than he was before, and Harry's a bundle of anticipation and soft skin and humanity. It's enough to give a fairy a headache, if not an appetite.

Louis tells him to steady himself and runs his fingers along the length of Harry's arm. Harry's hand gently clenches in the grass under him. "Is it supposed to hurt?" Louis asks, suddenly a bit protective. If tattoos hurt humans he shouldn't do it to his human.

"It doesn't matter," Harry says quietly, serious now that they're doing it. "I don't mind."

Louis hums. He guesses he can see how a rune will be worth it. And Harry will tell him if it's too much. He traces a circle around the area he's going to draw on Harry's arm, and then conjures up in his mind the particular rune that he wants.

As soon as the power starts flowing from Louis' fingertips to Harry's skin, Harry chokes oh god and tears out all the grassblades he's been clutching. Louis pauses, careful not to remove his fingers and leave Harry with another charm altogether. "Does it hurt?" he asks, eyes glued to the spot that's still glowing under his touch.

"No," Harry breathes, and he sounds so odd that for a moment Louis thinks he might be disappointed. Not getting the full experience. So with his free hand Louis pinches Harry's nipple, hard. Harry reacts by arching his back and gasping again, "Fuck, Louis."

It strikes Louis that he sounds better than when he sings. He sounds better than any pan flute or songbird or luring wood nymph. Louis' stomach feels all twisted up but he has to focus but he can't stop touching but he doesn't want to leave Harry with a penis tattoo but he can't seem to make himself stop tweaking the hard nub of Harry's nipple. When he starts drawing again, long line, peak, long line down, Harry squirms quite hard and Louis makes the grave mistake of looking at his face.

He's biting his full bottom lip so hard it's turning from pink to white under his teeth, and his eyes are squeezed shut tightly enough that his lashes fan over his cheeks. His face is still flushed so prettily and Louis knows what's happening, on some level, but it's like he still can't be sure. He can never be sure with Harry. He spreads his hand out on Harry's pec, so his nipple is still caught between two of Louis' fingers but he can feel his fierce heartbeats. Louis thinks they match his own.

Another sweep up with the rune, and Harry arches again, muscles flexing and harsh breaths distracting Louis for a moment. "Steady," Louis repeats, but Harry's only reaction is to squirm again. Guidance is starting to look like something else, and Louis feels like he only has one option, really. He charms the slimmest roots from the closest tree to surface and wrap loosely around Harry's forearm, pinning it down.

"What—oh my god," Harry mutters, and this time when he wriggles Louis doesn't have to stop. It only makes Harry more restless. "Louis, it's…"

Louis glances at him again, then almost fucks up the rune himself because Harry's eyes are open now, boring into his own arm. The green is almost swallowed by black with the way his pupils are blown, and his lips are wet and reddened and before Louis knows it he's squeezing his nipple again, just to see what happens. Harry throws his head back with a silent gasp, beautiful neck curved and hair fluttery. "Alright?" Louis asks, suddenly at a loss.

Harry nods eagerly, like he gets bound in tree roots every day. "So much," he whispers incoherently.

"Pain?" Louis asks, but doesn't really let Harry answer, as the next part of the rune is a long line and the golden trail his touch leaves makes Harry outright moan.

So he's not surprised when Harry mumbles, "Opposite. Please, Lou."

It must be the magic. Exposing Harry's body to it for the first time must be wreaking havoc on his nervous system. Tricking him into feeling pleasure, because he doesn't know how else to feel this. Louis twists his nipple again, to distract him from it, or maybe. Maybe just because Louis wants to. Likes eliciting these beautiful sounds out of this human, likes amazing him, likes touching him.

The next line is thicker, forces Louis to press down harder with the pads of his fingers, and Harry grunts loudly and then gets quiet. Out of the corner of his eye Louis can see that Harry's brought his other hand to his mouth and he's biting his knuckles. Louis frowns, doesn't like Harry interrupting himself. He grabs Harry's offending hand and pulls it out of his mouth, then waves another root over to pin it down as well. Harry's all spread out and losing it. "Fuck, fuck, Louis, can you stop?"

Louis blinks in surprise. "I can't, love, it'll break the charm," he says apologetically, but starts to release Harry's arms at least.

For some reason, Harry protests to that. "No, please, hands are good, just—god, are you almost done?"

Louis bites his lip. He's almost done with the shape, but then he'll need to go over it at least twice to imprint anything on Harry's human body. "I'll go faster," he promises instead, and his hand drifts up to Harry's hair, pushing it off his forehead and rubbing soothingly into his scalp.

Harry's not exactly soothed. He pushes into Louis' touch and then seems to force himself to settle back down. He starts chanting to himself, shit shit shit, then one two three. His fist digs into the grass next to Louis, burying itself in the dirt, and it takes all of Louis' willpower to focus on getting the stupid rune over with and definitely not chance a glance at Harry's lap.

The second imprint goes faster, as Louis promised, but the magic is starting to settle in the pattern. Which is good, that's the entire goal of this, but it's also completely undoing Harry. He gets louder as his voice gets lower, and despite both his arms being trapped, the rest of his body is practically thrashing next to Louis. "Almost done, you're doing so well, love," Louis says, his voice mostly drowned out by Harry's helpless moans.

Louis keeps petting him as he goes, so distracted that it takes him a moment to realise he's touching wet skin—his thumb is stroking Harry's lovely bottom lip. He feels it tremble with every line, every panicked LouisLouisLouis, wet and puffy and—Harry's tongue sweeps out to touch, drawing his finger right into his mouth.

In the space between the start and finish of the last line, Harry bites down on his thumb and releases the loudest sound yet.

Finally, finally Louis finishes the rune, and he stops touching Harry's arm altogether. Harry visibly sags with relief, his body melting into the moss. Louis wants to ask him if that's better, but then he gets stuck on watching the rune transform, glowing even brighter than before, twisting with Harry's shifting muscles before settling into a much simpler shape.

A five-pointed star, in clean black lines. Very pretty. Very Harry. He smiles broadly and finally looks back at Harry's face, only to find it beet red and guilt-ridden. "Haz?" he asks, slipping his finger out of Harry's hot mouth and stroking the side of his sweaty face. "It came out sick, I think."

Harry absolutely won't meet his eyes. "Please, my hands," he finally says, voice cracking.

Louis waves the roots away quickly, and Harry instantly sits up and draws his knees to his chest, winding his arms around himself. Louis summons some cool water from the stream to cover his hand and then he presses it to Harry's forehead again, hoping to help him through whatever just happened. Harry flinches away and clears his throat awkwardly. "Um, I think I should go."

Louis isn't hurt, that'll be absurd. He stops touching Harry. "Of course, right. And I know you'll get home safe for once," he adds.

"What?" Harry asks, still looking rattled.

Louis points to his own arm. "The rune, idiot."

Harry pushes his hair back and forces out a laugh. "Right, yeah. Thanks. Hey, what's that?" he asks suddenly, pointing behind Louis.

Louis looks over his shoulder, but there's nothing new in the clearing. He turns back, only to find Harry already standing. He wasn't fast enough, though.

There's a big stain right on his crotch. Oh.

Harry drapes his shirt over his arm to hide it, and literally runs away from him.

Oh, shit.

&

Harry thought he had a pretty good handle on things.

He hasn't gotten papped in over a month, even the most zealous of fans have given up on finding his location, the Fortress is starting to look hospitable, and Niall just learned how to make shrimp bisque. Even having a massive crush on a gorgeous mythical woodland creature was working out for him.

And then he nutted in front of said gorgeous mythical woodland creature.

And now his life is basically over.

He's a twenty-year-old millionaire award-winning national star, so sure, he fucks up at times, pisses on the occasional bush when he's too drunk, breaks up his own band and millions of hearts, runs away to the country. But. He was never supposed to be the idiot that jizzes his pants because a fairy did some magic on him.

His stomach twists just from the memory, part mortification and part arousal. And he still gets off to it, turns his arm to look at his magic tattoo and gets hard almost instantly because—it just felt so—much. Just a touch above the belt, nothing that should've turned him into a fifteen-year-old, but it still felt like his body was exploding.

But in a good way, like fireworks. Louis only finger-painted on his arm but it felt like what Harry imagines getting blown by him might feel. Not that he often thinks about blowjobs in relation to Louis, like, things are weird enough with them being best friends from different ecological systems. Weird is a good way to describe what it felt like when Louis pressed his whole slippery body against him, naked and wet and close and naked why is he naked all the fucking time?

Ugh. Harry buries his face in his pillow and wants to cry a little. His head hurts and his dick is hard and his heart is killing him. He can't believe his life is ending before he's even been nominated for a Grammy.

All because of tree bondage.

*

"H, you dick, where the fuck are you?" Niall yells as soon as Harry picks up the phone. He might have been screening him for too long. And ignoring him banging on the door and trying to lure him out with bisque two days ago.

"In the bedroom," he answers, defeated. It's been a week since his life ended.

"Still?" Niall asks, sounding more concerned than annoyed, because Niall's the best person. "Is this like when you were convinced you got pregnant?"

"No, it's…" The awful part is that Harry can't tell anyone about this, about Louis. While he thinks it's the coolest thing ever, some might find it a bit unlikely. He's already getting "Another direction? Harry Styles goes solo after band break-up according to EXCLUSIVE source", he doesn't really need to add "Harry Styles' public meltdown following weeks of seclusion: 'Fairies are real!'"

Also it might get him in trouble with Louis. Not that it matters, since he's never going to see Louis again. He sighs. "No. My life is over."

Niall snorts. "I doubt that, mate, you still haven't won a Grammy or given birth to a baby."

"You don't understand, you don't understand," he insists, wrapping his duvet tighter around himself. He's a ball of misery. "Something catastrophic happened and now my only choice is to move away again and change my name."

"Unless your new name is Count Dickhead, you're not allowed to go anywhere. It took me long enough to find the Fortress, there's really no place more isolated than this countryside."

Harry sniffles. Niall's truly the second best thing that happened to him since he went off the grid. Well, Niall’s one of the best things that ever happened to him, since he started off as the new guitarist working for them and ended up his best mate. Which makes him feel shitty for using a cover story, but considering what he's covering, he thinks it's okay morally. "You remember Lou? My mate from the gym who doesn't know I'm famous?"

There's silence for a moment. Harry blushes for no reason. "You know, Louis. Outdoor guy? Short, scruffy, long eyelashes? Lots of… tattoos? Long-ish hair and—"

"Right, right, your best friend," Niall cuts him off, almost definitely with air quotes.

"My other best friend," he corrects, biting his lip.

Niall huffs. "I'm not competing with your boyfriend, H."

Harry whines pathetically. Since the cover story is built on lies, it's no wonder Niall's come to the wrong conclusion. "He's not, I already told you."

"Harry, truly, it's okay."

Of course it's okay for Niall, who already knows everything about him except this whole mess. "It's not, he's never gonna be my boyfriend."

"D'you wanna tell me about the catastrophe?" Now he sounds more cheery than sympathetic, making Harry think for an idiotic minute that he should talk to Louis about this, but Niall's all he has. Until his untimely demise. Which has already happened.

"I just…" He can tell him, can't he? Niall could probably take it. Their relationship is wicked strong now, an accidental orgasm is nothing between them. He can either tell him or explode. In the bad way. "I humiliated myself in front of him and now I'll never be able to see him ever again."

"Don't tell me…" he pauses, making Harry's breath hitch. "You told him you can sing the whole Les Mis soundtrack?"

Now Harry's offended. "No, and it wouldn't have mattered because he likes it when I sing. Even without the band."

"So? Did you try to dance or skate or use a bicycle or walk in a straight line without falling?"

"I can—no, okay? We were just." Here goes. "He was touching me more than usual and I. Humiliated myself."

Niall's deathly silent. "You popped a boner during a workout?"

Firmly into the pillow he says, "Worse."

He can still hear Niall's cackling even after hanging up.

*

It's not intentional. He really, truly never meant to come back here. But ten minutes after leaving the house to go to the grocery, he finds himself on the now familiar path.

Maybe it's the tattoo.

Stupid, life-ruining tattoo.

Louis' there before Harry's ready to see him. Which is, anytime before never. He just appears, like he always does, offensively naked and majestic. It's not that Harry's forgotten how sexy Louis is, but it's been two weeks and he began suspecting he only imagined how sharp his cheekbones are or how blue his eyes are. Even the trees around him seem greener. The most shocking thing is that he looks happy to see Harry. (His face does, not his dick. Still as thick and magnificent as ever. Harry checked.)

Harry's used to making him smile and laugh, he knows on some level that Louis' fond of him—in a "look at the silly human" way—but he definitely doesn't deserve the full-blown crinkly eyes now. It should make him uneasy, but just seeing Louis makes him feel more at ease than he has in two weeks. He hates this stupid crush, it makes him too happy and settled. "Alright?" he starts, because someone has to say something.

"Yeah. How long's it been?" Louis asks.

Harry inhales sharply. Louis' voice is soft and high and all he can hear is almost done, you're doing so well, love. "Like two weeks."

"Oh! that's not much at all for you!" He smiles extra wide.

Harry tries not to frown. He's gathered that for Louis magic-time moves a bit faster, like timeskips on telly, but for him going from near daily visits to moping for two weeks is a bit of a big deal. Whatever, not Louis' fault. "I should, um. Apologise, probably."

"Hazza, it's really okay."

Nicknames. Okay. "It's really not, it's weird and embarrassing."

"You're weird and embarrassing, it was only to be expected."

Insults. Okay. Harry looks up at Louis again and crosses his arms. "Louis."

Louis just smirks. "Harry."

"Just accept my apology. Please." He's nothing but a nice, polite lad, Louis shouldn't torture him over an accident.

"What does it matter?" Louis asks, crossing his own beautiful arms over his beautiful chest.

"It matters, okay? I know I'm just a random human and you'd never want to get me off, so it was really uncool of me to go ahead and do it, and if I accept that you need to accept it too."

Louis gulps. "Well, I don't accept it."

Still reeling from his outburst, Harry just. Gives up. Whatever, if Louis wants to end their friendship now Harry's ready. He's been ready since his life ended. "Why?"

"Because you're acting dumb, but you're not actually stupid. You're cleverer than me."

"We already knew that," Harry says automatically.

Before he can apologise Louis adds, "And that's why you shouldn't just rule out the possibility that I'd want to get you off."

He drops to the ground like Louis completely turned his world upside down. It's horribly uncool but so is Harry. Louis just goes with him, sitting down cross-legged. Harry's so distracted by his dick that he ends up blurting, "What?"

"Not right now," Louis rushes to say, leaning back a little on his arms so his biceps are bulging. "But. As a possibility. It shouldn't just be dismissed."

Harry's heart rate picks up so fast it might actually be considered a heart attack. His face gets hotter and his fingers twitch. He must have heard wrong, he... there's no way. Despite what the past two weeks might have suggested, Harry's a pretty confident guy, laid-back and optimistic. But with Louis he's been so out of his depth from day one that he never even considered he had an actual chance.

And a chance at what, even? "Lou. You're a fairy."

"I'm well aware."

Harry's starting to consider the fact this might not be a joke. "Are you fucking with me?"

Louis leans forward to touch Harry's knee. "No, listen, I remembered how you did all your research on fairies so I started doing research on human men."

"Oh god." Harry resists the urge to touch Louis' hand, because Louis' ridiculous.

"Yeah, it was mostly horrifying, but you made me strong enough to push through."

"Me?"

"I just remembered how you—you're quite beautiful, you know that." Before Harry can process that, Louis continues. "Anyway, we're not all that different, physically. Dicks are dicks, prostates are prostates. Human nipples are more sensitive, which explains, you know. Oh," he adds and takes Harry's hands, making him even more jittery. "Human hands are less sensitive, since you don't have any magic concentrated there. And you don't have wings, and you can only come once at a time?"

Harry cannot handle this conversation. Louis' talking about this like it's happening, and Harry's stunned, confused and horny all at once. And Louis must know what he's doing, he always teases Harry, it's part of their thing. He knows he's got Harry twitching by talking about coming. He's so embarrassed it's hard to breathe. "What are you even saying?"

"I'm saying I don't accept your apology about what happened, because I think you're lovely."

Harry feels himself blush again. His hand is still in Louis' and he's not sure he's handling the compliment well, not sure it's supposed to feel like sunshine's hitting his heart directly. He looks up from under his lashes and smiles for the first time. "You went through a lot of trouble to make your point."

Louis smiles back at him. "I was afraid you weren't coming back, a few awkward conversations with friends  weren't much."

"I meant the tree bondage," he says, biting the inside of his cheek.

Louis bursts out laughing, and it's like every horrible cliché, like the sun peeking from behind the clouds. "You should see what I can do with vines."

Right, he's an awful person creature. Harry feels hot all over but this conversation has gone too far for him not to ask, "Do people do this? Crossing species like that?"

Louis shrugs. "You're the one who gushed about the human prince kissing a mermaid. It's not like you kissing a cat."

He remembers Louis having a human friend who named him. He remembers Louis being pretty much human other than his wings and oversensitive hands, apparently. So less like zoophilia, more like muggle-wizard relations. He can work with that. "Are we gonna kiss then?"

Louis' thumb sweeps over the back of Harry's hand. "D'you want to?"

Harry smirks. "I mean, you already saw me come, it's only fair that I kiss you."

"Oh, like it was my fault—"

Harry leans in. He doesn't brush their lips together yet, doesn't even close his eyes, just looks at Louis in challenge and breathes. He's not even as nervous as he should be. Louis' into him, said so in four different ways. And god knows he's into Louis, has been since he felt Louis' slippery body all over him, naked and wet and close. (Or maybe before that. Maybe since he wore Harry's flower crown proudly.)

Louis gets right to it, fits his soft, thin lips against Harry's and sucks a little. Harry's eyes squeeze shut, brain instantly blank. His jaw goes slack and Louis gets even closer, his tongue flicking over Harry's lips and slipping between them. Harry makes a noise that's probably embarrassing, but it doesn't matter because Louis' kissing him slow and hot, hand climbing up Harry's chest to his hair, tugging on his bun.

He feels tingly from his lips to his toes, kisses back excitedly. It's Louis, Louis' kissing his mouth like he owns it, Louis' teeth are gently sinking into Harry's bottom lip like he's been craving it. And he tastes—Harry knows it's stupid, that mouths taste like mouths, but he swears to god Louis tastes sweet and sharp, smells even better this close, like blooming flowers.

A part of Harry still doesn't believe it's real, is convinced it's a magical hallucination of some sort, but then he's touching Louis' shoulders, tracing his muscles and runes from memory. His skin is soft and inviting, and Harry digs his fingers in and wonders how he'll manage to stop touching him. Louis starts kissing him harder then, wet and breathtaking, hand tight in his hair and tongue driving him mad.

Harry can't think even after Louis pulls back—only makes a needy sound and chases after him, drawing his pouty lip between his own and biting. It's Louis that makes a sound then, high-strung and completely mindblowing. If Louis planned on detaching or talking or breathing, it seems that he abandons it for more kissing. Excellent.

His grip keeps tightening on Louis because it only seems to spur him on, makes his kiss dirtier, until Harry's body feels hotter for reasons other than embarrassment. They end up with Louis practically in his lap, both arms wrapped around Harry's neck. They just fit, their mouths fit and their bodies fit and their breaths fit. He's so overwhelmed by all the action he nearly misses Louis whispering, "You feel good."

Harry grunts just hearing his voice, slightly gruffer and lovely. "You taste like magic," he replies, making Louis laugh against his chin. Harry quickly swallows the sound by kissing him again. He doesn't even want to take it back—Louis does taste like magic. It's a mix of vanilla and joy. So ice cream, basically. He wonders if Louis ever tasted ice cream. Louis cuts his thoughts off by biting him again and humming. More ice cream kisses.

He hasn't breathed in probably ten hours, so it's totally justified to gasp when Louis kisses the corner of his mouth gently and then latches onto his neck. It's like his skin lights up wherever Louis touches it. Louis' mouth is on his body. Harry might never breathe again.

"See," Louis murmurs against his jaw. "Told you we're not all that different."

"Huh?" He doesn't bother trying to understand, couldn't think straight anyway, not with Louis' sharp teeth scraping against his throat. Or Louis shifting closer suddenly, grinding on Harry's hips and oh.

Harry realises three things at once: he's been scratching Louis' sides, Louis' as naked as always, and Louis' magnificent dick is hard. Hard. On him. Because of him. For him. Jesus Christ, Harry's body isn't warm, it's on fire. "Louis," he breathes. He was going for sexy but probably ended up on confused overexcited kitten.

"Yeah," Louis counters, sexier than anything in this world.

Harry's been pleasantly horny from the moment Louis started talking about theoretically wanting to fuck him, but now it's almost painful, like Louis being turned on just amplified his own desire. He knows Louis can feel how hard he is, he's right there, his arse is touching Harry. Fuck. His arse. Harry's hands clamp on Louis' hipbones, trying to channel self-control he really, really doesn't possess to prevent himself from touching Louis' arse. It'll be like sacrilege. "Louis," he says again, a touch more desperately.

Harry's hardly a virgin, but it's been awhile since he got laid, and he's never kissed a magical creature before. Most importantly, he's never kissed Louis before, with his beautiful eyes and smart mouth and bursts of kindness when he's not being too much of a shit. (It might be a bit more than a crush. That bit is definitely overwhelming.)

Harry tilts his head back to recapture Louis' pink lips. He's sure his are cherry red by now, so sensitive it makes his head swim when Louis clamps his teeth on them and kisses him hard. He thinks about Louis kissing him somewhere else, biting the soft skin of his thighs, but he's not sure he's ready for that. Both because he's afraid of embarrassing himself again, and because he's afraid of discovering other differences between them, like how Louis grows tentacles when he comes or something.

So they kiss until they can't breathe, and then venture to suck on each other's necks until Harry's twitching too much, and then he goes back to Louis' sweet mouth for more.

It's by far the most unlikely afternoon he's ever spent, including the one where he went to show his godbaby some flowers and stumbled upon a real life fairy.

*

They sort of don't stop kissing. For like, a week. Harry's determined to make up for their two weeks apart by going to the woods every day, and Louis greets him with a peck that turns into a kiss that turns into chasing each other until they find a comfortable spot to make out in for ten hours. It's always been exciting to go and visit Louis—a magical friend that lives in his backyard and shows him wonderful things while making him laugh—but nowadays there's an extra spring in his step when he tells Niall he's going to work out.

"Work out?" Louis asks, planting a kiss high on Harry's neck.

"Yeah," Harry hums, happy and calm and chatting with Louis. Who's in his lap again, holding his hand and kissing him. His life is just brilliant. "He's been checking in with me every day since I moved here. Started visiting too, after I told him where I actually moved. So I told him I'm letting out steam by going to the gym all the time."

"It's not very good to lie to your friend, is it?" Louis asks, tutting and biting his jaw playfully.

Harry sighs, completely unrelated to Louis taking the piss out of him. "Said the mythical creature of mischief. To the most well-behaved best friend ever."

Louis snorts, leaning back and letting go of Harry's hand to gesture around them. Pointing out Harry's tiny, insignificant bump in a very rich history of pleasing Niall. "Not that well-behaved, are you?"

There's something in the way he says it that makes Harry a little hot. "Guess I'm not," he mutters. In one move he grabs Louis' waist and hauls him closer, kissing him properly. Louis smiles against his lips and Harry can feel his wings flutter against his knuckles. It's one of his very favourite feelings.

It might be easy to cover up the fact he's going to a magic forest every day, but the rest is harder to hide from Niall.

"Look who's come back from the dead," Niall declares, running into the kitchen to give Harry a leaping hug.

Harry's breath is knocked out of him but he does manage to catch Niall, only stumbles a little into the fridge.

"I'm a zombie now," he cautions.

Niall only pokes his side and laughs. "I can see that, your skin is all splotchy." He's waggling his eyebrows exaggeratedly, and Harry realises he's referring to the hickies decorating his neck.

He just grins, happy and unashamed. "See? Once you're bitten you're toast." He gives Niall a moment to appreciate the genius of Harry saying that while making toast. "Wish there was someone with a brain around here to munch on."

He makes a show of looking all around Niall, but Niall just laughs. "Joke's on you mate. Werewolves have to bite each other, not zombies. Zombies have to eat each other, I think." The smirk on his face could rival Louis' when he says, "Did you get eaten, Harry?"

Harry sighs. As long as Louis gives him make-out sessions, Harry won't be too vocal about how much he misses having his arse played with by another person. That's what he keeps telling himself, anyway. "No, not lately. But, me and Louis made up," he says proudly, stretching his neck like it wasn't obvious enough. Just catching sight of the marks in his reflection on the fridge makes his stomach flip. Louis did that.

"That's awesome!" Niall whoops, slapping Harry's stomach.

Harry grins. "Yeah, it really is."

Niall sits on the table next to Harry's plate and steals a bit of toast. "You look loads happier. Congrats on the sex, mate."

Well. "We haven't exactly had sex. Yet."

"Really?" He raises his eyebrow like Harry finally said something interesting. "Are you sure?"

Harry scratches his neck distractedly. "Think I would've noticed."

Niall doesn't judge or even ask why. He just punches Harry's shoulder and says, "That's cute. You've got a reputation to not live up to."

Harry sighs, thoughts drifting from Louis' mouth for once. "Is it bad out there?"

Niall doesn't answer immediately, which is worrying enough, and then he hops off the table and goes to his discarded bag, picking up a copy of The Sun. Great. A little bit of Dan Wootton in the morning. Harry grabs the paper, while Niall grabs the remains of his toast. "There's jam in the—oh no."

Mystery girl claims to be stashing Harry Styles: "He just wanted to settle down"

Niall pats him. His hand is dirty but Harry will take any comfort offered. "D'you think it's the same mystery girl The Mirror has?"

Niall sighs. "I think it's ridiculous they call themselves journalists but they haven't figured out I'm your only mystery girl."

Harry snorts. "I can imagine the story you'd sell. Harry Styles snores and pisses with the door open."

"How many scented candles are too many scented candles?" Niall joins in, full commentator impression. "Harry Styles might have the answer."

"An insider look into Harry Styles' bedroom—why does the heartthrob collect homoerotic art pieces?"

"How to go to the gym every day and not get buffer: what is Harry Styles really up to after the 1D breakup?"

He sputters and smacks Niall's head with the paper, giving up on the game entirely. "I'm developing my core muscles," he justifies, not too sure where his core muscles are.

"Yeah, riding dick?"

"Oh god." He plants his face in the table. "Why are they still after me? Don't they get that I moved to the Fortress of Solitude for a reason?"

"You just created more mystery 'round it. But it's really not that bad."

Harry doesn't see how it's not that bad. The band broke up because Harry wasn't allowed to come out of the closet, yet now everyone's only more interested in his sex life. "What if we move to the country? But like, in Sweden?"

"No, H, that wasn't the point."

He knows what the point is. Niall's been very accepting so far, but even he's starting to hint that Harry should come out of hiding. He can't do that until he figures out his next move. He has control over his life for the first time ever, if he wants to spend it hanging out in a forest, he can.

"So how do I become a forest creature?" he asks Louis a few hours later.

"Hm?" Louis replies, not even stopping his fiddling with Harry's headband. It's expensive silk but Louis' playing with it like it's cotton. Though he'd probably like it more if it were 100% natural cotton. "Like Tarzan?"

Harry smiles hard, pleasantly surprised that Louis even remembered that conversation. "Yeah. What do I need to do?"

Louis thinks for a moment, wrapping the headscarf around his wrist and looking at Harry. "You'll have to live off the things that grow here."

"No problem, I love fruit," he waves it off. "What next?"

"Well, are you ready to go on forest adventures? Or are you scared?"

Harry huffs and gets on his hands and knees from his lazy sprawl on the ground. He crawls closer to Louis to show his ferocity. "I am fearless. And also, like, I've travelled quite a bit. I've been to Machu Picchu, have you ever heard of that?"

It takes Louis a moment to answer, probably because he's looking down Harry's shirt. He's smiling and leaning back on his elbows, legs spread like he's waiting for Harry to crawl a little closer. "Never been, probably too busy being a fantastical magic creature."

Harry pouts. "That's the secret to forest life then? Magic?"

Louis breaks immediately, stretching forward to stroke Harry's hair gently. It's nice. "Didn't say that, pet. There's another secret."

Harry cracks an eye open, then wonders when he even closed them. Must be a natural reaction to Louis scratching behind his ear. Maybe he is a pet, deep down. "What secret?"

Suddenly Louis gets on his knees too, so his face is much closer and his eyes are glinting. "The real secret is you have to be shirtless."

There it is. Since their relationship entered the vague status it's in now, and since Harry's awful at reading signals, he's never sure when they're talking shit and when they're flirting. He thinks they just crossed that line. "Really now?"

Louis nods, fingers already drifting to the hem of Harry's T-shirt. "Have you ever seen shirts in a forest?"

He tries to give it some thought. Tarzan, Mowgli, George of the Jungle, Louis. "Guess not. You should take off my top, then."

Louis rolls his eyes like Harry's being an awful diva about this, and knee-walks over so they're only a foot apart. "Up," he says, and Harry lifts his arms obediently. Louis tugs his shirt up and over his head, brushing his hands over Harry's arms on the way down to make him shiver.

There's this way that Louis looks at him, eyes sweeping over his whole body like he's curious, trying to figure Harry out. It should make Harry shrink, but really he just—wants to let Louis have it. Probably because he spends most of their time together ogling Louis. He doesn't want to be the only rude one.

He's so focused on Louis' eyes that he's surprised when Louis touches his arm. He's brushing over the tattoo he gave him, making him gulp. It doesn't feel like much usually, his human body must not be that easily charmed, but for Louis his skin gets slightly warmer, ticklish, odd. Like the magic is responding. "Still looks good," Louis says, probably complimenting himself, because he's a dick.

"Mm-hm," Harry agrees, then keeps humming as Louis trails his fingers up to his armpit and over to his collarbones. "Still hasn't turned into a dong."

Louis laughs. "I could give it to you."

Harry's eyes immediately snap down to Louis' crotch, barely covered by his leafy miniskirt. "Cock?"

Louis' smile turns that much dirtier and he leans in, so their chests are touching and his breath hits Harry's neck. It's infinitely worse when Louis grabs his arm and presses down on his tattoo, causing heat to spread from it. "Another rune."

Harry just hums, keyed up already. Louis smells as good as always and his hands are on him and his mouth is going to follow. It's been a week of snogging, getting hard and jumping in the stream to cool off, and Louis still hasn't grown tentacles, nor a sudden disgust toward the human race. Harry thinks it's time to kick this experiment up a notch.

He puts his hands on Louis' sides and scratches down, until he reaches his waist and starts unraveling the skirt. "Would rather cock, to be honest."

Louis' grip only gets tighter, and Harry can feel him smile. It makes his stubble scrape against Harry's skin harshly, beautifully. "Really now?" he asks, obviously teasing.

Harry wants to blow him away with a cheeky reply, but the compulsion to just blow him is fogging up his mind. It always gets like this when they're touching, like Louis' the only thing that matters in the world, like nothing will make Harry happier than getting more touch. His hands settle on Louis' bare hips and even while he talks, all he can think about is how lovely Louis feels. "Can I?"

Louis doesn't ask him to specify. He just leans in to finally kiss him. Harry practically purrs, licking into Louis' mouth slowly and rubbing his thumbs over his soft skin. Louis wriggles until their hips almost line up, and sucks on Harry's lower lip. So Harry moves his hand to finally cop a feel.

Whoa. So fairy dick doesn't feel different to human dick, but Louis' dick is definitely a fine specimen. Harry almost moans himself just wrapping his hand around him, thick and hot and ready. He strokes him tight, caught up in how Louis' getting harder, how he's starting to move into it. How Harry's touching him.

Louis' kissing him hungrily, like he's half as needy for it as Harry is, and it's all quite overwhelming. Harry starts playing with the head, ecstatic to find that his fingers are getting damp, and unconsciously moves his other hand from Louis' hip to his arse.

Naturally, he only gets one heavenly moment of feeling Louis up before everything goes to shit. Because Harry moving has encouraged Louis to move, to grind against him hard and sudden and so good that Harry just loses his balance completely and collapses to the side. He wasn't even standing, Harry has no idea why he's like this. Regardless of the humiliation, it genuinely hurts enough to kill his mood. (He's good with pain, really, just not scraping his elbow bloody on the ground.)

"Wha—" Louis starts, dazed and with his eyes darting everywhere like he's not sure where Harry went. His pupils are dilated and his cock is hard and Harry wants to ask for a Smoothness rune.

"Ow," he says weakly and miserably, holding his bruised elbow and pouting.

Louis just laughs, because he's a dick. "Did you just—how?"

Harry pouts harder. "Listen, I've got ridiculously comfortable furniture at home. Soft and big and comfy."

Louis doesn't bother stopping his laugh, leaning down to kiss Harry again without offering any elbow assistance. "Some forest man you are."

Whatever. He just wants Louis to pin him down on his 250 thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets, is that so wrong? Louis' probably never even felt anything like that cloud-like heaven. He just wants to show him the world.

On his back with his legs in the air.

For now he kisses him and keeps whining about his elbow until Louis gets heartbreakingly soft and draws the stream closer and defiles Harry's headscarf for bandaging purposes. It's ridiculous, but he kind of likes Louis taking care of him.

*

"I need you darling, c'mon set the tone, if you feel you're falling won't you let me know, oh oh—oh my god," Harry yells, nearly braining himself on a rock after tripping over a watermelon.

He's alerted to Louis' presence by the sound of loud laughter. He steps out from behind a tree and literally points and laughs at him. Harry blushes angrily and stands up, picking up his hat and the watermelon as if to lob it at Louis' head. Louis puts his hands up, but his eyes are still mischievous. "Hi love," he chirps.

Harry sets the watermelon down gently and then puts his hands on his hips. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"It's just a watermelon," Louis points out.

Harry frowns. "I've never seen watermelons here before."

Louis skips closer to him, picking up the fruit easily. "Well, I just figured we could pick up where we left off."

"Oh." Harry's eyes immediately dart all over Louis' body, taking in his strong biceps and light chest hair and tattoos. He had his dick in his hand a couple of days ago. It's so nice. He starts unbuttoning his shirt quickly. "Now you're talking."

Instead of ripping off Harry's shirt and getting hard, Louis laughs again. "I meant—come here," he says, actually crooking his finger and beckoning Harry.

Harry smiles and comes closer, resting his hands on the curve of Louis' lower back and reeling him in for a kiss. Louis' quiet for a rare moment, nipping at Harry's lip and then kissing him sweetly. He tastes like fresh fruit and happiness. Much like he smells. For a person who lives in a forest, Louis' extremely fragrant and well-groomed. "Haz," Louis breathes when Harry starts nuzzling down the graceful line of his throat, smelling and kissing him simultaneously.

"Mm?" he asks, lips tight on the crook of Louis' neck. He's hunching awkwardly but he likes it, likes how Louis' almost human-sized. Keeps thinking about picking Louis up and pinning him to trees.

"Still not what I meant," Louis insists, as if Harry remembers what he's talking about.

And then there's a watermelon shoved against his stomach, pushing him back and away from all that's good in the world. He could cry. Louis rolls his eyes, pretty lashes fluttering, and gives Harry a chaste kiss. "Don't pout. Come see."

Louis takes his hand and starts pulling him along, down the familiar path. Harry only has his good upbringing to thank for not staring at Louis' arse the whole way. Louis stopped doing the leaf skirt thing, and Harry stopped commenting on it. It's a beautiful day.

His horniness level flies back up to 100 when they reach their destination. It's the most fantastic fruits patch he's ever seen. There are more watermelons, but also pineapples and coconuts and passionfruit and kiwi and strawberries. Most of them are out of season but all of them look ripe and smell like a dream. It's completely unnatural and Harry just looks at Louis' smug smile and wants to spend the rest of his life with his dick in his mouth. "Lou. What the fuck?"

Louis plops down and grabs a few grapes, popping them in his mouth with a smile. "You said you love fruit. If you're really serious about living in the forest, figured I'd make your transition a bit easier." He says it all with his mouth full and juice trailing down his chin. He's gross and wonderful.

Harry sits down next to him and stares at the closest banana tree. They're so yellow his throat goes dry. "Are we gonna make a fruit salad?"

"Sure," Louis says, holding up a knife. A steel one.

That Harry recognises. "Is this…" he looks from it to Louis five times. "Is this from my house?"

"Mm-hm," Louis replies, completely shameless. "Nicked it."

Harry blinks. What Louis' insinuating is so—unspeakable that it's like his brain is slow to catch up. "You were at my house?"

"Yeah?" It sounds like he's not sure why Harry's even surprised.

Harry gulps. "You can leave the forest?"

"Of course, I'm not a nymph. Don't you remember my gadgets and gizmos?" He sticks the knife in a fallen apple and picks it up to sink his teeth in. More juice. Harry's whole body roars.

"Louis, why were you at my house and didn't tell me?"

Louis shrugs. He's starting to look just a tiny bit contrite, like he's gathering from Harry's reaction that he might have fucked up from a human perspective. "It wasn't about you? I needed a knife, and they don't grow on trees."

Harry huffs. He's not even upset about Louis breaking and entering; he's already invaded most of Harry's space, brain and body. Like, not physically yet, but in his soul Louis takes up a lot of real estate. No, what he's upset about is Louis being in the Fortress and not even thinking about how Harry might have wanted to see him or kiss him or show him his TV.

"Look," Louis adds, and then does some magic, because he knows Harry too well and uses it to distract him. He puts the watermelon between them and bangs on it with a flat palm. All the once, it's sliced in half and hollowed out so the rind becomes their salad bowl. The watermelon itself is then sliced into cubes to fill the rind.

"That's sick," Harry says, clapping. Making it problematic to go back and be angry at him. He hopes Louis got the point, anyway. He'll definitely press him about it soon enough. He steals a few watermelon pieces, moaning at how juicy it is, and then grabs the knife from Louis and starts working on some mangos.

He throws himself into it, inspecting the dozens of fruit Louis grew just for him. "What's your favourite?" he asks, trying to envision the dominant flavour in the most important salad he's ever made.

"Don't really care," Louis claims, banging the coconut open and pouring the juice into the oversized watermelon-y bowl. At Harry's insistent look, Louis says, "Whatever's sweet enough."

Harry should probably judge him for being rather childish, but he finds it adorable. He eats a sickly sweet strawberry and then gives Louis a kiss. Louis smiles as he licks into Harry's mouth, and... if Harry were less determined to eat every fruit here, he'd probably make it all sexy. Probably later. He pulls back and tosses Louis the pineapple for him to cut. Even though he's using his magic powers, his slices are still uneven and he gets everything messy. Louis is a mess.

He also gets bored after maybe five minutes. "I'm bored," is how he should express it, but instead he just starts chucking berries at Harry. Very slowly, Harry turns his head to Louis and narrows his eyes menacingly. Louis just smirks, pretending like there's nothing in his hands.

Harry picks a banana. They both look at it. And then he throws it squarely at Louis' chest.

It's exactly what Louis was gunning for. It takes two seconds for war to break out, Louis armed with pears he can apparently levitate and Harry armed with oranges and really shitty aim. They're soft enough that they don't hurt when Louis hits his shoulders, but he still gets sticky and vengeful. He growls like a wild cat and launches an attack so fierce he even manages to hit Louis a couple of times.

Louis yells and floats to his feet, grinning so hard his eyes are crinkling and Harry's heart squeezes. Sometimes they're together and Louis looks like maybe the highlight of his magical fantastical week, where he can do absolutely anything, is having a fruit fight with a clumsy human. And Harry knows that as a celebrity he is a lot of people's favourite person, but Louis doesn't—idolize him, isn't even aware of the celebrity bullshit. He just really likes him. Enough to bruise him with cherries.

It ends kind of how Harry suspected it would end: with him lying winded on his back and Louis crowing in victory straddling his lap. "The forest ruler wins again! Surrender!"

Harry makes a show of it, throwing his arms back and sighing. "Have mercy."

Louis does not have mercy. He smirks down at Harry and squashes a couple of strawberries between his hands. Harry only has a moment to cringe at the sound before the mangled fruit is rubbed onto his chest. It feels gross and wet and kind of hot, when Louis' tongue slips out in concentration. "Lou," he whines. "It's all sticky."

"Well excuse me," Louis huffs, and cups his hand over Harry's torso. Suddenly there's water rushing into it, clear in the air and filling up Louis' palm.

As shocking as witnessing magic always is, Harry's quick enough to whine again, "Not like that."

Louis quirks an eyebrow in question, still poised over him. Harry clenches his abs and lifts up until they're almost pressed together, close enough to kiss. He looks at Louis' slack mouth for a moment, and then ducks down to bite Louis' shoulder, slurping the piece of mango that's sticking to it. It's so sweet he would've licked Louis' skin clean even if he weren't going for making it all sexy. (But he is.)

When he draws back he doesn't get a second to inspect the damage he's caused because Louis' on him with the intensity of a hundred salads in the wind. He flattens him to the ground and starts biting down Harry's neck, sending his body into overdrive.

His skin feels sensitive under every broad swipe of Louis' tongue. When he reaches the fruit mash he scrapes Harry's chest with his sharp teeth, and Harry knows he's leaving red marks instead of the fruit and Harry's been vaguely turned on for an hour but now he's rock hard and wriggling.

Louis' on his nipple when he starts to unzip his jeans, and if his fingers felt good on it the first time, his mouth feels amazing. He's not shy either, biting it tenderly and then roughly, making Harry shiver. He feels hot and cold all at once, feels his cock twitch. Feels Louis drag his jeans and briefs down his hips but not farther, so his legs are stuck together. Louis' penchant for casual bondage is looking promising.

He starts moving again, sucking a bruise over Harry's ribs and Harry squirms, his fingers digging into the grass hard.

He knows that Louis has a trajectory, that he's shuffling down his body, but he doesn't dare to hope for anything until Louis' clever tongue laps over his V line and his wet lips clamp over his hipbone. He's so close to his cock Harry can feel his cheek brushing it, and his fucking toes are curling. "Lou," he breathes, his brain all scattered. It's like his whole being is focused on where Louis' touching his body—warm mouth near his belly button, tight grip on his hips.

"Yeah?" Louis murmurs into the crease of his thigh. Harry barely hears him, either because of his pulse hammering in his ears or because Louis' being purposefully teasing. He can still feel Louis' tongue everywhere from before, feels wet from it, even when Louis' just breathing on his cock.

"Please," he manages, exhaling sharply because he thinks he's going to explode. This is like the first time Louis kissed him—no, the moment before he did, when Harry could feel his breath but not his lips, when the anticipation pulsing in his chest was more real than Louis' taste. "Please."

"Let's see if you're sweet enough," Louis whispers, obviously nailing the punchline, and then his tongue is on Harry's cock, licking up the length of it like a treat.

Harry's legs kick out and he's pretty sure he'll never be able to breathe again. It's like Louis' savouring it somehow, like he's got all the time in the world, running his tongue on his cock over and over again, up and down. It's feather-light and frustrating as fuck, which is very fitting for Louis. Harry's hips keep jumping but Louis' grip on him is surprisingly strong, pushing his arse down into the hard ground. It should snap him out of it, but instead he feels like he's sinking deeper, like even if Louis kept teasing him it could be enough.

He doesn't, thank fuck. After the thousandth time of licking up from his balls to his cockhead, Louis finally wraps his lips around him and starts sinking down. After all the licking, he takes it easily. Or he makes it look easy, anyway. He looks like an absolute dream. Like, Harry had this dream before, thought once or twice about this beautiful creature mouthing at his cock.

He could have imagined how lovely Louis would look—his cheekbones sharper than ever and his lips so pink around his big cock and his eyelashes casting shadows when he closes his eyes in concentration. But he couldn't have imagined how it would feel. Which is perfect.

Louis sucks like he kisses, nice and slow until Harry can't handle it anymore, like teasing him is half the fun, and then taking what he wants. In this case he goes and goes and goes and—Harry can't even look at him anymore, can't bring himself to see his cock disappear in Louis' hot mouth this easy and fast, because he might die. For a moment he wonders if Louis will fuck him the same way, but that certainly doesn't help the not breathing situation.

Suddenly he pulls off completely, and Harry lets out a frustrated grunt he didn't mean. His cock slaps against his stomach, wet and achingly hard. The chilly air hits it, making the loss of Louis' perfect mouth even more profound, but Harry… likes it, the way he likes ice cubes. Gentle hurt. He must look right miserable, because Louis hums in sympathy.

Harry opens his eyes again, and is struck dumb by how beautiful Louis looks—panting just slightly over his cock, cheeks flushed, pretty hair mussed. He makes another involuntary, pathetic sound. Louis just smiles, happily, with the mouth that's going to be full of Harry's cock in two seconds Jesus Christ. Then he says in a deeper voice, "Right," and stuffs his mouth.

He's all business this round, sucking him down halfway and tugging him off from the base. He pushes up with his tongue so his mouth feels tight-perfect as he bobs his head up and down, so fast his hair is fluttering and his throat muscles are working and, "Fuck, fuck, Lou I'm—god, yeah, yeah—"

It's completely out of his hands when he comes. It's in Louis' hands, actually. Like, he popped him out of his mouth and started pumping him lightning fast. Harry's too close to mind, driven mad by the wet sound of it and the determination on Louis' face. He swears his vision blacks out when he shoots all over his own stomach, groaning blissfully.

His brain is barely restarting when Louis just. Starts licking his own come-stained fingers. Harry only just watched his own dick pushing into Louis' mouth, but apparently that didn't immune him to this show. Louis runs his tongue over his nimble fingers with a calculating look, and then eventually stops torturing him and says, "It's bitter."

Harry's first instinct is to apologise, then he realises that it's not his fault that's how human jizz tastes, then he decides he still wants to apologise if any of his human traits offended Louis' magic sensibilities somehow. By the time he figures out a response, though, he figures something else out: Louis wasn't complaining, he was making an observation.

That's based on the fact Louis still has his fingers in his mouth as he jerks off. His dick is as nice and hard as Harry remembered, even with Louis' hand flying over it. If he could look away from Louis touching himself between his legs, he'd notice Louis' biting hard on his fingers, his eyes boring into Harry's heaving, stained chest. He's not moving his hand as much as he's moving his hips, fucking into his fist quick and sure. Harry came his brains out two minutes ago but his whole body shivers with how much he wants Louis.

His decision is practically made for him. He clenches his abs and sits up, planting a kiss on Louis' puffy lips over his fingers. He moves to his neck then, just buries his face there and breathes in Louis' sweet smell and whispers, "Up."

Louis' going hard still, so his knuckles keep rubbing against Harry's stomach and probably getting come on his cock. Harry's come. The head of Louis' cock is gliding in it and Harry just grabs his pumping hips and collapses back. Louis' dragged forward, and his eyes open in confusion. Harry grunts, beyond desperate. He squeezes Louis' hips hard and tries to pull him closer. "Up, up, up."

Louis must be catching his drift, as he slowly climbs up Harry's legs while cupping himself, but he still pulls his fingers out of his mouth and asks, "What?"

He sounds huffy and breathy and Harry's hands are on his beautiful thighs and his heart is hammering. "Up, I wanna swallow, c'mon."

Louis wets his reddened lips and Harry catches the way his hand tightens on his dick. He moves a lot faster up Harry's body then, until he's straddling his chest and pumping his cock right against Harry's lips. Harry can't breathe, too scared to move in case Louis will.

It feels like he's chasing his orgasm, mouth gaping in anticipation. Louis makes a trembling sound and reaches down with his free hand to stroke Harry's cheek. It starts sweet, but then he just snaps Harry's jaw shut. Right. He's going to come on his face instead of in his mouth. That does absolutely nothing for Harry. Just like he's completely unaffected by Louis' firm smooth perfect arse on his chest, or the way he's moaning, or how his lips still look like he sucked Harry's cock.

Harry moves his head just slightly to nip at Louis' fingers, and then unexpectedly it happens. Louis smiles like an idiot and comes, hitting Harry's lips and chin and his own fingers, which Harry now remembers are oversensitive. It's perfect. Louis' mouth drops open like he can't get enough air and his hand keeps milking his cock and his eyes are closed and his head is tipped back so his cheekbones are out of this world and his wings are snapping open and shut so fast his hair is fluttering all sexy and his shoulders are shaking.

If Harry could spend the rest of his life under Louis in the height of passion he absolutely fucking would.

And that's been decided before he even opens his mouth and discovers that Louis' jizz tastes like maple syrup. He moans and opens his mouth wide, licking his own lips and stretching his tongue trying to get at whatever landed on his chin. It actually, really tastes sweet, what the fuck. Louis notices his efforts after a bit and smirks, stopping his hand to push his soft cock into Harry's mouth. Harry sucks it greedily, knowing that if Louis' too sensitive he'll just pull out. His mind is completely blown; he's always been passionate about come, hence why he wanted to swallow in the first place, but he never imagined magical delicious come.

He doesn't even know why he's surprised. It's Louis. Sexy as fuck, stroking Harry's sweaty face like he did anything but suck him off and then defile his face. God, he wants him to fuck his face. Louis looks like he's gonna mock him, so Harry beats him to it by pushing his tongue against his cockhead and sucking hard. He knows he could get Louis hard again, knows he'd love to feel it happen in his mouth, then his throat, but Louis spoils it by saying that's enough and pulling out.

Instead of rolling over and sidling up to him, he bats his wings to float off Harry's chest and lands by his side. Harry looks over and wonders what he should say, if he should compliment Louis or crack a joke or confess his love prematurely, but before he can decide Louis leans in to kiss him. He could melt into the grass—Louis being so into kissing is one of the best things about him.

He pulls back and just smiles at Harry, rubbing his thumb over the come on Harry's cheeks and then feeding it to him. This is bliss. And then Louis slaps him and says, "I need to wash."

Since Louis isn't the one with two loads on him, Harry doubts it's that urgent, but he lets him go and sits up himself. Noticing for the first time that their surrounding completely changed while they fooled around. The paling shrubs became astonishingly colourful flowerbeds, and their carefully constructed fruits patch exploded.

He turns wide eyes to Louis, who's either still flushed from coming or actively blushing at the mess his magic must have made. Because of Harry. How embarrassing. "We were too ambitious anyway?" Louis tries, avoiding Harry's eyes.

Harry laughs and rolls his jeans the rest of the way off, then gets up on his feet, careful not to step in watermelon debris. "Do you often make fruit explode or were these ones offensive?"

Louis doesn't bother answering, just flounces off in the direction of the pond. Harry watches him go, then stretches, curving his slightly sore back. While it's adventurous and new to fuck in the woods, Harry isn't sure how fast his body will adjust. It makes an alarming cracking noise when he bends down to pick up a bunch of grapes that survived.

He finds Louis already in the water, floating on his back with his arms spread and his cock out. Harry jumps right in inelegantly, making Louis sputter in surprise and flop around. The water's warm, a nice contrast to the air. Harry swims a lap, trying to get used to it and avoiding Louis' half playful half murderous attempts to dunk him.

He reaches the waterfall and stands up, letting the stream wash away the mess on his chest and face. It's loud, like white noise buzzing in his ears, soothing in a way. Between that and the orgasm, it's one of Harry's favourite afternoons since he ruined everything. The only thing that could make this better would be his coconut shampoo, or his vanilla bean body wash, or the lotion that smells like oranges. Or his fancy bath bombs. Fuck, those smell good.

When he thinks he's done he swims back to Louis, who's settled on a rock and scrubbing his legs. It takes a minute for Harry to be allowed to wash Louis' hair and feed him grapes, occasionally kissing his shoulder. It feels like a good time to bring up the burning issue. "So when you broke into my house, did you happen to catch a glimpse of my luxurious bathroom?"

Louis hums, rolling his neck. "No, I kept to the kitchen and the sex dungeon."

"Ah yes, the two places with knives," he says, nipping the crook of Louis' neck and making him shiver gently. "I wanna inform you, then, that my bathroom is very luxurious."

Louis tuts like he's still unimpressed. He's mildly appeased when Harry starts rubbing his shoulders, careful of the wings. "Does it have a waterfall?"

Harry frowns. "No, but there is a jacuzzi stream, and a rainfall shower head, and bath bombs. They like, dissolve and make nice smelling bubbles. Some of them make colours. Also speakers for my iPod, and a big tub. That might have been implied from the jacuzzi, but it really is a epically big—"

"Haz, not that I don't admire how serious you are about your bath habits, but why are you telling me all this?" Louis interrupts, opening his eyes to peer at him curiously.

"Well, I was just thinking… Since you can come out of the forest, why don't you?"

Louis shrugs. "Why would I?"

Harry bites his lip, wonders if just by asking he's insulting Louis' traditions or something. But he wants to play music for Louis and rub him down with strawberry kiwi oil and wrap him up in silk sheets and fuck him tenderly with a vibrator. None of which can happen in a forest. "For me?" he tries.

Louis reaches back to pat Harry's head. "Sounds boring, love."

Definitely not Ariel then. How can he be so fascinated by Harry but not want to be part of his world? He'd more likely trick Harry to move into the forest for real—oh. "Come on Lou, look at it as a sick prank." Louis doesn't dismiss him automatically, so Harry quickly adds, "Maybe it's a bad idea, though, since you couldn't pass for a human even if you tried."

Louis gives him a dirty look. Harry knows he just won.

Chapter Text

It's not as much of a logistical hardship as Harry thought it would be. Instead of coming to their usual spot deep in the forest, Louis meets him closer to the outskirts. He nearly turns right back around when he sees what Harry's got in his hands.

"No way."

Harry can't help but smirk a little. "Come on. You know you have to."

"Do I?" he accuses. "Do I really, Harold? Of all the things I have to do?"

"I promise, it's not that bad," he tries, taking a step closer and letting his lower lip jut out a little.

Once Louis seems to be sufficiently distracted by his mouth, Harry drops the pile in Louis' hands. Louis looks positively disgusted. "It's just so strange."

Harry rolls his eyes. "It's not that strange. I mean, I wear them all the time."

"But anything looks good on you," Louis says offhandedly, making Harry smile again. "And if it were up to me, you really wouldn't be."

"It's just clothes, love. And you can take them off as soon as we reach the house. Which is fifteen minutes away."

Louis turns up his nose, considering his options. Harry's gearing up to kiss Louis into compliance, but he makes it easier. "No shoes. No hat. Definitely no underwear."

Harry takes that as a yes, and kisses Louis giddily. Before pulling away, he whispers in his ear, "I didn't bring underwear anyway." He picks up the hat from the top of the pile and plants it on his own head.

Watching Louis put on clothes is a very disturbing experience. Seeing him in Harry's clothes, however, makes things infinitely better. It's just his white shirt and black jeans, but on Louis they're—wow. The shirt sits on him differently, shows more of his collarbones, and the pants are tight on his thighs and bum. Harry sees him naked all the time; ill-fitting clothes aren't supposed to make this much of an impression, but they're his clothes and they're on his fairy person and that makes Harry feel all sorts of things.

Louis doesn't seem to share those particular feelings. He's mostly scoffing and whining, "It's so tight on me, fuck's sake Hazza, why would you ever put your legs in these prisons, and couldn't you have made holes for my wings or something?"

Harry reacts by grabbing Louis' hand and sprinting down the path. He learned long ago that the only way to get Louis to stop ranting is to make him do things, like run or chase or play. Kind of like a puppy. It works—Louis lets go of his hand and races past him, yelling about his debilitating pants.

There's a moment, when they reach the very end of the forest, that Harry's breath catches because he's sure there's a magical force field that will keep Louis within the woods or something. He's wrong. Louis runs right along, no zapping or bouncing back. Not like any force field could stop him anyway. He's Louis.

They make it to the Fortress in ten minutes, and don't run into anyone on the way. Harry still half expects Louis to disappear at any moment, because this—this means something. It's not just the boundary between the grass and the pavement they're crossing. It's much more. It's an opportunity for more.

Louis' out of his clothes in under a minute, and then, like he's taking vengeance on all clothes, he starts undressing Harry. He's still not breathing quite right from running and seeing Louis in his shirt and having Louis in his house. It certainly doesn't help when Louis pinches his nipple and says, "That was awful."

So he hugs him tight, oddly emotional, he's here he's real he's in my world. Louis huffs, but it doesn't take long before he nuzzles Harry's collarbone and relaxes. Harry can feel his wings fluttering over his arms, and his hair is so soft against his cheek. He's really here.

"Could've cuddled me out there," Louis points out, but Harry knows he's just being difficult. He can feel his smile.

"True. What do you wanna do first?" He's still whispering, still cautious. He knows this is a delicate moment.

There's a hint of teeth on his shoulder when Louis says, "I think you mentioned a bath once or fifty times."

Harry beams. "Of course."

He doesn't really want to take his hands off Louis, lest he'd fly back to the forest, so he just bends a little to pick Louis up. Louis sounds very content when he wraps his legs around Harry's hips. For someone who can fly, Louis likes to be carried around way too much. Harry's all too willing to indulge him. (Louis' wings flapping excitedly help him carry the weight, so they're basically built for this.)

"Whoa," Louis says when they reach the master bathroom and Harry turns on the light.

"As advertised," he says, gesturing to the huge bathtub and smiling proudly. Considering he only moved here a few months ago, he's done a bang-up job making it feel like home.

Louis zips around the room, looking around curiously or suspiciously. He picks up a shampoo bottle and sniffs it. Harry tries not to be endeared. "I feel like there's a system here," Louis says finally.

Harry chuckles. "True. It's a very complicated process, bath-taking."

"Don't mock me, you know all these unnecessary things—" he gestures at the whole room "—are completely ridiculous to me. Like you are."

"Of course." He bites his lip. More gently, he says, "The first step was getting naked, so you're already on the right track."

"Damn right," Louis mumbles, vindicated.

"You're gonna fill up the bath now, and put towels around it in case we splash." He doesn't point out what activity might cause splashing. "I'm gonna light up some candles to make this proper romantic, and put on sexy music. Then we'll take a quick sexy shower, and then we'll go right in the bath and you will know the true joy of being human."

Louis' smile is dangerously wide. "You seem pretty confident we're gonna have sex in the bath."

Harry gasps dramatically and doubles over. "Me? Why would I suggest to defile my one peaceful place?"

Louis shoves his shoulder while walking over to the faucets of the bath. "You're plenty peaceful. I bet the candles have a smell."

Harry doesn't confirm nor deny. By the time he dims the light and finds all the Sweet Strawberry scented candles, Louis' already figured out how to get the water running. He's smiling at something in the tub, though, and Harry quirks an eyebrow. "What's up?"

Louis' smile turns to him—which will always be a bit stunning—and then he lifts his hand and a trail of water follows it in midair. "Magic still works," he says.

That's important. Harry knows it is, but he has to hide his relief. It shouldn't mean anything. With his heart in his throat, he says, "Wanna see my magic?"

Louis tilts his head in challenge, so Harry puts his iPod in the speaker dock and plays his bath mix. Louis' reaction is absolutely brilliant: his eyes widen and his mouth drops open a little in genuine wonder. Harry thinks it might be the first time he's heard music that isn't live. And heavy on guitar, at that. "Do you like it?" It bears more meaning than he means it to.

It's like Louis' drifting closer to him, to the speakers, and he's humming along. "Yeah, it's cool."

More relief. For a moment Harry thinks about playing him his music, but dismisses it quickly. He likes that Louis' only heard him sing random songs in the woods. It's not that he's not proud of the band or all their accomplishments and success, but two albums ago he started feeling detached from the actual music they were putting out there. It became more obvious that they were making it for their "target audience", and not for themselves. Performing started becoming bittersweet.

He doesn't want to think about it now. Louis' naked and close and charmed by technology and music. He has to tug him along into the glass shower, but Louis doesn't stop humming. Harry turns on the water and then stares a little when it hits Louis, flattening his hair and making him close his eyes and turn his face up. His magic definitely still works on Harry.

He turns around then, so Harry's facing his profile, and he just... looks too good for Harry not to touch. He steps in under the water and runs both hands over Louis' wet skin, his chest and bicep. "Careful," Louis mutters.

Harry's not sure why, since the water isn't too hot, but then he touches Louis' wing and gets stung unexpectedly. "What the fuck?" he curses, pulling his hand back and inspecting his still hurting fingers.

Louis takes his hand and kisses it comfortingly. The burn goes away immediately, but probably not thanks to any spell. Just Louis looking up at him with his blue eyes and wet lashes and his mouth on him. "Shouldn't touch the wings."

"Why?" he pouts. "I touch them all the time. They're soft."

"You never actually touch them, you know."

You know. Like Harry has plenty of friends with wings. He didn't even know people like that existed until three months ago. Louis elaborates quickly. "My wings are like… they're like balls."

Harry blinks. Then bursts out laughing. "What?"

"They're the most sensitive—or vulnerable part of my body. So there's like, a protective layer of magic on them when anything touches them, including you."

Harry nods, as if he understands, but really he's stuck processing the fact Louis has a weakness, and he just revealed it to his human friend. "But it doesn't hurt usually."

"Water makes the magic more… aggressive, I guess? So it attacked you."

Attacked. Harry crosses his arms and makes the most indignant face he can muster while standing in a shower with Louis. "I thought your magic loved me."

It was just a joke, but Louis seems taken aback. "How did you—you can feel it?"

"Oh my god. Does it really love me?" What does that even mean?

Louis' shock fades immediately. "Forget about it, you dick."

Before Harry can ask the million questions he has, Louis draws him closer and kisses him. Annoying. Sweet. Nice. Hot. Hotter. Harry's eyes open in alarm and he jumps back, turning the handle to lower the temperature of the water, which has gone from lukewarm to boiling. Louis looks put out that the kissing has been interrupted—yes, the kissing that he initiated to interrupt a conversation—so Harry checks that it's safe and then presses up against him again.

Louis' hands naturally go to his arse, and Harry licks into his mouth and sighs. Until the water starts to get hotter again, despite the fact neither of them are touching the handle. It only hits him when Louis starts to grin—it's him. Doing magic things to his shower. Harry smacks his thigh and pushes him away, offended that Louis' turning his own house against him. Didn't they just have a discussion about loving magic?

"This process is taking too long," is apparently what Louis has been trying to demonstrate.

Harry rolls his eyes and steps out of the shower. Not wanting the cold air to hit him, he goes directly to the hot water filling the bath to the brim and gets in slowly. Louis' a lot less cautious, practically jumping in and splashing half the bathwater out.

"It's nice," Louis declares, sinking so that his legs are stretched out all the way and the water reaches his chin. His eyes close and he smiles to himself. He looks completely snuggly and dazed and Harry just wants to touch his skin again and maybe drown.

There's one last thing on Harry's agenda. "Do you want me to introduce you to bath bombs? The fizzy things?"

Louis shakes his head. "Don't think the chemicals would mix well with my magic."

Oh. That sounds important. Harry should rethink his menu for later. "Alright."

The bath is obnoxiously big but not that big. When Harry finally sinks in to soak his torso, their legs get tangled up. The ideal here would be to have Louis lean on his chest, to feel him all wet and close and give him a slow handjob and kiss his neck, but Harry remembers the aggressive wings and wouldn't necessarily sacrifice his life for this bath. They could do it the other way around, but as much as he likes the thought of Louis holding him, he doesn't want to stop looking at him. Seeing Louis enjoy himself is crucial to Harry's quality of life.

So they just stay like that, facing each other. Louis' eyes are closed and he's listening to the music, chill for once. Harry knows he'll get restless before long, it's in his nature, but for now he's calm and beautiful to sit there and admire. He almost gets lost in it when suddenly Louis throws his legs up, so his feet land on Harry's shoulders.

The sad thing is that Louis doesn't even have to ask for it before Harry takes one foot, kisses his ankle bone, and starts giving him a massage. The sadder thing is that he doesn't even expect a thank you, just feels thrilled when Louis whips out the heart-stopping smile for him.

So it's not his fault that he doesn't notice Louis going for the slow handjob all by himself.

And then Niall barges into the bathroom.

Thankfully Louis' got better reflexes than him, and the bathroom fills with steam before the door is even fully open. The only reason Harry knows the intruder is Niall and not a psycho killer is the loud shout of "What the fucking fuck?"

Harry coughs and rubs his eyes, catching a glimpse of Louis sliding down so his wings are fully hidden. The mood is officially ruined. He can't believe Niall would do this to him. "Ni, how could you do this to me?"

Instead of leaving in a fright or apologising, Niall just says, "I didn't know someone else was here, did I?"

"So it's a habit of yours to burst into Harry's bathroom?" Louis chips in. Harry blinks in surprise, kind of expecting Louis to just disappear somewhere.

The steam is starting to clear up a bit, so Harry can see Niall's face. It seems like he's a little embarrassed, eyes darting from Harry to Louis. "Well. Usually, he doesn't have company."

It's not shocking, that Niall could hear Louis and acknowledge his existence. He knew other people could see him—or, well, he knew toddlers could see him—but it's still a bit unbelievable. Louis' taking this development in stride, sounding smug when he says, "I'm special, then?"

Niall actually gasps. "Fuck me, you're Louis, aren't you?"

Harry would very much like to drown in the bath now. Louis' foot pokes into his stomach while he says, "That's right. Harry's told you about me?"

"Mate, you've got—"

"Niall," Harry interrupts in a panic. "Was there something you wanted?"

He couldn't be more obvious, but Niall just goes right into the bathroom, actually heading for the tub. He's been in and out of tours with Harry for years now, there's no personal space between them, but Harry's very quick to cover up Louis' bits with his hands before Niall gets a good look. Then he considers the fact Niall might get a good look at everything—like the wings or the tattoos or how beautiful Louis is—and realise that he's definitely not human.

Niall just. Gives a confused Louis a fist-bump. "Yeah, to do this," he finally answers.

Harry lets out a sigh of relief. "Could you give us some privacy now?"

Niall smiles good-naturedly, even though Harry knows he'll be getting shit for being rude later. "Of course. I'm gonna make arrangements, you two enjoy yourselves."

He's got a feeling Niall doesn't mean dinner. More troubling, he's got a feeling Niall isn't just going to piss off from his house. "Arrangements?"

"For the party," he says, like it's something they've discussed. Harry's not really prepared to host a bath party.

Louis looks just as troubled. "What's that now?"

Niall's already got his phone out and he's texting furiously. "You're not Harry's imaginary friend. The Fortress of Solitude has been compromised. Harry's taking a shower. Those all sound like reasons to party."

The only thing that's been compromised is his chances of fucking Louis in the near future. "You wanna invite people here?"

Niall nods, not pausing his fingers for a moment. Harry yelps when the water gets hotter all at once. He turns to look at Louis and finds his eyes wide and his lip snatched between his teeth. Of course he's worried. Harry had only just convinced him to spend a few hours in his human house, he didn't sign up to be surrounded by more random humans. Harry takes his foot again and strokes it soothingly. "Niall, we can't."

It takes a moment for Niall to go from determined to mortally wounded. "Why? You already let one person inside, what's five more going to do? You have friends other than me, you know. People who are dying to see you. You made Zayn sad."

Harry gulps. He had good reasons to go into hiding, he's sure of that much. Two weeks after the break-up, he couldn't take one more conspiracy theory about the band, one more pap trying to get a rise out of him, one more headline about him going solo or breaking Nadine fucking Leopold's heart (borrow a coat from one Victoria's Secret model and everyone goes crazy, honestly. How does Taylor Swift do it?). He couldn't take all that when he genuinely felt guilty about the band breaking up.

But it was also a relief when Niall tracked down his house in the middle of nowhere. Harry's a friendly guy, hardly a tortured recluse. Louis just—got him, never made him feel lonely. Because they've been alone together, and it was so nice it felt like enough sometimes, when Louis listened to him or smiled at him or kissed him. Those moments when he could see he was making Louis happy, they were worth anything he wasn't doing.

However, just because he had a whole other adventure going in his life post-band, didn't mean he was allowed to make Zayn sad. He misses Zayn, misses people out of the woods. And if Louis stays, for some reason, then Harry will still have his magical safety net. Also, if Louis stays for some reason, and wears a hoodie that will keep his wings under wraps, Harry might get to show Louis off. That gets him excited.

Why would Louis want to stay, though? There has to be a reason he hasn't visited the human world for long periods of time before, has to be a reason he doesn't currently have any other human friends. Must be a reason fairies—"Cool," Louis says, interrupting his thoughts.

Harry turns to him so sharply the water laps at his chest. He can't question him; Niall cheers so enthusiastically Harry worries he might just jump in their bath. He doesn't, thankfully, instead bouncing to the door. "Only people we trust!" Harry stresses finally, the only thing he can pick out of his tangled thoughts. "The Fortress hasn't been compromised yet!"

"Yeah, yeah, love you," Niall mumbles, already out of the bathroom. He left the door open. He is not inviting only five people.

Harry straightens up immediately and drags himself closer to Louis, so he can look in his eyes and hold his hips rather than his ankles. "Cool? Really?"

"Of course not, what the fuck?" Louis seems tense and slightly worried, but Harry would recognise that mischievous glint in his eye anywhere.

He's starting to feel hopeful. "Why'd you say yes then, idiot?"

Louis shrugs. Harry's so sure he'll get some snarky reply that he's blown away by what Louis actually says. "I don't want you missing out. Just because you're my human doesn't mean you can't have humans of your own."

He's so pleased by being Louis' anything that he pinches Louis' nipple hard, making him squeak and push more water out of the tub. "It's not like it's your fault I've been missing out on anything." He hesitates, then adds, "There's a reason I'm out here."

Louis slaps his shoulder loudly. Harry barely even feels it. He's Louis' human. He's probably blushing up to his ears. "Well, now you're back in here, and you have friends who missed you."

"You don't have to be, though," he reasons, quietly, looking away.

"I know." He gets a kiss on his cheek. It aches a little from smiling. Louis' human is an idiot. Louis brushes their noses together. "But we wanted to see if I could pass for human, right?"

He doesn't say it like it was a dumb challenge Harry roped him into for the sole purpose of getting him in this tub.

Because it really wasn't.

*

"Why boots, though?"

Harry rolls his eyes. "They're glittery. How can anything glittery be bad?"

Louis' still staring at his choice of footwear. "You're inside your own house, I'm just trying to understand why bother with footwear."

"No, you're just judging me. I'm not forcing you to wear boots, am I?"

Louis shakes his head, chuckling. Probably at the thought of Harry forcing him to do anything. "The jeans were enough, thank you."

The jeans were more than enough. They were a stroke of genius. Harry wants to eat his thighs up. Not to mention his arse, Jesus Christ. He's working those tight jeans and huge hoodie. After Harry made a harness out of some rope, he didn't even look like a hunchback.

Louis must have been in a similar process of checking him out, since suddenly he says, "Are you gonna do a bun?"

He automatically brushes his hair off his face. It's still damp; he'd planned on leaving it loose until it dries, but Louis looks suspiciously eager. "You like the bun?"

He looks at him like it's obvious. "That's the real magic, that."

Harry barks a laugh. Whatever. He goes from the walk-in closet to the bedroom—the nice, big bedroom with the nice, big bed Harry can't throw Louis on because they're having guests in ten minutes—and stands in front of the full-length mirror, picking a hair tie and putting it in his mouth while he pulls his hair back. He can see in the reflection how Louis drifts closer to him, watching his fingers twist up the bun. It's kind of cute. He wonders how Louis cuts and styles his hair in the wild. Probably breaking into people's houses. "Approve?"

Louis makes a show of inspecting the complete bun from all angles before scratching his chin and nodding very seriously. "Very good job."

He knows Louis' 75 percent mocking him, but Harry feels 100 percent pleased. Particularly when he sees Louis' narrow shoulders in his big hoodie. "C'mere," he says, tone dropping in a way he knows Louis will respond to even if he's still in the process of being enthralled by buns.

Louis comes closer with a smirk, until Harry can grab his hips and drag him so they're both in front of the mirror. He stands behind Louis, still holding him and hooking his head over his chin. "Oh," is what comes out of his mouth at the sight.

Louis raises an eyebrow. "What's the big surprise?"

It's everything. It's how Harry's never hugged Louis this tight from behind because the wings always got in the way, it's how Louis looks even smaller when he's swimming in Harry's clothes, it's how Louis feels so soft and clean against his cheek, it's how Louis smells like Harry's soap. It's how he fits in his arms, how easily Harry curves around him, how nice they both look together.

He's getting a bit breathless. "Nothing, I just wasn't sure you had a reflection. Like a vampire doesn't." He demonstrates by turning his head and mimicking biting Louis' neck. Then actually bites Louis' neck. He feels him laughing, up until the moment Harry starts sucking on his skin, really dedicating himself to leaving a mark. If he is Louis' human, Louis is Harry's fairy.

"Haz," Louis whispers, voice surprisingly and delightfully high. "Don't start something you're not gonna finish."

Wow. Louis' the voice of reason. This day really is strange. He lets off eventually, ending the lovebite with a gentle kiss, and then kissing Louis' ear for good measure. "Sorry, love."

"It's fine," Louis permits. "You're pretty."

Harry makes a noise and hides his face in Louis' hair. "You're cute."

"Nah. More handsome and rugged, I think."

An idea occurs to him. "D'you wanna shave that scruff maybe? I bet there aren't electric shavers in the forest."

"Like there are any here? Why would you need one?"

Instead of giving him a pinch or a slap, Harry wraps his arms around Louis' chest and hugs him so tight he wheezes. It's warm and nice and pretty. "See if I ever offer you something."

"I'm sure you will," Louis says, correctly, and reaches back so his hands are clasped behind Harry's waist. They're so cute Harry could gag.

*

There are already quite a few people downstairs when Harry and Louis come out, but Zayn is the first one he sees. He feels choked up, unexpectedly. It really has been a very, very long time. Harry wasn't born to live in the jungle. He loves people, and he loves Zayn, both as Niall's other half and as the coolest guy in the industry. He basically runs to hug him, and Zayn greets him just as enthusiastically, grunting "H!" when they collide.

A bit inappropriately, the first thing Harry thinks is that Zayn is about Louis' height. And then he doesn't think anything at all because Zayn's smile is completely dazzling and he's forgotten one shouldn't look at it directly. "Alright?" he asks, because apparently being in contact with only one human for a couple of months erased any knowledge he had on social interaction.

"Yeah man, fucking missed you is all. No beard, though," he tuts, touching Harry's chin.

Harry frowns, drawing away. "What?"

Zayn's smirking like an idiot. "When Niall said you'd gone mental in the woods, I figured you'd at least grow a beard." He goes right back to touching his face. "But instead you live in a posh house and you're clean-shaven."

Harry can't believe his facial hair has been insulted twice by two separate people. "I'll have you know I have gone wild! Look here," he huffs, unbuttoning his shirt and opening it dramatically. It was probably unnecessary, seeing as the shirt is sheer anyway, but he's making a point. "This is a tattoo."

Zayn looks appropriately shocked. He even bends down and touches the birdcage, like he's glued to it. It's another rune from Louis, actually, meant to help Contain his thoughts when he's trying to focus, like when he does yoga. "That's… what?" he looks back up to Harry, so confused it's a bit insulting. "How did you get that?"

Harry panics for a moment, hasn't actually thought of a story other than my fairy future boyfriend gave it to me with just a touch while jerking me off. That might raise at least two more questions. "Just wanted to, yeah? No spotless public image to worry about anymore."

"I see the party started!" Niall yells out of nowhere, appearing next to Zayn with a beer in each hand. "H is shirtless! Wait, no, H is always shirtless."

Harry considers buttoning back up indignantly, but then just shrugs so even more of his torso is revealed and Zayn can see the A and 17Black on his shoulder. "I'm showing Zayn what a badass I am with my many new tattoos."

"Ah yes, Louis' made a proper bad boy out of him," Niall says, dragging Louis into their circle without spilling a drop of beer like the sweetheart he is.

There's this tense moment when Louis and Zayn stare each other down—well, Harry thinks it's tense, because he still can't believe other people are interacting with Louis. And also because God's two titans of handsomeness are colliding for the first time and the world is about to implode. "Louis," Zayn starts, taking his beer from Niall and toasting the air. "What's up?"

Harry looks back at Louis, slightly nervous. This is all new territory, and Louis' volatile even when he's not in a room full of drunk humans. But Louis just starts smiling and gives Zayn a heart-stopper. "Good. Zayn?"

"Yeah," he replies. "Good to meet the boyfriend."

If Harry were drinking, he'd do an epic spit-take right now. Which is probably a sign he should be drunk. He grabs Niall's second cup and gulps from it, immediately regretting it because it's too strong for him. Niall curses him out and snatches the cup right back.

During all of this, Louis hasn't said one word, because Louis is an arsehole. Harry's forced to start. "He's—I mean." It's not like Harry knows. Well, that's not completely true, he knows in his head that he and Louis are going to live together and have magical babies, but he hasn't had the chance to make sure they're quite on the same page. Not that he's even out to most of these people. "How did you—?"

"The tattoos, they're—matching," Zayn says, nodding to Louis' arm, exposed where he folded up his sleeves.

Right. Bird, bird cage. Harry never noticed that, and definitely didn't feel giddy when it happened. "Well, we're not—"

"Zayn, let's go get our own drinks," Louis cuts him off. He just takes Zayn's cup and puts it in Harry's hand, and then grabs Zayn and leads him in the opposite direction of the kitchen. Harry's too shocked by this development to point that out to him. He doesn't even know what alcohol might do to Louis. He can't believe Louis just took one of his favourite people away.

It's an opportunity to look around for the first time, anyway. He was quite proud of keeping his Fortress tidy and homey, like something out of a magazine, but for this occasion he and Niall decorated festively, got dozens of plastic cups and strung up fairy lights. Even Louis pretended to help (and ignored Harry's many quips about fairy lights). The masterpiece was the sound system: Niall hooked up the TV's surround system to his iPod, and they spent whatever time they had left on making the playlist. Louis didn't even pretend to help. Harry wasn't mad, he knew when Zayn got there he'd make it all better. Zayn. What could he and Louis be up to?

A couple of hours later, Harry hasn't got a care in the world. He's drunk and giggly, surrounded by people he hasn't seen in ages. He beat Sandy at arm-wrestling, got Ed's approval on his tattoos and Caroline's approval on his boots. He thought it would be weird to reconnect, thought it would only remind him of why he left the spotlight in the first place, but he finds that talking to Zayn about music doesn't hurt at all.

Firstly because no interaction with Zayn can be painful, but mostly because Zayn knows more about music than anyone, and he's just so passionate about it, the way he is about art and literature, that it's impossible not to get excited in turn. Music is exciting, it always has been to Harry. Always moved him, always came out of him. He wanted to be a singer ever since he could remember, even when he was a baker. "Did you know I was a baker?"

Niall rolls his eyes. "Yeah mate, I've known you for more than an hour."

He thinks Niall has a mocking tone, but Harry chooses to ignore it. "It's like music, you know?"

"I get it."

He's doubtful, but he appreciates it. "I mean, it's so much for me. Like baking."

"Why'd you stop, then?" Niall asks, swinging his leg over Harry's lap so they're snuggled better.

Harry can't remember the whole story in this particular second, but surely Niall remembers. "It just got to be too much with the band, I reckon. The scrutiny and the games and the press and all that shit. The music we made wasn't worth all the bad stuff. Not when I couldn't be... you know."

"True to yourself," Niall supplies, looking sympathetic.

Of course he remembered. "Exactly."

"Look, it broke my heart and all, but I get why you left the band and let it break up. What I'm asking is why you stopped making music."

Harry snorts. "Nialler, speculating if I'm going solo? I thought you were better than that."

Niall nudges him painfully, so he sinks deeper into the couch. "I'm just curious, you dick."

Harry's eyes hunt the room for Louis. Surprisingly, Louis hasn't been acting weirder than usual. He didn't even cling to Harry or express feeling awkward or distressed. Harry's never seen Louis in a group, and he's sorry for it because it's a thing of beauty. It's like he feeds off of people giving him attention, flitting from person to person and entertaining them all.

Louis' loud and funny and sharp and beautiful; Harry knows everyone's got eyes on him. If Harry were a little less drunk, or if the lovebite on Louis' neck weren't so obvious, he'd be a possessive ball of jealousy right now. Harry's been surrounded by stars for years now, but Louis shines the brightest.

"Making different music now," he says finally, smiling at Louis chatting with Josh like they're old friends.

"Prove it."

Harry tears his eyes from Louis and turns to Niall, vaguely interested. "How?"

It's quite simple. "Sing."

So Harry starts climbing on his table, and all of a sudden Louis' there, steadying and close and lovely. "Harold, what are you trying to do with those two left feet?"

Harry giggles again and leans on Louis' shoulder until he can stand upright. The room spins for just a moment when he's up, and he feels wobbly, until Louis' right there again, under his arm. He's so helpful, this person. This person who has no idea what Harry's even got planned. "Thank you, baby."

Niall's getting a kick out of this. He leaps to his feet from the couch and lowers the volume of the music, walking in circles around the table and introducing Harry loudly. "Ladies and gentlemen! You might think you know him, might even recognise this man, but the truth is you haven't seen anything yet!"

Harry kicks a bottle in the hopes that it'll hit Niall's head. It doesn't even fall off the table. "Ni, please." His eyes drift to Louis, who's still holding him tight. His eyes are so so blue and there are crinkles, right there, like he's amused. "Mind if I do a number?"

It's a bit of a shock when everyone in the room starts to clap. But fuck, it's nice. He missed this, too. Can feel the adrenaline kicking in before the first note, remembers the arenas he used to fill. Entertaining Louis has been fulfilling in more ways than one, but this is something else, does something else for him. It's been too long.

He looks at everyone's expectant eyes, at Louis willing to play along, and the choice is pretty easy. "Louis here is gonna sing the hook for me," he declares, grateful for Niall cheering.

"He means steal the show," Louis says quickly. He squeezes Harry's hip, like he might really be nervous.

"It's just one line," he says, smiling at him confidently. "My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hon."

*

Harry dreams about Louis opening the bird cage and flying away, taking him on a trip.

He wakes up feeling more or less sober and more or less likely to vomit. There's also a branch in his bedroom. Like, a fucking massive branch, creeping inside from a tree Harry wasn't aware he had outside. He blinks slowly, pretty sure he's still dreaming. Louis' lying on it, napping like some tiger. It doesn't really disprove this being a dream.

It feels like his mouth is full of cotton candy, so he's not that inclined to start talking. It's still dark outside anyway, no point to start his day. He doesn't have a trip to a forest to plan. Louis' right here. Actually.

Cotton candy and all, Harry's lips stretch in a grin. He's probably in love with Louis, is the thing. Between one flower crown and the next, he fell hard for this woodland idiot. And yesterday they crossed the border of fantasy into the real world, and Louis' still here the next day. True, he grew a fucking tree branch into his fucking house, but that's a compromise Harry's willing to make.

Louis earned it, anyway, after being on his best behaviour yesterday. He smiles even harder just thinking about it, and about the songs. If there was one thing that kept him in the industry, it was getting to do what he loved every day and sharing it with someone. He could come out and lose all his fans, he could go solo and lose all his money, but he thinks that as long as he can sing songs that'll mean something for someone, he'll be happy.

"You awake or just having a good dream?" Louis asks suddenly, sharp voice cutting the sleepy silence.

Harry opens his eyes again, squinting in the dark. It looks like Louis' curled around the branch, torso flat on the bark. Maybe not a tiger, but a koala. "I'm not sure yet."

Louis snorts. "That's awake. Why're you so happy then?"

He tries to stop smiling, he really does. "I'm not. I'm deeply sad."

"Really?" He sounds as disbelieving as he should be.

Harry nods into the pillow, curling tighter in the comforter. It's drafty in the room,probably because the window is wide open. On account of the branch. "M'cold. And lonely. So lonely. So cold."

"Ugh." Louis' even less eloquent than him in the middle of the night. What a discovery. Wow, this is actually the first time they're spending the night together. Louis not being in bed with him makes even less sense now. "How is that my fault?"

"You're all the way over there," he whines. "Come to bed."

"Don't like lying on my wings."

Harry hasn't really thought of that. "Lie on your stomach, then."

"But you'll move me. You're all... fidgety."

Oh, so it's his fault then. He pulls back the covers and looks at Louis sternly. "Lie on top of me, then. C'mon."

Louis doesn't budge.

"Please."

Louis floats off the tree directly to bed. Harry makes a happy noise and spreads out on his stomach, folding his arms under his head. Louis keeps the covers at waist level, so Harry's side is exposed, until it isn't because Louis' on him. He throws an arm over Harry's back and burrows into his shoulder, heavy and hot. Even if he weren't, the thought that they're snuggling in bed would've been enough to warm Harry up.

"Good?" he asks, cautious because if it isn't he might cry.

Louis finally rests his head, burying his face in Harry's neck and hair. "Mhmm. Different, but nice."

Harry melts into the mattress happily. He's well on his way back to sleep. "Are you gonna stay?"

Louis' finger draws a lazy pattern on Harry's other shoulder. "If you let me keep the tree."

"But I'm cold."

Louis tuts and snuggles closer, so he's almost crushing him. "M'right here."

Harry falls asleep with a smile.

And wakes up with a hard-on.

Louis' still on top of him, like he hasn't moved an inch, but Harry knows it's been awhile since he feels more awake. Louis' chest is smooth and warm against him, their legs tangled together naturally. Louis' hard too, Harry feels it against his hip. It's everything he dreamed it would be, really, waking up beside him. He realises what woke him up in the first place when he feels Louis' lips on his ear, dragging slowly over the sensitive skin.

He lets out a bone-deep sigh of contentment and stretches his arms a little. "'Ello, baby."

"Morning," Louis replies, and wow, his voice is deep like this, right into his ear. "Are you cold?"

"Nope. Your wings okay?"

"Surprisingly, yeah. Guess you have good ideas sometimes."

Harry considers arguing, but then Louis nips his earlobe and he shivers. "Got another idea."

"Mm." Louis' hand drifts from Harry's shoulder to his hip, scratching his back lightly on the way. "Think it's a good one?"

Harry shifts just slightly, just enough to feel Louis' cock rubbing against him. Fuck, he's really hard, feels so good and right on him. Wouldn't take a lot of maneuvering to have him on his arse. Have him in his arse. "Yeah, real good."

He's wriggling a little, digging his own cock into the mattress, until Louis gets the picture. He doesn't know what's nicer, doing this on a soft bed or feeling Louis move on top of him, less subtly the longer they go. Eventually it's not enough. Like, he could do this forever, could get addicted to Louis being all over him like this, pushing him down roughly, but Louis' got other things on his mind.

"Feels good, baby," Louis whispers, lips brushing Harry's ear again. Baby. It sounds good when Louis says it. When they have the talk about how they're probably soul mates and not just kissing buddies, Harry will refer to this moment. "Want your mouth."

Harry's eyes snap open. "Fuck yeah."

He feels Louis roll off him, but instead of lying back, he waits for Harry to turn over and then climbs back on top of him. "Can't lie down, remember?" Louis says with a huge smirk, blue wings fluttering behind him.

Harry just stares for a moment, brain still slow from sleep. Having Louis naked in his lap first thing in the morning is definitely something he could get used to. His hands naturally go to Louis' hips, big enough to nearly cover the span of his back. He swears Louis' skin feels softer somehow from the bath, and smells intoxicating. "You're always gonna be on top, then?" he asks, not like he minds.

Louis thinks about it for a moment. Harry gets kind of lost staring at his hard dick, mouth already watering for it, until Louis says, "Until you fuck me on my hands and knees, I guess."

"Jesus Christ—"

Louis' fucking his face before he can comment on that. Harry isn't complaining.

Louis lets him swallow this time, nearly chokes him while pulling Harry off to orgasm as well. When they both come down they're snuggling again, Louis on his chest this time. Because of the wings, the only way Harry can hold him is by putting his hands on his arse, so that's just as well. Louis' particularly pliant and affectionate now, kissing his neck and whispering about how good Harry is.

Almost an hour passes before Harry can't possibly take it anymore, too gooey and happy. It feels too easy. He might start crying and then Louis won't come back. "D'you need something?" Louis asks quietly, playing with the curls that escaped the hair tie overnight.

"Tea maybe?" he asks, throat still scratchy from getting fucked.

He really should've expected Louis waving his hand and floating in an actual tea plant from outside. He laughs, then coughs a little. "The drink, love. You need a tea bag and hot water."

Louis kisses his chest. He seems to really like it there. "Won't it be easier to just make it with magic?"

Harry laughs and tickles Louis' sides a little. "Go ahead. Add some chamomile, too. Just be careful with the water."

"So it's just the plant and then you boil it?" Louis asks confidently.

Right. "How about I Google it for you and then go shower? As a trust exercise."

Louis leans up a little so he can see Harry's face. "Trust in my tea making abilities?"

Harry nips his chin. "Trust that you won't destroy my bedroom."

Louis takes that as a challenge. When Harry comes back inside, the only mess is a pile of crushed leaves on the bedside table. There is, however, a cloud of boiling tea floating in the air. Harry protects his dick on instinct, and very quietly says, "Lou."

Louis doesn't drop it, thank god. He just turns around with this accomplished look on his face and says, "I did it! But I didn't know what to do with it after."

"You find a cup, traditionally." Louis narrows his eyes like he suspects Harry's mocking him, and continues balancing a hot beverage midair, so Harry practically leaps over to kiss his cheek and thank him profusely  and then leads him downstairs to the kitchen.

It actually is delicious, like nothing Harry's ever tasted. And there's probably still some of Louis' magical come stuck to the back of his throat. It's also the last time he'll ever taste homemade tea, because Louis insists on seeing if Harry can make it better, realises it takes half the time and a third of the effort, and vows to always make it like that for Harry after he sucks him off.

He also makes Harry make tea for him. And then kisses him. So they're spending a morning together. That's. Nice.

Harry makes the mistake of checking his phone while the toaster is working.

Nialler: haha looks like your really goin solo

He's almost too afraid to click on the link to the Vine, but the number of texts and emails prompts him to bite the bullet.

Oh god. Someone last night took a video of Harry's table dancing. And also singing. Well, screaming "Time of My Life" to Louis. It has too many views, he knows, and sure enough the emails are linking him straight to articles. "Shit."

"What's up?" Louis asks, bumping Harry's hip on the way to the kitchen table.

Harry clicks through a few articles. He kind of hoped going off the grid for so long would mean no one would even remember him, but it seems to be top gossip still. "Last night's performance is on the Internet."

Louis barks a laugh. "Brilliant. Did they get the part where you burped in the middle of the chorus?"

Oh. He thought he'd have to explain what the Internet even is, but maybe Louis knows more than he's letting on about human life. "I don't know, but it's not really brilliant. I've been sort of trying to avoid this kind of attention."

"Attention? Of a friend taking a video of you? Don't you know humans are obsessed with recording themselves?"

And maybe he doesn't know Harry well enough. Honestly, he's been actively putting off this conversation. Keeping Louis in the dark about certain things was—important, in a way. Made being with Louis comforting, like they existed in a bubble far away. Like Harry's human struggles didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, because the world turned out to be so much more fantastical and big.

But Louis already crossed over to his side. They're eating toast and wearing fluffy robes (Harry) and oversized trackies (Louis). The least Harry can do is let him into his life. "So. I'm kind of famous?"

Louis doesn't spit out his toast or break the teacup. He doesn't even blink. "Yeah, I know."

Harry definitely chokes on his toast. "What do you mean?"

"I'm not daft, Harold. I figured out you were a big deal. And then last night Niall said some things that made it clearer."

A big deal. That's an understatement. Harry hesitates to explain just how big, but it really doesn't look like Louis requires more explaining. It's only when he feels relief that he realises a part of him had been afraid Louis might reject him if he knew. He's had enough exes who said it was "too complicated", or just wanted something from him. "You don't mind?"

Louis shrugs. "Why would I?"

So Harry explains. He tells him about winning first place on The X Factor, about breaking America and winning awards, about being famous since he was a teenager, about saving fans' lives, about people making him a sex symbol at sixteen, about people taking advantage of him, about his own team manipulating him, about his band members and childhood friends icing him out when he became "the front man" and not backing him up when he wanted to be "the gay one". About Harry announcing he couldn't take it anymore, the guys threatening to break up the band, and both of them following through.

It might be an attempt to intimidate Louis, show him what his life is really about, what a mess it could be. Weirdly, Louis just listens quietly and grows flowers in his empty teacup. In the end, all he has to say is, "Did you watch it or just read the articles?"

Harry's out of breath by this point. "What?"

"I get it, yeah?" Louis starts, waving his hand. "You got overwhelmed and fucked over, you wanted peace and quiet to figure some of that shit out, coming out or starting a new band or moving to the woods or whatever. And now everyone's up your arse about it, right? Talking about you singing last night at a party like it's a statement?"

Harry nods dumbly.

Louis clicks his tongue. "Well, I'm thinking maybe you're too up your arse too."

Harry sits down in front of him stiffly. "Excuse me?"

"Who cares what they're saying? They can't decide for you. Not anymore, at least. So watch yourself sing and then tell me if it's not really brilliant."

There's something in Louis' eyes, this conviction Harry isn't used to. Because Louis has an opinion about everything, but he never spoke about Harry's life choices, never really called him on anything. He didn't really expect Louis to want to make a point about this. To even care this much. So Harry doesn't argue, just takes his laptop and looks up the original link that Niall sent him.

It's awful, really. The quality's bad and the song is too loud in the background, nearly drowning out Harry's voice completely. But he's absolutely beaming in the video, basically serenading Louis. No, serenading with Louis. They're bloody harmonizing, dancing around each other like idiots and belting out lyrics they didn't quite remember. He thinks he looks happy. Or maybe—maybe he feels happy now, watching himself have such a good time and remembering why he loves doing this.

So maybe it's brilliant.

"Well?" Louis asks when the video ends. He's got a dumb smirk on his face, like he already knows he won this one.

"Alright, I guess," Harry concedes, fighting a smirk of his own. His fingers are drumming on the table, energy suddenly flooding his body.

"Is Harry Styles going solo then?"

"Maybe," Harry answers without thinking. Louis breaks the tea cup when he leans forward to kiss him.

*

It's not that easy. Not that earth-shattering life-affirming realisations ever are, but this particular one calls for a family meeting. For once, this involves more than Niall and Zayn. Louis' there, too, didn't even hint at wanting to go back to the forest the first chance he got. He grumbled plenty about having to wear a hoodie again, but as soon as they have company he's the picture of happiness.

Allowing Harry to mostly ignore him while he and Niall talk over beer and nail polish. "Dicked some sense into you, then?" is Niall's interpretation of things.

Harry sputters, nearly fucking up and painting over his knuckle rather than his nail. "I don't make decisions based on dicks."

Niall makes a noise, probably coupled with a disbelieving expression that Harry doesn't catch because he's busy not fucking up his nail polish. "Since when?"

"Just. Shut up and answer me, yeah?"

"Fine," he says in defeat, dutifully blowing air on Harry's right hand. "I definitely think you'll still be popular as a solo act."

"Not solo," Harry corrects quickly, slapping Niall's wrist.

Niall giggles. "Right, solo plus charming guitarist."

That sounds better. "Not gonna leave me alone, are you? It's scary out there."

Niall opens his mouth and Harry hears it before he even says it: how he's always hated the other twats in Harry's boy band, how he's better off without them, how he sounded better anyway. The words that actually tumble out are: "You were never on your own. Doesn't look like you'll have much trouble keeping company, anyway."

He tilts his head to the side, and Harry doesn't have to look to know he's gesturing at Louis. The excessive eyebrow wiggling is enough of a hint. He might actually blush a little, secretly pleased that they're so obvious. Or that Harry is, at least. It means one day Louis might actually notice that they're soulmates and they'll have a nudist forest wedding. April 2017, god willing.

Until that happens, however, Harry can't let himself entertain the thought of toting Louis around the world while he makes music. He still has trouble believing Louis is outside the woods right now. No use getting ahead of himself. Before he can change the topic, though, Louis himself distracts him by yelling, "Take that, piece of shit!"

He and Niall sigh. Louis spent the day being amazed by human things like ice cream and pianos and sex toys, but most of all Zayn. Harry doesn't blame him, Zayn is easily the most attractive human he's ever become friends with, but it is a little disconcerting how fast they bonded. Harry's not going to be that arsehole that gets jealous — because didn't they just say he's Louis' human? — but he's still allowed to sigh.

Louis' sat cross-legged in front of the television, waving the xBox controller violently under Zayn's nose. Zayn looks charmed, confused and annoyed all at once. The Louis Effect. "You're not even winning," Zayn says cautiously.

He should be—Louis looks at him murderously and presses all the keys at once. "Of course I am. You're just playing by the wrong rules."

Zayn blinks at him, like he might argue, but then it looks as though he just accepts Louis' bullshit. He nudges Louis' shoulder and says, "What are the rules, then?"

Louis ruffles Zayn's hair—Niall actually gasps—and says, "There are no rules."

So they're going to be best friends. Harry should've seen it coming, really, they're both cunning and lazy, which are two more things they've got in common than he thought they'd have.

"Anyway," he says, smudging his orange nail polish on Niall's thumb to get his attention back. "D'you think I'll actually get offers from labels?"

"Do I look like your agent?" Niall asks, tongue sticking out in concentration as he tries to put some nail polish on Harry's other hand.

"No, you look like the close friend notorious for being the only person to find Harry Styles and so might have gotten a few messages to pass along to me."

Niall glares at him. And then smiles. "Fine. So the first thing you need to do is meet with Syco and your lawyer to figure out if you have to pay millions to get out of your contract or if you didn't actually breach it since it's been five years since you signed. Your lawyer sounded positive that there is a way. Then you need to figure out if you wanna stay with them just as a solo artist and draft a new contract that suits you better, or find someone new altogether. Zayn can help you there, but I actually think you should stick with what you know. Syco has never been in your way when you wanted to start writing your own lyrics and shit."

Harry should probably write it down, but the nail polish isn't dry yet. Why did he think this was a good idea while they talked business? "It was the people from management."

"That's right, the Modest guys. So I'm saying, burn that bridge the fuck down while you can, and then find some indie manager who will actually stand up for you." He stopped fucking around just to look Harry dead in the eyes while he said that.

Harry can't help but smile. He really doesn't need anyone but Niall to stand up for him. He can go on and on about how toxic the band got to be, but the best thing that came out of it was Niall. "Now you look like my agent."

Niall slaps him and rolls his eyes. "I didn't even start, mate."

"What do you mean?"

Niall grins. "Have you ever heard of Irving Azoff?"

*

"I can't believe he wants to fuck a fish."

"So it doesn't bother you that she's fifteen and can't speak?"

"She's a fish."

They're high. They're really, really, extraordinarily fucking high. That was Zayn's call. Well, a joint decision with Louis. Ha. Joint. "Get it? Joint?"

No one laughs, shockingly. Louis just kisses Harry's bare shoulder and passes him the joint they're unofficially sharing. He swears he sees colours when he inhales. He never tried anything like this before. After they got sick of playing on the xBox, Zayn offered that they smoked up to celebrate Harry coming out of hiding. Louis was absolutely outraged just smelling the weed Zayn had on him, claiming it was shitty quality. Zayn argued, probably insulted, until Louis disappeared in the kitchen and came back with a huge, fresh-looking baggie.

It was crazy. Magic weed, who would've thought. After the first puff Zayn already ordered "more of whatever that shit is", and Louis looked quite pleased with himself. He got all cozy with Harry on the huge couch, still swimming in his jumper, and occasionally passed him a joint.

Watching The Little Mermaid was Harry's decision, but he regretted it five minutes in. Not the epic movie itself, but watching it right now, when he knew normal weed made him vaguely hornier and this magic weed is ten times worse.

With his trademark subtlety he managed to pull Louis into his lap, so right now he's only half-watching the movie, the rest of him focused on fitting himself as close as possible to Louis' side. Louis is surprisingly indulging, one arm wrapped around Harry's shoulders and the other gently tapping on his abs. There's no way he missed the tent in his boxers—hell, he's sure Niall is aware of it even under the blanket—but he's ignoring it firmly for now.

"The only reason she fancies him is because he's fit," Zayn claims.

"Like he's any better?" Niall retorts, spitting popcorn in the process.

"What do you think, Haz?" Louis asks. Harry blinks up at him, frowning at the pleased smirk on Louis' face. He totally knows Harry hasn't been listening to a word, wholly focused on Louis' soft hand travelling over his bare thigh. He wants to tear the blanket off of him, too hot for it. He wants to pull Louis fully into his lap and grab his arse and kiss him deep.

All he can do for now is press his face into Louis' bicep and make a pathetic sound. Louis kisses the top of his head sympathetically and brushes through his hair. Louder, he says, "I'm sure you have an opinion."

Prick. Harry pinches Louis' side and says, "I think you're ruining Louis' first time watching this Disney classic."

As Louis might have predicted, it brings Niall and Zayn's attention to them. "You've never—" Niall starts, and then laughs, rubbing Harry's calf over the blanket. "Mate, it knocked you right out, didn't it?"

Harry squirms away from Niall's hand, leg sliding up so his knee brushes Louis' crotch accidentally. He gasps and looks up again. For all that Louis' got a poker face on, he's hard too, Harry can feel it. God. If he has to watch Louis' mouth take one more drag he's going to fucking lose it. "Nah, he's alright," Louis answers for him.

Harry frowns and nuzzles into Louis' sweet-smelling neck, biting along the column of his throat and highly gratified when he feels Louis gulp. His arms feel so heavy but he's fully prepared to start touching Louis right, to embarrass him back. Totally. As soon as Niall stops looking at them knowingly and the fire stops dancing on Harry's spine. So he likes it when people see him like this, whatever.

It's a lot worse when Louis starts whispering in his ear, barely two minutes after Zayn says "ugh" and turns up the volume of the movie. "Knocked you right out, then? Should I just tuck you in?"

There are so many ways to refuse to that, Harry knows there are, but his brain is too slow to form a coherent sentence. Heavy, like his arms. Thoughts jumping away from him, like traffic passing right by. The concept of Louis tucking him in makes him even slower. Hotter. "Lou," he murmurs, tongue fluttering on Louis' neck.

Louis' grip tightens around Harry. "Too bad, then. Had some plans for tonight."

Harry just whines, biting him again. Louis tugs on his earlobe in return. With his teeth. "So sweet when you're high, aren't you?"

Sweet. Harry likes it. "It's good. What'd you plan?"

Louis just hums for a moment, close and quiet. "Spreading you out on this couch. Getting in your lap and kissing you nice and long, the way you like it. Good so far?"

Harry smiles stupidly, nodding into Louis' shoulder. "What then?"

Louis' hand slides up then, splayed out on his pec like he's all ready to pin him down and take his breath away. "Sit on your face for a bit, until I'm hard enough. You've never licked me out before, have you? Do you even know—"

"Okay, we should go," Niall calls out suddenly, either because he heard what Louis' saying or because of Harry's not-quiet-enough whimper. The interruption isn't even enough to pierce through the fog in Harry's head, the vivid image of Louis' glorious arse slowly sinking down on his mouth, covering him, smothering him. In this moment, he doesn't need anything else.

He thinks Niall and Zayn leave, and maybe he should remember to apologise to them, but really it takes Louis two seconds to throw the blanket off them and straddle Harry's hips. He's moving way too fast for Harry, but it prompts Harry's brain to pick up the pace. His hands go to Louis' thighs automatically, and he just stares at him in a daze. Louis looks right on top of him, his strong legs folded and his arms stretched to press Harry down. His expression is nothing short of devilish, smirk out in full force and blue eyes sizing Harry up.

He can't breathe, waiting for his promised kiss, but Louis doesn't lean down. Instead he pulls the hoodie up and off his body, slow either because he's teasing or because he still hasn't figured out how clothes work. Now Harry isn't breathing for a whole other reason. He's used to Louis' naked body, could sketch every single rune in his sleep, but right now there's a makeshift harness stretching over him to keep his wings flattened to his back.

It's Harry's rope, soft cotton that he tied himself around Louis. It's the most basic knot he knows, since he's a lot more familiar with his nylon rope and since he was a bit too embarrassed to actually demonstrate his full abilities on Louis. Embarrassed by how his hands were basically shaking through the process, so turned on he couldn't be bothered to make the fancy diamond shape over his sternum.

The important thing is that it held together. It's stretched tight over Louis' tan, smooth skin, brilliant purple standing out against his toned muscles. They did it for a practical reason, not a kinky one, so it feels wrong to stare and feel his whole body tingle with want, but Louis doesn't seem to be judging him. He lets him look, sitting on him and breathing hard just to show how the harness stretches when his chest expands.

The awed kind of silence passes when Harry feels like he can't take it anymore, like he might die if he doesn't touch him in the next two seconds. "Please," he manages, sounding a lot more far-gone than he should. It's probably the weed. Or the casual bondage. Or Louis.

Without either of them lifting a finger, the rope starts to untangle, coming apart on his torso. Since it's made from natural fibers Louis can manipulate it with his magic, which was precisely the reason they didn't use the sturdier nylon, but Harry can't help but feel like he's cheated out. He should be the one untying it, showing Louis how fast he can do it and maybe impress him a little. Make him proud.

He's distracted quickly, though. Because as soon as the rope falls to Louis' hips, his wings spread out in all their vibrant glory. Louis sighs happily, not soft enough to evade Harry's ears but soft enough to make him feel even hotter. He's sweating into his own couch, just staring at Louis flapping his wings and rolling his head. It's probably a show, designed just to drive Harry mad, but he can't get over how Louis looks when he does it. Because it doesn't seem like relief, it seems like actual pleasure. The air whooshes around his wings and Louis' eyes drop closed while his mouth drops open.

Harry suddenly remembers Louis comparing his wings to balls. He should burst out laughing, really, but instead he blurts, "Can I touch them?"

Louis just nods, adjusting himself so he can lean forward. He does so by slipping a leg between Harry's, so he's straddling his thigh rather than his hips, and lays his hands on Harry's chest. It should hurt, the way he's using Harry to support his weight, but Harry barely even feels it. Because Louis' face is suddenly closer, and he's just so pretty, like he's glowing. Instead of sitting up, Harry grabs the back of Louis' neck and pulls him down.

Louis' surprised noise is lost in Harry's mouth. It's sloppy and wet, a lot less coordinated than the perfected version of kissing Louis, but it's fucking hot. Louis bites his lips, little nips like he can't help himself, and then when Harry's loud enough he fucks his tongue into his mouth. He's all slick and hot, making Harry's whole body burn up. He wants to be even closer, wants more.

He trails both his hands up Louis' back, until the knobs of his spine turn into something silky, and he knows he's touching his wings. He still wants more. Randomly, he remembers watching this nature program with Zayn (equally as high), and it showed this type of bird that dives into the water and can actually swim to catch fish. It has these dense feathers with waxes and fats and powders spread on them to keep them waterproof. Why the fuck did they watch it?

"What?" Louis whispers against Harry's chin, sounding put out.

"Boobies," Harry says, giggling. "That's what they're called. The seabirds."

Louis frowns, but then just rolls his eyes and goes back to kissing him. Fantastic. Harry bucks up when their tongues touch, pushing into Louis, who is mouth-wateringly hard without even sitting on anyone's face. Harry does it again, just to hear Louis gasp. His grip on the wings gets tighter, and he suddenly remembers what even started the boobies train of thought: that protective layer of magic on his wings. Unfair. "I wanna touch them, please."

"You are," Louis says, biting Harry's neck hard. He's an awful person to interrupt.

Harry just moans a little. "You said I'm not. You said I never touch them. Please, just for a second, I just…" He turns his head so he's rubbing against Louis' stubble and saying in his ear, "Wanna touch every inch of you."

Louis hums in consideration, but Harry doesn't miss the way his arms shake. He's going to crack. "Let me, please, let me, let me feel it just once."

"Fuck, I must be really high," Louis mumbles.

Harry beams, rubbing up against Louis' cock encouragingly. "Is that a yes?"

His wings flutter hard, forcing Harry to let go, and then Louis sits up. Not wanting to push his luck, Harry shoves his own hands under his head obediently. There's no lightning bolt, or spell, or explosion. Louis squeezes his eyes shut in concentration, and then there's a flash of light, and then… nothing. Louis doesn't look different. His wings are the same sparkly blue. "Did it work?" Harry asks, biting his lip.

Louis nods slowly. "Think so. I can feel the air."

Harry's biceps clench, tugging on his own hair to stop his eager hands from reaching up without permission. "Can I?"

Louis hunches over him again, slowly, one hand on his chest and the other on the cushion under his head. "Gently, yeah?" he asks. Harry's never heard him quite like this. He's always loud and bossy, always confident, but right now he sounds a bit unsure.

Harry sweeps Louis' hair behind his ear, and kisses his lips softly. "Promise. I'll be good."

Louis' mouth crooks in a much more familiar grin. "A good boy, hm?"

Harry gets so hot so fast he feels a head rush. Very carefully, very good, he lets his hand travel from Louis' neck to the tops of his left wing.

"Oh fuck," Louis moans, shockingly loud, and then his whole body shivers over Harry. Startled, Harry pulls his hand back, but Louis bites him almost too hard—so just hard enough—and grunts, "Keep going."

With his breath caught in his throat, Harry flutters just his fingertips down the whole length of the top wing, then the secondary one. It feels so different to before that he can't believe he never noticed the magical layer. The wings are so much softer now, flexible but fragile. It's like he can feel each scale, each tiny flutter. He's soon distracted, though, by Louis' reaction.

He's past shivering now, flat-out shaking in Harry's lap, each breath a gasp and each gasp a curse. If Harry was thrown by Louis sounding hesitant before, he's shocked by Louis sounding desperate now, overwhelmed. He's too overwhelmed to even touch Harry, but Harry's still more turned on than he's ever been with Louis. "What does it feel like?" Harry asks, as quietly as he can, wouldn't dare to distract Louis from whatever he's experiencing.

It doesn't seem like he distracted him. Louis gropes blindly for Harry's free hand and then just holds it tight, almost crushing. "Fuck, it feels fucking—oh, Harry—"

God, Harry's going to fucking pass out if Louis keeps sounding like that, moving so restlessly, bowing and arching his back like Harry's picking his strings. Louis never felt as… human as he does right now, as earthly, and Harry's playing with his very inhuman wings. He gives up on trying to make him talk, because he understands these sounds better than words, soaks in Louis' whimpers when he lays his whole palm down, drowns in Louis' shouts when he scratches him lightly.

He's so focused on how hard Louis' panting, how his back is curving for him and his wings are flapping out of control, that he doesn't really notice the rest of Louis' body, let alone his own. Until Louis surges forward to bury his face in the cushion next to Harry's head. He's biting down. Harry can't believe this is happening, squeezes Louis' hand in his and turns his head slightly to kiss Louis' ear. Louis' whiny response is muffled in the cushion.

It's only then that Harry notices the most crucial detail—Louis' grinding against Harry's thigh, so fast and heavy that he's dragging his boxers down. If there was any way for him to speak right now, he'd ask, but as it is, he can only hope. So he raises his knee, to give Louis more friction while he humps Harry's leg, and then brushes the underside of one wing.

Louis practically screams when he comes, spilling in his trackies just from riding his thigh. Harry can't see anything, but it feels like he's holding a volcano. It takes Louis forever to cool down—like two minutes—and even then he doesn't stop shivering. "Stop, stop, stop," Louis says in a shaky voice, and Harry immediately lets go of his wing, even grabs his bum instead. To avoid temptation.

Louis' dead weight at this point, pinning Harry to the couch and breathing hard into his neck. It's nice and intimate and for a moment Harry wonders if he hallucinated the past fifteen minutes. If he hadn't, he must have been a saint in a past life. "Nngh," is the most Louis can manage at first. Harry's accomplished a lot in his twenty years, more than most, but making Louis this fucked out without even fucking him is currently his number one achievement.

"You good?" Harry asks tentatively, kissing whatever part of Louis' face he can reach.

"Are you?" Louis asks. He sounds drowsy, which is both adorable and hot. "Can feel you drilling a hole in my stomach."

Harry flushes all over, even though he doesn't need an excuse. Anyone would be this hard after going through what Harry just did. He's still Harry, though. "Sorry, you just… sounded so good, Jesus." His hips pump up reflexively.

Louis drops a kiss to his lips, and then stretches. He swings his leg back over Harry's hip and sits up. Harry feels cold for a moment, used to Louis sprawled and squirmy all over him. The moment ends when he looks at him, though. There's a wet patch on the front of his trackies, that are actually Harry's, and his skin is flushed and glistening with sweat, and his lips look red and bitten. His expression is the definition of pleased. And Harry did that. "God."

A very small part of him wants to wait and see what Louis has planned, if he might want to take care of him, but 98 percent of him is too amped up for that. His hands fly to Louis' hips and he pulls him up so he can shove his own boxers down. He's hard and dripping, aching. Before he can reach for it and give the two tugs it'll take to come, the back of his hand brushes over Louis' groin and.

Human nipples are more sensitive, human hands are less sensitive, you don't have wings, and you can only come once at a time.

Alright. Harry tugs his trackies down, all the way to Louis' ankles, and then sets him back down in his lap. Louis doesn't resist any of it, and when Harry peeks at his face, he sees that Louis' mostly amused, curious to see what Harry's goal is. When Harry rubs his whole hand through Louis' come and then wraps it firmly around both their cocks, Louis stops looking so endeared.

Louis grabs the backrest of the couch with one hand and his knee with the other, eyes closed and head tilted back in pleasure. His dick is hard and wet against Harry's, the perfect friction when Harry starts pumping them in earnest. It makes a slick sound that might drive Harry crazy before he even comes.

Shockingly, Louis comes first, barely three minutes in. He wasn't kidding about the multiple orgasms thing. His wings flutter and his body rolls gently, hips jerking while he fucks Harry's fist. It's not the stunning visual that gets Harry off, or the drawn out, content sound Louis makes. It's feeling Louis' come coating his hand and belly. His cock.

He's dizzy when he comes, feels like he might have sprouted wings himself and floated off. There's so much come on him, and when his eyes close all he can see is Louis' shocked face when he touched his wings for the first time. He literally let his guard down, just for Harry. "Hug," he asks weakly.

He feels Louis press a kiss to his cheek. "Can't like this, love. Gotta let my wings heal before I let the magic protect them again."

His eyes snap open. If his heart rate managed to slow down in the past two minutes, it's back to racing now. "Did I hurt you? I'm so sorry, baby, I didn't mean—"

"Shh," Louis cuts him off, kissing him quiet for good measure. "It's okay, it won't take long. You made me feel fucking incredible, Haz."

Harry has to cover his smile with his hand, realising a bit too late that it's still dirty with come. Well. It's right there. He pops his fingers in his mouth, sucking them clean and wondering how the hell he ended up with a partner that tastes like passion fruit. Louis makes a tortured noise and climbs off of him. His thighs feel relieved but his heart aches. "Oh, don't pout. Just sit up straight so I can hug you."

Oh. Much cheerier, Harry sits up too fast, collapses back down, and then slowly slides along the couch so he's leaning against the backrest instead of lying across the length of it. Louis kicks the trackies off and settles back into his lap, carefully wraps Harry's arms around his hips, at a safe distance under his wings, and then buries his face in Harry's neck and hugs his shoulders. Harry melts into it, feels every point their bodies touch. "Thanks."

"It's okay. I'm used to hugging you."

Harry squeezes Louis' arse. "I meant for earlier. For letting me."

"Mm. That was a nice experiment." He sounds exhausted. Harry kind of wants him to cuddle up and fall asleep in his lap, but also—wait.

"Have you never done that before?"

Louis snorts a laugh. "Of course not. Why would a fairy ever think to ask another fairy to disenchant his wings?"

Harry could take offense to this—his ridiculing tone, if not the actual statement—but there's something he's trying to grasp here. "So you've never felt that before."

"Thought that was obvious," Louis says. He sounds less cocky now, somewhere between purposefully shy and shyly teasing. "Came just rubbing up against you, didn't I?"

"You did," Harry answers unnecessarily, smug as fuck. "You came twice."

Louis clicks his tongue and squeezes his knees together around him. "Don't think it'll be this easy next time. And aim for three, don't insult me."

It's much later, after they rewatch The Little Mermaid, that they cuddle up on the couch. His eyes are closed, well on his way to a nap, but it's impossible to drift off when Louis' carding his fingers through Harry's hair and kissing his ear gently. So it's a good time to reflect on how it feels like the sun is glowing in his chest.

A ridiculous sense of pride makes him bite back a smile. He's the first person that ever touched Louis' wings. More than that; he's the first person Louis allowed to touch him like that. Harry wants to find more firsts with him, wants to spend all his time doing that and only that. He's curled up in Louis' arms and feels like this is his whole world.

But it's not. It was only a few hours ago that he came to realise he needs more—something Louis helped him realise. He feels heavier, suddenly. There's nowhere he'd rather be right now, and Louis feels more real than anything right now, but. Louis will go back to the forest and Zayn will stay and talk to him about record labels. Tomorrow he won't be in this parallel universe anymore. He'll still be in love, though.

So the question is if their worlds could ever become one. He knew that much from the moment he realised he wanted to be in a relationship with Louis, but now that they've proven it was possible to cross to Harry's side, he thinks he might be ready for an answer.

*

"This is going to take forever," Louis warns, cracking his knuckles.

Harry shrugs, going for casual while really his mind is buzzing. Be cool, be cool, don't fall off the tree, don't sound too eager. "Take your time. It's not that long, really."

"I know, but I want it to look nice," Louis says. Harry's still sure it's a trick; there's no way Louis would've agreed to randomly braid his hair for no reason. It's either a prank, or Louis thinks it's something humans just do to each other, or he might just love Harry's floppy hair—or even Harry himself. He'd better love him at least a little. At least for the conversation they're about to have.

His agenda completely slips from his mind as soon as he feels Louis' fingers sink into his hair. He scratches his scalp gently, from the top of his head to the back of his neck, tugging on the knots that catch in his fingers. "Careful," Louis says, much closer to his ear than he's been before. Harry's started swaying, but when he feels Louis' lips on his skin he only loses his balance even more.

Which is kind of dangerous when he's perched on a branch, ten feet above the ground. Louis will catch him, though. Maybe pull on his hair a little more. Maybe even lead him by it. Harry rumbles right from his chest and leans back, only making Louis hold his hair tighter and push him straight.

He wants to complain about hanging out in trees again, after spending a cozy week in his house, with Louis visiting him and actually staying over more often than not, but he knows it'll sound selfish. This is Louis' home; Harry wants to be welcome here.

"Good so far," Louis comments, lifting the braid to kiss the back of Harry's neck. Harry lets out a happy little hum. It's like his whole being is focused on Louis' clever fingers mussing up his curls. "Like the princess with the long hair, yeah?"

Harry beams. So Louis did remember the educating movie marathons, even though Harry did his best to distract him. "Rapunzel."

"Whatever," Louis murmurs, kissing him again and pulling on the braid so his skin tingles. "Want me to put flowers in it? Make you pretty like a princess?"

Harry feels warm all over, bites his lip to hide a smile. It's probably time to broach The Topic. "Sure. But actually, I, uh, wanted to tell you something."

"Go ahead," Louis says, muffled by Harry's neck, which he's kissing softly. It reminds him of drifting in a pond and being surprised by Louis' mouth, or more importantly, by distinctly non-platonic feelings directed at his fairy best friend.

Harry gulps. Mustering truly superhuman strength, he shrugs Louis off and turns himself around to face him. It still looks like Louis' critiquing his hairdo, so Harry turns his head slowly. It's definitely not to avoid his eyes. "So… you remember how I told you a little about my career?" Louis just nods. "Well, I've been thinking about it more seriously, I guess. And since it's Monday I thought I might go to the city for a few days and meet with business people? Like, music business. About business. To figure out my next move with experts. That's what Zayn meant when he set up the meetings, anyway. Um."

In his mind, it was fairly obvious what he was hinting at. It's kind of offensive, that Louis just looks confused instead of saying, Great, when do we leave?

What Louis actually says is, "That's brilliant! D'you want me to—" yes "—cast you a luck charm?"

"What?" Harry's body freezes, along with a part of his brain. That was. Unexpected.

He's got this feeling, this bad feeling, that if the conversation is going wrong this soon, by the end of it he'll only have his braid to remember Louis by. At this point he knows he's gaping like an idiot, so he just says, "Of course not, that'll be unprofessional and unethical. Probably. I mean, I've never heard about it being forbidden, given that it never happened before outside of Harry Potter books. What do I know, though, maybe deals with the devil are real. Or genies, there are those."

He trails off when Louis brushes a hand over his cheekbone, gently touching his chin. "You love talking shit, don't you?"

Harry's spiralling. The ramble should've been the first clue, but he doesn't actually realise it until what Louis said triggers a whole other worry in him. "Wait, you can do luck spells? Can you do love spells?"

It sounds ridiculous even as it leaves his mouth, and completely irrelevant, but if Louis doesn't want to come to London for a couple of days, how will he ever want to come into Harry's whole life? Since Harry can't possibly face that possibility, he chooses to panic over something else.

The only problem is that Louis doesn't instantly laugh it off or call Harry's bluff or kiss him. His face blanks for a moment, wings folding. "I mean, probably. But I've never tried before. Would you want me to?"

Harry knows he'll regret it. But the can of worms is open. And he just blurts, "Of course not, but how do I know you didn't cast one on me?"

Louis bristles. "Because I didn't! I wouldn't need a spell for it, anyway, you're already in too deep."

Which is true. 100 percent, undeniably true. Harry is head over heels for him, has been since they took a swim in the pond not far from here and Louis managed to ease all his troubles with just a smile and a touch.

What is disturbing is how easily Louis said it. Who knows how long he's known that for, but just didn't think it was that big of a deal? Who knows how Louis sees him, with his fragile human heart, that's just sitting there and waiting to be taken? Can fairies even fall in love?

Harry shuffles back unconsciously, his thoughts getting away from him. He knows that Louis cares for him, loves him, even. He's said so himself, and shown it in so many ways just this past week. Harry will not convince himself that it was all him, that it wasn't mutual just because they haven't discussed it. He didn't imagine Louis charming all his friends, didn't hallucinate Louis kissing the back of his neck achingly gently and saying that he's his favourite human.

But all that doesn't change the fact Louis hasn't made any mention of joining Harry on his trip. Or any future plan. The fact Louis has just pointed out that Harry's madly in love with him, but hasn't bothered saying it back.

And he hates it, hates that even after all this time it still feels like Louis could slip through his fingers, could just as easily fade into a figment of Harry's imagination. In five years he'll realise this whole fairy business was just the quarter life psychotic break of a pop star. Louis being real was unlikely to begin with. Louis being in love with him could be just impossible.

"Hazza," Louis says loudly, obviously sensing that Harry's upset. "Look at these." He reaches forward to touch Harry's Stabling rune, the anchor on his wrist. It elicits the familiar warm tingles. "I never did anything to you that you didn't ask me to. I would never try to manipulate you like that."

It's absolutely not what Harry's upset about. For a tiny, barely-there moment, Harry wishes he could manipulate Louis, could have any effect on him at all, that would make him love Harry enough. That would make them last, when Harry leaves this forest for good. That would make their worlds overlap. He instantly wishes he hadn't, but the fear lingers. Louis just might not love him as much as Harry needs him to for them to have a life together, and that's terrifying when he thinks of how much he loves him.

Louis said so himself. He's in too deep.

And Louis—Louis has wings. Great, big, blue wings, to go with his piercing blue eyes and ethereal forest and magic tattoos that are still twisting on Harry's skin. And time moves differently for him; he probably wouldn't even notice if Harry just moved away.

After an eternity of staring, Harry just gulps and says, "I know you wouldn't." Because, yeah, Harry's brave, but he does have some sense of self-preservation. He can't just bring it up now, when Louis' doing all the right things but not saying them. Can't drag Louis into how deep he's fallen.

Harry's learned how to hide quite well during the past few months. Louis himself helped him perfect that skill.

He climbs off the tree.

*

They should've been on the road for an hour now. Harry should've realised that Louis didn't matter that much to him anyway, that his future was more important than their present, that he can let it go, that he's defying gravity.

Except that they're not on the road, because Harry couldn't even bring himself to leave the house, and now he's definitely too drunk to drive. Zayn is a comforting presence beside him, drinking quietly and waiting for Harry to open up. It takes him two beers and three shots.

"The thing," he finally starts. "The thing is that I knew it would be hard, but I didn't think it would be hard."

Zayn leaps on the opportunity. Literally, he throws his legs over Harry's lap. And asks, "What happened with Louis?"

Of course he knew. Like Harry had something else to whine about. "He doesn't care about me."

"Mate, that's not true," Zayn says immediately. It would be a bit suspicious, but Zayn has always been perceptive. There's a reason Harry's doing this with him while Niall's in the other room. Niall, who would automatically side with him and let him drink even more.

Maybe Harry still wants to be proven wrong. "It's not. But he isn't in love with me."

"That's..." Zayn trails off, scratching his beard. "Can you tell me what happened?"

Harry cuddles up to him. "Don't take this the wrong way, yeah? But I might have wanted Louis to come with us to London."

Zayn snorts. "Yeah, I figured."

"Well, he didn't!"

Zayn takes a calculated gulp from his drink. "Did he just say no when you asked him? Or did he explain?"

He tries to remember. It's harder that he thought it would be. "He just... didn't even bring it up." He can hear what Zayn is about to wisely say, so before he can, Harry adds, "I know, then how do you know, I just do, okay? You don't understand."

"Yeah, I do." He sighs attractively.

Harry doubts he does. "You really don't. He's this—divine thing. Way out of my league. He's in a league of his own, really. It makes perfect sense that he didn't—that he never—"

Zayn's soft hand wraps around his and quiets him. "H, I understand."

There's something in the heavy way he says it that sobers Harry a little, enough to ask, "What?"

"I know." He looks around, even though the room is empty. "About him."

Harry blinks. That… what? "What does that mean?"

"I know he's not human. It's rude to ask, but I'm guessing he's a pixie?"

Zayn's eyes are soulful as ever and his hand is cold as ever and his voice is high as ever but what he's saying makes no sense. Harry's not even sure how to respond—anything he says could confirm it, and it's not his place to out Louis, despite what Zayn might think he already knows. Knows. "I've got no idea what you're talking about."

Zayn's mouth quirks into a smile. "I know you know about him, you're not an idiot. Well, right now you're acting like one", he corrects, only smiling harder when Harry pouts. "You are, if you know he's a pixie but don't know how much he cares for you."

"I know he cares for me, he just might not love me the way I love him." He's having this conversation with the wrong person. Zayn is only getting more cryptic and suspicious, and in a way it makes him miss Louis even more. But he can't have Louis, and he's drunk, and Zayn's here.

"Of course he doesn't," Zayn says, like it's obvious.

Harry frowns. "I thought you were trying to cheer me up."

Zayn nudges him with his knee painfully. "I mean—he doesn't love you the way you love him, because he doesn't experience anything the way you do. He's a different kind."

That really doesn't make it better. "Fairy, not pixie," he blurts. "And you're making it sound like bestiality."

"So you do know," Zayn says triumphantly, ruffling Harry's hair.

Harry slaps his hands away. "How do you? Did he tell you?" It hurts a little, irrationally. Louis' never been too cautious with his fairyness, but that's because Harry met him with his wings out. He thought it meant Louis trusted him, in a way. Maybe not, if he just went around Harry's party and showed all the humans his wings.

"No," Zayn replies. So that's better. When he doesn't explain, Harry pinches his thigh hard enough to make his mouth twitch. "Do you really wanna know?"

Harry pulls back slightly so he can see Zayn better. He does it just to hear him answer, but then gives him a good, long look, the first one since two years ago, when he realised Zayn was far too attached to Niall for Harry to ever fuck him. His eyes were always deep and soulful, framed by long lashes.

Harry looks into them and his stomach turns. He can see it now. How could he not see it? "You're a different kind too."

Zayn nods, like he's proud of him for figuring it out. "That's right."

Harry has two million questions that he's sure would be inappropriate, so he leans over the coffee table and does two shots in sequence. It hits his head immediately, disorienting and then pleasant, causing his buzz to resurface. He turns back around and sees Zayn double. Could that be his magical power? He blinks fast and—no, just one Zayn. Maybe a bit more than a buzz. "It's rude to ask, you said? What… kind someone is?"

Zayn pushes Harry back to the couch, so the world stops spinning. "That's right too. Maybe if you remember this tomorrow, I'll tell you."

That sounds fair. So only one million questions. "Does Niall know?"

"Of course."

Harry doesn't know if he should be glad Zayn isn't keeping secrets from Niall, or offended that Niall is keeping secrets from him. Wait. "Niall's human, right?"

Zayn snorts. "The most human. Don't worry about it, yeah? The only reason I'm telling you is so you'll believe me when I say I'm not just defending Louis blindly. I understand."

Right. Louis. Harry almost managed to forget that mess. "I know, I know, he's got a different kind, he can't love me."

"That's not what I meant," Zayn says firmly, his eyes suddenly stormy. Harry's hand clenches on the cushion. He can't believe he missed it. Maybe Zayn's a vampire or something. That'd be so cool.

Why did Louis not tell him? Why does Louis not tell him things? "Even if you know Louis isn't human, you can't know how he feels about me."

"Not true. I mean, there was one huge, obvious hint."

Harry's jaw drops. If Louis explicitly told Zayn, but not Harry, he's going to spear him with the tree branch still growing in his fucking bedroom.

And then Zayn just reaches down and pets Harry's dick.

The shocking part comes seconds later, when pain shoots up from his arm and collarbones and ribs. He yells and leaps up, throwing his shirt off like it's on fire, because it feels like his skin is burning even after the pain stops. He yells again when he looks down and sees that every single rune on his body is glowing red and yellow. "What the fuck did you do?"

"Not my magic, mate. His magic loves you."

Harry suddenly remembers Louis saying his magic got aggressive. Harry looks like a walking warning sign. Harry thinks, motherfucker.

*

Louis isn't even there when Harry reaches the clearing. Harry's only got one option.

"'Cause if you want to love me, you gotta gotta gotta gotta got to love me harder. And if you really need me, you gotta gotta gotta gotta got to love me harder, I'll—"

A hiss finally comes, one panicked Hazza?, and then he sees a flash of blue in the dark. His wings are even more beautiful in the starlight. What a complete dick. "Tell me something I need to know!"

Louis finally lands in front of him, and instantly clamps a hand over his singing mouth. "Harry, it's the middle of the night, what the fuck are you doing?"

He ducks away from Louis' hand, nearly stumbling all the way to the ground with the way his head feels unbalanced, and says, "Sorry, did I wake you?" It was meant to sound rude, but came out polite. Fuck him, honestly.

"Of course not, it's just dangerous," Louis says, still hushed, and then closes his eyes. In a second the whole clearing is lit up like it's daytime. Harry looks up, completely stunned, to find hundreds of fireflies and fluorescent plants that definitely weren't there and shouldn't be here. It's weird and beautiful. Not the best setup for a shouting match, but Harry will not be deterred. "Are you drunk?"

Like that's the point. Harry throws his arms out. "Look what you've done to me!"

Louis opens his mouth and closes it. "Is that another song?"

Harry points angrily at the birdcage, but it's already back to normal, black lines. The pain is just an annoying memory. "Your runes fucked me up."

"What?" Louis steps into his space immediately, running his fingers over the runes on his arms and giving him goose bumps. They don't burn this time, just tingle pleasantly, happy for Louis' touch. Harry wants to flinch away but he can't. He's happy for Louis' touch. "What happened?"

"They started hurting and turning bright colours," he complains.

"Aw, baby." Louis' touch turns softer, more aimless. Harry wants not to melt but he can't. "I don't know why they'd do that."

Harry knows why. At least based on the context. "They were telling other boys to fuck off."

Louis' face hardens in the blink of an eye, fingers clamping around his forearm. "What other boys?"

He wants the rage from earlier to fill him up again. He wants the desperation from when he tried to explain to Zayn. But looking in Louis' blue eyes, standing so close to him and knowing how it'll feel to stand even closer, he's just helpless. "Does it matter? What gave you the right to put possessive magic on me?"

Louis' jaw sets and his hands fall stiffly to his sides. Harry feels colder, imagines the runes resenting him for pushing Louis away. "I didn't mean to put possessive magic on you. I told you I've never given anyone but myself these runes, I didn't know they could link you to me."

Link. If it weren't for the past 48 hours, Harry would've loved to be linked to Louis. "Zayn knew," he points out.

He tries, Harry can see, but Louis can't keep the angry tick in. "Zayn needed to be told to fuck off?"

Harry rolls his eyes. Zayn was rooting for him, fuck's sake. "No, he was just trying to make a point. And, by the way, if he weren't a secret magical creature himself it would've been pretty hard to explain the glowing tattoos."

"If he weren't a magical creature he wouldn't have been able to see them glowing," Louis points out.

Harry sputters. "So it would've been just fine if Niall was touching me?"

Louis' hands actually clench into fists. It's almost hot. "It's not meant to ward other boys off your body, okay? It's meant to claim you so other magic kinds won't fuck with you when you're off in London or when you wander into the woods singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of the night like an idiot."

Louis loses his wind in the middle of that, like he realises how insane it sounds. Like he's embarrassed by his magic, not by Harry. Harry only has one thing to say. "You claimed me?"

Louis' wings turn down and he rubs a hand over his face. "I didn't know it would happen the first time. And then I just assumed it wouldn't actually work, since we never did the ritual. You fucking asked for them, alright?"

Harry's muddy brain is still stuck. "You claimed me."

"I can…" Louis looks away from his eyes. "I can try to disenchant them, pull the magic back."

Harry touches the five-pointed star unconsciously. Out of all the outrageous shit Louis said tonight, that was the winner. "Don't. I." Since Louis' still staring off to the side, Harry takes a step back into his line of vision so he catches his eye. "Claimed, linked, whatever. I wanna be yours."

Louis' eyes widen. "Then why are you freaking out over this? You already are mine."

Of bloody course. You already are mine, you're already in too deep. Harry randomly slaps Louis' shoulder. "I need you to be mine too."

The most infuriating thing happens. Louis grabs Harry's hand, presses it to his chest and says, "I already am. Why are you freaking out over this?

Harry's lower lip trembles. This isn't going the way he thought it would. He takes a deep, shaky breath, and finally asks, "Why aren't you my boyfriend?"

Louis doesn't even have to think about it. Harry didn't throw him at all. "I'm not a boy, Harry. I'm your mate."

Harry's breath hitches, probably noticeably. All the fight drains out of him. Zayn was right. "You don't mean friend, do you?"

Louis shrugs. It might be a trick of the light, but Louis also might be blushing. Mate. Like in the wild. Like wolves. Like partners. Like his heart is going to explode. "But why didn't you tell me?"

"I did?" He looks genuinely confused. Harry wants the ground to swallow him whole. "I tell you I love you all the time."

Harry can't believe how wrong he got it all. "But not in love."

"There's a difference?"

He actually can't believe it. He needs convincing. "Yeah, there's..." He feels like every bit of the idiotic fumbling human he always feared he'd be to Louis. But apparently they're mates. That means nothing to Harry, and his whole being hinges on what it means to Louis. "Could you just. Tell me what you feel for me so I can, like, put a human label on it?"

Louis looks like Harry shot an arrow into him. He'd laugh if he weren't so ridiculously breathless, heart racing. He can feel Louis' heartbeat matching the pace, hand still clamped on his chest. "Harry—"

"Please, I just—" He takes a step closer, hand sliding down from Louis' pecs to his hip. "I'm not fishing. I thought we were doomed, yesterday. I just have to be proven wrong."

Louis sighs. "Okay." Harry beams, tempting a small smile out of Louis. "Okay, but not like this."

He fully expects Louis to fly away to the top of a nearby tree, so it's surprising (and endearing) when he throws his arms around Harry's shoulders and hugs him fiercely. Harry feels relieved, amazed, whole.

With Louis' face tucked firmly against his shoulder, he starts. "You're the thing that means the most to me. The reason I can't get small anymore is that I feel too much when I'm with you." He says it so fast his words blend together. "Is that enough?"

Harry circles his arms around Louis' waist. "No."

Louis sighs obnoxiously in his ear. "When I'm with you it's like everything's easy. Wait, not easy—at ease. Like my magic isn't burning and my mind isn't buzzing and my body isn't drifting. Because instead of all that there's you, and you're enough. You're warm and comfortable and obvious and so much better. You're nature."

He's surprised Louis even talked that much with the way Harry's squeezing him, tighter with every word. It's been a rough couple of days, but this is the first time he's felt close to tears. "You said…" Fuck, his voice sounds gruff. "That's the source of your magic. You're nature."

"I'm not," Louis says, tracing a shape on Harry's naked back. "But I belong in it. And it belongs to me. Might be why your runes overreacted."

Harry definitely doesn't sniffle. He feels like his chest is full of water. "You're saying you belong in me? That's a bit forward."

Louis digs his nails right in his shoulder blade, snorting. "Don't be a dickhead after I just rambled about how lovely you are to me."

Lovely, belonging, comfortable, warm. Claimed claimed claimed. Harry feels that all the time. It only gets stronger. And since he knows he's in love, he can only infer Louis is too, in his fairy way. It's happening. They're officially real and happening. He's in a relationship with a fucking legendary creature.

"Then why didn't you want to come with me to the city?" he asks, a bit petulantly.

"You're the one who ran away before we could talk about it," Louis mutters, butting Harry's chin with his cheek. "Fucking love spells? What's wrong with you?"

"Sorry." His whole face flushes. More quietly, he asks, "Would you? Come with me and Niall and Zayn? Just for a couple of days?"

"Sure you'd want me to? You claim that anything you do is a big deal. If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a handful myself."

Harry hadn't even thought about it. It was just obvious to him that Louis would come. Since Louis has been his safety net so far, he'll need him even more out there. Oh god. He can't picture himself without Louis. He can put as many runes as he fucking wants on him. "Don't care. I want you to."

"Then I'll come."

"Okay."

Harry goes back home alone, because Louis claims he needs to spend more time with his trees before Harry whisks him away.

Harry texts Zayn: you've got some splaining to do.

Harry falls asleep content.

*

Lube, a blanket, a single scented candle, a lighter, ten condoms and a throw pillow. It's a pretty straightforward picnic basket. Harry's a pretty straightforward guy. There's no reason for Louis to look this confused. "Please don't tell me I read it wrong and you've always been in love with me but never wanted to fuck me."

Louis' shock turns into amusement. "No, I just thought we were going to go to your meetings today."

Harry rolls his eyes and pulls the blanket out himself. Louis would've been completely unhelpful anyway. "We will, but after last night I figured it's time we have sex. Tender, loving buggery."

His heart still jumps when he thinks about last night, about all the right things Louis finally said. The fact Louis' claimed him is the thought he usually settles on. And then he gets hard thinking about collars, and then he packs picnic baskets with lube, and then he's having this awkward conversation with his shirt already off.

"I thought we have been having sex. Quite good, actually," Louis says, waving his hand to grow thick, soft moss under the place Harry's spreading the thick, soft blanket. He can't wait to get fucked into this. It would probably be more comfortable in his bed, but the fresh air will do him some good, he's sure. He likes to be adventurous.

Harry drops on the blanket ungracefully, spreading all his limbs and looking up at Louis. He's smiling down at him like he's endeared, and Harry feels ten times warmer. He thinks Louis looks better than yesterday. He looks like he's glad they set things right too. "I mean fucking. Dick in ass. Mine or yours, doesn't matter. Violate me, Louis."

Louis snorts and drags his bare foot down Harry's chest and stomach. "Do boyfriends fuck each other?"

Harry shivers, both from Louis saying boyfriends and fuck in the same sentence, and from Louis' foot slowly trailing to the bulge in Harry's jeans. "Mm-hm. You know what extra good boyfriends do, though?"

"What's that?"

God, his heel is rubbing insistently. Harry's eyes close, giving in without thinking. "They tell animals to stay the fuck away. Including bugs."

Louis' foot starts travelling lower, toes pressing on his balls and then farther, pushing his thighs apart easily. Harry bites his lip, hoping that Louis got the message and isn't just teasing him. "Got something against things that live here? Maybe bugs turn me on."

With self-control Harry didn't even know he possessed, he sits up and grabs Louis' wrist to jerk him down. Nothing's touching his groin anymore, which is a tragedy, but now Louis' sitting right in front of him. Harry spreads his legs on either side of him and slides closer. Louis just smiles at him, so Harry kisses his cheek. "I love you."

Louis nudges his chin with his nose. "I love you."

Harry circles his arms around Louis' neck. If there's one advantage to being in the woods, it's that Louis' default is to be naked. He's so beautiful and he claimed Harry. "Are you gonna help me do this proper?"

"No chance," Louis says cheerfully.

Harry pouts. "All you need to do is light my candle."

"Harold. We're not leaving a lit candle unattended in a fucking forest."

Harry pouts more. "But I want it to smell like home."

Louis rolls his eyes and leans back on his arms, without moving away from the bracket Harry's legs make around him. It makes his abs clench. Harry spaces out for a moment just staring at Louis rifling through the picnic basket. When he picks up the candle he gives it a sniff. "Cranberry?"

"Sweet Strawberry," Harry corrects.

Louis just smirks for a minute. That's Harry's assumption, at least, since he's still staring at Louis' tan body. Strong wind blows by, making Harry's nipples harden, and then he smells it. Tearing his eyes away from Louis' stomach, he gasps. From the edge of their blanket to the edge of their clearing, the ground is covered in strawberries. They look bright and ripe and smell deliciously sweet. Harry touches Louis' nipple. "You do wanna help."

Louis touches Harry's nipple. "Just wanna get this going."

"Oh, really?" Harry asks in a disbelieving tone. He shuffles his bum closer to Louis and bends his knees so he's all pressed up against him. It feels warm and intimate and good. "I thought you were going to lecture me about bugs?"

Instead of a snarky reply, Louis just grabs his hair and kisses him. It feels like their first kiss in ages, and Louis' treating it that way—gently tugging on each of Harry's lips until they feel swollen and tingly, taking forever to tease Harry's mouth open with his tongue, only to bite him some more. Harry moans into it after two seconds, can't take the wet, expert touches and the intoxicating smell.

Louis starts kissing him harder only when Harry buries his fingers in his shaggy hair and pulls a little. He just takes over, leaves Harry breathless as his tongue fucks into his mouth and his teeth scrape his lips. It feels like he's trying to eat Harry alive.

And then Louis pushes his chest away. It takes Harry ten years to blink his eyes open, still panting. "Love, your zipper," Louis explains, hands drifting down.

Harry looks between their bodies and realises he's been grinding on Louis' stomach for who knows how long. It was inevitable, really, with how hard he is. He still finds himself petting Louis' skin. "Sorry," he whispers. Shuffling away from Louis is almost painful, the loss of heat making him shiver, but as soon as his pants are off he's extremely relieved.

The way Louis' eyeing his cock makes him think it's mutual. However, now that he's a bit more comfortable—and clearheaded—he remembers an important part of the plan that wasn't included in the sex basket. He pushes Louis' fringe away from his hooded eyes and says bluntly, "Tell me stuff about you. Like, weird sex stuff. So that I'm not surprised."

Louis squints like he's offended. "Hazza, I told you I won't grow tentacles. It's almost like you want me to."

Harry gasps. The last thing he wanted was to make Louis think he's prejudiced against his kind or just rude. He pulls Louis' foot into his lap and starts rubbing it. "I get horrible foot cramps sometimes."

Louis smirks like he knows what Harry's doing. "Really? That's your weird sex thing?"

"What, you try waking your leg up while it's up on someone's shoulders. See how you like it."

Louis' smirk only gets more devilish. He snatches his foot away from Harry and then shoves him flat on the blanket. It doesn't hurt when his back connects with the ground, either because Louis took care of it or because he's distracted by Louis crawling between his legs. He grabs Harry's knees and lifts them. "What else then?"

"It's your turn," Harry points out, but his head empties out in seconds, boneless when Louis touches him, when he spreads him.

Louis leans down, stretching Harry's thigh muscles nicely and kissing his lips. It's hard to think when Louis fits against him so well, when his tongue dives into his mouth and he hums. Then Louis gropes his arse and says, "What else? Does your voice break when you get fucked? D'you have six toes?"

Harry whines a little. He wants to get fucked he wants to get fucked. "Four nipples."

"Hm?" Louis asks, ducking down to suck on his neck.

Harry throws his head back. "Got two mini nipples. Well, they're not really—they don't feel like anything, but—oh Jesus." He's on his nipple now, the regular one, clamping his teeth over it roughly. "Lou."

Louis hums, flicks his nipple with his tongue over and over again, until Harry claws at his arms because he needs more. "Gonna fuck me?" he asks, breathless like Louis' already started to.

"I dunno, what if you grow a tail?"

Harry grits his teeth and scratches him again. "I swear to god, if you grow a tail I'll let you fuck my mouth with it while you pound my arse, just—please."

Louis moans into his collarbone. He whispers something Harry can't quite hear, so he squeezes his legs tight around his shoulders. "Glitter," he huffs finally.

Harry's mind clears for a second to try and listen. "Glitter?"

"When I come hard my wings get—they flap really fast and sort of shed sparkles everywhere. Like glitter."

Harry's not quite sure what to do with that. On the one hand he's amazed that Louis shared that with him, on the other he's got ten follow-up questions—like is he likely to float off when he comes that hard? Or what qualifies as hard? He thought Louis had been pretty pleased with the daily blowjob.

In the end though, Louis' head is still buried in Harry's chest and his grip on Harry's legs is tight. If Harry didn't know better, he'd think Louis was insecure. He doesn't know what for—who doesn't love glitter?

"I should've packed a raincoat, then. Though I guess half the fun is getting glitter everywhere?"

Louis giggles. "Everywhere. Nothing could protect you."

Which reminds him. "What about protection, then?" Louis lifts his head with a raised eyebrow. Harry bites his lip and squeezes his knees together around Louis. "I mean, the condoms. It seemed obvious, but if the only risk is glitter, maybe—"

"We'll be fine without them," Louis cuts him off. "We have our own protection to make sure our magic doesn't get—stuck, if we get frisky with someone who's another kind."

Harry has no idea how magic gets stuck anywhere, but he's hoping for the best. "So your magic protects itself?"

"No, it… protects you from it. Our energies can't mix. Imagine if Zayn and I hooked up and all of a sudden he can grow trees and I can travel to—"

"Lewis." He bangs his heel on Louis' lower back. "Why would I imagine you with anyone else right now?"

Louis ducks his head back into Harry's chest. "You got my point, okay?"

"I really didn't," he assures him. "I'm not talking about energies mixing, I'm talking about jizz. What if you're allergic to human dick and break out in hives or something?"

Louis bites his nipple hard. "I think if that was the case your dick would spend a lot less time in my mouth. We can't give each other diseases, Hazza. That'll be like you getting feline herpes if a sick cat sneezed on you."

Harry barks a laugh. "I've got a feeling I'm the cat in that analogy."

"Of course," Louis says sweetly, and then suddenly his arms get tighter and Harry finds himself enveloped in a crushing hug with his legs still in the air. "You're my glittery kitten."

"I like that," he confesses, hugging Louis a bit closer. "It's like an indicator. Of when I do a really good job."

Louis kisses Harry's cheek tenderly and says, "And you like being good, don't you? For me?"

Of course Louis turns it around on him. They haven't actually discussed if fairy sex involves a lot of roleplay or other things Harry's into, so he didn't think to ask, but if Louis brought it up he's totally allowed to… be completely embarrassing. "I really, really do, Lou."

Louis peers at his face, interest piqued. "What does that mean? You want me to take control of you?"

Harry's brain shorts out like a fuse. He's not surprised that Louis gets it, since he's taken control of his whole life since he met him, but he is relieved. "Yeah. I want to... need you."

Louis thinks for a nerve-racking minute, and then asks, "Would you like me to make you beg for it?"

"Yeah," Harry gasps before Louis even finishes talking. He probably looks like an idiot, staring at Louis with endeared bright eyes while he talks dirty. He couldn't care less.

Louis nods like it's the easiest conversation in the world. It was probably harder when they were trying to determine which ice creams Louis was allowed to have. "What happens if you don't want to beg anymore, though? How do I know?"

Before any other word, Harry kisses Louis hard. This is going to turn out great. "I'll say no or stop, and then I'll say red, like a warning colour. Makes sense?"

Louis takes a moment, like he's letting that sink into his memory, and then he nods. "Alright."

"Brilliant. Get the lube and let me show you what a good boy I am."

"The what?" Louis asks, letting go of his knees so Harry's legs fall open by his hips. It's all it takes for him not to start stroking himself.

"It's in the picnic basket," he says, getting impatient. Louis might be interested in being his tree dom and he will not miss this opportunity.

Louis still makes no move for it. "What is?"

Harry's naked in a forest practically begging his mate to fuck him, but now his cheeks are burning. "Lubricant, it's. For your arse. When you're human. To get it slick."

Louis tilts his head and then reaches between Harry's legs and unceremoniously starts groping, trailing his finger between his cheeks. Harry's chest seizes and he chokes on a breath, trying to move into and away from it at the same time. "Interesting," Louis comments.

Not exactly the reaction Harry's come to expect two minutes from being fingered. "Do you usually do it dry?" He clenches just from the thought, but if that's how Louis always—

He shakes his head, and then the most devious smirk takes over his face and Harry realises something else is afoot here. Something that's clearly dangerous for him.

"Grab my bum."

Harry's brain jumbles. "What?"

"Sit up and grab my bum."

Who the fuck is Harry to say no to that? He bends his knees and then sits up, grabbing Louis' hips so as not to fall back. He's been staring at Louis' bum for months now, marvelled plenty at how round and soft yet firm and muscular it is, an award-winning ovation-worthy bum. Not that he ever wants to stop touching it, but he does wonder what Louis wanted. So he squeezes and kneads, listening hard to Louis' quick breaths.

And then he feels it. He feels liquid, down Louis' crack. And it's not watery and it's not gross, it's thick and smooth like—like Louis' wet. If his prick had lost interest during their debate about feline herpes, it's standing at full attention now. There is a wet boy sitting between his legs and chuckling to himself while being fondled. "That's not. I don't. Humans have. Um."

"Self-lubricating, me," Louis says with a proud smile. "Save your filthy chemicals."

His entire plan for today just changed drastically. Harry takes a deep breath, and then yells, "You went with glitter instead of this?"

Louis just shrugs, like this is a casual thing, being wet. "I thought you noticed, fuck's sake, you always get me soaking."

Oh god, oh god, Harry's never been harder in his life. It's not an entirely new concept to grasp—he's been with a boy who had a pussy that got wet—but this is Louis. His arse probably tastes like honey. Harry digs in just a little with his nails and asks, "Can I—"

"Fuck yeah," Louis rasps, arms wrapping around Harry's shoulders to keep them close.

Harry hauls Louis into his lap and then lets his hands wander. He squeezes one of Louis' cheeks, grabbing hard to spread him open enough for his other hand. He runs all five fingers down Louis' crack, can't even believe they're getting wet. It shouldn't be as surreal as it is, considering the fact Louis has functional wings, but it's too good to be true.

Harry snaps back into focus when Louis makes an impatient noise and squeezes his legs together, so his knees dig into Harry's ribs. He rubs one fingertip over Louis' puckered hole, just petting him for a moment because his brain insists this is a very important moment. Louis insists that this isn't a moment at all, and hisses, "Are you gonna make me do it myself? I thought you were trying to show me you're good."

He flushes with embarrassment and finally slips his finger in. Fuck, Louis' so wet already, it's impossible for Harry not to fuck his finger all the way inside him. He's tight inside, and wet, it's just. He can't wrap his brain around it. He knew Louis was horny because his dick was hard, but for some reason Louis being wet for him takes it to a whole other level. Harry wants to make him wet all the time, wants to get wet from him. How messy he could be.

"Haz, if you don't do something I swear I'm gonna bind your hands with—oh, yeah, there you go," Louis trails off, finally sounding more flustered than impatient.

Harry beams and keeps pumping his finger in and out of him, still slow, still savouring every second of this. He can feel Louis clenching around him, both his arse and his legs. Harry buries his head in Louis' shoulder, focusing completely on how hot he is inside.

They couldn't be closer—well, they could. They're going to be, if Louis' plan is to sit on his dick all wrapped around each other like this. He groans and thrusts into Louis harder, keeping his finger deep and curving it. Louis gasps right in his ear, and his hips sway sharply. Harry stays glued to his arse, keeping a faster pace in and out of him and a tighter grip with his other hand.

Louis gasps with every breath now, but the faster Harry goes the louder the sounds get, smacking and wet, and Harry can't get enough. The second finger joins easily, because Harry can't stop himself, Louis' too wet and he wants in in in. Louis clenches and moans, his hips jerking so their cocks rub together, which only makes him moan some more.

When he adds the third finger, Louis clenches so tight he has to slow down, has to push his fingers as deep as they can go and just rest for a moment. Louis quivers in his arms, high voice ragged and worn already. Harry wonders if he's fucking him good, if he might come from this, if he'll get even wetter.

The thought has him spreading his fingers slightly, curling and rubbing. Louis cries out and starts clawing at his back, hurting enough to leave marks probably, and Harry wonders if he might come himself from fingering Louis. Louis' just hissing yeah yeah yeah in a voice Harry's never heard come out of him before, so he goes a little harder, feeling around inside him and praying that he's getting his spot and not some unfamiliar fairy thing.

He's so consumed by how wet Louis' arse is that he doesn't notice Louis' cock is leaking too, pre-come dripping steadily from the head. That is until he gives him one perfect thrust and Louis' whole body smacks into his, cock grinding against Harry's stomach. Harry bites Louis' shoulder and starts working him even harder.

He only breaks when Louis' stretched enough that he's dripping down Harry's fingers all the way to his wrist, getting him sticky and dirty in a way that makes his cock stir. He leans back and opens his eyes, widening them at the sight Louis makes. His face is flushed and his perfect lips are open on an endless stream of sighs and curses. Before he knows what he's doing, his fingers are out of Louis and inside his own mouth.

He tastes sweet and delicious. Of course he does.

Louis' eyes open slowly, half-lidded and hazy, dark with arousal. Harry shoves all three fingers into his mouth and it's still not enough, too good on his tongue. Louis opens his mouth like he wants to say something, complain about his abandoned arse maybe, but then he shuts it and grabs Harry's shoulders instead. He shoves him down on his back so fast his head spins, and then takes his wrists and pins them down by his sides.

Going from touching all of Louis to touching none of him is devastating. Until Louis snaps his fingers and Harry feels something smooth wrap around his wrists, pinning him down for real. He can't even process all of this, getting to feel Louis' wetness drying on his whole hand, getting a taste of him, and on top of that getting tied up. Tied down, so he can't move.

No wonder he's dizzy; all his blood is rushing to his cock. He just fingered Louis into incoherence but in the blink of an eyes he's the desperate one, spread out and whimpering Louis' name, begging. Louis leans forward and runs his fingers through Harry's hair, gently for once. He kisses Harry's lips, kisses him quiet, and then says sweetly, "You did good, baby, opened me up so well."

Harry feels like he's burning up just from that. Louis' voice is calm and confident in a way that soothes Harry to the bone—not quite his usual sexy voice. But that quite something else is just what Harry needed, what he craves. Louis' a natural. Or maybe he's done this before. Whatever.

Louis kisses his neck, right where his Adam's apple is bobbing wildly, and his scruff scratches Harry's skin. "Gonna give you something, yeah?"

Harry can't nod fast enough. Louis smiles for him and kisses his cheek, making Harry blush furiously, and then he lifts up. Like all the way up, until he's standing and not touching Harry at all. He whines, heart racing. It's probably pathetic. Louis just tuts and then bends over to grab the throw pillow from the basket. He comes closer again, much closer, sitting on Harry's chest with his knees on either side of Harry's head.

He gulps in air, either because Louis' heavy or because he can feel his slick rubbing over Harry's pecs intentionally. His eyes threaten to drift closed, but Louis grips his hair harder than necessary and snaps him back. He pulls his head up to fit the pillow underneath it. "You like being dirty, don't you?" he asks, same tone as before.

"Yeah," Harry mumbles, turning his head to the side just to feel Louis pull his hair.

"What if I sat on your face, hmm? Would you like that?"

An unidentified noise bursts out of Harry. From a logical standpoint, with his knowledge and understanding of ass-eating, it's a right shame he hasn't gotten his mouth on Louis yet. From the standpoint his brain is currently in, all he can think is wet and messy and please. "Yes, yes, I—fuck, Lou."

Louis grins and brushes a few more curls off Harry's face. Suddenly, Harry feels his binds starting to loosen. He protests automatically with a pout. "Please, let me keep it."

"Shouldn't," Louis says, but there's definitely hesitation on his face. "Don't wanna choke you, love."

God, now that's all Harry wants, to bury his face in Louis' arse and not even come up for air, feel so eager for it he's breathless. He knows that's definitely above Louis' paygrade at this stage, but he also looks between his wrists and Louis' cock and can't possibly bring himself to compromise. He must look extra miserable, because Louis coos a little and says, "I might have an idea."

Harry beams. "I love you."

Louis rolls his eyes and squeezes Harry's nipple. "How about I balance just over your face? And I'll use my wings so I don't accidentally crush you. And you'll have your pillow."

He'd clap if he could use his hands. But he doesn't have to. On a dreamy sigh he says, "So I can have it all?"

"You," Louis starts, tapping his nose, "are ridiculous. But also lovely." He leans down as much as he can then, like he wants to tell him a secret. Harry's barely listening, since it only brings Louis' stupidly hard cock closer to his face. "Won't have much time to do it, anyway," he whispers. "Got me close already. Can still feel your long fingers inside me."

He can't be sure, since he can't see, but he thinks the blurt of pre-come that gets out of him hits Louis' arse. His hands clench into fists on their own, twist in the roots wrapped around them. Every second that he's forced to remember he's bound, a flash of heat passes his whole body. "Please, close, please," he babbles. "Wanna make you come."

Louis says something while he heaves himself up, but Harry swears he only hears white noise as he stares up at the most magnificent arse he's ever seen. Harry goes cross-eyed watching him come down, swears he can see his skin glistening where he's wet, where Harry fingered him open. Instead of finally sitting down, Louis stops a frustrating half inch above his face.

In barely a second Harry's head shoots up and his whole face is on Louis' pillowy arse. Since he can't use his hands to spread him open he has to give it everything he's got, nuzzling in and using his mouth and cheeks to make way for his tongue. It takes him somewhere, that. Feeling Louis' wetness smear on half of his face. He smells so sweet here, more concentrated than the strawberries around them, and Harry feels this click in his brain when he realises that's how Louis always smells when they snog. Is Louis always wet? Is Harry a fucking idiot?

Once he's so messy he can barely breathe, he opens his mouth wide again, and god, the taste. It's his favourite taste in the whole world, as of now. Harry's never met an arse he didn't like, but he couldn't have imagined how meeting this one would go. His experience doesn't matter anyway, there's no finesse in this position. Louis makes him feel useless and desperate and starving, which is another kind of hot.

He's restless from there, only takes a couple of breaks to rest his neck between sloppy kisses and licks. He can't get enough, has to feel and smell and taste, it's like it's his whole world. Maybe he's not that useless, though. Once he's less shocked and awed, he starts hearing Louis.

He sounds wild over him, moaning freely, and it hits Harry that he's having his face ridden in the middle of a fucking forest, that anyone walking close by could hear them, hear Louis moaning because of him, could see Harry choking on arse and so hard for it he might seriously come untouched. It's all the motivation he needs to lift his head and finally lick right over Louis' hole, instead of nuzzling desperately.

Louis makes the most beautiful noise and his hips start to rock, proper grinding on Harry's face, sliding in how wet it is. Harry licks him relentlessly, pointing his tongue hard so that the next time Louis moves he pushes inside him. It's getting harder to breathe, but Louis' letting out whimpers, high and noisy, and how can Harry not try to repeat that?

He keeps at it until his jaw hurts too much and even then he doesn't stop. Louis' getting heavier and louder and squirmier and perfect, like he's close, and it's all Harry can think about, come come come—

Suddenly Louis' weight is on him, pushing his head down and pulling his hair fucking hard, and he cries out Harry's name and clenches tight. And suddenly Harry can't breathe at all. And suddenly Harry comes too.

Louis' smothering him for barely ten seconds before he floats back, all the way off him, but Harry's orgasm feels like it lasts forever, his whole body rolling. It takes him even longer, and Louis kissing his sticky cheeks, to open his eyes. The sky's clear above him, some green treetops in his vision. He feels dizzy and high, feels how wet his face is when the wind brushes it, feels Louis touching noses with him and whispering against his swollen lips. "Felt so good, baby. Your mouth is magic. So pretty and perfect for me."

His heart clenches and he can't help but smile. His lips feel wet and used. His mind is starting to clear, slowly. Louis' still sweet on his tongue. Probably sweet on his cock, too, since he came—oh, shit. "Lou," he tries to whine, but it comes out sounding lazy and hitched.

"Yeah, sweetheart?" Louis asks, nuzzling his ear. Harry shivers.

"I came," he whispers, frowning. "How 'm I supposed to fuck you now?"

Louis makes a questioning sound. "Just like this, I thought? Kind of wanted to ride your cock as well as your face."

Harry bites his lip hard and tries his best not to look directly at Louis. "I meant, I'm soft. Because you made me come. Can't just stay hard by magic like you."

Louis laughs loudly, forcing Harry to look at his mean, pretty face. Louis looks completely sure it won't even be a challenge to make Harry hard. Harry almost starts thinking about car accidents just to prove him wrong. But then Harry licks his lip and tastes him again, and it doesn't seem that impossible to get hard again. Especially not when Louis crawls down his body until he's sat between Harry's legs.

He just looks at him, and Harry looks back, eyes jumping from Louis' messy hair to his pink cheeks to his tummy. "Fuck."

Louis winks, and then leans down. With his hooded eyes still piercing Harry's, he starts licking one long stripe up Harry's cock, ending with him popping the head into his mouth. Without even being gagged, Harry feels breathless all over again. He's too sensitive right after coming so hard, feels his spine tingling. Louis' just staring from under his lashes, almost innocent-looking, except for how he's sucking Harry's come-dirty cock down.

Harry wants to mess his hair up even more, want to throw an arm over his own face, wants to pinch his nipples. But he can't do any of that, since he's tied up spread eagle in the middle of a strawberry field. Fuck.

The heat disappears for a moment when Louis pulls off, but he stays low, rubbing his rough, scruffy cheek against Harry's sensitive cock as he licks around the base, laps up the come streaked up past his belly button. All with an infuriating smirk. Louis bites his hipbone and says, "Think you need more, baby boy? How about a rune right here?"

He presses two fingers to Harry suddenly, jabbing the soft skin where his thigh meets his groin. He's not actually drawing on him, it doesn't feel that intense, but there's just enough magic there for his fingertips to feel hot and stinging and amazing. Not to mention the fact there's still come on his hand, from when he must have jerked himself off while sitting on Harry's face. Baby boy.

Louis goes back to his cock, kissing him softly, but every touch feels like a shock to his systems. He's helpless to watch himself thicken up again. Louis hums and wraps his lips around him, tongue flicking against his slit. He's as hard as he's going to be, but Louis still bobs his head over him a few triumphant times. Harry's eyes nearly glaze over.

If Harry were any less of a mess right now, he'd wrap his legs around Louis and keep him right there. Instead, Louis moves back up until they're face to face. "Don't you think you're hard? I think you're pretty hard. Unless you don't want to fuck me, that would—"

"Get on get on get on," Harry chants, hips rocking up against Louis. He's hard and he's ready and he's beyond reason or shame.

Louis sits up majestically, all his muscles tightening like he knows what he's doing to Harry. "Get on?" he asks, cocking his head.

Harry grunts and throws his head back on the pillow. "Get on my cock, please, I need you, need to fuck you, feel how wet you are, god, Louis."

Even Louis looks blindsided by Harry's outburst. "Oh."

It's like it's in slow motion. Louis gets on his knees and takes hold of Harry's cock under him, stroking and aiming. Harry can't breathe, biting his lip so hard it hurts because he can feel how wet Louis is before he's even inside. Feeling it on his cock is completely different to feeling it on his mouth, and he hasn't fucked anyone bare in years.

Down, down, down, until the head of Harry's cock is squeezed so tight his legs shake. If Louis was tight around his fingers, it's nothing compared to the way his hole is clenching around Harry now, still wet and hot and amazing. Louis' eyes flutter shut prettily, like Harry's dick has sent him into his own little world.

And then something goes wrong. It's not slow, it's just frozen. Louis' stuck in place with just Harry's tip in, wings helping him get leverage. The only way for Harry to get more is to fuck up hard into him, but he's all tied up and fuzzy and Louis' giggling at his small efforts. "Wha—?" Harry only breathes, confused and restless and gasping.

"You're really big," Louis says, making Harry squirm even harder. He blinks his eyes into focus and can see for the first time how affected Louis seems. His thighs are trembling gorgeously over Harry's hips and his mouth is gaping like he can't get enough air in, all of it trapped in his heaving chest. Harry could kick himself for even thinking about thrusting up—he doesn't know how long it's been for Louis, doesn't even know what shape of mythical cock he's used to. "Can't take you like this yet."

Harry chokes up a little, not even because of what Louis said, but because he just realised what went wrong. "Don't wanna be tied up anymore," he whispers.

Louis instantly releases the roots holding Harry down, and then climbs off his dick to lie down on top of him, practically crushing him. "You're good, baby, come on, hug me tight."

Harry complies, and instantly feels a million times better, even though he's not inside Louis' perfect body anymore. After so long without the use of his hands, every touch is a gift. Louis' sweaty and hot and solid under his hands, nuzzling into Harry's neck like they couldn't separate even if someone tried to tear them apart. "Sorry."

"Shhh, don't be," Louis whispers back. It sounds like he's smiling, and Harry's heart flutters. "I'll get it, promise. Ride you good and slow 'til I drive you insane with how much you wanna bounce me on your big fucking cock."

If Harry spontaneously orgasms again he will never forgive himself. "Know you could."

"Want something else for the first time though, yeah?" Harry just nods quickly, breathing in the smell of Louis' hair and skin. "How about you fuck me from behind? Could make me feel so good like that."

Oh. Wow. Harry lights up, energised in a heartbeat. Yeah, he can definitely do that. And it's definitely a good idea to change positions, since Harry's way too close to embarrassing himself again. His hold on Louis loosens slowly, breathing him deep and sinking his nails into his skin. They're going to cuddle for five hours after this. Maybe seven.

When Louis manages extracting himself he stays parallel to Harry's prone body, except he gets on all fours and stares at Harry with expectant eyes. "Like this."

Harry scrambles to his knees, and then nearly collapses back on the blanket when he positions himself behind Louis. He just. God, he looks so good like this, ready to be fucked and serviced whichever way he wants. Harry makes full use of his untied hands and grabs Louis' arse, kneading the smooth skin and spreading his cheeks without thinking.

He gasps audibly as soon as he does. Louis' stretched from Harry's dick and fingers, pink and perfect and wet wet wet. He doesn't even notice that he's automatically leaned down to kiss his hole until Louis grunts, "Harry, what are you doing?"

Harry doesn't miss a beat, presses his cheek to Louis' arse like they're magnetised together. "Please."

Louis wiggles his hips, which helps absolutely nothing. "Can't you forget your oral fixation for a minute and just fuck me like a normal person?"

The more Louis says things like that the more he's turned on, and the more he wants to bury his face in Louis' arse and please him again, make him feel so good he forgets about Harry's dick making him uncomfortable. He licks over Louis' hole deliberately and repeats, "Please. I'll feel so much better."

"Ugh," Louis grunts, actually huffy about getting oral from Harry Styles. "Five minutes. If you're not fucking me in five minutes I'll find someone who will."

If Harry had a tail he'd wag it happily. Instead he gives Louis' cheek a smacking kiss and whispers directly to his arse, "Gonna make you come in five minutes."

He feels much more confident and in control of himself this time. It's completely different, when he can use his hands to spread Louis open and put all his skills to use. He licks up and down his crack at first, gathering all the wetness that spread there since he ate him out before. He waits for Louis' frustrated grunt, and then swirls his tongue directly over his hole, moaning himself when he gets to taste more.

He's too needy to tease this time, just goes for it. He leans in until his nose is between his cheeks as well and points his tongue in, squeezing it past Louis' entrance. Louis yelps loudly and falls to his forearms, wiggling out of control. Harry grabs his hips tightly and pushes in even deeper, eyes drifting shut. It takes over all of his senses, doing this. He's giving himself over completely, licking until his tongue hurts, kissing until his jaw hurts, breathing in deep until it's too sweet for him, and then repeating the process.

Louis' a mess this time, and Harry can feel it a lot more clearly than when he was sat on his face. He's shaking, almost hard for Harry to hold still, and keeps pushing back, blissfully demanding more. Harry's happy to deliver, always. Sweeps his tongue back and forth over his sensitive rim and ripping moans out of him.

It's his personal heaven when he screws his tongue in deep and discovers a whole other taste, rich and sweeter, more like cherries. It'll be a good glaze for a cupcake, maybe. He should get Louis on board with that. Maybe after Louis' thighs stop quivering like that against Harry's arms. He's startled out of his thoughts by Louis whimpering, "Harry, fucking—oh—fuck me already, fuck me right now—"

It's tempting. No, it's more like torture, with Louis tasting and smelling so sweet and Harry's cock so hard it hurts. But he started something here, and maybe it's already been five minutes but Harry's face isn't sufficiently filthy yet. He's not as delirious as he was the first time, so he's determined to make up for it by showing Louis he can be good at this, can make him come on this alone. (Louis' second orgasm is always the easiest, anyway.)

Harry goes wild with it, rubbing his whole face against Louis' arse so even his nose gets wet. He can feel Louis dripping over his thumbs between his legs, and it's—it's—fuck. One moment he's biting Louis' cheek hard, the next his tongue is in him so deep he's gagging, and the next Louis thrashes and screams, coming so hard his upper body collapses on the blanket completely.

It feels like fire spreads through Harry, incredible pride and happiness and pleasure mingling. He can only stare in awe at the way Louis' slumped with his perfect arse high up in the air, wet and taken. His back is curved beautifully and even his wings look exhausted, spread wide over his sides. There is definitely glitter on the blanket. Harry could weep for joy.

"Fucking hell," Louis says once he finally catches his breath. His voice is still pitchy, rough from all the yelling. Harry can't imagine what he's going to sound like. "You really love that, don't you?"

Harry can't stop himself. Louis' just too wet and open and ready, and Harry fucks two fingers into him while his arse still twitches. Louis just melts even more into the blanket, apparently not that surprised. "I love you," Harry corrects, hoarse.

"Don't get sappy on me," Louis reprimands. He probably meant to sound snappy or demanding, but he sounds completely fucked out and wrecked. "Just get on me."

So Harry does, finally. He grabs his hips tight enough to bruise and lines up, meeting a lot less resistance than last time. Louis' instincts were right, of course. When he's this satisfied and comfortable, it's only too easy for Harry to slip inside him. He's so wet and welcoming Harry fills him up completely on the first slow thrust, hips flush against his arse. Louis makes a drawn out, ragged sound, pleased like Harry's never heard him before. "There's my big boy."

Oh. He knows even before starting that he's not going to last long. And then he starts, and Louis' so fucking tight and drags smoothly and sighs happily and takes it like they were made for this. He's not going to last long at all. "Faster, baby," Louis hums. "Got it—nngh—got it right already."

Harry clings to the instruction, would take any opportunity to give it to Louis the way he wants it. He fucks him faster, until the friction is unbelievable and it's loud when he knocks into Louis' arse. Almost loud enough to drown out Louis' dazed chorus of yeah yeah there there there, and at this point Harry doesn't know what sounds better.

Louis doesn't warn him before he comes, just clenches tight as a vice and keens, glitter exploding right in Harry's face since he was leaning over him. He coughs a little, completely stunned, which only makes Louis laugh. While on his dick.

Harry doesn't last one second longer, coming deep inside Louis' arse and then fucking him through it, pumping his come inside until it hurts too much and he has to pull out. His heart is banging in his ears and he thinks he might never take in a normal breath again, not as long as his dick is wet.

Wet. Fuck, now Harry has to deal with Louis' arse being even more wet, this time with his own come, marking him up in white.

It's probably not surprising that he leans down and licks his own come out of Louis' arse.

It's definitely surprising that Louis comes for the fourth time and then basically passes out. He's the most aggressive big spoon to have ever spooned Harry.

He might be in more bone-deep, soul-releasing, mind-numbing contentment than he's ever been.

And he's covered in fucking glitter.

Chapter Text

"Winning Battle of the bands and playing to that many people really showed me that's what I wanted to do. Like, I got such a thrill when I was in front of people singing, it made me wanna do it more and more."

Technology is extraordinary. Louis' been left to his own devices—to Harry's laptop, more precisely—barely three hours ago, and he already found a priceless treasure: YouTube. He's been watching backwards, from Harry's band performing at Madison Square Garden last year to Harry's very first X Factor audition four years ago. The plan was to find incriminating things to mock Harry with, but now he's just stuck with twenty tabs Harry's Wikipedia page linked him to and a lump in his throat.

Harry's changed so much since he was sixteen, physically and in his attitude, but the bright-eyed passion must be in his core. Louis doesn't relate to the humans who hid in bins just to catch a glimpse of Harry, but he does understand them.

"And you'll be happy to hear that I'm going to be agreeing with Nicole, you're through to the next round."

Louis smiles for the happy boy on the screen. He already knows how this ends, but there's so much tension in this strange show. He spent more nights than he could count performing in the woods with his friends, but he's not sure he would've made it out of The X Factor alive on his own.

"There you are!"

For a confused moment Louis blinks at the laptop, but then he realises his Harry said that right now, not the sixteen year old curly muppet he's been watching. He pauses the video and lifts his head, looking around. Harry's standing by the door to the balcony, carrying more bags than a human hand should be able to hold. His hair is loose since Louis played with it before, pushed back from his face by a pair of orange sunglasses. Louis smiles automatically. "Here I am."

Instead of replying, Harry stares at him for a beat too long, and then clears his throat. "Not that I don't appreciate having a naked boy in a tree on my balcony, but aren't you cold?"

"Don't be daft," Louis dismisses him. He's used to all kinds of weathers; it's better to be a little chilly than to wear clothes. He gets an idea, watching Harry's bottom lip pop in a pout. "Besides. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm."

Every frustrating minute of trying to understand the Internet and find random performances is worth it for the dimpled, breathtaking smile that gets out of Harry. He actually twirls his way to Louis' branch, singing obnoxiously loudly, she says I smell like safety and home, I named both of her eyes Forever and Please don't go.

When he finally reaches him he climbs on the branch and rests his head on Louis' arse, giving it a kiss. Clearly that was the most appropriate thing to do. Louis wriggles a little, but Harry doesn't budge. Whatever. "How was your meeting?"

Harry hums and starts giving Louis' thigh a massage. If there's one thing Louis' learned about Harry, it's that when there is an opportunity to touch someone, he'll take it. "Pretty great, actually. I mean, I didn't sign anything, it was mostly reviewing and negotiating and shit, but they do wanna sign me and I feel like they get where I'm going."

Louis twists his body a little so he can reach back and run his fingers through Harry's hair. "Cool. Where is that, again?" Harry laughs and suddenly Louis feels his teeth sink into his thigh. He pulls his hair. "I'm just asking to know if you actually negotiated, you prat."

Harry gives him a tiny kiss, apologetic. "I told them it's really important for me to write my own lyrics, and that they might be about men sometimes. I figured that's the most subtle way I could've said it, right?"

Louis is far from the expert on subtlety, but he pets him anyway. He might not get the social intricacies of Harry's kind, but he does get that this was a very big deal for him. "How'd they take it?"

"Well." He hesitates, suspiciously enough. "Less subtly. They kind of asked if I had a boyfriend."

That doesn't sound like an appropriate thing to ask at this stage, but what does Louis know. Harry still looks nervous for some reason. Louis frowns, hoping no one fucked this up for him. "And?"

"Well, I—I said yes."

When he doesn't expand, Louis pulls on a curl. "Obviously, but what'd they say?"

Harry looks up from Louis' legs for once and blinks his big eyes. He's silent for a long, confusing moment, and then mumbles, "They were cool about it, actually. I've been working with them for years, it's not like they were surprised."

That's a relief. Louis smiles, pleased. "Simon something, right?"

"Cowell. Wait." Harry sits up, eyes narrowed. Louis puts the laptop on the floor and turns around so he can sit in front of him instead of lie on his stomach. "How'd you know that?"

"I read your mind. It's a fairy thing, didn't I tell you?"

Harry doesn't even hesitate before repeating his question. Louis' tragically failed at maintaining his mysterious magical creature allure. "YouTube," he admits.

Harry's expression goes from delighted to suspicious to horrified in three cycles. "But I downloaded Disney movies."

Louis doesn't follow. "Yeah, but they're boring."

Harry actually gasps and covers his mouth. "We already watched four!"

"Obviously it's fine when we watch them together. You sing and kiss me a lot."

He expects Harry to kick up a fuss again, but instead he's instantly placated. It's almost too easy. Harry shuffles closer to him then, until he hooks his legs over Louis' knees and Louis can't look at anything but his bright eyes. Or maybe his pink lips. "I'm sorry I left you alone," Harry whispers finally. "How is it so far?"

Louis smirks. "You were adorable at sixteen."

Harry huffs and leans in to knock his nose against Louis'. "You know what I meant."

He shuts his eyes and tries to recap. The drive here was pretty awful, Louis regretting not being able to shrink more than ever. Not that the car wasn't spacious, but even with all the windows open Louis felt trapped. When they reached Harry's London penthouse, the first thing Harry did was drag Louis to the balcony and eat him out for thirty minutes, so that was better.

Discovering the huge private balcony was the best part, really. Louis flew around enough to feel more like himself, and when he got tired he had the whole Internet to study and entertain himself. Also, Harry now has apple trees. "It's fine. Just takes some getting used to."

Harry makes an alarmingly sad sound and nuzzles closer. "Sorry."

Louis kisses the corner of his mouth and leans back. "Hey, I wanted to come here. It's better when I'm outside, anyway."

"We can be outside all the time," Harry offers quickly. "I just… I wasn't sure how you'd take to being surrounded by humans."

Oh. Of course he gave it some thought. Louis shrugs. He had wanted to come here, and it's not like he's afraid of humans or anything. They've been his prime source of entertainment for most of his life. He just needs to figure out how to interact with them in their environment. "I don't mind them. Some of them are even alright."

Harry doesn't take the bait. "Are you sure?"

"As long as I'm with you, I guess," Louis sighs.

"Let's go to the pub with the boys, then. And tomorrow I'll take you everywhere with me."

"I'm not saying I can't chill by myself—"

"Everywhere," Harry insists, leaning into him. "We'll get breakfast and I'll show you around and maybe we'll go see Ed or find a way to have sex outside—mmph—"

That's better. Louis kisses him deep and hugs him close. Then, panic. "Hold on, does that mean—clothes?"

Harry jumps to his feet, bouncy as always. "Don't worry!" He runs back to the bags he'd left by the door, and Louis floats behind him. They seem to be all full of clothes. "Surprise!"

Louis crosses his arms over his chest, but he can't hold onto his defiance with Harry smiling this excitedly. "They're for me?"

"Yup. I figured you should have some of your own, since you're gonna be clothed for a while and I don't think my style suits you." Louis gives him a brief onceover—tight jeans, a button-down that is both sheer and has a floral pattern, bright boots with high heels. Using all his superhuman strength, he refrains from commenting. "Just try them out? I promise I thought this out."

He quirks an eyebrow. "Thought this out how?"

"So glad you asked." He bends over the first bag, pulling out a pair of pants. He brandishes them proudly in front of Louis' face. "So, these are called jeggings, but they're more on the eggings side." Before Louis can ask, Harry grabs the jeggings and stretches the material between his hands. "See? They're tight but they're super stretchy, you won't even feel them on you. And they'll look, you know, fantastic."

Next he pulls out a hoodie from another bag that says Vans on it. Louis thought vans were a type of cars. "I got a bunch of these, they're really big and comfy so if you wear a coat, we might not have to tie up your wings at all. Oh!" He shoves the hoodie back into the bag and pulls out a jean jacket from a third bag. "This is the best one."

He straightens up and presents the jacket to Louis, pulling the zipper open and revealing—a tear in the back. "You're gonna shit yourself," Harry announces, coming closer to Louis. "There's an opening in the lining, right in the middle."

"Okay?"

Harry flaps the jacket exasperatedly. "Your wings! We could slip them inside the jacket, so they're not squished under your clothes but they're not visible either. They could wrap around you where the jacket is."

Louis' wings spread in protest. It's truly a sign that he's gone soft for this boy, the fact he doesn't have the heart to tell him that jacket is completely useless unless he doesn't wear anything underneath it. "What's in the last bag?"

"Shoes you just slip on. They're orthopaedic so. Comfy. No heels."

Here are the facts:

  1. The thought of wearing so many clothes makes his skin crawl
  2. Harry went shopping just for him and is clearly proud of himself for his findings
  3. Louis was doomed before Harry even opened the first bag

"Okay," he sighs.

Harry's eyes widen like he expected more of a fight. In a second all the clothes are on the dirty floor and Harry's arms are around him. "Really?"

Louis' huff lands on Harry's full lips. "I suppose."

Harry kisses his breath away, a hundred little kisses planted on his face. "I love you—" two on his cheeks "—I love you so much—" three on his nose "—this is gonna be great."

Louis shoves Harry away when he can't take the sweetness anymore, yelling, "I love you too, calm down already."

Harry wrings his hands behind his back and clicks his heels together, the picture of innocence. Except for his smirk, because of course he fully intended to mess with Louis. "Sorry."

Louis bites his tingly lip and gives Harry a long look. Well. He did go through all the trouble, and Louis was getting a little bored. "Put them on me, then."

Something changes in the air. Harry's timid pose looks less like an act, when his cheeks flush and his eyes widen. No questions asked, no comebacks. Harry just drops to his knees and looks up at him with fluttering lashes. His voice comes out deeper when he says, "Yeah."

Oh. This might be… oh. Louis spreads his legs and lifts one, trying to keep his expression neutral even though he's starting to feel hotter. Harry scrambles to grab the pair of jeggings and then gets one knee up, so Louis can rest his foot on him.

It looks like Harry forgets how to use his hands for a moment. He just stares at Louis' face and leans in to kiss his calf, then his knee, then his thigh. He looks good kneeling, always does. Combined with the careful kissing and the task at hand, it's even more worshipful. Another flash of heat scorches Louis' spine. "Well?"

Harry gulps and nods so fast a curtain of his beautiful hair falls on his face. "Yeah, sorry, yeah."

He takes Louis' ankle and lifts it delicately, then starts squeezing the jeggings past it. Louis loses his balance in the struggle, and finds himself grabbing Harry's hair unfairly hard. Since Harry gasps and hides his face in Louis' now-covered thigh, Louis gets some ideas. Keeping his hand in Harry's hair, he tells him good job and switches feet so Harry can force the other leg on. He gets gentle kisses for every inch of fabric that stretches over him, like Harry can't help himself.

Once he finally gets the jeggings up to Louis' waist, Harry's got both knees on the floor again, and his hands remain on Louis' hips. Louis tugs on his hair again, forcing Harry to look up. His eyes are hooded and there's an even deeper blush decorating his cheeks. "You liked that, baby?"

Harry squeezes his eyes shut and plants his face in Louis' thigh again. He mumbles something Louis doesn't catch, until he pulls on Harry's hair twice, right behind the ear. "Servicing you," Harry slurs finally. "Like that."

The breath catches in Louis' throat. This got very sexual very fast, but that's hardly a bad thing. Not when it comes to lovely boys who want to treat him nice. Harry wants a lot of things. Louis wants to provide. He turns his hips slightly, so instead of his thigh, Harry's face is in pressed to his groin. With Louis' hand still gripping him firmly, there's nowhere else for this to go. "Service me, then."

Harry's dark eyes are nothing but grateful when he looks up at Louis. And fits half his cock in his mouth on the first go.

Maybe wearing clothes won't be so bad.

*

The first step they take on a main street is one full of panic. Louis looks around and there are more humans than trees and suddenly it's hard to breathe. His trapped wings start hurting, so Louis grabs Harry's hand and stands even closer to him. At least that soothes his magic somewhat.

Harry squeezes his hand and looks down under his sunglasses. "You okay, baby?"

Louis' insides might be a little soothed as well. He nuzzles Harry's shoulder for a moment and says, "Yeah. Just need a minute."

Harry must have taken Louis' earlier statement of as long as I'm with you seriously, as he wraps his huge arm around Louis' shoulder and draws him in against his side. It's not even the sudden warmth or contact that comforts him, it's feeling smaller next to him. Louis wishes he could sit in his pocket. He shakes his head to clear it. "Weren't you the one who just explained what PDA means?"

Harry shrugs and hugs him tighter. "Doesn't matter right now. D'you wanna go back inside? I could cook for you. Fancy as all that."

No way. Louis isn't a quitter. "Come on, I didn't put on shoes for nothing."

Harry seems to be considering it, but after a moment he gives in. "Fine. I love you."

He leans down to kiss his cheek. Louis' heart and wings flutter.

The pub is quite close, and as soon as they step in they can hear Niall chattering loudly. Louis feels more at ease now, because if Niall's here that means—his magic fizzles for a moment, reaching out like it usually does when Harry touches him. "Zayn's here," he says.

"Probably," Harry replies. He puts his hand on the small of Louis' back and leads him to a corner booth, as secluded as can be in the small space of the pub. Zayn knows Louis' here, too; he turns his head and smiles at them before Niall even sees them approach.

"H and L!" Niall yells when he does see them, getting up on his feet. He nearly spills his whole pint down his shirt, but he doesn't let it bother him as he pulls Harry in for a hug. It's awkwardly long, but no less than Niall and Louis' secret handshake.

"We late?" Harry asks, sliding into the booth and taking his hat off. Louis fixes Harry's ponytail automatically and then settles in next to him.

"Nah, he wanted to come early just to make sure the beer isn't poisoned," Zayn answers easily.

Niall sticks his tongue out at him. He makes to sit down again, but then pauses mid-step and points at Louis. "Pints anyone?"

"Sure," Harry says. His arm finds its way around Louis' shoulders, like it did outside. Something in Louis eases. Why the fuck is he so tense?

"Wine for me," Louis says quickly.

Niall blinks at him. "Like. A bottle? What kind?"

Harry's probably trying to be quiet, but Louis can feel him laugh against him. Whatever, he doesn't want to conform to beer tonight. He knows wine, he likes wine, he can turn shitty wine into good wine and a little into a lot. He leans over the table and takes Niall's hand, looking him in the eye gravely. "Wine."

Niall squares his shoulders and nods. "Wine."

Barely a minute after he marches off, Zayn makes a pained noise and leans in front of Louis. "Listen, we have to tell Niall you're not human," he whispers. "Keeping things from him stresses me out."

Considering what kind Louis thinks Zayn is, that is completely hilarious. "How long has he known about you?"

"Since we met," Zayn answers. Ignoring Harry's shocked what the fuck?, he quickly adds, "He'll be cool about it, I swear."

"I'll think about it," he decides. Both Harry and Zayn look relieved. Louis cackles and ruffles Harry's hair.

It's alarmingly pleasant for a couple of hours. Niall and Zayn are hilarious and full of stories that shame Harry, and Harry's particularly giggly and rosy-cheeked when he's drunk. Louis is less cute, he thinks; when he's drunk he's mostly loud and handsy.

The important thing is that Harry has kept an obsession secret. "When were you gonna show me that baby names book?"

It was meant to be a whisper. It was not. Harry blushes noticeably and Niall laughs. "He's got the cliffnotes on his phone—oh, hold on!"

He gets up suddenly, digging into his back pockets. He pulls out a phone and, weirdly enough, presents it to Louis. "There you go."

Louis glances at Harry with a quirked eyebrow while taking the phone. It looks brand new. "Thanks, mate."

Harry looks equally confused, until his eyes widen and he starts babbling. "Yeah, thanks for getting it while I was shopping. Shit luck, breaking yours the day before the trip so you couldn't fix it and then accepting my offer of buying you a new one, since you had one before, right, Louis?"

Louis doubts Harry would've been smoother had he been sober. Niall, however, is drunk enough to ignore the over-complicated lie. Zayn just looks extremely uncomfortable and glares at Louis with menacing red eyes. A giggle escapes Louis before he can stop it. "Won't do me much good in the magical forest, you know," he tells Harry.

It was meant to be a whisper. It was not. "What?" Niall asks, ten times more sober and alert.

Louis sighs. How much damage can another human do, anyway? (The answer is a lot, but it's been so long since Louis convinced himself he can trust Harry that extending that trust to Niall is too easy.) He leans in and actually whispers, "Well, Niall, I might be slightly not human."

His heart jumps to his throat when Niall claps loudly and yells, "Aha! I knew it!"

"You did?" Harry asks, mouth gaping.

"You're both rubbish liars," Niall explains. Zayn looks slightly sheepish and a lot pleased. "So my guess is that you're a kind of muse creature? And that's why Harry's been writing songs since we got here."

"He has?" Louis asks, turning to Harry with a smirk.

Harry reaches out just to slap Niall's shoulder. "Ni, it was a secret song," he hisses.

Niall rolls his eyes. "Just because it's about bondage—you know what, you've been keeping a much bigger secret!" His attention resets on Louis. "Not a muse? Are you a werewolf? Are you a ghost?"

"Babe," Zayn cautions gently, laying a hand on Niall's arm.

Niall deflates instantly and looks at Louis apologetically. "I'm just joking, you don't have to tell me. Sorry. Drunk."

It wasn't really funny, but he can't expect a human to heed magical creature etiquette. At least he acknowledged it. "It's fine." He kind of wants to leave it at that, but Harry's giving him the pleading eyes. "I'm a fairy."

Louis kind of expects further offense by Niall saying how cool it is or asking to see his wings, but instead he just looks back at Harry with a charming grin and says, "I wonder what's been inspiring you to write about bondage, then."

Louis barks a laugh and feels slightly lighter. There's a mix of embarrassment and pride on Harry's face that makes him very kissable. He might kiss the song out of him.

"Louis, let's go for a smoke," Zayn says, distracting Louis from Harry's pink lips.

Zayn's already standing up, just looking at Louis expectantly. He shrugs and lets go of Harry's hand, standing up as well. "Sure."

Louis follows Zayn outside until they find a quieter, more secluded alley by the pub. And then Zayn pulls him into a hug. Louis freezes in shock for a moment, but then relaxes and wraps his arms around Zayn's shoulders in return. "Sorry about that," Zayn mutters.

"Don't be," Louis says quickly. "He's Harry's best friend, he had to know."

Zayn smiles broadly when he takes a step back. "Isn't that sweet?" He pulls out a packet and a lighter from his jeans pocket. "Want one?"

Louis takes a cigarette without answering, giving it a good sniff. There's nothing more unappealing than something natural like tobacco mixed with nasty chemicals. He doesn't give it back. Zayn's still smiling when he lights both of them up. "So how's blending with the humans going so far?"

Louis snorts. No beating around the bush, then. He takes a drag to buy some time, only coughing a little. "For the single day I've been doing it, you mean?"

"Big day," Zayn says simply.

He's smoking a lot more elegantly. His eyes are on the red side again. Louis spills his guts without meaning to. "Stressful. It's not like I've never met humans before, I even had a friend once, but I was always—superior to them somehow, scaring them or stealing from them or luring them into my turf to entertain me."

Zayn doesn't seem to get his plight. He only looks charmed. "And now Harry lured you into his turf."

Didn't take much luring. "Sort of. And I don't really know how it works here. They outnumber me. They could hurt me."

"You mean Harry. He could hurt you."

Louis' chest feels big and hollow all of a sudden, air escaping him along with the smoke. Harry could. He could kill him with a few choice words. Zayn knows he's right, his face is smug as well as thoughtful. "Isn't it brilliant?"

Heart still racing, Louis frowns at Zayn. "How the fuck is it brilliant?"

"Love, man. Love is brilliant."

Great. Out of all the magical companions Louis could have landed, he got the craziest. "You're fucking awful," he tells him.

Zayn chuckles and elbows him. "Sorry, got a bit deep there. I'm just… protective of Harry, I guess. I couldn't decide how to feel about him falling for one of our kind."

"But then you realised I'm the best thing that ever happened to him?"

If Louis didn't know Zayn isn't human, the smile he gets would've convinced him. "No joke, mate. You're a good one." Louis isn't that sure, himself. "Which is why I'm gonna help you."

Now he's curious. "By giving me more soulful oneliners?"

Zayn laughs again, dropping his cigarette and stepping on it. "Do you sleep?"

"Not really."

"Good. I'm gonna show you something special tonight."

*

Harry's already asleep when Zayn knocks on the slide door of the balcony. They're cuddling, Louis' nose buried in Harry's hair and his leg thrown over Harry's hip. He's almost too comfortable to move, but he did promise.

"Cool wings," Zayn comments when Louis steps outside, shoeless and shirtless. "Where did you hide those?"

Louis flutters them, pleased. "Harry ties them up before we go outside."

"Kinky," Zayn mutters with a surprised snort.

"Huh?"

He nudges his shoulder. "Remind me to tell you about that later."

"Whatever. Should I cover them? Where are we even going?"

Zayn smirks at him. Louis' getting more suspicious of this secret excursion with every passing minute. "How about you grab a hoodie just in case, but I promise I won't make you wear it unless we have to?"

Louis sighs, mostly to let Zayn know this is such a bother. He could be naked right now, wrapped up around the best human in the world. Instead he needs to tip-toe back inside (not that Harry would wake up—he sleeps like a log, and snores louder than Louis' footfalls), and find Harry's biggest and softest hoodie. It couldn't have taken more than two minutes, but when he steps back out Zayn's halfway through a cigarette.

"What do you get out of that?" Louis asks him, nose crinkling on instinct. "Smoking, I mean."

Zayn shrugs, and Louis notices he's wearing tight jeans and a leather jacket, completely mismatching Louis. Maybe it is cold. He offers Louis a cigarette that he declines this time. "Grounds me here. There's nothing more human than smoking, in my opinion."

"Have you really been here since you met Niall?" Louis asks, more curious than judgemental.

Zayn smiles at him, and stubs the cigarette on the rail. "Do you really wanna know, or do you wanna go on our adventure?"

The answer is obvious, but Louis still crosses his arms, just to be difficult. "Well, how are we gonna get there? I can't fly around humans."

"First of all, it's four in the morning on a Tuesday, so too late to stay up and too early to get up for most humans. Secondly—" He grabs Louis' hand suddenly and in a blink, they're not on Harry's balcony anymore.

Louis knows where they are before he even opens his eyes. There's grass under his bare feet, damp and real and so familiar he could cry. His wings expand faster than he can think, and even if he was surrounded by humans he wouldn't have cared. There's something here, something pure and magical that isn't coming from Zayn or him. He opens his eyes and can't help but smile.

There are buildings around, he knows, and he can hear distant traffic, but it's dark enough to ignore anything but the trees surrounding him and the grass. Louis' so overwhelmed he finds himself on his knees, digging his hands in the dirt. He can feel everything, all at once: how deep the roots run, how close the river is, how many trees there are in the meadow and how many ants travel on them. It feels like magic. "Where are we?" he asks, a little too loudly, too excited.

Zayn plops down next to him with a huge grin on his face. "Hampstead heath. It's a park in East London."

"We're still in London?" he asks, turning to him. "Why didn't you take me all the way to my forest?"

Zayn rolls his eyes. Right, that might have sounded ungrateful. "I'm not allowed to travel that far with someone else."

Louis has to physically bite his tongue to keep the burst of questions in. Zayn must notice, since he changes the subject. "Feel better, though?"

"Loads," Louis replies quickly, lying down so his chest is on the grass too. "How did you find this place?"

"That's my point, mate—it's just a park. We're not in some secret magical hotspot. There's magic everywhere on Earth, kept alive by druids here or shamans and kalku and magi and witches and a million other covens in a million other countries. Obviously it's stronger in certain places, like your forest or my desert, but if you find your element you can keep the magic alive wherever you are. I just guessed you'd connect to nature, so I looked up the wildest park."

Louis leans up on his elbows to give him a hard look. What he says makes sense, Louis recognises that in the part of his brain that ever cared about the Origin of it all, but the rest of him is only more curious about how Zayn learned all that shit. "Tell me your story."

Zayn laughs. "Maybe another time."

"When you trust me more?" Louis asks, half-joking, digging his toe into Zayn's hip.

They sit in silence for a moment. Then, Zayn swallows and whispers, "I'm a jinn."

Louis gathered as much. He doesn't say it, though, since he knows this is a peace offering. A sign of some trust between them. He tries to think of a tactful thing to ask. "Then how come you know so much garbage about druids? You've got a whole parallel universe you can get to, right?"

Zayn doesn't look particularly offended, only a little pained. "One story at a time, yeah?"

"Of course. I'm just trying to say thank you." He keeps poking Zayn with his toe until he gets a tiny smile.  "Now I just need a map of all the parks in London."

"What you need is some practice channelling the magic in the air. It won't be too long before you can walk down the street without stressing out. Or growing trees in Harry's bedroom."

Louis coughs. "He told you about that?"

"If that boy catches a cold, it'll be on your head." Louis' heart warms at his fond tone, but his magic prickles.

Zayn throws a stick at his head.

Louis floats up and grows an enormous tree right under Zayn, causing him to hang onto a branch for dear life.

It's the start of a beautiful friendship.

*

Harry's awake when Louis lands back on the balcony. The joy he feels at that is very brief, when he notices that Harry's pacing and typing frantically on his phone. Concern sinks in him as he opens the slide door and steps inside. "Thought you had a gym to work out in," Louis says.

The joke falls flat, much like Harry's phone, on the floor. Harry turns around, wide-eyed. "Niall didn't answer."

His voice sounds gruff, like he's just rolled out of bed. Zayn brought him back as soon as the sun started rising; Harry can't have been awake that long. He shouldn't be awake now. "What?"

"I didn't know where you were. I thought you might be with Niall or Zayn, but they didn't answer."

Oh. Harry might be upset because of him. Louis steps up into his space immediately, touching Harry's shoulder. "I was. I was with Zayn."

Harry fixes him with a hard look. The effect is still adorable, since his eyes are half-closed and his hair is rumpled from sleep. Louis tries not to coo. "You could've taken your phone with you. I bought you a phone for specifically this reason."

"I just didn't think of it, alright?" He softens it with, "Where would I go, love?"

"I dunno," Harry shrugs. It knocks Louis' hand away, but then Harry shuffles closer to him. "Back home."

Louis blinks at him, and then throws his arms around his shoulders and ropes him in. "I'm right here. It's not like I know how to drive, idiot."

Harry leans into him finally. "I know. You'd be an awful driver."

"Thanks," Louis spits, burying one hand in Harry's hair. It's soft and all tangled up. "Are you gonna keep pouting or come to bed?"

Harry hums like it's the toughest choice he's ever had to make. "Both." Louis arches an eyebrow at him. "What, you had me worried. You could've gotten yourself murdered or something. How immortal are you?"

Louis tuts. That's definitely a discussion for another time. The objective here is to tuck Harry in and make him sleep for a few more hours, until Louis feels less guilty. "C'mon. I'll braid your hair."

They both know he's bad at it, and that Harry's hair is too short for braids to last, but Louis feels like touching him and Harry beams at the suggestion. He hugs Louis tight all of a sudden, leaning in to kiss his neck. Before Louis can start counting his lucky stars for finding such a kissable boy, Harry moves back and wrinkles his nose. "Why are you wet?"

"Thought you liked me wet," Louis teases, too good to pass up.

Harry only blushes the slightest bit. "Not when your chest is cold and damp."

Louis rubs his chest excessively over Harry's, laughing when Harry tries to push him away. "Zayn took me to a park and the grass was wet."

"What is there to do at a park at five in the morning?" Harry gasps overdramatically. "Were you dealing drugs?"

Louis shouldn't mention growing "that special weed" for Zayn. Instead of saying anything, he holds Harry tight and lifts him off his feet, tossing him back on the bed. Harry squawks and starts to turn to his back, but Louis lands on top of him in a second, pinning him to the bed. Harry gives up instantly, doesn't even pretend to struggle. Of course, he goes one step further and says, "If you're gonna fuck me you should let me spread my legs at least."

Louis chokes, staring at the back of Harry's head. He swears he can see the smirk plastered on his face from here. So he spanks him a dozen times, and then sits down atop his back and buries both hands in his hair. "Jesus," Harry gasps, wiggling a little.

It's tempting, painfully so, but they tried only a few hours ago and Harry's lubricant thing felt bad to Louis—the way cigarettes smell—so he made Harry come on three fingers and dirty talk and that was that. Harry said he had an idea, but he obviously didn't have time to follow up on that in his sleep. "No. I'm gonna play with your hair, and you're gonna go back to sleep and forget that you were mad at me."

"Yes, sir."

It doesn't sound like he's joking. Louis guesses he's too tired. He presses a kiss to Harry's strong shoulder and starts pulling his hair into a braid. It's too messy at first, so he has to tug out all the tangles, and then when a normal braid fails he starts making tiny ones at random places. The result is awful. Louis is extremely pleased. "You asleep, baby?" he asks, sometime later.

"No." Harry draws the word out, sounding almost giddy. "Don't wanna fall asleep like this."

Louis gets off his back easily, but Harry only whines until Louis throws a leg over his bum and snuggles in. "Like how?"

Harry thinks for a minute. "Heavy."

Louis turns Harry's head towards him. His green eyes are wide open, pupils blown. Louis kisses his cheek and Harry giggles. "Sleepy?"

"No," Harry says, shaking his head. "Kinda fuzzy. Something else."

That doesn't actually clarify anything. "Talk to me, then."

"You talk."

"Alright. So tonight at the park, we were experimenting." Harry nudges their noses together. Louis guesses it's an attempt to show confusion. "With magic."

"Oh. Magic stuff." He sounds sad, in sharp contrast to the giddiness from before. Louis doesn't like this better.

"Would you like to hear about his theory?"

Harry lights up. "Please."

"What do you know about druids in the UK?"

It goes on like that. Louis tells him what Zayn said, asking Harry enough questions that at some point he snaps out of the fuzziness and can build long sentences. They discuss until the sun is too bright through the balcony door, but the thought of leaving Harry to close the curtains makes Louis feel queasy, so he encloses their bed with a canopy of leaves.

"I need you more than this," Harry whispers, more than half asleep.

Louis stops stroking his hair, heart in his throat. "What do you mean, sweetheart?"

"I know it's stupid. I know that coming here is all about moving my life forward. But when I thought you were gone… I need you more than this," he repeats. "You weren't meant to be just a stepping stone on the way to making me better. I couldn't just let you go, even if I had to."

Louis doesn't breathe. "You don't have to."

Harry finally drifts off, head tucked under Louis' chin.

It's six long hours of quiet thinking.

(Harry apologises in the morning. Tells Louis that all the touching and commanding took him somewhere, and that he's sorry he didn't warn him. Louis tells him he's got nothing to apologise for, that he was just his sweet self and it felt nice to cuddle. Harry got a hint teary-eyed.)

*

Louis should've known Harry would go overboard. That "of course, nature" would lead to "His Majesty, welcome to the Royal Botanical Gardens."

He blinks at the sudden light once Harry takes his hands off Louis' eyes, more surprised by Harry's manic grin than the flowers in front of him. And behind him. And besides him. "Holy shit," he mutters, heart soaring.

It's fucking beautiful here. And Louis' no stranger to flowers, so it means a lot coming from him. Harry couldn't look smugger. "Fancier than where Zayn took you, yeah?"

Louis barks a laugh. "Can't lie down shirtless here, though."

It's around noon, and the place is crowded, cameras flashing and conversations flowing in at least ten languages. Above all else, though, is how warm Louis feels, like his magic is clinging to the surface of his skin and begging to play with the flowers and trees. The colours are gorgeous and the smell is almost stifling. He couldn't care less that he has to wear clothes and that his wings are bound. And Harry probably knows it, since he punches Louis' shoulder and says, "Dick."

Louis laughs again, happy, and wraps an arm around Harry's waist. "Guess it's alright."

Harry pulls Louis in by the shoulder and for a strange moment they're twirling. Harry's just a strange person, overall. "You're alright."

Instead of replying, Louis kisses Harry. It's only a peck, but when he pulls back Harry looks scandalised, as if Louis just sucked his dick in broad daylight. "Sorry," Louis says quickly, looking around to see if anyone else reacted.

"No, it's." Harry tightens his hold on him. Sometimes Louis still thinks it's incredible how they fit together. "Don't worry about it. You can always kiss me. I was born for kisses." He puckers his lips ridiculously, leaning down. Louis rolls his eyes, but allows him a kiss.

The gardens are fucking massive. Louis loses interest after the first hour, but Harry's abnormally cute when he pulls out a map and starts telling Louis the history of every single exhibit, so Louis doesn't complain. He does lead them to dark corners for snogging purposes. It feels like home, kissing Harry under trees and holding his hand nonstop. It feels warm.

"I love you," Harry whispers in his ear. "You make it easier."

"Hugging?" Louis asks, tucking his hand in Harry's back pocket like he's seen a girl do with her boyfriend (he assumes). "I agree the height difference is convenient."

"No—well, yeah. But I meant being back here. Meeting all these businessmen."

I need you more than this. Louis pinches Harry's bum. "How's that going?"

Harry shrugs. "Well, I think. There was a part of me that thought they wouldn't even recognise me, let alone want to work with me. But I guess the old Styles charm hasn't worn off yet."

Louis grins. He tries to remember what Niall explained to him the other night about what Harry's actually doing here. "So everyone wants to sign on you?"

Harry smiles at him crookedly. "Sign me. And yeah. I mean, not everyone, obviously, but my band's label does. Said they could make me the British Justin Timberlake." Louis blinks. "He's a singer that used to be in a boy band but then released solo albums through the same labels and kind of exploded. He acts, though, I can't act. The comparison was mostly funny because in his band there was also a gay guy. But he never went solo, so. He's a funny guy."

"That's where the comparison ends, then," Louis teases.

Harry pouts at him. "Shut up. They laughed at my jokes."

"They wanna hire you. I'm already your boss."

Harry looks like he wants to say something snappy back, but then he lifts their entwined hands and kisses Louis' knuckles. His heart skips a beat. "Whatever gets you through the night."

"Did you tell them you're in?" Louis asks, trying to clear his head.

"Not yet. I'm still not sure I'm ready."

"You should bait them. Tell them you're shopping around, but really write some songs and find your sound. You know you're ready."

Harry's mouth actually drops open in surprise. "Look who's got a business plan."

"I'm just looking out for you," he says, being his considerate self. "Also, you know what's a good place to write songs in peace and quiet?"

Harry smiles like he already knows. "No idea."

"Oh well," Louis says, detaching from Harry so abruptly Harry gasps. "Guess we'll have to find a place for you. Away from me."

He starts running. Harry follows, yelling after him. Louis has to suppress every urge to create quicksand in Harry's path.

Half an hour later they're resting again on the grass, Louis eating ice cream and Harry looking something up on his phone. At some point, while Louis contemplates how extraordinary frozen vanilla is, Harry turns to him with a mischievous smile. "Do you think you'll show up on pictures?"

"Huh?" Louis asks, though not curious enough to stop munching on the cone and getting ice cream everywhere.

All of a sudden there's a camera trained on him, one he didn't even know Harry carried in his bag. There's a click, and then Harry shouts triumphantly. "You do!"

"What the fuck just happened," Louis asks after a final slurp.

"I just captured the first ever picture of you! Can you believe it?" he sounds more excited than he did watching Louis smell some pretty flowers, which counts for a lot.

"Is it good?"

"You blinked and there was shit all over your face," Harry says between giggles. "It's perfect!"

Louis grunts and cleans his face with a napkin, leaning back on the tree next to Harry. "Show me."

Harry clicks on a bunch of random things and suddenly there's a tiny Louis on the screen. It's completely bizarre. Louis' familiar with the concept of portraits, but he's never had the chance to star in one, seeing as cameras don't work in the forest. This actually is the only picture of himself in the world. "That's just not fair."

Harry grins. "Let me take more? Promise they'll be better."

Louis juts out his chin. "If you must."

Harry's in a frenzy from that point, clicking faster than Louis thought Harry Styles was capable of moving. He's not posing or anything, feels kind of awkward. In half of them he's making a face or pointing at the tree with his mouth open on a curse or both. It's worth it for the moment he catches Harry staring at the little screen of his camera dopily and says "I love you". To him, Harry says, "This is the best date ever. I'm awesome."

"Banging," Louis agrees, and then steals Harry's camera and climbs the tree.

The top of Harry's angry head is immortalised in the camera. Louis loves it too.

*

"I don't have the only picture of you," Harry says a few hours later, white as a sheet.

"What?" Louis asks, alarmed.

Harry's just stepped out of the shower, and he's staring at his phone like it offended him. "People must have recognised me at the gardens today," he says, stock-still by the door.

"Despite your clever disguise as a glitter-booted newsboy? I'm shocked."

Harry finally looks up from his phone, if only to glare at Louis. "There are pictures of us online!"

"Kissing pictures?" Louis asks, slowly remembering why that might be a stressful thing for Harry.

"Not that I found. Mostly holding hands and laughing." His face softens as the sentence goes on.

Louis finds himself smiling. "Are they good pictures?"

"Perfect," Harry says.

"Do you wanna go home?"

Harry dumps his phone on the nightstand and jumps on the bed. "Yeah. I'm too used to peace and quiet now. Need to adjust slowly."

Louis leans on his elbow as Harry lies down next to him. He kisses him with a smile and wraps his hand around his dick. "Let's go slow."

*

Harry changed everything. Louis should've realised that already, given the fact he spent the past two weeks surrounded by a million humans and only a jinn for company. But he didn't think about it then, too caught up in sex and shopping and parks and drinking and urban magic and Harry. He thinks about it now, back in his forest, back home.

Harry changed everything because Louis is bored out of his fucking mind.

"What did I do all the time?" he asks a confused fawn, who, even in his frustration, makes him think of Harry.

He knows every tree here by name, knows the lengths of these mounds and the temperature of these waters. He can't think of a single random adventure to go on. Because Harry brought something into his life that wasn't there before. Well, other than human dick and skateboarding.

It was the concept of a schedule. Humans operated in cycles: Harry slept, ate, did something, ate, did something else, fucked Louis, showered with Louis, ate, did something on his phone, and slept again. Getting swept into that routine was surprisingly easy (except that Louis ate more, didn't sleep and still hasn't fucked Harry). Right now, Louis has a blank schedule. And he's talking to deer about how bored he is. Naturally.

The fawn doesn't answer, so Louis tries to think himself. All he can remember about his routine from before was waiting for Harry to show up and sing, and hanging out with Liam every once in a while. He can't imagine how that was enough. (Maybe it wasn't. Maybe he had these same thoughts when he was in the old forest with his family. The same feeling that drove him out of there.)

And so, barely three days after coming back home to his own space, he travels to Harry's mansion.

Harry overreacts completely—screaming and flapping his arms. Though that might be because Louis surprised him while he was taking a bath. "Are you not used to strange men surprising you in the shower?" Louis wonders, crossing his arms.

Harry slaps a hand over his heart. "For some reason, no, I'm not. Should've gotten a restraining order while I was with my lawyers."

"Restraining?" Louis asks, mind conjuring beautiful images of Harry's wrists tied in anything from rope to vines. "Should've come to me for that."

Harry blinks in confusion. He looks a little ridiculous and a lot pretty, suds covering him all the way to his chin and stray curls escaping his hair tie. "I figured you might need some space to do magic things."

"That's absurd," Louis huffs. "Why do magic when I can do you?"

"Such a sweet-talker," Harry says with a dirty grin, dimples out. Louis missed him. Harry stretches his arm out of the bath, dripping water on the floor. "You gonna come in or do I come out?"

Louis eyes the spacious bath. "Will you make me shower before?"

Harry only smiles harder. "Yup. But then you can choose if you wanna sit over there—" He stretches his legs so his toes peek from the other end of the bath. "Or over this." He points his dick up so the head passes the surface of the water. Of course he does. When did Louis decide this is better than his entire lifestyle?

"I love you so much," Harry whispers, barely heard over the splashes Louis' wings create when he sinks all the way down over Harry's long cock, ten minutes later.

Maybe that had something to do with it.

"You're alright too," Louis says, mostly to make Harry grunt and grab his arse roughly. "I guess."

"Oh, you guess?" He attaches his mouth to the crook of Louis' neck and starts sucking, leaving a bruise that tingles down Louis' spine. His nails dig into Louis' arse, urging him to grind faster.

It always feels good to ride Harry, to stretch wide over him and take him as slow or fast as he wants. This feels special, though. Their limited space doesn't allow Louis to throw Harry around like usual; they're squeezed together with Harry's head buried in Louis' neck and Louis' arms wrapped so tightly around his body that his cock keeps rubbing against his abs. He can't even bounce right, forced to rock his hips back and forth and try to keep breathing despite how good all this feels on his spot.

"I love you too," he admits between gasps, scratching down Harry's back after a particularly good roll.

"Wanna keep you like this forever," Harry whispers, bucking his hips to get some friction. Louis doesn't allow him too much jostling, gets off both on feeling Harry buried so deep in him and on torturing him with it. So Harry releases a frustrated moan and slides a finger between Louis' cheeks, alongside his cock. Louis' so full it doesn't make much of a difference, but Harry grunts like he's absolutely amazed, and Louis feels scorching heat pierce through him. "Feel so tight and wet on me, fuck."

Louis' eyes widen and the world stops. Wet. Of course he's wet, Harry's gorgeous and soft and slippery and fucking him so good he feels boneless. Underwater. But. Wet. The answer to a whole other problem. Louis' a smart guy, but he's a genius when there are eight inches of dick in him. Suddenly energised by his idea, he clenches his arse at the same time as he comes up and bears down hard, water be damned.

Harry clearly wasn't expecting the sudden shift. His knees jump so Louis slides even closer in his lap, and he bites Louis again. "If I stay like this forever you'll never get fucked," Louis points out, barely hiding his excitement.

"Shit," Harry groans, even louder than before. "Shit, yeah?"

"If you still—still want to," Louis teases, voice cracking because Harry didn't really wait for a reply before he began fucking him faster.

Harry bites his earlobe then, panting and making Louis shiver all over. "Fucking—Louis, close—can I come?"

It's an easy choice. "No."

Harry doesn't miss a beat before asking, "Can I make you come?"

Louis smiles into Harry's hair and clenches again. "Of course."

"Oh, thank you." He jerks him off with a vengeance, pumping his hips fast like Louis weighs nothing underwater.

Louis comes before he even expects it, and gasps brokenly when Harry fucks a finger into him again. "God, baby, such a good boy," he breathes. "Fuck me so good."

Harry whines into Louis' chest, teeth teasing his nipple. "Please, fuck me, please."

"Let's go to bed, then." If he thought Harry would lift him up and throw him on the bed, he was mistaken. Harry's slow and dizzy—fuzzy, like he said—and Louis helps him stand on shaky legs and towel dry. He's so hard any wrong move would set him off, so Louis tries to gentle him, whispers in his ear and holds his hands all the way to the bedroom.

He kisses his cheeks just to make him giggle, and then says, "I want you on your back. Legs spread wide, hands behind your head."

"Yes," Harry says quickly, practically skipping to comply. He's stunning like this, his long limbs stretched and waterdrops still clinging to all the runes Louis put on him over the months. He's stunning because his strong muscles are bulging and his chest is rising and falling fast, his cock so hard it's curving over his tummy. He's stunning because despite it all, he's still perfectly pliant for Louis, lying obediently in the position he chose and biting his pretty lip while he waits. Louis can still feel him inside, didn't bother cleaning out despite being in an actual bath. It makes him want to push even more.

"Such a good boy," he starts, kneeling on the bed and then climbing over Harry's body, until he's straddling his chest. Harry's adoring eyes travel all over Louis' body, settling on his half-hard cock. He actually licks his lips. Louis swallows a gasp. "That's no good for fucking you yet, is it?"

Harry shakes his head, and already inches his face closer to his cock. He looks up at his face, green eyes dark and hooded and irresistible. "Let me help, please?"

Louis grabs Harry's hair with one hand and the base of his cock with the other. Before he even moves, Harry opens his mouth wide, perfect pink lips just waiting. Louis gives him his cock slowly, gasping at the way Harry sucks on him from the start. It's wet and tight, Harry's tongue restless since he can't stop himself from moaning, because he loves this, loves having Louis inside.

Louis can only stare at his cock fucking in between Harry's stretched lips. If he looked good before, he's exquisite now; cheekbones popping and eyes shut in pleasure. He hardens in barely a minute, but he can't stop himself, Harry as dedicated as always to make him feel good. Louis thinks about how tight his arse will feel, how then his mouth will be free to scream his head off when Louis fucks him for the first time. He clenches at the thought, feels wet between his cheeks.

He pulls out from Harry's mouth, savouring the moment when Harry's tongue tries to chase him and he blinks his watery eyes open. Louis wipes his temple with his thumb, grip still tight on his hair. "You wanna be a good boy, yeah?"

"Always," Harry whispers, voice cracking around the edges.

Louis moves back so he can plant a kiss on Harry's puffy lips. "It's gonna be hard for a while, but I want you to try and stay good. Stay still and do what I say."

"Yeah, yes, promise," Harry says, eyes lit with excitement. He knows Louis' got an evil plan now.

Louis kisses him one more time, and then rolls off the bed. Harry survives that first test; even though he makes a pleading sound, his arms stay under his head and his legs stay open. Good. Louis turns to the bottom drawer of Harry's dresser, scrabbling through the lubricants and rope (and paddles and canes) until he finds what he needed.

"Oh," Harry lets out, sounding eager but looking confused. Louis laughs and climbs back on the bed. He flattens his wings so it doesn't hurt when he lies down on his back opposite of Harry, knees propped up over Harry's thighs.

He's never actually used one of these before, but the vibrator goes inside him smoothly, after being fucked open on Harry's sizable cock and staying wet. He's still got Harry's come in him, fuck. The silicone feels odd and unnatural, not something Louis can really give into, but it's worth it for Harry's reaction.

Harry's next oh sounds destroyed, and even though Louis' eyes threaten to drift shut, he can't miss Harry watching him like this. His eyes are wide and his mouth is gaping, lips still shiny and raw. His cock looks so hard it hurts, and Louis arches his back a little.

He fucks himself faster, turning his wrist with every thrust because the ridges on the vibrator create different sensations when they rub up inside him. It's got nothing on Harry's cock, but it's good, as good as it always is to get fucked. "Never seen it from this angle, did you?"

It's like the question jolts Harry awake. He whines and his hands, though still behind his head, start tugging on his hair roughly. It looks like the only thing stopping him from grabbing Louis and taking care of him his way is discipline. "Please, please, let me."

"Let you what?" Louis asks, moaning (slightly exaggeratedly) and raising his hips so Harry can see the way he's pumping the vibrator in and out.

Harry sees. Harry grunts and his legs shake. "Turn it on."

Louis almost misses what he says, as one of the ridges just scraped his spot and his brain shorted out for a moment. Finding the button is challenging, both because technology is confusing and because he got the vibrator wet all down to the handle.

Once he manages, his moans aren't exaggerated anymore. Harry might actually be louder, though, staring at Louis like he could rip through him. The vibrations feel fucking amazing, buzzing harder and harder against all the right places. When it's too much, when he has to have some friction, Louis starts fucking himself again, pulling out slow and pounding in hard. Every time he does, Harry's hips snap up. For a blissful moment Louis forgets about the plan altogether and thinks about hopping back on Harry's dick, or better—making himself come from this and seeing Harry break.

"Please," Harry whispers, twitching like he might come untouched. That would just be a waste.

Louis turns the vibrator off and pulls it out, stretching his legs for a moment to catch his breath. Harry nudges him with his toe. Louis laughs and sits up, rearranging them so he's sitting between Harry's legs. Harry's hips are still rolling, like he's under the impression he's going to fuck Louis again after all that.

Louis quickly corrects that impression when he spreads Harry's cheeks and rubs the entire length of the vibrator over his hole. Harry squirms wildly, surprised. Louis sits down on Harry's thigh to settle him, but Harry only sounds more desperate when he feels how wet Louis' arse is against his skin.

He only manages to stay still when Louis coats two of his fingers with his own wetness and slides them into Harry's arse slowly. Harry's legs spread and he lets out the longest breath, relieved and overwhelmed all at once. Louis keeps it slow, more concerned with slicking him up than fucking. Harry's back arches higher every time Louis curves his fingers, spreading them as much as he can. Harry's tight and beautiful and Louis should probably spend another minute on this instead of pulling his fingers out and pushing the sticky vibrator in.

"Yeah," Harry says on another long sigh, obviously not complaining. He just squirms again, until Louis' hand, wrapped around the handle, touches his arse. "More, please, fuck."

Louis obliges. He turns his wrist the way he liked it and starts pumping the vibrator in and out faster, pulling high-strung whimpers out of Harry. His chest heaves and he's clawing at the pillow, hips fucking back against Louis. On a whim, Louis pinches his hard nipple with his free hand, twisting it roughly at the same time as he twists the vibrator.

Harry's whole body shudders, sinking into the sheets like Louis could go any deeper. Louis flattens himself over Harry's side, kissing his overheated cheeks and breathing in his ear. He smells amazing, like sweat and his fancy conditioner and fucking. It's almost too hot, but Louis can't bring himself to stop touching him.

It's like he can feel it himself when he turns the vibrations on. Harry cries out and wraps his arms around Louis, finally breaking his hold on the pillow. He squeezes them so closely together Louis almost loses his grip on the toy.

Harry starts rambling, nails digging into Louis' neck, please please Louis oh daddy please need you. Louis fucks him harder and whispers, "Tell me what you need."

Harry whimpers again, quiet and sweet, like he might be crying a little. "Your cock, please."

"You like begging for it?" Louis asks, squeezing a leg between Harry's thighs to put more pressure when his wrist starts aching. "Begging for my cock? You have for weeks."

Harry only holds him tighter, face fiery when he buries it in Louis' neck. "Fuck me, please, yes, yes."

"You gonna come all over yourself when I do?" Louis asks, not sure himself what possesses him to keep teasing Harry. He just sounds so beautiful like this, body arching and bowing like he's out of control. Because of Louis.

Instead of another chorus of yes, Harry whispers, "Whatever you say."

It's a good answer. "Perfect boy," Louis praises, kissing Harry's neck gently and finally turning the vibrator off. He draws it out slowly, but doesn't give Harry a second before he kneels between his legs, hoists his thighs up and slides in himself. Harry chokes on a moan, grabbing onto Louis like he might pass out if he doesn't.

He feels spectacular, better than Louis thought he would. He feels tight and hot and perfectly welcoming. Of all the dopey or sexy thoughts he should be having, the one that crosses his mind is that Harry's going to be pissed when he gets glitter all over his bed. "My perfect boy," Louis says against Harry's lips, pressing their foreheads together. "You can come, baby."

Harry doesn't need much more than that. Just like Louis predicted, Harry gets off three thrusts in, squeezing around Louis so hard it hurts a little. He's shaking, making the most amazing sounds as he seems to come for ages. Louis follows a few desperate thrusts after, wrapped up in Harry's heat.

His thighs give out and he collapses on top of Harry, pulling out carefully. Harry wraps a leg around Louis and curls up into him. "Don't go," Harry murmurs into his neck, hugging him so tight it's hard to breathe.

"Baby," Louis chuckles, brushing Harry's hair out of his nose. "I'll never leave if you keep holding me this way."

"Good," Harry purrs, smiling happily. "Was I good?"

They spend the next ten minutes with Louis counting the ways he's good—the very best—and Harry giggling/snoozing on Louis' chest. "Are you tired?" Harry asks suddenly, sounding much more like himself.

Louis quirks an eyebrow. "Not really. I'm starving."

"Perfect. Go fix yourself some cereal. I've got a song to finish."

Normally Louis would argue, and win, and they'd end up with Harry making him pancakes, but right now Harry's given Louis an escape from glitter-cleaning duty, so he fucking takes it.

Naked songwriting goes a bit like this:

Harry's sitting between Louis' legs and scribbling on his notebook, and Louis' aggressively sipping on the fruit shake he made them because Harry made him swear both to be quiet and not to peek.

Of course he peeks. He can't really understand Harry's handwriting, but it must be the song Niall talked about because there's definitely a mention of being tied up.

When Harry's hand slows down, Louis wraps his arms around his stomach and kisses his ear. "You've been writing this one for a while, haven't you?"

Harry melts into Louis' chest, smacking his lips annoyingly until Louis pours some of the shake into his mouth. He smiles and licks his lips after. Louis should fuck him again.

"Yeah, it's been on my mind a lot. It's like a metaphor about fame and fortune. But also sex." He smirks at Louis like he thinks he's clever. "You figured it out, though."

"Me?" Louis asks, frowning.

"The chorus. Oh, baby look what you've done to me, look what you've done now. Baby, I'll never leave if you keep holding me this way."

He snorts. "Please, I didn't do anything but provide a cock."

Harry sighs happily and grinds back against Louis' dick, making his heart jump. "Good cock. Inspirational cock."

Louis wiggles back. "It likes you too."

Harry turns his head just enough to give him a cheeky look. "Enough to fuck some more inspiration into me? I'm feeling a little dry."

Louis bites Harry's bottom lip. "Always."

"Can I make a suggestion, though?" Harry whispers hesitantly.

"Of course, baby."

"Not that what we did wasn't life-changing—like, wow, watching you fuck yourself was definitely something I needed to see before I died, and I don't think there's even a name for exchanging your fluids—"

"What's the suggestion?" Louis cuts him off, cheeks burning.

"Well, I actually found some organic water-based lube that I think you'll like? It's 100 percent natural. It just might, you know. Save us some time."

Louis laughs all the way to the bedroom.

*

Harry's "on a roll". Which is apparently the human way to say he's gone mental. "It's good, it's my calling," Harry insists, not even looking up from his notebook as he swings in the hammock they built together in Louis' patch.

"But haven't you written them all? It's been a week," Louis grumbles. It's not that he's not proud of Harry for doing so much shit and being so excited about it—an excited Harry is quite adorable—but he used to get more attention for naked sweaty woodworking.

"It takes time to write songs. I'm just riding out my muse." Before Louis can complain some more, Harry finally peeks at him from over his notes. "Am I bothering you?"

"Of course not, I just—I'd rather you ride out my face instead."

Harry can't seem to decide between laughing and looking fond. "Baby, it's all because I started riding your cock. You only have yourself to blame."

Louis fucking knows that. He's the problem. He keeps accidentally lighting Harry up with ideas.

Like when they were home and Louis fucked Harry so hard bent over the dresser that he couldn't walk without stumbling. He really pampered him afterwards, showered him and brushed his hair for him and then curled up behind him as the big spoon.

Harry giggled, as loose and soft and delicate and pretty as he always is after Louis roughs him up and coddles him. "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

Louis' eyes snapped open. "What? I don't have pockets."

"No, it's—a reference. A joke," Harry corrected drowsily.

"Oh." He thought about that joke for seven hours, until he figured he was allowed to wake Harry up. "Hazza. H." He grinded his hard cock against Harry's hipbone. "Wake up. I'm a loaded gun." Instead of giving him the congratulatory head he'd banked on, Harry just shot upright and leapt to get his notebook.

"C'mere, I'm sorry," Harry says in an overly bright tone, rocking the hammock gently.

"Where?" Louis asks, petulant.

Harry slaps his thighs. "I'd come to you if I wasn't sure I'd break the hammock or fall on my face or both."

He's got a point. Louis nearly upturns the hammock himself, but the wings save them. He lands on his front, lying half on top of Harry and holding his breath. After a minute of dangerous swinging, the hammock stills and Louis lets out a laugh. "Was it worth it?"

Harry gives him a bright grin and hugs him with the arm that isn't trapped under Louis' body. "Always. Do you wanna help me, maybe?"

Well. If Harry's not going to stop, the least Louis could do is get involved. Feeling almost as important as he should feel, Louis nods and rests his head on Harry's shoulder. "Which one is it?"

"The one about sex," Harry says into his hair, a little rushed.

Louis snorts. "Which one?"

Harry nudges him. "The morning wood one."

"Oh, I like it! Let me see." Harry passes him the notebook with a shy smile. The song transformed since that hazy morning—looks more like actual lyrics than random phrases like "burn in this all day" and "POWERLESS". There are still some question marks on the page, though.

"I'm trying to figure out the chorus," Harry explains. "'Cause I don't want it to be too vulgar, yeah?"

"More vulgar than I don't wanna wash away your taste on my tongue?"

"That could apply to just a kiss, you know," Harry points out, but his smile is cheeky.

"Not with that mouth and my arse." Louis presses his thumb on Harry's full bottom lip, and Harry nips at it.

"I want the chorus to be catchier. I don't think everyone could sing along to waking up inside you I'm a loaded gun."

Silly humans. "Pity that. Can you sing for me? So I can think?"

Harry nods and takes the notebook from him. Ridiculously, he turns his head and looks up at the sky while he sings. He sounds good even lying down, his voice slow and deep and digging into Louis' chest when he sings about fucking him first thing in the morning. He has to clear his throat when Harry finishes, thoughts completely forgotten. "That's good music, love."

"Thanks," Harry whispers into Louis' hair, sounding pleased.

So Louis whispers too, lips almost touching Harry's ear. "I think it's simpler than you think it is. You can still sing about fucking me into the mattress and then licking the come out of my arse, if you just write about how it feels." Harry makes a soft noise that Louis ignores. "You wrote down powerless, right? Is that how I make you feel?"

Harry nods, but stays quiet. Louis thought Harry's arm has gone numb under his weight, but he can feel it twitch against his hip. He looks down and—yeah, Harry's hard in his jeans. He smirks and unzips them, wrapping his hand around Harry's bare cock and squeezing tight on the head. Harry whimpers. "You like feeling like you've got no control, don't you? 'Cause you're mine?"

"All yours," Harry murmurs, like Louis' casting a spell on him. He's not even moving his hips, just lets Louis touch him as slow and teasing as he wants.

"All mine. My good boy," he adds, just to make Harry sigh. "Got so many runes to prove it, don't you?" He lets go of Harry's cock, ignoring his tiny whine of protest, and pushes up Harry's shirt. The latest rune is right there, Change, in the form of a big butterfly spread on his stomach. Only when he touches it, Harry squirms a little, not enough to sway the hammock but enough to make his cock jerk. "So obvious on you. Can't get enough, can you?"

"Please," Harry whispers, quiet and sweet. Louis looks at his face and finds his eyes closed and his teeth sinking into his lip. It's like he's trying to contain himself.

He's so good he surprises Louis sometimes. "Please what?"

"Touch me," Harry breathes, arm twitching again to roll Louis closer on top of him.

Louis tuts. "Thought you were riding out your muse."

Harry blushes slightly. "Lou."

"You're gonna finish your song, and if it's good enough I'll jerk you off right here in the hammock."

Finally, Harry opens his eyes. They look wilder than he expected. He pouts, lips reddened and wet from all the biting. "Seriously?"

Louis kisses Harry's cheek sweetly, to show that he's just teasing, that Harry's always perfect to him. And then he gives him a good, hard kiss on the mouth, the kind that makes his fingertips tingle and Harry moan. "Seriously."

"Yes, Daddy," Harry says, in agreement or obedience, and picks his notebook up from his chest. It takes him a while, given how cloudy his head must be, but Louis gives his cock an encouraging tug every few minutes and Harry soldiers on, humming to himself.

He presents his notebook proudly to Louis when he's done, and promptly buries his face in Louis' neck. Louis feels very important indeed.

Waking up beside you I'm a loaded gun

I can’t contain this anymore, I’m all yours

I’ve got no control x2

Powerless, and I don’t care it’s obvious

I just can’t get enough of you

He wants to tease Harry about how he should just give Louis song writing credit, but Harry's hips keep moving against his, not subtle anymore. Louis makes good on his promise.

Flopping in the pond mostly clean, much later, Louis brings up the notebook again. "I still don't get it. If you're not in a boy band anymore, why can't you write about being inside people?"

Harry thinks it over for a long moment, floating closer to Louis. "I couldn't pull off Ariana Grande's cat ears."

No part of that sentence made sense. "What are you on about?"

"You know that song about rough sex I played you? Love Me Harder?" Harry asks, like he actually had a point. Louis nods, thinks he remembers something about lip-biting and hard fucking. "So in the music video she kind of touches herself wearing cat ears and lingerie. I don't think I could pull that off."

The water runs a little hotter around them for a moment, unrelated to Louis visualising Harry jerking his big cock in lingerie and furry cat ears. "First of all," he starts, voice pitched low, "that's no reason whatsoever. Secondly, kitty ears would be perfect for you."

Harry sinks into the water until just his head is in view. "I'm not a kitty."

Louis snorts. Harry is more kitten-ish than some cats Louis has met. "What, you can call me silly names but I can't call you a kitten?"

"What d'you mean?" Harry asks, flapping his arms to drift farther from Louis. "What silly names? Baby? That's a perfectly acceptable human—"

"Daddy. You call me Daddy sometimes."

Harry's green eyes widen ridiculously, and then he disappears in the water, apparently trying to drown himself. Louis can't stop laughing, not even when Harry resurfaces with a sputter. "I'm sorry," Harry says finally.

"What for?" Louis asks, swimming over and touching Harry's shoulder.

Harry can't meet his eyes, blushing furiously. "Dropping that on you. I don't really—think, when I do that. I just used to sub for someone—" He trails right off when Louis' hand tightens on his shoulder. "It just fit you. I'm sorry for freaking you out."

Louis wouldn't consider himself freaked out. If he easily accepted that humans call each other baby in bed without associating it with infants, why won't he accept that humans call each other daddy in bed without associating it with fathers? "I don't care. It's just a kink thing, yeah?"

"Oh," Harry yelps, waving his arms so water hits the side of Louis' face. "A kink thing, definitely a kink. How do you even know about—wait, let me just. Explain."

Zayn must not have told him about the education he's given Louis about "kinks" and "BDSM". Louis' still confused about why Harry's making a big deal out of it, but Harry looks like he needs to say something. "Alright. Explain."

Harry nods. "So for me, it's like… the other side of you calling me your good boy. You're just my big strong tree dom, yeah? You take care of me, whether it's by fucking me or tying me up or punishing me or petting me."

That sounds like… what he's been doing so far, basically. "Daddying you."

"I don't think it's a verb," Harry peeps, biting his lip so hard it's turning white.

"Apparently I've been doing it, I can decide if it's a verb," Louis snaps.

"Okay," Harry says quickly, hands up, placating. "I just know not everyone's into it, so I'm sorry for letting it slip without discussing it first."

He hides in the water again, making Louis laugh. "You do get that I don't speak your language, right? The word itself doesn't mean more or less to me than you calling me snuggle muffin."

There's a moment when Louis thinks they both remember the "boyfriend" versus "mate" meltdown. Then Harry's whole face changes, from mortified confusion to fond and smug. "My sweet pea snuggle muffin."

"Tree dom," Louis corrects. More convinced Harry isn't going to drown either of them, he comes up behind Harry and wraps his arms around his shoulders.

Harry has none of it—immediately turning to face Louis and hug him close. "I love you. Thank you for putting up with my muse."

"You're not that much hassle, Harold," he assures him. "You're not Ariana Grande."

Harry splashes him in the face, and Louis threatens to ban him from the forest, knowing before he's even done talking that he never could. Harry belongs here just as much as Louis belongs in his bed. Which is not a lot, not naturally, but Louis truly believes they belong together. If they can make good music together, the rest doesn't really matter, anyway.

*

Harry fucks up.

Not intentionally, and not entirely, but Louis knows Harry fucked up the moment he appears between the trees looking pale and stricken.

"What's wrong, love?" he asks, flying down to meet him and stroking his cheek.

Harry stares at him, unblinking and speechless for a minute. "I think something bad just happened. I think I pissed Liam off."

Louis laughs, relieved. "That's ridiculous, he hasn't even met you."

Harry shrinks in front of him. "Um. He just did."

Oh. Louis' stomach tightens up and his heart sinks. That—doesn't make any sense, it shouldn't have—Harry wasn't supposed to just get lost wandering the woods. He knew the path to Louis' patch, and Louis' magic automatically cleared the path for him, Louis sensed when Harry approached… but he hasn't recently, has he? This is the first day Louis' been here in a week; they were holed up in Harry's house finishing his lyrics. They've been spending so much time there, maybe Louis was confusing sensing with anticipating.

His manic thoughts screech to a halt at once. The runes. It's so obvious now, looking at him, feeling him. Harry's covered in magic. It makes him a beacon in the human world, but here he blends right in. Louis' magic doesn't react negatively to him anymore, nor protects him. Harry stopped getting on his radar.

Of course he got off the path. There are no paths in the magical wilds of this forest.

Louis' wings spread, heart hammering. There's still hope, it was Liam, for fuck's sake, Liam's practically harmless. Harry could've run into much beastlier kinds. "What happened?"

"I was just trying to be friendly!" Harry says in a panic, now sure he fucked up. Louis' instinct is to calm him down, but he honestly has no idea what they're facing. "I haven't been here in a while so I got a bit confused, but I just kept going. And then I ran into a centaur."

Louis has no doubt that Harry means that literally. "Then what happened?"

"Well, I nearly fainted, what the fuck is a centaur doing here? But then I recognised him because there were flowers on the tip of his tail, and I remembered that you told me how you stuck them there as a prank. It was a good one, too—"

Louis shakes Harry's shoulder, interrupting the rambling. "What did you tell him?"

"Exactly that."

"Holy fuck." Louis could laugh, if all his fears weren't coming true.

Harry looks close to tears. "What, it was a funny story! I thought he'd be less likely to trample me if he knew I knew you and wasn't just some random traveller."

Fuck. "I think he knew that much, random travellers would never have been able to get as far as his camp."

"I know that," Harry insists. "I showed him all my runes."

And there it is. If Louis were human, he'd pray to the gods right now. "Did you tell him I gave them to you? Does he know I claimed you? That you're mine?"

Harry stammers. "No, I—I wouldn't have, I don't know if the gay thing happens here. I didn't wanna get you into trouble."

"The gay thing?" Louis yells, making Harry jump. "This isn't about the stupid fucking human gay thing!"

Harry's face hardens and he takes a step away from him. "I might be a stupid fucking human, but you're being a stupid fucking dickhead right now," he warns.

Louis' heart aches for a moment, but there's no time to comfort him or reflect on his own dickish behaviour. Because Liam, one of the protectors of this forest, just found a human with a vague affiliation to Louis, drenched in fairy magic, on his turf in the magic woods he was never allowed to enter in the first place.

Willingly exposing his own identity is one thing, Louis' resigned to that risk a long time ago, but endangering his kind and others—risking the whole forest—Louis should never have let that happen. He knew from the first fucking day he met Harry that it's not just dangerous, it's a punishable offense.

The only thing that could've changed Liam's mind is Louis' claim on Harry, his honest love for him, but Liam doesn't know this is personal. He might think Louis played a trick that went awry, or that he'd be doing him a favour by turning Harry in and solving the problem. At least he offered Louis the benefit of the doubt and let Harry go instead of dragging him to the Lair the instant they made contact.

With a chill, Louis knows Liam already reported what he found. He doesn't even blame him. Because it wasn't Harry that fucked up, it was Louis.

He softens his voice despite how much he wants to keep yelling—at himself more than anyone. "I'm sorry."

Harry breaks just like that, coming closer and cupping Louis' face. "It's okay. You're always a dickhead, yeah?"

He winks. It's very inappropriate, given the situation. Louis slaps him to focus. "How long has it been since you saw him?"

"Only a few minutes," Harry says quickly.

Okay. That should give them enough time. "Listen. We're gonna get you out of here, but we have to do it fast."

Harry looks scared again, helplessly confused. "What's happening?"

Louis' heart aches. He presses their foreheads together, staring into Harry's green eyes and forcing himself to believe that—"I won't let anything happen to you. This is my fault, not yours, and I'm going to fix it. But we have to go now."

Harry has a million questions to ask, but when he opens his mouth it's to give Louis a searing kiss. He can't breathe, giving into it without a second thought, because this is Harry and he knows his lips and he knows his heart and he intends to kiss him again. He'll be fine.

Without breaking the kiss, he bends his knees and grabs Harry's thighs, lifting him off his feet. Harry gasps into his mouth and wraps his legs around him, arms tight around his neck. Louis soars.

He thought the first time he took Harry for a flight would be more romantic, but this is nice too, in a hilarious way. Harry's screaming into his neck and refusing to look around, clamped to Louis' body like he'll never let go. Louis' magic is working as hard as his body to push through the air and get them past the trees.

When they land, Harry's legs are so shaky he falls on his arse. Louis goes right with him, so relieved he could cry. The hard part is still ahead, but at least Harry's out. Louis will take care of it. "Lou," Harry says, grabbing him again suddenly. "Just tell me what to do."

Louis kisses his cheek and lingers, savouring his warmth. "Go home."

"Come with me," Harry says instantly.

It's so simple Louis laughs. "I have to find Liam. Do you trust me to keep you safe?"

Harry dismisses it completely. "Keep you safe. Come with me."

"I love you," Louis says, rather than anything else. It's the only thing he can promise. "You're the thing that means the most to me."

"I love you too," Harry says, rushed with a breath. "Hey." He kisses Louis, gently this time, and then pulls back to look him in the eye. "I love you."

It's a nice goodbye.

*

Louis doesn't get a chance to find Liam. He doesn't even get a chance to look for him: as soon as he crosses into the magical territory, he's being physically snatched away underground. In five seconds, he's in the lair. The Lair.

Why does Liam take his job so fucking seriously?

Louis dusts off his wings, stretching his muscles. He's still sore from carrying Harry and his eyes are stinging, from the dark and from crying a little. The dragon coughs to get his attention.

Right. "Did you send someone for him?" Louis asks before he even bows.

The dragon is as expressionless as dragons are when they're not breathing fire, but Louis feels her irritation. It's something in the wave of oppressive magic that forces him to bow. When she lets up, he looks her right in eye and asks, "Did you send someone for him?"

"No," she finally answers.

Louis drops to his knees and vows to kiss Liam for whatever he said that convinced her Harry isn't an immediate threat. "Thank you."

"The human must be dealt with," she says, not giving Louis a moment to enjoy his relief.

He looks up. This is the first time that he's felt tiny in a while; just her head would be longer than Harry's entire body. He's honestly terrified. "Dealt how?"

She's quiet for a while, in the slow way dragons are. So dramatic. "Do not make this harder," she snarls.

Fuck. If it were truly just a random human who accidentally spotted Liam, she would have sent a dryad to scramble Harry's brain and make him forget what he saw. Which is awful enough, but that's not the case at all—Harry hasn't just seen magic, he felt magic, he's soaked in magic. Louis can't even guess what she'll do to remove that, short of removing Harry altogether. He can't think about it or he'll throw up. "I can't let you do that."

"You really do not have a choice."

He knew she'll say that, but. "There must be a choice. I'll—I'll claim him formally."

Something flashes in her eyes. Louis doesn't know her well enough to interpret, but he holds her gaze. "Your heart beats strong for it," she points out.

Louis doesn't know if it's a flare of bravery or the simple fact one can't lie to a dragon, but something possesses him. Harry isn't an it. "I love him, and I gave him everything because of it. If you take that away, you'll take my love away. Let me claim him."

She seems to hesitate for a moment. And then, "That is not an option."

Louis presses his fists into the ground so hard his knuckles scrape. It's hard not to scream. "Why not? He'll be my responsibility then."

"Because as my charge, you are my responsibility. I cannot let you get yourself banished on behalf of a human."

Louis gasps, unrelated to his bloody knuckles. "Banished?"

"If I take care of it, your punishment will be minor. You could never leave the forest again." Minor. Right. "But if you were to claim the human, you'd relinquish my claim on you and vow to keep watch of it. Since it will never be able to come here again, the same would apply to you."

Louis punches the dirt. That's not fair at all, he—how is he supposed to choose between Harry and his home?

"I offer you an easy solution," she says, cutting into his thoughts.

She's right, is the thing. In her eyes, the punishment truly is minor, considering what Louis' done. Must be her trust in Liam or her fondness for Louis' family. And it should be easy—it's his home of seventy years, as opposed to a human he's met some months ago. It should be easy, but his heart is threatening to beat out of his chest and his eyes are stinging again and there's only white noise between his ears.

"Do I have time to consider it?" he asks, already knowing the answer.

"No. Once you leave the lair, events will be set in motion."

Fuck. He needs to talk to Harry, or even Zayn and Liam, he needs to go back to his patch and grow some flowers and think, think about this "easy" solution. But that's not on offer. And if he picks one way, there won't be a Harry to talk to. He knows she won't tell him what her way to fix it is, and honestly, he doesn't even want to hear it. The thought of someone hurting Harry makes his stomach lurch.

And they will, they will hurt him, because of Louis' selfishness. To fix him, he'll have to be broken. The last fucking thing Louis told him was that he'd keep him safe. But is that worth giving this place up? Moving, again, to some place he doesn't know and his mother won't have influence in? To a random forest, or to the human turf? To London?

What would he even do there? Tag along in Harry's life—his short, human life—and sing with him? Hold his hand, learn to sleep, hide his wings? Go on tours with him, find new forests and new kinds? Drifting from place to place baseless, with no ties?

Except for Harry. Claiming him would tie them together forever, not just for Harry's mortal life. It would give him half of Louis' remaining years. It would make Harry his base. Harry would be his home.

He spends hours in the lair, graciously uninterrupted by the dragon. He knows she'll stay true to her word, and no choice will be made as long as he's here. He thinks and reflects and remembers, every moment they spent together, every smile and song and touch and whispers in the dark about how much they need each other. Louis can't imagine needing someone who doesn't even remember him, needing someone and never getting them. Can't imagine Harry, a blank Harry, living two miles away from Louis and desperately needing something without knowing what it is.

I need you more than this.

*

Harry is lying on the couch when he finds him, in fitful sleep it seems. It's pitch black outside—Louis must have spent more than twelve hours with the dragon. It's obvious that Harry spent that time freaking out; tear tracks on his pale face, tissues and three coffee mugs and what looks like an ongoing phone call with Niall on the table. Louis kisses his forehead gently, so as not to wake him, and goes upstairs.

He can't drop this on him yet. Even though he did it all to save him, he can't quite look at him right now. His throat is still raw from his last conversation with Liam, his last visit to his camp. His last time in that forest. He needs to mourn a little.

He lies down in Harry's bed, breathing in his smell. His first thought is that he couldn't have given this up for anything, but the pain in his chest tells him he's just trying to reassure himself that he's made the right decision. His eyes snap open. Why reassure himself when someone else can do it for him?

He rolls over to the bedside table and finds the brand new phone Harry got him for no reason. There are only three numbers on it, and a picture of Harry sticking his tongue out. He texts Harry that everything is fine, in case he wakes up before Louis' back, and then calls Zayn.

They meet in a random park, far enough from Harry's house that Zayn is "allowed" to transport to it but close enough that Louis can fly to it. He starts crying as soon as he feels Zayn's magic appear.

Shocked, Zayn wraps him up in a hug and lets him collapse into his chest. "Mate, what—what happened?"

Louis shakes his head, crying harder. Thinking of the words makes it realer, makes him feel lost. Zayn backtracks, just stroking Louis' back. "It's okay, babes, it's gonna be okay."

It takes him a long time to get a grip and breathe easier. When he steps back and wipes his face Zayn gasps. "What happened to you? Did you get in a fight?"

He looks down. Even in the dark his knuckles look raw and bruised. "It's over. They—I'm—she banished me."

Of all the things Zayn could've done in that moment—supportive or shocked—Louis did not expect a sudden laugh.

"What the fuck?" he asks, punching Zayn's shoulder and then hissing at the pain.

Zayn only laughs some more. "Didn't I ever tell you my story?"

//

Zayn has always been a weirdo. While the rest of his kind mostly stayed in secluded places, like deserts or caves, Zayn has always preferred to haunt the marketplaces, and later, the city centers. While he was as mischievous as they come, he prided himself on being benevolent when it came to humans. He liked how they bumbled through their lives mostly aimlessly, but each one of them remained convinced they were the most important one.

The truly important ones shone to Zayn—not the kings, he was raised better than to ever bow before one—but the wise ones. The artists and musicians and philosophers. Architects of generations. They shone because their craft lasted for centuries, much like Zayn himself. They shone because their hearts were purer than most. How could he twist their souls when they had so much potential?

It wasn't that big of a deal. There were other jinn like him, the benevolent kinds that granted wishes and built nations.

The problem was that Zayn was royalty.

As a descendant of powerful Qarīn ancestry, Zayn had the power to stay corporeal for decades at a time and to assign himself a human companion to do his bidding. But he also had the responsibility to drive the human mad with it, and lead their soul astray. That part never sat well with him.

It didn't with his father, either. When Yaser fell for his companion, Zayn wasn't there, but he still heard the tale of the jinn who strayed and his penalty. All he knew was that Yaser got trapped as far from the desert as possible, an icy land called Éireann. By the time he managed to find him for counsel, Zayn discovered to his horror that Yaser had claimed his companion, halving his life to double hers. His punishment was banishment from the jinn realm.

He decided to stay there and see his father through his last years, family more important than anything. But staying in the corporeal realm had its consequences. Zayn's nature drew him out, drew him to meddle. Drew him to a human soul with potential.

Eighteen years later, he found himself in the same position as his father, because of a human. A human that's brighter than the sun, lovelier than an oasis, warmer than burning sand under his feet. Because Niall told him they should move to England and join a band, and Zayn might be an all-powerful mythical creature but he never had the power to tell him no.

And somehow, in the new land, their curious friendship grew into a love affair. It was the last straw. Zayn ignored his summons to the realm for many decades, since he found his father, but this one was from the God themself. Apparently letting a human dictate his path rather than the other way around (and accidentally becoming a music star) was frowned upon.

//

"They kicked you out?" Louis asks, shocked.

"And locked the door," Zayn confirms.

Louis can't even wrap his head around it. And it literally just happened to him. "What then?"

"Well, I can't visit the realm, which hurt a lot of my power. I can't travel very far in the human world, or transform for very long. I age faster, even though I haven't claimed Niall."

At least that hasn't happened to Louis. His magic chose Harry before he even did, and might even grow stronger now. He reaches out to touch Zayn's hand. "I meant… was it worth it?"

"Well, it's only been three years, not like I'm used to it," Zayn answers with a shrug. "But he makes me happier than turning into a snake ever could. Love has to be worth it, you know? Love drives us to do anything we do. Certainly it does to humans."

It sounds like something Harry would say, romantic and over-simplistic, but considering Zayn's centuries of experience meddling in human affairs, Louis trusts his perspective a lot more. That's a lot to chew on. After a few minutes, Louis asks the most important question: "You can turn into a snake?"

Zayn laughs again, flicking Louis' palm away. "Tell me your story now."

Louis does, in fits and starts. Zayn just doesn't understand why it's dangerous to bring humans into the magical forest, since humans can't physically travel to his realm and generally don't pose much of a threat on his kind. Not the way their bulldozers do on Louis'. So he curses a lot on his behalf, about territorial woodland kinds and crazy tree magic.

"What then?" Zayn returns the question when Louis' done.

"Then I said goodbye, came home and called you."

Zayn nudges their shoulders together. "I meant in regards to Harry."

Of course. "I will claim him."

"Really? Ritual and everything?" Zayn asks, appropriately shocked.

Louis doesn't have to think a lot about it. Which says everything, really. "In a few years. If he wants to, of course. Even dragons aren't gonna mess with human free will."

Zayn, who messes with human free will routinely, doesn't react, just pierces him with a look. "But you still can't leave him."

"Pretty much."

Zayn laughs. "Don't you see?" He really doesn't. He kicks at Zayn until he stops laughing and says, "He claimed you."

That's completely absurd. "What does that even mean?"

"He became a part of you long before you had a chat with a dragon. Which is fucking cool, by the way."

Louis shakes his head. "A part of me? What makes you say that?"

"Louis." He turns around so they're facing each other head on. "We're having this conversation in English."

Fuck. He's right. What a fucking nuisance; apparently Zayn is always fucking right. Harry became a part of him when he jammed his magic and he couldn't get smaller anymore. Harry became a part of him when he started voluntarily wearing shoes.

Louis changes the subject. "Would you like it if I spoke your language?"

"What do you mean?" Zayn asks, brow furrowed. "Urdu? Irish?"

"No mate, your language. From home."

"You can do that?"

The wonder in his tone gives Louis all the confidence he needs. "Just speak it for a while, until I understand. I won't learn it, but then when I talk you'll hear it in the language your brain expects you to." Zayn still looks sceptical. "Crazy tree magic to communicate with animals."

"Oh."

It's Zayn's turn to cry. Louis can't say anything deep, but just five words have Zayn clutching his chest and telling him about his realm.

It's a crazy ending to a fucking crazy day.

*

"Lou," Harry mumbles before even opening his eyes.

Louis smiles and pushes Harry's hair back gently. His green eyes look hazy from sleep, but he automatically turns his face into Louis' palm. "Hey."

It takes him a moment, but Louis knows the second Harry remembers what happened the last day. His mouth gapes and he sits up, grabbing Louis' shoulders. "What happened?"

"We're fine," Louis says, sitting down on the table across from Harry, who he found still sleeping on the sofa. "Don't worry about it."

"Don't worry? Are you taking the piss?" His voice is pleasantly rough, but too anxious to admire. "I thought you were gonna get fired or something."

Louis laughs. He should tell him. Harry has a right to know. This is a major turning point in his life that his mate should be made aware of.

He's not quite ready for that.

"Just a slap on the wrist. Give us a cuddle?"

As expected, Harry surges forward with so much conviction he nearly flattens Louis to the table. His arms wrap around Louis the same way they always do, locked just under his wings, and his chin is tucked over Louis' shoulder. Louis practically melts. He might have told Zayn everything and Harry nothing, but there's only one person in the world who could make him feel better. Feel safe and gentle and loved and at ease. "I love you," he chokes out.

Harry nuzzles his neck and gives him a peck. "You scared me."

"You scared me too," he reasons, holding Harry even tighter.

"I never meant to get you into trouble."

"I know." They're both quiet, careful. Harry knows Louis' keeping something from him. Louis doesn't want to dwell on what he's lost anymore.

Harry knows that, too. "Could you stay here today? I wanna make it up to you."

There's nothing to make up for, but Louis also has nowhere else to go. So he just nods, cheek rubbing against Harry's curly hair, and lets out a sigh. "We could go to the city again."

"Really?" Harry asks, surprised.

"Yeah. I just wanna get away for a bit. From the forest, I mean, not—you. Could you make it up to me there?"

For some unfathomable reason, Harry pulls back and fixes him with a look instead of a kiss or applause. "You just wanna go and see Zayn," he accuses.

Louis tries very hard not to laugh. "Don't tell me our nasty affair bothers you?"

This time Harry actually flattens him to the table, attacking his neck and mumbling something about I'll show you nasty.

His brain quiets down.

*

"Now you get why it's called London Eye?" Harry asks, nudging his ribs.

Louis only hums, nose practically pressed to the window like any other tourist. The view is nothing like Louis would get from the tallest tree in the forest; the skies are as grey as the landmarks and river and rows and rows of houses. While it should have depressed Louis, if he narrows his eyes he can almost feel it. It's the closest humans can come to flying.

Harry looks quite smug when Louis peeks at him. He always does when he takes Louis somewhere new that he knows Louis will like. "Since the last time we flew together was fucking terrifying, I figured we should try this," Harry whispers.

Louis wraps an arm around his waist and looks outside again. It's weird, being this high but not going anywhere. He's not sure why humans do it. There's something about being midair, though, that makes him feel far away from it all. Reminds him that there's a big world out there, far bigger than his little forest and his little problems. "It's nice. Can we go sky-diving next? Bungee jumping?"

Harry makes a choking sound. "You can do that by yourself, thanks."

"Chicken-shit," Louis teases.

Harry pulls him in against him and kisses his temple sweetly. "I can take pictures from the ground."

Louis has no doubt. Their capsule starts its descent with a jerk, and Louis' heart skips a beat. Part of him wants to stay this high with Harry, this… removed from everything, but part of him longs for the fresh air. "D'you wanna eat outside?"

"I dunno," Harry says, fingers tapping on Louis' collarbone. "It looks like it might rain."

"So? You afraid?"

Harry squares his shoulders and toughens his face. "Absolutely."

Harry buys him a crepe and they sit on a bench in a park. It really is rather cold, but Louis likes the sharp wind and Harry doesn't complain, huddled up in his coat and beanie as he is. It's three bites in that Harry pulls out his phone, and one bite after that Louis notices Harry's taking pictures. "Seriously?" Louis asks, trying to snatch Harry's phone with his greasy hand.

Harry giggles and leans back, only taking more snaps. Louis makes sure to look as unattractive as he can, chewing with his mouth open and crossing his eyes. He tries not to grin when Harry, predictably, pouts and nudges him with his knee. "Come on, let me take a cute one."

Louis gives him a big chocolate-y smile. Harry pretends to gag (or actually does). "Please, baby."

Louis ruffles his own hair so it's covering his face. Harry groans long-sufferingly. "Please, Daddy."

His heart jumps. Alright, Harry's got him there. He swallows the last of his meal and licks his teeth clean, and then fixes his hair so it's "artfully messy" as Harry called it. "Happy?" he snaps, hot under Harry's admiring eyes.

"Hmm, still missing something." Harry furrows his brow like he's contemplating the world's greatest problem. Louis only gets a cheeky smile for warning before Harry leans in and kisses him hard. The surprise fades quickly, as well as all his other suspicious thoughts. Harry's biting and sucking on his lips, making them tingle before he even feels his tongue.

When he pulls back Louis' mind is hazy, and that's when Harry takes a picture. "Perfect," he says, looking at his phone adoringly.

"You arsehole," Louis yells, punching Harry's shoulder.

Harry just laughs, completely unrepentant. "You didn't like that? I guess I shouldn't tell you about the pictures I Instagrammed of you blowing me the other night."

Since Harry was handcuffed at the time, Louis knows he's only kidding, but he still makes a face. Harry takes another picture. "I swear to fuck I'll plant your phone in the ground—"

Harry yelps and shoves his phone in his pocket, then raises his hands in surrender. Since Louis packed momentum for tackling him, he kisses him instead. Harry laughs and kisses back, gently this time. When they pull back he's smiling, lips redder and wetter, cheeks pink. Louis doesn't dare to ask for his own post-kiss picture. "What's Instagram, then?"

"Oh, it was a joke, I wouldn't do it without permission." Like Louis could believe anything else with those solemn eyes.

He's still curious about Instagram. Though he is now a master of YouTube and the encyclopaedia, he knows there's much to learn. "Yeah, I know, you're a good boy. But what is it in general?"

Harry pulls his phone out slowly and carefully, like he's still afraid Louis will grow a tree on top of it. Louis scooches closer and peers into the phone. There's a picture, and then he scrolls down and there's another picture, and this one is of a wall and this one is of a band. He's not sure he gets it. "I don't get it."

"You just post pictures of things you like or make you look cool."

Louis looks up at him with an arched eyebrow. "Would I make you look cool?"

Harry pulls up his sunglasses and stares at him sombrely. "Extremely. But I also like you, so it might fall into that other category."

"Both categories? I'm flattered." Harry rolls his eyes. "What would it mean if you posted a picture of me?"

"Just that, um. Ten million people would see you."

Louis is shocked to the core. That's a lot of people. He hasn't even met that many creatures, and he's been around for a century or so. There's something about today, though. He's been kicked out of the forest, left on his own. He doesn't have Liam to ask if he's allowed to let his human boyfriend post a picture of him in the human world for ten million other humans to see.

Maybe it's time for a little mischief. "Alright then."

Now Harry seems shocked. "What? Really?"

"Why not."

For a second it looks like Harry's going to list the reasons, but then he literally bites his tongue and starts tapping on his phone. "Prepare to be famous in three… two… one."

Louis looks around. No, no cosmic shift or anything. Being famous is strange. "Are you sure you did it? I don't feel any different."

"Human magic takes a little time," Harry explains, in the patient way he explained guitar amplifiers in. "You've been famous for weeks, to be honest."

What the fuck? "Weeks?"

Harry pulls his sunglasses back down, sheepish. "I mean, when we were here the last time, we were pretty public. No one called any paps, but Niall claims there's some fan chatter about the 'new pal' I've been toting around."

Louis clamps a hand over his chest. "New pal? Is that part of the gay thing?"

Harry laughs. "Kind of. For lesbians, usually. I don't wanna make a public statement, not until I'm set with new management, so. Can't really call you my boyfriend yet."

Louis glances at his phone. The picture is in black and white, but the caption is "Sky blue, forest green, kiss red". He has no idea how Harry manages being a celebrity and the least subtle person ever. "Yet?"

Harry shrugs and starts tugging on his bottom lip, apparently nervous. "I mean. I'd like to, eventually, if you're comfortable with that. Obviously it's okay if you're not, right, asking you to be in the public eye and hide who you are would be stupid and ironic of me—"

"But you aren't asking that," Louis cuts him off, placing his hand on Harry's knee. "I really am your boyfriend. I'd have to hide the fact I'm a fairy whether you announce it or not." And even that won't be too bad—Louis can still use his magic and play tricks on humans, same as he always did. He'll just have to cover his wings for hours on end, but they're always learning new ways to make that comfortable.

"Not if you stay in the forest," Harry mutters, interrupting his train of thought.

"What?"

Harry shrugs again, more aggressively. "If you stay in the forest, you won't have to hide anything."

He should tell him, the words are in the back of his throat, he should, he has to, but—Harry's point right now is that Louis doesn't have to sacrifice anything for him, so to tell him that he already sacrificed everything would probably upset him. "True. But I also won't ever hear you sing again. I think I'll be as disappointed as them," he says, nodding to his right.

Harry turns his head and gulps. So he probably hasn't noticed the three young girls standing awkwardly near the bench and quietly arguing about whether to approach Harry or not. "Oh. That hasn't happened in a while," he whispers to Louis. "D'you think they saw me kiss you?"

"Nah, they've only been here a minute," Louis reassures him. "Your magic is slow. Go say hi."

Harry nods and stands up. It's odd to see. He straightens his shoulders and pastes on a big smile, that only Louis can see isn't totally genuine. Harry's a good performer—comes up to them, ignores their excited shrieks, asks how they are, smiles when they hug him and take pictures. One of them says that they've missed him so much since the band broke up, and Harry's smile looks more pleased then, like he's taking it to heart. "Really?"

"Of course," she says. "You—you changed my life, every one of you. I couldn't believe it when you left, but—you know we still supported you."

"It was the worst day ever," the girl to her right backs her up. "But we knew you were doing it to take care of yourself and stay true." To Louis' surprise, she looks like right at him. "We support you."

Harry laughs awkwardly. "Thank you. It really means the world."

The third girl stays quiet. She's simultaneously staring at Harry, choking back tears, and typing on her phone. He thinks their conversation is coming to a close, but after five minutes they're still discussing music and two new girls appear. More yelling, more pictures. Harry looks good, adored as he is, but Louis' got a bad feeling. He's hyper-alert on the bench, his magic keyed up.

"I've been working on some new things, with Lou's help," Harry admits, gesturing toward Louis.

The collective gasp from the girls—seven now—is hilarious. Only one of them dares to ask him to sing.

It's like Louis can hear Harry's thought process in that moment: what a brilliant idea, what a good opportunity to test out my new songs on my old market, since I'm not that famous on my own anymore nothing could go wrong.

"Haz," Louis yells, ready to put a stop to this nonsense because he does know what could go wrong, watched too many animals hunted down.

Harry runs over and sits back down next to him. Louis' words die in his throat when he faces the full scale of Harry's beam. The boy wants to sing. The girls all run after him—twelve now—crowding in front of their bench. Their attention prickles Louis' skin. Before he can say anything, Harry just goes for it, acapella. "You don't understand, you don't understand, what it does to me when you hold his hand."

It starts alright. The girls are clapping like they're possessed—more than twenty now—and Harry's got his pinched Serious Artist look while he sings but Louis can feel the joy radiating off him, basking in their attention. Louis' rather lost in it himself; Harry might sing all the time around him but there's something else about his performer persona, something endlessly appealing.

It looks like he's buzzing to move or dance around, so Louis doesn't stop him when he stands up and walks farther away for the next song. That was another mistake.

It explodes barely ten minutes later, when there are so many fans even Louis can't hear Harry sing. He stands up to fetch him and put an end to all this, but there's a human blockade between them. Harry stops singing immediately, looking at Louis with panic in his eyes when he realises he can't reach him.

Louis faced many dangerous situations in his life, the most recent one involving a giant fire-breathing dragon, and this definitely counts as one. Three weren't menacing, five an annoyance, but this hoard that's making Harry freak out and Louis' magic roar needs to go.

Harry reaches out to him, like if they just touched they'll be fine, but the girls between them take it as an invitation to touch him.

Louis' wings snap, but his coat is keeping them down. Harry's eyes are pleading. There's nothing Louis can do, they've got Harry from all sides and there aren't even shops or places to hide in the middle of this random park. As reckless as certain dragons think he is, he can't just pick Harry up and fly away with so many cameras trained on them.

He feels helpless and frantic and pissed off. His magic is burning in his veins, making it hard to see and hot to breathe. It's so loud in the eye of the storm that Louis just shouts, "What the fuck do you want me to do, grow a fucking tree?"

And then he actually does something. His magic bangs out of him, and suddenly it's pouring rain.

Everything stills for a second. It could really just be the storm they've been expecting all afternoon. It could also be something Louis was wholly unaware his magic could do. No, wholly aware his magic couldn't do, it—it has to be a combination of everything: him needing to protect Harry, his magic loving Harry, the fact there aren't any magical creatures around them, the fact the clouds were already ripe with rain and just needed a nudge.

For now, it doesn't matter. The screaming goes from excited to horrified as all the girls are suddenly preoccupied with putting their electronic devices away, and Louis finally manages to barrel his way to Harry, grab him and pull him away. They run in the rain, soaking wet and mildly terrified, until they escape the park and Harry manages to hail a cab.

They push inside. The first thing Harry says, after all the madness that's still making Louis' ears ring, is a "sorry" to the driver for getting the seats wet, and then his address.

Louis yells and punches Harry's arm. "What were you thinking?"

"Ow!" Harry grunts, rubbing his arm and tearing off his dripping beanie and sunglasses. "What's wrong with you?"

He knows, somewhere in his brain, that Harry isn't the one he should be yelling at, but he's too amped up to stop, power overload making him hazy. "What's wrong with you? What did you think would happen?"

Harry's eyes widen. "I didn't think it would be that big, I—there's usually security—"

Louis grabs his coat, yelling again. "But there wasn't, was there? Were you just waiting for them to trample you?"

Harry's face hardens, and he leans in to hiss, "Yeah, that's exactly what I hoped for, Louis."

Louis makes a fist, and then yanks Harry in and gives him a bruising kiss. Harry gasps in surprise, a quiet oh, but gives in just as fast, kissing Louis frantically and grabbing his hair. It's wet and hot and punishing, more teeth than anything. Finally, Louis' magic relaxes a little. Harry's fine, he's okay, nobody's touching him.

"Mine," Louis says, giving Harry's lip a long bite that makes him gasp again.

Harry grabs his hips and manages to slide him over the seat until he's straddling his lap, right in the backseat of a speeding cab. The driver must have realised Harry's famous and about to give him a fat tip, since Louis feels free to thread his fingers through Harry's hair and pull hard, drawing him into another breathtaking kiss.

Harry's hands settle on his arse and he doesn't stop dragging him closer, until Louis can feel that he's hard in his jeans. Just for him. Finally, Louis' brain relaxes a little. They're fine.

When the cab pulls up in Harry's gated community, Louis stops squirming on top of him and looks him in the eye. They can either have sweet, loving sex or angry, rough sex right now. Louis' rush of power tips the scales dramatically.

He shoves him up against the door as soon as they enter and palms his cock roughly, until Harry bites Louis' neck hard and starts pumping his hips in tandem. Louis grabs the lube Harry handily stocked right by the key bowl and spills some on his fingers, while Harry tears his flies open and shoves his jeans down to his thighs.

They stare at each other for a moment, Harry's eyes dark and chest heaving, Louis' cock hard and hands shaking. A plan springs to mind. "Turn around," he instructs, and Harry does, so hurriedly he nearly trips with his jeans constricting his movements.

Louis drapes himself over Harry's back, pinning him there and holding his wrists together over his head. With Harry's cheek pressed to the wall, Louis can just barely kiss his cherry-red lips, one finger teasing his rim until Harry nips at him, like he's saying come on already.

Louis fucks him with his fingers for maybe two minutes before pushing his cock inside him. Harry's tight, slow to stretch around him, but he looks anything but wound up. He melts into the wall, legs spread as much as Louis allows, and a long moan falls from his lips when Louis pushes in and out and in and out until his hips meet Harry's arse.

"Yeah," Harry whimpers, twisting his hands so he can lace his fingers together with Louis' and hold tight. "Been bad, Daddy?"

Louis doesn't answer. He just fucks him like he really has been bad. He sinks his teeth into Harry's strong shoulder and thrusts into him fast and deep, not pulling back far enough to make their bodies stop touching. He craves this heat, his chest pushing Harry forward, both of them still fully clothed. Harry makes the most beautiful sounds, like all he wants in his life is to be fucked into the wallpaper.

Louis only goes harder, still buzzing from everything that's happened and how good Harry feels inside. He grabs Harry's hip bruisingly tight and nails him, chasing that friction and heat shooting through him. He comes inside him soon after that, grunting in Harry's ear and then biting it.

Harry doesn't come from that, he's a good, good boy, but he moans like he did, limbs trembling. Louis pulls out of him and twists Harry's arm until it's behind his back, until he can push two of his own fingers inside his wet hole and keep Louis' come inside him. While Harry loses his mind over that, Louis takes off all his clothes and Harry's jeans, and grabs the lube again.

He wraps an arm around Harry's middle, supporting him with strong touches and nipping kisses all over his neck while he guides him past the foyer and into the living room. Harry's happy to be led, even closes his eyes, trusting and lovely and still fingering his own arse. So lovely, Louis can't help but crack a little, forgetting how mad he is or supposed to be.

He kisses Harry behind his ear and starts whispering, "Such a good boy, always ready to take me in." Harry starts nodding encouragingly, making them detour with how he's leaning so heavily on Louis, trying to grind against his cock again. "My perfect boy. I don't think you learned your lesson yet. Do you?"

He lets Harry bump into the armrest of the sofa. Without any hint from Louis, Harry bends over it, elbows on the sofa and hooded eyes piercing Louis over his shoulder. "Not yet."

Even if this weren't part of the plan, Louis would've been completely helpless not to rub some more lube on his hard cock and fuck back into him. Harry's back curves perfectly, and Louis can't stop watching him, puts one hand on his lower back to keep him down and another hand on his arse, pushing his cheeks apart so he can see his thick cock stretching Harry's used hole.

It feels a little rougher than before, Louis more sensitive and Harry clenching harder around him the closer he is to coming. He likes it this way, his thrusts going from slow to fast to deep to shallow, because he never wants to stop watching how perfect Harry's arse is, how perfect they are together.

Harry can't say anything more than yeah and Daddy and choked out breaths, so Louis leans down and shoves three fingers into his mouth. Then, he just sounds grateful, biting his knuckles and licking his skin and sucking him down. That's how easily Louis comes again, oversensitive fingers tingling.

Harry bucks, out of control, starts humping the armrest and making wrecked noises. His boy. Louis grabs hold of his hair and yanks him up, upright, until he can turn him around and throw him on the sofa. Harry spreads his legs as wide as he can. Louis swears he can see a trickle of come slide out of him. Fuck.

He settles between Harry's legs, hooking one over his shoulder, and as soon as Harry cants his hips up Louis slides into him again, only two loads as lube this time. Harry doesn't seem to mind—probably considers it as just one long fuck. Louis takes him slow this time, now that he can see his eyes, see how hard and dripping his cock is, see all the red marks Louis put on him. His body screams yours yours yours when Harry himself has been reduced to soft whines.

He turns his head to kiss Harry's knee and fixes his sweaty fringe. Harry gives him a drowsy smile. "I love you," he whispers.

Louis smiles back at him. "Tell me what you want."

"Wanna—oh god—wanna be good." That's not enough. Louis puts more force behind his thrusts, fucking the rest out of him: "Make you come again, feel all wet."

He's shameless. Louis folds his leg to give his lips a kiss, and then starts fucking him in earnest. It usually takes him a while to come the third time, but after riling him up this long, Harry makes him come again just by jerking his hips and wailing for his daddy.

Louis rides it out, pumping Harry's arse full of come and actually feeling it slide out over his balls. Fuck, it—everything feels good, sizzling and perfect down to his fingertips. He pulls out slowly. "Please, Daddy, come, need to, please," Harry whines, scratching down Louis' biceps.

Louis kisses the side of his mouth, and then his neck, his collarbones, his hard nipples, his clenching abs, the tip of his cock, and then finally his hole. Harry nearly screams, grabbing Louis' hair painfully and breathing so hard Louis can hear every inhale and exhale despite Harry's thighs clenching around his ears.

His first thought is that it really does taste like maple syrup. His second thought is that Harry would probably like a taste too. He slurps up as much as he can and then lies on top of Harry and gives him a kiss.

Harry comes like that, untouched, shaking so hard he nearly kicks Louis down to the floor. His skin burns for a moment, and when Louis glances down from his beautiful face he notices that every single rune on him is glowing. Probably fucked some magic into him. Huh.

He gives him another good kiss, and straightens up to lay Harry's leg down. He takes off Harry's coat and jumper, petting him gently and staring with a grin at the way Harry preens and purrs, delicate as he is. He starts to clean his arse out but Harry whines and opens his arms, beckoning him for a hug.

The happy noise Harry makes when Louis gives it to him makes his heart nearly burst. "Never wanna be in some forest without you," he whispers into Harry's curls.

"Of course you say that after you fucked me three times," Harry replies, more alert than Louis expected him to be. That's what he gets for not spanking him.

"Think you're so good, then?" Louis teases, tickling Harry's sides lightly.

Harry tries to bat his hand away half-heartedly. "Know I'm that good."

Louis lets it go, too fucked out to think of a clever reply. "You are."

Harry purrs again. Ridiculous. "Promise not to get you stuck in a mob again."

Louis huffs. He didn't want to be reminded of that so soon. "Don't get yourself stuck in a mob again, dickhead. Fucking sign with someone already and sing in normal venues with security."

Harry nuzzles his cheek. "Okay."

It's a nice moment. Louis doesn't plan on telling him there's glitter in his hair.

He doesn't even wash it off before they go clubbing with Zayn and Niall, says it makes him feel festive. Louis knows he means accomplished, but doesn't mention it. He doesn't mention the plug keeping all the come inside his arse right now, either.

*

Harry signs a deal the next day, all four of them present. The fact Louis' there doesn't really help him understand what he's signing or what's happening or what's the difference between a label and a manager or why Louis can't just manage Harry like he always does, but whatever, Harry seems happy and a little scared but mostly excited.

"I'm proud of you, baby," Louis tells him over celebratory drinks later, when they're in the bath. Harry has a thing for baths, and Louis has a thing for Harry.

"It's gonna be good, yeah?" Harry asks.

Louis leans in to kiss his cheek. "C'mon, you were born for this. And if you ever feel like you need another long break, you're rich enough to get out of any contract, right?"

Harry laughs, the sound echoing in the room. Louis might like baths too. "Plus you can literally whisk me away to a temple or somewhere I can Zen out."

"Cheers to that," Louis says, clinking their wine glasses. "But how do you whisk?"

There are things both of them should say, about their possible future together and about important past events half of the present parties might not be aware of. So to avoid bringing up his thing, Louis willingly brings up Harry's thing. "You plan on coming out to the humans, then?"

Harry takes a long sip of his drink, watching Louis carefully. "I got a whole team of people to make that plan for me," he says flippantly. "Don't have to worry about a thing."

"Sure." Louis drops his hand underwater to touch Harry's ankle. "What's their plan for me, though?"

"We met at a gym," Harry answers quickly, like he actually gave it some thought. "You didn't know I was famous because you've been trekking through the forests of New Zealand for a few years. So during my time off you roped me into doing all sorts of outdoorsy stuff. I fell in love with you while we went skinny dipping in a random lake. Oh, and you're only two years older than me. And you have a beautiful voice."

Louis blinks. Harry blushes right before his eyes. "I mean, it could be any cover you want. We could've met at a fashion show or a sex club or Albania. You could've been watching my pets."

"You don't have pets," Louis points out, mind still swimming.

"I'd like a cat."

Louis coughs. "I like dogs more. A giant poodle."

"Let's get both," Harry suggests, sinking down so he can rest his head on the tub, his hand dangling over the edge with his wine glass. He's the picture of luxury. He could have ten pets if he wanted.

"Okay, baby. The next time we go to Albania."

Harry giggles and grabs Louis' foot, giving him an impromptu underwater massage with his free hand. "So I've been thinking about doing something, and this feels like a good time."

Louis' heart skips a beat. "I already said you can get a cat."

"I was thinking about getting a tattoo, actually?" Harry says into his glass.

That. Is unexpected. Louis arches an eyebrow. "I'm sorry to say this, love, but it looks like you've already got thirty."

Harry looks down on himself like he's going to count, but there are too many bubbles. "I know that, but I wanna get a real one."

Louis clears his throat. "What's wrong with the runes?"

"Oh, nothing, baby," Harry says, terrified that he might have offended. "It's just—I never know what I'm going to get when you make them. And all of Zayn's tattoos are real, you know. He told me that—well, he implied that the runes aren't permanent. I want something that's forever."

Before Louis says anything dumb, he asks, "What did you wanna get?"

"Laurels. Like, two identical ones on my hips."

Louis could kick the water in frustration. Leaves, a pair, on his hips. Louis gets the fucking message. He wants to yell at him—this is permanent, more than you even know, I wanna claim you and have you forever, I'll always be there to make sure the magic doesn't drain from your runes, how dare you doubt that—but Harry's still dealing with all the decisions he's made today, and if getting a tattoo to symbolise that is what reassures him, what can Louis do? "That sounds cool. Did—do you want Zayn to come with you?"

Harry shakes his head instantly, much to Louis' relief. "He told me where to go, but I need you. I'm kind of scared."

That's odd; Harry's a fearless bastard. "Of getting something that stays on you forever?"

"No," Harry huffs. "Of the pain."

That's even odder. "Please, you love the pain. The question is how the tattoo person will work around your massive hard-on."

"Tight underwear and loose jeans," Harry replies immediately.

"See? It's gonna be a breeze."

Harry laughs like he doubts it, but he still manages to seduce Louis into spanking him with the paddle when they get out of the tub.

Harry drank too much wine for it to lead to anything, so Louis believes him when he says it's to practice the pain thing. He tells Harry to lie down on his stomach, and then sits beside him, stroking his hair and his back and his arse. Harry seems comfortable as can be. "You ready, baby?"

"Yeah," Harry says dreamily, raising his arse a little.

Louis leans down to kiss Harry's shoulder, and then gives him five light smacks with the paddle. "Thank you, Daddy," Harry says once he realises that was the set.

Louis gives him five more just for remembering the rules. He likes the sound. The wooden paddle makes the nicest thump, echoing in the room, threaded through Harry's quiet oh's. When Louis uses his hand to spank him he's too distracted by the immediate sting to notice the sound. Another difference is the mark—when they reach twenty and Harry's arse is starting to pink up, it's even, squared. A little brighter on the side he's sitting by, so Louis adjusts the next swings to hit the whole length and Harry thanks him for it with a crack in his voice.

Louis takes a moment to appreciate the sight of him, how hot his skin is to the touch, how beautifully his back is arching and his muscles are tensing. He lays his whole palm on one cheek and squeezes, marvelling at how soft and firm he is. Harry whines a little, wiggling. "Please, more. Harder and slower, please, Daddy."

Something deep in him prickles at the criticism, but he doesn't tease Harry for it, knows he's just doing what he was told. All Louis wants is to give Harry what he needs. He spanks him with his hand seven times, so hard it rings around the room and stings his palm too much to make it an even ten, and Harry's thank you is heartfelt.

Louis picks the paddle back up and rubs it over Harry's arse, aiming, then gives him the ten smacks he deserves. And another set. He doesn't know how many it's been, but he does know the moment Harry sinks into that mood of his. He knows because Harry doesn't thank him right away. "What do we say?" Louis asks, dropping the paddle so Harry knows the set is done.

"Thank you, Daddy," Harry whispers slowly, a tiny giggle at the end.

Louis climbs over Harry's thighs, leaning over him heavily so he can feel his weight and be pressed into the mattress. He knows Harry likes Louis to be all over him when he's like this, that it makes him feel safe and cared for. "You okay, baby?" he whispers in his ear.

"Mhmm," Harry says, giggling again when Louis' fingers card through his hair. "Thank you."

"I'm so proud of you, kitten. D'you want more?"

Harry nods shyly. "Please."

"How many?" Louis asks, even though he knows Harry just wants him to get on with it.

"Oh, two maybe?"

Louis gives him two kisses. "Two sets or two spanks?"

"Mm. Sets."

"Perfect, baby." He kisses his shoulder blade before he straightens up and sits back down. He goes hard with these two, and Harry loves it so much he asks for two more. The colour on him is stunning, so deep Louis can imagine him still feeling it when he gets tattooed tomorrow—though he knows it'll only last a couple of hours if he's lucky.

He pauses after that, cupping Harry gently and waiting. After a while Harry decides no more, so Louis kicks the paddle to the floor and drapes himself over Harry's back again, kissing his neck ten times and making obnoxious noises that draw giggles and squirming out of Harry. "My perfect boy, I love you so much. Most beautiful thing I've ever seen," he coos, wrapped around him. "Couldn't be prouder."

Harry's eyes are wide and his lips are red when Louis turns him on his back. His cock is hard but it doesn't seem like he cares. Louis knows he's really out of it when he offers him water and Harry only tips his head back so Louis will pour it in his mouth.

He lets him bask in it for a while, touching him gently until he goes soft and listening to his silly rambling and occasional mewl. It's charming, really—mostly the knowledge that he made him like this, spanked him well enough, made him feel safe enough.

But then he notices Harry's eyes drooping and he knows he should find himself again before he falls asleep. He remembers when they talked about how Harry didn't like to drift off for too long. "Sweetheart, why don't you give me a hug, as tight as you can," he asks.

Harry's quick to obey, squeezing him close but still careful of his wings. It's not enough, so Louis tries another trick. "Tell me about tattoos. Do humans get them often?"

Gathering his thoughts takes the longest, but then when he starts speaking it comes to him easier. By the time he starts telling him about henna tattoos in weddings his voice is back to normal, and Louis kisses his cheek. Harry stops and just looks at Louis with a big smile. "Hey."

"There's my boy," Louis replies, stroking Harry's soft cheek. "How are you feeling?"

"Perfect," he says, turning his face to kiss Louis' thumb. "Thank you."

"Still nervous about the tattoo?"

"Nah, not if you hold my hand. Let's fucking go tomorrow."

They fucking go tomorrow.

Louis does better than hold his hand, he talks dirty in his ear for fifteen minutes until Harry's tortured whimpers turn into something else, and he takes the pain like he always does. "Good boy," Louis whispers, kissing his temple. "My very best boy. Got spanked so good yesterday, didn't you? Your arse is just begging for it all the time. Bet you wish you could turn over right now and let me spank you in front of her, yeah?"

Harry's hand squeezes hard around his and he hides his face in Louis' neck, since he was leaning over him. The buzzing of the needle stops abruptly. Louis pushes him back down gently. "Stay still like a good boy now, better not move her. Promise you'll get a reward when she's done."

Harry makes a quiet noise and settles down, only grabbing Louis' hand when the buzzing returns.

The tattoos are beautiful.

They don't talk about their meaning just yet.

*

Everything comes to a head when Harry vacuums Louis' glitter. He just started doing it without Louis even having to ask, and he found it so domestic and charming that he hovered behind him and pulled the plug out to give Harry a kiss.

They've been back home for a few days now, and Harry hasn't noticed that Louis moved in. Which is just as well, since Louis didn't feel the urge to explain just yet. He didn't even tell Harry that he actually liked the city better, because he could hang out with Zayn and look for other kinds that have nothing to do with "tree magic", but also because it was a little painful to be so close to his patch—his former home.

The best way he coped with leaving his family was to move to a far away forest. He fears that the only way to get over being banished might be the same one.

And six months ago—three months ago he would've banished himself for entertaining such a ludicrous thought. A human city as his habitat. Must be Harry's brand of magic at work.

Harry looks at him in surprise, adjusting the vacuum. "Yes?"

Louis backs up a little. "You're not gonna tell me?"

"Tell you what?" Harry asks. There's something real troubling him, he's not just playing dumb.

Louis' heart sinks. "You answer a mysterious phone call, get so excited you bend me over your piano and fuck me, and now you're not gonna tell me what it was all about?"

Harry rubs the back of his neck, looking away. Louis' wings flap nervously. "Right, that. Um, my new manager booked me studio time, finally. To start laying down the songs I already have and sit down with writers."

Oh. Of course she did, that's her job, apparently. It doesn't stop the bad feeling in Louis' stomach. "How much time is studio time?"

Harry finally puts the vacuum away and looks Louis in the eye. He looks fierce now, even takes Louis' hand. "You can record an album in two weeks, that's not—the issue is—it means we're starting." When Louis doesn't respond, Harry adds, "Jump-starting my career and all that. Promo, singles, shows, interviews. Fucking perfumes."

Louis still doesn't get why Harry's so intense about it. "It sounds fun, yeah? I'm sure you'll do great, you're brilliant."

Harry's face falls. The fact Harry wears his heart on his sleeve is useful in some cases, like when he tries to pull a prank on Louis, but completely devastating in others, like when Louis has disappointed him. He doesn't even explain or say anything other than, "Right", and then he leaves the fucking music room.

Louis stays right where he was, legs unmoving and heart hammering. He has no idea what just happened, but he thinks he might have fucked something up. This must have been what Harry felt when he visited him in the woods that one last time.

Fucking fuck it, he's going to tell him everything.

One step away from the door, Harry swings it open and bursts into the room. Louis can't say anything then, because Harry corners him and presses a finger to his mouth. Usually that'll earn him an annoyed bite, but there's fire in his eyes again. "Louis, no."

"Wha—"

"We did this once before, and I'm not gonna make the same mistake and drive myself crazy." He takes a deep breath. Louis mostly stares. "When you say it sounds fun, does that mean you want to join me on my epic journey?"

Oh. That's totally an easy one. "Obviously, yeah."

Harry's so surprised he actually does a double take. "But. Wouldn't you have to go back to the forest?"

Oh. It's time for Louis to take a deep, fortifying breath. "I'm sort of banished."

"What?" Harry yells, eyes wide. "So where do you live?"

Louis points behind him. "Right here."

Harry opens and closes his mouth a couple of times with no sound. "Since when? What the—oh. Liam. Oh, Louis."

His shock is replaced by sympathy Louis definitely isn't ready for, but kind of is, so he pets Harry's shoulder and says, "It's fine, love."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry pleads, voice raised again, like he's taking it personally. Which is exactly what Louis didn't mean to happen.

"I was trying to put it behind me and figure things out without making you feel guilty," he explains.

"That's… considerate," Harry says, like he doesn't really believe him.

Louis sighs. "Well, I also didn't wanna freak you out."

Harry tilts his head and crosses his arms. "How?"

Louis bites his lip, nervous for no fucking reason. "Part of the deal was that I… claim you."

An odd expression passes Harry's face. "I thought you already did?"

Louis thinks back to Harry not Instagramming secret pictures of him without permission. No, he did not claim Harry in his sleep without permission. "It's more complicated than that. There's a whole ritual, and it's—it's a forever deal."

Now Harry's not following. "So? Why would that freak me out?"

"Humans have short lives and it makes them fickle." Before Harry yells at the line, Louis adds, "I mean, you lost your shit over the mate thing!"

"Only because I thought you—you fucking arsehole—" He pulls up his shirt to show off his delicious abs. And then takes Louis' hand and puts it on his new, real tattoo. Okay, that makes more sense. "That's forever too," he hisses, which is way scarier than yelling. "I wanna marry you in April 2017. And you're way more fickle than me. You can't even decide on a favourite fruit. Idiot."

Louis huffs. "I don't get what's the point of picking a favourite when I can fucking grow them all. You're the one allergic to cantaloupes. Who the fuck is allergic to—"

Harry grabs his shoulders and shakes him. "You're my favourite, okay?"

It doesn't make sense of his jumbled thoughts, but looking at Harry's earnest green eyes, he kind of forgets his entire argument. "You're my favourite," he repeats. It probably sounds dumb, but Harry finally smiles at him and all is right with the world again.

"You should've told me," Harry says, leaning in to press their foreheads together.

"I know," Louis replies, because he does, he did. Right now he doesn't know why he tried to avoid this whole thing, but it was worth it, because Harry actually has a date for their wedding, and that's sort of like claiming each other, right? Maybe not, since humans also have dates for their divorces, but Harry doesn't seem the type.

He has a favourite fruit, after all.

"You won't divorce me?" he asks, question fluttering over Harry's lips.

Harry laughs, close enough to kiss. "Nope. You won't keep things from me?"

Louis shuts his eyes. "Nothing left to keep. You got me now."

"Good." Harry's arms wrap around him suddenly, and he kisses him like they're sealing a deal, all passionate and meaningful and the things Harry's ace at.

Louis draws back so suddenly Harry nearly smacks their noses together. "Wait, I do have a secret. I don't sleep, and sometimes you talk in the night. Like, you should get that checked."

Harry rolls his eyes with the force of a thousand sleep-talkers and kisses him again.

Louis still doesn't know what's going to happen, or what his role in Harry's life will be. But they found each other. They claimed each other. They're stuck together, and he can't wait for their new adventures.

There's definitely going to be singing.

Chapter Text

FIVE YEARS LATER

Harry Styles has got it all. He's got four successful solo albums, two Grammy nominations, millions of adoring fans, three charities, and as of last week, one husband. So he would consider himself pretty accomplished and well-rounded, might even say he's got most of his life locked down at twenty-five.

So it's a bit unfair that he feels so thoroughly out of his depth in this historic moment.

Then again, he didn't think meeting Louis' mother would go quite like this. For one, there's nudity involved. For another... well, that point is the major one. Tying his life together with Louis', radically lengthening his time on this planet, getting some magic in him with unforeseeable consequences—he's come to terms with all of that when he married Louis the human way. He's got the ring to prove it, one with an amber Louis claims to have extracted himself from the bowels of the Earth but Harry's almost sure is store bought.

"You okay?" Louis asks, searching Harry's eyes.

Harry nods, staring resolutely into Louis' eyes. They are the only safe place to look at, surrounded by Louis' naked family members as he is. "Yes, of course."

Louis frowns. Harry opens his mouth to reassure him that he's ready for this claiming business, but then Louis barks a laugh. "It's the nakedness!"

Harry gulps and covers his face with his hands. "There's an awful lot of it, isn't there?"

"Should we stop the ceremony and ask everyone to wear leaves, then?" Louis asks, nudging Harry's shoulder.

He inhales sharply through his nose. "Of course not. If you wore clothes for the entirety of our wedding, I can be naked for our ritual."

Louis' face softens. He leans in to whisper, "I wouldn't say the entirety."

"Lou." Harry blushes furiously, remembering how they snuck to their limousine to lick cake off each other in the middle of the reception. Louis cannot make him hard while he's naked, there are children around. Adorable twin fairy babies that Harry had been blessed to hold—well, to chase after while they flew away and hid behind trees. Louis yelled, "C'mon then, don't be mean to Harold," and then flew right after them and boosted them up to even higher branches. "You can't give him the illusion that he'd be able to catch you."

As annoyed as Harry felt, there's nothing the sight of Louis with small children can't cure. He nearly had a heart attack when Louis and Lux danced at the wedding, friendly as they've always been since their reunion.

"Are you quite finished?" Louis' mum asks, an amused twinkle in her eyes. Her eyes. Big, kind eyes. Eyes are important. Harry's whole being is focused on her eyes, certainly not on exposed fairy nipples just apparent under her impossibly long hair.

Louis cackles one last time, and then takes Harry's hand. "All set."

"In that case, let's begin," she says, rubbing her hands together.

And no, no, Harry's not going to be claimed for the rest of his life while thinking about matronly nipples. He turns to face Louis and grabs both of his hands, much like he did in their human ceremony, except that right now they're sitting on the ground for Spiritual Reasons. Louis blinks at him in surprise, face as striking as it was the first time they met, when Harry didn't know magic was real but felt it all the same, waking up his heart.

He touches Louis' cheek hesitantly, but Louis just tilts his head into it and grants him a genuine smile. Harry used to think there would come a time when Louis wouldn't make him lose his breath. They've gone through five years, through epic ups and massive downs, through coming out of the closet and not hiding in the countryside, through those months when Louis stayed in a forest to "rediscover his magic", through an album they recorded together, through love and love and love.

It still only takes a look to make Harry's heart skip a beat. "I love you," he whispers. It comes out rawer than he expected, but Louis doesn't seem to judge.

"That's nice," he replies, nuzzling Harry's palm. "Ready to love me forever?"

Harry's smile makes their kiss a little uncoordinated, but Louis' laughing too. He loves him so much he could explode. He can't imagine a better forever. "Yes."

He knows how this ritual goes from beginning to end and backwards. Louis explained it to him a hundred times, and a hundred more before they even flew to France and tracked down the forest Louis grew up in. He got the speech just this morning. So of course that when it's actually happening, Harry's brain is completely blank.

There's nothing he's supposed to be doing, thankfully. He and Louis are mostly just sitting there, while Louis' mum does magic things like wrap roots around their ankles and summon forces that Harry can't see or feel but make Louis' skin glow.

It's silent in the forest, no officiant or vows or best man speech. Harry imagines for a moment Niall bursting into the woods, spilling champagne and sobbing about true love and beautiful friendships and how he's been in love with the same fantastical person since he was a teenager so he's certainly an expert. He misses him, feels weird to do this without him around, but there could only be fairies present. No interferences.

Louis grabs his forearms suddenly, bringing him back to the moment. His skin burns under Louis' hands, but he wills himself not to panic. It's a magic thing, has to be. It's been years since Louis' magic elicited a physical reaction out of him, but this is too powerful to ignore. It's not at all familiar. Harry can't breathe all of a sudden, gritting his teeth and staring into Louis' blue eyes.

He hears it then, Louis' mother's voice, banging inside his skull. He realises that it's not Louis' magic at all, it's hers, only amplified by Louis. It's flowing through both of them. It's heavy and it's still burning, it's making him want to lie back on the grass and pass out maybe, but Louis' eyes are open and if he just focuses on them—if everything slows down—he can hold on.

Everything is blue. He tries to swim, but the roots tie him down, sinking sinking sinking until the water's inside and the ground has swallowed him whole. His brain is truly blank, his body too, the runes all vanish and he's twenty again, he's seventeen, he's ten, he's a hundred, he's blue, he's impossible.

He wakes up and screams, to shake off the trance, to hear his own voice and know he's alive. He is, of course, but he's also—different.

He's been a product of Louis' magic for five years. Since the first rune was put on him he's changed, but it's not like that now. He knows he's not covered in magic anymore; he is magic. There's something in him, as thrilling and soothing as Louis' magic always was, only he can finally control it.

His runes truly are gone, as if Louis' magic needed to make room for Harry's. But there's one thing—one new thing on his skin. Right under where Louis had grabbed him throughout the whole ritual, there's a stunning rose still growing on him. He doesn't have to ask what it means. He looks down to his hands, grabbing Louis' forearms in turn, and yells again. There's a new rune on Louis. A dagger. Harry put it there.

Louis pulls him forward until Harry slumps into him, sweaty forehead resting on his shoulder, nose pressed into his neck. They're still holding each other tight. Something finally penetrates the magical haze in Harry's mind: Louis' voice, naturally. "'Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it's evergreen. And, baby, your smile's forever in my mind and memory."

Harry crumples, digging his teeth into Louis' skin. Louis hushes him and keeps going. "I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways, maybe it's all part of a plan."

A huge weight is gone in an instant, and Harry eases. English. He knows English. He knows this English, knows these words. He danced to them a week ago, spun Louis around in his suit, couldn't stop holding his hand because there was… a ring. Wedding song. A song.

Okay. Harry's still human, Harry's still got ten fingers and a husband, Harry can sing. This is real.

Louis continues, rubbing his thumb over the same spot on Harry's arm. "Well, I'll just keep on making the same mistakes, hoping that you'll understand."

Harry flushes when he realises that it's not even his singing voice, it's his secret Harry voice that he whips out when he's—god, when he's coaxing him out of subspace. He's utterly embarrassing himself in front of Louis' magical family. He pulls his head back and presses his forehead to Louis'. "That baby now, take me into your loving arms," he sings, familiar now. "Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars. Place your head on my beating heart."

Louis smiles brighter than a million stars and kisses Harry's mouth. "You did it," he whispers.

The burn is fading, finally, as Harry becomes more and more conscious of his surroundings again, not to mention his own thoughts and feelings. He doesn't feel like he's drowning anymore. "Did I?"

Louis kisses him again like he can't help it. "I'm so proud of you. Mum said it could've taken hours, but you pulled through."

"It was scary," Harry confesses, barely making a sound. It is scary, but Louis looks happy and proud and Harry will always be weak for that. Pull through for that.

"I know, baby. It was overwhelming for me too, I can't imagine—but that's it." He gets another kiss. Smiling feels odd, but it's happening right on his face. "Consider yourself claimed."

He can't currently remember what that means, if he gets a residence permit in the magical forest or something, but he knows it's a good thing. "I was claimed five years ago," he insists.

Louis laughs. He seems a little relieved that Harry's coming back, slowly but surely. "Couldn't do this five years ago, could you?"

Harry quirks an eyebrow, not sure what Louis means, but then he feels something, this pull under his skin, pleasant and warm and familiar. Wow. It's Louis' magic, reaching out to—to his magic. Holy fuck, that's intense. "Am I magical now?"

"By extension," Louis says, unable to cover up his excitement. Harry isn't sure if he detects it in his voice or in his magic.

"What does that mean?" he asks, wondering if he's going to have wings now.

Louis kisses him yet again. "No idea. Got forever to find out."

Harry feels warmer than he has since he took off his clothes. They do. They'll never have to even think about the fact Louis' lifespan is drastically different to Harry's and what that might mean for them or for future offspring. Thank god, Harry's going to have ten children by next week. He'll see about regaining his runes, too.

He kisses Louis again, and the rest of the haze clears. Nothing is more familiar and grounding than this, touching and kissing the love of his life.

They've always been a bit magic, he thinks. Their forever just got a lot longer.

He beams at Louis and bumps their noses. "Thinking out loud, maybe we found love right where we are."

ENDNDNDN