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A Boo-tiful Relationship

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Louis looks at the paused Youtube video and then back at his cupcakes. They don’t look anything like the skulls on his laptop screen; as he watches, the white icing melts and runs down the side of the cupcakes to pool on the counter underneath.

He’s trying to make cupcakes that have skulls on top made from marshmallow, icing, and Smarties. The Youtube video makes it look deceptively easy. It’s his second batch. Louis has three weeks to be able to pull off a Halloween birthday party for fifteen seven-year olds, replete with what his daughter has deemed “spooky snacks”. (She’d handed him a stack of printouts of pictures and recipes, then batted her blue eyes. It had been like looking in a mirror, and Louis had hesitantly agreed to try his best at replicating the treats.)

He grabs a beer from the fridge and a cupcake, because he doesn’t care if the icing is running off, and sits on the couch, grateful his sister has taken Katie for the evening for what Lottie calls “necessary girl time.” Louis stopped questioning it years ago and takes advantage of having full control of the tv remote by putting the match from last night on.

He can’t concentrate on Giroud getting nearer to the opposing team, mind turning back to the stack of recipes and his ultimate failure at everything culinary. Thankfully, Katie hasn’t quite figured it out because kids are more than happy to eat takeaway, pasta with sauce from a jar, and the occasional stuffed chicken with mash that remains the only reliable thing Louis can make. For everything else, there’s his mum’s Sunday dinners and whatever he can beg from Niall.

Louis nearly tips his bottle over in excitement when he realizes that yes, he happens to be good friends with a catering chef who would have absolutely no problem whipping up all the treats Katie is demanding for her party. Yes, he told himself this year would be different but really, there’s no way he can pull off the food portion of this party without a little help.

He digs his phone out of his pocket and presses 2.

“Niall!” Louis greets, overly loud, when Niall first yells in his ear. “I need your help.”

“With Katie’s party?” Niall guesses. “You do this every year, mate.”

Louis frowns as Niall continues. “I really don’t mind, you know I love her, but I can’t this year. A fancy two-day event is going on that weekend and we’re booked with prep from here on out.”

“Oh.” Louis says. “It’s only that Katie has pretty much demanded I make these on my own?”

Niall chuckles. “Yeah, she told me.”

“What do you mean, she told you? I just got this stack of pictures three days ago and you saw her last week!”

“How do you think she printed all of them, Lou?” Niall cackles even louder, like he can see Louis silently fuming at the phone in his hand.

“I am going to supervise every single outing,” Louis threatens over Niall’s continued laughter. He sighs. “What am I going to do, Niall? I’m rubbish at this, you know that!”

“Okay, calm down.” Niall pauses and Louis takes the time to finish his beer. Niall’s plans are either a probable disaster - like any sort of matchmaking after Louis got full custody of Katie - or outright genius, like when he arranged a pub crawl that was eighteen hours long.

“I have a friend, he’s sort of between jobs?” Niall says, voice going up at the end like it’s a question. “No, he has a job, but he’s on a break right now.”

Louis is suspicious.“Are you playing matchmaker again? With someone on the dole?”

Niall laughs like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard. “No, but you two would be interesting together. No, H is really good at baking and with kids and he’d probably love to help with Katie’s party. His days lately are all sleeping, running and The Notebook.” Louis can practically hear the eye roll in the last words. “He needs something, a project!”

Louis sighs, because if Niall can’t help him, Katie’s party will be a disaster and his daughter will hate him. At the very least, she’ll give him the silent treatment the following day. It’s very hard to ask your daughter how school is going when she only glares at you.

“He’s actually good at baking?” Louis clarifies again.

“He never shuts up about how he used to work in a bakery,” Niall confirms dryly. “You free tomorrow? We can all meet to Lattetude at ten.” Louis agrees and hangs up.

Louis is blowing on his cup of tea, sitting across from Niall and waiting. This mysterious ex-baker - Niall refuses to say his actual name - is ten minutes late. Louis, once upon a time, would have been the same, but Katie had rapidly changed that about him. She liked to be on time to everything, including school, and had stomped her foot at him just last week for taking too long to find his missing shoe.

“If he’s an imaginary friend, Niall, it’ll be okay,” Louis starts earnestly with his hand outstretched on the table between them. “We can get you help.” Because taking the piss out of his long-time friend is far easier than thinking he is totally screwed when it comes to this damned party.

Then the door opens and someone practically falls in, hat and brown curls hiding his face until he pops upright and oh-

It’s Harry Styles, international rock star after winning The X Factor at age 17. And he’s coming to their table, greeting Niall like they’re old friends and Louis needs to get his brain back online immediately.

“You’re Harry Styles,” Louis says as Harry slides into the seat next to Niall.

“Hi,” Harry gives a little wave, rings flashing in the morning sunlight. “Heard you needed some help.” He sets his hat down next to him.

“So much help, you have no idea.” Louis groans. “I hope you’re not lying in all those interviews where you claim to be a baker, because I saw that cake you allegedly made for Stevie Nicks and it looked like shit, mate.” Apparently Louis’ brain bypassed being polite to a certain stranger and just went with banter. The dimples are obviously to blame.

Niall cackles and reaches across the table so he can clap Louis on the shoulder at the same time as Harry does. “Right, I think you two can sort this out and I’ve got five hundred amuse-gueules to create. Good luck, Louis.”

Louis is left speechless at Niall’s quick exit, perhaps because he wasn’t expecting this sort of abandonment. It doesn’t last for long.

He looks across the table at the very famous person, who’s got his hands folded and an eager expression on his face. “You’ve really got the time for this, Harry Styles? I don’t know how much Niall has told you, but this baking and teaching thing might be more than you expect.”

Harry nods gravely. “I’ve got time. Er,” he shrugs. “I’m on a break right now. And it’s just Harry.”

“You reportedly left your label. I’d call that a bit more than a break.”

“I did do that. They weren’t nice,” Harry concedes and dismisses it away with a shrug. “I’m not looking to sign with someone right now, Niall said he had a friend who needed some coaching.”

“Stevie Nicks’ cake,” Louis repeats.

Harry pouts, all big eyes and bigger hair when he runs a hand through it. “The hotel oven wasn’t cooperative at all.”

“You look like Katie when I said we couldn’t get another dog,” Louis says without thinking. He didn’t mean to bring up his daughter this soon, but something about Harry’s effortless charm makes Louis feel like they’ve been friends for years, not known each other all of ten minutes.

“Katie? Your daughter?” Harry asks, like he might have gotten it wrong.

“She’s seven, turning eight, and last week she came to me with a stack of papers, hang on.” Louis digs in his backpack for the green folder he’s been keeping the printouts in and heaves it onto the table in front of Harry. “Yeah, she came to me with these and demanded I make them for her birthday sleepover. It’s like she hasn’t cottoned on that I can only cook five things.”

“Cooking and baking are different,” Harry reassures him, and starts shuffling the papers about. “Some of these should be pretty easy.” He pinches some of them together and holds them up. “Cocktail recipes for a kid’s party?”

“Entirely Niall.” Louis casts the blame easily even if he himself had been the one to find them on the internet. He’s got to have a plan for when the sugar-high hellions finally succumb to the sugar crash and he’s finally allowed some quiet. Harry’s concerned eyebrows lower and he nods. “How long have you known him, anyhow?”

“He was the assistant caterer at a party I didn’t really want to be at.” Harry waves a hand like this has happened many times before. “So he let me put the edible flowers on all the bite-size polenta cakes while I was in the kitchen. We stayed in touch, I came back to London, and now I’m here.” He dimples at Louis like he’s given the gold curly scripted THE END at a film starring princesses.

Louis is only a little surprised at the story. Niall has a tendency to make friends in unexpected places and from what he’s seen of Harry in the tabloids, he’s the same way. Of course they’d end up finding each other.

“So,” Harry draws out the word as he spreads papers all about. “I think this pile,” one hand comes down on the small stack to his left, “this pile is doable. Hopefully Katie can understand we can’t make every single item in this folder.”

“Yeah, she’ll get over it. I think she’ll probably be surprised that I managed even one of these and got it mostly right.” It’s Louis’ turn to raise an eyebrow at Harry. “That’s where you come in.”

“Right. Well, what have you done so far?” Harry asks.

“The skull cupcakes, but the icing keeps melting off,” Louis mutters into the cold dregs of his tea.

“They were too hot,” Harry says promptly. “You have to let them cool completely before icing them.” He peers at Louis. “You really are a bit shit at this, aren’t you?”

“I really am,” Louis confirms with a sigh and Harry laughs.

“We’ll work on that. For now, maybe we swap numbers and then we can find a time for me to come to yours and help you with the basics?” Harry bites his lip as a thought clearly just occurs. “Only if you’re okay with that, I didn’t mean to invite myself over!”

“I promise I won’t sell your number to the highest bidder,” Louis jokes and Harry smiles.

“I wasn’t worried, Louis.”

The doorbell rings five minutes before Harry’s due.

“I can get it!” Katie shouts from the living room and Louis can hear the pounding of small feet.

“With me, baby,” Louis reminds her. He hoists her up to look through the peephole after a quick look himself and promptly winces at the resultant shriek.

“It’s Harry Styles!” Katie announces. She opens the door before Louis can stop her. “Are you lost? Do you need a wee?”

Harry blinks once before he laughs, throwing his head back. Katie giggles with him and allows Louis to pull her back to his side with minimal fuss.

“Come on in,” Louis greets, and Harry follows him through the entrance to the kitchen.

“You brought shopping?” Katie’s voice breaks the weird staring contest happening between the two of them.

“An Irish birdie told me your dad needed some help getting ready for your party.” Harry crouches down to talk to her at her eye level and Louis is ridiculously grateful for the small kindness.

“But that’s ages away,” Katie argues. “And you’re famous.”

“Lots of people think I am,” Harry agrees. “But your dad wants to make it the best party he can, so he wants to make sure the cupcakes aren’t poison.”

Katie’s eyes widen and she spins around to Louis. “Can we do that? Can we make poison cupcakes? I can invite Beth because she isn’t very nice, and we won’t tell her-”

“No.” Louis cuts her off. “No actual poison cupcakes are being made.” He flashes a small glare at Harry, who pretends not to notice as he starts taking items out of his carrier bag to sit on the kitchen table.

There’s flour, sugar, orange and white popping candy, hundreds and thousands, brown sugar, an electric mixer, cupcake cases that are neon green with tiny pumpkins on them, and probably more, but Louis is too busy gaping.

“You didn’t need to buy ingredients, Harry. I’ve got everything I think we need.”

Harry smiles with one dimple. “I wasn’t sure, and it’s always best to be prepared. And in case we make a mistake, then we can make more without having to run out to the shops.” Louis reaches for his wallet to pay him back and Harry’s expression turns into a frown. “I won’t accept that,” he warns. “Don’t even try it.”

Louis tries twice more to hand him some notes and Harry pushes his hand back gently. He doesn’t let go, though, and Louis holds his gaze.

“What are we making?” Katie interrupts them yet again and Louis’ attention snaps back to her.

“What would you like to make, bug?” Louis turns the question back on her. “Any of these are probably doable.”

“Coffin cookies!” Katie is quick to decide and thrusts the page at Louis.

“I don’t think-” Louis begins, because he has no idea how to make coffins out of a sheet of cookie dough.

“That sounds like a wonderful idea!” Harry cuts in, and waves something silver at both father and daughter. “But we don’t have to stick to coffins, there’s also bats and cats and broomsticks and a witch’s hat.”

“Ooh,” Katie gets closer to the table and picks up all the cookie cutters she can hold with both hands. “Let’s do all of them.”

“Yeah, okay.”

The first batch of cookies-to-be is sticking to everything when Louis tries to roll it out, and Harry puts the dough ball back in the fridge. Harry declares the dough must chill, so they have a tea break while they wait. Louis resigns himself to playing host for longer than he thought and is surprisingly okay with that.

Katie takes her turn with the rolling pin and then they have an array of bats, ghosts and pointed hats on baking trays. Long minutes later and they’ve spread into unrecognizable, crunchy blobs. Katie looks like she might cry, lip wobbling.

“They didn’t work right!” she says loudly and dashes a hand across her face.

“Hey, that happens sometimes.” Harry consoles. “Even to people who’ve been bakers for their whole lives, not just one day. You know why?”

Louis shakes his head in unison with his daughter.

“You remember all the butter we put in?” Harry’s tone is calm and patient. “If it gets too warm before we put the cookies in, they end up as that.” His nose wrinkles on the last word and it gets a laugh from the enthralled seven year old.

They make another batch, Harry rolling the dough into a rectangle with efficient movements for Katie to stamp the cookie cutters in. Louis only takes a little advantage of the gun display that is Harry in short sleeves.

The third time Harry comes over, again with a bag full of shopping, Louis resolves to pay him back.

They’ve worked their way through cookies and cupcakes - it turns out icing cooled cupcakes is definitely easier - and today is pumpkin bars. It involves browning butter, apparently.

He and Katie watch as Harry stands at the microwave, carefully peering through the window as the bowl of butter spins round and round. He jabs at the button to pause the rotation and pulls out the bowl to show both Tomlinsons. Louis makes a face because yep, the butter is brown alright. He thinks it can’t possibly be good - and eats his words an hour later when the bars have cooled, because they’re delicious.

Louis is expecting Harry to make his excuses as usual, but they don’t come while Katie is teaching Harry the best way to braid dolls’ hair. The clock ticks over to five, the time Louis normally starts considering what to feed his bottomless pit of a kid.

“You uh,” Louis pokes his head into the playroom and looks directly at Harry, who’s wearing a plastic tiara and letting Katie’s smaller hands lie atop his own larger ones as she teaches him hairstyles. “You two getting hungry?” He wills himself not to blush because it’s just a meal and Harry already knows Louis isn’t the best in the kitchen.

“Yes, Daddy,” Katie says with no pause.

“I can head out.” Harry starts to stand and Katie tugs on his hand to stay.

“Eat with us!” she pleads and Harry breaks away from staring at Louis to look down at her.

“It’s up to your dad, but I’d love to stay.”

“It’s chicken and mash out of a box,” Louis informs him. Harry grins like he’s just been told he’ll be dining with the Queen.

“I can help, if you need,” he offers, wrapping a hair elastic around the bottom of the doll’s braid with practiced ease.

“Me too!” Katie chimes in.

“Absolutely!” Louis matches Harry’s dimpled smile. “Katie, can you share with Harry what’s the first thing we do when we make dinner?”

“Wash hands!” she chirps and runs off to the bathroom. The two men head downstairs.

“I thought you said you didn’t cook much,” Harry murmurs as Louis has his head stuck in the fridge, looking for where he stashed the lettuce.

“I don’t, but I can’t lie to my mother about what I feed Katie. I aim for at least one approximation of a meal that isn’t Chinese or pizza a week.” He shrugs as he sets the greens on the counter. “Sometimes it ends up being those things anyway.”

“We all have those days, Lou,” Harry reassures with a laugh. “You’re doing alright, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Louis is saved from answering when Katie barrels into the kitchen.

“What’s my job?” she asks, and looks to Harry for instruction like it’s another baking lesson.

“Oi!” Louis cries. “I thought I was making dinner here.”

“I’m a good helper though.” Katie protests and Harry nods his head behind her.

“True,” Louis concedes with faux thoughtfulness, like it took some time to reach that decision. “Then I guess you can be in charge of salad.” He hands her the bag. “Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces and please remember none of us are snakes.”

“We can’t unhinge our jaws,” Katie sighs heavily as she turns away to sit at the table. “I remember.”

Harry raises an eyebrow. Louis explains there had been a documentary on telly a few months ago as he hands the chicken over.

“Do what you will with that, I usually just pop it in the oven.”

Harry skirts by him, side brushing warm against Louis as he takes a look in the refrigerator. “We’ll see what I can do with what you have.”

Louis doesn’t reply, too busy looking over the back of the box directions even though he’s made this mash a hundred times before. He and Harry cook in silence, standing next to each other at the counter with their bowls and spoons as Katie chatters on about who’s coming to the party next week.

“And you’ll be there, right?” breaks into Louis’ less than kid-friendly thoughts on Harry’s long ringed fingers.

“You didn’t give me much of a choice, baby.” Louis replies.

“Not you, I know you have to be there.” Katie is quick to say. “Is Harry gonna be there?”

“If your dad’s okay with it,” Harry says. “I don’t have to spend the night,” he murmurs to Louis quietly.

“My bed’s big enough for two,” Louis says without thinking, and then feels his cheeks heat up when the words register.

“Maybe when there aren’t eleven little girls sleeping in your living room,” Harry’s voice is a low promise and Louis’ dick is definitely interested.

“Yeah, I’ll get back to you on that.”

Harry puts a gentle hand on Louis’ waist to move him away from the oven door. Louis smiles to himself once Harry moves away to compliment Katie on her leaf tearing skills and check over the table settings.

So they’re both interested, that’s good to know.

Dinner itself is nothing different than their usual after-baking taste tests, except the chicken is absolutely fantastic and far better than the usual salt and pepper Louis usually does.

“What did you do to it?” Louis tries not to speak with his mouth full. He doesn’t want to teach Katie bad habits, but it’s really ridiculous something that good came out of his kitchen.

“Honey and soy,” Harry answers promptly, dimples out in full force.

“Really? You’re a genius!”

“It’s good, I like it.” Katie offers her opinion and Harry turns his smile on her.

“I’m very happy to hear that, Katie.” and she smiles back at him, wide. Dinner continues and Louis might consider playing footsie with Harry if he wasn’t sitting next to him.

He gets his chance to give the money back when Katie is busy fawning over Harry’s pink boots by the door and asking if they’ll be okay in the light rain; he surreptitiously stuffs a twenty-pound note into a plastic bag so it doesn’t get messy and sticks it on top of the mash before closing the lid. Louis realizes it’s silly, since Harry is more than likely a multi-millionaire, but he’s not a charity case. He resolves to have enough ingredients on hand the next time Harry comes over - in three days.

“Food to go!” Louis sings out and presses it into Harry’s hands. “See you in three.”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Harry promises and there’s something underneath the words, something bigger.

Louis debates kissing him, Harry’s standing literally right there, but then Katie yells alarmingly from upstairs and he’s got to go see what that’s about. He doesn’t expect Harry to follow and crowd into the bathroom with him.

“C’mere, let me see.” Louis coaxes Katie’s hand away from her mouth while Harry takes the baby tooth in a tissue, blotting the blood off. “It looks fine, you just need to swish some water around to clean it out, okay?”

He meets Harry in the hallway, who hands over the tooth with a guilty expression. “I should go, sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep,” he apologizes. Louis waves it off.

“You were fine, and this isn’t the first tooth. It’s pretty funny when you think about it.”

“What is?” Harry steps closer, so his pink boots and Louis’ bare feet are nearly touching.

“Katie loves poison and snakes and all of that, but the sight of her own blood leaves her ill.”

“Probably won’t have a doctor in the family then,” Harry surmises. Louis laughs.

“No, I think not. Now I’ve got to get her to bed,” Louis tilts his head towards the doorway with a pink crown on it.

“Oh right, sorry!” Harry apologizes again. “I’ll see you soon then.”

“See you soon,” Louis promises, tugs on a brown curl with a smile and then goes to put his daughter to bed.

This time, Harry arrives at Louis’ house not with a grocery sack but an actual overnight bag.

“Eager, aren’t we?” Louis raises an eyebrow and delights in the responsive blush.

“No,” Harry denies. “I mean, yes, but I wouldn’t stay without asking first. It’s just because I’m crashing at my friend’s house tonight.”

“I see.” Louis says, even though he doesn’t.

Harry grins sheepishly. “I’m sort of homeless at the moment? They’re working on my house and it keep taking longer than expected.” A brief look of annoyance and frustration graces his face before he goes back to smiling at Louis like it’s something he can’t help. “Not too large a problem, I’ve got enough friends in the area with couches.”

Louis shakes his head and tells him he can leave his bag by the door. He doesn’t want to chance getting pumpkin guts on any of that leather.

Pumpkin carving is the activity of the day, two days before the actual party. Louis had gotten a kid’s set of carving knives for Katie but was prepared to do the bulk of two pumpkins because that flimsy plastic looked like it would break off sooner than cut a grinning jack o’lantern.

Katie had fun scooping out the pumpkin seeds and stringy guts, though more landed on the kitchen table than the bin right next to her chair. She carefully drew a face with pointed eyebrows in marker over the orange skin and then leaned over to watch Harry meticulously draw a sailing ship based off a photo on his iPhone.

Louis did his best to make the emoji with sunglasses. He jabbed the plastic knife into the right eyebrow of Katie’s pumpkin and then let her continue, reminding her that a sawing motion would do better than trying to drag it through the pumpkin.

He got through his own pumpkin in short order and then helped Katie, exchanging the kid’s knife for the one he had used. His hand over hers, they finished carving the fanged smile on her pumpkin. Harry was still leaning over his, tongue poking between his lips as he concentrated. Louis let himself stare for a long moment and then got up to retrieve the tea candles to put inside.

“You nearly done, Haz?” The nickname slipped out without Louis’ permission.

“You can turn out the lights so Katie can see hers, I think this is going to take longer than I thought.” Harry frowned and set his knife aside as Katie jumped up to get the lights.

“Ooh!” Katie looked over the glowing pumpkins and waggled her fingers. “Spooky!”

“Yeah, they’ll look good for your party.” Louis agreed, reaching over her to turn the lights back on. He winked at Harry when he caught his eye. “Why don’t we let Harry finish his masterpiece at the table and you & I can decide what you want to eat for the party?”

“Two days!” Katie cheered.

It took less time than Louis thought for Katie to decide on the menu and Harry was still hard at work. He started on dinner then, employing Katie’s help to make everyone’s initials with fork tines on the tops of their frozen pot pies.

Somehow, Harry doesn’t look up until Louis is gently sliding the pumpkin away from his hands and replacing it with hot food.

“Oh.” Harry murmurs, looking down at the steam wafting from it.

“Eat up, da Vinci.” Louis says with a chuckle. “Your pumpkin is ridiculous. In the best way.”

“You made dinner again.”

“Wow!” Katie marvels at Harry’s three-masted ship on the pumpkin. “I want to do that next year!”

“We’ll see,” Louis says noncommittally. “For now, eat your pie.”

They all tuck in, not much for conversing after the creative hard work from earlier.

Harry stops Louis at the door before he can open the front door. “You didn’t have to pay me back.” He holds the folded note between two long fingers.

“We’re not that poor,” Louis responds sharply, pushing Harry’s hand back to rest on his chest. He’s wearing another half-buttoned shirt and Louis’ fingertips rest against skin where he’s covered Harry’s hand with his own. “I can more than afford to feed you every once in a while. You eat less than Niall.”

“That wasn’t what-” Harry stops, looking frustrated. He blows out a breath. “Alright. I get what you’re saying.”

“Good.” Louis switches conversation topics then. “Party starts at 5 o’clock on Saturday, but you can show up later if you’ve got something scheduled.”

“I’m a free bird,” Harry says with a grin and plays air guitar while he hums.

Louis smacks him on the shoulder. “You’re not as funny as you think you are, Harry Styles.” Then he’s faced with an overdrawn pout and big green eyes. Louis rolls his eyes and opens the door.

“See you on Saturday.” Harry tips an imaginary hat and leaves.

Saturday dawns with unexpected sunshine and a brisk bite to the air. Louis chivvies Katie out the door for fresh air in the morning and then they get to making the bulk of the treats for tonight. The kitchen is a bit of a disaster when they’re finished and Louis thinks he has flour in his hair, but they’ve got spooky cupcakes, blood punch, biscuits shaped like coffins, bats, witches hats and frosted appropriately. There’s also a plate of those pumpkin bars, where it only took Louis two attempts to brown butter in the microwave.

The clock ticks over to the hour and the doorbell rings shortly after. Children start arriving with parents, or in pairs with parents behind them. The kids are excited, costumed and looking forward to a night unsupervised by their own parents. Katie greets each of them, bouncing around and dragging blankets down from the upstairs closet to make the room more palatable to late night movies.

Louis puts on Casper because despite its early-90s production date, it’s still a classic. The kids settle down as the movie plays on, crammed on the couch and sitting on cushions on the floor.

They don’t look up when Harry finally arrives at quarter to six, engrossed. Louis puts a hand on Harry’s arm and steers him toward the kitchen just in case.

“Sorry I’m late,” Harry starts with an apology. “Thought I’d do some caramel apple slices but then I burned the caramel so I had to start over and-”

“It looks great, Harry.” Louis cuts in. He squeezes his arm gently and smirks at Harry’s blush. “You didn’t need to bring anything, really.”

“But what if Katie actually did poison the cupcakes?”

Louis laughs at that. “It’s more likely I did, trying to bake them on my own.” Harry turns his head to look over the table of food.

“No, they look safe.”

“Sure you don’t want to try one, just to be sure?” Louis asks, even as Harry’s hand is coming up to cup his face.

“Rather taste something else.” Harry murmurs and Louis lifts up on his toes to meet him. They’ve been dancing around their unspoken attraction for the past weeks.

They break apart only when the need for breathing gets to be too much and Louis comes to the realization that Harry’s backed himself against the fridge, Louis caging him in with one hand still in the long hair that, for once, isn’t up in a bun.

“Hey Lou?” Harry says quietly.


“Why did the skeleton not cross the road?”

That wasn’t what Louis was expecting to hear and he’s sure his face reflects it. Harry waits, leaning against the fridge and stroking a thumb over Louis’ cheekbone.

“Why, Harry?”

“He didn’t have any guts.”

Louis groans. “I do, though,” Harry says earnestly. “I’ve really enjoyed the times you let me into your house, and Katie is a delightful little girl. But maybe, next time, we could go to mine? Just us?” He drops his hands away from Louis and starts to fiddle with his rings as Louis backs up a step.

“You want to go out.”

“I want to be boyfriends,” Harry corrects.

“I can’t give you any more than this,” Louis says, a sweep of his hand encompassing the house.

“This is more than enough, I promise.” Harry breathes with a smile.

“I can’t cook,” Louis warns with a smile.

“We can work on that, if you want.” Harry offers and holds out his hands. Louis takes them and lets Harry pull him closer.

“Maybe after you take me out on a proper date with no children around.”

“It’s a date,” Harry confirms and leans down to kiss him again. Louis could get used to having a boyfriend.