Louis quietly called, “You awake in there, baby?” as he pulled an oversized red reindeer sweater over his head. When there was no reply, he smirked and smoothed the material down his stomach. He already had on black sweats and a white long sleeved tee, but felt a bit of layering was in order. He slowed his steps, his gray sweater-patterned socks padding extra quiet on the hardwood.
Harry was asleep on the sofa, his bum on the centre cushion but his body wilted sideways to face-plant on the arm. His mouth was open and smushed, snores vibrating against the arm’s material. Louis pulled a white cashmere throw off the top of the sofa and placed it over Harry. He watched Harry cuddle his face against the sofa, his fingers grasping the edge of the throw. He checked his watch.
“Hey,” Louis whispered with a gentle squeeze to Harry's shoulder. “Let’s go to our room. Time for bed. Better for your neck.”
“Your show,” Harry said, his lips still smushed on the sofa. His eyes moved beneath his lids before he blinked. He licked his lips. “I’m up.”
Louis smiled and kissed the arch of his neck.
“We can watch tomorrow. You’re dead from today.”
Harry scrubbed his hand over his face. He blinked faster and smiled, fitting his palm over Louis’ hand on his shoulder.
“Nah, I’m up. Let’s watch, or else we’ll fall behind.”
Louis arched his brows. “You’re sure?”
“Alright. Lemme do the lights.” Louis jogged into the kitchen. He sighed at the light switch. “Harry, love, I told you I’d do the rest of the dishes tomorrow.”
“I was at the sink,” Harry said sleepily. "We have a dishwasher." Louis looked over in time to see Harry wave his hand from under his pile of cashmere. “It was nothing.”
“Well, thank you. You didn’t have to do that. I don’t know how you’re awake right now. Bakery madness all morning. Hosting Christmas lunch here. Dessert at Liam and Zayn's. Oh nice,” Louis whispered, softer. “Kettle’s still hot.”
Harry took a deep breath and stretched his legs across the length of the sofa while listening to cups clink on the kitchen counter. He heard Louis pour water into two mugs, followed by the click of the kitchen lights. He looked up at Louis as Louis sat on the middle of the sofa.
“Hi,” Harry drawled, his voice rough but his smile wide. He accepted a mug of tea. “Thanks, love.”
“You’re welcome.” Louis snuggled between Harry’s body and the back of the sofa, Harry fluffing the throw over them. They sipped for a moment. “Did the thing record it right?”
Louis reached for the remote on the coffee table, Harry placing both of their mugs within reaching distance. Harry curled on his side, slotting his feet between Louis’ ankles. His socks were mismatched; Santa on his right foot, candy cane stripes on his left.
“Glasses?” Harry murmured.
Louis started The Real Housewives of Cheshire, settling down with his chin on top of Harry’s head. He wrapped his arms around him, Harry pushing back against his warmth. Louis rubbed his nose behind Harry’s ear.
“You smell like butter, love.”
“No sorry needed. Wanna eat you.”
Harry laughed lowly, rubbing Louis’ forearm in its spot looped around his chest. “I thought you said you’d be too tired tonight?”
Louis looked down at his groin snug to Harry’s arse, which looked fetching even in baggy red flannel pajama bottoms. He was completely exhausted from their long Christmas and the days leading up to it. He could only imagine how exhausted Harry was due to the bakery being so swamped during the holidays.
“We’re getting old,” Louis sighed, Harry cackling and rubbing his bum backwards. “I can’t believe it. We’re almost thirty, love. Thirty.”
“Oh please. You just turned twenty-nine, we had three helpings of birthday sex that night, and you fucked me over the dryer two days before that. I think we’re fine.”
“Mmm. True.” Louis pressed his lips behind Harry’s ear. “Nothing like a little holiday stress relief.”
“Besides, you’re the one who’ll be thirty in a year.” Harry bit Louis’ thumb, already giggling, “I’m the younger man.”
“Shush,” Louis laughed, muffling his laughter in Harry’s hair. “One year difference between us and suddenly I’m Mrs. Robinson. C’mon. We’re missing the show.”
They watched for a few moments, both blinking slower and slower but valiantly staying awake. Harry spun Louis’ ring on his finger, Louis’ thumb stroking back and forth over the dip of Harry’s chest. Louis kissed down Harry’s neck, keeping his lips soft and lazy. Harry smiled and pressed his arse backwards, their socked feet tangling together under the throw. Louis opened his lips to suck just above the collar of Harry’s black tee, Harry moaning ever so softly and arching his neck.
“We’ll just have to be quiet,” Louis whispered, Harry turning in his arms. Harry held his face with both hands before their lips, wet and warmed by tea, pressing together firmly. “And quick.”
Harry gripped the front of Louis’ sweats.
“I don’t think that will be an issue.”
Louis giggled and Harry smiled, muffling his laughter with his mouth. They had just started a good snogging and rutting rhythm when Louis’ eyes widened.
“Oh my God,” he blurted out, his hips still working to rub against Harry even with his face turned towards the television. “Your mum!”
“I don’t really want to talk about my mum right now,” Harry said with his face pressed to Louis’ neck.
“No, baby, look. Your mum is on the telly.”
Harry lifted his face and gasped, his eyes unblinking.
“What is going on?”
Louis turned the volume up a few ticks and sat up straighter, Harry’s head resting against his stomach. They watched Anne pass through the background of an art gallery scene.
“How did she not mention this at lunch today?” Harry asked, shaking his head.
“You two, I swear. You’re starting a Bravo family dynasty. Like the Kardashians.”
“Yeah right,” Harry chuckled, hugging Louis around his middle. He nuzzled his cheek to Louis’ stomach. “Top Chef and a background appearance on this show does not make us a dynasty.”
“I bet you’ll get a call tomorrow from Andy Cohen. It happened a year ago when we started everything and I’m sure it’ll happen again.”
“I will not,” Harry said, grinning. Louis lowered the television and both looked towards the bedroom hallway. “You’re silly.” Harry pushed himself up on his forearms. “I’ll be right back.” He kissed Louis’ stomach through his sweater. “Gonna get a jumper. I'm feeling cozy.”
“I’ll pause it.”
Harry pecked his lips. “You’re a star.”
“Soon I will be,” Louis said, fluffing his own messy quiff. “I’ll be a Bravo star in no time.”
Harry laughed over his shoulder and ruffled the back of his hair, then turned to walk down the hallway.
Louis lifted the edge of the throw and fluffed it over himself. He pulled the pillow behind his head higher, nudging his shoulders against the arm of the sofa. He heard Harry singing in the hallway, a smile blooming over his face.
“And I love you, I love you, I love you like never before,” Harry sang, his deep voice barely more than a whisper.
The sound made Louis’ ears heat and his eyes prickle, even after hearing him sing the same song countless times at countless hours of the day with every variation of emotion behind his words. Just from the rhythm of his singing, he could visualize Harry bouncing in a dimly lit doorway. Projected stars glowed inside a dark, pale yellow painted bedroom and teased across the hallway ceiling.
Louis sat up and craned his neck towards the hall. He smiled wider with his hands stretched outwards.
Harry carefully sat beside him on the sofa, a blanket covered bundle cradled to his chest. The blanket was pure white, save for a pattern of tiny yellow chicks. Louis laid the throw over Harry’s legs, then smoothed his daughter’s hair back. Her springy chestnut curls, a new development at around six months, bounced beneath his palm. He kissed her soft forehead, her full, deep rose lips pursed forward in sleep.
“Speaking of little stars,” Louis whispered. "Notre bébé poussin (Our little chick)."
Harry gave him a dimpled grin and hitched their snoozing baby girl higher in his arms.
“Ava wanted to see Nan on telly,” Harry whispered, cuddling sideways against Louis. Louis wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulders, his other hand settling on Ava’s blanket. “And show daddy her pretty new outfit.”
“Harry, did you seriously…” Louis peeled the blanket back and guffawed, hurrying to muffle his laugh in Harry’s shoulder. “You didn’t.”
They both laughed silently, their bodies shaking into each other. Harry whispered, “Shh,” as he laughed, trying to hold Ava still. She continued to snooze, her tiny hands curling into Harry’s shirt. He had not redressed their daughter in her newest wardrobe addition—having a baby taught them the utmost importance of time whenever their baby slept through the night—but had draped it over her front and hidden it under the blanket. “Your Aunt Rosie is a gifted stylist. What an eye for fashion.”
Louis peeled the outfit off of Ava and held it up.
“I can’t believe she actually bought this for our child.”
“Hey, Avie is going to be an adorable elf when she fits into this in, like”—Harry poked the red and green fabric covered in feather puffs and ribbons—“two years? Three years?”
“Who knows. We have a baby, but I’m still lost with proper clothing sizes.”
Harry held the outfit and gave Louis a sweet smile, swaying the dress side to side at the same time as his head. Little bells on the hem jingled. Louis laughed and leaned in, pecking his lips. Harry placed the dress on the sofa.
“At least we have her costume sorted for that year’s Christmas picture.”
“Ugh, that was such a production this year,” Louis groaned, rolling the back of his head on the couch. Though he groaned, he smiled wide, his eyes sparkling. He nudged his feet against Harry’s. “So many costume changes.”
“She’s only this little once,” Harry grumbled playfully, cradling her head under his chin. He narrowed his eyes, both smiling wider. “And you act like you didn’t cry for four out of the five costumes.”
“Five for five, to be honest. I cried in the toilet when you put her in the shimmery white dress. She looked like a snowball princess. I couldn’t handle it.” He blinked wider. “I might cry now just thinking about how perfect she looked.”
Harry murmured, “Aww,” and kissed his nose. “I love you.”
Louis kissed the top of Ava’s head, then softly kissed Harry’s lips.
“I love you, too. Both of you.”
They settled beside each other with their heads nuzzled side by side, their feet linked under the cozy blanket and Real Housewives playing on the telly. Ava took a tiny, snuffled breath and both rubbed her back, their fingers brushing together.