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Back at it Again

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They’re sitting on Harry’s bed doing homework when Louis decides that enough is enough. It’s time to figure out what’s going on with Harry.

“Hazza. What's bothering you?” Louis asks. Harry looks caught off guard, but not surprised. “You've been acting funny and don't try to tell me otherwise. It can only help to talk about it.”

This certainly isn't the first time Louis has called him out and made him divulge his feelings, and it won't be the last. 

Harry sighs, and he sets aside the textbook he'd been reading to walk toward the closet door.

“Okay, Louis, you can't laugh,” Harry says. “Promise?”

“Pinky promise,” Louis confirms, sticking out his right pinky in symbolic agreement. He straightens his back on the bed, sitting ready and at attention for whatever Harry could pull out of the closet. It can't be more intense, more personal, than when Harry had metaphorically brought himself out.

Harry pulls the door open the sound of plastic clothes hangers clanging against each other fills the room. Louis can see his face reddening, like he's embarrassed of what he's about to show him.

“Is it a dildo?” Louis asks, trying to diffuse the tension he can see in Harry's eyebrows, in his cheeks, in his rigid back. They both giggle, and he's relieved to see Harry's shoulders relax. His hands are finally unmoving, but remain out of Louis' sight.

“Okay," Harry begins. "I've been thinking. And you know how, um, how I've been dressing differently than I used to?” Louis nods. “Alright so. I like it, like I like the scarves, and I like the jeans, and all. But I think. I want to take it further, but I don't know if I'll be able to. Like if I'm confident enough.”

Harry takes a deep breath before pulling out a hanger from the closet. And what's hanging on it is gorgeous. It's a pink button-up shirt, and not only that, it's floral.

If there’s anything Louis knows for certain, it’s that Harry always looks good. He looked good in the baggy sweats and joggers he used to wear all the time, he looked good in the khakis, he looked good in the t-shirts, the jackets, swim trunks, anything. Louis could verify it all. From a perfectly neutral, best friend point of view. Because, yeah, okay, Louis can also confirm that Harry's attractive, both that other people think so, and that he himself thinks so, but Harry's Harry. His BFFL. Best friend for life. Anyway. He knows that Harry will look good in this.

“You’re worried about what people think of you?” Louis asks, and Harry nods his head. “Oh, love, come here.”

Louis knows what it's like to crave the attention and validation of strangers. He's garnered himself a small but still significant number of followers on his various social media outlets, not for anything more than making a few vines that did well a few years back. The attention now is nowhere near what it used to be, and he's thankful for it. Now they're mostly other young people, looking for advice, for someone to talk to, to look up to, and he's honored to be that for them. And most of all he loves how it’s helped him be a better, more supportive friend. To Harry especially.

“You know what I always say, yeah? Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don't matter.” He takes Harry's hand and gives him a tight squeeze of reassurance. “You know I'll always love you,” Harry glances his eyes away, so Louis continues. “And Anne and Gemma will always love you,” He says. “And my mum, and the lads. We're all so proud of you.”

Harry looks close to tears—the good kind—but Louis knows he still gets embarrassed about anyone seeing him cry regardless of the reason, so he pulls him in for another hug.

“You should wear the shirt tomorrow. Want to pick out a full outfit together?” Louis whispers in Harry's ear after a bit.

“You think I should?”

“I know you should.”

--

Louis waits for Harry the next day by their lockers, like every morning. When he spots Harry down the hallway, it’s like a vision in pink is walking toward him, and all he can think is damn. Daaaamn, Harry looks good. 

He’s always loved filming Harry, whether it be for his own private collection of cute Harry moments, or for snapchat, or vine, or anything really. So no one should be surprised when he raises his phone, snapchat already open, and starts filming.

“Damn, Harry!” Harry is still a bit down the hallway, but his voice is loud enough to be clear that he’s filming him, camera panning up and down his body. Harry immediately flushes, but the smile painting his face reminds him of the first time Harry had girl scout cookies, or maybe the first time he’d been high.

He hits the add to story button immediately after he downloads the video, and then pockets his phone to greet Harry up close.

“Haz! You look so good! Do a spin for me, will ya?”

Harry obliges him, the faint red tint still coloring his face, but a grin along with it. He twirls, arms raised in a shrug, and when he circles and looks at Louis again, his eyes are glimmering.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Let’s go to class, H! Gotta show you off to everyone." 

-- 

Thirty-three snapchat notifications welcome Louis after his chem test. They’re all messages, and most of them mention Harry. He screenshots the compliments, blocks the few haters, and responds with thanks to all who sent kind things.

--

A phone call wakes Louis at seven in the morning the next day, pulling him from a fuzzy dream that leaves him with the imagery of pink satin and brown curls and a deep voice whispering against his ear.

The very same voice responds to his gruff hello with a cheery lilt. “Lou, I never showed you the other day. But I bought more? Like more clothes. I have these boots, I’m not sure though—”

“Wear them, H.”

“You’re sure you aren’t just saying that because I woke you up?”

“Harry, wear the boots. I’ll see you at school.” He swipes, ending the call, and closes his eyes, eager to return to his dream.

--

He’s late getting to school that day, but slipping into first hour undetected has always been one of his most prideful skills. And besides, Mrs. Bingen adores him. He’s not worried.

Harry, however, looks over at him with a betrayed look on his face. They alway meet before class, and Louis hadn’t texted to say he’d be late. Though Harry can put on a mean look, Louis knows he isn’t really mad. He’ll forgive him when he pulls out the bagels he’d stopped to grab on the way to school. Because hey, if you’re already late, a few more minutes aren’t going to make a huge difference.

“Haz, I’m sorry. I must have turned off my alarm when I hung up on you this morning.”

Harry shakes his head in disapproval and narrows his eyes at Louis, turning his body to face the front of the classroom. It’s during Harry’s movement that a glimmer catches Louis’ eyes, and he’s immediately drawn to Harry’s boots. They’re gold. They’re shiny. They’re gorgeous .

Damn.

He pulls out his phone, opening snapchat discreetly under the desk. The classroom is pretty loud, people working on assignments throughout, so he opts for another video.

The camera is focused on his boots when he starts filming, and while he pans up to his face, he says “Damn, Harry,” just to be consistent from the day before. Because it’s a good line, and because it’s true.

Harry turns and locks eyes with Louis, who quickly flips over his phone on his thigh. He’ll put it in his story in a moment.

“Louis!” Harry chastises. Okay, maybe he was a bit louder than the ambient buzz of students in the room.

“Harry! Your boots look so good! You didn’t say they were gold!”

Harry breaks eye contact to look down at the assignment out in front of him. He’s smiling, though, so Louis isn’t worried.

“They’re awesome on you, H. I’m so proud of you,” he says, lowering his voice so only Harry can hear. And if Harry flushes, then that’s just a bonus.

--

The next few weeks pass quickly, and then slowly, and then quickly again, mostly based on the amount of homework he’s been putting off. He goes to the thrift store with Harry a few times, and they pick out several cheap women’s blouses for Harry to expand his changing wardrobe.

His confidence grows every day, and Louis keeps taking video of him in his new outfits, always accompanied by a comment. Most of the time it’s just “Damn, Harry! ” But whenever he wears the gold boots he mentions them, just to point them out to everyone. So no one will miss them. That’d be a tragedy.

It’s become a thing. “Damn Harry, back at it again with those gold boots!” Harry just rolls his eyes every time he films, but he’s always smiling, eyes crinkling at the edges, so Louis knows it’s good.

--

But of course, it all comes to a very pointed head on Wednesday.

He gets to school right as Harry’s walking toward the door, and he runs after him, chasing him with snapchat running and a “Daamn, Harry!!” Already echoing through the parking lot. 

Harry turns, and today, everything is different. His face is red, his eyebrows furrowed, lips downturned, and his eyes look puffy, like he’s been crying. Louis is taken aback.

“Louis, just stop! I know you’ve been making fun of me, and I’m sick of it. So just stop!”

He’s pretty sure his heart is in his stomach. He might need emergency surgery, because this is the worst feeling he’s ever had. He can count on zero fingers the number of times Harry’s been this upset with him, and on two fingers the times they’ve had “big” arguments.

“Harry, I don’t know what you mean, I’m sorry, I don’t-" 

“Louis, I saw your snapchat, okay? I get it. Let’s make fun of the gay kid and his fashion choices. I thought you were just filming me for you, but now I know it’s more than that.” Harry’s voice is stern, and he’s just wavering on this side of crying. Louis can tell from the tiniest quavers, and it breaks his heart even further than it already is. He hopes a witness has already called for an ambulance, because this emergency surgery is becoming more and more emergent.

“Haz, no, please. You know that’s not what’s going on,” Harry’s turning to walk away, and Louis can’t let this go on any longer than it already has. “Harry, stop, right now.” He uses his serious voice, and Harry stills at it few feet in front of him. “H, please. You know I would never. I’m so proud of you. I’m so sorry I never told you about posting them. I was just excited to see you...to see you being yourself.” Harry turns to look at Louis, and he can see the tears threatening to fall.

Louis closes the distance between them, putting his hands on Harry’s shoulders. “Love, you know that I would never, ever, make fun of you for being you, right?”

Harry opens his mouth to respond, but it takes a few moments before he does. “I just—I don’t understand, Louis. Why?”

He remembers the folder of screenshots on his phone, the kind messages he’s been holding on to. The ones he looks at when he’s feeling proud of Harry and wants to look at other people being proud of him too. “Wait, Harry. One second,” He pulls his phone out of his pocket and opens up the folder, wordlessly handing it to Harry.

He watches over his shoulder as Harry swipes through the most recent saved messages.

“Harry looks so bomb in that blazer! Damn, Harry!” 

“Back @ it again w/ the gold boots haha legend. Tell Harry he looks A+” 

“H in that nail varnish is my jam, love it!”

“DAaaamn, Harry!!! YEss!”

Now Harry’s tears are actually falling, so Louis reaches over to dab the wetness from his eyes with his sleeve. “I wasn’t sure if you’d want to see them, but I wanted to save them. There are so many like this, H. You’re so wonderful. I’m so proud of you.” He pauses. “Everyone is. Strangers are proud of you.”

They turn into each other and Harry pulls Louis tightly into an embrace.

“Louis, you have no idea what this means to me. All of it.” Harry sniffles a bit, and Louis doesn’t even care that his sweater is probably getting tears on it. “You, every day, filming me. I thought—I thought it was just for you, but. This is. This is special too. Thank you. 

“H, I love you.” Louis pulls away from the hug, squeezing his shoulders as they go. “I love you so much, you’re my best friend, okay? I’ll always be here to support you.”

A fleeting look of real sadness crosses Harry’s face before the smile returns, but he looks distracted. Like maybe he remembered a quiz he has later, or an assignment he forgot to do. Louis is just too focused on being happy this is cleared up to mind.

After only a tiny, little bit more emotional standing around and embracing in the parking lot, they walk to class together. When Louis pulls out his phone to check the time, he sees the video he’d taken just before Harry had blown up at him.

“Wait, H. Can I take a new one? For today? Is that alright?” Harry nods, face reddening as it always seems to be doing these days. “Alright. Keep walking.” He starts up the camera and pans around to the front of Harry while running ahead of him. “Daaammmn, Harry! Back at it again with those gold boots! Damn! Damn, Harry, damn!” Harry’s laughing the entire time he films, and when he puts the video on his story, he feels the weight lift off of his shoulders now that Harry’s finally in on the entire thing.

--

And then somehow, things get big. Really big. Like, thousands of notifications big. Tens of thousands. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands. Bigger than anything he’d ever posted that had gone slightly viral.

There’s a compilation video of all of this snapchats going around. He didn’t even know you could download other peoples’ snapchat videos. The video is famous. #damnharry is trending worldwide on twitter. His facebook is filled with links from his family, and posts from his friends. Every picture he’s ever uploaded anywhere is being commented on with some derivation of “Damn, Harry!” And “Back at it again with those gold boots!” Which are now, apparently, his two catchphrases.

He’s not even sure Harry has notifications turned on for his instagram, but when he checks there, he has much of the same. Much more of the same, it seems, as he’s been uploading artsy photos of his clothes, his shoes, his nails, his hair, everything pretty frequently as of late.

He’s laying in bed when he finds out, and of course, the first thing he does is call Harry. Or at least, he means to. He totally will as soon as this is done. Somehow he’s ended up lost in the #damnharry tag on twitter. Unsurprisingly, it’s filled with his own quotes, but when he scrolls a bit, what he sees makes him drop his phone right onto his own face.

He scrambles to return the phone to his hand, sitting up this time to avoid bruising his face or his ego any further.

“the guy who's filming this harry dude is in love with harry believe me #damnharry"

“#damnharry + Camera guy are my otp”

“Who here ships #damnharry with the camera guy? New fave!”

“Okay but #damnharry and the snapchat dude are dating, my cousin niall goes to school with them”

“The level of support in #damnharry + camera guy’s relationship is amazing. He loves Harry and is obviously so proud of him #goals”

And. Okay. For the most part, they’re not wrong. Louis loves Harry. He’s so proud of him. Their relationship is amazing. But he’s not in love with Harry. They’re not dating.

Except then Louis realizes.

Yes, yes he is. He is in love with Harry. 

--

Monday morning is the most nerve wracking day of school he’s ever had to attend. It's more stressful than the stress levels he had during all of college auditions all stacked on top of each other. If all the faculty from each audition he did were all in one room, he’d rather go to that room, do an audition in the nude, with new unpracticed material and unpracticed, than go to school.

Harry skips up to their lockers holding a thermos out to Louis, a grin stretching his face. Because of course Louis didn’t ever call him to tell him what’s going on. And of course he doesn’t know yet. Of course he doesn’t. Because the world hates Louis, and he’s gotta break it to Harry that he’s famous.

A chorus of “Damn, Harry!!”s break them out of their bubble, and Harry raises an eyebrow at Louis.

“Lou, why is-”

Another from down the hall shuts him up.

“Harry, shit. I think. I didn’t know if you knew, but I guess. Someone uploaded my snapchats. It’s all over. It’s like-”

“Morning, lads!” Niall, the other-side-locker-neighbor to Harry and arguably one of their best friends, interrupts. “Harry, hear you’re famous now. May I say, damn, Harry, fine job you’ve done becoming a meme!”

“Yeah, Niall, I hear you’ve been spreading lies about us on the internet, mh? Or maybe through a cousin? Sound familiar?” He butts in before Harry can respond.

“I just told her the truth, lad, she was the one who made the logical assumption!” He slams the locker door shut and walks away.

“Louis, what was that? What’s going on?” Harry looks small, like he’s lost months worth of confidence in mere moments.

“Haz, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know if you knew, I just found out yesterday.” He should have warned Harry, he should have said something. “Wanna ditch, go watch Netflix instead? Ride it out? The internet will be obsessed with something new come Wednesday, just wait,” Harry shakes his head, but he looks hesitant.

“I gotta. Ugh. I have a test in third period... Can we go home at lunch?” Harry doesn’t seem to be mad at him, at least. More upset with the situation. Which he gets. Because, same.

“Yes, yes, god yes. I have a feeling this is gonna be the longest three hours of our lives, filled with as many shouts of ‘Damn, Harry’ as possible,” he says. “You ready?”

--

They reconvene at their lockers at lunch, and they share a look, both clearly knowing exactly what the morning has been like for each other.

“Did you count them, H? I started counting in history. Two hundred seventy four,” he says in greeting.

“Damn, Harry!” Comes from down the hallway.

“And there’s two hundred seventy five,” Harry points to the yelling classmate. “Let’s go home, Lou, I’m so tired. Like, it’s nice and all. But I’m tired.”

“Yes, yes, yes a million times yes. Damn, Harry, what a good suggestion!”

“Heey!” Harry smacks him on the arm with absolutely no malice, and the two of them head to the door. “Let’s stop at the gas station and grab snacks, yeah?” Harry suggests. 

“I swear, Harry. Back at it again with the good suggestions."

Harry lets out one of his barking laughs, the ones that fill the entire hallway. A chorus of appreciative “Damn, Harry”s breaks out from the students gathered for lunch, and with a shared look, the two take off running for the front door.

--

When they’re finally at Harry’s, securely wrapped in blankets, each with a cheap gas station hot dog in their hands, a bag of chips between them, a fountain soda on the bedside table, and two overpriced pints of ice cream in the freezer downstairs, they can breathe easy.

“Wow, what a day, am I right or am I right, Haz?”

“Don’t remind me, Louis. It’s all so surreal.” He pauses to finish his hot dog, and the imagery of Harry shoving a phallic object into his mouth with his tongue out is enough for Louis to need to turn away, despite the fact that the hot dog is slathered in condiments and bears no resemblance to his cock. “Is this what it was like last time?”

“No, not really,” he starts. “It was different.” He grabs the soda from the table and takes a long sip from it. He tries not to think about how it’s the biggest size soda available. In for a penny, in for a pound, after all. “People didn’t see me on the street and call me out. But I mean, I feel like it’s worse for you.” 

They each shoot a grimace to each other, followed by a grin immediately for having the same instinct. Louis sets the soda down again before sliding onto his back.

“I don’t know. It’s not awful. Everyone’s being so supportive. It kinda feels nice to be told I look good,” Harry says.

“But…” Louis prompts.

“Well, I guess it’s just at the point where I can’t tell who’s doing it as a joke, and who’s serious.”

“At least you know I’m always being serious.” They both laugh at that, but Louis clarifies. “I mean, H. I’m so proud of you, and I always did the videos because I wanted you to know you were appreciated. Yeah?”

Harry nods and takes a swig of the soda before joining him in laying down, fitting himself right into the crook of Louis’ shoulder. And somehow, even though Harry is so much bigger than him, he fits just right. Has he always fit like that? It feels like this is the time to say something. Louis has always been an advocate for speaking your truths.

“Haz, I-” He’s cut off by a soft press of lips to his own. 

Harry lingers for a moment before pulling back and sitting up. “Louis, was that okay? I know like. I probably taste like a hot dog but so do you, but mostly I just really want to kiss you, do you want to kiss me too?”

“Harry, shit. Yes, I want to kiss you. Kiss me again,” he says, pulling at Harry’s arm to bring him closer, but really he just ends up sitting as well. “Harry, I’ve been gone for you for so long. Shit, I don’t even know how long, I didn’t even know until like. Goodness...until yesterday , but now that I know, I know it’s been forever.”

“Louis,” Harry says. He lays a hand on Louis’ cheek, silencing him. “Louis, I love you so much. You mean the world to me.” He takes a deep breath, obviously trying to steady himself. “Can I kiss you again?” Louis nods, swallowing the lump in his throat.

Their lips find each other, and the kiss is superb. It’s like the most perfect thing, and it feels so, so right. The kiss deepens, and Louis is in heaven. It's perfect. It's blissful. It's so right.

Harry pulls away from the kiss far too soon, and ignores the look of questioning Louis shoots him. He looks like a man on a mission, and he supposes he is, but whether that mission is to kiss Louis or to tell a joke, he's sure he'll find out momentarily. 

“Damn, Louis! You’re a great kisser!”