Actions

Work Header

break open the sky

Work Text:

It’s his third time out in as many days, but this is still the most gorgeous guy that’s come up to him on the packed dance floor all week. Maybe ever.

Sharp cheekbones, lips curled into the slightest of smirks even at rest and a body made for sinning. Harry looks down and sharp blue eyes stare back at him, teasing, challenging, while their bodies move to the deep beat. They’re in the midst of it, people all around them in similar embraces, but the guy -- Louis, right, he told him that before they started -- is basically riding his thigh so everyone else is nothing but an afterthought, a backdrop that gets his blood pumping. He can smell it, the tension and need from the crowd, some for sex but not all.

It doesn’t matter what others want though, others aren’t his concern because he’s here for it, for sex, and so is Louis. That’s all he has to know.

They both pretend the music’s beat is guiding them, but really, that has long since been replaced with a deeper need, desperate and strong. Harry is surprised they haven’t gone into the darkened back room of the club yet, like so many others before them when the fire in their veins gets too much, when they’re done with foreplay.

But Louis hasn’t asked him yet, just pulled him down with a hand fisted at the back of his head, panting against his cheek wetly while rubbing his crotch along the length of Harry’s thigh. He’s hard, Harry feels it even through his skinnies, his own cock throbbing in sympathy. He has to hold back though, always does, has to cling to humanity even when it comes to this most basic need.

Harry shifts, bends his legs more, but Louis still strains, on his tiptoes and with his hands tangled in Harry’s shirt and hair for balance. It’s like he struggles with what Harry offers yet wants it regardless, pulling Harry closer like he has no intention of letting him escape.

And Harry likes that.

His wolf certainly likes it. It also likes how Louis has to tip his head back to look up at him, or the way he lets Harry set the pace by grabbing his hip and grinding them together.

Someone bumps into him, momentarily dislodging Louis, and Harry snarls, the sound lost between the music and his own heartbeat. Louis moves smoothly, effortlessly, right back onto his thigh. The scowl that had briefly marred his stunning features is replaced with a half-lidded sigh of contentment when his cock is back to rubbing against Harry. His arms slide around Harry’s middle as he rolls his hips, clutching Harry closer.

It’s blasphemy to think he almost didn't come out tonight, almost didn’t get to experience this. Niall had looked at him with a deep scowl on his face and asked in a reproachful manner if he was going out again, with the full moon only days away.

Hell yes, Harry was going out again. It’s only his second week at Uni, but that also makes it his second week without any rules or chores.

It makes this the second week he’s free.

He crowds in closer to Louis, gets him more unbalanced. Louis’ hand slips from his shoulder to his hip and back up again, but underneath his shirt this time. His fingertips skim along his spine, then across, to beneath his shoulder blade. There Louis digs his nails in and slowly drags them down Harry’s back, to his opposite hip.

Harry growls, cuts the sound short by sinking his teeth into the skin of Louis’ shoulder.

It’s frantic then, the way Louis’ hands scrabble for purchase, one landing on the back of his head and yanking, hard. But Harry’s got a good grip, his teeth in just enough to keep him in place yet not deep enough to break the skin. A thrill runs through him at that, at the roughness, the power, and he tamps it down ruthlessly because he is what he chooses to be, not what his body tells him.

He glances around, sees a couple nearby eyeing them surreptitiously, the boy pretty enough to turn heads and the girl heart-stoppingly stunning.

Everyone is dancing, grinding, breaths hot and desperate. It makes the boy leaning against the wall stand out all the more because he’s unmoving, with his arms crossed before his chest and a scowl on his face. It’s -- well, it’s directed at Harry.

Maybe an ex, or a scorned hopeful contender. He can’t have Louis though, can’t have the gorgeous boy writhing beneath Harry’s hands, rubbing himself off on his thigh with these hiccuping little sounds that drive Harry absolutely insane.

Harry eases his mouth off Louis’ neck, gives the guy across the room a slow grin before mouthing mine at him. He licks up Louis’ neck then, feels the indents his teeth have left in Louis’ skin then digs his tongue in when Louis whines and presses closer.

The house lights shift, blinding Harry for just a second. By the time he’s blinked the after images out of his sight, the guy is gone, leaving nothing but the vague memory of a concerned look.

Harry shrugs, slides his mouth up Louis’ neck and catches his earlobe between his teeth. It’s the moon that has him so on edge. He isn’t quite that big on using his teeth normally, but there’s something about Louis that just makes it worse, something he can’t put his finger on, that takes the itch under his skin and sets it aflame.

He opens his mouth, to tell Louis he’s taking him to the back room now, to beg him, maybe.

Only the words get stuck when a muscled forearm wraps around his throat from behind, cutting off his airway enough to have his heart rate spiking almost immediately. He squirms, tries to turn, but he’s being dragged backwards, through the crowd. Some eyes meet his, wide with shock, but most of the people in the club hardly notice, too drunk or too far gone to realise his predicament.

He’s still trying to find his feet, to keep from stumbling only because that increases the pressure on his trachea. The cold night air hits him then, the smell of rain and concrete sharp in his throat as he’s being dragged backwards, the sound of old cardboard under his scampering feet.

“Liam,” comes a low voice. It’s the gorgeous brunette he spotted earlier. “Stop it.”

“I saw his eyes,” Liam says from behind him, dragging him further down the alley still.

Only now does it dawn on Harry that people aren’t stronger than him. Not ever. Not when he really tries. But he tries wrenching free now, tries breaking Liam’s hold on him. All the effort he’d put into not stumbling, he now pours into getting free, his knuckles turning white where he’s gripping Liam’s wrist.

All his attempt gets him, is a tightening of the arm around his throat instead, cutting off his air. Liam yanks him hard against his chest before he speaks again. “His eyes reflected the light. Saw it clearly.”

A frisson of fear shoots through him then.

Not a lot of creatures can match his werewolf strength, but each and every one of them is dangerous.

The next moment, he’s pressed into the alley wall, rough edges of stone digging into his shoulder blades as Liam pins him, almost effortlessly, with his forearm. Liam, whatever the fuck he is, snarls at him. “What are you doing here?”

He leans his head back and to the side, drags in a rattling breath. “It’d be much easier for me to answer,” he wheezes, “if you’d just ease up on my throat.”

Liam doesn’t, steps closer instead and brings them face to face. “I asked you a question.” His voice is almost a growl and Harry can feel his own heart racing, even if he tries to act cool, like the guy isn’t crushing his windpipe with a strength no human has.

“What’re you then?” He tries for a drawl but it comes out rough and out of breath, just how he’s feeling.

An elegant hand slides over Liam’s bicep, manicured fingernails gentle on his skin. The girl’s movements are deliberate and slow, like she’s trying to be the voice of reason. The way she’s behaving makes Harry think Liam gets like this a lot and she’s the one charged with calming him down. “Babe, ease up on him, he’s terrified enough as it is.”

Okay, so maybe his act hadn’t been all that good. But it’s hard to stop his heart from racing and his breaths to come in ragged when a guy is pinning him to the wall easily, like Harry can’t bench-press double what any guy at the gym can without breaking a sweat.

“He’s a fucking wolf. I want to know what he’s doing in our territory.”

Territory? That has another spike of fear jolting through Harry. Werewolves have territories if they are in groups. And Liam had said our. If he’s in their territory, he’s fucked.

“I was told the land surrounding the Uni wasn’t claimed,” he chokes out. Liam just presses against him harder.

“Like we’d go around advertising it. Dear god, he’s an idiot.”

“Hey,” Harry says, dragging the word out. “I didn’t know. Sorry?”

Liam stares at him as if Harry may just be the dumbest thing he’s ever seen. Good. He doesn’t want to challenge this guy, not at all sure if he could take him. If it’s his pride that’ll take the hit, Harry is fine with it. He just wants to get through this night in one piece. Not pissing off the enraged alpha foaming at the mouth while effortlessly pinning him to the wall would go a long way towards that.

“Liam,” the girls says, soft and soothing. “Babe, just let him breathe.”

“He’s unannounced in our territory, and he’s a werewolf. That’s a fucking challenge, Soph.”

“Not a challenge,” Harry promises, his fingers digging into the corded muscles of the arm still pressing against his neck. He’s starting to see black spots in the corners of his vision from lack of air, he needs the alpha to back off, to let him explain. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“Liam,” comes a different voice from the shadows. Harry’s eyes swivel to the sound, but the nearby streetlamp has his night vision shot all to shit and he can’t make out the speaker.

Liam growls and, under the gently guiding hand of the girl, takes a step back, his arm dropping from Harry’s neck.

Harry doubles over coughing and dragging in deep lungfuls of air. He might be overplaying it, but he’d much rather appear weaker than he is. There's at least three of them, he wants a fight about as much as he wants a root canal. Weak, appear weak and pathetic, that’s his plan. And maybe, maybe they’ll leave him be. He just hopes his acting skills are on par with a psychotic alpha.

“What are you doing here?” said psychotic alpha asks. He looks genuinely angry, with his eyes narrowed and the way he keeps pushing the girl behind him, like Harry is about to go for her throat at any moment.

Harry waits, maybe a tick too long judging by the muscle jumping in Liam’s jaw. “I just started Uni here.”

Liam narrows his eyes. “No, you didn’t.”

“Uhm. I didn't?”

“The University falls into our pack’s territory. You can’t study here and not be part of our pack.”

Harry can’t help the way his mind slams back to the last few months, the hours and hours of talks with Niall’s parents, his parents for all intents and purposes. The rules, the promises and the sheer fucking excitement about getting to live his own life, even if it wouldn’t be completely by his own rules.

Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right balance between gratefulness and independence. He is grateful they took him in, of course he is. It couldn’t have been easy for them, suddenly having another two-year old in the house, one they knew would one day change into the very thing they hunted.

But the strict rules, the constant monitoring, that had eventually been a bother. And while he’d never felt unsafe, he hadn’t felt free, either.

Now, all those years lager, he’s living without their supervision for the first time, and he isn’t about to give up that freedom. Especially not because of a pack that isn’t even supposed to be here.

“I don’t want any trouble,” he says. It’s easy, for now, not looking the alpha in the eye. “I just want to have a few years to be myself.”

This time, it’s the girl that speaks, stepping out from behind Liam to look Harry up and down. “How can you be yourself if you’re alone?”

Harry frowns, unsure what she means, frowns even more when Liam steps in front of her again. “You can’t stay in our territory.”

Harry gapes, trying not to react when something moves in the shadows to the right of him. At least four, then. “I just started school. I can’t just leave.”

“The rules are clear,” Liam states firmly. “You have two options, make your choice.”

“What rules?” Harry frowns. “What options?”

Again, it’s the girl that speaks, stepping out from behind Liam and taking his hand in hers when he tries to push her back again. “Pack rules,” she says gently. “You have two weeks to decide. Either you leave, or you join us.”

“What if I don’t?”

Liam’s lips stretch, but it’s not so much a smile as a bearing of sharp, white teeth. “If you can’t decide,” he says in a slow rumble and with a certain vindictive glint in his eyes, “then we’ll make the decision for you.”


+++


“Is this seat -- oh.”

Harry blinks the tiredness from his eyes and wills them to focus on the guy standing next to his desk in his early morning lit class.

“Oh,” he echoes, shocked, when his eyes finally focus. Louis gives him a chagrined little smile, rubbing the back of his neck. “Hi uhm, Harry, was it?”

“Yeah,” Harry says, a smile slowly spreading on his face. Louis looks about as tired as he feels, snuggled up in a huge jumper that reaches way past his hands, clutching a steaming paper cup to his chest. Harry takes a discreet sniff, his nostrils filling with the rich smell of pine from last night, along with the distinctly herbal smell of strong tea. “Yeah, it’s Harry. And the seat is all yours, if you want.”

Louis collapses into it gratefully. “Why did I choose this class?” He groans, burying his face in his arms where he has them crossed on the table. The hair at the back of his head is slightly more messy than the rest, like he’s been leaning his head back, dozing. Harry allows his eyes to travel down the long line of his neck, delicate in comparison to the rough-knit jumper. He wants to place his hands right there, on the back of his neck, oddly protective of that small patch of warm skin.

“Long night, then?”

“Not as long as I’d have liked,” Louis says without moving, the fingers of his hand still wrapped securely around his tea.

“Oh?” Harry asks politely. He’d like for Louis to keep talking, just so he can hear his raspy, high voice some more, regardless of the fact that the other students around them are settling in and class is what he should be concentrating on. Louis turns his head and raises a pointed eyebrow at him until Harry finally gets it, chokes out, “oh! Yes, uhm. Sorry about that.”

Louis sits up and fixes him with a long, hard stare over the rim of his cup as he takes several small sips. “I guess I’ll forgive you,” he says after licking his lips clean of every last drop of tea. “But only because you have cute dimples when you smile.”

Harry does smile at that, then wider when Louis pokes at one dimple with a warm fingertip. He catches Louis’ wrist, feeling the fragile bones move under his touch. Louis tilts his head and frowns slightly, an expression crossing his face like he just had a surprising realisation.

“You’re different, aren’t you?” Louis lets his hand go slack so Harry is suddenly holding the entire weight of it. He doesn’t let it fall, and gets the feeling that was exactly what Louis was testing him for.

“Did I pass?” he asks, still smiling and friendly, bringing Louis’ wrist closer to nuzzle over the paper-thin skin on the inside. Louis’ smell hits him, that deep pine scent that makes Harry dream of the woods, of running without direction, just for the pure joy of it.

He can practically smell the pine needles, feel the damp earth under his paws. The underbrush besides him shakes and a different wolf emerges, pulling ahead of Harry easily. Even though Harry is running flat out, he can’t match that speed. It marks the newcomer as the clear winner of the impromptu race and he slows to a trot, looking over his shoulder and waiting for Harry to catch up.

Harry snaps back to the classroom and lets go of Louis’ hand, gently instead of snatching free. It's not a conscious decision, his heart racing because what the fuck was that? It felt like a memory, only Harry knows he’s never run with another wolf before in his entire life. But for just a second there, it had been real, like a memory of something still to happen in the future.

“It was just a run,” Louis says softly. “No need to look so skittish.”

And Harry is standing before he even knows it, his chair scraping loudly over the floor. His eyes never leave Louis, who is so very calm, like he’s actively relaxing in the hopes it will rub off on Harry.

It doesn’t, because Harry is panting now, his heart beating a hard rhythm against his chest and he’s not quite sure if he wants to bolt or snarl.

“You saw that?” He hisses the question out under his breath, leaning in just a bit to not be overheard by the other students.

“Harry.” Louis’ voice is odd, gentle and firm all at once. Harry doesn’t want to be soothed by it, but that’s exactly what happens, like someone flipping a switch inside him. The anxiety ebbs to a slow stop, replaced with the urge to stretch out in the sun. His muscles go lax and by the time Louis is gently pulling him back into his seat, Harry goes easily and without question. “Your wolf just showed you what it wants to do. Can’t very well talk to you, can it?”

“How do you know?” Harry feels almost drugged, watching Louis’ hand still on him, watching his fingers gently stroke down the skin of his arm.

Louis smiles, eyes still puffy with sleep but crinkling at the corners regardless. “Promise you won’t freak?”

Harry bites his lip and nods his head, curiosity outweighing his initial instinct to run. He looks back down at where Louis is now gently stroking up his forearm and nods. “Promise.”

“I know because I’m part of the local pack,” Louis says and his voice is still so soft and lovely, it’s almost like it’s putting Harry in a trance. “That’s why Liam got so protective last night. Sorry about that, by the way. He thought you had singled me out on purpose. He thought you knew.”

“I didn’t,” Harry whispers, turning over his hand and watching as Louis slides his fingers down the front of his arm now, fingertips dancing over his palm, gently tickling.

The sudden silence that rolls through the crowd of students marks the arrival of their professor, Harry’s eyes flicking to him automatically, then back to Louis.

Louis, who is a werewolf himself. The first werewolf he’s met, who’s touching him so gently, unlike Liam last night. Louis, who is smiling at him while slotting his fingers between Harry’s and squeezing slowly. “Studying now,” he says under his breath before extricating his hand and taking another sip of his tea. “And if you have any questions, we can talk about it afterwards.”

Harry has questions, so, so many that he’s surprised he doesn’t immediately burst on the spot. Instead he turns to face the front of the classroom and tries to pay attention, his hands tingling the entire time with the memory of Louis’ touch.


+++


“So you didn’t talk to him afterwards?”

“No, I had to go to a different class and Sophia was there, so he went with her.”

“Sophia, the girl werewolf?”

Harry nods, wonders why Niall is asking him so many detailed questions about this. “I mean, I assume she is, yes.”

“Hm.” Niall walks over to their fridge, the only expensive thing in their shitty off-campus apartment, and grabs himself a beer. He opens it and takes a sip, leaning back against the counter. “Just, like, be careful, yeah?”

“I will. I am, but like,” Harry can feel the excitement bubbling up and he tries to damp it down. “They could teach me so much. They just… they understand.”

“Yeah.” Niall’s face shuts down.

Harry has known him all his life, knows what’s going on in his head. “Hey,” he says softly, stepping up to Niall’s side and gently poking his middle. “I know you do too. Your parents, our parents do as well.”

“They try their hardest,” Niall says, tearing the label to tiny shreds and letting the pieces fall to the floor. “It wasn’t easy for them. They had to relearn everything they knew. They did it all to make things better for you.”

“I know,” Harry whispers. He lets his head drop to Niall’s shoulder, nuzzling his neck. And it’s a testament to how upset Niall is that he doesn’t push him off with a good-natured smile, call him clingy or demand he stops slobbering all over him. “You know I love them. But there’s some things you can’t learn from books. And I think Louis has the answers.”

“But they want you to be a part of their pack. What does that even mean?”

“I don't know,” he says truthfully. “And I don’t want to be part of it anyway. I just want a few answers.”

“You did fight so hard for our parents to allow you to come here, I just don’t understand why you’d want to be close to this pack. Especially if their alpha is such a dick.”

Harry had fought hard for his freedom, the simple fact of being here, so far from home. It had taken many, many talks, promises of keeping his wolf in check, of staying as far away from civilisation as possible on the full moon. He’d planned it all out months ago, presented his ideas to their parents and sat down with them night after night to hammer out the details.

“I don’t want to be part of a pack,” is what he says. But it’s more than that. He doesn’t want more rules, doesn’t want to be told how to live his life. He licks a sloppy-wet stripe up Niall’s cheek, giggles when Niall pushes him away with a grin. “Got you, don’t I?”

“Yeah,” Niall says, his mood clearly lifting. “Even though you’re clingy and kind of gross.”

“You love me,” Harry says, happy.

Niall just rolls his eyes. “You keep telling yourself that,” he says, but Harry can hear the I really do loud and clear anyway.


+++


The next morning, Harry wakes up with an ache in his bones. It’s the full moon tonight and he can feel it in every cell in his body. He’s restless throughout his morning classes, can’t concentrate on anything the professors tell them. The loud noises of the busy university set his teeth on edge and he very nearly snaps at a girl when she asks him for a spare pen.

There’s an older guy, Nick, he’s been chatting with over the last couple of days. He’d just kept showing up in most of Harry’s classes and they’d struck up an easy conversation right from the start, talking about nothing particular as they ambled from one class to another.

Somehow, Nick is the only person that doesn’t grate on his nerves today and it’s maybe a bit pathetic how Harry sticks to his side in an attempt to get through the day. He just doesn't want to alienate himself from his fellow students by being a right arsehole, especially since he can’t very well tell them why he is so cranky.

By three o’clock he’s ready to leave, just get his pre-packed bag and drive out to the woods, to that little cabin he’ll be spending the night in.

“You coming?” Nick is waiting with a coffee in hand, nodding in the direction of their next class.

“No, I don’t think I can,” Harry tells him. “Not feeling well.”

Nick frowns, immediately stepping closer, his hand landing on Harry’s shoulder. Usually Harry is the most tactile person, but this close to a transformation he can’t even stomach Niall’s touch, and Niall is his go-to person when he’s in need of cuddles. But for whatever reason, Nick’s touch doesn’t make him flinch away, instead makes him want to move closer.

He stops himself seeing as he’s unsure of how that would go over. They’ve known each other for only a couple of days, after all.

“You okay?” Nick’s teasing demeanour is replaced with a more serious expression.

“Yeah,” Harry says, surprised when he manages to make it come out breezily. “Yeah, I’m good. Just feeling a bit under the weather, you know? Think I’ll just head home and take a nap or something.”

“Want me to join you? I’ll just make sure you’ll get home alright, I don’t mind.”

Harry smiles, doesn’t want to sound dismissive or ungrateful. Nick has been nothing if not nice, showing him all the good spots for coffee around campus and the shortcuts from one classroom to another. “Nah mate, I’m good, really. Just a bit knackered. Nothing a good night's sleep won’t fix.”

“Yeah,” Nick says on a laugh that seems laden with meaning. “Think we all need that.”

Harry is just about in the right mood for an offhand comment like that to make him snap. He’s long since lost count of the amount of times Niall said something innocent enough yet still managed to bring out Harry’s moody side, his responses serving no higher purpose than to cause a fight. He is well aware his short fuse is directly connected to the full moon, yet so far he hasn’t learned how to suppress that part of himself.

Back home, he’d have gone to his room by midday and not come out until the following morning, thereby not only avoiding unnecessary fights, but also keeping his family safe from his wolf.

He’s thrown by the fact that Nick somehow manages not to bring out his cranky side. It’s almost enough for him to stick around, test how long it’ll last.

But he’s promised Niall, promised their parents ten times over, and he doesn’t want to be the kind of person that goes back on their word. “But I’ll see you Monday, yeah?”

Nick nods, giving him an unreadable smile. “Sure thing, young Harold. Monday.”

Harry heads straight home then, deciding to make the short trip on foot. Exercise always helps, and at the pace he’s going now the chance of anyone bothering him is basically zero.

Once home, he grabs his bag from his room and the car keys from the little hook in the kitchen. He’s in and out the door in under a minute, but only once he’s in the car and heading towards the cabin do his shoulders really relax for the first time that day.


+++


Several hours later, he blinks his eyes open and sees everything in monochrome.

He’s crouched on the ground, his paws stretched out before him on the grimy floor. He hadn’t remembered the cabin to be quite this run down when he’d come to check out the place, but he sees it now, smells it, the rotting wood and the sharp stench of a rodent that has recently died under the floorboards.

He gets up and stretches, always needs some time to get used to walking on four legs instead of two.

There’s energy coiled up in his muscles, so he starts walking along the wall, reaches the opposite one far too early. He turns around, walks back the way he came from. He falls into a gentle trot but that just makes the room appear smaller, like he can’t even stretch his legs before reaching the opposite side.

He’s prowling now, his flank dragging along the wall, his nose twitching at the smells coming in from the broken, boarded-up windows and the warped wood. If he crouches down there’s enough space for him to push his muzzle out between the planks in the door. His nose twitches, taking in the deep smell of the forest, the leaves, both living on the trees and dead on the ground.

The rich smell of the damp ground fills his nostrils and he pulls back to reach through the space in the door with his front leg. But he can't reach far enough, only feels the planks of the deck under the soft pads of his paw.

He pulls back, huffs in annoyance and goes back to walking from one side of the room to the other. It only agitates him more, the urge to run staggering now, making him even more on edge.

He wants to be outside, feel the wind in his fur as he eats up miles of the forest floor under his paws. The urge has never been this strong before, but then he hasn't ever been this close to the mere possibility, spending every full moon in his room, with the bars on the window and the bolt lock on the inside that can only be opened with human hands.

His ears twitch and he stops, hears the sound of something small and furry in the underbrush outside. His whole body vibrates at the mere thought of being outside, the joy of the hunt, even if he’s unsure he’d go so far as to actually hurt the little thing.

But he can’t, he’s a werewolf. He’s afraid his wolf would take over, would make him lose control and go on a killing spree, slaughter anything that moves. The fear of that being anything bigger, maybe even human, has him settling down, whining softly under his breath.

He can’t ever let it come to that, can’t take that chance. He’s heard stories, told and retold, that had made him fear that side of him. That’s why, month after month, he locks himself up willingly, gladly, not trusting that thing living inside him.

He hasn’t ever lost control, hasn’t ever let himself be in a position where that might be a possibility. The thought that he was protecting the people around him enough to get him through those long nights, even if the unspent energy drove him to distraction, made the change back to human long-winded and painful.

He’s ripped from his thoughts when an unfamiliar sound reaches his ears, and it takes him a moment to parse it. It comes again, clearer this time now that he’s watching out for it.

A howl.

Followed by another, then a third. He’s on his feet without conscious thought, by the door in two long strides.

He isn’t sure, has nothing to compare it to, but they don’t sound hostile. It’s not friendly, not as such, but that's because it isn’t directed at him. This is a pack communicating, letting the others know their position, marking the boundaries of their territory.

He’s right in the middle of it and his wolf paws at the floor, knows he’s not supposed to be here, not unannounced, not like this.

Before he knows what he’s doing, he’s sitting back on his haunches, his head thrown back to form a smooth line with his back and a deep, unfamiliar sound escapes his wolf’s throat, the howl tentative and new but not quiet, not one bit.

For a heart-stopping moment everything goes silent, the only sound the wind rushing through the trees outside, something small scuttling away from the area he’s just claimed.

And then it comes, travelling easily on the night air even from far away. The answering howl. It’s different than before, less playful and more guarded, but still not hostile.

Something like joy explodes in his chest, something he’s kept buried deep ever since his first transformation at the age of fifteen, when his hormones had gone haywire and brought out his other self for the very first time.

He doesn’t understand it, doesn’t know what he’s doing, just knows it’s the right thing when he throws back his head again, the sound he’s producing desperate and needy, like his wolf is crying out for help, over and over again.


+++


He doesn’t know how long it takes, how long he sits there calling out.

But he hears the howls coming closer with each answer. He can smell them first, the wolf smell undeniable and he crouches down by the door to slot his face through the hole. The eyes of his wolf aren’t all that good, the monochrome feedback making it even more difficult to make out the shapes now slowly approaching his hideout.

His mouth goes dry and his heart speeds up when he sees not three as he’d expected, but five, five other werewolves coming towards him.

A smaller wolf is at the front and Harry knows it’s Louis, just how he knows Liam is the bigger one that speeds up, pushes himself into Louis’ path, like he wants to keep him from harm's way.

Harry just crouches down smaller and whines, tries not to move at all when they’re close enough to sniff his face. He lets first Liam, then the others greet him as best as they can with a broken door between them.

It’s Louis that scratches the wood, whining when his paws don’t make it budge. There’s no way to open the door, Harry has made sure of that, attached the deadlock on the inside himself.

Once it’s clear he won’t be able to join them, they settle down, seemingly accepting the new status quo without further commotion.

They stay in his field of vision though, let him watch as they play a small game of tag in the little clearing in front of the cabin. Their furry bodies twisting and jumping, tongues lolling out between happy little yips as one of them is pushed to the ground, only to jump up seconds later to chase after the others.

Every fibre of his being tells him to join in, to chase, to play. But he can’t, has the door between himself and them, the one he locked only hours before.

But he’s happy just watching them, seeing them interact, seeing them sort out any squabbles right there, quickly and efficiently with nothing but a raised lip from one and a ducked head by the other.

There’s nothing violent about their interactions, nothing like what he’d expected a pack of werewolves to behave. All the nips and tugs are playful little things that don’t escalate, that don’t challenge the natural hierarchy they have going on.

He’s whining softly under his breath, because he wants to join, want to jump in and play, wants to know where he would fit in.

Louis had been keeping to the fringes of it all and he comes over when he hears Harry, lies down just outside the door with his back to the hole in the slats. It’s the perfect position for Harry to place his muzzle on Louis’ middle, and that’s exactly what he does. He quiets then, content to feel the warm body rise and fall under Louis’ breath, his scent in Harry’s nostrils calming in a way he’s never experienced before.

They stay like that for the remainder of the night, Louis Harry’s personal pillow while they both watch on as the others play. They come over sometimes, one by one or in groups of two, sniffing Harry like they’re still getting used to him, licking Louis’ muzzle before bounding off happily, back into the fray.

The slender wolf with the dark fur is the most skittish, inching closer step by step, extending his neck from the safety of a few steps away to catch Harry’s scent. He tenses at a sound, his lips curling up with the beginning of a snarl. It’s cut short by a soft rumble emanating from under Harry. It’s not so much a growl as a warning Louis is issuing, but the change in the other wolf is immediate; he ducks his head and body alike, trying to make himself appear lower than Louis lying on the floor before moving back into the clearing.

Liam is the biggest wolf by far, and clearly the one to step in when the mood shifts, when the squabbles are about to turn into something more dire. No one contests him, no one challenges him, seemingly happy when the order is once again affirmed.

Harry doesn’t know when it happens, sometime in the morning hours, his eyelids growing heavy, each blink to open them becoming harder and harder. He rubs his nose into the side of Louis’ rib cage; it makes him feel safe, the way he’s lying protective between Harry and the others, like a really fluffy and warm safety-blanket. He’s lulled into sleep by Louis’ rhythmic breath and the knowledge that he has someone there he trusts.


+++


He wakes up cold and human, curled up on the grimy floor on the inside of the cabin. He’s thankful the transformation happened while he was asleep, knows just how painful it can be when he’s conscious for it, the knowledge alone enough stress to complicate it further.

Through the door he sees them, all five of them still in wolf form, bodies piled haphazardly in front of the door with Louis still in the same spot as the night before. They look comfortable and warm, their noses tucked under their hind legs or shoved against the fur of someone’s neck, not so much five wolves as one whole.

He gets up and stretches, cold now without the fur to protect him from the chill morning air. He walks over to where he’d stacked his clothes last night and pulls them on quickly to the sounds of the bodies outside his front door stirring.

He doesn’t know how long the change back to human takes him in his sleep, but when he’s awake and agitated he’s experienced it to be as much as one hour. He doesn’t plan on opening that front door before they’re human as well, unsure of how communication would work if he doesn’t have a wolf body to do the talking for him. Even though he can’t remember it, one bite by a werewolf is quite enough to last him a lifetime.

And so he resigns himself to wait, goes to brush his teeth with a bottle of water and the toothbrush he’d packed just for that. The plumbing in this place hasn’t worked for ages, but the drain pipe still does its job as he spits the minty toothpaste out into the basin and rinses his mouth with a large gulp of bottled water.

He’s just packed the toothbrush away, intent on settling in while the others change back, when there’s a soft knock at the door.

He frowns, thinks it must have been a fluke, maybe an accidental limb hitting the rotted wood. But the sound comes again, rhythmic and sure, accompanied by a cheeky, “open the door, or I’ll huff and puff and blow your house down.”

A grin pushes through the confusion and he steps up to the door, easily sliding the deadbolt back with his human fingers, a feat that had been impossible just hours before. The door swings open and he’s intent on making some crack about the big bad wolf outside his house. Only the words get stuck in his throat because Louis is standing there, naked and unbothered with his hands on his hips and a slightly peeved expression on his face.

He’s pushed out the way by a bigger body and Nick, fucking Nick from his classes, shoulders his way inside. Louis trips him in retaliation for the shove and Nick stumbles but catches himself, doesn’t turn around to berate Louis. He walks past Harry with an easy nod, inspecting the cabin minutely. While naked, right.

Harry averts his gaze when he crouches down in a corner, but that only has him coming face to face with an equally naked Louis. Somehow, that’s much, much worse.

“Did you get trapped in here somehow?” Nick asks from behind him. Instead of answering Harry flushes because he catches himself staring at Louis’ tanned chest, the curve of his shoulders where they stand out starkly because he’s still got his hands on his hips. At least he hasn’t let his gaze drop again. “Or did someone lock you up in here? Because I swear, if they did, I’m going for their throat.”

“Nick,” Louis says in a soft voice, rolling his eyes. “Do try not to sound like such a brute. I know the wolf lingers, but that’s no excuse to sound feral.”

“Nag, nag, nag,” Nick grumbles from behind Harry, moving around in the little room.

“We’re just -- uhm. We’ll be back in a bit,” comes a female voice from outside. Harry leans out and gets an eyeful of Sophia and Liam and another guy, all equally naked and unbothered by it. They’re grinning but there’s something else in their gazes as well, something more private and exciting.

They make their way around the cabin, crushing the leaves under their bare feet, the excited energy clear in their movements. Liam falls behind, his grin the widest as he swats both their naked bums, chasing behind their giggles as they move out of sight.

“Make sure to go a bit further this time,” Louis shouts after them. “No one needs to hear that!”

“Hear what?” Harry asks, confused.

Louis rolls his eyes again, pushing past where he’s still stood in the door, his chest brushing against Harry’s front when he doesn’t step back fast enough. “They get a bit horny the morning after.”

“We mostly try to ignore it,” Nick says. “Unfortunately, they aren’t really subtle. Or quiet.”

“He has sex with them?” Harry sounds even more shocked than he feels, the words spilling out before he can think about it.

“Who?”

“Your alpha. He makes them have sex with him?”

Nick’s eyes cut to Louis, the confusion clear in them. Louis just shakes his head subtly and says, “no one is making anyone do anything. They’re dating, and yes, they have sex.”

Again, the words pop out without his consent, this time sounding more surprised than offended. “What, all three of them?”

“You sound like such a prude,” Nick tells him and for whatever reason, Harry can feel himself flush.

Thankfully, he’s saved from further awkwardness by Louis, who changes the subject with ease. “Do you always lock yourself up on the full moon?”

“Wait,” Nick says, coming to stand next to Louis. And Harry isn’t a prude, he really isn’t, but this is just a bit too much dick on view for him this early in the morning. “You locked yourself in here?”

He shrugs, tries to sound firm when he says, “I always do when I change.”

“But why?” Nick wants to know, his brow furrowing. “Don’t you miss running? Would drive me mental, I’d miss it too much.”

“No, what I mean is, I always lock myself up. I’ve never been outside on the full moon.”

Something falls on Nick’s face, leaving behind an expression that comes very close to pity. Harry hates it, doesn’t need his pity, or his input, for that matter.

“So you’ve never had a pack?” Louis asks and it’s almost easier to look at him, because at least his expression is guarded enough that Harry can’t read it.

“No,” Harry says.

Even out of the corner of his eye he can see Nick’s face fall further as he takes a sudden and aborted step towards him, like he was about to hug Harry. He stops himself though, looking over at Louis who’s standing with his arms crossed and nodding softly. “I thought as much. That’s why you don’t pick up on the smaller cues. You don’t trust yourself.”

“I don’t trust my wolf.”

Louis gives him a small, sad little smile. “Yeah. That’s what I said.”


+++


They end up walking together through the woods, all of them naked besides Harry. He’d offered Sophia a shirt, but she’d just laughed and shaken her head.

He’s introduced to Zayn, the guy he had seen dancing with Sophia at the club. The skittish wolf from last night. The one dating both Liam and Sophia. Right.

Other than that, the walk consists of a lot of complaining about bare feet and the rough ground of the forest. Harry falls quiet when they start blaming each other for veering so far off course last night.

No one mentions it had been Harry who had called them, who is the one to blame for their long way home.

It takes them almost an hour, when Liam pulls out a duffle bag from a hollow tree. Inside it they have clothes and soft shoes, the former being put on with a lot of grumbling, the latter with more eagerness.

“We have a few stashes all around the woods here,” Liam tells him as he fastens the strings on his soft joggers. “There’s no telling where we end up, most of the time.”

Harry nods but doesn’t say anything. He isn’t ignoring Liam, not really, but he’s also not making an effort to talk to him. He steps up next to Louis instead, who ends up as a sort of shield between them. Louis doesn’t say anything, but Harry doesn’t miss the private smile twitching across the edges of his mouth, like he’s happy Harry is looking for protection.

Another half-hour walk and they enter a clearing, a modern cabin on its opposite side. It’s well maintained and very much unlike the one Harry had spent the night in, starting with the fact that it is about three times the size. And, as it turns out, with running water and electricity. The interior is warm and cozy, not heavily decorated but comfortable all the same.

“Louis,” Sophia whines as she flops onto the huge futon couch, the back of which is flattened out so it functions more like a bed and giving them a larger surface area. “Can you make us some food? I’m starving.”

Harry fully expects him to tell her to do it herself, mainly because he thinks he’s mostly sussed out the hierarchy so far but also because Louis seems to be the kind of guy to dislike laziness. But Louis doesn’t, mutters, “yeah, yeah,” and walks off to the little kitchen. He pulls out eggs and bacon and bread, mountains of it, and starts frying everything up in two pans.

Zayn and Liam and eventually Nick join Sophia on the couch and soon a squabble breaks out over who gets the remote. Liam pries it from Zayn’s fingers, biting down on his shoulder until he finally relinquishes it. Zayn just raises his eyebrow in challenge and somehow that ends with Liam’s lips on his, Liam’s bigger body pressing him down into the cushions. Nick is too busy complaining loudly and so Sophia crows in triumph when she ends up with the remote, immediately changing the channel while trying to push off the others with her legs.

Harry decides to join Louis, standing somewhat uselessly by the fridge and watching him turn bacon and sausages in the pan.

“Need any help?”

He gets a blinding smile for that simple question, feels dislike rising inside him at the other four still shouting from the sofa, like Louis is their personal chef and it’s the most normal thing in the world to let him do all the work. “You could start toasting the bread, if you don’t mind?”

“Of course not,” he says, walking to where Louis has already laid out the bread, popping the first two slices in the toaster.

“You okay?” It’s a quiet question, almost like Louis wants to keep this conversation private, not meant for the others’ ears.

“Yeah,” Harry answers, just as quietly. “Last night was quite fun to watch.”

“It’s even more fun to be a part of it, you know. You should run with us next month.”

He’s shaking his head even before Louis is finished talking. “I -- I couldn’t.”

“Why not?” Louis sets down the spatula and adjusts the heat before leaning against the counter next to Harry. “We’re quite easy to get along with.”

“That’s because you all have your roles. You’ve got it all sorted.”

Louis shrugs. “We haven’t actually been together for that long. Zayn only joined us last year, Sophia the year before that.”

Harry shakes his head, replacing the popped up toast with fresh slices. “I don’t need a pack.”

Louis sighs, reaching out to touch Harry’s forearm again. For just a moment, Harry lets himself enjoy the touch, leans in as he closes his eyes, concentrates on the heat of Louis’ hand making his way across his skin. “We can’t have a lone wolf in our territory. It’s upsetting to our pack, leads to infighting. We can’t have that.”

“But I won’t be a bother,” Harry says, his voice almost pleading now. He’s moved closer to Louis without even realising it. The entirety of his front is pressed against Louis’ side like he’s stealing his warmth, his strength. “It took me years to convince my parents to let me come here. I just want to enjoy my time at Uni.”

“Don’t look so sad,” Louis says, stroking his thumb gently over Harry’s cheekbone. “We’re good for each other, we’re a good group.”

Harry is unashamedly leaning into the touch, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. And maybe it is for werewolves, would explain the easy way these five are with each other, why he always craves contact even from Niall, why it hurts so much when he inevitably pushes him off because there is such a thing as too much contact between humans. “I don't want an alpha like yours,” he whispers and his voice breaks. He doesn’t want Louis to stop touching him, doesn’t want this easy camaraderie he has with the others to end either. But he can’t, not if it means giving up his freedom, the very thing he fought for so desperately in the past years. “I’d just exchange one leash for another.”

Louis’ eyes are soft, following his own finger as he traces it down Harry’s neck. “What do you want?”

And Harry wants to touch too, wants that closeness Louis is offering. It’s not even sexual, not completely, even if the conversation is taking a decided turn in that direction. He slides his hand from the counter to Louis’ waist, bunching his jumper in a desperate grip and thereby digging his knuckles into Louis’ side. “Does it matter?”

“Always.”

He leans in, his nose cold against the heat of Louis’ neck and he apologises with a soft kiss before dragging his lips further up. “I want you.”

A chuckle escapes Louis’ lips, and his smile is soft when Harry pulls back to look at him. “You can, you know? Just gotta join the pack”

Yes, Harry knows. He isn’t even sure how he knows, but somehow the invitation had been there from the start, even if they haven’t talked about it, not explicitly at least. “Not sure if you're worth it,” he says, not meanly, and not as a challenge, either. It’s just the truth and he hopes it comes across as such.

A slow, wicked smile spreads across Louis’ lips and he rests his smaller hand against the front of Harry’s chest, right over his rapidly beating heart. “Trust me,” he murmurs as he lets his hand slide down, further and further, past Harry’s navel and -- “I’m worth it.”

With that he neatly steps out from between Harry and the counter, goes to pick up the spatula and busies himself with a pan.

It takes Harry a moment to collect himself, another one to go back to tending the toast.

He helps Louis carry the mountains of food to the low coffee table by the sofa, and, deciding he’s not quite ready to join the pile of werewolves on it, grabs a pillow and sits down on the floor.

“You can’t sit there,” Zayn tells him.

He folds his legs under himself as he gets comfortable. “Why not?”

Zayn looks genuinely confused, like the reason Harry can’t sit there should be plainly obvious. “Because it’s the alpha that sits closest to the door.”

“Why?” Harry asks, perplexed, shooting a quick glance to Liam.

“Because -- I mean, listen to your wolf.” When that explanation just has Harry’s brow crinkling further in confusion, Zayn tries again. “It’s to do with, like, safety. And status. We protect the alpha, but it’s still his prerogative to go into any given fight. The door is a weak spot.” He sighs, clearly frustrated with his own explanation. “I don’t know how to explain it. Never had to, before.”

“So I can’t sit here?” He tries not to sound annoyed, but probably fails miserably. Zayn at least pulls back at his tone, shrugs like he doesn’t really care, doesn’t want the imminent confrontation.

“I’m sure it’s fine for today,” Louis says as he arrives with the last of the bacon. “His gaze lingers on everyone besides Harry before he continues. “Harry is here as a guest today, not as part of our pack. He doesn’t yet know all the rules.”

“His wolf does,” comes Sophia’s muttered comment.

“Of course it does,” Louis agrees. “But it’s different for him. He doesn’t understand it yet. I’m sure we can cut him some slack. Agreed?”

He waits for everyone to nod, almost half a minute ticking by while he locks gazes with Liam. Harry can feel the tension in the air, the crackling electricity between them that could, at any moment, tip over into anger.

Eventually, Liam gives a short little nod in Louis’ direction. Everyone in the room visibly relaxes, the mood shifting from tense back to relaxed in a matter of seconds. It must be a werewolf thing because Harry certainly hasn’t ever felt this kind of quick mood shift with humans before. They might pretend at it, sure, but usually some hurt feelings and passive-aggressiveness remains.

He thinks he likes this more, the clear divide between something being a problem and the moment that problem has been sorted out, no lingering feelings to taint the group's future interactions. It’s a lot more honest, and far more efficient.

Louis looks at the sofa and then Harry, before following suit and throwing a pillow on the ground and sitting down next to Harry.

“Looks good,” Liam says, eyeing the food.

Louis snatches a piece of bacon and pops it in his mouth, crunching loudly. “Tastes good as well. Come on dig in, I didn't make all this so you can let it go to waste.”

It’s like a switch being flipped, everyone reaching forward at once, even Harry finds his own arm extending, filling up his plate in record time. He’s often ravenous after the change, eats at least two portions of everything for a day or two. Today is no different, and judging by the amount of food Louis has laid out and the alarming speed with which it is decimated, that's another werewolf thing.

They eat in silence and once done, Louis joins the others on the futon bed, stretching out and rubbing his belly. Harry gets up, eyeing the human pile for a long moment, before deciding to clear the plates, taking a deep, calming breath when he’s in the kitchen.

The thing is, he wants to join them, wants to just flop down on top of them and cuddle close, until the feeling of fullness has disappeared and he can move normally again. But he feels like he’s already overstayed his welcome, like he shouldn’t be here in the first place because this isn’t his pack, never will be.

He walks back over, checking if he’s missed any dishes, when warm fingers wrap around his wrist. He looks down at Louis who is lying on his back right at the edge of the bed, one hand protectively over his stomach, the other keeping Harry from escaping. Nick is next to him, back turned, spooning Zayn who is facing Sophia and Liam. There’s no space between their bodies, like such a thing is for normal humans.

“Come on,” Louis says, gently tugging on his hand. “Lie down.”

He takes an automatic step forward but halts, murmurs, “there’s no space.”

Louis moves so a sliver of bed appears next to him. Then he grins and yanks. Harry goes down inelegantly, landing on top of him hard. Louis lets out a soft oof.

Harry shifts so he’s off his belly. That ends with his nose squished into Louis’ neck and he just leaves it there when the scent of pines assaults him. It immediately calms those thoughts that still scream at him, telling him this is a bad idea.

Louis’ hand strokes down his back first, then ends up carding through his hair. The soft tugs on his scalp lull him into a doze and he has no idea how much time passes before he next blinks open his eyes.

He shifts, catches Louis smiling down at him. He looks gorgeous with his lips and cheekbones and pretty eyes so clear and blue. Harry stretches, rolls his tongue over Louis’ bottom lip, watches it curl yet more with the smirk that calls forth.

“Still hungry?” Louis asks, low and steady.

Harry can’t help but chuckle, dragging his nose along Louis’ cheek. “Not for food.”

Louis shifts, somehow giving more of his attention to Harry, the fingers in his curls clutching harder yet. “Just making sure whether you’re trying to kiss me or if your wolf is trying to tell me he’s still hungry.”

Harry pouts and Louis laughs, thumbing over his bottom lip and watching it intently. “Why would I still be hungry? My wolf, I mean?”

“You, my dear little werewolf, need to read up on wolf behaviour and body language,” Louis says in a soft tone right against his lips, pressing his against Harry’s in a chaste little kiss.

A groan escapes him then and he presses closer, opens his mouth to run his tongue over Louis’ lips.

There’s a grumble from beside them, a gentle shift going through the pile and Nick complaining about yet more people kissing around him.

But Harry doesn’t really care, because just then Louis opens his mouth and Harry presses his tongue in deep.

It’s not tentative, the way they kiss. It is relaxed though, a slow exploration that could lead to more but doesn't have to. Even the soft sounds Louis makes beneath him don’t promise more, or the way he pulls Harry closer by the hip and the way he gasps into his open mouth.

It’s just. It’s almost natural, like this is how they are meant to be. Harry is no stranger to being in two minds about something, feels like the fact that he’s a werewolf really just makes that worse. But kissing Louis, splaying his fingers wide on his warm belly, that, every part of himself agrees with.

Louis moves his leg up to Harry’s hip while one hand slides from his hair to the nape of his neck.

Harry groans at that, burrowing yet closer to him. A shiver runs through his whole body and ends in goosebumps when Louis’ nails gently scratch along the skin at the back of his neck, oddly soothing when everything else is so disconcerting.

The warmth of Louis’ touch lingers well past that, though, and he could swear he still feels the ghost of it hours later, when he lets himself into his own flat, dark and dreary after the bright sunlight and happy atmosphere he’d shared with the others.

He’d stayed well into the afternoon, answering Niall’s texts dutifully but still unable to make himself leave.

They’d watched reruns of old movies, dubbing their own, funnier dialogue over the original. Harry had fit in seamlessly, laughing with them. Later he sat curled up on the porch between Louis and Nick, the sun warming his back. And after that, after saying his goodbyes to the others, he’d kissed Louis in a private goodbye. His hands had wandered, begging Louis for more, looking wrecked when they’d finally pulled apart.

He’d left Louis, standing on the porch in the afternoon sunlight, every step threatening to break his resolve, to turn back around.


+++


He goes back to his normal routine after that, even if he feels nothing close to normal.

Nick still sits next to him in class and walks with him. They’re close, physically at least. They always move their chairs closer together than is really necessary, walk with their shoulders touching.

It’s just, it’s nice. Nick is fun and full of stories, always has an anecdote here or a comment there. And if Harry listens more closely when the topic involves Louis, then no one needs to know.

They’ve just decided to go grab a quick snack at one of the many cafés around the University, when a loud, happy female shriek interrupts them.

They both know it’s Sophia and step into the direction it came from without consulting each other. They find her not far off, on a picnic blanket laid out strategically between two large trees.

She’s red in the face from laughter, lying right across Liam and Zayn while trying to hold down the back of her dress where it keeps riding up. “I’m going to flash people if you don’t stop,” she says breathlessly, just as Liam tickles her again and she starts kicking her legs out uselessly while Zayn holds her hands but also moves so she doesn’t actually flash anyone.

Liam stops suddenly, like he’s interrupted by a sound. Not a noise though, Harry realises. A smell. Their smell. Liam stops his tickling assault and Sophia’s little shrieks die off slowly while Liam gives the both of them a wary look. Eventually, he clears his throat while sitting up. “Hey.”

Sophia twists around, an easy smile spreading on her lips. “Nicky! And Harry, the boy who locked himself up.”

“Don’t call me Nicky,” Nick says as she blows him a kiss, sitting up and trying to fix her hair.

“Sit down,” Zayn says when the silence stretches.

Nick pulls Harry down with him and he catches Liam’s gaze, relaxes when he gets a curt little nod.

Nick grabs for the trio’s bag, pulling out a sandwich and eating it without asking. “What’re you doing here?”

“Sophia wanted a picnic,” Liam says.

“It was your idea, you hopeless romantic and filthy liar!” She can’t keep a straight face, laughs halfway through the sentence and leans in for a quick kiss. “Don’t worry babe, won’t tell them you cry during romantic movies.”

Zayn and Nick snicker while Liam actually flushes, something Harry hadn’t thought him capable of. “Aww, come here babe,” Zayn says, slinging his arm around Liam’s muscular shoulders and hugging him close. “Are they being mean to you?”

Liam just buries his face in Zayn’s chest before murmuring a pitiful, “yes.”

Zayn rubs his back comfortingly and kisses the side of his head. “That’s okay, you can probably take them.”

Liam doesn’t reply, seemingly happy to just be held by Zayn while Sophia wiggles free of them to hand Harry a sandwich. “Sorry, none of these boys have any manners, here you go.” She looks at where Liam has practically crawled into Zayn’s lap, soaking up the attention, then at where Nick is still chewing away blissfully before sighing dramatically. “I do try, but I fear they are a hopeless cause.”

“Thank you,” Harry says politely, tries to sound normal when he asks, “where’s Louis, then?” It doesn’t work, four knowing smiles suddenly turning towards him. A giggle even escapes Zayn and he’s too slow to press his face into Liam’s side to suppress the sound.

“He’s at work, love,” Sophia says and Harry likes her, because she’s the only one not laughing now.

“He doesn’t usually come along on our dates, either,” Liam says from where his head is now resting in Zayn’s lap, his hand stretched out to stroke up and down Sophia’s arm gently.

“Yeah,” Zayn says while combing his fingers through Liam’s short hair. “That’d be weird.”

Nick swallows his mouthful loudly. “‘Cause that’d be the straw that broke the camel's back in your freakshow.”

“Hey.” There's the barest hint of something in Liam’s voice, not much more than a warning, maybe a promise should Nick feel the need to continue. “We aren’t a freakshow.”

“Oh lighten up, I know,” Nick grumbles. “God, can’t even make fun of you. With my boy here thinking of nothing but Louis all day and you three about to like, I don’t know, buy a white picket fence for your idyllic relationship or whatever, I feel all left out.”

“Aww, Nicky is jealous,” Sophia coos, pinching both his cheeks. With a wink at Harry she continues, “and don’t let Louis hear you calling Harry your boy.”

“He’ll have your balls,” Zayn agrees but Harry hardly hears, because the butterflies in his stomach are suddenly too loud and he has to concentrate not to smile like an idiot.

“You all suck,” Nick says dramatically, lying down with his head in Sophia’s lap. “Pat my head and stroke my ego. I might never find the perfect guy.”

“We’ll find you one,” Sophia soothes. “Don’t you know anyone for him, Harry?”

“I just moved here, remember?”

She waves her hand at him. “Yeah but like, you’re sociable and pretty to look at --” she’s interrupted by both Zayn and Liam’s complaining noises to which she only replies with an eye roll. “Surely you’ve met someone?”

Harry has, but not really anyone he’d think particularly fitting as a match for Nick.

Niall is the one who’s already building the long-lasting relationships. Harry on the other hand, has had a few one-night stands followed now by the vague hope that he and Louis can maybe work something out. “I mean, I guess I could introduce you to my brother,” he tells Nick.

“Urgh. Does he look like you?” Nick pulls a face. “That’d be weird.”

“Thanks, arsehole.” Harry laughs right along with the others. “And no, we aren’t actually related. His parents took me in when I lost mine.”

“I’m sorry,” Sophia says, the mood shifting quickly.

“It’s fine,” Harry promises, partly because it’s true, partly because he doesn’t want to get into it now. There’ll be a time and a place for that. Filling them in on his history definitely shouldn’t constitute part of their picnic. “Don’t even remember them and it’s not like I ever felt like I didn’t have loving parents.” He racks his mind for a way to turn the conversation around. “Oh and he knows about me, knows about werewolves. So I guess you wouldn’t have to hide that from him.”

“That would be nice,” Nick muses. “Is he hot?”

“What an awkward question to ask him,” Sophia chides with a soft smack to his shoulder. “That’s his brother!”

“Yeah, I couldn’t say. He’s got blond hair and an Irish accent, if that helps?”

“Yeah?” Nick perks up, seemingly for the first time during the conversation. “Tell me more.”


+++


Harry wakes up slowly and disoriented, blinks the unfamiliar living room into focus. He’s lying on something soft and warm, rising and falling under even breaths. When he rubs his cheek into the soft material of the jumper, he can feel the hand at the back of his neck, soft fingers playing with the short curls there.

“Good nap?” It’s nothing but a soft murmur, one he could easily ignore, pretend like he’s still sleeping, enjoy Louis’ hands on him while his scent lulls him back to sleep.

But Louis probably knows he’s awake anyway, so Harry shifts, knuckles the sleep from his eyes before blinking up at him blearily. “Yeah. Where’re the others then?”

“Left the moment you fell asleep,” Louis says with a soft smile. “Couldn't wait to get out of here fast enough.”

“Did I snore?”

Louis’ smile just widens. “Nah. Just drooled a bit.”

Harry’s eyes flash down to Louis’ chest, for all intents and purposes his pillow for the last twenty minutes. The blush is immediate when he sees the tell-tale darker stain right in the center. “I am so sorry,” he says, scrambling up and knocking Louis’ leg away which had been resting against him. “Wow, I suck.”

Louis chuckles and makes grabby hands for him, insistent enough that Harry leans down until he can pull him the rest of the way, right back onto his chest. “You’re adorable,” Louis murmurs into his curls. “Didn’t peg you for the nervous type, though.”

“I’m not,” Harry says nervously, chuckling himself when he hears it in his voice. “It’s just new.”

“What is?”

He rubs his nose along Louis’ collarbone just so he doesn't have to look him in the eye. “This. Us.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“I’m not lying!” He sounds more indignant than he feels, but Louis immediately strokes the back of his head again and it has the most calming effect. “I never really got around to the dating thing. Couldn’t bear not mentioning what I was, the mood swings close to the full moon. Plus I was afraid I’d hurt them.”

“Oh Harry,” Louis sighs, kissing his cheek. “You’re an idiot. But a loveable one. It’s okay, there’s no rush.”

Harry nips at his chin, his hand travelling down the front of Louis’ chest. “I don’t need you to coddle me. In fact, please don’t do that, ever. And just because I haven’t had a long term boyfriend,” his hand reaches the front of Louis’ crotch, rubbing gently, “doesn’t mean I didn’t do other stuff.”

“Stuff? Really?”

He grins at Louis before nodding. “Yep. And if you play your cards right,” he murmurs, kissing down Louis’ neck while pushing his jumper up with both hands. When it’s high enough to expose Louis’ nipples, he switches to mouthing at those instead.

“Then what?” Louis is breathless, like he’s either ticklish or has particularly sensitive nipples.

Harry rubs one with his thumb, intent on testing that theory. “What?”

“What do I get if I play my cards right?”

“Oh, yes.” He moves up to kiss Louis then, taste the pine on his tongue while Louis yanks on his hair almost violently. “Might just suck your cock then.”

“Harry,” Louis groans, writhing beneath him. “You don’t have to.”

Harry sits back up to smile down at him sunnily, jumper still hiked up under his armpits, chest rising and falling quickly. “Don’t worry. I’ve done it plenty before. Have even been told I’m quite good at it.”

Louis groans and throws an arm over his eyes. “Don’t know if I want to muffle you, or ask you to keep talking.”

“I have that effect on people.” He trails his hands down Louis’ chest and stomach, stopping right before the edge of his trackies. “Can I?”

Louis groans some more before sitting up, the simple action visibly causing him a lot of mental anguish. “Maybe we should talk first?”

Harry lets his index finger slip under the elastic of Louis’ pants, not pushing further, just resting it there before giving him a huge pout. “Talk? About what?”

“About you joining the pack.”

And just like that Harry’s happy mood is out the window. He sits back far enough to no longer be touching Louis, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m not joining any pack.”

“Harry,” Louis says soothingly. He doesn’t move besides pulling his jumper down, doesn’t reach out, which Harry thinks is good because he’s got a feeling he might just bolt otherwise. “You’ve already --”

“No! You guys have told me my options. You are giving me a deadline. I don’t want this, I don’t want any of this.”

“You liked being with us plenty on the full moon. You like hanging out with us now, this is the third time this week. Nothing else would change.”

Harry is shaking his head violently while he gets up, starts pacing in front of the couch. “I don’t need someone else to tell me what to do, Louis. Can’t you understand that? I want to be free!”

“You want to be content. There’s a difference.”

“Yeah, thanks Yoda. Still don’t need an alpha to tell me what to do.”

Louis sighs heavily, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. Like Harry is just the biggest burden to bear. “It’s not like that. And alpha doesn’t tell you what to do. You do things for your alpha. Out of respect, out of love.”

“It’s still a leash,” Harry says, and there’s something ugly creeping into his voice, part vindictive and part scared little boy. He clamps his lips together, hates this more than he can explain.

“It’s not. It’s safety, it’s family. Your alpha wants the best for you and you want the best for your alpha. The hierarchy that comes with it is a form of stress relief. You make it sound like it’s the root of all evil.”

“I’ve got a family.”

“Harry…” Louis scrubs his face before continuing, “you’ll have to decide soon.”

Harry grabs his jacket from the back of the sofa and yanks it on, his arm getting stuck and only giving at the last moment, just when he was ready to tear the stupid material. “I don’t want to decide. And I sure as fuck don't want Liam as my alpha.”

He’s halfway to the door when he hears Louis’ steady voice from behind him. “Harry, wait.”

And he doesn't know why, but he does, stops in his tracks. He’d maybe like Louis to stop him, tell him there’s another way, take this horrible decision out of his hands, make it better. But he won't turn around, won't give Louis that. “What?”

“I -- nothing. It’s fine, never mind.”

“Yeah,” Harry says, trying to swallow but feeling the burn. “I’ll try not to.”


+++


He’s a bit surprised when Nick sits next to him in class the next morning, and every day after that, chipper and talking a mile a minute. He’s clearly pretending like he doesn’t know about the tension between Louis and Harry, or the fact that Harry is prepared to oppose Liam when he comes asking for his final decision.

It’s clear in the strained little silences, the awkward, half-aborted movements like Nick is no longer sure if his physical proximity is welcome of not. And Harry doesn’t know how to tell him; that he craves it now more than ever, feels the loss keenly but also can’t come out and ask for it.

He gets the feeling it’s more of a chaperone duty now than anything else, probably has been from the beginning.

“Do you even study here?” he asks a few days later while on their way to second period, feeling particularly tired and cranky.

He can’t help it, feels like he needs to get laid to blow off some steam. He’d gone out the other night with just that in mind. And the moment he’d so much as looked at someone attractive, he’d felt like he was betraying someone, betraying Louis.

And that’s ridiculous, because it’s not like they’ve done much more than kiss. But he can’t help feeling the way he does, and so he’d sat with Niall and his friends in the evenings instead, gotten drunk while trying to ignore Niall’s increasingly disapproving gaze.

Nick frowns now, but if it’s the question or the sun in his eyes is anyone's guess. “What do you mean? Of course I study here.”

“It’s just you’re quite a bit older than the average student. And -- I don’t know. You seem to pop up wherever I am. Almost like you’re following me, watching me.”

Nick actually looks hurt at that. “First of all,” he says primly, “you sound like an absolute arsehole. Second of all, yes I study here. In fact, we’re studying the same thing in case you hadn’t noticed, which would explain why I’m always where you are.”

Harry hadn’t noticed, hadn’t cared. He wants to feel chagrinned about his behaviour, about the way he really does sound like an arse. But he can’t, feels on edge again even though the full moon only just passed. But maybe that’s it, the deadline Liam had set fast approaching while he ignores it all, hopes it will just go away if he doesn’t deal with it.

“So you aren’t keeping tabs on me?”

“Of course I’m keeping tabs on you,” Nick hisses under his breath, continues even more softly, “you’re a werewolf in our territory, what the fuck else do you think we should do? Just let you come and go as you please? This is our place, and we’re protective of it. Two weeks ago, we didn’t even know you.”

“So all the chit-chat, all the times we talked, that was all a lie?” Harry doesn’t know why he sounds so defensive, doesn’t know why he’s itching for a fight, why he isn’t backing down.

It’s almost like it’s happening to someone else, like he’s watching a movie shot in first person, like he has no control over his own body. That thought scares him, had been one of his biggest fears ever since understanding the concept of what lived inside him, of the creature he had to share his body with, his mind. That fear makes him want to lash out, but all he does is take a step closer, innumerably displeased when even a straightening of his spine doesn’t make him tower over Nick.

“You know what your problem is? You’re so busy fighting yourself, you don’t even notice when people around you are nice because, and here’s the shocker, you are actually fun to be around once you take that head out of your arse and give it a good airing.” Nick takes a step back after that speech and Harry doesn’t even know why but he follows him, closes the distance between them again like he’s just a magnet, being dragged along.

“Stop it,” Nick says under his breath, looking down at where Harry’s toes are pressing against his own. “I’m not challenging you, you idiot.”

And somehow, that makes Harry even more angry, the implication that this has anything to do with his wolf, like that personality is bleeding into his human side and he’s not even aware of it. And maybe it’s that, maybe it’s the pent up frustration, the fact that this is not how it was supposed to go, not how his freedom was supposed to look like. Either way, he places his hands flat on Nick’s chest and gives him a hard shove, far too hard for any human to take.

But Nick isn’t human, just staggers back three steps, the look in his eyes almost betrayed. “Oh look,” Nick says in a mocking tone of voice, “just another wolf in sheep's clothing, aren’t you? That’s exactly the reason why I left my old pack. And a perfect reason for me to put in a veto, should you actually decide to want to join officially.”

And with that he turns on his heels, walking off and leaving Harry with all that pent up frustration, the confusion coursing through him and setting his muscles on fire.


+++


He should have gone out drinking with Niall and his friends. But he can’t, knows Liam wants his answer tomorrow and also knows he isn’t a single step closer to said answer.

He knows it's because neither option is what he really wants. He’s not going back home, likes his freedom here. He’s not going to join the pack because Liam, while not as bad as he’s initially thought, isn’t what he wants either. He just wants to go to Uni like a normal person, is that really too much to ask?

His own indecision is making him cranky, like there’s bugs crawling under his skin, like he needs to move, do something to get rid of that feeling.

What he does instead is make a cup of tea, only to promptly forget about it as he’s pacing the room. Unfortunately, his mind doesn't occupy itself with finding a solution. He's too stuck on wallowing in the fact that this is happening to him, while being unable to change that.

Half an hour later he wanders back into the kitchen and dumps the mug of cold tea into the sink, sighing heavily. He's just leaning back against the counter with his arms crossed in front of his chest and a scowl directed at the opposite wall, when a knock pulls him out of his dark reverie.

It’s Louis.

There's a momentary lift in his mood after swinging open the door, but it plummets once he identifies the expression on Louis' face for what it is. Fury. Just what he needs.

No longer content to wait around for Harry to catch on, Louis shoulders his way inside. He doesn't even look at Harry, like that is somehow beneath him. It grinds Harry's teeth together and he closes the door behind him with a superfluous and rather sarcastic, “why don’t you come inside.”

Since Louis doesn't acknowledge him, Harry trails him into the living room. Louis is pacing and Harry only gives the sofa a cursory glance before squaring off besides it.

“What’s your problem?” Louis asks and he’s clearly angry, not trying to hide that fact. “Why did you lash out at Nick?”

Right, Nick. They probably have some ridiculous saying along the lines of 'pack members first', which means Harry is fucked both coming and going.

“Oh, you know,” Harry replies, his hackles rising immediately. “Just have an impossible decision to make.”

“Fucking hell, you really are dramatic, aren’t you? Haven’t seen anyone so conflicted with himself in a long time. And I met Liam right after he was turned.”

“I’m not conflicted,” Harry shoots back, immediately peeved at being grouped with Liam in any way. “Your pack has given me an ultimatum, that’s all I’m worried about.”

“Let me rephrase that,” Louis bites out sharply, stepping up to Harry and glaring up at him. “You're conflicted and oblivious.”

Harry bares his teeth, can’t help but think what the gesture would mean in wolf form. “Why don’t you enlighten me, since you seem so all-knowing.”

“You aren’t conflicted about joining our pack. You’re conflicted about being a werewolf.”

Harry laughs, dry and ugly. “Being a werewolf is a conflict!”

Louis shakes his head. “It’s not. Which is where the oblivious part comes in. Your wolf has wanted nothing more than to join a pack. There isn’t even a choice there. But you’re so at odds with yourself, you can’t even see that.”

“I have to fight my wolf. Or would you rather I go on a killing spree?”

Louis sighs. “Harry,” he says, slowly, like every syllable is important. “If you stop struggling against your wolf so hard, if you give it what it wants, why should your wolf go on a killing spree? It’s not the wolf side of a werewolf that has given rise to the legends of monsters. Wolves aren’t hostile when they know where they belong. Humans have a capacity for violence no other animal has. And you’re clinging to your humanity so hard that neither side can catch a break.”

Harry wants to lash out, wants to argue and oppose. But that wouldn’t satisfy the curiosity inside of him, not by a long shot. “What do you mean?” he asks, voice rasping over each syllable.

Louis steps up to him and catches his face between his small hands. “You already know the answer,” he whispers fiercely. “Just listen to yourself.”

Harry shakes his head almost violently, but Louis doesn't let go, keeps cupping his face.

“I want you to do something for me now,” Louis says urgently. “Tell me the name of the local pack’s alpha.”

Harry frowns, confused. He opens his mouth to say it, say Liam’s name.

Only nothing comes out and he looks at Louis in bewilderment. Louis gives him an encouraging nod and Harry feels something, excitement maybe, shoot through him.

“You?” he croaks, softly and not at all steadily. “How?”

“Normal way.” Louis shrugs. “Being clever and watching out for others, mostly.”

Harry takes a shaky breath in and stumbles back, shaking his head wildly. “You’re not the alpha. Liam is.”

Louis looks small where he’s standing, unmoving and very un-alpha like. He isn’t big and strong and scary, he’s tiny and cunning and nice. But the bewilderment about what he’s saying hasn’t settled yet and when he takes a step forward Harry flinches back so suddenly, he falls arse-first onto the sofa, the breath knocked out of him.

“Look,” Louis starts, ruffling his hair when he cards his fingers through it. “Not to sound mean here, but you really have no idea what an alpha is or isn’t. If you’d been listening to your wolf, you’d have known right from the start.”

“So what, my wolf knew?”

It’s infuriating, the way Louis rolls his eyes, even more so the way Harry still just wants to touch him, be close to him. Instead he shifts on the sofa, unsure if he wants to get up or see if Louis will come to him. “Well, the fact that I was able to call off Liam in that alley gave you at least enough of a clue that it certainly wasn’t Liam who’s in charge.”

“You didn’t call him off.”

“Ah,” Louis says, stepping closer slowly this time, deliberately. “That’s because you expect someone in charge to shout a lot, flex their muscles and all that.” He stops when his feet bracket Harry’s, neither mentioning the way their legs are touching like this.

“That’s how werewolves work,” Harry says petulantly now, because he knows it’s bullshit, can feel it in the very depth of his being.

“Yeah?” Louis asks in a low voice while leaning in. “Did you read that in a book? Or on some random web page? You’re a fucking moron, Harry.”

It happens so fast. One moment, he’s looking up at Louis towering over him. The next he’s got Louis dragged down onto the couch, lying prone on his back. This time, it’s Harry looming over him, looking down at where he’s pressed into the shabby material.

He looks supremely unbothered, like Harry isn’t even a potential threat, doesn’t need to be taken seriously at all. “How are you so calm?” Harry growls out, pressing Louis down more harshly, like he’s about to break free any moment.

Louis smiles, slow and controlled and it would be arrogant and cocky for a human. But Harry is listening now, listening to his wolf, is listening as a werewolf and so the challenge in Louis’ action is clear.

“Remember how I made food for all of them? How I took the first bite and then allowed them to eat?” Louis points at himself. “Alpha.”

And Harry just shakes his head, grabs Louis’ still-pointing hand and presses it against the cushion above his head, collecting his other hand and keeping it there as well. “Remember on the night of the full moon, when Zayn came up to you stuck inside that wooden hut, thinking he could growl at you? Shut that down without a single complaint from him, didn’t I?”

It’s infuriating how Louis looks so fucking calm, lying there on his back with his little wrists caught easily in just one of Harry’s hands. It’s like he’s letting Harry do this, like he’s allowing it for now, indulging Harry in his odd little ways. That rankles because he clearly isn't at odds with himself, can read this situation on a level Harry can't. And that thought is like throwing kindling on the fire already inside of Harry and he’s burning up as it is, with a need he doesn’t quite yet understand and doesn’t have the patience for anyway.

Harry gropes for something truthful and eventually blurts out, “you’re making me angry.”

The smile that spreads over Louis’ features is nothing if not self-satisfied. “Good,” he says, stretching languidly underneath Harry and completely forcing his mind into overdrive. “At least then your wolf and human will finally be on the same page.”

“Louis,” Harry warns, pressing his body down harder when Louis moves again, one of his legs sliding along the outside of Harry's body and making him grit his teeth.

“Can’t help it you’re so afraid of being a werewolf. Doesn’t mean I have to be afraid of you, too.”

God, Harry wants to press him down even harder, turn him onto his belly and bite the nape of his neck just to have him shut up. The thought is so clear it’s more like a memory, something that actually happened. Harry groans deeply when Louis rolls his hips underneath him, pressing his arse against Harry’s full cock.

The vision snaps and he’s back to reality, Louis still beneath him on the sofa but facing up, grinning knowingly and stretching his neck to whisper straight into Harry’s ear. “It wouldn’t change anything,” he says and Harry just knows he saw that image as well. Just how he witnessed that vision of them running through the woods all those days ago.

Louis opens his mouth over Harry’s pulse point, his teeth just barely touching the thin skin there. The beat of Harry’s heart threatens to take over, a furious staccato against his chest he is helpless to change. This is what the deer must feel like, when it’s been chased for miles by the wolf who has finally caught up.

Harry stays frozen, breath caught in his throat and every muscle locked into place. The air rushes out of his lungs when Louis moves back, placing a gentle kiss on his neck instead.

The reprieve doesn’t last. Moments later, Harry chokes on nothing when Louis’ self-satisfied voice reaches his ears. “Would still be your alpha.”

Harry rears back so abruptly, he doesn’t even remember it, lying on top of Louis the one moment and glaring down at him the next. His knees barely hold, buckling under his weight like it’s a burden they aren't used to at all, while Louis lounges comfortably, hands tucked behind his head.

Harry takes a step back, then another, shaking his head the entire time. “You’re not. I didn’t join.”

Louis gets up slowly, patting down his clothes like he doesn’t have a care in the world. When he finally looks up he doesn’t hide his displeased expression, like he’s quite done with coddling Harry. “Of course you did.”

“No!” He can’t help it, can’t control it, his own anger and frustration spilling forth in that single word.

Louis sighs and rubs his eyes. Apparently, being stuck here with Harry is quite tedious.

That snaps something inside Harry, who charges forward on the next breath, reaching Louis in two strides and pushing him back against the bookshelf in a couple more. The contents -- not only books, but all the little knickknacks they didn’t know where else to put -- rattling precariously when both their bodies hit the rickety construction.

“Stop it,” Harry hisses out. He’s pushing Louis back against the shelf with his hands on his shoulders, knows he’s probably grinding Louis’ shoulder blades into the shelf and not really caring. “You aren’t my alpha.”

“Why not?” Louis says, still calmly but with the wind clearly having been knocked out of him. Harry lets up then, boxing Louis in more with his body than the strength of his arms. “It’s just a word for people that need to grasp what is happening, anyway. For those that go through life using nothing but their head, too afraid for anything else, anything they can’t fit into a nice little box and file away, anything that challenges the way they have trained themselves to see the world.”

“Maybe I’m one of them.”

Louis laughs, harshly and with little humour. “You really aren’t.”

“How do you know?” It’s a whisper that Harry is unable to stop, ultimately doesn’t want to because he wants an answer more.

Louis winds his arms around Harry’s neck, encouraging Harry's closeness. "Because you’re lashing out,” Louis murmurs gently. “Means you’re frightened of something, that you want to protect yourself. New stuff is frightening, but at least you’re not dismissing it from the start.”

“I didn’t join,” Harry tries, still holding on to his anger, like it’s the only thing preventing him from toppling over the edge. And edge Harry has no idea about what is at the bottom of, or how far it goes down.

“You did. Called us right to you and we came, stayed because you’d locked yourself up since you don’t know any better. But that’s okay, because we can help with that. No more locks. You’ve spent quite a lot of time with us since then, because your wolf feels safe with us, wants to be close to the others.”

“I joined? Isn’t there some sort of initiation?”

“Harry, this isn’t a fraternity. You asked to join and no one opposed. This isn’t complicated.”

“I didn’t know.”

“Look,” Louis says softly, his fingers under Harry’s chin to make him look up. “Just as joining is that easy, so is leaving. We don’t want you to -- I certainly don’t want you to. But it’s definitely an option.”

“I joined,” Harry repeats. It’s less of a question and more of a statement now and he quite likes the sound of it. “What does it mean?”

Louis shrugs. “Nothing, really. When you ask us for help, we help. Always and without question. We’d love it if you’d join us on the full moon, and generally the pack likes to hang out as it’s soothing to the wolf, but it’s not really like you have to.”

“What about. What about us?”

“That depends,” Louis says, his words come out slow, like he’s giving Harry extra time to think. “What do you want?”

Harry shifts, mumbles, “don't know.”

“I think that's a lie.”

“Don't I just feel like this because," Harry takes a deep breath and stumbles over the next words, “you're my -- you're the alpha?”

Louis' face is almost comical. “Dear god, no. Trust me, the others certainly don't like me like that.”

“Oh. Good. That's uhm, good.”

“Is it?”

Harry smiles then, slow but wide when he spots the relief on Louis’ face. “Yeah, definitely.”

Louis slides his hands up Harry’s chest and over his shoulders. With a single, easy hop his legs wrap around Harry’s hips. It’s like he knows Harry’s hands will reach out to cup his bum just to keep him from sliding down. Harry even steps closer and adjusts his stance, pressing Louis back against the shelves to pin him into place.

Louis’ gaze drops to Harry’s lips and when he looks back up his gaze is unfocused and his voice rough. “Going to kiss you now.”

He doesn’t though, just sits pretty, one hand sliding to cup the back of Harry’s head. It’s like he’s encouraging Harry to close the distance between them, to be the one to initiate the kiss.

There’s a moment, not of indecision, because that has never been the case when it comes to Louis. It’s more Harry getting his bearings, making a conscious choice, one his entire being agrees with.

Louis’ breath ghosts over his cheek as he leans in, making him shudder before their lips connect.

It’s tentative, their kiss. For about three seconds. Then something wild within him overflows, making sure to exorcise the lingering anger. Soon, there’s teeth and nipping and pulling of hair, interspersed with heavy breathing and aborted little sounds they’re both too far gone to control.

When Harry pulls back to draw some breath, Louis’ gaze seems glued to his tingling lips. He slides his tongue over it, where Louis had tugged almost viciously. It earns him a deep, rumbling groan from Louis’ chest, nails dragging over the back of his neck. His arms ache just slightly from holding Louis up, but he’d do it all night if Louis asked him to.

“Louis I --” he breaks off when Louis’ eyes snap to his, his pupils so wide there’s almost no blue left at all. He still gets lost in them, in their depth, completely forgetting his train of thought.

It’s hard to put into words what he’s feeling. There’s been one thing that hasn’t changed through all this, a beacon of truth in his muddled mind that’s only starting to sort itself out slowly. “I want you. Wanted you since I first saw you. Want you even more now that I know you. You’re amazing Louis, fascinating. Can hardly keep my hands to myself when I’m around you.”

Louis groans halfway through his speech, throaty little sounds spilling from his red-kissed lips while his nails dig into Harry’s skin. He bucks, rubbing their cocks together while leaving Harry in charge of holding him up.

It takes a visible effort, but he collects himself enough to pull something from his back pocket. It’s lube and a string of condoms, which he presses to Harry’s chest the moment he settles back more comfortably again. “Werewolves can’t contract STDs, but I thought you might be extra about it.”

This time, it’s Harry that whines. He can’t help it, has to lean in for another kiss because fuck Louis and his multitude of condoms right along with the implication that comes with that. Or just fuck Louis, that works, too. “You drive me insane,” he growls into Louis’ neck, nipping at his skin.

“Yeah, well,” Louis mutters, reaching down to fiddle with the front of both their trousers, his deft little fingers slipping over Harry’s bulge. He bites his lip to keep the desperate sounds from spilling out. “You aren’t much better. You with your gorgeous smile and your dumb ideas and your big hands.”

Harry squeezes those hands, still on Louis’ arse and watches him arch, watches him throw back his head and expose his throat. Harry dives for it immediately, latches on with lips and teeth. He can feel Louis’ stubble along the side of his face, Louis’ nails scratching across his scalp as he frantically tries to pull Harry closer still.

“I’ve got a nice, comfy bed just a few steps away,” Harry pants against his skin.

Louis pulls his head back, enough so they can look at each other. Slowly, both his eyebrows rise. “Do you want to take me to your bed?”

God, the things Harry wants can’t even be put to words. Of course he wants to take Louis to his bed, wants to give them time and comfort to explore each others bodies in peace. He wants to take it slow, wants to lick every last bit of Louis’ skin, wants to see him fall apart under his hands as he gently arches against his comforter, over and over again.

Of course he does.

But right now, with the lingering anger still in his veins, all he wants to do is fuck Louis right here, leave the slow and romantic sex for when they’re in the mood, use their current state to its full advantage instead.

“Yes,” Harry says, knowing it’s only a half-truth. His mind supplies him with an image of Louis bent over the nearby table, arching desperately under his touch. But his hand is splayed wide on Louis’ back, keeping him from lifting his torso as he drives into him over and over again.

He blinks, looks at Louis with wide eyes, shocked at his own thoughts, the ones that weren’t even his to begin with.

“What?” Louis writhes, hands back to fiddling with their trousers but not really getting anywhere. “You thought you’re the only one capable of projecting his thoughts?”

Louis.”

And then the scene in his mind changes, shows Harry bent over with Louis behind him, his skin on fire wherever Louis touches. He blinks and it’s gone, Louis grinning at him mischievously. “That work better for you?”

Their lips crash together again, both of them moving at the same time. Harry manages to groan before he’s lost to the sensation, his hips snapping forward in desperation as he pushes his tongue in deep.

Finally, finally, between one kiss and the next Louis gets Harry’s trousers unbuckled. A rough push has Harry stumbling back, while Louis lands easily on his feet. “Off, take them off,” Louis says as he does the same with his own, shoves them and his pants down to his ankles and steps out of them. Harry follows suit, both of them stripping off their jumpers next.

Harry isn’t wearing anything underneath, left standing nude to Louis’ hungry gaze.

Louis is still in a button down, one Harry very much wants to rip off. He doesn’t, of course, reaches out instead and opens the buttons in record time. Louis leans in to nip at his collarbone, a sharp little sting that goes straight to his cock. So is Louis’ hand, wrapping around him experimentally and giving him a few hard tugs.

“Fuck,” Louis says, watching his hand.

“Yeah,” Harry agrees. His knees buckle when Louis swipes his thumb over the head, licks his lips absentmindedly.

With a groan Harry grabs his wrist and brings it up to kiss along the skin. He lets go, pushes the unbuttoned shirt over Louis’ shoulders. The material slides down gracefully to pool around his feet, leaving him gloriously and unashamedly naked.

Louis blinks up at him in surprise, eyelashes ridiculously long. “You’re fast at that,” he murmurs and it sounds almost impressed.

Something warm spreads inside Harry, settling deep in his stomach. And god-fucking-damn if even this little praise from his alpha turns him on so much, the possibilities are infinitely intriguing.

He tries to answer but can’t, because his fingertips explore Louis’ sharp collarbones, sliding down his chest to dance over his softer middle. He’s too caught up in the warmth of his skin, the little shivers and sucked in breaths.

Louis lets him, but only for a moment. Then he’s shoving the condoms and lube at him and climbing onto the couch, back turned. He kneels on it, looking over its back with his cock rubbing against the backrest and his hands on the edge.

Harry’s mouth goes dry, but he steps up behind him anyway. There isn’t all that much space, just enough for Harry to place a knee between Louis’ legs.

He kisses up the back of Louis’ spine while he struggles to open the lube, half of it going everywhere when it breaks open under his shaking hands.

Louis twists his torso, laughter in his eyes when he sees the mess Harry has made. He sticks out his bum and murmurs challengingly, “hopefully you’re quick at getting me ready as well.”

There’s a beat, then another, and then Harry’s sticky fingers slide between his arse cheeks to spread the lube around his rim.

Louis exhales brokenly when Harry pushes his middle finger in gently, waits for him to rock back before he drives it deeper.

“Come on, Harry. More.” It’s fascinating how Louis pushes his body back so desperately, would probably do all the work if Harry just held his hand steady. From this angle Harry can make out his profile, sees how his lips part on silent moans and his eyelashes flutter. “Need another.”

And Harry obliges, pushes in two on the next beat. It’s still too slow for Louis but Harry needs this, feels like the prep is as much for him as it is for Louis. There’s trailing kisses to Louis’ shoulder blade as further distraction while he spreads his fingers, stretching Louis slowly and methodically.

He’s never felt this choked up during sex before. He’s usually the one actively holding back, too afraid he might lose his control otherwise. Louis doesn't seem burdened by it, demanding more, for Harry to give him that part of himself.

And that thought just has his heart racing again, because as things stand it’ss a distinct possibility and Harry has no idea how he’s supposed to survive this.

“‘S enough,” Louis grunts, hips rolling in a filthy rhythm, marked by impatience and a clear indication of what he wants. He pulls almost completely off, only stopped by the sofa’s backrest impeding his movement.

“No,” Harry murmurs, forehead resting against the nape of Louis’ neck as he spreads his fingers some more.

“I’m a werewolf, Harry. I won’t break.”

“No, please, I --”

Louis twists his torso again, looks at Harry before cupping his cheek and leaning in for a sweet kiss, so at odds with his movements just moments before that it sets Harry’s mind reeling, completely unused to this emotional aspect when it comes to sex.

“Fine,” he says eventually. “But I think you just like playing with my arse.”

Harry hiccups a laugh, adding more lube because the mess is already soaking into the upholstery, so it doesn’t really matter. “Never fucked a werewolf before. An alpha.”

Louis arches, his back one smooth, long curve. He groans when Harry drags his fingers out slowly only to push forward again. “That much is clear,” he pants.

He bites Louis’ shoulder gently in reprimand for that comment, gets a blind smack to the side of his hip in return.

“You almost ready?” Louis asks after a while, just as Harry spreads his fingers, easier now, and contemplates adding another.

“Shouldn’t I be asking that?”

“And yet…” Louis sounds far away, like teasing Harry is only an afterthought and he’s actually concentrating on something else entirely.

Moments later Harry knows why, chokes on his own spit when images assault his mind, gone so fast he doesn’t have the time to really get a good look. Harry on his knees, mouthing at Louis’ pretty cock. Louis pushing him back on some bed, returning the favour. There’s several scenes of them fucking in all manner of positions in such quick succession that Louis must have really thought about them in great detail. There’s also images of them just kissing on the futon bed from the other day, of Harry hunched over his notebook in class and Louis asking if the seat next to him is taken. There’s them dancing at the club from the night they had met, only this time Liam doesn’t interrupt, lets them ride it out until Louis pulls Harry somewhere more private.

And then they’re here, just like they are now, only Harry has finally replaced his fingers with his cock and is driving into Louis, wringing the most amazing sounds from his throat.

“Okay, okay,” he slurs as he blinks the visions from his mind and fumbles for a condom. He looks at it for a second, knows it’s superfluous. But maybe he needs the familiarity of it during this whirlwind of an evening, some common landmark in this sea of uncertainty. “Also, that’s not playing fair.”

Louis twists around for another kiss, teeth closing over Harry’s bottom lip in what is very nearly a bite. “Harry?” he starts, pressing his arse back and almost pushing Harry off the edge of the couch. “You need to get a move on now, I don’t do so well with being kept waiting.”

He’s so gorgeous and warm under Harry’s palms, so self-assured. The way he knows what he wants is infinitely appealing to Harry, his directness something Harry hopes to learn from him someday.

There’s no doubt that Louis is starting to reach the end of his patience, judging by the deep rumbling sound in his chest. And yet Harry doesn’t move, looks down at Louis’ body, his lightly muscled back and the pronounced dip at the base of his spine, right where the dimples sit.

It’s weird, how, if he tries to strip himself of all the things causing him so much confusion, if he stops worrying so much about where he belongs and instead just listens to what he’s already telling himself, how his next move becomes so very, very clear.

He leans in and noses up Louis’ neck, rubbing the side of his face into his hair, bringing his mouth close to Louis’ ear. “Want to make you come,” he whispers as he grabs Louis’ hip, thumb stretching to stroke that indentation next to his spine.

“Do it, then.”

Harry nods and by the time he’s lined himself up and taken a deep breath, Louis is already pushing back, moaning loudly when the head of Harry’s cock pushes past the resistance and slides halfway inside.

They pause, panting, Harry unable to stop himself from touching Louis everywhere, sliding his palms over his chest and neck and shoulders, trying to ignore how fucking good Louis feels, how tight. That’s imperative if he wants to make good on his promise. “Want to make you feel so good.”

Louis twitches, grips the edge of the backrest so hard his knuckles turn white. He braces himself before pushing back suddenly. They both moan when his arse finds a perfect resting place against Harry’s front. He can’t help it, grips Louis tight and pins him into place, stops his relentless back and forth to look down at the picture they make.

“That’s the perfect place for your arse,” Harry all but slurs.

He splays his fingers over both cheeks, pulling them apart to better see where Louis is stretched around his cock.

“Pressed back against you?” Louis pushes back that extra inch, his hands sliding on the back of the couch with how much strength they’re both using to have them as close together as possible. “On your cock?”

“Yeah,” Harry grunts out, doesn’t know what he’s doing until his teeth close over the skin on Louis’ shoulder and he’s already biting down.

“Can’t believe you’re marking me,” Louis grits out while arching his back, making Harry’s cock shift inside him, over and over again, until he’s moaning for it. “And you didn’t even know you’d joined the pack.”

“Just making sure,” Harry says while holding himself still, letting Louis do all the work. And he is, arching desperately and moving his hips in such a way all Harry wants to do is pin him down and take him harder. The words come to him easily, now that he’s listening, to his wolf or his instincts, he doesn’t know. “Want the others to get the message as well.”

Louis leans down and there’s a sharp sting on his forearm, on the fleshiest bit close to the elbow. Louis biting him doesn’t hurt as such, but the meaning very nearly takes him over the edge. He pulls his hips back and drives forward in one hard thrust, dislodging Louis’ mouth from his skin, his torso hanging over the edge of the couch as he moans out while trying to hold on desperately.

Harry fucks into him hard and fast, just to see Louis’ body jostle helplessly under his thrusts, the way it looks like he might push him over the highest edge of the couch if he just kept up the pace.

And okay, so maybe their first time won't be slow and gentle. Or long. Because the moment he gives himself a breather, Louis straightens his torso, moving back roughly in the space between Harry’s body and the couch, like he can’t bear the fact Harry needed to slow down for just a second.

That’s good, Harry thinks, as he braces one arm on the backrest as well, pushing Louis bodily forward while slipping his other arm around his middle. He’s very much on board with hard and fast. Or hard and teasing, he decides, as he starts driving forward in hard little jabs, only to pull back slow enough to hear Louis whine.

“Hey, Harry,” Louis says breathlessly, reaching back with his hand. It tangles in Harry’s hair, pulls his face to the side of Louis’. His smaller body is still being jarred by the force of Harry’s movement and he has to grip the couch again for balance.

Harry keeps his face where Louis wants it, asks in an equally soft voice, “what?”

“Want you to do it again. Mark me. When you come.”

Harry groans, his hands slipping over Louis’ skin, feeling him smooth and warm and wonderful under his touch. “Want you to come first.”

Louis lets go of the couch with one hand, Harry’s thrusts immediately bending him over the backrest again. He laces their fingers and guides Harry’s hand to his cock.

“So hard,” he whispers as his fingers slide easily due to all the precome. “‘N so wet.”

Harry bends forward as well, nipples rubbing against Louis’ back while he starts moving his hand in earnest.

“Bite me again and I’ll have your entire hand covered, too.”

Harry noses at Louis’ skin, licking over the mark he’s already left and contemplating the position of the second. Anything to keep his mind from lingering too long on how good Louis feels, how the friction from his hard thrusts is driving him to distraction.

Louis first. That thought blocks out all the rest as he employs every trick in the book, while he wanks and thrusts into him simultaneously, never missing a beat. “Come on,” he chants into the back of Louis’ neck while rubbing his nose against his scalp. “Need you to come.”

Louis just whines, stretching his neck to the side. Harry’s mouth slips, practically on its own, to that muscle connecting shoulder and neck. He licks it, feels Louis spasm around his cock and throwing off his thrusts momentarily.

He opens his mouth wide and gives Louis exactly what he wants, teeth pressing down while his hips try for a constant rhythm.

It works, Louis tightens almost immediately underneath him, around him, groaning deep and satisfied as he spills all over Harry’s fist just like he’d promised.

Harry takes him through it, until he’s sure Louis is completely spent.

He only slows down marginally after that, because now that Louis is sated, leaning over the back of the couch bonelessly, it’s Harry’s turn.

And it’s not going to last, has been a losing battle from the start, the mere thought of coming inside Louis almost enough to push him over the edge. He pulls out, suddenly can’t stand the idea of the condom now. He drags it off quickly, dropping it unceremoniously onto the floor before giving his cock one, two hard strokes.

He comes with the head of his cock nestled against Louis’ hole, pushes forward until he’s all the way back inside, hips moving in a much more subdued manner, but thrusting nonetheless. He delights in the sounds spilling from Louis’ lips, feels another, smaller wave crash through him.

If he really pushed himself now, he could probably keep going long enough until he’s ready for another round.

Louis straightens then, slowly, twisting around for another kiss, not much more than parted lips pressed together while they’re both breathing heavily.

His thrusts ebb slowly, like his orgasm, until he’s just pressed in deep, clutching Louis to him like he’s a lifeline and they stay like that for a long moment, both bent over the back of the couch, breathing deeply.

When he finally does pull back, he does so slowly, both hands on Louis’ bum to keep his little whines to a minimum.

This is usually the time he goes to clean himself up, get some distance between himself and his partner. But he doesn’t want that, not with Louis, not yet.

Instead he pulls them both down onto the couch, Harry playing pillow to Louis sprawled out on top of him.

They’re kissing and chuckling, Harry’s hands touching Louis all over, his back, his hips, down lower, slipping between his bum cheeks to tease him gently.

“You do like playing with my arse.” Louis smiles and he’s never seen him like this before, all relaxed and happy and so very much at ease.

“Can’t blame me,” Harry tells him through a fake pout, pulling his hand back to squeeze one cheek.

“No, I suppose not.”

“Ooh, how humble of you.”

Louis smirks, crosses his arms on Harry’s chest to rest his chin on them. He looks down at Harry with his eyebrows raised. “I’m your alpha and I have a great arse. You should count yourself lucky.”

“Counting as we speak,” Harry agrees. “Worshipping will commence in the afternoon.”

Louis nods seriously. “That sounds sensible. You should tell me more. Like what that involves.”

“I’ll have to show you, then.”

Louis sighs deeply. “You’re lucky I’m such a patient man.”

“Yes,” Harry says as he wraps both his arms around him in a crushing hug. “I really am.”


+++


“Can you put that on the table?” Louis nods at the plate of potatoes, his own arms laden down with food.

“What will I get in return?” Harry asks cheekily while picking up the plate and following Louis. They’re out at the cabin again, a place that actually belongs to Sophia’s parents, as Harry has just learned.

Dinner is apparently eaten at the dining table, not in front of the telly, so they pass the others sprawled out on the futon, where Nick is trying -- and mostly failing -- to braid Sophia’s hair.

The moment they’ve set everything down, Louis pulls Harry closer by his shirtfront, kissing him thoroughly. “Glad you could make it today.”

Harry shrugs good-naturedly. He’s been in an exceptionally good mood lately, feel balanced in himself in a way he hasn’t in -- well, ever. It’s getting easier for him every day to identify why he’s doing certain things. And so he tries to always say what he really feels, though the tiny spike of fear that runs through him doesn’t go unnoticed, either. “Wanted to see my boyfriend.”

“Yeah?” Louis breaks into a wide grin. “Boyfriend, hm?”

“I mean, if you want,” Harry says but it’s unnecessary because he can see the answer on Louis’ face.

“Didn’t take you as long as I thought,” Louis says, reaching around to pinch his bum.

“I’m full of surprises like that.”

“I bet you are.” Louis’ voice is suddenly low and Harry whines softly in his throat, doesn’t care for the food on the table beside them, just wants Louis. But Louis pulls back, shaking his head like he needs to clear it. “Later. Would you get the cutlery? It’s still on the kitchen counter. I’ll set this out in the meantime.”

Harry does, but not before sneaking another kiss which he drags out for so long that Louis pushes him out of the room eventually.

When he comes back with the cutlery, the others are already seated around the table and he lays it out quickly before coming to stand next to Nick’s chair. “Nick?”

Nick looks up at where he’s trying to fend off Zayn trying to twist his nipple through his shirt. “What is it, babe?”

“Would you, uhm,” Harry looks down, feeling suddenly self-conscious. “Would you mind if I sat there?” He takes a deep breath, continues, “I’d like to sit next to my boyfriend, if that’s okay.”

Nick gives him a knowing smirk and nods to another seat, the one that doesn’t have a plate before it. Harry knows the reason for that now, knows it’s because of the proximity to the door. If anyone were to sit there, it’d be Louis. “There’s place on his other side.”

Harry shifts, uncomfortable because this is still new and he knows everyone is watching him closely, knows this is about so much more than a seat at the table. “Can’t sit there,” he murmurs. “You know that.”

He can see Sophia grin widely out of the corner of his eye but Nick’s face doesn’t change. “Oh? Why is that?”

Harry worries his bottom lip, wonders if maybe he should have just kept his mouth shut and sat down on the far side, where there’s enough space.

“Please?” Louis’ voice is gentle and undemanding, but Nick’s chair scrapes back immediately.

“Was just messing with you. Glad you finally stopped being an idiot.” He grins while ruffling Harry’s hair, before easily settling down next to Liam.

Harry slides into the vacated chair, his hand immediately reaching out to tangle his fingers with Louis’.

Louis gives a comforting squeeze before taking a thoughtful first bite, chewing slowly. “While running the risk of complimenting myself,” Louis says, to the background snorts of the others, “this is actually quite good.” He takes another bite, chews that one as thoughtfully as the first. “Try it, tell me what you think.”

And to the sound of everyone picking up their fork and doing the same, Harry spears a potato and crunches down happily.