Harry's lavender nail polish is chipping. It's an odd thing to notice at this exact moment, maybe, but he had been planning on asking Louis to repaint them for him. Not that he isn't perfectly capable of doing so himself, of course, but it's always more fun with Louis's help. Though, he's not sure how inclined Louis will feel to help him any time soon.
An urgent meow breaks him of his thoughts.
Ah, yes, Louis.
"I don't know what I did wrong," he pouts down at the boy– er, cat, rather. Narrow eyes with slitted pupils glare up at him. Louis's new whiskers twitch as he huffs, and his tail drags back and forth irritatedly across the floor.
"I mean, I followed the instructions," Harry grumbles as he glances over the spell copied down in his journal. He'd checked over it five times, making sure his notes were identical to the source he'd copied it from, and he'd even had Louis check it as well. "I did everything right."
Louis groans, sort of, a strangled growling sound emitting from his throat. Harry can practically hear his you fucking idiot. His frown deepens as Louis stalks away to the hall, not returning when Harry calls for him.
Well, if he had to turn his roommate into an animal, at least it was an appropriate one.
The thing is, Louis makes a very, very pretty cat. Ridiculously so.
He's a short-haired, lanky little thing, which isn't too much of a change. Harry's fairly sure he's a calico, mostly black and caramel with a bit of white on his face, chest, and paws. His eyes, to Harry's delight, are the same mischievous and calculating blue that judge his every fumbling move. He's just bloody gorgeous.
Not that Louis isn't completely lovely as a human, too. Harry's pretty sure he'd be breathtaking in any form, but human Louis is his favorite. He tells him as much.
"It's almost like I miss your stupid, annoying voice," he laughs. Louis hisses at him from where he's sitting on the counter, watching him pour a bowl of Curiously Cinnamon. Harry briefly hopes that Louis's new feline digestive system can take the sugary cereal, but it's not like Harry could convince him to eat cat food. The idea is ludicrous.
He carries the bowl to their living room, setting it on one end of their sofa and sitting on the other with his own bowl cereal, glad that he didn't have to forgo milk. The extra sweetness is worth Louis's death glare.
Two reruns of How I Met Your Mother have gone by when Harry feels the couch dipping. He turns to see Louis curling in on himself, pressed into Harry's thigh. He lets himself coo obnoxiously, reaching down to scratch behind Louis's ear. He growls at the boy, but otherwise makes no indication that Harry should stop, so he doesn't. He continues to pet along Louis's back until the purrs turn to snores and he's out like a light.
Harry's been practicing magic since he was about sixteen. He's certain his mom wouldn't be too fond of the idea, which is why he wasn't very good at it until he moved out. It's easier to collect herbs and gems and candles when you don't have to explain them to a parent, really. He'd been hesitant to mention it to Louis, but the boy had been nothing short of supportive ever since Harry stumbled out an explanation for the sigils he'd found carved into the side of a candle. He'd bought Harry a beautiful leather journal the following week, which would come to hold countless spells, incantations, and rituals, as well as the odd poem or lyric.
Harry's currently thumbing through said journal, looking for anything that might turn a cat back into a human.
"I didn't even believe in this kind of magic," he grumbles to himself as he sucks at a fresh paper cut. "This can't be real."
Louis's wailing mrrooow from the other room assures him that it very much is real.
"Louis," he groans out, head thumping onto the back of the sofa, "shut the fuck up."
Louis persists, though, much like he would as a human. The cat sounds were marginally more aggravating, though.
"What do you want, you utter dick," Harry grumbled to himself as he stood up, tossing his journal to the sofa and stomping down the hall to Louis's room. He isn't there, though, and Harry's concerned until he realizes the pitiful sounds are coming from his own bedroom.
He's splayed out across Harry's bed, tail thrashing back and forth and spreading hair everywhere. He meets Harry's eye and lets out the loudest wail yet, rolling over and back again. Harry approaches him and cautiously reaches out his hand. As soon as he rubs across Louis's belly, the fucker finally shuts up and lets out a rumbling purr.
"I hate you," Harry tells him as he pokes Louis's nose with his free hand.
Louis meows back smugly.
"I do," Harry grumbles as he kneels down beside the bed, still petting Louis. He's so whipped.
Harry's tired of tripping over Louis. He's tired of the shedding, of the hair balls, of the silence when he wants to have a conversation. He hates coming home from the bakery and not being able to cuddle a soft, warm, only-slightly-smaller-than-his-own body, he misses muting the TV and making up dialogue, and he misses impromptu duets. He misses human Louis.
He's tried calling Zayn, his old high school friend who had gotten him into his practice. Zayn hadn’t had much in the way of advice, and had hung up as quickly as Harry had let him. The boy had been pretty evasive ever since moving off for college, busy with classes and roommates and rituals, but Harry knew he still cared in his own distant way. He just wished Zayn knew how to fix this.
Louis cuddled even closer when Harry hung up with a sniffle, though, so maybe there could be a few positives to this mess.
The first thing Harry's aware of when he wakes up is a tickling sensation on his nose. When he goes to scratch at it, his hand collides into something small and fuzzy. Louis lets out a surprised yelp at the contact and leaps onto the floor, meowing indignantly up at Harry.
“It's your fault for getting up in my face, weirdo,” Harry grumbles as he rubs his eyes and rolls onto his back. Louis jumps back onto the bed and settles himself on Harry's stomach, blinking lazily at him when the boy scratches under his chin.
“Dunno how I'm gonna fix you,” Harry tells him sadly. Louis’s ear twitches and he meows. Harry takes it as a reassurance.
After gently nudging Louis off of him, Harry sits up and reaches for his journal on his nightstand, thumbing through it yet again. Louis curls up on his lap. Harry wonders idly if Louis knows how soothing his purring is.
“I'm sorry I did this to you,” Harry murmurs as he turns another page. He hasn't stopped apologizing since the first startled meow.
Louis licks at his hand until Harry pets him. He hopes this means he's forgiven.
“So what you're telling me,” Niall says as he plops into the armchair next to the couch, “is that you turned your boyfriend into a cat.”
Louis bristles, growling in the blond’s direction. Harry rolls his eyes.
“We're not dating, you shit,” Harry reminds Niall as he scratches soothingly at the base of Louis’s tail. “Otherwise, yes, that's exactly what I'm telling you.”
Niall eyes the two warily. “Mate, no offense, but you know I don't believe in this kind of thing.”
“And you know I don't believe in it to this extent!” Harry pouts and crosses his arms, heart fluttering when Louis butts at his thigh in attempt to get his attention back. “But the fact of the matter is that Louis is a cat, and it's probably my fault, and I have no idea how to turn him back.”
Niall stares at Louis, chewing on his lip like he's meditating on a response. Then, lip twitching like he's repressing a grin, he replies, “I mean, if you weren't having sex anyway, I'd call this an improvement.”
Louis’s tail whips back and forth across the sofa, and Harry swats at his paws. “Don't, he scratches stuff when he's angry and this is a nice sofa,” Harry chides Niall.
“Sorry, couldn't resist.” Once his cackles have subsided, Niall sighs and reaches for his beer on the coffee table next to him. “Seriously, though, I don't know, H. Honestly cannot say I've ever turned my boyfriend into a cat.”
“Not boyfriends,” Harry snaps, flinching when Louis leaps off the couch and darts down the hall toward his room. “And besides, Liam would be a dog and you know it.”
“Saint Bernard,” Niall agrees thoughtfully. “You’d be a frog.”
Harry gasps, clutching at his chest. “Excuse you.”
Niall raises an eyebrow. “Have you seen your bug eyes?”
“I much prefer baby deer,” Harry grumbles as he folds his legs up to his chest, glaring at his toes. “Even giraffe is nicer.”
“I never said you'd be an ugly frog. Frogs can be cute. Hell, even Louis’s said–”
Niall's cut off by a sudden lapful of tri-toned fur, Louis hissing and scratching at his thighs. Harry hides his smirk in his knees.
“C’mon, just try it.”
Sighing, Harry plops down on the couch and levels Louis with an unimpressed glare. “I'm not giving you weed, so this is all you're getting.” He shakes the bag of catnip at him and continues, “Besides, it'll be, like, really funny.”
After lots of pleading and bargaining and petting, Harry manages to get Louis to try a bit of catnip. He instantly regrets it. Rather than making him lethargic like weed usually does, the catnip triples Louis’s energy, leaving him to dart back and forth down the hallway, race laps around the living room, and leaping on and off every piece of furniture that can hold his weight. It's an absolute disaster, and Harry hates himself just a little bit.
Around fifteen minutes later, Louis finally relents, circling around on Harry's lap and settling there, falling asleep almost instantaneously. Harry runs behind his ears with a sigh and flips open his book again, staring down at his notes on the spell for the umpteenth time that week.
He calls Zayn again, near tears. “’Lo?”
“Zayn,” he whines. “Help me.”
“Mate, I told you, I don't know how–”
“Here, just like, let me…” Harry trails off, turning his phone on speaker and pulling up his camera. “Let me send you a picture of my notes, you have to know, please.”
The line is quiet for a moment as Zayn presumably reads over the picture Harry's sent, a hum signalling that he's finished. “So what were you trying to do, then?”
“Relieve stress. He's got that huge monologue to perform for his theatre class, and he was freaking out, and I just wanted to help.” Harry clears his throat, embarrassed by how choked up he's becoming. “I emailed his teacher and told her he was really sick, and she agreed to extend the assignment until he gets better. But I can't fix him, Z, I can't, I've fucked up and turned the love of my life into a fucking cat–”
Louis shifts in his lap and Harry tenses, glancing down to see him staring back. Louis tilts his head and meows questioningly. Shit.
“Hey, mate,” Zayn’s voice just cuts through his internal panic, “do you remember how you pronounced everything?”
Harry grits his teeth and looks away from Louis, turning back to his journal. “The right way?”
“Say it again for me, yeah?”
So Harry does, reading through the incantation. Zayn cuts him off at the word felix.
“What the actual fuck, Harry.”
“What?” Harry asks defensively.
“You just said felis, you dumbass, it's felix. You pronounce the X.”
Harry's silent for a moment. Then, meekly, “You do?”
Zayn groans an oh my god in sync with Louis’s agitated mrrrow.
“Okay, I get it, I'm a fuck up and I'll never be good at magic. Tell me how to turn him back.”
“First, you're plenty good at magic, you're just shit at Latin. Second, give me a few hours or something, I'll check my notes again. Fuck’s sake, H.”
“Shut up,” Harry whines before hanging up. Louis’s meows, still on his lap.
“We're not talking about it,” Harry grumbles. He's not pouting, shut up.
Louis meows again, raising himself so his front paws are pressed against Harry's chest and he's leaning in his face.
“Louis, no.” Harry swats at his paws until he sits back down, still staring.
Well, it's as good a time as any, isn 't it. “So I love you, or whatever, so what?” When did the room get so hot? “Like. How could you not tell. You're talented, and sweet, and funny, and good with kids, and, and so pretty, shit– I've been gone for you since we met. You've had to have noticed.”
Louis meows, jumps down from his lap, and pads down the hallway. Harry can practically hear his heart cracking right down the middle. Right, so rejection is just as bad from cats as it is people. Good to know.
He stands up and sulks off toward his own bedroom. He's halfway there when he trips over Louis, who'd apparently been trotting back toward the living room. He squeaks in shock at the impact, recoiling when Harry tries to pet him in apology. He's got something in his mouth, and when he drops it Harry sees it’s the first picture they'd taken together, young and bright-eyed and ready to take on the world together. Harry remembers this picture well, remembers wrapping an arm around Louis’s waist and smiling so wide his cheeks ached with it. He loved this picture.
And apparently so did Louis, who was pushing it around with his paw. Harry picked it up, flipping it around when Louis nosed at the back. Scribbled in green pen, it read:
I'd do anything to save it
Why is it so hard to say it?
Harry blinks, looking from Louis to his scratchy handwriting. “What is this supposed to mean, then?”
Louis huffs, nudging at the picture again. Harry sets it down and scratches behind his ears. They sit in the hallway until Harry's back hurts from crouching and he stands again, placing the picture on Louis’s bed and going to his room to flop on his own. His heart skips a beat when he feels Louis jump up and cuddle next to him.
“I'll turn you back,” Harry tells him, intent renewed. “I promise.”
Harry wakes up to a heavy weight on his back and a hand combing through his hair.
“Wha?” He goes to sit up, but a gentle voice shushes him with a lay back down, love.
That wakes him right the fuck up. “Louis?”
“Yeah.” Harry can hear his grin. “You missed a call from Zayn, by the way. Finally managed to answer it with those fucking paws. Did you know you can perform spells over FaceTime? Useful, that.”
“So, so he did it?” Harry tries to turn over, so Louis lifts a bit and settles himself on Harry's lap once he's on his back. “He's turned you back?”
“Well, sort of.” Louis hoists himself over to the side and, right before Harry's eyes, smoothly transitions into the cat form he'd taken for the past week. He meows and twitches his whiskers before morphing back into human form, grinning and batting his eyes at Harry.
“The fuck,” Harry comments eloquently.
“I can control it now,” Louis tells him. He's practically vibrating with excitement. “I don't know how he did it, but he did, and thinks I'll always be able to do this. Shit, I can't wait to prank Liam.”
Harry laughs at that, short and unbelieving, and scrubs at his face. “No kidding.” He smiles up at Louis, eyes gone soft. “I'm glad you're back, Lou.”
“Me too, because you didn't understand me once last week.” Louis scoffs, climbing back onto Harry's lap and grabbing a hand to play with his fingers. “About that one thing you said.”
“Please do not,” Harry groans, covering his face with his free arm. “Just, like. I don't want anything to change, I want us to be okay.”
“What if I want things to change?” Harry lets out a pained whimper. Louis pulls away his arm and rolls his eyes at him. “Haz, babe. I love you too.”
“Don't take the piss out of me, it's been an emotionally trying week.”
“I was literally a cat, you fucking tit. You gave me catnip. And dry cereal! And somehow I'm still in love with you.”
Harry eyes him warily. “You... You're serious. You mean it.”
“I do,” Louis tells him seriously. “I'll even kiss you to prove it.”
“I dunno…” Harry stretches his arms above his head, yawning nonchalantly. “It's been a week since you've brushed your teeth, after all.”
“Fuck you, witch boy,” Louis groans before leaning down to lick the tip of Harry's nose. “You have to be my boyfriend for that one.”
“If I must,” Harry huffs before Louis silences him with their first kiss.
Louis enjoys his new ability. A bit too much, probably, if Harry's being honest. But he's a fool in love, and that mischievous gleam Louis gets in his eyes is so pretty that Harry doesn't mind the added chaos. It's mostly just Louis pranking Liam, anyway, so he's not too concerned.
He does know that being Louis’s boyfriend doesn't exempt him from payback, though, so. It seems he's keeping an eye out for footsteps and cat hairs alike, from here on out.