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Haven

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Squeak, squeak, squeak.

Harry’s shoes are insufferable.

Every time he takes a step, he cringes at the high pitched noise that escapes beneath him, making everyone in the hall turn and stare. It definitely feels like high school all over again, what with the loud gossiping and unashamed giggles, the shrill bells, the feeling of crippling insecurity and self-doubt. Harry remembers it well.

One of his greatest joys was finally graduating high school and moving on with his life. At the time, he didn’t know what he wanted to be, but teachers get summers off, so he decided to try that.

It’s been a few years now, and he’s grown to love teaching in a way that he hadn’t known he would. He’s been an assistant in a few kindergarten classrooms—which was fun, if a little hectic—and he’s substituted in a middle school or two. Thankfully, he hadn’t been forced to reenter the Axe-filled, hormonally charged Hell that is high school—until now.

His professor wants to give everyone a “well-rounded” teaching ability, regardless of what grades they prefer to teach. Objectively, Harry can understand this, but as he’s walking through the halls of a brand new high school, his shoes squeaking embarrassingly loud, he can’t help but curse his professor’s demand.

It’s just for three days, he thinks. Then he can claim that he’s well-rounded enough, and refuse another entry into Hell. He’s got this.

The squeak of his shoes stops abruptly as he glances down to check his schedule, confirming that he’s at the right room. A16, the English wing. With one deep breath, Harry pastes a half-smile on his face and twists the door handle.

Inside, the room is partly dark, completely silent except for the tapping of a keyboard Once his eyes adjust to the darkness, Harry can see the cheesy inspirational posters hung on the walls, a giant whiteboard with what looks like an entire monologue from Shakespeare scribbled on it, with annotations and all, the tables pushed together into one long line down the middle, like a giant dining table. In the corner of the room is a small desk with a computer from the 90’s at the latest, a hulking dinosaur of a computer, and a massive stack of papers.

“Hello?” Harry asks quietly. He knows the teacher must be in here—a Mr. Tomlinson, he’s heard—but he can hardly see anything but a shadow.

The shadow stands up, a man slightly shorter than himself, and heads over towards the windows. “Hey!” the teacher says. Harry can’t see his face, but he can tell he’s smiling. He pulls open a curtain, the room filling with a soft sunrise glow. Mr. Tomlinson is turned backwards, but his hair is light and feathery, shining like a halo. And—Harry is resolutely not looking at this teacher’s bum. “Sorry, the screen on my state of the art government-provided computer is so dim that the room needs to be pitch black to see it.”

His arms reach above his head to give the second string a firm tug, exposing a small patch of skin on his back, and then he turns around with his hand outstretched.

The already ice-cold nerves flowing through Harry’s veins freeze even further once he seems Mr. Tomlinson’s face . It’s—gorgeous. That’s the only word that Harry’s mind can produce. He’s got cheekbones to die for, sharp blue eyes—a shade unlike the ocean or the sky, more like the blurred softness between them—and a pleasantly scratchy looking beard, not so long, just the right length to leave Harry’s thighs looking—

No, no. No. This is a complete stranger, and a teacher at that. One wrong move and Mr. Tomlinson can give his professor a terrible report. He definitely can’t get lost in his thoughts like this.

Harry extends his own hand, grasping his’ small but firm fingers and shaking them once. Mr. Tomlinson’s face morphs into a toothy smile as he takes his hand away. “Hello, then. I take it you’re not a new student?”

“What?” Harry asks, caught up in the way his eyes are quite literally sparkling in the light. “Oh—No. Not a student.”

“Well, you can call me Louis,” he says. He clasps his hands together, forming a fist in front of his chest. It's such an oddly powerful thing to do, and Harry truly doesn’t understand why it’s got him so flustered. “Are you a sub?”

“Am I— What ?” Harry’s eyes widen, his mouth fallen open in shock. He doesn’t know how Louis could have found out, unless—there was a video, once, of his ex-boyfriend tying him up, but he doesn’t think his own face was in it at all… His tattoos, maybe? How would Louis recognize his tattoos from one video on one site? And It’s not like he goes on social media screaming about how he likes for his boyfriends to dominate him, so—How does Louis know he’s a sub if he doesn’t even know him?

Harry clenches his hands into fists, holding them behind his back as he stumbles a bit. “I don’t, uh—I mean. I’ve never really gotten a chance to be a true sub, you know? My ex-partners were always scared they’d hurt me. But, like—If I trusted someone a lot, and if we used a, a safeword. And talked about, you know, boundaries, then—Yes, yeah, I-I’m a sub.”

Louis blinks, his smile dimming. His eyebrows scrunch up a bit in confusion, until they start glittering again with clear amusement.

That’s when Harry realizes .

“Oh shit, oh my god,” Harry whispers. “You meant—Okay! Wow, I’ve just messed this up majorly. I’m so—Oh my god.”

Louis’ eyes are so wide, his cheeks puffing out in the effort to not burst into laughter. Harry doesn’t think he’s ever been more mortified in his life .

“Well,” Louis says, voice high-pitched, clearly struggling. Suddenly a quiet laugh erupts from him, and then he can’t help it anymore—he doubles over, one hand on his hip and the other over his mouth. “I’m so sorry. It’s—”

A few more endearingly quiet giggles escape, making Harry’s heart drop even further into his stomach. He doesn’t know whether to join in with the laughter or run out of the room crying. For his own sake, he does the former, and starts choking out self-deprecating laughs.

Louis straightens his back after a moment, sighing quickly to get rid of his smile. Harry can see him look down at the Visitor’s ID wrapped around Harry’s neck, and then he’s saying, “I don’t know how you got that question from what I asked, but. Harry, it’s fine, alright? You look like you want to jump off a cliff.”

That is, indeed, just one of the many things Harry is envisioning for himself now. Instead of admitting this, Harry trains his eyes on the floor, kicking a dust bunny up with his foot, as he says, “Let’s just pretend that never happened.” His cheeks are burning, surely as pink as a cherry by now, and he wants nothing more than to drop the subject for all of eternity. And to never be in Louis’ presence again.

Louis taps a finger on his own lips, folded into a “V” shape. “Seriously, love, do you need to sit down?”

“No, I need you to stop talking,” Harry murmurs, nearly gasping at his own rudeness as soon as the words are out of his mouth. His mom would be appalled. (Well, his mom would be appalled at every word that’s come out of his mouth since meeting Louis.) “I’m so sorry. I should probably go, right? I should just go.”

“Then who’s going to watch my class while I’m out?”

“Right, yeah,” Harry nods. He takes Louis’ suggestion and sits down in the nearest chair, feeling a bit lightheaded. “When does class start?”

Louis holds uncomfortable eye contact for what feels like years before Harry has to divert his eyes. “Fifteen minutes,” he answers. “I’ll be leaving at the bell.”

Harry nods, and picks at a string on his sweater. Every second seems to build the shame inside him, making him feel both heavily weighted to the chair, and wanting to bolt as soon as possible. There’s a slight huff in front of him, and then Louis is dragging his own chair up so their knees are pressed together.

“Will it make you feel better if I told you something inappropriately open about myself too?”

Harry looks up, skeptical that anything Louis says could top his own confession. “You could try.”

Louis nods. “Hmm…” he tilts his head in thought. Harry can just see the thoughts spinning in his brain. “I don’t want to scare you away too soon,” he punctuates this with a giggle, and Harry wonders how anything Louis could say would ever be intimidating. “Well, let’s see. You know those, like, sex clubs?”

Harry scrunches his eyebrows in thought. He’s certainly never been to a sex club—he didn’t know they even existed outside of porn videos. “No?”

Louis looks more confident now, sitting up straighter as he says, “It’s a building with a ton of rooms, and one great room, where people go to, basically, have sex. Or just watch. There are private rooms, but those are less fun,” he winks. “My friend owns one. So I go there a lot for free.”

“And—What do you do?” Harry asks hesitantly. He thinks he’s earned the right to curiosity after making a complete fool of himself earlier.

“Usually I don’t even undress,” Louis says, hiding a wry grin behind his hand. “I’m not much into the sex with strangers thing. I’d rather prove that I can make them cry without ever taking my own clothes off.”

“M-Make them cry?” Harry whispers, now sure that this is the most surprised he’s ever been. Louis is so—not small, really, but— dainty . He’s thin, with a little tummy and small hands, hair styled in a fringe that makes him look so young—and he is young, clearly, though the little crinkles around his eyes when he’s smiling lead Harry to believe he’s older than he looks. He’s dressed like he could be one of the high school kids running the halls, in a VANS tee and skinny jeans. Truly, the only thing giving Harry the “dom” vibe is his beard.

Louis bites his lip, as if deciding whether he should keep talking or not. Selfishly, Harry hopes that he does—he’s never met a real, actual dom before. Even if he’s doubting just how dominant Louis can be, it’s still a massive step up from Harry having to beg his ex-boyfriends to even wrap a tie around his wrists.

“Maybe you should come visit one day,” Louis says instead of elaborating. “Class is about to start—wouldn’t want a student to hear about this.”

Harry sighs, his shoulders sinking. Surely he’d meant it as a formality. He doesn’t actually want Harry to show up, does he?

Before he can even begin to feel sorry for himself, Louis stands up and grabs a post-it-note off his desk. He scribbles an address and a phone number down and puts it in Harry’s palm.

“Are these entirely legal?” Harry wonders.

Louis giggles. “Yeah, of course, Harry. You should stop by. Like I said, there’s a bar and everything, not everyone there is naked.”

Harry blushes, reluctantly nodding. “Maybe,” he says, though he knows that as soon as he gets home later, he’ll be changing into new clothes and driving over immediately. “How will I know if you’ll be there?”

Louis taps the phone number on the sticky note. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Then he moves away, flitting across the room as he rearranges some books. When he starts talking about lesson plans, Harry figures the conversation is over, but half his mind is still thinking about Louis making Harry cry.

+

The day is only slightly less disastrous than Harry thought it would be. Of course, as soon as Louis left Harry alone with the class, all the kids started talking over one another—practically screaming—and refusing to stay quiet for anything. But Harry was prepared for that, and as soon as he pulls a giant bag of candy out of his backpack, they shut up quite quickly.

It falls apart a bit later, when he runs out of candy before 3rd hour. It worked out alright, however, because those classes were all AP English, so they were full of, well, nerds. The worst they did was go on and on about how the government is quickly becoming more like Big Brother in 1984 than ever before. That was one book Harry actually enjoyed, so he added to the conversation when he could.

Still, by the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He doesn’t know how Louis can do this every single day, and thanks God that he won’t be put into a high school for his internship later this year. A part of him thinks it’d be fun to see Louis every day, but he wouldn’t last a week in this confined area of thousands ( thousands! ) of teenagers.

He’s so tired, that by the time he gets home, takes a shower, and puts on his PJ’s, he’s forgotten all about the sex club adventures Louis had invited him on. It isn’t until he sees the half-crumpled sticky note hanging out of his pants pocket that he realizes he should at least tell Louis he’s not going today.

When he picks up the phone and types in the number, however, his thumbs grow a brain of their own and end up typing: Might show up in a little bit, if you’ll be there? x

He writes the kiss at the end for everyone without thinking about it, but now he wonders if it’ll be too much. He did just meet Louis, and now they’re discussing good times for Harry to go watch Louis do intense sex things to strangers. It’s not exactly a kiss worthy moment.

Either way, Harry sends the text before he can truly fret about it. He wills himself to stay calm, picking out an outfit, just in case, while he waits for Louis’ response.

There’s a beep, and then: Sure love, I’ll be there in half an hour! Want me to wait for you? x

Harry bites his lip, smiling at the little kiss on Louis’ text too. Sure, thanks! x

His brain is shouting a million different things at him, as if there’s a real angel and devil sitting on his shoulders. On autopilot, he slips into the clothes he’d set out, tying up his shoes and grabbing his wallet. Once he types the address into his phone, he’s ready to go.

+

His first impression upon walking into Haven is that it’s massive. It could fit at least a hundred sex-having people in just the great room.

His second impression is, holy shit there are people having sex in this room.

The room is basically one big square, with wispy curtains draped from the ceiling that act somewhat like room dividers. There is, indeed, a bar, where a few fully clothed people seem to be watching a football game with little regard for the sex happening around them. Somehow, the room smells like air freshener without being cloying, is decorated with class, despite all the bondage equipment and various sex toys, and isn’t so loud that it’s overwhelming. It isn’t at all the sleazy, gross kind of building Harry thought he’d be walking into. He almost wants to find the owner—Louis’ friend—and congratulate him on a job well done.

“Harry!”

Harry turns his head from where he was looking at a particularly frightening container of ball gags, trying to find Louis through the walls of curtains. He accidentally makes eye contact with a woman who is on her knees, getting spanked by a girl in head-to-toe spandex. “Sorry,” he mutters, not sure what the protocol is for watching people get spanked. Thankfully, Louis comes up next to him before he can do something stupid like stare at anyone else.

“Hey,” Louis says, his smile crooked. “Pretty sick, yeah?”

“I-I wouldn’t call it sick ,” Harry whispers. “It’s not very nice to call someone sick just for, um, what they like.”

“Harry. Harry, I meant sick like cool.”

Harry’s cheeks have been burning since he walked in, but he’s sure they’re about to catch fire now. When will he stop embarrassing himself in front of Louis?

“Anyway,” Louis says. “I’ve got someone waiting, if you’re still up for watching? We can wait, if you need some time. Or you can just sit at the bar if you want.”

As Louis starts slowly walking towards where the person must be waiting, and Harry doesn’t think before following him. “It’s fine,” Harry says, as they get closer. They end up in the corner of the room, where there is a small leather couch against the wall, facing a set of two poles, which have ropes attached to them, which are attached to a person . Harry’s heart stutters in his chest.

“Um, hello,” Harry says uneasily. The man’s wrists are roped together, as they hang from a bar between the two poles. He’s kneeling on a padded table, situated between the poles, which takes some of the weight off, otherwise Harry would be quite worried about the state of his wrists. The rope looks scratchy. When Harry talks to him, he doesn’t move his head a single inch, he just keeps it bowed. “How are you?”

“Harry, don’t talk to him,” Louis laughs. “He’s fine. And you can sit on the couch.”

Harry follows instructions, gingerly sitting on the sofa after making sure that it’s clean. Of course, like everything else in this room, it’s spotless. His eyes stay trained resolutely on the man’s face, because he still feels rude looking at anyone’s naked body, even if they are putting it on display themselves.

He watches as Louis starts saying something, like he’s reciting a monologue. Harry catches “safe word” and “stop anytime” but the rest of it is new to him.

“Color, Liam?” Louis asks him.

“Green,” the man answers, still looking at the table rather than at Louis. It seems like he’s done this with him before.

“Color, Harry?”

Harry’s eyes widen. He’d assumed that Louis would, for the most part, ignore him. He’s just a spectator, after all. He’s not sure he even understands what Louis is asking for—perhaps he should’ve listened better.

“Uh,” he mumbles, eyes flitting between Liam and Louis. “Green?”

Louis holds eye contact with him for a second. “Green means you’re good to keep going. Yellow means slow down. Red means stop. Or, you can say the safeword, ‘Haven’.”

“Oh. Okay, then, green,” Harry repeats. He doesn’t understand why Louis is asking him in the first place, though—he’s not the one who’s about to be made to cry. Liam’s head moves just slightly, enough for Harry to finally see his dark brown eyes, and then Louis is reprimanding him.

“You know better, Liam,” he says. Before either of them can brace themselves, he’s bringing his hand back and slapping Liam’s cheek so hard that it leaves a little hand print. Liam whimpers as Louis strokes over the mark gently. In a teasing tone, Louis says, “You sound like a puppy.”

Even from this distance, Harry can see Liam’s breath hitch. He’s never seen anyone get off on pretending to be a puppy before, but he thinks he might be about to.

“Puppies should be on all fours,” Louis says casually, but with demand lining his words. Liam almost gets caught in the rope with how fast he moves, realizing too late that it was a trick—there’s no way he can get on all fours when his hands are tied together above his head. He whines and tucks his chin against his chest. After letting out a snicker, Louis reaches up and starts untying the ropes, letting his hands fall so that Liam can scramble into position. Harry hadn’t noticed it before, but—he has a tail. There is something in his bum that makes it look like he has a tail .

Harry had thought he knew a lot about sex, but clearly he’s been missing a whole other world of it. There must be so much that he doesn’t know, that he never would’ve known if he hadn’t shown up here today. It sends a thrill of excitement through him, but at the same time, feels a daunting need to catch up with everything. It’s like he’s been standing in the shadows all this time, and the sun is only just starting to come out.

Harry is brought back to Earth by the sound of Liam whining again. He missed what Louis did to make him cry out, but now that he’s paying attention, he can see how Louis is pinching him on his sides, hard enough to bruise. The whole expanse of his back is covered in the little marks, and his muscles tense up every few seconds in preparation for another one. There’s no rhythm to it, and Harry supposes that that’s the point—Louis doesn’t want him to know when a new one is coming, so it hurts more.

Louis ultimately decides that Liam has been good enough, and says, “I’m going to go find you a collar, pup. Don’t move a single inch—Harry will tell me if you do.”

Before Louis wanders away, he squeezes Harry’s shoulder and shoots him a wink.

While, they both wait, Liam is stock still, and Harry can’t help but fidget. It’s an uncomfortable silence, punctuated only by the pained moans of other people in the room. After a full minute without Louis around, Harry says, “So, uh, how often do you do this kind of thing?”

Liam doesn’t move his body, but he squints his eyes a little like he’s not sure if he’s allowed to respond. When he finally does, his voice is smooth and rich like chocolate. “Every, uh, few weeks.”

Harry nods, tapping his fingers. “With Louis?”

“Sometimes.”

“Does Louis do it with other people?”

Liam looks like he’s struggling to hold back a laugh. “Yeah, kid. A few.”

Harry nods again. “What’s your favorite, uh. Thing? Here?”

Liam’s eyes dart around the room again, searching for Louis. “Maybe, um, maybe the collar.”

“Oh, right,” Harry says. He feels like a bobblehead with how much he’s nodding. He can’t help the weird noises he’s making, a cross between a hum and a clicking of his tongue. He really wishes Louis would come back. “Has he ever made you cry?”

Liam loses it, hanging his head and stifling a laugh with a cough. His eyes are squeezed shut like it’s taking all he has not to burst out laughing.

“Sorry. I don’t mean to get you in trouble.”

“It’s fine,” Liam says, his voice light. “Is this your first time?”

Harry makes an affirmative noise. “Yeah. Louis invited me. How did you find this place?”

“I had just moved here, and was looking for a club. My phone told me this was one,” Liam giggles. “Quite the club, eh?”

He can imagine it, innocent-looking Liam walking into what he thought was a club, being met with the sounds of violent whipping and the sights of naked people dangling from ropes. Quite the club, indeed.

They hear Louis walking back, then, and Liam immediately straightens out his relaxed body, but it’s too late. Louis’ already seen him laughing.

“Liam, I told you not to move,” Louis says sternly. He shifts his gaze to Harry, who is looking almost as guilty as he feels. “Did he move?”

Harry is torn. He stares at Liam apologetically, tapping his leg on the ground in rapid succession. “It was my fault,” he says.

“So, yes? He moved?”

“Well, yes, but—”

“Liam, head down.” Louis commands. Within seconds, Liam’s forehead is touching the table, and his hips are pressed higher into the air. He’s still got the tail in, Harry notices, so at least everything isn’t on display. Perhaps Liam wouldn’t have minded either way.

Louis walks to the head of the table, clipping the plain red collar around his neck and making sure it’s tight enough. He attaches a thin leash to the D-ring, and wraps it around his own wrist so all he has to do is pull his hand to cut off Liam’s airway. “If you want to stop, but can’t talk, raise your hand,” Louis says. “Do it now.”

Liam raises his hand, waiting for Louis to nod before he puts it back down.

“Good,” Louis says, petting him down his back. He reaches forward and runs his fingers through his hair, softening him up so much that no part of him is ready when Louis leans back and smacks the top of his bum. Harry gasps almost as loudly as Liam, his wide eyes taking stock of the way a red handprint appears on the soft skin. Liam doesn’t move, but his arms start shaking a bit, where he’s holding himself up. “Pups follow directions the first time. If they don’t, they get punished.”

Liam clenches his fingers as Louis strikes him again. Harry can imagine that it hurts twice as bad, considering he’s still got the plug inside him.

“What do you say, Liam?”

As he gets spanked again, harder, he grits out, “Sorry, thank you.”

Louis secures his grip on the leash, tugging it just hard enough to have Liam breathing heavier. Once he’s tested the waters, he pulls tighter, choking him while counting down from ten, so quietly that Harry almost can’t hear it. As soon as he hits zero, he lets go, causing Liam to pant heavily. “Thank you,” he mutters again, his once velvety voice now broken and rough.

Harry can’t imagine having so much trust in a stranger to control something as essential as breathing . Then again, Liam clearly has experience with this stuff, and so does Louis, so he can see why he would do so. Harry wonders if he’ll ever be at a point where he would let someone choke him. He’s not sure that he’d like that, anyway.

Louis’ eyes scan Liam’s body, coming to rest on his bum. The tail inside him is still as fluffy as ever, and every time Liam moves, so does it. Harry hadn’t wanted to look, before, but now he can see that underneath the tail, Liam is half-hard and probably has been this whole time. He wasn’t sure if Louis would acknowledge it, but seeing Louis stare at it makes him think that that’s where he’s headed.

Louis gives Liam a moment more to catch his breath, and then he’s laughs out, “Look down, puppy.”

A whimper escapes Liam’s mouth at the sight of his own cock. Harry swears that it twitches, which sends a blush over his cheeks. (But, he thinks he’s been blushing since the moment he walked in.)

“What’s your color, Liam?”

“Green, green,” Liam says instantly, nodding his head. Harry can definitely see the resemblance between him and a real puppy. It’s the eyes, he thinks.

“Harry? Color?”

“Green,” Harry says, still confused on why Louis thinks to ask him. If he wanted to stop, all he’d have to do is walk over to the bar and away from Louis and Liam. Maybe Louis is just trying to make him feel included, he thinks.

As soon as the word is out of Harry’s mouth, Louis is grinning devilishly and reaching a hand under Liam’s belly, grasping his cock with firm fingers. He doesn’t even move it, just squeezes , and Harry’s heart stutters in sympathy for Liam. Somehow, as soon as Louis loosens his hold, Liam seems to get harder, and— how is he getting off on this?

Harry is in way over his head. He’d watched plenty of porn, and had thought that being a submissive meant a little bit of pain, not—not this. He fully respects all the people in this room, and he’d never look down on someone for what they enjoy (so long as it’s legally and morally sound), but he’s starting to think that this isn’t the life for him. Not at all, really.

Liam is breathing so hard that he sounds like he’s panting, now, and Harry can’t help his curiosity. Even if he doesn’t necessarily want to be a sub anymore, he’s still going to stick it out for the night. He looks down at what Louis’ doing, and sees that he’s thumbing the tip, giggling whenever Liam shies away from his touch. “What, you don’t like it?” Louis teases. “Want me to stop touching?”

Liam shakes his head, pressing his forehead down on the table without being asked.

Louis keeps one hand stroking his cock, using the other to start pinching up his back, adding to the plentiful red marks still present from before. He makes his way back down, shifting so he’s grabbing the softer skin on his hips and belly, traveling up to his nipples. Liam lets out a sigh when he rubs over them one at a time, making sure they’re properly red before moving lower again.

Harry sees Louis glance at a large clock hanging on the wall, and it makes him have to hold in a laugh—just imagining that once Louis gets done wrecking this practical stranger, he has to be somewhere else, doing something completely normal, like going out to eat with family or grading papers. It’s a bit calming, actually, to remember that every single person in this room has a normal life. That when they leave this building, you’d never be able to tell that they were getting whipped by a woman in a catsuit, or wrapped in suffocating plastic bags, or fucked by a man in a fully leather costume, or, like Liam, getting off on pretending to be a puppy. Harry is already starting to feel more comfortable.

“C’mon, pup, want t’ take a little walk?” Louis asks Liam, pulling gently on his leash.

When Liam nods, Louis drags a step-stool over to the edge of the table, so Liam can climb down with his wobbly legs. As soon as he’s on solid ground, he’s back on his hands and knees, waiting to be pulled in the right direction. Harry stands up too, stretching out his stiff muscles. He can’t imagine how much longer Liam will want to go for—his legs must be killing him—but he has to admit that he’s having more fun than he thought he’d be.

Louis waits for Harry to walk next to him, stepping slowly so that Liam can catch up. They walk past a few curtains, Louis nodding at some of his, assumedly, friends. “So what do ya’ think?” Louis laughs. “Is it what you expected?”

“Erm,” Harry bites his lip. He looks down, seeing that Liam is perfectly content with crawling along in silence. “Uh, no, not really. Not bad, but—unexpected, yeah.”

“Tell me to fuck off whenever you want,” Louis starts. “But why did you think you’d want to, you know, be a sub?”

Harry feels so naive and ridiculous that he almost doesn’t want to answer. “Like… Porn?”

Louis shrugs, “Porn’s a good enough reason in my book. As long as you don’t get all your info from it, ‘cause you can really get hurt if you copy what they do in porn.”

“Yeah, yeah, I can—” Harry looks around the room, at all the dangerous acts happening as they speak. “I can see that.”

The three of them end up at the bar, which is where Liam stops walking, probably not wanting to get his body all sticky with beer. Louis makes a big show of tying his leash to the edge of an empty bar stool, leaning down and saying, “Stay there, Liam, I’ll be back in one second.”

He and Harry go to stand on the side with the bartender, who is, apparently, one of Louis’ friends. “Oi, Niall!” He cries.

“Louis, mate, how are ya’?”

The Niall in question is a skinny blonde boy with red cheeks and an Irish accent. He doesn’t look like a sub nor a dom, which makes him wonder why he’d choose to be a bartender in such a unique place. Then again, Liam looks nothing like a sub at first glance.

“Good, good. This is Harry, he’s new,” Louis introduces. Harry puts on a little smile. “Can you get us a few waters?” He looks at Harry and says, “Unless you want something else?”

“No thanks,” Harry says.

Niall pours three glasses from a pitcher of ice water. “Finishing up?”

Louis looks over and where Liam is cracking his knuckles and rolling his stiff neck in the corner. “Yeah, almost. I’ve got to leave in a bit, Eleanor’s been bothering me to get a suit for the wedding; I finally made an appointment for tonight.”

Harry’s eyes widen on their own accord, trying not to let his shock show on his face. Louis’ getting married? And he’s still coming to sex clubs, touching men? Sure, he doesn’t take his own clothes off, but it’s still cheating, isn’t it? And—

“I’m not married, Harry,” Louis bursts out laughing, a hand coming up to stop it. “I’m in her groom’s party. At her wedding.”

For what feels like the billionth time that night, Harry’s cheeks are left flaming red because of a misunderstanding on Harry’s part. Then again, how was he supposed to know that? He had no background information—anyone would assume the same. With an indignant huff, Harry takes a sip of water in hopes of calming his hot temperature.

“I’m gonna bring this to Liam,” Louis says, holding the water in the air. “You can come with, if you still want to.”

Harry hops off the barstool, following behind. It’s not like he’s going to sit here and talk to Niall—as nice as he seems—and he doesn’t exactly want to leave early. So he walks back over to Liam, watching him squat and hold the glass to Liam’s lips. Some of it drips down his chin, and Louis laughs, “Messy puppy. We’ll go back to the table and take care of you, okay? Maybe even get a little belly rub.”

Liam’s tongue flops out happily, nodding as his leash gets tugged. When they make it back to the table, Louis immediately puts his hand back on Liam’s cock and resumes massaging it. Just judging by the way Liam’s whole body seems to be shaking, Harry can tell that he won’t last much longer. Louis knows, too, and asks, “Do you want your tail in or out, love?”

“In, in,” Liam chokes out, his face scrunched up.

Louis scratches down his back lightly, just enough to leave red lines, and ends at his bum, dragging over the still-visible hand prints on each cheek. He gives him one light smack, just to hear Liam cry out, and then quickens the pace of his hand while nudging the plug upwards. He holds the leash between tight fingers, pulling on it just hard enough to make him pant without choking him.

Liam hides his face in his arms as he moans. Louis whispers, “Go ahead, babe, you can come now.”

It takes a few more strokes, but finally Liam’s hips stutter under the weight of himself, filling Louis’ hand with come. Louis keeps squeezing until Liam is completely soft again, finally taking his hand off with a pleased hum. He walks to the head of the table slowly, using his clean hand to sweetly drag his knuckles across his cheek. “You did so good,” Louis mutters, leaning down to kiss his forehead. Even while he’s getting out a towel and wiping his hand down, he keeps saying things like, “Good boy,” and “So happy with you.”

This—rather than anything else Harry has seen tonight—has Harry starting to get embarrassingly hard in his pants. He can definitely see the appeal of getting hurt so badly if Louis is the one to treat him well after it’s over.

When Louis’ hands are sufficiently dried off, along with the table, he grabs Liam’s hands and helps him get down, taking him over to the couch where Harry is seated. He hadn’t noticed it before, but there’s a duffel bag on the floor holding all of Liam’s stuff. Louis reaches in and takes out, first, a giant ziplock bag, which is where he throws Liam’s tail plug once he takes it out of him. Then he gets out a pair of clean sweatpants, helping Liam step into them, though Liam looks like he’s about to fall asleep on his feet. “I know, love, just a moment,” Louis says. He slips some socks onto Liam’s feet, unclips his collar, and then finally lets him sit down. Still shirtless, so Harry assumes he’s about to get the belly rub he was promised. Before that, though, Louis coaxes Liam into eating half of a granola bar, finally setting it back down when Liam whines, “‘M not hungry, Louis.”

Louis rolls his eyes, settling in between Liam and Harry on the sofa. He gently pulls Liam’s head into his lap, stretching his arm out so he can reach his tummy. He smooths over his muscles, petting the hard lines of his abs, and says, “You’re my best puppy, did everything I wanted, didn’t you?”

Liam nods and nuzzles his head in Louis’ hip. He sighs contentedly, closing his eyes and starting to doze off.

In a whisper, careful not to disturb Liam, Louis asks, “So what’d you think of the big finale?”

Harry laughs at the goofy smile on Louis’ face. “Well, I was promised tears, and there weren’t any.”

“Liam’s not a crier,” Louis says, rubbing over Liam’s chest and back down to his tummy soothingly. “Only time he’s ever done is the first time I got him. I was, eh, a new dom. Not very good. I didn’t know how to read people’s emotions and their limits, so I took it too far. Liam was only just learning how to submit, and was afraid of making me mad by saying the safe word. Harry, listen to me—if you ever do decide that this kind of thing is for you, whether I’m your dom or someone else, don’t ever hold back your safe word.”

“Noted,” Harry nods. In a somewhat joking way, he asks, “Anything else?”

Louis seems to be considering the question seriously. He tilts his head to look at Liam, thumbing over his cheek. “Find someone you trust. I saw how you looked at me when I told you I’m a dom—I know I don’t look like one, but I’d like to think I’m a good one. Don’t pick the biggest, scariest looking dom available. Pick the one you think will make you feel the best.”

Harry ducks his head at the mention of his judgement of Louis. He had hoped that Louis hadn’t noticed his disbelief. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Louis says immediately. “You know how much shit I’ve gotten from other doms? You get used to it.”

Harry hums out a laugh. They fall into peaceful silence—or, well, silence punctuated by other strangers’ moans—until Harry says, “Um, thank you for inviting me. For, everything, really.”

“It’s no problem. You think you’ll want to come back?”

“Truthfully?” Harry bites his bottom lip, sighing a bit. “I didn’t think that—I mean. This is all a bit intense. I don’t know if I’d want to be, like, in Liam’s place or something. Would it be weird to come here just to watch? By myself?”

“No, not weird. If these people didn’t want to be watched, they’d either stay home or go in one of the private rooms. Everyone likes it. As long as you’re not, you know, being creepy. But you? I have a hard time believing you’re ever creepy. You’re too pretty for that.”

Harry rolls his eyes, but his heart jumps anyway. Louis laughs and ends up jostling Liam’s head a bit. He breathes out a long huff and turns his head in closer to Louis’ thigh. And, well—Harry didn’t mean to look , but now he is looking, right at the bulge in Louis’ pants, clearly at least half hard. Before he can even think to filter himself, he blurts, “Do you ever get annoyed when you don’t, erm, finish?”

Louis snorts, tilting his head to look between his own legs redundantly, and then swiping his fringe back delicately when he resumes eye-contact. “Why, Harold, whatever do you mean?”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Harry complains, pouting.

“I do,” Louis laughs. “And, uh, it just doesn’t matter to me. I’m not here for sex, necessarily. I mean, I am in a sense, but it’s not a priority for me to get off. I’ll just take care of it later.”

Harry thinks about this for a moment, trying to imagine why anyone would come here for anything but sex. Isn’t that the whole point of this? Finally, he asks, “Then, like, what’s the point?”

“Control.” He answers easily. “You’ve got someone waiting for you that, for just this one hour time period, will do anything for you. Their entire focus is on you, only you. You don’t need to get your dick out for that. And some subs keep their clothes on too, if you were wondering. A good dom doesn’t need you to be naked to do their job.”

Harry definitely hadn’t known that . It doesn’t seem misplaced for a dom to be wearing clothes during a scene, but a sub? Harry just can’t imagine it.

He’s clearly got a lot of research to do.

Louis starts to taper off his pets on Liam, gently starting to shake him awake. “Sorry, love,” he says when Liam’s eyes flutter open. “I’ve gotta get going. Did you drive yourself here? Are you well enough?”

Liam yawns, blinking rapidly while he tries to stay up. “Uh. Yeah. I’m good.”

“‘Cause I think I have time to take you home, if you need me to.”

“No, no,” Liam says. “It’s fine. Don’t want you to be late.”

He sits up and stretches, rolling his neck a few times and producing some impressively loud pops when he cracks his back. “Thanks, Lou. You know you’re my favorite.”

Louis smiles and kisses him on the forehead before standing up and starting to gather his things. Minutes later, he turns to Harry and asks, “Are you okay to drive home?”

“What?” Harry laughs. “Yeah, of course I am.”

“Just checking,” Louis says. “You looked a little, uh. Pale, during some parts.”

Harry kicks at the floor, shrugging. “I’m good. It was good. I promise.”

Louis laughs a little, grabbing one of his curls and tugging on it lightly. It’s not supposed to hurt, or anything, but considering the environment, it puts a blush on Harry’s cheeks.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Harry,” he smiles while walking towards the door. “Have a good night.”

+

Harry wakes up feeling groggy and regretful. He’d stayed up late last night, researching everything that he possibly could about BDSM and being a submissive. It was hard to find ones not directed towards women, but once he did find one for men, he’d read the whole website from top to bottom. Which would be fine, except it forced him to stay awake hours after when he would normally be sound asleep.

Still, he gets up dutifully when his alarm goes off,  mostly getting ready with his eyes closed as he tries to hold onto precious moments of calm. He makes sure he’s got his bag of candy—fully stocked, this time—and hurries out the door.

In the hallway at school, a few students wave at him, making him think he didn’t do a half-bad job yesterday. He can only hope that he’ll keep up his streak for the next two days.

When he makes it to the classroom door, he pauses to look through the window, because he can hear voices inside. He wouldn’t want to walk in on Louis talking to the principal, or something. He hears Louis’ voice, and another one that has to be a student—his voice is deep, but squeaky in some places.

“I need this class to graduate, sir,” the boy pleads. “You can’t fail me.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t have cheated, then,” Louis says. Harry can tell he’s struggling to hold in a laugh. “I’ve got work to do, Stan. If you don’t have anything important to say, I’d rather you left now.”

An enraged groan sounds the room as the student whips open the door, disregarding Harry as he storms away.

“Um,” Harry whispers, poking his head through. “Is it, uh, safe?”

Louis’ previously stressed face morphs into a grin. “Harry!” he cries. “I sort of thought you’d have stayed home today, or transferred.”

“No can do,” Harry shakes his head. “My professor assigned me this class, so here I am.”

“So you’re only here for your professor?” Louis teases, standing up from his desk and cocking his hip against it as he thumbs over a copy of The Taming of the Shrew .

“Among other reasons,” Harry giggles, stepping closer. “This is all your fault, by the way. I was up all night studying. Not studying for any classes , mind you—studying weird sex and different ways to make people cry.”

Louis raises his eyebrows. “ You want to make people cry?”

Harry narrows his eyes and frowns. “What if I did?”

Putting his hands up in a surrender position, Louis shakes his head. “Your choice, man.”

Finally relenting, Harry slips back into an easy grin. “I’ll leave that to you, I think,” he directs his eyes down to Louis’ book, asking, “What’s that for?”

He doesn’t expect the heavy sigh that leaves Louis’ mouth upon being reminded of Shakespeare’s play. “Unfortunately, this is our next school-mandated teaching material. I, personally, think this play shouldn’t be taught to impressionable young women, but I have no say in the matter.”

Harry can’t help but laugh at how dramatic Louis is. “What’s so, uh, bad about it?”

“Do you want me to rant about sexist themes in The Taming of the Shrew or do you want to talk about something more interesting for the five minutes you have me today?”

Harry has to scrunch his nose up to keep from smiling ridiculously. “Right. What’s the deal with that Stan kid?”

“Well, I have to say, he was quite clever,” Louis smirks. “The assignment was for every student to memorize twenty five lines of any Shakespeare play, and act them out for the class. If they brought a prop, they got extra credit. Stan, here, made his own sword out of cardboard, and he was looking at it pretty intensely as he said his lines. After class I asked him if I could keep the sword to hang above my desk, and, sure enough, his entire monologue was written on the blade. Creative, don’t ya’ think?”

Harry laughs incredulously, trying to imagine how that stunt would’ve ever worked. “ A plus for effort?”

Louis rolls his eyes. “He’s lucky I didn’t turn him into the school board. Could’ve gotten him suspended.”

Students start filling in after that, forcing them to cut their conversation short. Harry sets down all his stuff, reading over the lesson plans for the day. All they’re doing is watching one version of The Taming of the Shrew on DVD, so he may not need the candy at all. As soon as all the teens are accounted for, Louis says goodbye and heads off to his meeting.

“Call me tonight, yeah?” Louis asks quietly, just for Harry.

Harry smiles and nods as he shuts the door behind him. When he turns around, the entire class is silent, some even sitting with their hands folded on top of the desk. Suspicious, Harry asks, “What’s just happened?”

One fake flower crown-wearing girl in the front row cries, “Mr. Tomlinson likes Mr. Styles!”

The room erupts into chaos as everyone starts laughing and screaming, singing childish “sittin’ in a tree” songs and relentlessly teasing Harry about it. He doesn’t have the heart to tell them to stop, or else they’ll think of him as a stuck-up, no-fun substitute teacher. Instead, he simply rolls his eyes and waits for them to quiet down.

They do, eventually . When the room is quiet once more, Harry says, “Take that up with Lo—Mr. Tomlinson, not me.”

He has a feeling he’s just gone and made it worse. He can only pray that he won’t get thrown out for being unprofessional. Louis doesn’t seem like the type to do that, but what if a student reports him?

He scans the faces in the crowd, looking for anyone who might seem uncomfortable, and finds none. That’s a good sign, at least. He relaxes and allows himself to laugh a little, finally reining in the class while he gets the DVD set up.

The day goes by quicker than yesterday, that’s certain, but Harry still hasn’t been sold on the benefits of teaching high school.

That evening, he does what Louis told him to, and calls him. It rings only once before Louis answers with a chirpy, “Hello!”

“Hey,” Harry bites his lip against a smile. “Um, fair warning, your students think we’re dating.”

There’s a tiny giggle on the other line as Louis says, “They think I’m dating everyone. Once, when I first started teaching, my stepdad came into help me get situated and all the kids started singing Mr. Tomlinson and Mark sitting in a tree . They sang that today, right?”

“Yeah,” Harry laughs. “A classic, that one.”

“Indeed,” Louis shuffles something around, and Harry can hear his feet pit-pattering on the floor. What sounds like a fridge opens, and then, “So, um, I’ve got a ton of this really expensive coffee that my friend brought back from his vacation, but I’m not a coffee drinker. And you seem like you’d appreciate that kind of pretentious thing. Uh. So, do you want to come over, maybe?”

Harry stops breathing for a moment, his heart rabbiting on while his lungs deflate. “Oh,” he says, a smile spreading across his face before he can stop it. Not that anyone is watching, of course, but for posterity’s sake. “Yeah, yeah, sure.” He’s not the coffee connoisseur Louis thinks he is, but he’s always up for a cup.

“Great,” Louis says. He’s got the kind of voice that always gives away whether he’s smiling or not, and Harry is happy to hear that he is. “I’ll text you my address. Just show up whenever, I’ll be here.”

He has full intentions of waiting a bit, lest he look desperate, but as soon as the phone has been hung up, Harry is throwing on a clean t-shirt and something a bit sexier than work khakis, and heading out the door. He punches the address into his GPS with a wild sense of desperation—he hasn’t had a crush this strong since grade school. And if he’s reading the signals right, then Louis likes him back. Of course, there’s the whole Louis is a dom who makes people cry and Harry is a (maybe?) sub who is inexperienced and a little bit scared thing, but they’ll iron that out later. For now, coffee. Harry can do coffee.

He can already smell the rich tones of it seeping underneath Louis’ apartment door. He doesn’t need to check the room number, not when it smells as if Louis has just opened a coffee shop in his own kitchen. It doesn’t take an espresso extraordinaire to tell that it’s strong stuff, and that Louis definitely wasn’t lying when he said it’s expensive and pretentious.

Harry breathes in once, twice, and then knocks on the door. It opens less than thirty seconds later, so fast that Harry can hear the knob colliding with the other side of the wall. “Shit,” Louis mutters, closing the door a bit so he can inspect the damage. “Ah, sorry. Need to get one of those springy things. You know? Anyway. I’m so glad you’re here.”

“I’m glad you invited me,” Harry says politely. The words might sound like just a formality, but his tone is anything but. “How was your day?”

“Awful,” Louis groans. “I had to drive for two hours just to get to the damn building, then the meeting lasted for five hours. Five hours, Harry. The meeting was all about elementary teachers anyway, none of it was even relevant. But state regulations, you know. Gotta get my training in. How was yours? Aside from the K-I-S-S-I-N-G’ing, I mean.”

Harry blushes under Louis’ smirk. “Good. It was good. They all liked the movie you told me to play, I think.”

“I’m suspicious,” Louis laughs. “They’re never this good for a substitute. What’ve you done to my children?”

Harry does one of his embarassing, full-body cackles, the kind that immediately ruin a situation because the comment is not nearly funny enough to warrant a laugh that loud. He’s done them since he was a kid, and if there was one thing he could change about himself, it would be that damn laugh.

Louis looks startled for a second, but then he’s set off in a fit of laughter as well, his eyes glittering. “That’s—That’s mad cute, you know.”

“‘S embarrassing, is what it is,” Harry blushes under the compliment. “But thanks.”

“No, no, I like it,” Louis nods, like he has the final word in the argument. “It’s cute. You’re cute. Uh, I probably shouldn’t say that, yeah? Too soon?”

“I saw you lead a naked man around on a leash and collar yesterday, I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘too soon’ for us.”

Louis snickers, pointing his finger up in a you got me there fashion. “Good, then. I think the coffee’s done.”

The machine beeps as soon as the words are out. As Louis reaches up to grab two mugs, a sliver of his stomach pops out of his shirt, and Harry is reminded of his first meeting with Louis. He can hardly believe that it was only two days ago. There’s something about him that makes it feel as if he’s known him for ages—and maybe it’s just because Harry watched him do something so intimate with someone else, but it’s something else too. Something more.

“You okay?” Louis asks with a smirk. “Got something on my shirt?”

Harry rolls his eyes and refuses to let himself be embarrassed. Not when Louis has been so forward all night.

“So how’s college life?” Louis asks, only his eyes visible over the rim of his mug.

Harry is a bit taken aback, considering how young Louis must be; he couldn’t have left college too long ago. Is he making conversation or pulling his leg? “Um, it's good. Well, not good necessarily, but it’s fun sometimes. And classes aren’t so bad. Did you go to college here?”

“Nope,” Louis says. “I went to uni in Doncaster. You haven’t heard the accent? Jesus, I’ve only lived in the states for a few years and I’m already losing it.”

Now that Louis mentions it, he does indeed have an accent. Harry has no idea, frankly, where Doncaster is, but he’s assuming it's in the UK. Or… Britain? Is that what they call it? He doesn’t want to expose himself as being completely clueless, so he says, “I just figured it was a personality quirk or something.”

Louis smirks. “Personality quirk. I’ll use that when I go back home. God, I don’t even want to imagine how badly my parents will make fun of my accent now.”

It’s truly astonishing that Harry hadn’t noticed his voice before. Sure, the accent is watered down and he’s been using a fair bit of American slang since he’s met him, but it's there nonetheless.

“Why’d you move, then? If your parents are still there?”

“The kids in Doncaster are little shits. Unteachable.” Louis takes another sip of coffee, cringing at its taste. “Nah, it’s more because I had never really travelled before. Like, my friends and I would take trips to London every once in awhile, but that was the farthest I’d gone from home. To be honest, I picked up a road map of the US, closed my eyes, and decided to move to the first place my finger landed on.”

“It conveniently landed right on L.A., did it?” Harry snickers.

“Well, so,” Louis scrunches his nose up in a pout. “It landed on middle-of-nowhere Idaho . You can’t blame me for choosing again. Why, do you have a better suggestion for where I should move next?”

“You’re moving again?” Harry can’t help the slight disappointment. He would quite like to get to know Louis.

“No, wasn’t planning on it. I like these students way too much for that. And, you know. Where else would I find a good friend who owns and runs a BDSM sex club? Not an everyday occurrence, that.”

“So who’s the mysterious friend?” Harry asks. “You didn’t point him out to me.”

Before he answers, Louis takes his own mug of coffee and gestures towards Harry’s cup. He’s got no clue what he means by it, so he simply nods in confusion. Louis takes his own mug and pours the coffee out into Harry’s. “Nasty, nasty. I’m making some Yorkshire, want any?” he asks, standing up again. Harry shakes his head politely. “Oh, but the friend? That’s Zayn. He’s wicked. He’s an ex-pornstar—completely by choice, by the way, not because he needed cash—and he opened the club a few months before I met him. We met at a bar and he said he could ‘smell the dom’ on me and handed me his business card. Got curious, showed up. At that time, it was relatively empty, so he was my sub. And that’s it, mystery solved.”

“Is he still your sub?” Harry asks.

He’s still not sure how it all works. Liam mentioned that Louis is his dom sometimes, and that he doms other people, but he doesn’t know if there’s a limit of sorts.

“No, not anymore,” Louis laughs. “He’s amazing, though. He’s verse, he flips between dom and sub, and he’s equally good at both. If he’s ever free one night, he’d be a good first choice for you. Just a suggestion.”

“Oh,” Harry’s eyes widen. He had been of the impression that if he did it at all, it’d be with Louis. “I—I don’t, uh.”

“Sorry, sorry, ignore me. You don’t have to do anything. And if you did want to try something, you can always still come to me.”

Harry hides his grin behind his coffee cup. Nice.

+

The last day of Harry substituting for Louis’ class goes off without a hitch. The students all seem to genuinely like him by now, greeting him by name in the hallways. It makes him feel important. And even though nothing he taught in class was particularly intensive—though they did have one class discussion about a book Harry has never read, which was stressful—he feels like he did a good job. Compared to his attitude on the first day, he wouldn’t be completely opposed to being placed in a high school for his upcoming teaching assistant position. The high school slots are extremely easy to get into, due to their almost non-existent demand. Everyone thinks they want to teach kindergarteners until they actually walk into the classroom. Self-deprecatingly, Harry realizes that now he would fall into that category.

Harry only substitutes for the first half of the day, before Louis is officially freed from his meetings and is able to take over. He offers for Harry to stay awhile—to observe the learning —and even though his brain is saying “ No, go home! Catch up on sleep! ” his mouth forms the words “Yeah, alright.”

So there he is, sitting in a surprisingly comfortable desk chair—fitted with wheels and everything—in the front corner of the classroom while he watches Louis in his natural element.

He can tell he was made to be a teacher. The way he flits around the room, can read a student’s confusion from just one glance at their eyes, how well he knows the material—he was born for this job. The students know it too, since they show him the utmost respect. Louis gets them to stop talking all at once with just one tap on a little metal bell. When he begins, Harry doesn’t even listen to what the book Louis is discussing is about, but rather the enthusiasm he speaks with. He commands attention and respect without being harsh and unlikeable. Harry is in awe.

There are only a few times where the students become unbearable, namely when Louis slips up and calls Harry “love”, causing an uproar of jeering. “I’m British ,” Louis insists, though his cheeks are suspiciously red. “I call everyone love.”

It doesn’t make a difference for Harry, still sends him into a fit of smiles either way.

+

It’s a few days before Louis and Harry get a chance to see each other again. Harry has been so busy with school, as it's nearing the end of the semester, bringing with it exams and the looming assistant teacher’s position. He still hasn’t decided which age group he should choose, but as time goes on, he knows he’ll ultimately choose Louis. He can’t imagine anything else, anymore.

Just when Harry starts to miss Louis, he gets a text that reads: Want to come over tonight? I’ve got movies and pizza? x

Harry grins and types back: Be right there, as soon as the brownies are done!! x

Harry styles, you are a god send xxxxxxx

+

“Jesus, these are delicious,” Louis moans after taking his first bite. Harry won’t tell him this, but the brownies are actually low in calories and sugar. He has a feeling Louis would stubbornly refuse to eat it if he knew the truth.

“I used to be a baker,” Harry says proudly.

As Louis takes another bite, squeezing out a downright pornographic groan, he asks, “When?”

“In high school,” he says. “I spent more time eating the food than baking, but. I learned a few things, if I do say so myself.”

Louis nods in agreement, picking up the pan of brownies and motioning for Harry to follow him to the couch.

Harry takes a second to look around the new room, finding it just the way he expected—all dark wood and sophisticated leather furniture with cheap knickknacks and odd trophies thrown on any empty surfaces. The windows are big and bright, making it all feel sufficiently homey.

The brownies get set on the coffee table while Louis opens a cupboard and pulls out an extra large blanket. “If you get cold, tell me, yeah? I don’t usually turn the heat on unless I have company.”

“It’s fine,” Harry says. He hadn’t even noticed that the temperature was only slightly warmer than the air outside. “‘S what blankets are for.”

Louis winks and goes to sit down next to him, pressing their thighs together softly. Embarrassingly, Harry feels himself caught in the middle of a breath. He taps a few buttons on the remote, the TV flaring up in a loud cacophony, some local car dealership commercial. “So! I’ve got Netflix or HBO, you wanna pick?”

It’s a lot of pressure. A lot. What if he picks a movie that Louis hates? What if Louis is too nice to say anything about it, and suffers through the whole thing to make Harry happy? What if they can’t agree on a good one?

Harry smiles uncertainly at the Netflix menu screen. He needs something simple. Just then, Harry remembers that today is Friday the 13th. “Um. Do you like horror movies?”

Louis shrugs. “I like just about anything.”

That settles that, then. Harry clicks on the first horror movie he finds that looks mildly decent and then leans back on the sofa again. If he purposely shifts closer to Louis, either he doesn’t notice or just decides not to mention it. As the opening scenes start rolling, Louis taps on the lamp to turn it off, washing the room in nothing but the dim light from the lowering sun. The curtains are half-open, showing off the gorgeous pink hue of the sky, and that, combined with the feeling of Louis so close to him, and the gentle piano sounds from the TV, is all sending Harry into a sleepy, satisfied haze. It hits him, then, just how much he really wants to kiss Louis.

Instead, he shamelessly twists his body to the side a bit, so the left side of his chest collides with Louis’ shoulder. It’s quite sad that Harry is taller than Louis, or this would be the perfect position to lay his head against Louis’ neck. As it is, he has to slide down the couch awkwardly until his legs are half-dangling on the floor, but it's worth it when he can lie there in the crook of Louis’ neck and shoulder. Louis says nothing at first, until he looks down and a fond smile envelopes his face. “You’re like one of those over-sized lap dogs. The ones who think they’re really tiny, but they actually aren’t.”

“Hey,” Harry drags out, his eyebrows scrunched together. “Mean.”

Louis pinches the soft skin of Harry’s tummy just light enough that it tickles, doesn’t hurt. He squirms, pouting even harder. “You’re cute.” Louis’ voice is just as soft as his eyes. “You’re not gonna fall asleep on me, though, yeah? Pizza hasn’t even gotten ‘ere.”

“You’re so rude to me,” Harry says. “Now shh, I’m trying to watch the movie.”

They don’t get to cuddle long before the doorbell is ringing. Louis pauses the movie, carefully removing himself from under Harry and bringing the box back to the couch after he has paid. “I got half veggie lover, half pepperoni. You seemed like a vegetarian, but, uh, if you don’t like veggies I’ll eat that half?”

Harry’s heart flutters knowing that Louis was thinking of him. “Veggie lover is fine. I’m not really a vegetarian, though. Maybe someday, if I really research it enough.”

They both quiet down as they start eating, and Harry gets distracted on more than one occasion watching Louis’ cheeks puff out like a chipmunk while he takes little nibbles of food. He’s distracted enough to not realize what’s happening when Louis takes a greasy hand and starts rubbing it over Harry’s cheek with a devilish smile. “Stop it, you ass, I’m gonna break out,” Harry whines, snatching his wrist.

“Oh, I forgot I was dealing with a teenager here. I’m glad I’m past the days of bad skin and braces. And Axe cologne and those weird Nike sandals.”

“You’re like three years older than me, you fuck,” Harry huffs. He wipes his face with his arm, but he knows he’ll need to wash it when he’s done eating. “And I’m not a teenager.”

“Three years?” Louis raises his eyebrow. “That’s generous.”

Harry pauses in taking another bite. “You’re like twenty three, right?”

Louis laughs, twisting a piece of hair around his finger nervously and fluttering his eyelashes. “You’re sweet. Try, uh, try twenty seven. Twenty eight in December.”

“Oh,” Harry says. He throws his pizza crust back in the box and brushes his hands off. He hesitantly tangles them in Louis’ hair, thumbing behind his ear in a way that’s almost surely too intimate for having just met him days ago. Louis doesn’t object, though, so he keeps doing it. “Do you want to know what I think about that?”

Louis nods.

“Honestly?” Harry asks, his eyebrows raised in interest. “Really, really honest?” Before Louis can let out a frustrated groan, Harry dips closer and says, “I think it’s kind of hot, Louis.”

Louis blinks, and then Harry can feel Louis’ hands on his waist as he brings them closer together. “Really?” he quirks his lips, shaking his head with a laugh. He can’t get anything out after that, because Harry closes the distance and connects their lips. He can hear Louis make a squeaking noise into his mouth—as if he didn’t expect Harry to follow through—, but then he starts kissing back.

Fuck.

Fuck, it’s good. Harry isn’t ashamed to admit that he’s done in a fair bit of kissing in his life time, but within seconds he knows that this one, sitting on the couch with a man he met only days ago, tops all of them. They both taste like pizza, and Louis’ tongue has the slightest flavor of cigarettes, but Harry doesn’t mind. How could he, when Louis is so skillful? When he makes Harry feel like he’s just ran a marathon? When, after just a minute of kissing Louis, Harry wants to melt in a puddle of goo?

They pull apart with a tiny pop, lips slick with spit, both of their eyes sparkling.

Harry says, “That was.”

“Good,” Louis finishes, leaning over and placing a crooked kiss on the tip of his nose. “Good, yeah?”

“Yes,” Harry smiles, suddenly feeling shy. He just shoved his tongue in Louis’ mouth, after all. “Can we—Again?”

When Louis nods, Harry rolls over so his knees are on either side of Louis’ thighs, his hands firmly on Louis’ chest. He gets distracted for a moment, when Louis’ shirt slides down a bit and he can see the scrawling tattoo he’s got across his collarbones. The shirt comes down further, and Harry reads aloud, “It is what it is.”

“What’s this for?” Harry asks, tracing over the cursive lettering. “I like it.”

“It just… It is what it is,” Louis giggles, his eyes scrunched up happily. “You know, I was just thinking. Why have you got a naked mermaid tattooed on your arm?”

Harry snorts, burying his face in Louis’ chest. He nips lightly at the “I” in his tattoo, not sexy so much as playful. “You… You’ll laugh.”

He can’t see his face, but he can tell Louis is rolling his eyes.

“Okay, well. I had this girlfriend, right,” Harry laughs. It’s been long enough where the memory feels like a funny dream rather than reality. “I was seventeen, and she was, uh, she was twenty three.”

Harry peeks his head up to see Louis with his eyebrows raised in amusement. “So, it was the night after my eighteenth birthday, and I wanted to give her, like, a gift. To show my commitment, or something, because I knew I would be moving for college soon. Don’t even say it, Louis Tomlinson, I swear—”

Louis erupts in a fit of giggles, his nails digging lightly into the chub around Harry’s hips. “I didn’t say anything. Not a word about you being so y—”

“Good, then, not a word!” Harry cuts him off, his cheeks hurting from smiling so hard. “So, my friends and I, we walk into the tattoo shop—bear in mind that I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t have anything planned at all—and I just say to the artist, ‘Do your best! This is for my girlfriend,’ and, uh. This happened.”

Harry holds his arm out, inspecting the tattoo which bears no resemblance whatsoever to his ex, with the mermaid’s long hair and, what Caroline described as “saggy tits” before storming out of the room upon seeing his tattoo. His first serious relationship, ended because of a naked mermaid ink.

“But I like it,” Harry says, shrugging. “No one should strive for perfection. Now come on, I was promised another kiss.”

+

The sun is well below the horizon, stars starting to dot the sky, when Louis asks whether Harry is staying the night or not.

They’ve both got their shirts rucked up to their tummies, and Louis had been delighted to find the tattoos all over Harry’s abdomen—his butterfly and laurels may or may not be covered in little bruises from Louis’ mouth. Nothing further than that had happened though, which left Harry feeling vaguely disappointed but mostly just fuzzy inside over the knowledge that Louis wants to respect his boundaries and go at Harry’s pace. They’re both hard, quite obviously, but both of them ignore it. That’s why Louis’ question is so surprising, since Harry can’t imagine they’ll simply go right to sleep if Harry stays over.

“For… To sleep?” Harry checks.

Louis laughs lightly with a nod. “Um, yeah. Or, I mean. It’s your call, Harry. I won’t be mad if you say no, or if you want me to sleep on the couch, even.”

“You’re funny,” Harry giggles, darting forward to kiss him on the shoulder. Louis wrestles him around until his arm is wrapped around Harry’s waist, rubbing lightly from the birds on his chest down to the tips of his laurels, his fingertips rough but his palms soft. “Just yesterday I was thinking that you might not like me back.”

Louis blows air out of his mouth dramatically. “No way. I’ve been thinking I was too obvious and you thought I was annoying. Harry, I invited you to a sex club the first day I met you.”

Harry’s stomach tightens up in laughter under Louis’ hand. “I… Suppose.”

A second goes by, and then Harry finally twists his head up to look at Louis’ face. “And yes, yeah, I’ll stay the night. On the bed and everything, no couches necessary.”

+

It should be awkward, Harry thinks. As they trail into the bedroom, Louis passing Harry a pile of pajamas and turning around respectfully while he changes, Harry can't stop imagining all the things he’d like to do with Louis eventually, and it’s disappointing that all they can do tonight is kiss. He knows that Louis is letting Harry call the shots, and technically he could move them further along if he wanted to; he just doesn’t want to ruin it by seeming overeager.

Harry holds his old clothes in his hand awkwardly while he watches Louis plug his phone in on the nightstand, shuffle pillows around, and take a large sip of water from a bottle next to the bed. Maybe, Harry thinks, Louis is just as nervous as he is. That thought brings a smile to his face.

“So, can I wash my face?” Harry blurts. “Since you got pizza grease, literally, all over it.”

“Oh, please, there’s barely anything,” Louis snickers, kissing him on the cheek and pointing at a skinny door on the right. “Everything’s inside the cabinet, help yourself, love.”

Harry makes quick work of locating the face wash and scrubbing himself with it, also digging out a bottle of mouthwash. Since he didn’t think to bring his toothbrush, it’ll have to do. By the time he’s done, he’s feeling clean and ready to resume their activities.

The bedroom is filled with low music when he reenters, and Harry stops for a moment to take in the scene of Louis, shirtless, his back to Harry while he scrolls through the music on his phone. He looks up when he hears Harry’s footsteps, and smiles lightly. “Hey, sorry, I can never sleep without something playing. Too quiet. Got any suggestions?”

Harry shrugs, trying to keep his eyes trained on Louis’ face rather than his body. Even through the corners of his eyes, Harry can tell he’s gorgeous, with his long expanses of tanned skin, his thin waist and contrastingly large biceps. He could probably stare at Louis for hours without getting bored, except  he’s only allowed a mere thirty seconds before he’ll look like a creep. He remembers Louis’ question, and instantly, the names of any band he’s ever listened to have completely escaped his mind. “I like everything.”

Louis hums with his eyebrows raised, and nearly a second later, a twangy, acoustic country song is trickling through the speakers.

“Except—Except this,” Harry giggles, as the singer starts to crow about America the free in a heavily Southern accent. “Anything but this.”

With one last smirk, Louis finally decides on a playlist titled ‘Bedtime Tunes’, and then sets his phone down on the table again. It’s playing just loudly enough to ease the leftover tension in the room, without being distracting. Louis lifts up the blankets, gesturing for Harry to get in first. Harry does, leaving enough space for Louis to feel comfortable. Louis climbs in after, lying on his side facing Harry. He pulls a funny face, then, with his tongue sticking out and his eyes crossed. Harry bursts out laughing, unconsciously moving closer to him.

“This feels proper domestic,” Louis muses.

“Is that a problem?” Harry asks, already knowing what Louis’ answer will be.

“No, not a problem,” he says. “I like it. I’ve never just slept with someone before. It’s nice, like—starting off on the right foot.”

“Does the right foot still include making out before we sleep?” Harry smiles cheesily.

Louis rolls his eyes, but wraps his arms around Harry anyway. “Maybe. Possibly. If you’re good.”

“If I’m good, yeah?” Harry laughs, raising his eyebrows. “Thought we were starting off on the right foot?”

Louis cringes, his hands freezing for a moment. “I didn’t, uh, mean that. Sorry, it’s just hard to switch off sometimes. I really do want to do this right, and—I hope you know that I’m not just waiting for you to be my sub, or anything. Even if you never are, that’s okay. I don’t want you to feel pressured if that’s not what you want.”

There’s that flutter again, the butterflies beating their wings frantically in his stomach. “I get it, it’s okay. I’m sorry that I’m so, like, inexperienced.”

Harry did not just say that. He did not just admit that he’s insecure about this. Oh god, he thinks, this will ruin everything. “Please ignore that I ever said that,” Harry huffs.

Louis frowns as he thumbs at the crinkled lines of Harry’s forehead. “That’s how you feel?”

Though Harry darts his eyes away, it’s response enough.

“Love, what kind of person would I be if I cared that you were inexperienced? And for that matter, what kind of dom would I be? Not to sound rude, but you know that for years I’ve shown new subs the ropes, whether they’ve never kissed anyone before or they’ve had sex hundreds of times. It’s never a reflection of you, or how much I like you.”

Harry feels silly for being ashamed, but comforted by Louis’ words nonetheless. “It was stupid,” Harry finally says, after a long pause. “I’m sorry.”

“Apparently you haven’t realized that it’s hard for me to think of anything you say as stupid.”

Harry rolls his eyes, but he can feel a thick blush spread across his cheeks. “I thought you said we could make out. You know, if I’m good.”

He says the last part teasingly, but somehow the words feel nice, rolling off his tongue. He’s just not sure that right now he could do anything that “being good” entails.

They fall asleep tangled together, their lips still hovering over each other’s. Fuck, Harry could certainly get used to this.

+

Harry wakes up the next morning to hear someone puttering around in the kitchen. He takes stock of his surroundings—still in Louis’ room with Louis’ arm wrapped around him, but this time with sunlight shining through the curtains—and is instantly on high alert. Who is in the house? Louis didn’t mention a roommate. Is someone breaking in ?

“Lou,” Harry whispers, gently shaking his shoulder. When he doesn’t stir, he shakes harder. “Louis. Lou. There’s someone here.”

Louis finally sniffles, his nose scrunching up adorably while his eyes crack open. “Jus’ the mailman, H,” he says nonsensically.

“Louis, does your mailman happen to come inside the house? And open your cupboards?” Harry hisses urgently.

A heavy, annoyed groan leaves Louis’ mouth. “Yes,” he says. “Every morning.”

Harry pulls back the blankets, spinning around so his feet are firmly on the floor in case he needs to attack. Not that he would really know what to do, but he’s ready.

Suddenly, a loud female voice rings through the apartment. “Louis! Breakfast!”

“No,” Louis grumbles, stuffing his face in the pillow. “Nooo.”

Harry’s eyes are wide. Who is this woman? Why is she cooking Louis breakfast? Did Louis invite her without telling him?

“I slaved over the stove to cook you this nice meal, the least you can do is come eat it!”

It takes a good minute, but eventually both of Louis’ eyes open, and he starts wiggling his fingers in a way that Harry thinks means he’s waking himself up. “Jesus, sweetheart, no need to yell about it,” he calls back, his voice endearingly squeaky with sleep. Then he looks over at Harry, with a soft smile on his face. It makes his eyes crinkle. “Guess you’re meeting Eleanor today, then.”

+

Harry leaves the bedroom first, because Louis insists on taking his morning pee before he can properly wake up. That would be just fine, if it weren’t for the fact that Harry and Eleanor are strangers, and they’ll be left alone together before they’ve even been introduced. And Harry still has hickies on his neck—or love bites, as Louis calls them.

He counts every footstep before he’s standing on the cold tile in the kitchen, seeing a thin girl with her back to him, scooping eggs onto a plate. She’s wearing a stylish leather vest with a flowy white tee underneath, and a pair of patterned pants so cute that Harry blurts out, “Oh, where did you get those pants from?”

Eleanor yelps, the pan clattering on the counter as she whirls around. “Who are you?”

“Sorry!” Harry cries, rushing over to the pan so he can save the eggs from burning while sitting on the hot stove. “I’m—I’m Harry, I didn’t mean to—”

She ignores him, getting a new spatula from the drawer so she can scoop the eggs back onto the pan. In all Harry’s bumbling, he only managed to knock a few pieces onto the floor rather than save anything. When all the food is safely back in its rightful location and the burner is turned off, Eleanor sets it down and turns to face him. “Who are you?”

“Harry,” he answers slowly, unsure if she heard him or not. “Styles.”

“Right, of course, whatever. I mean what are you doing in Louis’ apartment? And—Oh my god,” she suddenly gasps, dashing forward to examine Harry’s neck. Though he’s embarrassed, he appreciates that she’s not invading his space by touching him. She raises her voice, “Louis, have you brought someone home ?”

Her accent is strong, almost stronger than Louis’. Harry knows nothing about what accents come out of which places in the UK, but she sounds a bit posh, he thinks.

The words catch up with him, and Harry feels a pleased smile stretch over his lips. Clearly, Louis doesn’t bring many people home.

“Eleanor, my love,” Louis announces as he makes his dramatic entrance. “Oh how I’ve missed you, and all your loud yelling at 7 am.”

Eleanor reaches forward and pinches Louis’ nipple through his shirt. “Shut up and give me a hug, loser,” she says, yanking him forward by the shirt collar. He complies, wrapping his arms around her tightly and letting her burrow her head into his shoulder like a tiny animal. She’s quite cute, Harry thinks. “Missed you.”

“Missed you too, El,” Louis laughs, kissing her cheek and then pulling away a bit. He looks at Harry, who is awkwardly kicking a bit of egg around on the floor, and says, “This is Harry. Don’t be mean to him.”

Eleanor scoffs. “‘M not mean. You know who’s mean, though? I went to go pick out flower arrangements, and this lady goes to me an’ says, ‘You shouldn’t pick yellow flowers, they look awful with your skin tone.’ Like, who says that? So rude. I called the manager and complained, so surely she’s getting a talking to.”

“Ellie, you know you look good in any color,” Louis grins, his sharp little teeth digging into his lip as he ruffles Eleanor’s perfectly styled hair. When she threatens to knock his teeth out, Louis’ smile only grows. “Anyways, why have you woken me and Harry up at such an ungodly hour? On a Saturday?”

“Hey, watch it! I made breakfast!”

She gestures at the mess on the counter and floor, rolling her eyes. “Or I did, until Lover Boy came in and scared the shit out of me.”

Harry frowns, trying to apologize but not exactly knowing what to say. And Eleanor never told him where she got her pants from, either. “I’m sorry,” he says. “Uh, I’m Harry, by the way.”

Eleanor stares at him for a moment too long, before finally saying, “You’ve said your name about twenty times today, love, I know your name is Harry.”

A deep, embarrassed blush heats up his cheeks. He can’t do anything except stand there and nod with a confused smile on his face, flipping his gaze between Louis and Eleanor. After a pause, she picks up the pan once more and scoops the rest of the eggs onto plates, getting out a new one for the guest she didn’t plan for. “I came here because Soph doesn’t believe that you’ve bought your suit yet. So I was told to take a selfie with it, as proof.”

Louis slices his hand through the air like he’s cracking a whip with an accompanying “whoosh” sound. Harry doesn’t get it until he blurts out, “Wait, is Soph your fiancee?”

She raises her eyebrows at Louis before saying, “Yup, that’s her. My adorably organized fiancee who doesn’t trust Louis even a little bit.”

Louis makes a ‘humph’ noise and pouts. “Well, she’s got to trust me soon if she’s marrying you. We’re like a package deal, right, El?”

“A package deal, huh?” she laughs before elbowing his crotch. While Louis stands there grumbling, she says, “Now come on, these eggs have been through entirely too much to not get eaten.”

+

When everyone is seated on the couch, completely awake and with full bellies, Harry starts to regain his footing. Rather than sit in somewhat awkward silence while observing Louis and Eleanor, he starts talking again. Although, truthfully, it’s all because of Eleanor’s coaxing.

She’s the one that asks him, “So where have you come from?” and waits eagerly for his answer.

“Erm. I live a few minutes away?”

Eleanor snorts and hits his arm good-naturedly. “ No , how’d you meet Louis, I mean? What do you do? What are your plans for life?”

“Oh,” Harry smiles lazily. “I’m in college to be a teacher. I substituted for Louis’ class and then—”

He stops, unsure if he should mention the club at all. He assumes that if Eleanor is as close with Louis as she seems, then she must know about it, but would it be weird to talk about it? He looks at Louis pleadingly.

“Then, he came to watch me do my real job,” Louis wiggles his eyebrows, receiving a swift smack across the face from Eleanor.

“Oh, Harry, you looked so innocent!” Eleanor frowns. “I should’ve known, with that love bite.”

Harry doesn’t mind the teasing—has endured far worse from friends at his school—and so he only shakes his head with a smile. “Well, how did you meet Louis, then?”

There’s a fondness on Eleanor’s face as she says, “Met him when we were kids, he moved into the flat across the hall. My parents wanted me to be friends with Louis’ younger sisters, but me and Louis hit it off instead.”

“That’s cute,” Harry says. He wants to see a picture of Louis as a child; he’s certain he was adorable. “So, you came with him to L.A.?”

“Not quite. He was here for a few years while I did an internship in Paris. But I visited him here a lot, and fell in love with the city.”

“Fell in love with Sophia, more like,” Louis interjects with a smirk.

“Please, you know I would never uproot my life just for a girl,” Eleanor says flippantly. “She just happened to be a bonus.”

A beep sounds from Eleanor’s phone, and she pulls away for a moment to answer the text. Louis takes the time to raise his eyebrows at Harry, in a ‘you good?’ way. He nods. Talking to Eleanor has become less of an obligation and more of a fun time, and he can see himself becoming good friends with her himself.

Eleanor puts her phone down again and starts running her fingers through her hair. “Alright, Tommo, show me the suit. Soph wants the picture now.”

After pointing in the general direction of his bedroom, Louis snuggles into the couch, a bit closer to Harry than before. When she disappears, he whispers, “So, what do you think? You like her?”

“She’s awesome,” Harry says honestly. “And you two seem really close.”

Louis hums affirmatively, and then laces their fingers together. “You’re not gonna get jealous or anything, right? It sounds silly, but I’ve had... More people than I’d like to admit break up with me over her.”

“Why would I be jealous?” Harry laughs. “She’s getting married . And I trust you. Probably more than I should, because, like, we just met.”

Louis kisses his cheek in response, turning his head distractedly when Eleanor shouts out, “Louis, are you having me on?”

“God, I better go see what I’ve done now.” Louis sighs. He kisses Harry’s other cheek to make him smile, and then stands up with a stretch.

Harry can hear them bickering over whether the suit will get wrinkles in it’s current position, and after a few minutes it becomes clear that Harry will be left alone for quite some time. He looks around the room observantly, realizing that he never took the time to look at anything when he arrived. It’s a nice set up, messy but not overwhelmingly so. The only word Harry can think is home .

A glint of shiny silver in the corner of the room catches his eye. With a glance at where Louis and Eleanor disappeared, he shrugs and ambles over to it. There’s a short bookshelf, filled with a variety of books, from Stephen King to Charlotte Brontë to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. On top of it is a collection of picture frames containing photos of Louis graduating college, of his family, of Louis in large groups of what Harry assumes are his friends. The shining thing, Harry discovers, is a glossy rock, glinting all different colors of the rainbow depending on where the light hits it. Surrounding it are other odds and ends, like a tourist-y snow globe from London and a vintage map, rolled up artistically.

Harry tears himself away from the bookshelf, wandering over to the other side of the room to look at the collage of wall art hanging there. He’s reading a quote typed over a watercolor painting when Louis comes back to the room, saying, “Hey, sorry about that. Didn’t mean to abandon you or anything.”

Harry turns around with a smile, his face softening. “It’s no problem. Is Eleanor okay?”

“Yeah, just got cross with me for leaving the suit out of the bag,” he rolls his eyes. “She’ll probably be out of here in a little while.”

“Trying to kick me out so soon,” Eleanor pouts as she reenters. “Fine, then, I’ll be out of your hair. I have a ton of things to do anyway.”

Louis laughs at her, pulling her in for one more side-hug before she starts collecting her things. She tells Louis goodbye, and then nudges her shoulder in Harry’s direction while she says, “You two have fun! Louis, go easy on this one, he looks a bit fragile.”

When Eleanor has left, Harry grumbles to himself about not being fragile . “I’m not made of glass,” he whines. “Why’d she say that?”

Louis only shrugs, holding back a laugh. “Dunno, babe. How long do you want to stay today?”

“How long will you have me?” Harry smiles.

+

They end up in bed again, lazily pulling the blankets over them and taking a quick nap. Harry wouldn’t have thought that his first official date with Louis— is this a date?—would be spent hanging out with Eleanor and sleeping, but he can’t imagine it any other way now. They don’t nap long, just enough so that both of them are alert when they wake again.

“Morning,” Louis smiles. “Afternoon. Whatever.”

Harry echoes the sentiment and then looks away from Louis’ eyes, going down his arms to scan over his tattoos. “What do they all mean?”

It’s an overwhelmingly random grouping of ink, small things forming a sort of sleeve.

“A bunch of them are pointless,” Louis rolls his eyes, pointing at a stick figure on a skateboard and a doodle of a camera. Then he shrugs, thumbing over the globe, “This one is because, you know, I’m on the other side of the world right now,” and about a Bus 1 tattoo, he says, “Me and Zayn have the same one. It’s this abandoned bus we found and fixed up together. Eleanor and I each got this elephant, not for any particular reason, we just wanted to match. And, I got a few for my mum and little siblings.”

“How many do you have? Siblings, I mean?” Harry asks.

“Seven of them,” Louis laughs. “Eight, if you count my half-sister on my dad’s side, but we aren’t in touch. The youngest ones are Ernest and Doris, they’re only four.”

Harry can see how much Louis loves them; his eyes light up with happiness in a way that brightens his whole face. “You like kids?” Harry asks, already knowing the answer is yes, but still wanting to ask. It’s definitely way too early to be having the children talk with Louis, but under the disguise of talking about siblings, Harry thinks it’s alright.

“Yeah, of course,” Louis smiles. “Me mum’s always on me about when I’m gonna have a baby, but I have to wait ‘til I’m in a stable relationship. There’s no way I could take care of a baby by myself.”

Harry laughs. “My mom always ‘casually’ reminds me that she can’t wait to have grandchildren, too. I figure I’ve got until after college before she really starts hounding me.”

“It’s a mum thing,” Louis says, rolling his eyes. He lifts his arm up and wraps it behind Harry’s neck like a pillow, calmly playing with the little curls next to his ear. “God, I just remembered how many papers I’m supposed to be grading.”

This makes Harry’s mind drift back to the choice he has to make about his teaching assistant position. Although his mind is already quite made up, he wants to talk to Louis about it, to make sure he won’t mind if Harry stays in his classroom longer than expected. Nervously, Harry asks, “Erm, about school, like, how would you feel about me doing my partnership in your class?”

“Partnership?” Louis raises his eyebrows.

“Yeah, it’s like—They match a college student up with a good teacher, to show you the ropes and everything. I was going to do mine in a Kindergarten classroom, but I don’t think it’s for me anymore. So, um, if you’ll take me?”

“You’re sure?” Louis bites his lip. “I’ve never done this before, I don’t know how good I’ll be. What if I suck at being a good example?”

Harry giggles. “I’ve already learned things from you just by watching you teach for an hour, Louis, I’m sure you’ll be great. And you’ll have someone to help you grade papers.”

That makes Louis’ lips turn up, but he still doesn’t look completely convinced. “Would that make me your boss?”

“Nope, I’m not a paid employee,” Harry says. “Completely legal for us to go out. So, uh, will you? Do the partnership?”

Louis’ face finally softens as he says, “Yeah, I will, babe.”

+

“Oh, fuck, harder!”

“Shit! Fuck me!”

“Master, please, oh!”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!”

“I’m gonna—”

Harry scrambles to find the volume button, his heart jumping into his throat. Sure, he’s home alone, but the window is open, and five different porn videos are clashing together in separate tabs, at full volume. When his hands finally stop jumping long enough for him to click the mute button, he brings a hand up to his chest and wills his heart to stop racing. “Jesus,” he mutters with a low exhale. There are a pair of headphones right next to his laptop, ones he mistakenly thought were plugged in. Carefully, he puts them in place, checking and double checking the chord before restarting the first video he opened.

The two men are relatively normal looking, kissing slowly like any other couple would, until the slightly larger of the two suddenly flips the smaller boy on his belly and starts spanking him. Harry bites his lip, blushing. Is that what he wants? To be taken by surprise, manhandled, not given a choice? It doesn’t sound particularly appealing.

He closes that tab with a sinking feeling in his stomach. What if he was wrong about being a sub? What if he disappoints Louis? Even though Louis had said they don’t need to do anything, ever, would Harry feel like he’s not enough for Louis if they became exclusive?

The next one is more promising. It’s a man and a woman, this time, and they’re actually talking before they have sex. It’s still not as in-depth of a discussion as Harry would’ve liked, but this is porn, after all, so he doesn’t expect much. At least he knows, when the man starts whipping the girl’s chest, that she agreed to it and is enjoying it. The rest of the video is just too intense for Harry to imagine himself in.

A thought occurs to Harry, then: A documentary.

Surely there’s a documentary about BDSM? There’s a documentary for everything.

He loads up Netflix with little expectation, thinking that something as sexual as BDSM won’t be on Netflix, but, in fact, he finds one within the first few minutes. Kink , it’s called.

Harry’s eyes widen as he sees the flashing images of ropes and masks, and reads the description, which describes how one porn company manages to be extremely hardcore, but still safe and even pleasurable for the actors.

It’s not exactly what Harry’s after—he’s not looking to join the porn industry anytime soon—but for being on Netflix, he thinks it’ll do.

The film opens with a definition of BDSM, and an introduction to the company’s practices. Harry remains straight-faced for a good few minutes, before one of the workers at Kink asks into a walkie-talkie, “Hey, do you guys have the straightjacket up there?”, at which point Harry cracks a smile. It loosens him up and he becomes less fidgety. The next few scenes are interesting, to say the least: a man setting up a machine-powered dildo that ends up moving so fast it becomes blurry on the screen and asking the actor if it’s too extreme for him; a woman making sure an actress feels okay about her impending anal scene; two women explaining what kinds of pain they’re going to inflict on a man. The general idea seems to be that comfort is a huge priority, even when dealing with purposely hurting someone. That makes Harry feel a little fuzzy in his stomach, but in a warm, good way, like he just drank fresh hot chocolate.

The entire documentary continues on a similar note. Everyone there is choosing to be there, because they like it. They feel safe there, in these odd little dungeons with dim lighting and an immense collection of pain-inducing toys, all while a camera is rolling. Harry thinks he could do without the camera—he’s done short little clips with boyfriends, before, but he gets too nervous that they’ll fall into the wrong hands—and he doesn’t feel like a cave-style environment is the right fit for him, but the concept of letting himself go so completely, trusting someone enough to let them hurt him, is making him feel a strong need . He knows that he told Louis he would go slow, but all he wants to do now is get tied up and hit, or something—maybe not hit, then, maybe just pinched or teased. His mind is fuzzy, but he knows he wants something .

By the time the film is over, it’s dark out, and far too late for Harry to have anything done to him. He probably would’ve chickened out, anyway, or Louis would’ve objected. Either way, all he can do now is wrap a hand around his own dick and tug one off with thoughts of better, more daring activities in his head. It takes him two minutes flat before he’s soaking the sheets.

+

Harry talks to his professor after class the following Monday, explaining that he’s learned so much from Mr. Tomlinson just during his brief time with him, and would love to be placed there for the rest of the year. His professor, seeming rushed and busy, despite it being visiting hours, simply nods and writes down “Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson” on a sticky note before pushing him out the door.

Harry doesn’t have any other plans for the day, after dodging an invite to a frat party, and with no close friends to hang out with. He considers calling up his mum or sister, but figures they’re busy since it’s a weekday. That leaves him with only two options, either stay home alone or see what Louis is doing.

The choice is practically made for him when, just minutes later, Louis texts him: think it's your turn to wine and dine me, yeah?

Harry bites his lip in thought. He doesn’t want to take Louis somewhere he doesn’t like, but they don’t know each other well enough for him to know what Louis likes. He’s just about to open up Google and do a generic search for ideas when Louis writes: Hint hint, I’ve been meaning to try this bar by my house !! It’s pretty quiet i’ve heard.

Harry lets out a breath of relief and looks up directions after texting Louis back an affirmative.

 

The bar is, as promised, relatively calm as far as bars go. There are a quite a few groups of coworkers here for a post-work drink, but certainly no rowdy drunks in sight.

Harry arrives first, and saves them two seats on the corner of the main bar. The bartender, a woman with sharp winged eyeliner and a leather jacket, asks him what he wants to drink, and Harry wipes his hands on his pants before saying, “Erm, just water for now. Thanks.”

While Harry waits, he people watches. He likes to make up stories in his head for each person around, what they’re talking about and what their job is, and if they have kids of not. There’s a man in a pressed navy suit, which Harry imagines has a lot of children, if his wrinkles are anything to go by. Further away from him is a girl who looks to be Harry’s age, sitting in a corner booth by herself, talking to her friend on the phone. Harry thinks she might have gotten stood up on a date, and then considers going to talk to her, because no one deserves to be alone. Just as he makes to get up, though, she leaves the bar entirely.

Harry taps his fingers on the table, slightly sticky, but most likely from cleaning supplies rather than beer. He’s about to create a life story for another patron when the door dings open, letting in a blast of warm air before the air conditioning hides it.

“Hey,” Harry says, when Louis gets close enough. He’s got his hair styled up today, in a little quiff which Harry thinks makes him look simultaneously more boyish, but older.

Louis sets down a bag beneath their feet, swooping in for a delicate kiss on Harry’s cheek. “Hello,” Louis smiles. “Have you ordered anything?”

Harry shakes his head, waiting for the bartender to serve another customer before flagging her down. Louis orders a regular beer, so Harry gets the same, with a plate of fries for them to share.

When the bartender walks away, Harry turns to Louis, beaming. “ So , I am now officially your classroom helper,” he giggles. “Ready to assist you with, you know. Things.”

“Oh?” Louis crooks an eyebrow, his face dissolving into laughter within seconds. Their food and drink gets placed in front of them, making them nod a thank you towards the woman. When she’s gone, Louis plucks a fry off the plate and munches on it. “When do you start?”

“I think next week Monday,” Harry takes a fry himself, surprisingly impressed by the taste. “This is really good, Lou. I like this place.”

Harry watches Louis survey the room, nodding appreciatively. “It’s nice,” Louis nods, refocusing his attention on Harry. His gaze is so intense that it catches Harry off guard, making him blush and duck his head. When he looks up again, Louis is smiling over the rim of his glass. “I was thinking, earlier, that we don’t really know that much about each other,” he must notice Harry biting his lip uncertainly. “That’s not a bad thing! It just means we have more to learn.”

Nodding, Harry tries to think of something he wants to know about Louis, but doesn’t yet. His mind is blank, though, nervous from just talking with Louis.

Thankfully, Louis picks up the slack. “Like, hm, are you a morning or night person?”

Harry relaxes in his barstool. “Definitely morning, if I’m alone. I always feel like I’m wasting my time when I stay up late.”

They talk about pets, and hobbies, and books, and pet peeves—and after an hour or so, Harry feels closer to Louis than any other first dates he’s had in his life. Although he’s still not sure if this is a date, or something else. Clearly they’re something, or they wouldn’t have kissed, but Harry can’t help but wonder why Louis, who is so put together and experienced, would want to go out with someone like Harry. As the sun starts setting and their time together is drawing to a close, Harry decides that he’s going to ask. And if he doesn’t get the answer he wants, well, then he’s got a full stock of vodka and ice cream to cry into at home.

The bar is filling up with the night crowd, people ambling around and vying for good spots to sit. Harry takes a breath and asks Louis if they can go walk around outside. After paying for their drinks, Louis smiles and takes Harry’s hand, lacing their fingers together comfortably while they exit the bar. It’s quieter out, the only sound being the click-click ’s of the bugs and the occasional whirring of a car driving by. Harry can’t resist swinging their arms a little, sighing happily at the feeling of being held by another person. It’s been a while, and Harry forgot how nice it is to do cute couply things.

“You look like you have something to say,” Louis observes, as they pass under a dim streetlight.

“Huh?” Harry says, blinking a few times. “Right. Um. So, like.”

Louis rubs his thumb over the back of Harry’s hand while he stutters out filler words rather than what he actually wants to talk about. After taking a second to calm himself, Harry meets Louis’ eyes and says, “Hypothetically, if you were going to date someone right now, would it be, like, serious?”

It isn’t exactly what Harry planned on asking, but it’s been on his mind just the same.

Louis pauses, turning so that they’re facing each other. “Honestly, yeah, I’m looking for a serious relationship. I know that you might not be, and that’s fine. You’re in college, I couldn’t expect you to, you know, give up your choices for anyone.”

“What if I wanted to be serious too?” Harry says slowly, wanting to shy away, but also wanting to appear confident and decisive.

After a moment of Louis scanning Harry’s face like he’s looking for the lie, he says, “Then I’d say we’re compatible.”

“What about—Erm,” Harry blushes, feeling bad for even bringing this up. “What about Haven?”

Louis’ eyebrows scrunch. “What about it?”

“You told me that you’d be okay with me even if I never want to be a sub,” Harry says, after making sure there’s no one around to listen in on his words. “But I would feel terrible, knowing that I’m taking you away from something I know you enjoy.”

“Babe, don’t worry about it,” Louis shakes his head, stepping further and cupping his cheek. Harry shivers. “Haven isn’t a deal breaker for me.”

It doesn’t do much to ease Harry’s mind. “Please be honest with me, Louis. I know that if you forced me to stop doing something I like, it would hurt me, a lot.”

Louis sighs, shaking his head. “The thing is, you’re not forcing me to do anything. It would be my own decision to stop going to Haven.”

“Look, I—I appreciate what you’re trying to do, make me feel comfortable, but I would feel so selfish, Lou.”

“Here, come here,” Louis shakes his head, leading Harry to a bench in front of a flower bush. He sits down, waiting for Harry to do the same before saying, “Okay, I think there’s something you’re not understanding. Being a dom isn’t—a lifestyle , not for me. It’s fun, yes, but I would much rather have a steady relationship with the most vanilla sex on Earth—or no sex at all, frankly—than to be a dom and live alone the rest of my life. And being a dom doesn’t always mean pain, either. I can get the same feeling from, like, tying your shoe, or praising you for cleaning up, or just generally making you happy. I wouldn’t miss Haven, not if it means I’ll have you.”

A deep blush coats Harry’s cheeks. “Oh,” he says lamely. “That’s, erm, I didn’t think of it that way.”

Louis nods, shifting closer to Harry. “So … What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking that I feel like an ass, for telling you how to feel,” Harry pouts. “I just didn’t want it to end up like one of those things, where years down the line you resent me for coming between you and your hobby.”

“I wouldn’t,” Louis assures him. A breeze moves Harry’s curls into his eyes, and Louis delicately brushes it back. “Does this mean that, you know—”

Harry can feel his heart pumping wildly in his chest as he scans over Louis’ face. His mind is whirring with romantic ways he could phrase this, but all he can come up with is a rushed, “Will you be my boyfriend?”

A soft smile splays Louis’ lips while he nods along. “I would love to, Harry.”

+

Harry feels like he’s fucking high . His brain floats through time and space whenever he thinks of Louis—his boyfriend , Louis—and he hasn’t managed to go a single second without smiling since it happened. He thinks that even when he’s sleeping, he’s got a big cheesy grin on him.

As Harry snaps another goofy selfie to send to Louis, he realizes that they haven’t actually been apart for any length of time except to sleep. Even when they aren’t physically with each other, there’s always a new text or snapchat waiting to be opened.

The longer they’re together, the more Harry starts to trust Louis. With it comes more and more pressure to be a sub—from Harry’s own brain, never from Louis. He wants to try something new, and he does trust Louis. The only thing holding him back is his own apprehension.

He’ll never know if he doesn’t try, though.

+

“Here, babe, why don’t you just take your pants off while I go get some things,” Louis suggests, kissing him on the forehead as he pushes himself up and off the bed. “Where’s your lube?”

“Bathroom, behind the mirror.” Harry says. He lifts his hips up to slide his clothes down his legs. Knowing that Louis is still fully dressed while Harry is now naked makes him blush all the way down to his chest. He subtly drags the blanket over so it partially covers his waist, and though he’s still clearly exposed, he feels a little more comfortable with it on.

Louis reenters the room with a bottle of water, a washcloth, and lube. He climbs back on the bed, giving a lazy smile upon seeing the sheet that Harry pulled over his body. He sets them everything on the nightstand and focuses his full attention on Harry. “Let’s just talk for a minute, yeah?”

Harry nods, but he’s not sure what to say.

“What’s your plan, love? What do you, you know, want from me?”

“You make this sound like a drug deal,” Harry giggles, forcefully making the tension in his shoulders evaporate. “ What can I do for you, Harry ?”

Louis rolls his eyes fondly, scooting closer so he can hold Harry’s hands. “Well, it's true. I’ll give you whatever you need.”

Harry blushes so hard that he has to curl around and bury his face in the pillow next to him. “Stop,” he whines. “Cheese ball.”

With one last toothy grin, Louis says, “ Fine , alright, let’s talk. This was all really sudden, and I want to make sure I don’t overstep because of a lack of communication on my part. Here, we can start with an easy one: what are your absolute no ’s? Something you wouldn’t want to even try. And whatever you say here won’t offend me, yeah? So don’t worry about your answer.”

Harry bites his lip, seriously considering it. He drags up memories of all the time he’s spent in front of a computer screen, watching porn he doesn’t like and reading stories of things too extreme for anything he would enjoy. “I don’t like being insulted,” Harry says slowly, watching Louis’ face for any kind of disappointment. His understanding look holds steady, though. “The, um, calling me a slut, things like that.”

Louis nods and squeezes his hand. “And…”

“I don’t want to do anything too wild,” Harry cracks a smile. “If you think it would be categorized in the hardcore section of PornHub, then I don’t like it. For now, anyway.”

“Understandable,” Louis laughs. “I wouldn’t have done any of that to you without asking, anyway.”

“Okay, that’s good,” Harry digs deeper into his mind in search of other absolute no ’s, as Louis called them, but he thinks that the other ones come with common sense. “What, um, what else do you need to know?”

“Well, what do you like? You mentioned a while ago that you were interested in being a sub because of porn, so what was kind of thing was it?”

Honestly, Harry can’t remember the exact video. He has a habit of closing out of the tab before he’s even finished coming, but he knows that the guy was tied up, somehow. That’s the part he had asked his boyfriend at the time to imitate with no success. “I think, like, it might be nice to be held down? Or, um, tied?”

Louis nods, his eyes wandering like he’s thinking about the logistics of it. “That’s definitely do-able,” he says. “Anything else?”

“For today or in general?” Harry asks cautiously. He knows Louis didn’t bring over a giant bag of wild sex objects, nor are they at Haven, where anything Harry could imagine would be ready to use—realistically, they aren’t going to be doing much today.

Louis shrugs. “I want to know whatever will make you comfortable,” he says. “Now and in the future. But if you want to just talk about tonight, that’s fine.”

Harry is out of his depth. There’s only so much that he can imagine himself enjoying, and it’s even harder to think of them when he’s nervous. “I don’t really know,” Harry mumbles, laughing at his own incompetence. “I don’t know anything about this stuff, I just—I just want someone to decide for me.”

Louis hums quietly, cuddling in closer to Harry, so his curly head is lying on Louis’ firm chest. “It’s okay,” he brushes through the slightly tangled parts at his hairline with his fingers. “I’m not expecting you to prepare me a whole list in alphabetical order, MLA format,” Harry scoffs and sticks out his tongue. “Most people don’t know what they like until they actually do it, and that’s okay. I only want a general idea, so you can have fun too, babe.”

It takes a minute, but then Harry says, “Yeah, I get it. But I really, really have no idea what I like,” it’s kind of comical, how little Harry actually knows about himself in this area. “I want you to just… Do it for me. I trust you.”

“Haz,” Louis says. “That’s a pretty big deal. Are you sure?”

Backtracking slightly, Harry says, “Well, like. I’m not saying to suddenly pull out a belt and start smacking me around—” he giggles, because this probably doesn’t seem as crazy to Louis as it does to Harry. “Just, like. If you want to… Erm, maybe, spank me,” Harry has to hide his face again, biting his lip against more inane laughter. “That wouldn’t be the worst thing.”

Louis looks to be struggling to keep a straight face as well, which makes Harry feel infinitely better about it. “I’ll ask you before I do anything like that,” Louis says around a smile. “At least for the first couple times, because I don’t want you to be so caught up in wondering what my next move will be that you forget to enjoy everything else, you know?”

“Okay,” Harry says. “Anything else, Mr. Experience?”

“What ever ,” Louis laughs. “No, no, nothing else, really. Except your safe word. For right now, I think it would be better to just have you say ‘stop’ if you want to stop. Unless that’s something you want to play around with? Then we can use the color system, if you’d like.”

Harry shakes his head. It’s probably best that they don’t use a color system, because Harry can’t imagine himself instinctively yelling ‘red’. It’s not his first thought. “No, ‘stop’ is fine.”

After kissing him on the forehead, Louis gently pulls himself out from underneath Harry, standing up and going over to the bedroom door. “Don’t laugh, okay,” Louis says, though he’s already starting to laugh at himself. “I have bondage tape in my car. Since we don’t have any rope, let me go get it really quick.”

A laugh bubbles out of Harry before he can stop it. “Oh? In your car? I thought this wasn’t a lifestyle for you, Louis.”

Harry has the immense satisfaction of seeing Louis blush for once, as he defends himself. “It was a gift! And trust me, it’s a lot more comfortable than a belt would be, so really, you should be thanking me.”

Louis steps out of the room, leaving Harry alone to deal with his racing heart. He hadn’t even realized that his hands were shaking until he noticed the sheets rippling. He wants to do this, of course, but he hasn’t been this nervous to be with someone since his first time. Louis will take good care of him, he knows, so he shouldn’t be anxious. Yet his breath continues to come in short bursts until Louis shows up at the door again, a roll of black tape and scissors in hand.

“Haz?” he says softly, setting the down and pulling Harry close. “We don’t have to try this tonight.”

“No, I want to,” Harry says, frustrated. “I swear, I do. Once we start, I’ll calm down.”

Louis looks at him uncertainly, sliding his gaze up and down his body before finally nodding. He rubs his hands over Harry’s back in soothing motions, massaging his hands around to the front and pushing Harry down into the pillows behind him.

Harry bites his lip against a smile when Louis kisses his neck, mouthing over his jawline and sucking a bruise into the soft skin. He pulls back, thumbing over the spit-slick red spot with a grin. “Bruise like a peach,” he teases. Harry pouts, mumbling unintelligibly. “I like it, can mark you up easier.”

With a whine, Harry says, “I’m going to be in class with you tomorrow, I can’t look like I just ended a twenty-four hour orgy.”

Louis quirks an eyebrow, deliberately latching onto Harry’s neck and nipping at it. Harry giggles, shying away from the feeling. “Get off me, vampire.”

Though he was only joking, Louis does stop ruining Harry’s neck. He drifts further, pressing little kisses into Harry’s chest and collarbones, licking over his nipple in a way that’s more playful than sexy. “Louis,” Harry whines, another laugh caught in his throat. “Tickles.”

Louis ignores him, licking all around both nipples to make him squirm. “You’re the worst,” Harry insists. He makes the mistake of pulling the sheet up higher, covering more of his body and drawing Louis’ attention to it.

“No,” Louis says, batting his hand away from the sheet. “Don’t be embarrassed.”

It’s ironic, considering Louis hasn’t taken a single item of clothing off of himself. Louis must know what he’s thinking about, because he looks down at himself and says, “I’ll let you pick one thing for me to take off.”

Harry’s brain immediately loses all its known vocabulary, as he flounders to think of something Louis should get rid of. “Erm,” he stutters. Somehow, Louis has managed to give him control over something, but still make him feel powerless. “Your shirt?”

Louis sits up on his knees, pulling his shirt off without finesse. There’s clearly going to be no strip-tease from Louis, but Harry can’t say he’s surprised. He throws his shirt on the floor, bending over again and resuming his kisses, this time over his butterfly tattoo and the small patch of hair on his lower stomach. “I like these,” Louis says, pressing his thumb into Harry’s laurel tattoos. “Make your hips look softer.”

“You mean they don’t make me look rugged and manly?” Harry asks, trying to keep his voice steady. Louis’ face just keeps going further down, and the anticipation is making his breath catch.

Louis smirks, creating another love bite on Harry’s hips. The brief flash of pain has Harry’s legs twitching. Without warning, Louis reaches a hand down and pinches his inner thigh, just hard enough to startle a gasp out of Harry’s mouth. He remembers how Louis had done that to Liam, and how Harry had thought at the time that it wouldn’t feel good. Clearly, something in his brain has shifted, because feeling Louis’ harsh fingers on such a sensitive spot doesn’t make Harry want to stop, but rather has him hardening up under the sheet disconcertingly quickly. It’s so obvious, too, how the covering is suddenly tented. Harry’s face flames as he looks away.

“Why are you upset, love?” Louis whispers, carefully ignoring it while he rests his chin on Harry’s abdomen. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Harry nods and tries to will away the blush he’s sporting.

“But you liked that?” Louis asks, pinching him again, higher up on his thigh. Harry’s hips jerk minutely.

“No I didn’t.” Harry says stubbornly, even as Louis can see Harry get harder under the sheet.

Louis’ eyes linger on Harry’s dick, covered by the sheet but still clearly visible. He looks at Harry like he’s waiting for him to stop him, and when no words come, Louis gently smooths his hand over it, palming him through the fabric. Harry lets out a breath of air, closing his eyes. As soon as he does, though, he opens them again so as not to miss a single thing. He’s cataloguing everything in his mind, piece by piece: the somewhat scratchy, soft sheet rubbing against his wet tip, the warmth of Louis’ hand all around him, the circular motions of his palm. It’s nothing he would’ve done for himself, but the roughness mixed with gentle movements has him feeling like he could live in this moment forever—or, preferably, just for a few minutes, because he can’t imagine being able to hold out for long today.

As if reading his mind, Louis’ hand pauses while he says, “I think ‘m not going to let you come.”

“At all?” Harry squeaks.

“Maybe,” Louis laughs. “If you’re good.”

Harry doesn’t get to ask him how he can be good, because then Louis is sitting up, leaving his dick to lie there pitifully. Harry feels like pouting.

“I’m gonna take this off,” Louis says, hands hovering over the blanket, though there’s room for Harry to object if he wanted to. Any shyness he once felt is gone, though. He just wants to get the show on the road.

Louis takes it off tantalizingly slow, one inch of skin showing after another. When Harry is laid out bare, Louis holds his wrists down to stop him from trying to cover up—not that he was going to, anyway, but the power Louis has over him in this position sends electric shock through his veins. “Gonna tie you up, now,” Louis hums, kissing his shoulder. Harry hears the crinkle of the tape being pulled out. “Normally I’d tie it all pretty, with soft ropes, but we’ll make do.”

“Will it hurt?” Harry asks. He’s not sure if he would care either way, honestly.

“No, it shouldn’t,” Louis says. “It’s bondage tape, not regular. Here, feel it.”

He cuts off a tiny piece and presses it to Harry’s leg, only for it to fall down immediately, not sticky at all. “See? It only sticks to itself.”

Harry has never in his life seen something like this. He picks up the tape and rolls it so it forms a circle, and suddenly it's stuck together, but not to his hand. “This is so cool,” Harry says, wondering how it’s even possible. “I want it on me.”

Louis rolls his eyes at Harry’s impatience. Still, he gestures for Harry to hold his hands out. “Do you want them tied behind your back? Or, I suppose I could do it to the bedpost. But if you want to, I can just do it in front of you.”

Harry looks up at the aforementioned post, unsure if he’d actually want to hold his hands up that long. Losing circulation in his hands doesn’t sound very sexy. “Maybe just in the front this time,” he says, holding his arms out for Louis.

Louis pushes his wrists together, wrapping the sturdy tape around once, asking “Is this too tight?” and continuing to wrap it when Harry shakes his head.

“Okay, try to get out for a second.”

Harry pulls his wrists apart, his breathing picking up when he realizes that he couldn’t move even if he wanted to. This is nothing like a scarf, where Harry had to stay perfectly still or else it would slip off him, nor is it like the flimsy belts that his previous partners would wrap just once around his wrists. This is the real thing, a pressure that’s keeping him from moving his hands even the slightest bit. It makes his hands shake, the knowledge that Louis could do anything to him like this, and Harry would be powerless. He only gets more turned on when he realizes that even though Louis could do anything to him, he won’t.

“Good, babe?” Louis whispers, smoothing his hands over Harry’s forearms. “It’s not too late to back out.”

“No, I-I,” Harry looks down at the restraints again, mesmerized when he gives them another tug and they don’t move in the slightest. “I’m. It’s good. It’s good.”

Louis smiles fondly. “I’m glad. You want to just sit for a moment? I’ll wait for you.”

Harry thinks for a moment. Some time to adjust to the new feeling would be nice. Louis sets the tape and scissors down on the nightstand and says, “Tell me right away if your hands start tingling or go numb, and I’ll cut it off for you.”

On instinct, Harry says, “My hands are numb.”

Louis’ eyes bulge as he reaches for the scissors again. “Fuck, Harry, I—”

“Just kidding,” Harry says quickly. Louis relaxes again, with a mildly confused look on his face. “Wanted to know if you would actually do it.”

Louis settles in, tracing his fingers over the tape on Harry’s wrists. It only brings more attention to the fact that Louis can do whatever he wants with his hands, while Harry’s are unusable. “Boy who cried wolf,” he says with a laugh. “It’s okay, but please don’t do that unless you actually mean it. Like, I’ll always stop for you if you tell me, it would just be nice to not have a heart attack every time you want to test me.”

Feeling guilty, Harry nods. “I’m sorry, Louis. I’ll be good.”

“I know you will, baby.”

It becomes evident that Louis is waiting for Harry’s “go-ahead” when minutes go by with the two of them just lying there. Harry meekly says, “Um, Louis? We can start again.”

Like a switch being turned on, Louis is there, sitting between Harry’s legs and rubbing his hands over Harry’s thighs. It makes his every hair stand in anticipation as he watches Louis with complete control over him.

Louis gives him no warning before his hand is enveloping Harry’s cock in one movement. The tips of his fingers only barely touch each other around its width, and Harry doesn’t think he’s seen anything as attractive in his life. Louis brushes his thumb on the underside of the head, making Harry bite his puffy lips to keep in a sound.

“Harry, don’t,” Louis says, his voice stern. “I want to hear you.”

Shakily, Harry releases his lip from between his teeth, at the same time that Louis starts to pump his hand up and down firmly. A loud moan escapes him, utterly humiliating considering they’ve only just started. There’s no chance that he’ll last long, but that only makes him feel more submissive.

“Don’t come until I say you can,” Louis says. He thumbs over the tip again, making Harry breathe out a whine. “And you need to tell me if you’re close, so I can stop.”

Harry wants to complain, say that he’s already close and that tonight is probably not the best time to work him up too much, but one look at Louis’ face has him staying silent. He trusts that Louis knows what’s best for him. The knowledge that he can say “stop” at any time has Harry calmly settling back into the pillows, awaiting Louis’ next move.

For one moment, Harry forgets that his hands are immovable, as he tries to scratch an itch on his side. Somehow, even that feeling is heightened exponentially.

Louis’ hand is soft where he’s massaging Harry’s cock. The precome he’s leaking creates an easy slide with the right kind of roughness. Louis’ face is so close that Harry can feel his breath, his cheek resting on Harry’s thigh. Numerous times, it looks like Louis is going to put his mouth on him, only for him to pull back and smirk at Harry. It’s even worse when Louis starts to slow his hand down, opening his mouth and giving him tiny kisses that start at his hips and make their way over to his pelvis. “Louis,” he whimpers. “Why—I—”

“Shh,” Louis says. He puts both of his hands on Harry’s cock, stroking the length up and down before taking one hand off and putting his palm flat on the head of it. It’s so sensitive that it hurts, but Harry’s traitorous dick jumps in his hand anyway. “You’re doing good, so good. What do you want, baby?”

Harry huffs, closing his eyes. “Your mouth .”

“No,” Louis says, matter of factly, just continuing to breathe on his cock without getting close enough for his lips to touch. “I don’t need to. You’d come too soon.”

“I wouldn’t!” Harry cries, even though he is looking pretty wrecked after just a few minutes. “I promise, I’ll—I’ll be good.”

“Harry, I said no.”

Harry has the inexplicable urge to cry, then, feeling powerless in a way that he’s never experienced before. If this is how it feels just getting a handjob with his wrists tied, he can only imagine how overwhelming an entire scene would be. A good kind of overwhelming, but scary nonetheless.

The need to come sneaks up on him, tightening the muscles in his abs and sending an intense heat through his body. “Lou—” he gasps, as Louis twists his fingers over the head. “Close.”

Louis takes both hands off, rubbing around his hips instead. He looks up at Harry’s face, which is sure to be flaming red, and then back down at Harry’s cock, twitching sadly. He smiles, tipping his head up to kiss Harry, saying “That was perfect, babe, thank you,” when they pull apart.

“Now I can come?” Harry asks hopefully.

Louis laughs softly, ignoring his question as he carefully takes his cock back in his hand. He watches it like he’s making sure Harry won’t come right then and there, and only starts moving again when he’s satisfied that Harry has calmed down. “I’ll let you come,” Louis says. “In a bit.”

Harry is tired and so turned on that it hurts, but the last thing he wants is to disappoint Louis, so he stays quiet. He’s thankful that his wrists are immobile because he definitely would have pushed Louis out of the way and finished himself off by now if his hands were free.

“Are you doing okay, love?” Louis asks, his eyes concerned.

Harry blinks, feeling a little fuzzy. “Yeah,” he says. “It feels good.”

Louis nods and smiles. “Alright. Don’t come yet, please.”

His hand speeds up again, properly stroking him with his entire fist, thumbing him at the tip every few seconds. Harry doesn’t know how he’s supposed to keep from coming like this. Harry tries to wiggle away, letting out a load groan. “ Close ,” he says, biting his lip anxiously. Louis doesn’t slow his hand down even a little bit. “Louis, I’m—”

“Don’t come, Harry.”

“I can’t, I—” Harry tries his absolute hardest to move his hips back, in the hopes that the friction will feel less demanding from farther away, but Louis puts his other hand on his tummy and presses down lightly, holding him still. “God, Louis!”

Though he gives it a valiant effort, Harry can’t help but let go, the heat overtaking him and making him come. His mind whites out as his eyes slip closed, his fingers grasping at the sheet and futilely trying to escape their bonds. Louis strokes him through it, not even protesting when Harry thrusts his hips up to feel it stronger.

When Harry opens his eyes again, he’s so focused on the image of Louis’ small hands soaked in his come that he almost forgets that he wasn’t supposed to come at all.

“Oh no,” Harry says aloud. “Louis, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, I just—”

Louis stays silent, his eyes understanding, but his face schooled into seriousness. “Harry, what did I tell you to do?”

“Tell you if I’m close.”

“That’s right, and you did that. What else did I tell you to do?”

Harry ducks his head, unable to look at Louis. “Not come.”

“Right. And did you follow directions?”

“No,” he shamefully admits. “But—”

Louis makes a sound that compels Harry to stop mid-sentence, to prevent further disappointment from Louis.

Harry feels both of Louis’ hands on his hips, his thumbs digging into the laurels. He uses his strength to lift Harry up, nudging him to the side until Harry flips himself over the rest of the way. His arms rest awkwardly above his head, still linked together while resting on the pillow. He twists his head backwards to look at Louis, his stomach fluttering with nerves.

“Louis, I’m sorry.” Harry whines.

Louis, once again, ignores him. He places his hands at Harry’s lower back, digging his palms in and giving him a short massage. He travels up to his shoulder blades and back down again, something that should be relaxing, but is only making Harry more worried about the inevitable.

Louis shifts down so he can brush the hair off of Harry’s neck and press a kiss there. It sends twice as many butterflies free inside Harry.

“You weren’t being very good,” Louis whispers, kissing over Harry’s neck, up to his ear. Harry shivers. “What happens when boys aren’t good?”

“They…” Harry mumbles, turning so his right cheek is smushed against the pillow, his eyes finding Louis’. He knows he could stop, now, if he wanted to. He knows Louis wouldn’t be mad. He’d probably even be proud of him, for knowing his own limits. But Harry thinks that he does know his limits, and getting his bottom hit a few times doesn’t tip it. “They get spanked.”

“Is that what you need, babe?” Louis asks, effortlessly combining asking for consent with dirty talk.

Harry feels so overwhelmed that he wants to hide his face away forever, but he forces himself to keep his eyes open as he nods. “Want to.”

Louis smiles at him, pride dripping from his eyes. “Lift your head up, wanna kiss you.”

Harry does as he’s told, doing his best to raise his head using just upper back strength. Louis’ lips are on his instantly, soft and romantic and slow. They feel calming, anchoring him to the bed so he doesn’t float away—something Harry feels like he might do any minute now. Louis pulls away before Harry, kissing each of his cheeks before sitting up again.

“I think ten spanks is fair, yeah?” Louis says. He rubs his hands teasingly over Harry’s bum. It feels good, Harry thinks, but he keeps anticipating the stinging slap that could come any minute now. “Harry, is ten fair?”

He didn’t realize he was meant to respond. “Yes,” he says quickly, voice sounding deep and scratchy. “Ten.”

“Remember that I’ll stop if you tell me to,” Louis says, sounding soft considering what he’s about to do. “Want you to enjoy this, not just to make me happy, okay?”

Harry nods, feeling frantic in his need to just get hit already. It’s the waiting, more than anything, that’s making his pulse quicken and his blood rush over his temples. With his head facing away, he can’t tell what’s going on, can only stare ahead at his bound wrists and try to prepare himself for the pain ahead. Louis gives him no hints—sporadically, he’ll pause in his massaging Harry’s cheeks to hover his hand in the air like he’s about to strike him, only to put his hands back and resume. Harry’s breath hitches every time Louis’ hand is off his bum, making him screw his eyes shut and clench the pillow tightly.

“I like having you like this,” Louis comments. His fingers drift between Harry’s cheeks, moving back up again when Harry seems a bit too eager. “You’re so perfect, and you’re ready for whatever I give you, aren’t you, Harry?”

Harry whines in response. He doesn’t want to open his mouth, lest Louis spank him then and cause him to bite his tongue.

Louis peppers kisses all over Harry’s shoulders while still keeping up the soothing motions of his hands.

Harry relaxes a bit, then, the tension leaking out of him when he realizes that it would be impossible for Louis to hit his bum from this angle.

Of course, of course , that’s what Louis wanted him to do, relax. As soon as Harry has let out a breath of air, Louis sits up and delivers a swift, flat-handed spank to the roundest part of Harry’s cheek.

Harry lurches forward—as far as is possible, when he’s already pushed against the headboard—and gasps, feeling the pain radiate up his back and down his thighs. The sound of it is impressive, a reverberating smack that makes Harry’s ears ring as his mind replays it.

When Louis touches his bum again, with gentle fingers, it feels like Louis has just lit a match and hovered it over his skin. Harry feels like his entire body is being held to flame.

“So good, you’re doing so well,” Louis says, kissing his shoulders again. It makes Harry tense up, but Louis wouldn’t use the same trick again, he knows. “Did that hurt too much, baby?”

Though every part of Harry’s body is screaming at him, Harry says, “No,” and “‘S good.”

“Look, love,” Louis says, prompting Harry to turn his head. It’s a perfect, red print of Louis’ hand, and when Harry notices that it doesn’t cover his entire bum, he can’t help but poke fun at Louis even when his mind is so blurry.

“Your hands are small,” he mumbles, humming out a quiet laugh.

Louis makes an indignant noise. “Sorry, what was that about small hands?”

Before Harry can even blink, Louis is raining down two more slaps, one over top of the first handprint, and one in the wildly sensitive crevice between his thigh and cheek.

The sound that Harry lets out is probably embarrassing, but he’s far too out of it to care. His mind is a vast expanse of white , and even when he opens his eyes, everything's so blurry that he wouldn’t know how many fingers are being held up right in front of his face.

Louis’ been keeping a running commentary, but Harry can’t hear it anymore. It’s like there’s cotton stuffed in his ears, and all he can distinguish is his own heavy breathing.

It fades, eventually, when he feels Louis sucking a love bite into Harry’s neck.

“How are you doing?” Louis asks. “Is ten too many?”

Harry doesn’t know how he’s supposed to be able to do math right now, so he simply nods.

“Ten is too much?” Louis clarifies.

Harry shrugs, feeling helpless. “I don’t know,” he says. “Ten.”

“Ten,” Louis repeats, and out of the corner of his eye, Harry can see him smile. “We’ve done three, just now, which means there’s seven left.”

“Oh,” Harry nods. “Yes. I can—I’m fine.”

Despite his words, Louis gives him a moment to recollect himself. He whispers compliments into Harry’s ear, about how beautiful he is and how proud of him he is. He squeezes Harry’s shoulders, kissing him over every inch of exposed skin.

It’s all overwhelming for Harry, but soon his heart rate is lowered down enough that his brain doesn’t sound like a jet plane taking off. He says, “I’m ready now, Louis.”

Louis plants one last kiss on the nape of Harry’s neck and then gets back into position. “I’ll go easy on you,” he says. “We don’t want you to fall under on your first time, yeah?”

Harry has no idea what it means to ‘fall under’, but if Louis thinks it’s bad, then he believes him.

It’s hard for Harry to concentrate once Louis spanks him again. They all melt together, a constant aching in his bum that rises and falls smoothly. It could be two spanks or it could be twenty, for all he can tell. The only reason he knows what number they’re on is because Louis says it after each one. When Louis announces, “Ten,” and Harry feels a spike of pain, he realizes that it’s over now, and feels his heart sinking a bit.

“More,” Harry whimpers, his eyes starting to go a bit teary. The thought of being done saddens him. “Louis. Lou, more.”

“Don’t want to hurt you, babe,” Louis says. He keeps his hands on Harry’s cheeks, though. “We should leave it at ten, or else you won’t be able to sit tomorrow.”

“I don’t care,” Harry says. He’s getting worked up, and can’t imagine going to sleep right now. They can’t be finished yet. He doesn’t feel finished. “Please, more.”

“Harry,” Louis warns. Harry chances a look at his face, and sees Louis looking firm and unwavering. Harry knows he’s already lost. “No. I see that you want more, but it would be reckless for me to keep spanking you.”

Harry’s lip wobbles as he sniffles pitifully. Before he knows it, his cheeks are wet and his eyelashes are sticking together.

“Oh, sweets,” Louis whispers, helping to flip Harry over so he’s on his side. He brings Harry’s hands down, carefully starting to unwrap the tape binding his wrists together. When they’re free, Louis throws the tape on the floor and repositions Harry’s arms for him to a more comfortable spot. “Come on, love, no tears. Let’s talk for a minute, okay?”

Harry brings a newly released hand up to his face to wipe his nose. Now that he’s starting to calm down, he feels mortified at having cried over not getting spanked enough .

“What’s made you upset?” Louis asks.

Harry can’t help but sniffle again, though he tries to hide it. “You didn’t listen to me.”

“Harry, love, I couldn’t ,” he explains. He wraps an arm around Harry’s waist, cuddling him closer. “This is your first time doing any kind of pain play, and I don’t ever want you to regret trying something new because it becomes too intense.”

“I know that,” Harry says quietly. “But I wanted more.”

“And we can do more, soon,” Louis says, his eyes reassuring. “I want you to have some time to think everything over, and to see how you feel in the morning. It doesn’t look like it now, but I guarantee that you’re gonna be bruised up tomorrow.”

Harry can’t believe how childish he’s been. “I’m sorry for, for being a baby.”

“No, no, Harry, don’t be sorry. I’m glad that we’re talking about this, and I’m happy that I could make you feel so good that you act like this.”

Harry blushes. “You said that most people don’t cry during scenes,” he says. “And I cried during my first one.”

A laugh is startled out of Louis’ mouth. “It’s a good thing, though, it means you’re extra responsive. The ego boost for me doesn’t hurt, as well.”

A few moments of silence pass before Harry works up the courage to ask, “What did you mean, when you said you don’t want me to fall under?”

“Oh,” Louis says, running his fingers up and down Harry’s arm. “It’s called subspace. It’s when you get so overwhelmed, and are feeling so many emotions and things that your brain kind of, uh, stops working? Some people describe it as feeling like they’re in the clouds. It’s hard for them to know what’s going on around them, and usually you can’t speak if you’re in subspace.”

Harry tries to imagine what that would be like. He thinks that he got a taste of it, earlier, but it had been fairly easy to bring him back down, so to speak. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Louis nods quickly. “Yeah, yeah, it’s great. As long as you’re taken care of while you’re in subspace and afterward, then it can be amazing. It’s really intense, though, so it’s not great for a first-timer.”

“Have you ever, like, put someone in subspace?”

It might be an odd question for Harry to ask his boyfriend, but he’s never been a very jealous partner. It has always struck him as strange when people don’t talk about past relationships with their partner; it’s like setting yourselves up for failure, he thinks.

“A few times, yeah,” Louis says. When Harry looks at him, waiting for more information, he laughs and continues. “Um, some people fall under really easily—which, not meaning to sound rude, I think you’d be in that category—and some are harder. One time, it took me three hours of a really extreme scene for this girl to go under. Another time, all I did was pinch this guy a few times and he was down. And some people just never get to that place at all.”

Harry nods, thinking this over. Subspace doesn’t sound too hard in theory, but considering Harry started crying over a few spanks, he knows it would be much different than he’s expecting.

Louis’ eyes suddenly light up. “You should talk to Zayn! He’s been a sub and a dom, so he’s got all the bases covered. He would probably be better at explaining this stuff.”

It makes Harry nervous to imagine asking a complete stranger about something so personal, but if Zayn agrees to it, and Louis thinks it's a good idea, then Harry supposes it’s worth a shot.

“Okay, I’ll talk to him.”

“Yeah? If you don’t want to, that’s okay.”

Harry shakes his head. “I want to, it’ll be good for me.”

They both settle in after that, getting ready to go to sleep. Louis gently wipes away Harry’s come, and then Harry realizes— “You tricked me!”

Louis smirks. “I dunno what you mean, darling.”

Harry’s eyes narrow, but he hides a giggle. “You did that on purpose, making me come. Saying it was my fault and I should be spanked. You’re the one who didn’t stop, though!”

Louis shrugs, his eyes twinkling. “You can’t prove a thing.”

+

Harry is nothing if not prepared.

He spends the better part of a day writing down any questions he has for Zayn—before school, during lunch, during plan, as much as he can get away with—and eventually filling up three whole pages with them. Then he goes back through and crosses out the questions that are either too personal, too dumb, or unanswerable. It leaves him with a couple solid talking points, but he still has Louis look it over before they head out the door.

The car ride over to Haven has Harry jittery.  He’s staring out the window and jumps when Louis lays his hand over Harry’s.

“Don’t worry so much,” Louis says. “It’s just like talking to a friend. I mean, I hope you can be friends anyway, since you’re both important to me.”

Harry nods stiffly, trying to remember that Eleanor liked him just fine, so Zayn probably will too.

“Is he, like, nice?”

Louis laughs. “Yeah, H, he’s nice, or I wouldn’t be his friend.”

“Right,” Harry says, shaking his head. “Sorry, I just. I swear I’m not this bad at meeting new people, but you wouldn’t know that because the first time I talked to you, I started going on about sexual preferences, which you never asked about, and when I met Eleanor, I gave her a heart attack, and—yeah.”

“Oh, come off it. If you hadn’t said what you said when we met, we wouldn’t be here right now!”

Harry pouts. “Well, I’d like to think that we would’ve found our way anyhow.”

Louis smiles so hard that his eyes crinkle. He waits until they’re at a stop light before leaning over and kissing Harry on the cheek. “Me too, love.”

 

Haven is still empty by the time they get there, not opening to the public until later that night. The sheer fabrics that separate the great room into more manageable sections are pinned up to the wall, making it look impossibly larger. There are a few people roaming around, using sponges and buckets of soapy water to clean the tables and equipment; others replacing the cases on pillows, cleaning the bar, or vacuuming.

If Harry had any doubts about the cleanliness of Haven, they’re all gone now.

They spot Zayn easily, fussing over what looks to be some kind of swing. Harry doesn’t want to ask.

“Oi!” Louis calls, gaining the attention of much of the cleaning crew. It’s a testament to how often Louis is here that none of them bat an eye at him. Zayn stands up from his crouched position, a small smile on his face as he approaches the two of them. “This is Harry.”

Up close, Zayn is gorgeous. He’s got almost-black hair and a dark beard that suggests power, while his doe-eyes and less than dominant stance do anything but. While Harry observes Zayn, Zayn is doing it right back, making Harry blush under the scrutiny.

“Hello,” Harry attempts to smile. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Zayn hums in nonchalant agreement. “Let me just finish this, then we can talk.”

He turns back to the swing without another word. Harry looks at Louis to make sure this is normal, that Zayn doesn’t just hate him on first sight. Louis squeezes Harry’s hand reassuringly.

They go sit at one of the nearest couches, watching idly as all these people work to clean up the literal orgy that happened here last night. It’s certainly not a job you could proudly tell your mother about.

When Zayn is apparently satisfied with the swing, he makes his way over to the couch across them and rests with his arm over the top, giving them both a nod in greeting.

“So, this is Harry,” Louis says again. “I told him we should come here because, one: I want you to meet him, and two: He’s got some questions, if that’s okay?”

Zayn finally cracks the hint of a smile at Harry, and he feels accomplished, though he didn’t do anything.

Harry assumed that Louis would have told Zayn everything already, so he’s surprised when Zayn asks, “Questions about what?”

Feeling like a child, Harry looks to Louis for assistance.

“Zayn, man, what do you think, considering we’re sitting in the middle of a BDSM sex club?”

Harry wants to hide, embarrassed about asking a near-stranger these things. He puts his head down, fiddling with the numerous rings on his fingers while he waits for someone else to say something. When he feels Louis nudging his arm, he looks up to see Zayn waiting expectantly.

“I can try to help with anything,” Zayn says. “If you’re with Louis, though, you probably know more than you think you do.”

+

Haven is about to reopen for the night, and Harry’s mind is whirring at full speed. He imagines little men inside his brain, filing away all this new information for safe keeping, moving frantically because of the workload.

Zayn gave him answers to all the questions he needed to ask, everything from “What does subspace feel like?” to “Have you ever had to red-out during a scene, and how did you feel after?”.

Knowing that Zayn was once just as unsure as Harry is now makes Harry feel infinitely more empowered and ready to try new things.

Louis left the two of them alone to talk once he saw that they got along well enough. Harry thinks that if he met Zayn elsewhere, they probably wouldn’t become friends, but now they have more than a few common interests—Louis counting as one of them.

Either way, it’s nice to talk with someone who knows what Harry is feeling, in a way that Louis can’t. And now Harry has some foresight into how it would feel to do something more intense, if he wanted to. As time goes on, he thinks it’s becoming more of a possibility.

Louis wanders back over to them right around the time when Haven starts opening their doors to the public again. Zayn glances backwards and sees him, turning back to Harry and saying, “I should probably get going. Have Louis give you my number, yeah? Was nice to meet you.”

Harry smiles with a nod. Louis goes and stands behind Harry, hands digging into his shoulders soothingly. He leans down and kisses the side of Harry’s neck, making him giggle and twist away, saying, “Lou, that’s rude.”

“Rude how ?” he asks incredulously. “Look around you, tell me what building you’re in.”

Harry laughs again, standing up off the couch and stretching. “Do you have to be home soon?”

Louis taps his lip, an apologetic expression already forming. “Kind of do, love. I’ve been putting off grading these papers for a while, and I said they’d be handed back tomorrow. But if you want to stay awhile, I can pick you up again later?”

“No, no,” Harry says. “A night in sounds nice. I can help.”

Later, when they’re both settled on the couch with a stack of mostly poorly written essays, a steaming mug of hot coco in their hands, Harry tentatively says, “Can I ask something?”

Louis sets down his pen instantly, nodding.

“Have you blindfolded anyone?”

It’s been on his mind since he talked with Zayn, something he called sensory deprivation. Zayn said it’s the most intense feeling he’s had, without eyesight or hearing, at the complete mercy of his dom. The thought of it has been stuck in Harry’s head, being so alone yet taken care of, the image playing in his mind on a loop.

Louis says, “Yeah, ‘course I have. Is that something you want to try?”

Harry tries to look down at the paper to distract himself, but the words are blurry. “Maybe, yeah. I—Also, like. Maybe earplugs?”

Louis raises his eyebrows. Harry gets the feeling that he’s not judging, just surprised, but it makes him blush either way. Louis seems to be waiting for Harry to continue, so he says, “I think it might be nice. With, like, if you tied my hands up and then I couldn’t see or hear—I don’t know, maybe it’s stupid.”

His heart speeds up, shaking his head in an attempt to drop the subject. Louis has probably done so much worse, so much more extreme, and Harry is here making this simple act sound like a big deal.

“Harry, love, come on,” Louis whispers, tipping his chin up to see his eyes. “It’s not stupid. Nothing that you ever ask me about is stupid. What’s making you upset? It’s a perfectly valid idea.”

Harry bites his lip and tries to keep up contact with Louis’ eyes. “I just feel like a baby sometimes. This isn’t even some kind of wild BDSM thing, but it still makes me nervous, and I guess I still worry that you will look down on me for not knowing what I’m doing.”

Louis frowns. “I don’t know how else to make you understand,” he says, rubbing a thumb over Harry’s cheek bone. “I like you for you, not because of your sex knowledge, for God’s sake. I want to know every idea that passes through your mind, everything that you like and don’t like, anything you even briefly consider trying. And I don’t want you to worry about telling me things, because I’ll never judge you for this. I promise, babe.”

Harry takes a deep breath to calm himself, knowing that he needs to stop assuming things about Louis without asking first. “Right,” he says. “Thank you.”

Louis kisses his forehead, and then leans back a bit further, cozying into his original position. “And for the record, sensory deprivation is no joke. It’s easy to get trapped in your own thoughts and not know how much is too much, so it’s really important that you tell me exactly how you’re feeling if we try it. The first time, I’ll probably have to take out your earplugs a couple times—I know, it ruins the mood, but your safety is more important than a scene, you know?”

“Of course,” Harry nods. “I’m—I’m so glad that I chose you. I can’t imagine doing any of this with someone else.”

Louis’ lips fold up into a fond V shape. “What else did you and Zayn talk about?”

Harry shrugs. “Nothing much, nothing I would really want to try. He said, like, he’s been a sub without sex before, which was kinda cool. Have you ever?”

Louis, surprisingly, shakes his head. “I haven’t,” he says. Harry’s eyes go wide upon realizing that he’s finally found something that Louis is inexperienced in as well. “What kind of stuff? Because that’s a whole new area.”

“I don’t know,” Harry giggles. “It’s not really something I want. But I figured you’d know, since you’ve done practically everything.”

Everything . God, Harry, you make me sound like a sex addict,” Louis laughs. His tone becomes more sombre as he says, “I’ve never actually taken any of my subs home. You’re the first.”

Harry sits back against the couch and tries to comprehend this. How is it possible that Louis—who has been doing this for years, who is such a good dom, who is also romantic and sweet and perfect—hasn’t lived with a sub before? “You mean, like, ever?” Harry asks.

Louis nods with a laugh. “Yeah, ever. I guess there was one time, I was dating this girl, and we didn’t live together, but she would come over a lot. She was a sub, but we broke up before we ever tried anything like that.”

For as much as Harry knows Louis, he realizes that they still haven’t had the intentions talk. The one where they talk about past relationships, what went wrong, and what they want out of this one. Harry doesn’t think now is the best time to ask these things, when they’ve each got stacks of papers to grade, but the words are slipping out of his mouth before he can stop them. “Why did you break up?”

Louis raises his eyebrows, so Harry says, “Hey, I told you about Caroline and the saggy tits debacle,” while tapping his mermaid tattoo for emphasis.

Louis rolls his eyes. “Well, nothing tops that story! She was already into being a sub, and I wasn’t a dom yet. She wanted someone experienced, so I really don’t blame her. I imagine it would take away from the effect if you have to instruct someone on how to punish you.”

Harry nods, reassuring himself that, once again, Louis doesn’t care that he’s inexperienced. It’s a different situation. “So does that mean you’re, like, bi?”

They haven’t talked about this before, either, not that it would matter to Harry. It’s still good to know, though, like if you dated someone for months and still didn’t know their favorite color.

Louis blinks a few times, nodding. “Yeah, I am. That’s not a problem, right? You wouldn’t believe how many people have actually gotten fussy over it.”

Harry giggles. “Trust me, I know. I am too.”

“Oh,” Louis smiles. “I’ve never actually dated anyone bi before.”

“Those bisexuals, ” Harry whispers conspiratorially, croaking his voice like a middle aged woman. “You better keep an eye on them, might replace you!”

Louis pulls what Harry has taken to calling the “Harry face” because he’s only ever seen Louis do it to him. It’s full of fond and laughter, his eyes crinkles and lips scrunched. He is radiant, the sunlight put to shame by Louis’ light.

The words are stumbling out of Harry’s mouth before he’s even had time to process them. He hadn’t even known it was true until he’s said it, the “I love you,” tumbling out on it’s own volition.

Louis freezes, his eyes widening while he stares into Harry’s own. “You—”

Harry licks his lips nervously, not wanting to backtrack because, even if Louis doesn’t feel the same way, it’s true. He loves Louis.

“I—” Louis stutters, opening his mouth and then hesitating. “It’s, I want to say it back, I do, I just need a little time.”

Harry heart sinks, repeating the phrase in his head over and over. I love you, I love you, I love you . Why would he say that already? They haven’t been dating long, not long enough to warrant a confession like that. Why doesn’t Harry think before he speaks? “That’s, yeah. I understand,” Harry says, because he does. It’s not Louis’ fault that Harry is such a hopeless romantic. “I’m sorry.”

“Harry,” Louis sighs, his eyes soft. “I care about you so much. I think about you more than I think of anything else, I dream about us being together years down the line, and it’s a huge relief that you feel strongly about me too. I just want to make absolutely certain that I feel it too, you know? I want us to be on the same page.”

Harry swallows the lump in his throat. “Of course, I get it.”

Silence falls between them, apart from Louis anxiously tapping his pen on his binder.

“Should I go?” Harry asks gently. He wants to give Louis space, and he doesn’t particularly care for sitting in this stilted quiet any longer.

Louis sets all his papers down on the coffee table in front of them, picking up the one’s on Harry’s lap too. “Please stay,” he says, moving closer so his head rests between Harry’s neck and shoulder. He puts his arms around Harry’s broad chest in an anchoring way. “I don’t want to make this weird, Haz.”

Harry blushes. He really, seriously shouldn’t have said anything. This wouldn’t be happening if he’d kept his mouth shut.

Louis kisses his flushed cheek and then lays his head flat again. “You were telling me something, before. That Zayn told you about.”

“Yeah, it’s—Let’s just not,” Harry wants nothing more than for his embarrassment to fade, or better yet, to go back in time and prevent himself from doing what he did. “Can we just go to bed? I’m really—” he fakes a yawn, closing his eyes slowly for emphasis. “Tired.”

Louis frowns, but doesn’t argue. He just helps Harry stand up, a hand around his lower waist as he leads him to the bedroom.

“I’m probably going to finish up those papers,” Louis says, brushing his fingers through Harry’s hair when he’s all settled under the covers. Harry tries to memorize the feeling in the hopes of getting a decent night sleep without Louis to cuddle up with. “Is that okay?”

“Will you come to bed after?” Harry asks, a hint of pleading in his voice.

“Of course,” Louis nods, kissing his forehead. He pauses before standing up, looking as if he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He turns towards the door, whispering, “Goodnight, love.”

When he’s gone, Harry finally allows himself to panic. Has he ruined everything? Has he come across too clingy, too invested, where Louis isn’t? Will Louis break up with him over this?

Harry refuses to let himself feel even more childish about this, so he brushes back the stubborn tears in his eyes and buries his face in the pillow.

His mind is blank as he hears the heater switch off, basking the room in an uncomfortable silence. Harry can only hear the sound of his own shaky breathing, and the distant shuffling of papers coming from the living area. He perks up when he hears Louis say, “Hello?”

Harry nearly replies back until he realizes that Louis must be talking on the phone.

“El,” Louis says. “Are you busy?”

Harry deeply wishes that he could be asleep right now. Surely Louis is about to tell Eleanor all about how he’s planning to leave Harry, and he would rather not hear it.

“No, Harry’s asleep right now. Look, I don’t know what to do. He told me he loves me,” there’s a pause, where Harry doesn’t dare to breathe. “Of course I love him back. God, I didn’t say it back, and now I’m kicking myself. My brain just short-circuited and the only thing I could think was ‘ it’s too soon ’, but, El, I love him. Is that crazy?”

Harry’s heart jumps into his throat, pumping erratically while he waits for more information. Seconds stretch to minutes, where all Harry can hear is Louis’ nervous hums. Eleanor must be giving him a long speech. Eventually, Louis whispers, “Yeah. Yeah, you’re completely right. I just keep worrying that he’s going to regret settling down so quick. Like yes, he loves me now, but what about next year, when he remembers that I’m still fucking old?”

Harry pulls an indignant face, wishing that Louis was right here so he could tell him that Louis isn’t old, and that he should have a little more faith in Harry. In any case, Eleanor says something that makes Louis laugh, a light sound that gives away his underlying anxiety. All Harry wants to do is wrap him up tight and cling to him like a koala—he thinks they both would benefit from a good cuddle.

Harry doesn’t want to let on that he was listening to their conversation, so he waits until he’s sure that Louis is off the phone with Eleanor before softly calling, “Lou?”

The footsteps come quickly, Louis showing up in the doorway. “Yeah, baby?”

“Um,” Harry didn’t properly think this through. “I just—Wanted you here.”

“Haz,” Louis smiles. He crosses the room and crawls onto the bed, curling up under the blankets with him. “You’re not very subtle.”

Harry’s cheeks burn. “I don’t—What?”

Louis kisses his neck, up to his cheek. He pushes the blankets down and straddles Harry, leaning down and whispering in his ear, “I love you.”

If Harry thought he was happy with Louis before, it’s reached astronomical heights now that he knows his feelings are reciprocated. The butterflies in his tummy increase tenfold as Louis surges up and connects their lips. “I’m sorry I didn’t say it before,” he says. “I love you.”

“You’re not old,” are the only words that Harry can conjure up. “Twenty seven’s not old.”

Louis makes a ‘humph’ noise, his eyes scrunched up unhappily. “Tell that to the kid who dressed up as Peter Pan for Halloween every single year, because he didn’t want to ever grow past the age of eighteen.”

Harry can’t tell how much of Louis’ fears are said jokingly or are real, actual insecurities that Louis has. He’s never thought anything of Louis’ age, except that he doesn’t like how Louis doesn’t like it. “Come on, no kid wants to grow up. But it’s a good thing, means you’re smarter and you’ve seen more, and you’ve got money to take me on dates… Buy me clothes…”

Louis snorts, “On a teacher’s salary? Tell you what, I can take you to Goodwill and we’ll buy whatever your heart desires.”

Harry beams. “I was only joking, but if you really want to take me to Goodwill, I have been wanting a nice Hawaiian t-shirt.”

Louis rolls his perfect blue eyes, scruffy cheeks pulling into his signature V shape. “And I thought I was the old man around here.”

“Hey,” Harry drags out. “Hawaiian t-shirts are always in style. They’re a classic. And anyways, you’re the farthest thing from old. You know what would be old? If you need Viagra.”

Louis opens his mouth in horror as Harry laughs. “If I ever need to take Viagra, just kill me.”

“Did you ever watch Queer as Folk?” Harry giggles. “With—With George Shickle, when he has a heart attack while fucking Emmett?”

A flicker of confusion passes over Louis’ face before he’s suddenly laughing along. “Yes! Yes, and then Emmett has to yell through the whole plane because they got stuck!”

Harry’s cheeks puff up with happiness. Though the scene in the show may not have intentionally been funny, he’s happy that Louis seems to think it is too. “Right! Just don’t let that happen to you, baby. I don’t care to find out what it feels like for someone to die inside me.”

“H, Harry, I just thought something awful,” Louis warns, biting his lip mischievously. “Like, what if you were blindfolded, right, and had earplugs in. And I fucking died. What if I just died, and you didn’t know.”

Harry gasps and smacks Louis on the arm. “Don’t make me think that!” he still dissolves into giggles again anyway.

“I’m sorry,” Louis says. “Won’t happen, though, I promise. Can you imagine, though? Us being in our eighties, still having kinky sex?”

It’s supposed to be a joke, but Harry gets hung up on the eighties part. “You think we’ll be together that long?”

Louis startles and stays silent. “Well,” he says slowly. “I mean, yeah? Is that crazy?”

“Then I’m crazy too,” Harry sighs happily, resting his hands on Louis’ hips. Louis seems to just realize that he’s still straddling him and leans down slightly. Harry can feel his breath on his cheek as he says, “Because I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Neither of them mention that it’s dangerous to confess something like that so early. And, thank god, Louis doesn’t tell Harry that his sappy statement rhymes.

+

“Hey Lou?” Harry asks, one day. “Does it ever bother you, that we don’t do scenes at Haven?”

He’s past the days of being too anxious to ask these things, but he’s still wary of not being enough for Louis. He’s working on it.

“Course not,” Louis replies, while pouring a teaspoon of vanilla into the cake batter. “You know that already.”

Harry is teaching him how to bake a cake, since Louis told him he’s never made one in his life. Evidently, it’s two of Louis’ students’ birthdays tomorrow, so they plan on bringing small slices in for the whole class. It’s ambitious, but they think they can do it. Rather, Harry thinks they can, and Louis is willing to sit back and watch Harry bake the other two cakes.

“What brought this on?” Louis asks.

Harry blinks. “Just, we haven’t been to Haven in weeks. Wondered if you miss it.”

“I don’t miss it,” Louis says. “If you wanted to go, I’d be happy. But I’m just as happy without.”

Harry nods and starts stirring the batter. “Well because I was thinking, like, if you wanted to, um. Maybe we could do that one scene? At Haven?”

“What scene, Harry?” Louis asks. He’s been making an effort to be painstakingly clear about what Harry wants, now that they’re getting to more serious things.

“The—Um, sensory stuff.”

“You really want to do that at Haven? For the first time?”

When Harry raises his head, Louis looks skeptical. “I dunno,” Harry says slowly. “I just think, like. I wouldn’t be able to see them, so I won’t get scared. But I’ll still know they’re there.”

Louis nods along, considering it. “If that’s what you want,” he says. “Then, yeah. I’m all for it. Are you sure you don’t want to do it first at home?”

“I don’t know,” Harry says honestly. “It’s—I’ve never done this before. I’m just guessing that since I won’t be able to see anyone, it’ll be better. It would feel more like a hypothetical situation, but. Like, good. I don’t know how to explain it.”

In his head, he’s constantly thinking of scenarios that put him in new environments or situations. Being at Haven, participating, is something he’s been thinking about a lot, but his nerves have always held him back. While blindfolded and deaf, however, Harry thinks he could get over it.

“I want to try it,” Harry says, a sense of finality in his tone. “I know that I could stop you at anytime, and I want to try it.”

Louis can’t argue with that, so he just nods and kisses him on the cheek. He goes back to baking as if the conversation had never occurred.

+

Harry has to admit—he’s putting a lot of stock into this Haven visit.

It feels like he’s coming full circle. The last time he’d properly been to Haven, he was scared, and didn’t know what he was doing, and had just barely met Louis. Now, he may still be nervous, but he’s got a much stronger grasp on the things he wants and doesn’t want, and he and Louis are closer than ever.

He doesn’t like to think about what will happen if he doesn’t like this. If he arrives at Haven and immediately regrets it, he doesn’t know what he’ll do. Louis won’t be disappointed, he knows that already, but Harry would be disappointed. He would feel like he’s failed at being submissive, doomed to not be able to please Louis for the rest of his life.

So, Harry might be a little more worried than he thought he was.

He’s determined, though, and he’s only waiting for Louis to initiate things himself. He never would’ve thought Louis would be the one more reluctant to do a scene at Haven, but it’s becoming evident that he is.

It’s been days since Harry brought it up, and although Louis hasn’t been overloaded with class work, he’s made excuses that he’s tired, that Haven is usually too busy at that time, that he ate too much and now he’s too full. Harry knows that something’s up, but he’s been giving Louis time in the hopes that Louis will approach him on his own.

Clearly, when Louis says, “We can’t go to Haven tonight, because—because I have to take a massive shit,” Harry knows that it’s time to talk.

“Louis, for Christ’s sake,” Harry mumbles, his forehead pressed against the bathroom door. “I know you’re not shitting. Would you stop acting like a child, please?”

A farting sound comes through the door, which makes Harry roll his eyes. “Wow, that sounds suspiciously like one of your talented armpit farts. It’s almost like you’re not actually on the toilet right now.”

“Harry,” Louis sighs. “What if I actually was taking a crap? You’d feel pretty stupid, yeah.”

“Well, are you?”

“No,” Louis admits. Finally, the bathroom door opens up to reveal a sheepish looking Louis. He’s shirtless, one arm wrapped around his own waist like a shield. “We should probably talk.”

Harry nods, but doesn’t make any move to leave the bathroom. “Can we take a bath?” he asks. “And you can tell me why you’ve been acting so weird lately.”

As Louis starts running the water, Harry tries to keep his mind free of worry over what Louis will say next. It doesn’t work, necessarily, but he makes the attempt anyway. When the tub is filled and loaded with bubble bath, Louis starts taking off his clothes, so Harry follows suit. They both fit inside like puzzle pieces, facing each other with their legs tangled. There are deep creases in Louis’ face, and Harry can’t believe he didn’t notice how nervous Louis was before.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

Louis laughs self-deprecatingly. “Um, so, the thing is. I’ve been going to Haven for years, but I’ve never actually had sex there? Or, uh, even taken my clothes off.”

Harry blinks once, twice, and then says, “Really?”

He’d been expecting something much worse, but he doesn’t tell Louis that.

“I don’t feel comfortable showing people everything. I know that’s hypocritical, since almost all the subs I’ve been with get naked, but I’ve never been okay with doing that at Haven.”

“You don’t have to,” Harry says immediately. He’d always imagined that they would have sex at Haven, but this is the only thing Louis’ ever asked for, and Harry would be a shit boyfriend if he turned that down. “You’ve done that before, gotten me off without taking your clothes off.”

Louis nods, biting his lip. “Right, but. I want to. That’s the—that’s the problem. I want to do whatever will make you happy, I want to give you everything I have,” Louis’ cheeks turn a dusty pink color, to Harry’s delight. “I just need my brain to cooperate.”

“If it makes you uncomfortable, though,” Harry says. “I don’t want you to do that.”

The gesture still makes his heart skip a beat.

“I do, I want to,” Louis shakes his head. “I’ve wanted to for a while, but I never knew the right person until I met you.”

Now they’re both blushing, shy and smiley. Harry feels like he’s being thrown back to when he was seven and had his first crush. “I love you,” Harry says around a grin. “But I want you to think about this before you do it. And your rules apply to you too, you know? If you want to stop anything, just tell me. I would never expect you to do something that you don’t like.”

Louis nods a few times, and closes his eyes. “Let’s just cuddle. I can think later.”

+

They do end up at Haven eventually.

Louis finds his usual spot—still untouched even though he hasn’t been here to do any scenes for months now—and sets down his bag. “I’m going to get some water,” Louis tells Harry. “Want to come?”

“Do I wanna come?” Harry wiggles his eyebrows ridiculously. “Why, of course.”

Louis shakes his head, but Harry sees him crack a smile when he’s not facing him anymore.

Niall is working at the bar tonight, and he’s busy talking with another familiar face.

“Liam!” Harry says, before he realizes that it’s rude to interrupt people’s conversations. He’s missed Liam, in a weird sort of way, since he’s the one that showed him what being a sub is like.

Liam looks up when his name is called, and then his eyes are brightening. “Harry, right?” he asks, smiling when Harry nods. “You’re back! Thought I scared you away for a while, there.”

“Nope,” Harry beams. “But I regret to inform you that Louis is officially off the market.”

Liam raises his eyebrows, looking at Louis who is trying to appear stern, and actually looking fond. “Really?” he grins, smacking Niall’s arm to get his attention. “Hey, Louis’ got a boyfriend.”

Niall pauses in filling a beer from the tap, and Harry is sure that he’ll let it flow over. “No shit! Good on you, man. I’ll have to talk to Harry here more often then.”

“Not necessary,” Louis says. “You’ll tell him something embarrassing.”

“Nah, mate, I’ll save that for your wedding,” Niall winks at Harry. “What’s the craic? Why’re ya’ back here?”

Harry fumbles with his shirt collar, his cheeks going red. For one day, just one day, he’d like to not blush wildly at any mention of sex. “Erm, we’re gonna do a scene.”

Liam has the distinct look of a proud mother when he hears it. “That’s nice. He’s treating you right, yeah? You’re not doing it just to make him happy?”

Harry laughs. “No, definitely not,” he looks at Louis and they speak with their eyes for a moment, before Harry says, “If anything, Louis’ the one pushing himself now.”

Niall and Liam glance at each other, seemingly understanding what he’s talking about. “We’ll make sure no one stares too hard,” Liam says. “Don’t worry.”

“‘M not worrying,” Louis grumbles, eyes shifting. “Anyway, I’d like some water.”

“Yes, sir,” Niall rolls his eyes, pouring two glasses. “Bring Harry around to my place sometime, we can all have a party or whatever.”

“If the pants stay on, sure,” Louis jeers. “I know how your parties go.”

Niall wiggles his eyebrows wildly the entire time it takes for Louis and Harry to walk back over to their section. When they turn around, they see Liam smacking him on the arm. “I like them,” Harry says with a nod.

“Great,” Louis says sarcastically. “Now you’re all going to team up against me.”

A particularly loud moan from a girl to their right reminds them why they’re here. Louis sets the water glasses on the side table, kicking his bag underneath it. “How do you want to do this, then? I don’t know if you knew, but this table kind of sits up, like a bed,” Louis says, adjusting it so the cushioned surface bends in the middle and slants at the top. “Or, you know, you can move the table and just stand. Or… Anything you want, really.”

Harry grips his bottom lip between two fingers. “Um, the slanted table is fine. Then with my hands tied to the poles?”

Louis nods in agreement, helping Harry sit up on the table. It’s more comfortable than it looks, some kind of memory foam underneath the protective cover, and when he sits atop it, Harry gains a new perspective of Haven. He’s no longer a bystander, he’s here and he’s doing this. Harry forces himself to stop thinking about it, lest he start getting cold feet.

Thankfully, Louis seems less worried than before—though he’d never admit he was in the first place. Harry wouldn’t be able to go through with this if both of them were nervous.

Louis spares no glances at anyone who may or may not be watching them as he lifts Harry’s arms and pulls his shirt off. Harry tries not to pay attention to anyone else, either, but he catches the gaze of a young looking guy who winks at Harry and then turns away. Knowing that people are watching him sends his heart into backflips.

When Harry is stripped completely, Louis bends down and starts taking their supplies out of the bag. They could’ve used ones from Haven, but Louis told him that it’s better if he’s familiar with something while he’s trying so many new things.

Harry takes a good look at his surroundings, straining his ears to take in everything he can. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be deprived for, so he tries to memorize it now. The crinkle of the duffel bag, the scratch of the rope, the clinking of the water glasses.

Harry licks his lips nervously. “All good?” he asks when Louis takes a while.

“Yeah, trying to decide what order I want to do this in.”

Harry waits patiently, watching Louis unravel the rope slowly, setting out the blindfold and the noise-cancelling headphones. He grabs those first, handing them to Harry. “I want you to put these on and try to talk, so you won’t freeze if you need to red-out.”

Harry feels a little silly, putting on the bulky headphones when they haven’t started the scene yet, but he admits it’s a good idea.

The world goes completely silent as soon as the headphones are situated over his ears. All he can hear is his own blood rushing through his veins, and it’s slightly unnerving. He takes calming breaths until he’s used to it, watching Louis look on worriedly. Harry blinks a few times, and then opens his mouth. He starts with what he thinks is a whisper—he wouldn’t want to accidentally yell and disrupt everyone. “Red,” he mouths. Louis points his finger up, so Harry says it again, louder. “Red.”

This time, Louis gives him a thumbs up, so Harry repeats it a few times until he thinks he’s got the volume down. It’s weird, speaking without being able to hear it himself. He feels the vibration of it in his temples, the movement of his lips, but he can’t hear a thing.

Louis gestures for him to take them off, so he does, leaving them hanging around his neck.

“How are you feeling about this?” Louis asks. “Still like it?”

Harry nods. “It’s good. I should use these when I’m meditating.”

Louis scoffs. “Only you would think about meditating in the middle of a scene.”

Harry gives him a cheesy smile, waiting for what comes next.

“Okay, do you still want the ropes? I don’t want to overwhelm you.”

“That’s kind of the point,” Harry laughs. “The ropes are fine.”

Louis takes the newly detangled ropes and loops them around the first pole, then around Harry’s left wrist. It’s the right side of scratchy and soft, a tight pressure that increases as Louis winds the rope around a few times. Harry flexes his fingers and waits patiently for Louis to tighten it. Louis then ties his right wrist to the other pole, and both his hands to each other. Like usual, Harry tests the binds and smiles when he can’t move more than an inch.

“Can you run through what you want me to do one more time?” Louis asks.

“You can do, like, whatever you want,” Harry says. “You know what I like.”

“Yeah, but I mean—Sex wise,” Louis says. “How far are we going?”

“It’s up to you, Louis, I’m fine with anything you give me.”

Louis putters around for another few seconds, before biting his lip and saying, “I’m taking off my clothes now, yeah?”

Harry smiles softly, watching Louis carefully remove clothing item after clothing item, starting with his socks, and ending with his boxers. Harry doesn’t bother looking around the room to see if others are staring, and neither does Louis. It's good to see Louis focused on them, not on the fears he had before coming here.

Louis catches Harry’s eyes and pulls a funny face, lightening the moment just like that. He walks back over to the table, looking much more like his collected, confident self. “I’m about to put your headphones on again, what color are you?”

“Green,” Harry says instantly. He tilts his head up a little, pouting. “Can I have a kiss first?”

Though he rolls his eyes, Louis holds both of Harry’s cheeks tenderly as he kisses him. He only lets Harry feel his lips for a mere few seconds, pulling back and ignoring his whine of disappointment.

Louis reaches for the headphones wrapped around his neck, and Harry says, “Wait!” which makes an alarmed expression spread across Louis’ face. “Nothing bad, just. If I get embarrassing… Like, if I’m too loud?” Harry blushes. “Please stop me. Tap on my shoulder or something, don’t let me be the whiniest person in Haven history.”

“But I like it when you’re loud,” Louis laughs. When Harry glares at him, Louis acquiesces. “ Fine , if you feel me tap on your shoulder a couple times, that means you’re being a bit loud. Okay? Ready for the headphones?”

Harry nods, focusing one last time on the buzzing of the air conditioner, the cracking of whips, the moans. “I’m ready,” he says.

Louis slips the headphones over Harry’s ears, blocking out absolutely every noise in the room except his own breathing. The blood rush is there, same as before, but louder, as his heart picks up speed. Harry can see the blindfold sitting on the edge of the table, and his breath catches when Louis reaches for it.

First, though, Louis gestures at his own eye, makes a heart with his hands, and points to Harry. It’s such a dorky thing to do, but it's one of the reasons Harry fell in love with him. He says, “I love you,” back, and hopes it wasn’t too loud. Louis smiles, and then picks up the blindfold again.

He puts it on slowly, either waiting for Harry’s approval or trying to tease him, Harry doesn’t know. One second, Harry can see everything Haven has to offer, and the next, he’s blinded.

As soon as Louis’ deft hands are done tying the fabric, he stops touching him, leaving Harry hyper aware of the goosebumps on his skin and the movement of his body as he breaths. The places where his thighs are touching the soft mattress feel like they’re burning, with nothing else for him to concentrate on. Harry can’t think when his mind is racing so fast, yet he’s confined to his own thoughts because of his lack of senses. He wouldn’t know if there were fifty people standing around him, nor if Louis had just gotten up and left.

This thought has him pulling on the ropes, whining lowly. Still, Louis doesn’t show any signs of being nearby.

Harry tries to think rationally. He knows his perception of time is skewed, but it feels like he’s been left to his own thoughts for ages. Louis wouldn’t do that, would he? He surely wouldn’t leave. Louis must be watching him, planning what to do next. Harry shivers, from uncertainty and excitement.

More time passes. Harry instinctively tries to listen for movement, and nearly panics when he can’t hear anything. Behind the blindfold, he feels his eyes starting to get wet. He hopes Louis can’t tell.

Abruptly, a sensation that Harry can’t place dances across the skin of his hips. Without context, he can’t tell what it is, until— holy fuck , that’s cold. That’s ice, definitely, and Louis is dragging it unbearably slowly over his sensitive body. Harry’s mouth opens, but he can’t be sure if he lets any noise out or not. The warmth he feels when Louis’ finger brushes against him contrasts the frigid ice and sends shocks through his entire body.

Just as soon as the ice appeared, it’s gone again. Harry prepares himself for another long stretch of loneliness, but something else takes its place almost instantly. It’s not as distinctive of a feeling as ice is, and it leaves him stumped until he registers the vibration. Louis drags the, presumably, vibrator across Harry’s hips, the dips of his thighs, skirting around Harry’s dick enough to get him hard without relief. Harry squirms and bites his lip until it’s puffy, trying to keep his legs from shaking. Louis holds the vibrator down just centimeters away from where Harry wants it most, and even though Harry can’t hear anything, he knows Louis is laughing at him.

It’s so intense, more intense than Harry ever imagined. He wonders what he looks like, tied up and deprived of the two most useful human senses. His cheeks are red, his lips swollen, and he can’t be sure that he’s staying quiet. Harry can only imagine how ruined he must look, all from an ice cube and a vibrator steadily buzzing against his thighs.

Louis puts his hand flat on Harry’s tummy, making him jump. He’s still moving the vibrator in circles, and it’s sending Harry into a frenzy. He needs Louis to do something, he won’t be able to sit here and take these random sensations for hours. Harry thinks he lets out a frustrated whine, and then suddenly the hand that was pressing against Harry’s belly is now wrapped completely around his cock.

“Louis,” he feels himself gasp, no longer worried about how loud he is or how he might be perceived by other people.

Louis kisses his cheek and starts moving his hand. It feels like an out of body experience, where Harry can’t reconcile the touch with his other senses. Louis is stroking him too fast for his brain to catch up, and all he can do is whimper. Louis completely ignores him and keeps going at the same pace, rubbing his thumb harshly over the head and then—Oh shit.

The buzzing moves from Harry’s pelvis to directly over his cock, pressed up against it. Louis fists both, and Harry imagines that his small hands, even when combined, can’t fully wrap around everything. He simultaneously wishes he could see it, and wants to keep his blindfold on forever.

It’s all so new, every single bit of it. He’s never felt a vibrator on his dick before, didn’t even know that’s a thing. It all feels intimate this way, even more than when they are truly alone at the house. As far as Harry is concerned, right now there is nothing in the world except this, right now.

Harry is dangerously close to coming, and there’s nothing he can do about it. Louis never told him that he had to say when he’s close, and he doesn’t think he could form words if he tried. His mouth feels like cotton, but he opens it anyway, muttering something that could vaguely be construed as, “Come.”

Whether Louis understands or not is debateable, but he removes his hands and the vibrator either way.

Harry tries to calm himself while he waits for more contact, but he’s feeling a little fuzzy and it proves to be impossible. His heart is simply pounding too fast to be relaxed.

Both of Louis’ hands land gently on Harry’s thighs. He pushes them up so his feet are flat on the cushion and his bum is right at the edge of it. His hands are only gone for a second before they’re back, slick with oil, and massaging his bum. Harry shivers.

Louis works his way from the bottom of Harry’s spine to between his cheeks, only giving his hole the barest of touches before circling back up and digging his knuckles into the softest part of Harry’s, admittedly small, bum. The tip of Louis’ finger dips inside him, but is removed again before Harry can even react. Then it comes back, pressing more insistently, until Louis’ got a full finger in him. It’s overwhelming for Harry, the feeling tripled in intensity due to his lack of distraction. He’s so hyper focused on Louis’ hands that when Louis’ arm brushes against his leg, he can even feel Louis’ goosebumps.

Louis’ finger curls inside him, gently feeling around. Harry waits with bated breath, knowing that it’s about to brush—

“Fuck,” Harry feels his throat vibrate against the word, as Louis rubs over his prostate firmly. He wishes his hands were free so he could put a finger in his mouth and shut himself up; he can feel the noises he’s making while Louis continues to finger him. While Harry rolls his hips, Louis slips a second finger in, stretching his tight rim. He alternates pressure on and off his spot, never staying long enough for Harry to feel calmed by it. Harry mumbles, wanting Louis to get on with it before he comes too early. He’s nearly tipped over the edge when Louis puts the vibrator snug against his cock again. Harry groans painfully while clenching his hands to delay his orgasm. He thinks he says something like, “Lou!” rather pitifully.

Louis takes the vibrator away from his skin once again, giving Harry only moments to breathe before his fingers are slipping out of his hole and the thin vibrator, now lubed, is taking their place.

And that’s all he does.

As soon as the buzzing length is inside Harry all the way, Louis removes all physical contact and, presumably, takes a step back. Harry breathes out shakily, waiting for Louis to come back, except he doesn’t . Time is distorted inside his brain. The only thing Harry can “see” is an image of a clock, the hands spinning so fast they become blurred. Nothing will slow down until Harry can feel Louis again.

It’s completely overwhelming, feeling so powerless with no means to stop it. Harry can’t help but sniffle, his eyes going a bit teary. He assumes that Louis will step in now that he sees him about to cry, but still, Harry is alone.

He starts to wonder if Louis has left. How humiliating it would be to get untied by a stranger, abandoned and afraid. Harry’s breath catches and suddenly he’s crying, desperate whines escaping his mouth that he’s sure are falling on deaf ears. Louis wouldn’t leave him alone for this long, would he? Has it even been long at all? Harry can’t trust his own mind anymore.

Harry is so trapped in his thoughts that he almost doesn’t register the feeling on his cheek, a gentle thumb rubbing over the wet skin. It only makes him cry harder when he realizes, his sobs turning to thankful, relieved ones. Louis doesn’t need words to say, I love you, I’m here, you’re alright. His touch says enough.

Harry had barely allowed himself time to feel the vibrator in him, the sensation crashing over him when he’s finally brought back to Earth. It’s hard to breathe when the buzzing is so strong against his most sensitive spot. He wants more than anything for it to be taken out, so he can be filled up by Louis , only Louis, but he keeps it there anyway.

When Harry has been calmed by Louis’ touch, when he is the most complacent and malleable, that’s when Louis brings his hand down to strike his thigh, sending shockwaves of pain throughout his entire body. Harry feels himself jerk forward, his thoughts being replaced by a constant stream of static, as if he were a television that someone cut the cable to. There’s no time for him to recover, Louis repeatedly spanking any sensitive parts that he can reach. It’s worse, much worse, than any spanking Harry’s been given before, as all of it is done on the parts that hurt the most, never where he’s used to it.

Harry has trouble sucking air through his lungs and he feels like he needs to think about his heart beating or he’ll flatline.

Of course, just when Harry considers saying, “Yellow,” Louis stops. There is the unmistakable feeling of Louis’ lips pressed to his thigh, cooling the hot skin under it. Louis’ hands stretch around both thighs as he kisses up and down them—Harry assumes that, like always, Louis will avoid his dick to tease him further, but he should truly learn to stop expecting things from Louis, because his tongue is dragging over the head of Harry’s cock before his brain can even comprehend it.

They’ve never done this before. And it’s not because Louis has some complex about how he shouldn’t have to give Harry a blowjob, it’s just—it hasn’t occurred.

The new sensation is enough for Harry to unwillingly let go of all the built up tension in his body, coming in Louis’ mouth before he can begin to warn him or even apologize. To his great surprise, Louis doesn’t pull off, doesn’t punish him, just continues sucking at the head while Harry comes.

He keeps his mouth on him for too long after, and Harry realizes— that’s his punishment.

Louis licks up and around the head, while Harry softens in his palm. He’s not sure if he’s supposed to get hard again, or if that’s the complete opposite of what Louis wants from him. He’s afraid that he ruined it, now, and it hurts, having Louis sucking him as if he didn’t come moments ago. “Louis,” he whines, repeating himself. “Louis.”

Louis does stop, but Harry doubts it was because of anything he said.

Harry gets the idea that Louis is done touching his cock, and that he should have thought of that before coming without permission.

The vibrator is still inside him, buzzing. Harry never thought it was possible to feel so uncomfortable and yet so turned on, but he’s here, and it’s happening.

Louis pulls it out with no warning, painful because the lube has mostly dried around it. Harry can feel rather than hear himself moaning. His hole flutters around nothing and Harry doesn’t think he needs anymore prep, but still feels Louis’ fingers slipping in. He wants to shout at him—just fuck me—but Louis is enjoying teasing him, prodding his prostate and adding more and more lube, probably making a humiliatingly loud, wet noise now that Harry can’t even hear.

When Louis’ fingers pull out, Harry holds his breath. He knows that the next thing inside him will be Louis, finally Louis.

It takes ages, though, so long that Harry starts wondering if Louis has lost the nerve. He almost wants to ask if he’s okay, tell him they can stop, but—Oh.

Nothing could prepare him for the feeling of Louis fucking into him. There’s quite literally nothing else he can see or hear or feel than Louis, Louis, Louis. “Oh, fuck,” he gasps, hands clenching in the ropes. “Louis, shit.”

Louis’ hips hit Harry’s bum, stretched out and still wanting more. Harry wants it to hurt, wants Louis to fuck him so hard he cries .

Louis always knows what he needs, a borderline mind reader; Harry can hardly breathe when Louis starts to fuck him in earnest, his fingernails digging into his thighs, the skin still red-hot from his earlier spanking.

Harry can barely even register the pain, his head spinning even when all he can see is black.

The head of Louis’ cock catches on his rim when he pulls back, thrusting in with increasingly stronger force. Harry almost wishes he could hear the sounds of it, the skin slapping together messily, but not being able to hear anything is centering Harry’s thoughts on just the feeling.

It hurts; Harry is hard again, and he’s not sure if it would be more or less painful to touch it. Either way, Louis’ made it clear that if Harry wants to come, it will be with no help from him. When Louis changes angles, his cock hitting exactly where he needs it to, Harry imagines that he won’t need help at all. The noises he’s making are probably obscene, considering Louis knows to keep pounding in at that angle.

Louis takes one of his hands off Harry’s thigh, and Harry has no time to wonder where it’s gone before it’s in his hair, tugging at the curls painfully. Harry cries out, feeling his eyes getting wet beneath the blindfold. It’s so much, so intense: the pulling, Louis’ rough nails digging into bruised thighs, his dick feeling far too sensitive to come again yet desperate for it anyway, his hole stretching around Louis’ hard cock. Harry is completely powerless, and he’s never been more turned on in his life.

It all comes to a peak when Louis comes inside him, never giving him a warning, just pushing in so far that it hurts and then releasing. Harry feels so used, his come filling him up and dripping out when Louis steps back.

Harry himself must come too, because there’s a warm liquid on his tummy that wasn’t there before, but Harry doesn’t even feel it. He’s up in the clouds. And he knows his body must be in pain, but he feels nothing except an indescribable bliss starting at his core and spreading warmly through his body.

It could last five minutes or five hours, Harry doesn’t know. It’s strange because he can feel himself thinking, but he can’t decipher what he’s thinking about—and his sense of touch is completely out of the question. He doesn’t feel like a person anymore, as if his brain was removed and sent up in the air like a balloon.

It’s a massive shock when his headphones are taken off, exposing his ears to the loud noises of Haven. Harry whines, shaking his head. It’s too much.

Louis puts the headphones back on, and waits a moment before taking just one ear out. When Harry doesn’t actively protest, he takes it off entirely.

Harry can vaguely hear his own name being called, in a sweet sing-songy way. It’s startling—the first words he’s heard in what could potentially be hours—and yet, hearing Louis’ voice immediately floods him with a wave of relief. He whines pitifully, wanting to hold Louis, but unable to move his arms. His eyes are screwed shut, but he finds that when he opens them, he can see again. Louis must have taken off his blindfold when he was floating. The light is harsh, forcing him to close his eyes again. “Lou,” he mumbles. Before he finishes uttering the word, Louis is untying him, skillful fingers freeing him within seconds. Louis doesn’t let them fall; he grasps Harry around the wrists as soon as he starts to slump.

“Baby,” Louis murmurs, helping Harry into a more comfortable sitting position. “How do you feel?”

Harry peeks his eyes open, the light seeming slightly softer. “Good,” he says. “Cuddle.”

“Of course, love,” Louis says. He climbs up next to him, sliding Harry’s thighs on top of his own so there’s room for both of them. Harry feels his hands moving up and down his body, so gentle because he knows Harry is overwhelmed. “Are you back with me?”

Harry doesn’t know what he means, so he just nods. When he opens his eyes again, Louis is laughing like he doesn’t believe him.

“Right, well, we’ve got plenty of time to cuddle. Stay under for as long as you want.”

The words sound foggy, like Harry is in a dream. That long of a sentence doesn’t make sense in Harry’s mind. “Okay,” he says, and nuzzles his head in Louis’ shoulder. Louis wraps his arms around him, and Harry feels a kiss in his curls.

“Love you, baby. You did really, really well. Everything was so good for me.”

Harry preens, hiding his blushing cheeks by snuggling harder into Louis.

Louis stays silent after that, but never stops kissing Harry anywhere he can reach.

Slowly, Harry starts to feel more like himself, not as if his body is flying closer and closer to the sun. He feels Louis’ touch more acutely; the arms holding him, the lips pressed to his skin, the feet tangled with Harry’s own. He can’t even begin to think about speaking yet, but Louis seems to understand.

Harry only knows he’s out of subspace when he realizes that there are people around them, that it’s not just Louis and Harry in the world. His eyes blink open, taking note of the Haven regulars milling about or participating in scenes. They watched me , Harry thinks. It sends shivers up and down his spine. “Lou,” he sighs happily. “They watched.”

“They did,” Louis softly laughs. “They heard you, too.”

“Oh,” Harry moans, pouting. “I was loud?”

“Loud all for me,” Louis preens. “Everyone here can look but no one can ever touch. All mine.”

He’s never seen Louis like this before. So dominant and fucked-out and loving. He wonders if there’s such a thing as subspace for doms, or he supposes it wouldn’t be called sub space, but. If it is real, Harry is sure that Louis is in it.

“Lou?” Harry asks. “Did I do good?”

“Of course,” Louis says. He shifts his body so Harry is more comfortably resting on his lap. He puts his hands in Harry’s curls, tangled from so much activity, and starts brushing them with his fingers. “You’re the best I’ve ever had. The only person I’d ever want to do this with.”

A smug smile washes over Harry’s face. “Me too. You’re the only one I want, ever.”

They stay in comfortable silence for a moment before Harry starts feeling restless. Going from intense pain to being cuddled is hard for him to comprehend. “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure of what?”

“Are you sure I was good?” Harry bites his lip.

“Baby, of course I’m sure. I love you, and that was an amazing scene. Was I good for you ?”

“Duh,” Harry drawls. “You’re always good.”

Louis hums with a frown. “No, I mean, what did you like? What should I not do next time? It’s important for me to know, H.”

That’s reasonable, Harry thinks, but his brain is far too tired and overwhelmed at the moment for him to extract any memories from it. “Maybe later,” he whispers, feeling drowsy. “Want to sleep now.”

+

Harry finds himself on the couch when he comes to. He feels cleaner—the come on his body is gone, and when he shifts his hips as a test, he can tell Louis cleaned him up there too.

He sees Louis standing nearby, digging through the bag they brought. When he tilts his head up and sees Harry’s eyes open, he jokes, “Welcome back to the land of the living,” And kisses his warm cheek. “Was just about to wake you. Here, you need some water.”

He tips the water glass up to Harry’s parted lips, waiting for him to swallow a few times before setting it down. Harry is reminded of Louis doing the same thing for Liam—and others, too, that Harry hadn’t seen—and can’t help feeling a little pleased with himself. No one except Harry will ever receive this treatment from Louis again. “Thanks,” he says, wiping his mouth. “Did you bring the snacks I like?”

He can’t even finish the sentence, Louis already holding out a packet of trail mix with extra M&Ms. Harry smiles, then wiggles his fingers for Louis to come sit with him.

Louis slips on a pair of joggers first, making Harry pout. “What’s the point? They’ve all seen it!”

Louis rolls his eyes and plops down right on top of Harry, hogging the blanket while he steals the snack. “You’re a menace,” Harry says. “You’re supposed to be taking care of me.”

“Am I not?” Louis asks, semi-seriously.

“‘Course you are,” Harry whispers, leaning in as if to kiss him, at the last second snatching the trail mix back. “Ask nicely and I’ll give you an M&M.”

Louis laughs, batting his eyelashes. “Oh, master , please!”

Harry blinks, his brain still a little slow to comprehend things. He can’t believe he got so lucky, is the thing. That he can have a dom who isn’t trying to act manly all the time, someone who can always make him laugh and can take better care of Harry than he could ever imagine. Someone who doesn’t look down on him for being a sub, or push him past his limits, or do anything Harry doesn’t like. Someone who overcomes his own fears to please Harry. He doesn’t want anyone except Louis, for the rest of his life.

“I love you,” Harry says, laughing. “And you can have the damn trail mix.”