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Computer Hope


And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive

Lorde - Team

It was enrolment day at Guildhall Performing Arts Private University and as expected, it was hectic.

Louis had spent the entire day signing forms, confirming his identity via his passport and his driving license despite having spent the past two years here and taking a new photo for his ID badge. He smiled at all the same faculty staff he had become accustomed to in the past years who barely mustered a twitch of their lips. He was passed his lanyard and his photo card roughly, pushed along for the next student. Louis gritted his teeth. Welcome back to university.

He made his way down to the lecture hall where he was scheduled to spend the next hour listening to his professor, Patrick, drone on. Patrick was the head of the theatre department. He was a failed theatre actor, forced into a teaching job and despised it considering how he always turned up unbothered and bored.

Upon entering the hall, he immediately spotted Zayn right in the top right corner and made his way up there. He kept his gaze casted downwards, not wanting to draw unwanted attention towards himself as he shuffled up the steps and slid into the spare seat besides Zayn.

Zayn was wearing sunglasses indoors himself, his face buried in his orientation week leaflet and barely addressed Louis sitting besides him. Typical. They had just said their morning greetings at their shared apartment before they went their separate ways for enrolment at the university.

The lecture hall was packed full of eager, willing few hundred students who had managed to afford the ridiculous tuition fees the private school demanded. A full time placement at this university was £20,000 compared to the usual £9,000 tuition fees for UK universities. Students flew in from all over the world to gain the opportunity to attend the most prestigious, elite performing arts school in the country. Possibly, in the world. Louis had met students from America, Australia and Japan in his past two years here. They were always focused, geared up to perform.

Everyone was here solely for one reason: to succeed and to be the best. Everyone was in competition with each other, making the environment vicious.

Louis scowled at each student strolling into the lecture hall, wide eyed and toothy grins. He considered each person a personal threat.

“More packed than last year,” Zayn commented idly, not looking up from the leaflet he had been memorising for the past few minutes.

Zayn was the least ambitious student in the theatre class. He had only accepted the acting lessons because he had received a scholarship but was also granted to do a joint honours with Art. His true talent was painting, drawing–anything artistic. He was forced to attend the acting classes due to his obligations with his scholarship. Therefore, he hardly paid attention in classes and often, failed to turn up.

Louis frowned, observing the packed room once more. “I know, man.”

“Must be more exchange students.”

“Fucksakes.”

“That one’s pretty hot, though,” Zayn whistled low in his throat, pointing out a girl with beautiful features, blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair that reached past her waist. She was walking around, trying to find a spare seat.

Louis observed her for a minute before tearing his eyes away. “Yeah. Not bad.”

“Not bad? She’s bloody—"

Just then, Patrick walked into the room. He was wearing a bored expression, his smile lazy and his eyes weary as he set down his bag and coffee mug on the table. He barely acknowledged the hundreds of students in the seats, not looking up as he started up the computer and typed in his password. Classic Patrick.

Louis took the opportunity to glance around the lecture hall, once again, trying to observe his rivals. He wanted to see if he could recognise anybody from last year or whether they had all dropped out due to the demanding nature of the course. Surely enough, he spotted Nick. Occasional fuck buddy, always dominant and it was fucking hot. He saw a few girls that had sucked his dick once. He recognised a group of rowdy boys he’d seen in the past two years but never talked to.

Then he saw Harry Styles.

Harry Styles was sitting in the middle of the hall, his hands clutching his iPhone and he typed away furiously. Even by just a glance, Louis felt his mood deflating further as he continued to glare. He resented Harry, always had and that wasn’t going to change this year.

Harry Styles was the biggest threat to his career so far. He was from a wealthy background, the name ‘Styles’ well known among the students and staff here. The teachers respected him, gave him special treatment due to his name. He was talented since he had money to waste on classes besides just university based ones. He had a spark in his eyes, it was ignited every time he was performing. Harry understood complex roles on a level Louis could never comprehend and it made him burn with jealousy.

On top of all that, he was so fucking attractive that it made Louis’ heart ache. He had a figure worth drooling over–tall, lean legs and thick thighs, small waist and sharp jawline. He had the most beautiful luscious long curly hair that were tight ringlets around his baby ears. However, this year, he had cut it all off and now, it was short. What a shame. Louis preferred his long hair, it gave him character.

Most of all though, Harry had the most gorgeous striking green eyes. They were bambi-like, wide and full of innocence and bright. They glistened under the light and they portrayed his emotions that he wore on his sleeves.

Harry was bursting with ambition and dreams. Luckily, he had the name and the money to make it happen, unlike Louis.

Therefore it was only natural that they had been rivals since the first day they met in their first year of university. Louis had considered him a threat and Harry lived up to his label, proved himself by improving every single week and climbing the list of favourites. They both equally despised each other, Harry avoided him and Louis silently cursed him out in his head every single day.

Harry Styles turned around to talk to the guy behind him and in the process, his eyes filtered up and reached Louis’. Their gazes locked. Harry’s relaxed expression melted right off, replaced with jaw clenched, eyes narrowed.

He raised his brow at Louis in question and Louis didn’t bother to retaliate, simply turning away and focusing his attention elsewhere.

Patrick finally tapped the microphone to gain everybody’s attention, chuckling nervously into the speaker and causing the cringe-worthy sound to broadcast all over the room.

“Well, wow,” Patrick muttered, pushing the glasses higher on his nose. “On behalf of the entire theatre department, welcome to Guildhall Performing Arts university. We’re an established, private university for the talented.”

Louis rolled his eyes. He had heard the same speech two years in a row and again for the third, final year. It was always the same recycled rubbish each faculty staff used around here to boost up their university.

Everyone viewed Guildhall as an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity. Whoever was lucky enough to pass the vigorous application process was set for life, they no longer had to worry about their future. Everyone was convinced attending here and graduating from Guildhall meant they were on a pathway straight to undeniable success. Which was true, to some extent. But everyone failed to acknowledge the pressure, the competitiveness and the sacrifices that came with attending such a school.

And if you were the fortunate scholarship student, one of the only five out of hundreds, you were supposed to worship the school and each professor possible for the chance to prove yourself and to thank them profusely for the opportunity. You were beneath everybody else. Everybody considered you scum, looked down upon you and treated you differently due to your painfully obvious lack of status.

Louis knew because he was a scholarship student himself. He felt the pressure to prove himself, to be thankful for everybody and their mother for the chance to attend here. He felt resentment. It ran deep within his veins, kindled something ugly within him. He wasn’t grateful, not at all. Not when this university had managed to ruin his life and turn him into a person he certainly never used to be.

The need for success could ruin a person.

Patrick continued to ramble on, flicking through the enrolment presentation quickly and not allowing any student enough time to jot the notes down. They all collectively groaned but Patrick didn’t slow down.

“Okay, hands up if you’re an UK resident student.” Patrick asked, walking around from the desk and towards the steps. The majority of hands shot up in the air, including Louis and Zayn’s. “Okay, nice. EU students?” A selective hands went up. “Abroad from America, Australia, Asia–anywhere else?” Less hands this time. Patrick grinned, nodding to himself. “This is brilliant, I love having a good range.” He walked back down and then turned to the presentation again. “Now, I’m going to discuss this year in more detail. You’ll then be required to sign onto your optional module choices.”

Patrick started talking again and Louis zoned out, more interested in silently eating his packet of crisps and fiddling with the loose string hanging from his jeans. Zayn was distracted too, using his mobile phone underneath the desk.

“Brian wants to fuck,” he sniggered under his breath, waggling his brows at Louis.

Louis rolled his eyes, not paying any heed to Zayn. He didn’t have the time to pay attention to Zayn’s tragic sex life and instead, looked down at Harry again.

Harry was sitting at the edge of his seat, his hands flying over his laptop as he tried to get down each detail. Fucking nerd. Harry always came to the lessons prepared, jotting down every single letter from the presentation even though it wasn’t necessary.

“The main assessment, the majority of your grade, will be the play third year students perform at the local theatre in Kensington.” Patrick said loudly, instantly drawing Louis’ attention, his head snapping up. “The play has already been written and produced by myself and the rest of the department and the selective few will be lucky to represent the play. The rest that aren’t selected will write a dissertation instead.”

Louis hadn’t been aware of this. He had no idea they were performing a play. They always did plays, it was part of their degree but never in a local theatre. With an actual audience of pretentious rich snobs. The concept made him jittery in his seat, unable to rest as his mind filtered back to the image of him onstage. It was all he ever wanted.

“How boring,” was Zayn’s only response, snorting.

“Why don’t you go and shove a paintbrush up your ass?” Louis glared at him which only prompted Zayn to burst out laughing.

Everyone’s heads turned towards the two of them.

**


I don't need no money
As long as I keep dancing
Sia - Cheap Thrills

A new year in Guildhall meant the endless opportunities for freshers events. They always threw the best parties, partnered up with the most exclusive clubs and planned extravagant events. Louis made sure to attend every single one, knew it was his only chance of sanity before he lost himself in the year of work.

That was how they found themselves standing outside a club in Soho, dressed in all black according to the dress code and lining up with the other university students. The first year students looked nervous, chattering amongst each other and often lapsing into long pauses of silence.

When Louis had first started Guildhall, he expected everybody to be absorbed in their affairs and not interested in partying. He had imagined he’d struggle to make friends and communicate with others since he’d be the only selective few to attend the parties. However, he was proved terribly wrong.

The students that attended Guildhall partied the most. They needed the thrill, they needed the buzz that came from drugs and the relaxation that they received from the alcohol. These were the students who were pushed out of their comfort zones, forced to work under high pressure and had to maintain an utmost, perfect image of themselves to impress their families who were throwing money left and right to afford Guildhall. The students who were forced to keep a pokerface despite the immense stress that burdened them were the same students who came to life at the parties.

Louis always wondered if these same students would still be attending if they had known beforehand what it would be like, how it would suck the soul out of them. He wondered if they would’ve still eagerly gone through the application process and accepted the offer.

After waiting for fifteen minutes, they were granted entry and they were handed neon paint. It was a glow in the dark, neon paint party and they were ordered to smear themselves with the colour. Louis painted his face with green and yellow, sparing his clothes despite the fact that it was wash out. Zayn, on the other hand, went all out and painted designs into his shirt.

They walked over to the bar and Zayn ordered them both a round of drinks, sitting on the stools and sipping at the alcohol whilst watching the night unraveling before them.

Louis ordered them a round of shots, gulping down the tequila and bracing for the burn that followed.

When they were feeling slightly buzzed, Zayn hooked an arm around Louis’ waist and pulled him flush against his body.

“Wanna dance, jaan?” He asked, his voice raspy.

Louis nodded, leaning into the touch. “Buy me another and I’m all yours.”

Zayn handed him another fruity drink as he held Louis’ hand and guided him to the other drunken, swaying bodies. They both recognised students on the way and kept their heads down, not wanting to interact with anybody else. Zayn kept Louis close to his body as they started dancing upon each other.

Louis and Zayn had been best friends since the first day of enrolment in Guildhall in first year. Zayn was the timid yet intriguing, mysterious boy who sat in the back of every lecture and kept his headphones settled between his ears to avoid conversation. Louis remembered feeling captivated by him, walked up to him to talk to him. They fucked the same night. Zayn had Louis’ face pressed against the mattress as he pounded him from behind and they smoked the next morning, in bed together. Since then, they were best friends. Without the benefits.

Louis knew the two of them dancing looked obscene but that didn’t stop them from putting on a show. The music changed to Britney Spears and Zayn let out a laugh, throwing his head back and stretching his arms out as he started to roll his hips against Louis’.

“Come on, baby,” Louis ordered him in a playful tone, biting his tone as he moved against his body in time with the beat of the music.

Zayn held his hips, twirling him around and Louis took the hint, bending down and pressing back on Zayn’s crotch. His hands pressed roughly into Louis’ skin, probably hard enough to leave bruises, as they grinded. Louis couldn’t deny the fact that he loved it.

When they had gotten through three songs, they were tired and bored and gave up on the dancing. They returned to the bar, ordering two more drinks and making their way towards the seats. On the way though, Louis bumped into another body, sending his drink spilling over the edge.

He growled, looking up ready to shout but noticing Harry Styles standing before him.

Harry Styles was undeniably gorgeous, even when he was intoxicated, with plump shiny lips and neon paint smeared across his face. He was glowing and he looked well fucked, his hair sticking out in all directions and his cheeks flushed. Louis could only imagine what he had been up to tonight. It was no secret everyone desired Harry Styles.

“Oh.” Harry’s voice was flat, eyes dull. “It’s you.”

Louis smirked, licking his lips as he gestured to his half empty glass. “Oh, it’s you yourself, you made my spill my drink!”

“Buy another.”

“You buy me one, you split it.”

Harry rolled his eyes, pulling a few quids out of his pocket and thrusting it into Louis’ hands. He was about to move around him, walk away but Louis was tipsy and he was in the mood to get under Harry’s nerves. The alcohol was pumping through his veins, giving him a false sense of confidence that prompted him to reach over and grasp onto Harry’s forearm and halt him.

Harry’s eyes darkened, snatching his arm back like he had been burned.

“Don’t you dare touch me.” Harry warned him, his voice even but his expression displaying everything but.

Louis, however, didn’t feel the least bit threatened by the perverse tone.

“Darling..” he lazily drawled the word, looking over Harry’s shoulders briefly to watch Zayn walk away and sit down at a table. “Are you auditioning for the play?”

Harry gave him an unimpressed look. “Of course I am.”

“I should’ve guessed.”

“Performing is my life. I’d be stupid to pass up the chance to write a 10,000 word essay, instead. Idiot.” He didn’t look the slightest bit convincing.

Louis took a step forward, cutting the distance between them as his tongue flickered over the thin black straw in his glass. He bit down, sighing. “Well, that’s unfortunate because I’m planning to audition too.”

“So… do it?” Harry seemed confused.

Louis resented–absolutely fucking despised–how Harry towered over him. He had an advantage with his height and his built and he hated it. It spurred him on to act like a bigger asshole.

“I will. Don’t you worry about it.”

“Well, I hope you get the… second role,” Harry snickered, clearly amused. He was already fighting for the lead. He prepared to turn on his heel and walk away for the second time but Louis reached out again, stopping him. Harry swatted his hand this time, hard, and took two steps back. “I told you, Louis, don’t fucking touch me. I’m warning you.”

Louis’ blood turned cold and it prompted him to continue. “I just wanted to let you know, Harry. Warn you, even. I will succeed. I will get the main role and I will do better than you. You don’t scare me. You’re nothing compared to my talents. I’m warning you now.”

Harry stared at him for a few seconds, not moving or speaking before he snorted like what he had just said was truly amusing.

“Right, okay.”

Louis narrowed his eyes. “I’m serious. I’ll destroy you and your perfect, pristine teachers pet image. I’ll end you and your career. I’m here for the best, I’m here to win.”

He expected his words to have some impact, any impact, but Harry’s expression didn’t shift. He smiled a little, it was a weak one that tugged at his lips. He leaned forward, placing his lips over Louis’ straw and gulping down the remnants of Louis’ drink. Louis watched in bewilderment, his complaints stuck in his throat as his eyes were trained on Harry’s plump lips. When he pulled away, there was a hint of amusement glistening in his eyes.

Harry moved forward, his lips grazing over Louis’ ears when he whispered. “Okay, baby. I’d like to see you try.” And with that, he turned around and disappeared into the darkness of the club.

**


Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Harry felt a surge of irritation run through his bones, right down to his veins and he attempted his hardest to compose himself.

“Ma, I can’t visit home anytime soon.” He tried to explain, his voice a hushed whisper as he stood outside his classroom.

Lecture had started five minutes ago and yet, he couldn’t end the phone conversation between himself and his mother. He knew it’d only be a disaster if he dared to hang up on Anne, knowing it’d only cause further issues. He’d rather deal with her and be late for his lesson instead.

“And why the hell not, Harry?”

“I just started a new academic year this week, ma. I literally moved out two weeks ago from Surrey.”

The mere thought of visiting back home so soon made him shudder, his tight hold increasing on his phone as he felt his heart hammer against his chest. The further he was from Surrey, the safer he was. However, Anne didn’t understand the situation and therefore, couldn’t understand why Harry despised being home for more than a few hours at a time.

“Nonsense!” She retorted, her voice shrill. “I need you here, Harry. Your father is driving me mad, please.”

“Ma, I can’t afford to miss my lessons in my final year of university. Please.”

“Your professors puts all the lectures online, don’t they?” Anne was persistent, though and the touch of desperation in her tone made Harry feel weak. “You can catch up later. I just need you here.”

“You cannot be serious!”

“Don’t raise your voice at me, Harry!” Anne warned him, her voice threatening. “I will not tolerate this. If I ask you to do something for me, I expect you to listen without question. I didn’t raise you to be like this.”

Harry gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to lash out on her. He loved his mother, he really did but it was limited due to her overbearing, controlling personality. She was still the saner one out of his parents. But it didn’t mean she wasn’t pushy and relentless. Anne got what she wanted, her determined mind was hard to refuse. She was a successful fashion designer, worked day and night until her designs were known and were worn by models on the catwalk. Anne could achieve anything.

“Ma, look–” Harry attempted to compromise. “–I’ll come home in three weeks. Let me settle in, get used to my modules and the new year and then, I’ll be on the first train home.”

Anne made a sound of disapproval. “Don’t be daft. The driver will collect you from your apartment.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Ma, I can handle a train from London to Surrey, please.”

“The driver will pick you up.” Her tone was firm and didn’t allow for any room of arguments.

Harry bit his tongue to stop himself from muttering out something he’d only later regret, nodding and sighing.

“Fine, good. I gotta go, ma. My lesson started ten minutes ago.”

“Harry–”

“Goodbye!” His voice was strained and he quickly hung up, switching his phone off entirely and throwing it into his bag. He wasn’t going to let himself to be harassed with calls and texts for the rest of the day.

Harry exhaled sharply before pushing open the door. Everybody’s eyes flew to him and he gave a sheepish smile, flushing and muttering out apologises before walking to the first spare seat he could find. He was blown away by the increasing number of students joining every year, desperate to spend even a semester abroad here at Guildhall. He wondered whether it ended up being in any form rewarding.

Harry may like to see the good in people but he wasn’t naive.

Though he got along with practically everyone on his course, talked to everybody, he knew they weren’t his friends. In the end, everybody here had one end goal and that was to graduate and perform. Whether that was in theatres, musicals, on TV–acting was the goal. Everyone may of smiled and spill friendly words but Harry knew behind the scenes, they all wanted to defeat him and his natural stance of power amongst the rest.

Harry had to look elsewhere to find long-term trustworthy friends and that’s how he had found Niall and Liam. Niall was completing a music degree in university of Westminster whereas Liam was doing law at London School of Economics. They were his only faithful friends between the mess of his life.

Everyone was welcoming, though. Which he could accept. Even if he knew deep down, they were just trying to use him for his status.

Besides Louis Tomlinson. Of course.

His name alone made Harry’s blood boil, his jaw clenched involuntarily at the mention. Louis Tomlinson was inconsiderate, incompetent and impulsive which drove him to make mistakes. He was intense but also mysterious, seemed to conceal his true feelings from the real world and hide behind sarcasm and poorly executed jokes. Louis Tomlinson was enigmatic and a puzzle Harry had been trying to solve for two years now.

Louis was sitting a row below him on the right, his head buried in his hoodie, barely paying attention to Patrick who was announcing dates for specific events during the year.

Harry had always wondered how Louis managed to have top notch grades, always pulling out 90% when he barely concentrated during class. If he had managed to turn up, he was always otherwise occupied. Harry could only wish to be as smart as him.

Patrick continued to talk. “We plan to audition next week. I will email the script to you all tonight, please go through it and pick the character you’d like to represent. Memorise a scene of the character and be prepared to perform in front of me and the rest of the department. I urge you to choose wisely, only pick a character you’re sure you can pull off.”

Harry felt a nudge from behind him, poking at his shoulder blades. He bit the inside of his cheeks to refrain from slapping the person behind him, twisting his torso to face the boy better.

“What?” He snapped.

The unidentifiable man simply passed him a paper that had been carefully and nearly folded twice. He pointed to Louis who was now staring straight at him, smirking. Harry refused to meet his eyes, snatching the paper and unfolding the creases.

You’re doing down, Styles. Down, down, down.

Tomlinson x x x

On the paper, Louis had drawn a gravestone with Harry’s name written across it. Harry scowled, grabbing his pen and scribbling out the offensive drawing. He sprawled his own message in capital letters.

BRING IT ON, DICKFACE.

**

 

“What’s that?”

Lottie pointed out the wad of papers sitting on Louis’ pillow through the computer screen. She squinted her eyes like she’d be able to read the pixelated words. Louis’ eyes moved to follow her gaze, settling on the script he had been emailed by Patrick. He had been so excited that he jumped around the house, screaming at the top of his lungs and receiving a hammer to the wall by his neighbour. He had printed the script out, memorising each word already.

He was having his weekly FaceTime call with his sister. They planned out the timings and there were no excuses for missing the call. In their weekly call, they caught up with each other and what they were doing. Louis was close to all his siblings, kept a tight bond with every single one but Lottie was special. Louis and Lottie had been through the most, were able to remember the most from their traumatic experiences with the numerous men who came in and out of their lives, leaving them scarred.

Louis picked up the stack of paper and held it closer to his camera.

“It’s the play for this year, we’ll be performing it in a theatre in Kensington near the uni.”

Lottie gasped, clapping her hands. “Sick! What is the play about, huh? Is it Streetcar Named Desire or something equivalent?”

“Nah, it’s an original script,” Louis flicked through the pages, trying to form the words to describe the play. “It’s… wow, Lottie, it’s like so good.”

The play was brilliant. The plot was heart wrenching but also touching, the storyline was the type of story that left the reader contemplating their entire life afterwards. Louis had spent hours going through it, underlining and highlighting passages until he had studied it front to back three times already. The plot was different and it was exhilarating.

“Tell me about it!”

The story followed the protagonist named Aidan who had discovered he was homosexual when he was fifteen. He was part of a religious, conservative family and forced to push down his feelings for men in order to remain desirable in his parents eyes. It was a story of unconditional love, of transitions, of sexuality and it was a territory Guildhall had never crossed before.

“It’s about LGBT rights and it centres about a same sex couple.”

Lottie’s eyes widened, her mouth gaping. “What?”

“I know!”

“Guildhall actually allowed that?” She asked, shaking her head like she couldn’t believe it. “Nah, you’re lying to me.”

“I’m not!”

“I can just hear the middle-class religious parents calling the play a disgrace already.”

The main reason Guildhall had steered clear from anything that didn’t represent heterosexuality was because of the parents. Every student attending the school were from a wealthy, religious background and therefore, the university had a reputation to uphold. The fact that they were actually going through with a groundbreaking, unique play and tackling an issue that was considered taboo before was mindblowing. Louis just knew he needed to audition for Aidan.

If he landed the lead role, he’d be known as the boy who played the most daring role in the most iconic play for Guildhall. The thought alone caused a tingle to go down his spine.

“Who are you going to audition for?”

Louis snorted. “Is that even a question? The main character, of course.”

Lottie’s lips grew into a smile, she had been expecting the answer.

Louis was one of six other siblings and he was the oldest. He took his role as a brother seriously, spent most of his childhood caring for them and most of his teen years working two part time jobs to supply for them. He always sacrificed his own time for his family, gave up hanging out with his friends so there was more weekly income to bring sufficient amount of food to the table. It had always been him, his mother and the siblings–father role absent.

The only time Louis had been selfish was when he landed his scholarship at Guildhall. He had applied as a joke, he had been so sure he wouldn’t get through. But with his top notch straight A grades and his undeniably talented acting skills–he was accepted for a full scholarship, completely free.

Johannah, his mother, had urged him to take the plunge and move to London despite Louis promising if she asked to stay, he wouldn’t even give it a second thought. But his mother was selfless, wanted to best for Louis even if it meant struggling for a while on her own.

Louis had never felt more low about himself than the day he packed his bags and got on the one-way train to London.

“Always aiming for the best, aren’t you?” Lottie joked.

“There’s no point in aiming for anything else, Lots.”

She shrugged, not seeming to agree but not pressing the matter either.

“I’ve started applying for universities, too.” She swiftly changed the topic.

For the next hour, they discussed her university choices. All the Tomlinson’s had been raised up to be selfless and as a true Tomlinson, she had been thinking of choices near Doncaster. Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool. Louis encouraged her to apply wherever she felt right, for whatever she wanted to do and the FaceTime call ended on a positive note.

“Go break a leg. I better get a text in a week telling me you landed Aidan’s role.” Lottie had ushered out, blowing kisses to the screen before signing off.

That was all the motivation Louis could ever need.

**


My sweet fireball
My sweet rigmarole
I want it all
I want it all
Arctic Monkeys - I Want It All

It was audition day and Louis was jittery.

He had spent the entire morning rushing around, trying to practice his lines and keep his breakfast down. He had woken up Zayn who led him to the sofa, placed lingering kisses in his hair and massaged the knots out of his shoulders.

“Stop stressing, Lou. Please.” He had pleaded, though it was harder to actually follow through with his words. “Aap theek ho. Promise.”

Zayn dropped Louis off to Camden Town station, wishing him luck and walking off back to the apartment. Louis was alone. He got onto the tube and received the morning rush hour. He always tried to avoid peak hours but it was often inevitable. He was squished to one side of the train, no handle to hold onto to. He tried to not let the annoyance overpower him, sticking his headphones in and putting the volume on full. He listened to Troye Sivan’s dreamy voice singing into his ears before getting off at Kensington High Street station.

The walk to the university was a brisk five minutes walk and he slipped into the campus, to the right building within minutes.

As expected, there was already a long line of ambitious theatre students standing around with their scripts in their hands. They all looked as nervous as Louis felt, their eyes desperate and their body language tense as they paced the waiting room, rehearsing lines to themselves. Louis looked at every single person in the line and wondered if they were all his competition, if they were all trying for Aidan’s role. Who wouldn’t want to be the main star of the show, homosexual role included?

Also not as surprising, Harry Styles was the man in front of him in the line.

Unlike the other students, his script was sitting on the windowsill and instead, his hands were clutching his iPhone that was pressed against his ear. Despite traces of anger flashed all over his features, he still managed to look handsome in his white button down and jeans that looked sprayed on.

“Gemma, I fucking told you–I’m not picking up her calls!” He was arguing and Louis wanted to feel awful for eavesdropping. Except, he didn’t feel awful at all. “She’s being rude, you know? Telling me I can’t do this because of what it’ll do to my image. So what if I have to kiss a boy or two? It’s the most important step in my career so far!”

Ah. Typical homophobia.

Louis felt a surge of sympathy pumping through his body at the thought of Harry having to battle with homophobic parents or guardians. He was fortunate enough to have a mother who was amazing, accepting in every form and she had simply told Louis he was still the same boy even if he was pansexual or not. Everyone deserved the same support.

“You know what?” Harry said through clenched teeth next, voice bitter. “You, and ma, and dad can go fuck yourselves!” And with that he hung up, throwing his phone into his bag and twirling around.

He stopped in his tracks when he realised he was standing right before Louis.

Louis observed his features, trying to sense whether he was really in a bad mood and therefore, keeping his snarky remarks at bay. He wasn’t a total asshole. He wasn’t going to push a man further down when he was already in the dumps. Harry’s face deflated, all evidence of fury disappearing and he looked painfully neutral.

“What?” Harry snapped when they kept eye contact for a moment longer than usual.

Louis shook his head, diverting his gaze down to his script and refraining from saying anything else.

Harry only exhaled sharply, turning and stepping back in the line of the students.

Louis faintly wondered curiously if he was planning to walk out of the auditions because of his family and whether it was his presence that prompted Harry to stay. He wondered whether that was a good or bad thing. He just knew it’d be a shame if Harry had walked away and not taken the chance.

**

 

Patrick’s face split into a grin as soon as he recognised Louis stepping onto the stage, shuffling his papers and ticking off his name. Patrick had always complimented Louis’ acting skills, called them a gift worth expanding and mastering in. He always liked to use Louis for class demonstrations when Harry wasn’t around.

“Louis, always pleasant to see you!” His voice was sincere, the pen tight in his fists.

Louis nodded, holding onto the papers until he was sure he was creasing them. He stood under the spotlight on the stage in the middle, trying to swallow the bundle of anxiety stuck in his throat. He painted his poker face on. It was time for business. It was time to convince his professors he was worth the main role.

“You too, sir.”

“So, what role would you like to audition for?”

“Aidan Miller.”

Patrick looked a little surprised at that, tilting his head to the side. “Why?”

What kind of the question was that? He was taken aback a little. Wasn’t it a given that anybody would like to audition for the main role, to be the star of the night? Louis wanted to be the best and he thought this role could deliver that as well as showcase his true talents. He knew it was a challenge he had never breached before but he was ready to expand his horizons to take a plunge into a more difficult role to prove his worth.

Louis bit his tongue to resist the urge to make an sarcastic comeback. Instead, he shifted his weight onto one leg.

“I think I can represent Aidan and his woes in the play. I believe I can bring something unique and special to the role.”

Patrick smiled, his eyes full of uncertainty. “Okay, show me what you got.”

Louis had chosen the scene where Aidan got caught by his schoolmates with his boyfriend. He felt like he could faintly relate to the scene, hazy memories of his closeted years during secondary school filtering into his mind. He poured the remnants of the pain he felt when he was outed by the jock of the school into his acting, bringing Aidan to life. He paced the stage, bellowing the monologue and emphasising the right words at the appropriate times.

He spent a total of five minutes on stage, pulling each skill he had relevant to the scene out of the bag to impress the professors.

Katja and Paul had smug smiles, conversing between each other and it seemed positive.

Louis’ heart was hammering against his chest when he finally came to a stop on his audition, stopping in the middle of his stage. The blood was pumping through his body and he could hear each heartbeat. There was sweat rolling down his forehead and upper lip as he was shook slightly.

Patrick looked up from the paper where he had been jotting down notes. “Thank you, Louis. That was truly impressive. Please check the final list of casting in a week in the common room, thanks.”

Louis was dismissed.

Despite the lack of words, he felt confident.

He went home to his shared apartment with Zayn and dragged him out to the nearest pub for a celebratory drink.

**


If the morning light don't steal our soul,
We will walk away from empty gold.
Halsey - Empty Gold

When Harry reached home and turned the key in the lock, he groaned inwardly at the sound of the guitar being played in the living room.

He loved living with Niall and Liam. They had transformed the past two years and made living in London worthwhile. They were both effortless and easy to get along with, never dwelled on any situation and were always up for fun. Harry didn’t think he could’ve survived if he hadn’t met them. But sometimes when he returned home after a demanding day, he wanted peace. Not the sound of Niall’s guitar.

“Need ibuprofen,” was the only thing Harry could muster to say, dropping his bag on the sofa and moving to the kitchen.

Niall looked up from where he was sitting on the floor, cross legged and guitar in his lap. “We’re out, mate. Liam’s grocery shopping, drop him a text.”

Harry groaned loudly, grabbing his phone and demanding Liam to bring home some painkillers because he could feel the migraine pounding against his skull. He knew it wasn’t going to quiet down and he’d have to pass the rest of the day in excruciating pain. He returned to the sofa, flopping into the cushions and burying his face.

Niall got up from the space on the floor, walking up to Harry and patting his shoulders.

“Rough day, babe?”

Harry nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat that grew thicker by the minute and threatened to shed tears. He didn’t cry. He never cried. He definitely wasn’t going to cry in front of Niall, either.

“Audition day was today.”

“Ah.” Niall muttered out in understanding a moment or two later, he ran a hand through Harry’s short hair and ruffled up the curls. “Want me to make you something to eat? Get your mind off it? Better yet, wanna go for a pint?”

Harry’s heart warmed at the suggestions. He knew he was fortunate with the people he chose to hang out with and surround himself with. Niall was a gem of a friend, always willing, always ready to make Harry feel better. He never took advantage of Harry’s name or status, barely acknowledged it. When Harry had explained who he was, Niall shrugged and acted like it wasn’t a bother, at all. He treated Harry like a normal person and for that, Harry was appreciative. He knew their friendship was real.

He leaned into the touch, snuggling his head into Niall’s chest. “Nah. Is there leftover pancakes, though? Heard Liam making them in the morning.”

Niall grinned. “Yeah, one second. You put on the TV.”

Harry got comfortable on the sofa, stretching out his legs and turning on Netflix to watch Marvel’s Luke Cage. They had started the show together two weeks ago but due to their timetables being all over the place, they couldn’t find a time where they were both available. He grabbed the throw over, pulling it over his body.

Niall appeared later with a plate of two pancakes, smothered in nutella and sprinkled with icing sugar.

“Here ya go,” he handed it over, sitting down besides him with his own glass of hot chocolate and whipped cream.

They watched Luke Cage for a few minutes in silence. Harry ate his pancakes, swallowing the perfect mix of sugar with chocolate and making a mental note to thank Liam later for his exceptional cooking and baking skills. Niall sipped at his hot chocolate, nibbling at the marshmallows.

Then, Niall turned to him. “So, how did the audition actually go?”

God. How did his audition go?

“It was horrible.”

Niall’s features scrunched up in distaste. “Really? I find that hard to believe.”

Harry was auditioning for the role of Casper, Aidan’s best friend because the story wasn’t as triggering and didn’t hit home as hard. It was the second role. Aidan resonated everything Harry experienced back at Surrey. Not being accepted for his sexuality, having to hide his relationship from the school and when they found out, the abuse that followed. It would be too personal. He knew that in performing, you had to bring a certain spark to bring the role alive but Harry would’ve been miserable playing Aidan.

So for once, he settled for the second best.

He put his well being first, opted for the option that wouldn’t ruin in the process and Patrick hadn’t looked impressed.

“I didn’t expect you downgrade yourself,” Patrick had said, his lips curled downwards and Harry had really thought he’d kick him out and tell him to come back with Aidan’s lines memorised. Obviously, Patrick didn’t and Harry followed through with Casper.

“No, it’s true,” Harry groaned, snuggling into Niall’s chest again and bringing the blanket around both their bodies. “I messed up my lines, I said the wrong thing and then stumbled all over myself and looked like a fool.”

Harry’s cheeks flushed at the mere thought, burying his head in Niall.

Niall let out a short laugh, not sounding amused or horrified. “It’s okay, babe. I’m sure you did fine, it was a short notice audition and you made it work.”

“But you don’t understand, you have to be the best in Guildhall or you won’t get through.”

He snorted. “I don’t understand, sure but I’ve heard enough about that shite school.” He sounded truly passionate as he spoke the words like the university had personally affected him. He probably felt that way because of Harry’s experience. “Quite honestly, I find it ridiculous that they still have a golden reputation.”

“You can’t ever break down the reputation they have.” Harry shrugged. Something he had come to accept.

Harry wanted to write an article about Guildhall when he finished his last year and email it to all the major media outlets. He wanted the world to know about the harsh behind-the-scenes that happened in Guildhall. He wanted to inform the teenagers of the stress they were willingly taking on, the atmosphere that was toxic and able to transform somebody’s life entirely. People that attended Guildhall swore they’d never return. Harry felt the same.

Niall rolled his eyes. “It’s shit, I tell ya.”

“Louis auditioned for Aidan, the main role.”

The boy didn’t give Harry the reaction he was looking for by the mention of Louis’ name.

“Oh, really? Did he do well?”

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. I left and didn’t watch his. He watched mine, though. I’m mortified.”

“Stop worrying about what that asshole thinks.”

“He’s not–”

Niall twisted his neck to glare down at him, questioningly. “Not an asshole, Harry? Really? He’s made your life hell for the past two years.”

“I’ve equally made his life hell, too,” he said lowly.

“Right but he starts it, every single time.”

Harry sighed. “Yeah but… I don’t know. I don’t hate him, Ni. Not at all. Louis’ a challenge.”

“He’s a human being, Harry. He’s not a challenge and definitely not your challenge.”

Harry hummed, sniffing in Niall’s scent and finding warmth within it. “Whatever. I just find him fascinating, no matter how much he hates me.”

He drifted in and out of sleep between Niall’s welcoming, pliant body as he breathed heavily and his eyes fluttered shut. The fatigue of the day caught up to him, his muscles tense and in need of a sleep. Just before he fell asleep against Niall, he heard the boy mutter out.

“I swear, I think you’re in love and obsessed with that boy. Or both.”

**

Louis spent the majority of the following week in a drunken haze.

He went to every single fresher’s event. There was the zoo party where everybody attended dressed up like an animal, there was the boat party that started from Embankment and rode through the night, there was a club in Soho, there was fresher’s ball in a hall where everybody dressed up in big dresses and tuxes.

Louis blended in with everybody at the parties: talked to people, danced with them and took a girl back to the toilet’s and fucked her against the dirty cubicle wall. He got her off with a thumb to her clit, watching her come undone before leaving her in the toilet and slipping out of the party.

That was Louis’ life.

Fuck things up and leave it there, never taking responsibility and he loved it that way.

Zayn had been absorbed with his usual fuck partner: Brian and it seemed like they were exclusively fucking each other only now. Interesting. Louis made sure to ask later when they weren’t both buzzing from the high.

He attended every introductory lecture lesson hungover, sunglasses over his eyes and in casual, baggy clothes.

Louis started the year off with the right kind of bang he needed to survive the rest of the year.

Now Louis and Zayn walked through the winding hallways towards the theatre department. Today was the day the casting list was announced and put up for the students to discover what their role was. Louis was nervous. He wanted Aidan’s role. He wanted to play the lead and he wanted recognition for his hard work in the years he’s attended Guildhall. He wanted people to recognise he had sacrificed everything for this–scholarship student or not–he was still important.

Zayn, on the other hand, hadn’t even auditioned so he wasn’t bothered. He happily took the dissertation over the play, claiming he had a few topics he was eager to write about in 10,000 words. Louis thought he was insane. He was always reminded that Zayn’s future never consisted of acting and rather, Art.

There was a crowd surrounding the casting list plastered on the wall. All the eager theatre students were bustling, releasing different sounds of awe and disappointment. A few walked away shouting in excitement. Others walked away with sorrow all over their face, a few tears trickling down their face. Louis felt the bubbles of nerves build up within him again, his palms sweaty and his eyes narrowed as he pushed his way through the bodies and came in view of the cast list.

SILVER STAR - CASTING LIST

AIDAN MILLER - HARRY STYLES
CASPER ASHFORD - LOUIS TOMLINSON

The rest of the list was a blur that Louis didn’t register. Didn’t need to, didn’t want to. He stood there in complete shock, his fists clenched as he read over the list multiple times to ensure it was correct.

Surely enough, the names didn’t switch around and he hadn’t received the role he had auditioned for.

Louis remembered the audition went well, he had walked out with his chest puffed and his chin in the air from pride. He wanted to laugh at everyone standing in the line, telling them to go home already because the Aidan role had been won.

Yet, the joke was on him now as he stood there. Embarrassment evident, cheeks flushed as he took a step back and shook his head in denial.

This couldn’t be it.

How could he have lost the opportunity of a lifetime?

Louis felt pathetically close to tears, wiping under his dry eyes furiously before taking another step back.

Zayn was waiting there with sympathetic, small eyes. He reached out to comfort Louis but Louis moved out of the hold immediately. He didn’t need his best friend’s pity. Not today, not ever.

When he glanced back, he saw Harry standing there, equally in shock. His mouth gaping, wide green eyes staring at the list.

For some reason, the sight of him and his newly accepted role made Louis feel a burst of fury that took over him. He wanted to punch Harry in his perfect, symmetrical face and he wanted Harry to back down from the main role so Louis could take it instead.

Harry looked down at Louis, noticing him standing there and his hands came up in surrender.

“Louis, I… I didn’t even want–” He began.

Louis didn’t want to hear it. He stormed towards him, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and dragging their bodies flush together. He didn’t have the time to think about how intimately close they were standing. He narrowed his eyes, flashing dangerously over Harry before he muttered out.

“I fucking hate you, Harry Styles.” Louis said, before releasing him and running off.

Before he even got on the tube, he called his mother and cried to her.

Chapter Text


In my left hand there is the familiar
In my right hand there's the great unknown
I can see the madly different grass there
Bastille - Draw

Harry stood outside his professor: Patrick’s office, feeling timid. He had no idea how he was going to address his issue without sound ungrateful. He also knew Patrick didn’t take it lightly when someone went against his decisions, he believed in his students and believed he made the right call every single time. It was going to be a struggle, for sure. He knocked on the door to gain Patrick’s attention.

Patrick grunted, raising his head from the papers he was marking before smiling just slightly. He was always on guard, never revealed his true emotions. However, he took a liking on Harry and was always available to help with any woes Harry had. He knew it was because of the reputation his parents upheld, Patrick wanted to honour it and stay in the good books. He shuffled his papers, beckoning Harry in.

“Close the door behind you.” He commanded.

Patrick’s office was located on the sixth floor of the university building, right at the top. He preferred it to be upstairs and out of the way so no other faculty staff could bother him. Why Patrick willingly chose to isolate himself is a question Harry would never understand. The office was small, barely accessible for more than three people at one given time and the furniture was old and rusty. Yet, it was undeniably Patrick’s style.

“How can I help you?” Patrick asked, perching the glasses higher up on his nose and halting his actions entirely to give Harry his full attention.

In Guildhall, you were supposed to take each role gratefully and never complain. The tasks were chosen specifically for you to cater your abilities. They believed to know the person better than their own selves. You were supposed to get on with the role, no arguments. You were supposed to feel immensely indebted for everything–no matter how draining and how damaging. Harry knew he was supposed to accept Aidan’s role with a hurray, with celebrations but he couldn’t erase Louis’ betrayed, enraged, beaten down face from the other day.

Harry sat down on the chair, directly opposite Patrick as he wrung his fingers and cleared his throat.

“I just needed to know something, talk to you about something.”

“Mhm? Sure?” He sounded impatient.

“Um, well…” Harry struggled, biting his lip. “Why did you chose me for Aidan? I didn’t audition for it, I don’t want it. I auditioned for Casper for a reason.”

Patrick’s expression didn’t shift, making it clear he had been waiting for the question to arise. He picked up his pen, resuming with his mundane paperwork like the conversation wasn’t important enough for him to answer with undiverted attention. Like the topic wasn’t eating Harry up inside.

While he was still writing, he spoke. “I believe you can do better than the role of Casper.”

“But I can’t!”

“Why can’t you?”

Harry stammered. “B-because, I don’t know. I’m not comfortable playing with Aidan. I’m better equipped with Casper.”

Patrick raised his brow challengingly. “Why? Because Aidan’s gay?”

“Don’t be–” Harry cut himself off before he said something he regretted like cursing to his professor. He was gay himself. It wasn’t the sexuality of the role that was bothering him. Rather, it was how familiar Aidan’s role felt. “I’m... “ He paused, not allowing him to come out. “Casper’s bisexual and I auditioned for it?”

“That’s different.”

“How… he still likes boys. It’s not different.”

Patrick finally looked up, impassive. “I don’t understand what the issue is here, Harry. I gave you a big win, I gave you the lead role of the most iconic theatre play we’re about to pull off in a decade. I gave you Aidan. Take it.”

He shook his head. “But you didn’t give me the role according to my abilities. You gave me that role because of my name, because of the attention it’ll attract.”

“That’s ridiculous. This play is going to attract a vast audience regardless, I don’t need wealthy students to pawn off.”

But Patrick was lying.

The whole university thrived off using their higher status, wealthy students to make themselves appear better whether they liked to admit it or not. Harry knew it’d look good if he was the lead role of the play that made Guildhall more iconic. Since the topic was a harsh change to what everybody was used to, families would be eased into the idea if the known and liked Harry Styles was the face of the show.

Harry felt like he was cheating through his last year, being used to advantage and he didn’t want that. He didn’t want to be associated with the low feeling that came with it. Harry wanted the role he had auditioned for.

“Patrick…”

“Look, Harry. I won’t accept this, quite frankly, rude behaviour. I won’t hesitate to call your mother and let her know of this intolerant behaviour.”

Harry gaped in shock. Was he being threatened by a grown man for simply wanting to discuss the nature of his role in the play? He felt like a toddler, being told to suck it up or they’d tell mummy. He wasn’t going to take it silently.

He sat up straighter. “I’ll have you know, Anne would–” He paused, quickly realising what he was saying. He was about to use his name against Patrick. He had never used his obvious naturally dominant status against anybody. He wasn’t going to start now, either. He simmered down. “I don’t want it, Patrick. I really don’t. Louis Tomlinson wants it, give it to him. He deserves it.”

“We can’t.”

“Why not?” Harry’s voice went up an octave higher. “Because he’s a scholarship student? Because he won’t draw the same attention since he’s not from London, Surrey, Cambridge? Because he’s from dirty little Doncaster? Louis worked his ass off for this.”

Patrick didn’t seem the slightest bit affected, cold and immune.

“It’s not about that.”

“What is it about then?”

“Louis wasn’t selected for the role for a reason. We don’t purposely deselect good, talented students.”

“But, he’s good?” Harry was confused, raising a brow. “He’s brilliant and you’re right, he’s incredibly talented. Louis can bring something to this role that I simply can’t.”

“He hasn’t got the skills.”

“You must be joking, surely?” Harry couldn’t help but let out a laugh in disbelief. “He has more skills than I do.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Woah–”

“Harry,” Patrick cut in, sounding incredibly weary of the whole conversation like it was quite literally draining his energy. He laid his hands out on the desk, his palm facing down and his fingers sprawled out. “You can either take the role of Aidan respectively or you can back down from the play entirely and do the 10,000 dissertation.”

There was a clear hint of threat in his voice. He knew Harry wouldn’t back down, he would want to prove to his parents they were paying the tuition fees for a reason. He had to have a visual representation of his hard work for the final year. Patrick knew and he was using the fact to his advantage, pushing Harry down to an helpless position.

Sometimes, Harry wished he had the guts to drop out of Guildhall. He’d attend someplace either, would love to join Niall alongside his singing course. He wished he could stand up against his parents, throw their controlling requests back in their face and follow his own heart and gain his independence. He had been under their tight hold for his entire life and even now at twenty, he couldn’t regain it back. He was subordinate to people like Patrick because of his parents.

He didn’t want to be. But he was.

Harry stared at Patrick with disgust evident in his features, the challenge clear in his green eyes. He was never going to forget this moment. When he was truly over and done with Guildhall, he was going to drag Patrick’s name through the dirt with every cent in his savings. They remained locked in gaze for a minute before Harry nodded.

“I’ll see you at the next practice.” Patrick called out to him as Harry excused himself, making sure to slam the door behind him.

Before he even exited the building, he edged for the cigarette in his pocket despite it being against the rules. Fuck Guildhall.

**

Harry barely lasted a few seconds when he exited the building and entered the grounds, sucking on his cigarette and exhaling in relief from the calmness it brought him. Before he even realised what was happening, he was being pushed against the wall. His head hit against the bricks behind him like a whack, causing him to groan.

He moved to cradle the back of his head, feeling the area where the inevitable bump would surely grow. He looked down to see who had caused the assault. A livid Louis stood before him, red in the red, forehead vein prominent and bulging as he crowded Harry against the wall. He took a step forward, arms either side of Harry to successfully trap him in.

Harry glared as Louis snatched the cigarette right out of his hand, taking a drag from it himself and exhaling the smoke on Harry’s face.

He flinched. “What the fuck is your problem, Tomlinson?”

Louis spat on the floor, bringing the fag back up to his mouth. “I could ask you the same question.”

“Do you even listen to what you say half the times?” Harry chuckled. He was trying to remain neutral but the blood was pumping in his veins, causing him to remain absolutely still under Louis’ hold.

“You took the one role I could’ve had right from me.”

The sentence caused a gut wrenching sensation in Harry. He knew Louis was hurting, he was a dedicated performer and this was supposed to be the biggest moment of his life. It was supposed to be Louis’. Yet, Harry had managed to take it right off him without even meaning to. He hated what being Harry Styles and part of the Styles’ family meant, hated what he had to go through.

“I didn’t want the role, you fucker.” Harry tried to speak but the smoke that kept blowing in front of his face caused him to cough out. Louis caged him further, not breaking the intense eye contact.

“Don’t act stupid. I know you wanted Aidan.” He laughed humorlessly. “You can’t settle for anything less than the best. All the fucking same, you wealthy, privileged snobs.”

“Yeah? You must be just like us then–begging for the best every time.”

“That’s different–”

“You have the same values as us, then, if you can’t resist having to be anything than the main person. Wanting all the attention.”

Louis clenched his jaw. “When have I ever had the pleasure of being first, you cunt? I have no choice! I’m not rich, I’m not elite. I’m always second best, underneath you and you’re rich so you get chosen!”

Harry knew it was true.

But it still sparked something within him.

He pushed Louis back and off him, trying to regain the control he had. He couldn’t let everybody push him around. It wasn’t fair. He wasn’t going to let Louis intimidate him and scare him. He had never displayed vulnerability before, he wasn’t going to start now.

“You say that like I asked for this.”

Louis rolled his eyes, dropping the cigarette on the floor and crushing it with the heel of his shoes.

“If you didn’t ask for, back down from it.”

I tried, you fucking idiot.

“Nah. I’d rather just accept it, now.”

Louis’ eyes flashed. “See? You say you didn’t want the role to everyone but you do. You’re power hungry just like the rest of ‘em.”

“Maybe I am.” Harry shrugged, trying to resemble that he was unbothered when it was the furthest from the truth. “At least I can admit it.”

Louis shook his head. “You’re going to fucking regret this.”

“I don’t think I will.”

Louis spat on the floor again and then, he turned and jogged off into the distance.

Harry watched him disappear with a heavy heart, every part of him yearning to run after him and apologise and explain. He knew how hard Louis worked. He knew it wasn’t fair. He knew Louis was talented.

Instead, he watched the figure disappear from sight and then managed to gather himself and walk away too.

**


Switch up my style, I take any lane
I switch up my cup, I kill any pain
Look what you've done
I’m a motherfuckin' starboy
The Weeknd - Starboy

To say Louis was heartbroken was an understatement.

The past five days had been hell. He hadn’t been able to shake off the feeling of betrayal that shot through him every time he thought back on standing outside the room, looking at the casting list. He shouldn’t shake off the feeling of being second best, of being so painfully of a lower status. He felt like the past two years of sacrificing his entire life at Guildhall was a lie and he had nothing to show for it.

He had been downgraded and his efforts had been ignored.

Louis was moping around, upset and Zayn knew it. But neither of them tried to stop his mood.

He barely attended his lessons. He felt no need. He was doing double honours, theatre and TV production and he felt useless to turn up to any of the lectures. He had always enrolled into TV production to keep a backup plan ready if he ever failed theatre. It seemed like the right decision since he was going to be needing it now.

Louis attended a mix of fresher’s parties, losing himself in the nightlife of girls and boys and drunken, grinding bodies. He got his high from the coke passed around, cutting it into tight lines as he snorted it back and felt the instant buzz that ignited his fatigued bones. He got his moment of peace when he drank until he lost his mind, the thoughts coming to a rest as he danced and fucked and sang the week away.

Zayn picked him from every party, frowning and pulling at dead weight before taking him home. Zayn was patient, he didn’t complain or shout. He knew how Louis was feeling. He was understanding in a way nobody else could possibly be. He held Louis as he threw up, brushing his hair back and muttering endearment words in Urdu in his hair.

Finally, Louis composed himself and found the will deep within himself to attend the first practice of the play. He had skipped past the introductory lectures, the lessons where they discussed the script in detail and talked about concerns. He hadn’t been prepared to sit there and listen to Harry talk about Aidan. Now, he was ready after his little week of destructive behaviour.

Louis had many concerns that he hadn’t voiced.

First of all, why was he granted the second role when he had smashed his audition and the staff were proud of his performance? Second of all, why was Harry handed everything on a silver platter and how was this hardly fair for the rest of the students? Third of all, why were all the professors at Guildhall such assholes and self-entitled pricks?

As he walked into the lecture hall, he couldn’t help but glance towards Patrick and deliver a scowl before sitting down on the empty seat. Zayn was already waiting for him, claiming his dissertation planning could wait. He handed Louis a spare copy of the script. Louis grabbed it off him, muttering thanks before slipping his hoodie off and grabbing a pen from his bag.

Somewhat satisfyingly, Patrick had traces of remorse on his feature whenever his eyes caught Louis’ but Louis refused to acknowledge it.

“So…” Patrick’s voice drifted among the fifty students who had been casted a role in the play, been cut down by hundreds. Each student here had a role, whether it was major, minor or simply background. “Welcome to the first practice regarding our play. We’ll be performing in late April at the local theatre in Kensington as well as performing right here at home three times for parents and guardians. It’s our most elaborate, unique performance in the history of Guildhall. Naturally, every person should be proud if you managed to make it through. You’ll be remembered for years to come.”

Louis snorted lowly, shaking his head at Patrick’s ridiculous words.

Patrick changed the slideshow to show the complete cast list, running through details. Louis flinched when Patrick announced his name followed by the role of Casper and he didn’t miss the people who turned around, glancing at Louis questioningly.

Yeah, Louis thought, I wasn’t expecting Casper either, cunts.

Patrick tried to reach out for Louis’ eye contact, maybe throw in a silent apology, but Louis refused to give him the satisfaction. He refused to act okay with this. Patrick didn’t deserve it and Louis wasn’t going to give it to him. He must’ve grown frustrated with Louis’ lack of eye contact, his tone growing snippy.

“Aidan and Casper will have extensive kissing scenes. We’ve also added one mildly explicit scene.”

Everyone wolf-whistled and Louis noticed out of the corner of his eyes, Harry had flushed red. He buried his face in the script as the people around him patted his shoulders. The thought of doing something considerably more than just kissing Harry made his stomach turn in disgust. He had never imagined doing anything with Harry.

The obvious disgusted expression caused Patrick to react. “You got a problem with that, Louis?”

The fifty or so students were now absorbed between Louis and Patrick, their eyes flying back and forth. Zayn sinked down in the chair besides him, hiding his face with his script. Louis, however, sensed a challenge when faced with one and straightened his back.

“Why would I ever have a problem with that, sir?” He asked, his voice dripping with menace.

Harry was watching intently with bright, wide eyes, looking quite afraid a few rows down. Louis ignored him and continued to glare at his professor. He was being defiant and it was quite possibly against the rules to talk in such a tone to a professor at Guildhall.

Patrick just shrugged. “Considering your reaction to the explicit scene, I wanted to ask. Do you have a problem with that, Louis?”

“No–”

“I’m sure you’ve studied the script back and forth and you were okay with kissing but uncomfortable with more?”

Louis’ eyes narrowed. He had no idea what Patrick was trying to hint out here but was he implying that Louis was homophobic? It’d be the furthest from the truth.

“What are you–”

“So, I ask you, Louis,” Patrick droned on, the words lazily rolling off his tongue like he had no patience for this. “Do you have a problem with doing explicit scenes with different men? With Harry? You may have to drop out, if you do. In fact, leave the room this instant, if that’s the case.”

Louis felt the rage building up inside of him, boiling along the surface, adding along to the resentment towards the casting. He couldn’t help it. Zayn reached over, placing his hands over his to calm him down, to offer some sort of comfort and something to anchor onto. But, nothing could stop him.

“Fuck this,” Louis mumbled under his breath, getting up from the seat.

Everyone let out audible sounds of surprise. If they really thought Louis was foolish enough to throw away everything he had worked for, walk away and drop out without a second thought then they certainly didn’t know him at all.

Louis skipped right down to the bottom of the hall, grabbing the spare microphone sitting on the desk. He tapped on the speaker a few times before clearing his throat.

“Hello everyone. Old students and new ones–I’m sure I’ve seen you all around at least once and probably talked to most of you. I’m Louis Tomlinson, hi. I’m a scholarship student who has worked his ass off to be here. I’m a double honour student. But most of all, despite the fact I don’t believe in coming out, I will do it. I’m pansexual, I’m not afraid of it. I very much enjoy sex with both men, women and everyone else in between. I certainly don’t mind kissing boys or doing explicit scenes as that’s what I do in my spare time, anyway. Thank you.” And with that, he dropped the microphone and ran back up to his seat.

The gravity of what he had just done hit him a few minutes later when the entire room lapsed into silence and nobody moved.

Louis hadn’t come out to anybody before except his family. He had never felt obliged to do so. He wasn’t ashamed of being pansexual and he wasn’t afraid of flaunting it, either. He didn’t feel the need to announce his preference of who he beds. If heterosexual people never had to declare their sexuality, why should Louis have to? He never made it a secret in the first place. If anybody asked, he was open and he continued to fuck anybody he liked.

He had just gone against everything he believed in to come out.

Patrick stood there, gobsmacked.

Louis felt a jolt of satisfaction run through his body, raising a brow at Patrick like ‘yeah, now what?’

“Oh wow..” Patrick muttered, at a loss of words. “So.. anyway. Back to the script.”

Zayn leaned down to kiss Louis’ cheeks, his lips lingering over his freckles as he whispered. “I’m so proud of you, bhai.”

**


Blue eyes, blue eyes
What's the matter with you?
MIKA - Blue Eyes

Later, Louis was sitting in the common room with his hood over his head as he tried to read his book. It was hopeless in the crowded room, full of students bustling around and making a commotion. Louis groaned inwardly, flicking the page on ‘Lolita’ that Fizzy had gifted him last Christmas. He thought he could catch up with his neglected ready since he was waiting for Zayn to finish his lesson.

He was excited to text Fizzy about his thoughts on the book and the characters. They always did a small ‘book club’ where they both read a book together for a month and then discussed it. Lolita was the book of the month.

However, Louis was interrupted from his book when he realised Harry was approaching him. He put the book down slowly, confusion growing within himself.

Harry had changed his clothes since their last lecture a few hours ago. The button down shirt was gone and replaced with a slung, deep v-neck black shirt with tight blue jeans. He looked fabulous, as always and looked nervous as he fiddled with his fingers. He came to a halt just before Louis, looking apprehensive.

Louis frowned and slowly took one earbud out, raising his brow at Harry. It never ended well when they had to spend a few more minutes than usual around each other.

Harry, more bewildering, smiled and waved awkwardly. “Hi, there.”

Well, this was different.

Harry never approached Louis usually and he was not idiotic enough to do so either. They kept their careful distance from each other, knowing what their conversations normally led to.

Louis glanced from his book to Harry’s wavering gaze. “Yes..?”

“I just wanted to, um, say something?”

Louis nodded as he furrowed his brow, indicating for Harry to continue so he could return to reading his book. He was mostly feeling unease towards Harry who was standing before him, all his guarded walls had been removed and all his emotions were conveyed clearly in his bright green eyes.

“Okay?”

Harry straightened his posture. “I just wanted to say.. I’m very touched by your speech earlier today.”

“What?”

What speech?

Harry knitted his brows together, clearing his throat. “You know… what you did in the lesson. You came out. You stood up to Patrick. That meant a lot to some people, I know.”

There were a lot of things Louis wanted to counter that with but he remained shocked, still and blinked a few times.

He shrugged, then. Trying to act like it wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t. He had all but forgotten about the lecture where he had proudly announced he was pansexual.

“It’s not a big deal.”

Harry’s eyes brightened. “It is, Louis. It is.”

“How?”

“Well..” Harry shifted the weight on his feet, shaking his arms. “Because, the comfort you feel towards your sexuality is something for other people to look up to. A lot of people don’t feel the same comfort, they’re not accepted for who they are, aren’t loved. Therefore, it’s hard for them to come to terms with who they love. But you, you stood there and you were unashamed, unabashed, and it brings hope to people. You haven’t noticed because you’re quite at ease with who you are but others aren’t. So… thank you for representing the LGBTQ community in a positive light.”

Louis was gaping by the end of Harry’s small speech. Harry had never uttered so many words to him in one go with so much sincerity, heavy tone behind his voice. He felt something warm swirling around the pits of his stomach. He had an urge to reach out and embrace the man before him. Instead, he clutched on tighter to his book.

“I… um, wow.” Louis gulped around the lump in his throat. “Thank you, Harry.”

Harry’s lips stretched into smile, uncertainty wiped clear. “For what’s it worth, I know you believe I didn’t try to back down from Aidan’s role. But, I did. I tried and Patrick told me I simply couldn’t. So… I’m sorry for.. You know, still going through with it. I know you wanted it. You deserved it.”

Louis continued to stare, heart hammering against his chest. This was a dangerous territory they had never entered before. Usually, they steered clear of each other and barely addressed each other other than vicious, calculated words. But Harry was standing before him and quite honestly, pouring his heart out.

“Don’t get soft on me, Harry.” Louis said even though he stammered over his words purely out of shock.

Harry just grinned, though. The smile grew. They were back in the familiar element.

“You wish I was soft, Tomlinson.” Harry scoffed, his tone playful as he nodded and dismissed himself.

Louis sat in shock for a few moments, unable to comprehend what had just happened. He finally snapped out of his trance, picking up his book and returning to read Lolita before he did something stupid like run after Harry and thank him again.

**

They were practising.

Louis sat at the back of the lecture hall, he had been waiting for the entire hour for his time to step in and perform. Unfortunately, he hadn’t realised he was wasting his time when he realised Casper only makes an appearance in the second act and therefore, he wasn’t practising in today’s lesson. He felt useless, sitting at the back where nobody even gave him a second glance. Instead, everyone was marvelling over Harry and his insane capability at being able to pull off Aidan perfectly so far.

Patrick was particularly gleeful, clapping his hands and his smile so bright it looked like the sun was radiating off him. Harry was basking under the compliments but Louis didn’t miss the scowls he sent Patrick’s direction every time the two of them stood too close together. It was somewhat appeasing to Louis but he still seethed from where he sat. He was always feeling a mix of different, clashing emotions at any given time when he was at Guildhall campus.

He had wasted an entire hour and he was still wasting his time. He was just watching Harry perform because nobody could hardly refrain from doing so. He was picking up skills from Harry, locking them away in his mind for the next time he’d perform himself.

Zayn slipped into their class when his Art lecture was over, waving at him and slipping into the seat besides him.

He had paint smeared across his fingers, his shirt–stained green and blue and an ugly mucky purple colour. He was still wearing the apron from class, covered in dried paint as he wiped his wet fingers on the white material and then dragged them along the lecture hall chairs shamelessly.

“How’s it going, babe?” Zayn asked.

He shrugged. “Shit.”

Zayn didn’t respond, at first. Instead, he chose to observe the scene playing out in front of him. They both watched how Harry strode along the stage, his muscles tense as he attempted to stay in character to belt out his words. He was currently playing a scene with his onscreen mother where they were discussing Casper and who he meant to Aidan. It was difficult watching it happen before him when he wanted to be in that place, not up here in the seats. Louis really had to come to terms with the casting already.

Zayn sighed, then. “That must suck.”

“I just want a cuppa, man.”

He hummed. “Want me to go to the cafe and grab us some?”

As tempting the offer was, he’d rather have Zayn’s warmth sitting besides him. It instantly brought peace within him, just the presence of his best friend around him. He couldn’t survive another minute here if he didn’t have Zayn.

“Nah, we’ll go later.”

Once Patrick dismissed the class, Zayn and Louis were the first to shoot up from the seats and instantly run down towards the door. Zayn was tugging at his hand, laughing a little as Louis bit back his own smile.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.” Zayn urged.

Louis followed him ungracefully, trying his hardest not to stumble over the steps but they came to a complete stop when Harry walked in front of them. Zayn frowned, followed by Louis’ hesitant smile. Harry looked blissful, fiddling with the hem of his shirt as he waved at both of them.

Zayn, however, had ideas of his own. He glared. “Back off, man.” He said first, preventing Louis from speaking.

Harry’s eyes filtered to Zayn, narrowing. “I don’t want anything, I just want to talk to Louis.”

“Honestly, I don’t think he has anything to say to you.”

Harry ignored him. Instead, he opted to look straight at Louis with hopeful eyes. “Louis?”

Louis felt all the emotions hit him at once. An overwhelming, nagging feeling that crawled under his skin. This boy, before him, had managed to ruin his dreams by just existing and though, he knew it wasn’t Harry’s fault it still filled Louis with resentment. He felt the same concoction of negative feelings as he stood before Harry.

“What do you want?” He asked, fed up.

Harry’s frown grew, his lips wobbling. “I thought… um, maybe. We could… go for a coffee, or something?” He squeaked out, sounding less confident with each word he uttered.

Louis furrowed his brows.

Last time he checked, they were supposed to be arch enemies who hated each other and couldn’t stand each other’s presence. Louis had spent the majority of the past two years hating on him, cursing him, wanting him to drop out of Guildhall. He didn’t remember a single time where their relationship had shifted towards friendly, towards sharing coffee together like two boyfriends.

He snorted. “What?”

Zayn sniggered, looking down at the floor.

Harry flushed. “I thought after, you know–?”

“You thought if you could kiss my ass and tell me some bullshit about being proud of me, we’d become friends?” Louis let out before he thought about what he just said, how rude he was and how inconsiderate he was being. Harry wasn’t kissing his ass and he certainly didn’t speak bullshit. “I’m not your friend, Harry. We’re certainly never going for coffee dates anytime soon.”

Harry blinked a few times, hints of hurt and surprise splattered across his face. He drew a ragged breath and then nodded, his face contorting to something pained and resentful. He spared one last glance between the two figures before him before turning on his heel and walking out of the lecture hall.

Louis couldn’t deny the pull of his heartstrings. He felt awful.

Zayn, though, started laughing. “What an idiot. Come on, let’s go for the coffee.”

**

Louis was walking through the campus to his next lecture for TV production. He had been assigned an 2,000 essay to talk about a selected TV show and yet, he didn’t remember to complete it efficiently. He was slacking in his TV production lessons, focusing more on theatre and all the professors knew his concentration levels were poor. He didn’t want to fail. Louis wasn’t made to fail. He was strong and he pulled through every module he did.

Just as he reached the right building, Patrick stopped him. He was standing there. It seemed like he had been waiting for him considering he was leaning against the wall, his coat collar turned up to protect him from the changing weather of September as he nibbled on his tuna sandwich.

He turned his attention entirely as Louis approached him, a lazy smile breaking out as he took another bite out of his tuna sandwich and sprayed crumbs everywhere. Recently, Louis was finding the man repulsive and hard to bear, more than usual.

“Good afternoon, Louis.”

Louis didn’t shudder like he wanted to. He didn’t start yelling like he had been repressing for a while. Instead, he remained impassive and simply raised a brow instead.

“I have a lecture to go to, Patrick so if you don’t mind–”

“Sure, I just need to talk to you really quick.”

“Um… okay.”

Louis had no idea what he could possibly want to talk about now. Patrick always droned on and on about useless things that nobody needed to know. He rambled until he, himself, had no idea what he was talking about. But now, he stood there with intention clear in his bright brown eyes. He finished his bite of the tuna sandwich, crumbling the wrapping paper.

“I just wanted you to be aware of why I chose you for Casper.”

Oh, God.

Not now.

Not ever.

Louis shook his head, his teeth clenched as he attempted to navigate around Patrick and give out some poor excuse about being late. Patrick, though, blocked his way and pleaded with his eyes to stay.

“Fine,” Louis sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Fine, tell me why I got chosen for Casper, then.”

Patrick nodded. “I just wanted you to know that you did well in your audition for Aidan, truly. You had the emotions, the words all on point.”

This wasn’t really helping at all and Louis shifted his weight on his feet, waiting for him to get to the point of this intervention.

Patrick then sighed, looking nervous. “It’s not that, though. I chose the casting list down to how people can act in those roles. I see this spark in Harry, a part of him that he keeps hidden that he can bring to life with the role of Aidan. But I also see a spark in you. Casper is a complex character, regardless if he’s only the best friend and lover of Aidan. Casper has an abundance of problems, always being second choice, struggling with his family. No one can capture Casper like you will.”

Louis blinked up at Patrick. He hadn’t realised that his professor had put so much thought into the choices, thought he had opted for the students who would look the best for the school. He thought his talent had been disregarded, underestimated, put to the second role because he simply wasn’t good enough.

The mix of negative feelings and self-loathing that followed from feeling like a second choice, like not being enough was horrible. It was enough to eat up Louis inside, make him wonder everyday what he could’ve done better.

Yet, Patrick was standing before him and telling him that this was a choice he had considered carefully. That his talent was the reason he’d excel better at Casper.

Louis hadn’t paid attention to Casper like he had with Aidan. He knew Aidan’s personality inside out, had made notes and studied them. Maybe he should go home and do with the same with Casper.

“Oh.” He squeaked out.

Patrick looked a little relieved, sighing again. “I don’t want you to spend the rest of your year thinking you’re not good enough, or that I have something against you. It’s quite the opposite, Louis. You’re one of the most special students I’ve come across.”

“Oh, please–”

“No, I’m serious. It’s true.”

“Sir, but–”

“No, no but’s. For tomorrow’s practice, I want you to bring your A game and I want you to bring a side to Casper the world is waiting to see. You can do it. I know you can, Louis. Don’t let me down and don’t make me regret my decision.”

With that, Patrick moved forward to clasp his shoulders tightly and then walked off.

Louis stood there, dumbfounded for a few minutes before exhaling sharply and walking into his last lecture of the day. He’d worry about it later, dwell on Patrick’s words when he was alone in the comfort of his flat.

**


I'm only human can't you see
I made a mistake
Please just look me in my face
Tell me everything's okay
'Cause I got it
Never be like you
Flume - Never Be Like You

Harry fiddled with his chips, poking the steak that sat before him untouched.

Liam, opposite him, was wholeheartedly eating his Turkey Milanese, not wasting a second before stuffing another mouthful and moaning around this food. He looked up to Harry, narrowing his eyes questioningly at the sour mood Harry was portraying.

“What’s up, curly?” He waggled his brows, sipping at his wine.

Harry looked up, humming. “Huh?”

“You look like somebody ran your dog over,” he chuckled though there was undertones of concern as he edged his chair forward, reaching out, meal forgotten. “You okay? You usually love Jamie’s.”

They were sitting at their favourite restaurant after both their lectures were over and they both had some time to kill before heading home. Niall had gone back to Ireland on an family emergency, promising to give details later. That left Liam and Harry who were too lazy to cook.

Harry frowned, poking his steak and staring at it menacingly. “You’re right. I usually love it here.”

“Did something happen? Is uni going okay?”

Harry should be asking Liam that question, instead. He was the one completing a vigorous, difficult course of Law and he was busy nearly all five days of the week. On the weekends, he locked himself in his room with endless assignments and books with work up to his neck. Harry felt like he hardly saw Liam anymore.

He sighed. “You tell me how uni is instead.”

Liam cut another piece of his turkey, chewing on it. “Ah. You know how Law is. Hard, demanding. Rewarding, too.”

“I’d hope so.”

“Got a few essays to write before the following week but I got time.”

“Must be hard, especially in the final year.”

Liam made a sound in the back of his throat of agreement, shifting in his chair. “Yeah, it isn’t exactly easy, no. But I suspect Guildhall is the same?”

“I mean… yeah, but in a different way.”

“Yeah?” Liam raised his brow. “Tell me what’s going on.”

Harry had been thinking about Louis in the past few days. He felt a mix of different emotions and he couldn’t place on one. On one hand, he felt sympathy for the boy. He didn’t know Louis by all means, didn’t know his background or his story but he knew the boy came from a struggling background and had to work twice as hard for the same things Harry got easily. He knew this play was Louis’ entire life, his life's worth of efforts that was snatched away from him. On the other hand, he felt resentment. He hated how Louis treated him when he was trying to sort the peace between them. It wasn’t fair. He hated how humiliated he had felt when Zayn laughed in his face and Louis shut down his innocent offer of getting coffee together. It had taken a lot out of him to gain the courage to ask yet, he was ridiculed for wanting to keep the peace.

The truth was, Harry couldn’t pinpoint an exact event in their history that built their resentment towards each other.

He just remember Louis wrongly labelling him as a threat since the very first day of Guildhall and having something against Harry since. Louis worked twice as hard because of Harry, to prove to him that he could be as good.

But Louis was as good. He didn’t have to dedicate his time towards Harry.

Liam snorted. “Is it Louis, again?”

“I really don’t understand why you and Niall both bring him up whenever I’m upset. You’ve never even met the boy!”

“Because a lot of your moods are centred around him.”

“It is not!” Harry sounded scandalised.

Liam looked amused, glistening eyes observing Harry. “I don’t think you even realise how much you talk about him and rant, let alone realise he really dictates your moods.”

Harry paused. Was that true? Did he talk about Louis around his friends a lot?

“What do I say about him?”

Liam lowered his fork and tucked his hands underneath his chin. “Let’s just say–I know plenty about this boy.”

“Like what?”

“He’s a scholarship student on your course for theatre but he also does another honour that you don’t know about. And that kills you, because you’re curious and want to know but can’t ask him straight up. He has blue eyes you like to stare at–”

“I do not stare at his eyes!”

“–and apparently, he has something against you but so do you. You both argue on a consistent, daily level and half the university ships you together.”

Harry’s nose wrinkled. “What? Ships us together? What does that mean?”

“Oh, God.”

“What?” He sounded panicked. “What does it mean?!”

Liam started laughing loudly right in the middle of the restaurant during rush hour. A few heads turned towards their table and Harry cursed under his breath, ducking his head. Liam, however, looked comfortable and muffled his laughs behind the back of his hand.

“Darling, it means people want you put you two in a ship and set you off to the sea.”

Harry blinked. “You’ve lost me.”

“I mean, people like… the idea of you two together, romantically, platonically. Doesn’t matter. They just like the idea of you two together.”

“What the fuck?” Harry voiced out loud. “Why?”

“Probably the anger you both radiate, makes for good sexual tension.”

“There’s no sexual tension between us!”

“Guildhall students say otherwise.”

Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “How would you even know? You don’t even attend Guildhall.”

Liam’s smile crinkled his eyes as he tapped his nose twice. “I know things.”

“Don’t give me that bullshit, spill.”

“Whenever I come to pick you up, people would be talking about you,” Liam shrugged like it was no big deal, finally resuming to finish his turkey. “And him too, naturally. I’d say you two are quite known throughout the university and especially, in the theatre department.”

He shook his head. “You got it wrong.”

“I don’t believe I have.”

“Ugh!” Harry groaned in frustration, unsure why it bothered him so deeply. He had no idea why he was so affected. “You know, I’m in this play with him now and he’s supposed to be my lover!”

Liam gasped, eyes widening. “Are you both going to kiss?!”

“Multiple times, yes. The last scene, we’re going to be in our boxers only and on the bed together. What the hell, Li.” He frowned. “This isn’t what I signed up for.”

“Maybe you can finally release your fantasies.”

“I don’t fantasise about Louis, dumbass!” Harry reached over, swatting him hard over the shoulders before pouting like a child.

He hated how obviously Louis affected him that his mates that didn’t even attend the same university were aware. It made him feel pathetic.

Liam, however, just grinned. “Babe, just relax. I’m sure it’ll be fine and I believe you, I just like teasing you.”

A moment passed.

“He hates me, Li,” Harry sounded truly upset this time. “I don’t know what I did but he hates me.”

“Try to talk to him?”

“I did! He just shrugs me off, acts like he’d rather be dead than talk to me!”

Liam frowned, rubbing his temple. “Well, you’re going to have to spend some time together for rehearsals, right? Try to talk to him then. No one can resist you, Harry.”

“I don’t know, Li.”

He just smiled. “I do. It’ll be fine.”

 

**

Louis had received an email from Patrick declaring he had to spend an extra five hours per week out of lecture and lesson hours to practice with Harry for their roles. They were the two most important characters in this play and utmost dedication and overtime was required. So, Harry had emailed Louis asking to meet him after lecture at 4:30PM at the common room. Louis had faintly apologised for his behaviour over email, barely giving much for Harry to forgive on. He still received the ‘it’s okay’ reply and it caused him to feel even worse about himself.

Louis had no idea how they were going to be able to rehearse in the common room, surrounded by other hundreds of students but he didn’t argue. If Harry preferred the common room, he wasn’t going to disagree. Especially not after how he had beaten down Harry for a simple coffee offer. He just didn’t understand why Harry would want to go for coffee with him.

He walked to the common room now, a faint hint of stress burdening his shoulders from his essays required for TV production. His lecturer had graded him down by a few marks for returning the essay in a day late and Louis just knew he couldn’t settle for that. He would redo it, trying to attain the maximum marks.

Harry was already waiting there for him, sitting on the plush seats with his headphones in as he texted somebody back and forth. His brows were furrowed, looking deep in concentration so much so he hadn’t acknowledged Louis’ appearance, still absorbed in his phone screen as his fingers moved quickly over the keyboard.

Louis stood from afar to admire him, just for a second.

Harry was truly alluring. He had the most charming features and personality, smile with deep dimples and mesmerising green eyes that Louis found himself looking into often. He dressed to adhere to his strange dress sense, patterned shirts and tight jeans paired with whacky boots. Harry was a man who enjoyed his wealth–dressed to impress, kept himself well groomed and Louis found himself appreciating it more often than not.

Harry was, also, everything Louis wasn’t and it caused a spark of jealousy to ignite within him. It was probably why he constantly treated Harry like he was less than.

He snapped out of his thoughts, finding the strength in his feet to walk towards him and lean down to wave in front of Harry’s phone to catch his attention.

Harry jumped, startled from the sudden appearance as he pulled his earphones out.

“Oh, hi!” He said, his voice high and strange as he locked his phone and stood up immediately. “I didn’t notice you there.”

He didn’t miss the way Harry’s expression tensed, like he was unsure as to how Louis would act around him. The mere concept of Harry being afraid of him caused his chest to ache. He never cared before. He had always desired that Harry would fear him one day but now, it just felt plain wrong.

Louis shrugged.

“I haven’t been here long, don’t worry.”

Harry nodded, pocketing his phone and glancing around the crowded common room. It was a given that the common room was packed. There was never a time where you could come here and find peace.

“I didn’t realise it’d be so…” he trailed off, gesturing to the students around the room, talking, laughing, screaming.

“It’s evening time, everyone hangs out here this time.”

“We can’t rehearse here.”

Louis nodded in agreement. His mind scanned for the different rooms that could be available. There were many rooms within the theatre department and he wondered whether Patrick would be around to open one up for them.

Harry, on the other hand, had different plans.

“Wanna come back to my apartment, instead?” He suggested, looking so painfully hopeful with wide eyes that Louis felt dreadful to decline.

There were many reasons why this was a bad idea, Louis could’ve written a list of them all.

Louis seemed contemplative. “I’m… not sure, Harry.”

“We don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to. I got the message loud and clear. You don’t like me. I get it. I feel the exact same. But we’re required to complete two hours of practice today out of lecture hours.” Harry spoke slowly, gesturing to the common room. “We certainly can’t practice here and my apartment is literally five minutes away.”

Louis still wanted to decline.

But he couldn’t say no, not when he had managed to hurt Harry’s feelings the other day by his harsh words.

Instead, he simply shrugged and sighed. “Fine. Take me to your palace.”

Chapter Text

This boy's quite spectacular
Not a boy, but a wealthy bachelor
Franz Ferdinand - This Boy
**

Harry’s apartment was located in Kensington in a expensive neighbourhood. It was barely five minutes walk from the university and Louis tried to ignore the jab of annoyance he received when he realised how easy it was for Harry whilst he travelled just to attend his lectures. They didn’t talk during their walk. Louis stuffed his hands in his pocket, kicking the rocks whilst Harry strode with confidence, head up in the air. Before they knew it, they were standing outside Harry’s apartment block.

The architecture of the building was truly magnificent. It was a tall, six storey building that was white and varied in lengths. Louis stood outside in shock, clamping his mouth shut after a few moments to resist giving away any reactions. Harry smirked, though as he noticed.

“Come on,” he beckoned Louis, tapping out the four number code as the door buzzed open and allowed them through.

Somehow, the interior was even more impressive. The lobby was spacious, the floors had white tiles and there were marble pillars throughout. The reception desk was dark grey, covered in glitter and had a glossy finish as a man sat behind the desk, on the phone. Somehow, the lobby was more extravagant than Louis’ entire apartment. Harry offered the receptionist a wave who immediately waved back.

He looked a little timid as if he was afraid of Louis’ judgement for where he lived. He walked them to the elevator, pressing in the fifth button as they stood awkwardly in the massive lift. Louis took a minute to observe himself in the mirror, moving his hair back and noticed how Harry muffled his laugh behind his fist.

When they left the lift, Harry lead the way and unlocked his door, letting Louis through first.

The first thing running through Louis’ mind was, holy shit. The apartment was truly beautiful and he was awed as soon as he entered. Harry lived in a palace. The apartment lacked in space but it was made up with the interior design, fresh and bright and modern. The living room was a huge open plan room, attached to the kitchen. It was painted white all over but Harry had managed to make it his own with the splashes of yellow and grey running throughout. The living room had a comfortable, large grey sofa with a 60 inch TV on the wall. The kitchen was grey, had a glossy finish on the cabinets, complete with an island.

Louis could hardly believe some people had the privilege to live like this.

Harry dropped his keys on the coffee table, taking his blazer off and hanging it on the hooks behind his door. When he returned to face Louis, he had a hint of uncertainty shining behind his green orbs.

“Yeah… um-so we can practice here.” Harry smiled. “My roommates aren’t in tonight.”

Louis shook his head, though. “Nah uh, curls. You cannot bring me back to a place like this and not give me the grand tour! I need the aesthetics.”

Harry’s eyes glistened in amusement but his mouth remained in an unsure, tight smile as he nodded. “Sure, come on, then.”

He led them down the narrow hallway that led to many different doors. Harry opened the second door on the left, revealing the office. It was a medium sized room, adorned with a large brown desk and a bookshelf complete with a good hundred few books. The room had a darker feel, different to the living room but Louis liked it. He could imagine revising here.

“I guess you study here?”

Harry nodded, shutting the door. “Me and my roommates, Niall and Liam, yeah.”

“The three of you live here?”

“Mhmm.” Harry led to the next door, opening it and revealing a bedroom. “This is where I sleep.”

Harry’s bedroom was definitely the master bedroom considering it was nearly as big as the living room. It followed the same colour scheme but instead of yellow, it had been replaced with mint green. The room was neutral, mostly white with white sheets and white and black painting on the wall. The bed was king sized, taking up most of the space. There was also an en suite. Most impressively though, this room had a balcony with a view of the London.

Louis was gobsmacked, unable to tear his eyes away from the entire room, glancing over and over. “I refuse to believe you’re lucky enough to sleep here every night.”

Harry flushed. “I am very lucky.”

The en-suite, somehow unsurprisingly, was brilliant. It looked like a bathroom straight out of a hotel room or an interior design magazine. It had good lighting, illuminating the entire room. There was a pristine, spotless sink shaped in a circle with a waterfall tap. The shower was beyond belief. It was also a bathtub and had jets as well as three different shower faucets, allowing water to come from three different directions.

“I’m honestly quite jealous.”

Harry smiled shyly. “Don’t be. You should see this house when it’s messy, you’ll think it’s an dump.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

They made their way back to the living room. Harry instructed to make himself at home as he poured the both of them glass of tropical juice and came back, handing one glass to him. They should be rehearsing. Instead, they were sipping back their sugary drinks with no intentions of moving from the sofa.

Louis wanted to break the silence between them but he made no attempts in doing so, burying his nose in his glass and steadily drinking back his juice.

Harry looked painfully awkward, seated unusually on the sofa as he flicked through the TV channels before settling on Netflix’s Luke Cage. Louis sat straighter.

“You’re watching this, too?”

Harry nodded. “I was supposed to watch it with my mates but they’re boring and always busy.”

“What episode are you on?”

“4.”

“Ah. I’m only on 2.”

“No spoilers, then?”

Louis nodded, grabbing the remote and turning it off before he could catch a scene and ruin the whole show for himself.

Harry chuckled, settling back on the sofa. “I’m guessing you don’t like spoilers?”

“Who the hell does?”

“Niall, my roommate, loves them. He prefers to know what he’s expecting. He’s kinda crazy, he searches up the spoilers for shows he’s watching.”

Louis scrunched up his nose in distaste. “That’s honestly quite awful.”

Harry guffawed, a glorious, carefree sound being released from his mouth. It wasn’t that funny but Louis liked his reaction anyway. He liked knowing somebody found him funny. Zayn liked to simply straightforwardly tell Louis he wasn’t.

“Where are you living in London, then?” Harry asked, curiosity shining through his eyes.

Louis sipped at his drink before answering. “I’m currently staying at an apartment with Zayn in Camden.”

“Lovely area,” Harry mused, nodding in approval. “Are you planning to stay here even after you finish last year?”

Louis shrugged. A part of him wanted to go back to Doncaster, to be surrounded by his mother and his siblings and watch the twins grow up. He had already missed out on so much. He cried when Johannah sent him the video of the twins walking on their own for the first time and then cursed himself for not being able to experience it with his own eyes. But, he knew the chances of making it into the theatre world was thin to non existent if he moved away from the city of opportunities: London. He simply couldn’t compare Doncaster to London.

“Yeah, probably.” He paused. “Yourself?”

“Um. Well, I’m from Surrey so chances are, I’m going to stay here.”

“In Kensington?”

“God knows. It depends where Niall and Liam decide to go after they finish, too. I’m sure Liam would want to go back home.”

“Hmmm.”

They both lapsed into silence then and Louis refused to break it, eyeing the TV as reruns of Hollyoaks played. Harry fidgeted where he sat on the sofa, seeming torn between getting comfortable and edging away from Louis.

Harry’s phone buzzed to life, endless notifications pouring him as he spared Louis an apologetic glance and began reading them. Louis watched his facial expression shift from relaxed to confused to somewhat angered. After a few minutes, he dropped his phone on the side, not seeming to care where it landed.

Louis gulped. The tension grew.

“Is everything okay?” He couldn’t help but ask, feeling like an ass if he didn’t.

Harry shrugged. “Yeah. Just… you know what families are like.”

“I guess.”

“My mum’s just a little overbearing but it’s fine.”

Louis raised a brow. “Anne Styles?” He knew the name due to the endless media coverage she received for her fashion designs, her name splattered across every major media outlet when models walked down the catwalk in her clothes.

Harry looked a little surprise but nodded. “Yeah, her.”

“Her designs are cool. Unique but cool.”

“It’s not cool when she makes you wear her unfinished, embarrassing designs as a child and then plasters those pictures everywhere.”

Louis let out a laugh, reaching for his phone. “Do you think if I searched it up, your baby pictures would come up?” He winked, about to type his password in. Harry, however, was quicker and jumped up.

“No!” He protested, their bodies collided as he tried to grab for the phone, releasing little huffs. He repeated his words but sounded truly upset. “No, Louis.”

Louis rolled his eyes though he couldn’t deny the little pull of his heart when Harry sounded so beaten down. He stopped, dropping his phone back on the sofa and putting his hands up in surrender.

“See. Okay? No embarrassing Harry pictures.”

“It’s mortifying.”

“You’re being dramatic, curls.”

“Honestly mortifying,” he repeated, acting like he hadn’t heard Louis.

Louis laughed because Harry was ridiculous. He was seeing a totally new side to Harry, a playful side. The one he never had the chance to explore or get to know before considering they spent most of their time hating on each other. But, being in Harry’s house and experiencing the place he lived was somewhat eye opening. Louis had spent so long resenting him, forming plans against him in his mind that coming to somewhere ordinary like his house was somewhat humbling. Because Harry was a normal person who liked tropical juice and watched Netflix and he wasn’t a pretentious snob Louis made him out to be.

Caught between his deep thoughts, he hadn’t realised Harry was asking him a question.

His head turned to him slowly, raising a brow. “Um–what?”

“I asked, what’s your family like?” Harry repeated, this time slowly.

“Oh.”

Louis never liked to discuss his family openly with anybody. It was a part of his life he liked to keep secret, hidden and safe from other people. It was a part of him that was too precious and felt the need to protect.

“They’re great. I could never complain.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yup. I don’t have one sibling compared to you, Harry. I have loads. It’s lovely.”

“How many is loads? Three?”

Louis smirked. “Nah. Six.”

“Six?! How do you deal?”

“It’s great. I love it.” It was the only input he provided, smiling at him before returning his gaze to the TV.

Their interactions were short and somewhat borderline awkward yet fun. When Louis woke up this morning, he hadn’t anticipated that this is where he’d be by the end of the day.

“Do you wanna practice now?” Harry suggested instead, grabbing the script from the side table and handing one to Louis. “I think we should go over our first interaction scene, actually. That’s important.”

Louis hummed, thanking the wad of papers off Harry and thanking him. They flicked to the right page and started rehearsing. The scene was quite short but it was supposedly one of the most important scenes. Aidan’s supposed to fall in love at first sight and everything changed for him in that moment. Harry’s expressions are spot on, conveying exactly what ‘love at first sight’ could possibly be like. Not that’s it possible or real. Louis filtered in at the right times, supplying his lines.

It was a steady process and surely enough, they managed to rehearse through the entire scene twice without failing. They went over it one last time and then, they were content and done. They were ready to show Patrick their process tomorrow.

“Anyway..” Harry said after they had finished and resumed to silence. “It’s quite late. I have leftovers, shall I warm some up for you?”

Louis frowned. He looked over to the clock and realised it was past 7PM. He had been here for hours without realising. He had come here with the exception that they were going to rehearse but most of the time, they had spent time talking. He shook his head, standing up from the sofa.

“Thanks but, no thanks. I have to go.”

Harry frowned, too. “Louis? Just stay for dinner–”

“Nah. I came to rehearse and we finished. Nothing to stay for.” He said tightly, walking towards the front door. “Thanks.”

He walked out before Harry could say another word.

**
Oh you think you claims are made of gold
But deep down everybody knows
Hit em with the shrug like
Christina Grimmie - Shrug
~

“Louis, come on! Don’t disappoint me! Say it with passion!” Patrick flung his arms in the air, wildly.

Louis was standing on the stage solo, his script clutched in his hand. He was being forced to perform a scene he hadn’t practiced yet in front of Patrick and it was causing him to feel riddled with anxiety. He needed to go over the lines properly before standing before fifty or odd students and perform. He needed a moment or two alone before he could give his best and show off his skill. Right now, he wasn’t as his best.

Before him, the whole class sat around the chairs. Harry was in the front row, eyes hopeful and wide like he was on edge the entire time Louis was up there. He had his fingers wrung together, twisting them nervously like it was him performing. Louis tried to avoid his gaze as much as possible, focusing on the blinding light facing him directly. The usual lights used to be comfort but now, it was mocking him.

Louis flushed, clearing his throat and attempting the fifth time.

“Me, Casper, in love with a boy?” He spoke, willing his voice to come out with more heat behind the words, pacing around the stage to highlight the distress his character was feeling. “How… I…”

Once again, fail.

Patrick looked disappointed, groaning out loud and the other students sniggered at Louis’ failed attempts. Louis wanted to scowl at them all, dare them to come up here and try doing the scenes themselves. He knew they wouldn’t be able to. He gritted his teeth, his cheeks growing redder every minute as he looked down in embarrassment.

When he looked up again, his eyes caught Harry’s.

Harry didn’t look the slightest bit amused like the other students. Instead, he looked concerned and there were traces of hope and encouragement written all over his face. His eyes were trained on Louis only. There was a glint behind his green eyes, seeking out Louis’ contact and when their gazes locked, he was practically communicating to him through his gaze. There was some sort of definite look behind his eyes, like he was speaking to him and soothing Louis to relax into the role.

Louis felt a surge of confidence come over him as he kept his eyes focused on Harry and cleared his throat, trying for the sixth time, now. He was being spurred on by Harry’s intense look at him.

“Me, Casper, in love with a boy?” His voice came out stronger, filling the entire room and he knew he was doing it right when the entire room fell completely into silence. He took the encouragement, stepping forward and coming right under the spotlight. “How could this be possible? I don’t love. I do not.” His voice wasn’t wavering, it didn’t hesitate. “I fuck. I mess around. I don’t fall in love. I refuse to believe Aidan Miller can get into my skin. Not at all. Ever.”

By the time he was finished with his speech, Patrick looked impressed with a satisfied grin over his face. The other students began clapping but he could only focus on Harry’s eyes, soft and his claps slow.

Louis memorised his proud face for when he needed a push next time.

**
Back it up, I'm coming your way
Trust me, baby, you'll like it that way
Lexy Panterra - Lit
~

Louis emerged from Bond Street station with Zayn and Brian in tow. The only way he had managed to convince Zayn to come along with him to the last fresher’s event was if Brian could come along too. He was annoyed by the concept, rather not meet his fuck buddy but also exclusively only for each other man-friend. But, he didn’t want to go alone so he had reluctantly agreed.

It was disgustingly gross how Brian and Zayn hung off each other, giggling into each other’s necks and holding hands as they walked ahead of Louis towards the club. Louis groaned, stuffing his hands into his pocket and tried to keep up.

When they entered the nightclub, Louis was instantly welcomed with the familiar buzzing sensation. It was his night to get drunk, to dance on people and maybe, score somebody tonight so he wouldn’t have to use his own hand. The club was alive with drunken, swaying bodies leaning off each other, grinding to the beat of the music blaring through the speakers. It was crowded and it was dark and most sane people wouldn’t be fond of this. But Louis was.

“Drinks on me!” Brian announced, clearly feeling generous and wanting to impress Louis upon the first visit. He kissed Zayn’s cheek before running off in the other direction.

Louis turned to Zayn, raising his brow. “Just friend, you say?”

Zayn flushed red, swatting Louis’ shoulders and not responding to the question. There was no denying it. They were probably already dating and they had failed to mention it to Louis. It made sense. Brian returned with three cocktails, passing one to Louis who quickly drowned it down without a second thought. He needed to ease up and wipe away the stress he had been feeling from the previous two weeks at practice. It was intense and he wanted to wind down and forget theatre even existed.

After a few minutes, Brian dragged Zayn away and left Louis alone. Zayn shot him an apologetic glance over his shoulders, muttering the words before waving. He got tugged by Brian into a secluded, dark corner of the club. Louis groaned.

He tried not to feel annoyed at being abandoned, he pushed down the negative feeling and instead, he moved towards the bar to order another drink. The gin and tonic was passed to him a few minutes later. He leaned against the counter, observing the club.

It was full to the brim with freshers, the first year students who were eager to please and make new friends. Louis knew they’d fail to even contact the same friends a month or so later. Everyone hung off each other in the beginning due to the fear of being alone in a new city, in a new environment. He had felt the same but he was lucky enough to stumble across Zayn soon in first year.

As he scanned the large club, he noticed a lady who had been staring at him the entire time too. She was beautiful, curvy in the all the right ways and she had almond brown eyes that Louis could spot from a distant. She was sending him ‘the look’, batting her lashes and sipping at her drink whilst maintaining eye contact.

Louis smirked, observing her closely as she flushed and looked away.

Okay. So he may have managed to score the girl for the night. If she enjoyed casual sex, of course.

He took another sip of his drink, eyes moving across to the left. His eyes fell upon a man and he nearly dropped his drink, choking.

It was none other than Harry Styles. But that wasn’t the surprising part. It was Harry Styles dancing with another man. Harry looked wasted, his head thrown back and his face blissful as he moved his body gracefully upon the other man. One of his hands were clutched around a fruity cocktail, the other trailing down the man’s chest. He looked obscene, his thick thighs prominent in his tight jeans and his top buttoned down enough to reveal his tanned, smooth stomach. The man grabbed a fistful of Harry’s hair, pulling his head back but Harry displayed no sign of pain and only smiled, licking his lips.

Fuck. Fuck.

Louis’ throat grew thick as he watched the scene unfold before his eyes, unable to tear away his gaze.

He was mostly surprised that Harry was with another man. He had no idea that Harry liked men, had always assumed he was a straight, wealthy man. But, it had been wrong of Louis to think so since Harry had never stated his sexuality before.

His mind vaguely filtered back to Harry approaching him and thanking him for his coming out speech in front of the entire class. He remembered the intensity behind his words, how strongly he had felt about Louis’ speech, how he had urged Louis to believe it was important. It was important to Harry because it affected him directly.

Harry was enjoying the attention he was receiving from this man. The man was rough with his calloused hands moving all over Harry’s body, touching every inch, gripping at his love handles hard enough to leave bruises. Harry’s eyes were dark with lust, growing more desperate with each lingering touch and grinding down harder, faster. The man gripped his throat, bringing their lips together in a sloppy kiss.

Ugh.

Louis hated PDA but yet, he couldn’t look away. He physically couldn’t tear his eyes away as he observed how Harry’s tongue flicked into the man’s, how they responded eagerly and exchanged spit sloppily.

He felt a twinge of an unfamiliar feeling dwelling in the pits of his stomach, shooting through his entire body. His hands trembled where he held his glass, taking another urgent sip.

Louis hadn’t realised that Zayn had made his way back to him, flushed and Brian-free.

“What you staring at, boo?” He asked, ordering himself a coke and vodka before leaning against the counter like Louis.

Louis snorted, coming out of his trance slowly with the reemergence of his best friend. It hurt to look away from Harry’s dancing. “I’m not looking at anything, fool. Where’s Brian?”

He shrugged. “He left.”

“Oh.”

“Is that… Harry?” Zayn’s voice dripped with disbelief as he squinted, trying to observe the obvious show that was being put on for everybody to watch. He gasped. “That is totally Harry, what the fuck.”

“I kn–”

“Boyyyyy, he can dance.”

For some reason, that irritated Louis and he downed the last sip of drink in his glass before slamming it down on the counter. Did Harry really have to show himself off to everybody?

“Wait, who’s that guy besides Harry?”

“Obviously, an older man dancing with hi–”

Zayn cut in again, shaking his head. “Nah, not him. He’s sitting down, look to your right.”

Louis followed the instructions and his eyes fell upon two boys sitting on the seats, not engaging in any dancing. One of the lads had blonde hair, styled in a quiff and the other had soft brown eyes, sharp jawline and an attractive stubble.

“I dunno. They seem to be with Harry, though.”

Zayn hummed, nodding. “Fuck. The brown hair one is hot.”

Louis didn’t think anybody looked as attractive as Harry right now but he shrugged.

“Harry’s looking at you, Louis!” He nudged Louis.

Louis’ head snapped up and surely enough, Harry was staring directly at him. Their gazes locked and Louis’ breath hitched but Harry remained unaffected. His face didn’t shift. He kept looking at him whilst he continued to dance, his mouth falling open at the pressure. There was a certain glint behind Harry’s eyes–some sort of amusement and desire mixed in together as he moved with fervor.

Louis couldn’t breathe.

He kissed Zayn’s cheeks. “Need the bathroom,” and then excused himself, walking towards the toilets.

Louis stood in front of his sink, splashing cold water over his face to get rid of Harry’s lingering gaze from his memory, wanting the thought to disappear from him.

Harry. Harry. Harry. Harry dancing, Harry with older men, Harry grinding, Harry with his thick thighs and his short hair. Harry fucking Styles.

Louis couldn’t recall a single time he had felt this worked up about Harry, doesn’t remember when the boy had bugged him in this particular way. He felt hot and there was shots of arousal stinging through his body, involuntarily.

Just when Louis thought it couldn’t get any worse, Harry stumbled into the bathroom next.

His shirt was unbuttoned entirely now, revealing smooth skin and his prominent tattoos and the sharp V line around his waist. His hair was messy, sticking out in all directions and he bit his lip as he looked at Louis from where he stood.

“Are you okay?” Harry spoke first, breaking the tense silence between them. He sounded breathless like he had ran here.

Louis narrowed his eyes carefully, opening the tap to wash his hands. “Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You just left.”

“I was feeling stuffy. Needed a pee.”

Harry gave him a funny look but didn’t press the matter, nodding and moving besides the sink next to Louis to wash his hands too. There was glitter all over his hands, in between his fingers, as he used the soap to clean it off. Louis couldn’t imagine what he had been up to.

“So, you liking the party?”

Louis shrugged. “Like any other party.”

“Mhmm.”

“You left the man you were dancing with? You both looked into it.” Louis couldn’t help but comment before he could stop himself.

He nodded. “Yeah. He was just some random guy, I’m sure he doesn’t care.”

It certainly didn’t look like the man didn’t care but Louis refused to voice his opinion this time. He nodded.

“I didn’t know you swung that way.”

Harry’s brows crinkled in surprise. “You mean, with guys?”

“Yeah.”

“I never said I liked girls.”

“So, you’re gay?”

He laughed out loud, clamping his hand over his mouth. “Yeah, Louis. I’m homosexual.”

“No girls, at all?”

“Nah. I’m not interested. I think just men for me, thanks. Preferably older.”

Louis flushed slightly as he turned the tap off, stepping back. “Cool. That’s cool.”

“Are you surprised?”

“I mean, a little? You’ve never talked about it and with how everyone talks about you, I just assumed.”

“Well,” Harry smiled faintly, hints of bitterness behind it. “Everyone likes to assume, unfortunately. It’s what you get for being part of a well-known family. Expectations.”

“But if you’re not what people say, why don’t you defend yourself, tell them who you really are?”

Harry’s eyes dulled. “I’m not entirely comfortable with my sexuality, I hope to be when my loved ones can be accepting.”

“Seemed pretty comfortable to me just minutes ago,” Louis muttered under his breath, mostly to himself, and then mentally kicked himself for letting the sentence slip out.

Harry was looking at him with interest, his eyes resuming to a twinkle though he was intoxicated. He took a step closer to Louis, cutting the small distance between them challengingly.

“Why, you jealous, Tomlinson?”

Louis scoffed. “Why would I be jealous, Styles? I can’t stand you, quite literally.”

“Is that so?” With each word Harry uttered, he gained more confidence in his stance and his grin grew. He took another step forward so their bodies were nearly flush together. He reached out to prop himself up by the sink. “It seemed a lot like jealousy when you couldn’t stop staring at me across the club.”

“Darling, that was the entire club staring at you and for the show you put on.”

Harry kissed his teeth, but smiling. “It gained your attention.”

“It gained everyone’s, Harry.”

Harry looked victorious. He tapped the face of his watch. “It was nice talking to you but the same man is waiting to take me home. It’d be impolite of me to keep him waiting.” He blew a kiss, mockingly, before marching out of the toilet and making sure to sway his hips.

Louis could only stand and watch and curse under his breath at the menace that was Harry Styles.

**

You fly so high
I get a strange magic
Electric Light Orchestra - Strange Magic

~

When Louis had walked into the lecture hall for another day of practice, he hadn’t realised his entire life was about to change. He had sat down with Zayn, they were both holding frappe’s in their hands as they sipped and watched a few scenes being performed and rehearsed on stage. Louis went over the scene he was supposedly about to rehearse on stage with his onscreen mother. But Patrick had other ideas, it seemed.

“Okay! I’d like my Aidan and Casper on stage. I want to practice the first kiss scene.” Patrick bellowed, clapping his hands.

Louis jumped from his seat, startled and his heart started beating right out of his chest. He knew he’d have to kiss Harry eventually but he never imagined it’d be so early into the play. He wasn’t prepared. And after two nights ago with the ordeal in the club, he felt even more apprehensive. He still had images of Harry dancing in the club running through his mind.

Zayn sniggered. “Get in!”

Louis swatted his shoulder. “Shut the fuck up.”

Patrick clapped his hands again, urgent this time. “Aidan and Casper, please! We haven’t got all day!”

Louis reluctantly got up from his seat at the back, walking down slowly and watching Harry descend from the other side of the hall. They glanced at each other and Harry looked away timidly. He was a completely different person to whom Louis had experienced two nights ago. This Harry was focused and shy.

As they climbed the steps and entered the stage, the lights dimmed on cue.

Harry was looking tired today, he had lavender eye bags under his eye and his hair was swept to one side and pulled back with a headband. He wasn’t dressed to his usual standards. Louis’ stomach flipped at how good he looked, regardless.

Patrick continued to talk. “We’ll practice the kiss scene today, once––if it’s necessary, we’ll go over it twice. But let’s see where we can take it from here.”

The spotlight light came on, illuminating the two of them.

Louis felt like it was suddenly real. His heart began to race as he clutched his script, trying to compose himself and he hoped his panic wasn’t transparent. He glanced to Harry and despised how calm he appeared, not a hint of anxiety evident on his face. Harry took a step forward into the light, beginning the scene with the opening line effortlessly. He barely glanced down. He had been practising.

A moment passed and Louis realised it was his turn. He filled in the gaps where he was supposed to talk. They turned to each other, walking closer to each other and rehearsing their lines. Aidan had just admitted he had feelings for Casper but Casper was unsure about how he felt in return.

When the kiss finally came, Harry took a step to cut the distance between them and cupped Louis’ jaw. They gazed at each other longingly. Harry’s palm was clammy on Louis’ stubble and there was something glistening in his eyes. Louis forced himself to enter the mindset of Casper and leave his worries behind.

“I’m going to kiss you now,” Harry whispered.

He took the plunge and surged forward, connecting their lips together. Louis jolted with the sudden pair of smooth, plump lips moving against him. According to the script, Casper didn’t kiss back so he resisted. Harry pulled away and then following the script, Louis took the initiative and kissed his lips again. Harry’s hands fell on his waist, holding him place as Louis licked into his mouth and kissed him with a sense of urgency. It was probably awkwardly ungraceful.

There wasn’t any fireworks or any strong feelings bursting through Louis.

He stood back.

They both stepped away from each other and glanced to Patrick for approval.

Patrick tutted. “It’s not.. It lacks passion, boys.”

Harry’s smile faded. “What?”

“When Casper kisses him back, it’s supposed to have a sense of passion, like they can’t keep their hands off each other. Instead, you both looked like you’d rather go to sleep than kiss each other. There was no chemistry.”

Louis shrugged. “That’s because we quite literally have no chemistry.”

Patrick wasn’t having it, though. “I’d suggest you boys meet up after hours and practice on that, please.”

He scoffed. “You want me to spend time with Harry just to kiss him?”

The idea sounded ludicrous yet, Patrick looked quite serious as he nodded his head. “Of course. I want the scene to be perfect and you will work until it’s perfect. Meet Harry today and get practising, please!”

The class was dismissed and Louis shuffled off stage before anybody could speak to him, feeling embarrassed and still hot about the kiss and how Harry’s lips had felt. He picked up his bag from his seat, dragging Zayn out of the lecture room as they headed towards the exit. Louis wasn’t going to spend anytime doing anything, thank you very much.

However, luck wasn’t on his side as he heard his name being called from behind him. As much as he wanted to ignore it, he knew it was inconsiderate.

Louis turned around to reveal, none the other, Harry standing before him. He looked a little dazed, his eyes narrowed and his cheeks blushed pink. Louis furrowed his brow, raising one delicately.

“What do you want?”

Harry’s features etched in discomfort. “Well… we’re supposed to practice, aren’t we?”

“We don’t have to.”

“I think we do.”

“Well––”

“The kiss–was it really that bad?”

“I wouldn’t know, curls.”

“Did you like it?”

Louis had to pause to make sure he had heard right. “Why does that matter? It’s a stage kiss, Harry. Don’t get your panties in a twist.”

Harry, however, simply blushed a deeper red and twitched where he stood. Louis had no idea what was going through this guy’s head.

“We should still practice though, yeah?” Harry suggested. “We can go to my apartment now, even. I’m done with the day.”

Louis frowned, looking down at his clock. “I have a lecture for my other class. I’ll… um. Drop by afterwards?”

Harry looked pleased, his eyes lighting up. “Sure!” And with that, he walked away.

Louis turned to Zayn, exasperated who just smiled.

“That boy is really something.” Zayn said, perching his bag higher up on his shoulders and leading the way to drop Louis off to his next lecture.

Harry Styles truly was something.

**

Louis was standing outside Harry’s apartment, simply composing himself before he could gather the courage to knock on the door and make his appearance known. All throughout the hour of his lecture, he had been fidgeting, unable to sit still at the mere thought of spending more time in Harry’s apartment just kissing. He didn’t know how he was going to bare while feeling his lips move over his own. He felt flushed and agitated.

“You’re not a coward, ugly. Knock on the damn door,” he whispered to himself, giving himself a pep talk.

Before, he finally raised his fists and tapped on the door.

There was shuffling from the other side, a few screams and loud shouting before footsteps. Louis furrowed his brow, amused at the thought of what could possibly be happening behind the door. Finally, it flung open and revealed a man he faintly remembered seeing in the club the other day. In person, he was much shorter than anticipated and had a slim figure. He had blonde dyed hair though his brunette roots were growing out, covered up by a hat he wore. His eyes were baby blue and wide, eyelashes long. He seemed inviting, though.

“Louis!” He said, his voice warm like he’s known Louis all his life. “Come in, please!”

Louis narrowed his eyes. “Um. How do you know my name?”

“Harry always––”

Before the man could finish, Harry appeared from behind. His eyes were bulging out of his sockets, covering the man’s mouth effectively and cutting off any speech he could’ve possibly said. The two of them struggled, fighting each other right at the front door. It was entertaining.

But Louis couldn’t stop watching Harry.

Because, Harry’s guard was completely down. He was dressed in comfortable, loose fitting clothes and his hair was unmade. He wasn’t trying to look good for anyone. He was playfully struggling around Niall as they both fought for the upper hand and he looked relaxed, his usual stress lines smoothed out, his usual act he put up in university disappeared. Louis was almost mesmerised.

“Let me go, bastard!” The man shouted under his palm.

Harry released him a few seconds later, groaning loudly. “Ew, Niall! What the fuck?” He wiped his hands down Niall’s shirt.

Niall looked offended though, shoving his chest lightly. “You didn’t tell me Louis was coming today! What the hell!”

“Go to your room, you child!”

Like an disobedient child, he obeyed. Niall nodded and waggled his brows at Louis before he turned on his heels and walked to his bedroom. The space between the two remaining people descended into silence.

“Um,” Harry chuckled uneasily, letting Louis through and shutting the door. “Wow, I’m sorry about that.”

Louis, however, smirked. “You talk to your roommates about me, hm?”

“Absolutely not.”

“He knew my name.”

He is a bloody weirdo. Ignore him. You haven’t even met Liam yet, Jesus. They’re both equally as bad as each other, always making my life hard,” Harry rambled, frustrated as he walked to the living room and turned the music volume down.

“It’s okay, man. That’s roommates for you.”

“I guess.”

“So, what do you tell Niall about me?”

Harry groaned, falling on the sofa and covering his face with his cushion. “I’m so embarrassed.” He whined, muffled.

Louis smiled, genuinely fond of the boy before him. Harry was many things than he had originally expected. He could be funny when he wanted to be and he was more than just a heartless, dedicated performer. Bits of Harry’s personality shone out every single day and Louis was in awe. Even now, he looked quite adorable, stuffed full of cushion.

“You should be.” He laughed. “Can I help myself to a drink?”

“Sure.”

Louis walked to the kitchen, opening the fridge and pouring himself a glass of the same tropical juice from before. When he walked back to the living room, Harry had straightened himself out and switched on the TV. They could both hear Niall faintly shouting things towards them in the background. Louis hid his endeared smile behind his glass.

“I never expected myself to be sitting in your apartment, like ever, when I had started the year.” Louis commented nonchalant.

Harry looked up to him, his lips twitching. “How roles and times change.”

“I know, right.”

When Louis finished the glass of juice, he put it in the sink and then clapped his hands.

“Let’s get this over and done with!”

Harry smiled. “Jheeze. Don’t sound too excited.”

“How are we going to do this?”

Harry patted the space besides him on the sofa. “Come here, sit next to me. Just get comfortable.” Louis followed the instructions, ignoring the beating of his heart. “I’m just going to kiss you.”

“How many times?”

“Until we get it right.”

“What if we don’t get it right?”

He smiled. “Louis, my kisses are always good.”

Louis scoffed at his boastful tone. “You bloody wish, Styles. I’ve kissed so many better guys than you, better––”

His sentence was cut short by the pair of urgent lips crashing into his, effectively swallowing any words Louis had. Harry moved forward, grabbing his waist and holding him as he kissed him firmly. It took Louis a few minutes for his mind to catch up before he finally reacted, letting his hands naturally settle on Harry’s neck and pressing his fingers down before kissing back. It became a battle for dominance, teeth clashing, tongue colliding. It was sloppy but it was pleasurable, arising feelings within Louis that he had never felt before.

When Harry pulled away, he was smirking, eyes fluttering. “Tell me again about how many people you’ve kissed that are better?”

Louis was still reeling from the kiss, his finger coming up to trace his lips lightly. But it was a game. So, he wasn’t going to give into it.

“I can still name a few people.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Come here,” Louis beckoned him with his finger. “Let me show you how to really kiss, you amateur.”

Harry raised a brow, taking the bait and cutting the distance between them. Louis’ hands tangled in his hair, looking in his eyes for permission and only tightened a fistful when he had received a nod from Harry. Then, he connected their lips. He started off slow, pulling Harry’s hair down and taking full control. Harry was pliant underneath him, letting Louis take his time, kissing him gently before Louis started really kissing him. It was hot and hard, their tongues meeting. They rocked against each other in the uncomfortable position they were sitting, Harry moaning lowly into his mouth which caused Louis’ stomach to flip.

They kissed for what felt like a few minutes before Louis finally released his hair, sitting back, feeling quite proud of himself.

Harry looked dazed like he couldn’t quite believe what had just happened.

“Oh, wow.” He whispered.

The urge to keep kissing Harry, to keep him pliant and keening was huge but he resisted every voice in his head. There was a time for everything and this one wasn’t it. They were simply practising. They were trying to better themselves so they could perform better when they rehearsed again for Patrick.

“Next time,” Louis sprawled the word out lazily. “Kiss me like that. Show Patrick what passion is.”

Harry nodded in agreement. “Mhmm. I will.”

He was at a loss of words, causing Louis to smirk.

“So, was I better than everybody else you’ve kissed? You still seem to be in a trance.”

Just like that, Harry snapped out and rolled his eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself, please. I’ve kissed better, too. In fact, the guy at the club was quiiite amazing and quite older than you too––”

A sense of irritation overcame Louis, scowling as he pulled Harry closer to him by his collar and pressed their lips together for the third time. He didn’t want Harry to be talking about other men he had kissed whilst they were doing this. He wanted the words to die in his throat. Harry stumbled, falling between Louis’ leg and Louis laid back on the sofa. They were practically on top of each other as they moved their lips, it was messy but it was desperate. Louis nibbled at Harry’s bottom lip, biting hard enough to draw blood before soothing it over and kissing it again. Harry was whimpering, once again and slowly, he began rutting against Louis’ thigh. Louis was completely shocked at the sudden turn of events. Before either of them could realise what was happening, there was a shrill scream.

Harry instantly detangled their body, panting as he pulled away with wide eyes.

Niall stood before them, his hands on his cheeks in surprise as he squealed once again.

“Are you guys fucking?!”

Louis laid his head against the arm of the sofa, sighing as he waited for his heartbeat to come back down. Harry, on the other hand, looked humiliated and livid as he jumped up from his space on the sofa and quite literally ran after Niall. The two mates stumbled around the small apartment, trying to catch each around and Louis watched in amusement.

At last, Niall surrendered, holding his hands up. “I’m sorry! I needed a drink and I saw you guys dry humping on the sofa!”

“We weren’t dry humping!” Harry protested.

“You so were!”

“Get outta here, Niall!”

He ignored Harry, looking to Louis. “Hey, mate. Do you wanna have dinner with us? I can warm up some left-overs.”

Louis contemplated the offer. A part of him knew it was better if he left and didn’t extend their friendship, not interested in getting to know Harry or any part of his life better. Another part of him wanted to stay when he looked to Harry, noticing the painfully hopeful expression on his face. He found himself agreeing.

“Sure.”

Niall beamed, moving to the kitchen and pulling out the tupperware of leftover lasagna.

“You’re lucky Liam cooked extra lasagna, you’re going to love his his food!” He called out, placing three slices in separate plates.

Louis smiled. “Lucky me, then.”

His phone buzzed faintly, he pulled it out to check. It was from a message from Zayn: ‘is there hot one with the brown eyes there??’

Louis snorted, texting back: ‘no, fuck off’

‘How’s harry’s dick?’

’how about you suck my dick, malik’

Harry was also looking equally as pleased, warming up garlic bread and putting an assortment of drinks on the table. He loved the dynamic between Harry and Niall. They were playful and rather annoying to each other but, they also seemed to get along well. Niall was conversing with Harry back and forth, Harry laughing at appropriate times. Louis found himself marveling in the glorious sound Harry’s laugh was, how relaxed it was.

**
Take me to your best friend's house
Go around this roundabout
Don’t take me tongue tied
Grouplove - Tongue Tied
~

They sat down on the table. Louis sat opposite Harry and Niall who were pestering each other, swatting their hands as Niall tried to put three garlic bread into his plate. Louis bit his lips, resisting the huge smile that threatened to overtake his features. Harry served Louis first, putting two garlic bread with a serving of chips and diet coke into his glass. Louis thanked him, digging in immediately.

As promised, Liam’s cooking was wonderful. Louis nearly outright moaned at the taste of lasagna, missing home cooked meals. It had been too long.

“You guys are lucky,” Louis mumbled, shoving another slice into his mouth. “I don’t remember the last time I tasted home cooked food, let alone this good.”

Niall smiled. “Oh, yeah? What do you eat then?”

“Well me and my roommate––”

“Zayn, I know.”

Louis raised his brow, eyes filtering to Harry who avoided his gaze and diverted his attention to his food. He wondered how much Harry actually talked about him because it seemed like Niall knew every part of his life. He didn’t know how he felt about that.

“Right. Yeah. So, me and Zayn are just lazy. We order takeaways more than often or we have ramen noodles.”

“Unhealthy. No nutritional value.”

“I know but what can you do.”

Harry scoffed. “Learn to cook, maybe?”

“Curls, I quite honestly do not have the time.” Louis retorted.

“Nonsense. I’m just as busy as you and I cook.”

He snorted. “Actually, you’ll find I am since I’m a double honor student.”

Niall gaped. “What do you study?!”

“Theatre and TV production,” Louis supplied easily, taking a sip of his diet coke. “It’s challenging, sure but it’s also fun. I love TV production. Not as much as theatre, though.”

He didn’t understand why Harry was suddenly curious, all his attention on Louis. He also didn’t understand why Niall looked back at Harry, waggling his brows before continuing.

“Have you done any prior acting before attending Guildhall?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, a couple during secondary school. I played Danny Zuko from Grease.” He smiled at the fond memory, it was by far his favourite day of secondary school. He was confident on stage, awed the whole crowd, feeling in his element with his leather jacket, prancing around stage. He remembered Johannah’s proud expression the most though, her face shining out of the crowd as she clapped louder than anybody else in the entire hall. It was an experience Louis could never erase from his mind.

Niall let out a whistle. “That’s fucking awesome, man. Must’ve been good.”

“Mmhm. I got it all recorded, too.”

Harry gasped this time. “I want to see!”

“Absolutely not! I looked horrendous during secondary school, those tapes will not see the light of the day.”

Harry and Niall both frowned, not happy with the news as they sulkily returned to their lasagna. Louis loved how he fit in seamlessly with Niall, the conversation was neither forced or awkward. Niall was easy to get along with, acted like he had known the person years prior to the meeting.

Louis, however, couldn’t successfully focus on the dinner and their conversations. His mind kept drifting back to their kiss and how it had felt, how there was a spark of something between the two of them. How Harry had ended up between his legs. He shuddered.

“What about you, Harry?” Louis directed the question to him, using his fork to poke around his lasagna. “You must’ve been in a few plays during school.”

Harry stiffened, shrugging off the question like it was no big deal but Niall chirped in.

“Nah. Our Harry wasn’t in any plays.”

“Oh.” He frowned. That was unusual. “Um––how comes?”

“Niall, don’t––” But Harry’s small pleas went unheard.

“, Harry never originally planned to do theatre like, at all.”

That was certainly news to Louis. He knitted his brows together, lifting his head to meet Harry’s eyes in confusion. Harry looked embarrassed, head down and refusing to make contact. He looked like a beaten down puppy and Louis felt curiosity flush all over him.

“What? I thought that was, like, Harry’s entire dream.”

“Yeah.. but––”

“Niall, enough.” Harry’s voice was louder and firm this time, his eyes portraying something that only Niall could understand. He instantly clamped his mouth shut.

“Shit. Sorry.”

Louis shuffled his feet awkwardly under the table, sensing it was a sore topic and moving on entirely. He didn’t want to make Harry feel uncomfortable. They were hardly friends. They didn’t need to exchange personal, intimate details. Even if Louis was burning with curiosity. He knew his boundaries and he wasn’t going to cross them.

Niall looked guilty, too. It was a strange expression for him to wear since he had, so far, only seemed bright and upbeat.

Harry cleared his throat when the silence went on for a beat too long. “Carrot cake, anyone?”

Louis instantly chirped up. “Ohhhhh. Yes, please! I love carrot cake!”

His eyes twinkled. “Yeah?”

“Of course! The best!”

“I make the best carrot cake, if I do say so myself.”

Harry got up from the table and went to the counter where a cake stand was, covered by a bowl to keep it from getting stale. He cut a slice out of the massive carrot cake, adorned in cream cheese and a carrot decoration before bringing it back to the table. Louis licked his lip at the sight of the beautiful cake.

He took a bite out of it, quite literally releasing a loud moan. “Fuck. This is good.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“I want to be able to bake this? I would honestly make it all the time.”

Harry shrugged. “Well, I can teach you one day.”

The mere thought of Louis wandering aimlessly around Harry’s kitchen, trying to keep up with the recipe as Harry baked caused him to flush pink. He’d quite like that if it meant he’d get free cake at the end of it.

“I might take you up on that offer, actually.”

The night ended on a good note. They finished up their dinner and had a slice of carrot cake each before Niall brought out the beer and they scattered around the living area and watched Luke Cage together since they were all at the same point. Louis kept looking over to Harry whenever a tense scene appeared on the scene, sensing his reaction and finding his heart swell whenever Harry jumped or cuddled the cushion close to his chest.

For once, everything felt at peace in Louis’ mind.

Chapter Text


Let's have another toast to the girl almighty
Let's pray we stay young, stay made of lightning
Am I the only only believer?
There's something happening here

One Direction - Girl Almighty

**

Harry was passing through the campus, heading towards the library to complete one of his assignments that he was having trouble with. He had barely even started. It was bothering him, the pending work, and he needed to complete it to feel assured. He needed good marks to pass this module with flying colours and it started with quitting the procrastination and to buckle down.

Thankfully, the library was relatively empty and there were only a few students scattered around the tables. He walked to the one he usually sat at in the back, secluded from the rest of the room and he noticed Louis already sitting there. The boy looked comfortable and cosy in his baggy hoodie, headphones drumming in his ears as his fingers attacked his laptop’s keyboard.

Smiling, Harry spoke, “is this seat taken?” As he gestured to the spare opposite him.

Louis looked up through his lashes. “Hmm?” His eyes widened when he recognised Harry, like it was the last person he was expecting, and his face threatened to split into a grin but he resisted. “Oh, Harry. Nah, sit.”

Harry obeyed, pulling the chair out and settling down as he took all his books and equipment out. Every now and then, his eyes filtered up to where Louis was working contentedly and he found his chest growing warm. When the work was laid out in front of him, he tried not to scowl. None of the words were going through his head and the words blurred into each other.

Louis seemed to notice his distress, taking one earphone out. “Is that the History of Theatre assignment?”

Harry looked up. “Oh, yeah. It is. I’m struggling, a bit.”

“Can I help?”

That was… different. Normally, Louis never helped him and wanted him to fail so he could get ahead. They hardly spent more than a few minutes at a time interacting with each other but since they hung out last at his apartment, the tension had finally eased up between them.

“Um–if you don’t mind?”

“Well,” Louis rolled his eyes and then laughed. “Nah, I don’t. Come ‘ere.”

Louis patted the seat besides him, pushing his laptop away to give Harry his undiverted attention. Harry ignored the pitter patter of his heart, how it always seemed to work faster around Louis. There was something undeniably intriguing about Louis, always causing Harry to want more, to see more.

Louis took the papers off Harry, scanning over them before opening up a Word document on his laptop so he could write down the notes.

“So, the assignment is a fairly straight-forward question. It’s asking to look at the history of theatre, how the business has come about,” Louis spoke eloquently, not once stammering over his words as he gesticulated whilst he talked. Harry was focusing on his face more than his words. “You have to look at context, you have to find a source and analyse it, bring in own knowledge. You gotta really outline the true history of theatre, find evidence to back up your claims.”

“Mhmm. I’m just struggling on the analysis.”

“Well, show me your source?”

Harry pulled up a few pictures he had found of theatre in the early 19th century, as well as a newspaper that showed stage effects from 1854. Those were his chosen sources, he had considered them to be fairly easy to analyse but it only proved him wrong as he struggled to work with it. Louis hummed, squinting at each source and jotting a few things down on his paper pad sitting besides him before handing it over.

“Here, this may help. Read it.” As Harry read, Louis continued to talk. “So, you just want to literally shred these sources to pieces. Take it apart one by one. What can you infer from this newspaper? Well, I can see there was a lot of manual work by men to make the stage effects work as opposed to today, we have machines and technology to allow that for us. See what I mean?”

Harry was a little stunned, finding it difficult to keep up as he gulped. “Thank you, Louis. I think it makes much more sense now. I don’t even know why I was struggling, really.”

Louis shrugged like it was no big deal, bringing his laptop closer to him and opening up his page again. It was a powerpoint he was working on, had different still screens of different movies and beneath them, Louis was writing notes. Harry remembered he had been eager to find out Louis’ other honour, a little shocked to find it was TV production. He couldn’t imagine Louis doing anything else besides theatre. But, it suited TV production also suited him. He could imagine Louis directing, as bossy as he is, running behind the scenes. He could have the best of both worlds, if he wanted.

“It’s alright, curls.”

“I always forget you’re a scholarship student. You’re so smart.”

Louis scoffed. “I don’t think anybody forgets or lets me live it down.” He said, not looking up from his screen as he moved the screens around, arranging them on his powerpoint presentation. “But, thanks for making me feel normal for once.”

“You are normal, idiot.”

“Dick.”

“Mature.”

“Says you.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “What did you get for A Levels, then? It must’ve been impressive.”

Louis was silent for a few minutes as he worked before sighing a little and answering. “I got 2 A*s and one A.”

Harry quite literally gasped out loud. He had expected Louis to be insanely clever with straight A grades, of course, but he hadn’t realised Louis would be that good. He was effortlessly bright, gifted in the education realm of life. Something that Harry couldn’t compare to.

“That’s amazing, Louis. What subjects did you study?”

“I did Psychology, Media and Photography.”

“Shit.” Harry blinked, still in shock. “That’s… quite the mix. That’s impressive. Are you good at photography?”

“Well––considering I got an A*, I’d like to think so.”

“Do you still do photography?”

Louis smiled. “So many questions, always full of curiosity, you.” He said, avoiding the question entirely and still, not looking up from his screen.

Harry pushed on though, eager to learn more about Louis whilst he had the chance. He had never received the opportunity to do so before this. He knew Louis would revert back to being cold, empty, nonresponsive soon and he had to seize the chance whilst he had it.

“What about you, what did you do and get for A Levels?” Louis, surprisingly, asked, and started a conversation for a change before Harry could even gather an appropriate response.

“Oh. I did Textiles, Media and Drama. I got 1 A and 2 B’s.”

“Decent. How did you get into Guildhall, though?”

Guildhall had strict requirements and they certainly didn’t allow B students. They had standards to uphold, regardless whether the subjects correlated with the degree or not. They wanted the best, and only accepted the best.

Harry cleared his throat, voice dropping an octave. “Um.. My mum, she––um––paid?”

Harry was struggling to declare the fact that his mother had paid off the chancellor of the school to get a place. She was furious with his results and wouldn’t accept it. She came in for a personal meeting, pushing him for a space. Harry had felt awful about himself. He hadn’t earned that role and yet, he was here and he was completing a theatre degree when another person was supposed to have his place. The things the wealthy and the famous could do was quite frightening.

Louis, however, wasn’t an complete idiot and he realised what Harry meant. His expression turned sour, eyes burning on his laptop trackpad.

“Oh.”

“I told my mum––”

“You don’t have to explain or justify yourself to me, Harry,” he sighed with a clipped tone, shaking his head and cutting him off. “Seriously. It’s none of my business. I just know you belong here, you work well.”

Harry shrugged, not believing his words and not wanting to dwell on them either. He could never shake off the feeling that he was cheating his way through, that he didn’t truly belong here because he hadn’t been accepted the first time around. Instead, he turned his eyes onto Louis’ laptop.

“You’ve never told anyone you study TV production.”

Louis quirked a brow, smiling. “Am I supposed to?”

“Nah. I was just curious for a while so it was nice to find out. What’s it like?” He gestured to the screen. “Looks quite interesting.”

Louis looked up. “Curious, why?”

He shrugged. Upon Harry’s silence and reluctance to answer, Louis continued to talk.

“Well. TV production is nice, it’s a different change compared to theatre. Gives me a break from theatre when I need it.”

“What do you study in TV production?”

“Well, first year was pretty basic. Second year we studied the sound aspect of production, got more in depth with some of the filming process. This year, though, is a different level. We’re currently doing advanced editing, screen writing which I despise, visual effects. The lot.”

“Oh, wow.”

“It’s intense but it’s so fun.” Louis admitted with a small laugh.

“So by the end, you’ll be able to create movies?”

“Well, I sure hope so since I’ve spent the past three years doing it.”

“Are you planning to pursue a career in theatre or TV production?”

Louis looked at him with a funny look, though his face was still kind. “Do you always ask this many questions? I don’t remember the last time you spoke so much to me in one sitting.” He then smiled, answering anyway. “Theatre. TV production was just a back-up, you know? If everything goes to shit, hey, at least I’m a director!”

“You’ll do just fine in theatre,” Harry said firmly, not leaving any space for arguments. He couldn’t imagine a world where Louis wasn’t on stage, under the spotlight, performing like the true actor he is. “Honestly. Nothing to worry about.”

Louis flushed. “You flatter me, Styles.” He paused. “What did Niall mean the other day when he said theatre wasn’t… like, what you wanted to do?”

Louis looked genuinely concerned, like he actually cared, and it caused Harry’s stomach to flutter. He wasn’t used to receiving so much attention from Louis. It was nice. The look in Louis’ face, the twist of his torso to give his whole attention to Harry. It was something he wouldn’t mind getting used to.

“Oh..” He coughed into his fist, unsure how to address the issue. “Um, well––”

“You’re not obliged to tell me. I shouldn’t have asked, sorr––”

“No, no!” Harry cut him quickly. “Actually, I wanted to be a musician, initially?”

Louis was definitely interested now, eyes widening as he turned his chair towards him. “You, what?”

“Yeah. I was interested in singing, guitar. All that.”

“Can you sing?”

Harry scrunched up his nose, laughing. “Of course! How else would I want to pursue music?”

“I just. Wow, I’ve never even thought you’d be interested in that?” Louis said, his tone still ringing with surprise. “How come you didn’t do music then?”

This was the hard part. Harry’s family was a sore topic that no one understood, not even himself so it was difficult to try and explain it to somebody who had absolutely no idea. All Louis knew was through chatter amongst other people. How could he possibly begin to comprehend Harry’s struggles?

“My family didn’t want me to.”

Louis frowned. “Since when does family dictate lives?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“It is.”

“Louis,” Harry said softly. “I have a different family to most. They didn’t want me to do music, it wasn’t good for the family image so I was sorta.. Groomed into theatre?”

Louis was looking at him intensely, a brightness shining through his blue eyes that were never usually present before. He was trying to analyse each of Harry’s features, trying to understand and Harry’s insides tingled.

“Groomed? How?”

“I was pushed for it, sent to acting classes. In the end, I just went for that career path, make everything easier for everybody.”

Louis didn’t look impressed. There was even a hint of sadness in his features, his lips curled downwards as he fiddled with his fingers. He looked like he was struggling to come up with an appropriate response.

“Harry… that’s shit. You should do what you want, not what your parents want. Do you even like theatre?”

“I do. It’s not bad, it’s not like I don’t enjoy it. I do. Just not as much as music.”

Louis frowned. “I’m sorry, Harry.”

There was a certain softness behind his eyes and Harry swooned.

“It’s okay, Lou. You don’t have to be sorry.”

Louis offered a shaky smile, looking back to his laptop. The moment of peaceful illusion was broken. Their heart-to-heart conversation had come swiftly to an end as fast as it had begun. Louis was clearly struggling to keep up and quite honestly, Harry was willing on giving details.

Harry returned to his work, too. He buried his head in the sources, highlights and taking parts out, annotating all over the paper. He was able to use some of Louis’ note to create his own. He wrote them all out in a trial paragraph, reading it back to himself and nodding when he liked how it sounded. He just had to type it up now.

Louis was packing up his bags when Harry was finished, putting his laptop in and taking his phone off charge.

He spared Harry a glance and for a moment, Harry could practically see the internal battle Louis was having before he said.

“Um.. so, I know I refused the first time which I regret. So, would you like to join me for a coffee?”

Harry almost repeated the words Louis had said to him when he had offered but he bit his lips, pushing traces of remaining resentment out of his system. Louis was trying now, clearly. He had to seize the chance.

“Sure.” Harry nodded.

**
I'm a workaholic and I swear, I swear
Yeah, and one day I will beat you fair and square
Show me what you got
Work this body on the floor

WALK THE MOON - Work This Body
~

It was a practice day, once again.

Louis was getting accustomed to his lectures being transformed into rehearsing instead, using up the hour to watch his classmates bring words to life through their acting. It was quite mesmerising and much more interesting than listening to Patrick talk for an hour and half. He sat at the back of the hall, burying his head in his hoodie because of the lack of sleep the night before as he waited for his turn. When Patrick announced his name, he skipped down quickly and climbed onstage. Harry wasn’t far behind.

Since their coffee date, they had exchanged numbers and were texting frequently. It was small, mundane conversations that still held some sort of meaning to Louis. Harry would text him a picture of their script, often voicing his opinion which consisted of: what the fuck is this, I can’t do this???. Louis would reply with a middle finger emoji. Just normal conversations.

But, the dynamic between their relationship had shifted fast. It had transformed from pure and utter frustration towards each other to something beyond that. It was like they could finally hold a mature conversation together. It was now almost friendly and almost comfortable even though they still had a long way to go. Louis had never imagined even exchanging numbers with Harry till the end of his days, let alone during University.

Patrick clapped once and the lights dimmed, leaving the spotlight on the two of them. “I want a repeat of the kiss with passion, please! Thank you!”

Louis and Harry faced each other. There was a faint hint of a smirk evident on Harry’s face as he begun to speak his lines, confident and rehearsed. He talked with confidence as he kept unwavering glance at Louis. Louis spoke up when it was his turn, pacing around the stage whilst Harry followed. They were doing good. Better than ever. They were both steady and flying through their words, making all the right gestures. Harry grabbed his arm, pulling him flush to his stomach and dropped the kiss without a warning.

That was how the script was planned, after all but it still caused Louis’ stomach to explode at the unexpected and how his lips tingled.

He had to fight every instinct in his body to not react, to stay in character and pull away when his body wanted more. He waited a beat before re-connecting their lips for the french kiss. They moved their lips together, tasting each other whilst their hands moved over each other’s body. Louis kept a hand around the back of his neck, applying pressure whilst Harry squeezed his hips and moaned prettily into Louis’ mouth. Louis licked along his bottom teeth, being granted access, as their tongues met.

Louis felt warmth all over his bones, igniting him as he pulled away eventually and couldn’t wipe off the smile on his face.

The entire class had fell silent.

Harry looked blissful, smile so wide it looked painful and pliant, as always.

Patrick didn’t respond for a few moments, shocked, before he started clapping, the entire class following a few minutes later. “Bravo, my boys!” He said, sounding truly proud. “That was what I had been waiting to see! Let’s keep that up, please!”

Louis spoke up loudly. “Styles, this doesn’t mean I like you any more than I did before!”

Harry rolled his eyes playfully, dismissing the comment with a gesture of his hand. “Oh c’mon, not even a little bit?”

The class sniggered.

“Not a chance, darling.”

Louis slipped back to his seat where Zayn had made his way into the lesson, had his laptop out and was making notes for his dissertation. He looked at Louis with a confused look.

“That was most definitely flirting.” Was the first words out of his mouth.

Louis rolled his eyes, trying to shudder off the continuous waves of pleasure he was receiving even after the kiss had ended. It might’ve been insane but he may, probably, actually enjoy kissing Harry. He had never imagined the day would come.

“As if.”

“Since when did this happen? What did I miss? When did you start dating him?”

“Oh my god. I’m not dating Harry, you fool,” he swatted Zayn’s shoulder and then settled his head on his chest.

Zayn placed an arm around him, pulling him closer as he used the spare arm to continue doing his work. “Pagal, you’re going to cry about this in a week. Mujhe nahi malum aap aisey khun ho.” (Crazy… I don’t understand why you’re like this)

Louis blinked. “Mate, I understand Urdu but not in that level.”

Zayn just chuckled, kissing him softly on the hair before resuming with his work.

**
I'm tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful
The way that booty movin I can't take no more
Had to stop what I'm doin so I can pull up close

David Guetta ft Akon - Sexy Bitch

~

“There’s a party tonight.”

“Hmm?” Louis looked up from where he was working on his assignment, pausing when he finished his sentence. “What party?”

“Some second year student hosting one at his new house. It’s massive.”

“Only second year students in Guildhall could afford to buy a house in London,” Louis scoffed at the concept, shaking his head as he pushed his laptop away and waggled his brows at Zayn. “Wanna go gatecrash a wealthy party, show off like the scums we are?”

“Us scholarship kids deserve some shine! Let’s go, please.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Fine.” Because he was hardly going to deny a party.

They got changed and took the tube ride to Nottinghill where this student apparently lived, fortunate enough to afford his own glamorous in midst of the expenses of London. Louis always found it hard to believe how rich the students that attended here were. He was constantly reminded that not everybody was as poor as he was, that some people’s luck were simply greater than his could ever be.

They turned up to the house fashionably late. The house was massive, naturally and it was crowded by many students. Everyone was already tipsy, stumbling around the house, up the stairs, bodies making out everywhere. There was nothing quite as exhilarating as a house party. The atmosphere was entirely different. You could make your own rules and nothing was off limits. The music was loud, blaring through the speakers and Louis could hardly hear himself think, let alone being able to address anybody.

They found a familiar person on their course, Jack. The familiar figure passed Louis and Zayn some drinks, telling them to let loose and let go. Apparently, the owner of the house was already drunk and passed out somewhere so nothing was being monitored. Zayn took up that as a challenge.

Louis sipped at his vodka and coke, looking around the crowded house and spotting a few girls he’s had sex with before. They were huddled around in the corner, noticing Louis looking and waggling their brows towards him. He smiled politely, waving but looking the other way. Zayn led them to one corner of the party, gulping down their drinks.

“I bet something’s going to happen here tonight,” Zayn commented nonchalantly.

Louis furrowed his brow. “Like what?”

“A fight, something exciting.”

“You can’t possibly predict that.”

Sach Main? Just watch, something’s going to happen tonight and I’ll be the first one recording it.” (Really)

Louis rolled his eyes at his best friend’s nonsense. Zayn was a strange child, he always had a strange way of looking at things but it was intriguing, all the same. He couldn’t imagine what his life would be if he hadn’t met Zayn, how he could’ve possibly survived the past two years.

They immerse themselves into the party, drinking more, interacting with some girls and playing a few party games. It was all fun and exciting, nonetheless and Louis felt the stress rolling off his shoulders with each laugh he took. Zayn was tipsy and touchy, hanging off Louis and biting down on his collarbones. Louis loved it though, wrapping an arm around Zayn and keeping him close to his side as they stumbled to another corner of the house.

“Heyyyyy. Isn’t that the hot one with brown eyes?” Zayn said, his trademark description for Liam, pointing out Liam sitting in the corner of the party. He was talking to Niall, the two of them absorbed in their own affairs with a few people surrounding them.

Louis’ heartbeat increased almost on command.

If they were here, Harry was surely bound to be around.

Zayn was whining when he spoke next. “I wanna talk to him, Lou.”

“His name is Liam.”

He looked up, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. “How do you know? Back off, you have Harry!”

“Don’t be vile! I don’t have anyone and Liam is Harry’s roommate, that’s how I know.”

“Oh my God. I could easily hook up with him.”

Louis frowned, shaking his head at the idea. Harry and himself had a long discussion about his roommates, Harry went into detail and described them. Liam was a sweet boy, innocent and pure, just wanting to please his parents and his sisters. He was completing a Law degree at one of the most recognised institutes in the world and he was very much into long commitments. Quite the opposite from Zayn.

“Nah. He’s not that type.”

“Everyone isn’t until they meet me,” Zayn shrugged.

Louis wrinkled his nose in disgusting, shoving him lightly. “Is that what you thought of me when you first saw me?”

“Hell yeah, Louis. I saw the tight ass and I just wanted it.”

“Fuck you,” he laughed, shoving him again before Zayn enveloped him into a hug and held him close. Louis sighed, cuddling close to him.

“I’m going to talk to Liam, now. Promise I won’t be disgusting.” He swears, kissing Louis’ temples before walking off towards Liam.

Louis rolled his eyes at the typical act from his best friend. He decided to grab himself another drink, walking to the kitchen and swaying his hips to the beat of the David Guetta song blasting through the speakers. It was a rather old song but had fond memories from previous parties he had attended, definitely a tune every club liked to play. He got himself a bottle of beer, opting for a change, as he walked through the kitchen and towards the second reception living room.

Louis was taking a swing of his drink and stopped dead in his tracks when his eyes landed on Harry.

Of course, he had anticipated Harry Styles being at the party but he definitely hadn’t visioned what was unraveling right before his eyes.

Harry was dancing with another older man. They were facing each other, Harry’s arms in the air as he swiveled his hips around the man. The man let him have him, his body unresponsive and practically letting Harry use him to get off. He had a tight grip on Harry’s waist, pressing down and Harry wormed in the hold but didn’t resist.

Most of all, though, Harry looked entirely comfortable and laid back. He was enjoying this. He was enjoying the attention.

He was wearing a floral sheer shirt, buttoned half way with his tattoos on display once again. He looked like a dream, the way he was moving his body, his perfect figure in the perfectly tight-fitting shirt.

Louis didn’t even realise he was feeling annoyance surging through his veins, alcohol clouding his judgement and before he realised what was he doing, he was pushing through the bodies. He had no aim specific in his mind. He just wanted Harry off that man and on him. It was an irrational thought, one he never had before. But he welcomed it, all the same.

**

See you standing over there with your body
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don't gotta think 'bout nothin'
I'm comin' at ya
'Cause I know you got a bad reputation
Doesn't matter, 'cause you give me temptation
And we don't gotta think 'bout nothin'

Ariana Grande - Side To Side

“My turn,” Louis gritted out when he reached the pair, easily detangling the man’s hand from Harry’s body.

Harry was startled, breaking out of his flow as he looked up to Louis through his lashes. He inhaled sharply, ceasing to breathe as he stared at Louis like he couldn’t quite believe what was happening. The man grumbled but moved away, not offering much of a protest. Louis was relieved. He could hardly get into a fight and he didn’t want to be the showcase of the party like Zayn had predicated.

“Lou…” The nickname fell easily from Harry’s lips, eyes widening. He was not tipsy, at all. He was very much sober and awake as he looked at Louis with all the confusion possible in his bright green eyes.

He was fucking gorgeous and Louis was so over it.

Following through his not-thinking rule, he pulled Harry close to his body. He leaned down so his lips were grazing across Harry’s ears, barely whispering.

“You like to put on a show at every party, don’t you?” He asked, roughly moving his hips in time with the Ariana song that blared through.

Harry’s eyes stayed wide open, shock speckling his orbs. He nodded. “Mhmmmm––always.”

“Always like to find the older men so they can get their grubby, experienced hands on you, don’t you?”

Harry kept nodding eagerly to every word Louis spoke, his head coming to fall in Louis’ neck as he huffed into him. Louis felt dizzy with the adoration he felt for this boy, overcoming him for a minute. He couldn’t quite believe Harry was standing before him, Louis’ hips moving against his as Harry tried to ease his breathing into his neck. He smelt sweet, like vanilla cookies, and Louis wanted him.

He bit Harry’s neck, reveling in the way the boy released a loud groan into his skin.

“Move those hips like I know you can,” Louis instructed, naturally taking the dominant stance.

Harry obeyed, snapping to action as he started to grind back lazily. He was nibbling at Louis’ neck, any inch of skin he could reach as he pulled away and soothed each new mark with a soft lick. Louis felt too much all at the same time, trying to keep himself steady and trying to remind him this wasn’t a dream.

The very same person he had spent the majority of his university life hating on was dry humping him in a middle of a crowded, rowdy house party. The thought alone shot arousal through his body, straight to his half hard cock in his jeans, his member straining against his boxers trapped inside.

Harry was a dream, a fantasy that Louis couldn’t quite believe he had the pleasure of ever meeting in his life. Even if he was hating him half the time, Harry was exquisite in his own form, in an entirely different way.

Harry was moaning, it was soft, small sounds that he released into Louis’ neck. Louis’ spare hand came to rest at the nape of his neck, applying the right amount of pressure that had Harry pressing his front onto Louis more roughly.

“Desperate?” Louis smirked, losing control over his limbs as he let the thoughts of Harry crowd every thought.

Harry just nodded fervently. Louis was getting increasingly more aroused, his hand travelling to the short hair at the back of his neck. He tightened his fist around whatever strands he could grab onto, pulling back so Harry’s head was in the air and off Louis’ neck. His neck was bare for Louis to bite on.

“Why did you get your haircut?” Louis questioned, something that had been bothering him since the beginning of academic year. He remembered Harry’s long hair, falling gracefully past his shoulders, tight curls that looked magnificent and added character to him. Not that he wasn’t beautiful now because, he still was.

Louis released the hair and Harry fell back to Louis, burying his head against him again and released stammered breaths.

“I… I was donating my locks to charity,” he finally managed to say.

Louis’ heart swelled because of course, only Harry would do that.

“Gorgeous boy.” Was all he could respond with.

Whilst their hips grinded upon each other, Louis’ hand travelled around Harry’s back and teased around the waistband of his jeans. Harry’s eyes instantly widened, looking up to Louis’ eyes with a hint of panic. Louis frowned at his expression, their actions never halting for a second. Finally, Harry closed his eyes and nodded his head. He dipped his hands into Harry’s jeans.

He had expected to find soft cotton material of the his boxers, he was met by something else.

It was scratchy against the palm of his hand and it certainly didn’t cover the entirety of his ass. Louis wasn’t sure what he was touching here. He continued to fiddle with the material, releasing with a start.

It’s lace.

Harry was wearing lace panties to a fucking party and Louis was currently feeling them.

If this entire night hadn’t been a surprise by now, Louis was definitely feeling shook now. He felt his cock growing at the thought of Harry in nothing but his panties, how his round, firm ass would look face down, ass up.

Louis groaned at the sudden dirty thoughts filtering his mind, roughly grabbing Harry’s ass and squeezing.

Harry’s eyes fluttered open, mouth gaping as his eyes softened. “I-I’m sorry––oh fuck.”

Louis wasn’t sure what Harry was sorry about he didn’t care, moving their bodies back until Harry hit against the spare space on the wall. Louis kept rubbing Harry’s ass under his palm, feeling it redden under his hold.

Harry surged forward, connecting their lips for what felt like the millionth time recently. Louis responded almost immediately, taking control and licking into his mouth as he slipped his finger underneath the lace panties and feeling around the crack of his ass. He was gone. Absolutely gone.

It was only when Harry muttered a broken, high whined sound followed by, “Louis, please,” that Louis snapped out of his trance.

It was like he realised where he was, what he was doing and he had been jolted awake from a dream. Nightmare. Either one. He instantly withdrew his hands, eyes growing wide at what he had done and took a long step back from Harry.

Harry noticed the warmth disappearing from his body, instantly, his head snapping up.

There was nothing but confusion written behind his green orbs, wondering as he raised a brow.

Louis shook his head in denial at what had just happen. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, running a hand through his hair and the alcohol pumping through his system. “This was a mistake. A big one. Sorry.”

He watched how the light behind Harry’s eyes dulled, how his blissful small smile faded and his expression changed to completely neutral.

Louis felt awful but he didn’t say anything.

He turned on his heel and marched away from Harry, trying to burn the image of his fallen expression out of his memory as he walked around the bodies to find Zayn. Surely enough, Zayn was still absorbed in conversation with Liam. Shockingly, Zayn was sitting in Liam’s lap as they shared drinks and conversed back and forth. It looked rather platonic but knowing Zayn, it wouldn’t last long.

He looked up at Louis’ approaching figure, wide and content smile but it all faded when he noticed Louis’ expression.

Louis was pathetically close to tears, feeling confused as all the emotions twirled around his mind. Liam and Niall looked up too and he noticed Niall frowning but he appreciated neither of them asking and making the moment worse.

Zayn extracted himself from Liam immediately, not even sparing him a second glance as he moved forward to hold Louis by both biceps.

Jaan, baby, what’s wrong?” He asked, stroking his finger up and down.

“Want to leave, please. Now.”

“Babe, our taxi is booked for later..”

Now, please, Zayn.” Louis pleaded, not sparing a thought as to how desperate he looked.

From behind them, Niall cleared his throat. “I can call an Uber for you two? Actually, consider it done,” he got up, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

Liam looked concerned but they had never officially met before so he remained quiet, biting his lip with a contemplative look painted on his face. Zayn didn’t look back at Liam, not for a second. He kept his eyes trained on Louis, holding him securely and Louis felt immensely grateful for his best friend. Minutes later, Niall reappeared.

“The Uber is coming in literally five minutes, Zayn. Take him out and get him home. Here’s my number,” he handed Zayn a piece of paper, “and Liam’s. Please text either one of us and let us know if you get home safely.”

Louis wanted to feel grateful for the two lovely souls sitting before him but his mind was swimming and he was unable to voice his feelings.

Zayn, however, filled in for him. “Thank you so much, Niall. I will do,” he looked to Liam for a minute, smiling. “I’ll call you, yeah?” He gestured to the slip of paper in his hand before helping Louis out of the house.

When they entered the harsh wind of September in London, Louis instantly cuddled into Zayn’s side. Zayn welcomed him, keeping him safe and holding him place as he dropped a kiss in his hair. He didn’t ask any questions. They waited in silence for the Uber to turn up.

**

When Zayn managed to drag Louis home and tuck him into bed, Louis was feeling vulnerable and he felt pity for himself. Before Zayn could walk away and let him sleep peacefully, Louis reached out and halted him by his forearm. Zayn turned around slowly, slightly raising a confused brow at him.

“Do you need anything, Lou?” He asked, he was always patient and loving with Louis.

He shook his head and motioned to his lips. “Kiss me, please.”

He wanted the previous traces off Harry off his lips, he wanted to feel something else, something he actually loved. It was irrational but he wouldn’t be able to sleep if Zayn didn’t kiss him.

Zayn stood there contemplative. His face was etched in worry, his frown lines present as he stood before Louis. He moved forward, then, sitting down besides Louis and for a second, he thought it was going to happen. Zayn was going to listen and they were going to kiss and everything would be forgotten and okay again.

However, Zayn didn’t move anywhere close to his lips. Instead, he held onto Louis’ forearm and his gaze was burning.

“No, Louis.”

Louis immediately whined at the rejection, shaking his head and arching his back. “Please, Zayn. Please, just kiss me.”

Just get rid of Harry from me.

He was firm, though. “I’m not going to kiss you now and let us regret it for the rest of your lives so you can have a moment of peace. I’d rather stay here with you through your dilemma and help you through it and let you have moment of peace for the rest of time.”

Louis knew, deep down, Zayn was right and he was being a considerate best friend who was putting their friendship first to ensure it’d stay intact. But, Louis was stubborn. He crossed his arms whilst still being trapped in the blanket, huffing.

“I don’t need a fucking lecture.”

“It’s not a lecture, Louis.”

“I ask you to do one thing for me and you can’t even do it.”

“Boo,” Zayn’s voice was soft and the evident concern was sweeping through like he was dying to ask what was going on but didn’t have the guts to do so. “It’s going to be a mistake and I don’t want to jeopardise our friendship over a drunken, fucking kiss because you’re upset. Come on. Want me to cuddle you, instead?”

The offer was semi decent.

Louis nodded, rolling onto his side as Zayn slid into the bed from behind him. He wrapped his arms around Louis, pulling him into his chest and tucking his head into his neck. Louis could hear the noise of surprise squeak out of his mouth involuntarily when he saw the love bite riddled neck but he didn’t ask. He just kissed Louis’ shoulder and willed him to sleep.

**

Did I drink too much?
Am I losing touch?
Did I build this ship to wreck?

 

Florence + The Machine - Ship To Wreck

~

The next morning, Louis woke up alone on a cold bed. He groaned for a few minutes, rolling around and pulling his covers over him to allow himself a few more minutes sleep. However, the sleep wasn’t granted and as much as he tried to warm himself up, he was still freezing cold. He decided against trying any harder to sleep. Instead, he got up, showered and changed.

Whilst washing his hair, the events from last night swarmed into his mind and he was suddenly reminded of what happened. He remembered Harry’s hands all over his body, his face pressed into Louis’ neck as he breathed heavily. He remembered feeling Harry’s lace panties and how his whole world stopped for a minute. Then he remembered begging Zayn to kiss him. Pathetic.

The apartment was eerily quiet. Usually, Zayn made a lot of noise which always woke Louis up. He walked into the kitchen where Zayn was busily, quietly preparing breakfast.

Zayn looked up, traces of restlessness evident on his faces but he offered a small smile as he turned the eggs in the pan. Louis felt awful for what he had asked for yesterday but couldn’t find the words to apologise.

“You up already?” He asked, glancing to the clock.

It was 9AM and that was definitely way too early for Louis.

Louis hummed, sitting down. “I remember last night being a complete wreck.”

Zayn shrugged. “You could call it that.”

“I’m sorry I pulled you away from Liam, I know you wanted to stay longer.”

He put the eggs into a plate, a finished full English breakfast and he pushed the plate towards Louis. It was good hungover greasy food. He thanked Zayn, taking the plate and digging straight in.

“It’s no problem.”

“No, it is, Zayn.”

“Look, just forget it,” Zayn said instead, sitting down on the other side with his own plate of breakfast. He took a tentative bite out of his sausage, nibbling at it. “What happened has happened and it’s over and done with.”

“Did you and Liam hit it off, then?”

The mention of Liam caused Zayn to flush, lowering his head. It’s insane how a simple name could draw this reaction out of him.

“Hmm, you could say that.”

“Are you going to get back in touch with him? I kinda ruined your night with him. Shit, I’m sorry.”

“Actually..” Zayn cleared his throat, looking pleased with himself. “We’re going on a date, soon.”

What?”

“I know. It’s crazy.”

“You never go on dates!” Louis couldn’t help the smile that broke out on his face. “What! This is insane!”

“I called him after you fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep myself, went out for a smoke and dialled his number. He was still at the party and we just talked for an hour or so. Then, he asked me out and I…” he paused. “I found myself wanting to go.”

Louis was so happy, he could burst. Liam was a good guy for Zayn, the two of them would weirdly work well together and Louis wanted that for his best friend. Zayn was the most deserving man of love, especially from somebody who was a hopeless romantic as Harry put it.

Harry. Kissing. Panties. Harry.

“That’s good,” Louis said, his voice a touch weak. “Really good.”

“So…” Zayn rolled his hashbrown around the plate, playing with his food more than eating with it. “Can you finally tell me what happened last night? What made you run out like that?” Before Louis could even deny it, Zayn raised a finger warningly. “Don’t even try it. Tell me the truth.”

Louis sighed. “I… well––I…” he struggled. “I, maybe, got it off with Harry at the party?”

“What?” Zayn blinked.

“We danced and we made out.”

“You what?”

“You heard me, idiot.”

“You can’t be serious?” Zayn raised a brow, hints of confusion traced all over his face as he frowned. “Louis, what do you mean you made out with him? You hate him?”

“I know.. And I still do, a little bit. But it all just happened really quickly and then I freaked out and left.”

“That’s shit, Louis,” Zayn shook his head. “You can’t do that and then just leave, it’s not fair on Harry.”

‘I know, Zayn! But I couldn’t do it. I felt like I was suffocating when he moaned my name, I snapped right out of my trance.”

Zayn narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Do you like him, Louis?”

No. I don’t. Absolutely not.”

“Are you sure?”

“Are you kidding me, Zayn? I don’t.”

He put his hands up in surrender. “Do you blame me for thinking otherwise? I mean, you made out with him and that says a lot.”

“It was a mistake. A big, shit one and now, everything’s going to be awkward,” Louis sighed heavily, burying his head in his hands for a moment. “I never wanted to put the play at stake because of our shit.”

Zayn hummed. “Get it together, Louis. Stop leading the poor boy on, he’s hopelessly infatuated with you––”

“He’s not––”

“And if I’m going to be dating Liam, I certainly don’t need my best friend fucking up his roommate’s feelings. It’s going to be a recipe of disaster all of us.”

Louis knew it was true.

The reason why him and Zayn worked so well together was because Zayn wasn’t afraid to put him back in his space. Whenever Louis crossed the line, Zayn was the first one to call him out and inform him of the bad decisions. They worked well together because they were brutally honest with each other and that’s what they needed from each other.

“Okay.” Louis nodded. “I won’t do that again.”

Zayn leaned over, ruffling his hair. “That’s my boy. Now finish your breakfast before it gets too cold.”

**

‘What did I do wrong? H.’

‘Louis, can you stop ignoring me? This is really hurting me’

‘Was it the panties? Did they freak u out?’

‘Please.’

‘We have rehearsal tomorrow.’

Louis read over the texts a few times and then refused to answer them, despite the aching of his chest. He felt like an horrible human being for doing so. He felt even worst at the concept of Harry thinking Louis was backing away because of his choice of underwear when Louis found it undeniably hot. His cock would harden just at the thought. But, he knew it wasn’t going to go down well if he replied to any of the texts.

So, he ignored them.

As much as his hands wanted to move to his phone, text out an reply––he refused to give himself the pleasure.

Louis tortured himself and deleted every incoming text, contemplating whether to just entirely block Harry’s number but it felt too harsh.

Louis found himself thinking about Harry more times than not. There was something about him that wandered his mind constantly, had him pondering all the time, had him wanting more and more from Harry. He wanted to get to know Harry in a way nobody else would because they didn’t want Harry. They wanted his money, his name. Louis had never felt that way, felt no reason to. He wanted to know Harry for Harry.

But, he refused to.

It’d never end on a good note. Ever.

They’re supposed to despise each other, they’re supposed to scowl at the mere mention of each other’s existence.

Yet, here they were. Kissing and making out like they had done it their entire lives.

Louis slipped into his practice ten minutes late. The tube had been packed and he had just managed to find space to stand before the train door had shut swiftly. Patrick gave him an unimpressed look from where he stood on the stage but didn’t comment. He sat down next to Nick, the guy he occasionally used to fuck around him, who gave him a small smile.

“Can we rehearse a scene between Aidan and Casper, please!”

Louis groaned because, of course.

He got out of his seat, walking to the front of the class where Harry was already waiting. He looked at Louis as soon as they were in view, sending him a desperate pleading gaze. Louis regretted looking away but he had to.

“Let’s go over the scene where they discuss their feelings, please.”

Practice was even more unbearably awkward and Louis knew the entire class could pick up on it. Louis stammered over the words, finding them resonating to his current situation whilst, in contrast, Harry spoke in a dull voice. They were both struggling with the scene and he could tell they weren’t doing great considering Patrick was giving them an weird stare, eyebrows raised like he couldn’t quite understand how the entire scene was shambles.

“We can do better than that, please.”

Louis scowled at the papers in his hand but still struggled. Harry barely spared him a glance, not looking up from where he spoke.

The one time their eyes locked, Harry was looking at him pleadingly like he was trying to communicate through his eyes. Louis couldn’t bear the expression painted on Harry’s face, how he looked desperate but he still looked beautiful, eyebrows pulled together and his lips curled downwards. Louis pushed his gaze somewhere else, away from Harry.

At the end of the fifth rerun of the scene, Patrick kissed his teeth.

“Not good, boys,” he commented, idly, not realising the inner turmoil both men were feeling. “I want a rerun of this tomorrow and I want it better, please and thank you. Now, get off my stage.”

Louis jumped down and ran off before he had to look at Harry one more time.

**
The 1975 - fallingforyou

 

~

Louis was walking through the university campus after his last lecture that had ended relatively late, making it well into the evening. He knew Zayn had already gone home without him and was ordering take-out ready for him when he got back to Camden. He just had to talk to his editing professor before he left, to go over their last assignment to ensure he had done it correctly. He walked through the magnificent building, the tall ceilings and the paintings all over the way. Louis could never possibly get over how he attended the most grand, impressive university and how beautiful the interior was.

He walked into the common room to cross through to the lifts when he paused dead in his tracks.

In the distance, there was a group of students gathered around a circle, sitting on chairs. The board besides them clearly stated ‘LGBTQ SOCIETY’. Oh. Louis didn’t know the university offered such a society. He had always avoided any social gatherings with the students here, finding them unbearable to talk to for more than a few minutes and therefore, hadn’t bothered to join any societies.

What was more surprising was Harry standing in the middle of the circle.

He looked nervous, his hair messy as he talked. Louis’ heart started beating right out of his chest as he observed the scene before him carefully.

“Well, I’m… I’ve always been afraid of who I am,” Harry spoke, gesturing with his hands and twisting his body around so he made sure he was addressing the entire group. His hands were shaking but his voice remained steady. “I guess, it was the mixed combination of what my family would say and what would happen to my reputation. It’s hard, you know, being part of such a demanding family. God knows people have given me shit for it.” Louis looked down for a minute, sorrow overcoming him when he realised he was one of those people. “I’ve been told I’m a horrible person, that I live off my parent’s money when it’s quite the opposite. I knew I was gay since I was fifteen. I just hid, I’ve constantly hid my entire life and I’ve drawn curtains over who I truly am. I dated girls equally as rich as me, with the same status, to please my parents and I’ve hurt so many women through my lies. I don’t know who I was trying to convince––myself, the girl or my parents. But… I can’t keep hiding.” Harry took a deep breath and Louis’ heart stopped. “I’m gay. Harry Styles is a gay man and I want to be proud of it so I’m going to let everyone know.”

The group applauded, chattering amongst themselves as a few got up and hugged Harry. He was keening under the approval and attention, his eyes watery as he accepted each hug and patted everyone on their back.

Harry had just come out to a group of people, presumably the first time ever, and Louis felt so much pride he could burst. He felt the urge to run up to Harry and hug him but he kept himself plastered to the spot he was standing in.

“Also!” Harry continued whilst he had the spotlight. “I know I’ve just created a sob story about me and my sad life but I’m still fortunate to live in a country and a time where I’m accepted by the majority. However, in many other countries, that isn’t the case and I’d like to address that issue while I have the time.”

Louis bit his lip so hard it drew blood.

“In many countries, being homosexual or in a relationship with same-sex is punishable by prison or worse, death. We need to focus on tackling the narrow-minded thinking that still exists such countries. We need to be the voice of reason for these youth and adults who don’t have a voice. I’ve passed around a small five page booklet I’ve created which contains some charities that helps and other ways you can get involved. Please, be compassionate and remember how lucky we are. Let’s help others, too. Thank you.”

Louis turned on his heel and marched out of the common room before he burst into tears. He had Harry on his mind the entire tube journey home.

**

“Hello?”

Louis almost cried at the sound of his mother’s voice, familiar and so homely it caused a spark of warmth to scatter through his body. He clutched his phone, his voice tight when he responded.

“Mum.”

He was laying in his bedroom in the dark, not bothered to move from his bed to turn the lights on. He needed something else to concentrate on. Zayn had left to go for his date with Liam, telling him that he was allowed to call him if he needed anything. Louis, however, wasn’t an idiot to screw up his best mate’s date. So, he opted for the the other route. He loved his mother but he hated worrying her which meant he hardly called her when he was upset, found it easier to bottle it up or release it through sexual actions with other people. But right now, what he needed was his mother’s loving.

Johannah, as expected, picked up on his miserable tone instantly.

“Lou?”

“Hmm.”

“What’s wrong, dear?”

“I just feel like crap, mum.”

Johannah sighed. “What’s going on in that beautiful mind, babe?”

“I… I don’t know,” he admitted with a small sigh, pulling his covers over his head and snuggling further into his bed. He closed his eyes, trying to relax and focus on his mother’s calming voice. “I’ve just been a mess.”

“Is Guildhall getting to you, again?”

“Possibly.”

“Louis,” Johannah tutted. “You can’t let a place break you. My son, you’re so much stronger than that. I know you can do this.”

“I know too, mum. But I’ve felt like this since I got the role of Casper, as you know. I just wish I was home right now. London can get lonely.”

Johannah hummed like she understood but she was so faraway. She didn’t understand a single thing. She wasn’t here to see what Louis was going through, how he was trying to drown himself in alcohol and how he couldn’t get his mind off one specific boy who had invaded every part of him. He wanted a moment of peace.

“I bet. But, you have Zayn.”

“I know. He’s on a date, though.”

“Oh wow,” Johannah laughed with a ring of surprise in her tone before settling down, clearing her throat. “It’s okay. He’ll be back with you soon. If you’re really feeling bad and can’t take it, come stay at home for a bit. The girls miss you.”

Louis’ heart swelled at the mention of his siblings. He missed them too. He missed actually talking to Lottie as opposed to communicating through a computer screen, he missed engaging with Fizzy and baking with Daisy and Phoebe though they always failed. He missed running around the house with Doris and attempting to play football with Ernest. It had been too long since he had visited home even though school had only started up four weeks ago.

“I can’t,” Louis whined, almost close to tears as he fiddled with his pillows to get the right position. “Mum, Guildhall is just too intense. I can’t exactly afford to take a personal day off.”

“I know, honey.”

“How are the girls, though? I haven’t heard from Fizzy for a while.”

“Oh, dear. Yeah. She’s just busy preparing for her GCSEs, poor girl.” Johannah laughed. “Lottie is busy preparing for University. My sweethearts, all grown up.” She sounded way too sad about that.

Louis smiled though. “Yeah.. they’ve grown way too fast.”

“Can you believe you graduate this academic year?” Johannah asked in disbelief. “I hardly can!”

“I can. The past three years have gone way too slow.”

“Silly,” she giggled and then paused, sighing. “Louis, love, will you be alright? I worry about you.”

Louis sighed too. “I will be yeah. Don’t worry too much, mum. I’m in good hands. I just needed to hear your voice, I’ve had a long day.”

“Want to talk about it, poppet?”

Though the offer was tempting, he wasn’t ready to share details about Harry just yet when he hadn’t figured out what was going on himself.

He shook his head. “Nah. It’s nothing big, just silly little things. I’m gonna sleep now, mum, okay? I’ll call you tomorrow. I love you.”

“Okay, love. Text me tomorrow too, I love you.”

Louis tried to snuggle into his duvet after he hung up, willing himself to fall asleep so he could get a break from his disturbing thoughts for a few hours.

**

Harry had a long gap between two of his classes so naturally, he invited Liam and Niall into his University and they sat in the cafe together. Normally, you wouldn’t be allowed to bring in strangers but Harry––being who he was––was given special privileges over other students. This is the only particular privilege he took full advantage over, always bringing his two mates around when he was lonely or they were curious about some of the facilities inside the university.

Liam and Niall were always mesmerised when they entered the building. Guildhall had impressive hallways, adorned in chandeliers and paintings. It was like entering a movie set. Harry was very fortunate to attend such a sight for his education every single day. Liam always took pictures of every inch of the building he could find. In some ways, Liam reminded him of Louis. He knew they’d get along as friends.

Harry was sitting opposite his friends on the table with his lunch before him though he had barely touched it. He moved the prawn pasta around with his fork, scowling at it like it had harmed him in some way.

Niall sniggered, taking another forkful of his red velvet cake. “What’s the food ever done to you, hm?”

Harry didn’t bother reply though he didn’t miss the opportunity to glare at Niall.

Liam took another bite of his incredibly healthy wholewheat bread with turkey slice sandwich he had prepared himself.

“So… I went on a date with Zayn,” he casually announced, his voice boastful as he grinned at the two of them.

Niall gasped, his hands flying down on the table and making a huge sound. Harry looked at Liam intently, waiting for more details. He had no idea that him and Zayn were even remotely close let alone dating. It just showed how out of touch he was with his friends because he’d rather spend his time sulking over a man who didn’t care about him. Who was embarrassed of him. Who didn’t even like him.

Harry frowned, stabbing the pasta.

“How was it?! I knew it’d happen, I just knew!” Niall’s voice was extremely high, yearning for details.

Liam blushed as he dipped his head. “He’s… yeah. I think he’s the one.”

Harry raised his head. “You’ve only been on one date. How could you possibly know?”

“Because,” Liam said firmly, not backing down from his statement or the scowl Harry was sending him. “When you meet someone special, you just know it. You can feel it in your bones, or whatever.”

Niall ignored Harry. “What did you do for your date?”

“Well, he treated me. He was a proper gentleman, brought an Uber to my house and everything. We went for a really nice meal at Bel Canto, it was a lovely French restaurant.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

Harry cleared his throat. “It’s some fine dining restaurant near Paddington. I wonder how Zayn afforded it.”

Niall swatted his shoulders. “Just ‘cause you don’t have to worry about your money, don’t be rude about others.”

“I’m not being rude!”

Liam rolled his eyes. “He used some of his savings. He’s special.”

Harry remembered faintly that he had discussed Zayn with Louis. They were having an intense text message conversation about their friends and who they associated with. Harry had launched into a full essay mode about his two friends. He talked about how Liam was soft, innocent and really, just a cuddly bear and how Niall was a menace. Louis, in turn, had talked about how Zayn liked to fuck anything with legs. He wondered if Zayn actually liked Liam or if it was part of his little game?

“Why are you being so fucking moody, anyway?” Niall directed the question towards Harry, clearly not impressed. “I thought we were over letting people dictate our feelings.”

Harry hadn’t told his friends about what happened over the weekend at the party. Some things, he wanted to keep for himself to process. Ever since they had made out against the wall and Louis touched his panties, things had gone downhill. They ceased to talk, at all and Louis avoided him at all costs unless it was impossible at practice. Whenever their eyes met around campus, Louis was quick to divert his gaze.

At first, Harry was eager to get Louis to talk to him. He didn’t care how desperate he came off. Louis had seen one of his most private secrets. The panties were a thing for Harry. He felt soft and pretty in them, he liked wearing them and nobody knew. He felt like he had opened up an intimate, personal secret with Louis but Louis had left it hanging there. The first person ever to find out about his underwear was also the first person to reject him for it.

But as the week passed and Louis continued to believe Harry no longer existed, much like how they were in the beginning, Harry gave up. He wasn’t going to keep trying it with somebody who clearly found him repulsive and had no interest in return.

“No one’s dictating my mood or feelings,” Harry said firmly because right, Louis didn’t mean anything and why the fuck was he even upset? He stabbed his pasta again but lifting the forkful to his mouth, forcing him to swallow. “Who said that?”

“Your beaten down face says that.”

“Nah. ‘m fine.”

Liam didn’t looked nearly as convinced though, narrowing his eyes carefully. “You sure, babe?”

“You heard from Louis since?” Niall interrupted their conversation as nudged Liam. “Zayn must’ve said something?”

The mention of Louis’ name caused Harry’s eyes to widen, listening closely.

Liam shrugged. “Zayn said it was personal and he couldn’t exactly what had happened with Louis. But, he seemed pretty shaken up at the night of the party. Zayn tells me he’s fine.”

“Shaken up?” Harry piped in before he could stop himself.

“Yeah,” Liam nodded. “He just came out of nowhere, shaking and close to tears. Zayn took him home immediately.”

Oh.

Harry didn’t comment any further, nodding curtly as he dropped his head back to his food and fiddled around with it. Niall gave him a funny look. He knew the blonde lad was going to drill him later for answers relentlessly until Harry gave in.

“Louis!” Niall’s voice broke his train of thoughts, all three of their heads snapping up to where Louis was passing the cafe.

Louis stopped in his tracks, moving back to see where the sound was coming from and he seemed to visibly relax when he noticed it was only Niall. Louis looked gorgeous but when did he ever not? Louis was effortless. He never bothered with his appearance, was never dressed to impress or took time out to look a certain way. Yet, that was what made him undeniably flawless, how easy he was.

He edged towards the table slightly, offering an awkward smile and resisting Harry’s gaze at all costs. He didn’t even look towards his direction and it caused Harry’s heart to ache in his chest.

“Hey, guys,” he offered, laughing. “What’s up? How comes you both are here, in Guildhall?” Then he smiled towards Liam. “Hi, I’m Louis. You’re dating my best mate, Zayn.”

Liam only grinned, nodding despite the fact that he had heard more about Louis than any other sane person.

“Hello, Louis. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“Likewise.”

Niall patted the spare chair besides him. “Sit, boy! We’re never here, we’re only visiting ‘cause we’ve all got frees and poor Harry was being sulky and needed some company.”

Harry didn’t bother to defend himself, not speaking up as he focused on his pasta like it was a masterpiece work of art.

Louis hummed. “Well,” he drawled the word out. “I’m glad you’re both here, anyway. It’s a nice campus, isn’t it?”

“Hell, yeah. You Guildhall are being treated like royals up here!”

Louis snorted. “I hardly agree,” he opened up his bag, pulling out a prepacked baguette. “Zayn made this for me this morning because I don’t eat during the day and he hates it,” he offered an explanation even though nobody asked. The other boys, however, replied to him.

Harry had to physically restrain himself from saying anything.

“So, how’s university going for you guys?” Louis conversed, for once. Isn’t it a fucking joke how Louis hated and despised everybody that came in his path but got along with Harry’s mates? This had to be a joke.

Liam easily supplied his experience first, ranting about how Law was absolutely killing him and how he didn’t care about Tort Law. Niall didn’t have any complaints, however, as he was perfectly content with his music course and wouldn’t change it for the entire world.

Nobody asked Harry and he felt pretty invincible where he sat.

A part of him was urging to reach over to Louis, to shake his shoulders and force him to spare him a look. A single look. Any look. And ease Harry’s mind because he felt like he was positively going mad. Louis looked completely fine, not a trace of distress evident on his features as he kept a steady conversation going with Liam and Niall. Harry was losing sleep for days and Louis was fine.

Fuck this. Fuck him. Fuck Louis and his entire existence and for ever attending Guildhall and intertwining his life with Harry. Fuck him.

“What about you, Harry?”

He looked up, startled. “Huh?”

Liam looked amused, repeating himself. “We were just talking about whether you’re going to watch ‘The Girl on The Train’ in cinemas, it came out yesterday.”

“Oh. Yeah, probably.”

Louis still didn’t look his way.

When they were finished with lunch, they decided to call it an early day and go home to relax for a while. Liam and Niall lived close, they could pop home and take a nap and Louis was done with his day so he was heading towards the station. Liam and Niall, obviously, offered to drop him to the station so Harry tagged along like a loser. He walked behind them, claiming to be absorbed with an affair on his phone. Nobody asked.

“This is me then,” Louis smiled, gesturing to the station. He squeezed Liam’s bicep. “Give Zayn time, yeah? I think he really likes you too, it could work out in both your favour.” Liam offered a dazzling smile, nodding eagerly and squeezing back. Louis waved to Niall next but Niall skipped ahead, crushing him into a hug. Then, Louis turned to Harry.

For the first time that entire day, Louis was looking at Harry.

He didn’t convey a single emotion on his face, no remorse, no sorrow, not even anger. Absolutely neutral.

He did, however, offer a small nod before walking into the station and swiping his oyster down to walk through the barrier.

Harry watched him walk away and before his friends could catch up, he stormed off in the opposite directions, ignoring their pleas and calls.

Chapter Text


The Acid - Basic Instinct
**

Louis was being an asshole and he knew it.

He was purposely ignoring Harry. He had resorted to switching off his phone so he could refrain getting pitiful, soppy messages but it seemed that Harry gave up anyway. He wasn’t sure whether he felt relieved or saddened. He almost liked Harry chasing after him but Harry was independent, he was strong enough to carry himself and he sure as hell wasn’t going to stand for Louis’ shit. Louis knew that well enough.

The truth was, Louis didn’t want to feel anything towards Harry. He didn’t want to feel fond towards him, to form a friendship–but it’s happened.

He had set out this year with one specific goal in mind: to win. To get on top. He had already failed that goal with receiving Casper and now he was falling behind because he was engaging with Harry more than he had in the past two years. Harry, as great as he could be, was a distraction and threat and Louis had to treat him like so.

It also became easier to avoid Harry during lectures because the boy, quite literally, disappeared.

He stopped attending lectures on Monday at the start of the week and now it was Thursday and there wasn’t a single sight of him. He wasn’t attending lectures or seminars, he wasn’t turning up to practices and nobody had seen him around the campus. This angered Patrick, ranting how he wasn’t getting any replies to his emails and he needed Aidan so they could practice their scenes.

A part of Louis was urged to reach out to him somehow, drop a text, ask his roommates, go to his house but he stopped himself. Harry wasn’t Louis’ friend. They weren’t friends. They were simply partners in this industry whilst completing their degree and there was no need to ask him. He would show up whenever he wanted to.

Zayn and Louis were sitting in a burger joint. He had been busy recently with Liam, always spending his free time besides studying with him. Louis didn’t mind. He was rather mesmerised to find his best friend had found somebody who he was willing to get serious with because Zayn had made it clear it was never one of his goals in life. But, Louis needed attention today so he forced his best friend to hang out with him.

Zayn noticed his somber mood instantly and offered to treat him to burgers.

“How’s Liam?” Louis asked, hoping Zayn would somehow supply any information he had about Harry indirectly. He used his knife to cut the burger into two slices, picking up the left side first. “I see he takes up most of your time now.”

Zayn flushed a deep red like he always did when the mention of Liam’s name was brought up during a conversation.

“He’s good, actually. Really good,” Zayn bit his lip, shaking his head fondly before taking a huge bite out of his burger and stuffing his face with chips immediately after. “So perfect.”

“Are you guys officially dating yet?”

He shook his head. “It just feels too soon to immediately put a label on it.”

“Have you confessed your feelings to each other?”

“Yup. And fucked on their couch.”

Louis wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Yuck, Zee! I sit there!” The two of them fell into silence after Louis said that and it causes Louis to stab his burger. “I used to sit there,” he corrected mutely.

Zayn gave him a look of sympathy. “Well, I’m sorry but not sorry about it.”

“Where’s Brian, anyway? Wasn’t he like close to be your boyfriend as well?”

He shrugged. “We broke things off at the night of the party, when he disappeared.”

Louis widened his eyes in surprise. He wasn’t aware of this. “What? So when you came back, you had just ended things? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It wasn’t a big deal and he was never a big deal either. Sure, we were touchy and clingy but we were using each other. Brian wanted something more serious, I didn’t. Well, not with him anyway it seems,” Zayn knitted his brow, sighing, “I’m glad I did that, though. I’ve met Liam now.”

“Hmm. Right.”

They continued to eat their burger in silence for a few minutes, not exchanging any other words. Zayn offered him the rest of his cheesy chips, claiming he was far too stuffed already and couldn’t possibly finish it. Louis packed up his and Zayn’s portion of their chips for later.

Whilst Louis was eating his last slice of burger, Zayn cleared his throat and broke the silence of meaningless conversation.

“You keep asking me about Liam, but what about Harry?”

Louis almost dropped the food in his hand, looking up to him with confusion. “What?”

“I said, what about Harry? I know something happened and you’re not telling me.”

“Nothing happened,” he said stubbornly, “nothing since the party.”

“So you’ve just stopped talking to him?” He had a hint of judgement in his tone.

“Wasn’t that your suggestion?” Louis defended himself.

Zayn looked bewildered. “No? I never suggested you cut Harry out! I said, sort it out. Don’t lead him on if you’re not interested!”

“Well,” Louis drawled the word out, shrugging. “It’s over now, anyway. Doesn’t even matter anymore.”

Zayn frowned. “No wonder Liam was ranting about Harry the other day,” he muttered, mostly talking to himself, “the poor boy has been truly upset the past two weeks. You’ve really fucked up.”

That sparked something within Louis. “I didn’t mean to do anything!” He dropped the last bite of burger into his plate, suddenly losing his appetite. He knew Harry had been hurt, he wasn’t entirely oblivious. But he had imagined Harry would get over it and move on. They didn’t exactly have a pristine friendship that Harry would have many expectations from. “I just did what I thought was right. I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with a proper friendship with him, I’d always end up resenting him in one form or another and I can’t do that if we’re talking.”

He shook his head. “You have to let this go, Louis. We’re not in first year anymore. There’s no threat anymore. You said yourself, he wasn’t even interested in doing theatre.”

“It’s complicated.”

“No, you make it complicated for yourself. The damn boy likes you, it’s clear.”

“Well, he shouldn’t!” Louis continued to argue, his mood slipping further down. He hadn’t expect Zayn to be on his case like this. “He shouldn’t,” he repeated, his voice slow and sorrowful.

Zayn’s hard expression melted right off his face as he got up from his chair and walked around to him. He crouched down next to Louis, holding one of his sauce tainted hands and squeezing even though their hands got sticky though.

He was barely audible when he spoke. “Look, I’m sorry Louis. I don’t mean to sound rude, honestly. It’s just, I’m seeing a different perspective of this whole situation, you know?” He sounded desperate for Louis to understand. “Jaan, I see how this affects Liam now and it goes beyond hurting Harry. It hurts his mates too. I’m not on any one side here and even if I was, I’d be on yours. But, you need to fix this. Even if it means you have to tell him you’re not friends with him, tell him.”

Louis’ heart race came down again, slowing, taking in Zayn’s speech before nodding in a silent promise.

“Fine.”

“Thank you,” he untangled his hands from Louis, getting up. “Do you wanna get that packed up? I need a cuddle session and some movies, please.”

**

Louis promised his best friend that he would talk to Harry tomorrow after practice. He’d catch him right before Harry could slip away, just be brutally honest and confess how he felt. He had the whole speech planned out in his head. He kept repeating the words to himself: he wasn’t interested in a friendship, or anything, and they should go back to respectively despising each other. However, the plan went to fail when Harry still refused to turn up to any of the scheduled lessons.

Patrick was frustrated, throwing his hands in the air. “Where is my Aidan?!” He growled. “We’ve been practising for the past week without the main character. That boy better have a good reason to be away!”

Louis had been curious about Harry’s whereabouts but now, he was concerned. Harry never took days off university. He was a star pupil with an immaculate track record, a perfect attendance and 100% pass rate on all his assignments. He had barely taken a day off in the past two years, let alone one whole week.

He couldn’t deny the nerves that shot through his body. He knew exactly where he was going after lessons.

**

Louis was standing outside Harry’s apartment block, trying to compose himself. He wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. The brisk five minutes walk here had consisted of Louis’ tormenting, second guessing thoughts. It still wasn’t too late to turn back around and go back to the station. But, Louis knew he couldn’t keep hiding from his feelings, hiding from a person that he was hurting because of his selfish actions.

He gathered his thoughts together. When a lady walked out of the apartment block, he slipped in quickly before the door could shut.

Louis could never quite comprehend the luxurious apartment Harry lived in. He felt like he was entering a different world. When he reached the lift, he pressed down on the fifth button, glancing at the impressive size of the lift and bopping his head to the classical tune swifting through the air.

When Louis emerged from the lift, he took small strides to Harry’s door and continued to contemplate.

Deciding to take the plunge and stop being a wuss, he inhaled and knocked on the door. It was far too silent. Normally, there would be shouts behind the door from Niall and running around. There was barely a shuffle and it caused Louis’ heart race to accelerate. The door flung open, then, revealing Harry.

Harry stood before him but Louis couldn’t make out his face because his head was facing downwards, casting a shadow over his face and descending him into the darkness. He was wearing loose clothes, fuzzy socks over his feet.

Louis’ heart wrenched as he stared at Harry’s crouched body language, an arm around his waist as he tried to keep himself upright. Something felt terribly wrong but the words were stuck in Louis’ throat.

He didn’t look up and Louis didn’t speak.

They both stood there at the front door, not meeting each other’s eyes and the silence grew thicker with the tension that arose between the two boys.

Without a word, Harry moved to close the front door and Louis immediately put his foot in the way to prevent the door being slammed in his face. He was trying to gather the courage and he needed a minute but he certainly didn’t need Harry closing the door on him.

“Harry–” He finally managed to say, trying to open the door again with just the feet. Harry let off the door. “Please, I gotta say something.”

“What could you possibly want to say, hm?” Harry demanded to know, hostility shining through his voice. He sounded wrecked and there was traces of raspiness that didn’t sound good. “You’ve said everything you needed to in your fucking silence, Louis. I’m tired. I don’t want it.”

Louis shook his head. “No, no. Listen–”

Go, Louis. Fuck off from here! You don’t belong here!”

Harry seemed to get more worked up with each word, tears building in his eyes as he furiously blinked them back. Louis’ chest lurched as he walked into the apartment, grabbing Harry’s shoulders and forcing him to look up. However, his heart fell to the pits of his stomach when he noticed Harry’s face.

It was battered. There was a dark purple angry bruised blossoming under his eyes and around his cheekbones. His nose was swollen, red and he had a busted lip. He had plasters around his eyebrows, healing from a wound. He looked truly defeated.

 

Louis’ mouth hung open. He immediately slackened his tight hold, releasing Harry’s shoulders. He felt an immense feeling of the need to protect Harry surge through his veins. All he wanted to know was what the fuck happened.

“Harry..” His voice trailed off, wavering from the fear he was feeling and the dread swimming cold in his veins. Careful, as to not hurt him, he guided Harry to the sofa and sat him down. The room was in darkness except the dim lamp. He switched on the lights, trying not to flinch how Harry looked even worse now.. “Harry, what is this?”

Harry shrugged, not meeting Louis’ eyes. “You should leave.”

“No,” he said immediately, “I’m not leaving.”

“You were fine in doing so in the past two weeks.”

“I know and you know what?” Louis said. “That was wrong of me.”

“You’re only saying that ‘cause I’ve got some fucking bruises on my face now,” Harry gestured wildly to his beaten face as he scowled. “You can save your fucking pity, Louis. I never needed it before and I certainly do not fucking need it now.”

Louis swallowed. He wasn’t sure he could recall a time Harry had spoken so harshly to him and he knew, deep down, he deserved it. He took a step towards Harry, not missing how he flinched, which caused another painful chest lurch.

“You can think what you want of me,” Louis started, “and it’s probably all true except that I care, believe it or not and I’m not pretending because of some bruises. I’m sorry for everything and I want to explain but.. I’m not leaving so don’t make me leave.”

Harry looked down at his carpet, refusing to meet his eyes.

“Where’s Niall and Liam?”

Harry shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Did you eat today?”

Harry shrugged again. “I dunno.”

Harry.”

“No. No, I haven’t.”

“When’s the last time you ate?”

He cleared his throat. “I… um–honestly, I don’t know.”

Louis cursed under his breath, walking to the kitchen immediately and switching on the lights. He ignored Harry’s pleas as he grabbed the ready made mac and cheese microwave meal from the fridge. He knew Harry didn’t eat processed food but Louis didn’t care. He needed something down Harry’s throat. He warmed it up for three minutes, pouring a large glass of water and took it back to the living room.

“I don’t care how much you protest,” Louis told him firmly as he put the food down on the coffee table. “But neither you or I are going to move from this place until every last bit of food is clean from that plate.”

Harry flashed him a dangerous look but obeyed, grabbing the plate and wincing at the sudden movement.

Louis sat on the sofa opposite, crossing his legs and watching patiently as Harry brought the fork up every time and swallowed. Neither of them spoke. Louis didn’t feel the need to fill in the silence, allowing the boy the time to finish his meal though his skin was crawling with the urgency to know how the bruises had appeared on his body. He noticed how Harry’s throat moved painfully with every swallow, how his hands shook whenever he brought the fork up.

He made a mental reminder to have a go at Niall or Liam, maybe both, for leaving Harry alone in this fragile state.

When Harry was done, he pushed the pasta plate away and Louis took it to the kitchen to wash. He put the washing liquid on the plate liberally, lathering it up and cleaning it under the warm water spray.

Harry approached him in the kitchen, leaning against the door of the fridge with his arms crossed as he observed carefully. After a few minutes, he spoke again.

Why are you here, Louis?” He asked, sounding more tired than before like their interaction was quite literally draining him. “Why?”

Louis turned around to face him, ignoring the question to ask his own. “Who hurt you?” He asked instead, gesturing to the messed up face. “Tell me.”

Harry scoffed. “It was no one. It was myself, I tripped.”

“Where have you been the past week, then?”

“I went home to Surrey and then I injured myself, my driver drove me back today morning. Is there anymore questions you wanna ask that you don’t deserve the answer to?”

“So you were with your family?”

“Yes.”

Louis frowned. “You can’t just up and leave during the middle of a semester, Harry. What do you think you’re doing?”

Harry walked up to him slowly, frustration evident all over his features. “And why the fuck do you care?” He bellowed. “It’s literally none of your business. I don’t even know why you’re here, acting like my fucking housewife.”

“Then kick me out,” Louis dared.

“I will.”

“Go on. Tell me you hate me, never want to see me again and kick me out.”

They stared intensely at each other, Harry’s chest rising up and down as he was continued to be spurred on by Louis but neither of them spoke. He looked away, then.

“Why are you here?” Harry just pathetically repeated himself, not wanting Louis to leave clearly.

Louis shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know I can’t go back to hating you anymore.”

“Why not? I thought that’s all I was, a threat, somebody you could despise to release your frustrations upon?” Harry spat out.

Louis took a step forward. “I don’t know anything, Harry. I’m a complicated, difficult person and I can never get anything straight in my life. But that’s not all you are, fuck. Not anymore.”

Harry continued to look at him furiously. “You’re fucking confusing. You need to stop fucking with me.”

“I’m not fu–”

“You left as soon as you found out I wear panties. Is that the problem?” Harry tilted his head to the side. His voice remained steady but there was vulnerability in his green orbs. “Are you disgusted, Louis? Is that what bothered you enough to cut me off and ignore my existence?”

“Jesus,” Louis muttered under his breath, walking up to him and holding him by the bicep gently. “No, fuck no. I’m not like that, Harry!”

“Sure seemed like it!”

“I found the panties fucking hot!”

“Then why did you show everything but that?”

“Because I’m afraid!” Louis finally screamed out. “Because I don’t know what the fuck is going on between us and I’m scared of everything. Is that what you want to hear, Harry? Is that what’s going to get you off tonight? To show you’ve affected me?”

Harry’s face softened immediately, his tense frame relaxing.

“Louis, I–”

“Just stop,” Louis begged. “I just don’t want to talk about it anymore, please. Just no.”

Harry frowned but he didn’t press the matter. They were still seething with the words they wanted to say but neither of them spoke.

“I’m going to leave now,” Louis announced when the silence went off for a minute too long. “I’ll see you around. Please eat something or I’ll beat Niall around the head.”

And with that, he left, leaving Harry standing in the apartment on his own.


DON BROCCO - Nerve
**

Louis was invited to the pub by his entire theatre group. They were celebrating their success in the play so far, how well they were doing. Patrick had set up the event, urging every theatre student to attend and bring along any friends. The more, the merrier.

It was a pub located on Great Portland Street, small and discrete. Patrick had rented out the basement so everyone could mix in well without worrying about different strangers. However, as Louis walked down the stairs, he faintly saw some unfamiliar, older faces sitting around.

“Guess, we can’t stop everybody from sitting down here,” Patrick said as soon as he spotted him, offering an apologetic smile.

Louis chuckled, shrugging. “Not bothered, man. It’s quite alright.”

Zayn was already waiting for him with Liam. They were sitting together, Liam on Zayn’s lap as they fed each other breadsticks and giggled into each other’s chest. Louis’ heart warmed upon noticing the two of them but he made a show as he sat down opposite them.

“You guys are disgusting, gross, blinding me,” Louis complained as he picked up the pint Zayn had already ordered for him. He took a sip. “Keep it in your pants, will you? Not everyone wants to see you two kissing.”

Liam looked up, bright red in the face and soft eyes as he waved enthusiastically. “Hello, Louis! Nice to see you again, mate.”

Louis smiled tightly at him, nodding. He felt an urge to yell at Liam, demand to know why he thought it was a good idea to leave Harry alone. But he resisted. Liam was, regardless, still a better friend than Louis could ever aspire to be. It’d be out of his element to complain when he had done worst.

“Hey, Liam. Glad to see you’re keeping my boy well fucked, he’s been considerably less cranky since he’s met you,” he replied.

Zayn glared at him but Liam only laughed, tightening his hold around him and resting his head on Zayn’s shoulder.

“I’m glad to do the fucking, is all.”

Louis stuck his tongue out. “Ugh. Too much detail, please, no thanks,” he paused, taking another sip of his drink, “where’s Harry? Is he here yet?”

Louis hadn’t seen Harry since the last encounter at the apartment. He knew he had explained he didn’t hate Harry but, he still hadn’t made any move towards proving it. He hadn’t texted him, or called him. He was still desperate to know how he was doing.

Liam looked at him closely and then shrugged. “I haven’t seen him.”

“Nah, I did,” Zayn supplied, “he came in and then wandered out again to take a call. Maybe he’ll be back.”

“How long has he been gone for?”

“I dunno,” Zayn shrugged. “A little while?”

“Useless,” he muttered under his breath.

The night kicked off gracefully.

Patrick got a microphone and started speaking, forcing the entire class to interact and play games so they could have some fun tonight. It was awkward due to the vast number of students but they all attempted to get along. They got through a successful game of truth or dare, managing to force Patrick to lick the floor as everyone recorded the event.

Patrick got up from the floor, exclaiming. “Yuck! You guys are vile!”

“Oh, come on, Pat!” Louis said, smirking. “It’s not too bad.”

“I just licked a dirty pub floor, you dick!”

They continued to play a few games. Liam and Zayn were asked to kiss in front of everybody and the couple didn’t even hesitate to snog and give everyone what they wanted. Louis watched in disgust, sipping back his drink.

Just when Patrick was about to make a speech, Harry wandered in.

He looked a little wild, his eyes wide and electric and he looked jittery as he rubbed the hands down the side of his jeans. It had been four days since he last saw Harry and he was relieved to know most of his bruises had faded, they were just an mucky yellow colour that were barely noticeable. He looked healthy again, colour back in his face as he strutted in and muttered his apologies. He walked straight to their table, plopping himself down besides Louis but keeping a safe distance.

Liam was the first to speak. “Y’alright, mate? Zayn says you disappeared for a while.”

Harry only smiled though it didn’t meet his eyes. “All good, Li. No worries.”

Louis wanted to ask further questions but he knew it wasn’t his right so he bit his tongue, keeping his eyes trained on his glass of half empty beer. Harry didn’t make a move towards talking to him, either. He engaged with the other guy besides him, an international student that Louis had never even seen before.

Patrick continued with his speech.

“Welcome guys! I’m so glad you all made it to the event, was getting a little afraid nobody would show up!” Everyone laughed, Louis smiled, too. “Well, as you know, today was to celebrate our great success and hard work towards our play! Now, if we can keep this up, we’ll be right on track for our performance dated in April. How exciting!” Everyone applauded. “Tonight was an excuse to get drunk, hang out and have fun. But whilst we’re here, I’d like to say thank you to two very special people,” he glanced straight at Harry and Louis. “Give it up for our Aidan and Casper because, we would be nowhere without these two talented boys!”

Instantly, the entire crowd started clapping. Harry took the attention, nodding at everyone across the room whilst Louis lowered his head in embarrassment, his cheeks heating. Patrick ended the speech there, ordering everyone to start drinking and dancing. The karaoke started playing and students instantly jumped up to join along.

Louis nodded to Liam and Zayn. “You both going to join in?”

Liam shook his head, nuzzling his head in Zayn. “Um, nah. I’m hardly part of your class, don’t think it’d be appropriate.”

“Oh cmon, they love you,” Zayn argued.

“They don’t know me, darling.”

I’m dying for a smoke though,” he patted over his jeans pocket. “Come outside for a minute, babe?”

Zayn and Liam both got up, muttering out their excuses before slipping out of the door with their fingers twined. That left Louis and Harry alone together. He felt a tingle shot up from spine as he twisted his torso to address Harry for the first time tonight. However, he was surprised to find the space besides him empty.

He didn’t remember feeling Harry moving away.

His eyes wandered up, filtering around the crowded basement and faintly noticed Harry sitting by the bar. There was an older man, obviously, sitting besides him and lightly stroking his arm. Harry sipped at his drink, giving him the flirty look where he batted his eyelashes and conveyed his feelings way too easily. The man, however, seemed to enjoy it. They were engaged in conversation that Louis simply couldn’t hear from where he stood.

Louis wasn’t sure what he was feeling but it was an ugly sensation, it blossomed deep within his gut and he despised every second of it. He hated how another human being could have such an effect on him. He had never allowed anyone to affect him before and he was seriously over Harry having an unspoken control over him.

He refused to do anything about it.

He sat by the table, hands clutched around his glass as he drowned the last drop of his beer.

Nick approached him then, eyes twinkling as he slid another glass of beer across the table towards him. Without being invited, he sat down opposite him.

Louis and Nick had a long history. They had met during fresher’s week in the first year where Nick had tried to hit on Louis shamelessly at the club. Within minutes, he was fucking Louis against the dirty public toilets wall and since then, it just escalated. There was absolutely no emotional bond or connection between them, they’ve hardly had a conversation that didn’t involve one of their dicks being sucked.

“Thanks for this,” Louis gestured to the beer, picking it up and taking it a long sip.

Nick was beautiful. He had a strong jawline, never shaved his stubble. He had wide brown eyes, messy brown hair that he always styled up in a quiff. There was something undeniably attractive about him due to the confidence he portrayed, making him feel self assured and effortless.

Nick dismissed him with a wave of his hand. “No problem. Saw you from a distant and brought you one.”

“Cool.”

“How’s last year going?”

Louis raised a brow at the conversation, smirking. “Want your dick sucked, is that it? Come then, baby,” he waggled his brow, teasing.

Nick bursted out laughing, attracting some attention and Louis noticed out of the corner of his eyes how Harry looked over at the sound. Nick, however, remained oblivious. He moved forward, holding Louis’ hand.

“Nah, man. I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Do I seem that pathetically lonely to you?”

“A little bit, yeah. Your friends abandoned you.”

Louis smirked, grabbing Nick’s finger and bringing it to his mouth to bite down on hard. It caused the man to yelp, withdrawing his hand and pouting.

“Yah. Zayn just got into a relationship so he’s a fucking clingy minx recently,” he complained, sipping his beer.

Nick cradled his finger. “Are you ever gonna settle down much like your best friend?”

“You absolutely wish, Grimmy. The night is young.”

He smiled. “That’s more like the Louis I know.”

Louis took a sip of his beer. “So, what you planning to do after this year finishes? Graduation is going to be around the corner.”

“I don’t know,” Nick said honestly. “I already know theatre is a long shot for me so maybe something else.”

Louis frowned. “Hey, don’t push yourself down like that. Have you seen your skills? Magnificent, mate.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “It seems like you want your dick sucked considering these compliments.”

“Is it that obvious? Shit,” he replied playfully.

Before Nick could open his mouth to reply, Harry had stormed back and found his way at the table. Without even acknowledging the other man, he looked at Louis and beckoned him to follow. Louis knitted his brow.

“Wha––”

“Just follow me.”

Louis nodded, getting up from where he was sitting. He pushed his unfinished drink towards Nick, muttering out an apology before running after Harry. They walked up the stairs and out of the pub, standing outside in the dark October night. The wind hit him brutally as he shivered, cuddling up to his shirt.

“What’s your problem?” Louis demanded to know, eyes narrowing at Harry. He refused to acknowledge the relief that Harry was away from that man. “I was in a middle of a conversation.”

“You’d seriously fuck that?”

Louis was a little taken back and maybe a bit offended. “Is there a problem?”

“So, you fuck him?”

“I don’t see how this is any of your business.”

Harry nodded. “Yeah, well. You’re right, it isn’t.”

“Well, then, why did you bring me out here then?” He asked, his voice more steady than he felt. “Just so you can stop me talking from somebody, seriously?”

“Couldn’t help it.”

“That’s rich,” Louis chuckled humorlessly, fiddling with his jean pocket and bringing out his cigarette. He lit it up, taking a long drag and only replying once he had exhaled. “You got a lot of nerve for even thinking that when you talk to any older man that even looks towards your direction.”

Harry’s face contorted to hurt. “What are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything, you prick. I’m just telling you what I’ve noticed.”

“For your information, I don’t talk to anybody like you implied. I simply talk to people who talk to me so I’m really sorry you can’t pick anybody up!”

Louis moved his head back, letting out a laugh in surprise. “You really think I can’t––? You know what, it doesn’t even matter.”

“Of course. Nothing matters with you.”

“You were jealous, Harry. Just admit it.”

Harry shrugged, his shoulders squared. “Yeah, so what? Maybe I was? Maybe I don’t just kiss and take advantage of people and then leave.”

Louis rolled his eyes, not bothering to reply because he had no idea what to say. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling. It felt like a whirlwind of different emotions, mixing within him and he had no words to understand what it meant. Harry stood before him, honest and hurting, and Louis had no words.

“Let’s go back inside,” Louis suggested, flicking the end of his cigarette.

Harry’s eyes dulled. “Will you ever come to terms with yourself, Louis? You’re so complicated and you never talk to me!”

“Fuck this,” Louis muttered, taking two steps towards Harry and holding him in place before dropping an unsure, tentative kiss on his lips.

When he pulled away, Harry’s eyes were hazy and he whispered out. “You can’t do this to me, Louis.”

“Kiss me,” was all he pleaded in return.

Harry looked torn at first but he obeyed. He held Louis’ chin firmly, looking into his eyes like he was trying to read him before reconnecting their lips. Their lips moved together, like puzzle pieces that belong together. Harry took control over the kiss, licking into his mouth firmly. The feeling was familiar and it lit Louis’ bones, making him feel more alive than he had felt in weeks. He was craving Harry’s touch.

Ever since Louis got to unravel Harry’s life, one by one, he was finding him more irresistible with his bitten plump lips and his bright eyes and his giving heart.

Harry pushed him against the wall, lodging his thigh between Louis’ legs and rutting down right in the middle of the street. Louis groaned softly into his lips, his eyes fluttering shut as Harry moved off and trailed down to his neck, biting down hard.

When they finally parted, Louis noticed Zayn and Liam standing across the road with their hands twined, smiling at the two of them.

Louis rested his hand against Harry’s shoulders, laughing. “God. We have some bystanders staring at us.”

Harry smiled at him. “Let’s give them something to look at, then,” he suggested and connected their lips again.


Two Door Cinema Club - Bad Decisions
**

The two last weeks were, possibly, the best time Louis had spent since moving to London.

After the event at the pub, he had received a long talk from Zayn. They had sat down on the sofa together with a tub of ice cream each as he set Louis straight. He encouraged him to embrace the feelings Louis felt towards Harry, to stop running and face it.

So, Louis did.

He texted Harry regularly, talking almost all the time about the randomest things. Harry was a pleasant person to keep a conversation going with and he never faltered in giving steady, quick replies. Louis had sent an apology to him for his behaviour, promising to try harder and Harry had accepted it easily.

They were becoming, somewhat, friends.

Though, they chose to ignore the kiss and what it meant––it wasn’t awkward and it didn’t affect their growing friendship. Louis preferred it that way.

He was currently sitting in his apartment on the table, eating at his slice of toast and trying to ignore Liam and Zayn’s blatant flirting before him as they cooked up some pancakes together.

Zayn turned to him. “What toppings?”

“Um, just icing sugar, please.”

“Coming right up!”

Louis turned his gaze to Liam. “You know, I’m glad you keep him around. He’s finally learning to cook, maybe I can be well fed for once.”

Liam laughed, patting Zayn’s shoulder as he took the plate off him and put it down for Louis. Louis finished the last bite of his toast before indulging into his next serving of breakfast.

“Well, he’s a natural,” Liam complimented. “Fast learner, picks up well.”

“Saps.”

“Always.”

Zayn was blushing when he turned around, hair tousled and only dressed in his boxers as he sat down on the table. Liam walked to the table, holding a protein shake in one hand and his Apple Watch in the other.

“Okay, babe. I’m gonna go for my morning run and head back to the flat, see you tonight?” Liam suggested with a hopeful smile.

Zayn nodded, mouthful of pancakes. “Mhmmmm. Bye, baby.”

They kissed briefly before Liam pulled away, looking pointedly at Louis and then walking out of the apartment.

“What was the look about?” He asked.

“Hmm?” Zayn asked, distracted and then realisation swam over his face. “Oh, that. Well, we’re finally confirmed we’re boyfriends so we’re going out tonight. You, too.”

“Finally, Godsakes,” he paused, “are you celebrating that?”

“It’s our anniversary.”

“Um… I don’t think it quite works like that..”

“Shut up,” he swatted Louis’ shoulders, “Niall and Harry are coming along too, obviously. It’s kinda nice how we’re all one big group.”

“We’re not, firstly and secondly, isn’t that weird?” He pondered out loud, cutting another slice of his pancake with his cutlery. “The beginning of this year, only a month and half ago, that wasn’t what I expected, at all.”

“Expecting what?”

“Well, you dating for one. That’s a huge surprise and… me talking to Harry. I guess, also, just mixing in with other people?”

Zayn hummed in agreement before shrugging. “Third and final year of Guildhall full of surprises.”

Louis’ phone buzzed and he ignored all conversation, immediately reaching for his phone on the table. He checked his notification. Obviously, it was Harry.

(08:05am): When are you coming in for practice today???

(08:05am): Also, good morning!

(08:06am): [Picture Attachment]

(08:06am): I’m tired, as u can see.

The attachment was a picture of Harry, his hand resting on his chin with a pouty expression. He was still dressed in his nightwear, a hoodie pulled on top and his hair tucked in-between a beanie. He looked tired, his eyes droopy and bloodshot. He looked comfortable and cuddly and Louis felt fond. Harry was so endearing.

(08:07am): good morning loser, you look tired. Get more rest.

Harry replied almost instantly, as usual.

(08:07am): we have a lecture in an hour and half, lou.don’t be a bad influence

(08:07am): don’t be pouty then, Harry !!!! See you then.

When he lowered his phone, he noticed Zayn’s amused expression as he put another mouthful of pancake into his mouth. Louis raised his brow.

“Got something to say?”

“Yuuuup. You’re smitten for Harry.”

“Um,” Louis laughed at the ridiculous idea, “I am not and how do you even know I’m texting Harry?”

“Because in the past week, when you smile and your eyes crinkle, it’s a code for Harry.”

“Says who?”

“Says me and Liam,” Zayn said proudly. “You’re smitten and you don’t even know it,” he chuckled to himself, finishing the last bite and dropping the plate in the sink. He grabbed his bag, leaning down to kiss Louis’ cheeks. “I gotta go and I won’t see you later but we’re all hanging out at the restaurant: Iberica in Marylebone. It’s Spanish. 7PM, sharp!”

As he left, Louis picked up his phone to call Harry about their meeting up later tonight.

**

Louis arrived at Iberica at 7:10PM. He approached the table where all his friends were already seated. Liam and Zayn, obviously, were sitting besides each other–or more like, on top of each other–and were feeding each other the appetiser. Niall was sitting besides them, picking up pieces of olives and trying to throw them into his mouth. There was a spare seat next to Harry and Louis took it happily.

“You ordered food without me!” Louis cried, moving forward to grab the olive and popping it into his mouth.

Harry beamed. “You made it.”

“Correct, curls. I did. Here I am, in the flesh,” he gestured to himself.

Niall cheered, hi-fiving him and handing him another olive. He relaxed in his chair, shrugging off his jacket. Louis liked how well he mixed in with Harry’s mates. It felt natural and the conversation flowed easily. Sometimes, he felt like he had known them since the beginning of time. In the short time he had been interacting with them, he had gotten to know them pretty well, too.

Liam was the goofy, innocent friend who was impressionable and just wanted to keep everybody happy. It was why Zayn was extra protective of him, trying to save him from Louis’ devious ways.

Niall was the one friend who was always down for fun. He was quite literally insane. Bright, electric, an extrovert. You could practically ask him if he’d like to go skydiving in an hour and he’d be onboard, never missing the opportunity.

And Harry was Harry.

Louis always struggled when he had to describe Harry because the man was beyond words itself. He had a soft side to him that was undeniable, fragile and always seeing the best in other people. He was giving and compassionate. He never used his name or fame to advantage, he was humble and modest. The other side to him was fierce, able to stand up for himself and know when he was being played a fool. Combined, Harry was the person Louis often aspired he could be like and he was only fortunate enough to know somebody like that.

Zayn tutted. “We haven’t ordered food yet. We just got hungry so we got some starters.”

“It’s barely been ten minutes, you dick! You could’ve waited!”

He rolled his eyes, pushing the spare plate of bread with olive oil towards him. “We ordered you a little something too, don’t worry.”

Louis accepted the plate gratefully, splitting the bread in two and handing some to Harry who took it happily. The two of them munched on their bread, easily engaging in a three way conversation with Niall who exclaimed how his music professor was an absolute dick and he was struggling with composing the song of his assignment.

Louis gestured to Harry. “Why don’t you help him out, Harry? You are a musician, too.”

“I am not,” he groaned.

“You like music and you can sing, you also songwrite. I’d say you’re a musician.”

“I haven’t done anything in months, maybe a year,” Harry said quietly, more to himself and Louis rolled his eyes.

“Exactly the reason to start now! Niall needs help, be the good best friend.”

Harry seemed contemplative of the idea, finishing off the last of his bread before he nodded towards Niall.

“Okay, what’s the problem? What’re you struggling with?”

The conversation filtered between them as they bantered back and forth, teasing Zayn and Liam and for their unbearable, disgusting public display of affection. When the waiter came to order, Louis got garlic prawns with pasta whilst Harry opted for beef cheek carpaccio.

“Oh,” Louis quickly added before the waiter walked away, “I’d like a bottle of Viñas del Vero wine under my name, please,” the boys looked at him questioningly, he rolled his eyes, “on the house for the celebrations, duh.”

The waiter nodded, writing down the order before collecting the order and walking off in the opposite direction.

Zayn was gaping. “Louis, that bottle is seventy quid. Have you gone insane?”

Louis smiled. “For the happy couple, yeah? My treat.”

They all cheered. Harry looked at him fondly, like he had stars in his eyes, and it made Louis feel dizzy. He could always get lost in his green orbs.

The food arrived shortly after and they all dug in immediately. Niall didn’t waste any time to pull his phone out and snap pictures of his friends around the table. The first few shots, Louis covered his face but on the third attempt, Harry entered the shot, throwing up a peace symbol. Louis pouted in Harry’s direction, hovering above his cheeks as Niall took the picture.

Niall cackled, saving all the pictures and promising to send them to everyone later.

The bottle of wine arrived as the waiter poured everybody a glass, putting the remnants of the bottle down on the table.

“To the happy couple!” Louis said, raising his glass as everyone clinked and started taking sips.

Harry turned to him. “I never considered you to be the romantic.”

“I’m not,” he wrinkled his nose at the suggestion, taking another bite of his food.

“You so are, you’re fond of their relationship, admit it.”

“They’re cute, yeah.”

“I never thought you’d think so!”

Louis laughed easily, taking another sip of the beautiful wine that tasted crisp and clean. “I didn’t think so either but it makes him so happy, just look at him–” They both paused their conversation to look over to the couple who were blushing, sipping each other’s wine and tasting each other’s food. They looked absorbed in their own affairs like the rest of the world didn’t exist. “–I never thought I’d see the spark on Zayn’s face, you know? I always thought he was hopeless, gonna fuck around and never settle down. Now, look at him. It’s nice.”

Harry’s expression was awed and it took him a few seconds to reply before nodding. “Y-yeah. I think I can say the same for Liam but… he was in and out of horrible, emotionally manipulative relationships due to his nature.”

“What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “You know, he’s like a big teddy bear, so soft and too trusting. People took advantage of that.”

Louis glanced over to Liam and his soft expression before smiling sadly. “Yeah.. I can see that.. Poor him.”

“At least he’s got something precious, now.”

The night continued in the same upbeat manner. They all ordered desserts, opting for Tarta de Santiago and cheesecakes as they switched the plates around between the five of them. Liam fed Zayn and Harry copied. He brought the spoon close to Louis’ mouth who licked it off with an exaggerated moan, popping off the spoon with an audible sound. Niall groaned.

“Can we not? I have enough from the other two.”

Louis winked. “Now that you say so,” he picks up a spoon, repeating the actions with Harry’s mouth on the spoon instead.

Harry kept his eyes locked with Louis’. He batted his lashes as he made a show of licking the spoon clean, trying to take the spoon further down like he was deepthroating a spoon. A fucking spoon in the middle of an expensive restaurant full to the brim with middle and upper class rich families.

Louis was frozen on the spot, his hands trembling around the spoon as he roughly snatched it out and narrowed his eyes.

“Behave,” he warned under his breath, the authoritative ring coming through without even meaning to.

Harry just winked at him, turning his attention back to the other three on the table as Louis stared in astonishment. Harry was fucking insane.

They continued to tease Liam and Zayn as a team, taking turns to humiliate and make them squirm as Niall laughed and continued to snap most of the night. By the time it was nearly 9PM, they had finished their three courses and the wine bottle as they slipped out in the cold brutal winds.

Harry and Louis walked together to the station as the other three opted to go to a pub instead. Harry claimed he was tired, though and Louis offered to take him home.

“It’s Halloween soon,” Harry stated as they walked down the steps into the station, swiping their Oyster against the barriers and walking onto the Bakerloo platform. “We’re probably going to throw a small, get-together at my apartment, will you come?”

Halloween was in a week’s time and it was one of Louis’ favourite holiday. He had fond memories of going trick or treating with his siblings and later in the night, celebrating with his mates.

“Sure, why not?” Louis smiled as the train arrived and they got on, taking a seat besides each other. “Will all your snobby, rich friends be there?”

Harry snorted. “If you put it like that, yeah.”

“Sorted, then.”

When they reached Charing Cross station, they both exited and parted ways. Harry gave him an awkward wave, smiling before walking off and Louis couldn’t stop beaming as he walked down to the Northern line.

Fucking Harry Styles.

**

“You like him.”

Louis’ head popped up from where he was staring intently at the TV screen, mouth full of brownies. “Hmm?”

Zayn came and sat besides him, pulling the blanket over his frame and snuggling into Louis’ side.

“You like him. You like Harry Styles.”

Louis scoffed.

“You bloody wish.”

“You like him,” Zayn repeated, like he hadn’t heard a word Louis had just said and then fell asleep against him.

**

Louis promised Harry he would come to the next meeting the LGBTQ society held. Harry had begged him to come along, told him he’d enjoy it. Louis was genuinely curious about how the society worked, what they discussed in the meetings, so he decided to take up the offer.

He walked through the campus and headed towards the common room where the meetings were held.

He saw the group gathered around a circle, fifteen odd students that were engaging with each other. the usual banner was placed on a board to welcome all the society members. Harry was one of the founders, he worked closely with everybody. Harry was there now, talking to one of the boys who Louis recognised from first year. He was crouched down next to the boy, Harry’s attention entirely on him and soft understanding in his green eyes.

Louis admired the scene from far. He knew the work Harry did for these students was beyond words could describe. He spoke out about issues, he created a safe place for everybody else and he was always ready to listen to others. He made the society somewhere anybody could attend.

Louis announced his arrival by approaching the group and waving to everybody.

A few people looked up at him, surprised. As expected, Louis’ coming out as pansexual during a lecture spread like a wildfire and soon enough, every student attending Guildhall was aware. However, Louis still refused to talk openly about his sexuality and he only now realised he could be a positive, healthy role model for others through representativity.

Harry looked up, his face breaking into a smile as they hugged ever so briefly. The students cried out with gasps at the unexpected contact between the two of them.

They hardly ever hugged. Sometimes, Harry would embrace him when they’d meet up together. It was Harry’s way of reassuring everything was going to be fine and it relaxed Louis. He enjoyed all the embraces he got from Harry.

Harry looked to the students, rolling his eyes. “What? Louis and I are friends.”

Louis smiled. “Yes, friends.”

“I thought you both hated each other? Like, everyone talked about it?” One of the girls with blonde, long hair asked with furrowed brows.

Louis laughed. “Don’t get it mistaken, I still hate Harry very much.”

He scowled at him, swatting his shoulders. “You don’t.”

“I do, curls.”

“He’s lying, guys,” Harry tried to convince the crowd, gesturing to a spare chair. “Sit down, my mortal enemy.”

“Yessir.”

Harry started speaking then, drawing everyone’s attention as he introduced himself. He welcomed all the new members of the society, giving a brief outline on what it was they did as a group and what they aspired to be. Louis watched from his seat as Harry spoke confidently through the entire speech, his words never faltering and he gestured with his hands. They discussed a few topics: non-binary members of the community and the prejudices and sufferings they faced, many deaths of transgender individuals and they discussed a harder subject: religion and sexuality.

Louis was quite mesmerised.

The group were a good bunch of people, open and ready to talk about personal experiences and putting everything out on the table. A girl didn’t hesitate to open up about her bullying experience when she came out, a female to male transgender boy talked about how his family refused to accept his gender and how he countered the problem.

Louis listened to every single person in the group as they went around in a circle, speaking about a personal experience. He could relate himself to almost every single one of them. The fear you feel when you come out, how you react to that and how to deal with that. When the circle came to Louis, he cleared his throat.

“I’m.. not sure what to say, if I’m being honest,” he admitted, his words barely audible as the fifteen students and Harry looked at him.

Harry smiled. “Just.. maybe, tell us about your coming out or your beliefs or how you feel? Anything will do.”

“I guess, I can talk about my coming out?” Louis suggested and only continued when he got the go-ahead nod from Harry. He settled back on his chair, the palms of his hands flat on his thighs. “Well, so. I basically knew I was interested in both genders since a very young age, particularly inspired by Glee. I sorta never had trouble accepting it? I’m quite independent so the thought of being disowned or left didn’t bother me, I knew they didn’t deserve me. So, I firstly came out to my friend Stan who spread it around the school. He didn’t mean it in a bad way, it was high school gossip and he was a prick so he did it, anyway. I got kinda bullied for it?” He frowned, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m in, no means, trying to make my situation seem bigger than it is, I’m very fortunate, actually. But, yeah. People mocked me, teased me, cornered me and tried to bother me about it. I knew it was going to reach my mother’s ears soon so I came out to her first before it could get to her through somebody else.”

He paused and when it lasted a beat too long, Harry supplied. “What did she say? If you don’t mind sharing.”

Though the experience was pleasant, just the memory made Louis’ eyes tear up as he exhaled shakingly. This wasn’t what he expected when he chose to attend, he never imagined getting emotional in front of strangers and Harry.

“She was an angel about it. She told me she loved me,” his throat grew too thick for a second and he swallowed. “She hugged me and told me to forget about what those bullies said because I’d always have her. Then, she brought ice lollies from the fridge and we watched Glee together. She was curious about bisexuality so I gave her all the information I knew myself. Along the years, somewhere, I realised I’m pansexual. I’m attracted to people, not genders.”

When he finished, the students all clapped for him and Harry did too, his eyes tearful himself.

The entire session finished quite quickly after that as Harry handed out refreshments, putting music on after all the heavy conversation was over. Everybody spoke up, talking to each other but Harry strode over to Louis before anyone could grab his attention.

He hugged him for the second time, holding him close and letting his warmth envelope Louis.

“‘M proud of you, I know you don’t believe coming out is important but I’m sure that helped so many people today.”

Louis sniffled into his neck. “You cried.”

“You’re just a good person, all round and I was taken back by your honesty,” Harry admitted, pulling away from the hug, eyes glistening. “Thank you. It means so much.”


Passenger - You’re On My Mind
**

Louis sensed something was wrong the moment he walked into the lecture hall. He searched out for Harry and was only met with an solemn, beaten down expression. Harry’s body language was guarded, trying to make himself appear smaller as he wrapped his arms around his body. Louis took a seat next to Zayn.

Zayn was working on his dissertation but he liked visiting the theatre group and watching how they were getting along with the play.

“Morning!” Louis chirped brightly, feeling quite the opposite every time his eyes drifted down to Harry’s figure. His chest clenched. “What’s this?” He made a move for Zayn’s food.

Zayn swatted his hand away from grabbing at his croissant. “Get your own, leech.”

“I didn’t have time!”

“Too bad.”

Louis pouted, settling in his chair. “Fuck you.”

Acha.”

“Dunno how Liam puts up with you.”

“He loves to put up with me.”

Louis rolled his eyes, not bothering to reply to him as his eyes travelled back to where Harry was sitting. The urge to reach out to him was huge, but he refrained–painfully stubborn for absolutely no reason.

Zayn noticed his glances. “Go talk to him.”

“I.. I’m sure he’s fine.”

“Are you telling me that’s fine?” Zayn scoffed, taking a sip of his coffee and giving him an unimpressed look. “You’ve been doing really well so far, don’t mess it up now. Go and comfort him like a real friend would, go on.”

Louis didn’t.

He waited till the very end of the lecture before he approached Harry tentatively, a little sheepish as he smiled at him. Harry turned to him. Usually, his face brightened at the appearance of Louis. However, today, his face remained dull.

“Yes?” Harry asked.

Louis frowned, moving forward to touch Harry’s bicep. “Um–Harry–what’s wrong? You.. you seem sad.”

“I am sad,” he admitted, not skipping a beat.

Louis stepped closer. “What’s… going on, then? Talk to me.”

“Don’t wanna talk.”

“Do you want to go somewhere?”

“H-home,” Harry mumbled, voice pitiful and small. “Please. Take me home.”

“To yours? Sure, I can drop–”

Harry shook his head, dropping his head on Louis’ shoulders. “No. Somewhere else, please. Please, Louis. I need it.”

Louis swallowed around the lump that kept growing in his throat, instantly curling an arm around his waist and bringing him closer. He hoped it’d comfort Harry somehow. He had never seen Harry so vulnerable. Louis wasn’t going to fuck this up. He wasn’t going to make Harry feel even worse.

“Okay, sure. We can do that,” Louis nodded, “let’s go, come on. Careful. Come on.”

**

The minute they entered Louis’ apartment, Harry started sobbing.

Harry was observing the new environment, taking in Louis’ apartment. He walked around the kitchen, the living room before sitting on the sofa and bursting into tears. It was a heart wrenching feeling to hear the cry rip out of Harry’s chest, it sent vibrations through the entire room. Louis was by his side instantly, embracing him as they both sat on the sofa.

Harry was a mess, breath hitching and hiccuping as he buried his head in Louis’ chest and continued to let out painful, open sobs.

Louis’ chest constricted as he tried to keep up, holding him close. “Just let it all out, babe,” he let the petname slip, only spurring Harry to cry harder. Oh. Maybe not, then. “Harry, just let it out. I’m here. I’m not going to be an ass, I’m not like before anymore. I’m here for you.”

Harry listened, crying harder until there was no other sounds between them. Louis waited patiently as much as it hurt him, pinged his chest. There was really nothing he could possibly do. He couldn’t take away the pain from Harry. He couldn’t make him stop. He couldn’t do anything but hold him, guide him through the streams of tears that kept pouring.

Louis didn't ask any questions. He didn’t need to know until Harry was ready to talk.

What felt like half an hour later, Harry started to calm down finally. His loud crying was reduced to small sniffles and whimpers, his lip wobbling against Louis’ chest and Louis finally found himself exhaling.

“You good?” He finally asked.

Harry only muttered. “I made your shirt wet, Lou,” he groaned.

“I can dry it out, no worries.”

“Old Louis would’ve cursed me out for this.”

Louis snorted. “I’m still the same Louis, you’re just a new Harry for me.”

There was a beat of silence between them before Harry sighed, snuggling further into his chest. “I’m sorry about this.”

He tightened his hold, arms securing and trapping Harry within him. “You apologise again and I’ll actually kick your ass.”

“I’m so sad.”

Louis hummed. “Want to tell me why?”

He shook his head. “N-no.”

“That’s okay, too. You don’t need to,” Louis promised. “We can just sit here all day, if that’s what you need or want.”

“Sounds good for now.”

They remained embraced without exchanging a word but it was still comfortable. Harry was warm and he smelt good, like a soft vanilla scent that was comforting and reminded him of Johannah. Harry’s body fit into Louis’ perfectly and it was something he could get used to.

“Louis…” Harry’s voice was unsure, slow. “Can you.. Do something for me?”

“Um, of course?”

“I need gentle..” he said, his finger tracing circles on Louis’ jean over his thighs, carefully. “I need tender, please.”

Louis hummed. “Tell me what to do.”

“Kiss me, please. Lay me down and kiss me.”

Louis ignored the increasing heartbeat hammering out of his chest, his palm sweaty as he nodded after a moment. He could do that for Harry. If that’s what he needed, he could give it to him. He enjoyed kissing Harry and he would do anything to cheer him up in that moment. He detangled himself from Harry, holding him down gently but firm.

“Shuffle down... I’m going to push you down so you’re laying on the sofa,” Louis informed him, taking each step slowly so Harry could keep up.

Harry nodded, bracing himself and moving so his head could rest comfortably on the arm rest. Louis pushed him down with a hand on the middle of his chest, ensuring he was comfortable with his limbs all stretched out. Louis straddled his hips, his legs either side of Harry as he hovered above him.

“Tell me how you want it,” Louis asked, tracing Harry’s bottom lip with his thumb and keeping eye contact with him. He wanted to wipe away the sadness.

Harry blinked up to him, honesty behind his eyes. “Soft.”

“Okay. I’m going to kiss you now, Harry,” He said before leaning all the way down and pressing his lips over Harry’s.

The kiss was gentle, as requested, and it started slow. Louis took his time working over his lips, they were chapped and bitten but they still tasted sweet. Louis nibbled on his bottom lip, drinking in the broken whimpers that escaped him and Louis swallowed them all. He licked Harry’s teeth, trying to ask for permission and a minute later, they tongues met in a tender kiss.

Harry was pliant underneath him, his hands travelling all over Louis’ body as he was crouched over and taking his time with the kissing.

He pulled back, observing how his green eyes had instantly brightened and the sorrow was evaporating.

“Shall I keep going?”

“Mhm.”

Louis granted his wishes, starting off with small pecks continuously before Harry moaned and he deepened the kiss.

It was pleasurable, it was sparking something within Louis as he cradled Harry’s cheeks, cupping them and stroking his thumb over his smooth skin. Harry continued to release small sounds, Louis kissing them all away.

After a while of slow kissing, never increasing the pace, Harry finally pulled away. There was a faint hint of a smile, barely tugging at his lips and Louis couldn’t help but goofily smile back at him.

“Hey..” Harry said, his hands settling on Louis’ waist and halting him. “Do you think I can take you up on that offer of teaching you how to bake carrot cake?”

Chapter Text

The next morning, his phone buzzing with a call woke him up. Louis grumbled, his eyes fluttering open as he observed his surroundings. It took him a minute or two to register where he was, he was still in Harry’s apartment. He was on the sofa, a blanket over his cold body. There was light filtering through the large windows. He yawned, stretching his arms before reaching out for his phone.

“‘Ello?”

“Louis, where are you?” Zayn sounded panicked.

“Um.. what time is it?” Louis blinked.

“It’s 10AM, fool! Where are you? You didn’t come home all night!”

“Oh, I’m—um,” he sat up straight on the sofa, stretching his arms above his head. “I’m at Harry’s, Zee.”

There was a long pause that lasted for a moment too long before Zayn finally spoke.

“You what?”

“You heard me.”

“What’re you doing there?”

“Well,” he picked up his discarded jeans from the floor, wrinkling his nose as he popped them back on. Sleeping on this sofa wasn’t comfortable, at all. “I stayed over with Harry, what else?”

“I… I wasn’t aware the relationship had progressed so far.”

“It didn’t progress anywhere, please shut up,” Louis groaned, getting up and walking to the kitchen so he can grab a glass of cold water. “Is Liam at ours?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. Well, I’ll see you later, then,” Louis said, hanging up before Zayn could say anything else. He wasn’t in the mood for a lecture or anything Zayn had to say, for that matter. He gulped down his cold water.

He wasn’t sure whether he could walk into Harry’s bedroom and intrude on his privacy, it was his personal space and he had to respect that. Instead, Louis decided he could prepare breakfast for the two of them to thank him for letting him stay.

When they had finished baking carrot cake and fooling around last night, it was far too late and the tubes had stopped working. The next tube he could catch was somewhere around 5am and it made sense to just stay the night instead.

Louis wasn’t the greatest person when it came to the kitchen and preparing meals, though. He opted for the basic breakfast he knew how to make without mistakes to ensure it’d turn out good. He toasted four pieces of bread, pulling out different spreads from Harry’s cupboards.

Whilst he prepared the breakfast, his hands kept wandering to the carrot cake they had baked last night. He kept breaking pieces off, popping them into his mouth and moaning around the delicious cheese cream icing. Harry’s carrot cake recipe was gold and he had managed to learn the recipe. He was definitely going to pass the recipe onto Zayn and force him to make it for him.

After a few minutes, Harry walked out of his bedroom.

He had showered, his hair hanging limp and wet and he had changed into a new set of clothes. Yesterday’s sadness had been wiped away, he now looked completely neutral and upon seeing Louis, he beamed. He walked up to the kitchen, observing the food ready for him and his eyes brightened.

“You did this for me?”

Louis snorted, placing a glass of water down. “It’s hardly anything, it’s just toast.”

“It is.. I thought, maybe, you would’ve left.”

Louis swallowed thickly and shook his head. “No.. um, no. I won’t be doing anything like that anymore,” he reassured, pushing the plate of toast towards him as Harry took a seat. “I got strawberry jam, marmite, nutella, honey—anything you’d like to use. Was a little offended when I didn’t see peanut butter around.”

Harry scoffed. “Peanut butter is disgusting, no thanks.”

Louis gaped. “I should leave just for that.”

Harry shook his head, letting out a laugh as he grabbed the strawberry jam and knife, smothering his slice with the jam. He sat down on the stool, bringing the plate towards him and offering a small smile

“No, please.”

Louis shook his head fondly, sitting down opposite him and covering his slice with nutella. “I usually have one with Nutella, one with peanut butter but considering you don’t have it, I’ll be extra unhealthy with two slices of Nutella, then.”

“I’ll keep peanut butter around in advance, then.”

After Harry let the sentence out, silence grew between them with the assuring promise Louis would be here again. Harry looked up to him, a little fearful but Louis just smiled and nodded.

“Thanks, curls.”

They ate their breakfast mostly in silence, having a few conversations here and there about their schedule and what they had to do for the day. Louis told him he had to catch up with his friends from back home, Harry claimed he had a lot of work to catch up on since he decided to sulk and cry yesterday. They discussed the Halloween party in more detail, discussing outfit ideas and Harry mentioned wanting to dress up as Harley Quinn. Louis imagined Harry in skimpy shorts, fishnet tights and crop top and the only way he could respond was gulp down his water, nodding.

“You should be my Joker.”

Louis shook his head. “Absolutely not. I will not support that relationship in any way, shape or form.”

He looked at Louis fondly, eyes twinkling as he agreed. “Well said. What do you want to dress up as, then?”

“I was just thinking of going for a basic policeman outfit.”

He waggled his brows. “Ooooh. I think I’d like that.”

“Good thing I don’t need or care for your approval then,” he smirked, biting down the last bite of his toast. “I wonder why’d you like a policeman outfit.”

“Because you’d look fit,” Harry supplied without a moment of hesitance, keeping his eyes locked with Louis as he took another bite.

“Oh, would I?”

“Mmhm. Just imagine. Tight white shirt, black waistcoat or whatever the hell they are, tight slacks.”

“You’re crazy, Harry,” Louis mumbled, shaking his head. “I’d imagine Harley Quinn outfit is going to be.. Difficult.”

“Difficult is one way to put it.”

“Do you know what Liam or Zayn are dressing up as?”

“Hmm, Liam mentioned something about matching couple outfits.”

Louis scoffed. “They’re disgusting and gross.”

Harry laughed out loud, crumbs spraying everywhere. “You find them endearing and you can’t even admit it.”

Louis rolled his eyes, getting up from his space and picking up both their plates to take to the sink. “Yeah, right,” he remarked sarcastically.

Harry walked up to him and together, they washed the dirty dishes. Harry did the washing and Louis helped to put the plates back in their respective places, getting a cloth and wiping down the dirty kitchen surface.

“We still on for our coffee date later today after lectures?” Louis asked as he put the Nutella back in the cupboard, turning around to face him.

Harry nodded. “You bet.”


Rixton - We All Want The Same Thing
**

“Louis! Are you ready? We’re running late, man!”

“Chill out, Zee!” Louis groaned, pulling the last of his skin-tight leather pants over his thighs, unlocking his door and revealing himself.

He had decided to change his outfit last minute and surprise everybody. The idea had occurred to him when he was doing grocery shopping and saw the face paint, picking it up and searching online for ideas. He imagined he could be relatively creative with face paint. In the end, he ended up with a white paint slathered over his face, black in his cheekbones and around his eyes to create a skull effect.

Zayn was dressed as James Barnes from Captain America with his metal arm and his hair gelled down, made to appear longer than it actually was. He was wearing black pants, baggy around his legs with builder boots. Liam was dressed as Steve Rogers, complete with his suit and his shield. They were both matching, as promised and looked adorably gross.

“You both look amazing!” Louis complimented, giving them both awkward side hugs before smoothing his hands over his leather pants. They were tight and almost borderline ucomfortable but he was going to force himself to wear it for the entirety of the night.

Zayn was gaping at him, impressed as his eyes travelled around Louis’ body.

Jaan, you look stunning, wow. Your thighs in those pants, damn,” he complimented and neither of them missed Liam’s jealous pout, “and your paint!” He stepped forward, lightly touching Louis’ face, “how did you manage to do this yourself?”

Louis shrugged. “I found some tutorials on Youtube, followed it and ended up with this.”

“It’s perfect, really.”

“Thanks, babe. Nice to know I pulled it off.”

Louis liked receiving praise for when he was able to do something right. Though, he was confident with his body since he worked hard for his figure, he never showed off or flaunted. It was nice once in awhile to get the rare opportunity to do so. He was ready for more comments during the night.

Harry had changed the venue of the Halloween party from the apartment to a club, claiming the number of people attending would be difficult to host in his apartment. He had found an amazing club in High Street Kensington and managed to rent out the entire balcony so it was only open for the guests. It was a stunning venue. As soon as Louis stepped out of the Uber, he was left gobsmacked.

“How does Harry afford this?”

Liam shrugged. “Wealthy family, what can you say?”

The club was more like a mansion, a huge building that looked like a castle complete with three stories. It was surrounded by bright green lawn and flowers growing on each side and around the building. The music was loud and could be heard from across the road, vibrating into Louis’ chest. There was a long line of individuals waiting to go in, all dressed up in their Halloween attire.

It was satisfying to skip the line, walk straight to the front and give Harry’s name before being granted entrance with no wait. Louis could enjoy these added perks that came with being associated with Harry. They took the lift to the terrace and Louis continued to feel mesmerised by the entire place.

The balcony was stunning. It had a perfect view of London below them in the night, buildings illuminated and the London Eye could be seen from a distance. The party was bustling with life that Louis had never seen before, there were only a few students he recognised from school, but the rest were unknown faces. They all looked like people of great importance, dressed in the finest of materials and walking around like they owned the place.

But Louis was only anxious to see one person tonight.

“Where’s the man of the hour?” Louis asked, trying to bite back the urgency that rang clear in his tone, smiling sweetly at the couple. “Love you both, really, but I’m quite done with being a third wheel, thanks.”

Liam let out a loud laugh, covering his mouth. “You might wanna check around the back there,” he gestured to one of the secluded parts of the balcony, covered by drapes that were drawn.

“The host of the party is hiding, how lovely,” Louis rolled his eyes before waving at the two of them and walking off towards the direction he had been shown.

He pulled the drapes back, revealing himself to a group of five men all sitting around and drinking their champagne, laughing. Niall was sitting there in his dracula outfit he had been talking about for weeks. He looked good, the makeup was well done to make his eyes look hollow and fake blood dripping out of the corner of his eyes. The other men Louis didn’t recognise but he smiled at them, anyway, introducing himself.

It was only when Harry appeared from behind the drapes, revealing himself when Louis’ voice was caught in his throat and he was left stunned.

There Harry was, as promised, in his Harley Quinn outfit.

Though he had a disadvantage due to his short hair, he still had pulled off the look almost immaculately. He had painted his face, pink and blue eyeshadow on either one of his eyes with smudged red lipstick and a perfectly drawn black heart underneath one of his eyes. He was wearing a ‘Daddy’s Little Monster’ top, just settling above his belly button to reveal smooth, tanned skin paired with red and blue sequined shorts that barely covered his ass. He was wearing fishnet tights, faux tattoos evident on his legs and he had a bomber jacket on top, pulling the entire outfit together. He hadn’t opted for the white heeled lace up boots which caused Louis to pout. In one hand he was holding a baseball bat, in the other, gin and tonic drink as he paused when his eyes fell on Louis, too.

They stood opposite each other with some distance between them, not speaking or moving.

There were many things Louis wanted to say but all he could really do is gulp loudly and shut his eyes for a second.

Harry was fucking insane and he made Louis feel crazy, too.

Harry finally gathered the courage first to make his way up to Louis, smiling widely with a hint of smirk like he knew exactly what he was doing. He handed Louis a drink sitting on the table that was untouched.

“You finally made it,” he breathed out.

Louis nodded, mute, as he grabbed the drink and took a long needed sip. “I did.”

“You changed your outfit.”

“I did.”

“Shame,” Harry pursed his lips. “Was looking forward to mess around with handcuffs.”

Louis nearly choked on the liquid in his mouth. “I bet you would.”

“Do you like my outfit?” He asked, giving him a little twirl and a perfect view of Harry’s perky ass tight in his shorts, turning back around with a lazy smile sprawled across his lips. “Took me awhile to get everything.”

“Mm. ‘S nice.”

“Oh, is it?” He smiled. “I quite like this on you, too. I think you pull off the skull look well and those leather pants are nice.”

“I.. um, actually,” Louis gestured back with his thumb. “Somebody was calling me, I gotta go.”

Harry smiled knowingly. “Okay, you go do that, then.”

 

Louis rushed back to the party, grabbing Zayn and pulling him off Liam without much of a warning. He dragged his best mate to a secluded area, halting them both and then groaning out loud in frustration.

Zayn gave him a strange look. “Um… what? You interrupted my dance with my boyfriend, what do you want now?”

“Harry’s dressed as Harley Quinn, dear God, help me!”

“So what?”

“So what? He looks absolutely obscene. I think I may die,” Louis said quite seriously, running a hand through his hair as Zayn continued to look at him with amusement.

“For someone who says they don’t like Harry, you sure act like you do.”

“I don’t like him. Can you stop insulting me like that?” He rolled his eyes, his palm smoothing out of his black and white top. “He’s just… fucking hell, I don’t even know what I’m saying or doing right now.”

“You like his outfit?”

Louis paused, contemplating. “I love it.”

“Then, what’s the problem, exactly?”

“It’s just… he looks so good, Zayn.”

“I’m aware.”

“And he’s going to dance with older men tonight, I know it and God. They’re going to touch his ass and,” Louis frowned, sulking now as he crossed his arms. “I just know it.”

“And you want to dance with him?”

“That’s besides the point.”

“What’s the point, then?” Zayn asked. “You gotta tell me, I don’t appreciate you keeping me waiting from Liam.”

Louis groaned. “I don’t know, actually. I don’t know anything.”

Zayn let out a chuckle, clapping his shoulders and squeezing with a reassuring smile sprawled across his lips. “Look, if you want to dance with him, then do it. If you wanna go to the toilets and jack off to thoughts of him in that outfit, then do it.”

Louis swatted his shoulder. “Fuck you.”

“Just have fun, man. Stop letting everything get to you so heavily. Harry looks good, so do you—seize the opportunity. Go on.”

He hated how Zayn was always right. They hugged briefly before Zayn returned to his boyfriend and Louis scavenged off to another corner of the party. He didn’t return to Harry, not immediately. No. He wasn’t going to give the boy the pleasure. He was going to get drunk and he was going to have fun on his own accord, he didn’t need to drool over him when there were plenty of different people here to fuck with. He found himself immersing with a group of girls, all dressed like nurses and catwoman, typical outfit but it was hot, regardless. Louis danced with some of them, drinking down all the beer that could come his way. One girl slipped her number into her pocket, winking as she moved away.

When Louis looked up, he couldn’t deny the thrill that went down his spine as him and Harry held eye contact across the balcony. Harry had taken off his bomber jacket now, left in his skimpy crop top. He was staring at Louis intensely. Louis, however, only stuck his tongue out to him and moved onto the next group of people.

He found two men who wanted to dance. Louis stood in the middle of them, both the men grinding down on him as he threw his head back and his beer fell down the side of his mouth. One of the men leaned down, kissing the side of his mouth to drink the beer and moaned into Louis’ mouth.

It felt dirty and wrong because it wasn’t Harry and as much as he wanted to edge away, he forced himself to lean into it. It was worth the while.

One of them brought out a pill, putting it on his tongue and waggling his brow at Louis to take it.

“I don’t kiss,” Louis told him lamely.

“You’re boring.”

“Give me the pill.”

The man rolled his eyes but regardless, he popped it out his mouth and ordered Louis to stick his tongue out. He obeyed and the man placed it in his mouth, watched with a dark gaze as Louis swallowed it and sighed. He felt a jolt running through his veins but he knew it’d take a little longer till the effects truly kicked in.

Before he could continue his dance, he felt a hand tugging at him, and Louis let himself be dragged away.

It was Niall with a stern expression, dragging him to one corner of the party with a firm grip over his hands. He took Louis back to the secluded area with the drapes. Harry was standing there, too.

“What do you think you’re doing, Tommo?” Niall sounded truly concerned as he grilled him with a gaze. “You don’t take drugs off random people at a party, Goddamn!”

“Why the hell not?” Louis mumbled stubbornly, avoiding Harry’s gaze because if he saw his outfit one more time, he may just come in his pants untouched. “It’s just molly, man.”

“You don’t know what’s been mixed in that shit.”

“It’s good shit,” Louis raised his brow at Niall.

Harry stepped forward, clearing his throat. “No, Niall’s right. You shouldn’t be taking it off random strangers, maybe friends are fine ‘cause they’d never give you the wrong shit.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Please, I don’t need you both to lecture me. I’m having fun! Now, if you’ll excuse me!” He walked off, turning around to waggle his brow one last time at the two figures before disappearing into the drunken bodies.

For a party that’s supposed to be for the elite upper class, it was full of dirty drugs and vulgar language. There was absolutely nothing classy about the party Harry was hosting and it was a relief to find somewhere he fit in instead of trying to keep up with appearances. He did shots with some guys he recognised from his TV production classes, they all laughed as they did body shots.

Eventually, an hour or so later, Harry appeared before him. Louis had been waiting for this moment the entire night. He wanted Harry to come to him first this time, and it finally happened.

Harry raised his brow at him delicately, observing his entire outfit as his eyes lingered on his leather pants. He raised a hand out, Louis took it and Harry led them through the crowd, through the door and back into the building. It seemed like Harry knew the club well because they found an empty, quiet room. He locked the door, trapping Louis inside.

“Are you kidnapping me, Styles?” Louis asked, letting out a light laugh though he was feeling nerves shooting up inside of him. “Do I need to be concerned?”

Harry didn’t bother to reply, not attempting a snarky remark. He maneuvered Louis easily so he was resting against the door. Harry took a step back, admiring Louis for a second, letting his eyes drag all over his body as he licked his lips. Louis felt restless, aroused already just by Harry’s heavy gaze and the lustful orbs that were a darker green. He needed Harry.

He needed Harry’s hands all over him, he was craving his kisses again since last week when he had calmed him down from his emotional outburst. Louis needed Harry. It was a revelation. Harry sank to his knees in one graceful movement.

Louis nearly choked on his spot, eyes widening as he struggled to breathe. This couldn’t be happening. Harry was on his knees in front of Louis, looking up to him through his lashes and sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. He looked as aroused as Louis.

Harry didn’t waste anytime as he grabbed Louis’ thighs and brought them closer to his face. He stuck his tongue out, dragging it across the leather material and Louis found himself growing hotter with every single lick.

“Do you want this, Louis?” Harry asked, his voice soft. With his hand, he rubbed over Louis’ crotch in a teasingly slow manner that had Louis whimpering. “Tell me, yes or no. If no, we’ll go back to the party and—”

“Jesus, Harry. Suck my fucking cock.”

Harry’s eyes glistened. “My pleasure.”

He worked over Louis’ zipper, pulling it down so Louis’ thighs were exposed and his boxers were in view. Harry started rubbing him again over the material, grabbing his balls too and fondling with them. Louis groaned, his head banging against the door as he felt his cock growing harder under the touch.

Louis faintly wondered if Harry was wearing his panties underneath his shorts but couldn’t gather the courage to ask. He probably was. Louis wondered what colour he was wearing today, was it matching with his entire outfit?

“Please, Harry. Quick.” He whispered out, desperate already.

Harry shook his head. “You’re going to have to be quiet, everyone wanders around these halls.”

“Please.”

“You’ve been so bad. Dancing with random men, taking drugs from them, doing body shots” and with that, he rubbed his hand down harder like he was trying to vent out his frustration with his hand. “Making me watch from a distance. Trying to get back to me for every time I’ve done the same, hm?”

“You drive me fucking insane,” Louis breathed out.

“Good.”

Only then did Harry finally progress, pulling down the boxers as Louis’ cock slapped his stomach due to how heavy it was. He was mostly hard already. Harry looked at the cock like he was awed, admiring the length and the thickness as he licked his lips.

“Ah, yeah. This is a good one.”

Louis laughed out loud. “A good one that needs your fucking mouth on it, please.”

Harry used his hands to jack him off first, stroking him to a full hard-on before finally lowering his lips over the head. Louis instantly let out a cry, his head falling back as he felt Harry’s mouth working over him. Harry was practiced and knew exactly how to tease. He started off slow, taking Louis slowly down without a sound and then pulling off entirely. He looked up to Louis through his lashes, waiting for a nod from Louis, before continuing. This time, he didn’t pull away and inched forward till he was all the way down to the base, his nose buried in Louis’ pubic hair.

Louis couldn’t help but release soft sounds that came deep within throat, he could hardly believe he had his entire cock shocked right down Harry’s throat and the man below him was barely letting out a sound—let alone gagging.

When Louis tried to move his hips to thrust back, Harry stilled him with a firm grip at his waist.

“No, Lou. You won’t fuck my mouth, you haven’t been good. Just stand there and let me suck you off,” he said, his voice demanding, successfully immobilizing him against the door as he replaced his mouth on the cock.

Harry was gifted at sucking cock. He did it exceptionally, he took the entire length down his mouth and when he came back up, he licked the underside that caused Louis to shiver. Though every instinct in Louis was screaming at him to hold Harry’s hair, thrust back him and take it as his own pace—Harry had the upper hand and didn’t allow it.

Louis was edging to his high incredibly quick, whimpering each time Harry played with his balls with his spare hand. It felt so good and he couldn’t comprehend the feeling, overwhelmed by Harry’s mouth.

Finally, Harry moved back and said. “Lou… Lou, I want you to fuck my mouth. I change my mind,” he already sounded raspy and Louis was spurred on.

“Fuck,” Louis hissed out, fisting his hand in Harry’s hair and holding him still before pushing his cock in roughly.

He started off at a leisurely slow pace, groaning at Harry’s tight mouth enveloped around him. After a few thrusts, he couldn’t take it anymore and needed it faster. He tugged at Harry’s hair, guiding him back to his cock and thrusting deep. He felt his cock at the back of Harry’s throat and listened to how Harry choked. There were tears gathering in his eyes but he let Louis take full control, looking up to Louis through his wet lashes.

Louis was so turned on, so hot and he instantly started fucking Harry’s throat. He felt the familiar sensation in the pits of his stomach, overcoming him as he halted Harry and spurted hot come down his throat.

He waited before pulling out. “Shit. Harry, I’m sorry—I should’ve warned ‘ya, I’m so sorry, love.”

Harry settled back. He had tear stained cheeks and come dribbling down the side of his mouth, though he had managed to swallow most of it. Louis crouched down before him. He observed how beautiful Harry was. Using his thumb, he swirled around the glop of the thick white substance around his mouth and fed it to Harry.

Harry instantly sucked the thumb back, licking it clean.

“Shit,” Louis said, holding him by his forearm and dragging him up back before kissing him roughly on the lips, simply because they hadn’t yet and he needed a taste. Their tongues met in a sloppy kiss and Louis could faintly taste his come. “You’re so bloody amazing, Harry.”

Harry keened, releasing a soft whimper on the side of his neck. “Wanted to do that for you.”

“Can I get you off?”

He shook his head. “N-no. I’m… let’s just go back to the party.”

Louis frowned. “Why not? C’mon, you did that for me—”

“Please, Louis,” Harry pleaded, sounding firm. “No. I did that for you.”

Though the urge to get his hands on Harry’s cock, jerk him off until he could observe Harry’s face when he orgasmed was huge—he had to respect Harry’s wishes. He couldn’t push his boundaries.

They kissed against the door for a few more minutes, not prepared to let go of their paradise just yet. Harry was clingier than usual, wrapping his arms around Louis’ waist and fervently licking into Louis’ mouth. Then, he unlocked the door and they remerged to the party.

Niall was next to Zayn and Liam as they sipped back on cocktails. When Harry and Louis joined the three of them, Zayn turned his head to Louis and gave him a knowing smile, smirking before his glass.

Louis only blushed, grabbing for a beer bottle so he could hide his bright red cheeks.

Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again
**

Louis had just finished with his TV production lecture, his January mock exams were hovering his mind and he made a mental note to prepare for it. He had to pass his class in the final year, he had to prove his hard work had paid off. Though, he struggled with TV production considerably more than theatre because it didn’t come to him as natural—he still got on in the lesson, still managed to impress all his professors. Now, he had to carry that through.

As he walked towards the exit, and towards the train station, he was stopped by Nick.

“Oh, hello,” Louis greeted nervously, perching the shoulder bag higher on his shoulder as he lowered his phone from his face to not seem inconsiderate. He had just been texting Harry to confirm their plans for tomorrow to practice at Harry’s apartment. “How you doing, Nick?”

Nick just tilted his head to the side, cutting straight to the chase.“I just wanted to know something.”

“Um, sure?”

“Do you still wanna.. Like fuck around, and that?” He asked, his voice a little low as he gestured with his hands. He was clearly struggling to ask. “Just, you know a quick fuck. Here and there. I kinda miss your ass, if I’m being honest.”

Louis guffawed, raising a brow. “Hm, you do?”

“Of course, I miss—”

Louis cut him off before he could progress any further in the conversation because he didn’t want to give him any false hopes. Him and Nick had a long history but that was all it was, history. They had their share of fun but it’s over now. Their wild experimenting sex was over. Louis didn’t want to fuck around anymore.

“Look, Nick,” he chuckled, trying to form the right sentences so he wouldn’t bruise his ego too bad. “As lovely as the offer is, I can’t. I’m not… I just don’t anymore.”

Much to his surprise, Nick’s smile didn’t falter. He raised a brow, though, confused.

“How comes?”

“I guess.. I’m just not into quick fucks anymore?”

“That’s hard to believe coming from you.”

It should’ve been offensive but Louis just shrugged.

“Well.. I don’t know,” He laughed a little nervously, his hands smoothing down the sides of his jeans. “I’m just not interested in anything temporary, anymore. Sometimes a little fun in the club, I guess. But, I’ve eased off that, too.”

Nick looked truly bewildered but he didn’t push the matter, he got the hint.

“Are you and Harry…?”

Louis blinked. “Are me and Harry.. What?”

“Dating?”

Oh. No, no, absolutely not!” Louis was quick to deny like it was instinct, holding one hand up. “Nah.”

“It sure seems like it.”

Louis smiled, he leaned forward to place a lingering kiss on Nick’s cheeks and then pulled away.

“Well, we’re not and I’m sorry but I have to decline your offer. But thank you for the countless orgasms in the past. Good luck for the rest of the year, Nick. See ya around,” he nodded and then stepped around him, walking out of the building and feeling lighter.

**

“‘Ello, Tommo!” Niall greeted him at the front door, pulling him into a hug as he led him into the apartment.

Louis and Niall had managed to be become decent, close friends. They got on well and there was never a dull moment between the two of them. Niall was the over-protective yet goofy friend that Louis appreciated. Louis had never expected to get close to any new people but he found it happening effortlessly with Niall.

“Hey,” he smiled, offering Niall a pack of chocolates he had picked up on the way.

“Sick!” Niall was pleased, taking it off him and instantly opening the pack, plopping one into his mouth. He offered Louis.

“Nah, I’m alright.”

“What brings you here, then?”

“Oh, I have practice with Harry, actually,” Louis nodded.

Ever since the Halloween party, things had been pleasant between Harry and Louis. There was no awkward moments between the two of them. They still needed to talk about the blowjob but somehow, the opportunity for the conversation never arose. But, they’d been spending a lot of time together and learnt a lot about each other.

 

For example, Harry liked two sugars in his coffee but absolutely none in his tea just like Louis. He hated fizzy drinks but loved fruit juices. He liked to sleep on the right side of his bed but his limbs ended up sprawling all across the mattress. He loved being naked, all the time. He liked shopping at Zara and Topshop more than designer brands, much to Anne’s disapproval. His parents transferred obscene amount of money to his bank account which he refused to spend on himself and instead, donated a percentage to charity and sent the rest of Gemma and selective cousins who were struggling with University fees.

Harry was an all-rounder amazing human being and Louis could hardly believe he finally had the privilege to get to know him. He had spent so long judging him that he hadn’t realise Harry was a decent guy. More than decent. Perfect, even.

“Oh! Well, he’s in his bedroom so you might as well go there now,” Niall told him, “thanks for the chocolates, though.”

Louis shook his head. “No problem, Niall.”

He walked down the narrow hallway and stopped outside Harry’s door. He waited for a second before knocking. However, no reply came from the room and a few moments later, Louis pushed open the door and entered. The room was empty but the ensuite door was shut, lights on underneath, indicating he was using the shower considering the sound of the water going.

Louis smiled, dropping his bag on the floor and jumping on the bed to get comfortable. He would simply wait for Harry to finish his shower.

He got his phone out, replying back to a few text messages from his siblings and a few friends. He looked at a picture Fizzy had sent of the twins sitting in a barrel, legs twined together as Daisy pushed them. His chest ached a little with how much he missed them. It had been over two months since he last got the chance to spend any time with them.

Just then, as Louis was wallowing in his thoughts, Harry emerged from the toilet.

Louis’ head snapped up, his eyes softening immediately at the sight of his face but then transforming quickly to something else when his gaze lingered downwards. Because, Harry was completely bare except for the hot pink panties he was wearing.

Louis gaped as his phone dropped out of his hand, falling onto the bed. His mouth instantly watered at the sight of Harry standing before him. He wondered if he would ever have the pleasure of seeing Harry in his panties and right now, his wishes had been granted. He wasn’t entirely sure how to feel.

Harry looked stunning in his panties. They looked lovely against the contrast of his skin. His thighs fit perfectly, his ass looking perky. His cock was half-hard, trapped inside the material and straining against the lace.

Harry looked mortified as he stammered over his words. “Oh my God,” he mumbled out, his eyes darkening with shame. “I’ve.. I’ve fucked this up, again. Fuck. Oh God.”

Louis’ eyes travelled back up to his face, noting the distress in his features. He got up from his bed, taking slow but long strides towards the centre of the room where Harry stood. He didn’t waste any time to grope Harry’s ass, pulling the ass cheeks apart and squeezing roughly.

Harry’s mouth dropped open, letting out an audible, desperate moan.

“You didn’t fuck anything up,” Louis assured him, his own voice foreign to his ears. “I… fuck.”

The underwear was a thong, the material didn’t cover his ass at all. Louis felt heat rushing over his body. He wanted to do nothing more than bend Harry over the side of the bed, to smack the ass until it was red and scorching like the colour of his panties. He slip a finger underneath the material, edging close to his ass crack.

Harry looked at him with wide eyes. “Lou,” he whined.

“How many panties do you own?” He demanded to know.

“I.. I don’t know. Loads.”

“Mmm. I bet.”

Louis groped his ass cheeks one more time before withdrawing his hands entirely, shaking his head. He felt desperate himself, his member straining against his tight jeans. He needed relief, immediately.

He turned towards the door, only pausing to turn his head around to say. “Never, ever stop wearing them. They’re so fucking hot,” and with that, he left the apartment and ignored Niall’s questioning gaze as he walked out.

Louis took the tube home. He could barely settle down on his seat, his thoughts returning back to Harry and his hot pink panties despite his efforts to focus on something else. As soon as he walked back into his apartment, he ran to the bathroom and got himself off. Within five minutes, his hands were tainted with his hot come and his mind was still full of pictures of Harry.


DNCE - Pay My Rent
**

‘Can you come to the common room, please?’

Louis smiled at the text message, replying instantly.

‘Sure thing, curls. Gimme 5 minutes.’

He logged out of the computer he was working on for his assignment, packing up his books into his bag before throwing it over his shoulder and walking towards the exit. It was a two minute walk, down a staircase, before he approached the common room and smiled at Harry who was waiting there already. He swallowed the image of Harry in his panties out of his mind and walked towards the couch Harry was hogging.

“Move up,” he ordered, pushing Harry’s legs out of the way and falling onto the sofa. “Any reason you called me here?”

Harry looked gorgeous, as always and Louis felt like he could never get tired of looking at his face. He always had a sense of innocence surrounding him, his cherubic face and wide bambi-like eyes that conveyed his emotions perfectly. He was wearing a baggy Calvin Klein sweater today, black jeans underneath.

He shrugged, shaking his head. “We have an hour till our next lecture, I knew you were around so here we are.”

“Indeed, you just love disturbing me from my work.”

It was meant to be a playful comment but Harry’s face fell.

“Oh,” he sounded guilty, “I’m sorry, shit. You can go back to—”

“Oh, please, Harry. I’m fine. I was bored anyway so thank you for saving me.”

Harry’s face instantly brightened, smiling as he leaned back on the couch and got comfortable. “Glad to be of service.”

“Dork.”

“What work were you doing anyway?”

“Just preparing for my January TV production exams,” Louis said, shrugging his Adidas jacket off and twisting his torso so he was facing Harry entirely. “We have to produce a twenty-minute feature film.”

“Ohhhhh. What’s yours going to be about?”

“Um—” Louis smiled shyly, picking apart at the thread hanging from his jeans. “Actually, I was going to make it about absent fathers.”

Harry’s smile remained inviting though his features contorted to curiosity. “Oh?” It was an indicator for him to continue.

“Yeah.. I just thought I could bring some experience to the matter, I guess. We were asked to bring a personal touch to the movie. I probably took that a bit too seriously.”

Harry nodded. “Wanna talk about it?”

Louis had never talked about his absent father, ever. The only time he had touched upon the subject was when Zayn and Louis got drunk one night at their new apartment, stumbling around and trying to unpack. He had found a frame of Zayn and his father and being the emotional drunken mess he was, he started crying. As Zayn tried to comfort him, he let a few details slip through but mostly, it was vague. It was a sore topic he never touched upon simply because it caused his heart to shatter all over again.

“I… I just had shitty fathers,” Louis admitted. “Yes, that’s a plural because I had two. One left relatively early, I do have some memory of him though. And the second, well,” he struggled to keep his face straight, “is the father of… four of my,” he couldn’t finish, shaking his head.

Harry’s face was caring, no hints of sympathy but simply confusion and the need to understand. He shuffled closer to Louis on the sofa but refrained from reaching out, keeping his eyes wide open.

“I’m listening if you want to finish,” Harry reassured him. “But you’re not obliged to do so, Lou. You don’t have to.”

Louis nodded. “Maybe I’d like to talk about it a bit? It’d help with my project, I think.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

He took a deep breath, not able to comprehend the fact that he was doing this right here in the middle of a common room.

“Mark was my second father, the one I remember the most, obviously,” Louis started again, “He was like a real father to me. Though, he wasn’t biological. He was there for me, you know and he did the things my biological didn’t. We’d go to football together, we’d do photography today—that’s where I got my passion from. He listened to me when I had problems in school, he made me food whenever mum was tiring herself out by doing long shifts. We’d watch TV together and. I don’t know, we were just.. Good,” Louis said with a nervous, small smile and trying to avoid Harry’s intense gaze. If he pretended he was here alone, it may be easier to talk about. “Anyway, one day I returned home from school and he was gone.”

Harry gasped, the sound was small and released out of shock. “Louis… what.. Why?”

“Because,” Louis felt bitter all over. No matter how much he tried to erase the negative feelings attached to the event, to forgive and move on—he always found it difficult. “Him and my mum weren’t working out anymore. I could understand that, really. But the fact that he did it the cowardly way. He packed his bags, left a note and left me £50 and then he was gone. I’ve never heard or seen from him since.”

Harry looked at him carefully. “That’s… that’s truly shit, Louis. I’m so sorry.”

Louis powered on. “After that, me and mum struggled a lot with finance because we were forced to fend for ourselves. I had faith in her, though and I told her we didn’t need anybody. She met somebody else soon, Dan, he’s still around. I’ve barely spent time with him, I refuse to let myself get close to anybody else.”

Harry’s lips curled downwards. “Babe..”

“Anyway,” Louis sighed, feeling like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders now that he had all the words out of his system. He turned to Harry, making eye contact for the first time since his little story. “I don’t—”

Before Louis could finish his sentence, Harry had enveloped him into a hug. He almost felt crushed from the impact but willed himself to relax, chuckling a little as he circled his arms around Harry. They remained embraced for a few moments, Harry whispering soothing words into his ears. Normally, Louis was against affection of any sort but this… this was good. He could get used to this.

“Mark was a dick,” Harry let out before he could stop himself, covering his mouth with a squeak, “Sorry.”

“No, no. I agree and I wish I continue to never hear from him.”

“So.. if he did reach out, you’d ignore it?”

Louis shrugged. He had imagined the scene many times. He imagined getting a letter from Mark one day, or maybe a phone call, and he’d ignore it. He’d be strong enough to delete the email, reject the call, rip up the letter before reading any of it. But, he realised, he’d probably be weak, and curious and angry enough to vent out of his pent up frustrations. He wouldn’t be able to ignore it.

“I don’t know,” Louis answered truthfully. “I just know it’d mess me up, a little. But it’s good we don’t have to worry about it.”

Harry smiled a little. “You’re really strong, Louis. You held yourself together for your family and that’s.. It’s amazing, really. You should give yourself some credit for that.”

He flushed. “I did what any human being would do to help his family.”

“Your mother and siblings are lucky.”

“Nah… I’m the lucky one,” he smiled.

They both looked at each other, smiling widely. Despite the last event of seeing Harry in his panties, it hadn’t been awkward. They were avoiding the obvious elephant in the room but it wasn’t affecting their friendship which he liked. A lot.

Before either of them could speak again, Zayn appeared into the common room. He looked disheveled and tired, paint smeared across his cheeks and fingers as he spotted the two of them across the room and rushed over. Nowadays, Zayn had been incredibly busy with his painting and hardly any time for anybody else. Louis had to pick up many of Liam’s calls and tell him Zayn was simply too busy working to have time to respond.

He walked over to Louis, “‘Ello baby,” he greeted.

Louis reached up, hugging him from the neck and kissing his cheeks over the paint smear. “Ugh, you messy bastard.”

Zayn grinned, using his wet painted fingers to smear a stripe down Louis’ cheeks.

“Oi!” He complained, swatting his shoulders. “Get that off, right now!” He looked over to Harry, who had an impassive expression painted over his face, and exclaimed. “Look at this assault! Help me, Harry!”

Harry chuckled but didn’t make a move from the sofa which caused Zayn to continue, staining Louis all over with the paint. When Louis had enough, he grabbed Zayn and tackled him to the sofa. They were all tangled up in limbs, trying to fight for dominance and then finally, Zayn surrendered. He stood up, holding up his messy hands in apology.

“Get used to more paint fights, though,” Zayn warned him, a glisten behind his eyes.

Louis scoffed. “Bring it on, bitch.”

Zayn grinned back before turning his head to Harry. “Hey! How are you, Harry?”

Through all the changes that had taken place in the past three months, it was most mesmerising to see the development Zayn had gone through. Before, he was antisocial and avoided conversations with other people besides Louis at all costs. He never planned to settle down. He never planned to get close to anybody else. He had specific goals, to become an artist and move to Paris. But now, he had a boyfriend and he managed to hold a semi-decent conversation with Harry, which was an accomplishment.

Usually, their conversations were friendly enough and they could get a steady talk going.

But, Harry’s easy smile had been wiped off and he was holding himself together, his guards up. Louis looked at him funnily, trying to figure out what had changed within the past ten minutes for his mood to change drastically.

“Hi,” he replied mutely, not returning Zayn’s bright expression. “I’m good, thanks and yourself?”

“I’m all good, thanks! Do you have any idea if Liam will be home today?”

“Mmh. Yeah, he should be.”

“Excellent!” He said giddy. “Can’t wait to surprise him!”

“He’ll be happy.”

Harry was giving short, annoyed responses and Louis raised a brow at him to convey ‘what the hell is going on, curly?’

Zayn must’ve noticed the tense atmosphere because he politely excused himself, dropping a lingering kiss on Louis’ temples and waved at Harry before leaving the common room the same manner he had appeared. Louis turned to Harry but noticed the figure had made a beeline towards the exit.

Louis jumped up instantly, grabbing his bag as he made a move towards Harry.

“Curly!” He called after him, trying to keep up. “Harry! Wait, stop!”

Harry did, he halted in his action and span around to face Louis. Louis almost crashed right into his body from the sudden movement. He felt anger swarm his veins.

“What the fuck, Harry? What was that about?”

Harry’s eyes were narrowed. “Nothing.”

“Something happened and you’re acting like a complete dick so spit it out!”

“I-I,” he paused, his facial expression falling. “I don’t know.”

Louis took a step back in disbelief. “You can’t be serious? You do know because—” he replayed the last ten minutes in his mind over and over, trying to ignore out what could’ve possibly gone wrong. Until, a light switch went off in his mind. “You’re jealous of Zayn.”

Harry looked up to him. “I… do you blame me?”

“Um, yes?” Louis said incredulously, laughing. “First of all.. What the fuck? Me and Zayn are best friends.”

“Really touchy best friends.”

“I… yeah, we—” Louis was at a loss of words. “What the fuck, Harry. We’re best friends, we’re touchy, yes but that’s how we are. He’s dating Liam, for Godsakes, your best friend!”

“Me and Liam don’t do shit like that.”

“Well, good for you and Liam then! But me and Zayn do!”

“Have you ever slept with him?” Harry asked next, his voice still high.

Louis narrowed his eyes, taking a step back. “What?”

“You heard me.”

He shook his head. “Listen, Harry,” he hissed through his teeth, “I’m not obliged to tell you anything, we’re not in a fucking commitment or anything. Whatever has ever happened between or Zayn, if anything, is none of your business so quite frankly, I find this insulting. You have no right to be jealous.”

Harry’s face softened. “Lou—”

He held his hand up. “Save it, I don’t wanna hear it. Don’t come after me, I’m leaving,” he informed Harry, moving around him and running out of the building before he could be stopped.

He felt like an idiot. He had just opened up to Harry about the most personal, difficult part of his life and they ended up arguing a few minutes later. He wished he never talked about it.

It was only until he was on the Northern Line heading towards Camden Town that he realised what the hell had just happened.

**

“You know, I find this really funny.”

“Hmm?” Louis mumbled, looking up from the pasta he had been stirring his fork around for the past minute but hadn’t taken a bite of.

Zayn was standing around the hob, cooking his own dinner that Liam had taught him to make. It was salmon with vegetables. He had managed to suck Zayn into the healthy lifestyle and Louis was ready to have a go at Liam because it meant he had to cook his own food to avoid the steamed chicken and vegetables.

“Liam and I had the same argument, not as quite as intense as yours.”

Louis frowned. “It’s ridiculous? We’ve been friends for a long time, why does it matter if we’re touchy? We’re just friends.”

“Liam wasn’t opposed to how close we were,” he said, stirring the vegetables in the pan as he spoke, “I think what got to him was the fact that we’ve had sex before.”

“It’s just sex.”

“How’d you feel if I’ve had sex with Harry?”

Louis tried to imagine Harry and Zayn touching each other all over, he tried to imagine Zayn pushing his cock into Harry’s and the image was so foreign. So strange. He couldn’t even bare two seconds of the vision in his head.

“I don’t know,” Louis shrugged, “you forget that me and Harry are not dating, unlike you and Liam.”

“But you like him, right?”

“Who the hell said that?”

“No one. Your face.”

Louis scowled. “I don’t like Harry, Heaven’s sake.”

“So he didn’t suck your dick?”

Louis picked up the closest item to him—the kitchen tissue roll—and flung it at Zayn. “Can you shut the fuck up, please?”

“Look—he’s obviously not used to this. I bet it’s as hard for him as it is for you, to admit you both like each other—”

“We don’t––”

“But give him time, yeah? It’s no wonder he’s jealous?” Zayn smirked, turning the heat off the stove and bringing the pan over to a plate, putting the vegetables in. “Have you seen the two of us? We look like we’re fucking, Jesus.”

“If you knew that, why would you start acting like that in front of Harry?”

He shrugged. “You’re both too stubborn to admit you both like each other but there’s nothing like jealousy to get that going.”

Louis stabbed his fork in his pasta roughly, shoving it in his mouth. “I don’t know how much I need to tell you—”

“Yeah, yeah. You don’t like Harry, blah blah, whatever,” Zayn rolled his eyes, sitting down on the table opposite Louis. “Whatever helps you sleep at night. I love sucking dick platonically too.”

Louis glared at him. “What you and Liam argue about then?”

“Well, at the Halloween party, he was jealous and that continued throughout the coming days. Finally, I asked him what was bothering him and he just spit out with it,” Zayn laughed at the memory. “We argued for a bit. He said he gets jealous, I told him the truth that we’ve had sex before, he got even more jealous. Then, we figured it out and we had make-up sex.”

“Well.”

“It’s natural, you know? I’m sure you’d get jealous too.”

Louis had already gotten jealous many times when Harry danced with older men in the club, feeling inexperienced and young despite his many sexual partners.

“What do I do then?” Louis groaned into his bowl of pasta. “I don’t… I don’t like us being angry at each other, it’s been three days.”

“Go to his house, tell him the truth about what he asked. Tell him our friendship is based off our sex. Then, tell him there’s nothing going on and make up. Make-up platonical blow job, duh.”

Louis picked up the place mat next, flinging at Zayn again.

**

‘Open the door, I’m outside, please.’

‘Why are you here???’

‘Harry.’

Minutes later, Harry appeared the door with a frown present on his face. He was wearing loose fitting sweatpants and his chest was completely bare. Louis took a minute to marvel over his fit body before his eyes filtered back to Harry’s eyes. He faintly wondered if Harry was wearing panties and what colour they could possibly be.

“Hey..”

“What do you want, Louis?” Harry sighed, tired.

“Can I come in? I gotta tell you something.”

Harry didn’t waste any time, he opened the door up and let him through. Louis walked in, rubbing his hands down the side of his jeans due to anxiety before sitting down on the sofa. Harry followed, bringing him a slice of carrot cake on the way.

“Oh, yum!” Louis accepted the plate with a wide smile. “You made my favourite, again.”

“‘Course.”

Louis ate a bite of the carrot cake, moaning around the sweetness in his mouth and how good it tasted. He absolutely adored Harry’s baking and always craved to taste more. He knew Harry was good at it, could make an abundance of good things. He wondered if he could make Louis’ favourite banoffee pie.

“So what did you want to talk about?” Harry raised his brow, relaxing on the sofa as his arm came to rest over the top, looking at Louis carefully.

“I wanted to be honest with you.”

“Okay…?”

Louis cleared his throat, putting the slice of cake down before turning and facing Harry entirely. He tucked his legs underneath each other, sitting Indian style.

“You asked me if I’ve ever slept with Zayn, and I have to be truthful and say yes.”

Harry’s facial expression fell further, frowning and it was clear he didn’t want to hear the rest of it. But Louis continued.

“Listen to me, okay? All the way through. I met Zayn early on in the first year, we both only knew one thing—sex. We fucked the first night we met, it was nothing. Absolutely nothing. The next morning, we woke up together, smoked together and we just stuck together since. We’ve done nothing since. We learnt to be best friends for each other. We’re absolutely platonic, there’s no hidden feelings or shit like that. Harry, he’s dating fucking Liam, Godsakes. I’d never do that?”

Harry furrowed his brow. “Just once?”

He nodded to confirm. “Just once.”

“And you’ve both never had any feelings for each other in the past two years?”

“Absolutely none.”

“I always used to think..” Harry paused, biting his lip. “Before, I used to think you two were dating. Always together, always touching each other in lectures before Nick told me you both used to fuck.”

The way Harry said fuck was with distaste, the word spat out from his mouth as his expression darkened.

Louis swallowed. “Um, well. That is true. Nick and I were fuck buddies, we weren’t exclusive. He had people on the side, so did I. But.. I’m not like that anymore, Harry. Me and Nick are over, definitely.”

“How many times did you fuck Nick?”

Louis shrugged. “I don’t know, Harry. I didn’t keep count, did I?”

He bit his lip. “I just. I don’t like the idea of it.”

“Well, it happened and I regret it but I can’t take it back.” Louis paused. “Actually, no, I don’t regret it. It was fun. I just don’t do that anymore.”

“Do what?”

Louis paused. “You know, fuck people randomly.. Or whatever.”

Harry knitted his brow together. “Right. Was that a usual thing for you?”

“Possibly. Maybe.”

It seemed to be enough for Harry because he grabbed the carrot cake off the table and handed it to Louis, ending the conversation swiftly.

“I don’t need details and you’re not obliged to give them. Let’s just.. Can we watch a movie, please?”

Louis smiled, taking the cake off him and nodding. “‘Course.”

Chapter Text

Marc E. Bassy & G Eazy - You & Me

“You’re an asshole, Louis.”

“Lottie, I don’t appreciate this—“

“An actual asshole.”

Louis shook with the anger that was slowly consuming him, invading his veins as he tried to remain as composed as possible. He knew if he lost his temper at his sister through the phone, it’d only make the situation worst.

“Lots, you’re being a little dramatic here. Seriously.”

“Am I?” She challenged, her voice strong and steady. She was really testing Louis’ patience right now, pushing all the right buttons on purpose. “Really? Do you blame me for feeling this way?”

“Of course not. But do you really think that justifies arguing with me like this?” He hissed back.

He was standing outside the train station, his oyster still in his hand as he clutched a fist around the card. The minute he had exited and regained his cell service, Lottie started bombarding him with urgent calls and texts. He immediately picked up and for the past fifteen minutes, they had been arguing in public. Louis was standing on the busy street, ignoring the weird stares everybody was giving him. His lecture started five minutes ago but he found him unable to move.

“Yes?”

“Do you think I enjoy being away from home for this long?” Louis asked. “Do you think there’s some sort of pleasure behind this for me? I would come back if I could. I’m in a middle of an important semester, Lottie!”

“Daisy’s sick and she misses you, though!”

“And I’m sorry! I sent her millions of text messages, I’m sending her a gift in the mail too. But I can’t drop everything and come to cuddle Daisy on the fucking sofa, can I!”

Lottie sniffled. “I hate you.”

“No, you don’t. You’re upset and you miss me. I miss you, too.”

“No, I really hate you.”

Louis sighed, knowing he wasn’t getting anywhere with this conversation as he ran a hand through his messy hair. He ignored the pitter patter of his heart against his chest.

“Fine, hate me then.”

“Fuck you.”

“Lottie, stop swearing.”

“You were swearing just a second ago! I’m not twelve anymore, I’m fucking eighteen.”

Louis began walking towards the university. If he arrived any later, the lecturer would probably refuse to let him through and he couldn’t afford that today.

“Stop.”

“You just don’t care ‘bout your family anymore.”

Louis squinted his eyes, another surge of fury overcoming him.

“Oh, I don’t?” He demanded to know, pausing in his actions again so he stood in the middle of the street. “So, when I send home my maintenance loan—every single drop of that 50%—it’s me not caring about my family? When I choose to struggle here, to provide for you lot, it’s me not caring?”

“Louis—“

“When I give up everything in my entire life just for the fucking family, I still don’t qualify as someone who cares?” Louis spat.

“I was just—“

“Fuck off, Lottie. Please don’t call me back,” he said, hanging up and switching his phone off so he could stop any other calls coming through. He wasn’t in the mood to talk to anybody else.

Louis could take Lottie ranting, calling him any name, upset with him for not coming back home but he couldn’t handle his sister telling him he didn’t care about the family anymore. Louis spent his entire life working hard for his family so Johannah would never feel the void. He worked two part-time jobs since he was sixteen, slaved away and still did well in school with his grades. Many times, he felt like he had enough but he pushed through for his family. Lottie had seen his breakdowns with her very two own eyes.

It hurt even more for the words to come through Lottie.

Louis was feeling betrayed. He felt bothered and too angry to walk into a lecture and even attempt to listen for an entire hour and half.

But he still entered the hall, muttering his apologies to Patrick as he took a seat in the back.

Harry had saved him a seat since Zayn was absent today, patting on the chair besides him. Louis offered him a tight smile, sitting down and taking his bag off his shoulders. His muscles felt tense so he did a few shoulder rolls, willing himself to relax. Every time Harry tried to engage in a conversation, he shut it down swiftly.

“Are you okay?” Harry continued to ask, not getting the hint.

“’M fine.”

“You don’t look fine.”

“Thanks, Harry. But, please. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Harry frowned, his face etched in confusion but he didn’t press the matter any longer for the time being. They both returned their undivided attention to Patrick who was working alongside some of the background actors, making sure their timings were right. Then, he turned to Louis.

“Casper, solo rehearsal! Please!”

Louis groaned inwardly, knowing there was no way to escape Patrick and find a way out. He pushed himself out of his seat. His shoulders still felt heavy with the weight of Lottie’s words but he tried to ignore it. He skipped down the seats, acknowledging Patrick with a small smile before climbing onto the stage.

He could see Harry watching intently, wide eyes from where he sat and somehow, it caused Louis’ chest to burn. There was so much hope behind his green eyes, looking at him like he truly believed Louis could do it.

Louis knew today was going to be a myth. He wasn’t going to do well. He could never focus on his work when he was worked up, always tended to mess up.

“I want to see some passion, please.” Patrick clapped his hands and the lights dimmed on cue, leaving Louis illuminated by the spotlight alone on the stage.

Louis would never admit it but he preferred it when he was rehearsing with Harry on stage. It was easier to have his comforting presence by his side. Harry resonated calm whenever he performed, he was confident and walked each stance with utmost pride in his acting. It helped Louis come to terms with his scenes, trying to mimic Harry’s approach to acting. When they worked together, they were better.

As expected, due to his horrible mood, Louis didn’t do well on his first try of the solo rehearsal. He received an exasperated look from Patrick.

“Louis, I know you’re not trying to test me today,” he muttered under his breath, his finger in the air to halt the dramatic music playing in the back. “Another go, please.”

Louis went over his scene again. This time, it was a bigger disaster. He stumbled over his words, couldn’t get the actions on time with the music. He failed to bring the emotion to the scene, his voice monotone and unbothered. He couldn’t bring Casper’s frustrations to surface. He was messing it all up due to some words that wasn’t supposed to matter anyway. He scowled when he came to a pathetic, pained end to a second attempt.

“Louis!” Patrick growled, annoyed. “What is wrong with you? You’ve done this scene before and it came out beautifully.”

Louis looked to the ground, shuffling on his feet. “I don’t know.”

“It’s not good! I won’t accept this. Let’s start again, we’ll do it over and over until you get it right—“

Harry stood up from where he was sitting, his eyes electric and wild as he cut in. “Patrick,” the authoritative tone in his voice rang clear, “maybe you should ease up on Louis? H-he… looks tired, sir.”

Patrick turned around slowly to the voice, raising a brow. “Excuse me? What do you know about Louis and his tiredness, hm? Last time I checked, you both hated each other,” he sighed, “plus, we don’t use excuses here. I ask something and you bring that to my class.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “It’s not quite that black and white, sir. Sometimes, things go wrong. We’re students—we’re busy and tired. Louis had a rough day,” he gestured to his prepared papers. “Let me practice instead.”

Patrick looked torn but he never liked getting on the wrong side of Harry. He always feared that Harry would take the issue up to his parents, though Harry had never used the his status against anybody before. Patrick sighed, gesturing Louis off stage. They both met as they crossed paths.

“Thanks,” Louis said softly.

Harry shook his head, though. “Wait up for me after this lecture, we have to talk.”

As expected, Harry was a star and he flew through his solo rehearsals like he could do it in his sleep. It turned Patrick’s mood around entirely, easing up and mumbling out about how grateful he was for the most talented group of students. When class was dismissed, Louis waited by the chairs where Harry returned and packed his bags.

He tentatively grabbed Louis’ hand, guiding him out of the hall. Louis followed, his hands warm under his hold. The feeling caused his heart to flutter. He swallowed it down, pushing past the lump in his throat.

“Do you want to go back to your place?” Harry asked, as they exited the building and walked to the station. “Liam and Zayn are at mine.”

“Sure.”

They got onto the train and sat side by side. Thankfully, it was only the afternoon which meant there was no rush of people on the tube. Harry didn’t try to ask about Louis’ foul mood. Instead, he tried to lighten up the atmosphere between them as he joked around, talking about something stupid Niall was doing the night before. Louis found himself easing a little, tension rolling off his shoulders as he laughed at the appropriate times. The twenty-minute tube ride came to an end as Louis guided them back to his apartment.

Harry entered, observing his surroundings again.

“I love this place so much.”

Louis raised his brow, scrunching his features. The apartment that he shared with Zayn was a wreck and they had never tried to change it. It was small and old. The living room was the most spacious room in the apartment, consisting of two sofas and an arm chair. The kitchen was dull, not compared to Harry’s glossy, modern instalment. They had never bothered purchasing new furniture or to change the interior design around. They always thought it was an easier way to save money since they were both content with the apartment.

“Not sure if you’re taking the piss.”

“I’m not!” Harry argued, offended as he shrugged off his jacket and hung it on the hanger behind the door. “My apartment is classy and what not, but this is homely. It’s cosy.”

“Right.”

“Come,” Harry beckoned Louis to the bedroom, turning the lights on since the curtains were still drawn. “You wanna lay down and you can tell me what’s going on?”

Louis blinked. “Are you asking if we can cuddle?”

He shrugged. “I cuddle Liam whenever he’s sad. We’re friends, right?”

“Um.. of course.”

“So, come on!” Harry sat down on the bed, taking his boots off before climbing under the covers and bringing it up to his neck. The offer looked tempting now considering how comfortable he looked. “It’s warm. I know you want to.”

Louis’ eyes softened. He took off his trainers but kept his hoodie on, slipping into the bed besides him. Harry turned around so his chest was pushed into Louis’ back, wrapping an arm around him and pulling him close so Louis was the little spoon. They were cuddling for the first time. Louis tried to control his erratic breathing.

“Did you ever imagine this day would come?” Harry chuckled into his neck, inhaling deeply.

“Are you sniffing me?”

“Would you be upset if I said yes?”

“Um—it’s quite weird.”

“You smell nice.”

Louis squirmed in the hold, trying to resist the smile that was threatening to break out. His eyes fluttered like he could fall asleep right now and it wouldn’t even matter. He could feel his heart hammering but it was no longer from the anger, rather it was from Harry.

“Stop moving.” Harry ordered.

“Are you about to fall asleep?”

“Hmm?” He mumbled. “Oh, no. No. We have to talk about what happened today.”

“Right.”

“Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you?” Harry continued, his voice heavy as he pulled him closer to his chest—if it was even possible at this point. Harry snuggled his head into Louis’ neck, burying his nose. “I know something’s up.”

“There is something wrong.”

“Talk to me?”

Louis swallowed thickly as the memories of Lottie swarmed his mind, her harsh words circling his mind. He wondered if she had tried to call him back.

“I’m afraid if I talk about it, I’ll end up crying,” Louis admitted with a small voice, his voice shaking as he squeezed his eyes shut.

“It’s okay to cry, Louis.”

“Mmhm. Maybe.”

“Is it family, friends—something else?”

“Nah… it’s family.”

Harry squeezed him. “Okay.”

Louis waited for a few minutes before regaining his courage to speak.

“You remember when I told you I have six siblings?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I’m close to all of them but particularly the eldest after me—Lottie. She’s like, my person?” Louis chuckled over his choice of words. “She’s the one person that I grew up with that knew what was going on, I could relate to her and we could talk to each other because we both witnessed everything together whilst the others were too young.”

Harry was rubbing his spare hand over Louis’ shoulders, trying to stop the shakes.

“You’re with me, you’re safe—calm down, please.”

Louis nodded. “Okay. This is really hard for me,” he laughed humorlessly. “So, me and Lottie are like best friends. Even when I’m away from Doncaster, we have a schedule for each other to ensure we’re always talking. It’s part of our routine. But recently, I’ve been getting busy and I haven’t had the chance to talk to her—or visit home—and she’s really upset about it.”

“Oh… I can imagine she’d feel upset.”

Louis laughed, the sound dry and painful. “She said I don’t care about them anymore.”

“Oh, Louis.. that’s just not true—“

“She said I don’t care when I’ve done nothing but sacrifice and slave, give up my childhood and teenage years for them. I have done nothing but give, give and give even when I got nothing in return. Then, the one time my whole life I get a little busy, she goes and says that.”

A single tear slipped down Louis’ eyes, rolling down his cheeks from the frustration as he turned and buried his head in the pillowcase. He sniffled loudly, willing himself to stop the crying now before he further embarrassed himself. He didn’t like the heavy weight on his chest due to words.

Harry kissed his neck tenderly. “Babe, I’m sure she didn’t mean to say that.”

“I want her to take it back, Harry.”

“And maybe, she will. It seems like she’s really close to you, she’d never willingly hurt you like this.”

“Am I overreacting?”

“No, no,” Harry held him firmly, twisting his body around and turning him so they were facing each other instead. Harry tangled his legs with him under the sheets, making eye contact with him. “Stop. You’re hurt and this is your reaction, it’s not overreacting. Sometimes, family can hurt you.”

“This is not fair. I didn’t ask for this.”

Louis stared into Harry’s eyes. They both refused to break eye contact.

“I know, babe…” Harry sounded sympathetic.

“I was so unwilling to understand her side, I hardly talked properly to her. I was just so fucking angry, then I hung up.”

“That was a valid reaction, though. It’s okay.”

“But, I should be able to comfort her when she’s feeling this way.”

Harry shook his head. “You were angry. It’s better you hung up, and refrained from losing your temper, than comforting her. It wouldn’t of come out the way you would want it to.”

Louis sighed, feeling spent of energy. He found opening up to others exhausting. Instead, he snuggled his head into Harry’s chest and absorbed the warmth radiating from him. He inhaled, letting the musky scent from his shirt waft into his nose.

“I don’t want to talk anymore.”

“That’s fine, too.”

“Thank you.”

He hummed. “For what?”

“Thank you… for everything, despite the fact I’ve been a dick the entire time—you’re still here for me.”

“Please, shush,” Harry pleaded with a small smile, eyes glistening. “I was just as bad to you, too. We’re both idiots.”

They both breathed heavily.

“Wanna take a nap, Louis?”

“Yes, please.”

**

When Louis woke up, the room had descended to darkness. He was still in his own bed, snuggled under the covers but the space besides him was empty. He faintly wondered where Harry would be. He wondered if Harry went back home during the night, or in the morning and he attempted to ignore the pang in his chest.

He yawned, memories of earlier flooding his mind as he got up from the bed and stretched out his limbs. He pulled back the covers into place, grabbing Harry’s discarded sweater off the floor and pulling it over his head in hopes to warm himself up.

Harry was in the kitchen. He was preparing dinner, two stoves lit as he danced to the beat of the music playing through the radio. He had changed and showered considering his wet hair dripping onto the white t-shirt. Louis couldn’t deny he loved the sight of Harry wearing his clothes.

“You let me sleep till so late,” Louis complained, announcing his arrival when he realised he had been standing there for a minute just staring. “It’s 7PM.”

Harry turned around at the sound, his face breaking into a wide grin. “You’re awake!”

“I am, indeed. How long have you been awake for?”

“Only an hour or so,” he spoke as he worked, multitasking. “I didn’t move for a while, you looked serene when you were sleeping.”

“That’s creepy, Harry.”

“Well, excuse me for admiring a beautiful sight,” he smiled, walking to the fridge and grabbing the lettuce. “I’m sorry… for um,” he gestured to his attire, “stealing your clothes.”

Louis shook his head. “Looks good on you.”

Harry flushed, looking down. “How’re you feeling now, though?”

“Better. Refreshed.”

“Good,” he breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad.”

“Is Zayn staying at yours tonight?”

“Mhmm. I think so, yeah.”

“Cool.”

Harry turned to face him again, his eyes were bright as he walked towards him. They stood facing each other, no space between them before Harry stretched open his arms and pulled him into an embrace. Louis immediately slackened in the hold, whining softly at the comfort as he wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck, holding him close. He inhaled Harry’s fresh scent, mixed in with Louis’ shower gel, and of chicken since he was cooking.

“I’m making dinner, it’s almost ready.”

“I can’t wait.”

Harry pulled away, his smile wide as he returned to his saucepan and Louis took a seat at the dining table.

Minutes later, Harry took the food off the heat and put it into two separate plates. He brought it over, taking his own seat.

“You and Zayn need to go grocery shopping,” Harry complained as he poured the two of them a glass of water, handing Louis a spoon. “I had to make do with what you did have—rice and chicken. I made it Pakistani style, chicken curry because I guess, Zayn likes to cook his Pakistani food?”

Louis nodded. “You bet he does. Whenever his sisters come to stay.”

“It’s good. I looked up a recipe, it’s quite spicy but I think it’s good.”

“I’ve tasted Zayn’s—he makes it well too.”

They started eating, then. Louis watched Harry eat, how he bites slowly and savors each taste. There was something about Harry that he found fascinating, in every thing he did. He had no idea why he spent so long hating the boy, despising and configuring plans against him when Harry had done nothing wrong to him.

“Are you going to talk to Lottie, then?”

“Mhm. Yeah. Probably.”

“Good,” Harry muttered, taking another bite of his food.

When they finished eating, Louis helped wash the dishes as Harry dried them with a flannel and put them away in the right cupboards. Louis guided him through each cabinet in the kitchen and explained what each one held. Harry tutted when he stumbled across Louis and Zayn’s junk food drawer, claiming it wasn’t healthy which led to Louis running around the apartment with a chocolate bar in his hand to force Harry to eat it.

They stumbled onto the sofa together, falling upon each other as Louis straddled his hips and brought the chocolate bar to his mouth.

“C’mon, man. It’s good, it’s delicious.”

Harry rolled his eyes before opening his mouth obediently and allowing Louis to put the chocolate bar in his mouth. Louis took advantage of the moment and stuffed into his mouth roughly. Harry spluttered, choking as he spat out the chocolate and Louis narrowed his eyes.

“I didn’t know you spit and didn’t swallow.”

Harry’s eyes darkened. “You really wanna play this game now?”

“I don’t know, Styles. What game are we talking about?”

Harry didn’t waste a second before crashing their lips together, Louis releasing a squeak of surprise before reciprocating easily. Harry’s arms wrapped around Louis’ back, bringing him flush against his chest as Louis allowed a whimper to escape from his lips into Harry’s. Harry swallowed all the sounds, becomingly increasingly needy with his actions as he parted their lips to trail down to Louis’ neck instead.

“You drive me crazy.” Harry muttered, attacking his bare flesh and sucking hard on the skin.

Louis hissed out loud, his head falling back and exposing more skin for Harry.

Harry took his time over his neck, taking time to leave hickeys as he soothed each other with a lick and a gentle kiss. He sucked particularly hard on Louis’ Adam’s apple, his eyes dark as he observed Louis’ reactions. Louis felt like he was in heaven. He let Harry attack his neck, his hands moving all over Harry’s body and settling in his hair, pulling and marveling in the way Harry’s eyes fluttered shut.

“You like that,” Louis mumbled in amazement, mostly to himself, as he pulled harder this time so Harry’s head was off his neck and his eyes were forced to stare into Louis’.

Harry’s eyes were bright. “Lou.”

“What do you want?” He asked, fisting his hair and pulling harder.

“You.”

“How do you want me?”

Harry nibbled hard on his bottom lips, his eyes never looking away from Louis. “I want you inside me, please.”

Louis groaned at the mere thought, releasing his hair and reconnecting their lips. They kissed on the couch for a while. Louis regained his dominance, taking control of the kiss and licking into his mouth as their tongues met and Harry started releasing needy whimpers. He wanted Harry in a pliant headspace.

He felt his cock growing painfully hard in his jeans, straining against the denim. He needed relief and he needed it now.

“Bedroom,” Louis urged, crawling out of his lap and grabbing a hold of Harry’s hand. “Right now, come on.”

As soon as they were back in the bedroom and the door had been locked, Louis crowded Harry against the door and continued to kiss him. They were rutting against each other, desperate and Louis felt himself edging closer with every movement. He felt like an embarrassed teenager, like he could come right in his pants right now just by observing Harry’s face. If he looked like this now, he wondered how Harry’s face was when he had the opportunity to fuck him.


PARTYNEXTDOOR - Wus Good/Curious
**

Louis’ heart was hammering as he kissed along Harry’s neck, biting down harshly with his teeth and swallowing how Harry released a loud sound. He took his time over Harry’s swallows tattoo, peppering both of the birds with kisses and leaving light hickeys that had Harry pleading.

When Louis pulled away, he saw how Harry was looking at him with desperate eyes.

“I want to undress you,” Harry requested, eyes wide.

Louis nodded. “Please.”

Harry moved forward, pushing him back so Louis fell onto the bed before he shuffled forward and unbuttoned Louis’ jean buttons. With a bit of a struggle, Harry managed to pull the skinny jeans off and throw them to one side of the room. His fingers trailed underneath Louis’ shirt, pinching at any skin he could reach as he leaned down and kissed both hipbones.

“I love your tattoos,” he muttered, tracing a finger over the ‘It Is What It Is’ tattoo on his collarbones. “They define you a lot.”

Louis smiled up to him. “I love yours too.”

“I can’t believe I ever lived without kissing you,” Harry said, as he pulled the shirt off over Louis’ head. “Can’t believe I missed so much time when I wasn’t touching you.”

He took the time to kiss over Louis’ stomach, nibbling at his collarbones and underneath his navel before Louis pushed him off.

“Come on, Harry. Strip for me, darling.”

Harry’s eyes were lustful as he obeyed, taking a step back and started working on taking his own clothes off. He didn’t put on a show, worked up and ready to skip the foreplay. He shrugged his shirt off, his hands smoothing over his flat stomach before they reached for his jeans. He looked up to Louis, unsure.

Louis’ eyes darkened. “Don’t be afraid.”

“I’m..”

“Baby, please.”

Harry nodded, taking a deep breath before pulling his jeans down and revealing his panties. They were a nude colour, lace in the front with a little bow. Louis’ breathing was erratic as he looked at Harry, his palms twitching the need to reach out and touch him. Instead, he composed himself and kept his hands to himself.

“Spin for me, Harry.”

Harry did. He turned all the way around, swaying his hips slightly and pausing when his back was turned to Louis. The back of his panties barely covered his ass. It was a cotton thong at the back. His perky ass looked delicious in the underwear.

Louis’ heart may jump right out of his throat.

“Fuck, come here,” he said.

Harry listened, always obedient, always willing. He stepped into Louis’ thighs, his smile shy. For the first time, Louis had the opportunity to touch his ass and feel the material of the panties without screwing it up. He didn’t waste any time. He instantly rested his hand against one of Harry’s asscheeks, roughly groping.

“You’re fucking gorgeous, you know?” Louis had to remind him as he looked up to Harry.

Harry looked like he was having an outwardly experience, eyes soft. “I am,” he said, mostly to himself like he was trying to convince himself.

“Look so good in these panties, fuck,” Louis mumbled. Without thinking, he brought his hand back and slapped down on the cheek hard. The sound vibrated through the room and Louis’ hand warmed. Harry let out a loud groan, leaning into Louis’ touch.

“Again.”

“Again?” Louis raised his brow, bringing his hand down on Harry’s ass again and drinking in the glorious sounds.

His eyes wandered up to Harry.

Harry looked blissed out, eyes wide and his mouth hung open.

“You like that, don’t you?” Louis was discovering more about Harry and it was glorious. He spanked him again, just to hear the satisfying sound and the way Harry jumped, shuffling closer into Louis’ legs.

Please, Louis,” he begged.

“Please, what?”

“Please fuck me, please.”

Louis would give him anything at this point.

He nodded. “Get on the bed, baby. Keep the panties on.”

Harry muffled a sound, nodding as he maneuvered himself onto the bed. He settled on his back, his head resting on the pillow as he looked up to Louis through his lashes. He looked afraid for what was coming next yet, excited with unblinking eyes.

Louis shuffled between his legs, his fingers trailing around his pale thighs.

“I just—you’re so hot, Harry,” Louis admitted, unsure about how he had spent a single day without this boy.

Harry smiled. “I love your cock.”

Louis rolled his eyes, pulling his boxers down and using one spare hand to give himself a few tugs though he was mostly hard already. Harry watched with hazy eyes, moving his hand to help but Louis swatted it away.

“Behave.”

Harry whimpered, withdrawing his hands entirely.

“I think Zayn has lube and a condom in his room,” Louis muttered, hovering over Harry before kissing him once, twice, thrice and then moving off the bed. “One second.”

When Louis returned to his bedroom, having retrieved the lube and condom, Harry was jerking himself off desperately. Louis watched in awe for a few moments by the door, admiring how Harry’s mouth was open and how his dick stuck out underneath his panties. Harry had a thick cock and Louis’ mouth watered at the sight.

He settled back between Harry’s parted legs.

“I’m gonna take these off now..” Louis told him, his fingers fiddling with the bow on the front of the panties. As much as he wanted to leave them on Harry, he needed better access to Harry’s hole.

Harry didn’t seem too happy about it, pouting but at the same time allowed Louis to pull the panties off and throw them out of the way.

“Are you sure you want this, Harry?” Louis asked once, his eyes fixed on his hard cock resting against his stomach. He held it, giving a few tugs and watching how Harry reacted, throwing his head back and groaning.

He nodded eagerly. “Yes, fuck. Please, want it so bad. I‘ve wanted it for so long.”

Louis released his cock, raising one of his legs so he could see Harry’s rim. He grabbed the lube bottle, slicking up one of his digits and keeping eye contact with him as he traced his hole with his index finger.

“How long have you wanted it?” He asked, not applying any pressure or pushing in, not just yet.

Harry was riled up and so was he. All he really wanted to do was fuck Harry. He had wanted to fuck Harry for a long time, ever since their first kiss. This was their first time and he wanted to make it memorable. He didn’t want to have regrets afterwards.

Harry was barely audible when he replied. “Since forever.”

“Mhmm, yeah?” Louis asked.

“Yeah, Louis.”

“I’m going to add one finger, okay?” He warned before pushing in slowly.

Harry was tight as a vice around Louis’ finger and he groaned at the friction, pushing in slowly and watching his digit disappear in Harry’s hole. The man below him was vocal, letting out deep breaths and grabbing ahold of Louis’ forearm. Louis waited till he was knuckles deep, giving Harry a few moments to adjust to the intrusion before withdrawing slightly and pushing back in.

Harry seemed to be enjoying this, his mouth hung open as he tightened his grip.

Louis started fucking his finger, thrusting deep and withdrawing slowly so Harry could get used to the pace. He took his time, ensuring Harry was used to the feeling and when he started panting, pleading for more, Louis added his second finger in. He repeated the same steps, keeping his eyes fixed on Harry’s blissed out expression to make sure he wasn’t going too fast.

“Feels so good, Lou,” Harry cried. “So good.”

“I can’t wait til’ I fuck you,” Louis’ voice was remarkably steady, fucking his fingers back in quicker and inserting the third digit a minute later.

He pushed the three fingers in and out, watching how Harry lowered himself down to fuck himself back. He paused entirely, his fingers still buried inside the hole but moving at all.

“Fuck yourself down on my fingers, go on, babe.”

At the words, Harry spurted precome and groaned loudly. He responded instantly, listening to the orders and using his hands to steady himself and push down. The fingers were pushed deeper into his hole as he moved to his own accord. He moaned loudly at every movement, his eyes fluttering shut at the pressure against his prostate. Louis watched in amazement, eyes glistening and his throat dry.

When they had taken the time to successfully open Harry up enough, he grabbed the condom.

“Wait,” Harry stopped himself by a gentle touch on the arm, halting his actions. “Um… can I put the condom on you, please?”

Louis smiled. “‘Course, babe.”

Harry got up so his back was straight, taking the condom out of his hands and ripping the packet open with his mouth. He shuffled forward so he was in Louis’ lap, his legs twined around his and taking the condom out. Harry rolled it on Louis’ cock, keeping his eyes locked with him. Once the condom was on, he gave Louis a few harsh tugs which caused Louis to release a needy, pained sound. Louis needed Harry.

He swatted Harry’s hands away, pushing him down onto the bed again and hovering over him as reconnecting their lips together.

He felt like he couldn’t get enough of Harry’s lips, each kiss making him crave for the next.

He could barely comprehend what was about to happen. He just knew it felt good. He knew it ignited every bone in his body. That was all that mattered.

Harry moaned. “Louis, fuck me, already.”

Louis listened, keeping a hand on Harry’s thigh as he began to push his cock in. He drizzled more lube around Harry’s hole, ensuring it’ll be a smooth fit before slowly pushing in. Harry still moaned out loud at the sensation, gaping as his eyes shut on his own accord.

“Is it okay?” Louis asked, his eyes trained on Harry’s for any traces of discomfort.

Though Harry’s face was scrunched up, his eyes opened and were bright. “More than okay. Fuck.”

Louis inched in slowly and waited till he bottomed out, deep within Harry’s ass. The feeling was incredible. Harry felt incredible. He could barely believe he was balls deep in the man he was supposed to hate, supposed to spend the rest of his life seething over. Times had changed. Now, he was buried deep within the same boy and the feeling was beyond words.

When Harry nodded, Louis started to move. He pulled back until only his head was inside, pushing back in and stretching Harry out. Harry was panting beneath him, releasing sounds deep within his throat.

Louis used his spare hand to trace Harry’s bottom lips, collecting the moisture that had collected there due to him licking his lips. After a moment, Harry got the hint and took the fingers into the mouth, licking around the both the digits and sucking deep. Louis groaned, unable to believe this gorgeous boy was so wonderful.

When he had stretched Harry out, he started to really fuck Harry.

He pulled out, pushing back in roughly as Harry inched up on the mattress, releasing a loud gasp. Louis took control, fucking him roughly as he withdrew his fingers from his mouth and let his hands wander all over his body. He pressed down on Harry’s hips, making sure to leave bruises as he fucked him deep and fast. He changed his angles, making sure each thrust was hitting Harry’s prostate.

Harry’s mouth remained open, unable to keep up with the thrusts. The offer was irresistible. He leaned down, kissing him and Harry responded lazily—finding it difficult to keep up with the force of the hard thrusts.

“I-I’m gonna come, Lou,” Harry warned, his cock twitching against his stomach as Louis kept moving, his stomach rubbing against Harry’s hard dick. The position was doing wonders for him.

“You are?” He asked, fisting around Harry’s neglected cock and beginning to jerk him off fast. “Come for me, baby.”

It only took Harry a few more minutes before he reached his orgasm, a high pitched cry leaving his lips as he released white come all over his stomach. Louis groaned, spurred on as he started to fuck him harder. He gathered the liquid on his thumb, feeding it to Harry who sucked, licking the thumb clean.

“Fuck, fuck,” Louis mumbled. A few moments later, he came inside of Harry and he groaned loudly, the orgasm ripping out of his body at the overwhelming, pleasurable sensation. He remained deep inside of him, laying on top of Harry’s stomach.

Harry’s legs tightened around his back, trapping him in.

“That was… amazing,” Harry admitted slowly, his eyes blinking and sleepy. He looked content, a smile sprawled across his lips that seemed sincere. “Absolutely fucking mindblowing sex, Louis. Fuck.”

Louis smiled against his stomach. He probably just had the best sex of his life with the best person he had received the pleasure to get to know. He knew it was going to take him a while to process this. But, it didn’t matter. Because he simply couldn’t deny how perfect the sex was.

Finally, Louis pulled out. Harry whined at the loss and Louis shut him up with two firm kisses, nipping on his bottom lip. Harry growled, keeping him close to his body as they exchanged spit for a few minutes. Finally, Louis pulled away from Harry. He got up from the bed, pulling the condom off his softening cock and discarding it in the bin. He walked to his wardrobe, picking out a cloth to clean Harry’s stomach.

He petted Harry’s stomach gently, clearing up all of the come before putting it on the side of his bed to remind himself to wash later. He got back into bed with Harry, cuddling up to him. His hands wandered down to Harry’s ass, smoothing over the hot surface where he had slapped him.

They lay content until Louis turned Harry around.

They laid facing each other. It was quiet in the room and all that could be heard was the sound of their breathing, their eyes trained on each other. Louis took in the details of Harry post-orgasm. His eyes were soft, his features relaxed and smoothed out. He looked well fucked. It was satisfying and also amazing.

“Let’s go to sleep,” Harry mumbled under his breath.

“Mmhm. Let me cuddle you this time, please.”

Harry nodded, shutting his eyes and turning so his back was facing toLouis. He inched forward, closing the gap between them and wrapping an arm around Harry’s front. He brought the man closer to him, burying his head in Harry’s neck. They tangled their legs together.

They fell asleep within minutes.

**

Louis woke up alone.

He felt cold despite the fact that the blanket had been secured around his body. The empty space besides him had been tidied, the pillow fluffed and the covers pulled to the end of the bed. Louis’ heart dropped.

Before he could do something pathetic, like cry, he reached out to clutch the pillow Harry had used and buried his nose in it. It smelt like him. He tried not to scream as he willed himself to fall back to sleep.

Chapter Text

5SOS - Long Way Home

“Take care of yourself, man,” Zayn muttered as he embraced Louis.

They stood outside King's Cross’ station. Louis’ train back to Doncaster was due in twenty minutes and Zayn had offered to drop him off. Christmas break in Guildhall was nearly an entire month long and that meant it was time to go back to Doncaster. He had booked the first train back home, eager to see his siblings and his mother. Zayn was due back in Bradford in two weeks, travelling back to Wolverhampton with Liam first.

Louis relaxed into the warm hug, trying to soak up his scent for the entire month he wouldn’t be seeing him. He missed Zayn whenever they were apart, which wasn’t often. They spent almost every single day together in their dingy apartment in Camden. It was going to be hard to spend the entire month away from him.

“You too, babe,” Louis kissed his neck, untangling his arms from Zayn’s neck and taking a step back. “We’ll be meeting at Liam’s New Years party, right?”

“Correct.”

“Not too far then.”

Zayn laughed, shaking his head sadly. “An entire month.”

“It’ll fly by, stop worrying,” he promised and then patted the bag Zayn was carrying. “Do not open your gift before Christmas day, I’ll be really mad.”

“I promise.”

“Okay, now get going because my train is here and I wanna get the good seat.”

Zayn nodded, his eyes watering as they embraced one last time. He watched Zayn walk away and then shook his head to himself at how soft his best friend really was. He swiped his Oyster against the barrier, granting him access to the platform as he slipped into his train and sat down by the window seat. He grabbed his phone, texting Johannah that he was about to depart and he’d be home soon.
Only a two hour journey before he could step off in his own hometown, walk around the familiar streets, visit his old friends and cuddle his siblings on the sofa. His heart warmed at the thought.

His phone buzzed with a notification.

‘Have a good visit back home. H.’

Louis frowned at the text message, unsure whether to reply or not. Since their last encounter, which involved Louis’ cock shoved up Harry’s tight hole, they hadn’t talked much, if at all. Even more surprisingly, it was Harry who was doing the avoiding which confused Louis. He always imagined it’d be the other way around. It was difficult to be around Harry during practice when Harry only offered awkward, small smiles and one-line conversations.

Louis hated it.

He really thought he was making progress with him. Apparently not. It came crashing down easily. Just from one fuck.

It wasn’t just a fuck to Louis, not at all. He had liked it. It held importance to him. It was Harry opening up, baring his most important secret to Louis and trusting him with it. It was soft and it was tender yet it was hot and rough.

It was everything. Louis pretended like it wasn’t.

‘Thanks.’

He didn’t bother asking whether Harry was going back to Surrey. He presumably was considering his family was rich and probably liked to host massive, extravagant Christmas parties. Louis wouldn’t be surprised.

When Louis’ train arrived in Doncaster, he collected his belongings and exited out on the platform. The wind hit him hard as he shivered, cuddling up to his hoodie and leaving the station. He saw the familiar main road before him, his heart beating right out of his chest. His friend, Oli, was already waiting there for him with his beaten-down car.

Louis dropped his luggage, immediately pulling him into a hug.

“Mate!” Louis’ voice was high with excitement. “I haven’t seen you in ages!”

Oli laughed in the embrace, patting his back before pulling away. “Missed you, man. But we’ll catch up later because Jo is desperate to see you.”

Louis smiled. “I’d imagine she would be.”

Oli helped him put his suitcase in the back. Louis took the passenger seat and Oli started up the engine, speeding down the road immediately. As expected, Oli’s driving was still as awful as he remembered. He barely managed to dodge the cars on the road and even drove right through a red traffic light.

Louis tutted at him, his scolding tone warning him to slow down. Oli simply shrugged like it didn’t care.

Within minutes, he pulled outside Louis’ old childhood house. It was a small, three bedroom house that Louis had grew up in his entire life. There was nothing glamorous about the place he was from. It was old, mostly broken and in need of repair but there was something comforting about returning here. No other feeling in the world could compare.

Oli dismissed himself, promising he’d be here tomorrow to hang out.

Then, it was just himself and the house.

Louis couldn’t keep the giddiness out of him as he knocked on the front door, having forgotten his keys at home, and took a step back to wait. There was screaming from behind the door, some running around and then Fizzy opened it.

“Louis!” She screamed, instantly embracing him at the front door.

Louis’ heart expanded fifty times as he put his suitcase down on the floor, using both hands to anchor her down in the hug. Fizzy sniffled in his side and Louis tutted.

“Um, excuse me,” he said, “who said you’re allowed to cry?”

Fizzy snorted. “Shut up, dork. I’m just happy.”

“Come on, babe. I’m home now.”

He hugged her for a minute longer until Johannah appeared at the door. She looked the same, as he remembered from a few months ago. She was wearing a dirty apron over her clothes, her hair wavy and reaching past her shoulders as her eyes were watered just by the sight of Louis. She lightly pushed Fizzy out of the way so she could grab Louis’ hand and guide him through the door. Fizzy picked up the suitcase.

Once Louis was inside the house, Johannah finally hugged him too. They swayed side-to-side into the embrace, both chuckling into each other’s necks at the familiar feeling. Johannah’s hugs were the only ones that could instantly bring him down to Earth. She smelt of the familiar, comforting vanilla scent he had grown up sniffing. There was nothing like a motherly embrace.

He hadn’t seen his mother in over two months, that was a long time for Louis. He had spent every day by her life only to be ripped apart from her, moving out and chasing his dreams. It was difficult being away from home when family was the most important thing to you.

Johannah pulled away, keeping him close, as she started smothering his cheeks with kisses all over. She smelt like baked goods and Louis inhaled deeply, laughing as he pushed his mother away.

“Mum!” He groaned, wiping his cheeks but smiling fondly. “You’re acting like I’ve just returned from war.”

“My darling,” she ignored his words. “Come inside, I’ve made so much food for you.”

Louis rolled his eyes, taking his shoes off and putting them on the stand as he walked into the house.

The twins, Doris and Ernest, squealed at the sight of Louis and instantly started making grabby hands for him. He picked them up one by one, hugging them close, kissing both their cheeks and then tickling them. Doris screamed, scratching at his face. Louis stuck his tongue at her, putting her down.

“Guess what?” He addressed both the twins who stared up to him, speaking gibberish. “I got you both gifts, yeah, I did! Gifts!”

Johannah sighed. “You spoil them rotten.”

“They deserve it, mum,” Louis said, stroking Ernest’s cheek and watching how he moved into the touch, sucking his pacifier. “I’ve missed them, so much. And you. And the other girls. Where’re Daisy and Phoebe?”

“They’re at school, they’ll be home soon, babe.”

“And Lottie?”

Louis hadn’t talked to Lottie properly since their argument. She had texted an apology to which Louis faintly said it was okay, though it wasn’t. Since then, there had been radio silence and their Skype sessions had fell through. He had been waiting to return home to talk to her face-to-face, he didn’t want to hold grudges anymore.

Johannah looked at him with a sad smile. “She’s in her room, she feels like she can’t come and say hello to you.”

Louis shook his head. “I need to go and talk to her. Give me a minute, mum.”

He took the stairs two at a time. He paused, taking a moment to peep through his childhood bedroom and the familiar peeling blue paint on the wall. He sighed, moving towards Lottie’s bedroom and knocking on the door.

“Lou?” Lottie spoke from inside.

“Mmhm. Me, Louis. Open the door a minute, love.”

“No. I’m a bad sister—”

“Lottie,” he sighed, refraining from shouting because she was being ridiculous. He knew she needed comfort. “Just open it. I’m not mad anymore.”

There was a pause and then, Lottie unlocked the door. She was wearing her pyjamas still, a sad smile across her lips. Louis didn’t waste any time before stretching his arms out and pulling her into his chest, holding her close. When she broke into sobs, Louis’ heart dropped to the pits of his stomach and squeezed her tighter. He didn’t want her to cry. He didn’t like hearing it.

“I-I’m so sorry, Louis,” Lottie tried to speak through her cries, stammering over her words.

“Please, Lots. It’s long forgotten, now,” he tried to reassure her, stroking her back.

“I didn’t mean any of it. I was just so mad and I was being inconsiderate and I’m so so sorry.”

Louis pulled away, cupping both her cheeks and looking her firmly in the eye. “How many times will you apologise, hm? Things happened, words were said that we both didn’t mean. Let’s forget about it. I’m here, now. For the entire month and we can catch up properly but I need you to forgive yourself, too.”

Lottie nodded, sighing and Louis could practically see the tension rolling off her body.

They went downstairs to Johannah who seemed pleased to see them both. She had decked out the table with all types of food—sandwiches, cheese pastries, cakes, lemon tarts. Louis’ stomach grumbled.

“I always get fat when I visit home,” he complained, though he was, nevertheless, excited to dig in. He always waited for his holidays to come around so he could feast on his mother’s food.

Lottie and Fizzy sat opposite him on the table as Johannah took a seat besides him.

Louis easily started the conversation, allowing all his family members to catch up on the recent months. He talked about how the last year of Guildhall was even more demanding, required harder work. He talked about some of his new friends, without giving away any details, and how Zayn managed to score himself a boyfriend.

At the mention of Liam, they all exclaimed with surprise at the idea of Zayn finally settling down with someone.

Zayn was also close to Louis’ family, he had come down to visit with him on multiple occasions and kept in touch with Lottie and Fizzy frequently.

“Lottie has a boyfriend too,” Johannah whispered under her breath.

Louis’ eyes widened in shock, his sandwich dropping out of his hand as he swiveled around to face his sister better.

“You what?”

“Louis,” Lottie groaned, covering her face. “I’m eighteen, man. I can get a boyfriend—”

“Absolutely not! I don’t approve of this!”

“Stop!”

Johannah laughed, putting a hand on his shoulders. “Calm down, love. He’s a lovely lad, I’ve met him a few times.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Around three months.”

Louis looked at her carefully. “I want to meet him, no buts.”

Lottie rolled her eyes, stabbing her fork in the cake she was eating. “Fine.”

They both finished their brunch before Louis offered to pick up the twins from their school. He was going to surprise them since they had no idea he was coming. The walk to the primary school down the road was quick but refreshing as he passed all his neighbours houses, and the roads he grew up playing football on. When he reached outside the school, Daisy and Phoebe were waiting outside, he didn’t expect to be bombarded with a wide hug that knocked the wind out of him.

“Girls!” He chuckled, embracing them both. “Settle down.”

“You’re home!” Daisy squealed, tightening her arm around his neck. “You’re home, Louis!”

“I am.”

“How long are you staying for?”

“For as long as you’d like.”

“Forever,” Phoebe whispered.

They stopped at the corner store on the way home and both the girls got a chocolate bar each, Louis opted for a Mountain Dew drink. They took the long route back home, catching up as Daisy ranted about her teacher and Phoebe talked about her new friends. They were both bursting with new stories, endless conversations filtering between them.

The rest of the day was spent in the same way . They played Monopoly together, ate more good food, Louis met Dan briefly but kept a safe distance. He was aware of Johannah’s new partner and father to the younger twins, but after his failed relationships with father figures—he had no interest in getting close to another.

Johannah and Dan went out for a date night that allowed him some time with all the siblings. Ernest cuddled up in his lap, resting his head on Louis’ chest as they switched on a Christmas movie and watched together.

This was home. This was where Louis belonged.

**

Two weeks passed easily at home.

Louis spent each moment being productive, doing something with the family constantly. He went shopping with Johannah on a few occasions, helping out with the groceries and the presents. He picked out sentimental, meaningful presents for each of his siblings whilst he was out too. He gave Dan a hand fixing the garden shed without exchanging many words. He helped Johannah cook, cutting up the vegetables and Fizzy with her Christmas homework, guiding her through the GCSEs subjects she was struggling with. He spent every minute of the day playing with Ernest and Doris, chasing them around the house and playing hide and seek.

The truth was, Louis was so busy with his life at home that he neglected everybody else outside of his little bubble.

He went out with Oli a few times too. They went for a meal and caught up over a burger and drinks. They went to the park to kick around a football, talking about Oli’s apprenticeship with a finance company and how it was going, and also about Guildhall. It seemed like he could never escape that place. Everybody wanted to know the details about the elite university and its infamous stories.

Oli invited the rest of their friends, including Stan, which was awkward.

Louis had hardly spoken to Stan ever since he had outed him to the entire school and the bullying had ensued. But, that was a long time ago and he was more inclined to talk to him this time. He could tell Stan was truly regretful for his actions. He never meant any harm and he couldn’t keep holding onto the grudge.

It was only when it was the third week of holiday, only five days till Christmas, that Zayn kept calling him insistently at 5AM.

Louis groaned as he woke up from the continuous buzzing sound coming from underneath his pillow where he had stuffed his phone. When he saw the caller ID, he picked up and started cursing.

“It’s fucking 5AM, you crazy bastard! You better have a good—”

“It’s Harry,” was Zayn’s only reply.

Louis’ words died in his throat as he pulled the covers off him and sat up straight. Dread ran through his veins.

“What about Harry?” There was a pause that made Louis more nervous. “Zee, what about him?”

“Have you talked to him recently?”

“Um, not really. Not since I left for Doncaster. What happened?”

“He’s… still stuck in London, mate.”

Louis furrowed his brow. “What do you mean?”

“He has nowhere to go for Christmas.”

“He has a home in Surrey with a family, Zayn.”

“He’s not going home.”

“Why the hell not?”

Zayn sighed. “I don’t know, man. Neither does Liam and we can’t get ahold of Niall. We don’t know what to do.”

The thought of Harry alone in his apartment for Christmas made his heart ache. He couldn’t imagine spending the holiday alone. He always took a long time off to recover from the year with his family. He ended the year, and started the new one, off with a bang. Harry deserved the same.

“Um, wow. Do you want me to invite him to mine?”

“For Christmas?” Zayn sounded surprise.

“Well, yeah? I mean, he’s alone and I don’t want him spending Christmas alone. What the hell.”

“But, you two aren’t speaking?”

Louis rolled his eyes. “I’m guessing you called me because you wanted me to do something about it, considering it’s 5AM and so, I’m offering to invite him. Mum will be more than happy to have him.”

“I don’t know, jaan. It’ll be a full house.”

“We have the eight of us already, what’s another gonna do?” Louis laughed.

He imagined Harry conversing with his siblings, helping out in the kitchen and exchanging recipes with Johannah. He imagined him cuddled around the sofa on Christmas day underneath the tree with presents. He belonged here, too.

“Okay.. well, I think you should go for it, then.”

“‘M gonna book him the first ticket out so then he can’t decline,” Louis muttered, pulling his laptop and opening up Trainline. “Thanks for letting me know, even though you woke me up, bastard.”

Zayn let out a glorious sound. “G’night, babe. Or morning. Liam says hi!”

Louis rolled his eyes, saying his greeting before hanging up and instantly calling Harry next. He hadn’t talked to him in person since last month, hadn’t texted him since the last time he was on the train. He couldn’t deny he was nervous.

Harry picked up on the second ring. “Ello, Lou? Everything alright?” He sounded panicked, his voice high, surprised from the unusual phone call.

Louis searched the website and found a train leaving London in an hour to Doncaster. He wondered if it was too much of a tight squeeze.

“Pack your bags,” is all Louis ordered as he went ahead and ordered it anyway, squinting his eyes shut.

“Um, what?”

“Your train leaves in an hour. Go, Harry.”

“What the fuck?” Harry said but he could hear the man had started moving already, shuffling in the background. “What train? What’s going on?”

“You’re coming to stay with me in Doncaster. Your train leaves from Victoria, since it’s closer to you, in literally an hour and you’ll be here by 9AM. I’m not going to let you spend Christmas alone, Harry.”

There was a long pause. “Babe…”

“We’ll talk when you get here. I just know I can’t let you be alone. So, pack your bags enough for two weeks and get your ass here. I’ll text you the booking number so you can collect your tickets from the station.”

“Louis… thank you.. I’m—are you sure? I… I’m fine here.”

“I wouldn’t spend £50 on your ass if I wasn’t sure. Just.. get on the train and then we’ll talk, okay? Please go and make it.”

“I promise I’ll be there,” and then, Harry hung up and Louis’ heart began to slow down, finally.

**
ZAYN - wHo

Louis tried to fall back to sleep but he couldn’t. He laid awake, staring at the ceiling in his childhood room.

He had spent most of his life right here in this room. It was still painted light blue, per his request, and still had his Marvel posters plastered over the wall. The bed was still the same, old double bed with the uncomfortable mattress that brought him more relief than the bed at home. It still had the same broken wooden drawers and the same ragged blue curtains. It was home to him.

He wondered faintly whether Harry had caught his train by now, if he was on his way and whether he felt as apprehensive as Louis was feeling.

At 7:30AM, he gave up sleeping and decided to take a shower and get ready for the day. He had to pick up Harry from the station and wanted to look presentable. He changed into his Marvel t-shirt, some tight jeans before going downstairs to where Johannah was awake and preparing breakfast. She was always an early riser.

Louis kissed her cheeks, grabbing one of the French toast that was already prepared.

“Mum, I have a new friend.”

“Hmm?” She turned around to face him. “Right, you said you made a few of them! Yes, what about them?”

“Well..” He took another bite of his toast, composing himself. “Would it be okay if one of them came to stay with us for Christmas?”

That definitely caught Johannah’s attention. She lowered the spatula she had been using, turning the heat down on the pan.

“Sorry, what?”

Louis smiled nervously. “Well, one of my friends—or something—he’s alone on Christmas and I spontaneously booked him a ticket here? He’s on his way from London right now.” He paused. “I know, mum. I should’ve asked and I’m sorry but—”

Johannah tutted, shaking her head. “Why are you apologising, Louis?” She returned to her batter waiting for her to soak with more bread. “That’s absolutely fine. He’s alone and that’s not fair on Christmas, not at all.”

“Mhmm. Exactly.”

“What’s his name?”

“Oh. Harry.”

“Harry,” Johannah repeated, testing the word on his tongue. “Nice name, very posh.”

He snorted. “Yeah, he is posh.”

“What, really? Well I mean it’s expected from Guildhall students.”

“Yup. Part of the famous ‘Styles’ family, he is.”

Johannah let out a laugh, her eyes crinkling as she multi tasked and prepared Dan’s morning protein smoothie. “Oh dear. Is there going to be a celebrity celebrating Christmas with us, Louis?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“Well, the more the merrier!” Johannah sounded completely on board with the idea, handing a plateful of French toast to him. “Eat this up, go on,” she gestured to the seat, “when is the celebrity arriving, then?”

“Like…” Louis looked at the clock. “In an hour or so.”

“Are you going to pick him up?”

“Yeah, just gonna take the bus down to the station.”

Johannah hummed in approval. “Sounds good. As long as he’s pleasant company, I’m sure neither I, the girls or Dan will mind,” she promised.

“I’m sorry, I really feel like I may of ruined Christmas now,” Louis grumbled.

“Hey, love, none of that!” She chided. “Honestly, it’ll be nice for you to have some friends over from London for your 21st birthday as well, wouldn’t it?”

“Oh, Harry doesn’t know my birthday is coming up.”

“Silly. You should tell him.”

“Nah—”

“I gotta go wake up Dan now,” Johannah turned the heat off on the stove, picking up the smoothie. “You pick up this Harry and tell him your mother is waiting to meet him, okay?” She leaned down to place a lingering kiss in his forehead before leaving the room and up the stairs.

**

Harry stood outside the station with a bunch of flowers in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other. He felt awful to turn up empty-handed and made sure to make a stop at the Tesco’s so he could show his gratitude. He’d never admit it but he didn’t want to spend Christmas alone, spending it with his family was out of the option, too.

Anne would’ve thrown an extravagant party. Christmas wasn’t family orientated at all for the Styles’ family. Instead, the party welcomed all sorts of upper class men and families who were judgemental, liked to tear apart the guests and prove their successes. It became a night about showing off and looking better than the other person, rather than Christmas.

Harry had never spent a ‘typical’ Christmas morning where he sat by the fireside in his PJs and a cup of hot chocolate as the family opened presents.

His father, Alan, didn’t believe in presents. He believed in standards and their public image.

From the minute they were awake, the makeup artist came over and got them ready for the day before the first rush of guests came through. Christmas was far from comfort for Harry. That was why he outright refused to return home this year, getting a mouthful from both Alan and Anne. He received a sad message from Gemma about how she couldn’t survive alone and how it wasn’t fair.

But Harry stuck by his words.

Therefore, he felt immensely grateful to be going to Louis’ hometown for Christmas.

Admittedly, their relationship wasn’t the best right now and he could imagine it’d be awkward at first. They had a lot to talk about starting from why did Harry leave the morning after. But, Harry was prepared to give answers after the friendly invite.

“Curls!”

Harry turned around to see Louis coming from the other side of the road, his hands stuffed in his pockets and a nonchalant smile sprawled across his lips. But his eyes were swimming with emotions, mostly portraying nerves. Harry could relate. Louis walked up to him, offering him a wave.

“Louis,” Harry started to ramble immediately. “I’m so so thankful for this, I can’t explain and I’m really happy you called. Look, I brought flowers because I thought your mum might—”

His words were cut off when Louis pulled him into a hug, snuggling into him and burying his head into Harry’s neck. Harry stumbled, completely still at first before finally reacting and wrapping his arms around Louis’ waist. It was a pleasant surprise and that ignited Harry’s bones. They remained embraced outside the station for a minute or two, just soaking in each other’s presence before Louis finally pulled away.

“Shut up, Harry,” he said first. “I don’t want to hear none of it. It’s nothing. Mum is more than happy to have another guest.”

Harry sighed. “Are you sure?”

He chose to ignore him. “And these chocolates and flowers, you silly boy. There was no need!”

“There was!”

Louis shook his head but his smile remained fond. “C’mon, we gotta catch a bus back and then you can meet my crazy family.”

Louis led the way to the bus station where they caught a bus. Louis paid for Harry’s ticket as they took the seat at the back. They both didn’t talk to each other. The silence was awkward and suffering. Louis sat by the window, staring out intently and not bothering to try and keep any conversation going. Harry sat mutely, his hands twined. He knew this was his fault. It was his fault for ruining the beautiful, blossoming relationship between them by his cowardly actions. Of course, Louis would be bothered by it.

After a ten minute journey, Louis patted his thigh and gestured to the door. They got off on a main road as Louis started walking, his head turning back to ensure Harry was following him. They entered a smaller, secluded road and came to a stop outside a small house. Louis got keys out of his pocket.

“I’d just like to say,” he cleared his throat, “my family is crazy. So, I apologise in advance because you’re about to enter Hell.”

Harry shrugged. “I highly doubt that.”

“Oh, just you watch.”

Louis unlocked the door, opening it up and letting Harry through first. Harry entered the house and was instantly met with the warm air around the house, the central heating was on and it was toasty. Louis shucked his shoes off, instructing Harry to do the same.

Harry took a second to observe his new surroundings. It was so startlingly different than his home in Surrey.

The Styles’ family lived in a mansion, located on top of a hill and deserted from other civilisation. It was a gated residence, complete with a guard who stood outside. The house was Victorian styled, large with seven bedrooms and five bathrooms and was attached to an endless history that Anne forced him and Gemma to learn.

However, Louis’ house was small. The hallway was narrow and led to only two places: the kitchen straight ahead and another room on the right. There was a small staircase, covered by coats and shoes by the stairs. It was cosy, though and there was something homely about the whole place that Harry felt instantly comfortable in. The house wasn’t cold and didn’t lack personality like Harry’s. It was clear an abundance of people actually lived here.

Before they could even exchange a word, somebody’s head popped out from the living room and let out a squeal.

“Mum!” The girl screamed. “It’s Harry! Louis’ friend!”

The room erupted with life, other voices giggling and a woman shushing them. Harry turned to Louis who offered a shy, small smile.

“I told you.” Louis only said, shrugging.

A woman appeared from the room, an uncanny resemblance with Louis. Despite the age, she was gorgeous and it was clear she took care of herself. She had long brown hair, wavy and blue eyes just like Louis’. Her features were relaxed and welcoming, instantly pulling Harry into a hug without much of a warning. Harry was startled but he melted into the embrace. Anne failed to show the same affection and he couldn’t deny how good this felt.

“Harry Styles, is it?” She said when she pulled away, her red painted lips stretched to a smile. “I’m Johannah, love. I’m Louis’ mother. It’s lovely to have you here.”

“Thank you for having me, Mrs. Tomlinson.”

“Nonsense, you’ll call me Jo, please,” she nodded before turning her head back to the living room. “Fizzy, come out ‘ere and take Harry’s bags to Louis’ room, please,” she turned to Harry. “I’m sorry, love. We don’t have a spare room. You and Louis can work out how you’d like to sleep at night.”

Fizzy appeared from the next room. She looked a lot like her mother and Louis too, but her eyes were a soft brown colour as she nodded towards Harry.

“Hey. I’m Felicite, I’m Louis’ sister.”

Harry stretched his arm out to shake her hand, nodding politely. “Lovely to meet you Felicite, I’m Harry.”

“You can call me Fizzy, Harry. I’ll just take your bag upstairs,” she walked around him, grabbing the duffel bag and running up the stairs.

Another girl followed by two baby twins, one walking and one around the girl’s arm, walked out of the living room next. She had long blonde hair, her face adorned with makeup. She looked like a model.

“Hi, Harry!” She said brightly, walking up to him. “Nice to meet you. I’m Charlotte, but call me Lottie. And this lovely girl is Doris,” she gestured to the baby who was resting her head on Lottie’s shoulders, her pacifier in her mouth.

Harry’s chest warmed at the sight of the baby.

“Hello, Lottie. It’s nice to meet you, too,” he walked forward to Doris, reaching out to stroke her cheek tenderly with his index finger. “And you, gorgeous girl, aren’t you a stunner?”

Doris giggled under the touch, her eyes squinting shut as she squirmed away from the hold. Lottie chuckled.

“She’s a little shy.”

Harry crouched down to face the other twin, he was a boy, and was hiding his head behind his hands.

“That’s Ernest.” Lottie supplied.

Harry smiled, his face warm. “Hey, Ernest. Can I see your face, please?”

Ernest slowly lowered his hands. He had beautiful blonde curls, they curled around his ear and Harry wished he had his long hair so he could show Ernest that he was exactly the same. He felt fondness swelling in the pits of his stomach.

“Isn’t your hair lovely?” He asked, hesitatingly reaching out to touch one ringlet carefully. “I love them.”

Ernest flushed red. “Fank Yuh.”

Louis guffawed. “Yeah, they still struggle with some words and mostly talk gibberish. It’s fine, though. You can work it out most times.”

Harry shook his head. He felt so fond that his heart could possibly burst. He adored children and he was excited to spend time with the twins, if he was allowed to. He took a step back, straightening out his back.

“It’s all good, I can understand.”

Johannah was watching with soft eyes. “You seem to be good with children.”

“My aunt would leave her children for me to babysit them during my secondary school years,” Harry recalled on the memory, his lips involuntarily stretching to a smile. “I learnt how to act around them.”

Louis smiled. “Well, the other twins—Daisy and Phoebe—are at school at the moment so you can meet them afterwards.”

“That’s cool. I’m looking forward to it.”

Johannah gestured to the kitchen. “Come ‘ere, Harry. I got some treats and tea, let’s sit down, please.”

Harry followed her into the kitchen where she instructed him to take a seat, despite his efforts to help her. He watched Louis walk around the kitchen, collecting the plates and cups per Johannah’s request and bring them back to the table where Harry waited. Johannah brought cake and brownies, alongside with some nuts, and a cup of tea for Harry.

“Mmm. Thank you,” he took the cup gratefully, blowing on the tea and taking a sip. He had been craving something warm since the long journey from London.

Johannah sat down opposite him with her own cup, stirring a spoonful of sugar. “No problem, darling.”

Louis sat at the head of the table so he was in the middle of them both, reaching out for a brownie and breaking a bit off before popping it into his mouth. It was nice to see how laid back Louis was in his own element. He could see this is where Louis truly belonged. At Guildhall, he always held himself together, stuck his nose in the air and walked around like he had something to prove. But now, his shoulders weren’t tense, his face was relaxed and comfortable.

“This must be a disgusting place for you, isn’t it?” Louis asked with a laugh. “You come from luxury and here we are, living like this.”

Harry looked at him sternly. “Not at all!” He turned to Johannah. “You have a lovely home, Johannah. It’s lovely. Cosy.”

She smiled. “I quite like it, if I do say so myself. Thank you.”

“How long have you lived here?”

“Oh. Pretty much since before Louis was born,” she took a sip of her tea, “I moved in with my ex-husband but he let me keep the place.”

“My childhood home.” Louis supplied.

“That’s really cool. I’ve moved around a lot in my life,” Harry said with a sad smile, horrible memories filtering his mind. “We finally settled in Surrey.”

“Louis says you’re some kind of celebrity—”

“I do not mum—!”

“What do you do to make him say so?”

Harry knitted his brows, letting out a loud surprised laugh before looking at Louis in confusion.

“I’m definitely not a celebrity, I wish, though!” He smiled. “Nah, it’s my parents who have done a few things to make them… a bit privileged. My mother, Anne Styles, is a famous fashion designer and my father, Alan Styles, is the owner of the renowned hotel: Styles.”

Johannah’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow. Shit.”

“So, I guess I was born into privilege. I’m fortunate.”

“I’d say so!”

Harry smiled. “I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity, though. That’s a little too far.”

“Hmm,” Johannah hummed. “So, what are you studying?”

“The same as Louis, actually. I’m doing Theatre.”

“Ah,” she looked down at her cup of tea, tracing around the rim of the mug. “Do you like it at Guildhall? I’ve heard plenty of complains from both my son and Zayn.”

Harry looked over to Louis for a minute, smiling. “I’d say I hold the same views as Louis on Guildhall.”

“Stuck up? Snobby? Unbearable? ‘Mum, I’d rather die than attend here for another semester’?” She mocked Louis’ voice.

He snorted, his smile stretching wider. “Pretty much, yeah.”

“It seems like everyone has the same complaints,” Johannah sighed heavily, taking another long sip of her tea. “It makes me sad that my son attends somewhere he truly doesn’t enjoy.”

Louis cleared his throat. “I don’t hate it or anything, like I’m so grateful for the opportunity but… it’s hell.”

“Nah, I agree,” Harry supplied. “It’s definitely a vicious environment, you always have to be on top of your game. The professors aren’t kind to people who can’t be the best, or do the best. Patrick is okay, though.”

Johannah rolled her eyes. “I’ve met Patrick, actually. A right bellend.”

Both Harry and Louis burst into laughter at her choice of words. Louis shook his head and he grabbed a slice of cake, putting it in his plate and using a fork to take bites off. Lottie wandered in the room next, her eyes glistening at the array of food as she sat down and grabbed a serving of brownie for herself.

“I put Doris and Ernest down for a nap, mum.”

Johannah turned to her. “Awesome. Will you be okay with picking up the girls today, Lots?”

“Sure,” she shrugged as she stuffed her mouth with brownies.

“Don’t talk with your mouthful,” Louis warned her with narrowed eyes.

They sat together for a while longer, just sipping at their tea that was getting cold. Harry tasted some of the baked goods, giving Johannah feedback about how delicious they were. Louis told his mother about Harry being able to bake. Johannah’s face lit up as they began to exchange recipes. As Harry told her how to bake the perfect red velvet cupcake, she immediately opened her phone’s notes and wrote down the tips.

“If your carrot cake is as good as Louis praises it, you’ll have to bake some for us,” Johannah said with a smile as she locked her iPhone and put it face down on the table.

“I’d be more than happy to do so.”

“It’s very refreshing to meet a young man who is good around the kitchen. Louis is absolutely useless!”

“Hey!” Louis pouted. “I am not.”

Harry looked to him. “Sorry to say so, love, but you are pretty useless.”

Louis scoffed. “I see how it is, you’re both ganging up on me!”

They talked for ten more minutes before Harry offered to help Johannah clear the table. He took the plates to the kitchen, covering the baked goods with a plate to prevent them from going stale. He put the mugs in the sink but Johannah stopped him before he could wash them, simply shaking her head.

“You’ve done more than enough, darling,” she reassured him, gently prying his hands away from the tap. “You go ahead upstairs with Louis and see where you’ll be sleeping.”

Louis led the way upstairs to his bedroom. The upstair portion of the house was significantly smaller than the downstairs and Harry wondered if it ever got really packed with the amount of siblings living under one roof. It’s no wonder Louis got along seamlessly with his siblings as opposed to Gemma and Harry. They barely had any contact when they were living together. The house was so big, there was no one given time they’d be in the same room.

“This is where I grew up,” Louis said as he opened the white door and revealed his childhood bedroom.

The room was painted blue, peeling and some drawings and posters over the walls. There was a double bed that took up the most room, unmade and messy but at the same time was warm and inviting. There were posters plastered all over the room of different movies and football teams. There was something undeniably ‘Louis’ about the room. He could imagine a younger Louis living here, spending his days here. He smiled.

“It’s perfect. Very you,” Harry said with a nod of approval.

Louis only smiled faintly. “You can stay here for as long as you need to.”

“I’ll be out of your hair—”

Louis took a step forward so there was barely any space between them, his smile was welcoming. “Listen, I don’t want you to worry. You’re welcome here, as you can tell my mother is fond of you. You can spend Christmas here, Boxing day. Everything.”

“Thank you, Louis.” Harry said, his throat thick.

“You can take the bed, I have an air mattress.”

“No, Louis. I can’t stay in your house and then take your bed, too.”

“I insist,” Louis said firmly.

They both stood facing each other with not many words to exchange between the two of them. Finally, Louis sighed and looked away towards his bedroom window.

Harry’s skin was crawling with unanswered questions, with his own shame for walking out that morning when he should’ve stayed. Every fibre of his being was begging him to stay that morning. But, he had forced himself out and caused their friendship to crumble down easily despite how hard it had been to build it up in the first place.

“Listen—”

“Harry, let’s not, yeah?” Louis suggested. “Let’s just accept it was a mistake, and that’s all. That’s all it ever will be.”

A mistake.

Harry swallowed around the lump in his throat, his eyes watering but he pressed the tears back and blinked rapidly.

“A mistake, yeah. Okay.”

“How comes you’re not going home for Christmas, then?” Louis swiftly changed the topic, flopping down on the bed and patting the space besides him. He followed and sat down. “It was strange to hear that.”

“How did you even know I wasn’t going home?”

“Hey, I asked a question first.”

Harry rolled his eyes, shuffling back on the bed and getting comfortable. “I didn’t go home because I didn’t want to,” he answered as truthfully as possible, crossing his legs and sitting Indian style on the bed.

Louis turned his body around so he was giving him his full attention, narrowing his eyes.

“Didn’t want to go? Why not? Christmas is the loveliest time of the year.”

“It is,” Harry agreed with a sigh. “But it’s not pleasant for me.”

“What do you mean? How comes?”

“Well… my family is just, um,” Harry paused, unsure how to put it in words. “Well, you see how your family is effortless? There’s a sense of belonging, of tradition, during Christmas and I can feel that here. I see the connection between you and your mother, siblings. But…” he sighed. “We don’t have that at my house.”

“Oh. What do you have, then?”

“Christmas is just another appearance for my family, another ‘keeping up’. There’s no tradition, no fun, no presents. It’s all… looking good for guests under their judging gazes. It feels more like a chore than a holiday.”

Louis tutted, looking disappointed. “That must fucking suck.”

“Mm. It does.”

“What’s your typical Christmas day like?”

Harry twined his fingers together, fiddling. “Well, we get up fairly early and get changed into our outfits. Normally some kind of suit. Gemma, my sister, helps out my mother in the kitchen and I help my father. By noon, guests start coming. We have lunch together, then dinner that’s normally ordered from out, and then a party at night.”

“Wow… that’s.. Different.”

‘What’s yours like?”

Louis smiled. “Quite normal. We get up early too because of the excitement due to presents. We open presents in our PJs, Lottie makes her hot chocolate for us and we all cuddle around the TV and watch a few Christmas movies. Mum starts preparing Christmas dinner around 5PM. We eat together, do crackers. Just… normal Christmas stuff.”

Harry smiled sadly at the lost memories. His family had potential. They could get along, there was definitely love between them but they forced themselves to be distant, detached. Harry hated the negative feeling that was connected to returning to Surrey. It was enough to leave him stranded on Christmas.

“It sounds perfect.”

“Well,” Louis shrugged, looking at him intently. “You’ll be lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience a Christmas with my crazy family.”

“Sounds good to me.”

**
Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know

“Harry. You can’t just not come home?”

Harry sighed heavily at the tone of Gemma’s voice, desperate and impatient. It only made him feel more guilty for deciding against returning to Surrey for the holidays. He knew Gemma found it difficult to get along with their parents, especially on her own, but Harry would much rather bury himself into his own grave.

“I can and I won’t be.”

“Why would you do this to me?”

“Gemma, it’s nothing personal,” he tried to reassure her. “It’s nothing to do with you. If it was up to me, I’d save you from there too.”

“But you’re not! Mum is honestly annoying me, already.”

“Christmas is in three days. You’ll be out of there before you know it.”

Harry was preparing breakfast for the Tomlinson family. He had been staying at their residence for two days now. It had been quite good, so far. Johannah was a lovely host, made the best food and always held conversations with Harry. Mostly, he spent his time with the younger twins. He would chase Doris around the living room, he’d cuddle up with Ernest as they watched movies. He would talk to Daisy and Phoebe about their school work and friends. He’d talk to Fizzy about her dreams of doing Law, and Lottie’s stories about her boyfriend.

Harry fit effortlessly with Louis’ family and it sparked something within him.

He and Louis were still skirting around each other, hesitant. He knew they could only move on if they’d talk about what happened that night. It wasn’t a mistake, not for Harry, despite how he acted.

Gemma groaned, sounding close to tears when she spoke next. “I hate it here, Harry. Mum keeps criticising me, saying I’ve gained weight and making me hate eating anything here.”

“You know that’s not true,” Harry frowned as he shoveled the eggs around the pan, turning the heat right down to let them simmer in the pan. He grabbed a plate. “Mum always says stuff like that—even to me. Just ignore her.”

“I can’t, though!”

“You can, Gems. You have all your life.”

She sighed. “I miss you, Harry. I haven’t seen you since a year.”

“Well, we’ve both been busy, Gems. I miss you, too.”

“I regret going Japan when you were moving out, could’ve said goodbye one last time since you’ve chosen to forget me. Even on Christmas.”

Harry’s chest pinged. “Gemma…”

“Look. Just… see me soon, yeah?” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I don’t know what happened between you and dad to make you stay away like this but, don’t treat me like a stranger, please?”

“Gemma, I’d never—”

“We’ll meet soon. I’ll come to London after my trip to Australia in March, hmm?”

“Yeah.. sounds good.”

“Okay, I’m gonna go now. I’ll message you on Christmas. Miss you and love you, goodbye.”

Harry muttered out of his goodbye before hanging up, his forearms propping himself up on the counter as he lowered his head into his hands. He exhaled shakingly. It took a few seconds to compose himself before returning to his food. He put the scrambled eggs onto a plate, enough for everybody.

Louis wandered into the room.

He was dressed in a slung tank top, the sides of his ribs exposed paired with boxers. He looked glorious, as always but even more exceptional in the morning with his messy hair and bright blue eyes. There was something so painfully attractive about Louis when he was in an casual attire. He paused when he noticed Harry, his lips twitching.

“What are you doing, Styles?”

Harry offered a weak smile. “Just making breakfast, to say thanks.”

“Silly, you don’t need to do that.”

“Hmm.”

Louis walked over to the kettle, turning it on and pulling out a mug from the cabinet. He put a Yorkshire teabag into the cup.

“Did you sleep okay?”

Harry snorted. “Considering I’m sleeping on a bed, I’d say yes. I could ask you the same question.”

Louis stretched his arms, yawning. “I sleep great. Air mattresses are nice, I forgot all about them.”

“Right.”

There was a long pause. The kettle went off, hot steam filtering the room as Louis poured the boiling water into the cup. Then he stopped, walking over to Harry and placing a tentative hand on his shoulders.

“Curls, you okay?” He asked, his voice soft.

Harry shrugged the hand off. “‘M fine.”

“You look bothered and…” he paused. “Come ‘ere,” he rolled Harry’s shoulders between his thumb and index fingers, releasing tension.

The pressure felt good, causing Harry to release a shaky exhale at the feeling. It was tight and borderline painful but also satisfying.

“You’re all wound up, Harry.”

He hummed in reply. “Hmm.”

“You seem tired too. Why don’t you go back up and take a nap, hm? I’ll finish breakfast.”

Harry chuckled. “You? I doubt it.”

Hey. I’ll let you know, I make a mean toast.”

Harry smiled fondly, unable to resist the huge grin that broke out as he shook out. “No worries. I’ll finish this up. Wanna help me? Can you put out the orange juice and glasses?”

Louis nodded. He got to work immediately, walking to the fridge and retrieving the carton of orange juice. Harry watched him from the corner of his eyes, admiring everything Louis did, how he walked around and organised the glasses so each of his siblings had one. He put one extra one down.

“Who's that one for?” Harry asked as he finished up frying the sausages, putting them on a separate plate and bringing them both over to the table. He set them in the centre, looking questioningly at the glass.

Louis muttered out mutely. “My step-dad, Dan.”

“Oh.”

Harry remembered when Louis opened up to him about his absent father’s and how he struggled to get along with Dan. Louis purposely kept a distance from Dan that put a strain on the family. Harry’s chest ached.

“Yeah,” Louis shuffled on his feet, moving back to the sink to fill up a jug of water. “He comes quite often, actually.”

“Mhmm. I bet,” he walked over to Louis and tentatively wrapped his arms behind Louis, holding him close to his chest. He could hear the hammering of his heart and closed his eyes. This felt like home. “I’m sorry, Lou.”

Louis took a shaky breath. “Harry. Why did you leave that morning?”

That was not a question he was expecting. He thought they were done with the conversation after Louis had claimed it was a mistake. He couldn’t be mad at Louis for that, though—it was his fault.

Harry stiffened against his back involuntarily.

Louis sighed, pushing out of the embrace and walking back to the table. He kept his gaze downwards, refusing to meet his eye. Harry could feel his heart sinking with each passing moment. He could see how beaten down Louis was about this and he had never imagined it’d be this way around.

“Look…” Harry started.

Just then, Daisy and Phoebe walked into the room, squealing. Daisy ran up to Harry and crushed him into a hug causing him to let out a huff, chuckling and then tightening his arms around her small frame.

“Thank you for the brekkie, Harry!” She said into his chest.

“No problem, Daisy.”

The twins sat down on the table, picking out bits and pieces of sausages and eggs for themselves and digging straight in. Harry looked up to Louis, desperate but Louis simply shook his head and mouthed ‘after’.

One by one, the family filtered into the room as they woke. Lottie was next with her boyfriend in tow, sending everyone a sheepish smile as they sat down and fed each other like a gross, clingy couple. Fizzy entered next, rubbing her eyes and muttering about her lack of sleep as she grumpily started stuffing eggs into her mouth. Harry could see Louis tensing up with each person that walked in.

Finally, Johannah walked in. She had Ernest in her arms who was fidgeting, not seeming to enjoy the morning whereas Doris was hyperactive and jumping around. Harry took the duty of helping Doris, picking her up and putting her in her high chair as she got her mashed bananas.

Harry could feel the tension when Dan walked in next. He was a well-built man, strong frame and blonde hair as he walked in and dropped a kiss in all the sibling’s hair. He nodded at Harry, saying good morning before doing the same with Louis. Louis returned the gesture with an awkward hand wave.

“You sit too, Harry!” Johannah demanded, gesturing to the spare seat. “C’mon, Lou. Sit and eat.”

They sat down besides each other. Harry served Louis, putting a fair amount of eggs and two sausages, pouring orange juice in his glass.

“Thank you,” Louis whispered, taking a long gulp of his orange juice and muttering, “wish there was some vodka in this. Jesus.”

Johannah and Dan conversed with everyone about what their plans were for the day. Lottie and her boyfriend were going Christmas shopping, Fizzy was going to hang out with her friends, the twins were going to go with Fizzy. Finally, Johannah turned to Louis and Harry.

“Why don’t you boys stay with me and Dan?”

Louis shook his head immediately. “Nah. We gotta go Christmas shopping, too.”

Harry looked at him questioningly, he wasn’t aware of any plans they had made but he played along.

“Um.. yeah,” Harry nervously laughed, taking another bite of his eggs. “I got to send something to all my friends, and what not.”

“Right,” Dan nodded, not sounding convinced as his eyes sparkled but he didn’t comment any further. He took a sip of his water instead, sighing. “Do you not celebrate Christmas at home? Jay mentioned something about that.”

“Yeah.. My father isn’t really keen on the Christmas traditions.”

“What a shame.”

“Truly.”

When they finished up breakfast, Dan helped to clear up but Louis took the plates off him with a glare. Harry washed the dishes, despite Johannah pleading him not to, and put them away into the cupboard. Louis held his hand, dragging them both back to his room. He shut the door, leaning against it and sighing.

“C’mon, get ready, then,” Louis ordered, opening his wardrobe and pulling out a set of clothes. “We’re going shopping, apparently.”

Harry sighed. “Are you sure you don’t want to spend the day with Jo and Dan?”

“Does it look like I want to spend time with them?” Louis scowled, his voice coming out harsh as he pinched his nose, sighed. “Sorry, I don’t want to snap. He just automatically makes my mood sour. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, Louis. Really.”

“Just get changed and we’ll go to the local shopping centre. You can pick out gifts for whoever you need to.”

**

They got into Louis’ car—which was actually the family’s Toyota Yaris, old model but nobody used it except Louis. Harry took the passenger seat, buckling his seatbelt as Louis started up the engine and fiddled with the radio station until Beyonce was blaring through the speakers. They put the heating on to combat the harsh winters in Doncaster. Louis drove relatively smoothly down to the town centre.

Harry felt awkward and there was a chest on his weight from the words he was eager to say but refrained from doing so. There was an elephant in the room between the two of them, a conversation both of them were treading around in the past days since Harry’s been here. It was awkwardly and painfully present whenever they spent time together.

He wringed his fingers together, fiddling and attempting to swallow down the lump in his throat from the tension he felt.

He looked out of the window and observed the streets as they drove past. The Christmas lights were present on each street, lit up in different colours despite it was still early in the morning. Louis took a sharp left turn, causing Harry’s head to bang against the ceiling of the car. He let out a chuckle.

“Careful, Lou.”

“Sorry.”

They fell into silence again.

Harry sighed. “Look…”

“Yes, go ahead, Harry.”

“I wanted to talk about that.. Night.”

“What night?” Louis asked, giving him a look that indicated he wanted Harry to go into details, to not avoid the subject. “You gotta be specific. The night you gave me a blowjob? The night I saw you in your panties? The nights we can’t stop kissing each other or the night we had sex? Because, I’m struggling to remember.”

Oh God.

“Louis…”

“Talk already, man,” Louis muttered, speeding up and maneuvering around the gears easily without looking up and giving Harry a glance. “I’m getting tired of you just saying my name and not speaking.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

He swallowed thickly. “For leaving in the morning.”

“Yeah, well. It was pretty shitty.”

“I’m really sorry.”

Louis finally looked at him. “Why did you do that, Harry? I really… I really thought that we had something that night, something worth staying for.”

“W-we.. we do.”

“Do we?” Louis chuckled bitterly. “Well, that’s funny because as far as I can remember, you definitely did leave. So, why did you do that? Because, I keep replaying that night and I can’t figure out what I did wrong. Was it really a mistake?”

“No!” Harry interjected quickly. “It wasn’t anything you did!”

“Then why?”

“Because… I was scared,” Harry offered pathetically, sighing heavily and putting his head in his hands for a moment. “Is that fucking stupid of me? I was scared. I didn’t… want you to wake up and tell me it was a mistake. I thought it was going all too fast, that you wouldn’t want this or me. I was scared of the future and the outcome. So, I left before it could come to that point because I’m a fucking coward and I’m pathetic.”

Louis didn’t speak for a minute, he continued to drive but his grip on the steering wheel loosened. He was staring straight ahead, licking his lips. They came to a stop at a red light and Louis turned to him.

“Harry. You’re not a coward.” He said firmly.

“I am.”

“No, you’re not. I can’t blame you for having doubts, for being afraid because I was feeling the same.”

“But, I left.”

“Yes, because you were scared. That’s a valid reaction.”

He shook his head. “No, no. I was supposed to stay, we were supposed to talk about what’s next between us. We were supposed to talk it through.”

Louis laughed shortly. “Well, when have we ever taken the simple, straight forward route?” He asked, putting the car into gear and starting to drive again when the lights changed to green. “We’ve always done things the complicated way.”

“How did you feel when you woke up alone?”

He sighed, pausing before answering. “I was… disappointed. I cuddled up to your pillow.”

“I’m sorry, Louis.”

“Look, just stop apologising.”

“But, I am,” he stressed, “I feel guilty, I have since the minute I walked out. I was just so scared.”

“Well, stop being scared, Harry.”

“I can’t help it.”

Louis tutted. “Look, I feel something here too, okay? Obviously, I do otherwise I wouldn’t have had sex with you or be concerned about this. I’m sure you feel something too.”

“I do.” Harry was quick to answer.

“Let’s just focus on ourselves, let’s be natural with each other and see where it goes. We don’t have to stress each other out with labels or whatever, man. I like you, you like me and we can take it however we like.”

Harry flushed, nodding in agreement. “That sounds good.”

“Just don’t be scared anymore,” Louis said. “I’m not that person anymore, I don’t hate you, Jesus, Harry. I might’ve done at one point. It wasn’t even hate, it was more like resentment?” He took another turn, slowing down as the mall was in view. He took a left into a car park. “I was full of hatred at myself, at my position in life, at Guildhall and then you were there with everything handed to you. It made me angry. I misjudged you, I could never apologise enough for my shitty behaviour.”

“I felt like you wanted me dead, sometimes.”

Louis turned to him, his eyes intense and dark as he shook his head and exhaled. “Fuck, Harry. I would never, ever want that.”

Harry’s lips curled downwards, feeling vulnerable and exposed. “I’m sorry.”

“Let me park this car up because I need to feel your lips on me right now, fuck,” Louis muttered to himself, grabbing a ticket from the machine as the barrier rose and he drove in. “Haven’t felt your lips in so fucking long. Fucking hell.”

**
Maroon 5 - New Love

“Happy birthday, Louis!”

Harry groaned a little at the loud noise, rubbing his eyes as he opened them slowly. He recognised Daisy standing over the bed, Phoebe by her side, peering down at them curiously. Harry blinked a few times, uncurling his arms from Louis’ waist and stretching them above his head.

“Birthday?” He repeated, confused.

Louis grumbled. “Go away.”

“It’s your birthday?” Harry asked, shaking him to grab his attention. “Louis, it’s Christmas Eve and it’s your birthday? Babe?”

“Harry, it’s 7AM. Go back to sleep,” Louis muttered under his breath, voice mumbled by his face being buried in his pillow. “Fuck Birthday.”

“No!” Daisy cried, pulling the duvet away from the two of them. “It’s your birthday, Louis! You’re twenty-one! Wake up!”

Harry was certainly awake, sitting up straight as he threw the covers off him and shook Louis harder.

“It’s your fucking twenty-first birthday, Louis?”

“Yes, it is!” Daisy supplied.

“What the—wait, I’m sorry for swearing. So sorry, girls,” Harry stood up from the bed, yawning into his fist before walking over to Louis’ side. He was still trying to hide his face, squeezing his eyes shut. Harry crouched down besides him, his features softening. “Louis? You awake?”

Louis opened his eyes slowly, the beautiful colour of his baby blue eyes shining out as he nodded slightly.

“Think I can sleep with the twins screaming in my face?”

Harry smiled, one of his fingers tracing his jawline lightly. “Is it your birthday today?”

“Mhmm. It is.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

He shrugged, eyes blinking slowly from the deep slumber he was trying to get out of. “Didn’t seem important.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Because, it’s Christmas Eve and I’d rather celebrate that.”

Harry tutted, shaking his head as he withdrew his hand. “I’m so upset you didn’t tell me, Louis.”

Louis smiled fondly, opening his eyes fully and reaching out to put his hand over Harry.

“I’m sorry, love. I would’ve told you if I thought it was important.”

“It’s your twenty-first birthday!”

“So?”

“So, you’re officially an adult!” Harry laughed, feeling frenzy. Daisy and Phoebe had filtered out of the room by now but had left a balloon in their wake. “Happy birthday, Louis,” he whispered, barely audible except to Louis.

Louis looked up to him with ernest, wide eyes before sighing.

“Thank you.”

Harry leaned down, kissing his lips softly and tenderly. Though, they both smelt of morning breath, neither of them minded. They kissed for a few minutes, content and never increasing the pace. Harry settled back, observing Louis’ sleepy face.

“Do you think birthday boy deserves an hour of more sleep?” Louis mumbled.

“Maybe..”

“Maybe?”

“I gotta go and prepare for your birthday now, don’t I?” Harry laughed.

He shook his head. “Absolutely not,” he said firmly, tugging Harry up. “Back in bed, boy. We’re going back to sleep!”

**

“Birthday boy is here!” Johannah squealed.

The kitchen had been decked out in decorations, banners hanging from the ceiling and the table surrounded with breakfast food. There was pastries, pancakes, waffles as well as a huge birthday cake right in the middle with white frosting and rainbow sprinkles around the sides. There was blue and yellow balloons around the room, confetti on the floor. It was messy yet adorable.

“Oh God,” Louis muttered before he was bombarded with hugs.

It started with Johannah who squeezed him tight, holding him close to her chest as she swayed him back and forth and whispered words of endearment in his ear. Lottie was next, handing over a gift bag, followed by Fizzy and then the twins. Louis picked up Doris and Ernest, cuddling them close to his chest and dropping a kiss on each of their cheeks. Dan didn’t hug Louis but he did pat his shoulders, wishing him a good birthday.

They settled down to eat breakfast, lightly conversing back and forth about what the plan was for the day.

Johannah allowed Harry to have the day, if he wanted to take Louis out and Harry was more than happy for the offer.

“Date night, please?” He whispered into Louis’ ear when everyone was talking to each other and they were allowed a second alone around the table. His hand settled on Louis’ thigh. “Please. My treat.”

Louis sighed. “Harry, you don’t need to—”

“Don’t give me that, please. It’s your birthday and I didn’t even know! Let me treat you, you deserve it.”

“Fine. Fine.”

They agreed that Harry would be allowed to take him out and then they’d spend the night together, stay up for as long as they could and watch movies then open Christmas presents at midnight.

“I’m so upset no-one told me it’s Louis’ birthday!” Harry expressed his hurt, poking his fork in the pineapple before smiling fondly at Louis. “Obviously, he didn’t tell me himself. I had to find out this morning!”

Johannah laughed. “He’s never been fond of his birthday, what a shame.”

“I can tell! Hopefully, I can change that.”

“You’ll have to try really hard.”

“My very hardest.”

When they were done with breakfast, Johannah and Dan forbade them from helping and ordered them to go into the living room and chill out. The siblings and the two of them played board games, Harry got competitive and won against Louis with Daisy and Phoebe as they did a victory dance. Johannah came into the room with a bunch of wrapped presents, dropping it on the floor besides him.

“Open them, baby,” she said softly, taking a seat on the opposite arm chair.

Louis looked down at the selection of presents before him, shaking his head. “Mum. You didn’t need to do this.”

“We wanted to, love.”

Harry’s hand settled on his thigh, squeezing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was your birthday, I only got you a Christmas gift.”

“Don’t be silly, Harry. You weren’t obliged to do anything, it’s alright.”

“But, still—”

“Harry,” Louis said sternly but a hint of fondness coming through, “I said, it’s okay. Trust me.”

Louis took his time to open each present, unwrapping the paper slowly and appreciating each gift. He opened his mother’s gifts first. Johannah had gifted him tickets to experience fast car racing in a Ferrari at a test centre, Kiehl’s skincare that he had been talking about, a Doncaster Rovers football shirt with his name and number printed in the back, a complete boxset of Prison Break and some money. He hugged his mother, kissing his cheeks and thanking her before moving onto the next present.

Lottie and her boyfriend had given him a mixtape of songs and Adidas trainers. Fizzy had followed the same theme—she had gotten him an Adidas sweatshirt and sweatpants. The twins, using Johannah’s money, had picked out a Gucci cologne for him.

It was all overwhelming and it was clear by the expression on Louis’ face, he was flattered.

“Thank you guys,” he said sincerely, his voice thick as he nodded. “Really. This was so unnecessary but I appreciate it so much.”

He hugged each member of his family again, squeezing tightly before settling back next to Harry’s side.

They watched TV for a little while. Johannah started on lunch a little while after, chicken pasta with potato, and they all ate the overload of carbs with a Christmas movie. When it was nearly 3PM, Harry nudged him.

“Let’s go and get ready for our date.”

“You’re an idiot for feeling obliged to treat me.”

“Excuse me. It is your birthday.”

Louis sighed. “I.. kinda miss Zayn,” he was fiddling with his phone, checking his empty lockscreen. “I know he’s busy with Liam but I was kinda hoping he remembered my birthday, y’know?”

“Don’t worry, he will. He’ll message you in no time.”

Louis smiled, shrugging and changing the topic easily. “Tell me what to wear for the date then, Styles.”

Harry’s mind wracked desperately for an idea he could use for the date. He wanted it to be classy. He didn’t know many places in Doncaster, which was a shame, because it meant he couldn’t plan ahead of time and make the birthday worth remembering. He decided an ice cream parlour, followed by a walk in the park, would be perfect and serene. It would give them the opportunity to talk.

“Casual.” He smiled.

**

“Could I have one scoop of the lemon sorbet, and one cookie and cream ice-cream scoop, please,” Harry ordered.

His fingers were entwined with Louis’ as they stood by the counter. They both had changed into a causal attire, sporting tops and tight jeans for the date. Harry knew Louis wouldn’t want something fancy, he’d want something small. He could give that to Louis. He would give Louis anything.

The worker nodded. “Cup or cone?”

“What do you want?” He looked to Louis.

“Cone, please.”

“Yeah, two cone’s.”

The worker got to work, grabbing two cones and scooping up the ice creams that were requested. He made sure they were decent sized, worth the money, before bringing them back and putting it on the stand. Harry handed over the tenner note, putting the change in his back pocket and handing Louis over his ice-cream. He thanked the worker profusely before they made their way back into the cold.

“It’s freezing,” Louis muttered, shivering into his jacket as he took the first lick of his ice-cream. “Mmhmmmm. This is good.”

‘As good as my carrot cake?”

“Never.”

Harry smiled at that. “Good.”

“So, what’s the plan, Styles? Sneaking me out on our first date that’s also on my birthday, how cheesy.”

“Only for the best.”

Louis shook his head. “You’re… so cheesy.”

“We’re going to the park. Is that okay with you? We could sit on the benches by the lake, talk for a little while, play on the swings though it’s freezing temperatures?”

Louis’ face lit up. “You know exactly what pleases me.”

Ever since their last conversation in the car, things had been brilliant. Smooth. Better than ever. There was something significant in the air between them, something worth fighting for and worth waking up for everyday. As promised, they had decided not to focus on labels just yet and let themselves enjoy what they had. They were touchy with each other, dropping kisses whenever nobody was looking. Harry could only hope their relationship would progress from here.

Harry was learning more about Louis every single day.

He had been staying at their house for four days now and each day was as rewarding as the last.

Harry got along wonderfully with the family, fit in seamlessly with the siblings and the mother. He felt more at home at the Tomlinson’s household than he had anywhere else. He was also closer to Louis than ever before, their adoration for each other reaching unbelievable levels to the point Johannah was giving them weird stares. He wondered, faintly, if Johannah ever questioned if their friendship was more than just that—he wouldn’t be entirely surprised.

Louis was soft. He was incredibly soft for his family.

He had a soft spot for each of his siblings, would easily give up anything for each and every single one of them.

Harry adored watching him interact with his siblings, how his smile would grow involuntarily and how natural it was. He had never seen the boy so relaxed before, he was always scowling and keeping his guard up during university but here, he was completely open and exposed. He was an entirely different person.

They walked around the park first, their hands joined together and licking their ice creams in their spare hands. The park was mostly empty due to the fact that it was Christmas Eve and it was cold. But, it was perfect. The lake was cold, the grass was white with a sheen layer of ice. It was magical.

Harry was mostly watching Louis talk, rambling on about things that didn’t matter and admiring his face. Louis was beautiful when he talked with no censor, his conversations were endless. He always had so much to say and Harry struggled to figure out why he ever kept himself quiet in the first place.

“What’s your favourite animal?” Louis asked, biting at an oreo biscuit sticking out of his ice-cream, giving an curious look to Harry.

He shrugged. “What a difficult question, hmmm. I’d say dogs because I had a family dog, always been fond.”

“Oh, really! What breed and what was their name?”

“He was a golden retriever, his name was Uno. He was really my best friend,” he laughed at the memories that entered his mind, traces of chasing Uno around the park. “I think I never have been as sad as the day he died.”

Louis squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. He was sick, he had to be put down.”

“Poor Uno.”

“What about you, favourite animal?”

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough money to afford a pet. We could hardly afford our food!” He let out an abrupt laugh, no hint of hostility in his voice—simply stating the truth. “But, I think dogs are pretty cute, cats, too. I quite like snakes.”

“Snakes?”

“Yes, snakes! They’re cute!”

Harry scrunched his nose. “I’m not sure where you got that from but you’re incorrect.”

“Shut up, Harry. I am not!”

They both laughed. Their hands were swinging in the air between them, fingers squeezed together. After they had walked one entire lap of the park, they found a bench that wasn’t wet and settled down. Their ice creams had finished by now. Harry brought out a selection of chocolates he had stuffed into his pocket before he had left, handing them over. Louis accepted them gleefully, unwrapping one and popping it in his mouth.

“Mmm. I love these!”

“I know. That’s why I brought them.”

“Why, thank you for remembering curls.”

Harry smiled at him for a minute, just noticing the small features on Louis that he neglected to notice. The speckles of freckles on his nose, the natural pink blush colour of his cheeks, his wonderful cheekbones. There was so much to Louis, above and underneath the surface. He adored every part of him. He had long forgotten the vicious, power-hungry Louis he had known and now, was falling for an entirely different Louis.

“What you staring at?” Louis asked, his voice laced with amusement as he chewed on a Snickers chocolate.

Harry shook his head, looking down to the ground as he tried to bite back the smile that was fighting to take over.

“Nothing.”

“I know I’m pretty but please, contain yourself.”

Harry let out a loud guffaw, unable to control it any longer as he shoved Louis’ shoulders.

“Hey.”

“Yes, Styles?”

“Why aren’t you fond about celebrating your birthday?” He asked curiously, fiddling with one chocolate wrapper. “I mean, I didn’t even know it was your birthday today. Is there any reason why?”

Louis hummed. “Mark left a week before Christmas, also known as, close to my birthday.”

Harry’s heart sank. “Oh, Louis.”

“It’s fine, like I’m over it, obviously. I just… there’s a lot of bad memories attached to this holiday. Since, we’ve learnt to get over and make the most of the day but I get a bit weird about my birthday.”

“That must be horrible.”

“It is.” He agreed with a sigh. “But it’s okay.”

“I’m glad I’m here to celebrate your birthday and Christmas with you.”

Louis looked up to him with a faint smile. “Me too, Harry.”

“I’m glad you allowed me to take you out. I mean, you are twenty-one now, after all.”

“Ugh,” he shuddered. “Feel so old.”

“Nah, you’re so young. Your life has barely begun now.”

“Getting deep on me on my birthday?” Louis raised a brow at him, shaking his head.

Both of them couldn’t wipe the goofy grins off their faces, looking at each other like they were each other’s world. Harry was mesmerised by Louis and found himself getting lost in his blue eyes everytime he looked over.

“Never,” Harry shook his head, getting up and smoothing out the front of his jacket. “Race you to the gates.” And with that, he broke out in a ran.

He could hear Louis sputtering behind him, shouting words of abuse as Harry ran faster. He felt light with the giddiness and the adrenaline and the sheer amount of admiration he held for Louis.

**

As promised, on the night of Christmas Eve the whole family gathered in the living room and when the clock struck midnight, everyone opened their presents. They went around the circle from the youngest to the oldest.

Harry had managed to pick out a present for each member of the family, for a sign of gratitude for letting them stay over as well as well as wanting to do something nice for each one of them. Over the past few days, he had managed to create a good relationship with nearly everyone and he was going to miss the environment and the happiness between everyone when he went back to London. He wished he could stay here forever.

Doris and Ernest were first, opening their abundance of gifts they got from both Johannah and Dan, as well as the rest of siblings. They were all new toys to play with and some clothes.

Then it was Daisy’s and Phoebe’s turn. They got new makeup—despite Louis’ complaints that they were simply too young to be experimenting with makeup just yet—and gift cards to clothes shops. Harry had gotten them a small Juicy Couture perfume set each. They squealed when they opened it, running up to him and embracing him. They immediately started opening it, trying it on their wrists to test the smell.

Louis snuggled further into Harry’s sides, looping their arms together and placing a discrete, soft kiss on his biceps.

“Thank you for that,” he muttered, barely audible to anybody but Harry, “you didn’t have to do that.”

Harry smiled. “I got one for everyone.”

“You idiot.”

“My pleasure.”

Fizzy was next. She had a few gifts to get through. Dan and Johannah had gotten the items off her wishlist, a new handbag, a collection of movies as well as new books that she and Louis could read together like they always did. Louis had gifted her a set of professional paints, since she was keen to get into the art industry. Harry gifted her a selection of quality drawing pencils to go along with it. They had planned the presents together. She was immensely grateful, promising to try them out.

Lottie was an aspiring makeup artist so, naturally, all her gifts were makeup and skincare related. Again, Louis and Harry had planned their gifts together and gotten her a Clinique makeup and skincare set after discussing the best present with the ladies at the Debenham stores.

Then, it was Louis’ turn.

He opened each of his gift with time. Just like he had with his birthday presents. He thanked each member of his family, exclaiming that it wasn’t necessary to get him two sets of presents. Then, he landed on Harry’s presents.

“Really?” He rolled his eyes as he looked up to Harry, lightly touching the glitter wrapping paper. “Why did you do this?”

Harry shrugged. “Why not? I wanted to get you something nice for Christmas. I would’ve done more if I knew it was your bloody birthday too, Jesus.”

Harry had taken the time out to carefully select Louis’ Christmas presents as he wanted them to be important. The presents signified their shift in their relationship, how they had become tolerant of each other and even, good friends. Also, how Harry was hopelessly falling for Louis every single day when he never imagined this day would ever come. He had wandered around every shop possible in Doncaster until he landed with three, good presents that he could only hope Louis would like too.

Louis opened the first one with shaky hands, tearing the glitter paper apart. It was a personalised bottle of champagne, a Louis Roederer Cristal bottle, he had specifically chosen it because of the name. It was an expensive, luxurious bottle of champagne that Harry had tasted before and knew was absolutely delicious. The front of the label had Louis’ name alongside the brand and was in a case.

Louis’ mouth dropped, his head snapping back at Harry.

“Did you really—”

“What is it?” Johannah asked, her camera pointed towards them as she recorded every moment. “Tell it to the camera!”

Louis turned back around to her, shock still evident on his face as he held up the bottle to the camera.

“It’s a bottle of some expensive champagne that I am absolutely not worthy of!”

“Don’t be silly!” Harry tutted.

“Thank you, oh my God,” he muttered, shaking his head in disbelief as he touched the label with a feather light graze. “I’m never drinking this. This is luxurious, rich champagne. Jesus. Thank you so much, Harry.”

“No problem.” His nose crinkled.

Louis opened the next present, it was a t-shirt with the saying: “I’m no good at advice… could I interest you with a sarcastic comment?” Which caused the entire family to laugh. Louis shrugged it over his head immediately. Harry’s heart warmed.

The last present made Harry the most anxious.

Louis looked at the small packaged box curiously, fiddling with the wrapping paper. “What could this possibly be?” He asked the camera, putting on a show for the video before ripping the paper off.

The room went silent at the Michael Kors box.

Louis looked to Harry, shaking his head. “No, no. Babe, I can’t accept this—”

“Louis,” he tutted. Though, he was riddled with anxiety and his heart was beating hard against his chest, he prompted the man to open it.

Louis did. It was a Michael Kors Lexington watch. It was a two tone, stainless steel and rose gold, and had a blue dial. It was fitted with a analogue chronograph quartz movement as well as a date function. Louis was staring at the watch before in front of him with awed eyes, unable to speak.

Harry chuckled nervously, beginning to ramble. “I remember you complained about not having a watch once. I just remembered, found this one that I thought you might like it and I picked it up. No big deal, not really. I hope you like it, though? Because, I didn’t know—”

“Harry..” Louis was only reply, eyes soft.

Johannah was speechless, too. “Dear Lord. I don’t know if we’ve ever had any high-end designer brand presents before. This is a first.”

“It’s beautiful, Louis,” Lottie commented lowly.

Louis was still in shock. He got the watch out of the box, slipping it onto his wrist and twisting it around to admire the way it looked on his wrist.

“Mum,” he looked over to Johannah. “Could you excuse me and Harry for a minute, please?”

“Sure, honey.”

Louis nodded, getting up. He tugged on Harry’s arm, took him out of the room as they stumbled up the stairs and into Louis’ childhood bedroom. He locked the door behind him, settling on the bed with Harry perched on his lap. They were looking at each other intently, Harry observing every trace of shock in his blue eyes.

“Do you like it?” Harry whispered, leaning down to snuggle his head in Louis’ chest.

Louis tightened his arms around his back, holding him close as he sighed. “Like? I absolutely fucking love it, Harry. It was so unnecessary and expensive, oh my, God.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“Thank you so much, darling. So much.”

“It’s no problem.”

“C’mere,” Louis requested, his voice keen. “Please. I want to kiss you.”

Harry looked up as their eyes locked again. Not a moment later, Louis moved forward and attached their lips together. They kissed urgently like they couldn’t survive a moment without each other. Louis took control over the kiss, licking across Harry’s teeth as their tongues met in a messy, desperate kiss. Harry was moaning softly into his mouth, his hands wandering around Louis’ back.

“I love it, thank you,” Louis said as he pulled away, peppering kisses along his jawline, his neck. “So, so, so much. Perfect gifts. All of them. The champagne, the shirt—everything.”

Harry was smiling so wide that it hurt his jaw.

“My pleasure.”

“I got you something too. It’s in my wardrobe,” he whispered against Harry’s earlobe, biting down hard and tugging.

Harry’s breath came out stuttered, heavily panting against him. “You did?”

“I did.”

“Are you going to give it to me?”

“I am.” Louis reaffirmed, kissing him two more times before easily lifting Harry off his chest and walking over to his wardrobe.

He fiddled with some of the clothes, pushing them out of the way and picking out a box that was resting in the back. He brought it over, settling it on the bed between the two of them. He nodded to Harry, giving the go-ahead.

Harry took the box with shaking hands, apprehensive about what was underneath it. He looked at Louis for a moment before finally peeling the lid off. There was pink tissue paper wrapped over the present. He took it apart before he observed what Louis had chose for him.

The Weeknd - Earned It

It was a lace glossy black stockings with panties. It was a delicate lace material, with a thong that would barely cover Harry’s ass. But the stockings were gorgeous. They were sheer and would settle on his thighs, lace tops and had a flattering glossy finish to them. He imagined how it’d look against his pale skin and shuddered, his cock already growing hard at the thought of Louis picking them out for him. With the lingerie set, there was a suspender belt. He had never worn stocking before and the mere thought made his heart beat fast.

Also, inside the box, was a pair of rose gold handcuffs.

Harry stared at it with wide eyes, his eyes becoming glossy as the heat rushed over him. He looked up to Louis.

“I… I…”

“Do you think they’re pretty?” Louis asked, his voice had a ring of authority to it as he shuffled forward, closer to Harry.

Harry nodded eagerly, his fingers grazing over the soft material.

“It’s… gorgeous. I.. wow, I’ve never worn anything like this.”

“Do you think you’d like to try it on for me?”

Harry bit his lip, nodding. “I’d… love to. Thank you, Louis.”

Louis reached over to kiss Harry’s lips, his hands settled on his thighs. “Go on, babe. I wanna see what you look like.”

“In the bathroom.” He mumbled. “Want to surprise you.”

Louis nodded. “Fair enough.”

Louis had a small ensuite, it was barely accessible for more than one person at a time but Harry was grateful for the small space. He took the time to smooth over the lace, admiring the material. He wondered what prompted Louis to pick out this specific set. Was he thinking of Harry when he had purchased it? Did he imagined how his body would look like? His mind was swimming. He stripped off his clothes one by one, grabbing the panties and pulling them over him first.

Harry loved wearing panties.

Harry had a feminine side to him that he liked to acknowledge. Panties brought out that side to him. It was like his own little secret. He owned a collection of pretty panties, wore them underneath his jeans whenever he felt like it. The entire time he had been staying at Louis’, he had been wearing boxers. It was like a rush that came over him when he realised he could finally wear panties again.

The panties fit him perfectly, settled on his waist and barely covered his ass cheeks. He twirled around, trying to catch sight of his ass in the mirror and blushed furiously. He grabbed the belt, tying it around him and attaching the suspenders. It was entirely new to him. He had never worn suspenders before, or stockings. He pulled the stockings over his thighs. When he was done with the entire outfit, he turned back to the mirror and looked over his appearance.

He thought he looked gorgeous.

He just hoped Louis would think the same.

Harry could hear his panting as he tried to reassure himself mentally. He unlocked the door, exiting the bathroom and coming to stand before Louis.

He watched how Louis’ expression shifted. He went from calculated to awed, his eyes bright as he licked his lips and stared intently. He watched how Louis’ eyes wandered all over his body, settling on his thighs and then he beckoned Harry forward with his index finger.

Harry swallowed, obeying and coming forward. His head was a rush and his heart was hammering right out of his chest but he felt comfort knowing this was all for Louis.

Louis stood up from the bed, walking over and standing before Harry. He leaned down and kissed him roughly, his hands settling on Harry’s ass as he squeezed the skin underneath his palm and then slapped it roughly, surprising him. It caused Harry to yelp, jumping up at the contact and then letting out a loud moan. He pushed his body into Louis’, silently praying for another slap.

“You’re so bloody beautiful, Harry,” Louis whispered to him, pulling away and nibbling at his earlobe. “I don’t think I could ever get tired of your beauty. You shock me every single day.”

Harry’s cheeks grew redder at the compliments, leaning into Louis’ touch. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Do I look nice?”

“Nice?” Louis repeated, incredulous. He shook his head. “You look amazing. You look a million pounds, babe. These suspenders…” his hands wandered around Harry’s body, tugging at the belt and licking his lips. “These stockings…” his hand fiddled with the top of his tights, pulling at the lace material. “Everything. It’s gorgeous.”

“I love it, Louis,” Harry whispered. “Thank you so much.”

“I’m glad you like it, baby. I picked it out just for you.”

They returned to kissing. Louis spanked him between a few kisses, each time it caused Harry to jump out of surprise. He was rough, biting at Harry’s bottom lip hard enough to draw blood before soothing it with licks.

Harry was already pliant, his head swimming as he tried to gain friction on his cock that was rock hard in his panties.

Louis shook his head, fisting Harry’s hair and pulling his head back. “No, baby. You’ll be good for me, won’t you?”

“Mm. I will,” Harry tried to nod but found it impossible due to the angle his head was pulled at. He swallowed thickly around the lump in his throat, slipping further into his submissive mindset.

Louis let go of his hair, kissing him one more time before whispering against his lips. “Would you like to play with the handcuffs today, love?”

“Yes, please.”

“Yeah?” Louis smirked, eyes dark. “Would you like to be restrained, at my mercy?”

“Fuck.”

Louis used his finger to trace around Harry’s swollen bottom lip, smiling absentmindedly to himself. He shoved his index and middle finger into his mouth. Harry instantly sucked around the fingers, taking it to the back of his throat like it was a cock and licked over the digits. He admired how Louis’ eyes were wide, trained on his lips. When Louis pulled his fingers out, he wiped the spit down on Harry’s panties.

“Wait here,” he commanded. He walked back to the bed, grabbing the handcuffs and walking back, the cuffs twirling around his fingers. “Tell me if you want them off, at any time, okay?” He raised a brow at Harry.

Harry nodded. He put his hands behind his back, clutching them together as Louis stood behind him and attached the cuffs around each wrist. He tightened it and when Harry tried to move his hands, he found himself unable to do so. He moaned quietly, his eyes fluttering shut as he squeezed them tightly.

Louis walked back, fingers wandering on the material of his panties, slipping a finger inside. “Is it okay?”

Harry bit his lips, nodding. “Yes, Lou.”

“On your knees.”

Harry didn’t waste anytime, not wanting to disappoint Louis, as he sank down to his knees in one fluid movement. He attempted to move his hands, but found he was incapable of doing so, moaning again. Louis gave him a dirty look, his eyes were dark with lust and his brows were pulled together like he was trying to assess the turn of events in such a small time frame.

He stepped forward, finally pulling the top off his body and stepping out of his jeans. He looked down to Harry with a smirk.

“Bet you wish you could take the clothes off me yourself, don’t you?” He teased, his fingers playing with the waistband of his boxers. “Isn’t it shame you’re all cuffed, unable to touch me, even though you want to?”

Harry’s eyes fluttered shut. “Please.”

“Please what, Harry?”

“Please. Please, take them off. I want to suck your dick, please.”

Louis let out a laugh. He pulled the boxers off him, his cock springing out and slapping his stomach. He was already hard and leaking precome as he started tugging on his shaft and lazily stroke himself.

Harry was unable to help. Despite wanting to reach over, get a hand on Louis’ thick cock and stroke him—he couldn’t. He was waiting on his knees, in his black panties and his hands behind his back—just waiting. He was waiting for Louis to do something, anything but Louis seemed content to pleasure himself instead. He became desperate for attention, for a touch, for anything.

He shuffled on his knees, trying to adjust to the floor and groaning.

“Please, Louis.”

Louis looked at him, shaking his head. “You sit there and look pretty, wait for me, okay?” He said, his hands not easing on his cock as he stroke himself to full hardness.

After what felt like a lifetime, Louis cut the distance between them. He took a minute to look over Harry, his gaze heavy as he appreciated every part of Harry’s body. He grabbed his cock, leading it to Harry’s lips and rubbing it against his bottom lip.

Harry resisted the urge to open his mouth and take it to the back of his throat. He waited patiently, letting Louis control the pace. Louis finally tapped his cock against Harry’s lips, prompting him to open up. He pushed in immediately, inching down slowly so Harry could get used to the intrusion. He couldn’t use his hands to guide the cock that wasn’t pushed through his lips, couldn’t jerk off what he couldn’t take. He moaned filthy around Louis’ cock.

“I’m gonna fuck your throat,” Louis stated, his voice strained. “You’re going to sit there and take it, okay.”

Louis started pushing his cock all the way down, hitting the back of Harry’s throat. He fought back to control his gag reflex, willing his throat to relax as he tried to take his entire cock in his mouth. Louis pulled out entirely, giving him a second to breathe before pushing right back in. Harry’s nose was buried in his pubic hair, breathing heavily through his nose.

Louis begun to pick up the rhythm. He thrusted in deeper and faster, barely giving Harry time to breathe through each hard thrust. Harry relaxed completely, surrendering himself and let Louis use his mouth. Tears started building in the corner of his eyes as Louis hit the back of his throat, repeatedly, pushing back the spit that was gathering in his mouth. Louis pulled out, granting a minute to breathe.

He stroked Harry’s cheeks, eyes soft. “You ‘kay?”

“Yes,” his voice sounded wrecked.

It spurred Louis on. He continued with his torment, pushing back in rougher. His movements became erratic after a few long minutes of fucking his throat, withdrawing entirely and taking a shaky breath.

“I’m gonna come if I continue,” Louis admitted with a low whisper, his fingers tracing Harry’s lip. “I want to fuck you and come inside you, instead.”

Harry’s eyes widened, nodding eagerly. “Please, yes, please.”

“Are you clean, darling?”

“Yes. I got tested two months ago, I’m clean. Haven’t fucked anyone since.”

Louis nodded, seeming pleased. “I’m clean, too.”

Louis guided Harry up from the floor, leading him to the bed and ordering him to lay on his stomach. Harry found it difficult to navigate on his own with his hands useless behind his back but he managed, clumsily. He settled on his stomach, his ass on view as he buried his face in the mattress.

Louis settled between his thighs from behind, his hands grazing over the skin and feeling over every inch on his body.

Harry felt frenzy, the need to get relief on his cock huge as he tried to rut down on the sheets for some friction. He was stilled immediately with a sharp slap on his ass, the sound radiating through the room. Harry cried into the mattress.

“None of that,” Louis said in a rough voice, groping his ass cheeks and pulling them apart underneath the lace material. “Be a good boy, Harry and I’ll touch your cock too, then.”

Now,” Harry pleaded.

That caused another rough slap on the other cheek, this time harder. It caused him to sob into the sheets.

“You’ll wait, Harry.”

“Spank me again.”

The request left his lips before he even realised what he had asked for, freezing. Louis, however, seemed to like the request.

“Would you like that, babe?”

He nodded. “Yes, yes please.”

Louis lifted his hips so Harry’s ass was in the air, instantly bringing his hands down and spanking him roughly on the same ass cheek as before. The sound was harsh and Harry felt the pain harder this time. He spurted precome all over the sheets, growing more eager to reach down to teach but groaning in frustration when he realised he couldn’t move his hands.

Louis started spanking him. He alternated between the cheeks, slapping him on both. With each hit, Harry jumped and his cock rubbed against his stomach, providing him delicious relief. He found himself growing hotter with each slap, desperate to get off and feeling incredibly close to coming. Louis was skilled with his hands. He had Harry waiting for the spank and surprised when he slapped the opposite cheek to the one he was rubbing over, soothing.

After a decent, fifteen spanks, Louis withdrew his hands entirely.

“Want to fuck you now,” Louis said, tugging on his cock as he pulled his panties to the side. “Going to fuck you in these panties, going to get them dirty and make you come all over them,”

Harry moaned at Louis’ dirty words.

He retrieved lube from the bedside table, slicking up two digits with a liberal amount of lube before tracing Harry’s rim.

“Harry…”

“Yes, babe?” He asked, his voice faltering as he felt himself edging closer. Desperate to get off.

“I’m going to finger you now, okay? Going to open you up.”

“Yes, please,” Harry sighed, wiggling his ass under Louis’ touch so he could get a move on.

Louis spanked him, it was a light touch but it still caused his ass to shake with the impact. He moaned into his forearm, waiting.

Finally, Louis began to push his index finger through Harry’s tight ring of muscles. He was slow and careful, taking his time as he inched in. Harry still responded loudly, biting his lips to repress some of his sounds when he realised Louis’ entire family was downstairs and their walls were paper thin.

When Louis had pushed his finger in, he gave Harry a moment to adjust before he started thrusting lazily and slowly.

Harry’s head fell back, his mouth falling open in pure ecstasy at the feeling. He tried to move his hips back and move to the thrusts but Louis stopped him with a firm grip on his waist, holding in place. Louis added his middle finger, two fingers stretching him out as he started thrusting in and out. He adjusted the angle and hit Harry’s prostate dead on.

Harry gasped out loud at the sensation, squeezing his eyes shut as he felt his cock twitch and spurt out more precome.

Louis had found his button and kept pressing on it, applying constant pressure on his prostate and continued with his thrusts.

“You okay?” He asked. “I can’t see your face babe. Tell me if it’s too much.”

Harry attempted to shake his head, unable to speak much due to the pressure and the warm feeling that settled in his lower abdomen. He was overwhelmed with how good it felt, he couldn’t process what was going on except that he loved every second of it.

“Perfect, Lou. So, so good.” He finally managed, realising Louis was waiting for an answer.

That prompted Louis to continue, slipping in a third finger and stroking his walls as he fucked the fingers. He stretched out Harry completely. He felt ready and grew eager for Louis’ cock to enter him.

“C’mon, Louis,” he begged. “Fuck me already.”

Louis took a minute longer to fuck with his fingers before withdrawing, wiping the excess lube on the side of Harry’s panties.

“Want my cock, baby?”

“Yes, please. I want your cock so bad.”

“Going to give it to you, Harry,” Louis promised. He could hear the lube bottle opening as Louis slicked up his cock. “Going to fuck you so you can remember I’ve been here.”

“Please.”

Once Louis had lubed up his length, he inched back and traced Harry’s stretched out hole with his cock. He pushed in a moment later upon Harry’s mumbled pleads that were muffled by the mattress.

“Oh, fuck,” Harry garbled.

“Good?”

“The best.”

Louis laughed. He pushed in slowly until he bottomed out, his entire length disappeared around Harry’s hole. His spare hands were rubbing over Harry’s hips, gripping hard enough to leave marks for the next day. When Harry finally nodded, Louis began to move with practiced ease.

He fisted Harry’s hair, bringing him up so their lips could meet in a frantic, needy kiss. Louis flicked his tongue in his mouth, claiming what was his, before pushing him down into the mattress and increasing his pace. Louis was gentle with his fingers yet rough with his thrusts, causing Harry’s breath to knock right out of his throat.

“Fuck, fuck, Louis,” Harry kept chanting, repeating his name as he struggled in his restraints to touch something, anything.

“So perfect, babe,” Louis mumbled, his own voice sounding strained like he was barely keeping himself together.

Whilst he was fucking Harry, he reached down inside Harry’s panties and started stroking him fast and hard, thumb grazing over his slit. He used Harry’s precome for an easier slide and moments later, Harry felt the familiar coil in his stomach.

“L-Lou, I’m gonna come.” Harry barely managed and before Louis could give permission, he spurted out hot white come into his panties with a ragged cry from his lips.

Louis didn’t seem to mind, though as he milked Harry through the orgasm and then picked up some of the come with his fingers. He lead it back to Harry’s lips, feeding it to him. Harry licked the digits clean, moaning around the fingers when Louis thrusted in particularly deep and took the fingers back to his throat.

Only a few minutes later, Louis murmured.

“Harry, I’m gonna come. I’m gonna come inside you now, okay?”

Harry nodded, his cock softening after his orgasm as he moved back lazily to meet the thrusts. Louis groaned, his fingers pressing bruises into Harry’s hips before he released his come deep inside Harry’s ass with a loud cry. Harry moaned too, shutting his eyes as he felt Louis fuck the come back inside of him before finally withdrawing.

“Fuck,” Louis whispered, his fingers tracing around the rim where the come started to drip out.

“Louis,” Harry mumbled, weak.

Louis turned him so he could kiss him hard on the lips, biting on his bottom lip. “Let’s get you out of these cuffs,” he said, grabbing the key off the bedside table and throwing the cuffs on the other side of the room.

Harry stretched his hands out, sore from the position they had been locked in before reaching over and touching the first inch of skin he could reach. Louis granted him the access, holding his throat as he kissed Harry.

“Let’s clean you up,” Louis suggested after five minutes of snogging. “I need to rub lotion on your ass and wrists, babe.”

**
Hedley - Crazy For You

Christmas morning was a real treat for Harry this year.

Not only did he have the privilege to wake up next to Louis, he also finally got the chance to experience what a real Christmas morning was like.

They slept in for a while, snuggling in each other’s chests until Daisy bursted through the door, claiming it was time for them to wake up and start the day. Despite Louis’ protests, they managed to get out of bed. They showered together and somehow it ended up with Louis on his knees, sucking Harry deep into his throat but neither of them were complaining. They changed into a set of Christmas PJs and headed downstairs.

Though, they had opened up all their presents last night—they still had stocking presents to get through.

Harry had gotten a stocking this year too, Johannah managed to find a spare one hanging out in the attic and used it for him. They all unwrapped their little gifts together, marveling at the selection of different chocolates.

When they had opened their stockings, Johannah approached Harry with a wrapped up box.

“For you, dear.”

Harry looked at her with an intense gaze, a little shocked as he took the box off her. “What for, Jo?”

She chuckled. “For Christmas!”

“I… you didn’t need to—”

“Louis stole you last night and didn’t give me the opportunity to give it to you.”

Harry couldn’t stop mumbling his gratitude. They were already doing such a huge favour by letting him stay but a present on top of that, it was too much. He unwrapped the Santa wrapping paper carefully, his heart warming when his eyes met the present he had been given. It was a photo frame with a different selection of pictures of Harry and the family since his stay.

There was five different pictures. One was him and Johannah in the kitchen, baking the infamous carrot cake they had all grown to love. Another picture was Harry holding Ernest to his chest. The third picture was Lottie doing Harry’s makeup. The fourth was Harry and Fizzy when they were in the middle of a mean thumb war. The last one, though, caused Harry’s stomach to flutter.

He blinked back tears as he observed the picture, his finger grazing over the faces.

It was Harry and Louis cuddled up on the sofa. Harry was lazing on Louis’ chest, sleeping and Louis’ arm was around him, anchoring him. There was a blanket over them. Louis was sipping at hot chocolate, staring down at Harry with a fond expression in his eyes. With stars in his eyes. Harry wondered if Louis always looked at him like that and how he had ever managed to miss that expression on his face.

Louis was watching him too. “Like the present, Harry?”

Harry swallowed around the lump in his throat, nodding. “I… wow, I love it,” he answered truthfully. He put the photo frame down, getting up to hug Johannah and then Louis. “Thank you so much. It means so much.”

The rest of the Christmas morning was spent in the same manner. They didn’t move from the couch and didn’t get dressed, either. Harry was a little shocked by how laid back their day was. By now, Harry would’ve been greeting an abundance of guests that he had no idea who they were and he would be pretending to be someone he wasn’t back in Surrey. He felt immensely grateful that he was here in Doncaster, with Louis and his family.

They watched Christmas movies on TV as Lottie brought around a cup of hot chocolate for each member of the family.

She settled next to him on the couch, taking a sip of the sugary drink. “Tell me about your life in Surrey,” she requested.

Louis’ head snapped towards the two of them, narrowing his eyes carefully like he was unsure about the conversation. Harry, however, didn’t mind talking about his life in Surrey. He knew it arose curiosity in some people.

“Well..” He started, holding the mug between his hands. “Surrey is a beautiful place, mostly countryside. Perfect, classy place for my parents.”

“Mmm. What’s your house back home like, must be big?”

He chuckled. “That’s one way to put it,” he agreed. “It’s like a mansion and it’s old, very grand.”

“Do you have pictures?”

“Oh, yeah. One second,” Harry pulled his phone out of his pocket. He winced at the messages from Gemma, ignoring them all as he unlocked his phone and went to his photo album. He picked out a few pictures he took during his stay in Surrey. He never really liked to keep memories from there, only brought bad feelings. But he had a few that he liked.. “This is our field,” he flicked through the images, “this is my bedroom back home.”

Lottie gasped. “Wow, that is so luxurious.”

“I guess, yeah.”

“That bedroom is as big as our entire house.”

Harry guffawed, shaking his head. “That’s not true!”

Louis interrupted. “What’s with these questions, Lottie?” He asked with furrowed brows.

“Just curious about your boyfriend, Jesus.”

“He’s not my boy—” Louis had started to say out of instinct before clamping his mouth shut, glaring at his sister. “Shut up.”

Harry’s heart skipped a beat, unsure to placate the feeling. Was it disappointment? Was it sadness? He wasn’t sure. He pushed the thoughts out of his mind. He knew they had agreed to take it slow, to refuse to let labels define them. He had to stop overthinking this.

When dinner was served, everyone gathered around the dining table.

Dan sat at the head of the table, with Johannah by his side, as the girls gathered around the table at their respective seats. Louis sat at the opposite end, Harry sitting on his right with a proud smile.

The food looked good. Johannah had gone out of her way to make the perfect dinner. There was turkey, mashed potatoes with a selection of different vegetables. She had also made a side-dish of bacon and sausage rolls. For sauces, there was gravy, cranberry and creamy bread and shallot sauce. It all looked mouth watering. Harry had never had home cooked meals on Christmas. Today was really a treat.

Dan cleared his throat. “Before we start to eat, I’d like to say a few words without being too dramatic, hopefully.”

Harry could sense the way Louis stiffened so he reached under the table, settling his hand on his thigh. He instantly noticed how Louis softened, his thighs moving to accommodate the touch.

“I’d like to say thank you. I’m so proud to be a part of this beautiful family, to be dating Johannah, to be a father to the twins and stepfather to the rest of you. The past three years have brought me more joy than imaginable. I’d never exchange this feeling, right here, for anything else. I’d like to stay here for as long as you’ll take me,” he seeked out Louis’ contact, smile softening. “I’d also like to say thank you to Louis for finding it within his heart to accept me. I can only hope this upcoming year we can build on our relationship. I’d love that very much. Okay, enough of me. Let’s eat.”

Harry looked over to Louis whose expression had shifted. He had gone from impassive to something unreadable, there was a slight tugging at his lips that looked like a smile but he pushed it down before it could grow.

Instead, Louis reached out for the food and started serving Harry as the whole family interrupted into conversation.

“Has your family not called you for Christmas?” Louis asked softly, his voice barely audible for anybody except Harry.

Harry shrugged. He had only received a few angry messages from Gemma but his parents hadn’t contacted him. He was used to it. He didn’t expect any better. They were probably busy with the party, anyway.

He shook his head. “Not yet, no.”

His lips curled downwards. “I’m sorry, Harry.”

“Don’t be. I’m not sad or anything,” he shrugged, putting more gravy on his plate. “I know what to expect from my parents and this is exactly what I expect.”

“It still sucks, though.”

“It might’ve if I wasn’t here.” Harry said. “I feel… just. I love it here.”

Louis’ face brightened. “You’re welcome here anytime.”

“I thought it might be awkward, or it may feel wrong, but I just love every second here. I’m going to cry when I go back.”

Louis smiled. “Then, don’t go.”

“Hah! I wish!”

“We could drop out of Guildhall and live here forever,” Louis said seriously.

“I bloody wish,” he muttered, digging into his turkey and cutting it. “But I doubt my parents would be too happy about it, your scholarship would go to waste, too.”

Louis let out a laugh, shaking his head. “You’re right.”

The dinner, as expected, was delicious. Johannah had worked hard to make the dinner herself, bursting with seasoning and each flavour was evident in Harry’s mouth. He went for a second plate, unable to resist the goodness. He wanted to savour this moment. He glanced around the table, watching how the siblings were interacting with each other and how the moment was precious. There was a sense of belonging and love here. There was something to wake up for and fight for everyday.

Harry’s family life was unfulfilling and empty, in return. He felt a sense of sorrowness flash through him as he bit his lip, trying to push the feelings out. He couldn’t get the best of both worlds. He was fortunate enough with the riches. He had to be grateful for everything he could get, embrace what he had instead of contemplating what he didn’t.

“Do you like the food?” Johannah asked Harry, breaking him out of his intense train of thought. He looked back up to her.

“It’s lovely, Jo. Thank you so much.”

“My kids absolutely die for this dinner throughout the year.”

“I can see why!” He laughed, stuffing another forkful of turkey and stuffing into his mouth, savouring each taste. “Absolutely gorgeous. Thank you, Jo.”

She was blushing. “Thank you, love.”

After Christmas dinner was done, Dan brought over the dessert he had made himself. He had prepared the festive Christmas pudding as well as brownie trifle and salted caramel cheesecake. The siblings were in awe, Lottie immediately reached out for a slice of the cheesecake and Daisy and Phoebe demanding to have a bit of each dessert. Dan served each of the girls, careful to adhere to their serving requests.

Harry turned to Louis who was watching with narrowed eyes.

“He’s good with the girls,” Harry said lowly, afraid it may offend him.

Louis’ eyes dragged away from the scene and settled on Harry’s green orbs. “I… I guess, yeah. He is.”

“You should give him a chance, babe.”

“Mhmm. Maybe.”

That was the end of that conversation and Harry didn’t try to press the matter. He knew how important this was to Louis. He had struggled with absent fathers all his life, had worked and slaved to provide when each guy up and left their lives. Now that Dan was somewhat permanent, stuck around for a long time—he was having difficulty to accept it. But, it was clear Dan loved the family and wanted to be here, there was no sign of deceit in his eyes. He was committed.

From the little time Harry spent here, he had observed Dan and his dedication to the family. He was loyal, always making time and prioritising the family. He put in conscious effort with each sibling, made time for each other. He even tried with Louis though he was often let down by the lack of reciprocation. He was trying his hardest to not make the same mistakes as the men before him.

Dan was a better father than Alan could ever be.

Harry’s phone buzzed in his pocket repeatedly but he chose to ignore it, silencing it and returning his focus on the family around the table.

Once they had finished, and played with the Christmas crackers, they settled back in the living room. Louis’ grandparents made an appearance, coming with more gifts for the entire family. The atmosphere picked up immediately, all the girls running around with joy at the presents. Louis sat besides Harry, keeping up a swift conversation with his grandparents. They talked to Harry with curiosity twinkling their eyes, conversing back and forth about his life and where he was from.

Harry had an urge to hold Louis’ hand, to kiss his cheeks, to surround himself with Louis’ warmth. He was unable to keep the need to shower him with affection out of his mind.

Tom Odell - Heal

When Harry’s phone began to buzz again, he realised it was probably best he answered it and stopped trying to avoid it. It would only result in worst consequences later.

“Lou, I gotta take a call. Give me a minute, please,” he whispered as Louis looked at him with curious eyes, nodding to excuse him. Harry got up from the sofa and slipped out of the living room, opening the front door and stepping outside. The instant cold wind hit him as he shivered, cuddling up in his pyjama top.

When he pulled his phone out of his pocket, he wasn’t surprised to see ‘Alan’ flashed across his screen. He gritted his teeth, debating whether he wanted to keep up a conversation with his father but only knew it wouldn’t end well if he didn’t. He took a deep breath, accepting the call and bracing himself.

“Hello, father,” Harry greeted, his voice lacking of any enthusiasm a normal person had towards their family on Christmas.

Alan, however, wasn’t having it and skipped right to the chase. “You bloody bastard, what do you call this?”

“What do you mean, father?”

“Don’t father me. I thought you were joking around about not coming home for Christmas, but you really didn’t. Is this acceptable?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Father, if I said I’m not coming—it means, I’m not coming.”

“And why the hell not?”

“Because I don’t want to! What part of that is hard for you to understand?”

“Harry Styles! You are our son and I have to explain to every guest why you’re absent on our most important party of the year! How could you do this to us?” Alan exploded, rambling angrily. “You’re out of limits, Harry. You’ve been acting disgustingly this entire past two years and I’m not going to accept it any longer.”

Harry exhaled. “Is that what you care about? You don’t care that I didn’t come home for Christmas because I’m family, you care because I was shaming your family—”

“Boy, it’s your family too!”

“Is it, though?” Harry screamed, sure he was attracting attention and his voice could be heard from the family inside the house. It didn’t stop him, though. “Is it, dad?” His voice was shaking. “Have you ever made me felt like a part of the family?”

“You’re really something, Harry,” Alan snarled. “You’re an ungrateful, disgusting little faggot.”

“Dad—” his bottom lip wobbled, his chest felt like there was a weight crushing it. Every time Alan said those words, it hurt considerably more each time. “Please.”

“No. I’m not going to stop saying anything! Not this time!”

“That never stops you, anyway!”

“Ever since you attended Guildhall, you’ve been out of control,” Alan continued, oblivious to Harry’s turmoil and hurt. He kept spewing out words. “You’ve been some sort of ugly fucking queer, nail polish, fucking feminine clothes. Have you got something to tell me, Harry?”

Harry’s eyes were watering. “No.”

“Then, why are you acting like this?”

“I don’t know what you’ve heard or seen but it’s not what you think.”

“Right,” Alan chuckled, not believing a word he was saying. “Whatever you say, Harry.”

“I’m sorry, father.”

“Yeah, you better be.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t come home for Christmas. But, I like it here.”

“Where even are you, Harry?” Alan asked, his voice softer now but there was still a harsh edge to it.

“Um—” He glanced back to the house, unsure how to put this. “I’m at… Louis Tomlinson’s house?”

There was a lingering pause.

“And where the hell is that?”

“Um.. Doncaster.”

Alan’s temper was right back up again. “Doncaster?!” He yelled. “Fucking Doncaster, the poor village? I really can’t believe this, Harry.”

“What’s wrong with—”

“I thought if you were going to be a fucking queer, do theatre, you’d at least keep up with appearances! But, no! Obviously, you’re mixing in with peasants!”

“Dad!” Harry yelled this time, his voice stricken and fury consuming over his veins. “Do not talk about them like that!”

“Boy, I want you on the next fucking train home now. Right now.”

“No.”

“No?” Alan repeated incredulously. “No?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t remember giving you a choice, Harry. You’re coming right now so I can sort you out. You’re a fucking mess.”

Harry was sure he was crying now. His chin was trembling with the force of his silent tears as he clutched his phone. He was strong and he never let people get to him but Alan got right under his skin. He pushed all the right buttons. Alan knew what broke Harry apart, what words cut the deepest and he pushed the knife right in. He hated him. He never, ever loved his father and Harry blamed him for everything bad that happened in his life.

He sniffled, nodding. “Fine.”

“Good. Bloody hell.”

“There’s no trains on Christmas.”

“Tomorrow, Boxing Day. I want you inside our home at 12PM, stat, or else, there’ll be consequences, boy.”

Harry nodded, exhaling deeply. “I’ll book the tickets now.”

“Good.” And with that, Alan hung up.

No Merry Christmas, no good wishes, no asking about Harry’s well being and where he’s been. The conversation started with abuse and ended with abuse. Harry pulled the phone away from his ears, staring into the distance at the house on the opposite road before he burst into loud, broken sobs.

It seemed like Louis had been watching the entire ordeal because he was touching Harry’s shoulders not a second later, pulling Harry immediately into his chest. The comfort and the warmth Louis provided caused him to cry out louder. He snuggled into Louis’ chest, letting the tears flow freely and staining Louis’ shirt.

Louis was an angel. He held him tightly, rubbing his back and muttering words of comfort into his ear.

“What’s wrong, darling?” Louis asked, a touch of hysteria to his tone as he kept stroking his back in a comforting manner. “Harry, please. You’re scaring me, babe.”

Harry couldn’t speak through the tears that kept overpowering him. He shook his head, refusing to speak.

“N-no,” he could barely manage out.

“Do you want to go back inside, to the bedroom?”

“No, please.”

“Do you want to stay here?”

“Yes, please.”

“Okay, darling,” Louis said, running a hand through Harry’s hair and pushing it off his forehead. “Whatever you want.”

They remained embraced in the freezing cold temperatures, on Christmas day, outside as the sky darkened and evening fell upon them. Harry remained in his embrace though it had been a minute too long. He couldn’t find it within him to pull away. He kept crying on Louis and he kept holding him through it, unbothered about the tears wetting his shirt or the fact that they were in the PJs in the neighbourhood.

Finally, Harry pulled away and wiped under his eyes furiously. He was tired of Alan getting to him, so sick and tired of feeling a loss of independence towards his own choices, so tired of his family controlling his every move.

Louis was looking at him with concern washed over his features, his brows pulled together, concentrating on him.

“I have to go home,” Harry finally said, breaking the long-lasting silence between them. “Tomorrow. To Surrey.”

Louis’ face fell. “Oh.”

“Yeah… um, that was my father calling me.”

“What did he say?”

“Did you hear some of it?”

Louis shrugged. “A little bit? I heard some screaming so I came out, but you started to cry a second later.”

Harry laughed humorlessly. “I’m such a bloody mess. Crying whilst I’m here.”

Louis gripped his forearm, shaking his head. “No, you’re not. Don’t say that about yourself, Harry.”

He sighed. “I’ve… honestly, I’ve never spent a Christmas like this before. It was so perfect that it made me sad. Because, I don’t have this, Louis. I have to go back to Surrey,” he snarled at the mention of the city, “and pretend I care but I don’t.”

“Do you have to go back? Can’t you just stay here, Harry?”

He shook his head. “Nah, I can’t say no to father.”

Louis frowned. “C’mon, let’s go back inside. Let’s spend the remaining day we have without any tears. Come on, babe.”

**
Shawn Mendes - Never Be Alone

Louis and Harry spent the remaining of the day in bed together.

Harry booked his train back home, swallowing past the tears that threatened to spill when the confirmation page came up. It left from Doncaster early morning tomorrow at 6:30AM. All he really wanted to do is stay here forever. He knew it wasn’t possible, though. He knew he had to face his parents at some time.

Louis kissed him, promising him that it’ll be fine but he didn’t know Harry’s family. He didn’t know how suffocating the house felt, how he dreaded every minute felt there. He didn’t know about the hurtful words, the expectations, how that place pushed Harry right to the edge. He didn’t know anything.

Johannah was disappointed by the news when Harry announced his departure time tomorrow. She put down the bowl she had been washing, a frown taking over her features as she embraced him tightly.

“That’s a shame, dear,” she said sincerely, rubbing his back in a comforting manner. “I was really enjoying having you here, Dan too.”

“I was enjoying my stay here, too.”

“Promise me you’ll come back to visit?” She asked when she pulled away, holding his biceps to keep him in place. “Come back whenever you can, my house is open for you.”

Harry sniffled. “I promise, Jo. I will do.”

“‘Atta boy! Now come along, let me pack some food for you.’

Johannah got two tupperware and put a good portion of the Christmas food in both. She said he could eat it on his train journey to Surrey.

“It’s a three hour train ride,” Johannah tutted, passing the containers to him. “I got in some turkey, a few sausages and in the other one, it’s all dessert. Pack it in your bags, darling.”

Harry hugged her one more time, feeling immensely grateful for everything she had done for him. She gave him a place to stay for the holidays, showed him what Christmas really was, what family loyalty and love was. He had never felt so much love in one room between human beings before.

When he returned to Louis’ room, he put the containers into his bag and joined Louis in bed.

“When will I see you next?” Louis mumbled under his breath, pulling Harry to his chest and twining their legs together.

Harry shrugged. “I’m not sure. At the New Year’s party?”

“So, a week from now?”

“Mhmm. Yeah.”

“Am I crazy because I think I’m going to miss you, a lot?” Louis asked, his voice heavy with emotion. He squeezed Harry tighter, burying his nose in his neck and inhaling deeply. “I’m going to miss how you smell, how you look in the mornings.”

He laughed, his eyes fluttering shut. “I don’t think that’s crazy.”

“Are you going to miss me too?”

“Of course, Louis. I can’t imagine a time I won’t miss you.”

“Really?”

He snorted. “Really.”

“Styles,” Louis whispered, his voice barely audible. Harry had to strain his ears to hear him properly. “I never thought we’d ever come to this point. I never wanted to be in your presence, and now, I don’t think I can survive a week without you.”

“I’ve become too accustomed to you.”

“I’m afraid it may be the same for me.”

Neither of them responded for a minute. Harry focused on the man’s heavy breathing, how he kept trying to get comfortable by fidgeting in their embrace. He could feel the warmth that Louis was radiating, how it comforted him. He wondered how it’d feel to wake up without the fresh, laundry scent Louis smelt like. He wondered how he was going to get through the next week when he had created a sanctuary right here.

“I love Doncaster.” He finally said.

He could see Louis’ smile against his neck. “I quite love it here, too.”

“It’s so serene, clears my mind almost. I could live here.”

“Maybe you should.”

“You think?” Harry chuckled, biting back a smile that threatened to take over his lips. “I think my parents would rather murder me then let me.”

Louis sighed. “Fuck them.”

“Yeah.”

“You have my mother.”

“Yeah, I do,” Harry paused. “Will you drop me to the station tomorrow morning? I’m still not entirely used to the buses.”

Louis nodded. “Sure. I was planning to, anyway. Can you wake me up because I’m hopeless before 10AM.”

He chuckled. “Of course.”

Louis turned his body around swiftly so they were facing each other instead. He wrapped his arm around Harry’s waist, pulling him closer until there was no gap between them. He leaned down, kissing Harry’s lips tenderly. It was a sensation that always caused Harry’s mind to go into overdrive, his heart to flutter right out of his chest. Louis’ lip ignited him, made him come to life. Made him forget everything else. It all became background noise when Louis’ tongue licked his.

Louis pulled away, cupping his cheeks and using his thumb to stroke the smooth skin.

“Call me, okay?” Louis requested, shutting his eyes for a second. “When you get there, let me know you’re safe.”

“I will.” He promised.

“Please…” he took a deep breath. “Don’t do that again, don’t start to ignore me or anything. Please.”

“I could never,” Harry whispered.

“We’re better now, right?” He pressed on, eyes frantic like he was looking for reassurance. “We’re trying, we’re doing something right here because it feels right.”

“We are,” Harry affirmed, kissing his eyes, his eyebrows, his nose and then settling his gaze on his lips. “We’re better now, we’re going to continue getting better. We’re going to do this.”

“Yeah?”

“Hell yeah.”

Louis smiled. “Come ‘ere.”

They kissed for a few more minutes, getting their last feel of each other. Harry returned back to his last position, facing the wall with his back turned to Louis. They spooned, legs tangled together and the covers pulled over their necks.

They fell asleep within minutes.

**

The next morning was a rush.

They stumbled out of bed late, taking a shower together to save time. Though Harry wanted to savour every minute he had left—wanted Louis to fuck him one last time before the span of seven days separated them—they simply couldn’t afford to.

Louis helped Harry pack the remainder of his clothes, stuffing it into the duffel bag that was now overloaded with the presents he had received for Christmas from the entire family. He was leaving the city with a bag full of new memories, ones that he could never erase from his mind. Harry was positively in love with Doncaster.

Just as they were about to exit the bedroom, Louis pushed Harry against the wall.

His eyes were urgent and electric as he fisted Harry’s hair, pulling his hair back and attaching his lips to Harry’s neck.

They were cutting it really close but Louis’ sucking seemed to stop time. Nothing else seemed to matter in that moment. He worked over Harry’s pale flesh, sucking hard and biting down hard enough to break the skin before soothing over the new hickeys with a soft kiss. He continued the abuse over any available skin to him, adorning Harry’s neck with bruises.

Harry groaned when he saw his now love-bitten riddled neck. “Louis, what are you doing?” He asked, though a part of him absolutely loved it.

Louis connected their lips together instead of answering. The kiss was rushed but Harry could taste the minty flavour of his toothpaste. He moaned into the kiss, his hands settling on Louis’ ass and squeezing hard.

“Just so you remember who you belong to,” Louis mumbled, tapping on the bright red marks, his eyes glistening. “Come on now, we’re going to be late.”

They drove to the station and were met by the morning rush hour. To pass the time, they turned on the radio to the highest volume, singing along to Lady Gaga. Louis made ridiculous dance moves, swaying his hips in time to the beat and fist pumping the air. Harry giggled into the palm of his hands as he observed his moves. When they finally parked outside the station, he helped Harry out of the car and took the bag upon his shoulder.

They stood outside the barrier, staring at each other with content smiles sprawled across their lips. It was their final goodbye for seven whole days.

Louis smiled sadly. “Give me a hug.”

Harry didn’t waste any time to step into his embrace, sighing as he felt a wave of anxiety wash off him. He knew it would only return later when he had to face Alan. But right now, it didn’t matter because Louis smelt like vanilla cookies and Christmas and it pleased him. He snuggled into Louis’ chest like they had all the hours in the world. When they finally parted, Louis offered a shy smile.

“Call me?” He requested.

Harry nodded in a silent promise, beginning to make his way towards the platform as he offered a wave to Louis. He took his card, swiping it against the barriers and slipping onto the platform. His train had already arrived and passengers were steadily walking through the open doors. He pushed his duffel bag onto his shoulders, slipping into the third carriage.

Harry didn’t dare look back to Louis, afraid he’d run right back into his arms.

Chapter Text

**
Maroon 5 - Sugar

“Curly, are you here?”

“I am.”

Louis felt his heart skip a beat, giddiness overtaking him as his train slowly came to a stop in Victoria station. He was finally back in London after an entire month of peace in Doncaster. Back where the lights were never dull, where the life never stopped for anyone, where the clubs kept going on all night. Louis’ second home. He grabbed his suitcase from underneath his seat, walking towards the door.

“Where are you?”

Harry laughed. “I’m in the station, come here.”

“What trains are we taking?”

“Victoria, then we’ll change for Northern.”

“Towards mine?”

“Yeah, babe. Zayn, Liam and Niall are already there.”

“The party isn’t till later tonight,” Louis chuckled, checking the time to confirm it was only noon.

“Well, let’s just say everyone is eager to see us.”

“When did you arrive in London?” Louis asked.

The train door opened and the passengers filtered out. Louis grabbed the oyster from his back pocket, checking his photo ID before tapping on the barriers and exiting the platform. He was seconds away from seeing Harry again. He felt his bones burning with desire.

“This morning, went back to mine, showered, got changed and napped. Now, here I am.”

Louis recognised Harry standing by the Starbucks at the station. He was leaning against the wall, his head hung low and his hands clutched around his phone, talking to him. Harry looked gorgeous. Louis felt like he was reborn now that he could see him, after a long painful week. His hair was untamed, messy and he was dressed in a plaid button-down with tight jeans. He was wearing his gorgeous sparkly silver boots.

“Look up,” Louis said, his voice dripping with fond.

Harry’s head snapped up, searching around the busy station before their eyes met across from each other. His lips twitched into a smile, his hands lowering as he hung up and walked over to Louis quickly.

Barely a second later, they were embracing.

Harry’s arms were strong around Louis, securing him as they hugged tightly right in the middle of the platform. People ran around them. But they didn’t care, not moving from where they had buried their head in each other’s neck. Louis exhaled, the stress rolling off his shoulders as he felt Harry’s presence within arms reach once again.

He missed Harry for the past week so much that it physically hurt him. He had become used to seeing him everywhere. The harsh change up for seven days was something he didn’t want to do again.

When they pulled away, Harry’s cheeks were flushed.

“Gimme your suitcase,” Harry stretched out his hands, grabbing the suitcase from him and making the quick march to the underground station.

They swiped their oyster cards against the barriers, walking down the elevator and the steps before arriving at the train platform. There was barely any rush on the tube which Louis was relieved
for.

They settled down in the Victoria line tube, side by side.

“How was Surrey, then?” Louis asked, nudging their shoulders together like they hadn’t already discussed intensively about the same topic on the phone. “Was it as miserable as you claimed it would be?”

Harry’s lips tightened just slightly, barely noticeable as his eyes filtered up to the train map.

“Mmhm. That’s one way to put it.”

“Was it that bad?”

He laughed. “Yeah.”

Louis smiled sympathetically, his hand grazing over his thighs softly. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s good. At least I got to see my sister, Gemma, after an entire year. That was nice.”

“Yeah? What is she like?”

His face lit up. “She’s wonderful, really. She can be a little overbearing sometimes, always wanting to adhere to my parent’s ridiculous rules but she has a good heart and has even better intentions.”

“What did you two do? A year is a long time.” The thought of not seeing his siblings for that long period of time made his heart ache.

Harry smiled. “We went to our favourite childhood places, went to the lake a lot. We spent a night at this lovely five star hotel, just to get away from our parents,” he chuckled, shaking his head. “They get a little too much sometimes. We ordered a shit load of hot chocolates and then demanded our mother paid for it for their shitty behaviour.”

Louis smirked. “Rebel like Harry. Better watch out.”

He shoved Louis’ shoulders, eyes twinkling. “She paid the twenty pound willingly.”

“The hot chocolate was twenty pound?” Louis deadpanned, all amusement dying in his throat. “You gotta be fucking with me?”

“We ordered, like, five of them. It was an expensive hotel, after all.”

“Wow. I’m debating my choices of befriending you,” Louis joked. “I’d rather die than pay that much for hot chocolates.”

Well,” he drawled, licking his lips. “I didn’t need to, anyway.”

“Ridiculous.”

They changed trains at Euston station, getting onto the familiar Northern line that led straight to Louis’ apartment. He was getting increasingly excited to see Zayn. He hadn’t seen his best friend for over an entire month, they had both been busy with their families and neglected most of their phone calls and texts. Louis’ time had been occupied with Harry, and his with Liam’s.

For once, Louis didn’t feel dread to return to London.

He felt something else, something that had a flicker of positivity embedded in the feeling. He wondered whether it was due to the fact that he was reuniting with Zayn, or whether it was because of Harry.

Either way, it was a wonderful feeling.

One stop after, they emerged from Camden Town station.

“How’d you feel to be back in Camden, then?” Harry smiled as they left the station, beginning the short walk towards the apartment block. “Must be nice. I love this place.”

Louis took a minute to observe his surroundings. The usual cafes were open, the same graffiti across the road on the building, the music and the sounds, the market was already open. Same old Camden. He couldn’t deny the familiar spark within him.

“Feels great,” Louis said honestly.

As they walked, they kept bumping into each other due to the proximity of their bodies. Louis ached to reach out, to touch him but he resisted. Harry seemed more than content to walk, his hands pushed in the pockets of his jacket.

Not long after, they arrived at the apartment block.

Louis punched in the four number code, the door unlocking as they took the stairs up to his door. He fiddled with his pocket, finding his key and turning it in the lock before the door flung open.

The living room was full of life.

Wrapping paper all over the floor, balloons in the air, music playing in the background faintly sounding like Mariah Carey. Liam and Zayn were sitting together on the sofa, their legs twined as they sipped wine like an old middle-aged couple. Niall was sitting opposite them on the arm chair, holding the remote as he changed the music channels and they sang along loudly.

Louis took a minute to admire the view before him, his heart beating right out of his chest before Zayn acknowledged his presence.

“Babe!” He sounded choked, quickly jumping up from his space and slamming the wine glass down before running up to Louis. He crushed Louis with a hug that knocked the breath out of him. “Oh my God, Louis!”

Louis chuckled, finally adjusting to the sudden hug and wrapping his arms around Zayn.

“God, I’ve missed you, you dick,” Louis chuckled, shaking his head as he tightened his hold. “So, so much. You completely disappeared off the face of Earth with Liam, I don’t approve of this!”

“Shut up. Don’t wanna hear anything right now.”

“Did you like your Christmas present?”

“Fucking loved it.”

“Good,” Louis smiled against his neck, snuggling further and inhaling. “Had a good journey back yesterday?”

“Fucking wonderful. And yours?”

“Was decent. Had Harry pick me up, all in all, brilliant.”

Zayn finally pulled away, his eyes glistening with unshed tears that he blinked away. He greeted Harry too, hugging him briefly before leading them into the apartment. There was food on the
coffee table, wine bottles around the floor as Louis fell onto the sofa besides Niall and picked up food. He was starving.

Harry hugged Liam and Niall, he hadn’t seen his own best mates for a while.

It was a lovely reunion.

Niall returned to changing the channels, finding the best songs that were playing on the TV as they sang along loudly. Enough to annoy the neighbours.

“How was your Christmas, guys?” Louis asked, addressing the comment to both Liam and Niall.

Liam spoke first. “It was great, man. We spent the first two weeks at my house in Wolverhampton. My mum adored Zayn. Then, we spent Christmas day at Zayn’s. So much food, spicy food. Patricia likes to add her own twist to Christmas dinner.”

Zayn smiled. “She adds a little Pakistani touch to the food, for my dad.”

“Overall, probably one of the best Christmases.”

Niall started talking next. “I had a wonderful time in Ireland! I don’t get to visit home often, not able to afford the tickets. But, I’m glad I had the opportunity. I just drank a lot, ate a lot and spent
time with my nephew. Was awesome.”

 

“That’s good,” Louis nodded. “Myself and Harry had the best Christmas.”

“Oh, yeah?” Zayn asked, raising a brow with amusement written over his features. “Please, do tell, why,” he took a sip of his wine.

Harry cleared his throat. “Because Johannah is, by far, the best woman I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I’m going back very soon.”

Louis’ heart soared. “Harry has become very fond of my mother, I’m slightly worried about this obsession.”

“She’s just so lovely! I can’t help it!”

“She is the best,” Zayn agreed with a hum, finishing the last drop of his wine and biting down on the raspberry at the bottom of his glass. “She’s like my second mother, alongside Karen, of
course.”

“I love how you guys talk about my mum,” Louis admitted with a smile. “I’ll let her know how you boys are obsessed with her.”

After another hour of catching up, conversing easily between the five of them, Liam excused himself. He had to return back to the apartment and set it up for the New Year’s party tonight. Niall got up too. Harry, reluctantly, agreed to leave with them too. Louis stood up.

“You’re leaving?” He said, his voice high. He had been hoping he’d get the opportunity to get a moment alone behind closed doors. His hands were itching to get on Harry’s skin. He hoped he didn’t sound pathetically desperate.

Harry’s smile just stretched out, though. “Yeah. I have to help Liam set up tonight.”

Zayn and Liam were already walking towards the front door, Niall in tow.

Louis and Harry, however, stood facing each other by the sofa. Neither of them made a move. Louis debated whether he was brave enough to kiss him with all their friends watching.

“I’ll see you tonight?” Harry offered when the silence stretched on for a moment too long, his eyes soft as he tilted his head to the side.

“Of course, yeah.”

“You take the time to catch up with Zayn, yeah?” He started making a move to where Liam and Niall were waiting. “Wear something tight tonight.”

Louis rolled his eyes, shoving at his chest. “Oh, God. Get outta here, Styles!”

When the door was closed, Zayn turned to Louis. “Tell me all about the sex, then.”

He groaned, moving to his bedroom to take a much needed nap. “Please do not bother me for the next two hours.”

**

Liam had managed to transform the entire apartment in a matter of hours.

The bright living room was covered with balloons and banners across the wall. There was music playing in the background at a decent level so conversations could be easily heard and understood. The dining table was covered with a different selection of food—shrimps, chicken bites, sausage rolls, sushi, popcorn. There was a plate full of glasses with champagne, a bottle of wine and beer bottles in the cooler underneath the table.

Liam was playing host, dressed in his finest clothes with his hair slicked back. He had a flute of champagne in one hand, his other gripping onto his guests forearm as he laughed, his head falling back.

Niall was also helping out. He was handing out drinks, helping people opt for the cheaper alternatives, claiming tonight was for getting drunk and for mindless sex. Classic Niall.

Harry was in the kitchen, preparing the food for the table. He had changed his attire a few hours ago. He was now wearing a black tight button down, the first four buttons undone to reveal his prominent dark tattoos underneath. He had on tight black jeans, clearly he had no other bottoms, and he was wearing gold boots. His fingernails had been painted black.

Louis stood in the hallway, admiring the boy before him and he tried to ignore how his heart always seemed to work faster when he stumbled across Harry.

Liam noticed their appearance.

His face broke out in a grin, moving past the guest he had been conversing with, and immediately making his way towards them. He pecked Louis’ cheek and pulled Zayn into a hug, kissing him firmly on the lip.

“Harry’s in the kitchen,” Liam told Louis, though no one asked, and then pulled Zayn away, claiming he had to introduce his boyfriend to everybody.

Louis rolled his eyes, waving at Zayn before making his way towards the kitchen.

It was strange to see Harry working at a party instead of grinding upon a drunken, older man. It was a nice change. He looked up when Louis approached the island, biting his lips as he put the dish he had been working on down on the counter.

“What’s that?” Louis asked, gesturing to the dish.

“It’s Salmon devilled eggs.” Harry supplied easily, picking up the tray and walking to the table in the middle of the living room.

Louis followed easily, his legs following involuntarily.

He put the tray down as guests started to come by, grabbing the egg off with the fork. Harry turned to Louis, finally giving his undivided attention.

“How was the tube?”

“Packed.”

“Mm. At ten?” Harry raised his brow. “Not fun.”

“God knows why.”

“Well, at least you’re here now. Come,” Harry extended his arm out, his eyes twinkling as Louis took it and allowed him to be tugged away.

They walked to the corner of the living room, sitting down on the sofa as Niall offered them both a bottle of beer. Louis took a swing of his bottle, grateful for the alcohol as he stared at the scene unraveling before him.

“I somehow knew this party would be classy,” he mumbled.

Harry laughed. “What do you mean?”

“Like, it’s not exactly what I imagined it would be when Liam said it was a ‘house party’. I forget you middle and upper class people like to do it differently.”

“Ah. Don’t you worry,” Harry smiled. “We’ll do all the dirty dancing later.”

“I bet you’ve already got your eyes on somebody.”

Harry, unsurprisingly, nodded. “What if I have?”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Louis said, taking another swing of his bottle and ignoring the increase of his heartbeat and the twinge of jealousy invading his veins.

“What if,” Harry sprawled, using his index finger to point out somebody standing in the distance that Louis didn’t recognise, “I promised him a dance later? I wouldn’t mind doing things with him, mmm—”

Louis dug his hand into his thighs, fingernails pushing into the material of jeans.

“I know you’re testing me, darling,” he said in a muted voice. “I know you’ve haven’t got your eyes on him.”

“Oh, really? Who do I have eyes for then?”

“We’ll see.”

After all the guests had arrived, most of the food had been consumed and all the mundane, boring conversations were finished—Niall announced the party was really beginning now. They moved the table and chairs away, granting more space as Niall turned up the music. The lights dimmed.

Daft Punk - Lose Yourself To Dance

“An hour till midnight!” Niall screamed. “Let’s get fucking drunk, ladies and gentlemen!”

Just like that, more drinks were being passed around. People instantly adapted to the change of atmosphere, turning for the harder liquor as they started dancing. Louis noticed a scene taking place on the discarded table. A lightbulb went off in his mind.

He tugged on Harry’s hand. “Let’s do bodyshots.”

Harry’s eyes darkened, standing up. “Okay.”

They walked over to the table and Harry took the courtesy to lay down first, his eyes glistening as he raised his shirt and exhaled. Louis grabbed the shot glass of tequila and lime licking his lips as his hands settled on Harry’s smooth stomach. He felt a jolt of electricity shooting up his arms. He poured the tequila down Harry’s throat, noticing how he startled at the liquid and down his abdomen, on his belly button and situated the lime above the belly button.

Harry was staring at him intensely, eyes electric as he waited for Louis to begin.

Louis winked, climbing onto the table and straddling his hips. He ignored everyone’s questioning gaze, only focusing on the boy below him. He let his hands wander on the side Harry’s hips, noticing a faint mark on the side but ignoring it. He leaned down, his tongue flickering out to lick at the alcohol.

“Mm,” Harry let out a soft sound, clamping his mouth shut a moment later.

Louis smirked, lapping at the alcohol over his belly button and around his stomach before grabbing the slice of lime between his teeth. He shuffled up, transferring the slice to Harry’s mouth and then lapping at the alcohol settling on Harry’s Adam’s apple.

When he looked up again Harry looked blissed.

He bit down on the lime, moaning before spitting it out and getting up, slapping Louis’ ass.

“My turn. Get on the table.”

“Mmm. I like a bossy man.”

Louis settled on his stomach, his limbs stretched out as Harry grabbed the shot glass and pulled up Louis’ shirt. He fingered around the skin at first, enjoying how Louis jumped under the cold touch before emptying the content of the glass. He grabbed the tequila bottle, adding a little extra in Louis’ navel.

Louis squirmed, waiting for Harry’s lips to touch him.

Harry fulfilled his desires, he straddled his hips and leaned down to lick the alcohol. He took his time, his tongue swirling around Louis’ navel and licking it clean before his tongue grazed up to the lime slice. He grabbed it between his teeth, moving forward to transfer it to Louis’ mouth. He leaned down, kissing Louis’ neck softly—the touch so light, he barely felt it.

Harry moved closer to Louis’ face, his lips coming to attach over the lime wedge and sucking the juice out. Their lips were so close and Louis felt like he couldn’t breathe, desperately wishing there wasn’t a slice of fruit between them.

“Get up, babe,” Harry said once he was done drinking the juice, getting up from Louis and stepping down from the table.

It took Louis a few seconds to recover, his mind finally catching up to his body before he jumped down.

“God, I want to get drunk,” Louis mumbled.

Luckily enough, Niall was around as he handed Louis drinks. The music changed to Nicki Minaj as they started to dance, singing along loudly to the rap. Harry was right by his side for the rest of the night, never straying away, hanging off Louis as they sang together, dancing on eachother.

Harry looked beautiful.

Louis couldn’t stop staring at him.

When there was only five minutes left till midnight, Harry leaned down so his lips were grazing over his ears and whispered.

“Wanna watch the fireworks from my balcony?”

“Oh. Yes, please.”

Harry led Louis, Niall, Liam and Zayn out of the bustling living room into the quiet of his room. Niall brought along a girl he had met during the party, they were giggling into each other’s chest. Harry locked the bedroom door, opening up the balcony as they stood outside and watched out over London city. It was dark but the buildings were illuminated. The London Eye was in clear view, each pod a distinct red colour.

“Two minutes till New Year’s,” Liam mumbled, his head buried in Zayn’s chest as they sat on the chair, cuddling each other.

“Any resolutions, lads?” Niall asked, taking a swing of his beer bottle.

“Gonna start working out regularly,” Zayn said.

“Going to start working as well as studying,” Liam supplied.

“Harry?”

“Ummm…” Harry seemed lost in concentration, his brows knitted together as he tried to come up with his goal. “Maybe, to graduate Guildhall? Maybe, to find somebody I adore and stick with him.”

Louis looked up to him, eyes softening.

“And Louis, what about you?”

He tore his eyes away from Harry, looking at Niall. “To stop being afraid, to accept what feels right, when it feels right.”

Harry reached out for his hands, twining their fingers and tightening. Their bodies concealed the gesture so nobody could see them holding each other.

“Thirty seconds, guys.”

Zayn was counting under his breath, decreasing the numbers until he reached ten. Louis shuffled forward into Harry’s presence, his spare hand settling on his waist as he looked up to his face. Harry was staring back with an intense gaze, his eyes imploring Louis. He simply nodded, ensuring Harry it was okay.

“Five… four… three… two… one—”

“Happy New Year!” The party from inside exploded, party poppers going off.

Louis’ world stopped because before he could change his mind, he cut the distance between him and Harry and crushed their lips together. He instantly felt his organs coming to life, a spark running through his veins as his hand came to settle on Harry’s neck, pulling him closer even though it wasn’t possible. Harry squeaked out in surprise but reciprocated easily, moaning into the kiss.

The kiss quickly became desperate, after a whole week of not touching and feeling each other, their bodies moving together as Louis licked into his mouth. He used his hand to tug on the tiny curls at the nape of Harry’s neck, watching how Harry pulled back for a minute to take his breath.

There was no hint of regret in his eyes.

Louis hoped there was none in his either. He wasn’t feeling any.

He could faintly feel everyone’s eyes on the two of them. He didn’t care, though. He continued to put on the show, reconnecting their lips together and kissing with fever, like he couldn’t survive without Harry’s kiss.

When they pulled away a few minutes later, they rested their foreheads together.

“Happy New Year, Lou,” Harry muttered.

Louis closed his eyes, letting out a laugh purely out of the adoration that was settling in his chest and how fast his heart was beating. In that moment, he felt content. He wouldn’t exchange anything in the entire world for that moment, right here.

“Happy New Year, love.”

**

The next morning, Louis woke up with a pounding headache and last night’s remnants swirling around his mind. He was back in his own bed. He faintly remembered getting more drunk, taking more shots, and then drunkenly getting into a cab with Zayn as they came back alone to their apartment. He felt awful. He got up and took a shower, changing his clothes and ignoring his phone because he was still a little giddy about yesterday.

He walked into the kitchen where Zayn was preparing breakfast.

“Ahhh,” Louis let out, sitting down on the table and grabbing his prepared food: ham, hash browns and eggs. “This is a beautiful sight. I’ve missed this.”

Zayn turned around, a smile playing at his lips as he put down the glass of orange juice and joined him at the table.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed our morning routine too.”

Louis shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth, moaning at how creamy and fluffy they were. Zayn always prepared the best breakfast and had gone significantly better since he started dating Liam.

“How was the party, then?” He asked. “You disappeared with Liam.”

“I wouldn’t know. We left twice to have sex.”

Louis spluttered on the sip of orange juice he was having. “Jesus Christ.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing. Just unnecessary images being formed in my life,” he shuddered, putting the glass down. “I got a headache, man.”

“Here,” Zayn passed over painkillers sitting on the counter, picking out one tablet and handing it over. “You went crazy last night. Also, it isn’t unnecessary. Admit it, it’s hot.”

He snorted. “Yeah, right. ‘Hot’.” He said, making speech marks with his fingers in the air, shaking his head.

“I saw you kiss Harry.”

“I think that was the point.”

“No, no, like—” Zayn paused, the present smile growing on his face as he cut his potato hash in half, popping it into his mouth. “It just seemed much more intimate?”

“I’d appreciate if you and Liam would stop observing me and Harry. It’s very weird, you gross couple,” he flicked a piece of egg at Zayn playfully, smirking.

Zayn caught the food with his mouth, waggling his brows at his skills before returning to his own food. He moved the ham around his plate, sighing.

“We don’t observe, not if you put on an obvious show.”

“Excuse you.”

“It’s true. All night, you both were hanging off each other. It was a change. Usually, you’re both begging for each other’s attention.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “A bit dramatic.”

“Am I lying, though? Remember at the Halloween party, you refused to let yourself dance with Harry until the very last minute.”

“What’re you trying to get here? I’m a little lost.”

Zayn shook his head fondly, smiling. “Things have changed, innit?”

“I’d like to think so since he spent the whole Christmas break, nearly, at my house in Doncaster.”

“So, are you both dating?”

Louis froze. He had expected the question, obviously. Who wouldn’t ask after they saw how the two of them acted around each other? But, he wasn’t sure how to answer it. Somewhere along the lines, their relationship had shifted from enemies, to friends to something in between. He was unsure himself.

He cleared his throat, shaking his head. “Nothing official.”

Zayn gaped at him. “Why the hell not?!”

“We’re not interested in labelling ourselves just yet. Maybe, we just want to figure things out?”

“Louis, jaan, I promise—it looks like you’re already dating him.”

“I don’t care what it looks like.”

He frowned. “People are talking about it.”

“Like who?” Louis asked, curious as he raised a brow.

“Just people at the party, Nick was, too.”

“Nick was at the party?” Louis didn’t remember seeing him. Most of his night was a blur, his only memories consisting of Harry. Harry everywhere. “I don’t think we crossed paths, hm.”

“He was confused since you told him you weren’t dating Harry and then—”

“I’m not dating Harry, Zee. Not yet, at least.”

“So you plan to?”

Louis groaned. “Could you stop? We’ve just got a chance to spend time together alone for the first week in a month. I’m so done with conversations of boys, God,” he scrunched up his features, leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs. “Tell me about Patricia and Safa, and Yaser! I need all the details!”

**

When the door to Harry’s apartment opened, Louis flashed an award winning smile and his wine bottle and a box of heart shaped chocolates he had picked up on the way over.

“May I come in?”

Harry’s face broke out on a grin, opening the door wider and stepping out of the way to allow him through. He closed the door, following him into the living room and squealed.

“What’s this?” Harry asked. “I didn’t know you were coming over!”

“Liam came to mine, he told me Niall was out and I thought, poor Harry would be alone and was probably in need of company.”

He smiled with the left side of his face only, sitting down besides Louis on the sofa. His finger landed on Louis’ thigh, tracing a circle pattern on top of the material. Louis jolted from the touch, willing himself to relax. Harry took the wine bottle and chocolates of him.

“You may of been right,” Harry affirmed, observing the wine bottle and gasping. “This is expensive, you dick. Stop spending your money on me! What is this all for?”

“It was only fifty.”

Only?”

“Relax, Styles,” Louis laughed, putting his hand on top of Harry’s and squeezing it. “I wanted to do something nice, bring something to drink and eat. Though, I know you don’t like chocolates. That might’ve been for myself.”

“Cheeky,” Harry shook his head.

Louis sighed. He felt comfortable here. He was visiting Harry the day after their New Year’s party, unable to resist. He couldn’t stay away from him for a long time, anymore. He craved interactions with Harry, no matter how insignificant and trivial they may be. Harry was always accommodating, always welcoming his presence in the apartment.

“Go on, grab some glasses. Let’s open this up.”

Harry nodded, obeying the orders as he squeezed Louis’ thigh and got up from his space. He walked to the kitchen, purposely swaying his hips on the way that caused Louis to lick his lips. He
retrieved two wine glasses, bringing them back to the table.

Harry did the honours to open the wine bottle, both of them squealing as the corkscrew came off. He poured them both the white wine as they clinked their glasses together and settled back on the sofa. Louis opened the chocolates, putting it in the centre of the table so they could take a piece or two occasionally.

“What have you been doing?” Louis asked. “Today.”

“I woke up with a killer hangover.”

“Same!”

“Took some medicines, some greasy McDonald’s.”

Louis gasped. “McDonald’s?!” He asked, surprised. “And you neglected to invite me to such a beautiful place? I should feel offended.”

“Babe. You have McDonald’s down your road,” Harry chuckled. “I don’t need you to take the journey up to Kensington.”

“I would’ve come, still.”

“I don’t doubt it.”

“Where’s Niall?”

“Oh,” Harry shrugged. “I think he went out with a uni mate for some drinks.”

“Nice. Gives me some time alone with you.”

Harry looked to him, his eyes glistening as he nodded in agreement. He took a sip of his wine, keeping eye contact with Louis. “Indeed.”

They conversed on the sofa for a while longer. They discussed all the people in their theatre class, gossiping about some of the students and the rumours that were going around about them. They laughed together about one of the girls who got caught cheating in front of the whole class. When Louis mentioned Nick, he watched how Harry’s expression turned sour and he let out a laugh.

“Really?” He said, his voice not hostile and instead, amused and fond. He put the wine glass down, edging towards Harry. “I see that pout,” he reduced his voice to barely a whisper, using his thumb to reach out and touch Harry’s bottom lip.

Harry visibly exhaled, his eyes flickering between the thumb and Louis’ face.

“Do you blame me for feeling a teeny bit jealous?”

Louis traced the lip with his thumb, feeling over the cracks and the wetness. He shook his head. “Not at all.”

“He’s a lovely lad.”

“I’m sure you think so.”

They both didn’t reply as Louis contentedly touched his lip before pushing the finger into Harry’s mouth. He took it, instantly. He sucked on the thumb, taking it into his throat and licking the
digit. Louis watched in amazement, his eyes sparkling as he withdrew the thumb.

“I don’t think I can ever get tired of you.” He said, making a bold statement.

Harry’s features lit up, though. “I’m glad I’m that interesting.”

Louis sighed, his hands coming to settle on Harry’s shirt and noticing how he tensed. “Relax,” he whispered, pulling the material down. His hickeys had disappeared, not a single trace of them left. “Let me,” he leaned down, kissing at Harry’s neck.

He didn’t apply any pressure, didn’t create any marks. He just wanted to feel Harry underneath him. Any part of him was satisfying for Louis.

He maneuvered himself, successfully straddling Harry’s hips as he settled down comfortable. He used his fingers to trail up Harry’s body trapped in his clothes, feeling the soft material of his sweatshirt, his smile growing. He watched how Harry’s breathing increased, eyes locking with Louis’.

He touched Harry’s neck, feeling over his Adam’s apple which was moving in his throat.

Muse - Time Is Running Out

Then, he noticed a light bruise on the side of his collarbones.

Louis frowned, not questioning it just yet as he moved his finger over the faint red bruise. He touched it, feather light, and furrowed his brows.

“Is that a hickey?” Louis asked before he could refrain himself, welcoming the surge of something ugly settling in his stomach as he continued to feel the bruise underneath the pad of his index finger.

Harry looked at him. “No?”

“I didn’t give you this…”

“No.”

“Who did, then?” Louis’ voice hardened, just slightly.

Harry grabbed Louis’ waist and pushed him off his lap, pulling his sweatshirt over the bruise and looking away.

“Harry…?” Louis asked, trying not to wince at the pathetically obvious note of desperation in his voice. He imagined somebody over Harry’s neck, sucking a bruise, and the thought alone made him shudder. “Really?”

Harry turned to look at him, shaking his head. “It’s not what you think, Lou. No one gave me this, I promise.”

“But.. it’s a—”

“It’s a bruise, as in I got hurt, not somebody sucking my neck.”

“Harry—” Louis’ voice was soft, skirting around the issue.

Before either of them could talk any further, Harry’s phone blared his ringtone and came to life.

For a minute, they stood facing each other and he didn’t make a move for his phone that was playing the Apple ringtone through the apartment. Harry finally looked away, his face reddening as he grabbed his phone from the coffee table.

“It’s my dad, shit,” he hissed, eyes widening in something that looked quite a lot like fear.

Louis’ heart started racing, for no apparent reason. Harry’s family made him nervous.

“Are you going to pick it up?”

He nodded. “I have to.”

“Oh.”

Harry looked away, accepting the call and answering in a dull voice. “Hello, father?”

Louis diverted his gaze downwards, focusing on the vans that he was still wearing as he shuffled on his feet. He waited patiently where he stood for the call to end so he could return to his questioning. He remembered Harry’s bruises from before, when he had seen them, and now his curiosity mixed in with the need to protect was overwhelming. It was only when Harry’s voice turned to surprise, Louis looked up.

“What?” Harry spat, his eyes narrowing and his jaw clenching. “Are you fuck— father… what are you doing?... No, I’m not! What? That’s a dirty rumour. Father. Where are you? In London?”

Louis’ palm was sweaty and he took a step closer, pulling at Harry’s sweatshirt and tugging him into his chest. Harry immediately situated to the position, settling against his chest and visibly relaxing into embrace. Louis kept his arm wrapped around him, holding him up, offering any support he could offer.

“How far? Fine. Yeah. Okay. Goodbye,” Harry gritted, pulling the phone away from his ear and throwing it onto the sofa.

He returned to the embrace, holding Louis around the neck and burying his head. They both breathed heavily against each other for a few moments, neither moving nor speaking.

“W-what… what was that about, Harry?”

Harry sighed heavily. “My father is ten minutes away.”

“Wha—”

“He said he heard I was with a guy at New Year’s… you know, probably meaning you. He wanted to come and set me straight, as he says.”

Louis knitted his brows together. “What does that mean?”

“Honestly, I don’t know?” Harry chuckled humorlessly. “I’m surprised he doesn’t know I’m gay already, though he likes to assume. Considering I’ve come out to the LGBTQ society.”

“Are you going to tell him?”

He shuddered, shaking his head. “Not now, not ever.”

Louis tightened his arms around him, his heart sinking for him. “What do you think you’re dad is going to do now?”

“I don’t know,” he whispered, sounding fearful.

“I won’t leave, okay?” Louis promised. “I’ll stay here.”

“No, no,” Harry pulled away, eyes wide. “Louis, it’s probably for the best if you leave now—”

Louis reached out, grabbing his hands and holding both of them. He shook his head, keeping eye contact with him.

“Harry, I want to be here. It’ll make me feel better, okay? Is that okay? Can I stay?”

Harry sighed, looking unsure before he nodded. “Fine.”

They sat back down on the sofa, cuddling up to each other and sipping the last drop of wine from their glasses. They were both waiting impatiently for Alan’s appearance. Louis could feel how tense Harry was, how he was barely holding himself together and it caused him to feel even more anxious. He wondered what possessed to make Harry this person.

Harry was usually fearless and daring. But the mere mention of Alan made him small.

When the doorbell rang, they both jumped from the startling sound and Harry turned to him with a expression.

Louis reached out, smoothing over his shoulders.

“Babe… just go, it’s only your father. You’re fine.”

However, he didn’t move from the sofa and he didn’t break eye contact, either. Louis sighed, placing a soft, lingering kiss on Harry’s shoulders before he walked towards the front door himself.

He opened it to reveal Alan.

Alan was intimidating, Louis could make out so much from first glance. He was tall, slim but with broad shoulders and big biceps. He looked nothing like Harry, though. He had brown eyes, a strong facial structure with a jawline, brows raised high on his face. He looked judgemental, glancing around the apartment. His eyes settled on Louis, snarling.

“And who may you be, please?”

Louis cleared his throat. He had never been afraid of older, richer men and he was not starting now.

“I’m Louis Tomlinson, sir.”

Alan’s eyes narrowed. “The lad Harry spent Christmas with?”

“That would be correct.”

“Hmm.” Alan’s eyes skirted over Louis, observing every single pair of clothing on his body before his nose scrunched up. “Obviously, Harry would choose such company.”

“Um—excuse—”

Before Louis could finish, Harry had moved from his space and was standing behind him at the door. His face was anything but friendly, his features distressed as he narrowed his eyes at his father.

“Don’t say anything about Louis, father.” He warned.

“Oh, please, Harry,” Alan sounded tired, pushing past both of the boys at the front and entering, throwing his umbrella to the side. “Spare me the loyalty act. I don’t fucking care about your friend.”

“Funny—aren’t you going to ask about his class status, his school status - whether he’s got scholarship or is a full paying student—”

“Enough!” Alan bellowed, turning to face his son with a distasteful expression.

Louis stood between the two of them, torn. His heart was soaring out of his chest, he felt anxious all over. He had no idea what was going on but it didn’t seem to be pleasant, whatever it was.

He didn’t want to come between Harry and his father. He knew it wasn’t his place to interrupt. But, it was clear everything was about to go south if nothing was done to ease the tension present between the two figures.

“What do you want, dad?” Harry asked, sounding fed up and tired as he walked closer to his father standing in the kitchen. He was observing the surroundings like he had never visited the apartment before. “I’m tired, hungover and quite frankly, I’m spending time with my friend. Do you mind? Is there anything you need?”

Alan turned to him, eyes narrowed. “I won’t let you talk to me like that.”

“What’re you going to do?” Harry challenged, brow raised in the question.

Alan’s expression turned sour, something offended and ugly. He stormed towards Harry, successfully cutting any distance between them.

“I’d watch your tongue if I was you.”

“Gonna do something right now, right here?”

“Don’t test me.”

“I wouldn’t dare, father.”

Alan shook his head in disappointment, taking a step back. “Young, naive Harry. So like you, to change your behaviour around your friends.”

“No, dad. It’s so like you to assume I change around my friends when it’s actually because of you.”

“I’m not going to stand for this,” Alan was rambling now, sorrow and fury etched in his features. “Tell your friend to leave right now.”

“Louis won’t—”

Now!”

Louis stopped breathing, standing still in his space. He decided to listen, not wanting to anger Alan any further as he knew it’d lead to something he didn’t want to see. He began to move towards the sofa, grabbing his hoodie and shrugging it on. Harry followed, his eyes swimming with emotions.

“You don’t have to go,” he whispered. “Don’t let him intimidate you.”

“I think you and your father need a chat,” Louis said to him, his voice hushed as he refrained from making eye contact with him. “I think you both need a moment alone.”

The thought of leaving Harry alone with Alan made Louis’ stomach twist but he was overthinking. It was his father. He couldn’t do anything that would hurt Harry. He walked to the front door, opening it up and slipping out without a second glance backwards.

**
The Neighbourhood - Daddy Issues

‘I need you’

Louis opened the text message up, rereading every letter of Harry’s message. He frowned, typing the response.

‘Im right here, what’s up?’

‘No. Need you at mine’

‘I’m in a lecture, Harry. What’s going on? U okay?’

‘Please. Need you inside me.’

“Fuck,” Louis hissed to himself, ignoring the few students turning their head to look at him.

‘You’re killing me.’

‘I want you to take me. Anyway you want. Please.’

‘I’m coming’

Louis thanked the Gods that Guildhall was only five minutes away from Harry’s place. He packed his bag, throwing his notepad in without a second glance and got up, slipping out of the lecture hall. He tapped out of the barriers, walking out of the building and started swiftly walking towards Harry’s apartment.

He reached the building easily enough, tapping the four number code he had memorised and entering the block. He took the elevator up, tapping his foot impatiently as he glanced at himself in the mirror. He looked disheveled, having woken up later and barely slipping into his lecture.

Louis and Harry hadn’t spoken since the unfortunate visit of Alan. Harry had requested some space, claiming he was a little upset after his father’s visit and was going to take a few days off. As much as Louis wanted to go up to him, to hug him and apologise for Alan’s behaviour, he respected Harry’s decisions far more. He respected his wishes and stayed away. They’d text occasionally, even slipped a phone call in the past two days. But for the most part, it was radio silence.

Harry opened the door when Louis knocked. They stood before each other, staring. Louis took in his beautiful sight, his hair, his figure that looked dreamy in the clothes he was wearing. A second passed. Then, Harry dragged him inside by the collar of his shirt, slamming him against the door and shutting it from the force of Louis’ body.

“Fuck.” Louis muttered, his voice shaky.

Harry was eager. He was rutting against Louis’ thighs, something desperate in his eyes. He was holding eye contact with Louis as he slammed their lips together. They made smacking noises as they noisily snogged each other. Every time Louis tried to respond with a hip roll, Harry would throw his head back and make release an exaggerated, punctuated moan.

“Baby,” Louis’ voice was soft as he used his thumb to slowly roll circles in Harry’s waist. “Let’s go to the bedroom, yeah?”

Harry nodded, grabbing his hand and descending down the hallway. Harry got onto the bed and looked up to him.

“Fuck me.”

“Jesus. A bit straight-forward today, aren’t you?” Louis chuckled, taking his shirt off and letting his hand settle on his lower stomach, feeling the skin. “Why don’t you get undressed, hm?”

Harry looked uncertain as he fiddled with the hem of his shirt, a look of apprehension clear in his eyes. Louis frowned, cutting the distance between them and climbing onto the bed. He settled between Harry’s legs, one hand on his thigh and the other holding the shirt.

“Okay?” Louis made sure to ask, pulling the shirt up.

Harry, however, pulled it down and shook his head. “I want my shirt on.”

“Um…” Louis frowned, sitting back. “I.. I don’t mind but it sorta disrupts—I mean, we’ve never done it with shirts before?”

“I know.”

“That’s okay… I guess,” he tried to sound convincing. “If that’s what you want.”

“It is.”

“Cool.”

He crowded up in Harry’s space again, touching the skin he could reveal to himself and lowering himself to place a soft kiss on Harry’s cheeks. When he pulled away and started working on the zipper of Harry’s jeans, he noticed the boy tensed up again. This time, he completely withdrew himself.

“Harry. What’s going on?” He asked, gently with a firm tone he could manage.

Harry started shaking his head, hot tears brimming his eyes as he backed himself against the wall.

“Harry..” Louis could feel his furious heartbeat hammering against his chest, his eyes afraid to blink in case he missed something. He edged forward tentatively, noticing how the boy started shaking his head. “Harry.. Are you okay? You’re scaring me, darling. You’re really… Can I?”

“I… I thought—no, no, no.”

Louis was unsure about what was going on. He hardly ever saw Harry as anything but composed, collected. Right now, he felt out of his element and the thought alone was causing his chest to ache. His hands shook with the need to reach out, to comfort.

“Harry, you need to talk to me,” he tried again.

“Lift my shirt, Louis.” He said instead, determined.

Louis shook his head. “No, I’m not doing that. You’ve made it clear that you feel uncomfortable with—”

“Lift it.”

He contemplated the offer. He wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad idea but he had to listen to Harry. He shuffled forward so he was situated between Harry’s legs again, pulling at the hem of his shirt. He made eye contact with Harry.

“Shall I?”

“Mhm.”

“Okay.” Louis slowly pulled it up to reveal more skin.

Louis’ blood, however, turned cold and dread slammed into him when he noticed what he was supposed to be looking for.

There were bruises all over Harry’s stomach. They were along his hip bones, above his navel, around his ribs and chest. They seemed fairly new. They were still an angry red colour, bits of purple blossoming between them. It looked painful and raw, untended for. Louis felt bile growing in his throat as he sat there, shocked and unmoving.

Harry’s eyes were uncertain, holding direct gaze with him.

Louis didn’t know what to do.

After a moment of radio silence, he reached out to touch what skin he could reach. His fingers grazed over one of the bruises, the one that was the largest and looked the most painful, slowly feeling over the slightly raised and swollen area. He felt his heart shatter as he continued to soothe over the bruise.

“Who is doing this to you?” Louis asked, voice so gentle he was afraid he’d burst into tears. “Harry, who.”

Harry didn’t respond.

He got up from the bed, wandering to Harry’s bedside table and picked up the Nivea cream. When he settled back in his space, he unscrewed the top and fingered a dollop of the cold scream. Slowly, he applied it over the surface area of the bruise. Harry hissed between his teeth, settling down on the pillows as his hands came to settle on Louis’ waist.

“Tell me,” Louis pleaded, rubbing the cream into the red marks softly. He spread it all over his chest, reaching every single mark.

Harry looked at him with a saddened, disappointed expression. “You won’t hate me?”

“Of course not, baby.”

“Um.. it’s—I.”

He watched Harry stammer over his words, frowning but not discouraging him from talking. His mind filtered back to the first time he had seen bruises on Harry, when his entire face had been disheveled, and how he had chosen to ignore it. He remembered the night of the New Year’s party, the faint sign of something that he ignored. Two days ago, the mark on his collarbone that he had wrongly assumed as a hickey.

“Go on…”

“My father?” Harry finally said, biting his lips as the first tear rolled down his cheeks.

Louis embraced him instantly. The two words taking a toll on him as he rolled Harry over on the bed so he was on top, Louis underneath, wrapped his arms around him. He held him close, letting
Harry release broken, hiccuped sobs into Louis’ shirt. His heart ached with the need to know more, to protect. He couldn’t believe he tried to be civil with Alan only two days ago when he had been hurting Harry like this. For God knows how long.

He allowed Harry to cry for a while, not needing to implore or ask.

Harry had finally let all his guard down. He had finally opened up about his darkest, deepest secrets that people go to the end of the Earth to protect. He gave everything to Louis. That alone was enough to make Louis feel fiercely protective of him. He was never going to let this boy slip away from him. Harry had made his way into his life and had left a permanent imprint. There was no going back now.

Louis guided him through his sobs, rubbing his back in a comforting manner and whispering soothing words into the shell of his ear. Though, he had no idea what was truly going on, he controlled the pace.

Finally, Harry pulled away from the embrace, still laying on top of him.

His eyes were red, lavender rings underneath, making him look older than he actually was.

“My father did this… does this.”

“How long, love?” Louis was afraid of the question, not wanting to know the answer but knowing he had to ask.
He shrugged. “All my life.”

“What—”

“Especially since I denied his requests to get involved with his business.”

“Harry…”

But, the boy shook his head and held a finger over Louis’ lips. “If you stop me, I’m never going to get this out of me and I’ve never told anyone before. Can you do that for me, Lou? Can you listen to me all the way through without talking.”

“I.. okay… yeah, okay.”

He sighed, relieved. “Alan has always had a temper,” he said, his voice skirting of uncertainty but pushing through. “Always expected something, always wanted something. Um.. I.. I’ve always been used to the abuse,” Louis nearly asked what abuse but refrained himself, clamping his mouth shut and waiting. “Everything was handed to me on a silver platter, like you’ve always said, yes. That’s true. But I also had… um, expectations? I had to adhere to them, I had to be the best, only the best. If that wasn’t met, I…” He shut his eyes. “Sorry, this is harder than I expected.”

Louis rested his hands on Harry’s biceps, squeezing and whispering. “Go on.”

“Right..” he blew out air with his lips. “So. If I messed up as a child, it was a slap here or there. Nothing big. Just a little sign to let me know my place. I’ve always grown up fearing him, Alan was my worst nightmare and I did everything possible to avoid him. If… I… I don’t know, I don’t even remember most of the abuse anymore?” He tapped his forehead. “It’s like I forced myself to forget since it’s been so long. I forced myself to move on. That’s why, I decided to come to Guildhall. Because… It was an opportunity away from Surrey.”

“Hmm..” Louis guided on.

“I wanted to attend Guildhall. My parents had already refused my dreams for Music, claiming it wasn’t what I could do in life. I decided to do the second best—theatre. My mum was on board but not Alan. He wanted me to get involved with the Styles’ hotel business, somewhere in Thailand for a new project he was doing there.” He paused, his lips curling downwards. “Louis, he wanted me to lead a life I didn’t want. He wanted me to travel, go to the different hotels around the world, manage them. He wanted me on the family business. He didn’t want me to do a degree, to go into higher education. He just… he wanted me to follow his footstep and I’m not that person. I will never be that person.”

“What happened, then?” Louis couldn’t help but ask.

“I got beaten. Every single time.”

“Where?”

“Everywhere.”

“I…”

“The first time I told my dad I was attending Guildhall, not his family business, he beat me so bad I had to go to the hospital. The second time, I was disobedient and my face was so messed up for days. I nearly missed my A-Level exams.”

“Babe..” Louis’ eyes were wide, holding his biceps tighter. “What did Anne do?”

“She doesn’t know.”

“Harry..”

“I’m not telling her, either.”

Louis decided not to enforce his thoughts just yet. Harry had just opened up to him about the most intimate, difficult part of his life. He couldn’t stand arguing about Anne’s oblivious stance in the situation.

“Does it happen every time you see Alan?”

“Nearly every time, yeah.”

“Is that why—New Year’s..” He came to an ugly realisation, shutting his eyes. “You stayed home for an entire week.”

Harry nodded, biting his lips. “I try… I tried as hard as possible to stay away.”

“He beats you every time you meet just ‘case you didn’t get involved in the business?”

“Mmhm. Or, if I’m disobedient, if I’m not following his rules. Anything. Any reason. Sometimes, no reason.”

Louis’ veins turned cold, fury swarming his organs and invading each thought. He could feel himself shaking with the anger that was slowly, but surely, taking over. Why would anyone in their sane mind want to hurt Harry? He had done nothing wrong. He was just trying to live his life, adapt to his surroundings. Harry was nothing but a wonderful, amazing, inspirational, breathtaking human being.

All of Louis’ emotions hit him at once, tears releasing from his eyes as he sobbed into his spare fist.

Harry’s eyes softened. “Baby…”

“Who.. why?” Louis shook his head, shutting his eyes. “Sorry, I don’t mean to make this about myself but fuck.”

Harry shook his head. “Don’t apologise.”

“I’m so angry, Harry. How could Alan do this to you? Who would do this? He’s… he’s a fucking psychopath—”

“Shh, Lou. You’re getting worked—”

“I’ll kill him!” Louis declared a second later, shaking his head fervently. “I will. For what he’s done, for the suffering he’s caused on you. You were only a child, for Godsakes.”

Harry shook his head. “No, you won’t. C’mon, calm down,” he requested, burying his head into Louis’ neck. They embraced again. “Calm down, Louis. It is what it is.”

“Don’t say that, Harry.”

“It is, though.”

No. This is not okay, no part of this is okay. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it is, either. It’s fucked, from every angle.” Louis spoke into Harry’s chest, still shaking. “You can’t just settle for this abuse, Harry.”

“I’ve stood up to him, Lou.”

“I don’t doubt that,” he remembered two days ago, the way Harry responded to his father with fire, “but look where that’s gotten you?”

Harry shuddered. “I’m afraid of him.”

“I don’t blame you, darling.”

“I’m still scared.”

“I’m here, now,” Louis growled, hugging him so tight he was afraid if he was hurting Harry. “I’m here. I’m never going to let Alan lay a hand on you. I’m going to be around every time he is. I’ll come back to fucking Surrey with you, I don’t fucking care. But he is never touching you, ever again.”

Chapter Text

 

DNCE - Cake By The Ocean
**

“Babe.”

“Mhmm?”

“Roll over, you’re crushing me,” Harry chuckled.

Louis groaned, yawning as he stretched his arms and opened his eyes slowly. The sunlight filtered through the window, blinding him as he cursed under his breath. He rolled off Harry, smiling.

“Sorry.”

“No problem. I liked it.”

“How did you sleep?” Louis asked, pecking Harry’s cheek before snuggling into his chest.

For the past fifteen hours or so, the two of them had been inseparable. Since Harry confessed about his father, they hadn’t moved from their bed, refusing to leave each other’s warmth. Niall had
come into the room with a knowing smile, given them both a plate for dinner that they ate together with the laptop playing Netflix. After they had finished their chicken and broccoli with soy sauce, they returned to each other’s embrace and finished off the movie they had been watching. All in all, the past fifteen hours had been bliss.

“Perfect. You?”

“Great, actually,” he smiled, his eyes going to gaze out of the balcony. “Wanna have breakfast out there today? It doesn’t seem that cold.”

Harry sighed, nodding. “Can we just go back to sleep for a minute?”

“And miss rehearsals?” He laughed but wrapping his arm around Harry, pulling him closer and exhaling heavily. He loved this feeling. “Tut, tut. Patrick won’t be too pleased about that.”

“Patrick can fuck himself. I wanna stay here, with you, in this bed forever.”

“Naughty.”

Harry snorted, burying his head in Louis’ chest and inhaling. “You smell so nice, like…” he sniffed, his nose moving over the smooth skin. “Cinnamon but also sweet. Beautiful. Like cinnamon
cake.”

Louis scrunched up his nose, letting out a laugh. “I need to get in the shower, stat.”

“Let me come in with you, stat.”

“You’re ridiculous,” he pushed at Harry’s head so their eyes met, his body tingling with a pleasant feeling as he kissed the tip of Harry’s nose. “If you come into the shower, you’ll distract me.”

“We got nowhere to be. Why not?”

“I do. I have rehearsals, unlike you.”

“Skip them, Lou,” Harry groaned, pleading. “I don’t want to go. I hate Patrick sometimes, he’s so overbearing—like he’s my parent.”

“He just wants you to do the best.”

“Well, he needs to bug off.”

“Harry!” Louis laughed, cuddling him tightly. “Fine, we’ll skip today only. I’m not allowing any more day offs in the final year. Come on, let’s go back to sleep.”

“Yessir.” Harry smiled contentedly, getting comfortable in the embrace and closing his eyes.

Louis took a minute to admire the boy beneath him. He was still fully dressed, embarrassed with the bruises that adorned his body. He sighed, feeling his heart expand with the admiration he
held for this boy. He couldn’t quite get over it.

He smiled. If this moment could last forever, just holding Harry in the morning light and being granted to sleep longer with his boy—he’d die a happy man.

Louis snuggled to Harry, letting his eyes shut and tiredness overtake him.

**

When Louis woke up again, he was still smothered up in Harry’s side. He couldn’t stop the grin that overtook his features, scrunching up his nose in fond as he noticed the boy was also awake. Harry’s eyes were open, watching him.

“How long have you been awake?” He mumbled, closing one eye and sighing.

“Would it be creepy if I said a while?”

“Yes, if you’ve been staring at me.”

“I have, indeed.”

Louis smiled so wide it hurt. “What have you been looking at?”

“Hmm…” Harry pretended to wonder, his eyes gazing up in a contemplative manner. He, then, looked down and returned the smile. “Your nose,” he booped it, “your freckles,” he traced the faint
speckles around Louis’ nose, “your eyebrows, your lips,” Harry’s fingers traced his bottom lip, tugging at it. “Your eyes… how relaxed you are when you sleep. How beautiful the colour is when you’re awake.”

“You sap.” Louis whispered though his heart was hammering against his chest, threatening to burst out. “You absolute sap.”

“You haven’t even seen the beginning of it.”

He rolled his eyes, smacking Harry’s ass gently. “C’mon, I’m craving waffles and strawberries on your balcony.”

“Your wish is my command.”

They took a shower together. Louis grabbed the shampoo, washing Harry’s hair. He lathered the soap in his hair, pulling at the roots gently as he reached every strand. He gave Harry a massage, his fingers rubbing in circles around his scalp, marveling at the way Harry let out a breathy exhale.

“Feels so good, Lou,” he muttered.

Louis hummed. “I bet,” he smiled, his fingers dragging through the hair and out. “Rinse it out, babe.”

Whilst Harry washed the shampoo out, Louis grabbed the showel gel and scrubbed his own body, reaching every inch and under his armpits. When Harry was done, Louis took his turn under the spray of warm water. He closed his eyes, the water pressure feeling good as he sighed.

“Lemme do your body, too,” Louis requested, reaching for the same gel and pouring a generous amount on the palm of his hand.

Harry nodded, taking a step closer to him as Louis started to rub the gel into his body. He started slow, from the shoulders, rubbing circles into Harry as he went. He rubbed deep circles into the top of his shoulders, down his back and sighed at how tense the muscles were. He continued all over Harry’s body. He was extra tender around Harry’s bruises, careful not to press down too hard and to hurt him further.

When Harry stood under the spray of water and washed the soap off, Louis sank to his knees.

“Not sucking your dick,” he promised with a choked laugh when he noticed how Harry’s eyes grew. Instead, he grabbed Harry’s waist and brought him closer. He touched the bruises carefully before leaning down, softly kissing each one and taking his time to soothe over them.

“Babe..” Harry whispered, awe.

“Stand still.”

Louis gave each mark his time. He kissed them, using his fingers to touch the next. He wanted Harry to feel beautiful. He never wanted the boy to feel less than, to let the trauma he faced by his father to overshadow what a wonderful person he was. Louis wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his days convincing Harry.

When the water had turned cold, they finally convinced themselves to leave the shower. Louis changed into Harry’s clothes though he practically drowned in large material. The black shirt was too big for him, reaching his thighs and the jeans didn’t cling to his legs. Harry couldn’t stop laughing, snapping pictures of him.

“Ha, ha, ha,” Louis deadpanned, walking to the kitchen and sitting down on the island stool. “Just wait til’ you have to wear some of my clothes.”

“They’ll fit me.”

“Yeah, right. You giant.”

Harry smiled fondly, opening up the cupboard and picking out the waffle mix. “Ah, it’s not all bad. You look cute with my clothes. It’s a nice sight.”

He snorted. “Gonna masturbate to those pictures later?”

“Would it be a crime if I said yes?”

Louis guffawed, slapping his hand down on the counter. “You wouldn’t, you creep! First, you watch me sleep and now, you want to jerk off to a picture of me fully clothed. Absolutely insane.”

“I guess, you just bring out different, unexplainable emotions within me.”

“....You absolute sap.”

Harry shrugged, unashamed of the label as he poured the waffle mix into a bowl and grabbed his electric mixer. He added two eggs and two tablespoons of butter, switching on the device and spinning it in the bowl.

“What do you want with your waffles?”

“Strawberries, nutella and icing sugar. Mmmm,” Louis licked his lips.

“Coming right up!”

Harry put the mix into the grill, putting the heat on and placing the lip on top.

“What do you want for drink?”

“Cuppa, please.”

“Sure.”

Louis hummed. “It’s nice that we’re doing this, you know?” He said, conversationally. “Like, last time… when we weren’t in Doncaster, it sort of—”

“I left.” Harry supplied.

“Yeah.”

“I’m sorry about that. You already know that.”

Louis nodded, slipping out of his seat and walking up to Harry. He rested his head on the boy’s shoulders, wrapping his arms from behind.

“I know, I wasn’t trying to take a dig on you or anything. I just mean, this is lovely, isn’t it?” He sighed. “Waking up together, making breakfast. I wouldn’t have anything over this.”

“Not even mornings with Zayn?”

“Mmm. Debatable.”

Harry laughed, leaning back into his embrace. “I like it, too. It’s… it’s something I could get used to.”

“Same.”

When the waffles were ready, Harry put them on two separate plates as Louis finished off the decorations. He spread Nutella over his waffle, only pouring honey onto Harry’s and finished with a sprinkle of icing sugar and slices of strawberries. Harry took the two cups of tea, as Louis carried the plate, back into the room and through the balcony. It was chillier than the morning.

“Here,” Harry grabbed the shawl on the back of the seat, shrugging it onto Louis as they both took their seats.

The view from Harry’s balcony is a sight that he could never get tired of. London had always been a city that Louis admired. But when he arrived here, the fondness quickly died when he realised the struggles he had to face to get by. It’s only times like this—when the whole world stopped, when Harry was sitting by his side and he could watch from afar—that he felt lucky to be here. It was serene and quiet.

They ate their waffles, picking it apart with the strawberries and shoveling it into his mouth.

Louis turned to him, hesitantly skirting around the conversation.

“So.. why doesn’t Anne know?” The question was vague but they both understood.

Harry stiffened just slightly, his gaze not turning from the skyscraper of the city stretching out in front of him. He looked down at his food, pushing it around.

“Why would she know?” He countered.

“Because… she’s your mother?”

“She’s not really bothered with anything that doesn’t concern her fashion brand. I doubt she’d care if Alan was doing anything.”

“I doubt that’s true, Harry.”

“It probably is.”

“Is your relationship with Anne bad as well?”

Harry sighed, shrugging. “I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as with Alan, nowhere near. Me and my mum can actually have our good moments, y’know? Sometimes she’ll call me and it’s perfect, we get along perfectly. Other times, not so much.”

“How comes?”

“She’s overbearing, impulsive. It’s hard to get along and relate to such an intense personality.”

Louis sighed. “It must’ve been hard to come to Doncaster, be around my family.”

“At first, it was… just slightly. It was just like a pang?” Harry tried to explain, taking another bite of his waffle that had been stuck on his fork. “It was just like.. I could have this, if my mother and Alan were different. But, then. I just adapted to your family, I appreciated it for what it was. I loved it.”

He hummed. Louis didn’t understand, he could never put himself in Harry’s shoes because he simply hadn’t experienced such trauma. He was fortunate. He never realised just to what extent till recently. He finished the last of his waffle, putting it on the table besides them before getting up and walking to Harry’s chair.

Harry immediately accommodated him, shuffling up so there was space. Louis between his thighs, backing himself against Harry’s chest so they were successfully cuddling.

“So clingy, aren’t you,” Harry said, his voice tinged with amusement and no hint of judgement as he dragged Louis closer to his body. “I love it. Love holding you, feeling you,” he dropped a kiss on his shoulders.

Louis sighed, his head resting back on top of the boy. “You may be the only person I’m clingy with, if I’m being honest.”

“Then never change it. Only me.”

He laughed, taking a deep breath. “Only you.”

**

Recently, Harry’s apartment had become a safe haven for Louis.

He hardly left. After his lessons, he’d go over to the apartment. When he was bored, he found himself knocking on the same door. He slept here, ate here, hung out here until he wasn’t sure when the last time was that he had hung out in his own apartment. He missed Zayn but his best friend was busy with Liam and he was busy with Harry.

So, it was a surprise when he headed home after his lectures to his own apartment. It was a bigger surprise to find Zayn crying on the sofa, curled up underneath a blanket with his head buried. The only evidence was the broken, loud sobs that filtered the entire apartment. Louis dropped his bag on the floor, moving towards him instantly.

The crumbled figure only cried louder at the presence of Louis, shaking his head.

“No, no. I’m pathetic, no—”

Louis had the urge to swat him to stop his ramblings but he refused to. He clenched his fists, trying to move the blanket off his face so he could begin to comfort Zayn in any way he could. He faintly blamed himself for staying away for so long. If he was here sooner, he could’ve prevented this.

It physically hurt to see Zayn like this. He had never seen the boy anything other than composed, always calm. Even when the Guildhall students had a go at Zayn—calling him “Paki”, calling him poor, dirty—he would simply laugh in reply. He never let anything truly get under his skin.

“Zayn,” he said, his voice dangerously close to cracking when he wouldn’t budge. “Please, sweetheart. I need to see your face.”

“No.”

“I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on.”

“I’m disgusting. I’m pathetic—”

“Shall I call Liam?” Louis asked, at wits end, unsure what to do with this situation. He had never seen Zayn so vulnerable, so exposed. The boy held himself together so carefully, never displaying an emotion that wasn’t supposed to be there. “He might know what to do..”

“No!” Zayn cried, lifting his head up. There were dark eyebags, his eyes red rimmed and tears flowing freely. He shook his head, grasping onto Louis’ forearm desperately. “No, no, no, no.”

“Zayn… you’re scaring me. Jaan. What do I do?”

“You can’t call Liam.”

“I won’t,” he promised. “I won’t if you don’t want me to.”

Zayn’s chin trembled, eyes shutting. “Me and him had a fight. A big one. He stormed out, he hasn’t come back in two days.”

“Babe…”

“I tried to call him, he told me to leave him alone and I don’t know what to do because it was such a petty, stupid argument. Louis, I don’t..” Zayn was rambling, the words falling from his mouth without censor as the moisture continued to collect in his eyes. “It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t.”

Louis felt anger surge through his veins. “What did Liam do?” He demanded to know, already ready to call him and curse him out on the phone for hurting his best friend. He let Zayn grip him harder. “Tell me.”

“We argued because I made a comment about one of his friend, it was a joke but he took it seriously. He said I was jealous. He said he dealt with you, why couldn’t I deal with his friends? It got out of hand, we were just spewing hurtful words at each other for no reason. I started blaming him for… you know, not having time and he got defensive,” Zayn chuckled humorlessly, wiping under his eyes. “He was screaming that it wasn’t his fault he’s doing Law, and—” Zayn made quote marks with his fingers in the air as he spoke. “—’not something stupid and easy like theatre and art’.”

If Louis was feeling angry before, he was enraged now.

Before Zayn could get another word out, he jumped up from the sofa and grabbed his phone from his pocket. He had no conversation planned, no words planned. He only knew he was protecting Zayn for the argument that had happened. The same argument he should’ve been around for.

He dialled Liam’s number, much to Zayn’s protest, and was only met with voicemail. Twice. Liam was avoiding him, too.

Gritting his teeth, he dialled Harry’s number.

“Hello, boo,” Harry said, his voice sweet like honey and smooth, composed as always.

Usually, Louis would melt at the simple word and coo back a pet name. But not now, not when he was feeling fury and he was red in the face. He clutched his phone harder.

“Where’s Liam?” He cut to the chase.

There was a lingering pause. “Right here, why?”

“You tell him, that son of a bitch, to drag his ass down here right now.”

Zayn muttered a pained. “Looooou.”

Harry, however, wasn’t having any of it and when he replied, there was a hard edge to his voice, defensive for his best friend.

“Excuse me?” He retorted, surprise dripping from his tone. “What is going on, Louis? Why… you sound angry. Tell me.”

“Why don’t you ask Liam?”

“I’d rather ask you since we’re talking now, aren’t we?”

“Liam argued with Zayn and then left, without a word or trace, for the past two days. Tell him to man up and come fix this before I punch him in the face for saying that Theatre and Art is stupid and easy.”

Harry sounded shocked when he spoke next. “He said what?”

“Exactly.”

“Liam couldn’t possibly say that…”

“Well, your golden best friend did.”

Harry sighed. “Louis, he’s your friend too. I don’t think we should be talking about this with this tone.”

“Zayn is my first priority,” he reminded him. “Always. So, when he’s hurt—I’m going to be this guy and I’m going to talk in this tone. Yeah, I am.”

“Look. Me and Liam will come over now. Don’t worry, we’ll sort it. Just please, calm the fuck down.”

And then, Harry hung up.

Louis pulled the phone away, staring at the blank screen in shock at the fact he really got hung up on. He muttered curses under his breath, pushing his phone into his pocket and returning his gaze to Zayn.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“Why the hell not, hm?” Louis rolled his eyes, pushing Zayn so he could sit down on the sofa too and attempt to hold him.

“Because, you were talking to Harry and now you just argued because of me.”

“It wasn’t an argument… was it?” Louis whispered, his eyes narrowing as he replayed the conversation in his mind a few times. He was quite rude, jumped to some conclusions and released his anger on somebody who had nothing to do with the situation. He sighed heavily, running a hand through his disheveled hair. “Fuck.”

Zayn shook his head, pulling him closer. “Apologise when he comes over, yeah? It’s not his fault, he wasn’t even aware.”

“He should be.”

“But he wasn’t and neither were you. Okay? I don’t need you to be my dad, jaan. I don’t need you to fight my fights.”

“You look calmer now.”

Zayn shrugged, his face softening further. “I’m okay now, knowing that Liam is coming and we can sort it. It’s also nice to see my best friend defend my honour like that.”

“Always,” he promised, placing his head down on Zayn’s chest.

**

When the doorbell rang thirty minutes later, Louis retrieved it.

He gave Harry a soft, apologetic smile, immediately tugging on his hand and bringing the boy flush to his side. He’d whisper and kiss apologises into his skin later. For now, he refocused his gaze on Liam and scrutinised him under his heavy eyes. Liam visibly squirmed. Good.

“Listen here, Liam,” Louis spoke, his voice unusually even despite the turmoil he was feeling towards him. He felt Harry’s hand tighten around his, maybe in warning. He wasn’t sure. “I like you, you’ve become one of my friends and you’ve wormed your way into my life, into the part I keep hidden from most people. You know a lot about me. I appreciate you. A part of me genuinely likes you being here. But—” he narrowed his eyes, a dangerous hint entering his voice. “Zayn is my best friend and if you ever hurt him, I will quite literally hurt hundred times worse.”

Besides him, Harry stifled a laugh of surprise but Liam looked serious and afraid.

He swallowed thickly. “Okay.”

“I trust you, though,” Louis continued, trying to ease the tension. “I know you’re good for Zayn and vice versa, I always have adored the dynamics between you two. But, I mean it. Don’t hurt him. I returned home with his crying like a—”

Zayn cleared his throat, waving his hand from the sofa. “‘M right here, Lou.”

“Right,” he laughed, rolling his eyes. “Make this right, Liam. Whilst I make it right with Harry.”

They allowed Liam and Zayn to have the living room to talk. He knew they were going to need some space and some silence. He dragged Harry into his bedroom, shutting the door lightly and crowding Harry against the wall. There was barely any space between them, their chests flush and their hands twined.

Louis sighed, ducking down and pressing two hard firm kisses on his lips.

“I’m sorry, babe,” he whispered. He moved his lips around Harry’s face, over his nose, brows, forehead, cheeks. With each peck, he spoke. “I never wanted to lose my temper, not at you. You did nothing wrong. I’m so terribly sorry, my dear. Really. Forgive me.”

Harry was looking at him sincerely, emotions swimming in his eyes as he squeezed their hands.

“It was shitty, yeah. But you were angry—”

“No, Harry. Don’t excuse my behaviour. Don’t make me think it’s okay… it’s not, okay? I did something shitty, I was angry and that’s not an excuse. I’ll never talk to you in that tone again.”

“Not even in bed?” Harry pouted.

“Harry!” He laughed, swatting his shoulders lightly. “Don’t make light of the situation.”

“I am because it’s not a big deal, Louis. I can excuse you. You’re forgiven, it’s okay—all of that sappy shit.”

“I don’t want to be that person who hurts you, Harry.”

Harry looked up to him with surprised, wide green eyes.

“I think, it’s going to be inevitable at this point.”

**
The Score - Oh My Love

Harry decided to stay over.

“Let’s bake carrot cake?” He suggested, already pulling out a bowl from Louis’ cupboard and edging for the butter in the fridge, placing it on the counter. “I’m craving and since I met you, I’ve been wanting it all the time.”

Louis smiled fondly, leaning against the fridge.

Liam and Zayn had made up and then swiftly left the apartment, wanting to go out for lunch and then going back to Liam’s apartment. It gave the two of them the entire place to themselves. Louis didn’t mind where he was, what he was doing, as long as Harry was present in the moment with him.

“Let’s do it.”

“I’m surprised you have cinnamon and nutmeg,” Harry grinned, pulling out the ingredients from the kitchen effortlessly like he knew the place at the back of his hand.

Considering how much time they spent together, it wasn’t a surprise if Harry had learnt where everything was put around the apartment.

“Let me do the sugar and butter, please,” Louis requested, weighing out the ingredients as per the recipe and then putting them into a bowl. “I’m sorry, I don’t have an electric mixer. I’m not a baker like you.”

He shook his head. “It’s beyond me how you do everything by hand.”

“It’s beyond me that you suggest I do anything in this kitchen,” he chuckled, grabbing a wooden spoon and starting to mix the ingredients together. For the most part, the butter was still a little hard and it was difficult to incorporate the ingredients together but he kept going until it was light and creamy. His arms ached by the end.

“Here.” Harry handed over the oil and eggs mixed together in a small bowl.

Louis took it off him, adding it in and continuing to stir with his wooden spoon. Harry added in the grated carrots next. Louis increased his speed, ensuring all the ingredients were fully mixed together before Harry brought over the weighed and sifted flour.

“My turn,” he lightly pushed Louis out of the way, winking as he took over the reigns. He was practiced and skilled and easily took over the process. He added in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the mix of spices, his hand turning the wooden spoon without a trace of effort.

Louis could picture this moment and replay it in his mind forever. He loved seeing Harry in his element, doing what he liked—baking.

“Do you have cake tins?”

“Um, yeah,” Louis scrunched his nose, opening a cupboard and pulling out two tins. “Zayn only brought these recently, actually.”

“Cool. Good.”

Harry sprayed the tins with oil, smothered the sides and the bottom with butter before he grabbed the bowl.

“Wanna pour the mixture in?”

“Sure, curly.”

Louis stepped forward, lightly taking the bowl off him before distributing the batter evenly between the two tins. He smoothed it out with the wooden spoon, ensuring the runny mixture had reached the sides of the tin and were relatively even. Harry took it over the oven, putting them in and turning up the heat.

“I think baking carrot cake together is, like, our tradition,” Harry looked pleased, his dimples present on his face as he took the dirty dishes to the sink.

“Look at us,” he shuddered, washing his hands. “An old, middle-aged, married couple that have traditions.”

“I think it’s cute.”

“Of course you do.”

“Come on, let it bake,” Harry reached out for his hand, taking it into his own and leading them back to the living room. They settled on the sofa together.

For the forty minutes the cake required in the oven, they practiced their lines together. They had been neglecting the play recently, frequently missing their rehearsals together to opt for sleeping in for longer. Louis knew Patrick was going to drill them with questions in the next session so he had to be on top of his game. When the kissing scene came, Harry pounced on him and attacked him with kisses.

“Babe!” Louis tried to shout over the attack, giggling loudly into his kisses. “I don’t think the scene goes like this!”

“I don’t fucking care,” Harry muttered back happily, shutting him up with a firm, hard kiss.

“Silly, silly boy,” he breathed out when they pulled away, still panting from the heavy make out session. “You drive me crazy, Harry. Absolutely, truly, deeply insane.”

Harry grinned like he was proud of the fact, pecking Louis’ cheeks that made a loud smacking noise.

“I”m glad to do so.”

When they took the cakes out of the oven, they made the cream cheese icing and slathered it on top. Usually, Harry was a precise, careful baker but right now, they were being messy and they both didn’t care.

Louis grabbed a dollop of icing on his fingers, smearing it down Harry’s cheeks with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Harry gasped, shaking his head. “You did not!” He dipped two fingers in the bowl, grabbing his forearm to secure Louis in place before making two streaks right down his cheeks. Before Louis could even react, Harry leaned down and licked it clean.

“Ugh, gross!” Louis exclaimed, though his cheeks warmed with colour, as he pushed the boy away from him. “Keep your tongue away from me.”

“Oh, yeah? You don’t want this?” He asked, raising a delicate brow and waggling his tongue at him, making licking motions.

“That’s not turning me on.”

“Is it not?”

Louis guffawed, the loud laugh falling from his mouth as he cut the distance between them. He pulled Harry into his chest, holding him close. Harry seemed surprised by the gesture but went along with it, folding his arms around the other figure as they remained tightly embraced in the kitchen.

“Let’s eat our cake in bed, please,” Louis suggested.

“Of course.”

 

They took one generous slice with two forks, walking back to Louis’ bedroom and climbing under the covers together. They sat upright, indian style with their legs tangled in the sheets, facing each other. Harry fed Louis little bites of the cake, bringing the fork up to his mouth as he licked it all off.

One Direction - What A Feeling

“You know,” Louis said, swirling the fork in the air as he took a bite out of it, moaning around how delicious the cake tasted. The spices were strong, coming right through and with the sweet icing, it made the perfect combination. “I’ve never heard you sing.”

Harry looked up to him with furrowed, confused brows but his expression only curious, imploring.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… you’re a musician and yet, I’ve never heard you sing.”

“I’m not a musician—”

“You are,” Louis stressed, firmly as he brought his fork to Harry’s mouth who instantly accepted the bite. “Just ‘cause you don’t do it for a career, it doesn’t make you any less of a musician. You sing, sometimes, and write songs.”

“I wrote a song yesterday, actually.”

“Oh?” He raised his brow. “What is it?”

“I called it, What A Feeling.”

Louis smiled. “Ahhhh. And how do the lyrics go?”

Harry cleared his throat, shrugging. “Something about how good someone can feel, to be with them in that moment.”

He wanted to ask Harry to sing for him, to hear the lyrics in person so he could marvel over his voice. He knew Harry was good. He didn’t doubt it. Harry was good at everything he did, everything he attempted. He was perfect all round. But, he didn’t want to push the boy into something he felt uncomfortable with or something he didn’t want to do.

Harry was observing his face carefully. “You want me to sing it, don’t you?”

Louis smiled, biting his lips as he diverted his gaze down to the cake. “Would be such a crime if I did?”

“Not at all.”

“I’ve been wondering about how your voice sounds,” he said honestly, grinning as he traced patterns on Harry’s denim material. “Whether it sounds as velvety as when you talk.”

“You call me the sap?”

He swatted Harry’s thighs, laughing. “Hey!”

“You have too much faith in me.”

“Because I believe in you.”

Harry’s features softened, his eyes growing with moisture at the fond words as he leaned forward and connected their lips together. It was a tender, short kiss before he pulled away and cleared his throat.

Louis’ heart jumped out of his chest. He felt the nerves growing, his palms growing sweaty as he reached over and clutched onto Harry’s hand. This moment was huge. He was about to hear Harry sing for the first time, the voice he was going to treasure and appreciate.

Harry closed his eyes, his voice softly drifting through the air.

“What a feeling to be right here beside you now, holding you in my arms, when the air ran out and we both started running wild, the sky fell down, but you've got stars, they're in your eyes. And I've got something missing tonight. What a feeling to be a king beside you, somehow,
I wish I could be there now.”

Harry’s voice was deep. There was a raspy undertone, probably due to lack of sleep from the night before, but it was still strong. He had a talent, it was abundantly clear. He sang with the utmost passion, his voice ringing clear and demanding attention as he screwed his eyes shut and continued to let the words leave his mouth. He could hit all the right notes in his singing, every word causing his grasp on Louis’ hand tighten.

Louis was staring in awe, his eyes blinking back tears that threatened to slip out as he listened intently. He hung onto every word.

Harry continued, his voice continuing to sing with the same appealing sound.

“Whatever chains are holding you back, holding you back, don't let 'em tie you down. Whatever chains are holding you back, holding you back, tell me you believe in that.”

Louis whispered out. “Babe…” before he could stop himself, causing Harry’s eyes to fly open, his voice growing in volume.

“What a feeling to be right here beside you now, holding you in my arms. When the air ran out and we both started running wild, the sky fell down. But you've got stars, they're in your eyes
And I've got something missing tonight. What a feeling to be a king beside you, somehow
I wish I could be there now.”

When Harry was done singing, he closed his eyes again and exhaled sharply like he had been waiting to do that for a while and was anxiously awaiting Louis’ reply.

Louis sat there, amazed and unable to form coherent words. He was still clutching onto Harry’s hand tightly. He couldn’t help it, though. He just had the privilege to experience and hear the most
breathtaking, stunning singing voice he had ever heard before. Finally, he let a tear slip.

Harry must’ve heard the sniffles because he opened his eyes up again.

“T-that was… so, so beautiful, Harry,” he managed to choke out, barely holding himself together.

Harry’s smile began to grow, sprawled across his lips, content. “Really?”

“Oh, God. Yes. Fucking hell, yes. So, so beautiful.”

“I was always told that it wasn’t—”

Fuck what you were told,” he spat out, shuffling closer so he was practically sitting on top of him. He removed the plate between them, putting it down on the covers and grabbing ahold both of Harry’s hand. “That was,” he paused, bringing the hands to his mouth and pecking his muscles. “Beautiful. Stunning. I can’t believe I’ve lived twenty-one years of my life and never got to hear that. My ears are blessed.”

Harry choked out a laugh, tears releasing from his duct.

“Thank you, Louis.”

“I obviously knew you were good, I never doubted that but wow, you… you have talent, Harry. You have something here. You could work with it, make something of it. I promise, people will listen, any record label would—”

Harry shut him up with a firm kiss, continuing to peck his cheeks. “Let’s not, please.”

He nodded though his heart sank. “I just hope you know how good you are.”

“I believe you.”

“Good.” Louis smiled, licking his lips. “I hope you know, I’m going to make you sing to me all the time. When we’re showering, baking, in lectures—all the time. You did injustice to me by keeping that beautiful voice trapped inside you,” he tapped Harry’s Adam’s apple, watching it bop.

“Your wish is my command.”

“C’mere,” Louis said, laying down and opening up his arms. “Wanna cuddle and kiss the fuck outta you.”

Harry situated on top his chest, getting comfortable on top of him as Louis tightened his arms around him, securing him. They laid there for a few minutes, listening to each other’s heartbeats against one another.

Louis leaned down so his lips were grazing over Harry’s ears, biting at the earlobe before whispering.

“Curly, curls, curl. What have you done to me? You’ve made your way into my heart and now, there’s no getting out. Ever. You’re all mine, curls.”

Harry giggled against his neck. “I’m quite happy to be living in your heart. ‘S warm, cosy. Mmmm.”

“You fucking weirdo,” he laughed, kissing Harry’s ears and the side of his jaw. “You absolute, fucking weirdo.”

**

They were walking through the park when Louis stopped Harry, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“What?” Harry asked, pulling his brows together as they came to a stop.

It was nearly time for sunset. The wind was chilly in Holland Park. They had finished their practice for the day, receiving many compliments from Patrick, and had decided to go for dinner. Once their stomach was fulfilled, and full, they felt like hanging out for longer instead of always staying indoors. That was how they found themselves at Holland Park.

They were standing in Kyoto garden and the view was breathtaking

There were trees overshadowing the lake, pebbles and a tiny waterfall flowing through. The entire park was colourful, trees different shades and flowers of every colour under the rainbow. The Japanese garden here was one of Louis’ favourite location for his photography. Admittedly, he had been neglecting one of his hobbies. But coming back here brought back the endless opportunities he could use with his camera.

The Lumineers - Ho Hey

It was also the perfect time—it was slightly dark, the sky casted with different colours of red and orange and scattered across the sky with dark grey clouds. Louis could feel the magnificent pictures that could come from this view.

“I got something to show you.”

“Oh?.. Okay.”

Louis smiled. He was nervous. He had never shared his desire for photography with anybody before. It was one of his hobbies he kept away from everybody, locked away like his own secret. It was his safe haven and he found it satisfying to take pictures, to edit them. He hadn’t been ready to share it with anyone before.

He fiddled with his school bag, pulling out the heavy camera that had been weighing it down the entire day.

He pulled out his DSLR camera, a Nikon D7000, he had saved up for two years with the help of Johannah’s birthday and Christmas money. Ever since he received the camera, he had grown to fall in love with his photos and the quality of them. He often went out on his own around London, using his camera to snap shots around the city.

“So…” he smiled at Harry, who was staring at him with wide eyes. He took the cap off his lens, wiping it clear. “Do you remember when you asked me if I still did photography after my A Levels?”

Harry nodded. “Of course.”

“I do still do it. All the time.”

“Oh.” His gaze diverted from the camera in his hand, to Louis’ eyes. He looked awed. “That’s… wow, amazing. Are you going to do some photography now?”

“Mm. If you don’t mind?”

“Of course not.”

“Cool.”

“Why are you… I thought, like, you didn’t want anyone to know?” Harry asked, pulling his brows together. “Like, you seemed quite secretive about it?”

Louis let out a laugh when he noticed how Harry was stammering over his words. He shook his head fondly, putting the camera down and walking over to him. He pressed a hand on his shoulders, squeezing.

“Chill, babe.”

“I’m cool.”

“I want you to know,” Louis shrugged. “You shared a part of you with me, your most special part. Now, I want to share my part. I want to share what I do besides theatre.”

“I’m honoured.”

He licked his lips, smiling lazily. “I’d hope so.”

“Show me how your photography works.”

Louis got to work. He pushed his earphones in, soft music drifting through the speakers as he attempted to get into the zone. He always needed a playlist to get him into the mood. His iPhone
faintly played The Lumineers as he grabbed his camera. He started it up, aiming it towards the view of the trees. He could feel Harry’s eyes watching him intently.

Louis snapped a few pictures of the trees, the different colours, adjusting the filter on his camera so the greenery could be prominent in the pictures. He hummed as he worked, checking his photos and nodding in approval as he continued to snap the pictures. He heard another camera shutter go off.

“What are you doing?” Louis laughed, turning around to see Harry aiming his iPhone towards him.

He shrugged, taking another. “I like seeing you like this. Concentrated, working.”

“Well.. that’s me everyday, love.”

“Not like this.”

Louis shook his head, rolling his eyes as he got back to work. He snapped a few pictures of the lake, tried to get a perfect image of the ripple effects created. When the sunset finally fell upon the sky, flash of different colours across the sky, Louis took the opportunity. He found the perfect shade of red and pink, snapping it and growing increasingly excited with how good the pictures were coming out.

He hadn’t done this in a while but every time he did, it just felt natural.

When he had taken over thirty pictures in total of the gorgeous garden, he turned to Harry.

The sunset had disappeared and now, it was simply only dark with the moon clear in the sky. People had mostly gone home, leaving the park empty. The two of them stood facing each other. Harry looked mesmerised, a dazzled look in his eyes and a wide grin spread over his face.

He took two quick strides towards Louis, invading his personal space as he leaned down and kissed him hard on the lips.

Louis squeaked in surprise, his hold on his camera going slack as he dropped it to the floor gently and pulled Harry into his arms. They kissed for a few minutes, not a care in the world about closing times or the fact that they had a long list of assignments to complete when they got home. All that mattered was right here, right now—the two of them and the taste of Harry’s lips.

When Harry pulled back, his eyes were bright.

“You… you look beautiful when you’re doing that. Can I see the pictures?”

“Sure.”

Louis picked up his camera, switching it on and pressing the media option. All the pictures he had just taken came up as he handed it over to him.

Harry took his time to go through each picture with precision, observing each photo like he could analyse the effects Louis had used. He spent a minute observing each other, starry-eyed until he reached the last photo.

“You have a talent, Louis,” he started to say, his voice heavy with emotion as he handed the camera back. “I… you could sell these, y’know? You could make actual, good money. You could even start your own business.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselve—”

“Oh, my God!” Harry squealed. “We’re totally starting up a business, you could snap people and jheeze. Louis! You got so much potential here? I can’t believe this?!’

Harry’s enthusiasm made Louis giggle, covering his face with his hands from how pleased and warm he felt inside. He always felt good after sharing with Harry. He never made Louis feel like an
idiot for baring his soul.

“You have too much faith in me, darling.”

“All for good reasons.”

“I’m afraid I’ll let you down.”

Harry shook his head, tilting Louis’ head up by holding his chin. “You’ll never. But, really, for real, we need to talk about this business because—”

“Harry!” He laughed, dropping his head into Harry’s neck. “I’m not opening a goddamn business, babe.”

**

“I think I’m love with Harry.”

Louis stopped where he was walking on the high street, his eyes widening at his confession as he threw his hands in the air. Niall turned around, furrowing his brow as he curled his fingers around the Topshop bag.

“Um… I know?”

“No. No. You don’t.”

“I don’t?”

“I’m in love with Harry, Ni!”

Niall let out a loud chuckle, walking back to him and grasping his forearm as he started walking them both. “I got so much shopping to do, then we need to discuss Harry’s birthday party. I don’t have the time for you to have your realisation—”

Niall!” Louis stressed, pulling his arm off. “I’m in love with Harry!”

“I gotta get some jeans, some—”

Love.”

Niall sighed, pulling them into Blue Inc store and halting. “Are you serious, Lou? Like, are you really having a crisis right now and I should care or.. Can I continue with my shopping?”

“I’m having an actual crisis, yes.”

He rolled his eyes. “Of course. Just when I have so much to do.”

“You’re my mate, man. You gotta help me.”

Niall shrugged, moving away from him and walking down the hangers of different clothes until he reached the hoodies. He contemplated through the different designs and colours, settling on navy blue as he searched for his colour.

“There’s nothing to help you on here. You love him, we’re all aware.”

“Do I tell him?”

“If you want to, yeah? It’s up to you.”

“We’re not even dating..”

“You’re not?” Niall scrunched his features up. “I could’ve sworn—”

“I mean, like.. I haven’t asked him to be my boyfriend, yet.”

“Wow. So, you do everything a couple does but you haven’t asked yet? Seems quite logical, that.” He remarked sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

“Do you think I should do it on his birthday?” Louis asked, contemplating the idea as he swatted Niall’s shoulder. “Give me attention.”

He turned to Louis. “His birthday is in two weeks. You think you’re ready for that, the commitment? Because, I swear, if you’re not and you pull him along. God, help me, then.”

Louis glared. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“I know. I have faith in you.”

“I don’t know,” he answered truthfully, shrugging. “I feel like we’ve reached a point in our relationship that it wouldn’t.. Like, be a big deal if I did ask him to be my boyfriend. I feel like we’re dating already half the time.”

“Just stop overthinking it.” Niall suggested, picking out his chosen hoodie and heading towards the counters. “Keep it natural.”

When they had done the shopping, they settled at John Lewis Roof Garden cafe, ordering a cuppa each.

“So, tell me about the plan for Harry’s birthday?” Niall asked.

Louis hummed, using his spoon to mix in the dash of milk before picking up the delicate mug and bringing it to his plates. He blew on the heat, taking a sip and sighing. Shopping with Niall was truly stressful.

“Well… I just hope we could surprise him.”

“How?”

“Find a really nice restaurant up London somewhere, invite his Surrey friends, invite anyone we know of. Get him good. He deserves it, y’know?”

Niall nodded, taking a sip of his tea. “Of course he does.”

“He works so hard. I just want to… I don’t know, give back?”

“What restaurant are you thinking?”

“I was thinking The Ritz Restaurant. But, I need to book in advance, obviously. So I’m going to need to find out
when you’re all available. Preferably, on his birthday, of course. Which falls on Saturday so perfect.”

Niall blinked. “The Ritz Restaurant,” he repeated, dumbfounded.

“Um… yes?”

“You know, one meal there is £40?”

“I’m well aware.”

“There’s a dress code.”

“Mhmm. I know.”

“Then… how? What?”

Louis chuckled, tracing the rim of his cup. “I’ve been saving up for this. I wanted to do it at this restaurant, for Harry, for a while now. I’ve got the money, everything. It’s going to be a bit difficult,
granted.”

“A bit?”

“Okay, so very financially tight but I’ve got it handled.”

Niall smiled, biting his lips. “I can get Harry’s Surrey mates to get in with the plans, no worries.”

“Brilliant!” Louis got his phone out, opening up notes. “Could you give me a rough guideline of how many people?”

“Um… six?”

“Cool.”

Niall reached out, halting his actions by putting a hand over his.

“Let me pitch in, yeah? I… this is one of the most expensive restaurants in London, hell, the world, even. You can’t possibly… Louis, I gotta.. I’m Harry’s best mate, aren’t I? I wanna pitch in.”

Louis bit his lip. “It would be helpful…”

“We’ll split it halfway, yeah?”

“Okay.”

“Awesome.”

Niall still looked shocked even when the conversation was over. When they had drained the last sip in their cups and had put their coats on, exiting the cafe, Niall turned to him. He had a sincere look on his face when he spoke.

“You weren’t lying when you said you’re in love with Harry.”

Chapter Text

Sleeping At Last - Light
**

 

“Darling.”

“Yeah?”

“It’s 2PM.”

“I’m aware.”

Louis smiled, brushing a hand over Harry’s shoulders. “We have rehearsals today. We’ve missed too many days, c’mon.”

Harry groaned into the pillow, not lifting his head. “Can you promise me we’ll go for coffee later?”

“I will not make any promise as such.”

The truth was, Louis was currently suffering after he had paid for the dinner to the Ritz Restaurant. His bank account was possibly in the negatives. He was trying to play it off like it wasn’t a big deal, like he was still thriving off his student loan. He knew he was going to have to find a job, stat, if he wanted to survive for the rest of the term.

Harry shrugged. “Then there’s no need for me to move from bed.”

“Not even one?”

“Absolutely zero.”

Louis hummed, rubbing his chin. “How about… if I was naked in the shower, waiting for you?”

Harry opened one eye, adjusting to the light coming through Louis’ window. “Possibly tempting. Going to have to persuade me a little more.”

He smiled, his hands flattening over Harry’s back. The bruises that had once adorned his skin had disappeared, barely leaving any trace of the abuse that had taken place a few weeks ago. That annoyed Louis. He didn’t want the boy to have scars, obviously. But the fact that somebody could turn your entire life upside down and you couldn’t even prove it made him feel anxious and angered. If Harry wanted to go to the police right now, what proof could provide evidence to his claims?

He ducked down, placing a soft, lingering kiss on the visible vertebrae near Harry’s lower back. His lips travelled upwards.

“Well.. what if I’m naked, waiting on my knees?” Louis suggested, his lips tickling over the skin as he giggled.

“Mmhm. Sounds perfect.”

“Exactly so. If you get up now, we can get a blowjob in and we can get to class on time. Isn’t that great?”

Harry nodded. “Give me five seconds.”

Louis nodded, rolling out of bed and grabbing his phone from his bedside to check the time. Then he turned back to the sleepy figure, eyes still squeezed shut with the duvet still over his legs.

“Five…” He counted down, walking towards the ensuite, “four… if you’re not up, you can forget the offer. Three…” He opened the door, pulling a towel out of the basket. “Two.”

Before he got to one, Harry was up and out, pushing Louis against the shower and slamming the door shut.

**

Patrick stood on the stage, his arms stretched out and a grin sprawled across his lips.

“Welcome, students,” he spoke into his microphone.“I’d like to make a few announcements, address some news and then we can go straight to the run through of the play.”

Louis sighed. He knew he couldn’t of progressed as far in his University career if it wasn’t for Patrick. The professor was both motivating as well as pushy, he was lenient but not an idiot. He didn’t trust the students easily, never gave them the benefit of the doubt but he put his utmost trust in them when it came to the play. That’s why their play had been put together effortlessly.

Harry shot him a look, sipping at his Costa latte and shaking his head.

Patrick continued to talk. “For the announcements, I’m glad to say quite proudly—though, you’re probably already aware—that we’ve managed to get through the entire play once without any mistakes or needing to read off the script. You guys have mastered it and from here, we’re only going up!”

The entire class erupted into applause. Louis addressed the tingle of pride that surged through his veins. He knew that Harry and himself were the reason for most of the play being so great. Harry looked down at him, smiling widely.

“Therefore, I’m hosting a small get-together at Paxtons Head in Knightsbridge. It’s just a pub. We’ll have a pint, we’ll celebrate our achievements so far. Please, feel free to bring along a plus one. Only one. It should be intimate and small.”

Everyone cheered, talking amongst themselves about the choice of the venue. Harry had pulled out his iPad, typing the pub in to see what it looked like and where it was located exactly. Louis peered over his shoulders, observing the map Harry had pulled out.

“Also!” Patrick gained all their attention again. “I’ve confirmed the dates of our performances and scarily enough, they’re sooner than expected.” Louis’ heart stopped beating for a second. “We finish this year in April, you will have done all your exams. The performances, however, are towards the end of March.”

Everyone gasped. Louis felt dread run through him. End of March meant, quite literally, two months. They were so close to the performances and there was still a lot to conquer, to master. The thought alone made him frozen with fear. Thankfully, he felt Harry’s hand on top of his, squeezing in reassurance.

“Frightening, isn’t it?” Patrick chuckled, clicking on his laptop to display the venue in Kensington they would be playing at. “But, I have faith in all of you. You have continuously impressed me, always. I know, without a doubt, you can all smash these performances in two months. Our three performances at the University will occur from 20th March to 26th March. The Kensington performance will occur on the 28th March. Plenty of time, we’ll make this happen.”

Louis wrote down the dates on his paper.

“Right!” Patrick clapped his hands, stepping down from the stage. “Time for practice, please. No scripts today. From tomorrow, we’ll be doing outfits as well. Bring measurements to ensure you’ll fit into yours. Harry and Louis, please! Up on stage!”

**

Paxtons Head was a traditional pub, barely ten minutes walk from Knightsbridge station. Harry and Louis emerged from the station together, followed by Niall and a girl he had been seeing, with Liam and Zayn. They took the short walk towards their destination, slipping through the building and making their way towards the basement on the third floor where the gathering was taking place.

The pub was a beautiful example of Victorian architecture, a long list of History behind the building, as Patrick explained. He droned on about how it was built in the 1600s, how Paxton's had taken over in the 1800s and the business continued in the family name. He also explained how the interior was so special that it was listed as a Historic interest.

Louis snorted at Patrick’s ramblings, walking to the bar and ordering a pint for himself and Harry.

They settled on the table besides Patrick and the students, in their own bubble as they sat besides each other, legs twined underneath, hidden. Louis took a sip of the beer, sighing in relief at the liquid sloshing down his throat.

“I’m quite excited for your birthday,” Louis dropped the comment nonchalantly.

Harry furrowed his brow, letting out a surprised laugh. “Um, why?”

“Because you’re turning twenty-one in five days, babe.”

“Hardly an achievement.”

“I’d like to believe it is.”

Harry shrugged. “I’m not doing anything for my birthday. That’s why I haven’t made any plans,” he said as he took a sip. “I’m not interested.”

Louis’ heart soared and his features tingled but he tried to remain as impassive as possible. Harry was oblivious, so painfully unaware, that the surprise was going to be so satisfying. He couldn’t wait to see his expression when Harry walked in the restaurant.

“Oh really?” He tutted, faux disappointment. “Why not?”

“I’ve never been interested in celebrating my birthday.”

“Not even in Surrey?”

Harry scowled at his beer. “Alan never wanted to celebrate it, always claimed I had no reason to do so.”

Louis’ chest pinged. He shuffled closer, as if it was even possible at this point, and dropped his voice to a whisper.

“Fuck Alan. Really, Harry. Fuck him. Fuck what he’s said, what he’s done and what he’s made you believe,” he spoke so fiercely, his voice holding the utmost sincerity that he felt like he could drown in how strong he felt. He wanted to wrap Harry up and protect him from everything Alan has ever uttered from his stupid mouth. “Believe me when I say, you have every-fucking-reason in the world to celebrate your birthday.”

“Oh, yeah?” Harry’s lips quirked upwards, tilting his head. “Please do list them.”

Louis sighed, rolling his eyes but nevertheless, starting to list all the reasons.

“Because…” he shuffled forward, their thighs brushing together. “You are an phenomenal actor, and an even more amazing singer. That alone makes you a star amongst a crowd of rocks. Talented from every inch, you are, and it leaves me mesmerised. But..” he smiled, his eyes falling on his drink. “You’re also a genuinely good person. You’re everything, Harry. You’re like… so good? To me, to everyone—so trusting, in the best way. You wear your emotions on your sleeves, I can tell what you’re feeling at any given times because of these—” Louis reached up, tapping the side of Harry’s eyes. “Beautiful.”

Harry’s face had lit up from the compliments, eyes wide in surprise from the words Louis kept pouring out of his mouth.

It was like he couldn’t even control what he was saying. The words of sentiment kept rushing to him, overwhelming him from how much he felt for Harry, and how he hadn’t realised he was this far gone.

“You really think that?” Harry asked.

Louis nodded without a beat. “For sure.”

“I wish I could kiss you right now.”

“I’m sure Patrick is, like, observing our every move, Harry,” he laughed, shaking his head and then moving around him to wave at the professor. “He’s bloody obsessed with us, that fool.”

Harry dropped his head, laughing too. “What can I say? We’re just that amazing.”

“Okay, dear, don’t flatter yourself too much.”

“You were just complimenting me, like, so much!”

Louis giggled, shaking his head out of pure fondness as he took a long gulp of his drink and sighed.

“I’m so glad you’re here with me, and not with some grimy old man, ugh.”

Harry laughed. “They’re not that old.”

“They’re in their mid-thirties, maybe forties.”

“I like them old.”

“Oh, do you?” Louis asked, raising a delicate arched brow as he reached over to squeeze Harry’s thighs. Just a reminder. “I bet you do. What a shame I’m not a fucking old—”

“Oh, shh.” Harry couldn’t stop laughing, muffling the sounds with his fist as his eyes glistened under the dim light of the pub. He was an angel, from every angle and Louis was mesmerised by how beautiful he was. “Your jealousy can be detected from ten miles away, pipe down.”

“I’m not jealous,” he huffed.

“Oh, right. Of course.” Harry mocked, rolling his eyes.

“I just don’t understand the appeal, is all.”

“Because they have big dicks and experience.” He answered bluntly.

Louis’ eyes turned to him, wide as he slapped his thigh gently and choked on his drink. “Jesus, Harry. You really got something for older men.”

“Nah. Not anymore, anyway.”

After a while, Liam and Zayn joined their table with their own drinks and Niall sauntered over not long after. They discussed about Zayn’s birthday that was coming up after Harry’s and how they could agree on a quiet movie night together. They were exchanging jokes between them, a pleasant environment.

A few minutes later, Patrick walked over to their table and grabbed a chair, sitting down. He accepted another drink from Liam, gulping down the beer and licking his lips.

“Harry, Louis,” he addressed, turning his body towards them as his mouth grew into a smile. “God. I’d just like to say—thank you so so much.”

Louis furrowed his brow in confusion, smiling. “What for?”

“When I casted the two of you, I thought I may of made a mistake. I knew there was lingering tension here, I knew I was taking a huge risk. But you both have proved me wrong, and then right. I knew something could grow here and it has. A wonderful, beautiful friendship. I can see the admiration you both hold for each other even miles off.”

Louis flushed, burying his head in Harry’s neck from the sweet words. Harry cooed, drawing him into his chest with an arm around his waist.

“I’m shocked, yet pleased, by the development you both have taken and where you have reached now. I’m so proud. I can only hope our plays will be just as amazing due to your acting.”

Liam and Niall cheered, touching their glasses together as they took a sip.

Patrick smiled, continuing to talk. “I’m going to miss you both when you finish and graduate, it’s going to be a shame to let our two best students go.”

Harry guffawed. “We’re hardly—”

“You are. The most pleasant two students I have ever worked for.” He raised his glass. “To the two best students.”

“Woo!” The whole table erupted, clinking their glasses together as Louis kissed Harry’s neck softly, when nobody was looking.

**
Chris Brown - Lost In Ya Love

“Birthday boy,” Louis sang into the phone, his lips twitching involuntarily as he exited his apartment, twirling the keys around his fingers. “I hope you’re ready.”

“I haven’t seen you all day and it’s my birthday.”

“I’m coming now, though.”

“I want birthday sex!”

Louis choked on a laugh, observing his surroundings and taking in the usual bustling Camden environment.

“You can’t just say that, I’m in public!”

He could practically hear the pout in Harry’s voice. “Yeah, I know but I want it, Lou.”

“And you’ll get it.”

“And why the hell am I dressed in a suit?” He demanded to know. “I told you, I didn’t wanna do anything fancy for my birthday.”

Louis sighed, reaching the station as he stopped outside. “Listen, we’re not doing anything. It’s just some restaurant, okay? I just wanted us to dress up for your birthday, just me and you. Okay?”

“Fine. Yeah, sounds perfect.”

“Good.” Louis smiled. “Now, I’ll be at yours in twenty so be ready.”

 

The tube journey was relatively quick, and empty, at 6:30PM. He emerged from South Kensington station, the nerves bubbling under his skin as he attempted to push down the nagging feeling. He had been preparing to ensure this day would be perfect, it had to be. Niall had been a saint, pitching in at any given time, anywhere he could help to ease the total sum of money. Now, all that mattered was actually getting Harry there.

Harry opened up his apartment door, instantly dragging Louis in by his collar and slamming him against the door. He crowded in his personal space, surging forward and crashing their lips together. Louis hummed in surprise, relaxing into the kiss and winding an arm around Harry’s waist to pull him forward.

It was an urgent kiss, full of desperation and it caused Louis’ heart to accelerate right out of his chest.

When they pulled away, Louis’ lips were twitching and his adrenaline was pumping. He felt like he could conquer the whole world if he had Harry by his side.

“Happy birthday, love,” Louis dropped his voice to a whisper, embracing him instead this time as he wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck. “Happy birthday. Happy birthday. Happy birthday.” With each greeting, he kissed his neck.

“You’ve said it a million times, baby.”

“Text and call isn’t enough.”

“Thank you.”

He took a step back to finally appreciate Harry’s suit.

Harry was wearing expensive blazer—a single breasted jacket with lion engraved gold buttons on the front. The collar and the arm sleeves had red panels with golden cording, adding an elegant yet rich touch. Underneath, he was wearing a white button down, a red tie to match and tight black slacks. He looked absolutely stunning. His hair was gelled back, creating the perfect quiff to match with his outfit. He was reeking with class. Louis was quite honestly gobsmacked.

He reached out to touch the material of the blazer, tugging Harry forward and kissing him.

“You’re so beautiful.”

Harry whimpered at the compliment, pecking his lips. “No, babe. You’re quite literally the star tonight. What’re you wearing?”

“This?” Louis gestured to his unbranded suit, shrugging. “Just somethin’ I got off ASOS. What is this?”

“It’s… um, Saint Laurent.”

Louis couldn’t bite back the grin that overcame his features. “Of-bloody-course, why am I not surprised?” His fingers grazed across the material, feeling the thick fabric underneath his fingertips as he moved up to fiddle with the blazer. “You like your expensive suits, don’t you?”

“Possibly, yeah.”

“Either way,” Louis took a step back, looking over his figure one more time. “You’re just… you look stunning, Harry. Happy birthday, babe.”

“Thank you, Louis. For everything.”

He nodded. “Come on, now. We’re gonna be late otherwise.”

An Uber was waiting for them when they exited the apartment, getting into the car. Louis leaned forward to pass a paper with the address to the driver, not wanting the secret to be concealed to Harry.

“So, where are we going?” Harry asked, settling back on the chair and twining their fingers together. “You’ve kept the whole night a secret.”

“You’ll see soon enough.”

“Is it a restaurant?”

“I already told you, it is,” Louis laughed, squeezing his fingers.

“I’m so curious!”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be there soon enough.”

The drive to the Ritz Restaurant was barely ten minutes, though Harry hadn’t stopped asking questions for the whole journey. The driver stopped outside the place. Harry remained completely oblivious to where they were, not observing his surroundings and realising their outside: one of the most elegant, expensive places in the world. Louis tipped the driver, thanking him before guiding Harry out of the car.

When Louis walked to the Ritz Hotel, Harry gasped and halted.

“Louis, what the—”

“No complains, no nothings!” Louis warned, tugging on his hand to continue their walk towards the building. He walked inside, muttering his booking towards the worker, who nodded and told them to follow him.

Harry was following slowly. “Louis… what is this? You didn’t.. How—what?”

Louis smiled back to him. “I wanted to, yeah? It’s a nice place. I know you like it here.”

“Well, of course I do! But, it’s so unnecessary.”

The Ritz Hotel itself was absolutely stunning, there was no other possible word to describe it. It was grand, reeking power, money and elite. The ceilings were high, each light was an incredible chandelier. There were marble pillars, pink design carpets. The man led the two of them through to the restaurant, checking Tomlinson booking under a list before guiding them to a table.

The dining room in the Ritz Restaurant was one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, debatably.

It was magnificent. It had towering marble columns, tall ceilings, statues around the room paired with a fountain, low hanging chandeliers that created a low blow of light over the tables. The entire room followed a cool tone, light pinks and creams, and was breathtakingly beautiful. Each waiter here was dressed to high standards, in tuxes, with champagnes ready in trays as they greeted each guest.

When Harry noticed the table of his friends, already waiting for him, he gasped.

Louis squeezed their hands, the grin threatening to slip his jaw from how pleased he felt. He had managed to successfully surprise Harry and it was possibly the most satisfying feeling in the world.

He turned to face him, met by Harry’s watery gaze, a tear slipping down his eyes.

Louis’ heart melted right down to the pits of his stomach, something undeniably like fondness  overcoming him so strongly, that he felt his eyes grow hot with prickly tears. He embraced Harry tightly, right in front of his awaiting friends, rubbing his back in a comforting manner as Harry choked a sob in his neck.

“Baby…” Louis’ voice was so soft, it was barely audible, “it’s all for you. Happy surprise birthday.”

Harry was shaking his head. “No-one’s ever—Oh, God. This is the best. You’re the best. My Louis, my baby.” He was spewing words without realising what he was even saying, his voice watery and high pitched as he squeezed tighter.

Louis allowed him to, pressing soft kisses into his neck before they pulled away and finally greeted their guests.

Each person around the table wished Harry a happy birthday, which caused the flush to grow on his cheeks. They sat down besides each other at the centre of the table, reaching for the waiting champagne.

Harry cleared his throat, wiping underneath his eyes.

“Well!” He laughed at the guests sitting around his table. “Louis has managed to get me good, so good! I wasn’t expecting this, and certainly wasn’t expecting all my Surrey mates to find their way up to London. I’m so very happy you all found time on my special day.” He nodded at each person. “But, I’d like to say a special thank you to Louis,” he turned his head towards Louis. “For being the person I can always rely on, for proving me wrong for ever judging him, and for being the most beautiful, amazing human being I have ever met.”

Everyone cheered, clinking their glasses of champagne together.

They all ordered the food, Louis and Niall paid for everyone though it dented their bank accounts further. Harry looked displeased about the order, frowning.

“I don’t want you to—”

“Shut up, please,” Louis stopped him before he could finish the sentence, shaking his head and shuffling his chair forward. “I wanted to do this for you, only you.”

“One meal is forty quid, Louis.”

“And? I’ll happily pay for it.”

“You spoil me.”

“I like to.”

Harry had opted for the Sea Bass meal whilst Louis ordered the Lamb dish. The food service was pleasant, quick and satisfactory. Louis had no complaints. He reminded himself mentally to tip the waiters heavily for their courtesy. Whilst they were eating, he sent a nod towards Niall who got up from his seat, walking to the counter.

Harry watched Niall with his eyes, pulling his brows together. “Where is he going?” He asked.

Louis shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Um.. I’m pretty sure you exchanged a look and—”

“Relax, curls,” Louis laughed. He placed his spare hand on Harry’s thigh, rubbing circles and willing him to come down. “You’ve been tense all night, so jittery. Look, we’re all good. Stop worrying. Stop thinking about the money. Just let go, let me do something nice for you, for once.”

After that, Harry visibly eased up. He walked around the table after everyone had finished their meals, conversing with all his mates from back home. Zayn took the opportunity to slip next to Louis, a little tipsy from the abundance of champagne he had consumed, smiling.

“You love him.”

Louis looked towards Zayn, shrugging. “Yeah, maybe.”

Niall returned to the table and everyone talked amongst each other. Everyone blended in well, there wasn’t a single moment of awkwardness or quiet. Harry remained happy throughout the entire evening, the smile never wiping off his face. He remained devoted by Louis’ side most of the time, keeping their hands entwined underneath the table as they sipped back on their champagne.

Then, the lights went off.

The entire restaurant started whispering in confusion. Harry looked at Louis, brows pulled together who only shrugged in return with a smirk pulling at one side of his mouth.

Just then, a waiter appeared from the kitchen with a cake in his hand that was barely visible in the dark. There was a sparkler and a candle on top, illuminating the room slightly as everyone sucked in a breath audibly around the room.

The waiter started singing. “Happy birthday to you…” and inevitably, the entire room full of guests joined.

Harry whispered. “Oh, my God.” Under his breath. Louis tightened his hold over his hands, his own heart threatening to beat out of his chest.

The waiter walked towards them, the smile sincere over his lips as he sang and finished the song. “Happy birthday to you, Harry Styles. Happy birthday to you.” He put the cake down on the table, the lights flickered back on as everyone started clapping.

Harry was flushed, again and surely enough, tears were brimming his eyes again.

Louis couldn’t miss this opportunity.

He leaned down, connecting their lips together and muttering another birthday greeting against his lips. Harry chuckled wetly, shaking his head in disbelief as he pecked Louis’ cheeks all over, before pulling away.

They thanked the waiter, Louis patted him on the back for making it work, before he disappeared and they were left alone with the cake.

“Zayn and Liam pitched in for this,” Louis told him as he got up from his space, walking to the end of the table and grabbing the knife. “Come here, babe. Let’s cut this. Make a wish, c’mon.”

Harry stumbled up from his seat, joining Louis’ side as he accepted the knife from him. He stood over the cake, looking down at the candles as he closed his eyes and muttered nonsensical words under his breath. He opened his eyes again, glancing at Louis for a second, before blowing on the candle. It went off and everyone around the table clapped again. Harry cut right down the cake but Louis took over.

“Go, sit down. Imma serve the people—”

“No, no.. let me help, Louis,” Harry refused, his voice firm. “You’ve done more than enough. Please.”

Together, they cut everyone a liberal slice of the cake and handed it out. Niall was more than glad for his serving, instantly taking a large spoonful and moaning around the delicious moist cake. When everyone had a slice, Louis put one in a plate for the two of them and they sat back down.

Harry’s eyes were swimming with emotions as he leaned down and whispered.

“The best birthday, ever. Thank you, Louis. Thank you so much.”

Louis realised with a start, he was in love with this boy. He faintly knew his feelings were gradually progressing from a crush to something else. But he never acknowledged it, it had never hit him hard. But now, it had. The feeling was so empowering, taking over any other feeling he had in his body. He was in love with Harry. He was in love with every part of Harry and wanted to give him everything.

God, he was so in love.

Louis looked at Harry with every feeling portrayed right on his face, not hiding it. He never wanted to hide it again.

“You’re so very welcome, love.”

**

When they got back to Harry’s apartment, it became a power struggle.

Harry was tugging at his collar, nipping at his collar—desperate to get the clothes off, to get his hands on whatever inch of skin he could reach. Louis was happy to oblige. He instantly pushed Harry against the bedroom door, they stumbled in and slammed it shut. He took Harry to the bed, laying him down and stripping him off with his clothes. He started with Harry’s expensive sailor jacket, unbuttoning the lion engraved buttons one-by-one, and then peeled off the white shirt.

He was already keening, his eyes wide and his hands coming up to urge Louis to quicken his actions.

“Harry,” he warned with a slight narrow of his eyes. “Be patient.”

Can’t. I need you now.”

Louis quickly got rid of Harry’s clothes and then started on his own, pulling the shirt over his head when he couldn’t get unbutton quick enough, pulling his tight slacks down and off his legs. Harry was wearing plain black boxers underneath and he couldn’t deny the strike of disappointment that went through Louis.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said, getting back into bed and slipping his finger under Harry’s waistband, feeling the jumpy skin underneath. “I’m never gonna get tired of this sight, ever.”

“Fuck me, please.”

Louis laughed. “A bit eager, aren’t you?”

“Louis. I’m aroused. I’ve been hard since we got into the restaurant, okay? Now, please hurry the fuck up.”

He raised a brow at the tone Harry was speaking to him. Usually, he was submissive and always ready to follow the lead but there was a demanding ring in his voice now. Louis wanted to regain his control. In one swift movement, he turned Harry so he was on his stomach. He lifted Harry up, onto his hands and knees and pulled the underwear down in one swift movement.

“Can’t say I’m not disappointed about you wearing these,” Louis said with a tut.

Harry laughed, though he sounded choked. “I wasn’t sure about wearing panties tonight.”

“‘Course.”

“I can wear them now, for you.”

“Later,” Louis simply said.

“But, I want to now.”

At that, Louis delivered him a slap that rang clear throughout the room and caused Harry’s ass to jiggle. He let out a gasp. The sound was addictive so Louis did it again, harder and admired how his ass turned bright. He wondered how it’d look after a good spanking session and the thought caused him to shudder.

“You’re beautiful,” Louis told him, slapping him again just because he could. “But, you listen and you take what I give you. Do you understand?”

Harry nodded in surrender. “I understand.”

Pleased with the answer, Louis leans down and kisses both ass cheeks. Though he had barely hit them, they were both still flaming hot with the contact. He made a mental note to rub lotion over them.

“What do you want, Harry?” Louis asked as he stroked an asscheek, a gentle touch.

Harry groaned like the answer was impossible to say. “I.. I want you, Louis. Fuck me, please.”

“Still hard?” Louis asked, reaching down to touch his cock. As expected, Harry was hard and he began to stroke him fast.

“O-oh,” Harry squeaked out, leaning back on the touch and burying his face in his arms. “If… if you do that Louis, I’m going to come.”

“No, you won’t,” he said, letting go off his cock and spanking him again, harder than all the other times. “You’ll come when I say so.”

“Y-yes. Okay.”

“I’m going to open you up, okay? Open you up good, thorough and then fuck you so hard you’ll forget your own name.”

Harry groaned at the words, nodding eagerly. “Yes, yes. Please, Louis. Anything.”

Louis took a minute to admire the view before him. His boy, on his knees, waiting for Louis to do whatever he’d like. He could never get tired of this. Never wanted to get tired of this, either. He moved to the bedside table, picking out the lube and bringing it back. He took a moment to touch Harry all over, reaching down to stroke him a few more times again.

“I’m going to start now, okay?”

Harry didn’t reply and he didn’t ask for one either. He slicked up two of his fingers with lube, generously spreading it all over. He spread Harry’s asscheeks, admiring the view before him. He leaned down to lick Harry from the balls up to his hole. Harry instantly get out a garbled moan, muffled by his arms.

“I’ve never done this before, have I?” Louis wondered, mostly to himself, as he licked him again. But this time, he didn’t let up and continued to lick over the hole.

Harry seemed to be enjoying this judging by his insistent sounds. He began to move his ass back to the touch, begging.

Louis sucked on his hole before letting his tongue enter the hole, licking around the walls and letting out a groan of his own. Harry rocked back and forth, fucking himself back on Louis’ tongue and continuously letting out streams of sounds.

He pulled away, instantly pushing in one finger and joining his tongue alongside as he begun to pump his index finger.

Harry was speaking nonsense, unable to string a coherent sound, as he groaned loudly.

Louis didn’t waste time to insert two fingers, pumping them hard and fast and opening him up. He scissored his fingers, flicking his tongue in between and pushing Harry right to the edge before bringing him back. Every now and then, with his spare hand, he’d lean down to stroke Harry but let go before Harry could climax.

“I’m ready!” Harry pleaded. “Please, please fuck me already.”

“Okay. Okay.”

Louis pulled away and noticed his own cock, fully hard and leaking precum without any contact. Just by admiring Harry. He groaned, finding it hard to believe the effect Harry had on him. He drizzled more lube on his cock, jerking himself off a few times before he situated himself behind Harry. He held his waist tightly, pressing his fingers down before he began to inch in.

Everything felt rushed and desperate, both of them eager to get off.

Louis took this slowly, though. He pushed in, conscious of Harry below him until he bottomed up. He waited for a few moments. Harry was tight as a vice around him and he could barely breathe from arousal. He waited to get the go-ahead signal before he began to fuck Harry.

Harry was breathing heavily underneath him, panting but after a few minutes, he nodded.

“Fuck me, Louis. Please, please.”

“So desperate, aren’t you?” Louis said in amazement. “Always want it, don’t you?”

“I do. I do.”

Louis pulled out, till only his head was inside Harry, before slamming back down. Harry outright moaned, throwing his head back. He took the opportunity, fisting Harry’s hair and pulling him up as he started to fuck him. He started off relatively slow but picked up the pace, pulling Harry’s hair back with every thrust.

Harry was barely speaking anymore, his mouth gaping and his eyes squeezed shut.

When he reached down to touch his cock, Louis slapped the hand away and tightened his hold over his hair.

“Be good, Harry.”

Louis was already embarrassingly close.

He let go of Harry’s hair and started thrusting harder, deeper. Harry buried his head on the mattress, his sounds barely coming out as he came against the pounding.

“Oh. I’m gonna come.” Louis said, the words coming out quickly as he gave a few more thrusts and then came deep inside Harry.

“Lou,” he mumbled brokenly.

Louis got the message. He reached down, still deep inside him, and started jerking Harry off. Within minutes, he had spurted come all over the sheets and his stomach with a cry. They remained in the same position before Louis pulled out, groaning at the loss of the feeling before grabbing a towel from the floor. He wiped himself, and Harry, before pulling them into an embrace on the bed.

Harry snuggled into his arms, mumbling, “thank you, Louis. Best birthday ever. You’re the best.” Before passing out.

Louis watched him sleep with adoration curling within the pits of his stomachs, the smile taking over his features as he willed himself to sleep.


The 1975 - If I Believe You
**

Louis’ entire life changed a week later.

He had been in his own apartment, alone, trying to finish up some of the revision for his TV production exams. Recently, he had been spending all his spare time with Harry and neglected preparation for the exams. When he wasn’t with Harry, he was with Zayn and when he wasn’t with Zayn, he was practising for the rehearsals. He decided to buckle down for TV production, knowing he’d fail if he didn’t get it done.

Louis found it hard to concentrate on revision nowadays.

It was hard to focus his mind on one place when it was always one-sided about Harry. He was thinking about Harry at any given time. Whether it was his mouth that took Louis’ cock perfectly, whether it was his heart that was too big for his chest or whether it was his glorious laugh—something about him was always circling Louis’ thoughts.

A part of him found it frustrating, another part of him loved it.

He kept trying to push the thoughts out, focus on the work that was pending and required his attention. He had a plate of sushi in front of him, covered in soy sauce and a cup of green tea with it.

When his phone rang, he instantly reached for it, knowing it’d be Harry and accepting the call without checking the caller ID.

“Babe, you know I’ve got revision to do! I told you not to—”

“Louis?”

The voice was not Harry’s. Louis was startled, the words dying in his throat as he squinted his eyes in concentration to figure out who was talking. He waited for a few moments, waiting for the person to talk but no other reply came from the phone. He pulled the phone away from his ear, to check he was still connected. He was.

“Um…?” He started speaking when no one spoke. “Hi? Who is this?”

“God, it’s so good to hear your voice.”

Traces of Louis’ memory started putting two and two together.

“Who is this?” He demanded to know, though he had a pretty good idea. His heart started beating hard and he felt dizzy, he pushed back his chair from his table, the sushi suddenly feeling like it was going to come back up.

“It’s… Mark, son.”

Louis’ fears were confirmed.

It really was Mark on the other line.

His voice was still the same distinct sound, a little husky and deep, demanding authority just by the way he talked. He hadn’t changed at all since the last time they talked. Mark really thought he could drop a bombshell like this, call him after years and never contact him again besides the measly £50 he he had left.

Louis debated hanging up, he felt enough rage swimming through his veins to do so, but he was weak. He wanted to know the reason Mark was calling him, it’d bug him forever if he never found out.

“What do you want?” He spat out finally, jumping up from his seat. He started to pace around the kitchen, his stress levels climbing.

The man sighed from the other line. “I’m so sorry. I knew.. I thought—I… son, I miss you?” He struggled.

“You can’t even sound sincere about it.”

No, I do! I just.. I’m wondering if this was such a great idea—”

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s not.”

“I just, I couldn’t go another day without hearing your voice again.”

That angered Louis further, kicking the closest thing to him—his fridge—he was going to feel that one later.

“Are you fucking serious?” He exploded, unable to keep his calm at bay any longer. “Well, you’ve heard my voice, dad. Do you wanna fuck off or am I gonna have to hang up on you?”

“I can understand your anger—”

“Oh, yeah?” Louis said cruelly, laughing manically as he shook his head and blinked back raw tears building in his eyes. It was that easy for Mark to call him, to turn his life upside down. “Well, fuck you.”

“Louis, please.”

“Who do you think you are, huh? Who do you think you are to call me, talk to me after everything? Do you think you deserve it?” Louis started rambling, the stream of words pouring out of him without censor. “This is the first time you’ve contacted me since you were a fucking coward and did a runner.”

“I know.”

“And what part of your entitled ass thinks you deserve to talk to me?”

Mark exhaled. “I don’t know.”

“Exactly. You don’t deserve it.”

Louis felt more liberated now that he had said the words. There was nothing else left to say now. He had spilled the words that were trapped inside of him, always threatening to burst out. They had been released. He was free, now. He was ready to hang up and carry on his day when Mark said.

“Come to Bath.”

“Excuse me?” Louis asked, a humourless chuckle leaving his lips before he could refrain it.

“I live in Bath, come see me, please.”

“I.. you—I,” Louis spluttered, in genuine shock that this was happening right now. He imagined this day to occur maybe in twenty years, not now, not soon. “What the fuck?”

“I’ll send you my address. Please.”

“No, Mark. No,” he was firm, his voice coming out steadier than he felt, shaking his head firmly. “No fucking way.”

“Louis, please.”

“What part of you thinks I want to visit you?” Louis asked. “Do you think I’m a little boy? I’m not that person, anymore. I’m a grown up, I’m attending one of the best universities in the world, I have money for myself and my mum. We don’t need you.”

“And that’s all good. Brilliant. I’m so relieved to hear—”

“Shut up, man!” Louis nearly screamed, growing increasingly frustrated with every word Mark was spewing. “Just, shut the fuck up.”

“I… I’m dying, Louis.”

All the words that he was gearing up to say next faded out of his mind, leaving him speechless. Louis paused all his actions. He came to a halt in his kitchen, his jaw slack and his hands loosening his vice tight grip on his phone.

“You.. y-you, what?”

Mark seemed close to tears himself. “I have brain cancer. It’s a malignant form, some long name that I don’t know, I don’t have long left. Louis, please,” he was pleading, crying now and Louis choked on a sob. “I need to see you, son. I need to.”

“I don’t know.”

Please.”

Louis was crying now too, the tears freely spilling down his cheeks as he composed a breath. He sat back down on the table, opening up a new document.

“Okay. Tell me the address.”

“You promise you’ll come?”

Louis bit his lip. “I don’t think… I… yeah. I have to see you before you..” He stopped himself, the words too difficult to bring to words. “What’s the address?” He pressed on instead, his hands ready to type.

**

Only thirty minutes later, Harry appeared at his apartment per request.

He was relaxed, a smile sprawled across his lips as he made his way into the apartment, taking off his boots and scarf. He reached out for Louis, not noticing the red, raw eyes and embracing him.

“What was the urgency?” He asked, pulling away and shrugging his coat off at the same time. “Did you invite me to make you some carrot cake? Because, man, I’m spent and tired. Do you think we can just go to sleep—?”

“Harry.”

Louis’ voice was grave. He took a step back, his head lowered as he focused on the floor. Since the phone call, he hadn’t been able to placate one single emotion he was feeling. It was a mess, a turmoil in his head that he couldn’t sort through.

Harry noticed instantly, the cheerful tone immediately dying as he took a step forward and reached out for Louis’ hand.

“Babe..” His voice was so soft, barely audible, stroking Louis’ hand with thumb. “What’s wrong?”

“I..”

“Have you been crying?”

The question made Louis’ chin wobble, a fresh wrack of tears building as he sobbed out loud. Harry was quick, he pulled him into a hug just as Louis started to cry once again. He couldn’t stop the moisture flowing from him. He felt so overwhelmed, paired with warm pair of arms around him.

“Baby,” Harry sounded dangerously close to tears himself, tightening his arms. “I’ve… you’ve never cried before. You’re scaring me. What’s wrong?”

Louis couldn’t speak from the force of his tears though, shaking his head and burying his chest in Harry.

Harry didn’t demand answers straight away, though.

“Let’s settle on the sofa, yeah?”

Harry took a seat on the arm chair, spreading his legs to accommodate Louis. He sat on Harry’s lap, wrapping his legs around him, embracing him and lowering his head to his shoulder so he could continue to cry. Harry was patient. He rubbed his hand along his back, anchoring him down from the broken sobs, coaching the tears out of him.

“I don’t like seeing you cry,” Harry mumbled, his voice defeated and cracking, stroking his hair at the nape of his neck. “It’s so strange.”

“S-sorry.”

“No, no, please don’t ever apologise.”

“It hurts.”

“Oh, baby,” Harry wrapped his arms around him, trying to crush him with the embrace. “What hurts, what part? Tell me.”

“Mark.”

The simple name changed Harry’s demeanor and without a word, he moved Louis back and tilted his chin up so their eyes could meet. Harry’s eyes were electric and confused, staring intently at Louis.

“What about Mark?”

Louis felt a fresh set of tears at the mention of the name, his vision blurring as they overtook him.

“Oh, babe,” Harry sounded distraught, wiping the tears away with his thumb and kissing underneath his eyes. “It’s okay, love. Please, it’s okay. Louis.”

“He’s dying, Harry.”

“Oh… oh, no…”

“He called me,” Louis powered on, looking to the floor. “He told me, he gave me his address and I. He wants me to come visit.”

“How is he dying?”

“Brain cancer.”

Harry’s lips curled downwards, eyes drooping. “That’s terrible, Lou.”

“I want to see him before he dies.”

“I… yeah, of course. Of course you would want to.”

“Is that bad of me? To want to visit him? Why am I not done with him? Why do I care? God knows, I’ve wished death on him so many times, Harry.”

Harry’s eyes softened, expression dropping. He held Louis’ hand.

“It’s not bad, at all. He was important to you, he held significance in your life and it’s not that simple to just… you know, forget that. Especially when you’ve been told such hard news. Louis, it’s so normal. You should visit him, it’ll be closure and… it’ll help.”

“What if it doesn’t help?” Louis asked, voice wavering.

“Then, at least you tried and gave it a go.”

“Will you come with me?” He requested next, tightening his hold on Harry. “Please, will you?”

Harry nodded instantly. “Of course. I will come with you.”

“I’ve booked my train for tomorrow. I know it’s short notice, but—”

“Count me in. No worries.”

**

Harry stayed over. Louis felt like crying throughout the night but the tide of tears were pushed back by the reassuring tightening of Harry’s arm every few minutes. He felt safe in Harry’s arms. For once, it was more than just cuddling. It was a sanctuary, a place Louis could forget everything.

The next morning, Harry booked a hotel for them to stay in at Bath whilst Louis packed their bags.

“I haven’t got any clothes here,” he pouted, his eyes still trained on his laptop as he tried to find the most decent hotel that had rooms available for the same day. Unluckily, he was running out of options.

Louis shrugged, a half hearted chuckle escaping as he chucked one of his tops into the bag aggressively.

“You can just wear mine.”

“Your clothes are tight on me, it’s not—”

“Well, I can’t help that, can I?” Louis retorted, his tone clipped.

“—a big deal.”

Louis winced, realising he was being an asshole and releasing his pent up frustration upon Harry, who hadn’t done anything wrong. He sighed, balling up another shirt and throwing it into the bag. Harry got up from his space and shut the top of his laptop. He walked over to Louis, hugging him from behind and resting his head on Louis’ shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered into Louis’ neck. “I know this is incredibly hard. I’m so sorry, babe. I wish it could’ve been different.”

Louis relaxed in the hold, leaning his head back and humming. “It’s just so unfair. I don’t want him to die, Harry.”

“I know.”

“I’ve said it, I’ve wished it upon him but now that it’s actually happening,” he shook his head in disbelief, still unable to process it. “I just… can’t.”

“It’s going to be fine. I’m right here for you.”

“Mhm.”

“Through everything.”

“Yeah.”

“C’mon, let’s finish the packing.”

Louis returned to the clothes. They were only going for two nights, visiting Mark on one day and allowing the other day to themselves before returning. They weren’t granted a long break due to classes they still had to attend. Harry announced he had finally booked the hotel and Louis smiled, kissing him to thank him.

They got onto the train on time, it was empty and Louis felt a roll of anxiety wash off him. With each passing second, he was growing more relaxed with Harry’s presence besides him. He knew it’d only return later.

“Do you think I should tell mum?” He asked, then, breaking the silence between them.

Harry had been looking through the menu that the train supplied, muttering under his breath how he needed a cuppa. He looked up and slowly, nodded his head.

“I personally think Johannah should know, but, it’s not.. Like, it’s your life, isn’t it? You’re not obliged to tell her.”

“I think I should.”

“Go for it then, babe.”

Louis offered a smile, exhaling a breath before grabbing his phone from his pocket. He unlocked it, finding his mother in his contacts. He looked back at Harry, who gave him a reassuring nod, and then clicked on the green button.

Harry placed a hand over his.

The phone only rang for two seconds before Johannah picked up, her voice cheerful. “Lou, darling! Are you okay, love?”

Louis’ smile grew involuntarily at his mother’s voice. “Hey, mum. Yeah, I’m quite alright and yourself? The twins giving you any trouble?”

She chuckled. “Doris and Ernest are a handful, at all times! I’m great, honey. Just missing you and Christmas, is all. Missing Harry, too.”

“He misses you as well.”

“I’m glad to hear so.”

Louis sighed. “Mum..”

Johannah was silent for a moment before answering. “Yes, dear?”

“I have something to tell you… um, that may not be great news, actually and I’m really sorry about this.”

“What news?”

“Well,” Louis fidgeted in his seat, suddenly regretting his decision to do this whilst he was on a train, occupied with other passengers. He knew people were naturally nosey and had a habit of eavesdropping. It felt impersonal. “I… I talked to Mark yesterday?”

“Y-you, what?”

“Mark called me.”

“Oh,” Johannah’s voice fell flat. “Right and what did he say?”

“He asked me to come visit him in Bath.”

“Oh, okay.”

“And I’m on the train to Bath right now, with Harry.”

A beat passed.

“Oh.” Johannah sounded even less enthusiastic now. “So, you’re going to meet Mark, then? I thought you were done with him.”

“I am done with him.”

“Then?”

“Well, actually.. There’s a fair bit more to the story,” he said honestly.

“Go ahead?”

“Well, mum,” Louis tried to speak, his voice growing thick as he chuckled and shook his head. “Actually. Mark told me he has a form of brain cancer that’s, like, inoperable and he’s dying. He wanted me to come visit him before, you know..”

Another beat passed. This time it was longer and more sufferable than the last.

Finally, Johannah replied.

“Oh… God.”

“I know.”

“Oh, dear Lord.”

“I’m sorry to break this news to you over the phone, mum. I know it’s so shitty of me—”

Johannah cut in. “Did he say when, how long he had left?”

“He didn’t say but I’m suspecting about a month? Maybe?”

Shit.”

Louis’ eyes watered, he nodded in agreement. “It’s proper messed up, I know.”

“Jesus, Louis. That’s possibly the worst news I’ve had this year, so far, I feel… wow. I don’t even know how to feel about this.”

“It’s okay, mum,” Louis lied. It definitely wasn’t okay. “I’ll meet him and I’ll tell you everything, you can decide what to do next after that.”

Johannah hung up a minute or two later, after he had promised he would tell her everything, and then snuggled back into Harry’s chest. He was about to do one of the most life-changing things in his life. Louis felt like things were going to change after he would see Mark, events would be put into perspective, he would gain some understanding and some closure. Or, he would blow up with anger.

The entire train ride to Bath was silent.

Louis rested his head on Harry’s shoulder. Their fingers were twined together as Harry played with them absentmindedly. Harry was using his iPad, engrossed in an assignment he had to complete whilst Louis closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep. The carriage was quiet and serene.

When they stepped out of the train station, Harry turned to him with an earnest look in his green eyes.

“We can go to the hotel, relax for a bit or we can go and meet your f—Mark right now. I’m okay with both.”

Louis sighed, clenching his hands. “I think let’s check into the hotel and go straight there. I won’t be able to eat until I get it over and done with,” his hands travelled to his stomach, groaning. “I feel so… sick.”

Harry pouted sympathetically. “C’mere babe,” he pecked his lips before they got an Uber to the hotel room.

Harry had managed to find a beautiful, four-star hotel despite the last minute booking. It was located off on a road, large, grand and welcoming. Very like himself. Louis couldn’t resist the smile that sprawled across his lips as Harry grabbed the card off the receptionist, thanking him.

“How about you wait here, I’ll put the bags away and we’ll be on our way?” Harry suggested.

“Perfect.”

He sauntered off with the two suitcases, leaving Louis alone in the lobby with his tormenting thoughts. He had done a good enough job to push all the negativity to one side of his mind but it was rushing back now. All the resentment he felt towards Mark was, once again, resurfacing and making him boil with anger. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to hold it together when he was faced with Mark, the man himself.

When Harry returned, he noticed his sour expression immediately, giving him a tight hug and reassuring him it’ll be fine. They’ll be fine.

As much as Louis wanted to believe the words, he couldn’t be sure and it was killing him. He wanted to see Mark squirm, wanted to make the man apologise for ruining his life, his mother’s life, his siblings lives.

Louis felt terrified.

The only man he ever considered his father was dying. He didn’t have long left to leave and that alone was enough for Louis to consider forgiving him. He hadn’t imagined he’d feel anything but hatred. The new found emotion was terrifying. The thought of Mark not being alive was terrifying.

They took another Uber to the address provided by Mark and then, they were standing outside the house.

Harry’s hands were in Louis’, squeezing, reminding him that he had Harry despite it all.

Louis felt like he couldn’t breathe, his chest tightening at the sight of his father’s house. It was a large, Victorian style house in the middle of Bath. There were two parked cars outside, a Range Rover and a Nissan Juke. Clearly, Mark was having no financial troubles. He had, somehow, managed to afford this massive place, these luxurious cars. If he was feeling hatred before, he was enraged now.

“Bastard.”

Harry’s face flew to him, his lips curling downwards. “We can go back,” he reminded him. “We don’t have to do this, we don’t have to do anything. Our train back to London can be—”

“No. I’m not going back after we came all this way, Harry.”

“Okay, fair. We can wait here for a while longer.”

Bastille - An Act Of Kindness

So, they did.

They stood outside, observing the house whilst holding hands as they waited for Louis to gain the courage to face Mark. He was going to be face-to-face with him after what felt like a lifetime. He could barely believe this was really happening.

Finally, he turned to Harry and nodded.

Harry took the first step, walking towards the door and tugging him along as he rang the bell and stepped back. There was shuffling from the other side, a child screaming, a shout before the door opened and revealed a woman.

She was fairly young but the wrinkles, the frown lines, the bags under her eyes proved to make her look older than she actually was. She looked a lot like Johannah in some ways, her hair colour, her eye colour. Therefore, she was naturally stunning. Behind her stood a young boy, maybe three years old, eyes twinkling as he stared at the strangers in front of him.

Louis felt bile growing in the back of his throat.

The woman’s eyes lightened though, opening the door wide.

“Louis, you must be?” She asked, beckoning the two of them through. “Mark is going to be so happy to see you here, dear Lord!”

Louis walked into the house despite how uncertain he felt, toeing off his Vans and waiting for Harry to follow. They were both apprehensive about this. The woman, however, seemed comfortable and inviting.

“I assume you don’t know about me,” she laughed, “I’m Avery. I’m Mark’s fiancée and this is our son, Jacob.”

Jacob was a startling image of Louis. He had shaggy light brown hair, falling past his forehead with light blue eyes. He was dressed in a denim jacket with a hat over his hand, toys in his hand as he looked at Louis, bewildered.

His brother.

Louis’ heart started hammering and suddenly, this proved to be a bad idea. He wanted to take the first train out of here, he wanted to go back to comfort and familiarity. That was not present in Bath. He couldn’t even look Jacob in the eye. He realised, with another start, that Jacob would be left fatherless after Mark’s death. He felt sick to his stomach as he turned away and put his head on Harry’s shoulder.

Harry was responsive. He instantly drew him closer, exhaling.

Before Louis could bolt for the door, run towards the sun and away, Mark appeared in the doorway.

Mark still looked the same as Louis remembered him. Chubby, short and thick black glasses perched on his nose. He was still dressing in the same style too—button downs and chinos. The only difference was, he looked terrible now. He was weak, his cheekbones had sunken in, remnants of trauma and pain flashed all across his wrinkled, sagging features. He had no hair, completely bald. He looked sick. He was sick, Louis remembered cruelly.

The years hadn’t been kind to Mark.

Louis felt his throat close up and he had a desire to run, to cry, to let out these feelings within him. He felt horrible just looking at Mark, remembering what used to be and what was now. He’s not sure whether Mark deserved it or not.

Harry was squeezing his hand so tight he felt like his bones were going to shatter.

Mark lips twitched upwards, a faint ghost of a smile. “Hey, son.”

Louis wanted to choke on his tears that were building up behind his eyes, his throat feeling tight and restricted as he tried to remain composed. As much as possible. He had to power through this and then go home, pretend it never happened.

“You look awful.” Was the first thing Louis could manage to say. He didn’t intend his tone to be so harsh.

Mark didn’t seem bothered though, merely shrugging in agreement before his eyes turned to Harry.

“And this is?”

Harry cleared his throat, nodding in acknowledge. “I’m Harry Styles. Louis’... um, best friend.”

“Nice to meet you, Harry and so nice to know you came, Louis. Please, come in,” Mark beckoned them in.

Louis shook his head, tugging on Harry’s hand.

“Would you excuse us for a minute?”

Louis didn’t wait for the dismissal. Suddenly, the room felt like a vaccum and he couldn’t breathe. He pulled Harry out of the house, out into the open and pulled Harry towards him. He buried in his chest, needing to breathe, needing his lungs to expand with air. Louis couldn’t believe he was here, facing Mark again.

Somehow, Harry knew exactly what he needed in this moment. He enveloped his strong arms around Louis, holding him in place and providing shelter. Louis focused on Harry’s heartbeat in his chest, the fast pitter and patter. Tears built up in his eyes as he thought of Mark, his evidently sick face, and of Jacob.

“He’s going to die,” Louis whimpered pathetically, his eyes shutting and his chin trembling. “He’s going to fucking die.”

Harry didn’t respond. It was the truth and there wasn’t anything he could offer to consolidate him. Instead, he sighed and stroke his back in a comforting manner. Louis let a few tears slip, not able to keep them back as he kept nodding into Harry’s chest. He could accept this. He had to accept this.

A few minutes later, they finally made their way back in.

Mark was waiting anxiously by the doorway. He was supporting his weight against the door. The act of just standing up seemed to be taking up his energy. Louis felt guilt swimming through his veins.

“Sorry,” Louis said, his voice hushed. “Let’s.. Um, yeah. Let’s go inside.”

The house was modern and grand. There was furniture that looked foreign, too beautiful to belong in this house in Bath. The TV was huge, plastered on the wall and one side of the large living room was devoted to Jacob entirely.

“Nice house,” Harry commented idly.

Mark’s eyes filtered to him, smiling. “Thanks, mate. My woman is a doctor, she treated us to this lovely upgrade. Very happy for it.”

They sat down on the sofa. Mark sat opposite them on the armchair. Louis didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t stop fidgeting with his hands. Harry reached over, trying to halt the actions. They were both out of their element in this situation.

Finally, Mark broke the silence.

“So, how have you been, son?” His voice was croaky.

Louis wanted to scream, shout as he felt the anger boiling up inside of him. He wanted to release the pent-up frustration, he wanted to set Mark right and to tell him to stop calling him ‘son’. But, he sat there. Frozen. Unable to speak.

Harry filled in the silence. “I’m, um, Harry Styles. We attend University today.”

Mark raised a brow, grateful for any conversation. “Oh? What university?”

“Guildhall performing arts? I’m not sure if you—”

“I know of it,” Mark confirmed, sounding a little awed as he looked down at his hands. “Oh, wow. Guildhall. Isn’t that the private one?”

“It is indeed, sir. But Louis got full scholarship.” Harry announced with pride evident in his voice.

Louis smiled faintly to himself, still looking at the ground. Despite everything, he could feel the flutter of his heart in his chest.

Mark nodded. “Holy. That’s just… superb, Louis. I’m really… really happy for you, truly. Is it your last year?”

The question was directed at him directly so he raised his head to speak for the first time.

“Yeah, then I’ll have graduated.”

“What are you planning to do after?”

“Well, my degree will be in Theatre so I hope something to do with acting.”

Mark’s eyes widened. “Y-yeah, that sounds good.”

Louis felt strange and the bones in his body ached. Here he was, after all these years, yet they’re talking about his education, making small talk. Everything he imagined about his reunion with his father wasn’t going the right way. This felt awkward and wrong.

Avery stood up, firmly steering Jacob towards the door as she looked to Harry.

“Come with me, Harry. Let’s give the father and the son some time.”

Harry looked uncertain, his eyes darting towards Louis for confirmation. Louis gave him a nod, smiling. When he received the go-ahead, he got up and followed after the mother and son to the kitchen.

Then, it was only Louis and Mark.

Before the father could say anything, Louis took over.

“Why did you leave?” He cut straight to the chase, the hard hitting question coming out of him.

Mark looked startled by the sudden turn of events and the unabashed question. But he didn’t waste a beat to reply.

“You know why, Louis. I can explain this a thousand times but the truth won’t change and I’m truly sorry about that. Your mother and I just weren’t getting along anymore, there was nothing left between us.”

“I can understand that,” Louis said in a patient tone. “I know couples break apart, sometimes, it’s only inevitable. But you left, Mark. You didn’t say goodbye, you didn’t… I thought.. I thought you were my dad?”

Mark’s eyes narrowed. “I am—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

“Well, am I not?”

“No, Mark. You’re not. You’re not my biological father and now, you don’t deserve to be anything to me. You have a son, Jacob and I see you’ve given him a good life.”

“I still love you, Louis.”

“No, you don’t,” Louis’ eyes flashed up to him, a hint of danger behind them as he shook his head. “Don’t insult me like this, you don’t. You don’t leave somebody you love without a word, just a wad of cash like I want money, you don’t leave them and then never call, text. You don’t make someone think they can call you their father and then go back on what that word means. You just don’t.”

“I admit, I made some mistakes—”

Some mistakes?” He said incredulously, shaking his head in disbelief. “You have some fucking nerves, I’ll tell you that much.”

“I was scared.”

“You only called me because you’re dying. Because you want some redemption, this was for you because you’re afraid you’ll die without seeing me once. None of this was meant to be for me.”

Mark shook his head, growing agitated but his voice remaining steady. “No, Louis. That wasn’t my aim, this wasn’t for my own sick pleasure! I did this because I needed you to hear this from my own mouth before I died!”

“What?!”

“That I love you!” He was yelling now before he paused, exploding into a fit of coughs. His hands moved up to cradle his head, eyes narrowing to slits. “I’m sorry. I get bad headaches, they just—God.”

Louis’ chest swelled with concern. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” He paused, sighing. “I love you, Louis. I know you don’t want me to say this but you’re my son, you always have been and there’ll never be enough apologises I can say that’ll make this right. But, I’m sorry. I regret my actions everyday.”

“As you should.”

“I just felt like.. It felt too hard if I say goodbye, I wouldn’t of left.”

“The Coward's way out was easy for you? Nice one, Mark.” Louis sneered.

Mark’s face fell. “You hate me.”

Louis’ stomach felt like it was melting with the pain he was feeling. “I-I… do you blame me if I did? Really?”

“Of course not.”

“I still love you, you were my father and you showed me what being a father meant but I hate you, because you also showed me the very opposite. That hurt, okay?” Louis addressed, his voice raw and scratchy. “It hurt when you walked out like I meant nothing, like the girls meant anything. I understand you and mum weren’t getting along, I get it more than anything but coming home to hear you’ve left. I don’t think I can get over it.”

“Louis—”

“We have a new step-dad, sort of, since mum is afraid to marry him. I’ve hardly bonded with him, barely talked to him, for the past three years because I’m afraid. I’m scared I’ll get attached and then he’ll up and leave. Yet, he’s done nothing for me to feel that irrational fear.”

“Louis… son.”

“And I blame you for that. For every time I distance from a father figure, for every time I regret love that comes towards me because I’m scared. I blame you because you’ve shown me how easy it is, to just leave, like you did.”

Mark looked torn. “Please.”

“I think we’re done here,” Louis announced, feeling light and wanting to leave before he burst into tears. He wasn’t going to make a show of his feelings. He shook his head, walking towards the door before pausing and turning around. “I really hope you get some peace. You look awful. I’m sorry about the cancer.”

He walked out of the room, his heart tearing in his ribs as he searched for Harry.

Harry was standing by the kitchen, his chin in his fingers and he looked anxious, trying to listen to Avery and failing. Louis called for him.

He looked up, eyes flooding with emotion. He abandoned Avery and Jacob immediately, walking towards him with his arms wide open. Louis shook his head, grabbing the hand instead and hastily walking out of the house before they were asked to stay. They were done with this chapter of Louis’ life.

Chapter Text


Coldplay - X&Y

 

“He refuses to talk about it,” Harry sighed.

Niall gave him a sympathetic look, stuffing his mouth with another forkful of chow mein and frowning. “Like, not at all?”

He shook his head. “I tried.. You know, to get him to talk about it? He just refuses. He won’t tell me what they talked about before he stormed out.”

“So what did you do after you left the house?”

“We literally caught the next train home, we came back and he went home on his own. Claimed he needed space.”

“Have you talked to him since?”

Harry’s lips trembled, he felt like he was going to cry when he thought about it so he buried his face in his Chinese takeaway. He shook his head before sighing, correcting himself with a shrug.

“I mean…” He started. “We have talked, obviously. We see each other too but he’s distant. He’s so faraway and I don’t know, I don’t want to push him? I don’t want him to talk about it if he doesn’t want to.”

Niall took a second to process the words before nodding with a sigh.

“Look, mate. It’s obviously going to be hard, innit? He saw his father after so long, the conversation obviously didn’t go to plan so who wouldn’t feel bad about it?” He questioned. “Give him time, he’ll come around.”

“It’s been more than a week.”

“So? That’s not even a quarter of the time compared to how long he hadn’t seen Mark.”

Harry sighed. “I just feel uneasy. I don’t know how to act around him, how to make him feel better,” he stabbed his chopstick in the noodles, growing increasingly frustrated with the whole situation. It was bad of him, he knew that but he couldn’t help it. “Despite the fact that I like Louis, a lot, I’m just… there’s still so much about him I don’t know—like—what the hell makes him feel better?”

“It’s not your duty to make him feel better, H. Sometimes, you simply cannot make someone feel better. It’s not that easy. Sometimes, the person has to snap out of it themselves.”

“I miss him.”

Niall looked up then, his eyes softening. “Harry.. He’s right here, you don’t… listen, he’ll snap back, okay? Just give him time.”

Harry nodded, fiddling with his phone and continuously refreshing his gmail.

“I haven’t heard back from University of Arts London,” Harry said then, his finger still brushing over the screen of his phone. “I applied more than ten days ago, people usually hear back by now.”

“Listen, it’s a postgraduate degree, they would be stupid if they didn’t accept you. Stop worrying.”

“What if I don’t get in?”

Niall shook his head. “This negative talk, I’m not feeling it, Harry! This is so unlike you! Who wouldn’t accept you? You sent in an magnificent audio of you singing, UAL are dying for you.”

“I’ve just never studied Music, I’m feeling nervous.”

Niall nodded, understanding clear in his features. “Does Louis know you’ve applied for Masters?”

“Um…” Harry bit his lips, shaking his head regretfully. “No, I’ve not told him.”

Harry!”

“I’m sorry!” He held his hand up in surrender. “I just, he has so much going on, why’d he care about this?”

“Because he lo—um, why the hell not?”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “What did you say?”

Niall eyes widened, looking down. “N-nothing!”

“What did you say, Niall?”

Before he could reply, the front door opened and Liam appeared. He threw his jacket on the ground before running over to Harry and embracing him tightly. Harry chuckled, his heart warming as he let himself be strangled by Liam’s strong arms around his neck.

“What’s all this love for?” Harry asked with a nervous laugh.

“I just love you, yeah? And you too, Niall. My best mates, truly, no one could ever compare! Not even my love for Zayn!” He paused, correcting himself. “Well, actually… Um, that’s debatable but you get my point!”

“What do you want, Payne?” Niall asked suspiciously.

“Nothing! Just my best mates and Chinese food, perfect night-in!”

The rest of the evening and night was spent in the same way. They took their Chinese takeaway to the couch, switching on a movie and conversing back and forth as they ate. Harry felt more at ease than he had in awhile. He had needed a break from Louis but felt too guilty to do so. He, now, realised that a moment away from the man he loved was only healthy and necessary.

He fell asleep with a clear, content mind, texting Louis a quick goodnight and being mindful not to slip the ‘I love you’ alongside with it.

**

The next morning, a loud buzz from his phone woke Harry up.

At first, he thought it was a text message from Louis and any communication from him, Harry liked to soak up. He reached out for his smartphone, already smiling as he unlocked his phone but only startled when he realised it was a notification from UCAS. That meant it was either an acceptance, or rejection, from UAL.

Harry’s heart was hammering out of his chest as he clicked on the link, logging into the website and closing his eyes as the page loaded up.

He felt nerves in the pit of his stomach, bile in his throat growing—too sick to look at the change of status. It was either an acceptance, an offer, or it was an rejection and Harry’s dream for studying Music was over before it had even begun.

He imagined Louis sitting before him, encouraging him to read it.

With that in mind, Harry opened his eyes and looked down at his phone screen.

‘University of Arts London present an unconditional offer for the course: Music Production and Composition, Postgraduate Course’

Harry’s eyes widened, tears stinging his eyes from the relief, the joy, all the hard work that he had been bottling up inside of him finally acknowledged. His phone fell out of his grip as he choked on the first sob, shaking his head in disbelief.

He thought he’d never get the chance to study what he truly loved and desired. He thought Music was always going to be a far, distant dream but he had taken the opportunity. On a whim, followed by some encouragement from Niall, Harry had applied last minute, just before the deadline.

Now, Harry was sitting with an acceptance from his chosen University for his chosen course.

He gave himself two seconds to compose himself before picking his phone back up, calling Louis.

Louis accepted the call barely three rings later, his voice still dripping with slumber as he talked through the line.

“Harry?” He questioned, sounding raspy and Harry’s heart soared at how sexy he sounded in the morning through the phone. “It’s… bloody hell, it’s 8am. Do you mind—”

“I got accepted!”

There was a pause. “Accepted?”

“Yes!”

“Um… I’m, like, thoroughly confused and it’s eight-am I’m going back to sleep.”

“I got accepted onto a Masters course for Music.” Harry said quickly, in a rush, afraid that he would hang up and he wouldn’t be able to tell him. His voice was giddy but after the words came out, it suddenly felt ten times more real and Harry started crying, again.

“Baby..” Louis sounded awed, surprised but dripping with pride. “Baby, baby! What? What did you say?!”

Harry laughed, his sobs coming out choked. “I applied for a postgraduate degree and I got accepted, Lou.”

“Where?! When?!”

“UAL, babe. I applied a week ago.”

“Holy shit,” Louis breathed out, laughing so loud through the line and Harry felt like everything just felt right in this moment.

He wanted to capture this moment and live in it forever.

“I know!”

“You didn’t even tell me you applied!” Louis said, sounding outraged but voice still light. “Look, babe, I know it’s early and you’re gonna catch the morning rush hour but shit, get your ass down here, right now! This calls for celebrations!”

**

The minute Harry had walked into Louis’ unlocked apartment, he was being pushed against the wall.

Louis crowded him, attacking him with kisses all over his cheeks as he giggled, dropping his head into Louis’ neck. He couldn’t remember the last time in this past week and a half Louis had been this enthusiastic about anything.

“Harry,” he said, shaking his head. “You silly, silly boy. You didn’t tell me but I’m so, so happy for you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, no. Shit, don’t be!” Louis laughed, tilting his head up with a finger under his chin before connecting their lips together. It was chaste and perfect. “I’m just so bloody proud of you, UAL, as well. Always the overachiever.”

“I thought I wouldn’t get it.”

“You were stupid to think so!” Louis shook his head, kissing him again. “So, so stupid.” Between each word, he delivered another kiss on Harry’s lips. “Baby, I’m so proud of you, so happy for you. I know you’ll love it.”

Harry smiled, cheeks red. “I hope so. I’ve wanted to study this for so long.”

“It’s finally happening!”

“It’s all down to you,” he confessed quietly. “You gave me hope, made me feel like I had a voice worth sharing.”

“Harry,” Louis tutted, shaking his head. “No, it’s down to you and your bravery to chase what you love doing.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.”

He sighed. “I’ve not exactly been the most approachable person, have I? I don’t blame you, not one bit.”

“No, no—”

“Don’t make excuses for me,” Louis said, holding his head and leading him through the apartment. They sat down on the sofa together. “I know I’ve been a shit and I’m sorry. I guess, I was just processing everything.”

“That’s okay, Lou,” he promised, entwining their fingers. “It’s only normal for you to.. You know, be a little dazed about everything.”

“You’re so bloody patient with me.”

“I kinda have to be, don’t I?” Harry raised a brow.

Louis laughed, shaking his head before connecting their lips together. This time, it was deeper and before they knew it, it became a clash of dominance as Louis climbed into his lap. Their tongues met and Harry’s stomach warmed as Louis started rutting down on him. He moaned, his head falling back.

Louis pulled away with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“I needed to ask you something, actually.”

“Anything.”

He smiled. “Eager much, Styles.”

“Always.”

Louis shook his head fondly, one finger tracing Harry’s lips. “I’d like to ask you out on a second date, if you’ll let me.”

Harry paused, eyes warming.

“Of course, you absolute idiot.”

“Ever the romantic, Harry.”

“Shut up and suck my dick, please.”

Louis smirked. “My pleasure.”

**

Harry looked over his attire for their second official date. He was being treated by Louis and he wanted to look his best. He was wearing a yellow shirt, the buttons undone till his stomach to reveal his prominent butterfly tattoo. To pair with the shirt, he was wearing faded black skinny jeans with his favourite vintage, light brown boots.

He was waiting for Louis to pick him up at 7PM sharp.

Liam was leaning against the door, his arm around Zayn as he whistled.

“Looking hot, Harry,” he commented.

Harry turned around, facing away from the mirror and flushed red as he nodded.

“Thank you, Li.”

“You look so nervous!” He laughed, walking over to him and loosening up Harry’s collar, smiling wide. “Stop, it’s only Louis!”

“Ah. I know. I don’t know why I feel so..”

Zayn smirked, joining Liam’s side. “It’s Louis, isn’t it? He’s so naturally intimidating. Don’t worry, Harry. You’ve wormed your way into his heart. Unfortunately, there’s no way out now.”

Just then, Harry’s phone buzzed with a notification that Louis was standing outside.

He expected they’d be taking the tube to the appropriate station, followed by dinner and maybe dessert. He was okay with the typical route. He didn’t need much to woo him. As long as he was spending the evening and rest of the night with Louis, he was quite content.

“I guess I gotta go, then,” Harry smiled at his phone, dismissing the notification and stuffing his wallet in his back pocket though he was sure he wasn’t going to be allowed to use it.

Liam kissed his cheeks. “Have fun, darling! Home before midnight!”

“Sod off!” Harry called out, waving at both of them as he exited his apartments and ran down the stairs out of excitement.

Louis was standing outside, waiting, as expected. He was wearing a grey polo top, tight fitting with a slouchy, casual black blazer thrown on top. He had paired it all with black skinny jeans and grey trainers. His face lit up at the appearance of Harry and immediately pulled him in for a hug, pecking the side of Harry’s neck.

“Evening,” Harry whispered, snuggling into him.

He inhaled deeply, sighing. “So, so happy we’re finally doing this. I’ve been waiting all day!”

“Hungry?”

“You bet.”

“C’mon, then,” Harry pulled away, grabbing his oyster.

Louis furrowed his brow, shaking his head and grabbing the oyster card off him. “You got it wrong if you think we’re going on the rush hour trains for our date,” he laughed like he was offended the idea was even being considered. “I got us an Uber, of course but the driver is about to lose his mind if we wait any longer!”

They got into the Volkswagen car as Louis muttered out an address to the driver. As they settled in, Louis leaned under the seat and brought back up a bouquet of roses. Harry’s heart warmed instantly at the sight of them, his mouth dropping open.

“Um, a little something?” Louis said sheepishly, bringing the flowers to his nose and sniffing them. “Do you like them?” He handed them over.

Harry took it off him eagerly, nodding enthusiastically before inhaling the fresh, light floral scent from the red roses. He had never been given flowers before, despite the different array of men he had dated, so this was a real treat.

“I love them!” He promised, hugging the flowers to his chest. “How’d you know roses were my favourite?”

“It wasn’t hard to figure out.”

“Oh, really?” Harry asked with a slight brow raise. “What other flowers are my favourite, then?”

“Easy. Iris.”

He was definitely impressed. “H-how’d you know that?”

Louis laughed, shrugging. “I guess, it was a lucky guess but now thinking about it, I’m not surprised. Both of them are very you.”

The rest of the car journey towards the destination consisted of conversing back and forth about favourite flower types, the meaning behind them, the beautiful colours and why Harry considered flowers an essential part of a relationship. When the driver finally came to a stop outside Covent Garden.

“Oh.” Harry smiled, picking up the flowers as he thanked the driver, exiting the vehicle. “This may be my favourite place in London.”

Louis joined by his side, holding his hand as they began the walk towards Covent Garden. The bustling environment in this part of the city was always lively. There was always people, markets, shops, restaurants. Everything was pleasant in Covent Garden.

“Every place is your favourite in London!” Louis laughed, shaking his head.

Harry squeezed their hands. “It’s not my fault I live in the most beautiful place in the world.”

He let out a small chuckle before sighing. “You know, Harry, it’s funny.”

“What?”

“Before I met you, I hated London and I didn’t understand the appeal but since I met you, I see it. I see why people love it. I see the beauty. I wish I could see it through your eyes, though.”

Harry felt his heart melt to a puddle for the hundredth time today as he lifted their twined hands, pecking Louis’. “Hopefully, I can show you.”

Louis came to a stop outside a restaurant named ‘Clos Maggiore’. Harry had faintly heard about this restaurant online, how it had been voted the world’s most romantic restaurant and suddenly, his heart started accelerating. Louis walked in, announcing his reservation as they were led to a magnificent room.

The room was large and full to the brim with customers, scattered across the tables, sipping at expensive wine. The entire ceiling of the room was glass, creating an airy atmosphere and was covered in flowers. It was hanging low, but nowhere near the dining tables, and had white petals. It was a stunning, romantic restaurant and Harry felt like even if he captured this room, it wouldn’t do any justice.

Louis looked pleased with his choice as they settled down on the table right in the centre of the room.

The waiter handed two menus, promising to be around in fifteen minutes for their orders before walking off and leaving them alone to decide.

Harry looked towards Louis, gobsmacked.

“This is just… wow, so stunning,” Harry breathed out in disbelief, his finger grazing over the laminate menu and shaking his head as he kept looking around the place.

Louis was blushing. “Zayn helped me pick it out. I agree. It’s really… just one of a kind, to be honest. And you can only get that in London.”

“It’s a French cuisine?” He questioned.

“Mhmm. All on me tonight, go crazy with the food!”

They opted for a shared starter of ‘Hand Picked Dorset Crab’. Louis ordered ‘Oven Roasted Iberico Pork Fillet’ for his main meal whilst Harry chose ‘Pan Seared Organic Irish Sea Trout’. Since the restaurant had an impressive wine collection, Louis ordered a bottle of the most expensive one he could find on the menu: Monbazillac, Château Belingard, 2011. Needless to say, the meal was adding up steadily to three digits.

The food was deliciously mouth-watering and Harry kept edging for another bite. Their ankles were touching underneath their table as they ate and talked. The conversation was light yet enjoyable, never a dull or awkward moment between them. Harry adored how they could hold serious conversations with each other without ruining the weight of the moment.

Louis was perfect. He talked about his ambitions, about his mother and how she was doing, about her hopes of marrying Dan and asked for Harry’s true opinion. He was happy to supply that Dan seemed like a great guy and that marriage seemed reasonable.

“Louis,” Harry asked, carefully as he traced his finger around the rim of his glass. “Will you tell me about Mark, now? I’ve been… um, waiting.”

Louis looked up surprised, narrowing his eyes before shrugging. “What about him?”

“We visited him and you just haven’t talked about it or mentioned it.”

“Because I’d rather not,” Louis replied stubbornly.

“Harry knew this was a fight he was going to lose. But, he had to try. He knew Louis had a lot to say about the meeting and he was waiting for him to talk about it.

“Please, Louis,” his voice dropped to a whisper. “Look, I understand this is difficult for you and if you really don’t want to, we don’t have to. But I want you to trust me and I want you to be able to talk to me at any time.”

Louis sighed, his eyes showing remorse as he nodded. “It’s not that… I trust you, Harry. More than you’ll believe, trust me. I don’t know why.. Like, I guess I’m still having difficulties to process this all?”

“I’m listening,” he promised, reaching over to grasp Louis’ hands over the table.

Louis flushed at the contact and looked down at his plate. “I’m finding it hard to believe that might be the last time I ever interact with Mark. That he may be dead tomorrow, the week after and I—”

“Babe..”

“He may be dead and the last time I talked to him, all I did was shout like a fucking idiot.”

“You were angry, Lou. You can’t blame yourself for that.”

Louis nodded instantly. “I was. I was so angry, Harry. I saw red whenever I saw him but now… looking back on it, I realise… oh, god,” he shook his head and buried it in his hand for a moment.

Harry was patient, allowed him to compose himself and stroked the back of Louis’ knuckles with his thumb.

Finally, he looked back up and continued. “I realise I let my temper get the best of me. I had one chance to make things right, to say a goodbye, even. But I didn’t take it.”

“It’s not too late,” Harry reminded him. “We can go back, anytime. You say the word and we’ll go back.”

Louis’ lips curled downwards. “What’s worst is, I can’t stop thinking about Jacob.”

“Jacob? The son?”

“Mm. He’s my brother.”

“He is.”

“He’s going to lose his dad,” Louis’ voice dropped further, sniffling. “He’s going to be fatherless, just like we were and I really… I can’t stop thinking about it, Harry.”

“It’s terrible,” he agreed.

“I want to get to know Jacob. I feel so much for him.”

“We can, Louis. We can do whatever you’d like. We can go back, we can call them if it’s too much. The decision is all yours.”

Louis nodded, thoughtful. “I’ll let you know.”

When they were done with their dinner, there simply was no place for dessert left. They were both full, their stomachs bulging.

“You’re crazy.” Harry commented, pushing the empty plate away from him and shaking his head. “Insane. These crazy places, these prices. You’re ridiculous, Louis!”

Louis shrugged, handing his credit card over when the waiter gave the bill. He barely blinked over the triple digit number.

“I like to treat you.”

“You’ve been treating me too often. My birthday, the random expensive bottles of alcohol you bring. Do I need to step up my game?”

Louis took the card off him, muttering his thanks in French before standing up.

“Absolutely not!” He told Harry, his eyes crinkling. “C’mon babe, I got something I want to show you. Come on.”

Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars

They took the tube up to London Bridge. During the train ride, their knees kept brushing together as they teased each other. Louis kept complaining about he had exams coming up for TV production and that Harry was totally a distraction. Harry kept tickling his side, causing them to collapse on each other. They tried to ignore the looks they got from everyone as they laughed breathlessly on each other, over the seats. When they emerged from the station, they took the short walk to The Shard. The building is magnificent, one of the tallest buildings in Europe, and neither of them had been here before.

“Are we going up?”

Louis hummed, nodding. “We sure are.”

They took the lifts up to the 31st floor where the restaurant: Aqua Shard was but Louis didn’t direct them into the restaurant. Instead, he walked to the glass windows that outlooked over the view of London city in the night. The buildings were illuminated by, the dark of the sky overlooking on the view.

“Holy fuck,” Harry muttered, walking over to the windows and placing a hand over it, looking down. “This is… everything is so stunning about tonight.”

“I can be quite romantic when I want to be.”

“This is amazing, Louis. I love it.”

They spent a few minutes just appreciating the view from the window on the 31st floor. From up here, life seemed so small down there but everything kept moving. The lights kept flickering, the cars kept driving on the road. Harry took out his phone, unable to resist the perfect opportunity to snap a few photos. He mentally made a note to send them to Gemma later when he was alone.

“We can go in and grab a drink?” Louis suggested, his thumb pointing to the restaurant. “We… I just thought, we don’t have to—”

“No, no,” Harry smiled. “We can stay right here for a minute or so longer. I love this view.”

They stood side by side, hand in hand, watching the life of the city below them. Harry had many thoughts circling his mind, many words he wanted to say but he trapped them within himself. Right now, this moment in time, everything was perfect. He never wanted to change anything about this.

“Come here,” Louis whispered.

Harry twisted to face Louis, his lips breaking out in a smile involuntarily as they held hands. Louis pulled him closer, his hands settling on his waist, squeezing gently. They were staring at each other contentedly, their smiles growing an inch wider the longer they looked. The minutes passed. Harry didn’t want to look away.

His focused on Louis’ eyes, how they were glistening, his wet lips, his nose and the tiny freckles, his warm cheeks, his eyebrows. He looked relaxed. He looked comfortable. Everything felt right and everything fitted in this moment.

“Kiss me.”

Louis obeyed to the order, ducking down and connecting their lips together. It was a soft, beautiful kiss that caused butterflies to erupt in Harry’s stomach. Though he had felt these pair of lips on his many times before, it felt different today. It felt real. It felt significant. It felt like a tingle that went down his spine, it felt like he was starving and needed more.

Louis pulled away before shaking his head, their lips touching again.

Harry’s hands settled on Louis’ cheeks, cupping them and pressing his fingers down on the skin as he kissed back firmly.

When they pulled away for the fourth time, they were giggling and were red in the face like they were teenagers who had just discovered what kissing was. Louis was almost shy, his hand running through his hair.

“Can I ask you something, Harry?”

Harry raised a brow, smiling. “Sure, babe?”

“Um… I.. I’ve kinda never done this?” He said, timid as he shuffled his weight on his feet. “But, um. Do you… like, God—” He put his head in his hands, taking a deep breath before looking up, all apprehensive wiped clear and confidence startlingly apparent. “You make want to try, you make me want to believe I am capable of love. So, even though this probably is my first time, Harry Styles, would you please be my boyfriend?”

“Fuck, yes!” He replied within a seconds pause, his heart soaring out of his chest at the question. He thought it’d never come.

“Jesus. A bit eager—” However the words were cut off because their lips were reconnected as they stumbled, their backs hitting the glass, laughing into each other’s house from true joy.

**

Louis was sitting on his bed, his phone in his hands as they trembled with the hold. Harry had been cooking in the kitchen, absentmindedly head bopping to the songs as they blared through the radio. He had been blissfully unaware of what Louis was doing in the bedroom. But now, as he walked back with two plates of pasta, he found Louis shaking.

He instantly put the plates on one side, walking over to him and climbing into the bed. He waited for Louis to look up, to acknowledge him—but he didn’t.

Harry put a hand over his thighs to subside the shaking, wanting to bring him back down to Earth. He always felt so out of his element whenever Louis got like this, he had no idea how to really make him feel better. Louis was, nearly always, a closed book and it was hard to read between the lines.

Louis, finally, looked up with fear swimming in his eyes.

“I called my mum.”

Harry frowned but nodded, sensing the bad news. “Okay..?”

“She yelled at me.”

“Oh, babe.. Why?”

“She was angry at me, for what I said about Mark, to Mark.”

He shot him a sympathetic look, squeezing his hold over Louis’ thighs. “What did she say?”

Louis sniffled. “She said I was ungrateful, I should’ve stayed and listened. That I was wrong for not even asking about his illness, for not talking to Jacob.”

“Surely, she must understand what was going through your mind?” He asked, his frown growing because it sounded out of character for Johannah.

He shrugged. “I don’t think she does.”

“It’s not your fault that you reacted the way you did, Louis,” Harry told him, his voice firm so it was abundantly clear. “You were pushed into a corner. When you arrived in Bath, you didn’t even know he had a son! You reacted the only way you knew how to, babe and you can’t continue to beat yourself up about this.”

Louis looked down at his legs. “But, I shouldn’t of.”

“Maybe. We all make mistakes and maybe, you made this one but it doesn’t seem your reaction is wrong.”

“What shall I do, Harry? She’s so angry.”

Harry hummed, sighing. “I’d suggest… calling her back in a few days, talking to her. I’d consider talking to Mark again, if it’s going to bother you.”

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to,” he reminded him. “It’s your father, your situation—you’re allowed to react in whatever way you want to.”

“I should’ve controlled myself, Harry.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. I… If I saw my father after so many years, I don’t think I’d be able to control myself either.”

Louis looked up at that, raising a brow. “Really?”

He nodded. “Hell, yeah. I mean, Alan deserves it, anyway but that’s besides the point.”

Louis tried to smile. “I think I’ll talk to Mark again, yeah?”

“If that’s what you want, babe.”

**

A few days later, Louis called Johannah and talked their argument through. She was regretful for her tone of voice, claiming she had simply been upset about Mark dying and the fact that he had a son and she was unaware. Louis told her it was okay, that he understood why she was upset. That was the end of it.

He didn’t call Mark, though.

Instead, he texted him his apologies and warm wishes before deleting and blocking his number.

It was enough.

Justin Timberlake - Cry Me A River
**

Harry was sitting in the library, waiting for Louis, when his phone started ringing. He had been working on his last assignment for Theatre all day and was growing increasingly frustrated with it. He was grateful for the distraction. He assumed it was Gemma, had been waiting for her call all day, so he picked up without looking at the caller ID.

“Gemma!” He greeted cheerfully in the phone, his voice hushed due to the environment he was studying in as he lowered his pen and smiled wide. “Finally! I have so much to tell you about Louis, you were right! He wanted to take me on a—”

“So. It’s true, then?”

Harry’s words died in his throat, freezing out of shock as the voice that came through the line was certainly not Gemma’s. His mind slowed down, turning to mush, as he came to the realisation it was Alan.

“D-dad—”

“Louis Tomlinson, wasn’t it?” Alan continued, oblivious to Harry’s turmoil. He tutted, sounding unimpressed. “You’ve been attached to the hip with that guy, isn’t it? I guess, I’ve finally figured out why.”

“W-what… what?”

“He wanted to take you on what?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

Harry’s breath was coming out uneven, paralysed with fear. “Dad. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play stupid with me, Harry.”

“Listen, I gotta go—”

“Listen here, you queer bastard. You’re not going anywhere!”

“Dad.”

“You listen up, and you tell me the truth, or you just watch what I’ll do. Do you fucking understand me?!”

Alan’s voice was sharp, full of venom and Harry’s heart stopped in his chest. He felt his hands shake, he tried to bury one between his thighs as he gulped and nodded before realising Alan wasn’t standing before him.

“Yes.”

“Good.” Alan sneered. “You finish your line now, boy.”

“I-I… I can’t,” Harry whimpered, weak and torn.

He let out a startled sinister laugh. “Let me help you out. ‘Louis wanted to take me on a date’, am I correct?”

So far in their relationship, though Alan had a good idea about his sexuality, he chose to remain in the dark. He liked to pretend it was a big joke. He forced women upon Harry, fake and arranged dates. He joked about his son with guests, making him out to be a womaniser so rumours would spread like a wildfire. He had never, ever, addressed anything linked to Harry’s homosexuality directly before.

Yet, here he was. He was talking and asking about it openly, without a moment of hesitance, his voice like steel.

Harry felt unable to speak, his mouth clamped shut with the fear. He hadn’t anticipated this phone call—not now, maybe not ever.

“Answer me, Harry.”

“S-sir…”

“I’ve heard some dirty rumours, Harry,” Alan continued, his voice contorting to something disgusted. “Absolutely degrading, disgusting rumours but what makes it sadder, this boy had proof.”

“Proof?”

“Of you two kissing.”

“W-what?”

“You’re dating a boy, Harry!” Alan bellowed, his voice growing in volume. “And God forbid, I will end you before I will ever let that happen!”

Harry was shaking, eyes red with fury as he jumped up from his seat. He left his belongings exactly where they were, feeling sick to his stomach as he ran to the bathroom. It was empty. He was grateful as he got behind a stall, locking the door.

“Dad, listen—”

“Go on, boy. Just try and deny it to me, when I’ve seen pictures.”

“Dad… you.. You’ve always known.”

“I have.”

“It’s just… I really like..”

Tears brimmed his eyes, stinging him, he felt fatigue evident in every aching bone in his body. He suddenly felt too tired to be alive. Too tired to be breathing. He wanted to bury himself deep in the ground, wanted to reverse the minutes back and never pick up this unfateful call.

“You don’t like boys, Harry. You think you do, you’re living a lie and you think this is who you are.”

“This is who I am!”

“No, it’s not!”

“I’m fucking gay, dad!”

“No, you’re not!” Alan cried from the other line, sounding absolutely outraged. “You’re not a faggot, I will not allow this despicable, sinful option you’ve chosen in life!”

“It’s not a fucking choice!” Harry was crying now, tears flowing down his cheeks. “It’s not a fucking choice, I didn’t choose to be like this! I didn’t want to like boys! But, I do! Okay, I do! And I fucking love Lo—”

“You don’t fucking love Louis-fucking-Tomlinson.”

Alan said it in a definite tone.

Harry’s shoulder shook with tremors. “You don’t know anything about me.” His voice was reduced to a hushed whisper, feeling enraged and fury spreading through him, blazing him to life. “You don’t know anything about who I love.”

“Well, I don’t care either. You’re putting an end to this.”

“No, I’m not,” Harry shook his head. “I love him and I’m dating him, dad.”

“I will be dead before I ever let that happen.”

“What are you going to do about it?” Harry challenged, knowing his notch of bravery was only going to bite him in the back later. But he couldn’t resist. He couldn’t stop now. “Are you going to beat the gay out of me, dad? Huh?”

Alan laughed like this was one huge joke to him. “No. I’m not going to do that.”

“That’s a fucking surprise, isn’t it?”

“Louis Tomlinson,” Alan started to say, in his own world, ignoring Harry. “Twenty-one. Doncaster. Son to Johannah Tomlinson, brother to—” He was listing Louis’ life, details, like he was reciting from a book.

Harry’s blood turned cold. “What the fuck? How the fuck do you know this?!”

He continued. “Charlotte, Felicite, Daisy, Phoebe, Doris and Ernest Tomlinson. Full scholarship student at Guildhall, studying TV production and Theatre. Living in Camden, living with the one Paki scholarship dirty boy, Zayn Malik—”

Harry spat on the floor. “I will end you!”

“I’d be careful if I was you,” Alan warned, coming back to the present conversation. “I have the chancellor on speed dial. If I was you, I’d end this petty, ridiculous, stupid phase of a relationship you have. I will know if you haven’t. Otherwise, pretty, poor, peasant Louis can leave Guildhall without a degree.”

A fresh batch of tears overcame Harry. “Please, dad.” He wanted to sink to his knees, he wanted to beg, plead and cry. He wanted to ask for beatings instead. He just wanted to keep Louis safe. He wanted to keep Louis. “Please, please. Please. P-please,” his voice trembled, his lips wobbling as he let out a broken, loud sob. “Please, dad. Please, don’t fucking do this to me.”

“I’ll be waiting to hear what you decide to do.”

The line went dead.

Harry instantly doubled over, stumbling into a cubicle and dropping to his knees. His last meal came up his throat, retching in the toilet as he sobbed openly, loudly. He couldn’t stop the vomit. He couldn’t stop the moisture. He was surrendering.


Coldplay - Warning Sign
**

“Hey, babe.”

Louis approached him, ducking down for a kiss which Harry effectively dodged. Louis took a step back, his brows furrowing in confusion. Usually, there was never any delay in the kiss. He tried to shrug it off, though and ignored the pang in his chest.

“We need to talk.” Harry cut straight to the chase.

Just like that, Louis felt his heart skip a beat.

They were standing outside Guildhall entrance, waiting to run through their last rehearsal of the show before their first performance in a few days. It was a home show. They were only performing the play to the Guildhall students but it was still important. It was pulling together their hard work and giving the show of their lives.

He took another step back, feeling unease at the way Harry was looking everywhere but him.

“What’s wrong, Harry?” He asked, resisting the urge to reach out, to hold him, to ask. He kept his distance, mostly out of the fear he’d be rejected and he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Before him, stood his boyfriend. His one and only boyfriend. Harry was the first person he had considered to do this with and so far, he had no regrets. He had liked, loved even, Harry for a long time. He was relieved to finally settle with him, place a label over their relationship that was continuously progressing. But, he was afraid with every passing second something would go wrong.

This moment, right here, was aiding in confirming those fears.

He tried to keep his thoughts at bay, not wanting to assume the worst right off the bat, and give Harry the benefit of the doubt.

However, Harry shook his head. “I’m… I’m so fucking sorry.” and Louis knew his fears were coming true, by the minute.

“What for?” He pressed on, hoping for a miracle.

“I… I gotta do this.”

“Is something the matter?” He asked, cutting the distance between them so they were standing closer. He needed to feel Harry’s warmth and he needed reassurance. “You’re really scaring me right now, babe.”

“Alan called yesterday.”

Louis froze. “O-oh… okay. What did he say?” He couldn’t help the edge that came through his voice, immediately hardening at the mention of the man who had destroyed and ruined every glimmer of hope and light in Harry.

Harry took a step back. “We… I don’t think. I think I need to warn you.”

“About what, Harry?” The impatience clipped voice came out of him before he could stop it.

“If we don’t stop seeing each other, Alan is going to kick you out of your scholarship.”

Louis’ eyes widened in surprise. He had expected a petty, immature act from Alan but he didn’t expect the man to go this far. He took a step back too this time, needing distance between Harry and himself.

“What? Why?”

Harry’s eyes watered. “Alan knows about us two. I have to stop seeing you.”

“What… what are you doing?”

“I can’t let you lose your scholarship, Louis.”

Louis couldn’t help but register a hot flash of anger. “It’s that easy for you, then?”

Harry’s eyes snapped up. “You think this is easy, Louis? I’m giving up everything so you can be happy, to finish what you started and love.”

He shook his head. “When I asked you to be my boyfriend, I meant it. I want this. I don’t want someone who’s going to throw it all to the wind because an older, privileged man scared him off!”

“I know what my father is capable of,” Harry was shaking his head too, looking outraged and this time, took a step closer. His eyes were electric with pain, he was alive within himself. “I know he’ll do what he says. I know he’ll try to end your life. I’m trying to save you!”

“So your genius idea is we break up?” Louis questioned with a scoff.

“It’s the only logical thing to do.”

“The logical thing is we fight your dad. We don’t let him control your life, or mine, and we show him who's in charge.”

“He’s in charge.”

“No! You’re just scared of him.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Do you blame me, Louis? For being afraid of this man who has controlled, manipulated every part of my life?” He demanded to know, a hint of vulnerability shining through. “I have grown up fearing him, hiding from him. Do you fucking blame me?”

Louis realised they were causing a scene outside the university. People were staring weirdly as they walked past, a few stopping and watching before sniggering. Louis didn’t care, though. His bones felt lit with something ugly. His head was swimming with thoughts. All he really could feel was Harry. He didn’t want to lose Harry.

He didn’t want to lose his one and only boyfriend.

“I’m telling you, Harry, we can get through this. You have to stop worrying about Alan. He’s a psychotic coward. He can’t harm you or me.”

“He can and he has and now he’s coming for you!”

Louis scoffed. “Alan won’t touch me.”

“No, he won’t but he’ll ruin everything else,” he sighed, shaking his head. “The chancellor is already looking out for Alan, making sure we stay apart. It’s probably.. Best that—”

“I can’t believe this.”

“I don’t want to do this, Lou.”

“Yes, you fucking do!” He screamed, unable to bite back the distaste. “You’re seriously giving up so easily. I don’t even want someone who’ll walk away from me that easily! Fuck you, Harry. Fine, have it your goddamn way!”

Louis walked away.

As he began to start the march away from Harry, he realised he was making a grave mistake.

He was walking away from his one and only boyfriend, the one he wanted to devote to. He was walking away because the other way around, Harry ending it, would be more painful. He had to do it before Harry could.

He didn’t care about rehearsals anymore. He didn’t care about the play they’re performing this week. He didn’t care. He was angry, the fury spreading through his body like a flame. He could hear Harry calling out to him, begging for him to come back but he didn’t want to. There was nothing less to say, their last conversation tainting over what was left. He kept walking until he was standing outside the train station, sighing in relief and walking through the barriers.

It wasn’t until he was sitting on the tube that he realised what had just happened.

He no longer had a boyfriend, he thought. Or maybe he does. He didn’t know. He rested his head against the glass, the slow hum of Coldplay playing his ears as he blinked the first sign of moisture in his eyes away.

**

Harry opened his apartment door, trying to smile at the sight of his mother appearing at his house with her driver in tow.

Anne gave the driver a tight smile, informing him of when to pick her up next before the man exited from the apartment block. She dropped the suitcase that was her hands on the floor, like she expected a parade of people behind her to pick it up. Upon recognising Harry waiting for her, her smile grew and her face lit up.

“Darling boy!” She squealed, walking towards him and cupping Harry’s cheeks. She reeked of royalty, a strong feminine cologne scent radiating off her for miles and dressed in the finest of materials. “How are you, Harry? I have missed you.”

Harry offered a smile. Out of both his parents, Anne was the sane one. Though she was overbearing, sometimes hard to spend more than a couple of hours at a time with—she was an exceptional mother.

“Morning, ma,” he told her, letting her in and grabbing her suitcase. “How was the journey?”

“Adam is a great driver, I was just fine. Not too much traffic either.” She told him as she stepped out of her designer heels, putting them to the side and walking to the sofa. “How are you? How are rehearsals? It’s your first show today.”

“Nervous,” Harry told her honestly.

“Are you prepared?”

“Mhm. I am.”

Harry wasn’t prepared, not in the slightest. He wasn’t talking to Louis and they hadn’t practised any of their scenes one last time before the first show tonight. He was afraid that they’d lack chemistry due to their argument, their break-up? He had no idea where they stood anymore. But he knew, deep down, he was making the right choice.

That seemed to be enough reassurance for Anne, though.

“Perfect,” she told him with her award-winning smile. “Fix me a cuppa, will you? One teaspoon of sugar.”

“Sure, ma.”

Harry put the kettle on as he leaned against the counter.

“How’s Gemma?” He asked, picking out his fine china mug. Only the best for his mother, she’d accept no less. He picked out a Yorkshire tea bag, putting it in and pouring the boiling water in. “I haven’t heard from her in two or three days.”

“She’s great. I think she’s travelling, right now. She’ll be back in time for the theatre show.”

Harry hummed, mixing the sugar in and adding the dash of milk. “She’s always travelling, that one. Where to now?”

“I believe Morocco.”

“Awesome.”

Anne accepted the cup of tea, thanking him before blowing on the hot liquid. “Have you started to think about future careers in theatre, Harry? You are graduating from Guildhall in a matter of months, after all.”

Harry sat down opposite her, shrugging. He wondered what she’d think about his masters in Music. The fact that he was willingly adding another year to his education, separate to what she wanted him to do, going against every rule he had been groomed into thinking.

“Not really.”

She tutted unimpressed. “Are you joking? You should’ve had a job confirmed already, Harry.”

“Ma. It’s not that easy.”

“Nonsense! I’ll contact my friends in theatre, see if they can give you anything.”

Harry wanted to argue and tell her the plans he already had. But, he resisted. There was a time and place for everything. If he informed her of his plans now, it’d only blow up and he had enough on his mind as it was.

“Thank you.” He said instead, faking the utmost sincere tone he could muster.

“Alan has been talking about you a lot recently,” Anne informed him, taking a sip of her tea delicately before lowering the cup and staring straight at him. “How he hopes you’ve found a girl and if not, we’ve found someone for you.”

Harry’s heart stopped beating for a second. “Found someone?” He repeated.

“Indeed. Maya, a beautiful lady from Manchester. Her family owns a business too, just like us. I think you both would be a sight together.”

“What?”

“Don’t look so shocked, Harry!” She let out a laugh, though her brows are knitted together in confusion to the lack of his reaction. “You know your father and I want you to settle with someone who’s worth our time and money. Maya is a perfect match. You should meet her, get to know her. She’ll be happy.”

Harry’s throat closed up.

He didn’t have a sufficient reply to her.

The thought of this Maya made his skin crawl, his throat tighten up. He wondered if his parents would ever understand, ever get it.

Instead, he got up. “I got to get ready for my rehearsals,” he informed her, brushing his shirt through. “You already know the address, Adam can drive you there. I have to go.”

**

Louis stood in the empty theatre hall, on the stage, looking out to the thousand vacant red velvet seats. In just a few hours, it was going to be full to the brim with family, friends and other keen ticket holders. In just a few hours, all his years’ effort was going to be pulled together in one show.

Zayn stood besides him, his hand on his shoulders, offering a comforting squeeze.

Louis could cry. He could cry from the happiness he felt, the joy of hard work coming to an end with just a series of performances. But these performances depended on his life, it meant more to him than anything else. He hated Guildhall yet, the thought of his three years coming to an end frightened him. Whether he liked to admit it or not, he had become accustomed to these four walls.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Zayn spoke first when neither of them could break the silence, clearing his throat. “It all comes down to this performance, and the next, and the Kensington one.”

Louis sniffled, nodding as he leaned against Zayn and rested on his shoulders.

“I’m scared, Zee.”

“Oh, jaan, why are you afraid?” He asked in a baby voice, cradling the back of Louis’ head and holding him close. “You’re awesome. You’re great. You’re the most talented, breathtaking actor I have ever seen in action. You’re going to smash the first show.”

“I… I haven’t talked to Harry.”

Zayn stiffened slightly at the mention of his name. “Yeah? Well, he’s a fucking coward—”

No. He’s not.”

“He is.”

“You don’t understand, chaand. His father is, like, a proper psychopath, yeah? He has terrorised, exploited every part of Harry’s life. I can’t blame him for being afraid.”

“Enough to give up on you?”

Louis sighed, his throat closing up. He knew he made the right choice. He, already, found it difficult to get close to people. He was already attached to Harry and the other boy found it easy to let it go, to claim he couldn’t do it for his father’s sake. He can’t blame Harry, though. So, he ended it before Harry could.

“You could say it was me that gave up.”

Zayn shook his head. “No, you simply led the script he gave you. If you didn’t do it, he would.”

“But why do we have to do it either way?” He asked, a childish tone coming through as he pouted. “Why can’t he just… fight?”

“You said so yourself, because of his father.”

“I’d love to get my hands around Alan’s throat, Zee. I’d fuck him up, I swear.”

“Let’s not think such destructive thoughts.”

“I hate him!” Louis declared, moving away from the hold with a firm shake of his head, angry all of a sudden. “He has abused, neglected Harry all his life and yet he has the power to ruin Harry’s relationships?”

“It’s fucked.”

“It is.”

“Are you going to talk to Harry?”

Louis contemplated before shrugging. “No. I know what he wants. He doesn’t want me, he wants to stay safe because of his father. How—I can’t… I can’t compete with that. I’ll keep my distance.”

Zayn frowned, looking displeased by that but he didn’t comment. Instead, he pulled Louis back into an embrace as they stood underneath the stage lights, waiting for the big moment tonight.

**

Perhaps, the saddening part of tonight was that Johannah said she couldn’t come down. There wasn’t any reasonable trains leaving to reach London at the right time for the performance. Louis tried not to feel disappointed, didn’t register the sinking of his heart, when he texted her back claiming it was okay.

Harry was sitting across from him in the dressing room, a make-up artist running around the room to adorn his face. He kept looking up, stealing glances at Louis, before diverting his gaze back to his phone. He had spoken to Gemma a few minutes ago, almost teared up, and Louis felt an overwhelming surge for the need to protect overcome him. But he didn’t. He remained glued to his seat.

Zayn, Liam and Niall had already taken their seats respectively and were texting Louis, awaiting the performance anxiously.

All that was left was showtime which was in approximately in half an hour.

“My mother’s here today,” Harry announced when the silence had crawled on painfully for an hour between them.

“Okay.”

“I want to tell her about Alan.”

Louis had many things he wanted to say to that.

“Okay.”

Harry frowned then, not bothering to continue the conversation as he returned to his phone. Louis’ heart ached. He wanted to encourage Harry, wanted to push him to do it, to go for it and expose Alan for all his worth. But he was afraid Harry would back down and not go through with it.

The make-up artist stood back, clapping her hands. “Beautiful, Harry! Magnifique!” She spoke with her distinct French accent, pushing the chair back and putting the blusher brush down on the dresser. “You’re ready, mon amour. Go, go, go!”

Louis and Harry both left the dresser, moving towards the curtains where the whole class was ready to come to life. They only had a few minutes to go till showtime. Patrick gave a quick pep talk, declaring how proud he was of everybody, to stick to the script and what they had practiced and that they’d be fine. He made a point to remind everybody this was the most important play of the decade for Guildhall, considering it centred the LGBT community, and requested for nobody to let him down.


ABBA - Mamma Mia

 

Then the curtain was up. Louis could hear the deafening applaud and cheers. He swore he could hear Zayn’s voice mixed in with everyone, loudly shouting Louis’ name in encouragement. He couldn’t see the crowd from behind the curtain, only the stage in front of him, so he waited anxiously for his turn.

Harry was present in the first three scenes. He walked onto the stage in his outfit: plaid unbuttoned shirt, black tee underneath paired with blue baggy jeans. He took the centre with his onscreen mother, speaking in confidence, his gaze focused. He was an exceptional actor, Louis noted for the thousandth time, he was blown away by Harry’s talent every single time.

Louis’ heart was in his throat as he watched from the back. He was reciting Harry’s lines under his breath and hoping Harry didn’t trip on anything.

Harry, however, didn’t need any prompting. He was at ease, in his element, as he walked around the stage and used the props around him. There wasn’t a single sign of apprehension on his face. Louis felt pride swelling in his chest.

He could imagine the headlines from now. He could imagine critics boosting and praising Harry in the utmost, respectful manner.

Then it was Louis’ turn. His first scene with Harry.

Louis swallowed the nerves in his throat, tried to ease the crawling of his skin as he stepped onto the stage. For the first time, he faced the crowd. The turnout was brilliant. Each row was full, each section crowded. Nearly every professor stood around the back of the hall, watching.

Louis flushed, realising he was under inspection by everybody. He walked towards Harry and gathered his courage together.

Their first scene was not challenging, it was simply Caspar and Aiden’s first meeting. They had practised this scene a hundred times through. Louis could do it with his eyes closed. Harry was watching him with bright, eager eyes, and Louis couldn’t help the twitching of the side of his lips involuntarily.

In that moment, it was like nobody else existed except Harry and Louis. Nothing else mattered when they both smiled at each other. The whole world stopped.

Then Louis broke out of his trance and began his speech before the pause continued for too long.

They walked around the stage enthusiastically, as prompted by the script, talking to each other before Louis filtered off the stage for Harry’s next scene.

The first scene had gone to plan, each word was uttered perfectly. Harry was doing great and it was helping Louis to do the same. He felt satisfied as he came off, rubbing his sweaty palms down the side of his jeans with a huge smile.

Nick was waiting there for his scene, a glisten in his eyes as he nodded and whispered to him. “You’re doing amazing, Lou.”

When it was the scene for the first kiss with Harry, Louis felt the nerves bubble up again. When he rejoined the stage, he was met with Zayn sitting in the second row. Their eyes met and Zayn’s smile grew wide, nodding in silent encouragement. He tried to remember the times Harry seeked out his eye contact, the reassuring nods he’d give Louis during practices. Louis could do this.

They conversed back and forth confidently until Harry took the initiative and kissed him.

It was a soft, tender kiss and Louis was aware everybody’s eyes were fixed on them. He pulled away, his eyes softening before bringing Harry back to him and kissing him more firmly. They began to pant against each other, the kiss moving to tongue as everybody let out a gasp of surprise and some awed sounds. He wondered, faintly, whether they had just made history in Guildhall.

Louis moved back, stepping away from Harry. He felt the tingle of his lips still over his. He had stars in his eyes. He ran off the stage before Harry could give him a second look, sparks flying of everywhere in his body.

That scene had gone well, there was no hint of awkwardness and for that, Louis could only be grateful.

Louis’ solo scene was exceptional, too. He didn’t stumble or falter over his words. He walked around the stage with the dramatic monologue, the words coming from deep within his throat to create a raspy tone. Everyone was looking at him, awed and he remembered thinking faintly, he had made it.

When he returned backstage, Patrick was standing there, looking proud and giving him a thumbs-up.

However, it all went downhill during Harry’s solo scene.

He was doing well throughout the entire play, had everything in order but during his solo scene, he stumbled over his words. Instead of correcting it, he swore out loud, followed by everyone’s gasps and murmurs and then continued to make it worse by breaking out of character to sigh and shake his head.

Louis was watching from backstage. He felt his heart shatter for Harry, knowing the backlash it would create amongst the community and the students. He would hate it to have happened to him.

When Harry returned backstage, he immediately moved towards him. He knew they hadn’t talked since the “break-up” but he needed to comfort Harry more than anything right now.

However, Harry shrugged off the hold Louis tried to regain over his shoulders.

“Don’t touch me,” he warned and disappeared without a trace. Louis had one last scene to complete, and then he could go and find him later.

Harry did return back for the final bow. He was standing near him as they bowed down amongst the crowd, listening to the cheers of appreciation. Everyone gave them an standing ovation, whistling. Louis was thriving under the attention and approval, glowing kisses, taking another bow.

By the end of the cheers, Louis quickly turned to Harry bue he had already disappeared.

He moved quickly after him, going backstage, through the hallways but Harry had vanished without a trace.

**

“You called me?” Louis asked, shutting Patrick’s office door and taking a seat on one of the chairs.

Patrick looked up from his laptop, his glasses falling down his nose as he took them off and folded them. He nodded, clearing his throat and moving his laptop away from him. He looked tired and he had red rimmed eyes, in urgent need of sleep. He always overworked himself to the point of exhaustion.

It had been four days since the first performance and the Kensington theatre performance was only three days away now. Every single time he thought about it, it caused a tingle of excitement to go down his spine.

Louis had been preparing for the performance as much as he could without Harry’s presence. Zayn filled in the gaps, muttering lines back to him as they rehearsed around their living room.

“Yes, I did,” Patrick said, his voice raspy. “First of all, brilliant, magnificent job for the first performance. I was so pleased and proud. Well done, really, Louis. You really outdid yourself and blossomed as an actor on stage.”

He flushed red, lowering his gaze. He had received many compliments on his acting, many critics who talked about how much he had improved from the beginning of the degree to now, how he was flourishing and definitely an upcoming actor. Each and every compliment meant the world to him, he held them dearly to his heart.

“Thank you, Pat. But, really, it’s all you I need to thank.”

“No way!”

“Seriously! You’ve taught me from the beginning, helped me become who I am, improved my skills. Thank you.”

“Well, it’s been a pleasure,” Patrick said sincerely with a sad smile. “I’m really going to miss you when you graduate, Louis and that says a lot.”

He sniggered. “Yeah, yeah. Of course. I will too.”

“That’s not why I called you up here today though.” He cleared his throat, opening a drawer in his desk and pulling out a wad of papers. He sorted through them before picking up three documents. He laid them down on the table. “I have something to tell you.”

Louis could see ‘VICTORIA THEATRE RECRUITMENT’ clear on the front of the papers. His heart jumped to his throat.

“Okay…”

Patrick smiled. “Don’t look so nervous, Louis. I promise, it’s all good news.”

“You’re making me nervous.”

He laughed, startled. “Right, let me stop making this more suspenseful than it needs to be!” He pressed a finger to the recruitment logo on the papers. “Do you know who Victoria Theatre Recruitment team is?”

Louis shook his head. “Um, no?”

“Well, I’m sure you’re aware of Apollo Victoria Theatre?”

“Of course.”

“Well, let’s just say, the agency that put together shows such as ‘Wicked’ in this theatre is interested in you.”

Louis felt like he couldn’t breathe. “In me?”

“Indeed. They received news about you from the first performance here at Guildhall and have increasingly grown more interest in you.”

“What does this mean, then?” Louis asked, curiosity flooding through his veins. He couldn’t keep still in his seat, yearning for more information.

Patrick grinned so wide, it looked painful. “It means, the agency will be here to watch you perform in the Kensington performance. If it all goes well, which I’m sure it will since you’re a brilliant actor, they’re offering you a contract deal for a job at their theatre as soon as you graduate.”

Louis gasped, a mix of emotions registering through his mind. Most of all, joy. Pure ecstasy.

“Really?”

“Of course, boy!” Patrick laughed. “Here, this is a form they expect you to fill out so they have more information about you. I don’t know about the job itself, or the contract, I’m assuming they’ll only let us know details until after they decide-”

Patrick couldn’t even finish his sentence before Louis jumped up from his seat, pouncing on him and embracing him tightly. Patrick chuckled in surprise before he loosened up, accepted the hug and patted his back.

“Thank you.”

He shook his head. “No, thank you, Louis.”

Chapter Text

Louis was waiting outside Victoria station. The train Johannah and the family had taken to London was scheduled to arrive almost over fifteen minutes ago but there was no sight of them anywhere. He sighed, exasperated, as he observed the clock on the wall. He was so excited for Johannah to visit him in London, even more so that she was here to watch the Kensington performance tonight.

After waiting for ten more minutes, he caught sight of blonde hair in his eyeline. His head shot up and he saw Ernest waddling to him, his arms already stretched out. Louis ran towards him, picking him and spinning him around before embracing him close to his chest. Ernest squealed, throwing his tiny arms around Louis’ neck.

The rest of the family were in tow. Johannah was with Dan, Doris in her arms and, they both looked flustered like the journey had drained their energy. Lottie and Fizzy were behind, both holding Starbucks frappes and Daisy and Phoebe exchanging nail polish bottles between them.

The girls had decided to go shopping and hold everyone up.

“Mum!” Louis greeted, letting Ernest down before embracing Johannah and kissing both of her checks. He nodded in acknowledgement to Dan who simply smiled in returned. “How was the journey, then?”

“Hellish!” She cried. “Disgusting!”

“Well, it’s nine am. It’s bound to be packed.”

“I despise it!” She sighed, shaking her head before cupping Louis’ cheeks and kissing his nose lovingly. “It’s fine, though. We’re here now. We’re so excited to see the performance tonight, truly.”

“Well, I hope I won’t disappoint!”

Louis greeted each of his siblings, scolding them for annoying their mother by forcing to go to the shops as soon as they got off the train. They took the underground tube into Kensington where they had booked an hotel room. He dropped them at the hotel, promising to meet everyone properly afterwards.

Then, it was the short walk to the university and meeting his class to prepare for tonight.

Louis knew a lot was riding on tonight.

It was one of the biggest performances of the decade, in the history of Guildhall, and they were performing in a well renowned, famous theatre where all sorts of upper class men and women attended. But to add to the pressure, Louis had a recruiting agency from one of the most known theatre companies observing his acting tomorrow. He had a potential career set for him.

He couldn’t mess tonight up. He couldn’t afford to do so.

When he walked into the lecture hall, Patrick was onstage with a list of things projected on the screen to run through before tonight’s performance.

Louis took the seat furthest away from Harry. He wanted to avoid him tonight, not wanting to observe his beaten down expressions. He had to be focused and concentrated, he always lost that around Harry.

When Patrick, inevitably, mentioned Harry’s slip up in his last performance, Louis felt a twinge of sadness.

He couldn’t help but look up to Harry. He was sitting out of reach, in the far corner with his face casted downwards. Louis didn’t miss how his cheekbones were sunken in, his red rimmed eyes like he had been crying. What truly startled Louis was the bruise adorning his eyes, the swelling of his nose.

Louis felt a surge of guilt, feeling sick to his stomach observing Harry. He knew what had happened. Alan had managed to get his hands on Harry again. He could throw up. He broke his only promise he had given to Harry.

When Patrick dismissed the class, only to meet at the theatre in two hours, Louis ran over to Harry as fast as he could before he could run off.

Harry looked up, startled by Louis’ sudden appearance. He pulled his eyebrows together but looked down to the floor, refusing to meet his eye.

Louis’ hands ached to reach out, to touch but he resisted.

Ed Sheeran - So

“He did it again.” Louis simply said, not beating around the bush.

Harry winced at the words, recoiling. He tried to hug himself, the baggy hoodie hanging off him. He looked awful, weary and he certainly didn’t look fit for tonight’s performance. Seeing Harry down in the dumps like this was giving Louis physical pain.

Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t matter,” he sounded indifferent, conveying no emotions as he tried to navigate around Louis to leave.

Louis, however, was faster and latched onto his forearm. “What did he do, Harry?”

“Why do you care?” He asked, snatching his arm back with an angry glare. “We’re done, remember? We don’t even exist anymore. It’s none of your concern anymore.”

“It… Harry, I still care about you.”

“Well, don’t.”

Harry started walking towards the door and Louis followed helplessly, his feet carrying him without realising.

“What did you do this time? Walk funny? Say something he didn’t like?” Louis pressed on, the words pouring out of him in anguish. He tried to imagine Alan raising his fist on Harry and the mere thought caused his chest to boil with anger. He wanted to hurt Alan. “Don’t fucking ignore me!” He said to Harry’s turned back.

“It’s nothing!”

“Look! Listen to me! You look awful. Come back to my mum’s hotel room, we’ll find you some concealer and clean it up.”

Harry halted, turning around in surprise. “Why?”

“You’re not fit to perform with that mark on your face. The hotel is just around the corner. Please.”

He shook his head. “Jo will ask questions, Lou.”

He sighed. “I won’t let her. We’ll cover this up,” he gestured to the bruise, his stomach churning. “Then we’ll go and meet her, okay? Don’t worry. I wouldn’t expose this to my mother if you didn’t want me to.”

“I thought you hated me.” Harry said so softly, barely audible and he truly looked sorrowed.

It caused Louis to feel another painful lurch in his stomach. On one hand, he wanted to hate Harry. It would be easier. But, he didn’t. Not really. He knew Harry had been cornered, he was forced to pretend he wasn’t homosexual and Louis couldn’t imagine how that life felt like. To be constantly hiding, lying. He pitied Harry.

Louis shook his head. “I… I don’t hate you, Harry. I’m angry and confused, yeah but I see this mark and,” He took a deep breath. “And all I feel is the need to keep you safe, Harry. So come back to the hotel, please..”

**

Harry was being careful around Louis, his walls up and his guard back on. Louis could sense it in the way the boy walked a step behind him, keeping his gaze downwards and not conversing with Louis properly. There were many things Louis wanted to say, wanted to comfort him with, but he refrained himself.

Back at the hotel, Louis retrieved Lottie’s concealer wand and foundation. He ignored all her sister’s questions and took Harry to the end of the hallway, hidden from the rest of the family. He tentatively applied the makeup over his bruises, using a feather light touch, careful not to press down too hard.

Harry still hissed, though and sucked a breath through his teeth.

Louis failed him. He promised to keep him safe and he didn’t follow through with it.

“I’m sorry,” Louis breathed when he was done and the bruise had been covered, mostly skin colour now.

Harry immediately shook his head. “Please, don’t be.”

“I’m really sorry, Harry.”

“Please.”

Louis bit on his bottom lips. No matter what anyone could say, he’d still feel guilty. He used the powder to pat over the makeup, ensuring it’d stay on his face all day. When he was done, he took a step back and smiled at Harry. Despite the bruises, the eyebags—he was still ethereal.

“Come on, now,” Louis said. “Johannah wants to see you, I’m sure.”

Harry, however, simply shook his head and sighed. “Lou… Alan’s here, I need to go home as soon as possible.”

His eyes narrowed. “Are you kidding me, Harry?” He couldn’t prevent how harsh his voice came out, sighing. “I can’t… Harry, I won’t let you go back to him. No fucking way.”

“I don’t have a choice.”

“Absolutely not!”

“Stop,” Harry said firmly. “You’re not my boyfriend. You can’t tell me what I can or can’t do.”

Louis paused from the comment, the words washing over him. Harry was right. They weren’t dating anymore. He couldn’t tell Harry what to do nor could he stop him from doing anything. He was powerless now, just another human being in Harry’s. He took a step back, adding distance between them.

Harry’s lips curled downwards, realisation pouring over his face. “Lou… I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. You’ve been so good to me. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

“I need to go home, Lou. I’ll see you at the theatre tonight,” and as simple as that, Harry turned the corner and walked towards the lifts.

Louis sighed. He stood there in the hallway for a while, clutching onto the makeup products tightly. Dread filled his veins. He wondered if Harry was going to appear tonight with more bruises. He wondered how Harry could willingly accept the punishment from Alan. He didn’t know what to do, how to keep Harry safe. He wanted to run after him, wanted to halt him and kiss him, take him back to the hotel room.

He remained frozen in spot, instead.

He attempted to push all his thoughts to one side of his brain.

Instead, he walked to Lottie’s hotel room, handing her products back to her. He fell into her bed, snuggling the duvet up to his chin for a much needed power nap.

**

The theatre in Kensington was truly magnificent. It was an historical building, enriched with history. The interior was grand, adorned with marble pillars and recovered Victorian paintings hanging on the walls. The theatre hall was massive, the stage taking up a lot of the room, red heavy drapes falling over to conceal the platform. It held a capacity of a mighty 10,000 people and Louis was shocked to find out the show was mostly sold out.

The thought alone of 10,000 people observing his acting tonight was sending him into overdrive of panic. He took a long, hard moment to observe his surroundings and how incredibly lucky he was to be here. How Guildhall, though daunting, had proven to be a good experience in the end.

Three years ago, he never imagined he’d be fortunate enough to prove his worth as an actor to an audience. He thought this talent would burn within him and fizzle out, it’d never develop or become a career. He thought he’d lead a simple 9-5 job in something he had no interest in. However, that was furthest from the truth. He had made it. He had come so far, already, and wasn’t ready for it to end.

All Louis had to do was impress the representatives and land himself a job many aspiring actors yearned for. He could have it all.

Patrick sat them all down as he stood on the stage, a glint in his eyes.

“Welcome, students!” He announced, his voice shrill with excitement. “I’m so proud of all of us for being here, welcome to the Royal Theatre! We’ll be performing here tonight and just for that fact, I’d like us to give ourselves a round of applause!”

The odd fourty-fifty students started cheering instantly on cue, wolf whistles and yells coming from them. Louis sat besides Zayn, his hands rigid as he resisted the urge to look over to Harry and observe him. Was he clapping? Was he proud? Did he have a representative looking out for him tonight?

Patrick continued, his smile growing an inch with every passing moment. “I’d like us to run through, quickly, a few of the scenes we have the trouble with most. We don’t have the time to go through the entire play, sadly. But after that, you’ll go through costume and makeup as usual. Let’s keep this as simple as possible! I know us, I know my students, we can do this!”

Everyone cheered before they dispersed. The students who didn’t need to practice a scene wandered off backstage, already fretting about outfit concerns and makeup requests. Louis was in the clear but he remained glued to his seat when he found out Harry had to repeat his solo scene. He wanted to encourage him.

Patrick gave Louis an impatient look. “Lou, please. You have no business here, go get started for tonight—”

“I’m fine here.”

Harry had a grateful expression on his face and Louis knew he had made the right decision.

Today, Harry had taken the stage with grace and rehearsed the scene he had messed up perfectly. He was practiced and completely at ease, walking around the stage and using his capacity to pull off a perfect scene.

Their eyes met across the hall and Harry offered a small smile to him before continuing.

Just then, Louis felt a deep sadness, a sorrow so sickening he couldn’t contain it within himself.

They could’ve been good. They could’ve been magical. Louis had never claimed to be a perfect person but he felt weightless around Harry. He felt like a good person around him. He had never felt this before, had never felt strong feelings that were embedded deep within his veins before. He had never felt a connection like this, one that started so tragically and now, ending just as tragically. He should be with Harry.

They could’ve been amazing.

They’re both guided backstage once Harry finished and separated from there. Louis walked into his room, changing into his first costume of the night.

The minutes ticked by quickly behind the stage as they prepared and rehearsed lines, running through last-minute memorisation for the script. Hours turned to moments and before they knew it, it was only an hour till show time. Everyone was in a frenzy. The makeup artists running around, the hairstylists shouting, producers fixing things, Patrick losing his mind and calling his other colleagues to come and help.

Louis went to makeup, got his face patted down with foundations, cheeks sculpted with bronzer before pushed towards the hair stylist.

Every now and then, his eyes would drift towards Harry. He was effortlessly conversing back and forth with the staff members, his charming smile on display, his dimples deep. His manners were always to the utmost standard around staff. He thanked each person, showed gratitude for their work.

Louis couldn’t understand how a person, consumed with so much pain and sorrow in his life, could still be so wonderful. How a person with a mouth full of blood could still be so tender, so lovely to everyone?

How was Harry still a wonderful, charitable human being despite all the injustice he experienced?

He wondered if he could ever be half the man Harry was.

Patrick came back, calling twenty minutes till showtime and suddenly, it became even more frantic. Everyone was panicking. A girl managed to tear her dress, causing another hysteria as the stylist ran around to find thread and needle. A boy forgot his lines and didn’t have his script with him, causing Patrick to lecture him.

Amongst the craze, Louis’ phone started to ring in his pocket.

He fished it out, noticing Lottie’s caller ID, and smiling as he picked up.

“Hey, darling,” Louis greeted, noticing how he instantly relaxed upon talking to his sister. “You arrived? Got good seats? I managed to get front row for you guys, amazing, innit? Gonna see me all—”

“Louis.”

The way she said his name, with fear and apprehension, made Louis halted. All the words died in his throat. He felt the first wave of panic settling in, already knowing this wasn’t going to be good news. Something was wrong.

“Lottie?” He said.

“I… I don’t wanna freak you out.”

“... What?”

“Look, just… don’t do—”

Lottie,” Louis said, harsher than intended and not missing how Harry’s head snapped up and turned towards him. Louis fixed his gaze on his loafers. “What’s going on? You’re doing a good job of the freaking out like, right about now.”

“I’m really sorry. But dad’s here.”

Louis paused. “Which one?” He said, though he had a good idea. Just, sometimes, there was a possibility his biological might bother him though it was unlikely.

“Mark. He’s here. He’s sitting behind us.”

Louis frowned. “What the—how? I didn’t give him any tickets?” He voiced, beginning to pace the room.

“I guess he must’ve known and brought some.”

“How, though? He’s sick, he’s dying. How did he make the trip from Bath?”

Lottie sighed. “He looks awful. I think a nurse is here with him.”

“I don’t want him here.” He decided without a second thought needed, shaking his head. “No. I don’t need, or want, him here. Tell him to leave, right now.”

“We tried, Lou.”

“Lottie! I can’t have him here!”

“He’s not going.”

Louis sighed heavily. He put his head in his hands for a moment, trying to process the information. He thought he had seen the last of Mark. Though he thought about his father a lot recently, about how cancer had taken over his soul, how he had a death date pending over his head—Louis couldn’t find the heart to forgive him. He wondered if this made him a bad person.

“Fine. I gotta go,” he said, hanging up and throwing his phone down on his dresser purely out of frustration.

He felt Harry’s eyes burning into him from the corner but neither of them acknowledge the obvious, present tension. Harry didn’t ask and Louis didn’t tell.

**

“Three, two, one!” They were all huddled around, their hands in the middle. “Woo!” They all fist pumped the air before scattering out to take position. The curtains drew and the audience began to clap.

Louis’ most important performance, till date, was beginning. He felt sick with nerves. Not only was the agency here, specifically looking out for him and his talents but also, his father was here. Mark. Whom he had no desires to see.

Harry begun the show, as planned.

He radiated his beautiful aura, as always. He was excellent and dazzling. Everyone was engaged with him, Louis could hear the gasps of the audience as Harry performed. Louis was rooting for him under his breath, his mind screaming at him. He kept his eyes fixated on how Harry bounced around the stage.

Then it was time for Louis to make an appearance of the stage and perform. As he walked out, he could instantly hear Daisy and Phoebe screams. He scanned the crowd, unable to locate any of his family members so he put his focus in his performance instead.

He flew the first few scenes easily, even managed to get through the scene with Harry relatively well.

Patrick patted his back, whispering words of encouragement every time Louis went backstage to change outfits for his next scene. He could tell his professor was proud of him, his features shining, his smile wide, giving a thumbs up to each student as they ran around the stage.

The fifth scene, the one that contained the second kiss with Harry, was where it began to spiral downwards.

 

He had spotted the agent sitting in the third row down. They were two representative present, dressed in black suits with glasses perched on their noses. In their hands, they were holding folders and were glancing at Louis frequently, taking down notes. Louis realised they were observing and analysing his every move. It made him falter over his words, falling into silence as his confidence shattered.

Harry’s brows furrowed, watching him carefully.

Louis tried again, the words not strong enough to be heard before he repeated them pathetically.

“So, kiss me,” Louis had said, in the role of Casper, pleading that his body would chase off the sudden burst of nerves that were overcoming him.

Harry nodded, keeping in touch with his character, and cutting the distance between them to kiss the second time.

Louis missed the taste of Harry’s lips. He felt like coming home every time he received the opportunity to kiss him throughout the show. God. They felt so good. This is what he knew.

Before they could deepen the kiss, the scene was over and Louis was following him offstage.

Then it was another round of new clothes, more makeup being applied to cover up what had been sweated off, more props handed to him. He stood behind the curtain, whispering words of encouragement under his breath as he entered the stage again for his seventh scene with Harry.

This time, his eyes caught Mark.

He looked awful. Under the dimmed light, he was still recognisable but barely. He looked sick, the fatigue and the disease was prominent in his features, in his frown lines. He was sitting besides Avery, Jacob and another lady who was dressed in a nurses’ outfit. His head was bandaged and his smile was drooping on one corner.

He looked like death.

Louis’ stomach churned. The scene music begun, prompting the beginning of the script, but he stood motionless as he stared out to Mark, unable to tear his eyes away. Harry was besides him, stiffening up. He followed Louis’ eyeline and realised what he was looking at, what he was ruining his future for.

Louis knew he should be on his third line by now. Yet, he hadn’t spoken once. He was frozen in space.

Harry tugged on his arms urgently, eyes frantically searching out to bring him back and that seemed to snap Louis out his trance.

He completed the scene with ease, though he winced every time he thought back to his painful pause, and then ran off stage.

Patrick was waiting there with a slight frown. “What was that about, Louis? We’ve gone through that specific scene countless times yet now you froze up?” He sighed, scribbling out another page of the script that had been done. “Are you okay, lad?”

Louis nodded, clearing his throat remorsefully. “I’m sorry, Pat. I don’t know, something just—look, is this going to affect my opportunity with the agency?”

Patrick simply shrugged and sighed. “We’ll have to see.”

It was the second to last scene where it really unraveled. Louis was performing with Harry, and a few of their friends. It was the brave scene where Louis stood up for Harry in front of the bullies, came out and headlined he wasn’t afraid or homophobic. It was supposed to be the scene of utmost, teenage courage and it was supposed to be moving, passionate and heartfelt.

However, when it came down to it, Louis lost his words when he heard Mark coughing.

He had a coughing fit in the crowd, looking possessed as the nurse tried to frantically tried to help him. Louis watched, in astonishment, as they dragged Mark out and shut the doors behind them firmly. He was gone. He was sick and he was gone.

“Casper..” Harry whispered, trying to bring him back to life though he looked afraid.

Louis looked back and said. “Shit,” out loud before realising what he had just done. “Fuck. Sorry—shit.”

Not only did he break his character but he also continued to swear.

The entire theatre fell to pin-drop silence and Louis’ bones tensed. He felt trapped with fear, unable to move on from his mistakes. He knew a good actor picked themselves up, continued on. But he saw the agents shaking their heads, writing the mistake down and suddenly, did it even fucking matter anymore?

Louis fucked it up.

He ruined it.

Because of Mark, Louis managed to ruin the best opportunity his life could’ve possibly handed to him.

For once, he could’ve been good enough, with a decent job and he threw it all away.

Harry looked tortured, eyes wide and red. “Casper,” he cleared his throat, improvising. “You don’t have to do this.”

Harry, himself, was going against the script to provide Louis a way out of the hole he had dug himself. He couldn’t love him more in that moment and it’d be injustice to Harry if he didn’t try to revive what was left of the shambles of a performance.

“I—I.. I,” he stumbled over his words, sinking deeper into his mistakes. Fuck. “I.”

Maroon 5 - It Was Always You

Harry continued to look at him. Momentarily, there was nobody in the entire room except the two of them. Harry gave him a discrete, belief and encouragement behind his glistening, wide eyes. He was pleading, with body language, for Louis to pull himself together.

Louis’ past three years at Guildhall flashed to his mind.

All the times he had spent hating on Harry. The times he had tried to ridicule him, tried to get students to hate on him, tried to steal the roles right off Harry. All the times he pushed in the canteen line from Harry, the times he spoke over him to Patrick. The times they teased each other, challenging with hateful expression. There was so much history here. So much love, hatred and development.

God, he loved Harry so much.

He felt guilt for all his previous actions, it burned his veins with the itch to apologise continuously to him. No matter how hard he could try to make it up to Harry, it would never be enough to make it okay again.

Yet despite everything, through all the sorrow he had given the boy, Harry was still here. He was still looking at him with stars in his eyes, with a look that ensured Louis he could power through this and see the end of it.

In the most significant night of his life, till date, Harry was here for him. He was standing before him and he was communicating with Louis, without even having to say a word. He was pleading with his eyes. He was asking that they picked up the pieces of this scene and put it together, to pull off the performance with dignity.

He loved Harry.

He loved Harry until it hurt, until he was suffocating with the feeling because it invaded every part of his body.

He loved Harry. He didn’t—ever—want to let go of him. Ever.

It was always Harry. It was always going to be Harry.

Through the resentment, the back and forth bantering and hatred—it was always Harry.

It was always Harry’s gaze he wanted on him, it was always his foul words and annoyed expression he wanted and his love and care, too.

He had always wanted Harry and reacted in such a way to ensure the feeling would be pushed out.

He had to do this for Harry. He had to power through and complete this performance for him otherwise he’d never forgive himself.

Louis took a step forward. His mind started to shift into gear, everything making sense in his head. On the stage, under the lights, he finally realised what this all meant. What this all added up to. He turned to Harry, his eyes burning and held their eye contact.

 

“I don’t care what these bullies think of me,” Louis, or Casper, boldly announced. “Because I love you and I’m in love with you,” he was going against the script, the words tumbling out of his mouth without censor. He couldn’t hold it back any longer.  He started to speak from his heart. “And, Heaven knows Aidan, I’ve tried to hide this. I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve tried to treat you wrong because of this. But, Heaven also knows, I’m in love with you, Aidan. Everything about you. I’m in love with it and you and everything you are.”

All he remembered seeing was Harry’s shocked expression, his mouth falling open at the words before the curtain fell and the scene painfully came to an end. It was over. It was finally over.

After their last scene together, he didn’t see Harry. And he didn’t see Harry at the after party, either.

**

Coldplay - Green Eyes

Three days passed.

The agency didn’t call Louis or give any news to Patrick. It was clear that he had managed to ruin his chances at getting a full-time job at their theatre and he wasn’t surprised, either.

Johannah tutted, shaking her head. “It’ll happen, Louis. Just wait for it.”

Four days passed. Then the fifth.

On the sixth day, Johannah and the family packed their bags and decided to head back to Doncaster. He took them to the station, pushed to one corner of the packed train with their suitcases, as he tried to keep his thoughts under control.

Ever since the performance, Louis had been solemn, quiet. He had sobered up. He realised the idiotic mistake he had made, to let his weakness get the most of him, to go off script and potentially, ruin everything. The truth was, not a word, or a sound about the performance had been released yet. Louis was on edge, waiting for Patrick to tell him they had failed because of him.

At King's Cross station, Johannah embraced him tightly.

“You’re a winner to me, baby,” she told him fiercely, kissing his cheeks. “I don’t care what some stupid agency says, or what that idiot Patrick says. You’re a winner. You performed exceptionally and you should be proud of yourself.”

“I didn’t do good.”

“You did.”

Louis shook his head with a heavy sigh. “I fucked it up.”

I fucked up the script. I fucked up my scene. I fucked up Harry’s performance, too, with my stupid confession of love that’s clearly not returned towards me. I fucked up because I fell in love. I fucked up because fucking Mark. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Johannah gave him a sad smile. “I hope one day you can see the talent I see in you, Louis. If this didn’t go right, next time it will. Don’t put yourself down. Give yourself credit, honey.”

“I’ll try.”

“That’s my boy. Come here.”

They embraced for a moment longer, he tried to soak up his mother’s warmth before she pulled away and moved towards the train. The siblings were next. Doris and Ernest were unaware to Louis’ turmoil, jumping on him, hugging him goodbye. Daisy, Phoebe and Fizzy looked uncertain but still hugged him, promising to visit soon and that things would be okay.

When it was Lottie’s turn, she stepped forward and smiled.

“My hero, yeah?” She told him lightly. “I don’t care. It’ll never change.”

Louis nearly teared up. So very close to doing so. Instead, he sniffled and pulled Lottie into a hug before she could release any other sentimental words. He kissed her hair, his chin trembling. She turned around, walking after the rest of the family. Dan stayed back though.

“Louis..” He took a step towards him. “Look. I know you’ve never considered me your father. That’s okay. I don’t blame you.” He sighed, running a hand through his blonde hair. Dan had never looked so out of his comfort zone before. “But I had to say how well you performed, mistake or not, and how proud I am. I see you as my son, Louis and I always have, I always will. I’d love to, if you’d give me the chance, to develop this relationship.”

Louis’ heart ached. “Dan…”

“No, no.” Dan held a hand up, cutting him off. “I get it, seriously, if you don’t want to and you don’t have to let me down now,” he fiddled with his pocket, bringing out a number sprawled on a scrap of paper. “I know you don’t have my number so here it is. Any problem, anything, you call me, yeah? Like I said, I want to be a father to you.”

Louis took the paper off him gratefully, nodding. “Thank you.”

With that, Dan gave a small nod and followed after the family, leaving Louis alone at the station.

He was overcome with the feeling of loneliness, of sorrow, of his mistakes and how he managed to lose the job at the agency. He was finished. He had nothing left. He didn’t have Harry, he didn’t have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Louis cried on the tube home.

**

“You gotta stop moping around.”

It’s the eighth day since the last performance. The third performance, at Guildhall, was due in four days. Louis felt numb and unbothered.

Zayn stood over him with a stern expression, his hands curled around a bottle of water as he put a plate of breakfast down.

Louis glared at him. “What’d you know about moping, huh? You perfect, perfect angel who gets everything right the first time. What do you know!?”

He shook his head. “It’s been eight days, Louis. I don’t even know what you’re moping about anymore. Is it the performance or is it Harry?”

“I don’t care about Harry.”

“Yeah, right. How long are you going to keep convincing yourself that, huh?” Zayn sounded genuinely serious, a sharp tone in his voice as he sat down opposite Louis. “I hate seeing you this way. You’re not taking care of yourself at all!

“I’m sorry, Zee,” He said sincerely because he is. He’s not trying to purposely be a pain in the ass, not really. “But, it’s hard.”

“I know.”

“I guess, I feel so stupid for messing up my performance.”

“It wasn’t that bad—”

“Can you please, for the love of God, stop sugarcoating things?”

“Listen...”

“I know it was bad, Zayn. I could feel the moment I fucked up. Maybe, I’m just mourning the loss of what could’ve been.”

“Other chances will come,” he reached out and held Louis’ hands, squeezing. “This isn’t the only one, y’know? Other theatres will want you.”

“Not after that performance.”

“Okay. You fucked up one scene, so what? The rest of it was amazing, Louis and it’s clear you were born to do this. If you keep the negative mindset up, you probably will end up with nothing. So, stop it, you toad.”

Louis sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

“I know I’m right.”

He bit his lip. “Have you heard from Harry recently?”

Zayn seemed to pause for a minute before thoughtfully shaking his head. “Nah. Liam said he’s been at the hotel with his parents, somewhere fancy. Figures. Why?”

“Just wondering.”

“Then, stop wondering.”

“Easy for you to say,” Louis scoffed.

“C’mon,” Zayn stood up, tugging on his hand. “I wanna go out, just us two. I can’t remember the last time we got drunk together without fucking Liam tagging along.”

“He’s your boy—”

“Just us two.”

**

The next day, there was a knock at Louis’ door.

Zayn had gone out with Liam, claiming he wouldn’t be back until late night or maybe the next day and told him not to wait up. Niall was busy too, immersed in his own Music degree and was spending countless hours at the studio. So, he couldn’t imagine who’d visit him on a Saturday afternoon. He got up from the sofa, opening the door to reveal Harry.

The past ten days hadn’t seemed to done much for Harry.

He looked dreadful, pale skin, red rimmed eyes paired with dark lavender eye bags, sunken in cheekbones. He looked like he had been neglecting food. The worst is the new black eye, swollen and angry-looking. Louis repressed a sigh that threatened to slip out, immediately reaching out to hold his hand.

“I told him I love you.” Harry said, squeezing their hands.

Louis paused momentarily, his whole world coming to a stop as he let the words sink in. Harry loved him. Harry told his homophobic, abuse father that he loved him. He never thought the day would come. He was feeling a certain mix of emotions, able to placate a clear one: joy. Because, Harry did it. He overcame his fear for his father.

“Oh?” Louis squeaked.

He nodded, though and continued. “I told him you were the best thing that’s happened to me, that you gave me hope, that I love you.”

“How did it go down?” His voice was barely above a whisper, awed.

“It…” Harry used his spare hand to gesture to the bruises decorating his temple and eye with a grimace. “Not great, evidently.”

“You silly, silly boy.”

“It hurt. He beat me. I don’t care.”

“Harry..”

He shook his head furiously. “I don’t care Louis because I can’t keep doing this. I can’t push you away because I’m afraid when you’re the one that makes me feel fearless. And I can’t keep pushing an image of me that’s entirely false. I’m not heterosexual, I don’t fucking want to get with Maya—”

“The, who?”

“—I want you. I want you in the mornings when you grumble nonsense because you’re not a morning person, when you refuse to detangle yourself from me so I can make breakfast. I want you after our lectures, how moody you get because you want food and prices are just ridiculous in London so we end up back at my flat. I want you during dinner, when you appreciate my cooking and give me kisses. I want you before we sleep, I want you. Louis.”

“Are you… am I—are you sure? I can’t do this, not if you’re not sure.”

“I’ve never been more sure about something in my life. I can’t let you slip right through my fingers.”

“But Alan—”

“I’m done, Louis,” Harry said firmly, shaking his head. “I’m so done with Alan. I’m never going to listen to a word from him again. We’re going to tell Anne, we’re going to tell somebody and we’re going to get it over and done with.”

Louis’ heart tightened, taking a step further. “And you won’t give up on us?”

“Never.”

“And you love me?”

Harry laughed like he couldn’t quite believe this, the continuous stream of questions. But he didn’t seem to mind. They were so close, their noses touching as Harry whispered against his skin.

“I love you, Louis.”

“I meant it, at the show, when I changed the script...” Louis whispered. “I love you.”

“Do you?”

“I do, I do. I love you, Harry. I do.”

The three words were finally out there, it had been said between them and now, it felt like a barrier had been lifted. Suddenly, there was nothing more Louis wanted in his entire life.

“Say it again,” Harry closed his eyes.

“I love you, fucking love you,” and then he kissed him.

**
Ed Sheeran - Kiss Me

“Settle down with me, cover me up, cuddle me in.”

Louis’ breath hitched. He scooted forward on the bed, trying to soak in Harry’s warmth as the boy sang. He had a bandage over his wrist, a butterfly bandage over his eyebrows and cream settling on his angry bruise under his eyes. They had spent the past day or two just in bed, surrounded by nothing but each other and takeaway boxes. Neither of them had the intention to move.

“Lie down with me, and hold me in your arms, and your heart's against my chest, your lips pressed in my neck. I'm falling for your eyes, but they don't know me yet. And with a feeling I'll forget, I'm in love now.”

Louis wanted to feel his lips, right this instant, but he resisted. He didn’t want to disturb the flow of the song. Instead, he leaned down and buried his nose in Harry’s nose. He pecked him over the bare, cold flesh and sighed. This is where he belonged. Harry’s arm tightened around his back, bringing him in closer.

“Kiss me like you wanna be loved, you wanna be loved, you wanna be loved. This feels like falling in love, falling in love. We're falling in love. settle down with me, and I'll be your safety, you’ll be my lady. I was made to keep your body warm, but I'm cold as the wind blows so hold me in your arms.”

The way Harry sung evoked emotions within Louis that he didn’t even were possible. A surge of something like pride, so deep and so heavy his heart ached with it, and awe. Harry’s voice was powerful and strong, it never wavered and when he sang, he shut his eyes and squeezed tight as the words came out of him.

“Yeah I've been feeling everything, from hate to love, from love to lust, from lust to truth. I guess that's how I know you, so I hold you close to help you give it up.”

The words resonated with Louis and Harry so well, fitting in with their situation. Louis sucked at Harry’s bare skin, not missing how he stumbled over his words just slightly before regaining his confidence and singing, back to the chorus. When he pulled away, he admired the red hickey already blossoming. Those were the only bruises he wanted to seen on Harry, ever.

When Harry was done singing, his eyes remained shut for a moment as he collected himself. He was always embarrassed after he sang for him. Louis just held his hands, allowed him the second to compose himself before their eyes met again. Harry’s were bright green, electric and alive. Singing made him feel alive. Louis was admiring him, everything he was and everything he stood for. Everything he wanted to be.

“I have a feeling,” Louis started to say, using his spare hand to trace patterns on top of Harry’s sheer t-shirt. “That, a certain university, has made the best decision of their lives when they approved of your application and they don’t even know their fortune that’s going to follow..”

Harry giggled, eyes narrowing. “Really?”

“Mhmm. You don’t know, Harry, how glorious you are, how stunning your voice is.”

“Kiss me, then. Like I said in the song like a hundred times.”

Louis’s eyes crinkled in fondness, cutting the distance between them and smashing their lips today. Harry let out a squeak of surprise but loosened up, kissing back instantly as their tongues worked over each other soothingly. In that moment, nothing else mattered. He could share thousands of these kisses and still, never get tired, still crave for more. Always more.

“I love you, Louis.”

Louis smiled. Those words would always revoked the same reaction. It always made his heart expand in size, butterflies flutter in his stomach.

“I love you, Harry.”

“And I want to be here. I’ll sing you every morning, every night.”

“Mmm.” Louis nodded in agreement, his head falling on his pillow. “That sounds so perfect. Yes, please.”

“I’ll sing to us in the shower.”

“Mhm. What else?”

“In public, in your ears, when we’re cooking, when we’re revising. Anywhere, anytime. Whenever you’d like.”

“Whatever song I’d like?” Louis asked.

“Of course.”

Louis sighed in relief. With contentedness. He could never ask for a better boyfriend. He never wanted to exchange this relationship for anything else. He realised that Harry was all he needed to get by. Harry had managed to transform this entire year for him, make Guildhall a memory worth remembering, and he could never be more thankful for him.

He kissed Harry again, just because he could.

“I hope you know, you’ll never sleep alone again,” Louis began to say, tangling a leg with Harry’s. “I’ll love you forever, Harry, if you’ll let me. I’ll never leave. And all I can really do is apologise—”

“Louis, no—”

“For ever treating you like shit. No, Harry. I need to say it because it’s true,” he sat up, leaning on his forearm, staring at Harry with the utmost sincerity shining through his blue eyes. “I need to say this because you need to hear it and I need to get it out of me.” He shook his head. “How I treated you, in the beginning, that was terrible of me. I hate myself for it.”

“It’s not a big—”

“It is, Harry. I made you feel like you were less than when it’s not true. Not when you’re everything.”

Harry’s eyes softened, brightening up. “Baby…”

“I was so threatened by how magnificent you are, inside and out, and how I was not that. I was so afraid. I don’t know why. I missed out on two years I could’ve spent loving you, appreciating you, admiring you the way you should be.”

“But you’re here now. That’s all that matters.”

Louis sighed with a small nod. “I guess. I’m happy, regardless. I’m happy that we’re here, that we’ve made it this far.”

“This feels right,” Harry whispered, their hands squeezing. “This, right here, nothing has felt more right to me. I think this is where we’re supposed to be.”

“I think so too, curls.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Harry said after a moment. “You know, for being so easy to give up. For taking Alan’s words so seriously about the scholarship. Mind you, I’m still afraid about that but—”

Louis shook his head. “Stop being scared. Alan can’t touch me.”

“I’m afraid he might be able to. I’ll never forgive myself.”

“Patrick won’t let anything happen,” Louis reminded him of their overbearing, protective professor he hadn’t treated right over the years. “Remember? Patrick loves us and he won’t let me lose my space in the last semester. I promise.”

Harry seemed to physically exhale at that, his body slackening with realisation as he nodded. His breath trembled.

“I was so scared you were going to hate me. I thought Alan was bulletproof. What he said, was what happened.”

Louis shook his head. “Alan can’t do anything, Harry, if you don’t give him the power to do so. You understand me, sweetheart? Listen to me,” he used his spare hand to tilt Harry’s chin up to him. “Alan is a coward, a psychopathic, insane, crazy—”

“All the craze!” Harry said with a laugh.

Louis laughed too though his heart was hammering out of his chest. “Yes, exactly that. He’s made you think he can control every aspect of your life. But he can’t. He won’t.”

“Actually, there’s something I need to do.”

Louis furrowed his brows, nodding. “Yes, babe?”

“After our last two Guildhall performances tomorrow and the next day, would you mind coming with me to Surrey? There’s some things I need to say and do.”

He blinked before nodding. “I… of course not, Harry. Of course.”

Harry didn’t waste any time before connecting their lips.

**
Muse - Undisclosed Desires

“Here it is.”

“Shit.”

Louis stood outside the gated residence, looking into what was possibly the most luxurious, biggest looking mansion he had ever seen. It was grand. It was an old building, historical, but stood in all it’s glory, overlooking a field. There were steps on either side, leading up to the entrance of the house.

“You lived here?”

Harry seemed amused, nodding. “Since I was two.”

“It’s… massive.”

“It is.”

They had taken the trip to Surrey but instead of going to Harry’s house, they had gotten an hotel room. The first day they had spent going around Surrey as Harry showed him his childhood park, his school, met up with his old friends for a drink. They were here for a very specific reason, no other motives. They had no reason to hang out in the house for any longer than necessary. When everything was done and over, they’d leave to go back home.

Louis admired the mansion. It was truly a beauty, something straight out of a movie where the King’s and Queen’s lived. It looked like a castle for the royalty but he realised, Harry’s family was royal. It was a shame the people living inside the house were heartless, though. They didn’t desire this.

“Do you want to come inside, then?” Harry asked, squeezing his shoulders. “You don’t have to. I can do this on my own.”

Louis snapped out of his trance, his eyes finally moving away from the house to settle on Harry before he snorted.

“You bloody wish I’m going to miss this.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Should’ve guessed.”

They began the walk to the gates. The guards standing there recognised Harry immediately, muttering out their greetings as Harry cut to the chase and embraced them both. Apparently, he was rather fond of all the staff that worked inside the mansion and had grown up around their influence and morals. It was the reason he was so different than his parents. The guards opened the door and allowed them through. Louis didn’t miss the strange look they gave him. Was it that obvious he wasn’t from the same, rich background? He had tried to wear his finest of clothes today to blend in.

Harry fiddled with his pocket, bringing out his house key as they walked up the steps and towards the front door.

“I warn you,” Harry said, putting the key into the lock. “It’s a little… it’s something else.”

“I’m kinda excited to see the inside.”

“Come on, then.”

The entrance was wide and beautiful. The walls were panelled, a large gold mirror hanging from the wall. On the side was a table, gold plated bowls sitting on top with keys and selection of decorations. It was clean. Unlike Louis’ house, shoes would be thrown around, jackets left on the floor. No. Harry’s house was neat. The floors were white tiled, clear and not a footprint mark anywhere.

“Shit.”

Harry laughed. “You haven’t even walked inside yet!”

Louis took his vans off, putting them to the side as Harry did the same with his boots. They walked down the hallway. There were many different doors, leading to many different places. Louis wondered if he’d ever get lost in such a huge palace.

“Um, this is one of the living rooms,” Harry said, opening the two oak doors, revealing the room.

The living room was spacious and was panelled with dark brown wood. There was intricate detailing on the ceilings, carved patterns, with pillars to match by the door. The room had a darker feel. It wasn’t modern but rather, luxurious. The furniture matched perfectly to the walls, brown but contrasted with cream sofas. The windows took up a whole third of the wall, outlooking the acre of fields. There was so much that Louis could hardly believe how gorgeous it was.

“This is the size of my entire house,” Louis blurted out, shaking his head in amazement as he observed the room again.

He had spent his entire life in a box room, in a small house that could barely accommodate his family. He never knew other people’s fortune could be this lucky, they could afford such luxuries. But Louis came to a realisation. Every person, rich or poor, were suffering and he had been oblivious to Harry’s struggles. He had been ignorant to assume everything was okay with Harry’s life because of his inheritance and his obvious class status. He was never going to assume and make that mistake again.

Harry looked over and shrugged. “I guess, my parents like to go big.”

“Do you want to talk to Anne or Alan first?” Louis asked. “Or do you want to give me the grand tour first?”

“Do… do you mind if we skip the tour?” He breathed out. “I don’t plan on ever returning here. Ever. This isn’t my home, it never was. This room, itself…” Harry stopped, looking over the massive living room. “I’ve endured so many… beatings, slaps, punches here. I’ve fallen down,” he pointed to a space in the room, in between two sofas, “right there so many times whilst Alan stood over me.”

Louis’ chest tightened at the image. He doesn’t think he could control himself when he came face-to-face with Alan.

“Of course,” Louis smiled at him. “We can skip the tour. Who even wants to see an ugly ass house in Surrey, hm?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “My parents sit in the other living rooms. This is often left for decoration, to show off. Come.”

They exited the room, walking down the winding hallway until they arrived to another door. The door was panelled with frosted glass, painted white and from the outside, Louis could sense the room inside had a brighter, more lively feel to it.

Harry paused outside.

“Sorry,” he said shakingly, his lips wobbling. “This is a little… I’ve been dreaming of this day.”

Louis nodded. “Of course. Take your time.”

He rubbed his thumb on the back of Harry’s hands, ghosting over his knuckles, trying to soothe him over with his touch. Harry exhaled and each time, a wave of tension rolled off his shoulders until he looked ready. There was a hint of something in his eyes. It looked like determination, like the years of abuse had finally tipped him right over the edge in the best kind of way.

“Let’s do this.”

Harry opened the door and lead Louis inside, not letting go of their hands.

As promised, Alan and Anne were sitting inside. The room was entirely different to the previous one. It was not dark, it didn’t have an empty hollow feel. Instead, this room was painted white. The furniture installed was modern, something out of a contemporary London apartment, and the sofa was large, cosy. It almost looked homely. It almost had life and personality. Anne was sitting with a cup of tea, Alan was flicking through a newspaper but they both halted upon the arrival of his son.

Harry hadn’t told his parents he was returning to Surrey for a visit so they both looked surprised.

Louis’ fixed on Alan, the ugly feeling that arose in his chest, and watched how Alan’s lips snarled when his eyes travelled down to their entwined hands. Harry noticed and he only held on tighter. Louis’ heart soared with pride. This was really happening.

Anne was up on her feet instantly. “Harry, dear!” She said, her voice shrill as she walked over to the pair of them. She completely ignored Louis. “How are you—”

Harry shook his head firmly, taking a step back as Louis followed. Anne’s face fell, the happiness draining from her features as she took a step back too. Alan stood up this time, his face turning grave and angered. Louis couldn’t barely focus on one thought, his emotions turning and mixing. He could only imagine how Harry was feeling.

“Harry?” Anne said, sounding like a beaten down toddler. “What’s… what are you doing, son?”

“Ma, I’m not here for reunions.”

“Why are you here then? Why didn’t you call me, or your father to let us know? Gemma’s home too, darling.”

Harry’s eyes widened at that. “She is?”

Anne nodded, still looking uncertain as her eyes drifted to the ceiling. “She’s upstairs, in her room. Do you want me to call her down?”

Harry hesitated, his eyes filtering to Louis who offered a small nod. “Yeah.”

Anne walked over to the maid that was working in the kitchen besides the room, requesting her to call Gemma down before she walked back to the pair.

“So, what is this about?”

“Let’s wait for G—”

Alan, however, seemed to have enough. He stormed towards them, pushing Anne out of his path and focusing his large, intimidating eyes on Harry. Louis watched the instant effect it had on Harry. How the boy recoiled, inching back and how he shrunk in size underneath his father’s gaze. That was a reaction that would never falter. He had been schooled into thinking Alan would hurt him every single time he did something. Anything.

“What do you call this, Harry?” Alan demanded to know. “I told you to stay the fuck away from this.. This peasant!”

Louis wanted to feel offended but he didn’t. Instead, he let out a sharp chuckle and shook his head. Alan turned to him.

“Do you call this a joke, you peasant?” Alan spat, eyes narrowing on Louis.

But he wasn’t afraid. “I think you’re quite the joke, Alan. Yeah, I do.”

“Excuse me? Do you know who you’re talking to?”

“Oh, yeah,” the words drawled out lazily. “I’m fully aware. The man who has—”

Harry squeezed his hands in a silent reminder and he was brought out of his trance, realising he was about to expose his boyfriend before Harry had the chance himself. He clamped his mouth shut.

Alan raised a brow. “No, please. Do finish your sentence.”

Just then, Gemma filtered into the room. Louis’ eyes upon Harry’s sister for the first time in person. She was a wonderful woman, as Harry had described her many times. She was petite, beautiful, with short flowing silver hair and bright green eyes that was identical to Harry. She had a funky dress sense—a black dress, ripped tights, dark lipstick but there was something magical about her. Just her presence lit up the room.

Gemma looked from her parents, to his brother, in confusion.

“Harry?” She said, her voice velvet smooth. “What’s going on? You’re home?”

Harry looked over to her, smiling widely. “Yeah, Gem. I’m here to do something.”

“Oh?”

“I need to tell you both something.”

Louis felt like he couldn’t breathe. This was the moment it all counted down to. This is what it added up to. He had been waiting for this day: the day Alan would be exposed for all his worth. Finally, Harry could voice the abuse, the torment. He could talk about what he had successfully bottled up.

Anne furrowed his brow impatiently. “Son, I don’t appreciate this waiting game. You turn up, out of nowhere, unannounced, holding hands with a boy…” her voice wavered, eyes only filtering to Louis for less than a second. “Now, you’re making me nervous. Please, do explain yourself.”

Harry took a steady breath. “I need to tell you about Alan.”

Alan’s eyes widened. “Boy, what do you think you’re doing?”

He continued, however, not sparing his father a glance. “I need to tell you the truth, the whole truth. I want you to know everything. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to. After all, ma, he is your husband and Gemma, your father.”

“Harry?” Gemma asked, voice fearful.

“There’s a reason I hate Surrey,” Harry began.

Louis held on tightly. He wanted to protect Harry, wanted to hold him but he also wanted to get this over and done with. He felt like his bones would crush if they both squeezed any harder but he didn’t mind.

“And what is that?” Anne asked.

“Ma, you’ve been so painfully oblivious,” he said with a laugh. “At first, I wondered if you were purposely doing it—ignorance is bliss, after all, right? I thought you knew but wanted to pretend you really didn’t know.”

Her eyes were angered now. “Stop this nonsense, Harry! Stop talking in riddles!”

Alan looked enraged, too. “I’d quit ahead if I was you, Harry.”

Harry shook his head, letting out another incredulous laugh as he looked to Alan. “I’m done with being afraid of you, Alan. I’m done pretending there’s some sort of bond here, like we’re actually father-son.”

Gemma took a step towards him. “Harry, babe, what’s going on?”

“Alan has abused me,” Harry admitted in a rush. “Always has, probably always will if I don’t put an end to it.”

Anne gasped though she looked unconvinced, her eyes travelling to Alan who offered a shrug. Like he had no idea what was going on.

Harry continued. “Alan has hit me, beat me, punched me. With his fists, with his belt—with everything you could imagine. From the beginning. He strangled me once, nearly killing me. For any reason. He didn’t need a reason, actually.” He looked up from the space he had been staring at. His eyes were electric. “It got worst before I left for Guildhall, though. When I refused to take part of the business.”

Gemma’s eyes were swimming with tears. “Please, tell me this is a joke, Harry.”

“I wish, Gemma. But it’s the truth. This man,” He pointed his index finger at Alan, “has ruined me, has broken my soul and shattered me. This man has terrorised me and tormented me from the day I could walk.”

Alan looked overwhelmed with fury, his face pale and his upper lip shaking. He advanced towards Harry, fists clenched and raised, ready to blow but Louis pushed Harry out of the way and stood before him.

“Don’t you dare!” Louis shouted, his hand coming to stop Alan’s fist with all the force possible in his frame. He pushed it back, shaking his head. He was livid and he was fighting for Harry. “Don’t you dare raise your fucking tainted, bloody hands at my boy ever again!”

Alan’s hand fell lifelessly to his side, gobsmacked. “You… you little, poor, peasant. You don’t belong in my property!”

Louis laughed. “I’m here for Harry.”

“I ought to call the police,” he shook his head. “Or, maybe, the fucking chancellor! Get you done for trespassing, for stealing.”

“What did I steal, Alan, please do tell me?”

He was too angered to speak, the words tumbling out of his words. “Harry, my son, so fucking ungrateful! Making up these lies about me. What about everything I’ve done for you? Thrown money at you, accepted your queer Theatre route in life?”

“It’s not a lie!” Harry screamed.

Anne took a step towards them. “Harry. I don’t appreciate this nonsense.”

“Nonsense?!” He cried. “Ma, don’t be naive! You know Alan, you know what he is capable of! He has abused me, ma! He has hit me, hurt me!”

“What kind of proof do you have for these claims, huh?!”

Louis wanted to scream at Anne for being so stupid. Instead, he replied cooly. “He has bruises, marks all over his body, Anne.”

She looked to him with disgust. “You will not speak to me. I do not know who you are.”

Gemma walked towards them, stepping between Anne and the boys. “Mother, you are rather ridiculous. I knew you were gone for Alan, his money and his estate, but not this far up his ass!”

“Gemma!” She cried in shock.

Harry was smirking, because of course he was, and Louis noticed his lips twitching every two seconds. Alan turned to Gemma this time.

“Apologise to your mother right now.”

“No!”

“Shut the fuck up, all of you!” Harry interrupted. “I didn’t come here for a fight. I came here to tell you the truth. You want proof, ma? Okay, fine.” He let go of Louis’ hands to lift his shirt, revealing his abdomen and chest covered in bruises. He dropped the shirt, holding his hand again. “That is not even all of it.”

Anne looked like she was about to throw up, paling. “Harry…” Her voice sounded small.

“I knew you would take his side. I’m not surprised, at all.”

“Harry..” she repeated, her voice shaking.

“I came here to tell you this and to tell you, Alan, you can’t control me anymore,” his voice came off strong. “I’m done, you hear me? I’m done with you, your illusion where you think you can mend me, shape me to be your puppet. I’m fucking done.”

Alan laughed. “Do you hear yourself? I’m your father, you can’t be done.”

“Oh, but I am.”

“You’re so full of yourself, you know that, Harry?” Alan mocked. “A small teenager like you, thinking you can talk to your father in this manner. Do you realise behind closed doors, how you plead and beg me to stop? You’re a child in front of me. You want to act above yourself in front of your queer friend, that’s fine by me but don’t come running back to—”

“Louis is not my queer friend. He is my boyfriend. I love him.”
“So you keep saying.”

“Because it’s the truth.”

“I’m calling the chancellor right now,” Alan was shaking his head, seeming to have enough, as he picked up his phone. “I’m telling him to exclude this leech from Guildhall! Louis Tomlinson, your days are over!”

Harry let go of Louis’ hand and for a second, Louis thought it was over. Again. Harry was giving up, again even though he had come so far.

He tried not to register the immediate sinking feeling, his stomach dropping to his feet as his expression fell.

But, Harry walked towards Alan. Within seconds, he had pried the phone out of Alan’s hands and had thrown it on the floor. He stepped over it with the heel of his foot, pressing down until a sound of a crack was evident through the room. Harry looked powerful. He looked in control. Alan looked defeated, a look of disbelief on his face.

“You try it,” Harry dared, picking up the vase on the table and throwing it over the phone too. “I dare you to, Alan.”

“You little shit—”

“Gonna hit me, Alan?” He mocked. “Over the head, hands around my neck, punches to my chest? What’s your preference this time? Or maybe you want to use your belt instead! Please do enlighten us!”

“You think by breaking my phone, I’ll stop?” Alan questioned.

“Nah. I don’t, to be honest,” Harry took a step back, spitting on the floor by the broken phone. “But, I also know two can play at the blackmail game.”

“What are you trying to say here?”

“I’m saying, I know you’re not the straight and narrow person you try to be. Can you imagine how outraged the students of Guildhall, the general public, would be if they realised the money you paid off to let me have the place? Or the money you give to the chancellor to ensure I get a role in everything in Guildhall? You, and mother, both. To be the best.”

Alan narrowed his eyes. “Are you threatening me?”

“I’m telling you—you leave me alone. You never contact me again. You will allow me and Louis to be. I’m never coming home again, ever. Surrey is over for me. I’m never returning here. I’ve accepted a postgraduate degree in Music and I’m fulfilling my desires of being a musician. You will keep my name out of your wretched mouth, you’ll pretend you’ll never know me otherwise, I’ll have no trouble telling everyone who you truly are. Corrupt, miserable, depressed, abusive old man.”

Anne was crying now. “Does this mean you’ll cut me off?”

Harry looked over to his mother with a small sigh. “I love you, ma. I’m not cutting you off but maybe, some space will be nice. For a while.”

Anne looked away, like the prospect was too much for her to bare and Louis knew this was the end.

Gemma embraced Harry tightly, squeezing each bone and whispering how proud of him she was.

“I’m leaving now,” Harry announced. “If you know what’s best, you’ll leave and Louis alone and allow us to leave. I’ll see you around Gemma,” he kissed her cheeks. “My apartment is always open for you. Bye, ma. One day, I’ll come back for you,” he promised before taking one last, long disgusted look at Alan and then exiting the room.

They left the house.

They hailed an Uber back to the hotel, not touching or talking.

It wasn’t till they were back in the hotel room, when they were under the covers, Harry let out the first of his sobs.

“Why are you crying, babe?” Louis asked frantically, trying to embrace him and hold him through the force of his heavy crying. “Come on, babe. Please. Don’t be sad. You did it, Harry. You fucking did it!”

Harry shook his head against Louis’ chest, smearing his shirt with tears.

“I’m not sad. I’m not sad, I promise. I… I feel so powerful, so liberated—I can’t help but cry.”

Louis’ breath was knocked out of him, pride swelling in his chest.

“Fuck, yeah. Powerful, you are and you’re free. Harry, you’re free.”

“I’m free,” he repeated like he couldn’t quite believe it.

Then they were kissing.

**
Daft Punk - Get Lucky

“Patrick really outdid himself.”

They were standing in a large hall, one Patrick had hired out for a goodbye party for the theatre students of theatre. It was a grand hall, located in the heart of Central London, minutes away from Baker street. The room had been decked out with decorations, expensive and pretentious banners and food and classic music playing in the background.

Harry and Louis had arrived together to the party, hand-in-hand with smiles on their faces.

Harry was wearing a ruffled white button down, paired with tight black slacks and a black blazer. His hair was growing fast, curling behind his hair and he had paired the entire outfit with black dress shoes. He looked immaculate. He looked stunning. He was the night of the life, without fail.

Louis, besides him, didn’t look nearly as well presented but he had tried.

He was wearing a white button down, an expensive tie that he had borrowed off Harry that was black with white borders, grey speckled blazer with black jeans. He was wearing loafers on his feet, also Harry’s shoes and his hair was pulled up in a perfect quiff. He looked ready for the party.

Zayn had already arrived an hour ago, had volunteered to set up the hall with Liam. He was wearing a floral shirt, blazer and looked ripped straight out of a magazine. Liam looked well put together in his navy blue shirt, red tie and greeted everyone.

“You and I, Zayn, we don’t belong here!” Louis laughed over the music drifting through the room, the hum of the instruments. “This isn’t for us scholarship kids.”

Harry hissed besides him. “Don’t say that.”

Zayn, however, just laughed and shrugged. “Maybe so, but I’ve started to enjoy the rich life.”

“You’re abandoning me!”

“Forever!” Zayn laughed before he excused himself and Liam.

“Is Niall attending?” Louis asked as he steered Harry towards the table of drinks, pouring himself some punch. Obviously, Patrick hadn’t opted for the beers and the vodka. There was a fine selection of champagne or cranberry juice. Or punch. “I miss him, where has been lately?”

“He’s attending, he’s my plus-one.”

“I’m not your plus one?” Louis asked, faux offended as he pouted.

Harry rolled his eyes, leaning down to kiss a firm kiss on his lips. “Of course, could never replace you. Obviously.”

As promised, Niall did end up showing up. He looked well put together, never looked more presentable, in his light suit and his blue tie, his blonde hair pulled back. He greeted both Louis and Harry, immediately grabbing a glass of champagne and beginning to ramble about his argument with his girlfriend, unsure how to solve the issue at hand.

Patrick handed out awards halfway throughout the party.

“As a glorious year comes to an end!” Patrick said over the rumble of the people, tapping his microphone to gain everyone’s undivided attention. “I would like to give out some awards, recognition, to some people who have made this class so enjoyable!”

Obviously, Harry got an award.

He got the most improved and blossoming award. He accepted with gratitude, features smoothed out, relaxed as he took the statue off Patrick and hugged him briefly.

Louis also managed to get an award, too.

Patrick had handed out the best actor in the theatre class to him. He blushed, unsure whether he was worthy of such an exceptional award, but he moved towards the front and accepted it off Patrick. He thanked him, again and again, and embraced him tightly. Patrick was the best professor he would ever meet in his life.

Then everyone moved the tables and chairs, creating room to dance.

The music changed to ‘Daft Punk - Get Lucky’ and in that moment, nothing else mattered. Everybody got up, the shy students and the outspoken, and began to move to the rhythm of the song. Niall didn’t waste any time, finding Zayn and moving against his body as Liam joined in.

Harry walked up to Louis, giving his hand out.

“Would you care to join me, Louis Tomlinson, in a dance?” He asked, in the utmost posh voice, dripping with glory.

Louis rolled his eyes, reaching over to pinch his hips before nodding.

Harry took his hands, leading him to the middle of the crowded dance floor. They both had a flute of champagne in their hands as they begun to dance. It didn’t matter how ridiculous they looked, how Louis was throwing his hands in the air, how Harry was putting his head back and waggling his tongue.

They were young and they were in love.

Harry moved closer to him, resting his head on Louis’ shoulders as the song continued to blare in the background. They slowly rocked their hips back and forth, momentarily halting most of their movements. Louis tried to absorb his presence.

“I love you, Louis.”

Louis could never get tired of those words. He tightened his arms around Harry’s waist, bringing him impossibly closer.

“And I love you, Harry.”

“Seriously. I love you so much.”

“Me too, baby.”

“We’re staying in London together. Just the two of us.”

Louis nodded, smiling at the thought of another promised year they’d been present with each other. He would be in London, trying to find jobs, and Harry would be completing his Masters. Everything felt serene. Even though some things weren’t clear, it didn’t matter. Things were going to work out. They were going to fall into place. He had one thing that was abundantly clear, that gave him happiness: Harry and he was never going to let go for him.

“Well, with the exception of Zayn, Liam and Niall,” Louis reminded.

Harry sighed. “Niall’s moving to Manchester, sadly.”

“He is?” His stomach dropped, immediate sorrow taking over. He had grown fond of Niall.

“Mmm. Soon after his graduation.”

“Oh, curly,” Louis sighed, embracing him properly. “I’m sorry. I know you’re going to miss him.”

“Yeah. So much.”

“We can visit him, though? Yeah? All the time, even! It’ll be fun, us two travelling together.”

“Do you think?”

Louis nodded eagerly. “Yeah, of course! Travelling is something I aspire to do, when I start earning properly. Maybe backpack around Europe, around Australia.”

Harry’s eyes had stars in them. “Will you let me come with you? I want to see the world, too.”

He could choke with how much love was present between them. He wanted to grab ahold of the feeling, shove it into a jar and preserve it forever. He wanted this forever.

“There’s really nobody else I’d travel with.”

And then, in amidst of the hundreds of students, the professors, Harry kissed him. Everyone must’ve noticed because they began to cheer.

Louis realised, with a start, this was Harry’s coming out. He had never truly announced his sexuality to anyone except the LGBT society, and his parents, and now he was taking one bold step. He was kissing Louis in front of everyone, under scrutinising eyes and confused whispers.  

In that moment, Louis felt untouchable.

He kissed back like his life depended on it.

Chapter Text

Brinnnnnng. Briiinnnng.

Louis groaned in his sleep. He’s wrapped up in Harry’s arm but he’s feeling uncomfortable and sweaty. It was June and only getting hotter by the day, London reaching an all-time high. He sighed, trying to struggle out of the embrace so he could retrieve his phone. He was going to curse out whoever decided it was a logical idea to call on a Wednesday morning.

Brinnnnnng. Briiinnnng.

“Jesus!” Louis muttered under his breath, irritation sweeping into his tone as he grabbed his iPhone off his bedside table and accepted the call. “Hello?” The clipped tone in his voice clear. “Who is this, hello??”

“Hello, sir,” A confident, serious voice came through the line. “Am I talking to Louis Tomlinson?”

He stumbled to sit up, drawing the blanket over his knees. “Um, yes, this is he. Who am I talking to, may I ask?”

“Hello, sir. I’m Alfred Smith and I’m calling from Queen’s Theatre, located in the West End. I am sure you have heard of us?”

“I—yes, of course! I have! An extraordinary theatre, indeed.”

Queen’s Theatre was nowhere as big, or as popular, as the agency that was supposed to give Louis an opportunity. But still, it was something. It was somewhere. It was a start. Louis’ heart started to race and he hated the flash of hope that registered through him, nothing was for certain and yet he was hanging onto every word.

“Hello, sir. I am calling on behalf of the Queen’s Theatre, I am one of the recruiting agents here. Patrick Hackins, your professor at Guildhall University, forwarded your details to us. He included three tapes of your performances.”

Louis flushed. “Ah, yes. He is, indeed, a wonderful man.”

“Well, sir. Can I call you Louis?”

“Of course.”

“Well, Louis. We were very impressed by your tapes and we were compelled to call you and offer you an opportunity.”

“Offer me?”

“We would like you to join our crew, perform amongst us for our theatre shows. We want to call you in for an interview. If that is okay with you?”

Louis’ throat went dry, his heart pumping and the initial adrenaline pumping through his veins.

“Oh, wow,” Louis croaked out, unable to believe what he was hearing. “I… sir, that would be an honour. Truly.”

“The honour would be ours. How about we set the interview date for six days from now, on the following Tuesday? We will email you all the details and preparation you will need.”

“That’s perfect, sir.”

“Brilliant! We look forward to seeing you soon.”

“Me too, sir. Thank you for the opportunity, I hope I will not disappoint.”

“We hope not, too.”

When the phone conversation was over, he turned to bury his face in the pillow and let out a shrill scream. His mind hadn’t fully come to terms with what had just happened. After all the disappointment, the tears of not receiving the initial job—he finally had an offer staring right back at his face.

Harry woke up due to the noises, stirring in his sleep and muttering out incoherent sounds.

“W-what’s going on?”

Louis pulled the figure towards him, planting a firm kiss that had Harry laughing into his mouth.

“What is it, Lou?” He asked, his voice raspy from the deep slumber he had been pulled out of. “You..” he paused due to another kiss, letting out a laugh. “Calm down, love!”

Louis grabbed ahold of his hand, entwining their fingers together before squeezing hard. “I got a job interview!”

Harry was quiet for a long moment. “Y-you, what? Where?”

“Queen’s Theatre!”

His eyes were bulging, his mouth falling open in surprise. Before either of them could get another word out, their lips were crashing together in another bruising kiss. They laughed into each other’s mouths, the happiness radiating through the room and between them. When Harry pulled away, he cradled Louis’ face in his hands.

“You’re going to smash this,” he promised, kissing between each other. “You’re going to be so good, Louis. I’m so proud of you. Queen’s Theatre!” He said in awe, shaking his head, his eyes twinkling. “Truly amazing.”

“I love you, Harry.”

“And I love you, too, Louis.”

And then they were kissing again.

**

In July, everything changed.

Liam and Zayn announced they were backpacking around Europe, and then Africa, and weren’t going to be home for the better half of the remaining year. Liam was moving out, so was Zayn leaving the apartment alone for Louis and one less for Harry. Halfway through July, Niall announced he was moving to Manchester with his girlfriend.

It was a tearful departure, one that included Harry crying on Niall’s shoulder and Niall swearing that he’d call everyday and check in. Niall was sorrowful to leave London, a vibrant city full of chances, but claimed his true home was with his girlfriend back at her hometown.

Now, they were left alone in their apartments.

The topic was mentioned one day over dinner. They were sitting in a Chinese restaurant, sharing a bowl of Chow Mein and egg fried rice between the two of them. Louis was sipping at his cocktail, admiring Harry from where he sat.

“So..” Harry said, a sheepish smile on his face.

“So?”

“So… we’re both alone in London now,” He said. He still sounded disappointed about it, like the mere mention of that made his heart heave.

Louis missed Zayn terribly. He had been gone for nearly three weeks now, barely anytime at all, but he felt the absence. The apartment felt cold, empty. Traces of Zayn had been removed. His cologne, his clothes thrown across the house, his favourite brand of coffee and his crumpets he had every morning. He missed his best friend. He barely got any time to talk to him.

Every now and then, Zayn would FaceTime him from whatever country he was in for the time being. It started off with France, they had taken a ferry out to Calais and began travelling around with the trains. He would send pictures everyday of France, of the eiffel tower, of the beaches in Cannes and Passage Pommeraye in Nantes. He was then in Belgium, in the Netherlands and then the calls came less often, the pictures occasionally.

He knew Harry was missing Liam, too. He would refuse to talk about it, like it was too hard for him to do so. He knew it was considerably harder for him, Niall had disappeared too. Now, it was just the two of them. Their group had been separated and they were both finding themselves missing the presence of their friends.

“Indeed, we are,” Louis sighed, stirring the straw in his drink. “Do you miss Liam, and Niall?”

He looked up, shrugging. “Always. And Zayn?”

“All the time.”

“Have you heard of them recently?”

“Nah. Zayn sent me a picture of Poland two days ago, it looks pretty awesome.”

“I want to live like them,” Harry said with a small smile. “Not tied down, free, moving around and never stopping.”

“We could, if you wanted to,” he suggested. “Unfortunately, we have commitments.”

“Fuck the postgraduate and the job,” Harry giggled.

Come September, Harry would be starting his postgraduate degree in Music and he’d been chasing his dreams. He had already started prepping, purchasing multiple things for his course including a new fancy guitar. He played it often for Louis. They’d cuddle up near the space heater, sitting Indian style opposite each other as his fingers strummed the strings of the guitar.

Come September, Louis would be performing for the first time on a big scale. Guildhall was gone, the small theatre, the small dreams. He’d be in Queen’s Theatre, on the stage, surrounded by real people—not just students and professors. He had already been assigned a show: Romeo and Juliet and was delighted when he landed Romeo. He had made good friends, Megan, Liz and William and was beginning to close the gap of Zayn’s departure.

“Actually, I wanted to propose something,” Harry continued with a glint of something mischievous in his eyes, raising his glass of champagne.

Louis’ brows shot up. “If you suggest we abandon our commitments, book a flight out of ‘ere, I might have to follow. So, don’t.”

He rolled his eyes. “Now, that would just be irresponsible!”

“Well, what do you say, then?”

“Since we’re both alone now, in our apartments… how do you feel about, um, maybe moving in together?” A long pause followed, Louis mostly in shock so Harry quickly continued. “Not like boyfriend’s, or anything, but like friends? We can sleep in separate rooms and everything. Like you and Zayn.”

Louis put his cocktail glass down. “You’re serious?”

“Um.. yes, I am.”

“Wow.”

“I know it’s a little soon,” he sounded annoyed now, pushing his curls off his face. “Nevermind, I don’t even know why—”

Louis reached over, grabbing his hands. “I’d love to.”

“I… wait, really?”

“Yeah! Of course! I’d love to, Harry. It’d be a pleasure to share my space with you. Let’s do it!”

**

They got a small flat in Hampstead Heath.

They went to view the flat together and instantly fell in love. What it lacked in size, it made up with personality. The living room had  cream coloured walls, already furnished with grey sofas and a four seater table. The kitchen was a downgrade from both their previous apartments, barely any room for more than two people to wander in at one given time. But it still had granite worktops, tiled walls and Louis could imagine baking together in there. The two bedrooms were small, the king size bed pretty much taking up the entire space but it was still perfect for them.

The rent was only £385 per week, which was decent for London standards, and split between two, it was easily affordable. It was in a convenient location, in North London, surrounded by beautiful parks and serene small town centre.

A week later, they signed the lease and the following week they moved in.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t get anything bigger,” Harry had said when all the boxes were in the main room, scattered everywhere, making the place look even smaller. “I… you know my parents have cut off my inheritance and my allowance.”

Things for Harry had been difficult since he had cut ties with his parents. Alan had refused to spend another penny on him, freezing his accounts and removing any potential, future money he could’ve had. He was essentially broke. He got a job at a florists, saving up whilst he had time off for University. He claimed student loans, promising to come through his account when he started.

All in all, he was going to be alright.

Louis shook his head, holding Harry’s forearms. “Babe. It doesn’t matter, really. We’re here, in London, together. Nothing else matters. I would live in scraps for you, with you. This is a luxury.”

Though it had helped make Harry smile, he still didn’t look convinced.

“But we went down a size, both from my and your apartment.”

“So? Look at where we are, Harry. We’re in Hampstead, surrounded by the calm life. It isn’t the bustling environment like Camden. It’s like we’re settling down. We’re blessed to be here, I’m happy to be here.”

And that was the end of that.

**

They hosted a housewarming party.

Niall came back down to London with his girlfriend in tow. Chloe is a beautifully stunning girl, with long blonde hair and wide blue eyes. Together, they looked like a power couple. She is a nurse and Niall has started to work in a record shop whilst producing, and writing, for multiple big names, hoping to make his name.

Harry had been so happy to see a familiar face, he bursted into tears as soon as Niall walked through the threshold.

“Jesus!” Niall laughed, bringing him into an embrace and rubbing his back. “Dear, what’s with these waterworks? You really need to stop crying every time you see me.”

“I can’t help it.”

“Come on, c’mere, no more tears.”

Louis’ new friends came along too, bringing a selection of food as well as Harry’s old Guildhall friends and of course, Patrick.

Liz and Megan helped the guests to their food, serving them and pouring in champagne for everyone. William, a natural extrovert, made his way around the guests in the room and introduced himself. Louis admired his new friends. All three of them were talented, bustling with positive energy and the desire to do better, to do more. He certainly had chosen new gems of friends.

Patrick showed up with an expensive bottle of wine, dressed in his peculiar blazer.

“Evening, lads!” He greeted both Louis and Harry, eyes sparkling as he looked around the apartment. “Wonderful place you got, an amazing location. What brought you to Hampstead?”

Louis shrugged, snaking an arm around Harry’s waist out of habit and holding him in close.

“I guess, we just liked what Hampstead had to offer. It’s a quiet borough, much of a change than Camden or Kensington.”

Patrick nodded in agreement. “And congratulations for Queen’s Theatre! I’m so happy you got the job there, I had forwarded your details to them. How are you finding it?”

They conversed back and forth about the new job, how Louis was fitting in, how he landed the main role with ease. He promised to save Patrick a seat right at the front for the first performance due in a month and half.

Zayn called Louis halfway through the party.

“‘Ello, babe,” Louis said as he walked into the spare room, shutting the door behind him not to appear rude to his guests. “Where are you now, lemme guess! Mmm… Bulgaria!”

“Good guess,” he laughed. His voice filtered through the line, sounding weary and Louis had missed this same voice so much. He didn’t acknowledge the tears brimming his eyes. “We’re actually in Prague, Czech Republic.”

“Fancy. What’s it like?”

“Beautiful, as always.”

“Wonderful. I’m expecting pictures. And how’s Liam, we miss you both dearly. We were hoping to see you at the housewarming party.”

Zayn sighed. “Liam’s good. He came down to a flu whilst we were in Cologne, unfortunately. We had to stay there longer than anticipated.” He paused. “I’m sorry, jaan. For not coming to the party. We would if we could, it’d just… really, no excuse… ugh.”

He noted the obvious frustration, his heart warming.

“Zayn, you don’t have to apologise,” he said sincerely, smiling. “I know you would, if you could. I just hope you’re happy.”

“I am, Louis. I am… I love him so much.”

“I know, babe.”

“But seriously, I hope you’re liking the new apartment.”

“I love it,” Louis answered truthfully. “It’s definitely something, I love Hampstead and I love Harry, so. All works out.”

They talked for five more minutes before Louis excused himself, claiming it was rude to leave his guests for a phone call. They promised to see each other soon, taking a break between Europe and Africa, to return home though they didn’t have a set home anymore. Louis promised there was space at his flat at any given time.

The rest of the housewarming party was bliss. There was alcohol, carrot cake and good music as they danced the night away. Louis remembered, mostly, Harry’s content smile throughout the entire night and realised, he wouldn’t want anyone or anything else.

**

August flew by and September, finally, rolled around.

Harry began his Master’s degree and was finding it enriching and fulfilling. He was attending four days a week, taking a train into Central London, where he’d send pictures of his new friends, of the surroundings as well as audios of him singing to Louis every single day. He’d return home, exhausted, and Louis would have a meal prepared, warm and ready as they’d watch a movie together.

Since Harry started attending university again, he seemed different. He seemed lighter, free.

One night, Harry whispered into Louis’ ear after his orgasm. Louis had fucked him, bent over the foot of the bed and they were both coming down from their high.  “I’ve been liberated, Louis. I’ve been unburdened,” and Louis realised he was at his prime time with life.

Louis’ date for his performance came closer. The days got more challenging, more hours were demanded and he was finding himself working and rehearsing constantly. Being Romeo, the starring role, as an upcoming West End actor was thrilling but also terrifying. When they had successfully ran through the performance once, they all went out for drinks where Megan made a toast to Louis.

His new friends were all wonderful, had a backstory of their own that Louis listened to intently.

Liz was originally from Long Island in New York. She had attended Juilliard but moved to London, wanting a change of scenery and somewhere different to what she had been exposed to since the beginning. She wanted challenging. She worked hard for her dreams, funded by his parents, and managed to conquer London.

Megan’s family had been into theatre and therefore, she had an obvious advantage. She was embarrassed by this fact, hated mentioning it and always chased it away with a beer when she announced it. Regardless, she refused to use her family’s money and slaved away at her job, living in an one-bedroom apartment in East London with her boyfriend.

Louis saw a lot of Harry in Megan, saw similarities and naturally, he was most attached to her.

William was a lot like Louis. He was born and raised in Southampton, in a working class lone parent family, and was always at an disadvantage. He had attended a performing Arts school in Kent through scholarship and then settled with Queen’s Theatre.

For Louis’ first show, Zayn and Liam came back to London.

Louis was left gobsmacked when he opened his front door, expecting Megan to arrive, but revealing the couple staring back at him with earnest, wide eyes. He stared in disbelief, eyes flickering between the two of them before letting out a gasp, tears immediately welling in his eyes.

The last time he had seen Zayn was four months ago and now here he was, looking the same but he had gained a bit of weight. His hair was styled differently and had been dyed blonde. He had an edgier taste now, wearing different clothes but all in all, it was still Zayn. His best friend.

Zayn pulled him into his chest, holding Louis in place securely as he rubbed his back. “Why are you crying, silly?” He tutted, though he sounded choked up himself.

Louis couldn’t stop the moisture rolling down his cheeks as he sniffled. “You actually came? You’re here?” He reached over for Liam, squeezing his wrist. “Oh my god. You’re here!”

Zayn laughed. “How could we miss your first performance, huh?”

“You didn’t even tell me you were coming!”

Zayn pulled out of the hug, holding his hands and squeezing. “I wanted it to be a surprise and sensing your reaction, I guess it was worth seeing your reaction.”

“You cunts!”

They prepared an early lunch together in the small kitchen. Liam continuously complimented the place, and Hampstead, how much he’d love to live here and Louis wondered if they were ever planning to settle in one place. Probably not anytime soon. Still, the idea of living close to his two best friends was thrilling.

“There’s so much of the world to see, Lou! We’ll settle when we’re older,” Zayn had said and Liam had nodded in agreement.

Johannah and Dan were planning to come to London just before showtime, giving him time to meet his family after the performance.

They ate their lunch together, conversing back and forth about the couple’s wild adventures.

“Well, we’ve got a few countries left in Europe,” Liam said, pushing the pasta around his plate with a smile. “We have Spain, Italy, Croatia and god knows, everywhere else. Then, we’ll be returning here, save some money, then go to Africa.”

“Mmm. After Africa, we’re returning for a bit,” Zayn supplied.

“Oh, yeah?” Louis asked with a brow raise. “How comes?”

“Well, we’re… um.”

“We’re.. Getting married?” Zayn added on, his smile growing as he put his hand up and showed off his engagement ring.

Harry and Louis both gasped. Louis’ fork fell out of his hands, speechless.

“Married?!” Harry was surprised, he reached over for Zayn’s hands and brought it closer to him. The engagement ring was a simple band with Z. L engraved on top. He inspected it closely. “You’ve been sitting here for an hour now and neglected to tell us this?!”

Zayn pulled his hand back, a pink flush blossoming his cheeks. “We just want to be low-key about it, we don’t want an extravagant ceremony.”

“Mmm,” Liam smiled. “We’re going to stay here for a while after Africa, get an apartment and work to earn money. Once we’ve saved up enough, we’re going to begin to plan the wedding and by next Spring, we hope to be wedded.”

“When did you get engaged? Who asked who?!”

“I asked Zayn whilst we were in Munich. I recorded it all, I can show you the video later.”

Later, Louis had to rush out to ensure he’d be on time for his performance. He planted a kiss on both Liam and Zayn’s cheeks, kissing Harry thoroughly, who all chorused back good luck’s to him. He slipped out of the apartment, feeling geared up and nervous all over to perform for the very first time.

**

The performance went excellent.

Despite it only being his first, he fit in well with his cast and when he took the final bow, he was buzzing with adrenaline. He noticed Harry, Zayn, Liam and his family sitting in the second row and he couldn’t help but let the tears slip.

He was chasing his dreams. He was doing what he loved.

**

“Louis, my son!” Johannah cried later in the night, when they had finished up and were sitting in a pub near the theatre. He wanted to catch drinks with everyone, wanted a quiet environment so he could converse back and forth. She threw her arms around him, hugging him close. “You did so well! I’m so proud of you!”

Louis smiled in her embrace, heart expanding in size. “Thank you, mum. I’m so glad you could make it down! Where’s the girls?”

“They had school, unfortunately and couldn’t be here. They won’t miss your next performance, I promise.”

“How did you find it?” He asked, pushing the pitcher towards them and urging them to help themselves to the drinks around the table. He settled back on the seat, in Harry’s arms. “Did you enjoy the show?”

Johannah nodded eagerly. “Oh, very much! You were stunning out there, Lou!”

“Thank you!” He flushed.

He had been receiving nonstop compliments from everyone and it was making him burn with how hard he was blushing. He appreciated every single comment. He could only wonder how the general public would react to his first, main role.

“The way you presented Romeo was magnificent.”

“It’s all down to the director and my cast,” Louis gave credit where it’s due, smiling as he sipped back on his beer.

Zayn and Liam were sitting with them, also drinking, and commenting back and forth about the show. They were having a length discussion, recalling certain scenes and different actors who were involved.

Dan talked next. “Louis, son,” he said, hesitant like he was unsure whether he was allowed to say anything. Regardless, he had a small smile playing on his lips. “I’m really, honestly, so proud of you. You did well out there.”

Louis knew he had been harsh towards Dan, for absolutely no reason. But Dan was persistent in pursuing a relationship with Louis, he never gave up, always said the sweetest words and gave his utmost encouragement. Louis had expected him to give up, to even resent him for the lack of effort. But Dan was a warrior, bearing all the cold shoulders and the lack of trust and still conversing with Louis.

He knew now he had no real reason to treat Dan the way he did.

The man had done nothing but be there for his family, support Johannah and love her unconditionally, bring a pair of twins into the world and love them and never abandon them. He had done nothing but be there for the other girls, acting like a real father, going to Daisy and Phoebe’s parents evenings and funding Lottie’s makeup career.

He reached over, shaking Dan’s hands. “Dan, I just want to apologise.”

Dan’s eyes widened. “Oh, w-what for?”

“For everything. For how I’ve treated you, never considered you a part of our family. I know now, you are. You treat my mother well, you treat my siblings well and I accept you as my step-dad.”

Dan looked close to tears himself, his eyes watering but he blinked the moisture away quickly. He squeezed Louis’ eyes, contentedness flashing in his eyes.

“Son, I’d love to be your step-dad.”

“Well, you are.”

“I’m so happy you’re giving me the chance, Louis.”

“Ahh,” he shrugged it off. “It’s really overdue, I’ve been a horrible, pessimistic person and I apologise.”

“Oh, no! All understood!”

Louis smiled, withdrawing his hand. “You’ve already given us so much and I hope you never let us down.”

“I don’t intend to.”

Somewhere among the night, Johannah and Dan excused themselves to catch the last train back to Doncaster and then, it was just the four of them. More drinks get passed around, more kisses exchanged between them.

Harry leaned in, his lips grazing on Louis’ ears.

“So gorgeous out there, onstage, performing. In your element.”

Louis hummed, leaning into the touch and letting his eyes shut. “Mmm. Was perfect. Magical. Everything I want, love and more.”

Harry’s hand lands on his inner thighs, squeezing. “When we get back to the house, I’ll be waiting my panties. I want you to fuck me, Louis,” he moaned quietly into Louis’ ears. “I want you to fuck me so hard. I want you to come undone from the entire night. Oh, fuck.”

Louis inhaled. “Are you wearing the panties right now, babe?”

“Mmhm. Red.”

Fuck.”

He smiled, knowing the effect he has on Louis. “If you come to the toilet, we can squeeze in a quickie.”

That’s how they rushed into the toilets, hand-in-hand. Louis bent Harry over the sink, pulling his jeans down and marveled at the red panties. They were so gorgeous, had lace covering half of his asscheeks and a pretty bow on top. He spanked him as he fucked into Harry, rough and hard, barely any prep but he knew Harry loved the slight burn.

They came out, disheveled, and Liam and Zayn only smiled knowingly at them.

**

Louis had slept blissfully, well into the afternoon.

When he woke up at 2pm, he only saw Harry sitting in bed with his head casted downwards. He wasn’t moving, wasn’t speaking. The mere sight of him looking so small caused his heart to give a painful lurch as he pushed himself up through the covers, furrowing his brows.

“Um, Harry?” He called out for him, reaching over to grab his forearm. “Babe, you there? What’s wrong?”

Harry looked up, his eyes brimming with tears. It instantly alerted Louis.

“What’s wrong, love?”

Harry shook his head, his mouth opening before he clamped it shut and sighed heavily. Each moment made him grow more nervous.

“I.. Louis, I have some bad news,” he admitted a moment later, frowning.

Louis nodded. “That’s okay. It’s okay. We’ll work through it. Was it Alan, did he do something?”

He shook his head. “No, no. You don’t understand.”

“Babe, Alan can’t hurt you. He can’t touch you, he can’t do anything anymore! You have to stop worrying, I got your back—”

“Louis,” he said firmly, urgency ringing clear in his voice. “It’s your father.”

This time, he froze. He withdrew his hand instantly, fear and dread running through him as his mind turned to slush. He knew what was coming next. He had been anticipating this exact moment, wondering how he’d react, what he’d say. He knew it was inevitable.

“Yes?”

A lone tear slipped from Harry, he shut his eyes and exhaled. “Louis, Mark passed away in his sleep last night at 4am.”

**

The funeral was depressing.

He was sitting near the front, his hand clutching Harry’s with Johannah, Dan, Lottie and Fizzy besides them. Louis couldn’t feel anything. His eyes were dry, he felt hard and emotionless as he sat in his seat and listened to the sermon. He couldn’t address any of the words being droned at him.

Johannah was sobbing her eyes out.

She couldn’t stop sniffling, receiving pitiful yet bitter stares from Avery who sat in the front with Jacob in her arms.

Every time Louis looked over and acknowledged Jacob, the small boy entwined by his mother, crying softly into her chest—he felt a pang in his chest. He tried to imagine how he’d feel if his father died. Then, he realised with a start, his only father had died. His dead father was in front of him, in a coffin, and suddenly he felt his chest heaving and his heart tightening.

He stumbled out of the service without a word, panic rising in his chest with every passing moment.

Harry ran after him, looked worried. “Lou, wait!”

“Just leave me alone!”

“No, come here, babe!”

Somehow, Harry managed to grab ahold of him and pull him back in an embrace. Louis relaxed into it, his whole weight sagging as he felt himself wrapped around Harry’s warmth. He didn’t deserve this comfort. The tears came out of him easily now.

“Oh, baby..” Harry was whispering soothing words into his hair, stroking his hair and kissing the side of his face. “Cry it out, it’s okay.”

“I don’t deserve to be here.”

“Oh, don’t say that—”

“I don’t. He had called me to fix things, I argued with him even though I knew he was sick. I had one last chance to make things good, but I didn’t take it. I was so consumed by anger. Now, he’s dead. Mark’s dead, Harry. It’s all my fault.”

“It’s not your fault!”

“I could’ve made him happy. I could’ve—” Louis stopped, too raw and painful to continue as he choked up on his words and shook his head furiously. “I… I should’ve tried harder, I should’ve forgiven him. I should’ve tried harder.”

“You did what you could, babe.”

“But it wasn’t enough!”

“Louis..”

Louis was shaking with the guilt that was invading every other thought and feeling in his body. He had the chance to make things right with Mark. His father had reached out to him, numerous times, and he had pushed the chance away. His father had attended his Guildhall performance and Louis still hadn’t talked to him. There was endless choices. Louis hadn’t taken a single one.

He had no right to be crying now, to be attending the funeral now. He didn’t blame Avery for her resentful glances, her stares through the service where she narrowed her eyes pointedly at Louis.

He felt suffocated.

Eventually, they returned inside where Johannah was seeking out his contact worryingly.

“Are you okay, Lou?” Her whisper was hushed, but full of concern.

He nodded, sitting back down and composing himself to see the end of the service. “Mm. I’m alright, mum,” he promised her.

Then it was time for the speeches.

Avery stood up, taking the stage as she tapped the microphone and cleared her voice. Tears were brimming her blue eyes, she was wearing a black dress with a black shawl on top. She looked small. She looked weary and tired, her eyes barely open, her figure weak. She looked awful. Louis could only imagine, she probably had been preparing this funeral service all by herself.

Louis felt another pang of hot, ugly guilt spread through him.

“Before I begin,” she started, taking a deep breath as she blinked away a few tears. “I’d like to thank everyone who attended on behalf of myself, and my son, Jacob. Thank you for helping mark the passing of my lovely, loving husband Mark.”

Louis realised he had gotten married since Mark had happily announced his engagement when they met and another hot flash of guilt crossed him.

Harry was clutching his hand so tight he was sure his bones were going to shatter by the end of the insufferable service.

“I am honoured to be here, I am honoured to talk to you all. I am honoured to be able to talk about my husband, Mark, with you. I know, every single one of you here, have their own relationships with Mark. You all have your own set of memories, whether that is good or bad,” Avery paused to look down to Louis, quickly looking away before her eyes hardened. “But I hope with this eulogy, we can find qualities we both found similar in Mark. The thing is, Mark never claimed to be a perfect man. He had made his own mistakes, some out of fear, some out of immaturity. Deep down inside, Mark was a child trapped in an adult’s body,” she let out a laugh, followed by a few scattered ones across the room. “Because of his nature, he was bound to make mistakes. And God knows, he made his fair share with me too. But God also knows, I loved that man. I forgave Mark, for everything. He was… always so sincere, so giving. He felt everything so deeply, on a level I could only aspire to understand. Whenever Mark was in a tough situation, he fell back on his core values and he remained grounded, he believed in himself.
  
I give you one situation—Mark had demons of his own. When he was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, the battle was ongoing and many times, on and off. He had been cleared and he returned to work. He was eager to supply for me and when Jacob came around, he worked harder just for the money to stack up. But as expected, the cancer came back. He had to quit work. He was homebound and he was terribly depressed, crippled with it. This man, who had been given the news he was going to die, still held onto his core values. He still followed everything he believed. He made his last months worth remembering.

He… Mark,” she sighed, unable to continue and taking a moment to collect herself. “Despite everything, Mark believed in me and I believed in him. We had a relationship that worked. With everything he went through, he still accepted his fate with the utmost of maturity, and he still took care of me and Jacob the best he could.

I hope he knows, somewhere out there, he’s going to be deeply missed. If he was here now, observing his old and new family, crying for him—he would realise he was loved. So dearly. It has only been a privilege to know this man for as long as I have, to love this man for as long as I was allowed to. It’s a cruel reality he was snatched away from me. But, I know he’s in peace, now. Finally, he’s in peace.”

Avery simply couldn’t continue. She was worked up, teary and kept shaking her hand. She stepped down, going back to Jacob and crying into his arms.

**

After the burial, Johannah, Dan and the rest of the girls decided to head home. They felt unwelcome at the gathering at Mark’s house—which was most probably the truth. They all hugged Louis before departing for the next train back to Doncaster.

Louis knew he had two things he had left to do.

Him and Harry went to the gathering, being met by solemn faces. Louis didn't recognise anybody but he still nodded and smiled at everyone. Avery welcomed them in, though her face was least from polite, and urged them to help themselves to anything around the house. However, Louis shook his head and instead held her arm. She was surprised by the hold, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Avery, look…” Louis tried, overwhelmed with the different emotions he had been experiencing all day. “I’m truly, deeply sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine, seriously. I failed to know who Mark was after he left. I regret it now. You have to believe me, I feel nothing but regret and guilt and I know that’s what you want me to feel. But, I’m sorry. It was unfair and it shouldn’t of happened to Mark. I’m so sorry, Avery.”

To everyone’s surprise, her face softened.

“Louis…” She said, her lips twitching. “Thank you for attending, I didn’t know if you’d show, if I’m being honest.”

“I.. I wanted to, of course. He was my father.”

“He was. I.. you can’t blame me for resenting you, just slightly, love. Mark was so eager to form a bond with you again, so much so, he used to cry about it at night when he thought I was sleeping.”

Another pang.

Louis closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. “I feel awful.”

“That’s what death does, doesn’t it? It evokes feelings you didn’t even know were there.”

“Tell me how to make this right.”

She shook her head. “There’s no real, straight-forward answer I can provide you, Louis.”

“Was he in pain when he passed?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Louis could, at least, feel better about one thing. “And how are you, how is Jacob?”

She sighed. “We’re… we’re coping, to say the least. I have a lot of help from my family, my sisters have been staying over and I’ve taken time off work,” her eyes drifted to the distance where Jacob sat by the stairs, isolated, staring at the wall, holding a stuffie. “I’m not sure about Jacob. He’s still so young. I know he knows what’s happening, I just don’t know if he understands fully.”

“Listen, I know it doesn’t mean much but..” Louis looked to Jacob too, seeing himself in the boy. “I’m here now. I’m a little too late, I know. But I’m here. I’ll help you, I’ll help Jacob. Whatever you need, please call me, tell me,” he stressed.

Avery didn’t looked pleased about the idea.

She shrugged. “You’re a good lad, Louis,” she said instead, squeezing his shoulders. “I know now why Mark saw so much in you.”

The dismissal was clear.

Louis never saw the pair of them again after the funeral.

**

“The apartment needs to be perfect!” Harry stressed, running around the place with a duster to ensure it was clean from every inch.

Louis was relaxing on the sofa. He rolled his eyes, putting the cup of tea down before walking up to his boyfriend. He wrapped his arms around Harry’s back, pulling him close and burying his head in Harry’s neck.

“Stop,” he whispered, willing Harry to relax since he had been running around all day. “Why are you so stressed, huh?”

“Gemma is coming to visit. It’s important.”

“I know it is. But you’re working yourself up. Come here,” he held Harry’s hands, leading him back to the sofa and throwing the duster to one side of the room. He sat him down, getting into Harry’s laps. He massaged his shoulders. “You’re all tense, knotted up. Relax, come on.”

Harry sighed heavily, his head rolling back.

“God, fuck. That feels so good.”

“Mmm. Does it?” Louis said with a small smile, working circles into his skin. “You need to chill, Harry. You worry too much.”

“I know, I know. It’s the first time I’m seeing her since… you know.”

“I understand. But this is Gemma, remember?” Louis reminded him. “She loves you, always has and that’s not going to change.”

“I know. I’m just being stupid.”

Louis’ smile grew. He leaned down, kissing Harry firmly on the lips once, twice—he could never get enough. Harry immediately responded, their lips working over each other until Louis started to get restless. He moaned into Harry’s open mouth, rolling his hips into Harry’s crotch and reveling in the way Harry instantly grabbed Louis’ hips.

“Got a few minutes to spare, instead of obsessing over the place?” Louis breathed into his mouth, getting so turned on he could barely think straight. It was amazing that simple contact with Harry could bring him to the edge this fast, this easily.

Harry pulled back, his eyes darkening. “You think you can come in a few minutes, huh?”

“If you get me there, yeah.”

“Fuck. Get up, get this off.”

Louis loved the spontaneous fun they had. They were able to switch up their mood easily. One minute, Harry’s stressed out and trying to get his head straight and the other, they’re growing hard by the minute and undressing. Louis climbed out of his lap for a second, shucking his jeans off before jumping back and kissing Harry with urgency.

The moans get louder as Harry’s hand settle on Louis’ ass, squeezing hard and bringing him closer against his chest.

“What do you want, Lou?”

“I… ah, I wanna blow you,” he said, kissing in between each word. “Then I want you to fuck me, fuck all the frustration and stress out of you.”

Harry nodded, immediately onboard with the idea. “On your knees, then.”

Louis groaned. He wanted to stay on top of Harry for longer, wanted to feel his lips for longer but he obeyed. Sometimes, Harry got into the demanding mood and Louis was more than willing to follow.

He slipped down the floor, on his hunches, and looked up to Harry through his lashes, waiting.

Harry looked a bit shy as he took his own jeans off, revealing his pink panties he was wearing underneath. It had been a while since he had worn lingerie, opting for more comfortable, cotton material boxers. Louis didn’t mind and neither did he ask Harry to wear them. Admittedly, he did miss the panties and the stockings—but he wanted Harry to do as he pleased.

But now, watching Harry in his pretty, pale pink panties made his dick twitch in his boxers.

Fuck,” he muttered. He had never been on the other side when Harry was in lingerie, he was always in charge of the situation.

Harry pulled his panties down, not all the way off and shuffled forward to the edge of the sofa.

He grabbed his half hard cock, growing every second, and tapped it against Louis’ mouth. It was dirty and he couldn’t get enough it. Louis’ tongue reached out, licking over the precum dribbling over the slit and Harry took advantage of the moment. Without a word, or preamble, he pushed his cock in.

Louis relaxed his throat, letting the thick cock reach the back of his throat as he resisted the urge to gag.

Harry didn’t allow Louis any time to suck himself, immediately thrusting in and out. Louis took what he got, licking Harry’s underside of the cock, sucking when he tried to withdraw. Harry looked like he was in heaven, unable to keep back the loud, pretty moans falling from his mouth with his pink panties bunched around his legs.  

Louis was blown away by Harry’s controlling, dominant self.

He was thrusting in hard, hitting the back of Louis’ throat every time, and only going harder when tears formed in his eyes. He leaned down, wiping them away with a fond expression.

Not long after, Harry pulled out completely.

“I.. I’m gonna come if I keep going. Get on the sofa, please.”

“Polite, much.”

Harry rolled his eyes, reaching down to pull Louis up by the forearm and throwing him onto the sofa without a struggle. Louis moaned, shots of arousal spiraling down his spine at Harry manhandling him like he had no body weight.

Harry took his panties off, stuffing them  into Louis’ mouth without a second thought and cutting off any words.

His eyes widened at the lace material in his mouth, with the slight tangy taste of precum, and moaned louder behind the material. Harry put a hand over his mouth, pressing down hard with a challenging look.

“Gonna let me take what I want? Gonna be good and stay silent?”

Louis tried to speak, but was unable to, so he just nodded eagerly. He was so hard, he could barely placate one single thought running through his mind. It consisted entirely of Harry, the way he looked, the way he was growling, his possessive hold and his narrowed, lustful eyes. Louis would give it up for him, anyday, everyday.

“I’m going to open you up real slow, till you’re begging for more.”

Harry removed his hand, moving to the table where they had lube already waiting. He pushed Louis’ boxers down, revealing his fully hard cock resting heavy against his stomach. Harry ignored it.

“Get you so loose from my three fingers.”

Harry opened the lube cap, applying the thick gel over over his fingers before parting Louis’ legs. He took his time, marveling over his thick thighs. He spent a minute on each inch of the skin he could reach, biting, licking, pressing bruises into him. Louis was growing increasingly impatient, his breath hitching every time Harry teased with his tongue.

When Harry was pleased with his masterpiece—Louis sprawled out underneath him, lovebite ridden and shaking with the need to be fucked—he finally moved his finger near Harry’s hole. He acted like he had all the time in the world, like Gemma wasn’t an hour from arriving and they had things to do. He moved his finger around Louis’ hole, circling, never breaking eye contact with Louis.

Finally, without warning, he pushed it.

Louis groaned, his eyes rolling back.

Harry worked quickly from then. He used his single digit to open Louis up, get him wet before inserting his second finger. He was rough and fast, neglecting Louis’ cock, but watching how it twitched with every movement. When he added the third finger, Louis could barely think. He angled his fingers upwards, hitting Louis’ soft spot successfully which earned him a loud moan.

He started fucking himself back on the digits, desperate, yearning for a release.

Harry, however, wasn’t having any of it. He slapped Louis’ ass soundly and gave him a warning glare.

“Stop. Let me take. You lay there and look pretty.”

The words were obscene and Louis was a slave for him. When Harry decided he had opened him up enough, he slicked up his cock. It was an angry red and Louis could tell he was close, that it was only going to last a few minutes.

Harry pushed in slowly, giving Louis time to adjust to the size.

Louis squeezed his eyes shut, breathing heavily through his nose and after a few minutes, he nodded to give him the go ahead.

Harry took what he wanted. He started thrusted just as hard, chasing his own release. He fucked back and forth, pulling out nearly entirely until only his tip was inside and slamming right back down. With each push, Louis moved further up the sofa.

Harry withdrew completely then, grabbing ahold of Louis and maneuvering him around so he was on his hands and knees.

The position left him vulnerable, his hole exposed to Harry and unable to face him. He buried his head in the arm of the sofa, wiggling his ass back at him. Harry slapped him, again, harder than the last time before pushing right back in.

With every thrust, he was hitting Louis’ prostate dead on and suddenly, it all become too much for Louis. He couldn’t hold it back any longer. He was so hard, so aroused, he could barely breathe.

“H-harry,” he moaned behind his gag, spurting out come besides the fact that nobody had touched him, at all.

Louis had just came untouched.

That seemed to give Harry the final push. He grabbed Louis’ waist in a bruising hold, growling as he muttered out incoherent words.

“L-Lou, so.. So fucking hot, I can’t. You make me crazy, I.. God, I fucking love you—” before he released his come inside of Louis with a loud cry.

It was quiet for a few moments then. Louis relaxed entirely, serene after his orgasm. He settled down on the sofa entirely, putting his head on his arms and sighing in relief. It had been the most energetic, crazy session they had in awhile.

Harry pulled out, slapping Louis’ ass again just to watch it jiggle before leaning down and placing soft pecks all over his back.

“You came untouched,” he stated the obvious, pulling Louis around and leaning down. He pulled the panties out his mouth, throwing it to one side of the room before connecting their lips together.

Louis hummed, pulling back. “I did. It’s the effect you have on me.”

Harry looked like he had stars in his eyes. “I think, you’re always going to blow my mind.”

Louis grabbed ahold of his hands, twining their fingers together as he shut his eyes. He was peaceful. This moment, he could never exchange for anything else.

“I think, you’re always going to be just as this sappy,” he teased, kissing the back of his knuckles.

Harry let out a breathy chuckle, rolling his eyes and kissing him again.

 

And later, when Gemma was around, bearing gifts—she sat down and wrinkled her nose immediately.

“Wait… is that, what is that?” She pointed to the stain on the sofa.

Louis and Harry’s head snapped up.

“Is that…” realisation poured over her expression as she screamed, horrified, and jumped up from the sofa. “You dirty, dirty bastards!” She cried, wiping her dress like the stain had personally affected her clothes. “You did it on this sofa! You made me sit on it!”

Harry was in the kitchen, preparing carrot cake whilst Louis sat opposite Gemma in the living room with drinks in his hands.

They both started laughing. Harry put the bowl down, his hands clutching at his stomach whilst Louis felt equally as horrified, but couldn’t help and release small, choking laughs.

Gemma, however, wasn’t having any of it.

She grabbed the cushion, walking towards Louis. “C’mere, you minx!”

It followed as such: Gemma chasing Louis and Harry around the apartment with the cushion, trying to swat them for revenge at the come stain, Harry wiping down the sofa twice with bleach, making sure the stain is gone, then they all settled with their Italian dishes with Black Mirror playing on the TV.

Louis didn’t think life could get any better than this.