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I Built This Bed For Two (I Built This Bed For Me and You)

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Harry Styles hasn’t heard from any of his closest uni friends since graduation, so he’s rather surprised when his phone starts ringing and the name Niall Horan is lighting up the screen. He watches in surprise for a moment as the phone buzzes its way across the counter next to him before quickly finding a towel to wipe his hands off with.

He swipes his thumb across the screen and brings it up to his ear to finally answer, “Hello?”

“Harry! Mate! How are ya?” comes Niall’s voice, just as Irish and sunny as ever.

“I’m, er. Yeah, I’m good, mate. You all right?” he returns, tucking his phone between his cheek and his shoulder as he continues mixing the batter for the scones he’s making. It’s a new recipe he’s trying out—he’ll probably give a few to all of his friends and neighbours and ask for their thoughts, the way he always does before officially incorporating a new item into the bakery’s menu.

Niall is chatting away cheerfully in his ear, bright voice and brighter laughter coming down the line. Harry laughs along at the appropriate spots and makes comments when an opportunity arises, but mostly lets Niall talk as though years haven’t passed between them. He’s just finished shaping the last of the scones onto a baking sheet when Niall finally seems to remember why he called.

“So I dunno if you know this, but I work at BuzzFeed now,” he mentions.

“Yeah, I heard,” Harry replies. “That’s great, mate. I’m so excited for you!” He genuinely means it. Niall deserves good things and their loss of contact was never Niall’s fault, even if Harry lumps him into the same pile as all the other things that went down, memories making his throat sting like he’s inhaled smoke.

“Yeah, thanks,” Niall offers warmly, his voice coloured by the smile Harry can so easily picture spread across his face. “It’s great. And, actually, there’s a video that we’re filming this week that I think you’d be a great fit for, any chance you’d want to?”

Harry’s eyebrows shoot up his forehead, his interest piqued. “What’s the video?” he inquires.

“Well, that’s kind of the catch,” Niall chuckles, uncharacteristic nervousness creeping into his voice. “I can’t tell you, exactly. So I’m hoping you can just, ah…trust me on this one.”

And that’s how Harry finds himself staring at the outside of the BuzzFeed UK headquarters two days later, double checking the text from Niall that supplies him with the time they’re meeting— which just so happens to be in three minutes.

He takes a swig of the tea in his paper take-away cup, wincing when he finds it’s gone cold. He tosses it in a bin on the way into the building, taking the lift up to the fifth floor. Niall is waiting there for him, massive grin on his face as he holds out his arms for a hug. Harry can’t help but return the smile, his whole face brightening as he steps into Niall’s arms and they hug for a long moment.

“God, it’s good to see you again, Haz. I’ve missed you,” Niall says as their embrace comes to an end.

“I’ve missed you too, Ni,” he smiles again. “So,” he elongates the vowel ridiculously, “do I get to know what the video is now?”

He grins cheekily, both of them giggling at his question. He’s asked Niall the same thing at least ten times a day between their initial call and Harry getting on the tube to head over.

“A few more minutes, mate. Then I promise I’ll tell you,” Niall replies earnestly. Harry makes a big show of pouting in return but it doesn’t last very long against Niall’s quiet chuckles of genuine amusement.

“I’m glad some things never change,” Niall comments a few moments later.

“Me too,” Harry replies through a thickening voice. He didn’t realise how much being around Niall would remind him of the events that transpired at the end of their third year of uni. He swallows around the tightness in his throat, taking several long pulls of air through his nose to settle himself.

This was the whole reason he distanced himself from Niall. Liam, too. He always wondered what they were up to, just as he wondered what Louis was up to, but he couldn’t think of any of them—Louis especially—without feeling heartbroken all over again.

The worst part, he supposes, is that when he and Louis broke up, it didn’t feel like they decided for themselves. It felt like external forces had conspired against them and forced them into it before they could even take a moment to process it. He really, genuinely thought they’d be that couple—the annoying one that everyone sees on their newsfeed and scoffs at how sickly sweet they are. He thought they’d get married and have enough kids to start their own footie team, maybe stick a few dogs in there for good measure.

And then suddenly it was gone. They’d said they’d stay friends, but that hadn’t happened. If Harry can’t even imagine Louis’ face without feeling torn apart, how on earth were they meant to converse and stay involved in each other’s lives? How was he supposed to sit by and watch as the man he loved fell in love with new people? He couldn’t and he wouldn’t, so he didn’t.

He’s pulled out of his thoughts when he almost walks into Niall’s back, stopping at this last second to avoid the collision. Niall turns around with a slightly sheepish smile on his face.

“So, about the video,” he begins and Harry crosses his arms, eyeing him suspiciously.

“What?” he asks, squinting slightly as he studies Niall.

“It’s called, er…” he trails off, mumbling something so quickly and quietly that Harry has no hope of catching it.

“Wanna try again, Ni?” he asks, quirking an eyebrow.

“It’s called… ExesCuddleAgainForTheFirstTimeInYears.”

Well, Harry definitely heard it this time. He feels like the wind is knocked entirely out of his lungs because there’s only one ex Niall could possibly be referring to, unless he hunted down Jeremy from sixth form, which seems unlikely.

“Niall,” he breathes, turning toward him with wide eyes. “Please tell me you’re kidding. Please, please, plea—“ he cuts himself off, choking back a sob.

“Whoa. Whoa, Haz. Breathe,” comes Niall’s voice as a pair of slim arms wrap around Harry’s shoulders, pulling him in. “Breathe with me, okay?” he says, making exaggerated sounds as he inhales and exhales slowly. Harry eventually manages to follow suit and only then does he realise he was crying. He wipes his eyes dry with the heels of his palms before lifting his head to meet Niall’s eyes.

“Sorry,” he sniffles. “I didn’t realise I would be that affected by it.”

Niall’s eyes are still wide and concerned, but he lets out a sharp laugh. “Yeah, me neither,” he agrees nervously. “You obviously don’t have to do it,” he says quickly.

Harry nods along, sucking his lips into his mouth as he considers it. He doesn’t feel ready to see Louis again—he doubts he ever will—but there’s a part of him, and not a small one, that wants to. He’s fairly resigned to the reality that he may never fully be over Louis, so he’s aware that this could hurt him in ways that he doesn’t fully comprehend. He doesn’t know anything about Louis’ life now; he feels the terror settle in the pit of his stomach at the realisation that Louis might have a boyfriend now. Or worse, a husband.

All of the questions he’s avoided thinking about are bubbling to the surface of his thoughts and suddenly this seems like not-a-terrible idea. He’s willing to pay the emotional price for these answers and he may never again get an opportunity to see Louis and ask them.

He turns back to Niall and nods again, inhaling shakily. “Okay,” he says on the exhale. “I’ll do it.”

→←

“Okay, Haz. Tell us your name and how long you were together, yeah?” Niall asks Harry from behind the camera he’s been sat in front of. Harry takes one last steadying breath as he locks away all of his memories with Louis before looking up and into the lens.

“Okay. I’m Harry, and Louis and I were together for two and a half years.”

Niall nods, consulting his clipboard. “Why are you doing this?” he reads off of it. Harry gives him a severe, albeit brief, you’ve gotta be kidding me look.

“I guess I just figured I might as well,” he answers evenly.

Niall gives him a sympathetic look before the next question. “And what do you think of him?”

“I, uh. He’s great. Louis is a good person to just, like, sit and kind of, like…just admire what he’s like.” Harry barely holds in his wince at the words, but Niall’s eyebrows raise a fraction in response.

Then he’s being shuffled out and into a conference room where he’s told to help himself to a snack or some tea while Louis answers the same questions. Harry is terrified of Louis’ answers. He’s terrified to think that in a few minutes, he’ll be face-to-face with the man himself. He’s just beginning to contemplate faking a heart attack to get out of it when Niall arrives in the doorway.

“Ready?” he asks gently.

Harry shakes his head briefly before saying, “Let’s do it.”

The second they step into the room, Harry feels like his heart has fallen out of his arse. Louis’s standing there, right in front of him, looking even more beautiful than in Harry’s memories. His hair is slightly longer, styled in a scruffy fringe that looks so perfectly unkempt that Harry can’t decide if it was intentional or just because Louis is that beautiful. His face is scruffy too, like he hasn’t gotten around to shaving in the past few days.

His eyes, though. They’re the same striking blue swept up protectively under gorgeous long lashes. Harry tries to hide how his breath hitches when their gazes meet. He wonders if Louis can see through him, if he realises how much Harry hasn’t changed, that he’s the same person Louis knew like the back of his hand.

He wonders if Louis still knows him. He wonders if he wants to.

He tries to smile at Louis, their eyes still locked, but he thinks it probably comes out as a grimace.

“Hey, Haz,” Louis finally says with a small smile, voice soft and unassuming and so, so lovely. Harry has to look down at the words, noticing for the first time how well Louis is dressed. He’s in a t-shirt, which is something that apparently hasn’t changed since they last saw each other, but it’s well-fitted and paired with dark skinny jeans, which are rolled up just enough to expose his beautiful ankles. He’s wearing nice black shoes with—of course, Harry thinks—no socks.

He gives himself a moment to take a breath before meeting Louis’ eyes again.

“Hi, Lou,” he breathes on a heavy exhale. Louis’ small smile never falters, but his brow furrows just enough that Harry notices and he studies Harry’s face intently.

“All right?” he asks, his tone light. Harry knows him better than that, though. Or, he used to. He hopes Louis hasn’t changed too much, that Harry will still be able to read him the way he could before. Because he’s pretty sure he hears the more honest notes in Louis’ tone—the ones that indicate his genuine concern for Harry’s well-being and comfort.

He nods minutely. “Yeah,” he agrees, forcing a smile onto his lips in response to Louis’. “Yeah, ‘m all right. You?”

Louis studies him a second before nodding back. “All good, Harold. Always.”

“Good,” Harry responds, clasping his hands behind his back as he rolls his weight back onto his heels. “So,” he clears his throat. “Let’s, uh…do this?”

Louis chuckles as Harry winces at his awkwardness. “Sure. Let’s do this.”

It’s an awkward shuffle of a dance trying to settle into the bed in a cuddling position, made even more so by the cameras on them. Harry supposes it helps that they used to do this all the time, making it slightly easier to figure out.

When he’s as comfortable as he reckons he’ll be able to get in this situation—facing towards the camera but resolutely not at it, Louis’ left arm extended in front of both of them as Harry’s head rests on the same shoulder, the weight of Louis’ arm heavy and pleasant against his ribcage—he lets himself breathe. He lets himself pretend they’ve gone back in time two years and they’re simply lounging in bed after long days of class and extracurriculars.

Then he forces himself back to reality, not allowing too much frivolity for fear of losing himself in it. Louis clears his throat behind him, the first real sign of nerves Harry’s observed from him.

“So. Harry.”

“Yes, Louis?” Harry grins, suddenly feeling somewhat hysterical at the absurdity of this situation.

“You, er…you been working out?” Louis asks missing nonchalant just enough that probably only Harry notices. A glance at Niall behind the camera extends the list slightly further, but Harry’d bet a tenner that no one else would catch it.

“Mm, yeah, actually,” he responds, tucking his hands between his thighs to prevent himself from tracing patterns on the arm pillowing his head. “I try to go four or five times a week.”

“Jeez,” Louis comments quietly. “That’s dedication.”

“I s’pose,” Harry responds, shrugging. “Not much else to be dedicated to in my life. My health seemed as good a focus as any.”

“That’s very wise, young Harold,” Louis comments and Harry can feel his nod against the back of his head.

“I’m wise beyond my years,” he teases.

“Yeah, yeah,” Louis brushes him off playfully. It feels nice, being able to spend time with Louis. He’s sure it’ll hurt like hell later, but for now, it’s really rather wonderful.

“So, uh. Is it weird to ask if you’ve got a boyfriend?” Harry ventures to ask a few moments later.

“Yes,” Louis answers and Harry’s heart stops in his chest before he realises Louis means yes it’s weird to ask and not necessarily yes I’ve got a boyfriend. “But you’ve always been weird.”

They both chuckle lowly before Louis adds, “I don’t, though. Haven’t since…” you, Harry fills in mentally.

“Yeah, uh. Me neither.”

His answer seems to surprise Louis, if the way he props himself up on his elbow and nudges Harry to turn over enough to look at him is any indication. “You serious?” he inquires, eyebrows knitting together.

“Yeah, I.” He tries to swallow around the sudden dryness in his throat. “Haven’t met anyone who’s caught my fancy yet.” Louis studies him a second longer before resuming his previous position.

“No, me neither,” he murmurs into the crown of Harry’s head a long moment later.

“Care to share your thoughts on how this is going?” Niall’s voice cuts in, though he looks like he’d rather not.

“Uh," Harry starts on a laugh, right as Louis begins to speak.

He feels Louis give his tummy a tap where his hand is resting, a signal for him to go ahead.

“I honestly expected it to be awful,” he confesses, half expecting an indignant oi from Louis, but instead he feels another tap on his tummy. It’s firmer this time, and it feels like an I know, me too or at least an I don’t blame you for that. “But it’s not,” Harry continues. “Louis and I got on from the word go, I guess there’s not much that was gonna change that.”

“No,” Louis agrees from behind him. “I think I expected a lot more…awkwardness. But it feels like it did before.”

And Harry—Harry doesn’t quite know what to do with that. Before what? When they were friends, pre-relationship? When they were boyfriends, pre-break-up? He has no idea, so he simply hums noncommittally.

A few more moments pass quietly while Harry is torn between enjoying his limited time with Louis and blocking everything out so he won’t hurt later.

“You guys should…chat. It’d be especially helpful if it was about your relationship or why it ended,” Niall jokes, clearly trying to keep the atmosphere light.

Harry rolls his eyes and he feels Louis’ scoff land in his hair. “Yeah, fine, Ni. Like I owe you anything else.”

“Just talk, Styles,” Niall shoots back.

“We don’t have an interesting break-up story,” Harry huffs. “It just—“

“Stopped working?” Louis cuts in.

“Did it? Is that why we broke up?” Harry’s voice is wavering and his body feels frozen in place, but if Louis thinks they didn’t work together, that feels almost as terrible as the break-up itself.

“Haz, hey. That’s not what I meant. We didn’t stop working. We were perfect together. But life got in the way.” Louis’ voice is soothing and kind in Harry’s ear which makes Harry feel better about the tears prickling in his eyes, almost as much as the ease with which Louis can still apparently read him.

“Well, life can suck my dick.”

Louis chuckles. “Such strong language! You’re like a whole new person.”

“I used to swear when we were together, too!” Harry insists. “You just have a selective memory.”

“I’m not sure that’s a real thing, H.”

“Sure it is,” he says, shuffling backwards out like some sort of muscle memory, trying to get as close to Louis as possible. He doesn’t really realise he’s doing it until Louis lets out a small, slightly strangled-sounding noise behind him. He freezes again. “Sorry, habit,” he explains.

“Yeah. Right,” Louis agrees.

Half a minute, stretched like taffy, passes between them.

“D’you remember that time we stole all of Niall’s underwear and froze them during second year?” Harry asks, the memory popping into his mind unexpectedly.

He feels Louis’ laughter before he hears it, Niall’s angry grumbling behind the camera only serving to make Louis laugh harder until Harry can’t help but join in.

“I think we were the ones who came out of that worse, though, because that’s how we learned Niall goes commando most of the time,” Louis says between peals of laughter.

“And we had to touch his pants!” Harry agrees, laughing harder as Louis makes a disgusted noise at the memory.

“It was an honour and a blessing that many people would kill for, you twats,” Niall says, glaring at them indignantly.

“Niall, being killed by the stench is not the same thing as killing for honour, please get it straight,” Louis shoots back.

“Well someone’s gotta get it straight, Lord knows neither of ya ever managed it.”

Harry immediately rolls his eyes. “Niall, that joke is so overdone. Do me a favour and never make it again.”

“Yeah,” Louis agrees, “we all know you’re the token straight. Don’t worry, your position is not being threatened.”

“You’re both the worst and I hate you. I regret every decision I’ve made in my life that led me to this moment,” Niall responds, crossing his arms over his chest.

Right as Harry opens his mouth to respond, the man behind the camera speaks up. Tim, Harry thinks his name is.

“As heartwarming as all of this is, we don’t have quite enough footage for the actual video yet.”

“Sorry, mate.” Niall grins sheepishly. “Back on track, got it.”

Harry feels himself tensing up again as he’s faced with the reality of the video and why he’s here.

Clearing his throat, he asks, “Okay, what do you need us to do?”

“I don’t want it to feel forced at all, so just talk about whatever comes naturally. We have about half an hour left of filming time in the schedule, so no big rush,” Niall tells them, his professionalism coming back.

“No big rush,” Louis mutters, just loud enough for Harry to hear.

“I feel like the things that I naturally want to talk about with you aren’t things I necessarily want to say on camera,” Harry confesses quietly, hoping only Louis will be able to make out what he’s saying.

“I know what you mean.” Harry’s heart picks up that, the implications of it spurring his thoughts at frightening speeds.

“Do you need a starting point?” Niall prompts.

“Sure,” Louis agrees easily.

“Tell us about the funniest thing you fought about while you were dating,” Niall reads off his clipboard.

“Oh, god,” Harry says, bringing a hand up to hide his face.

He can hear Louis’ smirk in his voice, even before he turns his head enough to see it. “I like this question.”

“Of course you do, you don’t play the fool!” Harry cries, turning back into his hand to hide his shame.

“Okay, so,” Louis starts eagerly, even as Harry brings a foot back to kick his shin. “Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night…”

“Don’t be an arse, Lewis.”

“I’m setting the scene, Harold, you don’t need to be so tetchy.” He clears his throat before continuing. “Harry here decided we should go out with friends and get a little tipsy. I think it was to celebrate surviving the first week back at uni or summat. But little did we know…”

“Oh, god,” Harry mumbles. “I got drunk and cried when Louis wouldn’t let me bring the sewer rat home, okay? I wanted to name him Stuart, like Stuart Little, and he wouldn’t let me bring him home.”

“Stuart Little isn’t even a rat, he’s a mouse,” Louis says, again, like he didn’t mention it a thousand times at the time.

“I know! I was drunk, okay?” Harry laughs. “I yelled at him the whole walk home when he made me leave Stuart behind.”

“For your own safety,” Louis reminds him.

“Yes, Louis was a very good boyfriend who didn’t want me to contract the bubonic plague.”

“And then,” Louis says as Harry rolls his eyes, “when he woke up the next morning, he didn’t know why he’d been mad at me, but he stayed mad for the rest of the morning.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry says for the billionth time, drawing out the vowels. “I was wrong, you were right, et cetera, et cetera.”

“I’m gonna need that in writing,” Louis says dramatically.

“Shove off.”

“All right, lads, let’s have your final thoughts?” Tim prompts.

“This was actually really nice,” Harry starts. “I haven’t seen Lou or Ni since uni and I expected more weirdness, but it feels just like old times.”

Niall smiles at him as Louis nods against the back of his head. “Yeah, I was worried it would be really uncomfortable, just due to the amount of time since we’ve last seen each other, but there wasn’t any. Guess I’m not that surprised, in retrospect,” Louis adds.

Harry smiles over at him shyly and is pleased when their eyes meet and Louis smiles brightly enough to form the crinkles around his eyes.

“Okay, I think that’s enough footage, yeah?” Niall turns to Tim with his question.

“Yeah, we can work with what we’ve got,” he agrees.

“Oh,” Harry says, his heart suddenly feeling heavy.

“Okay,” Louis says, sounding a bit off.

The red light on the camera turns off and Tim starts packing up as he and Niall converse quietly, likely discussing the rest of their project.

Louis and Harry, for their part, move slowly, disentangling themselves and sitting up on the edge of the bed. Neither of them make any moves beyond that; Harry’s eyes are glued to his hands where they’re resting in his lap and he can barely see Louis in his peripherals, but he seems uncharacteristically still.

“D’you—“ Harry’s head whips up at Louis’ voice.

“Yeah?” he prompts, stamping down on the hope in his chest.

“Wanna maybe…go somewhere? Talk about those things that aren’t camera-appropriate?” Louis asks, a mischievous twinkle in his eye that makes Harry simultaneously want to smack him and kiss him.

“Yeah,” he manages to breathe out. “I’d like that.” He can’t fight his own smile when Louis grins at him, so he doesn’t even try.

They both stand up and collect their things, waving goodbye to Niall in response to his cocked eyebrow, before leaving the studio giggling like school children.

“Where are we going?” Harry asks as they make their way out the main door and onto the busy streets of London.

“I didn’t actually have a place in mind, actually,” Louis admits, stopping short. “Oops?”

“Why am I not surprised,” Harry laughs.

“I’m a responsible adult, Harold. I don’t appreciate you slandering me.”

Harry can’t do much but throw his head back and laugh harder at the indignant look on Louis’ face.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he hiccoughs when Louis starts poking his sides.

“Let’s just wander for a bit until something strikes our fancy,” Louis says in his best posh voice.

“Sounds marvelous,” Harry responds with his own over-exaggerated poshness.

They make their way around London, the sun starting to set already, listening to the sounds of native Londoners and tourists alike as they hustle past the pair on the pavement. Harry has always felt content at Louis’ side. There never seems to be a need to rush between the two of them, they’re fine with taking their time and observing the world. They talk as they go along, pointing things out or exchanging little anecdotes, but the spaces in between don’t feel forced or awkward. Their silence is as comfortable as it always was before.

Eventually, the two of them come across a small pub which hosts a crowd of business men and women decompressing after a day’s worth of work and they head in.

Louis orders a beer and Harry gets a whiskey sour before they settle into a booth along the far wall. They sip their drinks slowly, surveying the room around them.

As their attention returns to their bubble, Harry whispers, “I’ve missed you.” He half hopes Louis won’t hear him over the din of the pub and half hopes he will so he can’t take it back.

Based on Louis’ sharp intake of breath, the latter half wins. His piercing eyes search Harry’s face. Harry learned long ago that he can’t hide anything from Louis, so he doesn’t bother trying now. He’s sure Louis can still read him like a comic book—two pages at a time. The day they just spent filming the video only confirmed it for him.

“I’ve missed you too, Haz,” Louis finally says, his voice sounding brokenly honest and sweet, despite its lack of volume.

Harry figures now is the time to lay it all out there; he’s got nothing to lose at this point. So he takes a deep, steadying breath before: “I wish we’d never broken up.”

Louis’ eyes find his and he doesn’t flinch away, too sure of his honesty to be ashamed of it. He watches Louis try to find an answer in his eyes, meeting his gaze steadily and hoping that Louis finds what he’s looking for there.

“You mean that,” he finally whispers, and it doesn’t sound like a question.

“I do.” Harry nods decisively. “I’ve barely dated since uni. And even when I tried, it didn’t seem fair. To the other blokes, really. I was always comparing them to you in my head and I just…they deserve better than that.”

“So what’s been your plan, then? Were you just gonna be alone forever?” Louis asks, concern and incredulity lacing his voice, but all Harry can focus on is the past tense in his question. Were you just gonna be alone forever. Like maybe now it’s changed.

Instead of voicing the thoughts in his head, he simply shrugs. “I don’t know. I suppose. I don’t reckon many people have two soulmates, do you?” He doesn’t really know where this fearless honesty is coming from, but it feels good to get it all off his chest. It seems like he’s been carrying this weight around for the last few years and it’s freeing to put it out into the world, especially when it’s the part of the world that Louis is in.

“No,” Louis murmurs, eyes still glued to Harry’s face. “I don’t reckon they do.”

A beat passes between them. It’s not uncomfortable, but Harry is hyper aware of the energy at their table. “I don’t want you to,” Louis says suddenly.

“Don’t want me to what?” Harry asks, confused.

“I don’t want you to have another soulmate,” he clarifies.

“You want me to be alone forever?” Harry teases.

“No, I want you to be with me forever.”

Harry’s world stops.

“Louis, don’t say things you don’t mean,” he scolds, his defences back in place immediately.

Louis slides out of his own booth and into Harry’s, moving to sit next to him even as Harry freezes, not moving to accommodate him.

“Haz, please look at me,” he whispers when Harry makes no move to do anything. Harry complies, turning his head slowly, his eyes following last in his reluctance.

“I’m not fucking with you, I promise.”

“Louis, it’s been years. What if we’re completely different people now? You can’t know that you want to be with me forever,” he argues.

“I know we’re different now. But you said it yourself, we’re soulmates. Any version of you is a version I love and want to be with. It’s still you. Look,” he continues, talking over Harry’s half-formed protest. “I’ve tried dating, too. And I mean, I really tried. But nobody compares to you. No one could and no one has and what do I have to do to prove how serious I am to you?” Louis pleads.

“I just—“ Harry shakes his head. “I can’t get my mind around this right now. What about all the reasons we broke up?”

“If you don’t want this, you don’t have to make excuses, you know,” Louis informs him, sounding defeated.

“No!” Harry rushes out. “Of course I want this. But I don’t want to try again and have the same outcome. Being able to function again after we broke up took me…months, probably. I can’t…I can’t afford that again. And I don’t want either of us to have to go through it.”

Louis sighs, closing his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, they’re shining with unshed tears. “Harry, love, I promise that all of those reasons we broke up after uni were rubbish. There’s nothing in the world that could stop me from being with you now. Except you. But if you want this, I promise we’ll work it out. We’ll go slow, we’ll work out every kink before we even have our first date, whatever you want. But if you want this and I want this, I promise it will work.”

“That’s a big promise,” Harry sniffles, his own eyes watery.

“I know. But I d—“

“You don’t make promises you can’t keep, I know,” Harry smiles as he cuts Louis off.

He knows Louis wouldn’t say these things lightly, but he’s still afraid of things going sour. He still loves Louis, he doubts he’ll ever be able to stop, but that would only make things worse if they don’t work out again. On the flip side, though, he figures he’ll be alone forever anyway, considering Louis is the only person he’s wanted to be with for the better part of a decade. It’s worth giving it another shot. In truth, it’s all he’s wanted for so long. Being faced with it is scary, but he knew his answer before he even saw Louis again.

“Okay,” he exhales on a heavy sigh. He takes Louis’ left hand in both of his own. “Louis William Tomlinson,” he starts as Louis’ smile starts to creep in on his face, “if you’ll have me, I would be honoured to make another attempt at forever with you.”

Louis’ smile is so wide now that it looks painful. He doesn’t say anything before he’s wrenching his hand out of Harry’s so he can throw his arms around Harry’s neck and pull him down for a kiss.

Kissing Louis feels exactly how Harry remembers it, but somehow also even better than he could ever expect. Louis’ lips are still that surprising mix of thin and plump, soft and chapped, and Harry can’t help but smile into the kiss as he settles his hands on Louis’ waist. Their lips stay eagerly attached as they both try to bring the other closer and closer to themselves, arms tightening around each other.

They only part when Harry is genuinely concerned that he’s losing brain cells to oxygen deprivation, but they don’t go far. Their noses are bumping each other and their arms are still tight around each other as they separate enough to gasp hot breaths into the space between them.

“Fuck, H,” Louis gasps.

“I love you,” is all Harry can bother getting out, his eyes closed against Louis’ cheek.

“I love you so much, Harry. I’ve never stopped,” Louis promises, the fingers of one hand stroking at the nape of Harry’s neck.

“Me neither,” Harry agrees, opening his eyes to look at Louis. He’s blurry this close-up, but so, so beautiful. He leans in to kiss him again, soft and slow.

“I could do that forever,” Louis says when they part.

“Is that a promise?”

→←

They get back to Louis’ flat, giggling and holding hands, near midnight. Harry can’t remember the last time he was up so late. Being single had somehow succeeded in making him tamer than being with Louis ever had.

As Louis flips the lights on, Harry suddenly remembers Maggie, the cat they’d adopted in secrecy during uni.

“Do you still have Maggie?” he asks Louis in a rush, turning toward him suddenly.

In response, Louis simply smiles and turns toward the open living space they’re standing in. “Maggie!” he calls, tapping his thigh with one hand.

A black blur makes its way into the room and Harry gasps, kneeling so quickly he forgets to release Louis’ hand until Louis does it himself.

“Mags!” he greets excitedly, sticking his hand out for her to investigate. He doesn’t assume she’ll remember him, but he hopes she’ll still like him. She sniffs his knuckle for a moment before extending her tongue to give him a sandpaper kiss. He reaches behind her ears to scratch her favourite spot and she immediately glues herself to his lap and purrs contentedly, her eyes falling shut.

Harry peers up at Louis sheepishly to find him leaning against the arm of the nearby sofa, his ankles crossed and a soft smile on his face.

“This isn’t exactly what you had in mind for me coming over, is it?” Harry asks, a slight blush heating up his cheeks.

“Not exactly, but I can’t say I’m too bothered,” Louis admits. “Maggie never liked anyone except us two.”

“Still?” Harry smiles, refusing to over think who else she might have met at Louis’ flat.

“You’re her saviour and I’m her slave. Who else does she need?” Louis teases.

“That’s a fair point,” Harry laughs quietly.

He remembers when they got Maggie in mid-October of their third year. They were still living on campus, but it was more of a flat than a dormitory, so the rules were slightly more lax. Not enough to allow a cat, but when Harry had found her near a dumpster, her matted black fur and sad cries more palatable than the distrust in her eyes, he had to bring her tiny form home and Louis didn’t even mind.

They’d cleaned her up and made her warm, offering her milk and a bit of tuna until they could call the vet the next morning. Then they’d found out she was about six weeks old and perfectly healthy with the exception of some malnutrition, and she’d held their hearts ever since.

Looking at her now, fully grown with a luxurious, shiny coat of black, Harry would never guess where he’d found her.

“I’ve missed you, too, Maggie Moo,” he says down to her, his hands on the side of her face for maximum petting ability. And he had, though he’d not fought Louis when he offered to take her after their break-up. He knew she would just be another ghost lurking, reminding him of what he’d lost. But now, she was the opposite. Having her in his life again meant that he had Louis, too, and he couldn’t ask for more. He gave her a kiss to the top of her head before pushing off the floor to stand up and face Louis again.

“Now back to our regularly scheduled programming,” he said, his voice a ridiculous imitation of a telly announcer.

“Oh, god, why did I let you back here?” Louis groans, but the grin on his face betrays him.

“Because you love me,” Harry counters immediately.

“I do,” Louis whispers, stepping in close to meet Harry’s lips with his own.

“I love you, too,” Harry whispers when their lips separate for a second before fitting his hand around the back of Louis’ head and bringing him in again.

This kiss isn’t like the ones they’ve shared so far in the day; their lips part almost as soon as they meet and their tongues find each other in the shared space of their mouths. It’s hot and slick and satisfying and very much not enough.

“Louis,” Harry whines when they break apart, licking his lips.

Louis looks at him, his fists bunched in the waist of Harry’s shirt, with his eyes wide and dark and nods. “Yeah. Shit, yeah. Bedroom?” he asks, like he doesn’t know the answer.

Harry nods enthusiastically, his fingers already finding the hem of Louis’ shirt and trying to get it off of him.

“Just…one sec,” Louis says, grabbing Harry’s hand and pulling him toward where Harry assumes his bedroom is. He closes the door as soon as they're both in, offering only “Maggie” in the way of explanation before stripping himself of his t-shirt. Harry can’t do much more than stare at Louis before he surges forward to kiss him, one hand gripping his waist while the other settles in his hair as he presses his back along the bedroom door.

“How are you more bloody fit now than before? How is that even possible?” Harry asks, running his hands down Louis’ chest and over the soft curve of his tummy. “It’s not fair,” he laments, laying his forehead on Louis’ collarbone as Louis huffs a soft laugh into his hair.

“Stop being ridiculous, Haz,” he deflects. “You’ve not even taken your clothes off yet and I can already tell you’re hotter than the sun.”

“Louis,” Harry says, the vowels drawing out ridiculously. “You’re so pretty, why don’t you believe me?”

Louis’ cheeks turn the prettiest shade of pink and he turns his head away to hide it. Undeterred, Harry kisses down Louis’ neck.

“You’re pretty here,” he says as he goes. He makes his way across Louis’ collarbone. “Here,” he murmurs into it, “and definitely here.” He kisses down his sternum, kneeling as he goes.

“You’ve got the prettiest nipples,” he insists, taking one of them into his mouth and basking in Louis’ gasp. He dedicates a few moments to each nipple, getting them wet and flicking them with his tongue so they become beautifully perky and pebbled. Louis’ hand comes up to tangle in Harry’s curls, his fingers twitching slightly like he can’t stop them.

“Your tummy is so beautiful,” Harry promises, spreading kisses around his belly button. He keeps kissing his belly until Louis stops squirming and instead runs his fingers through Harry’s hair again. “So’re your hips.” He places a kiss on each of the bumps where Louis’ hipbones press against his skin.

He leans back on his heels and catches Louis’ eye as he starts undoing his flies. Louis smiles through a deep exhale as Harry removes his trousers. He starts pressing kisses to Louis’ thighs before Louis has even managed to get his trousers off from around his ankles.

“I love your thighs,” he presses into one. “So lovely,” into the other. He brings his hands up to grope Louis’ arse, eliciting a small moan from him.

“Beautiful,” Harry says again. “And if memory serves, you’ve got a beautiful cock as well.” He smirks, leaning in to mouth at the head through Louis’ pants.

“You always did have a good memory,” Louis returns, a cheeky grin in place despite his obvious breathlessness.

“Let’s find out,” Harry smirks again before hooking his fingers into the top of Louis’ pants and pulling them down. Louis’ cock is beautiful, hard and flushed at the tip, curving up toward his belly. Harry gives himself a moment to simply admire it before loosely wrap his fist at the base and pumping him a few times.

“Haz,” Louis says, his voice high and breathless as precome beads at his tip.

“Yeah, Lou?” Harry teases, an easy confidence making itself known.

“Please…” Louis trails off, his mouth falling open when Harry twists his hand around the head of Louis’ cock.

He can barely take his gaze off of where Louis’ lashes are a dark smudge against his high cheekbones, but somehow manages to in favour of leaning forward to press kisses to the crease of Louis’ thigh, appreciating that his scent is the same combination of sweet and musky that he remembers.

He finally moves his attention back to Louis’ length, taking the head into his mouth, suckling at it and letting his tongue work the tip, collecting the precome gathered there and moaning at the flavour in his mouth.

Louis’ hands, which had gone lax, grip his hair again as his head falls back against the door. The pleasure-pain of Louis pulling his hair spurs Harry on and he bobs his head up and down Louis’ cock, his hand still settled at the base as his tongue works over the rest of it in all the ways he remembers Louis liking.

“Fuck, Harry,” Louis breathes out, his voice raspy. Harry can’t do much more than grip the back of Louis’ thighs with both hands as he brings him further into his mouth and runs his tongue along the vein on the underside of his shaft. He can feel his saliva gathering at the corners of his mouth, making the job slightly messy, just how Louis liked it. And hopefully still does.

He uses his grip on the back of Louis’ thighs to push him toward the back of his throat until Louis gets the message and starts gently fucking in and out of Harry’s mouth. They moan in unison when the head of Louis’ cock hits the back of Harry’s throat and Harry takes a second to thank whatever deity forgot to give him a gag reflex.

It only takes a few more thrusts into Harry’s mouth combined with him spreading Louis’ arse cheeks and pressing a finger against his puckered hole before Louis is coming down Harry’s throat in hot streaks.

Harry feels Louis’ fingers twitch again in his hair before he seems to go boneless, all of his weight on the door. He watches him as he wipes at the corners of his mouth before placing a last kiss on the crease of his thigh and stands up, drawing Louis into a messy, lazy kiss. Louis hums against his mouth, a small smile on his lips and his eyes fluttering closed.

“That was amazing,” he sighs.

“You’re amazing,” Harry shoots back.

Louis opens his eyes and smiles brightly at Harry. Then he’s kicking his pants off his ankles and toeing off his socks, suddenly pushing Harry toward the bed with renewed energy. He yanks Harry’s shirt off his torso and pushes him onto the mattress before straddling him and leaning in to kiss him, hot and messy. Harry can feel Louis’ arse pressed against his length and he whines when Louis circles his hips, teasing.

“Baby, please,” he begs, too turned on to be embarrassed by how little effort it took for Louis to gain this reaction.

“Please what?” Louis murmurs in his ear. “What do you want?”

“Anything,” Harry gasps on another rotation of Louis’ hips.

“Anything?” Louis smirks with a raised eyebrow.

Harry hums his agreement and raises himself up in an attempt to kiss Louis, who leans out of reach easily. He starts to move off of Harry, which Harry begins to whine at until he realises Louis is simply moving to remove the rest of his clothes. He whimpers when his cock hits the air, borderline painful in how hard it is.

“Don’t come yet” is all the warning Harry gets before his cock is in the wet warmth of Louis’ mouth. He bucks up and moans, his hands fisting in the sheets by his hips.

“Fuck, Louis,” he pants, “if you keep doing that, I’m not sure I’ll have a choice.”

Circling his fingers around the base of Harry’s length, Louis pops off of it and fixes Harry with a look.

“Harold,” he starts and Harry huffs. “I would very much like to ride you into the mattress tonight, so please refrain from coming before I have that opportunity.”

Harry can’t help but throw his head back and moan at that. He meets Louis’ eyes and licks his lips before, “Shit. Yeah. Okay. Fuck, yeah.”

Louis smiles saccharinely at him before taking him into his mouth again. It’s not long before Harry is whining high in his throat and Louis pulls off again, kissing him deeply as he rummages around in the nightstand beside his bed. He comes back with a bottle of lube and a condom, popping the bottle open and beginning to slick his own fingers up when Harry smacks his hand away from the bottle.

“Don’t you dare take this away from me, Louis Tomlinson,” he grumbles and Louis simply grins in reply. It doesn’t take much effort to flip them over, making sure Louis lands safely beneath him before leaning in to claim his mouth. He slicks up his middle finger before realising there’s something he needs to do first. He kisses his way down Louis’ body again, lingering only for a moment to place an open-mouthed kiss on Louis’ still-soft cock. It perks up a little at the attention, but Harry has more important matters to attend to.

He leaves a few bruises in his wake between Louis’ hips and the crease of his thigh. He bites little marks into Louis’ right arsecheek, before spreading both of them apart with his thumbs.

Wasting no time, he licks a stripe over Louis’ hole up to his taint as Louis gasps and squirms above him.

“Fuck,” he gasps loudly and Harry can imagine the way his eyes are screwed shut despite being unable to see him.

He continues licking over Louis’ hole, alternating between strong, broad stripes and more contained kitten licks circling the rim. His cock had managed to calm down during the interim, but Louis’ noises are driving him mad and he can feel the precome beading at the head where it’s trapped between his abs and the bed.

He keeps up his relentless licking for long moments before he makes his tongue rigid and dips the tip into Louis’ hole, the deep gasp from above him letting him know he’s doing a good job.

He peeks up at Louis when he starts fucking himself back on Harry’s tongue and notices his cock starting to fill again as Louis gasps. Harry can’t help but moan at the onslaught of sensations and the vibrations make Louis writhe more, grinding down on Harry’s tongue with all his might. Harry can’t resist any longer and slides his previously lubed finger in alongside his tongue. Louis gasps so loudly his body goes rigid and Harry is so turned on he isn’t even bothered by the normally off-putting flavour and texture of the lube. He gives Louis’ hole one more swipe with his tongue before leaning back to slick up another finger and work it into Louis’ hole, watching his face for any signs of discomfort.

He doesn’t know how long it’s been since Louis’ arse has been stretched and he’s not willing to take any risks. He goes at a pace that’s both safe and satisfying for Louis, if the little noises coming out of his mouth are any indication. He scissors his fingers, making sure to stretch his hole has much as possible before even considering a third finger. He slicks up the third before curling his first two fingers against Louis’ prostate and basking in the cry Louis releases. He throws his arm over his face and tries to muffle the sounds, but Harry grabs his wrist and gently removes it.

“Let me hear you,” he insists as he slips the third finger in and Louis moans the loudest he has all night.

“Okay, okay, fine,” he gets out. “Fuck, Haz, please, I’m ready.”

Harry spreads his fingers, stretching Louis further, and shakes his head. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I fucking hate you,” Louis returns, his voice holding nothing beyond immense fondness.

“Mm, I’m so sure,” Harry agrees, twisting his fingers again to hit Louis’ prostate.

“Fucker,” Louis laughs. Harry leans down to press a kiss to Louis’ hipbone as he extracts his fingers. He opens a condom and rolls it on his hard length, dribbling some more lube on himself and using his hand to spread it down his cock, wiping his fingers on the sheet between Louis’ spread legs when he’s done.

“Want it like this, baby?” he asks, remembering Louis’ previous request. He hopes Louis agrees because, much as he loves watching Louis fuck himself on his cock, there’s something tempting about their first time together in so long being simple and sweet. At Louis’ frantic nod, he grabs a pillow and Louis lifts his hips to let him place it beneath them. Louis plants his feet by Harry’s knees as he lines up with Louis’ entrance, pushing in slowly for his sake as much as Louis’.

“Fuck, Lou, you feel so good,” he groans as he bottoms out.

Louis seems incapable of forming words, only making little noises in the back of his throat before he hooks his legs around Harry’s back and pushes his heels into his arse.

“Move,” he insists.

Harry pulls out a few inches before sliding back in, picking up his pace as soon as he’s sure he can contain his orgasm. It’s not long before he’s slamming into Louis, angling for his prostate with every thrust and finding it a good amount of the time. He leans over Louis, planting his hands on either side of Louis’ head to hold himself up. He kisses him deeply, catching Louis’ moans in his own mouth.

Louis’ hands scramble against Harry’s back and he throws his head back, exposing his beautiful neck and Harry can’t resist leaving a love bite on his pulse point. He sucks a bruise against Louis’ golden skin, giving it a last kiss before transferring his weight to one hand so he can reach between them and take Louis’ cock in his other.

As he strokes Louis in time with his own thrusts, the only sounds in the room are their moans and the sound of skin on skin. Harry can feel his orgasm building at the base of his spine and strokes Louis faster, wanting to get him off first.

Louis’ voice goes nearly inaudible, they way it usually does when he’s about to come and Harry thrusts again, hitting his prostate dead-on as his hand works his cock. Louis groans long and loud as he comes for the second time, coating himself in his orgasm.

It only takes Harry a couple more thrusts before he’s coming himself, spilling into the condom before collapsing on Louis without a care for the mess between them.

He lets himself catch his breath before tenderly pulling out of Louis and tying off the condom. He rolls off the bed to fetch a warm flannel for both of them, dropping the used condom in the bin on his way. Louis is mostly asleep when he makes his way back, flannel in hand, and wipes Louis’ stomach, bum, and thighs off. He returns to the loo to rinse it out and wipes himself off.

He pads back over to Louis’ nearly-sleeping form and leans in to kiss him gently. He’s not sure what the parametres of this new relationship are. There’s already love and history, but it’s still new territory for both of them and he wants to make sure they both, Louis especially, have space to breathe.

“I’m gonna head out, okay?” he whispers, not wanting Louis to wake up too much, but wanting him to know.

“No,” Louis says, his hand shooting out even as his eyes stay closed. “Stay.”

Harry smiles fondly, brushing Louis’ fringe out of gently with the hand not currently in his grip.

“You sure? What if you want space in the morning?” he inquires, voice still soft.

“Then I’ll let you make me eggs on toast and kick you out,” Louis replies, shifting onto his stomach without releasing his hold on Harry’s wrist.

“How generous,” Harry chuckles.

“That’s me, I’m a giver. Now get in my bed, Styles.”

And, well. Harry can’t say no to that.