Electing Strange Perfections

Chapter 5

Two more weeks into the relationship and Louis is starting to feel like they’re having an old-timey, long-distance romance. The Harry he sees in his backyard every day is not the Harry he’s dating; the former is a model employee who lifts his hat in greeting whenever Louis or his sisters walk by, but he keeps a professional face on and acts like he doesn’t know Louis at all. The latter, on the other hand, sends text messages to Louis in the middle of the afternoon saying things like ‘behind the shed in 10’ or ‘not fair to tan shirtless where I can see you :(‘ and he always looks like he can’t quite believe Louis shows up where he asked him to. Secret meetings are the only thing they can manage, to Louis’ dismay. He can’t justify going up to London too frequently, not when his two known friends don’t live there, and he can’t exactly invite Harry over, not with the wanker around.

To make up for it, they’ve found the perfect hideaway: at the eastern most corner of the backyard is a tool shed. It can’t be seen from the house and the trees surrounding it hide it from the other houses, as well, giving them a semblance of intimacy. It’s shock full of spiders and other critters, though, so more often than not Louis ends up staring at a daddy-long-leg while Harry goes down on him, willing it not to move until he’s come. All that hiding and secret rendezvous is thrilling, if Louis is honest. He feels devious and bold, and more alive than he has in his entire life. He lives for the moment when their eyes meet and an electric shock goes through his body, setting his nerves on fire and making him forget whatever it was he was doing, be it braid Phoebe’s hair or read a magazine. He knows that a few minutes later, he’ll get a message from Harry and that within the hour he’ll be pushed up against rough wood and covered in bruising kisses as he clings to Harry for dear life.

What helps the brilliant mood he’s been for two weeks is also the fact that he hasn’t had to jack off since that first night in his bed. Harry takes care of that for him almost daily. He’s pretty brilliant, Louis thinks, and what’s more brilliant is that he’s about to spend the weekend at Harry’s. He grins at Zayn as their cabbie inches through the thick traffic they hit as soon as they entered London, only to be met by a roll of eyes and a shove to the shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re about to get so much sex. Stop looking so smug,” Zayn mutters, patting Louis’ thigh.

“So much sex,” Louis repeats. “I get why you’re such a nymphomaniac, now.”


Louis snorts, shaking his head. “I’m your roommate, I know what I’m talking about. What about this summer?”

“This summer was a life experience, not a proof of anything.”

“Yeah, sure,” Louis drawls. “Whatever you say. Thanks for coming with me, by the way.”

“I’m only coming for the free drinks and to see the guy that makes you so happy,” Zayn replies with a shrug.

Louis grins even more and leans across the seat to hug Zayn, hanging on even as he tries to push him off. “You’re a big softie.”

“Piss off,” Zayn snaps and Louis plants a loud kiss to his cheek before letting go, taking out his phone to text Harry that he’ll be late because of the traffic.

Louis is surprised and unsettled when there’s no booming music coming from Harry’s flat when he reaches his floor. When he was invited to a ‘small party with all my favourite people, you better be there’, he’d honestly expected, well, a house party. That’s what cool young adults in their mid-twenties do, right? They throw small house parties all the time and they hook up in bathrooms. That’s what people in their twenties do, or at least, that was what Louis had imagined, but when he’s let into the flat, he’s shocked to see that there are only maybe five or six people there, including Harry and Niall, and that no one looks like they might do a line of cocaine on the toilet seat before the end of the night.

Actually, the table is set for dinner, a large bouquet of colourful flowers in its centre. Louis doesn’t recognise them, but he is confident they all mean friendship, hospitality and other such things. Harry is busy cooking while the guests are discussing in small groups, glasses of wine in hand. They’re all dressed for a nice dinner with friends and Louis feels out of place instantly. He dressed up for a party, squeezing into his tightest pair of jeans (white, for fuck’s sake, he looks like a prick) and a thin striped shirt. He’s simultaneously over- and underdressed for the night and it’s only the sight of Harry, curls made wilder by the steam from the pots he’s supervising, that keeps Louis from running away. He glances at Zayn and sees his worry reflected in the man’s brown eyes. Zayn, too, is dressed inappropriately, rocking a leather jacket and black skinny jeans that make him look like he walked out of a Lana Del Rey music video.

The woman who let them in is still holding the door and Louis realises he’s in the way with a squeak. He moves away and she shuts it, and it’s only then that Louis sees her face clearly. Underneath the lavender hair, the face is unmistakable.

“Are you Harry’s sister?” he asks, shuffling his feet, hands clasped behind his back to give himself a semblance of proper countenance.

She smiles, the same dimpled smile as Harry, and Louis knows even before she holds out her hand for him to shake. “You’ve got a good eye. I’m Gemma, nice to meet you. You are…?” She squints at him for a second before smiling even wider. “Are you Louis?”

He nods, shaking her hand. “Yes, that’s me. I’m Louis,” he replies lamely, wondering where his conversation skills have gone. “Nice to meet you, Gemma. This is my mate, Zayn.”

She looks Zayn up and down – a completely normal reaction to meeting Zayn for the first time – and smiles at him. “Hello, Zayn. Nice to meet you. And you,” she adds, turning to Louis with a frown that’s uncannily similar to Harry’s, “none of that shaking hand bullshit, you’re family. Come here,” she says before pulling Louis into a hug. He squawks and lets her hug him, awkwardly wrapping his arms around her for a second before she lets go and pats his arm. “You’re even cuter than I thought you’d be.”

Before Louis can reply, a booming voice cuts him, resonating through the flat and drawing everyone’s attention to the four of them when it asks: “Who’s the twink? Or, rather, whose is the twink?”

Louis looks up at the tall, skinny man who spoke. He looks to be in his early thirties and Louis instantly dislikes him. When Louis meets his eyes, he winks, which makes him blush and take a step back.

“Piss off,” Niall cuts in, wrapping an arm around Louis’ shoulders protectively. “Come on, Lou, Haz is waiting for you.”

Louis only has time to grab Zayn by the lapel of his jacket before Niall drags him away towards the kitchen. “Niall,” he says, “this is my friend Zayn, he came here as moral support.”

Niall nods at Zayn, eyes lingering on him for a second. “Good. With Nick here, you’ll need it,” he says, voice dark. “Styles,” he calls above the din of conversations once they manage to make their way to the kitchen despite the people and the table filling up most of the space, “your boy is here.” He takes Louis’ bag from him and disappears towards their rooms.

Harry puts down the knife he was using to cut tomatoes and turns around, smiling widely and eyes brightening at the sight of Louis. “Lou! Come here, come here, I can’t touch you because my hands are gross, give me a hug, come on,” he says, making Louis laugh.

He walks up to Harry and wraps his arms around his waist, hugging him tightly and smiling against his chest when Harry returns it. After a moment spent inhaling Harry’s scent and relishing the warmth of his embrace like the sap he is, Louis takes a step back and rises on the tip of his toes to kiss Harry, feeling him smile against his lips as he pecks them.

“Let me look at you, sunshine,” Harry says, taking a step back and looking Louis up and down. “White trousers, love it.” He spins his finger and Louis obliges, slowly turning on himself, his cheeks pink from the attention Harry is giving him. He feels like he’s the only person in the room and he absolutely loves it. “Gorgeous. And this is…”

“Zayn,” Louis answers, pulling Zayn closer with a hand on his back. “I brought him for moral support, if that’s alright?”

Harry and Zayn look at each other in silence for a moment and Louis feel his stomach churning. This is what he dreaded: Harry and Zayn finding each other attractive. He kept Zayn away from Harry before they were together so he had no chance to get his hands on Harry first, but he realises now that it was stupid; he pales in comparison to Zayn and he wouldn’t blame Harry for changing his mind over whom he’d rather call ‘sunshine’.

It’s over in a second, though, and then Harry is beaming at Zayn. “It’s a pleasure meeting you, Zayn. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“So have I,” Zayn says, and only someone who knows him as well as Louis does could tell that his tone is dripping with sarcasm. He gives Louis a pointed look that says ‘you didn’t tell me enough about him, you little shit’. It was definitely a good move to keep Zayn away from Harry while he was single.

Harry chuckles and nods before going back to his cutting board and winking at Louis when their eyes meet. “There’s wine on the counter if you want some and a plate of hors d’oeuvres is going around, if there’s any left. Dinner will be ready soon.”

Louis gives a final, quick kiss to Harry’s cheek before leaving the kitchen with Zayn, grinning when he sees Niall coming over with two glasses of wine.

“For you, kids. I’m Niall, by the way, Harry’s roommate. Louis forgot to introduce me,” Niall tells Zayn, handing Louis his glass of wine unceremoniously so he can shake Zayn’s hand.

“Cool,” Zayn says, sounding like it’s the most uncool thing he’s ever heard. He takes the wine Niall offers and takes a long sip, making a face when he’s done. “I’m not sure this can be called wine.”

Louis frowns. “You promised you’d be nice,” he hisses. “This isn’t being nice. Drink the bloody wine and keep your mouth shut about it. Not everyone can afford the stuff we drink.”

“I love your jacket,” Niall says, cutting off whatever Zayn was about to say. He’s smiling at Zayn almost stupidly, which, okay. Louis thought Niall was straight, but he’s currently sporting the face people attracted to Zayn usually wear.

“I’ll go see Harry,” Louis says, enjoying the glare Zayn shoots him. “You boys get to know each other, yeah?”

With that, Louis saunters back to Harry, feeling mischievous and proud of himself. If Zayn is in the mood to be a prick, Louis will give him a reason to act like one. He puts his glass on the counter before hoisting himself up to sit on it, returning the grin Harry gives him when he sees him.

“Lost your friend already?” Harry asks, offering Louis a raspberry.

Louis opens his mouth and lets Harry put the raspberry in, lifting his eyebrows suggestively when their eyes meet. “He’s with Niall,” Louis says, chewing on the fruit. “You didn’t tell me Niall’s gay.”

“He’s not,” Harry says, sounding surprised. “He’s aggressively straight.”

“Which is why he’s mooning over Zayn?” Louis nods towards them and Harry turns around to watch Niall listen intently to what Zayn is telling him, eyes wide and goofy smile on his face.

“To his defence, Zayn is very attractive.”

“More than me?” Louis asks, feigning an innocent tone to hide that he worries about the answer.

“No,” Harry replies without hesitation, kissing Louis’ shoulder. “No one is more attractive than you.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “I almost believed you.”

“You should. To me, you’re the most beautiful man in the world.” Harry smiles at him, earnest and open like he gets and Louis’ heart skips a beat.

He reaches forward and pulls Harry in by the neck, kissing him fully. “I’m glad I’m sleeping over,” he whispers against Harry’s lips, humming happily when Harry kisses him back enthusiastically, pulling Louis’ lip with his teeth.

“I’m glad you are,” he whispers back, dropping his knife and stepping in between Louis’ legs, pressing up against him and deepening the kiss when Louis pulls on his hair to dip his head back, crossing his ankles behind Harry.

“Get a room!” the man from earlier – Nick? – calls from across the flat, causing Harry to sigh through his nose and step away.

“Who’s that?” Louis asks, almost angrily. He really dislikes the man more and more with every passing second.

“That’s Nick, he’s…” Harry sighs again. “He’s my ex. The one I was telling you about.”

“The cheating one?” Louis blurts out, in shock. “What’s he doing here?”

“We still have friends in common,” Harry says with a shrug. “He’s just a pathetic prick, though, don’t pay attention to anything he says. He’s a terrible person.”

“You don’t say,” Louis snaps, glaring at Nick. “He cheated on you, it’s obvious that he’s not only a terrible person, but also a complete moron.”

Harry chuckles at that, kissing Louis’ cheek. “I really like you a ridiculous amount, you know that?”

Louis blushes and lets out a giggle, the change of topic giving him emotional whiplash. “You do?”

“A ridiculous amount, yeah. That’s like, at least ten times ‘a lot’.”

“Only ten?” Louis asks, giddy.

“Well, we’ve only been together for a month, give it time. Last week, it was nine times. It just keeps growing.”

“D’you think there’s a limit to the size it’ll take?” Louis tries to look serious as he asks, but he can’t fight the smile pulling at his lips.

“I don’t know, we’ll have to see.” Harry winks again and offers Louis his glass of wine. “Drink up, Nick’s the one who bought the booze, let’s make sure he can’t leave with any of it and save money that way.” Louis giggles and takes his glass, drinking a long sip that makes Harry smile proudly. “Good boy,” he adds before going back to cooking. “Have you met my sister yet?”

“Yeah, she’s the one who let me in. She said I’m cuter than she’d imagined. Sounds like you’ve been describing me wrong.”

Harry laughs, shaking his head. “But, my love, words can’t do justice to your beauty.”

“Can’t they? What about showing her a picture?”

“I don’t have any.”

Louis rolls his eyes and sighs, holding out his hand. “Alright, give me your mobile, I’ll take a selfie so you can show it to people.”

Harry bites his lip, looking hesitant. “You won’t take a selfie with my mobile.”

“Why not?” Louis asks, waiting before he gets offended. Harry must have a good reason, he mustn’t jump to conclusions and assume that Harry doesn’t want a picture of him on his mobile because he thinks, deep down, that Louis is ugly.

Taking his mobile out of his pocket, Harry hands it to Louis. “Because it doesn’t have a camera.”

Louis takes the mobile slowly, staring at it in horror. It’s a flip phone, grey and beat up, and when he flips it open, the screen lights up in green and black. He looks up at Harry, shock and disbelief etched on his face. “That’s your mobile?”

“It still works fine!” Harry says defensively. “I don’t have a plan, it’s prepaid, and it works perfectly fine for what I do with it.”

“But Haz, it’s ancient! Those came out when I was a child!”

“Yeah, well I was a teenager and it was a present from my nan.” Harry frowns. “You’re judging me.”

“I’m not,” Louis says immediately, realising perhaps for the first time that there’s more than just an age gap between he and Harry. “I’m just in shock.”

Harry shrugs, snatching the mobile back and shoving it in his pocket. “As long as it works, I don’t see why I should change it.”

Louis just shakes his head. “You text me with this? Even if all you’ve got is a number pad?”

“Yeah, I’m used to it.”

Biting his lip, Louis starts moving his legs back and forth, hitting the cupboard underneath him with his heels every time. “When’s your birthday?”

“February 1st, why?”

“Oh, it’s still far. I guess it could be an early Christmas present, then,” Louis says, thinking out loud.

“What are you talking about?” Harry asks, opening a cupboard next to Louis to take a tin of spices out of it.

“I’m going to buy you a new mobile.”

“No,” Harry immediately replies. “You won’t. I don’t need one.”

Louis squints. “You sort of do,” he says teasingly. “Yours belongs in the British Museum.”

“It’s not a fossil!” Harry snaps, clearly annoyed. Louis bites his lip and frowns. “I don’t need a iPhone or whatever you think I need.”

“But iPhones are fun! We could send each other pictures. All sorts of pictures,” he adds, smiling suggestively.

They might have only been having sex for two weeks, but Louis is slowly learning how to get Harry to do what he wants. All he needs to do is bite his lip and wiggle his hips and he’s got Harry wrapped around his finger.

“I don’t need a new mobile,” Harry insists. “Just drop it, alright?”

His tone of voice makes Louis recoil. He sounds truly annoyed and Louis regrets having pushed him. He ruined the mood. “I’m sorry. Forget it.”

Harry hums, stirring a pot with a bit too much force, making the contents overflow and fall on the stove with a sizzling noise. “Shit,” Harry growls, reaching for a rag. “Lou, can you get me the milk, please?”

Louis jumps off the counter and walks up to the fridge, frowning when he opens it. It’s almost empty, the few items in it mostly condiments or shrivelled greens. He picks up the carton of milk and brings it to Harry, still unsure whether he’s been forgiven. “You guys are due for groceries,” Louis comments lightly, trying to gauge Harry’s mood.

“Yeah, we know,” Harry says, a bit roughly.

Swallowing thickly, Louis picks up his glass of wine and leaves the kitchen without another word, going up to Zayn to try and join his conversation. He’s still where he left him, stuck in a conversation with Niall, but he looks like he might actually be enjoying himself, now, which, okay. Louis didn’t expect this to happen. He expected Zayn to despise everyone, especially Niall and his snapbacks. Against all odds, though, they seem to be really hitting it off, if the enthusiastic way with which Zayn is waving his hands around as he talks is anything to go by.

“Hello boys,” Louis says, cutting Niall off. “What are we talking about?”

“The latest Marvel movie,” Zayn answers.

“Oh.” Zayn had gone with Country Club Liam without even asking if Louis wanted to come along. “I haven’t seen it yet, is it good?”

It was the wrong question to ask. Louis spends the next five minutes watching Niall and Zayn talk over each other as they try to tell Louis about the movie, completing each other’s sentences and grinning when they do, and ugh. Louis is going to throw up if they keep this up.

“I’ll have to take Harry with me to see it,” Louis says once they’re done gushing over the movie, feeling a bit left out that his best mate is getting along better with a guy he met twenty minutes ago than with him.

“Harry doesn’t like superheroes,” Niall replies, making Louis frown and finish his glass of wine.

Next to him, Niall and Zayn pick up their conversation without trying to include Louis and he understands the message and walks away, unsure where to go. Nick is with Harry in the kitchen, a hand on the small of his back as he talks to him in a low voice. The sight stirs something hot and painful in Louis’ stomach and he frowns, a knot forming in his throat. Nick is standing really close to Harry and Harry’s doing nothing to push him away, letting the older man crowd his space and touch him in ways that only Louis should be allowed to touch him. He almost goes over, but then he remembers that they fought and stays rooted on the spot, glaring at Nick and hoping the saying ‘if looks could kill’ might magically become literal for his sake.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” Gemma asks brightly, making him jump.

Louis shrugs. “Yeah, sure.”

Gemma laughs. “I’m almost convinced. Did my brother kick you out of the kitchen?”

“In a way,” Louis replies evasively. “Note to self: don’t make fun of his prehistoric mobile.”

“Quick tip: don’t mention money around him. Ever.”

A mistake Louis has done three times already. Well. “Oh. Okay, I won’t. Is there any wine left?” he asks to steer the conversation away from his stupid mistakes.

“Yeah.” She grabs a bottle from the coffee table stashed away between the couch and the wall and then hesitates. “Are you old enough to drink?”

Louis rolls his eyes and clicks his tongue. “I’m 19.”

Gemma’s eyes widen. “Oh, bloody hell, you’re ten years younger than me. That’s not fair.” She fills Louis’ glass, pouting in a way that reminds Louis of Harry and makes his heart swell.

“I’m sorry?” he says coyly, batting his eyelashes.

“You better be.” Gemma sighs.

Arms wrap around Louis’ shoulders and he leans back on instinct, looking up and smiling at Harry. Harry pokes his tongue out in return and Louis feels his stomach unclench to see he might be forgiven.

“He better be what?” Harry asks, kissing Louis’ cheek.

“Sorry for being so young,” Gemma replies, shaking her head. “He’s six years younger than you, Haz, did you know?”

Harry shrugs; Louis can feel it and he leans even more into Harry, letting him hold up most of his weight. “I know. But he’s cute, isn’t he? Besides, Nick had six years on me and no one said anything.”

“We regretted it, too, didn’t we?”

Louis looks between Gemma and Harry, his lips pressed together. Unsure of what to do, he says the first thing to cross his mind: “I’m not going to cheat on Harry.”

Harry kisses Louis’ temple and presses his nose in his hair a few seconds. “I know you won’t, sunshine.”

Gemma bursts out laughing. “‘Sunshine’?”

Flipping off his sister, which makes Louis blush, an apology on the tip of his tongue, Harry lets go of Louis. “Dinner’s almost ready. I need to check on it. Come on, Lou.”

Louis follows Harry obediently, abandoning Gemma to her laughter and keeping quiet. He leans against the counter, out of Harry’s way, and watches him work until he can’t take the silence any longer and finishes his wine, giving himself courage to speak.

“I’m sorry about earlier, Harry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Harry clangs two plates together loudly and Louis sees him tense up. “It’s okay, baby. It’s all forgotten.” He gives Louis a smile over his shoulder, but Louis can see it’s fake.

“I won’t talk about money around you anymore. I’m sorry.” Louis hates how small his voice comes out. He hates fights. “Do you forgive me?”

“I said it was okay, Lou,” Harry says, abandoning the plates to walk up to Louis. “There’s nothing to forgive. It was just a bit of teasing that I took the wrong way. You’re allowed to tease me, you’re my boyfriend and I lo… I like you a ridiculous amount, remember?”

Louis smiles and nods before getting up on his tiptoes to kiss Harry’s nose. “Okay. Feed us, now.”

With his usual luck, Louis ends up sitting opposite Nick, squeezed between Harry and Zayn. All hopes he might have had that Zayn would save him from Nick are gone; he’s too busy talking with Niall to pay even the barest hint of attention to Louis. His aloof façade has fallen and he’s being his usual, charming albeit slightly dorky self, which seems to work wonders on Niall, who looks at Zayn like he’s Apollo incarnate. As for Harry, he’s got guests to entertain and quirky anecdotes to tell, and Louis knows that sooner or later he’ll meet Nick’s eyes by accident and he’ll try to talk to him. He can feel it coming, can feel the man’s eyes on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he has to choose whether he’ll be hypocritically pleasant or horrifyingly rude to the man who broke his boyfriend’s heart.

So, Louis drinks wine and stuffs himself, hoping that if his mouth is full Nick won’t talk to him. He’s on his third – fourth? – glass of wine and enjoying a pleasant buzz that leaves him feeling warm and sleepy. Harry cooked a three-course meal for them and every part of it is delicious, prompting Louis to get a second serving of everything just to see the proud look in Harry’s eyes when he asks for more. They’ll have to roll him to Harry’s bedroom later, or he’ll be like the guy at the end of that Monty Python movie, but he doesn’t care: it makes his boyfriend happy to feed him so he’ll keep eating.

“Lou,” Harry says, running his hand down Louis’ back.

“What is it, love?” Louis replies, looking up from his plate to smile brightly at Harry. Through the wine, Harry’s eyes seem greener than they’ve ever been, the flame from the candle dancing in them enticingly.

“I want to introduce you to my mates,” he explains, his hand still on Louis’ back. He motions to a ginger man who waves at Louis. “This is Ed, we met through Niall. And those two lovely ladies here are friends of Gemma who only came here for the free food.” Harry pokes his tongue out at them, making them laugh. He leans closer to Louis. “I don’t know their names, so we’ll pretend it’s normal I didn’t tell you,” he whispers before kissing Louis’ cheek. “Louis’ my boyfriend, everyone, in case you couldn’t already tell.”

“We could,” Gemma deadpans, making everyone laugh. Louis blushes.

“Yeah, well, I wanted to officially introduce him because I’m hoping he’ll stick around for a while.” Harry takes Louis’ hand and squeezes it.

Louis returns the squeeze, glad for the physical comfort. Harry’s statement took him by surprise; he hoped, prayed and wished that Harry was serious about them, that he wanted it to happen for a long time, but he’d never said it out loud and Louis felt silly asking for confirmation. So, to be actually hearing it, to have the confirmation that he’s not just a summer fling, well. He needs Harry’s hand in his and a few minutes to process the news.

“I’ll stick around for as long as you’ll have me,” Louis replies, clearing his throat after his voice came out small and uncertain.

Harry beams at him, eyes crinkled and cheeks dimpled, and Louis returns it, biting his lip and blushing. For a moment, he forgets that there are other people in the cramped flat, he forgets everything that isn’t Harry’s eyes looking at him like he’s the only thing that exists and he never wants to look away. And then Harry’s leaning forward and Louis’ breath hitches when Harry ghosts his lips over his, making Louis chase them forward to give him a proper kiss, his free hand coming up to rest on Harry’s neck and hold him in place until he’s given Louis a satisfactory kiss.

That one kiss turns into another, then another, and Louis’ losing himself into it, his breath becoming laboured as Harry kisses him with growing intensity, and Louis had never really understood what lust was until The Night in his bed; now he understands it, can feel the ache as he craves Harry’s body against his, sinking his fingers in Harry’s thick curls and pulling them only so he can hear the surprised, quiet moan that Harry lets out. The wine only serves to enhance Louis’ lust and lower his inhibitions, making him consider, if only for a brief moment, that it wouldn’t really be that bad if he slipped under the table and sucked Harry off despite the people around them because at least he’d stop feeling like his nerves are on fire.

It’s over as soon as it’s started, though, and Louis lets out a shaky sigh when Harry pulls away, giving Louis a sheepish smile and a wink.

“Thanks for the show,” Nick snarls, smirking at them above his glass of wine, the content of which he’s swirling slowly.

“Don’t be jealous,” Louis says, pulling himself upright and narrowing his eyes at Nick. He reaches for his glass of wine and watches in horror as Harry takes it away.

“You’ve had enough,” he tells Louis in a low voice, ignoring Louis’ offended squawk as he tries to get it back, only for Harry to hold it out of his reach.

“Jealous of what?” Nick asks, letting out an arrogant laugh. “Jealous that Harry babysits you and calls it dating?”

“No, jealous that I have him and you don’t anymore,” Louis says, guessing more than knowing for sure that this is why Nick is being a prick to him. He’d understand, he would, if Nick wanted Harry back. He’d want Harry back, too, if he’d lost him.

“If I wanted Harry back, I’d have him already, sunshine. A virgin isn’t much competition.”

Louis opens his mouth to reply before closing it again, wishing he had something to say to stop Nick from continuing.

“Are you guys passed snogging, yet? Maybe some groping over the clothes? How’s that going for you, Hazza? Not too frustrated that you’re stuck with a clingy prude?”

“Hey,” Harry snaps. There’s an edge to his voice that Louis’ never heard and he sits up straighter, worried. “You can either respect Louis or leave.”

Nick laughs, giving Harry a charming smile that makes Louis feel sick to the stomach. “Come on, Haz, we’re just having a laugh. He’s a plucky one, you can be proud.”

“Behave,” is all Harry replies, relaxing his grip on Louis’ knee and pushing him with his shoulder. Louis looks up at him, relaxing when he sees the goofy smile Harry’s giving him. “You okay?”

“Yeah, of course. Except that you took my wine away,” Louis says flippantly.

“I did, yeah. You’d had enough. Do you always drink that much?”

Louis laughs to hide that he’s a bit offended. “I don’t drink that much.”

“Okay, it’s just that every time we eat together I have a hard time keeping up with you.”

Louis swallows. He’s noticed that he drinks more when he’s around Harry, but he didn’t think Harry had. “I guess you still make me nervous and wine helps,” he admits, feeling foolish and a bit like he’s being reprimanded. He doesn’t like it, doesn’t like that Nick has put in his mind the idea that maybe, perhaps, Harry’s babysitting him more than dating him.

“I’m sorry,” Harry replies, sounding sad. He takes Louis’ chin in his hand, stroking it gently, and then lifts Louis’ head to kiss him. “I don’t want to make you nervous.”

“It’s not your fault. I’m stupid.”

Harry kisses him again. “You can either respect Louis or leave,” he whispers, bumping his forehead against Louis’. Louis lets out a giggle that Harry mirrors.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” Nick announces loudly, pushing his plate away and nearly knocking down a candle.

From his end of the table, Niall lets out a loud groan. “Shut the fuck up, Nick.”

“It’s just a joke, Jesus, people, unclench your arses.”

“Maybe you’re the one who’s not funny. Ever think of that?” Niall snaps back.

“Dessert!” Gemma nearly shouts to cover whatever Nick was about to reply. “Where is it, Haz, I’ll go get it.”

“I’ll help,” Harry tells her, kissing Louis one last time.

Louis watches the two siblings get up and then turns to Zayn, doing everything he can to avoid meeting Nick’s eyes. “Hey, Zayn, having fun?” he asks, trying to sound cheerful. He probably sounds manic.

“No,” Zayn says dully. “Niall’s okay, though.”

“Yeah? What would Country Club Liam think if he saw you with Niall right now?”

“He wouldn’t give a shit.”

From the other side of the table, Nick stretches out his hand. Niall, Zayn and Louis look at him wordlessly until he speaks up. “Hi, I’m Nick, I don’t think we’ve met… Zayn? Is that it?”

“No,” is all Zayn says before turning back to Niall, pointedly and blatantly ignoring Nick.

Louis can’t hold back his laughter so he hides it behind his hand, giggling as he watches Nick’s face contort with indignation. He’s seen dozens of guys and girls on the receiving end of Zayn’s cold shoulder, but none has been as satisfying as Nick’s reaction.

“Zayn Malik, if I didn’t know you so well, I’d be in love with you,” Louis tells him, still laughing.

“Please,” Zayn says, rolling his eyes. “You couldn’t handle me.”

“I know. I live with you and your weird obsession with cleaning. And don’t get me started on the time you spend in the bathroom!”

“You’re cheeky when you’re drunk, I don’t know if I like it.”

“Better cheeky than snogging you, no?”

Zayn scrunches up his nose. “Don’t remind me, please.”

“You guys snogged?” Niall asks, sounding too interested for Louis’ liking. He glares at him for good measure. “Don’t glare, Lou, you’re the one who brought it up. So, did you?”

“Once,” Zayn says before Louis can reply with a lie. “At a party. It wasn’t fun.”

Louis gasps. “Are you saying I was shit?!”

“No, just that it felt like I was kissing my brother.”

Harry comes back with dessert, a rich-looking chocolate mousse with raspberry syrup, saving Louis from having to answer. He’s not even remotely hungry, but it looks delicious and Harry made it, so of course Louis will eat it. There’s no question there. He’ll even take two servings so there are no leftovers.

He comes to regret that decision exactly twenty minutes later, when he feels like his stomach is about to burst if he eats one more bite. The wine isn’t helping; his happy buzz is gone, replaced by a pounding headache and nausea.

“I think I’ll go lie down on the couch for a bit, Haz. I’m feeling sick,” he says after admitting defeat and leaving the two bites of mousse that are left on his plate.

Harry pushes back Louis’ fringe then runs his hand down Louis’ cheek, stroking it softly while he frowns with concern. “Okay. You tell me if it gets worse, baby.”

“I’ll be fine, I just ate too much, is all. It was just too good.”

With a quick peck to Harry’s lips, Louis gets up slowly and heads for the couch, falling on it rather than lying down and readjusting the cushions so he can still see what’s happening even if he’s away from the table. From his new vantage point, he has front row seats to the weird mating ritual that’s happening between Zayn and Niall, which seems to be composed of one of them flirting with the other before acting like it was a joke, only to look thrilled when the other does the same thing in response. Ed and the two girls are talking with Gemma, who is turning out to have the same mannerisms as her brother when she talks. It makes Louis smile. Harry is busy gathering up the empty plates to bring them to the kitchen, turning down anyone who offers him help, which means that Nick is left on his own and—yes, there it is, he’s noticed it, too, and he’s getting up and heading towards Louis. He lets out a sigh.

Nick sits on the coffee table, lifting his eyebrows in greetings when Louis glances at him. “You okay?”

“Yes,” Louis replies curtly, turning his eyes to Harry and smiling fondly to see him laughing loudly at something one of his friends said.

“When’s it due?”

Tearing his eyes away from Harry, Louis looks at Nick. “What?”

“Your food baby. When’s it due?”

Louis lifts his head to look down at himself, noticing that his tummy is rounder because of the large quantity of food he ate. He looks bloody pregnant. He pulls a cushion from under his head and puts it over his stomach, crossing his arms over it.

“Piss off,” he snaps, closing his eyes as he feels himself blushing. “Leave me alone.”

His head has started spinning from the wine and Louis puts an arm over his eyes, letting out a shaky sigh. He wishes Nick would go away, or alternatively he wishes he’d gone to lie down on Harry’s bed instead of the couch, so he could be left alone and go to sleep until his stomach ache is gone.

There’s rustling next to him and Louis sighs, lifting his arm just enough so that he can take a peek and see who’s coming closer. He’s met with a pair of green eyes and he softens, rubbing his eye and smiling at Harry.

“How’re you feeling?” Harry asks, stroking Louis’ forehead gently.

“A bit sick.”

Harry hums sadly and kisses Louis’ forehead, making him smile. “I ran down to the store to get you sparkling water, it might help.”

“Help me up.”

Harry helps Louis sit up and sits on the couch so Louis can lean against him, offering the glass of sparkling water and helping Louis drink from it before pulling him against him and holding him close. The others join them, Louis can hear them pulling chairs and the conversations getting closer, and he lets out a deep, sleepy sigh and burrows into Harry’s side, soothed by Harry’s hand running through his hair. Zayn nudges his feet until Louis pulls up his leg to let him sit on the other end of the couch, only to stretch his legs in his lap once he’s settled. Zayn puts his arms over them and strokes his shin a few times, soothingly.

“You met Louis at school, right?” Louis hears Harry say and he cracks open his eyes to see Zayn nod at him.

“Yeah, we were assigned the same dorm. We moved into a flat together during our second term, though.”

“They go to Oxford,” Harry announces proudly and Nick’s comment comes back to his mind: Harry sounds like he’s talking about his son, not his boyfriend. “Louis told me you’re the son of an ambassador or something?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zayn replies and Louis detects the first hints of his walls coming back up.

He pinches Harry’s waist and shakes his head, giving him a pointed look. “Zayn’s also an amazing artist,” Louis comments.

“Yeah? What kind of art?”

Zayn perks up immediately and takes his mobile out of his pocket, scooting closer and leaning over Louis to show pictures of his artwork to Harry. “Mostly graffiti, but I designed tattoos, too, like…” He shrugs off his jacket to show his arms to Harry and Louis shifts, feeling in the way of their budding friendship, both figuratively and literally. There are some scenarios in which he might have imagined himself sandwiched between Harry and Zayn, but this isn’t one of them.

“Fuck, those are awesome,” Harry tells Zayn, holding his arm to look at his tattoos properly.

“Yours are cool, too, what’s that one…?” Zayn asks, pulling up Harry’s short sleeve to uncover the ship, which he spends a long time studying. “The details, man, it’s amazing.”

Louis watches them, frowning more and more as they bond over their tattoos. He steals a glance at Niall, who looks deeply offended that someone stole his brand new toy.

“Do you draw, too?” Zayn asks when he finally moves away, leaving room for Louis to breath and curl up more into Harry’s side, not claiming him but—alright, yes, claiming him.

“No, but I sing, sometimes. Niall and I, we make songs together, nothing serious, but yeah. It’s fun.”

“Niall?” Zayn asks, curious, and Louis chuckles to see Niall come closer immediately. “You sing, too?”

“I mostly play the guitar. Haz has got the better voice between us.”

“You never told me you sang,” Louis comments, looking up at Harry. He hopes his bitterness doesn’t show too much in his voice.

“It never came up.” Harry shrugs and kisses the top of Louis’ head.

With Harry’s reply, Louis crosses his arms over his chest and tunes out the conversation, feeling like shit. He has nothing in common with Harry. He’d never really paid attention to it before because they lived in this sort of bubble where only the two of them existed, but outside of it, they don’t fit. Harry’s the artistic type – obviously, why didn’t Louis see this one coming? – so of course he gets along well with Zayn. He was talking about music with Ed earlier, too, and it only goes to show how shit Louis is at being a boyfriend. He didn’t even know about one of the things Harry obviously loves the most. He should have asked questions about his hobbies rather than complain about his own shit life. Hell, the moment he gets a glimpse of the kind of life Harry leads, he goes and takes the piss, proving once and for all that he doesn’t deserve Harry. Louis has nothing to offer, compared to, well, everyone. He’s talentless and whiny, and spoiled, and he was foolish to think that he deserved someone as selfless, caring and fascinating as Harry.

Around him, Zayn, Niall and Harry are talking about eventually jamming together and that’s it, Louis has heard enough. He pushes himself off Harry and stands up, smoothing down his clothes.

“I’ll go to your room, alright? I’m not feeling too good.”

Without waiting for Harry’s reply, Louis takes off. He wishes nothing more than to go back home, to run out of the flat and take a cabbie back home, but he’s supposed to spend the weekend away, having fed bullshit to his stepfather about a camping trip with Zayn. He can’t go back, he’s supposed to be hundreds of miles away. Collapsing face first on Harry’s bed, Louis grabs a pillow and buries his face in it, the overwhelming smell of Harry on it bringing tears to his eyes.

Sniffling, he pulls his mobile out of his pockets and quickly thumbs a message to Perrie: Harry and Zayn are getting along really well.

Her reply is almost instantaneous: How well?

‘Well’ like ‘we have everything in common omg soulmates!!!!!’ I should never have introduced them :(

I’m sure you’re exaggerating. Have you been drinking?

Louis sniffs disdainfully, alone in the dark. He feels pathetic. Just a bit of wine.

Here’s your explanation: too much wine makes you sad. Remember my birthday and how you ended up in the bathtub crying about how much you hate your life?

With a groan, Louis throws his mobile out of reach and buries his face in the pillow once more to better enjoy his pity party. Wine doesn’t make him sad; life does.

What feels like five hours later, but must only have been one, which Louis spent brooding, the door creaks open and then closes again. The bed dips and a light clicks on. Louis turns his head and looks up at Harry, at his face, cast in a pale light that highlights the lines of concern on it.

“Are you feeling better?” Harry asks softly, stroking Louis’ back.

Louis shrugs. “You’re not with Zayn?”

Harry chuckles as he starts taking off his clothes. “No, Zayn is busy elsewhere.” When Louis doesn’t prod, Harry continues. “He’s getting to know Niall in the biblical sense.” Again, Louis stays silent. “It turns out that Niall isn’t as straight as I’d imagined. After you left, I went to do the dishes and when I returned to the couch, they were snogging. It’s a sight I’ll never be able to get out of my mind. It’s burned on my retinas forever.”

“Why, ‘cause you’re jealous?”

That stops Harry. “What?”

“You’d prefer if it was him instead of me in your bed, wouldn’t you? You guys have so much in common,” Louis says, trying to keep his tone even under the emotions.

“Well, yeah, we get along well, but I’m not…”

“You can’t deny he’s gorgeous.”

“Yeah, he is, but I’m not into him. He’s a great guy, but that’s it. What’s gotten into you?” He sits on the edge of the bed, shirtless and with his trousers undone. He looks confused and lost and it only makes Louis feel even worse.

Louis sits up and wraps his arms around his knees, looking at the plaid comforter so he doesn’t have to see the look on Harry’s face. “Tell me one thing we have in common, Harry.”

Harry frowns, but stay silent.

“I couldn’t find anything either. You’re… You’re out of my league. You’re an amazing person with a heart the size of Australia and I’m a bitter, spoiled brat who doesn’t deserve you.” Louis bites his lip, willing his tears away.

“Stop it, Louis. You need to stop putting me on a pedestal. I’m just a guy, a stupid guy with a shit job and more tattoos than common sense. I don’t know how you see me in your head, but you’re painting me as better than I am.” Harry sighs, taking Louis’ hands in his. “Love Actually.

Louis sniffles. “What?”

“We both love Love Actually. And Grease. And I’m sure if we get going, we’d find loads of movies we both love. Titanic?

“I love it,” Louis admits. He swallows around the knot in his throat. “Notting Hill?”

“I cried like a baby. P.S. I Love You?

Louis sits up straighter, shaking his head. “So what if we both like romantic comedies, that doesn’t mean anything.”

“What more do you want? We like things in common, we’re attracted to each other, you make me laugh and we have fun together, like, I don’t know what else you think we need.”

Bowing his head, Louis shrugs. “I just… I just don’t understand why you chose me. You could have anyone,” he says in a small, weak voice.

“No, I couldn’t. Not everyone likes my frog face, you know.”

“You don’t look like a frog!” Louis cries, offended. “You’re gorgeous!”

“I sort of look like a frog. The point is, you think everyone wants me because you do. And it’s the same for me, you know. It’s pretty threatening to see you being so close to Zayn. He said you’re like brothers and then I’ve got to listen to my boyfriend telling me he needs to get drunk to be comfortable around me.”

“Zayn and I aren’t like brothers. He planned a road trip in America without me. He was just saying that so Niall wouldn’t come in his pants at the idea of us snogging.” Louis swallows, biting his lip. “I’m sorry I panicked. I know you like me, I just… Wine makes me sad.”

Harry pulls him into a hug and Louis gives in without resisting, burying his face in Harry’s neck and clinging to him. “It’s okay, love. Just tell me next time before you talk yourself into thinking we’re not working. I’ll tell you all about how if I’d met you when I was younger, I’d have been so intimidated by you.”

Louis pulls out of the hug just enough to look at Harry. “What?”

“I had a crush on a guy who looked a lot like you when I was 17. He was older and all.”

“When you say he looked like me…”

“Similar haircut, similar bodies, about your height, blue eyes… But he was a terrible person.”

“And I’m not?”

Harry rolls his eyes and pinches Louis’ waist. “You’re the worst. The absolutely worst person I’ve met.”

“Hey!” Louis cries out, pushing Harry’s hand away and squirming out of his reach. “That’s not very nice!”

Harry laughs and plants a loud kiss to Louis’ forehead before getting up to finish undressing. The domesticity of the scene takes Louis’ breath away and he finds himself mirroring Harry by pulling off his shirt and squirming out of his trousers.

“I’d be easier if you got up,” Harry comments as he kneels on the bed and grabs the hems of Louis’ jeans to help him. He pulls while Louis pushes them down, and between the two of them they successfully get them off. “Yay!” Harry cheers, throwing them aside before crawling up Louis’ body to straddle his lap and take his face in his. “Are we okay?”

The laughter that Harry’s cheer had created dies at the question and Louis swallows, biting his lip. “I don’t know… Are we?”

Harry shrugs. “It worries me that you don’t see us as equals.” Before Louis can object, Harry lifts his hand. “Let me finish. I mean, it feels like you think I’m doing you a favour by dating you. That I don’t really like you. And I don’t know how to show you that I do. Like you, I mean.”

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do, I just need to… I need to believe my luck, is all.”

“I wouldn’t call it luck,” Harry says, scrunching up his nose. “You still seem to see me as perfect, but you’re very wrong. I’m just good at hiding my flaws.”

“We’ve already talked about your frog face.”

Harry is still straddling him, his weight warm and heavy on Louis’ thighs, and Louis hesitantly places his hands on Harry’s bare thighs, eyes darting down to look at his black briefs. He licks his lips.

“It’s more than my frog face. I don’t have any valuable degree or skills that could get me a real job, which means I’m poor. And not, like, quirky poor. I’m on welfare during the winter. That kind of poor. The non-glamorous kind.”

“There’s a glamorous kind of poor?”

“Like, hipsters. The kind who don’t own tellies and who dress in thrift shops. I’m not finished. I’m not only poor, but I’m, like, physically unable to say no to anyone. I don’t stand up for myself because I don’t like confrontations. And I reached my peak at 17. I’ve only gone downhill ever since and turned into a frog.”

Louis nods ponderingly. “Alright, I see. But those aren’t flaws, they’re just part of who you are.”

“And yet, they make me feel like you’re wasting your time with me,” Harry says and he’s smirking, the arsehole.

“I see what you just did,” Louis replies through a sigh, rolling his eyes. He scratches down Harry’s thighs for the pleasure of seeing him lose his smugness and bite his lip.

“So stop insulting my boyfriend and saying he’s not good enough for me. I chose him and I’m sticking with my choice.” Harry presses their noses together until Louis has to go cross-eyed. He laughs and Harry does, too, before kissing him.

“It’ll take some time, but I’ll work on it, I promise,” Louis says once he stops laughing, feeling the shadow of his anxieties from earlier looming in the back of his mind. He clears his throat. “Now, when you said you’d reached your peak at 17… Do you have pictures?”

Harry groans, but gets off Louis to go get his computer, shaking his bum when he notices Louis staring. “Please don’t laugh. I was a massive dork.”

“As opposed to now?”

Dropping his laptop on the bed, Harry grabs a pillow and hits Louis with it. “I like that you’re coming out of your shell, but not that you’re insulting me. I miss the bashful, star struck Louis who choked on his drinks when I smiled at him.”

Louis smiles coyly. “He’s still there. He’s just careful not to have any drinks nearby when you’re feeling flirty.”

Harry pushes Louis with his shoulder before pulling his laptop closer, readjusting the power chord before he opens the lid and powers it on. “No comments on my computer. It’s a veteran.”

“What war did it fight?” Louis asks, biting his lip against the comment that threatened to bubble out of him at the sight of the Windows XP start up screen.

“My puberty,” Harry replies lightly, but he shoots Louis a glance that’s pregnant with meaning.

“Oh god, Harold, that’s disgusting.” Louis shoves Harry once, then a second time, then a third, finally satisfied that he properly conveyed how disgusted he is at the thought of the years and years of—of scum crusted in the keys of the computer.

Harry only laughs, tapping his fingers on the computer’s plastic casing as he waits for it to boot up. “You’ve got to be patient with it, its days of glory are well behind.”

At last, after a solid five minutes of distressing noises and blank screens, the computer boots up to reveal a picture of Harry with his mother and his sister as the wallpaper. Louis coos and Harry’s cheeks turn pink as he quickly opens his pictures folder and starts scrolling through it. He hovers over a thumbnail and turns to Louis, face serious.

“Alright. This picture was taken when I was shopping with friends and on the phone with my mum, I think. Don’t laugh.”

He clicks open the picture and Louis’ breath catches in his throat. He scoots closer to get a better look at Harry’s wide eyes, plump cheeks and cherry red lips, framed by fluffy curls. He’s wearing a white scarf and a thick brown cardigan, and he looks like every boy Louis has ever fantasised about since he knew what fantasising was.

“Oh my god, Haz,” he breathes out, stroking the screen with the tip of his finger. “You were so cute! Look at you! You’re such a baby, your cheeks… oh my god!” He’s squealing, but he can’t stop it, just like he can’t tear his eyes away. “Do you have any others?”

Pursing his lips, Harry opens another picture, this time of him wearing a purple hoodie and a knitted hat in the shape of a bear. Louis has to put his hands over his mouth to hold back the high-pitched noise he almost let out.

“I would have had such a massive, embarrassing crush on you,” Louis muses, stroking the screen softly once more. He honestly can’t believe his eyes, can’t believe how beautiful Harry has always been; Louis’ own pictures from when he was 17 should probably be destroyed using nuclear power so they can’t harm anyone, and then there’s Harry who looked like a cherub. No wonder he grew up to be such a handsome man.

“See what I mean by reaching my peak at 17?” Harry deadpans.

Louis pulls the laptop closer to get a better look. The power chord gets stuck on the corner of the mattress, though, and when Louis pulls harder it unplugs. The computer shuts down without a warning and Louis gasps, turning to Harry with wide eyes. “Did I break it?”

“No, no, s’just the battery’s dead so it always needs to be plugged in. Give it here.”

Harry grabs the computer and puts it back on the floor where he took it before coming back to the bed and slumping against his pillows, looking a bit dejected.

“Are you sure I didn’t break it? You look upset.”

“M’not,” Harry mumbles before he sighs. “It’s okay if you prefer what I looked like at 17. I don’t mind.”

Louis barks out a laugh before he sees that Harry looks truly upset. “I don’t. You were cute, but now you’re… you take my breath away, Haz. You’re gorgeous, you’re sexy, you’re everything a boy could dream of.”

“It’s all the wine you drank that’s talking.”

“No, that was sober Louis. But the wine wonders if I can give you a blowjob, though. The wine thinks it’d be a wonderful idea and it’s letting me ask you because it has fewer inhibitions than me.”

Harry lets out a gasp and nods, pulling Louis by the arms to kiss him. “Your first one. It’s a big event, we should celebrate,” Harry mutters against his lips.

“I’ll celebrate by trying not to choke, thank you very much,” Louis pipes. He runs his fingers through Harry’s hair, pushing it away from his forehead, before leaning in for a quick kiss. “It’s quite stressful, to be honest. I won’t be good.”

“Don’t worry about any of that, sunshine. Even if you were terrible, which I know you won’t be, it’d still be good because it’s coming from you. So just relax and have fun, yeah?” Harry sits up a bit straighter, looking serious all of a sudden. “I wanted to tell you and now’s a good time, I suppose. A couple of weeks ago, when I decided I was going to woo you, I got myself tested and I’m clean. I’m not saying we should, you know, be reckless, but I don’t have any, like, STDs or whatever. So you don’t have to worry.”

“Oh, okay. I… yeah. I was wondering. Like, in my bed the other night, when you… when you swallowed, I was, hum, well, I didn’t lick yours, right? Because I didn’t know. If I should.” Louis rubs the back of his neck, letting out a nervous laugh.

“I’m monogamous and I’m clean, you can if you want.”

Louis nods and climbs on top of Harry, enjoying the smile Harry gives him when he straddles him and bends down to press a slow, tender kiss to his lips. “Look at us, having a grown-up conversation like grown-ups. We’re so adult.”

“Saying how adult you are kind of cancels the fact, though.”

“Hush,” is all Louis replies before going in for another kiss, feeling like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Harry moves his hands to Louis’ arse – his favourite thing to touch, Louis has come to realise – and strokes it as he kisses back, digging his fingers in the flesh until Louis’ breath hitches and he pushes back against Harry’s hands. Letting out a pleased hum, Harry slips his hands underneath Louis’ brief, pushing them down while scraping his nails on Louis’ skin, making him shiver and kiss Harry harder. Lowering himself on top of Harry completely, Louis starts slowly grinding his hips down, enjoying the noises Harry lets out with every roll of his hips.

His entire world gets reduced to Harry’s lips and Harry’s warm skin underneath him and Harry’s hands stroking and scratching every inch of Louis’ body. Harry’s touching him reverently, like he can’t get enough, like he wants to crawl under Louis’ skin, and it makes Louis’ heart hammer in his chest. He’s forgetting to breath in between the feverish kisses they share, his fingers sunk into Harry’s curls to keep his head where he wants it. It’s too much, too fast, their hips grinding through the fabric of their briefs and between the wine and Harry’s body pliant and responsive underneath him, Louis’ head begins to spin and he pulls out of the kiss with a gasp, resting his forehead against Harry’s, eyes closed and breath laboured.

“I need…” he pants, “ I need a moment.”

“Okay,” is all Harry replies, dragging the tips of his fingers up and down Louis’ back, barely touching his skin and raising goose bumps on it.

Louis shifts and whines through his nose when their cocks brush, forgetting for a moment his initial plan and rolling his hips down once more, swallowing the small gasp that escapes Harry’s lips with a kiss.

“I want…” Louis rolls off Harry, running a hand down his face to try and clear his mind, “I want to blow you.”

“I’m not going to stop you,” Harry replies, smiling goofily. He moves without a warning to take off his underwear and Louis watches as his cock springs free, bobbing in the air for a second before it rests flat against Harry’s smooth stomach.

“Okay. Okay,” Louis says, taking off his own briefs before moving in to kiss Harry one more time so he forgets he’s feeling self-conscious to be naked with him. “I’m going to do that, now.”

He’s met with an encouraging smile, so he nods and kisses Harry’s lips one more time, then his jaw, moving down to kiss his neck, humming in approval when Harry moves his head, exposing more of his neck for Louis to kiss.

“Can I…” he asks, sucking lightly, waiting for permission to leave a mark.

“Yes!” Harry replies enthusiastically, nodding and almost hitting his chin on Louis’ head.

Louis nods, too, resolutely, and he attaches his lips to Harry’s neck, sucking on the skin below his jaw. He’s pleasantly surprised to hear Harry let out a quiet gasp and feel him shift underneath him. It makes him feel adventurous and bold and he scrapes his teeth over the spot he’s marked, relishing the way Harry whines. Pulling back to see what he’s done, Louis rubs his thumb over the reddened skin, smirking proudly. He then resumes kissing down Harry’s neck, moving to the other side and dragging his teeth against the skin just to make Harry gasp out again.

Taking a hold of Louis’ shoulders, his nails digging into his skin in a way that makes Louis shiver, Harry licks his lips. “You can bite.”

Louis nods again, rubbing his nose against Harry’s neck before he gently bites his collarbone; the noise Harry lets out goes straight to his cock. He does it again, harder, and Harry squirms under him, his breath coming out loud and ragged. Doing it one more time, Louis bites as hard as he dares, hearing Harry moan at the same time as the taste of blood fills his mouth.

“Shit, I’m sorry, Haz, I didn’t mean to do it that hard, I…”

Harry shuts him up by hooking a hand behind his neck and pulling him into a kiss, his tongue pushing passed his lips and roaming in Louis’ mouth, licking and insistent. Louis’ toes curl and he moans, trying to pull back only to be held in place by Harry’s firm grip on his neck.

When he finally lets go, Louis’ head his spinning and he isn’t sure he remembers his name. The look on Harry’s face is almost reverent and Louis takes note of the fact that Harry likes to be bitten hard.

“Do you mind?” Louis asks, flippant, and it earns him a small slap on the bum. He gasps, feigning indignation to hide that it did things to him, oh my god, does this mean he likes being spanked? “I was doing something.”

Harry chuckles and lets go of Louis, raising his arms above his head, his right hand holding his left wrist. “No touching, alright.”

“I didn’t—” Louis takes in the sight, letting his eyes travel over Harry’s outstretched body on display for Louis, and he bites his lip. “Okay. Yeah, no touching,” he repeats, in a small voice he tries to keep steady.

He bends down and kisses the star tattooed inside Harry’s arm, nipping at it until Harry hisses. Louis kisses his nose in atonement and then crawls down his body, kissing both of his bird tattoos before dragging his teeth down the length of the butterfly on his chest as he starts wondering how he’ll go about giving head to Harry.

Well, no, not… he knows how to give head, he’s been on the receiving end of it and he has a vague idea of what needs to be done. The question is rather if he should lie on his belly in between Harry’s legs, or maybe have him sit by the edge of the bed and kneel on the floor? Harry’s done both to him, once on his bed and hen knelt in the dirt as he pushed Louis against the wall of the shed in his backyard, and Louis had always imagined that the first time he went down on a guy, he’d do it down on his knees, but now, with Harry laid out and offered to Louis, well, he doesn’t know what to do.

“Stop overthinking it,” Harry says, nudging Louis’ hip with his knee.

“I wasn’t…” Louis trails off, smiling guiltily. He settles between Harry’s legs, his breath hitching when Harry tightens his legs around him.

Louis begins by taking Harry’s cock in his hand, stroking it a few times and watching, entranced, as always, at the size of it in his hand. He runs his thumb over the head, petting Harry’s hip when he squirms, and begins lowering himself, unfolding his body so that he’s lying on his stomach in between Harry’s legs, his cock mere inches from his face.

Before he can overthink it again, he presses a kiss underneath the head. His eyes flick up to see Harry’s reaction, finding him biting his lip with a look of awe on his face. That encourages Louis and he kisses down the length before dragging his lips back up. He checks once more that Harry is enjoying it and Harry gives him an encouraging smile.

“You’re doing great, sunshine. Don’t worry about me.”

Louis smiles and then dives in, letting the tip of Harry’s cock slip between his lips. He suckles it for a moment and listens with glee as Harry lets out breathy moans and pleased hums. He flicks his tongue against the slit and is rewarded by a loud, surprised moan and a chuckle. Convinced and reassured that he’s doing a good job, Louis sinks lower, keeping his tongue flat so that it drags along the underside as he takes more of Harry in his mouth. Harry squirms underneath him and hums, his arms twitching, but not moving down.

Slowly, Louis begins bobbing his head, taking in as much as he can – which isn’t a lot, if he’s honest – and covering the rest with his hand, moving both in time and in the process forgetting to breath. He pulls off Harry with a gasp, gulping in air for a moment before taking him back in his mouth. His lips are stretched and his jaw aches and there’s a muscle in his neck that’s protesting with each up and down motion that he does, but Louis doesn’t want to stop, not when Harry’s moaning and whining above him, arms straining against his desire to touch Louis, and Louis isn’t sure when he began rutting against the mattress, but he can’t seem to stop, seeking friction to relieve some of the lust he’s built-up because, holy shit, he’s having the time of his life.

He doesn’t try taking Harry in deeper than he’s comfortable with, not wanting to gag and throw up all over his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s bed, instead making up for it by giving it all he’s got. Remembering what Harry had done the first time he cups Harry’s balls in his free hand, humming happily when Harry lets out a moaned swear and his legs trash on the bed.

“Lou… Louis, pull off. I’m close,” Harry commands and Louis glances up at him, his brows knitting. “Shit, fuck, no, don’t look at me like that, fuck, I’m going to—” Harry throws his head back, eyes on the ceiling, before he continues, “I’m not coming in your mouth, babe, not the first time.”

Louis realises that if Harry hadn’t said he wouldn’t touch, he’d be pulling Louis off right now and he’s a tad sad that he won’t get his hair pulled – who is he?! – but he obeys and pulls off, using both hands instead.

Harry comes with a grunt, the muscles in his stomach contracting and having spasms as he spills over Louis’ hands and himself, his back arched off the bed and his head thrown back, mouth hanging open and looking like sex personified. Without stopping to think, Louis scrambles to go straddle Harry’s thighs and he begins tugging at his painfully hard cock, only needing a few seconds to come as well, his come joining Harry’s on his stomach, painting it with stripes of white.

Collapsing down next to Harry, Louis nuzzles his neck, unable to stop smiling. Louis extends a hand to dip the tip of his finger in the come cooling off on Harry’s skin, licking it tentatively. He frowns at the taste and Harry laughs.

“Weird, eh?”

Louis shrugs with a hum and lifts his chin to kiss under Harry’s jaw, nipping it lightly. “I’ll go get a washcloth, don’t move, darling.”

“No need,” Harry replies, reaching over the edge of the bed for a box of tissues. “These will do for now. Don’t leave me, you’re warm.”

While Harry cleans himself, Louis slips under the duvet, sparing a thought to how far he’s come since the last time he was in Harry’s bed. As soon as Harry settles down and shuts the light, Louis curls up into his side, resting his head on his chest.

“So, how was I?” he asks, kissing Harry’s skin.

Harry wraps his arms around him. “You’re a natural. It was amazing.”

“Born to suck cock, what a destiny,” Louis deadpans, grinning when Harry bursts out laughing. He presses his ear to his chest to hear the rumbles in his ribcage. “I liked doing it.”

“Yeah? You know how to talk to boys, Lou.” Harry laughs again, running his hand down Louis’ back.

Louis slaps his chest for good measure, and then lets out a happy sigh. “What are we doing tomorrow?”

“Oh, it’s right! I’ve got you all for myself all weekend!” Harry scratches Louis’ back and Louis hums, nuzzling Harry’s chest. “We’ll figure it out in the morning.”

Louis nods, his eyes getting heavier. “Can you make me pancakes tomorrow?”

“Duh,” Harry replies and Louis doesn’t need to look to know he’s rolling his eyes.

With a final kiss to Harry’s chest, Louis gives in to sleep, letting Harry’s heartbeat lull him.

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