here there be louis tomlinson.
For A While

For A While | Harry/Louis | ~17k | Leeds AU — Harry’s in a boy band and he just wants the perfect everything, including the perfect Leeds weekend; he meets Louis.

There are 12 or so tents already propped up in the immediate area when Harry and the boys arrive only a few minutes past nine. It’s not too bad, not for coming on Friday morning, and though Harry would have preferred if they’d gotten here Thursday, interviews and everything else celebrity-related pushed their arrival to today. No matter.

He can’t remember the last time he set up a tent, can’t remember his last real outdoor adventure that didn’t actually amount to anything more than a night in his stepfather’s bungalow. But he’s so hopped up on excitement and caffeine from an early morning energy drink that he’s willing to try it on his own, even if it means having a shoddy excuse for shelter later tonight. 

He’s easily distracted, though — diverting his attention from the task at hand whenever girls walk by, pointing and simpering none too subtly. The fans are at the heart of everything, really, and Harry knows that. One Direction wouldn’t be One Direction without their support, so who can blame him for wanting to appreciate them appropriately? 

Sometimes, he wonders if he’s the only one in the band who’s still as interested in this dynamic of their fame as he is. It’s not that the other boys aren’t thankful for their amazing year because, really, they are, it’s just — Liam’s got Danielle, Zayn’s got more X Factor contestants than he can handle, and Niall is just Niall so he’s just never an issue. 

But Harry hasn’t gotten tired of the screaming crowds, of the groups of people stationed diligently outside hotels, his flat and even his family home (though Gemma’s not too fond of that, not if her tweets are anything to go by). He’s still infatuated with the simple notion of signing his autograph, so much so that he never goes outside without a Sharpie on hand, just in case the situation calls for it. 

He thinks it might be because he’s the youngest, but he’s happy and on top of the world with his best mates and so, so happy to be living the life that boys like him don’t normally get to live that flirting shamelessly with a few girls (or boys, whatever he’s feeling) here or there shouldn’t really matter in the long run. 

“Oi, keep it in your pants, Hazza!” Zayn snorts from where he’s setting up his and Niall’s tent, always prepared to take the piss when it comes to Harry. “Stop ogling!” 

“Ha, ha,” Harry replies, feeling his cheeks flush when the girls laugh from overhearing. And once they’ve walked away, he adds, “I wasn’t ogling.” 

Zayn rolls his eyes and returns to his tent — somehow already standing and looking sturdier than Harry’s could ever hope to be — while Liam and Niall look on sympathetically. 

“Need some help?” Niall offers, walking over from the cooler of food while Liam finishes with the tent he and Danielle will be sharing once she arrives later this afternoon. “Zayn’s more than capable and you’re — you’re a mess.” 

Harry should feel insulted, but he can’t bring himself to care when Niall is willingly taking the poles and tarp from his hands. So he grabs a cold beer from the icebox and steps out of Niall’s way long enough that his tent is standing up within ten minutes, even with Zayn squawking at the Irish boy for being a useless tent-mate. 

“What’ll we be doing then?” Harry asks, more alive than someone running on a few hours of sleep has any right to be. “Grimmy and the others won’t be getting here until later…they have stuff to do.” He likes Nick, finds him really fun. Leeds will be fun. 

Liam unfolds a chair and settles into it like he has aches when all he really did was drive up here. “Dunno. It’s early yet.” 

“And it’ll be those weird bands first,” Zayn chimes in, dropping into a similar chair. Niall is unpacking the car, loading his guitar into their shared tent. 

“Hey,” Harry says, folding his arms. “I like those weird bands. I’d like to go.” 

Zayn shrugs. “That’s on you, mate. We could kick the football around while we wait?” 

Harry quirks an eyebrow. “I might embarrass you again.” 

But Zayn rises to Harry’s threat, standing up with fists on his hips and his mocha-colored skin somehow glinting in the sunlight. “Niall, get out here! You’re on my team! Liam, you’re on Harry’s.” 

Liam groans, muttering something about having to make sure everything is set up properly before they start fooling around. But Harry smirks; he plans on being drunk within the hour and Liam or not, he plans on having Zayn and Niall suffer the full extent of his football prowess. 

Within minutes, he’s swiping his leg and sending the ball flying into the gap between Zayn and Niall, yipping and gloating when they almost collide in an attempt to block. They glower but not very threateningly; they give as good as they get and aim for spaces between Harry and Liam, high-fiving when Harry nearly trips on himself to kick the ball back. Even Liam can’t help from laughing, not when doing so at Harry’s expense seems to be a favorite band pastime. 

But Harry’s so high on the moment, so high on the fact that he’s here at Leeds with his boys and surrounded by people that know him or at least know of him that he wouldn’t mind if they laughed at him every day for the rest of his life. It’s not a big deal, not when life is this amazing. 

He’s on his third beer and he’s going for the ball when he suddenly slams into another body that wasn’t there before. 

“What the —?” He rubs at the blooming pain in his shoulder and for a moment, he wonders if he’s barreled into an innocent girl who just wanted a picture or something. But when he hears slurred laughter that’s decidedly male, he realizes he’s wrong. 

“Tommo!” 

Harry blinks and when his vision comes back into focus, he takes note of the kid standing — no, wobbling — in front of him and looking very much like he hadn’t even registered running into Harry in the first place. He’s wearing red jeans and a shirt with mysterious wet stains along the front. And it’s not even midday but he’s clearly very, very drunk. 

“Lou—is!” 

The kid — this must be Tommo, Harry thinks, or is it Louis? — spins in a half-circle toward the voice calling his name, which Harry assumes to be the very panicked boy emerging from the clearing with Harry’s ball tucked under his arm. 

“Stan!” The drunken boy is grinning from ear to ear, his arms outstretched toward the sky. Then his arms drop as his brows constrict in concern. “This isn’t the stage, is it?” 

Christ, Lou, what the fuck?” The guy that must be Stan is finally looking over at Harry and his eyes widen in half apology, half amazement. “Shit, you’re—” 

“Okay,” Harry graciously finishes for him. He looks over at Louis, who’s slinging an arm over Stan’s shoulder and breathing on his neck. “Is he okay, though?” 

Stan shrugs Louis off, grimacing. Louis seems unimpressed, but beams at Harry when they make eye contact. 

“He will be,” Stan says, none too pleased. “But no, you’re that guy. The one in the band. His sisters listen to you guys.” He points over at Louis. 

Harry can’t help the grin that tugs at his lips, hopes that it doesn’t come off as smug as it feels. “Really? They here?” 

Louis laughs and Stan only scoffs, saying, “They’re not old enough to be here, really. Listen.” He hands over the ball as he looks over Harry’s shoulder, where the rest of the boys are bound to be watching with curious eyes. “Sorry to have bothered you. And sorry for him. He’d say sorry himself, but he’ll sober up in a few hours yet.” 

Harry gives Louis an appraising look. He’s objectively attractive, more so with his drunken glow and even with the sloppy, lilting grin plastered on his face. Louis is even looking back at Harry, albeit through the messy fringe falling haphazardly over his glassy eyes. The whole thing is enough of an entertaining distraction. 

“‘S fine,” Harry says, turning back to Stan. “I’m not about to begrudge somebody a good time.” 

Stan stares at Harry a little bit like he’s surprised. But then he’s smiling with gratitude and pulling Louis in close by the arm. The other boy definitely reeks of beer now that he’s standing closer, but he’s still smiling dopily at Harry and Harry definitely appreciates the attention. 

“Well, cheers,” Stan says, offering a salute. “We’ll be off now, before I do something stupid like ask for your autograph.” 

And before Harry can even dig into his pocket for the Sharpie that’s probably there, Stan is dragging Louis back to the crowd of people setting up camp across the way. Before Harry turns away, he catches a glimpse of Louis waving at him. 

"Bye, bye!" Louis calls out, grunting when Stan smacks him across the head.

Yeah, Harry really loves his life. 

“Everything okay?” Niall asks, crowding Harry’s side. 

Harry nods. “Definitely. Let’s get drunk, shall we?” 

***

Harry’s never really been in a relationship, not one that really counts, anyway. 

Friends from back home always tease him, always tell him that he can pretty much get with anyone now that he’s “remotely interesting,” as they put it. And that might hold true for someone like Zayn, but it’s never really been a thing for Harry. 

He likes people — loves them, really, especially new people. They’re bright, shiny, and fascinating, like everything else about his life lately. 

But when it comes to romance or whatever else one might call all of that, Harry’s relatively more conservative. 

He thinks that maybe he’s just perpetually stunted at 16-years-old, but he can’t find it in himself to ever really do anything without any type of commitment. He’s had sex, sure, but that was before The X Factor and only a couple times with a girl he thought he’d loved, maybe. But that didn’t come out to much and since then, there’ve been hand jobs and blowjobs here and there, but nothing more. No real attachment, at least. 

It’s that same kind of old-fashioned thinking that has Harry just the slightest bit mournful at Leeds. 

He tried explaining it to the boys once, back when they asked why he didn’t want to go to fest with Gemma the year before. But he’s never really been able to articulate the meaning, the significance he’s assigned a music festival that really should, for all intents and purposes, be very insignificant.   

But… 

Harry loves music. Loves it so much that it drew him out of that bakery in Holmes Chapel and into that long queue for X Factor auditions. Loves it so much that he can appreciate the pop-driven, radio-friendly fare that he’s built a career on and still sing the obscure songs from freaky bands that almost know one else knows about. 

He’s always wanted to come to Leeds with someone that could love those bands with him, someone that knew the lyrics the same way he did, someone he could hold from behind during one of his favorite songs. That was why, as nice as it was for Gemma to invite him, he just couldn’t. Not with his sister. 

It’s not like anything has changed this year, but the boys had really wanted to go and it didn’t make sense for them to go without him. And because he didn’t want to be the reason that they didn’t go (because, really, that would have been so stupid), he gave in and tucked that sort of wishful thinking aside. 

Now that they’re walking around the area, going from band to band, Harry can kind of see the silliness in his grand plan; with his luck, he wouldn’t have gone until his mid-20’s or later. At least now, he’s with his brothers. 

That’s just about as good.

It’s late afternoon when they’re walking back from some band he can’t remember the name of but he really liked anyway (“I didn’t like them, I don’t think,” Zayn had said, to which Harry sighed, “Well, what’s new?”). They only get stopped three or four times on the way back by some fans, and Harry makes sure to smile his brightest for the pictures they take.

It’s half-heartedly spitting rain and the first thing he wants to do when he gets back is slip out of his wet socks and into a pair of boots, maybe even a jacket. His stomach grumbles a little, and he looks around for somewhere nearby to get food. Their group has expanded to include Danielle, who’s trailing behind with her arm looped around Liam’s. 

Harry definitely doesn’t feel the slightest pang of jealousy when he sees how happy they are. 

So he slings his arm around Niall’s neck, wondering in the back of his mind why he isn’t completely wasted yet. 

“Hey, Nialler.” 

Niall steps in time with Harry. “Alright, Hazza?”

“You’d date me, wouldn’t you?” 

Niall snorts and Zayn frowns, overhearing. “Not interested in me, then?” 

Harry gives this a moment of consideration, glancing over at the other boy. “Nah, your hair’s too tall.” Then he sticks out his tongue, just for good measure. 

“Twat,” Zayn mutters, but he’s smiling. 

He turns his attention back to Niall. “What do you say, Nialler? I can cook, and you love food.” 

Niall’s eyes twinkle at the mere prospect of food. “True. I’d date you regardless, though. You’re bloody adorable, you bastard.” He plants a messy open-mouthed kiss on Harry’s cheek, making him squirm and crow out in surprise. 

“And my music taste isn’t, like, freaky, or anything,” he asks a little quieter once they’ve walked around a little more. “Is it?” 

“Nah, Haz. You’re perfect.” 

Harry nods, dropping his arm from around Niall and not missing the tone in the other boy’s voice that seems to say what’s the matter with you, we’re at Leeds, be happy. Even after having spent virtually every day of the past year with these boys, he’s still surprised by how finely attuned they are to his thoughts, his emotions. It’s mostly amazing, if not disconcerting sometimes. 

He fiddles with the bracelets around his wrist, the Leeds one in particular, and swipes his fingers at the sweaty dampness beneath the bands. Niall’s right; mostly everything about this weekend is perfect, so why sully it with melodramatic thoughts of eluded romance? 

He spares a brief moment of consideration for the otherwise cooling weather when he hears Zayn oomph from behind him, followed by a resounding “What the fuck?” 

When Harry wheels around, he sees Zayn in fighting stance with his hands clenched into fists at his sides. He’s glowering at another guy — he’s around their age, from the looks of it, maybe a year or two older — who’s got his arm wrapped around a girl half his size. Liam is stepping between them, obviously trying to keep some distance. 

“Oi, what’s going on here?” Niall marches up to Zayn’s side, defensively. 

“He slammed into me,” Zayn spits, and it’s obvious from the otherwise empty space around them that it was deliberate. “What the fuck?” 

“Zayn — ” Liam tries, his eyes flicking between the two of them before darting to Danielle, who’s standing off worriedly to the side. 

“You’re that fucking fag band,” the other guy sneers. And while his girlfriend giggles, Harry feels his stomach drop. “Aren’t you? You fucking are!” 

He’s obviously drunk and he’s looking at all of them with a challenge in his eyes, and Harry wonders how something so similar could have happened this morning with such a different outcome. He wants to involve himself, wants to help Zayn defend the rest of the boys, but he’s rooted to the spot. 

“Shut the fuck up,” Zayn warns, and Harry wonders how much Zayn has had to drink just as he notices the veins pop in his right arm. 

“You’re shit. They’re shit, aren’t they?” the drunken guy says, turning to his girlfriend for confirmation but she’s too pissed to even agree. He laughs. 

“Thanks for the opinion,” Liam responds coolly before turning to Zayn, pleading with his eyes. “Zayn, c’mon, please, it’s so not worth it — ” 

“What are you even doing here?” the guy continues over Liam’s voice, causing Niall’s ears to turn a violent shade of red. “Shouldn’t you be blowing Simon Cowell’s dick or something — ” 

Harry sees it before it’s about to happen, and somehow, it’s the only thing that can thaw him from where he’s been standing frozen. He rushes over and catches Zayn’s fist before it collides with the other guy’s face. Zayn is visibly surprised by the interference, but his would-be victim is unfazed. 

“Go away and leave us alone.” Harry wants to be more intimidating than how he must sound. “Now.” 

The other guy stares before breaking out into a smug grin, and Harry wants nothing more than to hit it off his face. 

“I’m out of here.” And after pulling on his girlfriend’s arm, they disappear into a passing knot of people. 

They’re silent for a time and all Harry can pay attention to is the heat in his face and the sound of a band playing somewhere in the distance. Liam is unreadable when Danielle tucks into his side, and Niall is blinking like he’s not all there. But Zayn is staring at Harry, and Harry can feel the intensity of it cutting into his skin. 

What?” he asks finally. He winces; they shouldn’t turn on each other. 

“What the hell, Harry?” Zayn is — he doesn’t seem as angry anymore, but he’s riding on some residual rage, and he’s looking over expectantly. 

Harry doesn’t want to fight, doesn’t want to face what just happened. He ignores the way the others are looking at him, too. 

“He — it wasn’t worth it.” Harry huffs a sigh. “It would’ve leaked and…” And I just want to have a good time, he wants to add, but it sounds stupid even in his head. 

“And?” 

Niall tugs on Zayn’s sleeve like he wants him to stop, but Zayn shrugs him off. 

“And it wasn’t worth it,” Harry repeats. He can’t explain himself quite articulately, but he didn’t want this, didn’t want the high to end. 

“He deserved it,” Zayn says, unimpressed. 

“I’m not saying he didn’t.” Harry sighs again, exasperated. “Can’t we just forget it?” 

"Fucking hell." Zayn pinches the bridge of his nose, screwing his eyes shut tightly. "Everything doesn’t — just because you have girls throwing themselves at you all the fucking time doesn’t change the fact that there are some assholes out there, and you can’t fucking keep ignoring them just because you want everything to be perfect all the goddamn time."

Harry’s stomach flip-flops pathetically. “Zayn — “

"You want everything to go your way all the time and you’re acting like a child." Zayn sighs miserably. "Whatever. I need a smoke."

Then he tears off from them, Niall hot on his heels. Harry looks over to Liam and Danielle helplessly, and they seem just as lost. 

“Did I do something wrong?” But even as he asks it, he feels the weekend slipping away from him. 

“Haz…” 

But Harry doesn’t want to hear whatever comforting falsities Liam has to offer him. He knows Zayn’s passionate, just as passionate as he is, but it’s still very different. And even though Zayn’s quiet, he’d rather confront things directly whereas Harry —

Harry doesn’t know how to deal with the reality beyond the hero worship and adoring fans, doesn’t know if he can. And he’s suddenly never felt younger than in this moment, fumbling and blindly groping for whatever wide-eyed expectations he’d had for the weekend. 

“I need…I’m going to…” He doesn’t even realize that he hasn’t finished his thought until he’s completely walked off in the opposite direction, undoubtedly leaving Liam and Danielle in stupefied silence.

But he doesn’t really want to think about that; he doesn’t really want to think about much of anything right now, quite honestly. He wants to be somewhere else. He’s at fucking Leeds, and his head is spinning and he just wants to be somewhere else. 

Harry’s feet are moving beneath him but it’s all aimless motion since he doesn’t know where to go, so he goes to their makeshift campsite; he’ll be alone there, at least. 

He does a decent job of keeping his head bowed down that no one stops him on his way. He hears the whispers once or twice, sees the double takes in his periphery, but he’s fast and determined enough that he gets to his tent without interruption. 

His thinking isn’t quite where it should be. He’s here and he knows he should wait for the other boys to come back so they don’t think he’s gone off and ditched them or something stupid like that. But there’s electricity or impatience or something jolting through his body and he doesn’t want to be in one place, can’t be here of all places right now. He wants to escape and he thinks it’s not too much to ask this weekend, so he steps into a pair of boots, shoves a beanie onto his mat of tangled hair, and stomps back outside with a jumper thrown over his shoulder. 

And if he grabs the rucksack hiding a bottle of whiskey from the boot of his car, then that’s his business. 

***

He hasn’t really had a chance to familiarize himself with the festival arena (already covered in a sparse layer of rubbish), nor does he really know which bands are playing when and where. So it isn’t all too surprising when he arrives at another clearing not even ten minutes later, lost and slightly crestfallen. 

The moon is already out when Harry looks up at the sky, and the horizon is a dusky sort of orange that means it’ll be dark soon. Music is still throbbing from everywhere, it seems, and yet he can’t find it in himself to just walk in a particular direction and feel okay about the whole thing. 

He knows he’s being immature, and that he’s probably doing an excellent job of justifying Zayn’s frustration by failing to confront the issue. Not everything is perfect all the time, he knows that. But while he’s here for the weekend and for however much time he can manage it, he’d like to pretend that it is. He’s young and hasty and mostly irresponsible and all he wants most in this moment is for everything to stay okay

That, and a hug maybe. A chill runs up Harry’s spine and he thinks, yeah, a hug might be nice

He’s still just standing there when he hears a group of people from off to the side, their whooping and hollering getting closer and closer the longer he fails to move. And he knows it’s too late when he finally distinguishes one voice from the rest of them. 

“Hey, is that — is that that Harry Styles guy again?” 

The commotion dies down for all of a fraction of a second before it picks up again, louder than before, and suddenly, people are crowding his space and Harry doesn’t know what to do with himself. 

“You look lost, mate.” 

Harry turns to the side and it’s that Stan kid again, this time a little rosier in the cheeks and wearing a haphazard grin that seems to say he’s having more fun than Harry has had all day. Well, someone should. 

“Er.” He feels stupid right now. “Not really. Maybe, yeah.” 

“Everyone!” Stan calls out, and Harry can’t help but duck his head. “This — is Harry.” 

There aren’t actually that many people, maybe around five or six of them, but they’re all screaming some variation of ‘Hi, Harry!’ and he wants nothing more than to change his name to something else, like Colin or Dave or Billy, even. But they’re all so happy and no one else around them is really paying attention, so he can’t seem to fault them. 

“Hi all,” he manages, clutching onto the strap of his rucksack dangling by his side. 

“Harry had the lovely pleasure of bumping into good old Tommo earlier,” Stan explains. “Didn’t you, Harry?” 

“Erm?” 

“Shit, did you really?”

The second voice is familiar, too, and it isn’t until the other boy steps out from behind two gawking girls that Harry even recognizes him, recognizes the nickname from earlier that afternoon. 

“You’re Tommo?” he asks in spite of himself, glancing once, twice, three times at the boy peering at him from behind caramel-colored fringe. He’s sporting a rucksack and still wearing those skinny red jeans, but this time with a gray zip-up appropriate for the cool weather. 

The other boy laughs. “Fair enough, seeing as I was so pissed out of my mind that I didn’t even remember running into you. Quite literally, apparently.” 

Harry offers an uncertain grin. 

“You can call me Louis,” he clarifies, beaming so hard at Harry that it looks like it might hurt. 

“Right. Louis.” Harry likes the name, plans to remember it this time, even. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Stan interrupts, clapping Louis hard on the back. Harry looks around and notices that the others have dispersed and continued their migration elsewhere. “Can we eat now, though? I’m fucking starving. Harry, you can come if you want.” 

“Uh.” For whatever reason, Harry looks to Louis first, like he’ll tell him what to do. 

But Louis is still smiling and shrugs. “Yeah, come with.” 

“Excellent!” And then Stan is running off, yelling and making inappropriate passes at the girls in their group in his not-so-sober state. Harry can’t help but be utterly amused. 

“Right,” Louis says, nodding quickly. “Sorry about that. Sorry about everything, really. About this morning and about — well, we don’t really have food. Just loads of greasy shit that isn’t really suitable for a meal. I was going to try for one of the canteens actually, if you wanted to join.” 

Somehow, it’s the best offer Harry’s had all day, and from a stranger no less. 

“Yeah, okay.” 

“Aces.” And Louis is smiling again, and it makes Harry…well, it makes him something. 

They walk in silence — comfortable silence, Harry notes meaningfully, because that doesn’t happen with people he’s known for all of five minutes — for a while, letting the general white noise of the music festival cloud their senses. He’s quite thankful to be walking toward food, especially now that his stomach is grumbling rather obnoxiously. 

“Really though,” Louis says suddenly, hand on the back of his neck. “Sorry about this morning. That wasn’t, ah, my finest moment. I spent the whole day sleeping it off, if that makes it better.” 

Harry chuckles, remembering their brief exchange. “‘S okay, I promise. I’ve seen worse.” 

“You’ve seen other people drunk as fuck, bumping into international pop stars? Really?” 

Harry snorts, surprising Louis and himself. “Christ, I — not international.” 

And Louis barks out in laughter at that, for whatever reason. It makes Harry’s belly all warm. 

“All right. Not international then,” he amends. “But soon enough. It’s only a matter of time.” 

Harry doesn’t reply then, just looks down at the ground and smiles privately to himself. 

“This isn’t weird, is it?” Louis sounds very worried all of a sudden. 

“What?”

“Like, you walking with me or whatever? I’m not holding you up, am I? You have — I mean, you’ve got the others and whatever and I’m not — I can get food on my own, or whatever. It’s just, yeah. Pop star, you know,” he adds, waving his hand in front of him as if to make a point. 

Harry bites down on his lip. He thinks of Zayn, Liam, and Niall and the others, like Danielle and Nick and that whole group of friends probably gathered at their campsite. Normally, he’d feel even the slightest bit of jealousy at missing out on time with them. 

But that’s not what he needs right now. He needs something else, something more. And this might not be it, probably isn’t it, but it’s something different and he’s going to take it.

“No,” he says. “Not weird, no.” 

“Cool.” And if Louis sounds relieved, Harry pretends not to notice. 

They keep walking, passing small groups of people and one or two canteens that have already closed down for the night, no doubt short on supplies. For the first time in who knows how long — if ever —, Harry keeps his gaze low and on the stretch of earth in front of him. He thinks he might look a little like a turtle with his neck dipped down and his shoulders hunched up to his ears.

Louis notices immediately, and tries repressing a laugh when he asks, “Everything okay?” 

“Yeah,” Harry says half-heartedly. He doesn’t know how to answer honestly without sounding completely full of himself. ‘Oh, sorry, didn’t want anyone to notice me.’ It’s never been a problem before and it’s never been a judgment he’s given much thought to, but for whatever reason, it’s a judgment he doesn’t want Louis to make. 

But he seems to understand anyway, most likely from the way Harry actually almost topples over in terror when he hears one of their songs blasting from a nearby campsite. Louis’ eyes peer over at him knowingly. 

“Ah. Gotcha.” It sounds innocent enough, understanding even. But Harry wants to choke.

“Sorry, I — ” 

“No, it’s totally fine! I completely understand. Well.” He pauses, rolling his eyes a little. “Not really. But I get it. Listen, that stand over there looks open. D’you want to wait here while I get us hot dogs? Or you can help yourself to a tree branch and hide there for the time being, if you fancy.” 

Harry groans at the seriousness in Louis’ voice, digging his hands into his pockets. But he’s a little reassured to see that Louis is smiling at him. 

“Really,” Louis emphasizes. 

“Shit, sorry, yeah, if you don’t mind,” Harry says, frowning. 

“Wouldn’t have offered if I did,” Louis replies, fist over his heart. 

Harry flips his rucksack onto his chest and starts digging through it. “Here, let me give you…wait…fuck…” Of fucking course he’s left his wallet in the tent.

“Yeah?”

“I — shit, left my wallet. Just go ahead — ” 

“No,” Louis cuts in. “I’ll get it.” 

“Louis — ” 

Harry.” And it’s the first time that Louis has really said his name; he’s fond of it. “I’ve got it. Please, just let me. I rarely ever get to look this cool. It’s a big moment for me. Major, really.” 

Harry would laugh if it weren’t for the earnestness in Louis’ sea blue eyes. He has the briefest thought of getting lost in them. 

He would protest some more, but he’s kind of really hungry. 

“Fine,” he concedes, and he can’t help but grin at the way Louis’ entire face picks up. “I’ll be over here. Or in a bush, somewhere.” 

“Don’t stray too far,” Louis says before leaving.

Harry has to bite down on the insides of his cheeks to keep from smiling, even though there’s no one around that’ll call him out for it. He’s only been with Louis for twenty minutes and he can already feel the weekend’s redemption, can already feel himself drifting further and further away from depending on the bottle of alcohol tucked in his rucksack. 

Still, he figures that now is as good a time as any to check on his mobile, if only to see what kind of wrath Zayn might have sent his way, what kind of panicked concern Liam might have relayed, and what kind of food Niall might have demanded of him. 

It’s not too bad when he sees the screen. Only three missed calls and a text from Liam predictably saying: wer r u? All in all, nothing to worry about. 

“Didn’t know what you’d want on your hot dog,” Louis says, appearing at Harry’s side just as soon as he’s put his mobile away. “So I did the sensible thing and went with ketchup and mustard. If you hate it…well, fuck off.”

Harry stifles a laugh and just grabs the hot dog from Louis, tearing a bite into it like it’s the first bit of food he’s had in weeks. 

“Perfect,” he says with a mouthful of food.

Louis’ eyes gleam. “Excellent.” He takes a bite and chews messily. “What now?” 

Harry shrugs. He doesn’t really know what band he could see right now, doesn’t even know what bands Louis might like. Then he catches himself, figuring it might be a little presumptuous to think that Louis might accompany him. But then again, he doesn’t know why anything would necessarily have to change once they’ve finished their food. 

“I dunno,” he admits. “I’m a bit knackered. But I also want to get drunk. Does that make sense?” 

Louis’ face lights up with newfound mischief, and Harry thinks it’s a suitable look for him. 

“What?” he asks, curious. 

Louis tosses his foil wrapper in the nearest litter bin, and then pats his rucksack with a twinkle in his eye. 

“Want to have some fun?”

***

They don’t touch Harry’s whiskey, if only because Louis has enough cans of beer and other goods in his rucksack to last them the rest of the night. 

Louis does this thing where he pulls Harry’s hood redundantly over his beanie and even ties the pull strings together in a neat little bow beneath his chin. And though he’s initially skeptical about the sunglasses that Louis pulls out of his bag, Harry figures he looks silly enough and puts them on, completing his look for sure-fire anonymity. 

“I don’t even recognize you,” Louis declares proudly.

“It’s dark,” Harry says lamely.

“No shit, you’re wearing sunglasses,” Louis deadpans, but he sounds amused nonetheless. “It’s for your well-being, Curly.” 

Harry mutters something under his breath, but Louis just chuckles and draws him into the open, looking helplessly foolish. 

Regardless, it’s effective enough that they can walk around for the next hour or so, drifting wherever their feet (or streams of people) might lead them. Harry doesn’t know why he didn’t think of this earlier when he’d been looking for a place to end up, doesn’t know why he didn’t just throw himself into his surroundings and hope for the best. 

Then again, he probably wouldn’t have met Louis a second time around, and he doesn’t really like how that sits with him. 

They wander into a small ring of people gathered around a lantern, two of them playing their guitars while the others sing along. It reminds Harry of Niall for a moment, and he briefly wonders what they might be doing right now. But then Louis hands him another beer and just smiles at him in a way that crinkles the corners of his eyes, and Harry thinks that whatever they’re doing, it can’t possibly compare to this. 

No one pays Harry any attention, or at least, not beyond a normal capacity. Everyone is here to drink and shoot some shit, but most importantly, they’re here for the music. And somehow, Harry feels like he’s having another experience entirely just by being here undetected — singing when everyone else sings and drinking when everyone else drinks. And when they break into a rousing chorus of One Direction’s first single, Louis is the only one to notice the way Harry’s breath hitches in amazement. 

He’s also the only one to wrap an arm around his shoulders in some wordless notion of encouragement or pride or something else that makes Harry’s stomach flip flop inside him. 

“This is so much fun,” Harry whispers later, leaning in and breathing hot air onto Louis’ ear. 

Louis shivers at the sensation but smiles in a sated kind of way. “Leeds is always fun,” he explains matter-of-factly. 

Harry turns his attention to the game of football in front of them; they don’t know his name and he doesn’t know their name, but he’s cheering for all of them anyway. 

“First time.” 

Louis turns to him, and Harry can see something like awe in his expression. Or maybe it’s just disbelief at how utterly sheltered Harry is, especially by normal pop star standards. 

“Hmm.” 

Louis licks his lips. Then he digs into his rucksack, pulling out two more beers. Harry’s pretty sure he can already feel it, can already feel the heat that’s crowding his collar and creeping into his cheeks. It’s a dizzying kind of happiness, but sitting this close to the boy he hasn’t really known all that long, he wonders how much alcohol has to do with that. 

The older boy hands him a can. “Cheers to that, then. First time at Leeds…you’re in for a treat, pop star.” 

Louis manages to down half his can in one swallow, and Harry takes the opportunity to kind of just watch.

***

Not even thirty minutes later, they peel off from their new group of friends (“See you tomorrow!” some scream, and Louis laughs and salutes them as they walk away) and into the surrounding darkness. It never really gets quiet here, Harry figures, regardless of time of day. 

Or maybe that’s just the slight pounding of his head and the buzzing in his ears from all the alcohol he’s had to consume in the last hour, give or take. So if he needs to loop his arm around Louis’ to keep himself upright, then that’s what he does. Louis just makes a content little noise in the back of his throat and leans into Harry as they walk. 

“First night meeting your standards?” Louis asks. 

Harry thinks about how he’s always wanted to come here with someone important, always wanted to hold them close while watching one of his favorite bands. It probably won’t happen, but…he’s having fun as it is. 

“More or less,” he says, just to be a little shit. 

But Louis hums and replies, “Good. That’s what I like to hear.” 

Harry has lost track of where they are, but he’s roamed around with Louis long enough to know that they’re not really heading in the direction of a campsite — neither one of theirs. 

“Where are we going?” 

“Thought we could walk around for a while. Are you opposed?” 

Harry doesn’t care; he rests his head on Louis’ shoulder. It should be more difficult than it really is, given the slight height difference. But they seem to fit anyway. 

“No, not at all.” 

“Nice.” 

Harry realizes he’s still wearing Louis’ sunglasses and he can’t see for shit, but with Louis guiding him, he figures it’s not really a problem. 

“Harry?” 

“Yeah?” 

“What happened with your friends? Or, your band, rather.” 

Harry swallows. “What do you mean?” 

“I mean…you’re kind of just here with me, yeah? I’m guessing that’s not how you expected your evening to go.” 

“Who says?” 

Louis laughs and it rumbles from deep inside his chest. “A valiant attempt at being smooth. But really, anything I should be worried about? Have they abandoned you? Have you abandoned them? Oh my god, have you murdered them and am I technically an accomplice now?” 

Harry wants to tell Louis that he doesn’t have to worry about anything, but he’s too busy turning his face into Louis’ shoulder and just giggling there. 

“C’mon, Curly. What gives?” 

“‘M not curly,” Harry mumbles. “Not really anymore.” 

“Still pretty curly,” Louis says casually. They stop walking, and when Harry peels the sunglasses off and looks around, he notices that they’ve managed to find a deserted clearing, concealed from everywhere else by the darkness. He wonders if they’re allowed to be here. 

Louis sighs, but he lets Harry stay at his side. “You don’t, like, have to tell me anything. I was just wondering. ‘S not every day that a normal lad like me gets to spend some time with a pop star like you, innit?” 

Harry winces at this use of ‘pop star,’ almost like it sets him apart from Louis and everything else they’ve done that night. Maybe it does, but he doesn’t want to think about that. Instead, all he can think about is the overwhelming warmth rushing to his head, and shit, he just needs to lie down. 

He shrugs, holding onto Louis even tighter. He’s glad that they’re not looking each other eye-to-eye. 

“Had a rough day, I suppose,” he explains, voice low. “Just — people can be mean, you know? And I just want everything to be perfect and great and fun and it’s not all the time, and…” He sniffles, and how embarrassing is that? 

“Hey.” Louis pulls out of Harry’s grasp, only to pull him into a tight embrace. “Shouldn’t have asked. Forget I did.” 

Harry thinks he might need a shower, but only because Louis somehow still smells nice and he can’t even imagine what he must smell like right now. But it’s not stopping Louis from holding him closely, fingers threading through waves of brown hair. It should be weird, but it isn’t. 

“It’s fine,” Harry mutters into Louis’ neck. 

“We’re not going to talk about it,” Louis decides firmly. “We’ll just — we’ll be perfect and great and fun, alright? We will.” 

Harry nods and finally pulls away, his head spinning. 

Louis takes one good look at Harry, his blue eyes digging deep. 

“Let’s get back to the site, yeah?” 

Harry doesn’t miss the invite there, so he grabs onto Louis and follows him back. 

When they get there, it’s only Stan and another girl sitting beside a lantern. They’re talking, and Stan looks a little more than determined. 

“Back, then?” Stan looks at Harry. “You, too.” 

Harry grumbles his greetings. 

“Harry’s not feeling well,” Louis says quickly, not really bothering to stop. “So he’s staying with us. Piss off for the night, Stanley.” 

“Oi, that’s my tent, too!” 

“Not tonight,” Louis says, unzipping the canvas. “Kip with Sara tonight. She won’t mind.” 

Harry doesn’t see Stan’s reaction, but he hears him huff a little in surprise, followed by a healthy dose of laughter from the girl he assumes is Sara, and he figures Stan probably isn’t all too disappointed by the change in arrangements. He shucks his boots off before falling into the tent, a little easier than usual with the newfound wobbliness in his legs. 

He notices a flashlight turn on from Louis’ side of the tent, just enough to illuminate the second sleeping bag he figures he’ll be stealing from Stan tonight. 

“He won’t mind?” he asks, eyes wide and seeking Louis in the dark. 

“He won’t mind,” Louis replies, and Harry is more than a little surprised to find that the other boy has taken his shirt off. And he attempts his best to hide his disappointment when he pulls a new one on. “You’re fine, Hazza.” 

The nickname is all the encouragement Harry needs, so he slips into the sleeping bag and gets comfortable. He’s got an air mattress in his tent back with the boys, but this somehow feels more authentic and more in line with the kind of weekend he’d been hoping for. Drowsiness immediately clouds his periphery, and he could be sleeping in a ditch somewhere and still be comfortable, he’s so tired. 

“I don’t know what bands to see tomorrow,” Louis admits quietly. “But all I can think about is getting some fish and chips for lunch.”

Harry snorts. “We’re at Leeds and all you can think about is the food?” 

“‘M hungry. Whatever.” 

Harry sighs happily. “We can figure it out tomorrow.” 

“Okay. We should bring a flask, too. Be more subtle.” 

“Have you got one?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Excellent.” 

“Harry?” 

“Yeah?” His head feels heavy, so he closes his eyes. 

There’s a pause, wherein only the distant sounds of people chanting and singing and bands playing at unholy hours can be heard. But Louis’ breathing is loudest of all. 

“D’you reckon you’re drunk?” 

Harry doesn’t really have to think about that one. “Yeah. Why?” 

“Okay.” 

And there’s a shuffling noise and not much else Harry can distinguish in the darkness until he feels a puff of warm air just above him before soft, wet lips are on his. 

This — this is really nice, even though it’s dark and at an awkward angle and Harry’s so tired he could fall asleep at any moment. But Louis’ lips offer the kind of encouragement and companionship that Harry needs right now, so he kisses back and takes and takes and takes. 

One of Louis’ hands finds its way to Harry’s cheek, and Harry’s only glad that it’s dark right now, otherwise Louis would see just how brilliantly scarlet he must be right now. Everything else around him is a muffled, hazy sea of sense, but his attention is narrowed clearly to where it matters, where Louis’ lips are moving against his. 

But then Louis is pulling away, kissing the corner of Harry’s mouth and his chin once before rolling off to his side of the tent. They’re both breathing heavily. 

Harry wants to say something, but he can’t do much of anything at the moment. 

So when Louis says, “Goodnight, Harry,” he says mm-hmm, and he can barely register Louis’ gentle laughter before sleep comes for him.

***

When Harry wakes up the next morning, it’s to the muffled sound of a Script song he knows word for word. He can barely register the stiffness in his lower back when he remembers yesterday — last night, specifically, and how it’s led to him waking up now, slightly sore and decidedly not on his air mattress. 

His mouth feels fuzzy in the way it only ever feels after a night of drinking, and when he rolls over, he sees Louis lying down on the opposite side of the tent with earphones in, legs crossed, and one foot bobbing to the beat of the song. It takes another second before he realizes that Louis is the one listening to the Script song. 

He tries for ‘good morning,’ but what comes out is “Mmmmpf.” 

But somehow, Louis hears, and his eyes widen in amusement when he sees Harry stirring. 

“Hazza!” He sits up and pulls his earphones out. “Morning, sleepy.” 

Harry blinks. Louis looks…well, he looks clean, and it makes Harry slightly envious. He feels a mess, head heavy and mouth scratchy, and Louis looks like he’s had an entire day already. And when Harry sees a carton of food near the head of his sleeping bag, he deduces as much. 

“Wozzat?” he grumbles, collapsing back onto the sleeping bag and bringing his forearm across his eyes; it’s too bright, even through the canvas of the tent. 

Louis laughs and Harry can hear him moving closer before he feels a light kiss on his forehead that sends butterflies coursing through his body. He screws his eyes shut even tighter under his arm. 

“Breakfast,” Louis explains simply, tugging on Harry’s arm and lifting it off his face. “C’mon. I’ve had a shower already, so why don’t you brush your teeth and whatever and have some food and then we can get on our way?” 

Harry groans; it’s more than he can process right now. Besides, does anyone actually shower at Leeds? He vaguely remembers the baby wipes thrown into the boot of his car.

“Mm haven’t got clothes. Or a toothbrush.” 

“You can wear some of mine,” Louis offers easily. “It’ll help with the whole secret pop star thing. And…just use my toothbrush. Whatever.” 

Harry blinks awake at that. “What?” 

Louis shrugs, unfazed by the look of confusion on Harry’s face. “I’m not going to talk to you if you’re smelly all day. Besides, it’ll be cute!” 

“Cute?” 

“Cute,” Louis agrees with a quick nod. “Like, sharing a toothbrush and whatnot. I’ll throw it away later, if you want, and swipe an extra one from Stan if I can manage it. But you need to brush your teeth, Hazza. Up and away you go, c’mon.” 

Before Harry knows what’s happening, he’s being pushed into the bright summer daylight with Louis’ toothbrush in one hand, shower toiletries in the other, and a towel and some of Louis’ clothes slung over his shoulder. And if the rest of Louis’ group seems surprised to see a member of One Direction stepping out into their campsite, they don’t show it. 

“Morning!” Stan calls from one of the folded chairs, Sara sitting on his lap. 

“Morning,” Harry greets with a smile, and he’s off to get ready.

When he gets back to the tent in one of Louis’ ratty striped shirts, Louis is sitting up on his sleeping bag, fiddling with his Leeds wristband. He grins when he sees Harry. 

“Was my toothbrush disgusting after all?” 

Harry merely shrugs, but he bites down on his lip to keep from smiling. He throws everything at Louis’ feet. “Thanks, mate.” 

“Any time.” 

They eat quickly, with Louis lunging for one of Harry’s sausage buns unexpectedly and causing both of them to fall into a fit of laughter that has Harry gasping and practically choking for air. They sit close to each other, knees bumping, and Harry remembers their kiss from last night all too well but if Louis isn’t saying anything about it, then he isn’t going to, either. 

“So, Harry,” Louis starts once he’s finished drinking some of his orange soda (“It’s like orange juice,” he explains when Harry tells him that soda isn’t appropriate for breakfast). 

Harry scrubs his mouth with the back of his hand. “Yeah?” 

“Two things. I’ve got two things.” 

He raises a brow. “Okay. What is it?” 

Louis sits up a little straighter with a serious expression on his face, and Harry can’t help but think that it’s at least a little adorable. 

“One. I think we should go undercover today, the full MI5. For the sake of your anonymous-ness, you know?” he adds when Harry stares at him perplexedly. “We’ll fit you with sunglasses, beanie and all, and I’ll…I dunno, I’ll put a part in my hair or something so no one can tell, yeah?” 

Harry can’t keep from laughing at the absurdity of it all. And when he stares down at his shirt — Louis’ shirt — he thinks he’s off to a good start already. “Only if we pretend we have handguns, too.” 

“They’re a must,” Louis says all too seriously. “Second thing…” 

“Yeah?” 

Louis gets all intense for a moment, like he’s having difficulty concentrating properly. 

“I think you should let me kiss you. Like, again. Today, I mean. All day, really.” 

That’s probably the last thing Harry plans on hearing. His brain gets all fuzzy and his mouth gets all dry, and he’s pretty sure Louis can tell.

“I mean,” Louis says a little flippantly, waving his hand. “We’ve already done it once, yeah? I rather liked it and like, it can be a weekend thing. It can be a Leeds thing.” 

When put like that, it makes sense. Perfect sense, really. And there’s hopefulness in Louis’ face that’s kind of irresistible. 

Harry glances downward, hoping that the blush high in his cheeks isn’t very noticeable. But when he looks up at Louis, who seems equally bashful and flushed, he can’t help but laugh. 

“You don’t have to,” Louis blurts out when Harry’s gone too long without speaking. “It’s just that, well, everyone else has already paired off? Even Stan, and I know that that was my doing, but — ”

“You’ll come with me to my favorite bands, then?” He doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into with this boy he’s known less than 24 hours. But somehow, it feels right. “I — would you?”

Louis blinks back curiously, but it doesn’t take long before he’s absolutely beaming. “You can set the agenda, I don’t care. I don’t have a favorite or anything, so we can see whatever bands you want to see. I’m just along for the ride, mate.” He pauses thoughtfully. “Oh, and I’ll protect you, I suppose. From all your crazed fans and what have you.”

And that’s kind of the best thing Harry’s heard. 

So he gets up on his knees and pulls Louis in by his shirtfront, crashing their lips together without any real finesse. They’re angled awkwardly and there’s still the initial wariness that comes from not really knowing each other, but it turns soft and brilliant and it’s surprisingly familiar already, and Louis just sighs happily into his mouth. 

“A Leeds thing,” Harry repeats when he pulls away, his forehead resting on Louis’. “I kind of like that.” 

“Thought you would,” Louis says a little breathlessly. “Ready to go?”

***

He doesn’t get stopped for pictures or autographs every five minutes, which is…weird, and decidedly unlike yesterday and every other day of his public life since this whole One Direction thing started. He sees Louis catch him peering out somewhat wistfully from behind his sunglasses, and the older boy laughs a little disbelievingly. 

“Is it weird for you, walking around with us commoners like this?” His eyes are twinkling and there’s a sly grin tugging at the corners of his lips. “Is it actually a physical need for you to sign your name onto something? That’s dog behavior, that is: marking your territory and whatnot.” 

“Piss off,” Harry retorts, but he’s smiling when he shoves Louis fondly in the arm. “It’s just…strange, all right? Haven’t had time to myself in a while.” 

Louis sidles up close to Harry so that their bodies are aligned as they walk. “Yeah, but you’re not actually by yourself, are you? I’m here, your number one fan.” 

Harry snorts. “You’re not a fan.” 

Louis shrugs. “Fan of you, I suppose.” He kisses Harry on the cheek and walks ahead, leaving the younger boy to blush in his wake. 

The first few artists they see aren’t anything particularly special: just some bands that Harry remembers from one place or another that he wants to see out of curiosity. They’re mostly loud and indistinguishable from the other, with only mildly catchy songs. 

Still, it’s better than if he were milling about with the boys, or even Gemma for that matter. He knows he’d have to deal with frustrating questions regarding his taste and apparent lack of sensibility, so it’s nice to be here with someone who doesn’t ask questions, but nods and hums along to the music instead. 

Louis is kind of great like that. 

He’s also kind of great in the sense that he’s pretty shameless about kissing Harry in public — like, really shameless. If he’s not kissing Harry’s jaw or cheek, then he’s attacking his lips at full force without any warning. It’s almost like a game, wondering when Louis will kiss him next. 

But whether he’s mildly rocking out to Royal Bangs or taking a picture with his phone or just walking, he’s never not surprised by the way Louis’ arm will snake around his waist and pull him in, greeting him with a smile and kissing him until all he can say is ‘Oh.’

They head back to the campsite around 3, only to grab crisps and a couple of beers each. Harry takes the opportunity to text Liam back, if only because he can practically see the other boy’s Concerned Eyebrows and he doesn’t want him to worry. Plus, it seems like the right thing to do. 

met someone, just hanging out x.

He looks at the message once, twice. It’s short and Liam won’t be satisfied with it but — whatever. He’s not like, leaving the band or anything drastic, so they can deal. Plus, Louis’ hands are on his waist and his lips on his shoulder, so he’s kind of busy right now.

When The Naked And Famous take the Radio 1 stage half an hour later, Harry is beside himself, so utterly awed that this is his life right now. Clouds are rolling in and he’s getting goosebumps along his arms, but thank god for Louis, because he’s yanking on Harry and jumping and twirling him around. He’s confused at first and a little bit embarrassed, but when they’re dancing like that, he figures there’s really no time to be cold. 

Maybe it’s post-performance high or the several beers that they’ve had to drink in the last hour and a half, but Louis is a lot of fun and all over the place. Harry doesn’t think he’s ever met a person quite like Louis before, because being with Louis is very much like flying a kite on a windy day: unexpected, kind of scary, but mostly just so goddamn exciting. 

He strikes up conversation with unsuspecting passersby, talking about the weather and that “horrible, horrible” band they’ve all just seen like it’s the most casual thing in the world. And Harry has to bite down hard on his lip whenever the older boy does something ridiculous, like pour too much vinegar on his fish and chips, or ask some poor girl for her bandana so he can tie it around his forehead instead. 

And Harry finally breaks into a fit of giggles when the girl hands it over, smiling and saying, “Goes better with your outfit, anyway.” 

Louis doesn’t let up with his whole secret agent thing either, and Harry’s more than willing to go along with it. He ducks when Louis tells him to duck, hides behind a canteen when Louis tells him to hide, and chugs beer when Louis tells him to chug (“Everyone else around is drunk,” he says manically. “You’ll never fit in if you’re sober, Curly!”). He’s pretty sure no one suspects anything of him, not in those sunglasses and that beanie anyway, and he’s pretty sure that no one’s even looking at him to begin with. 

But as the afternoon goes on and Louis gets louder and his eyes get narrower and crinklier, Harry doesn’t think he minds that much. And if anything, he’s more than grateful for the lack of attention when he drags Louis behind the BBC stage, snogging him with music in their ears and stars in their eyes. 

***

“We haven’t taken a picture together yet.” 

Louis turns to Harry, looking like he might have misheard. Everyone else around them is screaming, impatient for Foster The People to take the stage, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if he’d missed Harry’s words. 

“What?” 

Harry wipes away some of the sweat collecting beneath his fringe. He wants to take the sunglasses off, but Louis said no, so on they’ll have to stay. 

“You and me,” he enunciates carefully. “A picture. We haven’t taken one together.” 

Louis’ lips quirk up into a devious grin. 

Me? A picture with Harry Styles?” He’s chuckling through his words, pointedly ignoring the way Harry is rolling his eyes in spite of a very obvious blush. “Could I really be that lucky?” 

“Nevermind,” Harry grumbles, angling himself away from Louis. The cheers are getting louder. “Tosser.” 

“Hey.” Louis moves closer to Harry, close enough that their arms are bumping. He leans in and whispers into his ear. “You’ll sign it and everything?” 

Harry barks a laugh in spite of himself, drawing a few concerned glances from people around them. He has to cover his mouth with both hands, and Louis looks immensely pleased with the reaction. 

“I just want a picture,” Harry explains a little petulantly. “Just so I can look back on this weekend and know that I didn’t make you up or something.” 

“Maybe you did make me up,” Louis replies matter-of-factly. “Maybe you’re actually unconscious and lying in a ditch somewhere. Maybe you’re crazy.” 

Harry groans, folding his arms. Music is starting. 

“Fine,” he says a little loudly. “You don’t have to if you don’t want.” 

Harry loves this album, has always wanted to see them live. The lights are blinking wildly onstage and the crowd is a writhing sea of people high and buzzing on energy and music and life and it’s all just so wonderfully brilliant. He’s bobbing along to the beat, ever-aware of Louis’ rocking motions behind him, and he’s thinking I’ll draw until I’ve broken every law when he feels hands high on his hips and warm breath huffing against his ear. 

“I want.” Louis’ voice is low and something else Harry doesn’t understand in the moment. “I want, okay?” 

Harry’s breath hitches and he wonders if Louis can feel it where his fingertips are dancing at the edges of his abdomen. He leans back instinctively, a little more relaxed than he’d been only moments ago. 

He pulls his phone out of his pocket. “Okay,” he intones. “Ready?” 

Louis nods into Harry’s neck, kissing there once and swiping teasingly with his tongue. It’s — that’s somehow both the filthiest and the most intimate that they’ve been all day and it’s enough to make Harry shiver. 

“Yeah, alright,” he says a little nonsensically, pulling his phone up so that it’s pointed right at them. 

It takes a couple tries and a flash or two to get the lighting right, but the last and best picture has both of them staring into the camera with lights and people dancing at the edges. It’s a little blurry, but they’re both smiling so brightly and widely — maybe a little more than necessary — that it doesn’t matter. 

He smiles and hits ‘save,’ resting his head back onto Louis’ shoulder so that their cheeks brush. “Thanks.” 

“I better not see that on the Internet,” he murmurs, grip tightening on the younger boy’s waist. 

Harry tilts his head and kisses the underside of Louis’ jaw. “Never.” 

***

He eventually takes off the sunglasses, and it’s up to Louis to get him through the crowds without getting recognized. They’ve been riding on a buzz of alcohol pretty consistently all day, but it isn’t until later that night after they’ve finished all their beers and downed their flask that Harry feels any differently, like he’s spinning and spinning away and Louis is the only one that can keep him tethered to the ground. 

“You’ve still got this one with you, then?” Stan asks when he sees them stumbling back into the campsite. He turns to Harry. “Why do I feel like there’s probably a search squad looking for you right now?” 

Harry laughs, face pressed into Louis’ shoulder. 

“He’s staying with us again tonight,” Louis says decisively, even though they haven’t talked about it at all today. “‘M hungry.” 

“Yeah, I bet he is,” Stan replies, full of mirth. “And we’ve got — ” He looks around their site, where everyone is mostly laughing and singing and drinking. “ — absolutely nothing to eat. Sorry, mate.” 

Louis groans, and Harry wants to kiss it away. 

“What do you say, Haz? D’you feel like scavenging with me?”

“Mmm,” he mumbles against Louis’ throat. “No.” 

“Hazza — ” 

Louis is talking too much, so Harry starts pressing open-mouthed kisses to whatever exposed skin his lips can find. He’s more than pleased when Louis falls silent. 

“Oi!” Stan yells, but he doesn’t seem too bothered. “None of that out here.” 

Harry feels Louis lift a hand behind him, probably to flip Stan off. He’s warm all over and he’s certain that it’s all to do with Louis — Louis, who spent the whole day making him feel normal and extraordinary all at once. Who stole Harry’s phone and took a thousand pictures for him because he wanted him to remember. Who walked back to the campsite with Harry’s hand in his, not asking — and maybe not caring — what it meant. 

“Tent,” he breathes concisely against Louis’ skin. “Please.” 

Louis actually pulls away slightly, but Harry curls his fingers into the soft skin behind his neck and he can feel the wild beat of the other boy’s pulse all the same. 

“Yeah,” Louis says, already a little wrecked. “Yeah, okay.” 

If Harry hears Stan’s low wolf whistle in the background, then he doesn’t pay it any attention as he stumbles backward toward the tent with Louis grabbing onto his sides for purchase. It takes some fumbling with the zip, but they’re in the tent now and his mind is short-circuiting. 

He lunges for Louis, but in the dark, he falls just short of the mark and lands half-sprawled across the other boy’s knee. Louis barks in laughter and that’s nice and all, but Harry was trying for sexy, not so much funny. 

“Can’t see anything in this bloody tent,” Louis mutters, tinkering around with something in the dark. “We need — ah.” 

Harry blinks twice before registering the lantern that he hadn’t noticed last night. It’s small and just bright enough that Harry can distinguish Louis’ knee from his neck. So when Louis sets it down and bats his eyelashes coquettishly and perhaps a little teasingly, Harry doesn’t miss his cue and just goes for it. 

Laughter dies on Louis’ lips as soon as they’re under Harry’s, soft and pliant against his ministrations and noticeably eager for the way that Harry’s tongue swipes experimentally against Louis’. Harry gets on his knees and takes opportunistic use of the slight height advantage, pressing into the other boy and deepening the kiss. 

“Shirt off,” he says, earning Louis’ laughter. 

“Eager,” he says, and keeps kissing Harry. 

“Mm hot.” Harry can’t even think beyond how good this feels. 

He groans when Louis pulls his lips away, but it’s a new kind of groan when those lips start tracing patterns down the column of his neck.  

“Hot? I’m actually kind of cold,” Louis mumbles against Harry’s throat, just to be an arse. 

“Oh, shut up,” he says, but his voice breaks at the end and he’s pretty sure Louis doesn’t take his threat too seriously. 

It’s been a while, really, since Harry’s been with a guy. Being in the public eye on a daily basis makes it kind of impossible, and the articles about his nightly and decidedly female conquests are much more a form of wishful thinking than anything else. 

But this — this is so good and feels so good and it’s so far beyond wishful thinking that it’s kind of unbelievable. If he thought that Louis was sweet and chaste in the way he touched Harry earlier today, then he’s surprised by how filthy and fervent the older boy is working his way down Harry’s body. He can’t even remember moving until he’s flat on his back, lying down on a sleeping bag with his legs tingling and his chest heaving. 

“You’re kind of ridiculously good-looking from this angle, did you know?” 

Harry laughs in spite of himself. It doesn’t feel like someone stroking his ego or anything; it’s just a really, really nice compliment to hear Louis say it. 

“The view isn’t too bad from here either,” Harry says, looking at Louis’ head between his thighs. He’s so hard; he’s straining painfully against his underwear. 

Louis takes it as encouragement and noses against his crotch. Harry thinks he might jump out of his skin, more so when Louis reaches up with a hand that roams freely across his torso. His breath comes out in jutted little spurts, and he almost loses his breath entirely when Louis’ hand comes to massage him shamelessly through his trousers. 

“This okay?” His voice is dangerously low and it makes Harry’s cheeks go warm. 

“Yeah — god, Lou, yeah.” 

“Excellent,” Louis says, and it isn’t long before he’s popped the button on Harry’s trousers and pulled on the elastic waistband of his pants, freeing him into the cool nighttime air. 

Harry thinks he might die if Louis doesn’t do something right now, and it’s almost a tease the way that Louis sizes him up and gives an appreciative little hum. 

“C’mon,” he urges impatiently, and without thinking, adds, “Didn’t you say you were hungry?” 

Louis actually snorts into Harry’s hip, his laughter vibrating against Harry’s skin.   

“You’re a fucking shit,” he says, but it’s fond and Harry plans on replying but stops short when Louis goes down. 

It’s been all of five seconds, but Harry can tell that Louis is good at this — like, really good at this. He wonders how many times Louis has done this, how many have come before him, and it’s a question that resonates with unexpected envy. 

But then he looks down and sees the way that Louis’ cheeks have hollowed out and how his lips have gone all swollen around his cock and he thinks he doesn’t mind, or that maybe he can’t mind, not right now when Louis is blowing him and looking so achingly perfect while doing it.

He brushes the fringe out of Louis’ eyes because he can’t not touch right now, can’t help himself from wanting to reach out and take every bit of Louis that he can. It’s almost unbearable seeing Louis like this, with his damp forehead and flushed cheeks and pink lips. But Louis barrels down even further and Harry bucks up before he can even help himself, tossing his head back and moaning unabashedly. 

When he looks back down, Louis is looking straight at him, his eyes somehow so sparkling clear even in the dim lighting. And it’s like — he shouldn’t even be thinking this, but he can see Louis so fucking clearly right now and he’s almost sure he’s giving off the same kind of affection that’s mirrored in those jade green eyes. 

It amounts to about five seconds of thought, but it’s all so much for Harry to handle in that moment that he breaks eye contact and screws his eyelids shut, feeling like he’s about to lose himself at any moment. 

“Lou, I…” 

Louis does this thing with his wrist and Harry’s gone, over the edge and gasping through his orgasm like there’s no air left in him. The older boy swallows like it’s nothing, and then he’s up and kissing Harry’s eyes, cheeks, chin, and slack mouth like he’s telling him it’ll be okay. 

Louis curls up next to him and holds him close until he can see straight again. When he looks up, Louis is staring at him a little dazedly. 

“Your turn,” he says gruffly and makes to straddle Louis before the other boy grabs his arm. 

“You don’t have — I mean, I’m fine like this,” Louis says earnestly. 

“No,” Harry says instantly, tugging his arm away and crawling down Louis’ front like it’s the most important thing he’ll ever have to do. “I’m gonna do this and you’re gonna love it.” 

Louis watches Harry with wide eyes, pupils blown so that there’s only the slightest rim of green. 

“Yeah — sure, okay,” he says, awed. “Don’t think it’ll take much for me to love it, though.” 

“Mm-hmm,” Harry hums around Louis’ cock.

***

Harry wakes up the next morning with an inexplicable need to see the boys immediately. It’s been long enough — by their standards, at least. 

It might be too early and Liam might be the only one up anyway, but he’d rather go now while Louis’ asleep. He’s careful to roll out of the other boy’s arms, ignoring the fluttering in his stomach when he remembers falling asleep loose, warm, hypersensitive, and drawn close to Louis’ chest. He makes as little noise as he can when he slips into his clothes, turning back once to look at the sleeping boy before he sliding out of the tent. 

It’s still early enough that the walk back to their site is as quiet as it’ll ever be all day. He hasn’t been gone that long, and yet the journey back to the boys is more foreign than it really should be — more foreign than the walk back to Louis’ site, at any rate. 

As expected, Liam is the only one of the boys awake when he gets to their little cluster of tents. He’s sitting down with Danielle huddled close in his lap as they share a thermos of some hot beverage. 

Liam’s eyes fly open widely when he sees Harry, and the younger boy doesn’t miss the varying range in emotion from relief to frustration to confusion in those brown doe-eyes. 

“Hi, all,” he greets, though it comes out rather sheepish. 

Danielle smiles at Harry, but Liam doesn’t look too impressed. 

“You’ve come back, then? Haven’t wandered off, haven’t gone into the wild to live off the land or anything like that?”

Harry rolls his eyes and bends down low to kiss Liam’s temple, just to be an arse about it. The other boy scowls, and Danielle laughs. 

“He’s missed you, don’t worry,” she assures him. Liam looks affronted. 

“Thought as much.” Harry pulls up a chair and grins in a way that he knows Liam can’t possibly be angry with. 

Still, Liam finds it in himself to frown. 

“Fine. I’m sorry, Liam. Happy?” Harry even resists the temptation to roll his eyes. 

Surprisingly, Liam seems more or less satisfied, and he manages to smile in return.   

“That’s better. Now, where’ve you been? And who did you meet?” 

“No one,” he’s quick to respond. 

But Danielle gazes over knowingly. “You’re blushing.” 

Harry’s fingertips fly up to his cheeks, but the damage is done. Danielle is staring at him expectantly, and Liam blinks once to let Harry know he’s waiting. 

“Just a guy,” he says. “His name’s Louis — hey, wait, you met him, actually.” 

“I did?” Liam asks, surprised. 

Harry nods. “Yeah. He’s the one that, erm, ran into me? That first day when we were playing footie?” 

Recognition blooms on Liam’s face. “The drunk one? He’s the guy you’ve been with? What — how?” 

“Ran into each other again, I suppose,” he fills in. “If it’s any consolation, he was sober the second time around.” 

“And you’ve been…staying with him?” Harry doesn’t miss the way that Liam emphasizes ‘staying.’ 

“Erm.” He bites down on his lip, and he knows he’s given an answer before he’s even said it. 

Danielle blushes and pulls herself up from Liam’s lap. She glances over once at Harry, winks, and says, “I think I’ll have a shower. They can’t be that grim, can they?” 

Once Danielle has gone and they’re left alone, Harry feels a little like he’s been backed into a corner. 

“Harry…” 

“It’s nothing,” Harry responds quickly, getting there before Liam can. “It’s just a Leeds thing, okay? Zayn’s right. I — I can’t have everything be perfect all the time and that’s fine. But — just this weekend, alright?” He knows he sounds like a child, but he doesn’t care. 

Liam doesn’t say anything for a while. So Harry thinks of Louis, whether or not he’s still sleeping, and if he misses Harry the same way he misses Louis right now — for whatever inexplicable reason. 

But it feels something like a small victory when Liam sighs and says, “Is he nice at least? Like…not weird?” 

Harry can’t keep from grinning, even though he wants to say that Louis is weird, though in a way he probably wouldn’t mind. It’s a good kind of weird, really. 

“Yeah, he’s…you’d like him, I think.” 

There’s still noticeable wariness in the other boy’s eyes, but Liam nods anyway. “Bring him around, then. So we can meet him properly once the lads have woken up.” 

Harry thinks it over once. “Yeah, alright. I’ll go back and bring him.” 

Liam cocks an eyebrow.  “Why’d you come back anyway?” 

“Dunno.” He shrugs. “Could probably do with a shower, though. And a toothbrush.” 

***

He gets back to Louis’ campsite an hour later, and no one else is awake. When he unzips the tent, he’s greeted with a bleary-eyed Louis huddled in the corner, staring at Harry in confusion. 

“I — you left.” His voice is hoarse, and remembering the reason why makes Harry’s face turn a shade of pink. He’s looking at Harry like he can’t decide whether or not to blame him. “I thought you left.” 

Harry zips the tent shut and crowds Louis’ space, leaning his head on the bit of sleeping bag draped over his shoulder. He kisses the spot there, littering it with murmured apologies. 

“I went to go see the boys and clean myself up a bit.” He hums contentedly. “Didn’t leave, though.” 

“Oh. Right.” He stretches and rests an arm lazily around Harry’s waist. “Is it weird that for a moment, I forgot that you were…you?” 

“Hmm.” Harry’s still a little distracted by Louis’ intoxicating warmth. “No? I think I forgot for a little while there, too, if I’m being honest.” 

“Mm, pop star Harry,” Louis murmurs into Harry’s curls. 

This is nice. He hasn’t had a Sunday morning — or any other morning, for that matter — quite like this in a while. He’s been awake longer than Louis now, but he’s getting sleepy and sluggish all over again. 

“Hey, Lou?” 

“Yeah?” 

He worries his bottom lip between his teeth. “Just — where are you from?” 

For whatever reason, Harry expects Louis to freeze up or something at the change in topic. But the answer comes easily to him, just like everything else with Louis this weekend. 

“Doncaster. Why?” 

Harry’s not sure what he’s doing, but he’s pressing gently enough on Louis that they’re both falling back to the tent floor until they’re lying down completely. He positions himself comfortably on Louis’ chest and sighs happily when he slots their legs together. It’s the last full day, but he doesn’t feel like rushing anything. 

“Do you go to uni?” 

He feels Louis nod above him. 

“Want to act. Do some theater or something, but I haven’t really figured it out. I’m kind of just…doing.” 

There’s something appealing to Harry about that kind of lifestyle. In his young adulthood, he hasn’t known much more than recording sessions, scheduled interviews, and nightly performances packed to capacity. It’s a very different kind of life, Harry knows, and one that he loves more than he’ll ever be able to express fully. 

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t curious — curious about that other life, the life that he thinks he’d like Louis to explain to him, if he can. He wonders if they would have even met under those circumstances. 

“Did you ever want to go to uni?” 

“Yeah,” Harry says instantly. “Though I would’ve liked to cook. Or bake. I worked at a bakery before trying out for X Factor.” 

“You can still do those things,” Louis says, and his tone is surprisingly earnest; it makes Harry’s heart clench.   

“Doncaster,” Harry repeats. “That’s a bit far from London, where I am now. I’m from Cheshire, you know?” 

Louis chuckles softly. “Heard something to that effect, yeah.” 

Harry tilts his head up and looks at Louis curiously. “How?” 

“Internet,” Louis explains simply. “Well, that and the fact that I’ve got four younger sisters at home. I could write your biography, mate.” 

He remembers that, actually, from when Stan had said it on Friday. And it’s…strange to Harry, though not for the reasons that it should be. It has more to do with the fact that Louis probably knows more about Harry without even trying, and he doesn’t know nearly as much about the other boy. He likes Louis and it just feels a little uneven, that’s all. 

“I — sorry, is that weird?” Louis sounds uncertain. “You’re just kind of everywhere, so I didn’t think it’d be much of a surprise.” 

Harry elects not to respond outright, and decides to kiss up Louis’ chest instead. Louis hums deep within his chest. 

“D’you like coffee?” 

Louis laughs from the suddenness and randomness of the question. 

“Erm, I do, believe it or not.” He’s still laughing somewhat. “Why? Are you going to make me some right now with your invisible coffee maker?” 

“Ha, funny,” Harry mumbles into Louis’ shoulder. “No, just…if we weren’t here right now, I think I’d take you to get coffee. Wake you up properly.” 

“Oh.” 

Harry worries for a moment that he’s said something he shouldn’t have, that he’s crossed some boundary or something. He keeps from looking into Louis’ eyes, afraid of what he might find there. 

“Just that it’s early,” he continues, trying his best to keep his voice even. “And coffee makes sense when it’s early, so — ” 

“Hey.” Louis interrupts Harry and cups his cheeks in his hands so that they’re looking at each other. “C’mere and kiss me.” 

“What — ” 

Kiss me.” 

Harry leans up before he can even think twice and captures Louis’ lips in his own. In another context (maybe if they were both awake enough), he would have pushed a little more and made the kiss hotter than it needed to be. But here, right now with him sprawled across Louis in this small tent, it’s enough to kiss chastely and feel good about it. 

Feel satisfied about it. 

“Morning breath,” Harry grumbles when he pulls away, but he’s smiling as he does so. 

“Rude.” Louis pouts. “For the record, I’d have liked coffee if we weren’t here, too.”

Harry smiles, catches his breath a little, and kisses Louis’ surprised lips quickly before rolling off of him and bouncing on his knees. “Okay, get up and get ready. We’ve got to go.” 

“Go? It’s early,” Louis groans, and to make his point, he turns over and buries his head in his arms. “Sleep time, Harry.” 

“No.” He shakes Louis’ shoulders. “We’ve got to stop by my area first. The boys want to meet you.” 

Louis freezes and turns over carefully. Harry can’t do anything but shrug and offer him a sheepish grin. 

“What?” 

“It’ll be fine, I swear! They’re just like me and you like me, remember?” 

“Harry…” 

“Lou-is. I swear they’ll like you, so long as you brush your teeth and fix your hair.”

“My hair?” Louis props himself up on his elbows, offense etched into his features. “Haz — ” 

“Here,” Harry says, reaching out and tugging on the elastic of Louis’ waistband before he can say another word. “Let me blow you and then you can get ready, okay?” 

What? Har — ” 

But his protests die on his lips; Harry’ll be damned if he can’t get Louis out of this tent sooner rather than later.

***

As it turns out, Louis has nothing to worry about because the boys love him. Even Zayn, who offers his approval and an apology for Friday with a wink and an arm around his shoulders. 

“He’s alright,” Zayn whispers into Harry’s ear while Louis, Niall and Liam compare music tastes. 

Harry looks over privately; amused that Louis’ managed to fit in so easily. They haven’t known each other for more than 48 hours, but he’s certain that Louis is just good with, and for people. 

“Yeah, he is,” Harry confirms, leaning into his friend’s embrace. 

The only person who seems to mind Louis’ sudden appearance is Nick, and he isn’t being very subtle, either. 

“I don’t think he likes me,” Louis confides in Harry, keeping his voice low and gesturing in Nick’s direction. “Is there — are you two…” 

Harry could laugh. “No, no. He’s just a mate. The lads say he’s got a crush or summat, but — eh.” He shrugs. 

Louis glances over to Nick, weighing things over in his mind as the older man looks over in their direction. And before Harry can say anything more, Louis is kissing him full on the mouth, tasting of residual toothpaste and something that he’s come to know as only Louis

Harry blinks when the other boy pulls away, smirking at him. He can hear Niall’s low whoop in the background, and he doesn’t miss the amusement — and wariness — in Liam’s eyes from off to the side. When he turns around, he sees that Nick and his small group of friends have wandered off. 

“You’re a shit,” he tells Louis. 

Louis grins, immensely pleased with himself. Niall sidles up beside them, clapping a hand on the older boy’s shoulder. 

“He can stay,” he declares with booming Irish bravado. 

“Yeah, yeah.” Harry brushes them off and goes to grab a water bottle from his car. 

He isn’t all too surprised when he feels someone lurking behind him, and even less so when he turns to find Liam there. 

“Yes?” 

Liam shrugs. “He’s nice. And not weird.” 

Harry resists the temptation to roll his eyes; it’s Liam, after all. “Now I’ve got everyone’s approval. Excellent.”

“So, erm.” Liam’s brows knit together thoughtfully. “Have you two talked about what’ll happen…after this weekend, I mean?” 

Harry blinks. “I told you, didn’t I? Just a weekend thing. That’s all.” 

“Does he know that, though?” 

“It was his idea,” Harry fills in, running his fingertips along the side of the water bottle. He can’t quite meet Liam’s eyes when he says it. 

“Ah.” Liam nods, and Harry feels like there’s something else to be said. “Alright. Just wondering.” 

Harry frowns. “What do you — ” 

“Oi!” Louis’ voice comes sailing toward them. “Stan’s just texted me and he wants to meet up. Yes? No?” 

Harry looks over at Liam again, but the other boy is grinning in Louis’ direction. “Yes!” 

Louis beams, shifting his attention to Harry. He must see the confusion in the younger boy’s face, because he sends over a thumbs-up and it feels more like a question. 

Harry bites down on his lip and sends a thumbs-up right back.

***

On the bright side, Harry doesn’t have to worry about keeping anonymity for the rest of the day — not when he’s walking around with three other boys of equal fame. And on the even brighter side, his and Louis’ friends get along so well that it’s almost scary. 

“Stan might steal Niall away from you,” Louis warns Harry as they walk over to the main stage. “Just saying.” 

Harry looks ahead at the Irish boy and the brunette boy walking along and talking animatedly. Just beside them, Liam and Zayn are talking with another one of Louis’ friends while Danielle chats with Sara. It should be weird, but it isn’t. 

“We’ve done a proper job of intermingling,” Harry says proudly, leaning into Louis’ side. He ignores the occasional groups of fans that notice them walking across the fairgrounds. “Wouldn’t you say so?” 

Louis unabashedly flings an arm around Harry’s shoulders, drawing him in. “We’re well on our way to high teas and fancy dinner parties.” 

Harry barks a laugh, practically bouncing against Louis’ side. 

They stay in that large group for most of the day, easily going from one stage to the next like it’s something they’ve been doing together all weekend. Harry and the boys feel particularly guilty for stopping every ten minutes or so to take a picture or sign an autograph, but Louis and Stan and the rest of them find it amusing. 

Harry doesn’t really have time with just Louis, not with friends crowding their space and not with attentive fan girls keeping careful watch over him. It’s still nice, though, to dance and act stupidly together like it’s all they know how to do. 

But when Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros takes the Radio 1 stage, Harry can’t help from looking into Louis’ eyes and singing, “Now I got no fear of death now.” 

It goes on that way for the rest of the afternoon, with Harry trailing after Louis and wishing for a beanie or a pair of sunglasses or anything — anything to reach over and kiss the smile right off the other boy’s mouth without being noticed. 

One girl asks for a picture with Harry after Two Door Cinema Club, and when Louis goes to take the camera from her, Harry shakes his head no and pulls him into the shot, asking Liam to take it instead. The girl doesn’t mind; she seems to smile even brighter, actually. 

Harry does, too. 

***

It’s half past seven when they’ve finished their food from the canteen, and Harry’s pretty sure he’s done a shit job of hiding his impatience and restlessness thus far. He makes eye contact with Zayn once, and the other boy simply smirks, glancing over meaningfully in Louis’ direction before turning away.

Harry groans inwardly. This is their last night — his last night with Louis, and as much as he loves that the boys met him and that their friends are friends now and whatever, he’d really like to spend these last several hours with just them two. But he thinks this is probably just another facet of his ‘wanting everything to be perfect’…ness, so he bites down on his lip and keeps quiet. 

It isn’t until almost eight when Liam appears next to him. He tilts his head over where Louis is talking to Zayn with arms slung around Niall and Stan, and he nudges Harry’s side wordlessly. 

Go, he thinks Liam is saying. 

So he does. 

He strides over and grabs Louis by the arm, flashing the boys a dry apologetic smile before dragging him off. Louis follows easily. 

“What’s this?” Louis asks when Harry drags him behind one of the toilets. “I — ” 

But he can’t talk once Harry’s lunged at him, their mouths crashing together messily as the younger boy’s hands snake their way up Louis’ back and into his hair. Louis makes a muffled sound but he pulls Harry in even closer by the waist, aligning their bodies and kissing Harry hard and fast. 

Harry moves to mouth at Louis’ neck, and Louis laughs breathlessly. 

“Y’alright, Harry?”

He murmurs his assent into the flushed column of Louis’ throat. When he pulls away, he can see Louis in the dim lighting, glassy-eyed and pink-cheeked and it’s a good look on him. 

“I just.” He licks his lips, catching his breath and thinking over which words to say. “Just us, yeah?” 

He hopes Louis gets it, hopes he doesn’t mind that he’s pulled him away from his friends on their last night here just so they can be alone — after having been alone all weekend, already. But Louis seems to get it, and Louis doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, because he’s leaning forward and kissing Harry softly again and swiping a thumb gently against the cut of his cheekbone. 

“Yeah, okay.” 

Harry breathes out in relief and wraps his arms around Louis’ shoulders for a quick but tight embrace. When they break it, he grabs Louis by his slender wrist and tugs him along. 

“C’mon.” 

Louis follows without asking questions, and after they’ve meandered through the sea of people milling about to their last bands of the weekend, they find themselves at one of the other stages with some artist with some name they don’t know.

But with absolutely no regard for who might see them here, who might wonder what pop star Harry Styles is doing with that boy in the white tee and the khaki pants and the flashy blue boots — it’s perfect. 

It’s dark out now, and the band onstage is playing some really slow song that sounds rather horrible live. But Louis is somehow still smiling in that infectious way that has Harry doing the same and reaching for Louis’ hand in the space between them. Their fingers twine together and it’s —

And it’s not one of Harry’s favorite songs — far from it, actually, since this is a band he knows next to nothing about — but the moment seems right, anyway. Everything is glowing ahead of them and everyone is swaying next to them, so it doesn’t take very much for Harry to draw Louis in until his back is pressed flush against Harry’s front. 

“Mm,” Louis muses absently, eyes glazed over and still concentrating on the stage when Harry’s arms wrap around Louis’ waist, hands finding purchase in the hollows of his hips. 

Harry hooks his chin over Louis’ shoulder and their bodies find the slow rhythm of the song almost instantly. Louis leans back into it and it’s nice and just about every other word that Harry could use to describe their time together. 

They stay like that for quite some time — not really moving or anything else, but breathing and holding each other in. 

And when Louis rolls off Harry in the tent later that night, still connected by their lips, he murmurs a happy “ain’t nothing please me more than you” and it’s enough to make his whole face flush. And when he hears Louis’ deep breathing and thinks that there’s no point in fighting the smile on his face, he stops, and falls straight to sleep.

***

There are fingers digging into Harry’s sides and he thinks if he were more awake, he’d have a more appropriate response. But right now, all he can manage to do is thrash sleepily and kick, earning a deep groan from somewhere above before feeling soft, warm lips against his forehead. 

“Christ, Haz.” Louis’ voice is strained. “My bollocks.” 

Harry rumbles deep in his throat and stretches, his long, lanky limbs splayed around him. When he blinks his heavy eyes open, he sees Louis peering down at him with fond irritation. 

“Shouldn’t do that to me,” he says sleepily. He pulls down on Louis’ collar and kisses the underside of his jaw. “Morning. Mm…smell like toothpaste.” 

Louis huffs minty breath into Harry’s sour morning mouth, kissing his bottom lip once, twice. 

“Haz. It’s six.” 

“Sleep then,” Harry groans, tugging on the sleeping bag around him.

“No, Haz — we’re leaving.” 

Harry’s mind falters and he’s frozen with his eyes shut as he tries to comprehend. “We’re…” 

I’m leaving,” Louis amends in hushed tones. “Me and Stan and the rest of us. It’s six.” 

When Harry opens his eyes again, his stomach sinks with the remorseful expression blooming across Louis’ face. He smiles sadly.

“We’ve got an early start,” he explains softly. “Want to beat the rush. Besides, some of us have school and jobs — unlike the international pop stars of the world.” 

Harry presses the heels of his palms into his eyes. “Not intern — ah fuck. You’re leaving?” 

“Well, I can’t really, not until the tent is torn down and stuff.” He cocks his head to the side. “And that kind of means you’ll have to wake up if you don’t want to be taken with me.” 

“I do, though,” Harry says without thinking, bottom lip jutting out. 

Louis smiles again, this time kindly. “Could you imagine what The Sun would say? ‘One Direction’s Harry Styles: Kidnapped!’ Every 14 year old girl would have a fit, my sister included.” 

But Harry doesn’t laugh, doesn’t think he can when the full magnitude of Louis’ words are hitting him. 

“You’re leaving?” 

Louis nods. “It’s Monday. End of the weekend.” He leans forward and leaves another kiss on Harry’s unresponsive lips. “I — I had an amazing time. Really, best Leeds weekend yet.” 

Harry wants to say something cheeky, or some form of ‘thanks’ at the very least, but he can’t bring himself to say anything just yet. He doesn’t know why it feels like a bigger deal than it is; they’d decided upon this together, after all. A Leeds thing. A weekend thing. There was nothing there conducive to anything beyond that, and he was well aware. 

“Hey.” Louis cards his fingers through Harry’s curls, and it’s enough to relieve the mounting pressure in his chest. “You had fun, yeah? And soon enough, you’ll be in studios or arenas and doing whatever the hell it is you pop star types do, and you’ll have chalked this entire weekend up to one long, drunken memory.” 

Harry sits up because no, he won’t. It’s kind of miserable to think about, much less at this early hour. His mum was right; he does get too attached to people, even the new ones that are all shine and luster and brilliance that Harry can’t keep away from. 

Louis especially. 

“I — okay.” He winces, thinking he’d have something better to say, but that’s all that comes out. And Louis just smiles at him, kissing him once on the cheek and handing him his clothes from the day before. 

“I’d offer breakfast or whatever,” Louis says, “but we’ve got shit to eat and I’m afraid I’m the only one left to take down my tent. So…” 

“Yeah,” Harry says quickly, throwing his clothes on and trying to stomach the very bitter feeling that he’s being thrown out or something like it. “I’ll be — yeah.” 

He ignores the way Louis watches him curiously when he slips into his shoes and steps out of the tent into the blistery cold of morning. The sun is barely peeking out, and he can’t wait until it gets a little bit warmer. 

Stan and the rest of them are gathered off by the car, packing it up and talking amongst each other. Stan catches Harry’s eye and winks, saluting him in the process. Harry returns the gesture with a genuine smile. 

He turns around and meets Louis’ wide, sparkling blue eyes. “Plans for the day?”

Louis shrugs. “A heroic attempt to make it to my first class, only to crash and fall asleep on my couch, without a doubt.” He smiles proudly. “And you?” 

Harry shuffles his feet until his toes are cobbled inward. “Don’t know, really. I’ll have to see with the boys, given that they’ll take me back in the first place. They’re rather fond of you…not sure they’d accept me without you in tow.” 

“Stop,” Louis chides gently, before reaching over and pulling Harry into a warm embrace. “I just have that effect on people, I guess.” 

Fuck it all, because Harry feels a lump forming in his throat and inexplicable stinging in his eyes and he just buries his face into Louis’ neck and hopes that his ‘yeah, you do’ gets lost in translation. 

When Louis pulls away, he offers Harry an encouraging smile. 

“You should go, Haz. Wouldn’t want the 12-year-old girls to see you on your walk of shame, now would you?” 

That draws an earnest laugh from him, and he swats at Louis’ arm. “Arse.” 

“You love it,” Louis says very seriously before falling into a fit of laughter with Harry again. 

They stand there, hovering for much longer than really necessary. Harry’s sure he’s holding Louis and the rest of them up just by being there, but he’s trying very hard not to care. 

“Okay, okay,” Louis says, sighing. “You have to go. Sorry but…Sara turns into a right bitch when she misses her class. She’s one of those.” 

Harry just rolls his eyes at Louis’ low, conspiring tones. “Fine.” And he doesn’t know why he says it, but it comes out anyway. “Will you miss me?”

Louis looks surprised by that one, but only for a flash, because he’s fixing Harry with a very plain, matter-of-fact look. “Of course, you dolt. I’ve just spent my weekend with a member of One Direction. What’ve you done?” 

Harry laughs half-heartedly. He knows Louis doesn’t mean it, so why can’t he just —

“Hey.” Louis moves in closer, crowding Harry’s space. He lifts his chin with two fingers, looking at him with the utmost sincerity. “Thanks, okay? You made this weekend — everything, really, just so amazing. Plus, you saved me from being a third wheel with Stan and Sara, so that’s a welcome bonus.” 

Harry sighs raggedly. “What about all your other friends?” 

Louis shrugs. “All tossers.” 

Harry laughs again, this time into Louis’ collarbone before he even knows what he’s doing. He only jumps a little when he feels two hands holding his waist firmly. 

“Harry…” 

He stands up, straightening his back and meeting Louis’ eyes. “Yeah, okay. Christ, goodbyes suck, don’t they?” 

Louis only smiles. 

There’s a pause and Harry thinks — no, he knows what he’d like to fill it with. He knows what he wants to ask, what he probably shouldn’t ask, but he doesn’t think he’d be able to help himself if he wanted to, anyway. And the widening smile on Louis’ face says just about everything. 

“Listen — I don’t know if — ” 

Harry doesn’t know if he’ll ever get used to Louis kissing him, but he really hopes he’ll get a chance to. 

When Louis pulls away, kissing Harry’s nose once on the way out, he grins knowingly. 

“I had serious doubts that you’d manage to say anything at all,” he says with a wink. 

Harry feels lost, out of the loop. “What?” 

Louis pats Harry’s side once. “I put my number in your phone already. While you were sleeping.”

It takes Harry a moment to register, but his eyes widen in understanding. 

“It’s under Louis Tomlinson, in case you were wondering where ‘Tommo’ came from.” 

Harry bites at the inside of his cheeks to keep from smiling. “You know, I did wonder about that.”

“Excellent. Okay well, really, I’ve got to be going, and sadly, uni waits for no one — not even you, Harry Styles.” 

Harry leans in again to steal one more kiss from Louis, if only because he can. And it’s not too hard, not when Louis isn’t fighting him on it. 

“So yeah,” Louis says once he’s dropped his hands from Harry’s sides. “That thing you said about goodbyes — hate ‘em.” 

Harry is walking backwards already. “Absolutely. Loathe them.” 

Louis has to raise his voice over the growing gap between them. “I’d kill them all if I could!” 

“And I’d help you!” 

He’s almost certain that Louis says something else, something in alignment with every other wonderful and ridiculous thing he’s said this weekend. But it’s not long before Harry is stumbling into the next site over and Louis is still in sight, but just out of reach. 

On the way back to his site where the boys are waiting, he digs into his pocket and fishes out his phone — just to make sure. 

But before he can go through his contact book, there’s already a text message waiting for him — from one ‘Louis Tomlinson.’ He feels light at the recognition of his contact picture: the one of them at the Foster The People set. He opens the text. 

good thing we didn’t have to say goodbye, then. right?

Harry swallows and grins, his heart beating crazily in his chest. 

Yeah, good thing.

sequel.

Notes
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