pairing(s): harry/louis, harry/ofc
word count: 22.8k
summary: "i didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. because it’s the halves that halve you in half." a like crazy au where harry and louis fall in love in america, but have to try to make it work when problems arise that force louis to stay in london.
notes: right, so. i'm alive!!!! the aforementioned film is an indie one directed by drake doremus, and i think it's pretty nice. thank you to nat and imprintofadream — for being brilliant and looking over this so last min for me. extra special like, praise and sacrifice to justgaytbh — because i honest to god mean it when i say this fic wouldn't exist without her. this one's for christy. i don't know what to say except i'm sorry, probably, and that i hope those who read this enjoy ♥♥♥
“...it is the idea that social media has come to define how we view our lives, the concept that ideas such as Facebook and Twitter shape us far more than we shape ourselves, the sense of being unable to escape, of a sorts. Like we are connected to everyone and everything at every point, and detached to the basic formalities and what it takes to form meaningful human interaction.”
Louis looks up from his papers, catches eyes on him and stares back for a second before biting his lip and looking down. Mr Peters condoles, “Good job, Louis. Very thought inducing.” Louis grins, feels a steady gaze on him, and tries to ignore it, gathering his papers as the small class applauds. “Turn in your final packet to Harry and thank you for your time.”
As Louis makes to walk out, his hand brushes past Harry’s and he isn’t sure what he’s really saying as the words tumble out of his mouth. “You don’t have to get mine, um, because I already...” He trails off and wonders if he’s quite capable of proper English. He nods and hurries out of the classroom, missing Harry’s inquisitive look, like he’s trying to figure something out.
He wrenches the papers out of his bag on his way downstairs, altering his usual route straight to the buses to pass by what he might possibly know to be Harry’s car. It’s a bit shit, and Louis wonders what need anyone could ever have of a vehicle in New York, but all the same.
Louis wonders, on a scale of 1-10, how fucking crazy this will make him seem. He slips it under the wiper, and starts to walk away, but backs up two steps in, grabs it and makes it almost halfway across the parking lot with it. This is stupid, and someone will probably steal it before Harry even gets to his car, and then some random homeless bloke will have his full name and number and he’ll get killed.
He stops his steps and sighs. Turns around and tucks the letters firmly under the wipers, and takes quick, brisk steps away, slinging his bag across the other shoulder and crossing his arms across his chest as he walks back to his flat.
“Mum, yes, I know, I did well enough on it, he said it was thought inducing, is that - no, I don’t think so.” He sets his bag down on his bed, toeing his shoes off and kicking them off to the side. “Yes, I’ll see you for the graduati - ” There’s a beep, and he excuses himself, telling his Mum he’ll call her back.
“Hi, it’s. It’s Harry?”
Louis sucks in a breath and plops backwards on his bed. “Yeah?”
Harry breathes, “yeah,” on the other line. “I got your letters.”
“So did you...?”
“Yeah, they were good. They were great. I liked them a lot.”
They’re at a small cafè next to the uni, and the only thing even remotely reasonably priced is the tea, and that’s only because they’ve got it down perfect, but it’s probably Louis’ favourite place in the city, something he’d found when he’d just moved here, quaint and small and reminiscent of home.
“You’re not freaked out?” he asks, picking apart the flaky parts of his scone, looking straight ahead at Harry. He’s an odd sort of beautiful, like - like nothing makes sense when Louis tries to separate them, his nostrils too large, his mouth too wide, his jaw too sharp. But put it all as they should, connected like strangely formed jigsaw pieces, and it all fits and it’s intense, like the slight curve of his lips as he’s looking at Louis across the table, the amused warmth in his eyes.
“Nah. Don’t think you’re a nutcase, either, don’t worry.”
Louis laughs, high and the slightest bit nervous. “I just wanted to, like, get all the bases down pat, you know? Make sure we had everything covered.”
“Good disclaimer,” Harry laughs, sitting up straighter. His foot bumps against Louis’ ankles under the table, and he leaves it there, leaves Louis flustered and feeling just all out of sorts with himself, God.
Louis brings the outrageously large cup up to his face, tries to hide himself away a bit. He takes a sip and peeks across at Harry over the rim. He gets caught, Harry raising an eyebrow, and Louis grins, fills his mouth up with the tea and sloshes it around as he brings the mug down. He’s going to have horrible teeth one day. Harry’s got brilliant ones, all shiny and white and perfect, and Louis wonders if he’s got a problem, thinking about the fella’s fucking teeth now.
“So you’re a writer, then?” Harry says after a few shockingly comfortable minutes of silence. Louis usually likes filling things up, doesn’t like leaving the spaces in between without any sort of noise, feels prickly and uncomfortable around prolonged silences, but he feels like he just could sort of - be, just be, where he is right now.
“Yes! Yeah, yeah, I am. When the urge hits, I jot shit down and then almost always hate them right after, but I - I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m sorry, wow.” Louis is the eloquent one in his group of friends back home. “What about you, what do you do?”
“I design furniture.”
“Oh,” Louis says.
“Oh,” Harry repeats, smiling and nodding.
The sun's still out even though it’s already 6pm, and Harry leaves his car behind in the cafè parking lot, giving the girl at the counter a twenty to please make sure it doesn’t get towed away. She looks at him like she’d do anything he ever told her to, and Louis narrows his eyes, grabs Harry’s arm and pulls him out. Harry starts to go west, and Louis shakes his head, turning them east, towards the direction of his flat.
“How does one end up in this grand city, the ol’ Big Apple?” Harry asks teasingly, nudging his shoulder as they stroll down the sidewalk.
“I’m actually not sure. I considered LA, I spent like a month there over the summer during sixth form - high school - but I don’t think I could stay there for extended periods. Too much - much. It’s too...” He struggles with trying to find the proper word.
“Too much going on,” Harry tries.
“I guess that would fit? It’s weird, me saying this, because I’m in NYC, of all places, but New York feels likes the type of city you’d wanna get lost in, Los Angeles like the type you’re afraid to lose yourself in. Fuck it, I don’t make any sense.”
“You do! You do, I got what you’re trying to say. So, what, when you graduate, are you planning on going back to London or staying here?”
“I’d love to stay, but I’ve got to get everything sorted out with my visa first.”
“Your parents won’t mind?”
“They understand. I’ll miss them, a lot, but we’re really close so they would get why I might want to stay, they get me. My sisters probably won’t be so understanding.”
“Sisters? I’ve got a sister!” Louis thinks Harry’s strange, all quiet intensity and then random bursts of energy. It’s disconcerting, and Louis can’t help but like it, more than a lot.
“Do you?” Louis asks, turning the corner and fighting a smile when he hears Harry’s steps hurrying up to catch up with him.
They’ve made it to Louis’ flat, now, and they stand a bit awkwardly in front of the entrance, Louis fumbling at the keypad. He can feel the warmth of Harry’s body behind him, and he considers.
He turns around roughly, taking hold of Harry’s wrist and looking up, asking him, “Would you like to come up?”
“Is this where you write?” Harry asks, adjusting and sitting on Louis’ little blue chair. Louis makes a noise of affirmation from his spot on the bed, looking at the strong line of Harry’s back. Harry turns to face Louis, saying, “It’s not very comfortable, is it?”
Louis shrugs and laughs, flopping himself back to stare up at the ceiling. There’s an air of hesitation, and then a dip in the bed as Harry copies his position, the right side of his body a hair’s breadth away from pressing against Louis’ left. Louis considers turning onto his side, but crawls up to the top of the bed instead. He can feel Harry’s eyes on his ass and he smirks.
Harry follows him - it’s something he thinks he could get used to, Harry following him, Harry going where he goes as if almost on instinct - and Louis says, “hey,” poking Harry’s calf with his toes.
Harry doesn’t reply, not right away, rests on his forearm and stares at Louis; his calf presses back against Louis’ feet, and he feels. He feels all hot, both definitions of the term, like he’s something to be appraised, like he’s worth it. Harry licks his lips, and Louis wonders if they’d burn a brand onto his skin.
“Read me something you’ve wrote,” Harry says, voice husky and warm.
Louis’ breath hitches, and he isn’t sure how he does it, but he wrenches his eyes away from Harry’s, turning his body so that he can get a journal from the drawer. “It’s pretty shit. Don’t laugh.”
“I won’t laugh.”
Harry tilts his head. “Promise.”
Louis takes a deep breath. “I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it. But I didn’t, not really. I knew the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered-all-containered-semi-prec
Louis chances a glance up through his eyelashes.
“Fuck, Louis,” Harry breathes.
Louis smiles, and grabs a pen, steeling himself and scribbling down onto a blank page, I think I really like you.
I think I really like you, too.
He walks Harry downstairs. The click of the doors signifies the lock setting in place, but Harry doesn’t walk away, and neither does Louis. They stand there, looking at each other through the glass panel. Louis presses his forehead on the door, splaying a hand next to his face. Harry mirrors the action, smiling, and Louis exhales deeply.
He feels empty, sad and lonely and empty, once Harry’s finally left.
That weekend, Harry brings Louis to Coney Island.
“You’ve been in New York for ages and never been to Coney, how the fuck does that work?”
They take Harry’s rackety old car, not so affectionately called Susie. Harry had a girlfriend in high school by the same name who was, in his words, ‘totally fucking psychotic’ and prone to breaking down whenever he even got ideas of enjoying himself. Louis hates this faceless girl on principle, hates the idea of Harry belonging to someone else, anyone else.
“I’m sorry that it hasn’t been my absolute and foremost priority in life,” Louis snarkily remarks.
“I suppose I can forgive you just this time.”
Harry makes him go on the Wonder Wheel first, and the park’s pretty empty, so they don’t have to wait in any lines. But - emphasis on makes. Louis’ done his research, alright, and he’s seen shit he doesn’t like, and he’s only twenty-one, and he’d very much like to make it to his next birthday. Anything older than his great-grandmother is too, too old and shouldn’t still be in service in the first place.
“I’m not going to tempt fate,” he tells Harry, standing firmly in his spot. “And fate destines that I die if I go on that thing.”
“That thing,” Harry repeats, leaning against something behind him and raising an eyebrow. He looks as if he’s laughing at Louis on the inside, his eyes warm with mirth.
“Yes, that thing,” Louis hisses. “It was built in 1918, in case you weren’t aware, and I have a five-year-old desk that can barely support itself as is, so. No.”
Harry pushes himself off whatever had been supporting him and crowds himself into Louis’ space. Louis feels all air exit his body in a loud breath at the concentration of Harry’s scent. Harry tips his chin up and breathes into his face, “what would I have to do to get you to go on the ride?”
Louis thinks his brain has short-circuited, but he manages to speak, low and packed with something they’ve yet to acknowledge. “Anything I tell you to.”
Harry’s eyes flash, and he steps back, taking Louis’ hand and dragging him to the booth, flashing the attendee their admission bracelets and choosing a still cart, rather than a swaying one. He still hasn’t answered Louis, and he doesn’t need to.
Louis focuses on Harry’s hand in his, his thumb rubbing circles on Louis’ knuckles, lets it soothe him as the cart lurches forward. He has to close his eyes when it starts going up, the temperature getting sharper and chillier the higher up they go. The wind plays on his legs, feels comforting on his thighs; he peeks an eye open and sees the Atlantic Ocean looking like nothing more than the old lake in the park behind his house back home and feels a wave of nausea rise up in his throat.
“Harry,” he whines, burying his face into the crook of Harry’s shoulder, “now would probably be a bad time to tell you I’m afraid of heights, right?”
“Louis,” Harry says. “C’mon, look at me.”
“Not too keen on looking at anything right now, to be quite frank with you,” but he still looks up at Harry. They’re at the very top now, and Louis feels his gut performing all sorts of tricks and he thinks to himself, wow, this is it, I’m going to die atop a ferris wheel without ever even having kissed Harry, and then Harry kisses him.
His lips are chapped and cold, and Louis thinks this is already the best kiss he’s ever had in his entire life. Harry kisses deeply and slowly, sensual where it could be nothing more than chaste, and even before he’s got his tongue in Louis’ mouth, Louis has almost completely forgotten where he is. By the time Harry does, Louis is practically twisting in the seat to get at Harry’s mouth. There’s a swoop as the wheel starts turning again, and before he can focus too much on it, Harry bites his bottom lip, quickly soothing the wince over with the gentle swipe of his tongue, and Louis moans, guttural in the back of his throat. They have to pull back to breathe, but that’s only for a quick second, and then they’re back at it again, Harry enticing more and more noises, as many as he physically can. And even though there are two more goes around, Louis can’t be half-assed to give a fuck, because he’s got the solid warmth of Harry’s body, a soft tongue taking apart his restrictions from the inside out, and at this point, this high up, it only feels like he’s flying.
(Louis stops being afraid of heights that day. He stops being afraid of a lot of things.)
Louis goes through too much money and too much time to get Harry a very large and very fluffy bunny from one of the booths. The man in charge keeps urging him on, saying shit like, “is that really all you’re going to get him, come on, man, try bigger and better!” and Louis falls for it, over and over. Harry stands behind Louis with his arms around his waist and his chin on his shoulder, laughing delightedly into Louis’ ear whenever he hands the man another three bucks for two more shots at popping a balloon.
“You’re ridiculous,” Harry murmurs into his neck, pressing a kiss at the junction there.
When Louis finally hands Harry the stuffed animal, though, he beams, all the corners and crevices of his face lighting up, and it’s just - he can feel the difference in weight of his wallet, but with Harry looking at him like that, all proud and fond, he doesn’t regret a fucking thing.
On the Cyclone, Louis is absolutely, one hundred percent positive that he is going to die.
He isn't sure what might have tempted him to go on the roller coaster in the first place, but it's probably demonic possession, when he really thinks about it. Rationally, it was most likely because of Harry's imploring look and the still present fuzzy glow in his chest from the earlier kisses.
The ride is wooden and around 780 years old. There are dozens of turns and loops and drops that remind Louis an odd amount of a horror movie he saw once where an amusement park led the way to hell. He wonders if it's an omen or a premonition, although he thinks they're essentially the same thing, and neither end up too well for him.
"Oh my God!" he tries to shout out, but it ends up sounding more like, "Ahhmmphgar."
There's an upside-down loop, and Louis swears that he hears a creak. He can barely feel the heat of Harry's body next to him this time, but he can feel the Grim's grip on his ankles.
When they finally get down, he stumbles hard into something and there's a sharp ache in his ear where he was hit.
"Lou," Harry gasps out. He looks completely unaffected, his hair beautifully mussed up from the wind, an easy smile on his lips and his eyes bright with adrenaline. "Is your ear bleeding?"
Louis blinks, brings his hand up to his ear, and barely manages to make it to a bin before vomiting.
He's got a rather deep gash in his ear and it's bleeding profusely, the bit of flesh completely gone, but all things considered, he's dealing with it well.
He's made Harry buy him his first ever funnel cake as retribution, and he carries it while Louis holds a bloodied tissue up to his ear. Harry pops a piece into Louis’ mouth, and once Louis has swallowed, he muses, “it’s like you’re my manservant.”
“Jesus,” Harry remarks.
“They call me hell,” Louis sings.
Harry bumps his shoulder and puts his free hand on the small of Louis’ back, guiding him towards the entrance for the karts. Admission to them isn’t included in the money for the all-day wristband, so Louis pays this time, knocking Harry’s hand away before he can take out his wallet after he’s come back from throwing away the rest of the cake.
“Will I die again?”
“No, your feet will have a direct link to concrete earth, so I don’t think so.”
Karting is brilliant. They are the only people there, so they race around the track a few times, Louis winning every time. Louis is grinning when they get down, whereas Harry is pouting and being a very sore loser.
“So,” Louis starts, taking Harry’s hands and walking backwards towards the beach, “what’s my prize?”
“Don’t know. You decide.”
“I want you to kiss me.”
“Oh,” Harry says.
“Oh,” Louis repeats, nodding. “But you’ve got to catch me first.”
He lets go of Harry, turns around and starts running farther away from Harry and towards the water. When he turns around, Harry is still standing there, watching him go. “Well? What’re you waiting for?” he calls out over his shoulder, hoping his voice carries over the seagulls and the waves crashing against the shore. Harry lets out some sort of shout; his legs are so much longer than Louis’ that it’s only an embarrassingly short amount of time before his arms are clasping around Louis’ waist. The momentum is too great, though, and they fall backwards into the sand, Louis using Harry’s body to ease the blow.
“Hello,” Louis greets. Harry grunts.
“I caught you,” he whispers.
Louis isn’t experiencing butterflies. These are bats.
He leans forward, holding Harry’s wrists high above his head, and kisses him. It’s even better than the first time and, God, Louis hadn’t even thought that was possible.
Louis' parents visit mid-May, along with Lottie. He and Harry pick up the rental that had been called for ahead of time, and head for the airport to pick them up.
They’ve talked about their families before, but in a sort of vague, comfortable way, never going too in-depth. Louis knows that Harry’s sister goes to uni in Miami and that he was born and raised in New York and all sorts of weird stuff like his Mum’s (Mom, to him) best dish and the name of Gemma’s first goldfish. To Louis, these seem like the important things. They offer a greater perspective, and Louis feels like he could have an entire conversation with Harry’s family, just from the tiny snippets they distractedly mention in the supermarket, and he really hopes that Harry feels the same.
“Why aren’t the other girls coming with?” he asks. Louis looks at the easy grace of his hands as he turns a sharp corner, the way his fingers tighten around the stick as he changes the shift, and tries to hold in a very frustrated and a very loud breath.
“Mum doesn’t like travelling with them so much. Lottie’s only here because her birthday is coming up and she’s awfully talented at manipulation."
"Wonder who she learned that from," Harry teases.
At the airport, after they've all embraced and Louis has embarrassed Lottie enough with loud exclamations and kisses all over her face, his mum looks at them expectantly, waiting for Louis to properly introduce the tall guy walking too close to just be a friend.
"Mum, Dad, this is Harry. My..." he trails off, not really knowing what to finish it with. He doesn't have to.
"Boyfriend," Harry finishes. He steps forward, shakes Louis’ Dad’s hand and kisses Mum and Lottie on the cheeks. Louis flushes, deep red all the way down to the roots of his feet, and tries not to beam stupidly. He feels ridiculously happy and far younger than he actually is, and it’s nice. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr and Mrs Tomlinson.”
His parents wave him off the formalities, and by the time they’re in the car, have got Harry calling them Mark and Jay. Harry doesn’t speak much on the way home, but when he does, he meshes in perfectly, offering short jokes and bits of input that make Mum smile like this is all she’s ever wanted in life. When they get to the hotel his family will be staying at, Louis gets down to hug them again and promise to pick them up in a bit to show them around.
In front of the hotel’s entrance, Lottie waggles her eyebrows at him.
“Oh, shut up, you,” he tells her, rolling his eyes and ruffling her hair. She ducks and scowls, but refuses to be deterred.
“You’re like a blushing virgin, oh my God, Lou, have you been tamed?”
“I was never wild and I still am a virgin, a role model of perfection and chastity for you to look up to.”
Lottie snorts and adjusts her bag on her shoulder. “He’s really fucking fit, isn’t he, and his mouth.” She smirks and leans in closer to make sure she won’t get overheard and probably grounded for the next fifty years of her life, “and he’s got such very, very big feet.”
“You’re not even sixteen yet, Charlotte, tone it down.” His eyes are sparkling, though, and when he calls out, “but I know, right?” over his shoulder as he walks back to the car, she almost doubles over laughing, and God, but he’s missed her. He’s missed all of them.
They go out to eat their last night in the States, some back alley, low-key place that Harry has been trying to get Louis to try for just about forever. It's dark lit and cozy, and when the waiter comes to get their drink orders, he smiles at Harry with recognition.
"Long time no see," he jokes, and Harry laughs, waving him off and leaning across Louis to help Lottie pick a drink.
"This one's pretty awesome, and it kinda tastes like this one, that one with the vodka, except there's like, negative alcohol."
"That sounds good, yeah.” Harry beams at her and she blushes. Louis thinks, yeah, me too.
He does that for all of them, drinks, dinner, and dessert. Cute little comments like, "Lou said you're, um, working on your cholesterol, so I wouldn't get anything with a star next to it, because all the customer favourites are really unhealthy," to Louis' dad, something about the chocolate cake having nuts in it to his mum and, what the fuck, Louis has only mentioned these things once in passing ages ago.
"Harry, doll, you must eat here an awful lot," Mum says, raising an eyebrow and taking a sip of her cranberry daiquiri. Louis thinks cranberry anything sounds horrid, but Harry had sworn up and down that it’s amazing, and judging by the appreciative look on his Mum’s face whenever she even takes a whiff of it, it must be.
“Um, inadvertently? I work here, sometimes. I’ve taken a break off because of end-of-year exams, but my stepdad owns it so I’m kind of guaranteed a job here.”
“Oh, that’s fantastic!”
“Is he here now, then?” Dad asks. “I’d love to meet him, congratulate him on raising such a nice boy.” Louis suspects that his family might already be absolutely, unironically enamoured with Harry’s very existence, and he can’t blame them, not at all.
By the time their food arrives, he’s positive. Like, he’s always known that Harry is perfect, but he also knew that he’s just the tiniest bit biased, but, God. And Louis’ dated smooth guys before, the kind that could slick up anyone to fall in love with them with the bat of their lashes and an easy smile, but Harry - Harry’s on a whole new level of charming.
Lottie laughs at all his jokes, and his parents ask increasingly invasive questions that have Louis trying to bat them away and Harry only laughing and answering them as best as he can.
“How’d Lou manage to find you, anyway?” Lottie asks. “Did he pine after you for months and months before you finally gave into his advances?”
“Why couldn’t he have been chasing after me?”
Lottie gives him a look, and Louis feels mortally offended, pinching Lottie’s side.
“He wrote me something,” Harry replies. “And I liked it. And him.”
Louis’ stomach hurts, and he takes a bite of his pasta to keep himself from saying something prematurely.
“Can I read it? Was it dirty? I once found a notebook of Lou’s, did you know, and that was probably the day I became corrupt.”
“No, you can’t, Charlotte. Shut up.”
“Don’t be so rude, Louis,” Mum chastises. Louis resists the urge to roll his eyes. Lottie laughs. Louis wishes they still lived together so that he could put body dye in her body wash or report her to the police for drug trafficking.
Dad is giving Harry one of his famous lectures on the grandeur of whiskey and Louis is swallowing down a gulp from his very purple drink when there’s suddenly a large hand on his crotch and he’s choking.
Harry, the shit, pats his back and looks at him with what looks like genuine concern, but Louis knows that it’s everything but. All previous thoughts of Harry being a darling have disappeared and he just wants to punch that stupid face, although fucking him may suffice.
“Sorry,” Louis wheezes when he can catch his breath. “Went down the wrong pipe.”
“You shouldn’t hold it in your mouth, babe. It’s best to just swallow down as it enters your mouth, yeah?” Harry smiles at him, reassuring and helpful, and Louis almost chokes again, on pure disbelief. Harry’s hand is squeezing his cock now, under the table, and Louis can feel himself getting harder with every second he glares up at Harry’s eyes.
The rest of the dinner is torturous. Harry’s hand rubbing circles on Louis’ knee, his palm spread out with his long fingers spanning across Louis’ inner thigh, thumb rough and sure on his dick over the material.
Lottie tries to glance under the table to see what’s going on, what has Louis suspiciously quiet and red, so Louis kicks her in the shins and wordlessly threatens to destroy her life.
They drop off the others at the hotel first and then speed through the streets, cutting through alleys and in front of cars. Louis seriously contemplates roadhead for a few moments except that he suspects that they’d die, and he needs Harry inside of him before that happens.
They don’t even make it up to Louis’ flat. Harry pushes Louis into a semi-concealed crook under the stairs and presses him against the wall, his fingers gripping tight on Louis’ hips, kissing him frantically and without enough oxygen.
“Up, upstairs, we’ve gotta - ” Louis tries to gasp out in between kisses, all the while arching his body forward and digging his fingers into Harry’s shoulders.
“Can’t,” Harry responds simply, and then he’s dropping down onto his knees, pushing Louis’ jeans down under his ass. Louis doesn’t think he’s ever moaned so loudly in his life. Coupled with the way Harry swallows him down to the hilt in one go and the knowledge that shit, fuck, God, anyone could walk past right now and catch them with only the slightest effort, Louis almost feels overstimulated and definitely doesn’t last long enough to find out how the latter would go.
The next day, after Louis’ family has boarded the flight, they’re sat in Harry’s room - their room, now; Louis’ flatmate moved out a month and a half or so ago, and since Louis spent more time at Harry’s flat than he did at his own place, they bunked together to save time and money. It is the best decision Louis has ever made, after coming to America and leaving the letter under Harry’s windshield wiper.
“I have a surprise for you,” Harry tells him.
“Do you, now?”
“Mhmm. Cover your eyes and count down a minute.”
Louis humours him. It only takes half of the minute to hear the door creak, and when he opens his eyes, there’s Harry, and there’s a chair.
Louis’ breath catches.
He moves forward onto the floor to feel the wood, smooth and solid and his. He inhales and means to say, this is your first chair, and you made it just for me, or maybe you’re the best thing that’s ever happened and if I ever lose you I don’t know what I’ll do, but instead he breathes, “Harry,” and that says all that he could and more.
Harry is biting his lips, a nervous air about him. “Check the, the bottom.”
Louis does. Under the chair, carved out in all caps is LIKE CRAZY. Fuck, Louis thinks. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Harry walks closer, joins him on the floor and they just stare at each other for a bit.
Louis licks his lips and whispers, “I love you.” It’s the first time he’s said it, and he feels exhilarated. “Like crazy."
Harry doesn’t say it back, not that very moment, but Louis doesn’t need him to.
Louis graduates in three days.
Naked and post-coital, buried under the covers with their feet tangled, Harry murmurs, “what’re we gonna do once you graduate?”
Louis’ thought about this a lot. It’s something they avoid talking about; Louis knows they can both feel the timer ticking down, another second closer to separation and it hurts, mostly. "I am going to get a work visa and come back as soon as I can.”
“What if that doesn’t work out?”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to always come back to you. I’m not going to leave you.”
Harry blinks. “Promise?”
Louis smiles. “Yeah.”
The ceremony is early in the morning, and after, they go out to the boathouse. A lot of it is a blur; they don’t speak much. They have sex. Harry plays music as Louis writes and runs his fingers through his hair. Harry draws. They sleep. Louis thinks and he thinks and he thinks. It’s tranquil and beautiful, and Louis can feel his bones shattering apart inside of his body.
Harry gives him the bracelet late in the afternoon, while Elvis plays softly in the background. It’s silver and sleek, but the most meaningful thing about it is patience, carved in soft italics across the curved platform. Louis breathes in soft, breathes out slow and Harry continues staring at him throughout.
“Clasp it for me,” he says, voice rough. Harry does. It fits perfectly around the thin bone of his wrist. His throat feels clogged and his tongue feels heavy, and he can only find it in himself to get up to retreive Harry’s gift.
He’s nervous about it, more nervous than he has been about anything in awhile. Harry takes off the wrapping paper and opens it up. Louis watches him bite his lip as he turns over to the second page, watches the small smiles on his face as he skims through the book, the way his eyes water as he bites his knuckles. After a bit, he places the book off to the side and pulls Louis in by the neck, whispers, “I love you,” and kisses him breathless until nothing hurts quite as much.
When Harry comes inside of him for the last time in what could be months and months and months, Louis makes a decision. Harry rolls over to his side, and after catching his breath, Louis says, “I’m staying.”
“I’m going to stay. For the summer. I’ll go home after and get my visa sorted out and then come back after, but for now I’m staying. Don’t try to convince me otherwise because you and I both know it won’t work.”
“Won’t it give you problems with immigration, I. I don’t want this to bite us in the ass later on.”
“It won’t be that serious, Harry. I’ll, we’ll do something, I don’t care, but I’m not leaving you, okay?”
Harry hesitates, but Louis steels his features, and Harry’s never been able to say no to him anyway. He grins, slowly, and replies, “okay.”
Louis stays for the rest of summer, and then he leaves for London. Two months later, he buys plane tickets for JFK, and when he lands, gets put into holding for violations, and it is absolutely not okay.
London is shit.
London is - it's like this: London is where he was raised and where most of his memories are rooted. His friends are here, and he's always expected to want to stay in London for the rest of his life, even if he traveled, because London is classic and energetic and he's never been more in love with a city. There are millenniums of history buried in the concrete, in the arches and domed cathedrals, the geometrics of the mosques and the deafening ring of the Big Ben.
London is brilliant, but London isn't home. Not anymore.