Warnings: Sexual activity in the same room as sleeping people, ridiculous amounts of sexual frustration and an excessively fluffy ending
Summary: Harry and Louis fall for each other during The X Factor and have difficulty doing anything about it. It feels like it's written on Harry's forehead, if he's honest, and sometimes it's hard to care—sometimes, when Louis's lips travel from his mouth to his cheek to his ear, Harry's knees go weak, and he wants to tell the whole fucking world how that feels, how amazing and scary and fantastic it is for someone to have that hold over you. It doesn't feel like the kind of thing that should have to be kept secret. (~9,000 words.)
A/N: For this prompt on the kink meme, only it got sort of out of hand. Title from Girls Aloud's 'Call The Shots'. Also I wrote this for the kink meme too in case anyone is interested!
He doesn't understand how it happens. One moment Harry is a total stranger and the next, he's become Louis's whole world. The past few weeks have been a total whirlwind and it's already almost impossible to remember Harry as the boy he didn't know, as just another guy he was competing against. It's amazing how close all of them have become, really, but there's something with Harry that feels bigger and brighter, altogether different in a way he can't figure out. And he doesn't have the chance to try, because there is no time to question any of it. The days rush past in a blur of spotlights and screams and camera flashes, rehearsals and performances, interviews and autographs. Even in their small amounts of downtime back at the house, it's never truly quiet—there's always some sort of drama or excitement going on, distractions and the bustle of activity, noise and crowds.
So there's no time to think; there's just Harry, suddenly and overwhelmingly important, a constant fixture in his mind and in his life. He's always there, but somehow it's not enough and Louis aches for something more and doesn't know why, just wants to be close to him at all times. He finds himself intensely aware of the brief moments when they're separated—antsy if Harry nips off to the loo while they're all watching a movie, relaxing when he returns. It doesn't make any sense, how quickly he's become so vital, how suddenly and desperately Louis needs him to be near, and how—somehow—he still seems far away.
He begins to find himself making excuses to touch him. All five of them are tactile people, but Louis gravitates more towards Harry than any of the others. He can barely help it; sometimes it feels like his body moves of its own accord, shifting ever closer, reaching an arm out around Harry's shoulder or pulling him into impromptu hugs. And there's something about the reaction he gets, the way Harry lights up, that makes something warm and eager grow in his heart. Harry welcomes it, and initiates it almost as often, seeking Louis out in the crowds and pulling him close, until Louis's got it all memorised; the lines of Harry's body and the warmth of his skin, the smell of his hair. Things he shouldn't know, perhaps—the particular jut of Harry's hips and the feel of the small of his back, the way he smells a little different when he's feeling under the weather.
They're things he can't avoid learning, he tells himself, living like this, the five of them in each other's pockets all the time—but if he notices the same things about any of the other boys, he doesn't attach any significance to them, doesn't feel that clench in his stomach when any of the others touch him, embrace him, fall asleep on his shoulder in the car. There is something about Harry's attention that he positively craves; he'll act like an idiot just to get Harry to laugh, just to see that stupid grin split his face and his eyes light up. He talks sometimes just so Harry will listen, just so he can feel Harry's eyes focused on him. He doesn't like it in the interviews and the diaries, when they can't just mess about, when they have to focus on something besides each other. He doesn't like it when Liam frowns at him if he and Harry get distracted—which they do, often, giggling about something that's not even funny, something they'll forget in five minutes, something that seems special in the moment if only because they're sharing it; it's theirs.
He talks about Harry too much when he calls his Mum; she teases him about his "boyfriend" and his stomach twists and his face goes hot.
Harry gets sick in their second week, feels like he's going to throw up every time he opens his mouth. He doesn't know where it came from, and he keeps being told it's probably just nerves, probably stage fright, even though he's never had stage fright like this before. And yet there is some sort of anxiety that he feels deep in his chest, and it's so different to anything he's felt before that he doesn't know what to make of it—it's almost easier to call it stage fright, or to say he's gotten ill, because those things are easy and understandable, not new and strange and complicated like it is to feel his heart flutter and his chest go tight when Louis touches him, runs his fingers tenderly down his bare arm like it's nothing or kisses his cheek as a simple thank you.
It's stupid, so stupid, because he does know what it is, he's just pretending to himself, and that's ridiculous—the whole thing is ridiculous, because who the hell likes their new best friend so much that it makes them feel like they're gonna vomit? He feels like an idiot, curling into Louis's every touch like a sleepy cat, wanting to look at him all the time, study his face and touch him too, and it all feels so obvious but it's like he can't hold himself back—the other day they wrestled on the sofa with practically everybody around, Harry pouncing on him for literally no reason other than that he wanted to, wanted to straddle Louis's hips and see how he'd react to being tickled, needed the intense physicality of holding his body down.
When this weird sickness thing starts, it's even worse, because Louis is so worried about him he barely leaves his side, making him cups of tea and bringing him things and checking his temperature practically every ten minutes (and it doesn't help at all to feel Louis's warm palm sweeping his hair out of the way to press against his forehead).
To his immense relief, it doesn't last too long, but he still feels a bit nervous because he's not as confident with the song as the others are, having missed some rehearsals. The others are lovely about it, singing the song at him all the time to remind him of the lyrics. They're always singing, actually, all five of them will always have a song stuck in their heads and go around belting it out in the shower or while making breakfast or during car journeys. Having a specific song to learn makes this all the more common—they're hearing it day in and day out anyway, it's impossible to forget. And so this week they're all warbling Kelly Clarkson wherever they go, which is sweet, and wouldn't be a problem at all except for the way that Louis sings the chorus.
He'll do it at the most unexpected moments, that's the thing, and he'll fix his eyes on Harry and beam at him the whole while, and it makes Harry feel flustered like nothing else.
'Cause we belong together now, yeah, forever united here somehow, yeah—and Liam's already said something about how it's such a great song for them, how he relates to that chorus because of how quickly and easily the five of them have become such great friends, like it was meant to be, and so now every time Harry hears it he thinks of the other boys, and that's dumb enough, so soppy, but then that's that next line, you got a piece of me, and honestly, which Louis will sing with a stupid grin on his face that even the others have noticed.
"Lou's serenading Harry again," Niall calls to Zayn after walking in on one of these performances in the living room, and Louis just laughs and carries right on.
"My life," Harry intones, trying to make it sound begrudging, trying to keep the smile off his face and act like he thinks Louis's being a twat—because he is, and yet somehow it's adorable and it makes Harry's heart swell.
"Withoooooout youuuuuuu," Louis finishes with relish, looking very pleased with himself.
"Yeah, yeah," Harry mumbles, looking at his shoes because he can't fucking stand it anymore.
It's the night after their second performance, and Louis's ended up alone in the bathroom with Harry, the two of them brushing their teeth at the same time. He's still kind of pumped up on adrenaline, feeling something buzzing inside his chest, and the room feels charged somehow—he feels like they're both purposefully trying not to look at one another. He looks at their reflection in the mirror instead, the two of them standing side by side, brightly-coloured toothbrushes sticking out of their mouths, himself in mismatched panamas and Harry in just his boxers. He looks at Harry's bare chest in the mirror, his soft skin, his broad shoulders and those collarbones that Louis wants to bite and his taut stomach and his boxers slung low on his hips. He remembers how he pulled Harry close the second they finished their performance, unable to help himself, how Harry had gone pliant instantly, even nuzzled into his neck for a brief second. Louis had been able to feel Harry's smile against his skin.
He realises then that he's stopped brushing, and his eyes dart back up to the reflection of Harry's face guiltily. His heart jumps when he sees that Harry is grinning around his toothbrush, eyes wicked. Harry raises his eyebrows and then steps forward, leans over the sink and spits. Louis stares at the smooth plane of his back, the curve of his arse, and then shakes himself, pushing forward to spit too. They brush against each other, and Harry's skin is hot, and Louis feels a curling in his belly and goose bumps on his arms and drops his toothbrush in the sink twice before managing to stick it in the pot on the counter.
Harry steps back and he's grinning again—still?—when Louis turns around. They face each other, and Louis can't remember how to smile. Suddenly Harry is close, closer, crowding him against the sink, reaching out to press a thumb to the corner of Louis's mouth. Louis's stomach somersaults.
"You've got—toothpaste," Harry says, then, and his voice is a low rumble that makes Louis go weak. It takes him a moment to even process the words, and then he sees that Harry's wiping away a bit of white foam on his lip, and a little laugh bubbles up out of him.
He tries to say something along the lines of oh, right, thanks, but his mouth has gone slack, his lips parted, the pad of Harry's thumb still there at the corner, and their eyes meet and it's too much, and he keeps thinking this is it this is it over and over until his brain aches, and Harry's eyes are dark with something like want, and they're so fucking close, hips tilted against each other, the feel of Harry's hot skin intoxicating.
And then Louis remembers that the door is wide open. He remembers this because over Harry's shoulder he manages to notice a flutter of movement, activity—people wandering past in the hallway. It's not enough to make him stop this, not with the intensity of Harry's gaze staring him down, but then—
"All right, which one of you lot used all my shampoo?" comes Niall's voice then, loud and sudden, breaking through the low hum of background noise, and Harry drops his hand and moves away—not quickly and not far, just taking a slight step back and turning towards the door, but it feels like he's already miles away and Louis aches to pull him back in.
Niall appears in the doorway, and if he notices anything amiss he doesn't show it.
"That'd be me, mate, sorry," says Harry, striding forwards and ruffling Niall's hair on his way through the door.
Niall just rolls his eyes at Louis, but Louis still can't form words, watching Harry's retreating back.
Things have been stressful enough as they are, but as they reach their third week everything gets more busy, more complicated, and just generally more fucking insane. They can't leave the house without being swarmed with fans and paparazzi now, and it's so mental Harry doesn't even know how to handle it. There's so much to do—they're working on their new song, struggling with it for days and then suddenly Simon decides it's not the right one, they have to switch, and then they'll all so busy and stressed that they barely have time to think, trying to learn and perfect a whole new song in a much more limited space of time. In between, it's interviews and outings and by the time the day is over, all they can do is slump on sofas in front of the TV until their brains wind down and they can collapse into bed, falling asleep pretty much instantly. They're not even talking or messing around as much as they used to—everyone's too tired and stressed, and it's like suddenly it's not fun and games anymore. The whole house feels more tense, like everyone's really buckling down now, really competing.
The whole week, it's only once that he and Louis are alone together. They're in the living room—a bunch of the contestants are all watching mindless TV together when, by chance, everyone else seems to wander off around the same time—to the toilet or for snacks or to head off to bed. It's maybe a two minute window, Harry guesses, before someone comes back, and he can practically hear the seconds ticking past. He's so intensely aware of the fact that this is the first time they've been alone since that thing that happened in the bathroom, that one charged little moment that Harry still doesn't know how to explain. It felt monumental, at least to him, and he wants something like that to happen again and he doesn't know when the hell their next opportunity is going to be—but in a second he begins to doubt himself, realises how rarely they've talked since that night, wonders whether it can be blamed solely on the stress or if maybe he ruined something.
The thought is almost unbearable, but it takes over his brain in an instant and seems to paralyze him. He hasn't even had much of a chance to really think about it in the past few days, but it's true that they've been less close, that Louis has seemed distant and serious. On the outside, he supposes, it might not look like anything—they still gravitate towards each other like they always have—but it seems almost out of habit now, or for comfort; there isn't any excitement in it anymore. Suddenly Harry is terrified, terrified that he changed something, that their relationship wasn't at all what he thought it was, that he has misinterpreted every little look and touch and now Louis is gone forever. Or, really, even worse—that he'll still be here, a constant presence, reminding Harry that he fucked things up, that it's never going to be the same.
They are sitting side by side on the same beanbag, almost in each other's laps, and staring straight ahead at the TV as if they're completely engrossed in the Virgin Media advert that's playing, and suddenly it's painful, the firm warmth of Louis's leg pressed against his, the way he's avoiding looking at him. Harry feels a sort of panic rising in his chest and for a second he doesn't even notice Louis's hand suddenly touching his thigh, fingers stretching out over it and squeezing gently as if in silent reassurance, as if he'd been reading Harry's mind. Warm relief spreads through Harry and he turns to smile, heart pounding when their eyes meet, but then he can hear voices getting louder behind them and footsteps, and they have to drag their eyes back to the TV and Louis has to remove his hand, and Harry feels a wave of sick frustration course through him, making him clench his fists so tight it hurts.
The fourth week feels a lot calmer than the third, right from the start, and Louis is relieved, because the stress was getting to him in ways he didn't expect at all. He realises now how little he was thinking about Harry, how much more he was focusing on everything else, allowing himself to get overwhelmed by it, by the screaming fans outside the house at all hours and the last minute change of song and the pressure of performing. There is still the constant low hum of worry beneath everything, the desperate hope that they won't get eliminated, the fear that at any moment this could all be over. But as far as things between him and Harry are concerned, there has been a return to normality—or at least, their own strange version of normality.
It's strange, though, because while a part of him is relieved, another part doesn't like it. Something almost happened between them, he's sure of it, and then nothing did for a long time, and the way they touch now has changed in a small but noticeable way. It feels more casual, comfortable—his heart no longer leaps every time they brush against each other and he's not sure if it's a good thing or not. It feels like they're settling into something, and he just hopes it's the right thing, hopes that the magic isn't gone—or, if it is, that they can get it back.
It's midweek and midday, and Louis wanders into the kitchen, running a hand back through his hair. Harry is the only other person in there and his heart does a funny little flip in his chest when he realises they're alone.
"Hey," he says, sidling over to where Harry stands in front of the counter. He sees that Harry's pouring water from the kettle into two mugs.
"Hey," Harry murmurs, flashing him a smile as Louis comes closer, leaning up against the counter beside him, their hips almost touching. "Made you some tea."
Harry puts the kettle down and Louis smiles. "Thanks, mate." He leans in to press a kiss to Harry's cheek without thinking, and then suddenly—suddenly Harry's lips are on his, in a brief dry kiss, some sort of misinterpretation of Louis's intention, and he barely has a second to process it before it's over, and they're looking at each other, wild-eyed and bewildered as though it was an accident, something they couldn't control.
"Uh," mumbles Harry, and Louis doesn't know what comes over him—suddenly he's grasping Harry by the hips and pushing him up against the counter, smashing their mouths together again with such force that it almost hurts, tongue pushing between Harry's lips in a frantic and thoughtless sort of way. Harry makes a sound into his mouth, somewhere between a groan and a whimper, and his arms wrap around Louis, and it's good, so good, fuck—they press into one another and Louis's heart pounds and he tastes Harry's mouth and can't stop touching him, all over, hands running up and down his body and then suddenly Harry's hands are on his arse, making him jolt with surprise and grab for the countertop—
There's a sudden smash and the two of them leap apart in an instant, eyes darting down to see one of the mugs lying shattered on the floor in a puddle of tea.
"Shit," says Harry and his voice sounds raw, and Louis is already missing the feel of his body so close.
They don't even have a chance to look at one another or anything, because just then there's a clattering of feet and the entirety of Belle Amie appear in an instant, looking alarmed.
"What was that?" cries Sophia, rushing in first.
"Uh—dropped my tea," says Louis, finding that it takes him too long to remember how to form words and by the time he's spoken they've all seen the mess for themselves.
"The noise scared me half to death," says Esther, stepping forward. "Want help clearing it up?"
Louis's eyes dart to Harry but Harry is looking at the girls and doesn't seem to notice. "Nah, it's fine," he says, "we can manage."
But then all of a sudden, sponges and tea towels are being produced, and the girls are yelling for spare newspaper or magazine pages in which to wrap the broken shards of mug, and Harry and Louis find themselves just kind of standing there, shell-shocked, watching it happen. Zayn wanders in with a copy of Nuts and the girls shriek with laughter, pointing at the scantily-clad girls on the pages they tear out to use, and then suddenly it's like the kitchen is full of people, asking what all the noise is for and if it's lunchtime yet.
And then, just as suddenly, lunch is being made and they're sitting down with everyone else, munching on sandwiches and staring at one another across the table, not even caring if anyone notices. Louis tries to communicate telepathically his frustration, and Harry seems to understand, giving him a significant look in response and a tight nod.
From then, it's sneaking kisses in literally every spare second they have, getting increasingly reckless in their desperation for it. They kiss in the moments in between. One morning, before the other boys have woken, Harry clambers down to Louis's bunk and they have a precious minute and a half of kissing before Niall's alarm goes and the room comes alive, everyone stumbling out of bed, getting dressed or heading into the bathroom. Once, they kiss in the kitchen when everyone else's backs are turned. But mostly it is hidden corners and bathrooms—so many bathrooms, in fact, that Harry is beginning to see them in an entirely new way. Each new bathroom is a potential place in which to make out with Louis, a place to press him up against tiles and kiss him so hard they both get breathless and flushed in the face, a place to frantically neaten up their hair and clothes in the mirrors before hurrying out of their little cocoon and back into the rush.
And it's surreal, so surreal, to be kissing desperately in Simon Cowell's loo one minute, and then discussing American anthems with him the next. It takes so much effort not to show it all over their faces, to keep their eyes fixed on anything but each other for fear of giving it away. It feels like it's written on Harry's forehead, if he's honest, and sometimes it's hard to care—sometimes, when Louis's lips travel from his mouth to his cheek to his ear, Harry's knees go weak, and he wants to tell the whole fucking world how that feels, how amazing and scary and fantastic it is for someone to have that hold over you. It doesn't feel like the kind of thing that should have to be kept secret.
The sixth week brings about the Harry Potter premiere, and even with that, even after meeting movie stars and walking the red carpet, Harry and Louis still find themselves in a bathroom, kissing up against the door to keep it shut, missing a significant chunk of the film and coming back dishevelled and giddy.
Liam gives Harry a sideways glance when he slips back into his seat next to him, but Harry is starry-eyed and oblivious, reaching out to hold Louis's hand in the safe darkness of the cinema.
A couple of nights later, Louis wakes at 1am to his phone buzzing on the floor beside his bed. He reaches out, fumbling for it, still half-asleep, and is surprised to see that he has a text from Harry. He breathes in sharply when he reads the words i want you, caught off-guard, and stares at the text for a long moment, taking it in. This whole thing with him and Harry has been, for the most part, wordless, and it's not just because they get so little time alone and prefer to spend that time kissing, but also because it doesn't feel like they need to talk. Everything comes across in looks, in touches, and it's strange to see the fierce truth of it in stark black letters right in front of him.
The words also send a shiver of excitement through him as he thinks of Harry lying there awake above him in their bunk bed, unable to sleep, wanting. He tries to play it cool, writes back kinda gathered that by now babe and hears Harry's phone buzz a second later, and then the unmistakeable sound of him attempting to muffle his laughter into his pillow. Louis grins up at the slats beneath Harry's mattress.
i meant like now specifically, says Harry's next text, wish we could do something about it.
Louis squirms, biting his lip as he types back, oh yeah? like what? ;)
Talking about this thing between them suddenly doesn't seem so unnecessary. God, he's been so frustrated now for so long, always having to cut their manic kissing sessions short because they have so much other stuff to do and don't want anyone to get suspicious, and it's like being constantly brought to the edge and dragged abruptly back again, never fully satisfied. It doesn't help that Harry keeps stripping off in front of everybody all the time in their room, and Louis has to try really hard to avert his eyes in case the other boys catch him looking. Maybe they can work out some of their frustration via words.
He listens to the quiet sound of Harry tapping the keys of his phone, and by the sounds of it he's going to get a pretty long response, which makes him bite his lip even harder, reaching down beneath his sheets and palming himself through his pyjamas.
Suddenly, Zayn's voice calls out in the quiet of the room, "Who's texting?" He sounds cross and sleepy.
Louis freezes, shutting his eyes tight, and he hears Harry shift above him and then whisper, "It's me, sorry. Mum's checking in on me. I'll stop in a sec, go back to sleep."
Louis's heart takes a little while to return to its normal pace, even after he hears Zayn mumble "alright, 'night," and flop back down onto his mattress. It's always jarring to be brought out of their private little bubble like that, even though it's happened countless times by now. There have been so many close calls and interruptions, and it never stops being alarming. Not to mention annoying.
A little more time passes and then Louis's phone buzzes again, and this time the text says, wait for him to start snoring and then meet me in the hallway?
Louis isn't entirely sure this is a good idea, but replies okay anyway.
It probably only takes about five minutes for Zayn to fall back to sleep, but it feels like a lifetime. Harry quietly climbs down the ladder of the bunk bed, poking Louis in the face with his foot on his way—delightful—and then slips out of the bedroom as quietly as he can, leaving the door open just a little for Louis. Louis waits another moment, praying the others really are asleep, and then gets up and sneaks out too, squinting at Harry in the brighter light of the hallway. Harry grins at him, and beckons.
They creep out to the landing, peering down over the banister. No one's in sight, but they can hear a slight clattering from the kitchen—someone obviously sneaking a midnight snack—and the dull hum of chatter from the living room.
"Fuck," says Louis.
Harry looks around, checking down the corridors before pulling Louis in for a kiss, one that lasts just long enough to be risky, and Louis wants to melt right into it but he can't shake the mental image of someone coming out into the hall and seeing them, and he twists away, hating to have to do it.
But Harry just smirks at him. "Bathroom?"
It's not really the best option—the house is so full of people that the bathrooms always seem to be occupied, even at all hours of the night. But the boys' hallway seems quiet, and so they end up tip-toeing back, slipping into the bathroom and shutting the door tight.
Harry flicks the latch across before pinning Louis up against the wall. He's hard and it takes Louis's breath away; he can feel his erection through the thin fabric of the baggy boxers Harry's wearing and the sudden hot press of it against his thigh makes his own cock stir. Their kiss is frantic and he begins to feel it always will be, because they don't have the luxury of slowing down and they don't have the self-control either; Louis wants to stop and savour this, these few moments of privacy they have because he doesn't know when they'll next get another chance, but in the moment his head is spinning and he can barely take any of it in, it's just body heat and frantic, thoughtless passion.
Harry's lips are on his neck and Louis's breathing sounds ridiculous, the acoustics of the bathroom making it sound odd and echoey, loud enough to wake someone up next door. Suddenly it all comes over him, hits him like a ton of bricks how much he wants this, needs it, aches for it right in his blood and bones, and it's happening, and for a second he genuinely feels a bit faint.
"You okay?" Harry murmurs then, ever so quiet, voice a low rumble in his ear. "You've gone all pale." Louis swallows, looking at him, into those stupid big green eyes full of concern, and then at those lips flushed and swollen from kissing, and he's so hard that it hurts, and his heart hurts too, and it's all too much. This isn't how it should be, he realises—they need time, and peace and quiet, to let this happen at its own pace, building gradually instead of speeding along like a bullet train and knocking them off their feet. It can't be healthy, he thinks wildly, to fall this suddenly and this hard; it's like whiplash.
He realises he still hasn't spoken, and then he realises that a little smile is curling across Harry's lips. "Are you swooning?" Harry says, slyly, openly grinning now, and Louis is helpless, blushing and cracking up, falling against Harry, burying his face in the warm skin of his shoulder.
"I just—" he sputters, "I can't—it's—I just can't wait any longer, I literally can't, I think I'll die." He throws his hands up in the air like he's surrendering to this, all of it, the utter ridiculousness of it. "That's so overdramatic and I don't even care. This is what you're doing to me." He laughs helplessly again, but Harry is sombre, holding him a little more tightly now.
"We don't have to wait anymore," he says, voice low and sending shivers down Louis's spine.
"Well, thank fuck," says Louis, voice a little high, hysterical.
"Yeah," Harry murmurs, smiling again, tracing patterns on Louis's back now with his fingertips, "I don't want you to die."
Louis smiles and Harry kisses him, fingers sliding around to Louis's stomach, toying with the drawstring of his pyjama trousers for a moment in a way that seems almost cruel, an unnecessary dragging out of the proceedings that he's almost certain is deliberate. But then he feels Harry's fingers slip beneath the waistband, and he sighs with the relief of it. He'd thought he might explode at this moment, thought it would be too much, the release of all that tension cosmic and almost unbearable—but when it finally happens, there is just blissful, calm relief.
And then a sudden noise breaks him out of it, and Harry's hand snaps back up out of Louis's trousers in an instant as they both jerk their heads towards the rattling door.
"Shit," Harry breathes.
"You're fucking kidding me," Louis mutters. "Fucking—"
The rattling is followed by a knock. "Oi, who's in there?" comes Liam's sleep-rough voice. "I need a wee."
Louis's heart leaps into his throat. Somehow it's worse, so much worse, that it's Liam and not anyone else. "Sorry!" he calls, heart pounding. "It's me and Haz, just a sec."
There's a short silence and Louis is just waiting for further questions and dreading them. Why are you in there together? Why'd you lock the door? Thank god, Liam is silent on the other side of the door, but the questions hover in the air unsaid. Harry leaps into action, quickly running some water in the sink as some sort of pretence, and Louis sees that his stiffy's gone down already, probably shocked away. Louis tries to will his own away but he can't stop thinking of the way it felt to have Harry pressed up against him like that, the way he was reaching down to take him in his fist, the way that would have felt—
Harry turns the tap off abruptly and then heads over to unlock the door, not looking at Louis, who snaps out of it and follows him, standing behind him in an attempt to cover the bulge in his trousers.
Harry opens the door and Liam is standing there with a look on his face that Louis isn't quite sure what to do with. He can't even explain it—there's just something different about his expression, almost guilty or apologetic, sympathetic but somehow stern as well. He feels like he's seen it before, but he can't pinpoint exactly when, and in a second it's gone and he's smiling at them, stepping past into the bathroom.
"Thanks," he says quietly and Louis notices that he look a bit bleary, perhaps still half-asleep, and he prays that maybe he'll have forgotten all about this in the morning, that it'll just seem like an odd, awkward dream.
They manage just two more days, and by then Harry understands Louis completely—he can't wait any longer, just can't, and though they're getting a bit more time alone with fewer people in the house now, it's still mostly impossible to get longer than five minutes. And what Harry wants to do—well, it'd take more time than that.
So right now, he's wide awake at half three in the morning, and feeling like he's about to lose his mind from sexual frustration. It's not so hard finding the privacy to wank here, because you can use the shower for that—and, he assumes, they all do—but he can't exactly share a shower with Louis without raising some eyebrows, and wanking has started to just feel sad ever since this thing has started, because he knows what he could be doing instead, if only they actually got a fucking opportunity.
He doesn't know if Louis is awake too, but if he's not, the situation is becoming dire enough to wake him up, so he fishes out his phone from under his covers and taps out, want you so fucking bad. can't stand it.
i know. i can't sleep, i'm so hard. The response comes almost instantly and Harry feels a flash of heat between his legs, looking at the words. He remembers how Louis felt the other night, so stiff and hot against him, and his own cock begins to harden.
fuck. i'm coming down there.
you can't you'll wake them comes Louis's obviously rushed reply.
Harry wants to text back i don't even care but that would be a lie—he does, so he puts his phone aside and instead whispers, "Guys?"
No response. He sits up slightly and says it again, louder this time. The room is silent but his heart is still hammering. "Louis?" he whispers this time.
"Yeah?" comes Louis's voice from below him.
"I'm coming down."
"Fuck," comes Louis's whisper back, a hushed sort of groan. Then, "be quiet."
Harry bites his lip and, as slowly as he can stand to, peels back his sheets, shifting towards the ladder. The bed makes a fair amount of noise at this, but no more than it would if he was just tossing and turning in his sleep, so he goes right ahead and slides his feet down onto a rung midway down the ladder. It creaks gently and he hears Louis swear again under his breath, and he waits a long moment, listening to the silence aching with tension, before stepping down another few rungs. Usually he practically leaps off the bed in the morning, not caring about the tremendous bang his feet make when they hit the floor, but now he goes slower than ever and it's torturous, knowing Louis is right there.
His feet touch carpet, softly, and he climbs into Louis's bed without another second's hesitation, slipping under the sheets, Louis sliding aside easily to let him in. He glances back over his shoulder at the other two beds, Zayn and Niall's bunk and Liam's single, and god, this really is risky—the other beds face this one, and Zayn and Niall might have to sit up or lean out to really see anything but for Liam, if he woke up, he'd have a clear view right away.
"We're gonna wake them," Louis whispers, voicing Harry's fears, but even in the dark Harry can see the desperation in his eyes, the way he's worrying about it like it's an unavoidable consequence instead of a reason to stop.
"We won't," Harry promises, and he's not even convinced himself, but the reassurance is clearly just a courtesy as far as Louis is concerned because Harry's last word is swallowed by Louis's mouth, suddenly pressed hard against his and then opening. It's hot and slick and Louis, and Harry almost moans with the relief of it. It feels like it's been so long already and he can't ever get enough, he needs so much more of this. His hand reaches up to cup Louis's face, thumb against cheekbone, and their tongues slide, and Harry feels a hot ache in his chest, his belly, his groin.
They twist and their bodies collide, hips nestled into hips, and Harry can feel Louis's cock hard as steel through his pyjamas, and it's like it lights a fire inside him; he has to bite back another groan, teeth grazing Louis's bottom lip as he grinds his hips forward, gripping Louis's arse tight, holding him close.
Of course, it's not enough—he wants privacy, and the lights on, he wants Louis spread out on a king-sized bed, undone and begging, and all the time in the world. But somehow it's too much at the same time, this cramped little bed and three sleeping (god, please be sleeping, he thinks) boys mere metres away. Just having Louis here, pressed against him, no space between their bodies—it's overwhelming and he feels like he's going to burst with it, with the sheer intensity of the desire, the relief, the joy.
Louis makes a frustrated little noise in his throat that makes Harry even harder, instantly, his erection straining his boxers, pressing now against Louis's thigh. Suddenly Louis's hands are down by Harry's hips, shaky fingers grabbing at the waistband of Harry's underwear, tucking themselves under the elastic, yanking. Harry quickly helps—or tries to, his own hands sweaty and clumsy and rushing, and he barely gets them down to his ankles before Louis is taking him in hand like he can't fucking wait any longer, grasping Harry's length tight in his warm palm, and Harry buries his face against Louis's chest, mouthing at the cotton of his t-shirt, trying to hold it all in.
He needs more. Louis is just holding him, and his breathing has gone all weird and stuttery. Harry tries to thrust up against Louis and tug at the waistband of his pyjamas at the same time. The elastic of Louis's boxers, underneath, snaps suddenly against his hip and the sound rings out in the quiet of the room.
"Fuck," Harry whispers, and when Louis's slightly panicked eyes meet his he almost giggles, giddy and dazed, and a smile creeps across Louis's face too. This all feels so unreal, now that it's finally happening.
Louis pulls back, and the small amount of light coming in through the gap in the curtains hits him differently and Harry sees how flushed he is, warm red in the face. He's moving awkwardly, trying to undress, wriggling out of his pyjamas and then pulling Harry in close again, kissing him hard, one hand sliding round to the back of his neck, fingers stroking at his hair. Their hips collide again and this time it's skin against skin, hot and sticking, and Harry almost forgets how to breathe. They bump against one another, rhythmless and clumsy, and the mattress springs creak quietly.
Harry swears quietly, and then he's pushing Louis onto his back, kicking his boxers off all the way and slithering on top of him, between his legs, and yes, fuck, that's better—
"Lou, fuck," he chokes out, unable to hold it back, their cocks sliding slick alongside another and Louis shudders underneath him, hisses out a breathy shhh and then wraps his arms around Harry's back and pulls him into a kiss to shut him up. Harry feels like a fire's been lit inside him, he's bucking frantically between Louis's legs and Louis is thrusting right up against him, and their kiss is messy, mouths slip-sliding against each other, Harry licking into Louis's mouth and rocking against him desperately. He thinks finally, finally, finally, and grinds his hips down and it feels so fucking good, the hot rub of Louis's dick against his own, both of them sticky-wet with precome.
The bed is creaking; Harry is moving too fast but he doesn't even care, his heart is still in his throat but the other beds in the room suddenly seem far away and it's like nothing could stop him now. Louis's mouth slides down to Harry's shoulder, sucking marks into the crook of his neck, and Harry is startled and can't catch his moan.
Louis draws back and his eyes widen, and then suddenly they're rolling over, Louis pushing Harry onto his back and clamping his hand over Harry's mouth. Harry tries to gasp and makes no sound, gnashing his teeth uselessly against Louis's palm, and Louis just grins wickedly and gives him a look that seems to say, your own fault, pushing up against him at the same time, making Harry's eyes roll back in his head. He gazes up at Louis, at his blown pupils and bitten lips, and he can smell himself on Louis's palm, and he's so fucking turned on that he can't cope. Louis leans down, burying his face in Harry's shoulder again, muffling the sound of his own heavy breathing, and they work against each other, grinding, Harry's hands gripping the swell of Louis's arse so tight he swears he's going to leave marks.
He feels it, knows it's going to happen a split second before Louis hisses weakly in his ear, "gonna come," feels the way Louis starts to lose it, fingers slipping from Harry's mouth, breath catching in his throat, thrusts getting clumsy and erratic. And then he feels the spurt of hot wet, splashing his stomach and chest, and Louis is biting down on Harry's collarbone to keep himself quiet, and Harry's hands are running all over Louis's body like he's in fucking awe of it, because he made him do that, and shit, how is he supposed to handle this?
Louis comes down, and Harry slows down, half-dazed right along with him.
"Keep going, come on," Louis whispers then, his voice raw and breathy, "c'mon, c'mon," he urges, and Harry holds onto him tight and thrusts up against him desperately, feeling his cock sliding through Louis's come now, and that's so hot and dirty and he squeezes his eyes shut because it's too much to look into Louis's eyes on top of it all.
It rises in him, the ecstasy, a hot ache in the base of his spine that twists, swirls, until he feels like he's going to explode—he can feel and smell and taste Louis everywhere and it's so unbelievable, after weeks of torture, tiny touches, nothing anywhere near this fucking good, and he drinks it all in, gluts himself on it, and in that moment doesn't care about a single other thing. The others could wake up, they could all get eliminated tomorrow, it doesn't matter, all that matters is Louis, here and now, rocking gently up against him in encouragement and mouthing at his neck and making him come, in a sudden burst that makes his whole body go tense and tight.
Then the shivers start, and he's trembling uncontrollably against Louis, and Louis is kissing him, and he feels drunk and blissful and exhausted, and everything is soaked and disgusting and they must have been so loud but he can't bring himself to care again just yet.
"You okay?" Louis breathes, chuckling low.
"So much fucking better," Harry whispers, kissing him again, and then Louis slides off him and he shifts aside to make room. "Have you got like, tissues or something?"
"Yeah, hang on." Louis rolls over and fumbles about down the side of the bed for a while, making entirely too many rustling sounds, and then eventually produces a packet of tissues, presumably from the pocket of one of the many pairs of trousers that are strewn across the floor.
They wipe themselves off, and Harry wishes he could just stay here—he feels sleepy and boneless and the thought of leaving Louis right now is intolerable. They lie in silence, cuddling, for a long time.
Then Louis says, quietly, "That was probably a bad idea."
Harry's head snaps round to look at him. "What?!"
Louis laughs. "I mean, because we're gonna want to do it every night now."
Harry hadn't even thought of that yet, but shit, he's so right. He only ever thought about how good it would feel for this to finally happen, not how it would feel afterwards. The idea of going another three weeks without this, now that they know how fucking wonderful it is, is just—Harry wants to hit something.
"This is gonna sound really awful," he whispers, "'cause I still really want us to win and that, but—God, I can't wait til we get out of here."
Louis nuzzles their noses together; an Eskimo kiss. "It's okay. I was thinking the same thing," he whispers back, smiling. "You should probably pop back up to your bed."
"Don't wanna," Harry murmurs, yawning.
"Wanna explain why we're naked in bed together in the morning instead?"
Harry wrinkles his nose, but relents, rummaging around for his boxers and then pulling them back on awkwardly under the covers. There is a sick sad feeling of continued frustration in him, but the high of what they've just done is overpowering it—at least for now—and so he grins cheekily at Louis and kisses him one more time before clambering wobbly-legged back up the ladder to his own bed.
Louis wakes up feeling more tired, but also more satisfied, than he probably ever has in his life.
"Morning everyone," he says cheerily, sitting up and stretching.
"Nice day, innit?" comes Harry's voice from above him and he grins just at the sound of it, knowing Harry must be feeling exactly the same way.
Zayn sort of groans, and Niall says something Louis doesn't quite catch about not sleeping well last night, which immediately makes Louis nervous, but suddenly Liam is asking them loudly if they've seen his blue t-shirt so Louis doesn't get a chance to ask for clarification. Which, he decides, is probably a good thing—this way he can pretend he misheard Niall entirely and all three of the others slept very very soundly the whole night through and didn't notice a thing.
During the day, it's pretty hard to keep pretending nothing happened—literally every time he and Harry make the mistake of looking at each other they end up going all moony-eyed. Then there's the faint red marks on Harry's neck that Louis really didn't think through at the time, but thankfully no one has mentioned them. And then there's the fact that Harry won't stop singing All You Need Is Love at the top of his voice. All right, fair enough, it's their song for this week, but Louis thinks he's being a bit obvious—he's bellowing it out all day, and maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he didn't keep looking at Louis and grinning and winking and various other things that simultaneously make Louis want to snog his face off and crawl into a hole.
At dinner, he makes it even worse, leaning in and murmuring the song in Louis's ear, and Louis elbows him in the ribs, giggling. "Stop, fucking hell, Hazza."
Harry laughs too, adopting a ridiculous innocent expression, and Louis practically has to fight to keep from leaning in and kissing him. The others are right there sitting round the table with them, all politely keeping quiet, but then—
"We do know, by the way, we're not actually that dense," Liam speaks up suddenly, and for a second Louis can't even think what he's talking about because it can't be that, right? He just stares at him, stunned.
Niall laughs awkwardly into his pizza, going slightly pink, and Louis doesn't know what to make of Zayn's total poker face.
"Pretty sure we've known all along, actually," Liam adds like it's totally unremarkable.
The full realisation of what's really happening here slowly dawns on Louis and he drops his pizza crust. He looks at Harry, who has a slightly puzzled yet amused expression on his face. He looks back at Liam, who is smiling blithely—and then Louis looks a little closer and sees that it's really more of a conscious attempt to smile blithely, when really underneath there's something more to it. Liam doesn't really just do things for the hell of it, or do things to make people uncomfortable; he's chosen to say this now for a reason. Louis thinks back to all those stern looks when he and Harry were messing around too much in front of the cameras—he'd always had the uneasy feeling that Liam somehow disapproved, and now he realises that maybe he was just looking out for them, not wanting them to give something away to the public that they hadn't even sorted out themselves yet. And then he remembers that time in the bathroom, that look on Liam's face that seemed so odd at the time and now suddenly makes a lot of sense.
He tries to figure out this new perspective on things, and the idea that Liam knew all along and probably told Niall and Zayn—by the looks of their sort of guilty, apologetic smirks—is sort of bewildering. All this time, the two of them sneaking off into the loos and thinking they were being so sly, so subtle. The others have probably been just as frustrated as they have, wishing they'd hurry up and announce it so they could admit that they knew and get it all out in the open. Louis thinks back to last night, and feels his face go hot at the memory of the two of them rubbing off on each other in the same fucking room as the others. God, did they see them, hear them? Were they all awake, lying there with their pillows over their heads trying desperately to pretend it wasn't happening? Louis really doesn't even want to know.
He looks at Harry again, who grins at him and goes back to his pizza, and Louis can tell he's trying to call Liam's bluff, act like it's no big deal to him either—but Louis can see spots of colour high in his cheeks and then under the table, Harry's hand suddenly grabs Louis's thigh and squeezes, and Louis's not sure if it's panic or reassurance or a mixture of both.
"Just thought I'd get that out of the way, y'know," Liam says casually, finishing off his drink. "Is there any more Coke?"