Louis's only wandered down the corridor, needing to be alone so he can try get his thoughts in order, calm himself down. He's still mad at this frantic urge he has to teach Harry a lesson whenever he disobeys, to really lash out at him, it makes him feel like he has no control and he doesn't understand why it gets to him so much, scaring him and infuriating him at the same time. He left Harry partly just so he could try and get a handle of himself. This was just an experiment, a game, but it's spiralled into something else entirely and he's not happy anymore. It brings temporary relief to punish Harry for his disobedience and he knows that Harry enjoys it but he's just left exhausted and dazed after and Louis misses seeing his face light up, misses seeing that giddy smile he gets when Louis is nice to him. But at the same time there's a part of him that doesn't want to go back, give in; it feels like he'd be letting Harry win and it's stupid, he doesn't want this to be so complicated, it was just supposed to be fun.
He's not sure how long he's been gone but it's only been a little while, more than five minutes but probably less than ten. He just can't figure out what he wants to do when he goes back in there. What if Harry's disobeyed him again, on purpose, just to rile him up even more? What if he's still exactly as Louis left him? Louis clenches his fists. He wouldn't know what to do with either scenario. He usually feels so sure of himself with this, he knows what to do, and he's never taken anything further than Harry could cope with. But what if the reason this has turned into such a mess is because Harry can't cope? It's so weird for Harry to act out like this, Louis didn't even think he was capable of it, and it must mean something, he's not just being a little brat for the sake of it.
Louis wonders if Harry's trying to send him a message and he doesn't get any further with that thought before he's basically sprinting down the corridor back to his and Harry's room, shoving the key card into the slot with such force that he nearly snaps it. It's still dark but he can tell that Harry has moved, crawled under the covers, and there's a sound from the bed, a sort of snuffle that has him instantly panicked, his heart rising up into his throat. He shuts the door behind him and flicks on the dim bedside light before climbing into bed beside Harry.
He leans in gently. "Haz?" he whispers.
"I'm so sorry," Harry gasps out, and Louis realises that he's crying, his voice thick and shaky with it and his nose blocked.
"Haz, no," Louis says, shuffling closer and pressing a kiss to Harry's exposed shoulder. "Babe, it's okay—"
Harry suddenly changes his tone, the weakness of his voice turns into something harsher. "It felt like so long," he says. The guilt churns in Louis's stomach and he feels sick. Harry rolls over now, and Louis can see that his eyes are red and puffy, his cheeks stained with tears. "Why did you do that? You can't do that," he says, urgent now, "just—don't, okay, don't leave me again."
"I won't," Louis promises instantly, nuzzling to kiss Harry's shoulder again, hugging him close. "I swear I won't. I won't."
He holds Harry tight and lets him cry, knows he needs to let it out, and mumbles reassuring nonsense at him, apologising over and over and telling Harry how much he loves him until Harry calms down a little. Louis is beginning to put the pieces together in the back of his mind, seeing how with each kind word Harry relaxes a little more. But then—
"I can't do this," Harry blurts out, pulling back. "I can't...Lou, I, this is—it's not working, I need—"
"What, babe? What do you need?" Louis still feels nauseous, just seeing Harry like this, knowing he fucking caused it and there's this feeling nagging at him, that this isn't all just from tonight, that this is something that's been building and that it might not be something they can recover from. "Talk to me. Please. I'm so sorry."
"I need you to—" Harry starts, and then breaks off again, trembling, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes to try and ward off more tears. "I need your—attention," he gets out eventually, and everything clicks into place.
Of course that's what matters the most to Harry, of course it's all about Louis, the way Louis reacts to the things he does—that's why he does whatever Louis says, to please him, to get Louis's approval and praise. And it's why Harry's been acting out, Louis realises, just to get some kind of attention even if it's negative. It seems so blindingly obvious now that Louis feels fucking stupid not to have figured it out.
"God," he says in a small, stunned voice. "Fuck. Harry. I'm—I'm the biggest idiot on the planet. I'm a dick. I didn't even realise what I was doing to you."
They've never even talked about this, just fell into it without discussing why it got them off—it didn't even cross Louis's mind before now, it was just fun, and it made them both so happy that he never felt the need to analyse it. And they've always just been on the same wavelength until now, so in tune with each other that Louis never imagined he could go too far, could really hurt Harry like this.
"We should've talked about it. Shit, why didn't we talk about it?"
"'Cause we're both idiots," says Harry, and thank god, he's smiling a little now, his face sort of distorted with his cheeks still puffed up from crying.
"You don't hate me? Haz, you can totally hate me, I promise," Louis says. He still can't believe he could be so insensitive to take away the one thing Harry loves most in the world, just because he was fucking bored.
"I don't hate you," Harry tells him, tugging him closer, kissing him softly. His lips taste salty. "You just don't think things through sometimes. A lot of the time."
"I know," Louis whines, "I'm the worst."
"No, I like that about you," Harry says right away, "usually, it's good, you're spontaneous and it's exciting but it's—this is—"
"Something we shouldn't be spontaneous about," Louis finishes, his heart still feeling like a boulder at the bottom of his stomach somewhere. "I know. Fuck. I'm so sorry, Harry, let me be sorry, okay? Don't tell me it's okay, because it's not."
Harry bites his lip, and Louis can tell he wants to reassure him but—they both know that Louis is right, that Harry will forgive him (might even have done already) but it won't ever make Louis's actions acceptable.
"Why did you do it?" Harry says in a small voice, and Louis wants to—wants to cut off his own arm or something, to show how truly awful he feels about this, about seeing Harry in this state.
"God, I don't—I don't even know, I just—it was the way you reacted, you just—you kept trying so hard and, I don't know, it felt good, seeing you really straining yourself to please me like that."
"I kind of liked that too," Harry admits. "Like—until I realised it was pointless, I mean. But I—I don't mind having to work harder to make things good for you because—" he drops his voice lower, rolling over and nuzzling into Louis's chest, "because you deserve that."
Louis's heart flips and he reaches out, tangling his fingers in Harry's damp curls. "But only if you get something in the end, yeah?"
"Yeah," Harry says, and Louis can feel his breath hot through his t-shirt. "Yeah that's—that has to be there, I have to know that I'll get something out of you—even if you, if you punish me, that's okay, if you think I haven't done a good enough job that's—but you can't—you can't just ignore me, I can't handle it."
"No," says Louis softly, understanding that now, holding Harry so tight and so close to him, tangling their legs together beneath the covers. "I swear I won't ever do that again." Harry breathes out, steady and slow, and Louis pets at him. "I love you. You're so good. I—I shouldn't have taken you for granted like that. You amaze me every day." Harry sort of shivers with pleasure at that, snuggling against him, burying his face in Louis's neck, and Louis thinks about how much he must have been needing this. Louis's missed saying it, but Harry has definitely missed hearing it even more. He thinks of how harsh he's been, how there was barely any sweetness to balance it out, and he feels sick again, stroking at Harry's back.
"Even when I was ignoring you too?" Harry asks.
"Well—" says Louis, hesitantly, and then laughs, a little awkwardly. "No. That, um. That really pissed me off." He feels guilty admitting it right now, doesn't want to say anything bad against Harry when he's feeling this fragile, but Harry doesn't seem to mind.
"I could tell," he says, voice a low rumble; Louis can feel the vibration of it against his neck. "Why?"
"No, I mean—it doesn't matter, it's not—I'm not blaming you, you were right to fight back, I was hurting you," Louis assures him.
"But why did it bother you?"
"We don't have to talk about it, Haz," Louis says. He doesn't want to imply Harry did something wrong, not when he's like this. "It's just me being weird, I felt like you were forcing reactions out of me and it made me feel like—like I wasn't in control anymore. It's stupid."
Harry pulls back, looking Louis in the eye as he shakes his head a little. "Why do you need to feel like you're in control?" he asks, and he's not mocking or concerned, just curious.
"I—I dunno," Louis says, caught off-guard by the question. "I never thought about it."
"Well, why do you tell me to do things?" Harry presses.
Louis laughs, feeling awkward again. "I dunno, Haz, I just like it. Why do you like doing what I say?"
"Because I like doing things for people. I like making people happy," Harry says simply.
Louis knows what he means. Harry's a people-pleaser, always putting the needs of others' above his own. He'll go out of his way to make fans happy, giving them food and water at signings when they feel faint, and taking photos with them even when they've been camping outside his house like stalkers. Anne once told Louis that when Harry's home and she's had a bad day at work, he'll run her a bath and cook one of her favourite meals for her, even if he's been busy all day too.
"It's like. It's really important to me. It's like my favourite thing," Harry goes on and he's gone quieter now, introspective. "And you're my favourite person. So I just...like doing things for you. Whatever you want. It feels good."
Louis goes silent for a moment. It seems so simple when he puts it like that, and he says it so clearly like he just knows, and Louis doesn't—Louis doesn't feel like he could ever understand himself that well. "But why do you need my attention so badly?" he murmurs, wondering if Harry knows that as well.
"So I can see how happy I've made you," Harry explains. "Or that I've disappointed you or...whatever, really. It shows that you care about me."
Louis chews his lip, thinking. "I guess that's why I like telling you what to do," he says, "because...you do it and you like doing it and that shows that you care about me."
"And also it gets us both hard," Harry teases then, breaking the tension, poking Louis in the ribs.
Louis laughs, squirming. "That too," he says, feeling his cheeks heat up, and it's silly, because they've both known all this time that this is something they're turned on by, or it wouldn't have bled into their sex life as well. But it's different to admit it, especially to hear Harry say it so shamelessly. They lie there in silence for a bit longer and Louis's brain feels like it's whirring. "The control thing...that's not...I haven't always had that. I think just since I met you, really."
Harry looks at him, considering. "D'you suppose that's because like—you have less control over your life in general now? Because of the band, and other people controlling like...us, and our relationship?"
Louis almost wants to laugh, because in a couple of sentences Harry's got it spot on when Louis was at a total loss. "What else do you know about me that I don't know about myself, eh?" he teases, pressing his nose into Harry's neck, feeling a little exposed by how well Harry can read him, how easily he can figure something like that out when Louis's barely even spoken about it.
"Oh, everything," Harry chuckles. "But you'll learn in time."
Louis laughs. "Creep," he mutters, voice muffled against Harry's skin, and he kisses him gently on his collarbone, snuggling close. "Haz," he says quietly, "we're okay, right?"
"Yeah," Harry replies, right away, holding Louis to him more tightly. "Yeah, things will go back to normal, we're gonna be fine. Better, I think."
Louis lifts his head to look at him. He seems so much better now, and Louis realises just how badly he needed his reassurance and caring; it must have felt like such an incredible relief to him after going so long without it. "And you're sure you're all right? You don't—do you need anything?"
Harry smiles, touching their lips together in a soft kiss. "Just this," he says.
The next day, Louis is so good to him that Harry can barely take it—it feels overwhelming after the way things have been, a rush verging on an overdose; he's not sure he's ever felt so happy in his life. Louis barely leaves his side, whispering sweetly in his ear all day long. They have an interview and when they're each asked to state their favourite things about the other members of the band, Louis says twice as much as anyone else when he describes Harry. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek and he does hold back a little—not wanting to add to the rumours—but even so Harry is blushing by the end of it, listening to Louis wax poetic about his hair and dimples and cooking skills while the others shoot them concerned, bemused looks.
In the car after, Louis sits so close to Harry he might as well be in his lap, and whispers addendums all the way to the photoshoot. "Wanted to talk about how good you always smell, too," he murmurs, and Harry squirms, cheeks aching from smiling, "and the way you sound when you come. And when you beg. And how good your mouth feels around my cock, how pretty your lips are, how red they go when you've been sucking me off. And..."
Harry is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when they get to the studio; he can't sit still properly for them to do his hair and make-up and in the mirror he can see how flushed he looks, how dark and wide his eyes have gone. Louis just keeps at it, praising Harry over and over, for how well that suit fits him, how good his poses are, and the photographer has to tell Harry about six times to stop grinning like an idiot.
When Louis has dragged himself away from Harry for a couple of minutes to go to the loo, Liam comes over to Harry and says, "I'm glad you two have sorted things out," with a wink.
Harry elbows him in the ribs, tells him to shut up, but still he can't stop smiling.
There's no show tonight and no early morning appointments tomorrow, so they have time when they get back from dinner for Louis to spread Harry out across the bed and take his time with him, though Harry barely needs it, so revved up from a day full of Louis's attention that he's shamelessly grinding up against Louis's thigh the moment Louis lies him down.
"I love how eager you are," Louis tells him, kissing his neck, "how badly you want me."
"Mm, please Lou, really bad," Harry whimpers, still rubbing himself desperately against Louis, just waiting for Louis to hold him down or tell him to stop, but Louis is just mouthing gently at his throat.
"What do you want?" Louis asks him, breath hot on Harry's skin and Harry shivers, puzzled by the question.
"You," he says.
Louis laughs but he looks—almost embarrassed, somehow. "Yeah, but, how?"
"I don't—" Harry says confused, "I don't mind, whatever you want." Louis looks Harry in the eye, and he looks so unsure all of a sudden, like he's lost some confidence. "Lou," says Harry gently, "you can—you can still tell me what to do, I—I love that."
"I just want this to be about you," Louis says after a moment's hesitation, "I wanna do the things that you want, because—because I was doing things that you didn't and I just—"
"What I want is for you to boss me around," Harry reminds him, grinning and biting his lip, "I don't like choosing." Louis laughs, shaking his head.
"All right. Yeah. Sorry. Just—"
"I know. I get it." Harry tilts his chin up and kisses him, licking hot into his mouth until Louis relaxes a little; Harry can feel the tension loosening.
"Let's take our clothes off, yeah?" Louis murmurs then, sitting up, and his voice is a little shaky and it's really more of a suggestion than a command but it's good to hear, anyway, and Harry springs into action immediately to encourage him, yanking his shirt over his head.
When they're both undressed Louis flattens Harry across the bed again, spreading out his limbs and pinning him to the mattress by his wrists. Harry is breathing heavily, gazing up at him, and Louis settles between his legs, making Harry moan at the hot nudge of Louis's hard cock against his own.
"Want you like this," Louis says, "so I can see you. Wanna see your face when I make you scream."
Harry can only whimper at that, and lift his hips a little off the bed to try rub against Louis again, needing the friction. Louis's grip tightens on Harry's wrists and he bites out, "Don't move," and Harry instantly goes still. "Good boy," Louis breathes, and a smile instantly starts twitching at the corners of Harry's lips.
Louis smiles back at him sweetly, straightening back up and running his fingers ever-so-lightly down from Harry's chest to his cock, making Harry shiver. Louis's fingers dance over him, and the tiny touches are making Harry tremble. He struggles not to move, not to buck up against Louis's hand, having to work so hard to keep his hips down.
"You're so good," Louis tells him, "so good, look at you, so still for me."
"Yeah," Harry breathes, greedy for the praise, wanting more even though Louis's been giving it to him all day long. "Yeah, Lou, wanna please you."
"You do, babe," Louis assures him, finally taking a firm hold of Harry's cock, fingers curling tight and making Harry groan. "All the time."
He strokes Harry roughly, only dampening his palm a bit with Harry's precome because he knows this is how Harry likes it, when it drags a little. He can't seem to take his eyes off Harry and it's making Harry hypersensitive, somehow overstimulated just from Louis's fixed gaze because he looks so—so in awe of Harry, and that's the best feeling in the world. Harry makes him want to look like that all the time.
Louis leans back down over him and Harry clings to the sheets with the effort it takes not to touch him, not to wrap his arms around him and hold him close. Louis keeps tugging at him, hand trapped between their bodies, and presses his lips close to Harry's ear. "Gonna fuck you with my fingers 'til you're begging for my cock."
Harry whimpers again. "Please. Want it."
Louis laughs softly, his breath tickling Harry's ear. "Already! You're so good, Haz." He kisses Harry's neck again and this time he latches on, and Harry startles, not expecting it—lovebites from Louis are one of his favourite things in the world but Louis rarely gives them, too anxious that someone will see, sticking to hips and thighs and never Harry's neck anymore. Harry bites his lip and moans at the feeling, at the knowledge that Louis is marking him like this in such an obvious place, and it—it feels like a reward, a gift, and he almost comes all over both of them at the thought.
Louis pulls off and Harry's neck throbs a little, his pulse quicker with the blossoming bruise, and he's a babbling mess now—"Thank you, thank you, oh god, please, Lou, your fingers, please, need you in me, want your cock, please—"
"So polite," Louis teases, stroking Harry's hair gently, smoothing it back off his sweaty forehead.
He clambers off Harry and shuffles over to the edge of the bed, getting the lube from the nightstand, and Harry makes a grateful noise. He forces himself to keep still, waiting while Louis slicks his fingers, impatient but willing to wait for as long as Louis wants to make him. Luckily it's not long at all; Louis might want to tease tonight but he can't, just as hungry for it as Harry is. Something about this feels so right, the way they're just clicking now like they haven't been lately. There was something about the challenges and the excitement of things before that Harry enjoyed, but this is what he really loves, knowing the two of them are on the exact same page, and he's just so thrilled to have that feeling back.
When Louis presses one finger inside Harry, he starts talking again, telling Harry how good he feels, so hot and tight and perfect around him, how he can't wait to feel him around his cock, and Harry is flushed and aching for it, Louis's finger crooked and stroking persistently, feeling so good already. Louis slides in a second finger quickly, stretching Harry wider, working them slow and steady and shallow.
"You can take another one, can't you, darling?" Louis murmurs softly, and Harry can't help but squirm at the words because Louis calling him that always just does something to him. Louis pushes a third finger alongside the other two and Harry moans weakly at the look on Louis's face; he looks so pleased. "Yeah, look at you just taking it, looks so good, Haz, fuck. Push back on them, yeah? Show me—"
Harry complies right away, eager for it, shoving down onto Louis's hand and feeling his fingers slide deeper, right up to the knuckles. He moans, needing to feel Louis's cock there.
"Gonna fuck you now, yeah? Really hard like you love," Louis says, leaning down over him to kiss his temple, nuzzle into his hair, and Harry can only lift into it, just nodding now, losing the power of speech. Louis's fingers are still working in and out and Harry can feel their cocks touch again and he's a mess, wriggling without rhythm just trying to get more, more of everything. Louis takes his fingers away suddenly. "Stop it," he says, and he's getting that harsh tone back in his voice, the one that sends sparks running through Harry's veins, "stay still."
Harry freezes right away even though is body is aching to keep moving, to feel friction inside him and against his cock. Louis kisses him again and presses a thumb to the lovebite he left before, sending a little dull jab of pain through Harry and he moans, head dropping back against the pillow. Louis moves back down, leaving kisses all the way along Harry's torso and pausing to take just the head of Harry's cock between his lips and suck, sudden and hard, making Harry cry out. Louis looks up at him, eyes flashing wickedly, and then he pulls off, grabbing for the lube again to get his cock wet, and Harry watches as Louis strokes over it, makes it shine. He wants it inside so bad and his heart is pounding with the anticipation of it, knowing he's going to get to feel it soon and have Louis's eyes on him the whole time.
"Spread your legs," says Louis. Harry's already got them kind of carelessly splayed but he knows what Louis wants, bends his knees and opens them wider so Louis can settle between and lean in close. "Around me," Louis says then and Harry obeys again, wrapping his legs around Louis's waist.
The first hot slide of Louis's cock makes Harry cry out, loudly—the feel of it breaching his tight hole feels somehow so much better than usual and Louis is staring right into his eyes the whole time and it's almost too much. Louis immediately covers Harry's mouth with his hand and Harry moans out a stifled yes, loves it when Louis tries to shut him up like that. Louis thrusts in deeper, murmuring dirtily to Harry about how he's opening up for him, how he's making Louis feel so good, how pretty he looks when he's taking Louis's cock.
"So good, aren't you, babe?" Louis whispers, easing out only to plunge back in again all the way and Harry's cry is once again muffled against Louis's hot palm. "So good at getting fucked, yeah? Taking my cock so well."
Harry nods, staring into Louis's eyes, half-dazed now, just gazing into the sparkling blue as Louis starts to pound into him, increasing the pressure of his hand on Harry's mouth so Harry feels slightly breathless, Louis's cock hitting deep and fucking into him fast, hard. Louis hasn't given him a chance to get used to the usual slight ache of it, knows Harry likes it better that way, when it hurts a little. Louis takes his hand from Harry's mouth and repositions Harry's legs, gets them hooked over his shoulders instead of wrapped around his waist. He can get in even deeper like that and Harry can feel it everywhere, hear the harsh slap of skin on skin.
He wants this to go on forever, but already he's close—this is what he's been deprived of for what feels like so long now and now that he's got it again he's not sure he'll be able to hold on, make it last. His cock is rubbing persistently against Louis's belly, a constant rough drag, and Louis's lips brush against his, teasing.
Harry is lifting his chin up to him, wanting more. "Lou, I'm—think I'm gonna—"
Louis just nods and kisses him, light at first and then properly, messy, his tongue hot in Harry's mouth. He breaks off, just to tell Harry again how good he's being, how much he loves him, and Harry's pushed closer to the brink by the words, gripping handfuls of the bedding as Louis fucks him relentlessly hard, not letting up, getting him closer and closer. He alternates between soft encouragement and kisses all the while, until Harry can't take it anymore and loses it, spilling hot between them, whole body tensing then shaking and Louis holds him through it, telling him how much he loves seeing him come and pressing his lips to the mark on Harry's neck.
Harry squirms helplessly; it's all too much—and then Louis backs off, drawing out of him and flattening Harry's weak legs against the bed again. He straddles Harry's stomach, careful to avoid his cock, and starts stroking his own, hand gliding so quickly over himself that it's practically a blur. Harry is still seeing stars but when he realises Louis is going to come on him he gathers his senses enough to begin begging again—Louis likes to come inside him, usually, but Harry loves this more, loves it when his chest or back gets striped with Louis's come like Louis is marking him with it.
Louis's other hand comes down to cup Harry's face, caress him, and he's still talking, the constant praise making Harry light-headed. The last words he gets out are so beautiful and then he's coming, streaking across Harry's chest and right up to his neck, and Harry finds himself just grinning, inanely, so happy that it almost hurts, and Louis is stroking over his dimple with his thumb, hardly waiting to get his breath back before he starts telling Harry how perfect he was, what a good job he did.
They go slow for a while then, gradually building back up to the way things used to be, and Louis can't help but be a little overzealous with his praise now that he knows just how important it is to Harry and how hard it must have been for him to go without it. One afternoon on the bus, Louis tells him to get him a can of Sprite from the fridge and when Harry trots back with it obediently, Louis pulls him close and presses a kiss to his neck, right on the lovebite he gave him, which almost makes Harry's knees buckle.
"You," Louis announces, grinning as he flicks the can open, "are the best boyfriend in all the world, you know that?"
"Steady on," snorts Zayn.
"Yeah, changed your tune a bit lately, haven't you?" Niall grins.
There's a knowing tone in his voice that unsettles Louis slightly—he knows the others have all noticed something odd but Niall is acting like he might know more than Louis is comfortable with. That evening they go out for drinks and when Niall brings Louis a pint and Louis just says thank you, Niall gasps, mock-offended.
"You mean you're not gonna tell me what an amazing boyfriend I am?" he pouts, and Louis thwacks him on the forehead with a menu.
Even when they've re-adjusted, things just don't feel quite right with him and Harry. It's as though something's missing, even though they've gone back to the way it was before, and eventually Harry suggests that maybe they should talk about it some more, that period of neglect and punishment that Louis just tries not to think about because it still makes his heart ache with guilt.
"I mean it's not—it wasn't all terrible," Harry reminds him. "I liked the challenge, you know, like I said? I like the idea of having to work a bit to make you happy and it just feels kind of—easy, now," he admits. They're having the conversation in hushed tones in Louis's bunk on the bus, the others all asleep.
"Yeah," Louis whispers, thinking about it. "Yeah, and—well, you know I like pushing you."
"And I liked it when you punished me," Harry murmurs, cuddling closer to Louis and dropping his voice a little lower, and a shock of heat runs through Louis as he remembers slapping Harry's arse raw and choking him with his cock. It still bothers him to think of how Harry wheedled that out of him deliberately but—in the moment it was so hot he could barely handle it. He really wants that again.
"Me too," Louis says, mostly into Harry's hair. "I could—I could do those things to you when you're good, though."
He can feel Harry shaking his head. "No, like—part of it was about wanting to make it up to you. Feeling like I had to be better."
"God," Louis moans. "Don't say stuff like that, you're gonna get me horny."
Harry laughs and then stifles the sound in Louis's chest so they don't wake the others. "Maybe you could give me stuff to do that I won't always be good at," he says, then, thoughtful. "Like—setting tasks, sort of. And if I do a good job you can reward me but if I mess up then you can punish me."
Louis swears under his breath. "That sounds really good, Haz."
"Yeah?" Harry says happily.
"Yeah. But—you're not allowed to fuck up on purpose, okay? And I won't punish you just for refusing, you have to try," says Louis, and Harry nods. "Wait, but—I mean, you can refuse, though. Like—please don't ever do something you don't want just because you want to please me, okay? You can always say no and I'll stop."
Harry chuckles. "Obviously. I know that."
"Yeah but we've—we've never said it," Louis persists. He pulls Harry's head back to get him to look at him. "Promise me you'll say something if you're uncomfortable with whatever, from now on."
"Good," says Louis, and Harry's head sinks back down, pillowed on Louis's chest. Louis toys absentmindedly with his hair, fingers playing through it. "So what kind of tasks are we talking?" he asks after a moment of silence. His mind is already overflowing with possibilities, flitting from one suggestion to another at top speed.
"Anything," Harry breathes, right away, pushing closer with his hips, and Louis feels that he's hard, cock stiff and pulsing against Louis's thigh.
Louis's heart pounds. "I want—so much." He's never thought of it like this, never really thought about all the different things they could do, they just got caught in a routine and he never considered trying anything new, not like this. Once again he feels so stupid, that his first instinct when he got restless was to ignore Harry when there was a whole world of other things he could have done, amazing things, things Harry might actually like.
"I'll try all of it," Harry insists, and Louis's getting hard too, mostly from Harry's enthusiasm, his cock swelling under the covers.
"Fuck," says Louis weakly. "Let's—can we start with me getting you off right now without you making any noise?"
Harry nods, catching Louis's mouth in an eager kiss, and—well, it turns out they're not exactly successful with that one, but that just means that Louis gets to keep stroking him after, until it hurts and Harry is squirming and burying his face in Louis's shoulder and, finally, begging him to stop.
"I think—" he says then, panting, his eyes teary and the sheets sticky around them, "I think this is gonna work."
It does. Even better than Louis expects.
He never realised how much more they could do onstage, for one thing. The entire Twitter questions segment is perfect for tasks and he realises how easy he goes on Harry usually, telling him to do the same old Niall impersonation that he's basically perfected by now. Louis's new favourite thing is to get Harry to imitate him, because Harry can't quite get the Yorkshire accent right and he's never been very good at things that involve mocking Louis in the first place. The audience just laughs when Louis fixes Harry with an unimpressed look afterwards and says, "Well, that wasn't brilliant, Harry, was it?" but the way Harry hangs his head and immediately gives a heartfelt apology probably looks a little more odd.
Louis never realised he could have more fun with the lyric changes, either. He starts making them dirty, rather than ridiculous things about cereal and shoes, and he says them in Harry's ear only moments before the corresponding verse comes up so Harry is on edge waiting for the instruction. Every time, Louis waits for an "I can't say that!" to follow the shocked look, but it never comes—Harry always listens, nods, accepts it. In the past sometimes he would mumble or slur and Louis would cheer and laugh anyway, but now he can be more strict. Now, if Harry doesn't sing it loud and clear, or if he chickens out at the last second, Louis can give him a slight shake of the head or wrinkle his nose to let Harry know he's not happy. He feels a bit bad about it, because he's hardly surprised that Harry's embarrassed to sing about dicks and deepthroating in front of thousands of young girls, but the way he goes all brooding and determined like he's desperate to make it up to Louis later makes it all so good, so worth it. In private after, Louis will punish him, pulling him over his knee for a spanking, and Harry will promise to do better next time.
Louis comes up with so many things for Harry to do, likes it best when the tasks are a little bit embarrassing, when Harry will have to push himself through the humiliation of it because he wants to make Louis happy. Louis sends him down to the vending machine in their hotel one night, telling him to get him a snack but to go shirtless. Harry makes a fuss about that one, whining about how there might be fans.
"They all know you love getting naked," Louis points out, and Harry argues something about context but when Louis asks him if he wants to back out, he just shakes his head and gets out of bed, pulling on his jeans and leaving the room, in just them and nothing else. He comes back empty-handed and apologetic and Louis would think he was pretending, doing it on purpose, but he can't fake the bright flush of embarrassment across his cheeks.
It turns out there were fans and some of them had cameras, because the pictures are up on Sugarscape the following morning, but Louis wouldn't know there was a legitimate excuse from the way Harry basically grovels for his forgiveness. They keep that one up for a while—once Harry succeeds, Louis makes him go without trousers the next time, in just his shirt and boxers, and then finally in his boxers and nothing else. Luckily, both of those times the nearest vending machines are much closer, and there aren't any eager fans waiting around to take snapshots, but Harry is still pink and flustered when he gets back to the room, clutching Louis's requested drink or packet of crisps tightly. Louis showers him with praise, kissing his red cheeks until they cool and telling him how gorgeous he is when he's embarrassed. He picks out Harry's outfits every day for a week as a reward.
There are so many things he wants Harry to do in bed, too. He wants to tie Harry up, which makes Harry nervous, but he obliges, gets through it without panicking and gets a lovebite sucked purple beneath his collarbone in return. He takes both Louis's cock and one of his fingers at the same time, and Louis comes on his face for that because Harry's been begging for weeks and Louis's been waiting for a time when he's earned it. The rewards are so much more frequent than the punishments because Harry's just so good, trying so hard for Louis, really pushing himself. They talk about it often, Louis checking in to make sure Harry's not putting Louis's pleasure too far above his own comfort.
One morning Louis decides that he doesn't want Harry to talk for the entire day, and Harry goes along with it. Their only commitment that day is one interview and Louis explains that Harry's got a sore throat, is on vocal rest, which is bought by most people but not the other boys, who are bemused at Harry's silence and apparent lack of illness. That night Louis lets Harry scream as loud as he wants even though Zayn's right next door and they've already discovered that the walls are pretty thin, and then Harry's throat is sore the next day, his croaky voice adding some convenient authenticity to the lie.
One of Louis's favourite things is to experiment with controlling Harry's orgasms, trying to see how many times he can make him come, or if he can come just from Louis inside him without touching his cock at all. Occasionally he tries to get Harry to come three times in a night and whenever he can't manage it, Louis withholds orgasms for a few days, only letting Harry get him off and leaving his erection neglected and aching. He loves how hard Harry tries, the way he'll strain his body, desperate to make it do things it can't quite cope with.
The first time Harry comes without a hand on his dick is fucking amazing, it's like Louis is pumping the come right out of him with his cock and he kisses him 'til their lips are bruised after, won't stop telling him how special he is for about a week. Niall gets so desperate to know why that he actually asks, and Louis is so proud of Harry that he tells him. (Niall's response is some stunned blinking and then no more questions about their sex life for a really long time. Which isn't actually that long, because it's Niall, and he's a nosy bastard.)
What Louis really wants is for Harry to be able to come on command. He does everything else Louis says, and it just—Louis wants control of that, as well, wants to be able to make Harry orgasm exactly when he tells him to. He thinks about it for a long time before mentioning it to Harry, because it's hard to explain without making him sound like a total control freak, though he knows Harry won't judge him. It feels so good to talk about these things with him, to know exactly how Harry feels about a task, and sometimes they get each other so excited just talking about something that they end up getting off before they've even had a chance to do it. When Louis gathers the courage to bring up this new idea, Harry is immediately turned on by it, going wide-eyed, telling Louis how hot it makes him to think of Louis having such power over his body like that.
But it's difficult, seems impossible at first, and Louis is kind of bitter and frustrated because he thought it would be pretty easy; the two of them are so in tune with each other and over the years they've had to rush a lot of sexual activity, had to come quickly, and this doesn't seem that different. Harry is equally frustrated—when Louis tells him to come he wants to so badly but his body won't co-operate.
Harry accepts the punishments eagerly when he fails, swearing he'll do it next time, letting Louis slap him across the face repeatedly or fuck his throat 'til he cries. And then Louis will gather him up in his arms, reassure him of how good he's being, how amazing it is that he's trying so hard, how he knows he can do this and he has so much faith in him and he'll get there, he will, eventually. The combination of discipline and reassurance really works for Harry, and one time he actually comes at the exact moment that Louis starts to tell him to, and Louis is thrilled because it's the closest they've gotten so far. Harry refuses the praise, though, saying he doesn't deserve it, that it was coincidence and he knows he can do better if they just keep trying.
It's—kind of overwhelming, how determined he is. Louis knows it's not just about pleasing him, because Harry is so into this idea too, but what he's into is the idea of Louis having even more control over him and the thought of that makes Louis feel giddy sometimes. It's a little weird now that he knows why he likes it so much, now he's aware that to some extent it comes from a place of self-doubt, an urge to be shown just how much Harry loves him through what he's willing to do for him. It makes him feel vulnerable, sometimes, but it's reassuring that Harry is the same, that his desperation for Louis's attention comes from a pure and simple need to know that Louis cares.
Finally, Harry succeeds. It's after Louis hasn't let him come for a whole week, so it's probably partly the pent-up frustration that does it, but Louis's pretty sure it's also got something to do with a slight change of tactic. He's been commanding it all this time because he just slips into that naturally, it's easy to snap out a sharp, impatient "Come, Harry," because Harry usually responds so well to harsh demands. But he's been thinking lately, about how much they both need each other, about how reliant Harry is on Louis's love for him, and this time he decides to do things differently.
He's got Harry on the edge of the bed, and he's wrapped around him from behind, his own cock pressing hot into Harry's back but left ignored so he can focus on Harry's. Harry has his hands on the bed, Louis reaching beneath his right arm so he can take a hold of Harry's cock, jerk him off at just the right angle like Harry's doing it himself. He's so desperate for orgasm that Louis knows he can't drag this out too long, so he makes his first attempt after only stroking at him a few times, hand tugging quick and steady.
He hooks his chin over Harry's shoulder, mouths at his neck. "Love you," he mumbles against his skin, and Harry moans and Louis can feel it in his body, how close he is. Spurred on, he murmurs, "Wanna see you come, Hazza, need it. Come for me—"
He's about to go on, but he doesn't need to, because Harry is suddenly going taut up against him, hips jolting as he comes and comes over Louis's fist, writhing until Louis wraps an arm around his middle and holds him tight and still.
"Oh, my god," Harry pants out, "Lou, I did it."
Louis beams, pleasure curling through him as he kisses Harry's shoulder. "You did it."
He's never felt more proud of him, his heart swelling, and it's clear that Harry's never felt more proud of himself either. He's so excited by it that he's hard again in mere moments and Louis lets him ride him, stares up at him and won't stop telling him how proud he is, how happy he's made him—and how much fun they're going to have with this, because Louis is already thinking about training Harry to get even better at it, so he can do it every time, so all Louis has to do is get him hard and whisper and it'll just happen.
When Harry says he's getting close again Louis urges him on, voice soft as he tells him to come, calls him darling just for the hell of it and Harry comes almost instantly at the word, with a shaky cry and a blissed-out smile. Louis lies him out and comes all over his face, painting his cheeks and smearing it over his mouth, and then holds him down and covers him in lovebites, for once not giving a shit about how much trouble it's going to cause. A lot, as it turns out—Harry has to use industrial amounts of concealer and button his shirts uncharacteristically high for more than a week, but he's so happy that he doesn't care in the slightest. Both of them are stupidly euphoric, joined at the hip even more than usual, and Louis feels like he could burst from all the love inside of him.
He doesn't know what it is exactly, that feels so good, and he tries to think about it because Harry's been encouraging him to understand why they both like the things they like, so that Louis is smarter about it, so there isn't a risk of them fucking up again. Maybe that's it—maybe it's just the way that their relationship feels so much stronger. The way they managed to take such an awful experience and turn it into something positive when at the time, Louis was afraid they might never come back from it. And maybe it's the way Harry has given Louis the kind of control he's been craving for so long without realising it, and how he's done it so happily. It finally feels like they're what they should be, what Louis naively thought they already were but couldn't be before, not when there was so much they didn't understand about each other. There will still be discoveries, maybe more conflicts, but Louis knows that they'll be able to handle them now. They can handle anything.