Title: Not Fortune's Fool by Eleadore on AO3
The one where Louis goes to sleep in his X-Factor bunk and wakes up years in the future to discover things have... changed.
Word Count: 3,780
Heh dis one is smutty enjoy;)
Louis can’t sleep.
This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that sleep might be all that’s needed to get him out of this mess. The boys insist it’s one of those twenty-four hour fortune cookie things, and while that sounds better than, say, being the butt of a cruel cosmic joke, midnight’s come and gone and Louis hasn't yet been jolted back into his X-Factor bunk. Liam, who turned into their resident expert on parallel dimension time travel when Louis wasn't looking, is certain he needs to be asleep for it to happen, like his consciousness is giving the fortune cookie gods performance issues, or something. It sounds a bit far-fetched, but it’s not like Louis has got any better ideas, so. Sleep it is.
It’s not coming, is the thing. His room is dark and cool and silent and it’s ten past two and Louis has been lying here for the better part of an hour, buzzed like he’s just downed his body weight in energy drinks. He should be exhausted; he’s spent the day coming to terms with waking up in the future, for fuck’s sake, but his heart is beating somewhere in his throat and his eyes are twitching and Louis—well, it’s not like he doesn't know why.
He’s a good liar, but he doesn't lie to himself. Maybe it’d be easier if he did, if he could pass this restlessness off as the product of information overload, the rattled cogs of his brain trying to process it all, but that would mean spending the rest of the night blinking at the ceiling, and he’d rather not. Nothing offends Louis quite as much as forced inactivity, so he kicks the covers off and cracks his knuckles and makes for the door.
He remembers to shrug on his t-shirt and briefs before he leaves the room, but it’s not like it matters. They've bought off the whole floor, because that’s something they do now, and the corridor is empty, carpet soft under his bare feet. It’s warm here, wherever they are—the boys wouldn't tell him, for what they said was fear of upsetting the delicate balance of the universe but what Louis knows is them being utter piss takers—and it’s enough to make his palms sweat.
Louis tells himself it’s that, and not even remotely anything to do with whose door he’s standing in front of. He knocks before he can lose his nerve, and remembers a second too late that it’s the middle of the bloody night, that Harry doesn't have any messy, unsettling thoughts keeping him awake, that he’s probably sound asleep.
“Hi,” Louis says, and fists his hands in his shirt.
Harry doesn't look as if he’s been sleeping, eyes clear and bright when he drags them over Louis’ body. It takes a second for him to blink and look away. “Hi. Did you, uh. Did something happen? Should I get Liam?”
Louis refrains from pointing out he could’ve gone to Liam himself, had he wanted to. “No. I just wanted to talk. If that’s all right?”
Harry’s smile is lopsided and supremely uncomfortable. “Dunno if we should. I've already let enough slip, the lads might kill me if I spoil anything else.”
“The fabric of the universe hasn't ripped yet,” Louis points out. “A little more can’t hurt.”
“Famous last words,” Harry says, and seems taken aback by Louis’ answering grin. He drops his eyes and laughs a little before backing up. “Come in, then.”
His room is exactly the same as Louis’, but it feels different, somehow. Smells different. The bed’s still made, and there’s clothes hung over the arm of the sofa, shoes stacked near the door. A club sandwich has been carefully deconstructed and left on the dining table to complement an untouched bottle of beer. Louis digs his toes into the carpet and takes it all in, wondering where to start.
Harry’s got his phone in hand and it’s reminiscent of the easy, effortless way he’s been avoiding Louis all day. It makes Louis’ stomach cramp a little with upset, because he’s not used to this Harry, with the careful eyes and half smiles, and Harry’s not used to him: he’s playful with the others, cheeky and affectionate, but Louis makes him clam up, seemingly by virtue of existing. And it’s not that Louis was expecting nothing to have changed, it’s just. They've all grown up, but Harry’s grown away. Louis doesn't recognize him anymore, and the way he looks at Louis—when he looks at all—is somehow more unsettling than Niall’s teeth and Liam’s hair and Zayn’s tattoos and the ten million Twitter followers all put together.
Louis is suddenly, fiercely homesick. He misses his boy so badly his eyes burn with it, but the thought of not knowing what he’s walking into is worse than anything this Harry could throw at him.
So he clears his throat and jumps right in.
“I didn't want to ask in front of the lads. Don’t know if they know, yet. But. Are we still together?”
When Harry finally looks up, his face is unreadable.
“Together,” he parrots, slow like he doesn't bloody well know what it means. As the silence stretches, Louis worries he’s going to make him spell it out, and the thought of saying boyfriends out loud makes his face burn with embarrassment. It shouldn't, because Harry’s the one who insists on calling them that, but that’s his Harry: the soft one, the kind one, the one who’s never made Louis feel like hiding.
He feels like hiding right now, a ticker tape of every mortifying outcome this could possibly have running through his head. He doesn't know how much of it shows on his face, but something must, because Harry drops the phone onto the bed and drags both hands over his face, musses up his hair.
“This is what you wanted to talk about?”
He sounds disapproving, and his voice does funny things to Louis’ insides. “I couldn't sleep, I. I need to know. Please.”
“I don’t think I should tell you,” Harry says, and holds up a hand when Louis opens his mouth to argue. “Don’t think I can, anyway. It’s complicated.”
“Well,” Louis says, as dry as he can make his shaking voice. “That’s not a yes.”
He’s going for a laugh, but Harry’s mouth just twists up the way he does when he’s trying not to cry. It makes Louis’ pulse leap, frantic, but this Harry doesn't cry as easily, or maybe not at all, because his eyes are dry when he looks away. His shoulders are slumped, hands limp at his sides. He looks—sad. It hits Louis right in the gut, and he’s asking before he can wonder whether he should.
“Who fucked it up?”
Harry laughs, short and soft. “Bit of a joint effort, really. You, me, and the rest of the world.”
“So badly you can’t even look at me anymore?”
He can’t keep the hurt out of his voice, and Harry notices. Louis holds his gaze the way he’s been wanting to all day, from the moment he woke up and ran into strangers who looked like his mates, through the panic and the frantic explanations and Harry’s atypical silence. It’s stupid, but he doesn't breathe for fear of breaking it, and it’s not until Harry blinks that he feels the burn in his chest.
“I can’t look at you,” Harry says slowly, “because if I do, I’ll kiss you.”
“Oh,” Louis says, and it’s like someone’s taken off the blinders he didn't know he was wearing, because all he can see now is the nervous twitch of Harry’s hands and the sweat gathered at his temples and the way he’s carrying himself, so careful, like he’s afraid Louis will bolt if he breathes the wrong way. His eyes are bright and cautious and in that moment he’s just Harry, and his. Louis wants to hold him. “Well, all right, I suppose. If you must.”
His delivery is weakened a bit by the way his voice cracks, but Harry just looks hunted, colour hectic.
“Louis,” he starts, and rubs a hand over his mouth, shaking his head. “You can’t be serious.”
“Why not?” Louis feels brave enough to cross over to him, even as the words begin sticking in his throat. “It’s not as if we’ll ever get another chance.”
This close, Louis can smell him, and it’s nothing at all like the deodorant and fresh laundry smell of the boy he’s left behind, far too strong for that, but it still makes Louis’ toes curl and his insides riot. He wants to bury his nose in Harry’s curls, his neck, the tender spot behind his ear, but settles for reaching out and tugging on the hem of his shirt. Harry sways into Louis like he can’t help himself. His eyes have gone dark and unfocused and Louis only resents having to look up at him a little bit, when the view is as good as this.
His mouth is still as soft. Louis shivers and gives in, goes on his tiptoes with a silent curse at whoever thought to give Harry a growth spurt. His neck aches from the stretch but Harry’s kissing him so slowly, the drag of his mouth so slick, that Louis can’t bring himself to care. He pulls back just enough to breathe, and Harry’s mouth catches his chin, the line of his jaw.
“We do this, don’t we,” Louis manages to get out, “this, at least—“
Harry makes a small sound, low in this throat. “Don’t think anyone could keep us from this, Lou.”
“Tell me,” Louis says, and Harry sighs into his mouth, kisses him harder, until they’re both panting for air. “Tell me.”
Harry bites him, quick and sharp on his bottom lip, but says, “when it’s late,” and his voice is shot, so deep Louis feels it somewhere in the pit of his stomach, in the arches of his feet, in his cock. “When we’re too tired to pretend we know any better,” he says, between kisses, “when we’re feeling low, or high, or—when you’re smashed.”
“Me?” The mock affront in his gasp makes Harry laugh, sudden and loud, and Louis kisses his smiling mouth before leaning their foreheads together, hands tangled hopelessly in his hair. “And it’s good. Isn't it?”
“It’s always good,” Harry murmurs, and Louis thinks, yes, because some things should never change. Harry’s hair is tacky with what might be gel, and that’s as new as the ink and the rings and the breadth of his shoulders, but his eyes are just the same, so when he says, “Louis,” like he’s about to stop, when he says, “what are we doing,” and it sounds soft and not very happy, Louis pulls him back in.
“Whatever you need.”
Harry’s mouth twists up in that strange, unfamiliar half-smile. “What I need,” he says slowly, and doesn't say any more.
“Yes,” Louis says, “anything,” and means it. He feels small and a bit silly, trying to take care of this boy he doesn't know, but Louis has never been afraid of looking a fool if it means he gets what he wants. “Just for tonight.”
Harry looks at him, and it’s frightening because Louis has no idea what he’s thinking, what it means when he bites the corner of his mouth like that. Then there are hands sliding from Louis’ hips to the back of his thighs, and he’s being hauled up into Harry’s arms like he weighs nothing, and that’s a bit harder to misinterpret. Louis can’t keep the short, shocked noise trapped in his throat, and his legs wrap around Harry on instinct, ankles crossing at the small of his back.
“All right,” he says, clutching at Harry’s tense shoulders, looking down at him through his fringe, “you got bigger, we get it,” and Harry dimples and jostles him until Louis is clinging to him properly and kissing him hard. He’s got an arm around Louis’ back and a hand on his arse and his waist is so slim between Louis’ thighs, his mouth so hot. “Twat,” Louis mumbles into the kiss, feeling his stomach swoop, “put me down before you drop me.”
“Wouldn't,” Harry protests, but Louis has witnessed him tripping over nothing at all, and he doubts that’s something he’s grown out of. Harry holds him as he climbs onto the bed, and lays him down like that, slowly, so the space between them melts away by inches and the weight of him presses Louis into the mattress. Louis’ legs are still hooked behind his back and he can—feel—
“Got bigger everywhere, did we,” he says, mouth dry, and when Harry smiles it’s that smile, sly and sweet, and Louis thinks he might burst at the seams with affection. And maybe some of it shows on his face, because Harry ducks his head down and presses wet, open-mouthed kisses against his throat, begins to rock against him, slow, slow.
He sucks hard on the spot just below his jaw and Louis shivers, drags his hands down his back. The muscles shifting beneath his palms are as foreign as the way Harry covers him, his low moan when Louis scratches and bites. Bites hard.
“Ow,” Harry says, but he’s flushed and his mouth’s gone slack.
“For being so cold to me all day,” Louis explains, and bites him again, unrepentant. He won’t tell him, because it’s all a bit pathetic, but Louis was miserable without his attention—wilted even despite the spotlight of the other boys’ interest and further still when Harry didn't notice, or pretended not to.
“Didn't mean to,” Harry says, and he looks right at Louis, eyes green and serious, like he knows that’s what he needs. “Just—when I saw you. You don’t know what you looked like.”
“Think I might,” Louis says, trying not to sound like his heart is racing. “You of all people should know how intimately acquainted I am with the mirror.”
Harry laughs, because he always does, even when Louis is being painfully unfunny. His hair is matted with sweat and he closes his eyes when Louis brushes it off his forehead. “Not like that,” he says, more breath than sound. “You were—you looked like. Like the Louis I fell in love with. The moment I fell in love with him.”
“Surely you can’t remember the exact moment,” Louis says, because his mind is too scattered to contemplate the rest of it, but Harry just smiles, and smiles wider when Louis laughs and says, “We aren’t actually in a film, curly.”
“Well, if we were,” Harry says softly. Louis swallows and can’t keep himself from asking.
“And are you—do you still—“
“Yes,” Harry says, and Louis kisses him quiet, because any more than that isn't meant for him.
They kiss until their jaws ache, and Louis’ thighs burn from being spread so long, and Harry’s taste becomes familiar. Louis’ shirt gets rucked up under his armpits because Harry can’t be arsed to help him take it off, too busy sucking on his nipples between pressing sweet kisses to his mouth, so Louis wriggles until Harry flips them and he’s on top, able to explore at his leisure. He saw all the tattoos in the morning, along with Zayn’s and Liam’s, but Harry was stubbornly stingy about them then, and Louis pokes him now until he admits what they really mean, and none of that it’s just a ship rubbish. He decides he likes the birds and hates the butterfly, and narrows his eyes when Harry bites his lip and smiles at that.
“Nothing,” Harry says, and he’s shit at playing innocent, but Louis lets it go, because he’s not sure it doesn't mean he ends up getting a giant insect tattoo as well, and that’s—no. He kisses up Harry’s arm, leaves love bites over the ones he likes, and says, “they’re good on you, but—tell me honestly, Zayn was taking the piss, wasn't he? I won’t believe it until I see pictures, my mum would've killed me,” and Harry just stretches his arms over his head, all dimples and teeth, so Louis has to slide up and kiss him, doesn't even have a choice in the matter.
And when Harry puts his big hands on Louis’ arse and pulls off his briefs and there’s nothing between them but skin and skin and skin, Louis yanks on his curls and demands he do something, says, “have you turned into a fucking tease, then,” and, “Harry,” and, “just touch me.”
Harry does, murmuring nonsense, running his hands over every part of Louis but where he needs it most, and when Louis is just about lightheaded from frustration, he leans up and bites his chin and asks,
“Have I fucked you yet?”
He sounds so casual Louis can’t unstick his throat for long moments to reply, and when he does his voice comes out mortifyingly high. “No,” he chokes out, “not—yet,” and Harry smiles like he didn't see Louis’ cock twitch.
“We’ll save that, then,” he says, “wouldn't want to steal mini-me’s thunder,” and cups Louis’ arse and pulls him up until he’s straddling his chest, cock close enough to kiss. He looks up at Louis through his lashes and moves him higher still, so quickly Louis has to rise onto his knees and scrabble at the headboard for balance. “What do you do? With him.”
“You know,” Louis says, squirming. “Harry, come on.”
So Louis grits his teeth and says, “He—you. You like to suck me.”
Harry grins a little and flicks his tongue out, just shy of Louis’ cock. “Still do.”
“Why don’t you get on with it then,” Louis grumbles, hips shifting, and Harry tuts but seals his mouth over the head of Louis’ cock in a sweet, sharp suck that has Louis pitching forward, gasping, “more,” and, “you can take more, you can take me all the—way—“
Harry raises his eyebrows like he knows what a liar Louis is, but he does take him further, deeper than anyone has before, until Louis feels him swallow around him, the quick flutter of his throat. It has him shaking, so close, and whining when Harry pulls off with a wet pop. He gets a hand wrapped around him almost instantly, but it’s not the same; Louis tries to nudge back against his mouth but Harry tilts his head back and says, “What else?”
There’s nothing in Louis’ head but static, but Harry looks expectant, and like he won’t do much more than hold Louis’ cock unless he gets something out of him, so he says, “you like my hands,” and, “we, uhm, we pull each other off and you always come first and you’re bloody useless afterwards—“ and Harry laughs and says he remembers. “You want it all the time, even when it’s really fucking inconvenient, and you like when I clean you up, and my mouth and my eyes and the way I kiss, Harry, please.”
“Keep going,” Harry says, jacking him slowly, nuzzling the base of his cock, his balls, sucking one into his mouth, “shh, Lou, go on,” but Louis shakes his head no and squeezes his eyes shut, because he’s so close that if he just—remembers, pictures it, it’d be enough—
“Hey,” Harry says, biting the inside of his thigh, “eyes on me,” and Louis jolts back to himself and sees the familiar, possessive furrow of Harry’s brow right before he hauls Louis up and puts his mouth on the sensitive stretch of skin behind his balls and sucks, hard. Louis makes a noise, possibly, but he can’t hear himself over the rush of blood in his ears, the violent thump of his heart.
“We don’t do that,” he babbles as Harry licks over his hole and then in, quick and wet, “we don’t, um,” and Harry laughs against his skin and eats him out until Louis is shaking, white-knuckled and weak, feet cramping with how hard he’s curling his toes. There’s not enough air in the room, and certainly not enough breath in Louis’ body to be able to warn him, so when he comes and Harry pulls back he gets it right in the face, streaks of white over his brow and cheeks and red, open mouth.
“Oh,” Louis says, as Harry tilts his head back and takes it, “oh, fuck.”
Harry licks the cum off his lips and pulls him through the aftershocks until Louis is too sensitive to touch, then leans back and looks at him, just—looks.
“I’ll want that, too,” he says quietly, after the silence has stretched and snapped on the crest of Louis’ unsteady breathing. He rolls them over and kisses him, his forehead and his nose and his mouth. “I’ll want everything with you.”
“Harry,” Louis says, but Harry shakes his head and gets up, says, “be right back,” and Louis watches him head off to the bathroom, still hard, and tries not to know what that unhappy twist of his mouth means.
He’s not hard when he gets back, and he curls up into Louis like nothing’s the matter, face tucked into the curve of his neck and feet tangling together. His hair is damp at the temples and at the base of his skull; he smells like sweat and product and Louis, and doesn't make a sound when Louis wraps his arms around him, when he touches the tense line of his back.
“What changed?” Louis asks, but he means how can I fix it?
Harry’s silent for so long Louis thinks he won’t answer, that he’ll have to go to sleep and wake up wondering for the sake of a universe that’s done nothing but make them this miserable. But he does, and it’s sighed against the soft skin of Louis’ throat.
“We realized we weren't actually in a film.”
He’s going for cheeky, throwing Louis’ own words back at him, but it hits him right in the gut, hard enough to force a sound out of him—a devastated little oh that has Harry lifting his head and saying, “no, Lou, it wasn't your fault,” and, “shh, darling, it’ll be all right,” and when Louis clenches his jaw tight and looks away, he whispers, “you’ll make it all right, won’t you, Lou?”
“Yes,” Louis says fiercely, uncaring of his blurry vision and the way his voice cracks, “yes, Harry,” and Harry smiles like he believes him.