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28 February 2013 @ 04:25 pm
Follow Me Down This Time, part 3  
part 2


The rest of the month passes in a similar vein. Harry does school work in the Quidditch pitch stands while Louis practices. When practice is over and the rest of the team has gone, Harry slips into the changing room where Louis is waiting, hair damp from his shower and foot tapping impatiently.

Harry shuffles him back against the door of the storage cupboard, frames Louis’ body in with hands spread wide over his hips and his feet either side of Louis’. They kiss languidly, with Louis’ head tipped back against the wood of the door and Louis’ hands shoved up the back of Harry’s sweater, nails scratching lightly at skin.

They kiss until their lips are bruised and aching and they have to stop because Hufflepuff has the field next and the team will be arriving any moment.

Louis eats dinner with Harry and Zayn nearly every night, his left hand curled around Harry’s knee underneath the table. Between classes and Quidditch practice, they study quietly in the library, hands clasped between them. They continue to sneak kisses underneath the marble staircase before separating after meals, and it’s wonderful, really it is. Harry has never felt so content in his life. Unfortunately, he’s also never felt this sexually frustrated. Aborted make-out sessions and heated looks, loaded statements and spine-tingling brushes of fingers, and Harry can only make himself feel so good.


One dreary afternoon in November, Harry is on his way to Herbology and not pleased about it - the sky looks like it’s about to open up at any moment, and they’re foregoing the greenhouses this week to work on the edges of the Forbidden Forest behind Hagrid’s hut where he’s started growing the castle’s Christmas trees. He’s trudging down the second floor corridor, past a tapestry of a sleeping dragon, when a hand appears out of nowhere and yanks him into a dusty alcove hidden behind the tapestry. Harry doesn’t shout, but it’s a close thing, and he only relaxes when he sees Louis staring at him from behind a narrow pool of wand-light.

“Merlin, but you scared me. What’s going on?” He tries to look around, but it’s too dark to see much past Louis’ face.

Louis doesn’t respond, just murmurs, “Nox,” and they’re plunged into darkness. Harry freezes, heart still thrumming in his throat from being jerked out of the hallway.

He whispers, “Louis?” and reaches his hands out, feeling for him blindly. A solid weight connects with his chest a moment later, and Harry gasps out in surprise as his back hits the stone wall.

Louis’ mouth latches onto his neck immediately, and Harry’s gasp turns into a moan. Louis shushes him, lips pressed against his skin, and Harry has to bite his lip around another moan when Louis sinks his teeth into the chord of muscle at the base of his neck.

Arousal rolls down his spine and he whispers, “Lou,” chants, “Lou, Lou, Louis,” when he doesn’t respond. Finally, he reaches up to cup Louis’ face and tug him up so he can kiss him properly. Louis licks into his mouth, draws Harry’s tongue into his own and then sucks on it, hard.

Harry whines in the back of his throat, scratches lightly at Louis’ scalp, then whispers reluctantly, “I have to go to class.”

Louis just shakes his head and keeps kissing him. He sinks his sharp little teeth into Harry’s bottom lip, flutters the tip of his tongue against the roof of Harry’s mouth, then seals their lips together firmly so he can swallow Harry’s moan when he works their hips together. Harry is already hard, feels like he has been for weeks, panting and desperate and unable to control the noises he’s making.

Louis pulls back enough to whisper, “Haz, you’ve got to keep quiet,” waits for Harry to nod before ducking back in. Louis curls his hands over the tops of Harry’s shoulders and pulls down until he drops a few centimeters, feet shuffling out so he can spread his legs and tug Louis between them.

They fit better like that, and when Louis presses in again with Harry’s hands on his hips, Harry can feel Louis hard against him through multiple layers of pants, trousers, and cloaks. His fingers tighten on Louis’ hips, then he slides them around so he’s gripping Louis’ bum, pulls him in closer so there’s not a breath of space between them.

Before he knows it, they’re kissing again, breaths panting out between them as Louis shifts against him, hips moving in tight little circles within the confines of Harry’s grasp. This is a bad idea, Harry knows it is, but when Louis loses his footing momentarily and shifts left to catch himself with a hand on the stones behind Harry’s head, the angle changes and pleasure sparks at the base of his spine. He groans into Louis’ mouth, presses down on Louis’ bum with his fingers unconsciously, and Louis gasps, breath coming wild and ragged now as he pushes up onto his toes for better leverage.

Louis drags his mouth down the side of Harry’s neck, latches on to the same spot he’d bitten before, and Harry lets his head fall back against the wall, stares unseeing up at the dark ceiling. He can feel his orgasm building, pleasure coiling sweetly in the pit of his stomach. He tightens his grip on Louis, fingers digging in hard, and Louis gasps, grinds harder against Harry and comes, open mouth pressed against Harry’s collarbone, body trembling against him.

Harry rubs his hands up and down Louis' back in broad, calming strokes, is just about to whisper something about finishing himself, when Louis wedges a hand down between them. He rucks Harry’s robes up around his waist so he can fit his palm around him through his trousers. He presses down with the heel of his hand, rubs his thumb over the head of Harry’s dick through his clothing. Harry is overwhelmed by Louis - the soft brush of his hair under Harry's jaw, the insistent press of his fingertips against Harry's side, the delicious heat of his palm. He comes quickly and with an embarrassing whine, shaking apart underneath Louis' hands.

Louis lets out a shuddery laugh and steps back to let Harry’s robes drop, then presses back in, arms coming up to wrap around Harry’s neck. They kiss quietly and without urgency for a few minutes, the corners of their mouths turned up in small, private smiles, and when Louis eases back, he murmurs, “It was about time.”

Harry tilts his head to the side, hums questioningly when he remembers Louis can’t see him, and Louis elaborates, “Been wanting to do that for nearly two months now. ‘S about time, I was going a bit crazy.”

It’s Harry’s turn to laugh, and he says, “Me, too. There’s only so much kissing you a man can do, you know.”

Louis snorts. “Lies. I am great at kissing. You wish you could kiss me forever.”

Harry bites his lip, heart thundering suddenly in his chest. He swallows thick around the bundle of nerves in his throat, and before he can think better of it, he mumbles, “I would.”

He can’t see Louis, hopes he hasn’t just said too much, too soon, but after a brief silence, there’s the muffled sound of rustling clothing as Louis digs through his cloak for something. A second later, light is flaring at the tip of his wand, casting a pale glow across Louis’ face. Louis still doesn’t respond to Harry’s admission, and they stare at each other for a long moment, cheeks flushed, fringe matted to their foreheads and temples with sweat, before Harry says, “Well, I guess we should -”

“Yep,” Louis agrees quickly, wincing as he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. “Got to go get changed,” he mutters, and Harry smirks a little.

Louis pokes his head out from behind the tapestry to make sure the corridor is empty, then beckons Harry forward. They walk quietly to the top of the marble staircase, then pause there in awkward silence.

Harry shifts his gaze from Louis’ face to the banister of the stairs, to the floor, then to a spot of lint on Louis’ shoulder. He clears his throat uncomfortably. “Well, this is -”

“Awkward,” Louis agrees, eyes meeting, and then they’re laughing, smiles warm and genuine, relief spooling out in Harry’s chest. He reaches out and twines his fingers with Louis’, swings their hands between them and takes a step closer so their chests are nearly brushing.

“We should do this again sometime,” he says, voice pitched low and warm. He tracks the bob of Louis’ adam’s apple as he swallows, then nods.

“Definitely,” Louis breathes. He’s just about to say something else when a door cracks open down the hall, classroom noises spilling out into the corridor, and Louis glances over Harry’s shoulder, says, “Oops, gotta go. See you at dinner, love.”

He squeezes Harry’s fingers with his own, then goes to let go, body twisting away. He thinks better of it though, turns back and fists his other hand in Harry’s hair, drags him into a brief, heated kiss, and then he’s gone, taking the stairs two at a time.

Harry watches him go, hand holding onto the banister in a white knuckle grip. Louis glances up as he rounds the bottom of the staircase, lips pressed together as if he’s not expecting Harry to still be there but is kind of hoping he is. When he catches Harry’s gaze, he breaks into a brilliant smile, eyes going squinty and sharp canines gleaming in the sunlight streaming in through the windows. He taps his index finger to his lips and blows Harry a quick kiss, then turns a corner and disappears.

Harry blows out a heavy breath, slumps back against the wall and tugs his bottom lip into his mouth. He stares blankly at the spot Louis had been standing in just a moment before, until the sound of another door opening pulls him out of his reverie. He shakes his hair out and shoves it to the side, then turns to head for the staircase that will lead him back to Ravenclaw Tower. Herbology doesn’t end for another half hour, but he is in desperate need of a clean pair of pants before he has to get to Transfiguration.

~~

After that, it’s like the dam has been broken. They don’t have any more free time than they had before, but they manage to sneak in alone time together anyway, as often as possible. They shave time off their library studies and cut it dangerously close in the changing rooms beneath the Quidditch stands. Sometimes they sneak out of their common rooms after curfew and meet outside the Prefects’ bathroom, where they hold hands and float quietly in the enormous bathtub, then rut against each other lazily in the sudsy water while the daft mermaid giggles and flashes her tail at them from the wall.

One night, feeling particularly daring, Harry plants his feet against the bottom of the tub and lifts Louis onto the ledge so only his legs are dangling in the water. Louis frowns and shifts on the cold tile, starts, “Harry, what -” but chokes on the sentence when Harry wraps his hand around the base of his cock and his lips around the head.

Harry wrinkles his nose against the soapy taste of Louis’ skin but doesn’t pull off, too wrapped up in excitement and an overwhelming desire to make Louis feel good. The angle is awkward and it’s Harry’s first time sucking someone off, but he makes up for lack of technique with enthusiasm, taking Louis as deep as he can, cheeks hollowing out as he sucks him down.

Louis falls back on one hand and reaches his other hand out so he can press his fingertips to Harry’s cheek, the corner of his mouth, his chest heaving and expression dazed. Harry looks up at him through lowered eyelashes, pride and arousal thrumming through him at the pretty blush that’s spread across Louis’ face and down his chest and the way he’s trembling against Harry’s hand on his thigh.

It’s not long before Louis is tugging on Harry’s damp hair in warning, and Harry pulls off, wraps his hand around Louis in a slippery tight grip. Louis tangles his fingers in Harry’s hair and looks down at Harry’s face, at the hectic flush of his cheeks and his swollen cherry lips, and comes with a strangled groan. His arm buckles and he falls back against the tile, gasps at the ceiling as he recovers.

Harry can’t stop touching him, even though he’s so hard it aches. He runs his hands up Louis’ calves, trails his fingers up the insides of Louis’ thighs, rubs beads of water into the jut of Louis’ hips.

When Louis sits up slowly and slides into the water, Harry shies back, suddenly insecure. But Louis crowds in close, one arm around Harry’s shoulders and the other wrapped around his cock, and when Harry whispers, “Was that okay?” Louis presses a smile to Harry’s mouth and murmurs, “It was perfect. You’re perfect.”


Two weeks before Christmas holidays, there’s another Hogsmeade weekend. It’s not raining this time, but it’s cold enough that Harry pulls on two jumpers and a coat, along with his gloves, scarf, and beanie. He and Zayn meet Liam, Louis, and Niall by the front doors, and as Filch lets them out, Harry tugs his scarf up over his nose and pulls it tight so it won’t slip down.

Louis giggles at him, then tucks his hand into the pocket of Harry’s coat, stares up at the sky. It’s a cloudless day, but the sky is a blinding white, not a spot of blue in sight. “D’you think it’ll snow?”

Harry scowls down at Louis, catches Liam doing the same, but Zayn says, “I hope so!”

“What!” Liam squawks, and Zayn laughs and wraps his arm around Liam’s waist.

“Well, if it’s snowing, we won’t have to work on Hagrid’s bloody trees anymore, will we? If it snowed, I reckon Sprout would let us back into one of the greenhouses. It’s warm in the greenhouses,” Zayn points out helpfully, but Liam doesn’t look appeased, even as he slides a tentative hand around Zayn’s shoulders.

“Warm in the greenhouses doesn’t mean warm everywhere else, though,” Harry reasons. He curls a gloved hand around the back of Louis’ neck protectively and says, “Snow means a cold castle and a freezing Quidditch pitch. There’s still one game before hols! Do you want Louis to freeze his lovely bum off on his broomstick, Zayn?”

Louis beams up at Harry at that, pulls his hand out of Harry’s pocket and laces their arms together, squeezes them against his chest. “You said I have a lovely bum.” Harry watches fondly as he turns to smile at Liam, who shakes his head at him. “He said I have a lovely bum!”

“Well, you do,” Harry says quietly, but he’s smiling so hard his cheeks hurt. He grins down at Louis’ profile for a moment, cheeks rosy from the frigid wind and eyelashes casting feathery shadows across his cheekbones. He turns to look at Niall, who’s humming as he walks and swinging his arms back and forth at his sides like a toddler, then at Liam and Zayn, who are tucked so close together that they keep stumbling a little over each others’ feet, and he’s struck by blinding happiness that swells inside his chest until his heart feels about four sizes too big.

Once they get to Hogsmeade, Niall announces that he needs to buy Christmas presents. Harry agrees, still needs something for his stepfather, so they wander the streets window shopping for a bit, ducking in and out of stores when something catches someone’s eye.

Harry slips into Olivander’s to buy his stepdad a wand cleaning kit and drags Zayn with him, waving the others off. It’s a small store, and tightly packed, the wizard that runs the shop doesn’t need five boys pottering around inside it. Harry is browsing the different cleaning kits when Zayn taps his elbow. When Harry looks up, Zayn is staring out the window to where he can see the other three. Louis is chatting with Liam and Niall, but he keeps glancing in the window, like he’s looking for Harry, ready for him to be done.

“What’s going on with you two,” he asks when Harry turns to see what he’s looking at and his expression goes soft and fond.

Harry whips his head around, eyes wide. “What? You don’t -”

Zayn rolls his eyes. “I know what’s going on, Merlin’s beard, Harry, I’m not an idiot. What I mean is, are you properly dating, or...?”

Harry’s cheeks go pink and he frowns, shifts back and forth on his feet. “I’m...not really sure. We haven’t really talked about it,” he mumbles, and Zayn sighs. Harry’s head jerks up suddenly, and his eyes are even wider than before. “D’you.... do you think I need to buy him a Christmas present?”

Zayn blinks at Harry for a minute, then his lips are turning down into a frown and Harry watches him in confusion as he strides toward the door and sticks his head out. Niall joins them inside a moment later, chafing his hands together to rub some heat back into them.

“What is it?” He asks, looking back and forth between Harry and Zayn. “I don’t really know anything about wand cleaning kits -”

“Does Harry need to buy Louis a Christmas present?” Zayn blurts out. Harry watches Niall’s reaction closely - his mouth falls open and his eyebrows shoot up.

“Ah..... well. You’re friends, right?” When Harry opens his mouth to respond, Niall says, “I mean, aside from all of that. Underneath, you’re friends.”

Harry shifts uncomfortably. They had gone from acquaintances to...whatever they are now fairly quickly, but he nods slowly in answer to Niall’s question. At least, he thinks they’re friends.

“Are you....more than friends?”

“I’m not sure,” Harry says slowly, and Zayn cuts in.

“Like, they shag, but they’ve not called each other boyfriends.”

Harry coughs, embarrassed, and Niall sighs. “Well, I’d say buy him something small, like you would get for a friend, nothing too personal. Unless....” He squints at Harry. “You want it to be personal?”

“Well.” Harry clears his throat nervously. “I mean, I.” He makes a soft, distressed noise.

“He’s been in love with Louis since second year,” Zayn says. “Soppy idiot,” he murmurs fondly as he cuffs Harry on the shoulder.

Harry is just about to say something snippy and indignant at Zayn, the hypocrite, when the door jingles open and Louis pokes his head in. “Oi! What’s taking so bloody long? It’s just a cleaning kit, not the deed to a bloody house!”

With a sigh, Harry turns and grabs a nice looking kit he had been considering off the shelf and goes to pay.

In the end, he manages to sneak into Honeydukes and buy an assortment of sweets for Louis, and grabs extra bags for him to give his sisters as an afterthought. He tosses a large box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans in with the lot for Liam, then slips his purchases into his bag from Ollivander’s so they won’t see it and meets the rest of the lads outside Dervish & Banges. They get a drink in the Three Broomsticks before heading back to the castle, but the whole time, Zayn and Niall’s questions niggle at the back of his mind.

~~

The next week, Harry and Louis barely see each other as Harry studies desperately for his pre-holidays Transfiguration practical exam and Louis prepares for the next Quidditch match. Slytherin is playing Hufflepuff, and Hufflepuff had come in second the previous year and are fighting hard for the trophy this time round. Harry knows because he has to listen to Niall natter on about it every time they’re together. His rants are getting increasingly aggressive the closer they get to the match, and Harry wonders if maybe he should worry a bit for the Slytherin players.

Meanwhile, Christmas decorations are going up all around the castle. Harry gets caught under a sprig of mistletoe with a Gryffindor girl in his Astronomy class one day, and the entire class takes up a chant until he presses a hasty, blushing kiss to her cheek and stumbles off.


His Transfiguration exam goes well. Harry has always had a knack for wand work, and the rooster he’s transfiguring into a peacock comes out beautifully, with deep, rich colors and a high, widely fanned tail. Professor McGonagall even smiles at Harry as he’s leaving, and he’s in a terrific mood as he makes his way down to the Great Hall for dinner, excited about spending time with Louis before they have to leave for the holidays.

It’s Friday evening, and the Slytherin - Hufflepuff match is on Saturday, then Sunday everyone clears out for Christmas holidays. Harry hasn’t given Louis his gift yet, hasn’t even mentioned that he has one for him. He and the lads are having a small pre-Christmas celebration Saturday night after the match, in an abandoned classroom Harry and Louis had discovered one night after curfew. Niall’s managed to nick a load of food from the kitchens, and Louis snuck a crate of butterbeer into the castle the previous week, so Harry has planned to hand his gifts out then.


It snows Friday night and well into Saturday morning, so that by the time everyone is trekking out to the Quidditch pitch, they’re having to trudge through knee-deep drifts. Harry is shivering by the time he, Zayn, and Liam make it up into the stands, but he forgets to be cold once the match begins. It’s hard not to root exclusively for Slytherin, and Harry has to keep reminding himself that he likes the Hufflepuff team, as well, and that Niall is one of his best mates every time they score.

In the end, though, Hufflepuff’s Seeker can’t outmatch Louis, and after several hours of playing, Louis spots the Snitch and wins Slytherin the game by a narrow margin. This time, Harry follows Liam down onto the pitch, pride and affection shining on his face as he opens his arms for a congratulatory hug when Louis spots him. Louis shifts up onto his toes so he can throw his arms around Harry’s shoulders, jittery with adrenaline and happiness, and Harry presses his face into Louis’ neck, not caring that he’s cold and clammy with sweat. Louis clings back, humming happily in his throat, but he can’t stay long, has to go chat to his team in the changing room. Before he leaves, though, he wraps his hand around Harry’s forearm and squeezes.

“I’m glad you stayed,” he says, voice soft and eyes intense. Harry nods, his own eyes wide at the sudden heat pouring off of Louis, his heart thrumming wildly in his wrists, temples, the base of his throat. Louis lets go and walks backward for a few steps, eyes locked on Harry’s, before he turns around and heads off. Harry stares after Louis as he pushes his way through the throng of celebrating Slytherins, watches the top of his head bob through the crowd until it disappears through the doorway of the changing room.


That night, Louis tugs Harry aside the moment he gets through the door of the empty classroom and presses him up against the wall so he can lick into his mouth and kiss him breathless.

“Oi! None of that in here,” Niall exclaims as he walks in, and Louis pulls back reluctantly, a small smirk on his face. He licks his lips, slow and deliberate, and Harry tracks the movement with his eyes, pupils blown wide and breath coming in short pants. He’s contemplating foregoing the party altogether, and just dragging Louis off to the Prefects’ bathroom right down the hall when Liam walks in, the last of their small group to arrive.

Zayn locks the classroom door and casts muffliato on it so that anyone wandering past won’t hear them, then they dig into the food and butterbeer with fervor. Louis sits next to Harry at the desk they’ve all claimed, and Harry reaches out, drags Louis’ chair closer until their shoulders are pressed together and hooks his foot around Louis’ ankle. The smile Louis gives him is blinding, and Harry doesn’t realize he’s staring until Zayn kicks him under the table.

Once they’ve done eating, Harry clears his throat and pushes back from the table, drags a bag out from the corner of the room. He rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably, then says, “I, uh. I got everyone gifts.”

He hands Zayn and Niall their gifts, returns their hugs and presses quick kisses to their cheeks at their promises of gifts arriving on Christmas Day. Liam accepts his with wide eyes and a stuttered thank you, and when he gets to Louis, Louis is watching him, face curiously blank. Harry clears his throat nervously and hands Louis the box.

“It’s just some sweets, I. I wasn’t sure what you’d want, really. I put some smaller bags in there for your sisters, though. Wizarding sweets are quite different from muggle sweets, you know, so. There’s like, Pepper Imps, Cauldron Cakes, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum... I think I tossed some Cockroach Clusters in there, as well. I thought they might like them.”

When Louis looks up at him, his eyes are nearly as wide as Liam’s had been, but his expression is unreadable. “You got my sisters sweets?”

Harry scuffs his heel against the floor and shrugs. “Just thought it would be nice.”

“Yes, that’s -” Louis clears his throat. “Thank you,” he murmurs, voice gone soft, and he sets the box aside and stretches up onto his toes to wrap his arms around Harry’s neck in a hug. Harry clings to him with arms curled tight around his waist, and Louis pulls his head back a few centimeters, nuzzles against the side of Harry’s face and rubs their noses together sweetly. “You’re very lovely, Harry Styles.”

Harry’s hands squeeze Louis’ sides, and he manages to whisper around the lump in his throat, “You’re quite lovely, yourself, Louis Tomlinson.”

When Louis settles back down on his heels, he says, “Harry, I didn’t -”

“It’s alright,” Harry interrupts, not wanting Louis to feel uncomfortable. “I just...like buying people things.”

Louis shakes his head. “No, I just -”

“Really, Lou, it’s fine. I promise,”  He reassures him. Harry turns to look at the others and says, “Now, where’s my butterbeer? I’m not going to bed until I’ve got a nice buzz on.”


Some time after 2am, they’ve all stopped being able to control their yawns, and they decide to call it a night. Louis insists on walking Harry back to his common room, and Harry is too pleased to protest. Before they leave, Niall presses drowsy, affectionate kisses to everyone’s mouths, and then they all pretend not to watch Liam and Zayn say goodnight. Liam hugs Zayn close and sneaks a quick glance at the others before, much to Harry’s delight, he ducks down and brushes a fleeting kiss across Zayn’s lips.

Zayn strolls back to Ravenclaw tower with a dopey look on his face, and Harry and Louis giggle at him quietly, pinkies linked between them. The three of them pause at the door to the Ravenclaw common room so that Zayn can give Louis a quick hug before he lifts the brass knocker, answers the riddle, and slips inside, leaving Harry and Louis alone in the darkened corridor.

Harry shifts awkwardly on his feet, then leans against the wall, hands tucked behind his back. Louis is staring at him, the box of sweets set on the floor by his feet.

“So,” Harry prompts, and then Louis shuffles forward and into Harry’s space, hands clinging to his narrow hips.

“Will you miss me, Harry Styles?” He murmurs his question against the corner of Harry’s mouth. Harry swallows around the returned lump in his throat and nods, clinging wordlessly to Louis’ shoulders.

Louis turns his head then and presses a careful kiss to Harry’s lips, light and sweet, but when Harry moves to deepen it, tries to tug their hips together, he shakes his head and skitters back, bends to pick up his gift. “I’ll see you on the train tomorrow. Goodnight, love.”

Louis shoots a quick glance over his shoulder as he goes, expression soft, and Harry sighs from where he’s still leaning against the wall, watches Louis’ retreating back until the dark corridor swallows him up.

~~

As a Prefect and Head Boy, Harry and Louis are required to spend the first part of the train ride policing the halls. After they’ve switched off with another set of Prefects, they spend the rest of it in a cabin with Zayn, Niall, and Liam, talking and laughing and eating sweets from the food trolley. Louis plops himself in Harry’s lap for the last hour of the ride, and Harry wraps his arms firmly around Louis’ waist and doesn’t let go until the train is pulling into King’s Cross.

Their families are waiting for them on the platform, and Harry chats briefly to Zayn’s mum and dad before moving to greet his own family. They’re distracted, talking to Zayn, when a hand taps Harry on the shoulder. When he turns, Louis is standing there, looking unsure. Harry smiles and grips Louis’ elbow.

“Is that your mum?” he asks, nodding at a woman standing a few meters away with Liam and a man that he presumes to be Liam’s father. She’s small and curvy, just like Louis, with a friendly face, and Harry likes her immediately, even though they haven’t even spoken.

Louis nods, then says, “We’ve got to run. The neighbor’s watching my sisters, but mum doesn’t want to leave them too long, and -”

Harry nods his understanding, then slides his hand up to cup the side of Louis’ neck. “Well,” he murmurs. “I guess I’ll see you in a few weeks, then?”

He feels Louis swallow against the pad of his thumb, and then Louis is nodding. “Yep,” he croaks. “Few weeks. Uh.” He glances quickly back at his mother, but she’s still chatting unconcernedly to Liam’s dad. “Well, then.”

Louis turns back around, then goes up onto his tip-toes, wraps his arms tight around Harry’s neck and presses his face into the curve of his shoulder. Harry curls his own arms around Louis’ back and hugs him close. He can feel Louis blinking, the brush of eyelashes over his collarbone, and he shivers. Louis turns his head, and there’s just the barest press of lips against the side of his neck, and then Louis is drawing back.

“Write to me?” He asks, and Harry nods.

“Of course,” he says, voice thick, hand still resting lightly on Louis’ side.

They stare at each other for an interminable moment, then someone pokes Harry in the side and he snaps out of Louis’ gaze. When he turns, he sees Zayn looking at him knowingly and his mum and sister standing off to the side, watching with open curiosity on their faces. Harry turns back to look at Louis and says, “Hey, do you want to meet my mum and sister?”

Louis’ eyes go wide at that, gaze flicking back and forth between Harry and Zayn and Harry’s mum and sister, and he says, voice panicked, “Oh! Sorry, I. No, I.” He backs up a step. “I can’t, I’ve got to go. My sisters, I.” He swallows, then says, weak and a bit desperate, “I need to go.”

Zayn shoots Harry a wide-eyed, confused look, then wraps Louis up in a quick hug. Once he lets go, Louis murmurs goodbye to them both and slips off to join Liam and their parents. Bewildered, Harry stares after him for a moment, until he feels someone cup his elbow.

“Who was that?” His mother is saying, and Harry swallows, thick, around his heart in his throat.

“Just a mate,” he whispers. When Zayn hugs him goodbye, Harry clings desperately to him and mumbles, “What was that,” into Zayn’s shoulder. Zayn rubs his hands up and down Harry’s back, murmuring reassurances, and presses a kiss to his cheek before letting Harry go. He trudges out to the car park with his family, but throws one last look over his shoulder as they walk away. Louis is still standing with his mother, head hanging between his shoulders. As if he can feel Harry looking at him, his head twitches to the side as if he wants to look back, but he keeps it firmly facing down and Harry leaves with a sigh.


The drive home is long, and Harry is exhausted, hurt, and confused. He passes out as soon as they get out of central London, head lolling against the window, and he wakes up in Holmes Chapel with a crick in his neck, a damp spot on his shoulder where he’d drooled a bit, and an aching heart.

The house is quiet, too quiet for Harry after the bustle of hundreds of students moving about the castle, and he unpacks slowly, sadness settling around him like a blanket. He’s tugging his Transfiguration book out of his trunk despondently when something falls out from between the pages.

Frowning, Harry picks it up to inspect it. It’s a parchment envelope, long and nearly flat, and when Harry opens it, a note slides out. The handwriting is a familiar scrawl, and his heart lurches painfully in his chest.

  Hey Curly,
  I had this for you, but I wanted to give it to you privately.
  Saw this in the shop and thought immediately of you, I hope you like it.
  Happy Christmas, much love,
  Louis xxxxx

Harry snatches the envelope back up and shakes it upside down. Out slides a magnificent peacock feather quill. The dim lights of his room reflect off the rainbow array of colors, and Harry’s breath catches as he runs the quill between his fingers reverently. He picks up Louis’ letter and reads it through again, eyes lingering on the last couple of lines. He wonders what’s changed since he wrote the letter, and his eyes burn a little at the memory of Louis’ stilted, panicky response to Harry asking him to meet his family.

Shaking his head, he pushes himself up off the ground. He sets the quill and letter down carefully on his bedside table, then strides out of his room and down to the kitchen where he can hear his mum and Gemma chatting, and throws himself into the distraction of family.

~~

Harry doesn’t write to Louis. After the bizarre exchange at King’s Cross, he’s not sure Louis wants him to anymore, and he doesn’t know what to say anyhow. Instead, he spends the holidays moping around the house and driving his family mad.

Christmas itself is lovely, at least. He helps his mother cook up a storm, and they don’t head to bed until well after midnight, curled up in the parlor with hot cocoa and a series of Christmas-themed films on the muggle television Robin had set up years ago.

Harry sinks back into a sullen mope soon after, though, and the day before New Year’s, Gemma stomps into Harry’s room without so much as a knock and says loudly, “Get up and get dressed.”

Harry groans from where he’s wrapped up in his duvet like a cocoon and tries to go back to sleep, but Gemma is having none of it. She stalks over to his bed and yanks on the blanket until she manages to pull it completely off and glares down at his sleepy face.

“If you don’t get up now, I will drag you out of bed myself, you lazy arse.”

“Why,” Harry demands, voice scratchy from sleep and disuse.

“We’re going ice skating, and you have no say in the matter.” She starts for the door, Harry’s duvet still clutched in her hands so he can’t curl back up and fall back asleep. Just as she passes through the doorway, she tosses over her shoulder, “Wear two pairs of socks, it’s bloody freezing out!”

Harry stares up at the ceiling for a moment before deciding that if he doesn’t actually get up and ready, Gemma will come back, and he’s not ready to deal with her temper. So he drags himself out of bed and shuffles into the bathroom to make himself presentable for the first time since Christmas eve. He figures he should probably be ashamed of that fact, but he can’t bring himself to care.

He dresses warm, then stumbles downstairs where Gemma is waiting impatiently. Her expression softens when she sees Harry, though, and she tucks her hand through his elbow for the short walk to the frozen pond.

Even though they do this every year, Harry gazes doubtfully at the ice and says, “I’m going to fall on my face the second we get out there.”

Gemma laughs and squeezes his arm. “You know, you’d think that your skill would have improved over the years.” When Harry just glares at her, she sighs and says, “Don’t worry, babe, I’ll hold your hand so you don’t mess up that pretty face of yours.”

True to her word, Gemma holds his hand the entire time they skate, steadying him when he wobbles and tugging him up when he still manages to slip right off his feet. She only laughs a little when he does, tries to fold her lips into her mouth to stifle her laughter, but Harry knows and shoots her a dirty look every time.

By the time they head back to the house, Harry’s bum is sore, but he feels better than he has all break. He curls his arm around Gemma’s shoulders and pulls her close, murmurs, “Thanks, Gem,” into her hair.

Gemma wraps an arm around Harry’s waist and says, “Want to talk about it?”

Harry thinks about it for a moment before shaking his head no. Gemma sighs.

“Well, you know you can tell me whatever it is, right? I won’t even snitch to mum if you don’t want me to,” she says with a pinch to Harry’s side, and Harry squeaks and wiggles away, takes off for the house at a run with Gemma laughing and chasing after him.


That evening, Harry’s mum and Robin throw a small party for their friends. They fill the house with floating candles and turn the Wizarding Wireless Network up so that it drifts through the rooms. Harry plays exploding snap with the children for a while, then a couple of rounds of wizard chess with Anthony Hopkirk, a Hufflepuff the year below him who lives down the road.

A couple of minutes before midnight, Harry slips up to his room and curls up on his bed, runs the peacock quill Louis had given him between his fingers over and over as he listens to the people downstairs chant the countdown along with the radio. He falls asleep at four seconds to midnight, the quill resting soft against his cheek and a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach.

~~

The end of Christmas holidays sneaks up on Harry. Between his moping and his family’s attempts at cheering him up, he doesn’t realize it’s time to go back until the night before, when his mum knocks on his door and pokes her head in.

“Hello, love. All packed?”

Harry frowns at her from where he’s sprawled across his bed, head hanging off the side. “Packed?”

Anne laughs and walks into the room, sits down on the edge of the bed and strokes her hand through Harry’s hair. “We’ve got to leave for London early tomorrow if you want to catch the train.”

Harry sits up, blood rushing out of his head and making him momentarily dizzy. “Tomorrow?” When Anne nods slowly, Harry says, “It’s time to go back already?”

“Babe. You’ve done nothing but mope around this house your entire holiday, don’t you tell me it’s gone by quickly for you.”

Harry drops his gaze to his lap and shrugs. When he doesn’t say anything, Anne sighs and pats his knee. “Come on, I’ll help you.”

Anne fills the quiet room with chatter as they pack, passing things back and forth and tucking them neatly into Harry’s trunk. Nearly done, she watches Harry carefully slide the peacock quill back into the parchment envelope and press it between the pages of his Transfiguration book again. As he sets the book inside of his trunk, he looks up and catches her watching him, her expression soft and worried.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

Harry bites his lip and looks down at his lap, shakes his head silently.

“Harry,” she starts, but he cuts her off.

“I’m fine mum, really. I just miss my friends, that’s all.” He knows she can tell that he’s lying, but she doesn’t call him on it, just stares at him for a moment before sighing.

“Okay.” She leans forward and presses her hand to Harry’s cheek. “Just remember that you can tell me anything, alright?” Harry nods, and she brushes a kiss across his forehead. “Go to sleep, love. We’re up very early tomorrow.”

With that, she stands and walks out of the room, tugging the door shut behind her. Harry flips off his bedroom light, then drops into bed and rolls himself into his duvet, pulls it up over his head. It takes him a while, but he manages to fall asleep, stomach churning nervously at the thought of seeing Louis.



part 4