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Harry is standing at the end of the hallway, staring in front of him in slight horror.

The hallway is busy with students. There are some people standing in small groups, talking or laughing. Some are rushing to their lockers or classrooms. Harry gulps, about to go to his locker when someone comes from behind him, shoulder bumping against his, causing him to take a step forward.

"Watch where you're going!" The boy sounds angry, glaring at Harry for a few seconds before walking away.

Harry sighs, finally feeling brave enough to go to the hallway. He is surrounded by other students, feeling slightly claustrophobic in the crowd, pushing his way through a group of people to get to his locker. He takes a few calming breaths, getting his next period's books, thinking it's just another day of high school he needs to survive from.

 

He knows the correct answer. No one in the class is raising their hands and Harry wants to. He doesn't though, knowing the comments he would get. He is scared of being wrong, being laughed at and at the same time, he is scared of being right.

It's best to stay quiet, he has learned. No one can pick on him if he is invisible, mute and sort of scentless, too. Like a wallflower.

"Harry? Do you know the answer?"

He knows he has to answer. He can't lie to his favourite teacher, Mr. Thompson, who teaches history which happens to be his favourite subject. He carefully clears his throat, aware of his classmates stares.

"1945."

"Freak," he hears a familiar whisper, heart aching in his chest. He tries to ignore it, watching his teacher nodding and smiling at him.


 
During a longer break between classes, he doesn't bother going to the hallways or the school lobby where people normally hang out. Instead, he makes his way downstairs, hiding to the toilets. There's no one there and he sighs in relief, going to a stall and sitting on the toilet seat, lifting his legs up.

While waiting for the break to pass by, he texts his sister. She doesn't answer which is really not a wonder, she's busy in uni and never texts back if she's in a class. Life is shit, Harry thinks to himself. He's not even eighteen and already, his life is a disaster. He doesn't really have friends anymore, he has a few he could probably call to and ask them to hang out but they go to a different school. In his school, he doesn't have friends.

Which is the reason why he has to hide in the toilets during the breaks. He has social anxiety and being alone in the busy school lobby is just embarrassing and makes him panic. Eating lunch alone in the school cafeteria is another thing he isn't capable of doing. He has only done it once, in the beginning of the school year, and it was the biggest mistake of his life.

He remembers it clearly. He started to panic, it felt like everyone was staring. He was sitting alone in the middle of the cafeteria like the freak he is, and people picked on it. He panicked and rushed off, definitely getting even more attention by doing so.

People think he's a freak. Everyone already had friends when the school year started but he didn't. He had it bad in his old school which is why him and his mum decided to put him to a different school at the beginning of the year. Harry thought it was a new start. It wasn't. It was the same hell but this time, it was even worse.

 

"Afternoon class."

"Afternoon Mr. Wilson."

It's the last class of the day, geography. Harry wishes it'd go by quickly because he is exhausted and wants to go home already. There's nothing he wants more than to go home, make some coffee and go to the backyard to drink it. He plans on curling under a blanket, maybe reading a book while enjoying his coffee.

Three more months left of school, he silently reminds himself.

"We have a partner project coming up."

It's his worst nightmare. They don't do group things often anymore but occasionally it does happen. Last time they did a partner work in biology, they had to write a paper. It was horrible. Harry remembers, there were uneven number of students in the class and of course, no one wanted to partner with him. The teacher ended up half forcing a pair to take him with them and at the end, the two made him write the paper by himself.

"I'm going to choose the partners," the teacher then says.

It makes Harry relax a little. It's better this way, he thinks. He can only hope he won't end up being partners with one of the people who bullies him. There are a few in the class that have been picking on him in the past and he'd hate to end up being partners with one of them. In fact, he'd rather come naked to school than be partners with a bully.

The teacher starts calling names and much to Harry's relief, the worst two people get paired with each other. He hopes he would get paired with one of the nice girls who sit in the front of the classroom and who have never said a bad word to Harry. They've never talked to him in general but it's much better than them mocking him.

"Harry? Your partner is Niall."

Harry doesn't know Niall. He looks around the classroom, spotting a blonde haired boy on the other side of the room looking at him, nodding his head somewhat awkwardly. Harry knits his brows, turning his eyes away. He starts wondering who Niall is, he doesn't recognise the boy at all. Then again he doesn't pay much attention to his classmates, only to those who mock or bully him, really.

He gets lost in his thoughts, wondering what kind of person this Niall is. He wishes he would know more about his classmates but how could he, when he never interacts with them. Mostly, he tries to be like he doesn't exist, minding his own business and hiding from bullies.

"Hi?"

Harry raises his head, eyes widened in fear. Niall is standing there, looking slightly awkward, holding his book against his chest.

Harry doesn't understand what is happening until Niall takes the seat next to him, dragging the table closer to his. He realises they're meant to start working on their projects, looking at the white board. He has completely missed the teacher explaining about the project, quickly reading through what the text on the board says.

"Two weeks everyone!" Their teacher then says.

Harry realises the project is a bigger one and he starts panicking when he realises they need to do it outside school. There's no way they're going to sacrifice their class hours for it, Harry knows the teacher would never do such thing. He needs to work with Niall outside school and even the thought causes him to feel anxious.

"So, I'm Niall. You're Harry, right?"

Harry realises his new partner has an Irish accent. He hesitantly turns his head, looking at the stranger in the eyes, nodding carefully.

"Do you have any country in mind?"

"What?" Harry asks before realising Niall's talking about the project.

"Right, no," he quickly corrects himself, mumbling the words out.

He wants to ask if Niall knows a country, thinking maybe they could do the project about Ireland. The project's idea is to gather information about a country and made a presentation, and since Niall seems to be Irish, he probably knows tons about Ireland already.

"We could do the project about Finland."

"Finland?" Harry raises his eyebrows, questioning the choice.

"I did an exchange year there. Well only a semester, came back this January," Niall keeps an eye-contact the whole time he's talking and Harry blushes, turning his eyes away. He also realises it's the reason why he doesn't recognise Niall, he's only been back for a month so it's no wonder Harry didn't know him.

"Okay," Harry remembers to answer.

"So you're cool with Finland?"

"Yeah."

"I'll go tell Mr. Wilson."

And with that, Niall has rushed to the front of the class. Harry sighs, partly from relief for getting a minute to himself. He needs to calm down, he feels anxious and uncomfortable. He really, really hates group projects.

"How are we going to do this?"

"What?" Harry turns his head to look at his partner.

"The project. How are we going to do it?"

"Right," Harry breaths out. His brain feels like jelly and he curses his anxiety for making him slightly light-headed. He always finds it hard to focus and anxiety seems to make him more dumb, his brain just doesn't function normally whenever he's feeling anxious.

"I don't know. We should – we should plan it. Like, think what stuff we need," he manages to make some sort of answer without stuttering.

"Yeah. At least, fuck, hold on."

Harry watches Niall opening his notebook and searching for an empty page. He then pulls out a pen from his bag and that's when Harry realises Niall's a lefty.

He shamelessly watches Niall as he begins to write something down. His hair is blonde but the roots are brown, his nose is small and straight and he has some freckles. There's also a small dimple on his chin.

He's cute, Harry silently thinks and then in horror, turns his eyes away. He can't afford drooling over anyone in school like that, he'd be bullied to death if people found out he is gay. It's bad enough as it is, he doesn't need an extra reason for people to pick on him.

As Niall keeps quiet and writes on his notebook, Harry gets lost in his thoughts. He thinks about the first day of school when he had a panic attack in the cafeteria and people laughed. It was not how he expected his first day to go. He never thought making friends would be that big of a deal, he was brave, thinking he'd find friends. It never happened. Harry was too shy to talk to people but eventually, he tried talking to some. He didn't have a warm welcoming so he gave up and ended up being alone.

That's what people started picking on. He didn't have any friends, he was a loner and people noticed. Some people mocked his looks, his body or his wild, curly hair. It was mainly about him being a loner though and people started discriminating him even more. He is glad no one has found out about him being gay. From time to time, he hears some comments but he knows it's just people mocking, they don't really know how right they are. He tries not to care, keeping it to himself and thinking he can do this. Only a few months to go before he is free.

Of course, he wants to do his A-levels but he definitely won't stay in the same school for it. There's a smaller college nearby and he's planning on going there.

"What do you think?" Niall's voice interrupts his thoughts. He looks down, seeing Niall's notebook on his desk, his neat handwriting. He has written down some basic facts about Finland and Harry goes through them fast.

"It's a start," he hesitantly says, gaze down at the table.

"Do you want to add something?"

"I guess," Harry mumbles. He feels really awkward now, not that anxious anymore, just awkward. He's aware of how unsure he is, how his shoulders are pressed down, how he's avoiding on making an eye-contact. He takes a pen, writing down a few other things they should include in the project. 

"Mr. Wilson said we could go to the library to look for information. Do you want to go?"

Niall's thick accent is mesmerising but Harry tries to ignore it, nodding his head. He gathers his things, watching Niall doing the same, feeling slightly uncomfortable as he stands up. He notices one person looking at him, turning his eyes away.

One of his classmates, Brian, tries to trip Harry while he's walking out of the classroom but he manages to avoid Brian's foot by hopping over it. He hears a quiet mumble, freak, the usual one. He wants to huff, thinking Brian should learn some new insults.

Niall tells the teacher they're going to the library for a while to check some books and the teacher nods, giving them permission to leave the room. It feels refreshing, leaving the tormenting atmosphere, Harry thinks.

"Are you in any sports teams?"

"What?" Harry almost chokes at the question, not sure if he should laugh or cry. He wants to ask Niall if he looks like an athlete but he doesn't, biting his tongue.

"No, I'm not," he answers before Niall can say anything else.

"I play football."

"Cool," Harry answers.

He realises how rude he must sound but small talk has never been a talent of his. He feels relieved when they reach the library, following Niall inside. It's peaceful there and momentarily, Harry feels like he's home, feeling his body relaxing from earlier anxiety.

Niall isn't saying a word, only walking over to a bookshelf. Harry looks around, spotting an empty table in the corner of the library and going over. He takes a seat, back turned to the direction where Niall disappeared between two bookshelves.

"Here."

It scares Harry and he flinches before realising it's just Niall who is bringing a book to the table. Niall looks at him oddly before disappearing again. When he comes back, he sits opposite of Harry and opens another book he has brought with him.

"I think we should borrow these both," he says, Harry nodding his head. He keeps his gaze down at the table, feeling too nervous to look Niall in the eye. He manages to raise his head so his eyes are staring at Niall's chest so at least it looks like he is paying attention.

Niall is wearing a light grey cardigan over his white dress shirt that's part of the school uniform. Harry likes the colour of the cardigan, there's something calming about it.

"I have practice Tuesday and Thursday after school so we can't work on this then."

Harry raises his head, this time looking Niall in the eyes for a second before turning his eyes away.

"Okay," he says, tone sounding soft.

"Could we maybe stay here on Wednesday after the class and start working on this?" Niall suggests and Harry nods his head.

"What about this weekend? Are you busy?"

Harry shakes his head.

"Look, you seem like you don't give a fuck about the grade but I do."

"What?" Harry breaths out, eyes widening as he stares at Niall. The boy in front of him looks slightly frustrated, eyeing Harry suspiciously.

"You look like you don't really care about the project," Niall murmurs and Harry can't tell if he's angry or not.

"Sorry, I eh, I do care," Harry mumbles, chewing his lower lip.

"I do care yeah. Geography, I'm good. Got an A last semester," he tries to form proper sentences, managing to sound only slightly awkward.

"Oh good. I can't afford to fail," Niall's face softens and he smiles. He looks beautiful, Harry silently makes a comment and then blushes at it, wanting to slap himself.

"Are you busy this weekend?" Niall then asks the same question he did a minute ago. Harry is just about to shake his head to answer but then he realises he shouldn't do that anymore so he decides to give an actual answer.

"No."

"Should we meet then too? Saturday afternoon? No wait I might be hungover, there's this party I want to go to."

"Are you eighteen?" The question slips from Harry's mouth.

"No," Niall is chuckling for some reason.

"Then why... Never mind," Harry realises his own stupidity, quitting his sentence short. He feels embarrassed, thinking he should have known people do underage drinking. He hears people talking about partying almost every week but somehow he just had to forget about it now and act like an idiot around Niall.

Harry doesn't drink at all, which is why he doesn't understand.

"Aren't you going to Jack's party?"

"Who?" Harry asks.

"Captain of my football team?"

"No clue," Harry mumbles, feeling nervous. He knows he would most likely recognise this Jack peson instantly if he saw what he looks like. Harry is rubbish with names and he never pays attention to them but he recognises his bullies' faces easily.

"Mate," Niall chuckles then.

"How do you not know the captain of fooball team? Everyone knows him except some losers."

Harry's whole body stiffens. He takes a sharp inhale, feeling blood rushing off of his face. He could hear the chuckle in Niall's voice, almost feel his mock. He didn't think Niall would be one of them. He can feel his eyes tearing up and he desperately blinks, thinking he can't start crying.

"Oh," he then hears Niall saying.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to."

Harry doesn't bother answering. He pretends to focus on the book in front of him, desperately trying to look like he's reading it. His mind is going wild and he tries to force himself to think of something else, soon feeling calm enough so he knows he won't panic.

"Is Sunday afternoon good then?" Niall suddenly breaks the silence.

"Yeah," Harry quietly mumbles, eyes still on the book.

"Good," he only hears Niall saying.

 

-

 

A cold wind hits Harry's face when he steps outside the school building. He shivers, wrapping his scarf tighter around his neck.

He curses that it's only Monday. It means there are four more days to go. Four days when someone could try and trip him in class, or someone could shove him in the hallway or mock him for doing nothing. Four more days of hiding in the toilets during lunch hour.

Weekend makes Harry think of Niall. He wonders if they're really going to see each other on Sunday, blushing at the thought. Niall didn't seem that bad at all, in fact he was treating Harry as if he was just anyone which was a nice change. He didn't treat Harry like the usual garbage. Harry wonders if Niall knows.

Maybe he doesn't. After all, Niall's been away for the last semester and has missed the first months of the school year. There is a chance he has no idea who Harry is and Harry's willing to take that chance and appreciate it. He wants to get this project over with and be in good terms with Niall while doing so, and after that, it doesn't matter if Niall finds out. He would eventually, anyway. 

Harry's walking home like always, but luckily it's only a mile. He has put music on, pressing his headphones deeper to his ears, trying to walk as fast as he can. He feels like whistling along the music but he doesn't, thinking it's odd how it's Monday, his least favourite day but still, he doesn't feel that down.

Maybe it's Niall, he thinks.

 

 -

"How was school?" Harry's mum asks while they're eating supper.

"It was okay," he mumbles.

"We got this partner project in geography," he then remembers to tell.

"Did you get a nice partner?" His mum immediately worries.

"Yeah actually, this guy called Niall. He's been away for an exchange year, he seemed nice."

"That's great," his mother smiles.

Harry knows she worries. She knows he hasn't made any friends in school, of course she knows that. Harry's the shittiest liar but one thing he has been able to lie about is the bullying. He hasn't told his mother that it's bad in this school too, that he transferred for nothing.

His mum thinks he's a loner who doesn't have friends for whatever reason. She doesn't need to know about the bullying too, Harry has reasoned. It would break her heart. Besides, it's nothing he can't handle. He thinks he's handling it just fine.

A few more months, he silently reminds himself.

 

-

 

Tuesday's school day is nothing special.

Harry manages to avoid the bullies and doesn't have any incidents during the day which is always a good thing. He eats lunch in his usual toilet stall, texting with his sister. Gemma lives in London, moved there for university. Harry was gutted when she left because she was his only friend but luckily, they still keep in touch all the time and Gemma visits often, too.

Harry's already sitting in his seat in geography class when he sees Niall stepping inside the classroom. His heart skips a beat when Niall stops to talk with Brian, who's definitely not a good guy. Suddenly, Niall starts walking to Harry and it all makes no sense.

What is he doing? Harry silently panics.

"Hi," Niall stops next to his table.

"Hi," Harry mumbles, staring down at the table.

"I just wanted to make sure we're still going to meet after school tomorrow."

"Yeah," Harry mumbles, nodding his head to make sure Niall got it.

"Okay," Niall simply says and then Harry sees him walking away.

"Hey Horan, why were you talking to that loser?" Brian suddenly yells from the front row and Harry wants to sink down on his seat or possibly just disappear. He feels his cheeks heating up, half of the students turning to look at him. Luckily the teacher steps in to the classroom just then, saving the situation.

Harry carefully peeks at Niall's direction. Niall sits on the other side of the classroom and he's looking directly ahead of him but Harry can still see him frowning. He sighs, trying to focus on the class.

 

-

 

Wednesday morning, Harry's walking to school.

He's listening to music again, turning to the bigger street that leads to the school. He is surprised when he notices a familiar person walking a few metres ahead of him, wondering if he should jog to him and say hi.

He doesn't, mainly because he doesn't feel that comfortable around Niall. Surely he could go and say hi but then he'd have to walk the rest of the way with Niall and he isn't sure he could handle that. Having a normal conversation with someone is hard and besides, they're going to work on the project today anyway.

 

Today is horrible.

During lunch, the worst happens. Harry's sitting in his usual stall, just finishing with his lunch, thinking it's safe to go outside already. Class is starting in five minutes and he needs to stop by his locker to get his books. He steps outside the stall, blood rushing off of his face when he sees someone entering the toilets.

"Styles," it's Brian from geography class.

Harry looks at the door, wondering if he could somehow escape without Brian catching him. He decides to try, reckless enough to do it, slipping right under Brian's arm to the hallway. He starts running even though it's definitely against the rules, running even faster when he hears Brian calling his name.

"Styles," he hears again, knowing Brian's running after him.

He doesn't stop until he reaches the nurse's office, rushing straight inside, panting heavily. The waiting room is empty and the nurse's door is open. She's sitting in her office, looking at Harry with unimpressed expression on her face.

"Mr. Styles?" She asks, standing up.

"Oh I was just," Harry pants, trying to catch his breath.

He can feel the panic rising then, squeezing his eyes shut. He gasps for a few times before bursting into tears, much to his own surprise. He doesn't understand what's happening, he hears the nurse saying something that sounds like 'oh dear' and then he's being moved. The nurse makes him sit down, rubbing his back, telling him to breath. Then she hands him a paper bag.

"Do you want to talk about it?" She asks once Harry has calmed down enough. He shakes his head, continuing to breath into the paper bag.

The nurse is kind enough to let him stay in her room for the rest of the period. She says she'll write him a pass and hand it over to the teacher herself and Harry's so thankful he kind of wants to hug the nurse. He's been to her room before but never talked with her about anything, but he thinks she must have guessed by now.

"If you ever want to talk about it, I'm here," the nurse says before he's leaving and it's like a sign that she knows.

"Thanks," Harry simply says before rushing out of the door.

Harry's never been happier than when geography class starts and Brian isn't there.

It must be his lucky day, he silently thinks. He then peeks at where Niall's sitting, seeing him there. Niall looks ridiculously good in the school uniform, Harry thinks before blushing heavily and turning his eyes away.

He's already nervous for their upcoming studying, hoping he'll manage to go through with it without making a fool of himself. He thinks he should stop eyeing Niall, knowing it won't help at all with his nervousness.

The class passes by fast and when the bell rings, Harry sees Niall grabbing his things. He stands up himself, taking his book, awkwardly standing there and waiting for Niall. He comes to Harry, offering him a small smile and saying hi.

"Hi," Harry mumbles.

"We should go to the library. Do you have a laptop with you?" Harry shakes his head to that, following Niall out of the classroom.

"What's your locker number?"

"612," Harry answers.

"Okay mine's over there, I'll wait for you there," Niall points at his locker before walking away.

Harry sighs, going to his locker. He takes the book he needs, packing his bag before shutting the locker. The hallway is full with people and he feels slightly claustrophobic, squeezing through the sea of people, desperately trying to spot Niall.

He gulps when he notices Niall talking to someone by his locker. Harry doesn't recognise the other boy so he decides to wait, feeling revealed when the boy walks away and Niall's alone again. Harry walks over, loosening his tie a bit, fixing his bag on his shoulder.

"Ready to go then?" Niall asks after noticing him and Harry nods. He wonders if he should put more effort to it and start properly talking instead of nodding his head all the time. He decides he should at least try so he won't come off as rude.

They go to the library and Niall selects a table, after sitting down taking off his blazer and tie. He shoves them to his bag, Harry wanting to chuckle at that, make a comment about the blazer getting wrinkled. He doesn't though, pulling out his notebook and pen.

"We should probably plan first what we're going to do," Niall comments and Harry nods.

It's mainly Niall talking and Harry nodding his head, agreeing with everything. After an hour, Harry starts getting slightly tired and he also feels a bit stupid. He's been doing nothing but agreeing with everything Niall's says and writing it down so he won't forget anything.

"I have to get going soon," Niall suddenly breaks the silence. Harry feels disappointed, panicky even, realising he has barely said a word to Niall. He was planning on actually making an effort but he's been too nervous. He wanted to get to know Niall or at least talk about something but he has ruined it all now.

"Are we still meeting on Sunday?" Niall asks, Harry nodding his head.

"Great. Hold on," Niall tears a piece of paper off of his notebook, writing something on it.

"Here's my number. Text me so I'll get yours," he says. Harry's dumbfounded, blinking.

"So we can text about Sunday," Niall adds and Harry exhales, finally getting it.

"Right, yeah," he mumbles, blushing heavily and shoving the paper in his pocket.

"Are you going to leave too? We can go the same way," Niall offers as he's packing his things. Harry wants to beam at that, throw his hands up and shout a loud 'yes' but he doesn't, settling for a casual sounding 'yeah'.

"Can I ask you something?"

Niall sounds a bit odd as they're walking down the hallway, Harry feeling slightly nervous. He breaths out a 'sure', heart beating faster, waiting for what's to come.

"Do you have something against me? I mean have I done something?"

"No," it's half a cry out, half a gasp. Harry's eyes widen and he looks at Niall, turning his eyes away almost immediately.

"I just, sorry. You just act like you hate me."

"N-No," Harry stutters, feeling anxious already. He doesn't know how to explain himself, his behaviour, trying desperately to think of something.

"I'm just – shy," he finally mumbles so quietly he doubts Niall can even hear the words.

"Oh sorry mate, I just, I shouldn't have assumed. I just wanted to make sure," Niall sounds genuinely sorry about it.

"It's fine," Harry mumbles, stepping outside the building first, shoving his hands deep in his pockets.

"Really, I'm sorry," Niall still sounds apologetic.

"It's fine," Harry repeats himself.

"See you tomorrow. Text me so I'll get your number," Niall's then breathing out and before Harry has a chance to say something, Niall is already walking away to a different direction to where Harry's going. He sighs, looking after Niall before walking away himself.

On his way home, he can't stop thinking about Niall.

Niall.

It bothers Harry how he doesn't know anything about Niall. He wishes he could ask someone but he has no one to call to. He thinks maybe he should stalk Niall on Facebook. He has a profile there although it's slightly pointless, seeing as he doesn't really have friends there, just some people from his old school. He barely uses the account and has thought about deleting it, anyway.

Halfway through the journey back home, Harry feels reckless. He pulls out his phone, searching for the piece of paper Niall gave him. He types in the number, saving it, stopping there. He puts his phone back to his pocket, only to get it there again only seconds later.

Feeling determined, he types in a message. Hi, it's Harry. He sends it without thinking about it, feeling anxious as he continues walking, phone in his pocket again. He doesn't feel it vibrating but he isn't expecting it to, half of him doesn't think Niall is going to answer.

 

It's 7.23 pm when Niall answers. It's just a 'hi' along with a smiling emoji. It's simple and yet, cute, Harry thinks. He blushes furiously, locking the screen, wondering if he should text Niall something else.

He spends the next two hours wondering about it before deciding against it. He reasons Niall must be busy anyway.

 

-

On Thursday, geography class is canceled.

Harry mopes around half the evening because he was looking forward to seeing Niall. It's like the highlight of his day, he thinks, while he's walking back home. He didn't see a glance of Niall the whole day and he was looking forward to geography cllass, only to find out it was canceled for some reason.

 

-

 

On Friday, the class isn't canceled. Harry doesn't get a chance to say a word to Niall though, he comes in late and leaves before Harry can catch him. He thinks he can just text Niall later in the evening about their Sunday plans or if not today, then tomorrow.

He is too nervous to send anything though, spending half the evening thinking about it. He doesn't understand what's wrong with him, he doesn't even know Niall and yet, he's acting like a twelve year old girl with a crush. It doesn't make sense to him and he stops to try and analyse himself, thinking he'll wait until tomorrow to see if Niall texts first.


Niall doesn't text. Harry is too scared to text him.

He thinks it's stupid. He doesn't even know Niall and Niall doesn't seem to know him, either. There's nothing to be afraid of, Harry has tried telling himself. It doesn't help though, he still feels scared of screwing things up. Harry's good at it.

Niall seems nice and Harry can't afford making mistakes, which is exactly why he hasn't texted Niall about Sunday. He has been waiting patiently and he continues doing so until it's Saturday evening, and he reasons he has to text Niall.

He almost does until he realises he has no idea what he should ask exactly.

Harry is taking a shower when Niall finally texts him. He only notices it when he's getting dressed, seeing his phone flashing blue light. He grabs it, excited when he notices it's Niall.

Are we still meeting tomorrow for the project? The text simply says.

Sure. When and where? Harry carefully texts back.

Library around 2?

Okay, Harry answers.

See you then, Niall only texts back.

 

-

 

The library isn't far from Harry's house.

On his way there, he stops at a coffee shop to get himself a latte. His bag feels heavy, he brought his laptop along with one of the books him and Niall borrowed from the school library. He wonders if his outfit is alright, he spent ages on selecting the clothes and putting the outfit together. His mum thought it looked nice.

He's wearing dark blue skinny jeans, so tight they feel like a second skin. They make his nonexistent bum look somewhat rounded which is why Harry loves the jeans so much. He has a plain white t-shirt and a black, thicker blazer to keep him warm. He put a scarf on too but will probably lose it, it's just to keep him more warm. For shoes, he went with white Converse, thinking they were casual enough.

Harry loves dressing up. He has always liked it and has been picky about what he wears. He knows he's not ugly, no, in fact he has always thought he is somewhat good looking. He has a nice body and he runs a lot to keep in shape. His legs are long and thin, he has somewhat visible six pack and nice biceps, he thinks. He just wishes he wasn't so awkward, maybe he could have friends then. Maybe.

Harry sighs, sipping his coffee and going up a few stairs to the front door of the library. It's windy but not cold, but Harry still curses the wind for messing his hair. He looks around but can't see Niall yet, sighing and thinking Niall must be running late.

"Sorry, sorry," Niall is rushing there a few minutes later.

"I know I'm late."

"It's fine," Harry mumbles, trying his hardest to offer Niall a normal looking smile.

"How are you?" Niall sounds polite, opening the door and letting Harry in first.

"Fine, you?"

"Good. Shall we go over there?" Niall is pointing towards a quiet corner of the library and Harry nods. He thinks it's a good spot, there aren't people around so they might be able to have a conversation. Not that he wants to talk a lot, he doesn't, it's awkward but still. It's nice knowing that he can talk to Niall if he wants to, even though they're at the library.

"Oh you have a coffee. Fuck, I really fancy one too," Niall murmurs, using a quiet tone, after they've sat down.

"Yeah Starbucks, eh, around the corner, was like, open," Harry feels uncomfortable.

"Do you mind if I go there quickly?"

Harry shakes his head. Before he can realise, Niall has pushed his bag towards Harry, saying he'll be gone only for a minute. Harry is left sitting alone, sighing to himself. He hopes that by the time Niall comes back, he won't be as nervous and awkward anymore.

He knows his heart is beating too fast. He knows his shoulders have tightened because of the anxiety he's feeling. He knows he keeps moving his leg and playing with his fingers, both nervous habits, something he does whenever feeling anxious. He needs to calm down.

There's no reason to be afraid, he tells himself. Niall's a nice guy. Niall was an exchange student, he probably doesn't know anything which is why he is so nice. Oh god, what if he doesn't know yet but will find out?

What if someone tells him I'm a complete loser? Harry thinks to himself and immediately starts freaking out.

"Hiya."

Niall decides to come back at the worst time possible. Harry knows his eyes have gone wild and his mind is racing. He can practically hear his heart beating so fast it feels like it might jump off of his chest.

"You okay?" Niall is knitting his brows and, to Harry's surprise, scrunching his nose in an adorable way.

"Y-Yeah," Harry manages to stutter.

"Where should we start?" Niall is focusing on getting stuff out of his bag, giving Harry some time to focus on his breathing, getting slightly calmer. He somehow manages to convince himself that even if Niall finds out, it doesn't matter. They're only partners for this project which lasts for two weeks. Harry can survive two weeks even if Niall finds out. Even if Niall starts thinking he's a loser and acting like everyone else. It's only two weeks.

"Harry?"

"Oh, I don't, I don't know," Harry mumbles.

"Maybe we could..." Niall starts explaining, using a quiet tone so he's not disturbing anyone. Harry tries his hardest to focus on what Niall is saying, understanding most of it despite the fact that his anxiety keeps disturbing his focus.

"Sound okay?" Niall asks at the end and Harry only nods, avoiding to make an eye-contact.

"I tried spotting you at the cafeteria on Friday but couldn't see you," Niall's then saying while writing something down on his notebook. Harry almost chokes on his coffee, couching quietly, blinking in confusion.

"Thought you could maybe sit with me and my mates. Didn't you have lunch?"

Harry feels too dumbfounded to talk so he only shakes his head, tears suddenly filling his eyes. He feels horrible. He can't do this, he really can't.

"Maybe tomorrow then," Niall still sounds normal about it which implies he hasn't noticed how horrible Harry is feeling.

"Yeah," Harry whispers, knowing already it's not going to happen. There is no way he is going to have lunch with Niall and his mates, who most likely are part of the football team just like Niall is. Harry would be bullied by jocks during lunch hour. He is either going to the library or hiding in the toilets, just like always.

Harry opens his laptop, deciding to look for some information about Finland. He doesn't know much about the Northern country, only a few really basic things. He doesn't even know where exactly Niall spent his exchange semester, he wants to ask, curious to know more. More about Niall, everything, actually.

"Where -" Harry starts, clearing his throat. He wants to ask a question, wants to make an effort.

"Where did you – you know – live in Finland?" He manages to ask, even letting his eyes meet Niall's for a brief moment.

"Oh it was this smaller town, there's no way you know it. Hold on, I'll show you," Niall's already opening one of the books they borrowed, finding a map. It has even smaller towns in it and he finds what he's looking for easily, turning the book around, pointing at a spot.

"There. It was a small town, less than 50 000 people. There's a bigger city nearby though, maybe 50 kilometres away. That's what, 30 miles," he explains while still pointing at the spot.

Salo, it says and Harry finds the name funny. He lets his eyes roam around the map, thinking Finnish city names sound rather weird.

"Did you like, learn, the language?" He carefully asks.

"Yeah, Finnish. A bit, basic stuff. It's a hard language, impossible to speak properly I think," Niall's suddenly grinning like he knows more than he's telling. Harry finds himself being mesmerised by Niall's smile and he thinks Niall looks gorgeous.

Which shouldn't matter at all because Harry doesn't have a crush on Niall and Niall isn't gay.

"Everyone thought I was nuts because I wanted to go there. I just thought to try a completely new culture, you know. Finland seemed like a good choice, the guidance counselor convinced me it would be a perfect place for me," Niall is rambling again which Harry finds cute and he nods, implying he is listening.

"It was awesome, I mean the people were so chilled. It was cold as fuck though, I thought I was going to freeze when I first arrived. Sorry, you probably find this boring," he stops talking then, a goofy smile on his face.

"No, no," Harry breaths out fast.

"No," he says one more time and Niall chuckles at that.

"Sorry, I just, I talk a lot," Niall offers, doing a weird hand gesture between them.

"And you don't seem to so it's just -." Harry has no clue what he is saying.

"Never mind," Niall blushes for some reason and Harry feels confused but decides to drop it. He sips his coffee again and focuses on his laptop.

 

An hour passes without them talking much, both of them focusing on the project. Niall occasionally asks Harry what he is doing and Harry tries to explain, still finding talking to Niall awkward but he tries. He manages not to stutter which is the main thing, making him feel slightly more confident about himself.

He keeps peeking at Niall from time to time. Niall is wearing black jeans and a grey hoodie and his hair is a mess, but Harry likes how casual he looks. Niall looks cuddly and soft, he thinks. He almost drools when Niall suddenly pulls glasses out of his bag, putting them on. He catches Harry staring then, grinning at him.

"Reading glasses," he simply says and Harry nods, blushing.

Niall looks even cuter in his glasses and Harry has trouble not to stare. Why his geography project partner is so gorgeous, he doesn't know. Why he's being punished by having Niall as his partner, he doesn't understand. Niall who is so gorgeous, out of Harry's league, and so nice. Niall who most definitely is straight. Niall who seems so bubbly, so full of life, while Harry is a depressed and anxious freak. Niall who is everything. And Harry, who is nothing.

Miserable combination, Harry thinks. He decides he should stop eyeing Niall since it's pointless, it won't lead anywhere. He would just be torturing himself and there's no reason to do that, really. Other people do it for him.

"I'm hungry," Niall's suddenly whining, breaking the silence. Harry raises his head and blinks, not knowing what to say to that.

"Can we take a break and go get a bite?"

Harry almost chokes. His eyes go wild, widening and he blinks for a few times, looking at Niall. His heart is beating loud again and cold sweat runs down his back. Being in the library with Niall is hard enough, going to get something to eat is going to be a disaster. Harry might die.

For some reason, he's still stupid enough to nod and start gathering his things.

"Where do you want to go?" Niall asks after they've stepped outside the library.

"You choose," Harry murmurs, fixing his bag on his shoulder.

"You aren't hungry?" Niall asks.

"No."

"Then we'll go to McDonald's, I'm really fancying a burger."

Niall leads the way. It's not a long walk and it goes by in silence. Harry doesn't have anything to say and for once, Niall keeps quiet too.

Inside the fast food restaurant it's noisy, there are so many people and Harry can already feel his anxiety building up. He stands in the waiting line next to Niall, feeling himself small and vulnerable all of a sudden.

Niall orders himself a meal and an extra double cheese burger, Harry's eyes widening to the amount of food. He only gets a small Sprite, following Niall to a table. They sit down and Niall begins to eat fast. Harry sips his Sprite, thinking of something to say when the worst happens. The absolute worst.

Harry spots them from afar. One of them is named Cody and he's the absolute worst bully Harry knows. He's the only one who has ever laid hands on Harry, shoving him in the school staircase once, causing Harry to fall down. He is scared of Cody, and seeing him there in the McDonald's with his friends is frightening.

Harry feels like fainting when he suddenly realises Cody is coming closer. And closer. And closer. His panic builds inside of him and he looks at Niall, about to say something, anything, when Niall opens his mouth.

"Cody!"

And Harry's world comes crashing down. Niall's friends with Cody, with his biggest bully and Harry's life is definitely over now. He is officially dead, there goes all his chances of befriending Niall or at least surviving these next two weeks to complete the project.

"Horan, what the hell are you doing here with this loser? Don't tell me you're on a date," Cody is his usual self and Harry wants to whimper and disappear. He stares down at his lap, trying his hardest not to cry, desperately blinking his eyes.

"We're doing a school project together," Harry hears Niall answering, sounding casual about it.

"I feel sorry for you Horan for having to work with that freak."

"Shut up Cody."

Harry raises his head, eyes widening. He looks at Niall but Niall's not looking at him, looking up at Cody who's standing next to their table. Harry has no idea what's going on and he winces when suddenly, someone grabs his ear and twists it in a painful way.

"See you in school, loser," Cody is obviously talking to him, letting go of his ear, ignoring Niall completely as he walks away.

Everything becomes a blur then. Harry's eyes fill with tears and he stands up, his body acting on its own, his mind telling him only one thing. Get out. It's exactly what Harry does, he grabs his bag, rushing out of the restaurant and right to the street. He goes around the corner, dropping his bag on the ground, resting his back against the building.

"Breathe," he tells himself, breathing getting heavier.

The world around him seems to disappear, everything becomes blurry, noises of traffic fading away. He feels dizzy, panting heavily, trying desperately to breath.

Suddenly there's a hand on his shoulder and someone's talking to him, Harry's brain barely registers it. The stranger frightens him and he tries to move away but it doesn't work, the stranger is still there, holding on to his arm and saying his name over and over again.

Niall, Harry's brain registers and he drops on the ground, pulling his legs to his chest, still breathing heavily. He starts crying then and it's the absolute worst, crying like the pathetic person he is. He can't stop it though, he can't so he hides his face, trying to forget that Niall's there, focusing on calming down.

"Shhh, Harry," he hears Niall saying, sobbing louder at that, burying his face deeper between his arms. His body is shaking violently and he feels an arm wrapping around him. He realises Niall is trying to hug him and a part of him wants to push the half stranger away but he's too weak, too tired.

"Breathe Harry."

There's something so calming, so caring about Niall's voice. It's soft, coming close to his ear, telling him to breathe. It helps, Harry realises because he starts feeling calmer, breathing somewhat stable already. He is scared to death to raise his head though, keeping his face hidden.

"Harry, can you look at me? Harry?"

Harry whimpers, feeling Niall's hand squeezing his arm. Niall keeps calling his name and out of nowhere, he starts running his fingers through Harry's hair. Harry wants to cry because he feels humiliated, so embarrassed he wants to die. He can't believe this happened and he let Niall see, and Niall still seems so caring, he's still there, trying to help. He's so sweet Harry just wants to cry.

"It's okay Harry, I know how you feel. I don't mind, it's okay, I promise."

It's like Niall's reading his mind and Harry doesn't understand how he's doing it. Niall keeps telling him it's okay, that he understands and eventually it convinces Harry. Slowly, carefully, he raises his head. He doesn't look at Niall but lets Niall see him.

"It's okay. I promise."

Harry flinches when he feels Niall's fingers curling around the back of his neck, just holding on gently, thumb brushing over his skin. It's calming and Harry closes his eyes, inhaling deeply.

"How did you..." His voice comes out as a raspy murmur and it fades away. He can't ask again, leaving it there, opening his eyes but still not looking at Niall.

"I'm claustrophobic. I get panic attacks sometimes."

That explains it. Niall knows, he really does, it wasn't all just talk. It's all Harry needs to finally look at him, his eyes filling with tears when they meet Niall's blue ones. Niall looks so sincere, his blue eyes sad. His hand is still there, against Harry's neck, feeling warm.

"It's okay," Niall half says, half whispers and Harry nods because he knows it. He believes it, trusts Niall's words.

"Do you want to stay here for a while or go somewhere?"

"Home," Harry croaks, clearing his throat.

"I want to go home," he says, voice still shaky.

"Do you live far away?"

Harry shakes his head.

"I can walk you."

"N-No," Harry stutters, turning his eyes away. He thinks Niall's being too nice, he doesn't deserve it.

"No, I'll walk you. Come on then," Niall's already standing up, holding his hands out for Harry. He pulls Harry up, hands warm in Harry's, causing Harry to blush.

"Are you okay now?" Niall asks, still not letting go of Harry's hands.

"Yeah," Harry mumbles, chewing his lower lip nervously. Niall finally lets go of his hands and he bends down to grab his bag, feeling slightly awkward.

It's not as bad now that he knows Niall suffers from the attacks too. It's still embarrassing but Harry tries to ignore it as they begin to walk. Niall asks where he lives and Harry explains, finding out Niall lives in the same area than him.

"How come I haven't seen you in school before? Before I went to Finland I mean," Niall asks while they're walking.

"I went to St. Christopher's," Harry mumbles.

"Oh you're new, right. Liam said."

"W-what?" Harry stutters, knitting his brows, staring down at the ground.

"Sorry, I mentioned being partners with you to my friend. He said you're in the same French class. Liam, Liam Payne, do you know him?"

"No," Harry shakes his head. He's terrible with names.

"Brown hair, brown eyes, about your height. A bit built, super nice guy."

And suddenly, Harry knows exactly who Liam is. Liam sits behind him and he has a warm smile. He makes Harry uncomfortable because he never knows if Liam's smile is meant to be a nice gesture or one of those evil smirks his bullies give him.

"He said you sit in front of him."

"Yeah I know him," Harry is fast to say, hoping Niall will drop the topic.

"Harry, I," Niall tries to say something.

"Harry, can you like - fuck – can you stop for a second"?" Niall grabs his hand and it makes him stop walking, eyeing Niall suspiciously.

Harry is slightly scared. Niall looks uncomfortable all of a sudden, letting go of his hand, rocking from one heel to another.

"Liam said – I just – what happened with Cody – you should like – you should come sit with us tomorrow at lunch. We're really nice, my mates and I – Liam's nice, he said I should ask you."

"I'm not a charity case," Harry's tone sounds cold. It surprises himself how rude he now sounds, trying to defend himself. Because really, he is no charity case.

It's obvious by now that Niall knows about the bullying. After seeing what happened with Cody and if Liam's told him something, he must know. It's humiliating. Harry didn't want this to happen, this is the last thing he needed in his life. Niall would have found out eventually anyway, he reasons, but he didn't want it to happen while they were still doing the project.

How is he supposed to work with Niall now?

"Harry, I don't. Fuck. I don't think you're a charity case. You seem really nice. Look, just, give it a chance. Come sit with us tomorrow," Niall is talking, sounding like he's half begging.

"What class do you have before lunch? I can wait for you outside your class and we'll go together. Harry?" He's bringing his hand forward, squeezing Harry's bicep.

"Why are you doing this?" Harry asks, tone weak now. He knows he's about to cry again and he doesn't want to, fluttering his eyes, looking into Niall's.

"I want to be friends with you," Niall simply says and there's something so convincing about his words that Harry believes it. He nods his head, hesitantly but still, earning a small smile from Niall.

They continue walking then, both keeping quiet. Harry feels like he doesn't have anything to say, he feels too confused by everything. There is so much he'd like to ask but he refuses to do it, keeping it to himself. They reach his house in no time and he murmurs it to Niall, pointing at the house.

"What class do you have tomorrow before lunch?" Niall asks and Harry realises he never answered the question.

"French."

"Oh great, that's the one you have with Liam."

"Yeah."

"Look, Harry," Niall then says.

"I just – are you – are you okay?"

"Yeah," Harry mumbles, staring down at the ground.

"Can we work on the project tomorrow? Do you have time? Since we didn't you know, really do much today."

"Yeah."

"Can you stop saying yeah?"

"Ye -" Harry stops there and all of a sudden, chuckles a little. It is funny, he realises, looking at Niall who starts grinning.

"Is that a smile?" Niall asks and suddenly pokes Harry's dimple, causing him to groan and turn his head away.

"I'll see you tomorrow, okay? We can talk about the project then," Niall's still grinning happily and Harry nods, smiling himself, somehow feeling ten times better.

Until it hits him.

"You're not -" he breaths out, feeling himself panicking.

"You're not lying to me, are you? To like, make fun of me. Because if you are, just, please don't."

"No, Harry," Niall breaths out, sounding slightly shocked.

"I wouldn't do that, oh fuck, why would you even - No, I promise, I would never."

"Harry," Niall sighs when Harry just stands there, hands buried deep in his pockets.

"Trust me."

And Harry does. It might be foolish of him but he trusts Niall. There's something about Niall that makes him want to trust so he does, raising his head to meet Niall's eyes, nodding his head. Niall smiles and Harry tries to return it and then they just stand there, smiling at each other, both seeming slightly awkward.

"So, tomorrow. I'll wait outside the classroom," Niall finally says.

"Yeah," Harry murmurs, chewing on his lower lip again.

"See you," Niall gives him a smile, waving his hand. He turns around and starts walking away before Harry can say a word.

 

After going to his room, Harry lays down on his bed, staring at the ceiling. It only takes a minute for him to break down and he cries, from both being sad and being happy.

 

-

 

Harry sits down on his usual seat, carefully placing his things on the desk. He looks down and loosens his tie a little, annoyed with the school uniform. He hates wearing it, almost daily wishing he could just wear his own clothes to school. It's the class before lunch and he's feeling nervous already, trying to push the negative thoughts away, knowing he needs to focus on the class.

"Hi," he suddenly hears and he automatically raises his head although there's no chance someone's talking to him.

Expect they are. Niall's friend Liam is standing next to his desk, smiling down at him. Harry almost swallows his tongue, eyes widening but he somehow manages to murmur out something that sounds a bit like 'hi'. Liam's gone to sit behind him then and Harry exhales deeply, wondering what just happened.

Next weird thing that happens is his phone starts buzzing in his pocket. He panics, pulling it out and immediately putting it on silent, feeling grateful that the teacher hasn't arrived yet so he's not in trouble. It's Niall who's texting and it causes Harry to smile.

See you in 50 minutes, the text simply says and there's a cute monkey emoji at the end. Harry doesn't really know how to reply so he sends back a smiling emoji, thinking it should be good enough answer.


The class passes by fast.

Harry is lost in his thoughts half of the class, the teacher even has to scold him for not paying attention. He can't help it, his thoughts slipping to Niall and the upcoming lunch hour. He is nervous about it, wondering what kind of disaster it's going to be. He doesn't know Niall's friends and although he feels like he can trust Niall, he is still scared.

Anything could happen. Bullies might pick on him, come to harass him and embarrass him in front of Niall and his friends. Niall's friends could hate him. One of his mates might be someone who has been mocking Harry. It might be a disaster and Harry is certain something bad will happen. He is still determined to get through it. He doesn't want his anxiety getting in the way of this, not when he actually has a chance with Niall. Chance of being friends. Harry wants that, he wants to befriend Niall who seems so genuinely nice, like he cares, at least a little.

Harry still remembers Niall helping him when he was panicking. He remembers how safe he felt with Niall in that moment, how calming his voice was. The thought causes Harry to blush for some reason and he shakes it away, feeling bot relieved and anxious when the bell suddenly rings. He grabs his things, standing up and wondering if he should wait for Liam or say something to him. He can't decide so he simply walks out of the room, thinking he just wants to find Niall. The thought brings him comfort and a small smile creeps on his face when he spots Niall standing outside the classroom.

"Hey," Niall beams when Harry steps in front of him.

"Hi," Harry says, sounding unsure, but he manages to smile nevertheless.

"Is Liam coming?"

"I, eh," Harry is about to come up with something when Niall cuts him off.

"Oh there he is."

"Hey mate," Liam greets Niall, then looking at Harry, smiling warmly.

"Hi, Harry, again."

"Hi," Harry awkwardly says.

"Great, let's go drop your things off and go get some lunch."

It turns out Liam's locker is close to Harry's so they don't have to go to their separate ways. Niall and Liam are talking about something while Harry shoves his book to his locker, making sure he has money for lunch.

He feels terrified when they reach the cafeteria. It's quite noisy, too loud for his liking and there are way too many people around. Niall smiles reassuringly at him and Harry gulps, feeling his whole body tightening when they stop at the waiting line.

"Do you like football Harry?"

It's Liam who's asking the question and his smile seems so genuine it causes Harry's heart to ache. He has trouble understanding why these people are so nice to him and he knows he needs to level up and fast so he tries to give a proper answer.

"Yeah but I prefer tennis and golf."

"Golf? You like golfing?" Niall's now asking as they step forward as the line moves.

"Yeah," Harry answers.

"We should go golfing sometime," Niall smiles and Harry hesitates but nods his head.

"And you should come watch our next game, our team is brilliant," Liam's talking to him too.

"We have the best goalkeeper. He might join us, by the way. Louis Tomlinson, do you know him?" Liam continues and Harry shakes his head because the name doesn't ring any bells.

"Louis and Zayn are keeping the usual table," Niall's then talking and Harry feels like an outsider now.

"Zayn is Louis' boyfriend, they're both really nice. Louis can be a bit sassy but I'm sure you'll like him," Niall is filling Harry in.

His eyes widen at the word boyfriend and he realises two of Niall's mates are gay and dating. It brings comfort to him, knowing now that Niall has nothing against gay people. It brings hope too, hope that maybe someday, if they'll be good enough friends, he can come out to Niall.

It makes Harry feel ten times better and his anxiety seems to be fading away. Niall and Liam are talking about football as they're getting food, Niall telling Harry to follow them to their usual table. On their way, they walk pass Cody who glares at Harry angrily but surprisingly, doesn't say a word.

"Hi lads," Niall sits down opposite of two guys, who Harry guesses are Louis and Zayn. Niall looks up at him then and points at a chair next to him, motioning Harry to sit there. He does, feeling uncomfortable, being there in front of the two strangers.

"This is Harry. Harry, Louis and Zayn."

Zayn might possibly be the most beautiful guy Harry has ever met in his life. He feels a bit dumbfounded, looking at the black haired boy who has a lazy smile on his face and who nods at him. Harry then moves his eyes to Louis who says hi, unreadable expression on his face.

"Hi," Harry murmurs back.

They start talking about something then and Harry quickly falls out of the conversation, focusing on his food. He feels slightly nervous, leg shaking under the table. He hopes Niall doesn't notice it, trying to make his leg stop from moving, focusing back to his eating.

He almost has a heart attack when he feels a hand on his knee, causing his leg to finally stop shaking. He looks at his side and Niall's already looking at him, a reassuring smile on his face. 'Relax', Niall mouths at him, squeezing his knee before letting go. It's like magic, Harry instantly relaxes a little and starts focusing on the conversation again. They're talking about football and Harry catches Zayn's bored expression, realising Zayn must not care about the topic at all.

"Oh I'm sorry babe, are we boring you?" Louis teases Zayn when he yawns widely.

Harry watches in amusement when Zayn groans but starts smiling then, leaning in to press a kiss on Louis cheek. They are cute together, Harry finds himself thinking, heart aching in his chest from being jealous. He wants to be with someone too, wants to be happy. Finding someone when you're in Harry's situation is almost impossible, which is why he has never dated anyone.

He has never even done anything sexual with another boy. He has kissed people, sure, but never gone any further than that. It's depressing, he thinks.

"Harry?" Niall is nudging his arm with his elbow, trying to get his attention.

"Yeah?" Harry tries not to sound awkward.

"We have a game next week. Do you want to come and watch?"

"Sure," Harry finds himself agreeing on it, having no clue why exactly he's doing that.

"Great, you have to keep me company then. I get so bored watching the games by myself," Zayn is talking to him and Harry feels dumbfounded. He can't believe these people are so nice and welcoming.

"Okay," Harry says, smiling at Zayn.

"You're cheering for me though," Niall is nudging his arm again with his elbow.

"No, Harry is cheering for me. I'm the goalkeeper, I need the support," Louis comments.

"No, Harry's my friend. Right?" Niall stubbornly says.

Before Harry can realise, Niall has wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him closer. Louis is looking at them curiously and Harry blushes, especially when Niall asks again if he's going to cheer for Niall.

"Yeah, course," Harry mumbles, still blushing and wondering why his skin seems to burn underneath Niall's touch.

"Great! See Lou, my friend. Mine," Niall sounds possessive but Harry knows he's only teasing. Finally, Niall's letting go of him and playfully hitting his shoulder.


It's surprising, how Harry finds himself hoping lunch hour would never end. He's having fun, and although he is slightly uncomfortable around these people, Niall's there and it brings him comfort. He doesn't know what it is exactly but he trusts Niall.

Niall, who has the most catchy laugh, it's like a beautiful melody. Niall, who makes him want to smile all the time. Niall, who makes his heart beat ridiculously fast. And Harry really needs to stop having these feelings because it's not happening. They're friends. Niall said so himself.

"Harry?" Niall asks as they're putting their lunch trays away.

"What class do you have now?"

"Art," Harry answers.

"Damn I have chemistry, it's in a different building. I'll see you in geography then?"

"Yeah," Harry breaths out, watching Niall walking away. Liam waves at him and Harry waves back, making his way to his locker.

 


Half of the art class, Harry spends wondering if he has any classes with Louis or Zayn. Once he decides he doesn't, he starts thinking about Niall.

He is so screwed.

 

-

 

Harry is already sitting in geography class in the back row when Niall enters the classroom. He spots Harry immediately, walking over, smiling.

"Hiya," Niall says before taking the seat next to Harry's.

"What are you doing?" Harry asks, confused.

"Sitting here," Niall casually comments.

"You can't just switch seats though, can you?"

"I'll go ask Mr. Wilson when he comes," Niall says. Harry is too dumbfounded to make a comment, nodding his head.

When the teacher finally shows up, Niall goes to him and much to Harry's surprise, he sees their teacher nodding his head. Niall comes back with a wide grin on his face. Harry's heart flutters slightly faster and he wonders why Niall's doing all these things.

During the class, Niall whispers to him, asking if they're still meeting after school to do the project. Harry nods his head and Niall asks where they should go and this time, Harry shrugs his shoulders.

"Mine?" Niall quietly suggests and Harry ends up nodding.

He can't believe he just got an invitation to Niall's house after school. He is going to see what Niall's bedroom looks like.

This can't be my life, Harry silently thinks to himself.

"Hey Har?" Niall's whispering and the nickname makes Harry almost choke in surprise.

"Are you really coming to the game next week?"

Harry only nods his head, glancing at their teacher to make sure he isn't paying attention to them whispering. Their teacher isn't, explaining something about volcanoes.

"Zayn's going to keep you company," Niall whispers and Harry nods again, blushing and hoping Niall doesn't notice. Even if he does, he doesn't say a word, only smiling before focusing back on the class.

"I'm going to my locker really quick," Niall says once the class has ended.

"I'll come back to your locker then, wait me there," he breaths out before rushing away, leaving Harry alone in the hallway.

Harry sighs, going to his locker. He looks down at his school uniform, annoyed he has to wear the horrible outfit to Niall's. He wants to change but he doesn't have any spare clothes at school. He also doesn't want to ask Niall if they could stop at his house first so he could change.

He gets his bag, slamming the locker door shut, almost jumping when he sees someone standing there, smirking. It's not just anyone, is the thing. It's Cody.

"Styles," Cody says his name in a mocking way.

"Where have you left your boyfriend? Where's he, huh?"

"W-Who?" Harry stutters, taking a step back. Cody takes a step forward and Harry realises backing off doesn't help. He thinks about running away but he isn't very fast and doesn't want to take the risk either. If Cody caught him, Harry would be dead.

"Horan, your little boyfriend. Didn't know he's gay too, always knew you are," Cody's mocking. He takes a step forward, doing something familiar, pinching Harry's ear. It hurts and causes Harry to groan, which probably is a mistake since it seems to only annoy Cody. He pushes Harry then, causing him to take a few steps back, wanting to cover his face. He is scared Cody's going to hit him.

"What the hell are you doing?" Harry hears a familiar voice behind him.

"Oh there's your precious boyfriend. Hi Horan, how nice of you to join us."

"Don't touch him," Niall warns and steps next to Harry, an arm wrapping around Harry's hips. Harry finds himself automatically pressing to Niall's side, seeking for comfort, safety, anything.

"You two disgust me," is the only thing Cody says before walking away, much to Harry's surprise.

"Are you okay?" Niall sounds worried, standing right in front of Harry all of a sudden, trying to study his face.

"F-Fine," Harry stutters, exhaling deeply.

"He didn't do anything, did he?"

"No," Harry shakes his head.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Niall places both hands on Harry's shoulders, eyes studying Harry's face.

"Yeah," Harry sighs, closing his eyes for a second, taking a few deep breaths.

"Har," he hears Niall saying, feeling fingers combing through his hair. Then there's a hand cupping his cheek, the gesture so gentle he wants to cry.

"I'm going to take care of Cody."

"W-What?" Harry stutters, opening his eyes. Niall's still cupping his cheek, other hand on his shoulder, blue eyes looking somewhat angry now.

"Someone needs to teach him a lesson," Niall moves his hand back to Harry's shoulder, squeezing it gently.

"Stop," Harry immediately says.

"I'm serious."

"Stop."

"He deserves to get his ass kicked."

"Stop it," Harry snarls and Niall looks taken aback but recovers fast.

"I'm sorry," he simply says, squeezing Harry's shoulders before dropping his hands. Harry ends up nodding his head a little, feeling confused by Niall's reaction.

"Let's go then," Niall sighs, looking slightly upset.

As they're walking, they both keep quiet.

Harry is still shaken because of the incident with Cody and Niall looks deeply in thought. Harry doesn't know how to break the silence, hoping Niall would, seeing as he seems talkative. Harry thinks how strange it all is. It was only yesterday they were in the library doing the project and now, they've been hanging out in school and Niall feels like a friend already. It's strange and Harry's definitely not used to it.

He wonders why Niall wants to be friends with him. He's just a loser, no one special, he's not funny, he doesn't talk much. He's not a great friend to have and he doesn't really have much to offer. He's boring and plain, and he doesn't understand why anyone would want to be friends with him. Especially since he gets bullied.

"What are you thinking about?" Niall finally breaks the silence.

You couldn't ask a harder question, could you? Harry silently thinks.

"Nothing special," he mumbles.

"Tell me something about you."

"There's, there's nothing interesting, about me," Harry mumbles, chewing on his lower lip, hands deep in his pockets.

"Of course there is. What do you do in your free time?" Niall asks and Harry realises he needs to give a proper answer because it seems like Niall's not going to let the topic go anytime soon.

"Read and like, paint and draw. Boring stuff," Harry hesitantly answers.

"That's not boring, that's cool. You should show me your art sometime," Niall sounds encouraging.

"I play the guitar a bit," he adds.

"Cool," Harry breaths out.

"Do you play anything?"

"No."

"Bummer. We could have formed a band," Niall jokes.

"Do you see that white house on top of that hill?" He then asks, pointing at a rather large house on top of a small hill. Harry nods his head, realising it must be where Niall lives.

"I live there."

"Your house is huge," Harry breaths out without thinking, then feeling awkward about it, especially when Niall bursts out a laugh.

"My dad was a rugby player," he chuckles.

"Oh. Nice."

Harry doesn't ask Niall's dad's name because he knows nothing about rugby and he definitely doesn't know old players' names. When they reach the house, Harry realises it's even bigger than he thought and he gulps. Not only is Niall insanely good looking, extremely nice and supportive but also, rich. Harry kind of wants to die.

"Are you hungry?" Niall asks after opening the door for Harry.

"Not really."

"No? I'll have something. Do you want something to drink at least, coffee, anything? Oh I want to show you something, dad got this fancy coffee machine, you can make latte with it. Do you like latte?" It's a huge ramble and Niall has already grabbed Harry's arm, dragging him towards the kitchen. Harry wants to laugh and a small chuckle accidentally escapes his lips.

Niall hears it, raising his brows and asking a simple 'what'. Another chuckle escapes Harry's mouth and then, he is full on laughing, ending up bending over in half and laughing so hard his stomach hurts. He's gasping, laughing between his desperate breaths.

Somewhere between his breaths and laughs, he hears Niall laughing too. Once he is somewhat calm, still chuckling, he stands up straight and wipes tears off of his eyes. Niall's chuckling too, looking at him, a massive grin on his face.

"Are you laughing at me?" He playfully asks.

"Yeah," Harry chuckles, not bothering to lie.

"It's just, your ramble, pretty pointless you know," he tries to explain and Niall chuckles at it.

"Yeah, I ramble a lot," he only comments, still grinning happily.

"You should laugh more often," he then makes a comment and before Harry can react to it, he's already continuing.

"You have a nice laugh and like, happiness looks good on you."

Harry blinks, feeling taken aback. He doesn't know what to think about it and Niall suddenly looks awkward too, mumbling about making some coffee and asking if Harry wants a cup. He ends up agreeing on a latte, Niall beginning to make them.

"What's your favourite animal?" Niall asks over his shoulder while making the coffees.

"Cat," Harry immediately answers.

Niall continues asking questions and soon enough, they're sitting next to each other on bar stools by the kitchen isle, drinking their lattes while talking. Their project is long forgotten as they continue talking, Harry finding himself speaking more than he has in months.

Eventually, they go upstairs and Harry finally gets to see Niall's room. It's quite plain, all the furniture white, large bed in the middle of the room. There's a comfy looking armchair in the corner of the room and Harry decides to sit on it. Niall sits on his desk chair, kicking off his shoes and lifting his legs up, turning his computer on. Harry decides to follow the lead, kicking off his shoes and curling to the armchair.

Niall puts some music on and they continue talking. Niall tells about his three friends, explaining how he didn't really keep in touch with anyone else while being in Finland for his exchange semester. Harry tells a few things about his old school, careful not to reveal too many details. He doesn't want Niall knowing how horrible it was in his old school.

"Right, I'll change something more comfortable on," Niall suddenly says, getting up and walking to his closet. He steps back to the bedroom a minute later, wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, looking cuddly. Harry wishes he could change to his own clothes too, tempted to ask Niall to borrow him something. He doesn't though, feeling too shy to ask. 

"Should we maybe, do the project?" Harry suggests, not really feeling like working on the project. He wants to continue talking with Niall, finding out new interesting things about him.

"Do you really want to?" Niall raises one eyebrow at him and Harry chuckles, shaking his head.

"We still have time. Favourite movie," Niall changes the subject.

"Inception. Do you know that one?" Harry asks and Niall nods, saying he does.

 


Harry's mum texts him at five thirty, asking where he is and if he's coming home for dinner. Harry promises he will and explains he is with Niall, doing their school project.

His mum texts back asking if he needs a ride home and he agrees on it. He asks Niall for the address, telling him his mother will pick him up so he doesn't have to walk back home.

"You could have stayed for dinner, although I'm just going to order a pizza," Niall says.

"Your dad isn't coming home?" Harry realises to ask. Niall only shakes his head, looking like it's a touchy subject so Harry doesn't ask more about it.

"When did you move to England?" Harry changes the subject and Niall begins to tell the story of how he moved.

 

"Are you walking to school tomorrow?" Niall asks as they're standing in the hallway, Harry about to leave. He nods his head, looking Niall in the eyes.

Niall has the most gorgeous eyes, Harry silently thinks to himself.

"We could walk together part of the way," Niall suggests and Harry hums, agreeing on it.

"Meet me by the park. Seven fifty?"

"Okay," Harry feels happy about it.

"See you tomorrow," Niall says and Harry smiles, opening the front door.

"Harry?" Niall says his name, stopping him from leaving just yet.

"I'm glad we're, you know, friends. You're a great guy."

"Thanks," Harry breaths out, heart beating fast in his chest.

"You too," he adds and Niall smiles at that, smiling a new smile Harry hasn't seen before. It's softer, somehow, and causes Harry's heart to feel like it's flipping around in his chest.

"Bye," he breaths out before stepping outside, watching Niall waving at him as he closes the front door. Then he turns around and walks down the driveway to his mum's car.

"Hi mum."

"Tell me all about Niall," Anne immediately breaths out and Harry starts chuckling.

"So you already know he's Irish and my partner in the school project," he starts.

 

-

 

Ten days later, on Wednesday, Harry's standing by the park.

It's a cold morning and he shivers, wondering where Niall is. They have met by the park every morning at seven fifty for over a week now but today, Niall's late. Harry keeps looking at the time, feeling relieved when he finally sees Niall even from afar. Niall's rushing to him and before Harry can realise what's happening, Niall's hugging him, breathing out a happy sounding hi.

"Sorry I'm late," Niall continues, squeezing Harry before letting go.

"That's okay," Harry mumbles, taken aback by the hug. It's the first time they have hugged properly and Harry already knows he's going to cherish the memory of the moment.

"Off to school we go," Niall then happily comments.

"Are you that happy to go to school?" Harry has to ask, chuckling a little.

Ever since they were at Niall's house last Monday, he hasn't felt awkward around Niall. It's still hard around Niall's friends but not around Niall himself. Harry feels completely comfortable, ever since that Monday.

"It's a great day, Harry," Niall only says.

 

Niall is right, it's a great day.

Harry spends lunch hour with Niall and his friends and although he keeps quiet and doesn't talk much, he feels more comfortable than last week. Every day it gets a bit better, he thinks.

Niall reminds him it's a game day and Zayn asks him to meet him at a certain spot before the game. Harry still can't believe he's going to watch Niall's game with one of Niall's friends, feeling happy about it.

He can't believe this is suddenly his life.

He gets a weird, half hug from Niall, too. They're all talking about something, Harry more focused on his sandwich, when Niall suddenly wraps his arm around Harry's shoulders, pressing his head on Harry's left shoulder and sighing deeply.

"What?" Harry only asks, trying to look at Niall but finding the angle impossible.

"School is tough, young Harold."

"How did you know my real name?" Harry mumbles, blushing heavily.

"Wait your real name is Harold?" Niall sits up properly again, a massive grin growing on his face. Harry knows he must look like a tomato by now, mumbling out a 'yeah', watching Niall chuckling.

"I'm going to start calling you Harold," he decides, still chuckling.

"No."

"Oh yes."

"No," Harry shakes his head.

"Shut up Harold and eat your sandwich, we only have five minutes left," is all Niall says then, patting Harry's back before focusing back to his own lunch. Harry sighs, catching Louis' stare. Louis has a funny expression on his face and Harry raises his eyebrows a bit in a questioning way. Louis only shakes his head, leaning in to whisper something to Zayn who lets out a small giggle.

Harry decides it must be something private between the two of them, continuing to finish his lunch. 

 

They have geography class again that afternoon and Niall spends half of the class whispering things to Harry. He keeps calling Harry Harold, first causing Harry to pout but then he decides to let it go. Niall's simply too cute and he can't really disagree with Niall and besides, it's their thing now. At least for the day.

"Are you really coming to the game?" Niall asks towards the end of the class.

"Yeah," Harry whispers back, watching Niall beaming.

"You'll be my lucky charm Harold."

"Sure," Harry chuckles.

He wonders how it's so easy with Niall. How they've known each other for two weeks and it's almost painfully easy.

 

Zayn is waiting him by the bleachers, just like he said.

"Nice jacket," he compliments when Harry has said hi.

"Thanks," Harry blushes, not used to hearing compliments.

"Where's it from?" Zayn asks.

"Topman."

"Right, let's go sit. Do you want to stay down here," Zayn points at a row of empty seats, Harry nodding. He definitely wants to stay in the first rows because he wants to see Niall better.

There are barely any people around. The game's about to start and Harry spots Niall in the field, stretching his legs. When Niall raises his head, looking towards the bleachers, Harry hesitates before raising his hand and waving. Niall spots him immediately and even from afar, Harry can see him starting to smile, jogging towards them.

"Hi," Niall breaths out after jogging to Harry and Zayn.

"You came," he then says, beaming.

"Of course," Harry answers, raising his eyebrows.

"Tell Louis to play well," Zayn's then saying and Niall chuckles, nodding his head. He waves before jogging away, Harry's eyes moving to stare at Niall's rounded bottom. I can't help it, he defends himself when he realises he's been staring.

"I can see you staring."

"What?" Harry's eyes widen and he looks at Zayn in horror.

"I can see you staring at him. I'm not blind," Zayn casually says.

"I," Harry starts but closes his mouth, not letting a word out.

"It's okay mate, I'm sure you've noticed I'm pretty gay here and all," Zayn then jokes and Harry chuckles at that.

"Yeah I," he tries again but ends up closing his mouth. He doesn't really want to tell, not feeling like he's ready. He doesn't know Zayn well enough and even though they might bond, both being gay and all, he can't. Not yet.

"Niall seems to like you. You'd make a good couple."

"What?" Harry almost bites on his tongue. He can't believe Zayn's saying these things to him.

"You and Niall. Good couple," Zayn's talking to him like he's stupid.

"I, but I don't, we don't even, we just met," Harry tries.

"So what? Ask him out, get to know him a bit better."

"But he's not -," Harry starts.

"Oh yes he is my friend, he very well is."

"Oh," Harry breaths out because oh. He didn't see that coming.

"Oh indeed. I'm sure he would have told you soon enough. He is quite open about it."

"Okay," Harry nods, too dumbfounded to say anything else.

"Just ask him out, yeah?"

Harry doesn't answer. He thinks he might be in shock. Zayn has definitely traumatised him.

Harry isn't used to people being so straight forward.

 

Niall's a great player, it turns out.

After the first half, Niall's team leads 2-0. Harry has been clapping a lot and Zayn's been more vocal, mainly cheering his boyfriend. Harry feels too awkward to be vocal so he has settled for clapping.

When the game continues, Zayn is full on yelling again, cheering for Liam, Niall and Louis now. When Niall catches the ball and starts running towards the goal, Zayn stands up, Harry following him. They both watch the situation eagerly, Harry's fists curling into tight balls. He doesn't even notice it, waiting anxiously, suddenly screaming from the top of his lungs.

"Fucking get in! Go Niall," Zayn's shouting, throwing his arms up. Harry's shouting too, he doesn't even realise it until Zayn's looking at him with a grin on his face.

"Your boyfriend is pretty good, huh?" Zayn asks and Harry blushes heavily.

"Shut up," he murmurs and Zayn only laughs before pulling him in for a quick hug.

"You're a great guy, Harry," Zayn says after pulling away from the hug, ruffling Harry's curls.

"T-Thanks," Harry stutters. His eyes focus back on the field and he spots Niall, currently being hugged by all his teammates.

The game continues soon and Harry feels surprised when Niall suddenly waves at them. He hesitates but waves back, Zayn nudging his side, mumbling something about boyfriends. Harry silently thinks if Zayn won't stop, he needs to make him but of course, he doesn't say it out loud.

Being with Zayn is easy, too. Harry wonders how it can be so easy, they have barely exchange a word before this but still, it feels like they've known each other for ages. He smiles at the thought, reminding himself to tell Niall how nice his friends are.

 

Niall's team wins 3-0. Harry watches them all hugging, Louis breaking free from the hug and jogging towards them. Zayn gets up and walks towards his boyfriend. They hug tightly and Harry watches them in awe until he notices Niall.

Niall, who is walking directly to him. Harry hesitates but stands up, going closer until he reaches the field. Niall's smiling widely and he is sweaty, his hair a proper mess. He walks straight to Harry and pulls him into a hug, holding on tight.

"You were great," Harry finds himself murmuring as he hugs Niall back before pulling away.

"Thanks," Niall grins.

"Are you busy?" He then asks, Harry shaking his head.

"Great. Let's go grab a bite once I've showered, yeah?"

"Okay," Harry breaths out.

"We're not going to McDonald's, though," Niall adds, still grinning.

"No," Harry shakes his head, smiling a little himself although it's not that funny, he thinks.

"I'm going to shower and change really quick. Ten minutes, tops. Wait for me here?"

"Sure," Harry nods, watching Niall jogging away, definitely not staring at his bottom again.

Zayn stays with him, waiting for Louis to come. He's faster than Niall and Harry's soon left alone, getting lost in his thoughts. He thinks about what Zayn told him, Niall being gay, wondering if it's true.

He wonders if he would have a chance. Niall is so gorgeous, so amazing and Harry being enough wouldn't make any sense. Harry thinks Niall could have anyone if he wanted, could probably turn a straight guy gay if he wanted to. That's how gorgeous he is, at least in Harry's eyes.

"Hi," Niall's back, scaring Harry.

"Fuck," Harry breaths out, bringing his hand on his chest.

"You scared me," he admits and Niall chuckles.

"Sorry. Ready to go?"

Harry nods his head, following Niall out of the football field. Niall asks where he wants to go and he shrugs his shoulders since he doesn't care that much.

"Pizza Hut?"

"Sure," Harry immediately agrees on it.

"You were really good," he then continues saying as they're walking. He wants to try and be more talkative now, for some reason feeling like he needs to prove something to Niall. He wants to make an effort, in hopes that Niall would give him a chance.

"Thanks," Niall grins at him.

"Told you you'd be my lucky charm," he then says, tone playful. Harry chuckles and blushes, turning his eyes away.

He wonders if he should bring up a certain topic. He wants to make sure he understood Zayn correctly and he wasn't just talking bullshit. Harry feels like he needs to know but he isn't sure how he's going to bring it up.

"So uh, are you like, dating someone?"

"Where did that come from?" Niall laughs.

Harry knows it was a massive fail and he wants to fade away, extremely embarrassed of himself. They're just about to reach the pizzeria and he thought asking Niall if he's single might help with the sexuality topic. Obviously it hasn't helped at all, seeing as Harry only made a fool out of himself.

"No, I'm not," Niall then answers, sounding casual about it. He opens the restaurant door for Harry, letting him in first.

"Are you?" He asks as they stand in the small waiting line, Harry looking at the different pizza options, trying to decide what to get.

"No," he mumbles, chewing on his lower lip, still looking at the options.

"I was – I had someone before I left to Finland. We broke up because I left," Niall then reveals.

Harry gets his first hint, Niall's not using pronouns.

"Why didn't you get back together when you came back?" Harry blurts out, not really wanting to hear the answer. His heart aches already and he curses his own stupidity.

"Oh, the person turned out to be an asshole, really," Niall sounds cheerful, making Harry relax the tiniest.

"I've never been with someone," he awkwardly mumbles just before they're ordering. Niall looks surprised but nods, then telling his order to the worker. Harry tells his order and they go to a table, Niall choosing one in the back. It's peaceful and Harry has his back to the other people, which means he can relax. He hates sitting so he's facing people, liking them being behind his back.

"You've never been in a relationship?" Niall questions, raising his eyebrows. Harry notices how Niall's hand is resting on the table and momentarily, he wants to take it in his. Then he comes back to his senses, remembering to answer to the question.

"No," he shakes his head.

"How come?"

He thinks about his options. He could come out right at the very second which he really wants to do, but he is scared. Although he is almost certain Niall's gay, too, coming out to him is scary.

"Fuck," Harry accidentally whimpers, Niall looking confused.

"What's wrong?" He hesitantly asks.

"I just," Harry sighs, then shaking his head.

"Nothing."

"No, Harry, come on. You can tell me," Niall leans forward and suddenly does something that takes Harry off guard. He grabs Harry's hand, squeezing it gently, keeping his eyes on Harry's. Niall doesn't remove his hand immediately, curling his fingers tighter around Harry's hand before letting go.

Harry feels like he can't breath.

"Sorry, I just," Niall mumbles, gesturing towards Harry's hand.

"No, it's," Harry tries to say.

Their moment is gone when a waiter brings their pizzas to the table. Harry gulps, looking down, wondering if he should tell. He takes a deep breath, looking at Niall who is already looking at him.

"I'm," he starts, voice gone so quiet it's barely audible. His heart is beating impossibly fast but he tries to ignore it, knowing already Niall doesn't mind. He would never, Harry knows that.

"Gay," he mumbles, turning his eyes away.

"Har," he hears Niall saying, his voice sounding soft.

"I'm too."

Harry raises his head, chewing on his lower lip, looking Niall in the eyes. Niall's smiling that smile again, that soft smile. Harry sighs in relief, nodding his head a bit, offering Niall a shy smile.

"I didn't think," Niall suddenly says before taking the first bite of his pizza.

"No, me neither," Harry gets it, blushing slightly, cutting a slice for himself.

They begin to eat in silence but it's not uncomfortable.

"Harry?"

Harry raises his head immediately, looking at Niall.

"When did you -" Niall stops there. Harry wonders why asking these questions is so hard but then again, it doesn't seem to matter. They still understand each other.

"Years ago. Like five," Harry murmurs.

"Yeah, me too. I was thirteen."

"So your ex," Harry stops there.

"A guy, yeah."

"Okay."

The conversation slowly becomes awkward and they both focus back to eating. Harry is about to finish, starting to feel anxious for some reason. There's something tormenting about the situation and he glances at Niall, seeing him frowning.

Harry's heart is beating fast in his chest and for the first time in days, he doesn't feel comfortable around Niall. Out of nowhere, it's difficult. Everything is difficult, even breathing and momentarily, he feels like he's suffocating.

He's panicking, he realises.

"Niall I," Harry croaks, inhaling deeply.

"Panic attack," he somehow manages to breath out, quietly, desperately. Niall's eyes widen but he reacts fast, standing up, half eaten pizza completely forgotten. He grabs Harry's arm, leading him out of the restaurant. They must look crazy, rushing off like that but Harry doesn't really care about it. He's too busy freaking out.

"Fuck," he cries out when they're around the corner, in a small side alley. He slides against the building, breathing heavy now.

"Breathe," Niall's there again, sitting next to him. Harry is pressing his knees to his chest, arms around his legs. He tries to breath, hyperventilating, feeling like fainting. He closes his eyes, feeling Niall's hand searching for his, fingers wrapping around the back of his hand.

"Breathe Harry," Niall's voice murmurs close to his ear, other hand pressing against his neck in a comforting way. It feels a lot like last time, Harry realises, apart from them holding hands. He tries focusing on that, Niall's voice, keeping him sane. Niall's hand in his, other hand on his neck, warm and secure. Harry focuses on them, listening to Niall's soft voice, keeping his eyes closed.

The world is spinning around when he opens his eyes but he feels more calm, breathing more stable now. He takes a few deep breaths and bursts into tears then which isn't surprising, considering it happens every time. Harry can't seem to have a panic attack without crying, it always happens, as embarrassing as it is.

"Shhh," he hears Niall trying to calm him.

"It's okay," he hears, then feeling Niall wrapping his arm around Harry's shoulders. Somehow, Niall manages to wrap his other arm around Harry's middle, snaking it between his arm and leg. Now he's holding Harry, face pressing against his shoulder.

Eventually, Harry calms down. He feels embarrassed, thinking it's the second time in two weeks this has happened while Niall's around. It's humiliating. He feels Niall moving around, chin pressing on his shoulder, arms wrapping around his. There's something so loving about it Harry feels like melting and he finally raises his head. It feels almost like Niall's trying to anchor him there, holding onto his arm, chin on his shoulder.

"Better?" Niall murmurs.

"Yeah," Harry breaths out.

They sit there for a while, Niall still holding onto Harry tightly. Harry hesitates before bringing his hand on Niall's bicep, just resting it there.

"Do you want me to walk you home?"

"Yeah," Harry answers because there's no point of saying no, Niall would do it anyway. He knows, somehow he does.

The walk to Harry's goes by in silence. Their hands keep brushing against each other and Harry desperately wants to take a hold of Niall's hand but he doesn't.

"See you tomorrow," Harry sounds a bit awkward, stopping by the gate to his front yard.

"By the park?" Niall makes sure and Harry nods, avoiding making eye-contact now. It feels uncomfortable again and suddenly, he wishes Niall wouldn't know. He wishes he wouldn't have told Niall anything. It has made it terribly uncomfortable for him now which he didn't want.

"Are you okay?" Niall makes sure and Harry nods.

"I can like, keep you company if you want. I don't have to go home yet."

"No, it's fine," Harry says. A part of him wants Niall to stay but there's a bigger part that's saying he should be alone now.

"You sure?" Niall is chewing on his lower lip.

"Yeah."

Niall steps forward and for a second, Harry thinks he's going in for a kiss but of course it doesn't happen. Instead, Niall carefully wraps his arms around Harry's lower back, pulling him in for a gentle hug. Harry wraps his arms around Niall's shoulders, thinking Niall feels small like this.

They hug for a while, Harry not feeling like he wants to let go. Eventually he does, Niall squeezing his hip before letting go completely, smiling somewhat sadly. He reaches forward again, hand finding Harry's to squeeze it for a second, then letting go.

"See you tomorrow," Niall murmurs.

"See you," Harry breaths out. He watches Niall walking away until he is only a small spot at the end of the street. Harry sighs, wondering why he is such a fuck up.

 

-

 

"Hey Har? There's this cool party this evening," Niall suddenly informs in the middle of their lunch hour.

It's been roughly a week since Harry's panic attack episode and he still hasn't forgotten about it. Him and Niall haven't talked about it, haven't discussed what they confessed to each other at the pizzeria last week. It doesn't matter though, Harry thinks, they will discuss it eventually. He's almost certain about it.

Things went back to normal the next day, he recalls. Niall was his normal self the next morning, hugging Harry as if nothing had changed between them. Maybe nothing had changed, hasn't, Harry thinks. Then again, it feels different.

They have spent almost all their free time together and they have become closer. Niall has been touchy, Harry thinks, blushing at the thought. It's true though, Niall has started hugging him every morning and has a habit of squeezing either his shoulder or bicep from time to time. He has also ruffled Harry's hair at least twice a day for the past week, and it all confuses Harry. He doesn't understand what it means.

"No," Harry mumbles, mouth full of food.

"What do you mean no? We should go."

"You go," Harry tries to shrug it off. He can feel Liam and Louis staring at them, it's just the four of them today, Zayn's sick at home.

"I want you to come with me," Niall murmurs, quiet enough so Liam and Louis can't hear them anymore. Niall's hand finds Harry's wrist, fingers curling around it for a moment.

"I can't," Harry whispers back, letting his eyes meet Niall's, trying to signal something. Finally, Niall gets it.

"Movie night at my house then?"

"Niall," Harry sighs, not really knowing how to explain what he wants to say. He decides to close his mouth, not saying a word.

"Liam?" Niall's then asking.

"I'm going to that party," Harry hears Liam answering.

"Louis?"

"I'm hanging out with Zayn."

"See Har, you're my only option," Niall is poking his shoulder.

"Go to the party," Harry murmurs.

"But I want to hang out with you."

"Don't you want to go to the party?" Harry asks, feeling confused. He looks at Niall again, watching Niall pouting his lower lip. It makes him chuckle a bit.

"Okay," he breaths out.

"Okay movie night?" Niall makes sure.

"Yeah."

"Yes, get in!"

Harry laughs at that, Niall beaming and squeezing his bicep before focusing back on his lunch. Harry looks at Louis and Liam who both have smug looks on their faces. Harry raises his eyebrows, confused. It doesn't help, Louis and Liam ignore him and start a conversation.

 

"Har? What time are you coming to mine?" Niall whispers during geography class.

"I need to go home first," Harry murmurs back.

"Can I come?" Niall's beaming and Harry can't possibly say no so he ends up nodding his head.

Niall's never been to his house before. Although they have spent a lot of time together after school, it's always been at Niall's. Harry doesn't know why exactly he hasn't invited Niall to his house before but he thinks it's about time.

 

"You transferred last September right?" Niall asks as they're walking towards Harry's after school.

"Yeah," Harry can already feel himself becoming anxious. It doesn't sound like a safe topic to talk about and he doesn't want to discuss it, desperate to change the subject already.

"You never told me why."

"We moved," Harry quickly lies.

"But you told me you've always lived here," Harry can see Niall scrunching his nose, looking deep in thought. Suddenly, he seems to get it. It's a like a light bulb lights above his head and he stops on his spot, looking at Harry with widened eyes.

"You were – oh fuck, I'm sorry Harry."

"It's fine." Harry's eyes are already filling with tears and he continues walking, feeling Niall clinging to his arm.

"I'm sorry."

"It's fine," Harry repeats himself, noticing how Niall's fingers are still curled around his upper arm.

"I want to ask you something," Niall then says, sounding slightly nervous. He finally lets go of Harry's arm, just when they reach Harry's house, Harry letting Niall walk to the door first.

"Okay," Harry remembers to say, wondering why Niall seems so nervous about it.

"Coffee first!" Niall announces, letting out a nervous laugh. Harry sighs but doesn't mention Niall's odd behaviour, leading him to the kitchen. He makes them coffee, offering Niall a muffin his mum baked yesterday, leading him to the dining room table once the coffee is ready.

"So?" Harry asks once they've sat down opposite of each other.

"So," Niall breaths out, curling his fingers around the coffee mug.

"I just, I'm just going to ask okay? I don't know how else, fuck. I'm just going to ask," he breaths out fast.

"How bad is the bullying? Be honest with me."

Harry doesn't know how to. He stares down at his mug, taking a sip, avoiding Niall's eyes. He doesn't know what exactly to answer, thinking about it for a while. It's Niall, he can be honest, he then thinks.

"Bearable. I just don't, didn't, have friends," he shrugs his shoulders.

"You changed schools because of that and now, oh fuck Harry."

Harry just shrugs his shoulders again, avoiding to look at Niall.

"I wish I had known, I mean I had been back for a while already when we were put together as partners. It doesn't matter though, I'm not going to let them do that to you. How many are there besides Cody?"

Harry shakes his head, eyes filling with tears. He doesn't want to start naming people, he thinks.

"No one from the football team though, right?" Harry shakes his head because no, he doesn't think anyone from the team has been bullying him.

"Someone I know?"

Harry nods his head at that.

"Just tell me," Niall sounds like he's begging.

"B-Brian," Harry manages to stutter.

"And Oli and Marcus from upper grade," he continues, whispering quietly.

"Others just, ignore me. Talk shit behind my back," he whispers so quietly it's barely audible.

"Harry," he hears Niall sighing.

"It's fine," Harry raises his head, finally making an eye-contact.

"Really, it used to be worse. I can manage. Few months," he breaths it all out at once.

"Aren't you doing a-levels?" Niall questions.

"I was thinking of changing to another school," Harry murmurs, sipping his coffee.

He wonders what Niall's doing when he gets up, coming to the other side of the table, sitting on the chair next to Harry's. Without a word, he wraps his arms around Harry's shoulders, hugging him sideways.

They both keep quiet. Harry hesitates before bringing his hand on Niall's side, sort of hugging him back. Niall is resting his cheek on Harry's shoulder and Harry tries to peek at him.

"I'm happy I got to know you," Niall's suddenly murmuring.

"Now you have me and the lads and we're going to protect you."

"I don't, Niall I don't need protection. I can manage," Harry sighs.

"We'll do it anyway," he hears Niall saying.

"No Niall I'm -"

"If you say you're fine, I'm going to strangle you."

Harry closes his mouth, not bothering to say anything. Niall sits up straight, reaching to grab his coffee mug. He does something unexpected then, leaning in to press a kiss on Harry's cheek. It's just a small peck but it causes Harry's skin to feel like it's burning. He blushes heavily and his heart beats so fast he thinks he's going to have a heart attack.

"When's your mum coming home? I want to meet her," Niall changes the subject, poking Harry's shoulder. Harry silently thinks he is dealing with an absolute child. He smiles fondly at Niall though before answering.

"Between four and five."

"Can I meet her?"

"Sure," Harry agrees on it, knowing his mum is going to burst from happiness.

 

He is right.

His mum can't stop smiling, asking Niall all kinds of questions and somehow talking them into staying for dinner. Harry remembers to ask if he can stay at Niall's for the night, his mum immediately agreeing on it.

 

 

Niall wants to watch a scary film. Harry hates scary films.

Niall's dad is out of town for the weekend which is disappointing. Harry really wanted to meet him but Niall keeps telling him one day, promising he'll introduce them.

"Popcorn?" He asks, Harry half laying on the couch. He is wearing grey sweatpants and a hoodie, Niall has a similar outfit expect he has pyjama bottoms on.

"Do we have to watch a scary film?" Harry whines once Niall is back, blobbing down next to him and lifting his legs up on a footstool.

"It's not that scary," Niall promises, patting Harry's thigh gently before letting his hand drop between them. Harry looks down, their hands almost touching between their legs. He desperately wants to take Niall's hand in his, wondering if Niall feels the same way.

He so badly wants Niall to feel the same way.

Fifteen minutes down the movie, Harry is whimpering and covering his eyes. Niall's chuckling at him as he continues whimpering and hiding his face, not wanting to see. There are zombies and blood and it's all a bit too scary for Harry's liking and eventually, he ends up burying his face on Niall's shoulder.

He feels Niall wrapping his arm around Harry's shoulders, pulling him closer. Harry turns his head, cheek pressed on Niall's shoulder now, heart beating faster than it did seconds earlier. He can't stop wondering if Niall might feel the same way, if friendship isn't enough for him either.

Harry wants to try and make a move, or say something, hint something. He feels scared though, knowing there's a chance of him screwing things up. He decides he needs to be patient and see if Niall will make a move, maybe it's not today but some other day in the future. They haven't known each other for that long, there's no reason to rush it, Harry thinks. They have time.

Harry shifts a bit closer to Niall, Niall's arm tightening around his shoulders. His position is a bit awkward but he decides not to care, staring down at Niall's lap, wondering if he should put his hand on Niall's thigh. He doesn't get the chance though because Niall murmurs about going to the bathroom and is suddenly standing up already, leaving Harry alone.

There's something different about tonight, Harry thinks while Niall's away. Something is different, has changed between them. He doesn't know if it was the earlier talk or Niall being around his house and seeing his mum, or what it is, but it must be something.

He hears Niall coming back. Niall sits next to him again, thigh pressing against his. Harry tries to look like he's focusing on the movie, wanting to turn his eyes away when someone gets killed. He lets out an accidental whimper, chewing on his lower lip.

"Harry," Niall's tone is soft and Harry turns his head to look at Niall.

Instead of saying something, Niall simply smiles. Harry keeps looking at him, then feeling Niall's fingers touching the back of his hand, thumb brushing over his skin. Niall continues looking at him, looking like he's asking for something and Harry gets it, turning his hand around and opening his palm.

Niall's hand fits in his perfectly, fingers lacing with Harry's, curling around his hand. Harry smiles shyly, biting his lower lip and Niall seems a bit shy too but squeezes Harry's hand.

Harry absolutely can't focus on the movie. For the rest of the film, he keeps glancing down at their intertwined hands, wondering what it means. Niall's hand is warm and he keeps swiping his thumb over Harry's skin, caressing wherever he can reach. The gesture is so gentle it makes Harry's heart flutter a bit faster.

The movie ends then and Niall lets go of his hand, much to Harry's disappointment. Niall reaches to grab the remote, clicking the movie off. The silence is tormenting now and Harry desperately wants to break it but he doesn't know what to say.

"Harry? I'm happy we didn't go to that party," Niall's speaking softly, thigh pressing against his again.

"Me too," Harry turns to look at him, blushing the slightest.

"What do you want to do now?" Niall asks, still using a soft tone, raising his hand on Harry's shoulder. He squeezes gently, leaving his hand there. Harry wants to tilt his head and rub his cheek against the back of Niall's hand but he doesn't, feeling shy.

"I don't know," Harry breaths out.

"We could – just go lay down – talk. Or is that lame?"

"No," Harry truthfully says because he doesn't think it's lame at all.

He finds himself in Niall's bedroom then, hesitating before sitting on the bed. Niall jumps on it, landing on his stomach, laughing loudly. Harry chuckles too, deciding he might as well get comfortable, laying on his back.

 

They end up doing exactly what Niall suggested. They are laying down and talking, for hours and hours, until they're both exhausted and it's one o'clock at night.

Niall's yawning and Harry thinks he looks cute. He can't take his eyes off of Niall, even when he catches Harry staring, smiling lazily. They're both on their backs but Niall turns on his side, taking Harry off guard by snuggling on his side, pressing his face on Harry's arm.

"I want to sleep," Niall whines.

"Me too," Harry admits.

With a loud whine, Niall rolls off of the bed, standing up and saying he needs to brush his teeth. Harry follows him to the bathroom, doing the same, a sudden thought hitting him.

Where is he going to sleep?

"Niall?" Harry hesitantly asks after flushing his mouth, waiting for Niall to finish.

"Do you like – have a guest room or where am I going to sleep?" He awkwardly asks.

"With me, I want to cuddle," Niall sounds casual about it and Harry gasps and then starts to cough. He takes a minute to calm down, looking at Niall with widened eyes.

"If you want to," Niall mumbles and Harry notices his cheeks are reddened.

"Yeah," Harry finds himself mumbling, blushing heavily and walking out of the bathroom. He takes off his hoodie, planning on sleeping in the sweatpants and a t-shirt he's wearing. He peeks at Niall who is already laying in the bed, snuggling under the covers.

"Turn off the lights," Niall tells him, yawning.

Harry has never shared a bed with someone before. He feels awkward about it even though he wants to do it, he wants nothing more than to fall asleep next to Niall. He still wonders what's going on, what their hand holding means and what's going to happen now.

All he knows is that he really wants to kiss Niall.

He slips under the covers too, laying on his back. It's dark but he can still see, there's a dim light coming from underneath the bathroom door. He wonders what Niall's thinking about, thinking maybe he should just ask.

"Harry?" Niall is faster, shifting a bit closer.

"Have you ever been in love?"

Harry doesn't have to think about it for long, knowing the answer already.

"No," he says.

"Have you?"

"No," he hears Niall answering.

"But like, I might be, soon enough. Ask me again in a few weeks and I might say yes."

"What are you talking about?" Harry asks because he has no idea. He feels Niall's fingers touching his hand, right before Niall takes a hold of his hand. Harry turns his head, trying to see him in the dark.

"I like you," Niall simply says and Harry's breath hitches. He doesn't have an answer for that, he is too dumbfounded to say anything. Niall lets go of his hand then, turning on his side, facing Harry who soon follows him. They lay in silence, darkness surrounding them, a dim light lighting the room enough so Harry can see Niall's features. Niall shifts closer to him, resting his head on Harry's pillow.

Harry sighs, closing his eyes. He is feeling brave, wanting to touch, blindly searching for Niall's body, resting his hand on the curve of Niall's hip. Niall brings his hand on Harry's hip on the same spot and Harry can feel him moving the hem of his shirt higher with his thumb, swiping over the bare skin.

Harry carefully moves his hand, caressing up Niall's side, avoiding to go too close to his ribs. He guesses Niall could be ticklish, not wanting to ruin the moment, moving his hand on Niall's lower back. He rests it there for a moment before pressing gently, trying to signal something. Niall gets it, scooping closer, starting to draw circles on Harry's bare skin with his fingertips.

Harry's eyes are still closed and he hears Niall moving around. Suddenly, the tip of Niall's nose is touching his. He can feel Niall's hot breath against his lips and he shivers but stays still, heart beating loud in his chest.

A few seconds later, he feels Niall's lips against the corner of his mouth, pressing a tiny peck there. At first, Harry thinks he's dreaming. He feels Niall's nose brushing against his then and he realises it's not a dream, it happened, it's all real. He opens his eyes, finding it impossible to look into Niall's. They're too close.

Niall brings his hand on Harry's face, brushing his fingers against Harry's cheek before tracing his hairline with his fingertips. He brushes a few curls to the back of Harry's ear in such a gentle way, running his fingers down Harry's neck, causing him to shiver.

Niall moves to his shoulder then, going down his arm, only to come back up again, brushing his thumb against Harry's collarbone. Harry shivers again, having no clue what Niall is doing but letting him, closing his eyes, enjoying the touch.

Niall has never touched him like this before. It's so careful, gentle, soft. Harry feels a touch on his cheek, opening his eyes again. Niall is tracing his eyebrow with his thumb, running the back of his fingers against Harry's temple. Their faces are still close but Harry's able to look Niall in the eyes now.

There's no smile on Niall's face, instead he looks death serious. Harry doesn't even realise he is moving his hand, bringing it to Niall's cheek, caressing the soft skin. He doesn't know what he's doing but he continues caressing Niall's skin, tracing his jawline, brushing his thumb across Niall's chin.

Niall stops moving his hand when Harry traces his bottom lip with his thumb, bringing it from the left corner to the right. Harry can feel Niall's breath hitching, looking him in the eyes. It feels like they both freeze for a moment before Niall moves, scooping closer again.

Harry feels brave when he moves his thumb, caressing over Niall's bottom lip, touch feathery. Niall parts his lips, leaning in, nose bumping against Harry's. He cups Harry's cheek and that's when Harry stops thinking completely. He moves his own hand on Niall's cheek, cupping it gently, closing his eyes when Niall leans in. At first, Niall only presses a tiny peck on his upper lip, keeping their lips almost touching. Then he kisses Harry again, this time more properly.

Harry kisses back carefully, slowly moving his lips against Niall's. The kiss is soft and neither of them deepen it, hesitantly kissing each other. It soon turns into series of soft, feathery pecks until Harry pulls away, taking a deep breath. He opens his eyes, realising Niall's already looking at him. Neither of them say a word, they aren't smiling, just laying there. Harry swipes his thumb over Niall's cheek before moving his hand, going down, placing his hand on the small of Niall's back.

"Harry," Niall whispers, his breath tickling Harry's lips.

"Can I kiss you again?" He asks, still whispering. Harry doesn't bother answering, heart beating loud in his chest when he leans in to press his lips on Niall's for the second time.

"Do you want to," Niall murmurs against his lips, leaning back the slightest, fingertips brushing on Harry's cheek.

"Go out with me? Like on a date. I want to take you out," he murmurs.

"Yeah," Harry breaths out, as simple as that. He thinks he has never felt so comfortable around someone in his life, wrapping his arm completely around Niall's back. Niall leans in then and takes Harry off guard by pressing a peck on the tip of his nose, the gesture so gentle Harry's heart flutters a bit faster.

"Niall," he then remembers to say, his voice coming out as a whisper.

"I like you too."

"I know, I kind of figured it out already," Niall's chuckling softly.

"When are you taking me out?" Harry then asks.

"Whenever you want. Tomorrow, Sunday, next week. Every day if that's what you want."

"Niall," Harry chuckles.

"I'm serious," Niall protests, squeezing Harry's bicep in a gentle way.

"Tomorrow," Harry decides. He doesn't think he can wait longer.

"Can we sleep now?" Niall asks and Harry hums at that. He bites his lower lip, looking into Niall's eyes, seeing Niall leaning in then. He automatically closes his eyes, kissing Niall back. They keep it simple, Niall humming into the kiss, gently biting on Harry's lower lip before pecking his lips.

"Niall?" Harry whispers, smiling when Niall keeps pecking his lips.

"Do you really like me?" He has to ask, whispering again, his lips brushing against Niall's by each word.

"Yeah," he hears Niall murmuring against his lips, pecking them softly.

"I really, really do," Niall continues before kissing him more properly.

"Turn around," Niall soon murmurs against Harry's lips, pecking them one more time before leaning away.

"Why?" Harry questions.

"I want to be the big spoon."

"Okay," Harry happily agrees to it, turning his back on Niall. He can't stop smiling, feeling Niall's body pressing against his back, arm snaking around his middle. He hesitates before bringing his hand on Niall's, wrapping his fingers around it, closing his eyes.

"Goodnight," he hears a quiet murmur and then, Niall places a kiss on his neck, causing him to shiver.

"Goodnight," he murmurs back, falling asleep with one thought on his mind.

Are we boyfriends now?

 

-

 

Harry wakes up alone.

At first he is confused, patting the space behind him but no, Niall's really not there. He blinks, trying to adjust to the bright light. He hears noises from the bathroom then, sighing in relief, realising Niall must be there.

"Niall?" He hesitantly decides to call.

"Oh, morning," Niall's poking his head to the bedroom, toothbrush in his mouth.

"Good you're awake. I was thinking, if you want, I could take you out for breakfast. Options are a bit limited since I can't drive yet but maybe that one bakery nearby, you know Sally's? They have great breakfast buffet, you're going to love it. You can shower too if you want, I'll borrow you clean clothes and -"

"Niall," Harry chuckles, getting up from the bed. He stands up, walking over and stepping inside the bathroom. Niall blinks at him, looking confused.

"Stop rambling," Harry tells him.

"Yeah, sorry. What do you say though? Yes for breakfast?"

"Yes," Harry nods, reaching to grab his toothbrush. Niall grins at him happily, continuing to brush his teeth. It isn't until then when Harry realises Niall's changed already, his hair wet. He must have woken earlier and taken a shower.

"I want to shower though," Harry shyly says.

"Did you bring any spare clothes?" Niall asks and Harry nods because he does have a pair of jeans and a clean shirt in his bag along with clean boxers, just in case.

"I'll get you a towel," Niall says, putting his brush away. He smiles at Harry through the mirror before rushing away, leaving Harry alone, thinking he really wants to kiss Niall. He remembers to get his bag from the bedroom, wanting his clothes to the bathroom so he can change there.

Niall smells great and looks too, Harry then thinks. When Niall comes back, he hands over a towel, about to leave the room when Harry grabs his collar.

"What-" Niall's about to ask when Harry cups his cheeks, leaning in without thinking and pressing his lips on Niall's.

He never acts so impulsively and it's odd but good, too. He thinks he should start being more brave especially now that he knows Niall likes him. He needs to take chances too, it can't always be Niall doing everything, he needs to, too. Which is exactly why he's doing this.

"Oh," Niall breaths out when Harry leans away.

"Yeah," Harry smiles shyly, watching a grin growing on Niall's face.

"Go take that shower," Niall smiles at him fondly, tapping his nose. Harry scrunches it, chuckling a bit then, a wide smile growing on his face. Niall leans in again, only brushing their lips together for a small peck before stepping out of the room.

Harry absolutely can't stop smiling as he showers, thinking it's possibly the best day of his life.

 

"I wish I had my license already," Niall says when Harry steps back to the bedroom, drying his hair with a towel.

"Isn't your dad teaching you? When's your birthday?" Harry realises to ask, suddenly remembering he has no clue when Niall turns eighteen.

"September 13th. Yeah he is but he doesn't have much time," Niall sighs.

Harry is about to ask where Niall's mum is but he doesn't, realising it might be a touchy subject. Niall never mentions his mother and Harry reasons if he wants to talk about it, he will.

"Ready to go? I'm starving," Niall stands up and Harry nods, then wondering about something.

"Should I take my things with me?"

"Probably. Unless you want to stay here for another night," Niall suggests, grinning happily.

"Well yeah but I don't think my mum- you know," Harry sighs, picking up his bag.

 

"Harry?" Niall asks as they're walking towards Sally's, a small bakery nearby. He brushes his fingers against the back of Harry's hand and Harry stiffens, immediately realising the hint.

"I don't, Niall I don't," he tries to say, not able to form more words.

"No, it's fine, I get it, don't worry about it," Niall says, sounding casual about it. Harry peeks at him, unable to tell what Niall's thinking about.

"I just, I haven't. I've never been with anyone before, you know that. I'm not, used to," Harry struggles with his words.

"Is that what this is?" Niall asks, suddenly stopping. They're standing on a sidewalk, almost about to reach the small bakery, Harry stopping too.

"Is this what?" Harry doesn't understand it, knitting his brows.

"You being with me," Niall says.

"I am with you right now," Harry's brows knit to a thin line as he tries thinking about it.

"Oh," he finally gets it, Niall grinning happily at him.

"I eh," Harry starts stuttering, blushing heavily.

"Do you – Do you want to be with me? Like properly?" Niall asks, stepping forward, closer to him.

"Like – boyfriends?" Harry's eyes widen and he stares at Niall, mouth slightly open.

"Yeah," Niall breaths out, nodding his head.

"Oh. I, fuck, shit," Harry curses, clearing his throat. He blushes because he never curses, Niall chuckling at that.

"Yeah," Harry then gives his answer, smiling shyly now, Niall grinning.

"I'm going to kiss you really quick," Niall says, looking to his left and right before leaning in, giving Harry the quickest peck.

"That was the most unromantic thing ever, wasn't it?" Niall then jokes, referring to the whole situation.

"Yeah," Harry chuckles.

"I don't mind though," he remembers to add, fixing the bag on his shoulder before they start walking again, reaching the small bakery in no time.

"Me neither. I'm just happy," Niall comments, opening the door for Harry.

"Me too," Harry confesses, smiling still a bit shyly.

He can't believe he has a boyfriend. He also can't believe his boyfriend is Niall who is the hottest guy he knows, the most beautiful, amazing person.

"What are you going to get?" Niall asks, pointing at signs that tell exactly what the bakery is serving. He lets his hand drop then, brushing his fingers against Harry's hand, causing him to smile a little.

"Toast and pancakes," Harry settles with, Niall ordering the same and getting two lattes. He pays, Harry trying to protest but Niall shushes him fast, whispering how he promised to take Harry out.

"Our first date," Niall breaths out once they've sat down on corner table. There are only few people around and they're all sitting further away which gives them some privacy.

Harry smiles, looking happy, sipping his coffee before beginning to eat. They're both eating fast, starving, Niall emptying his plate in a few minutes. He looks deep in thought then and Harry pokes his hand, raising his eyebrows at Niall, silently asking 'what is it'.

"I was just thinking, you know about school. You probably aren't ready to, yeah," Niall breaths out and Harry smiles sadly, shaking his head.

"It's fine, I don't think I'm either. Some people know like the team, I just, I didn't have the chance to come out before I left," Niall explains.

"We can take it slow," he then continues.

"See what feels good and what you're comfortable with. We won't do anything you're not comfortable with."

Harry nods, smiling and feeling grateful that Niall's so understanding. He knew it, knew that Niall would be like this, supportive and understanding.

"I will be ready, eventually," Harry breaths out.

"Have you ever -" he then starts asking, blushing and closing his mouth.

"Never mind."

"No, tell me," Niall's fast to say.

"Had sex," Harry murmurs fast before he can regret it, blush deepening on his cheeks. He whimpers and hides his face under his palms, hearing Niall chuckling.

"Harry, you don't need to be embarrassed. You can ask me stuff."

"Okay," Harry says, peeking at Niall behind his fingers, finally letting his hands drop on his lap.

"I've never, gone all the way," Niall admits.

"Have you..?" He then asks and Harry shakes his head furiously, still blushing.

"Nothing?"

Harry continues shaking his head and chewing on his lower lip, nervous now. He wonders if Niall minds, feeling himself stupid all of a sudden, thinking he has nothing to offer. He is an anxious, insecure person who has no friends, suffers from panic attacks, has never done anything but kissed another person and barely knows how to hold hands with someone.

He has no experience in relationships and it sucks. Then again, he gets to do everything with Niall. Everything they do is first time for Harry.

"I've never, last night was, I've never shared a bed with someone," Harry struggles with his words, smiling shyly at Niall, biting his lower lip again.

"Really?" Niall looks surprised and Harry nods.

"You're cute," Niall suddenly breaths out, smiling that soft, small smile again, the one that causes Harry's heart to flutter faster.

"Harry?" Niall asks after being quiet for a few minutes.

"Your mum's okay with this, right? You know, you and me, and like, you being gay."

"Yeah, of course," Harry breaths out.

"Good, great. My dad's too you know."

"Yeah, you told me," Harry reminds Niall who grins and nods.

"We're lucky," Niall then says.

"I guess we are," Harry smiles at that, brushing his fingers against the back of Niall's hand that's resting on the table.

 

"I'm walking you home," Niall decides once they're standing outside the bakery.

"You don't have to," Harry immediately protests, Niall silencing him by brushing his fingers against the back of Harry's hand. The gesture is gentle, making Harry want to take Niall's hand in his.

"You're my boyfriend now. I'll walk you home," Niall grins happily.

"Okay," Harry gives in.

He realises it's the first time Niall called him boyfriend, blushing at it. He looks around them, realising there are no people around. It's not surprising, they live in a small town which is half dead most of the time. Feeling brave, he searches for Niall's hand, taking it in his.

Niall looks surprised but smiles, lacing their fingers. He squeezes Harry's hand, beaming at him, looking extremely happy. When they notice someone further away, it's like a silent agreement, both of them letting go of the other one's hand at the same time.

Niall smiles at Harry and once the stranger has walked pass them, he reaches to take Harry's hand back in his.

"Niall?" Harry asks when a thought crosses his mind.

"Would you want to like, maybe come to mine tomorrow, for lunch?"

"Sure," Niall immediately answers, squeezing his hand and smiling brightly.

Once they reach Harry's house, Harry has an idea in mind. He drags Niall along with him through the front gate, dragging him behind tall bushes they have in their garden. His mum grew them so they'd have more privacy in their front yard and Harry has never appreciated the bushes more than right now. He wastes no time pulling Niall into a tight embrace, squeezing him gently.

"Oh you're clever," he hears Niall laughing, humming and nuzzling on Niall's neck.

"Text me," he then hears Niall mumbling.

"Of course," he murmurs, placing a quick kiss on Niall's cheek before pulling away from the hug.

They share a longing kiss, Niall smiling brightly afterwards. Harry's heart flutters in his chest and he leans in again to peck Niall's lips, thinking he could get used to this. He still has a hard time believing this is his boyfriend whom he gets to kiss whenever he wants.

"Bye," Niall pecks his lips one more time.

"Bye. I'll text you," Harry breaths out.

"Yeah," Niall's smiling, opening the small gate and stepping back to the street. He says bye again before walking away, Harry smiling after him before going to the front door.

 

They text the whole day to the point where it's sort of ridiculous.

It's nothing important, half of the time they just send emojis back and forth. Harry doesn't leave his mobile even for a minute, taking it with him even when he goes to pee. His mother isn't too impressed when he texts during dinner but she doesn't comment on it.

Niall tells tons of jokes and by the time it's 8.30 in the evening, Harry's already missing him. There's something so addictive about Niall and he wonders if he's in love.

Hey Harry guess what? Niall suddenly texts after not texting back for minutes.

Yeah? Harry answers.

I think you should look outside.

Harry rushes to his bedroom window, eyes widening in shock. Niall's standing on the side of the street, smiling and waving. Harry ignores the fact that he's in pyjamas, rushing downstairs. His mother calls his name, asking what sort of an emergency he has going on.

"Niall's outside," Harry breaths out and grins right after that.

"Go on then," his mother chuckles, Harry rushing off.

"Niall," he breaths out after running to the front yard, opening the gate. He reaches to grab Niall's hand, yanking him behind the tall bushes where they were standing earlier in the day. He doesn't waste any time pulling Niall in for a hug, squeezing him and nuzzling on his neck.

"What are you doing here?" He then murmurs, hugging Niall tight.

"I missed you," he hears Niall murmuring back.

He doesn't say anything to that, squeezing Niall again, not thinking when he presses his lips on Niall's skin, giving him a few pecks. He loses the track of time after that, continuing to hug Niall.

After what feels like ages they finally part and Niall cups Harry's cheeks, leaning in to kiss him. They keep it gentle, not deepening it, both of them enjoying it as it is.

"I was sitting home," Niall suddenly murmurs against Harry's lips before pecking them.

"And I kept missing you and then I thought," he gives Harry another peck.

"Why not just come by since you live so close."

Harry hums, pecking Niall's lips, pulling away to meet his eyes. Niall looks so happy, a wide smile on his face, eyes crinkling from the corners. Harry thinks he looks beautiful like this, leaning in to brush his nose against Niall's, giving him an Eskimo kiss.

"Do you want to come in?" Harry realises to ask.

"Doesn't your mum mind? It's quite late," Niall points out.

"No, I think she loves you already," Harry truthfully tells and Niall laughs at that.

"Am I still invited for lunch tomorrow?"

"Of course," Harry says, taking Niall's hand in his and leading them inside.

"Mum? Is it okay if Niall comes in for tea?"

"Of course darling," Anne is already coming to the hallway, smiling and looking happy.

"Hi Niall, nice to see you again."

"Nice to see you too," Niall politely says.

"I'll make some tea then. Niall honey, are you still joining us for lunch tomorrow?"

"Yeah, of course," Niall smiles at her, Harry squeezing his hand before guiding him to the dining room.

 

Niall ends up staying for an hour.

The three of them just talk about everything, keeping the conversation casual. Harry thinks he has never been happier, watching his boyfriend and mother getting along so well. Anne knows about them already, Harry told her everything the minute he came home in the morning.

"I should probably get going," Niall says and Harry realises it's getting late.

"Do you need a ride home?" Anne offers but Niall shakes his head.

"No that's okay, thank you. I can walk."

"I'll walk you to the door," Harry is fast to say, getting up already. His mother chuckles, wiggling her eyebrows at him and Harry groans, mouthing 'stop it' to her.

"What time should I come over tomorrow?" Niall remembers to ask.

"Oh around one is just fine love," Anne answers to him and Niall nods, thanking for the tea and saying bye.

"Your mum is so nice," Niall breaths out after Harry has closed the front door behind them, wanting some privacy so he can properly say bye to Niall.

"She really likes you," Harry says, smiling at Niall.

"I do too," he adds and Niall grins at that.

"I know," Niall answers before stepping closer, bringing his hands on Harry's hips.

"I'm happy you came," Harry mumbles, biting his lower lip and smiling a bit shyly. Niall's smile is warm and he leans in, first pecking Harry's nose before pressing his lips on Harry's.

"See you tomorrow," Niall whispers against Harry's lips.

"Text me," Harry wishes, Niall grinning at that.

"What?" Harry asks.

"You know I will," Niall chuckles, tapping Harry's nose with his finger. He pokes Harry's dimple then, mumbling something that sounds like 'cute' before pecking Harry's lips.

"I'll go now," he says.

"Yeah," Harry breaths out. They kiss one more time before Niall leaves, Harry watching him going. He sighs once Niall is out of his sight, touching his lips, a small smile creeping on his face.

He thinks he has somehow managed to fall hard for Niall and they've barely started dating. He shakes his head at the thought, going inside. Once he gets to his room, he notices he has a new message. He isn't surprised to see it's from Niall, a simple heart emoji, nothing else. His heart flutters to it and he smiles widely, sending one back himself.

 

-

 

"Babe," Niall murmurs, leaning closer to Harry's ear.

"Come to mine after school?" he whispers, purposely putting his hand in the way of other people seeing when he places a kiss right next to Harry's ear.

"Okay," Harry starts smiling, lifting his hand on Niall's thigh and squeezing gently before letting go.

They're in the middle of the school cafeteria, eating lunch with Zayn, Louis and Liam, just like always. The cafeteria is crowded and Harry wants nothing more than to press a kiss on Niall's cheek but he really can't, not around so many people.

They have been dating for over a month already. Harry thinks time flies, looking at Niall from the corner of his eye, Niall catching it. He smiles fondly at Harry before continuing with his lunch.

They're still not out to anyone in school besides Niall's group of friends. Some people in the football team might have guessed, Harry reasons, since he has a habit of hanging around during practice and games. He also has a habit of hugging Niall more than necessary and they kissed once in the heat of the moment but he doubts no one saw. Even if someone in Niall's team saw, they haven't mentioned it.

It's hard, not being able to hold hands or kiss whenever but they'll survive. Niall thinks it's for the best and Harry's too frightened to even consider coming out. Together, they both decided it would be best to wait until school is over.

They still go out and do things together but mainly hang out at Niall's or Harry's house. Harry's mum absolutely adores Niall and has said he's welcome anytime, even allowing Niall to stay the night and share the bed with Harry. Niall's dad isn't a problem either, he gets along with Harry and accepts their relationship.

They don't spend the night if it's a school night, Harry's mum has drawn the line there but every weekend, they're together. Last weekend, it was both for nights and on Saturday, Niall's dad Bobby was out of town and it gave them the opportunity to do something more than sleeping.

Which they didn't do. Niall didn't try because he's a gentleman like that and Harry didn't feel brave enough to suggest. He has never been with anyone like that, has never done more than kissed which is why he feels unsure about it. He wants to though, wants to try it with Niall.

"Babe," Niall brings Harry back to reality from his thoughts.

"I have to go to class but see you in geography," he murmurs, leaning closer again. Harry nods, staring down at Niall's lips, thinking about kissing him right there and then. Niall puckers his lips the tiniest bit, Harry smiling at the gesture.

"Bye," Niall tells him, purposely brushing his fingers against Harry's neck after standing up. It causes Harry to shiver, wishing they'd be alone so he could kiss Niall.

"Harry? You coming?" Liam's talking to him and Harry nods, following Niall's friend out of the cafeteria.

Ever since he got to know Niall, he has been a part of Niall's small group of friends. Being a part of the group has benefit Harry a lot in different ways. He finally found some amazing friends but also, the bullying has stopped. Not completely, the evil glances and ugly words are still there but it's nothing like it used to be. It's like people are afraid to say or do anything since he has people to back him up.

Harry truly likes Niall's friends. There's Liam, who walks with Harry to classes and who is the nicest guy Harry has ever met. Then there is Louis, the sassy and loud one who has the best jokes. Zayn is more quiet, laid back and Harry likes him the most. Zayn's there to keep him company during the football games and the one Harry can really talk to. Him and Zayn have had some deep conversations while watching their boyfriends playing football.

 


Niall's waiting him outside his classroom after the second last period.

Harry smiles at him, wanting to press a kiss on Niall's cheek but holding down his urge, doing the tiniest pucker of lips, hinting what he wants. Niall grins, getting it, doing the same.

They walk towards geography class, hands brushing against each other as they move. Harry can't wait for the day to be over, he wants to go to Niall's already and drown his boyfriend in kisses. He has been wanting to do so pretty much the whole day, thinking that having to hide it all sucks sometimes.

For the most part Harry's doing fine but there are days when he's eager, wants to cuddle and drown Niall in kisses. It often gets to the point where he feels like exploding. Today is one of those days. After they have sat down on their seats, Harry doesn't waste any time squeezing Niall's thigh, then bringing his hand on Niall's shoulder and resting it there for a while.

"Is it one of those days?" Niall gets it, leaning closer and using a quiet tone.

"Yeah," Harry mumbles, chewing his lower lip.

"One hour," Niall whispers, leaning in and pretending to whisper something when in reality, he presses his lips against Harry's skin, hiding it behind his hand.

Harry gives him a smile in return, appreciating it. Niall always knows how to make everything better. He knows how to make Harry smile, how to calm Harry so he won't panic and even if he panics, Niall's there to hold him through it. Niall's always there and Harry doesn't know what he would do without Niall, which is scary.

It's scary how attached he is. How in love he is.

His eyes widen at his own thoughts and he pushes them away, thinking now's not the time. They're in the middle of geography lesson, he can't start thinking about being in love. He has known for a while already but hasn't told Niall yet. Maybe today, he silently thinks.

 

The class passes by fast, much to Harry's liking. When the bell rings he feels relieved, poking Niall's shoulder, grinning happily. They are in a rush then, going to their lockers first before heading out of the school building. Harry feels glad Niall doesn't live too far away and on their way there, they talk about the school day.

Once they reach Niall's house, Niall opens the front door for Harry, letting him in first. He closes the door behind him, then turning around, looking at his boyfriend.

"Come here babe," Niall gently says, opening his arms.

Harry doesn't waste a second clinging to him tightly, burying his face on Niall's neck and holding on tight. They stay there for ages, standing in Niall's hallway, just hugging each other.

"You okay?" Niall murmurs, hands tight around Harry's lower back.

"Yeah," he hears Harry murmuring against his skin.

"Give me a kiss," he murmurs back, Harry pulling away immediately and leaning in to press their lips together. Niall chuckles into the kiss, to Harry's eagerness, kissing him back then.

Niall deepens the kiss eventually, hands traveling to cup Harry's bum. He is still a bit shy to do these things, remembering how uncomfortable it made Harry at first. Now he doesn't seem to mind though, moaning into the kiss.

When they pull away, they're both panting. Niall looks at Harry, wondering if Harry is hard like he is, wondering if Harry would want to do something about it. He doesn't know how to ask, always walking on tiptoes around Harry when it comes to these things.

There's something different about this time. It feels different, Harry seems different. Niall thinks maybe his boyfriend is ready now, thinking maybe he should just ask.

"Babe," Niall decides to ask, hands still on Harry's bum, moving them on his hips.

"Could we – I mean – do you want to," he tries to ask, leaning in to press his lips on Harry's for a quick kiss. He slips his thumbs underneath Harry's shirt, brushing them against his bare skin.

"I – yeah but," Harry struggles with his words too, chewing on his lower lip, looking into Niall's eyes.

"Whatever you want," Niall is fast to promise and almost sees Harry relaxing, sighing deeply, a small smile creeping on his face. He simply nods then before taking Niall's hand in his, looking determined as he starts dragging Niall with him.

They go to Niall's bedroom, Harry closing the door behind them although there's no one in the house. He sits on Niall's bed, looking slightly nervous then, chewing on his lower lip again.

"Babe," Niall notices it, standing directly in front of Harry, cupping Harry's cheeks.

"Only if you want to," he says. His heart melts when Harry nods and presses his face on Niall's stomach, wrapping his arms around Niall's hips.

"Niall," Harry murmurs, rubbing his cheek against Niall's clothed stomach.

"I love you."

At first, Niall thinks he didn't hear correctly. Harry is hiding his face against Niall's stomach, still hugging his hips. He suddenly raises his head, green eyes widened, looking at Niall almost pleadingly. It's when Niall knows he didn't hear wrong. He reacts fast, straddling Harry's lap, sitting there and cupping Harry's cheeks. Harry looks so emotional, eyes almost teary. Niall doesn't think he's ever seen Harry looking so vulnerable before and he finds it beautiful.

"I love you too," Niall finally says, meaning every word.

"You do?" Harry blinks, looking taken aback.

"I really do," Niall's death serious. He watches Harry looking taken aback first, then smiling. The smile is bright and different from what Niall's seen and he starts smiling himself.

"I love you," he says fondly, tapping Harry's nose.

"I love you," Harry breaths out, beaming then, eyes crinkling from the corners. He leans in to kiss Niall and at first, it stays sweet and loving until Niall deepens the kiss.

Harry moves his hands to Niall's lower back, kissing Niall roughly and hesitating but eventually, moving his hands to cup Niall's bum. He presses Niall closer, moaning into their kiss when Niall rocks his hips, letting Harry feel how hard he is.

Harry feels like he's on fire, all his insecurities long forgotten. All he can focus on is Niall, Niall's hands on him, Niall kissing him, Niall rocking his hips. It causes Harry's mind to spin and he moves his hands, taking off Niall's blazer, pulling away from the kiss. He focuses on taking Niall's tie off, stopping there, gulping and looking into Niall's eyes. This is as far as he has ever gone, knowing that taking Niall's shirt off is taking a step forward. He hesitates before opening the first button, stopping there.

"Harry," Niall sounds gentle, holding Harry's both hands.

"Only if you want to," he says, lifting Harry's left hand and pressing a kiss on his knuckles.

"Yeah, I want to," Harry breaths out. He means it, he wants to, as scary as it may be. He doesn't feel insecure or scared, just nervous now, fingers trembling as he opens Niall's shirt buttons and finally takes it off.

He doesn't have time to admire Niall's body because Niall starts taking off his clothes, blazer tossed to the floor already, shirt coming off too. For the first time since they came to Niall's room, Harry feels insecure, wanting to hide his body.

"No, Harry," Niall has obviously noticed something, cupping Harry's cheek and looking him in the eyes.

"You're hot," he simply says, Harry raising his eyebrows, looking like he can't quite believe it.

Niall searches for Harry's hand, keeping their eyes locked as he slowly brings their hands on his crotch, placing Harry's palm on his bulge. Harry gasps, eyes widening and Niall can tell he hesitates but then, presses his palm harder on Niall.

"You did that," Niall murmurs, biting his lower lip.

"Niall," Harry breaths out.

"I want to," he continues, stopping there, taking a deep breath as if to calm himself. Niall's mind is spinning when he feels Harry trying to wrap his fingers around Niall's hard cock through his trousers, rubbing his palm against it to create some friction.

"Fuck," Niall curses, leaning in to kiss Harry.

"Do you want me to," Niall starts murmuring before kissing Harry again.

"Do you first," he then continues, rocking his hips forward.

"I," Harry starts, leaning back from the kiss, panting a little.

"No," he decides, grabbing Niall and somehow managing to flip them over, laying between Niall's legs.

"Harry," Niall gasps, incredibly turned on by his boyfriend's behaviour. Harry kisses him then, lowering himself so their crotches are pressed together. They kiss while Harry starts moving his hand lower, traveling over Niall's stomach, opening the button of his trousers.

Harry's so careful. His heart is beating fast when Niall lifts his hips, letting Harry take off his trousers. He is laying there with just black boxers on, panting heavily, the outline of his cock visible. Harry gulps, not able to move his eyes away, eventually looking at Niall's face again.

"Come here," Niall reaches for him, pulling him back in.

"Babe," he says once Harry is settled back between his legs, looking slightly nervous.

"Only if you want to," he reminds his boyfriend.

"I do, it's just that, I don't know, I'm going to be so bad," Harry breaths it all out at once, burying his face on Niall's neck and hiding there.

"Babe," Niall sighs, caressing Harry's bare back, enjoying how soft his skin feels.

"Do what you'd do to yourself," he advises.

"And I'll tell you if something's wrong okay?"

"Okay," he finally hears Harry murmuring.

He feels Harry's hand moving around, caressing over his stomach. Harry's kissing his neck then, nibbling his skin, causing him to moan. Then there's a palm pressing on his aching cock and Niall's breath hitches.

"Fuck," he breaths out, Harry raising his head.

"Can I?" Harry hesitantly asks, slipping his fingertips underneath the waistband, traveling his fingers along it. It's driving Niall mental and Harry hasn't even done anything yet.

"Yeah," Niall remembers to answer, lifting his hips up.

He can tell Harry is feeling unsure by the way his fingers are wrapped only loosely around his cock. Harry lets go then, snuggling on his side before wrapping his fingers around Niall's length again, this time more firmly.

"Good?" Harry carefully asks as he starts moving his wrist, keeping it slow at first. Niall has closed his eyes, panting and thinking he isn't going to last even for a minute.

"Yeah – fuck – so good babe," he reaches for Harry's neck, pulling him in for a kiss.

"Harry," Niall soon pants, feeling himself closer to the edge.

He reaches to push Harry, moving him back on top. He kisses Harry then, fingers finding the waistline of Harry's trousers, working to get the button open.

"Niall, what are you -" Harry sounds surprised, nibbling on Niall's neck, fingers still wrapped around Niall's cock.

"You, too," Niall pants.

Harry feels uncomfortable taking off his trousers, rolling off of Niall, letting him climb on top. Niall grins happily down at him, pressing his cock on Harry's still clothed one, rubbing them together.

"Can I?" Niall asks, tracing his fingers over Harry's bulge. He watches his boyfriend gasping, eyes widened, panting out a 'yes'.

"You're gorgeous babe," Niall breaths out after slowly pulling down Harry's last piece of clothing, now taking a look at his naked boyfriend. Harry looks slightly uncomfortable, a rosy blush on his cheeks. He takes his lower lip between his teeth, chewing it nervously.

"Don't do that," Niall notices it.

"Don't," he lays down between Harry's legs, swiping his thumb across Harry's chin.

"You're so hot babe, you have no idea," he murmurs, leaning in to kiss Harry. He uses the distraction to grind down on Harry, their lengths brushing against each other. Niall moves his hand down their bodies, wrapping his fingers around Harry's thick length.

"Okay?" He murmurs into the kiss, pulling away to let Harry answer.

"Yeah," Harry breaths out because really, it is more than okay.

Being with Niall feels heavenly. As they reach their highs together, Harry cups Niall's bum with his free hand, forehead pressed on Niall's shoulder. He comes with a broken moan, Niall following him a few seconds later, panting out his name.

Harry is exhausted, focusing on stabilising his breathing, closing his eyes. His whole body feels relaxed, Niall still on top of him, breathing against his neck.

"I love you, Harry," Harry hears a quiet mumble, lips curving to a smile.

"I love you too," he murmurs, turning his head to press a lazy kiss on Niall's hair.

"Shower?" Niall mumbles against his skin.

Harry's body stiffens, finding the idea slightly uncomfortable. Niall must have felt it because he raises his head, looking Harry in the eyes.

"Babe," Niall sighs and much to Harry's surprise, nuzzles on his cheek.

"None of that," Niall mumbles, pressing a few kisses on Harry's skin.

"Okay," Harry answers, caressing Niall's bare back with both hands.

"Come on then," Niall's already getting up, smiling happily. Harry's insecurities are long forgotten again, thinking Niall looks beautiful, hair messed up, body slightly sweaty.

He follows Niall to the bathroom, stepping under the hot water, laughing when he's pulled into a tight hug.

 

 

"I wish you could stay," Niall's pouting his lower lip. They're standing in the hallway, Harry about to leave and go home for dinner.

"Me too but I'll see you tomorrow," Harry chuckles a little.

"Don't laugh at me," Niall's still pouting.

"I'll miss you," he murmurs, doing a funny face.

Harry smiles fondly at him, stepping closer and pulling Niall in for a hug. They fit just about right, Harry thinks as he continues hugging his boyfriend. He presses a kiss on Niall's hair, wondering if his hair smells the exact same since he used the same shampoo.

"Love you," he hears a murmur, tickling against his neck.

He still has trouble understanding it. Niall, the best person he has ever met, the most caring, wonderful person, loves him. Him, a loser who had no friends, who was scared of even talking. Niall loves him and it's so incredible and Harry thinks he never wants it to stop.

"I love you," he squeezes Niall before pulling away to meet his eyes.

They share a loving kiss, Harry still smiling fondly at his boyfriend. He turns to leave, laughing when Niall pulls him back for another tight embrace.

"Not letting you go," Harry hears a mumble, chuckling at it a little.

"I know you won't," he ends up answering.