“Are you excited for the party on the seventeenth?” Niall asks Harry.
It’s around noon on the first of September and best friends Niall Horan and Harry Styles are spending a relaxing afternoon hanging out at Harry’s place.
Harry nods enthusiastically.
“Ooh, that reminds me! I wanted your help. Come here!” Harry says, hopping up from his chair and gesturing to Niall to follow him down the hallway.
Niall rolls his eyes and gets up to follow Harry, chuckling softly. He already knows what’s coming. Harry is quite the fashionista and he has a tendency to plan his outfits out way before the time he’ll actually need to wear them. More often than not, Niall gets dragged into the process, helping Harry decide between two shirts, or two dresses, or whatever it is he is having trouble deciding on.
The two men walk into Harry’s bedroom and Harry disappears into his spacious closet before reappearing a moment later, his arms loaded down with articles of clothing. He sets them on his bed and straightens them out a bit before sifting through them. Niall leans against the wall and smirks, shaking his head.
“Which do you prefer?” Harry asks, turning and holding up two different shirts.
“The green one,” Niall responds, gesturing to the sheer dark green blouse in Harry’s left hand.
Harry nods and sets the selected shirt on one side of his original pile and the other shirt on the opposite side. He pulls out two more items and holds them up. The one that Niall selects gets put with the green blouse in what Harry refers to as his “maybe” pile while the other one is put with the other rejected article in the “no” pile. They quickly fall into a comfortable rhythm, the routine familiar. A few times, Harry ignores Niall’s choice and does the opposite of what his friend suggests. Niall figures that Harry knows better and just chuckles.
After what feels like an eternity and a couple of more trips to the closet, they are left with just the maybe pile. Harry talks through each article of clothing, each vision, and each possible combination known to humans. Niall, familiar with Harry’s ‘process,’ listens attentively, nods when appropriate, and offers suggestions when inspiration hits. Eventually, they are left with only three outfits for Harry to choose from. Harry takes a moment to put all of the clothing that is no longer up for consideration back into his closet.
“The final stretch,” Niall teases, grinning at Harry.
Harry glances at the clock and winces, realising it’s been over an hour.
“Sorry, I’m probably boring you to death right now,” Harry says, apologetically.
“Nah. I’m used to it. It can actually be kinda fun once we get into it,” Niall replies with a gentle smile.
Harry grins at him, grateful for his best friend’s patience. He then looks at the three outfits left laying on his bed: cream-coloured trousers paired with an emerald green blouse that he would pair with a matching manicure and his favourite creamy white pearls; a cerulean blue sleeveless dress that hugs him in all the right places as it falls to his mid-thigh that he would pair with an emerald green Gucci belt; and black skinny jeans with a ocean blue button-down that would likely be worn with only a few buttons done up. It’s up to him to make the final decision. He stares at the clothing for a long while. He reaches for one outfit but decides against it. He almost selects another but he changes his mind again. This continues for about fifteen minutes.
“I don’t know,” Harry finally groans.
“Stop acting like you’re dressing for the cover of Vogue and just pick something,” Niall says not unkindly, picking up the latest issue of Vogue from where Harry had carefully placed it on his dresser. He’s waving the magazine around to emphasise his point, and the blonde smiles at his best friend’s dilemma. “It’s not as serious as you’re making it. Plus, you’re going to look amazing no matter what you wear!”
“Hey! Put that down!” Harry squeaks out, quickly moving towards Niall.
He considers taking it from Niall’s hands but he doesn’t want to risk messing it up.
“What?” Niall asks, noticing Harry’s nervous expression.
“Put it down! You’re going to wrinkle it!” Harry tells Niall.
Niall sets the magazine down where he got it from and Harry quickly goes to check it for damage. Once he’s sure it’s alright he steps back and glares at Niall.
“It’s just a magazine, H,” Niall says, chuckling.
“No it isn’t! That’s the September issue of Vogue!” Harry says, looking at Niall.
“Is that supposed to mean something?” Niall asks, confused.
“Yes! The September issue of Vogue is the most important issue of the year. It sets the standards for fashion for the coming year. It shows off trends and consumer habits. It’s seriously one of the biggest influences in the fashion world!” Harry explains, hugging the magazine close to his chest, looking at Niall as if he should have known this all along.
Harry thinks back to a few hours before when he rushed to the newsstand as soon as he woke up to get his copy of the magazine. He’d spent the whole time after he got home reading it before Niall came over.
“None of that makes much sense to me, but alright. Sorry I grabbed it like that,” Niall says with a smile.
“It’s alright. You’re just not as sophisticated as I am,” Harry says, laughing.
“How about you try the outfits on? Maybe it will help you decide,” Niall suggests.
Harry nods and tries each of the outfits on. Niall looks carefully at each one while Harry models them.
“I still don’t think it’s that serious, but if I were to pick one I think I’d go with the dress. It really shows those muscles of yours,” Niall says.
“It is that serious, Niall. I’m tired of being single and I want to dress to impress. What if there’s a cute guy at the party? First impressions are everything,” Harry replies
“Well, if it’s a guy you’re after, then the way that dress fits on you should do you some favours,” Niall says, laughing.
“I think you’re right. I was already leaning towards picking the dress anyway,” Harry says, examining his reflection in the mirror. He grabs his belt and puts it on. Glancing around the room a silver bracelet and emerald heels catch his eye. He puts them on and immediately knows that this is it.
Harry looks at how the fit of the dress accentuates his body in all of the right ways. The sleeveless cut really does show off his muscles, like Niall said. Harry turns to look at his backside, satisfied with the way the dress falls over his perky bum and hangs just long enough to cover all the right places but short enough so as not to take away any attention from his stretched calves. Harry twirls all the way around. He’s pleased with the way the dress hugs his waist. He also thinks it’s a good display of confidence. He turns back to Niall and smiles.
“Thanks Niall. I owe you one,” Harry says.
“Considering how many times we’ve gone through this, I think you owe me more than one,” Niall chuckles, punching Harry in the arm.
Harry rolls his eyes and gives Niall a light smack to the side of his head, laughing.
Harry is standing in front of his dresser looking through his jewellery. He’s all dressed up in the tight blue dress with his favourite emerald green Gucci belt. His nails are painted blue and green to match his outfit and he has a matching emerald Gucci purse set out to put his things in. He looks down at the rings on the surface in front of him. He picks up a few from the assortment and slides them onto his fingers. He holds his hands out and admires the small collection. He’s wearing a lion, his initials “HS”, a ring with a small pearl, and a ring with a gemstone. Pleased with his ring choices, he puts the ones that he didn’t put on back in the pouch he keeps them in. He reaches for his two favourite necklaces and puts them on as well. One is a short and delicate chain with tiny pearls on it. The other is a longer chain with two pendants on it; a cross and an enamel banana. At least, it looks like a banana as long as you don’t look too closely. He never dresses up without wearing them. He goes over to his mirror and spends a few minutes fussing with his hair. After that he collects his wallet, keys, and phone and tucks them all away inside his purse.
Immediately after Harry makes sure his belongings are all collected he hears a honk from outside. He glances at himself in the mirror one last time and exits his house.
“Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” Niall calls from where he’s seated behind the wheel of his car.
“Thanks,” Harry says with a shy smile, a slight blush creeping into his face.
Harry loves getting compliments, especially from the people he really cares about. It always makes him a bit shy but it’s quite the confidence booster. He gets into the passenger seat of the car and looks at Niall. His best friend is dressed in black jeans and a tight black shirt paired with a white cardigan. He has a tiny hoop in each ear and he’s wearing a necklace with the letters “NH” dangling from the chain. Harry just gave him that necklace when they had dinner to celebrate Niall’s birthday a few days before.
“I love your outfit,” Harry tells Niall.
“I think I’ve learned a thing or two from helping you pick yours out so many times,” Niall replies with a grin.
Harry laughs, smiling at Niall.
“Alright, are you ready to go?” Niall asks.
When Harry nods Niall pulls away from the curb and starts off down the road. They listen to the radio and talk and laugh on the way to the party. The party is hosted by a guy named Zayn who’s dating one of Niall’s friends, Liam.
“Hey, there you are!” says Liam, a man with a bright smile and big brown eyes, as soon as Niall steps out of the car.
“Hey Liam! How’s it going?” answers Niall as he walks closer to give Liam a hug.
“I’m alright! How about you?” Liam asks.
“Great! I’m great! I think you’ve met Harry once or twice before,” Niall says, gesturing to Harry to join him.
Harry walks around the car and up closer to Liam who opens his arms wide. Harry steps into his cheerful embrace.
“It’s good to see you again, mate! You look nice,” Liam says to Harry.
“Thanks,” Harry replies, grinning.
“We should head in,” Liam says, nodding to the house behind him.
Harry and Niall nod and follow Liam up the front sidewalk with the trickle of fellow party goers that are just arriving. As soon as they get inside they are greeted by a slim man with black hair and brown eyes. The man puts a hand on Liam’s waist and gives him a quick kiss before turning to Niall and Harry with a smile.
“Hey! I’m Zayn. You must be Liam’s mates,” he says to them
Niall and Harry introduce themselves and chat with Zayn for a few minutes. After a little bit, Liam announces that he wants a drink and he drags Zayn into the kitchen to get one with him. Niall and Harry move further into the house and look around. There’s already a decent crowd of people mingling throughout. Some are talking and some are dancing to the loud music pumping through the speakers that are set up in the living room. Niall tells Harry that he’s going to go find the bathroom and walks off, leaving Harry alone in the living room. Harry looks around at all of the unfamiliar faces. Not wanting to dance alone, he finds an empty loveseat and sits down, smoothing out his dress before crossing his ankles and setting his purse on his lap. He pulls out his phone and starts checking his reflection on the screen, moving any stray curls back into place.
“Mind if I sit here?” says an unfamiliar voice.
Harry is startled out of his thoughts and looks up for the source of the voice. His eyes widen as he spots the most beautiful man he’s ever set his eyes on standing in front of him. He has the most gorgeous blue eyes that Harry has ever seen. Pair that with his sharply defined cheekbones and angular jawline and Harry thinks he may drop dead on the spot. The stubble on his chin is just the cherry on top.
“No, not at all! Go ahead!” Harry says, maybe a touch too enthusiastically.
The man smiles and the soft skin around his eyes crinkles. Harry swallows hard, trying not to stare as the man sits down in the empty space next to him.
“I’m Harry,” Harry manages to say, sounding a bit calmer.
“Louis. Nice to meet you,” says the man with a smile.
They sit there for a moment before Louis speaks again.
“What’s a handsome guy like you doing sitting on his own?” Louis asks.
“Oh, my friend went to the bathroom. I’m waiting for him,” Harry replies, a blush creeping onto his features from the compliment. If this had been any other guy Harry probably would have rolled his eyes and ignored him, but somehow it feels like a genuine compliment coming from the beautiful man sitting next to him.
After a moment Harry says, “I could say the same for you, couldn’t I?”
“I’m not alone. I’m sitting here with you,” Louis says with a smile.
“You know what I meant,” Harry says, chuckling.
“Tell me about yourself, Harry,” Louis says.
“Well, I like fashion. I love to read Vogue and go shopping for clothing and things like that. I also like to exercise. I really enjoy going to the gym,” answers Harry.
“I’m not much into fashion and I don’t go to the gym much,” Louis says before laughing and adding, “Alright then, Mr. Fashionista, how’d I do with my outfit?”
Harry looks Louis up and down, considering him carefully. He has permission to look at this gorgeous human being – permission to look at him from head to toe, and he plans to do just that. Harry starts at the very top and slowly works his way down, committing to memory every little thing that is the wonder of this incredibly fit man that allegedly doesn’t go to the gym much. Louis is wearing an open green jacket over a black tank top paired with green shorts that match the jacket. His only accessory is a single silver ring on his finger with the word “PEACE” inscribed in the metal. Harry hums thoughtfully.
“I’d give it a six out of ten,” he says decisively.
“Only a six?” Louis asks teasingly.
“The jacket, while also wearing shorts and a tank top, was definitely a choice. The lack of accessories also didn’t do you any favours, although that ring is nice. I was considering giving you a five out of ten, but you’re pretty so that gave you a bonus point,” Harry explains.
Louis throws his head back in laughter.
“Maybe I wore the jacket so people couldn’t tell the complete lack of muscles I have. It’d look quite embarrassing seated next to you,” Louis tells him.
“Oh I’m sure that’s a lie. Take the jacket off. I want to see if I’m right,” Harry says.
Louis chuckles and shakes his head before pulling the jacket off revealing his muscles. Harry grins in triumph. They’re not as defined as his, but they’re definitely there.
“Ha, I knew it! Come off it, Mr. ‘I don’t go to the gym much’” Harry says with a laugh.
“They’re nothing compared to yours,” Louis tells him.
Harry is about to reply when he hears someone clearing their throat in front of him. Both men look up at the source of the noise.
“Am I interrupting anything?” Niall asks, smirking.
Harry blushes, turning to face Niall as Louis puts his jacket back on.
“Is this the friend you were waiting for?” Louis asks.
Harry nods his head.
“I’m Niall,” says Niall with a grin.
“And I’m Louis. Nice to meet you,” Louis responds, returning the smile.
Niall squeezes in on the end of the loveseat next to Harry which ends up pushing him closer to Louis. The three of them chat for a minute before Louis decides that he’s going to go get another drink. He offers to bring Harry and Niall drinks too and they gratefully accept. As soon as he walks away Niall leans in close to Harry’s ear.
“You wanted to find a good-looking guy. Is it too soon to say mission accomplished?” Niall whispers to Harry.
Harry laughs and shakes his head. He’s not sure what direction this evening is heading in, but he hopes it’ll end with Louis’ number saved to his phone. He’s glad he chose the outfit he did. He feels like it’s giving him a bit of a confidence boost. He looks good and he knows it which is making flirting with Louis ten times easier.
“I’d say so too, except we have a talkative third wheel,” Harry responds with a chuckle.
“Once he comes back with my drink I’ll make an excuse to go somewhere else,” Niall says, scanning the room before gesturing across the room and saying, “Hey, that girl’s cute. I’ll go flirt with her, maybe ask her to dance or something.”
“Thanks, mate,” Harry says.
Niall smiles and nods at him. He glances up and sees Louis walking towards him and Harry carrying three bottles. When he reaches them he hands each of the other two men a bottle, Niall takes a quick sip out of his before turning to Louis.
“That girl on the other side of the room caught my fancy. I think I’m gonna go talk to her. I’ll see you both later,” he says before clapping Harry on the shoulder and walking away.
“Just you and me again,” Louis says to Harry, sitting back down. Harry makes no effort to move back to where he’d been before Niall inserted himself on the seat.
“Looks like it,” says Harry, a small smile tugging at his lips.
Harry is debating asking Louis to dance but he’s trying to figure out the right timing. The opportunity presents itself when “You Need To Calm Down” by Taylor Swift comes on over the speakers. Louis perks up when he hears the song change.
“I love this song,” he comments.
“Me too!” Harry exclaims before asking, “Are you a Swiftie?”
Louis nods, a big grin on his face.
“Same here! Wanna dance?” Harry asks.
“Alright!” Louis answers.
Harry gets up and takes Louis by the hand, leading him to the middle of the room. They stand there and dance together, singing along to the music. They both sing louder when Taylor sings the line “‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay” and at the lyric “Like, can you just not step on his gown?” Harry does a little twirl. Louis grins and Harry notices how his eyes seem to sparkle. At one point Harry catches Niall’s gaze from across the room. Niall gives Harry an approving smile and a wink which makes Harry laugh.
“It’s a bit loud in here. Want to go see if we can find somewhere quieter?” Louis asks when the song ends.
Harry nods and they make their way to the back door. They step outside and realise that the back porch is nearly deserted. Most people must prefer being inside where the music and refreshments are. Outside there’s nothing but a couple of chairs, tables, and a porch swing. The swing happens to be empty, so that’s where Harry and Louis sit down. They spend the next couple of hours talking about their lives and really getting to know one another, only ever separating from one another for a quick trip to the toilet. Eventually the air grows chilly. Harry shivers and Louis takes his jacket off before leaning close to Harry. With Harry tucked into his side, he drapes the jacket over both of their shoulders. Even though they’re both a bit cold, neither suggests moving inside. Being outside in it gives them an excuse to be this close. Louis reaches over and intertwines his fingers with Harry’s. Harry toys with Louis’ ring as they chat, running his fingers over the smooth metal and sliding the band along Louis’ finger.
“This is such a nice ring,” Harry comments at one point, earning a smile and a thank you from Louis.
Finally, Harry’s stomach gives a loud growl. He flushes red, embarrassed.
“I think we should go inside and get you something to eat,” Louis says with a chuckle.
Harry nods and they both stand up from the swing. Harry tries to hand Louis his jacket back but Louis shakes his head.
“Hold on to it for now. It may be cold inside,” Louis says.
Harry thanks him and puts the jacket on. They walk into the house and head for the kitchen. There’s food set out all over the counter. Harry gets a sandwich and some crisps. Louis gets a bowl of crisps as well and they look around for a place to sit. When they don’t see any they decide that it’s better to go back outside. They find an empty table and sit down.
“So, I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me sometime?” Harry asks, looking at Louis.
“Yeah, I’d love to!” Louis responds.
“Great! Are you free tomorrow?” Harry asks.
“Unfortunately I’m pretty booked for a little bit,” Louis says apologetically. “I act and right now we’re in the last stretch of rehearsals before we debut in front of an audience. If I’m not in class or studying at the library, my time is pretty much consumed with rehearsals or costume fittings or fund raising. Some days I feel like I can barely breathe, but I really do love it.”
“You act? That’s so cool! When’s the play?” Harry asks.
“It runs the 25th through the 28th,” Louis answers.
“Can I come? I’d like to see it,” Harry says.
“You don’t even know what play it is,” Louis says, laughing.
“I don’t care. I want to see you act,” Harry says.
“How about you come to the show on the 28th and you take me out on a date afterwards. Will that work?” Louis suggests.
“Yes, that’ll work! What play is it, anyway?” Harry responds.
“Nope, you already said you don’t care. You’re just going to have to wait and see,” Louis teases.
“That’s fair,” Harry laughs.
They fall back into comfortable conversation for a little while longer, once again finding their fingers intertwined while Harry plays with Louis’ ring. Eventually, Niall walks outside.
“There you are. You about ready to go? We’ve been here forever and I’m beat,” Niall says to Harry.
Harry checks the time on his phone.
“Oh shit, it’s one am,” Harry says.
“I guess we were out here longer than we thought,” Louis laughs.
Harry and Louis both stand up. They quickly exchange phone numbers and Harry takes Louis’ jacket off and gives it back to him. Louis tugs the silver band off of his finger and holds it out to Harry.
“I know you like this ring. Take it and hold on to it until our date,” Louis says with a smile.
“Wow, thank you. I’ll take good care of it, I promise,” Harry says in response.
Louis takes Harry’s right hand and slides the ring into his middle finger. He bring’s Harry’s hand up to his lips and presses a kiss to Harry’s knuckles. They say goodbye and Harry follows Niall through the house and out to the car.
“Have fun with Mr. Sexy?” Niall asks him as soon as they get in the car.
Harry punches Niall in the shoulder.
“Just drive. I’ll tell you about it on the way back to my place,” Harry chuckles.
As Niall pulls away from the curb Harry starts telling Niall about everything that happened. They talk all the way home.
It’s the 28th and Harry cannot wait for his date with Louis. He woke up filled with excitement. He’s worn Louis’ ring every day since they met and they’ve texted constantly. The play is at 6:00 and Louis should be done wrapping everything up by 9:00 at the very latest. After that they’re going to go out to dinner. Niall had been over a few days prior to help Harry pick his outfit. The outfit that they settled on is the ocean blue button down and black skinny jeans that Harry almost chose for the party. They both felt it was too good to not be worn.
Now Harry is standing in front of his mirror trying to decide how many buttons to do up. He settles on just buttoning the bottom three. He puts on all the same jewellery that he wore for the party, his other rings joining Louis’ on his fingers. Once he’s ready he examines his reflection. The shirt hangs fairly loose on his body and the jeans look like they’ve been painted on. He takes a quick mirror selfie and sends it to Niall who immediately replies, “Stunning.” Harry glances at the time and sees that it’s five o’clock. He wants to get to the theatre at least half an hour before the show starts so he gathers his stuff, including a beautiful bouquet of roses that he plans on giving to Louis, and heads out to his car. He double checks that the address in his GPS matches the one that Louis sent him and he pulls out of the drive.
When Harry gets to the theatre he discovers that he’s going to be watching Grease. When the play starts he also discovers that Louis is playing the leading man, Danny Zuko, and that he has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. Harry can’t help but be a bit jealous when Louis kisses the female lead and he lets his mind wander to the possibility of him kissing those same lips later that night. Harry thoroughly enjoys the show and afterwards he waits in the lobby of the theatre, holding a bouquet. He texts Louis to tell him where he is and waits patiently. After about half an hour Louis comes into the lobby and greets Harry with a huge smile.
“What did you think?” Louis asks enthusiastically.
“I loved it! You did incredible. These are for you,” Harry tells him, handing Louis the bouquet.
“Wow, thank you. They’re beautiful,” Louis says.
“Oh, I should probably give this back,” Harry says, starting to pull Louis’ ring off of his finger.
“Keep it,” Louis tells him. “It looks good on you.”
“Are you sure?” Harry asks.
“Yep! It looks good with this whole unbuttoned thing you’ve got going on,” Louis says. “You pull it off way better than this 6-out-of-10 ever could. It’s yours now.”
Harry looks at Louis for a moment, hesitating, before leaning in and kissing Louis softly on the lips. Louis kisses him back, putting a gentle hand on Harry’s cheek.
After a moment Louis pulls away before gently pressing his forehead against Harry’s, letting the tips of their noses brush together. He murmurs, “How about we go on that date?”