Happy New Year! Happy 2023! This January marks my two year anniversary for discovering and reading Larry fanfiction. I saw some recommendations on Tumblr that month and went down the long and winding rabbit hole. My first love for fanfic is what’s called canon–or stories that take place in a universe where the boys met and fell in love on The X Factor and in One Direction. I was hungry for real insight into the industry at that time, and canon fics really fed me at least an imagined version of that.
Some canon fics are still AU (alternate universe) in that there may be a magical element (such as time travel or soul marks) or are canon-divergent (veering off into a whole new universe). At their core, canon fics are imagined stories using the actual known events as a starting point.
Note that some AO3 fics are available publicly on the server, while some require an Archive of Our Own account/membership to access. If you don’t currently have access, you’ll need to sit on a waitlist – typically for a week or two – to gain access. Get yourself on that list ASAP as some of these require that access to read.
The “Summary” is taken from the author’s own AO3 summary. “Why I Liked It” is my opinion (and only mine). “Content Warning” is a mixture of my own warning and sometimes pulled from the Triggers the author has suggested.
These are NOT in ranked order. I hope that these twelve canon fics make up for my sadly short holiday list last month! Enjoy and let me know what you think!
- Hiding Place by Orphan_Account
Louis never wanted a soulmate, didn’t really care for the whole Bonding thing at all, really. Enter Harry Styles, who’s wanted to be Bonded for as long as he could remember. With one fateful meeting in an X Factor bathroom, Louis gets a dagger on his arm and the realization that just because Harry is his soulmate doesn’t mean it’s mutual.
From The X Factor house to Madison Square Garden, from the Fountain Studios stage to stadiums across the world, Louis has to learn to love without losing himself completely, because someday his best friend will Bond to someone and replace Louis as the center of his universe. Meanwhile, Harry begins to think that maybe fate doesn’t actually know what it’s doing after all, because his other half has clearly been right in front of him the whole time. All he has to do now is convince Louis to give them a chance.
Or, the canon compliant Harry and Louis love story from the very beginning, where the only difference is that the love between them is literally written on their skin, and there’s only so much they can hide.
Why I liked It: l LOVE this one. The author has great descriptions of the boys’ time on The X factor and very early days of One Direction–for some scenes, you can go and watch the actual performances depicted, so that’s a fun bonus. There’s a magical element here in the form of soulmate marks, but the author does an excellent job making them feel like a seamless part of the universe and they align well with the boys’ real tattoos. There is some really good character growth as they age and a good slow burn of romance. The fascinating thing is that it was published just after One Direction went on hiatus in 2016, and it still holds up super well.
Sadly, the author of this fic is lost to the fandom. “Orphan_Account” indicates that the author has either gone anonymous or has left the fandom, but thankfully has left their masterpiece to live on in the AO3 database.
Content Warning: There is a degree of angst as the boys figure things out.
- Just Let Me by HelloAmHere
Summary: The party was going well. So well, Niall had already sworn undying love to one multi-tiered chocolate cake, two friendly corgi-poodle mixes, Zayn’s hair, and the entire population of Los Angeles. So well, Zayn had only laughed and ruffled Niall’s hair and not even twitched towards a cigarette. So well, nearly everyone had spilled far past the boundaries of the night’s original plans, extracting bottles of vodka from the cabinets and losing a lot of clothes. Harry had proclaimed that he was finally going to throw a small and very grownup dinner party and of course here they were three hours later, fifty people half-naked in the pool. Soon to be full-naked, if Louis had to guess. Everybody in LA loved a heated pool. Everybody loved Harry.
Why I liked It: I noted this one in my November column, but I love it so much I can’t not mention it in my canon list. This is my favorite comfort fic. I read it when I need a palette cleanse or just need something to make me smile. Louis in this fic might be my favorite Louis–he’s just so himself, needy but stubborn and lovely. It’s canon in that they are in the band, but it takes place in what I would call Larry no man’s land–in the 2014 time frame when they were their most “separate” on stage. Like all HelloAmHere’s work, it has great characterization and very sweet, but sexy love scenes.
Content Warning: This features ABO (Alpha, Beta, Omega), touch deprivation, and a major character losing consciousness.
- Desires for Woolgathering by isolated
Summary: AU: In the midst of his second world tour, Louis Tomlinson receives the devastating news that his former bandmate, Harry Styles, is in critical condition after an unfortunate accident. Fresh with the loss of his mother and his sister, Louis’ world darkens once more as he flies out to California, preparing for the worst. There, Louis is faced with the ghost of his past, realizing the hand he played in the band’s division. As time goes on, Harry’s condition becomes dire, and his only chances of survival forces Louis to participate in a makeshift, illegal drug trial orchestrated by a dubious neuroscientist.
Why I liked It: There’s probably some question as to whether this actually counts as canon, but I’m calling it that way because I love it. The boys *were* in the band and it’s a cool imagined post hiatus story. We’ll call it canon divergent. It’s science fiction, has great angst and a happy ending. Louis has to undertake an experimental procedure to save Harry in his dreams.
Content Warning: This has major character injury and dubious scientific experiments on humans.
- One More Time Again by Orphan_Account
Summary: On the morning of his second sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden, Harry wakes up to find that he’s sixteen years old, on The X Factor, and that he has a chance to make things right.
A canon-compliant fix-it fic (sort of).
Why I liked It: I’m not sure what it is with canon, but this is the second orphaned account fic in this list. Probably NOT the same author as the one above, but likely a writer who left the fandom but blessedly left this brilliant work for fans. There is a rumor in the fandom that this one was written by someone ‘on the inside’ because of how well it depicts the behind the scenes of The X Factor. I don’t think that’s true, because if you watch the full season of The X Factor and all the behind the scenes, you can pick up on a lot of the vibe this fic depicts.
I love this fic with my whole heart. Time travel is one of my favorite tropes and this author does it really well. It’s a 24-year-old Harry traveling back into his 16-year-old self’s body. The angst, the love, the regret (and thus the slow burn) is so well done here. The behind-the-scenes industry details feel authentic, but I have no way to know if they are in fact anything but imagined. There’s also a companion/AU in which Louis is the one who time travels.
Content Warning: Be prepared for some angst, regret and internalized homophobia.
- My Heart is Breathing for this Moment in Time by UsedToTheBeach
Summary: When Louis first saw Harry at the 2010 X Factor Auditions, he thought he was watching a peculiarly special stranger. But Harry has known Louis ever since he was five years old. Because Louis has a rare genetic disorder that causes him to Time Travel to important moments in his past and in his future – and to Harry, always to Harry. When they’re put into a band together, it seems like everything Harry has been waiting and wishing for has finally come true. Except for the small fact that Louis doesn’t know that Harry is in love with him- that Harry’s always been in love with him. Fate, it would seem, is just getting started. A story about growing up and growing together, and the impossible love that makes it all worthwhile.
Why I liked It: This is one of my all-time favorites–and I’ve mentioned it before in my November–recommended post. It was one of the first fics I read because I love The Time Traveler’s Wife and this is inspired by that novel. It’s grounded in canon, but it works so well with the time travel element. UsedToTheBeach really gets the inner dialogue/angst that fetus Harry feels (oh yeah, it’s in Harry’s POV) for everything about his life. It’s literally the one fic I’ve read four times and I think it’s probably the one I rec most.
Content Warning: Under age smut. I know I’ve said I don’t love power imbalance. This is one of my exceptions because Louis’s character changes age, so it’s not always an imbalance. Also, major character injury/near death.
- At Risk I Fold by Clare328
Summary: 2015 is a stream of hotel rooms and whisky on the rocks, tired glances and touching hands under tables. It’s the bears and the bees under a rainbow sky, and Harry and Louis have to figure out how to grow up together, instead of apart.
Why I liked It: This is really well done, albeit a bit sad because of what they were going through in 2015. Two boys suffering through closets and industry pressure and loving each other through it all. Some allusions to writing If I Could Fly and Home.
Content Warning: There is mention of 2015 stunts, lots of angst, and internalized homophobia.
- And Then A Bit by infinitelymint
Summary: “We’d like to give the fans what they want.” Magee states, placing his hand on the table in front of him and leaning forward. “We want to give them Larry Stylinson.”
Or, take a parallel universe where Louis and Harry were never together, mix in a two year hiatus and an impending comeback, pour in a dash of lost fans, two tablespoons of strong friendship and a Modest! employee with a good idea. Add a squeeze of pretending to be a couple, lots of kisses and a tattoo or two. Stir. Serve: the mother of all publicity stunts.
(aka Harry and Louis fake a relationship for publicity. Eventually it becomes a lot less fake and a lot more real.)
Why I liked It: This is more canon-divergent than canon, but it’s fun. Crazy that it was posted in April 2014, and it holds up really well.
Content Warning: None that I can think of, but check author tags.
Summary: Inspired by Harry carrying books around outside LAX, a canon-compliant, Canon AU fic set between 2014 and 2015; mostly, timestamps roped together by a common theme—literature.Harry takes the habit of reading when flying solo becomes a frequent occurrence, and leaves the most meaningful words there where Louis can find them.
Or, as someone more eloquently put it, the fic in which Harry gets railed while reading out Please Master by Allen Ginsberg.
Why I liked It: I love a canon fic that can take the 2014 era and give us a deep dive. This one also mentions my absolute favorite Larry interview moment–that awkward interview on the Austrian show where all the boys are flustered answering a question about why they were late to perform. It also references Harry’s reading habits. It’s smutty and poetic and lovely.
Content Warning: None that I can think of, but read the author tags just in case.
- May You Enjoy Your New Life by aimmyarrowshigh
Summary: It begins for them all at the bungalow –
‘Alright, time to lay out the cards. We’re in this together and hopefully, for the long haul, yeah? So I think – you know, we should just be honest. It’s deal-breakers time. That thing that like, if we’re gonna hate you or something, just tell us all now.’
When One Direction begins, Harry Styles is a sixteen-year-old boy foundering under the pressure of impending fatherhood. His ability to balance the sobering responsibility of caring for his tiny daughter, Millie, and the exhilaration of seeing his own dreams coming to fruition affects not only his future, but those of Liam, Zayn, Niall, and Louis, who never expected fealty to be the key to their success. But Liam is the first to show him how to grow up without growing old, and Zayn is the first to defend from the public what is private and precious. Louis — Louis is the first for a lot of things; for most of the moments of Millie’s life and for the moments of Harry’s that matter. And Niall is the first to toast when Millie is born: Go maire sibh bhur saol nua — ‘may you enjoy your new life.’
Why I liked It: Bear with me on this one. It’s canon-divergent. Harry is an accidental father at 16 (it’s not mpreg, the baby has a mother), but the band and everything else is canon. Imagine a baby in the mix in the early 1D days. It’s a stretch for the imagination, but it’s absolutely lovely. Well written, and I think if you give it a shot, you’ll like it. Lots of angst, but also a lot of domestic fluff and boys falling in love.
Content Warning: This is a kid fic, so if that bothers you, skip this one.
- You’ve Got My Devotion, (Man I Hate You Sometimes) by lucythegoosey
Summary: Harry was in the biggest boy band in the world. He was also one half of the best (or worst, depends on who you ask) kept secret relationship in the music industry.
Now, almost five years on, after One Direction has broken up, and Harry and Louis’ relationship has as well, a video threatens to put everything at risk.
One determined Irishman, a massive publicity stunt and two begrudging exes are all it takes to bring One Direction back to life and maybe, just maybe, Harry and Louis’ mangled love life too.
Or: Harry and Louis are forced to fake-date after an old video from when they were dating emerges.
Why I liked It: This one is super cute and one that I’ve gone back to more than once. These boys were meant to be soul mates! It’s lovers to strangers to lovers with a true Rom Com ending. Mitch and Sarah are Harry’s friends. Great depiction of post One Direction OT4.
Content Warning: None that I can think of, but read the author tags just in case.
- To The Ends of the Earth by stylinsoncity
Summary: During a yearlong hiatus, Louis visits Harry at his cabin in Idaho, where long-buried feelings ignite like the fire keeping them warm.
Why I liked It: This is post-band, so it’s canon only in that the band was real, and they had feelings for each other. It’s two boys figuring out how to be together. It’s cozy and wonderful.
Content Warning: This fic has some angst.
- Burn to Ash by bethaboo
Summary: Harry is sitting there, so fucking casual, and Louis realizes in a split second he was not ready. When Harry walked out in Detroit and never looked back, he was a boy verging on a man, still only twenty years old, but there’s a man in his place now. Hard and resolute, yes, but still, for the first time in a long time, Louis can kind of see the old Harry in him. The soft, directness of his gaze, the hesitant smile he gives to Lou, the way he wrings his ridiculously large hands in his lap.
He’s a little bit the eager sixteen year old puppy dog again, his innocence and sweetness resurrected miraculously, and Louis freezes in place. He was prepared to face the asshole Harry. He was prepared to meet a whole new Harry.
Louis is not prepared to meet one of the old incarnations of Harry, and it absolutely tears him up.
Or the fic where Harry spirals out of control, the band breaks up, and then he shows back up, five years later.
Why I liked It: This is a relatively new favorite for me, but it was published in 2015. It holds up shockingly well. It’s canon to a point, and then it diverges into Harry as an alcoholic who leaves the band and doesn’t return for five years. It’s a slow burn as Louis learns to forgive him, but it’s lovely and there’s a small side plot of Ziam.
Content Warning: There is alcohol abuse/use.
Xoxo – Rosann
Happy reading and thanks for checking out my recommendations. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of my suggestions! Let me know if you have any thoughts for future themes!