Larry w/ a side of Ziam
I read Larry fics almost exclusively, but Ziam is my favorite side ship. I love any story that brings in OT5 in a way that feels authentic, and the Zayn/Liam pairing really feels true to me. There are a lot more out there, and if I didn’t mention your favorite, please share them on Twitter!
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.
1. Stranger Stars by Shaylea
Summary: Five years ago, Africa offered a grieving Louis Tomlinson an escape from an England he couldn’t tolerate. Now it’s become home as he leads overland tours across the continent with his best friend and driver Zayn Malik. What’s meant to be just another ordinary six-week trip from Cape Town to Nairobi turns into anything but, when future lawyer/current photographer and songwriter Harry Styles and his friends join Louis’ latest set of passengers.
Why I liked It: Shaylea does a great job with the travelog aspect of this story. The setting is a wonderful addition to a story of two people finding each other. They include GREAT details about the safari through Africa, but there are good twists, great slow build, friends to lovers. The slow build of the relationship is lovely–and there’s an amazing slow burn for Liam and Zayn here as well. Great character development.
Content Warning: Some angst, internal and external homophobia, and injury to a major character.
2. House of the Rising Sun by ItsMotivatingCara
Summary: “Something more important than murdering a witch” Harry snarked, “Will wonders never cease.”
He felt Louis’ irritation before he spoke again, “Careful, little lamb.” He murmured.
Harry despised the nickname Louis had given him when they’d first met nine months prior. Little Lamb to the slaughter, Louis had said mockingly.
Why I liked It: Cara is one of my favorite authors (see my interview with her in this month’s Author Interview). This story has vampires, witches, and werewolves, with great smut and a compelling plot. How can you possibly ask for more? There’s a great side of Ziam.
Content Warning: some violence appropriate to the fantastical AU.
3. Jump Before We Fall by Green_Feelings
Summary: Louis and Zayn’s lives revolve around running a hotel by the sea, Harry is a student who wants a life far from home for just a little while. Niall doesn’t know where life leads him and Liam thinks he has already found all purposes in his life.
Why I liked It: This was such a fun story–I love a summertime fling that becomes, well, something beyond that. And also idiot boys who don’t know what love looks like until it’s [almost] too late. The Ziam pairing here takes a while to develop, but it’s really sweet.
Content Warning: None that I can think of but check author tags. It’s not mentioned in the author tags, but Liam has a child.
4. Promise Your Whispers are Mine by lightswoodmagic
Summary: Harry’s the head chef at Azoff’s Catering, and he loves his job; the opportunity has always been more than he could dream of and he’s proud of the food he creates.
Until he meets Louis, an event coordinator rising through the ranks with his own company, and who reminds him of the dreams he once had for his own career.
While their easy friendship initially thrives in an industry known for chaos and betrayal, they soon discover they both have their secrets, and maybe it’s too late for either of them to try to find happiness outside of their work.
Especially when they realize that their happiness might rely on each other.
Why I liked It: I liked this one a lot–it would make a good Hallmark channel movie. People who like a bit of angst, and miscommunication will like this one. There are some good OT5 moments with a side of Ziam and a glimpse of Shiall.
Content Warning: Angst. Internalized homophobia.
5. Light, Spark and Fire by Green_Feelings
Summary: Zayn’s worked hard to become C.E.O. of his own music label — a position that’s rare for omegas in an alpha-dominated world. It’s not always easy to get people’s acceptance and respect, but Zayn makes it work with the help of his best friend and business partner. When they sign new pop sensation Liam Payne, none of that seems to matter anymore and Zayn has to face some of his greatest fears, and open up old wounds.
Or, it has taken Zayn ten years building his walls up, but it takes Liam no time to rip them all down.
Why I liked It: This is a four-part series of a Larry story, but the second part summarized here (A Dim And Airy Spark) is from Zayn’s perspective. It’s a great overall story, with a lot of ups and downs and angst. You want to sort of smack all of them, but they work it out in the end. The relationship between Zayn and Liam is really well realized here–has some really angsty moments. This fic stands alone, but I think it works better as part of the bigger whole, so I recommend reading it from part 1.
Content Warning: Angst. There are some mentions of a sexual incident where consent didn’t happen.
6. Of Mates and Men by BananaHeathen
Summary: In which, Louis and Harry meet as best men for their best friends’ wedding… well… sort of. Or, the one where Harry’s just moved back from New York and Louis doesn’t believe in romance. Or, I guess… the one where Zayn and Liam are getting married.
Why I liked It: I’ve mentioned it before in my column, but no discussion of fics with a “side of Ziam” would be complete without Of Mates and Men. It’s a great, found family OT5 story with fully realized characters in Liam and Zayn and Niall as well as some lovely side characters. The story takes place over a year in the life of the characters–if you don’t love long fics, I’d suggest taking this one in pieces, but don’t let the longevity of it keep you away. It’s glorious.
OMAM is one of the best slow burn, friends to lovers fics out there. Be prepared for a full immersion into the lives of these characters as this is a very long fic, capping out at over 600K words. The writing is super accessible and detailed without being dense or overly flowery. You just can visualize the setting so easily with BananaHeathen’s descriptions–I especially love the wedding venue tour. And they have links along the way to see some of the real locations mentioned.
If you’re not a super fan of long fics, break it up into shorter chunks. It’s THAT worth it.
Content Warning: There is some smut, but it’s spread out and feels like normal, healthy, sexy love between two consenting adults. It’s well realized. Some discussion of deceased parents and bad parenting.
7. A Picture’s Worth by Unscattered_Horizons
Summary: Liam retrieves an old copy of Hamlet from the bookshelf and grabs the plum coloured blanket that Harry crocheted for their flat when they moved in a few years ago.
Zayn lays between Liam’s legs with his back on Liam’s chest, settling in to read along and pulling the blanket across their laps. Liam reaches his arms around Zayn, holding the book open so they can both read the verses. Zayn turns the pages as they go, brushing Liam’s hands each time he does, and they both feel a little tingle in their fingertips with each new page. The third time he brushes Liam’s hand, Zayn keeps his fingertips there, tracing Liam’s tattoos as if redrawing them, marking each petal in his memory. Liam feels like his hand is on fire, as if Zayn really is inking the roses into his hand again, hyper aware of how gentle Zayn’s touch is. It feels like a blessing.
It’s a measure of how exhausted they both are that they only make it through the end of Act 3 before Zayn is fully asleep and Liam is drifting off too. Liam wakes Zayn with a hand through his hair, brushing strands off his forehead where they’ve fallen to cover his eyes, those beautiful golden brown eyes.
Why I liked It: A Picture’s Worth is a two-part series, where the first part is from the Ziam perspective (Light Spills in a Flood) and part two is Larry (Belong To The Rain). The summary above is from Light Spills in a Flood. I really liked the exploration of both genderqueer Zayn and Harry in these, it made me think for days. Harry relies heavily on Zayn for support as he begins to find himself. I also really loved the OT5 found family portrayal here–the boys have known each other their whole lives and support each other so beautifully.
Content Warning: Internalized homophobia. Discussion of past abuse. Allusion to suicide attempt.
Summary for Hello My Name Is: Louis’s 20-year high school reunion takes a turn when a celebrity classmate – who also happens to be Louis’s long unrequited crush – unexpectedly shows up.
A famous/not-famous AU inspired by Chris Evans.
Summary for Not That Gone:
A few weeks after Louis and Harry, *ahem*, reconnect at their high school reunion, Harry temporarily moves back home. Louis isn’t sure he has the emotional fortitude for a prolonged fling with the man of the dreams.
Why I liked It: This series is just too cute. Harry as Chris Evans, returning home from being away and famous for a while. Louis as a drama teacher in a suburb of Boston. It’s a very cute love story, finding “the one that got away” in high school. There’s a cute side of Shiall and Ziam and some lovely flashbacks to their high school days.
Content Warning: none that I can think of, but check author tags.
9. MisMatched Knickers by Sun_flowr
Summary: A heartwarming story featuring: two single dads; newly appointed Principal Liam who falls for Zayn, Louis’ best friend and business partner; Harry’s best friend and boss Niall; too many stuffed animals; and two of the most adorable six year olds, Quinn and Addy.
Why I Liked It: Super cute kid fic, where Harry and Louis each have a six year old daughter, who hate each other. I LOVE Principal Liam in this one, who falls for Louis’ best mate Zayn.
Content Warning: None that I can think of, but check tags.
10. These Inconvenient Fireworks by mdasch & everydayslike
Summary: Future AU in which nobody tries out for X Factor but the boys end up finding one other eventually anyway. Louis is a jaded bastard who owns a cat named Duchess and teaches drama to teenagers, Harry is an idealistic aspiring photographer/part-time footy coach, Zayn teaches English lit and wears leather jackets, Liam saves people from burning buildings, and Niall is Niall.
Why I Liked It: I hesitated to include this one because it’s no longer available on AO3 and I’m not sure why. If you can find it, grab it and save it. It’s worth reading. The characterizations are simultaneously funny and realistic. The banter is great. The inner dialogue and self-loathing from Louis feels real. Louis as a drama teacher makes me want to go back to high school and try out for Grease. I love the side of Ziam in this one–they are both priceless separately and together they are wonderful. This would make a great rom-com.
Content Warning: none that I can think of except some pretty intense self-loathing.
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!