saltedwater (saltedwater) wrote,
saltedwater
saltedwater

Celebrating the back catalogue (Harry/Louis, some Louis/Zayn, Liam/Zayn)

Title Celebrating the back catalogue [AO3]
Pairing Louis/Harry, some Louis/Zayn, Liam/Zayn
Rating PG-13
Word Count ~5,500
Disclaimer Nothing is real.
Summary The Boat that Rocked/Pirate Radio!AU. Off the coast of England, Louis and Harry are rival radio hosts on the greatest illegal rock'n'roll radio station around. Liam reports the news and weather, Zayn has the midnight shift, and Niall is the station manager.

Notes Thanks to dangerbears because always and because I'm pretty sure she suggested this to begin with.


"You know, a few months ago, I made a terrible mistake. I realized something, and instead of crushing the thought the moment it came I... I let it hang on, and now I know it to be true. And I'm afraid it's stuck in my head forever. These are the best days of our lives. It's a terrible thing to know, but I know it. Maybe you'll be lucky, maybe you'll have better days, but I doubt it. We stood on top of the mountain, it's a long way down."
- The Count, The Boat that Rocked

Louis finds out the news over the radio, which is a shit way to find out because he works for the goddamn radio. There should be, he thinks, someone whose job it is to keep him up to date so he doesn’t have to hear over the goddamn radio on the station that he works for that Harry Styles is coming back to Radio Rock after eight months in America.

He especially shouldn’t have to hear it for the first time in the middle of his shift, during the regular break for news updates. When the news ends, Louis puts on an even longer live version of what is already a rather long song for the next track, giving him just over nine minutes to find out what the hell is going on.

He goes to Liam first, because Liam does the news (and weather) and therefore ought to have the details, and ought to be responsible for keeping Louis up to date on any news, especially news involving Harry Styles and his return from America.

“I thought he was across the pond for good,” Liam says, thumbing through a thick sheaf of papers that have just come over from the mainland. “Him and—“ he cuts off the end of the sentence like Louis won’t know what he was about to say.

Louis ignores the slip; Liam didn’t mean anything by it, and Louis doesn’t have a response anyway. Harry was supposed to stay abroad, off to America where the rock music they played was celebrated, not ostracised. Where Nick had moved after some kerfuffle on the BBC.

Louis hadn’t minded, really, at least outwardly, at least as far as the music went. Harry leaving had left him with the undisputed number one spot when it came to the ratings on their station—not that ratings meant much when the station was illegal by its very nature, and when nobody but Louis wanted the evening spot that was left open when Harry went.

Still, it was better than thinking that he’d been left with nothing at all.

“Louis?” Liam says, pulling him back to the present.

“You didn’t know anything about it before this?” Liam shakes his head and Louis tries to decide if he should believe him. On one hand, it’s not like Liam to hide things, especially from Louis. But on the other, being the only one of them interested in much more than rock and roll and causing trouble (not necessarily in that order) means that there isn’t much that happens in relation to the ship that escapes his notice, and if something as big as legendary Radio Rock deejay Harry Styles’ imminent return is not only important onboard but is surely newsworthy enough to go out over the airwaves, he would figure Liam had details on it.

Liam’s expression is innocent enough, though, so Louis trusts his word and heads off to see who else knows that Harry is coming back. It’s just after seven p.m. which means Zayn won’t be up for several hours yet, and it’s been four minutes since Louis put “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” on the record player, which means he has five minutes left before he has to be back in the booth, not enough time to wake champion sleeper Zayn Malik. Instead, he goes upstairs to find Niall.

+

As soon as Louis walks into the office that Niall had been given when he took over the role of station-manager-slash-captain following Simon’s decision to give up the rusty, rolling Radio Rock ship for a yacht in the Mediterranean, Niall pours him a drink. He hands it over in a way that is decidedly a peace gesture, which means he knows why Louis is there. But Louis could use a drink, and he has—he pauses, listens to the sound of the radio on Niall’s desk—approximately three and a half minutes to get the information his wants, and, once more, he could really use a drink, so he accepts the glass.

“Look,” Niall says before Louis can start. “I know. But the government—the British government,” he clarifies, “is doing everything it can to shut us down, and sooner or later they’re going to make it happen. Especially now that Simon’s gone, and me not even being a British citizen. And there’s, how many’ve we got on the boat now, ten? But it was you and me and Liam and Zayn and Harry started it, so if he wants to come back on, we’ll all be here when it ends.”

“Why should it end?” Louis demands. “Thousands of people listen to us. Stan told me his mum listens to us. If Stan’s mum listens to us, everyone in the UK does. And Ireland too, where they can pick it up. We can’t be shut down just like that.”

“We’ll see,” Niall says. His tone is serious, which makes Louis take notice. It’s not like him. But then Louis notices the other sound in the room or, more accurately, the lack of sound. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young have all gone silent, which means the thousands of people all over the UK, including Stan’s mum, listening to Radio Rock are listening to dead air.

Louis curses under his breath, gulps down the rest of the drink Niall had given him, and dashes out of the room. He goes through the rest of his shift without much enthusiasm, adding only minimal commentary to the music and putting on three Yardbirds songs in a fifteen-minute span because he isn’t paying attention the playlist.

When Matt comes in at ten for the two-hour shift between Louis and Zayn, Louis goes straight to Zayn’s room. Zayn’s still in bed; he usually doesn’t get up until ten minutes or so before the midnight hour. Louis climbs into the small bunk next to him and wraps his arms and legs around Zayn, squeezing tighter until Zayn squeezes back.

“Lou,” Zayn says. His voice is husky, smoky, and less than two hours away from being the sexiest thing on the airwaves in the UK and, Louis figures, probably the world. Women, men, and most likely Stan’s mum are helpless in its wake. In fact, Louis only knows of one person who has been able to resist, and he’s always telling Zayn that if Zayn would just read off some weather forecasts or headlines from The Times over a few drinks then Liam would be sure to come around.

“Hmm,” Louis replies, into Zayn’s mouth. He’s distracted for a few minutes by Zayn’s hands sliding down his sides, his lips forming words that his radio listeners would likely never get to hear (despite the fact that the station’s very existence is illegal, the station managers—including Niall, who swears more than the rest of them combined—have all been shockingly strict when it comes to profanity on the air).

Then Zayn pulls back, rubs the side of his forehead against Louis’ and says, “Heard that Harry’s coming back.”

Louis doesn’t know how Zayn could have found out before him, as he’d been asleep for most of the day, but he nods and lets his head tip forward to press his face into the juncture of Zayn’s neck and shoulder. The movement of Zayn’s hands on his body become less erotic, more tender. Neither of them say anything for a long time.

At ten minutes before midnight, Zayn extricates himself from Louis’s arms and leaves the room. Louis, only half awake, reaches over to the bedside table and turns on the radio to listen to Zayn’s show. He falls asleep during “Paint it Black” and only wakes once more during the night, briefly, when Zayn stumbles back into the room at four a.m. when his shift is finished.

+

Harry arrives on the ship ten days later. It’s a Friday, and the Radio Rock deejays have been hyping up his triumphant return all week. Louis has done his best to sound as enthusiastic as the others, Liam, Niall, and even Zayn included, are about having him back, but he can’t help but feel on edge. He’s jumpy, irritable. He snaps at Liam once outside the on-air booth and immediately feels terrible when he sees Liam’s startled, upset reaction.

“Sorry, Liam, sorry,” he says, threading his fingers through Liam’s curls and pulling him close. Then there are shouts from above them, and Louis knows the commotion means it’s time. He follows Liam up to the deck and they, along with the entire crew of Radio Rock with the exception of whoever is steering the ship and whoever is on the air, watch the small boat that has just come over the horizon heading toward the ship.

The small boat reaches the ship and Louis refuses to watch as Harry climbs up the ladder onto the deck. When he finally does look, he sees that Harry looks simultaneously exactly the same and completely different than he had the last time Louis had seen him. He’s still got curly hair and legs that are too long for his body and a shy, goofy smile that makes him look innocent in a way that Louis knows as well as anyone that he isn’t. But he’s also several centimetres taller and broader and wearing a horrible jumper that probably belonged to Nick and in some ways Louis feels as though he doesn’t know him at all.

“Louis,” Harry says then. Louis just stares at first, then manages to crack his face into a smile and nods in greeting. Harry stares back, and doesn’t say anything after Louis’s name. When one of the newer deejays, one of the ones who came to Radio Rock after Harry left for the States, gets Harry’s attention to introduce himself, Louis slips back down below deck and immerses himself in reviewing the week’s new singles for potential airplay.

+

All goes well at the beginning. Louis and Harry didn’t exactly part on good terms but there’s been enough time and distance between them that any real animosity has faded. To an outsider, Louis figures they appear to be old friends who grew apart, which to the majority of said outsiders, is all they were.

The trouble comes about two weeks after Harry arrives, when Louis is in Niall’s office to have a pint and listen to the newest Beatles record. Niall seems distracted and when Louis asks him what’s going on Niall tells him that the British government has made it illegal to advertise on pirate radio stations. Since Radio Rock is the biggest station around—more listeners than many of the legitimate stations, Niall had told them all proudly just a few days before—it’s clear who the new rule is targeted at.

Then Niall says, “And Harry’s asked after his old time,” and it takes Louis a minute to understand, still trying to process the new law and how they can get around it. He opens his mouth to protest but Niall beats him to it. “I said it was yours to keep. Don’t worry, mate.”

Louis isn’t worried, not exactly. He knows Niall wouldn’t go behind his back, even for Harry. But at the same time, when Niall had told them about their success against the legitimate radio stations he had also mentioned there had been a spike in the numbers since Harry had arrived. Putting him in their prime time could only help, especially if they were going to try to get advertisers from outside of the UK. Niall’s pretty good with the business side of things, even if he’s not as good as Simon was, but he’s even younger than Louis so having another obstacle to getting Radio Rock on the air can’t be easy for him, no matter how carefree about it he acts.

Still, Louis isn’t just willing to give up his shift, even for the good of the ship, so he corners Harry in the kitchen the next morning. Harry’s still half-asleep, clutching a mug of tea. His eyelids are heavy and his hair is sticking up in all directions. Louis wants to hug him, almost does, his hands twitching forward before he grabs a piece of bread from the counter and sticks it in the toaster oven as a distraction.

“I hear you want my show,” Louis says. As he pulls his hand back from the toaster it does brush against Harry’s arm, surprising them both.

“Just when it airs,” Harry says, recovering quickly and grinning mischievously.

But he’s not the only one who knows how to be mischievous so Louis says, “What do you say to a game for it?”

+

In retrospect, Louis probably should have chosen football, or Scrabble, or literally anything but a round of chicken that has them both climbing the ship’s main mast out in the choppy waters of the North Sea.

“Whoever climbs the highest wins,” Niall says into a megaphone, and on the radio Liam reports it to their breathless listeners. “Whoever is a chicken loses.” Simple enough, Louis thinks, except that he had forgotten one thing: Harry’s always been willing to do whatever Louis tells him. When Niall says go, Harry gets both hands in the rigging that spans the height of the mast out to the sails, and begins to climb. Of course Louis, even feeling certain that Harry will give up before he does, hadn’t expected Harry to chicken out that early so he is fully prepared to climb, and begins his own ascent.

They make it up ten feet, then twenty, and Louis catches Harry’s eye as they pass thirty feet off the deck of the ship. Harry looks a bit nervous, and Louis winks at him.

“Alright?” Louis calls to him, but Harry doesn’t respond except to move even faster up the mast. Louis matches his pace. As they climb, the mast begins to sway dangerously, from the choppy waves and the wind. On the deck, the others yell that they may want to come down, but Louis is unwavering and from the look on Harry’s face, eyes narrowed, tongue poking out between pursed lips, Harry is equally determined.

They reach the top of the mast at almost the same time. Neither has expressed any outward sign of fear and clearly, neither has given up. Louis looks at Harry and shrugs; he hadn’t come up with a plan for if they both made it to the top. Harry stares at him for a moment, and then looks out across the sail. He pulls himself up onto the topsail yard and Louis groans.

“Fuck,” he mutters, but he has no choice except to hoist himself up onto the yard as well and begin to inch along the thin wood, keeping a tight grip on the wiring that holds the sail in place. They move away from each other, towards the ends of the yard, and on the ground the yelling becomes louder, more earnest, but Louis pays no mind to anything except Harry and not falling off the mast.

“Fuck,” Louis says again, “Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck.” He wishes that he could’ve taken a radio microphone up with him. At least that way if he dies he could first beat the record for most profanity said on air (although Zayn would probably take the title immediately; he got away with so much more being on so late at night than Louis could as the voice of dinner time and evening entertainment).

There’s a metal post at the end of the topsail yard and when Louis reaches it he lets go of the rigging and clings to the post. After a minute of catching his breath and trying to convince himself not to look down—he does, and immediately wishes he hadn’t—he looks back across to see that Harry has just reached the post on the other side.

“Chicken?” Louis calls over to him. Harry shakes his head violently, and Louis draws a sharp breath when he appears to lose his balance for a moment. Then Harry straightens up, grins, and takes one hand off of the post. Louis does the same, and removes his other hand as well, gripping the post with his knees. Harry repeats the motion, and suddenly there’s only one place left to go.

Louis jumps.

+

Liam, who is usually the first to agree to even the most foolhardy of Louis’s ideas, is furious and refuses to speak to Louis for several days. He reports on the incident in quietly outraged tones as Louis listens in from his own booth, rubbing at the itchy bandages that cover his left elbow and wrist.

Zayn had congratulated Louis immediately on the stunt as he pulled him out of the water and into the lifeboat, but had paled when the doctor that had to be brought aboard from shore (along with sacks of hastily written get-well cards from their listeners) told the crew that Louis and Harry could have died from the impact of hitting the water or from the cold. Niall tells Louis that more people tuned in to listen to the incident than anything else they had ever broadcast, but that he’d rather they not do anything like it again.

But it was Harry’s response that is the most interesting. He hobbles into the booth in the middle of Louis’s show, the combination of crutches and bad weather making it difficult for him to walk, and Louis shoves a chair in his direction, which Harry flops down into.

“Hi,” he mouths.

Louis waves across the room, and when “Magic Bus” ends he leans into the mike and says, “Hello out there Radio Rock listeners, once again you’re here with the Tommo, and I’m now joined by my good friend, the legendary Harry Styles.” He gestures for Harry to come forward to the microphone. Harry leans too far in his chair and one of his crutches clatters to the ground loudly. Louis laughs and instinctively puts his hand on Harry’s shoulder to steady him.

“Thanks, Louis,” Harry says, and Louis grins at him. Following that, they’re friendly again. Although technically neither of them had been proven chicken Niall tells Louis that Harry’s decided not to go after the six to ten p.m. spot after all, and instead asks for the two hours before and two after, sandwiching Louis’s show with a four to six and ten to twelve shift that raises all of their listening figures and seems to work out well for everything. Louis leaves the on-air booth one evening and on his way in Harry tells him to go to the kitchen. Louis obeys and finds a steaming mug of tea and a warm toasted cheese and tomato sandwich.

After he eats, Louis goes to Zayn’s room. To his surprise, Zayn is awake, smoking a cigarette with the smoke wafting through the open porthole window above his bed, and listening to the radio. It’s forty-five minutes past the hour, which means Liam’s on to report the day’s news. Louis assumes that’s why Zayn is listening—for someone who has most of the nation hanging on his every word, Zayn is rather awful about actually communicating—but when Louis opens his mouth to say hello Zayn pulls him down onto the bed and puts the hand not holding the cigarette over Louis’s mouth to keep him quiet.

“Listen,” Zayn whispers, tossing the cigarette out the window and turning the volume up on the radio.

“The British council in charge of radio communications has announced a few minutes ago, in collaboration with the council of maritime operations,” Liam is saying, “that the presence of off-shore radio stations broadcasting within the United Kingdom, including our own Radio Rock, are to be declared illegal as of midnight Friday; that is, tomorrow night. And now back to Harry with some more music.”

“Um,” Harry says, “So, that’s… here’s a song.” His voice is replaced by the first chords of “Sunny South Kensington.”

Louis rubs his hand over his eyes, looks at Zayn, and murmurs, “We’re fucked.”

+

Niall calls them all in for a meeting the next morning. “Well, lads,” he says, “this is it. I love you all; I’m very proud. We’ve had a good run. And—“

“Nialler,” Louis interrupts. “No offense, but I don’t plan to stop broadcasting any time soon.”

“Me either,” Harry says slowly. “I’m in this until I die. And then, like, for a couple of days after.”

“Good man,” Louis tells him. Harry is standing beside him, pressed close so that everyone onboard can fit into Niall’s small office, and it’s easy to put an arm around his shoulders. “I’ll be right here as well.”

“Thank you, lads,” Niall says. “I was thinking the two of you might want to be the ones to play us out.”

When the time comes, they are. Just the two of them, Harry and Louis in the booth with the last strains of “Astronomy Domine” fading away on the speakers. Louis looks up the clock and it’s a minute until midnight. Outside the booth, the rest of the crew watches, with Niall, Liam, and Zayn in the front, right up against the glass.

“You’re here with Louis ‘the Tommo’ Tomlinson and Harry Styles,” Louis tells their listeners, “And as Jim Morrison said, this is the end. In less than one minute, your queen and country will rip from your lives everything that is good and true, and replace it with silence.”

Then Harry pipes up, pulling the microphone so close that when he speaks his mouth brushes against the foam covering. “Here’s the thing, though,” he says, as the clock reaches midnight, “We’re not going to let that happen.” He looks over at Louis, who nods, and then he flips the switch in front of him. The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” fills the room, and Louis thinks he’s never heard anything better in his life. Outside the booth, Niall gives them a thumbs up with one hand and raises the middle finger of the other.

The other deejays come in one by one, to play rock and roll and share their insights on the state of music and the government. Harry and Louis stay through the night, adding their own commentary and playing song after song in between the other hosts’ picks.

A few hours before dawn, Zayn drags Liam in by the hand for a few tracks, and then Liam does his news segment. To nobody’s surprise, the first thing that comes in for him to report is that there are several navy ships on their way to shut down the station and put them under arrest.

Niall gives the order to move the ship and Louis listens to the sound of the engines roaring to life beneath their feet. There are no windows in the on-air booth, so Louis doesn’t know which direction they’re heading, but as time goes on he begins to feel cold so he assumes it must be north. He shivers and moves closer to Harry. He wonders how far they can go before they’re too out of range for their listeners to hear them, and it it’s further than the navy is willing to chase them. He doubts it.

+

They’re alone in the booth once more, Zayn and Liam having gone off for a cuppa and some food, when Niall knocks on the window. Louis turns up the volume on the music and goes to open the door.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?” Niall asks him.

Louis looks back at Harry, who says “Good news.”

“Alright,” Niall says. “The engine’s burst. We’re all going to die.”

“That’s good news?” Zayn says, as he and Liam come in behind Niall.

“The bad news is how,” Niall replies.

“How?” Louis asks weakly. Harry has gotten up from the chair, and Louis feels his hand against his lower back.

“We’re going to drown,” Niall tells him. “Or freeze. Whichever comes first.”

“Lovely,” Louis says. “Well,” he adds, trying for optimism. “I’ve always lived for music. I guess I’m willing to die for it.”

“That’s not funny, Lou,” Liam says. His face is pale, eyes wide.

“No,” Louis agrees. While Niall goes to inform the rest of the ship, Louis gets back on the radio to tell the listeners what is happening. Although it’s really Liam’s job to report on the news, he looks as though he’s in no state to even speak, let alone broadcast.

“Breaking news,” Louis says, “There is a huge hole in the side of the ship, and so it’s time for, I guess the technical term is last words. We just want to say a—a massive thank you to all of you listening out there. You’ve all been brilliant. And if anyone happens to have a boat, you know where to find us. This is Louis Tomlinson, signing off.”

He puts on a record at random and turns to the other four, Niall having just re-entered the booth. Nobody says anything; they spend a minute just listening to the music. Then the ship lurches violently and the room begins to fill with water, sloshing around their feet and rising quickly.

“Come on,” Zayn says, pulling Liam toward the door and motioning for the others to follow him out of the room and toward the upper deck. He keeps a tight grip on Liam and Niall is close behind them, with Louis and Harry bringing up the rear. The ship rocks from side to side, throwing them off balance, and the water keeps rising from their feet to their ankles and up their shins.

It’s freezing, deathly cold, and when Zayn pauses, alarmed, and says, “I don’t know how to swim,” Louis is startled into a frantic laugh. If they end up fully in the water, swimming isn’t going to do much to help them before the hypothermia hits.

Finally they reach the main staircase leading to the deck, and when Niall seems frozen in place for a moment Louis gives him a shove to push him into following Zayn and Liam up the stairs.

Then, suddenly, he realises that Harry is no longer behind him.

+

Louis finds Harry in his room, which is on the path that takes them from the booth to the staircase leading up onto the deck. Harry is standing motionless in the centre of the room, a record clutched in his hands. Louis can’t see which one it is, but it doesn’t matter. Harry can get another one, whatever it is, if they get out off this godforsaken ship alive. When, when, Louis tells himself.

“Harry,” Louis says, and Harry, not facing him, does not respond. “Harry,” he says again. “Haz. Hazza, come on,” he shouts, and Harry flinches, startled. “Come along,” Louis says again, more gently, and Harry turns around when Louis reaches out and grips his arm. “What are you even doing in here?” he asks, and Harry doesn’t answer but allows himself to be led out of the room.

They’re almost back to the staircase when the boat rocks to the side and Harry stumbles, falls, and slips through a hole where a ladder leads to one of the lower decks. Louis yells his name and hears a splash that means, at least, that the room below hasn’t yet filled entirely with water.

Louis goes over to the hole and begins to climb down the ladder. He hits water only a few rungs down, and when he looks around, Harry is nowhere in sight. He takes a deep breath and then plunges into the icy cold water. The salt of it burns when he opens his eyes, but he spots Harry near the bottom of the room. Harry is kicking his feet, doing his best to get to the surface, which is good, he’s conscious, but his efforts are futile. He’s still holding the record, the cover gone limp and soggy with the ocean that is rushing into the ship, and when Louis reaches him he rips the record out of Harry’s hands and lets it fall.

Louis wraps one arm around Harry’s waist and kicks hard, pulling with the other hand until they break the surface. The space between the water and the ceiling of the room is getting smaller by the second and by the time Louis and Harry make it back to the ladder there are only centimetres where they can breathe.

“Can you climb?” Louis asks, and Harry nods. Louis makes him go up first, following closely until Harry is on the stairs up to the deck, and then Louis moves up to his side, grabs him by the arm, and pulls him the rest of the way to the top. The ship is beginning to tip upward, in the last stages before it goes underwater completely, and Niall and Zayn are waiting for them at the top of the stairs to help them to the highest point on the boat, where Liam and the rest of the crew are gripping the railings so as not to slide back down the deck.

Harry is shivering violently and Louis knows he is as well but he can’t feel the cold and so he focuses on warming Harry up. He runs his hands over Harry’s arms and up under his shirt, tries to squeeze the water out of his clothing and hair, kisses his face, his mouth. Harry clings to him and kisses back.

+

Dawn comes, the first rays of light creeping over the horizon to tint the sky yellow and pink. Louis, exhausted, has fallen into an uneasy half-sleep, his head pillowed against Harry’s chest, feeling the vibration of humming something Louis thinks might be Bob Dylan.

Then Zayn shouts and points at something over Louis’s shoulder. At the sound, Harry tightens his arms around Louis, so Louis can’t see what Zayn is looking at, but after a moment Louis realises what Zayn had yelled, and the cry is repeated by the others. Boats.

Louis pulls away from Harry and scrambles up to look. They all watch as boats, at least a dozen of them, come into view. There are tiny speedboats and a few sailboats, and even a yacht that Louis recognises as one of Simon’s.

“Wow,” Harry breathes beside him, “That is a lot of boats.”

“That, Harry,” Louis says, turning so that his face is against Harry’s cheek, lips brushing the side of Harry’s mouth, “is a fuckload of boats.”

Their boat continues to sink slowly into the North Sea as the fleet of other boats draws closer. Louis remembers a fact he learned in a history class once, about how the force of the Titanic sinking could have pulled down rescue boats with it, or something like that, but he figures their ship isn’t big enough to have that kind of power. He’s right, and after a while one of the boats pulls up alongside the ship.

Zayn and Liam are the first to leave the ship. Liam seems to have recovered somewhat from his shock, and he helps Zayn, who can swim slightly better than he had claimed, make his way over to the smaller boat, where a group of giggling school-aged girls drag them over the side and bundle them into towels and blankets.

Niall and most of the rest of the crew end up on Simon’s yacht, and then only Harry and Louis are left on the remaining wreckage of Radio Rock. A boat pulls close enough that they’ll be able to swim over, the people on it calling to them and waving for them to let go, slide down the deck into the water, and come aboard.

“Ready?” Louis asks, his face still centimetres from Harry’s. Harry leans against him, puts his mouth to Louis’s, more like breathing his air than a kiss.

“Yeah,” Harry says finally, and they release the railing to let themselves fall into the water. Louis had been numb to the cold during the night, but now it hits him full force and he goes under for a moment, comes up gasping. Harry’s fingernails are digging into his wrist as they half-swim, half-thrash their way to the boat, where they are pulled aboard and covered in layer after layer of wonderfully warm, dry blankets.

“Rock and roll,” Niall shouts from the yacht, as the last remnants of Radio Rock sink into the sea, and Liam and Zayn echo him from one of the other boats. Harry lifts his face from where he has it pressed into Louis’s chest long enough to yell it himself, but Louis only whispers it into Harry’s wet curls as they begin the long journey to shore.
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