five

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Things are easier after Louis returns from the shower, now cleaned up. It's still a bit stilted, and Harry keeps making an apologetic face whenever Louis meets his eyes, but it's fine.

The unfortunate occurrence is that it seems to be about the time of Louis' heat where he gets cramps in his lower abdominals, which is just great.

Suppressants are amazing and so helpful, truly a blessing for omegas in the working world who are unable to take time off for a heat lasting seven days, every three months. Without them, society would be a lot different, and omegas would be a lot more oppressed than they are right now, a lot more objectified, like they were in the olden days. It was extreme. So suppressants are good, but they happen to have a lot of unfortunate side effects. One of them being cramps. Not every omega gets them, but Louis is one of the unlucky ones.

He heats a water bottle up in the microwave because he used to have a cat named Geraldine who would sit on his tummy and make him feel better, but it's been years since she passed. Now, he has to use artificial methods of comforting himself, one of the tricks being a warm water bottle to place on his belly as he sits on the couch and tries not to cry in pain.

"What are you doing?"

"Oh, um." Louis explains it to Harry, whose confusion morphs into pitying understanding.

"Wow, that sucks. I never knew that was a thing." There are a lot of things alphas never pay attention to; Louis isn't surprised.

He just shrugs, and waddles into the living room to sit on the couch again, now with his warm water bottle. His hips feel sore too, his entire body aching. It'll be like this for the rest of his ghost of a heat, as if nature is punishing him for suppressing a natural phenomenon with synthetic medication.

He sits down with his warm water bottle on his lap, and Harry sits next to him, a respectable distance between them.

They sit in silence, watching TV, or at least pretending to watch TV, for a while. Before Louis decides, fuck it. He scooches closer and lifts Harry's arm to situate himself beneath it.

"I think being near an alpha makes me feel better." Being near Harry specifically is more like it, but he doesn't feel comfortable enough to say that out loud yet. Not ready to voice the truth: that yes, he wants to sit close to an alpha, but he only has one alpha in mind. It's not Liam, nor any of the other alphas in the whole fucking world. God, Louis is so fucked. He bites his lip and tries not to shiver when Harry gives his shoulder a squeeze and then rubs it mindlessly with his fingers.

"Good, I'm glad. I like having you near me. Under my arm." He starts laughing a little bit, squeezing Louis closer to his side.

He's now tucked beneath the alpha's arm, warm and comfortable, safe. Completely protected from the world. He feels the sudden urge to build a nest, right here and now. Instead, he pushes the instinct away and asks why Harry's laughing. "What?"

"Nothing- nothing. Don't worry about it."

"Whatever."

Harry kisses the top of his head and Louis blushes and that's that.

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