eight

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He eats the leftovers his alpha packed for him, pasta for lunch and dinner.

One of the omegas who also works at the diner notices Louis' little tupperware of pasta, which is very uncharacteristic of him since he typically eats whatever he can snatch from the kitchen while working. The omega smiles at him, giving him a knowing look, definitely presuming Louis has an alpha.

He kind of does, but not really, Harry is just a friend. That thought makes Louis ache so he pushes it away. His inner omega is especially vulnerable during soft heats, so he supposes it's alright to allow it to fantasize, allow his mind to wander.

He doesn't end up wearing the sweater, but holds it in his arms all evening and all through the night too, his nose pressed to the yarn which smells so heavily of sweetness, like a bakery, like alpha, like Harry . It comforts him, dulls the ache in his muscles and joints, and helps him fall asleep.

Tuesday passes the same as well, Harry texting him to check in and see if he's okay, Louis thanking him for the sweater and the leftovers again.

Just before he's about to head to bed, a bit earlier than usual, there's a knock at the door. Immediately his mind thinks the person knocking is a serial killer but then he smells that familiar scent, faint and seeping in through the door, so fucking tempting, and he opens it, unable to contain his smile.

"What're you doing here?"

"Hey," he greets, giving Louis a quick hug before brushing past him, inside the apartment. "I made you some food to take to work tomorrow? And I brought- um, I brought you something else, too."

Louis watches him set multiple tupperwares full of food on the top shelf of the fridge before turning around and handing Louis a small velvet box. A jewelry box. His heart stutters in confusion, anticipation, and an unknown feeling. All of this is so sudden, he has no idea what's going on.

"Harry?"

"Look." He motions for him to open the box.

Inside, there's a locket in the shape of a heart, on a thin golden chain.

"What is this?"

"Go ahead, open it."

He does, with shaking fingers, slipping his nail in the crevice between the two sides and prying it open. He's rewarded with two small pictures, one on each side, cut out to fit the shape of the small heart. One of his family, and one of his friends. He stares at the pictures for a long time before looking up at Harry who seems to be holding his breath. Louis is at a loss for words and he doesn't understand why Harry did this for him, not now, not ever.

"Why?" he asks, quietly, because he has to know for sure.

"I know you miss your family a lot," Harry says, and yeah, that's true, Louis spent the past two days talking Harry's ear off about how much he wants to go back home but doesn't have the finances for a plane ticket right now. "And I also thought it would be nice to have a picture of your friends, then, too? It's okay if you don't want it, if you never wear it, that's fine-"

Louis unclasps it and tries to put it on right in front of Harry to prove a point, but his hands are shaking too badly and he can't get it on. "Help?"

Harry tenderly takes the chain from his hands and spins him around with a hand pressing against his shoulder to steady him. Then he brushes Louis' neck with his fingers as he draws the chain around him and Louis closes his eyes, forgetting to breathe, because his neck is so sensitive right there, right where an alpha will someday sink their teeth into his skin and claim him. He shivers, can't help it, and leans back into Harry, resting against his strong chest.

"Thank you. I love it so much, thank you."

So much has changed lately. He has no idea what they're doing, no idea what Harry's doing. A week ago they were just friends and now they're in this weird limbo between friends and god knows what else. Maybe Harry is just being a good alpha, taking care of an omega who is particularly vulnerable during his soft heat, but then why would he do something like this? Why would he give him a locket in the shape of a heart, if it didn't mean something more?

They make a bit of small talk about their days, discussing work, and music they heard on the radio, and whatever else. Not for the first time, Louis feels reluctant for Harry to leave, and wants to ask him to stay.

He doesn't, when it comes down to it, watching him close the door behind him after saying goodbye, but he wants to.

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