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Rather like I did for Sherlock, here's a post of my favorite One Direction fics, split by pairing. This is a companion to my reading spreadsheet, which includes fics I'd rate a 6/10 or higher; the ones from that spreadsheet that make it to this recs list are the ones that hit my particular reading tastes particularly hard. I'll keep adding to this over at least the next couple of months, probably, till I'm caught up on all my reading since October when I first started in this fandom.

This list owes a great debt to [livejournal.com profile] noeon whose Rectober 2014 posts got me reading 1D fic via the rec to sunsetmog's If This is Love (thus dooming her to eternal suffering as I talked to her about nothing but 1D for six months). Ty! :D

I don't necessarily rec all the best things I read; I rec the things that I think a reader would me would like. Roughly, I'm more likely to rec: happy endings but with angst or pining along the way; new relationships as opposed to established relationships; more porn (as opposed to less porn) and certain kinds of D/s related kink in particular; and less flowery writing styles as opposed to more flowery ones. Again, those aren't objective statements of quality, just the things that I like and the things that are more likely to show up on this recs list.

A note on categorization: if there's one ship that's the clear focus of the fic, the fic goes there even if it has secondary pairings; if there are multiple ships with about equal screen time, or the POV character is in multiple relationships, that's in the multiple ships category; poly fics and group sex fics/threesomes/etc go in the threesomes category.

Harry/Nick - Louis/Nick - Liam/Louis - Harry/Zayn - Niall/Bressie - Louis/Zayn - Harry/Niall - Louis/Niall - Harry/Liam - Niall/Zayn - Liam/Zayn - Liam/Niall - Harry/Louis - Multiple ships - Threesomes and moresomes - Other pairings - Gen

Harry/Nick


feel the daylight, by aideomai, 2k. Sleepy Harry/Nick morning sex, super hot, extremely funny, very sweet.

Goat Husbandry, by annemari, 21k. Harry buys a farm. Nick comes up on vacation to help him set it up. This sounds like it should be crackfic, but it isn't; instead it's an exploration of what both of them (but especially Harry) want out of life, versus what they're able to make work with the careers they have. It's also got lots of nice Harry/Nick bonding time alone together without outside distractions, which is often hard to make realistic in other fics.

Adolescent graces great and small, by becka, 1.5k. Nick/Harry phone sex, with some great funny banter, super hot. (Some discussion of underage, but no actual.)

Ask me what I did with my life (I spent it with you), by becka, 3k. Harry and Nick on Valentine's day. Good characterization and cracking dialogue.

We won't build a home, by becka, 3k. Nick's bought a new house and Harry comes by. A pretty sad one, more pessimistic than most fics about Nick and Harry's ability to make a relationship work, but lovely stuff with the two of them together despite that.

And Then You Became Real and It Was Awful, by blueandbrady, 12k. Nick wants Harry, but won't agree to being in a relationship with him--even when Harry hits on him--because he thinks it will end badly. This one's interesting because most fics like this just have the other party doggedly pursue the unsure party until they're won over, but this one actually goes through some moments of discomfort and anger between them because of how Nick's behaving, which seemed, to me, more realistic. Plus, I just like stories where Nick and Harry interact a lot!

The Feeling Is Beating Now, by blueandbrady, 7k. Harry is obsessed with Nick's hands, and during a drunken snog he asks Nick to finger him. They hadn't previously had a sexual relationship, and the rest of the fic is lovely angsty miscommunication fic with super hot porn. The author does a really good job here of letting the reader know what Nick's feeling, while keeping it opaque to Harry, which is a difficult trick to pull off.

all my luck could change, by cashewdani, 8k. Nick has a vacation coming up, so Harry makes some plans. A sweetly angsty morsel of Harry and Nick alone together trying to work it out, with beautiful serene imagery.

Forget Lines in the Sand, Let's Make Ourselves a Box, by celestical, 8k. Nick turned Harry down when Harry was 17, and Harry thinks that's the final word until it isn't. Cute awkward conversations and then hot sex.

i should ink my skin with your name, by crucio, 10k. Harry and Nick are clearly attracted to each other, but keep chickening out of actually making a go of it. Then Nick gives Harry a key to his flat just before Harry flies out of the country; most of the rest of the fic is Harry dealing with what that means. Just a really great version of the Nick/Harry relationship.

untitled, by crucio, 2k. Angst as Harry adjusts to what it means that he's not in Nick's life so much any more. Basically, really painful angst, if that's what you're in the mood for...

Coming to Yours, by cyclogenesis, 7k. One of those times Harry went to Nick's for Christmas, only, y'know, romantic. One sentence fragment always sticks with me: "It feels like a Christmas present, warm and unexpected and full of happy things," which is just how I feel about this fic as a whole. And uh, being cyclogenesis, excellent porn.

feel it in the morning, by cyclogenesis, 2k. That first shopping trip in Manchester, only with sex in the changing room. Blazing hot, and sweet with good characterization at the same time; there's a line in this fic that makes me giggle a little any time I think about it.

Manchester Tarts Have a Cherry in the Center, by cyclogenesis, 6k. Pre-X-Factor, Nick happens to stop by the bakery where Harry works, and Harry half-accidentally convinces him to have sex. Very hot, like very hot, though note that Harry's 15 years old in this fic.

This Is All Ours, by disarm_d, 9k. Nick and Harry start hooking up, then develop feelings (which is one of my favorite plotlines). What makes this one really stand out is not just the emotional arc, but how damn funny it is.

untitled ficlet, by dutty, 3k. So many magazine articles have come out saying Harry's bi that he starts to wonder if he actually might be. Some funny character interactions, and a nice sex scene with inexperienced-with-blokes Harry.

And If This Is the Only Thing I Want, by estrella30, 9k. After Nick's last evening show, Harry asks if they can kiss, since Nick's kissed everyone else apparently. A nice romance. It's not exactly smooth because of some differing expectations and different personalities, but it's very believable, and that makes the ending feel all the more earned.

kiss me under the light of a thousand stars, by estrella30 and mrsronweasley, 9k. Harry keeps doing things that might get him and Nick caught out. Nick wonders what's going on, and there's some misunderstandings and things before the resolution. Really sweet relationship between Harry and Nick, and another interesting version of a coming out narrative.

titanium (we bleed in whispers), by femmequixotic, 19k. Harry's in LA when he hears Nick's been in a car accident; he rushes back to London, wondering if he waited too long to make a commitment. In addition to the great Nick/Harry stuff, well-written as always, this has a lot of detail about how their friends and family support them through it, which was nice. If you're a little leery about fics in hospitals, this doesn't have the level of detail that some others do, so it might be worth checking out anyway.

Better Life Choices, by ferritin4, 55k. Fake relationship AU, where to protect Simon against allegations of homophobia, Harry and Nick pretend to be boyfriends. Imagine how good that could be with these two, and then this fic is probably better than that. Very funny, lots of good mutual pining before they get together for real; there's a nice bit in the middle of the fic where they both basically know where it's going but seem to be taking their time getting there. Also an incredibly sweet ending involving support from the rest of the 1D boys. Lots of stuff about the music industry and PR, too, if you're into that kind of thing like me.

Werewolves of London, by gorgeousnerd, 23k. Harry's family are all werewolves, but Harry's not, quite; Nick's family aren't, but he is. Lots of interesting things on finding your place in the world, both with respect to werewolves and not--among other things, Harry's genderqueer. A lovely slow burn romance, too, and some interesting mythology.

all you have to do is ask, by hllangel, 1k. Harry kinda-sorta proposes to Nick. Exactly the right amount of sweet but unspoken love.

Any Way That You Like, by hllangel, 3k. Harry and Nick are telepathic; Nick wakes up during one of Harry's US concerts and wanks while Harry's trying to perform. Really, really hot.

Bring You Back a Star, by Hllangel, 13k. Photos of Nick and Harry leak after they've broken up. A kind of second chances fic, but happening with much less of an interregnum than a future fic might have; it still has that nice angst-and-resolution pacing, though. It's an interesting version of how coming out might go, too, discussing the kind of planning they have to do.

I Could Take the Back Road, by Hllangel, 40k. Future fic, in which Nick and Harry have their separate lives in London and LA respectively, but are brought together again. I just...I really love future fics (because I love angsty things with happy endings). This one focuses a bit on Harry's career and life in LA, which I also appreciated.

Like a Lightning Strike, by Hllangel, 22k. One Direction were eliminated at judges houses, and two years later are trying out for X Factor again when Harry and Nick accidentally swap jackets at a bar. They're both into each other, but events conspire to drag out the two of them actually getting to shag, which means we as readers are treated to a lovely extended period of flirty banter. Lots of humorous things in here, in fact, as well as the good Nick/Harry stuff.

These Cards I've Been Dealt, by Hllangel, 12k. Nick and Harry have never dated because Harry's life is too strange; a lot of this fic is Harry doing the things he needs to do to make a relationship with Nick a possibility, but it's Nick's POV of those events. A fairly unusual cast of supporting characters for this fandom, and a bit more involved with the music side of things, which I always very much appreciate.

Aubergine Heart, by jeyhawk, 21k. AU where Harry is Henry's assistant, and he flirts with Nick constantly, which is both an annoyance and a salve to Nick. A very funny narrative voice, and lots of sharply and wittily observed character moments, not just of Nick and Harry but of the rest of the characters as well. Also nice for those of you who like not-too-OTT but important romantic gestures, although probably also okay if that's not really your thing (it usually isn't mine but I thought it was well done here).

you are the sweetest, sweetest song (i could hear your song forever), by jeyhawk, 85k. Alpha Nick and omega Harry are friends. This is the story of how they get together (and then have lots of sex). Very, very sweet--there's very little question they're getting together, just a question of what their relationship will look like when they do. There are some nice details of the way the A/B/O biology functions in this world, too; I like stories that explore that. Just a comforting, sweet story of Nick and Harry in love. :)

Instalments, by junkshopdisco, 50k. Another fandom classic, a Pretty Woman AU where Harry's a down-on-his-luck rentboy and Nick's the rich businessman who picks him up on a whim. There are some writing style choices early in this fic that I didn't quite like, though they're explained later in the fic and I appreciate them now even if they're still not quite my style. But the rest of it is excellent: Harry's life is not as romanticized as a lot of similar AUs do. But the way Nick and Harry fall for each other very much is romantic, and I liked the way the fic focused on the things they can do for each other, the ways they can support and please each other, which doesn't necessarily get a lot of time in some other fics because we have canon to provide a lot of that for us. Also has Annie Mac as a supporting character, which I'm always a fan of.

Make It Fashion, by junkshopdisco, 14k. Nick was obsessed with Harry when he was on Top Model; then he sees Harry in a show and they become friends. And other things. Slightly ridiculous in the absolute best way and very funny, plus some things that are hot in ways I'm not used to things being hot in this fandom.

The Miseducation of Harry Styles, by junkshopdisco, 30k. An early Nick/Harry story (both in terms of fandom chronology and in terms of real chronology). Nick's really into Harry, but convinced Harry isn't into him. A lot of the enjoyment I get out of this fic comes from Nick's very funny internal monologue--not just the content, but also the way it's worded. The conversations between Nick and Harry are pretty great, too. Just really lovely all around, and one of those narratives that is kind of foundational in how I think about Nick and Harry together.

Be Good, by kitschradio, 2k. Preslash: Harry comes by to borrow a coat of Nick's. That sounds really simple, but it's just a lot of flirting and comfort with each other and cuteness and great prose.

But Things Aren't Clear, by kitschradio, 24k. I don't really want to give the plotline of this away. Safe to say it's extremely angsty, but the angst creeps up on you: it doesn't start that way. On a prose level, this fic is my favorite in the fandom, hands down. It also has one of the most believable sets of characterizations. And it's a good exploration of the kinds of issues Harry and Nick might have in a relationship--all the angst comes from the characters, rather than situational things. (Not to bash situational relationship issues, but that's much more common in fandom in my experience, so it's notable that this fic does the other thing so well.) I should mention too that this is technically an unfinished and probably abandoned WiP, but it reads as a completed fic currently; I didn't realize it was a WiP until after I'd finished it.

Door Number Two, by littlemousling, 3k. A Nick/Harry kink scene (Nick domming Harry). Incredibly hot, but also has some nice characterization stuff in it, about how Nick and Harry are with each other and what it means to them to do what they do.

He'd attend all your lectures, by LittleMousling, 10k. Harry asks for Nick's help in learning how to navigate the gay club scene. Lots of wonderful and funny Nick and Harry conversations, with some angsty miscommunication stuff thrown in, plus a great Nick narrative voice. (I just reread this before writing the review, and there were a bunch of moments that I remembered without remembering they were from this fic in particular.)

If These Ears Could Talk, by LittleMousling, 5k. Thurston's POV of Harry/Nick. Mostly I'm pleased by the language in this (the doggy interpretation of kissing makes me laugh every time), but it's also got a nice slightly angsty Nick/Harry development that you're a bit buffered from because you're seeing it from Thurston's POV and he doesn't really understand. It's also fun because you get a sense of what Harry and Nick are feeling through what Thurston knows, but it's not always clear to the men themselves.

A More Intimate Stage, by littlemousling, 5k. Nick hosts a "special" like he used to--not quite an orgy but not NOT an orgy either. Interesting, also, in that it treats sex like a skill rather than a sort of spontaneous meeting of bodies, which is a relatively unusual take for fic (in my experience).

This Fic Is Not Called “Nicklace.” You're Welcome, Internet, by littlemousling, 2k. A nice little PWP that's partly about Harry being inspired by porn and partly about Nick and Harry's relationship without them really talking about it much.

What Happens in Ibiza and Means of Communication, by LittleMousling, 21k total. Nick goes to Ibiza and Harry's there, too, years after they more or less cut off contact. Once they're in the same place, though, they fall back into old habits. There are some fics that take a particular emotion and kind of draw it out, examine it from multiple angles, as the dominant emotional punch of the story, and that's how I felt about this: an interesting exploration of connections you have with people and how you can give into them even though you think it's going to hurt. (Also, er, lots of sex, if that's your thing.) The sequel is a nice bit of roleplay sex, some amount of time later, if you'd like to catch up on how the characters make things work later.

Winter Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, by LittleMousling, 2k. Harry/Nick. A combination of a sweet tentative romance with some marking/bruising kink; I particularly loved the characterization of Nick in this one.

pretty in pink, by loafers, 10k. A few different bits of crossdressing kink, with some nice variation. That isn't my usual bag, but works very well here.

Talk To Me About Dildos, by lxurygoods, 4k. Harry sees a dildo on Nick's bed after Nick has a one-night stand, which gets Harry's mind running about sex toys, even though Nick doesn't really want to talk about it. Super hot, with tons of the kind of weird Harry details that I love, and great prose.

untitled, by makesomelove, 1k. Harry's an intern at Radio 1, and Nick asks him to do his Christmas shopping. Absolutely perfect ending.

Turning Something Inside Out, by matchsticks_p, 5k. Nick has regular anxiety attacks, and Harry helps him deal with them. As someone who also has anxiety issues, a lot of this felt very realistic. It's also sweet and funny--it's not a solemn exploration of the issues, but more a "two bumbling idiots figure it out" sort of coping relationship, without making fun of it.

begin again, by mozartspiano, 16k. Nick ends up in hospital due to an illness, and Harry was halfway across the world and didn't find out until later; Harry decides to come back to London, but there's a lot of history they have to deal with if Harry's going to get what he wants. This is super lovely: well-structured and beautifully written. I also appreciated that it didn't shy away from some of the less palatable aspects of Harry's characterization; a happy ending isn't a foregone conclusion here, the way it sometimes is in fics where there are some difficulties getting the characters together.

An Abridged Sexual History of Nick Grimshaw: A Love Story, by mrsronweasley, 13k. What it says in the title: a history of Nick figuring out sex with boys, and then sex with Harry. It's all great, but I think my favorite bit word-for-word is the last short chapter. If you're looking for a Nick Grimshaw character study with lots of sexy parts and also Harry Styles, this is definitely for you!

Like a Black and White Film, by mrsronweasley, 9k. Harry comes home from tour, and he and Nick reconnect. Good romance and funny banter and stuff, but what I especially appreciated about this fic was that it took seriously the way Harry has grown and changed in the years Nick has known him--he's still the same guy, but he looks different and he holds himself differently and I liked that Nick's reaction to those changes was explored here.

Most Dauntless, Voiceless Fortitude and Arrangement, by mrsronweasley, 29k and 12k. Regency AU, where Harry is new in London, and meets the fashionable Nick Grimshaw who offers to show him around. Pretty period-accurate treatment of other people's opinions of homosexuality (AFAICT), so not exactly a happy fic when it comes to how they must interact with the society around them, but Harry and Nick take such joy in each other that it more than makes up for it. Some very heartwrenching bits towards the end of the first fic; the second is the extended happy ending, which I'm quite pleased to have, while still being in keeping with the world.

words, words, words, by mrsronweasley, 6k. Super hot D/s DP-with-a-sex-toy PWP; very in character, sort of tender and affectionate in all the right ways.

Wannabe, by olivia_circe, 10k. This is Nick/Harry, but actually it's mostly a friendship OT5 fic: Harry asks the band to vote on his potential relationship with Nick. All the characters are individual and fully realized, and the relationship with Nick is great too. There's just something about the characterizations in this fic I really love--they're just slightly askew from the standard fanon characterizations but in ways that I also find entirely plausible, so it feels like I'm learning new things about the boys as I read it.

Hold My Head Up to the Midnight Sun, by pukeandcry, 19k. AU where Nick is a rich trust fund baby/dilettante, and Harry is broke, and they meet and eventually go on a long trip around Europe. A nice slow build romance. It's not necessarily happy fun times vacationing, especially at the beginning, as Nick and Harry are both a bit damaged in certain ways, but they work well together anyway. Even months after reading this there are still specific scenes I can picture really clearly.

A Flexible Metaphor, by pukeadcry, 22k. Vampire Nick turns Harry to save his life. In the way of a certain class of AU, this takes a dynamic that already exists between the characters--in this case, that Nick is older and more worldly than Harry, with all that implies--and heightens it via the AU conceit in order to explore it more fully. I really love that kind of AU, and this one's great, too, although I think the central secret-keeping is carried on for a bit longer than I would have preferred. Good supporting turns from Louis and Aimee as well. This carries with it some angsty implications for their lives (which are explored in the text) but the central romance is really lovely, and the rules of the AU quite interesting even apart from their metafictional uses.

Lost Coastlines, by pukeandcry, 22k. Harry and Niall were presumed dead in an airplane crash, then a year later are found. Really doesn't shy away from the emotional consequences of that, which made it hard to read for me, but absorbing and with true-to-life characterizations nonetheless.

gotta hand it to you, by rivers_bend, 3k. Nick fingers Harry until he comes; ankle cuffs; my own summary of this involves the word "wriggly".

Is that a Rocket in your Pocket, by rivers_bend, 4k. Nick's obsessed with Harry's giant cock. Lots of funny characterizations with bang-on voices.

On the Catwalk, Yeah, by rivers_bend, 22k. Harry's a model who ends up working Henry Holland's show, where he meets Nick. The early part of their friendship parallels the real-life early stages of the Nick/Harry friendship, with them getting closer and closer pretty quickly. The other boys are Harry's housemates. A slightly different treatment of Harry's orientation than the usual fanfic modes, which I liked, and some laugh-out-loud funny bits throughout.

Saddle Up and Ride, by rivers_bend, 4k. Harry dresses Nick for a DJ gig; Nick doesn't realize how hot he is, but Harry takes full advantage. With, as usual, some really excellent in-character banter.

What Hell Hath We Wrought, by shuttermutt, 5k. Nick's out at a club and picks up Harry, who seems young, but like he wants to be picked up. They go home and have sex. The sex is really hot, but what sells this fic for me is the ending, which I just think about sometimes, and then have a giggle fit. Warning for (minorly) underage--Harry's 15 in this, though Nick doesn't know that.

How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom, by spibsy, 5k. Nick needs to bake a cake for work; Harry comes over and actually bakes a cake, but Nick gets what he wants, eventually, anyway. Possesses both some really interesting description and some absolutely hilarious moments, in addition to cute Harry/Nick stuff.

If This is Love, by sunsetmog, 86k. This fic is responsible for getting me into the fandom: I read it on a rec from [livejournal.com profile] noeon and said, "Okay, I need to read everything ever written about this pairing." It's a more straight-up romance than my usual preferences, with a nice long buildup and some good angst along the way. It's a good and very satisfying read; if it were a physical book I'd call it a page-turner, just from the emotional stakes. If you're not sure about this pairing, or about 1D fic in general, give this one a go; if you are a fan and haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?

Restoring Force, by sunsetmog, 12k. Harry and Nick, after the end of the breakfast show. Again, I love future fic, and this one has a kind of...hopeful but also elegaic quality to it that I liked a lot. There's a scene in the park in the middle of this fic that I always think of when I'm thinking of quintessentially Nick and Harry scenes (leaving aside what it means that this is a train of thought I've had more than once...).

You're the Reason I Keep Breathing, by sunsetmog, 6k. AU where Harry and Nick cohost the Breakfast Show. UST, which everybody notices but them--or rather, Nick notices but thinks it's unrequited. Slightly different prose style than the usual (a little less detailed, more impressionistic).

An Englishman in New York, by tilda, 17k. The Nick/Harry far future fic I've always wanted. Really good angst. It also has a wonderful sense of shared history--there are all kinds of details, not just in the narration but in how the two characters react to each other and behave around each other, about how the relationship developed and deepened and changed over the years. I like this version of the characters and their lives very much. This fic is so rich I was actually surprised to put that word count up there; in my memory it's at least twice as long.

Going Solo, by tilda, 1.7k. Nick's new intern asks to meet Harry, so even though they've kind of been avoiding each other, they end up in a toilet stall together anyway. Definitely not a happy one, or even hopeful, but gorgeously written and emotionally hurty in just the right way.

There Is No Downtime, by tilda, 20k. Nick's 30th birthday. Harry and Nick used to be together, but aren't any more; this is the story of why, and how it might be fixed. Lots of pining and angst--sort of what I like in a future fic, only this isn't really one of those, since they're both still in full career swing so there's less of the making up for lost chances now that they have time, and more just trying to make it work despite the continuing lack of time (see: the fic's title).

nick/harry angst ficlet of doom, by tilda, 1k. Nick and Harry have a conversation after they've broken up. Hurts so good, man, neither too maudlin nor too OTT angsty: just painful enough to be real.

In Vodka Veritas, by Vae, 6k. Nick wakes up to a call from a drunk Harry, who's upset about something; cue annoyed (and spot on) rant about bisexual invisibility. My spreadsheet summary ends with the line "Really spot-on characterization, funny, hot, deeply affectionate," which I think sums this fic up rather well.

nostos, by velvet_tuberose, 7k. Nick starts dating because he's lonely, and Harry wishes Nick would date him instead. Not as angsty as it sounds, though there's some pining; Harry and Nick together are cute and sweet and funny, and the ending was nice, too.

from the rooftops, by Verbyne, 5k. AU-ish, where Nick and the clique are less famous and more into a heavy party style than they really are (with lots of drug use etc), and Harry's a young thing who has a one-night stand with Henry and then sticks around. I described this in my notes as "Harry on a slow train to trouble", which is basically it--regardless of how the story itself ends, it's clear this universe won't have a happy ending for everyone. Gorgeous writing and plausible characterizations, though, and that kind of ironclad Nick and Harry sympatico stuff that's great in any universe.

nowhere better than this place, by waspabi, 29k. Nick's a fashion reporter who goes to visit an elderly relative in the country; Harry's the local farm boy who helps out sometimes. This one's kind of interesting in how it echoes the development of their real-life friendship, only in a different place and setup with different constraints on the characters (and, of course, with added hot sex). Very funny, too, and quite romantic in its own way.

Warm-Blooded, by waspabi, 7k. His Dark Materials AU, with daemons for everybody. A good nonlinear structure here, and some interesting meditations on the characters via thinking about what their daemons are and how they behave, as well as the good start of a Nick/Harry romance.

elastic heart, by ymorton, 95k. Nick gets pregnant, and Harry's the father, but Harry's off doing his popstar thing and Nick doesn't tell him. This one has lots of interaction between Nick and the clique, since Harry's not in the picture for part of the fic, and then some good Harry and Nick interactions once he's in the picture again. This one mashes the angst button pretty hard, but I enjoyed getting to live in Nick's head for so long, and the Harry and Nick reunion scene in particular is one I go back to and read sometimes even though I've only read the whole fic once.

just doesn't happen, by ymorton, 3k. Nick and Harry, talking about their sex lives, and then having sex. Kind of unusual for fic in that there really are no romantic feelings in this fic--just friends with benefits, without the implied promise of more.

untitled, by ymorton, 3k. Quite hot blowjob PWP, with one very funny conversational bit in the middle that I still sometimes giggle thinking about.

untitled, by ymorton, 2k. A short Nick and Harry conversation, just before Nick's wedding. Basically nonstop angst with some really incisive views of the characters.

untitled, by ymorton, 0.5k. I know you're looking for a little bite of angst, right? Just a little ficlet of Harry coming home after tour and being with Nick; they're not together, though the relationship is the obvious emotional center of the piece. I ended my personal notes with the single-word sentence "Ow," for what that's worth.

untitled, by ymorton, 2k. A lot of this author's stuff is angsty (and I love it), but this is just the right amount of sappy-sweet, an entire romantic plotline packed into five minutes of fic timespan. I love that, too.

untitled, by ymorton, 4k. Fingering plus sex crying. Very nice.

use your hands and my spare time, by zeldamonkey, 5k. Super hot and very funny Nick/Harry handjobs PWP.

Louis/Nick


so impatient when you're not mine, by captaindicktionary, 4k. Vignettes of Nick and Louis in a long-distance relationship. This felt very realistic to me--the way things aren't perfectly happy; the way it's hard to talk about some of what they're going through; how they have to negotiate publicity. Very sweet at the end, too.

The One Where... series (Three Cheers for Involuntary Attraction, I Think You Have a Problem With Your Brain Being Missing, One True Calling) by checkthemargins, 34k total. Harry suggests seduction as a way for Nick and Louis to get along. This seems ridiculous, but actually works. The relationship doesn't necessarily go smoothly, but it has some very sweet moments in addition to the fights and small stupidities of boys who don't want to admit they want each other that much. The third one in this series is far and away my favorite, dealing with the pressures of the press and the closet and things, but of course they're all good.

you and me, baby, by checkthemargins, 11k. Louis and Nick get snowed in together at a ski resort. They bicker (as they would), and it slowly turns into flirting the longer they're there. This is an omegaverse fic; there's some interesting stuff about self-conception and role and its interplay with gender preferences. But also some nice meaty Nick/Louis stuff that's awesome in any kind of 'verse. And if you like omegaverse porn, you won't be disappointed, either.

set the pace, by flimsy, 34k. Louis and Harry are roommates; Harry's an intern at Radio 1. He hosts a dinner for his work friends, which turns out to involve Nick, whom Louis had had a one night stand with. This is a pretty angsty one, where Louis has kind of a low opinion of himself, which isn't helped by the way he and Nick go about trying to have a relationship. But the characters feel very lived-in and very real.

Getting Good at this, by pukeandcry, 43k. AU where Harry's famous, but the rest of the 1D boys aren't. Nick ends up with a baby when a friend of his passes away, and Harry's away on tour, so he asks Louis to go check in on Nick and help out. I'm not really a fan of kidfic, but so many 1D kidfics are so good, and this one's no exception. (I guess I should make a mini recs list of "Louis more or less moves in with single men with children to help them out, then ends up fucking the dad.") Nice slow build relationship, good cameos by Harry, enjoyable all round.

explosions only you and i can hear, by stigmata, 7k. Louis and Nick keep needling each other, until Louis accidentally sees Nick's enormous penis. Then they have some very good size kink-esque sex (both in the sense of enormous penii and the sense of a height/weight difference between the partners), and end with a cute kind of...affectionate hatred? for each other. Frequent POV switches (with proper scene breaks and such), which is a little less common in this fandom, I've found. Very funny and very hot.

I Had Rather Hear My Dog Bark at a Crow, by sunsetmog, 123k. Louis/Nick, where Louis is deeply closeted but can't seem to help wanting Nick, and Nick finds he wants Louis too even though it's hard. This one is nearly all angst but it's such GOOD angst; and while it's mostly from one source (Louis not wanting to reveal to absolutely anybody that he isn't straight) it has lots of echoes and repercussions in lots of different directions for both parties. Really great characterizations, and some good sex scenes (even if they have some kinks that I don't share--which I mention in case you take a look at the tags and think you wouldn't like it). I find I'm having a really hard time describing why I love this fic so much. I think, basically, that you can really feel throughout the fic how confused Nick is but how hard he's trying anyway, and how deeply conflicted and pained Louis is even when Nick isn't seeing it, so you spend the whole fic desperately hoping they'll make it work but unsure how or if they'll be able to.

Not Your Fault But Mine, by sunsetmog, 127k. University AU, in which Louis has a major depressive episode. This is really, really good, with good versions of all the characters and realistic responses from everyone. I read it when I was having a pretty major anxiety flare-up, though, and let me say that that was a really dumb idea--this story gets very into Louis's head, and it was not a good two days for me as I was reading this, even if I was moved by the emotional arcs of the characters. So if you're in a good mental place, this has some great stuff in it, and it's an interesting exploration of what depression looks like from the inside out; if you're not in a good mental place, I would probably save this for when you are. A tough read, but rewarding.

Liam/Louis


Not All My Jokes Are Funny, by ferritin4, 5k. Louis pranking various people in the band, with various reactions. A fun bit of Louis/Liam romance with plenty of misunderstandings.

Skip the Charades, by Ferritin4, 7k. X-Factor era, a slightly unusual characterization where sweet, kind Liam pulls whenever he wants, both boys and girls. But not everyone is quite as chill about it as Liam is, particularly Louis. Very sweet early Liam/Louis stuff.

Step Into My Office, Baby, by ferritin4, 11k. Louis owns a video game company, and Liam's his secretary. One of those cute fun ones where you're literally screaming for them to get together and they're (cluelessly but believably!) not doing that. Nice side bit from Zayn, who doesn't take any shit from Louis, as he shouldn't. There are no grand emotions in here, but it's sure cute as fuck.

Love in Slow Motion, by hapakitsune, 24k. AU where Louis has become a YouTube star by posting his project to propose to Liam 100 times, in 100 different ways. They're not together, but the problem is that Louis's been falling for Liam as this goes on (it's taken a couple of years); this fic starts as Louis's on his way to proposal 100, as he tries to figure out how to get Liam to understand that it's real, so we get some pining and some plotting at the same time, and some nice Louis characterization stuff. Also, as part of his video series he got the attention of Nick Grimshaw who starts hanging out with them and then especially with Harry--it's not important enough that I'd call this a multi-ship story, but it's a largeish subplot.

Better With You, by harriet_vane, 38k. Single dad Liam needs a nanny; Harry introduces him to a friend named Louis who needs a job. This one has good use of the supporting cast/other 1D members, and it does a good job of making single parenthood actually difficult for Liam, even with his resources. The Louis here is also a little unusual--he hasn't been as successful in life, so it's definitely still Louis, but with different edges than he has in real life. The story is a bid sad in parts, but overall really good and satisfying, with a few hilarious moments.

Don't Take Love Off the Table Yet, by harriet_vane, 26k. Louis's a wedding planner, hired to do Liam and Danielle's wedding. Only Danielle's off touring, so it's actually Liam and Louis meeting up all the time to plan things and, eventually, to just hang out. I sort of thought I knew how this plotline was going to go, but there's a bit in the middle that's definitely sideways from what I was predicting. (Still great, though!)

Fine By Me (if you never leave), by harriet_vane, 5k. Nonfamous AU; Louis lies to his mum that he's dating Liam, and Liam agrees to go along with it. Super charming, with just the right amount of skeptical/amused friends about how true or untrue Louis's lie actually was (neither too innocent nor too obvious).

Hold You Closer, by harriet_vane, 52k. Liam volunteers at a hospital and ends up wanting to adopt a little girl with kidney problems like him. So, basically without any lead time, he takes a baby home, which leads to a bunch of press and also his boys being worried about him; by collective agreement Louis comes by to help him out. A really good slow build to the relationship, with a well-developed cast of supporting characters (all the boys play decent roles, as do Liam's family). It's nice too because Liam and Louis work as a team with the baby, so you get to see that interaction as well as the romantic one. Basically, this version of Liam will make you want to wrap him up in soft blankets and give him everything he wants.

Like You Made Me Feel When We Were, by harriet_vane, 18k. Liam and Louis were best friends growing up, then Louis moved to London and cut off all contact. But then, finally, he comes home for a visit, and Liam tries to avoid him but can't. Lovely achey angst, and an interesting version of the Liam and Louis relationship that I liked quite a bit.

Miss Missing You, by harriet_vane, 16k. Louis wakes up from a coma having forgotten most of the last year. This is a normal person AU, so it mostly focuses on what this does to his relationships, rather than combining that with what it does for his work life/fame. It has a different than usual (for fic) take on what makes relationships difficult and how those difficulties can be worked, which I thought worked well; definitely some angst throughout, though it's not too heavy on it when it does come up.

A Place in the Sun, by harriet_vane, 41k. A summer camp AU: the 1D boys are counselors at a summer camp in Vermont. Rather like IRL, Liam and Louis don't get along at first, but that changes over time. There's some pretty serious miscommunication (with associated angst) in here, but it felt realistic--it wasn't a contrived thing, but the kind of misunderstanding that could actually happen between people. This fic also comes with a side of some seriously cute Harry/Niall as well.

Someone Like You, by harriet_vane, 28k. High school AU. Liam and Niall and Zayn are school friends, and Liam's got a crush on Louis, who's also about his age in the town but whom he's never met. Then Zayn drags Liam to a party and the five of them end up good friends. I liked, in this, that lots of people like and protect Liam, although Liam doesn't really notice and has trouble understanding when he does; it makes all the friendships feel very warm. There's also--well--a thing that surprised me (in a good way), so I won't give away what it was, but I'll say it's definitely not quite the plot you think it might be, just from this summary.

Truly, Madly, Crazy, Deeply, by harriet_vane, 30k. Liam and Louis accidentally wake up married in Vegas, like you do. A nonfamous AU. The emotional tenor of this one is pretty interesting--I kind of want to call it Liam pining without knowing he's pining, only they're actually together. Hits all the nice beats you expect from this kind of fic, and a lovely conclusion.

Better Than Love, by lazy_daze, 5k. Omegaverse PWP with feelings. Louis was classified as indeterminate, then goes into heat, and Liam finds him. Some nice stuff about how their nonsexual relationship informs how they are together in a sexual relationship, plus, y'know, good sex writing and stuff.

Makes This Harder, by lazy_daze, 1.5k. Nice bit of Liam/Louis post-concert porn, with some notably hot banter.

When It's With Your Body, by liralen, 4k. Liam's a bit unconvinced about being on the receiving end of butt stuff, so Louis sets out to convince him (and does). Super hot, with a super cute bonus conversation at the end too.

Practice Makes Perfect, by mistresscurvy, 26k. Following the accidental OTRA kiss, Liam asks Louis for help learning how to kiss (and more) with boys. A bit of gentle misunderstanding, some good sex, and super cute Liam/Louis stuff.

Enough to Go By, by oliviacirce, 59k. Long Liam/Louis futurefic, which does all the tasty futurefic stuff that I love: showing the characters in different but still-fulfilling circumstances, touching on how their relationships have changed and grown over the years, delving into some really good angst about the way things worked out. This one also has a kind of fun structure of flashbacks, which give you more detail on the buildup over the years but also are unpredictable in certain ways. And also some getting-older angst that I really identified with, what with being about the same age as the characters are in the future portion of the fic! Plus, fun stuff with the other 1D boys, still in each others' orbits in certain ways, ten years on.

Level Up, by oliviacirce, 30k. Liam comes out to the band as submissive, and Zayn twigs that he's not telling them in general--that he's got a thing for Louis--so Louis and Liam start exploring Liam's kinks a bit, as mates. So there's some learning-about-kink stuff in here, but also a lot of bits about how everyone in the band cares for each other, which was very satisfying. And while I like sort of fantasy everything goes perfect sex scenes, I also like the sort that happens here, where it's kind of messy and people are still figuring things out. This one's also fun, because you get to watch Liam come to accept what it is that he wants, and it's nice.

somebody ought to corrupt you on the dance floor (and take you home), by oliviacirce, 8k. The band votes on getting Liam to try dick when he breaks up with his girlfriend. Louis agrees to take Liam out to a gay club, under some pressure by the other boys. Some really lovely Liam moments, and some lovely Liam and Louis moments, and some humorous meddling friends.

He's Always On The Scene (His Engine's Bright and Clean), by sunsetmog, 5k. Pretty funny, though also somewhat angsty, fic, where Louis's in love with Liam, and then Liam shows up for a fancy dress party in a firefighter's costume and Louis practically combusts. A sweet resolution to it, too.

Only Hate the Road When You're Missing Home, by sunsetmog, 49k. I don't want to give too much away with this summary. Suffice to say that Louis and Liam had been in a relationship when they were teens, then broke up, and this fic is set when they meet again years later. There are some nice bits where one character doesn't really downplay the seriousness of the actions that broke them up, but is still willing to work to move past them; they're obviously still really in love throughout the whole thing even if you're not sure they'll be able to make it back together. Heartbreaking in parts, but well worth the read.

These Streets Are Yours, by sunsetmog, 5k. Liam and Louis were friends in school; Louis confessed he was romantically interested in Liam after graduation, and Liam freaked out and stopped talking to Louis. Then Louis's at uni where Liam also is, and they keep running into each other--sometimes accidentally, sometimes not. Very angsty, but that gives some extra punch to the ending.

Harry/Zayn


If You Wanna Find Love, by cantgetnoworse, 39k. A university AU where Zayn's an art student and his friend Harry is in a bad relationship; when Zayn helps him out, Zayn and Harry start to become closer. This one talks about Zayn's religion and its importance to him more than most fics I read, though still not to a huge extent. Also deals with lots of internalized shame about queerness. The prose is pretty interesting, too, it's a little outside the norm for fanfic writing. Primary Zayn/Harry, but includes some Zayn/OFC and Harry/OMC, neither of which is, ah, an ideal relationship.

Give It All Away (To Only You), by disarm_d, 10k. College AU, where Harry and Zayn meet and start sleeping together, but things don't work out perfectly at first. This is a nice example of people accommodating each other without a lot of drama or even really a lot of discussion, plus some good porn.

Never Ever and Ever, by disarm_d, 4k. During a game of Never Have I Ever, Harry learns that Zayn's been fucked before, and becomes obsessed with this bit of knowledge. Some good stuff of the different band members interacting, some very funny bits, and some excellent porn to finish it off.

Watched the Ocean Eat the Sand, by disarm_d, 13k. Zayn and Louis live full-time in a resort town on the Canadian coast; Niall and Liam are regular summer visitors, and they bring Harry with them, and Zayn and Harry get together. Lots of stuff in here about being college-aged and thinking of what your life is going to be, how you plan that and what you do, with contrasts between Zayn and Louis, who are working, and the other three, who are all in college, and particularly Harry, who's quite wealthy. Interesting relationships between all of the characters. Always a bit sad and angsty throughout, getting more so near the end; not a happy ending at all.

baby i'll never leave if you keep holding me this way, by estrella30, 10k. Zayn's an incubus, resisting the idea that he should find his mate; then he finds Harry. Interesting worldbuilding, and an interesting development of the Zayn and Harry relationship (they both resist, at different times, for different reasons), and some hot sex too. Also, in a way, about growing up, and being scared of what that means.

(i feel them) crash against my skin, by gorgeousnerd, 4k. A really interesting take on bodyswap, both in the nonsexual scenes and also in the eventual sex scene. Writing something like this requires some really sharp character observation that the author pulls off well, and an unusual sense of physicality.

Out of Line and Into, by gravitycentered, 7k. Always-a-girl!Zayn and always-a-girl!Harry were friends as teens, and then Harry moves back from America and they both figure out there's a mutual attraction. Nice F/F PWP with a bit of dom/sub stuff in there too.

revision, by gravitycentered, 8k. Harry telling Zayn about his hookups, until Zayn is one of them. Reeeeally good porn, and some interesting character stuff with the two of them pushing boundaries beforehand.

Heart Skips a Beat, by harriet_vane, 28k. University AU where Louis and Liam meet in a club, then Harry (who's Louis's roommate) meets Liam's friend Zayn and falls for him. Cue lots of pining, plus an observer's view of Liam/Louis. What makes this fic really interesting for me is the way Harry's portrayed, especially in terms of his relationships with Louis and Zayn. It's less indulgent towards Harry than a lot of fics would be, steering hard into his kind of possessiveness about the people he likes and what kinds of problems that would cause, but it's sympathetic towards him at the same time. This is the kind of story I want to go back and read just so I can turn those character choices over in my head again and look at them from lots of different angles.

All the Days of My Life, by rilla, 41k. Zayn and Harry wake up married in Vegas. Super angsty, with lots of pining that the characters don't necessarily realize is pining, but really excellent nonetheless. This one also has a bunch of really great metaphors in the prose, like little extra tasty treats as you're reading.

Fractured, by thisonegoes, 33k. Zayn gets hit by a car and Harry is his nurse in hospital. I've never been in the situation, so I can't say how sugarcoated it really is, but it felt mostly realistic to me--there's some nice Zayn and Harry stuff, but also some things like, for example, Zayn getting depressed because it's really boring to lie in a hospital bed for months at a time. I often have trouble with fics narrated by Zayn, just because I don't connect to his personality particularly well, but this one was a notable exception: I found it very easy to slip into his head.

go the distance, by ymorton, 1.5k. Orgasm delay porn. Good stuff.

Niall/Bressie


What turns on your lights, Full moon is calling, and Coming right behind you, by balefully and mediaville, 27k total. Bressie comes to join the boys for a few days on tour, as friends of 1D often do, but in this case Bressie's being a little weird, and eventually reveals that he's interested in Niall as more than friends. Niall decides he's down with that, and the rest of it is them starting on a new relationship. I liked watching the development of a relationship where both parties are well aware that one of them is more invested than the other to begin with, as well as the negotiations around that difference.

Point A and Point B, by ferritin4, 5k and 21k. The first fic is Niall coming to terms with the fact that he's queer; the second is Bressie pining for him. The first one is lovely and hot and hopeful as Niall goes on a journey of self-discovery: there's no actual Niall/Bressie in it, but a lot of Niall's realization is centered around his relationship with Bressie. The second one has a kind of a lived-in sense of love, as Bressie realizes Niall's the one he wants. I ended up really rooting for them to get together, more than I do in some other stories. This also neatly walks the fine line between being very romantic and being more realistic about how people handle relationships when they think their feelings are unrequited. Really good stuff.

Tie Me To You, by rivers_bend, 8k. Extremely hot Niall/Bressie omegaverse fic. They're very affectionate with each other and supportive of each other, which I like, but also lots of sex (which I also like). Manages to smoothly weave in some things about how their lives are hard (with tour scheduling and such), without distracting from the main thrust of the plot--it just feels like a very lived-in relationship.

Louis/Zayn


conjure up a second heart (to house your sweet pain), by becka, 7k. Eleanor breaks up with Louis, and Louis's a little shit to everybody, until Zayn finally makes Louis let Zayn give him what he needs. Masochism, basically, and a bit of H/C (though not out of the ordinary hurt, anyway, just the breakup--the masochism bits are the comfort). A bit of praise kink, too, which I always like.

A suitcase under each one of my eyes and Can you see the enemy just isn't me tonight? by becka, 9k and 3k. Louis breaks up with Eleanor and starts hooking up with Zayn again before he leaves the band. They've had sex before, but not this seriously. The sequel is a time they meet up after Zayn has already left. A lot of this is in Louis's head--Louis's perceptions of the events, what Zayn thinks about him--and one thing I like about the sequel in particular is that you can see things that maybe weigh against Louis's interpretation, but you can also understand why his interpretation is what it is. Also, quite hot, if you're into that kind of thing.

only fools rush in, by gravitycentered, 22k. This is a nice friends-with-benefits-to-lovers fic, where all the boys are housemates at uni and Zayn and Louis start sleeping together. One thing I particularly appreciated about this fic was that they actually stopped and had a discussion about the feelings when they happened, rather than avoiding the subject and having it blow up in their faces (which can be fun too, of course, but I enjoyed the contrast here). And the ending is very cute.

baby you were my picket fence, by oliviacirce, 2k. Some post-Zayn-leaving Zayn/Louis angst and porn, with the relatively unusual quality of being Zayn POV (I've read much more Louis POV of that, though that may be due to the authors I read and not the drift of the fandom--who knows). Packs a wallop of a punch for something so short.

Harry/Niall


This One's Not Pretend, by acastle, 22k. Futurefic; Selena has Christmas plans, so Niall heads to a ski resort on his own, and Harry comes by to surprise him. Has lots of that angsty "we didn't make it work before, can we make it work now" futurefic stuff I love. It also has some of the "in denial about their feelings" stuff that can be fun in pining plus, only in this case it's particularly interesting because it seems more intentional than the denial usually does. Does contain infidelity.

share a little of that human touch, by becka, 4k. Niall and Harry, cuddling (then more) because they both have a broken heart. Quite angsty, but in a kind of...plausibly truthful way?

move your world a little closer, by countthestars, 46k. Niall lives in Pahrump, Nevada, and hosts a late-night conspiracy theory talk show; Harry's one of his regular callers; Louis and Liam are his best friends. This takes a common fanon characterization of Harry to its logical conclusion, and does it brilliantly. The Niall/Harry stuff is sweet, and the Louis/Liam stuff is--well, also sweet, but very appropriate for them. There's also a lot in here about hope and the future and what it's like to make plans when you're young and unsure about things, which I found very relatable. (Also: minor tentacles.)

Let's See to It, by hollybennett123, 5k. Niall turns into a girl, and has always wanted to have sex with Harry, so does. Another angsty one.

the one with all the football, by irishmizzy and miss_bennie, 125k. A uni AU, set in the boys' senior year at a Midwestern Big 10-type university (like the one I attended). In the midst of the upheaval of friend and romantic breakups as well as their upcoming graduation, Niall and Harry start hanging out, and then sleeping together. This felt very true to what I remember from being at a university like this--the drinking and sports culture, but also the conglomerated friend groups who do everything together, and what the final year is like, etc. It's a bit longer than it needs to be, but all of it is a good and interesting reinterpretation of OTRA as a year in college, and the Niall/Harry stuff is particularly nice.

Always Wanna Blow Your Mind, by jibrailis, 18k. Harry picks up a magic sex ring. Along with his one-night stands, he starts sleeping with Niall, and then just with Niall. More than a bit of slapstick comedy in this but some nice warm and fuzzy feelings too.

only time is ours series by littlecather, 197k total. In the first fic in this series, Harry Styles wakes up from an accident with retrograde amnesia, not remembering anything about his life as a model or his fiance Liam Payne. But it's not only Liam he appears to be involved with--there's also Liam's assistant Niall. I'm not usually a fan of amnesia fics, and this one is very angsty in the way I often don't like, but the specificity of the thing between Harry and Niall is really lovely and more than enough to make up for it. The sequel is even more of a gut punch than the first, because it's actually a prequel and you know how it will end; at least there are the later fics to catch up, though. I'm not an expert, but this seemed more realistic about the progression and prognosis of a head injury resulting in amnesia than most fics are (in a way that also, y'know, ups the angst). I wouldn't read this on a day when you were already feeling kinda down, but as a nice shot of angsty romance when you're in the mood, it's great.

Baby, I, by makesomelove, 23k. This is the kind of fic that would have gotten called crackfic in Harry Potter, but which nonetheless is emotionally very serious (though not solemn). It's all about making connections and accepting reliance on other people and love and stuff. Just with a weird version of lactation kink on top of it all. A great Niall in this, with realistic emotional reticence, and a pretty weird Harry that actually is probably as weird as the real Harry, unlike a lot of fic. I wouldn't start out your 1D fic reading with this fic, but once you're comfortable with the characters it's amazing.

Really, Really, by makesomelove, 2k. Bit of Harry/Niall PWP, in one of my favorite subgenres, "Harry Styles: Weird Sex Pervert." (I mean, it's not kinky, but Harry has some strange thoughts.)

untitled, by ymorton, 5k. Niall gets anxious when they're on a tour break, so Harry goes home with him and basically figures out a bunch of ways to calm him down. Only vaguely slashy, but like...um, this really hit my id on a level of "things that would be really nice", so.

Louis/Niall


but i've made up my mind, by annemari, 9k. Niall's sick, and Louis gets volunteered to take care of him. A pretty sweet fic of Louis trying to do his best and be selfless, even though he's not always succeeding; some nice conversations with the other boys, too.

I can hear your heart, by balefully, 22k. Niall and Louis start hooking up before the hiatus, and then during, and Niall gets pregnant. I've heard this kind of thing called pining plus--that is, they're hooking up but not talking about emotions much, so it's pining while you have part of what you want. At least one laugh-out-loud funny scene, lots of pining, some hot sex, and a happy ending (though it came a bit sooner than I wanted).

draw back your bow, by gorgeousnerd, 14k. Niall is a cupid--a magical being whose job is to help people with their relationships (this can be romantic or just friendship). He gets assigned Louis, but no information on how he's supposed to help him, so he tries to set up lots of friend dates, sometimes with the help of his fellow cupids (the LIC). Some unusual background relationships and a different progression than most fic relationships--slower and less sexual, which I appreciated here (though I like the sexual ones too of course). And some pretty interesting worldbuilding too, if you like that sort of thing!

let the dog decide, by stigmata, 17k. Niall's a werewolf, but everything else is the same as our universe. Not actually super heavy on the werewolf stuff, though it is discussed a bit; it's more just a slow-burn Louis/Niall relationship, where their growing closeness is mediated by Niall's wolfy things. Plus a sex scene that is, er, very much my sort of thing.

Harry/Liam


show you a few things, by lazy_daze, 2k. Incredibly hot orgasm delay/coming untouched fic.

Niall/Zayn


Oceans and waves and wires between us, by becka, 9k. Niall has a girlfriend, Veronica, whom he's only spoken to online; he asks the Catfish guys to help him find her, and the answer isn't what he expected. This has a great Niall/Zayn relationship, and also everyone's pretty chill about orientation and stuff, which I liked in this context at least.

all the stars align, by countthestars, 9k. Magical realism AU, where your soulmate's name appears like a tattoo somewhere on your body. I wouldn't exactly call this an inverted trope, but it does play out somewhat differently from any other soulmark fic I've read, and has some nice pining in the middle.

Liam/Zayn


Follow Us and Be Still, by harriet_vane, 1.5k and 3k. The first one is the boys horsing around and teasing each other, only Zayn kisses Liam, and maybe that wasn't a joke. The second one is Zayn working through his feelings about Liam. Short and sweet (in both ways that phrase can be taken), with really spot-on voices for all the boys.

Some Girls, Do It Like This, and don't the moon pull the tide, baby, by Rave, 18k total. Zayn turns into a girl and is having trouble getting off, so asks Liam for help. They don't quite get there at first, but this rapidly develops into some of the hottest porn I've read in this fandom, while still being full of nice character moments and funny conversations. Harry appears in about three lines that are somehow perfectly characterized, as well. The pronouns used for Zayn switch back and forth throughout the fics--I'm sure this is deliberate, since it reflects both Liam's and Zayn's confusion about what's happened and what it means--but I thought it was worth mentioning because I imagine it could bother some readers.

Liam/Niall


no guilt in pleasure here, by teaspoon, 3k. Liam and Niall and a dildo. Bit D/s-y, very hot, sometimes sweet.

Harry/Louis


So much stays unknown until the time has come, by becka, 5k. 27-year-old Harry shows up, saying he needs to talk to 19-year-old Louis. This one is VERY heavy on the angst (which I love when it's well-done), though it has its moments of humor as well. It has some sharp observation on how Louis would react and what he would notice, too. Lovely, but super sad.

And If You Ask Nicely by disarm_d, 5k. X Factor-era Harry/Louis, fairly kinky, mostly PWP--takes place after the video diary with the blindfolds, plus masochism and some other things. Also has some nice conversational moments between a Harry and Louis who don't know each other all that well yet.

Soft Like Circles, Strong Like Squares, by disarm_d, 5k. A slightly unusual omegaverse, where alphas are discriminated against; very angsty, with lots of analogues to internalized homophobia, but really interesting and emotionally truthful to me because of that.

You Are the Fever, by flimsy, 3k. Omegaverse PWP, when Harry and Louis's rut/heat coincide. A fairly realistic take on them having feelings for each other, and acting on them, but at the same time not really talking about them.

It's My Pleasure to Introduce You, by LoadedGunn, and Switch Out the Batteries, by istajmaal and LoadedGunn, 8k and 88k. An AU where Louis works in a sex shop and ends up getting together with attractive customer Harry. The second fic is Harry back from tour in America and trying to reconnect with Louis via copious amounts of kinky sex. Just...incredibly so much hot kinky porn, you don't even know. I mean--it's not all porn; the second fic in particular has a lot of things about how you negotiate a kinky relationship and what both of them get out of it. Side note: I actually read the first fic before I was in 1D fandom and found the characterizations over the top, not realizing that that's, like, what they're actually like!

You'll Breathe Me In (You Won't Release) and So Baby Whenever You're Ready by LoadedGunn, 95k and 9k. Harry's a 17 year old student who gets a 25 year old Louis as his private driving instructor. Not exactly my version either of the characters or of what a potential relationship between them would be like, but some hot and funny UST and then some boiling hot D/s porn throughout the rest of it (and the sequel, which has some Harry/Louis/Zayn in it, though Zayn's there only sexually not romantically). Should probably note the bit of breathplay and the large presence of daddy kink: the breathplay is warned for so you can skip it, but the daddy kinks is present throughout. Neither of those are my kinks and the rest of the D/s stuff was so hot I didn't mind them, but if that's a squick for you instead of just something you don't care about you should probably give this one a miss. Oh--and a bit of what I think of as dubcon exhibitionism, where the relationship is so cute and perfect that the OTT PDA is at best a mild annoyance to their friends, which I always find kind of unrealistic, but which appears a lot in fic for some reason... Anyway, so some caveats on this one, but if it's up your alley it's got some great stuff in it too.

Louis Love, by OhSlashy, 68k. Um. So definitely read the warnings and tags on this. This is definitely id fic, but if your id is like mine you might enjoy it anyway. It's quite underage (13 yo with 18 yo) A/B/O, lots of size kink porn (in both senses) and heat porn, with kinda shaky worldbuilding. There are also a couple of tough scenes, as warned for at the top of the fic, NOT between our main pairing of interest. Definitely a fic I'm reccing for only a subset of the people who read this recs list, but for that subset I think you might enjoy it. (There are sequels but I have not read them yet.)

Multiple ships


Doctor Styles's Home for Wayward Boys, by axira, 24k. So uh...we're gonna pretend I never recced this, right? Just, if you like Victorian medical kink that's mostly people putting things up Louis's butt, read this.

All the lifts home and all the mixed feelings, by becka, 27k. A high school AU with a bunch of intertwined stories--all connected to at least one other story, but not always intersecting with all of them. In one story, Niall and Louis are high school boyfriends trying to navigate Niall's last year before uni and Louis's first year out of school; in another, Harry is interested in Nick, but Harry's a student still and Nick's a teacher (at a different school). The Nick/Harry stuff was handled especially nicely, I thought, with unusual care taken with the difficulties of a relationship with a power dynamic like that. And Louis and Niall are just so sweet together, even though they have some situations of their own to work through. Lots of good stuff, and it never stays too long with any one story--this is a lean, aerodynamic machine of a story, giving you exactly as much as it needs to give you an emotional punch but not a moment more.

Like We Stood a Chance, by becka, 35k. Harry/Taylor Swift, Harry/Nick, Karlie Kloss/Taylor Swift. A canon-compliant fic, weaving together the way Harry and Taylor feel about each other and how they work in a relationship with the way Harry and Taylor also react to the people around them. Beautifully written in a way that is very hard (I know, 'cause I try it and hardly ever make it work): the scenes sort of skim across the face of the story, giving you exactly the amount of information/emotion you need and not a bit more. The style gives it a kind of dreamlike ...disconnection isn't really the right word; it's held at one remove, but still very immediate emotionally. There's a decent amount of discussion of bisexuality in here, too, which I enjoyed. A pretty perfect ending as well.

Until you shook my tree, by becka, 3k. Taylor decides to let Harry have an exception. Then she and Harry basically have phone sex while talking through what he did with Nick. Super super hot, and also interesting in the way it discusses, like, self-perception and relationships.

The Honeysuckle Arch, by junkshopdisco, 47k. Niall's gay, and ends up going home (platonically) with Nick one night, only to continue to run into him over and over. Lots of internal conflict for Niall: over what and who he wants, over how he feels now that Zayn's left; a large part of the emotions of this fic are echoes and ripples from Zayn leaving, in fact. There's Niall/Nick things, of course, but also Niall/Harry and implied/discussed Harry/Nick. I'm not sure I'm adequately describing how wonderful this fic is: parts of it are pretty tough, but there's not a single scene that rings anything other than completely emotionally true. I kept thinking about it for a long time after I finished reading it.

So Much of My Heart, by nicalyse, 23k. Louis's having some trouble after Eleanor left. He's friends with both Nick and Niall; he ends up sleeping with both of them, and then telling both of them. They both agree that it's all right, but there's still some negotiating that must happen. This is kind of an unusual polyamory fic compared to the ones I'm likely to read: it's not a threesome, and sometimes the characters find the poly arrangement difficult, though the rewards outweigh the challenges for all of them. That makes it sound more angsty than it is! It isn't, really, it's just that those are the parts I found especially notable--a lot of it's just some nice Louis/Niall and Louis/Nick scenes.

Easy as All That (Go Around a Time or Two) (85k) and Forever and a Night (28k), by sunsetmog. Easy as All That is the main story, a high school AU that involves best friends Liam and Louis moving towards a relationship, with lots of fits and starts and roadblocks. This one can be tough at times: there's a lot about discovering you're queer and coming to terms with that, and that involves some trouble for both members of the main pairing, in different ways and to different degrees. A side issue in the first fic is that Harry is interested in his friend Nick, who's a decade older; the second fic is Harry's eighteenth birthday, when Nick finally agrees to sleep with him, and it is very sweet and very hot and my little OTP heart loves it very much.

down for the count, by ymorton, 16k. Niall's gay but closeted, and uses trips to Australia as a chance to get soundly shagged by one of his friends there. Lots of sex, but also some angst, as Niall deals with the fact that he doesn't want to be out; he's more closeted here than most characters in most slashfic I read (partially by selection, of course, as it's not usually my preference). Eventually Harry learns about it, and starts sleeping with Niall too in a kind of half-fuckbuddy half-emotionally-entangled way. The push-pull of Niall getting what he wants while he also denies himself what he wants is pretty interesting. I'll also mention that this was originally posted in bits and bobs on tumblr and not all of those pieces are in the version on ao3, so if you like this you could go through that tag as well.

swear everything's fine, by ymorton, 6k. Harry/Niall, Harry/Nick. Niall and Harry are hanging out, and Harry starts to tell Niall about his relationship with Nick, and then suggests the two of them have sex; it turns out to be what neither of them wants. Very angsty, but believably so.

takes a bit more, by ymorton, 5k. Various permutations of Harry/Niall, Harry/Nick, and Nick/Niall. Very angsty, including the ending. Harry's characterization is interesting in this--I'd say consistent with canon, but a good deal more selfish than Harry is usually portrayed; I also very much liked this version of Niall.

untitled ficlet, by ymorton, 2k. Mostly Nick/Harry with some implied or possibly unrequited Harry/Niall; Niall overhears Harry having phone sex with Nick. Pretty hot, and it's kind of interesting being in Niall's head for this scene.

untitled ficlet, by ymorton, 2k. Niall and Harry discussing what they like about sleeping with married couples, then discussing sleeping together. Oddly plausible.

Threesomes and moresomes


The water to quench my throat, by balefully, 10k. Nick and Harry are together, but Harry's free to do what he wants when he's on tour. Nick goes to visit him, as a surprise, and comes across Harry and Niall having sex; he joins in, but he can see something about their relationship that Harry can't. I really appreciate fics with sensible adult conversations about relationships, which this has; it also does a very good job at letting you know what all the characters are thinking and feeling without giving up the kind of tight third-person voice that I like best.

All In, by Becka, 10k. Louis is in a relationship with Niall, and admits to him that he'd like to be fucked by everyone in the band, so Niall sets it up as a birthday present. A good, hot group sex fic, but also some good emotional stuff--the relationships between the band members are individualized nicely, and all of them (especially Niall) take care of Louis emotionally as well as physically.

tied to the shifting ground, by brokendrums, 51k. Niall's been adopted by the London Irish Crew, and gets especially close to the trio of Niall Breslian, Eoghan McDermott, and Laura Whitmore. Eventually, he finds he's falling for all three of them. This is very much a pining fic; having written one of those recently, what impressed me the most is that how none of this feels repetitive, even though a fair amount of it consists of Niall wishing he was in a relationship with one or more of them--there's a continual escalation, slow but steady, throughout the fic. (We won't discuss how late I stayed up reading this, whoops...)

Fevered, by cyclogenesis, 8k. Not quite an OT5 gangbang, but something like that: exhibitionist sex between subgroups of the band, when they're all in the same room after a show. Super hot, and some extremely amusing characterizations (Harry and Louis's relationship in particular). In that nice bunch-of-weirdos characterization zone that I really like.

Fuck With You, by cyclogenesis, 10k. Harry and Louis are weird perverts, in the funny way, and start sexually teasing Niall onstage. Niall isn't a fan at first, but it all ends up with happy exhibitionistic onstage groping and then group sex, like you do. (I've said before I'm not a fan of the kind of unnegotiated-with-bystanders OTT PDA that appears sometimes in fic, but this one in particular has a weird mix of heightened reality and recognizing the weirdness so that it didn't trigger that squick for me; but there is definitely more PDA onstage than I think would be wise IRL.)

Outlast, by disarm_d, 20k. Screamingly funny fic where the boys (goaded mostly by Louis) talk themselves into a bet about who can go the longest without coming. The ongoing development of who's managed it, who's strategizing about winning, and who's helping the others out is very funny, and gives lots of chances for different pairwise interactions between all the boys. Lots of sex (or at least desire for sex) in various pairings, nice characterizations of everyone, and, as I said, absolutely hilarious.

people throw rocks at things that shine, by flyingthesky and spibsy, 36k. I'll start out by saying that this is a fic written with a great deal of enthusiasm and, perhaps, a bit less technique than one would like, but it has so many nice moments (and a couple of laugh-out-loud bits) that I think it's worth reading anyway. Basically, I found it really charming, despite its flaws. In short, this fic starts out with a Louis and Harry very involved friendship but Louis/Eleanor and Harry/Nick relationships, and ends up a kind of foursome. But, Harry and one of the other characters have a nest of friendly tentacles instead of genitalia. Also there are people in this story who ejaculate pudding (the American dessert--like a soft custard, sort of the texture but not the taste of yogurt--rather than the British sense of a general dessert). Let's be honest, at this point you've already decided if you're going to read it or not.

chest full of birds, by hungerpunch, 9k. Nonfamous AU; Niall moves in across the hall from Marvin and Rochelle, and is immediately taken with both of them. This one's neat because Niall is a stranger to Melvin and Rochelle, so some of the fic involves Niall being good at things to impress them (and vice versa)--I like fics that work hard to make me understand why the characters are together. Plus, normal adult communication things!

Doubling down, by lazy_daze, 10k. Sometimes Liam comes to Louis when he needs to get fucked. Then Louis figures out he's doing the same thing with Zayn, so he and Zayn come up with a plan. Spoiler: the plan is double penetration. If that's your jam, then this fic is really, really, really your jam. (And of course the characterization's good too and stuff.)

Rota, by lazy_daze, 9k. Liam breaks his wrist, and Louis decides that means he can't masturbate, so all the boys in the band will have to help him out, and so they make up a schedule. The characterizations here are quite good, and the whole thing is very funny, as Liam realizes exactly what he's going to be able to get out of the arrangement. Actually I really like the Liam characterization here--he's a bit more sly than he is in a lot of fics, while still being very sweet.

Rhythm of Their Voices, by liralen, 2k. The other really hot "Zayn and Louis DP Liam" fic, with a side order of overstimulation kink.

Familiar Strangers, by LittleMousling, 3k. The band gangbangs Harry. Nicely in Harry's head throughout.

Not Exactly 156.mov, by LittleMousling, 5k. Based on some porn Harry likes, Nick arranges a threesome with Caroline. The sex is really good, but I also really liked Harry's characterization in this: sort of cheekily romantic.

Sparks Fly, by LittleMousling, 4k. Taylor comes over to Nick's while she's in London, since they're both dating Harry, and they all get drunk and have a friendly threesome.

Come On With The Rain, by oliviacirce, 6k. After the rainy show in Switzerland, the boys have an orgy. Interesting in the way it folds in how well the boys all know each other as part of what they do.

Third Wheel and The Sportsman's Guide to Tricycling, orphaned works, 4k and 3k. Harry and Louis are together; Harry invites Nick over because he wants Nick and Louis to get along, and they do, via hot but perhaps emotionally unusual threesomes. I really like fics like these that explore the slightly off-kilter relationships the characters seem to have, intense but not fully in either the friendship or the romance domains. (Basically, the bunch-of-weirdos fics.) A different set of characterizations than most fics I read, but plausible and engaging.

untitled, by makesomelove, 1k. Niall at New Year's; kissing. Not sure if I should call this gen or OT5, but it's super lovely.

Won't Get to Space Because I Haven't Got a Rocket, by sunsetmog, 23k. Liam didn't try out for X Factor again and instead goes to work as a mechanic in Wolverhampton. On a trip to London, he ends up adopted by Louis and Harry. There's a lot in here about Liam...I won't say necessarily having severely low self-esteem, but we'll say, extremely low expectations for how well he should be treated by the people around him; I also liked the discussion of what Liam's goals and dreams were as a mechanic, which felt realistic to me for somebody who was in his situation. It also has the kind of nebulously sexual relationship between Harry and Louis that I frequently enjoy, and the ending is excellent.

You're a Rabbit, Louis, by sunsetmog, 6k. Harry/Louis/Nick. Louis goes to visit Harry and Nick, who have gotten together finally, and Louis's sad about it but not showing it. Then he turns into a tiny baby rabbit, and Harry and Nick take care of him. I read this, like, three times the first week it came out, because it's so perfect and the visuals are so great and it's such a nice jolt of angst followed by a happy ending.

bang bang bang, by tirewrite, 9k. Harry and Nick run into Mark Ronson at a party and end up having a threesome. Quite hot: there's a nice push and pull between Mark and Nick, who are both domming Harry with very different styles. Double penetration, if you're into that kind of thing.

Die Another Day, by wildestoftales, 40k. Secret agent Nick gets wounded on a mission that's left incomplete, and rookie agent Liam is assigned to help guard him at home--a home also containing Nick's teacher boyfriend Louis. This is a lot of Nick, Liam and Louis being cranky and bored because they can't leave the flat very often, but cranky in a funny-for-the-reader way. Super cute overall.

Proper Groupie, by ymorton, 5k. What's that, you wanted a blazing hot fic about virgin 70s-era Harry Styles deciding to be a groupie and getting gangbanged by rock band members Liam, Louis and Zayn? Yeah. Go read this. (It's not linked from AO3, but there was a gifset inspiration for this fic that you may enjoy as well.)

Better Off Together Here Tonight and Come into your world and get it right, by zeldamonkey, 12k and 6k. In the first fic, Caroline enjoys introducing Harry to new things, so she invites Nick to come over and join them for a threesome so Harry can try out dudes. The second fic is just Nick/Harry. The first fic in particular is not all smooth sailing for the characters--everyone had expectations about how the threesome will go, and nobody was right--but it's very hot anyway; the second has some calmer character moments, plus more hot sex and some funny observations by Nick.

a nice cure for hypothermia, by zeldamonkey, 4k. Harry's cold after the You and I shoot, so in the car on the way home, the other boys warm him up. Good, separate characterizations; the porn kind of borders on overstimulation, in a way that I think means it's fine if you don't like that, but if you do it's particularly good?

Other pairings


Tour Thing by cyclogenesis, 1.5k. Harry/Michael Clifford from 5 Seconds of Summer, just a hot little flirty PWP.

no remedy for memory, by siempreniall, 36k. Niall starts hooking up with Julian, only it's not clear whether or not it's just that. A lot of this fic is working through Niall's feelings (and the rest of the band's feelings) about Zayn leaving, and it's interesting to watch some of the people around Niall trying to help him when Niall himself isn't totally aware of that. Also, some really hot sex scenes. I will end with one caveat--this author has a dialogue punctuation problem that bugged the heck out of me, but it's mostly fixable with a search-and-replace in the HTML. It's worth reading through that annoyance, though.

Feels So Natural (It's So Simple), by sunsetmog, 5k. Eleanor comes for a visit and she and Louis have hot kinky sex--I guess, high on the 'always includes kink' scale, fairly low on the 'extremity of kink' scale. Just sweet kind of mutual kink discovery, lots of Louis getting mildly dommed and enjoying the fuck out of it. The way everyone should feel free to explore their kinks, frankly.

Gen


untitled ficlet, by ymorton, 2k. A girl asks Niall to take a dick pic for her, and Niall isn't sure how, so he asks Harry for help. Screamingly funny, and also a nice entry in the Harry Styles: Enthusiastic Sex Pervert genre, which I do always enjoy. (This has some Niall/OFC, Harry/Nick, and maybe Harry/Niall in it, but they're all sort of incidental ships.)

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