Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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27. ⪻ 27 ⪼

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Harry had indeed planned an adventure of a day for us, nothing like I had imagined.

As soon as Edward had joined us in the lounge, we made our way to breakfast. Edward enjoyed the colouring pages that were provided and the waffles he scarfed down whilst Harry and I argued over who was going to pay for what. In the end, I lost the battle for everything when I realized that I had “left” my wallet at home; in actuality the man that I’ve my eye for took it out of my bag when I wasn’t looking.

After eating my bodyweight in breakfast foods, we made our way to the National Football Museum, a place that Edward had begged our parents to take him to. He thoroughly enjoyed running around and looking at memorabilia and photographs whilst I enjoyed running after the five year old and telling him not to touch certain things; Harry simply laughed at the both of us before dragging us off to to our next destination.

Thirty minutes later, we were stood in the lobby of a freejumping place where Edward nearly died when he saw all the trampolines. Imagine the face of a small boy when he sees a large warehouse full of trampolines that he could jump until his little legs tired out. Unfortunately for me, his legs don’t tire as easily as mine.

“How is he still running around?”

To say that I’m in shape would be an understatement. I can walk up a few flights of stairs without being winded, thanks to our building not having a functioning lift, but I cannot jump for more than twenty to thirty minutes without a break. And now I’m realizing just how badly I need to go to a fitness centre.

“What’s the matter?” Harry ponders, his large steps falling to my size as my brother continues to practically run around in circles around us.

“I’m totally knackered!” I exclaim, stopping briefly to massage my thighs dramatically. Harry glances up in my brother’s direction, keeping an eye on him as I dramatize my feelings. “My thighs are on fire.” Harry stops walking in front of me, bending down slightly in front of me.

“Hop on.”

“What, no.” I say, laughing lightly as I pass him by with small steps.

“Yeah,” He lightly jogs around me again, getting in the same position in front of me and motioning me on, “we’ve still got more planned for the day; don’t need you all tuckered out before then.” With a sigh, I adjust my bag on my shoulder before climbing onto Harry’s back. My arms encircle his neck, just tight enough to feel secure, but loose enough for him to still breathe. As he stands, my legs tighten around his waist, fearing he’ll drop me, to which he simply chuckles at me.

“Aren’t you sore?” I ask him as he continues walking in the direction of Edward. He’s now standing off by the side of a building, knowing not to get too far from me; but as soon as we’ve come closer, he’s off again.

“A little, but I’m alright.” He says to me before shouting after Edward to slow down and look where he’s going. An older woman gives us a dirty look after my brother’s practically runs directly into her and her small dog.

“That’s probably because you work out.” I tell him, resting my chin upon my arms that rest on his shoulders.

“Not too much anymore.” I don’t know how Harry can look the way he does without a shirt on when he’s not worked out. It must be that healthy eating he’s all about; perhaps I should give it a go.

“Then how on Earth do you look the way you do?” I wonder aloud, finding myself laughing at my own words.

“Same goes for you, Belle. You’re fit.” He tells me, causing my cheeks to burn red with a heated blush.

He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There’s a tad excess fat on my body that shouldn’t be there, but I live with it because it’s who I am. Would I want to parade around in a bikini? Not necessarily, but it’s my body and I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it, entirely.

“Clearly you haven’t seen me without clothes on.” I mutter, my eyes widening briefly, wondering what the response to that will be. I definitely dug myself into this one.

“Is that an invitation?”

As I said previously, we’ve not had too much time for ourselves since our last date. Our relationship hasn’t really gone past the whole kissing a bit stage, there’s not been some crazy snog session between the two of us, merely because there hasn’t been time for that.

Would I like for something like that to happen, 100% yes. But it’ll happen when it does, and hopefully that’s soon, because it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything.

“Taron!”

My entire body stiffens in Harry’s arms upon hearing my brother shout that specific name. It’s not too common either and my brother’s not one for speaking to strangers, usually, so I know exactly who he’s seen. I can already feel my irritation rising and my heart beating erratically fast in my chest.

“Did he just say Taron?” I ask aloud, praying to someone above that I’m just having a nightmare whilst I’m awake.

“Yeah, who’s Taron?” Harry wonders, causing me to squeeze my eyes shut momentarily before opening them to search for my brother.

I spot him with the spawn of satan himself... my ex-boyfriend.

Of course he looks just as good as he did the last time I saw him, hovering above that mutual friend in our bed. He seemed to have aged just enough in the time since I saw him last; a slight stubble was painted upon his chin unlike how he used to keep his facial hair, none at all. He was dressed to the nines, as if I were actually surprised because it seemed that nothing had changed.

My heart hurt already.

“Put me down.” I practically order Harry, forgetting all about my aching body.

Harry does as I say and I’m quick to dart the few metres to where Edward stands with Taron. The man is crouched down in front of my brother, making me think back to the times that I used to bring him home and he’d bond with Edward.

“Edward, you can’t run off like that.” I tell him, lightly pulling him away from Taron and towards me. I know Taron would never do anything to harm him, but I don’t want my brother anywhere near a lying, cheating, sometimes angry man that I used to call my love.

“I know, but it’s Taron and I haven’t seen him in so long!” There’s a reason for that Edward.

“Hey Anna.” That nickname, that damn nickname. He was the only person to ever call me Anna, not even my family coined the nickname. He just came up with it out of the blue one day whilst we were dating, saying that it suited me beautifully.

“Hi.” I say in short, giving him a curt nod.

“How are you doing?” He asks, straightening his jacket out as he stands to his full height, only about an inch shorter than Harry. He may be shorter, but he’s a tad more muscular than Harry.

“I’m fine.” I answer, pushing Edward away from me softly. “Edward, go wait with Harry, please.” I hope that they’ll both stay back whilst I chat with Taron, but I have a feeling Harry staying away for a bit won’t actually happen. “What are you doing here?”

Last I had heard, he had gone off to London for work, almost packing up immediately after I had left him. Apparently, I, and the the girl on the side, were the only things keeping him here in Manchester.

“Just got done with an early dinner with some old friends. You remember Louis and Matt?” I half expect them to be standing in the distance, but I’m thankful that they’re not. They weren’t bad people, but after what happened between Taron and I, they chose to stick with a cheating båstard rather than with me.

“Yeah, was Elise there too?”

“You’re still mad about that, huh.” Taron says, chuckling to himself like it’s some kind of joke. I want to scream at him in public, because I never really got the chance to do it when I was leaving; at least not as much as I would have liked.

“Of course I’m still mad about that, you cheated on me.” I find myself growing angrier and angrier and I know if I don’t take a step back I’ll explode. He always had a way of bringing out the worst in me. I honestly don’t know how we were together for as long as we were. “You know what, I’m not doing this with you.” Taron just smirks at me before glancing at something over my shoulder.

“Who’s this?” He asks. I find myself peeking over my shoulder to see Edward perched upon Harry’s hip. I take a deep breath; part of me wanting to rub it into Taron’s face that I’ve moved on and I’m finally, somewhat, happy.

“This is Harry.” I introduce as the man comes to stand at my side.

“He’s Annie’s new boyfriend!” Edward exclaims whilst making kissing faces, which causes only Harry to laugh at; I, on the other hand, am awaiting for what’s to come from these turn of events. He’s not technically my boyfriend, but I’m not sure how I would introduce him to my ex either way.

“Harry Styles.” Harry says, outstretching his hand to the man that once broke my heart. Taron just smiles back at Harry and does the polite thing.

“Taron Clarke, Anna’s ex.” Again with that dreaded nickname.

“Ah, the cheater.” I nearly choke on my own saliva at what comes out of Harry’s mouth. It’s so suave that I wouldn’t have caught it if I wasn’t listening intently.

“Harry.” I scold as he sets Edward down on his two feet and stands tall again. He sends me a sad, knowing smile before looking to my ex again. I can almost see some form of anger behind his eyes, which scares me at the thought of what he might do.

“Take Edward into the restaurant.” Harry motions to the restaurant that we were making our way to before we ran into Taron. I grab ahold of Edward’s hand, continuing to eye Harry and Taron down. They both appear to be too calm. “I’d like a word with Mr. Clarke.”

“Don’t.” I warn.

“Just take Edward. We’re just going to have a chat.” He tells me, but I fear that the fire behind his eyes isn’t going to just stop after a few words. I don’t want any bloodshed over me, even if Taron does deserve to be hit at least once.

Without another word to Harry, but a starn glare, I lead Edward into the restaurant with the promise of a milkshake and chips. He’s quick to question if Harry and Taron are friends, to which I tell him no and that they just want to talk. From where we’re sat, I can only see Harry’s back at the side of the restaurant which worries me that I can’t keep an eye on him.

“Edward, stay here. I’m going to check on Harry.” I’m hesitant about leaving Edward on his own, but I fear what will happen if I don’t check on Harry.

I’m quick to walk up to the hostess and ask her if she would keep an eye on Edward whilst I grab something from my vehicle. She gives me a curt nod, but doesn’t say word, making me wonder if she’ll actually follow through. It’s the least of my worries though.

I step out of the restaurant to find that the conversation moved to the side of the building. I keep back just listening in to what’s being said between the two before making myself known to them.

“Are you threatening me or something?” Taron’s Welsh accent is as thick as ever, perhaps thicker when trying to make himself sound tough.

“Wherever would you get an idea like that?” The sarcasm that drips from Harry’s lips is like venom. “I just want to know what goes through a person’s head when they cheat on someone.” I peek around the corner of the restaurant seeing Taron pushed up against a wall, with Harry’s body faced away from me.

“Listen mate, I’ll let you in on a little secret: when she sets her mind on something, you get shoved right onto the side. She could care less about you when she’s got bigger things on her mind.”

“You cheated on her because she’s driven and dedicated to her dreams?” Taron merely laughs at Harry’s words and I can see him roll his eyes.

“Between you and me, Anna only cares about her damn bakery, and she’ll do everything in her power to get it. I assume you come from money, is that right?” There must have been something that flashed across Harry’s face that made Taron laugh again. “You are. Well that right there is the reason she’s with you.”

“Stop talking.” Harry threatens. His voice is incredibly deep and the only time I’ve heard it this deep was when we were in the car together. He’s angry and Taron’s words are doing exactly what he wants them to do, hit a nerve.

“Have you slept with her yet? She’s nothing special.” And that’s when I step in, having him insult me about my reasons for dating men is one thing, but talking about my sex life is where I cross the line.

“Taron, what the hell!” I exclaim, causing Harry to look over his shoulder at me. Taron, on the other hand, looks as happy as can be, smugly leaning back against the restaurant wall with his arms crossed over his broad chest.

“Anna, how’s the bakery coming along?” Harry’s attention is taken from me and he’s gone as far as to grab Taron by the collar of his shirt. Taron’s smug look momentarily faltered, but like a switch it was back on in an instant.

“Get out of here.” I tell Taron, but he does little to move, mainly because Harry still has a grasp on him.

“Alright, I’ll go.” Taron pushes Harry off him and I flinch waiting for Harry to pounce, thankfully he remains frozen in place. Taron’s smirk is wide as he looks between the two of us, his eyes lingering upon me a little too long before settling back to Harry. “Have fun with this one, mate. Sorry I loosened her up for you.”

Before I could say or do anything at all, Harry lunges into Taron, sending him flying back against the brick wall of the restaurant. A deep thud resonates where Taron’s skull made contact with the brick. Harry doesn’t just stop there, his fist is repetitively making connections with parts of Taron’s face, deafening cracking sounds causing a shiver to make it’s way down my spine.

If only one punch had been thrown, I think I would have let it go. But by this point there was blood running down Taron’s face and they were both on the ground.

“Harry!” I shout at him to stop, but he doesn’t even falter when he hears my voice. “Harry stop!” I scream at him. I don’t follow what those girls in books do when their men get into fights, instead I stand my ground too scared to step in the way.

Harry sends another fist into Taron’s face as Taron’s knee is sent into Harry’s stomach, making my blood boil and my heart to race at an unhealthy speed.

I’m about to scream at them to stop again, when I see the one person that shouldn’t intervene, step into the fight.

“Edward!” I scream at him as he runs up to Harry. I’m frozen in my spot as he runs up to Harry and nearly tackles his around the torso. Thankfully, Taron notices the boy’s presence and stops fighting with Harry.

“Stop!” The boy screams at Harry. Harry stops immediately, feeling the boy's body on his, as he drops to his knees beside Taron. His back is to me, but I can tell he’s probably fearing looking at me. His hand comes up and touches Edward’s that rests softly on his shoulder. “You’re making Annie cry.”

And just like that I finally register the tears that have been cascading down my cheeks.

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