A Perfect Stranger

When Lara meets a mysterious stranger in the park, they get to talking and she feels drawn to him. What happens when she finds out who he really is?

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8. Hysteria

“There’s nothing funny so we laugh at no-no-nothing.”

Water surrounded me, muting the bustling sounds of the city far below. It filled my ears, nose and eyes, making an ethereal world around me. My lungs burned for oxygen, but I did not surface. Because I knew, across from me sat the five boys in a similar state. I was not going to lose this contest. I relaxed as best I could, focus on everything but my need for air. Finally, when I could force myself to stay under no longer I surfaced, taking a deep, gasping breath. Blinking water out of my eyes, I pushed wet bangs from my face. I huffed in disappointment; I had been the first to surface. I sat and watched with growing awe as they continued to stay under, until finally Zayn surfaced and sucked in a long breath. I swam over to him and we started making bets on which order they would come up in. “Liam will win, then Lou and then Niall and Harry,” I predicted.

Zayn shook his head, “Nah. Liam will win, but Harry’ll beat Niall, then Louis.”

I scoffed. “We’ll see.” We both focused our attention on the underwater figures, waiting eagerly for the next person to give up. We both tensed as a ripple of water gave the first sign of someone coming up, before I let out a victorious whoop when Harry’s tousled head surfaced, sopping strands of hair clinging to his face. I turned to Zayn and pulled a cheeky face. “Ha!” I crowed, overly pleased with myself, “Told you so!”

Zayn just gave me a small mischievous smile and skimmed his hand across the water, sending a large sheet of water through the air towards me. Seeing it coming I ducked under, and resurfaced moments later to see Zayn clutching at his sides with laughter. I was confused. “What?” I asked, not wanting to be left out of the joke. As Zayn pointed, I turned to see Harry a few metres behind me,  a droll expression on his face. I bit my lip to hold my own laughter in. His hair stuck up in odd angles, having been pushed in every which way by the spray of water. Some of it clung to his face, while other part fanned back like a mane. “Flattering,” I commented, deadpan. I got a sarcastic smile for my efforts.. Not that I minded. It was, after all, Harry Styles and any smile from him was amazing. I let out another victorious whoop as Niall surfaced. I turned back to Zayn. “I would rub this in, but,” I paused, mock thoughtful, “Actually I will rub his in. I’m right, you’re wrong. Again. HA!”

“Right about what? Lou’s voice sounded from behind me. I let out yet another excited exclamation.

Quickly I turned to Louis and Liam. “Who came up first?” I asked hurriedly. Louis raised his hand. I yelled happily and launched myself at him, wrapping myself around him. He caught me and staggered back a few paces and laughed. “What did I do to deserve this?” he asked.

“You proved me right. I like being right.”

“Right against who, and about what?”

“Mr Pouty face over there and I had a little contest going about which order you guys would come up in, and I got it exactly right.”

Zayn chuckled. “I would hardly call it a contest.”

I dropped from Louis’s arms indignant. “It was a contest and I, me, moi, won. So,” I blew a raspberry at him. He blew one back. Seeing something lying on the side of the pool, I had an idea. “Who’s up for a game of football?”

 

I ran recklessly towards the ball, legs burning, desperate to reach it before anyone else. I pushed myself as hard as I could, reaching it a split second earlier than the others, immediately taking the ball and dribbling at a near sprint to my goals. A few metres before I reached them, I went to boot it into the goals, when suddenly I found myself staring at the sky, ball no longer in my possession and ever so slightly winded. I looked across to the other side of our mini playing field to see the ball flying through the other goals, Niall running around in circles near them, waving his arms victoriously. I chuckled and sat up, wiping shreds of grass and dirt off me and jogging over. Unlike the others Niall was too busy with his victory dance around the ball, juggling it and showing off to notice me coming, so I took the opportunity to return a favour. When the ball hit the ground aafter one of his tricks I made my move and zoomed in, hooking a foot behind one ankle, sending him flying to the ground as I took control of the ball and quickly dribbled it down to the other end and scored my own spectacular goal. I turned, hands on hips, back to where Niall was picking himself off the ground amidst a loose circle of laughing friends. I blew him a sarcastic kiss before going to fetch the ball.

 

“Harry pass the knife, would you?”

“What did you need done?”

I gestured to a small container of sundried tomatoes, “Those need cutting into strips.” I tensed at his proximity as he leaned in and reached around me for the tomatoes, heart quickening. He noticed my reaction and grinned.

“Having a bit of a reaction there? Don’t worry, I’m just that attractive,” he joked, poking me in the side as he straightened up again.

I gave a dry chuckle, willing my racing pulse to slow. “I’m not denying it. I may act normal around you guys but you guys don’t know how much I fangirled over you guys before I met you all. My mind is like programmed to ‘react’ to you.”

He immediately turned curious. “Really? Like how madly?”

I swallowed, unable to believe to what I was about to admit to. “Well,” I began, “Excluding these last few days, I listen to your entire album at least twice a day, basically from the moment I wake up in the morning my headphones go in, come out once school starts and in again when school finishes. I know all the words to all the songs, and unless it’s on shuffle I can walk out of a room singing along and come back in 5 minutes later still perfectly in time with the song. I know birthdays, favourite colours, all the inside jokes and all your little quirks. How tall you are, likes, dislikes et cetera. You name it, I probably know it.” I gestured down to my left wrist. “Charm bracelet. At home I have earrings. There is actually a small hidden shrine to you guys in my room. Everywhere I go I see something that reminds me of you guys. I see pigeons, I think Kevin. I see Gatorade or anything similar, I think energy juice. Mirrors remind me of Zayn. I see stripes, I think of Lou. Plaid and it’s Liam. Snap-backs and tank tops and Irish accents and I think of Niall. Blazers and T-Shirts with prints and Mick Jagger and it’s you. The list goes on. And on and on and on.” Looking up from the chicken I was searing in the pan, I gave the mop haired boy a rueful smile, “So yeah, I’m pretty obsessed.”

He raised an eyebrow, “Yeah. I noticed. Pretty cool though.” I smiled back at him, grateful I hadn’t freaked him out. Suddenly remembering something, I laughed. “What?” Harry quizzed.

“I just remembered what else. I get Google alerts for One Direction,” I choked out between slightly hysterical laughs.

Harry burst out laughing too, “I didn’t even know that was possible?”

Drawn by the commotion, the other four boys came from in front of the TV and plonked themselves on the barstools. I tried to contain my laughter but couldn’t, not even sure what I was laughing at. Getting odd looks from the newcomers, I burst into a fresh round of hysterics.

“Is this an inside joke, or are we allowed to know?” asked a bemused Louis.

I tried to choke out an answer. “It isn’t even that funny,” was all I managed before I had to get Harry to finish.

He gave me a baffled look while explaining, which sent me into such fierce hysterical laughter that I had to put the wooden spoon down, and sank to the floor with tears streaming down my face, clutching my sides and gasping for breath. I lost track of what Harry was saying as I tried to stay sitting upright, but even leaning against the wall I couldn’t manage, and ended up lying on my side convulsing with laughter. I noticed the sudden silence and managed to hold myself together for a second and looked up at the boys. Bad idea. My lips quavered and I held my breath in an attempt to hold in the laughter, but the scene was just too much for my hysterical brain to handle. My breath escaped from between pursed lips in a massive raspberry, my eyes scrunching shut as I started laughing manically again. They had all been looking at me with the exact same blank ‘what the fuck?’ expressions on their faces, the four behind the counter leaning forward over it to see me properly. I don’t know exactly how long I lay there laughing, but after several minutes I came down from my high enough to sit up and take deep gasping breaths to fill my oxygen starved lungs. I massaged my aching sides, the occasional giggle breaking through as I tried to relax enough to stand up. After another minute or so I managed to stand with the support of the bench, the occasional chuckle escaping. “What in God’s name was that about?”

“I have absolutely no idea,” another giggle escaped, “I do that sometimes.” On a sudden urge I walked out of the kitchen into the clear space between the kitchen and the lounge and flopped down onto the floor like a starfish, staring at the ceiling. I began to move my arms and legs back and forwards as if making a snow angel on the tiled floor. I joined the boys in their laughter, a new wave of hysterics soon washing over me as and I once again found myself curled up on my side laughing. Tears were soon streaming down my face once more, and even after the others’ laughter finally abated, it took me several more minutes to calm down. When I finally pulled myself off the floor, dinner was almost finished. I went to get plates from the cupboard, but was quickly pulled aside by Liam, who grabbed me by the shoulders, lifting me and putting me down on his vacated seat on the barstool. I gave him the best confused look I could, which was somewhat difficult with a permanent grin plastered on my face. “I’m not fully sure that you can get the plates from the cupboard to the bar without you both ending up in pieces on the floor,” Liam explained.

I giggled. “I’m not that delicate Liam,” I said chagrined.

“No, but the plates are.” I pulled a guilty face and began laughing once more, Louis’s quick reflexes the only thing that stopped me from falling off the stool.

He shook his head despairingly. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were drunk,” Lou said with humour in his voice.

Mock serious, I leaned towards him tapping the side my nose with a forefinger. “You never know!” I stage whispered, wide eyed. The small sane part of my brain took the opportunity to explain my recent behaviour, “Sorry about this all. I get like this ever so rarely and everything sets me off. It’ll stop in a while.”

“How long is a while?” Niall queried.

I looked around Louis at him. “If you’re lucky, an hour. If not, several.

“Well, this is going to be interesting.”

“Yup.”

 

Fortunately for all parties involved, my hysterics died down much quicker than expected. Every now and then a mad chuckle would escape but I didn’t have another full on hysterical breakdown. Harry served up all the plates with the pasta and sauce and we all dug in. I hummed happily with the first mouthful, satisfied with the result. It was my favourite meal, and this was the first time I had made it myself. We all munched away in silence until Liam spoke, “This is good, what is it?”
I swallowed my mouthful before answering. “Leek, sundried tomato and chicken pasta. There’s some other bits and pieces in there, but that’s the most of it,” I told him. He nodded appreciatively and kept eating.

 

Soon the empty plates were all stacked away in the dishwasher, the pots and pans cleaned and back in the cupboard and the kitchen wiped down. I looked around and was pleased. “Job well done, I’d say,” I proclaimed. Turning to Harry, I raised my hand for a high five, “Kitchen buddy, good work.” He grinned and gave me the high five. I turned to the others. We stood for a moment in semi awkward silence for a moment until Zayn spoke, “So, now what?” I looked around for a moment, wracking my brain for ideas. I was full of energy and wanted to do something, I was just not sure what. Suddenly I froze.

 

Light bulb moment.

 

I looked at the others, a grin spreading across my face. “Slumber party!”

 

Is it sad that I have actually done this? Although sadly not in the company of the lovely boys of 1D <3 and xxx’s

                -Serendipity

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