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?


16. Sleeptalk


“And I just let these little things slip out of my mouth”


He was still there when I woke up. I blinked blearily hearting lurching as reality hit me properly for the first time since I had found him again. I fitted snugly into his side, head pillowed on his arm. Sitting up quietly, I looked down at his sleeping figure. A tentative hand reached out and brushed overly lightly against Louis cheek before flinching back again when my brain registered what my hand was doing. I waited with baited breath as he snuffled in his sleep and rolled to face me but stayed asleep. I sighed quietly, tucking my hands determinedly into my lap. I watched him for a while, soaking up every minor detail of his face and refreshing the image in my mind that time and hurt had blurred. The faint crinkles of laughter in the corners of his eyes, the contours of his cheekbones and his nose, the slight pout of his lips. There was the barest sign of stubble along his jaw and a strand of chocolate hair rested on the corner of one eye. I spoke quietly to him as if he was awake. “So I suppose this is real then. Oh God Lou, I don’t know what I’m doing here,” I sighed, shaking my head at myself. “You don’t know how much this overwhelms me. It hurts so bad but it’s everything I ever needed. I'm so confused Lou. So, so confused.” I spoke quietly and fought back more tears from puffy eyes as I looked at his peacefully sleeping face. I sighed again, a light tremor running through me. “Maybe I’ll tell you one day, if I’m ever brave enough. Or if we even have a one day to look to. I’ll tell you how I loved you from the first minute we started talking, before we ever even saw each other face to face. There was something about you Lou, something that made me want to know you, something that fluttered my heart. Perhaps someday I’ll tell you how those fist weeks were the best of my life. How you and the boys became my life. The way you all made me feel, and especially you Lou. It was always you. Your smile, your laugh, everything about you. I was so happy and I felt so alive. I’ll tell you how even thinking of you gave me shivers and butterflies and goose bumps and the biggest, stupidest smile.” A small one crept onto my face before it grew sombre again. “I’ll tell you how loosing you quiet nearly killed me. How the pain never got any easier, the memories any less sharp. I’ll say how I didn’t move from my bed for three days, didn’t stop crying for four. Didn’t open my eyes for seven. Didn’t eat for ten. Didn’t talk for a month. I tried so hard to just to stop existing. It didn’t happen. Jayne wouldn’t let it. I’m not sure I’ve forgiven her for that yet. She wouldn’t give up on me, even when I gave up on myself. My parents didn’t understand at first, they thought I’d gone mad. I never told them about you before you left. And then I couldn’t. I mean, who would believe me. But then it was Jayne to the rescue again. She told them the whole story and at first they thought she was just covering for me, but then she had that picture on her phone. Remember the one? The two of us asleep. She showed them and they finally believed her. I was diagnosed with severe depression a while later. And then they really didn’t know what to do. They just tried to keep life going like before. It kind of worked, I suppose. But it never got any better. You know how hard it is to avoid any trace of the existence of the biggest band in the world?” I gave a dry, sarcastic laugh. “I had a breakdown in Physics once because the teacher was talking about vector and scalar quantities and said ‘one direction’. I didn’t come to science for the rest of that topic. A couple of times I had similar things happen. But the worst was one day when I was getting a lift in a friend’s car home. They were reaching for the aircon and they accidentally turned the radio on. It was playing Moments, your bit. I had a complete breakdown. I screamed and covered my eyes and somehow managed to undo my seatbelt and jump out of the moving car. I nearly broke several bones. Didn’t leave my room for another week after that again. I started walking everywhere I had to go, avoided everywhere I could possibly see any reference to you guys. I tried to pretend you didn’t exist. Not the easiest thing to do. Riding became my therapy, every spare second was filled with it. I got pretty damn good,” I stopped and watched Louis sleeping face, letting out another deep sigh. “I hope we can work this out, because I can’t go back there Lou. Not again. I won’t be able to pull myself out of that hole again. I love you too much. I never stopped. I want the future I dreamed of with you. I want you back and I want us to be back to the way things were.” I paused for a few minutes, deep in thought before I began again. “So yeah, maybe one day I will tell you these things, one day when things are better. One day I’ll finally work up the courage to say all this to you when you’re awake. But for now, this will have to do.” I sat for a while longer, holding tight rein on my emotion. Eventually I let myself lie back down beside Louis and snuggle back close, careful not to wake him. I hid my face back in his chest, tensing when a few moments later his arms wrapped around me and pulled me close.


I held as still as stone as he began to speak in a voice that cut to the core, “Maybe you won’t have to tell me. Maybe I’m the one who has to tell you. Tell you how sorry I am and how much I regret leaving you and how very stupid I am. That I never stopped kicking myself but I was too much of a coward to go back. That every day since then I hated myself a little more. I’ll tell you I love you and I’ll swear to you that I will make up for every second I hurt you. And I’ll beg you to forgive me, even though you shouldn’t and you won’t.” We stayed lying like that for a while, while I struggled to reassemble my thoughts.

“Louis I, I,” I sighed, fading off. “I’m better now. I was better from the moment I had you again. And I wish you’d stop hating yourself. What’s past is past and there isn’t anything anyone can do to change that past. So just let it go. There is nothing to forgive, just things to work through. It’ll take some time, but we’ll get through this together. If you’ll stay,” the last words tumbled off my lips unbidden, drawn from deep rooted insecurities. I cringed at my sub-conscious’ poor sense of timing and word choice. There was a heavy pause before Louis replied in a voice that held unfathomable layers of emotion, “I’m not going anywhere. Not again.”


I stood in front of another hotel door clutching Louis’ hand and standing slightly behind him, feeling eerily similar to a girl who so long ago stood behind a different hotel door with her new beau, the same feeling of terrified anticipation. Louis knocked and the door and seconds later there was a scuffle from the other side before it swung open. I was confronted by five wide eyed faces, a slightly dishevelled Jayne elbowing her way through the bunch and shoving Louis out the way to fling her arms around me in a tight hug. I winced slightly at my friend’s enthusiasm. When we finally drew apart, I looked around awkwardly at the other four boys, unsure of myself. Liam broke the discomfort of the moment, stepping forward and swamping me in a bear hug. I squeezed back and suddenly it was a mess. I was hugging and being hugged by everyone and I was crying and laughing and near hysterical with emotion. I trembled and shook and my breath came in rapid gasps and there was the biggest, most painful etched onto my face. Eventually, all seven of us ended up in a heaving and laughing, tight group hug with me in the middle. It took a while for me to calm and when I finally did everyone took a step back, giving me the room to let out a sigh that carried so much of the anxiety and tension of the last few months and let it flow free. I smiled around at those familiar loving faces. “Hey,” simple words but simple words were all I needed with these, my closest of friends.


We sat round the kitchen bar making semi awkward small talk when retinue kindly reminded me that I was forgetting something. “Hey, Jayjay d you have my smilies?” I blurted out in mid conversation.  She hopped off the bar stool where she sat next to Harry, going to her bag and flinging a small object at me. I caught the box in mid-air and pottered over to the sink. Opening the little box and pulling out a slide of tablets, I popped my daily dose into my hands, chugging them down with a mouthful of water from the tap. I grimaced at the unpleasant sensation of swallowing them, while nimble fingers grabbed the packet and inspected it. “What are these?” Niall questioned, curious but cautious. I chuckled, “My smilies.”

This earned me a few confused looks. “Um, what?” Harry slurred in his typical way.

I rolled my eyes and explained, “Smilies, as in happy pills. Anti-depressants. They have these retarded smiley faces on each tablet so they kinda got landed with that nickname.”

All the boys looked taken aback and the box of tablets landed with a quiet clunk on the bench as it dropped from Niall’s fingers. I gave a dry laugh and scooped it off the bench, replacing the half used slide into the box. “It’s okay guys,” I reassured them, “I’m not going to try and kill myself or anything.” I paused before jokingly adding, “Again.” Eyes widened rapidly and someone let out a choked noise like a dying animal. I fought to keep my face calm as I raised one eyebrow. “Too soon?” I supplied. There were several rapid nods. I cringed slightly, “Oops, sorry.”

I jumped violently when a loud laugh broke the uneasy silence, Harry doubling over where he sat and shaking his head before looking at me again, still laughing hard. “You, you got us good!” Harry gasped out. I stared at him with the others, just as stunned, before something inside made me join in the laughter, and soon everyone was reluctantly laughing along. When we had finally settled, I gave a deep sigh and was surprised to find tears in my eyes. I looked inside and allowed myself to feel the emotion inside. With that, the tears welled even more and began to roll down my face and my breath became erratic. Faces turned alarmed. I wiped them away and let out a choked laugh. “I’m happy,” I marvelled, “I’m actually happy.” I had almost forgotten what it felt like, the feeling of elation and joy. I laughed and suddenly couldn’t stop and the laughter came pouring out with the tears, making up for the last five months of torment. The euphoria filled me and I slipped out of the kitchen alcove into the clear space nearby and spun round and round, laughing and crying and chanting over and over, “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy.”  When the buzz finally dimmed enough I stopped and stared dizzily at my little family, world swimming before my eyes. No one said anything and I saw when the world cleared that tears glistened in the eyes of everyone in the room. Several rolled freely down one person’s cheeks. I ran and launched myself at them, wrapping myself around them so completely they stumbled back a few steps. I buried my face in their neck and smiled, squeezing them tight. I felt hesitant arms embrace me as they relaxed into the hold, head coming to rest on my shoulder. I smiled wider, eyes squeezed shut. I breathed out a single word, filled with an emotion for which there were no words. “Louis.”



That’s all for this one folks! It’s a bit short but it felt right. Thank you to everyone who left comments, favourite and followed me or this story. Hope you don’t hate me too much for those last chapters! Remember to do the same, it is ALWAYS highly appreciated and the buzz of knowing someone likes what you do never gets old! My camp in the bush was easily the best experience of my entire life, people cried because they wanted to go home, meanwhile on the last day while everyone’s celebrating I’m sitting and bawling my eyes out for a good 30 minutes before we left and on the way home, I so did NOT want to leave. I won’t bore you with all the details this time though :P! By the way, WHO FREAKING LOVES THE NEW ALBUM?! <3 and xxx’s





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