I'm in Love with a Stripper (a One Direction Fanfiction)

After the tragic loss of her parents, Leila Karim abandons her life in Bradford and sets her sights on London. Working as a stripper at Victory Strip Club under the stage name Bambi, ex-best friend and pop superstar Zayn Malik is the last person Leila expected to be sitting in the audience watching her undress. Will Leila find herself falling for Zayn all over again or will cheeky Harry Styles win her heart instead?


12. Open Your Eyes II

A/N: Hey guys! So I had to divide up this chapter because it was too long! For this section, it is absolutely essential that you listen to the song ‘Open Your Eyes’ by Snow Patrol when the lyrics appear! So have it ready to go on youtube so you can press play! Thanks for reading and love you all! xo


I’m in Love with a Stripper:


Open Your Eyes (Part II)


Fiona’s P.O.V:


I had been pounding on the door for two minutes, my knuckles beginning to grow sore. I was standing outside of Harry’s locked bedroom door, Louis having let me inside their townhouse less than five minutes ago. I glanced down at my iPhone to check the time; the digital numbers switching from 10:05 to 10:06 AM. I could feel my blood begin to boil, I absolutely loathed it when people were late for appointments. I suppose it had been conditioned into me after having modeled for so long. Meeting outrageously early call times and having to look well rested at the same time was not child’s play by any means. I banged on the door once more, completely fed up and ready to set our plan into action on my own. My ears pricked as a deep groan emerged from inside the room along with the movement of sheets. A moment later, the door swung open to a half-conscious Harry Styles clad in nothing but a pair of boxers.


I felt my mouth drop momentarily in shock before shutting it closed, composing myself. “Finally!” I exclaimed, narrowing my eyes in an attempt to prevent them from observing Harry’s visible nether regions.


“Jesus, Christ, Fiona! It’s the bloody crack of dawn!” Harry cried out, rubbing the sleep from his squinted eyes, his lush brown curls pointing in all directions.


Crack of dawn?” I said, breezing past him and into his messy room. Harry’s room was almost as large as my entire flat, painted a midnight blue and styled very contemporarily, modern pieces of furniture scattered throughout it. Aside for the massive piles of dirty clothes that littered the carpeted floor, there wasn’t much that screamed Harry Styles aside for a framed Elvis Presley poster that hung on the wall above his bed. “It’s past ten already! And either way, we agreed to meet at this time!” I continued, plopping my purse down on the floor, heading for Harry’s black dresser, pulling open the top drawer.


“I thought you meant approximately ten o’clock!” Harry exclaimed, slamming the door shut behind him, scratching his head, a prominent scowl on his face.


I tossed the plain white t-shirt that I had pulled out of his drawer in his direction. Harry watched as it hit his bare chest, falling onto the floor and onto a pile of dirty clothes. One of his eyebrows corked upwards. “Get dressed.” I implored. “We have work to do.”


“Are you being serious right now?” Harry said incredulously, his green eyes finally looking vibrant and awake.


“Completely.” I said, tossing him a pair of blue jeans which he caught this time. “Unless you’d rather not find out what Leila is up to? If that’s the case…” I shrugged, beginning to make my way over to my purse.


Harry watched me momentarily before exclaiming. “Wait!” And grabbing my wrist gently, stopping me from leaving, his green eyes unreadable. “I’ll get dressed.” He said after pausing for a moment. “We can even grab breakfast on the way if you’d like.” He added as an afterthought.


“That sounds nice.” I said with a smile, my stomach churning at the mention of food. I needed the washroom, and fast. “I’m going to use your loo quickly.” I said, brushing my hair behind my ears, reaching for my purse and heading for the door.


“Right.” Harry said, his gaze falling to the floor awkwardly, “I’ll be ready in ten minutes.” 


“Take your time Hazza, we need you looking sharp.” I said with a grin, heading out into the hallway, hearing Harry mutter “Whatever that means.” under his breath as I closed the door behind me, leaving me for a moment before I began to feel the vomit rising in my throat.


Entering the washroom quickly, I shut the door quietly behind me, rushing for the toilet and flinging my purse onto the floor. Falling onto my knees, I began to gag violently, aiding the process by thrusting one of my fingers far down my throat. The bile exited my stomach and through my mouth, splashing into the toilet. I wiped the tears that had formed in my eyes from the exertion, finding that I had also broken into a sweat. I rubbed the back of my hand against my mouth, slowly getting to my feet. Plucking my purse off the floor, I placed it on the white marble counter, shuffling through it until I found the small travel-sized bottle of Listerine that I carried around with me everywhere I went. Popping off the cap, I took some of the blue liquid into my mouth, swishing it around for a good thirty seconds before spitting it into the sink.


Someone began to knock at the door quietly. “Fiona? Are you alright?” Harry asked through the door, causing my heart to thud erratically in my chest. He had heard me? I thought frantically, my face flushing.


Dashing over to the toilet, I pushed down the handle, flushing it. “I’m fine!” I screeched over the sound of the flush. “I get a little nauseous when I’m on my period!” I screamed, unable to think up a better excuse. “Fuck!” I quietly said to myself, scrunching up my face in horror.


Harry was silent for a long time. “Oh…erm…okay. I’ll be downstairs!” He finally answered in the most awkward way he could manage. I stood still, waiting to hear him depart. After a moment, I finally heard him stalking off down the hallway.


I let out a sigh of relief. “Stupid eavesdropping bastard.” I muttered under my breath, tossing my mouthwash back into my purse viciously, licking my finger and rubbing off the mascara that had smudged under my eye. “The things we do for beauty.” I said with a sigh, observing myself once more in the mirror before exiting the bathroom, wondering if Harry had truly heard me or not.




Harry and I were standing to the left of the Victory Strip Club, Leila’s place of work. I scoffed to myself, place of work, as if you could even call it that. I knew that I for one, would never stoop so low as to taking my clothes off for money. What about that one print ad you did topless, how is that any better? My subconscious added snidely. I shook my head to myself. Modeling was completely different. Models were well respected, classy, strippers on the other hand, not so much. I was proud to call myself a model, to be part of such a well known and respected industry. At least I thought I was.


“So basically,” Harry began, going over the plan once again, his green eyes obscured by his dark sunglasses. “We go in there, you distract the receptionist, and I search for the employee files.” Harry said conclusively.


“Precisely,” I said, adjusting my own sunglasses on my face. “And be quick about it!” I said in earnest. I’d only be able to distract the girl for so long, and I was heavily banking on the fact that the club was indeed looking to hire new dancers.


“After you, then!” Harry said, a smirk forming on his pink lips as he elaborately waved his hand in the direction of Victory.


“Right.” I nodded, not entirely enthused that I would be doing all the distracting on my own. Trudging over to the front door of the establishment, I swung it open, entering the dimly lit interior of Victory. Scanning the place, I was surprisingly impressed with how classy it seemed to appear; heavy red curtains, black textured walls, and a clear glass desk round the corner which a prim brunette girl sat behind. Turning around, I saw that Harry had already made himself scarce, strategically hiding behind a set of the red curtains.


Clearing my throat, I brushed off my skirt once and then approached the front desk. As I drew closer, I saw that the brunette girl was furiously texting on her cell phone. I was then standing right in front of her, watching as she continued to text, her head not raising once. Ill-mannered wench. I could see a small name tag pinned onto the black corset she was wearing. Squinting my eyes, I saw that it read ‘Honey’.


The girl finally looked up at me, placing her mobile down on the glass. “Can I help you?” She said, not even bothering to be polite. Is this how they ran things around here? I could be a potential client for all she knew!


“Hi there.” I said with a smile. “I was wondering if your establishment is currently hiring?” I said in the sweetest voice I could manage.


The girl sucked her teeth. “We are.” She paused, scanning me from top to bottom, an indifferent expression on her face. “Sorry to say, but I don’t entirely think that you’re Victory material.” She said, giving me a sympathetic smile.


I was speechless, my mouth hanging agape. Not Victory material? Never in my entire life had I been told that I was not good enough for anything, and I certainly wasn’t about to allow this stripper named Honey to be the first to tell me so! “What makes you say that?” I asked, clenching my teeth into a deranged smile.


“Well,” Honey began. “You have absolutely no hips, you’re a bit on the smaller side in terms of breasts, and to top it off, you’re ridiculously tall, and your neck is too long!” She said, her eyes still flowing over me. “You’ll look like a retarded giraffe up there!”


Retarded giraffe? My face flushed angrily, even more so when I heard a snort of laughter emerge from behind the curtains. I looked the brunette up and down in disgust, wondering what made her think she was all high and mighty; the glue line on her false eyelashes was visible for God’s sake!


“Well, thank-you for your time.” I spat viciously, turning on my heel and rounding the corner to where Harry was hiding. Reaching my arms past the curtain, I pulled him out aggressively. He was still laughing.


“Shut up!” I whispered sharply, smacking him across the arm. “Why don’t you go try if you think it’s so easy!” I exclaimed meanly.


“Fine.” Harry said, grinning widely, shoving me into the curtains. Stumbling, I steadied myself against the wall.


Suddenly, Harry stuck his head through the drapes. “Oh, and Fiona?” He said.


“What?” I growled. I had already had enough of Harry Styles.


Harry was grinning mischievously. “Never send a girl to do a man’s job.” He said with a grin, pulling his head from the curtains.


Whatever.” I called after him, peeling my ears to listen for Harry’s conversation with Honey.


I held my breath, listening when suddenly the most blood-curdling shriek I’d ever head in my entire life reached my ears, causing me to fall back into the wall behind me.


“OH MY GOD, YOU’RE HARRY STYLES!” Honey screamed.


Harry let out a laugh, playing it cool. “Hi…erm…I was just wondering if I could pick up a few of Leila’s things. I’d really, really appreciate it. I can give you an autograph or something for your trouble?” Harry said kindly.


“Of course!” Honey exclaimed. “Just follow me; I’ll take you right to her dressing room!” I let out a frustrated groan at this, angry that Harry had succeeded and that all I had managed was to be compared to a mentally challenged zoo animal.


“Thanks so much!” Harry said, his voice drenched in mock enthusiasm.


This was my cue. Slowly I began to creep out from behind the curtains, peaking around the corner to see the retreating backs of Harry and Honey. Harry shot me a backwards glance, a smirk on his lips.


“I’m sure you hear this all the time, but I am a huge fan of One Direction and oh my God, you and Leila together are just precious, we’re such good friends we hang out all the time…” Honey said as they entered Leila’s dressing room.


Dashing over to the front desk, I began to pull open the drawers, shuffling through the papers, my heart racing in my chest. I picked up a leather bound book and began to flip through it haphazardly, looking up every few seconds to make sure that Harry and Honey had not returned. Various names and contact numbers littered the pages of the book. Replacing it in the drawer, I pulled open the one below it. Bingo. Filling the drawer were at least thirty employee files. I flipped through them quickly; Kitty, Cherry, Rose, Peaches, Honey, Fleur, Bambi! Plucking the folder out of the drawer, I tucked it into my coat, closing the drawer shut.


“Of course I’ll sign your cleavage!” I heard Harry exclaim loudly, probably trying to warn me that him and Honey were approaching.  


Looking around madly, I saw the side exit door, deciding to slip out the back. Pushing open the heavy door, I was standing at the back of Victory, various garbage cans lining the walls. Whipping out my mobile, I quickly texted Harry, telling him where I was and that I had gotten Leila’s employee information. Within two minutes, Harry rounded the corner, entering the deserted alleyway, his sunglasses propped up on his nose again and a beanie pulled over his head.


“Let’s have a look.” Harry said, finally standing next to me.


Reaching into the side pocket of my cream coloured pea coat, I pulled out the yellow file, opening it to find that there was nothing in it except for a piece of paper stating Leila’s full name and London address. I blinked at the file stupidly, bewildered at the fact that I had managed to find absolutely nothing about Leila Karim. Harry sighed as he gazed upon the information, or lack thereof more like it.


“There isn’t even an emergency contact number.” I exclaimed confusedly, looking up at Harry. “Now what?”


Harry was silent for a moment, squinting his eyes in thought. Finally he looked up at me. “I guess we go to the source.” He said.


“The source?” I narrowed my eyes in thought before realizing exactly what he meant.


Harry’s P.O.V:


Fiona and I were standing in the alleyway beside Leila’s apartment building, observing the rusty metal fire escape curiously. I craned my neck upwards, trying to figure out which window was Leila’s. If it wasn’t the first, it was the second for sure. It felt wrong, wrong that I had to break into Leila’s apartment to find out what was going on with her, but had she really given me any other choice? I had thought about it long and hard, and it had become clear to me that Leila wasn’t being forthcoming with me. What did I really know about her besides her name and a few other small details? How had it not struck me as strange before? That I hadn’t heard a thing about Leila’s family, about her life before she moved to London? I glanced at Fiona who was also examining the fire escape, a look of sheer horror on her face.


“What if we fall?” Fiona exclaimed, her blue eyes wide in fear.


I won’t.” I told her. “But you might if you keep those on.” I said, gesturing to Fiona’s high heels.


Fiona’s eyes narrowed hatefully. “You expect me to leave my Manolos unattended here? This alleyway is probably teeming with rats!” She exclaimed dramatically, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder.


“I’m going up.” I said definitively, squinting my eyes at the second window, almost certain that I could see the corner of Leila’s bookshelf. “With or without you.” I glanced back at Fiona who had already tossed her purse onto the damp concrete and was unstrapping herself from her towering shoes.


With a look of sheer disgust, Fiona placed her bare feet onto the cool cement, looking up at me hatefully. “This is exactly how I wanted to spend my Tuesday afternoon.” She said, her voice drenched in sarcasm and a bitter smile on her pink lips.


“This was all your idea, remember?” I said flippantly, making my way over to the fire escape. Jumping up into the air, I managed to grab hold of the damp metal ladder, pulling it down. Giving it a pull, I made sure that it was secure. I looked over at Fiona, hoping that the ladder’s structural integrity would give her some peace of mind.


Her lips were pursed, but she seemed more relaxed. “You’re going first. I refuse to be up skirted by the likes of you!” She snapped.


I ignored her comment, placing my grey Chuck Taylor on the ladder. “Here goes nothing.” I said with a smirk, climbing onto the first rung and then the next. Glancing down after a moment, I saw that Fiona was slowly, but surely following me. I reached the first window and was finally able to climb onto the metal platform with stairs leading up to the rest of them. Glancing into the apartment, I saw that it wasn’t Leila’s as I had suspected. “It’s the next one.” I told Fiona, reaching out my hand to her to help her onto the platform as well.


Giving me a strange look, she finally took my hand. “Thanks.” She said, her expression unreadable.


We began to climb the stairs carefully, finally reaching Leila’s window. Peaking in, I saw that it was indeed Leila’s bookshelf that I had seen from below. Placing my hands on either side of the window, I slowly began to push it up. It was unlocked. I turned to Fiona, a huge grin on my face as I pushed it up all the way. “Ladies first.” I told her graciously.


Fiona shot me an impressed smirk before cautiously climbing through the window, landing on the hardwood floor with a soft thud. Following her in, I planted my feet on the ground, ducking my head so as not to hit the top of the window.


“Well played, Hazza.” Fiona said, her blue eyes scanning the apartment. “There might be hope for you yet.” She gave me a sly grin.


“Shall we split up and see what we find then?” I said, the smell of Leila’s vanilla perfume floating up my nostrils. “Before I change my mind?” I pushed the guilt that was beginning to creep up on me to the back of my mind. I was still Leila’s boyfriend technically, and I deserved to know what was going on with her.


“Why don’t you take the bedroom?” Fiona offered, her arched eyebrows rising. “I’ll take out here.” She said, glancing around the living room.


Without another word, I made my way towards Leila’s bedroom, my heart thumping erratically in my chest. I imagined how I would feel if I ever got wind that Leila had broken into my townhouse to poke her nose around; but then again, Leila already knew everything there was to know about me, which wasn’t the same case at all when it came to her. Approaching Leila’s bedroom door, I hesitantly reached out my hand, grasping the doorknob and turning it slowly. Her room looked the exact same as the last time I had seen it, unnaturally tidy and very pink. Once again, I was ambushed by Leila’s familiar vanilla infused scent, reminding me that I was here because I cared about her, because I cared about us as a couple.


I started with her dresser. Pulling open the top drawer I saw that it was overflowing with lacy underwear. I felt my face flush in embarrassment. I felt my thoughts travel back to the night of Simon’s party, how excited I had been to show Leila just how strongly I was beginning to feel for her. What had I done wrong? Shutting the drawer, I quickly sifted through the others, only finding more clothing as well as some of Leila’s lingerie for Victory. I headed over to her closet next, sifting through Leila’s clothes, beginning to think I would not be finding anything at all. Finally, I made my way over to Leila’s book case. Crouching down beside it, I began to flip through her various books. Apparently Leila was a big fan of classic literature, not that she would have told me that. Suddenly, my eye caught something poking out from underneath Leila’s bed; something blue. Peeking underneath her bed, I saw that it was a small shoebox. Plucking it from beneath her bed, I got to my feet and perched on the side of her bed. Carefully I lifted off the top of the box.


Placed on the very top of the pile of various papers and other trinkets was a picture of a girl and boy dressed in costume. I brought the picture closer to my face, my ears beginning to ring. I was staring at the picture, and no matter how many times I blinked, starring back at me were Leila and…Leila and Zayn? I could feel my hands shaking, the adrenaline coursing through my blood. Dropping the picture, I picked up the small blue box, spilling its contents onto the bed. My breathing grew shallow, my palms sweaty. I began to scour through the pile; a matchmaker test from Tong High School with Zayn Malik placing at 98%, a picture of a younger Leila and Zayn sitting on a porch together, their arms around each other, toothy grins on their faces. My stomach had plummeted through the floor and I felt myself begin to tremble, my eyes watering angrily. They knew each other; they had known each other the whole time.


I could hear my heart beating erratically in my ears, my mind wildly scouring over all the times that we had all been together; the first day I had met Leila at Victory, the lot of us having dinner at Nando’s, clubbing at Cathedral. And I thought Zayn had defended Leila because he was my best friend. I scoffed bitterly, realizing that the two of them had proceeded to leave together that night. How could I have been so blind? I dropped my face into my hands, remembering the strange conversation that Leila and Zayn had had at Nando’s. They had been talking about each other, I thought in realization. Of course they had been. I nodded my head bitterly, now knowing exactly why Leila had not wanted to sleep with me, because of Zayn, because of my girl-friend stealing so-called best friend, so-called brother, Zayn.


I looked up when I heard Fiona softly padding into the room, rubbing my eyes, my jaw clenched tightly. “Harry.” She breathed, her blue eyes wide. “You know?” Fiona was carrying what looked like a yearbook.


I nodded slowly in reply; my eyes squinted at the ground, still in disbelief. Fiona cautiously walked over to Leila’s bed, sitting next to me. “You should see this.” She said quietly. Opening the green coloured yearbook, Fiona began to flip through the pages, finally placing the dusty book on my lap. Starring back at me once again were Leila and Zayn, photographed separately under the caption “Should Have Been Couple’.


“FUCKERS!” I exclaimed viciously, tossing the yearbook half-way across the room, my eyes stinging with angry tears once again.


“Harry.” Fiona grabbed my arm. “Don’t get mad!” She said earnestly, her blue eyes boring into mine, the hurt in them visible.


“Then what? What am I supposed to do?” I spat. “Tell me!” I was yelling now, something I didn’t do very often unless the situation was beyond repair, unless I had been severely wronged.


Get even.” Fiona said, a small smile appearing on her face, the mischief returning to her sparkling blue eyes.


Leila’s P.O.V:


I was absent-mindedly playing with my locket, humming to myself as I popped the Sheppard’s Pie into the oven. Brushing off my hands, I set the egg timer for forty-five minutes and began to work on the salad, my mind drifting over the events of the previous night, the howl of the wind and rain pitter-patting against the window loudly in the background. Zayn and I had drunkenly ventured off to Lower Fields Primary, taking part in a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ which ended up revealing a number of things. A small smile appeared on my lips as I reveled in the fact that Zayn had in fact not slept with Fiona. It still struck me as odd however, considering that on any other day; Zayn would have been pursuing Fiona to no end. My cheeks flushed slightly as I also remembered admitting to Zayn that not only had I not slept with Harry…I hadn’t slept with anyone at all. It really had embarrassed me, sharing this fact with him. I hoped that Zayn didn’t suspect that my hesitance to go all the way with Harry had anything to do with him…even though it had everything to do with him.


Ripping pieces off the head of lettuce and tossing them into a clear glass bowl, I also recalled Bridget showing up at my front door, photographing Zayn and me, which thankfully had all worked out in the end after I had confided in her about Clive’s assault on me at Victory. Surprisingly, my heart thumped more at the memory of Zayn reaching up to touch my face than it did at the idea of being found out by Peaches; while it also thumped solidly at the thought of Zayn’s strange behaviour throughout the night, most noticeably, his compliments.


“Red’s a good colour on you…you should wear it more often.” He had said. I looked down at my outfit sheepishly. I was clad in a red plaid skirt, black stockings, and a cream coloured jumper, trying my best to look somewhat festive since Christmas was just around the bend. Continuing to rip apart lettuce, regardless of how hard I attempted for it not to, my mind of course also began to review what had occurred just shortly after I awoke screaming from my nightmare. Zayn had exploded into my room in nothing but his black sweat pants, leaving me sure that I was still dreaming. The moonlight cascaded over his contoured chest, his dark eyes darting around my room in horror until he saw me curled up on my bed. Weak, I called him over to me, needing to see that he was really there, needing to feel him in my arms, needing to know that he wasn’t gone as he had been in my dream. He offered to stay even though I was sure he would rather have not, and selfishly, I took the opportunity to hold him close to me throughout the night. I closed my eyes, still able to feel Zayn’s warm skin against my lips, still able to smell his woodsy, Bradford scent.


I awoke the next morning to Zayn’s absence, momentarily leaving me in a panic until I saw a note that was placed neatly on the pillow he had slept on. The note had been scribbled in Zayn’s neat penmanship, reading:




I hope you are feeling better after last night. Sorry to have to run off like this, but I’ve got a few errands to run. I promise I’ll be back later tonight and maybe if we read fast enough, we can finally finish off Wuthering Heights?


Zayn, xx 


I had run my fingers over the indentations of his writing, taking it as proof enough that the past few days had all been real, that Zayn was real. A loud knock on the door startled me out of my thoughts. Hastily drying my hands on a dish towel, I made my way over to the door.


“Who is it?” I called through the door, expecting an irritated response from Zayn, but nothing came. “Zayn?” I called out hesitantly. Still nothing. Cautiously, I opened the door a crack, listening, only to hear the irritated grunts of Zayn dragging something up the steps of my porch. Thrusting the door open, I saw that Zayn was indeed pulling a Christmas tree up the steps.


“Zayn!” I exclaimed in shock, not bothering to hide the wide smile forming on my face. “What have you done!”


“Christ this is heavy…” Zayn muttered as he dragged the tree past me and into den, the overpowering scent of pine instantly filling up the room. Zayn carefully crouched down, allowing the lower end of the tree to fall onto the ground with a soft thud, a wide crooked grin appearing on his face, his warm brown eyes smiling. Zayn was clad in a pair of dark dress pants and a red jumper, my mind fleetingly realizing that we matched.


“You can’t have Christmas without a tree.” Zayn shrugged, a smile still on his lips as he motioned to the large evergreen lying in the middle of my den. He began to run his fingers through his thick black hair.


“Oh, Zayn…” I sighed. Unable to stop myself, I threw my arms around him, pulling him close to me and leaning my head onto his chest. “Thank-you.” I whispered, instantly beginning to regret voluntarily allowing myself to be so near to Zayn, so proximate to his beating heart.


I felt Zayn’s arms carefully wrap around my waist. “…You’re welcome.” He whispered in reply, a ghost of a smile on his lips.


My face flushing, I quickly slipped out of his arms, hating myself for leaving them. “Are you hungry?” I asked anxiously, my voice raising an octave. “I have something in the oven...” I said trailing off, twiddling with the ends of my hair nervously. It felt unusually smooth, having run a flatiron over it for the first time in a week.


Zayn crossed his arms, a smirk appearing on his lips. “You cooked?” He said emphatically, clearly surprised. “Is that why you’re all dressed up?” He added, his eyes flowing over me. It looked like he was stifling a laugh. Zayn raised his eyebrows expectantly, waiting for my response, a crooked smile on his lips.


“I…I was just sick of being in a robe all day, that’s all…” I trailed off awkwardly, averting my eyes from Zayn’s; the green flecks scattered throughout them were especially visible today.


“…Would you like to trim the tree while dinner’s making?” Zayn interjected quietly.


I found myself looking at him again, still astounded at his presence regardless of how many times I looked at him, how many times he spoke, how many times I touched him. Zayn was staring at me, his expression unreadable. “I’d like that.” I replied, a small smile appearing on my lips.


Ten minutes later, I was carrying a box of Christmas decorations and lights from the attic, carefully making my way down the stairs and into the living room where Zayn was placing the Christmas tree into its stand. I watched in awe as Zayn worked, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, revealing his lean, tattooed forearms, causing me almost to send the box of ornaments shattering onto the hard wood floor. Zayn stepped backwards, examining the upstanding tree with interest.


“Do you think it’s a little big?” Zayn asked, perplexedly tilting his head to the side.


I fought a laugh. “It’s huge.” I told him. And the tree really was a little large for my tiny living room, clearing beneath the ceiling, but leaving just enough room for the star on top.


“The bigger the better.” Zayn said with a quick wink and a seductive smile, walking over to me and taking the heavy box from my hands, my mouth hanging agape. If he did that to me again, I was sure that I’d start menstruating early.


Zayn placed the box gently on the ground, carefully plucking out the long string of white lights and untangling them. He looked up at me momentarily, giving me one of his beautifully crooked smiles. Shutting my still open mouth, I went over to help him, fleetingly glancing at him, his tongue stuck out in concentration as he worked his way through the lights.


I began to sift through the ornaments while Zayn strung the lights along the tree’s branches, a playful smile appearing on my face when I came across a particular ornament. “Remember this?” I asked Zayn with a grin, dangling the Pikachu ornament he had gotten me for Christmas when we were seven.


“Shit!” Zayn exclaimed with a grin, seeing the ornament. “I can’t believe you still have this!”


“Of course I do!” I retorted teasingly, my smile wavering. I had not thrown one memory of Zayn away over the years, not even one. “Do you still have the one I gave you?” I asked hesitantly. Surely it had been thrown out or broken even.


“I’ve hung nine-tails up on the tree every year since I was seven.” His brown eyes smiling. A satisfied smile appeared on my face as I continued to look through the ornaments. I remember having selected nine-tails for Zayn because even then he was so beautiful, flawless really, just like nine-tails.


Zayn joined me in hanging the colourful ornaments along the tree, dispersing them throughout the tree evenly until about twenty minutes we were done, the white lights softly shining onto the cream coloured walls, the ornaments sparkling in the dimly lit room. Plucking a chair from the dining table, he brought it over to were I stood beside the tree. Sticking his arm into the box, he pulled out the final touch, the star.


“Would you like to do the honours?” Zayn smiled at me teasingly, reaching his hand out to help me up onto the chair.


I gazed upon him for a moment before quietly saying, “It would be my pleasure.” Accepting his hand, I stepped up onto the chair. Zayn looking up at me with his smoldering gaze, gently handed me the star, placing his warm hands on my legs to steady me, his fingers burning through my thin nylons. Climbing onto the tips of my toes, I carefully placed the silver star on the very top of the tree, fondly remembering sitting on my Father’s shoulders when I was younger, doing the very same thing. Taking Zayn’s hand once more, he helped me step onto the floor, our eyes still locked and my hand still in his, that is, until the egg-timer began to buzz loudly, telling us that dinner was ready.




Zayn and I took turns reading to each other as we ate, the Shepard’s Pie turning out surprisingly well considering my limited skill in the kitchen. I had kicked my feet up on Zayn’s lap, reading to him one of my most favourite excerpts from Wuthering Heights, an excerpt which reminded me all too much of him.


“I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” I paused to breathe, stealing a glance at Zayn, his face bathed in the delicate luminance of the Christmas lights.


I continued. “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff.”


These words reverberated in my chest as they never had before, these words I had read tens of thousands of times, this story that I knew better than any was finally telling me something about myself I began to panic, my breaths growing shallow. Just like Catherine was Heathcliff, I was Zayn. As I gazed upon his perfect profile, dark lashes, full lips, black upstanding hair, I realized that I was not just in love with this boy, but I was him and he was me, that my love for him too resembled the eternal rocks beneath, even the ancient trees, so deeply rooted into the ground that they could not be moved, the Yorkshire moors where we had sat together, rolling swells in the land that went as far as the eye could see.


“Leila?” Zayn whispered, capturing my attention and drawing me from my thoughts.


“Yes?” I answered quietly, my breath hitching when all of the lights in the room were suddenly extinguished.




I was upstairs in my bedroom, carefully placing lit candles along my bedside tables. December was always stormy in Bradford when most other cities and towns were celebrating snow covered streets. A few minutes ago the lights had failed throughout the neighborhood due to the strong winds and heavy rain, leaving the house in complete darkness. I set a few tea lights on my dresser as well, observing myself in the dim candlelight curiously, wondering what would become of me when suddenly my ears pricked at the familiar piano notes of ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay.


Come up to meet you.


Floating out of my room, I made my way down the hallway, poking my head around the corner to see Zayn seated at the uncovered piano, the piano I hadn’t played in two years, lined with a row of tea lights. I smiled in spite of myself, watching as Zayn plucked at the keys, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. A few months ago, I would have been angry, would have refused to see the notes of my piano played after sitting untouched for so long, but today I was not angry, I felt contentment, I felt peace. Creeping down the stairs quietly, Zayn’s dark head shot up at my arrival, the candlelight flickering in his eyes.


“You remember?” I asked him quietly.


“How could I forget?” Zayn said with a small smile, his eyes intensely boring into mine.


Zayn and I had played ‘The Scientist’ together at our high school talent show a few years ago, Zayn singing while I played the accompanying piano. Gazing at him curiously, I then walked over to him, sliding next to him on the slick black stool. Zayn was watching me as I grazed my fingers over the yellowing ivory keys.


“Will you sing while I play?” I asked him, looking up to meet my eyes with his.


Zayn nodded, licking his pink lips ever so slightly. “Of course.”


My hands easily drifted to the familiar chords of the familiar song, my eyes closing as I pushed down on the keys. My lips formed a smile as the music echoed throughout the house, filling every corner, every passage. I opened my eyes again, looking at Zayn whose gaze was averted from mine. He began to sing then, his angelic voice sounding as beautiful, if not more, than the sounds of the piano keys.


Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry

You don't know how lovely you are

I had to find you, tell you I need you

Tell you I set you apart


Zayn’s eyes were on mine fleetingly, changing their direction once more, this time focusing on his hands as he sang quietly. I found myself entranced as I watched him sing; just as I had been the first time I had ever heard him, the day where he revealed to me his love for music.


Tell me your secrets, and ask me your questions

Oh let's go back to the start

Running in circles, coming up tails

Heads on a science apart


Zayn’s eyes closed for a moment, his dark lashes fluttering as his eyes shut. I found myself thinking of the first time I had seen Zayn following our three years apart; his dark eyes watching me in horror as I undressed on stage. I had hated him then, hated him for leaving me, for forgetting about me so quickly, but here I was, sitting next to him on the piano just as we did when we were younger, causing me to realize that you never can truly hate someone that you love.


Nobody said it was easy

It's such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh, take me back to the start.


I was just guessing at numbers and figures

Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science, science and progress

Do not speak as loud as my heart


I could see Zayn glance at me from the corner of my eye.


Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me.


And then Zayn was no longer singing along with the song. Had he forgotten the words?


“Why did you stop?” I asked quietly, continuing to play. When Zayn didn’t answer me, I looked up at him, seeing that his eyes were still on me. I allowed my hands to fall into my lap.


Why did you stop?” I asked softly, repeating myself, my eyebrows furrowed in confusion.


Zayn said nothing for what felt like hours, He just sat there and stared at me with his unwavering gaze until he finally whispered, “I love you.”


My ears begun to ring and I wondered fleetingly if I had finally gone completely mad, if I had finally begun to hear the voices in my head that I always feared would eventually come. I was staring at Zayn, my heart pounding in my chest, my breaths quick and short.


“What did you say?” I breathed, my eyes wide. He hadn’t said it, I knew this already. He hadn’t. It was impossible.


Zayn’s gaze fell before returning to mine. “I said I love you, Leila.” He said firmly, loudly this time.


The world began to tilt sideways, my hands flying to the sides of my head. There was no world in which Zayn Malik had ever loved me back, ever could love me back. This was against the laws of nature, against everything I had known, against my every belief since I was sixteen years old. Zayn Malik could not love me. Zayn Malik would never love me.


“You can’t” I choked out.


A wounded expression appeared on his face, a storm brewing in his deep brown eyes. “I do.” He said in anguish.


I was up on my feet, stumbling off of the piano stool. “YOU’RE LYING!” I screamed. “LIAR!” I shrieked, scrambling for the front door. Thrusting it open, I was running down the porch steps into the rain, running into the torrential downpour, the wind howling past me. Running, running, running.


“LEILA!” I could hear Zayn scream from behind me, bolting down the porch steps and into the frigid rain as well. “LEILA, STOP!”


All this feels strange and untrue

And I won't waste a minute without you

My bones ache, my skin feels cold

And I'm getting so tired and so old


He was lying, always lying! Fucking with my head just because he knew he could. I kept running, the bitter wind and frigid rain hitting my face as I pumped my arms. Suddenly, I felt Zayn’s grip on my wrist, pulling me into his strong chest. “Please, Leila, let me explain-.” He pleaded, his black hair plastered onto his forehead, raindrops dripping off his dark lashes.


“NO!” I screamed, pushing him away from me. I was staring at Zayn, illuminated in the light of the moon, the both of us breathing heavily. “This is all wrong!” I screamed. “I said goodbye to you!” I sobbed, my tears mixing into the rain. “I mourned your death right alongside my parents’!”


The anger swells in my guts

And I won't feel these slices and cuts

I want so much to open your eyes

'Cause I need you to look into mine


Zayn Malik had been dead to me, a distant, fleeting memory, a ghost. And yet he had come back into my life, alive and vibrant, come back to finish me off, not caring that he would ruin me all over again, that he would break me into a thousand more pieces.


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


Zayn’s face contorted. “I don’t ever expect you to forgive me for what I’ve done to you but that won’t stop me from being here for you like I should have been!” Zayn screamed back, a tormented expression on his face as the rain hammered down on the ground around him.


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


“Why did you have to come back and ruin everything? We were done years ago! It’s over!” I screamed viciously, clutching my chest, feeling as if I was about to crumble, to disintegrate.


Get up, get out, get away from these liars

'Cause they don't get your soul or your fire

Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine

And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time


“No, Leila it’s just started.” Zayn was inches away from me then, his dark eyes still on mine. “Can’t you see that I’m in love with you!?” He screamed vehemently above the rain and wind.


Every minute from this minute now

We can do what we like anywhere

I want so much to open your eyes

'Cause I need you to look into mine


I began to sway, feeling myself falling, falling, falling, spiraling out of control.


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


Zayn continued. “If you want to be with Harry, if you love him, it’s fine, but I’m hoping that you choose me.” Zayn’s black hair glistened in the rain, his voice trembling with passion as he pointed at himself. “Choose me, Leila.”


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


I was shaking violently, the rain having soaked through to my bones. “What changed?” I shrieked above the wind. “What changed from three years ago?” I threw my hands into the air, certain that this was a trick, certain that it was a mistake. In what world could Zayn Malik ever love me back?


Zayn was breathing heavily. “I see you that way now.” He revealed, his eyes squinted against the unforgiving rain, drawing my mind back to the night we had been drinking at Lower Fields Primary when we were sixteen; the night I had told Zayn I loved him and the night he had told me that I was his best friend, that he just did not see me in that way.


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


My lower lip began to tremble and I shook my head furiously, refusing to believe it, unable to believe it. “You’ll leave me again!” I howled manically, my face contorting with sobs. “And this time I’ll fucking die!”


Tell me that you'll open your eyes

Tell me that you'll open your eyes


“Open your eyes, Leila. I’m right here.” He choked out, a comforting smile on his face. “And I’m not going anywhere.”


I felt my heart swell, my mind travelling back to the dream I had all those months ago, me finding Zayn perched upon the red merry-go-round at Lower Fields, waiting for me as the rain quietly fell around us.


"There you are!" I had told him, my lips breaking into a smile at the sight of him, the boy I loved. "Where have you been?”


Right here.” Zayn told me as if it was the most obvious thing in the word, a sweet smile on his lips as he said it.


Zayn carefully raised his hands, cold from the rain, and gently placed them on my face, his eyes drilling into mine. “It was you.” He said quietly, just loud enough for me to hear. “It was always you.” His eyes were searching mine timidly.


I was frozen in place, droplets of rain and tears rolling off of my lashes. “You’re going to be the death of me Zayn Malik.” I whispered in terror, scared, scared that I found myself believing the words he spoke.


“I’m sorry!” Zayn yelled over the rain, his thumbs stroking my cheeks. I suddenly found my hands on top of his.


“For what?” I yelled back, my eyes searching his dark ones.


He paused before speaking, a crooked grin appearing on his face, “For not doing this years ago!” He said passionately, crushing his lips down onto mine.


And suddenly, as easily as the rain was falling around us, Zayn and I were kissing, my arms around his neck, my fingers running through his slick black hair as his strong arms circled their way around my waist, pulling me closer to him. My desire to feel his lips against mine overpowered every thought; every word that my mind screamed at me, telling me that I was a fool. Let me be a fool then, I thought with a laugh, and suddenly Zayn was laughing too as we rocked back and forth, the wind howling around us. We broke apart for air, grinning widely at each other, Zayn’s forehead against mine as he held me. Zayn Malik was pumping through my veins once more, stronger than ever. My heart was in his hands, and to my disbelief, Zayn Malik’s heart was in my hands as well.


All this feels strange and untrue

And I won't waste a minute without you


A/N: Thanks for reading and please review! xo

Check out the accompanying tumblr for I'm in Love with a Stripper and check out music, outfits, sneak peeks, fanart, and more! iminlovewithastripperfanfiction.tumblr.com

Music from the chapter:

The A-Team – Ed Sheeran

The Scientist – Coldplay

Open Your Eyes – Snow Patrol

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