I Remember (1SHOT41D)

Eight years after an unforgettable summer in Spain, Rikke Petersen and Niall Horan meet in the most unexpected place of all. When they have missed each other the whole time, they are happy to see each other again, but will they manage to get their old friendship back? Or maybe even something more?

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1. Valentines Day

 

I bet this time at night you’re still up

I bet you’re tired from a long hard week

I bet you’re sitting in your chair by the window, looking out at the city

And I hope sometimes you wonder about me

 

I Almost Do” by Taylor Swift

 

 

 

 

The trolley rolled over the grey linoleum floor with a rattling sound as I took a few cans of white baked beans from the rack next to me. I made a face as I dropped them down in the trolley’s metal cage. My mom had asked—might as well forced—me to go grocery shopping for her and judging from the shopping list, it didn’t look like she was going to make something especially tasty for dinner. I sighed. It was a special day and I wished she would have done something greater than the normal chili con carne.

I rolled the trolley forward, but stopped shortly afterwards when I saw a big chocolate box; it had a deep, red color and of course, it was heart-shaped. Right over it hung a nicely written sign that said, “For your love!” My lips became a thin line and I felt an urge to let out a sigh when I saw the sign. How great, yet another Valentines Day I would get to spent alone! I was happy all these chocolate boxes, roses and other lovesick things would be gone by tomorrow.

When I found the ice cream session of the store I decided to go for a cookie dough flavored ice cream. Right when I picked up the box from the freezer, my eyes came across a chocolate flavored ice cream with chips. I smiled a little when I saw it: I knew it was his favorite—at least it had been once. It was in the most random moments like this I thought of him; I would be standing in front of my mirror and brushing my teeth or be on my way to school, when he would pop up in the back of my mind. Somehow I had never forgotten him.

When I was eleven my family and I had gone to Spain for the summer holidays. We had stayed at this nice little hotel that was owned by an old man and his wife, but even though the place was small, the staying had been great. Maybe what made the long vacation so extraordinary had been this friendly Irish family that stayed at the hotel at the same time as us. When the youngest boy in the family had introduced himself I had been quite shy; my family came from Denmark and at the time I barely knew how to keep a pleasant conversation in English. Even though I wasn’t sure on how to communicate with the boy, we quickly clicked together. His brown hair and kind smile had made me soften up and within the next two days, we had become best friends. He always knew how to make me laugh and I always knew what he was going to say before the words even had escaped his lips. But the sad truth is that a summer doesn’t last forever. Before I knew it he had gone back to Ireland and I was back in Denmark lying in my own bed. In times like these I would find myself missing a person I hadn’t seen in eight years. In a strange way I knew he never thought about me. He couldn’t.

After all, his name was Niall Horan.

I had seen him on The X Factor, and from then on I had watched him as he rose to the stars with his fellow band mates of One Direction. He had dyed his hair blonde and gotten world-famous … I really missed some milestones when I lost my contact with him. I saw him all the time in the medias and always recognized him, but if I walked by him on the street I’m sure he wouldn’t even notice me. Why would he ever notice normal Rikke Petersen?

I pushed the trolley in front of me and headed for the payment stand with my groceries. I just wanted to finish this job and get some fresh air. Just when I turned a corner my eye caught a glimpse of some familiar blond hair and a couple of eyes hiding beneath some black Ray Ban sunglasses. I stopped questioningly and furrowed my eyebrows when I took a closer look at the guy. Could it really be?

“Niall?” I heard myself say in a shaky, uncertain voice. The guy turned around and I felt my excitement drop, as I didn’t recognize him. I formed a short “sorry” and was just about to turn around and walk away, when the guy lifted his dark sunglasses away from his eyes.

“Rikke?” He was like paralyzed. A smile slowly started to spread across my face as I walked over to him, and it only got bigger when he pulled me in for a tight hug. I had almost forgotten how warm and wonderful they were. The way his head lay on my shoulder like he was never going to let go. “I can’t believe it,” he said when he pulled away. “Is this really you?” he joked and held my head as to make sure. “I can promise you it is,” I said.

“But I thought you went back to Denmark?”

“Niall, that was eight years ago,” I smiled at him. “I moved here to London with my family two years ago.” I looked back at the trolley filled with my groceries behind me. “I am so sorry, but I have to go and buy these now.” If you asked me the ice cream could just as well melt while I stayed here and talked with him; I didn’t care. But my mom probably wanted me home with the groceries soon and I knew not to keep her waiting for too long.

“I’ll go with you,” Niall said and walked past me and took the trolley by its grip. He started pushing it towards the payment stand in front of us and I followed him without complaining.

“So what are you doing in a grocery store on a day like this?” he asked me. I gave him a weird look. “Um, grocery shopping, I guess.”

“No, I know that,” he laughed. “I just wouldn’t expect a girl looking like that to be grocery shopping on Valentines Day.” My cheeks started flushing, and as always it made the moment a bit awkward for me—I had never been good at accepting compliments. Wait … what if that comment wasn’t even meant as a compliment?

Then my old best friend just flirted with me.

“So what are you doing today?” Niall asked me. “Do you have any special guy waiting?”

“Nope,” I said and shook my head. “I am forever alone on all Valentines Days.” We got to the payment stand and I gave the cashier my groceries.

“I’ve got to ask you something then,” he said as he walked up to stand beside me. “I’m in this ba—”

“—Band called One Direction,” I said and smiled at him. This was just like the old days: I could finish his sentences and it was easier for me than breathing. “Yes, I have heard about you guys. It’s hard to miss such a big thing as you.” He shot me a quick smile and then began again: “Well, we are having this Valentines Day Edition concert in town later today. Maybe you would like to come?” I opened my mouth to answer him, but he cut me off. “Don’t worry, I will get you a backstage pass!” I giggled and shot a look at him. That tight black polo really suited him well. I didn’t mean to stare, but I couldn’t help but look a bit too long at the muscular chest hiding beneath his shirt. My eyes found his and I got amazed when I realized how shining blue they really were. “That is a sure yes,” I slowly answered him.

I paid the cashier and packed my groceries down in a brown paper bag. Niall gladly offered to carry it for me and even though I said I could carry it myself, he took it from my grip and helped me carry it out to my car.

“So,” he said after he had put the groceries in the back of my car. “I guess I will see you after the concert?” I nodded and he pulled me in for a hug.

“I’m so glad I met you here,” he whispered into my ear. “I’ve missed having you around.” He let go of me and I got into my car. When I drifted off I saw him standing on the parking lot and waving at me like crazy. I let out a laugh as I waved back at him and drove out on the street.

I had just met my old best friend from eight years back and we still fit together like two pieces in a puzzle game. He was just as wonderful as the last time I had seen him: sweet and funny like I remembered him. I had to admit that he had become handsome. The guy in all the pictures in the magazines looked even cuter in real-life. He had really grown since we were kids. I had, too, of course—puberty happens.

We were back together and everything was just like the summer in Spain when we were eleven. But in a strange way I felt differently about him, like a spark of something new had been ignited.

 

***

Hyde Park was filled to the limit with teenage girls when I arrived just about five minutes before the concert. When I looked around me all I could see were girls in One Direction T-shirts with the band members’ names written on their cheeks. If they weren’t crying or looking like they were going to faint, they screamed their lungs out; and when this happens all at once it is not hard to imagine the deafening noise that were at the place. Far in front on me I could see a stage that on the distance looked small, but on a close-up sure was bigger.

I gave my ticket to the tall and muscular man in front of me, and when he passed it back to me I saw that he had given me a backstage pass with.

“Thank you,” I told him friendly as I walked past him and into the concert area. I shot a look at my watch and hurried up when I saw there only were two minutes to the starting time at seven o’clock. I indeed didn’t want to be rude to people, but since I didn’t want to stand in the back and watch the concert on a big flat screen, I ended up pushing my way through the crowd as I moved further up the big green lawn. After a whole lot of irritated hecklings from the girls I had pushed, I finally stopped. I was about fifty meters from the stage and that was nothing more than I could ask for.

At exactly seven o’clock a romantic pink colored curtain fell down from the roof of the stage and hid everything behind it. With beautifully curved red letters printed on the middle it said, “One Direction: Valentines Day Edition”. The teenage girl screamed even louder of excitement. Then the curtain fell down and on the stage was now five boys standing with their backs turned to us. A well-known tune started playing out of the giant speakers and one of the boys in the line turned around to face the enormous crowd of girls. “You’re insecure, don’t know what for,” he sang and smiled slightly when the girls screamed louder—if that was even possible. I wasn’t surprised that I knew the song already; I lived in England, and honestly, who hadn’t heard “What Makes You Beautiful” at least once?

The boys’ names weren’t that hard for me to remember, either. The one with the deep vocals singing in the moment was Liam and later on I recognized the curly-haired boy as Harry, the one with the black hair as Zayn and the one in the striped shirt as Louis. And when Niall first turned around I had been blown away. He looked so full of life up there; giving it all he had, feeling the lyrics he sung completely and just rocking it out. This was a new side of him I had never seen before, but there was no doubt about that I already loved it to pieces.

What was different in this concert was that the boys only sang love songs: everything from “One Thing” to “Little Things”. I was pleased that I could sing along on some of them. And I had to admit that their music really fell in my taste.

   Right before their probably last performance, Niall sat down with his guitar in his hands on one of five stools that had been placed on the stage. The other boys sat down, too, and he took the word: “I would like to dedicate this song to someone in the audience. She is someone that really means something to me, someone that I have really missed.” A small smile showed upon his lips as he started playing the guitar and the boys started singing.

 

Am I sleep am I awake or somewhere in between

I can’t believe that you are here and lying next to me

Or did I dream that we were perfectly entwined

Like branches on a tree, or twigs caught on a vine

 

Like all those days and weeks and months I tried to steal a kiss

And all those sleepless nights and daydreams where I pictured this

I’m just the underdog who finally got the girl

And I am not ashamed to tell it to the world

 

Truly, madly, deeply I am

Foolishly, completely falling

And somehow you kicked all my walls in

So baby say you’ll always keep me

Truly, madly, crazy, deeply in love with you

In love with you

 

Should I put coffee and granola on a tray in bed

And wake you up with all the words that I still haven’t said

And tender touches just to show you how I feel

Or should I act so cool, like it was no big deal

 

Wish I could freeze this moment in a frame and stay like this

I’ll put this day back on replay and keep reliving it

‘Cause here’s the tragic truth, if you don’t feel the same

My heart would fall apart if someone said your name

 

Truly, madly, deeply I am

Foolishly, completely falling

And somehow you kicked all my walls in

So baby say you’ll always keep me

Truly, madly, crazy, deeply in love with you

 

I hope I’m not a casualty

I hope you won’t get up and leave

Might not mean that much to you

But to me it’s everything

Everything

 

Truly, madly, deeply I am

Foolishly, completely falling

And somehow you kicked all my walls in

So baby say you’ll always keep me

Truly, madly, crazy, deeply in love

With you

In love

With you

In love

With you

 

When the song ended I was close to tearing up. They had all sung that song with so much feeling, especially Niall—and gosh, those lyrics were so beautifully written! The girl that got the song dedicated to her must have been the happiest in the whole wide world.

***

I held my backstage pass tight as I showed it to the guard in front of me. I sure wouldn’t loose it because then I wouldn’t be able to see Niall or meet his band mates. The guard let me pass through the heavy, black door and I walked into a small room: Up against the one white wall a large black sofa stood and a small radio was plugged into an outlet. Nothing much seemed to be going on there yet, so I simply just bumped down in the sofa and waited for something to happen. And just when I had the thought, a blond-haired boy slammed the door to my side open. A smile spread across his face when he saw me sitting in the sofa, only waiting for him to come. I stood up and he came over and pulled me in for one of his great warm hugs.

“How did I do?” Niall asked me with a glimpse in his eye.

“You were amazing,” I told him with no doubt and giggled. “I understand why you do this for a living.” He stepped aside and I saw the four other members of the band standing behind him. Louis waved happily and hyped at me and I waved back—oh Lord, this boy was so energetic.

“You guys were all amazing,” I said and smiled at them. I wasn’t lying; all those teenage girls were there for a reason. The boys introduced themselves and I was really pleased to get to meet them: They were really funny and I had a great feeling about them.

“Rikke,” Niall suddenly said to me. He eyed me as he said, “Can I speak with you for a moment?” I nodded as to say okay, and he took my hand in his and led me out of the door. Touching him made me feel good inside, a bit like a blossom. His hand was warm even though the weather was cold and his soft skin was undeniable. He led me on through the backstage area and at last we ended up standing in the middle of Hyde Park. Thank god everyone had went home from the concert because otherwise fans would have over rumpled us by now. Niall looked down at our intertwined fingers and smiled when he looked back up at me. When I looked into his eyes I felt like nothing could stop us: Like we didn’t bare a thought about the world passing by in front of us.

A sudden question popped out of nowhere in my mind and I quickly asked it before he got to say something. “Who was that girl in the crowd you dedicated the last song to?” He bit his lip and met my eyes. He kept looking into them for a long time and I once again got caught up in the beauty of them. “You, Rikke. That girl was you,” he finally said. When I heard his words I went completely dumbfounded. Once again he pulled me in for a hug, but this time it had a new … spark of something. “I’ve missed you so much, you know,” he whispered into my ear. I didn’t quite understand why he did this whole thing. I wasn’t famous, nor a model and nor a straight A student. I was ordinary and a guy like Niall Horan had picked me of all people. “Why?” I ended up asking him.

“I always thought about you,” he said to me, “even when I shouldn’t. Always.” A small smile showed upon my lips—I wasn’t the only one to have thought about the other in all of this time. “I guess I have had some special feelings for you all along.”

“Me too.” I bit my lip and he looked me into the eyes; he was certainly a beautiful one.

“When I met you in the supermarket today things just started to come back to me. And I felt this sparkle of our old friendship becoming something … more.” He caressed my cheek and took my other hand in his before he pulled me closer to him. “Please, Rikke … would you be my valentine?” I had the feeling that I was smiling like someone mad. The butterflies and the warm felling in my belly had really grown strong. “Yes, I would like to Mr. Horan,” I was happy to say. “I think the song said it all.” He smiled at me and whispered a “Thank you” to me; I had no idea of why he did so.

Niall took my head in his hands and slowly pulled me closer to him. We had gotten up really close and our foreheads now rested on each other’s. I could feel his warm breathing on my neck. And then finally he took a move and crashed his lips onto mine. They were soft and we moved completely in sync, as I let my hands fall around his neck and he laid his arms around my waist. Magic was in the air.

He slowly pulled away and gave me a small, but yet sure smile. “Happy Valentines Day, darling,” he whispered and kissed me lightly on the nose-tip.

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