Amore And Pizza

Hey, I'm Avery. I thought I had it figured out, ya know? I thought I had distinguished the difference between love and imagination. I was SO sure that no one could ever love me. Especially someone so extraordinary like Niall. But for once in my sob story of a life, I WANTED to be proven wrong. But I was right. Again.

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19. The Ankle Bone Is Connected To The, Well, Nothing Now

     The school day was done. But the day was far from it. I hadn't seen Niall since he left lunch to answer his stupid phone. Right now, I was walking to the locker room to get into my jersey along with the other girls on my team. Other than Olivia, I hadn't made any progress with becoming friends with the other girls. I hope that didn't show today. My stomach was twisted in knots. After weeks of practicing, the day was actually here. I said hi to everyone then opened my locker. It was the standard gym locker, colored orange for the mascot. I grabbed my soccer jersey-number 24-which was all black with orange numbers. It was a reversible one, so the other side was all orange with black numbers. I put on my black shorts, shin-guards, orange socks, and blue shoes. Hey, no one told me the school colors when I bought these shoes. I grabbed my water bottle and headed outside on the field.

     People from this school and East Denver were setting up lawn chairs and blankets. I saw Kalley and Gabrielle sitting on a blanket laughing. I went over to them.

     "Hey you guys."

     "Hey Avery!" Gabrielle exclaimed. "Are you excited for the game?"

     "Yeah. A little nervous, too. Have you seen Niall?"

     Kalley shook her head. "Not since lunch. But don't worry. Remember what he said? He's going to ask your dad after the game!" I nodded. I hoped she was right. "You're not going to leave your hair down are you?" I reached back to find my hair was still down. I hadn't even remembered to put it up in a ponytail.

     "Can you braid it?" Kalley nodded as I turned my back to her. "So, Gabrielle, are you going with Louis?"

     "No way. Thanks for trying Kalley, but it's just not going to happen."

     "Looks like we both might be going stag."

     "Doubt it. Niall is going to ask you for sure. Speaking of Prince Charming, here he comes." I tilted my head up to see Niall heading this way with a big goofy grin on his face.

     "Hey. Coach wants to start warming up."

     "Okay. Kalley you done?"

     "Yep. Good luck you guys." 

     "Yeah, good luck! We'll be cheering." Gabrielle added.

     Niall and I headed over to our coach, who was telling our team instructions.

     "Let's do two laps, then get back for some stretching." Our team took off, running around the the field. We watched as East Denver walked onto the field. Their jerseys were dark navy blue and white. They looked back at us. I could cut the tension with a butter knife. After running, our team sat down in a big circle and stretched. The other team ran their laps-they did three, which I think was to show us up-and made a circle to stretch. I noticed they had more guys than girls. We had a sort of yelling contest to see who could count louder as we were stretching. They won. "Alright everybody, bring it in." We stood up and headed over to coach, who was holding a mini whiteboard. "Forwards are:Avery, Jacob, and Ryan. Midfielders:Niall, Hunter, and Sarah. Defense: Harry, Olivia, and Trevor." I noticed Olivia's shocked expression. She had started out as second string, but I guess coach thought she was good enough to bump up. Coach was playing his best people today. "Okay, I want everyone on their top game. Play your best. No slacking. On three." We counted to three, yelling tigers. Our team of ten, including our always goalie Carter, walked onto the field.

     Let's play a clean game, kids." The ref looked at each team in turn. Something told me these two teams hadn't played clean games in the past. He placed the ball in the middle of the white circle. Our goalie, defenders, and midfielder moved to their positions. I took the left side of the circle while Jacob was in the middle, and Ryan on the right by the cheering fans. 

     The game started with East Denver having the ball. I stole the ball easily and passed to Jacob, who passed it to Ryan.  Or, tried to pass it anyway. The ball was stolen by someone on the defense who kicked it all the way to their forwards. We played this back and forth routine until almost half-time when I scored. The ref blew his whistle to signal half-time. Panting, I ran back to the sidelines with our team. I grabbed my water bottle and drank most of it. 

     "Nice shot." Niall came up behind me to pat me on the back.

     "Thanks. Took long enough, though. They're good."

     "Yeah. They are. But we are better. C'mon." We joined our team. 

     "We're doing good, but we need to do better. Forwards, you have to push yourselves. Avery, nice shot. Let's make some more." After our cheer-followed by cheers from our fans-we went back to our positions.

     With five minutes left in the game, East Denver won a penalty kick because Olivia touched the ball with her hand. It was a one-on-one shot against the goalie. The boy who was shooting had black hair and blue eyes. With a perfectly placed kick, the scored was tied 1-1. Great, in soccer there were no over-time's. We could end this game with a tie. Even if I was new to this rivalry thing I knew that wasn't gonna happen. 

     Jacob, Ryan, and I lined back up. Niall was behind me, and Harry was behind him. I made brief eye contact with Harry, who pretty much rejected it. Niall and I made eye contact, and unlike Harry, Niall returned my smile with an even bigger one. The ref blew his whistle to start the game again. Ryan had the ball, then passed it to Jacob, who passed it to me. The defense was on me in a second. I dribbled around them, and with what I can only say was pure luck, I shot the ball with my left foot into the goal, sailing right over the goalie's fingertips. I jumped in the air with my team mates. The ref blew his whistle, signifying the end of the game. 

     "Avery! You did it!" Niall ran up to me and picked me up, spinning me around. I was so happy. He set me down laughing.

     "I can't believe it!" Niall took my hand and began to walk with me over to our team, who was jumping around with big smiles on their faces. I looked down and realized my shoe was untied. "Hold on a sec." I bent down to tie my shoe. "You go on ahead, I'll be right there," I told Niall.

     "You sure?" I nodded. "Okay." I watched Niall jog over to our team. East Denver was slowly making their way over to their coach. I felt a pang of sympathy. They worked hard. I was so busy paying attention to them I didn't notice the frieght train running towards me. And that's where my luck stopped short.

     I grunted as the boy who made East Denver's goal barreled me over, causing a pain in my left ankle to shoot up in my leg. I screamed in pain.

     "O my gosh, I didn't see you there." The boy quickly got up and stared down at me. Whatever, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that he saw me. It was on purpose. Tears sprang into my eyes as the pain in my ankle became almost unbearable. Everyone on the field, including the fans fell into a hushed silence. I saw Kalley and Gabrielle stand up in shock. I saw Niall look at me. Then I saw Harry. His eyes were on fire-figuratively speaking. Barely conscious, I watched as Harry walked straight up to the boy who hurt me. With a few choice words-which I shouldn't type-Harry punched the guy in the face, knocking him out. And then I fainted.

 

                                                                    *************************************************

 

     When I came to, I was riding in a strange car. I opened my eyes and turned my head to see the driver. That was an even stranger sight. Harry was driving with a grim expression. When he noticed I was awake, he turned his head and smiled.

     "Hey how you feeling?" I remembered my ankle, which was now wrapped in a bandage with an ice pack pressed against my skin. I tried to move it, and gasped with the pain. Fresh tears rained down my cheeks, following the trails left by the ones I had shed earlier. "Not so good, then. You passed out." Obvious much, I thought. "Coach had to put your ankle back in place. That jerk dislocated it." When Harry mentioned him, his hands tightened around the steering wheel. I noticed his right hand had bruises on the knuckles.

     "Did you really punch him?"

     Harry laughed. "Yeah."

     "Why?"

     He took a deep breath. "Avery, I'm sorry about this week. I should have been honest with you. When I saw that guy hurt you, on purpose, it just made me mad." I grinned up at him.

     "Well that's the best apology ever." Harry looked at me and grinned. "So where are we?" Just then, Harry pulled the car up somewhere. I couldn't tell where because the seat had been put all the way down. 

     "Your house." I put up the lever to see he was right. I also noticed that we were in Louis' car. He noticed my look. "I borrowed it so I could take you home."

     "Borrowed?"

     Harry gave me a sheepish look. "Uh, borrowed without permission." I laughed. Harry opened his door and made his way over to mine, where he opened the door for me. "Here." He held out his hand to help me up. I took it gratefully and started walk to my house. I took about a half of a step before I yelped in pain. "So, no walking." Without even asking, Harry picked me up and walked in my house. My dad wasn't home yet.

     "How am I supposed to go to the dance?" I groaned. Now Niall wouldn't be able to ask me. Niall. "Hey, where's Niall?" Harry's expression dropped. He brought me over to the couch and set me down before answering.

     "Uh, he didn't really do much. He came over and watched as I carried you to Louis' car. He said that he would come over in a bit." I pouted. Harry looked like he was telling the truth. That meant Niall was going to come here. That's a good sign. 

     "Well it's pointless. There's no way I can go to the dance." 

     "Why don't you take a bath, that might help." Harry held out his hand again for me to take it. With a deep breath, I grabbed it. I made myself walk. It hurt like crazy, but I could manage. I sat on the toilet as Harry turned on the bath. I watched him. I had so many questions to ask. The tub soon filled. He shut the water off. "Okay, it's done." I looked at him for a few heartbeats. "What?"

     "I'm going to uh, get in now." I blushed. When Harry realized what I meant, he blushed too.

     "Oh, right. I'll uh, just be in the livingroom." He quickly turned around and shut the door behind him. I took off the bandage and ice pack, and settled into the warm bath. Normally, I hated baths. But the warm water felt amazing on my ankle. I looked at it. It was purple and swollen, but looked like it was in place. I scrubbed all the dirt and sweat off. I drained the tub and wrapped myself in a towel. I figured I might as well dress up for the dance. I made a mad dash to my room, hoping to God that Harry didn't see me in just a towel. I shut the door and locked it, then made my way over to the closet. I grabbed the dress, in all its purple beauty, and put it on. I wrapped my hair in my towel so it would dry. Then I went back into the bathroom and did my makeup. I heard the door to my house open. My dad was home. I shuffled to the door and put my ear against it.

     "Hi, Caleb."

     "Hello, Harry. What are you doing here?"

     "Avery was hurt at the game. A guy barreled her over. She dislocated her ankle. Coach put it back in place. She's taking a bath right now."

     "Is she okay?"

     "Yeah. She passed out, but she's okay now."

     "Thank you for bringing her home."

     "Sure anytime."

     I heard my dad walk down the hall to the bathroom door. He knocked.

     "Yeah?"

     "Aves, it's your dad. How ya doin'?"

     "I'm good, I'm getting ready for the dance."

     "You're not seriously thinking about going to the dance with that ankle? You should go to the doctor."

     "Daddy, I'm better. My ankle's just a little sore."

     I heard my dad sigh. "Fine, I'll be in the livingroom." I listened as his footsteps echoed down the hall. I decided to quickly curl my hair, then went into my room. The clock said it was 7:30. I was in the bathroom for awhile. But Harry stayed. I heard the door open again and voices. I couldn't make out what they were saying. I tried putting on my silver shoes. That was a dumb idea. My foot was so swollen it wouldn't fit. In any of my shoes. I found a pair of converse, which thankfully fit. I heard the door open again. More voices. With my dress and converse-fashion disaster of the century-I walked into the living room. Harry and my father stood up and gasped. Harry was wearing a black blazer and jeans. He held a violet in his hand.

     "Aves," my dad whispered, "you look..."

     "Beautiful." Harry finished.

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