She Taught Me How To Love

"If anyone asked me what impact Leigh had on my life, I could easily tell them. She taught me how to love." After four long years of a highly successful career, news of his childhood sweetheart sends international pop sensation Harry Styles into a whirlwind of emotions he believed had been forgotten all those years ago. As he struggles to become the person she always believed he could be, he learns once more that it is possible to love with the entirety of his heart.
©Ohhipstaplease 2014


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3. A Rainy London Day

CHAPTER ONE

A Rainy London Day

In the fourth year of our career, twenty years old and seemingly more mature,  I began to slowly construct a more stable life.  I rented a flat with Louis and together we live comfortably in Primrose Hills. The lads not far behind, having rented the flat next to ours. Our careers were booming, two tours in the works, three albums in progress, and a world of amazing fans. We had it all, yet it felt as if I had nothing. 

The lads, well, they continually maintained a constant watch on me, worried that a relapse was soon to follow. Yet, although it was tiring at times, I knew they meant well. Louis had known that the past years had been tough on me emotionally, although I  was not one to admit it.

This story in particular though, unfolds on a rainy London day. Four long years since I had seen Leigh.

As I got ready for the day the doorbell rang loudly. Louis yelled from the kitchen "I'll get it". I paid no mind and continued slipping on my trousers and jumper. "Harry!" I grab my wallet and keys and walk out to the hallway. From there I could see Louis talking to someone. As I came closer I saw a middle-aged woman holding a toddler. They both turned when I  approached.

"Are you Harry Styles?"

"Yes." I told her furrowing my brow.

"I'm Veronica." she extends her hand, shifting the toddler in her grasp. “Mr. Styles may I come in?" Louis opens the door wider and lets her in. She walks towards our small kitchen table and sets the child down in the seat next to her.  We sit down in the remaining seats. "As I stated earlier, my name is Veronica. I am a social worker for the department of Child protective services here in England. This beautiful little lady is Miss Emma.” both Louis and I  turned to look at the child. Her bright blue eyes twinkled in marvel as she played with her rag doll. "I know you must be confused as to why I am here, so I will make sure I go through this thoroughly." I  looked at her steadily, suddenly I felt anxiety overtaking me. "Mr. Styles, may I ask you about Leigh Cunningham?" I looked at her wide-eyed, and Louis turned to face me.

“Well, what exactly do you need to know about her?"

"For starters how did you two know each other?"

I felt my throat close up thinking about our grassy slope. “Well, we were neighbors. My mum and her mum were both pregnant with us around the same time. We grew up together."

She looked at me calmly. Her brown eyes soft and understanding, framed by thick glasses. "Were you ever romantically involved with Ms. Cunningham?" I nodded. "About how long ago would you say?"

"Oh, well about, um, four years ago."

She looks at me steadily "Mr. Styles, I know this is an invasive question, but were you ever physically involved with Ms. Cunningham while you two were dating" I nod my  head slightly and she sighs. Louis looked at me, and wills me to stay strong. "Mr. Styles, have you kept in contact with Miss Cunningham these past few years?"

"No, she moved away and I never heard from her again."

She nods, and takes off her glasses. "Mr. Styles, I regret to tell you that Ms. Cunningham passed away two months ago."

I felt the room grow smaller, my breath became shorter, and I felt trapped. Tears pricked my eyes, and I breathed heavily, trying to keep the walls from closing in around me. Louis hurriedly got up and handed me a glass of water. I tried to compose myself.

"How, how did she pass" I managed to ask.

Veronica looked at me sadly. "Ms. Cunningham and her mother were driving on a dark road. She had not seen the warning sign about the icy roads, and ultimately the car slid into the opposite lane. It collided with a semi-truck. They died on impact." I could no longer hold back my tears and they silently streamed down my face. Louis rubbed my arm, trying to comfort me. Veronica reached across the small table and took my hand "Harry, I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I know you are still processing this but I have one final topic to discuss with you." I nodded and she proceeded. "Ms. Cunningham has no other living relatives, and after a thorough investigation of her home we have discovered a box of sealed letters postmarked to you. They were never sent." she handed me a small cardboard box, and I opened it. Suddenly her smell lingered around us, her sweet flowery perfume. I looked up at Veronica, she continued. "Mr. Styles, Ms. Cunningham had a daughter."

I drop the lid of the box "Excuse me?" Louis quickly grabs the lid and puts it back on the box. "Her name is Emma, she is three years old." I look at the child sitting directly in front of me and feel my pulse race, it couldn't be. "Mr. Styles, we have reason to believe Emma is your daughter."

Emma looked at me, her blue eyes twinkling. But I had seen it, I had seen it in that moment. It did not matter what anyone said, I had already seen it. Leigh's beautiful eyes, my dimples in her cherub cheeks. My hands shook as I looked at the child and she looked back with an innocent obliviousness. "Mr. Styles, we still have to do a DNA test, but it seems that your answers coincide with the evidence we found in the letters. Now, if she were to be your child Mr. Styles, would you take custody of her? Now, you don’t have to answer me right this instant you may take some days to think about it.”

I nodded quickly, knowing the answer within my heart already “Yes, yes I would.”

Veronica smiles widely, “I would like to present to you Miss Emma."

She got up from her seat and picked up Emma. As she was placed in my arms and I looked into her eyes, I saw Leigh's. Her smile, his dimples, our love sanctified in something as beautiful as this child

"Emma." I finally mustered. She giggled when I smiled at her "Hi Emma." she lifts her pudgy hand and waves coyly at me.

"Hi." she says. I hug her tightly.

The last gift Leigh left to me.

–❈–

The DNA test would take two days. Those two days were the longest I had ever experienced in the entirety of my twenty years. The day dragged on, only making the night seem endless. I was restless and nervous, anxiety once more pitting in my stomach. I knew she was mine. I had known since the moment I had seen her. There’s an unspeakable bond between a parent and their child, that I knew for sure, but I wasn’t quite sure how to explain it without sounding mad. But, what I needed was the reassurance, what I was scared of was to lose the last piece of Leigh. That, terrified me greatly.

As the second day came to a close the boys gathered at our flat. We sat around nervously, waiting for the phone call from Veronica.

"I'm hungry, mate do you have anything to eat." Niall asked from the couch in the living room.

I rolled my eyes, not in the mood for any of their shenanigans. "Niall, go look in the kitchen"

Niall gets up and makes his way across the room. We hear the refrigerator open and shut, and cellophane crackling loudly throughout the room. I nervously run a hand through my hair. Liam clears his throat, rather loudly as the sounds of Niall’s chewing were now penetrating the area around us. Zayn busily typed away on his phone, oblivious to the building tension in the room. I grit my teeth as I heard the incessant noise, my temper flaring little by little with each noise Niall made. Louis peeked into the kitchen, well aware of the tense atmosphere and Niall’s obliviousness to it all. He tries to shush Niall, but Niall slams shut the refrigerator door anyway.

I gets up angrily “Bloody hell Niall.”

“What?” Niall says struggling to swallow the food still in his mouth.

When suddenly the doorbell rang loudly throughout the flat. Everyone turned towards the door, then we blankly looked at each other.

"I'll get it." I open it and see Veronica.

"Mr. Styles, good evening!"

I smile lightly "Hello Ms. Veronica."

"Now Mr. Styles I know you're awaiting some very important results." I feel my heart in my throat "Well, the results did indeed come back and it seems that" She sifts through the file in her hand. It was as if she were dragging it out on purpose "You, Harry Styles, are indeed Emma's father." she smiles warmly at me, lowering her glasses. "Would you like me to bring her to you?"

I felt tears well up in my eyes, "Yes."

"I'll be back in less than an hour then love" She wrapped me in a one armed embrace "Congratulations Mr. Styles, I can see in your eyes that you already love her."

"I do." I whispered.

And I did. I knew that with Emma, I’d never make the mistake again of denouncing my love. I loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her, and I would love her til the end of my days. That I promised to myself in that instant.

Within the hour Veronica came back, the doorbell rang once more, and by that time all of the lads had reached the door. I opened the door and Veronica carried Emma in once more. I was about to cry, but I knew better.

Veronica handed her to me, "Emma, this is your daddy"’

Emma turned those big blue eyes on me and smiled "Daddy?" I felt my heart about to burst. I took her into my embrace and hugged her tightly

"Yes baby, daddy's here." tears streamed down my face, I no longer fought it. Everyone gathered around us and the boys cooed over Emma.

"She does look like him." Louis said tapping Liam on the arm "She has the curly hair and the killer smile." They all chuckled.

"She does look just like you Harry, she's going to be quite the heartbreaker." Liam said as he adjusted one of her bows.

I smiled widely, "Let's hope not." they all laughed loudly.

Veronica steps towards him, "Tomorrow we will sign all of the necessary paperwork, but as of tonight, you are officially Emma's father. I know I am leaving her in the utmost care." she wrapped both us in an embrace and handed me a tote bag filled with Emma's things. "Goodbye Miss Emma, take good care of your daddy."

She looked up at Veronica "I take care daddy good!" she lifted up her pudgy hands and I nuzzled her with my chin. She giggled.

I had never been so thankful in my life.

Yet that night, when I had first held Emma in his arms I came to a realization. Things were going to change hugely. It was unreal still. It was utterly unreal. Grief had overtaken me, it truly had. I was still trying to process the death of my best friend, of my love. Leigh, I had done so little to stop her from leaving. She had let me go, what was I supposed to do?. But now, now I had to prove to her that I would learn how to love that little girl. I had to tuck away my grief and my sadness for another day, forget about myself. I had to prove that I was worthy of this little girl. My Emma.

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