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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2. Prologue

 PROLOGUE

An Excess of Words in Rememberance of My First Love

I’ve written this story so many times. Yet every time something is still left unsaid. Every time I put pen to paper I remember another piece that was supposed to intertwine into the greater picture. Every time I feel it's not good enough to dedicate to her. She was my everything, she was the one. But I let her go.

I let her go because in the simplest of words, it was the easiest choice I could have made. I was sixteen, I was a child, I was selfish, I would say all these excuses to all those who would listen, but the fact of the matter was that she was gone.

She was my best friend. I had spent years watching her by my side, she was so unceasingly loyal to someone so unworthy. She would turn and look at me at any given moment, her lips turning into a bright and beautiful smile. She was always full of wonder and light, with an unshakeable belief that I was someone much greater than who I thought I was. In her I found true happiness, with her I felt as if there was nothing left to hide. We held each others' small hands on the first day of kindergarten, we took lazy naps together. I watched her grow from my best friend to my lover. She pushed me to be who I am today, but even now I don't believe I’ve  reached her expectations. I’ve  let her down in every way imaginable.

One night stands and drunken mistakes linger around me. They mock me and tell me in constant whispers how I was never good enough. How all the fame in the world couldn't help me anymore, not after I had so despicably removed her from my life. Not after I drowned himself in pity and alcohol. Not after I tried again and again to find love where there was only lust.

I miss her deeply, that cannot be denied. Every night I lay awake, playing out the scenarios in my mind. If I had told her to stay, if I had kept in touch, if I  had treated her better. Ifs fill my mind, leaving me full of regrets and sadness.

If only.

If only I had done more. If only I had told her ‘thank you for making me into the man I am today’. If only I had told her how much I loved her.

Maybe things would have turned out differently.

–❈–

Endless summers we spent climbing the grassy slope behind her home. We were sixteen and on the verge of love, unbeknown the future laid so neatly in front of us. She laid back on her elbows, watching the clouds pass by as I watched her long blonde hair blow in the warm summer wind as we had done every summer we had spent together.

"Leigh."

"Hmmm?"

"Oh, um, never mind." I say nervously running a hand through my curly hair.

"Harry?" she looked into my eyes, urging me to look back at her.

"Yeah?"

"Well, I just wanted to give you this." she handed me a box. I looked at her and then at the package in my hand, she smiled lightly. I opened it carefully and found a silver necklace with a paper plane charm on it. I took it out, and hung it on my index finger. "You know when we were little we always wished we could fly away?" I nodded "Well love, I think it's time for you to fly. Sometimes you have to fly to be free."

"Are you sure you want me to do this?"

"It would be selfish of me to stop you. This is your chance. I know you'll make it."

I looked into her bright blue eyes, debating once more whether to take this friendship of fifteen years any further. She gave me that look, the look I knew so well. Her eyes locked on me knowingly and she scrunched her nose just a tiny bit. I nervously put a hand to her cheek, feeling my heartbeat out of time. As I inched closer and closed the gap between us, our eyes fluttered closed. I wrapped my arm around her, embracing her. Leigh’s gentle lips grazed mine, and I  finally realized what I  had been missing out on all those years.

Love.

And that, well that was the beginning of the end.

"We should get going." she murmured under the starry skies. She rested her head on my chest, her sweet smell intertwined with the freshly cut grass around us.

"We should."

She gently got up, smoothing her white dress with a hand. I looked at her in wonder. She was mine. She had always been.

We walked in stride, once more down our grassy slope. I grabbed her hand, and intertwined her fingers with mine, smiling. Leigh smiled at me widely. And  instantly a pang of guilt ran through me, leaving me to wonder ‘What if this audition leads to bigger things? What happens to us then?’

"Maybe things will work themselves out Harry."

Ever the optimist, she always knew what to say. I kissed her hand, hoping she was right. She smiled at me once more.

That smile, it’s haunted me for years. How I wish I could see her smile again

–❈–

It seemed that our friendship of fifteen years had evolved. Months had passed, and that kiss had sparked a teenage affair we had finally succumbed to after years of avoiding it. Subtle glances and meaningful words threw us  into a tumultuous world of unknown desires.

"Leigh, my house tonight?" I ask as Leigh shut the door to her locker. The sound reverberated down the empty hallway of our secondary school.

"Harry, I always come over on Friday nights." she said as she stuffed books into her pink rucksack.

"I just wanted to officially ask you, love."

She smiled, rolling her eyes "Oh please, you’re such a dork, Harry.”

“That’s not what you usually say.”

“I’m only being honest.” she says as she skips down the hall, her wellies squeaking against the linoleum. I watch her with a smirk as she opens the doors and turns back “Harry?”

“Coming.” I call as I run towards her, out into the humid London afternoon.

As we walked home, the sky was grey and ominous. I looked up and told her, "Looks like rain."

"We should speed up a bit then."

I felt droplets of water falling from the sky as I pulled Leigh’s arm, urging her to go quicker. We took our usual short cut, cutting through our grassy slope. It was then the clouds decided to release their furry. Water poured down hard, sheets of icy droplets falling upon us. Leigh laughed, spreading out her arms and enjoying the pure spontaneity of the moment. This was the moment I forever held in my mind. Her laughter intermixed with the sound of thunder, the angelic sound drowning out the storm around us. I pressed her to me, kissing her passionately. She looked into my eyes wildly, both of us feeling the fire burning deep within us.

We somehow managed to sprint across the remainder of the slope, reaching my house. We were soaked, our clothes clinging to our bodies. We walked into the kitchen and Leigh pulled herself up onto on the counter.

"Anne is working late again right?" I nodded lifting an eyebrow, a smile crept upon my face as I inched closer to her "And Robin as well?" I nodded once more, assuring her that my parents were gone for the entirety of the night. Her lips kinked into a smile and her eyes lured me closer.  I lifted her off the top of counter, my hands tightly around her small waist as she wrapped her long legs around me, and pulled me towards her. I lifted her light body and carried her to my room. Placing her upon my bed I began looking at her closely. We had spent so many nights in this bed, sharing secrets, feigning sleep only to continue talking until the crack of dawn. Her blue eyes twinkled in a different manner now. The silence in the room didn’t feel as if it had to be broken.

“I love you.” she whispered, so quietly as if not to disturb peace that was around us.I lightly let my fingers trace her waist. She presses me down upon her, her kisses passionate and desperate. Her small tongue intertwining with mine, my hands beginning to free us of our clothing. She knelt upon the bed, bringing me up with her, bare chest to bare chest. Her skin was smooth, marble in the moonlight.

“I love you too.” I told her for the first time. I lowered her down, gently laying her upon the cotton sheets once more. “I love you.”

At least then, at least once, I truly meant it when I said it.

–❈–

The following day was the day. I was to leave for an audition. Not just any audition, but an audition to one of the biggest singing competitions in England. Although my shots were one in a million, as always Leigh saw something within me that I just couldn't see in myself. Although I was reluctant, even more so now that I had finally begun a relationship with Leigh, I decided to leave and audition for the X-Factor. A one in a million chance.

"Leigh." I said gently rousing her from her peaceful sleep.

"What time is it?"

"Five."

"Are you ready for today?" She asks as she laid her head on my chest.

"I think so."

She lifted her hand to my chest and wrapped her delicate fingers around the silver paper plane. "It's time for you to fly, Harry."

It took everything I could muster to leave bed that morning. It was as if I knew, it would be the last time we would truly feel this way.

–❈–

I had passed my audition, just as Leigh had predicted. I was officially placed into the competition, but there was a twist. I had passed the first round, ,the second, but as I was getting closer to the judge’s house and being officially a part of the competition I was dismissed. Many of us left in tears, myself included.

“We’d like to see Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Harry Styles.” my heart stopped, and I hiccuped as I saw the lads I had spent the week with put their suitcases aside and gape at each other.

“No!” I managed to say “No, we’ll just make some good tv. Five boys having a cry is what they want to put on national television.”

The boys nodded in agreement, but we were taken to the stage once more regardless.

“Instead of letting you boys go,” Simon Cowell says in a bored tone, his demeanor as serious as ever “We’ve decided to place you all in a group.” we look up wordlessly, it couldn’t be. “Congratulations, boys.” He smiles, he actually smiled. And we yelled, we hugged, we were strangers but the joy ran through our bodies making us jump and high five as if we had known each other forever.

The first weeks we were together were strange, for once I was no long Leigh’s Harry. I was Harry Styles, part of One Direction. Mates with  Louis, Niall, Liam, and Zayn. Contender for first place in the X-Factor. Week after week we were coming back stronger and stronger. I had the entirety of England in the palm of my hand, and that power in the hands of a group of sixteen year old boys is a very dangerous weapon.

Leigh had always told me she wasn't surprised that I had made it through.  But I was happy for a completely different reason. For the first time I had made friends that were not Leigh. I had been able to establish a brand new identity, one that was not dependent on the girl who had known me since birth. I stupidly found it refreshingly invigorating to be able to be Harry Styles, the boy with the voice that drove London wild. I had stupidly thought that my new found confidence was not thanks to Leigh, but to myself. I believed that I had finally overcome the shyness that had inhibited me from the beginning. And as we came closer and closer to winning the competition, I found myself the furthest I had ever been from Leigh.

“London, can we hear it for…One Direction!?”

The crowd goes wild, screaming everywhere. I smirk upon the stage, lifting a hand in thanks. My green eyes nervously looked from the audience to the camera, very aware our future was riding on these two final performances.

“Thank you boys, we’ll see you tomorrow night.”

The lights shut off and I was left in darkness once more.

The final three contestants, Rebecca Ferguson, Mike Cardle, and of course, our group One Direction were living the life. We were taken to movie premieres, we were introduced to celebrities, we even sang with Robbie Williams! We were as the commercials boasted the ‘best contestants the show had ever produced’. By this time, three months had passed. Although I had gone home, although I made a half-hearted effort to speak to Leigh every day, she knew that the chemistry between us was no longer the same. I was becoming too egotistical, my thoughts only revolving around  fame.  She had become suspicious of the amount of time I had been spending with other women, which  annoyed me more each and every day. Although it was understandable that Leigh would be suspicious, for we were now the most sought after stars in Britain. She watched week after week as women threw themselves at me, claiming love and devotion. I understood this, I knew she had a right to worry, but that did not mean that I liked it.

As I picked up the phone to call her, I felt nervous. I had made a habit of calling her an hour before we were to be on stage, I always claimed she was my good luck charm. It rang loudly and hoped for a moment that she wouldn’t answer

"Hello?"

"Hello, love." I answered robotically as she stayed silent "Leigh, how are you?"

"Fine." she answered coldly

"Why are you acting like this?"

She sighed, "Harry, I know about Caroline." I sighed because she couldn't possibly have known. In reality, there was nothing going on between us than a frivolous flirtation, there was nothing to know. She was our judge; she thought I was ‘cute’. There was nothing more. Not to mention the age difference. But I, being the imbecile that I was, had thought that Leigh’s jealousy was petty. It showed a side of her I simply found unbecoming.

"Leigh, I hope you aren't using information you heard from some tabloid in order to incriminate me."

"Harry, I want to believe you."

"Then believe me, you didn't have a problem believing in me before."

She sighs once more "Oh, Harry."

I put my  head in my hands and took a deep breath "Leigh, I have to go, I love you."

"Alright Harry, love you too. Good luck tonight, I know you’ll do fantastic."

“Thank you.”

“I believe in you Harry.” she had paused to take a breath before uttering the rest “I always will”

I hung up the phone as I the felt nerves overtaking my being. Leigh and I it seemed had reached our end.  

Louis walked in while I contemplated this fact. Louis took a look at me and worried about my pale demeanor.

"Mate, I’m not feeling so good."

Louis looked at me, worry across his face. "Harry, maybe you should get that checked out."

"It's just nerves, it'll pass." he said trying to reassure me. Louis only looked at me and patted my arm.

I thought it would pass. I thought that the pit within my stomach that slowly expanded outward would eventually revert back, that it would no longer fill me with a dread so weary it made my body feel as if it weighed a thousand pounds. As I saw the lights being focused onto the stage, the nervous energy within me fed into the large pit, only making my hands shake and heart beat faster.

I thought that feeling would eventually pass.

But as the bright lights shined even brighter, they were blinding. The feeling was still in the pit of my stomach. The uneasiness spread through my body. As I stepped on that stage for the last time, I prayed for the best. I locked eyes with Louis and Niall, both of the nodding and encouraging me. They smiled, and I tried to smile back, but the lights kept getting in my eyes, the heat radiated through my body.

Yet all I had kept hearing was not the crowd going wild nor the music starting to slowly play in the background, but Leigh’s voice telling me “I’ll always believe in you”.

We sang that night, with the entirety of our hearts. A sad ballad that marked the end of an era. Yet, it wasn’t enough.

We had lost.

Yet, instead of going back home defeated, we were sent back to management and were immediately signed to a record deal. No first place needed. An album, a tour, an adoring nation. The world in the palms of our teenage hands.

Needless to say, this marked the end of what once was.

–❈–

The last time I saw Leigh I  remember vividly. It was a month before we were to begin our tour. She was sitting on our grassy slope, where we had agreed to meet soon after I had arrived home. She was wearing a baggy dress and a large sweater. Her blonde hair in curls around her tired face. The warm breeze kissed our skin once more, but the magic was gone. I sat next to her silently. She looked towards the horizon, not bothering to look me in the eyes. "

Harry, do you want to be with me anymore?" I had been wondering the same thing. Things were not the same, everything was strained. It used to be so easy. My silence caused her certain unease, her hands shaking as she finally turned to look at me. "Harry?" her face was emotionless; her blue eyes had lost their luster.

"I don't know, Leigh." I finally stammered.

"Perhaps it’s best if we didn't try anymore. I don't want to get in the way of your career." I looked at the passing clouds, avoiding at all costs having to look at her. "I want you to be free, I want you to be happy. And if I can't give that to you, then by all means I hope you find it somewhere else." She gently arose and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "I will always love you Harry." I looked at her. I  looked at her as if it were the last time I ever would. I tried to memorize every etch in her face, how blue her eyes pierced my own, and how curly her hair was. But suddenly she was gone.

Gone.

Gone.

Gone.

–❈–

Shortly after our break up, my mother had informed me that Leigh had moved. Not leaving even a trace of her behind. She was unreachable, she was truly gone.

I gave it no thought. After fifteen years of friendship, after everything we had been through, all she wanted was a chance to start over once more. Although my  thoughts and my heart still lingered with her, I slowly started to try to fill her void. Alcohol, drugs, sex. Nothing seemed to work. Drunken hazes only brought back a stronger reality. A high could only last for so long. And one night stands were filled with lust, where I had desired love.

Reality had hit me hard. It took me long enough to realize that what I had truly needed was Leigh. She was the one who pushed me to where I am, she was the one who had always believed in me, even when I couldn't believe in myself. But it was too late to ask for her back, I couldn't even get a hold of her.

It was as if she had disappeared off the face of the Earth. 

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