The Christmas I Turned Pretty

'After a long and boring three-hour drive, our car is finally driving down the familiar snow-covered streets. I gaze out of the car window at all the little shops I know so well. We are finally back in Holmes Chapel. Back home.'
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Summer spends every year longing for the winter or more specifically, Christmas.
Every year she spends two and half weeks in The Lodge with her family and the Styles'.
But this year everything is different.
This year, Summer has turned pretty.
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Inspired by Jenny Han's book 'The Summer I turned Pretty'. Cover (c) Shilo

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4. The Charmer

I never saw that blonde girl again – the one who kissed Harry when I was fourteen. After that day she just stopped coming round. Now, two years later, as the snow around me starts to numb my body, I can't help wondering whether she loved him. Did she hang on to every look, to every word that he said to her? Did the simple act of hearing his name make a hundred butterflies erupt in her stomach? And how did she feel when whatever she had with Harry died? Did her heart break into a thousand little pieces? Or did she not care? Perhaps Harry was just as much a winter fling to her as she was to him.

 

I don't know why I find myself thinking about that girl. Maybe it's because of the look Harry gave me today; the look that brought back haunting memories of my desperation to try and understand him. But I don't think I'll ever understand Harry. He has always been a complete mystery. He can make you feel as if you know every inch of his personality but then suddenly he can do something and he seems completely uncharted.

 

I look down at my fingers, startled to see my usually tanned skin replaced with a bluish colour. I guess I have been out here a lot longer than I had originally thought. But I don't have the energy to even sit up, let alone the energy to walk all the way home.

 

But part of my doesn't care. Despite my fear of the words and the numbing coldness, I would prefer to stay out here than to face Harry and the boys again. I feel that if I go back, Harry has won. He knows how much I hate the woods and he also knows how sensitive I am to the cold. But me staying out here is making a point that I desperately want to prove: that he doesn't have control over me any more and that I can, and will, go where I want, when I want.

 

~*~

 

Age 15

 

“You're not going, especially not in that.

“Really? Watch me.” I yelled back at him. “And last time I checked you're not my dad... or my boyfriend.” I slammed the door behind me and stopped down the porch steps.

 

I heard the door click behind me but I carried on walking. As far as I was concerned the conversation was over.

 

“Come back here, Summer. I meant it.”

“Nope. You're not the boss of me, remember?”

 

I felt the heat of his breath on my neck as he pinned me against the car. How he caught up with me that quickly, I don't know.

 

My heartbeat quickened as Harry's face intensified.

 

“Don't go. Stay...With me.” He whispered gently, surprising me by the sudden softness of his tone.

 

His lips softly grazed my own before locking eyes with me. The urgency in his jade eyes made my heart beat even faster.

 

Harry wanted me to stay with him. And that made me feel special, wanted... enchanted.

 

“Okay,” I whispered back. “I'll stay.”

 

Harry's lips instantly broke into a grin as he laced our hands together, leading me back into the house.

 

~*~

 

My blood instantly boils at the memory. How could I have been so stupid? All it took was for Harry to say some sweet things and to leave a kiss on my lips for me to do whatever he wanted. I was under his spell and somehow he reeled me back in even when I was sure that I had gotten over him. But now, as I think back, I know that he no longer has that power over me. I'm tired of always being there when he wants me but him never coming through for me.

 

The sound of crunching snow makes my eyes snap open. They're here; the wolves have found me.

 

I slowly, and painfully, survey the area of empty snow in front of me. No wolves. Or bears. Or vicious animals.

 

Maybe I'm going crazy from the cold and I made up the whole th- crunch. Oh my God, I'm going to die.

 

“Get up, we're going home.” Harry speaks roughly to me.

 

I try to muster up enough energy to heave my shivering body off of the floor but to no avail. Harry sighs as he scoops me up into his arms and I squirm at his touch.

 

“Stay still.” He snaps.

“I didn't ask for your help.” I snap back in between shivers, glaring at him from my position in his arms.

“I know you didn't because you're too stubborn. But if I leave you here you will probably freeze to death so please, don't thank me.” He replies sarcastically.

 

I only reply with a huff because deep down I know he's right; I probably will die in this wood if Harry doesn't carry me home.

 

He carries me with ease through the wood but then again he has had a lot of practice. But this time I'm not lovestruck by being in Harry's presence; I'm resentful. I would have loved to be around Harry this much a few years ago but now, when I'm finding him impossible to be around, it seems like I can't even breathe without him being there.

 

“Look,” he starts. “I'm sorry for snapping at you before. It's just you've been sort of different lately and it's been- it's making me- I don't know. Just....sorry.” He whispers gently.

 

I pause for a moment. Did Harry really just apologise? In the fifteen years that I have known him, I can only remember about two occasions when he has apologised to me.

 

“Don't look too surprised,” he chuckles. “I am human ya'know.” That earns a laugh from me and suddenly the air feels lighter, clearer. The cloud of tension and awkwardness has been lifted.

 

As soon as Harry carries me into the house my brothers and the mums swarm around me, rambling about how worried they were about me. Both Anne and my mother run into the bathroom to run me a steaming hot bath as my brothers tightly wrap me in dozens of blankets. Harry goes into the kitchen and puts the kettle on to make me a hot chocolate.

 

“We thought you went back to the house...and when you weren't here we had no idea what had happened to you...” Matt admits quietly, wrapping one of his arms around me.

“What were you thinking?!” Will snaps. “You could have gotten yourself killed.” His stern tone softens almost immediately as he joins me on the sofa. “I don't know what I would have done if-” His words hang in the air, unfinished.

 

He's right; I could have gotten myself killed. If Harry hadn't of found me... well, I wouldn't be here now.

 

“I'm sorry,” I choke out. “I just- I had to get away.”

“We know,” Matt says. “Just please, never do it again.”

 

I offer them a half-smile. It's weird having my brothers caring for me so much. I know we don't hate each other but we've never been an affectionate family. Hugs are rare – only being given out when a family member dies or occasionally on birthdays and Christmas. The sudden intensity of their care for me makes me realise how serious it was, how close I was to becoming seriously ill... or worse.

 

I hobble into the bathroom, the feeling in my body slowly coming back. I peel off the layers I was wearing and hop into the bath. The water is the perfect temperature – hot enough for my muscles to relax but not too hot for it to be uncomfortable.

 

I lie there indulging in the feeling of heat returning to my body. I watch the steam rising from the shampoo-stained bath water, happy to be finally warm. My eyes land on the blue hoodie I tossed carelessly on the floor – Liam's blue hoodie.

 

The realisation hits me harder than a slap in the face. I did it again. I let Harry charm his way back into my heart. He only apologised for snapping at me, not for all of the tears on my pillow, all the heartbreak, all the times I have felt like I wasn't good enough. But somehow that was enough for me. I got caught in the moment and let myself laugh at his jokes and forget all of my anger towards him.

 

Once again, Harry has won.

 

 

 

 

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