Always and Never

Ariel Tanner believed that love was nothing but an illusion, a sick prank your brain pulls on you. But when she meets Harry Styles she begins to question everything she has put together about love. This frustrating boy was the only truly genuine person she'd ever met. How someone like him could even exist blew her mind. Harry, on the other hand, was amazed at how closed off Ariel acted. He made it his mission to knock down the walls she'd built around herself, because behind the flirting and the sarcasm, he got a glimpse of a girl that he wanted to become as close as humanly possible to. But did he really want to know everything behind those walls?

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41. Chicken and Rice

At another point in our packing session I watched as Harry opened the box of gifts Kate had given me for my birthday.

What, is this?” He grinned, holding up the Harry Styles bobble head.

“A scary looking doll?” I shrugged, a grin spread across my face. I bit my tongue to keep from laughing as he raised his eyebrows at me.

“I think he's quite a handsome lad.” He mused, holding it up to his head for comparison.

“It's definitely to scale...” I commented, not being able to stop my giggle this time.

“Ha! I have nothing to say back to that.” He snorted, shaking his head. We spent hours in my apartment, only filling up a few boxes each, but having so much fun messing around together. I'm sure my neighbors got irritated with us for being loud.

At one point, Harry was staring at a picture of my dad and I out fishing. He suddenly looked up.

“Could I pick your brain for a second?” He questioned, looking like he was deep in thought.

“Shoot.” I replied, prepared to answer any question he should have.

“This just occurred to me seeing these young pictures of you... But, do you want kids, when you're older and married?” He asked tentatively, sounding nervous. It was a strange question, completely random. I didn't mind though.

“I haven't really given it much thought, but I don't think I want kids. Maybe, when I'm in my thirty’s. But definitely not any time soon.” I answered thoughtfully. He just nodded, and then got back to work, filling boxes...

“Done...” I sighed, looking around at the very blank, almost depressingly colorless room. Harry wrapped an arm around my shoulders, giving me a light squeeze.

“Was that a happy sigh?” He asked.

“Yes, I believe it was.” I smiled. Relieved too, probably. He grinned back, leaning in to press his lips to mine.

“Who would have thought...” I muttered as we each carried down the last load.

“Who would have thought, what?” Harry asked.

“I mean, no one would have ever expected for me of all people, to be moving in with a boyfriend so young. I'd bet that most of the people who've met me think I won't ever settle down, let alone at 19...” I explained, being totally honest. 

“Well now you get to prove them wrong.” He grinned.

“I guess so.” I smiled in response to his. The last thing I had to do was pay my last rent, and return the keys to my landlord. That took only about 10 minutes, Harry waited patiently in the moving van. I skipped over to the passenger side and got in, smiling so hard my cheeks hurt.

“Now we go home?” Harry smirked.

“Yes. Home.” I answered, loving the sound of that word coming from my mouth.

“I have to return the van, but I'll get a cab back here and then would you want to go out to dinner?” He asked.

“No, actually. I'd like to cook something I think. I'll drive up to the store while you're gone.” I replied, thinking about meal possibilities.

“Sounds good, a homemade meal... I wasn't expecting that at all.” He smirked.

“Don't get too excited. I'm not saying I'm going to cook for you everyday, but today feels special.” I grinned.

“I'm excited for one meal. I'm not one to bother with actually cooking very often. The only time I eat real food is in a fancy restaurant or when I go to my mum's.” He chuckled.

“I think you'll like what I make then, it's a lot of work. It's really good. I didn't have a big enough kitchen to ever make it before.” I mumbled.

“A lot of work? That means it must be great.” He grinned, elbowing me lightly in the arm. I snickered, rolling my eyes. I unbuckled my seatbelt as soon as we were in Har- our drive. We unloaded the boxes in record time. Instead of unpacking them, we just set them in the entryway. Harry pecked my cheek before he left with the moving van.

Not long after he was gone I hopped into his Mercedes and drove to the nearest grocery store. I was going to cook this dish from memory, so I really hoped it will turn out at least edible. I threw ingredients in a cart as I passed them, also grabbing some food that looked too good to not buy. I was sure, based on how long I took at the store, that Harry would have beat me home. But he didn't...

I shrugged it off at first and began cooking dinner. I had to really think hard to recall the memories. They'd been put away for a long time... When I got time to, I began to worry about Harry. He'd been gone for an hour and a half. Maybe returning the van was more difficult than renting it... I knew that this assumption was absurd, but I ignored that. I'd sent him a couple text messages that he didn't answer, so when I put the dish in the oven to cook for an hour I called his phone.

“Uh... Hi.” He answered. His tone was strange...

“Hi, um, are you okay? You've been gone a while and I guess I got worried.” I began to blush, feeling silly. I shouldn't be concerned where he is, it's not like we're married or something...

“You were worried about me?” He mused. Yep, he was fine.

“Did I say that?” I asked.

“Oh yes, you did. Don't be embarrassed, Love, it's sweet.” He chuckled, quieter than normal.

“Is it really taking that long to return that van?” I prodded a bit.

“Uh... Actually no, I just saw a store on my way home and decided to stop in for a second. I suppose a second somehow turned into an hour... I didn't realize I'd been in here that long, I'll leave soon.” He replied, I heard a mans voice begin to say something then abruptly stop. I didn't make out what he said, and I didn't recognize the voice.

“No, no. Dinner won't be done for an hour or so, take your time if you're shopping. No need to rush decisions.” I laughed lightly. Harry was silent for a second, as if he was at a loss for words. What could I have possibly said to make him react like that?? I so wished I could see his face. To read his expressions...

“Okay then. I'll be home before dinner is done, I promise.” He responded finally.

“I'll see you in a bit.” I smiled weakly.

“Bye sweetheart.” He said warmly, then hung up. I sighed, deciding to curl up with my book again under a big blanket on the couch. I could unpack in the morning. Harry was right, he came home before dinner was out of the oven, but he just barely made it. By less than 5 minutes.

I'd been wrapped up in a different world, to busy in one of Stephen King's dream lands to worry about where Harry was anymore. To be honest it scared the crap out of me when he came through the front door. I sat snuggled up on the couch, waiting for my heart rate to slow down.

“You look like you've seen a ghost.” Harry commented, amused when he joined me in the living room. Despite the fact he'd mentioned stopping at a store he had no bags with him.

“Where's the stuff you bought?” I blurted out without thinking. A slightly troubled look crossed Harry's face, but then seemed to disappear as fast as it had appeared.

“I didn't end up buying anything.” He replied as I untangled myself from the giant blanket and made my way into the kitchen; where the timer for supper had just went off. Now why would he lie about not buying something? I knew he was lying, otherwise he wouldn't be so stiff. His smile wouldn't be forced, his dimples would be deeper. And his eyes... They would be soft, not worried.

Maybe he wasn't lying about not buying something, maybe he was somehow lying about something else... I decided not to say anything about noticing his fib. Subconsciously noting to watch him a bit more closely. I didn't believe he would ever do anything to hurt me but there was still that small part of my brain that automatically worried about it.

“Oh... Alright.” I said dumbly, at a loss for words. Heat from opening the oven caressed my face as I leaned forward to get a better look at supper. It looked done... I hope. I shrugged, I didn't even know if I made it right in the first place, if it doesn't cook quite right either it couldn't kill us.

“Mmm,” Harry moaned, “smells wonderful.”

“I'm glad...” I muttered, mostly to myself as I pulled on oven mits and got the hot dish from the rack inside the 400 degree oven. I sure hoped it tastes as good as it smelled... While it cooled a bit I grabbed out bowls and forks while Harry grabbed glasses and a bottle of expensive looking white wine.

He then disappeared from the kitchen, only after giving my ticklish side a small squeeze and laughing at my half-giggle half-scream reaction. I dished us both up and brought the food out to where Harry was. He'd extended the legs on the coffee table to make it taller then pulled it up to the couch. The two glasses sat on either side of the wine bottle in the middle of the table. Harry was halfway across the room, looking like he'd been on his way back to the kitchen. He grinned as he strode over and took one of the bowls from me.

“Now, explain to me exactly what this is?” He motioned to his bowl as we sat down, side by side, on the couch. I grinned, moving my food around a bit with my fork.

“It's a rice bake. Wild rice, white rice, chicken and mushrooms. My favorite as a kid.” I answered, taking a small bite. Mmm... Thank you Betty Crocker! I hadn't messed up too bad... It was good.

“So it's edible?” He teased. I playfully punched his arm and he laughed. I watched as he took his first bite. His face started out skeptical, but then changed to surprise, and then delight.

“This is delicious, wow, whoa...” He mumbled, his mouth still full. We didn't find much time for talking after that, Harry's mouth was too busy chewing. The fact that he liked my cooking so much made me forget his lie earlier. I couldn't be more happy with my first home-made meal, in our home. Harry went first for seconds, then thirds. After he emptied that bowl he sat, slumped on the couch with one hand on his stomach.

“Thanks babe, jeez, if you made that every night I'd weigh 300 pounds...” He laughed. I chuckled, finishing off the last of my wine before speaking.

“I'm glad you liked it." I smiled. I yawned quietly, realizing how tired I really was. 

"I think I'm gonna go to bed, goodnight Harry." I said, pecking his cheek.

"Sweet dreams Ariel, I'll be up in a bit." He smiled warmly. I felt his eyes follow me as I made my way up the stairs.

He didn't come to bed for about an hour, I know because I was still awake. Once I'd gotten to thinking about it I couldn't get my brain to stop worrying about why he'd lie to me...

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