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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29. Dinner

Dad and Gemma are gonna be at Mum and Robin's tonight, so I thought we might as well join... Unless that makes you uncomfortable, then we can just go back to my place.” Harry replied, nervous now. I could tell he really wanted this, but he didn't want to push...

“No, no. We should go to dinner with your family.” I forced a small smile.

“Are you sure?” He asked.

“Yes. One hundred percent.” I lied. A huge smile broke out on his face, lighting up the car.

“They'll love you.” He promised.

“I sure hope so...” I mumbled, sinking down into my seat a little more as we drove past his street. No turning back... Now I wished I was wearing my glasses so that I had something to fidget with. I ended up fixing my clothes or hair every 15 seconds. Harry caught my arm after a while.

“You look incredible. I promise they won't bite you.” He smiled kindly.

“Well that's a relief...” I joked in an attempt to hide my nervousness. I knew he didn't buy it, but he didn't push the subject either. We drove for longer than I expected, finally pulling into the driveway of a house that was somehow big and cute at the same time. Harry turned to me, a delighted smile on his face. He was happy to be home. Who wouldn't be? Oh yeah- me!

 “They have no idea we're here. It'll be fun to watch the expression on my mum's face. Don't worry, just be yourself. I know if you're the same you that I fell in love with, then they will too.” He smiled, his dimples disappeared as he realized what he just said. Holy shit. Holy shit. I decided to pretend that I didn't notice. Fuck fuck fuck. Not the fucking 'L' word!!

“Okay, I'm ready. Be myself, and they won't bite.” I grinned. On the inside I was freaking the fuck out. Like a full blown panic attack. Harry hesitated for a moment before moving, trying to read my expression I think, like he always did. I kept up my perfect facade of coolness. He got out of the car first, coming over to the passenger side to open the door for me when I didn't get out. I was too busy taking deep breaths and trying to slow my heart rate.

He said he loved me, so I should hold his hand, right? I decided that I should. I gripped his hand on our walk to the door, then even tighter when he rang the bell and footsteps began to approach. It was both sad and funny at the same time how surprised he seemed to be that I was holding his hand. Harry's mum answered the door, throwing her arms around his neck as soon as she realized who stood before her. Like she didn't even see me. Thank God...

“Harry! Oh I've missed you! We've all missed...- who's this?” She asked, puzzled, staring right at me. I smiled nervously and stuck my hand out for her to shake. She took it, a slow smile spreading on her face. She was beautiful, it made her even more intimidating.

“It's her, isn't it?” She mused, turning back to her son.

“Yeah.” He grinned, giving my hand a little squeeze.

“I've heard a lot about you, Ariel. I'm Anne.” She introduced herself. She's heard a lot about me, huh? I grinned, sneaking a peek at Harry. His cheeks were pink. Anne moved out of the doorway to let us in, then closed the door behind us. “I made a big supper. There should be plenty.” She said, hurrying off to the kitchen.

“Mm... It smells wonderful.” I mumbled. It was true, the entire house was filled with mouth watering scents.

“It does. This smell would make anybody hungry.” Harry smiled, taking off his shoes and leaving them at the door. I followed his lead. We walked, Harry in his socks, and me barefoot, into the dining room. A man was adding two chairs to the table where another man and a girl who looked to be close to our age already sat. Anne was setting out extra plates and silverware.

The table was already overflowing with delicious looking food. She'd made a chicken, with bread rolls and peas. Along with a fruit salad that looked like it couldn't be more fresh. I hadn't had a homemade meal in years... I stopped eating what my mum made and lived off canned items for a year or two even before I moved out. Just to piss her off, you know, that's why I did most of the things I did.

“Looks wonderful Mum.” Harry complimented. She pecked his cheek before disappearing into the other room once more.

“Harry, is this your new girlfriend that you told me about?” The young woman asked from the table.

“Yes. This is Ariel. Ariel, meet Gemma, my sister. Robin, my step dad. And my dad, Des.” Harry motioned to each person as he said their names. I could remember that. Gemma was the one who picked out clothes for me when Harry set up the painting date. God, she was beautiful too....

“Hello.” I smiled, offering a small wave. The man who'd been setting out chairs, Robin, sat down. Anne returned, taking a seat beside him. Everyone smiled at us. Harry led me over to sit down, he sat beside his mum, and I sat in between him and his dad.

“Everybody dish up.” Anne smiled. Each food item got passed around, I took some of everything to be polite. 

“How've you been?” Robin grinned at Harry.

“I can't complain.” Harry answered, grinning back.

“Do you live in London, Ariel?” Gemma asked.

“Yeah, pretty close to Harry.” I answered.

“Nice, so you see each other often...” She smirked, it looked identical to her brother's.

“Yes, we do.” I nodded, meeting Harry's gaze. Our smiles widened, only for each other, and then returned to normal when our eye contact broke.

I adored Harry's family. No one acted like they thought I wasn't good for their son\brother. My relief at that was indescribable! I cleared my plate, despite my dislike for peas, again being polite.

Everyone chatted for at least an hour after all the food was gone. I mostly listened, the majority of the time only speaking when asked a direct question. It was fun though. Heart warming, to see a happy family together like that. My favorite part of the whole night was seeing Harry so incredibly happy... 

It made me wish that my family hadn't turned out how it did. The dinner made my family look a lot shittier than I'd ever thought... I was sure Anne wouldn't be ashamed of me even if she knew everything that my mother knew about my past! Well... never-mind.

It was quite late by the time Harry dropped me off at my apartment. When he pulled up to the front of the building he didn't unlock the car. I looked at him, puzzled. He had something to say. I unbuckled and turned to face him better. I was prepared to listen to whatever was bothering him.

“I had a good time tonight. Your family is delightful. I wish I had the same relationship with my mum as you do with yours...” I smiled, breaking the silence.

“They all adored you. Uh...” Harry seemed to be thinking hard again.

“What's wrong?” I asked. He'd better not be lying that they liked me.

“Erm... It's nothing really... It's just, what I said earlier... You seemed not to notice, but I was wondering if you did...” He fumbled, trying to read my expression in the dark car. My smile faded. Should I be honest or should I play dumb again? Safe, keep it safe...

“N-no, what did you say?” I asked, forcing my eyebrows together, pretending to be confused. Harry's face fell.

“Oh, well then, never mind then, don't worry about it... Goodnight.” He forced a smile, completely unconvincing. Guilt climbed quickly up my body, starting at my toes but soon engulfing me completely.

“Night.” I replied, escaping from the awkward car and jogging up to my apartment. I laid in bed for a long time, regretting my decision to lie to Harry. I eventually fell asleep, but it was a restless, uncomfortable sleep...

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