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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20. Me...

Harry lifted me into the basket of the hot air balloon, though there was no need, it had a door, which he climbed in through. 

“Where'd you learn how to run one of these?” I smirked as he prepared everything.

“I got a guy.” He shrugged.

“You learned how to operate a hot air balloon so that you could have a romantic date with me?” I asked. This boy...

“I didn't have to rent a hot air balloon to have a romantic date.” He scoffed.

“I agree, you could have done a lot of other things, but the fact that you went above and beyond...” I trailed off, a lump appeared in my throat, making it hard to talk. Nobody has ever done anything like this for me- taken time to do something that will make me happy. Nobody has ever cared about me that much. Not even my own mother... I bit down hard on my bottom lip, trying my hardest not to cry. I refused to cry in front of him!

Harry was too wrapped up in his work to notice the unwelcome tears that fell down my cheeks. I felt as we began to lift into the air. I turned so that I wasn't facing him, so that he couldn't see my face. His arms wrapped around my waist as we watched ourselves leave the ground. He rested his chin on my shoulder, inhaling deeply.

“Now don't tell me you're afraid of heights.” He chuckled, pressing his lips to my jaw. His fingers suddenly came up and brushed against my cheek. 

“Are you crying?” He asked, confused.

“No.” I lied, wiping all evidence from my face.

“Why are you upset?” He asked, worried now, “You aren't actually scared of heights are you?” He turned me around to face him and pressed down on my shoulders, making me sit across from him in the basket.

“No, no. It's just nice to have someone who cares about me...” I smiled, more tears coming, making me look weak. Making me look like someone I wasn't. I was the opposite of weak.

“Don't be silly Ariel. I'm sure loads of people care about you.” He insisted, taking both my hands. I shook my head.

“Kate? Your parents? Siblings? Have you got siblings?” He suggested.

“No siblings. Maybe Kate...” I trailed off.

“All of us go through times where we don't see eye to eye with our parents but I'm sure they love you more than you think.” He forced a smile.

“I know my dad loved me...” I said quietly. Sadness filled Harry's eyes as he stared at me.

“Ariel...” He breathed.

“It's fine you didn't know.” I muttered.

“I wouldn't have brought it up... I-I'm sorry.” He said quickly, nervous. I thought for a moment.

“Not to damper the mood of your amazing date, but would you mind if I told you about, well, me?” I asked hesitantly. 

“Not at all.” He insisted. I didn't know quite where to start. I've never told any body about my life... No one. Not even Kate.

“Well, my dad passed away when I was 11. He was a dentist, he didn't let me eat sweets except on Christmas.” I smiled faintly, “He was the only person I could ever really talk too... He just went in for a check up one day, but they found something...” I whispered the last part. Harry squeezed my hands to try and comfort me.

“My mum... She's a whole different story... After my dad died, I kind of lost my mind. I went out with a lot of guys. Did some under age drinking...” I winced slightly before continuing, “I- uh, I used to wear probably half the amount of fabric I do now... My mum, she's very religious, old fashioned I guess. Like late 1800's old. The kind of person who thinks you save yourself until marriage, never show skin above the knee, and if you're not perfect you're damned to hell.” My voice turned bitter, dark. I attempted to lighten my tone for Harry's sake. But I couldn't. I hated my mother, and there was no way I could be polite about it. 

“So the day I turned 18 I moved away, because my own mum was ashamed of me. And I haven't talked to her since. For almost a year.” I finished. And it's been the best year of my life.

“I don't think she was ashamed of you. I think she just didn't know how to talk to you.” Harry mumbled.

“She introduced my cousin as her daughter to her coworkers. Like if they saw me, even if I wore the world's prettiest dress, they'd know I was a slut and judge my mum for it.” I bit my lip again. How did I find this out? I saw the whole thing from the kitchen door, and did I make a scene? You could say that...

They were in the kitchen, having a cup of tea. I stripped down to my underwear, and walked to the fridge, pretending to be drunk. I even ended up sitting in my cousins lap, offering her a drink out of the orange juice carton I held. I'd never seen my mum so mad. Oh, she raved and ranted at me for hours. And you know what? I don't regret it. I'm proud. She tried to replace me. What I did was nothing compared to that.

Harry looked pained. I saw he was at a loss for words. But the thing that made me like him even more, and made me want to never let him leave my side, was that there was no pity in his eyes. My pain hurt him. He didn't look down on my problems like I feared he would.

“What if we talk to her together?” He offered quietly.

“Are you serious??” I asked, stunned at his offer. My eyes prickled once again.

“Yes.” He said it like a question, thinking he may have struck a nerve.

“You'd really do that for me?” I murmured, my voice broke.

“Of course I would.” He nodded, confidence returning. I leaned in and hugged him with all my strength. I worried for a second that I may be hurting him, but he didn't protest.

“I've never told anybody about my family. Not even Kate. Thank you for listening, and caring.” I whispered into his ear.

“Of course I care. Silly girl. My ears are free anytime.” He whispered back. I gave him one last squeeze, then let go.

“But I don't want to speak with my mother.” I sighed.

“Whatever you want. Now, how about we enjoy the view.” Harry suggested, smiling. I grinned back, standing up again, and looking out around us. We flew over Britain, over the beautiful country side. It was absolutely incredible... Harry rested his hands on my waist as we flew, watching the sunset before us. The horizon had exploded in orange and red flames, like the sun was protesting.

“It's beautiful...” I breathed.

“Not as beautiful as you.” Harry whispered against my ear. I laughed lightly.

“That's very sweet of you, curly.” I smiled.

“I'm glad you think so. I've been waiting to use it all night.” He laughed.

Harry had to land the giant thing before the sun was completely gone. We landed about a half a mile away from where we started. We laughed and messed around as we made our way back to the hill.

“Race you to the top.” I grinned. He winked at me before we could both begin speeding up the incline. I won, probably because his pants were skin tight.

“Loser has to kiss the winner.” I laughed when he arrived.

“I'm glad I lost.” He smirked, walking over to me. He surprised me by the force that he used when he crushed his lips to mine. I could feel the longing in his kiss. That feeling suddenly overwhelmed me. The one that just appeared when Harry was around. It had never been that strong before! I pulled away from Harry, panicking. He held me in his arms, thinking my rapid breathing was from the kiss.

“It's getting really cold.” I said quietly.

“Okay, let's go.” He smiled, helping me up. He drove me home, and was planning on picking me up in the morning.

I ate part of a new bag of gold fish before I went to sleep, stressing about what had almost slipped out of my mouth up on that hill. When I finally did decide to go to sleep, I crashed...

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