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?


39. Mum

I counted backwards from 10 silently in my head, attempting to calm myself. The waiter showed up before I could open my big mouth and say something to ruin the lunch before it even started. Thank you Mr. Waiter.

“Coffee.” I ordered.

“Green Tea.” My mum said, a friendly smile touching her lips. Ha, it can smile! The waiter left then, my mum had no idea he just saved the get together.

“Harry seems like a nice boy...” She commented to break the silence. I hated how she said seems, like she thought there was still a very big possibility that he was not a good person. Maybe she thought that just because he was dating me... Then how she said 'boy'. She said it like she was referencing a middle school relationship. I bit my tongue.

“I'm in love with him.” I nodded.

“But Ariel, you're so young...” She trailed off.

“Does Christianity forbid love before 20 as well?” I snarled without thinking. The alarm on my mother's face at my sudden outburst was almost funny. I leaned back and took a deep breath. In. Out. My temper is under control. (That was a lie.) 

“I apologize. I meant to say, why do you think I'm too young to be in love?” I questioned with fake calmness. Let's just say acting is not my forte...

“I suppose I phrased it wrong. I didn't mean to say that you're too young to think that you're in love, I meant that it is unusual for someone your age to actually find love.” She explained. Wow Mum, much better...

“I didn't want to fall in love. I really didn't, but it happened. Everything with Harry feels different. He's the closest friend I've ever had, and then there's those extra feelings that you can't explain. The spark when we touch or even just make eye contact... How only his voice can make me feel better on my worst day... If that's not love then I don't know what is.” I made the longest speech I've ever uttered in front of my mother, not calm, but not steaming anymore. She sat there, silent for a moment.

“Okay I believe you. You are practically describing how it felt with your father...” She muttered. I was shocked for a second, she just agreed with me. Without criticizing or anything.. Whoa.

“So when did you meet him?” She asked, smiling kindly.

“About a month ago.” I answered, smiling down at my hands, “I'm uh- I'm moving into his house this weekend. Our house, I guess now...” I added.

“That's amazing Ariel. Did I interrupt that?” She questioned. She had to be faking this, the happiness. The woman sitting across from me was not my mother. She was... human...

“Well... Kind of... We didn't really have a plan for today, we just knew we were gonna move some stuff.” I replied. Despite my worry, the conversation didn't go down from there. Surprisingly my mum and I chatted like for an hour or two. No yelling or anything... Obviously I didn't tell her anything personal (other than the whole love thing, that was only said to prove a point). I only told her things I'd be willing to tell a coworker. It was still mind blowing...

“Wow, it's almost two. Ha! I'm going to be late for a meeting...” Mum mumbled the last part, then made the sign in the air for a check at the waiter. He nodded and disappeared around the corner.

“I know, time, uh, flies doesn't it?” I replied as she got out her wallet.

“I've got it.” She offered.

“Could we go dutch?” I asked, pulling out my wallet as well. With me working and Harry never allowing me to pay when we went out I had a little extra cash. Also I wasn't going to have to pay rent soon, and Harry's-almost our- house was all paid off. I suppose I'll have to help with insurance... But that's still less than rent in London.

“No, it's no big deal.” She shook her head. 

“Then I'll leave the tip.” I insisted.

“Sure.” Mum agreed, smiling.

“So, uh... What I really wanted to say today was that, I'm sorry. I-” I began the apology that I'd planned in only the past half an hour. Before that I never would have dreamed of ever apologizing to my mother. Mum interrupted me, making me believe that she totally hasn't changed...

“I forgave you a long time ago. None of it was your fault. I would have reacted in the same way you did under the circumstances. I apologize, for not realizing that I was making you like that. I want you to know, that I love you. No matter what.” She finished, reaching across the table to rest her hand on mine. I got choked up, unable to say anything back.

She didn't wait for me to respond, she simply paid the bill, and stood up. I threw down a note from my wallet, then stood up abruptly. Before my mind began to work again I threw my arms around her, holding her tightly. She just stood there for a few seconds, her arms hanging at her sides. I worried for that short period of time, that she'd reject me, that I would remove my arms and she wouldn't have moved. When she finally wrapped her arms around me, she did so gingerly. As if I was the most breakable thing on the planet.

“Thank you Mum.” I whispered, tears beginning to stream down my face. She backed up, wiping them away with her thumbs, cradling my face in her hands like she used to do when I was little. It only made me more emotional.

“Shh. Shh. Sweetie. Stop. There's no reason to cry. Shh.” Mum soothed. I shook my head, pressing my face into her shoulder as she stroked my hair. It was too much. Way too much. I felt like a child again, vulnerable. I hated it.

“Stop. Honey, calm down. Shh. I need to go, I need to go to my meeting. I promise I will call you later okay? You, Harry, and I will go to lunch sometime, soon. Now stop crying.” She mumbled. I nodded, beginning to take deep breaths. I wiped away the last of the tears, standing up straight.

“Take care of yourself. Keep me updated on you and Harry.” She smiled. I nodded, laughing lightly through the tears. I clamped onto her hand on the way out of the restaurant.

“Goodbye mum.” I said quietly when we were at Harry's car in the parking lot.

“Is this yours?” She asked, looking at it with wide eyes.

“No, it's Harry's...” I answered, shrugging.

“Wow... When I went to buy my car a few months ago this was the most expensive one at the dealership...” She said in awe.

“Oh. Well, he's got a good job...” I stated dumbly. You could say that, I suppose. Though it's quite the understatement.

“I'll say... Bye sweetie. I had a good time.” She smiled kindly, turning and walking back across the parking lot to her car.

I drove home, still in shock at what happened at the lunch that I expected to turn out in a disaster. When I walked through the door I immediately heard the loud TV in the living room turn down and bare feet hit the wood floor.

“Babe! How'd it go? I assume by the duration it went well, am I right?” Harry was grinning as he whipped around the corner. He wore only sweatpants, standing shirtless in front of me. Normally, I would have made some sarcastic remark about his appearance, but I was too shaken.

“Ariel, have you been crying?” He began to panic.

“It was kind of unreal. A dream. We just talked. Like normal people...” I explained as he came closer and wrapped his arms around me, I was pressed up against his warm, bare torso. I traced one of the birds on his collar bone with my index finger.

“She was totally reasonable. About you, about us moving in together... About everything.” I continued.

“So you cried happy tears?” He asked hopefully.

“I broke down in the middle of a crowded restaurant... But yes, happy tears.” I sighed, causing goosebumps to raise on Harry's skin.

“Good, that's good.” He chuckled into my hair, “I made some phone calls while you were gone.” He added, I knew he was grinning now.

“About what?” I questioned, leaning back to look at him.

“I rented us a moving van. I thought that I'd get a cab to the rental place and bring it back here for us this weekend.” He replied, his dimples becoming deeper and deeper.

“I don't have that much stuff Harry, we could just drive two cars.” I said. All the boxes should fit in his Mercedes and my Volvo combined... It's not like any of the furniture was mine.

“Well, I thought that this would feel more official.” He stated, disappearing around the corner, coming back impossibly fast in jeans and a t-shirt.

“You change clothes faster than me!” I laughed. How was that even possible?? His pants were so tight!

“It's a gift.” He smirked, “I'll be back in 20 minutes.” He promised as he stuffed his wallet into one pocket and his phone into the other.

“Okay. I'll be here.” I sighed, slipping off my shoes and walking barefoot to the living room. I heard the front door close and lock, and I was alone in the huge house...

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