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?


27. Nutty (Long)

I got changed, irritated now that I didn't bring my contacts. I hated wearing these things.

“Hello beautiful. Are you getting as hungry as I am?” Harry appeared out of no where after I left his room. My stomach grumbled in response. “I'll take that as a yes.” He laughed, pecking my cheek as my face turned red.

“I suppose I didn't plan the eating part of the date...” I muttered.

“That's fine, it's my specialty.” He grinned.

“Yeah, it takes a lot of skill to burn a pizza.” I smirked.

“That was one time, and you happen to be here. I swear I've never done that before.” He insisted.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I snickered. He laughed, giving up on convincing me of his side of the story.

“So stubborn....” He mumbled.

“I'm won't deny that.” I agreed.

“Do you care if we go out? There'll probably be people there by the time we're finished....” He trailed off.

“People? For what?” I smirked, pretending to be confused.

“Haha very funny. If they ask you questions you don't need to answer if you don't want to, and there's a small percentage of fans that may dislike you. But if any of them are there, just ignore everything they say, they don't actually mean it.” He read my expression as he spoke. I wasn't surprised. They were crazy teenage girls, I was one once. Hell, I'm still one! 

“That's fine.” I agreed. He seemed taken aback at my response for a second, but didn't say anything of it.

“Where are we going?” I asked as he opened the front door for me.

“What are you in the mood for?” He asked.

“Hm...” I took a moment to think, “There's this tiny burger place in the middle of nowhere about a half an hour from here that's really good.” I suggested. 

“Sounds fantastic.” He smiled. We each got in his car and I told him when to turn in order to get there. I fussed with my glasses often, annoyed. I should have brought my contacts!

“You look lovely with glasses.” He commented when we were stopped at a stop sign. He took the hand that was pulling at my glasses and moved it to sit in my lap.

“I disagree. Plus they're extremely annoying.” I answered, resisting the urge to adjust them again.

“Just because you disagree with me doesn't mean you're right.” He said, turning into the small parking lot of a tiny-hole-in-the-wall burger place.

“I suppose...” It didn't mean I wrong either, “But we don't need to argue about whether I look good in glasses or not. Let's go in.” I grinned. I got out of the car before he could respond. He held the restaurant door open for me, then followed me to the counter to order.

“Hi, welcome to Zup's burgers.” The girl behind the counter recited, sounding bored. Her eyes almost popped out of her skull when she saw who was behind me, “H-How may I help you?” She asked, shaking her head like she thought she was losing her mind.

“Uh, I'll have a number 4 with a coke.” I answered, then looked at Harry who was reading the menu that sat on the counter.

“A 7, also with a coke.” He ordered, smiling at the girl. She had to catch her breath. I held back a laugh.

“Th-That'll be 5 pounds.” She stuttered. Harry handed her his credit card before I could get cash out of my purse. I looked at him with my eyebrows raised. He knew exactly what I was thinking. The girl handed me a number thingy to put on our table, then we went to sit down at one of 3 small tables that filled the place.

“You can't pay every time we go out.” I said quietly.

“It's no big deal. Plus, you bought me that amazing outfit.” He insisted, a grin lighting up his face. I was about to argue further when someone walked through the door, I looked over Harry's shoulder at the person.

“Shit.” I hissed looking down at the table attempting to hide me face. I should have known better than to come here! What the hell was I thinking?!

“What?” Harry demanded, turning to look behind him at the person who'd upset me. He turned back to me, still confused.

“That's my nutty aunt. She's an exact copy of my mother, maybe worse. She lives in America so she must be visiting my mum. That means there's a good chance my mum could be here too!” I whispered.

“She probably won't recognize you.” He tried to assure me.

“I hope not.” I mumbled. I listened as Aunt Emma ordered enough food for 2. Mom must be waiting in her car outside or at the house. Where I grew up isn't far from here. She waited while they prepared it, and before her food was done the waitress brought Harry and I our food.

“Here you are. Enjoy.” The waitress smiled.

“Thank you, Love.” Harry smiled back. I swear the girl almost fainted, but she managed to stumble away. I was about to tease Harry about that when the crazy woman who was my aunt shouted my name in surprise and shock. Fuck! 

“I haven't seen you in FOREVER!” She exclaimed, running over to our table. I wished more than ever that Harry had his arm around my waist to support me. I hated that woman.

“Aunt Emma, hi!” I forced a smile.

“Who's this?” She asked, eyeing Harry.

“Harry.” I answered, irritation leaked into my voice. Harry shook Aunt Emma's hand.

“I'm happy to see you've finally settled down with someone.” She smiled. Settled down?? Panic suddenly flashed in her eyes, “You're not pregnant are you?” She exclaimed. The few employees in the restaurant were now staring at us. Okay, I was done being friendly.

“No. But I'm glad you think so highly of me.” I snapped, standing up. I got my food and left the building as she watched me, unable to say anything more. Harry followed quickly behind.

Drive. If mom's in her car she'll get out if she sees us.” I ordered. Harry did as I said, his food sitting in his lap. “I'm so sorry about that. I can't believe she actually assumed... I mean, I'm not that bad, am I?” I asked, feeling pain take over my body.

“No, no. That was rude of her. You're a good person Ariel. Don't ever doubt that.” He said sternly. I nodded, nibbling on one of my fries. I was a bad person. I deserved for my own mother to hate me. She was always right, I probably am going to hell...

“What are you thinking?” Harry asked quietly.

“I'm disagreeing with you.” I answered honestly, instead of lying and reassuring him. I was suddenly exhausted.

“Fine, I'll prove it to you. You must answer all my questions honestly, no matter what.” He said.

“I accept.” I agreed.

“What did you do when you explained your family to me?” He asked. I had a feeling that this was going to become very unfair, very fast.

“I cried.”

“Do bad people cry because they care about their family?”

“No, but-”

“Nope, no buts. Now, if you don't mind me asking, do you remember who you lost your virginity to?” He interrupted me. I was silent. I remembered everything. His name, when and where... (it was horrible) In fact, I remembered every guy I'd ever been with, even if they didn't tell me their last names. I nodded when Harry looked at me for an answer.

“Bad people don't care about that Ariel. Bad people don't care about anyone but themselves, and I know for a fact that you care about people other than you. And I know that you put others before you in most situations, even though you shouldn't.” He concluded.

“Thank you Harry.” I whispered as he pulled into the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store. He only nodded. We each unbuckled and turned in our seats to face each other while we ate. 

“This is really good. We'll have to go there again, just maybe in disguise.” Harry grinned, halfway through his meal.

“I'll have to do a better job if I don't want Auntie to recognize me again...” I sighed.

“I thought your work earlier was quite impressive.” He complimented.

“Flattery will get you no where with me.” I smirked.

“Really, Love? I don't believe that.” He said.

“Okay Love, believe what you want. I'm just giving you future advice.” I teased, laughing lightly. He chuckled. We chatted as we ate, then put our baskets on the floor in the back. Yeah, we stole the little food baskets from the joint. I'm sure they won't miss two... Harry moved over to share my seat with me. His arms snaked around my waist.

“You're so beautiful.” He whispered, pressing his lips to my jaw. “And smart,” He added, kissing my nose, “And funny.” He then pecked the corner of my mouth.

“Shut up.” I breathed, kissing him before he could continue, we went on for a couple minutes, but then I stopped. Realizing exactly what he just did. I huffed a laugh, smiling down at my lap.

“Flattery sure got me somewhere.” He teased quietly. Almost to second base... Damn.

“I suppose it did.” I nodded slowly, After a few moments of silence I spoke again, “Now let's go home.” I realized what I just said, so calm, nonchalant. Like we lived together or something. He moved back to the drivers seat, probably not giving a second thought to my words. I overreact to everything, don't I?

“I called Simon, and talked him into letting us off early on Monday and Friday, but other than that I'm going to be in the studio from 7 am until 10 pm.” Harry said distractedly, sounding like his mind was on other things.

“There's a movie coming out on Friday that I kinda wanna see, but on Monday I don't know...” I said.

“How about we just hang out at my place. Make food, have a Netflix marathon or something?” He grinned at me.

“That sounds good.” I agreed. We drove to his house, making easy conversation. I loved how natural we were. Like the closest friends.

“Wait! I almost forgot to give you this.” He exclaimed as I was about to get in my car to go home. He held out my father's ring. I stared at it for a second before I took it from him, placing it on my right hand. My grandmother's ring still on my left. That must have been why Auntie thought I was 'settling down'!! Again, over thinking, I thought, maybe I liked the rings on our left hands for a reason... I shoved the thought away before I could carry it to far.

“Thanks, uh. I'll see you on Monday.” I muttered, still distracted. I drove home, having to make a real effort to pay attention to the road. I called Kate on my way up the stairs, asking her to come over. She agreed, looking forward to trying a new hair trick on me. I paced across my small apartment, not feeling like I was incapable of sitting down. Kate arrived quickly, smiling.

“You're wearing your glasses...” She giggled lightly. I didn't respond. When she closed the door I ran up and caught her in a hug. I closed my eyes tight, about to explode.

“Ariel?! You sounded fine on the phone! What's wrong?!” She exclaimed, moving us over to sit down on my bed.

“There's something wrong with me.” I shook my head.

“Nothing's wrong with you sweetie, what are you talking about?” She asked, concerned.

I can't. I can't, I can't. Kate I'm losing my mind. I'm losing my fucking mind!” I replied. Pulling away and starting to pick at my jeans.

“Right now I can't disagree, but why do you think that?” She questioned.

“I can feel myself slipping away. I'm not me anymore! It's freaking me out!” I whispered.

“Is this since you met Harry?” She asked suddenly.

 I thought for a moment, “Yeah.”

“You're not going crazy. But you'll figure out what's going on soon. I promise.” Kate grinned.

“Okay...” I sighed, now calmer after venting. If Kate doesn't think I'm going crazy than I can't be, right?? Now that I was calm Kate and I proceeded like normal. Annoying my neighbors with our giggling, forgetting about everything but our food and bad jokes. It was nice. But not as natural as with Harry. I didn't focus on that though. At around 3 am Kate happened to ask about him again. Truly curious, not asking just because she felt she thought she had too.

“Is he a good kisser?” She grinned.

“Very. Like nothing I've ever experienced. Electric...” I explained.

“Wow... You know you only feel sparks with one person in your life, right? You can't fake electricity.” She stated. Kate and her myths... It was kind of amusing actually, her theories on love.

“I'm only 18 Kate, there's plenty more guys out there to have sparks with.” I scoffed. My heart ached at my own words. I ignored it.

“So you're planning on breaking up with Harry and seeing new guys?” She raised her eyebrows at me. All my insides screamed at me. No! No!!

“No... I don't think I could leave him...” I muttered.

“Why is that?” She asked. I fell silent for a while, staring down at my hands. Kate didn't speak again, waiting for my answer. I was hoping she'd change the subject to break the silence. I knew the truth, but I didn't want to say it. I had to admit it to myself sooner or later... Why not now? With Kate, my friend?

“I love him.” I whispered. “I'm in love with him.” I repeated, louder. Kate's smile looked permanent. She threw her arms around me.

“Oh my god Kate... I'm going to get hurt so bad.” I whispered, tears welling up in my eyes and spilling over.

“Why would you get hurt??” She exclaimed, not letting go of me.

“Love always hurts you. It's bad, it's so so bad. So bad, that when I even think about never seeing him again it hurts!” I cried, staining Kate's white shirt with tears and makeup. How could I possibly be stupid enough to let myself fall in love??

“No! Sweetie! That's a good thing! You've found your soul mate! Not many people can say that! Be happy!” She reassured.

“Soul mates are a myth! I'm such a naive idiot! What if he gets sick of me, or mad or something and leaves?! I'd be a wreck!” I exclaimed.

“He won't.” She answered simply. I sniffled, not sitting up for a while. I needed the comfort from Kate. We didn't chat much after that, falling asleep quickly. What could I say? She stressed me out...

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