As soon as Hope woke up the next morning, I made her change and get her shoes on. I had been up all night thinking and scared out of my mine of the discovery I made last night and, even though he was the last person I should talk to about this, I had to go see Liam.
Once we were at the complex, I sent her to Zayn's and told her to stay there or go to Niall or Louis's, but she couldn't come to Liam's. I knew that she could tell that something was up.
"Harry?" She asked, warily. "What's wrong?"
"Just...go. I'll be done soon," I said, closing my eyes to keep myself calm. "Please don't question me about this right now. I can't tell you, but...just don't worry and go see Zayn."
I knew I'd never be able to lie to her, so I had to say something. I couldn't tell her about this...it would ruin everything.
She nodded and stared at me for a moment before hugging me. I was hesitant to hug back, but after a second I wrapped my arms around her smaller frame and held her tight. Before pulling away she kissed my cheek and then ran off to Zayn's door.
I waited until she was inside to turn and knock on Liam's door. Usually I would walk right in, but I was too nervous.
As soon as Liam turned the doorknob, I pushed into the flat and walked straight into the kitchen. To may dismay, Danielle was sitting at the counter wearing a pair of boxer shorts and one of Liam's t-shirts.
"Hello?" She said, probably confused as to why I just barged in. Liam wore the same expression as he joined us after closing the door, only wearing his boxers.
"Dani, could you please give us a minute?" I asked. "I'm sorry, but I have to talk to Liam. Like, now. And alone. Hope's at Zayn's. You can go see her."
"Harry, you can't just kick my girlfriend out of my flat," Liam said, putting a hand on her shoulder.
At this point, my eyes were watering with frustrated tears and I would beg on my hands and knees to be able to let the words spit out, but I didn't want the whole world to know.
"Please, Liam," I begged, looking directly into his eyes, and hoping he would notice.
Liam raised an eyebrow. "Uh, Dani...I actually think you should go check on Hope. I think Harry and I need a minute."
Danielle stood up and nodded as Liam kissed her. She picked up her mug of tea and Liam walked her to the door.
"What's wrong?" Liam asked, coming back into the kitchen and looking genuinely concerned.
I shook my head, biting my lip and searching for the nerves to speak. "I...I...I...I like Hope!"
"I know," he said casually.
"No, I like her. Like, more than her just being my sister or my friend. I like her, like I would fancy a girl in school!" I shook with worry. Why was this happening? This wasn't right. This wasn't appropriate. There was absolutely nothing okay about this.
"I know," Liam said, again, just as casually, but this time he was smiling.
"What?" I asked, breathing heavily, wide-eyed.
Liam chuckled and said, "I know you like her. I've known for a few months now."
"What? You couldn't have known. I just realized it last night."
He laughed again. "You may have just realized it, but you've felt this way for a while. It's obvious. To me, at least."
"What about it?"
"The way you look at her. The way you touch her and hug her. The way you're always around her. You'd ditch parties to stay home and watch movies with her." Liam shrugged. "I don't think the other's know, but I like to keep myself updated on what's going on."
I sat down, feeling relieved that I had said it, but confused about...everything. "When did you first realize it?"
He sat beside me. "Honestly, I had my suspicions for a while. It was just me noticing a few lingering stares. Nothing really big that I was concerned. But the day that she got beaten up, not only were you way too over protective and worried, but something happened that night."
"Louis and I fell asleep on the floor and we woke up in the middle of the night. You and Hope were in the same bed and, at first, she was just using you as a pillow. Her head was on your stomach I think, but she moved closer to you and you put your hand on her arm. It wasn't anything big. I honestly thought that you were just being, like, a brother, even though I know that's the last thing you'd describe yourself as. Anyway, I didn't think much of it. But I kinda thought about it later on and, even though it was something so small, it was the way that you immediately reached out and touched her arm that made me realize that you liked her."
"Why are you so okay with this? She's your daughter." I continued to stare at him.
Liam shrugged. "I know. But when she was in the hospital, you refused to leave her side. You sat there crying for a week. Just devastated. We had to pry you away from the bed to eat. After you couldn't cry anymore, you sat there watching her and staring at her. You cared about her so much that I knew she would be safe with you."
A few tears leaked as the memories flooded back. "I thought she was going to die," I choked out. "I wanted to take in everything I could. I didn't want to lose her, but if I was going to, then I wanted to remember everything about her. I wasn't going to lose anytime with her."
"You love her, don't you?" Liam said, quietly.
I knew he meant that I love her more than family. I put my head in my hands, palming my closed eyes to try and push back the tears. Without answering his question, I looked up at him and said, "What is wrong with me?"
He put his hand on my shoulder. "Nothing is wrong with you at all. It's okay. This happens."
"I'm nineteen!" I shouted. "She's fourteen!"
"You've always been the one to say that age doesn't matter," Liam said. As I got mad, he continued to stay calm.
"It doesn't when you're in your 20's! She's too young to be with me," I said.
Liam sighed. "Harry, I understand that you care about her and I know you like her and probably want to be with her, but, yeah, now is certainly not the time."
"Then what do I do?" I shouted, feeling my voice strain as I tightened every muscle in my body.
"I hate to say it," he started. "But you have to wait it out. In maybe four years, something could happen, if you still want it to. Do you think you'd want it to?"
I shrugged. "I just figured out that I like her."
"Do you love her?" Liam asked again, raising an eyebrow.
I swallowed and nodded. "Honestly, yeah...I do...a lot."
"Good," he said. "That makes me feel good that she has someone as great as you for her."
I nodded and wiped my eyes. "But what am I going to do? What am I going to do until the time comes? If it comes..."
"I think," Liam said, looking up to rack his brain. "That...when the time comes, you should do something nice for her. Take her out for dinner or something romantic like that. Then just talk to her. Tell her how long it's been going on and tell her what you told me and tell her why you waited. Let her know how much you love her and then...hope for the best."
I nodded, staying quiet for a little while. "How do you think she'll react?"
"Honestly, Harry, Hope loves you. I don't think she realizes how much she loves you," he said. "I think she realizes that she has one of those teenage girl crushes on you, but she's happy just staying like this in life. I'm sure she's convinced that she'll get over it. She probably will. But she'll only stop obsessing over liking you. She'll still love you. She'll probably react in your favor."
I sighed. "Why haven't you punched me yet?"
He chuckled. "Because you're so ridiculously confused and it's upsetting to see you like this. Funny, but upsetting. And I'm actually happy that you're like this. It shows just how much you care and I know you won't hurt her. If you do, I'll beat you up and then bury you alive, but I really can't see you doing anything to Hope."
I smiled. "Thanks, Li."
"No problem," he replied, smiling. "Hope's done a lot for us."
I nodded. "We certainly owe a lot to her."
"Adopting her was probably one of the best decisions we've made and one of the best things that's ever happened to us."
Smiling and looking away thoughtfully, I nodded. "Agreed."