KNOCKOUT - A Harry Styles FanFiction

This is the sequel to Dark by H28 from onedirectionfanfictions.com

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1. Chapter 1: Fresh Start

“Bo, you need to get up!”

The incessant knocking is hindering my effort of drifting back to sleep. I burrow deeper into the covers, eyes still clamped shut, blindly searching for a rogue pillow to possibly hurl. My body rolls to the left, toes coming into contact with the end of my bed. I’m halfway down the mattress and comfortable.

“Bo!”

was comfortable.

“Five more minutes, mum,” I groan.

Grabby hands pull at my duvet and pretty soon I’ve lost the tug of war. The victor stands with my bedding clutched to her chest, holding it hostage as I fail at reclaiming it. My eyes are just about adjusting before she rips open the thin curtains that cover the window over my cluttered desk. I flail around, attempting to curl into a ball.

“I am not your mother! And if you don’t get up now, you’re going to be late. AGAIN!”

Tiff’s eyebrows are raised expectantly as she stands over me and taps an impatient foot.

“What time is it?” I mumble.

My throat is dry and I feel like I’ve just stumbled through a desert. I should probably turn the heating down at night, but I love feeling bundled up when the weather is bitter.

“It’s quarter to ten.”

My eyes droop closed for a split second before the information settles and my body stiffens.

“Shit!”

I suddenly unfurl from my foetal position and nearly face plant in my rush to vacate the coverless bed. Odd shoes are objects to stubble over as I frantically collect items to use in the bathroom; toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, hairband.

Tiff stands still as I flutter around her, aware that if she wanders she’s a moving target for me to involuntarily body check. It’s better if she remains stationary.

It appears as though the kitchen is occupied; even the aroma of charred toast is enough to have my stomach grumble in complaint. But I don’t have time to eat. My feet stumble over pyjama bottoms that are too long in the leg as I make my way down the corridor. I can feel my chances of attending my morning seminar on time, slipping away as the closed bathroom door comes into sight.

“Nooo!”

I could almost sink to the floor in defeat; seconds are ticking by and I’m no further forward in my endeavour not to disappoint my lecturer again by my tardiness.

“Rob, get out of the bathroom, I’m going to be late!” I pound on the door.

I know it’s him because he’s humming along to a Miles Kane track. My room is next to his in our campus flat, and I’m treated to a pitchy rendition of “Arabella” nearly every evening (if he’s in). That is before Tiff comes storming along the corridor from two doors down to tell Rob, not so politely, to shut up.

“Maybe you should have gotten up earlier?” he suggests over the noise of the shower.

I want to strangle him.

“Thank you for your insightful opinion! Now get out!”

As a flatmate, he’s awful. I’ve never seen him take out the recycling, and there’s almost always a trail of crumbs from the kitchen to his room. I’m surprised he’s not infested with mice. But it’s not likely he’d ever know of their existence anyway, taking into account you can’t actually see his carpet under piles of unwashed clothes.

“Come on, Rob. I can’t go to another seminar smelling of bed. People are starting to sit away from me.”

Tiff’s still stood in my doorway, cackling about the situation unfolding in front of her. She disappears into my room for a moment before revealing herself once more, this time without the bedding she’d cruelly ripped from me.  She strolls down the hall, taking my wrist in her hand as she goes.

“Come on,” Tiff gestures.

Her room is immaculate, everything neatly ordered, folders and books lining her shelves. On her pinboard she’s stuck up a work timetable and social events, along with a few pretty chains of jewellery. A neat “to do list”, is blue-tacked over by her desk with a scary amount of bullet points crossed through. I can only hope that by the time I finish my first year, I’ll possess the drive to tackle my work pressure systematically and tolerate florescent coloured post-it notes. At least then I’d have some idea of deadlines and impending research.

There’s a Chelsea football club pillow on Tiff’s made bed which Rob continuously jibes her about. I’ve never really appreciated football as a sport, but the camaraderie between supporters is something I’ve witnessed many a time in the TV room in our block.

“Open,” Tiff instructs.

A piece of gum is popped into my mouth and I chew a couple of times before she scrupulously inspects my breath. She scrunches her nose before jamming another piece past my lips.

“Hey,” I pout.

She ignores me in favour of completing the task ahead of her; getting me up to a hygiene level satisfactory for sitting through a seminar. Not that it matters much as most of the boys look like they’ve just rolled out of bed; early morning or late afternoon, there’s not much difference in the state of their hair.

“Lift your arms.”

I’m in a vest top, a sports bra underneath. My armpits are given a pulse of spayed deodorant before she shoves a maroon knitted jumper at me. Once my arms are through the sleeves I’m instructed to keep the whinging to a minimum as Tiff yanks a brush through my hair. I take my mind off of the painful tangles by admiring her gap year photos plastered on the wall by her bed. She’s two years older than most of the freshers, and even though I’m only a year senior to Rob, we’ve taken on the reluctant responsibility of mothering him. God knows he needs it.

Tiff’s promised that once we’ve finished uni we’ll travel together. There’ll always be places she’s yet to visit and I want to go with her. It’s the motivation to get my arse into gear some days, to look at the pictures I’ve cut out of travel magazines, the inspiration to write just one more paragraph of essay before I collapse into my bed.

She’d joked about the probable size of my suitcase, the amount of items that I would deem necessary for travelling abroad. When I’d gestured to my overflowing stack of fictional novels she shook her head with a smile. 

“You don’t need to take your books, we’ll be on our own adventure.”

The onslaught of my knotted hair ceases and when I glance to the mirror I see that Tiff has taken it back in a ponytail.

“Do you think it looks alright?” I ask hesitantly.

I should have known that when I’d expressed an interest in changing my hair that Tiff would be all for it. You only need fleeting look at hers, rolled into dreadlocks and taken back with a headscarf. Her nose is pierced and I somehow liken her to a Persian princess, half Iranian with dark features and pretty brown eyes.

“You’re a knockout,” she grins.

It’s a dark blonde. I hadn’t had the courage to go full on platinum. My mum would have a fright if I returned home this weekend to discover the now shorter length, a dazzling blonde.

“James will love it,” she encourages.

“I didn’t do it for him.”

The reply is instantaneous and automatic; having programed myself to please only me. It’s not for anyone else; especially not for someone of the male variety. What I choose to wear, how I style my hair, what colour varnish I wear on my nails, it’s for me.

“I know,” she smiles.

Tiff gets it. As far as I understand, she’s never been one to conform, and I feel her unconventional style is rubbing off on me.

“Will you ever tell me about him?”

“About who?” I ask whilst applying balm to my chapped lips.

“The boy you left behind.”

His name doesn’t have to be spoken. Even with a fresh start he still manages to press against the cracking wall I’ve built to keep thoughts of him at bay. My stomach drops and any attempt to appear normal is futile. I’m pretty sure the colour has drained from my face and all I want to do is remove myself from the situation. I had hoped to forget him, but he’s still there; pleading with me not to erase all the seeming insignificant conversations and touches we shared.

“I didn’t…there was no-one..”

My inability to look her in the eyes sort of says it all.

“Bo, I’m not silly. My mum says I have a gift for these sort of things.”

“Of course you do,” I lightly laugh.

“I’ve seen you with James, when he comes and surprises you,” her voice is softer now. “When you turn around you look disappointed, almost as though you wanted it to be someone else.”

I swallow down the lump in my throat. I know where she’s steering the conversation, but I want to jump ship.

“The other boy,” Tiff concludes.

My mind allows me a fluttering glance into the memories I keep bunkered down. He smiles at me and I immediately abort the reminiscence, slamming that door shut and dead-bolting it. And I come to the conclusion that he’ll never just be another boy, he’ll always be the boy.

“It’s not important anymore.”

“Your lack of conviction says otherwise.”

Tiff’s sympathetic eyes and tone do nothing to settle my rattling emotions and I’ve never been more thankful to hear Rob’s cheerful voice.

“You do know you’ve got two minutes, right?”

He’s leaning against the door with his arms folded across his chest. There’s a toothpaste stain dribbled down the front of his clean shirt and a pair of joggers are twisted around his waist.

“Ugh.”

I shimmy passed him through the door, Rob raising his hands in surrender as if not to get in my way. The toast burning culprit emerges from the kitchen and I’m not surprised it’s the quiet American from the very end room. He acknowledges me with a nod to his head as I rush a “good morning” and briskly step around him.

There’s barely enough time to change into jeans and converse before grabbing my bag and barrelling down the corridor to the front door. It’s open and I’ve burst into a solely adrenaline fuelled sprint.

“We’ll have breakfast when you’re back!” I hear Tiff yell from behind me.

She’s stood with Rob who is now munching a packet of biscuits.

“Alright!”

I’m sure all of our loud, “early morning” communication has woken students in the next flat over, but they’ll have to deal because I’m going to be bloody late again.

 

“Run, Bo! Run!” Rob shouts through his cupped hands. 

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