A smile covered my face as soon as I woke, Harry’s arm draped over my chest, snoring softly into his pillow. Soon the memories of last night trickled into my head. I pressed my lips together, using all my strength not to cry, to ruin this moment, but I couldn’t stop them. I let them escape, silently run down my face. Just the thought of losing Harry made me feel as though a claw was around my heart, squeezing so tight I couldn’t breathe.
“Morning, Rosie,” Harry muttered, his eyes half open as he grinned at me. I realised I had been staring at him with tears in my eyes. I forced a smile, blinking my emotions away.
“You feeling better today?”
I nodded silently, putting on another false smile.
“Good.” He planted a kiss on my forehead before shuffling back under the covers again, his arm pulling me closer, but it still didn’t stop my tears. My imagination pictured Harry battered, bruised and empty of blood as Samuel stood over him, wiping his mouth. I put my arm around him, pressing him firmly against me as tears ran down my cheeks. But Samuel’s words never stopped in my head, on a constant loop in my mind. And the honest truth was: I didn’t know how to stop him.
I silently pulled on my trackies and old top in the changing room of the boxing club. I kept my back to Harry, hiding the tears running down my face. Suddenly a pair of arms enveloped me from behind, Harry’s chin resting on my shoulder. I sniffed, my jaw aching with the amount of false smiles I’ve had to put on today. Harry didn’t notice, lacing his fingers on my stomach as he buried his face into my neck.
“You look hot in those trackies,” he whispered, his words trickling hotly down my neck. I just stayed silent, letting a genuine smile finally appear on my face for the first time since last night. “Come on. Let’s start.”
My chest heaved as I smacked my glove into the punch bag, letting all of my anger out. I grunted, sweat running down my temples. Harry stood on the other side of the punch bag, gripping hold of it as I hit it.
“Good,” he said, peering round one side of the punch bag. “Remember hit the bag with your knuckles when doing a straight shot, not the back of your hand or you’ll sprain your wrist.” I glanced at him before punching it harder, the noise echoing off of the walls. “Keep your distance, Rosie. Not too close.”
I shook my aching arms before taking a small step back, hitting the bag again. He grinned at me, giving me a wink before focusing back on holding the punch bag. “Remember to turn your body when punching to give you more power to the hit.”
I raised the gloves up to my face, stepping from one foot to the other before doing a straight shot.
“Turn your body, Rosie,” he repeated. I tried again but failed, the movement not feeling right. “Look, let me show you.”
I grinned as he stepped around the punch bag, gesturing me to move to the side. I rolled my eyes, but kept the smile on my face, stepping to the side. He stood in front of the punch bag, his left foot forward, the right behind. He brought his gloved fists up and motioned punching the bag with his right hand, twisting his upper body as he did so. I stared as his back muscles flexed, his broad shoulders moving slowly as he showed me how to punch. His voice was distant as I gazed at him from the side, a broad smile on my face.
“Did you get all of that, Rosie?” he asked at the end, meeting my gaze. I bit my bottom lip, weakly nodding as I took in his firm body under his tight shirt. He grinned back, rolling his eyes before walking back around the punch bag. I lowered my gaze as I shuffled back to the punch bag, heat burning in my cheeks.
“Come on, Rosie,” Harry laughed, resting his gloved hands back on the punch bag. “Remember the key is to focus.”
I eyed up the punch bag with my left foot forward, my right back to balance myself. I quickly took another blow, slamming my glove into the centre of the punch bag. I grinned to myself before trying again, Harry’s voice encouraging me to continue.
“How’s this?” I asked him. I pulled back, slamming my glove forward before swinging my other arm round, connecting it with the side of the punch bag.
“Good, but keep control of your bal-”
But before he finished, I jumped up in the air, doing a twist before kicking the side of punch bag with my foot. I knocked it out of Harry’s hands, a slapping noise erupting in the room. I landed perfectly on my feet, turning to face Harry again. Harry walked around the swinging punch bag, his jaw dropped so much it was almost touching the floor.
“Enough balance for you?” I asked, grinning at his shocked face. I crossed my arms over my chest as he slowly understood what he just saw, stepping closer to me.
“Woah,” he finally breathed, his sweaty body so close to mine. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
“There’s so much more you’ve got to learn about me yet, Styles,” I replied, punching him lightly on the stomach. “Now come on. Remember the key is to focus.”
He chuckled before nodding. “Yes ma’am,” he smirked, walking back behind the punch bag. I laughed before positioning myself the other side of the bag, raising my fists in front of my face, ready to continue.
The smile had never left my face since the training session. For a few hours I had forgotten what had happened last night, what Samuel had said about Harry. I could slowly feel my strength building and my power towards it getting stronger. A few more weeks, Harry said, and I’d be in full control of my abilities and we’d have that first, proper kiss.
We were lying down on the sofa together, Harry lying on the outside, me squished between him and the back of the sofa. We faced each other, our legs entwined, arms draped around each other. We talked about everything, training, my memories of when I was a child with my parents. Harry let his hand wander over my back, lightly tracing my spine. I couldn’t stop my eyes from flickering down to his lips, wanting to feel them tangle with mine so badly.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Harry muttered, biting his bottom lip. I groaned quietly, staring at his mouth.
“Don’t do that,” I muttered. “I can’t resist it.”
Harry laughed softly, licking his lips melodramatically. I snorted, hitting him on the arm. He tightened his arm around me, pulling my body closer to his.
“Do what?” he asked, groaning loudly as waggled his tongue at me. I rolled my eyes at him and pulled away from his grip, laughing at the face he was pulling. I shook my head at him before shuffling around so I was lying on my back, Harry’s chest against my arm. He snuggled up to me, his arm around my front. I stared up at the ceiling, feeling his head rest in the crook of my neck. He kissed the skin of my neck, making me shiver with warmth. He soon began nibbling on my ear.
“I promise you in a few weeks you can feel these lips on yours properly. Just give it some time,” he murmured into my ear. His breath tickled the inside of my ear, making me grin uncontrollably. I chuckled, letting my eyelids droop as I felt him run kisses across my jawline. But after a few moments, he pulled back suddenly. I turned my head to look at him, concern crashing into me.
“Are you alright?” I asked, my voice shaking with worry. Harry’s eyebrows were drawn together as he stared at me.
“Yeah,” he replied slowly. “I just can’t remember whether I locked the boxing club or not.”
I let out a breath of relief quietly as Harry pulled himself up into a sitting position. Silence grew in the room as he thought, rubbing his forehead as he tried remembering.
“Did you see me lock it, Rosie?” he asked, staring down at me.
I bit my lip, but I couldn’t remember. “I can’t remember,” I replied, shaking my head.
Harry jumped off of the sofa quickly, striding towards the door. I propped myself up on my elbows, my eyebrows furrowed.
“Wait, where are you going?” I asked as he swung the door open. He spun around, giving me a reassuring smile.
“I’ll be back soon. I just don’t like the fact that it’ll be unlocked overnight. I won’t be able to sleep knowing that. I’ll see you in about half an hour, okay?” He gave me a wink before shutting the door behind him. I laid back down on the sofa, sighing loudly up to the ceiling as I impatiently waited for Harry to get back.
*An hour later*
I paced up and down the living room, waiting for Harry to come back. I bit my bottom lip in concern until I cut it open, the skin soon healing over again. I shouldn’t have let him go on his own in the middle of the night. I sighed loudly before striding over to the window, peering around the curtain. I jumped suddenly as the outer door of the block of flats shut with a bang. I spun around, just happy that he had gotten back okay. I grinned widely as the door swung open and Harry appeared. But my grin slowly faded away as my eyes connected with his black eye. I gasped, staring at the state of his face.
“Shit, what the happened?” I asked, running over to him. He stepped back, closing the door with his back. He leaned against it, lowering his head.
“It-It’s nothing,” he muttered,
I ignored him, lifting his chin back up, angry tears appearing in my eyes. “Who the fuck did this to you?” I asked angrily, taking in his swollen eye and cut lip.
He shrugged silently, avoiding looking me in the eye. He was pressed against the door, his body hunched in shame. I could feel the anger building up inside of me, but if I let it out I would do something I would regret. I cupped the side of his neck, but he didn’t react to my soft movement, his gaze kept low in embarrassment. I let go of his neck and ran my hand down his arm until my fingers entwined with his.
I led him over to the sofa, sitting down as I tugged on his arm. He collapsed next to me, a heavy sigh falling out of his mouth. I shuffled closer to him, curling a finger under his chin and guiding his head round to face mine. I couldn’t help my eyes from flicking down to his sore lip, a drop of blood lingering by the cut. I swallowed hard as I stared at the drop, my skin tingling madly. Harry soon noticed, wiping his lip with the back of his hand. I quickly looked away, staring down at my lap as I waited for the warm sensation to fizzle away.
“I was mugged,” Harry eventually answered after a long pause.
I lifted my head back up, the blood now gone from his mouth.
“I didn’t see his face. He just pinned me against a wall, hit me and ran with my wallet.”
I placed my warm hand over his shaking one, stroking his rough knuckles with my thumb. It looked as though he had put up a fight, but lost. He went to bite his bottom lip, but winced as his teeth dug into the cut. I lifted his hand up to my mouth, planting soft kisses on his sore knuckles. I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt Harry’s teary eyes on mine. I cradled his hand in mine on my lap as watched Harry’s body trembling, his bottom lip quivering.
“He had a gun, Rosie. He pointed it at my head,” he sobbed, finally letting the tears escape.
“Oh, Harry,” I said softly, wrapping my arms around him tightly. He sobbed softly and winced, but he still turned his upper body and flung his arms around me. I cradled him to me with relief that he was here with me now. He was safe. I rubbed his back, my embrace tightening around him as he began to sob into my shoulder. I squeezed my eyes shut, but a constant thought refused to leave my head: Samuel had something to do with it.
I finally pulled back, smiling weakly at him as tears formed in my own eyes. I felt like this was my fault. I shouldn’t have let him go by himself, especially after last night.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” I mumbled. Harry’s eyebrows drew together as lines covered his forehead. “I should have come with you, not let you go out on your own in the middle of the night.”
Harry frowned at me, placing his spare hand over mine. “You didn’t know this was going to happen, Rosie,” he muttered, squeezing my hand.
Guilt flooded into me as I bit my bottom lip. I stayed silent, trying to stop the heat from rushing to my cheeks. Harry opened his mouth to question my response, but I jumped off of the sofa, my hand slipping out from between his two.
“I’ll go get something to sooth your cuts,” I blurted out.
Harry slowly closed his mouth again, nodding as I darted off to the bedroom. I soon found a rag and ran it under the tap in the kitchen. Suddenly a pair of arms wrapped around me from behind, his grip looser than usual.
“Is something troubling you, Rosie?” he asked softly into my ear.
I quickly spun around, the drenched cloth in my hand as I faced him, pressing myself up against the counter. I shook my head quickly before darting past him and over to the sofa. I sat down as Harry strolled back, silently sitting next to me. I curled a finger under his chin, resting my thumb on it as I gently dabbed at his swollen lip. He winced every so often, but I barely noticed, my mind distracted on Samuel’s words, his threats.
“Ouch,” Harry burst out.
I eased the pressure on his skin, mumbling an apology. I started dabbing again, but Harry’s warm hands wrapped around mine holding the cloth. He stared at me as he slowly lowered my hand, stroking my hand with his thumb.
“What’s wrong, Rosie?” he asked, his voice drowning in concern.
I stared down at our hands, Harry slipping his fingers between mine, the wet cloth resting on my lap. I wanted to tell him, I really did, but I wanted to sort out Samuel by myself. I didn’t want Harry getting involved in what happened last night. My eyes flickered back up to Harry’s worried face.
“Nothing,” I murmured, trying a convincing smile, but I knew Harry could see through it. “Anyway,” I murmured, grabbing the wet cloth and dabbing at his lip again. “Why didn’t you take your bike tonight?” I asked, glancing up into Harry’s eyes before focusing back on his lip.
“The engine’s dead,” he replied, barely moving his lips when he spoke so I could sooth them. He winced before continuing. “It’s weird ‘cause it was fine getting back from training today.”
I just nodded, my accusations of Samuel growing by the second. Silence grew thick between us as I kept my eyes focused on the old rag. I could feel Harry’s warm eyes on me, never letting go. His hand was soon over mine again on his lip, stopping me from dabbing.
“Let’s go to bed.”
Harry refused to sleep on the sofa tonight, saying he wanted to protect me as I slept. I told him I should be the one protecting him after tonight, but he insisted he’d look after me. He waited right outside the door as I changed, telling me to yell if anything happened. I smiled to myself as I heard him yawn loudly from outside, his body weight against the door making it creak.
Once I was in my pyjama bottoms, I strolled over to the door, noticing a new lock nailed into the wood. I swung it open, Harry almost falling into me as I did so. I pushed him back up, laughing as he spun around, flashing me a cheeky grin. He slipped his hand into mine and led me back into the room. I got into bed as Harry shut the door, a loud clicking echoing in the room as I slid under the covers. I watched in silence as Harry strolled to the window, locking that as well.
“What are you doing?” I asked, propping myself up on my elbows as Harry wandered to the bed, climbing in next to me.
“It’s just in case someone decides to pay you a visit again.”
He slid under the covers, opening his arms for me to slide into. I shuffled closer, Harry’s strong arms embracing me as he rolled onto his back. My ear was pressed against his chest, letting me hear his steady heartbeat as I laid out on top of him. I felt a smile relax on my face, snuggling into Harry’s muscled chest as I let my eyelids droop. I felt him kiss the top of my head, rubbing my back as he let a sigh fall from his mouth, his chest falling heavily under my head. “Love you, Rosie,” he mumbled.
“Love you too, Harry,” I murmured before accepting the sleep that was beckoning me, feeling so safe in Harry’s arms.