“I’ve got a surprise for you,” Harry murmured into my ear.
I groaned sleepily, rolling over onto my other side on the bed, my back to Harry. I felt his arm snake around my waist from behind, tugging me back into him. I let out a little grunt, feeling Harry’s hard chest pressed to my back. Soft kisses trailed along my shoulder and neck, eliciting a wide grin from me.
“Wake up, Rosie,” he murmured, nibbling softly on my ear. His raspy morning voice sent shivers of warmth through my body. I peeled my eyes open and turned my head to face him, gazing at him through hooded eyes. He stole a quick kiss from my lips, grinning at his own cheekiness.
“You don’t have to keep doing things for me, Harry,” I mumbled, burying my head back into the pillow. “You’ve done so much for me already.”
“But I enjoy it,” he protested with a smirk, squeezing my body tightly. “Now come on. Get dressed while I make breakfast. Then we’ll go.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but Harry quickly jumped off of the bed. I rolled over, watching his bare back muscles expand and contract as he paced towards the door. I smiled broadly at him, bringing the covers up to my chin. He swung the door open, softly humming to himself.
“I love you,” I called out suddenly, propping myself up onto my elbow.
He spun around, amusement sparkling in his orbs.
“Good. Now get dressed,” he laughed before the door shut behind him. I rolled onto my back, my mind spinning as I tried working out what my surprise was.
I clung tightly onto Harry as we sped out of town. The roads soon became unfamiliar to me, filling me with anxiety.
“Where are we going?” I asked into Harry’s ear.
“Somewhere important,” he replied quickly before focusing back on the road ahead of us. Within minutes we were speeding down a motorway. I started to hate this. Harry’s cheekiness towards the surprise has disappeared, but I trusted him. I’ve never really liked surprises after my parents’ passing, meaning I’d have to rely on someone. I held Harry’s waist in constricting tightness, closing my eyes so I didn’t have to watch the world go past us. But with each foot we drove, it took us further away from my comfort zone, the warm flat. The thought brought me dread.
We were on the road for a while, Harry remaining silent throughout most of the journey. I tried to force the secret destination from him, but he was having none of it. He’d give me small hints to shut me up for a few moments, but they didn’t help towards my thought of this place we’d arrive to soon. It only caused more confusion.
I had my head resting on Harry’s back when we finally stopped. My head lifted up, eyes scanning the area around us. Then my gaze hit my surprise. My jaw dropped, heart stopping dead in my chest at the sight before me. My arms weakened around Harry until they fell limply from his waist.
“Surprise,” he muttered, turning around to face me.
He climbed off of the bike, taking my hand in his to help me off. But I couldn’t tear my eyes from the building above me, the field around us. Once I was on my feet, my knees buckled, my legs crumpling under me. Harry quickly caught me, his arms around my waist from behind. I shivered madly, tears trickling down my cheeks.
“W-why?” I finally whispered, my back pressed to Harry’s chest. “Why would you bring me back here?”
“I’m sorry, Rosie,” Harry spoke sensitively. “I thought it might help with the meditation we did yesterday. It might bring back some memories.”
“Why the fuck would I want to remember my life in this house?” I yelled, pulling my body from Harry’s embrace. I spun around so my back was to the house, but I could feel their eyes on me, staring down to me from the windows, their fists ready to beat me. Harry weakly reached out to me, but I took a shaky step back, keeping my arms across my torso.
“Come on, Rosie. I’m here with you. The place is abandoned. I’ve checked. Please, just trust me.”
“I’m not going in there, Harry,” I told him bluntly. “This was the worst place I’ve ever lived in. I came out of that foster home believing I was going into a safe environment. I told you yesterday how horrific this place was. I was beaten here by that man claiming to be my dad. I hated every second in this God forbidden hell hole!”
“But you told me something else yesterday, Rosie. You told me of the one place that would keep you calm in this house,” Harry spoke.
I let my eyes droop, muscles deflating inside of me. I felt Harry’s strong gaze focused in me, knowing exactly what I was going to say.
“The roof,” I finally muttered, glancing at the top of the house over my shoulder.
“I understand this must be hard for you, Rosalie,” Harry continued, curling a finger under my chin to turn my head back around, “and I realised you weren’t ready yesterday, but you’re gonna have to take a step towards this, baby, not away.”
My hand was taken in his, tugging my body closer to his own. He held me securely in my arms, rocking us gently from side to side.
“I know you can do this, Rosie,” he whispered into my ear, arms tight around my waist. “I’m here for you.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, my chin resting on Harry’s shoulder. The gentle rocking motion calmed my fears, my shaking body.
“Let’s do it,” he murmured, tenderly pulling me back. His hands squeezed my arms, his left eye dropping into a wink. “Let’s climb up to the roof.”
“Got it?” Harry strained to ask.
I jumped up, landing heavily on my stomach. I grunted with the force, taking the breath from my lungs. I shuffled fully onto the slanted roof, Harry pushing at the bottoms of my feet to help me.
“Yeah, I’m up,” I called back, pressing my hands into the tiles either side of my body to haul my torso up from the roof. On my hands and knees, I crawled back to the edge of the roof, smiling weakly down at Harry stood on the conservatory roof below me. He raised his arms up, fingers wiggling up to me.
“Help me up, will ya?”
I reached down, gripping his hands tight in mine.
“Ready?” I asked.
He nodded quickly, pressing the bottoms of his feet into the wall in front of him. I straightened my back, groaning with the effort as I tried hauling Harry up to the roof with me. He dug the toes of his shoes into gaps in the wall of the house, his face scrunched up as I pulled him up. He soon hooked his knee up on the slanted roof beside me, his cheeks red with the effort.
A grunt was forced from Harry’s mouth as, with one final pull, he hauled himself up. He deliberately fell into me, his chest crashing to mine. I tumbled back, Harry landing heavily on top of me.
“Oops,” he muttered with a cheeky grin.
I rolled my eyes before pushing him off. He left a sweet kiss to my cheek before sitting up beside me. But as the moments of silence passed us, I felt myself begin to curl up in a ball. With my legs up to my chest, my chin resting on my knees, my thoughts travelled back to the life I once had in this house. Harry’s presence was distant to me as I gaze upon the gorgeous view of the city. It hadn’t changed, each towering building lit up, the sun peeking out from behind the blocks. I released a shaky breath, letting my emotions swell in my eyes.
My body jumped suddenly, a strong arm embracing me, fingers clinging to my side. I let my eyes fall closed, resting my throbbing head on Harry’s shoulder. I nuzzled my face into his neck, the memories of this horrific place flooding my mind. Every single day was torturous. I felt so alone, so distant from everyone else.
I didn’t realise Harry’s hold had finally released from me. I lifted my head up from his shoulder, gazing at him through my tears. Harry’s touch landed on the back of my neck, gently bringing my head closer to him.
“What happened here, Rosie?” he whispered.
I swallowed the hard lump lodged in my throat, lowering my gaze to his lips.
“You really want to know?” I asked, my voice trembling with each word falling from my quivering lips.
Harry nodded with certainty, gripping hold of my eye contact. I sunk my teeth into my bottom lip, glancing into Harry’s sure eyes, silently encouraging me to continue my story. I took a deep breath and did just that.
“When my parents were killed, I lived with a neighbour for a few weeks. But that didn’t last long. I was sent into this foster home…”
“I remember,” Harry muttered. “The campfire.”
A relieved smile broke out on my solemn face, silently thanking him for not letting me relive those days again. A warm arm snaked around me, tugging my trembling body into his warmth and security.
But the smile soon faded from my lips, forcing myself to continue what I had to say. My heart ached in my chest at the memories, the moments flashing in my head. I scrunched my face up in pain, my eyes squeezed closed. Harry clasped my side softly with his curled fingers, softly brushing his nose against mine. I cursed under my breath, feeling, reliving those awful years in a flash, paining me worse than ever before. My head fell to his shoulder, a sob emitting from my mouth. Harry embraced me tighter.
“You don’t have to do this, Rosie.”
I shook my head, bringing it up from his shoulder. My eyes grew sore as I blinked, shaking my head vigorously.
“No. I want to,” I muttered.
Harry’s stunning features creased into a worried frown. I nodded nonetheless, needing to get this off of my chest once and for all. I groaned, trying to focus my mind on where I was. After the campfire.
“I was found by the lake. All I remember is sobbing beside the water, Samuel’s words still in my head…”
“This isn’t a dream, kid. It’s real.”
“…I was crying, in shock at what had just happened. My first kill. I’ll never forget it. When I was found the social worker carried me back to the campfire. After that day the bullying just got worse. But I finally managed to escape it. After living in the foster home for years, I was finally adopted. I lived here in this very house with the family that had adopted me. I felt loved for the first time since my parents’ deaths. I was so grateful that someone had taken me away from that horrific place and those kids. I thought I’d finally escaped the daily beatings from the kids in the foster home. But it was no different here.”
Harry pressed his forehead on mine, his hand sneaking up my neck to weave through my hair, but I barely smiled, nibbling at my bottom lip to suppress the sobs building in my chest. I tightened my arms around my legs, gently pulling away from Harry’s touch. His hand left my hair, running his fingertips up and down my bent back.
“Nick,” I blurted out, my entirety shuddering at the words, “my ‘father’. He beat me. A lot.”
Harry’s touch stopped suddenly on my spine, pressing his palm into my back. He rubbed my back soothingly as I turned to face the view once more, refusing to stare at the empathy in his eyes.
“Then there was Jake,” I mumbled, each word slowly making me feel more open, more intimate with Harry. I’d never told anyone my story. But now I wanted to. “I was made to call him my brother. He didn’t shy away from harming me either.”
“Rosie,” Harry whispered. His curls brushed at my ear as he mumbled into my neck. I instinctively tilted my head to one side, Harry’s plump lips caressing my skin. It was comforting, soothing, what I needed. I inhaled a deep breath through my nose before continuing my story.
“Then there was Niall,” I mumbled.
Harry’s lips grew stationary on my neck before he pulled back. I straightened my head, resting my chin back on my knees. I relaxed at the thought of his name, a childish grin spread over my face.
“Who was that?” he mumbled.
I never tore my eyes from the gorgeous sight, grinning at the warm feeling emanating from my stomach.
“My first love,” I muttered. I buried my face into my arms around the top of my bent legs, awkwardly coughing away the sobs. “I really did love him, Harry.” Sobs began to erupt from me. Harry rubbed my back tenderly, finally understanding. “He was the escape to my horrible home life. We’d meet whenever I got angry. He’d calm me. He understood me. But the last time we met I went insane.”
Harry understood what I meant, an arm snaking around my back. He tugged me into his warmth, cradling my trembling body.
“I suppose I’d better start from the beginning,” I muttered. Harry nodded silently to me, urging me to begin. I inhaled deeply, my eyes flickering back to the view. “I was right here when it started…”