The sun warms the tree house when my eyes flicker open. Standing next to the wall with a measuring tape is Harry. He doesn’t seem to realise that I am awake so I lay their silently watching him as he measures the holes in the walls. A lot of work seems to have been done since yesterday. I can’t quite figure out how all of I was done without me waking up. Some of the larger holes in the wall now have what looks like window frames. I guess it saved Harry a lot of money to use the holes as windows plus, it looked like it seriously lightened up the place. The window frames must have been cut here because I can feel the sawdust creeping up my nose.
Suddenly, I sneeze. Harry turns his head around and smiles at me.
“Morning Lainley,” he smiles.
“Hey,” I mumble.
He holds out his hand for me. I grab it and he helps me up.
“Come on. I’ll take you home so you can shower. We’ve got a lot to do today.” Harry says.
“Hang on, I just have to check my parents’ schedule. I don’t want to go home if they’re not at work.” I pull my phone out of my pocket and pull up the photo of their schedule I had taken, “Alright, cool. They should be at home. I highly doubt they’ve even noticed that I’m not still at the hospital.”
A text pops up on my phone screen. It’s from my mum.
Sweetie, where are you? Your father and I are worried sick. Please come home.
“Harry, we have a problem. Mum and Dad are waiting for me at home. I can’t go there. They’ll make me go back to the hospital.”
“Oh crap.” He pauses. “I’ll get you in, don’t worry. Anyway, pack up all your stuff. I don’t want to leave anything valuable here, I haven’t put the door on yet.” He gestures towards the small door leaning against the wall that I hadn’t noticed. Harry starts to walk towards the door carrying full grey backpack. I shove everything I care about into my backpack and quickly follow Harry out of the tree house. By the time I step out of the door, Harry has almost reached the ground so I follow after him. He catches me from the ladder before my feet. My feet touch the ground silently and Harry releases his arms from around my waist. His car is sitting under one of the larger trees and he beckons me over.
“Jump in. I’ll drive you back to your place. I’ll help you sneak through your window if you need me too. Get in, grab one change of clothes, and get out,” he says. I nod and get into the passenger side.
The interior of his car is black leather and my skin sticks to it. I don’t know why it sticks to my skin because its cold until Harry chucks a towel at me.
“I spilled a drink when I was driving here yesterday. Sit on the towel,” he chuckles.
I quickly pull myself up from the seat and stick the towel in place. I slide in easy after that and the leather no longer sticks to my skin. He jumps in soon after me and sticks the key in the ignition. The car starts up and it lurches forward. Harry points to the GPS and asks me to put in my address. I do as he says and once I’ve typed in the address, Harry starts to drive. He seems shocked at the distance, as I ran to the tree house from home with a head injury. The car rumbles through the streets and Harry and I sit in the car in silence. It’s a comfortable silence and I am grateful that I can do this with him.
We pull into my house street and Harry slows down. We drive until I beckon him to stop a few houses down from my house. I unbuckle my seatbelt and jump out of the car. Neither Mum nor Dad’s car is in the drive way and I silently hope that they gave up and went back to the hospital. Because I don’t know if they are home, I sneak through the side gate of my house. Luckily the window to my bedroom is on the side of the house and I am thankful that my parents didn’t buy a house with a second level. I pull the flyscreen off of the window and push the glass back. When I am in my room, I can’t hear my parents but I still sneak. I sneak over to the door and press my ear up against the cold wood. It sounds pretty quiet on the other side so I push the door open a little bit and peak through the gap. The house is empty. Thank god, I think. Harry is still waiting a few houses down so I hurry up and pack a bag full of clean clothes. My gut fills with worry over my parents and how they’re dealing with not knowing how I am so before I leave the house, I grab a piece of paper and grab a pen from the pen cup that sits on the bench. I write down that I love them and I am safe. I can’t tell them where I am because I am not ready to come back. I sign off with a few hugs and kisses and leave the note on the bench so it is visible and hurry back outside to Harry.
He sees me coming and starts to drive towards me. I hop in and off we go. Harry lives back towards the tree house but instead of turning around and heading back, we keep going in the direction we are already going. I wonder where we’re going but I stay silent because the atmosphere in the car is satisfying. After driving for what feels like hours, Harry pulls into a small service station. It’s the only building visible for kilometres on either side of the road.
“Stay here for a second, Lain,” he says quietly. He takes the keys out of the ignition and its starts to get cold. I feel the boot of the car slam shut and Harry shows up and throws a blanket at me. I thank him and pull the blanket over myself and I feel instantly warmer. Harry shuts the door after opening the petrol hatch. I didn’t think we were running low on petrol but I guess Harry knows what his car needs. I feel the hatch close and watch as Harry rushes into the building to pay for the petrol. He comes back out with three bouquets and a bag full of food. He opens the front door and gets into the car. The flowers get placed gently on the back seat and the bag of food gets placed on my lap. I look through the bag and find a large box of hot chips. Harry shoves his hand in the bag and pulls out a bunch. He winks at me and grins.
He looks super cute until he shoves the chips into his mouth. He grins at me even wider and grabs the keys and starts up the car. We drive for about another half an hour when we pull onto a dirt road.
“Close your eyes,” Harry says. “Don’t open them until I tell you to, okay?”
I nod and close my eyes. Harry brings the car to a stop and I feel him get out of the car. I hear a rustling and then I feel the passenger side door open. He pulls me out of the car and links his arm with mine. The cold wind blows on my neck and throws my hair up around my face. I reach my hand up and push my hair back. I know it’s useless because the wind will just blow it back but I do it anyway. The grass slides under my feet and I cling to Harry to stop myself from falling over. We come to a stop and Harry pulls me closer to him. His arms is tight around my shoulder my arm hangs loosely around his waist. Harry hands me what feels like flowers and tells me to open my eyes.
My eyes flick open. In front of me sits Gemma’s grave. Harry untangles his arm from my and places the flowers on the ground in front of the headstone. I quickly do the same. It’s very quiet. The sound of the wind rushing through the grass and the trees are the only audible noises. Tears fill my eyes fast and I wipe them on my sleeve. Harry does the same.
We stand together at her grave for a long time. It’s dark when we decide it’s time to go back. Shivers run down my spine. It got cold out here very fast. Harry leads me back to the car and I jump into the car and notice that there are still flowers sitting on the back seat. I wonder what they are for but I don’t ask Harry in case he really doesn’t want to talk about it. The blanket Harry threw at me earlier is now sitting on the floor. I grab it and pull it up over my shoulders. Harry jumps in the car and leans into the back seat. He turns around to me and chucks me a block of chocolate. He must have hidden it there when he put in the flowers in the back seat. He turns around again.
“Close your eyes again, love,” he smiles. “Now open.”
When I open my eyes, Harry is sitting there holding flowers. They must be the ones that were sitting in the back seat. He hands them to me and smiles.
“I know I was kind of hard on you last night. I’m sorry. I was just hurt because you were hurt. I was hurt because you have gone through so much. I know these are just words so here. For you,” he says.
I hold the flowers up to my nose. They smell beautiful.
I lean over the centre of the car and wrap my arms around Harry.
“It’s okay, Harry. I messed up when I never tried to contact you,” I say.
He hugs back. His skin is warm against mine. His hair tickles me where it falls on my neck. I feel his chest move as he breathes. I like this.
The car ride back to Harry’s house wasn’t silent. We talked and talked. We reminisced in old memories from the days when we were all together. I learnt a great deal about Harry and who he is and Harry learnt a lot about me.
He likes orange and blue. He’s an Aquarius. He’s shy to admit that he likes girly movies. He’s terrified of snakes. He sleep talks. His favourite drink is apple juice. He doesn’t like when people smoke. He doesn’t like when people swear; this fact made me realise how hurt he must have been when we were in the tree house.
We pull into his drive way and he turns the car off.
“You can sleep in my bed. I’ll sleep on the floor,” he says as he unbuckles his seatbelt.
“No, no, I can’t ask you to do that for me. I’ll sleep on the floor,” I argue. Harry just shakes his head and gets out of the car. I follow his lead and get out too. I grab my back pack from the floor of the car and walk over to Harry who is waiting for me by the door. When I close the door, Harry locks it and then he unlocks his front door and invites me in.
The house is massive. The front door enters into a large open living room. Two love seats sit along the side walls and a large black leather couch sits in between them. The carpet is thick and luscious and the walls are dark yet very light. Harry leads me to the kitchen. The walls in here are the same colour but the floors are real hard wood floor boards. The benches are black and the kitchen cabinets are stark white.
“Harry…” I almost whisper in amazement. “Your house is gorgeous.”
“Usually girls aren’t speechless until my shirt is off,” he jokes.
I look at him and then laugh.
“Come on, I’ll show you up to my room.” He ushers me up the stairs. Harry’s bedroom is huge. It has a king sized bed in the centre of the room and still has enough room for a big television. Next to the television is a DVD stand. There are lots of movies but the first ones I spot sitting on the top shelf are the girly films Harry was taking about. I giggle at the thought of Harry all curled up in his bed watching a romantic comedy. Harry must have seen me giggling at the DVD stand because he laughs and says “yeah I know, rom coms and chick flicks. Manly. By the way, the shower is just through there.” He points towards one of the two doors on the side of the room. I assume the other door is a wardrobe.
I grab my bag of clothes and walk into the ensuite. I was expecting something extravagant like the rest of the house and I am not disappointed. There is a double sink and a double shower. The mirror spans across the entire wall opposite the shower. My bag ends up sitting on the bench. My clothes are spilling out of it all over the place. I search through the bag until I find some sweatpants and a loose fitting top. After finding my clothes, I turn around to face the shower and take my clothes off.
The shower is warm and steams up fast. I clean all of the dirt and blood off of me and stand there for a little bit, letting the hot water soak into my skin and let the steam cleanse me. The hot water running down my back makes me feel new again and I feel almost instantly better. I step out of the shower when I feel clean enough and wrap myself in the towel Harry left hanging for me on the rack. I quickly dry myself off and step into my clothes. I flick my head over and wrap the towel around so my hair dries. I pull deodorant out of my bag and spray myself. I pack everything back into my bag and walk out the door back into Harry’s room. I can’t see him in the room so I just sit myself on the bed, unsure of what to do or where to go.
I stay seated on the bed until I hear Harry call from downstairs. The bed begs me not to get up but I resist the temptations to stay in it and hurry down stairs. I find Harry standing in the middle of the kitchen. A sweet tomato scent fills my nose and I realise that Harry made food for us. My mouth waters at the thought of it. I walk towards the bench and breathe in the smells of the sauce. Harry pulls two bowls from a cabinet and serves. He brings the plates over to the table and I follow him. We sit next to each other.
“Enjoy. It’s my nans spaghetti recipe. She fed the entire neighbourhood when she was younger with this spaghetti,” He explains before inhaling half of the bowl. I do the same. My mouth starts to water uncontrollably when I get the pasta near my mouth. It makes my tastebuds dance with joy and I quickly devour the entire bowl, finishing proudly when I realise that Harry isn’t finished his bowl yet. I grin wildly at him and he just frowns and shoves his face into his bowl, quickly swallowing the remains of his pasta.
After we eat, Harry decides that we should watch a movie. I don’t think I even make it through the first ten minutes before I fall asleep on the couch. Harry picks me up and carries me up the stairs to his room. He places me in his comfortable bed. He pulls a mattress out from under his bed and puts a sheet on it. He pulls a doona from the wardrobe and places it on the mattress. Soon, he is also asleep on the floor.
At about two in the morning, Harry wakes up. He gets out of his floor bed and disappears for a while. When he comes back, he crawls into bed. He’s half asleep and he crawls into the bed I’m sleeping in. He snuggles into me and falls asleep.
I wake up with the sun shining through the open window and Harry with his arms wrapped around my body. My face is nuzzled into his chest. Harry wakes up soon after I do, with his eyes squinting trying to block out the light coming through the window. He looks around and I can see the confusion on his face. He looks up at me. “Good morning,” he mumbles, his voice low and scratchy.
He unwraps his arms from me and pushes himself up. His warmth radiates from his skin and I can feel it reaching through me. The bed gets warmer as Harry lays back down beside me. His arms to not warp around me this time but he places it under my head and I roll over. My face rests on his chest and my hand rests on his stomach.
Placing my hand in his stomach was a bad idea because it sends shivers down my spine and Harry laughs at me. When he laughs, he pushes himself up and swings his legs off of the bed.
“When did I get in here?” He asks. It’s obvious that he doesn’t mine that he ended up in the bed.
“I don’t know,” I laugh. “I don’t really remember much of the night after we ate.”
“Oh well, I didn’t mind. Hey, what time is it?” I pull my phone out from under the pillow.
“It’s ten o’clock,” I say. Harry jumps up and spins around, “I completely forgot, I made us plans today. We’ve got to get going.”
He grabs my arm and yanks me out of bed. He guides me to the bathroom with a swift kick on my bum. I quickly strip down and hop in the shower. I wash my hair and body and get out. I grab the last outfit I brought with me and hope that it’s flattering. Once I have dried myself off, I pull on my clothes and look at myself in the mirror. The reflection doesn’t look too bad. However, my jeans are not high enough and I don’t have a belt to hold them up. So I accept that fact that I will waddle a fair bit today. I brush my hair and my teeth and exit the bathroom. Harry’s room is empty but I can hear the shower running in another room so I just wait on his bed until he returns.
He comes back in shirtless and I have to supress a gasp. He sees me and laughs.
“See? I told you. The girls are always speechless when they see my shirtless.”
My cheeks turn beet red and I cover my face.
“Don’t worry, love. You’re not the only one to ever have that reaction. Anyway, get up. We’ve got a big day today.”
He grabs my hand and pulls me off the bed. I grab my bag from the floor near the ensuite door and hurry after Harry. He quickly checks to see if all of the doors are locked we head towards the car. The passenger seat is still sticky so I place the towel back and sit on it. Harry turns the car on we start to drive.
Harry’s area is beautiful. There are large trees creating lovely shady spots to sit. Lush grass covers the ground where ever footpaths do not roam. The sunlight does not quite get through the leaves of the trees, leaving the ground covered in patchy light. The slight breeze blows my hair around so I tie it up. Surprisingly, soon Harry follows my lead and ties his hair up into a bun while using his knees to steer.
We drive into the shopping centre and drive around for a while. No one is ever able to get a parking spot here. Harry tries the underground parking with no avail. So we give up and go to the high level parking, hoping that there is a spare spot under the shade sail.
Eureka! I nudge Harry and point in the direction of a free park. We swerve and almost crash into another car coming from the other side but we get the park. I jump out of the car triumphantly and do a little dance. I can feel the eyes of the people passing by in the cars burning into me but I’m not sure if they’re staring because I’m dancing or if they’re staring because we got a prime parking spot. It must have been vacant for only a few seconds before we pulled up because cars keep passing through. The shade sail stop the sunlight from hitting the car with full force so when we come back, the black leather seats won’t completely tear off our skin. Although, it’ll tear Harry’s off before mine due to the towel I’ve been sitting on.
Harry locks the car and together, we walk towards the stair case that leads down to ground level. The carpark at ground level is packed. There are so many cars that there is almost a miniature traffic jam. The foot traffic is outstanding as well. There must be something going on here that I don’t know about because this place is only ever this busy Christmas Eve when everyone is getting their last minute presents. Inside is even busier. It’s like the whole shopping centre is that one big family that spreads out across the entire path and walks really slow.
I turn around to face Harry and grab his hand.
“Don’t let go of my hand,” I say to him. At that, I start to weave my way through the crowds of people, pulling Harry through behind me. I have absolutely no idea where we’re meant to be going so I just keep pulling him through until he tugs on my arm, telling me to stop.
“It’s in here,” he points towards a small edgy record store. This time, he pulls me through the traffic. Despite the rest of the shopping centre being overly crowded, this store is fairly empty. It’s just Harry and I, the woman manning the cash register and a group of boys hanging around in the corner of the dingy little shop. I’ve seen them all around school so I shrink back into the walls of the shop. One of the boys in the group I don’t recognise from around the school, however, he does seem familiar. I can’t figure it out so I just sort of melt in behind Harry.
Unfortunately, Harry breaks my trust by walking over to them and engaging them. He beckons me over so I slide over and stand close to his side. Three of the boys are the boys who yell a lot during lunch. I honestly never realised that there were four boys yelling every lunch but now that I see Harry with them, I realise that he’s one of them. Thankfully, they’re also the boys that always left me alone. They never got involved with the pranks. Now that I think about it though, I think they might have left me alone because Harry knew who I was and they knew about the connection between Harry and I. Suddenly, things start to make sense. I understand why Harry refused to leave my side when I was hurt at school. I understand why whenever he saw me hurt, I could see the concern in his eyes. Just, back in those days, when no one really smiled at me, a concerned look looked almost exactly like an angry glare.
I get snapped out of through when someone starts snapping their fingers in front of my face. I recognise the hand. It’s a tanned hand. A perfectly tanned hand. I step back startled and look him in the face. His eyes ae dark, slightly covered by black hair falling from his head. He smiles at me. That familiar perfect smile, surrounded by a light stubble.
“It’s you…” I mumble, and hide next to Harry. The man nods his head and extends his hand. “Zayn. Nice to see you again,”
“You know Zayn?” Harry asks.
“Oh yeah, I met him when I… left the hospital,” I hesitate on ‘left’ because I didn’t leave, I escaped.
“Anyway, Lainley. These are the boys. Louise, Liam, Niall and Zayn. They’re your new friends” He grins.