Harry keeps his promise and follows me home that night. We take the black hotel car to the front of my apartment building. The air is fresh and I suppose the night is clear, but when I turn my eyes towards the sky, not a single star is lighting up the sky. I wrinkle my forehead a little, right until I feel Harry’s hand gently touching my shoulder. I turn around slowly, and meet his eyes. They shine brighter than the night sky.
“There are too many lights in the city,” He says.
“You can’t see the stars. If you turned off all the lights for an hour or so, then maybe you would be able to see them.”
“Oh,” I mumble. He must have known what I was thinking - either that, or he is an incredibly good guesser. We stand in silence for a little while, until I take a step backwards and turn my head to look at the staircase in front of my apartment building.
“You wanna go up?” Harry asks calmly, as if he had not just followed me home. I shrug my shoulders, “We can stay here for a little while if you want to.”
“Sure.” He simply says and then turns back to the car. The driver rolls down the window. Harry says something I do not quite catch - not that I am listening.
Soon the car backs a little and turns out on the road again, leaving us alone. I take a couple steps back and sink down on the second step on the staircase. Harry follows and takes a seat beside me. I am intensely aware of his body only an inch from mine.
Our shoulders brush as I dig my hand down in my bag, and fish up a pack of Marlboro Gold and Harry looks at me curiously as I shake a cigarette out of the pack.
“I thought you stopped smoking.” He says without question.
“I did,” I answer him and place the unlit cigarette between my lips. “I mean… I…” I search for the words in my head, as my right hand searches for the lighter in my bag. “I don’t usually smoke.”
He nods, “Then why now?”
I finally get hold of the small black lighter and pull it up. “I only smoke when I feel…” I try to find the right word, but Harry is one step ahead of me.
“Nervous?” He asks.
I nod, “Yeah - or tense, upset and so on… You know.”
“You’re upset now?” He wonders.
And I realise within a second that I have said too much. “No!” I fast say and try to think of way to save the situation.
“Nervous?” He asks and tilts his head a bit to the side, watching me with wondering eyes.
I breathe in and raise the lighter to the cigarette hanging loosely from my lips. I light up, inhale briefly and then exhale - thankful for the lack of wind. Harry does not move and I avoid answering his question.
“You should stop though,” he then says.
I nod and plant the cigarettes between two fingers, moving it downward. “Bad habit I guess,” I mumble.
“You’ve always had a lot of them.” Harry agrees. I look at him, not sure how to reply to that. Does he see me as a person of bad habit? I am not sure that’s how I want him to see me. I ignore him once again, and in my silence he understands that it came out harshly.
“I mean, high school and such. But you have been taking better care of yourself lately,” He tries to save it. I smile weakly. It is true and we both know it, so I am not going to object.
“High school was…” I again do not know how to finish the sentence, and therefore take the short moment of silence as chance to take another drag of my cigarette. I exhale and finish my sentence, “competition filled.”
Harry raises his eyebrows, “Well you must have been winning a lot then.”
I shrug my shoulders, “You know how it was, Harry.”
He nods, “I know.”
We sit in silence for a bit, while I keep breathing in the smoke and exhaling it into the night. My mind is spinning a bit, and I can feel the effect of the alcohol running through my veins. I am slightly intoxicated.
“Sometimes I wish I had not been like I was. Because you never get to take any of it back.” I say after a minute of complete and comfortable silence. Harry, who has been looking at the road, turns to look at me.
“I think you were wonderful.” He says.
I breathe out sharply through my nostrils, “Yeah… Well you must have been the only one. Everyone else thought I was an obnoxious insecure slut.”
Harry seems slightly shocked by my choice of words. “What are you talking about?” He sounds almost angry with me. I look at him, confused.
“That is not true. You were great. Everyone loved you.”
“Yes, because I knew how to party. But not a single girl truly liked me.”
“Cami is my best friend. She understood.” I protest. Harry seems to wonder why I can not let him win this, and once again it feels like a competition.
“You know what, Mel?” He then finally says. “You loved that one character from One Three Hill.”
“Brooke?” I ask, surprised that he remembers.
He nods, “I think she is a bit like you.”
“What?” I can not help but let out a little surprised laugh.
“No really. You can’t even see it yourself.” He sighs.
I take another drag of my cigarette and shut my eyes. A couple of seconds pass, and then I can feel Harry sneak his arm around my shoulders. He pulls me closer to him, and I lean my head against his shoulder.
“You are remarkable, Amelia Stark.” He whispers.
I smile a little, “Well, thank you for remarking that.”
He chuckles and rests his cheek on the top of my head. We sit like that for a while. Long enough for my cigarette to die out in my hand.
It feels nice to sit like this with him, in complete silence and so far away from home. Had it not been for my slightly trembling hands and the beat of my heart, I would have felt completely calm and comfortable. I am glad that it is close to midnight and that we are in New York. Even the famous people get to be just people in the city sometimes. One of those times is right now, and I know Harry feels it. We are not in a hurry and we are not hiding.
“Well…” Harry says after a couple minutes, I let my eyes flutter open. I let out a yawn as he slowly takes his arm away from my shoulders. “You should probably get up.” He says.
I nod and smile warmly at him. He pulls up in a standing position and reaches a hand down to help me up. I thankfully grab it, and stumble a little as I stand up.
“Careful, Stark.” He smiles. “One foot in front of the other.”
I return his smile. We are standing close and I hope that he can not see the redness spreading across my cheeks. Our hands are held up between us, and I am still holding lightly onto his. When he glances down at them, I pull mine out of his and let it fall down by my side - spreading my fingers, stretching my hand.
Harry takes a step down on the sidewalk and looks back at me, “I will see you soon then?”
He opens his arms. I smile and leaning a bit forward. I am standing one step up and I am therefore a slight bit taller. It makes it easier for me to close my arms around his neck. I hug him for a short moment, before we both pull away.
“I had a great time.” I suddenly blurt out.
“Me too,” Harry speaks softly. He seems so in control it is magical. He dugs his hands down in his pockets and sends me a wry smile. “I’ll call you,” he says.
“Goodnight.” I reply as he turns around and starts walking down the street - leaving me on the staircase. I breathe in through my nostrils.
I can not quite place the feeling.