Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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49. Forty nine

Without me even noticing, my birthday creeps up on me again and suddenly I'm an adult and I've been here for over a year. Leading up to my birthday, everybody keeps asking me what I want to do but as per usual, I don't want to do a lot. My parents keep pushing a party, as do the guys but I kind of want to just be given the excuse to eat whatever I want and stay in bed. I even tell Harry he can't take me out to dinner and we don't make any plans but I was kind of expecting something. Yes I want to eat loads and stay in bed, but I kind of want to do it with him.

But then at seven on the evening of my birthday, after me and my family have had a dinner, he texts me:

Are you coming over or what? 

I walk down to his house, the biggest smile on my face. Weirdly, he's stood outside the house and he smiles when he sees me, putting his arms around my waist when I get to him.

"Happy birthday, pretty." he kisses me and I smile up at him. 

"Thank you. Why are you outside?"

"Because I have organised things very specifically inside." he smiles. "Come on birthday girl."

He takes my hand and leads me inside and the first thing I see is a big box on the stairs. He grins at me. 

"Present number one. Go on."

"Number one?" I question, letting go of his hand and opening the box. Inside is the paint set and I burst out laughing, turning and facing him again. "You really outdid yourself this time."

He grins and takes my hand again, leading me upstairs. At the top of the stairs, there's a painting stuck to the wall, clearly done by Robin. 

"He wanted to make you a card." Harry says and my heart melts. 

"Oh my god." I look at him, in awe. "That's the sweetest thing."

He chuckles, tugging on my hand again. "Next one."

We go into his room then and there's another big box. Inside are all the beauty related things I've wanted forever, like a Chanel perfume I never shut up about and lots of bath things and makeup that he knows I like and hair stuff that he doesn't understand but he knows I've been wanting. Then we go into the study and there's a parcel and inside are a list of books that he's told me about that I want to read. Then we go back downstairs into the kitchen where my next present is a box full of sweets you can only get in England that I've been missing. 

The only room left is the living room. He turns around and smiles at me all knowingly before we go in and I know this is going to be good. He opens the door and inside, he's basically made a giant fort. He's hung sheets from the walls and surrounded the room with loads of fairy lights. He's spread three mattresses out on the floor along with loads of pillows and duvets and he brought in all the English food with him and my favourite romcom is already set to play on the TV.

He looks at me. "Do you like it?" 

"I love it." I pull him into a hug and he chuckles as he lifts me up and carries me over to the mattresses, setting me down and sitting down beside me, pulling the duvets around me and playing the movie. I nestle into his side and he kisses my forehead and I want to stay here forever and ever. 

After the movie ends, we end up just spreading out on the mattresses and talking. 

"Can you believe it's exactly a year since I first kissed you?" he says to me, an amused smile on his face. "In the car, after the museum?" 

"And you acted like a total dick about it?" I say and he chuckles. 

"Yes." he agrees. "Like we're properly together now aren't we? We have a good history."

I laugh at him. "Yes. It's been a year of you stressing me the fuck out."

He chuckles, kissing me. "I love you, pretty."

"I love you." I say back to him. 

"Can I be more serious for a moment?" he asks but he's still smiling. "Like, not to go all deep, but I kind of feel like you're... this sounds cheesy, but, this whole idea of the one. I kind of feel like you're it for me."

My heart pounds at that. I don't know whether I'm happy or really scared by that. I can't decide whether to say it back or what because I'm not sure. That's when I decide I'm definitely scared by what he just said.

"Really?" I say, still smiling because maybe I don't need to make such a big deal out of this. It's just a conversation and by tomorrow we will have moved on from it. 

"Really." he nods. "It's like you know it's just some fling if you some day see yourself without them. But I don't see myself without you. I'm, like, forever interested by you." he stops in his tracks then, like he's remembering something. "Wait one second, I forgot one of your presents!"

He jumps up and runs to go and get it and I sit up. My chest feels all tight, like I can't breathe. I know it's just a conversation but he just sounds so committed it scares me. I mean, I love him too, more than I ever imagined I could love somebody but I'm scared that maybe I don't love him the same way he loves me. I haven't considered being with him forever. But it's not like he's even talking about that. He's just saying how he could be. It's just how he feels now, this is not a serious conversation, I do not need to worry so much. 

He comes back in and sits across from me. He pulls a little box out and I physically jump. I can't help but laugh at myself. I got so caught up in those worries, even that little box scared me. 

"Why are you laughing?" he asks, frown-smiling at me. 

"Nothing." I shake my head. He chuckles. 

"Alice?" 

"Yeah?" 

"Will you marry me?" he says, opening the box and there is a ring inside.

I look at him, outraged. Is he being serious? Is he actually being serious? I guess maybe I should have been worried, but I never actually believed he'd propose. I wasn't expecting to feel angry about this but I do. It's my eighteenth birthday, he's only nineteen, why does he think either of us are in a position to be engaged?

"No!" I say, outraged and his face drops, making me feel awful. "I'm sorry, that wasn't meant to come out like that."

"No, I got it." he mumbles, putting the box away. "Forget it."

"Harry." I frown. "I'm flattered-"

"Flattered." he laughs bitterly, shaking his head. 

"Honestly, I am so thankful that you love me that much-"

"You just don't love me that much back?" he raises an eyebrow and I start to feel annoyed at his attitude. I can't believe he's angry at me for saying no to a proposal at eighteen. 

"I love you, I just don't want to be married!" I protest. "And neither do you."

"Yes I do!" he argues. "To you."

I groan, holding my head in my hands. "I'm sorry Harry, but are you stupid? Did you think I was going to say yes? Don't be angry at me for saying no to getting married at eighteen!"

"Well don't be angry at me for wanting to be married at nineteen!" 

"I am angry!" I laugh, still shocked at his attitude. "I literally can't believe you just tried to propose to me!"

"You know, if you don't want to be with me, you can just go." he says, getting up and walking out of the room. I just sit there shocked for a moment. That was one of those moments that was so surreal you wait to wake up. I guess he must have just gone to his room and I don't know what to do so I just go home. It's as if that whole night, or the whole last year, didn't even happen.

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