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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79. Seventy nine

I'm in the bathroom finishing my makeup before the party the next day when Harry comes in and starts rooting around for something. 

"Seen my cologne?" he asks and even this little conversation is kind of uncomfortable.

"It's in that cupboard." I tell him, flicking on some mascara. 

"Thanks." he says, finding it and just stands there, watching me in the mirror as he puts his cologne on. "Uh, so what's with inviting me tonight?"

I shrug. "Just being nice."

"We haven't exactly been on good terms."

"Freddie and I just thought you'd want to go." I say, wanting him to go because it's feeling kind of awkward now. 

He pauses. "I like you better with red lipstick by the way."

He walks away and I decide to just shrug that comment off because I don't want to read too much into that because it's the exact kind of comment I would have sat and thought about all night a few months ago. I'm sure it's just him making some remark to try and be an asshole and I know he's going to act like that a lot tonight but I need to just keep being the bigger person. 

Freddie picks both of us up and Harry has to sit in the back seat but Freddie is sure to keep conversation with him going and I'm once again in complete awe of how nice he is. He's just a truly good guy. I'm sure there's not a bad bone in his body. I'm facing back to Harry to try and make him feel more included too but he's not really responding to our conversation much. Freddie puts his hand on my leg like he always does and Harry sighs a little, looking out the window. I forgot that was something Harry used to do too. I don't think he's jealous, I don't think that's really it, I think it's just weird. I don't want to be with him anymore but I'd still find it awkward if he was like this with Leigha in front of me.

I have been worrying about how my friends will act around him but they're really friendly actually and he's friendly back to them, they're interacting just like they always have but he's cold towards me and cold towards Freddie even though Freddie's nothing but lovely all night.

We end up playing would you rather like Jaclyn, Nicole, Kylie and I all do when we have sleepovers. We're spinning a bottle around and whoever it lands on first gets to ask whoever it lands on second. We're coming up with ridiculous suggestions like different teachers or boys from our old school class who we all find repulsive and then it gets to Harry asking me and he has this little glint in his eye. 

"Alice." he smiles at me. "Would you rather me or Freddie?"

My stomach drops and I feel all tense but Freddie just keeps his arm around me and doesn't seem too bothered. I laugh a little. "Well, Freddie's my boyfriend so him."

"Really?!" Freddie jokes to lighten the mood and we all laugh (minus Harry), glad for the joke. 

It gets to midnight and I'm kind of tired and ready to go home to bed with Freddie but my friends are all still having a nice time so I don't want to ruin that. They're enjoying all these different games we're playing so of course we eventually get to truth or dare. We go with the same bottle rule, whoever it lands of first asks whoever it lands on second. So far it's always landed on my friends and they've asked for dares which basically means 'Dare me to do more shots than you dared her to do' which is always funny. 

Next, it lands on Freddie and then on me.

"Truth or dare?" he asks.

"Truth." I decide, smiling back at him. He grins and leans over to me. He hovers for a moment and I'm so curious about what he's going to ask, I'm holding my breath. 

"Are you happy?" he whispers in my ear and I laugh, pushing him away. 

"That's a crap question."

"It's all I want to know." he grins and I roll my eyes. 

"Yes."

"What did you ask?" Jaclyn asks, curious, and Freddie taps his nose. 

"Secret." he says and when I look at Harry he's got a sour look on his face. He spins the bottle again and it lands on him and then Freddie who chucks him another beer. I don't know how he's still acting so nice when Harry's barely spoken two words to him all night. 

"Truth or dare?" Harry asks. 

"Truth." Freddie decides. 

"How does it feel knowing you and Alice aren't going to have anything near as good as what Alice and I had?" he says and my stomach is in knots. Why is he acting this way? I look over at Freddie who's still looking calm. 

"Maybe that's true, maybe not. I don't care, whatever it is is enough for me, no past relationships really come into it." he shrugs and the knots in my stomach untie themselves. Of course Freddie handled this wonderfully, I never had anything to worry about. 

"What a pretentious asshole." Harry mutters, just loud enough as he gets up to get something to eat. 

"Excuse me?" Kylie says and I close my eyes. Freddie might keep his cool well but I should have known that one of my friends wasn't going to. 

"I said he's pretentious." Harry sighs at her and she raises an eyebrow. 

"He is not pretentious. You know what? He has been nothing but good to Alice, he has never raised his voice or taken a bad mood out on her or cheated or lied or kept secrets! And trust me, I know Alice made mistakes when she was with you but that's because you made her feel like she didn't need to care enough to not mistakes because you were always screwing up anyway!" she shouts. 

"Everybody sticks up for her and makes me look like the bad guy!" he shouts back. "You're even blaming me for her being a bitch!"

And then Kylie just slaps him around the face and its simultaneously the best and worst moment of my life. I feel sick because I know that was serious and I even feel kind of bad for Harry with everyone ganging up against him but to see Kylie just go all mad and bitch slap him, that was kind of amazing. Now she's just stood there looking all proud of herself which is kind of funny.

But then I look back at Harry and I honestly feel terrible for him. He just looks humiliated and that part of me that loves him and always wanted to protect him returns for a moment. Maybe I have let this fight between us go too far, maybe there's something I could have done to stop him being so angry tonight. He walks out and my heart aches because I feel so bad for him so I go after him and manage to get to him before he gets to his car. 

"Harry." I call, sounding awkward even to myself. 

He looks up and shrugs and it's then I see he's crying. "What do you want? I get it, I'm going to stay away from you, how dare I call you a bitch, everything's my fault, I get it."

He goes to get in his car again but I dart forwards, stopping him. He looks away from me. I don't think I've seen him cry this way before. 

"I know it's not your fault." I promise. "I know that. I know I made mistakes too and I'm sorry for those and I'm sorry I never tried to talk this through properly with you." he doesn't say anything. "Harry, I'm telling you to talk about it with me now."

He stays quiet for another moment and then looks me straight in the eye for the first time in what feels like forever and I've never seen anyone look more earnest. 

"I don't like to see you with Freddie." he admits quietly. 

I frown. "But you're with Leigha."

"Yeah I know and I love her. But part of me feels like we should never have broken up. I just always cherished you so much, I was always so proud to be the one who got to love you and now Freddie does that instead."

I look at him, a lump in my throat. "Yeah, he does. And you get to love Leigha."

He nods. "I do. I guess I was just hoping there was a way for me to love her without you moving onto someone else."

I feel sad right now. There's this feeling I've never felt before, like it's truly over. It feels as if this whole time the sand has been falling down the timer and we're on the last few grains.

"I guess it's hard for us to let go." I shrug. "But we can figure it out, I think."

He nods, looking back at me. "I'm sorry about everything. Really."

"I am too."

"I honestly hope you're happy with Freddie." he says and I believe him. 

"I hope you're happy with Leigha." I say and I hope he believes me. I'm just relieved that I even believe myself.

With that, he gets in his car and drives away and I just know everything's over. 

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