over the edge

Somewhere between her best friend being infected with an STI and a night out gone terribly wrong, Harry Styles has managed to fuck up Olivia's life well and proper.

But between boring lectures, disgusting hours spent doing things she would rather not, and trying to survive getting a university degree without breaking under the pressure, Olivia doesn't have very much time left for Harry Styles and whatever he's trying to do with his life.

Except that she sort of does.

a uni au featuring staying up too late for all the wrong reasons, wrongly accusing the right people, and way too many scientific terms for anyone to remember properly.


1. one

Going around knocking on doors, telling guys that they might have been infected with syphilis wasn't how Olivia pictured she would be spending the first week of her new semester.

But when you find your best friend lying on the floor covered in used tissues and empty boxes of chocolates, they really were no other choice than to help her out of whatever rut she had been stuck in. And as it appeared, Claire had at her annual doctor's check up been told that she had contracted syphilis.

Which was why Olivia - as the greatest of friends to ever walk the earth - had taken over the role of telling her previous sexual partners that they should get checked out at the free clinic before having sex again.

"Yo-you don't have to," Claire sniffles, blowing her nose with her sleeve, "I'm sure I can't do it tomorrow, there's no reason for you to do this - it's weird, isn't it? I'm twenty-one, I can do this on my own."

"Well the great thing about having a best friend is that you don't have to do these things on your own. Who cares if you twenty or sixty? It really doesn't matter, Cee, just give me a list of names and where I can find them and I'll have it done before next week."

There's a bit of shuffling, Claire crawling from her pit of pillows and blankets to the door where Olivia stands, "You are the absolute best friend, Liv. I love you, you know that right?" she coos, throwing her arms around her taller friend.

"Yeah, yeah." She sighs and pats her back, "now don't get too close please, I can't afford to get infected."
"Oh, bugger off, why don't you?" Claire snorts, pushing her friend away as she moves back to the couch. "You're a bloody twat."

She knocks on the door. It's supposed to be one of Claire's latest shags, an American exchange student Brad she met at a Health and Fitness mixer. She was drunk and trying to forget a bad grade, and he was there - a pretty smile on his soft lips and a wallet big enough to buy her drinks for the entire night.

The door in front of her opens, setting Olivia off on the well-rehearsed speech Claire and her had agreed on before she had left the flat. "Hello Brad, I'm not sure you know who I am, but I am here to tell you that you most likely have been infected with syphilis and that you should seek out-" there's a soft chuckle interrupting her concentration, forcing Olivia to look up from the small piece of paper in her hands.

"You aren't Brad Wilson from flat 2B, you aren't even a bloody exchange student!" Olivia splutters, staring angrily into the mischievous green eyes that are smirking back at her. "What the hell are you doing here Harry?"

"Oi love! You should watch your mouth or else none is going to sleep with you when they find out you have the syph, Liv." He drawls, the ends of his mouth curling up into a smirk. He's leaning most of his weight on the door opening, eyes looking over the blonde in front of him until he chuckles, "We should call you that, syph Liv."

"Fuck off Harold, is Brad around or not? I kind of need to speak to him if you didn't notice."

Harry and Olivia met during freshmen's introduction and for the first couple of days, the two of them got along great. Sharing stories about their upbringing, the music they liked, the cities they had seen - wanted to see. But then night turned to day, and the one week of getting to know each other turned into lectures and science reports. Gone was the charming music major with the pretty lips and the brown curls, replaced by the boy with the snarky remarks and a few too many comments on everything she did wrong.

"Brad's not around, he went home for a while - something about his aunt being sick and wanting to be there for her - I don't know, I don't really listen to stuff like that." He offers with a shrug. He turns around and walks back into the flat, leaving the door agape for her to follow. "He said I could stay here if I needed a place for the night - you know, if Niall's presence got too disturbing." He winks at that, a hand casually gesturing to the almost empty box of condoms thrown about by the couch; the drained bottle of wine, the delicate lace fabric stuck between two cushions.

"Do you have to be so bloody disgusting all the time?" she shivers in contempt, pulling her bag further up her arm as she turns to the door. "I'm not gunna stay here in your borrowed shag flat if Brad's not around - places to be, people to tell that they probably have syphilis - you probably already know the deal yeah? What was it you had, the clap back in sophomore year right?"

"Cute, Liv, you really are the cutest."

"Oh well, at least it wasn't herpes or HIV, those get you for life mate." She nods faux-understanding. "But uh, could you text Brad that he probably should get checked out or something? Thanks."

She slips out of the door, already down the stairs by the time that Harry calls her name.


There's plenty of aspects of her major Olivia loves, like how it's such a good mixture of pure chemistry and what the pre-meds are taught, how the course is so small that everyone knows everyone, the numerous amounts of hours in the lab without the extensive need to write up reports after every period.

Something she doesn't like is comparative anatomy - furthermore the dissection part of it.

"I'm serious! I paid like twenty pounds for a bloody dissection kit and now I don't even have to use it because you got one from Freddie. That's beer money wasted because of poor communication, Niall." Olivia whines, curling up in her lab coat as the rest of their group gathers around the table.

It's a funny feeling, bare legs paired with the long white lab coat, brushing her legs when she walks. But she wouldn't be caught dead without it; the terrible tales of older students who had gotten clothes ruined by splatter of blood - or worse - on their everyday clothes because they forget their coat.

"Oh shut up Holmes, it's not like it tears up your budget." Niall snorts as he drops down into the chair next to her.

She groans loudly, her head thumping against the table as she draws her knees to her chest.

"Are you nervous babe? It's just a shark, it's already dead, we just have to cut it up a little bit - no harm done." He cackles, big hands patting her back in a soft pattern.

"Done remind me please, Cee and I had sushi last night and I'm already feeling nauseous. Like, why would you put this class right before lunch, does Natalie not want me to eat the entire day?"

"Scared of a bit of blood, babe?" Ashton jokes as he takes the seat in front of her, Charlotte, the last member of their small group, taking the one next to him. "You've made a meal from scratch before haven't you? Like plucked a chicken and that,"

"What? No, of course I haven't," Olivia splutters, head raising from the table to look him in the eyes, "My family and I buy our chicken already cut out from the supermarket like everyone else, thank you very much. And I'm not joking, in secondary biology we had to dissect a pig's heart to look at the ventricles, aorta and that, and I nearly passed out - like if my lab partner hadn't been there, I would have had a concussion."

"Well, we're three people to catch you if you fall." Niall adds with a pointed look telling her to shut up and get cutting.
He opens the small red box containing the instruments, pulling out a clean scalpel handle, the accompanying blade wrapped nicely in foil. He clicks it professionally into place, not a single beat of hesitation as he secures the blade.
He looks up from his hands, meeting the amazed gazes from his mates. "What? I was a lab assistant during my second year, I gained a bit of expertise." There's a red tinting to his cheeks as he stands up, pulling Olivia with him. "Let's go get our gloves on, Olivia; you can pick our shark."

"Like hell Horan, that's just a shitty thing to do." She shivers, falling back as the boys rushes to the front of the room where the TAs stand.
"Don't worry babe, I don't like it either." Charlotte tells her softly, hands buried deeply in her charcoal slacks. "It's just weird yeah? I get that we have to do this, and that we can learn something from it - but I don't like it. That's why I chose Ash, he's more than ready to cut up something - why he didn't pick medicine instead, I don't understand." 

"Yeah well, the mouse is what I really fears, don't think the shark is gunna be as bad as that." Olivia hums, her mouth set in a straight line as she pulls out a pair of gloves from the 'small' box.

"I don't wanna think about it," Charlotte shivers, "one dissection at a time, please."

"Here comes sharky!" Niall yells from the sinks, lifting the dissection tray above his head to show off the gilled vertebrae.

"Oh for Christ's sake," Olivia mutters as she pours a generous amount of ethanol onto their work space, spreading it around to get every last trace of the shark off. "I'm gunna smell like fish now, aren't I? We have dinner plans later Ni, and I don't think I have the time to go home and shower." She squeeze a small amount out of the bottle and onto her hands, rubbing the ethanol all over until they feels dry.

"Are you ready to go babe? There's that lunch offer at A's if we get there within the hour." Niall calls from the door. His bags are already packed, lab coat neatly folded and in its separate plastic bag, dissection kit cleaned and sprayed down to disinfect it.

"Coming!" she yells back as she shoves the still very clean coat back into her over the shoulder bag and hurries to his side.

A's the place to be if you're a student and doesn't have any money. A small off campus café with big portions, loads of entertainment when it turns dark, and three drinks for two between eight and ten. Niall and her had originally stumbled upon it looking for something to eat after a lecture off campus and stumbles through the doors halfway to pneumonia and toes almost frozen off.

The owner, a middle aged lady called Lisa who had taken particularly well to Harry, had even allowed the lads to play a few gigs through their first year as a band together. 

"So, what the deal with you and Harry?" Niall asks, their food being placed in front of them by a waitress smiling too wide for it to be real.

"What's new about us? Nothing, he's a twat and I don't know why you voluntarily socialise with him - whereas I am an absolute joy to be around, if I have to say so myself."

It's not that Olivia doesn't like talking about her problems - an open book, really, when she first get started - but somehow sarcasm is always her go to answer. Even to Niall who she by now is closer to than both of her brothers.
"He came home last night saying something like, don't get too close to Liv, she's sick, or the likes. Know anything about that?"

Olivia snorts, doesn't even want to justify that with a comment. But Niall keeps staring at her, those big blues looking at her like she sits on the world's biggest secret, as if he might die if he's not told what kind of information her and Harry had shared between them.

"Just something stupid yeah? I'm sure you'll be told sooner or later," she explains shortly, digging into her plate of nachos. "It's not like Harry's ever been able to keep his mouth shut."


It's after one of those long lectures that's spawned in hell and raised by the wicked witch of the West that Harry brings it up again.

Olivia and Niall - another biomedicine major - have just gotten off from a four hour long biochemistry lecture, both of them worn down to the bone and starving for something other than snacks eaten during the fifteen minutes break in between subject changes. They sit down at their usual table, already occupied by their friends, as Harry pipes up from the other end of the table, cutlery neatly placed on his plate.

"Hey Liv, did you get that syphilis taken care off or should I start telling people they should stay away from you?"
There's a numbing silence around them as Harry picks up his fork once again; their friends having stopped their conversation to pay attention to theirs.

It's so fucking not what she needs right now, not after having an hour long lecture on fatty acids held by Greg Daniels, the world's dullest professor in biochemistry who always has that great attribute that he spits, leaving the entire first row of the lecture hall in the danger zone.

What she really needs is an hour long bath with that new bath bomb her mother had sent over by her monthly care package and a few episode of House playing on repeat until she's sleeping away the stress in her too-big-for-just-one bed. Not Harry Styles questioning her about a sexual transmitted infection that's not even hers - especially not when Claire is sitting right next to her.

She usually doesn't mind a bit of unfriendly banter between the two of them, something she had to accept back when Niall and her formed their two persons study group and Harry just happened to be Niall's preferred flat mate. But it's been a long day and this isn't even about her.

She exhales deeply, teeth clenched as she drops her cutlery to the table top to look him over with a bored gaze. "Could you, like, not? It's been a long day, I haven't eaten anything except the slice of cucumber and the granola bar I grabbed at seven am, so I really don't have the energy to listen to you." She mutters, head dropping off to rest on Niall's shoulder, who unconsciously moves to put his arm around her waist as he continues eating with his left. 

"It's nothing to embarrassed about Olivia, I'm sure lots of people don't care about their health enough to just wear a bloody condom before shagging, I mean, it's not like you're studying health care or anything." He drawls, voice coy as he pierces his fork through a cherry tomato, bringing it to his mouth and somehow managing to eat it without getting splatter on his white t-shirt.

"Please just, stop talking Styles." She snarls back, eyes blazing as she tries to convey some sort of message for he should shut the fuck up "And we're studying bio-medicine yeah? Please try to get the majors right if we've known each other for three years."

There's a small trembling beside her; her bottle of water shaking as she turns to look at Claire, who's looking absolutely terrified. Hands so tightly wound that her knuckles are white, eyes looking directly into her mash as her chest falls and grows with quick beats.

Someone's asking what's going on, but Olivia ignores it in favour of taking Claire's hand in hers and squeezing the life out of it as she stares down the devil incarnate.

"Liv got the syph." He says with a grin, fork twirling a piece of string bean. "She came knocking on Brad's door saying something about seeking out medical help because of syphilis. And well, Brad's in the states and Liv here doesn't like to use her sight anymore, so she told me."

There's nothing Olivia wants more in the world than to tell him off, to wipe that stupid grin off his lips, to inform him that she would be the last one to contract a STI and between the two of them, Harry is the grosser one of them. But it's not her problem, it's not her who doesn't want the rest of their friends to know - not her place to tell them the truth.
Because despite her kind personality and happy-go-lucky attitude, Claire doesn't do all that well when it comes to verbal confrontations, least of all when it involves her friends.

So Olivia stays quiet.

"Harry, not today, not right here." She tells him softly.

But Harry wouldn't be Harry if he had stopped, "It's just, I thought I knew you better than that Liv. And Brad, really? Was it his ability to speak exclusively in two syllable words, or the mono brow he was so kind to nurture throughout his stay in our lovely kingdom?"


But Niall interrupts her, mouth full of chicken as he points his fork between the pair. "You never slept with Brad, though. He spilled that beer over your dress at that party and ever since that, you've hated him like the bloody plague yeah? Thought it was Cee who slagged her way into his-" but the small brunette has already left the table, a soft cry leaving her lips as she storms across the cafeteria.

Olivia turns sharply to the gaping boy, "You're such a fucking arse, you know that right?" She doesn't leave time for him to answer as she turns on her heels and runs after the retreating brunette.

"Hi babe, don't, no don't run away - that doesn't help you." Olivia calls out when she reaches the edge of the hall, watching Claire's hand lingering on the door handle to the quad. "Who cares what Harry Styles think? I don't and neither should you."

She walks closer, feet barely touching the floor until she's next to her friend. "He wouldn't have said those things if he knew it was about you. You know how he is with me, I'm sure he would a lot more understanding if he faced you right now."

Claire sniffles, "I don- don't know why I'm crying about this, it's just. I really hate it, I so fucking hate this. You know Matt texted me yesterday, nothing but 'glad I dodged that bullet' . I just want to be free again, no fucking medicine holding me back, or caring about some boy's comments about me. I hate feeling like this, Liv, I'm a strong independent woman - so why do I care that Harry thinks I'm a slag?"

She slides down the cold brick wall until she's sitting against it, knees drawn to her chest. She looks up at Olivia with her big, brown eyes full of wayward tears.

"You should care, there's nothing wrong with that. He's your friend, has been for quite some time, and of course you're going care when you're that close to someone." Olivia tells her.

Despite her and Harry's ongoing feud, Claire and him had become great friends throughout the years; both of them coming from Manchester, small families with remarried mothers; friends of friends knowing each other, and that time during the great train shut down, the two of them had shared a car back home, driving 250 kilometres in a small space made wonders for a previously strained friendship.

Harry comes running from the cafeteria, stopping when he reaches the group of two. A hand to his side as he tries to catch his breath, exhaling softly through his nose as he bends down on Claire's level.

"Hey Claire, I'm sorry about that - I didn't know." He tells her softly, resting a hand on her bare knee and goes down in a squat. "It doesn't matter, no one cares about a STI. So what if you can't have sex for a couple of weeks?"

"Yeah?" Claire sniffles, taking Harry's hand and intertwining their fingers. She lets him pull her to her feet, goes easily when he gives her hand a tug until she's buried in his arms.

"Yeah, and if someone tells you otherwise you shouldn't care - you're too good for people like that." Harry says quietly, a hand running through her short bop of brown hair.

Olivia is just about to leave, let the two of them apologise and lick their wounds in private when Harry looks up, pinning her to the spot with his gaze. The look in his eyes is some mixture of apathy and accusing - like it's her fault he's stuck sucking up to Claire - but there's something else, something close to regret that Olivia can't help but thrive on - a soft smirk gliding onto her lips.

Claire pulls away from his arms, a slight blush to her cheeks as she stumbles back. She discreetly wipes the dried in tear on her cheeks before whispering something about going to the loo to freshen up.

"I guess I owe you an apology," Harry drawls, hands stuffed in his pockets as he looks her over with a slight grin, eyes stopping at the small ketchup stain on her right boob from when she left the cafeteria.

"I mean, if you think so-"

"But I don't think you need it, really. I mean, none of those things happened to you so you really shouldn't have taken offence to any of that. Poor Claire though, you should have just told me that it was her, I wouldn't have continued on if I had known." He hums, his eyes absent as if he's thinking about something far away from where they are. "But then again, it's probably better it's her than you."

Olivia stops in her tracks on her way back, looking over her shoulder to meet Harry's gaze. "Do I wanna know why, or should I just keep walking?"

"Well I mean, even if boys does find out that she's had an STI, she still has her looks to save her - where as you would just be -" Harry looks her over once again, making a show of stopping at the swell of her breast, letting out a soft scoffing noise, "the charity case they go home with when the clock has struck three and all the other girls are too far gone to give a descent blow job."

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