Spring 2017 – London
Harry felt nervous going up the lifts. What was she going to say? Was she going to freak out? Just the night before she told him they were over – whatever that meant. In his opinion, they would never be over.
So there he was, her box of pictures in tow, going against everything she said. Even though he could tell by the way she kissed him last night that she was lying to herself. He could tell by the way things progressed between them. And he could also tell by the emotion in her voice as she told him goodbye. She was no more done with this then he was.
When the lift opened, Harry saw the sign for BBC Radio One and his stomach turned. It was now or never. When he opened the door to the studio, the lady at the front desk greeted him right away with a wide smile.
“Mr. Styles. So glad to see you again,” she said, stepping away from the desk.
“Hello,” Harry said with a nod.
“Are you here to see… um, Miss Graves?” She asked.
“I-I am. Is she here? I have something for her,” he said, holding up the box.
“She’s not in today. But I’ll be glad to give her the package when she does come in,” the woman said, holding out her hands to take the box.
“No, no. I’ll… I have to give this to her. It’s important,” he said, pulling the box out of reach.
“Well, alright then,” she smiled pleasantly.
“Uh, do you know when she’ll be in next?” Harry asked, feeling hopeful. She bit at her lip and gave him an unhelpful look.
“We’re not able to give out the schedules of our employees,” she told him, looking almost distraught that she couldn’t help him.
“Even if I am famous and you know who I am?” He asked, sending her his best schmoozy smile. He hated using that as an excuse, but he was kind of desperate.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Styles. I would if I could,” she said, walking back behind the desk.
“Uh, is Nick in?” Harry asked. Maybe he could help him.
“He sure is. Would you like for me to page him?” She asked, looking pleased that she could finally help him.
“Please,” Harry nodded.
As he waited for a response from Grimmy, Harry sat in the lobby, bouncing his knee up and down nervously. He really needed to see Ellie.
“Mr. Grimshaw will see you now,” the lady told him.
“Thank you,” Harry smiled, getting up from the chair he was seated in.
Harry followed her into the studio and around to the back where Grimmy’s office was.
“Harry!” Grimmy said, standing up from his desk.
“Hello, mate,” Harry said, plastering a smile on his face.
“What brings you here?” He asked, coming around to shake his hand.
“Well, I have a few things to talk to you about,” Harry told him as he offered him to sit down.
“Well, alright,” Grimmy asked, sitting down across from him.
Harry figured he needed to give him something so he’d be inclined to help him out where Elise was concerned. So he came up with something totally off the top of his head.
“Well, so you know One Direction is going to be recording again soon, right?” Harry told him.
“Oh, yeah. Yes, yes,” Grimmy said, nodding his head diligently.
“Well, I was thinking… what I was thinking was… uh, I was thinking that I’d give you rights to um, premiere our comeback single on your show first before anyone else,” Harry told him.
“Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. Totally,” Grimmy said, smiling widely.
“I figured you’ve been such a great part of One Direction, ya know. I just… I thought I’d return the favor. Give you the exclusive,” Harry told him.
“That’s great, Harry. That’s great,” Grimmy said.
“Yeah, and you gave Elise this internship. And that’s so great,” Harry said, trying to bring Elise into conversation.
“Elise, yes. How is that going for you?” Grimmy asked, looking genuinely curious.
“Oh you know. Uh, it’s not… well, we got… well…” Harry stammered, unsure of what to say.
“That good, huh?” Grimmy chuckled.
“It’s… difficult,” Harry said.
“Aren’t all relationships?” Grimmy laughed.
“Yeah, yeah. Uh, hey… I have a favor to ask you,” Harry said.
“Oh, yeah?” He asked.
“I was wondering if you could… uh, could you get me Elise’s address. I mean, you have that type of information on your interns, right?” Harry asked hopefully.
“Uh…” Grimmy stammered, eyeing Harry.
“I just… I really need to see her. I need to give her this,” Harry said, holding up the shoebox.
“Well, you see, Harry…” Grimmy started.
“I just… I really need to see her. I really do,” Harry said, trying to look as desperate as he felt. Nick eyed him for a moment before letting out a sigh.
“I’m not supposed to do this, but for you I’ll see what I can do,” Grimmy told him as he typed some information into his computer.
Within a matter of moments, he was scrawling Elise’s address across a post-it note.
“You’re not going to like, burgle her or something are you? I don’t want to be an accessory to burglary, Harry,” Grimmy asked, eyeing him with a hint of amusement dancing across his mouth.
“I promise there will be no burglary of any kind. I seriously just have to give her this box. It’s hers – from when we were kids,” Harry told him, holding up the box again.
“Alright. As long as you stay the upstanding guy I’ve always known you to be. I’m not going down for this,” he chuckled, holding out the post-it note to him.
“Got it. Thank you,” Harry laughed, taking it from him.
“You’re welcome. And Harry…” Grimmy started as he stood up from the chair.
“Yeah,” he said, turning back around to face him.
“It’s probably a good idea if Elise doesn’t find out where you got her address,” he told him.
“Definitely,” Harry agreed.
“And we’ll talk later about our little deal,” he said, smirking at him.
“Yes. Sure. Definitely. We’ll talk,” Harry smirked.
“Have a good day, mate,” Grimmy smiled, shaking his hand.
“You too. And thanks again. This is a big help,” he said, waving the post-it note in his hand.
“Anything for you,” he laughed.
Harry had it. He had the golden ticket. He was on his way. Elise couldn’t hide from him any longer. Not when he had the connections he did. Not when her boss was someone he’d known for the past seven years.
As Harry drove through the streets of London, his navigational system doing its job perfectly, he began to recall fond memories of him and Elise together. He wanted to get it back. He wanted it all back. He missed her so much. He knew their demise was all on him. But how many times did he have to apologize before it became a moot point? How many times would be enough for Elise? He could apologize until he was blue in the face, but the only thing that mattered was if she’d accept it and move on.
Winter 2012 – Walt Disney World | Orlando, FL
“Are you ready to fool around with me?” Harry asked, pulling Elise down on the hotel bed with him.
“Harry! The guys are in the next room. And we’re at Disney World,” Elise giggled, trying to pull herself out of his arms.
“So. What does Disney World have to do with anything? Everyone is going back outside anyway. We… we can just stay up here,” Harry said, kissing her neck.
“You can’t go a week without fornication?” She giggled.
“Ohh-ho. When you say it like that… mmm. No,” he said, inching his hand up her shirt.
“I didn’t bring condoms. Did you bring condoms?” She asked. Harry loved that she was already on board, despite her previous fictitious refusal to fool around.
“Maybe,” he breathed against her skin.
“You brought condoms, Harry? To Disney World?” She asked, pulling away to look at him incredulously.
“Well yeah, when my girlfriend is coming with, I’m going to come prepared,” Harry chuckled at himself as he got out of the bed.
The handful of condoms he brought were hidden in the super secret compartment of his backpack.
“Harry! You’re not serious right now!” Elise giggled from the bed.
“I am dead serious,” he said, walking toward her with a condom in hand.
“At Disney World? You want me to have sex with you at Disney World?” She asked incredulously.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, jumping onto the bed, landing on top of her. She shrieked out, her giggles following shortly after.
“Ellie, I love you so much. And I don’t care where we are. I just want to be with you,” he told her.
“Mm-hmm. And this isn’t some crazy fantasy to have sex at the funniest place on earth?” She smirked up at him.
“Yes!” He shouted and she giggled at his reaction.
“Mmm, you just made this the best fantasy yet,” Harry said, smirking wildly at her.
“OH, REALLY?” She laughed.
“Really,” he chuckled as he leaned down to kiss her.
They were doing this. She wasn’t about to talk him out of it. And she didn’t. Because she wanted it just as much has he did.
“King Parkway. King Parkway. King Parkway,” Harry repeated Elise’s address out loud as he checked every single street sign he passed.
He was antsy. He couldn’t help himself. He was about to see Elise again. All he could really hope for was that she wouldn’t slam the door in his face.
A sense of excitement washed over him when he turned down her street. But it was quickly wiped away with the feelings of anxiety and rejection. He didn’t know what he’d do if she pushed him out again. And he knew she was going to.
He parked in the small parking lot. The building wasn’t that big – maybe just a few flats in it. It wasn’t really in the best part of town. It kind of made him uncomfortable that she was living there. But he knew it must have taken everything she had money-wise to pick up and move across the country. As he looked up at the building, thinking about how Elise was probably sitting up there in her crappy flat, he wished more than anything that he wouldn’t have been so selfish back when they were together. He wished that he and Elise worked out in the end and that they were living comfortably together in London. But he knew nothing would have stopped him from making that decision five years ago and for that his heart was plagued with regret.
He walked up the front path to the door with the shoebox in hand. There was a directory with buttons to press to have the tenants let visitors up. Shit. How was he going to get in without buzzing her door? She was going to ask who was there and he’d have to tell her. He knew he had to come up with a plan and fast.
Apartment C. He plunged his finger into the appropriate button and stood there hoping for the best.
“Uh, who is it?” Harry heard her voice come through the intercom. At least he knew she was there. She couldn’t hide from him now.
“I have a package for Miss Elise Graves,” he said, disguising his voice, taking on Niall’s Irish accent.
“A package?” She questioned, sounding confused.
“A package, ma’am,” Harry confirmed.
“Oh-okay,” she said sounding unsure. Seconds later he heard the door buzz open. He was in.
Harry walked up to the second floor so he could find her door, but she found him first.
“Harry! What are you doing here?” He heard the disappointment in her voice when she saw him.
“You just open your door to anyone? I could be a rapist slash murderer, Elise,” Harry told her with a little chuckle.
“I thought I made myself pretty clear last night, Harry,” she said, ignoring his previous statement.
“Um, well. You forgot your pictures,” he said, holding out the box.
“My pictures,” she said as her eyes softened looking at the old shoe box.
Harry hated the sadness that filled her eyes when she thought about her brother. But he knew the pictures meant so much to her, so seeing the sadness didn’t stab him in the gut like it usually did.
“Just give me the pictures and go. Please,” she said with a sigh, reaching for the box.
“Not so fast, El,” he said, pulling the box out of her reach.
“Harry, please,” she whined as her eyes pleaded with him.
She wasn’t wearing makeup and she looked so incredibly beautiful. Harry loved seeing her like that.
“I’m not giving up and I’m not letting you give up, Ellie,” Harry told her firmly.
Elise growled under her breath and rolled her eyes. Harry knew she was going to make it hard. But he was prepared to fight.
Spring 2017 – London
As she unpack some of her boxes, Elise heard the door buzzer to her flat go off, which truly puzzled her. Who would be buzzing her door? She knew virtually no one in London. Figuring it was someone either fooling around or someone buzzing the wrong door, she pressed the button to talk just to see who was there.
“Uh, who is it?” She asked hesitantly.
“I have a package for Miss Elise Graves,” she heard an Irish man’s voice come through the intercom.
A package? Who the hell would send her a package? Maybe the radio station? But why would they send it and not just give it to her when she came into work. She was really confused.
“A package?” Elise questioned into the speaker.
“A package, ma’am,” the man confirmed. Hmm.
“Oh-okay,” she said and buzzed the door open.
Elise unlocked her door and pulled it open, stepping into the hallway. She wondered who on earth would be sending her a package. As she waited for the delivery man to bring it up, she had one foot in the door just in case it was some mad-man serial killer or something. But of course, it was worse.
She saw his hair first – the long curly mane he prided himself for. And then his eyes – the infatuating green orbs. And that damn smile she could get lost in if she didn’t catch herself.
Fucking Harry Styles.
Her heart squeezed painfully in her chest at the sight of him walking up the stairs toward her.
“Harry! What are you doing here?” She scoffed, feeling the annoyance at the fact that he was deliberately going against what she told him she wanted – which was for him to leave her alone.
“You just open your door to anyone? I could be a rapist slash murderer, Elise,” Harry said with a jovial chuckle.
“I thought I made myself pretty clear last night, Harry,” Elise huffed, ignoring his statement completely.
“Um, well. You forgot your pictures,” he said, holding out the same shoebox he showed her the night before.
“My pictures,” she said quietly, feeling a bit dazed.
Her heart once again squeezed in her chest – but this time it was more painful. This time it was a pain that she felt for the past decade. It was a pain that never left her, that would always haunt her. Edward – the pictures of Edward.
Winter 2012 – Holmes Chapel
Elise had to get out of there. She couldn’t sit and listen to them fighting anymore. It was never like this before. It was never like this when Edward was alive. Mum was sane back then – she was actually a mother. Dad was better – he’d never drink himself into a drunken rage like he did now. He wouldn’t hit her mother like he did now.
She could hear the crack of his hand as it hit her mother in the face. It rang through her head over and over again. She could hear her shrieking. It was only getting worse as the days went on.
Elise bundled herself up with what she could and pulled herself out of her window. She needed to get out. She needed to feel safe. She ran all the way to the Styles house through the cold and the snow. She didn’t care that she was only in her slippers, her thin pajama pants and a triple layer of sweatshirts to keep warm. She didn’t care that there was tears streaming down her face, making her colder with each second that she was outside. Harry wouldn’t care about how she looked, why should she?
Elise knocked on the front door hoping it would be Harry who answered. And if it couldn’t be Harry, then she hoped it would be Gemma. She could see the pity in her eyes when she showed up like this, but she never asked questions. She just led her to Harry. If it was Mr. or Mrs. Styles on the other hand, she had some explaining to do.
Much to her dismay, Mr. Styles answered the door this time.
“Elise. What… what’s the matter?” He asked, looking taken aback at the tears streaming down her face.
“I-I… I need to talk to Harry,” she sniffled.
“Come in out of the cold, sweetheart,” he said, placing his hand on her shoulder, leading her in.
“Is he… is he home?” Elise asked hopefully.
“He’s out with his mother and sister at the grocery store picking up some ice cream. It’s just me and the cats right now,” he said with a chuckle as he led her toward the kitchen.
“Oh,” she said quietly, as she wiped furiously at her wet eyes.
“Elise, can I get you anything? Water? A soda?” He asked.
“N-no. I’m okay,” she said quietly.
“You know you can talk to me if you want,” he told her.
“Can… uh, when will Harry be home?” She asked impatiently.
“They should be home soon,” he told her, giving her a look of concern.
“Can I… can I just wait for him in his room?” She asked.
“Elise,” he sighed.
“Please,” she pleaded with him.
“Go on,” he said, nodding toward the staircase.
With his permission, she darted toward the steps. As soon as she was in his room, she collapsed down on Harry’s bed, crying into his pillow. She never wanted to go home again. She wanted to stay here forever.
As she laid there waiting for Harry to get home, she thought back on the first twelve years of her life. She longed for those days with Edward. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t like this.
Remembering where Harry kept the pictures of Edward that she hide here from her mother’s wrath, she pulled herself off of the bed and onto the floor. Looking under his bed she spotted the old shoebox. She pulled it out and sat with her back against the bed. Flipping through the old pictures brought on a lot of pain, but it also brought comfort. Edward was gone, but she would always have these pictures that her best friend kept for her.
When Harry came through his bedroom door he immediately sat by Elise’s side. Without a word, he put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her to his chest. Her best friend was finally there and she felt safe once again.
Elise’s eyes focused on the shoebox as she tried to keep herself from tearing up. She didn’t need to cry in front of Harry again. She didn’t need him to have a reason to stick around. He needed to just give her the box and go on his way.
“Just give me the pictures and go. Please,” Elise said, reaching for the box.
She knew she was being cold, but it felt necessary. She felt if she didn’t react to him that way then he would think it was okay to just show up on her doorstep. And it wasn’t. She needed to just sever the ties with her past. She needed to start over and she couldn’t do that with him hanging around.
“Not so fast, El,” Harry said, pulling the pictures out of her reach.
She rolled her eyes so Harry could see it. How did she know the shoebox would have strings attached – strings that lead right to Harry?
“Harry, please,” she pleaded, hoping he would see the desperation in her eyes. She was desperate to just forget.
“I’m not giving up and I’m not letting you give up, Ellie,” Harry said finally.
Elise sighed heavily, bringing her forefinger and thumb up the bridge of her nose. He was going to make things difficult.
“Come on. Let’s talk,” he said, pushing past her into the flat. He was going to make things incredibly difficult.
“Harry,” she grumbled as she watched him walk further and further into her small space.
“You don’t have much going on in here, El,” he said, looking around.
“I just moved her,” she grumbled, closing the door behind them.
Yeah, so the flat walls were asylum white and she only had a raggedy old couch and a small TV sitting on a crate in her living room. She never really had much in the first place and that was okay with her. Who needed the clutter anyway?
“No pictures or anything?” He asked, turning to look at her.
“Oh, yeah. Who am I going to have pictures of? My parents? Besides, I forgot my One Direction poster back in Holmes Chapel,” she scoffed, being sarcastic and rude on purpose. She actually threw away all her One Direction posters in a rage over Harry dumping her five years ago.
“Well, good thing I brought some then,” he said, patting the shoebox under his arm as his eyes worked around the empty space again.
“No. Those aren’t going up,” she said, shaking her head.
Harry’s eyes met hers again and there was a sadness in them that she recalled seeing every time the subject of her brother was brought up. She knew the images that plagued him every time. He witnessed Edward die. He was there for every horrible moment of that day. That is not something someone ever got over. It’s not something someone could ever forget.
Harry’s stare was so intense that Elise had to look away. She couldn’t take it.
“I’m kind of busy, Harry,” she told him, trying to push him along in his quest to talk.
“It doesn’t look like you’re busy,” he said, looking around again at the empty space.
“And who are you to assume that?” She snapped at him.
“Sorry. It’s just… what were you doing before I came?” He asked.
“It really is none of your business. God. Just… say what you came here to say and leave, please,” she snapped.
“No. Ellie, we’re going to talk. We’re going to converse. And we’re going to try like hell to avoid sex this time,” he said firmly. She cringed at the fact that he brought up the sex – if it could even be called sex.
“So sit down. This might take a while,” he said, walking to the couch.
Elise growled under her breath and wrapped her arms around herself. He was making her uncomfortable just by being there.
“Sit down, Ellie,” he said, his voice coming out authoritative and she found herself obeying.
She sat down at the opposite end of the couch and waited for him to speak.
“This is kind of a sketchy neighborhood, El,” he pointed out.
“Thanks. I can take care of myself,” she sapped, pulling her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them.
“Do you keep your door locked?” He asked.
“Yes, Harry. I keep my door lock,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“It’s not locked right now,” he pointed out.
“Well, you’re here. You can save me from the ‘rapists slash murderers’ that you think are coming for me,” she said sarcastically. He gave her an annoyed look.
“Just be careful around here,” he suggested.
“Okay. Get on with it already,” she said impatiently.
“With what?” He asked.
“With what you need to say,” she grumbled.
“El… we need to talk,” he pointed out.
“You keep saying that. So talk,” she said, getting super annoyed with him. Harry sighed, looking down at carpet.
“There’s something going on with you, Ellie, and I don’t know what it is. But I want to know. I want you to tell me. I want you to let me help you,” he told her.
Her insides lurched as she bit her lip. She never wanted to plague Harry with the things she’d been through, with any of it. She didn’t want to bring him into her world. It was easier to just push him away. It was easier to hold a grudge toward him over the fact that he left her five years ago to move onto bigger and better things. To move on with models and superstars that didn’t have skeletons in their closet. The girls he dated after her didn’t have dead brothers haunting them or abusive father’s or emotionally absent mother’s. Harry lived a pretty privileged life and she shouldn’t blame him for running away, but she did anyway. He left her and she didn’t even want to try to get over that. She just wanted to blame him and hate him for it. Like she said, it was easier. She didn’t want to see the pity in his eyes. She didn’t want him feeling the burden. She didn’t want him blaming himself. She just wanted to blame him – that was better. She would blame him and he would be oblivious to what happened. He would lead his happy existence and just forget her. That would be easiest for both of them.
“Elise, you’re hiding something from me. I can see you trying to hold it back. Just tell me,” he urged, his voice coming out more powerful than before.
“I’m not hiding anything. Just… what is your deal? I’m not hiding anything. I’m not holding anything back, except for maybe screaming in your face that you need to leave. I just… what do you want from me?” She snapped, aggravated that he was trying to pry into her life.
“I WANT YOU TO TALK TO ME,” he growled.
“I have nothing to say to you, Harry,” she yelled, throwing up her hands.
“You’re lying to me!” He pressed.
Elise growled under her breath and stood up, beginning to pace back and forth around the room.
“Elise!” Harry snapped.
“What!?” She stopped to yell at him.
“You’re fucking acting crazy. Just tell me what is going on!” He said, sounding so desperate.
“I’m acting crazy!? You just fucking showed up on my doorstep pretending to be delivering a package,” she snapped.
“I have a package,” he said, patting the shoebox.
“How the hell did you get my address!?” She shot at him.
“I have connections, El,” he said quietly.
“Meaning Nick fucking Grimshaw, huh? He gave you my address, didn’t he?” She shot at him.
“No! God, El. Just stop. Stop changing the subject and just tell me why you freaked out last night. What was so bad about being with me?” He asked, sounding genuinely hurt that she walked out on him.
She knew she hurt him. She knew the second she stopped them that she was breaking his heart, but she just couldn’t stay. It was wrong. She was pulling him into her world and it wasn’t fair to him. She was broken. He deserved better. He deserved a stable girl, not someone who he constantly needed to save. Growing up she often felt like she was forever in Harry’s debt because he constantly had to fix her. She didn’t want to feel like that anymore. She wasn’t always sure of everything, but she was sure she wasn’t ready for the feelings of inadequacy to reappear when it came to him. Compared to Harry, she was insubstantial.
“Harry, just please,” she said abruptly, sitting back down on the couch, pushing the heels of her palms into her closed eyes.
“Elise…” He breathed out.
“Can we talk later?” She asked, letting her hands fall away from her face, her vision meeting his.
“We can talk now,” he pressed.
Elise sighed, leaning back against the couch, crossing her arms over her chest.
“It’s cool. I’ve got all day, El,” he said, leaning back against the couch, making himself comfortable.
“What is so hard to comprehend? I’m angry with you, Harry. I hate you, okay. I don’t want you in my life! You left. It was probably the best thing you ever did for yourself. What the fuck do you want back in my life for!?” Elise lashed out, sitting up on the edge of the couch cushion, feeling the anger boiling inside of her.
“You don’t hate me,” he said simply.
“Oh, I fucking do. Believe me,” she scowled.
“You don’t. You wouldn’t have kissed me the way you did last night, El,” he pointed out.
“Haven’t you ever heard of one night stands, Harry? Cause I’ve had plenty of them, alright,” she scoffed. Harry cringed at her revelation.
“It wasn’t that and you know it, El. You wouldn’t have stopped us if that was all it was,” he countered.
“If you have me all figured out then what the fuck are you doing here?” Elise growled.
“I don’t have you all figured out. You’re making me crazy because I have no idea what is going on with you, Elise,” he said impatiently.
“There’s nothing going on with me. You’ve just been away for too long. You forgot how crazy I can be,” she said, looking away from him.
“No. There’s more,” he pressed on.
“There’s not,” she said, swallowing the lump in her throat.
“I’ll keep coming back, El. You’ll have to move to get away from me. But I’ll just keep finding you. You can’t run anymore. Just… tell me what’s going on,” he threatened her.
“You sound like a fucking creep,” she snapped, glaring at him.
“I don’t care. You know I won’t hurt you,” he told her matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, physically,” she scoffed under her breath.
“I’M SORRY, OKAY! I’m sorry for leaving five years ago. I’m sorry for not calling. I’m sorry for not coming back. I’M FUCKING SORRY! No matter how many times I say it, you’re never going to accept it. Just… GOD!” Harry yelled.
“I don’t want to accept it. Just leave it at that,” she said stubbornly, crossing her arms over her chest again.
“You’re fucking selfish, you know that?” Harry shot at her.
“Ha,” she laughed out loud.
“Yeah, fucking say it, okay. Five years ago I was selfish, I was. I’ll be the first to admit it, Elise. But now it’s you. Now you’re the selfish one, okay,” he said, standing on his feet.
Elise sat silently staring at the wall, arms crossed, lips pursed. He was absolutely right, but she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of admitting it out loud.
“Here’s your fucking pictures,” he said, tossing the box on the couch cushion.
Her eyes darted to the absently placed shoebox of memories long forgotten. The last shreds of evidence that her brother actually existed.
“I’ll see you, Elise,” Harry said finally before he walked toward her door and exited through it.
Elise couldn’t help but stare at the door after he left. It is what she pushed for – for him to leave. But why did she feel so empty when he finally did?