Spring 2017 – London
She couldn’t focus. She needed to get things done and she couldn’t focus. She hated Harry for this. She hated that he was affecting her after all this time. She hated that he came to her work. She hated that he made her look like a massive wanker to everyone she worked with. How was she going to be taken seriously when she had Harry Styles hunting her down at work?
“Shit!” Elise yelped as she dropped one of the large boxes of merchandise she was stacking.
“Are you okay?” She heard the familiar voice of Nick Grimshaw from behind her.
“Oh my god! I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” she said, getting startled, turning quickly to face her new boss.
“It’s quite alright. Here, let me give you a hand,” he said, leaning down to grab up the box.
“No, no. I can get it,” she said, feeling like a complete idiot.
“Don’t worry about it,” he chuckled as he stacked the box for her.
“Thanks,” she said sheepishly.
“So you know Harry, huh?” Grimmy smirked at her.
“I used to,” she admitted.
“Used to, huh?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow at her.
She couldn’t tell if he was having a friendly conversation with her or if he was digging for gossip. He was a radio personality after all and Harry was a celebrity. But then again, Elise didn’t care whether or not anything she told Grimmy would affect Harry. Harry was out of her life. Harry didn’t matter to her now anyway.
“Mm-hmm. I haven’t seen him in five years… until today,” Elise admitted as she looked away from Grimmy, feeling a little awkward.
“Really?” He asked, crossing his arms over his chest, leaning against the doorway.
“Yep,” she nodded.
“So, how do you know Harry?” Grimmy asked curiously. Elise’s eyes came back up to meet his, trying to read him.
“Don’t worry. This is all off the record,” Grimmy chuckled brightly. She gave him a small, forced laugh.
“By the way you reacted to seeing him today, something must have happened between you two in the past,” Grimmy said, making her feel uncomfortable. Were they that obvious?
“He… he was my boyfriend. He was my best friend. Until he wasn’t anymore,” Elise said quietly.
“Oh,” Grimmy said, nodding his head.
“I’m… I’m sorry for him showing up like that. I hope it doesn’t look bad on my part with him coming here. I-I didn’t know,” she stammered, feeling her cheeks heat up.
“You’re fine. I was witness to the shock you were feeling,” he chuckled.
“Yeah,” she said awkwardly.
“Harry’s a good guy,” Grimmy pointed out. Elise nodded, not wanting to get into it with her boss.
“I… I was on your show once,” Elise blurted out, trying to change the subject. She didn’t want him to elaborate on his ‘Harry’s a good guy’ statement. It wasn’t going to change how she felt about him.
“You were?” Grimmy asked, looking intrigued as he smiled at her.
“I was. You had Harry sing happy birthday to me,” she smiled at the silly memory. She thought it was such a big deal that she was on the Nick Grimshaw’s radio show.
“I remember that! Elise. Yes. It’s all coming back to me,” he chuckled.
“Mm-hmm,” she said, nodding her head.
“Wow. That was a long time ago. And look at you now, working here,” he said, smiling brightly at her.
“I’ve always wanted to be in radio,” she told him honestly.
“You got yourself a good start here,” he said, smiling widely.
“I know I do. I am very fortunate,” she said with a small smile.
“You’re a good kid. Keep up the good work, Elise. We’ll talk later, yeah?” He said, stepping away from the doorway.
“Sure. Thank you,” she told him.
He left the room a moment later with a little wave and a smile. Elise took a deep breath and went back to doing her job. That small little conversation did wonders for her. She was still pissed at Harry, but Grimmy was cool and she knew nothing would be held against her because of Harry’s impromptu visit.
After work, Elise almost expected to get a phone call immediately from Harry. But it didn’t come. She went home feeling emotionally and physically drained. It was feelings she was familiar with, but they were ones her body would never be used to. She curled up in her living room on the small second-hand sofa she picked up earlier in the week. Her eyes fluttered shut and she was lost for a little while in a dreamy existence.
Winter 2011 – Holmes Chapel
“Do you ever think about it?” She asked Harry as they sat in the living room in the Styles house.
“About what?” Harry asked.
“The day… the day my brother died,” Elise stammered. She watched as Harry cringed from her words.
“El…” He breathed, as he gave her a worried look.
“I think about it… a lot,” she told him.
“Elise,” he sighed.
“He was my brother, Harry,” she said, looking straight into his eyes as the tears welled up.
“I know, but…” He started.
“I just… sometimes I just need to… I just need to talk about him, Harry. Sometimes I need someone to talk to about him. I have no one. You’re it,” she said as a barrage of tears overwhelmed her eyes.
“I can be that for you,” he told her with a small nod.
“You were there, Harry. You were there,” she cried.
“I know,” Harry said, grabbing her into a hug.
“Do you think about it?” She cried into the flannel shirt he was wearing.
“How can I not? I have never to this day witnessed something so tragic,” Harry told her as he kept his arms wrapped tightly around her.
“Did you see it? Did you see him hit the ground?” She asked.
“Ellie…” Harry sighed.
“Did you, Harry?” She asked, pulling away from him to look into his eyes.
“Yeah,” he sighed quietly.
“I don’t remember. I can’t remember it,” she told him.
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” he offered, looking pained.
“Why don’t I remember though? I was standing right next to you,” she told him.
“What you went through that day, Ellie… It was a tragic, life-changing thing. And we were young. Pretty much, you lost everything that day. When your brother died, your family died with him. Your mum died and your dad died. You all died. The ‘you’ you used to be – the people you all were. You all died,” Harry said sadly. He was right. Nothing was ever the same after that.
“I don’t ever want to forget him, Harry,” Elise sobbed, collapsing back against his chest.
“You won’t, El. You won’t,” Harry said, wrapping his arms tightly around her again.
“Mum started burning the pictures of him,” she told Harry.
“She what?” He choked out.
“She was drinking. And crying. And she started throwing his pictures into the fireplace,” Elise cried.
“Oh my god,” Harry gasped.
“When she went to go refill her wine in the kitchen, I scooped up as many pictures as I could and hid them in my room,” she told him.
“Why would she do that?” Harry asked, looking horrified.
“I’m afraid she’s going to find them, Harry. I don’t want her to destroy them. I don’t want to forget him,” she cried.
“Bring them here. Bring all of them here. I’ll keep them safe for you. I promise,” Harry told her.
“I will. Thanks, Harry,” she told him as she wiped her tears.
“I’ll always be here for you,” Harry told her.
Elise woke up to the obnoxious ringing of her cell phone. Without a second thought or a glance at who it might be, she answered it.
“Elise,” she heard Harry’s unmistakable deep voice come through the line, sounding relieved that she answered.
“Harry,” she groaned.
“I-I didn’t think you would pick up,” he admitted.
“You caught me at a bad time,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Ellie, can we… can we get together? Can we meet up and talk?” He asked hopefully.
“Right now?” She choked out, looking at the clock. It was already after eight o’clock – she wasn’t going anywhere.
“Sometime. Sometime soon. It doesn’t have to be right now,” he told her.
“Harry,” she sighed.
“Jesus, Ellie. Come on. You have to… you have to hear me out,” he said, practically growling out his frustration.
“I really don’t have to do anything that concerns you,” she spat back at him.
“Elise,” he sighed.
“Harry, I’m busy. I have a lot of things going on, okay. I don’t have time for this,” she told him.
It was a lie. She had nothing in particular going on outside of the three days a week she interned at the station. She was planning on maybe getting a job in like a coffee shop or something to earn some extra cash. But so far, she didn’t take the time out to apply. She just really didn’t want to deal with Harry, so she was making up excuses.
“You can’t avoid me anymore, El. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. We were brought back in each other’s lives for a reason. It’s not just coincidence,” he said, talking some bullshit.
“Oh, you think so?” She scoffed.
“I know so. I’m not going anywhere. I will do whatever it takes to get you to hear me out. There’s an easy way and there’s a hard way, Elise. Take your pick,” Harry said boldly. Elise scoffed loudly into the receiver. Mother fucker. He had some nerve.
“Dickhead Harry, strikes again,” Elise scowled.
“I’m not being a dickhead. I’m just letting you know upfront that I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer. I’m not giving up,” Harry told her honestly.
“I hope you enjoy disappointment,” she scoffed.
“Elise, I will get you to see me. We will work through this,” he said confidently.
“What if I don’t want to? Huh, Harry? What then? I’ve spent the last five years trying to expel you from my mind – to make the pain go away. I don’t want to open the wounds, Harry. I’m tired. I’m tired of it all. It didn’t work out, okay. We didn’t work out. Don’t do this to me,” she said in a pleading tone.
“I’m not doing anything to you. I just want a chance to apologize. Why can’t you just see that?” He asked.
“You’ve had five years, Harry. At some point I need to draw the line,” she said firmly.
“You are a stubborn woman!” Harry growled.
“You should know me well enough to know that,” she shot at him.
“Oh, I know it,” he said, sounding annoyed.
“I’ve got to go, Harry,” she told him.
“I’ll see you at the studio then?” He asked.
“What?” She choked out.
“Well, since you’re not going to meet up with me, I’ll just have to come to you,” he said and she knew he was playing games with her.
“You better not come down to the studio ever again, Harry. Don’t be a fuck-head,” she growled and Harry chuckled at her name calling.
“You know you’re leaving me no choice. Like I said, there is an easy way and a hard way,” he stated.
“I hate you,” she growled.
“You wish you could. But I know you don’t,” Harry said confidently. She really did hate him in that moment. His ego was pissing her off.
“If you show up at the studio, so help me god, Harry…” She growled and he chuckled again.
“What?” She spat out, feeling extremely annoyed with him.
“It’s as if no time has passed at all. We’re bickering like we used to,” he said amusingly.
“I hate this, Harry. I hate this,” she whined at him.
“Meet me,” he said.
Elise gritted her teeth together. He was going to make it hard. She knew it. She wouldn’t be able to avoid him – not now.
“Where?” She growled.
“Anywhere. I don’t care. Just… anywhere,” he said with a little too much excitement in his voice for her liking.
She went with the most generic of places – Starbucks. It was public and not an intimate enough setting where Harry could like, make a move on her. She didn’t need to go down that road with him again. She just needed him to say his peace and for them to be done with it. They would meet a day after tomorrow.
Everything in her gut was telling her to run away – to just get the hell out of town. Change her number, change her occupation – but she knew it was ridiculous. She knew she needed to face her problems head on. And Harry… he was problem number one.
Spring 2017 – London
Harry was half expecting Elise to not show up as planned. When she finally walked in the door of the Starbucks they decided on, his stomach turned violently. It meant so much to him that she showed – that he was in her presence again. Harry knew he came off as a dick on the phone with her, but she just wasn’t listening to him. As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.
As he stood to greet her, he couldn’t help but be reminded of the day it all truly began with him and Elise… because he secretly hoped this would be the day they began again.
Spring 2012 – Holmes Chapel
It was three days since the last time Harry saw Elise. It was three days since One Direction was on Radio One. It was three days since Harry kissed her. She was avoiding him – that much was apparent. He had to do something about it. He wasn’t just going to sit back and wait for her to completely push him out of her life. He needed to tell her how he felt.
Knocking on her bedroom window was something he did often. But the feelings he was feeling were all new to him. He’d never been fearful when knocking on her window. But he feared she would push him away. He didn’t want to have to go knocking on her front door if she refused to come to the window. But luckily the curtains pulled back and he was staring in the face of his best friend again. He was the only one that ever knocked on her window looking for entrance, so he guessed it was a good sign that she didn’t just completely ignore him.
“Ellie,” Harry said when she opened the window.
“Harry,” she said, before she moved out of the way to let him in.
He couldn’t quite read her. He didn’t know what she was thinking or feeling. He couldn’t even guess what she was thinking or feeling.
“Where have you been?” He asked nonchalantly as he hopped inside the window.
“Around,” she said, shrugging her shoulders as she sat down on her bed, crossing her leg over the other. Her body language was telling him she was uncomfortable with him being there and he hated it.
“Listen, El…” Harry started to say.
“Harry. No,” she said, waving her hand in the air.
“What do you mean?” He asked, looking at her oddly.
“You… just… you don’t need to come up with some dumb excuse to why you kissed me. It’s cool, okay. We’re cool,” she said as a blush crept up her cheeks.
“Elise,” he sighed.
“Just stop. Don’t say my name like that… like you always do when you don’t know how to break something to me,” she said, crossing her arms over her middle in a self-conscious way.
“Elise, stop,” Harry told her. She had it all wrong. Her eyes looked up into his and she looked so vulnerable.
“I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you,” he told her.
Her breathing hitched in her throat, only slightly. If he hadn’t been watching her every move, he would have missed it.
“Harry…” She breathed.
“Elise, you have no idea,” Harry said, sitting down next to her on the bed.
“What, Harry?” She asked. He pulled her arms away from her body so he could take her hands in his.
“I don’t remember when it all started – it’s just something that has gradually developed. I didn’t have an epiphany – I just kind of always knew,” he said, looking down at her hands in his.
“What?” She choked out.
“I love you, El,” he said, looking up into her hopeful eyes.
“W-what?” She choked out.
“I love you, okay. I think I’ve always loved you,” he told her.
“This can’t be real. Is this real?” She asked, looking at him oddly.
“It’s real, El. I promise,” he told her.
“Harry…” She breathed out.
“Do you think… I mean, is it possible that you might feel the same?” He asked.
“Always,” she choked out as her tears began to fall.
“Can I get you something?” Harry asked Elise, pointing at the Starbucks baristas behind the counter.
“Can we just… can we just get this over with?” She asked, looking uncomfortable n his presence.
“Elise,” Harry sighed, shaking his head.
“You say my name like it’s going to change things, Harry. It’s not going to change a god damn thing, okay,” she said impatiently.
“Can we sit? Will you just sit, please?” He asked, narrowing his eyes at her. Her bad attitude was discouraging, but it wouldn’t stop him from saying what he needed to say.
“Fine,” she said, sounding displeased.
“I don’t even know where to start,” Harry said, feeling flustered just being in her presence. She pursed her lips together, getting annoyed with him.
“Look, can you please just stop looking at me like you want to murder me? I get it, okay. What I did was fucked up – how I ended things with you, alright. Just… god. I’ve spent the last five years trying to make myself into a better person. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never forgive myself for breaking your heart. That will always haunt me. You deserved so much more from me – so much better than what I gave you… than how I left you. That’s something that will never leave me. But now I’m… I’m here, Ellie. I’m here begging for your forgiveness. I just… I want to make this right,” he told her sincerely.
Elise wasn’t looking at him, but Harry knew she was listening. He knew she was biting her lip, trying to hold back her emotions. He knew his words affected her more than she cared to let on. But the only thing that mattered was whether or not she was going to be able to forgive him – whether or not they were going to be able to move on from this. Harry was hopeful, but that didn’t mean things were going to go the way he planned.