12AM

“It’s almost twelve,” Harry breathed quietly in Maya’s ear, despite the fact that all of their friends were mere feet away from them. Maya’s breathing hitched. It was never spoken out loud that 12 am was a thing between them. It was just something she’d noticed – like a coincidence. She looked at Harry questioningly, wondering if it was planned that way all along. Like it was his master plan for all these years. 12 am. It was their time. “You…” She breathed, unable to finish the sentence. “I covet this time of night,” he whispered, leaving a kiss on her forehead before walking away, silently begging her to follow him.

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4. Part Four

{Christmas Eve 2015}

Maya could barely drag herself out of her apartment to go to Louis’ Ugly Christmas Sweater/Birthday Party. She felt absolutely hideous in the jumper she chose for the party. It was red with a massive Santa face on the front of it and it made her look frumpy and gross. Her self-esteem was already so low, she didn’t even know how she’d be able to face anyone at the party, let alone Harry – who she hadn’t spoken to in almost three weeks. He’d text her, but she never replied. As far as she knew, he thought everything was okay between them. And she knew that it should be – that seeing him with another girl shouldn’t have fucked her up so badly. But it did and she didn’t know how to get over that.

So walking into Louis and Harry’s flat alone, wearing a hideous Santa face jumper and little to no self-esteem, threw her for a loop… or twenty. She wasn’t ready to see his face.

“MAYA MAY!” She heard Louis scream immediately. She could tell just by looking at him in his Christmas vest and turtleneck, double fisting two drinks, that he was already completely pissed.

“Hi, Louis. Happy Birthday,” Maya said with a timid smile.

“Happy Birthday to me and happy Christmas to you! It’s so good to see you, love,” Louis said, leaning in to leave a wet kiss on her lips.

“You, too,” she said quietly.

“Come, come. Everyone’s here. You’re a bit late by the way. Is everything okay?” Louis said, throwing an arm around her shoulder, sloshing a bit of beer on her in the process.

“Oh, yeah. Um, I just I couldn’t figure out which ugly sweater to wear,” Maya lied.

“Well, you’ve chosen well. That is the ugliest Claus I’ve ever seen,” Louis laughed, checking out her jumper as they walked into the living room.

“Maya!” Camille and Eleanor said at the same time.

“Hi,” Maya said, smiling at her two friends.

“I’m glad you’re finally here!” Camille said, stumbling off her boyfriend Jeremy’s lap, throwing her arms around Maya in a hug.

“Yeah,” Maya said quietly as her eyes connected with Harry’s from across the room.

His smile was all for her, but she could tell there were questions in his eyes. Where have you been? Why haven’t you text me back? What’s up with you lately? She could only imagine.

“C’mon, c’mon. I’ll get you a drink!” Camille said, pulling out of Maya’s arms, breaking her eye contact with Harry.

Camille pulled her into the kitchen where the keg sat in an ice filled bucket that was surrounded by a bunch of their friends.

“One beer please!” Camille said to Niall who already had the tap in his hand, ready to pour.

“Maya, glad to see ya,” Niall said, smiling at her as he filled up a red solo cup for her.

“You too, Niall,” Maya said, smiling at him fondly. A moment later he handed her the brimming full cup.

“I don’t know if I can drink all of this. I’m not feeling well,” Maya said to Camille.

“Nonsense. I know why you’re acting so standoffish and really, there is no need to be. He was already asking about you, you know,” Camille said quietly as they walked away from the keg.

“No. What? No. That’s not why—” Maya tried to protest.

“Listen, Maya. Louis told Eleanor, who told me that Harry never even hooked up with that girl. I guess they were friends when they were kids or something,” Camille went on to say.

“Stop. Just stop. I don’t care about that. Why are you telling me that?” Maya said, shaking her head. Wasn’t Camille the one telling her to forget about Harry a couple of weeks before?

“You know why,” Camille said, eyeing her knowingly.

“You’re drunk and you’re being ridiculous. Will you just drop it? I don’t care,” Maya said, even though it was a lie and Camille knew it.

“Okay, okay. Whatever you say,” Camille said, holding her hands up defensively.

Maya got about halfway through her cup of beer before Harry managed to make his way over to her.

“Hey,” he said quietly, cornering her in the kitchen.

“Hey,” she said casually as she took another sip from her cup.

“Where have you been?” He asked immediately and she mentally checked the question off her list of questions she knew he’d ask her.

“Um, around. I guess I’ve kind of been a hermit lately,” Maya said, shrugging her shoulders passively.

“Oh. Yeah, I uh, text you… a bunch of times actually. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought you died or something,” Harry told her.

“Nope. I’m still kickin’ it,” she said, feeling ten shades of awkward.

“Yeah. I can see that. It also crossed my mind that you might be angry with me for some reason,” Harry continued.

“Oh, uh, no,” Maya said, shaking her head, trying to act casual.

“Really? Cause I mean, everyone seems to have heard from you but me,” Harry pointed out.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for… I didn’t— sorry,” she stammered, feeling her whole face heat up.

“So you’re not angry?” He asked, quirking an eyebrow at her.

“Nope,” she said evenly, taking another sip of her beer.

“I don’t know. It seems… it’s seems kind of weird right now,” he pointed out.

“Weird? How?” She asked, even though she knew it was painfully weird.

“I don’t know. Usually we’d already be doing shots or goofing around with each other by now. But it’s just… tense,” he told her.

“I don’t know. I’m not really feeling well tonight. As a matter of fact, this beer is only making my stomach feel worse,” Maya said, setting the cup down on the countertop behind her.

“Oh,” Harry said as his eyes raked over her entire face at least a hundred times as they stood there staring at each other.

“I promise I’m not angry,” Maya tried to assure him again, but he still didn’t seem convinced. His eyebrow quirked again.

“Harry, seriously,” she whined, wishing his interrogation would end.

“Alright,” he said, finally letting his face relax. She watched a sly smile turn up his lips.

“What?” She asked.

“Nice jumper,” he said with a light laugh.

“Like you have any room to talk,” she snorted, reaching out to press Rudolph’s nose on his sweater and almost jumped when it lit up and started blinking.

“Ohmygod!” Maya laughed.

“It’s great, innit?” Harry laughed proudly.

“It’s something,” Maya said, covering her mouth with her hand as she giggled.

Seconds later Harry leaned in, pressing his lips ever so slightly to her ear lobe.

“I’ve missed you,” he whispered and pulled back to look in her eyes again.

“You too,” she breathed quietly, feeling the thick sexual tension between them.

A moment later Eleanor and Camille came rushing into the kitchen to get Louis’ birthday cake and recruited her to help them light the candles, breaking her away from Harry.

Once the cake was demolished and Louis decided it was time for shots, Maya pulled Camille aside to tell her that she was going to go because she didn’t feel well. It was a cop out, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t having fun. She just felt like she was pulling everyone’s moods down as they tried to get her to have a good time. It wasn’t easy to convince a drunk Camille that she needed to go. There was an argument and a lot of begging, but finally Maya was in a cab headed back to her flat alone.

Maya immediately pulled off her stupid Santa jumper and threw it in the back of her closet, hoping she wouldn’t have to see it again for another year. She stripped down to her bra and panties and made her way into the bathroom to clean off all her makeup and take off her jewelry. She just wanted to go to bed. But her large lonely bed sat in the middle of her room, taunting her. It hadn’t seen any action in almost two months and that only brought her spirits down further. She was hung up on an emotionally unavailable guy and she wasn’t sure if she’d ever get over him.

Nevertheless, she crawled in-between the crisp, cool sheets and pulled the blankets up to her chin. But her mind was her enemy and so was the clock. She looked over to see it was only 11:45. She barely spent an hour and a half at Louis’ birthday party. She knew she was fading. She knew that soon she would have to face her demons rather than avoid them. But she also knew she didn’t have to deal with them anymore that night. She could relax and deflect until morning, but unfortunately for her, it wasn’t that easy. Every time she looked at the clock, only a few minutes had passed and she was unable to stop thinking about her feelings. It was going to be a long night.

“Happy Christmas to me,” she said sarcastically to herself.

Just as her brain began to finally shutdown, she heard the text chime on her phone. For a moment she decided to ignore it, but when her eyes flit over the clock again to see the large numbers displaying 12:00 AM, she knew exactly who the text was from and she could no longer ignore the itch in her blood for him. Her arm reached out to retrieve her cell phone and she quickly opened up the text. She could immediately feel the pride and elation in her chest when she was proven right – the text was from him. As if it was some sort of grand prize at the end of her shitty night.

I’m right outside your flat. I brought champagne.

Her gut wrenched painfully. Why? Why was he there? Maya sat up in her bed and contemplated her options. She could ignore him and hope he’d go away. Or she could let him up…

She slid quietly out of bed and grabbed for her robe, sliding it on her shoulders to cover herself up before quickly typing a reply.

I’ll buzz you in.

Maya’s whole entire body was wracked with nerves as she waited for him to make his way up to her apartment. She sat on the couch, wrapped up in her robe, shaking from the cold. When she heard a light knock on her door, she called for him to come in. She couldn’t breathe in the moments between. When Harry crossed over the threshold into her apartment with a megawatt smile on his face, her nerves were completely shot.

“Hi,” he whispered, as if there were someone else in the apartment that he was trying not to wake up.

“Hi,” she whispered back, mainly because her body wasn’t allowing her voice to come out any louder.

“You left the party,” he said matter-of-factly, staring at her from across the room with a bottle of champagne in his hand. She noticed he wasn’t wearing his silly light-up Rudolph jumper any longer. Instead it was replaced with a white t-shirt and black peacoat that he slipped off his shoulders and hung on the coat rack by the door like he’d done so many nights before.

“Yeah. I don’t feel well,” she told him sheepishly.

“It’s a good thing I came over then,” he told her with a sly smirk on his face as he kicked off his boots.

“Why is that?” She questioned.

“So I can take care of you,” he said matter-of-factly.

Maya’s brow furrowed in question, completely shocked by his answer. Harry set the bottle of champagne down on the small table by the door and crossed the room toward her. She sucked in a breath and held it in as he lifted his hand to check the temperature of her forehead.

“You don’t feel warm,” he told her.

“It’s, uh… it’s my stomach,” she told him.

“Are you shivering?” He asked, noticing her obviously shaking in her thin robe.

“It’s cold in here,” she told him.

“Let’s get you to bed. C’mon,” he said, waving his hand through the air to motivate her to move.

“Harry…” she challenged.

“Come on, My,” he said, gripping her hand and leading her off the couch.

To her complete and utter surprise, he tucked her into bed and left a kiss on her forehead. He didn’t try to make a move on her. He was a gentleman through and through.

“Do you want some water? Or some medicine for your tummy?” He asked lovingly and it made her heart ache.

“Um, some water, maybe?” She said and he immediately nodded his head and disappeared out of her bedroom.

She could hear him in her kitchen, going through her cupboards, trying to find a glass, she supposed. He was less familiar with the other rooms in her house, rather than her bedroom. A few moments later he came back into the room and set a glass of water down on the nightstand.

“I’ve gotten you some antacids, just in case you want them,” he said, dropping two tablets onto the nightstand next to the glass.

“Thank you, Harry,” she said quietly.

She half expected him to leave now that he had her all tucked in, but he surprised her again and laid down next to her in the bed.

“You don’t have to stay,” she said quietly.

“I want to,” he told her softly. She sent him an odd look, which caused him to laugh.

“Besides, the party is still going on at my flat and I have to get up early for Christmas morning. How am I supposed to get any sleep there?” He explained.

“You want to sleep over?” She asked, her eyebrows heightening in surprise.

“Would you mind?” He asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“N-no. Do what you want,” she stammered, feeling surprised and elated – and she hated herself just a little bit for feeling that way.

Harry leaned in a second later and left a soft kiss on her lips.

“Get some sleep, love,” he breathed and closed his eyes after pulling the blankets over his body.

Maya laid there for a long time watching him as he lay with his head on the pillow, his eyes closed, trying to get some sleep. Even when his breathing evened out and she knew he was asleep, she continued to watch him. He was beautiful. Everything about him. She had never been able to look at him for so long. She never had the nerve to. But now with him unconscious and vulnerable she had the perfect opportunity. She fell asleep somewhere during the wee hours of the morning with her stomach tied in knots. Everything was so complicated and she didn’t know what to do about it.

“Happy Christmas,” Harry croaked in her ear, waking her up in the morning.

For a moment, she was caught off guard because he was still there, still in her bed, sitting up against the head board. She also noticed that at some point, in the in the few hours she was asleep, he disrobed and was now only wearing his boxer briefs.

“Happy Christmas,” she replied, doing her best not to breathe on him with her morning breath.

“I need to be going soon,” he told her.

“Oh,” she said quietly, unable to keep the disappointment out of her tone.

“I’ve got to get to my Mum’s for Christmas morning, but I didn’t want to just leave, you know,” he told her.

“Oh, okay,” she nodded.

“Are you feeling better?” he asked as she sat up in the bed, her robe slung open, revealing her bra and panties.

“Yes. I think so,” she said quietly, idly rubbing her hand against her stomach.

“Good,” he said, smiling over at her.

“Yeah,” she said quietly, feeling almost stunned, like her brain was having a hard time catching up with the situation.

“I should go,” he said again and she finally looked up at him.

“Okay,” she said with a nod.

“Are you going to be okay?” He asked, looking almost concerned.

“I’m fine. Thank you,” she told him, sending him a soft smile to reassure him.

“Alright,” he said leaning in to kiss her forehead sweetly.

She watched him slide out of the bed and pick up his clothes off the floor, taking them into the bathroom with him. Maya got out of bed and tied her robe tightly against her waist and headed out to the kitchen. Maybe she could send him off with some coffee.

She quickly flitted around her kitchen finding the coffee beans and filters, prepping the machine before it began to percolate. Harry came out a moment later, his hair pulled up in a bun, his face looking freshly cleaned and his clothes replaced back on his body.

“Do you want some coffee… to go?” She asked him hesitantly.

“Uh, sure,” he said with a nod.

The two of them stood in silence as the pot of coffee finished. Maya already had a to-go cup ready and waiting on the countertop and when the coffee was ready she poured it in, but not to the top, because she knew he liked milk and sugar in it. Without even asking, she grabbed the milk from the fridge and poured some in. And then dropped a spoonful of sugar in, stirring it for him. She pushed the lid on and handed it to him, noticing the wide smile on his lips.

“You know my coffee order?” He asked, his smile turning into a smirk.

“Oh, well… I know a lot of people’s coffee order. I know that Niall and Zayn like it black. I know that you and Liam share the same order. I know that Camille puts so much milk and sugar in hers that you can’t even really consider it coffee anymore. I know that Eleanor likes cappuccino. I know that Louis prefers tea, but if he’s drinking coffee he likes two sugars…” Maya rambled on as Harry quirked his eyebrow curiously at her.

“I…I know my beverages…” she said sheepishly, feeling like a babbling idiot.

“And how do you like your coffee?” Harry asked, quirking his head to the left.

“Like you and Liam…” she said quietly, biting at her lip.

“Good to know,” he said finally.

“Yeah,” she said, nodding her head.

“Well, I should go,” he told her, turning out of the small kitchen with a small smile on his face. Maya followed him out, making sure her robe was still tied tightly.

“Oh, by the way, I’ve got a Christmas present for you,” Harry told her, catching her completely off guard.

“You do?” She asked, feeling surprised and a bit thrown.

“I do,” he said, setting the coffee down on the small table by the door, next to his bottle of unopened champagne. A moment later he dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out a tiny red box with a tiny green bow on it.

He’d never gotten her a Christmas present before. The only presents their group of friends do is a Secret Santa gift exchange and in the two Christmases she’d been a part of, Harry had never gotten her name – nor she him. She got him a gift last Christmas at the height of her crush for him, but never gave it to him because she felt stupid. But when putting up her tree this holiday, she found the unopened gift in her Christmas box and placed it under the tree, just in case.

Maya bit her lip as he handed the small box to her and she took it in her hands. She was almost afraid to open it. It looked like a jewelry box and that fact sent a wave of anxiety through her, because on one hand she was hoping for jewelry from Harry and on the other hand, she was scared to death to get jewelry from Harry because she didn’t know what it meant.

“Open it,” Harry urged her and she realized she was just staring at the box.

Slowly, with shaky fingers, Maya lifted off the top of the box and her eyes were met with two diamond earrings.

“Harry,” she gasped, her heart beating a mile a minute.

“Do you like them?” He asked, sounding hopeful.

“I do,” she said quietly, staring at the earrings, wondering what they symbolized.

“Gemma helped me pick them out,” Harry told her.

Her stomach turned. His sister helped him shop for jewelry for her?

“Why?” She asked, looking up at him. His happy face noticeably dropped with her one word.

“Because… I’m not really good at picking out presents… especially jewelry,” he said, sounding a bit insecure.

“No. No, I mean, why earrings? Why would you get me jewelry?” She asked, feeling like she was having an out of body experience or something.

“Because they’re pretty and you’re pretty,” he stated, like it was the obvious answer.

“Oh,” she said, looking back down at the earrings.

“You don’t like them?” He asked, sounding disappointed.

“No. I-I love them, Harry. I do,” Maya said, sliding her finger across the beautiful stones.

“Good. You can think of me when you wear them,” he told her, sounding pleased once again.

“Yeah,” she said quietly, unable to pry her eyes away from her gift.

“Well, I should be going,” he told her.

“Wait,” she said, snapping out of her daze as she set the tiny box on the table by the couch and reached for the present for him that sat under her tree.

“I got you this,” she said, crossing the room to hand him the small gift.

“You did?” He asked, smiling widely at her. She nodded, appreciating the smile she put on his face.

Harry quickly ripped off the wrapping paper that she wrapped a year prior. He opened the small box and swiped away the tissue paper to find a leather bound journal with his initials burnt into the corner of the cover.

“Maya,” he breathed, pulling out the journal, setting the box and wrapping paper on the table next to him.

“I know you like to write and I figured you can never have too many journals,” Maya explained.

“It’s perfect,” he said, smiling widely at her before closing the gap between them, pulling her into a tight hug.

“Thank you,” he breathed in her ear.

“Thank you,” she said quietly into his shoulder blade. He pulled away just enough to leave a soft kiss on her lips.

“You’re the best,” he told her, staring deeply into her eyes as his hand slipped slyly into the front of her robe, touching her warm skin. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“I’ll talk to you soon, okay,” he breathed against her lips and she could noticeably smell the hint of mint on his breath. Had he brushed his teeth?

“Yeah,” she said quietly, and Harry left another kiss on her lips before pulling away from her altogether to put on his jacket. Maya tightened her robe once again.

“I’ll see you later,” Harry said, grabbing the coffee and champagne, one in each hand, while the journal rest under his arm.

Maya quickly moved toward the door and opened it for him. He let out a little laugh before he thanked her again.

“Happy Christmas, Maya,” he told her.

“Happy Christmas, Harry,” she said and sent him a smile just before he disappeared out the door and she shut it behind him.

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