Eucatastrophe ~ h.s.

This isn't how I planned any aspect of my life to occur.

The plan was simple: Finish university with a 4.0 GPA, Get a well-paying corporate job that's more intense than the assistant job I've now, Find a man that loves me for me, Get married at a gorgeous ceremony, Have beautiful children, Grow old with the man of my dreams and watch our kids mature right before our eyes, and Then fall deeper and deeper in love with our time together.

That Night wasn't supposed to happen. My life wasn't supposed to turn out like this.

*Contains: Language, mild sexual content, and a bit of violence. Content could be triggering for some.*

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58. ✗ fifty-six ✗

A/N: Do keep in mind that I am technically from the States so I'm not 100% sure how the court systems work in the U.K.. So enjoy the next few court room chapters!

 

SHAY

4 October

"Darling?" I can hear Harry calling my relatively new nickname from across the room at the doorway.

Normally, I'd send him a cheeky grin before standing tall and wrapping my arms round his torso. But today I just can't bring myself to do so, I can hardly bring myself to move a muscle. My body remains too numb to even bring my eyes from my clammy hands holding protectively my twenty-six week bump.

The dread and fear rule my body, taking charge of my thoughts, emotions, and actions. I can't feel my legs, but I know they're there because I can see them, unless the fear deceives me. My hands shake and sweat as if I've been working out for hours. The only body part that I can feel moving isn't actually my body part to move at all.

I can't take any of the credit; it's all on her.

She began kicking one night a couple weeks ago, giving both Harry and I a fright. In the end, waking after midnight and staying up for two hours just to admire her movements was definitely worth it.

"Love?"

"Huh?"

I do little to actually acknowledge his presence within the room, but still make more of a connection than last time.

This time I have the mere strength to pull my eyes from my stomach and spot Harry stood before me with Detective Briar at the door. No amount of prep could ready me for this moment and there is no shying away now.

"It's time."

With Detective Briar's announcement Harry kneels before my distraught body, placing a hand on my knee and the other on my cheek. His thumb wipes a single tear from my skin, bringing the realization that'd I've been crying to the surface.

"I don't know if I can do this." I whimper quietly like a child and grab Harry's hand, holding it tightly to me. "I'm... I'm so scared."

No one likes to admit they're scared, at least no one in their right mind.

Some, like my parents, see it as cowardly and frown upon it. For me, it's like a sign that I'm letting my attacker get to me, that I'm allowing him to control my emotions and drag me down into the darkness of depression.

However, right now it seems to be the only emotion I can think to admit aloud. Again, the dread and fear rule me. I'm their bloody puppet and I can't break free, no matter how hard I try.

"I know, Shay. I know you're scared and I know that you're feeling quite lousy right now. But, baby, I'll be right with the entire step of the way. You are the strongest person that I know and you can do this. After today you will never have to relive that night or see his ugly mug ever again. We can live as close to normal as we possibly can." His words bring the slightest of smiles to my lips, which in turn cause Harry to smile.

"I just want this all to be over."

"After today, it will be. Shay, I promise."

"Okay." I say with a large sigh.

Harry helps me stand to my feet and takes my bag off the ground, holding it for me. I take a hold of Harry's outstretched hand as we follow Detective Briar out of the office I've been sat in for like two hours now and down the corridor towards the courtroom.

We remain silent as we approach the courtroom, where my lawyer awaits the three of us at the door. I know she's the best in London and she shows it by the way she dresses. Her pleated skirt and professional blazer tailor to her legal attire as her glasses perch upon the end of her nose. Harry had hired her the first day he could, searching all over the city for the best lawyer he could get his hands on. Fawn Roberts is just that, the best lawyer in all of London.

"Are you ready, Shay?" She asks as we all approach.

I look up to Harry as if asking permission and he simply nods his head and gives my hand a squeeze. I can't seem to let him go. I know this is the last time I'm be in his touch until after the courts been adjourned for the jury to discuss.

"Shay, if you'll come with me we'll take our seats. Harry will have to stay seated behind the barrier, but he'll be right behind us, I promise. Detective Chris Briar and Damian Scott will also be in the room, sat near Harry and will be called to the stand along with Doctor Barnes, the officers who met with you at the hospital, and the officers who arrived first at the scene of the rape." I gulp nervously as I peer into the courtroom behind Fawn.

It's practically full of people that I've never seen before; aside from a few I do know. Harry had asked Anne and Gemma to attend for moral support. At first, I didn't like the idea of his family being here and having to hear the first hand accounts of what happened that night, but Harry's right, I do need the moral support. And in typical Louis Tomlinson fashion, he showed up as well, apparently taking a seat beside the pair near the gallery of the seats available.

"Shall we walk?" Fawn asks, motioning into the courtroom.

I turn towards Harry with my eyes still cast into the full room. He lifts my chin so that we make eye contact; the immediate rush of emerald eyes meeting mine calms my nerves slightly.

"I love you so much, Shay. You'll do amazing in there."

"I love you too." I whisper, giving Harry's hand a squeeze.

We share a swift kiss, his lips barely molding with mine before being torn away by a timely man behind us who ushers us all into the courtroom. I'm pulled from Harry's grasp as we get pushed forward, Fawn and I.

We enter through the little doors at the barrier, taking our seats behind the table at the right of the courtroom. I sit closest to the empty jury seats as Fawn takes the seat closer to the desk where He will sit. I glance behind me to see Harry taking his seat beside his mum. Louis sits at the far right, then Gemma, then Anne, and then Harry who is squished beside Damian and Detective Briar. He gives me a thumbs up and winks at me before I turn hesitantly at the sound of a door opening at the front of the courtroom.

Thankfully, I'm only met with the curious eyes of the twelve jurors entering the room from one of the doors at the front of the room. Some look bored to death, as if they couldn't give a flying fuck about being here, whilst some look genuinely intrigued to be a part of something like this. I continue to watch them as they take their seats quietly before some of their eyes meet mine. I avert my eyes, not wanting to make eye contact with the people that will be deciding the future of the man who should be entering the room any moment.

And with that the sound of the same door opening ahead of me causes my head to launch in its direction.

My breath hitches in my throat at the sight of him being led out of the unknown in handcuffs and oddly enough a suit and tie. He looks nothing like he had that night, nor how he looked when I picked him out of a line-up. His beard has been cut and his hair styled as if his appearance would get him somewhere in this room.

I feel the overwhelming dread course through my veins at the sight of him, even if he does remain in handcuffs. The moment his eyes meet mine, I'm a bundle of fear sitting in my chair.

My eyes hit the surface of the desk as my breathing increases and I swear that I hear him chuckle as he makes his way to his seat beside his own appointed attorney. My heart feels like it's shattering in my chest as I try to keep my stomach as hidden as possible behind the table in front of me, not wanting him to see the bump that I sport.

Suddenly, two hands are on my shoulders, which cause me to jump in my seat and swivel round, ready to scream.

"Relax, baby." Harry says now that I can see he's the one holding my shoulders and lightly massaging them. "If I can see you visibly tense, then so can he. Don't let him affect you; don't let him get to you."

"Thanks." I mutter, before turning around and feeling Harry's hands slide from my shoulders.

"All rise for Judge Alexandra Trainer."

My initial thought upon hearing the announcement was dread, but then it turned into a bit of relief. Here I thought the judge would be a male, perhaps the female perspective of a judge will relax me more.

Fawn and I stand, along with everyone else in the room as the judge enters the podium, giving a tight-lipped grimace to the room before taking her seat before us. She motions for us all to sit and that's when the real nerves kick in.

"We are here today to find a verdict for the charges against Mr. Anthony Morgan. Mr. Morgan faces the charge of the forcible rape of Ms. Shay Nichols, which could potentially put Mr. Morgan away for life." The judge announces, reading the words off the page before her. She motions to the clerk on the floor, who carefully walks over to the jury to my side with the bible.

He swears the twelve jurors in, waiting for them all to repeat, "I do" before moving back to his place in the room. I watch as the eyes of those jurors fall to one of three places: my attacker, their own laps, or myself. I too would be staring at my lap if I were in their position.

The judge then calls for opening statements, his attorney standing first. He has a male attorney with a pressed suit and a ugly comb-over. The attorney looks tired, with bags under his eyes and I can only think he's just someone the court appointed to represent him.

"Your Honor, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury: under the law my client is presumed innocent until proven guilty. During this trial, you will hear no real evidence against my client. You will come to know the truth: that Anthony is nothing more than an innocent victim who just so happened to be in the area and match a vague description of Ms. Nichols attacker, who has yet to be caught. Anthony has done nothing wrong. He just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore my client is not guilty."

Just hearing those words come from the defender, Thomas Schmidt, makes my blood boil. How dare he claim those things to be true? How dare he lie to everyone in here? There's substantial evidence against him, including DNA evidence.

"Your Honor and ladies and gentlemen of the jury:" I'm startled by Fawn's voice, echoing throughout the mostly silent courtroom. Instead of sitting in the chair close beside me, she's wandering aimlessly before the jury with her hands clasped before her. "The defendant has been charged with the crime of forcible rape, or sexual battery if you will, against Ms. Nichols. The evidence will show that Anthony Morgan did indeed rape Ms. Nichols on the night of the 21st of April, into the early morning of the 22nd. In the wee hours of the morning traces of Anthony's sperm and semen were found in the-"

I tune Fawn out as she gives her opening statement, not wanting to hear the gruesome truth of the evidence found on and within my person. I don't want to have to remember the pain I was put through, the swabs taken for the rape kit, the photographs taken of my beaten and bloodied body, or the evidence found on my ripped dress.

"Not to mention the paternity test Shay Nichols took just a few weeks ago that shows the father of the baby she's carrying to be that of Anthony Morgan. That man."

With her words gasps leave the jurors mouths as well as that of Anthony and his attorney. Apparently, they had not been aware of the key aspect. Whilst the test was incredibly uncomfortable I find it will be very helpful in this case today.

"Mr. Morgan raped Shay Nichols in cold blood. He was aware of his wrong doings; he knew what he was doing. The evidence I present to you all today will prove that Anthony is guilty of the rape of my client."

Fawn takes her seat beside me with ease and sends me a sly wink before smoothing herself out and sitting tall. I take a peek over my shoulder to see Harry giving me another thumbs up.

"The prosecution may call its first witness." The Judge states, looking to Fawn. She nods her head and looks to the jury.

"The People call Ms. Shay Nichols, the victim, to the stand." I gulp nervously, having been briefed that this moment would come. I had seriously hoped that I wouldn't have to go first though.

With a deep breath and shaky legs, I stand to my feet, trying my best to turn away from my attacker so that the bump hidden from his stare under my unbuttoned blazer is not shown. The bailiff leads me to the podium before holding out the bible for me. He says a couple things that I have to repeat:

"I swear that the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God." And then I sit quietly, awaiting what will happen next.

"Please state your first and last name."

"Shay Nichols."

"Ms. Nichols, can you recount, in the best of your abilities, the night of the 21st of April 2016?" Fawn asks me once I'm settled.

My throat already feels as if it's tightening at just the thought of speaking before all these people, including the man that caused this whole situation in the first place. My eyes scan the room nervously, taking it all the features of the jury before flashing to the witnesses where Harry sits, in the front row. His hand is tightly intertwined with his mother's as he flashes me a small grin and a minute head nod.

It's all I need to begin speaking.

"On the night of the 21st of April I was attending a party at my boss' home on Ilchester Place in Holland Park, London. I am an executive assistant to the CEO of Styles Incorporated, Harry Styles. I left before midnight on account of having exams to study for and university classes to attend in the morning. I took Melbury Road to Kensington High Street, then continued to walk a couple blocks towards the tube station. It was quiet as I walked along the high street. Traffic was a minimal for the time of night and there weren't any people out, well, I thought there weren't any people out."

"You had traveled this way before?" I nod my head; my eyes staying perched on Fawn.

"Whenever I do any type of work at Mr. Styles' estate I walk to the High Street Kensington Station to catch the tube home."

"Okay, Shay, tell us what happened next."

"Just as I was getting further down the high street someone approached me from behind."

"And who was this person that approached you?" Fawn asks.

"It was Anthony Morgan."

"Do you see your attacker here today?" With a quick glance to the desk on the other side of the room I nod.

"Yes, I do."

"Proceed with your account of that night, Shay."

"I didn't stop walking even after he had acknowledged me, I just continued on down the high street. I picked up my pace and ignored him, thinking that if I did he'd leave me be." I explain, trying my best not to begin to get choked up.

"What did Mr. Morgan say to you?"

"He accused me of being deaf because I had ignored him, to which I responded that I didn't have any money." Fawn nods and paces the floor before the stand.

I glance at the jury, some of whom are jotting down notes in pads against their laps, others just sit there staring at me like a monkey at the zoo.

"And to what did he respond to that?"

"He said that he just wanted to talk, but he grabbed me instead. He had one arm around my waist and the other hand cradling my mouth so that I couldn't scream or call for help. He picked me up off the ground and carried me into the alleyway. I tried kicking and I tried to scream, but it was no use."

I don't even notice that the tears are swelling down my cheeks in streams, the liquid dripping onto my pressed trousers. At first notice I try to wipe them away, along with the snot that I fear will surface any moment. Fawn sees my struggle and hands me a facial tissue before continuing to pester me about the night's occurrences.

"Shay, I need for you to take a look at a couple photographs." Fawn turns to the telly at my side and picks up a remote from the desk. She clicks a button and a photograph of the alleyway appears. I look away quickly, not wanting to look. "Is this the alleyway in which you were dragged into on the night of the 21st of April?"

"Yes." I say through gritted teeth.

"Might you be able to tell me what this red substance on the ground is?"

"Objection!" The defender points to Fawn and stands from his seat. "The DA is leading her client in."

"Overruled."

"Shay, what do you see in the photograph?" Fawn rephrases her question, biting back the eye roll that I can tell she wants to unleash on Schmidt's comment.

"I see the area in which I woke up in. I see my blood as well as one of my shoes." I say, spotting one of my missing stilettos near the dumpster. Fawn takes the photos off the screen and turns to me.

"What happened next?" Fawn asks, once I've dabbed my eyes and wiped my nose. I take a shaky breath and try to ignore the stares of the men and woman of the jury.

"He started pulling on the fabric of my dress, trying to pull it upwards before he let me fall to the ground. I thought I was free, but I was so scared that all I could do was turn over and check to see if he was still there. He took his belt off before kneeling before me, blocking me from going anywhere. I don't remember anything after that, I was knocked unconscious."

"It's okay, Shay." Fawn assures me, handing me another facial tissue seeing as the first is a damp, crumpled mess on my lap. I thank her silently before allowing my eyes to wander the people in the crowd.

I see Anne and Gemma, both fighting back tears of their own. They cling to each other in silence, Anne dabbing tears out from under her eyes whilst Gemma closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Louis is sat with his hand clenched around the armrest of the bench with his jaw clenched tightly as well.

Aside from the single tear that I see dripping down one of Harry's cheeks, I can see the visible stiffness that's overcome his rigid body. His eyes are set upon what he can see of Mr. Morgan with a hard glare set to the back of him and his attorney's heads. But once he senses my eyes on him he looks to me with his features softening. He wipes the tear away and sits up taller, mouthing "it's okay" to me from across the room.

"Shay?"

"Huh?" I blink out of the stupor I've sat in to see Fawn and everyone else in the courtroom staring at me. "Oh, I'm sorry." I apologize, my voice soft and broken.

"It's alright, I simply asked what you remembered next?" I clear my throat and nod to myself, crunching the facial tissue in my palm.

"I woke later in the alleyway, alone. My body had been dragged to the edge near one of the brick buildings. I was hidden behind a dumpster, away from the view of people walking along the high street. My dress was torn at the sides, but mostly at the bottom, near the hem. There was blood on my hands, legs, and abdomen, as well as covering my dress. My entire body hurt, but mostly, my, um, my pubic area."

"Describe the pain."

"It stung and ached terribly. It felt like my inside had been ripped apart."

Fawn turns to the Judge with a determined look on her face before sending a glance over her shoulder to the defender.

"Thank you, I have no further questions."

"Does the defense have any questions for Ms. Nichols?"

"Yes, Your Honor." The defender stands from his desk, striding over to me whilst Fawn takes a seat behind our desk.

"Ms. Nichols, the event that you were attending beforehand was a party, correct?"

"Yes."

"Can you describe the events of the party?"

"Objection!" Fawn shouts, standing from her post. "Immaterial. The events of the party Ms. Nichols just so happened to attend is irrelevant to this case." I look to the Judge, seeing her contemplate the objection in her head before responding with:

"Overruled."

"Thank you, Ms. Nichols?"

"The party was a corporate event, hosting CEOs and other important benefactors from various companies that Styles Incorporated partners with around the world. There were courses being served throughout the night, really is was just a party, one that I was running."

"Was there drinking at this party?"

"Yes, there was?"

"And had you had anything to drink that night?" Fuck.

With worry shaking my whole body I look out into the crowd, seeing Harry visibly stiffen before swearing under his breath. His mum looks up to him and Harry nods his head discreetly.

"I had a drink before the party began, to allow myself to relax before the stress of the night began; but that single drink was taken around half five in the evening. I swear I was not drunk that night, not anywhere near tipsy either. I was offered a drink before I left but I turned it down because I had to be alert for my travel home as well as my exam in the morning. You can check my BAC, the doctors took my blood." I ramble nervously, aggressively wiping the tears away with the back of my hand.

"Ms. Nichols, can you describe the alleyway for us?" Mr. Schmidt asks, changing the subject from drinking. I release a small sigh and nod my head.

"It was vacant with some garbage piled near a large dumpster at the side. I really couldn't see much it was dark, the middle of the night."

"If it were so dark Ms. Nichols, then how can you be sure it was Anthony Morgan that dragged you into that alleyway?"

"I saw his face."

"But you said it was dark, Ms. Nichols."

"Objection! Argumentative!"

"Sustained."

"No further questions, Your Honor." Mr. Schmidt says before turning and walking back to his seat. I look to the Judge, who writes something down before sitting tall.

"The witness is excused." I practically jump from my seat and rush towards my other seat with facial tissues in hand. I slouch into the seat and release a breath I hadn't known I was holding. Fawn sets her hand atop mine and gives it a squeeze. "The prosecution may call the next witness."

"The People call the Officer Lynn Colfax to the stand."

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