Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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13. ⪻ 13 ⪼

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An hour and a half of pointless conversation on everything from tattoos to baking, I somehow drifted off into a peaceful slumber on the far end of our sofa. The conversation setting shifted from the kitchen to the lounge after our tea was finished. It was a good thing too, I'm not sure how comfortable our kitchen island is to sleep on.

It felt lovely, the conversation. It wasn't too deep, but it wasn't completely meaningless either. Besides, I can't remember the last time I had a meaningful conversation with someone outside my family.

I learned that the skillful doctor at my right worked in a bakery for two years when he was young, promising to join me in the kitchen one day for a bake-off. He told me all about his journey becoming a doctor, which was quite fascinating and a completely different perspective from Niall's tale. I learned that Harry has an older sister, Gemma, and a loving mother and father who divorced when he was just seven.

I told him about my interest in baking, where it came from and the short detail of my studying of culinary arts. I didn't get too much into the grimy details of my hectic adult life, simply so it wouldn't drag the mood down. I shared with him the crazy coincidence of my late cat Dusty and his current cat, we laughed and joked our friendship was meant to be.

You get the point; we bonded over childhood stories and hot tea.

My, somewhat, peaceful sleep came to an abrupt halt when my senses began to come back to me. First, the feeling of sunlight on my eyelids, causing me to bury my face against the back of the couch to block it out. Then, the sound of someone's tiny footsteps and voice whispering throughout the room.

"I thought you said you weren't dating." My eyes spring open at the remark meeting the jade irises of Harry, who too was in the early processes of waking up.

Somehow during the night, we'd shifted from sleeping on opposite ends of the sofa to Harry lying sprawled across the sofa with his head on my lap. He, perhaps confused as well, stares up at me, giving his eyes a little rub. I shake my head, shifting my gaze to Edward.

"We're," I clear my throat, trying to rid myself of the sleep residing in my throat, "we're not dating." I say, pushing Harry off of my lap, ultimately leading to him flopping down on the hardwood. I wince a bit when I hear him grunt, but after a quick check I see he's fine.

"Morning Edward." Harry greets my brother, staring up at him from the floor, giving his pant leg a little tug. Edward quickly loses interest in the dating question and gives a little giggle to Harry instead.

"Did you stay to protect Annie from the bad guys?" I narrow my eyes at my brother, protect me from bad guys? How many superhero movies did they watch whilst I was in the hospital?

"Uh, yeah. I did." Harry answers, slowly sitting up and resting against the sofa.

"Cool." Edward answers, seeming half interested in the conversation at hand. "I'm hungry." He says, shifting his attention up to me.

I sigh, stretching my body out a bit on the sofa; Sleeping in a upright position isn't comfortable at all, especially with bruised ribs and a concussion.

"Let's change that, shall we." I say to the boy, standing and taking ahold of his hand.

Before we get too far, a knock followed by a ring of the doorbell halts our journey. I look down at Harry, who shrugs up at me.

"I'll get it." Harry offers, jumping up to his feet. I debate it for a second, but ultimately agree due to Edward tugging me towards the kitchen.

"Alright. If you need me, shout."

Minutes later, I'm standing in the middle of the kitchen with a hungry little boy, a silent and shirtless doctor, our bank account manager, and our family lawyer. They want to talk to me about the will and the final processes I have to go through. But I don't want to do anything with the two adults, it only means we're one step closer to us never seeing our parents again.

"You must be Edward." She, our family lawyer, introduces herself to my young brother as I finish preparing his toast. He does little to acknowledge her presence with his food being right in front of him now. I apologize lightly for his behaviour as Harry runs a hand through Edward's dark hair.

"Harry, help yourself to some breakfast. We'll be right in the lounge." Harry gives us a nod before the three of us retire to the lounge.

Michelle, our lawyer, and I take a seat on one sofa, whilst Andrew, our bank account manager, sits across from us. Andrew seems to have brought the entire bank with him in his briefcase, taking the time to dump the contents all over the piece of furniture that single-handedly sent me to another hospital.

"Our apologies for stopping by so early, Annabelle." I solely nod to his apology, not feeling like making too much of a conversation.

"And my apologies for my appearance, things have been quite hectic." The two shake their heads, dismissing my apology immediately. On a normal day I wouldn't dream of conducting a meeting in leggings and an oversized university t-shirt.

"Alright, I just need the last of your signatures on these two pages and then everything will be officially transferred over to you. Like we discussed previously, everything, aside for a generous stipend for Edward once he's turned eighteen, has been left to you."

Gulping heavily, I take the pen from her hand, re-reading the words on pages one last time before signing away with shaking hands. Michelle sadly smiles before signing the papers herself and then stowing them away in her bag.

"Here are the copies for you." She hands me the copies of everything I've signed over the course of days with her. I only glance at them, not wanting to relive what's in them. I've read them once or twice, I don't need to read them more.

"Last piece of business," Andrew begins, clearing his throat and sifting through papers that reside on his lap and now on my coffee table.

He makes me nervous.

Sure, I just signed away with Michelle to receive custody of Edward, the house, and all my parents possessions. But with Andrew, that's money. I'll be gaining my parents money and I have to be fully responsible for it.

"With your signature, all accounts will be shifted over to your name. You'll have to come to the bank soon to reset PIN numbers and passwords, but for now this will do." I collect the papers he has for me, glancing them over.

"How much do I receive?" I question, having an honest confusion over the matter. Never did my parents talk finances with me. They didn't want me to worry.

"In your family savings, £9459."

With house payments and paying for this funeral that won't last us very long.

"Don't forget about the life insurance policies your parents took out years ago, that's an additional £20000."

£29459 minus house payments, funeral expenses, household expenses, and medical bills.

"As a financial expert how long do you think that will last us?" I ask Andrew, biting my lip in fear of the answer. Andrew takes a calculator out of his bag, doing some maths whilst I jitter away in my seat.

"Do you have a job?"

"Not yet." I respond in short. Andrew hums, continuing to type away on his device.

"After funeral expenses, hospital bills, and taxes, approximately six to eight months, depending on spending and additional bills."

"Six to eight months." I repeat, staring down at my trembling hands.

I'll have to sell the house and get a smaller flat with Edward, somewhere where I don't have to travel far for work and Edward can still go to a good school. I'll have to get a job first, someone who will hire a girl with a culinary arts degree and who will pay well. I'll have to get rid of a lot of my parents' possessions, they probably won't fit wherever Edward and I live.

"Annabelle? Are you alright?" My eyes tear from my lap to see Michelle staring expectantly over at me. If she had said or asked me something, I surely didn't hear it.

"Huh? I'm sorry." I apologize, feeling my cheeks flush a little in embarrassment. Lately my mind just wanders, even when I don't want it to.

"When's the funeral?" My heart clenches at her question, the ache growing fire hot with the realization that the date is soon approach. With still so much to do, I feel as if I haven't made a dent in the planning.

"On Friday."

"Where is it being held?" Andrew counters. Whilst the question is posed I feel myself tense.

Planning a funeral, alone, whilst lying in a hospital bed is quite possibly the most difficult challenge there can be in life. Once everything was finalized, I sort of blocked it out. Focusing my mind on such a somber day would put me in a constant state of depression. A state of mind in which I cannot stay in permanently.

"Um, the home off Birches."

"And the cemetery? My apologies I shouldn't assume you're burying them and not cremating." I stare over at the older man whose communication skills are lacking, probably from sitting in a bank office for too long.

"Andrew..." Michelle hisses over at the man she's been working closely with in the past few days.

"No, it's alright. It's a, um, appropriate question. They're, uh, being buried at, um,"

With little notice, the door to the kitchen opens and in waltzes Harry with a steaming cuppa. He strides over to me, handing me the mug before taking a seat beside me. I scoot a bit closer towards Michelle to give him room and thank him with a short nod.

"I don't believe I properly introduced myself back at the door." Harry blurts out, chuckling lightly before extending his hand towards Michelle. "Harry Styles, apologies for the lack of shirt. I seem to have misplaced it."

Michelle sends me a confused glance before shaking Harry's hand. Harry then does the same with Andrew but instead of a warm smile towards the man, he sends a rather subtle glare. Mimicking Michelle's expression, I give the man to my left a widening of my eyes, to which he merely responds with a shrug.

"What were we talking about?" I question, momentarily forgetting what had been spoken about before Harry interrupted.

I can't say I'm completely upset at his arrival, I was quite over the conversation if I'm being honest.

"I do believe we were just leaving, right Michelle?" Andrew motions towards to door with his head whilst gathering all of his papers. Michelle nods in agreement, sending me another sad grin. "Again, my condolences, Annabelle."

I stand along with our guests, shaking both of their hands before watching them saunter out the door. They promise to make an appearance at the funeral, though I really pray the smaller crowd the better.

Once they've left the house, I turn back to the lounge to see Harry sitting where he had been prior to me escorting the guests out. He sends me a small glance as I round the coffee table and take my seat again.

We don't say anything to each other for a long time, breathing in the silence around us. I lick my dry lips, picking up the tea and taking a slow sip. The warm liquid soothes my raw throat from trying my best not to let any tears shed.

"Thank you." I whisper between sips of tea. Harry peers over at me from my side, clearing his throat and doing that weird thumb and forefinger thing with his bottom lip.

"For what?"

My eyes shift from the steaming cup over towards Harry. We share eye contact for a while without words spoken, mostly because I'm not 100% sure what to say. FInally, though, I find the word to say, simple but hard to get from brain to mouth.

"Everything."

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