Lost & Found

After her husband dies in a car accident, Emma Haines-Gaunt is encouraged by her mother and sister to attend a therapy group for widows. Though reluctant to even give it a try, Emma finds herself in a church basement listening to heartbreaking stories of tragedy from her fellow therapy members. When she notices a mysterious man during the session, Emma is intrigued by him, only to realize it is her childhood friend and ex-love Harry Styles. Her mind spirals when she realizes he must have lost his spouse somewhere along the way. And try as she might, she can’t seem to shake him from her mind. The two of them begin a harrowing journey of loss and redemption, determined to help each other find solace in the tragedy that their lives have become.

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8. The tale of a miserable girl.

“Emma…” She heard her mother’s soft voice.

She looked up to see her standing in the doorway of her daughter’s bedroom where she sat by the crib.

“What are you doing, love? It’s nearly three in the morning,” her mum asked, a look of concern on her face.

“I just… I missed her,” Emma sniffled, wiping at her eyes as she watched Madeline sleeping in her crib.

“Why are you crying, honey?” She asked sweetly as she moved into the room toward her.

“Mum…” Emma cried, dropping her face into her hands, feeling another wave of emotion hit her.

“Oh, baby. What’s the matter?” She asked, kneeling down in front of her.

“Mum, I really screwed up,” Emma cried, looking up at her as she tried to stop her rapid flow of tears.

“What happened?” She asked patiently.

“Harry… I-I… I crossed the line,” Emma whimpered.

“Tell me,” she said, swiping Emma’s hair out of her eyes.

Emma looked over at Madeline who was perfectly content in her crib, not a care in the world as she slept soundly. She didn’t have the heart to confess what she needed to confess in front of her. She couldn’t talk about disgracing her father’s memory while she was in the same room.

“Not in here,” Emma said, shaking her head as she stood up.

“Come on. I’ll make you some tea,” her mum offered.

Emma stopped in the bathroom to clean herself up a little while her mother went down to the kitchen. She couldn’t get what she did with Harry out of her head, and she couldn’t seem to get her tears to stop. Every little memory of Harry just made the tears fall harder.

Emma made her way down to the kitchen just in time to find her mother pouring boiling water it into two mugs that each held a tea bag of the sleepy-time tea they both loved so much. Emma took a seat at the table waiting for her to finish.

“Here you go, baby,” her mum said as she set down the mugs and a box of tissues on the tabletop.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, wiping at a stray tear.

“Please, baby. Please tell me what’s got you in such a tizzy,” she said, sitting down across from Emma at the breakfast table.

“I slept… I slept with him. I slept with Harry. And… and now… now Patrick… now it’s not Patrick… I-I… I feel like… I feel…” Emma blubbered almost incoherently.

“Baby, baby. Calm down,” her mum said, running her hand up and down her daughter’s arm.

“I just… I can’t believe I did it. I can’t believe I let… that we… uhhh,” Emma cried, frustrated with herself.

“Emma Rose, please stop with this now. Baby, you and Harry have always had a connection…” She began.

“I don’t give a shit about our connection right now! Patrick – he’s gone and he’s never coming back. And I’ve… I’ve disgraced him,” Emma shouted.

“Stop this!” Her mum bellowed, hitting her hand against the table, her frustration boiling over.

Emma’s tear-filled eyes snapped up to hers, completely startled by her outburst.

“I’m sorry, but you need to stop this, baby. Patrick is gone and you are here. You cannot live a life when you’re trapped in his memory. It was a terrible thing that happened to him and I know you loved him so much, honey. I know that. But how long are we going to have to sit back and watch you suffer – to watch you ruin your life? You can’t let this define you.”

Emma’s heart was in her throat as she stared at her mother. She was frozen in shock.

“You cannot let this define you, Emma. Because you know what – soon it will start to define your daughter too,” her mum told her. Emma’s anger was ready to consume her until she brought Madeline into it. She was her weakness.

Emma’s face dropped into her hands and she began to cry into them again.

“Patrick loved you so much, baby. And he wouldn’t want you to live like this. He wouldn’t want you to quit living along with him,” she spoke softer.

“How… how do I just let him go?” Emma cried, looking up into her eyes.

“Let Harry help you,” she told her finally.

All Emma could do was stare at her. Her mouth hung open and she just stared. Let Harry help her? She wished she knew how.

 

“Emma,” Harry said, coming up from behind her as she was leaving the school yard to walk home.

“Harry!” Emma yelped, holding her hand over her chest, completely startled by him.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he said, smiling sweetly at her.

“It’s alright,” she told him with a smile in reply.

“Can I walk with you?” He asked, bouncing his eyebrows at her.

“Of course,” she told him just as he slipped his hand in hers.

“Can you believe the school year is almost over?” He asked after a few beats of silence.

“Yeah. It’s crazy,” she said quietly, feeling the guilt weighing on her.

She still hadn’t told him she was leaving after the summer; that she was accepted into a prestigious boarding school in London. For two weeks she kept the secret to herself. Only her family knew. She didn’t know how to break it to him. She didn’t want to leave him, but she knew how amazing the opportunity was and she didn’t want to pass it up.

“Do you have schoolwork?” He asked as they walked hand-in-hand through their neighborhood.

“Not much. I did most of it in class,” she said with a small shrug of her shoulder.

“Mind if I come over then?” He asked, quirking his eyebrow at her.

“Of course I don’t mind,” she told him and watched the smile take over his features.

“Good,” he said, leaning in to leave a soft kiss on her lips.

“Only if we can do plenty of that,” Emma giggled as soon as he pulled away.

“Gladly!” Harry shouted as he quickly gripped her around the waist before lifting her off her feet to spin her in his arms.

“HARRY!” She yelped and giggled.

He stopped after a few more spins and slowly slid her down his body, their eyes connecting immediately.

“I love you, Emmy,” he breathed, and the butterflies consumed her, but so did the guilt.

How could she tell the boy she was head over heels in love with that she was leaving; that they won’t get the chance to see each other every day; that they won’t get to touch or kiss or love each other the same way anymore? How was she going to break that to him?

“What’s the matter, Em?” Harry asked as his eyes registered her change in demeanor.

“Nothing,” she said quietly.

His arms loosened around her and she took the opportunity to slide out of them, turning to continue walking down the road toward home.

“Emma Rose! What the hell?” She heard Harry call out after her as he jogged to catch up.

“What is going on?” He asked as he grasped her arm, stopping her in place.

She couldn’t look at him – not when she could feel the tears pricking the back of her eyes.

“Emma…” Harry breathed.

“I’m sorry,” she sighed as she looked down at the pavement under her feet.

“For what? Emma, what is going on?” He asked, his voice becoming more impatient.

“I’m leaving,” she whispered, her voice cracking with emotion.

“You’re… leaving?” He asked, sounding confused.

“At the end of summer,” she elaborated.

“At the end of summer, you’re leaving?” He questioned.

“Yes, Harry. I’m leaving,” she said impatiently.

She wished they didn’t have to do this. She wished he just knew everything – how she felt about him; how much he meant to her; how badly it broke her heart every time she thought about leaving him.

“Where are you going?” He choked out.

Her eyes finally looked up into his, and it tore her apart. The look of confusion and heartbreak on his face was literally killing her.

“I got—” She began before her voice cracked with emotion and she had to clear her throat.

“I got accepted into a boarding school… in London,” she finally told him.

“London?” He choked out.

“Yeah. I just… It’s just an amazing opportunity, Harry. It’s going to be so good for me,” she began to explain, trying to be optimistic.

“Yeah, wow. That’s great, Em,” Harry said quietly. But his words almost sounded fake, like he was just saying what he thought she wanted to hear. The emotion in his voice gave him away all too easy.

She wanted to make him feel better about it. She wanted everything to be okay. So she just started talking, trying to drown out both of their emotions.

“You and I – we can still be us, Harry. We can talk all the time, and write letters. And… and I’ll visit all the time. You know I will,” she told him enthusiastically.

“Yeah,” he breathed, his eyes avoiding hers altogether.

“We’ve got the summer,” she tried to reassure him.

“Yeah,” he said quietly.

“Harry…” Emma sighed, noticing how tore up he actually was about the news.

“Please, Harry. I’m so sorry,” she said as the tears that threaten previously finally made an appearance in her eyes.

“No, Em. Don’t—don’t apologize. This is gonna be great for you,” he said, finally looking up at her with a smile on his face. But it wasn’t his usual smile. It was a painted smile to mask the sadness.

“Harry…” Emma breathed.

“It’s okay, Emmy,” he whispered.

“Harry, tell me that things are going to work out,” she said quietly.

“You’re gonna visit. And maybe… maybe I’ll be able to come out to London,” Harry offered, and it made her smile because he was being so optimistic for her.

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“We could… we could go visit like, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, you know. Take a boat down the Thames. Ride the London Eye together,” Harry suggested and all she could do was nod along, wanting to do all those things with him.

“Yeah. Yeah, we could do that,” she told him.

“It’s going to be okay, Emmy,” Harry reassured her.

Emma stepped forward, wrapping her arms around his neck as she leaned in for a kiss.

“I love you so much, Harry Styles,” she told him, and meant every word.

Harry never came to London and they never did anything they planned to do together. Life got busy for both of them and the years pulled them apart. Everything bent until it broke, and they were left with an irreparable rift between them.

Thus was life.

 

There was a knock on Emma’s bedroom door as she was putting the last of her makeup on for the night.

“Emma,” she heard her mother just as she turned to see her standing in her doorway.

“I’m almost ready,” Emma told her.

“Harry… he’s here,” she said, giving her a wary look.

“Harry’s here?” She choked out as her eyes went wide.

“He came to pick you up for therapy,” she said, looking at her cautiously, like she was trying to gage her reaction.

“Okay,” Emma breathed, feeling almost light-headed.

She hadn’t spoken to Harry since she left his flat a week before. She was certain if their paths crossed while they were at therapy, it was going to be awkward. Maybe this was Harry’s way to break down the walls between them. A large part of her feared she really hurt him by leaving his flat so abruptly after they slept together. She didn’t actually know. She didn’t bother to look back once she got into the cab, leaving him in her wake. But now he was at her house, picking her up, like they were going on some fucked-up date to cry over their dead spouses. She didn’t know how to feel about it.

Emma grabbed Madeline out of the bassinet that was next to her bed and made her way downstairs. Her mother was already back down there, and was talking animatedly with Harry in the foyer.

“You are just so handsome, Harry. Just really, really handsome,” Emma heard her tell him, and she couldn’t help but roll her eyes amusingly.

“Okay, okay, Mum. We get it – Harry’s good looking,” Emma laughed lightly as she came down the stairs.

“Em…” Harry breathed as his eyes followed her all the way down.

“Hi, Harry,” she said quietly.

“This must be Madeline,” he said, smiling at her once she was standing in front of him with her daughter in her arms.

“It is,” she told him.

“She’s beautiful, Emma,” he cooed as he tucked his finger inside her tiny little hand.

Something about the small gesture did something to Emma. It both elated her and made her want to puke at the same time.

“You look just like your mummy, don’t you?” He said, speaking directly to Maddie.

Emma looked up at her mother, who gave her a knowing look, and it made Emma suck in a huge breath, making her light-headed in the process.

“I uh, I didn’t know you would… I didn’t think you’d show up here,” she stammered, looking back at Harry.

“Yeah. Well, I figured we’re going to the same place. I mean, Piper doesn’t need to go out of her way to drive you every week. I don’t live too far away from here,” Harry rambled, and Emma could tell he was nervous.

“That was thoughtful of you, Harry – two weeks in a row,” her mum said, causing both of their attention to fall on her.

“It’s the least I can do,” he said as he tucked his hands in his pockets.

“Let me take Maddie,” her mum said, grabbing for her granddaughter.

“Oh… okay,” Emma said, handing Madeline over.

“You two… go on,” She shooed them.                                                             

Emma looked up at Harry and he quirked his eyebrow at her.

“Ready?” He asked.

“I just… I just need my purse,” Emma told him as she pointed toward the kitchen.

“Alright,” he nodded.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, before she made her way into the other room.

Emma took a deep breath as soon as she was out of Harry’s presence. She hated that she felt so awkward. She longed for the way things were between them when they were kids. Harry was everything to her back then. She missed so much about him, but she didn’t know how to act around him anymore – not with so many different feelings mucking up their current friendship.

“Harry, would you like to come over for dinner sometime this week? I just picked up some fresh salmon at the grocery store today,” Emma heard her mum ask Harry as she walked back into the foyer.

“Mother—” Emma snapped at her.

“What?” She asked, looking at her daughter wide-eyed.

“I’d love to. I mean… if that’s okay with Emma,” Harry said, looking over at her for permission.

“Uh…” Emma hesitated, looking at him a bit shell-shocked.

“Emma Rose!” Her mum yelped, smacking her arm.

“Its fine, Harry. We’d love it if you came for dinner,” Emma said finally as she rubbed at her arm.

“I’d be honored to spend an evening with the Haines women,” Harry said, beaming a smile at the two of them. Emma felt her face flush. She was no longer a Haines and it made her feel awkward.

“Does tomorrow night work for you?” Her mum asked enthusiastically.

Jesus,” Emma said under her breath because of the way her mother was pushing.

“Tomorrow night works just fine,” Harry said, smiling at her, before cocking his eyebrow at Emma.

She wasn’t quite sure why her mother thought it was a good idea to invite him to dinner. But she was almost certain her endgame consisted of Emma and Harry living happily ever after. Though to be quite honest, Emma didn’t know how happy either of their endings would be.

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