Even If.

"You'd love me? Even if it's not you who I choose?" I whispered to him.
"Even if," he swore.


21. Seventeen.

I sat cross legged in front of the clock while the heat of the fire warmed me from behind, as I was facing the other way. The time read 11:59.

Zeus walked over to me and sat in my lap. I managed a small smile.

My hands fumbled with a box of thin, small candles and I pulled one out and set it out in front of me. I grabbed the small box of matches that lay beside me and struck one of them against the side of it, causing the end to light and flicker, the flames dancing in the darkness. 

I transferred the flame from the match onto the candle and threw the match in the fire behind me. 

The clock struck twelve.

It was now December 24th. 

I stared at the small birthday candle, with tears forming in my eyes remembering when my parents used to make me stay up until my birthday every year, that is, they used to before my father left and my mother forgot I was even there.

I closed my eyes and the tears tricked down my cheeks. I blew out the candle.

"Happy Birthday, Beth," I whispered, imagining my father saying those words.

Zeus rustled on my lap and I looked down at him and cracked a smile.

"You're my only family now, Zeus," I cracked a smile as the tears continued to silently stream down my face.


"Why is she in this room?"

"I don't know!"

"Be quiet! You're going to wake her up!"

"Look, she's wearing penguin pajamas!"

"Wait, I think she's waking up! Her eyes are fluttering! Everyone get in place!"

As soon as my eyelids found the strength to open, I stared back at 11 smiling faces.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" They all screamed. Balloons were floating around me and settling at my side, camera flashes blurred my vision, and confetti that was being thrown at me made a home in my hair.

I couldn't suppress a laugh. I began to look around at all the familiar faces.

Jack, Finn, Zoe, Tanya, Jim, Alfie, Dan, Caspar, Joe, Marcus, and...

"Sam!" I exclaimed, my voice raspy and cracking. I clambered off of the floor and gave him a hug.

"Home for Christmas?" I guessed.

"Yeah, also to see my super celebrity bestie!" he joked "2 number one singles in a month? I'm so proud!"

I giggled at the praise. Sam and I had messaged each other on Twitter while he was in LA and we were quite close now.

'Happy Birthday' 's filled the air and I went around and hugged everyone.

"You guys are the sweetest, but I don't want to take away time from your families. It's Christmas Eve!" I said, embarrassed that I'd be taking up their time on such a family-oriented day.

They looked at each other, as if trying to see which of them would dare talk first.

Zoe started.

"Well, we all started thinking..."

Oh boy.

"We get to spend every year with our families, but you... you don't," Zoe hesitated. I could tell she was trying to find a nice way to put that my father abandoned me and my mom went wacko so now I'm spending each Christmas and my birthday alone.

"So we just thought that we'd like to spend our Christmases with you," Jack concluded. 

"Guys, you don't have to," I smiled, keeping in the tears. I tried to sound nonchalant, but how do you keep your cool when you're getting something you've wanted almost all your life? I spent every Christmas alone from the time I was 6.

"We want to," Tanya assured me.

"And we've already gotten it all planned," Sam grinned.

"We've invited all our families over for one giant Christmas Eve dinner tonight at the Harries' home," Jim shared.

My heart felt like it was about to burst. I had the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

"And I've already arranged with my family to have you stay the night at my house tonight and open presents with us tomorrow," Zoe giggled excitedly, "that is, if you want to."

I couldn't keep it in anymore. Tears left my eyes and crept down my cheeks. I couldn't manage a reply, so I excitedly nodded and swiped at my cheeks with a slight chuckle.

"Well then, it's settled. There's only one thing to do now..." Finn stated.

"What is that?" I asked.

"GROUP HUG!" Dan shouted. We all laughed and suddenly I was embraced from every side of me. I couldn't stop laughing yet the tears continued to stream down my face.

Happy tears.

"Come on, you need to go open your presents, missy!"

I instinctively looked toward the Christmas tree and sure enough, boxes wrapped up with gift wrap that boasted the words, "Happy Birthday" were nestled all around it.

"You guys, I can't take all of this," I said after seeing it, but I couldn't hide my joy. I hadn't gotten a Birthday present in fourteen years.

"Sure you can. We thought it made up for fourteen years of no presents," Alfie explained, as if reading my mind.

"But all this must've cost.. like a lot," I swiped more tears.

"Please," Finn chuckled, "we get too much money from Youtube anyways." I knew what he meant. Since I hit a million subs, checks came in the mail and sponsor's begged for me to sign with them.

"And we have tons of sponsors."

"And we got a lot of it from the music video."

"So you have no excuses. Open them now," Jim pointed at the presents and chuckled. 

My excitement broke loose and I ran over to the presents. I heard the laughter behind me.

I sat down cross legged next to the pile of presents and everyone sat down in a half circle around me, sort of like how I imagine it would go at a child's birthday party, not that I've ever had one of those.

I forced myself to stay calm and open one present at a time and appropriately thank everyone, even though I felt like furiously opening each box.

We all had a good laugh as I opened my presents. Some presents were things I liked, like clothes, makeup, or beauty things, while a lot of them were silly Christmas jumpers or funny little things that went along with some of our inside jokes. Dan got me a notebook where every page had a Nicholas Cage derp face on it with the notebook lines over the top of it. We all had quite the laugh at that one.

Once I opened all the presents, I sat around catching up with everyone, especially Sam. He told us about his recent pranks that he'd played back in LA and we all exchanged plenty of our own humiliating stories. 

I had never been happier.

And then they pulled out the cake.

It was a single sheet cake covered with white frosting and black music notes. I laughed along with them, as it looked like a child had created it with a cheap food set from Tesco's. 

"We made it ourselves," Dan boasted and we all laughed.

"We're sorry it didn't really turn out," Finn laughed as his cheeks turned pink. 

"No.. I love it," I said with sincerity and a smile.

They seemed surprise at my genuine reaction.

"That is the best cake I've ever seen in my life," I smiled.

"I DID THAT MUSIC NOTE RIGHT THERE!" Caspar excitedly pointed at one of the biggest music notes on the front.

"It's beautiful, Caspar," I giggled.

"Let's eat!" Jack said and we all excitedly gathered around the cake and began cutting slices.

"Thanks for saying that you liked it. Finn and Jack wished for it to turn out better than it did," Zoe said to me once everyone had their cake and she took me aside.

"I wasn't just saying that, I meant it," I smiled, "that truly is the best cake I've ever seen in my life."


 "Alright, alright everyone! Dinner is about to be served! But first, I'd like to make a toast," Rebecca said sweetly while tapping her glass and standing up. Everyone at the long table lifted their heads and ceased speaking. 

"I am so happy to have all of you over! It's been a delight to be able to see everyone and meet even more wonderful families. This has already proven to be a delightful Christmas. God bless you all. But I'd like to make a special toast to Beth, for bringing us all together. You're a great friend to my sons and have one of the purest hearts I've ever seen. So let us all bring our glasses together, to Beth, the newest addition to our family," Mrs. Harries continued and sure enough, seconds after, every glass was lifted and clinked and every pair of warm, loving eyes was on me. I couldn't suppress my happiness.


For years, that was all I wanted, and now, I had it. Right here. 

All my friends and their families were seated around me at the long dinner table, similar to the tables from Harry Potter. Jack, Finn, and I had spend almost an hour pushing small tables together and adorning them with decorations but all of that didn't matter. Nothing else did except that I was finally together  with my new found family.

And I was determined not to let this one go.


After hours of eating the delicious food and talking and laughing with each other, I thought that nothing could ruin that night. It was the most perfect Birthday and Christmas I had ever had. 

"I'm going to go grab a breath of fresh air, I'll be right back," I announced to Zoe and Finn who sat on both sides of me. They nodded as I grabbed my coat and stepped outside.

After fastening my coat, I walked along the brick wall that lined the Harries' home, which was freshly coated with a light layer of snowflakes.

I leaned up against it and the memories flashed through my mind. 

I could see Finn and I slow dancing in the rain in front of Perks.

I could see Jack and I running as fast as we could out of the fancy restaurant we ate at, pretending to be royalty. The thought of it made me chuckle.

The scenes of when Luke came back began to fill my mind, and I remembered the look on his face once I stood up to him.

I remembered the times that I collaborated with each member of the crew, and the crazy challenges we did. 

Then, thoughts of that day raced through my mind. When all my friends surprised me at my house, when they took me out to see London adorned with Christmas lights, when I helped Rebecca and Andy prepare the meal and for the first time in years, I almost felt like I had my parents back again, and the whole night that we socialized and laughed and joked with each other. 

A voice suddenly broke me out of my reverie.

"I've missed you, Beth," the voice spoke. 

The voice was unforgettable.

His figure came into focus. It was him. He had the same shaggy hair, he had the same black framed glasses and dimples that had been etched in my memory for so long.



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