Solace ~ h.s.

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

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20. ⪻ 20 ⪼

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The taxi ride to Edward’s school couldn’t possibly be any longer, but that serves me right for hailing a taxi near lunch hour. Everyone was on the streets and honestly running would have gotten me to the school faster.

“Keep the change.” I say as I practically throw some bills at the driver. I don’t hear what he calls after me as I’m already charging up the steps of the school and pulling the door open. I’m met with a blast of warm heat as the main foyer comes into view.

For some reason my first instincts thought that the entire school would be up in flames. In my mind, Edward still couldn’t ever be in a fight unless the entire school were fighting, or he was protecting himself in some way. The absence of fighting children did little to calm my nerves as I make my way into the front office.

“Hello, my name is Annabelle, I think we met -” The woman behind the desk looks absolutely startled at my presence, even jumping a little when her eyes finally take me in. Thankfully I’m interrupted from saying too much more to her as another woman enters the immediate area.

“Ms. Chambers.” I spin around towards the voice and come face to face with a rather put together woman.

Her golden locks are pulled up into a high bun with a cut of straight bangs falling just above her eyes. She looks like every responsible adult ever in a film. Even her dress is more professional than mine, and my boss has us dressed to the nines.

“My name is Dr. Kate Black, I’m the school’s counsellor.” She introduces herself, extending a hand for me to shake, to which I respond appropriately. I may be frazzled, but I’m not a complete lunatic.

“Is Edward alright?” Dr. Black smiles over at me warmly and nods her head.

“Follow me, please.” She begins to lead us further into the offices of the school, guiding me to wherever she pleases. “Edward is okay, he did get a bit knocked around, but nothing but a red mark or two.”

I find myself sighing of relief at her words. There is still a lot more that needs to be discussed, but at least he’s not sitting around somewhere bleeding.

“Edward has never acted out like this before, I promise you. He’s normally such a mannered and well-behaved boy. I know there really isn’t any excuse, but we did recently lose our parents and there’s been a change in him, but nothing where I would have thought violence would have a play in his actions.”

Dr. Black doesn’t look too fazed by my rambling of Edward, perhaps she’s come into contact with parents and guardians who are far worse than I. I bet she sees a lot of parents making excuses for their children or perhaps they’ve never had a fight on school grounds before.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your parents.” I send her a small smile out of thanks and say nothing to discuss it further. “I believe I did read that in his file somewhere, so his teachers were aware. I haven’t been given too much time to look into it and actually meet Edward, before the fight I mean.”

“I moved Edward out to Manchester with me for work; I know it’s hard on him. There just weren’t many career opportunities in Northwich.” I mutter, scratching the back of my neck.

“Have you been noticing any behavioural changes in Edward?”

“Yes, he’s been moody, but he’s still grieving.”

“Well, if you don’t mind, I’d like to meet with Edward a few times a week, just to talk. I have a PhD in Child Psychology so I might be of some assistance.”

“Thank you.” I say right away. “That would be perfectly fine with me; I think it may really help.” Dr. Black smiles over at me again and motions towards a closed door at the end of the hall.

“Alright, we’ll go from there -”

“Belle!” Harry’s voice echoes throughout the hall, interrupting Dr. Black from saying anything else. I turn just in time to see him jogging over to us, slightly out of breath. “So sorry, couldn’t find parking.” He apologizes, coming to a halt at my side, our sides pressed together in proximity.

“Dr. Black, this is Harry...” My voice jets off, wondering how in the world to introduce Harry.

Who is Harry to me? He’s my friend, best friend according to Harry. But will he be offended if I say we’re only friends? Surely, saying we’re dating might be too intrusive into my life.

“...my friend.” I settle on. Harry gives me a grin, reaching his hand out to shake Dr. Black’s extended hand.

“Doctor Harry Styles.”

“Ah, another doctor. Doctor Kate Black, but please call me Kate.”

“Kate is the school counsellor here, she also has a PhD in child psychology.” Harry slings his arm around my shoulders and pulls me in close during the introduction.

“How’s Edward?” He asks Kate, genuinely interested in his well-being.

“Good, he’s having a snack in my office.” I can’t believe I hadn’t asked where Edward was all this time. “Shall we see the headmaster then?”

Harry and I nod to Kate, who leads us the rest of the way down the hall. She gives a simple knock on the closed door, waiting until a woman calls her in before opening the door. She pokes her head in first before pushing the door all the way open.

“Headmaster Clark, this is Annabelle Chambers, Edward’s guardian, and Harry Styles, family friend.” Headmaster Clark, an older woman with a kind looking face, stands from her post and motions for the two of us to come in.

“Thank you, Kate. Pleasure to meet you both, unfortunately not under these circumstances.” Kate gives us a nod before exiting the room and pulling the door shut. Both Harry and I shake Headmaster Clark’s hand before we’re motioned to have a seat before her fancy desk.

Harry’s arm falls off my shoulders, but it’s immediately taken ahold of my hand that’s resting atop my lap. His kind gesture erasing the nerves I’m feeling as we speak to the headmaster.

“As I told Kate, Edward has never been one to act out before and I sincerely apologize on his behalf. I do not, in anyway, condone violence, but I beg you hear me out.”

And just like that, the floodgate that I call my mouth has opened and the words are spewing everywhere.

“He’s not a bad kid -”

“Belle.” Harry cuts in, squeezing my hand to pull my thoughts away from everything swimming around in my tired brain. “Calm down, love.”

“I completely understand, Ms. Chambers., but this school does have a no tolerance policy towards violence.” My shoulders slump and I can already feel the overwhelming urge to cry well up. If this continues to go how I believe I’ll have to find a new school for Edward and until then I’d have to be away from work.

“Our parents died in a car accident a month ago.” I blurt, hating that I was using that as an excuse for Edward’s actions. I’m sure it was the root of the fight beginning, but I don’t like throwing it around. “Edward and I were in the backseat, we made it out and they didn’t. God forbid it affect him in some way.” Again, Harry’s hand is tightly gripping mine to keep me calm.

“My apologies, Ms. Chambers. I was not made aware of that fact until just now.”

How were you not aware?

“Please, he’s a good boy; he’s still grieving.”

“I can attest to that fact, ma’am. Not only am I a close friend, but I am also a doctor over at Manchester Royal. Edward has been grieving heavily since the accident. It started with predominantly sadness, as you’d expect, and now it ranges towards anger. He’s making progress, slowly but surely.”

Headmaster Clark nods along to what Harry’s said, thinking about his case. There’s a few minutes of silence between the three of us as the headmaster looks through a file folder that’s atop her desk. I can feel myself getting worked up by the minute, but I do my best to keep my nerves at bay.

“Under the circumstances Edward’s punishment will be reduced; one day of schooling suspension, without it being placed in his records.” I release a sigh of relief that I didn’t know I was holding and nod my head, silently thanking the headmaster. “But do keep in mind, for the safety of our other students, if his behaviour continues we will have no other choice but to take action.”

“I understand, thank you.”

“You can take Edward home now and we’ll welcome him back first thing Wednesday morning.”

Without further conversation between the headmaster and Harry and I, we’re directed down to Kate’s office, which is located not far from the headmaster’s office. Before I’m in the doorway, I can already see Edward’s small body sitting on a couch with a book in hand.

His school uniform, as well as his hair, is a bit ruffled, but other than that I see no visible marks. Kate, upon hearing the sound of my heels against the concrete, turns her head to us and pokes Edward’s arm lightly.

“Edward, your sister is here.” He slowly looks up from the book, almost fearful at how I’ll act. When his blue eyes meet mine, I can’t help but lose a little bit of anger that I had with him.

“Hi, love.” I greet, entering the room and bending down before him, fixing his uniform pants with my hand. He looks past me towards the doorway where I know Harry is still standing.

“Hey buddy.” Harry says, waving his hand before coming up behind me and placing his hands on my shoulders.

“You brought Harry.”

“Yeah, you had me worried sick and I figured he’d want to see you as much as I, to make sure you’re alright.”

“Why?” He wonders, the attitude clear in his voice. I sigh, glancing over at Kate who is subtly jotting something down in a notebook atop her desk. Honestly, I don’t mind her taking notes of our exchange if it will help Edward.

“Why would Harry want to see you?” Edward nods. “Because he cares.” His small eyes fit above me to the man that’s helped us through so much. He doesn’t say anything, but I can see the flash of emotion in his features.

“Come on,” Harry sounds from above me, picking up Edward’s rucksack, “let’s get you both home.”

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