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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5. The tale of a scared girl.


“Anything besides the coffee?” The waitress asked as they sat at a small diner that Harry took Emma to.

“Could I get a glass water?” Harry asked, smiling pleasantly at the woman, but Emma noticed that the smile never reached his eyes.

“Sure thing. Anything for you, dear?” She asked. Emma shook her head slowly. She just really wanted the lady to get lost.

“I’ll bring that right over,” she said, smiling genuinely at Harry.

“Thank you,” he said, giving her a nod as she hurried off.

Their eyes connected from across the table and Emma knew both of them had so much they wanted to say, but neither of them knew how to start the conversation or even begin to express the things that were pent up inside of them. And before they could get any words out, the waitress was back, bringing Harry his water.

“Just let me know if I can get you two anything else,” she said, smiling at them.

“Will do,” Harry told her. She nodded and hurried off once again.

“Emmy,” he breathed.

At the sound of her nickname on his tongue, her vision fell to her hands wrapped around the coffee mug.

“Nobody ever calls me that,” she said quietly.

“From what I remember, nobody but me ever did call you that,” he added.

“True,” she said, nodding her head lightly.

“How long has it been?” He asked. Emma’s eyes lifted up to his again.

She knew exactly how long it had been. It was the Christmas of her final year of high school – that was the last time she saw him. She was home on Holiday and she was out getting some last minute groceries for her mother before the stores closed on Christmas Eve. Running into Harry at the supermarket was not expected, but his mum had the same needs as her own mother and they nearly crashed into each other down the canned goods aisle.

 


Emma almost couldn’t believe her eyes – he grew up so much. She stood there staring at him, unable to speak. He was so tall – almost too tall. And his hair was slightly grown out and he was even more handsome than she remembered. His beautiful green eyes hadn’t changed, neither did the smile that always made her weak.

“Emmy…” He breathed.

“Harry,” she said, her voice cracking slightly, her mouth all of a sudden feeling as dry as sandpaper.

“Oh my god,” he said, setting the can of green beans that he had in his hand back onto the shelf, never dropping his eyes from hers.

She had no idea what to say. The guilt that consumed her when it came to Harry was enough to paralyze her. When she first left for boarding school in London, she promised him they’d keep in touch; that their friendship meant more to her than anything else in the world; that she loved him and she always would. But somewhere along the line they grew apart. Their phone calls were few and far between until they stopped altogether. They lost touch and she knew it was her fault because Harry tried to keep the connection open for a while after she gave up. He still called. He still wrote. He still texted. It was all on her. It was her fault they were standing in front of each other speechless.

“You look… you look absolutely beautiful,” he told her, his eyes staring into hers.

“Thanks,” she said, dropping her gaze, feeling bashful.

“You’re… you’re home?” He asked.

“On Holiday,” she told him.

“Oh,” he nodded.

“I go back right after the New Year,” she told him.

“We should… we should hang out… while you’re home, you know,” he said excitedly.

“Yeah. We should,” she said, smiling at him.

“Like old times,” he added in.

“Like old times,” she agreed, even though she knew it would never be like old times.

“Wow. I just can’t believe you’re actually standing in front of me,” he said after a few moments of weighted silence.

“Yeah. You too,” she said, smiling awkwardly at him.

“Well, uh… I’m just picking up some stuff for my mum,” he said, grabbing the can of beans again.

“Yeah. Me too,” she told him.

“Brilliant,” he said.

“I should… I should probably get going,” she told him.

“Sure. Yeah,” he said, looking rather disappointed.

“It was really good to see you, Harry,” she told him.

“You too,” he said, stepping forward to wrap her up into a short hug.

“Ring me or come by if you want to hang,” he told her.

“I will,” she said, smiling weakly at him.

“It’s so good to see you, Emmy,” he told her.

“You too, Harry,” she said, giving him one last smile before she moved passed him, giving a little wave.

She didn’t look back. And she never got around to meeting up with him to hang out. She was too afraid of hashing out everything with him and admitting fault for letting their friendship deteriorate.

 


“It’s been a long time,” she told him quietly.

“It has,” he said, nodding in agreement.

Silence engulfed them once again. It was definitely harder than she thought it would to be around him again. And with the weight of the pain in their lives pressing on them, it made it just that much harder.

“What have you been doing with your life?” He asked, letting his lip twitch up into a smile momentarily before it fell once again.

“I, uh… I… not a whole a lot, really,” she said, letting out a strained laugh.

“Me neither,” he chuckled, turning his coffee cup with his fingers.

Emma took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as she tucked her hair behind her ear.

“I have a… I have a daughter,” she told him quietly.

“Wow. Really?” He asked, looking genuinely surprised.

“Yeah. Madeline. She’s… she’s five months old,” she told him.

“Wow. Oh, wow. Five months only, huh?” He asked, trying to hide the pain in his eyes.

“Yeah,” Emma breathed quietly.

“I have a daughter too,” he told her.

“You do?” She asked, feeling the pain in her heart for both of them.

“Yeah. She’s three,” he told her.

“What’s her name?” Emma asked.

“Haven,” he said.

“Haven. That’s a beautiful name,” she said, smiling at him.

“Thank you. Her mum… she picked it out,” Harry said sadly.

Emma didn’t really know what to say. She so badly wanted to know his story – his entire story, but she didn’t want to pry. She didn’t want to bring up something so painful on their first real meeting since they were reunited. She wanted him to want to tell her about it in his own time.

“There’s just… there’s so much I want to say to you, Emma. So much I feel needs to be said. But I just… I don’t know where to start. And I don’t know how to say it,” he said, running his fingers through his long, ruffled hair before swooping it to the side, out of his eyes.

“Start at the beginning,” she said quietly.

Harry let out a large sigh and sat back against the booth, looking into her eyes for a few moments.

“I never thought I’d see you again,” he said finally.

Emma had no words to follow those. She really never thought she’d see him again either. Harry sat forward again, resting his arms against the table top.

“Can we talk? I mean, like really talk?” He asked her.

“Yeah. I mean, of course, Harry. That’s why we’re here,” she told him.

He nodded and took another deep breath like he was preparing for battle or something.

“I just… I have a lot of things I… that I just need to get off of my chest,” he told her.

“Okay,” she said, nodding slowly as she waited patiently for him to begin. His words frightened her more than she’d like to admit. He was about to slash open old wounds; scar tissue that still hurt years later.

“I’m going to be completely honest with you, Emmy,” he told her.

“Please,” she said with a nod. She could feel her hands shaking, so she cupped her coffee mug again.

“When you left… when you left for London and… and never came back, it gutted me,” he told her, staring straight into her eyes. There it was. She could feel the invisible lacerations in her heart oozing with regret and guilt.

The second the words left his lips, the tears were stinging in her eyes. It was always her biggest regret in life – hurting Harry like that. She just didn’t know how to make things better after she let them fall apart. She was scared.

“I’m… I’m sorry,” Emma whispered, trying to keep the emotion out of her voice.

“I understand that you made a life out there. I get that. I completely understand. But the fact that you just dropped me like I meant nothing to you – like we were nothing to each other was devastating,” he explained.

“Harry, I know. I know. I’m so sorry,” she said, unable to look up at him as her first tears slid helplessly out of her eyes.

“It took me a long time to get over you. When I made plans for the future, you were always in them. I always hoped you’d show up on my doorstep. But you never did,” he said honestly.

Emma closed her eyes tightly, pushing out her tears as she did. The pain in her heart was crippling.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed.

“No,” she whispered, wiping at her eyes.

She heard him sigh before she heard the unmistakable sound of his back hitting the booth seat once again. Emma opened her eyes and forced herself to look at him.

“I-I shouldn’t… I’m sorry,” he said again, shaking his head slightly.

“Please, don’t apologize,” she told him.

“You have enough going on. I don’t need to add to your grief,” he said. His words stung her heart even more, causing the tears to flow a little faster.

“Emma, I’m sorry,” his voice was soft.

“I’m okay,” she told him as she wiped at her eyes.

“Here,” he said, handing her his napkin.

“Thanks,” she said as she began dabbing at her eyes.

“I just… you have no idea how guilty I feel for letting our friendship fall apart,” she told him honestly.

“It was more than just our friendship. I loved you. I was in love with you, Emma,” he reminded her. Emma’s eyes shot up to his, remembering all the ways he made her feel when they were together.

“I was in love with you too,” she told him.

“Then how was it so easy to just forget me like that?” He asked, knitting his brow together, looking pained.

“I don’t know,” she breathed. He nodded his head slightly, looking down at his coffee once again.

“I’m sorry I don’t have any real answers for you, Harry. I’m sorry. I was just… I was selfish and I was scared and I just didn’t… I didn’t know what I was doing was going tear us apart so thoroughly,” she told him.

He nodded again, looking up at her this time. Silence engulfed them once again as Emma tried to dry her tears.

“What was his name?” Harry asked.

“Who’s?” Emma asked.

“Your daughter’s father,” he asked.

Emma swallowed back the lump in her throat. It felt incredibly abnormal to be talking about her late husband with Harry.

“Patrick,” she breathed his name.

“Were you… were you two married?” Harry asked.

“Yes. We were married for… for two years,” she told him.

 


“Emma Rose Haines, I have loved you since the moment I met you. You caught my eye the second I saw you and I have been hooked on you ever since. Every day with you is better than the last and I can’t imagine loving anyone else in this lifetime,” Patrick told her as he got down on one knee in front of her.

“I love you, Patrick,” she choked out as she felt the tears prickle in her eyes.

“Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” He asked sincerely.

“Oh my god,” she breathed as he opened up a small velvet box that contained an amazing three stone diamond ring in it.

“Patrick…” Emma breathed, holding her hands over her mouth. She heard him chuckle and she looked down into his questioning eyes.

“Yes. Yes, Patrick. Yes,” she said as she broke down completely, sobbing into his shoulder after she threw her arms around him.

“Oh, I love you. I love you so much, Emma,” Patrick breathed in her ear as he held her against his body.

 


The tears began to blur in her eyes again at the memory of her late husband.

“You don’t have to talk about it if you’re not ready, Emma,” she heard Harry’s voice. She looked up at him as the tears welled in her eyes.

“I can’t… I-I haven’t…” She choked out.

“It’s okay, Emma,” he told her.

“No. I-I… I haven’t been able to talk about him, but with you… I want to,” she told him. He gave her a small smile. Emma wiped her eyes, trying to bury the pain in her heart.

“He died… he died in a car accident,” she said. She wasn’t able to look him in the eye, but she was still making progress.

“I’m sorry,” Harry breathed out heavily.

“One second he was here – healthy and happy, and the next second he was just gone,” Emma said, wiping vigorously at her unrelenting tears.

Harry was silent and she couldn’t see him through her tears. She felt ridiculous for breaking down in the middle of a diner, but really she shouldn’t have cared.

“I was eight months pregnant,” Emma choked out.

“Emma, I’m so sorry,” he said, reaching across the table, placing his hand over her own, nearly jumping from the contact.

“I just… some days it’s hard to even breathe,” she said, shaking her head.

“I know the feeling,” he said quietly. She finally let herself look up at him again. He sighed again, pulling his hand back.

“When I met my wife – Hannah, I finally felt like I could get passed everything. I finally felt whole again. And then she was taken away and… and I haven’t been okay,” he confessed to her.

“I’m not okay,” Emma breathed, putting her hand up to her face.

“Emmy, hey. Hey,” Harry said, pulling himself out of his side of the booth only to slide into hers.

“Come here,” he said, pulling her into his arms, comforting her.

He held her for as long as it took her to compose herself. He was there for her like he always was before. He was there for her even though she didn’t deserve it after abandoning him.

“I think… I think I need to go home,” she told him once she pulled away from him.

“Okay,” he breathed.

“I just…” Emma started.

“You don’t have to explain,” he told her and she nodded.

“I’ll drive you,” he told her. She nodded again and pulled herself out of the booth right after him.

Though being in Harry’s presence lifted her up to an extent, the memories of losing Patrick pulled her down twice as much. She just wanted to go home to see Madeline, to hold her daughter in her arms and remind herself there was always a reason to keep fighting even when she wanted to completely give in to the darkness.

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