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#harry styles imagine
chericlo · 36 minutes ago
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Synopsis: Y/N suffers from short term memory loss.
"Baby did you go to your dentist appointment like I told you?" Harry wonders as they sit across from each other at the kitchen counter.
"I had a dentist appointment?" Y/N furrows her eyebrows, not remembering anything Harry had told her in the last twenty minutes let alone what he had said this morning.
"You were getting your teeth checked after your tooth ache last week." He had to remind her.
"Oh no, I'll have to re-book it." She huffs, writing it in her notebook she carried with her everywhere she went.
Y/N suffered from severe short term memory loss. It was so bad to the point where sometimes she'd even forget who the people around her were, especially after meeting them within the first hour.
Harry had met Y/N outside a doctors clinic where he was getting fixed after sustaining an injury on stage. He was intrigued by her skittish nature and the innocence that radiated from her.
They had exchanged numbers and Harry wanted to meet her that same night but she never showed up. Thinking he had gotten ghosted from a girl he had taken a liking to, he sent her a quick text asking where she was and immediately received one back.
Y/N: oh my goodness!! I forgot I'll be down there in ten minutes 🧃🌿🌻😚💗🐱
Harry laughed to himself at her excessive use of emojis and waited outside the bar for her arrival. She came running towards him in skinny jeans and a white blouse, her cheeks red from walking quickly from her apartment to the bar.
Since then, Harry spent every day afterwards receiving numerous of texts with plenty of random emojis at the end of each text message and he also found out the reasoning behind Y/N's forgetful nature.
"I have memory loss." She explains, not really embarrassed by it since she had found a great comfort in Harry who was now her boyfriend. "Sometimes I have moments where I just forget things that have happened in the past day or even week. That's why I was at the doctors when we first met, because I was getting a brain scan to see if there was anything they could do to improve it."
Harry understood Y/N even more than her own parents could. He would send her texts reminding her of appointments or things she needed to do, leave sticky notes on the fridge in his scribbled handwriting or tie a little ribbon on her finger to jog her memory and help her remember what she possibly had forgotten.
One time, Harry was on the radio breakfast show with Nick Grimshaw who simply adored Y/N as well. He was promoting his first solo single and it was the same day Y/N had to pick up her new dress for her promotion dinner at the dry cleaners.
"So here it is everybody, Harry Styles' new single-" before Nick could finish his sentence, Harry interrupted him.
"Wait! Y/N, angel, remember to go to the dry cleaners to pick up your dress." He speaks into the mic.
Nick laughs under his breath, he knows of Y/N's poor memory and how everyone around her needed to remind her of what she had forgotten so it wasn't strange for Harry to say such a thing. In fact, he was inwardly in awe of the couples loving relationship.
The hardest part of Y/N's condition were the days where it was more than short term memory loss and she really couldn't remember anything. The doctors didn't really know what to call it because it came in random bursts. Sometimes it would happen once a month, other times it would happen twice a year.
Harry had first experienced one of these days three months into their relationship. He knocked on the cherry red door of her apartment and waited for her to answer.
He gleamed when he saw her standing in front of him, her hair in every direction and her sleep mask on her head. She had her pink striped pyjamas on and one leg scrunched up at her knee. She rubbed her eyes as she tried to adjust her eye sight to the blinding sunlight.
"Oh are you the postman?" She mumbles, still sleepy.
Harry shook his head, "No it's me baby, it's Harry."
She looked confused, "Harry? Who's Harry?"
Harry's mouth opened and closed as he tried to think of something to say. He was worried about what was going on and whether her memory loss had gotten worst. He was prepared to call the doctor but her look of confusion turned into one of happiness.
"Harry? What are you doing here?" She hugs him and invites him into her home.
"It's pyjama day today!" He reminds her, the pact they made to have a day each month dedicated to lounging around the house in their pyjamas, eating snacks and watching movies together.
Speaking of, watching movies with Y/N was an entertaining couple of hours for Harry. She would constantly ask questions throughout since she had forgotten the majority of the start and Harry would have to pay great attention in order to tell her exactly what was going on.
Y/N's memory was a unique experience for Harry as he had never been with someone like her before but he wouldn't change it for the world. At the end of the day, he loved Y/N for all that she was - memory loss and all.
"C'mere baby." Harry reached out for his girl as they lay in bed together.
She curled into his side and hooked her legs across his lap, he placed his hand on her thigh and traced circles with the pad of his thumb on her soft skin.
"Remember Katie is coming tomorrow morning to decorate the house for our Easter party." Harry said, Y/N wanted to throw a party and invite their families over so decided to use Easter as an excuse to do this.
"What Easter party?" She pouted, trying to think of what he was talking about, "Oh wait the party!" She gasps, "I forgot to make my Easter cakes."
Harry laughs, shaking his head and kissing her pouty lips, "We'll make them tomorrow baby. Don't you worry."
The following day, Harry woke up before Y/N. He spent a small amount of time admiring her as she slept. He was a little embarassed to admit it, but on the mornings he woke up before Y/N, he would spend a couple minutes finding different things about her appearance that he hadn't seen before.
He found the faint beauty mark on the side of her cheek and the freckles at the back of her neck. He noticed the dimples at the bottom of her spine and the way her skin would form goosebumps where he left light touches.
He really did love this girl.
After a while, he goes downstairs to prepare a breakfast for Y/N. She wasn't really a breakfast person so he went for a banana and strawberry smoothie and a little fruit salad in a bowl.
He walked upstairs and gently shook her awake, "Hey cherry, it's time to wake up now." He says quietly, running his fingers through the ends of her hair.
She whimpers and grabs his hand, pulling it to her chest and keeping a tight grip on it, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep instead of facing the day.
"Is my baby a sleepy girl today?" He teases, chuckling when she nods her head, "C'mon my love, we need to get ready for the day. Your family will be over in a few hours."
"In a few hours but not right now Harry." She pouts.
"I made you breakfast though and I want to make sure my baby is well fed before the day starts." He tried to persuade her.
Slowly, she releases his hand and lets out a sigh of defeat, her eyes fluttering open, "Hello baby, look at those pretty eyes!" He coos, brushing her hair back as he admires the brightness in her eyes.
She sits up and covers her bare torso with the blanket. She had gotten hot last night in her sleep so woke up and took her shirt off before snuggling back into her boyfriend who was still fast asleep.
"What time is Katie coming over?" She wonders, taking a sip of her smoothie Harry had so kindly made for her.
"She should be here in the next hour or so to decorate the place." He looks at the clock on the other side of the room.
Y/N nodded, "Oh did you get the outfits I ordered for us?" She asked, referring to the outfits she had picked out online.
Harry smiled, "You were with me when I picked them up sweet girl." He reminds her.
She giggled at her cluelessness, "Oh yeah!" She smiled.
Later on, Katie had left and decorated the entire apartment in Easter decorations whilst Harry and Y/N were preparing food together and getting dressed up for their Easter party.
The house was a mixture of pastel colours with cute little bunnies hidden in and around the place. Y/N and Harry had spent a lot of time making little goodie baskets for each of their guests and Y/N was particularly excited for her little nieces and nephews to see them.
She stood in front of the mirror in her pink dress covered in strawberries. She had put up her hair into a ponytail and tied it with a red ribbon. She had decided to sport a red lipstick too since it had been a while since she had gotten this dressed up for an event.
Harry walked into their bedroom and admired Y/N from the doorway as she sat on the floor in front of the mirror and applied her red lipstick.
Once she had done, she sensed Harry's presence and looked over at him, a huge grin spreading on her features at the matching outfit she had picked out for him.
He was wearing the same strawberry pattern on a button up and wore black, wide leg trousers on his legs as they were the comfiest style of trousers to wear. His hair was ruffled on top of his head and his nails were even painted in pastel colours.
"Do you want the red lipstick too?" She teases but isn't that surprised when he nods his head.
"Might as well add to the matching we've got going on here." He smirks and walks over to her.
He sits down cross legged in front of Y/N who dabs her finger on the red Chanel lipstick. She taps it lightly onto his lips, his lips were a light cherry red colour, matching Y/N's but not as obvious.
"I'll be downstairs baby, Gemma said she'd be here soon." He kisses her cheek and wipes off the hint of red lipstick he left there.
Y/N smiles to herself as she finishes up with her makeup but immediately frowns when she feels as though she completely forgot what has happened in the last few hours and possibly longer than that.
Harry opens the door for the guests, embracing his little nephew Morgan and his twin sister Mila.
"Where's Y/N?" Gemma wonders, removing her jacket and revealing her light bump.
"She should be coming down in a second." He tells her.
Harry's family knew of Y/N's memory loss as well after he had explained to them after their first meeting. They also loved Y/N as much as everyone else, it was impossible not to with her colourful personality.
"Harry my boy!" Y/N's Father, Leon, walks through the door and her mother, Amelia, follows close behind.
Once everyone had arrived, Y/N finally came downstairs. Harry was talking to Mitch and Sarah when he saw her walk downstairs from the corner of his eye.
She had a puzzled look on her face from everything that was going on around her. "Auntie Y/N!" Her niece, Eliza, ran up to her and hugged her legs.
"Hi Liza." Y/N smiled, her parents walking over to her and greeting her.
Gemma walked over and Harry watched from afar their interaction. She looked confused as Gemma spoke to her, "It's nice to meet you." Harry picked up on what she was saying and his face softened when he realised what was going on.
He excused himself from his conversation with Mitch and Sarah and walked over to Gemma and Y/N. "Hey Y/N," he approached her, Y/N's face even more confused. "My name is Harry."
Gemma's face turned into one of understanding when she finally realised what was going on. Harry had mentioned before that Y/N would have small bursts where she truly forgot everything.
"Harry?" She wondered, "Are you here for the party too?"
Harry nodded, "Your parents invited me." He said.
Through experience, Harry had found a way of dealing with these small bursts of forgetfulness. He never wanted to scare her or add to her confusion so he had to truly pretend as if it what their first time meeting until her memory returned.
Her eyes widened with elation, "Hey look! We're matching." She pointed to his strawberry printed shirt.
"Well would you look at that!" He smirked, looking down at her pretty dress that matched his shirt.
"It was nice to meet you Harry." She grins, walking over to play with her niece and nephews who were playing with the toys in her Easter basket.
"I really don't know how you do it H." Gemma sighs, in awe of her brother and his relationship with the sweet girl.
"I love her." Is all he says as he watches in happiness at his girlfriend playing with the little kids.
Further on into the party, Y/N was starting to feel a little uneasy at the amount of people she didn't know at the party. Harry had spoken to her a few times and something about him felt familiar to her which gave her an immense amount of frustration.
"Do you really not know who he is?" Talia, Y/N's older sister asked as she held a glass of champagne.
"I-I don't know who any of these people are." Y/N huffed in frustration. "All these people know my name already but I can't seem to figure out who any of them are."
"How can you forget your own boyfriend?" Talia asks in shock.
"B-boyfriend?" Y/N stutters looking over at Harry who was talking to her mother. She wanted to ask Talia to explain more but Amelia called her over before she had the chance to.
"Y/N darling! Come over here!" Y/N's mother calls her over. "Harry was telling us about the house you toured the other day!" Harry's eyes widened.
Y/N's family weren't very understanding of her memory loss and how to deal with it. He had told them earlier on into the party that she was feeling a bit cloudy today but clearly they didn't listen.
Harry watched her reaction as Y/N furrowed her eyebrows trying to understand what was going on, "We're moving in together?" She wonders, Harry opens his mouth to say something but Amelia interrupts.
"Of course you are Y/N, Harry is your boyfriend!" She frowns causing Harry to inwardly role his eyes.
Y/N's eyes watered slightly, "You're my boyfriend?" She whimpers, she was just so confused and overwhelmed with everything that was going on.
Harry was in full protective boyfriend mode as he picked her up in his arms and bought her into a room close to where the party was within the apartment.
She cried into his shoulder, "Hey it's okay baby, you're okay." He cooed, running his hand up and down her back.
"I-I don't remember anything Harry." She whimpers, her eyes red from crying.
"It's okay sweet girl, you don't need to remember everything right now. Know your memory is a little clouded over right now but 'm right here and I'll wait for it all to come back for as long as possible." He assures her as they sit down on the couch with Y/N on his lap.
"Y-you still love me even though I can't remember?" She pouts, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand.
Harry chuckles, "I'll still love you baby don't you worry." He kisses her forehead and tucks her hair behind her ear.
They sit in the room a while so Y/N can calm down and process everything. She rests her head on his shoulder as he rubs his fingertips into her scalp.
Y/N's memory doesn't come back for the rest of the night but Harry spends the entire night by her side as he introduces her to all the people she couldn't remember.
Everyone was very understanding and patient with Y/N, re-introducing themselves to her and making her feel comfortable within her own home so she didn't feel so confused anymore.
The following morning, Harry wakes up to the sound of gentle humming. He turns over and smiles when he sees her sat up with a book and a cup of tea, her messy bed hair put up into a bun on top of her head.
"Hmm Morning baby," He speaks, his voice raspy.
She turns her head and her face brightens, "Harry!" She puts her book down and wraps him in her arms.
"Ahh so you remember today?" He murmurs, kissing the top of her head.
"Yes I remember." She hums, "Thank you for loving me." Is all she says before kissing him on the lips.
"Thank you for letting me love you." He whispers to her.
Harry smiled as she rambled on about random things, many she had already told him before.
He felt very lucky to have such a wonderful girl in his life. Even though her memory faded from time to time, she never ever forgot to come back to him.
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harrysmaraschino · an hour ago
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When Y/N applied to study at the art school located in Golden Hills, a small city hidden amoung the mountains, blessed by a beautiful coastal line that is known to captivate large ammounts of turists all year around, she would’ve never guessed that she would find herself willingly stepping into a subculture in which the limits are as blurry as the feelings she shares for Harry, a green-eyed boy with long hair, black clothes and a very messy heart.
Listen to the “Damaged Goods” Spotify Playlist: Here Listen to Harry's “Silly Love Songs” Spotify Playlist: Here “Damaged Goods” Masterlist: Here
Genre: Enemies to Lovers | College AU
Warnings: Smut*, Cursing, Alcohol & Drug Use, Borderline Abusive Behavior
Wordcount: 17K
Read This:
• This story will mention actions that may be considered as borderline abusive, such as public humiliation and verbal abuse. If you’re sensitive to any of these subjects I advise you not to read it.
• Even though one of the main characters in this story is inspired by a real person (Harry Styles), I purposefully avoided mentioning his last name because writing explicit things under his name made me feel uncomfortable, since he never conceded me the right to write about him.
• Every character mentioned in this story is a legal and consenting adult.
• Although the events narrated are completely fictional, they’re inspired by real college traditions that I’ve experienced myself. I later realized that understanding these traditions may be a little challenging if you’re not already familiar with them, so if you’re curious or want to know more about them feel free to ask. A/N: There's some fucking 😏
Chapter XI - Silly Love Songs*
Harry's smell still lingers on Y/N’s clothes as she silently walks down the residence’s long hallway. Any trace of purple on her lips now far gone, and holding the pair of black combat boots she’d left her room with in one of her hands, since she had decided to remove them at the entrance, for the sake of any sleeping neighbors she might have. Her socked feet pat quietly against the unclean flooring tiles. A silly smile she isn’t aware of is painted on her lips as she recalls her favorite parts of the conversations she’d had with Harry throughout the night. There is something wild pumping in her veins, something that is making her want to run back the yards that now separate her from him. She wants to come knocking on his door, slither into his bed and fall asleep with the awareness of his body being right there, hopefully glued to hers in a sleepy warm embrace. She won’t go though. Not only because she needs to change her pad, get something to eat, take off her make-up and brush her teeth, but also because even though Harry seems to enjoy her company, he hasn’t invited her to stay the night with him, and she really doesn’t want to come off as pushy or obtrusive by showing up at his door uninvited in her cuffed pajama bottoms at 3am. The desire still haunts Y/Ns mind though, as she cattily rotates the knob and pushes her dorm’s door open, careful not to wake her roommate. “Where have you been?” Ameena’s familiar voice startles you. She was sitting on her bed, with her legs crossed. Waiting for you in pitch darkness like a mom waiting for her unreliable teenage daughter to come home after a night out. “What are you doing still awake?” You hiss, flicking the light up on your way inside. “Waiting for you, -- obviously.” She flat out acknowledges. “Where did you go? And don’t even think about lying to me because I know you’ve told our friends you were with me, only I-” She takes her hand to her chest. “haven’t seen you all night.” You shrug lightly. - “I was with Harry.” You say in the most flat-out tone possible as you hurry on removing your practically homemade costume piece by piece, hoping Ameena would mistake your casualty for a clear conscience. “Oh.” She voices, with an unexpected punch of surprise in her tone, making you tilt your head to look in her face. “No, I knew that.” She clarifies swiftly. “I just wasn’t expecting that you would admit to it so quickly.” “You did?" Your brows pinch alarmingly. "How?" You should've left it at that, but you don't... Instead you ask something stupid, that fuels Ameena's glimmerings even more. "Did you... uh... see anything weird?” “Why?" She pushes, as her face screws with inquisitiveness, and perhaps some amusement as well. "Was there anything weird for me to see?” “No, no..." You try shaking your head to give emphasis to the word, but it's not working. "I was just wondering how you could be so sure.” You add, albeist jittery and feeling like, at this point, your face might've as well just have the word 'blameworthy' written all over it. “Because he went missing as well, at the same time you did…” “That doesn’t mean anything. There were lots of people at that party.” You dismiss her statement, throwing your used party clothes over your desk with a conclusive huff. “I’m gonna go make myself a bowl cereal." You inform fleetly, as you start kicking out the slippers half hidden under your bed before clumsily sliding your feet inside them. "Do you want anything from the kitchen?” “I want you to quit trying to throw dust into my eyes and talk to me about what is going on between you two once and for all.” Ameena asked, groaning with annoyance. - “Oh, and -" Her face lights up and she raises her finger up to call your attention. "A packet of Java Chip Oreos, please. -- and one of your mango juice boxes as well, since you asked.”
** Roughly five minutes later Y/N was walking back inside the room. And watching her roommate’s tired expression lift once she threw the juice and the small packet of coffee flavored cookies at her. She tore it apart immediately, moaning mid-bite like the cookie was the best piece food she had ever had in her life. “Why do sweet treats always taste so much better when you’re on a diet?” “I have no idea… but it’s 3am. No one’s eating healthy at 3am anyway.” You sat in your bed facing her, bending your body in a similar cross-legged position just so that you could position the bowl filled with your favorite cereal over your lap. “Agreed. 3am is for sugary snacks and unappeasable mistakes only.” Ameena said as she tore open the wrapping of the box’s small straw, pulling and bending it before poking it through the box. “Speaking of mistakes…” She remarked, taking the pink straw between her teeth and sucking lightly. “Are you planning to tell me what you’ve been up to tonight or are you going to make me guess? Cause I’ve got a whole list of sacrilegious options I’ve been conjuring while you were gone, and I would be more than happy to-” “No! No, thank you. There’s no need to go there.” You held your hand out to stop her from speaking any further. You took a spoon of cereal to your mouth, chewing slowly as you debated on how to go on about the whole thing. Should you cut the crap once and for all and just tell her everything? Should you just paint the big picture, or should you stick to your initial wish and keep things just between you and Harry? But with the way your friend was gawking and wiggling in place, you could she was starting to get hot under her collar with the sudden muteness from your part, so you figured the least you could do was tell her the nuts and bolts of your night. “Honestly not much, -- we just went for a beer...” A grin pulls at her mouth, eager to finally get some enlightenment on her speculations. "And then he brought me home. -- that's it.” She hummed over the ruffling sound of the wrapper as she stuck her fingers back inside, digging for another cookie. It was one of those compelling hums aimed for you to keep going. “Was that all? Didn’t anything else happen?” She locked eyes with you. “Didn’t he like, try to make a move to kiss you or something?” “Um…” You peeped at her from the top of your lashes, with your lips wrapped around the metal spoon you'd just taken to your mouth. - “We uh, -- I guess we both kind of did, yeah.” “Okay, … What the fuck?!” Ameena chokes on her cookie, some fractions of it flying directly from her mouth as she coughs with surprise. “You’ve been pining over that man for months. How are you not screaming in happiness right now?” “Excuse me?” You babbled offendedly. “I have NOT been pining over him.” “Yes, you have! But either way… you just kissed the guy! What the fuck is wrong with you?” She insisted, waving her hand in front of her face and slowly draining on her juice to try and stop the stubborn intermittent coughs. “Oh no… it wasn't good, was it? Was it awkward? Did you smack teeth?” “Okay… um, so -- there’s something I’ve got to tell you." You start aprehensively. "I know I should’ve told you earlier but -- tonight wasn’t the first time." Ameena's jaw drops some with surprise, and if you weren't so nervous, perhaps you would've laughed at the way her lips started pumping at nothing, seeking for the straw that wasn't there. "We’ve actually been seeing each other… occasionally,” You made sure to remark. “… for a month and some…” “Define seeing each other," She eggs on, shaking away her bewilderment. "like… how far have you…” “Pretty far…” You purse your lips, nodding your head as you reminisce. “Like, almost all the way far…” “Shut the fuck up. No, you haven’t. Have you? Oh my god, have you seen his dick?” You opted not to answer her, but your face did it for you. -- or so you realized once she took a big gasp and looked at you like you had just confessed to have hosted a spa day without her. “You’re a whore for not telling
me.” She tells you, no pinch of grace to her stance besides the choke that escapes her once she notices the sudden starkness of your face. “Well maybe... but it’s not like you did better, is it?” You yammer back at her, and immediately she shifts a little in place. If you had not just came out of such a noisy party, you would bet you would be able to hear her heart jump in her chest. “You really thought you were the only one finding out my secrets ahead of time, didn't you?” “What is that supposed to mean?” She challenges. “It means" You start, unable to stop yourself from smiling a little at your own wittiness. "I found something the other day that made your crush on that Scottish guy from Outlander start making a whole lot more sense. -- That being that you have a thing for redheaded beefy guys with beards and pretty blue eyes.” “How did you find out?” Ameena gasps, although she doesn't seem taken aback, she's more surprised than anything else. "Find out what?" Y/N's totally acting like a smarty pants now. "That you have a thing for redheaded beefy guys or that you're dating Vincent?" "The last one." She grumbles. “Oh, that would be cause I saw you together at school the other day.” You reveal, unable to stop a little proud grin from showing up into your face when you see her purse her lips, musing over her past secret school encounters with Vincent, trying to figure out when and where you could've seen them. “And, although it's a very unexpected pairing, I actually think you look really cute together…” “Really? You think so?” “Yeah, and well -- I can't really say I know Vincent, since I only talked to him once or twice, but he seems really chill and sweet." You allege honestly, retrospecting over that time he went out of his way to help you, a practical stranger, that time you had your major freak out episode at Madison's birthday party. "and it’s not even like ‘oh they make a nice pair because they’re both cute’, it was the way you guys were acting around each other, it was so precious... I don’t know how to explain it better, but it felt like a good match.” “Ow… it makes me so happy that you thought that! You have no idea... And same! About you and Harry.” You rolled your eyes at her, figuring that she was only returning the compliment to make you happy. - “No, I’m serious… You know I’ve always shipped you lot together, even though I figured Harry to be a bit of an ass... Vincent always says he’s a great guy though, he just happens to look a bit intimidating ‘cause he frowns a lot...” “Yeah…” Y/N smiles to herself, thinking back to when that same thought had occurred to her right as she’d talked to him for the first time. “He’s actually sort of a mush-ball beneath the surface, believe it or not.” “Really? Does that mean he’s sweet and not like, you know… dominant in bed?” “Ameena…” “Come on… He’s freaky, isn’t he?” She's wallowing in it now, basking on the way Y/N's growing all hot and bothered over her naughty prying. “Does he make you call him ‘Sir’ while you’re at it?” “No, he doesn’t and if he did I still wouldn’t tell you.” “Come on… You can’t not tell me. It’s Harry we’re talking about." You brush her off with a shake of your head, placing your finished bowl of cereal over your nightstand and getting up from the bed in order to go use the bathroom. "It’s practically community dick with how much it’s constantly in everyone’s mouths. -- Metaphorically speaking, of course.” She only adds the last part when Y/N tosses her shoulder with a displeased 'heyyy'. You know what she means though. Ever since first week Harry and his prick have remained a constant topic of discussion during the freshmen's rehearsal breaks, which is partly why Y/N skips them as much as she can. -- Not only because it enfuriates her beyond belief to hear others spitting out hunches about what shape and size he must be, but also because she's sure one day she'll lose it and jump at someone's throat amidst them sharing a dirty fantasy where Harry has them up against a cherry tree or some shit.
“What do you want me to say? He’s… nice, -- great even! I’m obviously not going to go into details about his dick, but - I think we get along pretty well when it comes to… sexy stuff.” Y/N’s already cringing at herself for using that term, but Ameena only seems mildly happy with the answer she’s got, so she forces herself to continue. “He likes to take care of me… always makes sure I’m comfortable with what we’re doing… he’s sweet… and hot… and..." Y/N's phone dings, and she reaches out to check it. "and I’m fucked.” She cuncurrs as she reads the texts popping up in her phone. [Harry: How do I get this purple lipstick off my face?] [Harry: Also, why are you not in my bed?] "Was that him?" Ameena pokes, noticing you smiling silly at your phone. "Yeah..." You sigh all pampery. "Is it stupid that miss him already?" “No... it's not stupid... I'm like that with Vincent all the time as well." She chuckles, shaking her head amusedly. "So... you really like Harry, huh?" "Yeah." You smile, nodding affirmatively. "He makes me feel happy."
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Y/N was not happy with Harry. And she had a good reason for it. Harry had decided to do a little number on her... by sending her a text on friday night telling her that 'he was checking the other day and she still had a couple of burpees to do before they could bring her punishment to a close'. Which had already kicked off a bit of a bellyache on her. Because well, she had kind of assumed that they had mutually agreed on letting those slide, since he never brought the punishing up again, even after they were done with the chaotic school assignment weeks. And no, the fact that she was going to have to waste part of her saturday sweating a couple of hundreds of burpees off her body, instead of feasting on a fancy italian latte and a cinanamon bun with her best friend like she usually did, although being a sucky situation, still wasn't the reason why she was upset. No. -- She was upset, because the little shit had lied to her. So when she showed up at their usual parking lot on Saturday morning as scheduled, fresh out of bed, cold, sleepy eyed and looking like a right mess, in her yoga pants, sports shoes, a sweater that didn't even really match her outfit that well and her backpack stuffed with her favorite reusable water bottle and half a box of granola bars, she was expecting to find Harry in a similar sporty, casual outfit, like the ones he usually wore the times he penciled her punishment appointments last minute on weekend days. Except this time, that wasn't the case. He showed up looking like a right dream. He was bearing down against his car, dressed in black jeans and ankle boots (ever so typical of him), a cornflower blue sweater that fit him like a glove and brought out the color of his eyes, and a padded bomber jacket that made him look all cushy and warm and somehow made you want to go and hug him ever more. Even his hair looked particularly nicer, for god's sake. His uncombed layers had been slicked back with some sort of wax, but his fluffy waves remained as dainty and unruly as ever, bouncing beautifully every time the morning breeze blew over them. "Good mornin' sunshine." He'd greeted merrily as soon as he spotted you walking over, looking crabby, snoozy and like you'd much rather still be out of his, and the rest of the world's sight. "Mornin'." You reply briefly, feeling your limbs ivoluntarily twist in a big stretch. "What's with all the primping today?" You nod towards his outfit playfully, ready to start some casual banter. "Are you going on a date after this or something?" "I am." The teasing smile drops of your face instantly, being replaced by an expression of sudden alarm, with bulging eyes and a lowered jaw but then he grins at you. "We are, actually." "What?" Your mind is confused ... and so is your body, because now there's sparkly butterflies growing from places you'd just felt were ripped to pieces by feral, ruthless fangs. "Sweet baby," Harry's grinning at you from ear to ear. "You should've seen your face..." His teasing, although sweet, is not helping the angry blood still sizzling inside your veins ever the slighest. "Did you get jealous thinking that I was going out with some pretty girl that wasn't you?" "Why would I get jealous?" You huff, putting your backpack down on the sidewalk and sitting next to it. "Also, what do you mean we're having a date? I'm noway ready to go anywhere dressed like this." "Rubbish..." Harry starts, sitting on the sidewalk next to you. "It was supposed to be a surprise, so I obviously wasn't expecting you to show up all dolled up, you know?" "Then what the hell were you thinking?" "I don't know." He huffs, smiling a little at the same time. "I just wanted to see you... and hopefully spend a nice day together." Your heart feels warm. Warm and happy inside your chest besides the angry pout displayed on your face. "Which was maybe a shit idea if you're about to turn me down." Harry's looking at you like a sad puppy and you hate it. Hate that his eyes are making you feel like a terrible owner about to push their pet out the door
while it's raining and there's thurderstorm approaching in the sky. "I'm not turning you down..." You start, immediately watching his face warm. What is only making you feel worse as you carry on with your stance. "I'm turning your date invitation down. Today, specifically." "Why?" He pouts a little at the news. "Harry, look at me!" You chuckle warmheartedly, uprising and flashing your oversized, sports sweater at him. "I look hideous! There's no way I'm going anywhere with you all spruce and looking like a dreamboat while I have cheap yoga pants on." His head drops a little, so you bring your finger to his chin and push it up. "I'll be more than happy to go out a date with you anytime, as long as you give me a couple hours notice just so that I can get ready." "But I like your yoga pants..." Harry insists, tilting his head and giving your outfit a quick once-over. "They make your butt look rather peachy." He heckles, making you gasp and smack over his bulky shoulder, pretending to be more offended than you were. "Can never win with you, can I?" He puffs, getting up from the sidewalk. “Either way," He picks and bunts your heavy backpack over his back before he starts walking towards his car. You're staring at him confusedly as you watch him open the trunk and throw your bag in there. "Date or no date we'll still have to drive past Ikea." Your eyebrows irk. "I saw online that they have lava lamps like your roommate's one that we broke. -- You know her better than I do, so you should be able to figure out which one she'll like most.” You don't want to go to Ikea. You want to drag Harry with you back to the dorms and force him to watch Knives Out with you. Preferably under a blanket, whilst sharing a box of buttered microwave popcorn, all cozy and snug so that maybe he will let you hold his hand during the suspense parts. But now Harry wants to go to Ikea... -- and you're in noway ready to give up his company yet. "Okay fine..." You shrug defeatedly, "I guess my yoga pants might be good enough for shopping at 9am on a Saturday..." With no more 'ifs' or 'buts' you walk towards the car, where Harry's awaiting you with a happy grin as he opens the passenger's door for you. “Since there is no date," He tips as you're about to to slide into your seat. "can I charge you for the kiss now?” “No.” You nudge, facetiously as you step inside the car. "What?" He shakes his head confusedly and bends down, sticking his head inside the car after you. “Not even a little one?” You laugh a bit, leaning over and giving a lusty smooch over his cheek because he looks right cute and you can't say no to him, especially when he's pouting at you like he is now. He gives you one back, before retracting and pushing your door closed. Just as swiftly, he climbs into the drivers seat, flicks his seatbelt on, adjusts the mirrors and starts the car. "If it makes you feel better, I didn't have nothing proper planned for today... not like a fancy restaurant or anything like that..." He pats your knee, giving it a light squeeze before drawing his hand back to the stirring wheel. "With that said, you're sitting in my car now... so I guess I get to do you with you as I please... and that includes taking you with me anywhere i feel like going." "Huh?" You question, tilting your body towards him the best you can with the seatbelt on. "You heard it right." Despite the spiritedness in his smile, you can tell by the solemn look in his face as he spares you a quick glance in your direction that he's being serious. "I think you look lovely in that sportswear, just the same as when you wear a pretty dress. -- and since I'm the one taking you out today, I think you should consider my opinion, even if its just this once." You groan, crossing your arms and legs and pushing yourself further into the seat. You're a bit worked-up at Harry's approach, but you also can't help feeling flattered that somehow he still finds you pretty when your eyes look puffy and the state of your hair makes it seem like you've just stuck a finger in a light socket.
Harry's still staring at you. You can feel it more than you can see it through the rear view mirror by taking casual glimpses at it. You find yourself flashing a mischievious smile at him through the reflection. The one you always put on before you're leaning down towards the car radio and switching his favorite music station for the one that you like most. Your goal of finding the perfect song is quickly forgotten though, as you swap your attention back to Harry, in order to scold him for disregarding the speed limits within the university fields. All he does is laugh and shake his head at your concern as he takes his foot to the brake and shifts to a lower gear. “Do you drive?” He asks. You move around in your seat a little, inquisitive as to why the question. “No, not yet… Why?” “Noticed your staring," He says matter-of-factly, taking his hand to the dash to finish what you didn't get to do. "So I thought you were silently judging my gear technique.” He keeps flipping through the stations until you're asking him to stop because you like the song that's currently playing. “No… I was just looking, no judgement.” You keep to yourself that the reason behind your immersion was the size and attractiveness of his hands and not so much the change lever. “Looks complicated.” He spares you another glance, smiling amusedly. “Wanna try it?” “Um…" You hiss, fixing your eyes on the gizmo in front of you, while evaluating the proposition. "I don’t know if that’s a good idea…” “Don’t worry, I won’t let you crash us;” Harry promises, showing off a full and cheerful smile while extending his hand towards you. “c’mon, give me your hand.” “Where do I…” You buzz with a circular motion of your hand. “Here,” He said, softly patting the gear handle. - “Just place it here.” You did what he asked you to, although a little apprehensively. Once your hand was laying there, he moved his palm to rest on the back of your hand, curling his fingers together with yours so that he could still have a firm grip over the handle. “Relax…” He prompted, noticing your stressed-out face. “You don’t have to do anything, just follow my lead…” He said, only proving that he genuinely could not tell that the reason behind your sweaty palms was more so his delicate touching, than the bloody tool you were holding. You came across a yellow traffic light, one he could easily speed through, but he chose to slow down and let it shift to red. Once the car stopped, he gently pulled both your hands to neutral, then left and up again to 1. “See, it’s easy.” He smiled, shifting his gaze to you briefly before setting his eyes back on the light. His thumb carried on petting the soft side of your pinky as he waited for it to move back to green. “Should I take it out now?” You asked. Not that you wanted to pull your hand away, but you were mildly worrying that it was getting in the way of his driving. He smiled at you. “You can let it stay if you want to… -- For practice.”
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Ikea's setups are nice, but not really up Y/N’s alley if she’s honest. When it comes to house decorations, Y/N's more into those effervescent colors and shapes most people believe should remain inside museums. She likes bubblegum pink feature walls, opulent spaces with too many artworks, rooms divided by archways, mustard yellow couches, ceramic cactus décor, circular mirrors and that 21st century witch aesthetic that is in no way comparable to Ikea’s minimalistic lines. Their brand new furniture line is exhibited by the front of the store, set inside small custom-built rooms made of thin white walls. They all share the same theme. Practical, but modern. In all warm, earthy tones, with eco-focused furniture pieces and rust, green and blue colored sofas that you and Harry are swerving through as you probe around the store, looking for the lava lamp section. You end up getting a little lost there, as everyone always does at Ikea stores, but fortunately, Y/N’s in good company today. So anytime she gets disinterested in looking at furniture, she can and will peek at Harry instead. Well, it’s more the other way around really. Because unlike it happens with boho carpets and ceiling lights, she never gets tired of looking at Harry. She's certain she could watch him shuffle through trendy shower curtains throughout the whole day without getting bored. Harry’s entertaining to look at. Especially when he spots a home gadget he isn’t familiar with and his eyebrows curve with curiosity as he balances forward over his foot to get a better look… and when he scrunches up his nose at design choices he finds questionable. He isn’t an appreciator of peel-and-stick wallpapers, Y/N’s guessing... She also believes he doesn’t like bedrooms with matching furniture sets and laminate kitchen cabinets trying too hard to pass as real wood. Yes, Y/N’s thinking about it. How could she not? She’s trying not to entertain the thought, but it’s hard when they have been mistaken for a newlywed couple looking to furnish their brand new house for at least 4 different employees already. So her brain is wondering… imagining how waking up besides Harry every morning and coming home to him at the end of a tiring workday would be like. She sees them curling up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, the balcony windows are open because the weather’s sunny like today... It’s a bit windy too, so the curtains are flowing in and out... there's a cheesy movie playing on the telly that she's seen way too many times, but never seems to remember the ending of. There are two teacups set on the coffee table, but Y/N hasn't finished hers yet because she's too busy playing with Harry's hair, braiding it out of boredom. And whilst he keeps complaining that she is pulling too hard, he makes no effort to push her away. She’s guessing they would still bicker over other silly things, though. Like who's turn it is to load the dishwasher or why there's a paper container thrown in the yellow recycling bin. She can see it vividly in her head now... them both disheveled in their pajamas crossing swords in the kitchen. It gets ugly, and bad and dirty… But then, in the middle of their argument Harry cracks a toothy smile at her, because she’s stuttered a word or used a poor choice of an insult on him; It's one of those smiles of his that never fail to knock her socks off and make her insides twist... She feels her all madness crumble apart then… and laughing along with him she'll ask: "We're being idiots again, aren't we?" Y/N blames having these soppy thoughts on Harry entirely. On the way his hand keeps searching for her lower back to call her attention anytime he feels like asking what color she likes most out of an item with multiple color options. This time it was a room divider. Y/N said she liked the bamboo one better. Behind the divider there was another room setup. With a white wooden his and hers wardrobe, with multiple doors and sections. Neither Harry nor Y/N could resist opening a couple of doors to have a peek inside, falling
a little disappointed to find nothing inside besides empty drawers and woven baskets. Next to the wardrobe was a sitting area, with a nice beige chair, a hanging rack filled with magazines and cute potted houseplant hangers stuck to the walls… But the star in the room, at least to Y/N, was the small, vintage looking gold side table stuck to the wall. With its thin wavy feet and a storage spot underneath it. “Oh my god!” You fuss, moving around the room like a floating body just so that you can reach it.
Evoking the fictional divisions of your dream house, you decided this would be a perfect purchase for the living room… to place right next to the purple velvet couch you also wanted… so that you could slot your favorite scented candle pot over it, and magazines with cool covers, and a magical looking amethyst lamp… -- A fake one, because Y/N knows even her idealized self won’t have money for real crystals any time soon… Either way, she’s obsessed with it. “Harry, look! Isn’t it super cool?” You mewl, turning your head to the side, hoping to get Harry’s validation. “I know it’s very Parisian chic, but on the other end… it’s like it could perfectly belong in Steven Tyler’s beach house or something.” He shakes his head amusedly, staring down at you as you kneel next to the table, over the silky caramel brown rug. “I’ll confess I have no idea what ‘Parisian chic’ looks like, but it looks about perfect for coke snorting, so I’m guessing you’re right about the last part…” Harry’s hands were behind his back as he carried on inspecting the space. Picking up a couple of decoration items from the shelves to see them up close from time to time. You notice him reaching for one of the books; a bright yellow one with ‘On Modernism’ written in large bold pink letters on the cover. “It’s a pretty damn cool table though…” He said as he flipped through the pages. ‘What a dummy…’ you thought, noticing his eyebrows pinch together displeasingly as he finally comes to realize that it was only a decoration prop. “How much is it?” He questioned, closing and jamming the book back in place. “It’s…” You checked the price tag, solely out of curiosity because no matter how much you loved that table, there was no possible justification to invest in such a fancy piece of furniture at this erratic stage of your life. “Suddenly not so cute...” You flip the tag in his direction. “350 pounds for that tiny table?" Harry's eyes widen. "That’s about the same price as this bedframe...” He flops his ass over the meticulously made double bed without any hesitation. “Which is far more worthy, if I say so myself…” He says, letting his body fall back against the oversized olive green coverlet and clasping his hands over his stomach. “Harry…” You chuckle meekly, getting back on your feet and walking around the bed when you see him press his eyes shut like he was about ready for a nap. “Lift up from there before someone sees you and we get kicked out.” Your foot never ceases kicking at his ankles until you spot his eyes reopening. “How about you stop worrying so much and just come here and cuddle me?” He soughed sleepily as he stretched his arms above his head, making his shirt ride up enough to give you a quick glimpse of the trail of hair thriving down, towards his crotch. It was enough to bring a warmth to your cheeks and prompt you to shift your gaze away. “Sides, if anyone asks, we can always say our budget’s too tight to invest on a bed without trying it out first. --they'll eat that up, don’t you think... wifey?” You avoided the question by focusing your attention somewhere else, rummaging through a stack of plush bed comforters like you actually meant to buy one. “All I know is that you’re going to fall asleep and I’m going to leave you there.” You admonished once you finally felt gutsy enough to spare the boy another look. Only to realize that his eyes, however dozy, had remained fixed on you. “I won’t fall asleep, just gimme two minutes...” He gave a blissful sigh, spreading his arms wide over the bedding. “Besides, I know you won’t leave. You’re stuck with me for the day, remember? Unless you’d rather go back to the parking lot to do your burpees...” “For the day?” You questioned concernedly. “Are you actually planning to take me somewhere else?”
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Going to the beach during the cold months is always nice. Ever since she remembers, Y/N has always enjoyed it. She likes the way the air is misty and smells saltier than it does in the summer. With every breath she inhales, it feels like nature is cleaning her whole body through her lungs. Her lips taste salty and gritty from the sand particles flying around her face, and the coolness of the wind is making her legs feel numb, which isn’t great for running when an unforeseeable wave disperses further than you were expecting, but still... it feels great. The weather was bright that day. The sunrays broke through the clouds and made the salty water glisten silver. There are a couple of gulls mewing in the sky above your head, besides them, there’s no one here. Just you and Harry, strolling down the sand as the ocean waves rapture fiercely against the shore. You had been collecting seashells and hiding them in your pocket throughout your walk, just so you could throw them at Harry when you caught him distracted. He’s given you two warnings so far. “I’m not kidding Y/N.” He'd menaced, “One more and I'm taking you for a bath.” “I’m not scared of you.” Y/N had replied with a snicker as she scampered more towards the dunes to make sure he couldn’t get back at her. She does this mostly because she’s a natural pesterer, and also because she likes to rile Harry up by startling him when he thinks she’s done and that there are no more scraps left in her pocket. Except there always are. “Oops.” You smirk devilishly. “Guess there was one more after all.” You laugh when he winces back at you, and that’s when his patience finally snaps and he starts sprinting. You let out a squeak and start running, but it’s pointless. Harry’s legs are longer and faster, and his body is more resilient to the way his feet cave into the icy sand as he trails after you. Your only hope now is that he won’t be able to pick you up… but he is. He grabs you from the back and wraps his arms around your middle. “No, no, no!” You’re blubbering the word repeatedly, kicking to try skirmishing away from his hold… but it’s not working; he’s still dragging you towards the sea. “No, Harry, please... it’s too cold… please don’t.” “Oh it’s cold, is it? Should’ve though of that earlier.” You’re pushing up your legs, trying to climb up Harry’s body as his feet finally reach the shoreline. “Last chance, -- say sorry.” “I’m sorry. I’m sorry." You’re whimpering at that point, grabbing zealously onto Harry’s forearms that encase your waist just in case he decides to drop you. "I’ll do anything, just not the water... please.” "Anything I want?" "Yes! Anything you want. -- just please, put me down." At that, Harry eases you back down over safe and dry land. Even helping you swab your pants clean on the places the sand had stuck from the little tussle you'd put up as he carried you. “So..." You cut the silence whilst he's still wiping over your calf. It’s not a question yet, but your phrasing is already speculative in a way. "Have you decided whats for me to do yet?” “Hmm…” He takes a moment to ponder, “There's something..." He grants as he resumes his walking by the sea. You follow beside him, just as nervous as you are curious to find out what the words coming out of his mouth next are going to be. "I just don’t know if it counts.” “Well, it was me who said anything, so…” Your shoulders jerk winsomely. “shoot your shot.” Y/N watches as Harry’s lips part, figuring he’s about to request something, but his mouth remains quiet, apart from the tongue that pokes out some to spruce his lips, that had gone a bit dry from the cold. Before you know it he's reaching out for your hand and bringing you to an halt. "What was that for?" You ask, but no further words follow your question. It's just Harry's index that comes to cradle your face, dragging a slow shape over your cheek as he stares deep into your eyes, then your lips, then your eyes again. The tips of your noses press together instinctively, halting for a moment
before Harry finally dares to pump the question. “I want for you to kiss me, is that alright?” Oh. “Yes," You say a bit weakly. "yes, I want to kiss you.” Untamed locks of hair feel feathery against your skin when the sea breeze envelops your bodies for the millionth time that day, only this time when you breath in, Harry’s scent overpowers the unmistakable saltwater one. It’s evocative and musky, yet subtly sweet like vanilla… and your mouth is hoggish for a taste. “Then you better start being nice to me.” Harry larks, pressing a soft kiss on the tip of your nose before he takes off running, leaving you standing perplexed facing the sea. He laughs when he looks back at you, noticing the slight outraged pout on your lips. “Come on, don’t give me that face." He takes his hand to his chest dramatically. "It’s breaking my heart.” “You’re evil.” You establish, advancing afoot alongside the coast and walking past Harry without sparing him any more of your attention. You’re not really upset since you know he’s just teasing as revenge, but being deprived of something you want after it being just a breath away always sucks… And the feeling’s even worse when it’s Harry’s kisses, apparently. “And you’re not?” He jogs until he is walking by your side again. “I've taken you out, offered you lunch, brought you to the beach... and yet, all you've done for me since we've gotten here is throw things and kick sand at my feet.” He contends, “You also didn’t kiss me earlier when I asked, so it’s only fair you don’t get to do it now.” "You kidnapped me." Y/N’s mouth opens vexedly. "And for the record, I didn't even want to kiss you that much... was only going to do it because you asked." She mumbles something of sorts, although in reality she’s an absolute sucker for Harry's kisses. To the point of getting annoyed at herself for not being able to control the itch she gets anytime she stares at his mouth. And she’s been staring a lot today… Anytime she does, the memories of their gone by encounters flood her brain and leave her body sizzling with yearn to feel the dampish warmth of his tongue again. She wants Harry's attention. Wants him to kiss her, hold her hand or show any type of affection that will make the annoying heart jitters go away. -- That is also why she's been nagging him with seashells and silly provocations throughout the whole day... She just wants him to do something! anything! Before she can get any more desperate though, she’s saved by the bell. -- Well, not an actual bell but Harry’s phone starts ringing in his pocket. He stares at the screen for a while, as if debating if he should take the call or not, but ultimately ends up swiping towards green and taking the device to his ear. You make yourself fall behind purposefully as he does, not wanting to seem like a busybody nor to accidentally listen to something he might rather you didn't. He’s walking in circles, punting at the sand as he talks with his eyes set on the horizon. Sometimes he'll take a peek at you as well, which for some reason is giving you a bad feeling... Not bad as if something terrible has happened, but judging by his body lenguage, he seems a bit more downcast than he did minutes ago before he took the call. And as much as Y / N doesn't want to pry, she can't stop herself from asking if something's wrong when he comes to meet her again, with both his hands hiding in his pockets and his face a bit scrunched because the wind is blowing directly in it. “No, it’s just…” He wipes the tip of his nose. “my mom’s printer broke.” He says, taking a big throaty breath before speaking again. “And now she needs me to come over and see if I can fix it...” “Oh.” Caught off guard, that’s all you muster to say. You're hoping your face doesn’t let on the fact that you're feeling fairly saddened at the news that your walk had come to a precipitant end. But luckily, Harry cuts your worries short. “You could come with me if you wanted to.” He suggests without apprehension. “I live
close by anyway, so it would only be a tick.” Y/N’s brows dip with confusion. “How close is close by?” “Roughly a 30 minute drive, I think.” His right hand shoots up, combing through his knotty hair once before being shoved back inside the sweater. “I have a heavy foot so let’s make that 25.” “Wait,” You shake your head some with bewilderment. “So you live… here?” “Hum... not here-here, but in the surrounding area, yeah.” “I don’t get it.” It’s true, you really don’t. “Why don’t you just go home every day then?” “I tried that last year, actually… but honestly, it was shit.” Harry sighs idly at the memory. “Any time I went out with my friends or to a party I ended up having to crash on some poor student’s couch because I was too fucked or too tired to drive." He pauses, taking a big breath in. "So, I figured this year it would be better to get myself a room here. That way I can go home when I want to… and even if I don’t go, I still have my own bed to sleep on. And I’m sure my parents don’t mind not listening to me practice for hours every day, -- the neighbors too.” Y/N is listening attentively; eating up every word he’s saying since he doesn’t usually tend to share much of his trials and tribulations with her. “Either way,” He simpers charmingly. “Do you want me to drive you back or are you going to come along?”
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From the moment you'd accepted Harry's invitation to accompany him on his little familiar duty, you'd been feeling a mellow squeeze in your belly. It was a curious and eager squeeze... like the one you get when your crush sends you a unexpected text or your favorite celebrity shows up on the tv show your parents are watching...
Okay, okay... perhaps there was also some, not so pleasant, nervous gut squeezing into the mixture... that prompted you to spent the whole car trip chewing on your fingers and staring out the window wondering if you'd gotten there yet. But overall, you were excited! To finally get to know such a big part of Harry's world: The place he calls home, where he's grown to became the person he is today. The first one he always comes to when he has got good news to tell... or for comfort when things go really wrong... like that time he fell in the back street's playground when he was 9 and almost scraped his chin off on the floor's tar. And to think you'll even get to meet the person who got to wipe and cleanse that wound until it healed and become the scar on his face that you love to kiss over; And all your excitement only grows twice as big as you witness Harry unlock the front door of his family's apartment unit, where you were immediately greeted by the incoming, destinctable sound of echoey scratches against slippery oaky floorings. “There he comes…” Harry announced with little enthusiasm, right as a small structure dog comes sliding down the hallway with dark thrilled rounded eyes, flappy ears and silky waves of white and brown fur that Y/N can’t wait to play with, since its expression is nothing short of melting sweet. Until he spots you standing next to Harry, that is. Then it’s teeth out, followed by a slam-bang of menacing barks and growls. “Enough of that, little pest.” Harry shakes the jumpy dog away from the door with a soft pat of his feet. “Don’t be scared…” He avows once you grab onto his upper arm and push yourself a little behind. “That’s Pepper. He's harmless... just has a thing for growling at visitors until we close the door.” Without further ado, Harry steps inside. Compelling you to follow suit although still skeptically shielding behind him. As promised, as soon as the door is pushed shut, the dog’s protesting appeases and instead of barking, he’s springing around with his tail wagging. Panting with excitement as he takes turns between leaping and scratching at its owner’s legs and ferociously sniffing your sneakers. “See, he’s just silly.” Harry comments, bending down over his knees and coddling the pet’s whole body like he’s being demanded to do by the eager little creature, that is more than happy jumping over Harry’s thighs and smooching up his whole face with dribbly dog kisses. Where does Y/N sign up to get her dog rights? “What breed is he? He’s gorgeous.” You try petting over Pepper’s back experimentally while he is still relishing on Harry’s embrace. He doesn’t seem to mind the extra attention, so you end up crouching down as well. Y/N’s stroking the fur with a little more grit now, overflowed with joy when the dog decides she’s worthy of getting slobber on her chin as well. “He’s a mutt.” Harry says. “Back at the shelter where we got him, they said his mom was one of them Spaniel breeds… ‘s why he looks like that. Not that it would’ve mattered what he looked like, he’s the cutest pup in the world.” Y/N doesn’t know how or why she musters up the courage, but she finds herself smirking and mumbling something along the lines of “The cutest pup for the cutest owner, seems fitting.” She forces her eyes to stay trailed on the dog’s soft fur afterwards, yet she can feel Harry’s attention turning to her. You sense he’s a little baffled, as if not sure he’s heard you well, but before he can say something back, his attention is pulled to the apartment’s corridor, where there are now approaching human steps and an urgent call of his name. “Harry, darling… I’m so glad you’re here. That stupid shit printer- Oh!” The person covers her mouth with surprise. “You brought a friend!” “Hi mom.” He greets jovially before he moves to introduce the two strangers in the room. - “This is Y/N… Y/N, this is mom.” Harry’s mom was beautiful. Too beautiful for a mom, even... whatever that means. She had a great smile, radiant skin and a pair of astonishingly blue eyes Y/N’s finding hard
not to glare at. She’s definitely a cool mom too, Y/N guesses. At least judging by her red suede jacket, her choice of earrings for the day and the sparkly nail polish she has on. “Hello darling. How are you?” She comes to greet you with a kiss in each cheek. Her skin is little crimson and damp around the face and neck with what you assume to be nervous sweat, and her hair’s a bit blowsy, like she’s already ran her hands through it too many times. She smells beautiful though, like classic perfume and anti-aging moisturizing cream… just like most mom’s do. “I’m sorry if I seem a little startled… I’m in a bit of a rush but can I offer you anything? A coffee? Some tea?” “Oh no, I’m okay. Thank you.” You dismiss politely, not wanting to be a bother. “Are you sure?” The woman frets. “I’ve made fresh iced tea last night. The recipe’s one from the internet that I haven’t tried yet, so I
don’t know if it’s tasty… Maybe it is best I ask Harry to try it first. -- Harry…” She tilts her body to look at her son. You guess she’s about to ask him to go fix himself a cuppa, so you claim that you’re fine once more, and that it’s really not necessary but you have a feeling she’s still not dropping the subject. “Mom… didn’t you just say you were in a rush?” Harry hurries her back to the topic of your visit before she gets any more distracted with being a good host. “I’ll accommodate Y/N afterwards, let’s just get the printer fixed first...” “Right.” Anne nodded, hurrying on her way out the entrance hall. Harry followed her, inviting you to come along with a gentle touch of his hand. “It ran out of paper as usual. I tried to fill it, but it got stuck and I was too scared to pull on the sheets… so I started clicking buttons, hoping there was one that would make it… expel.” The woman explained, emphasizing that last word by pushing her hands out and extending her fingers repeatedly. You smiled a bit at the gesture, recognizing that Harry’s proneness to talk with his hands a lot probably came from his mom. - “I managed to get the papers sorted out, but now I can’t get it to print. I think I broke it, Harry… I think I broke it for good.” Harry’s lips form a sneery smile at his mom’s disclosure before he speaks.“Mom, as I’ve told you hundreds and hundreds of times before...” He sighs with facetious exasperation, placing both his hands on his mom’s shoulders and giving them a reassuring shake. “You don’t just break electronics by pressing buttons. You’ve probably misconfigured it or something.” “Does that mean you can fix it?” “It means I can try.”
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Harry ends up fixing the printer rather quickly. Because it turned out that the issue was one he had already fixed a couple of times before. You'd heard him explain it to his mom briefly... that there was some sort of communication glitch between the printer and the computer, after the paper jam occured, or something about a pre-programmed response from the computer to protect printer... Y/N wasn't listening that well... But either way, all he had to do to fix it was restart the printer and the computer; -- whilst his mom looked at him in awe, before she was peppering him with kisses and praises like she truly believed her son to be the next Steve Jobs on the rise. He also made sure to double-check the tray. Which was a smart move because it turns out his mom had over-filled it. What would ultimately result in another paper-jam, had he not sectioned and squared off the stack of sheets properly before putting them back. He'd only knitted his brows and glared a at his mom a little over the acident. "Really, mom?" He'd baited jokingly. "What?" She'd replied abashedly. "You know I don't do well with technology." Harry had only shaken his head before he took it upon himself to print the document for her. You figured he'd decided to save her the embarassement and spare the witty comebacks for later, when you weren't there to hear them. Which was sweet of him, Y/N thought. But not nearly as sweet as when he'd covertly squeezed Y/N's hand under the home office's desk after he was done and asked if she wanted for him to go fix her anything. She'd obviously dismissed him just like she'd done to his mom earlier, but Harry ended up dragging her into the kitchen anyway. Claiming that, since Anne worked as a Food Lawyer, it was best for them to leave her to sort out her papers by herself because there might be some super confidential information in them regarding some Golden Hills well-known restaurants. -- And if Y/N happened to get her eyes upon it, would leave them no other choice but to polish her off the face of the earth. Their kitchen was enviably cute. Long and narrow, decorated with glass mosaic in a selection of beachy and green tones that fit in with the slate blue cabinets just right. The countertops were built in a rosy shade of wood, and so were the table and the kitchen chairs, although the seats are covered with mossy green cushions. It brought out the green in the tiles and the kitchen rug, along with the natural freshness of the aromatic herbs displayed in cute little vases throughout the windowsill. “I like your kitchen garden.” Y/N had told Harry when she spotted it, even though she knew he was probably not the house resident she should be complimenting for it. It still didn’t stop him from flaunting about the only thing he could take credit for, labelling the vases with the plant names because he could never tell parsley from coriander and it ‘kept getting in the way of his cooking.’ They get into a bit of banter after that. With Y/N claiming she really doesn’t believe a simple herb mix up could be to blame for his culinary travesties. Harry defends himself with the promise that he’ll cook her his specialty, creamy cherry tomato pasta, sometime soon. “It will blow your mind, babe.” He bid. “You’ll be having wet dreams about it for ages.” Y/N rolls her eyes and claims she’ll pass on the chance of getting food poisoned but in reality, she knows she’ll nag him about that pasta until he makes it happen, that’s for sure. She's rather enjoying Harry's home. It's comfortable and warm, with sophisticated little touches. Like the leather puff seats in living room she desperately wants to lob her ass on, the vintage bulb chandelier hung in the dining room that Harry insists he hates because he keeps smashing his head against it anytime he vaccums the carpet, the hallway ceiling with sensor lights... and the spiced orange smell that lingers through the whole house, coming from the entrance hall, where Anne currently is fishing her car keys out of her shoulder bag. “Don’t you
dare feed that overweight creature while I'm out.” She yells back ar her son, and for a moment Y/N’s panicky mind wonders if she could be referring to her. It makes her feel self-conscious about her rumbly stomach, because she was actually quite hungry and looking forward to being offered a snack… but maybe she’ll have to wait and starve until she gets home. “Hey!” Harry’s face turns into a soft pout. “She’s not overweight… just a little chunky.” Y/N’s looking down at herself. She's guessing she might have put on a bit of weight ever since she moved away from home, but it’s still a bit mean to call her chunky, she thinks. Harry peeks his head out of the kitchen, noticing his mom’s still standing by the front door. “Can I give her lettuce?” His face is mischievous as he turns to you for a moment. “That’s healthy right? Just a healthy little snack.” Y/N’s about to ask if she’s allowed olive oil with it, when she hears a squeaky noise coming from behind her. She turns, noticing there’s a 3 piece aquarium over the counter. Partly hidden by the microwave, hence the reason she's only noticing it now. Inside of it, lounging under a plastic palm tree was probably the biggest pet turtle Y/N’s ever seen. Big like you would need to use both your hands to hold her... and proper chubby too as well. “You’re going to spoil her rotten.” Harry’s mom concludes with a sigh, before she’s saying her folksy farewells. She tells Y/N that she’s welcomed to visit anytime she feels like it, and also that she should feel free to slap Harry’s hand if she sees him reach for the sun-dried shrimp treats for Matilda, the turtle. Harry grumbles that he wasn’t going to, but you have a feeling that’s exactly what he would’ve done if it wasn’t for his mom’s tip-off. Once the front door clinks shut you’re already standing by the tank, while Harry has moved to the fridge. You’re zestfully staring at the sizable pet, -- that had just become uneasy from the moment she spotted movement close to her blue plastic tank. -- as Harry looked through the vegetable’s drawer until he found what he was looking for. You silently appreciated how he was careful to rinse the lettuce before feeding it to his pet. He tore the leaf in two. Passing one half to you and keeping the other for himself. – “Don’t freak out if she tries to bite you. She’s a bad-tempered little creature. It won’t hurt. -- Feels just like a clothes peg… I would know. I’m her favorite chewing toy.” “How wonderful.” You chime comically, making Harry chuckle as he dips his hand inside Matilda’s tank and attempts to go for a paw pet, acting completely unphased once the turtle launched its head forward and hungrily nipped at the tip of his finger. You carried on talking and feeding Matilda lettuce anytime she came swimming towards you with her sharp little claws, splashing water and scratching the walls like she was trying to climb out. Sometimes you would tear apart small pieces and drop them in the water for her to fetch, other times you’d shove your hand inside so that she would come nibble directly on the crunchy parts of the leaf. As it couldn’t not be, the feeding session ended up turning into a bit of a friendly combat, with you and Harry chafing each other’s hand away to get Matilda’s attention back on your side, whenever she started munching on the others’ lettuce. Something that quickly escalated to playful side shoves and poking at each other’s ribs until you were nothing but a mess of giggles. At one point your gaze flickers to Harry’s face, who’s profile looks impossibly lovelier in this light, right as casually runs his tongue over his lips. Leaving behind a thin layer of saliva that makes them look puffy… and kissable… And fetching to the point that you only realize you've been staring for way too long when he asks you something. Your eyes dart away sheepishly as you fix your hair behind your ear. “What was that?” You ask without looking, which is something you only tend to do when you’re feeling particularly shy or embarrassed. Once you finally do
look, there is a pleased look on the boy’s face that’s making you wonder if he’s caught onto that already. “I was asking if you want to try mom’s iced tea.” “Oh no, I’m okay. Don’t bother.” With most of his frame already hidden behind the fridge door, Harry squints his eyes at you, askance of the overly-polite response you’d given him. - “I’ll have some if you do.” You reformulated, realizing he was waiting for you to cut the crap and give him a sincere answer. You watched as his gaze honed back inside of the fridge, making a quick scan through the shelves. “What should we have with it? What are you in the mood to eat?” He queried, picking up the glass pitcher from the fridge’s bottle holder and placing it over the counter. “Just whatever you feel like having.” You answered coyly, feeling your shoulders shrink slightly inward with senseless timidity. Harry snorted at your shyness, shaking his head as he reached for two matching tall glasses from the top cabinet and placed them next to the pitcher. - “Do you like mug cakes? I haven’t had one in a while and I’m sort of craving something warm and sweet.” “Yes, I would love a mug cake right now.” You simpered with maybe a little too much excitement. - “I mean… if that’s okay with you.” “Why wouldn’t it be okay if I’m the one suggesting it?” Harry mocked your choice of words, before he moved to set the table. You tried offering your help, but he declined it in favor of inviting you to sit down, once he noticed you were still leaning against the kitchen’s windowsill, right by Matilda’s tank. You comply without fuss, guessing you would probably end up being more of a nuisance anyway for not knowing where anything is. Despite knowing your chances of being in this kitchen again are slim, you’re making mental notes on the places of things. She likes being here, Y/N decides. And not just because the apartment is cozy and homey, Harry’s mom is nice, and she happens to really like the citrus smell of their fragrance sticks... No. It’s because she likes to be in this, more personal, space of Harry’s life. It’s a place she would never imagine she’d be, if she’s honest. After all, not many weeks ago, she really did believe Harry was nothing short of her nemesis, that had been put into her life solely for character-building purposes… And now she’s sitting in his kitchen, watching him pick up a pair of cute, illustrated mugs from the dish rack just so that they can make microwave cakes together. Life’s bloody wicked isn’t it? “What do you want in yours?” Harry asks, pulling your wondering mind back to the present. - “I like mine with peanut butter and chocolate chip, but you’ve got plenty other options. There’s vanilla… chocolate… cinnamon… apples… bananas… oranges…” “Peanut butter and chocolate chips sounds great, actually.” You could kiss him right now he looks bloody cute; peeking back at you with that sheepish naughty smile of someone who has got a sweet tooth and is hoping you are on the same wavelength as them to ask “Do you want whipped cream and sprinkles on top?” Y/N's fucked for him. She's absolutely, utterly fucked.
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There are two types of university students. There are the ones like Ameena. Who pack boxes and boxes of familiar goods from their homes to decorate their school rooms, transforming them in a mini, self-contained apartments because they find comfort in having stenciled stars on their walls, the teddy bear they’ve had around since they were a child perched on their bed, and that crumbling desk lamp they always depend on to get their homework in day. And then there’s ones like Y/N and Harry. Who keep around just the necessary and treat their school rooms as a mere sleeping space, frame working their safe haven on the things they can carry with them everywhere… Like their favorite pair of socks, a holey band t-shirt they only got because it called their name at a vintage store or a pack of sugar free gum of their favorite flavor… It still doesn’t mean Y/N doesn't need her home room to be a cool and comfy place, with feel-good comforters she can spread her whole body over, pictures of her closest friends, cheap fairy lights, home printed artworks and magazine collages... That to say that maybe that's the reason why she's not surprised to find Harry’s home room to be way cushier and more intimate than the frat house one... And a perfect reflection of his personality as well. With simple dark colors and features, a tall shelving unit around the headboard, that’s filled with ghosts of his childhood and earlier teen days. Lego constructions, a 7th grade zoo fieldtrip picture, school championship medals, an empty liquor bottle collection that Y/N can’t help making fun of by saying “Wow, aren’t you just the coolest guy ever...” “Oi, shut up.” He’d grumbled, sheepishly scraping at the edge of one the sneakers brand stickers stuck to the top of his desk while you walked around observing the soft rock band posters glue taped to the single room’s dark blue feature wall. There's a couple of other items that peek your interest: a skateboard Harry admits he’s never learned how to ride, a red electric guitar and its amplifier, a box set of the lord of the rings books, a not so recent stereo system and many, many records. “How do have so many records?” You ask amusedly. “They’re really cool. I never see these bands in stores anymore... and if I do it's always their 'best of' collections.” “That Eagles one you’re holding I bought, actually. -- but most of those were stolen from my dad.” Harry replies proudly from where he is sitting on his bed, scratching absentmindedly at his tights as he watches you flip through his stack of CDs. – “Some are a bit scratched, but I still listen to them anyway.” You hum insightfully. “And what are these blank ones?” You inquire, picking up one of the few with a clear case and shimmering it at him. “Did you steal dad’s porn films as well?” “God, no!” Harry chuckles aloud at your jesting. “Those,” He coughs out a laugh. “are compilations I make of songs I like. -- the track list’s on the back if you’re interested.” He bends his body forward and cracks his knuckles, flexing and unflexing them as he watches you nimbly spin the record case around to check. “Feel free to put any of them on if you’d like...” "This one seems nice." You decide following a brief analysis of a couple of compilation track lists. “I never would have taken you as a Bruce Springsteen fan, but…” You are already removing the CD from the case and setting it on the stereo player. Essentially taking stabs in the dark trying to figure out how to make the amp work without asking for Harry's help. “Oh god, -- Not that one.” He moans, burying his hands in his face and curling up forward like you’ve just told him you’re about to make him listen to Baby Shark on loop for 3 hours. “What? These are nice songs.” You frown offendedly as you plop down on the bed beside him. “Have you grown sick of them, is that it?” You ask as the melody of a Lou Reed song starts playing lowly from the old shelf speakers. "No, it’s not that…” The boy shakes his head with a nervous smile and crosses his legs over the
bedding.“‘s just…” He shifts a little, pressing the side of his body closer to yours. “out of all those damn records, you’ve picked my silly love songs playlist,” Harry sighs some before looking down at his own lap. He’s biting at his underlip, like there’s something playing at the tip of his tongue that he wants to say but isn’t sure if it’s wise to. “… it's the songs that make me think of you.” His shoulders slump like he’s relieved, and completely unaware of the way adrenaline is now buzzing through Y/N’s veins. “Harry…” The girl gasps from shock. “you can’t just say things like that." "Why?" He plain and simply asks. "Because you… this… it’s a bit…” You sough weakly. “You're making it worse. You saying those things is going to make all the other things... worse.” Harry seems hesitant in speaking for a moment, but he takes a big breath through his nose and forces himself to untie the knot that has formed in his throat. “What kinds of things?” Your eyes fly up to meet his briefly before returning to your cuticle, that you have been harshly pushing back as you contemplate your alternatives. You are plenty certain your body is physically shaking like a pressure cooker about to burst. -- With dangerous heatwaves crawling up your blood vessels, threatening to blaze your confused brain into a pile of ashes and making your mind feel dreamlike, like walking a fine line between reality and all your envisionments of what this conversation could have gone like. It's not as humiliating or perfect as you imagined it would be, but it's freeing in a way, if you look past the tightness in your stomach and the fact that you have absolutely no idea of ​​where you're getting with your words when you put forth something like "I like you, Harry." You say it as an apology, like your feelings are something worth feeling guilty about. "I like you more than just the things we do sometimes." There’s a pause. A long pause where Harry’s face remains nestled in the crook of his elbow, that’s perched over his knee. He looks placid, but mindful. Y/N doesn’t know what to make of it, so she just sits there feeling her chest inflate further and further with tremulousness. And when Harry talks again his voice comes out scratchy. “I like you too, Y/N.” You tilt your head slightly away from him, in a silly attempt to hide your face for when that inevitable “but” follows his stance. You wonder which one it’s going to be… “but this is just sex”; “but only as a friend” or the good ol’ classic “but I’m not looking for a relationship right now” -- only it never comes. Instead, he smiles at you. “I figured it was obvious…” “Really? You- you like me?” “Uh, yeah? of course I like you.” The smile on his face stretches wider, despite the way his eyebrows furrow tauntingly at the questioning. “What? you thought I showed everyone my fat turtle and my lego collection? This is priceless shit.” You're staring at him not knowing what to say, with a heart that’s beating heavy and full in the best way. -- like it’s about to burst inside your chest into a million little fireflies. With the way his expectant eyes are lingering on your face, you’re guessing he’s out of words too. Good thing your brain is done with thinking... and sick and tired of wasting time trying to figure out what the right thing to do is. Recklessly, you lean over, reaching for the collar of Harry’s sweater and tugging him to clash against your mouth. He hums some at the deed, sliding his arms around your waist and bringing you to his chest as your lips smooth unanimously. Although a bit chapped from the beach air, they stick together easily just like they always do. Harry’s cradling your face, while you are still very much twisting harshly at the fabric of his collar beyond your knowledge until one of his hands flies to nab at his throat. “Christ love,” He coughs a laugh, “I’m not usually one to turn down a bit of intense choking, but I’m about to pass out if you don’t give me a second to breathe.” “Sorry," You draw back a little shamefaced. "guess I
didn't realize I was murdering you.” Despite the full-blooded cheeks, Harry's eyes are lit and sparkling with desire as he holds on to your hip and adjusts himself. "It's alright... Guess I always knew you would try to rip me to pieces one day. -- Now come here, on my lap." He pats his thigh for you to come sit in it, and in a heartbeat, you’re slinging your leg over and plopping your bum in his lap, facing him. “Maybe I could kiss it better. -- would that be good?” He spurts out a perky hum so you tilt your head down, like you’re about to tell him a secret, only instead you comb the pecan colored locks away from the side of his neck and push your mouth against the skin that’s as remarkably warm and soft as you remembered. Some spots are still branded plum from a couple of days ago, so you make sure to be gentle with it… placing little sucks and kisses over the fragrant skin until his lips part in delight. “Would it be okay if I took your shirt off?” You ask a bit reluctantly. With a soft nod, Harry’s hands dive under the hem of his sweater, smiling boyishly as he pulls it up and over his head along with the t-shirt, he was also wearing underneath. He throws the conjunct of shirts to the side, carelessly. “Can I get yours as well?” His request comes soon, preventing you from taking in his body and the tattoos adorning it like you wanted to. Your chest stretches wide as you work on pulling your own tops off. Harry helps you, dragging them upwards by sliding his hands alongside your frame. Without thinking, your fingers jump back to unclip your bra, quickly sliding it off your shoulders and tossing it to the floor. Your eyebrows furrow questioningly once you notice Harry’s eyes are wide with surprise. “What? did you want me to leave it on or something?” But then it hits you. -- it’s his first time seeing your chest bare like this. The other times you’d been together the sex had always been rushed and needy, so much that you’d never seen each other properly naked. Sure, you’d seen each other’s parts and crammed your hands underneath each other’s shirts to cop a feel… But it was different this time. You aren’t half-drunk, drowsy or hurrying because someone might show up and spoil it. You're doing it because you like Harry. Because he makes you feel all these sorts of things you thought he could never. -- He cues you into feeling esteemed, and appreciated, and powerful... while simultaneously making you all tender and needy with his kisses and silly love songs. And you treasure him. So much that you wish your body was made of plasticine, just so it would bend and mold and stretch into a giant shield to protect him from anything that could ever hurt. Because that's how his arms always make you feel. Safe and cherished like you're inside of a formless cocoon that smells nice, feels nice, and looks at you with pretty green eyes. But as much as you were enjoying watching Harry’s cheeks flush as he drank your naked body in, it was making you feel slightly insecure about... well, everything? It prompts you to, not so covertly, wrap your hands around your breasts. “Why are you covering yourself?” Harry asks, adoringly reaching for your hands to tweak them away. He kept your fingers locked, as he took you in. Sighing happily with an awestruck smile as his gaze flickered between your breasts, seemingly completely blown away by what was being presented to him. “Because you’re staring.” You slump your shoulders slightly. “And I don’t want you seeing my flaws…” Harry’s face pinches. “What flaws? -- there are no flaws…” “Yes there are!” You fret, pulling your hands from his hold to try wrapping them around your body, but Harry grabs your wrists before you can. “And on top of that, I woke up bloated today… and it’s only gotten worse throughout the day…” Harry's hands leave yours, coming to cup your face instead as he looks deep into your eyes. -- It makes you dizzy. “You’re gorgeous." He says it like he means it. . “Literally
fuckin’ stunning Y/N. Please never hide your body from me. Because I love it... and my prick sure loves it as well…” He chuckled whilst looking down to his lap, where some swelling was already going under his undies although none you had fully stripped yet. - “And the thing is… that’s not even a relevant part in everything makes me crazy about you.” You huff, dropping your head over his shoulder. “Such a sweet talker when you’re trying to get your dick wet, aren’t you?” “Hey!” He blows, pouting a little. “Knock off painting me like dick while I’m having my moment of weakness and getting all sentimental... ‘s real mean.” His hand reaches for your forehead, just so that he can swipe away a loose strand of hair. “And it's not like I don't have a bit of a pouch going on myself, -- see?” He said, relaxing his abdominal muscles completely. You had a feeling he was forcefully pushing his belly out a bit just to ease your nerves, but you let it slide in order to poke playfully at it with your finger. - “Been having too much of that Irish beer I reckon… and chocolate stuffed croissants…” “No! none of that.” You coo, pushing forward and wrapping your arms around his cushy shoulders. - “It’s perfect, -- you’re perfect...” With your cheek pressed against Harry’s collar, you resume to pressing sticky kisses alongside his neck and cheeks. - “and I love chocolate stuffed croissants.” “Hmm… do you?” He lets his eyes flutter shut for a moment, basking on the the kisses you're giving him, and the feeling of having your bare, fleshy chest nuzzled against his. “Mm Mm..." You place a kiss on the tip of his nose, and he gives you one back. "and strawberry jam ones too, but… I know you’re only saying that to make me feel pretty.” “Because you are pretty." Harry insists. "The prettiest. -- I love your eyes," He smears his mouth on yours, pressing soft pecks on your face as he speaks. "and your nose, and your lips, and your neck..." He stops and stares, literally. "and these beauties.” You're not attempting to cover them this time, instead you let out a layed off sigh and stare down at yourself. “Do you like them?” “Do I like them?" His eyes dart up at your face for a moment and he smiles, with one of those 'I would eat you whole if I could' smiles. "I was trying not to be lewd but -- fuck, pet... they're perfect." He takes them in again, and although Y/N is not presumptuous, she's assuming by the way he's raving on the sight, that he wants to touch them. "You can play with them if you'd like." She says it because shes dying for' him to touch them too, but doesn't want to act all brash by randomnly pulling his hands to clasp against her boobs. You'd assumed he would go for a small squeeze at first... or hell, even a big squeeze with both his hands kneading at the flesh, but he doesn't. Instead he lunges forward, swiping his tongue over your nipples before he's sucking them off and on in his mouth. He's being proper filthy with it too -- with noisy and sloberry sucks until he feels them stiff against his tongue. "These perfect tits" Harry growls, clearing the dryness in his throat before speaking again. “Just wanna hold ‘em, and squeeze ‘em, and bite 'em...” He does it then; drags one of your nipples between his teeth and gives it a bite that has you spasming in pleasure and good pain. He suckles the soreness numb then, and blows cold air over it as he draws away. "That wasn't too much, was it?" You don't answer to his question, instead you push his torso down on the matress, leaning along with it so that you can taste his lips again. Your mouth starts venturing down his body, smooching his neck, his chest... And you take time to play with his nipples too. Which is something you've always enjoyed doing... yet unfortunantly guys never seemed to care for it, so you usually always ended up giving up in favor of putting your mouth around something you knew would leave them all whiny for you instead... But something tells you Harry does like it. So you push
your mouth on them, swirling your tongue around the flushed bumps and even sinking your teeth into them softly
just like he did to you. And fuck... he moans! They're low and soft moans but they're there. And they're still there while you're kissing down his tummy, and his hips, and following down his happy trail until your underlip's brushing against the rough fabric of his jeans. “Can I take these off of you?” Y/N asks as she begins to undo the button and zipper, Harry shakes his head affirmatively, so you grab tightly onto the bands and give them a testy tug down. He releases a breathy grunt at the push. “It’s alright, I got it.” The boy asserts as he takes the matter onto his own hands to make short work of the task. "Your boxers too." You command, once you notice he was planning to leave them on. Harry’s face inevitably heats when being asked such a blunt request, but he nods and pulls them down anyway.
His prick plops down into thin air, just as pretty and empowered as you'd last seen him. "You're too pretty." You flatter. You start by using your hand first, slipping your fingers around it and slowly pumping the skin up and down. He's big and wide and rosy at the tip, where it's glossy and leaky. Even his balls look great from this angle -- nice and full and immediately your mouth starts watering at the thought of emptying them... but you force yourself to swollow down your arousal as you lower your body on him, until you're nice and settled between his spreaded thighs. "Have you noticed," Harry's gruffy voice breaks your attention, who was still focused on how lovely looking and responsive his prick was. "how small your hand looks when it's on me?" "I have, actually." You chuckle at him, as you wrap your other hand around him, gliding both throughout his lenght simultaneously. It makes his chest quiver. "Does that turn you on?" "Mm Mm, yeah... a bit." "Don't need to be shy about it, baby." You tease, climbing a little closer up the sheets. "Do you also like the way it looks when it's in my mouth?" "I- uh... yeah." He clears his throat falteringly. "'s what I think about most when I, when I'm sorting myself out, actually." He rakes his hair back sloppily, with his eyes still trailed on what you're doing to him. "You look awful cute while you're doing it too, so... that helps." Y/N can't take this anymore. She can't take another second of having this gorgeous boy acting all cute and shy and whimpery while his cock pulsates and spurts into her hands without wrapping her lips around him. So she leans forward, coats the tip of his dick into her mouth and gives it a kind suck. Harry's mouth is hung open as he watches you, pretty moans bubbling in his and your chest as well once you start scouring your tongue and slurping around the whole expand of his skin until he's dripping from arousal. Harry's hand jumps to your hair, desperate to get some more of your syrupy mouth bobbing up and down on him like last time... So you give it to him. Stuff as much as you can of him into your mouth and push him down your throat, squeezing your eyes shut as you rejoice on the feeling of fullness he gives you. And his taste. He tastes good... good and familiar... And it's making you beat yourself up for not having drop your head on him down and dirty on Halloween night after noticing he'd gotten hard just from making out with you over the console. You're determined to make up for it now though... By fondling the skin of his thighs and belly as you sink your head farther and harder... and still suckling on his tip even when you need to come up for a breath... making sure he gets to see how bloody greedy you are for the savoriness of his essence... and how willing you are to lick it all up just so no drop goes to waste. Harry's breathing is heavy, scattered with wet crackles as he looks down at you. "Are you..." He probes, while your mouth is still moving around him. "moaning?" His eyebrows remain furrowed in pleasure as he lifts up over his elbows to check on you. "Is that you making these pretty noises? Are you moaning around my cock?" A fluttery soud echoes inside the room as you pull him out. "No..." "Yes you are." Harry chuckles at your shy demeanor. "Bet you're making a right mess inside your panties, aren't you baby?" "I can't help it..." You admit coyly, feeling a little bashful over the question. "It's your fault." "Is it?" He tuts his tongue, flashing you a jolly smile before he's putting back a little on the bed and sitting up. "It's only fair I get to take care of it then, innit?" You put up a bit of a pouty hassle, saying that you weren't quite done with him yet, but it's pointless. He's already making his way around your body and switching your positions, so you figure you might as well let him have his way with you... since he's already snagging the rest of your clothes off. You've always love Harry's laugh. But there's something special about it in moments like these, when
you're watching him struggle to pull off your sneakers and your tight elastic pants. -- moments when he's naked, and his face looks a bit flustered as sweet and warm sounding playful cackles erupt from the bottom of his chest. But then his eyes dart up to yours, greenish and luscious with arousal, as he sets himself in between your legs. You squirm. Tensing immediately at the feeling of his lips venturing down towards your pineapple printed, in more than one way, hipster, panties. “If I remember correctly, I owe you two orgasms from last time, right?” He questions. Your mouth opened with a surprised ‘Oh’, as you tried squirming a little upwards in order lift up in your elbows, eager on asserting that you weren’t holding him accountable over such a silly promise. He paid your rumbling no mind, giving both your knees a sharp tug, that put you back into a laid down in position in no time. “So now I’m thinking we should just get one of them out of the way...” He says, with tempting glossy eyes and the ghost of a smile still pushing the corner of his mouth upwards due to the squeal that escaped yours at the sudden yank he’d given your body. Or was it more of a moan? It surely made your whole-body tingle with arousal. “I didn’t know we were keeping track…” “We're not. -- I just want to give you a good time.” He said, dipping his fingers under the waistband of your underwear, and you waste no time in lifting your bum to help him on working the fabric down your legs, once they’re out, he tosses them to the floor and wraps his hands around your thighs. You felt a part of the heat rush back to your cheeks once you heard him moan out a soft ‘Fuck…’ as he caressed up and down your legs with his eyes locked on your center, before they lifted right up to meet your curious ones. “Swear I could cum just from looking at this pussy...” He spoke, thumbs carefully spreading you open, revealing the spot where you were warmest and dampest for him. “but I’m too greedy not to have a taste, so...” “Lucky me…” Your words were but a gasp as you let your body fall back over the sheets at the feeling of the boy’s tongue slowly lapping between your lips for the first time that day. Right of the bat, the feeling’s already too much to handle, making you unintentionally slither up the bed to avoid pushing your legs together. “Are you ever going to learn how to be good and stay still or am I going to have to tie you to the bed next time?” Harry menaces jokingly, giving your knees another tug and tightening the grip of his arms around your legs to keep you in place. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to...” You apologize, spreading your thighs open at the feeling of a palm pushing against the inner part of one. “But just to put it out there... I don’t know if you were kidding or not about the tying thing but, if that’s something you’re into, I’m down to try it sometime...” His face sparks up with astonishment. “Quite forward aren’t you?” Your eyes avert away as his eyebrows jump up teasingly. It’s more for show really… because you’re not ashamed of it whatsoever. You know Harry gets off on your wants, and you’re more than happy planting lustful seeds into his brain for later. “I want to try loads of things with you; that being one of them..." He acknowleges, smiling. "but let’s focus on what my tongue’s doing for now, yeah?” Without further ado, he dives back to work, licking up into you with broad and slow strokes of his tongue. You’re still squirming a little, letting out soft whines and feeling your hips jump lightly with each heated swipe he gave against your sensitive bud... but it’s not long until your body begins relaxing into the intensity of pleasure you are being gifted. One of your hands, that had been gripping tightly at the sheets, comes up to nestle Harry’s silky hair, that he hadn’t bothered to tie, away from his face. "Is it good? Do you like the way it tastes?" His wild eyes jump up at your question. "Love it." He says amidst a soft slurp, before he pulls away to answer. "Always gets me hard thinking about it
too... having you all soaked and spread for me to clean with my tongue." You fell captivated by the way the dim afternoon light embraced his features, accentuating the sharp lines of his face; his eyebrows, his cheekbones, and his jaw -- open wide as his smooth tongue delved inside of you. You could catch onto glimpses of its pinkness with each passionate tilt of his head. He looked absolutely delighted by the way you tasted; His eyes were pressed shut as he held onto your thighs, running his fingers up and down soothingly over your skin from time to time, akin to the moans he occasionally let loose. The view enough to prompt that familiar fizzy feeling to start in the lowest realms of your tummy. “Fuck, Harry… You look so pretty in between my legs...” The words escaped you before you could stop yourself from saying them. His eyes dart up at you again. “You think I’m pretty?” Deep blueish green and so bright with arousal that you could feel them lighting sparks all over your body. “You’re so pretty…” You reutter, giving into stroking his ego once more. “and so good…” “Yeah? You like good boys?” “Mm Mm, you’re such a good boy… with such a filthy mouth…” "Yeah?" He was giving you a proper show, spitting right over your clit spreading the wetness around the with the tip of his tongue in languid circles.“But you like my filthy mouth, don’t you baby?” He asked, leaning closer and giving the swollen and pulsating bud and a gentle suck that had you curling your toes and pushing yourself upwards in his mouth. “Fuck… I- yes, yes. I love it…” Y/N whimpers; body hot and trembling as the boy carries on suckling at the bud with his eyes locked into hers. There was nothing you could do but lay there moaning, tugging mercilessly at Harry’s hair with shaky fingers and taking whatever he gave you; whether it was quick and precise flicks of his tongue or long, harsh sucks to your clit that had your eyeballs rolling towards the back of your head.“Eyes on me,” He demands at the realization that you had let them fall shut. “I want you to watch just how fucking filthy it can be…” Watching was overwhelming. It was the way his mouth was dripping with your essence as he stared back at you with that blatant cocky beam in his eyes of someone who simply knows they are giving it to you good. Just another reminder of why Harry, and only Harry was the subject behind your wildest fantasies… And fuck, lord knows you wouldn’t have the guts to deny that he owned you if he dared to ask who that pussy belonged to, even if you wanted to. The suction was ungraciously sloppy from the wetness that you could not only feel and hear but also smell in the air, so active that you could practically taste it in your own tongue… and Harry was groaning as he lapped at it. – soft groans against your damp flesh that were downright dirty, just like the encouraging words he murmured anytime his tongue managed to steal a good moan from you. “Need you to cum baby, -- need you to cum so that I can push my cock nice and deep inside of you... You still want that, right? Want me to fuck that pretty little cunt you until I’m all finished, don’t you?” “Yes! Fuck, Harry… -- Yes, yes… that’s all I want…” Your upcoming orgasm had your legs attempting to fall shut, but Harry’s strong hands pushed them back apart, keeping you spread to the point where it almost hurt in the places where your limbs joined, but you’d admit that if one thing, the pain was only turning you on more. “Oh my god, -- please keep going, -- please, please…” Y/N helplessly cries once Harry pushes his mouth on her harder and begins to ruthlessly tongue-fuck her softest spots; the noises are wet, -- pure gushing wet, to add to the moaning and groaning and desperate whining from Y/N as her orgasm finally begins to unravel like an explosion of colorful fireworks, She swears she can see them if she presses her eyes shut hard enough. Harry carries on licking you through it, the
strokes of his tongue knowingly growing slower and more yielding to avoid causing any uncomfortable sensitiveness. You find yourself lovingly staring and combing his hair back as he does it, until he's beaming back at you with the cutest, droopiest eyes. You let out an audible satisfied sigh then, and he decides to pull away; but not before displaying an array of kisses anywhere in between your lower stomach and your inner thighs… which you partly believe is to clean his face, but it doesn't make you appreciate the sweet gesture any less. Harry smiles widely at the adorably grouse-y “Come to me.” plead you throw at him with a pair of grabby hands. The smile never leaves his face as he wiggles his way upwards your body until you are face to face again. You hold his face with both your hands, running your thumbs across his warmed cheeks and staring straight into his eyes. "Thank you." You whisper and he nods, pushing his face down just so your lips meet in a deep urgent kiss. You hum at the taste of your own arousal that is inevitably spreading from Harry’s tongue to yours as he rocks his hips further to skim against the spot where you’re still hot and fluttery; Bringing your mind back to the heavy bulge you could feel brushing against the skin of your hip. “Do you want me to go get a condom?” You ask a little coyly, words muffling together with the way you’re humming them. "I got some the other day, and brought them just in case..." “Wait, I think…” Harry climbs a little up in the bed, tongue slightly peeking out as he reaches his arm to open the top bedside drawer. He fumbles his way around the drawer, letting out a little ‘A-ha’ once his fingers reach one of the loose wrappers cluttered in the back. He picks it out and pushes the drawer back closed, drawing a fit of giggles from you once he decides to start puckering your face and neck as he shimmies his way down into position. Your heart is hammering anxiously in your chest as you watch him kneel on the bed in between your legs and tear apart the shiny wrapping with his teeth. As you lay still, with his figure hovering over you, that’s when a wave of apprehensiveness comes crashing down on you; making you feel like a bloody virgin all over again as you watch Harry blow a quick breath on the condom before moving to roll it over his member. “Y/N?” His face glimmers at your fixed staring. “You’re still with me?” He asks with a gentle stroke to your knee. "You can tell me if you want to stop, we don't have to-" "No." You push yourself up into a sit up position, leaning forward and smearing your mouth sloppily on his. Your teeth clash a bit with the slope, but neither of you are bothered by it as you carry on devotedly kissing each-other like your lives depended on it. Harry’s hands snag onto your lower back to pull you closer, attaching your body to his until you are practically sitting on his lap again. It was nothing short of erotic, the way you let your head dip backwards under his touch; back arched as he hungrily rubs and sucks on both your breasts, until your hips are swaying against his lap in a silent plead for him. “You want to stay on top?” He questions once you climb impossibly closer, wrapping your arms around his neck for balance. “Trying to take care of me, is that it?” “Yes, I want to take care of you.” You reach down then, grabbing his length and positioning it at your entrance. Harry helps you some, by holding it in place as you try sinking down on him for the first time. It did not go in right away. Nor in the next couple of times you tried it. It wasn’t that surprising really. Harry was big, -- and this position was definitely not the most ideal for unfurling, but you wanted to be the one taking care of him, not only that but you knew this would make it extra nice and tight for him, and for reasons best known to you, you wanted to make an impression. “Do you want me to help?” He asks deliberately, noticing your struggle. “No. I can do it myself.” You stated obstinately, tone growing a little sour from exasperation
as you carried on trying. You swore could cry angry tears if you granted yourself the chance to, but before you could, Harry was flipping you back down onto the mattress. Leaving you completely boggled, staring back at him with awkwardly bent limbs and a disgracefully pliable and pumping cunt. “Always a stubborn little thing, aren’t you?” He teases as he crawls steadily on top of you. “We’d be here all night if I’d let you have things your way…” The boy quips knowingly, clamping his hands on your wrists and pining them right over your head. “And I would. I really would…" He brings one of his hands to his mouth, shamelessly spitting over his palm before he grips it down on himself. He moans as he slides his hand up and down his cock, mouthwateringly hard and dripping with precum. "but I have an aching prick baby... and it really, really can’t wait any longer.” Your body is fighting beneath his, jerking upwards in the sheets in supplication for him to just push it inside you instead. You’re being persuasive, but he doesn’t bend to your pleading right away. He seems amused though, with the way his lip tilts up at the corner. “Will you let me fuck you?” His question is bold and unswerving, but the look in his face that follows it is winsome enough to give you space for reckoning. Not that you needed any, because not a second goes by before you are whimpering a batch of toothsome yeses. “Do you trust me?” He adds, looking right into your eyes. Your body stills some¸ emotions bubbling in your chest at the realization of just how much you do, and how much you do not want to be in this position with anyone but Harry ever again. It makes you wonder if he is feeling it too. The impassioned aura that was coming down over your body as you feel him aligning himself with the gap between your legs. Hot and velvety and so bloody hard. “Yes. -- Yes, I trust you…” Harry’s mouth is on yours in a short breath, as his hips gently flex forward. The syrupy kiss you were sharing inevitably cracking into groans as his member dips his way inside the warm and slick tightness of your walls. He takes his time easing himself into you, slowly drawing halfway out before he’s diving further in again, deeper and deeper with each subdued thrust. Before you know it, he’s staring at you, boyish and gratified smile adorning his features. “All set.” He hums, leaning down for a sweet little peck to the tip of your nose. “How does it feel, princess?” You cutely scrunch it up at him before returning the gesture. “Feels good, -- just a bit tight...” “But you like it, right?" He smirks boastfully in jest. "Being stuffed with me and all that...” Your brows furrow disapprovingly. “You know what I really would like?" Y/N badgers, unnable to mask the giddiness she feels once he looks at her and hums solemnly. "If you would just shut up and get with it before I cum from the anticipation alone.” With a soft cackle, Harry’s reaching down and clasping his mouth onto yours in a hasty and provoking urge. “Don’t rush it." He solicits against your lips, before his tongue finds its way into your mouth and starts circling yours gingerly, like it was sweeter than the sweetest cherry wine. "Let me enjoy this for a little while... -- I promise I’ll be giving it to you hard and fast before you even know it.” And shit, -- Y/N really couldn’t say ‘no’ to that now, could she? So she resents on accepting whatever Harry gives her... and gripping at his skin roughly as he fills her up with slow and considerate lunges for a time. Y/N doesn’t think she’s ever had sex this compelling before. And it’s not about the sex itself... It’s the unexplainable connection she feels with Harry. It makes no sense. She knows it doesn’t, but everything in her body effortlessly blooms as soon as their bodies touch. Whether it is the mere presence of his hand on the small of her back while they roam around Ikea’s small spaces, or his nails branding her skin with how hard he is squeezing her thighs open. To make things better, Harry’s
eyes remain trained on your face the whole time his tongue and lips aren’t lavishing your mouth. Your fingers are buried in the strands of his hair, tugging harder at the roots with each passing moment of slow and sensual thrusts to your soppy hole. Y/N firmly believes he likes it though, with the way he tends to pick up the rhythm and growl against the transpiring skin of her neck the more she tightens the grip of her fist. “God, baby -- you feel so good. Got such a perfect cunt…” Harry utters lowly, at a particularly pleasurable smack of his hips. “So soft and warm, -- and mine. It's all mine, isn't it? Just like my dick's all yours too.” He moans, and you can’t help but to join him as you nod your head yes. He was all that you could feel. Every wheezy breath of his; every greedy mouth collision; every scratch of your nails up and down his back and ass to pull him closer. “You're warm too… and fuck, your dick… ‘s huge.” You groan, the comment surprisingly making his cheeks glow a little pink. “But you work it so well… make it feel so good.” He's moving in and out of you with slow and deep rolls of his hips. The tip of his shaft nudging against that spot inside of you repeatedly and making your lips part in delight. “That’s all you baby… being such a good girl, taking me so well…” It’s filthy, it’s so fucking filthy with Harry pining you over the mattress; noises of skin slapping wetly mix with the ones the bed makes by rocking against the wall, causing outbursts of arousal to spread through your entire body, leaving it tingly everywhere. There’s something so utterly romantic about it though. Harry won’t take his eyes away from your face. – They’re as beautifully oceanic and evocative as ever, only now they’re glazed with a warm and watery layer of arousal, one that you pray is reserved for your eyes only. It's dangerously intimate like this. With the tips of your noses brushing together, hearts beating in a similar rushed pace and lungs partaking the same weighty breaths as both bodies move as one in the pursuit of mutual release. And yes; the fit was tight, but it came tied to a pleasure so mighty, it left no room for wondering. Harry was going to give you that second ‘o’... and you were going to leave a mess all over his bedsheets, whether the burn came to down to ease or not. “Please… don’t stop...” Your throat unwittingly buzzes. You hate how desperate you sound but you can’t stop yourself from asking for it. “I think I’m gonna cum again..." “Yeah? You wanna cum? C’mon then, cum for me…” Harry’s visibly gritting his teeth from pleasure, hips falling against yours quicker and harder, and there’s a protruding vein pumping firmly on the side of his neck. “C’mon Y/N, gimme a good one... fuckin’ ruin me…” You can tell he’s reaching the end of his rope… and luckily so are you. “I’m going to, Harry. Fuck, please -- cum in me.” You ramble into his mouth. You tried pushing your hips up to meet him halfway, but it was useless with the way Harry’s hands were keeping you steady against the mattress as he sloppily pounded into you, fast and hard like he promised he would. “Cum in me.” You begged. “Show me how much you really like my cunt…” “Fuck. – baby… I love it. I love it so much.” He practically purrs. -- Or maybe it’s the way Y/Ns body is jittering in all places under him that’s making it sound like that. Her mind feels like TV static, her heart is hammering inside her ribcage and there is a loud buzzing in her ears. Harry’s pace is strong… and messy, but fuck it feels so good! You can feel the pressure of his cock on the deepest parts of you; you can hear and feel the heavy breaths and pleasure cries he’s bearing in your ear; you can taste his skin and his sweat and his arousal like you were actually bathing in him. And once he pushes his prick inside of you fully and rolls his hips upwards to push against your sensitive spot, you're a goner. You crumble apart. -- clawing on Harry’s back and pushing your mouth against his collar in attempts to
muffle your loud moans as your tight walls clench and pulse around him. “Shit, you're squeezing me so good. -- there we go… ahh, shit... that’s it… keep coming on my cock…” He grunts against your temple as he carries on swaying his hips rashly against yours. Inevitably, your ecstatic state pushes Harry to his own orgasm as well. He groans, spurting ropes and ropes of sticky ooze inside the condom. It’s warm. So warm that you can feel it through the rubber. It makes you mewl softly into his neck. His body still rocking against your own as the last waves of pleasure erupt through your bodies, seconds before they start to feel too drowsy to move. If Heaven was real, Y/N had just found her own personal one. As Harry lets his body fall atop of yours, still inside you. His heart is beating fast, making his chest convulse a little against the sweaty skin of your belly, his hair feels messy and damp once your fingers come down to push his long curls back. Your hand finds his face, that he’d let drop in the middle of your chest, to craddle and he tilts his head up to look at you. “What?” You ask once you witness him breathe out the softest, happiest sigh you’d probably ever seen him give. “Nothing,” He says before dragging himself upwards and pushing his mouth on yours again appreciatively. He rolls over to the side, but his arms come to seek for you to come cuddle against him right away. You fall into him easily, tangling your legs together as he adjusts the covers over you. “You kept your socks on.” He comments once he feels them scrape against his legs. You pull him closer against your body, reveling on the way his undressed body fits snug on yours. "So did you." taglist: @just-vm​ @gracexelizzabeth​ @stylescayoon @happydays​ @littlesoldierelleora @duh-dobrik (i hope i didn’t forget anyone. if i did please lmk, same if you wanna be added ;D)
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idkthisisjustforfanfic · 2 hours ago
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PART 2
The first days of Harry staying at your house were overshadowed by Maeve’s 5th grade spelling bee victory. The fake gold medal was a mainstay around her neck for a new nights at the dinner table until she eventually forgot about it.
Luckily enough, neither of your daughters seemed to be thrown too off kilter by his presence. Maeve was just young enough to not know much about who Harry was or the band he’d been in--though she was ready and willing to brag about having a celebrity around.
CeCe--in true sibling rivalry fashion--decided to draw her own medal with crayons and ask you to cut it out so she could wear it around the house. If Maeve gets one, so do I.
With potholders on and the oven door open, you apologized. “I can’t right now, honey--give mommy a few minutes and I’ll help you.”
Harry materialized at the bottom of the stairs, eyebrows raised when he said: “What do you need, CeCe?”
“I have to cut this out!” She said excitedly, running over to the drawer where the scissors were kept. She whipped them out and turned around quickly, Harry’s eyes bulging out of his head when he hurried over to grab them from her.
“I’ll cut, you watch,” he laughed, exchanging a look with you when CeCe climbed up to sit at the island. She hummed in agreement, handed over the paper and watched as he lined it up to start snipping.
“CeCe,” he said her name inquisitively. “Is CeCe short for anything?”
“Cecilia Rose L/N,” she smiled. “Pretty, right?”
“Very pretty,” he smiled. “Same last name as your mum.”
The last part of his sentence was a statement, a quick glance in your direction when you turned off the oven and shouted towards the stairs. “Maeve! Dinner’s ready!”
Your call went unanswered into the big house--you had no clue where she was or if she’d heard you. When Harry finished cutting out the paper medal, he handed it to CeCe who beamed with pride and put it around her neck.
Hands on your hips, “CeCe, will you please find your sister and tell her dinner is ready?”
She took one big breath and then screamed, “MAEVE!”
Both you and Harry flinched at the noise but laughed. She held onto Harry’s arm when she hopped down from the stool, shaking her head in disappointment. “Good god that girl,” she huffed, heading to climb the stairs when she yelled again: Maeve!!!! Dinner!!!!
“She’s a handful tonight,” you said, almost feeling guilty as her footsteps stomped on the floor overhead. “Thank you for that, though,” you said, motioning to the scissors in his hand. “Want a glass of wine?”
“S’not against the rules?” He teased.
When you shot him a look, he smirked and let out a laugh. “I’ll gladly take one. It’s fine, though. She was ready to stab someone flinging the scissors around like that.”
“They just had scissor safety in art class not too long ago.” You told him, pulling the cork from an already open bottle of red. “Sometimes I think she barely listens to anyone--she just does her own thing.”
“Not the worst way to be,” he smiled, picked up the glass when you slid it over on the granite. An awkward beat when he took a sip, smiled in your direction when you did the same. You could hear Maeve and CeCe fighting upstairs, offered him another guilty smile, but then he asked: “do you plan on changing your name?”
“My last name?”
“Yeah--L/N is your married name, right?”
It felt a bit nosy, a bit intrusive for the fourth night he was sleeping under your roof. You shrugged your shoulders casually, unsure how to answer. “Just haven’t gotten to it.”
He’d been quiet so far, out most of the day once the girls were gone for school and he’d return before dinner. Kept to himself--or at least out of the way--and was always helpful when he could be. Bringing groceries in? He carried a few. Needed a hand with clearing plates after dinner? He would gladly help.
Maeve and CeCe came rushing downstairs and were more willing to do the gratitude thing than they usually were, forks in hand when Maeve turned to you. “Oh, by the way, Auntie Shelli is taking us out for dinner tomorrow night.”
“She is?” You smiled at Maeve. “I haven’t heard about that.”
“She promised last week, she said Friday.”
“Okay, well I can check with her.”
“Are you doing anything tomorrow night?” Maeve asked.
“Not a thing,” you said, shaking your head. You’d been looking forward to it all week--maybe a bath and a glass of wine, maybe even a movie if you were feeling adventurous. Zoey was typically after you to do something: dinner, come hold Benny for an hour while she took a shower. You were totally up for helping a friend, but it’d been a minute since you had some me-time and if Jeff’s mom had already offered to babysit, you weren’t going to say no.
CeCe turned to Harry excitedly. “What are you doing tomorrow night? Are you coming to dinner?”
He smiled in her direction but shook his head. “I’m actually going over to a friend’s house.”
“What friend?”
“CeCe,” you laughed, embarrassed by her prying. “He doesn’t have to run everything by you, you know.”
“I know,” she said simply as she shrugged her shoulders innocently. “Just thought maybe it was one of my friends. I don’t know if we have the same friends.”
Harry laughed at this and smiled when you rolled your eyes. “I don’t think you know her.”
You watched Harry for a second, wondered if it was a girlfriend or something of the sort--Jeff hadn’t mentioned anything like that. Why couldn’t he stay there, with that friend?
“Well you should come with us and Auntie Shelli one day,” Maeve said. “We usually get ice cream and she lets us get a bunch of toppings and she doesn’t even care if we’ve had dinner yet.”
You let out a short laugh, the details of their time with family members always slipped out when you least expected it. “He’s busy, girls, remember?”
Harry shrugged, “we could get ice cream soon.”
You looked up at him, forked into a bite of dinner and said quietly: you don’t have to.
He didn’t--Harry didn’t owe you or your daughters anything except common decency and kindness. Helping you clean up after dinner or bring in the groceries was enough of a repayment for a guest room and his own bathroom.
“Maybe next week?” He ignored your comment and smiled at the girls.
“Next week!” CeCe chirped back, brushing her hair out of her face with a grin.
You figured they’d forget--swept up by the excitement of something else by the time next week rolled around and Harry would be off the hook. You smiled in his direction, apologetically and pleading, but it wasn’t until the next night that you realized he was serious.
Jeff’s mom had picked Maeve and CeCe up, you had just poured a glass of wine and went to sit in your office to go over any unread emails when he knocked on the door.
“Hey,” he offered a smile, leaned against the wall and put his hands in his pockets.
“Hi,” you turned to see him, unsure what he wanted or why he was popping in. “What’s up?”
“Uh, just wanted to let you know that my plans fell through--so, I’m just gonna be home--here I mean.”
His correction was quick, a subtle misstep through words.
You pressed your lips into a thin line, nodded slowly as you took in the information. He’d be here--in your house and just hanging out. While you had planned for a quiet night, having one other person somewhere in the house wouldn’t kill you, right? Maybe he’d lock himself away in his room and leave you to your emails, then you’d slip upstairs and end the night with a bath before your children returned with a sugar high and stories for days.
“Okay,” you said. A pause when he nodded, looked at you and then down to the floor.
“Do you want to have a drink?”
“I’ve got one,” you lifted your glass and then faltered. “Oh, together--sure, yeah.”
He held back a laugh, motioned for you to lead the way once you stood up from your desk. He trailed you back through the living room and into the kitchen, got himself a wine glass when you found the bottle you’d already started on the counter.
Was this weird? You couldn’t tell. The house was quiet and for a moment it felt like neither of you knew what to say when the only sound was the cork coming out of the bottle.
“I can venmo you for groceries, too, since m’drinking your wine.” He lifted it and poured, you watched the liquid rise in the glass until he looked up at you, waiting for a reply.
“No, it’s fine.”
“M’eating your food, drinking your wine, sleeping in your house,” he let out a laugh but put the stopper back in. “I feel like I could at least pay you back for some--” he looked down at the bottle and studied the label, “cabernet.”
You pulled out a barstool and sat, a sigh when you waved him off. “S’fine--I’m still making my way through the sorry your dad died and sorry your husband left you bottles.”
His lips pulled up at the side when yours did too. “Where do they make those grapes?”
“Somewhere far away from here,” you nodded, a long sip from your own glass when he moved to sit beside you.
“So how much did Jeff have to beg you to let me stay here?”
You looked over at him, hesitant to admit your own reluctance. You knew he and Jeff were close--you’d long been hearing stories about their nights out or big wins as a team. You’d even been invited to the release party for Harry’s first solo album, but you couldn’t find a babysitter and back then your ex couldn’t be bothered.
“I got a few pleading text messages after he first brought it up,” you smiled.
He laughed and nodded. “Well, it’s a big help. My house is over in Malibu but s’not ready yet--the only guestroom in Jeff’s house shares a wall with the master and something about that felt...weird.”
You narrowed your eyes at him playfully. “You didn’t want to hear Jeff and random women hooking up?”
“Not in the slightest,” he shook his head and bit back a smile. “Figured I’d stay with his parents for a bit but then Irv and Shelli told me they loved me but their rules are strict: their children, grandchildren, and your children. Those are their only guests.”
You nodded, it wasn’t news to you. “One time my dad stayed over after a party and Irv almost hit him with a golf club in the morning because he’d forgotten who was on the couch.”
“Yeah, so, sounds like a good idea that I’m here.” Quiet again when he moved the glass around, then he said: “you know, I would be happy to take them to ice cream or something one night--give you a minute to yourself.”
You smiled, the offer was sweet and apparently he had no idea that he’d just ruined your one chance this week to have that. “You really don’t have to--I’m sorry that they’re so...fascinated by you.”
“No, they’re great, very sweet. Maybe I can tag along when Jeff watches them next and learn the ropes.”
You nodded, reassured by his understanding that watching them would take skill. “There’s a lot to learn, they can be quite the handful sometimes.”
“Yeah?” he tilted his head. “Tell me more about them.”
The way he looked at you stirred a feeling in your chest that you couldn’t quite place. Maybe it was just the fact that he seemed interested enough to ask about them, he already seemed more invested than their father had been over the last year. You also would never turn down an opportunity to humble-brag about the tiny humans you'd created.
“Well, Maeve is pretty straight-edge. She’s always cared a lot about school and she likes it--which is weird, cause she didn’t get that from me and she definitely didn’t get it from my ex-husband. Like, she actually gets excited to come home and do her homework.”
He laughed, sipped from his glass and said: “Right, I’m sure she didn’t get her drive and determination from her mother who started her own successful business.”
You brushed off the compliment with a roll of your eyes and a laugh. “The weird preteen-angst thing is new, though. I have no idea if that’s because of losing my dad or losing hers,” you picked at a thread on your sleeve.
He was quiet for a moment, like he didn’t know what to say to that.
“And CeCe,” you saved him the trouble, “she’s a fireball. She is so strong-willed it actually makes me nervous about when she’s a teenager. She might actually drive to Vegas and get married or something. It’s just her world and we’re living in it.”
His dimples appeared on his cheeks when you shrugged. “Well, you’ve clearly done something right with them. Jeff's always loved being an uncle."
“I appreciate that,” you said honestly, a pause before you admitted: “My ex was never that hands on.”
“Right,” he nodded. “Is that why things ended?”
You let out a short laugh, again unsure if you were sharing too much. Would you wake up and regret the fact that you'd poured a glass of wine, and apparently your deepest secrets, all out on display?
“That, along with the fact that he was cheating on me for a good 18 months, I think.”
“Wow,” he nodded slowly, his lips pushed out in thought when he dropped your gaze. “What a dick.”
“Yeah, better I found out now than later on, I guess.”
“So that and losing your dad this year--”
“Yeah it’s been shitty,” you cut him off, another sip of your wine to avoid having to say more. He looked at your glass, now nearing empty, and reached for the bottle.
“Then you definitely deserve another one of these,” he laughed, fingers pulling the cork out again. “No wonder you got so many sympathy wine bottles.”
He poured himself another too, eventually he followed you into your dad’s old office when he asked what hid behind the mystery door on the first floor.
It was the only room you hadn’t redone yet, something about keeping his records on the book shelves and his papers on the desk felt like it kept him here. He’d chosen the green for the walls and you apologized when Harry’s eyebrows shot up at the sight.
“Great man,” you nodded, turning on a light switch, “terrible decorating taste.”
Harry nodded slowly, wine glass still in hand and a smirk fighting it’s way onto his face. “S’a bright color, yeah.”
He let out a laugh when he made eye contact with you, a disapproving look on your face when you walked over to the desk. “All these strewn about--probably some important information about you over here somewhere.”
He came over and lifted a paper. “Harry Styles is one of the most thoughtful, caring, and funny people I know.”
“Really?” You tugged at his arm to get a better view of the paper. Your dad’s handwriting was almost illegible, a date scribbled on top and another few words halfway down the small notebook page, nothing about Harry and nothing that seemed all that important.
“I hope that’s what he thought of me,” Harry smiled, his eyes flickered to where you still had a grip around his wrist. “Your nails are digging into me.”
“Sorry,” you pulled back immediately. “Sometimes I have to grab CeCe like that in the store or she runs off.”
He kept your gaze for a second, but it felt uncomfortable and made you nervous, so you cleared your throat. “Feel free to come in here and use this stuff,” you motioned over to the piano and the guitars he had in stands. “No one uses it, so--it’d be good for it to get played.”
“You don’t play anything?”
You shook your head. “No--he’d started to teach me guitar when I was young but then my mom died, just never picked it up again.”
You were thirteen when it happened, a car accident on the 405 and you didn’t go to school for weeks. Your dad had always been your main support--they divorced when you were ten--but after that you grew even closer, which is why losing him was so hard. He’d been a friend and a parent and the best grandfather who helped pick up the pieces when things with Luke started to crumble.
Harry was quiet, a simple nod when he went over to the piano and sat. You felt the need to shift the topic of conversation to something less depressing than the unfortunate events of your life.
“Are you writing a lot for the album still?”
“Yeah--we’ve got a few things written that might end up on it, but, mostly just experimenting with some new sounds.”
He pressed a chord down on the piano and looked up at you. “How do Maeve and CeCe seem to be handling it all?”
“Which part?”
“Both.”
You shrugged. “They’ve asked a lot about where their father is and why he hasn’t visited. And they understand that their grandpa is gone, but they’re sad, I think. CeCe’s had more nightmares than usual.”
He smiled a little. “And how are you doing with all of it?”
You let out a tiny laugh, mostly out of discomfort with the sudden seriousness in his voice and the way he already pulled more out of you than you’d planned. “I’m fine.”
He lifted his brows but played another progression of chords. “Wouldn’t blame you if you’re not.”
You took a sip of the cabernet and watched as he hummed along to whatever he played. When he looked up at you and waited for a reply, you smiled. “Some days I want to pull my hair out and others I need a good glass of wine. I kind of oscillate between those two lately.”
“Well, I’m always happy to split a bottle with you.”
You nodded, tried to fight the smile on your face when he laughed but then gave in. “Good.”
**
You woke up the next morning with a bit of a headache from the third and unexpected glass of wine. The girls were home by 9pm and unfortunately for you, the weekend was busy with play dates and birthday parties and grocery shopping.
Monday had you back in the office and recounting the first week to Tristan over an iced latte and a breakfast sandwich you’d grabbed after school drop off. Now it was cold and you were approaching the mid-day slump you were all too familiar with.
“I just can’t believe you’re alive still, to be honest. You know--seeing as you thought he’d be a serial killer or something.”
You looked over at him with narrowed eyes. “I didn’t think he was a serial killer.”
“Just a pedophile?”
“Alright,” you waved him off. “I can admit that it’s been fine--good, even. It’s only been a week, though.”
“Right,” he shrugged. “Halfway there. Maybe week two is when he goes crazy.”
You ignored the teasing from your friend and looked back to your computer. “Do you know if Kailee ordered the new bottles for the matcha face mask?”
“Yesterday afternoon,” he nodded. “And we also got the labels in for them as well. They ship off to the packaging plant on Tuesday.”
“Good, and numbers are up from last quarter which is really good. The meeting with the investors should go well.”
“Yeah, I mean, our entire profit has doubled since this time last year,” he smiled in your direction, a subtle reminder that the late night emails on top of the worst year ever had already proven to be worth it. “You should be very proud.”
“I am,” you admitted. “Of us. All of us.”
“Yes, what kind of boss would you be if you took all of the credit?” He teased.
“A bad one, but I’m also the type of boss that leaves at lunch time to go home and change since I have a meeting this afternoon that I forgot all about.”
He looked you up and down when you stood.
“It’s with people from Anthropologie about carrying some of our products in store--so I don’t think I can wear athleisure.”
He laughed and kept typing. “Fair enough. See you at 2pm, though, for the website meeting?”
“Yes,” you promised as you grabbed your keys. “Please don’t let the place burn down while I’m gone.”
“Might throw the match myself,” he waved you off, a laugh at his own joke when you headed for the elevator.
You were proud of the company you’d built and the office you’d been able to purchase two years back, but you were more proud of the energy that buzzed through the halls and the people who made work feel less like work and more like the adventure of a lifetime. You tried to be the cool boss who brought enough coffee for everyone, gave good time off but still expected hard work and drive to be the core of the business.
It took a while to settle into the role, though. At first you were sure you’d be seen as a spoiled rich kid who got a loan from her father to start a company--but it only took one year to repay him when you started getting placements in health food markets across LA. When Kourtney Kardashian posted something about your raspberry toner, the rest was history.
You’d always been passionate about making people feel good about themselves and focused your entire brand on building people up, not tearing them down. The world had enough of that as a mother of two daughters, you hoped it’d be something that would change that narrative, at least for them.
The drive home was quick and the sun was shining, which put a pep in your step as you hopped out of the car in the driveway and headed for the side door.
Harry’s car was still here--you’d left earlier than usual but didn’t expect him to be home. If anything, you figured he’d left shortly after you and planned on staying late in the studio. Jeff had mentioned something about laying down new tracks.
“Hello?” You called into the kitchen and looked around, he wasn’t in the living room or out by the pool. You found a laundry basket at the top of the second floor and figured that maybe someone had picked him up, but the sound of muffled singing pulled you down the hall and closer to his guest room.
The door was cracked only a bit, the sun streamed in from the windows and you could hear the running water of the shower. It was wrong, maybe, but you pushed the door open and stepped inside, smiled to yourself at the fact that he was singing a Carole King song that your dad used to play on repeat when you were a kid.
The room was clean--you hadn’t been in it since you’d pointed out the linen closet in the bathroom and showed him how to use the TV remote. His bed was made--maybe not the way you would have made it but the throw pillows were arranged in a way that showed he tried.
A buzzing on the dresser pulled your attention away from the bed. His phone, a message from someone named Bria Whitmore. Another message, then a third. You took a step closer--who on earth was texting him this much without a reply? A girlfriend? Someone he probably slept with or something of the sort.
“Hi,” his voice pulled your head around quickly and sent your heartbeat through the roof.
“Jesus, hi--sorry--I was just--”
He was in a towel, the fabric wrapped loosely around his waist and hair was slicked back from the water. You looked away from the tattoos that littered his skin and looked down at the laundry basket.
“I was just seeing if you had any laundry you needed me to do?”
It was clean, but he didn’t need to know that.
“M’good,” he smiled like he didn’t believe you. “Why are you home?”
“Had to change--forgot about a meeting,” you let out a laugh and tried to slow your pulse. “Figured the pilates mom look wasn’t the right vibe.”
He nodded, moved around you in the center of the room to pull out a t-shirt from a drawer. You saw him look down at the cell phone you’d been eyeing.
“Your phone went off,” you admitted, the laundry basket still pressed up against your hip.
“Yeah?” He smirked over his shoulder.
“I was just making sure it wasn’t an emergency--I wasn’t, like, snooping.”
A dimple appeared on his left cheek again, he tugged the fabric over his head and then shook out his hair.
“S’not an emergency,” he said. “Just a friend.”
You didn’t know if that was code. Were twenty-somethings calling their booty-calls friends now? You figured you’d ask Tristan later.
“Why are you home?” You tossed the question back at him.
“Schedule changed--went for a run after breakfast and now just, showering, y’know,” he looked down at the towel that separated you from an even more awkward moment.
“Right, sorry, I...am leaving,” you pointed to the door. “Changing, back to the office, home tonight.”
“Sounds good,” he smiled. “Figured I could make dinner, if you wanted. I make a mean chicken taco.”
You took a few steps backwards to the door. “You cook?”
“I do,” he smiled. “Hard to believe?”
“No,” you shook your head. “That would be great--if you want, but you don’t have to.”
“I’d love to,” he nodded. “I’ll see you tonight, Y/N.”
“With more clothes,” you smiled, immediately regretting the bad joke and the attention it drew to the stuffy air and the butterflies in your stomach.
“Definitely more clothes.”
You made a face at yourself once the door was shut, idiot. At least you hadn’t accidentally seen a picture of someone’s boobs. You were sure he got plenty of those.
You pushed the thought out of your head and thankfully Harry didn’t smirk at you too much when Jeff came to pick up the girls for ice cream the next afternoon. They hadn’t forgotten, but luckily Jeff had offered to take them out one night and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Harry to tag along. That way he could stay true to his word and the girls would stop pestering him every time he popped down to the kitchen.
Zoey had been begging to bring the baby over to get out of the house, and now she was sitting in the other room with Benny on a play mat on the floor. Maeve, CeCe, Jeff and Harry stood in a line, eagerly awaiting the green light to pile into Jeff’s car.
“Okay, so Uncle Jeff can text me if you need anything, see you around 7pm?”
“Yes ma’am,” Jeff said, a salute in your direction that pulled a giggle from both of your daughters.
They’d been fighting more lately, CeCe tried to take the medal from Maeve’s room one night over the weekend and suddenly it was like world war three. You were shocked that they’d gotten it together enough to spend some time in each other's presence, even with Uncle Jeff chaperoning, but you were eager for the quiet and hopeful the screaming matches wouldn’t return once the ice cream and dinner date was finished.
“Love you, be nice to each other, okay?” You leaned down and used both hands to hold CeCe’s head in place when you planted a kiss on her forehead, then Maeve. A hug for Jeff, “only one ice cream cone this time.”
He laughed but obliged, you moved down the line to Harry, an awkward nod in his direction when you realized that whatever type of acquaintanceship had slowly started to bloom between the two of you was hardly grounds for a kiss on the forehead or even a hug.
He apparently sensed this too, a playful smile on his face when he lifted his brows. “No farewell for me?”
Jeff let out a quick laugh but Maeve and CeCe took off for the car, racing to see who could get out the front door fastest. “Alright, don’t kill each other,” you reminded again, waved them all off with an embarrassed smirk and then watched as Harry helped CeCe buckle into her booster seat.
“So,” Zoey appeared beside you, Benny in her arms as she looked out the window. “Seems like things are going well.”
“Yeah,” you shrugged casually. “He’s been nice.”
“He seems friendly,” she wiggled her brows when she met your gaze. “Flirty friendly.”
“Just friendly,” you laughed and headed for the kitchen to pour yourself a drink. It might have only been Tuesday, but the week promised to be a busy one. You wiped up a runaway drip of wine on the rim, fully aware the words about to leave your mouth would push Zoey into gear. “But I did see him shirtless yesterday.”
“That sounds amazing,” she shifted Benny in her arms, eagerness in her voice. “How was it?”
“I mean--he also caught me snooping in his room, sort of.”
“Sort of?”
You tried to downplay it. “I came home from work in the middle of the day to change and I heard him in the shower--which is weird cause I didn’t think he’d be home.”
“So you went in there?”
“Not the bathroom--I just peeked into his room and noticed it was really clean. Which is weird, right? He’s a kid!”
“He’s not a kid,” she rolled her eyes at you. “Your kids are kids. He’s twenty-four. I looked it up.”
Your eyes were wide when you turned to head for the couch. “You looked it up?”
“I was curious! He’s a celebrity living in your house and he’s very attractive and you have been harping on his age.”
“Because it felt weird at first.”
“And it doesn’t now?” Her tone was hopeful when she laid Benny back on his play mat and kneeled beside him.
You took a gulp from your wine glass. “Less weird, but only because he’s mature. He’s helpful around the house--he cooked dinner the other night--and he’s good with the girls.”
The corner of her mouth pulled towards the ceiling, arched eyebrows when she clarified. “He’s good with the girls?”
“He’s just nice to them--I was worried that they’d annoy him. I mean, I doubt that he was excited to hear that two of his roommates were six and ten.”
“Okay--but why did you see him shirtless?”
Right--she’d gotten you off track. “Because...I went in his room and then saw his phone buzzing and then he came out and caught me looking at his phone.”
“You were looking through his phone?!”
“No! Not the actual texts, just to see who was blowing it up. I only looked at the lock screen.”
“Was he annoyed?”
“No,” you shrugged, shame laced through your voice. “He was casual. But then he put his shirt on and I left him alone and went back to work.”
“So there’s sexual tension,” she shimmied her shoulders and pulled a laugh from you, she nuzzled down into Benny’s face but then gave him a pacifier.
“No.”
This brought her gaze back to you, more serious now. “Y/N, you are not a creep if you admit that you find him attractive.”
“I can admit that he’s handsome,” you chose a new word that felt more detached. “But who cares? He’s literally just a house guest. A friend of a friend.”
“Right, but he was just flirting with you like there’s no tomorrow.”
“No he wasn’t,” you denied her accusation. When she stared at you expectantly, you took a loud sip and let the obnoxious noise ring through the now empty house as if it would preclude you from saying any more.
“You truly, seriously, one-hundred percent haven’t noticed any type of flirting?”
You averted your eyes for a second, ready to dismiss her question and tell her she was crazy. There was nothing going on between the two of you.
But then you thought on it, thought about the way he asked about Maeve and CeCe and remembered the way your stomach seemed to twist itself in knots when he smirked at you and when the dimples appeared on his cheeks.
“The look on your face is enough of an answer,” Zoey teased, bouncing side to side when Benny made a noise. “Isn’t that right, Benny Boo? Someone has a crush.”
“There’s no crush here--he’s just,” a shrug of your shoulders when you didn’t know what words to use. You didn’t want to add fuel to her fire and you certainly didn’t want to give her any more of a reason to keep bringing this topic up.
“Dreamy? Beautiful? The perfect rebound post-divorce?”
A flutter of your eyelids in annoyance when you stood to head for the kitchen. “No,” you said, making a face in her direction. “He’s just cute.”
“So cute!” She followed behind and egged you on. “A crush is perfectly harmless, a little bedtime rendezvous is totally not a big deal.”
“I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves, here, okay?”
“Oh come on,” she laughed. “You mean to tell me you haven’t already thought about if he’s good in bed?”
She came to sit next to you at the island, folding her legs beneath her. When you sipped at your wine and tried to hide a smirk, her face lit up. “I knew it, I knew it! I don’t blame you, at all, by the way. He’s gorgeous.”
“I’m just horny, number one,” you admitted, leaning forward to rest your elbow on the granite counter. “And seeing a man actually be good with kids is a breath of fresh air.”
“Yeah, Luke didn’t set the bar high with that one.”
“Absolutely not.”
A pause of silence when evening air blew through the open doors to the patio. There was music audible through the trees, wafting in from the backyard of your neighbors.
“I think you should fuck him.”
“What?!” You turned towards her quickly, your voice quieter when she smirked and looked over at you. “Are you out of your mind?”
“You have a ridiculously attractive man living in your house and he hangs out with your kids and now he’s starting to cook? It’s like a lifetime movie waiting to happen.”
“That doesn’t mean I should have sex with him!”
“Do you want to have sex with him?”
You were quiet for a second, kept her gaze but then rolled your eyes and shook your head. “I’ve had a bad year,” you made an excuse for the pulsing in your veins whenever you were alone with him. Nothing more, nothing less.
“When does he leave again?”
“I don’t know--at the end of the week, I guess. It’s not happening, so don’t get any ideas.”
“Alright,” she seemed to relent, “You do you. I just think you deserve a little feel good time.”
“That sounds gross,” you wrinkled your nose, pulling a laugh out of her.
She was able to change the topic, told you all about the way Benny was getting better at lifting his own head and he was screaming a lot less when she put him down for some tummy time. Your phone dinged, though, signalling a new text just when you were about to pull out leftovers and heat them up.
She watched when you opened it, got excited when you smirked at the screen.
“Who is it?”
You almost didn’t want to show her, but you knew she’d pry it out of your hands with force if you didn’t share. You flipped it around, watched as a smile spread across her face.
A picture of Harry and CeCe, both with sunglasses on as they ate their ice cream. Maeve and Jeff were in the background, the line at the ice cream shop down the street wasn’t too long. You were kind of surprised he was willing to go with them, wouldn't it create a buzz in the headlines?
Zoey gave you a knowing look.
“It’s just sweet.”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t know,” you smiled a little at first, but the happiness faded from your face when you pulled yourself back to reality. “I feel stupid thinking that he’s flirting with me. He could be with a supermodel if he wanted to. One with perky boobs and who’s, like, twenty. Not someone who’s old enough to be his mom.”
“You are seven years older than him,” she made a disgusted face. “You could have been, like, his babysitter, not his mom.”
“Oh, that makes me feel so much better.”
“You’re being stupid about this!”
You paused with tupperware in your hands, turned around slowly. “I am not being dumb about not having casual sex with the popstar boyband kid living under my roof. I think not having sex with him is objectively the responsible thing to do here.”
“Why do you always have to be so responsible, though? You have been doing that forever, okay? You’re the business owner mom who’s always been incredibly family-oriented.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“No, not in the slightest! But you’re more than just a mom.”
You bit at your cheek and dropped her gaze, put the tupperware down from exhaustion. “I just want my children to have a normal life. I only had one parent and I thought they were going to have two and now that ship has sailed.”
She nodded sympathetically. “But that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong! You never relaxing and having a good time will only teach them bad work-life balance.”
You rolled your eyes at her comment, tried to fight the smile when she waited for you to fold. “I love you,” she said. “I want you to get laid or have a drink or let your hair down once in a while.”
You held up the wine in her face. “Already halfway there.”
She reached for the bottle of wine and shoved it towards you with skeptical eyes. “Try harder.”
You let out a laugh and took another sip once it was refilled, pushed plates into the microwave and sat there with her until Jeff’s car pulled back into the driveway and the girls came tumbling back into the house.
“Mom, Harry said he could teach me how to play guitar,” Maeve grinned up at you, an affectionate hug caught you by surprise, but so did her words.
“He did, did he?” You eyed Harry as he walked in with Jeff by his side, sunglasses still on his face despite the sun lingering just above the horizon.
“We’ll start a band,” Harry nodded in her direction, kept his eyes shielded as CeCe ran into the backyard with a noise of excitement.
“And Uncle Jeff said he’ll sing.”
“You’ll definitely get far, then,” you teased, pulling an offended look from your childhood friend. “He’s obviously the best singer in the house.”
Harry nodded in playful agreement. “Could put me out of a job any day.”
“Maeve!” CeCe called suddenly, pulling everyone’s attention to the backyard. “Come play squishball!”
Harry looked down at Maeve and she looked up at him, you were unaware of whatever unspoken communication was transpiring between them. “Should we?” He asked.
“Definitely,” she giggled, hands on her hips.
Zoey was also confused, but she watched as Maeve and Harry headed for the patio. Harry finally took his sunglasses off, handed them to your older daughter before he spoke. “CeCe, we need to have a meeting.”
“A meeting?” She asked, she groaned in disappointment but walked back towards the house, bat dragging on the grass behind her. Jeff laughed and folded his arms over his chest, unaware of whatever deal had already been struck between them.
“You two are both really great at squishball,” Harry admitted, his voice suddenly more serious than before. “But I think we need to up the stakes.”
“Up the stakes?” You could tell by the look on CeCe’s face that she had no clue what that meant.
“Winner of this game gets the medal I won from the spelling bee,” Maeve explained.
You were about to protest, head outside and discourage any type of betting or gambling or whatever the backyard made up game was leading towards, but Harry went on to explain the rules. “CeCe gets a head start running bases, just because of her tiny legs.”
Maeve nodded, “and she gets a free home run to start off.”
CeCe smiled wide and put her hands on her hips, pulling a laugh from Harry as she copied her older sister. “I like the sound of that,” she said. A sure-fire way to make her win, you realized. But what was in that for Maeve? How had your previously grumpy pre-teen become a team player in a matter of hours?
It wasn’t long before Zoey gathered up her things and put Benny in the backseat, giggling and excited yells floated in from the backyard when you hugged her goodbye. Jeff stayed past sunset and offered an excited high five when CeCe won, completely unaware at how easy they’d made it for her.
But he soon left, too, you climbed the stairs behind your two little athletes, got them washed up and in bed before it was 9pm--not bad for a weeknight. You were sure Harry would have retreated to his room, too, but he was sat by the fire pit on the patio, a near empty glass of wine in his hand when you came back out.
“Care to explain?” you leaned against the doorframe and smiled. He adjusted in his seat but shrugged his shoulders when you admitted: “I never thought I would hear the end of it with that stupid medal.”
There was a confident look on his face when he met your eyes in the glow of the fire pit. “Figured I can teach her a few chords on guitar and that would take her mind off of taunting CeCe.”
It was smart, you nodded slowly and watched him. Give Maeve something that would get her really excited, but only if she’d give up something else. Bargaining--a classic parenting trick. You eyed Harry with a level of skepticism.
“How are you so good with them?”
He smiled at that, apparently flattered by the compliment. “They’re good kids,” he said simply.
“I’m aware,” you laughed, “but you don’t have to spend so much time with them.”
“I like it,” he shrugged. “It’s kind of nice to be around a family, you know?”
The words pulled emotion to your chest. Did you really look like a family to him? No husband, no grandfather, two irreplaceable roles and now you were trying to fill all of them just to keep your kids afloat.
“And besides,” he stood from his chair and grabbed the now empty glass before he came closer to you. “Something about being here just feels right.”
You looked up at him, felt the same rush of heat to your cheeks but hoped you were safe in the cover of night. He smirked, like he knew what he was doing to you but was too much of a gentleman to call you out. Hesitation when you felt some type of magnetic force between you, the distance simultaneously felt like inches and miles.
You smiled softly, embarrassed by the way your pulse picked up and the thoughts that flew through your head. What would happen if I, does he ever think about, am I crazy if I want to?
He brushed past you and walked to the sink, placing the wine glass down quietly before he turned to face you once more. “Is it as bad as you thought?”
Confusion, you wiped your sweaty palms on your pants. “Sorry?”
“Having me here,” he motioned around, the dimple on his left cheek was visible even in the dim light. You rolled your eyes, dropped his gaze for a second when he let out a quiet laugh. “I hope that it’s only as miserable as you thought--m’just aiming for not worse than expected at this point.”
You turned to face him and put your hands on the granite, thankful for the fact that the island was now between you, the ticking of a clock on the wall kept time when you tried to piece your words together carefully.
Was he flirting with you? A similar to question to that he'd asked only a few nights earlier, this time with more of a smirk on his face and a lilt in his voice that made sent a shiver down your spine.
“It’s better,” you admitted with a nod and a teasing smile. “But don’t tell Jeff that.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, held your gaze and then nodded. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
There was silence for a second, you almost offered to pour him another glass of wine but then he said: “Only a few more days, though.”
“Yeah,” you nodded, the fantasy shattered on the floor between you. “How’s the house coming?”
He winced, a quiet laugh when he shook his head. “Everything’s been pushed out a few weeks, actually. But--it’s fine, I’m probably just going to stay with a friend or something, you know, don’t want to overstay my welcome.”
You brought your lips into a thin line, unsure if what you were about to offer was appropriate or weird or just plain awkward.
“Oh...well, I mean, if you want to stay here longer, you can.”
His mouth pulled up on the side, he brought his gaze back to you and shifted his weight on his feet. “Yeah? You don’t mind?”
You shrugged, again hoping to play it cool or not come off too eager. “If that would be helpful,” you trailed off.
“Yeah, very helpful.”
“Cool.”
“Cool,” he nodded, pulling another smirk from you.
A few more weeks, tops.
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hsogolden · 3 hours ago
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I’m so excited to finally be sharing the first chapter of this story with you all! If you haven’t yet, make sure you read the prologue before this, it will just help understand a few things better! Also! I just want to remind yall that this story is somewhat dark and violent and there’s a few warnings and so if any of that bothers you please don’t read! It’s most definitely not like anything else I’ve written so I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable! As always, my inbox is open to feedback, constructive criticism and other thoughts! Thank you for reading if you choose to!!
♠︎ warnings: death, violence, mentions of suicide and pedophelia (the pedos die though i promise), abuse, alcohol use, blood, sexual content
♣︎  word count: 10.6k
MASTERLIST // STORY TAG // ASK TAG // PLAYLIST // MOODBOARD // CHARACTERS // MY MASTERLIST // MY INBOX
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“Is this Doja?” Z had no choice but to shout over the incessant noise inside Eden, the nightclub that prided itself on exclusivity, making it so that all hopeful residents of southeast Kypa would be stuck on a mile-long waiting list for over two months just for one single night of fun.
Unless, of course, your names were Zora or Ember, and you weren’t necessarily natural born Kypians, but you had other naturally born qualifications that came in handy.
Like knowing how to aim a gun and where to stick a knife. 
Ember hadn’t been leaning against the shiny, silver pole for very long. It actually wasn’t until she’d accidentally snuck a hand someplace it shouldn’t have been and she was suddenly quite interested in the men hanging around her and her best friend the entire night. 
She swore his name was something like… Jordan or James. Some asshole name. But the tall, dark-haired asshole whom she hadn’t lost eye contact with was packing, and that was all she cared about. 
“Em!” Z started again, her voice nearly lost among the welcomed group of men crowding around her on the booth. Once she finally had the attention of Ember, who seemed clueless, Z cocked her head and her eyebrows rose to damn near her hairline. “I’m talking to you!” 
If Ember was the muscle and brains, Zora was the attitude and persuasion, which was possibly why they worked so well together. Zora had already wrapped their target tightly around her finger, so much that he was currently lifting a martini glass to Z’s mouth, and Ember was already fitting in getting laid by Jordan—or James—into their plans for the night. 
Ember rolled her eyes and shouted back her response to Z’s initial question that she most certainly had heard, but was choosing to ignore. And given the fact that Zora fell right back into the rich men surrounding her, all hoping to get lucky, Em didn’t think the artist of the song currently playing was of too much importance anymore.
So, she went back to her own target, one that she would most definitely be taking home. However, he would be seeing the light of day again afterward, unlike the poor blonde bastard under Zora’s watchful gaze. 
Andre Brahm was most certainly a bastard who deserved what was in store for him. He was one piece of a multi-layered sex-trafficking ring that Zora and Ember’s client had been investigating for months. And then they had names, a whole list of them in fact, to hunt down and terminate by the end of September. Andre was one of the few still left, and it fueled Em with an unhealthy amount of excitement to know that by the following night, they’d all be gone for good—as long as her plan worked out the way it was supposed to. Without Zora, it’d be a trickier process, but Ember had no intentions of waiting another day, or even another hour, to let the very last name on their list do any more damage. 
Jordan—or James—was a distraction, one that took her mind off of putting a bullet into Andre’s skull already and being done with it. If the cleanup afterward wouldn’t be so damn shitty, she might’ve seriously considered it. But, alas, they needed to stick to the plan. Or… most of it at least. 
There was no harm in sprinkling in just a little… or, actually, a lot of fun, if what she’d felt growing under Jordan—or James’s—zipper was any indication.
He sat back against the booth, his hands clasped in his lap conveniently, as he watched Ember and as he smiled at her. And he had such a sweet, innocent smile that she almost felt bad for sweeping him up into her tornado. 
Almost.
She smiled back, but it wasn’t the least bit sweet or innocent. As it turned out, the song itself was of some importance while she waited for the beat to drop. And once it did, there was no stopping her. No telling Ember a damn thing as she slid herself down the pole, her knees bending and her legs spreading before him. She watched on in confident amusement while the color seemed to drain from his face, his lips thinning to a hard line as his eyes fell to what was between her legs. No one besides Jordan—or James—would know that Ember had chosen to not wear a damn thing underneath her skin-tight black dress. She was certain her evil little dimples appeared when he gave her the reaction she craved. Just that little bit of attention when she wasn’t murdering someone, or actively planning to, made his distraction all the better. It made butterflies, real ass butterflies, come to life in her stomach when he fit a palm over himself to hide what she was doing to him. It made her head spin to see that look on his face, the one of hunger and need that she hoped he’d make again when she was ripping his clothes off. 
When he met her gaze again, she gave him a knowing, and a bit cocky, smile before straightening and twisting herself around the pole. She wasn’t trained in it at all, but she was trained in other ways that gave her just enough muscle in all the right places to not make a complete ass of herself while attempting a move or two. 
She didn’t get that far, though, because as soon as she turned, gripping the pole for balance, she fell into a deep pool of emerald green eyes as they watched her from across the club. As he stood leaning against the balcony, arms crossed on top of the marble bannister. Watching her. 
Normally, she’d think nothing of it. But he was… he was different. Something about him was different. His stare held her immobile and she wasn’t exactly the type to let anyone have any sort of way with her. Especially someone who was so far away, most of his angular face was cast in shadows—all except for his eyes which glowed when the fast, beaming club lights hit them. Even so, even if she’d never relinquish an ounce of power to a single living soul, she couldn’t seem to move one useless muscle as if he’d just locked her legs into place for good, with only a goddamned pair of eyes. 
Then there was a calloused hand sliding up her arm and a voice in her ear asking, “Is everything alright?” And when she turned quickly, forcibly peeling her eyes—and her body—away, she felt an ache deep within her from the loss of contact with him. Even as she tilted her head back to meet the concerned gaze of Jordan—or James—she couldn’t shake the feeling he’d left her with. 
She cleared her throat and forced a smile, “Yeah, I’m fine. I just…” she glanced toward Z for a moment, who was still lost in her own bubble, and then back to the man in front of her as she racked her brain for an excuse. Her hands moved first, without much thought put into it, but as they made their way around his neck and she pulled herself into to him, she was pretty sure she could say just about anything and he would go along with it. So, reaching her lips to his ear, she came up with something. “I wanted you closer.”
She felt him chuckle more than she heard it, because all she could think about was those green eyes. If they were still watching her. Why they had been watching her in the first place. If he was just another lust-filled man, or someone she should be fearful of. Someone she should be watching her back for. 
Her instincts screamed at her that every random stranger was someone to be fearful of, but, at the same time, she hadn’t felt an ounce of dread when she’d locked eyes with him. More… wonder and curiosity that seemed to light some sort of flame inside of her that, with Jordan—or James’s—interruption, was suddenly put out. 
She led Jordan—or James—around the pole, an excuse to turn herself around so she could light that flame again, but as soon as she did, as soon as her eyes traveled up to the balcony, he was already gone. Even as she searched desperately, he was nowhere to be found. The dark emptiness settled in and she guided Jordan—or James—back onto the booth, sliding onto his lap once more and promising the ride of his life when she’d finally get him alone.
*                                              *                                 *
She kept her word, of course, and her death grip on the headboard was an equal match to the one he had on her hips. That was about all they matched on, however, because he couldn’t keep up with her to save his life. And if he knew who was on top of him, who he was inside, Jordan—or James—would definitely be fucking her like he valued his life. Although he was big, and she was thoroughly enjoying it, he didn’t know how to use it, and instead, let her take control. She wouldn’t often—if ever—have a man in her bed any other way, though, so she couldn’t blame the way he submitted to her every little request. Or big request, like when she reached down to wrap one hand around his throat, the other over his mouth and instead of being scared, he came instantly instead. She chuckled, burying him deep inside of her while he moaned loud enough for Zora to hear, she was sure, even with her hand plastered to his mouth. She kept riding him until she got what she wanted, and then fell onto her back beside him. As soon as she caught her breath, each second that passed by afterward she grew more and more annoyed by his presence. It always happened, though, with every single man she brought home. She wanted them out the door as soon as possible. Jordan—or James—was allowed a bit of a grace period where she didn’t literally kick him out, which she couldn’t say for the rest of the men she’d fucked who had a much smaller package than him. He’d be gone soon anyway so she let him stay until then, even if she felt the violent urge to shove him out of her bed and onto his ass every time he took a deep breath and she was reminded he was still there.
“That was…” he breathed, his hand splayed across his abdomen, and she just smiled to herself because she knew exactly the effect she had on men and Jordan—or James—was not immune to it. 
“I forgot your name,” she hoped he would be like every other cocky man who thought they’d fucked her so good, she’d forgotten, and not the truth of it. That she never knew his name to begin with.
He chuckled and rand his hand through his hair, “It’s Johnny.”
“Johnny,” she repeated in a hum, not having guessed that one at all, and after a silent moment, her phone dinged, saving her from whatever small talk Johnny was just about to subject her to.
Her eyes scanned the message, already knowing what it would say, but just making sure it was the message she was waiting for. She clicked her screen off and set her phone back down. Then, she turned to him and sighed.
“Time to go.” 
His smile grew for a moment before he realized she was being serious. When she sat up, he lifted onto his elbows, watching her incredulously. “Wait, what?”
She paced to the wardrobe in the room and pulled out a clean button-up, slipping it on and fastening it before flickering her eyes to him nonchalantly. 
“Leave. Now.” She ordered for the final time, or at least she hoped it would be. That there was enough threat in her tone to scare him. She almost felt bad when she saw how he looked at her, like she’d just ripped his heart out, but at the very least he didn’t seem angry about it. No, he wasn’t mad and that was good. He wouldn’t fight her and he wouldn’t argue. 
He shook his head and scoffed, kicking the blanket off and fetching his clothes in a mad rush. Once he had his dignity covered, he faced her and motioned toward the bed. “Did this mean anything to you?”
Her earlier assumptions about him being easy to kick out were suddenly back to haunt her. So, she smiled sweetly like the little cold-hearted demon she was, and delivered the final blow. “Of course not, Johnny.”
He gave her that look again and she wished it made her feel something. She wished she felt sorry for her words, for hurting him, but she didn’t. She had no empathy for him. It was his fault after all, he could have just left, no questions asked, but he chose otherwise. So this is what he got. Ember at her very worst.
“Unbelievable.” He muttered under his breath before picking his wallet up off the floor and storming to her bedroom door. 
She rolled her eyes and followed him, pausing to lean against the doorframe as she watched him, hoping he wouldn’t turn and make matters worse for himself.
Johnny glanced at something across the room which slowed his pace and when Ember took a couple steps forward, she found Zora at her own door, waving him off with a smile that might’ve been polite and sympathetic if Ember didn’t know better.
Ember stifled a laugh, biting her lip just as Johnny threw his eyes over his shoulder at her, probably wondering how his life had gotten to this point, where he got trapped in her web and then kicked out onto his ass, but he just shook his head again and left, not even bothering to stop the door from slamming shut behind him.
Ember sighed, crossing her arms and turning toward her best friend, pretending to pout. “I liked him.”
“You like all of them,” Zora reminded her, leaning one shoulder against her closed door.
The hotel suite was one they often used, as long as they cleaned up after themselves at the end of the night. The owner was very familiar with their line of work and if he peeped a word to anyone, he’d lose everything, including the tens of thousands of dollars he was paid to keep his mouth shut. His was one of the few lasting relationships they’d built from their previous years of working under Dominic Aldine.
But Dom was a different story, and not one that mattered to either of them anymore.
“He was different.” Ember pulled a pistol from its hiding place in a large potted plant, twisting on the silencer and checking the clip as she walked toward Zora. 
“You know men are more than just the size of their cocks, right?”
Ember shrugged. “Maybe… but that’s all they’re good for. And his was big.” She held up her hands to demonstrate the length of Johnny, and Zora cocked an eyebrow, impressed even if she was a bit more respectful of men than Ember was. Even if Zora sort of had a… boyfriend? Ember wasn’t sure he could even be called that.
“What about his…” Ember nodded toward the door, toward the man she knew was tied up to the bed on the other side, waiting for them like dinner.
Zora scoffed. “If what I felt was all there was…” 
Ember smirked, “Then this will be a piece of cake.” 
On the way in, Ember obtained a knife, letting the metal flash in the light as she pulled it from the top dresser drawer and smiling sadistically to herself when the man whimpered from the bed. Not only would it be a piece of cake to kill this man, but she was also going to enjoy it. So, changing her mind, she set her gun down and walked toward him with just the blade in hand. All the while, he watched her, his eyes pleading for his life since his mouth couldn’t. Even through the gag, however, he whined and Ember had heard enough.
“Shut it.” She demanded, stopping at the foot of the bed and as soon as her burning hazel eyes held his, every sound that came out of him ceased. She flipped the hilt of the knife in her hand and smiled at him, “Good boy.”
He was nothing more than the animal she was treating him as. All the faces of innocent women flashed behind her eyes, women he had a hand in destroying for no other reason than gaining power and money. Women he’d sold like slaves, women she was positive he’d bought for himself, too. Women that deserved so much better. Women Ember couldn’t save.
She gritted her teeth, reminding herself that once he was dead, she would be saving those women. The ones that would be his future prey. Sure, there were more like him out there, but taking just one out at a time was still progress. And by tomorrow, all of his associates would be buried six feet under. 
Actually, she wasn’t quite sure what Ryker did with the bodies after he was called to clean up. She never asked, nor did she particularly care what happened to them. They could rot for an eternity for all she cared. They deserved no dignity for what they’d done.
Ember slid the tip of the knife up the bottom of the man’s foot, watching as he struggled to find a way to escape, which just amused her more. “So you’re the Andre Brahm.” He froze when he heard his name and she tilted her head to the side as her eyes wandered down and back up his body. She’d seen enough of him at the club but she had been a tad bit distracted at the time. “I thought you’d be… bigger.”
A muffled, low sounding, desperate, “please,” came from behind the gag.
“Your life is not worth begging for.” Ember’s lips thinned in annoyance and she felt Zora shift on her feet. She’d never really been good at this part of the job. Zora could reel them in with all the cunning strength of a black widow, but she always hesitated when it came to killing, which is why Ember did most of the heavy lifting now.
Still, the man pleaded for his life, louder and louder until Ember’s rage inflamed behind her eyes and she lifted her hand quick and impaled the blade of the knife into his foot. At that point, he was screaming behind his gag, eyes bulging as he stared down at the bloody mess of what she’d done. He tried to pull his legs back, but it only made things worse for him and he screamed louder.
“I told you to shut it.” Her voice wasn’t loud, not as loud as it could be, but just enough to be heard over his cries. He quieted instantly, and even Zora would admit that Ember was a nightmare when she wanted to be. And right now, she wanted to be the worst kind of nightmare that could give a person insomnia for the rest of their lives.
Ember pulled up on the blade and with a thunk, his foot fell free of her knife, but this time, if he had wanted to scream again, nothing came out. Not even as he stared at the blood gushing from his wound. He was breathing frantically and sweating profusely, however, and that was all she really needed. She didn’t care for the screaming and the pleading. But those little things the body did when it was afraid were enough. He should be afraid, she thought, he should feel everything he made countless innocent women feel.
“Good dog,” she snickered, “you learn quick.”
Zora nearly opened her mouth to tell the man to scream as much as he wanted, knowing that if he did, Ember would put her knife through his heart and be done with this already. But Zora knew what it was like to be in the hands of a man like Andre. Where she was helpless to his control. And Ember… Ember was far too familiar with it; so Zora kept her mouth shut and let her friend do what she needed to do.
Ember didn’t usually play too long, just enough to make the sorry man think he had a chance at escaping. It wasn’t often she opted for knives, either, but a simple bullet through the head seemed like she was giving him the mercy of an easy way out. And he didn’t deserve that.
She paced up the outskirts of the bed, picturing Ryker’s displeased face when he found the mess she was making as she cleaned her knife off on the sheets and some of it dripped onto the floor. That would be his problem, though, and while he may admonish her for it later, it would be well worth it.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, the man squirmed away from her, as much as his bindings would allow and met her wicked gaze with one filled of terror. He must know this was it. He was taking his final breaths. He knew it was coming, she had been picking off his friends one by one the past month and now she’d finally come for him.
She crossed her legs and her arms, glancing down at the sharpened edge of her blade as if she were bored and then looked at him again. She was beautiful, even if she was about to stick her knife someplace he’d never recover from.
“Any last words?” She mused and pointedly dropped her eyes to his mouth, where the gag was still firmly in place. Then she smiled again. “It’s only fair isn’t it? You didn’t show any of those women a stitch of mercy, did you?” 
“E…” Zora warned and Ember stiffened for just a moment. She knew she was dragging this out too much, knew nothing she said would ever fix her own broken pieces. She still tried, though, sticking them together with glue and tape until she could pretend to be whole again. It never lasted long.
He began pleading again, this time with tears falling down his cheeks. Ember just shook her head and let Andre see the darkness within her as she locked eyes with him moments before she stabbed her knife into his chest. 
Before the light drained from him entirely, she leaned in, guiding her lips to his ear as he grunted when her movements shoved the knife in further. “See you in hell.” She whispered and blood dripped from the corner of his mouth before his head tipped to the other side and his eyes became dull and distant. Gone. 
She pulled her knife free and stood, not giving him another look as she wiped off the blade on the sheets again and, instead, met Zora’s watchful, apprehensive gaze.
“Do you feel better now?” Z crossed her arms.
“Not even in the slightest.” Ember sauntered off to the dresser, retrieving her gun and replacing the knife into its drawer. Ryker would undoubtedly give it a thorough cleaning once he’d taken care of the body. She twisted only halfway back to Zora but kept her eyes to the floor, “Let’s go.”
*                                              *                                 *
Ember left the rest of last night’s job up to Zora, which involved circling back to the clients, being paid for yet another body from the diminished list of men, and going over the details of the final stretch of the mission that had been scrupulously planned out by Ember days in advance.
With Andre, she’d followed him for a couple days to learn his patterns and to find weak spots within them. The moment she found out he had reservations to Eden, the plan practically fell into place for her. That had been his biggest weak spot: Eden. Any other club, and they wouldn’t have been as lucky. But the man who owned Eden had a bit of a soft spot for Zora ever since they’d first stepped foot on the property. Since then, they’d gained each other’s trust and he let both Zora and Ember do as they pleased, as long as they didn’t make a mess and he got a cut of the profit. Zora also tried to throw in some more… creative forms of payment—because Ace was, quote, the hottest man she’d ever laid eyes on—but he’d refused. When Zora pouted, however, he’d stepped closer, swiped his thumb over her bottom lip and told her, “When we fuck, it won’t be because you owe it to me. It’ll be because you want it.” If Ember had been in on that conversation, she would have surely rolled her eyes—and maybe gagged a little—but luckily she’d only gotten the highlights hours later when Zora was still swooning.
And now there was the final name. Edmond Wallis. His weak spot was frequenting The Palace without his usual entourage of guards. He arrived at exactly eleven-thirty every Saturday night and disappeared into a room with one of the girls, alone, for hours. Anything could happen in that spanse of time and his one and only guard would be too distracted by the other naked women to check on him.
Not to mention, Ember quite enjoyed using her body against men. It made her feel powerful to watch them go from thinking they were getting a piece of her to realizing she’d be biting a chunk out of them instead. 
She also liked waltzing around in nothing but cute lingerie, too.
Everything was set in order by lunchtime, which is when Zora returned with Ace hot on her heels. 
They had, of course, already been well introduced to each other’s beds by this point. It hadn’t really taken very long at all, in fact. And Ember couldn’t understand how Zora continued to want him, how she didn’t get sick of it. How she could sit at their dining table and gush about all the things Ace had done and said that day. 
When she had asked, Zora just insisted that Ace was fun and nothing more than that.
Even so, Ember watched them closely and with mild disgust as Zora met her in the kitchen and, moments after she stopped in front of her, Ace wrapped his arms around her middle, making her giggle when he tucked his fingers into ticklish spots on her sides.
“I thought I told you to stop doing that!” Zora squealed while smacking Ace’s arms away. He obliged, because, although he didn’t bat an eye at the whole hitwoman thing, he did obtain some morals. Like when Zora told him to stop, he did. Although, Ember wasn’t sure whether it was his morals or Zora’s ability to chop him in half that made those decisions. Possibly both, but leaning more towards the latter.
“How’d it go?” Ember asked as if she hadn’t just been gagging at the sight of them together. Ace made himself at home and strolled around the other side of the island where he dug into their fridge as if he owned the place. Which… perhaps he did. Not monetarily, but he did spend most of his nights in their penthouse. Not that he didn’t have his own, but when Ember had asked him about it, he’d just smirked and said, as sarcastically as he could, that he liked seeing her pretty face every morning.
She’d gagged at that too.
Zora sighed. “Well, I’m sure Ryker will pay you a visit later, he didn’t seem too happy about the mess you made. Did you know he has to replace the entire bed every time?”
“He may have mentioned that before.”
Ace snorted as he pulled a beer from the fridge and kicked the door shut. 
“What did you do this time?”
“She stabbed his foot.” Zora answered, earning Ember an impressed, amused, and slightly terrified look from Ace.
“The last girl he was seen with, who then disappeared, was only fifteen.”
“Bastard.” Ace grumbled, shaking his head as he took out that anger on the bottle cap, letting it fly half way across the counter once he’d pried it off.
After a silent, somber moment passed, Zora straightened. “Anyway. Once this last one is finished, I’ll meet with them tomorrow after I hear from you.”
Ember nodded. While they both took on clients of their own at times, she preferred Zora taking care of that end. She wasn’t good with people unless she was killing them and the less her clients knew about her, the better. It kept her reputation in check when only a select few actually knew what she looked like. She was the ghost. The girl who was a better killer than most of the men when she was only sixteen. And now, seven years later, she was unstoppable.
She supposed she had Dominic Aldine to thank for that, but she wouldn’t thank him even if he gave her the shirt off his back. Not that he’d ever even do something that generous.
“So,” Ace leaned onto the counter across from them, his eyes on Ember, “Zora and I were thinking that once this job is finished you two could… take a break.”
Zora cringed away slightly, clearly not expecting that topic to be brought up yet, but she didn’t say anything to stop it from happening. 
“A break?” Ember echoed.
“Yeah.” He shrugged, glancing at his… girlfriend? He still wasn’t sure what him and Zora were, actually. “Just for like… a couple months. You could go somewhere, get out of Kypa… meet someone.”
“Meet someone?” Again, she looked at him like he was crazy.
“Is there an echo in here?” 
Ember rolled her eyes. “You and Zora can take a break and travel all you want. I’ll be here.”
Zora finally opened her mouth. “Em, you can’t keep living like this. Your life is just job after job and you don’t talk about any of it. You just bury everything as deep as you can and one day, you’re gonna break.”
Ember had no idea what to say. The last thing she expected was an intervention with Zora and her… boyfriend? So, naturally, she rolled her eyes and walked away.
“Where are you going?” Zora insisted.
“Away from the two of you.” Neither of them fought Ember, mostly because they knew it was a fight they wouldn’t win, but as she disappeared into her room, she could hear them whispering back and forth, surely about the sad state of her life.
But she liked it that way. It was just her. She had nothing to lose. She had no weaknesses to be exploited. Zora, on the other hand, had Ace. If she was ever compromised, her enemies would go after him first. While Ember didn’t quite understand love, or grasp the concept of it, she still knew better than to drag someone into her life who might very well end up dead because of her. And she had lived through and tolerated so many things, but that was one she might not survive. 
She couldn’t imagine herself being in love with someone, and she wasn’t sure that’s what Zora had with Ace—at least not yet—but it was not something she wanted. He was a liability and nothing more. And if Dom ever found out about it, Ace would be wiped from the planet in a heartbeat, no questions asked.
Not to mention… she wasn’t quite sure she was even capable of that type of love. She was sure she loved Zora as a sister, and would have her back through anything, but falling in love? She’d sooner shove a knife through her own chest.
Ember spent the rest of the daylight hours sleeping and getting ready. She was thorough and meticulous, with everything from her selection of weapons to which pair of fishnets she’d wear—she’d gone with the rhinestoned ones because Ace had said any man would drop to his knees once they saw her in those.
She put that theory to the test when she emerged from her room at ten, finding Zora and Ace in the foyer where they made sure they had everything they needed for their trip. Zora had spared quite a lot of details about where she’d be, except that she was taking Ace with her. Ember didn’t care either way, she could handle Edmond Wallis on her own, and she’d long since learned that if Zora wanted her to know something, she’d know without having to ask questions.
Her heels clicked across the marble as she approached them, Ace’s eyes finding Ember decades before Zora even glanced in her direction. Which he was probably thankful for because he not only did a double take when he saw her, but he also let his eyes wander while he swallowed the pit in his throat.
Ace was, she’d admit, hot. He had angled, perfectly sculpted features and short, dark black hair that framed his face nicely. She could understand Zora’s appeal. Especially to his eyes. They were dark as well, almost black, but they could look at you like you were the only one in the room. Not to mention, Ember had too much knowledge of what was hidden underneath his black trousers thanks to Zora.
“Damn.” Ember grumbled after stopping just a few feet from them. The skirt of her dress reached the floor, but the slit up the side went all the way to her hip. And the deep V of the neckline also left little to the imagination. “You’re not on your knees.”
Ace blinked and his eyes snapped back to her face as he cleared his throat. “I did say that, didn’t I?”
Zora rolled her eyes and smacked him. “She is the most unavailable person on the planet, so don’t get any ideas.”
Ember smiled at the fact that Zora wasn’t even mad that he was clearly gawking. It made sense, though. Ember was never a threat; she just liked playing with men and making them weak, even Ace.
He straightened. “Well, I may not be on my knees, but I think I’d do just about anything you told me to.”
She was fully taking advantage of that. “Good. Go get me some wine.”
He froze for a moment and then cracked a smile, nodding just so he had an excuse to glance down the length of her again before he disappeared into the kitchen.
“Still not going to tell me where you’re going?”
Zora seemed to coil back into herself, lips thinning as she hid her eyes. “I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon. It’s just a… a job I picked up on my own.”
“But you need Ace’s help and not mine?”
“There’s people I’m meeting to help. Acquaintances of his.”
Ember nodded, still unsure what part of it Zora was trying to hide from her, but once Ace returned with three glasses of wine, she let it go.
“To…” Ace’s eyes scanned Ember again and he grinned, holding up his glass to theirs for a toast. “That incredible fucking outfit.”
Zora shoved him again as he emptied the contents of his glass. Ember had no idea what the deal was between the two of them. If they had some kind of open relationship, or if they had a relationship at all. Both Ace and Zora flirted with anything that had a heartbeat, so she imagined jealousy couldn’t be factored in. It was clear they wanted each other, but they also wanted other people. And Ember didn’t know what Ace got up to on nights he slept at his own home, but she knew for certain that Zora did not consider them exclusive.
Either way, it was not something Ember wanted to involve herself any further in. She handed off her empty glass to Zora, said her goodbyes and told them to drive safe. Zora just pointed out the fact that Ember was the one that should be concerned about safety. 
On her way out the door, she heard Ace’s voice again. “Make them fall to their knees and don’t let them get back up.” 
*                                              *                                 *
The Palace was packed, making it rather easy for her to get to where she was going unnoticed. Once she’d spotted her target, she took up root on the opposite end of the room. He hadn’t gone off with some poor girl yet, but he did have a couple of the dancers crowded around him and his guard, who she’d learned was named Julius. 
She kept an eye on them for what felt like forever, swatting away men that approached her like flies and pretending to be just another paying customer until she found her cue.
Edmond Wallis was a butt ugly man. He was hairy for one—too damn hairy. And all the hair was an ugly shade of greying blonde. He was in his later forties, and exactly how she’d imagine a sex-trafficking psychopath to appear. His fingers were meat sticks as they gripped the ass of a dancer, who didn’t seem so pleased by his unwanted touch. His creepy 70’s mustache made Ember want to hurl up her dinner. The only place he lacked hair was on top of his head, where a bright, shining bald spot took up root. He was just… a repulsive little man and she would not feel guilty for one single second about what she was to do to him.
Eventually, a man dressed to the nines in an all-black three-piece suit leaned down and whispered into Edmond’s ear. He seemed to like whatever was said to him and then greedily hurled the women off of him to follow the man into a hallway at the back of the room.
That was Ember’s cue. 
Edmond would be taken to his room, where he would get comfortable just before Paul, the man in the suit, sent him his best dancer. They would do much more than just dancing, of course, and Edmond would pay up the ass for it. It was a weakness. And Ember was rightfully exploiting it.
She left her coat on a chair at the bar and walked as if she was just another worker, headed upstairs to the private rooms. And apart from a few curious glances, no one stopped her. She was dressed the part, and she knew damn well Paul didn’t pay enough attention to any of the women who worked for him. He probably didn’t know a single one of them by name.
She got to his door with way too much ease. It was the same room every Saturday night, and she knew because she’d watched him through the window he’d left open the previous weekend. She didn’t let a single detail of his little outings go to waste.
Turning the knob, she sucked in a breath, squared her shoulders and let herself in.
However, when her eyes adjusted to the light, she found one glaring exception to her plans.
A girl, much younger than Paul’s typical clientele, was tied up with rope on the bed. Edmond stood at the foot, in the middle of undoing his belt when Ember interrupted. The girl, who, upon further inspection, looked to be barely eighteen, was crying and huffing behind the gag in her mouth.
Ember froze at the sight, the sight in front of her causing her mind to short-circuit. She knew what this was, what she’d just walked in on. What she hadn’t accounted for.
“There’s been a mistake.” She finally spoke, and then smiled when Edmond furrowed his brows in frustration. “I’m to take over from here.”
He snorted. “I’ve never seen you before.”
“I’m new.”
“Then perhaps you’re lost.” 
“You’re Mr. Wallis, correct?”
He scrutinized her and then she found her skin crawling when his eyes fell down the length of her. She much preferred Ace looking at her like that.
“I suppose I can just have you both, then.”
Ember wasn’t happy with that, but she couldn’t think of anything quickly enough that would not sound suspicious to get the other girl out of the room. She just hoped, when she locked eyes with the girl, that she understood Ember was not there to be had. And she would not let him have her, either.
Ember locked the door while Edmond removed his trousers. She knew she had to think fast and think smart. If she drew a weapon now, he’d yell and alert his guard. She had to get close.
So, she moved until she stood beside him, taking his attention off the girl as she slid the strap of her dress off her shoulder. She let his hands wander as he pulled her into him and then she pivoted, turning his back to the girl while his lips explored Ember’s neck and she tried not to vomit.
Over his shoulder, Ember made eye contact with the girl, and once she did, the girl went completely still. Ember smiled and then pulled her pistol, already equipped with a silencer, from the holster strapped around her covered thigh. In two quick motions, the barrel was pressed against Edmond’s temple and she was stepping away from him, her other hand clasped tightly over his mouth.
She looked into his eyes now, seeing the confusion leak into terror as he realized who he was staring at. The girl who was going to end his life. The girl who had ended the lives of all his colleagues. The girl he’d clearly underestimated if he was so carelessly under-guarded.
“Surprise.” She whispered just before she pulled the trigger. With one last swift motion, and a very loud thud, he was gone just like all the rest.
She eyed him for a few more moments, catching her breath from the adrenaline rush and then met the terrified, teary gaze of the girl on the bed. Ember tucked her gun away and rushed forward, “Time to go.”
The window had been her escape plan. She’d hidden a rope out on the balcony days in advance. She counted every minute it would have taken her to get out to make sure she went unnoticed. But…
But then there was the girl. A factor she did not consider when she was planning her escape. She would have been long gone by now if she were alone. If she were sticking to the plan. But there was no way she could leave the girl alone in that room. So, she cut the rope around her wrists and ankles with shaking hands, knowing she had little time. When the girl hesitated after being set free, Ember met the fearful, teary-eyed teenager.
“I can get you out, but we have to be quick,” Ember whispered. The girl glanced at the door, possibly trying to weigh her chances with the mysterious woman that had just murdered someone right in front of her. Ember grew desperate when she began to hear footsteps. “I promise I won’t let anything happen to you. But we have to go now.”
The girl looked up into Ember’s eyes again, and there must have been something she saw there because she placed her smaller, freezing hand into Ember’s and nodded her head.
Within seconds they were out on the balcony and Ember was checking to make sure her escape plan was still in place. Ten more seconds and the rope was tied to the edge and tossed over the side. She omitted the stashed gloves from her plan with ease, knowing she’d regret that decision later, but there just wasn’t any extra time to spare anymore. Luckily for the both of them, they were only three stories up. She didn’t feel all that lucky when she heard knocking on the door, though.
“Hold on to me.” Ember muttered through her teeth, gripping the rope with both hands as the girl clung to her neck for dear life. Ember flew over the side of the balcony just as the knocking on the door turned into pounding. 
When they got to the bottom, and Ember’s hand’s were burning and bloody, she grabbed the girl and flattened the both of them against the wall, hidden beneath the overhang of the second-story balcony. 
“Shh,” she pulled the girl close and held her hand over her mouth firmly to stifle the hysterics coming out of her. Ember peered out to keep an eye on the balcony they’d escaped from and within seconds, she heard the footsteps and watched as her rope disappeared back up to the third story. If she had run, she never would have made it far enough without being caught. Without being shot at. And considering she wasn’t alone, she hadn’t been willing to risk it. She just hoped they assumed she was long gone by now.
She waited quietly and the girl started to calm down after the initial shock of free falling down a raggedy rope settled. The man up above was speaking to someone over the phone it seemed, but Ember couldn’t make out a word of it. 
The wheels in her mind turned quickly, as they needed to. She needed a new plan. How to escape. Where to hide next. What in the hell she was going to do with the girl besides making sure she kept her promise.
When the voices faded, and after another half a second of listening just to be sure, Ember turned to the girl, whispering, “Can you run?”
The girl nodded. Her cheeks were hallowed and the fingers that folded in between Ember’s as she pulled her along behind her were bony and fragile now that Ember was paying attention. She wished she could turn back time and kill Edmond Wallis all over again. And then anyone else involved, beginning with Paul for his apparent role in arranging the whole thing. 
They ran along Ember’s escape route, keeping to the shadows of the alleyway and staying off the main road for as long as she could manage before she had no choice but to cross it. They didn’t make it that far, though, when a car burnt rubber as it entered the alley ahead of them. Ember’s legs jolted to a stop and the girl slammed into her shoulder. With a quick glance, she looked behind them and tried to find another way.
She pulled the girl in the opposite direction and soon realized it had been her first mistake of the night. One of the men in the car had emerged with a gun and managed to sink a bullet into the girl’s leg. She dragged Ember down the ground, wailing in pain on the rain-slicked asphalt. 
“You need to get up. Come on.” Ember took on most of the girls’ weight, pulling her back onto her feet. She knew they couldn’t outrun the car, but she’d be damned if she didn’t put up a fight. 
She twisted around, blocking the girl’s body with her own as she aimed her gun, taking out the man who’d shot at them with one single bullet to the head. Another man emerged and, just as quickly, he hit the ground as well. She pulled the girl closer and made to run as fast as she could.
But then there was a voice that echoed through the entire alleyway and sent chills down her spine.
“Ember.” 
And she paused. Another mistake. As if her first mistake hadn’t already broken her promise to the young girl. She was trying to focus on what was important, though, and that was getting them both out alive. She could deal with the guilt of getting the girl shot later.
She turned toward the voice, however. Her last mistake.
The girl was pulled from her grasp and when she realized what was happening, it was too late. Wallis’ guard, Julius, had snuck up behind them while she’d been distracted. 
While she let herself be distracted.
“Let her go!” Ember shouted, pointing her gun at Julius’ head even though he was using the girl as a shield.
Then the other voice sounded again, its familiarity haunting her as it drew closer this time. “You were Dominic’s pride and joy… and now look at you.” She glanced over her shoulder at the other man. He was tall, his voice deep and rough that aged him to his forties. But… unrecognizable. How did she know him—and how did he know Dominic?
She said nothing. Gave them nothing they could use against her. The man nodded toward the girl. “He didn’t teach you well enough, it seems. If you would have left the girl, we would have spared her life.” 
By the time the sound left Ember’s mouth, it was too late. Not even her echoing, desperate effort to protest could muffle the sound of the girl’s neck cracking just before her lifeless body thudded to the ground. Ember stared at her in shock, the whole rest of the world seeming to move in slow motion suddenly. Every one of her decisions over the past hour flashed before her eyes. Which one of those choices had led to this ending? Which uncalculated mistake had ended that girls’ life? Ember hadn’t even known her name. Would never know her name. 
Would have to live with the fact that she’d promised nothing would happen to the girl and fucked up more miserably than she ever had.
The worst of all of it was that the girl had probably spent most of her life shackled by men. How long had she been held captive? How long had she suffered, all to end up here. Dead in an alleyway before she even got a chance. 
And it was all Ember’s fault.
She fell to her knees, wrapping her hand around the girl’s bony one again. She didn’t care if she was about to be shot or strangled or killed. No one deserved to die this way. Alone and forgotten and nameless. Especially not after being given hope that Ember could get her out alive. 
The girl’s death had driven the knife in, and the stupid, foolish promise Ember failed to deliver had twisted it. She couldn’t even feel if her heart was beating anymore. Didn’t want it to beat because if anyone had to die tonight, it should have been her. 
Ember tightened her grip around her gun and lifted it, aiming right at Julius and not even thinking for a another second before she pulled the trigger as she stood back up on wobbly knees. His body joined the asphalt within seconds.
Then there was laughter and Ember pointed her gun at the unrecognizable man as tears flooded down her face. He just stood there, not at all afraid of her, and smiled. It could have been her shaking hands that made her a little less intimidating, though.
He took a step toward her. “Put the gun down, Ember.”
“So you can kill me?” Her voice shook with a million different overwhelming emotions.
“I have no need to,” his smile grew again as he pocketed his hands in his trousers, “the guilt will eat you alive soon enough.” 
He was right, she could already feel it. Not even killing Julius had settled the score. His hands might’ve done it, but he wasn’t the only one responsible. It didn’t help that whoever this man was, he hadn’t even tried to protect Julius. She might’ve just done his job for him.
She lowered her gun and fell back to the ground beside the girl, not caring what would happen to her next. 
Instead of hands grabbing her to haul her away like she’d expected, she heard footsteps as they retreated, then the whirring of an engine and the screeching of tires. She didn’t once look up. 
Ember knew the girl’s blood was on her, that she was soaked in it. That she was the reason the girl was laying amongst the trash and the sewage without a heartbeat. That she’d never even get a chance at freedom. That she’d never get older, never even turn twenty-one, never see a day in this world where someone wasn’t trying to harm her. And what good was Ember when she failed so horrifically at one simple promise.
*                                              *                                 *
Ember awoke to crashes and shouts, the familiar scents cluing her in and settling her nerves once she realized where she was. 
After the alley, she’d gone home. She’d thrown her clothes in the garbage and changed into an old grey hoodie and a ripped pair of jeans. The apartment was too quiet, and so… so fucking empty that all she did was fill every corner with her thoughts. 
She deserved to be strewn on the ground of some gritty alleyway.
She deserved to be cold and alone and without her heartbeat.
She wanted to tear her insides out so they’d stop keeping her alive. 
There was nothing she could do. She didn’t even know the girl’s name or where she came from. She couldn’t even give her a proper burial. Someone would take care of her body along with the others and she’d just… disappear forever. She didn’t deserve that life or that death. 
And once Ember could no longer stand to be inside her own head, she took herself to Tito’s.
The bar was rough, full of all the worst kinds of people in the city at this time of night, but she hadn’t cared. She just wanted liquor. All of it. The more it burned, the better. 
And then she’d passed out. 
“Hey,” a hand gripped her shoulder and shook. 
Her reflexes were still somewhat intact and she swung a fist toward the voice but another hand gripped her wrist before her knuckles made contact.
“Woah, I’m just trying to help, Em.”
“I don’t need any help.” Her words didn’t come out as polished as she’d hoped, nor did it register that this was someone she knew if he’d used her nickname.
“Yeah, it sure sounds like it.” He released her and she flung back down onto the bar. She heard a grunt and then footsteps. His voice sounded familiar once she finally thought about it and after a few moments, she realized why as he slammed a glass of water down in front of her from the other side of the counter.
“Sit up and drink this.” He demanded and she wasn’t sure why, but she did what he said. He hadn’t been the one to serve her all night, but she knew him. She’d been to Tito’s before on other hopeless nights and he’d called her a cab once or twice. There must’ve been a shift change while she was out cold.
“I imagine it was real bad if you were passed out before I even clocked in.” He ran a wet rag along the top of the bar where she’d been drooling the past hour as Ember downed the glass of water in one go.
“Just getting an early start.” She grinned at him. Nick was somewhere around her age, and definitely a sight for sore eyes. And she imagined hers were quite sore, if the grimace he made when he looked into them meant anything. 
“You’re either having a terrible allergic reaction, or you’ve been crying for hours.” 
Her smile faltered. “M’not allergic to anything.”
His concern only worsened. “What happened?”
She just shook her head and handed him back the glass. “Just give me another one of these and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“At least let me call you a cab.” He took the glass and refilled it.
She didn’t argue, mostly because she knew she wouldn’t make it home on her feet, nor was she even sure she had a phone on her to call herself her own cab.
She finished off her second round of water and then dropped her head onto the pillow of her crossed arms, closing her eyes as she mumbled, “Let me know when it gets here.” 
*                                              *                                 *
Harry’s neck ached and his back was begging him to find a better position. He almost thought about breaking through the doors and getting the job done and over with if he had to sit, hunched over his steering wheel for much longer.
He’d followed her from her apartment, where he’d waited equally as long for her to come home. He’d watched her from the building across the street as she changed her clothes right in front of her floor length windows, averting his eyes until she was decent again and stuffing weapons into her usual hiding places. Then he watched as she threw her dress and fishnets in the garbage, growing slightly more interested in what the hell she was doing. 
And lastly, he watched as she stood in the middle of the living room and stared at a wall for what felt like an eternity. He had no idea where she’d just come from, but whatever it was, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.  
Of course, then there was Tito’s, which he’d cursed at her for. He wasn’t sure why he cared that she was walking herself into one of the worst bars in southeast Kypa, but something inside of him wanted to waltz in behind her and steer her back to the safety of her building.
Perhaps it was the fact that he’d let her see him last night and he was still wondering if she’d felt what he had when their eyes finally met. She’d never once spotted him in the past few days he’d been trailing her, but last night, he… he had no fucking idea what he’d been thinking. 
He straightened and gripped the steering wheel as a cab pulled up in front of the bar. Moments later, she was being hauled into the back seat by the bartender, a rather bulky dude even Harry himself wouldn’t mess with. Harry kept his eyes forward, even as he reached for his gearshift and switched his car into drive. It was late, and he wouldn’t be as inconspicuous with less cars on the road, but if she was as drunk as she looked, he was sure she wouldn’t notice anyway.
Not that she hadn’t already seen his face and was possibly already paranoid about him following her.
He cleared his head and kept a safe distance behind the cab, memorizing the identification numbers printed on the bumper just in case he lost track of it. But that proved to be a waste of brainpower when the cab pulled off to the side of the road up ahead of him, pass the red light he was stuck at, and she came fumbling out of the back seat and onto the curb. He glanced up at the street sign and around at the buildings surrounding them, wondering if he’d been so engulfed in following the cab that he hadn’t realized she’d already gotten home. But, when he saw they were still many blocks away from her building, and she didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was incapacitated and alone on an empty, poorly lit street, approaching a group of men, his heart began to race. 
When the light turned green, he took off, finding a side street close by to back his car into a parking spot. He flipped off his lights and then the engine and waited. It went against his every instinct to just sit and watch as she walked herself into trouble, but… he wasn’t exactly here to save her life. In fact… if it was trouble she was seeking, she should have crossed the street and met up with him instead.
His heart still pounded in his chest and he fought against every muscle that begged him to leap from his car and race across the street to save her.
She could handle herself and he knew that. It settled his nerves. He knew each and every weapon she had on her body, and where exactly the knives and guns were located. She was just blowing off steam. Possibly looking to start a fight with people who might actually be a match for her. 
Even so, he couldn’t help but worry about her safety.
Which was… ridiculous. He knew that.
But, then again, she stared blankly at a wall for entire twenty-five minutes, so he had no idea what she was about to do. 
His hands tightened around the steering wheel. Why couldn’t she just have gone home?
*                                              *                                 *
Ember slowed to a stop at the entrance of the alley just as the three men noticed her. Then she smiled as they took the bait, approaching her like she was the sad little bunny that had just stepped into their trap.
The man who walked slightly ahead of the other two eyed her up and down. “You lost, pretty girl?”
Her smile widened. “Nope.”
His brow flickered and he crossed his arms. “You reek of whiskey and…” he leaned in a bit closer and sniffed, “death.”
“And you reek of another man’s cock. Is that what the three of you were doing before I got here? Having a little circle jerk in the corner over there?” She nodded toward the trashcan the men had been huddled beside moments ago.
The man up front gritted his teeth. “Oh, she’s got a mouth, huh?”
“Least I don’t use mine to suck off my friends in an alley at two in the morning.” She was glad it didn’t take much more than that. He came at her and her fingers twitched to deflect the blow she’d rightfully earned, but she didn’t allow herself to block or fight back. He punched her square in the face, leaving a nasty cut on her cheekbone. And when she stumbled toward him again, still very much drunk, she laughed.
“What wimpy little muscles you have, barely even left a dent.” 
He cocked a brow and the corners of his lips kicked up in a smirk, “Would you like to find out what else I can do?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have a dick for you to suck.” She laughed again and that was most definitely the wrong thing to say, because he was on her this time. All three of them were. They shoved her against the brick wall and she could practically hear her spine yelling out in pain. She ignored it though, just as she ignored the pain of her head being beaten against the wall, the punches to her face, the jabs to her abdomen, the kicks to her shins. It was easy to ignore when she was numb. When she wanted this. Wanted to be beaten to nothing but a sad lifeless form.
The back of her head collided against the brick once more and it was hard enough this time to cause her vision to blur. She smiled as she began to lose consciousness, hoping it would just end soon. That was all she wanted. 
Then there were no longer any hands on her, no fists rearranging her facial features, and she was falling to the ground quickly. There was a shout and then a snap, grunting and then a thud. Footsteps and a muffled, “Shit,” in a deep, wary voice. Then it was quiet. An unfamiliar scent filled her nostrils and brought her back for just a moment. Just long enough to blink her eyes open underneath inflamed skin and catch a glimpse of emerald green before she was surrounded by darkness again.
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thinkingoutlouddblog · 15 hours ago
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Harry Fic Recs #3
It has been far too long since I have done one of these posts, especially considering how many amazing fics I have read between now and my last recommendation post. There are definitely fics I will miss and this is a reflection only on my memory and probably how long ago I read them. There is a plethora of truly exceptional works on tumblr, each of them requiring huge amounts of effort to be delivered to us as readers cost free so please please take the time to thank writers for fics you love, and at the very least give them a like (and a reblog, we love those too!).
Without further ado, I present fics that I adore!
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First of all, a couple fanfictions from Wattpad because I have finally started reading fics from there for the first time since 2014. If you like me didn’t cross over to wattpad, I recommend you do so for these fics in particular. 
Stall by @/MysteryMixtapes - a lot of people reading this list probably think this is an obvious one but I had honestly never even heard of any wattpad fics until the end of last year so there might be someone else in the same boat as me. This is nice and long, dark but also very fun and humorous at times. It is the best of both worlds in a lot of ways. You get to see dark and gritty mob!H but also some very sweet moments. The writing is outstanding, some of the absolute best that is around in fanfiction anywhere today. I don’t want to give too much away, so just believe me when I say this is a must read.
Aerial by @/peanutboyfriend - this story is simply gorgeous down to its every detail. Set in 60s Malibu, this story follows Harry and an original main character who have been thrown together as aerial performers in the circus. This book throws you into a perfectly crafted world that is simply beautiful. I often found myself wanting to step right in. It is slow burn, full of tension, twists, sickly sweet moments and also angst.
!Kinda spoilers! What these two books have in common is what I believe to be an accurate depiction of navigating a romantic relationship and the ups and downs of trying to create a healthy dynamic, and often having to get things very wrong before you get them right.
Now back to my tumblr fam! I am going to list first the user and then their fics that I recommend in particular, but I honestly recommend everything on these lovely people’s masterlists.
@moonchildstyles
Aster - absolutely stunning tattoo artist!h fic, I could say so much but I don’t want to give too much away. But we start with y/n starting to make her own way in the world when she meets Harry, who is a bit of a dick to her even though she has a crush on him. The main character is so sweet in this, and it is all so beautifully written, I loved every word.
Chiaroscuro - suuuuuuuch an addictive vampire!h fic. My only qualm with this series is that it was not longer because I could honestly read about this little world forever. We start with y/n on the job hunt when she stumbles upon a live in house keeper position. Niall, who is handling the hiring for his friend, is lovely but something doesn’t seem quite right with this beautiful home or its handsome owner. 
@jawllines
Harry hates the other camp counselors and Y/N is very optimistic - this fic was so freaking sweet, a lovely bit of protective!h, squishable reader and just a fun vibe. All of her fics are really nice and long, and build beautiful worlds which you could practically step inside.
Here is her masterlist because all her writing is fabulous, all her stories are so original, well-written and gripping. I could sit her and list ten different stories I could just cut out the middle man and send you straight to her masterlist because you won’t find a single story on there you won’t love.
@sunflowervolvimp3 + @adashofniallandasprinkleoflunacy
You’re Someone I Just Want Around - I actually don’t have the vocabulary to express how much I am loving this story. These two lovelies are writing this gorgeous vamp!h fic together. They are serving slow burn, friends with benefits, secretly a vampire Harry with a dark past, who is, of course, in denial of his own feelings. This story is so fun, sexy and sweet, I am loving every moment and can’t wait to see what happens next. 
Both these lovely authors do some of my favourite tropes and aus in their solo writings so I am just going to say check out both of their masterlists (sunflower...) and (adashof...)
@angelisverba
Thinkin’ Bout You - holy fucking shitballs I can’t recommend this enough. This is about Florist!H who is a total freaking sweetie and has a giant crush on one of his new customers. The character creation was gorgeous, and every word painted the prettiest picture of this little world. Simply lovely, from start to finish.
@havethetimeofyourstyles 
Say It - sparks fly in the restaurant when Harry is assigned to show the new waitress the ropes. I adored this fic, it has that perfect blend of angst and freshly blooming romance (and also got a little bit saucy which we all love to see). Gorgeous fic, I cannot recommend it enough.
Pebbles and the Scarecrow - this fic had me absolutely squealing over how cute it was. I love halloween!harry. I love dad!harry. The two together, especially executed so well just melts my brain. This was actually unbearably cute. Co-ordinated costumes. Teacher!harry. Need I say more stop reading me talking about and go read it right now.
@majorharry
Fairies First - the absolute sweetest dad to be!h and pregnant!reader. Super cute and so well written, as is every fic on her masterlist. Read them all but also here are some more of my personal faves
The Thrill of the Chase - I literally read this first thing this morning when I woke up and saw it had been posted and I adore it! We have hunter!harry which is a trope I feel like you never see but based on this fic alone, I am obsessed. It’s a lowkey cottagecore vibe so if that’s what you’re into, you will love it.
@harry-writings​ 
Drive Me Wild - in which harry has trouble expressing emotions and reader talks too much. Okay I was so obsessed with this fic and could read a full length book of this au. Quiet!h and super chatty!yn are the cutest combination and the angst hurts so good my god. But also the fluff warms my soul.
The Mute Series - where Harry doesn’t talk and falls in love with y/n. I think I’ve read this fic at least three times. We have mute!harry, college!harry, and just overall sweet, shy lovely, Harry. This fic is gorgeous, it tugs on your heartstrings so aggressively and I just love it to pieces. 
Once again, these are some of my favourite writers on tumblr, and these are simply some of my favourites of all their works and I recommend going through their whole masterlists. 
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theharriediaries · 20 hours ago
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the sun sets in the east (h.s.)
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summary: queen bellona’s kingdom has been at war for longer than she, or anybody for that matter, can remember. she says she would go to any lengths to end the bloodshed, but an arranged marriage with her worst enemy in the world may prove to be too far. 
word count: 9.2k 
a/n: hi! as promised, here is part one of my new series feat enemies to lovers, royalsrry, otherwise known as gotrry because I have not stopped watching game of thrones and I don’t see that fixation dying anytime soon. I am so so so excited to share this with you, I am immensely proud of it, and I'm already in love with Bellona, our beautiful MC. a massive thank you to @nationalharryleague , @sweetcreatureinthedark , and @truckerhatharry for beta reading this and getting me all kinds of hyped to post this. You all mean the world to me I cannot begin to express. ok, y’all know the drill. come chat if you’re as excited as I am! and REBLOG!!!! I am stuck in my shoebox room with ms rona this is quite literally the least you could do to make me smile right about now. can’t wait to scream with y’all later xx soph 
my masterlist | add yourself to my taglist | my inbox 
//
In the Early Years, the Land of Two Kings was overrun with civil war. The South against the North, family against family, brother against brother. To spare their people and find a way towards peace, the two kings split their kingdom in half: Gloaming in the North, Lacuna in the South, separated by a wall through the middle of the land. But even with the stony facade of Felix’s Wall to keep tensions apart, the people of the two kingdoms still could not find peace. The king in the South believed he had not received a fair share in the land, and sent an invasion to Gloaming’s capital of Loon to raid and loot the castle. Furious that the South would attempt something so barbaric, the king in the North declared war on his Southern brothers. So began the Blood Wars.
In the beginning, both sides fought tooth and nail, spurred by pride in their kingdom, and hatred for the other side. But now, more than two hundred years later, with no end in sight, neither army really knows the reason for their feud. But arrogance and the threat of a tarred reputation kept the ruling families at each other's throats, and no matter how much each kingdom might want to give up the fight, they'd never admit that aloud.
So the war waged on. The mud around Felix’s Wall ran red with blood, and the highlands of Gloaming became dotted white with grave markers. It drove a wedge further between the two kingdoms, turning hatred into stewing rage, set to simmer for hundreds of years. No self respecting Gloamand would ever step foot on the other side of the wall, and the same could be said for the Lacunites. The two kingdoms couldn’t be more different. And they liked it that way.
Gloaming was dark, misty, cold. The fog rolled off the craggy mountains in the morning, kissing the tips of evergreen trees in the forests, and tickling the noses of sheep grazing on bluffs of wild mountain thyme and purple heather. Glassy lakes glimmered in meadowed valleys, and stone grey waves lapped at gravel beaches beneath steep white cliffs.
The people were grey too. Bundled in jackets of thick, dyed wool, they worked hard, scarring their hands on fish hooks and looms, farm fences and hay bales. They were a calloused group of long whiskers, thick plaits, and deep throaty accents that could be best appreciated on a Saturday night when the pubs overflowed with folk song and melodic violin.
If Gloaming was frosty, Lacuna radiated with warmth from the golden beaches to the copper shingles on the roofs of the towns. If Gloaming was dusk, Lacuna was dawn, glowing opal and topaz, sunshine radiating from the glossy leaves of palm trees. If Gloaming was neutral, greens and greys, Lacuna was vibrant, blossoming in every color of the rainbow, and with every mineral in the mines, a diamond so bright it could be seen by ships from leagues away. It was the land of merchants, painters, musicians, and architects. Ships came to its ports from across the world, bringing silk, coffee, and rich spices. Music played on every street corner, while children danced barefoot on the sidewalk, skipping in circles while the flutist stamped his foot in time with a drum.
Lacuna was a place of song. Even the hunters in the forest and the men deep in the mines searching for diamonds whistled a tune while they worked. And on parade days, the sound of lutes and raised voices could be heard clearly from even the tallest of the mountains that towered marble and sandstone over the golden valley.
In her pearly palace in the city of Kef, the queen, Bellona Einar, ruled with a delicate hand and a firm voice. To her people, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Girls brushed out their eyebrows to match her thick and full black brows. Seamstresses in the capital frantically turned out silky, flowing frocks for the people to match her most recent ballgown. And mothers bought tiny silver stars to pin in the locks of their daughters’ hair, “because Queen Bellona is coming to town! I bet she wears her stars today.”
If her beauty was stunning, her intelligence was overwhelming. She was known for her strategism, her ferocity in battle, and the endless streams of wisdom that flowed from her mouth like the waterfalls in the mountains; crisp and clear. If anyone could put an end to the Blood Wars, it was Bellona. Unfortunately, in order to do that, she would need King Harry of Gloaming on her side. And unfortunately again, neither of them would ever stoop so low as to offer their services to the other.
Like their people, Bellona and Harry detested one another, as their parents had before them, and their parents before that. For one to surrender to the other, or suggest a compromise, would be the same as turning belly up and handing their enemy a knife for which to slash them open with.
Bellona vowed never to let herself give in to the King in the North. He was arrogant, conniving, living up to his family sigil of the red fox in every way possible. He couldn’t be trusted, not in times of war or times of peace, Bellona knew that much. True, they had met only once at a ball for all the young lords and ladies of the land. But that one interaction had been enough to tell her all she needed to know about the King of the North.
//
Every year, the great families of Deroix sent their children to the neighboring kingdom of Balter, to meet, mingle, and hopefully find a suitable match for marriage. It was less of a ball than it was battle strategy-- who could they form alliances with, whose daughter could they trade for more soldiers, whose son had the most right to his family inheritance. Bellona despised the whole thing.
She used to like dressing up and brushing her hair until it shone, admiring the way the sun and moon clips sparkled in her dark tresses. She used to like the dancing, feeling the fabric of her skirts swirl gracefully around her ankles. She used to like to giggle with her friends- Ladies Cassia and Livia of the House Regalia- and making eyes at the boys from across the room. As a young girl it had felt magical, grown up, something to look forward to every year.
But as she got older, the magic began to flicker and die. It felt more and more like a task, like a part of the war, a favor she had to do for her parents. On her seventeenth birthday, her parents pulled her aside and reminded her that in a year she would be eighteen, legally an adult, with no match for marriage. It was clear what the point of their lecture was. That year, the Balter Ball became a mission-- find the most eligible lord in the room, and secure his proposal in marriage.
Bellona sighed, smoothing the front of her gown as the horses pulling her carriage clopped to a halt in front of the Balter palace. The opal facade loomed over shining marble steps where lords and ladies picked their way up to the grand entrance. The entire scene glittered with diamonds from the mines of Lacuna, pearls from the shores of Gloaming, sapphires from the mountains of Dune. She recognized the mustard yellow skirts of the children of the House Starling, the tall hairdos of the daughters of Baird, the emerald jackets of the sons of Schoen. Suddenly she felt her chest tighten.
“Enzo,” she whispered loudly to her footman, “Enzo?”
The large moustache appeared at her window, “Yes, my lady?”
“Would it be terrible if we turned around and went back to the inn?” She mumbled, looking away from the bright scene on the steps.
Enzo chuckled, “If it were up to me, princess, we would do just as you like. But alas, both of us are here on your mother’s orders. If we turned around now, she would have both our heads.”
Bellona grimaced, “I am sort of fond of my head.”
“As am I, princess,” Enzo bowed, “Tell you what. Stay for an hour or two. If you still feel like going home, I’ll take you back to the inn. But maybe you’ll change your mind.”
Bellona sighed, “That sounds fine. I suppose I could do that.”
“Good,” the footman nodded, pulling the carriage door open and holding a gloved hand out to her, “Shall we then, princess?”
She takes it gingerly, “Promise me you’ll wait for me?” She pleaded as her pale blue skirts brushed the ground.
Enzo bowed before her, “Of course, my lady.”
Bellona heaved as deep a breath as she could beneath her corsets, and gathering a handful of her embroidered dress between her gloved fingers, began to ascend the gleaming stairs. At the top, two guards pulled open the great golden doors to reveal an empty foyer lined with impressive bouquets of flowers and a trickling fountain in the center. The heels on her dancing slippers clicked across the floor to a set of mahogany doors flanked by footmen.
As she approached, they stepped aside, pulling the doors open, and loudly announced,
“Princess Bellona of House Einar, heir to the throne of Lacuna, Jewel of the South.”
The ballroom on the other side of the door fell silent, the chatter instantaneously dissolving in air soaked with champagne and perfume. Bellona lifted her chin proudly, and stepped into the ballroom. She could feel a thousand eyes on her as she descended the curving staircase, analysing the stitching in her train, scrutinizing the drape of her necklace, studying the curve of her cheek, the arch of her eyebrow, the part in her hair. She was used to this sort of entrance. But when it was a room of her peers, people her own age, she couldn’t help but feel self conscious.
By the time she reached the bottom of the stairs, the room was filled with conversation once again. The quartet in the corner struck up a lively waltz and the young aristocrats flooded the dancefloor. Bellona fiddled with the tips of her gloves and plucked a flute of champagne from a passing waiter. Before she could raise the glass to her lips, a flurry of pink organza and blonde curls swing into view.
“Bellona!” a cheery voice rung in her ears, like windchimes.
Bellona smiled warmly, turning to look into her friend’s face, flushed with champagne and excitement, “Cassia! Oh, it’s so good to see you. Where’s Livia?”
Cassia smiled and pointed with a delicate finger towards her twin, wearing an identical dress to her sister, but in purple. On either side of the slender shoulders stood two young men in dark yellow suit coats.
“Starling boys,” Bellona shook her head, “She could do much better than that. The Northern lords don’t deserve her.”
Cassia shrugged, “I don’t know. The one on the right is handsome enough.”
Bellona examined the figure, tall, all limbs, with hair like the mud at a battleground an hour after defeat- reddish-brown, sticking in all directions. She grimaced, “I’ve seen better.”
The blonde nudged her friend with a chastising hip, “Well, we can’t all be you Princess. Any man would cross oceans for you.”
Bellona smiled at her glass, “As men should do for the hand of a lady.”
Cassia sighed, her breath sending ripples across the basin of her glass, “Mother and Father say this will be Livia and my last ball.”
Bellona frowned, “What do you mean?”
“They say I have to find a husband come my birthday in the fall. Livia too.” Cassia murmurs, “They say there’s nothing left for me at Sandrea. They say I must find a husband or they’ll send me to the convents in the mountains.”
Bellona gasped, “They wouldn’t.”
Cassia nodded sadly, “When we were younger, finding a husband seemed like an adventure, or a game… now it just feels like a threat.”
“I’ll never take a husband,” Bellona muttered, “I don’t care what Mother and Father say. I’ll abdicate if they make me. I’m their only heir. What kind of choice do they have?”
“I wish it was like that. But Stavos is the heir to Sandrea, so… I suppose I have no other options.”
“Nonsense,” Bellona chided, tapping her friend on the shoulder, “You can come and live with me in Kev. I’ll make you the mistress of something. Architecture, maybe? Your drawings of the towers at Sandrea are so beautiful.”
Cassia blushed, “I’d like that.”
“Very well, it’s decided. When I become queen, you will be my royal architect.”
Before Cassia could respond, a black and gold brocade jacket materialized in front of them.
“Lady Cassia,” the jacket bowed, “Princess Bellona.”
The two girls curtsied. Bellona smiled coyly at him, “You seem to know our names. Now, might we have the pleasure of knowing yours?”
The boy clasped his hands in front of him, “Hugo Dogan, my lady. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
“And what brings you to our side of the ballroom, Lord Hugo?” Cassia asked, smiling up at the brown eyes.
“I have come to ask for your next dance, Lady Cassia.”
Bellona nudged her friend with a sly foot.
“I gladly accept, my lord.” Cassia curtsied, taking the outstretched hand before tossing an open mouthed look over her shoulder at Bellona.
Bellona giggled, swaying side to side as the strings began a languid folk dance. She recognized it, tapping her toes against the floor in the steps she had learned by heart as a young girl.
“Care to dance, my lady?”
She looked to the side. There stood Stavos, Cassia’s younger brother, waiting with his arm held out to her, turquoise sleeves glittering in the candlelight from the chandelier. Stavos was handsome, there was no doubt about it. His hair fell to his shoulders, fair and wavy. While his sisters’ eyes sparkled turquoise like the waters off of Crystal Beach, Stavos’ eyes were a stormy navy, like midnight over the mountains. He was kind, humorous, intelligent. All the girls in the city of Sandrea swooned when he passed through on his white stallion. Even Bellona’s handmaidens thought he was the most handsome boy they’d ever met. To Bellona, though, Stavos might as well be the little brother she never had.
“Stavos,” she smiled, taking the younger boy’s arm, “I was hoping you’d save a dance for me.”
Stavos flushed at the ground, “Happy to be of service, my lady.”
Bellona tittered, “Stavos, you know you can call me Belle. None of this ‘my lady’ business.”
He shrugged, “I know. Just feels a bit odd doing it out in public like this.”
“Don’t be silly,” Bellona said, picking up her skirts as the younger boy grasped her waist, “I’ve known you since you were a boy. It would be odd to hear you call me anything else.”
Stavos was quiet for a moment, then, “I’m glad you’re here, Belle. Honestly, I almost didn’t come at all this evening.”
She frowned up at him, “And why’s that?”
He shrugged, “You know balls aren’t exactly my specialty-”
She did know that. Stavos would sooner spend a fortnight shut up in his room with his books, or riding out in the woods with no one but his favorite horse than he would voluntarily accept an invitation to a ball. Bellona imagined the only reason he’s here at all is because his mother forbade him from turning the invitation down.
“- Just don’t like the dressing up and talking to people. And all the… attention.”
“You mean from the girls,” Bellona snorted in a way her mother would describe as ‘most unladylike,’ “Come now, Stavos. Can you blame them? What, with a handsome fellow like you, they can’t help it.”
For the second time in her company, Stavos flushed, “Well, I wish they could.”
Bellona couldn’t help but giggle at his discomfort, “I have missed you.”
“And I you, Belle. Say, when are you coming to Sandrea again? I found a new secret beach in the cove I want to show you. Looks great for horse racing, we-”
“Oh, I wish I could say soon, dear Stavos. But now that I’m nearly of age, Father wants me by his side as much as possible. That, or fielding possible suitors.” She wrinkled her nose at the thought.
“Oh right,” Stavos pursed his lips, looking around nervously, “Listen, Belle, I’ve been thinking lately. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to go through all the courtship nonsense?”
Bellona laughed aloud, “I would like to see that world too, my friend.”  
“No, that’s not what I meant,” he shook his head, “I mean what if I- if we-”
“Care if I cut in?”
The two heads jerk to the side to see a Schoen boy smirking at Stavos’ shoulder.
Bellona smiled grimly at her partner, “Thank you, Lord Stavos. It’s always a pleasure.”
“The pleasure was mine, princess.” With a bow of his head, and a firm kiss to the bridge of her knuckles, Stavos took his leave, making way for the Schoen boy (who introduced himself as Petyr) to grasp her firmly by the waist and whisk her about the ballroom in a dizzying waltz that left her gasping for breath in the corner.
After Petyr was Lord Hestor Wickin from the foothills of the South who was handsome enough, but couldn’t seem to get any kind of conversation out beyond, “So, er, my lady?” Once Hestor tired of attempting a dialogue with her, he made way for Duke Bryon of Lantus who was a much better conversationalist, but approximately six inches shorter than Bellona, hardly tall enough to look her in the eye. Then there was Ser Petron who tried to kiss her in the middle of a tango, Lord Saffrin who spat when he talked and reeked of rum, and Prince Fillon, who seemed determined to trod on every one of Bellona’s toes before their journey around the ballroom was over.
Feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, and bruised, she retired to a corner of the room next to a large window from which she could see the rose gardens below, and a white arbor covered in what looks like wisteria, though in the dull light it is hard to tell. She was just debating over whether it is in fact wisteria or a climbing lilac when someone cleared their throat beside her.
“Hiding, my lady?”
She started, nearly dropping her dancing card on the floor next to her.
“Pardon me, princess, I didn’t mean to scare you.” The voice said sheepishly.
“No, no,” Bellona shook her head, gathering herself, “That’s alright, I was lost in thought I suppose.”
Her company stepped closer towards her so that in the dim candlelight of the corner, she could make out his features. He was tall, slender, dressed in forest green that matched the mossy color of his eyes. Dark brown curls fell behind his ears and cascaded onto his forehead, though she could tell he had been spending the night fighting against their determined path to cover his eyes. Handsome doesn’t begin to describe him. He was ethereal, bewitching. She was sure she’d seen paintings of him in the friezes at the chapels, or read about him in the golden books of the royal library. She found herself stammering in spite of herself.
“You deserve some time to yourself, I suppose,” the stranger chuckled, “You’ve been on the dancefloor all night, from what I could see.”
Bellona frowned playfully, “Have you been watching me?”
He shrugged, leaning against the wall beside the window and stared down into the garden, “I suppose I have. Can you blame me? You’re easily the most beautiful girl in the room.”
She fought choking on her glass, “My lord, you flatter me.”
“No, I wouldn’t dream of it,” he smirked, though not in an evil way. The look made her toes curl in her slippers, “And don’t call me that, I’m not… that.”
“Well, what should I call you then?”
“Harry, just Harry,” he smiled, extending a hand to her, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Princess Bellona.”
“And you as well Harry, just Harry.” She giggled, allowing him to press a kiss into her gloved hand.
“I don’t suppose you’d like to brave another dance with me before the night is over?” Harry asked, turning his head as the violins began another waltz, “I do love this song. It seems only appropriate to share it with a beautiful princess such as yourself.”
Bellona’s heart skipped a beat as she pressed her gloved hand to her collarbone, “It would be an honor, Harry.”
He nodded, and guided her into the fray of twirling couples. Perhaps it was the quick spinning, or the overwhelming scent of rose perfume in the room, but Bellona felt as though she might ascend through the ceiling when he looked down the bridge of his nose into her eyes. The only thing keeping her rooted in her body was his firm hand on her waist, and his fingers clasped around her own. His coat smelled of pine and she was close enough to count the tawny freckles beneath his eyes.
“So,” he murmured, “Princess Bellona, the Jewel of the South. How fitting.”
Bellona bit her lip to keep from smiling, “Harry, you needn’t compliment me any longer. I’m afraid my head is going to swell up so big I’ll fall over. “
“Nonsense,” he grinned cheekily, “But tell me, what does the title pertain to? Besides the obvious, of course.”
Bellona took a deep breath, swallowing his flattery to save for lying awake in bed, replaying the events of the evening, “No one thought my mother could have children, all of my siblings died in her belly. They had all but given up on having an heir for Lacuna. And then, somehow, I survived childbirth. All the maesters were sure I wouldn’t make it past childhood, but… Here I am. My parents’ treasure.”
He blinked softly, “Yes here you are. So, I take it you are preparing for your own regency?”
She nodded, “Yes. Father lets me sit in on council meetings and reception of the people sometimes. But, I mostly study with the maesters in the library and learn battle tactics and strategy with the Kingsguard.”
“A princess who fights?” Harry uttered, a bit dumbfounded.
“Why, yes!” Bellona exclaimed, “How am I supposed to command an army if I know nothing about fighting?”
“I bet you look quite fierce sparring, my lady,” Harry commented, “Though I’m sure I could still beat you in a fight.”
Bellona came thudding back down to Earth with a clang. Of course, he wouldn’t be any different than any of the other sexist pigs in fancy jackets that attended these silly parties. She should have seen it in his wandering eyes, and in the way his hand kept traveling further down her waist.
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure,” she warned, hoping her tone didn’t yet sound too venomous, “I’ve trained with some of the best warriors in the kingdom.”
“Really?” Harry quirked an eyebrow, “Name them. Perhaps I’ve heard of them.”
She huffed a breath, “Fiona of Kev and Caylin of Merre.”
“So more women.”
Bellona could feel the anger brewing in her belly. She remembered her mother reminding her that it is not ladylike to raise her voice in public. Instead she took a deep breath and declared, “In the South some of the best fighters in the army are women. Our past two commanders of the Kingsguard have been women.”
Harry raised his eyebrows in thought, “Where I come from, ladies spend most of their time indoors sewing, or out on the terrace pouring tea.”
“And where do you come from exactly, Just Harry?”
Harry breathed a laugh through his nostrils, “The North.”
“Oh.” Bellona grimaced, “I see.”
“What, just because I’m from the North, suddenly I’m not so interesting?” He cried, indignant.
“Oh, no, it’s got nothing to do with you being from the North.” She replied.
Harry frowned, but didn't say anything further. It took them another turn around the room before he spoke again.
“I must say, princess, your dress is the finest of all the other ladies here.”
Her nose began to wrinkle. She caught herself before he looked down into her face again, “Thank you. The seamstresses sent for the fabric from the mainland specially for me.”
It was her favorite dress they had made for her so far. The fabric was light and flowy, perfect for dancing. The flowers were her favorite mixture of colors, and the low neckline made her feel grownup, especially when paired with her mother’s diamond necklace.
“Well, you must give them my compliments. They certainly did your beauty justice.”
Suddenly, she doesn’t love her dress so much. Her skin crawled beneath his hand and when he leaned in to press a kiss by her ear once the final note had faded from the band, she had to resist vomiting on the floor at his feet. Instead, she gave him her best doe-eyed smile, and scurried off in a haste to find Cassia and another glass of wine.
She found the latter first, but Cassia is nowhere to be found. Feeling jilted and incredibly nervous, she sipped at her glass and contemplated sending word for her carriage to meet her at the steps. This year’s crop of gentlemen had been nothing short of disappointing. Certainly none of them husband material, or royalty material at that. She was about to take her leave and have a good cry in her carriage, when a conversation caught her ear.
“Well, well, H,” a Northern boy with long curly hair crowed, “Caught the attention of the princess, did you?”
Harry chuckled while his friend clapped him on the back, “Now, now gentlemen. Let’s not get too excited.”
“Oh, come on then H! What’s she like?” The friend persisted, “What’s the most beautiful woman from here to the mainland like as a dance partner?”
Bellona’s ears perked up. Is that what people called her? Though she knew it was vain-- something her nurse had always told her not to be as a child-- she couldn’t help but feel a little proud of the title.
Harry sniffed and slurped from a glass of wine, “Bit… Stiff?”
Stiff? Stiff? She had been practicing dancing since she was six years old. She knew every regions’ traditional dances backwards and forwards. Plus, that was all very rich coming from a man who seemed more interested in feeling the curve of her body beneath her dress than actually dancing.
While she had been stewing, Harry had begun to speak again.
“Yeah, and a bit full of herself. Don’t think I’ve ever met a lady who’s thought so highly of herself.”
That stung. She had spent her whole life trying to train her confidence to compete with the boys in her father’s palace, trying to prove herself to them. She had been told from a young age that if she couldn’t be strong and stand up for herself, the boys wouldn’t take her seriously. Apparently, that teaching was beginning to backfire.
“Plus, does she have to dress like such a harlot?” Harry whispered, “She does know this is a ball right, and not one of the Southern whorehouses.”
Bellona’s face burned. That was that. While the group of men guffawed at Harry’s comment, Bellona grasped the stem of her glass between firm fingers and marched in their direction. Her target was the fine silk stitching in Harry’s jacket, and the stark white dress shirt beneath. She knew from experience that red wine was harder to get out of fabric than blood, and though she wished she could spill the latter, a half-full glass of the South’s best grapes would have to do. She was close enough now that she can see the leafy designs stitched into the cuffs around his wrists, and smell the wine on his breath.
Without thinking twice, she tripped forward, glass outstretched. Her side of her body collided with his friend’s back, sending the wine glass spinning out of her hand and straight into Harry’s chest. Color bled into his face, matching the spreading stain of red across his front. Bellona’s wine had struck straight and true. She covered her face to hide her laughter and feign embarrassment.
“Oh, I am so, so sorry!” She exclaimed, over Harry’s cry of surprise, “How clumsy of me. Is your shirt ruined?”
Harry glared up at her from brushing off his shirt, “What does it look like to you?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” She stepped closer to him and fussed with the buttons on his shirt, undoing them tucking the shirt further beneath his jacket so that a substantial amount of his-- very firm, she hated to admit-- chest showed underneath, “There, that looks much better. Harlots like myself like when a man shows a bit of skin.”
His face dropped, lips slackening in shock. Point delivered, she patted him lightly on the chest and twirled around so that the ends of her long, black hair whipped him in the face, and sauntered away towards the exit. Though her mother had always warned her against pettiness and vengefulness, the look on his face made her moment of weakness all worth it. She was a princess and she wouldn’t let some lowlife ruin her evening with his hateful comments. She made it to the hallway before her heart rate caught up with her. Leaning against the gold painted wall, she clutched at her chest and tried to steady her breathing. Unfortunately, she didn’t have long to collect herself before Harry burst through the double doors.
“Princess!” He called from behind her, deep voice echoing down the hallway.
She ignored him and began to march away.
“Princess, please wait,” He repeated, “Please, just a moment.”
She shouldn’t have, but she turned around, “What could you possibly have to say that I would want to hear?” She demanded.
He halted in front of her, a bit out of breath, “I’m sorry. For what I said. I didn’t mean any of it, I swear.”
She rolled her eyes, shaking her head, “If you didn’t mean them, you wouldn’t have said them, no?”
Harry pursed his lips, looking around the empty hallway as if searching for the answer to her question in the marble columns and framed paintings.
She narrowed her eyes, “That’s what I thought.” She sighed, gathering her skirts in her fingers to make her exit, “I don’t know if your mother taught you much about speaking to royalty, Harry, but usually you treat them with more respect. I could, after all, have your head on a spike if I wanted-”
He chuckled angrily.
“But don’t worry. The castle gates are ugly enough without your head maring them.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “I know all about your castle gates, Princess. And my mother did teach me about addressing royalty, being one herself.”
Bellona’s breath caught in her throat. Royalty? But hadn’t he said-
“Surprised?” Harry said, angrily, “Yeah, Prince Harry of House Edward, heir to the throne at Loon and Guardian of the North. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” He extended a hand sarcastically for her to shake, fingers quivering in rage.
Bellona recoiled, “But you said you were a commoner!”
“No, I said not to call me lord. You assumed I was a commoner,” he corrected her, “Are you really so self-absorbed you can’t imagine not wanting to be called by your full title?”
She exhaled loudly, like the bulls in her farmer’s stables when they saw something distasteful in their field, “Or, perhaps I assumed you were a commoner because of the way you behave around women. I’ve met stable boys with better manners than you.”
Harry scuffed his feet harshly into the floor, so aggressively Bellona is surprised he doesn’t leave a mark, “You Southern women are all the same. Tell me, does it get exhausting pretending to be above us all every single moment of the day?”
Bellona stiffened, “Oh, and you’re so noble and selfless. I’m amazed your shoulders can still support that big head of yours!”
Harry’s lips were a line in his face. He shook his head, “Look, forget it. I was hoping we could forgive and forget and be friends, but clearly you’re too immature-”
“I will never be your friend,” spat Bellona, “Not until the sun sets in the east and rises in the west, and the sea dries up, and the stars-”
“Yeah, yeah, save your breath,” Harry grunted, already turning to leave, “I’ve got the message.”
Bellona watched him stalk down the hallway, glaring daggers at his retreating back, “You’ll regret this night, Harry Edward. I look forward to the day when my armies conquer your city and lay siege to your castle. It will be my honor to separate your head from your body and bring it home to my people. There will be songs written about your defeat and I will dance to them on the ashes of your kingdom.”
She had half expected him to turn around and come back to scream at her. But he has reached the double doors and yanked them open with a firm hand. Before the heel of his shoe disappeared from view, he halted in the doorway and looked over his shoulder at her, eyes slits beneath glowering brows.
“Long live the Queen.” He hissed, before shutting the door behind him with a click.
//
That had been her first impression of her opponent. In the five years since that interaction, King Harry had given her little indication that anything had changed. He cut off trade to the South by sinking ships bound for Lacuna’s harbour from the mainland. He sabotaged her cousin’s wedding to a Northern lord by sending assassins to the wedding party and slaying both bride and groom in their wedding beds. He took prisoners from the wall and refused to return them to their families, even though he had no real use for them. Bellona figured he was making up for the empty space in his skull by filling his dungeons, and thereby his pride.
True, Bellona was not free of blame for actions against her Northern nemesis. She had deposited spies in every castle in the North, each found out and hanged. Harry had sent her a memento from each one-- a third finger wrapped neatly in a silk cloth. After that, she had upped the anti. Following the brutal death of her cousin, she sent armies to every Northern border village and had them burned to the ground. When that didn’t coax the smug king out of his high castle, she led a siege herself on Castle Roche, just twenty miles North of Felix’s Wall. Her armies had been beaten back and forced to retreat.
Since that battle, neither kingdom had made much move to attack the other. Bellona chalked it up to cowardice on Harry’s part, and Harry the same for her. Both leaders were awaiting some kind of grand plan from the other, and the prolonged silence only made the situation more tense.
Bellona can’t count how many hours she had spent in the council room with her circle of advisors, imagining each possible scenario to come, and the response with which they would defeat the North. It was exhausting work to say the least.
Her favorite way to clear her head was taking walks along the walls of her palace that looked down into the city below. It wasn’t often that her advisors let her go down into the capital, afraid that rebel groups would take that opportunity to strike. But from the sandstone turrets, she could still smell lunch cooking in the taverns and hear the bustle of conversation at the weekend market. It was a welcome break from staring at maps and battle plans at the mahogany desk in her office.
She sighed, settling herself on a bench beneath a lemon tree and arranging her blue gossamer skirts around her crossed ankles. Her lady in waiting, Flavia, joined her.
“Marvelous day, isn’t it Flavia?” Bellona spoke, closing her eyes to drink in the warm sunshine drifting through the leaves of the lemon tree, “It’s a day for riding on the beach, don’t you think?”
Flavia, savvy to her mistress’ distaste for sitting indoors all day, nodded, “Yes, Your Grace. I’d like to go get Armonia from the stables now.”
“I haven’t been to see Ferox in moons,” Bellona mused, twirling a strand of dark hair around a ringed finger, “I hope he still remembers my face.”
“I’m sure he does, my lady. Who could forget a face such as yours?”
Bellona smiled, “He is but a horse, Flavia.”
“And a smart horse at that. Who loves his mistress.” Flavia continued, “I don’t suppose you could teach Armonia to obey me as well as Ferox behaves for you. It’s as though she pretends not to hear me when I ask her to go for a gallop.”
Bellona snickered, leaning into the golden haired girl beside her, “Dear Flavia, that is the problem. Armonia does not want to be asked to gallop. She wants to be told. She would run for miles if only you would tell her to.”
Flavia rolled her eyes, “I would bet you any amount of gold that she would rather lounge in her box all day than step even one hoof onto the sand, my lady.”
“Let’s go convince her then,” the queen exclaimed, jumping to her feet and holding her hand out to her friend, “Come, we’ll take them out to Crystal Beach and have a race. And then while the horses rest under the palm trees, we can go for a swim!”
Flavia hesitated, “But Your Grace, won’t they be expecting you back?”
“Oh, please. My advisors spend so much time bickering amongst themselves, they’ll hardly realize I’m gone.” Bellona giggled, “Come now, let’s go before they pull their heads from the sand and realize I’ve made an escape.”
Flavia returned her giggle, reaching out to clasp her mistress’s hand, and following her across the sun soaked patio. A firm voice halted them at the top of the marble stairs.
“Your Grace!”
Bellona whirled around, the blue tulle of her dress floating around her..
“Your Grace.” The voice repeated, rounding the corner.
“Ser Germanus,” Bellona greeted, making a face at Flavia, “What is so pressing that it must interrupt my morning walk?”
Cleobold Germanus was one of the queen’s most trusted advisors, a weathered knight from halfway across the globe. Usually, he was kind, collected, a calming and uplifting presence in a time when such a thing was limited. But today, his dark brow was furrowed in a frown, “I bring news.”
“What sort of news?” Bellona questioned, “From the look on your face, I can only assume it is not the good sort.”
Germanus sighed, “Perhaps it is best you hear it with the rest of your counsel.”
As if on queue, a cloud crossed in front of the sun, shading the once yellow patio in a muted neutral pallor. A breeze whipped through the balustrade, kicking up the hem of the ladies’ skirts and ruffling the leaves of the lemon trees. Bellona took Flavia by the hand and led the way back to her study.
Inside the mahogany room, Bellona’s advisors whispered hushly between one another. When Bellona and her party marched through the door, they all fell silent, bowing their heads and murmuring a respectful, “Your Grace.”
“Good morning gentleman,” She greeted breezily, “I hope none of you declared war on another kingdom while I stepped out.”
A chuckle rippled through the room. Bellona breezed a path to the seat behind her desk and took her place in the leather and oak chair in front of the map of her kingdom.
“Now, Ser Germanus. What is your important news?”
Germanus pushed a way through the group of men, clearing his throat as he laid his fingers against the table, “We have word from the North.”
Bellona’s eyed widened, “The North? I wondered when their surrender would come. I did not expect it to be now, especially without much action from our army.”
“No, no, they haven’t surrendered, not quite…” Germanus trailed off, scratching his silver beard.
“Well, then what is it? They can’t have declared a second war on us, Gods know we’ve barely finished the first one. Are they asking to meet? What is it, man, I can hardly breathe for anticipation.” Bellona encouraged, leaning forward and giving her head advisor a warm smile.
“Well, Your Grace, it’s King Harry. He’s…”
“He’s what? Died? How is that any of my concern what happens to their monarchy?”
“No, he… he’s asking to marry you.”
Silence settled over the room, shock drifting into every corner. Bellona leaned back in her chair, open mouthed.
“Well, my answer comes without question, Ser Germanus,” she sputtered after a moment of uncomfortable silence, “You may tell him that I decline, most disrespectfully.”
“Your Grace, perhaps you should consider-”
“There is nothing to consider, sir!” Bellona exclaimed, “I have always said that I am perfectly capable of ruling without a man by my side, and I will certainly not be making an exception for my sworn enemy whose family has shown nothing but contempt and disrespect to my own. It is a ridiculous suggestion, I am tempted to dismiss you for impudence.”
The parliament turned back to Germanus, as though watching a polo match.
Germanus wiped a hand down his face. While he considered himself to be close friends with the queen, at this moment he couldn’t help but cower under her aghast face.
“I understand your frustration, my queen, but-”
“No, Cleobold, I don’t think you do. You are asking me to give up my freedom for a man who up until this moment has spent his entire life trying to destroy my kingdom, my home! It would be… humiliating to accept. If you think for one second I would say anything other than no, you are sadly mistaken.” Bellona finished definitively, huffing a breath.
“But think of what else it means, Your Majesty,” Ser Livius, a recent addition to Bellona’s advisors chimed in, “It would unite the two kingdoms, give them a reason to stop fighting. Plus, think of the trade opportunities that Gloaming would offer. Economically, we cannot afford to continue this war.”
“The people would thank you as well,” agreed Ser Faustus, a wizened old man who had outlasted the past two kings, “They’re exhausted. This war has killed more than just our brothers, Your Grace. It has destroyed our pride, and pillaged our happiness! You must consider how they would feel.”
Bellona swiveled her head to stare at him with deep anger burning in her hazel eyes, “And can you imagine what they would say, when they discover I am marrying the one who kills our sons and brothers, Ser Faustus? You try and tell a mother that she will have to live next door to the man who slit her son’s throat. You tell the bartenders they will have to serve the men who slaughtered their friends, and burned the houses of their families. No, I don’t think the people will be happier with this union. There would be riots in the streets!”
Bellona rose from her seat, placing her hands on her hips, “I will not marry him. He is an arrogant, and hateful creature who exists only to wreak havoc on my lands, and on my people. I find it reprehensible he would even consider making such an offer.”
Germanus heaved a deep breath, “Regardless of your personal opinion, Your Grace, I’m afraid you do not have much choice. Your mother has already accepted the North’s offer on your behalf. King Harry arrives come Friday.”
If Bellona hadn’t been struck speechless before, she certainly was now. “I beg your pardon?”
“The King arrives this week, my queen. He is to spend a week here in Kef, and then you are to travel to the capital of Gloaming with him after his tour. You will be married at Castle Braw by the end of the month.” Germanus explained.
His statement is received in shell-shocked silence. Worried he had caused irreparable damage, he continued, “I told the Queen Mother that you would be most opposed to the idea. But she stood steadfast.”
Bellona had never been so stunned in her life. Collecting herself, she smoothed the front of her dress, and squared her shoulders.
“It appears my anger is misdirected. Excuse me, gentlemen, for my outburst. But I hope you can understand under the circumstances.”
Her advisors nodded, subdued.
Bellona picked up the front of her skirts and floated to the door, muttering, “If you’ll excuse me, I have a bone to pick with my mother.”
The door slammed behind Flavia’s meek slipper as the men inside heaved a sigh of relief.
//
The Queen Mother spent much of her day in the rose garden, helping the gardeners prune the many rare species of rose bushes growing amongst boxwoods and lilies of the valley. The men who kept the grounds adored sitting with her, and listening to her stories of far away places, and the golden days of her youth.
This particular morning, Praxis and Barros leaned in over lavender bushes to better hear Queen Florencia’s recount of her first time meeting her late husband, King Basil.
“-And I told my mother I wouldn’t have an arranged marriage, that if I was going to marry at all it would only be for love. Well, then I saw Basil all dressed in his military best. I guess you could say I ended up marrying for love after all.” She laughed, delicately pulling a rose stem towards her to flick a potato beetle from the blushing petals.
“That’s a lovely story, my lady.” Barros smiled, pulling a weed from the rose bed, “And when was the wedding?”
“We had it nearly a month to the day aft-” Her answer was interrupted by a loud banging.
“Mother!” Bellona shouted, storming through the glass double doors that opened onto the rose garden.
“Good morning, dove.” Her mother called back to her, cheerily waving a garden gloved hand, “How was your council meeting?”
Bellona marched down the steps onto the path, “Well it was going just fine up until about five minutes ago.”
“Oh dear,” Florencia stood from the bed, brushing the front of her apron, “What happened?”
Bellona stopped in front of her mother, hands clasped in front of her sky blue dress, “Well, it seems that the King of the North has asked for my hand in marriage, all of a sudden. Would you know anything about that, mother dear?”
If Florencia was taken aback by her daughter’s confrontation, she did not show it in her face, “I might have heard something about it, yes.”
“My council tells me you accepted his offer without consulting me.”
“Your council proves to be an excellent source, if a little disloyal.” Florencia responded.
Bellona rolled her eyes, brushing a stray lock of hair away from her face, “I think you’ll find my council no longer works for you, mother. Hence, my council.”
“I suppose you are correct,” Florencia nodded, drawing her shoulders back, “Shall we take a walk and discuss this? I feel as though I have some explaining to do.”
“I would certainly hope so,” retorted Bellona, trailing after her mother in the direction of the greenhouses, “You may start with why you would accept a marriage proposal on my behalf, without consulting me first.”
Queen Florencia sighed, folding her hands in front of her skirts and sinking onto a stone bench beneath a peach tree. “I did it for my country, Belle.”
“For your country?” Bellona stuttered, “Did you not think about your daughter?”
A magpie flitted into the branches of the fig tree, eying the butterfly comb gleaming in the queen’s thick plait.
“I spent countless years watching our two kingdoms rip each other apart at the throat. We lost more men than you can even imagine. It is my biggest regret that I did not do something sooner.” Florencia spoke softly, twisting a ribbon in the flounces of her skirts, “But your father was too proud, and I was… too cowardly, I suppose. Perhaps too ignorant.”
Her daughter bit her lip, “And why should I sacrifice for your mistakes?”
Florencia’s eyelashes fluttered as she looked over her shoulder at her daughter, “Because I know you are strong enough. I know it isn’t fair to put it onto you. But this war has waged for centuries, Belle. And if there is anyone who could put a stop to it, I believe wholeheartedly that you and King Harry will be the ones.”
“But why must it be the two of us? Why can’t I stop the war on my own?”
“Because, dove. Peace is found in compromise. Not dominance.” Florencia said, laying a hand on Bellona’s knee.
As much as she hated to admit defeat, Bellona agreed with her mother’s words. If anyone else had been her enemy, she would have been much more enthusiastic about compromising. But King Harry was certainly not her first choice of individuals to be joining together with.
“I just don’t understand why I have to marry him.”
“It was his suggestion. I believe it speaks volumes that he would be willing to extend a hand to join our kingdoms in such a manner.”
“Perhaps he is more mature than we believed.” Bellona giggled.
Florencia snickered in a manner most unqueen like, and leaned into her daughter’s shoulder, “I suppose you will find that out soon enough.”
Bellona made a face, “I suppose I’ll marry him. But I won’t be happy about it. And I certainly won’t fall in love with him.”
“I won’t ask you to do either,” her mother nodded, “But remember, don’t discount him yet. You know, your father and I-”
“No, not this story again!”
“Bellona!”
//
Hundreds of miles- three days on horseback to be exact- away in Castle Braw, King Harry Edward faced the same dilemma as his wife to be.
It was a grey day in Gloaming, as it commonly was. The sky was covered in dimpled clouds, and a brisk wind whipped through the tussocks of grass on the moors. The castle atop the craggy cliffs that towered over the city of Loon gleamed obsidian in the blue light of the morning. The salt air lingered with the smell of bread baking in the ovens, and the docks were full with the clamor and chaos of the fish market.
Inside the castle on the crag in his oaken study, the King was engaged in a shouting match with his chief advisor, a man who under other circumstances he got on quite well with.
“You mean to tell me you thought that was a good idea, Fleming? Marriage? Of all things, you went with marriage!” He bellowed, tugging at the roots of his curly hair.
“Sir, you said to me last week, ‘Fleming I want this war over, at any cost.’ Is this not ending the war, and at a fairly cheap price as well, I would say.” Fleming pleaded, wringing his hands in front of him.
“Oh of course, I’m only giving up my freedom, my kingdom, and the pride of my people. That is certainly a cheap cost.” Harry shook his head.
“I would think better that than another thousand lives, Your Grace.”
Harry leaned back in his chair with a huff, “Sometimes I wonder why I even bother consulting you. It’s clear you have no concern for what’s good for me.”
Fleming cleared his throat, “You hired me to help you rule the kingdom in an efficient manner. Not be your parent.”
Harry glared at his friend, before turning his head back to stare out his study window. Through the glazed glass, he could see crowds milling in the streets below. A child threw a kite shaped as a dragon into the sky to watch the ribboned tail flutter manically in the gale.
“I hired you because I thought you knew what was best for my reign, and for my kingdom. And now you’ve sold me off to my worst enemy. Explain how that was doing your job.” He muttered, viciously.
Fleming straightened himself, holding his chin up high, “I wanted to bring peace to the kingdom. Is that not your top priority?”
Harry bit ferociously at his lip, “I do not think merging my kingdom with Lacuna is the way to bring peace. We should have begun with peace talks, or something of that variety. Not marriage.”  
“And when were you going to initiate those talks, Your Grace? Tomorrow? Next year?”
“I would’ve gotten to it eventually.”
“No you wouldn’t.” Fleming retorted, “I know you, Your Grace. And, you’ll excuse me for saying this, but you are not one to compromise. If you hadn’t asked for a peace treaty already, you were never going to. Perhaps you don’t need to be thanking me, but I would certainly appreciate some respect.”
Harry sighed, eyes flitting around the dark glazed bookshelves, “You are right, my friend. I spoke out of passion, and not compassion. You were only trying to help.”
Fleming bowed his head, “Apology accepted, Your Majesty.”
Harry shuffled his feet on the stone floor. The grey flagstone is worn and faded from centuries of kings who sat at this very chair, probably yelling at their own advisors for decisions they believed to be stupid and unthinkable. But those kings weren’t Harry. He didn’t want to be the kind of leader who only took advice he liked, the kind of king who only surrounded himself with people who thought the same as him. He needed honest, intelligent people who would tell him when he was being a prick, who would put the kingdom first and foremost.
Earnest Fleming was that kind of man. Harry had known him all his life. He was a true friend, and a true subject. He knew Gloaming better than anyone, perhaps better than Harry himself. His advice came from knowledge, experience, understanding. Harry would be a fool not to take it.
Earnest coughed, “The royal family of Lacuna is expecting us in four days. It would be best if we got moving, Your Grace”
The chair legs screeched against the flagstone as Harry rose from his desk and thudded towards the window to gaze out across the capital. Snow had begun to fall softly on the shingled roofs of the houses below.
“I love this damned city,” he muttered, “Love it so much I’ll do anything to save it. If marrying the enemy is what’s going to do it, then so be it,” He scratched at the light stubble on his jawbone, “But Fleming,” he turned back into the room to where his advisor stood with his arms behind his back.
“Yes, my lord?”
“If you ever do anything without my permission again,” the king bit his lip and stared into his friend’s face, “I’ll have your head on a spike.”
Fleming smirked for he knew the threat was empty, “Yes, my lord.”
“Good.” Harry looks back to gaze out the window at the grey sea, now capped with white foam, “Prepare the men. We’ll ride at dawn.”
//
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theharryficdiary · 20 hours ago
do you know the fic where harry gets sick and the reader is his ex but takes care of him? I think it had multiple parts
https://harryforvogue.tumblr.com/post/156733769050/harry-hadnt-felt-this-shitty-since-hed-woken-up
https://harryforvogue.tumblr.com/post/156855035375/fever-for-you
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goldencherryhazz · 22 hours ago
Text
PDA
A/n: this is the second fix in two days what is happening?! This is purely based on this pic, and no I don’t think I will ever get over it. Pls don’t copy my work, notes would be much appreciated!!
Boyfriend!harry x reader
She’s small but very fluffy!
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(Just look him 🥰)
You and Harry had always been a pda- ey couple, just wanting to love on each other all the time when you were in each other’s presence, showing the people around you who the other belonged to, it wasn’t possible to not be touching the other wether it was one of Harry hands on your thigh when out for a meal or one of your hands slipping into the back pocket of his jeans when you were walking. That was only the subtle things you did in public and around your twos friends. Sometimes you were full on kissing nearly turning into full on makeout sessions but someone, usually Mitch when you were with him, would be making throwing up noises or saying ‘get a room you two’. It got even worse when you were at a bar or a nightclub, Harrys possessive side would come out when random men would stare at you, his girl. So he would have you sit sideways his lap which you gladly did always feeling safe in his arms, he would whisper sweet nothings into your ear leaving sweet kisses on your neck whilst staring the guy or multiple men who were ogling you, making him chuckle into your skin when they would look the other way awkwardly some even moving seats after being under Harry’s intimidating gaze.
And tonight was no different, the public displays of affection didn’t falter, you and Harry had been invited to Sarah and Mitch’s house for a film and wine night night, popcorn probably being included aswell. Sarah had also surprised you all with matching white dressing gowns having seen them in a sale, so she couldn’t resist and thought they would be perfect for watching films in.
So there you all were barely watching the film that was playing on the tv, it merely just a noise in the background whilst you all were all in deep conversation, you Mitch and Harry sat on the l-shaped sofa and Sarah was sat on the armchair opposite. You were sandwiched between Harry and Mitch, Harry’s hand on your thigh as usual, giving it a squeeze through the soft white fabric of the dressing gown every so often.
‘So H are you going to put ‘medicine’ on the next album’ mitch had asked for the the billionth time that week.
‘I have said it before and I will say it again, I don’t know’ Harry responded.
‘Why don’t you know’ Sarah piped up, picking up another piece of popcorn from the bowl that was resting on her very prominent bump, you and Harry were jumping for joy when they had announced that they were going to have a baby, your pretty sure Mitch still was still in shock but you knew both him and Sarah would be the best parents.
‘It sounds killer when we perform it live so it would sound even more amazing as a studio version’
‘But people have heard it all before and I want there to be all new material in the next album’ he responds tiredly
‘They haven’t heard a studio version of it though, so it technically would be new’ Mitch points out.
‘Oh Mitch will you give it a rest’ Harry says squeezing your thighs a little too hard making him loosen his grip and smooth his hand over the area as if to say sorry.
‘No absolutely not’ you laugh at their heated discussion but at the same time you felt a bit awkward being in the middle of it so you kinda wanted to crawl onto the armchair with Sarah.
‘Harry you might as well give up now’ Sarah chimes
‘Right I will think about it, okay’ Harry settles the argument not wanting to be pestering by the same question over and over again.
‘Hallelujah’ Mitch says bringing his drink to his lips taking a large swig
‘Thank fuck for that’ Harry mutters under his breath reaching for his drink, but still loud enough for everyone else to hear making the room erupt in laughter.
You eventually get up in need of the toilet, Harry reluctantly lets go of your thigh, he had become slightly tipsy and a little sleepy over the course of the past half an hour. You remember once when you were at a bar with the whole band after a concert, he was like this and when you needed to go for a pee he wouldn’t let you do from his grip not wanting to be on his own even though all of his friends were surrounding him, he even tried to follow you to the restroom making you laugh at how cute he was being, luckily this time he stayed put.
When you come back you stand in the doorway of the living, still being out of view you admire the sight of your boyfriend, he was now laid down against the cushions a hand fiddling with his curls, there wasn’t a crease between his eyebrows like before, his face now looked peaceful. He was clad in his black jeans which looked quite silly compared to the fluffy dressing gown, but he looked so soft and cuddly. You notice that Mitch has gotten considerably closer to Harry as they were having their own quiet conversation, his beer still in hand, meaning that had and excuse to cuddle up with Harry not that you really needed one anyway.
Sarah was now completely immersed watching the film, not noticing you as you reappear into the room, Harry looking up from his conversation smiling at you, his face morphing into a smirk when your knees hit the sofa and you start crawling up the tight gap on his right, before placing your head down on his broad shoulder hand on his chest then snuggling your warm body into his. He immediately places his arm around your shoulder bringing you even closer to him then pressing a chaste kiss to you lips before pressing one into your hair. No words are exchanged between all of this your acts of affection speaking louder than words.
You spend the rest of the night in this position, chipping into conversations from time to time, getting sleepier as the night went on, the dressing gowns were definitely a good idea Harry thought, they made snuggling so much more toasty, he also couldn’t stop looking down at you with a massive grin you looked soo dreamy and peaceful Sarah even secretly snaps a quick photo of you two one of the many times he does this, finding the interaction truly adorable and posting it on Instagram which you would find out in the morning. Even Mitch found it quite cute, and that was saying something, but he of course didn’t say anything because he was the one that always took the mick out of you two when you were like this, so he decides to stay quiet and go and cuddle with Sarah instead wanting to keep the calm atmosphere of the room.
You realise that your happy place was right in Harry arms and at this moment in time you never wanted to move out of his grip, he suddenly moves to place another kiss to your lips ‘love cuddling you like this baby’
‘Hmm I love cuddling you too’ you smile at him as he rests his chin on top of your head sighing happily, wrapping his arms even tighter around you like he never wanted to let go.
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majorharry · a day ago
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The Thrill of the Chase, Pt. I
PAIRING: Harry x Reader RATING: M WORD COUNT: 3.6k REQUESTED: no
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hi! it’s been a while since i’ve posted something on here lol, i wonder if anyone still remembers me 🤕
this is PART 1 of the hunter!AU that i’ve been writing. while the story is a patreon-exclusive, my patrons gave me permission to post the first chapter here on tumblr for anyone who’s curious about the kind of content i offer on patreon. 
if you want to read the rest of this series and unlock access to my other exclusive work, you can sign up for my patreon here. and as always, please reblog the fics you like and leave feedback for the authors, because we pour a lot of time and effort into our stories. happy reading 💌
~*~
Harry’s life is simple.
He performs only the essentials—wakes up and eats an apple for breakfast. Drizzles some lemon juice into his flask of water to keep his teeth healthy and clean. Shrugs on a few heavy furs. Lets Magnus outside to keep him from howling and pawing at the door. Sharpens his arrows. Knocks on the threshold of the cabin once for good luck. Goes hunting.
Upon returning, he crouches next to the firepit, laying out his kills and skinning them. He cooks one for himself—something small, like a squirrel, or a rabbit. Others, he saves for the market—fox, deer, coyote, boar. The pelts, tusks, and antlers are extremely sought-after (particularly by nobles), and often earn enough coin to carry him through the rest of the week.
He doesn’t entertain visitors, because who in their right mind would trek up the side of a mountain just to seek out one lonely hunter? Despite that, he’s come to appreciate his solitude. The silence is familiar—comfortable. Besides, Magnus proves both excellent and useful company, if the sheer volume of their kills offers any indication.
A simple life for a simple man.
Harry doesn’t need anyone else.
“Ready to go, mutt?”
He scratches behind Magnus’ droopy ears. One of the hound’s hindlegs thumps frantically in response. Harry chuckles, slinging his bow over his right shoulder and pulling open the cabin door.
“Come on, then.”
The sky is a dark, cloudy grey, and the smell of oncoming rain is unmistakable. Still, the two of them persevere, ducking past the trees at the edge of the clearing.
It’s a bad day to hunt.
With the threat of a storm looming just above the canopy, the animals have forgone their typical foraging patterns in favour of taking shelter. Harry only manages to kill a rabbit, and even then, it’s a messy shot. He usually gets them right through the eye—a quick, neat splice that results in minimal suffering. This time, however, his foot slips on a damp stone; he fumbles, and the arrow buries itself into the creature’s stomach.
“Fuck.”
The rabbit is still alive when he reaches it, its furry body heaving with shaky, uneven breaths. Harry kneels down, apologising quietly. His hand finds the scabbard strapped to his waist, and he draws a silver dagger from its depths.
He slits the poor hare’s throat just as rain begins to fall.
It’s easy work, after that. He pins the animal’s fluffy forelimbs together, tying them in place with thick, coarse rope. Magnus whimpers as Harry slides the creature’s limp body over his shoulder. He shoots the hound a tired look and shakes his head. Damp brown curls stick to his temples.
“Think that’s enough for today.”
The two of them have nearly made it back home—Harry’s boots squelch as he jumps over the small creek that flows close to the clearing—when Magnus perks up, lifting his snout and sniffing the air.
“What is it, mutt?” Harry asks.
Magnus releases a loud bark and takes off in the direction of the cabin. Harry sprints after him, one hand clutching his game while the other wraps around the leather grip of his bow.
“Magnus!” he yells.
The dog skids to a stop next to the wide trunk of a tree. He barks again and wags his tail feverishly.
Harry releases his bow, approaching with slow, cautious steps.
“What’s got you so—shit.”
You’re slumped in the mud, unconscious. Harry’s gaze rakes over your form, from your tattered blue gown to the leaves and twigs tangled in your hair. There are a few cuts littered across your face, arms, and chest. Rivulets of blood trickle down your wrist, spiderwebbing across your skin.
Magnus sticks his tongue out and pants.
“Good boy,” Harry mutters, bestowing a rugged caress atop the hound’s head.
He gathers you into his arms, paying no mind to the extra weight of your sodden dress. Your neck lolls over his bicep, sternum rising and falling with shallow, barely-there breaths. Harry carries you out of the forest and into the clearing. When he kicks open the cabin door, your eyelids flutter.
“Bear?” you mumble, lifting your head slightly. Your voice is grating, hoarse.
He looks at you. Your face contorts for only a moment before you slouch back into oblivion.
He sets you down onto the thick, woven rug splayed out in front of the hearth. He works quickly, shrugging off his furs and his game and discarding all of it without a second thought. Rain thrums against the roof, but the sound is lost amidst his heavy footsteps.
He hurries into his bedroom and pulls open the top drawer of his wooden dresser, fumbling for a glass jar and a spool of bandages. When his fingers finally make contact with the desired supplies, he darts back into the other room and kneels beside your motionless body.
He draws his dagger again, gripping the intricate material of your gown and slicing through it. Your corset proves far more challenging, practically embedded into your skin. He sets his knife aside, not willing to risk it. Instead, he hooks his fingers beneath the top of the girdle, rough knuckles brushing against your soft bosom. With a mighty tug, the structured fabric splits under his palms.
He screws open the lid on the jar and dips his thumb inside. The salve is sticky, viscous, and smells faintly of lavender. He smears it across your scrapes before inspecting your wrist.
The flesh is slashed and bloodied—how did you acquire such an injury? Canines? Claws? Harry uses the frayed edges of your dress to clean the mess. He then unwinds a few bindings from their roll, expertly bandaging your wound.
Once he’s finished, he sits back on his haunches, expelling a stale breath. His work is far from over—he needs to wash you, to scrub off all the dirt and grime staining your skin. He’ll go down to the creek with a cloth, he thinks, and saturate it with cool water. He’ll pick the leaves and branches out of your hair, and cover you in spare furs to keep you warm. He’ll prepare a hot meal so that you may eat when you wake. You’ll be ravenous, certainly.
These thoughts whirl around in his head, along with the realisation that you might expire here, lying on an old rug in the middle of a stranger’s secluded home. Still, he watches your chest rise, swelling with proof of your vitality. The sight puts him at ease.
Harry aims a cursory glance over his shoulder. Magnus is stationed at the door, wet snout resting on the ground. The dog gazes at your limp body with big, solemn eyes, as though he somehow understands the severity of the situation.
“Don’t worry, mutt,” Harry tells him, knees shuffling against the floor. “I won’t let her die.”
~*~
Three days pass.
Harry curtails the duration of his hunts. He kills only the essentials: a hare or a squirrel, something small enough to cook over the fire. He has enough coin saved up from his previous trades to last him another few trips to the market.
Every morning, he prepares a simple, homely meal for you should you wake. When you do not, he eats the food in your place—he’ll be damned if it goes to waste.  
On the fourth day, he carries a bowl of soup into his room. He’s expecting to see you tucked into his bed, still unconscious. Instead, you’re alert, sitting upright and studying your surroundings. The furs that previously covered your body now pool around your waist, exposing your naked chest. When you catch sight of Harry lingering in the doorway, you gasp, fumbling for the pelts and clutching them to your sternum.
“You’re up,” he says gruffly, stepping through the threshold.
You scramble back, eyes widening in fear. He pauses.
You’re afraid, he realises, tilting his head to the side. This may be more difficult than he initially thought.
“Soup,” he says slowly, holding out the small clay bowl in his hands. “You need to eat.”
“Who are you?” you ask. Your voice is patchy and frail. “Where am I?”
He sets the dish down onto his dresser before shooting you a stern, expectant look.
“Eat.”
Upon exiting the room, he strains his ears and listens carefully. The creak of a loose floorboard—you’ve climbed out of bed. The sound of nimble footsteps pattering across the ground—you’re moving toward the door. And finally, the quiet scrape of clay against wood, indicating that your hunger has prevailed.
He nods to himself.
You’re not dead. That’s a start.
~*~
That evening, Harry is perched next to the firepit outside the cabin. The orange sun crawls down the horizon, kissing the tops of the trees. He basks in the warmth, knowing that it will soon be eradicated by the cool chill of nightfall.
He fiddles with the spit poised above the flames. He caught another rabbit, today. The creature’s fur is laid out across the grass, scrubbed clean of blood. The rest of it cooks over the fire, darkening with each passing minute.
A faint creak reaches Harry’s ears. He perks up, glancing at the door.
You hover just beyond the threshold, leaning nervously against the strong wooden beams. Harry relaxes and turns back around. He uses a long stick to poke at the charred logs; the kindling pops, and a few embers float into the air.
“What are you doing?” Your inquiry is soft, shaky.
His reply is curt: “Dinner.”
You approach warily, bare feet treading through the grass. When you spot the hunk of meat roasting over the flames, a feeble gasp tumbles from your lips.
“That’s barbaric.”
Harry rubs his palms against his thighs. “That’s sustenance.”
He stands, and you retreat. His attention then falls to your torso. You’ve covered yourself with the furs from his room; they hang just past the swell of your bottom, rendering you exceptionally vulnerable. Goosebumps crop up on your bare thighs, visible in the golden light of the sunset.
He hums. “You need clothes.”
You look down at the ground.
“That would be nice,” you whisper at last.
He merely grunts in response.
You follow him back inside, albeit from a distance. He strolls into his bedroom, pausing in front of a large trunk shoved against the far wall. Twin latches click open, and he begins rifling through its contents. After a few moments of silence, he produces a pale linen shirt and a pair of dark leather trousers.
“Here,” he says.
He dumps the fabric into your arms. You huff in surprise, instinctively relinquishing your hold on the pelts covering your body. They fall to the floor in a heap, exposing every inch of your skin.
An embarrassed squeak echoes in the back of your throat. Harry averts his eyes, staring pointedly up at the ceiling.
“Put those on,” he murmurs.
You nod quickly, sidestepping his broad frame. Now that you’re no longer in his line of sight, he lowers his gaze. Part of him wonders if he should say something else, but he decides against it. His legs carry him forward, and he disappears through the door.
~*~
You emerge from the bedroom a short while later, smoothing your hands over your hair in an attempt to look a bit more presentable. Harry resists the urge to tell you that here, in the mountains, appearances are hardly significant. He doesn’t own a mirror—such luxuries can only be afforded by the rich.
His clothes are too big on you, but that was to be expected. You’ve rolled up the sleeves of his linen shirt and cuffed the brown leather trousers so that they cinch at your ankles. You’re anxious, incisors gnawing on your bottom lip and eyes darting around the clearing, like you’re waiting for a monster to burst forth from the bushes.
“Here.”
Harry cuts a sliver of meat from the cooked rabbit carcass resting on the spit. You sit down on a wide, round tree stump as he holds the food out in your direction.
At first, he thinks that you may vomit. Fortunately, though, he finds himself mistaken. After a long moment of deliberation, you accept the protein, bringing it up to your nose and sniffing it warily.
“It’s good,” he rasps, slicing off another strip for himself. “Rabbit—all white meat.”
He pops the piece into his mouth and chews. Slowly, you copy him, sighing happily as newfound flavour erupts over your tongue. You waste no time, then, impatiently shoving the rest of the meat into your mouth.
Harry’s lips twitch.
“Thank you,” you say after swallowing.
He simply nods. The two of you continue to eat in silence, grinding the remnants of supper between your teeth.
Eventually, your curiosity overwhelms you.
“What’s you name?” you ask, timid.
Harry sits back, wiping his dagger with the hem of his cotton shirt.
“Harry.”
“And how did you find me, Harry?”
A low chuckle resonates in the back of his throat.
“Wasn’t exactly hard. You were lying in a puddle of mud not far from here.”
Your lips part. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Three days.”
“Three days?”
“Yes.”
“I don’t remember any of it,” you say softly, playing with your fingers. You hesitate before elaborating: “But I—I remember seeing your face. I thought you were a bear.”
He recalls that day, how you lifted your head weakly and uttered the word before sinking back into unconsciousness. It led him to believe that you’d been attacked. Your side of the story, however, proves much more entertaining.
“Well,” he says, exhaling brusquely, “I’m not.”
You examine him with big, tender eyes. He shifts awkwardly under the intensity of your gaze.
“No,” you finally agree. “You’re not.”
He swallows and flips the conversation around.
“Who are you?”
You stiffen, caught off-guard.
“That is…hardly relevant.”
“Perhaps,” Harry says. “But it is fair.”
When you don’t reply, he continues.
“You’re a lady, aren’t you?” he guesses. “A duchess. Your gown was too pretty to have belonged to a commoner.”
“My gown?” You perk up at the mention of the dress. “Where is it?”
“Gone. I tore through it.”
You gasp. “Why on earth would you do that?”
“It was the only way to keep you alive,” he says simply. “Your corset was impeding your ability to breathe.”
“My corset…” you mutter, mostly to yourself. You grimace after registering the implications of his words, thoroughly scandalized. “So, you—you—?”
“Yes. I had to.”
“God,” you choke out, covering your mouth. “How dare you? You should have just—!”
“Let you die?”
His query successfully squashes your disapproval; your lips flatten into a thin line, and you say nothing else. Harry watches the creases in your forehead dwindle as you realise that he’s right. You fiddle with the collar of your shirt, turning to the side and regaining your composure.
“Thank you,” you finally murmur, trying to hide your face from his piercing stare, “for not letting me die.”
He grunts. “You’re welcome.”
Brief silence ensues. A light breeze blows through the clearing, tousling the curls atop Harry’s head. The gust is enough to extinguish the last few flames frolicking over the kindle, until glowing embers are all that remain.
“I am a lady,” you suddenly add, though you refuse to meet his eyes. “But not a duchess.”
Harry leans forward, prodding at the residual ash in the firepit.
“What were you doing in the woods?”
You tinker with the bandages wrapped around your injured wrist.
“I was to be wed,” you confess, peeking up at him. “But I—I could not bear to go through with it. One should not marry for duty, but rather—”
“For love?”
You pause at his intrusion, lips parted in surprise.
“Yes,” you breathe. “For love.”
Your gazes lock. He clears his throat, breaking the contact quickly.
“You ran away, then.”
It’s not a question. You nod, and he hums.
“What is it?” you ask, brows knitting together.
“Nothing. It’s just…I may find good fortune in this situation.”
“How so?”
He shrugs. “Any man with sense would carry you down this peak, deliver you back to your family, and collect a hefty reward.”
Though he’s not looking at you, he can tell that you’ve recoiled.
“Please don’t,” you whisper.
He examines your face in the periphery of his vision. Your eyes glisten with unshed tears.
Just then, Magnus races out of the cabin, his tail wagging eagerly behind him. He trots over to you, sniffing your shoulder and releasing a high-pitched whine. You use one hand to swipe hastily at your cheeks; the other migrates to his head, tickling his floppy ears.
Harry watches the interaction unfold, completely stunned.
“He—he likes you.”
You glance over at him, still wary of his previous threat.
“I suppose he does,” you say quietly.
Magnus paws at your thighs. You direct your attention back to the keen bloodhound, pressing a feathery kiss to the tip of his wet nose.
Harry blinks a few times, trying to pinpoint the reason for his mutt’s newfound behaviour. At first, he wonders if his eyes are simply playing tricks on his brain. Yet with each flutter of his lids, the sight before him only seems to solidify.
“He doesn’t usually take well to strangers,” he mumbles.
When you don’t respond, he clenches his jaw tightly. Countless thoughts zoom through his head, spinning like wheels, tangling like thread.
Any man with sense would carry you down this peak, deliver you back to your family, and collect a hefty reward.
Harry is not a sensible man.
~*~
The three of you retreat indoors when the last shards of sunlight fade from the sky. Magnus circles the large woven rug poised in front of the hearth. Eventually, he collapses onto the mat, his snout drooping over his front paws. You stretch your arms into the air and yawn gently.
Harry is the last one to enter the cabin; he shuts the door behind him.
“Thank you again for dinner,” you say lightly.
You spin around and nearly crash into the hard barrier of his chest. Reflexively, his hands fly up to grasp your biceps, steadying you. He peers down at your face in the darkness, his thoughtful gaze tracing the contours of your cheeks. Your eyes are wide, lips split apart as you suck in air.
“Sorry,” you say, frozen in place.
He only grunts, releasing your arms and stepping away.
Your attention lingers on him as he approaches a wide pile of furs stacked into the corner of the room. He’s been sleeping on the makeshift cot for the past three nights, and though his back is always sore the next morning, he has yet to find a better alternative.
“What are you…?” You hesitate, rethinking your question. “What is that?”
“My bed.”
“Do you…always sleep there?”
“No,” he rasps, lowering himself onto the thick pelts. “I prefer to sleep in my room.”
He shoots you a pointed look, and you frown when the realisation sinks in.
“We—we can switch,” you say, fidgeting with the hem of your shirt. “I don’t want to impose.”
“No.”
“I insist.” You try again.
“As do I.”
You clamp your mouth shut, unsure of how to respond. Magnus has already dozed off—his soft snores filter through the heavy silence hanging over your heads.
“He’s lovely,” you suddenly say, referring to the quiescent hound. “Well-trained, too.”
“I won’t take credit for that,” Harry grumbles, rubbing his palms against his thighs. “He was a palace dog.”
You blink. “W-what?”
“A palace dog,” he repeats. “I found him alone in the woods after a hunt. His leg was broken—the guards left him there to die.”
“That’s awful.”
He hums in agreement.
“You took him in, then,” you say. When he nods, you add, “It seems that you have a knack for nursing others back to health.”
He doesn’t reply.
“The hunts—” you start, chewing nervously on your bottom lip. “Do they…occur frequently?”
“Why do you ask?” Harry says. His shoulders wobble with a hollow chuckle. “Are you afraid of being caught?”
You inhale sharply, and he realises that yes, you are.
“No,” he says, shaking his head. Subconsciously, his voice drops an octave, taking on a soothing quality. “They don’t come around often. And even if they did, I doubt that a single runaway lady would be of much concern.”
You blow out a relieved sigh, though the uneasy expression on your face never wanes.
“You’re probably right.”
A few hushed seconds draw out, during which neither of you speak. Your bare feet shuffle clumsily against the cold floor. You appear to be waiting for some sort of cue—a sound, a gesture, anything.
“Er—” Harry breaks the peace, cocking one eyebrow. “I sleep naked.”
“Oh.”
The exclamation is unbelievably breathless. Your throat bobs amidst a difficult swallow, and you totter back.
“Of course,” you stammer. “I’ll just—”
With a trembling hand, you motion toward the entrance of his bedroom.
He nods wordlessly.
“Right,” you mumble, retreating. “Goodnight, then…Bear.”
At that, he pauses. Your cheeks twitch with a feeble smile, but you don’t comment on the sweetness of the simple endearment.
Harry remains completely still as you scurry into his room. He sits there for a prolonged moment after the door shuts, trying to make sense of his thoughts. Your features have been stamped onto the backs of his eyelids, practically seared into the skin.
At last, warm air spills past his lips, and he allows himself to utter the low, relentless reply pulling at his tongue.
“Goodnight.”
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cinnamon-harry · a day ago
Can you do one where y/n is famous too and maybe they can pose for a magazine together btw your name should be talent I was the one who asked for Chiarra too it was beautiful
tyyy! i’m so glad u liked it queen <3🥺
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Liked by annetwist, spaceykacey and 2,964,174 others
harrystyles we had a busy day today
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harryfan1 is something coming or are u fucking with us ??
harrystyles @harryfan1 hm..
ynfan1 tease^
harryfan2 okay but that bed looks comfy asf
yourinstagram @ynfan1 it was indeed very comfy :))
harryfan3 ik she slept good
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Liked by arianagrande, troyesivan and 3,264,294 others
yourinstagram This Friday, April 2021.
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arianagrande i’m obsessed
yourinstagram @arianagrande ily🥺
harryfan1 my bp is rising WHATS HAPPENING THIS FRIDAY ???
harryfan2 the way y’all tease us is actually illegal
yourinstagram @harryfan2 it’s all out of love❤️
ynfan1 yeahhh im passing away
ynfan2 U TWO ALWAYS UP TO SOMETHING
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harrystyles My love. Vogue April 2021. Out now.
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gemmastyles stunning
harryfan1 DJDKDJD THIS IS SINGLE HANDEDLY THE BEST THING IVE EVER LAID EYES ON. BUYING 10 COPIES NOW
yourinstagram i should’ve kept those jeans
harrystyles @yourinstagram there’s always next time
ynfan1 no please they’re so cute i’m gonna cry
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harryfan3 IS EVERYONE BREATHING OKAY ???
ynfan2 @harryfan3 nO🥲
hello! i’m so sorry for the inconsistency, school is very much taking me out but i’m almost done ! anyways, this has been in the drafts for a minute so i hope u liked it🥺
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sweetsbfreex · a day ago
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a styles snow day
Summary: In Boston, with your family. You and H have a snow day with your daughter. After a hectic morning that is
Warnings: none!
Pairing: Dad, Husband!Harry x reader
The shuffling of soft feet against the sheets had shaken you awake, causing you to open your eyes. You ignore it, but before sleep could take you away again. A sharp strike, from a very soft foot, landed between your shoulders
You open your eyes wide, emitting a raspy whine into the morning air. Reaching your hand back to stop the tiny foot from landing another strike. In result you hear cute giggles causing you to turn, her foot still in your clutch, to see your eighteen month old.
You closed eyes for a second, letting out a low sigh before you scooped her up. Both of you laying on your sides, facing each other, one of her legs laid against your hip. 
You reached your hand out to fix the catastrophe that was her hair. 
“Not nice Ava...Why is it always me hm...Why don’t you ever wake dad like this?” you ask. 
She stared at you, smiling. Only elevator music playing in her morning mind right now. Her small body encased with one of Harry’s very old shirts at her knees. One that his mother had saved for when he had his first child.
“Go wake up dad” you whispered in her ear, your hand cupping the back of her tiny ear.
She looked up at you, her face now amused at your special request. Without any questions, she shuffled her bum to her dad. Who was on his side, his back away from the two of you. Draping her upper body over his torso, her teeny legs pointed out to stabilize herself. Taking an arn that wasn't holding herself up. She reached her chubby fingers to her father’s eye, pulling his eye lid up. 
Giggling to herself when Harry’s eye began to move around, then upward at her face which was upside down to him. Then she laughed a bit more when both his eyes startled open in shock.
“Daddy!” she squealed.
Harry groaned, a light pout on his face before he pulled Ava’s finger from his eye. “Hi baby” he smiled, pulling his girl over so she became cocooned in his arms against his chest.
“Mum set you up to this right?” he asked, turning his head around to see a “sleeping” y/n. 
“For someone who’s supposed to love me...you are such a menace”. He told his other girl. Watching as she laughed, blowing the cover she thought she had. “Caught ya’” he mumbled, turning back to his baby’s giggles. 
You got up, reaching your body over your end of the bed to place a kiss on his shoulder. Making your way over to the three window walls beside your bed. When you rolled up the first blind. A small comical gasp got your attention, looking behind you to see her shocked gaze on the snow.
“Snow!” She gleamed, removing herself from Harry and sprinting to the window. Her nose and palms all up in the glass. Watching the thick layer of snow that buried your spacious backyard. 
All three of you had landed in your home in Boston, coming back from visiting your parents, late last night. And with the moving around she had to do a long with the flight. she didn’t get a chance to see the snowfall in the middle of the night. 
“I know” you told her, matching her energy. “You wanna play in it later?” You asked, bringing your hand down to pull her away from the glass.
She jumped up and down nodding her head in reply. 
“Let’s eat first then we can later”
––––––
Now you were all in the kitchen/dining (since they shared the same space). After Harry took out Milo, the family’s Australian shepherd, from his cage to the front yard. Now he was chasing? Or Ava was chasing him?. The loud dog pants, the sound of feet/paws against the wood, Ava’s giggles, the music Harry decided to play, and your whines, were all mixed.  Because Harry would. not. Let you go.  
“Do you want to starve? I need to make breakfast” you lean your head back on his shoulder. Being currently enveloped by both his arms, closing you between his chest and the counter. 
“You’re popping a couple of eggos in the toaster, chill out” he snickered.
You smiled at his teasing, kissing his cheek before turning your way back to the eggs you were mixing first. He stayed behind you placing kiss after kiss to your shoulder, then your neck, then to the cut of your jaw. 
You giggled, reeling him in a bit as you brandished your butt against him. Eyes averting to Harry's fingers which were clenching the counter a bit.
And ever so quickly you tilted your head, so your mouth was to his ear whispering...
“Go fill Milo’s bowl” you tell him, turning your head to kiss one of his shoulders. Before they deflated and Harry sported a dejected look on his face. 
“I’ll remember this the next time the roles reverse hm?” he tells you, pinching your butt and then strolling away to the pantry. 
And it was peaceful for a little until frill cries interrupted it; and Harry’s voice cooing Ava was what you heard. 
“What’s wrong?” you ask him, leaving the eggs and turning off the warming pan. 
“Sad because Milo’s not playing anymore” he chuckles, rubbing his hand.
“You ready for your pancakes?” You ask her. 
At that the instant crocodile tears ended, as expected, while she nodded her head yes. You and Harry shared a laugh before he brought to the table, sitting in her booster seat. While you popped some eggos in the toaster. 
“Har! Are you eating pancakes too?” You yell out to him. 
“No thank you, ‘m gonna eat the eggs” he replied to you, leaving Ava with her coloring sheet.  
–––––
You were all roughly done. Milo finished his breakfast a while ago, now he laid next to Ava’s chair looking with hope at everyone eating.
And when her parents were no longer paying attention to her, instead to each other. Ava used her nimble fingers to break a piece of her bacon. Bringing it to her mouth before “accidentally” dropping it on the floor. Smiling down at her best friend who ate it with pleasure. 
‘Poor mimi’ she thought
Taking a bit of her pancakes between her fingers, she tried it one more time. Instead a different method; as she hid the piece of her syrup-less pancake in her closed fist. Yawning slyly, bringing her arms above her hands after she looked down at the puppy eyes Milo gave her. And bringing them to lay against her side; dropping the pancake onto the mixed fur beneath her.
“Ey!” Harry voiced, catching her in the act. 
You turned around confused, watching as she jumped in her seat, looking up at her father in a stunned manner. 
“What were you doing Ava?” You asked. 
She looked at both her parents, pushing her bottom lip out. 
“Milo is hungry!” She defended 
“Are we supposed to be feeding Milo anything that isn’t dog food?” He tests her. 
“No” she murmurs. Eyebrows wrinkled together and lips pouted causing her cheeks to fill out more than usual. Her small face was in perfect view to get a glance of her expression. Then in a haste she tucked her chin into her body, so all you both saw was the top of her bed head.  
The couple wasn’t against giving Milo “human food”, he’d get some from time to time, not too much. But with a child it was a bit different. Ava didn’t know what a dog could and couldn’t eat, so the two of them had to be stricter when it came to her giving Milo food. They’d also been training Milo to not accept food Ava get him, but the two of them were like peas in a pod. 
You and Harry looked at each other. You raised your eyebrows to him, wondering how the pair of you should go about this. He shrugs backs at you, a smile etched on his face as he eyes his child again. 
She sat still in her chair, keeping the heartbroken visage on her face. Ava decided to add a dash of spice into her act by crossing her arms over her chest . Without context you would think you told her she would never be able to watch Disney movies ever again! 
You decided to take the reigns.
“Babe do you want Milo to have to go to the doctor?” You asked her. 
“No.” She responded short.
“Talk appropriately, Ava” Harry told her. 
“No, mommy” she repeated herself, looking up this time, her arms uncrossed and instead sat in her lap. 
“If you keep giving her human food he’ll get sick, then he’ll have to go to the doctor...then you could be arrested” you pout at her pinching her cheeks.
“Y/N!” Harry hissed, his foot breezing past your shin.
“What? It worked on me”
“Okay Okay, you won’t go to jail, mommy’s fibbing. I’m
Sorry”
“You’re fibbing?” She murmurs, using her palm to clear her bangs from her forehead. Looking at Harry for confirmation as you both nod.
“But you can’t feed Milo human food, it’s not good for him” you remind her. 
“Okay. I won’t feed Milo anymore. Promise!” she answers in a hushed tone, reaching her hands up so you could pull her into your lap.
You did so kissing the top of her head
“Mumma?” Tilting her head back. 
“Yea?”
“You eat the pancakes, I don’t want them,” she remarked, tossing her head side-to-side and patting her plump stomach. Sticking her tongue out in an icky manner, meaning she was full. 
You and Harry shared a quick laugh at her chaotic antics.
“Ready to go out and play?” Which resulted in a large hoot led by Harry.
–––––––
Everyone showered by two, the sun brighter than when you woke up, and the snow falling down softer, in a flurry. 
Before you all left the London home, you had ordered the three of you matching garments and gloves for the pictures you knew you and Harry would take.
Currently,  you and Harry were clad in thick turquoise jackets. Only struggling with the task of getting Ava dressed up. 
She was like a wiggling worm, wouldn’t stay still, even when you and Harry offered her some candy. Her infectious belly laughs only grew as she thought this was some kind of funny game. But it wasn't and you made that clear when you told her she wouldn't be playing in the snow until she dressed up. Did she sit down like a good girl. 
“Oh! Look at my baby!” you thrilled, holding her cheeks between your palms. Pulling her in for an eskimo kiss. Those have been her favorite for the longest. Ever since she got herself hooked on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. “You look so cute, beautiful” you tell her.  
She smiles at the compliments, such a narcissist she was. Always asking you if she looked pretty in this or that at least once a day. Along with checking herself out in the mirror for an extended amount of time. Such a narcissist. Yet, you also loved the way she tilted her chin down, head lolled to the side bashfully. 
Harry, like lightning,  put her beanie over her braided pigtails while you put on her black snow boots. He picked her up once she finished dressing up,setting her on his  blowing a raspberry on her chubby cheeks.
“Aren’t you guys the cutest” you hummed, pulling your phone out to take a picture. You chuckled when you watched the way her giggles disappeared at the sight of your phone. Instead a beaming smile, pressing her cheek to her father’s scruffy one. Snapping a few live photos of the two. 
“I wanna see” her palm out towards you for the phone. 
You shuffled yourself beside her, tilting the phone so they both could see the photos. 
“Look so beautiful. Hm?” Harry marveled, placing a gentle kiss to her cheek.
She grinned at his acclaim, “Yes” she dragged out the s. Nodding her head in a gentle manner before placing a kiss on his cheek.
“You look so good too, H” you tell him. Your hand rubbing the cheek that wasn’t occupied by Ava.
He, without a doubt, did. He decided to stop shaving the last two weeks and gosh did he look good. The turquoise color brought out the green of his eyes. Instead of letting his hair down, he decided he’d clip it back with one of your clips.
He kissed you on the lips then on your cheek in result, Also exchanging a string of compliments your way, by whispering some not safe for kid ears into yours.. Your stomach did a bit of a flip at his husky voice, before you slapped his chest in a truce like manner.
“Milo! Let’s go outside!” Harry shouted out, clutching your hand as he led the three of you downstairs. 
–––––
The four of you were outside in the white blanket. Milo was doing his zoomies, astounded with this new found discovery. Before his non-stop running. The first thing Milo did, when he came in contact with the snow, was freeze (ears up in curiosity), then he stuck his nose into the snow, ate some snow. Now he was running in circles. 
Ava loved this, perched up on Harry’s shoulder as she giggled, her nimble finger following Milo’s body.
You had Harry’s phone pointed at the two of them, videoing the whole family. 
And Harry was feeling gratified. His baby was on his shoulder happy as a lark. His other baby had a radiating smile on her beautiful face while recording these moments. as always. And his pup was having the time of his life
“Baby!” you lose it when Harry also looks away from Milo to face you in no time. “Ava...Can you catch a snowflake like this?”
Harry blows a huff. He hates when you do that (half the time on purpose). Watching you tilt your head back, eyes closed, and your tongue out as you catch snow in your mouth. 
Ava catches on, her eyes go a bit crossed when she tries to see the snow landing on her tongue. 
“Here, baby, hold her for a bit” he tells you, bringing her down into your open arms (so she’s now on your hip). He leans down a bit to gather a bit of snow in his hands to make a snowball. Then once he’s done, he has a mischievous smile when he targets it to your chest. 
It startles you, “Harry!” 
And you halt, again, when the kid on your hip starts to wail. Her head thrown back and her eyes closed, sealed tight.
"Aww. Don't cry baby. Look at what you did Harry" you reprimand him in a jest. His eyebrows raise in surprise, not expecting for this to end in her tears. "Daddy's mean right? Watch this" you shush her, watching her until she opens her eyes, only in small hiccups. 
You crouch down carefully pulling some snow into your fist.
“Watch baby, gotta get revenge” you tell her smiling. Raising yourself up to then fling the snow into Harry’s chest. Ever the dramatic man. He clutched his heart over his jacket before falling back into the sea of snow groaning out. Opening one eye, when he hears the laugh of his precious girl. 
“Here” you tell Ava, giving her own ball of snow. She eyes it for a little before she tries to shove the snow into her mouth like crazy. Very likely you shouldn’t have shown her how to catch the snowflakes beforehand. You roll your eyes at Harry when you hear his chuckles at the exchange. 
When you tell her no and to throw it you watch her laugh as she flings it on top of her father. Who then groans again and lays with his tongue out and body spread out like the chalk outlines. You set her down to the ground and she zips to the “dead” body. She pokes his eye like earlier today because it always works, but when it doesn’t she relents to other forces.  
“Mimi!” she calls the shepheard over, pointing down at Harry. Who is slowly breaking his facade (but she doesn’t notice). Milo bounded forward to his owner with zeal. Sniffing around Harry for a bit before licking his face, inducing Harry to shout. Jump scaring the three of you, especially poor Milo who dashed away and Ava who fell on her butt. 
Ava didn’t appreciate it. Taking snow between her mittens and crushing it into H’s chest causing a laugh out of all you. 
–––––
The sun was about to set and Harry and Ava were rolling up the last ball for the snowman’s head. You were smoothing the parts that were a bit rough. Milo was back in the house. Too tired from all the running he was doing, but you were able to get some family shots with him too. 
“Be careful, babe” Ava tells Harry (unnecessarily loud), when his foot gets caught in an icy patch.
“Thank you babe” he tells her, leaning down to kiss her chin. “Wonder where she gets that from. Hm?” he teases you, winking at you and puckering his lips to blow you a kiss. As you smile shyly looking away from him. 
They were on either side of you.  Ava nestled into your side, her arms around one of yours. All while Harry begins to lift the final snowball onto the other two. 
“There you go baby. Olaf!” he tells her one she’s finished. 
She isn’t excited and looks at the figure confused for a minute. You look up at Harry, eye brows pinched, he looks at you the same way, his hands on his hip when he shrugs at you. 
A little gasp makes you both turn your head to see her eyes light up and finger pointed upward, like in the movies.
“Forget his buttons, eyes, and nose” she tells you, trying to point at where each thing went. 
“You’re so right, smart girl, let me go get them, find some sticks too.”
You shuffle through the backdoor. Gaining ompant when Milo decides to come out of the living room. Rubbing his head on the way there. Going into the fridge you get the shortest carrot in the bag before moving into the fireplace for some coal.
When you walk back out, Ava is sitting on Harry's shoulders again. Her arms wrapped around his forehead with an iron grip. You hand her the carrot.
“Thank you mommy” she cheered, the tip of her cheeks getting firmer with her grin. 
You pinch her cheeks a little bit, in response. Turning around to place the coals in a shape of a smile, using the last five as his buttons and eyes. While doing this you notice the skinny branches as his arms.  
“Okay Miss Styles time for you to do the honor. Go ahead and give him his nose”
Harry squats down until Ava's leveled with the snowman's head. She decides, among herself, to twirl the carrot around so the pointed part of the carrot gets buried in the snow. You truly don't have the heart to correct her when you see how proud of herself she is. 
Once she finishes, Harry picks her up and off his shoulder so she's settled on his hip instead. He jostles her around, shouting an array of  "Yay! Ava!" The three of you clapping your hands together to celebrate. All while Ava revels in the abundance of praise, yet she huddles her into the comforts of her dad's shoulder. 
Her first snow day had gone way better than either of you would have imagined. You personally assumed that she would have hated it. Especially since it was a very cold substance. Or she would have cried the whole time, wanting to go back in instantly.
If anything, it was more perfect than anything. You loved your little family and there was quite possibly nothing that could replace the rush of emotions you felt when you were with them. Making these treasured moments. You think this all while Harry pulls you in for a kiss.
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theharryficdiary · a day ago
Text
strangers to lovers
I live in the neighbourhood
Harry is Y/N’s eccentric neighbour who sweeps her up in the whirlwind that is his life.
apartment 41
Y/n lives by herself and needs help opening a jar of pasta sauce so she asks her cute neighbor from across the hall for help.
360°
personal trainer!harry
the one where you’re Harry’s tailor
Who Is That? / part 2
The First
An idea slowly developed from the lyrics for She: He has a vivid imagination - she bought the house next door. But when his thoughts bring her knocking, what will happen?
Guinea Pig
Your dad starts dating again after your mum passes, but his new beau is not someone you’d expected.
Auto-Pilot
In which Harry has been flying a lot and Y/N is the most beautiful, confident, skilled private jet pilot Harry has ever met and the lines between friends and professionalism are blurred a bit.
The Set Up / part 2 / part 3
Gemma and Anne play matchmaker.
In which you’re a lonely model until you meet a baker
First Class
The one when Y/N and Harry meet during a long flight, and Harry makes a new little friend too.
Skating Lessons / extra
In which harry’s daughter wants to figure skate and they stumble upon the perfect instructor.
When the levee breaks
You’re a waitress and harry is being stood up.
Not One of Them
Harry is lyrically stuck, Y/N is the new big songwriter. She’s also a single mom to a 4-year-old girl.
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imagines-styles · a day ago
Oii, queria pedir um onde o Harry é apaixonado pela melhor amiga, mas ela não sabe, então depois de uma festa já um pouco bêbado ele acaba se declarando para ela e se beijam e no outro dia ela o procura para conversarem e ele confirma. Obs: ela também pode já estar começando a sentir algo por ele.
oi anjo! obrigada por mandar o pedido e ficarei esperando sua opinião na minha ask <3
aviso: eu não gosto de fazer textos logos pq acabam ficando cansativos, a contagem de palavras deu 2.000 não é muito longo mas só para avisar quem não curte imagines mais longuinhos. e boa leitura.
MOMENTO BÊBADO
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A música tocava alto, as pessoas dançavam loucamente e S/n à procura de seu amigo, bem, amigo não era palavra que ela gostaria de usar para o rapaz que ela gosta. Empurrando a multidão na sua frente, o suor das pessoas em sua volta, era repugnante.
— Porra Harry! Vamos para casa! — ela gritava para rapaz que estava suado e  bêbado. — Você 'tá bêbado! — a garota incomodada com a multidão encostando nela. S/n arrastava o moreno para fora festa, o mesmo resmungava algo do tipo "não quero ir embora" porém era difícil de entender, já que ele falava tudo embolado.
— Pronto. — S/n falou assim que chegaram na saída da festa. — 'Cadê sua chave? — ela mexia em seus bolsos à procura. — Aqui! — ela exclamou quando achou a chave no bolso da camiseta dele. Colocou o braço de Harry em seu pescoço tentando facilitar para chegar no estacionamento.
— Vamos Harry, sente-se no banco — S/n o colocava dentro do carro, o cheiro de bebida forte nas roupas de Harry deixam a garota incomodada.
Já havia acontecido isso outras vezes, Harry bebia descontroladamente, pegava pessoas aleatórias e S/n que não bebia, ficava de babá dele. Não era chato para ela, a garota achava bom cuidar de Harry, ele era uma criança birrenta. 
— Você 'tá bem? Não vai vomitar no carro certo? — ela perguntou dirigindo. Harry com seu rosto pálido não conseguiu responder — Você vai né! Pega essa coisa logo! — disse entregando uma sacola para que ele pudesse vomitar ali. 
— 'Tá melhor? — Harry concordou com a cabeça ainda meio tonto. — Vamos parar no posto e comprar uma água para você. — S/n avisou, Harry olhava com atenção para a garota.
— Fique no carro, okay? — falou estacionando o carro na frente da conveniência do posto. A garota confiava no Harry sóbrio, o Harry bêbado era outra pessoa completamente diferente.
— O-okay — Harry respondeu embolado, respirando fundo, com a cabeça encostada no banco para tentar melhor. 
Eram 4:55 da manhã, estava fria a noite, os automóveis dirigiam velozes pela rua. S/n conferiu uma última vez se Harry estava dentro do carro ainda, logo em seguida entrando do convênio. A loja de bebidas estava vazia, o único que se encontrava era o atendente, seu rosto estava abalado, usava um casaco que parecia ser da loja e mexia no computador do estabelecimento. 
A garota abriu o freezer, sentindo o frio gelado e pegando uma água mineral, levando até o balcão.
— Boa noite. — ela cumprimentou, um pouco envergonhada pelo possível cansaço do homem e a mesma pensava que estava incomodando-o por só uma água.
— Mais alguma coisa? — o homem de barba perguntou, sem humor.
— Não. — S/n respondeu e voltou a olhar para seus pés, esperando o homem passar o produto no serviço do computador. 
— Obrigada. — ela agradeceu constrangida.
Ela pode escutar o sino do comércio tocar assim que saiu, suas mãos congeladas pela água e seu nariz vermelho pelo frio. Era estranho, ela havia escolhido um vestido preto para a noite, não estava tão frio quando saíram de casa. Abrindo a porta do carro, sentiu um arrepio pelo calor dentro dele.
— Me agradeça por essa água, eu tive um momento desconfortável com o atendente e está muito frio. — a garota tagarela e Harry estava com dificuldade para entender aquilo mas de qualquer forma, sabia que deveria agradecer por algo. 
O silêncio do corredor do prédio, e o barulho de movimentação dos automóveis era possível escutar, o moreno agarrado do braço de S/n enquanto ela tentava abrir a porta do apartamento, estava claro que a garota não sabia lidar bem com chaves.
— Vamos com calma, tudo bem. — ela disse, a frase servia mais para ela do que para Harry. 
— Nossa! Seu cabelo tem um cheiro tão bom. — ele falou cheirando o cabelo dela.
— É Pantene. — S/n zombou com o nariz de Harry em seu cabelo, quase em seu pescoço. 
Largando as chaves e sua bolsa no sofá, a garota o levava para o banheiro para que pudesse dar um belo banho. Ligou o chuveiro no frio, retirou suas peças de roupas, deixando só a peça íntima.
— 'Tá gelada S/n — Harry reclamou assim que ela colocou ele dentro do box.
— Vai ser rápido, eu juro — tentou aliviar o sofrimento do rapaz. 
— Se enrole na toalha, vou pegar roupas limpas. — S/n pediu, saindo do banheiro. 
— Eu gosto de você S/a — Harry confessou quando ela entrou no ambiente, com seu cabelo molhado, o que deixa-o mil vezes mais atraente, pensou ela.
— Eu também gosto, você é ótimo amigo! — ela falou — Vamos colocar suas roupas. — S/n falou mudando de assunto, sabia que era algo "momento bêbado" como costumavam brincar.
— Não! Eu gosta de você e não é só na amizade. —  ele continuou, a garota não teve nem tempo de pensar sobre o que havia acontecido quando recebeu um beijo de Harry em seus lábios, com suas mãos no rosto dela.
A sensação era boa, o coração dos dois batia forte, o gosto de bebida não atrapalhou o momento, mas Harry estava bêbado, esse era o problema.
Harry começou a sentir algo além de amizade depois de levar a garota na casa de sua família, ela se relacionou tão bem com sua mãe, sua irmã e até com alguns de seus primos. Mas tentou esquecer aquilo, por alguns motivos como S/n estava conhecendo caras novos, era sua melhor amiga e não queria acabar com a amizade, e se ela sentisse o mesmo? Essa pergunta se passou tantas vezes na cabeça do britânico. 
S/n parou o beijo, soube que era algo momentâneo, Harry abaixou a cabeça e procurou suas roupas que estavam na tampa do vaso. O silêncio pela primeira vez, era desconfortável, talvez com um pouco de vergonha e medo de Harry. 
— Err você consegue deixar na cama sozinho? — S/n questionou constrangida, coçando a nuca.
— Acho que sim. — o rapaz falou colocando sua última peça de roupa. 
— Então... Eu já vou indo. — ela avisou, antes de sair a garota pegou um remédio de dor de cabeça na bolsa e o colocou do lado da cama de Harry.
Ao fechar a porta do apartamento, ela pensou se havia acabado a amizade, se tudo foi por água abaixo e se eles poderiam tentar uma conversa do dia seguinte. Ela queria chorar, chorar por tudo. Harry é o tipo de pessoa que se envolve com alguém e depois enjoa, era difícil de manter um relacionamento e ela sabia disso.
[...]
O rapaz abriu seus olhos e lembrou o que havia acontecido anteriormente, queria se enfiar em um buraco e jamais sair. Mas a dor de cabeça atrapalhou qualquer pensamento, olhou para o lado e pode ver um comprimido, engoliu a seco e logo pensou em como S/n conseguiria ser cuidadosa mesmo depois do acontecido. Ele não queria perder a amizade da garota, precisava conversar com ela, pensou em ligar mas faltou coragem e decidiu mandar uma mensagem.
"Oi, podemos conversar sobre ontem. Quero me desculpar" 
Harry enviou a mensagem com nervosismo, conferiu algumas vezes para ter certeza que não escreveu errado, o mesmo olhava a mensagem esperando uma resposta porém resolver deixar de lado e levantar da cama.
Eram uma da tarde, ele poderia fazer um almoço mas a preguiça não deixava-o, então pegou o resto de pizza que tinha pedido com S/n antes de ir a festa. Tudo lembrava a garota. As roupas jogadas no sofá eram de S/n, a caneca favorita dela estava na louça suja e até algumas fotos juntos estavam coladas com ímã na geladeira.
Harry pode ouvir o celular vibrar no quarto, largou sua pizza e correu desesperado, não prestou atenção e acabou batendo seu dedinho do canto do sofá.
— Porra! — reclamou de dor, pegando o celular do lado da cama, com suas mãos suadas tentou desbloquear a tela e falhou com a tentativa.
— Celular não complica e abre essa merda rápido! — Harry falou ansioso, secou suas mãos na camiseta e tentou novamente, dessa vez conseguindo. Abriu o aplicativo de mensagem com a respiração profunda, sentou-se na ponta da cama e olhou a mensagem.
“Tudo bem, eu posso ir daqui a pouco aí?” 
S/n ficou surpresa pela mensagem dele, a última coisa que ela esperava era receber isso de Harry.
“Claro.” 
Harry enviou e moveu-se rapidamente para se arrumar. Ansioso pela chegada da garota, bebeu litros de água e precisou ir ao banheiro, foi apenas ele ir que a campainha tocou. Fez esforço para ir rápido.
— Não é possível! Só acontece comigo isso. — Harry falou sozinho, furioso. O rapaz ficou trancado no banheiro, puxou a maçaneta tentando abrir mas sua mão já estava ficando vermelha e no final resolveu que seria obrigado a gritar para S/n, que estava esperando a porta ser aberta.
— S/N! PRECISO DE AJUDA, ENTRA AÍ! — ele gritou, e escutou a porta sendo aberta. — AQUI NO BANHEIRO! - chamou a atenção da garota. Ela entrava calmante, assim que escutou o grito, correu para o local.
— Harry! O que você está fazendo aí? — S/n disse preocupada. 
— Eu bebi muita água e precisei ir ao banheiro, mas fiquei preso aqui. — Harry contou constrangido pelo acidente.
— Você 'tá brincando? —  a garota que estava nervosa, agora gargalhava alto. Não tinha problema para Harry, sua gargalhada era gostosa de se ouvir.
— Pegue a chave reserva, ela fica do lado da porta de entrada. — ele explicou para que a mesma pudesse o ajudar, S/n respirou fundo na intenção de melhorar o ar depois de rir tanto. Ela foi em direção ao porta-chaves, haviam três chaves.
— Qual delas é? — questionou o britânico.
— A cor de rosa! — ele gritou para que ela ouvisse. 
— Estou abrindo. — S/n avisou rodando a chave na porta e o rapaz viu a maçaneta se mexer.
— Graças a Deus eu estou livre! — Harry correu para abraçar ela e saiu do abraço tímido pelo que acabou de fazer.
— Podemos conversar agora? — S/n perguntou, ajudando a mudar o clima.
— Sim, se sente no sofá por favor. — Harry sugeriu e a mesma sentou-se. 
S/n não sabia como começar o assunto e Harry não sabia como se desculpar com sua melhor amiga. Poderia dar tudo errado ou ser surpreendente para os dois. 
— Eu quero me desculpar por ontem, agi por impulso e sei que posso ter acabado com nossa amizade... — Harry deu uma pausa, recuperando o ar. — Você é importante para mim e não sei se consigo viver sem você. — ele finalizou, S/n gostou das palavras dele mas ouviu ele falar que agiu por impulso, mesmo assim ela queria confessar o que sentia por ele.
— Saiba que você também é importante para mim mas...uhu eu preciso falar isso. — a garota movimentava suas mãos e estava ansioso pelo que poderia acontecer depois de confessar. — Eu sei que você estava bêbado e pode ter agido por impulso, mas eu também gosto de você. — falou atrapalhada, e nem consegui esperar a resposta de Harry, o rapaz agarrou ela e deu-lhe um beijo. S/n o empurrou, fazendo ele se deitar no sofá, pararam o beijo por falta de ar por um instante e em seguida voltaram.
— Você é maluco! — S/n disse ofegante, olhando para os olhos verdes dele. 
— Maluco por você, gatinha. — Harry brincou, e sem demora puxou S/n para outro beijo.
O desejo pelo beijo era tão forte que Harry conseguiria beijar a garota por horas, se não causasse falta de ar.
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harryswifeofficial · a day ago
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what are you guy’s fanfiction pet peeves?
send them to my asks!! don’t be mean! and remember, these are all just opinions and doesn’t mean you HAVE to change your style of writing to accomodate other people’s opinions.
these are just super useful to writers and i do enjoy seeing what readers personally think
they will be in my fanfic pet peeves tag so you can look there!
mines when y/n is too forgiving cus im a stubborn bitch😭like girl he cheated on u fuck u mean u forgive him after one day💔
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Heyy! i was skimming through your older posts and came across your rec list, but unfortunately i lost it. It would be great if you helped me find your rec list 1 and 2, the writing in there are the best and i love your writing so much! Thank you!!
You can find my first fic rec post here and my second one here.
Funny you should ask about this though, as I am currently in the process of reading a third one! It’s been too long since I made one up so it’s in the works. I’m trying really hard to remember all the best fics that have been around since I wrote the second one but my memory isn’t the best, so everyone pls let me know your fave fics so I don’t miss anything amazing!
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mob!H you say 👀
I do indeed 👀
The vibe is:
dark brooding mob!h
Who is actually super soft but only for the reader
Opposites attract
Crafty creative designer reader
She’s all about the sweet whimsical feminine vibes
He’s got walls up a mile high, but for some reason she’s always reduced them to nothing in a moment
I say always, because they knew each other once before and were best friends but circumstances tore them apart)
You’ll be getting protective!h, like a lot
But also super supportive!h bc he wants to see her design business thrive and succeed
He’s pretty sure she’s the most talented person he’s ever met, if it’s anything creative, she picks it up immediately and is better at it than if he’d been practicing a year
(Except he kind of thinks his singing isn’t bad, but he would never tell anyone that)
I think I’ve gone on too long of a rant but it is going to start with their reunion (maybe) 10 years after they last saw each other
Oh and most importantly a suuuuuuuper healthy dose of secrets, lies, angst and t r a u m a
If anyone has any other mob!h concepts you think I should add to this list to be included in the series, please inbox me!
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omg hello! I remember reading your “my fake boyfriend” fic, any chance you’ll revisit and continue it? 🥺
Oh hello lovely!
This is probably my most highly requested fic ever. It’s honestly been so long since I wrote it, I can’t super remember what my plan was for it as a series.
However
I am going to add this to my writing list because I think I would actually really love to rewrite it, and make it one really fun long piece rather than a series.
Thank you very much for this request because it’s actually something I probably wouldn’t have thought of (I tend to forget about half of what I’ve already written because it’s been so long since it was originally posted).
If you or anyone else have other requests or things you would love to see in a fake boyfriend!h fic, please inbox me!
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