Dreams Unwind

[t w e l v e]

“That was an awful idea,” I grumble as I shake sand from my bikini bottoms, yanking them up my legs. “Seriously, sand is where sand should not be.”

Harry laughs quietly, reaches for my hand. I let him tug me toward the ocean, and we come to a stop once the water reaches my belly. The tide crashes against us, and I wrap my arms around him, stretching up on my tiptoes to kiss him. He smiles against my lips; I get less than a second to question it, then we’re falling sideways, going under the surface. I somehow manage not to inhale the saltwater as I wiggle to get my feet back under me.

“That was mean,” I tell him after I’ve found my footing, pushing my hair from my face, and he grins. “I mean, really, who does that?”

“I do. At least now there isn’t sand where sand shouldn’t be, right?”

“God, you’re so lucky you’re cute.”

His fingers lace with mine, and it should be awkward, I should feel uncomfortable with the fact that we’re doing nothing but standing waist-deep in the ocean and staring at each other. The uneasiness doesn’t come, though. Instead, my heart beats steadily beneath my sternum, each thump reminding me that I love this man. Fear bleeds along the edges of the security, tainting the brilliance with its hazy darkness. Harry pulls me closer; I rest my head against his chest and let out a relaxed, blissful smile.

Something inside of me has settled with the evening. I hadn’t expected that Harry would want to have sex - make love, rather - tonight, and especially not in such a public space. Yes, we’ve been alone since we arrived, but we aren’t the only ones who ever decide to enjoy the quiet of an empty beach at midnight. It isn’t a surprise that I feel so strongly for him. He has made it impossible from the beginning to not fall in love, and though I’ve tried to fight the feelings, I am incredibly glad that I have failed.

I pull away just enough to gaze up at him. There’s an expression on his face that I can’t read, but it doesn’t fill me with apprehension or fear. A heady kind of love and the sensation of being home erupt inside of me, and I can’t stop myself - I bury my fingers in his hair, tug his head down so I can capture his mouth with mine. He lets out a startled sound but kisses back with enthusiasm. I hope, almost desperately, that he can understand what I’m trying to tell him.

We eventually wade back to the shore, and I shiver as I tug my shorts up my legs. Harry reaches for my hand, guides me to the car once we’ve gathered up our belongings. I stifle my giggle when he tosses the used condom into the rubbish bin at the edge of the car park. I pass my keys over to him and settle into the passenger seat, and he presses a kiss to my knuckles before dropping my hand and starting the car. We don’t speak to each other as he drives toward his house; we don’t need to, we just let the comfortable silence and music we sing along to say what we want to say.

“I’m almost surprised that my key still works,” I announce as I walk through the front door a couple of weeks later, and my father snorts from where he’s watching television.

“I’m almost surprised you’re even here.”

“I missed my dad, what can I say.”

He shakes his head but lets me kiss his forehead. I drop my bag onto the coffee-table and plop down next to him, settle into the couch. He has a point - I have to admit that over the last few weeks, I’ve barely seen the inside of my own home. My time has been split between work, classes now that they’ve started up again, and Harry. More often than not, I spend the night with him. It seems that our beach-time escapades have opened the door, and now, he’s become a drug I can’t quit, craving his touch and taste constantly, fiercely.

“How was work?”

I let out a groan and tell him about my day, conveniently leaving out the fact that Harry met me for lunch and sent me to my next class much more dishevelled and satisfied. Dennis listens carefully as I whine about my professor’s personality and teaching methods. Seriously, he makes Professor Binns from the Harry Potter novels seem lively in comparison. It isn’t until I’ve vented everything that my dad asks me how my relationship with Harry has been going.

“Obviously, it’s steady, since I haven’t seen you in so long that I actually forgot what my daughter looked like.” He huffs out a laugh when I smack without malice at his knee. “I’m glad to see you happy, starlight.”

“I am happy.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Do you… do you think that I’m going too fast with Harry?”

“I don’t want to hear about your sex life. Bad enough those damn photos are everywhere on the internet.”

I wince at the mention of the grainy, badly-shot pictures that some fan on Twitter posted before Harry and I had even left the beach that night - our faces weren’t clear, and no one can actually see anything, but the caption she’d posted had been incriminating enough: Just saw Harry Styles and his gf on the beach!! I wanna say hi but they’re ~*busy*~. At least she’d had the decency to not come up to us, instead going on her way. It’s awkward enough having the photos even exist; I don’t think I could have handled seeing her at that moment. Sighing, I turn my attention back to the conversation.

“Not sexually, Dad, fucking hell. I meant, like, emotionally.”

“I don’t know, sweetheart,” he responds after a long minute of thinking. “I think this is something you gotta figure out on your own.”

“I keep wondering if Wil would approve of Harry. I keep comparing the two. How fucked up is that?”

My dad shrugs awkwardly but doesn’t respond. I exhale heavily, shifting around on the couch until I’m more comfortable, and decide this isn’t something I want to think about. Not today. Not ever, really. My thoughts still race in my head even as I force myself to focus on Patrick Swayze kicking ass in Road House.

>> You going to be home tonight?

I come to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk, staring down at my uncle’s text; someone shoves into my shoulder, growling out a “Watch it”, and I roll my eyes. Before I can respond to Henry, my phone vibrates with a text from Harry. I switch threads and bite my lip when I see he’s asked me to come over. I quickly type out The forecast calls for a very low chance of me being home tonight then tell Harry I’ll be at his right after class.

>> Your dad misses you. And I’m tired of being the one who takes care of your fat cat.

<< I promise I’ll stay home every night this week if you stop bitching

>> You’re my only niece and yet you’re still not my favorite.

<< Words hurt, asshole.

I know I’m asking a lot of my uncle to feed and clean up after my cat every day, especially since I have basically shunned that responsibility all for a guy, and I really do feel awful about it. But being with Harry has consumed me completely, I feel him in my blood, his touch like branding irons that burn me to the core. I open the message thread with Harry.

<< Fucking shoot me in the foot or something, I don’t wanna go to class…

>> Get your education, love. I’ll be here when you get out.

Excitement pulses through me, causes my hands to shake and my heart to race. The nightmare that is LA traffic doesn’t even bother me as I drive to Harry’s house; I’m too focused on the thought of being close enough to kiss him. To keep my mind off of what the rest of the evening might hold, I reach over and crank the volume on the radio. Little Lies does nothing to calm me down, but I sing along to it at the top of my voice anyway. Might as well go for a penny if I’m in for a pound.

I let myself into the house the way I’ve done every time he invited me over, calling out for Harry. His voice comes from further into the house, and I slide my flip-flops off my feet and pad quietly through the hall until I reach the back door. I can’t help it - I stare unabashedly at the expanse of bare skin, the muscles that ripple with his movements as he swims. He catches sight of me standing there, and I wiggle my fingers at him once he comes to the edge of the pool, holding himself up with his arms on the ledge.

“Come on in. The water’s nice.”

I shake my head with a smile. “I don’t have a bathing suit here.”

“Who says you need one?”

My pulse roars in my ears even as I double-check that no one is looking, then I strip off my top. He lets out a soft whistle, laughing when I roll my eyes. I slip my thumbs into the waistband of my shorts, inch them down slowly, and his eyes darken as he watches me. Dropping my bra to the pile of clothes, I step off the edge and drop to the bottom of the pool.

Harry is right there when I come back up, fingers pressing into my skin, and he tugs me closer. Our legs entangle with each other, and though we start to sink below the surface, he doesn’t stop kissing me. There’s something different in the kiss, but the desire that flares up in me drowns out the small voice trying to puzzle it out.

We scramble out of the pool not even three minutes later, and his hand wraps around mine, tugs me toward the house. We don’t get further than the hallway before he rounds on me, pinning me between the wall and his body; I can’t read the emotions in his eyes, I can’t even fathom to try, so I let myself drown in the kiss. The heat that comes from his body is incomparable to what I’m feeling inside, and my hands come up to bury in his hair. His heart races in his chest, but mine is no better - there’s something almost poetic about it, I think idly as my thigh settles between his.

“Fuck,” he hisses when I drag my lips across the column of his throat, nip at the skin where his jaw meets his neck. “Wait, Jo, we… we need to talk.”

“Now? Can’t it wait?”

“I don’t think it can.”

Reluctantly, I press a kiss to the red mark I’ve left on his skin and pull back. The easy grin he’s worn since I showed up is gone, replaced by a seriousness that I only see when his mind is elsewhere - usually on his work or when he’s speaking of his family. I sigh, gesturing toward the living room. He murmurs for me to go on, he’ll be right back.

He does as he says, my clothes in one hand and a large towel in the other. My brows furrow at the sight. If he’s expecting me to want to get dressed, this conversation will most likely not end up in his bed. I avoid his gaze as I dry off quickly, tugging my shorts and top on without bothering with my underwear. I sit on the couch once I’m done; my throat tightens when he sits at the other end.

“What’s going on?”

He sighs, runs a hand through his wet hair. When he looks at me, his expression is stained with something I don’t think I want to understand. “I… god, I didn’t think this would be so hard to say.” He lets out a humourless laugh, scrubbing at his face, before ducking his head. “Jo…”

“Just tell me,” I whisper, but I’m sure I don’t want to know.

“I’ve been doing some thinking, and I, I’m moving back to London.”

The silence echoes in the house, deafening in its existence, but over it, I can hear the sound of my heart breaking. My mouth moves, though no words come out. Harry hesitates then reaches for my hand; his face falls when I yank it back. I can’t look at him, it hurts too much, so I force myself to stare at the floor, the window just beyond his head, anywhere but the green eyes that say too much.