Chapter Eleven: "Bright Sweater."
The morning light was a bright shade of orange, and if it weren't for the tinted windows of the bus, I was certain everyone would be blinded. It was a strangely cold outside for the end of September. And the wind was picking up, thrashing brisk air to hit your face. God, I hated it.
Liam sat beside me with a thicker coat, huddled against the window with a music player in his ears. As usual. Although today he seemed a ton sadder than I he ordinarily was. Yet, he never said much, and when he did it was a simple sentence. The last time he'd made conversation was about his sister, Kaitlyn.
Zayn suddenly quit riding the bus. I didn't blame him, it was freezing, loud, and half of the kids were unarmed with a raspy cough. Good thing I was more of a carrier.
Anyway, it looked like the number of people on the bus were freshman and I instantly regretted turning down Jesse's offer. There wasn't a single person - excluding Liam - that I recognized.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I was also left idle with my mind, which was ten times worse than yesterday. There was no doubt that my worst nightmares had been verified, and now that I had time to mourn, I was clearly off today.
I wanted to skip school today, but Sierra wouldn't let me. I made up some weird story about why I fainted yet she saw right through my facade, better than mom ever could. So then she offered a ride, I rejected it, and she pushed me on the bus.
Despite my lack of activity, I still couldn't get Harry out of my mind.
What he said yesterday pretty much clarified that he had a crush on me. Regardless, it was much worse than I thought. It was obviously not a little crush, it must've gotten bigger the more I fought with him. Until yesterday morning, that is.
Sierra was still my sister, though, and I refused the let him in when he did something so cruel. If I'm what he wants, he'll have to suffer. Because my ignorance was a quality I controlled. One of my best.
The bus abruptly stopped, and while the other kids jerked forward, I remained still. As normal, we all piled off and divided into fourths. I subsequently watched Liam walk towards the Sophomore group and resisted the urge to wave at his back.
If Liam was somehow in my classes, I would be undoubtedly grateful. He would for sure bring out my best side, just knowing someone familiar was there to cling to. As desperate as that sounds.
Harry was standing at the junior door, leaning against a column while glancing down at his boots. I reviewed over him, how different he's been since the first day. Since the fight, since his detention, since he met me.
But he was still one of the most beautiful people I've ever known.
He could have a dress on and he'd still look manly, he could be wearing a bunny costume and he'd remain sexy, he could come to school naked and no one would acknowledge it negatively.
He may be hated by most kids, but he'll always be the leader of the school.
When I began walking towards the doors, rather quickly, I noticed his green eyes sparkle when he identified me through the crowd. Harry knows I don't like him; however, that doesn't stop him from seeing me the same way.
To be honest, I think that's lovely.
My eyes were too focused on Harry to see where I was going, and accidentally got my toe caught on the last step and faltered. Harry still had a hostile look.
There was a pep rally outside that day, despite the bitter cold weather. Instead of the usual bright, fun assembly, the cheerleaders had to wear coats, and the football players had to stay benched.
As my first pep rally I was rather ecstatic, getting to see something that nearly every high-schooler has bragged about. Don't forget to mention pop culture reminded us of it.
I perched on a bleacher not far from the field, although I made sure to sit in the back. Most of the ninth grade girls followed me, confused on what they should be doing.
From a distance, I saw Sierra and Jesse lounged on the grass, clear on the opposite side. They were heedless to where I was, goofing off as Sierra and I used to. I was reluctant to go sit by them, and just as I stood up, a body blocked me off.
The seat next to me was occupied. I frowned and sat back down, glancing the other way. How rude. But as the announcer began their spiel, I found the guts to turn and look at them.
"It was hard to see you in that bright sweater," he teased, running his fingertip down the length of my sleeve. I rolled my eyes and removed his hand.
When did he become so confident? I didn't change my mind about anything.
"Maybe you should get your eyes checked," I muttered under my breath.
"What was that?"
"Nothing," I retorted. Then I faced his gleaming eyes again, full of mischief. "Why did you have to sit by me?"
"Because I needed to talk to you." he whispered.
"Well here I am," I barked sarcastically, gesturing to my brightly-colored, fleece sweatshirt. He released the smallest of chuckles.
He seemed relieved that I was making conversation, though every time he uttered a word I felt my stomach churn. And the proximity of him was so close I could feel the heat burning off of him, struggling to keep warm. The palpitate of his heart.
I tried to tilt my attention back to the spirit cheer, but couldn't keep my eyes off of him. He looked so tired, so mentally done that I could see the bags under his eyes. Did I do this to him? I hope not.
"Harry," I voiced, clutching my arms snugly.
He immediately glanced over, "Yes?"
"You look tired," I commented perversely. "Are you okay?"
Harry snorted quietly, biting one of his knuckles until it morphed to white. I could tell so badly did he want to say no, that he was far from fine. But instead, he simply smirked and shook his head, "Fine, why?"
A glint of shock filtered through his egotistical facade. I saw it, the vulnerability tucked deep inside his eyes like you'd tuck in your first born. There was no doubt he was hiding something, and unfortunately I cared. A bit too much.
"Because you'd care if I wasn't," he fussed doubtfully.
"I would," I started. "unfortunately."
Whatever it was that I said struck him where it hurt. So much I felt so guilty for ignoring him, for running from him over something that wasn't even any of my business. Those bitter, dry eyes that I once saw as familiar were now flimsy and flexible. As if I could bend the emotion like a straw.
"What?" he croaked, voice cracking like thin ice.
"You heard me," I mumbled. "And it's the truth."
Harry stared in complete and utter disbelief, as if he'd just witnessed a unicorn trot off through the field. Then, as swift as a fox, gently gripped my hand from between our trembling, cold bodies. He was so warm.
I glimpsed down at our interlocked fingers, sighing.
Right then I saw something ignite in him, as if he were going to do something stupid and crazy. Or like he was going to kiss me. Yes, that was it. His eyes desisted from my lips. So close he was, even closer than before.
I gulped the solid lump in my throat, hardly paying any attention to the principal. He was too busy dancing around the dewy field to care about two kids holding hands on the bleachers. Even if it was Harry Styles.
The rest of the assembly was irrelevant, considering nothing interesting happened. Harry kept consistently squeezing my hand throughout the speech, and every once in a while would snuggle closer to my side.
Harry undeniably, undoubtedly, absolutely had a crush on me.
After it was over, I hastily slipped my hand from his and booked it down the sets of silver benches. I heard him sigh, but a good sigh. One that displayed how happy he was.
My hand was instantly cold, even under the shield of my sweater. Is it bad I wanted him to hold my hand again? Probably.
Everyone was in a rush to leave school for the weekend, which meant less time to stall until they were all gone. I slammed my locker shut and carried my legs down the steps to the bottom floor.
A robust force jerked my backpack backwards, knocking me into the air.
I twirled around to face Niall, immediately grinning. For whatever reason, he always brought my mood up by one hundred and fifty percent.
"Hey," he greeted, pushing my back as we opened the front doors. "I was wondering if you wanted to come over to my house. I want to choose a song for my play audition and I want you to help me."
I nodded, grin broadening, "Sure, definitely."
Niall returned the grin, "Cool. Let's go."
Niall's flat was just as expected. It was a brick house, but it was decorated so neatly the construction was irrelevant. Bushes were trimmed perfectly and the lawn was mowed and let off a nice smell.
We trudged up his damp driveway, gravel scuffing up our shoes. He held the door open for me like a gentleman, allowing me to get the first glimpse.
The house was beautiful. The walls were a light green, which instantly reminded me of Niall's Irish culture. Plus, the furnishing was organized, most of it a pure white and minty jade. It was surprising to see fresh, white furniture when there were toys strewn across the floor.
"My parents aren't home yet, come on," he urged, pulling me up the narrow staircase. I fled from the countless family photos on the wall.
There was an extra room for entertainment, by the looks of it. A massive TV stood at the foot of a build-a-bed, along with a ping-pong table and another toy box. Although the one thing I knew we'd be using was a stereo, with endless CD's racked up along a wooden shelf.
Niall approached it carelessly, pulling a handful of discs out and scattering them all around the ping-pong table. I examined them all, before deciding a Britney Spears one.
"Love it," I pestered, giggling sheepishly.
Niall rolled his eyes and plucked it from my hands, tossing it on the couch. I shook my head in hilarity, sifting through the albums until one caught my eye. The Fray, 'How to Save A Life.'
When I drew that from the pile, Niall's eyebrows rose, "That one?"
I nodded fiercely, staring as he inspected the record. Then, I nimbly leaned over to finger one of the many songs out of the group. She Is.
"Never heard it," he replied. "Only a couple of them."
"It's one the best ones," I persuaded. "I insist you sing it."
He made a slight grunting noise and moved to his laptop, clicking in the song lyrics. Then, to my surprise, walked to the corner and retrieved a remote to use as a microphone.
"Put it in," he demanded, nodding at the player.
I shuffled over and slipped the disc in, humming as I waited for the song to load. Glad it was number one, I moved to sit on top of the couch. Feet dangling, I watched his mouth open and words melodiously leave his lips.
"Do not get me wrong, I cannot wait for you to come home. For now you're not here and I'm not there, it's like we're on our own."
He was so good.
No doubt was he to get the main role, with a shimmering voice like his. It dazzled the room, like strobe lights on a Saturday night. And when he hit the high note, I felt a chill run up and down my spine until the song was over.
"So?" he offered, setting down the remote.
"It was," I searched for the right word. "amazing."
"Should I do it for the auditions next week?" he asked nervously, but you could see the thankfulness in his blue eyes.
"Definitely," I immediately answered.
We spent the rest of my time talking about the production and what parts we wanted, which happened to be the two main roles. However, it was a bit awkward since the two main niches kiss and we were only friends.
Is it a sad thing I was friend-zoning Niall because of Harry?
Thanks for reading! Haveanamazingsweetflawlessdazzlingcaptivatingday! x -Autumn