What We once were
I truly hope so much that you like this story. It’s based of what was for months my reality.
Plot: Y/N is in love with Harry and doesn’t understand why he cuts her off.
Warnings: Mentions of violent behavior, however not in detail.
Picture isn’t mine which is quite sad.
It was safe to say that I loved him far too much for my own good. Maybe it was the way he looked at me, eyes wide and full of warmth and with a hint of… wonder. He looked at me as though he was the only one who saw me as me, the person I truly was. And yet at the same time I know now that he also always saw me as somebody I couldn’t possibly be. Somebody I didn’t even want to be and now am glad I never became, even if it resulted in costing me him. To this day I think it was this misperception of his that doomed the two of us to fail.
Harry caused me so much unnecessary pain, forced me through a seemingly infinite amount of sleepless nights.
How had I ever made that man to somebody I cared about so deeply? I truly wish I hadn’t.
I stumbled into Harry’s life at a time when the both of us felt terribly out of place. He’d befriended a friend of mine and was soon thrown into a new group of friends, one that I happened to be part of a well. Of course he was on good terms with everybody and held the attention of everyone.
It caught me by surprise when Harry and I became friends. I’d expected to be just as much of a bystander in his life as I was in the lives of the other’s but for some reason he made an effort to know me. I let him of course, gladly in fact since I was just as much pulled under his spell as the rest of us were and greedy for any bit of attention he could spare.
Soon I discovered that he was funny, kind and not half as cocky as he always pretended to be. Harry made me happy. It was far too easy to fall in love with him it happened without me even noticing.
It would be nice if this story would turn into one of those that end with the two friends looking closely at each other, smile and then realize at the same time that the partner they had been dreaming of had been right there in front of them all along. What’s more beautiful than mindless flirtations turning into true words of love? I’ll say it right now this is definitely not that kind of story. If anything it’s the opposite.
“You should come with us,“ Harry suggested one day.
We were queueing for coffee, something we did at least once a week since he’d introduced me to this part of the city where we’d found what was undoubtedly the best cafe ever. I’d somehow hoped he would invite me to the party tonight, but at the same time I dreaded the thought of going.
I bit my lip. “Wouldn’t I be a bit out of place?“
“Next!“ Moving quickly I informed the barista of our orders and payed for them both before following Harry who’d already walked over to the side of the counter where our coffee’s would be served. He smiled when I followed him.
“Rubbish,“ Harry spoke, grinning at me with that smile I thought about far too often when alone, “You’d just stick to my side like you usually do.“
This idea I liked. Harry’s grin widened when I nodded. “Okay.“
Harry squeezed my shoulder before glancing to our right when’re a beautiful young woman came to a stand, checked something on her phone and then moved to sit down at a table near the wall. A sour taste settled on my tongue and I cleared my throat.
“Only so that somebody’s looking after you, which isn’t a piece of cake,“ I said, smiling when I successfully distracted his attention away form the pretty female and back to me, “Drunk Harry is a pain in the arse I’ll tell you that much.“
Harry shook his head with arched brows. „Watch it love, ’nother comment like that one and m’gonna pinch you.“
“As if you’d dare,“ I laughed, but shrieked and moved away when his fingers reached out to assault my hips. “Ouch! Be nice!“
We waited another minute or two before he thanked the barista with a warm smile while handing me my coffee.
“How much do I owe you?“ he asked, taking a sip from his mug.
“Don’t worry about it. You payed for both of us last time.“
“Oh, so now you can be nice to me, huh?“ Harry playfully nudged my side with his arm and nodded towards the exit, silently asking for us to leave. Well, less asking than demanding it.
My heart sank a little. I’d hoped we would sit down and enjoy our coffees together and through that prolong our time spent alone with one another, but I assumed he already had other plans.
“I’ll pick you up at ten,“ Harry informed me out on the street, his hand a constant warmth at the small of my back. “That way we’ll be an hour later than everybody else and there when the fun really starts.“
I rolled my eyes. “Sure. Whatever you say.“
“That’s the spirit,“ Harry joked, laughing when I glared at him, “I’ll see you then.“
My heart skipped a beat when he leaned in, lips finding my cheek in a lingering kiss before he allowed his arms to wrap around my waist in a tight embrace. The untamable curls of his tickled my neck when he let his face nuzzle my skin momentarily and I giggled in delight, heart thrumming heavily upon hearing him quietly chuckle.
“I’ll see you later,“ I confirmed, more to myself than to him in order to soften the sting of us having to part, “Bye, Harry.“
I squeezed him to me one more time before letting him release me. He stepped back and for a moment I believed to see something change in his eyes. With a final wave he made his way towards the taxi station nearby while I turned to walk to the nearest bus stop.
Harry’s hand was holding mine tightly (his doing, not mine), our fingers intertwined and my heart singing. I smiled and let him pull me with him as he went to say hello to all of the people he knew at the bar, which were many. Nobody questioned our interlaced hands and my cheeks warmed at the thought of people not doubting for a moment that I could belong to Harry’s side.
While Harry spoke to one of his friends my eyes scanned the faces of the people around us and to my distaste found the all too familiar and rather attractive features of Cherry, Her evil eyes glared at me briefly before widening upon noticing Harry, her desire for him as clear to see for everybody as her red painted lips were. I shuddered and turned more into Harry’s side, reminding myself that it was me he’d asked to come with him and not her. I didn’t look but I could feel her angered gaze of jealously on my frame. I couldn’t fight the smile pulling at my lips. The next person I was was Jake, a friend, who smiled and raised his hand in a short wave. I waved back. Him I quite liked.
Harry’s eyes found mine briefly before he released my hand and let my friend Lucy embrace me so tightly I could hardly breathe.
When she let go again I was immediately forced into a conversation with her and before I could do anything to stop her she pulled me away and out of Harry’s sight.
The night turned out to be fun though, especially when Harry joined me shortly after saying hello to Cherry and only left my side after an hour when our friend Riley suddenly came hurrying towards us, saying that he needed to talk to Harry. I watched him walk away longingly.
“You know,“ Lucy began while biting onto the blue straw of her drink, “he really likes you.“
“We’re best friends,“ I shrugged, turning to her, “He better like me.“
“No, silly,“ Lucy rolled her eyes and nudged my arm, “I mean he fancies you. Maybe not as much as you do him since you’re practically head over heels for that guy, but still. I’m sure if you were to say anything he’d be happy to go out with you.“
With flushed cheeks I looked around us, hoping nobody had heard her words.
“I don’t want to risk anything,“ I confessed quietly, “I’d rather be his friend than be nothing at all. Besides, it’s the guy who has to take the first step, not the girl.“
At that Lucy laughed loudly, her long hair fell over her shoulders and I briefly admired how pretty she was.
“Welcome to the 21st century, Y/N. And don’t you think he already made the first step? Several times, actually? Think about it. He invited you here to come with him. He escorts you home every time you’re out late with us and he constantly calls or texts you. Jake told me the other day that he drove past the two of you when Harry was walking you home and he didn’t dare stop to say Hi, thinking he might otherwise interrupt something.
“Jake is being funny then,“ I replied, ignoring the heavy squeeze my heart gave, “Harry is like that with many girls.“
“But only with you it is real.“
I didn’t reply any further and did my best to change the subject, silently urging my heart to calm down. I wished Lucy’s words were true. I wanted Harry to adore me as much as I adored him.
Harry didn’t adore me as much as I adored him. It was about one week after that night that he told Lucy he hated me.
Her expression had been one of pity and I could tell it was hard for her to speak the words, fully aware that they would break my heart, but I’d begged her to tell me what it was I had done to make Harry draw away from me. And that was all she got out of him.
Harry hated me, wanted nothing to do with me and felt as though he had absolutely no place for me in his life anymore.
And while my world shattered at his sudden change of heart, he seemingly stayed unaffected.
“What can I say,“ Lucy recalled his words were, “I guess when one door closes, another one opens.“
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I continued to speak to Lucy and drink, though I made sure not to get drunk so I would be sober should Harry decide to get wasted. I was to keep my word and take care of him, which I didn’t mind at all.
“Can’t believe you’re doing this for him,“ Lucy said, brows arched, “Make sure that he’s actually drunk this time.“
I rolled my eyes, remembering with a foul taste in my mouth when Harry had pretended to be drunk and forced me to drag him home, making me then walk back to my apartment alone and in the middle of the night only to later on reveal that it had all been an act.
“Wanted to see if you were a good friend or not,“ Harry had laughed after humiliating me in front of everybody, “And you passed!“
It hurt me how easily he could play with my feelings for him and I know that I should have left him then. But of course I had instead forgiven Harry without thinking about it twice.
We were interrupted by a guy named Cory. His tall figure loomed over the two of us and he looked very much out of breath. Though he didn’t know me it was my face his eyes instantly found.
“Y/N, right? You need to come with me. Now.“
I was grabbed without further explanation and dragged with such quick steps it was difficult for me to keep up. I was confused and wondered what a guy I didn’t even knew could want from me.
Though when we reached outside I realized it wasn’t Cory who needed something from me, but Jake.
My good and kind friend Jake was crying. His body shook and his face resembled the color of a sheet of paper. The blue of his eyes was swimming in tears and the evident fear in his orbs frightened me. My stomach turned when I noticed how his right cheek shone with a flaming shade of red. I stumbled towards him, heart beating heavily in my chest.
I flinched at Harry’s rough words and when my surprised eyes met his I froze. With his back stood against the brick wall of the building I hadn’t noticed his presence at first but now that I looked at him not even the dark could hide the heavy movements of his chest, the raw anger in his burning eyes. Instantly my worry was for him.
“Harry? What happened?“
My eyes wandered down and the racing of my heart increased at the sight of his trembling fingers, the knuckles of his hand already swollen.
I moved towards him and reached out for his arm before my brain could catch up. “Oh god, Harry, are you alright?“
Tears threatened to form at the sight of the one I loved in pain. Harry gently squeezed my fingers.
“I’m okay, love, don’t worry. Go. I don’t need you to see this.“ This time his tone was kind.
I turned to look at Jake. He’d shrunk back when I’d moved to stand by Harry’s side instead of his and I noticed how his tears increased, smearing his flaming cheek. I didn’t understand and desperately searched for answers in Harry’s face, but his expression had already hardened again. It was when his dark eyes found Jake’s trembling form that I realized what had happened. There was no kindness in his stare.
I let go of Harry’s hand and stepped back. “Harry, what did you do?“
Jake sobbed, breaking my heart further. I felt tears burn my eyes and roll onto my cheeks before I could stop them and I turned to look at the friend I felt was like my brother. With my entirety shaking I stepped closer and tried to reach for his hand.
“Are you okay?“ It was a stupid question to ask somebody who was so clearly devastated.
“Y/N,“ Harry growled form behind me, “Leave him be and go back inside. You have no business here so stay out of it.“
His voice was back to being harsh.
Still I pressed on.
“Did Harry do that?“
I didn’t need Jake’s nod to know the answer to my question.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been a witness to Harry’s short temper. He’d lashed out at people before my eyes more times than I liked to admit, but never before at one of our friends.
Never somebody we cared about.
At first he would always scream and if the person confronted then didn’t step back, Harry would let his muscular physic do the talking.
I’d been so frightened when it had happened for the first time as I before that incident only knew him as a kind, warm and loving guy who did everything he could for his friends. Upon meeting him I wouldn’t have ever believed he’d be the type to solve his problems with physical strength, but over time I’d learned that if you push the false buttons, he could get as angry as a hurricane and destroy everything around him.
Normally he always tried to make sure I didn’t see.
“Oh Jake,“ I cried and moved to hug him.
Harry made a sound like I imagined a wild tiger would right before killing his prey.
“Y/N, I swear to god, go the fuck inside!“
“Stop it, Harry! Can’t you see you’ve done enough?“ I was properly sobbing now, “What the hell were you thinking? You hit Jake!“
“That prick deserved it,“ Harry spoke cruelly, “Didn’t you, you little shit?“
“Hey man, calm down, okay? I think he gets it,“ Cory intervined.
He’d stayed silent until now.
Jake’s swimming orbs found my face. “I’m going home.“
I brushed my hands against the wet skin of my cheeks and nodded. My friend’s scared eyes found the man’s who stood behind me before quietly continuing.
“Come with me.“
“She’s staying, aren’t you, Y/N?“ Harry’s tone was almost mocking, “She came here with me so she stays until I take her home. She doesn’t need you to do that.“
My head hurt and I shook my head. Breathing was difficult.
“Jake,“ I whimpered, “Just go, okay? Text me when you’re home.“
I knew my reply disappointed him but at the same time it was hardly a surprise. Of course I would stand by Harry’s side still. Of course there wasn’t anyone who I would choose over him. Harry knew it, too and grinned at the both of us with an unfamiliar shade of evil in his eyes.
I faintly heard him mumble the words Good girl.
My stomach turned.
“I can go home by myself.“
Jake moved to leave and when I turned to look at Harry his expression had changed from one of anger to one of surprise. I noticed that his eyes were back to their clear green color that wasn’t at all frightening and when I took a step back and out of his reach he frowned.
“Y/N,“ he spoke softly, “C’mon. I’ll take you home later.“
I shook my head. “I want to leave now.“
He sighed. “We’ll leave now, then.“
Once more he reached out to touch me and just like before I flinched away from his touch. The blood on his hand made me sick.
“I said I can go by myself, Harry.“
Any other person would have understood.
Of course I couldn’t bear to be in the presence of the male who’d just inflicted such pain and fear on one of my closest friends. It was all too much and I cried on my way home, thankful that the taxi driver didn’t dare asking what the matter was.
Jake texted me that he was fine and though none of what happened was my fault I apologized profoundly for what Harry had done.
But that was it. I didn’t offer to come over and take care of him, in fact I didn’t address the subject at all anymore the moment I found out what had happened.
Apperaantly Jake had run his mouth about something Harry didn’t like and before he’d been able to react or apologize Harry’d already begun to inflict physical pain on him, completely void of any compassion for his friend.
I felt bad, I really did, and though I was angry and upset with Harry, the fear of him resenting me should I side too much with Jake kept me from being a good friend to him.
I picked Harry without even consciously making the choice.
When I went to tell Lucy about what happened the night before she said that she already knew. Harry had told her everything after I’d left him standing outside the bar.
“He was pretty pissed at you,“ she said with worried eyes, “Said he doesn’t want to see you anymore.“
I shuddered. “Maybe I should call him. Talk things out.“
But he didn’t pick up. Not the first time I tried and not the fifth either. He didn’t even respond to my messages.
Slowly I could feel myself freak out. We’d had some spats here and there, arguments that had made him shut me out and avoid talking to me, but so far whenever I reached out to apologize he warmed up and welcomed me back at his side.
Only this time I honestly felt like there was nothing for me to apologize for. I wasn’t the one who’d laid hand on Jake, who’d commanded a friend around as though they were my property and I hadn’t been the one to spoil the whole night for everyone.
“Just apologize to him,“ Lucy advised after I’d spent three days with absolutely no word from Harry, “He’s on good terms with Jake again. After letting out his aggression Harry accepted Jake’s effort of making things okay.“
“Good for them,“ I said, genuinely meaning it, “But there is nothing I could apologize for and nothing that I did wrong that night. Harry knows that, too.“
In all honesty I felt as though it was Harry’s turn to apologize to me. So many times before had it been me who’d tried and tried to reach out for him to make things right, often I even let myself down just to please him and that just couldn’t happen again.
I would wait, I decided, wait for him to respond to one of my innocent messages, hoping desperately that this choice wouldn’t cost me him.
But of course that was exactly the price I had to pay for not backing down this time.
Harry could be so kind. He was the first person to be there for me when I was in trouble, he always protected me against anything and anyone who made me uneasy and most importantly through him I experienced a never before encountered feeling of being needed.
To him I was important and he appreciated me every day.
At times he was gentle and funny, blushing whenever he managed to make me laugh and his eyes would sparkle so lovingly it made my heart flutter.
He wasn’t all manipulative, arrogant and selfish.
I think Harry liked to think of me as an obedient and kind girl that wasn’t difficult to keep around. And he most certainly knew I was in love with him. So when I chose not to let myself down and apologize for standing up to him he was surprised and angry.
I’d proven his perception of me wrong and this newly discovered girl wasn’t who he had much use to.
Never before in my life had I cried so hard. It was like I couldn’t breathe, my chest was crushed under an immense weight and I was robbed of any feeling of comfort. Some nights it got so bad I was hysterical and trashed around in my bed with no hope of finding rest. It felt like I was forcefully ripped open and everything Harry had left in my heart was taken away. Left was a sickening emptiness.
I was devastated.
Harry hadn’t responded to any attempt I’d made at reaching out and after a while I had been forced to give up. So instead I sent Lucy to talk to him and find out what he believed I did wrong only for her to come back with the most awful news.
“Harry was so angry, Y/N,“ Lucy had said, voice quiet and careful, “So much so he acted completely indifferent. He said that you know exactly what you did, that he hates you for it and never wants to see you again.“
She might as well have knocked me out.
Lucy nervously toyed with her hands. “I’m so sorry, Y/N. There really was nothing I could do to calm him.“
Hearing that the person you love feels hate towards you is the most intense kind of heart break that can be inflicted upon you by a loved one. Any sense of warmth is sucked out of you, your skin is in a constant state of shudder and your heart might as well not be there. The sickness you may feel before sitting through an important exam or before your first day at a new job, that kind of nerve wrecking sickness doesn’t ever go away again.
Your body is always on alert. Not even sleep brings rest.
It is pure torture to bear a broken heart and it takes so much time until it gets better.
The crying didn’t stop and I had no control over it. My eyes began to tear up without me noticing and due to the constant ache in my heart it was difficult to tell when my body was overwhelmed by it. During those times I searched for solitude and refused to spend time with the large group of people I’d once called my friends. Lucy and a small handful of them were the only ones I wanted to be around, anyone else I knew would instantly go and tell Harry about the pitiful state I was in.
And he didn’t need to know how much him leaving me had shattered my entire being.
To my luck the intense pain, confusion and disappointment followed a lot of anger. Like, more anger than I ever knew I was capable of feeling. That helped so much and for the first time I could feel myself slowly getting close to feeling okay again.
Because honestly: How dare he put me aside like I was a used doll to him? How dare he pretend like I wasn’t the best friend he had? How dare he act as if I hadn’t always put him first, before myself even?
I hissed in anger at the mere thought of all the things I’d done for him, every sacrifice, every time I let myself down to please him. If he messed up, I was there to help make things right, if he was upset, I was there to cheer him up. Me, me me. Always Me.
And now what? I had cried at the sight of my friend in pain and that made ma a traitor?
“I’m okay,“ I told Lucy one afternoon after she asked me how I was coping. Five weeks had passed since Harry had stopped talking to me and I was happy to admit that my words were only half a lie.
“That’s good,“ she gave me a small smile before her expression hardened and she looked away. “He asked about you today.“
I almost chocked on my tea. Lucy elaborated: “I ran into him at the cafe he likes so much. He asked where I was going and when I told him he wanted to know how you were doing.“
“What did you say?“ I wondered, my voice much steadier than I expected.
She peered up at me form under her lashes. “That you were good.“
I nodded. “Good.“
“I also asked if I should talk to you and help him make things right again.“ Lucy looked at me expectantly.
With brows arched in surprise I cleared my throat. “You did? What did he say?“
“Nothing he just shook his head. But that’s only because he’s prideful, Y/N, trust me. If you were to call him now I’m certain he would want to talk.“
Slowly I raised the mug I held in both hands to my lips and took a sip. When I looked at her again I knew my slightly puffy eyes were hard.
“Well, I’m not going to.“
“You should,“ Lucy protested, “Put you both out of your misery.“
I shook my head. “He’s the one who acts as if I did the worst possible thing to him when in reality I have done nothing. No, I am definitely not going to crawl back to him like a whipped dog that learned its lesson and damn him if he thinks I will. Maybe he regrets being a dick to me but then it sure as hell means that it’s his turn to come back. After all, he’s the one that left.“
When I finished I was out of breath and my hands trembled.
“I didn’t know you were this angry,“ Lucy admitted, her eyes holding surprise, “I expected you to be happy about these news.“
“Well I’m not,“ I answered, “This is just another stupid test of his and after crying every night for almost a month now I no longer care if I fail it.“
“He told me you were the one who left.“
I gaped at her. “What?“
She shrugged. “In his version of the story you’re the one who backed away form him after what happened to Jake. He thinks you are the one who left.“
Once more my body was set on fire with anger.
“That’s what this is about?“ I cried, “He hates me for not holding the hand he used to beat my friend with?“
Lucy bit her lip, then she nodded.
“Fuck him then,“ I said harshly, “What a self centered prick. I was frightened sick and he is so selfish that me taking a step back and insisting that I needed a moment alone is enough for him to throw us away?“
There was a pause of silence and slowly my breathing calmed again.
Lucy cleared her throat. “Okay, well… it’s your choice. I just know how much you care for him and even after everything he did I’m sure he cares about you just as much. And as your friend I must say that I can’t bear to see you so hurt all the time.“
At that I smiled kindly. “If he cared as much about me as I do for him he wouldn’t be spending all of his time with Cherry at his side.“
Lucy’s face fell. “I didn’t think you knew about that.“
I shrugged. “Hard not to. Her Instagram is full with pictures of them together. Her hugging him, him holding her waist, them dancing. He doesn’t seem to miss me too much.“
“She’s a distraction and has a pretty head that is as empty as a head can be,“ Lucy spoke harshly, “He knows that she is nothing compared to the friendship he had with you.“
I shrugged once more. “He doesn’t seem to mind. And as long as he doesn’t try to come back to me with a solid apology I couldn’t care less if Cherry bores him out of his mind.“
Nights were still the worst. That was when my head was haunted by every moment I ever spent with Harry, every laugh we shared, every touch. My poor heart was tortured with the memory of him kissing my cheek, leaving the skin hot and burning. I was reminded of the wide smile he wore whenever he saw me and the look of his arms held open wide for me to step into.
What I found myself missing most though was his smell. I’d grown to love his scent, found it comforting and every night I feared I would forget it one day.
Nights were when I allowed myself to cry and mourn the hope of love I’d lost with him.
I missed laughing with him, because he was still the funniest person I knew. I longed to hear him talk, because he had such a smart mind. I couldn’t bear to think that I would never get to feel his arms around me again and it hurt to imagine that I would never have his protection again.
After giving him so much importance in my life it was difficult to cope without him. But I did. And after two months of no word of him, it truly was no longer a lie when I said that I was feeling good.
It was almost like he knew that my heard had mended and I believed he understood that as his cue to come back and fuck me up again.
I stared at my phone with shock. I had one missed call from Harry and four new texts.
How are you?
Can we talk?
Almost three months. That was how long he’d waited to reach out again. More than 40 nights of crying, more than 30 days of feeling like I was only a shell of myself.
And all I got was a Hey. How are you? Can we talk? Sorry.
A ‘Sorry’ was all that my pain was worth.
„Fuck you, Harry,“ I muttered.
I reached for the device sitting before me, unlocked the screen and pressed onto the message until the small window popped up.
Are you sure you want to delete this chat? My phone asked.
I didn’t hesitate to press yes.
To this day I knew that there was nobody I loved as deeply as I did Harry.
Even after doing everything in his power to break my heart, I can’t help the small jump out of rhythm and the tiny squeeze it gives whenever I happen to see his face somewhere. So many years have past and both of our lives are so different now.
We don’t speak. We don’t reach out.
But his stare lingers when he sees my face and so does mine. It’s as if we’re both reminded of who we once were and for a moment we wonder what we’ve become.
Thank you for reading this!