I was silent on the way to their apartment. There were several attempts to talk to me but I didn’t reply.
Stopping in the car park, everyone got out. I was slower, finally shuffling out. Harry leant towards me to hold my hand but I cringed away from him. Walking towards the apartment, I tripped, losing my balance for a moment. Zayn put his hand on my shoulder to steady me but again, I flinched away from the contact. I saw the reactions of the boys but I couldn’t say anything. Instead, when Leah offered her hand to me, I took it.
Everyone dispersed to their own flats and Louis, Harry, Leah and I were left standing in the low lit flat.
‘C’mon Es, lets get some sleep,’ Harry offered. I was still silent. ‘Oh, come on!’ He said and at that moment, he stretched up in the air and bought his arm swinging back down again. I flinched, moving my whole body in anticipation. I knew he wasn’t going to hit me, but my body thought otherwise. The three of them stared at me. ‘Oh! Es! I wasn’t going to-’. Harry fumbled, shocked; hurt in his eyes.
‘She’s just tired.’ Leah offered. ‘I’ll take her and she can sleep in our bed tonight,’ she said, focusing on Louis, ‘Is that ok?’ He nodded with a half smile on his lips. Leah led me through to her room and I sat on the bed. She disappeared and returned moments later with some of her pyjamas for me. I got changed and sat back on the bed.
‘We better do something about that cut,’ she said, gesturing to my head.
I shrugged, still not speaking.
She walked into the en suite and came back with a mini first aid box. She wiped the cut with an antiseptic wipe and then stuck a little dressing on it. ‘Glad I’ve done that. Harry was freaking out. They all were,’ she smiled slightly. ‘God, Es. When we got your message, you should’ve seen him. He was so scared. He was freaking out. I thing he would’ve killed anyone who tried to get in his way. He was distraught. And then all the boys wanted to come to, to save you. We were all terrified,’ She sighed, packing the first aid things away.
Then, she sat on the bed next to me and undid my pony tail, letting my hair fall against my back. She gently brushed through my hair, as if I were a small child again. As she did so, she hummed a little tune, quite off key, but it was a comfortingly familiar sound.
While she was brushing through my hair, I had time to think. I wasn’t scared of the boys, of course I wasn’t, but when I looked at them, all I could see was his face. Even Harry’s curls morphed into balding, black hair and his skin turned a burnt-tanned, oily slick. I knew he couldn’t hurt me, but looking at any of the five of them was just like staring into the rage filled eyes of him.
‘Right, c’mon now Es. You better sleep now. It’s late,’ Leah said, pushing herself off the bed.
‘Stay,’ I said, reaching out to her. She nodded and got into the bed beside me, like old times. I felt safe with Leah; I always had.
‘Thank you, Bee,’ I mumbled.
‘S’okay,’ she replied. ‘Just like old times! I miss the old times sometimes.’
‘Same. But I know we’ve always got each other. I text you when my dad was there cos you used to be the one to save me, nothing’s changed,’
My eyes were heavy and I let them slide shut. As I was about to sleep I heard Leah mumble, ‘You can always count on me. Promise,’ and then I fell asleep.
I stood in front of my house. I could see into the rooms but nothing was the same. The wall paper was peeling, the tables and chairs lay broken and splintered and my photo frames and decorations were strewn across the floor. The windows were broken and the garden was wild. Staring into the windows I saw movement. The he stepped out of the door. He was dragging a sack behind him. Silently, he undid it revealing Harry’s body, cold and lifeless. I was glued to the spot as he left Harry’s body on the pavement and advanced towards me. I knew he was going to rape me. It was then I noticed the shackles around my feet, preventing me from moving. I tried to struggle but I just tumbled to the ground, falling into a hopeless heap. He was so close to me, just one foot away. He reached his hand forward, resting it on my mouth, stopping me from screaming.
I flung myself upwards, my eyes open wide, my chest rising and falling with my quick, shallow breaths. Just a dream. It was just a dream. I repeated the words over and over.
Leah lay sleeping beside me, undisturbed by my private terror. But her presence wasn’t what a craved. I needed Harry.
I tiptoed out of the room, hurrying towards where I knew he’d be.
Opening the door, he didn’t stir. I pulled back a corner of the cover and slipped in underneath it, shuffling towards him. He didn’t wake but his arms reached around me and pulled me tight to his chest. There, with his warm breath against my neck, I fell into a calm, dreamless sleep.
I was woken by Harry’s hand stroking my face.
‘Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you,’
I smiled sleepily.
‘Esme. I need to get one thing off my chest. I am so, so sorry for not getting there sooner; for cutting it that fine. I couldn’t get there quicker but I will never forgive myself for letting him get that close; for hurting you again. I couldn’t done so much more then. I could’ve hurt him and watched as the life seeped away from his body. But I knew that would mean I couldn’t be with you and that’s far more important; us being together,’
I placed my finger over his lips to stop him talking and he took the hint; he knew I want angry.
‘Ok, so the second order of the day. I’ve been meaning to give this to you since Ireland. I always have it with me, and I want to give it back to its rightful owner.’ Harry said, and as he did, he reached into his top and pulled out a long chain with my Tiffany’s key on it. ‘I knew you threw this back at me but I told you it was the visual representation of the key to my heart. And I can understand if you still don’t want it, but I want you to know it’s still yours. You still very much have the key to my heart.’
The chain wasn’t the original, that had been broken when I pulled it off, and it was much longer than the necklace was designed for. He reached into his bedside table and took out a silver chain, re threading the key onto it. He offered it to me, his eyes wide. All I could do was kiss him. After that, I stayed leaning into him as he did up the necklace. Leaning back, he grinned.
The necklace was back in its rightful place; very much where it needed to be. It hung around my neck, resting where my heart was. It was the key to his heart meaning a part of him would always be close to me heart. Having the necklace again reminded me of how far we’d come. And I realized that I had forgiven him. Completely and utterly.