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My Heart Skips A Beat

Chapter 36

“Harry! Harry!”
I was in the middle of the most bizarre dream; we were back to being contestants on The X Factor, except the judges were my sister, Paul, and all of the members of The Wanted. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, I heard my name being said over and over.
I felt a slight nudge and was woken up out of my dream to see Anna’s face above me, her eyes wide and her hair falling everywhere.
‘Harry!?” She said again.
“Huh?” I mumbled, still half asleep as she pulled me up by my arm.
“You mom, is here.”
“WHAT?!” That managed to immediately get my attention.
“She’s here. She knocked on the door; I answered it, thinking it was one of the boys. And it was your MOM. I MET YOUR MOM FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY PAJAMAS!” She was whisper-yelling and freaking out in a way that was forcing me to try and not laugh, because it was clear she was in no mood for it.
“Um, I don’t-“
“I need to get changed. And- shit – shower, and…”
“I’ll go say hello. You get ready. It’ll be fine.” I said, getting up and placing my hands on her shoulders, kissing the top of her head.
“Okay.” She breathed.
I pulled on sweatpants and a t-shirt before walking into the living room. And there, in fact, was my mum.
“What are you doing here?” Actually shocked to see here standing there.
“Well, that’s a way to greet your mother.” She said, smiling.
“No, I mean, I’m glad to see you. It’s just very-“
“Unexpected? That’s what I was going for.” She smiled, coming over for a hug and kiss on the cheek. “Anna seems lovely.”
“She was a little shocked, and… embarrassed.”
“What, why?!”
“Mum, you knock on the door at 8 AM and she answers in her pajamas, can you blame her?” She laughed.
“Well, she still seems like a wonderful girl. I can’t wait to be officially introduced.”

Twenty minutes later, Anna rushed out of my room, her hair still damp and a bright smile on her face.
“Hello! I’m so, so sorry about earlier. I was expecting one of the boys not – well, you.”
“No problem at all. I’m Anne.” My mum got up from the table, embracing Anna into a huge hug.
“I’m Anna.” She said, giggling nervously.
“Oh sweetie, I know. Trust me, Harry’s told my LOADS about you. I feel like I already know you!”
“Good things, I hope.”
“Of course, all wonderful. Sit, sit.” She said, leading Anna over to the chair next to her, setting a teacup in front of her and pouring her some.
“So mum, what exactly are you doing here?” I had to ask.
“Robin is in London for the day for work, Gemma was at a friend’s, so I thought I would surprise you!”
“I wish I had known, the boys and I have a photo shoot at noon and a magazine interview after that, but maybe we could-“
“I can um, take you to lunch, or shopping, or, something.” Anna piped up, looking slightly nervous by the way her hands were wrung together and her eyes darted from me to my mum.
“I would love that! Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Of course!” Anna responded.
“Well then I guess I’m no longer needed.” I joked.
“I guess not.” Anna joked back. I shoved her jokingly and I looked over to see my mum practically glowing at the two of us.

Opening the front door, wearing Harry’s t-shirt and a pair of tiny pajama shorts from 8th grade, to his mother no less, was definitely one of my most embarrassing moments. I had recognized her immediately though, from a framed picture in Harry’s room. I managed to quickly say hello and let her in before sprinting back into Harry’s room to wake him up.
Now, hours later, I was shopping on Oxford Street with Anne. I had called her Mrs. Cox at first, but she insisted I call her Anne, which was really nice of her. The truth was, everything about her was nice. She was great, asking questions about my school and the move to London, and not once did she mention everything that Harry and I had dealt with; even though I’m sure she knew all about it.
“So, I have to say this…” She began. I looked over from the Department Store windows I had been admiring. “Harry is my baby boy, as much as he would hate to admit it. He is, and he always will be. I can tell how happy you make him, and vice verse. The two of you are good together, and I know better than anyone that this is difficult. I’m not going to lie to you and say it ever gets completely better, but it does get easier; I hope you can remember that. He loves you, and I would hate to see him get his heart broken when he was finally able to show his true feelings for what seems like the first time.” Anne didn’t seem like she was saying this as a territorial, protective mom. It seemed like she was my friend, and that she really didn’t only care about Harry, but she also cared about me too. That was a nice feeling, if not also a little depressing. Harry’s mom really loved him, and it was clear she would do anything for him. I couldn’t help but think about my own mother: the Chanel-No. 5-wearing-New-York-City-typical-cold-and-reserved-trophy-parent. Anne was warm, and sweet, and loving, and she didn’t try to act like she knew all the answers. But she just really, cared.
“Thank you.” I managed to say. “I love him and I just-“ I was actually at a loss for words. “Just, thank you.” She smiled, wrapping her arms around my shoulder and giving me a squeeze.
“So… How long until you’re going to start asking the serious questions?” I said, half jokingly.
“I thought we could at least get through the makeup counter at Harrod’s, but we can start now if you’d like.” She smiled and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Sure, why not?”
“Well… I try to stay away from the tabloids, so I don’t know as much as you would think. But um, your parents are apart?” I took a deep breath, trying to keep my composure, remembering that we were in public.
“Well, yeah. I guess they are. It’s still kind of weird to think about. I mean, I’ve been away from them for so long, I guess I haven’t really come to terms with it.”
“I’m sure you know that Harry’s father and I divorced when he was little. And he may have only been five, but it still hurt him, the way I’m sure it’s hurting you.”
“Can I be brutally honest?”
“This is going to sound really, really terrible, but I feel like my parents getting divorced isn’t really that… big of a deal, I guess. I don’t know how else to word it. It’s just, like, ever since I was little, they were never really happy, and it only got progressively worse. I think that’s partly why I ended up here in the first place. My mom doesn’t really have a maternal bone in her body, and my dad was never home. They didn’t want to deal with me.” I suddenly felt kind of embarrassed for sharing so much. “Sorry to just, blurt all of this out. I mean, we barely know each other.” I tried to brush it off.
“No, no, don’t be sorry! I want to get to know you, that’s why I’m here. And if you ever need someone else to talk to, I would be happy to.”
“Thanks.” I said. “Can I hug you?” I said, a few tears filling the corners of my eyes, but I managed to blink them away.
“Of course love.” She said with a laugh, embracing me into her arms. We probably looked ridiculous, hugging in the middle of the street, but it felt like exactly what I needed. My own mom had never done this before, never asked my anything about my life. And most definitely, never hugged.

It was almost 6:00 when we got back to the apartment. Knocking on the door, I heard several voices on the other side. Niall answered the door, his face lighting up when he saw Harry’s mom.
“Anne!” He said happily, opening his arms for a hug. She laughed, hugging him back and giving him a peck on the cheek. The rest of the boys jumped off of the couch and hugged Harry’s mom, which gave me a second to greet harry.
“Have a good time?” He asked, giving me a quick kiss.
“I was really great.” I nodded, smiling up at him.
“I’m glad.” He took my hand discreetly as we sat down with everyone else.
“What do you boys have planned for tonight?” Anne asked.
“Nothing really, just a chill night.” Zayn said.
“Mum, I was thinking you and Robin could go to dinner with Anna and me?”
“That sounds lovely, and I’m sure Robin would love to see you!” She looked genuinely happy. Harry had texted me the idea earlier but hadn’t been sure if it was going to work out, thankfully it had.

Robin was great too. He was big and loud and funny and wanted to know all about New York and America. Dinner went really well and I almost didn’t want it to end.
When we got back to the apartment and were about to part ways, I caught a photographer lurking around the building out of the corner of my eye, camera in hand, ready for a perfect photo op.
“Um, why don’t we just step inside?” I said quietly, discreetly motioning towards the man, letting the three of them know he was there.
“Yeah, good idea.” Harry said, opening the front door with his key.
“It’s been brilliant, Harry, I’m so glad we got a chance to see you. And Anna, you’re a dream.” Robin said, putting one of his hands on each of my shoulders, beaming down at me.
“Thank you so much for dinner, Robin” Even with Harry Styles as your stepson, he still insisted on paying.
“It was my pleasure. I hope we get to see you again soon.” He was about to give Harry a goodbye when Anne said:
“Oh, wait! Harry! I have something in the car for you; will you come out with me for a quick moment to get it? I completely forgot!”
“Uh, sure.” Harry said, walking out the door with his mom.

I sort of knew my mum didn’t really have anything for me in the car and just wanted a minute alone to talk to me.
“Harry, she’s incredible.” She said, smiling up at me. I could help but smile and blush, shuffling my feet.
“I know…” I said.
“You take care of her, yeah?” I looked at her again, this time a little more confused.
“What, why? I mean, what do you mean?”
“I’m just saying, protect her. We both know how hard this all is. I just don’t want to see her get hurt. She’s a lovely girl, and doesn’t deserve it.”
“It’s funny, this conversation usually goes the other way around. But, thanks mum. And I will.” She hugged me tight, kissing me on the cheek.
“I love you, Harry.”
“I love you too.”
“I like the man that you’re turning into, I do. But you’re still always going to be my baby.” I laughed and she gave me one last hug.
“Mum? What am I supposed to tell Anna you had to give me?” I asked, knowing she most likely wouldn’t believe it anyway. My mum wasn’t the most discreet person.
“Don’t worry about it. She’s a smart one, she’d see right through me in a second.”
“Another thing I love about her.”
Me too.

“I think my mum might love you more than me.” I told Anna when we were both back upstairs in my room.
“Not sure that’s possible”, she laughed, stepping out of her heels and changing into shorts and my sweater. She pulled her hair out of its ponytail and shook it out, the loose waves falling down her back and shoulders. I walked over to where she was, running my fingers through the blonde strands. She leaned back into my chest. We were standing in front of a mirror so I could see in the reflection that her eyes had closed.
“Your mom is great. Robin too. I think I sort of forgot what normal parents are supposed to be like.” Sometimes when she talked like this, I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. So I just continued brushing her hair with my fingers and wrapped my other arm around her waist.
“Come lie down.” I said, guiding her over to my bed. She had become a pretty permanent fixture on the left side of the mattress; she even had her own drawer in my dresser, plus a shelf in the shower. It didn’t seem like she was still in school, and still had all of that to handle on top of the rest of it.
“That feels good.” Anna murmured, lying on her side as I continued to run my fingers through her hair. I pulled her close to me so her back was pressed against my chest.
A little while later, her breathing had gotten deeper and steadier, and I knew she was asleep. I couldn’t fall asleep, my mind was too active with too many thoughts.
What had my mum and Anna talked about to make her say that thing about protecting her? I thought that’s what I had been doing, or trying to at least. I’m not saying I did the most perfect job, but I tried, I really tried. Was Anna upset? Or was I just WAY over thinking this? That could easily be the answer, but it didn’t stop me from imagining every other scenario. I looked over at Anna, her eyes closed and her mouth slightly open. She looked so young, like a little girl. I wanted to protect her in every way possible, to be the best boyfriend I could be, but sometimes I wondered if that was enough. I couldn’t compensate for how difficult this relationship had been for her. I also knew that I couldn’t spend forever blaming myself for it, and knowing how hard it was for her. If she really didn’t want to deal with it, she wouldn’t be. And I knew that, I did. It was just a hard thing to come to terms with.
I finally managed to fall asleep; nuzzling my head against Anna’s shoulder. I woke up to the sound of the shower running, and an empty space next to me. I didn’t get up though; I couldn’t manage to muster up the energy. So I just lie here, staring up at the skylight, scrolling through the Twitter feed on my phone. We had been told to try and tweet as much as possible about what we were doing in our daily life, to make the fans feel like they were being kept in the loop, so I composed a new tweet.
So hungry, but don’t feel like getting out of bed! Plus, @LouisTomlinson didn’t buy anything at the market grr L

“You’re awake.” I heard Anna say. I looked away from my phone to see her wrapped in a towel, her hair dripping wet. She grabbed some clothes from her drawer and went back into the bathroom to change. I found it kinda cute that, although it’s not like I haven’t seen her like… that , before, she still felt the need to change in the bathroom. But I never said a word about it. She came back out a second later in a pair of black leggings and an oversized grey t-shirt with some School logo on it. She crawled over next to me, giving me a quick kiss before lying down next to me.
“Do you have to work today?” She asked.
“Nope. Day off. We can do whatever we want.” I looked over to see a smile on her face.
“Sounds perfect. But I do have to read Act 2 of Hamlet at some point.”
“Sounds like loads of fun.” I joked.
“I know, can’t wait.” We stayed like this for a while; not saying much, just lying together, staring at the clouded London sky through the skylight in a completely content and comfortable silence. Suddenly, I heard a buzzing. It wasn’t my phone. Anna grabbed her iPhone from the bedside table, her facial expression changing when she looked at the screen.
“What the hell?”
“Who is it?”
“Um, my….dad.” I think I was just as surprised as she was. Part of my expected her to ignore the call, but she answered after a few more rings.
“Hello?” She answered, her voice more monotone than it had been a second ago. “I’m not really in the mood-“ She was cut off by whoever was on the phone.
“Wait, WHAT?!” Her mouth fell open, she seemed speechless.
“I need. To go.” It seemed like the person on the other end was trying to convince her to stay on the phone. “No. No. I need to go. Please, don’t call me back.” They said something else. “I’ll call you with an answer when I figure this out. Goodbye.” Slamming the phone down on the bed, she let out an exasperated sigh.
“What was that?” I asked, resting a hand on her shoulder. She turned to me, her face a mixture of hurt, anger, sadness, and confusion.
“It was my dad. He’s getting married. In three weeks.”

I didn’t want to cry, it wasn’t worth it. I was just, angry?
“I didn’t even know their divorce was final.” Harry muttered. I knew he didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to either.
“I guess it is.” I said quietly, staring at my phone. “He’s been cheating on my mom for years. This shouldn’t be a surprise. But I just didn’t expect…” I couldn’t think properly. My head was spinning. I fell back onto the pillow, covering my face with my hands.
“Babe, talk to me. Please.”
“I don’t know what to say.” I felt my throat close and my eyes fill with tears. I squeezed them shut, forcing them away.
“What did he want?” Harry said, his voice soft and soothing.
“He wanted me to come to the wedding. Well, be in the wedding actually.”
“Yeah… I’m not sure what kind of response he expected. It was like he was, surprised, that I said no.”
“Well if the one encounter I’ve had with him is any indication-“ He stopped, like he was censoring himself.
“You can say it. Whatever it is.”
“He just seemed like a bit of a jackass.” I let out a quick laugh. “Yeah, pretty much.”
“I’m sorry, though. You deserve better.”
“Don’t be sorry.” I said, rolling over so I was facing Harry. He was propped up on one shoulder, gazing down at me. I mustered up a small smile, but I could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t very convincing.
“I thought things were going to be able to get back to normal. I just, I thought after everything that’s happened, we deserved that.”
“We do, baby…” He said gently, stroking my cheek. He looked so sad.
“I love you, you know?” The corner of his mouth twitched, the sparkle in his eyes returning.
“Oh really? Is it my dashing good looks? Or my winning personality?” I let out a quick burst of laughter, hitting him on the arm. “I’m kidding. And I love you. More than you could ever know. And this is just, another speed bump. And to be honest, after everything you and I have been through together, I’m starting to think we’re indestructible.” He smiled, showing me his dimples.
“You really think that?” Harry’s thumb aimlessly moved over my lips, gently trailing across my cheek, as if he was studying my face.
“Yeah, how could I not? I mean, think about it; everything that the press has done, The Oliver thing, The Poppy thing, your family, just, one thing on top of another. And through it all, here we all, still Us.” He scooted closer to me, I cuddled into his right side, and I felt some of the stress that had overtaken me in the past ten minutes melt away.
“How do you do that?” I asked casually.
“Make me feel so much better, and like everything’s gonna be okay, just like that?” He chuckled softly, holding my tighter. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t need to. He just let me lay there as he played with my hair. Even though I had a million thoughts running through my head, the safety I felt right now allowed to me to let them all go just for a few minutes, and be happy for everything that I had going for me.


@notarealhipster Who do you imagine anna as?


I'm from the US, outside of Philly :)
Where are you from? My side of the pond (United States) or the other one?
I love this story it's my favorite one I've read so far! :)