𝐕𝐈𝐈. I’m a Flower, You’re My Bee
𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐃 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐓: 10k
𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐏𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐍𝐎𝐓𝐄𝐒: sexual content, mentions of food and alcohol, smoking
OUTFITS & INSPO ⌕ CHAPTER INDEX ⌕ PLAYLIST
Dates are overrated.
Or perhaps, that’s what Harry keeps telling himself because he’s practically shitting himself.
Going on dates with Talulah, it was amazing, spending time with her and talking about nothing and everything… it truly didn’t matter where they chose to go; Harry always had the time of his life whenever he was in her company. It was easy with her– familiar for reasons unknown to him, he just couldn’t put his finger on it, why she seemed so different from anyone he’s ever dated or been with.
As he washes his hair, he thinks back to his last relationship. Loren was lovely. But, to this day, Harry thinks he shouldn’t have let his friend talk him into going on a date with her, who was a friend of a friend of a friend. Sure, she was gorgeous, he would never deny that. And she was funny, she was kind. But the timing was never right. Or perhaps, that’s what he kept telling himself because he was just too afraid of hurting people, and maybe, just maybe, she was the wrong person all along.
Harry was a perfectionist. He liked planning things ahead and knowing his schedule word by word. So, when Loren came around, it meant making sacrifices–as one does in relationships–and Harry thinks, at the time, he was just not ready for that. His priority at the time had been on making Wild at Heart happen, taking an idea in his head and bringing it to life. It was a tough few years, even before Loren, and Harry usually felt on edge, sleepless and head all over the place. And when all Loren wanted to talk about was having a family, Harry couldn’t help but, though selfish, end things between them.
Yes, he finds himself thinking, it was a bit selfish because no one actually forced him to go out with her. He met her at that restaurant, and he said yes to another date. He enjoyed his time with her, and he liked her. But, Harry shakes his head at the thought, that was it.
He looks out the window, now completely dressed and hands in his hair trying to make it look like he didn’t spend much time on it when he knows that’s far from reality. There’s an elderly couple, with their hands intertwined as they walk their dog, and it makes him smile, hands paused in the air. It’s beginning to get dark out despite it being mid-February, so he tries to hurry up, knowing there’s not much time left and that he still needs to pick Talulah up from her flat before driving to their destination and finally meet Ben and his boyfriend there.
When he arrives at Talulah’s flat, parked and all alert as he waits for her to come down, he can’t help but feel a pang of sadness in his chest, knowing how they’ve yet to mention the wedding or talked about it since. He knows they need to mention it, talk about it, but he feels nervous asking as he knows it’s such a delicate topic and it’s something that would upset her. Despite all that, he knows he has to ask when it’s just the two of them and they’re somewhere Talulah feels comfortable and safe.
He notices a splash of colour from the corner of his eye, something vibrant amongst all the grey and brown of the buildings, and it’s Talulah with her green trousers and her big, cosy coat– one that looks as happy and content as Harry would if he too was wrapped around her body. She walks to the other side of the car with a smile on her face when she finally notices Harry staring, and the car fills with the smell of vanilla and citrus as soon as she steps foot inside, taking her place on the passenger seat.
“Hey,” Harry beats her to it, leans forward for a kiss on the cheek. “Y’look very pretty,” the words leave his mouth, every syllable hitting her cheek with the hushed tone of his voice.
She smiles, eyes closing as she does so, and Harry feels her cold hand on his cheek, thumb pressing ever so gently to his dimple. It’s a thank you, he knows it by now, though the touch, despite her cold fingertips, doesn’t feel any less exciting and exhilarating on his skin, almost burning his flesh and consuming it as her eyes wander across his face.
They arrive, both their cheeks warm with the heat from inside the car as they step out of it, and without thinking, Harry reaches for her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers as they walk inside the building. It’s comfortable, and neither of them stop to look at their fingers like they do in the films, though Harry sees Talulah smile from the corner of his eye while she taps on her phone, with one hand, trying to reach Ben to see if they’re around. They wait for them to enter the building with their hands still intertwined, and Harry squeezes once so she turns to him, eyebrows raised but the tiny smile still present on her face.
“What?” She laughs when Harry doesn’t say anything, and squeezes his hand back. “You’re such an attention seeker, you know?”
The challenge makes him smile, as if his mouth did anything other than smiling when she’s around, and he takes a tiny step closer to her body. Foreheads almost touching, he whispers, “You’ve seen nothing yet.”
“All right, we’re in public.”
“I didn’t do anything!”
“You’re being all–” she waves her free hand around. “–All whisper-y and stuff.”
Cheeks hurting from all the smiling, he lifts up his head and he catches two men walking towards them, their hands intertwined just like theirs. “Is that Ben?”
Talulah looks up as well, turning to the direction Harry’s looking at. “Yes,” she nods, hand squeezing Harry’s once more. “Ben and Luke.”
They walk into their comfortable bubble with a smile on their faces, and the first thing Harry notices about Luke is how tall he is compared to Ben, making him look almost pocket-size.
Ben looks between the two, though the smile on his face remains. “Sorry, are we late?” He says, and a chuckle leaves his mouth when Talulah lets go of Harry’s hand and wraps her arms around Ben.
Harry watches as they sway back and forth, and can’t help the smile that appears on his face at the sight. He then remembers Luke.
“I’m Harry.” he smiles at him.
Luke returns it, and they greet each other with a handshake.
“So,” Ben squeezes Talulah one last time before pushing her into Harry’s side, eyes full of mischief as he looks them up and down. “Bowling?”
As they begin playing, with Ben going first– followed by Talulah, Harry asks about Luke’s job and how long Ben and him had been together. He learns that Luke is a bit shy at first, though when he mentions their new kitten Bobbart–what an interesting name, Harry thinks–Luke seems to get more comfortable around him. He talks about the cat with happiness shining through his eyes and when they sit back down after their turns, they take turns showing each other pictures of their pets.
Ben clears his throat after Luke wins and turns to them with a smug smile. “We’re a team anyway,” he says, eyes never leaving his boyfriend’s tall frame who’s doing a happy dance. “We’re partners. Pardners.”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Ben.”
“It is. Gays always win.”
“I hate playing anything with you,” Talulah sighs, throwing herself on the seat next to Harry, their knees touching briefly. “You always do this,” she places her hand on Harry’s knee, squeezing before Harry’s hand finds hers, thumb stroking her warm skin.
“I’m kinda hungry,” Luke comes up from behind Ben, arm wrapping around him like the touch is a routine for them. “Shall we have a bite here or?”
“I’m hungry, too.”
Harry looks at Talulah and without much thought, he places his hand on her cheek, thumb stroking her cheekbone softly as he nods.
“We can eat here if you all want to, I don’t mind.”
“Okay, let’s,” Ben says, gaze lingering on Harry and Talulah a beat longer.
In a bold move, Talulah places her hand on Harry’s leg as she chews, the heat of Harry’s leg–and his presence in general–warming up her own skin; from her hand to the top, the warmth reaching her face, cheeks, and every living cell in her body. Harry responds in his own way, and places his own hand on hers, squeezing once before he turns her way and gives her a smile. It’s so sweet, being in his presence, and not just his but in her friends’ presence– it all means so much to her that she suddenly feels all choked up, eyes tearing up despite the sour smell of food and other fragrances in the air.
As the waiter collects their empty plates, Talulah notices Harry’s attention shifting from their table to somewhere behind where Ben and Luke are seated. Naturally, she follows his gaze, and stops at a blonde and another lady, whose for a short second she feels jealous of, her smooth skin and dark features looking perfect under the fluorescent lights. When they make eye contact, she turns her attention back to the blonde. It’s obvious when the blonde notices them, because a barely-there smile appears on her face, and she lifts up her arm in a poor-attempt of a wave– clearly directed at the man who’s been eyeing her: Harry.
“Do you know her?” Talulah chooses to ask, voice hushed as if she’s letting him in on a secret.
Harry turns to her, clearly unaware of Talulah watching him for a while now, and he nods. Before he can open his mouth though, they both notice the woman standing up, fixing her skirt before she begins walking towards them ever-so-slowly, as if she deliberately wants them–and everyone else in the room–to watch her do it.
“She’s my ex.”
“Oh,” she mutters, eyes falling to her lap. “Okay.”
She doesn’t notice how close the woman is until she feels it. Her tall figure stands at their table, a bashful smile on her face as Talulah watches, growing angry as the seconds pass.
The blonde finally speaks.
Ben and Luke are clearly confused, though they don’t make a sound as they watch the woman, whose gaze keeps darting between Harry and Talulah, and it makes her feel like a caged animal.
“Hi, Loren,” Harry nods, and smiles–not exactly–. “How are you?”
“I’m good. It’s good to see you again… hi,” she nods at Talulah, then Ben and Luke, though theirs last no longer than a second. She turns to Talulah again. “I’m Loren.”
But before she can do or say anything else, Harry clears his throat, turns to Talulah with a brief smile before looking back up to Loren.
“These are my– friends, Ben, Luke, and Talulah.”
Well, Talulah thinks, I see.
“Nice meeting you guys,” Loren nods, clearly not feeling the distress and confusion Talulah is feeling at the moment. “Just wanted to say hi. I’ll–” she nods at their drinks. “–Leave you guys to it. See you around… Harry.”
“Yeah– see ya.”
The air shifts around the four of them, Ben’s eyes finding Talulah’s as they make a conversation with their eyes while Luke chooses to focus on his burger. Meanwhile, Talulah notices Harry shift uncomfortably in his seat, clearly trying to find a better position as if he’s sat on something; something sharp, something knifelike. She doesn’t turn to him though. Instead, she reaches for her cocktail, takes a tiny sip before deciding to go all the way, and takes a big gulp of the orange drink, then clears her throat without intending to.
As if on cue, Ben starts talking.
“Did Luke show you Bobbart?” He asks, the question directed at Harry more than Talulah. “He climbs everything now but can’t get down. He’s so stupid.”
“Can we go? I have to wake up early tomorrow.”
The sudden remark makes everyone turn to her, Ben’s lips pursed as Luke crumples yet another napkin into a ball, then leaves it in his now nearly-empty plate. Harry, there’s something so alert and vigilant in the way he’s looking at her, eyes almost too wide while his mouth is turned downwards into a tiny, barely-there frown.
He looks at Ben for a moment, as if he senses the tension as well as the protective glances sent Talulah’s way, then turns back to her and says, “Are you okay?”
Is she, really? No.
“Okay… we can go if you want–”
And that’s that.
It’s quarter to eleven when Harry parks his Mini in front of her flat, both their cheeks warm from the AC in the car, and it’s not until Talulah opens the passenger door that her brain fills with fresh air, oxygen finally–whether it be scientifically true or not–reaching the part that needs it the most.
Harry follows her and gets out of the car, locking it before his eyes follow hers, as if to ask if he’s allowed to do that; invite himself in. And he is, he so is, Talulah thinks, though she still feels guilt for letting her guard down even after being friend-zoned by this very charming man. They stand there, on the pavement for a moment before she swallows, and begins walking towards the stairs that lead to her flat. He follows quietly, as if to stop himself from frightening her with his not-so-assertive footsteps, and they’re finally inside, in the warmth of her flat.
He watches as she takes her shoes off and sets them aside, her coat and bag following close behind before she makes her way further inside, not even glancing back at him to see if he’s following. She realises it takes him a bit to take his own shoes off, then his jacket, and he’s finally in her space again as the kettle boils, letting out a shrill sound when it’s done.
“Making tea,” she mumbles. “Milk’s in the fridge, help yourself.”
“Are you–” Harry takes a hesitant step forward, hand somehow in the air as if he’s trying to reach her– both physically, and emotionally. “–What’s wrong?”
It’s funny, she thinks, how he doesn’t even get it, why she’s so hesitant and silent all of a sudden, and deep inside, she wants to be angry– feel it burning inside her and light her up like a campfire.
She takes the kettle off the hob and pours the water into their mugs, then walks away from him, silently offering him the luxury of pouring his own. He follows her after a moment, his own tea in hand, and he stands in the middle of her living room and Talulah thinks he’s trying to decide whether to take the seat closest or further away from her, depending on her. Past memories of her on her knees, in front of him on that sofa–where she’s seated–pops up in Talulah’s head for a second before Harry decides it’d be much safer if he just chose the armchair nearby.
“Talulah,” Harry says, placing his mug on a coaster.
“What’s going on?”
“Are we friends, Harry?” She asks bitingly.
A breath leaves her mouth, one that was intended to be a bitter laugh. “Don’t worry.”
Harry grows nervous, and confused by the look of his raised eyebrows.
“No, tell me. Talk to me.”
“I am. I am talking to you.”
He shakes his head, tea forgotten on the table in front of them while Talulah sips hers. “You’re not, though. You’re not being open–”
“–Oh save me that therapist bullshit, Harry. I’m not in the mood.”
“And what makes you think I am?”
“I didn’t think we were best friends. Buds. Mates. I thought you liked me. I obviously liked you– in a non-friends way. Thought that was clear when I sucked your cock.”
The words almost make him flinch, clearly not expecting such language at this moment, but he recovers quickly.
“I like you. Are you out of your mind? Of course I like you.”
“You told your ex I was a friend. That’s like,” she takes another sip, the warmth reaching her insides as she shakes her head briefly. “The first rule in the book.”
“What book is that?”
“The you like each other and you’re more than friends even though you don’t have a title’ book. Are you embarrassed? Or still hung up on her?”
It’s Harry’s turn to let out a breath. “Are you serious?”
“I am,” and, she thinks, for the first time in my life, I am making that clear.
She doesn’t expect him to get up from where he’s sitting, and walk up to her on the sofa. What she also doesn’t expect is when he sits down, harshly so, and pulls her into him from the back of her head and presses their lips in a both mouth and heart bruising kiss that takes her breath away.
She can’t do anything but respond, pressing harder into his side as they kiss, Harry’s tongue swiping across her lips before he pulls away, then peppers tiny kisses all over her mouth, as if he’s trying to comfort her. She doesn’t need comfort, or maybe she does, but what she mostly needs is another bruising kiss and maybe some more.
He presses their foreheads together.
“You can’t just kiss me and shut me up.”
“You’re unbelievable,” he whispers, his tea-breath hitting her face, but it feels warm– lovely. “And in the most perfect way.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re so stubborn, and you’re so lovely. I like you. So much. I told you, didn’t I?”
She’s not giving up easily. “Why did you introduce me as a friend? Especially in front of my friends, making me look like a twat. A joke.”
Harry shakes his head immediately. “You’re never a joke… Loren is– she’s not the type of person I would like to share you with.”
“Again,” Talulah sighs, forehead starting to feel too warm– too fucking warm and damp for her liking. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She’s weird. She’s become weird, I mean, after the breakup. I like you. I don’t eat my friends out–” that makes her cheeks warm up. “–I don’t kiss my friends like this. I don’t want to share you– us, with someone like Loren. She’s not in my life. Don’t want her to be in my life.”
“Still, that made me feel like shit.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry– I didn’t think how that would make you feel and I should have.”
“I really am, T, I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me?”
“Yes. I can. If you kiss me some more?”
Harry smiles, pressing their foreheads harder before he kisses the tip of her nose, then her cupid’s bow before finally pressing his dampened lips to hers. It’s sweet, and much gentle this time, and it makes something awaken in the pit of her stomach. She brings her palm up to his chin and rubs the stubble there before finding the back of her neck, pressing harder into him as she responds with enthusiasm. Harry stops for a moment just to press tiny kisses all over her mouth, on the same spot once or twice, then they’re kissing again, and again, and again.
She pulls away first, taking a deep breath, then looks him dead in the eye. “I want to suck your cock.”
“You’re killing me.”
“I do. Do you?”
Harry lets out a low whine, hand still on her neck. “Are you for real? Are you even real? Do I– I get hard just thinking about you… your lips, your face…”
“All right, cowboy, save that for our wedding vows. Now,” she takes his hand, and places it on his side. “I’m gonna suck your cock.”
Harry watches her get on her knees with a glint in her eyes, almost teary, and it makes him growl into the comfortable silence of her flat while she bites her lip, trying to unbutton his trousers. He helps her with shaky hands and trembling fingers, sliding both his trousers and underwear down, letting them pool around his ankles as she just sits there, resting on her heels. His cock, half-hard, rests on his hairy thighs as he watches her watch him with hunger in her eyes, and he reaches there, hesitantly, and takes his cock in his hand.
It’s obvious she likes it, likes watching him touch himself, so he continues stroking himself, taking his time to rub his tip and the precum there before he reaches and strokes her neck with his other hand.
“So fucking lovely, you are,” he touches his balls, whining into the still air around them, the feeling making him feel hot all over. “Love watching and sucking, don’t you?”
With her bottom lip trapped behind her teeth, she nods. “Yes.”
“Bet you’re so wet…”
“Please make me suck your cock. I need it– choke me…”
“Fuckin’ hell. You’re so good, how did I get this lucky, hm?”
“Do I deserve it?”
He thumbs at his slit again, the precum still oozing out as his cock and balls begin to feel so tight– so warm, so he comes to the edge of his seat on the sofa, clearly ready for her mouth to just take him in.
He whines at her previous comment nevertheless. “Do you deserve it? Of course, you do, sweet girl. Deserve it so much and I’m gonna give it to you.
And then, “Come,” he whispers. “Take it.”
As if on cue, she opens her mouth, but doesn’t move for a moment, eyes still wide as she watches his hard cock. Tongue darts out first, then she leans forward and takes him into her mouth. It’s warm, the insides of her mouth feeling so fucking nice around his cock that it makes him cry out, a hiss more like, and she suckles at the head, her slippery tongue gliding so perfectly across the pink, wet tip.
She hums around him, taking him deeper and deeper as she begins sucking, head bobbing up and down.
“Y’like it, don’t you?”
“God– T. I fucking– oh my God.”
He can’t say anything else after that, other than cries and hisses following close behind his moans as she keeps sucking, teeth coming out to play once or twice, very gently– just the way he likes it. She wraps her hand around him to help suck more efficiently while the other finds his balls, fumbling with them and squeezing, making him groan at the tight feeling. He wants to cum, but he loves the view. Loves watching her saliva drip down her chin, to his thighs as she keeps sucking and licking, and loves seeing her enjoy something as dirty as this– something so private and just for them.
“Can I cum– in your mouth,” he manages to choke out the words, but she shakes her head, letting go of his cock just enough for her to mumble out the sacred words.
“Cum on my face.”
“Fuck. Are you sure?”
She takes him into her mouth again, and she goes deeper this time, surprising both herself and him when she doesn’t choke as his tip touches the very end of her throat, making him mumble out a chocked ‘fuck’, eyes beginning to tear up again as she holds him there for a moment longer before she begins sucking again. He grabs her by the chin and helps her take him out, and she watches with eyes glinting under the soft lights as he paints her face with long, white stripes, his cum covering her lips, nose and even her cheekbone while she sits still with tongue out and eyes closed.
It’s a Godly sight, and Harry thinks he might be in love.
“It’s your turn,” Harry says, putting some more rice into his mouth.
She puts her spoon back into her bowl, the metal laying perfectly against the mess of her food–chicken tikka masala–and lets out a ‘mmm’.
“Okay,” she nods. “First celebrity crush? Make it saucy.”
Harry laughs. “Justin Timberlake. Not that saucy I’m afraid.”
“Oh, I love that. Mine was Sandy from SpongeBob. Sorry?” She winces, though Harry laughs still. “Anyway. Your turn again.”
They’re sitting on the floor, on Talulah’s favourite cushions, eating their food as Yellow House’s ‘Love in the Time of Socialism’ plays softly in the background. I am home whenever you are near’, it sings softly, ‘there’s no life in anything when you’re not here’.
Harry smiles at her softly, not saying anything even after the nod she gave his way. His gaze is soft, so soft and kind that it feels like a warm blanket over her, so she reaches with her spoon and touches the tip of his nose as if he would understand her secret language. From the looks of it, Harry does, dimples deepening and smile becoming even wider at the gesture.
“Okay,” he nods, mumbling softly when she looks at him expectantly. “What would you be if not a photographer?”
“Oh, probably a trophy wife.”
“Or a teacher.”
“Way better. First kiss?” He bites into his chicken, then takes some more rice.
“Hey,” she quips. “It was my turn.”
“You can have two turns after this.”
“Nicholas O’Connell. Aged thirteen. He nearly broke my teeth.”
Her face makes him laugh, and he laughs harder when she winces. “Hope you don’t make that face when thinking about our kisses.”
“What’s your favourite sex positon?” She asks, an all-knowing smile appearing on her face.
She looks younger like that, he thinks, and it makes him smile, despite the cheeky question.
“So it’s like that, huh?”
“Answer my question!”
“Okay, uh… this will make me sound so boring, but, doggy.”
“I knew it,” she reaches and flicks him on the chest. “Ask every guy the same question, they will say the same thing.”
His eyebrows raise in question. “That a bad thing?”
“No. I like doggy.”
He grins into his spoon. “Good to know.”
“Mhm. Okay, it’s still my turn. Into threesomes or not– wait,” she shouts. “Changing my question: ever had a threesome?”
“Nope. And to answer your not-question question, I’m not bothered, I guess. I’m a jealous person– I don’t know if I could share you like that.”
They both stop for a moment, Harry’s spoon still in the air, and he only now realises what he’d just said.
Thinking back to their untitled-relationship, Harry doesn’t think what he said to be odd. Though he doesn’t know, or can pinpoint the exact time he started including Talulah in his future plans, if that.
“I feel the same,” she whispers, a tiny smile appearing on her face.
And it means a lot.
When they’re standing side by side in her tiny kitchen, Harry helping with loading the washing machine, Harry presses a tiny kiss to her dimple, and it’s so warm and lovely it makes them both smile, and Talulah comes closer, forehead pressing to the crook of his neck.
“Have you spoken to your mum,” Harry asks, and he sort of regrets asking, doesn’t want to frighten or make her upset, but she doesn’t seem to care all that much.
She shakes her head. “Don’t really feel like it to be honest. I want to focus on work. And you.”
“And me, yes. I like that.”
“You do, do you…”
“Come here,” he brings his arms around her and engulfs her in a hug, pressing her face in the crook of his neck. “You’re brilliant.”
“Oh, shush,” her hair tickles the side of his neck when she shakes her head. “You’re lovely. Oh!” She pulls away. “Bo. How’s Bo?”
“Bo’s splendid. He would love it if you visited sometime.”
He clears his throat in a joking manner, reaching for yet another glass in the sink as they continue their work. “I myself,” he nods. “And Bo– would love it if you visited.”
She nods, and grabs the glass from him. “You’re welcome.”
“Hey, how’s Zayn?”
“Oh. He’s fine. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it but he and his fiance were kinda taking a break–” she nods when he raises his eyebrows. “They’re apparently working on each other, that’s what he said this morning. At least they’re sleeping in the same bed again now.”
“Eh. I think they’ll get through it, you know?”
Harry nods, watching as she leans forward to fix a knife in the washing machine. “Yeah, hope so. Zayn’s nice.”
“He is. He thinks you’re nice as well.”
“I can cross that off my checklist then.”
“Freak. Come here,” she places her hands on his hips and brings him into a sweet kiss. “Mmm. You taste like curry.”
It makes him chuckle, but still kisses her lips for the second time anyway. “You do too, freak.”
They work in silence, as comfortable as it can in the cramped space, and it’s almost as if their hearts are holding extra space in the small space, though neither of them seem to mind. Harry feels his chest tighten at the stillness of it all, the comfortable silence and the ease of it all. The warmth of their presence in each other’s space feels like the first rays of morning sunshine hitting your cold cheeks through a window as you sip your drink, thinking of nothing but the light that is seeping through the cracks and still shadows of furniture creating the perfect picture of a warm, cosy morning.
Before he can say anything, Talulah turns to him.
“I don’t think I ever want to see my mum. Like,” as the last spoon is placed in the washing machine, she grabs the tea towel by the side and wipes the counter. “Ever.”
“That’s valid,” Harry says, humming. “Very valid.”
“What even is my life? Mother gets married to my ex. That’s some reality TV right there.”
Not knowing what to say, he just sighs, and rubs the side of her cheek with his thumb. She nods, at nothing in particular, though stays quiet for another minute as they stand at the sink.
She turns her back to the sink, leaning on the counter. “He asked me to marry him once.”
At the revelation, Harry feels himself grow jealous. “Daniel?” He says, bitingly.
“Yeah. Dan,” pause. “I wasn’t ready. I still am not when it comes to something like that– and he just– this is shit. I don’t know how to make sense of it. I don’t… think I’ll ever make sense of it. I’m–” she turns to him, like breaking the fourth wall, and shakes her head. “I’m sorry, I’m dumping all my trauma onto you. I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to do that.”
“Hey, no,” he presses a kiss to her chin, hand wrapping around her waist. “Please. You can talk to me. I’m okay with that.”
“It’s heavy shit. Frustrating.”
“I know– I don’t care. You can talk to me. Talulah– you’re not on your own, you know that right?”
“I don’t think you’re believing in that, when you say ‘yes’.”
“It’s just– I’m sorry.”
Harry shakes his head, despite her not looking at him. He squeezes her waist. “Don’t. You’ve nothing to apologise for. I’m here. With you– for you. Ben is here. Zayn… we all are.”
She looks up with a tiny smile. “And I’m here for you, too.”
“I don’t know why she would do such a thing, why he would do it. He must’ve known. I mean– I don’t expect her to talk about me. At all. But– still.”
“I know, baby. It’s not fair, you don’t deserve this.”
“I don’t want to see or talk to either of them,” she shrugs, like it’s no big deal. He knows it is. To her, it really is.
He sighs into her hair, pressing her body into him closer. “I know and I will try and make sure you never do. Okay?”
They stay like that for another minute, maybe even more before Talulah squeezes out of his embrace, only a little, to look up at him, to see him properly. They hold each other’s gaze until she speaks.
“I found a therapist,” she mumbles, voice low and eyes wavering. “I haven’t called yet. But, I found one.”
Harry nods, as if to let her know he’s listening, and to let her talk at her own pace. “Yeah?” He says after a beat when she doesn’t say anything.
“Yeah. Actually, Ben suggested it. It was something I always considered. Even went once or twice but– yeah.”
“And how do you feel about it now?” He doesn’t want to say anything wrong, or make her upset with the choice of words, so he just hopes it’s enough for now. “That’s really nice of Ben, as well.”
“I feel… I don’t know. Hopeful? For the first time in a while, actually,” she plays with the hem of Harry’s jumper, fingers shaky on the soft material. “I’m looking forward to it, if that makes sense.”
“It does! It makes me happy knowing that,” a kiss is pressed to her ear, making her giggle.
“So, yeah. I’ll try and call her tomorrow. See if I can get an appointment.”
“That’s great, baby.”
“Okay, enough about me–”
Harry places his thumb and index on her lips, squeezing in a joking manner. “Never enough. Never ever– can never get enough of you.”
She whines. “Let’s put on a film and hope that Bo forgives me for holding you hostage.”
Harry leaves after three episodes of Friends, and Talulah goes to work with an uncontrollable smile on her face the next morning, smiling at nearly everyone who passes by as she sing-songs her good morning’s. That’s not to say she never talks to people at work, or outside, really. She just doesn’t seem, or look that enthusiastic at nine o’clock in the morning usually. It’s just Olive in the reception when she walks in, and they share a smile as Olive compliments her on her shoes before she’s ushered into the lift by Zayn, who looks like he’d been waiting in there for quite some time.
“Taking your sweet time, aren’t you,” he says, placing a cigarette behind his ear. “What’s going on, then?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shrugs. “Nothing. You look like you’ve had sex before you came in.”
That makes her gasp. “I didn’t have sex, stop being so… so nasty.”
She doesn’t respond. One, it wasn’t… sex, she wants to quip, though she stays mute. And two, she did have something yesterday, and technically, you could count that as sex...ual.
“None of your business. Get out,” she murmurs, earning a grin from the tall man.
Zayn’s grin only widens when Talulah doesn’t meet his eyes. “You’re so full of shit. This is our floor.”
“Get out of here. So–”
“Oh my God, leave me alone, it's too early for this– for you,” she makes her way towards the kitchen area, her coffee cup in hand, ready to be prepared.
Zayn follows. “Harry, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, Zayn. Now, get out of my way.”
She rolls her eyes, hands reaching for her tin of instant coffee. “Am I with you today?” She asks, putting the kettle on.
“I have to check.”
“You don’t check your calendar before coming into work?”
He doesn’t even flinch when he says, “I’ve heard worse. Hey,” he perks up. “Jules and I want to have you over for dinner soon. She insisted. You know how little I like your company.”
She smiles at the mention of Jules. “So, you guys are good?”
“Working on it… she thinks it’ll be nice. Having you around and shit.”
“I’m not playing your therapist, just saying.”
Zayn rolls his eyes. “Does tomorrow work? Or you’ve got another date planned with Harvey? Sex-date.”
“Harry. You said it right the first time, you muppet. And no. I don’t have a date with Harry tomorrow. I got my fix last night, unlike you… apparently.”
MJ walks in with a large, steaming mug in hand, and gives them a nod. “Morning. I’m glad I found you both here,” he takes a large sip. “Zayn, Billie Piper will be here at ten o’clock instead of eleven. Talulah, I know it’s last minute but can you do Billie at ten, then join Farrah for her shoot with Lila Moss at one o’clock?”
She tries to visualise her timetable for the day. “I think so. I need to edit in a bit so I’ll try to finish until one– I think I can manage.”
“I would appreciate that,” MJ nods. “Sorry, it’s last minute. Greg fell and broke both legs–”
“–Oh my God.”
“He’s in the hospital, he’s fine… other than their legs. We’ll manage. Okay,” he takes a spoon from the rack. “I gotta run. See you guys in a bit.”
Zayn nods while Talulah mutters, “Bye.”
“I don’t even know who Lila Moss is.”
“She’s Kate Moss’ daughter,” Zayn says, taking the cigarette from behind his ear.
“Oh, wow. Okay. Don’t mention any of this to MJ. Or anyone for that matter.”
They make their way to the lifts, and Zayn presses the button to take them up to the roof for a cigarette before they start their work day. They’re both quiet, until Talulah speaks.
“I don’t think I’ll go through with the mortgage thing,” she says, alluding to the times she’d bugged the shit out of both Zayn and Isabelle. “I don’t want to move out. I don’t want a house– I don’t need that in my life right now.”
Zayn hums. “What made you realise that? I thought you were eager to buy a house?”
“I was. Until I wasn’t. I wanted it because everyone seemed to do so. I thought that was what you needed to do once you… you grew up, you know what I mean? I don’t need to follow in– in anyone’s steps. I earn enough and I’m fine with renting… for now.”
“You’re right,” Zayn nods, placing his hand on her waist, guiding her out of the lift, to the doors leading to the roof. “Mortgage stuff is frustrating. You don’t need that in your life right now. Your flat is nice. You could even rent another place, if you wanted to. Don’t need to buy a fucking house yet, T. Go at your own pace and all that, you know?”
“I know… I know. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. Come, roll me one,” he gestures at her tobacco bag. “I’m in the mood for a nicotine coma.”
Harry thinks it’s a great opportunity, Wild at Heart being quiet for it gives him time to work on a centrepiece. He takes a minute to admire his work, the orchids an enchanting shade of blue, their flowers resembling a butterfly with wings a midnight blue and violet. He hears someone coming in so he looks up from his work, though the smile on his face is suddenly replaced with a frown, eyes squinting as he watches the man walk closer to his work station. It’s Daniel, Dan, wearing yet-another expensive looking shirt and navy, well-fitted trousers, and his hair looks so effortlessly cool that Harry feels a pang of jealousy in the pit of his stomach.
“Hi, Harry,” he stands in front of him, hand extended as his perfume overpowers all his senses. “Hope it’s not a bad time.”
And it is. It definitely is, Harry wants to say, even scowl at the man, scream at him or maybe break his nose. But he just shrugs, as pathetic as it sounds, and stands up from where he’s sitting.
“Did you need something?” He asks, not missing the look he’s just gotten from the taller man. “Jeanette and I talked. Was there something you needed from me?”
“Look, mate,” Dan looks around, then presses his bottom half to the table Harry was using a moment ago. “I know you know. And it’s complicated. I just need to reach Talulah but I’ve no way to do that.”
“And… you’re her friend, aren’t you?”
Harry feels himself grow angrier by the second, cheeks already feeling hot, Dan’s audacity making him feel all shaky and frustrated.
With great confidence, Harry says, “Friend? She’s my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend?” Dan looks him up and down, though Harry doesn’t sense jealousy. Or maybe he’s just shit at this game. “Okay. I just need to clear the air. I need that closure.”
“You married her mum, you know that right? I mean… that’s like– the rule before the first ever rule of what not to do after you break up with someone.”
Dan scoffs. Harry stands his ground. “I know. I’m just, really lost. I need her to– I don’t know. Forgive me? Listen to me?”
“She doesn’t owe you anything. She’s done with both of you,” Harry says, eyes wandering down at Dan’s hands, trying to spot a ring. He finds it easily.
Dan, though, he seems stubborn, almost looks like he’s going to stomp his foot down.
“I know that. I just need to talk to her. And since you’re with her…”
“–You’re not with–”
Harry cuts him. “No, as in I’m not helping you in any shape or form.”
Another customer enters the shop, and Jo comes out from the back with a smile on her face, but not before she looks Dan up and down with a frown, confusion clear on her face. Harry watches them talk while one of the customers walks over to where Dan and Harry are standing, towards the till area where flower seeds are.
“Right,” Harry says, turning to Dan. “Work calls. Take care.”
Dan sighs, running his slender fingers through his hair. “I’ll come back– I’m not giving up. Not this time.”
Harry turns around, walking towards the customer, not even bothering with a response.
“Hello,” he says to the woman closest, then turns to greet the other. “How are you today?”
They both smile, the shorter one’s dimples deepening. “Good, thanks. I actually need help with something,” she puts the seed package back, and looks up at Harry with her brown eyes. “I got my English Ivy from you, but the leaves are turning yellow! I tried every flower food but to no avail.”
“Too much water can cause that,” Harry nods. “Ivy grows in well draining soil and actually prefers it when the top inch of the soil dries out somewhat between bouts of watering. You can use your finger to detect the moisture of the soil.”
“Okay so,” she pouts. “Should I stop watering it?”
“You can start off by replanting it. They require porous, light soil and a pot that will allow them to drain effectively…” he smiles when she takes her phone out of her bag and presumably opens up her Notes app.
She keeps typing. “Okay…”
“Drainage holes are important when planting or replanting. Use a ratio of three parts potting soil mixed with one part perlite for good soil structure. Like I said, try replanting and see what happens. If nothing changes, we can try some nutrients for your Ivy, some liquid fertiliser, magnesium… you can email me anytime, send pictures and stuff– I’d be happy to help.”
“Thank you so much, you’re so nice. I’ll try all of this… thank you.”
“Happy to help.”
He smiles when she gives him a grin, pocketing her phone, and she stops him before he can walk towards the other lady.
“Hey. I was looking at the seeds and… I have to ask,” she says. “Why don’t you do something like, buy seeds and help the bees?” She gestures at the messy seed stand by the till.
Harry follows her gaze, then looks back at her, a pout appearing on his face. “Elaborate?”
“When it’s warmer especially… sow some seeds to help the bees. Would also be a good advertisement for the shop! Sorry,” she laughs. “I work in PR and Advertisement. I get excited about these things.”
Harry chuckles, nodding at her. “Oh, no worries, this is actually so clever, I will think about it! And we can maybe stay in touch via email or something? If I needed some help with all the… you know, advertisement bits?”
The woman nods enthusiastically, then takes her phone out again. “Sure thing! I’m Jasmine, by the way–”
“Harry,” he shakes her hand, smiling. “Nice meeting you.”
“I’ll give you my phone number as well. Just in case.”
“Thank you, Jasmine, you’re very kind!”
“Oh, and by the way,” she turns to the other lady who’s now standing by the pink begonias. “That’s my friend, Simone, she’s a photographer so she can also help with taking pictures and whatnot… you know– for the social media pictures and stuff, if you wanted, of course.”
“Oh,” Harry says, taken back by the kindness. “I actually– my… girlfriend– she’s a photographer. Yeah.”
“Can you– don’t tilt your chin, stay that way, please. Yeah– perfect!”
Lila Moss doesn’t take directions very well.
Talulah doesn’t know if it’s because she likes to do her own thing–literally–or if it’s the fact that she’s got an attitude when it comes to directions: rolling her eyes whenever someone tries to direct her, or sighing audibly every five minutes. It can be frustrating, for both the crew and the model, and Talulah finds herself praying that this will go as smoothly and quickly as possible so she can have her lunch and if she’s lucky, a cigarette during said lunch.
She moves a bit closer, and tilts her head to the side as the camera in her face follows. “Chin up just a tiny bit–”
“You said not to move just now,” Lila Moss mutters. “Are you new?”
“No, I’m not. You were looking at your feet, that's why I said chin up…”
Her manager clears his throat, eyes finally on the shoot rather than his phone. “We’re all tired, Lila. Can you try your best and cooperate with the crew so we can move forward with our schedule?”
“I am! My feet are killing me,” she looks down at her socked-feet, pink fabric looking almost fluorescent under the white lights.
Her manager, Jeremy, turns to Talulah, giving her a smile. “Let’s carry on.”
“Not long now,” she tries to comfort Lila, not wanting to annoy her any further. “We’re almost done.”
“I sure hope so. Sorry, I woke up at three in the morning today,” she looks down again, clearly tired. “I’m just not used to this whole thing… like Mum. Sorry for being difficult, I really don’t mean to. Talulah,” she looks at her, then smiles.
She returns it. “I know, it’s okay, this is all new to you and it must be exhausting. You’re doing great.”
They finally wrap up at four, an hour before Talulah finishes work, and she immediately goes up the stairs–one floor–and takes the already-rolled cigarette out of her pocket, lighting it before she takes a hefty drag, breathing in like her life is depending on it. She takes another drag of the cigarette before she remembers the forgotten lunch box on her desk, in her office– which is devastating, but she shrugs, smiling when she remembers sending a picture of said lunch box to Harry after he asked if she’s had her lunch yet. Her heart soars when she re-reads his last text, two sunflower emojis, a camera, and a yellow heart, and she wants to scream and cry, feeling both happy and confused at the same time.
Her thumb hovers over the screen, the keyboard popping up when she touches it accidentally, though she doesn’t even need to do anything when a grey bubble pops up on the screen, indicating that Harry’s typing a message. She laughs, then waits.
Harry: How was the shoot? Bo is asking after you.
Talulah: You can’t just use your dog like that + the shoot was fine...i think :D you doing anuthing tonight? Come over if not … ill cook xx
Harry: I’m not doing anuthing tonight ;) & I’d love that. Let me know when you’re home? X
She texts back an ‘okay’, and lots of kisses and takes another drag of her cigarette, then puts it out on the ashtray nearby and makes her way towards the lifts, to take her to her floor. It’s beginning to get quieter in the office, most of her floor trying to get their last bits of work done so they don’t bring any work home so she tries to do the same, immediately getting her SD card out to get the photos into her laptop.
Despite Lila’s uncooperative nature at the beginning at least, she’s got a pretty face and some quirky features which can clearly be seen in her photos with only some of them coming out as futile with most of them as bright and lovely as ever. As she adjusts the colours in one of them, she thinks back to her attitude at the beginning of the shoot, her walls coming down towards the end when both Talulah and the crew showed some mercy on her and empathised with her, with her still being new to lights, cameras, and the spotlight in general.
She glances at her watch, remembering her previous conversation with Harry–and Ben–about the therapist and with some newfound bravery, she unlocks her phone and finds the contact name, immediately hitting the call button without giving herself any time to reconsider or back out. As it rings, she thinks back to Lila Moss’ bright, shining eyes when Talulah showed her some compassion and kindness, and she hears the same voice echoing in her head, ’Show yourself the same kindness you show to others’.
Vanilla candles are burning like there’s no tomorrow, their flames dancing as Cloud Control sings softly in the background, ‘I love you too, I'm not scared for you darling/ I'll make you mine all of my dirt/ All I could do is dream of you darling/ I'm in a dream cave/ I'm in a dream cave’. It’s peaceful’, as she leaves her lunch box in the sink and puts the kettle on, a text already sent Harry’s way, and she takes a quick shower, wears her most comfortable joggers and a ratty Care Bear t-shirt, then makes her way back to the kitchen to rummage through her fridge.
He knows Harry isn’t fussy when it comes to cooking, but she still texts him a couple of choices, the both of them deciding on some pasta with lots of colourful veg as Harry promises to provide the alcohol, and she knows he’s going to bring a bottle of red because she’d come to learn that Harry secretly adored getting tipsy on red wine.
She chops the vegetables, leaving the pasta to last since she knows it doesn’t take long, and sits on the sofa with tea in hand as she scrolls through Instagram, liking a few photos and watching some stories. As she reads a vegan brownie recipe, the door goes off, and her heart does too, looking around to see if there’s anything weird laying around both in the kitchen and living room before she makes her way to the door.
Harry looks dashing, very beautiful and pretty– bright and lively. They smile at each other, as if to say, ‘you’re here,’ and Harry’s grin is an answer, ‘I’m here,’ the smile says, dimples deepening against all the grey behind him, ‘I’m here, and I found you’. He’s dressed in a cosy looking striped jumper, yellows, reds, creams, and his legs– oh his legs, he’s supporting a pair of black jeans, one that hugs his thighs perfectly, and when she invites him inside, she watches him take his pink Vans off with a tiny smile, the slow movement of his feet reminding him of the two of them, tearing each other’s walls down one by one, as tenderly and slowly as possible.
“Come here,” he says when he places his shoes beside hers, then the wine somewhere close, and grabs her ever-so-gently by the back of her neck, pressing a sweet kiss to her lips. “Y’taste like bell peppers.”
“Mmh,” another kiss is pressed to his chin, the stubble tickling her lips. “Sorry,” she says, all bashful. “Was a bit hungry.”
“It’s okay, darling. Am I late?”
“Nope. Come, I was just boiling the pasta.”
Harry sniffs the air, a content smile appearing on his face. “Love the smell of peppers.”
“And the taste, hopefully,” she puckers her lips, earning another smile from him as he leans forward unexpectedly and steals yet-another kiss.
“Cheeky. I’ll help in the kitchen, if that’s all right with you?”
“Sure, come on.”
As Harry washes his hands in the kitchen sink, the smell of green apples overpowering her senses, she watches with a smile, loving the way Harry seems to fit into her kitchen– her tiny, lively kitchen, the backbone of her home. He just fits, with his cosy jumper and socked-feet, he seems to be in his element, looking as carefree, comfortable and familiar as ever whilst chopping some more veg for their food. Their food.
They say the kitchen is one of the most intimate rooms of a home, or eating, sharing food with another person, and it seems both scary and exciting to Talulah. Having Harry in her space was scary at first, not knowing whether to let her walls down and accept the fact that yes, there’s something there; there’s something beautiful and big there, in Harry, something that Talulah seems to adore so much. It doesn’t come as scary anymore, she notices as he itches the side of his face with his arm, knife still in hand, and when he turns to her with a bright smile, Talulah knows. She knows there’s something there and she knows Harry knows too. It’s mutual, and it hurts but in the best possible way as her heart grows fuller and wider with each smile and kiss pressed to her face. She thinks it’s worth it.
He raises his eyebrows, though the smile stays there. “What,” he asks, the smile becoming a smirk. “What are you looking at?”
“Hey– something happened at work today.”
“Oh? Something bad?”
He shakes his head, then turns the heat up for the vegetables, throwing in the mushrooms next. “No, nothing like that. We sell flower and veg seeds and someone told me it’d be nice to sell them…” he purses his lips, clearly trying to remember their exact words. “Like sow seeds and help the bees? Apparently she works in PR and Advertisement. Said she could help me.”
“That sounds clever, actually. You could do it when it begins to get warmer,” she comes closer to where he’s standing, and places her head on his shoulder, watching him wash the cutting board. “What else?”
“This is– well, I said something kinda embarrassing and, without asking you, as well. So, I hope you don’t get mad at me,” he looks down at her, smiling at the way she rubs her ear against his soft jumper.
She raises her eyebrows at that. “What? What did you say?”
“I may or may not have called you my– well, my girlfriend?”
Something gives in in the pit of her stomach, excitement and warmth reaching her ears and then her face, cheeks becoming as hot as the vegetables in the pan. She can only mutter out an ‘oh’, and Harry’s face falls.
“Sorry,” he says. “I didn’t–”
“No! No, don’t apologise. I’m… that actually made me… happy?”
“Are you serious? Touch my fucking face, I’m on fire!”
And so he does, places his damp hand on her cheek and rubs the soft skin there, smiling when he notices how hot she’d become. “So… you are?”
“I’m… what?” She smirks, then looks down at her feet. Suddenly, her mismatched socks seem way too interesting.
“You’re my girlfriend– wait, no,” he turns her in his arms so they’re face to face, her face heating up further. “Be my girlfriend. I mean, will you?”
“Oh God,” she lets out. “You’re adorable.”
“Talulah, I like you so much. I can’t stop thinking about you, your face, your hands… I go to sleep with you in my mind and open my eyes to the thought of you, wondering where you are, if you slept well or had breakfast… I want you so much and not just in that way. In every possible way– whichever way you’re willing to share with me. I want you– all of you. So… be my girlfriend.”
“God, you’re– okay, yes, of course. Yes.”
He brings her closer, hands on both cheeks. “How are you real… you’re so sweet– so sweet. I can’t get enough of you. I always want you. What are you doing to me, hm?” He presses his thumb against her bottom lip, her mouth opening just slightly before he suges forward, pressing his soft lips against hers.
It’s sweet, delirious, exciting.
And smells just like tobacco, vanilla and burnt pasta.
“I don’t think it’s al dente…” Harry mumbles when they pull apart, and checks the pasta.
“Who cares. Come back, kiss me more,” she whispers as Father John Misty sings softly:
‘Our hearts are free/ So tell me what’s wrong with the feeling/ I’m a flower, you’re my bee/ It’s much older than you and me/ I’m in love, I’m alive.’
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