The Way I Loved You
Summary: Flora has broken up with Riven and is now in a happy, peaceful, and uncomplicated relationship with Helia. Everything's perfect now. Or is it? Based on Taylor Swift's The Way I Loved You. AU. Set in the real world and with some OOCness. Flora's point of view.
Disclaimer: "Above all, to thine own self be true." William Shakespeare
Dedication: To Spy, who makes the fights in the rain worth every minute. Ugh, I just made myself throw up with that dedication. Aw well.
It's a cold February morning. I'm sitting in my boyfriend's car because he's been nice enough to drive me to work since my Jeep's in the shop. Helia insisted I get my brakes looked at, and maybe some new tires couldn't hurt. Since he's the sensible and practical type of course I agreed to that suggestion. I can't help but compare his staid personality to my ex-boyfriend's. Riven was anything but staid. I've found that I've been comparing the two of them a lot lately, especially since the love buzz with Helia has worn off these past three months.
Realizing the unfairness of comparing two completely different guys I shake my head to clear those thoughts and turn my attention back to the present. Back to Helia and his warm grey eyes, soothing voice, and dark blue Jetta, nearly the same color as Riven's eyes. Damn I'm bad today! I fight the urge to slap myself as I continue to pull my mind back to the here and now.
"So, I'll pick you up around six when you get off of work and we can catch a movie." Helia tells me with a shy smile. The same smile that made me melt when we first met. It's almost funny how that doesn't happen now. What isn't funny is how that doesn't seem to bother me in the least.
I smile back thinking how my friend Mirta is always going on about how wonderful Helia and I are together. Sometimes I want to tell her that if she only knew how boring this relationship really is.
"Sure, that sounds great. Don't be late okay?" I remark.
The last part is an afterthought. I blame it on the lingering, subconscious effect of dating Riven who was chronically late for everything. It got so bad I would tell him an earlier time so we wouldn't be late.
Helia laughs at this. "Sweetie, when have I ever been anything but on time?" He asks as he leans down to kiss me on the forehead. "I'll see you at six."
"Yeah, see you at six." I reply, my enthusiasm sounding forced to anyone but Helia. He and I wave one more time, then I go into the small boutique where I work with Mirta.
"You're so lucky to have a guy like that." Mirta almost gushes as she helps me tie my apron and hands me a clipboard.
"Hmm, yeah." I sigh, my feelings still conflicted. I'm desperate to change the subject. "So what do we have today?"
Mirta's deep green eyes are filled with mischief. "Holiday inventory of course. We've gotten in some more charm and jewelry sets for Valentine's Day."
"Along with some new engagement rings Ms DuFour insisted on ordering."
Seeing the devilish look on Mirta's face I turn my reddening face towards the street and get to work.
Eight hours and one short lunch break later I'm feeling less than pretty and honestly more ready for a hot bath than dinner and a movie. As I lean against one of the shelves in the stockroom I contemplate calling Helia and asking him to just have an evening in instead of running around in public. However, I feel like there's no getting out of our planned date. Too bad he's too much of a gentleman to entertain the suggestion of pizza and Netflix at his place or mine.
Riven was always up for that, we used to lie on the couch and cuddle. Of course that was usually after an argument ranging from pizza toppings to movie plot. But that's part of what made our relationship fun. I wonder if Helia would cuddle after making out after an argument. Hell, I wonder if he can even argue.
"Stop doing that!" I scold myself loud enough for Mirta to come rushing back to the stock room.
"Flora?" Mirta asks sounding concerned as she enters the stockroom. "What's wrong?"
"The extra decorations Ms. DuFour ordered for Thanksgiving weren't staying where I'd placed them." I lie feebly.
Mirta rolls her eyes at that comment. "Seeing as they're in a box where I placed them earlier, I'd say you're crazy."
I blush almost noticeably under my bronze skin and look down at the floor.
"I think the weather is finally getting to you." she adds.
I nod at that. "Well it has hardly stopped since before Christmas." I allow, wondering how long I could keep lying to Mirta and having her believe it.
"C'mon. It's time to lock up and Helia should be here for you soon."
"You're right. I wish I could just stay at home, though."
Mirta shoots me a curious look. "Well you can always ask, right?" She suggests, not understanding what I'm saying.
"You're right about that, I can always ask."
Not even two minutes after Mirta and I lock up the store, Helia's out by the curb waiting for me. When he sees me begin to step on to the sidewalk, he dashes out of the driver's side to open up my door. Riven would just lean over and open it, but not Helia. Nope, he goes the extra mile for me.
"You look beautiful." He whispers in my ear as I slide into the passenger seat.
I don't. I look a fright from moving boxes around all day. I hate how Helia just glosses over the truth sometimes. I know there's some manual written for guys about what they should say to make their girlfriends/significant others feel special, but I wish Helia wouldn't feel the need to quote it every day. It sounds fake and after a while I wish I could tell him so.
"No I don't, I was busy all day and I look like something that got dragged through a bush the wrong way." I counter as Helia shuts the door and gets back in the driver's seat.
"You always look beautiful." He shoots back with a grin, pulling into traffic.
I'm not sure what to say to that. "Can we stay in tonight instead? I'm kind of tired."
"Are you sure?" Helia asks me in a worried tone, he chances a look at me before the red light we're sitting at turns green.
"Yes, quite." I reply firmly. Forget firmly, that was bordering on formal. Of course Helia wouldn't catch it.
"But what would your parents say?"
I snort, what can they say? I'm twenty-five and live halfway across the country from them. Plus they know perfectly well I'm no virgin. Riven would never ask that kind of question which makes me miss him and feel more than just a little guilty.
"Look, Helia I understand you like my parents and everything, but I'm an adult." I answer calmly, wondering if maybe this could be our first argument and waiting eagerly for the sparks to come back. When they don't I'm forced to realize that maybe some things just can't be duplicated.
"How about we compromise?" Helia offers. "I'll take you back to get cleaned up and we go out for dinner then stay in for a movie. How's that sound?"
I heave a sigh bordering on frustration. "Fine." This is what comes from trying to argue with Helia. It's rather boring, like fighting with my couch.
When the movie we ordered is over, Helia quickly jumps off the sofa leaving me to wonder if I didn't wash off all of my eau de Stockroom.
"What's the hurry?" I ask sleepily.
"I still have to come get you for work tomorrow, then we can pick up your car tomorrow afternoon." Helia explains, sounding decidedly nervous and which leads me to believe he's twenty-seven and still a virgin.
I briefly consider pointing out that it'd be much easier for him to stay here, even camped out on the sofa to avoid any chance of disrespecting my parents. But then I think better of it. I don't want to have another strong discussion with Helia the sofa.
"Okay." I reply instead and give him a kiss on the lips wondering if he'd take the hint.
He chastely kisses me back. Nope, no hint taken. Why do I keep thinking of Riven at times like this? I broke it off with him because he was too unreserved. I wanted this. Ugh.
"I'll call you at seven to make sure you're up." Helia reminds me as he heads down to the elevator.
I shut and lock the door leaning against it. I find I'm about to cry tears of frustration, but I've no one to blame but myself because I wanted safe and calm. I didn't want unpredictable and impassioned anymore.
The next morning I'm awakened by the phone on my bedside table ringing in my ear. I roll over in bed and look at my digital clock. Seven AM on the dot, Helia's wake up call.
"Good morning," I mumble, my voice still filled with sleep.
"Good morning sweetie," Helia replies in a cheerful tone. It's vaguely reminiscent of a small yappy dog that's been given an IV of espresso. "I'll be coming by at seven thirty so you won't be late for work." He tells me with a smile in his voice.
My entire body groans as I stretch out the kinks. "Okay I'll make sure to buzz you in, love you."
"Love you too bye."
I hang up quickly and just about throw myself out of bed. Great, half an hour to shower, dress and look presentable. Sometimes I wish Helia didn't insist on never making me late. At least with… oh nice here I go again. May as well finish my thought. At least with Riven I could be assured of having forty-five minutes to get ready for something even if I was late for it. But hey, at least I looked good coming in late.
Not knowing what else to do I shrug out of my pajamas and head into the bathroom to shower then throw on a tight fitting pale pink sweater and my favorite skinny jeans and boots. Hearing my buzzer ring I grab my makeup bag and head out the door with my coat over my arm. Maybe today he'll take the hint and learn not to be so damn punctual.
He doesn't. Instead he actually taps his foot while I get my coat on! I can honestly say Riven never did that. I've had about enough so I decide to tell him after work when he picks me up to get my car that we need a breather.
All day I work mechanically with Mirta. Occasionally she looks over at me with question marks in her dark green eyes, but I shrug her off or go to another part of the store.
Finally before we close up for the night, Mirta decides she can't take my silence any more.
"What's bugging you today?" She asks with concern in her voice.
"It's Helia, he's just so… I don't know… placid." I explain, willing her to understand what I mean. Luckily she seems to.
"You mean he's too dull for you." She replies sagely.
I nod eagerly.
Mirta shrugs and goes to wipe down the display case of engagement rings. "Well you're the one who wanted to break it off with Riven because you thought he was too unpredictable, so I'm not going to tell you what to do this time."
"Don't worry, I've already made my decision." I tell my friend with more determination than I really feel.
Mirta shrugs again and I join in on the end of the evening clean up.
"Helia." I say that night, my voice as calm and crisp as late winter. "We need to talk."
"Oh? About what?" He asks completely unassuming.
"About us," I reply with just the slightest catch in my voice. "I think we need a break from each other."
"What do you mean?" He asks just as we turn into the parking lot for the auto mechanic.
Good question, what do I mean? Oh yes. "I mean I'm getting too comfortable with this whole relationship!" I nearly shout. "There's no spark, no mystery and no action."
Helia raises one dark eyebrow in question. "I thought that's why you and that other guy broke up."
I feel myself blush. "Yes I know, but I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain. I miss knowing I could feel so much passion for someone."
"So this is it then?"
"It sure seems that way." I say with a smile. "I'm sorry if I hurt you."
Helia just stares at me from the driver's seat. I'm not sure what else to say so I make a move to get out of the car. Before I even have my fingers on the door handle, Helia leans over and gives me what he must believe to be a passionate kiss on the lips.
"Does that change anything?" he asks sounding like a hopeful child.
It might have if this was the beginning instead of the end of our relationship. "No it doesn't. Good bye, Helia."
I half-stumble out of the car remembering to grab my purse from the floor and manage not to embarrass myself by slamming the belt of my trench coat in the car door. Helia drives off, leaving me to wonder if he's going to drown his sorrows in a gallon of chocolate ice cream.
As I enter the mechanic's shop I almost can't believe the relief I feel from being single again. It's as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. When I approach the counter I'm almost humming. I don't know if I'll ever see Riven again or meet someone who makes me feel the way he did. But at this moment, I find that I don't care. At least not that much.
"Well, you seem rather happy considering we've had your vehicle for the past two days." One of the mechanics comments wryly after I tell him my name and pull my wallet out of my purse.
"I just broke up with my boyfriend." I explain enjoying his shocked expression. "And right now I couldn't be happier."
The mechanic chuckles, "Keep that in mind when I give you the bill."
Moments later I'm back in my own vehicle driving at my own pace back to my own apartment where I will curl up and enjoy a night by myself.
Well this was going to be an ironic Valentine's Day Themed story, but I blew it. Aw well at least Flora's happy with her decision although I don't know if I see Riven in her near future. Thanks to Robert Teague for beta reading and Winx Writer's Anonymous for letting me sound off on this idea.