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The second I stepped back into the house after my walk, Louis grabbed my arm and dragged me to the couch. I finally realized that Lacey and Harry were there too. My eyes automatically narrowed at Harry, and he rolled his eyes in response.
"What is this? Please don't tell me its an intervention, because I am not dealing with that. So, I'll just go now." I started to stand up, but Louis grabbed my arm again to make me remain sitting.
"Seriously Louis? What's going on?"
"Stel, we're playing a game. Hide and seek."
I started standing up again, "No thanks," only to be pushed back down again.
"You're playing and you're going to like it. Here are the rules. The whole house, including the basement is fair game. No going outside. Everyone must hide together. Whoever decides on the hiding spot will be the next to be "it" in the next round. You must stay in your hiding spots until you are found. Any and all actions that go against these rules will result in utter humiliation."
"Really, Lou? Utter humiliation?"
"You heard me, Stella."
Louis' look was so intense and competitive, I decided to just go with it.
"Alright, so let's play! I'll be it first. You three go hide. I'll count to 100 in the bathroom and then come try to find you."
Lacey, Harry and I stood up, while Louis made his way into the bathroom. Oh crap. I should have protested more. I didn't realize initially, but the rules say that we all have to hide together. Which means...I have to hide with Harry. Great.
Lacey took the lead, motioning for us to be super quiet, and go down the basement steps. We were so careful to not make any stair squeak, so Louis wouldn't hear and automatically know we were in the basement.
Now, I guess I should probably describe the basement. It's a mess. Like a total, hot mess. The washer and dryer are downstairs, with a heap of dirty clothes laying near it at all times. The laundry table nearby has tons of clothes on it, from people doing laundry and being too lazy to fold the clothes and bring them upstairs. There's a TV in the corner, we used to play video games on it and watch DVDs, but I don't think it even works anymore. A ping pong table is folded up in the corner right by a Foosball table. No one ever really uses these. The rest of the basement is basically a table and some chairs, a huge desk where we keep all of our important documents, and a general mess. We don't use the basement much.
Lacey led us towards the washer and dryer, and pointed to three laundry baskets sitting to the right of the machines. We grabbed lids for the baskets and hid inside of them. I was the last to get it, and noticed that Lacey hiding in the basket really did look like a bunch of clothes thrown into, instead of a person.
We heard Louis say, "Ready or not, here I come!" He didn't immediately go down into the basement, and we eventually heard him walk upstairs.
"Why do you hate Harry?"
Before I could even think of a response to her question, Harry said, "I'm right here, you know. I can actually hear you."
Lacey dropped the question, but addressed Harry instead. "Well, Harry then. If you guys are on break, and everyone else went home, why didn't you?"
It was quiet for a few seconds, and at first I thought Harry wouldn't answer. Which was actually frustrating, because this is the one time I actually want to hear him talk. He eventually spoke up, extremely quietly, sounding sad. "They wouldn't let me."
They wouldn't let him? But, why? Lacey finally asked what I was thinking, "Why not?"
"They think I need to be babysat and keep up the image."
I had kept silent the whole time, but I couldn't refrain from speaking up now. "What, your image of being a man-whore and abandoning all the people you get to care about you?"
"Stella!" I ignored Lacey's gasp of shock of what I said. I wouldn't take my words back, I couldn't.
Harry spoke again, "That's just what they want everyone to think!"
I was about to ask him more, suddenly intrigued. That's what they want everyone to think? I don't know what he's talking about. The magazines and press couldn't possibly be that far off from the truth.
Right when I was about to make some sarcastic remark, Lacey said, "Shh!" and we heard Louis start walking down the stairs. From the little cut outs of the basket I was hiding in, I saw Louis look around the whole basement. He looked under the table and even under some clothes. He was about to walk back up the stairs, when he suddenly turned around and walked straight to the baskets.
"There you are!" he said as he lifted the lid off of Lacey's basket.
Lacey groaned, "How did you know we were here?"
Louis smiled, "Those baskets never have lids on them."
We realized he was right, and that we had definitely made a mistake in our hiding spot.
"Well," Lacey said, "I guess it's my turn! Come on Louis!"
"What do you mean, 'come on Louis'? He's supposed to hide with us."
Louis and Lacey shared a look, and finally Louis said, "No the rules are that whoever was it the first round then teams up with whoever is it the 2nd round to find the remaing hiders."
"What?! That's not a rule!"
"It is now! You two go hide!"
Lacey and Louis ran up the stairs. I looked at Harry, and he seemed both amused and mad, which just frustrated me. "Let's go find a spot then."
We decided to hide behind the TV since it should shield us from being seen, unless they specifically looked behind it. We both sat down, almost touching. I glared at Harry, mainly because it was a force of habit. He noticed my glare and sighed. "Seriously, Stella. I have done absolutely nothing for you to despise me so much."
I narrowed my eyes, a part of me knowing what he said was true, while the other part of me was seeing headline after headline of Harry Styles' escapades. "You didn't have to."
Suddenly the basement became dark, and I gasped. This definitely was not part of the plan. I hate the dark, fear the dark.
If Louis is playing a trick on me, this so isn't funny.
I started to breathe heavily, on the verge of having a panic attack. My hands were shaking and I could feel tears forming in my eyes.
"Um, Stella, are you okay?"
I could hear the concern in Harry's voice, but couldn't take the time to decipher if it was genuine or not. I continued to hyperventilate and just shook my head repeatedly in response to Harry's question.
Harry's hand tentatively found it's way to my shoulder, trying to soothe me I suppose. The surprising thing is that it did seem to lessen my panic, just a little bit.
"Stella? Are you afraid of the dark?"
I didn't want to tell him and admit my weakness to him , he would inevitably just use it against me in the future. But, I found I didn't have much of an option. The basement was pitch black and I would never be able to maneuver my way out with the lights off.
By now my whole body was shaking. I finally was able to speak the word, "Yes." Automatically Harry wrapped his arm around my shoulders, tugging me in towards his chest. If I hadn't been scared out of my mind, I would have protested. "Shh Stella, it's okay. Everything is going to be fine. Louis and Lacey will get the lights back on, and then we'll be able to get out. It will be fine."
I listened to his continued words of reassurance, while he rubbed circles into my shoulder. I forgot that I was supposed to hate Harry and that I loathed being around him. I forgot all of this while Harry comforted me.
I don't know how much time passed, maybe 10 minutes. I finally was calming down. Harry's arm was still around me, and I leaned into his chest. I didn't have the strength to move, plus it actually felt nice to be held for once.
"You okay Stella?"
"I-I think so."
"Do you want to talk about it? Why are you so afraid of the dark?"
I was about to automatically say no, and push away from him. But, I realized I DID want to talk about it. I felt like I would never be able to breathe again unless I told him.
"It's not so much the dark itself, it's more of a reminder."
"A reminder of what?"
I took a deep breath and said, "Of being abandoned. Twice."
Harry didn't say anything, which I took as a sign to elaborate. "When I was born, my parents left me at a park and never came back. I would've died in that park, but Ava found me. She took me in. She named me and taught me of the stars, and we spent so many nights looking through a telescope. But, then when I was 13, I woke up and she was gone. Just gone. And that's when I met Louis."
I felt Harry shift a little, and he squeezed me towards him just a little closer. I couldn't find the strength to mind. "Oh, wow Stella. I am so sorry. I didn't know."
"It's okay, it's not like I was trying to share that information with you anyway."
"Speaking of that, why do you hate me so much?"
I looked to him, then realizing that he couldn't see my face. "Because you leave people."
"You heard me. You get with girls, and then just abandon them-"
I was about to explain more when the lights suddenly turned back on. I looked at Harry, who seemed to still be waiting for me to explain. That's when I realized he still had his arm around me, and we were sitting dangerously close. I shot up and started making my way back upstairs.
"Wait, Stella, I-"
I didn't let Harry finish whatever he was going to say. I turned around to face him, "Look Harry. Now you know just how messed up the "park chick" is, okay? Now please, for the sake of all that is good, just leave me alone."
"But, Stella. All of those magazines aren't-"
I ran up the stairs before I could hear anymore. I passed Lacey and Louis sitting on the sofa, looking at me expectantly. "Thanks a lot you guys," I said to them angrily, before I ran upstairs, into my room, slamming the door behind me.
I let myself open up to Harry today, and now I just want to know how he's going to use that against me, as he inevitably will.