Dark hands, reaching out to him, clawing around his throat, blocking off his air. He can’t breathe. He can’t breathe. It’s hot; too hot, he can’t move, and then he sees her—stalking, crawling towards him like the venomous spider she was. “Harry,” she cooed softly. “What’s wrong, Harry?”

He can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe.

Suddenly there someone else; in the periphery of his vision. Norma. It’s Norma Jean. His eyes fly back to May’s and he catches jealousy, anger, hurt, bitterness in her eyes. “You betrayed me? For that tramp?” And there’s so much he wants to say- so many she’s not a tramp, she loved me better than you ever did

But he can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe.

The corners of his eyes are turning black; spots dancing in his vision, menacing, howling through his mind as his lungs scream you can’t breathe! And there’s nothing he can do about it. He watched as May saunters over to Norma and runs a blood-red fingernail under her chin. “Pretty, pretty girl. Marilyn Monroe, fancying my Harry?” (I’m not your Harry, May. Not anymore.) “I remember when he was mine, Marilyn. And I don’t want to forget.” (You took my money. I was never yours. Not really.) “It’s difficult to understand, only hearing one side of the story.” (My side is the only one that matters- taking my money, leaving me here to rot and die.) “I took the money because I knew he loved me enough to give it to me.” (I didn’t love you. Not really. Not ever. Not like I love Norma.)

It’s almost as if May hears it, because she turns- face ashen, pale in the dark room, illuminated by a hauntingly full moon. She gives a harsh and frightful cry, screaming as she falls to the ground; skin peeling from her bones as she literally melts into the ground. “No! NO!! You love me, Harry! You will always love me!”

As soon as her words diminish into a soft echo, glorious breath rushes back into his lungs as memories float through his head- soft and warm, they envelope him in sunlight and he feels Norma’s arms around him, holding him close, rocking him tightly. He can smell her perfume, he can hear her voice lulling him to sleep and it’s so comforting, knowing that he has someone now.

He can breathe, he can breathe, he can breathe, he can breathe.

But then May’s words ricochet through his mind once more- You will always love me!

And he hopes she’s wrong.

--

“Harry?” Norma mumbled as she awoke in a dark room; one she recognized as his, with the white sheets and gorgeous window outlining Central Park, alit with midnight street lights. Turning, she smiled when she saw Harry curled up beside her; clad in nothing but a fuzzy Christmas jumper and white boxers.

She was about to drift off happily to sleep once more when she noted the troubled look on his face; the  frown, the sad lips, the quivering body. He was murmuring something; as she leaned closer, she could hear him whisper, I won’t always love you.

“Harry?” she called softly, running a hand over his cheek. “Darling, wake up. It’s just a bad dream.” When he didn’t wake, she panicked and started shaking his shoulders gently. “Harry! Harry, come on, love.”

With a moan he opened his eyes, catching hers. “Norma?” he whispered in a raspy, sleepy voice. “You’re okay?”

“Of course,” she reassured. “Are you?”

There was a moment of silence before he slowly shook his head; eyes still caught in hers, fingers intertwined, breaths melting into one. “No.”

“Nightmare?”

“Yeah.”

“You get them often?”

“Sometimes.”

After the quick fire of questions, Norma sighed and ran a hand through Harry’s hair. “Do you want a cup of tea? Or do you want to talk-”

“You know what, Norma?” Harry snapped sharply. “Just leave me alone. You don’t even know what it’s like.”

His words were like a slap to her face.

With a blush of realization, Norma shook her head and detached her fingers from Harry’s slowly. “No, no, no… this isn’t happening.” Falling out of bed, she watched with crazed eyes as Harry paid no attention to her, cupping his face in his hands, trying to compose himself. And she understood, sort of. Nightmares left you feeling not yourself.

But, no.

“You were different,” she whimpered. “You were real.”

This can’t be happening again… No, God… please, no. I can’t lose him. She watched him; praying to a God she didn’t believe in that he would wake up, please wake up, please don’t leave me. A broken sob escaped her lips as she realized her mistake.

With shaking limbs and a quivering heart, she stood and fumbled for the lamp switch. Turning it on, then watching it crash to the floor, into a million different pieces. Another sob. Grabbing her bag, she looked in the mirror above the dresser and wiped smudged lipstick off her chin. “Where are you going?” Harry asked from behind her. “Norma Jean? What’s wrong?”

With another sob, she pinned her hat back on and spat back at him, “You know what, Harry? I do. I know what it’s like to be use, to think they love you and then be slapped in the face.” Studying him in the mirror, she let one tear escape her eye as she shook her head. “It kills you, doesn’t it?”

Buttoning up her jacket, watching as Harry’s face grew paler and paler, as he shook his head, whispering, “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry.”

“Well, guess what?” she continued, turning the door handle and stepping out into the main living area. “You’re not much better.”

Turning with the intention of marching out the door and back to the Mayfield (never mind it was 2 AM in New York City), she collided with a sleepy Gemma, holding a sheer pink bathrobe over herself as she peered into Harry’s bedroom and back at Norma. “Norma… are you okay? What happened?”

Norma didn’t answer.

--

okay okay don't kill me i'm sorry guys i had horrible writer's block

that might be kinda why this chapter sucks. i'll edit it soon.

dedicated to @sleepy_styles for being such an encouragement!!

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