Chapter 20

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I didn't say anything for a while, and neither did he. It wasn't that I was shocked by his words because I already knew he liked me, but it just became so much more real when he actually spoke the words. Furthermore, it made it even more difficult for me to say what I had been planning on telling him ever since I woke up this morning. If I told him that the kiss meant nothing to me, he would be absolutely devastated. That was why I now couldn't bring myself to open my mouth.

Unluckily for me, the bell didn't want to save me this time like it had done so many times before. Instead, I had to face the situation and man up, but maybe that wasn't so bad after all because at least that meant I would have this conversation over with soon.

He looked at me while biting his lip, waiting for me to say something. When he realized I wasn't going to do so, he let out a sigh. "Harry, if you don't like me, just say so. This tension is killing me, and I'd rather you say it now so we can have all this over with."

Closing my eyes, I swallowed hard. "Look, Niall. It's not that I don't like you, I just don't feel that way about you, alright? You're like a brother to me, and I'm sorry for giving you the wrong signals at the party. I don't know what came over me, I was just so out of it that night. I'm sorry for leading you on," I apologized, looking down at my feet in shame.

So, that was it. I said it, even if all of it wasn't true, but he didn't need to know that.

He let out a dry laugh, shaking his head. "It's okay, Harry, I get it. Don't worry about it. I totally understand that you don't feel the same, I just wish you did," he grimaced, turning around to start heading in the direction of his locker, I presumed.

However, before he could do so, I grabbed a hold of his shoulder and pulled him back. "Please Niall, can't we at least be friends? You're such an awesome person and I would like to keep you in my life even if... things turned out the way they did. Maybe it's too much to ask for, though, because I wouldn't want you to hurt because of me."

His lips twitched into a faded smile. "It gladdens me that you enjoy my company, it really does, but right now I'm not so sure if I could handle being around you without... being with you, or at least knowing you could have feelings for me. I'm sorry," he apologized, making another attempt at leaving me, and this time, I didn't stop him.

I watched his fading figure turn the corner at the end of the hallway before I slapped a hand over my face. What had I done? I wasn't used to turning people down, and especially not people as sweet and good-hearted as Niall. He definitely didn't deserve to be heartbroken like this, but I had no other choice. It would only hurt him more in the end if I had said yes since I didn't have the same feelings for him as he did for me. I just hated the fact that I hurt him because he had done nothing but been nice to me.

Just a few seconds later, the bell rang, and I had to hurry to get to class on time. Luckily, Liam wasn't waiting for me by my locker like he usually did because I didn't want him to be late because of me, so I just shoved my jacket and backpack into my locker and hurried to the classroom with my books in my hands.

By the time I arrived, the other students were seated in their chairs, waiting for Mr. Storm to start the lesson. This fact made it more awkward when I walked by the desks to sit down in an empty seat in the back because I probably had every pair of eyes in the classroom following my movements. I kept my head low though, so I wouldn't meet any of them. However, I could tell my cheeks were a crimson red as I finally looked around the room once I was seated at the empty desk, observing who was sitting beside whom.

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