The cold Christmas air of the outside world nipped harshly at my face as I stepped out of the car, slamming the door shut behind me. I turned on the spot, my lips curling up at the ends as I observed Tamara getting out of the opposite door, twirling gracefully and flashing me a quick, heart-shattering smile.
"Home sweet home?" she asked, her eyes twinkling at me like little fairy lights. I nodded, looking up admiringly at the house I'd grown up in, a place that held so many memories. Everything that had happened before.
Before all my dreams suddenly materialised in front of my eyes.
Before I'd even met the boys. Before I'd become a teen idol.
Before I'd met her.
I glanced up, startled at hearing my name called, my gaze meeting the adoring eyes of a small group of girls who were waving pictures of me and shouting general sweet nothings in my direction. I beamed at them, waving my arm in acknowledgement. They squealed collectively in reply.
"Gimme a minute, babe," I said, casting a quick look over my shoulder at Tammy. She nodded knowingly, my heart melting at how adorable she looked in her little bobble hat and oversized coat. The weather was below freezing these days, and I'd insisted she wrap up warm - I felt a little bit protective of her. She was like the little sister I'd never had.
"I'll wait in the car," she said sweetly, slipping back inside. I approved of her choice - she'd catch cold of she sat outside it.
My feet crunched in the snow as I made my way towards the bottom wall of my garden, seeing one girl tear up a little as I got closer. I couldn't help but blush. I didn't know what it was these people seemed to love about me so much...I was nothing special. They adored me, and the other boys. It amazed me how dedicated they were, how they'd stand out here in the snow and freezing cold just to see me. I couldn't understand it.
"Hey, girlies, how are you doing?" I asked enthusiastically, giving them my best smile. One girl blushed and looked like she might faint, another wiped her eyes frantically. Only one of them plucked up the courage to actually reply.
"We're fine, it's freezing though!" she said, shivering just on cue.
I nodded in agreement, pulling my brown coat tighter around myself. "It's terrible! You girls shouldn't be standing out here waiting for me, you'll get sick."
Another one of them shrugged. "It's worth it to meet you!"
They giggled, nodding excitedly, and I hung my head, my face warming to a tomato shade. "Thank you very much; I hope it's worth it!"
They asked me questions and I did a few shout-outs into cameras for friends who couldn't be there due to strict parents or a lower level of dedication than these fans. I learned their names - Char, Rachel, Tina, Alison and Ellen - and signed their CDs and books, and one girl's forehead, much to the others amusement, before dishing out piggybacks, kisses and hugs for photos.
"You hurry home, now, and stay warm, have a nice hot bath and drink some hot chocolate and get the circulation going, you hear me?!" I ordered them sternly, though I grinned as I did.
Char rolled her eyes, which I had come to learn was one of her trademark habits in the short time I'd known her. "You sound like my mum, Harold!"
"Well, if your mum tells you that, she's right, you should listen to her."
They giggled, promising me they'd wrap up warm when they got in. Bless them, I thought. They'd gone through the hardship of hours and hours stood in the freezing cold for a puny 15 minutes of my time. I hoped I'd made it worth their while.