chapter 32

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Niall's POV

I dropped the box of clothes at my feet as I entered, the heat of my apartment stinging my cold skin as I unwrapped my scarf from around my neck, shrugged noiselessly out of my coat. I hung them both up carefully, quietly. The place was deathly silent apart from the low, eerie murmur of some cheesy gameshow on the television that echoed out into the hall from the sitting room. The crowd were cheering, screaming, laughing as the host introduced a new guest. My footsteps creaked on the floorboards as I tread quietly into the room.

My eyes fell on Tamara lying still on the sofa. I stood without a sound in the doorway, watching her for a precious moment. I observed her, her soft, light lashes fluttering; resting against her creamy cheeks for just a second before blinking open again to reveal those icy blue eyes hat gave me chills that I tried to deny. I studied her drained face. Her blonde hair was limp, her face pale against the dark grey circles that ringed her eyes. She didn't sleep much at nights. I knew because I always heard her crying.

"You okay?" I asked from across the room. Her gaze flickered up, and not knowing I was here until I spoke, her dull eyes found my form. She looked back to the television without really seeing it and nodded slowly. The artificial light of the TV flickered over her, made her glow in a weird, inhuman way.

I paced over, every step sounding loud in the empty flat. I perched on the armrest cautiously, watching her reaction - or lack of one. She didn't even acknowledge me. It made the lump in my throat thicken. It made the hatred that ran inside me towards that rodent who called himself my friend, my band mate, her boyfriend, pulse heavier and more passionate than ever. In the times when I'd kept her company on the nights when he had never come home she had been such a different girl. She had been bubbly, caring, beautiful inside and out. I knew it was wrong to feel how I did about her, but her company felt safe, felt like home. She was sometimes offish, sometimes reserved, but that was only because she'd been hurt before, only because she was scared - and I could love her even through that. I could love her so much better than he ever did.

"I brought your clothes," I said hoping for a reply, for something. For a hint of the girl she'd been then. "As much as I could take. That'll make it more comfortable for you here, won't it?"

Tamara's dead eyes stared at the TV, stared past it, at something I couldn't quite see. Her thoughts overtook her these days, and she was so drained. She was so lifeless, so lacking of the gorgeous personality I'd found myself falling for. She nodded again. I grit my teeth in frustration. Was she even listening to me? I got the sense that every word was just floating over her head. But I needed her to talk to me. I longed for it. For the girl she was before.

I knew what would spark a reaction in her, even if it wasn't quite the one I wanted. It would wake her up, catch her attention, break her out of this deadly spell she was under. "Harry was there."

I saw immediately that my words had registered in her. Her eyes dropped for a moment, her lips twitched. Her glassy eyes deepened with sadness. I hated him for this. For what he was doing to her.

"He...he was," she stuttered. Her voice was husky, and when she tried to clear it a hacking cough shook her weary frame and I reached out a hand to help her, hold her - I didn't really know. She lay back tiredly, wincing, the force of the coughing noticeably taking it out of her.

"You don't seem well, Tam," I fretted, pressing a cool palm to her forehead and seeing her squirm and recoil.

"I still...still have a headache," she wheezed, "My joints are sore."

"Maybe you should see someone-,"

"I've had all my checkups," she assured me, shaking her head slowly, "They would have showed up anything that was wrong."

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