Chapter 16

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A.N. Hiii, I'm sooo sorry the chapter's kind of short and late but I spent the night at my cousins and couldn't upload it (they don't have wifi yet because they just moved). Plus I wasn't feeling well so I apologize in advance if this chapter isn't that great. Also THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GETTING ME TO 100K I WANT TO MARRY ALL OF YOU (follow/talk to me on twitter @hrrygonkillme thanks ily)



CHAPTER 16

"You're innocent," I finally spoke. And as I said the words, I realized part of me had known it all along. But I didn't meet his gaze as I said it, instead staring down at my twiddling thumbs. I didn't want to look into his eyes, afraid of his response, afraid that I might be wrong.

"You really believe that?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper. I nodded, still not moving my gaze from my lap.

"Rose, look at me," he softly pleaded. He placed slender fingers under my chin, gently lifting it so that my eyes were forced to meet his. They were so bright and such a beautiful deep green, holding an essence of reassurance. "You're right."

Those two words were spoken in a breathless sigh, as if a tremendous weight had just been lifted off of his broad shoulders. And it was in that relief that I could see it. I could see it in his growing smile, I could identify it in his forest green eyes, I could hear it in his gravely voice. He was telling the truth.

But that truth, although it was welcomed with great relief, brought on numerous questions. Why was Harry still imprisoned in this awful place? What really happened to those women? Does Harry know who did it? Does Ms. Hellman know he's innocent?

The newfound clarity clouded my mind with incessant curiosities, leaving me wondering everything and anything about this new Harry, this innocent Harry that had been there all along but I had been too blind to see.

So instead I spoke words that would hopefully answer all of my numerous questions. "I think you owe me a story."


HARRY'S POV

Rose's small grin that formed along with her request made divulging the truth a necessity. I had to tell her what happened. And I wanted to. If anyone was going to know who I really was, it was going to be her.

"Okay," I sighed, inhaling a deep breath to prepare for the complex tale I was about to tell. I tossed my cigarette bud in the trash off to the side, not wanting the pauses for nicotine to make this take longer than it needed to be. "Well, let me start off by saying that I'm not some saint or anything. I was never a good kid, not by a long shot."

Rose nodded, a few dark strands of hair falling from her bun, her eyes alight with fascination.

"Actually this, uh . . . this isn't my first time in Wickendale," I said.

"What?" She asked. "What do you mean?"

"I've been here before. As a mental patient over in the kids Ward, used to be on the second floor I think. I was about twelve years old."

Rose's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "What did you do?"

Even though I knew that question was inevitable, I dreaded answering it. But I was sick of keeping it to myself, it was about time I talked about the horrors of my past.

"Well, my father used to treat me and my mom like shit. He hit us and everything. So one night I saw him beating her, choking her even, and I was so fucking scared, Rose. I was angry, too, and I wanted him to feel worse pain than my mom had. I wanted him dead, I hated him more than anything else. So one night he was passed-out drunk on the couch, while my mom was out working late. And I grabbed some lighter fluid and matches . . ."

"You didn't," she gasped, her hand covering her mouth in shock.

"I did," I nodded. "It was fucked-up, I know. But he lived, only had a couple burns. I told the fire department why I did what I did, so they sent my dad to jail and me to Wickendale."

I took a minute to examine Rose's shocked expression, her features surprised but her voice quiet. Her eyes were wide, her body seeming to tense. She was scared; scared of me. Usually I wouldn't be able to help but smirk at her innocence, taking a certain pleasure in seeing that I had the upper hand. But not now, not like this.

"Rose, it wasn't like - I mean I've changed, I was just a scared kid and I didn't want him to hurt her anymore and - God damn it, I shouldn't have told you, I'm sorry I-"

"Sh, it's okay," she interrupted, putting a hand up to silence me. Her expression morphed into one of thought rather than fear.

"What are you thinking?" I asked.

It took her a moment to find the words, opening her mouth a few times as if she were about to speak, but then closing it shut again. "I don't blame you," she finally said.

"What?" I asked, now even more shocked than she was.

"I mean of course what you did was awful, but so is what your dad did to you and your mother. Burning him wasn't the best option but you were around violence, so you became violent. It makes sense."

Now it was my turn to be surprised. I had expected her to react . . . well, not like this.

"Thanks for being so . . . understanding," I said.

A small, sympathetic grin formed on her beautiful features, her eyes filled with pity. "When did you finally get out?"

"Not until I was sixteen," I told her. "And when I left I had no place to go. My mother was afraid of me, my dad was still locked up. So I got a job at a farm just carrying around hay and shoveling horse shit. My boss was a dick and I could tell that he hated me, but he kept me around anyway. It was awful, but I made enough to get an apartment of my own. And things continued on like that for a while, I just worked and slept, mostly. Drinking at the bar downtown and brining a girl home every once in a while. It was kind of a shitty life. That was, until I met her."

"Who?" Rose asked, hanging on to every word I spoke. I loved her curiosity, how she was so interested in everything.

"Her name was Emily," I said, a small smile growing on my face as I finally allowed myself to remember. "God, Rose, she was beautiful. You would've really liked her. She had long blonde hair and the most intoxicating blue eyes . . . almost like something from a dream. She was my boss' daughter and came down to the farm every once in a while. And one day we started talking, and my life was perfect ever since. She was the sweetest girl I'd ever met, I don't even know what she was doing with someone like me. I was so fucked-up, I still am, but she loved me anyway. She made me forget about my past and brought out the best in me, and I know that sounds cliché but it's true. I loved everything about her, the way she made me pancakes every morning, the way she would tell me she loved me no matter how many times I messed up. She was my favorite person in the world."

Each word I spoke hurt like hell, but it felt good to finally let it out. I hadn't talked about her since the incident, and now the memories were flooding back all at once. My mind became filled with images of her eyes, those sweet eyes that looked at me like I actually meant something. I thought of our day at the beach, which had always been my favorite memory. I thought of her laugh when she tried to teach me how to dance, I thought of the sweet kisses she planted on my lips when I told her I loved her for the first time. But then someone took her away from me, killing her for no reason. Hell, he probably even raped her. I should've protected her, I should've tried harder to keep her safe so I could see her smile just one more time. But I failed yet another person I loved. Before I knew it, a tear escaped from my eyes, and then another. Shit, now I was crying.

"I've always wanted to find someone-" I started, my shaky voice cracking mid-sentence. "I've always wanted to find some like her . . . and I think I have."

I looked over at Rose and she stared back at me, tears beginning to form in her eyes as well. She didn't break her gaze as she took my hand from where it rested on the bed, holding it in her tiny one. She rubbed small, comforting circles on the back and I grinned at her through my blurry eyes.

"If you don't mind me asking, what happened to her?" She asked, her voice soft and soothing.

"She was uh . . . she was was one of the victims."

Rose gasped, her hand coming over her mouth. "No," she said, seeming as if she didn't want to believe it.

"Yeah. Her parents hated me, they thought I was a bad influence so I was immediately accused as a suspect. I had a shitty lawyer from the county and all he could do was plead insanity, while her rich family payed thousands for the best lawyer they could get. All of the murders were linked, up, and I was accused of every single one. So now everyone thinks I killed her, even though that couldn't be further from the truth. But whatever disgusting prick did, I'm going to make him feel ten times more pain than she did. I swear to God I'm going to peel every inch of skin off of his fucking body-" Rose visibly winced at my words, cowering back at my harsh tone.

"Sorry," I sighed.

"It's okay," she almost whispered. "Harry, that's awful. I'm so sorry."

"It's alright, it's not your fault," I sniffled, wiping away the last few pathetic tears that rolled down my face. "I just miss her."



ROSE'S POV

My heart ached as it pounded in my chest, feeling something for Harry I had never felt before. An image of a small curly-haired boy flashed through my mind, skinnier and shorter than the one before me, tears staining his cheeks as his mother screamed and his father yelled. I saw him cowering back in fear watching his mother being abused as if she were nothing.

I saw the boy's curls ruffled on top of his head as his chest rose and fell with heavy breaths, the reflection of blazing flames in his eyes and the sound of pained shouts in his ears. He was just scared, lost and afraid of the cause of his broken family.

And finally, when he found the one person that could make him happy, that could make all of his bad memories start to fade, she was ripped away from him. To make matters even worse, he had to take the blame for her death when he was really the one that was hurting most. As I looked in front of me I saw that same boy, teardrops still evident as he allowed the memories to flood back. And even though he might push me away, even though he might reject my attempt to comfort him, I got up anyway, walking closer to the broken boy. I was taller than him as I stood while he was still sitting on the creaky bed.

My subconscious took over before I could catch up, not even knowing what I was doing but doing it anyway. There was a weird feeling in the atmosphere, almost a tingling that drew me to Harry. I couldn't describe it, but it was definitely there. It gave me the overwhelming urge to reach my hand up and touch him, kiss him even. My eyes dropped from his eyes down to his lips, his plump glossy lips. I could only imagine what it would be like to feel them against my own, the thought itself nearly making my knees go weak. But with all of the power I could muster up I refrained, instead settling for the second option. My hand rose up almost without me thinking, sliding into his soft curls. He looked up at me with bright eyes, his bottom lip coming between his teeth. But he didn't pull away, actually seeming to welcome my gentle touch. As my hand moved across his thick locks, I stepped closer and closer to him until his head rested against my stomach and I stood between his legs. He slowly snaked his arms around my lower back, pulling me even closer to him. Harry let out a shaky sigh while I moved my hand back and forth through his hair, lightly scratching his scalp. The other hand rubbed his back to try and relax him or maybe to ease him of his remorse.

"Shh, it's okay. I'm gonna get you out of here. I promise," I said, and I meant every word.

If you would've told me a couple months ago that I would be holding Harry like I was now, his arms wrapped around my waist and my hand tangled in his hair, I wouldn't have believed you. I would've laughed at the idea, I would've cringed at the thought. But now, after I had gotten the chance to know him, I wished for nothing more than too remain like this forever.

But at Wickendale privacy hardly lingered for more than a few precious moments, the wooden door of the room creaking open as we abruptly broke apart. I immediately felt the vacancy of Harry's warmth as Lori stepped through the archway, seeming too preoccupied to have any suspicion of the events that had just taken place.

"So yeah, your cut's all cleaned up and it's not deep enough for stitches, so you're good to go," I ranted, trying to diminish any evidence as to what had just occurred.

Lori just walked past us without a word, grabbing miscellaneous papers off of her desk before making her way over to the bed where Molly was lying.

"Thank you ma'am," Harry's deep voice rumbled as his cherry-red lips tugged up in a smirk. I watched as he pulled his uniform up over his broad shoulders. His mischievous stare didn't move from mine as his fingers worked to button up the blue fabric.

Lori's gaze shifted over to the two of us, seeing Harry's grin as I grinned back. By the way her eyebrows came together in concern, her attention shifting carefully from Molly to us as if she didn't want to be noticed, told me that she knew something was up. Maybe it had been more evident than I had assumed we were letting on; and now Lori knew something. The extent of her knowledge was somewhat of a mystery, but she definitely realized that Harry and I didn't have any ordinary employee-to-patient relationship. I didn't know whether or not Lori was one to worry about, so I just excused the matter. I didn't want to draw any more attention to it than I needed to.

"I'll see you later, Rose," Harry said, excusing himself as he walked out the door.

"Bye Harry," I replied, watching him exit.

Our past conversation seemed to have built a sort of bond, like a rope that mentally united us. How strong of a rope that was, I couldn't be sure. But I now knew something about him that hardly anyone else did. And this final clue that had solved Harry's dark mystery gave me some piece of mind, knowing that one of my biggest worries could be dismissed into oblivion. But with that peace also came a great horror, because I knew that he hadn't killed those women.

And now there was nothing stopping me from falling for him.

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