Chapter Twenty-Six

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There was light in the room. Something pattered against the windows, which was frosted over. The temperature had dropped last night, and Meredith woke to herself freezing. Pulling up the blanket, Meredith called out for Harry. No answer came. She peeked through eyelashes. She was alone. Too cold to get out of bed, Meredith snuggled in deeper to the covers and closed her eyes again.

At some point, she awoke to the clatter of something falling to the ground outside the door. "Shite!" Harry exclaimed.

Meredith groaned and rolled over to face the door.

Slowly the door opened and Harry came in. He wore a concentrated look as he held a tray. The plates shook on it. He didn't even glance at her as he came in, just kept looking down. Finally he put it on the table and turned to her.

Meredith had closed her eyes again, body up to the ceiling, pretending to be Sleeping Beauty. Laughing, Harry came over and kissed her on the lips. "Good morning," he said.

She smiled and opened her eyes. "Hello."

Harry handed her a coffee cup. "Doesn't even taste like coffee," he said. "I tasted it myself."

Taking it out of his hand, Meredith took a sip. He was right; it didn't taste like coffee. She just needed the caffeine, and he watered the coffee with milk and sugar. It was even cold, because Meredith didn't like drinking hot things. It was complicated but he never complained.

"I also have," Harry continued, "breakfast in bed and movies and everything else."

"It sounds like you're trying to keep me in bed all day," Meredith responded.

"I am. And you don't have much a choice."

"I don't?"

"No, because I know you aren't... great on ice. It's sleeting outside."

Meredith groaned.

"I know. Maybe it'll be better tomorrow." Harry climbed into bed beside her. "But for now," he planted a kiss on her lips, "we can spend all day in bed." His fingers trailed downward, making her skin turn to fire, and Meredith laughed, playfully pushing his away. Harry rolled off the bed. "Breakfast? I made your favorite."

Sighing, Meredith leaned back and let Harry wait on her every need. They ate at a table that sat in the room, after Meredith regretfully got out of bed. She refused to eat in bed. When her feet touch the cold floor, she hated the decision. Wrapped in a blanket, Meredith sat down beside Harry, half leaning against her.

"Tired?" he asked, smirking.

"You know that I am." She kissed him on the cheek. "It was a long flight."

He snorted. "I'm sure."

Meredith swallowed her eggs. "I'm going to have to take a shower today."

"How about a bath?" Harry asked, and Meredith met his eyes with a curious gaze. "Besides how far away we are from people, next to the sea, among many things," he listed, "I know how much you like bathes, and how much you complain about a bathtub not being up to your standards."

She arched an eyebrow. "Do I do that a lot?"

"You want a bathtub that you can read in it, but you want the water to be able to cover you like a blanket. You said something like that."

Meredith shrugged. "Continue."

"The bathtub here is great. I'm sure it'll fit your standards."

"I don't know, I have pretty high standards."

He kissed her on the top of the head. "I know."

After eating, Harry drew her a hot, bubble bath while Meredith walked over to the window. Outside, it continued to sleet, spreading only slippery ice around the house. Meredith noticed a fireplace downstairs, perhaps it would be lit tonight. Outside, the sea was alive with waves that crashed into one another. She wished to go outside, to be closer to them, but she didn't allow herself. It was too slick.

"Mere?" Turning around, Harry stood in the doorway to the bathroom. "It's ready."

Smiling, Meredith walked over to Harry, slowly backing him up into the bathroom. He stood there dumbfound. Curling her fingers into his shirt, she pulled it off of him. He smiled, opening his mouth to say something, but she kissed him, shaking her head. She made him speechless. Reaching down, she undid his pants and pulled them off.

"Mere?"

She hushed him again, until he was left there naked. "Into the bath," Meredith commanded.

"Why?" He had already stepped into the steaming bathtub.

"Because I need a good wash," Meredith said, motioning for him to sit down, which he did. "And I've been away from you for too long. It sometimes physically hurts me," she admitted. "So for the precious time that we can spend together, I want to spend with you." Meredith stepped into the bath, laying down on top of him, back to his front. "Just hold me, Harry."

Curling his arms around her, Harry didn't need anymore direction. He kissed her on the top of the head as they began to soak. Meredith closed her eyes, feeling tiredness of waves crash over her. With the hot water running across her body, she felt relaxed. Harry's heartbeat was at normal pace, creating a nice rhythm for her to fall asleep.

"Harry?"

"Hmm?"

"I love you."

He smiled. "I know." Harry kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too."

"I should've told you sooner, but at least you know now."

"Honestly, I knew before." He shrugged. "You just wouldn't say it, so I just let it go. I knew you would say it to me when you were ready."

"I don't think I ever realized what it was like to be apart from you." Breathing deeply, Meredith dipped a little lower in the water. "But we're going to have to continue. I have two years of college left, and then...."

"And then?" he prompted.

"I don't know," she admitted. "Am I supposed to get a job, Harry? I'll be known at Prince Harry's girlfriend. Am I supposed to move to London? Am I supposed to be... normal while there? If I'm in London, paparazzi will always be there. I won't be able to go anywhere, and...." Meredith breathed deeply. "It's too far away to think about it. It's two years."

"Two years can fly by quickly, but don't worry about it for now," he said.

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