Chapter Twenty-Eight

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After another beautiful day, ticking off day four with them, Harry and Meredith laid outside, under the beautiful starlit sky in the woods. Waves lapped against the snow and ice as they sat on the dock. The trees swayed in the slight breeze of the ocean. A bonfire burned, creating the only light around them besides the stars. They were covered in lots of blankets, any way to keep the warmth going.

Meredith's face and fingers were the only things exposed to the soft wind. Her fingers trailed through Harry's orange hair. Moving in and out, she absentmindedly touched his hair. He didn't mind, watching more her than the sky. There had been promises of shooting stars tonight, but all those thoughts had since disappeared. Though Meredith tried to keep her eyes to sky, they always came back to Harry. He never tried to look up.

As far as Harry was concerned, Meredith was the most worthy subject of beauty.

He had nothing to wish for when Meredith was in his arms. If he wanted anything, it was more time. Yet, he knew, more time he would get someday. For now, this was enough, because it had to be. Meredith needed the chance to live her life before falling in line with his. She needed a chance to be free, to thrive outside of the light, and if she still saw him as wonderful, caring, kind and loving, she would come back to him. That was all he could wish for.

Looking down at Meredith, seeing how she smiled in awe while staring up at the stars, it was enough.

Laying down, Meredith wanted a better look at the stars, or at Harry. She placed her head on his lap, leaving his head chilly with her hand gone. She stared upward. All the stars were blocked by Harry, and she didn't mind in the slightest. He curled the blanket around her, meant to keep her and him warm. It did work, until Meredith stuck her hand out. Gently, her cold fingers touched his warm face, brushing against his jaw.

Reaching forward, Harry took her hand in his, pressing it to his lips. He tried to warm her long fingers, but alas, it was no hope. Chuckling, Meredith placed her hand back down under the blanket. She found his other hand and held it. Harry leaned down and kissed her forehead. Somehow she wasn't even chilled. Meredith said she was built for this weather.

Something caught her eye. Harry watched in pain as Meredith looked to the sky. There was the shooting star, blazing across the sky in one second. Meredith closed her eyes as it disappeared, whispering a few words under her breath. Opening them again, she watched as Harry only watched her, sending no wish above.

"What did you wish?" he asked.

"I didn't wish anything," Meredith admitted. "I thanked."

"For what?"

"You."

Harry blushed, feeling his cheeks starting to burn.

"I thanked that I have you and all the time I can spend with you." Meredith squeezed his hand. "It isn't enough time now, because we only have a few days left together, but we'll see each other again." She smiled. "These last few days have been amazing. I had forgotten what it was like to be with you, but I feel alive, and I feel so happy. It's been a while since I felt this way, but you make me happy, Harry."

Maybe it was the cold air getting to his eyes finally, but Harry teared up slightly. Hoping she wouldn't notice, he looked out to the ocean. Meredith noticed, observant as always. Her hand escaped from under the blanket again and turned his face back to hers. Lightly, she brushed away his tear.

"You're home, Harry," Meredith said. "I've been running for a long time. I've been trying to find a new home. I was lost, surrounded by people who didn't know the feeling, and I could never find where I was going. I ran and I kept running, but I just got more lost. I was stuck, content to do the same thing every day, and I hated it. I hated my life before, but I never realized why. I was always looking for home, and I thought home was a place or a house. But home is you, Harry, wherever you are. You are home."

Once again, his eyes started to tear again.

"Oh, Harry," she laughed, "don't cry over that. If you knew I loved you, you must've of known the rest."

"It's different when you say it aloud," Harry responded gently, "but I didn't know I was home. I don't want to take you away from your life, Mere. I want you to be able to do whatever you want."

"You are what I want."

"But--"

"No. I'm not going anywhere, Harry." She chuckled. "You're stuck with me."

"Never." He kissed her fingertips again. They were a bit warmer now. "I'll never be stuck with you. I'm happy to spend every day of the rest of my life with you. I am proud to call you my love. I am overjoyed to know that you love me too. I love you, Mere."

"I love you, Harry."

His fingers ran through her blonde hair, patting it down. It twisted around his fingers. "I think it's always been you, Mere. Those girls-- no mater how much I don't like to talk about them-- they ended up being nothing. I thought I was in love, but then I fell out of love. It never fit properly. But I fit well with you. I fall in line with you. I fell completely in love with you on the night that we met, and it scared me," Harry admitted.

Meredith watched him intently.

Harry continued, "That was why there would time passing that I just wouldn't talk to you. We're supposed to have our guard up, in the monarchy, and in one moment, you tore it all down. I wanted to know more, and I certainly couldn't let you get away. But I was scared. You could ruin me if you wanted."

"I don't want to ruin you," she whispered.

"I know." He smiled. "But everyone said to be careful, even now, because I'm so madly in love with you. You could break my heart, and I'm not sure if I could ever get up again. I love you too much."

Meredith swallowed, unsure what to say.

"And it's okay, I realized. It's okay to be scared, because if you really love someone and they really love you, everything will be okay. That's love. When the bad times hit, I know everything will be okay because of love." Harry kissed her hand again. "Don't doubt for one second, Mere, that my love isn't real. I would do anything for you.

"And, Mere, you are home to me too."

She laughed. "Not that palaces?"

"No, though they are comfortable," he added. "You are home because at home, I feel safe and happy. Sometimes I don't feel safe, but I know you'll be there and you'll fight. There is never a doubt in my mind that you can kick ass, and you will kick ass."

Meredith snorted, patting his chest. "We'll do it together," she said unequivocally. "We have each other." Pulling up, Meredith kissed him on the lips, and the whole world lit up.





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Happy Valentine's Day!

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