Chapter Thirty

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After the fireworks, Meredith and Harry walked through Vancouver as people dissipated out. The stroll back was long and it had significantly cooled off. Meredith and Harry kept moving. Upon reaching the car, Meredith tried to take the keys away from him. Harry argued gently, "Give them back, Mere."

"You drove here. Let me drive back," Meredith responded, jingling the keys.

"You're tired."

"So are you."

"Then keep me away when I'm driving." Harry managed to snatch the keys away from her.

Meredith placed her hands on the hips. "You know me, Harry. You know I'll fall asleep."

"You look beautiful when you're sleeping." Harry got into the car.

"That's creepy," Meredith muttered, still looking at where he stood. She got into the car. "I can't make any promises."

"I don't need that." Harry kissed her hand and then started the car. Meredith settled back in the seat, turning up the music.

As the car got out of Vancouver, she immediately grew tired. She had plans for the rest of the night, but Meredith doubted it would get that far. At least she wasn't vomiting over the long car rides. Meredith talked, where Harry listened, and she tried to sing along. But her eyes closed slowly. And then her eyes flashed open again, and Meredith tried to go back to talking.

Harry laughed.

"Where was I again?" Meredith asked.

Shaking his head, Harry reminded her, "Kira, not your best friend from university but best friend from high school. You know a lot of Kyra's."

"Oh, yeah, she's engaged. Can you believe that? She's a month younger than me. She's nineteen! I'm nineteen! How can someone get married at so young?"

"My mum did, to my dad."

Meredith sighed, "Different era."

He laughed. "Perhaps they love each other?"

"She's still nineteen!" Meredith exclaimed. "What's that look?"

"We've talked about marriage, Mere. We've talked about our lives together after you've graduated university. You said a few years, and they're waiting a few years. What's the difference?"

"It's harder to escape when you're engaged."

"Do you see it that way?"

Meredith moved on, "And, there's a difference, Harry. We're not engaged, and we've talked about it. It's nothing too serious."

"Nothing too serious?" he asked.

"Harry, I love you, dearly," Meredith said, "but you know that I need somewhere you fall in case this doesn't work out. I believe this will work out, but just in case. You always say I can get out. Always. So, yes, I might be dating I may marry and I'm nineteen. At nineteen, I've talked about marrying you. Yet, I can't admit it aloud."

Harry smirked. "Would you feel tied down?"

She sighed in disgust.

"Is that a yes?"

"I want to pretend like I'll see another dick in my life besides yours."

He chuckled. "Is mine not good enough?"

"I don't know. It's the only I've ever seen."

"Other girls," he said, "say it's pretty good."

"Sure, they do." Meredith rolled her eyes. Tiredness threatened to overtake her again. "It's just weird, you know, to think of spending your life with someone forever. At this age, it really is forever. And what if they don't work out? Holy shit! At nineteen, that's your whole life, just to get a divorce."

"Mere?"

"Yes?"

"I'm really hoping your only saying this because you're tired." He curled his fingers into the steering wheel. "Do you think these things a lot?"

"Yeah," she admitted.

"You're very honest when you're tired."

"You should be happy I'm not crying. When I'm tired, that happens." Meredith tapped her hands against the seat, antsy again. "I don't know how to stop thinking."

Harry didn't need to ask a question because he already knew. Meredith was anxiety prone. He realized this in the first few seconds of meeting her, when she tried to climb out of a window at a party that she felt uncomfortable. It had only gotten worse as the time went on. Sometimes she was all good, and other times, especially when paparazzi were around, she grew uncontrollably anxiety filled and sad.

Knuckles turning white on the steering wheel, Harry swallowed. "Mere?"

There wasn't a response. Only a song played.

His blue eyes glanced over to Meredith, and she had fallen asleep again. Harry smiled and looked back toward the road, humming along to the song. She stirred a few times, blinking to wonder where she was, and then Meredith fell back to sleep again. Getting closer to the house, Meredith started to stir again. The bright lights flashed on the house, and Meredith jolted awake. Her eyes grew wide, trying to focus on where she was.

"Good morning," Harry sang.

"Shut the fuck up." Meredith laid back down in the seat.

He laughed. "If you go inside, you can have a nice, comfortable, warm bed."

She couldn't find the door handle fast enough, basically clawing her way out of the car. Laughing, Harry followed her. She slipped on ice but recovered. Harry ended up having to help Meredith up the stairs, as she almost fell over a few times. Having not a care, Meredith flopped down on the bed.

"Listen, Harry," Meredith groaned, "we aren't going to be able to do anything tonight." She motioned to her body. "Sorry. I'm a bit tired."

"Yeah." Harry walked over and took off Meredith's shoes for her. She had dragged snow and mud into the house, but at this point, neither of them cared. "Mere?"

"Hmm?" she murmured into the pillow. Moving her head, Meredith watched him in the brightly lit master bedroom. Makeup caked the white pillow. Red lipstick almost looked like blood. Run off mascara and eyeliner turned the pillow black like ink.

"What did you mean when you said these people, they don't care and they don't know?" he asked hesitantly.

"Is that really what you've been thinking about?" Clumsily, she wiped her lipstick off more.

"Yes."

"What do you think I meant?"

"That," Harry hesitated, "people don't understand me or the monarchy, and they don't care to know us."

Smiling, Meredith moved around the bed and curled her fingers around his chin, forcing him to look her in the eyes. "That's what's been worrying you. No, I meant that while in Canada, while in Minnesota, no one's looking for you. They don't expect you to be there. Also, most people don't actually know you. Prince Harry-- who is that?" Meredith mocked. "As well as, there were fireworks. Their eyes were directed toward the sky." Her eyes grew soft. "Your guard is up, Harry, but sometimes it doesn't need to be. When your guard is up, you push me away, but I know that you love me and I love you, so I come back. I know, too, I push you away sometimes.

"But when we're out in public, it's okay. Some people don't care and they don't know."

Harry smiled sadly.

"Happy new year!" Meredith flopped down on the bed, trying to tear off her clothes, but she gave up. Tiredness, like the rolls of waves, took her away.

"Happy new year." Harry stood up. Gently, he put a blanket on her, making sure most of her was covered. Harry knew how cold she could get. Kissing her on the forehead, Harry left in the room.

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