Chapter Thirty-One

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When Meredith woke up, birds chirped outside. "Shut the fuck up," she groaned into her pillow. Pulling a blanket above her head, all she wanted was darkness-- and Harry. Flopping over, he wasn't beside her. Meredith felt the whole bed. Throwing off the cover, she was alone in the bedroom. All night long, she had been cold and alone.

Meredith groaned as she got off the bed, stumbling. Her cold feet pressed to the floor, making Meredith hiss. The world tilted around her. Tiredness twisted her bones. Dizziness caught her, and she almost fell to the floor. Taking a deep breath, Meredith left in the master bedroom, still dressed in her attire for last night, in search for Harry.

Her voice wouldn't worked, tired from the night before with all the shouting over the fireworks. Smelling herself, Meredith smelt like smoke, too, from last night. The mansion was filled with too many damn rooms for her liking. Coming to another room, Meredith found Harry. He was sprawled out on the bed, snoring slightly. He didn't at all look comfortable, but he was too tired to argue.

With space still left on bed, Meredith thought about going over and climbing into bed with him. She wanted to feel his warmth breath on her skin. She wanted to feel his fingertips run up and down her body. She wanted to feel alive again. As well as, she just wanted to sleep in his arms.

Meredith thought better of it.

Closing the door gently, Meredith went downstairs. There wasn't much in the kitchen for her to eat plain, so she was by herself for breakfast. Harry made her breakfast in bed, perhaps it was time to return the favor, hoping she didn't burn down the mansion. Finding a recipe, she started trying to make pancakes. She only got so far before she knew they weren't going to turn out correctly. She would be happy if they turned out to be cheap crepes. At least she didn't light anything on fire.

Putting them in the microwave for warmth, Meredith twiddled her thumbs as she walked around first the kitchen, second the ground floor, and third outside. Her clothes were thin and her shoes weren't good enough for the cold and snow, Meredith placed a coat on and was ready to brave the cold.

It wasn't that bad as she originally left the mansion. The sun was blocked, as was the wind. The farther she got out, the windier it became. Meredith continued her walk out to the ocean, never hesitating. The old dock creaked underneath her, feeling the push and pull of waves and ice. Meredith went to the edge, looking off.

The water went on forever. If only it was warm so she could swim forever. Meredith missed the ocean and the hot days. The sun kissed her skin, and Meredith felt herself melt into the water. She swam and kept swimming, with no idea where she might be going. She just wanted to be in the water.

Opening her eyes again, Meredith looked at the horizon, like it was the edge of the earth, like one could fall off. Standing on her tip toes, Meredith tried to look further, and it seemed like the water went just a tiny bit further.

The dock jerked slightly, knocking Meredith off her careful balance. Her eyes opened wide as she tipped forward, slamming into the icy water. Immediately, she was swallowed whole. Her body cringed with impact. Lungs burned as water flooded them. Her fingers clawed through the water, trying to find the surface. Her body swung around. Her eyes tried to find light. However, it was still so dark outside, with the sun on the horizon, hid behind the large house.

Bubbles around her, floated and fluttered, arising as Meredith let out an underwater scream. More water entered her lungs. Eyes opening again, burning again, her blonde hair turned dark brown in the water, clouding her vision. Air bubbles floated up, so that was where she needed to go.

Her body pushed through the water, trying to get farther up, but she never seemed to make it that far. Ice clung to her body. Her heartbeat slowed, when it had once been panicked. A million bubbles surrounded her with every movement, holding a memory of her past. She floated in the water, deep somewhere, with icy waves above her. Meredith floated.

Mere.

Pushing upward, her body urged her forward, one last attempt to not drown. She pushed herself away from the darkness below, where Jack might be hiding, where bad things happened. There wasn't much light above her, and she couldn't know if she was going the right direction. But she refused to go down again.

Head breaking the surface, cold air rushed into her lungs. Suddenly her body felt so much colder, half submerged and half above. The water was like a warm blanket that called her back to bed. Her eyes looked back into the dark water, where there was warmth. Around her, icy waves pushed up against her like walls, not allowing her to see what way to go.

Between the waves, the little dips allowed for a tiny window. She moved around and around. There was nothing but more water, the soft and warm water of a blanket. Meredith jerked around again. Her eyes caught the light dock, resting in front of a large, brick house. With arms trembling, Meredith struggled to keep her head above water. Her legs stopped working from the cold water. Her lungs burned, but not enough to keep her warm. She grew tired.

Meredith slapped the wooden deck with a hand, finding home. Her frozen hand crashed into the ocean beside her. She threw her other hand up, hoping to catch the wooden beams. Thankfully, she did. Her nails drove into the wood beams. Huffing, Meredith threw up her other hand, which found another wood piece to hang on.

Her head hovered above the water. Waves continued push against her, threatening to make her go under the dock. Meredith didn't have the strength to swim against the tide. Fingers still clinging in to the wooden boards, she coughed up water. It was so tempting to go back under, to the warmth. Screaming, Meredith flung herself upward, reaching for another plank.

Meredith now laid at an odd angle. Half of her torso and all of her legs floated in the water, while her head rested on the wood board. The wood under her face was icy, burning her already cold skin. However, she was alive.

Reaching forward, Meredith gripped another board, pulling herself out of the water more. Her feet dangled in the water. Meredith groaned and rolled over onto her back. Lungs burned, more air flooded through. Her face turned toward the sky, fully out of the water now. The brilliant sky floated above.

Something grabbed a hold of her, and Meredith desperately tried to throw it off, as if the ocean was trying to pull her back down again. The thing-- those hands-- held onto her tightly. The brilliant sky was blocked by orange hair. Harry hovered above her, saying something.

Opening her mouth, Meredith tried to speak. It wasn't words that came out but ocean water. Immediately, Harry pulled her up, expelling water from her lungs. She coughed and coughed. Harry ran his hands over her arms, trying to warm her. He murmured soft things in his ear, while switching over to a harsh voice to command.

Lying back in Harry's arm, she looked at Harry. He looked almost angelic. Reaching her, Meredith's frozen hand ran along his face. Harry shuddered at the touch. He took her hand, pressing it to his lips, trying to kiss warmth into her fingertips.

"Mere."

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