Chapter Fifty-Five

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Groaning, Meredith rolled over and came face to face with Harry. He was already awake. His blue eyes glistened with the sunlight streaming in. Reaching out, Meredith ran her hands over his bearded face, petting it down. She groaned again, arching her back to stretch.

"How long have you been awake?" she asked kindly.

He shrugged.

"Have you just been waiting for me?"

"I like waking up next to you," Harry said.

"I bet you don't like sleeping with me. I took all the blankets." Blinking, the sunlight was a bit too bring for how tired she was. Though her Germany was only one hour ahead, it felt like her body fell back into Minnesotan time. "How was your sleep?"

"Good," he smirked. "You slept well too, hardly moved." Harry kissed her on the forehead and then rolled out of bed. "I'll get breakfast going if you want to think about getting up."

"No."

Harry pulled the blankets away, leaving Meredith's naked body exposed. She shivered. "I'll meet you downstairs."

"Fuck you."

"Last night," he reminded her, and then Harry went downstairs.

Rolling over, Meredith stared at the ceiling. Her stomach groaned, and her mind was heavy. Plaid curtain and a plaid rug filled her vision. It was all too much. Yet, Harry waited downstairs for her, and she got out of bed and went into the bathroom.

When Meredith came downstairs, Harry was in the kitchen, making breakfast. Kissing him on the cheek and wrapping her arms around his torso, Meredith watched Harry work. He didn't mind. As the eggs started to solidify, he turned in full, pulling her closer.

"What's the plan for today?" she asked.

"Eat and then a bit of a drive," Harry answered. "You brought your swimsuit, right?"

She nodded.

"It's supposed to be the warmest day while you're here, so how about a swim?"

"Are you going to swim with me?"

He shrugged. "I imagine that you didn't get too much ocean action while in Germany."

Harry was right. "Are you sure you don't want to come swimming?" Meredith asked. "It'll be fun. I promise I won't let you drown."

"We'll see what happens."

Finishing up with the eggs and ham, Harry moved onto the baked beans. He had those all to himself while Meredith made toast. The smell climbed in the room, and Meredith opened a window. For the life of her, she never saw baked beans as a morning dish. At home, baked beans was served with ribs and corn on the cob. At home, baked beans came in the summer with sloppy joes.

After breakfast, the two slipped into their bathing suits and snuck out of Balmoral. Summer was a popular time with the tourists, as Meredith was well aware from being here last year. Tourists were already on the grounds as they pulled ahead, heading toward the North Sea.

Taking the A93, it was a little longer than an hour drive to a beach. Though, it certainly wasn't private because of Scotland's roaming laws, it was secluded. Halfway between Aberdeen and Stonehave, thankfully the beach wasn't stone like it was among the lakes.

Meredith took a step out of the car, and the smell of the sea called to her. It was the same scent she faced when she hopped off the airplane in Scotland. It shook her core. Yet, Meredith planted her feet on the gravel, waiting for Harry as he grabbed the beach bag and food out of the back. She took off her shoes, preparing herself.

"Go," Harry bellowed from behind her. "Be free."

Giggling, Meredith took off toward the ocean, leaving her sandals on the sand. She plunged her toes into the cold water. It was warmish now, nothing like Lake Superior. She splashed around, still wearing her clothes. The white, foamy waves curled around her feet. The undertone threatened pull her away. If Harry wasn't here, she might let it.

Coming back to Harry, he set down the things on the beach and pulled off his shirt. "Help?" Harry handed his girlfriend a bottle of sunscreen, and she lathered him up. Gooey across her fingers, Meredith wiped the rest of it on herself.

"Come on." Meredith pulled on him. "You said you would go swimming."

"I will." Harry flopped down on the sand. "But I want you to have the first chance at it."

Meredith pouted, but excitement flooded through her veins.

"Go," he said. "I'll be here when you get back."

Not being able to fight it any longer, Meredith threw off her shorts and tank top, revealing her swimsuit, and she ran into the water. Splashing down when she was thigh deep, water curled around her. She pushed through. Sand and seaweed picked up around her. Gliding further out, Meredith was no longer able to touch, yet she pushed again, dipping below the surface.

When she finally found her way up, Meredith stared off into the horizon. Just up the shore and just down the shore, more towns with popular seaside restaurants and tourism shaped the landscape. More popular beaches held more people. Yet, Meredith swam alone. As much as she loved the ocean and loved to have some time alone with it, it was too quiet out here.

Seagulls screamed from above. The waves lapped against one another. Meredith's heart pulsed, sending little shock waves through the current. It was too quiet. Harry was just a dot on the sand, watching her, like she might drown, but he also waited.

Meredith turned back to shore and started her swim in, letting the ocean push her to shore. With how far out, she didn't feel anything originally, but when she got closer, she barely did any work. Standing in the water, Meredith beckoned him forward.

"Don't waste away in the sun," she said, before she dove down again.

Meredith wasn't sure if he followed her until her head cleared the surface. Abnormal splashing flipped behind her, and Meredith turned back with a grin on her face. He looked cold and careful in the water. He looked brilliant, with his muscles easily formed under his skin, and he shined so pale that he was sun. He caught up to her, and Meredith pulled him closer. Her feet held her up in the water.

From this close, it was hard to say he was perfect, but he was. Though he fell sometimes, like she did, like anyone did, he managed to hope right back up. It wasn't his body or his mind that made him perfect, when they were all flawed, but it was every piece of him put together to make a masterpiece. For all the times he was photographed, no one ever got his perfect side. There was always a headache to come with negative things of his past; was it so hard to notice that he changed? No, because the world still saw him as Prince Harry, not the person he had always been: Harry.

"What?" Harry asked with a smile. "Do I have seaweed on my head?"

Meredith blushed. "I love you."

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