Achilles Heel

22. Astar - First Kill

Before reading, this is a bit of a heavy chapter. At least near the end it is, if you aren’t comfortable with brief mentions of child neglect/abuse, feel free to skip over that. I’ll leave a little summary of the overall chapter at the bottom.

Mr. Styles Yacht

21:26pm // t minus 1 day before heist

“You know,” I begin, looking out at the Mediterranian Sea as the captain drives the boat at semi-high speeds. The wind blows my hair behind me, moving to tuck a piece behind my ear before deciding to hold it back with another scarf. This one’s my favourite shade of red to match the rest of my outfit.

“Wear something you’re comfortable in, something that makes you feel pretty,”

All morning whilst I was getting ready, Zayn’s words from the night before just kept repeating throughout my head. It was a constant mantra.

So I did just that, pulling on a red ribbed, crop top. It’s a thin, cami style crop top. My belly button piercing is the star of the show, reflecting every time the sun hits it just right. I had changed out the piercing just before we left for a heart with devil horns at the top of it.

The devil is slowly but surely trickling into everything that I do and I know that has everything to do with Harry.

Harry’s fingers rest on my back as we lean over the railing, the only thing filling the silence between the both of us is the sound of the yacht gliding through the water.

“I should have expected that you would own a Yacht. I’m surprised there aren’t any markings of the devil on it,” I continue after breaking my eyes away from the view, turning to look at Harry who is surprisingly already looking at me.

His gaze is intense, one that lights a match underneath me and warms my insides. He makes direct eye contact every time, letting you know that he’s always listening. You’re the centre of attention if he’s looking at you.

It’s such a little thing, but it’s so telling and it makes me shift my weight on my feet which is a little nauseating to do in open waters. I’ve never been good with ocean sickness.

His eyes shift from my face to my back, his fingers tracing over the snake tattoo that cascades down my spine. His touch is gentle as if he’s afraid that any moment he’ll push me too far and I’ll step back from his touch.

I don’t think there’s anything that could make me step away from Harry at this moment.

It was tranquil.

Harry is tranquil.

He’s my calm.

My comfort.

He’s the calm after the storm, the one that wreaks havoc on my mind. The one that crashes against the shore, the one that causes the tide to grow high to the point that it submerges whatever is in its wake.

Harry is the reason the tide recedes and the murky, distressed waves return to what they once were.

Calm.

I’ve only known him for a little over a month, yet he’s crept into the deepest crevices of my mind and buried himself there. He was once a seed, but now he’s budding and taking over every spot that was once dark and murky.

It’s scary, the realisation that Harry is someone that I could end up falling for.

Just the idea of falling for someone, in general, is terrifying because I have never experienced love before.

Will it be unrequited? Will he leave me bloody and bruised against the shoreline, bleeding out and crying out for help only for my cries to be left unheard.

Or will the feelings be requited, engulfing me into his embrace and letting my seed bud in the deepest crevices of his mind as well until I become his own calm.

“Hey,” He breathes out as the wind picks up, mimicking the shrill cries of what would come out of my body if he decides to leave my broken body on the shoreline.

I tear myself from my thoughts in favour of turning to look at him, noticing that his brow is furrowed a bit.

“You disappeared from reality up here,” He says softly as if he’s afraid that the moment will be broken if he speaks over the shrill cry of the wind. He brings his hand up, tapping gently on the side of my temple.

“Penny for your thoughts?” He then asks, deciding to look back out at the water. The sun was starting to slowly disappear over the horizon, meeting the edge of the water for a kiss to turn it the colours of the skyline.

I remain silent as I look back out at the water, watching as it turns into a painting. The pinks, oranges and purples take my breath away as the wind slowly calms.

Harry doesn’t push any further, instead, he wraps his arm around my shoulders and pulls me right into his side. The next thing I feel is his lips pressing into my hair, lingering for a few moments before he seems to realise exactly what he’s doing and detaches himself from me.

The next question he asks to break the silence catches me off guard, my head whipping to the side so fast that I’m surprised that I didn’t get whiplash.

“Have you ever killed someone?” He asks, picking at the chipping nail polish on his fingernails. He doesn’t meet my gaze like he usually does and I’m quick to decide that I don’t like that. I prefer it when his eyes are hot on me, making my stomach fill with nerves until I have to shift my weight.

“What makes you ask that?” I answer the question with a question, not knowing if it’s a genuine question or if he’s just trying to trip me up.

His tongue slowly rolls out to wet his lips, brow furrowing as the sun washes over his face to turn it golden.

He looks so fucking beautiful in this light. I only have half of a mind to pull my phone out, taking a picture of him just for this moment. It only takes two seconds.

The picking at his nails has now stopped as he turns to make eye contact with me again, glancing down at the phone in my hands before looking up and giving a shake of his head. I know he isn’t disappointed because the corners of his lips turn up into a little grin—one that he’s trying to hide but failing terribly at.

His dimples are what gives him away, digging into his cheeks so deep that he even bites down on his lower lip to try and contain his smile.

I’m just grateful that he didn’t ask for me to delete the photo. I’m a sucker for little things to memorise happy memories. Like the speck of blood of his that sits pretty on my knife.

Instead of letting him answer my question, I decided to give him a genuine answer to his original question.

“Yes,” I breathe out, “Don’t think anything will be as satisfying as my first kill though,” I admit, deciding to be completely transparent with him. There’s not really anything I have to hide from with this story, except leave a few minor details out.

Out of my peripheral vision, I can see Harry’s head turn to look at me. His face isn’t one of surprise but rather questioning. He’s no longer picking at what’s left of his red and black nail polish. His focus is solely on me once again.

Now it’s my turn to start picking at the chipping nail polish on my own fingers, deciding that it’s time to get rid of it anyways.

I’ve never really spoken to anyone other than Wren about my first kill, the one that almost got me sent to prison. They were ready to throw away the key to my cell.

“This is one of the most brutal murders that all of Rye has ever seen. I’m glad the papers didn’t get a hold of this. We had to pay a lot of money to those reporters.”

To this day, my hands still feel tainted with the blood that seeped onto them with every blow he received.

He deserved it and worse.

For what he did to me.

For what he did to Kaia.

For what he did to my mum.

When I turn to look at Harry, he’s still waiting for me to patiently continue but my hands feel heavy. The rocks in my throat seeping down and settling heavy in my stomach, expanding until I’m left with a small ache.

I continue regardless.

“My first kill was my father,” I admit in a hushed tone, looking up at the stars as they started to create constellations throughout the sky.

“That’s all you really need to know. Maybe one day I’ll tell you the entire story but I’m not quite ready to go into depth about that yet,” I force out, trying my best to swallow down the heavy rocks that have made their home in the pit of my throat.

Harry doesn’t push, instead, he places his hands on the railing of the yacht and pushes himself off of it. The sun has now disappeared beneath the water, the moon taking its place high in the sky.

What a shame they never get to formally meet.

“Cmon, I think the butler has put out our dinner.” He smiles, nodding towards the upper deck of the yacht. I mindlessly follow after him, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear as we ascend the stairs.

On the top of the yacht, there’s a table waiting in the middle, complete with two plates, two wine glasses and a bottle of red wine in the middle that’s sitting pretty in a bucket of ice.

There’s no way that Harry can deny that this is a date. Whatever he wants to classify it as, a business meal, a transaction, whatever. It’ll just be a word for him to use to not say date.

I can wait until he’s ready.

Harry moves to grab the back of one of the chairs, pulling it out before gesturing for me to take a seat. I do just that, muttering a soft thank you before I sit down and bring one leg over to rest on top of the other. Harry sits directly across from me, moving to grab the bottle of wine before he pops the cork with ease.

“Hope red wine is more your alley. I didn’t think to ask,” He breathes out as he reaches over to tip the glass, the wine staining said glass as it fills about halfway before he’s retreating and filling up his own glass.

“Red wine is fine, H. No need to stress over alcohol. I love all forms, except that cheap shit you had yesterday,” I gag, feeling like I can still taste it on my tongue even though I know that’s impossible.

The butler comes out with the food before Harry has a chance to reply. I immediately notice the dishes as gnocchi, the aroma travelling up to my nose and causing my stomach to grumble which is a little butterfly effect in itself.

This makes me think back to the club. I wonder what lie Harry gave to Tony to make him give me time off, or did he just offer him a shit ton of money?

Or did he simply tell Tony the truth?

Under the dim light that the candle in the centre is giving off, Harry looks like the colour green. The colour that most resonates with calm. A harmonious feeling that comes with the colour. Harry is the definition of green mixed with a little bit of yellow.

Once the food is put on our plates, I pick up my fork and start to eat, not wanting to continue the conversation that we were having before this.

Everything right now was just a bit too intimate. A bit too close. Something I never expected from tonight.

Tonight is just a whirlwind of feelings that I have never experienced before and they just keep building up. Eventually, they will spill from my lips and taint the air, but for now, I want to try my hardest to keep them buried.

This is a mission and in the end, they will disappear. This is purely lust talking and nothing else.

I think a part of me deep down knows that isn’t true though, but I don’t give it much thought. I keep it hidden, not letting it see the light of day in my mind.

We eat in silence, but it isn’t uncomfortable.

It’s one of those silences where you can let your mind wander off but it won’t turn dark. It’s soft and kind.

Harry is the one that breaks the silence again. He seems to be the one to do that a lot lately.

“Do you know what a Chinese Lantern is?” He questions, his voice soft and hesitant.

The butler makes a brief appearance to clear the table since we have finished our food, leaving the wine which Harry moves to grab so that he is able to refill the glasses. Under the dim candle, I can now see that his lips are stained a pretty red colour. My eyes stay fixated on them, finding them mesmerizing as he speaks yet everything he says is going in one ear and exiting through the other.

“Astar, did you hear what I asked?” He mutters, moving to put the bottle of wine back into the bucket full of melting ice.

It’s nearly twenty-seven degrees celsius so I’m not surprised in the slightest, what I am surprised by is the fact that the wine is still ice cold as it touches my lips.

To get through the rest of the night, I can tell I need this second glass.

“No,” I breathe out, licking over my lips as I set the glass back down on the table. “Sorry, no. I don’t know what a Chinese Lantern is,” I clarify, realising my initial answer is able to be used for both questions.

Harry just nods and motions for me to stand up, grabbing his own glass of wine as he does so before he walks over to another table that is on the opposite end of the yacht near the back.

“A Chinese lantern represents good luck, joy, good energy…” He drowns off, coming to where what I can only suspect is two white Chinese lanterns but they just look like pieces of white paper to me. “However, white represents death and mourning,” He continues, setting his glass of wine down on the table before showing me the candles that rest near the lanterns.

I still don’t understand what he’s getting at, moving to look up at Harry as he grabs a pen and then starts to write on the side of one of the lanterns.

‘ANNE’ Is written in all caps, my heart beating quickly as I realise exactly who that is. His mum.

He’s mourning his mum.

“I don’t think you’ve sent a letter to your sister in a while,” He whispers, his words floating out into the air and reverberating over and over in my mind. He’s careful like he’s afraid that he’s overstepped a boundary but I step forward and grab one of the markers before I’m writing on the second Chinese Lantern.

‘KAIA’ is written in all caps just like Harry’s mum's name.

“You’re right,” I speak, my voice shaking ever so slightly as I recap the marker and set it to the side. This is more than a date.

Harry then sets the lantern up, pulling out his Zippo lighter so that he can light the candle and the lantern starts to lift. He makes sure he holds it down though so that he can wait until I light it.

I’m quick to copy his movements, trying my best not to let my hands shake but that’s damn near impossible to do. This was never one of the outcomes that my mind thought of. I thought of everything but this and I feel like I could throw up.

I might just throw up and somehow Harry senses this. Harry moves to grasp onto one of my hands with both of his, bringing one of them up to grasp my jaw so that he can force me to look up at him. “Hey,” He grumbles, still tip-toeing around how loud he wants to speak.

I’m a ticking time bomb. My bottom lip wobbles and I quickly blink my eyes, moving to look up at the stars and how bright they are. I refuse to be vulnerable like this in front of Harry. I’m not ready yet.

Harry’s quiet as he brushes his index finger under my eye, brushing away any tears that threaten to fall down my cheeks and stain them. He catches them before they get a chance to fall.

“No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future, just sit and be present with me for a moment.” He whispers, his breath hitting my face and when I look up, his gaze is fixated on my lips which continue to wobble.

My tongue darts out to wet them since the breeze has dried up any and all moisture that was once on them.

Will he let it happen this time? I can’t think of any elements that are going to stop us. The boys aren’t here. The weather is perfect. The workers on the yacht seemed to be minding their own business.

Yet, he pulls back and coughs into his hand to clear his throat.

Whenever he’s ready.

Although, I don’t even know if I’m ready for something like that if I can’t even admit that I’m growing to like him.

“Are you ready?” He asks, dropping his hands from both my hand and my cheek. “Or do you want to add something to yours?” He questions, clearing his throat once again. I must not be the only one with rocks in my throat.

“Can you tell me about her?” I ask, gesturing to the name on his lantern. I just need something to distract me as I start to write a little bit more on my own lantern since I have yet to light my candle.

Harry seems to take a moment to think about it before he nods his head, not meeting my eyes once more as he starts to tell me about the woman that was his mother.

“Her name was Anne,” He begins, watching as I write a message to my sister on my lantern.

“She was...She was…” He let out a soft chuckle, giving a shake of his head. “I wouldn’t call her a mother. She was my first kill.” He states, which catches me off guard because this is something personal to Harry.

He’s giving me a small piece of his life and trusting me with it.

Instead of lighting my lantern, I move to relax against the railing of the yacht so he knows that he has my full, undivided attention.

Harry’s fingers ghost over my arm before he’s reaching down to grab my hand, turning it over so that my palm is upright and with that, he’s slowly running the pads of his fingers over my palm.

There it is again. His fingers aren’t smooth like the other boys, they’re rigid like he has little mountains on the pads of his fingers.

“She used to hold my hand over the stove at high temperatures.” He finally explains, voice void of any emotion as if he has detached himself completely from the memory. “Resulting in the loss of my fingerprints and all feeling in them. I can’t feel anything,” He breathes out.

In response I move to grab his hand, giving it a small squeeze even if I now know that all nerve endings there have been severed. I just want him to know that I’m still listening and that I’m right here.

At this moment, I need to be his calm.

“I use the acid burning ritual as a way to hide that. Everyone just assumes that’s why I lack fingerprints, but really it’s from a shit upbringing. Something that I didn’t do willingly. I keep my past hidden from everyone,” He moves to lift his head up, looking out at the dark waters. His forehead creates lines as he furrows his brow, finally turning to look right at me as if he’s realised something. “I don’t know why I have just told you this,” He admits, glancing down to where my hand is still grasping onto his as if it’s an anchor.

I know condolences during something like this aren’t the best to say, so instead, I give his hand another squeeze and stand up on my tiptoes. I hesitate for just a brief moment before I let my lips come into contact with his cheek, letting the kiss linger there for a few moments before I lower myself and look back out at the sea.

He’s completely silent beside me, my hand falling from his as I finally light the candle under my lantern.

MI6 doesn’t need to know this. Anything from tonight is off the record. These are Harry’s secrets to keep. All MI6 needs to know is that the acid burning is an initiation ritual for members of the gang and not a front.

Another lie.

I’m fine with the lies that are building up.

There’s no way for Jamie to find out and I’m fine with lying about something like this. Even if I do end up caught, I’d still lie about something like this just to protect something that could be used against Harry in a malicious way.

“Why don’t we set these off now, yeah?” I breathe out, realising that even though Harry has hatred in his heart for his mum, he still mourned her. Maybe not the person she was, but rather the fact that she was his mum in general.

She may not have been the kindest, but he still loved her regardless.

Harry clears his throat a few times, just giving me a nod as he moves to grab onto the edge of his lantern before we lift them up above us. Within a few seconds, they’re taking flight and drifting up into the dark of the night to be with the stars.

“Thank you,” I breathe out, feeling like I need to thank him for this. He didn’t need to go out of his way to do this for me. To talk about his past. To help me with the anniversary of my sister. Even though he knows the bare minimum, he still did something nice.

Harry Styles is completely different from the Harry Styles they have written out on paper.

Yet, do I truly even really know him and the darkness he keeps hidden? He is a yin yang after all. Always keeping one part of him hidden, just like the way the moon only lights up one side of his face.

When Harry opens his mouth to speak, it’s just to change the topic once again.

“Are you ready for the heist tomorrow, little devil?” His lips twitch a bit before a grin takes over his face, tilting his head to the side as he places his hand on the small of my back and leads me down into the yacht. He lets the captain know that it’s okay to go back to shore.

A light laugh falls from my lips as I blindly follow Harry, letting him take me back to the upper deck of the yacht. I move to lay back on one of the couches, watching as Harry emerges with a guitar. My laughter falls quiet as I watch him stand near the railing and just lightly strum his guitar.

His hair is now pulled back into a bun and he looks calm, any nerves or feelings of unease from his admission earlier seem to have dissipated.

“I’m ready if you are, boss man,” I finally reply, watching as he turns to look at me as his fingers move over the guitar strings with ease.

“I was born ready, baby,” There’s a devilish grin on his face that speaks volumes.

I’m in for a ride tomorrow but I’m more than ready to go on that ride with Harry.

Brief Summary: Astar realises that she’s falling for Harry but won’t admit it. Harry technically took her on a date but is too damn stubborn to admit it. Harry planned to release off Chinese lanterns for Astar to ‘let go’ of her sister and write a letter to her. Harry opens up about his past abuse in his childhood and admits that the burning of fingertips is just a front to hide the abuse.

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