As I listened to Harry’s words I couldn’t suppress the feeling of agreeing entirely with them, even if they were somewhat unrealistic. It was undeniable though; the truth was that nowadays we didn’t do things for ourselves; our good-hearted actions were for the sake of appearances. If people didn’t like what they saw they would automatically assume we were so different from them that we couldn’t possibly have the same values, interests, or even be as intelligent as them. Being seen with someone that avoided following the system of society gave us a bad image, and that was so sad I wondered how the human race hadn’t seen how wrong that mindset was.
I knew I was kind, I knew I was good and my intentions were pure, but since I was this aberration that went outside the lines of what was normal, all of a sudden I was not.
What was most curious to me was the irony of it all: the people who waste their entire lives trying to fit in that description of being “normal” were the ones who were unhappiest, and the people that set themselves free, away from what was supposed to be right and wrong or what should be done and not done were the ones that were truly happy.
Once Harry finished his speech, his hand still held mine firmly. Even after all the pain he had caused me and all the anger and frustration I felt towards him at times, the electricity of his touch had not withered away. However, I had not forgiven him yet and he knew it. I could see his uncertainness when he approached me, especially when he took my hand or made a tenderer gesture. Around him I felt some kind of calmness, and I was relieved that he was inside the infirmary when I walked in moments before. He was the only one that could calm me down and tell me everything would be just fine, while I knew deep inside the battle was just starting.
“This is not going to end well,” I told him as I looked down at the floor.
“Everything will be just fine, I know it will,” He stated, running his thumb along my hand.
I sighed deeply for what seemed like the twentieth time that morning. Once again, Harry was mixing my feeling towards him, and I felt a huge desire to hug him, but my head stopped me in time.
“What do you plan on doing next?” He asked me, bringing me back from my thoughts. “Do you want to stay here a little longer, do you prefer to be alone?”
I looked at the clock on the wall “Break time will be in half an hour, so it’s better if I stay here.”
“Good,” he simply said. I let go of his hand as I walked inside the room I slept in during my recovery from the fire, the room Harry had apparently slept that night. All six beds were still in the same places as before, only one was unmade. I walked slowly towards the giant semi-circular stone window and sat on a chair nearby. The frosted thick glass made it difficult to see outside, but outlines of naked trees could still be seen in the distance. Harry leaned with his shoulder against a wall about three meters away from me, facing me with his arms crossed lightly over his chest as his unruly curls fell over his forehead.
“You know, it’s funny,” I said.
“The fact that we somehow always end up here, in the infirmary, more wounded inside than outside,” I stated.
“Nurse Marion doesn’t only mend bones,” he said as a smile appeared on his features, making his eyes wrinkle at their edges.
“How do you know her name?” I asked him “You don’t seem like the kind of person that has strong bonds with authority.”
“You’re right, I don’t, but I guess I just like her,” He stated with a soft voice. I wondered what had happened the night before between them. What could have the nurse possibly told Harry that made him get up at three in the morning and go look for me in the freezing cold of the night? Whatever she said, I thanked her.
“Do you want to go outside?” I asked out of the blue. “I mean, to the gardens, obviously. We can’t go outside of the walls.”
“If you want to, yeah,” he said as he shrugged his shoulders. I got up abruptly, rising to my feet in the speed of light and grabbed his hand as I dragged him through the long room. I had no idea why, but I was dying to get out of that building, dying to breathe fresh air, and just run, literally run and stretch my tense muscles.
Once outside, the wind hit my face softly and made my hair swing. The sky was covered in compact white and grey clouds and I could sense it was going to start raining eventually, but we stayed nevertheless.
Summer and I moved aimlessly through the vast nature, and I couldn’t help myself but remember the first time we walked together without arguing with each other.
“So, tell me why your name is Summer again?” I asked her, and she laughed, genuinely laughed and I loved that sound. I was so glad she was forgetting what was happening, even if for just short moments.
“Ask my parents if you see them,” she replied. It was supposed to be a joke, but I sensed the pain behind her words. God, this girl has gone through so much, she doesn’t deserve any more shit.
“One day I intend to, yes,” I said as I put my hands inside my pockets. The wind was starting to pick up, and I forgot to take a jacket with me. We were now entering the forest, the floor completely covered with brittle, lifeless leaves. The high branches above us were completely free of then. A light fog was starting to settle around us, but we could still see perfectly.
“Then if you meet mine I want to meet yours too,” she said, her smile never leaving her face. A shiver ran down my spine at the mention of my parents, and even worse, at the mention of her meeting them.
As if noticing my discomfort – or maybe not since she had no idea what was going on – Summer changed the subject almost immediately. “Hey, what do you say about a race to the burnt stables?”
“Huh- I don’t think so...”
“Oh come on...” she said as she took her arms to her side. “Are you afraid to lose to a girl?”
“Of course not, I just don’t run,” I said, keeping my hands inside my warm pockets.
“Oh well, tough luck then,” she stated, and in a flash she was running through the trees and low branches.
“Summer!” I shouted her name although she wasn’t very far away yet.
“I’m going to win!” she said, extending her arms upwards in excitement. I rolled my eyes; she was such a child, but she looked like she was having fun. I sighed in frustration and swallowed my pride as I started to pick up my pace, eventually coming to a speed that could be considered running.
Summer looked like an arrow moving through the trees, and I had to admit the sensation of seeing the endless trees passing right next to me gave me the feeling I was an arrow too, as if I was flying through the air. I could hear Summer’s soft giggles as I got closer to her, and it was such a relief to see her having fun. She was obviously slowing down so I could catch up with her, because I reached her side in no time. Soon enough, the open space where the stables used to be came into view, and Summer’s competitiveness started to show. With one last sprint, her hand connected with the only standing wall of the stable before mine did and she cheered in triumph.
“Yes! I win!” She said happily. I, on the contrary, was completely breathless, so out of breath that I collapsed on the ground covered with leafs as I panted for air. It was a bit dramatic, but it got a good laugh out of Summer.
“You loser!” She laughed, wrapping her arms around her belly and closing her eyes shut.
“I’m sorry I am not an Olympic runner like you,” I said between breaths.
“I’m not an Olympic runner, I’m very far from that actually,” she said with modesty as she tried to get her breath under control.
“Oh I can already see it: in five years’ time you will be winning loads of medals and living the good life!” I said as I sprawled my arms on the ground as if making an angle in the snow. It was actually very comfortable, laying on top of the mountain of cold and brittle leaves.
As if reading my thoughts, Summer knelt down on the floor and laid down next to me. The colour of her hair matched the exact tone of the leaves below her, and her chapped, crimson lips contrasted perfectly against her smooth skin. God only knew how much self-control I needed not to kiss her. I loved her. I really did, but if I kissed her I would be disrespecting her, and it would make our situation even more uncomfortable that it already was. I could see she was trying not to forgive me, and it was working; not touching her was torture, and holding her hand was already a bold enough move and I knew I wouldn’t get more than that, at least not until she forgave. I deserve being locked in the monastery for a while. I just had to prove her that I had changed once and for all.
But it didn’t really matter if I could kiss her or not; I was already so lucky to have her right there with me that nothing else really mattered. I was the luckiest bastard in the world.
“You know what,” she said after a while at staring at the tree tops “I’m going to have an adult conversation with Anna and I’ll explain her everything.”
“Are you going to tell her about us?”
“I don’t know,” said Summer as she took her hands to cover her face “I mean, she can either take it very well – which is very unlikely because she hates you – or she can freak out and go and tell everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did, she proved she is not such a good friend as I thought she was.”
“If I were you I wouldn’t tell her anything,” I advised her “It’s too risky.”
“Harry, I understand why you are saying that, but try to put yourself in my shoes; I am with those girls almost all the time, in lessons, in the community room, in the canteen, and especially in our dorm. Do you know how awkward it will be in our dorm, no one knowing what to say or do? Sooner or later I will have to tell them, because they can’t give me the silence treatment forever.”
“Why don’t you just lie?”
“You’re seriously suggesting that I lie to them, again?!” she said in exasperation “Lying was what put me in this situation in the first place! It certainly won’t get me out.”
She took a deep breath to calm down “I lied about being with you because I didn’t want to lose their friendship, but now I don’t really know if we’ll ever be as good friends as we were again, so what do I have to lose? Besides, if they tell everyone that we are together I don’t really care. I was trying to keep my image clean, but now I don’t really care anymore.”
I didn’t respond as I took in her words. It made me so happy to hear them; first of all, she was confirming we were still together which was a huge relieve, and second of all, she was saying that she was no longer ashamed to be seen with me, that she didn’t care what people thought about us.
She wasn’t doing very well at punishing me.
Summer got up from the ground, shaking off the leaves that were adhered to her socks and skirt and I copied her actions.
“Are you going back to lessons?” I asked her.
“First I’ll eat something, but yes, I will. I am not going to let my problems get in the way of my studies, not that I really care about school right now.”
We made our way back to the building through the trees, and as we got closer, I could notice Summer was becoming more agitated.
“Do you want me to come with you?” I asked her.
“No, it’s okay. I have to face them on my own.”
“If you need me I’ll be in my room. Just throw some rocks and I’ll come down in a flash.”
“Thank you,” she said, giving me a smile. When we were reaching the entrance, I reached for her hand and squeezed it before parting our always.
“You are better than them,” I reminded her. With that I started to walk back to Hall B. For sure Nurse Marion would figure out that I had left to go to my room, so I didn’t need to go and tell her. Besides, I was only worried about one thing that moment; Summer.