The first thing I noticed when my body slowly started to wake up was how bright the room was. It was difficult to open my eyes, for the light that entered through the window was too bright. Still confused and groggy from sleep, I slowly opened my eyes and looked towards the single window in the room. Beams of sunlight were escaping through the sides of the curtain, giving it a certain glow that looked like the gates of heaven.
I turned to my left, away from the morning sun and looked at Summer who was peacefully sleeping next to me, my body casting a shadow on her face, keeping the awakening sun away. Her hair, which was shining due to the light, was all over the place, and I had to brush some golden strands away from her face to really look at her. She had both her hands tucked under her chin, her mouth slightly opened as she breathed very softly, her eyelashes delicately touching her soft skin. In that state of sleep, she looked way younger, her features soft and her muscles relaxed, which ultimately showed how vulnerable she was.
I found myself frowning, the images from the night before swimming in my mind. I remembered how we fell asleep, my face buried in her neck, my arm around her, pulling her closer. I also remembered what happened before, the look of doubt and uncertainty on her face as she left me, and the look of pain when she glanced back before shutting the door, leaving me in utter silence, my heart hammering painfully and tortuously in my chest.
At that time I had absolutely no idea what had happened. The only thing that she said was “I don’t want to die” which both surprised and confused me. Things were escalating quickly, and it didn’t even cross my mind she might’ve been not sure of what she was doing. After all, she was showing no signs of wanting to stop, and I certainly didn’t either.
That was the reason why I was so hurt: I only thought of myself the whole time.
When she left, I didn’t know what to do. I waited, frozen in place, completely surprised by what had happened and where it was leading. My first instinct was to follow her, to ask why on earth had she acted that way, to ask what was wrong, but something held me back. Something deep down told me to take a deep breath, try to understand why she reacted the way she did, and then, and only then, reach out to her.
That day had been so emotionally exhausting for her, and I completely forgot the complete heartbreak she went through just hours before. It was natural she just wanted to forget what happened for a little while, and maybe that could explain why she just went with it, but I knew better than anyone that trying to avoid reality with reckless behaviour was the absolute worse one could do.
When I came to the realisation that Summer’s sudden reaction was exactly like the one I had when I took her to my room, all of the pain I felt vanished as if by magic.
The resemblance between us was uncanny. Rejection was our biggest fear, and we were both facing it one way or another; I for being kept away from my mother, thinking that she didn’t want to see me, and she for always wanting to fit in, to have friends she could rely on, but only to be faced with the exact opposite.
How could I be mad at her if her motives and struggles and fears mirrored mine?
I remembered getting up, fetching some warm clothes from my suitcase and heading towards the bathroom door. I ran my fingers on the wooden door, listening to the steady rhythm of the running water, and then I did the only thing I could, wait.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t uneasy about the idea of having to face her. What would she say? What would I say? I just knew that there could only be one outcome, and fighting or putting her in a hard position wasn’t the way to go.
Seeing her so at ease and unworried when we went to sleep gave me such a huge relief that falling asleep was incredibly easy, the most peaceful night that I had had in years, only happy thoughts on my mind until the only thing I remembered was Summer’s motion of playing with my hair slowly coming to a stop, her hand falling down my neck as she too fell sleep.
But good things didn’t last long, as the thought of embarking on a boat to go to Germany invaded my mind.
All of a sudden, but most graciously, Summer exhaled deeply through her nose, clenching her closed eyelids, burying her face into her pillow.
“Good morning,” I muttered, holding my body weight with my elbow.
She mumbled something incomprehensible, then gripped the blankets and pushed them upwards, trying to cover her head.
“What are you doing?” I asked her, noting her struggle to push the blankets.
“It’s too bright...” her words were almost impossible to understand since she was speaking into her pillow with a groggy tone.
I pulled the covers just a tiny bit, allowing me to get a glimpse of her ear “Well, then that must mean it’s time to wake up.”
Summer groaned again, but this time instead of trying to keep the light away, she turned sideways and reached blindly for my torso, pulling herself to me. Although we had to get up, it was incredibly hard to fight her, especially when I felt my heart beating faster, with more strength. Holding on to that feeling and allowing it consume my entire body, I couldn’t resist in pulling her over me. With her messy morning hair all over the place, a joyful laugh escaped her lips as she landed on top of me, surely not expecting me to do so, her eyes finally opening.
“Now I can see you better!” I beamed at her, my arms holding her back securely to me. Her eyes - which were already peculiar by nature due to their grey colour - struck me when I first looked at them. They were astonishingly glassy, the few sunbeams casting light on them, making them shine even more. Maybe it was because she had just woken up and her eyes were still sensitive from sleep, but they looked so finely delicate, as if they were bright jewels.
“Your eyes...” I uttered, my eyes scanning hers “They look like- like magic.”
She stared at me, a dead serious look on her face. I furrowed my eyebrows, expecting any reaction but that. Then, out of the blue, she burst out laughing.
“What?! I’m serious!” I told her, trying to convince her but failing due to the smile on my face which I couldn’t fight against.
“That was incredibly cheesy, to say the least.” Summer laughed once again, reaching her arm to my bed stand and fetching my watch. She held it close to her face, squinted, and put it back down. “Clearly sleeping till noon makes you extra sappy.”
I would have laughed at her honest opinion if it wasn’t for the mention of what time it was.
“Noon?!” I said alarmed “We have until two o’clock to be at Tilbury Port, we need to hurry!”
“Calm down pretty boy, you are too stressed,” she said, pinching my cheek “We have more than enough time to get ready.”
“Pretty boy?” I furrowed my eyebrows at her odd choice of words, but she seemed to ignore me as she continued, getting up from my body and sitting beside me on the bed.
“And you know I am against using the money we have, but since you deserve it, I’m going to get us some breakfast while you get dressed. How does that sound?”
I lifted my upper body from the bed, leaning against the wooden frame “That is actually a very good idea.”
“Great!” She smiled widely, getting up from the bed and walking towards her suitcase which was lying open on the floor.
With my arms folded over my chest, I couldn’t help but admire her as she moved around the room. My shirt - which I cursed for being too opaque - hit her thighs midway, exposing the great majority of her legs. Her right shoulder was exposed, the collar being too large for her. She did try to pull it up, but for my luck, she failed continuously. She grabbed some item of clothing from her suitcase, and when she got up from the floor, she looked at me.
“What?” I asked, my body still covered with the bed sheets, Summer standing in the middle of the room.
“I want to get dressed.” She said as if it was obvious.
“Uh, okay, go ahead.”
She signed and crossed her arms. She lifted her eyebrows, and only then did I understand what she meant, but decided to play with her.
“I don’t mind you getting dressed here if that is what you’re implying.”
She chuckled “Go take a shower.”
“No really, I’d rather stay here.”
"Harry…” she warned me, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I know, the boundaries and all that... But technically last night you had no problem in taking great part of your clothes-”
“Okay, that’s it.” She walked towards me, dropped her clothes down on the edge of the bed and walked towards me, taking hold of my hand and dragging me out of bed.
“Okay ma’am, I’m going!” I laughed, noting her struggle to lift me. “But just know that if you ever want to not dress in private, I’m in favour.”
“Oh God Harry, just shut up!” She shook her head in embarrassment. Now that I was out of bed she was pushing my back towards the bathroom, and I couldn’t stop laughing.
I turned around, and pulling her head with my arm towards me, I kissed the top of it in a playful way. She laughed along with me, and when she noticed I wouldn’t resist anymore she kissed my cheek while on her tip toes.
“Be careful,” I told her, referring to leaving the Inn, half of my body hidden behind the door of the bathroom.
“Always.” She replied. With that, I closed the door of the bathroom. After a couple of minutes, I heard the door of the room opening and closing, indicating that Summer had left.
I took a short shower, anxious about the prospects of that day. This was the next big step of our journey, getting in a massive boat, cross the sea, and go to Germany. How many people my age did I know that had gone through the same? No one. I couldn’t lie to myself, of course I was scared, of course many things could go wrong, but I had to do this. There was no time for doubt anymore, this was it.
As I got dressed, I wondered what Hansen was up to. Was he still looking for us? Had he sent a letter to my mum? How did people back at Hudson react when he got back from his failed attempt at bringing us back to school when we were at London’s train station? What about Anna? What about that bitch Amanda? Was she being praised as a queen? Did Hansen know what that bitch did or was she walking around school feeling proud of herself?”
“I’m back!” Summer’s voice filled the room as she came inside, startling me.
“That was fast!” I told her, turned my head to her, still tying my shoes.
“Told you I’d be fast.” She said. She brought with her a small paper bag rolled at the top “I went to the first bakery I saw. I bought my most favourite pastry of all! It’s nothing special, but hope you like it too.”
I opened the small bag, the residual heat from its content warming the outside of the bag “Scones? You went to a bakery, full of sweet things, and you bought two simple, modest scones?”
She nodded her head “It’s my favourite.”
I laughed at her short answer “They always served these at Hudson at breakfast and break time.”
“Possibly the only good thing that school had was food.” Summer noted, taking a big bite of her scone.
“True. The food was pretty good.”
We ate in silence, enjoying our little treat until I remembered something.
“Do you remember that day of the snowstorm during the winter holidays? The next morning when I met you at the canteen you were devouring on of these, it was so funny.”
Summer stopped eating and looked up at me “Oh no, I thought I hid it really well!” She covered her face “You noticed!?”
“Well to be fair, I was starving too.” I replied, eating the last bit of my scone “We should go now. If the boat departs at two we should be there before.”
“I agree. Let’s make out bags and go.”
We got up and approached our suitcases. There wasn’t much to tidy, only some clothes that were lying on the floor. I thought of making a remark on that to make Summer uncomfortable yet again, but decided against it. It seemed like the nerves of the journey were starting to kick in.
“Imagine if Mr Hansen was waiting for us at the port. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. After all, I bet he knows going on a boat trip is our next step.”
“If we find him we say hello.”