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I Moved On

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 Taylor ducked into the back seat of her black Mercedes limo. She felt glassy-eyed.

 "Where to today, Miss Taylor?" asked George, her chauffeur.  George was tall and chocolate-haired, and, although he never spoke about his age, Taylor suspected he had to be in his mid-thirties. 

 Tay stifled a yawn.  "The usual," she said heavily, her voice taking on a vaguely sad tone.  "Joe's place."  George nodded at her in the rearview mirror. 

 "Don't mind me, George," she added, "I'm going to listen to music."

 "That's fine, Miss," George replied.  

 As George backed out of the garage and into the street of Beverly Hills homes on which her beautiful estate stood, Taylor fished through her purse for her Air Pods.  Naturally, they were in the same pocket of her favorite Hermes bag as they always were.  Routine, routine, routine.  

 Damn it. 

 Stuffing the Pods into her ears, she turned on her phone.  The picture of her and Joe glared at her from the lock screen.  She had looked so happy in that picture. 

 Why wasn't she happy now?

 Taylor scrolled through her Spotify music, tired of everything she usually listened to.  She was sick of every song she used to love. 

 Here are some stations we think you'll like, blinged Spotify.  A long list of various artists' stations ran across the screen.  

 What the hell, thought Taylor with a shrug.  She ran through the stations, disgusted as she realized they were all the same singers she normally listened to.  Suddenly, she froze, eyes glued to the picture of one them.  

 HARRY STYLES.  Her blue eyes lingered on his photo. He stood with his back, rippling with muscle, to the camera, damp hair framing his lusty-gazed face.  A green light shone on the slick, bare skin of his shoulder as his dark eyes burned.  He looked just as she remembered.  His soft mouth was slashed by the razor-sharp jaw, lips parted, jaw slack.  It was the same face he used to make when she loved him in the bedroom until the world spun and everything was made of their pleasure.  

 She couldn't help it.  Her perfectly manicured finger tapped on his station. 

 It's not like he means anything to me, Taylor thought to herself.  It's been practically a whole decade since we've seen each other.  The beginning notes of Sweet Creature played, and Taylor stiffened involuntarily.  She had always suspected that Harry had written this song for that stupid, stuck-up Kendall Jenner.  Tay didn't know what he had seen in a Kardashian of all people.  But Taylor forced herself to relax, to pretend that Harry had written this song for her.  

 I don't care about him anymore, she chanted in her head.  And then it soaked into her ears-- the sound of Harry's sweet, rich voice drawing out the notes.  Memories flashed through her mind-- vivid images of him singing love songs to her softly as she lay in his strong arms.  Pictures of his fingers scraping down her bare back.  Flashes of legs tangled up in sheets as the room filled with their heavy moans.  

 Taylor ripped the Air Pods from her ears.  Hands shaking, she pressed Selena Gomez's station instead. Tay stuck the Pods in again, taking a deep breath.  

 "This is ridiculous," she muttered, sweeping her sleek, blond hair over one shoulder.  "I should be over that bastard."

 She gazed out the window as Beverly Hills flashed by. Taylor wasn't paying attention to the music.  She only watched absentmindedly while green grass and blue sky blurred with streets and stately homes.  As a familiar chorus played, she was suddenly brought back to the present.  

 You got that James Dean, daydream look in your eye, and I got that red lip, classic, thing that you like...

 "No, no, no," mumbled Taylor. "Not this song. Not now!"  She scrambled for her phone. "Where the hell could it be?"  

 George's brown eyes flicked to her from the rear view mirror.  

 "You alright back there, Miss Taylor?" he asked, settling his gaze on the upcoming stoplight.  

...We never go out of Style, we never go out of Style...

"Yeah," Taylor stammered, sweeping her flaxen locks from her eyes.  "I just can't find my phone." 

 As she patted her dress, the seat, and even the floor, feeling for her phone, she squeezed her eyes shut, dreading the line she knew was coming and what it would do to her.  

...You got that long hair slicked back, white T-shirt, and I got that good girl thing and a tight little skirt...

Soft, brown locks of hair wafting across her face as he moved on top of her, sweaty and breathless.  Her ripping that filmy, white shirt off his muscled chest.  His hands slipping up that black, hip-hugging skirt she wore.  

 Cerulean eyes filled with tears Tay thought she had finished crying eight years ago.  Her fingers swept between the seat and the door, finally grasping purchase on the cold metal of her phone. She halted the music and spent the rest of the drive in silence.

 

***

 

 George pulled up in front of Joe's tall, lovely mansion.  

 "Here we are, Miss Taylor,"  he announced.  Taylor slung her Hermes bag over her shoulder.  

 "I know," she smiled absently.  "Thanks, George.  You can pick me up at noon," she added over her shoulder as she left the car.  George nodded.  

 As Taylor headed towards the front door, George couldn't help but worry about her and her uncharacteristic lack of energy.  

 Joe flung open the door, a huge grin on his face.  

 "Hey, love," he murmured, burying his face in her hair.  To her horror, Taylor realized that Joe's accent was taking her back to the Harry days of 2012.  

"Hi, darling," she said, plastering a smile on her face.  Hopefully Joe wouldn't notice something was up.  

 These past few weeks with Joe had been tiring.  The sex was good, but it was always the same.  He never seemed to hit her g-spot, and Joe always wanted to do it in his bed.  There was no adventure.  Nothing new.  Tay couldn't help but remember the fun she had had with Harry.  

 Despite the lack of excitement, Tay had to admit her boyfriend was both good-looking and a good person.  His face was beautiful, but so was his heart.  Sure, he might be a bit tame for Tay's preferences, but she endured.  Joe loved her, which was more than she could say for... No, she wasn't thinking about him anymore.  There was no need to relive something that had gone so terribly wrong.  Even though Taylor had wanted to forgive Harry, she just couldn't.  His crimes were too severe.  Joe, on the other hand, had always been perfect. 

 "What do you want to do today?"  Joe asked politely, even though he already knew what Taylor had in mind.  She was a very... sexual creature. 

 Desperate to soothe the ache in her heart and in her body, Taylor shoved him back, entering the house.  She slammed the door shut behind her.  Her fingers found his starched collar, and yanked him up against her body as she pressed her back against the wall.  Joe let out a lusty breath, his pupils dilating severely.  Taylor laughed breathily.  Her tongue flickered out to run along his lower lip.  Joe let out a soft moan.  

 "You wicked creature," he whispered, breathless.  Taylor flashed him a sly smile, and then pressed her lips against his.  

 "Fuck me here.  Against the wall," she begged in a heavy whisper, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist.  Joe flushed.  

 "I don't know, Taylor," he said, the British accent laced with reluctance, "I don't really feeling comfortable doing it here."

 Tay deflated ever so slightly.  "Okay," she acquiesced.  Joe swept her off her feet and carried her off to his bedroom as Taylor hid her face in his shoulder, trying to hide her disappointed expression.  Bed sex was better than no sex, she supposed. 

 

***

 

 "Joe, wake up," Taylor whispered.  She lay on the soft mattress of his king-sized bed, the blood red sheets pulled up around her collarbone.  Joe was splayed across her chest, his face buried in her covered breasts.  Taylor ran her fingers through his fine, blond hair, which stuck to the sweat still on his neck from their... exertions.  He groaned, and the sound sent another wave of heat blazing through Taylor's lower abdomen.  

 "Why?" he whined, nuzzling his face deeper in her cleavage.  Taylor couldn't help but smile. 

 This dork.

 "Because it's twelve in the afternoon already, you silly goose,"  Taylor breathed, rolling on top of him.  "I've gotta go.  George'll be here any minute!"  

 Joe moaned.  "Fuck George," he mumbled.  

 "So-o-orry," Taylor sang playfully, leaping out of bed.  Her breasts bounced cheerfully as she ran around the room, collecting her clothes, which lay scattered all over the place.  Joe watched the motion of her chest in interest.  

 "Don't forget your panties,"  he mentioned, gesturing towards the foot of the bed.  He grinned as Taylor unknowingly gave him an excellent view of her ass when she bent over to pick up the red, lacy garments.  Tay inspected the underwear, an expression of disapproval evident on her face.  She tsk-ed.  

 "You ripped my panties to shreds," she sighed.  Joe grinned broadly.

 "Then I suppose it's a good thing you have your own drawer then, isn't it?" he replied, without any trace of remorse.  Taylor rolled her eyes, opening the bottom drawer of Joe's tall dresser and extricating another pair of delicate underwear. 

 "I guess so," she said sardonically.  Taylor threw her clothes on just as Joe's phone dinged, notifying him that there was movement at his front door.

 "That would be George,"  Taylor said brightly, running to the side of Joe's bed.  She pecked him lightly on the lips.  

 "Mm, bye,"  Joe said through the kiss.  Taylor smiled against his mouth.  

 "Bye," she echoed.  As a parting gift to her own eyes, she yanked down the red sheets for a full glimpse of his bare body.  Then, giggling wickedly, she ran out of the room with her bag as Joe shouted after her playfully from the bed.  

 Taylor jogged down the sloping driveway to where George waited for her in the limo.  She smiled at him, wiggling into the backseat.  

 "You seem to be in a better mood now, Miss Taylor,"  George noted, backing out onto the wide street.  Taylor grinned.  

 "I think I am.  I was in a weird funk this morning, wasn't I, George?"  Taylor said.  George smiled wanly, knowing that he couldn't honestly answer that question without relatively substantial risk to his occupational position.  

 Taylor turned up the volume on her Air Pods as she set them in her ears and decided to give the Selena Gomez station another chance.  She gazed out the window as Lose You to Love Me played.  It seemed like a sad song, but Taylor was decidedly sure that this was the perfect song for what she had been feeling earlier this morning.  

 George drove slowly down the shaded road of Taylor's street.  As he pulled up to the driveway of her estate, Tay caught sight of the red SOLD sign on her next-door-neighbor and close friend Emma Stone's front lawn.  

 "Did Emma finally sell her house?" Taylor murmured, mostly to herself.  Em had had the FOR SALE sign up for at least two weeks. 

 "Looks like it, doesn't it, Miss?"  George said.  "Would you like me to let you out on the sidewalk?"  

 "Sure," Taylor said, peering out the window.  She pushed open the door of the black Benz and straightened on the sidewalk.  Emma stood, hands on her hips, in the walk up to her front door, talking with the man who had evidently bought the mansion.  When Em's eyes landed on Taylor, she waved erratically.  

 "Hey, Taylor!"  she called.  "Come on up!"  

  "Hey, Em!" she shouted back.  Curious, Taylor approached, her hand resting on the strap of her bag.  "Hi," she called to the man, who was just turning around.  "I guess we're neighbors now!"  As she came close enough to see that he looked vaguely familiar, the man spoke.  An English accent assailed Taylor's ears.  

 "Holy shit, is that you, Taylor?" he exclaimed in surprise.  Taylor froze, confused.  Did she know this guy?  She walked closer, her hand extended in a handshake.  

 "Have we met before?" she wondered aloud.  The man raised the sunglasses that had rested on his fair nose.  Strikingly familiar, jade green eyes gazed at her.  

 "Yes," Harry grinned.  "Yes, we have."

Chapter Text

 Harry couldn't help the grin that found its way onto his face.  No way.  There was no fucking way.  

 What were the chances that he had bought a house next to his favorite ex?  His green eyes couldn't help but linger on the red of her lips as her mouth hung tantalizingly open in shock.  She looked more beautiful than he remembered.  

 "Cat got your tongue, love?"  Harry smiled gently.  Taylor's blue eyes suddenly turned cold-- frigid as ice.  Harry could practically hear her thoughts. 

 Don't call me love.  

 "It's nice to see you again, Mister Styles," she said with a fake smile, her tone vaguely stiff.  He very much noticed when she discreetly withdrew her hand from the offer of a handshake, pretending to brush a fluff of lint from her orange skirt.  Harry hid a smile behind one hand as he saw her blouse-- it was cream with the ink face of a cartoon kitten wearing pumpkin-coloured spectacles on the front.  She was just in love with cats as she had always been.  Harry couldn't help but wonder if her own kitten was just as luscious as it had been that night in her hotel when an eighteen-year-old Harry had tasted her for the first ti--

Focus, Harry, he scolded himself.  Now is not the time to be fantasizing about girls you left in the past.  He cleared his throat. 

 "Yeah, you too," he managed.  He couldn't help but stare after her as she muttered a goodbye, paused to raise her eyebrows at Emma Stone, and then sashayed away, her hips swaying like a devil's temptation.  

 Harry felt like slapping himself for hoping to see a whole lot more of Taylor in the nearby future.  

 

***

 

 Taylor slumped, stomach down, on the golden coverlet of her four poster bed.  

 What the fuck!  She buried her face in a pillow, not caring if she left a slash of red lipstick on the ivory and gold pillow case.  An involuntary scream of frustration strained her vocal chords as she wailed into it, the sound only barely muffled by the soft plush.  

 Of course this had happened!  Of course it had.  On the day she had suddenly felt her faith in Joe shaking, the ultimate Pandora's box was presented to her on a silver platter with an elegant flourish.

 His fucking smile!  Tay fumed.  It was just as beatific as it had always been.  And those green eyes had made her stomach flutter and those stupid butterflies whirl as soon as he had turned them on her.  

 Taylor sat up abruptly, determination plastered on her porcelain face.  Harry Styles would not be able to break her.  She would be strong, just like she had been on that nightmarish Caribbean trip that ended them eight years ago.  She had left him alone in that hotel room, high and dry, and he woke up in the morning by himself.  

 How did he say it again?  Taylor flounced to her speaker, connecting it to her cell phone.  

 "Where is it, where is it?" she muttered, scrolling through Harry's listed songs.  She smirked.  "Here we are."  Tay touched the play button and cranked up the volume.  Let her eardrums burst-- today, she was remembering her strength!  She was recalling how powerful she had been to leave him so hurt after he had burned her from the inside out.  The strings of a guitar were plucked gently, their sad tones ushering in the first verse of From the Dining Table.  

 Woke up alone in this hotel room.  Played with myself, where were you?  Fell back to sleep, I got drunk by noon... I’ve never felt less cool. 

 "I LEFT YOU BEHIND FOR SOMEONE WHO WOULD TREAT ME RIGHT!"  Taylor screamed gleefully.  

 We haven’t spoke since you went away... Comfortable silence is so overrated. Why won’t you ever be the first one to break? Even my phone misses your call, by the way.

 "I NEVER BREAK!"  Taylor yelled, spinning wildly.  "FOR WEEKS I HAD TO FIGHT THE URGE TO FORGIVE YOU!  I NEARLY CALLED YOU A THOUSAND TIMES!"  The breaths were coming faster now as the words Taylor never got to say suddenly spilled out.  As Harry's song revealed everything she had done to him, she screamed all the thoughts that had plagued her.  Only now was she realizing that she had only temporarily buried her feelings underneath everything else.  The realness was hidden in the back of her mind, stewing until it went rancid.  Now was the time to release. 

 "EVEN THOUGH WE WERE TOGETHER FOR ONLY A FEW MONTHS, YOU WERE A PART OF ME!  BUT I HAD TO TELL MYSELF I WAS BETTER WITHOUT YOU," she sobbed.  Why was she sobbing?  She didn't love him anymore.  She didn't love him anymore! 

 "I NEVER FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH YOU, DAMN IT!  YOU FUCKING BASTARD," she wailed, "I NEVER STOPPED."  Crumpling helplessly to the floor, Taylor screamed at herself for still loving the man who had hurt her.  Her fists pounded the floor desperately, needing to injure something to ease the pain she felt inside of her.  She lay like that on the plush carpet of her bedroom floor.  The unwanted tears cooled her hot, red face as a breeze kissed them away. 

 Breeze?  What the fuck?  Taylor looked up, the mascara streaming down her cheeks.  The silky, cream drapes wafted gently as a soft wind danced its way through the open balcony door. 

 Oh shit.  Shit, shit, shit.  Tay sprung to her feet in a panic, racing to the double glass-paned doors.  Her black shoes stepped out into the sunshine on the balcony.  She peeked her blond head out of the doors, glancing about clandestinely.  The fast thump of her heart echoed her footsteps as she retreated into her bedroom.  Relief flooded all through her.  She had seen no one.  Nobody had been around to hear her secrets spilled out on the metaphorical floor.  One pale hand pulled the doors closed as blue eyes lingered on something she had overlooked. 

 The wood trapped creamy-white silk curtains in the seam where the doors closed.  Tay didn't even notice.  Nor did she care.  For there, through the glass window, past the tall, majestic, green cyprus trees enclosing her front yard, stood a man in Emma Stone's former property.  His blue-tinted sunglasses hid the expression on his face, but Taylor knew he had heard.  His wild hair waved erratically around his face, too short to be called long, but too long to be considered short.  The light pink, button down shirt was tucked into his jeans derisively, as if his style revolved around degrading formal shirts.  Hands in pockets, mouth closed in thought, Harry Styles himself gazed up at Taylor through her balcony doors, quietly contemplating every word Taylor had just screamed for him.  

Chapter Text

 Emma cornered Harry in the hallway just before she left her former house-- permanently.  

 "Listen," she said seriously, "I remember how heartbroken Taylor was when she left you.  If she hadn't been over you for going on eight years now, I wouldn't have sold you the house.  I would never betray my friend like that."

 Harry raised his eyebrows slightly, baffled at what Emma was implying.  "Where are you going with this, darling?"  

 Emma huffed.  "Okay, first of all, I've been telling you for over half a decade to quit calling me 'darling'.  And second, I mean that you should stay away from Taylor." 

 Harry's brows shot up to his hairline.  "I'm not sure what you mean by 'stay away from Taylor', but I'm rather sure that won't be the most simple of tasks considering our neighborly proximity,"  he said with a rakish grin.  Em rolled her eyes. 

 "Harry Styles, professional quipster,"  she muttered sarcastically.  "Just let her be, Har, alright?  I don't want you and your unnecessary flirting to bother her.  'Cause then Taylor'd blame me for selling the house to you when I know just how much she hates your guts." 

 "She didn't seem to hate my other parts in 2011,"  Harry grumbled under his breath.  Em narrowed her eyes.  

 "What was that?" 

 "It was nothing." 

 "Was that a sex quip?"

 "It was nothing!" 

 Emma sighed in exasperation as she picked up her purse and headed for the door, shaking her head all the while.  "I'll see you around, Harry.  Enjoy the house,"  she said, waving over her shoulder as she stalked out the front door.  Harry followed her into the walk.  

 "I make no promises!"  he yelled just before Emma ducked into her Maserati.  He could clearly see her eyeroll even from the front steps.  He lowered his blue Gucci sunglasses onto his nose as she sped off down the street, taking her warnings with her.  Harry stood on the top step, absentmindedly scuffing the corner of the stair with his shoe.  

 "Harry Styles, professional quipster," he murmured.  "I think I like that."  He turned, hands buried in his pockets, towards the open door of his new mansion when the melancholy voice of a sad guitar floated across the lawn, jerking him to a stop.  That was his song.  

 Where the hell was it coming from?  Harry strode across the yard, listening for the source of the music.  As he approached the cyprus trees between his and Taylor's yards, the sound of the vibrating strings grew louder.  

 Woke up alone in this hotel room.  Played with myself, where were you?  Fell back to sleep, I got drunk by noon... I’ve never felt less cool.

 Oh, shit, he thought.  Why was Taylor listening to this?  

  Her gleeful shout leaked from the open balcony doors of her bedroom.  "I LEFT YOU BEHIND FOR SOMEONE WHO WOULD TREAT ME RIGHT!" 

 What the fuck?  Who?  Who could possibly treat her better than he had?  That fucking prude, Joe Alwyn?  Sure, Harry had made some mistakes, but at least he had apologized.  He didn't walk out of a hotel after hot sex while Taylor was still asleep, leaving her to be hurt and confused in the morning when she awoke without him.  

 We haven’t spoke since you went away... Comfortable silence is so overrated. Why won’t you ever be the first one to break? Even my phone misses your call, by the way.

 "I NEVER BREAK!"  screamed Taylor.  Harry could see her through the glass panes, spinning in euphoric hysteria.  "FOR WEEKS I HAD TO FIGHT THE URGE TO FORGIVE YOU!  I NEARLY CALLED YOU A THOUSAND TIMES!"  Harry felt his mouth quiver of its own accord.  He remembered that feeling.  Watching the phone, hands around his knees, wondering whether she would call, wondering whether she wanted him to call her first.  "EVEN THOUGH WE WERE TOGETHER FOR ONLY A FEW MONTHS, YOU WERE A PART OF ME!  BUT I HAD TO TELL MYSELF I WAS BETTER WITHOUT YOU," she sobbed.  Why was she sobbing?  She didn't love him anymore.  Emma had said it.  Taylor had said it.  The whole damn whole had said it.    

 "I NEVER FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH YOU, DAMN IT!  YOU FUCKING BASTARD," she wailed, "I NEVER STOPPED."  Harry's heart froze.  Never stopped?  Never stopped loving him?  Harry?  Taylor meant Harry Styles, right?  Him, Harry Edward Styles.  Was this the same Taylor Swift who had penned a whole angry album about him?  What of those lyrics on how she 'knew he was trouble when he walked in', and how 'he'd never loved anyone?' 

 Confused and somewhat hurt, Harry gazed up at Taylor as she crumpled on the floor in a heap.  He couldn't seem to tear his eyes away.  Thoughts all seemed to collide, contradict, and combust as they whirled around in his mind.  All he could do now was watch.  Couldn't move.  Couldn't speak.  Couldn't feel anything but the gush of emotion Harry thought he had dropped in the dust years ago.  He could only watch as Taylor leapt to her feet like a startled cat, pouncing on the door.  His eyes were glued to the vibrant blue of her red-rimmed orbs that he could see even from this distance.  Black streaks of what had to be mascara chalked heavy lines down her face as she peered left and right, searching for eavesdroppers.  She slammed the door, but the gauzy white drapes couldn't hide her from Harry.  He continued to stare, conflicted, even as she realized his presence.  Couldn't move.  Couldn't hide.  Only watched as Taylor gazed, horrified and panic-stricken, on his expressionless face.  And then she ran.  

 Harry suddenly snapped out of his reverie.  "Shit."  Forgetting Emma's warning to keep away from Taylor, Harry jumped between the cyprus trees into her front yard.  He ran up the stone walk of her estate and stopped short in front of the wide, mahogany door.  Lump in his throat, Harry reached for the bell.  His finger pressed several times, and three loud chimes filtered through the door.  

 "Open, open, open,"  he whispered frantically.  His fist pounded on the dark wood.  

 "Go away!"  Taylor shouted from the other side of the door.  Harry could hear the frightened tears in her voice.  

 "Taylor,"  Harry begged,  "just let me in.  Let me talk to you."  

 "Go the fuck away!"  

 Harry banged his shoulder into the door in frustrated desperation, slumping against the cold, polished surface of it in a show of helplessness.  "Damn it, Tay!"  he groaned.  "I need to talk to you."  There was a hefty pause.  WhenTaylor finally replied, he could practically feel the hesitation in her voice.  "Just to talk?"  

 "Yes, I swear."  

 "Okay, but if you try to make a move, I promise I will take a stiletto to your dick."  

 Despite the serious situation, Harry couldn't help but grin a tiny smile at her threat.  "Noted,"  he said.  The door swung open before he had time to stand or even take his weight off the cold mahogany.  

 "Shit!"  he exclaimed in surprise, toppling backwards onto the hard marble of Taylor's hallway.  Narrowly avoiding knocking his head on the gleaming white floor, Harry fell before Taylor's feet.  She stared down at him, arms crossed, her face completely devoid of any emotion.  

 "Hey,"  he managed by way of greeting, scrambling to his feet.  Taylor said nothing.  Harry scratched his dark locks sheepishly.  "So, uh, I don't see any stilettos..."  Tay simply gestured at a rack of shoes against the hallway wall behind her.  He craned his neck around her, catching a glimpse of at least twenty different pairs of heels.  He inhaled through his teeth nervously.  One dark blue pair had fucking spikes on it.  Holy shit.  

 "You wanted to talk--"  Taylor prompted.  

 "Oh, shit, yeah,"  stuttered Harry as she wiped at the fading black marks under her eyes.  "I just wanted to say that I totally understand how you feel--" 

 "I moved on,"  Taylor interrupted brusquely.  "I moved on a long time ago.  What you heard was just me letting out some feelings that I closeted up too long."  

 Harry jolted in surprise.  It certainly hadn't sounded that way.  

 "Okay,"  he said slowly, "so have I."  

 Taylor sniffed.  "Obviously."  Her blue eyes ran him up and down in a perfect picture of disdain.  Harry would've flinched, hurt, if he hadn't noticed Taylor's cold gaze pausing to linger on the hard muscles of his chest and arms, straining at the crisp, pink shirt.  He inhaled, somewhat restored.  Harry had forgotten-- he was more muscular than he had been at eighteen, when Taylor had last spoken to him.  

 "Great, so we're at an understanding,"  he replied.  Taylor nodded.  "So," he continued, "since we're both so completely over each other, and there is absolutely no feelings of either hurt or love, can we go back to being friends?"  

 Taylor paused, her pale brow furrowed.  "Friends?"  she echoed.  Harry nodded.  Tay swallowed nervously.  If she said no, she'd be implying that she still felt something for him.  If she said yes, she wouldn't have an excuse to avoid him.  She decided to go with the latter.  "Fine."  

 Harry extended him palm, claiming the handshake that Taylor had denied him on his own lawn.  She reluctantly placed her hand in his.  

 Her fingers were cold, like they had been when she'd run them down his stomach in her hotel room so many years ago.  

 "I'll see you later then, I suppose,"  Harry said, extricating his hand from her gentle grip. "Neighbor."  

Chapter Text

 Four months passed slowly, painfully.  Taylor saw more and more of her neighbor, Styles, each week-- to her disgruntled disgust.  He seemed to be perfectly happy with their friendly arrangement, which only aggravated Taylor more.  

 "Why is he always so glad to see me?"  whined Taylor.  She was slumped on the couch of Joe's mansion, complaining into his shoulder.  Joe patted her blond head consolingly.  

 "It's because you're friends,"  Joe replied innocently.  Taylor slowly raised her head to glare at her boyfriend.  Joe narrowed his eyes in mock suspicion.  "You are only friends, right?"  

 Taylor scoffed.  "Please.  I didn't even wanna agree to be his friend."  

 "I think you're taking this too seriously, love,"  Joe murmured into her hair.  "You broke up with that bloke eight years ago.  He's moved on and matured.  That's probably why he wants to be friends now." 

 "I don't want him to want to be friends," groaned Taylor.  

 Joe pulled back to look at her somberly.  "It's better than having a feud.  Do you really want to have another Katy Perry phase?"  

 Tay choked.  "Oh hell, no.  I totally misjudged Katy.  She's amazing.  Harry is not amazing."  

 Joe lifted an eyebrow.  "Was he amazing in bed, at least?"  

 "W-what?"  spluttered Taylor.  Her boyfriend laughed.  "What are you talking about?"  Taylor demanded as Joe rolled his blue eyes.  

 "Oh, please, darling.  The whole world knows you had sex with Harry Styles back in 2012."  

 Taylor hesitated.  "Yeah, he was pretty good,"  she admitted sheepishly.  Joe rumbled a low laugh as her cheeks flushed in an embarrassed blush.  He pulled her in to his chest, kissing the top of her head adoringly.  "But that doesn't mean he was an amazing person, much less a good boyfriend!"  she added hotly. 

 "He might be now though,"  Joe interjected.  When Taylor snorted, he placed a single finger under her chin and lifted her gaze to his endearingly understanding face.  "Give him a chance, love.  Maybe Harry will be your next Katy Perry,"  he murmured.  

 "Do you have any idea how cheesy that sounded?"  

 "Would it be better to compare him to Ed Sheeran?"  

 "Ed is a thousand times better than Harry!"  

 

***

 

 Taylor sat on the edge of the couch as she watched Cats on the Samsung 110 inch TV in her private theatre.  

 "God, I look great as a cat," she mentioned to Doctor Meredith Grey, who glanced up disinterestedly.  "I think I was a cat in another life,"  Taylor continued, oblivious to the way Meredith lay her fluffy grey-streaked head on her paws and tuned out Taylor's enthusiasm as she went back to her nap.  "I mean, look!  My fur is so perfectly orange, it should be illegal!"  As Benjamin Button scampered by, Tay scooped him into her arms and cuddled his furry face to her cheek.  "Doesn't Mommy look good as a cat?"  she cooed.  Ben mewled uncomfortably.  

 Ding dong... 

 Taylor sat up straighter.  "What the hell?"  she wondered aloud.  "Who's ringing my doorbell at eleven o'clock at night?"  Her hesitation was brief.  Deciding to ignore it, she snuggled deeper into the cushions.  "Whatever."  

 Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong! 

 "What the actual fuck?"  she huffed.  The door replied with another chime.  "Alright, I'm coming!"  she yelled.  Under her breath she added, "Asshole."  Benjamin Button followed close at her heels, curiosity aroused, as Taylor stomped into the dim hallway.  Her hand flung open the door and she stood in the threshold, arms akimbo.  

 Her neighbor stood in the glow of the porch light, sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck.  

 "Oh,"  Tay said, hiding her distaste with a neighborly smile.  "Hi."  

 "Hey,"  Harry said, his eyes looking everywhere but at her.  "Um, I have a really funny story..."

 Oh, goodness.  

 "So, apparently, my loo's broken."

 "What do you mean your bathroom's broken?"  Taylor asked suspiciously.  

 "I mean the plumbing is completely confuckulated."

 "Confucku-- what?"  

 "Confuckulated.  Arsed up.  Knackered."  

 "You're not helping, Harry."  

 Harry sighed a martyr's sigh.  "My plumbing is busted."  

 "Why didn't you just say that?" 

 "I did!"  

 Taylor scoffed.  "Okay, Styles.  So why do I need to know about your bathroom being confucku-whatnot?" 

 Harry hesitated.  When he replied, it was in a tone of embarrassed reluctance.  "Because I really, really need to take a bath."  

 Taylor sighed and opened the door a bit wider.  "Come on in." 

 Harry muttered his thanks as he stepped into the house.  "How can I repay you?"  he said absentmindedly as she led him to the upstairs guest bathroom.  Taylor glanced at him appraisingly, attempting to squash the strange sensation spreading through her body.  

 Harry Styles is in my house and I am leading him to the bathroom and he just asked a question that could be interpreted as sexually-covert and this is completely normal and I am definitely not remembering the insane sex we had when we were kids.  Nope, no bedroom tension here.

 "You can keep in mind that I might use this as blackmail someday when I want something from you,"  she said, struggling to keep from revealing either the extreme distaste or the lust she felt.  

 Shit, that was sexually-covert, too.  Taylor willed herself not to glance at his face.  She didn't want to know if he was thinking the same thing she was. 

 The door of the guest bath was pushed open and Harry stepped inside, gazing around in awe at the golden-hued splendor of the washroom.  He whistled under his breath.  "Damn, Tay,"  he said.  Harry didn't notice Taylor's flinch as he threw out the nickname that only her best friends used.  

 "Towels are hanging on the rack.  There are several brands of shampoo and things in the cabinet on the end,"  said Taylor briskly, pointing as she spoke.  She began to shut the door, but Harry's hand grabbed the edge.  

 "Thank you,"  he said quietly.  His face was mere inches from her own.  A flood of familiar emotions crashed through her.  As Harry's sweet breath fanned her cheeks, she squeezed her eyes shut.  

 "You're welcome."  

 It was an exhausted relief to close the door and leave him to his bath.  Taylor's back fell against the wall and she slid to the carpet, struggling to slow her breathing.  As Harry started the shower, Olivia Benson glided past.  The white cat sat back on her haunches and stared silently at her.  Tay stared back.  

 "That was taxing,"  she whispered.  Olivia meowed in reply.  Taylor wasn't sure how long she sat in the hallway, too conflicted to move.  It might have been fifteen minutes or forty-five.  Either way, she was there to hear the wet banging on glass coming from inside the bathroom a while later.  

 "What the hell-- is he masturbating?"  Taylor muttered under her breath.  She pressed her ear to the door and realized that the shower water had been turned off.  The wet banging stopped for a few seconds before starting up again.  

 "Taylor!"  Harry yelled.  His voice sounded muffled.  "Taylor, help!"  

 The fuck?  

 Taylor pressed her lips to the white wood.  "What's going on in there, Styles?"  

 "Your shower door won't open!"  

 Taylor blinked.  "The hell do you mean the shower won't open?"  She pressed her ear against the door, waiting for his reply.  

 "I mean I'm stuck in the fucking shower!"  

 Taylor couldn't stop the giggle that spewed from her mouth.  "Just open the damn door, Harry!"  

 "It won't open!  I don't want to break the glass!"  

 She turned to Olivia, who was watching in silent interest.  Oh my God, Taylor mouthed at her.  The white cat's eyelids lowered over her big, ice-blue eyes in exasperation.  

 "Well, what do you expect me to do, Styles?"  Taylor laughed.  

 "I expect you to let me out, damn it!"  

 There was a lengthy pause as Taylor sat frozen.  Let him out?  But that would mean... 

 Best not to overthink it.  "Alright, fine,"  she called through the door.  "But I need to find a coin first so I can unlock the door." 

 "Just hurry up!"  

 Taylor ran for her bedroom, slamming the door open as she headed to her closet.  Mumbling to herself, she skimmed the shelves of purses for the one she had just worn to Joe's earlier today.  Her wallet should be inside it.  Fingers grabbed for the Louis Vuitton piece and dug around in the bag.  

 "Found one," she said to no one in particular.  Running back to the bathroom, Tay slipped the coin into the slot and turned the lock.  With a click, she opened the door, her eyes screwed shut.  "I'm coming in, Styles," she said.

 She kept her eyes tightly closed while she felt her way across the bathroom.  

 Harry's voice, muffled through the shower glass, undulated in a simple tone that spoke volumes.  "What the fuck are you doing, Swift?"  

 "I'm trying to find the shower,"  said Taylor sharply, "what does it look like I'm doing?"  

 "It looks like you're wandering about like a blind zombie, love," Harry replied just as pointedly.  "Meanwhile, I am freezing my arse off in your bollocks bath."

 Taylor cursed under her breath and cracked her eyes open.  She strode to the shower stall, nearly running into it.  

 "Darling,"  Harry sighed, pinching his nose between two fingers,  "what are you doing now?"  

 "I don't want to see you naked,"  Taylor said shortly.  "I only cracked my eyes open enough to see where I was going."  

 "Come again?" 

 "I said--" 

 "I know what you said!  I want to know why it matters so damn much!  You've seen me naked, I've seen you naked-- we're even.  Now hurry up and let me out!" 

 "Oh, my God, calm down!" 

 "I'm cold!"  

 Taylor grabbed the metal edge of the glass door, yanking on the handle.  The magnets holding the door closed came undone with a loud pop and Harry, shivering and cussing profusely, stumbled out.  His arms were wrapped around himself, and those large hands of his scrubbed the corded muscles of his arms in an attempt to warm them.  Which meant... 

 Taylor was adamantly not looking down past his waist.  She handed him a towel and he drew it around his shoulders with a snap.  As he hurriedly threw on his clothes, his back to Tay, she couldn't help but admire his body.  Harry had gotten a bit more muscular since she had seen him shirtless last.  Those hot tattoos decorated his ripped back.  The picture on Spotify hadn't done him justice at all.  

 Harry turned around without warning as he tugged his T-shirt over those beautiful abs.  

 "What was that, love?"  he asked.  Taylor blinked.  

 "I didn't say anything." 

 "Yes, you did,"  Harry insisted.  "You muttered 'holy shit' and then something else I didn't catch." 

 Taylor flushed dark red and started to mumble incoherently as she backed out of the bathroom.  Harry's eyes darkened as his gaze flickered over her shaking fingers, her heaving breasts, the bottom lip that was delicately trapped between her teeth.  

 "Oh, no, you don't, love,"  he growled, striding closer.  His rock-hard chest pressed up against her, making her heart flutter wildly.  Taylor felt her ass hit the marble counter.  "I see that look in your eyes,"  Harry whispered in her ear.  Those hands came in contact with the small of her back, slowly traveling up the sides of her stomach.  

 "What look?"  Taylor tried to say it nonchalantly, but the hitch in her voice gave her away.  

 "The look you always have when you're trying not to kiss me." 

 He leaned in.  

Chapter Text

 What was he doing?  Harry couldn't stop himself from leaning forward to kiss her.  God, he was such an idiot.  Did he actually think that Taylor wanted him?  Based off of what-- heavy breathing and a lip bite?  A facial cue he thought he recognized from when he was eighteen?  Wake up, Harry.  He stopped with his mouth inches from hers.  He wanted that mouth for himself-- plush and pink.  But she didn't want him anymore.  Read the signs, Styles.  Taylor already explained that she didn't want to see you naked.  Heavy breathing, lip bites, dark eyes-- she was obviously fighting the curiosity to look at him.  What a virtuous girl she was for keeping herself in check for her own sake.  For Joe's sake.  Harry fucking hated her damn virtuousness.  

 But Taylor would never forgive him for forcing himself upon her.  Hell, even Harry wouldn't forgive himself.  

 He stood still as a statue, hyper aware of the way her mouth hung open by just a single centimeter, of the way her breasts brushed against his chest with every breath they took, of the unreadable blue of her eyes as they stared at each other.  His arms sat on her waist, his face too close to hers.  How could he move out of this awkward situation without seeming like a complete tosser?  Harry's breath hitched as Taylor licked her lips anxiously and leaned forward until her mouth brushed his ear.  In a whisper that was so quiet it was more of a tiny breath, she began to sing.  

 "Put your lips close to mine.  As long as they don't touch..."

 He recognized this song.  It was one of the songs she had written back in winter 2012.  She was singing Treacherous.

 "Out of focus, eye to eye.  'Til the gravity's too much.  And I'll do anything you say.  If you say it with your hands..."

 Harry felt like he couldn't breath.  Her breasts pressed against him, warm and soft, and her lyrics gently caressed his ear. 

 "And I'd be smart to walk away.  But you're quicksand."  

 The two of them stood silently, Taylor trapped between him and the counter, her mouth brushing his warm skin.  Her cool hands rested on his wrists, carefully dragging his fingers up to her chest.  She retreated until their mouths were a hair apart.

 "I can't stop thinking about you," she whispered.  "Maybe if we just get it over with, we can finally move on."  

 What?  

 This was not what he had been thinking.  Was this all he was to her?  A worthless way to get off?  This was humiliating!  There was no way he would stand for this--

 "Kiss me, Harry."

 On second thought, this wasn't so bad.  He was totally okay with a one night stand.  

 Harry brought his lips crashing down on Taylor's, song lyrics to hell.  He barely registered the way his hands flickered across her breasts, her shoulders, her back.  Vaguely recognized the cool pressure of her fingers playing with the collar of his shirt.  All that mattered was the slow dance of their kiss.  The fire burned between their tongues, growing hotter as she ran her hands down his hard back.  He pulled away to look at her, admiring the work his mouth had done of her lip gloss.  His thumbs traced her eyelids. 

 "You're not wearing eye makeup," he noticed, relishing the soft skin.  

 "It's late, stupid," breathed Taylor.  Her fingers tangled in his wet, curly hair and tugged his lips back to her own.  God, she was such a good kisser.  Harry had nearly forgotten.  She pulled his bottom lip into her mouth, gently worrying it between her teeth.  He almost complained when she stopped, but decided against it when she drew her tongue across it instead.  

 "But you have gloss on,"  Harry protested against her mouth.  Taylor pulled back to stare at him critically.  

 "It's moisturizing.  I'm supposed to wear it at night to keep my lips supple." 

 "Oh." 

 She laughed softly, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist.  Her tongue caressed the side of his neck, tracing its way up to his jaw. Harry let out a soft moan, holding her closer.  In one fluid motion, his thick arms scooped her up by her arse, those thin legs of hers still tied about him.  

 "What are you doing?"  asked Taylor abruptly.  

 "I'm carrying you to the bed,"  Harry replied, his tone somewhat dubious.  A small, desperate squeak made its way from Tay's glistening lips. 

 "No, no, don't bother," she protested breathlessly.  Harry lifted an eyebrow. 

 "Don't bother?" he repeated, confused.  

 "Let's just do it here," she supplied, motioning to the marble countertop.  

 "You want me to make love to you on the counter?" Harry said, surprised.  Taylor deflated.  

 "I mean, we don't have to," she amended.  Her submissive tone didn't fool Harry at all.  

 "If you want me to fuck you on the counter, I'll fuck you on the counter," he said firmly, setting her gently on the cool marble.  He clearly heard the tiny breath of air she sucked in through her pearly white teeth.  Eyes shining in thanks, she rested her fingers on the soft cotton collar of his T-shirt.  The index finger of each hand slipped under the rough fabric, tugging the material away from his neck.  It was crazy to Harry how just the simplest of her touches could make his heart pound so erratically.  

 "This," she whispered, pulling harder, "needs to come off."  

 Harry obliged, tearing the shirt over his head.  Taylor's breathing quickened as her eyes glided over the hard planes of his chest, settling on some of his newer tattoos.  Her fingers danced over his clavicle, leaving fiery tingles burning across his skin.  She traced the veins in his arms down to his wrists, which she pulled to settle on the hem of her sweatshirt, inviting him to undress her.  He ripped the warm, cotton sweatshirt off her lush torso, relishing the way her breasts hung, full as moons, before him.  His hands caressed the waistband of her shorts, the tug of his fingers asking for permission.  Taylor lifted her hips as Harry pulled the shorts and cotton panties down in one motion.  She squirmed on the cold, marble countertop, goosebumps prickling across her skin.  Throwing her arms about his neck, she pulled him in for a wild, wet kiss, chests flush against each other.  

 "Let's get this over with," she whispered against his mouth.  Harry couldn't help the way his heart cracked a little when she said those hurtful words.  He really was just a one night stand.  Despite the slight sting, his pulse continued to quicken as Taylor began to fumble with his belt.  With the soft thump of jeans on tile and a tiny clink of the metal buckle, his trousers hit the floor, leaving him in nothing but Taylor's vise-like embrace.  She glanced down at his hard-on.  

 "You went commando?" she giggled, tracing her fingers up his length.  Harry moaned in response, nodding as his head fell against her shoulder.  She pumped him slowly, as he drew his soft tongue across her collarbone.  Taylor hummed, enjoying the slick sensation of his mouth.  "Take me now, Harry," she breathed, lining him up with her entrance.  He took in a sharp breath of air at her command, already dying to be inside her.  Tay rubbed his tip against her slickness, making him groan.  He shuffled closer between her legs, which trembled in anticipation.  Pushing his hips forward ever so slowly, he entered her inch by agonizing inch.  Taylor's lips parted as her head fell back.  He pumped his tip in and out of her entrance.  "Don't tease me, Harry," she begged, thrusting herself forward.  Harry let out a sudden moan, loud and heavy, as she took him to the hilt.  

 "Fuck," he groaned, wrapping his arms around her back to pull her closer.  With quick, sharp thrusts, he fucked her.  Taylor, still seated on the counter, moaned, tiny mewls of pleasure flowing from her throat.  She pressed her mouth to his shoulder, leaving small, purple bite marks that would fade by morning.  As he continued his hard thrusts, building a deep, steady rhythm, Taylor bounced with his momentum, yelping every time her sensitive nipples rubbed against his chest.  

 "Harry, I'm close!" she exclaimed, wrapping her legs even tighter around his waist.  Growling deep in his chest, Harry picked up the pace, his thighs slamming against the marble.  The bruises he would have on his legs in the morning would be worth this.  

 "Come for me, darling," he growled, snaking a hand between their bodies to rub slow circles around her clit.  Taylor let out a high-pitched moan at the stimulation, her legs shaking.  With a few more quick thrusts, she came, bucking up into his hips as she keened.  He lapped at the sheen of sweat gracing her chest as she rode out her high.  Tay's walls clenched around him, once, twice, while Harry groaned, his thrusts becoming erratic and rhythmless.  Just as he hit the brink, he pulled out of her, coming on the marble countertop.  Without his arms around her, Taylor collapsed against the mirror, panting heavily as she gazed at him with heavy-lidded eyes.  She watched, becoming more alert as Harry cleaned off the counter and slipped back into his boxers.  With a heartbroken sigh, she slipped off the counter and walked to the wall, pressing her forehead against the tile, still steamy from Harry's shower.  

 "Fuck.  This was a mistake," she whispered.  Harry crept up behind her, resting his chin on her soft hair, his heart breaking all over again.  

 "I'll leave if you want me to," he murmured, stomach clenching in protest even as he heard himself speak.  Taylor hesitated, causing unwanted hope to flood through him, but then nodded.  With a silenced sigh, Harry pulled on the rest of his clothes and left the bathroom.  Straining her ears, Taylor listened for the sound of the door opening and closing.  She felt empty as the sound came floating up the stairs, tears surfacing, unbidden, to the corners of her blue eyes.  

 He was gone.  So was she.