Swept Away

Water had always been my greatest fear.

For that reason, it was difficult for me to watch my boyfriend thrashing around in the lake. Niall was so silly and carefree. It was one of the things I loved the most about him. One of the things everyone loved the most about him, really. But I didn’t love him the way everyone else did. Sometimes when I thought about him, my heart physically ached.

I dipped my foot in the water, but retreated a little. The sand was dry and nubby against the bottoms of my feet, and that was fine by me.

I looked out onto the crashing waves. It was starting to get cloudy and dark. But Niall didn’t care. The weather had never bothered him. He was already far out.

“Zayn!” He called, and his voice carried through the wind. “You should really get in here, mate.”

I laughed inwardly a little. He still called me ‘mate.’ Like we weren’t anything more than friends. Like I couldn’t imagine my life without his love. But that was Niall for you. Everyone was his ‘mate.’

“That’s alright,” I called back, stepping out of the water fully. He was really far out, and there was no way in hell I was going to join him all the way out there. I’d never learned how to swim, and had never really cared to. I didn’t like water, and it didn’t like me.

Niall seemed to enjoy himself though.

I glanced around. We were very nearly the only ones left on the beach. People were beginning to clear out, probably on account of the storm clouds that were rolling in.

“Zayn!” he called again, waving his arms like a child would. I admired his innocence, even if I knew there was truly nothing innocent about him. But he had that aura about him. It was admirable.

I smiled a bit and waved back. The waves crashed up on the shore hard, and pooled around my ankles before seeping back into the lake.

I looked down at my feet. They were wet, and droplets of water rolled off of them. I shuddered and looked back up. Furrowing my eyebrows, I gazed out on the water.

Where was he?

I reached upwards and ran a hand through my hair, which was starting to get wet. It was raining a little now, and the water was getting choppier.

“Niall!” I called, and he popped back up. Not like he could have heard me, but he had that intuition about him. “Come on.”

I was beginning to get scared.

He just grinned and dove back under the water. I took in a sharp breath as the rain began to fall harder. The water was up to his neck now, and I didn’t like the sight of it one bit. My breath caught in my throat when he didn’t come up after a couple of seconds.

“Niall!” I called again, even though there was no way he could have heard me.

“I’m right here you prick,” he muttered, rolling over onto my chest and waking me up with a jolt.

I was sure I was covered in a cold sweat. It was just a nightmare. Only a nightmare, and Niall was right beside me. Well, I guess now he was on top of me. I glanced down at him, and gently laced my fingers through his blonde hair. I was breathing heavily, but he didn’t seem to mind or notice.

In fact, he was already fast asleep again. It didn’t take much to knock him out. And normally, I was the same way. But now, laying here, thinking about how I’d almost lost him, even in a dream was too terrifying for me to comprehend.

“Niall?” I whispered.

He didn’t respond. He just kept breathing evenly, and his mouth hung open while his eyelashes fluttered slightly. I wrapped my arm around him and closed my eyes. I could feel his chest rising and falling against my own, and that was enough to reassure me.

He was fine.

“Niall!” I shouted, stepping lightly into the water. It came up to my ankles and I took a deep breath. I could do this. I had to do this. I had to go in after him to make sure he was okay.

Because he had to be okay.

He had to be.

Another deep breath and I was walking out further into the water. My feet were digging into the wet sand and the water was quickly rising up around my legs. I stopped when it hit the inside of my knees and shivered. But not because it was cold.

Because I noticed Niall bobbing up and down along with the waves, his back facing the sky and his blonde head nearly submerged.

My eyes widened in horror.

“NIALL!” I shouted, frozen in place. No matter how hard I tried, my legs wouldn’t move.

“Jesus Christ, Zayn,” Niall muttered, pressing his hands to my chest and staring me right in the face. “What?”

I was breathing heavily and blinked my eyes a couple of times. His questioning and tired look did little to soothe me. Even though he was very clearly alive and no part of him was covered in water.

I leaned upwards and put and hand on the back of his head, kissing him forcefully.

“Mmph,” he breathed, pulling away from me. His eyelids drooped again. “Too tired for that,” he said, giving me an apologetic look and falling onto the pillow beside me, draping his arm over my chest.

That was fine. I didn’t need to have sex with him – I just needed to kiss him and be close to him and reassure myself that he was still with me. I glanced around the dark room and my eyes fell on the clock. We had to be awake in a few hours for a photoshoot. I took a breath and closed my eyes again, trying to not think about the fact that every time I fell asleep, my heart broke because the love of my life was dying.

The water wasn’t quite up to my neck like it had been on Niall, but that made sense. I was a bit taller than he was. I was shivering fiercely now… from the cold, the wind, the rain…

The thought of Niall’s lungs filling with water and him never breathing again.

But somehow, I made it over to where he was floating. I grabbed hold of him by the arm and pulled him towards me. Making sure his head was above water I scurried back out onto the beach. I slung him over my shoulders as the water got shallower, but he wasn’t breathing. I couldn’t feel any movement from his chest against my back and it terrified me.

I placed him back onto the sand and looked down at him. His eyes were closed and his mouth was half open. It looked like he was sleeping almost, if not for the fact that he wasn’t breathing.

“Niall,” I said softly, putting my hand on his chest and trying to find a heartbeat. Why hadn’t I ever paid attention in any of those first aid classes I’d been forced to take? I grabbed his wrist and tried to find a pulse but there was nothing. I didn’t even know how to do any sort of CPR. I pressed my hands against his unmoving chest and pushed them down a few times. It didn’t seem to do anything.

I leaned down to try and breathe into his cold lips but nothing happened. It didn’t help.

“Dammit,” I swore, hitting my first against the sand. The rain had subsided, but that didn’t stop my own tears from falling. “Niall…” I choked out, glancing over at his lifeless body.

“Told you I was too tired,” he muttered, opening his eyes again. It was brighter outside now, and the sunlight streaming in through the curtains stung a little. I reached up to rub my eyes, and was met with dampness against my fingertips.

He sat up a little and looked at me curiously. “Are you alright?” he asked, scratching his head.

I sighed heavily. No, I wasn’t about to admit to him I’d spent the whole night dreaming about his untimely death. Besides, I was fine. I really was, now that I once again saw for myself that he was alive and well.

It had all been just a dream. A horribly realistic nightmare, actually. But it was still just imaginary, nonetheless.

“Yeah,” I said softly. “Fine.” I reached upwards and stroked his arm. He relaxed a little and smiled, leaning down to kiss me on the cheek. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling of his hot breath against my skin, even if it was only for a second.

Then he got up and quickly hopped off the bed. “I’m going to have a shower,” he announced, walking out of the room.

I nodded, but he was already gone. I stared up at the ceiling contemplatively.

When I was a child, water had been my greatest fear. Now that I’d grown up, it seemed my greatest fear was being without Niall.


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