Bigger than a garden


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Chapter 1: Rain makes a rainbow

“Noah, come on, we're going to be late” Amy Owens called up the stairs to her teenage son.
He was exactly where he always was whenever he was at home on a Sunday afternoon, asleep in bed in his cramped, navy, dark toned bedroom.
“Yeah, sure” he muttered half asleep as his head turned on his pillow, rolling over.
“We're going right now, what are you doing in bed?” his mother Evie yelled, looking in at him from the hallway with his younger brother Felix standing beside her, swinging around her legs. Although Felix looked like a mini version of his brother, he had the same raven hair only flatter and the same piercing hazel eyes, he was very sweet and innocent, always so happy with a content smile plastered across his lips.  
He slowly pulled his head up to look at her with blurry eyes.
“What?” his voice cracked. “...Going where?” 
“Next door, Louise and Grahams daughter Niamh is back home, they're having a welcome home party and we're all invited” Evie explained, not looking too happy with him.
“...And... why do I have to go” Noah groaned as he dropped his head carelessly back to his pillow. “You've barely spoken to them at all in the year we've lived here”
“We've been busy, you know that, we haven't had time” Evie explained.
“You're always busy... whats the point in being a mum if neither of you are even around to see us”
“...I'm here now aren't I? We both are. Get out of bed and maybe you'd see us more” Evie cried, trying not to get too wound up about it.
It wasn't that her and her wife never wanted to spend time with their sons, they both had very demanding jobs, Amy was a doctor and Evie, a lawyer, both very important jobs that they had to dedicate time too. Then, whenever they were home, Noah was not, making their relationship difficult to maintain.
“It's okay, he doesn't have to come if he doesn't want to, just leave him Eve, I don't want to be late and if he's happy staying here alone and being a selfish child, then let him” Amy cried up the stairs after overhearing the situation, giving up on him, not wanting to be late.

Without Noah, Evie, Amy and Felix made their way next door to celebrate with their neighbors. Although they didn't know them too well, it was mostly quite chats and friendly head nods in the driveway as they made there way out, Amy had helped the couple a few times in the short time they had lived there, it was nothing much, just little things but it meant a lot to the family.

Although their house wasn't very big, everyone was there to celebrate Niamh Newton finally able to come home after most of the last year being spent in hospital, her two grandmother and her grandad, four uncle and five aunts and her eight cousins. She was only young, only seventeen years old, the same age as Noah and she had already unfortunately been through a lot in her life. On and off throughout the short amount of life she had lived, since she was small she had been rushed back and forth, to and from the hospital, until eventually it was easier to stay there permanently, until only recently when she had major surgery on her heart, a transplant, but she was doing well and allowed home for the first time in a long time.
Niamh had only been back since Friday night before her parents decided to throw her a party which it was soon clear just how uninterested she was. 
The party wasn't anything too exciting, it was out in the garden on very sunny day with mostly family as Niamh had few friends her own age, she happily greeted all the guests and thanked them for coming but wasn't too interesting in hanging around. In the last few months she had seen a lot of them, as they would all visit at the hospital, in fact she had seen them more in her recovery period than she had put together her entire life. Something that she had most been looking forward to now she was home was having time to herself, privacy, no doctors or nurses looking in on her every now and then and no parents sleeping by her side, as well as being able to do what she liked for once, with no restrictions.

When Evie, Amy and Felix came in however she felt the need to be a little more chatty as she had never met them before and of course she had heard how Amy had helped her mum and dad, recommending doctors and surgeons they should speak to, even explaining some medical knowledge they didn't quite understand more thoroughly for them.
“Niamh, love, these are the lovely women from next door” Mrs Newton introduced them as she showed the family into the garden where everyone else was sitting up at the very nicely decorated garden, the white lacy table cloth over the long table, filled with the cupcakes and sandwiches Mrs Newton had made herself and a large array of party food, the very bright coloured balloons and heart garlands stapled along the garden fence.
Both Mr and Mrs Newton were primary school teachers at the local primary school that Felix Owens went. It was obvious from the way they looked that they worked with children, they both were very smiley, energetic people and would wear very bright cheerful clothes. Mr Newton would rarely be seen in anything other than his boldly patterned, bright coloured shirts and baggy light blue jeans of which he had a whole drawer full and Mrs Newton in her floral summer dresses, even in the winter, she would just pair them with some tights and a woolly cardigan. Graham was a short plump man with big sparkling deep blue eyes, with straight dirty blonde hair on his head neatly combed forward and a trimmed wiry slight orangery bearded on his face, matching his rosy cheeks. Graham was the kind of teacher all the kids would want at school, he'd often act silly and make things as fun as possible, whereas Louise was more serious about subjects such as maths and history, then would lighten up for art and creative activities as they were her favorites. She was a petite woman with shoulder lengthened well managed bright ginger curly hair, her vibrant bright green eyes always behind her over sized, thin, silver, circular framed specs. 
“Hello, I'm Amy, this is my wife Evie and our son Felix, it's lovely to finally meet you properly” Amy spoke out, giving Niamh a sweet smile.

They were both very friendly looking woman with big smiles on their faces, taller than Niamh's parents, very tall and an more or less natural build for their body types. Evie was Chinese like the boys, with long straight black hair past her shoulders, dark sparkling eyes and perfectly clear skin with only a thin line of eyeliner across her eyes. Amy was white with long, chestnut hair down to her hips and the biggest, friendliest light blue eyes, they were both wearing dresses, Evie a moss green button up, falling just above her knees and Amy a more flowy, plain white thin strapped dress.
“It's lovely to meet you too” Niamh smiled back sweetly.
“They have another son too” Louise told her daughter. “...How old is he?”
“Yes, Noah, he's seventeen, the same age as you, right? Sadly he couldn't make it, but I assume you'll be going to Gardenpark too? Maybe you'll be in the same class” Amy explained, looking just slightly embarrassed. 
“Yes, I start tomorrow... maybe we'll be friends” she said with a smirk.
As she said that there was a brief awkwardness between Amy and Evie, just from that quick chat they had had, it was apparent how very different Noah and Niamh were.
“Are you hungry? Would you like to come and sit down and get something to eat?” Louise asked after a moment of silence, encouraging them to get a little more comfortable.
Niamh sat round for a little while longer to be polite but only spoke when asked a question, until eventually she was given an opportunity to leave and do her own thing. It was then that she took a trip down to very bottom of their long garden to do something she had been waiting to do all day, visit her new bees in their hive.

Anyone that knew Niamh well had noticed it, since her time at the hospital she had become almost a new person, she was kinder, more gentle and caring, it wasn't completely out of character, in fact there was a time where she had always been like that, but then it had passed and now it was back. She wasn't far different from Noah for a while, she was unsociable and kept very much to herself at home the little time she'd send there as she spent most of the time out with her friends; which was the genuine her, was hard to say but, what was clear was that recently she seemed so much happier. Niamh had made a vowel to herself, to be better after her transplant, to not only take better care of her self and the ones she loved but everybody, her new heart was her new chance and the very first thing she had done with that was buying bees, so she was off to a very good start.
So while the guests all sat up at the table eating the food in her honor, Niamh was at the bottom of the garden in her bee suit, checking up on her bees on her own, that was until she was interrupted. 

By that time, next door, Noah was awake and out of bed, he was even dressed, wearing his usual staple outfit choices that he'd only vary slightly, a plain t-shirt, that day was white but he'd go as far as blank or even gray, some black skinny, ripped jeans, converse on his feet and wearing his black leather jacket, even on that hot summers day. Before going out to do whatever he was doing that day, the more exciting plans he seemed to have to do instead of attending a party with his parents, he just so happened to look out of his window, noticing something white moving in the distance and couldn't help but stop. Both the gardens, the Owens' and the Newtons were quite bare, empty patches of grass with the odd tree and bush at the side, as no one in either family was much of a gardener and there was only a low fence separating them, so Noah could see what was going on quite clearly from his window.
He stood there for a good minute or two squinting at the white blob moving around from the window, before he waked away, but that wasn't it, he was too curious to forget about it so instead he went downstairs and walked out into the garden to further investigate.
Even once he had reached the bottom of the garden he still had no idea what the stranger was doing wearing something like that as he could see the hive boxes from over the fence.
He stood there peering over the fence for a while without Niamh noticing him before he spoke out.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked bluntly, making her jump.
Once her feet were back on the ground she slowly turned to him, watching him for just a second.
“Tending to my bees if you must know” she told him blankly, already not taking much of a like to him from his rude tone, her voice muffling in the mask.
“...Your... bees?” Noah muttered, taking a step closer to see better.
“What are you doing?” Niamh yelled out in a panic. “You don't have a suit, you can't come any closer”
“But none of them are out” Noah's eyes narrowed as he looked to Niamh's net covered face.
“Just step back” she told him blankly. “I don't want any of them stinging you because then they'll die” 
Noah stood there for just a second longer before then completely ignoring what she had said and hoping over the fence to get a closer look.
“What are you doing? Did you not here me?” she cried out.
“I did” Noah muttered as he bent down over the wooden hive.
“...You can't just let yourself into someone's garden like that” Niamh cried out starting to get a little fed up.
“I didn't just let myself in, I was invited...” Noah smiled up at her. Not only did he come across uncaring, self entitled and arrogant, he didn't even seem to find anything wrong with it, he had little to no idea of the effect he had on Niamh, even after her reaction, it was like he heard nothing she said, he just  smiled and happily continued as if he didn't even recognize the emotions she was feeling or he had somehow convinced himself that they meant something else.
“...What?” Niamh muttered.
“You're having a party here, right? My family are down there” Noah gestured with his head. “Can I see them? Do you have another suit?” he asked, his head turning back to the hive.
Niamh froze there for a second, consulting her thoughts as the puzzle pieces fitted together and she figured out who exactly he was.
She pulled the net off of her face and pulled the hat from her head to reveal her face.
There was an almost childish look about her, her feature all very stretched out like a Disney princess, her hair big and frizzy, a completely out of control cloud of ginger, her eyes wide, bright glowing green like her mothers and her nose covered in sweet brown freckles, usually filled with the biggest, more sincere smile.
“...You're, Noah?” she cried out.
He immediately turned around.
“You do know me” he said in a sarcastically humble way before he paused for a second to take in her face with a smile. 
“...And, you are?” he asked as he stood up straight with a lick of his lips.
Niamh stared at him for a second, unsure how to react, she had no idea what he was thinking but his mannerisms had all changed, he seemed more interested in her now.
“...Niamh” she muttered, her eyes flickering.
“It's nice to meet you, Niamh” Noah grinned, holding out his hand to her.
“...Yeah” she mumbled disheartened, refusing her hand to him before turning around back to the house.
Noah watched her curiously for a moment before a smile crept up onto his face and he skipped after her.
“So this is your party then? If you can even call it a party, maybe I could take you to a real party someday...?”
Niamh's eyes rolled as she wished she couldn't hear him, she had an image in her head, an image of the person she was going to be and she could already tell Noah wasn't going to make it easy for her.
“No thanks, I'm good. This is about as much as I can handle” Niamh gave him a forced smile before increasing her speed.
She made her way back down the garden to the others, they were all still sat up at the table, where she had left them, expect the smaller children who were now playing on the patio with the balloons. 
“Niamh” An elderly woman cried out, standing up from the table along with a man her age, blocking Niamh's clear path to the open french doors. 
“Sorry but we're going to have to get going, dear” the woman said sweetly.
“Oh, that's a shame grandma” Niamh muttered, slightly distracted by Noah standing closely behind her. “...But, I'll see you both soon though, won't I?” she smiled to her them, trying to ignore him.
“Yes, maybe you could give us a call tomorrow after school? So you can let us know how your first day went?”
“Okay grandma, I'll make sure to do that. Thank you both for coming” Niamh gave them both a hug.
“...Noah?” Amy cried out in surprise, looking up from the table when she noticed him watching Niamh, allowing Niamh to have a second of privacy.
“You met Niamh?” Evie smiled hesitantly, causing Niamh to turn back around, hearing her name as her grandparents walked off.
“What are you doing here? I thought you... had, plans?” Amy asked in confusion.
“I changed my mind” he told them blankly before turning to Niamh with a smile.
An intrigued look stretched across both of mothers faces as they tried to work out what was going on between them.
“...Erm... I'm going to take this off” Niamh muttered awkwardly before stepping away, finally able to go inside and up to her room, but of course it was never going to be that easy. 
Niamh had barely been upstairs for five minutes before Noah came looking for her, at this point him letting himself inside the house and making himself at home wasn't so surprising but still, Niamh had hoped his parents would have had more control over his actions.
There house wasn't very big at all so it wasn't too difficult to find her bedroom, there were four doors in total, her room, her parents room, her sisters room and a bathroom and there was quite a big clue on the door, her name.
She had only just put her top back on literally the moment Noah flung open the door, no knock of course.
“...What are you doing? Get out” she cried out, double checking her t-shirt had been tucked into her skirt correctly. “What is your problem with me? Why are you so obsessed with me?” she cried out, standing up from the bed she was perched on the edge of, now dressed back in her clothes from before, a plain, loose fitting mustard yellow t-shirt and a cream mid length tulle skirt .
“I'm not” Noah gave her a funny look as he proceeded to explore her room.
Taking a look out of the window to find that his almost perfect lined up with hers if he were to ever open his blinds of the right hand window above his bed.
Niamh's bedroom was very much how he expected, he didn't seem too shocked or confused by it, it was very bright and floral. The walls were all a sunny yellow, her bedding was white and covered in sweet flowers, the furniture cream and all the accessories, lampshades, rugs, cushioned were all very flowery, mostly pale yellows and greens and of course, there was the odd cuddly toy dotted about too, her favorite clearly being a warn out looking frog on her bed.
“...No, seriously? I don't understand what you think is going on here? You're kind of creeping me out dude” Niamh told him as clear as possible, fully expressing her discontent to him. 
It was only then that her words seemed to actually process in his head, there was no sugarcoating or subtly at all. He didn't go as far as guilt or sorrow but the smile on his face had dropped as he watched her for a second, that time keeping his eyes locked onto hers.
“...Sorry, I never meant you creep you out” he said honestly, convincing Niamh.
“So, what is this? What are you doing here? Why did you follow me up here?   Is this how you usually act? Laid back with seemingly no boundaries, or...?”    She asked in a more gentle tone, trying to better understand the situation. 
“I just like you, okay?” Noah told her.
Her face lightened up as what he said filled her head. For just a moment she even found herself appreciating it, even finding it sweet.
“...You fascinate me” he added keeping his face straight for just a second before he let out a little chuckle, breaking the illusion.
Niamh froze for a moment in confusion, unsure of how to feel but making sure he didn't know that.    
“Oh my god, get out” she cried out. “...Just go” 

In just the short amount of time she had known Noah, she had felt a variety of different things towards him, mostly irritation, but it was strange, there were a few occasional moments, just quick flashes of confusion where Niamh didn't completely hate him. There were moments where he really did seem genuinely clueless as to what he was doing to her and the way he had apologized couldn't have been a joke, he couldn't have faked that look. It was possible that that was just how he was, persistent and to the point, but then, there were moments when he was completely conscious of himself, where he seemed to know exactly what he was doing; that was the most confusing as he was clearly purposely trying to irritate her but maybe that was the cover, no one could ever be allowed to see the good in him, the sweet, innocent boy behind the bad boy act with the jacket and the hair.

After a few minutes of blankly staring at the door and racking her brain, Niamh decided to go back downstairs to everyone else, Noah was sitting down at the table with Felix and his mums with a plateful of food as the adults chatted among themselves.
Niamh saw him straight away but didn't say anything, she just sat down across from him beside her mums twin, auntie Julie, only occasionally adding to the conversation and answering when asked questions, not saying a single word to Noah, just watching him discreetly from across the table, picking at some grapes.
Although she was happy to be out of hospital, she was still adjusting to being home, she had only been back since Friday morning, to the house where she hadn't lived in for almost a year.

It wasn't until later that Sunday afternoon once everyone had left, the end of her third day back that Niamh was able to happily sit alone in the living room in front of the Simpsons as dinner was being made in the kitchen, that she finally felt settled. Even though they were her parents, her parents she had seen everyday for her entire life, she didn't feel she quite belonged there in the house with them. It hadn't been her home for a long time and things had changed, furniture had been moved around, new things had appeared, as well as old things having disappeared, everything just felt a little off but she was getting used to how it was now, although of course one thing that would never change was the colours. There wasn't a single room in the house that wasn't full of colour, the living rooms walls were bright green, the hallways were all baby blue, the dinning room lilac, as well as various colors upstairs too.
Not only did Niamh have to get used to the house again but also getting back to having a normal life, she was able to plan what she wanted to do for the first time in a long time, with no thought as to if the doctors would approval. Niamh was back in complete control, she could run off abroad if she wanted to, but for now, she was looking forward to going back to school, hanging out with friends, getting the bus alone, spending as much time as she wanted doing what she wanted, like any other teenager.
Despite her clean bill of health and the fact she had officially pasted the crucial few weeks where complications were more likely, it seemed her mother was still not completely comfortable with the idea of school and things going back to what was normal. Louise was very overprotect of her daughter, to the point where she prefer to personally pay for Niamh to live at the hospital while on the donor list, when technically she could have spent most of that year at home waiting there instead. Her mum wanted her to be in the perfect place while she waited in case anything happened in the mean time, so she would be surveyed, under strict orders, not allowed to exhaust herself or move around much at all, anything that could potentially make things worse. Even after Niamh received a LVAD, a temporary device that helps the heart to beat while on the waiting list. She made Niamh stay there for as long as she possibly could, even a little after her completed recovery from the operation, Niamh had a new heart, a healthy, perfect heart but still her mother was terrified of something going wrong with that one too, therefore frighted of her being away and going to school. 
Niamh kept hoping that eventually her mum would see how well she was doing, worrying while things were bad made sense, but there was no need to anymore, everything was going well and it had been for a while, it was time to stop her over the top, obsessive worrying, but as they sat down for dinner it was clear that that was asking for far too much.
“So how are you feeling about tomorrow Niamh?” was the very first thing her mum asked her once they were all settled down at the table in front of their negative dinner.
“Good” Niamh told her quietly, knowing exactly why she was asking.
“I think it will be really good for you, darling, you'll learn so much better in an actual school environment instead of a hospital” her father spoke out, sticking up for her.
“...You're only saying that so you don't have to teach her anymore” Louise growled at her husband.
“Why wouldn't I like teaching her?” his eyes narrowed.
“Because you're used to teaching five year olds, Graham, I'm not saying you're not smart enough to teach at a higher level, I'm just saying it's not as difficult, intellectually, it's less demanding” 
“I think you did a really great job dad” Niamh smirked at him as she ate a forkful of rice. “...But you're right mum, probably not as well as people that are more qualified, like the teachers at Gardenpark” she added, getting the upper hand.
“But, your health is more important than your education, going back to a stressful, competitive environment isn't good for you Niamh, now we're no longer paying for your housing at the hospital we can get you a teacher to teach you here like we talked about before? Then you'd have far more time to do all you like?” Louise pleaded. “...You said you want to help people right? You could do that then”    
“Maybe that's true, but then what? I'll have no friends, I'll still have no life so then what would be the point in having this new heart? As well as this way, I can finish my education and still have money for uni if I decided to go, or for whatever else I choose to do, have a gap year and travel, to someplace I can really help make a difference”
“Uni? I didn't think you wanted to go?” her mother gave her a confused look.
“I didn't even think I would live long enough, but now, who knows, I can do anything, can't I?”  
Her mums eyes lit up at the words her daughter spoke, it was the most optimistic she had seen her, before the surgery, before Niamh even agreed to have it, her plan was that she would say at school for as long as she had to before living the rest of however long she had only doing what she loved, it was only after she had been put on the translate list that she decided that she would use her new heart wisely, helping the world, which uni could have been a helpful advantage too, which she was only just realizing. 
“...You're not just saying that so I'll let you go are you?” Louise asked after a moment, suppressing the look on her face, although she had mostly came around to the idea of school now uni was an option, she still of course had her concerns and didn't want to completely seal the deal without a little thought first.“...and it doesn't have anything to do with that Noah boy right?” she asked, subtly turning the conversation to him.
“What?” Niamh's face dropped. “I told you after the surgery that as soon as I recovered I wanted to go back, before I even met him?” she explained, failing to understand why her mother had brought him up at all.
“I'm kidding” her mother gave her a crocked smile. “I just got a feeling that you might have a thing for him, it has nothing to do with school?” she clarified. 
“I don't and even if I did, a girl can have thoughts of her own you know? Why would you even say that? Joking or not? If I ever arrange my life around a love interest, just shoot me” Niamh told her, quite upset by the thought.
“You're right” Louise muttered awkwardly, tucking her hair behind her ear and looking down to her plate. She wasn't thinking, she was just trying to move away from the old topic.
“...He is your type though, isn't he?” she asked curiously after a moment.
“Mum” Niamh cried out with a smirk.
“Well he is, what was his name, Graham? The boy from before?...”
“James? I think...” her father added.
“Yes, James, he was a lot like Noah wasn't he? With the spiky hair and attitude” 
Niamh's face flinched at the thought. The Niamh that fell for James was a very different Niamh from the one that was sitting at the table, someone that she didn't like to think too much about, but she had to admit, her mother had a point. James in a way, was very much like Noah, maybe worse even, he was older and unlike Noah it was clear what type of person he was from the start, with no doubt, a troublemaker. That's actually what Niamh liked about him, he wasn't the cause of her personalty change, just one of the symptoms, it was a very much a time in her life that she cared what others thought of her, her loosely termed friends were at the top of that list. There wa All of a sudden things made a little more sense, not 
“What?” Niamh's face dropped. “I told you after the surgery that as soon as I recovered I wanted to go back, before I even met him?” she explained, failing to understand why her mother had brought him up at all.
“I'm kidding” her mother gave her a crocked smile. “I just got a feeling that you might have a thing for him, it has nothing to do with school?” she clarified. 
“I don't and even if I did, a girl can have thoughts of her own you know? Why would you even say that? Joking or not? If I ever arrange my life around a love interest, just shoot me” Niamh told her, quite upset by the thought.
“You're right” Louise muttered awkwardly, tucking her hair behind her ear and looking down to her plate. She wasn't thinking, she was just trying to move away from the old topic.
“...He is your type though, isn't he?” she asked curiously after a moment.
“Mum” Niamh cried out with a smirk.
“Well he is, what was his name, Graham? The boy from before?...”
“James? I think...” her father added.
“Yes, James, he was a lot like Noah wasn't he? With the spiky hair and attitude”  
Niamh's face flinched at the thought. The Niamh that fell for James was a very different Niamh from the one that was sitting at the table, someone that she didn't like to think too much about, but she had to admit, her mother had a point. James in a way, was very much like Noah, maybe worse even, he was older and unlike Noah it was clear what type of person he was from the start, with no doubt, a troublemaker. That's actually what Niamh liked about him, he wasn't the cause of her personalty change, just one of the symptoms, it was a very much a time in her life that she cared what others thought of her and her loosely termed friends were at the top of that list. Being with James and acting like him was the type of person she felt she needed to be at the time.
All of a sudden things made a little more sense, although she hadn't made her mind up about Noah yet, he was familiar, something that she would look out for before and apparently those old habits weren't easy to shake off. As well as her interest in him being explained, her irritation towards him was now clearer too, she knew what it was that she saw in him, an almost reflection of who she used to be, someone she didn't want to be anymore or reminded of.
“...He was” Niamh said blankly after a moment. 
“I mean I personally wouldn't go for anyone like that, but, I understand why you like that sort of thing, someone different, more exciting and interesting, but you'll find that those things although they seem so important at the time, they're really not, what's important if kindness, someone you feel safe around...” Louise went on. 
“Well, good thing that's not my type anymore isn't it?” Niamh said proudly after a moment, ignoring all her previous feelings, fooling herself into believing that she could forget about Noah, avoid him all together.    
“Well that's good, you should try and find someone like your father, someone sweet, funny and caring, those boys are so different from him... the complete opposite actually” 
“...Just stop talking, mum, please?” Niamh smirked awkwardly.
“I'm just saying, Noah will ruin everything you've worked so hard to make up for...” she continued.
“...Dad, please make her stop.” 
“...You know, even the younger girls at school seem to like Noah... Felix too actually, they all know they're brothers and I hear them talk about how they want to go out with Felix so then when he's older he will look like Noah and be cool” Graham added, not paying much notice to Niamh's cry for help.
“How odd” Louise laughed.
“Oh god” Niamh's head dropped into her hands, all she could do was laugh along with them through the awkwardness.
“Please tell me I can leave now?” she asked after a moment as the conversation continued in the background half muted by Niamh's ears.
“...Yes, you can leave now, if you want pudding you can have fruit, we all had enough cakes and biscuits earlier” her mother told her, stopping her conversation for just a second before going back to talking about how girls these days seemed to prefer the prettier boys, tall and skinny with perfect hair and skinny jeans, instead of the rugged, muscly boys she always liked more.
“No, I'm okay thanks, I think I'll just sit up in my room for a while and wind down, I need to be well rested for school tomorrow, don't I?” she said as she stood up from her chair, subtly making sure to watch her mother's reaction.
Although it was clear she still wasn't in love with the idea as her face twitched just slightly, she had definitely come around to it a little more and at  the very least accepted that it was happening.
“...Okay then, just, make sure you put your phone charge ready to take with you if anything happens...” she muttered after a second.
“Yeah” Niamh nodded, drawing her lips in, hiding her grin, just until she turned around to the door. 

After a few minutes of faffing around, getting herself a glass of water, putting some things away, Niamh was ready to go up, but just as she was about to take her first step up her dad appeared beside her. 
“Could I just have a quick word with you?” he muttered through the frozen time.
“...Yeah, sure” Niamh said blankly, turning slightly to him, waiting patiently to find out what he had to say.
“I just want to say how proud I am of you, Niamh” 
It took less than a second for a smile to grow onto her blank face, that wasn't something she heard very often, lately any compliment she would receive would be along the lines of “You're so brave” or “You look so well”
“Lately you've really turned your life around, all that you have been through was far from easy and you could have come out of it so differently, let it be an excuse to be reckless and to do whatever you wanted with no care, because you're alive and you can? Instead, you decided to take this chance, your second shot at life and do something really lovely with it...” Graham explained, it was obvious by the proud look on his face how glad he was and by his sweet smile, how much it meant to him.
Niamh didn't say anything but her ever growing smile expressed all she felt inside.
“There was a time when I was worried for you Nee. We never said, me and your mother but we wouldn't get much sleep at that time, albeit we didn't get much sleep when you were sick either. We would sit up at night wide awake until you got home, worried that something terrible could have happened at those parties you were always at, we would spend so much time worrying about you, your future, if you would even have one, but, I don't feel like we have to be worried anymore” he told her wholeheartedly, having a little trouble keeping his eyes away from the floor. 
“I had no idea” Niamh muttered, feeling quite guilty, it was back at the time she wouldn't think of anyone but herself so it made sense that she never thought about how her actions effected them. “But really, I don't want to be like that anymore” Niamh told him honestly with a shy smirk.
“No, you want to save the world” her dad said, then looking her straight in the eyes with the biggest grin.
“I do” she nodded. 
“And don't you let anything or anyone stop you from that okay? Because you can do it, Niamh” he added. “Love you, darling” he muttered after a second, giving her a sweet kiss on her forehead.
“Love you too dad, night night” 
“See you in the morning” he smiled as she then went up the stairs.
The conversation had impacted her more than he probably knew, it hadn't only given her a warm feeling, it had also made her think, as it was still too early to sleep she had a lot of time to do that. The majority of the thoughts that came flooding in were about her friends, as she sat upstairs alone in her bedroom, tucked up under her duvet with a book in her hands, unable to concentrate on a single word, all she could think was how they would react to seeing her, how exactly it would play out in the morning, something she hadn't really given much thought to before.

Niamh hadn't seen any of them in a while, only one or two had attempted to keep in touch with her out of her large group she had started before anything went wrong with her health. It wasn't that none of them were good friends, Madison and Cammie, the ones that did visit and tried the hardest out of them all to continue the friendship really did mean well, but they just didn't have the time or the transport to go back and forth while still focusing on school work. Those two were the exception, Niamh had been friends with them since primary school, since she was just six years old and found comfort in the fact that she had no doubts they would be there, so even if things didn't work she still had them, it was the others she was worried about. It didn't even really bother her much, if she never had to see the rest of the group again things would be fine, not even just because of their carelessness, it was only at the hospital, at deaths door that she realized that. The problem was they would still be there, they would still talk to her and be in her life and there was nothing she could do about that, Niamh had a clear idea of the kind of life she wanted to live now and they could possibly get in the way. She was worried about the power they had over her, she had seen it before with Noah, how she could fall so easily into her old ways of thinking, her old  actions. The others were the reason behind her first personalty shift, it was only when she had met them that things turned sideways, when she started to get into trouble, when she became the type of person even she didn't like. As hard as it was to believe, looking at her now, Niamh had done so many things in her life that she was ashamed of, things she barely thought about at all at the time and was desperate to escape that and never go back, it wasn't a major concern but she couldn't help but wander if it was possible. 
As something tapped against her window, the second thought came flooding in, a thought of Noah.
As she got up from her bed and walked over to the window she could see him watching her, sitting there as a reminder, it wasn't in a creepy way, he wasn't hiding, he wasn't trying to be discreet or subtle at all, he wanted her to notice him, he hadn't been there for long, only a minute maybe before he threw the small plastic toy car to get her attention.
“What are you doing?” she cried out manically from the window, feeling slightly vulnerable. 
His face lit up the second he saw her, which was only when she pressed her face right up against the glass, thankfully he couldn't really see in otherwise.
“I wasn't sure if you were there or not...” 
“...What do you want Noah?” Niamh muttered after a second, after thinking it through for a second, he didn't know she was there therefore he couldn't have been spying on her.
“...I just wanted to say goodnight... that's all” he told her, leaning out slightly with his elbows on the edge of the windowsill, smiling sweetly at her, again in the genuine way he'd often surprise her with.
Niamh watched him for a second before her intense stair dropped and she allowed herself to believe him.
She was so focused on her mission, so focused on her life, everything felt like a threat and he was no exception, but still, slowly she was beginning to doubt if he was going to be a problem after all or if it was just her paranoia.
“Goodnight, Noah” she muttered before closing the window and stepping back blankly, turning to her room to think for a second.
Once again her confusion towards him had surfaced and she didn't know what to feel, whether she should trust her potentially biased first impression, or if she should give him a chance and continue to figure him out. One thing that she was sure of though, is how that brief encounter seemed to have almost eased her of her worry, as instead, she only thought of him, whether that was a good or bad thing she couldn't determine yet but at the time it actually seemed almost positive. 
Still unsure, she soon fell asleep to the thought of him and her many questions. 


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Chapter 2: Sweet as honey

Waking up that morning was the most excited Niamh had been in a while, more excited than she was to get out of the hospital as that was only the first small step. It wasn't that she was a massive fan of school, she had never really been particularly good at it, though of course she had a few subjects she excelled at, but even those got worse when she stopped caring and her focus strayed. It was the normal part she liked the sound of mostly, including the fact that no one there would treat her any differently from anyone else and she wouldn't feel constantly watched over as she had since she first got ill.
Niamh woke up especially early so she'd be wide awake and ready for her first day back.
She had to leave the house at around 7 to get to the bus stop comfortable early, class began at 8:45 so she would be there for a while before as the bus only took about 15 minutes to drive the six miles, including the stops. 
Before it was even six thirty Niamh had had her shower, eaten breakfast, brushed her teeth and put on the school uniform she wasn't used to wearing anymore, a dark blue polo shirt and her navy and red tartan skirt.
With her remainder of her she chose to look through some of her old school work to entertain herself, art was her favorite so there were plenty of old paintings and drawings to look though, looking through them was a reminder of the old her. The work was done by the Niamh that no matter what, tried her best at everything, that always studied and followed the rules, the complete opposite of who she had become, the girl that would skip classes, talk through every lesson, gossiping with her friends about parties and boys they fancied, she wanted to go back to who she was before that, the girl who made art. 
After a while, when she had put everything she still had a little time left so decided to put some music on and tidy up a bit with the windows wide open, letting in the warm fresh ending summer air, dancing as she moved around.
“...NIAMH” Noah's voice came out over the sound of the music out of nowhere.
Niamh stopped dancing and walked to the window where she saw him looking out at her, not looking too pleased, his hair actually flat for once and his eyes full of sleep.
He was still in bed, he only had to sit up to get to the window, making what had happened even clearer just in case Niamh couldn't figure it out.
“...Turn that off” he told her blankly.
What she felt surprised her, she was happy to see him, either she was too happy to be finally getting back to normal to let him bother her or she had made her mind up about him, that he wasn't worth getting worked up about. He was nothing to her, just the boy who lived next door, a boy she was going to have to get used to seeing around, as he didn't seem to be going anywhere, but a boy she was not at all obliged to feel anything for, good or bad, she would humor him. Niamh had gotten so used to how it was in the hospital, sharing everything with the other patients, them all living in the same space that it took her a while to realize that.
Niamh watched him for just a second before she decided to mess with him, some light hearted, no strings attracted fun. 
A sneaky look grew on her face, she stepped to the side for a second, towards her iPod dock and pressed the plus button until she could longer, turning the music up to purposely annoy him.
“Niamh” Noah cried out.
She of course ignored him until he quickly gave up, closing the window and laying back down with his pillow placed over his ears. She waited a moment, quickly getting bored but refusing to up first.
Not even a minute later Noah's head popped up again and his window opened, he could still hear it even through the glass and the polyester.
“Please turn it off” he asked gently that time.
Niamh watched him for a moment before she couldn't help but feel bad and turn it off completely.
“...Do you not like Ed Sheeran, Noah?” she asked, turning back to the window to see his relieved face.
“...Of course I like Ed Sheeran, who doesn't like Ed Sheeran?” Noah muttered.
“...So, what's all the complaining about then?” Niamh smirked, knowing full well.
He gave her a funny look, unsure if she was joking a lot, that was before she started laughing.
“...Of course you're a morning person” he said as he rolled his eyes.
“...Did I wake you up?” Niamh asked with a amused smile, teasing him.
“Yes, yes you did” Noah replied bluntly.
“Well, I would say sorry but you have to get up anyway, so...” she smiled proudly.
“...Not for another fifteen minutes” he groaned.
Niamh looked to the clock behind her. “...But that's what time you have to be at the bus stop” she said blankly.
“Yeah, exactly” Noah shouted out before pulling the window closed once again and dropping his head back down onto his pillow now there was quiet. Meanwhile, Niamh made her way downstairs to see her parents before she left.
Her dad was in the kitchen preparing their lunch for later as Louise was getting her hoes on ready to walk out the door.
“...Mum, can I have a minute?” Niamh asked as she approached her.
Her mum gave her a quick nod.
“I just want to talk about school” Niamh muttered. 
“Okay... what about it?” her mother asked blankly. 
Niamh looked to the ground unsurely, she hadn't really given what she wanted to say much thought, it was more of a feeling she had, almost guilt
“...Niamh, it's fine” her mum said with a smirk.
“What?” Niamh gave her a funny look. “...Really? It was that easy?”
“Yep” Louise laughed. “You and your father helped me to see things a little better” she explained as she threw her bag over her shoulders, looking down the hall at her husband coming towards them with the lunches in his hands.
“See what exactly...?” Niamh asked, well aware of the time running out.
“That I was worrying over silly things, I had finally got my Niamh back and I just, I didn't want to loose her again, it was selfish and made no sense, you're no more likely to get sick again at school that you are here. Making you stay here when you clearly didn't want would be the thing that made things worse” her mum told her with a sweet smile.
Niamh was pleasantly surprised how well her mother was taking it, even if she did have an open enough mind to see something in a different way to her first impression, it wasn't often that she's actually admit it, but at the end of the day it was always Niamh who she was looking out for and she just wanted things to go well for her, especially after all she had been through.  
“Well, that's good, thank you” she muttered shyly after a second. 
“...Have a good day, I'll see you later” Louise gave her daughter a grin, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek before turning to the door.
“Have fun, darling” Graham muttered the last minute with a loving tap on her shoulder before following his wife out of the door.
Hopefully everything that day was going to be as easy as that, then Niamh really wouldn't have had anything to worry about and would be able to continue to build her new normal life she had planned without anything getting in the way. 

On her way, as she walked just down the road to the bus stop around the corner of the block she forgot about the other girls completely and instead only thought back to Cammie and Madison, she was excited to see them, to catch up with them after all the time she had spent apart. Once she had reached the stop and had some more time to think she even started planning some things that they could potentially do together now that able was finally able.
It wasn't until there was only a few minutes left before the bus was due that Niamh pulled herself away from her thoughts, only then realizing that Noah was still strangely nowhere to be seen. Niamh couldn't help but wonder where he was, why he wasn't there yet, she found herself unable to stay still, her eyes searching for him. She wasn't exactly sure why, she had decided to exist beside him, that was all,  that didn't mean he was her responsibly or that she had to think of him at all really but she couldn't seem to stop herself. It wasn't until only a minute to spare out of the corner of her eye, Niamh saw Noah running towards her, dressed in his uniform with of course his hair perfectly gelled.
She was relieved to see him, she couldn't be sure of why she was feeling all she was towards him, but she was definitely sure she was feeling it. It wasn't something she could put a name to, it wasn't anything in particular, it was just that for some reason or another she couldn't help but like Noah, despite how annoying and rude he could be, there was something about him that she liked, that interested her.
Of course Niamh wouldn't tell him any of that and as soon as he had noticed her she wiped the look away.
Without a word, Noah stood right beside her, looking down at her with a quick smirk after a second.
“...What?” she asked giving him an awkward look. 
“I've just never seen anyone look so happy to be going to school before...” he said blankly as he continued to stare.
“...Well no one you know has been taught by their dad for the last year”
“Oh god, I can't even imagine being taught by my mums, they wouldn't let me get away with anything, but I would think you wouldn't have to worry about that, would you? So what was the problem? He's a teacher right?...” Noah asked seeming genuinely interested.
Niamh watched him blankly for a second before responding, trying to work out exactly why she was talking to him.
“...He teaches reception” Niamh smirked. “So if I wanted to learn colours and shapes he would be perfect, the oldest kids he taught are ten year olds, he's not at all at secondary level”  
“So he was the one that taught you your awesome dance moves then?” Noah asked in fake realization, teasing her as he suppressed his large smile.
Niamh can't help but react, by letting out a little giggle despite her efforts not to encourage him, thankfully before he got the wrong idea the bus turned up.
Noah waited for her to approach the door before smiling to himself and following.
Of course he didn't ever miss a chance, as soon as he climbed up the few steps and looked up into the bus after scanning his card and saw that there was a place for him beside Niamh, he sat down right beside her.
“I wonder if we have any classes together...”
“I hope not” Niamh joked, grinning as her head turned back to the window.
Noah watched her blankly for a second before a smile grew on his face, feeling very content sat there with her, not speaking much more for the rest of the ride.

They lived on a very nice road in a quiet suburban area, just off the side from the big city which was only a short train ride away, so there wasn't much to look at, apart from all the parents walking hand in hand with their children, making their way to the primary school which wasn't only on the next street. It was friendlier than most places, there was a very community feel as everyone would get involved in all the in and outs of the way it was run, mostly middle aged parents with school kids. All the streets were practically immaculate, there was a drop of litter or a spot of graffiti anywhere. The air was clean and fresh, the trees were vibrant and all the front gardens were mowed perfectly and a lot of the houses had flowers planted, making the street colourful, bright and inviting. 

Once they arrived at school, the second Niamh walked through the gate she saw her friend group, they were exactly where they always were, nothing had changed, it was the very same place, on the concrete stairs to the right of the building, that lead up to the grassed area.
Niamh looked over at the for a minute, happily trying to spot Madison and Cammie. There were only eight of them so it didn't take long, but the second Niamh saw them her smile dropped, they were both sat there laughing with Abigail, the girl who had basically deemed herself leader of the group, she was the one that the others followed and the one who had brought everyone to together on those first few days at GardenPark. She was very pretty, the prettiest out of them all in her eyes, tall and slim with long straightened black hair down to her waist, round dark brown eyes and flawless black skin.
The girls looked happy with her, causing Niamh to doubt her previous thoughts, she assumed Cammie and Madison would happily walk off with her and leave Abigail and the other girls behind like she wanted. To make that even worse as she stood there at the gate she was sure Madison had noticed her and yet, she didn't react at all.
Madison was the short girl with long, curly, fluffy blonde hair, baby blue eyes and a very pretty, girly face and Cammie, the taller, Japanese one with short black hair tied up in a high pony tail, big glasses and a sort of grown up look about her.

By then Noah had caught up and had stopped there next to her, observing her face, trying to figure out why she had stopped.
“What's wrong?” he asked in confusion after a second.
“...Nothing” Niamh muttered quietly after a second, her voice empty and void of energy. She was trying not to let it bother her, it wasn't like she thought it was fool proof, she had had her suspicions, she knew full well there was likely an specific reason behind them stopping their visits.    
“...Niamh, something is clearly wrong” Noah wasn't fooling for it. He continued to watch her for a moment longer before following her fragmented eye line.“Are they your friends?” he asked curiously as the puzzle pieces weren't quite fitting together. He knew those girls, maybe not well, but well enough, enough to know how different Niamh was from them. From what he could see Niamh was a sweet and kind person, she had bees, her parents were school teachers, Niamh liked to follow rules, she cared about things, succeeding in life, the planet, humanity, where as those girls cared about nothing, except boys, parties and alcohol.
“...They were” Niamh muttered, looking up at him for just a second with a frown, grieving only for her lost friendships with Cammie and Madison and the versions of them that seemed to have died while she was gone.
“What happened?” Noah asked blankly, watching the group as he spoke.
“I don't know, things just, stopped, I guess they decided they don't like me anymore...” she told him with a smirk, trying not to let it bother her. Of course she knew more than she was letting on, not for sure, but she had her theories, most of them to do with Abigail, Abigail never really cared about Niamh, nor Cammie and Madison for that matter, not really; sure she'd talk to them, hang out with them everyday and call them 'friends' but really they were just her puppets. All Abigail did was get them in trouble, manipulate them, make them do things that didn't want to, boss them about and change so they'd be just as screwed up as her. If one of them got caught, if one of them stood up for themselves, refusing her wishes she stopped them in a heartbeat, that was made clear to Niamh in hospital, Abigail came to visit her once before realizing how boring hospitals are and never came again, she had almost been blinded to it before, fooled into believing she was actually the person Abigail had molded her to be. 
They were all naive ten year olds at the time, ten year olds that had seen way too many American, teenage, high school movies, movies where popularity meant everything, movies that told you you needed to act a certain way, to be seen a certain way to fit in and that fitting in was the most important thing, it seemed Cammie and Madison were still just as naive. On their first day at Gardenpark, in year seven that was their main goal, for everyone to know their name, unlike in primary school when it was just the three of them, minding their own business and keeping to themselves.
“Well, if you ask me, you're not missing out” Noah muttered, looking back down to Niamh.
“That's half true” Niamh mumbled with a slight smirk. “I don't have any other friends...”
“That's not true you have me” Noah told her with a grin.
Niamh just gave him a funny look, assuming he was being sarcastic.
“No...seriously, come on, come hang out with my friends” he added, that time with kind smile. 
Niamh watched him for a second blankly before mentally agreeing to the terms, it wasn't even just that she felt like she had no other choice, those girls had been her only friends for six years, that it was either him or spend the whole day alone, she actually liked the sound of it, especially because of the way Noah had been treating her today.
“Thank you” she smirked after a moment before he lead her away from the gate, through the crowd of students, across the concrete and towards his group of friends in the bottom left corner against the fence. 

His friends were strangely exactly how Niamh had pictured, all very similar to Noah, there were three of them, two boys, Nick and Lewis and a girl, Nora.
Nick had dirty blond hair, parted at the side, sweeping over, with rosy cheeks and small piecing blue eyes, he had multiple piercings on his face, two lip rings and one above his eyebrow, as well as a set of black studs in his ears and an over flowing wrist of bracelets. Lewis was very tall, the tallest out of them all, with a mass of brown frizzy hair on the top of his head, the sides shaved, with almost black eyes and thick busy eyebrows and Nora was short and petite, with bright blue, shoulder length hair and a full fridge, accentuating her matching blue eyes and her pale, ghost white skin, she too had a lip ring.

As Noah introduced Niamh to them, Niamh already had her doubts, she could see the surprised look on his friends faces, she couldn't be sure why, but of course her head jumped to the worse conclusion, they were judging her, she was different to them, that was obvious just from the way they carried themselves, she had seen a similar look before from her friends, the way they'd look at pretty much everyone else in the school.
Niamh found them to be intimidating, which was something she most definitely didn't want in a friend, she didn't know them and already she felt she didn't fit in.

She had nothing to worry about, they were all actually very sweet people, the sort of friends Niamh should have had in the first place, they didn't judge, they were all very laid back and free spirited like Noah. They did mostly what they wanted and didn't care what anyone thought of it, but they cared about how others felt, they would never force Niamh to do anything she didn't want to do, they wouldn't pull her down with them like Abigail would have, but Niamh didn't stay around long enough to find out. 
Once again, just like with Noah she hadn't given them a chance, she got scared, scared of her old self, again, because of the idea of them she was projecting and her desperate need to keep her nose clean.
Lewis was the first one to speak up to her, being very friendly and smiley, but to her it sounded muffled and inaudible, she was too deep in her head, out of her depths. Despite being with a group of people, she felt alone, it was understandable, in a place she knew so well, everything was so new to her, so much had changed since last time she walked through those gates, not only was the school filled with strangers, she was a stranger. All that time she thought she was getting her life back, when really, it was more like starting all over again and the whole situation was starting to feel a little overwhelming, to the point where Niamh even began to second guess her decision to go back. “I'm sorry” Niamh cried out all of a sudden, abruptly turning away and fleeing  from them, unsure of where she was going but needing to go somewhere, if she didn't she feared she'd faint her breathing was so heavy.

“Niamh...” Noah called out, rushing after her.“What are you doing?” he asked blankly with narrow eyes, taking a hold of her arm.
Niamh took just a second to calm herself before managing to turn back to him.
“Sorry, it was really kind of you to let me hang out with you guys, but, it's okay, you don't have to look after me”
“I'm not looking after you, I was, trying to be nice”
“...Why? Why are you trying to be nice? Why do you care?” Niamh cried, allowing her emotions to control her.
“Niamh” Noah said gently, it was obvious something was wrong, she was acting so out of character.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell” she muttered, bowing her head to the ground.
“Just, just, come back..” Noah told her, not giving up hope.
“No, thanks, it's okay” Niamh smirked, managing to look at him now her head had settled again. “I don't fit in anyway” she told him with a brave smile.
“What do you mean?...” Noah gave her a funny look. “How could you know that? You don't even know them” he laughed.
Niamh didn't want to tell him but she had no choice? “...It's just, your friends, they're not really the type of people I want to be around” Niamh admitted, she knew he wouldn't take it well, there was more to it than that.
“What's that suppose to mean? What's wrong with them?” Noah laughed again, unable to understand the problem.
“I don't know, they're... rebellious” Niamh muttered, suppressing her guilt.
Noah gave her a funny look.
“I don't want to... to get in trouble, that's all” Niamh explained, trying to make things a little better.
“Get in trouble?” Noah muttered with narrow eyes. He watched her for a minute in confusion as he thought a little more into it, realizing just what she meant.
“Suit yourself then” he smirked dishearteningly to himself. “If you would prefer to hang out with those girls other there, those girls who only care about what's on the outside, how much money someone has and how big their house is so they can throw a party every week, those good for nothings, then go and do that because clearly, you're just like them...but good luck with that” Noah muttered in disappointment before turning away and going back to his friends.
He didn't understand, there was more to it than that, Niamh wasn't judging them, she had nothing against them, there was discrimination or looking down on them, but she didn't say anything, it was easier like that, if he just believed that that was the problem. She didn't deserve for him to be made or disappointment in her but she couldn't blame him, she had given him a good reason to be, in fact, she even admired him a little for it. 
Instead of cowering over to her old group in fear of being alone, the group who by at that point had all clearly seen her, or giving up on the life she was creating and heading back home, which she could have easier done, Niamh found a bench to sit on alone as she waited for the bell to go off, to go inside. It wasn't at all how she had pictured school going, it made it all quite pointless, if she was going to be alone and have no friends she might as well have agreed to be home schooled. She was at school to feel normal again, it had nothing to do with her life wishes, it was only for the rest of the year, but at that point she felt like an alien, which wasn't helped by the fact that right across from her, she could see her old group of friends looking at her and pointing. They were definitely talking about her, but she didn't care anymore, all it did was remind her that she had made a good choice to steer clear from them, even if it meant being alone, she just looked away. 
The girls meant nothing to her anymore, not even Cammie and Madison, as it seemed now they were just as bad as the others, that unlike Niamh there was no kindness hidden under the heavy makeup, against school regulation exterior and the look of superiority. She knew for sure those weren't the kind of people she wanted to be friends with, they hadn't changed at all.
Unlike the girls, Noah seemed to be ignoring her, that's what worried Niamh the most, she began to question her previous actions, whether she had made the right choice or not, he was right about her not knowing them, she hadn't even given them a chance, but he wasn't all bad, she had panicked, but it was too late now.
She hadn't learned from her time with Noah, her opinion of him had improved drastically from her first encounter with him, sure he was still very outspoken, and arrogant but he had a heart, he cared about things, something that didn't come across the first meeting.
As she sat there with time to think, Niamh decided she wasn't going to give up on school that easily, or Noah's group either, she wasn't going to let those talkative girls win, let evil trump her newly embraced kindness. It was only the first day, she still had time to make friends, friends that matched up to her high standards, although that didn't make being alone any easier. 

In class it was okay, the teachers were there to entertain her, it didn't matter that she had no one to talk to or hang out with, it wasn't that she needed friends to function or needed them at all to be the person she wanted to be, but without them there was no point in being there. Without them home school was by far the best option as with that she would also have more time to focus on being better, without the need for friends and a social life, she could dedicate all her time to helping, instead of just a few hours after school like she had planned now. 
Thankfully though, in her last class before lunch there was a seat free beside another student who hopefully she could talk to and maybe get along with.
His name was Benjamin Taylor, he had been at the school for as long as Niamh but she had hardly spoken to him, of course she hadn't, he didn't match up to Abigail's friend standard. He was an athlete, a runner, so he was very tall and skinny, with big brown eyes, frizzy black hair and a friendly smile. Benjamin seemed very laid back and gentle natured, something Niamh liked about him straight away, he had a small group of friends that Niamh's group never took much notice of, all very into sport, something Abigail did not like. They weren't loners, or particularly eye catching, just kinds of in the middle, happy to ignore the raking system only Niamh's old friends would go by, as now out of under their shadow, Niamh was noticing.
Benjamin was welcoming and kind to her, happily making space beside him for her to sit down  as she shown up at the desk he was at and later on, he even invited her to sit with him and his friends in the canteen after learning Niamh had no one else to sit with, which of course she gratefully accepted. It was the first thing that had gone right since she had watched her parents leave that morning.

She sat down with the all at a table after Benjamin introduced her, happily listening to them chat amongst themselves, not really joining in or opening up, they mostly talked about spots, something Niamh knew nothing of, but she was happy for the company. She only vaguely answered the few questions she was asked, they were things she wasn't particularly willing to talk about, like where she had been all that time, something only her old friends and Noah knew, why she had didn't want to sit with her old group... unwillingly giving off the impression that she didn't want to talk, when that wasn't at all the case, she just didn't know how to talk to them. It was obvious that she didn't fit in with them either, causing her to wonder whether this new Niamh had a place anywhere at school, not at all helping with her doubts.
Once they left the canteen she was once again unsure of what to do, she was a stray puppy with no home, looking around at all the settled, happy families around her. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy the boys company but she of course knew it wasn't a solution to her problem, that their friendship probably wouldn't last longer than just that day, after all, it was only out of convenience to her and pity from them that she even sat down with them in the first place.

One of the boys, Ross made a little more effort to talk to her after that, maybe her mind split mindset was more obvious than she thought. Just like Benjamin, he too was very tall, but much bulkier than his friend, he had a kind face, a sort of goofy look that Niamh found quite endearing, with big ears and a very round, soft, golden blonde head of hair and very long eyelashes framing his warm brown eyes. He took more of an interest in her than the others, sparking up a conversation with her, talking about Cammie as the two of them grew up next door to each other. Despite the fact Cammie rarely spoke to him nowadays, he seemed to have a lot to say about her, telling Niamh all about how different she was now, like another person, something Niamh had already noticed from just one look at her.

Niamh spoke to him for the rest of the lunch break and continued on after that as the two of them had their next class together. After it had finished and Niamh walked out with him, just as she was about to say goodbye and them walk their separate ways she was greeted by the last two people she expected to see. Cammie and Madison were standing there outside the class door, seeming to be waiting for her.
Niamh couldn't be sure if they actually were or not, whether it was just a coincidence, it didn't really matter either way though, she had no interest in talking to them, or so she told herself, they had had a few chances at that point to come and talk to her but hadn't taking any of them and Niamh wouldn't forget that.
She just held her head high and walked past them and into the toilet which just second later they followed her into.
Niamh closed herself in one of the stalls, working out what to do while she was inside. Although they hadn't been the best friends the decision wasn't as easy as she would have liked it to be. She didn't know what they wanted, whether they came to apologize, realizing they had made a mistake and wanted to rekindle their friendship, or whether they had some sort of lousy excuse to make, in which that case nothing would change between them, but that wasn't the only problem, Niamh was having trouble letting go of them. As much as she hated it, she still loved them and had many happy memories of them and couldn't help but hold onto to who they used to be, who she wanted them to be again and hoped they still were those same girls from primary school inside and had yet to be fully corrupted.
Niamh took one look at them once she had come out from the stall, watching them in silence for just as second as they both stood there side by side uncomfortably before she then went to walk out the room, hoping to spark at least some sort of reaction.
“...Niamh” Cammie cried out, taking her arm before it was too late.
“What?” Niamh asked blankly.
Cammie stumbled over her words for a second.
“What is it?” Niamh asked, trying her best to keep her mind clear, still at that point she couldn't be sure what was happening.
“...Abigail said we can't” Cammie muttered blankly.
“...What...?” Niamh asked, giving her a funny look, unsure of what that meant.
“...The reason we've been ignoring you, Abigail said we can't talk to you” Madison added.
“Alright...” Niamh said looking down to the floor, if she had gotten her hopes up she would have been disappointed, it was an excuse, like she had predicted, there was no real reason she could accept, just like she feared Cammie and Madison had just dumped her, it didn't matter if there was more to it or not, it was simple, they didn't care enough about her to do anything about it, therefore Niamh wasn't interested in being their friend again, even if they wanted that. If Cammie and Madison were still the same girls Niamh knew at primary school, the nice, sweet girls, rather than the people Abigail had made them into, they would have gone to see her in hospital, not caring what Abigail had said or keeping their friendship with her.
“She thinks you're sabotaging her” Cammie explained. It was hard to tell by her discouraged mood whether she was suppose to be telling her that, or if she was just too ashamed of herself and what she was doing, but she didn't seem to be stopping. 
“...What?” Niamh laughed, giving her old friend a funny look. “Sabotaging her how?”
“I don't know, she thinks, she thinks that you are going to use your surgery as a pity story or something...”
“...And you believe her?” Niamh asked blankly. 
“No, of course not. It's just, you've only been back for a day and you've already started talking to all these people you never spoke to before...” Cammie muttered, looking even more uncomfortable than she did before.
“...Boys” Madison added. 
“That's ridiculous, the only reason I even spoke to Benjamin, Ross, Daniel and Nathan was because you and Madison were ignoring me”
“It's not them that she's unhappy about... It's Noah Owens” Madison explained as Cammie went quiet.
“..What?” Niamh laughed. “She likes Noah?”
“She's been trying to get him to go out with her since he started” Madison told her.
“Look, I don't want to be friends with Noah, I just want to be friends with you guys, my real friends and not Abigail and the others. Like it used to be, I've missed you guys” Niamh admitted, she didn't expect to get anything from it, she wasn't even sure she wanted anything anymore but she couldn't help herself. 
Cammie and Madison shared a blank look.
“...You don't have to do what Abigail says you know? You have your own brains” she added, allowing her heart to take over.
“Seriously? You used to do everything Abigail said, too? It was a decision that we made together when we started here remember?” Cammie cried out after a second, her uncomfortable look dropping away and being replaced by slight irritation. “Just because you almost died and have seen the light, or whatever and no longer care about that stuff, because it's not important to you, because next to death, being popular is nothing... doesn't mean we feel the same. You were right before, we do have our own brains” Cammie told her, seeming to be taking it the wrong way.
“So why don't you want to be friends anymore?” Niamh asked, her head dropping to the ground. If they had their own brains, if they weren't just doing it because Abigail said to, then why were they?
“...Because you've changed, Niamh” Madison muttered.
“Abigail wanted us to stop visiting you at the hospital way before we stopped coming, she didn't like it there, she said it was depressing and boring. We didn't listen, because you were our friend and we wanted to be there for you, even if Abigail didn't like that, we chose you, but then slowly, you weren't you anymore” 
“I wasn't me anymore? Because I was sick? Because I was stuck in bed or just in the hospital and couldn't go out partying with you guys anymore, I couldn't get drunk every Friday night and flirt with the boys that Abigail picked for us?” Niamh started to get annoyed.
“No, of course not, that wasn't it. It was that all you ever talked about was what you were going to do when you got out, when you got your new heart, you said you didn't want to waste your life like you had before, you wanted to do more than just hang out with us, like we were bad for you, that we were only a negative impact on your life. Niamh, you made us feel worthless, that just because we were happy to be teenagers, to just have fun that we were bad people because of that” Cammie explained.
“... I didn't, I didn't know that that was how you felt, that I was upsetting you by saying that, I'm sorry. That wasn't what I meant, it had nothing to do with guys, it was just me wanting to be better...” Niamh told them honestly, her eyes flickering between them and the floor, her anger fading. She really had never seen it that way and although that didn't mean that she had instantly automatically forgiven them, she was being to come around, her hurting their feelings was a good reason to break their friendship, if she had known what she was doing to them she would have tried to fix it sooner but still, she felt she had done nothing wrong. 
“It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter if you're sorry, if it wasn't what you meant to do, it changes nothing. You're not the same person you used to be...” 
“Do you even remember how I used to be? Because that was the real me, the person I was before my surgery wasn't me either. Abigail made us all into people we weren't?” Niamh asked with sorrowful eyes, she could now see that those two preteen girls had gone and they weren't coming back like she had.
“...I like who Abigail made me into, I like who I am now Niamh, I like my life, if you didn't, then I'm glad for you, bow you can be who you are, but that doesn't mean I like who you are...” Cammie admitted.“You think you're better than us, Niamh, than everyone else, that's only been confirmed in the last five minutes, I don't want to be friends with someone that judges me, if you don't like our life, that's fine, you don't have to live it, but don't tell me what I should and shouldn't do” Cammie cried out as she went to turn to the door.
Madison seemed just slightly reluctant at first before she then turned away too. 
“...I'm, I'm sorry, Niamh, but she's right” Madison muttered with her face to the door before following Cammie out.
“Maybe I think I'm better than you because I am, because I care, that's not a bad thing, you should try it sometime” Niamh yelled at them down the hall as they walked away, only breaking into tears of anger after they had walked around the corner and she could no longer see them, full of frustration, mostly that she had let them effect her.
Of Course, the very moment she couldn't hold herself together any longer the last person she wanted to see came in to her eye line.
As she turned slightly, stepping back against the wall, the moment before her face dropped down into her hands, Noah came around the corner, walking down the corridor to get to class before the bell went off.
He saw her, it was obvious he had, his eyes locked onto hers as he walked past, yet he did nothing, his face stayed like stone and he just carried on walking down the hall.
What Niamh had said about his friends wasn't fair but was it really that bad that he would leave her standing there like that because of it? 

She watched him for as long as she could before she decided she couldn't take it any longer, Madison and Cammie had their reasons for not wanting to be her friend anymore, but she had barely done a thing to Noah. Niamh knew she was wrong to have blown them off, because of stupid, selfish things she had assumed of them, she needed Noah to know that. It made sense that he was upset by what she had done, annoyed with her even, as in his eyes the nice girl he had met, the sweet, kind girl who he couldn't help but want to protect, had shown herself to be nasty and judgmental just like the other girls, making him feel he had completely misjudged her. That was what Noah liked about her after all, how different she was from the others, the girls had told Niamh before in the toilets how Abigail fancied Noah but he payed her no interest what so ever, she was a good looking girl, a lot of other boys would have given their life for her to be interested in them, yet Noah couldn't have been any less interested in her. Abigail was insensitive, self entitled...a lot of the very same first impressions Niamh had had about Noah, a big part of what had scared her off, thinking he was the same as Abigail. Noah liked Niamh because she was kind, sweet and caring, a lot of things he was behind that sarcastic, arrogant act he liked to put on, a defense mechanism for the most part; he had made a joke about it before, he had said that he liked her and that she fascinated him, but actually, it was completely sincere, because Niamh was the actually good hearted person he wished he could be inside, but that he instead, until very recently, hid. 

Niamh didn't expect him to just accept an apology, for her to just explain herself and for him to sweep all that had happened since under the rug and drag her back to his friend group, but she couldn't have another situation like she had experienced with Cammie and Madison, another misunderstanding.
Then, at least Noah would know that she meant no harm by what what she had done, that she didn't mean to upset anyone and that she was actually sorry about it, meaning that even if he didn't come around straight away, he maybe could forgive her eventually after she had further proven herself, as appose to right now when he saw her as a bad person, a liar, pretending to be someone she wasn't, someone he couldn't trust, someone like Abigail.

“Noah?” Niamh cried out as she rushed after him, following him to his next class, completely ignoring her timetable. “...Noah, please let stop, I need to talk to you” she begged as he continued to speed down the corridor.
After a moment he stopped, freezing there smack-dab in the middle as others weaved around him. He let out a loud exhale before slowly turning around to face her.
“...Trying to be friends with them again I see” he smirked to himself shaking his head with what seemed to be an amused smile on his lips.
“What...?” Niamh's eyes narrowed, only just getting over her initial relief, worried that she might have had to wait even longer to let him know what deep down she had wanted to do all day, attempt to make things right between them. 
“Those good for nothings, scum” Noah said with a quick exaggerated smile.
“...It's not like that, they weren't like that” Niamh muttered, her head dropping to the floor. “Cammie and Madison aren't... weren't like the others, they were the good ones that got pulled along with Abigail” 
Noah just laughed to himself.
“Kind of makes me feel less annoyed about you insulting my friends, you clearly have bad taste in people...” 
“I don't have bad taste in people, why do you think I'm not friends with Abigail and the others anymore, it was just Cammie and Madison, I was holding out apparently misplaced hope for them” Niamh explained.
Noah laughed again, seeming to be finding it all quite amusing, only encouraging Niamh to try harder and feeding her determination.
“...Niamh, the fact that they would go anywhere near Abigail in the first place says all I need to know about them, they were never the good ones, Niamh” Noah told her, keeping eye contact for a moment, without a blink before he realized what he was doing and stopped, paying her too much attention.    “That goes for you too, I've been hearing a lot about you today” he said with a big clearly fake grin before he went to turn away.
“They said I think I'm better than them” Niamh cried out, causing him to freeze. “They said that I think I'm better than them so clearly, I'm not like them? That's why they don't want to be friends with me anymore, because I'm not like them” she added with narrow eyes.
“The fact that 'you' think it doesn't mean it's true...”
“I said that's what they think I think, it's not actually what I think...” Niamh muttered starting to get a little confused.
“...You do think that, though, everyone's too good for you” Noah told her blankly.
Niamh didn't say anything, she just watch him closely for a moment while she thought a little more about it. If Noah thought that too maybe it was true? It did make sense, it wasn't hard to figure out why they would think that but is that what she actually thought and just didn't realize? She had told herself the reason she didn't want to be friends with them is because they were different, they were people she didn't want to be like, there was nothing wrong with her wanting to be herself, the best version of that person she could be but was that person necessarily better than the others? Niamh cared so much about things and she wanted to do all she could to change them, she was a good person, but did caring a little less than her and wanting things to change but not actually helping to do that make them bad? It was something she hadn't really thought much about.
“...I've got to get to class” Noah muttered after a second of watching her, interrupting her thoughts, before walking off leaving her in the silence.
Unable to find any answers to her questions Niamh pulled her head up and followed after him.
“...So, you're not only going to judge me on one little mistake, which it was, a mistake, for a decent reason, maybe not the best or the right reason, but an understandable, even maybe admirable one? You're also actually listening to what other people are saying about someone I'm not anymore, than actually making your own mind up?” she cried out just before Noah walked through the doorway to his classroom.
Noah's face went blank as now he too had something to think about in class, leaving them both with questions to ask themselves.

Even when Niamh got home she hadn't figured things out, she wasn't at all sure what to think anymore, her whole point of view had been blurred and she was struggling to make things out. Her whole self designated mission to be this perfect human being had now been stabbed and was full of holes. For all of that time had she let it consume her? Was allowing it to do that a bad thing? Maybe she'd be alone forever, because no one wants to be friends with someone who sees themselves to be better than them, but actually being better than them was surely a good thing, which was the cause of confusion. Being better than them meant she was kinder, more caring, more willing to help...none of those things were bad. It was only the showing it, causing people to think she saw herself that way that did upset them. 

Mrs Newton asked her daughter a very helpful question the second she walked through the door, she asked her how her day had been.
At first, Niamh didn't answer, unsure of what to say. It hadn't particularly been a good first day, but first days tend to go that way, but it was then that her view of it changed. Niamh had learned a lot already, been given a lot to think about and that itself had changed her mind. No she didn't really make any friends, she didn't fully feel like she had gotten her life back after almost loosing it, she didn't achieve anything she had hoped for from going back, but she had achieved something, quenching her worry from before. It wasn't pointless being there, it was an opportunity to grow, to learn more about herself and to guide her towards the person she wanted to be and that was something she couldn't just give up on for home school, even if Madison and Cammie weren't by her side like she had hoped for. 

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Chapter 3: Just a smile

It had been a few days that Niamh had been back at school now, there hadn't been an enormous amount of improvement since the first day when it came to Madison, Cammie or Noah, but some things had already changed for the better. Niamh had joined the schools eco club, a club perfect for her, where they went out on the streets after school to clear up litter, plant flowers... things to help the environment. She had only gone to one meeting but had  started talking to a couple of girls there, Sophie and Lara, girls who Niamh hoped to become friends with in time, but it had only been a day so far.

In that short amount of time Cammie and Madison had given her the occasional glance or had happened to pass her in the corridor but other than that, hadn't given her any reason to think that they would ever change their minds on what they had said. While Noah had pretty much completely ignored her, it seemed he was making a conscience effort to achieve that, as Niamh would only ever see him at the bus stop twice a day, it was like he wasn't even at school at all. By that point Niamh had no idea what was going through his head, she understood his reasons behind not wanting to be friends with her after all, she understand why he believed what he did about her, but what she didn't quite understand was why he was making such a big deal out of it. Maybe it was just her, maybe unconsciously she had been the one avoiding him, if he didn't want to be friends, that was fine, by why would he go to such extents to stay away from her? Was it to make her suffer? Niamh had made her reasons clear, she was sure he understood all that she had said to him and maybe even believed most of it, but for some reason his feelings hadn't changed towards her and he was still so completely against not wanting to give her a chance. After a few days Niamh more or less stopped thinking about it, it seemed to be what he wanted and although she would have liked for him to explain, for some answers, she had made peace with it and it also helped with Abigail. Cammie and Madison had told her before how Abigail didn't like Niamh hanging around Noah because she liked him, although if things had turned out differently, Niamh wouldn't have listened to her, she couldn't deny that it made things easier in that perceptive. Niamh had seen what Abigail was like when things didn't go her way, she couldn't be sure exactly what she would do, but Abigail Horan was a mean, spoiled, petty girl so there was no doubt, she would do something. A trait Abigail was known for was her extraordinary ability to believe the world revolved around her, not only in the way some others do, more metaphorically than literally, when it seems like they think that when really they obviously don't, sometimes with Abigail you'd think she fully believed it. Unfortunately she wasn't the only one to blame for that, it wasn't like she became like that on her own, even Niamh had a small part to do with it, as did the other girls in the group, Abigail for some reason or another had been deemed their queen and they were her subjects, something she took great pride in and ate up every little piece of. As with any other queen, if anyone were to threaten what she had, what she had made for herself and what she desired, there would be a price to pay. In the past things had gotten out of hand, there were a few incidences that had taken place in the completely absurd world those girls lived in, to name a few, there was the time Jenna Claire wore the same dress as Abigail to the school dance and Abigail covered it in coke, then when Abigail's friend cheated with Abigail's boyfriend, Abigail shaved her hair in her sleep, causing her boyfriend to dump the friend as well as Abigail dumping him. 
Niamh was the only smart one, smart enough to realize how horrible Abigail was and how better off she was without her, Niamh was now building a world of her own instead, the complete opposite of Abigail's, where nothing like that would ever happen, something that could be more easily achieved if Abigail had no reason to come anywhere near her. 

After school that day, unlike the others, Niamh actually had some plans, she was going back to the hospital to visit one of her close friends she had made there, Oliver. He had been there for almost as long as her and was actually the person who had inspired her. Unlike Niamh, it was unlikely he would ever get out, there was no cure for what he had and he would only get worse, he was never allowed to set foot outside of the hospital, but it wasn't to do with his parents, like it was with Niamh, he wasn't well enough. Despite his situation he was one of the most happiness, life loving people you would ever meet, always will a cheeky smile on his face, laughing and making jokes.

If someone were to tell her that she would be happy to go back to that place, that she would have spent all day eager to return just a week after having left, she would have never believed it, she had been looking forward to seeing everyone again, especially Oliver. Although she had made a few other friends there too of course that she was looking forward to seeing as well, Lucy and Tom were along side Oliver on her list.  Niamh liked to think of Oliver as her spirit guide, if it wasn't for him she would have gone crazy stuck there in the hospital but because of her wise, little friend she came out a strong person, full of determination and because of that just the thought of him was a comfort to her.

Something she wasn't looking forward to however, something she had been trying to forget about was the main reason she was actually going, a thought she had been trying to replace with the excitement of seeing her friends. 
Niamh had an appointment that Thursday afternoon, it would be her first time seeing a doctor since she had left. As she had still only had her new heart for under a year, she still had to go to the Clinic once a month for checkups, to make sure everything was alright and a biopsy every other month, whereas under six she had to have biopsy's every month hence why her mother kept her there in the recovery ward of the hospital for longer than she really needed to be. Although the procedure was only ever done under local anesthetic, meaning it wasn't necessarily major, Louise was more comfortable with her daughter being under minor observation while they happened so often in the first months
Niamh hadn't told anyone she was going, she wasn't scheduled to see her doctor again for another week at all, she had made the appointment by herself, keeping it secret from her mother as she didn't want to worry her. The appointment wasn't needed and it was very random. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with her, she hadn't really had any issues at all with her, heart, after matching with a donor there were no more complications. Throughout the whole process, since the beginning Niamh had been very calm about it all, almost strangely so, her mother worried enough for the whole family, she never moaned, she never made a big deal about any of it, she never really experienced much pain, but of course her heart was still failing and without the translate she would have died. She was strong and brave and for whatever reason death didn't scare her, not that worrying and fear were bad, but neither made anything better, it was easier to just go with the flow, taking everything as it came. However what was happening to her now, the reason for her phone call was a bad feeling, again, not necessarily pain, just something not quite feeling right. For the first time when it came to her health Niamh felt scared, she was worried, she finally had something worth while to loose. Whether their was actually a problem or if it was just in her head was yet to be determined, Niamh was well aware of all the stress she had been under, starting school, dealing with her old friends and the roller coaster Noah sent her on, her heart was still at risk, any of those things could potentially harm her and she knew that. It was possible Niamh was taking a page out of her mothers book, overreacting, hence why she kept it a secret from her, she would only make it worse. 
Louise hated everything about Niamh being sick, that was normal, no parent wants that, but it was abundantly clear just how over the top Louise was about it, until there was something for Niamh to tell her, there was no reason she needed to know, she'd see the doctor first. Louise had punished herself from the start, ever since they first found out about Niamh's condition, for anything she could, she blamed herself for maybe doing something wrong to cause her child the issues, her genetics, but especially how she hadn't noticed anything wrong with her daughter before Niamh mentioned it. It was a completely unrealistic worry, none of those things had caused it, it had just happened and there was nothing anyone could have done to stop it from happening. The last thing Niamh wanted was to tell her mother about her worry when she didn't know for sure if anything was actually wrong and for her mother to go into panic mode and force her to go back to the hospital, where then she'd want all the tests to be run and all the precautions to be made. It was still only under a week since Niamh had left, since she had gotten her life back, she didn't want to go straight back to round one.

Despite her strong attempt to only associate that entrance with seeing her friends and not the place were she wasted so much time, Niamh couldn't help but worry she would be stuck there again. The ward she lived on was by no means a horrible place, it wasn't sad or depressing like hospitals can sometimes be, everyone there was on their way to getting better, in the last stage of their illness, before they could then go back to their lives, there was no death and rarely a relapse. The ward was more or less like a boarding school dorm, the patients were only there to be safe, there were a few health care assistants to look over them and most of them would see the doctors once a week, they could do whatever they liked in there but there was still the rule that they weren't allowed to leave without permission, which Niamh was not given.
Although Niamh didn't want to go back there, it wasn't the worst thing, what really worried her was walking in and turning to the right instead of going up those steps to the left to the recovery floor, she had to go to the consulting room where Dr Richardson was waiting for her.
With her fingers crossed she took one deep breath and quickly walked inside before she could scare herself anymore, muttering to herself, reminding herself that there was a huge chance absolutely nothing was wrong and that she was just being paranoid, extra cautious as she was fully aware of what she had put herself though in the short amount of time she had been out for.
Niamh didn't wait long at all before she was sat on exam table with Dr Richardson listening to her heart.
Dr Lawrence Richardson had been Niamh's doctor ever since she started having problem with her heart when she was younger so she was very comfortable around him and knew him quite well. He was a very tall, skim man in his early thirties with black frizzy buzz cut hair and a very pretty face, bright shiny eyes and flawless, soft skin. He was a very gentle and sweet man, very honest and straightforward in the way he'd explain things to his patients so perfect for Niamh that particular day. 
He acted out all the necessarily protocols to be sure if there was actually anything to worry about, asked Niamh a variety of different questions, including her mental health and about how things were going at home, before he then came to the conclusion that there wasn't a problem and that in his opinion everything was exactly how it should be. He gave Niamh the option for further examination if she liked, gave her some reassurance, reminding her that her next biopsy was scheduled soon so the very small chance of there being something he hadn't noticed, it would then be obvious. Although even after hearing that, Niamh still couldn't shake the feeling something was wrong, she trusted Dr Richardson and denied the further examination and focused on trying to rewire her head.

Now that was out of the way and Niamh had heard everything she had hoped for she could now enjoy the rest of her time there with her friends.   
Waling into the ward was no longer anything to worry about at all, her slight left over worries were immediately thrown to the side when she walked through the door as there he was, Oliver sitting right there in the lounge, looking to the door, especially for Niamh. 
Oliver was very short and plump with short curly hair, the same colour as Niamh's, he was very pale but his cheeks were always red and rosy and he had the most sparkly dark brown eyes, always so alive with emotion. 
A huge grin grew on her face as she ran into his arms, sharing a warm, cozy bear hug just like always.
“I missed you so much” Oliver cried out in his jolly, singsongy way as he squeezed his friend as tightly as he could.
“I've only been gone since Friday...” Niamh laughed as she wiggled away from him.
“I know, I know but things just haven't been the same since you left” Oliver told her with a sweet smile.
“I would imagine you three haven't had nearly as much fun without me” Niamh joked before her grin soon faded.
Oliver's face seemed to have dropped the second she had said that.
“Oliver, I'm joking” she told him, watching his face closely with a little nervous laugh. 
He looked up to her with sorrowful eyes.
“What is it?” Niamh asked quickly before she could let her fear stop her, she needed to know. “Have things really been that bad without me?”
“...You could say that” Oliver said as he tried his best to be strong for her, looking her in the eyes.
“What, what happened?” Niamh's voice shook as her eyes froze on him.
“...Maybe you should sit down” he muttered after a second, having trouble spitting it out.
“Oliver, what happened? Just tell me?” Niamh cried out sternly.
Again, Oliver couldn't say it, he just stood there stumbling over his words, causing Niamh to seek the information elsewhere, her eyes searching the room. 
“Where, where are Lucy and Tom?” she muttered after a moment after realizing they weren't there, looking back to Oliver.
“Did they leave? Did they get out?” she cried with a hesitant smile. “Oh my god, Oliver, you scared me, I thought the worst. That's good, I mean, not for you...You must feel alone, right?” she smirked.
“They didn't leave...” Oliver told her with a deep, wobbly exhale.
Niamh's smile dropped immediately and her eyes narrowed.
“...Well, where are they then?” she asked with a lifeless laugh. 
“I'm here, Lucy's dead” Tom's voice cried across the room, bluntly. He and Lucy had been together since they had gotten sick, they both had the same kind of cancer and would never leave each other side so it wasn't that he didn't care. 
Tom was always the more serious one, with not much of a sense of humor or fun side, he was never interested in pranks, teasing or any sort of banter, Lucy was the joker, up for anything with not much of a filter and together with Oliver's positivity and all together cheerfulness, they really loosened him up, but it seemed he had now resorted back to his old self. 
“What?” Niamh cried out in shock.
“She died two days ago” Tom told her blankly before lifelessly walking to the sofa in the middle of the room.
“But, but, she was doing okay” Niamh muttered as the tears crept up.
“Apparently not, she didn't tell anyone, she kept it completely to herself” Oliver muttered as his tears began to drop.
“I saw her, I told her that I'd see her soon, she didn't say anything, she let me leave here without knowing...” Niamh's voice wobbled before she fell into Oliver's arms, allowing her sadness to spill out.
Oliver held her tightly for a moment until they both then made their way to the sofa.
It wasn't at all the way Niamh had envisioned her trip to see them again, she had planned to spend a few hours there, catching up, maybe filling her friends in on how her new life was going and she knew from experience how much everyone loved to hear from the old fully recovered residents. Instead she cried until no tears were left and she just went numb, she spent all her time there trying to wrap her head around it, as well as trying to comfort Tom. There wasn't really much she could say, nothing would make anything better, she couldn't talk about herself as she no longer cared about that in the moment, although Oliver did try and get her to, wanting a distraction, nor could she talk about Lucy, it was too recent for them all and all Tom seemed to want to do was play his video game.

It was only under an hour later that Niamh left to go back home, by that point the shock had worn off, it had now fully sunk in, Lucy was no longer alive, it was all she could think about, it blocked out everything else and left her as something unrecognizable. She wasn't herself sitting on that bus, she was no one, there wasn't a single thought in her head about herself, about her own life, only a replay of the last hour on repeat, the bus ride felt like no time at all, where Niamh was time no longer existed.
It wasn't until her last stop when a loud noise came from the back of the bus, just a teenager messing around with his friends, living his life. To make things somehow worse as Niamh reached her very last stop before the bus reached her road now in her conscious, world bound state, she recognized someone waiting at the bus stop. Of course it was Noah, he had such terrible timing, he must have been in town, he was alone with arms full of shopping bags. Luckily, he hadn't noticed her, something finally right with the world. Although Niamh wasn't entirely sure whether that would have even been such a bad thing, he had spend the last few days ignoring her, there was no reason he would now suddenly be interested in what she had to say, or what was going on with her, she couldn't risk him speaking to her. Her chances were slightly heightened by the fact she looked such a mess, her snail snot tears were still shining on her cheeks and her emotions were shaky, it was likely that any small inconvenience or any word she would attempt to mutter at that point would be expressed in full floods of tears, something she didn't want Noah to see, no matter how he would react, whether he had decided to play nice again or not.
If she would have given him a chance and he were to take it, he would have only made things worse either way, she didn't want to have to speak to anyone. So, instead of staying sat down, maybe even hiding her face if maybe that would help, she decided to completely cut it out and get off of the bus, completely eliminating the chance, if she timed it well enough she could have gotten off the back exist while Noah got in at the front. The only good thing about the situation was that finally she was filled with new emotions and new thought that didn't hurt nearly as much as the old ones.
Niamh watched out of the window, making sure she was as low as she could get while still having a clear view of outside as Noah made his way slowly towards the bus, at the very back of a crowd of elderly woman with their large trolleys and handbags in the way.
She had a clear view of Noah, watching his every detail like a spy until he went out of sight, to which Niamh could only imagine he had stepped up onto the bus, so she then fled for the exist. 
She stood there frozen still outside the doors as they closed behind her, making sure to keep her head straight forward in case Noah were to see her through the window now he was inside and recognize her face; not that her bright hair wouldn't have given her away anyway, but it would have been too late for him to do anything about it at that point, whereas if he were to see her face he might still have noticed that she was upset and later tried to talk to her about it or use it against her somehow. 
She stayed there like that until she felt the presence of the bus leave as it went driving down the road.
“Niamh?” someone called out just as she had settled back into herself, now her escape mission was over and she could allow herself to feel again the tears had returned.
She turned around slowly at the sound of her name but it wasn't hard to guess who it was.
It seemed Noah hadn't gotten on the bus after all, he was sitting there at the bus stop with a cigarette in his hand, very casually, watching her.
Why he was talking to her was another easy question to answer, he had seen her at least twice a day, every day since they had last spoken and not said a word, the only difference now was the fact she was crying. Despite Noah not wanting to be her friend and genuinely not caring for her as a person apparently, it seemed maybe he still cared about her welfare, whether he would anyone he knew, even just a little was hard to say though, it could have likely been just his uncontrollable empathy, he couldn't happily leave her there like that. 
Everything Niamh had done in the last few minutes had become completely pointless, there was no point in her even getting off of the bus if Noah wasn't on it so naturally she wasn't too pleased to see him, even less than she would have been before trapped on a bus with him.
“What's wrong?” he muttered, his eyes sparkling and wide, almost fooling her into thinking he actually cared.
“Why didn't you get on the bus?” Niamh asked him blankly through her tears, not even bothering to control them at that point, too upset with a much worse situation to be irritated with him.
“I saw you lining up to get on, why didn't you?”
“I decided to walk instead, there was too many people” Noah told her after a moment.
Niamh watched him for a second before laughing to herself in a very unamused way and walking past him.
Noah immediately jumped up from his red seat and followed after her.
“You didn't answer my question...” he muttered.
Niamh glared at him, stopping, looking down at his cigarette before walking on again.
“Why do you even care?” she cried from ahead. “I thought you didn't like me and didn't want to be friends? That's why you've been avoiding me, right?” she said a she wiped her tears away, again able to escape her previous thoughts for just a short moment.
“I just want to know what's wrong...” Noah told her after a moment of thought. He didn't even know exactly why he was doing what he was doing, that seemed to be a pattern with him, he had decided he didn't want to be friends with Niamh at the first thing she had done that he deemed wrong or misleading and now even if he had changed his mind about her or at least his decision to judge her from just one mistake, he was too stubborn to go back on it.
“Yeah, but why?” Niamh cried in frustration.
Once again Noah went quiet for a moment. “...Maybe I can help” he muttered.
“You can't, no one can help, you're just making it worse. There you go, see, no need to try anymore, you can leave without any guilt because that's exactly what I want you to do”
“No, I can't, I can't leave you like this, I don't know why, okay? But does there have to be a reason?”
“Please?” Niamh cried after a second, throwing her head back with her eyes clenched closed.
Noah didn't move a muscle.
“My friend, my friend is dead, okay? That's it, that's all that there is to it. So, unless you can bring people back to life there's really nothing you can do. Please just leave me alone” Niamh told him as the tears rolled down her face. “Her name was Lucy, I knew she was sick, but she was getting better, she was getting better, everything was going so well, all the doctors were so confident but still, she died and I never got to say goodbye, I never got to be there with her, instead I was at school trying to live a normal life. I didn't think of her once, not even once, happy now? Don't you just feel so much better now you know?” she added, baring her soul as she allowed the tears to consume her, filling her lungs, effecting her breathing and her sobs spilling out with her words.
“...I'm, sorry” Noah said wholeheartedly. 
Niamh gave him a little nod before she took a deep breath and carried on down the street.
“I really am sorry, Niamh” he added as he went to walk on with her, before stopping abruptly barely a second later, bowing his head as he decided not to. 
“...Don't, don't think you're saying that for me” Niamh cried out sternly, turning back to him. “Don't think you're doing this for me, because you're not, you're doing it because you feel bad, just like everyone else because you're not my friend Noah and you don't want to be. You don't actually care about how I feel, you care how it's making you feel, so just, get your life together before you come and interfere with mine” she told him spitefully, taking her sorrow out on him, before heading back home, not looking back again.
She needed to be alone, she had known that since she first heard the news, since she saw Noah at the bus stop and since he had first spoken to her, she had even asked him to do just that, leave her alone and he hadn't, so she didn't feel too badly about it.

It was Friday. Of course Niamh was still grieving for her friend, but she had spent all the rest of Thursday, after leaving Noah in the street crying and there were no more tears left, so she was able to go to school, hoping that it would keep her mind busy while the pain was still at it's peak.
Noah wasn't on the bus that morning, so Niamh didn't have to worry about running into him. Now she had been given time to deal with her feelings privately and her lost had sunk in, allowing her to see things much more clearly, she was left unsure about how she had acted. She couldn't say if Noah deserved how she had treated him, she made it clear she had no desire to talk and he had chosen to ignore that, but all he wanted to do was help, there was no malice in that so bumping into him before she had decided how she felt about it would have been a little awkward.

Walking into school that morning for the first time Niamh had a place to go, she had people waiting for her, something she had wanted since her return, Sophie and Lara waving at her from the flower bed were they would sit, in the middle of the concreted area.
They were both two very average looking girls, Sophie was tall, with very fair skin, long, straight, chestnut brown hair to her waist, usually always in a french plate, dark brown eyes and a very slim, freckled face and Lara was an very petite Indian , with shoulder length, wavy dark hair framing her face, sparkling amber eyes and a wide friendly smile. There was nothing too distinct about their looks, it was their energy that Niamh was drawn in by.
Despite not being friends with them for very long, Niamh felt welcome there, she felt like she belonged besides those two girls. She didn't feel like she needed to explain herself to them or figure anything out, they knew nothing of her before, they had always just kept to themselves, not worrying about anyone around them, something that Niamh admired. They knew nothing of what had happened to her, they didn't even know she had been anyway and Niamh liked it that way, it wasn't that they didn't care about her history, someone's history is a big part of them, it says a lot about a person, but in Niamh's case that wasn't so true. Lara and Sophie didn't pressure to talk about those things, they were happy to just act as if they had always been friends, so Niamh could just happily talk to them, about things like the club, her plans for the future and just be herself, the person she was now with nothing standing in her way. 
Just like Niamh, both Lara and Sophie were extremely caring and wanted nothing but peace. Lara in particular loved animals, her bedroom was always full of them, anything she could love and dedicate all her time to, wanting to treat them all with her full care and attention, like a little mother hen, there to help anything or anyone in need. Whereas Sophie was much more of a people person, a bit of a hippy really, in the way she would talk about feelings and soul, making her a very calming person to be around, she was very wise and open minded for her age which was something Niamh needed in a friend.
The girls were very excepting of Niamh and in that short amount of time they had all already adapting to her, like it had always been that way, they all happily hung out all day and had most of their classes together, there was almost always one of them by Niamh's side as they had more of less the same interests.
All through the day Niamh hadn't seen Noah once, that didn't necessarily mean that he hadn't been to school, Niamh knew from previous experience how good he was at avoiding her, but as he hadn't been on the bus either that morning she had made an extra effort to find him. She looked in all the places she would never usually, even waited outside the classroom of a class she knew he had at the exact time he should have been there. She wasn't entirely sure why she was looking out for him, she didn't necessarily have anything to say to him, nor did she want him to speak to her, but there was something there, a feeling she had experienced once or twice with Noah already, a feeling of misplaced responsibility, faint misplaced fault. 

It wasn't until later that day, after school, when Niamh went home that she saw Noah. She had gotten off the bus and walked up the road to her house, just as she was about to walk up the path and up to the door Noah's house returned to her line of sight and she couldn't make herself look away. She stayed there like that for a second, frozen in her step with her head turned in the direction of the house as she allowed her thoughts to swarm her mind. One thing Niamh had never really been very good at is minding her own business, she had never really been given a reason to, all her friendships, all her family relationships were always very open, on a very personal level, everyone would tell each other everything, she wasn't used to having to wonder, she always already knew everything. Since as long as she could remember she had always just told everyone exactly how she felt, if she was unhappy with them, if they were doing something that annoyed her or something she didn't agree with, but of course that changed when she became friends with Abigail, then she kept quiet, until eventually she stopped caring about right and wrongs. That was possibly what was happening with Noah, it was driving her crazy not knowing where he was, what he was doing or what was going on in his mind, or so she told herself. Another possibility was that she was so set on her path to righteousness, so desperate to be a good person, to be perfect she just couldn't help but interfere, there were more than a few things Niamh could name about Noah that didn't match up to her standards, things that Niamh would make her mission to fix.

She speed walked over to the house in determination, although her brain wasn't completely sure what she was doing, her body seemed to know exactly what to do. It wasn't until she was standing on the porch with her fist up to the door, ready to knock, that she froze again. All of a sudden she was very aware of the situation, despite her instincts, her need to express her feelings, to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on, it wasn't like she could just turn up at his house, questioning and lecturing him just like that. She almost walked away after coming to her senses, but it was her now strong guilt that encouraged her to knock anyway, she had yelled at him out of her own sorrow, when really he had done nothing wrong, she at least needed to apologize for that, telling herself that it was potentially the reason for his absence.
He came to the door quickly, he definitely wasn't ill so she could rule that out straight away, he looked perfectly healthy, dressed in his usual attire and unless he wore his jacket inside at home too, he hadn't been there all day. 
“...Niamh” he muttered blankly the second he saw her standing there on his porch.
“Noah” Niamh said back, getting her thoughts together.
“What are you doing here...?”
“I, I, just, wanted to apologize for yelling at you yesterday, I was upset, I know you were just trying to help...” she told him blankly.
“Yeah, alright, I get it... thanks” Noah said, not seeming to care at all. He stood there for a second just watching her before he then stepped back and went to close the door.
“Noah” Niamh cried out with an exhale.
He immediately stopped.
“...Is there something else? Because I'm kind of busy” he asked in careless tone as he gripped the door.
Niamh stared blankly for a moment, she had given him no reason to be rude, he didn't have to forgive her if he didn't want to, especially as he had made it clear he still didn't want to be friends, although the reasons were still blurry, she had apologized for what she had done wrong, explained her reasoning behind walking away from his friends and she was sure he realized he had no right to have anything against her anymore, so what was the problem? Why was he still so upset with her? 
The only thing that Niamh could come up with was that he just didn't want her to get the wrong idea, but either way she was no longer in the mood to talk.
“No, there's nothing else” she muttered, it was obvious that he what he had said had effected her and he actually even looked guilty about it, but he didn't nothing, just closed the door in her face.

Noah was proving to be very difficult to read, Niamh's first impression couldn't have been anymore misplaced, there was so more to Noah than she had thought. She found him outspoken and uncaring, but in hindsight, maybe he cared too much but just never said. Noah was much more sensitive than he let on, Niamh had always had a theory his rudeness, his arrogance was cover and that was seeming to be the case, but what was he covering up? What was he trying to hide from the world? Surely it couldn't have been as simple as just not wanting people to know he was a decent guy, that made no sense, he very openly, very publicly invited Niamh into his friend group. He was trying so hard to be someone he wasn't, but seem to feel the need to hide who he actually was, there had to be something wrong with him, he had to have some sort of secret, something that he wanted to keep to himself. Despite all these thoughts, Niamh couldn't even be sure of that, she was right to be so confused by him, it was possibly there wasn't an answer at all, 
What had been now explained though was the connection, why Niamh was so drawn to him and what it was that made it so hard for her to leave him alone, he was a silent, complicated, stubborn puzzle and Niamh had lost all the pieces. 
Although she had walked away, leaving Noah for the time being the thought of him wasn't so easy to escape, her curiosity and need for information lingered.
Completely separate from everything, the conversation seemed to turn to Noah at home, even with Niamh having no part in the introduction of the topic or having much to do with the initial chatting to start with. It was late in the afternoon, before dinner after Niamh had finished tending to her bees and had sat down on the patio with her parents as they all had some tea. It was Graham who had brought it up after something that had happened at school.
“Do you remember when Niamh first got sick?” he asked his wife randomly.
“...Of course I do” Louise cried out, giving him a funny look. The conversation sparkling Niamh interest.
“I distinctly remember that day we first found out about her condition, You had taken the day off to go to the hospital with her while I went to school. I remember you calling me at school, you told me that it was serious, that Niamh was so sick and wouldn't be able to leave the hospital, that she needed an operation the next day, when she had her LVAD and I just left, there was a few hours left but I just left. Although it was serious, it wasn't like she was on her last legs, it wasn't like she was on her death bed, but still I left, because those two hours felt like years and I couldn't stand the thought of not being right by Niamh's side...” Graham opened up.
“...I remember that too but why, why are you bringing it up now?” Louise asked gently after a second.
“Just something that happened at school” he told her as he pulled his eyes back up and away from his reimagination. “Felix Owens wasn't at school today, he was sick and although, I hope it's nothing serious there was some gossip going around school as it wasn't his parents that called in to say he was going to be absent, it was his brother, Noah” 
Niamh eyes widened as she sat there closely listening, adding the new puzzle piece to her small collection, trying to squeeze it in. That explained why Noah wasn't at school, it had nothing to do with her rudeness and it could also explain what he meant when he said he was busy. Although there was no way Niamh could be sure, her head had now filled with so many new answers. 
“...What does that have to do with Niamh, though?” Louise asked in confusion.
“No it's just that I don't understand how Amy and Evie could just leave him like that and go to work, leaving his brother to look after him when he should have been at school too?” 
“Well, they're both very busy woman” Louise muttered, not thinking too much of it. “...And maybe Noah was sick too?”
“He wasn't” Niamh cried out accidentally, too deep into her thoughts to realize what she was saying.
Her parents both turned to her with narrow eyes.
It was only then that she returned to earth and became fully aware of what she had done.
“How would you know?” her mother asked as a smile began to creep up onto her face.
“I didn't see him...” Niamh muttered blankly.
“...But you said you never saw him around anyway? That you two both ran in very different circles? So why does that mean anything?” 
There was a very obvious answer for Niamh to give them, that he wasn't on the bus' but in that moment it seemed invisible to her. 
“...That is true, we do run in different circles, but the schools not really that big” Niamh admitted in despair.
Her mum watched her blankly for just a second before her smile came back as wide as it could be.
“What?” Niamh cried out, trying not to let Louise bother her. Of course she knew why, her mum was always so obsessed with Niamh's love life, especially after all she had been through, it was kind of the finale straw to her fully having her life back in a way.
“I told you, I'm not interested in those sorts of guys anymore, mum” Niamh cried out, her embarrassment displaying itself as irritation.
“...But Noah isn't really that sort of guy, is he?” her mother said, catching her full attention.
“What do you mean?” Niamh asked. It had surprised her, had her mum also been through that realization.
“Well, he stayed home looking after his sick little brother all day didn't he? That doesn't sound like something a bad kid would do, does it?” she explained.
If Louise thought that too, Niamh must have been right about him, all it did was fully convinced her that there must have been a reason why Noah was ignoring and avoiding her, fueling her curiosity about him.

The evening had passed o quickly and soon enough it was Saturday morning.
Niamh had officially been back at school for a week and compared to the first day, everything was good. She had made two friends she was very happy with, joined up to the echo club, signed up to volunteer at other out of school charity associations. The fact she had ended her friendship with Cammie and Madison wasn't good but it also meant she had occasionally gotten away from Abigail, so that was a positive. 
Although things were still off with Noah, Niamh was quite confident that if she spoke to him, if she could actually get him to let her in, they could settle things and that she could help him with whatever it was that was the problem, but she had to wait a little longer as she had plans for the day as it was her very first day of doing some good with the eco club. 
Although Niamh had been to the first meeting they hadn't actually had a chance to do any activities yet. Niamh had been informed as to what types of things she would be doing with them but wasn't quite sure what they had planned for today, adding a little more excitement.

Following the eco club rules Niamh got her old, rusty orange bike out of the garage and made her way to school in the town center, meeting Lara and Sophie outside the building so they could all walk in together.
The leader of the group was a woman named Rose that Niamh had already met at school. Rose was only in her early twenties and didn't take herself too seriously, she always made everything as fun as it could be and really made people want to help, someone that the teenagers could really look up to. She was a pretty woman, very tall and slim with very short, straight, slightly orangey brown hair, big bright blue eyes surrounded with long, curly eyelashes and had a sweet shade of pale pink lips, helping to hold all the students attention.   
Once everyone had turned up at school on that Saturday morning, Rose dug straight in, explaining exactly what everyone was going to do that day. As it was a very new put together group the idea was to not only start to make a difference but to spread the name and exactly what their aim was as well.
Unfortunately as everyone was split into pairs Niamh couldn't be with Cammie and Madison, but that wasn't too much of a problem, instead she was paired with a slightly younger girl called Melody, who happened to be Rose's little sister who happened to be just as sweet. Melody looked a lot like her big sister with the same pretty face, eyes and hair colour, except hers was down to her waist. 
Each pair was given a different street to carry out their mission, they were each given a clip board, a checklist, a bunch of information, a time limit and a  house limit they had to reached before they all then set off.
All of the streets were around the area, all in a five minutes walk away, given out completely random and Niamh oddly just so happened to get her own street. 
Everyone was all sent off in their separate directions and began knocking on door after door.
Their job was to inform the public on way they can help look after the environment, to maybe help them to change something damaging that they potentially had no idea was a bad thing to do or maybe just let them know just how bad the consequences were.
Melody and Niamh got on very well, happily chatting as they walked down the street, carrying out their mission, Melody sharing all the good she had already done in her life, encouraging Niamh to do the same.
It was all going very well, most people were willing to listen and to fill out the list with no problem, although there were a few who were too 'busy'.
In fact Niamh was having such a lovely time, feeling very good about herself and what she was doing, as well as enjoying Melody's company, that it took her moment to realize exactly who's house she had reached.
“...No, we're not going to that house” Niamh said sternly, immediately pulling away.
She wanted to talk to Noah, she was going to but not like that, she needed time to figure what she was going to say, to prepare herself for whatever the problem was. Especially if Noah was still in the same mood as he was just the day before, still inexplicably upset or annoyed with her, she didn't want Melody to see that.
“Oh, okay” Melody turned to her doing what she was told, avoiding any possible confrontation as she had done the whole time. “Why- why?” she muttered as her little legs hurried after Niamh who had already passed her own house.
“Somebody I would rather not see lives there...” Niamh explained vaguely as she hung back for a second waiting for her friend.
“...Who?” Melody asked blankly once she had caught up.
“Noah Owens lives there” Niamh told her blankly, not really wanting to say much more.
“Oh... who- who is Noah Owens?” Melody asked blankly.
Niamh watched her blankly, surprised that she had finally found someone who didn't know, smirking to herself as she took in the completely clueless look Melody had on her face.
“Just this guy from our school, such a jerk, that I have the misfortune of living next door to” she explained, smiling to herself. “...Trust me, it's better to just leave him alone, it's fine, there's plenty of other houses on the street” she gave her friend a reassuring look as they approached the next door to tick off the list.
They walked right to the end of the street and back, making sure to cover both sides. Melody double checked the sign up sheet while Niamh was already ready to make her way back to school.
“...I'm sorry Niamh, but, I think we have to go to Noah's house, it's the last house on the block... and we're one short” Melody muttered as she blindly followed Niamh along the pavement, her head in the paper.
“What?” Niamh stopped abruptly. “Are you sure?” she asked as she leaned over the paper.
“Sorry, I counted it twice”
“Can't we just pretend we went there and write it down?” Niamh asked giving her a hopeful look.
Melody didn't have to say a thing, she simply gave Niamh a twisted smile, looking up at her with wide eyes, it wasn't only the look though, despite how much she hated the idea of seeing Noah, she couldn't lie to the club, she had no choice.
“..Okay” she cried out throwing her head back in defeat. “But I will not be saying anything, just so you know, I'll hang around in the front garden” 
“Deal” Melody smirked as she went to cross the road and make her way up to the door, looking very smug as Niamh dragged along after her.
With a big grin, Melody confidently knocked on the door, but as soon as it swung open the look on her face dropped as she stood there looking up at Noah in shock.
She was smitten, of course she was, just like every other girl at school, but to make it even worse, that particular day Noah had chosen not to get fully dressed. He came to the door with only a opened black hoodie on his top half, his whole toned chest on show, with his usual black skinny jeans on his bottom half and a pot of ice cream in his hand that he was eating from.
“Hello” Noah smiled an overly friendly smile, resting against the door frame the second he saw Niamh. “What is the pleasure?” he smirked, giving Melody a funny look.
“We...” Niamh began to speak before looking to Melody who was standing there silently, still staring.
After a moment it was obvious she wasn't going to say anything, or if she was even capable of it, Niamh had no choice, she had gone that far, there was no point in walking away, Noah seemed happy enough so she took a step closer.
“We're sorry to bother you sir but do you have a moment to talk about the environment?” she forced herself to say, feeling quite awkward.
A big grin stretched over Noah's face, he so clearly found it hilarious, making it so much worse for Niamh. 
“If you don't that's fine, we understand that people are very busy...” Niamh cried out, defectively “Sorry to bothe...” she began to say as she grabbed her friends hand and went to turn around before Noah had to torture her.
“No, I have time” he said drawing his lips in as a sparkle formed in his eyes.
“You, you do” she muttered, for just a moment feeling hopeful for their friendship before she realized he was probably making fun of her, maybe not in a malicious way, just joking but still.
If she were alone, it would have been right at that moment that Niamh would have slammed the door in his face, but she knew what it meant to Melody, to have the exact amount of houses crossed off and she had agreed to go through with it so she went along with it, surprising Noah.
“We have this leaflet right here for you to fill out, if you don't understand something or would like a more detailed explanation, then please feel free to ask” Niamh acted very professionally, handing him the paper with a friendly smile, just as she had with everyone else.
Noah hesitantly took it from her hands, giving her a blank look before he smirked and did as she said, them all standing there in the porch for a good few minutes while they waited. 
He then handed it back to her without any reaction, he didn't laugh at her or ridicule her in anyway, he just stood there blankly waiting for whatever she would do next. 
Niamh eyes quickly skimmed through the piece of paper before looking up at him again, everything seemed to be more or less in order so there was no reason to lecture him on anything.
“Okay, thank you” she muttered blankly as she took a step back, not quite sure how she felt in that moment, Noah actually managed to surprise her. She took a hold of Melody's arm “Have a good day” she muttered as she pulled her friend away and back down the drive.
“Is that all, Niamh?” he called out.
“...Yes” Niamh cried back, suppressing her smile as Noah watched her walk away with the same look.

Although things hadn't exactly gone how Niamh would have liked, she wanted a deep conversation, for him to open up to her, for him to explain all his strange actions so she could fully understand, but like Niamh had thought before, maybe there wasn't necessarily anything deep for him to talk about or anything deep he had to share at all, his reasons could have had a simple explanation that he could enlightening her with in just moments. Either way things seemed to be well between them and Niamh for the first time was happy just to carry on like that, not needing anything more from him, to obsess over every little detail, to know exactly what he was thinking at certain times, she just hoped things continued like that and Noah would accept her friendship, which she was happy to work for if she had to.  

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Chapter 4: Watering can

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Chapter 5: Litterbug

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Chapter 6: Sunshine

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Chapter 7: Turning off the lights

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Chapter 8: The universe

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