By Chance

‘“Elle,” Niall smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet yeh’.” He said, shaking Elle’s hand gently. Elle recognised the twang that was evident in the way he spoke to be an Irish accent. She caught his bright blue eyes in her own and felt somehow that Niall was also familiar to her.’
Elle has lived in central London for a little over a week with just one key to her flat. One afternoon she bumps into somebody in the street, losing her only key down the drain. The stranger, somehow familiar, convinces her to stay the night at his place where she meets his flatmates, who are also familiar to her. They are generous, humorous and very welcoming, and it doesn’t take long for Elle to recall who they really are. From there laughter, talent, friendship, romance and careers ensue, all by chance.


6. Six

“What’s for dinner, Chef Harry?” Louis asked, taking a seat on a leather stool at the bench.


“It’s a surprise.” Harry said as he began picking ingredients from the fridge. Liam took a seat next to Louis and motioned for Elle to take the seat beside him.


“I like to know what the food is I’m being forced to eat!” Louis complained in a playful and immature manner.


“Nobody’s forcing you to eat it, Louis,” Harry laughed as he turned the lights on above the stove.


“I’m being forced to eat it when it’s the only available meal in this house.” Louis retorted with a frown.


“Then maybe you should cook for a change.” Harry said, turning around to return the frown.


“But this is what you’re good for.” Louis smiled deviously.


“I’m beginning to feel like a housewife.” Harry rolled his eyes and turned back around.


“There’s nothing feminine about you, my man.” Louis said quickly.


“There must be when I do so much cooking and cleaning.” Harry muttered loudly and everybody laughed at the friendly banter. Niall and Zayn both made their way to join everyone else in the kitchen and opened the fridge, pulling out bottles of chilled beer and cracking the tops off them before passing them to their friends. Liam got out of his chair and helped himself to a glass of water.
“Would you like one, Elle?” Niall asked, holding up a beer for Elle to see. She hesitated before glancing at Liam’s glass of water.


“Um, no thank you, I’ll just have a glass of water if that’s alright.” She replied modestly.


“Are you sure? We also have wine, if you prefer.” Niall shrugged. The offer tempted Elle, but not wanting to back down from her previous answer, she stuck to it.


“A glass of water’s fine. Maybe I’ll have a wine with dinner.” Elle answered politely as Niall returned the beer to the fridge and she accepted a glass of water from Liam.


“Don’t you drink?” Elle asked as Liam returned to his seat.


“No, unfortunately I only have one kidney.” Liam replied in a manner that sounded as though he was asked that very question quite often. “Even more unfortunate, this lot are social drinkers.” He said as though it was a bad thing.


“Which isn’t a bad thing.” Zayn said quickly.


“Do you drink or were you just being polite?” Liam asked Elle, ignoring Zayn purposely with a smile.


“No, I do.” Elle reassured the boys. “I was just really hanging for a glass of water.” She insisted, which was in fact true, considering her tiresome day.


“Didn’t you get enough water out on the street this afternoon?” Harry interjected with a smirk sent in Liam’s direction.


“They’re never going to let this one go.” Liam muttered to himself.


“I got plenty, Harry. I just forgot to swallow it.” Elle said jokingly and the rest of the boys chuckled lightly before taking a sip of their beers.


“How old are you, anyway? If you don’t mind me asking,” Louis asked, peering around Liam to see Elle.


“What a rude question, Louis!” Harry snapped as he began chopping ingredients with a large knife.


“Eighteen.” Elle answered, ignoring Harry. With only knowing these boys for a short time, she could already see how much of good friends they were, particularly Harry and Louis with the way they acted. As she watched them interact with each other, her suspicions of who she thought they were kept on arising, though she refused to believe it could be possible.


“Finished school this year, then?” Louis asked.


“Yeah.” Elle responded simply, wondering in the back of her mind who she was in fact talking to. “What about you guys? How old are all of you?” She asked, continuing the conversation.


“I’m twenty-one,” Louis said proudly with a hand covering his heart.


I’m eighteen!” Harry quickly said with enthusiasm, waving his knife around as he put his hand up.


“Liam, Zayn and myself are all nineteen.” Niall answered for the rest of the boys. Elle nodded as she tried to remember all of their answers.


“Did Harry finish school this year too?” Elle asked anyone, not really directing the question at Harry since his back was turned.


“No, I dropped out of school when I was sixteen. These three boys did too, except they were seventeen.” Harry answered anyway. His answer confirmed Elle’s suspicions the slightest bit more. As she sat at the bench, the boys around her continued talking and laughing, while she nervously bit her lip.


“Are you alright?” Liam asked her after a few moments of her silence.


“Yes, of course.” Elle replied with a smile to prove it.


“Is something bothering you?” Liam asked carefully.


“No, uh...” Elle returned to biting her lip.


“Are you sure?” Liam pushed, knowing very well.


“Um... I was just wondering...” Elle was debating whether or not she should just come out with it. “If you guys were.... who I think you might be,” Elle asked, playing it a little more safe than saying it outright.


“That all depends on who you think we might be, love.” Louis said with a knowing smile. All the boys peered at her and she could see the way they were trying to hide their smiles as they listened in, including Harry.


“You’re not One Direction, are you?” Elle finally asked, feeling she might have regretted it as soon as she said it in case they weren’t in fact One Direction. But it all made sense when she recognised every one of their faces, all being extremely young and living in such a mansion, especially when she saw all of them lined up in a row for that brief moment. It was when she saw them all side by side that she recognised the faces she had seen everywhere, from magazine covers, to her television, to billboards. And when Liam was stopped in the street for a photo that morning... Without a doubt, they had to be.


“Bingo!” Louis shouted and Elle breathed a sigh of relief, though as soon as she had, felt twice as self-conscious as before, knowing she was in a world famous boy band’s very own house, and was sitting amongst the celebrities themselves.


“I was beginning to think we’d finally found a sane teenage girl.” Harry laughed, turning back to his cooking.


“Are you saying our fans are insane?” Liam asked with a laugh.


“You know we have the best fans in the world, Liam.” Harry quickly responded.


“So you’re saying you didn’t recognise us when you met each of us?” Zayn asked, sounding a little surprised if anything.


“Would you be offended if I said... I couldn’t remember where I’d seen you before?” Elle asked quietly, shrinking back a little in embarrassment. All the boys laughed, only making the situation worse for her.


“Of course not,” Niall finally answered her.


“I actually can’t believe this.” Harry shook his head. Elle was beginning to think they must all have big egos. “It’s like music to my ears.” He added, quickly changing Elle’s mind.


“So where have you been living these past two years?” Louis peered around Liam again with a wide grin on his face that told Elle he was only joking. She decided to answer anyway.


“In my last two years of school my mum was pretty strict with study, so I didn’t watch all that much TV or anything.” She explained simply.


“Do you know how good that makes me feel when you still know who we are without having seen us on TV?” Louis praised and Elle shrugged in response with a small, unsure grin.


“So you missed seeing us on The X-Factor, then?” Niall asked the obvious question.


“I only just remember you, but I never watched a lot of it.” Elle replied sheepishly. “Your music is on the radio all the time, though.” She added, remembering the embarrassing amount of times she had sung along to their chart topping songs.


“So does this make you a fan?” Louis asked with a grin. Even though Elle did enjoy their music, either way it would have been utterly rude to say she wasn’t.


“What teenage girl isn’t?” She replied with a broad smile, feeling a little more relaxed now. They boys laughed with her.


“What a lucky fan you are, then.” Said Louis.


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