Breaking Free

Ever felt smothered by everyone else's idea of what your life should be like? Have you ever just wanted to say "Stop! It's my life!" to those closest to you? We all have, haven't we? I bet you were too afraid to do it though. So you kept your mouth shut, and did exactly what you always told yourself you would never do: you followed the rules set by people who don't really know you, and let THEM control your life. But what could happen if you finally just said no? If you decided to follow your own dream? Would something amazing happen? Would you fall in love? Would you find what you've been looking for your whole life? What could happen if you just...broke free?

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67. Epilogue

 

7 Years Later - July 23rd, 2020

 

"Harry what are you doing? I said put the salsa in the red bowl, the blue bowl was for the cheese dip!"

"But Niall and Liam ate all the cheese dip!"

"What?!" Kaylie squealed, stomping out of Zayn's kitchen to find Niall and Liam.

Belle laughed, and Harry just shrugged and popped the top of a soda. He leaned back against the counter and took a sip before speaking to Belle, who was cutting up cucumbers.

"I totally lied, her cheese dip is terrible so I gave it to Zayn's dog."

Belle scoffed, turning to look at Harry before bursting into laughter at his non-guilty expression.

"You're a little twat you know that?" She said with a smile, pointing her knife at him.

Harry shrugged yet again, a smile playing across his lips.

"Aunt Belle, what's a twat?" A small voice asked.

Belle whipped around and looked down at little Ella, all big blue eyes and curly blonde hair. The little three year old was the most curious kid Belle had ever met.

"Uh, why don't you ask your dad. Huh, Harry?" Belle asked with stifled laughter, looking at Harry, who had his drink up to his mouth and almost choked. Belle did laugh at that.

"Um," Harry began, wiping his chin. "A twat is a, erm, a type of bird."

"What kind of bird?" Ella asked in her sweet innocent voice.

Harry's mouth opened but it took a moment for words to form. Belle had her hand over her mouth now trying not to laugh at her friend.

"It's uh, it's a really pretty bird, bright blue and orange." Harry finally said, just spouting out the first words that popped into his head.

Ella gasped, her blue eyes bright with wonder. "I want to find a twat!" She shouted, turning and running out of the kitchen just as Kaylie was walking back in, rubbing her temples. "Mommy, Mommy, I'm going to go find a twat!" Ella squealed, running past her mother and out into the backyard.

Kaylie's jaw dropped and she looked back up at Belle and Harry, her eyes wide. The two friends just looked at each other for a moment before bursting into hysterics, Harry leaning on the counter and Belle clutching her stomach.

"Did...did my daughter just say that--"

"Hey Kaylie, Ella just said she needed my help finding a...twat?" Liam's voice rang out, sticking his head in through the swinging kitchen door. "Uh, not quite sure what I should do."

"Oh my god..." Kaylie muttered as Harry and Belle just laughed harder. "You two," She said with a menacing point, have some explaining to do when I get back."

Harry nodded through his laughter as tears sprang into Belle's eyes. Kaylie shoved her way past Liam, who looked incredibly confused. 

"What did you two--"

"Uncle Liam, Uncle Liam!" Xander shouted, running through the kitchen and latching onto Liam's leg. "You've gotta save me!" 

Xander was Zayn's stepson, Zayn got married to a single mother named Jeanne two years ago. Zayn adored Xander, who was 8 years old, and was fulfilling the role of a step in father extremely well, considering.

"Save you from what?" Liam asked.

"Ashton! She won't leave me alone, she keeps chasing me everywhere!" Xander whispered hastily, looking up at Liam in desperation.

Harry laughed. "You gotta get used to that Xander. Being a part of the One Direction family, you'll have screaming girls coming after you all the time." He said with a wink.

"But I don't--"

"Xander! Xandy where did you go?" 6 year old Ashton called out, obviously making her way to the kitchen.

"Oh no!" Xander shouted, running out of the room.

As Liam, Harry, and Belle chuckled, red haired Ashton bounced into the kitchen. She was Liam's niece, whom he and Juliet were taking care of while Liam's sister was on a business trip to the States.

"Has Xander been through here?" She asked with a big grin.

Liam knelt down to eye level with his niece, whom he adored. "I'll bet you anything that he's hiding out in the playroom right now. Wanna go try and find him?" 

Ashton nodded and grabbed Liam's hand as he stood up and opened the door. "Y'know I'm going to marry him one day." She said matter-of-factly.

"Oh I'm sure you are, princess, I'm sure you are..."

Harry and Belle laughed yet again, but before they could say anything, Kaylie burst into the kitchen once more. 

"Okay. Can anyone explain to me why I was just helping my daughter hunt for a blue and orange bird called a twat?"

It was quiet for a split second before Belle snorted in laughter. Harry just grinned and walked over to his wife, putting his arm around her shoulders and kissing her temple. 

"Well you see love, Belle here called me a twat in front of our sweet little daughter, and then she couldn't think of what to explain a twat as, so she told her it was a bird. Crazy, right?"

Belle scoffed and pointed her knife at Harry for the second time that day. "That's a lie and you know it Styles."

Harry just stuck his tongue out at Belle, who laughed in return.

"Oh well, I don't care. She's playing with Niall at the moment, I told her twats didn't live in London."

Harry laughed and led Kaylie outside to sit on Zayn's patio.

Belle just smiled and looked back down at the vegetables she was chopping. It was pleasantly quiet for a moment.

But just a moment.

"Ah! Babe help! I'm being attacked!" A familiar voice called out in mock desperation, the kitchen door swinging open for the hundredth time.

Belle turned around and laughed as Louis staggered into the kitchen, 4 year old Bailey on his back, and her twin brother Jack clutching onto his leg.

"Help! Help!" Louis shouted, falling to the ground without hurting either one of the twins, who were laughing hysterically. "I can't...hold on...much longer..." He faked dramatically, letting out a mock last breath and closing his eyes as if he were dead.

"Uncle Louis?" Bailey asked.

"Uncle Looooouis?" Jack drawled out, poking Louis' cheek.

A few seconds went by and suddenly Louis' eyes popped open.

"Agghhh!" He shouted like a monster, making the twins squeal and laugh, running outside to the patio. "You little monsters better run before I get you!" Louis yelled playfully, chasing after them to the door, watching through the window as they ran to Riley, who was sitting next to Kaylie and Harry, begging their mother to save them from the monster Uncle Louis.

Louis smiled as the door closed, turning to his beautiful wife, who had her back to the counter and was chuckling.

"Was I dramatic enough?" He asked in a playfully serious tone.

Belle bit her lip, trying to fight back a smile. "No, I don't think so. You definitely need to work on your monster yell, it's not your best."

Louis hissed through his teeth. "Ouch babe, that one hurt." 

Belle laughed and Louis grinned, stepping up to her and cupping her cheek, leaning in for a sweet peck on the lips.

"I love seeing you play with the kids. It makes me love you even more." She said with a smile.

Louis chuckled, smoothing out her hair and kissing her forehead. "Yeah, I love the twins. They take after Niall so much it's not even funny." He said with a shake of his head.

"Did I just hear my name?" The familiar Irish accent called out, stepping into the kitchen.

As Louis and Belle turned to look at him, they both burst into laughter at his appearance.

"I'm guessing Ella got to you?" Belle asked through her laughter, leaning into Louis, who put his arm around her waist.

"What? Oh, yeah." Niall muttered, reaching up and pulling out a clip in bow from his hair, tossing it on the counter with an embarrassed grin.

"S'alright mate, happens to the best of us." Zayn said, stepping in behind Niall and clapping a hand on his shoulder. Jeanne came in right behind him, her pregnant belly making her waddle.

"Has anybody seen Xander?" She asked worriedly.

"Last I saw him, he was hiding from Ashton and Liam." Belle replied.

Zayn chuckled, taking Jeanne's hand in his own. "He's fine, let him play." He said sweetly, kissing her temple. Jeanne sighed but looked up at him and nodded. "Is everything almost ready?" Zayn asked.

Belle nodded. "Yeah everything's ready, I'm just taking care of some last minute stuff for the salad. Harry, Kaylie, Riley, and the twins are outside already if you wanna join them."

"Sounds good." Zayn said with a smile, leading Jeanne out to the patio, lightly punching Louis on the shoulder as he did so.

"I'm gonna go let Harry and Kayles know that Ella fell asleep and I put her down, and I'm also gonna see if the twins will follow suit." Niall said hopefully, making his way towards the door. "Don't get up to any funny business you two." He said with a playful point. 

Belle laughed. "Can't make any promises, Horan!" She called out to him. They heard his contagious laughter as the door shut. 

Belle giggled and went back to chopping the vegetables yet again. She was almost done.

Louis put his hands on the counter on either side of her, her back pressed firmly to his chest. Belle fought back a smile as he pushed her hair to the side and began kissing her neck. 

"Louissss." Belle whined, even though she was perfectly content with what he was doing.

"What?" Louis asked, his breath hot on her skin. "You don't like it?" He whispered huskily into her ear.

Belle shivered, dropping the knife onto the counter and turning around abruptly in his hold. He grinned down cheekily at her.

"That's what I thought." He said egotistically through a smile.

"Oh shut up and kiss me Tomlinson." Belle murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck and forcefully crashing her lips against his.

Kissing Louis was something that Belle would never tire of. The way he always placed one hand at the small of her back, pulling her closer to him. The way his tongue would skim her bottom lip and beg for entrance. The way he tasted of peppermint toothpaste all the time. Kissing him just never got old.

"Hey could one of you possibly help me-- oh, whoops, sorry to interrupt." Riley said, holding a sleeping Bailey while an almost asleep Jack clung onto her leg.

Belle and Louis separated, looking at poor Riley. Belle laughed. "No need to apologize Ri. Do you need help putting them down?"

Riley nodded desperately.

"I got it!" Louis said with a smile, reaching down and picking up a sleepy Jack, who wrapped his little arms around Louis' neck and rested his head on his shoulder.

"I'll be right back." Louis said with a wink towards Belle as he and Riley made their way to Zayn's guest room to put the twins down with Ella. 

As soon as they were gone, in came Ashton and Xander, the latter being drug by the hand out towards the patio.

"...and then we're going to have five kids, three girls and two boys. Oh and we're going to live on a ranch, with lots of horses and cows, and we're gonna have a dog named Spots, and..."

Ashton continued to spout out life plans with a very unwilling looking Xander, dragging him outside as Liam and Juliet came in behind them, arms around each other and all smiles.

"I swear, if those two don't actually get married one day, I will lose all faith in love." Juliet muttered.

Belle scoffed "Oh Jul, that rock Liam put on your finger should be enough to give you faith in love!" She said with a smile, looking at Juliet's left hand.

Juliet smiled, raising her hand up to look at her engagement ring as well. "Yeah I guess you're right. But it did take him almost seven years to ask me!" She said teasingly, smacking Liam in the chest.

"Hey at least I asked you romantically! How did Louis propose to you again Belle? With a...cheeseburger?"

"For your information, Payne," Louis said as he came into the kitchen behind them, smacking the back of Liam's head in the process, "It was a chili dog, her favorite." He said proudly, making his way over to Belle.

Belle laughed, hugging Louis. "And I almost ate the ring." She said with a teasing look at her husband.

"But you didn't!" He replied happily, kissing her cheek and making her laugh.

"Ugh you two are so adorable." Riley said, walking in and straight towards the patio. "Guys hurry up, it's almost time!"

Liam checked his watch quickly. "Shit you're right, we have ten minutes. You two hurry up and get out there!" He said with a point at Louis and Belle as he led his fiance outside.

Louis and Belle just nodded and were soon left alone in the kitchen yet again.

"Now where were we?" Louis asked, tilting his head down towards Belle.

"No, no, no, we've got to get out there, it's almost time!" Belle scoffed, pushing Louis away, who groaned in protest.

"We have ten minutes, that's plenty enough time." He said suggestively, waggling his eyebrows. 

Belle looked at him with narrowed eyes. "Okay, fine." He muttered taking a knife and helping her finish chopping up the vegetables.

Belle smiled and nudged him with her hip as a thank you.

"Did the twins fall asleep straight away?" She asked.

"Yeah, they were exhausted from all the playing we did earlier." He said, smiling to himself as he worked. "Those two are adorable." He added fondly.

Belle smiled and took the finally chopped vegetables and tossed them in the salad she had prepared.

"You're really good with them. All of the kids, actually. I think Liam, Niall, Harry, and Zayn are jealous that you're always the favorite uncle." She said with a wink. 

"Yeah." Louis said with a smile, his thoughts trailing off. "I can't wait till we finally have one of our own." He added quietly, looking down at his feet.

Belle's smile faded and she looked at Louis thoughtfully. They had been trying to conceive for three years now, to no avail. She'd seen fertility doctors over and over again and the only advice they could give was to keep trying. She knew it hurt Louis to be patient though, he wanted a kid so bad.

"Louis, about that...I need to tell you something. I'm--"

"Hurry up lovebirds, six minutes to go!" Harry's voice called from outside, and Louis snapped his head up, grinning, forgetting completely about what she had been trying to say.

"C'mon, let's go!" He shouted, grabbing Belle's hand and dragging her outside.

Belle sighed. She'd just have to wait to tell him, yet again.

Once outside on the patio, Belle saw all of her friends sitting around the fire pit. It was already dark outside, and the only kids awake were Xander and Ashton, who were off playing in Xander's treehouse that Zayn had built for him.

Louis pulled Belle over to a sofa where she kicked off her shoes and pulled her feet up next to her, curling into his side. There was conversation going all around and she took the time to look at everyone.

Zayn was standing behind Jeanne, who was sat in a chair, massaging her shoulders. His hair was longer on one side, and was set down over his forehead. He had filled out over the years, more muscles in his chest. Jeanne was a sharp contrast to him, pale skin and light brown hair to match her green eyes.

Then there was Niall, who had his arm around Riley and was laughing at something Zayn had said. His hair was shorter, and his brown roots were coming back out. He looked almost the same as he did seven years ago, just a bit taller. Riley's hair was mostly brown now, and she had the typical short hair bob for a mother. Her freckles had started to fade with age, but her eyes were still bright green.

Then there was Liam and Juliet, his hair having grown a lot over the past few years. He didn't have the baby face he used to, looking very much the man he had become. Juliet was stunning, arguably the prettiest One Direction girl in the group. She was a model after all, her almost black hair cascading down her back that sharply contrasted with her blue eyes.

Then Belle came around to Harry and Kaylie. Her best friend, and Louis' best friend. The couples were closer than ever before, despite the fact that Harry and Kaylie had a little one to take care of. They'd stuck together through thick and thin, even when Harry and Kaylie had their short-lived break up six years ago. 

Kaylie was still stunning, her blonde hair now shoulder length. She'd gained weight since giving birth to Ella but it only added to her already prominent curves, making her look much more mature and just as beautiful. And Harry still had his signature curls, he was even bringing back his X-Factor look, brushing them over to the side with his fingers and leaving them like that.

And there was Louis. Belle turned to look at her adoring husband, who was engaged in a conversation with Liam. He was still the most beautiful man she had ever seen, with his fringe down, having let his hair grow out a bit as well. He had more tattoos on his arm now, like the date of their marriage, Belle's initials, and her personal favorite, the word 'forever' across his right forearm. 

Her amazing husband, who continued to love her after all this time, despite her many faults and flaws. 

"Hey we have two minutes!" Niall suddenly said, checking the time on his phone. The group got quiet, looking around at each other thoughtfully.

"Wow." Harry suddenly said. "It's almost been ten years, boys."

"I can't believe it." Liam weighed in. "It feels like just yesterday, honestly."

"It does, doesn't it?" Louis replied. "Just yesterday that we were all five terrified teenagers, no idea what we were doing in life, no direction at all..." He trailed off.

"And then there was just one direction." Zayn whispered in a serious tone. "One direction for us boys to go. And it was scary as hell, but it was a damn good ride."

Niall nodded. "I don't know if I could have done it without you boys, honestly." He said with a shake of his head. "I was scared shitless as it was, if I'd been on my own I don't know what I would have done."

The other four nodded and mumbled their agreements, staring at the fire in front of them, lost in thought.

"I'm so proud of you boys." Belle finally spoke, making everyone look at her. "You guys fought through so much, but you never lost yourselves. And just because One Direction is over, doesn't mean this group is." She looked up at Louis as she said this and took his hand, squeezing it.

"No, not this group." Louis said. "This family."

Everyone smiled at that and it was comfortably quiet for a moment.

"Hey guys." Niall suddenly said. "It's time. It's 8:22. Happy anniversary, boys."

Everyone smiled at each other, a few tears shamelessly shed amongst them.

Liam raised his drink. "Cheers." He said, his voice shaking with emotion. "To ten years."

Everyone raised their drinks.

"To ten years of having the best mates a bloke could ever ask for." Niall said.

"To ten years of doing what we love." Zayn said.

"To ten years of having the best fans on the planet." Harry said.

"To the ten best years of our lives." Liam said.

"To ten years of One Direction." Louis finished off, raising his drink high. 

The group got silent as everyone took a drink and smiled at one another. It was incredibly emotional within the group, and each boy was being comforted by their significant other.

Louis turned to Belle and whispered. "Belle I have to be honest. The best part of the past ten years of my life hasn't been the music, the fans, the fame, even though all of that was great. The best part was you. I love you so much and...and you're everything to me Belle."

Belle's bottom lip quivered as her whole body shook with emotion. 

"God Louis, I love you too." She choked out, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. The other boys were in similar situations with their girls as well.

Belle pulled back slowly and looked Louis in the eyes. This was it, this was the perfect time to tell him.

"Louis." She began. "Louis I have to tell you something." She took in a deep breath.

"I-I'm pregnant Louis."

Louis' expression didn't change. 

"But...but you...but we've been trying and--"

"Louis." Belle interrupted, putting her palm against his cheek and smiling at him. "Louis we did it. I'm pregnant. We're going to have a baby."

It took a few seconds for Louis to get past the initial shock, a smile finally taking over his features.

"Y-You're pregnant? We-we're really going to have a baby?" 

Belle nodded frantically, a huge smile on her face. 

"Oh my god! You're pregnant! Boys, boys! We're pregnant!" Louis shouted, turning to the group and standing up in excitement. 

A chorus of "what"s and "huh"s went around.

"I'm going to be a dad you idiots!" Louis shouted. 

Finally, the group caught on and starting cheering, everyone standing up and hugging Louis and Belle, genuinely happy for them.

Once everyone had congratulated the couple, Louis finally turned to Belle, a look of unmistakable pride on his face.

"I love you so much Belle." He said breathlessly, stepping forward and taking her face in his hands, kissing her deeply. They heard someone say 'aw' behind them, but paid no mind.

Once they finally broke apart, resting their foreheads against each other and smiling like lovesick teenagers, Belle looked into Louis' eyes.

"I love you too Louis." She choked out, happy tears spilling over. "And I love our baby so much already."

Louis' body shook as he tried to hold back tears of his own, but to no avail. 

"Forever?"

"Forever."

 

Louis and Belle had taken one hell of a road to get where they were, but they'd finally made it. Through the tears, the arguments, the outside threats, the media, the fans...they'd made it. They had each other, and they had their friends. And that was all they really needed.

Because you see, you never really know what you could be missing until you finally decide to just...

Break Free.

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