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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55. "Just Hold Her"

 

12 Days Later; 2 Days Before the Syco Ball

"Oh my actual goodness, that dress is perfect!" Belle gushed as Kaylie modeled the dark green floor length strapless dress she had just purchased for the Syco Ball.

Kaylie beamed, twirling so that the bottom half of the dress fanned out around her, watching her reflection in the floor length mirror in her bedroom. "I know! I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to find one since I didn't even know I was going until last week."

Belle chuckled as she sat on Kaylie's bed, blowing a bubble with her gum. "It sure took Harry long enough." She muttered as the bubble popped.

Kaylie rolled her eyes. "Hey at least my boyfriend asked me in a sweet, romantic way, unlike yours!"

Belle scoffed. "Right, because Harry showing up at your house at midnight, throwing pebbles at your window, while holding a rose and wearing a tux to ask you to go with him is just sooo romantic and--" She stopped, thinking for a moment. "Dammit, that actually is romantic." She muttered under her breath.

"Ha! Told you so. Whereas Niall did what now, remind me?"

Belle rolled her eyes this time. "So what if he asked me with a mouthful of chicken, I don't care! I'm not exactly one for the romantic clishes for your information." She said matter-of-factly.

"Yeah, and my name is Meryl Streep." Kaylie retorted sarcastically. Belle just stuck her tongue out, and Kaylie did the same.

The girls erupted into a fit of giggles and Kaylie flopped down on the bed beside Belle, still in her dress. Whereas Belle had on underwear and a spaghetti strap tanktop that showed her midriff, her hair in a wet messy bun. She had just gotten out of the shower and had begun to change into clothes when Kaylie came screaming into the house that she needed Belle's opinion on her dress for the ball, just two days away.

"Seriously though." Kaylie said, taking on a drastic tone. "How are you and Niall going to stay under the radar at the Ball? Everyone that is signed by Syco is going to be there, and Louis is going to be watching your every move. So will the press."

Belle sighed and looked up at the ceiling. "Niall actually wants us to make our relationship public then." She said after a moment.

Kaylie gasped. "Are you fucking serious?" She asked, sitting up abruptly.

Belle sighed, pulling herself up to a sitting position as well to face her best friend. "Yeah. He just suggested it, he said it was totally up to me though. He doesn't want to really say anything, just for us to show up and be all...couple-y. That way people can just figure it out on their own."

"And by people you mean Louis?" Kaylie asked with a downward cast.

Belle nodded, twiddling her fingers in her lap. "I haven't decided yet. I mean, I really care about Niall, he's been nothing but amazing. When I'm with him, everything seems like it's going to work out. But when I see Louis, I just..." Belle's thought trailed off into nothing.

"You're still not over him." Kaylie finished.

Belle nodded sadly. "But it's getting better." She said with a meek smile. "I don't think about him nearly as much as I used to. And I think about Niall a hell of a lot more."

Kaylie smiled. "Well that's good! Just give it a little bit more time and you'll be over him completely. And hopefully he'll be over you all the way too!"

Belle smiled back, her expression reflecting how much she didn't believe that sentiment. "Yeah, hopefully." She said.

Suddenly the doorbell rang downstairs.

"Who is that?" Kaylie asked.

"It's just Niall, he said he was coming by. Do you mind going and opening the door for him while I get some clothes on?" Belle asked, standing up and starting to walk out of the room.

"No!" Kaylie shouted, standing up and turning Belle back to face her. "Niall can't see me in my dress! It's going to be a surprise, remember?"

Belle laughed. "Kayles, the surprise is for Harry, not Niall."

"But that little leprechaun will tell Harry what it looks like, and you know it!"

The doorbell rang again, with more urgency.

"Belles please!"

"Kaylie I'm in my underwear, he can't see me like this!"

Kaylie scoffed. "Geez it's not like he's never seen you in your--" She cut herself off, seeing Belle's frozen expression. "Oh my God, Niall hasn't seen you in your underwear yet!" She screeched.

Belle flushed bright red. "Would you shut the hell up, it's not a big deal!" Belle whisper shouted, smacking Kaylie on the arm. 

"But you've been together for like a month and you guys are always alone together when you're here!" Kaylie shouted back in disbelief. "What the hell are you guys doing if you're not banging?" She asked incredulously.

Belle blushed and looked down at her feet. "Y'know...cuddling and stuff."

Kaylie was quiet for a split second. "Alright that's it, get your ass downstairs and open up the door for your boyfriend."

"Kaylie I--"

"Actually no, take this off first." Kaylie interrupted, reaching forward to rip off Belle's tanktop.

"Ouch Kaylie what the fuck are you doing?!" Belle screeched, but Kaylie paid no mind. The doorbell continued to ring.

Once Kaylie had wrestled Belle's white tanktop off, exposing her black lace bra to match her underwear, she hid it behind her back. Belle crossed her arms in an attempt to cover herself up. Just as she went to say something, Kaylie spoke first.

"Nope, I don't wanna hear it. Get your ass downstairs and give your boyfriend a boner by opening up the door in that. Don't be such a pussy Belles, let out your inner slut!"

With that being said, Kaylie turned Belle around and shoved her towards the door, ignoring her dropped jaw of disbelief. Then for moral support, Kaylie gave her a friendly slap on the butt, making Belle jump and shriek shrilly.

"I'll get you back for this!" Belle shouted as Kaylie shoved her towards the stairs even more.

"Bullshit, you'll thank me when you get the best sex of your life!" She replied with a laugh, making Belle blush bright red as she slammed the door to her room shut.

The doorbell kept ringing insistently as Belle slowly made her way down the stairs, her arms still crossed over her breasts. She wasn't like Kaylie, she didn't know how to be flirty or seductive or sexy. She honestly didn't understand what boys saw in her.

But maybe Kaylie was right. She needed to let out her inner slut, or at least make an attempt. Niall was nothing but amazing to her, respecting her wishes. Belle couldn't help but think that she needed to return the favor. And answering the door in nothing but black lace lingerie was a good way to do it, she supposed.

"I'm coming!" Belle shouted as she continued down the stairs, shaking off her nerves. "You can do this, don't be a pussy." She muttered to herself.

The doorbell stopped ringing as her shout was heard from the other side of the front door. Belle made her way to it and put her hand on the doorknob, taking in a deep breath. "Be sexy." She said to herself. With a sudden burst of confidence and adrenaline, Belle flung open the door with her hip jutted out and a seductive smirk on her face.

"Hey there big b--"

Belle froze.

"Hot damn Belle."

"OH MY GOD!"

With that, Belle slammed the door shut in Louis' face.

***

"Oh come on Belle, open the door! I didn't even really look!" Louis pleaded from the other side of the front door as Belle stood in the foyer, mortified. "That much." He added cheekily.

Belle scoffed loudly, her eyes burning holes through the wood of the front door. "Go away!"

Suddenly Kaylie appeared at the top of the staircase, now clad in jeans and a tshirt, looking down at Belle. "Why are you telling Niall to go away?" She asked innocently.

Belle snapped her head up to look at her friend. "Because I didn't answer the door to Niall, I answered it to Louis!" She hissed.

Kaylie's eyes shot open as she burst into laughter, doubling over and clutching her stomach.

Belle rolled her eyes and darted up the stairs. "Just answer it while I go change and hide under a rock for thge rest of my life." She muttered as she passed Kaylie, who was still laughing. She nodded nonetheless though as Belle disappeared into her room.

Kaylie managed to make her way downstairs and open up the front door, still chuckling. As she opened it all the way, Louis had his back to her but quickly turned around.

"Belle I-- oh, it's you." He said somberly as he looked at Kaylie.

Kaylie scoffed. "Well gee Louis, it's nice to see you too." She said sarcastically as she walked back inside and left him to follow her.

"Oh you know I didn't mean it like that." Louis said as he shut the door behind him. He immediately began to look around for Belle. 

"She's upstairs." Kaylie answered his unspoken question. She looked over her shoulder and glared teasingly at her friend. "She's getting some clothes on." She added as she looked ahead again and led Louis to the kitchen.

"Dammit." Louis muttered under his breath, making Kaylie laugh. They both entered the kitchen and Louis perched himself on a stool as Kaylie began to rummage through the fridge. "Who was she expecting at the door dressed like that anyways?" He asked.

Kaylie froze, her back to Louis, still looking into the fridge. She couldn't exactly tell Louis that Belle was going to open the door to his best friend whilst wearing sexy lingerie.

"Um, Harry." She spat out, turning back around and tossing Louis a bottle of water. He caught it effortlessly but looked at her incredulously.

"Harry?" He asked disbelievingly. "Why the hell was she answering the door to your boyfriend wearing lingerie and saying, 'hey there big boy'?"

"She said that?" Kaylie asked. She smirked to herself. "Damn, she does have an inner slut." She added under her breath.

"What was that?"

"Oh nothing, nothing." Kaylie said quickly. "Erm, she answered the door like that because um, Harry came downstairs the other day in his underwear and said something like that to her thinking it was me. So that her way of, uh...payback?" She lied, doubting herself.

Louis thought for a moment before saying, "Oh. Yeah, I s'pose that does sound like Harry." 

Kaylie sighed, relieved that Louis had believed her horrible lie.

"But I mean..." Louis started again, staring off into space as he recalled the way Belle had looked. "She looked...wow." He mumbled.

And Belle had looked amazing. Her bare, tan legs had looked so long, her hips delectable in that lace underwear, the defined cleavage from her push up bra, her neck exposed from the way her hair had been thrown up in a bun...she had looked downright sexy.

"Louis stop it." Kaylie said, snapping Louis out of his fantasy. He looked back up at her with a start and was surprised to see Kaylie with a stone cold expression. "Stop thinking about her like that, you guys aren't together anymore. Do you honestly expect to get over her if you keep thinking about her half naked?"

Louis rolled his eyes. "Well maybe I don't wanna get over her." He mumbled.

"Excuse me?" Kaylie asked.

"You heard me." Louis replied, his voice with much more confidence. Kaylie was surprised. "I don't want to get over her Kayles, I want to get back together with her. That's why I'm here. I want to ask her to the Syco Ball, and I want to fix what I've done wrong while I still have the chance. Because if I don't do it now, she's going to end up with somebody else and I won't be able to do anything about it."

Kaylie's face dropped. "Oh Louis honey I don't think that--"

"Hey." Belle's voice suddenly said, appearing in the kitchen in leggings and an oversized brown sweater. She didn't even so much as look at Louis as she strode in the kitchen and towards the fridge to get a soda.

"Oh hey Belles." Kaylie said quickly, observing as Louis watched every move that Belle made. "I was just telling Louis here how you showed up at the door like that to get back at Harry for sneaking up on you in his underwear the other day, remember?" She said with emphasis.

Belle grabbed her drink and shut the fridge, turning to look at Kaylie skeptically, whose eyebrows were raised. She parted her mouth in understanding. 

"Oh, yeah." Belle said slowly. "Yeah, that's what it was, I-I thought it was Harry at the door." She muttered. 

Belle could feel Louis' eyes on her, but she refused to look back at him. One, because she was still mortified. And two, because he looked sinfully good in his black jeans, white tshirt, and denim shirt over top of it with the sleeves rolled up. His hair was messy, as if he had just rolled out of bed. And her quick glance at him earlier showed that his newest chest tattoo was peeking out from where his shirt was pulled down in the front. 

It was not safe for her to look.

"So uh, I think I'm going to go out and um, pick up my dress for the Ball." Belle muttered, turning around in circles and looking absolutely ridiculous as she searched for an escape route while still not looking at Louis. "Um, yeah. I'm going to leave." She finally spat out, sitting her drink on the counter and heading towards the door, keeping her head down.

"Wait Belle, hold up." Louis said, hopping off of his stool.

"Louis don't--" Kaylie tried to say but he just waved her off. 

"Belle wait." Louis said once again, reaching out and grabbing Belle's arm. She spun around to face him but kept her face cast down.

"Louis I really need to go, I had my dress altered and I have to pick it up today and--"

"Belle look at me."

"No, I'd rather not."

Louis laughed. "C'mon Belle, don't be embarrassed. It was an honest mistake. And it's not like I haven't seen you naked before."

Belle shot her head up and that remark and Louis took a step back at her furious expression. "The only time you saw me naked was when we had drunk sex right after I first met you, that does not count so don't say you've seen me naked when we didn't even have sex after that!" She shouted, angry that he would say such a thing when he knew how much it meant to her that she wait a while to give herself over to someone.

Louis was stunned. "Okay, fine. I apologize." He forced himself to say, even though he really wasn't sorry at all. But he had to swallow his pride if he had any chance of getting Belle back.

Belle was surprised. Louis was apologizing?

"Look Belle, the Syco Ball is actually the reason I'm here." Louis said, quickly changing the subject before Belle could try and hurry off again. "I wanted to see if you--" Louis cut himself off suddenly, looking intently at Belle's sweater.

"What is it?" Belle asked incredulously, looking down at herself feeling self conscious. 

"Nothing." Louis muttered, still looking. "It's just...is that Niall's sweater?" He asked incredulously.

Belle looked down and paled. It was Niall's sweater, and she hadn't even realized it whilst putting it on. "Erm, yeah." She mumbled. "I uh, stole it from his car while I was driving it last week or so. It was freezing and I didn't have a jacket, so I borrowed it. I guess I forgot to give it back." She lied, forcing a smile. 

Louis looked at her skeptically. What was with her and Niall being all buddy-buddy lately? Niall wasn't still going after her was he? Louis shook his head, ignoring that thought. He didn't have time to focus on that, he needed to just focus on getting Belle back.

"Oh okay. Anyway, what I was going to ask is uh," Louis reached up and scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. "Will you erm, go to the Syco Ball with me?"

Belle blanched. 

"I mean, I know it's late notice and I should have asked you sooner, but we're both invited and we might as well go together. All the other boys have a date except me and--"

"All the other boys have dates?" Belle interrupted with a squeaky voice.

Louis nodded. "Yeah, Harry's taking Kayles, Liam's got Juliet, Zayn has Ashlyn, and Niall is bringing some girl, I don't know who she is." He said with a nonchalant shrug. He didn't notice Belle's eyes go wide. "So I really want to take someone and I would like you to go with me." Belle just stared. "C'mon Belle, for old time's sake. Just go with me, please?"

Belle opened her mouth to speak, but it took a few seconds for her to form words. "I'm sorry Louis, I can't." She said hoarsely.

"Belle it's just the Syco Ball, it doesn't mean we have to--"

"Louis, I'm not saying no, I'm saying that I can't." Belle interrupted seriously. "I'm already...I'm already going with someone." She added quietly, looking down at her feet.

Louis froze. "You...You're going with someone?" He asked, his face getting red. Belle nodded, still looking down. "Who is it?" Louis asked suddenly, surprising Belle. She looked up in shock. "Who the hell are you going with and why didn't I know about it? How long have you even had a date?" He continued to taunt, his voice rising in anger.

Belle scoffed, offended at his tone. "Back off Louis, it's none of your business! I can't go with whoever the hell I please!"

"You should have told me!" Louis shouted.

"I don't have to tell you anything! You're not my boyfriend anymore, and I tried to get you to be my friend, but you didn't exactly seem like you were up for that either!"

"Oh come on Belle." Louis replied bitterly, rolling his eyes. "You actually think that we could be 'just friends' after all we've been through? We're meant to be together, you're just postponing the inevitable! You know you can't date anybody else seriously when you're still in love with me!"

That was what made Belle snap. Whether the words were true or not (which they were), Louis' arrogance towards the whole situation was what pissed her off.

Belle reared her hand back and within a second, Louis' face turned abruptly from the force of her hard slap. The foyer went deadly silent and even Kaylie could tell that the atmosphere had changed from where she sat in the other room.

Belle lowered her hand slowly, still glowering at Louis. His face stung, but he stayed motionless, his face cast down towards the floor at the angle at which Belle had struck him. He slowly lifted it back to face the first girl he ever loved glaring at him menacingly.

"You and I are not together anymore Louis." She said with a serious tone, her voice only slightly wavering. "I don't have to tell you anything about my life and you should be grateful if I do. I can be with whoever I want. And for your information," She leaned in closer to him, "I am dating someone now." Louis paled, his mouth parting. "And you're right, I do still love you, I'll give you that. But it gets easier every day for me to get over you. And it's all thanks to the new man in my life, who is ten times better than you ever were, and that's why I'm going to the Syco Ball with him."

Louis looked straight into Belle's brown eyes as she spoke. Normally her eyes were his weakness, always bright and full of life. Now though, they were hard, and cold. 

Belle watched as Louis' expression changed to that of hurt. She knew she had gone too far, but she didn't care at this point. Louis needed to get it through his thick skull that they weren't together anymore. She still loved him, but she was sick of him acting as though he could control her. So she ignored his heartbreaking expression and just continued her facade of not caring.

"Just leave Louis. I think it's obvious that you and I are never going to be around each other and not argue, so just leave." She said bluntly, stepping to the side and pointing to the front door.

Louis' breathing staggered and he closed his eyes to hold back tears. He took a few steps forward towards the door and then froze, turning his head to look at Belle.

"I hope he makes you happy." Louis choked out, his voice hoarse with pain.

Belle bit down on her lip and looked away from him, not saying anything. She had been expecting a rude or sarcastic remark back at her, not that.

Louis walked out the door and slammed it shut behind him. As soon as he was gone, Belle sunk to her knees, tears streaming down her face. Kaylie appeared silently, wrapping her arms around her friend and holding her tight, rocking her.

"I...I told him that--"

"Shh, shh." Kaylie interrupted, stroking Belle's hair. "I heard, you don't have to explain anything."

Five or six minutes passed of silence between the two girls, the only sound was of Belle's crying and sniffling. Then the front door opened. 

"Girls you here?" Niall called out, closing the door behind him. As soon as he glanced to his right he saw Kaylie holding Belle on the floor, looking at him over top of Belle's head.

He immediately went to say something, his eyes wide, but Kaylie shook her head no, instead just motioning for him to come over. Niall quickly jogged over and knelt down next to Belle.

Wordlessly, Kaylie turned Belle into Niall's arms. As soon as she realized who it was, Belle gasped and threw her arms around Nialls' neck, crying even harder. She knocked him backwards just a bit, and he made an 'umph' sound, but embraced her back nonetheless. He looked over her head at Kaylie, mouthing the words, 'What happened?'

Kaylie just smiled sadly. "Just hold her." She said simply.

Niall opened his mouth to say something else, but closed it soon after. He nodded back at Kaylie.

With that, Kaylie left the room and Niall did just as Kaylie had said: He held her. And he held on tight.

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