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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52. Tension

Belle couldn't speak. She could hardly think after hearing Kaylie's declaration. Her best friend was in love with one of her other best friends? This was surreal.

Kaylie chuckled sadly and put her head in her hands, staring off into space. "Stupid right? Gosh what am I thinking, it's Harry Styles. Every other girl in the world wants him, I'm just another loser that actually thinks--"

"Kaylie." Belle interrupted firmly. Kaylie lifted her eyes up and was surprised to see that Belle was grinning. "This...is perfect." Belle said slowly, still smiling.

"What?" Kaylie asked incredulously.

Belle continued to beam, her brown eyes sparkling with mischief and ideas. "Oh my gosh Kaylie this is perfect, how did I not think of it before?! Harry is such a great guy, you guys would be so amazing together. I can't believe this, honestly. Actually I totally can. How long have you liked him? Oh that doesn't matter this is just so great, you guys are going to make the cutest couple in the world, it's the perfect match I should have thought of this ages ago I--"

"Belle stop!" Kaylie shouted, chuckling at Belle's excited expression. "Did you not hear anything I just said? Harry doesn't like me, I'm just a friend, and hardly even that. He has that other girl, it doesn't even matter." She said sadly, looking down at her hands.

"Kaylie you're insane." Belle said genuinely. "Harry would be an idiot not to like you, I bet he does. I mean you're super gorgeous, you have the kindest heart, you're so much fun to be around." Belle shook her head in disbelief. "I don't see how he couldn't love you back if you told him how you really feel!"

Kaylie sighed and shook her head. "Belles you're delusional. I'm not any of those things, I'm weird, awkward, loud, annoying. I never know when to shut the hell up, I'm not calm or collected. I'm not..." Kaylie struggled to find the right words. "I'm not you!" She finally spat out.

Belle's jaw dropped. "Me?" She asked incredulously. "Why in the world would you ever want to be me when you're everything that I want to be?"

Kaylie was silent, and the two friends simply looked at each other. Neither knew what to say, honestly. 

Finally, Belle broke the silence in a small voice. "Kaylie, you have to tell him how you feel. He obviously cares about you from the text he sent, you can't go on hurting yourself like this. Worst case scenario, he doesn't like you like that back. But I know Harry, he won't kick you to the curb. And you have to move on from this Kayles. You can't keep holding it in, it's like you're a time bomb." Belle reached across the table and took Kaylie's hand. "And I don't want you to blow up anytime soon okay?"

Kaylie tilted her head down and laughed, Belle chuckling along as well as the mood lightened.

"You really think I should tell him?" Kaylie finally asked. 

Belle nodded. "I really do. And Harry is a great guy, you know this. He'll take your feelings into account, he'll really listen to you. I promise."

Kaylie took in a deep breath and looked at Belle intensely, thinking over the whole situation.

"Alright." She finally said, surprising both herself and Belle. "I'll tell him."

***

Two hours later, Belle and Kaylie pulled up to Louis' flat in Niall's car laughing and giggling over a stupid story Kaylie had told. The laughing died down though as they parked and Belle realized that what the whole purpose of today was, and that she was going to have to face Louis again.

"Hey isn't that Liam's car?" Kaylie said, interrupting Belle's internal turmoil.

Belle came back to her senses and looked in the direction Kaylie was pointing. She smiled, recognizing Liam's silver Audi. 

"It is!" Belle shouted, unbuckling her seat belt and hopping out of Niall's SUV. 

Belle hadn't seen any of the other boys in ages, she missed them terribly. So she set aside all the drama with Louis and Niall and swiftly walked straight up to Louis' front door, Kaylie hot on her heels and asking her to slow down.

Belle opened Louis' front door shamelessly, hearing laughter from his living room. She froze in the open doorway and Kaylie almost ran into her from behind.

"Jesus, Belle. You in a hurry or what?" Kaylie asked incredulously, fixing her hair back in place from the abrupt stop. The boys heard her from the other room.

Belle smiled to herself, ignoring Kaylie's comment. She started walking to the living room, remembering the way.

"Belle? Kaylie? That you?" Niall's voice called out.

Belle rounded the corner and saw Niall, Louis, Liam, and Harry all sitting around with guitars and music in front of them. They all smiled at her. Except Louis, of course.

"Hey I thought you guys were catching a film--"

Niall was cut off as Belle squealed shrilly and threw herself at Liam, who was the closest to her. Liam's eyes shot wide and he did nothing at first, but then burst into laughter and leaned back on the couch to absorb Belle's weight as she embraced him tightly.

"Hey Belle, miss me much?" Liam asked cheerfully, laughing contagiously.

Belle pulled away and smiled. "Of course I did, I haven't seen you since I got back!"

"Damn right you haven't!" Harry said from the other side of Liam. 

"Harry!" Belle squealed, throwing herself across Liam and on top of Harry, embracing him just like she had Liam. Everyone in the room laughed at her giddiness, even Louis.

Harry grunted in pain before laughing and hugging her back. "Hey there Belle." He said in a strained voice as she squeezed him tightly.

Belle laughed and rolled off of Harry and sat beside him on the couch. "What are you guys doing here?"

"Well Louis said the he and Niall were hanging out, and Juliet is visiting her family in Manchester this week--"

"Juliet?" Belle interrupted swiftly. She smirked. "Is this your new girlfriend that I have yet to meet?" 

Liam looked down and smiled, a blush creeping on his face.

"It is!" Belle shouted, grinning from ear to ear and laughing.

Liam cleared his throat. "So uh, like I was saying," Everyone chuckled, "Juliet, my girlfriend, is in Manchester so I figured I'd come hang out with these two goons, and Harry wanted to come along too." He said cheerfully.

At the mention of Harry's name, Belle remembered that Kaylie was in the room, and so was he. She glanced away from Liam and Harry though and saw that Kaylie and Louis were both whispering to each other fervently. Louis' face was red.

As Belle glanced back at Liam and Harry with a confused expression they just shook their heads, signalling her to be quiet about his attitude. She heard Niall huff and stand up, walking out of the room and towards the back patio.

"What's going on?" Belle asked Liam and Harry, Kaylie and Louis still absorbed in their own conversation. Belle couldn't help but notice that Harry's eyes were lingering on Kaylie.

Liam shrugged. "I wish we knew. Niall and Louis have been real tense with each other since we got here, we don't know what's going on."

Belle sighed exasperatedly and rubbed her temple. "Damn it." She muttered under her breath. She looked at Harry and saw that he was still looking at Kaylie. She started to smile to herself a little bit. "Somebody got your attention Harry?" She asked cheekily.

Harry snapped his attention back to Belle, eyes wide. "What? Oh, erm, no. I was just uh, trying to see what they were talking about." He said with a fake smile.

Belle smiled knowingly. "Alright. Sure, sure."

Harry was about to say something else when Belle stood up quickly. "I'm going to go check on Niall real quick." She said with a smile. Liam nodded, and Harry still looked confused.

Belle took one last glance at Kaylie and Louis before heading out of the living room and towards the back patio. She had to go through the kitchen and dining room to get there. No one in the other room could see her.

As Belle entered the sun room that led outside, she saw that Niall was on the other side of a sliding glass door. He was leaning against the patio railing, his back to Belle. She took a moment to study the curvature of his shoulders, how tense they were. She observed his arm muscles flexing as he supported himself on his hands. She sighed, taking it all in before stepping to the sliding glass door and opening it.

Niall turned at the noise of the door opening. 

"Hey, how did everything g--"

Belle was interrupted as Niall took two large strides and grabbed her face in his hands, crushing his lips down on hers. She was stunned at first, and her eyes shot open. Then she instantly relaxed, her eyes fluttering closed as she raised a hand and fisted it in Niall's soft hair. His kisses were usually so slow, and careful, but this was rough, and angry. She liked it.

Niall groaned as Belle opened her mouth and he dipped his tongue inside. He dropped his hands to her waist, pulling her flush against him so their pelvises pressed against each other. 

Finally, after almost a minute of a heated make out session, Niall pulled away, resting his forehead against Belle's. They were both struggling to catch their breath.

"Woah." Belle finally said, fluttering her eyes open and smiling lazily at Niall. He chuckled.

"Sorry. I just really needed to do that." He said. Belle froze for a second before scrunching up her eyes and covering her mouth to try and stifle a laugh.

Niall stepped back and smiled. "What's so funny?" He asked innocently.

Belle just shook her head and managed to somewhat compose herself. "Nothing, I just...that's almost like what you said to me when you kissed me the first time." She said with a grin.

Niall thought for a moment before smiling too, blushing as he looked down at his feet. "Whoops." He said bashfully.

Belle chuckled for a moment before getting quiet again. She stepped back up to Niall, taking his hand in her own and intertwining their fingers. "What happened?" She asked softly.

Niall took a deep breath and leaned his back against the patio railing, pulling Belle with him by her hand. "It wasn't too bad." He muttered. "Louis was kind of a jerk but I expected that. He was just...saying some stuff, it's no big deal." He said with a shrug of his shoulders. Belle could tell there was something bothering him though.

"What was he saying?" She asked, giving his hand a gentle squeeze.

Niall sighed and looked up at Belle, staring deep into her gorgeous brown eyes. "He was just making some snarky comments about how you two...y'know..." He trailed off.

Belle cocked her head to the side. "We...what?" She asked.

Niall started to blush furiously, and he looked away from her eyes. "How you guys were...together." He finally managed to mumble, cringing at his own words.

Belle thought for a moment before parting her mouth in understanding. "Like...we had sex?" She finally asked, squinting her eyes. Niall cringed again before nodding and looking back at Belle awkwardly. 

Suddenly though, Belle did something that Niall never would have expected. She started to laugh.

"Louis and I...we never had sex." She said in between bouts of laughter, scrunching her eyes up in amusement. 

Niall's brow furrowed in confusion. "What?" He asked incredulously.

"Well actually I take that back." Belle said quickly, holding up her index finger as she remembered. "We did have sex one time, but that was before we dated. And we were both completely trashed from that club we all went to. And it was the first day I met you guys, so it definitely doesn't count." She said matter of factly. "Wow, that makes me sound like a slut." She added, mostly to herself.

Niall stood himself back up to his full height, looking down at Belle. "That was the only time you guys slept together?" He asked in surprise.

Belle nodded. "Yepp, just that one time. Which I say shouldn't count." 

Niall was quiet for a moment. "But...why not?" He asked.

Belle thought for a moment. "Because sex is a big deal to me. I want to be more than someone's fuck and chuck, you know? I decided a while back that I was only going to have sex with someone when I was absolutely ready to, and when I knew for sure that I was in love with them. And I just wasn't ready with Louis." She said simply.

"But weren't you in love with Louis?" Niall asked.

Belle's mouth parted as she thought about that. "Huh." She said, earning herself a raised eyebrow from Niall. "I guess...I guess I wasn't as in love with him as I thought." She said quietly.

Niall sighed and wrapped Belle in a tight embrace, not saying anything else. Honestly, he was just relieved - and surprised - to hear that she hadn't slept with Louis. Guess there were some things he could share for the first time with her after all.

If things worked out, that is.

***

A few minutes later, Belle and Niall re entered the living room, standing a considerable distance apart to discourage any suspicion. Liam was talking to Louis about something, and Kaylie and Harry were both sitting on opposite sides of the room awkwardly. Kaylie was on her phone, and Harry was watching a commercial on TV. She was obviously avoiding him.

Belle decided right then and there that Kaylie was obviously much too chicken to make the first move with Harry, so it was up to her to get those two to talk. She quickly came up with an idea, but had to do one other thing first.

"Hey guys." Belle said cheerfully, plopping down on the couch next to none other than - Louis.

Everyone in the room turned and looked, shock written on their faces. Especially Louis'. Belle ignored it though.

"Louis do you mind if we chat in the kitchen for just a second?" She asked. 

Everyone was dead silent, watching and waiting to see what would happen. Louis' jaw dropped.

"Um, y-yeah." He stuttered out, standing up. 

"Great." Belle said cheerfully, getting up as well and following him to the kitchen. Niall looked confused, but not worried. Liam, Harry, and Kaylie though looked absolutely awestruck. 

As Belle passed Kaylie, her friend reached out and grabbed her arm.

"Belles what are you doing?" Kaylie asked in a tight whisper.

"Don't worry." Belle said back reassuringly, pulling her arm away from Kaylie and continuing to follow Louis into the kitchen.

As they both entered the kitchen, away from everyone else, Louis cleared his throat awkwardly and pulled out a chair at the small table for Belle to sit in. She thanked him and sat down in it, and he sat across from her, obviously uneasy with the whole situation.

"So I just wanted to clear some things up." Belle said immediately, jumping right into her spill which she had come up with spur of the moment. "It's not really a big deal, I just don't want us to be weird around each other you know?"

Louis tilted his chin down and cocked an eyebrow. "O...kay?" He said apprehensively.

"So first of all, I just want to clarify that even though we were together a long time ago, and even though I broke your heart, which I'm still sorry about, I don't want there to be any tension between us." She said professionally and confidently. "It's perfectly normal for people who used to date to be friends and coworkers. Because I mean we are technically coworkers now since I got signed, we all even have to go to the Syco Ball together later this month. So I just want us to both be happy, and not weird around each other." She finished with a smile.

Louis looked on in awe. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Belle was basically saying that she wanted them to be friends, nothing more ever again.

"Wow." Was all he could muster.

Belle looked around and chuckled awkwardly. "Wow what?" She asked in a confused manner.

Louis just shook his head, never looking away from her. "Niall was right. You've changed. You're not...you're not Belle anymore." He said sadly.

The smile faded from Belle's face and she pursed her lips tightly. She stood up from her chair and walked over to Louis. He tensed as she leaned down and kissed his cheek lingeringly. 

"I'm still Belle." She said directly in his ear, before leaning back and looking in his eyes. "Just a better version of myself."

Louis' eyes got wide as he took in her deep words. Belle smiled and stepped back, standing to her full height. She extended her hand out to Louis.

"What do you say?" She asked with a light smile. "Friends?"

Louis looked down at her outstretched hand and smiled sadly to himself, standing up as well. He took her hand in his own and shook it.

"Friends." He said with a nod of his head. Belle smiled and nodded back before taking her hand out of his and walking back into the living room without another word.

Once Belle was out of earshot, Louis mumbled two words under his breath.

"For now."

***

"Niall you ready to go?" Belle said cheerfully once she stepped back into the room where the others were. "Hey why isn't Zayn here?" She suddenly asked, realizing that one fifth had been missing this whole time.

Louis came in behind her, chuckling. "Who ever knows where Zayn is." He muttered, smiling.

The other boys and Kaylie looked at them skeptically, all wondering what their talk had been about. Liam was the first to speak though.

"Uh, Zayn's actually on vacation with Ashlyn this week. They should be back in a couple days though."

Belle smiled. "Oh good, another girlfriend that I'll have to approve of." She said with a wink, ignoring everyone's stares. She looked back at Niall again. "You ready to head out?" She asked him and Kaylie.

Niall nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'll see you boys later, I'm going to take Belle and Kaylie back to Kaylie's place."

The other boys nodded and called out goodbyes, and Belle walked over and hugged Liam and Harry tightly, making them promise to come see her again before the Syco Ball, which was in two weeks. 

Belle was about to turn around and head towards the front door with Niall and Kaylie when she suddenly stomped her foot dramatically and turned towards Niall. "Oh shoot! I forgot that I need to go by Syco and pick up some paperwork."

"You do?" Niall asked. He didn't remember her saying anything before about paperwork. 

Belle looked at him intently. "Yeah of course. Remember, that paperwork I told you about? Before?" She said with emphasis, trying to get him to go along. He looked at her incredulously but went along with it anyhow.

"Oh uh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot for a second." He said with a furrowed brow. "Do you...need me to take you?" He asked slowly.

Belle smiled, relieved that he was catching on. "Yes actually, that would be wonderful."

"Wait, then who's going to take me home?" Kaylie suddenly asked from behind Belle. 

Belle grinned. This was where her plan was going into action. She turned quickly on her heel and plastered a fake look of surprise on her face.

"Oh darn it, I'm sorry Kayles. I'm sure one of the boys wouldn't mind taking you back to your place. What about you Harry?" Belle asked enthusiastically, turning and looking at Harry with a wide grin. 

Belle could feel Kaylie's eyes burning into the side of her skull. Kaylie wasn't dumb, she knew what was going on at this point.

"Me?" Harry asked. "But, I didn't drive here." He said slowly.

"Oh I'm sure Liam wouldn't mind letting you drive his car, right Liam?" 

"Um, I guess not but--"

"Alright then it's settled!" Belle interrupted Liam with a clap of her hands and a smile. "Niall will take me to Syco to pick up the papers, and Harry will drive Kaylie home. Great! Let's go!" 

Belle set out for the front door again, Niall and Harry looking at each other in confusion but following her nonetheless, and Kaylie quickly falling into step beside her.

"What the hell are you doing?" Kaylie hissed.

Belle smiled and kept walking, out the door and onto Louis' driveway. She walked over to Niall's passenger side and opened the door. Just before stepping in though, she turned back to Kaylie and smiled. "You're going to thank me for this one day, I promise." She said confidently, closing the passenger door behind her before Kaylie could protest any more.

Kaylie huffed and looked back behind her, seeing Niall and Harry step out, both holding keys. They were talking to each other with confused looks.

As they both approached her, Kaylie smiled and chuckled awkwardly. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked down at the ground as Harry got closer, staring at her all the while. 

"So uh, I'll see you around mate." Harry said to Niall. He then looked back at Kaylie. "Erm, you ready to go?" He asked.

Kaylie risked a glance up and saw this Harry's green eyes were staring her down intensely. She managed to nod, her hair falling slightly in front of her face. If only she knew how much that small action drove Harry wild.

With that, Niall said his goodbyes and got into his vehicle with Belle, the two of them driving off. Kaylie and Harry both awkwardly walking over to Liam's car, Harry opening the passenger door for Kaylie. She thanked him so softly he almost didn't catch it. As he got in on the driver's side and started up the car, Kaylie took in a deep breath and prepared herself.

She was going to kill Belle when this was over.

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