The Direction of Fate

When Ellie Harper's parents ship her off from Australia to live with her brother in Holmes Chapel, England, the arrogant and obnoxious Harry Styles enters her life. Their frequent encounters have them both suspicious, but Ellie shrugs it off as just an irritating coincidence. But the more they see each other, the more she questions if this is something more than just chance. And it doesn't help that she has vivid nightmares involving her quite dominant and sadistic curly-haired neighbour.

Was this the direction of fate, or was the universe honestly burdening her with this pompous boy band member?

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3. A Proper Welcoming

The mirror haunted the image of my exhausted face, prominent purple shadows underlining my eyes and my black hair stuck out in different directions. After my dream, I refused to go back to sleep, so I just tossed and turned in my bed until the soft morning light leaked through the curtains. Deciding that it was bright enough outside to get up, I made for the bathroom and stared intently until I was so dissatisfied with my appearance, I did something about it.

     First I splashed my tired face with cold water and then tamed my knotted hair until it was flat and wavy against my shoulders. I glanced to the side and noticed the hair dye kit I bought yesterday laying on the marble counter, and I picked it up to examine the model on the front. Her hair was wavy and chocolate brown, her smile pinching up her face in an attempt to make the product appealing. Now that I had already purchased it, I opened up the box and drew out the contents onto the table. The instructions were simple, and I followed them by mixing together the two chemicals into a bottle and pulled the gloves over my hands. Applying the dye was just as simple, its brown liquid cooling my scalp as I covered my roots. About ten minutes later, my jet black hair was concealed in a blob atop my head. Following from the next steps, I occupied myself until the twenty minutes were up.

     I rolled the chair from my study desk to the window, plunking myself down in front of it after parting the blinds to let the light fully expose my room. Nothing significant showed itself on the quiet street except for the occasional flock of birds passing through the sky. A hooded figure crossed the street; the seemingly only living thing outside my window. Once they were out of view, I heard a knock at the door. Who was knocking at 7am?

     Knowing neither Lottie nor Noah were up, I reluctantly got up from my chair and headed downstairs. I opened the front door to see a broadly smiling Harry with his hands behind his back. His smile grew as he looked up at my head, and I suddenly remembered that the dye was still setting.

     "What a lovely look. A new colour? Brown, I see. Well, aren't you are an exciting one. Hmm, I actually prefer it black, but I could get used to this," Harry said, and then his eyes slowly made their way down my body. I must have been extremely tired and unaware of my attire, for I was wearing one of my overly large black concert t-shirts that covered my shorts, making it seem like I wasn't wearing any at all. Harry's smile changed from amusement to pleasure, and I self-consciously hid my body with the door.

     "What are you doing here so early?" I asked, and his green eyes removed themselves from my body to my eyes.

     "I feel like we both got off on the wrong foot, and I should properly welcome you to the neighbourhood," he said sincerely, producing a gift basket. I watched Harry carefully, and his lips twitched whilst trying to conceal a grin. My eyes involuntarily looked down at the contents as I took it in my hands.

     "It has all the necessities for living on this street," he announced proudly. I could see boxes of Aspirin, bandages and Band-Aids, protective pads, and a mouth guard amongst many items.

     Finally, Harry gave in and leaned forward, clutching his stomach and bursting into laughter.

     "Thank you," I sneered sarcastically. "That was very thoughtful of you."

     Harry composed himself and straightened up, wiping a tear from his eye. "I just thought because you have a tendency to injure yourself or those around you that this will be beneficial for everyone."

     "How did you even get these many drugs? Are you trying to kill me or...?" I asked, eying the various packets with concern.

     "I'm not asking you to take them all at once! But knowing you, you'll need most of it if you're to survive this week."

     "You don't even know me," I snapped. "Just because you assume I know you, doesn't mean it works the other way around too."

     Harry subtly smiled and rolled his eyes. "Look, just take the basket and consider ourselves friends?"

     "Hmm, usually people don't give me meds in return for friendship, but I think we can strike a deal," I said, receiving a curious and amused head tilt from him. I pried at the basket and produced a Band-Aid.

     "Here," I said, placing into his hand. There was a moment when our skin contacted each other, and it was incredibly warm. The chilly morning air was such a contrast, and I felt the urge to hold on to it to make up for my lack of clothing. Harry's hand clasped around the tiny packet, and my hand was included in the grip. I shivered and focused on my next move rather than get stuck holding onto this boy's big, rough hand. I lifted my foot and brought the heel down hard on Harry's foot. He let out a large yelp, letting me go to bring his leg into his arms and hopping on the spot. "You're going to need this."

     Harry scowled and stared at me wide-eyed. "What the bloody hell was that for?"

     "That is the beginning of our friendship," I beamed, my words laced with mockery and cheek. "Thanks again, Harry Styles. I'm looking forward to living on this street."

     Before I could shut the door, Harry reached out and blocked it with his arm. "Wait, I hardly think it's fair that you know my name and I don't know yours."

     My lips curled upwards and I said in a dull tone, "It's Ellie Harper, but you should know that, right?"

     Harry scoffed before I closed the door on him.

 

***

Harry's POV

     Though my foot was screaming out in pain, I couldn't help but smile. This girl was stubborn and sarcastic and like me. It frustrated me, to be honest, to have that competition. But I liked the fact that she played along with my joke, even though it rewarded me with throbbing toes. It was a reward in itself to see the leg connected to her fierce foot when she slammed it down on mine. It was somewhat sexy, and my imagination ran wild. A long, slim, tanned leg travelling up to her oversized black t-shirt, and I couldn't help but wonder what was beyond it.

     I shook my head to escape my reverie, turning on my heel and walking back to my house across the road. I glimpsed at the end of Ellie's driveway as I passed, remembering how clumsy she had been yesterday, and how she didn't know who I was. How the hell didn't she know? I was Harry freaking Styles, for crying out loud. I was 1/5 of the biggest and most popular boy band to date. Surely Australia wasn't that isolated from the world. Or perhaps she was as blunt as my first impression of her was. She'd been so oblivious to her own feet, and I had watched as she tripped over the edge of the curb and into the direct line of that bus. If I wasn't there to grab her, she'd be a mess on the bitumen. In all honesty, I was surprised my reaction time was so top.

     She was definitely different, and my mind struggled to decide if it excited me or pissed me off.

 

***

Ellie's POV      

     I ran back upstairs, the basket swinging in my grasp and a satisfied smile on my lips. It was about time to wash out my hair dye, so I placed the basket on my desk and made for the shower.

     The water spurted out in a hot rush, steaming the room almost instantly. I climbed in and shivered, my body adjusting to the temperature. Soon after, the water was running brown, the liquid pooling around my feet before swallowing down the drain. I managed to rinse as much of the dye as possible from my hair and the water eventually faded to a light cream.

     Finally, the new Ellie was complete. My hair was its natural colour, but there was still a faint tint of blank beneath the chocolate brown overlay.  Completely satisfied, I dried my hair and changed into my decent black clothing. I need to buy more clothing, I thought to myself.

     I went downstairs to find Lottie making coffee in the kitchen. She was wrapped in a fluffy, pale blue dressing gown with striped socks on her feet.

     "So, she's an early bird! Good morning," Lottie beamed. "Would you like a coffee?"

     "I couldn't really sleep, and I'd love one," I smiled, and she poured the already boiled kettle water into a second cup on the bench. She placed it in front of me, and I watched as the steam coiled from the milky liquid. I waited for it to cool, whereas Lottie clasped her cup in two dainty hands and blew on the top.

     "So, Ellie," Lottie said, "I heard someone knock this morning. Who was it?"

     "Oh, it was just a neighbour," I replied dismissively, trying to avert the topic.

     "Was it Anne from across the road? She's a lovely woman."

     "Um, no, it was a boy, um-his name is Harry," I said, trying to keep the casualness in my voice.

     Lottie's eyes brightened and she said, "Mm, that's Anne's son. Incredibly good looking boy, he is. What was he doing snooping around at 7am?"

     This was something I tried to avoid. Lottie seemed like the type of person to persist on finding out interesting things, and this seemed to drive her curiosity wild.

     "He wanted to welcome me to the neighbourhood," I said, waving my hand in the air. "Nothing interesting, honestly."

     Lottie raised an eyebrow and made a throaty noise before dropping the subject.

     "Well, anyway, we have a fairly eventful day today. We need to get you enrolled at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive, and pick up your uniform while we're at it. We're going down to the school around midday."

     "Cool," I murmured, and I held my breath for a moment. New school, new friends, and Harry. He'd most likely be popular. Would he give me a hard time?

     "Well, don't sound so excited. And don't worry, it's a nice school; you'll fit in fine."

     I nodded nonchalantly, doubting otherwise, and taking my first sip of the bitter substance.

     The one thing that kept me positive about this was that I could finally take charge of the new Ellie.

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