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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17. Harry Styles from One Direction

The hot, steaming water melted through my dark hair and flushed down my back until it poured thickly into the shower drain. No amount of soothing and cleansing could wash away the feeling of being covered in the dirt from sleeping in the front yard. If you even called that situation sleeping.

     I exited the damp space and wiped the condensation off of the mirror to assess my bare body, still beaded with droplets of cool liquid. I barely even acknowledged the fact that my Australian tan was wearing off and that I was beginning to turn a pale, porcelain shade; I was more focused on searching for any signs of my body being tampered with. No bruises shadowed my skin, nor did cuts or healing wounds deform me either. But, as if I could see into myself, I knew that my mind was damaged. It was damaged so badly that I needed to question my sanity, question what I believed was real. Of course, this body-this life-felt real; I just didn't know what else I was disregarding as a subconscious memory. I wanted to believe I sleepwalked last night, but the placement of my body was too accurate and the sheets I fled from matched the reminiscence of the nightmare. The only thing missing was my neighbour, who, no doubt, was still snoring under his duvet in his house across the road.

     Yet, at 10am, I got a knock at the door.

     Harry stood casually whilst holding two takeaway coffees in one large hand and a plastic bag that smelt of pastry goods in the other. He flashed his award-winning smile, and he was probably too caught up in his own self to notice the shiver of fear that crawled up my spine. If only he knew why his smirks left me frightened rather than flustered.

     "I'm calling this a peace offering," Harry proposed, weighing the two handfuls as an indication.

     "For what?" I asked.

     "For yesterday," he said, and my heartbeat jolted sharply. I felt the colour wash from my face, and Harry must've caught on to it too, for his own face contorted into slight confusion. "...When I made that comment about you and the party."

     "Right!" I said, snapping out of my paranoia and easing my breath. "Of course-come in, but honestly it's fine."

     "Fine is not a word I'd choose for how you look right now. Are you alright?" Harry asked as he entered the empty house.

     "Yes, really, I'm okay," I lied. "But if you don't mind me asking, were you at my house late last night at any point?"

     "Not that I can think of," Harry pondered whilst chewing on one of the vanilla slices he pried from the bag. "Wait-why would you even think that? Did you see me-or dream about me or something?"

     My lack of speech answered that before I could get a chance, and Harry's eyebrows rose in amusement. "You did?! Were we, y'know, in a heated situation?"

     "No!" I blushed vigorously.

     "Ellie Harper had a sex dream about me," he mused, and I could see the bloody git cheering about it in his big head under all those thick curls.

     "What happened to settling with peace?" I snapped, grabbing the plastic bag. "Aren't these supposed to be an apology, not a sweet compromise so you can continue to tease?"

     "Sorry," he mumbled through his chewed food before winking coquettishly.  "I can't help reacting to being someone's wet dream."

     "You weren't-and it wasn't," I groaned, smacking him on the arm. If only it actually was a dream as sweet as those vanilla slices rather than of poison. I knew telling him that he really just brutally murdered me, for what felt like the hundredth time, would be worse than sticking with what he assumed.

     A flash spread through the windows and almost instantly afterwards a rumble shook the house, and out of shock I grabbed Harry's arm like my life literally depended on it. Not long after, the sound of thick, heavy rain beat down against the roof. Harry raised his eyes from my grasp to my whitened face with eyebrows arched.

     "What's the matter?" His eyes deepened beneath shadowy eyelashes. "Scared of storms?"

     I retracted my sharp grip and turned away from them, unknown to him that those deep, darkened green irises brought so much pain and torment that I could barely sleep at night. Yet, when they lightened back to a glistening jade, I remembered that he was all charm and no vehemence-maybe even a little sulky, but never furious.

     "I should go before it gets heavier," Harry said hesitantly as he looked out at the pouring rain.

     "Aw, afraid your perfectly styled curls will get wet?" I taunted and he sent me a glare. Ha, so I was right.

     Harry went home not long after and I was once left alone with no other human company. I didn't count the monsters in my head as company either, but I didn't have to worry about them as long as I stayed awake.

 

***

 

Another week went by but the feeling of being alone didn't leave me. I got a call from Lottie asking how I was and I could hear Noah whinging about me in the background. All was well on their trip and the gigs they performed were received better than ever.  For me, on the other hand, I was still having short, violent dreams that I was best not to talk about in fear of bringing up the memory. Thank God I woke up in my bed rather than outside, though.

     It continued to rain heavily throughout the entire week, which meant staying indoors on my weekend off.

     There had to be something I could occupy myself with while it rained outside, and I sure was craving a bowl of cereal. Step one was finding the box in the pantry, in which I discovered a half empty box of Coco Pops and step two was combining the milk-which was definitely down to the last drop in the carton. I sighed heavily and slammed the fridge door closed, and looked out at the drizzling rain. I could just run down to Billy's Supermarket...

     Once the rain settled, I grabbed a thick jacket from my bedroom and swung the hood over my head before beginning my walk down the street. Everything smelt of the fresh downpour, the grass had soaked up the rain and released a fragrance that could only be created in weather like this. The sky rumbled from a near distance and I quickened my pace-the last thing I wanted was to be stuck out in this storm once it started back up again. Upon seeing the supermarket in close range, I quickened my pace and made it through the doors not long after the rain started bucketing down. I couldn't salvage my hair under the hood and it clung to my face, beads of cold water rolling down my skin. Thankfully my jacket soaked up most of the rain before it made it to my undershirt. I took it off and hung the sodden material over my arm, walking over to the back fridges to collect the milk. Amidst shivering violently, I searched for the cheapest brand on offer, but right now the only thing I could think of was how I was most likely going to get a cold after this.

     Deciding on a foreign name that was on sale, I whipped open the fridge door, reached hastily for the carton and slammed it shut before the freezing air burned my skin. I only lightly succeeded, but I had to rub my forearms to create friction so it'd stop me from shivering.

     As I made my way to the front cashier, I looked out the window and saw nothing but a grey blur. The rain was pouring so heavily that I couldn't even make out the car park. Shit, I have to walk home in that, I thought.

     I was so dazed by the glistening speed of the raindrops attacking the glass that I barely realised that the person in front of me in the line was taking forever to purchase their goods. My ears were filled with a girlish giggle and that's when I saw him.

     Harry was leaning over the counter with a chocolate bar in hand, dimples pressed into his cheeks and damp curls still styled. How the hell did he make it here and have not a curl out of place? My hair looked more like a sticky, frizzy mess from the humidity alone. The girl behind the cash register was blushing furiously and watching Harry under mascara-thickened eyelashes. She wasn't exactly unattractive, either. Her blonde hair was pulled up in a ponytail high atop her head, her plump, pink lips parting for another laugh. God, he was a flirtatious git-not that I really cared. Yet, a small ache twisted inside my stomach and I didn't dare consider it a sign of envy. So, I rolled my eyes and waited for Harry to finally pay for his things, but he just kept standing there and talking to her like there was no one else waiting in line. Well, it was only me, but I still matter.

     I was patient for the first two minutes, but then he just continued on and on. Finally, I snapped.

     "Are you going to buy that or are you going to let me buy mine?" I spoke up, breaking the two from their little world. Harry disconnected his gaze from the girl to look at me. I swallowed hard, trying my best not to detect any aggression in his luminescent green irises. Of course, all I was given were eyebrows slightly arched in surprise and a curious smirk painted on his lips. He was most likely thinking about me stalking him-as per usual.

     "Oh, sorry, I didn't even see you standing there," Harry mused, retreating from the counter and handing the cash over to the girl, who was casting me vicious glares. "Looks like our little chat is over," he murmured to her, and for a moment she softened and battered those eyelashes again. I couldn't help but roll my eyes once more.

     The bell on the door indicated Harry's departure, and I made my way up to the counter.

     "Thanks a lot," the girl hissed in a thick, cockney accent, grabbing for the milk carton in my hand and swiping it harshly across the scanner.

     "Isn't it your job to serve the customers, not chat them up?" I bit back with equal venom. I didn't know why I was being so defensive; it was just Harry, for Christ's sake.

     "It isn't every day that Harry Styles is the customer," she said, and I raised an eyebrow.

     "I'm sorry you haven't seen him in a while, but you could just say hello and get on with what you get paid to do," I said, and she scoffed.

     "That is the first time I've seen him, and probably the last too," she huffed, obviously frustrated.

     "You're making him sound like he's someone important," I snorted, and the girl's expression went blank.

     "Are you serious." It wasn't a question, merely a blatant statement. "Of course he's freaking important! He's Harry Styles from One Direction!" She reached under the counter and pulled out the daily newspaper, slamming it on the surface for me to see. I picked it up, and on the cover were Louis, Zayn, Niall and Liam smiling for the camera, and in the middle was Harry. He was grinning up at me, mocking me, a month of secrets laced in that fake, little smirk.

     I couldn't even produce coherent words. I just kept blinking at the cover, at the sub-header that said:

     One Direction: The UK's biggest boy band!

     Everything after that went in slow motion. I snapped my head towards the magazine rack beside the counter; flicking through the assorted covers until I randomly found the five boys printed another, Harry seemingly prominent. How did I miss this? When I first arrived here, I listened to them on the radio. Lottie and Noah had an argument over them. And no wonder Abby and her friends were giving me such strange looks when I asked them if they knew Harry! They've all been under my nose this entire time, but I've been so blind. I guess it's easy to miss something you're not looking for.

     After the initial shock and hurt, anger and humiliation burned my cheeks. Harry had been hiding this from me for over a month now, and all those times he acted so up himself, he was just mocking the fact that I was oblivious to his fame.

     With the newspaper clenched tightly in my hand, I slammed some coins on the counter before my feet made for the door, and I submerged into the rain with only the sound of the cashier's voice telling me I forgot the milk.

     I made my way through the thick rain, nearly blinded to the point of stopping. But I had to catch up to Harry. I had to confront him whilst my rage was at its peak.

     Suddenly, a male figure came into my sight. He was just at his car as I took in a deep breath and yelled, "Harry Styles!"

     The person halted and turned around, Harry's face hidden beneath the umbrella clutched in his hand.

     "Ellie-?"

     "Harry Styles," I repeated, standing a metre away from him, my fists clenching and unclenching. Harry raised an eyebrow, clearly amused by my repetition.

     "Yes, I am fully aware that that it is my name-"

     "Harry Styles from One Direction," I snapped, and the smirk on his face fell.

     "What?" he faltered, blinking rapidly.

     "All this time-the ‘you don't know who I am's' and your mediocre band "White Eskimo". You knew I didn't know who you were, yet you played me for an entire month!" My voice ended in a shrill. It all made sense now, why Louis was so hesitant and why Harry was the first to lie about their band.

     "Let me explain-"

     "What is there to explain, Harry? How you thought humiliating me would be fun? Explain why you think so little of me? Did you tell Louis not to tell me about how fucking famous you actually are? Did you enjoy the fact that I didn't know?" I kept slamming him with questions until he cut in.

     "I did, actually," he said, silencing me. "You were the only person, till now, who didn't know I was famous. You may think I did it out of amusement, but I actually like you enough not to humiliate you that way."

     "You're so full of bullshit, Harry!" I scoffed. "Now that I think of it, you always had that sliver of enjoyment whenever you brought up your ‘identity' to me-or when you talked about your so-called band."

     "Okay, you're right, at first it was a bit entertaining, but after a while I kind of got used to your unawareness. When you looked at me, you didn't seen my fame or my wealth, you saw-"

     "-An arrogant asshole who, ironically, is the equivalent to a famous, wealthy person," I interjected, folding my arms. Even through the rain, I could see Harry's eyes softening.

     "I'm sorry, Ellie," he said so gently that I barely heard it over the pounding drops of water. I was still too hurt and humiliated to forgive him right now.

     "Just don't," I said through gritted teeth. I then realised that I was standing in the pouring rain in nothing but a completely drenched pair of sweats and a cardigan. The material was transparent and I could see my skin clear through the fabric.

     "Ellie, get under the umbrella, please-and let me take you home. You're going to get hard-core sick and I don't want to tutor that," Harry urged, watching as I became a shivering mess.

     "No, I can't be near you right now," I responded shakily, turning on my heel and running as fast as I could towards away from him.

     Harry's voice calling out my name was lost amongst the heaving drops of rain.

     I just ran and I didn't stop running until I reached the destination of the place I desired. There was only one house I wanted to be at right now other than my own, and I wouldn't stop until it was in full view. Eventually it emerged out of the rain and I ran breathlessly up to pound my fist against the door. I waited what felt like a thousand heartbeats before it swung open.

    "Ellie?"

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