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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15. Heartbeats and Shivers

It was a pleasant surprise when my phone buzzed.

     I honestly hadn't expected to receive a text message from Louis that Friday afternoon as I walked home from school-especially after initiating that awkward first call. But, I felt like if I were to send the first text too, I'd be breaching on overly keen.

     Nevertheless, the text brought the first and only smile to my face that day. As per usual, I woke this morning with a scream and fatigue, and the tiredness plagued me throughout my classes. I'm fairly sure I'm known at school as the "Aussie girl who sleeps all the time", but only if they knew that sleep was my worst enemy and I was just paying for trying to escape it.

     Louis' text provided my mind with the invitation to the perfect distraction; he sent me the official time to go over to his apartment on Saturday. Of course I accepted, and I couldn't help that feeling of importance from a guy whose first impression was so kind. Speaking of impressions, Harry's weren't improving one bit. If it were possible for someone to be permanently sulky, he was doing a damn good job at sustaining the disposition. After a while, I finally admitted that it was me he didn't want to be around, but when I asked him if he wanted to stop tutoring me, he'd lost a shred of his guarded expression before saying ‘it was my choice'. I still needed lessons, so I shrugged off the suggestion and left it unanswered. There's no knowing how that boy maintained friendly relationships; especially when I see him stumbling home some nights after what I can only assume was a big night. I wondered what kind of party person he was, and I snickered at the thought of me showing up and killing his buzz. That's most likely going to happen when I show up to Louis' apartment tomorrow. But to be honest, I couldn't even begin to estimate his reaction. There's no denying how he feels about me hanging out with his mates; especially Louis.

     I'd cross that bridge when it arrived, but for now I had a shift at work till late that I prayed I wouldn't fall asleep during.

 

***

 

The thick black door stood tall amid the open space, and I prepped myself with deep, controlled breaths.

     You can do this, I thought to myself.

     But that was a lie. I knew who was behind that door, and it brought a stream of pure fear and anxiety to thicken in my veins and tighten up the muscles. My fate was inevitable; I just had to stop prolonging it and face the nightmare.

     Slowly, I took cautious steps over the rocky ground until my fingertips could touch the rough wood and knock my knuckles against the front. My heartbeat ticked like a clock, waiting for the moment when the door swung open and revealed what I didn't want to see. But, like I said, it was inevitable.

     His flaming green eyes were the first thing to greet me when the door opened. I'd expected him to be surprised of my presence, but only a bitter smirk twisted his expression as he leant against the frame.

     "Harry, he invited me-"

     "I knew you couldn't resist," he chuckled, cutting me off. "'Oh Ellie, I would love to see you! Please come over; Harry won't mind!' Well, I do."

     I went to take a quick step back, but my haste caused me to stumble over the small step until I crashed to the stones.

     Harry rolled his eyes and snickered venomously. "Your clumsiness will get you killed one day."

     I was ripped to my feet and found myself pressed firmly against Harry's chest, his hot breath emitting his rage. "Did you think you'd get away with defying me? Did you think I would let you love anyone but me?"

     "I don't love him," I hissed. "And I don't love you either."

     My moment of strength was shredded as fast as it had come when Harry dug his hand straight into my chest. My lips fell in the perfect 'O' as his fingers drove up my ribcage and around my heart.

     "If this doesn't beat for me," he whispered carefully, and I listened. I was in his control. "It doesn't beat for you either."

     I had enough life in me to watch my heart be ripped out and lay flat in his palm before that was pulled away too.

 

***

 

You'd probably understand why coming face to face with Louis' apartment door would scare me more than ever. After waking up from that dream and almost frantically searching for my heart, the thought of it being taken again nearly had me running for the hills. But, it was just a dream, and I knew Harry wasn't capable of that power. And he didn't have this psychopathic attachment to me.

     I made my way up the pebble path that cold Saturday morning to the opposing white door, and I snuggled further in the thick coat I sported as I waited for my knock to be responded to.

     The lock clicked and I expected to see Louis but I was welcomed by Harry's smiling face. It slackened with surprise, clearly not expecting to see me standing before him. To be honest, I was quite taken aback to see him greeting me too. This all felt uncannily alike my dream, and I questioned if by chance they were alternative scenarios of future events.

     "What are you doing here?" Harry said, blinking twice. The bluntness of his tone had my feet close to turning away from the door, but Louis' presence behind Harry stopped me.

     "She's here because I asked her," he said, smiling broadly. "So, be a gentleman and invite her in, Harry."

     Harry refused to make eye contact as he moved out of the way to let me in. The door slammed awfully loudly behind me, but Harry shrugged it off as carelessness.

     Louis' apartment was narrow, but the small interior was compensated with modern decor that could only come from a wealthy background. There were large mosaic pieces adorning the white walls and complementary black leather couches against the lights in the low ceiling. I barely knew Louis, but having a fair knowledge of his easy-going personality, I wouldn't have thought he'd choose to rent an apartment that's so precise.

     "The band is upstairs, if you'd like to meet them," Louis said, leading me up the steel staircase that allowed my imagination to conjure ideas of even more designed rooms. Harry trudged up behind us at an annoyingly emphasised pace, but I couldn't care less. Louis invited me over, and I wasn't here to please Harry. Not that I could do it anyway.

     The upper floor seemed more spacious than I had expected; especially when there was only one open room. The wooden floorboards spread all the way to the edges of large, sleek windows, and sitting in a circle on beanbags and side chairs were the three other boys I'd seen at work. They were all leaning attentively towards us and smiling in a friendly gesture.

     "Guys, I think this is a better introduction to Ellie than the one where she takes our orders," Louis said. "And, Ellie, this is Zayn, Liam and Niall."

     I tried to stick their faces to names in my head to avoid the awkward forgetfulness in the future. And once getting a better look at them, I noticed how all five of these boys had such attractive features. If their band weren't popular, they had to be doing something wrong.

     "We've been working on our new album," Louis continued as we joined the group. The one called Niall had a guitar under his arm, his fingers strumming delicately over the strings. "You're lucky we're showing you this; we haven't let anyone listen to it yet," he said, continuing to strum. Hm, and he had an Irish accent.

     I sat patiently as the song started, and the boys tapped rhythmically with Niall's playing. Harry, on the other hand, just nodded unenthusiastically to the tune.

     "Your hand fits in mine like it's made just for me," Zayn sang in a smooth, controlled voice, sending the first shiver through my body. "But bear this in mind, it was meant to be. And I'm joining up the dots with the freckles on your cheeks and it all makes sense to me." Liam joined in to form the perfect harmony.

     The second shiver came not long after when Liam took over, "I know you've never loved the crinkles by your eyes when you smile. You've never loved your stomach or your thighs. The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine, but I'll love them endlessly."

     The boys all smiled between each other and occasionally glancing my way to see my response. All I could do was grin hopelessly at their soppy lyrics.

     The chorus flowed through and they sang in synchronisation. "I won't let these little things slip out of my mouth. But if I do, it's you, oh, it's you they add up to. I'm in love with you and all these little things."

     Louis was next to sing, "You can't go to bed without a cup of tea, and maybe that's the reason that you talk in your sleep. And all those conversations are the secrets that I keep, but it makes no sense to me." He shot me a wink and there was no telling if a blush crept up on my cheeks or not. I just hoped the warmth wasn't noticeable. Harry must have caught on to it, for his attention was taken away and his cue was missed, resulting in Niall repeating the strings before he started. "I know you've never loved the sound of your voice on tape..." Harry's voice caught me off guard, the deep huskiness bringing back the memory of our small duo a couple of weeks ago. It seemed such a long time since then, but the shiver that melted my composure was stronger than the other voices combined. What made it worse was Harry's emerald eyes were so absorbed in the song that I was captured in them. "...You never want to know how much you weigh. You still have to squeeze into your jeans, but you're perfect to me."

     Again, they sang the chorus, and it gave me a moment to catch my breath. I'd never admit it out loud, but Harry's voice had such indescribable beauty that I doubted if he even realised. He was cocky, but when it came to singing, he was too emerged in his own talent for even him to take advantage of. This was the Harry I wish I met first.

     "Do you sing, Ellie?" Niall asked as he continued to play. I hesitated, the lump in my throat preventing me from replying.

     "She does," Harry spoke up, smirking at my discomfort. I narrowed my eyes, sending him one of those deadly looks. That little shit.

     "Want to sing this with me?" Niall asked, handing me a sheet of paper with the lyrics written on it. I wanted to say no, but when he started singing, I had to catch up. "You'll never love yourself half as much as I love you. And you'll never treat yourself right, darling, but I want you to." I was too shy to look up, so I sang to the paper and didn't even realise that I was singing alone. "If I let you know I'm here for you, maybe you'll love yourself like I love you."

     It was only when Harry starting singing that I looked up and realised everyone had their eyebrows raised towards me. I really couldn't tell if they were impressed or trying to find a reaction that wouldn't come off as insulting. Whatever look it was, I was internally freaking out. Trust me, having to sing in front of my music class wasn't as intimidating as this. Perhaps that's because this time I wanted to be as good as them.

     "Harry, you said she could sing but I wasn't prepared for that," Louis blinked in awe. "You take lessons, Ellie?"

     "Nope," I shrugged. "I used to sing with my brother but that was when we were kids."

     "Bloody hell," Liam breathed. "She's got talent."

     I didn't know how to react to this kind of attention. The last time I sang this intimately, Harry had-or might've-inclined to something I wasn't prepared for, so I was clueless as to how to handle the situation now. My whole life I'd been the underdog of the family, always having the spotlight stolen by my rockstar brother. Most kids care when they don't have the attention, but something told me that rebelling against my parents was the first step in winning their devotion. It definitely got me shipped off to another country.

     To change the subject, I stuttered, "I-It's a really nice song. You must have tonnes of supporters with this kind of music. What'd you call yourselves?"

     Louis' mouth parted, but Harry was quick to answer, "White Eskimo-we're called White Eskimo."

     The other boys exchanged glances at him and coughed before looking away. I'd had my questions about Louis being cautious when talking about his band, but I didn't realise it circulated around the whole group. Did I just create some awkward tension by asking?

 

I spent the rest of the afternoon eating a variety of chips that were mostly devoured by the five pubescent boys, and gradually letting loose on the reins that restrained my confidence to sing. Harry, too, was relaxing somewhat back into his usual smug attitude. Was it wrong to be somewhat relieved by it?

     After saying my goodbyes, I was caught up by Harry as I walked out the door. "Mind if I walk with you?"

     "Sure," I said into my coat. Being in Harry's silent presence was something I'd become accustomed to over the past couple of weeks, so the absent conversation didn't really phase me. Yet, I felt the urge to talk.

     "Y'know," I pondered, my voice breaking the thick ice of stillness. "I've known you for, like, a month and that was the first time you've told me the name of your band, Harry."

     "Guess I was waiting for the right moment," he shrugged. "Besides, it's not like I wanted some Aussie girl with her mainstream ways to get hooked on our music."

     Harry was back, I thought with a small smile.

     "You don't even know me," I snapped, stopping in my tracks. "And it's not like I would anyway; I have an acquired taste."

     "Please," he said, spinning around to face me. "Don't tell me you didn't shiver," he crooned, reluctantly making me do just that, "when we sang those adoring lyrics to you."

     "No," I retorted bitterly, swatting his shoulder. "You don't have that kind of effect on me."

     "We'll see," he winked smugly.

     Harry went to turn into his drive, but I quickly said, "So you're all of a sudden talking to me now?"

     There was a pregnant pause before he turned and grinned, "I'm over it, Ellie."

     Well.

     Wait, what exactly was he over? Whatever it was, I was strangely thankful to have my arrogant neighbour back.

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