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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21. Just One Photo

On an afternoon, whilst walking home on a particularly humid day for Holmes, I had my first taste of Harry's fame. I had dropped my bag inside and went back out to get the mail that had accumulated since Noah and Lottie's absence, in which I heard a distant squeal down the footpath.

     "Harry!" someone screamed out, and I turned to look across the road where Harry had just gotten out of his parked car in the driveway. Not a long while away were two girls, maybe a couple of years younger, trying to be casual about running up to him.

     "Hello!" Harry beamed, greeting the fans with a crooked smile- one of those sexy smiles you read about it in books. It was clearly for their benefit, and the response was received better than how I'd ever react if it were directed at me.

     "Can we get a photo?" one asked, her shaky voice deceiving her poise.

     "You sure can," Harry said, draping his arm around one of them as the other took the photo. He looked so confident staring into the lens, flashing a smile I'd seen so many times. In contrast to the weak, nervous smiles that they reciprocated, he came off as insanely confident. I guessed you really had to be when you were a global pop star-or Harry was just naturally full of his own charm.

      Amidst the camera snaps, he looked over and noticed me standing awkwardly with one hand in the mailbox.

     "Ellie!" he grinned, giving a wave. The girls' curious eyes snapped towards me and I felt suddenly exposed- exposed to Harry's fans and almost his entire world. All because two fans now knew of my existence. "Can you come take the photo for us?"

     At first I remained frozen and reluctant, but what good was I doing that? If word got out that I associated with Harry Styles, I'd rather I was portrayed pleasantly rather than star-struck.

     I made my way over to them and took the girl's iPhone whilst Harry draped an arm over both of their shoulders. Once I'd taken a few snaps, I handed back the phone. They exchanged their thank-yous to Harry and hugged him, and I couldn't help but admire his enthusiasm, even when his fans had actually come to his house. But they left giggling all because they met Harry Styles. I didn't think I'd ever be able to find it within myself to feel that satisfied when I saw him.

     "How are you?" he asked once they'd gone.

     "Tired, actually," I laughed. Heck, it wasn't at all a laughing matter. It was crazy how I couldn't even remember the last time I had a decent sleep, yet I'd still managed to hand in assignments and go to shifts. But after all that work was over, my body became an empty bottle, leaving only fatigue and faintness. I'd kill for a nap, but we all know what that world holds. "And how are you? Still saving the world, one fan at a time?"

     "Something like that," he smirked. The smile slowly faded and his eyes landed somewhere on my face. Before I had the chance to question him, he came closer and lifted his hand up to almost cup my jaw-but not quite. "There is a piece of hair that is seriously pissing me off," he said as he peeled the strand from my cheek. His touch sent a light shiver directly from the touch to my toes. Harry noticed my shutter of breath and smiled cockily.

     "Thanks," I said once snapping out of it and before he could respond in a sly manner.

     I went back inside my home and thought nothing of our encounter, but deep down there was an unmistakable itch of worry about his two fans.

 

***

 

When I said I was worried, I was right in thinking it. The next day at school, a deranged Abby pulled me aside when I arrived and whispered loudly, "You are now known."

     "What?" I said, blinking.

     "You are all over Twitter! Heck-even a gossip website has covered you!" Abby said much louder. I wasn't sure whether or not she was excited or panicking just as much as I was.

     "Wait, what do you mean," I gulped.

     "Someone got a photo of you in your school uniform with Harry outside his house," she said, showing me the said picture on her phone. It was a slightly out-of-focused snapshot of Harry holding my face from yesterday when he'd gotten the hair off. Now with the image stilled, it looked bad. Really bad. It must have been those two girls, as curious as they were. When I said I felt exposed, it didn't compare to how wretchedly bared I felt now.

     "What does the article say?" I asked, fearing the worst.

     Reading off of the screen, Abby said, "Is Harry Styles aiming lower this time? A photo has been posted on Twitter in the last few hours of the pop-sensation himself standing rather intimately with a student outside his family home, resulting in high controversy. The fan that posted the photo said that the girl lives directly across from our heartthrob in the quiet town of Holmes Chapel, where she also attends school. UPDATE: Sources have also provided us with the name of the 17-year-old: Ellie Harper, sibling to Noah Harper from the band ‘The Black Harps', who are touring this month. Has Harry Styles finally settled for someone younger than him, or is this some fling to pass the time whilst One Direction aren't working?"

     "You've got to be kidding," I groaned, smacking my head against the lockers. "That photo is bullshit! Harry was picking at a flaw-not being romantic!"

     "Admit it, though," Abby said. "This was inevitable."

     "That is not making me feel better."

     "It's not really supposed to; more of a ‘get used to it' kind of thing."

 

I'd never be able to get used to the stares I got for the rest of the day. Occasionally, a girl or two would approach me and ask me if I was dating Harry, which I told them blatantly no. Yet, despite my innocence, these fans were remorseless. Nothing I said really had an effect on them, and I didn't think it would until I said what they wanted to hear.

     I made it my first priority to see Harry after school, so I knocked quite frantically on his door until it opened. He stood there in a casual white shirt and jeans, leaning against the frame. "You do look rather dashing. Do I detect a hint of insane around the edges of your eyes?"

     "You know about the photo, don't you," I narrowed them.

     "I do, yes, and I can't say I'm not enjoying this, because I am," he said. God, I could've killed him.

     "I'm going to transfer schools," I said, "and move to Zimbabwe. Do you have fans in Zimbabwe? It doesn't matter. I need to get off the grid ASAP."

     "It's just a photo," Harry laughed. "Give it a week and they'll forget all about it. Rumours come off strong at first, but they eventually get dumped on the pile of the forgotten."

     "They know my name, Harry," I snapped. "With all these assumptions, I'm going to get listed as one of your freaking lovers!"

     "One of my lovers, aye?" he cooed, biting his bottom lip. He was really pissing me off.

     "You know what I mean!"

     "Ellie," he said softly, somewhat mockingly. "You have nothing to fear because we are not in a relationship and this is just a misunderstanding. Got it?"

     I narrowed my eyes further. The fact that he took this as an opportunity to torment me just goes to show how flippant he treated the situation. This must happen all the time for him-photos of himself with other girls taken in misleading conducts. But I knew how these things worked. Celebrities get hounded with any chance of relationship gossip until at least one is left bleeding. Harry was fairly confident it would be me.

     "You ruin my life, and I'll rip out your soul."

     "You're overreacting, Ellie!" he called out to me as I stormed back over to my house and slammed the door, his jeering voice merely an echo lost in the air.

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