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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32. “Let’s go to London.”

I told myself at the beginning of the week that if I packed two or three items per day it would prolong the anticipation for Friday to arrive.

     My duffel was packed by Tuesday.

     Tiny shavings of wood curled itself under my nails as I scratched the desk at school whilst boring my eyes on the clock that slowly ticked away the hours of the day. It was finally Friday and I'd chewed most of my pencils all the way to the graphite core before discarding them rather slowly in the bin across the classroom. I could tell from the slight twitch in Abby's composure that she was losing patience with my impatience.

     "I swear, I look at the clock and the hands don't move," I exasperated, which caused her to snap.

     "Then stop looking at it," she said bluntly, drawing my face away from the far wall and to hers. "Look, I know you're excited-"

     "That's an understatement," I cut in. Abby rolled her eyes, "Whatever. The point is there's no good staring at a clock because it will just eat you inside. Distract yourself."

     How could I distract myself when my boyfriend was probably waiting for me to finish school so he can whisk me away to London? I only got a glimpse of the city as Noah drove out of it after picking me up from the airport, but from what I saw I wanted to taste more. And who better to experience it with than Harry?

     But first I needed a distraction for the last session of the day. Both Abby and I had a spare, which made occupying my giddy mood almost hopeless. Regardless, I had a question for Abby that I hadn't yet let fall from my curious lips.

     "What's going on with you and Niall?" I spoke up and as the words soaked into Abby her whole face burned pink.

     "Nothing- I don't know. We've been texting and stuff but- oh Ellie, stop looking at me like that!"

     I couldn't conceal the smirk on my face. Abby almost screamed of embarrassment and I couldn't help but giggle.

     "What about Oliver? Talked to him much?" I asked.

     Abby shrugged with a sigh before saying, "The complete opposite actually. We used to text heaps but I've barely heard from him for the last week and, well, you've seen how quiet he's been at lunch."

     Yeah, that was true. I first noticed it the day after my birthday after I'd stopped filling in the group of the present Harry had given me the night before. Oliver was forking his plate of potato gems rather distantly and flickering his gaze between Abby and her phone. Even I knew what jealousy looked like and the brooding it accompanied. How silly it was to be the outside observer whom recognised two lovers far from realising they both felt the same way.

     "Do you think it could be, y'know, jealousy?" I said. Abby looked at me like I just told a joke and burst out with a quick shrill of laughter. "Jealous? Of what?"

     "You and Niall," I said rather obviously. She was about to protest when I continued, "Think about it. A hot-shot pop star from a world famous boy band swoops in and takes his best friend without a smudge of hesitation while he spent years winning you over. Don't you think Oliver would make light of the idea that someone with a vast music difference can impress you so quickly? There was a time you two laughed at me for asking if Harry went to this school."

     Abby just stared dubiously at me. "You're just tying ends that don't necessarily need to be met."

     "Fine, but talk to Oliver. He's your best friend and if there's tension, sort it out."

     She smiled almost gratefully and stayed quiet for a moment before saying, "Y'know, before you, I didn't really have a girl friend to talk about this stuff with. Harriet and Jasmine are great and all, but it's always been Ollie who I've talked to and even then he's still a guy. So thanks."

     Before I could respond, she pulled me into a backbreaking hug and I laughed breathlessly. When we pulled away, I glanced at the clock at it was finally the end of the session. My heart jumped nervously and I almost burst out with my excitement. I parted ways with Abby and half walked half jogged out of the school only to come to a abrupt stop upon seeing the mass of girls around one car in particular: Harry's.

     I saw his curls, all tousled off his forehead above the crowd and moved rather hesitantly to join the collection of iPhones and fans calling Harry's name. It seemed strange that I too had to grab his attention over the other girls, so I stood at the back of the group and waited until after he signed and took photos. To say I was used to this was a lie. I'd never been so disbelieving that this wasactually his life and that this sort of attention was given almost non-stop. It seemed that the only time I felt normal with Harry was in the comfort of our little houses on our little street. And we were about to go to gigantic London.

     "Ellie!" Harry's familiar voice called, and some familiar students from the lower grades caught my attention with wary gazes as I awkwardly made my way through and into Harry's embrace. "Thought I'd pick you up but I had a feeling this would happen," he said quietly.

     "S'alright. I'll wait in the car while you finish, yeah?" I said. His eyes seemed hesitant, but he nodded regardless. I got into the passenger seat and watched from the tinted window as Harry continued to sign and take photos, and none of them even bothered caring that his girlfriend was waiting in the car behind him.

     Eventually, Harry made haste and got into the drivers seat, and the girls slowly dwindled away, watching rather indiscreetly as we drove off.

     "Sorry that took so long," he sighed, leaning his arm over the gearstick to hold my hand. "I know how excited you are for this trip." He gave it a light squeeze and I returned a smile.

     "I've survived all day, a couple more minutes didn't hurt," I reassured. Harry took his eyes off the road to flash me a smile. "You'd be surprised how restless I was too. I think I surprised myself."

     We just turned into our street when Harry said, "Go shower, get your bag and we'll go, yeah?" I nodded and he dropped me off out front of my house before parking in his driveway. Without seeming too keen, I walked briskly inside and once the door was closed, I nearly tripped running up the stairs to collect the clothes I prepared on the bed and made haste to start showering. The next half hour was a nervous and excited daze as I put on makeup and grabbed my bag before heading downstairs to say goodbye to Noah and Lottie.

     "Stay safe, alright?" Lottie said after hugging me.

     "Fairly sure Harry carries, like, ten body guards with him 24/7," I joked, and Lottie said, "I wonder if I'll ever see the day when Noah gets that." Noah just rolled his eyes.

     "Just have fun, London is fantastic," he said, punching my arm. I bit back a curse and punched him back, saying my final farewells and carrying my duffel across the street to put into Harry's car. Harry was waiting against the back, the setting sun casting an orange glow off his Ray Bans, and a loose black t-shirt that revealed his collarbones inked with two swallows. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I thought he was divine.

     Once we were in the car, he turned to me and leaned over the seat to kiss me hard. I hadn't kissed him since earlier in the week, and all my nervous knots came untied like silk. "You ready?" he asked.

     "Let's go to London," I confirmed, smiling almost breathlessly as Harry sped down the street, and I rolled down the window and let the sunset consume me as we drove over the horizon.

     The trip took little under three hours, driving through peak hour traffic filled with the tired working-class eager to get home for their well-deserved weekend. Harry kept the radio low as we talked about everything and nothing to consume the long drive, and I never got tired of listening to him talk. His voice had this unique heavenliness that captured almost anyone who heard it. Perhaps that's why I was so frustrated with him at the beginning of our friendship; he had the ability to control my body and not knowing how really irritated me. But when he sang, I understood. I understood why people fall in love with him, why they're hooked. He was more than just a pretty face, he was art. He was sculpted to almost perfection that made him a riddle to work out the flaws. Sometimes I think I see them, hidden behind his eyes when he talks about family. His dad left at a very young age, leaving him a child robbed of a parent and giving all his love and faith to his mother. Then I realised why he found it so hard to accept that he cared for me- because unlike the undying love from his mother, I can leave, and the thought scares him. Harry Styles is given love, but his flaw is being able to love in return. I don't consider him damaged, I consider him human. Strip down all that fame and attention and you have a boy, all raw and tender, and that's the boy that I've come to adore.

     Harry caught me in my stare and grinned, producing both dimples and raised eyebrows. "What you staring at?"

     "You," I said, taking his hand off his lap and placing it onto mine. He traced circles appreciatively on my thigh, and we spent the rest of the drive in silent serenity. By the time we got to London, night had taken over and the city was lit with bright, gorgeous lights, reminding me of Brisbane back home in Australia. But this, this did not compare to my small city. This was a grand capital consumed by brightness and energy and life. Exactly how I felt when Harry kissed me. I wasn't so scared of leaving our little houses on our little street anymore, and maybe it was better that I was leaving the nightmares behind- because that's where they all started. Maybe this weekend was my escape.

     Even in the night, as we approached our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental was lit like a candle and grand like an old royal castle. I instantly felt the buzz of nervous anticipation again, but now with Harry by my side, it wasn't so intense.

     We checked in and had our bags carried up to our room, which I nearly flipped over when I saw it. Against the wall was a luscious king-sized bed adorned with orange and white throw pillows and a silk throw at the foot. The navy blue base matched nicely with the thick curtains pinned back to reveal a large window overlooking Hyde Park under the glowing street lamps below. Everything was so timeworn and beautiful, and once the bellhop left the room I threw my arms around Harry and kissed him so passionately I could have sworn my legs would cave in.

     "This is the best birthday present," I grinned into his lips before slipping off my flats and untying Harry's Converse.

     "What are you doing, you moppet," Harry laughed as I took his hand and hopped onto the bed, bringing him to stand with me.

     "I've always wanted to do this," I beamed before becoming my child-self jumping on an inflatable castle. That's how I felt, I felt like a princess and to me this is how princesses behaved. Carefree and happy and in love.

     Harry's hair bounced to the rhythm of our jumps and his smile was so broad I couldn't help but return it. He too looked like a Prince, all charming and reckless, and this is how I wanted to spend my forever. I wanted to lock myself in this moment and keep jumping, to forget about school and work and nightmares and just jump.

     Harry took me by the waist and we fell to the mattress with an oomph, but we were laughing regardless.

 

     "Why don't we get something to eat?" he winked, taking me by the hand. I took one last look at the room and captured it in my head, because if I couldn't jump forever, I wanted to remember the moment when I did.

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