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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18. "Now kiss."

"One Direction? Really?" I said exhaustedly, but there was no hiding the malice in my tone. Louis blinked in the same awestricken way as I had just seen Harry do only a short while ago. Those few shocked flutters of eyelashes and I was feeling the same gut-wrenching confirmation once again.

     Louis sighed and closed his eyes. "So Harry finally told you?"

     "No, actually," I snapped, my voice increasing in volume. "I had to find out from some gum-snapping, bleached blonde, check-out chick who, I am ashamed to admit, humiliated me too!"

     He was lost for words; his lips parted for speech but only light, incoherent mumbling fell from them. Clearly being outed on this little secret had left him quite unprepared. Trust me, I was feeling the same way.

     "I'm just so surprised that someone as nice as you could be keep up such a lie to another person," I said, my breath shuttering to prevent myself from losing control. "God, and I really didn't want to think you were like Harry."

     Louis' eyes flashed of hurt before I turned on my heel and prepared to greet the rain once more. I was satisfied with letting my anger out, but nothing could replace the empty hole where I once kept their trust.

     A warm hand wrapped itself around my upper arm and swung me back around, and Louis said, "It's pouring down, and you're soaking! You can't go running back in it."

     "Louis, I honestly couldn't care less," I said wearily.

     "Just stay until the rain stops, alright?" he said, smearing away the residue from my cheekbone to my jaw. "And I am really, really sorry about everything."

     God, I hated how sincere his bright aqua eyes were. All my disgust for his dishonesty completely obliterated when he held my gaze. I guessed that was the hopeless, teenage girl in me.

     I entered into the warmth of Louis' apartment, the stark contrast in temperature from outside to the heated room sent my body shuddering violently. Louis rushed from the room and came back with a towel, in which he draped it over my sodden clothes and rubbed it to create friction. I couldn't help but laugh as his hands worked over all my ticklish spots whilst drying me off. "Louis-ha-stop!" I squealed.

     "I need to stop you from shivering, you goose," Louis smiled whilst towelling my hair. I feared what it looked like, for I expected it to have turned into a frizzy bird nest.

     "Don't you have a heater I can sit by instead?" I chattered, clutching the towel around me. Louis took my shoulders and led me to a small electric fireplace to the side of the lounge, and I sought warmth from the heat radiating by plunking myself right in front of it on the floor. Louis sat himself on the couch and turned on the television at low volume, but it was overthrown by the sound of the pouring rain.

 

"It's not getting any lighter," I sighed, resting my head on my hand as I looked out the window an hour later. By the clock on the wall, it had just gone past 5 in the afternoon-it'd be getting dark soon.

     "I could try driving," Louis suggested, but I shook my head.

     "You'll kill us both in this weather," I said.

     "Well," Louis said, jumping up from his seat. "I'd be a bad host if I didn't cook you something." He made for the kitchen and started piling ingredients out onto the marble bench.

     "I make an incredible Spaghetti Bolognese, but Harry makes it better," Louis said. I looked away and focused on my fingernails before saying, "I guess I'll never know."

     "You can't stay mad at Harry Styles forever," Louis smiled.

     "God, it's still weird knowing that his name-even your name-is spoken worldwide," I shook my head. "And I sure can try."

     Louis paused mid-dicing tomatoes. "When you went home after you were here last, I asked him why he said White Eskimo-why he lied to you."

     "And," I grumbled, not really caring about the answer.

     "Well first he told me to shove off, but I finally got a response out of him. He said that people look at him differently when they know he's famous-they have this hierarchy of respect. But when you look at him, you always seem to want to give him a good smack. Apparently he likes that about you."

     "Ha, Harry doesn't like anything about me, at least not enough to point that out," I scoffed.

     "I wouldn't be so sure," Louis mumbled so quietly I had to have been sure I didn't hear correctly. Still, I didn't ask him to repeat, and he continued with the cooking.

     More bucketing rain later, and a prepared meal was placed in front of me. We ate quietly, but every time Louis made a nice comment, I tried to bite back to uphold my, now settling, resentment. Whenever I cracked a smile, he knew he was breaking the wall a bit more.

     By now, the sun had set behind the mask of dark grey clouds and the monsoonal weather, and we had to go by the sounds of the rain pounding for us to know whether or not it was easing. Which it wasn't.

     "How am I going to get you home?" Louis sighed, prodding my mostly dry clothing. My sweats, however, were drying at a ridiculously slow pace to the rest, the cuffs still stained with dirt from the run to his house. Louis noticed and said, "I can lend you a pair of pants if you want to go shove these in the wash."

     The thought of wearing Louis' garments sent a blush to my cheeks, and I really hoped it wasn't noticeable. I wanted to say no, but I already smelt like a swamp and I'd be happy enough to switch for something cleaner.

     Louis went into one of the rooms and emerged with a folded pair of striped pyjama pants. "Here you go. And the laundry is just through this door," he said, and I took them gratefully before going into the room indicated.

     I replaced the dank sweats with the soft cotton, relishing the feeling of its lightness against the skin of my legs. With my other pants, I shoved them in the washing machine and found the laundry powder on top of the shelf above. Because of my small height, I had to reach up on the tips of my toes to get it, but when I did, it was only just, and it slipped from my weak grasp and landed open-ended into the washing machine.

     "Shit," I groaned, digging it out and trying to salvage the amount of powder that escaped. After getting most of it back into the box, I closed the washing machine lid and turned it on. Several minutes later and a small grumbling noise began emitting from the machine and it began to shake. Panic was the next in the series of unfortunate events that took place in Louis' small laundry room. Excessive amounts of soap and suds bubbled like broth from the corners of the lid and spilt over the side until it landed on the tiles.

     "Shit!" I repeated, much louder this time, attempting to open the latch and stop it from exploding.

     Bad move, Ellie.

     Opening it meant the complete opposite to what I was hoping.  Large amounts of bubbles burst out of the containment and directly into both my face and the surrounding area.

     There was a knock on the door, followed by Louis saying, "Everything alright in there?"

     "Won't be a minute!" I squeaked, gathering a mouthful of soapsuds.

     "You sound like you're choking, Ellie," he said, opening the door. "I'm coming in-what the-!"

     Louis was introduced to the first Calamity Jane moment he'd see me do, and a whole lot of foam.

     "I didn't mean to-I-" I stammered whilst trying to scoop up the bubbles that spoiled the floor. Louis tried turning off the washing machine, but nothing was stopping the already created mess that continued to flow. Amidst gasping and attempting to save the situation from further damage, my feet lost all grip and I slipped on the soapy tiles, catching onto Louis' arm to stop me falling. My saviour was pretty pathetic, for he and I both landed on the floor with a massive groan. We were lost in a sea of white.

     "We are going to die!" I whined, coughing on some of it. Louis was panting and laughing-the kind of laugh where one tilts their head back and practically drains their body from the hilarity that overcame them.

     "Ellie, how can you be so clumsy? I'm tied between it being adorable and concerning," he said with a broad smile. I thought back to when Harry had previously taken advantage of my ineptness, especially when he got me that first-aid gift basket. There I was, thinking about Harry once again, and all I wanted to do was wipe the smug look on his face from my mind.

     Louis cleared it for me when he stopped smiling and focused on his heavy breathing. I didn't know what his look was about, but it sent a swarm of butterflies to raid my stomach. He delicately brought his fingertip covered in foam up to dab my nose, in which I swatted him away, laughing nevertheless. "So am I forgiven yet?" he whispered, licking his soapy lips.

     I rolled my eyes and said, "I guess."

 

If it were possible for the rain to get worse, tonight would've proved that theory.

     "You can have the spare room where the boys usually crash," Louis said as I entered the medium-sized bedroom in another pair of Louis' pyjamas. "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

     "Well, the rain hasn't eased, so what choice do I have?" I said. Louis smiled and said goodnight, before I slept under unfamiliar sheets.

 

     "Ellie! You're dreaming, wake up!" Louis shook my shoulders hard and I clasped my hand to my neck. Only a moment before, a very angry Harry had strangled me in Louis' spare room, and I woke up screaming. Louis had managed to pull me out of the nightmare.

     "You were screaming-I thought someone was murdering you!" he said, wide eyed. If only he knew I actually was. "Were you having a bad dream?"

     "Something like that," I wavered him away. "Nothing to worry about. Nightmares are nothing." I had to swallow the bitter taste of my lie, realising I was being a hypocrite. Not long ago I'd just busted him and Harry for keeping something important from me, but the dreams I've been experiencing were just as significant. But in my case, I feared to speak of it out loud. That's why I drew my thoughts into my sketchbook, and I itched for it now.

     "Just go back to sleep, nothing can harm you now," Louis hushed.

     Oh, what a sweet desire for that to be true, but nobody, not even Louis, could speak such words and stop the demons formed in my head. I needed a miracle for one good night's sleep.

 

***

 

"So you guys were on the X Factor..." I read an article as I sat on Louis' couch with his laptop of my legs. "Wow, you basically owe Simon Cowell your lives."

     "He doesn't let us forget," Louis laughed whilst washing up in the kitchen on that Sunday morning. The sky had cleared overnight, but I wasn't ready to go home until I knew enough about their millionaire lives.

     "You all look so young in these video diaries," I teased-especially at Louis' long, shaggy hair.

     "Why are you watching those?" Louis groaned.

     "Let me guess..." I ignored him. "Your catchphrase is ‘I like girls who eat carrots'?"

     "Now the fans won't let me forget."

     "The amount of people who follow you on Twitter is ridiculous," I commented. Each of the boys had well over 8 million followers, but Harry had overrun each of them with his 10 million. Why would these people even like him? From what I've gathered from him being my neighbour, he's an egotistical, brooding, unnaturally attractive teenage boy with great hair. He has bonus points for the singing and the accent-so maybe that, along with is celebrity status, is what drives girls wild. If they knew the real Harry, they'd think otherwise.

     But did I even know Harry?

     "Huh. Harry was in a band called White Eskimo. What a sneaky bastard," I said. There was a knock on the door and Louis said, "You can call him that to his face. More satisfying."

     My heart lodged itself tightly in my throat, and I was too nervous and unprepared to see Harry right now. Yet, with a perfectly straight smile and a swish of his brown locks, he walked straight in, only to see me sitting on the couch. He paused almost mid step, which caused a domino effect as the other boys slammed into his back.

     Harry's eyes turned slowly to Louis', and he said, "Why the hell didn't you tell me she was here?"

     "I needed a way for you two to make up."

     "I'll save you the trouble, Harry," I said bitterly, collecting my coat. "I'm leaving."

     I went to swerve around the group of guys standing by the door, but Harry's arm darted out and grasped me into a hold. "Not so fast."

     "Don't, Harry! Argh!" I muffled, my face pressed into his warm jacket. His arms were then securely around my back, almost doubling over, holding me there as the other boys stood around us.

     "I am really sorry, Ellie," he whispered against my hair, cupping the back of my neck so I was looking up at him. An unmistakable shiver started from the top of my spine right to the bottom, meanwhile a nervous knot twisted my stomach. This was the first time Harry had been so close, and it was strangely comforting.

     "Do you think charming me works? I'm not one of your 14 year old fans," I growled.

     "No, you're my beautiful, Australian friend who I shouldn't have lied to," he said.

     "Again with the sweet talk! Apologise properly."

     "Ellie Harper," he said, looking me unnervingly seriously in the eye. I bit the urge to look away, for I felt so awkward having his emerald irises so near. "I am pleading for your forgiveness. And from now on, no more lies."

     "So is this the time where you say you can't actually speak French?" I asked, a small smile broadening on my lips. Crap, I was easy to forgive him.

     "I may not be the best, but I am fairly fluent," he said, holding me once again in an embrace. I didn't feel uncomfortable with that either, which was strange. Usually we'd keep my distance-well, mostly Harry did. I guessed, now that I knew about him, a certain weight had been lifted and there were no more need to bullshit.

     "Now kiss," I heard Niall say in the background. I pulled from Harry and coughed briskly whilst he swatted his mate on the arm.

     What a nice feeling this was, to have resolved the tension. The next thing to focus on was dealing with the other Harry, who wasn't quite done with me yet.

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