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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31. Pagoda Lights

11:59pm.

I watched as the 8th digit flipped to 9th on my little clock angled towards us on the bedside table. Harry gave my waist a light squeeze and whispered, "One more minute."

     I turned my head to face him properly, flicking my gaze from his lips to his eyes. His features were beautiful in my dimly lit bedroom as we sat cuddled on my bed just before midnight. He read my admiring expression and kissed me gently, holding my jaw as our tongues played in a slow, delicate dance. Harry was so gentle, so cautious, and I got so lost in our kiss that I missed the changeover to 12:00am.

     Harry parted and whispered, "Happy Birthday, Ellie."

     I smiled and kissed him again, and I could feel him return the smile on my lips.

     "What's my present?" I asked between breaths.

     "This," he said, his mouth gaining pressure. Harry's hands lingered down my body and trailed back up, creating a nice pattern and setting my skin alight. My body shivered, and in return a soft, guttural groan escaped from his lips.

     "God," he rasped, "I love how your body reacts to me. I want to feel all of you."

     With my body now trapped under Harry's and his knees in between my thighs, Harry shifted my shirt up so his hands were travelling over the newly exposed skin of my stomach. The new sensation caused my legs to instinctively close around his backside and press closer to me, and a breathless sigh fell from my lips. 

     We hadn't talked about intimacy as of yet, but the way Harry was tending to my body, the way his hips bucked slowly with each exhale between kisses, indicated that it wasn't exactly going to be accomplished over conversation.

     My hands slipped under his shirt and I felt the muscles of his abdomen tense upon my touch, and it sparked my curiosity feeling parts of him that I've not yet explored. If I wanted anything for my birthday, it would be him.

     "I want to have sex with you," I rushed out, and Harry paused to look up at my face. My cheeks instantly warmed upon my sudden confession, but he merely smiled and kissed me lightly.

     "Are you sure?" he asked breathlessly, his eyes darkening with lust.

     "Yes," I said, and brought my head up to kiss him. With my hands still under his shirt, I tugged the hem and he helped lift it over his head and throw it to the side. Harry then tended to my own top, a grey singlet, taking the straps and slowly dragging the material from my shoulders until it rested on my stomach and exposed my lace bra. I'd always been self-conscious about my small breasts, but Harry merely took one look at me and whispered, "You're beautiful."

     I felt so confident, so ready to give him what I was once afraid of giving. With his eyes growing darker with each minute passing, he kissed me with even more passion than ever before. He brought his hands up to hold my jaw in our heated embrace, wetting the corners of my mouth with his tongue. The pressure of his hands increased on my neck the further his mouth travelled to the point where it began to strain.

     "Harry," I struggled to say, but he just continued to kiss and suck my taut skin. "Harry that hurts."

     He ignored my wary plea, and soon enough his hands were wrapped around my neck tighter to the point where breathing became difficult.

     "You're hurting me!" I gasped, pushing his front in an attempt to shove him off. Harry looked up and I almost didn't recognise him. His eyes were completely black-even the whites-like two bottomless pits. He smiled wickedly, holding his hands around my throat relentlessly. The pressure on my windpipe blocked the air travelling to my starving lungs to the point where I couldn't even scream out to Lottie or Noah.

     "When I said I want to feel all of you, I want to feel the life fade from your pathetic little body," he hissed in a very familiar voice.

     "No," I managed to croak as the reality of the situation dawned whilst my life diminished. Spots were forming over my sight, and I'd rather let it consume me than to see Harry's contorted, malicious grin as he ripped my life out with his hands.

     "You only turn 18 once, but as long as I'm around, you will die a dozen times more," he hissed into my ear as I choked to my death.

 

I couldn't breathe. After waking up in the darkened room, I clutched the empty sheets coughing and spluttering and trying to get as much air into my lungs. I knew what had happened, and I knew I wasn't actually choking and it was a psychological trick of my mind as the remnants of my dream still lingered.

     I dreamt, I kept repeating to myself to the point where I had to rush out of bed and to the bathroom to vomit into the toilet. There wasn't anything particular to throw up, but I continued to convulse and gag into the bowl until tears formed in my eyes.

     The pills weren't working anymore, and the nightmare caught me by surprise. It hit me harder than ever before, and detaching myself from it and reality deemed more difficult. Strangely enough, it didn't scare me as much as the fact that I had to tell Harry. I promised it to him.

     Well, what better way to wake up on the morning of your 18th birthday than to sit shaking on the bathroom tiles?

 

"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaappy Birthday!" I heard a chirpy female voice carol as they jumped violently on my bed. I'd managed to get back into it after weakly crawling from the bathroom and I remained wide-eyed until the birds began to chirp. I pulled the covers off my face to see Lottie beaming brightly down at me, and in her hands was a neatly wrapped present in pink wrapping paper and bow on top.

     "You didn't have to get me anything," I smiled as she placed it in my lap.

     "As if we wouldn't," I heard a new voice, and it was Noah leaning against my doorframe. "Happy Birthday, Elliephant."

     I pried at the paper and tore it from what it concealed. My eyes widened substantially as I registered the gift, my lips forming an ‘O' shape. There were two items, a set of graphite pencils that I'd wanted for ages and a leather-covered hardback with ‘Diary' written in gold calligraphy.

     "Now open the cover," Lottie urged. I peeled it back and a cheque fell out onto the duvet. Once again, my eyes bulged.

     "Two hundred pounds?!" I gasped, and I almost instantly forgot about the sickening return of my dreams.

     "It's not much, but we thought it was time you treated yourself," Lottie said, but I hushed her with thank-you's and hugs. Noah received the same gratitude, and he said, "Mum and dad said they'd call soon, so be ready for that."

     It'd be quite a while since I had a phone call from them, seeing as it cost a fortune to do so. Not to mention the time difference, which made Skype calls even more difficult to organise.

 

***

 

"Okay, mum, I have to go. I love you and dad, bye," I said as the line on the other end died. A long hour of my parents congratulating my birthday, lecturing me on responsibility and telling me that my present was on its way and I was relieved to be off the phone. I didn't have to go to school as a birthday bonus, so I had enough time to get ready before everyone arrived for the small party Lottie had organised for the afternoon. And when I say organise, I meant everything down to the shimmery balloons with 18's printed on them.

     I dressed decently enough and got downstairs just as the first knocks struck on the front door. I barely had it open before Abby squealed, "Happy Birthday!" and basically tackled me to the floor. With the wind blown out of my chest, I gasped my thank-you and placed the present I received on the table. Oliver, Jasmine and Harriet filed in after, and it felt like we were all sitting in the cafeteria as we do every break. It was strange having them in the one place outside of school, but in a nice way.

     "You have cupcakes," Abby almost sobbed at the sight of the iced delicacies. I laughed and watched as she devoured one, and another knock stole my attention.

     Once opening again, five very familiar boys stood brightly at the entrance. Louis was the first to embrace me in a hug and he cheered, "For she's a jolly good fellow!"

     I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks, and it was nice to have his comfort once more. And his grin as he beamed down at me was surely missed. One by one the rest of the boys exchanged their gifts and hugs, and I wasn't sure if the glint in Niall's eyes was for the table of food or for Abby...or for Abby eating at the table of food.

     And finally the last person to come greet me sent my stomach flipping and curdling simultaneously. Harry's wayward smile reminded me that he was my boyfriend, but I still couldn't shake the feeling that it was just a façade concealing the boy in my nightmares. And I had promised to tell Harry if he ever returned.

     "Happy Birthday," Harry whispered in my ear as we embraced. He smelt of fresh cologne and that indescribable Harry smell, which was intoxicating, yet it continuously reminded me that I couldn't keep my recent revelation from him.

     "Um, Harry-" I said quickly, but he cut me short with a kiss on the lips.

     "I know you said no presents," he said, "but you're getting it later tonight, so be ready to go out at 7," Harry said with a wink before joining the others. A blossom of nervousness and excitement erupted in my stomach and caused my heart to tumble over, but that equally balanced with the fact that my confession hung empty on the end of my tongue.

     Lottie brought a variety of ciders, wines and beers, and it was a sweet gesture to soften the mix of the members of One Direction mingling with the members of the cafeteria squad. Abby appeared quite flustered by Niall's attention towards her, and every so often she'd glance at Oliver, whom I knew was observing through stony, cautious eyes.

     "Abby won't fall for it," Oliver muttered to me as we sat watching them from the lounge. There was no mistaking the grit of jealousy laced in with his words.

     "Well, make sure she doesn't," I said. He glanced at me, taken aback, and then looked over at Abby who was clearly laughing at something very amusing that Niall had said.

     "Your boyfriend looks a little too friendly with your brother, does that concern you a little?" Oliver said, distracting from our conversation. I looked over and watched as my brother and boyfriend conversed over a beer in their hands. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but Harry caught my sight and excused himself from Noah to walk over to me.

     "Hello, Birthday Girl," he said, lifting me up from the sofa by my hands. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

     I kissed him softly and nodded. "Best, birthday, everrrr," I exaggerated, smiling at my crass accent.

     "Just wait until tonight," he smiled, and I involuntarily swallowed the lump in my throat at the thought of the happenings in my dream-which I still needed to tell him. I knew that between now and tonight, the opportunity wouldn't arise without spoiling the moment.

 

***

 

The gathering of people died down as the afternoon sun faded to twilight through the house of lightly tipsy young adults, mingling with the soft drone of music and eaten cake. Eventually, everyone parted ways and it was just Noah, Lottie and I left basking in the memory of the nice company spent this evening.

     I'd escaped to my room to get ready for Harry's present, and I received a text from him saying, ‘Wear a dress. Xx'

     In the bathroom, I pinned two sides of my hair, parted in the middle, away from my face and allowed the rest to fall in dark ringlets over my peach dress Lottie picked out a couple of weeks ago. I put on a light coat of mascara so my eyelashes were thick enough to be seen, and my lips were a nice pink to pair with the dress. Lottie had let me borrow one of her many perfume bottles to use, and I picked a rather floral and musky one to sprits on my wrists and throat. Throat. No marks showed evidence of tight hands around it, but in the back of my mind I could still feel them there.

     I was almost itching out of my skin with anticipation, and it had just gone quarter to seven. A mixture of nervousness and eagerness didn't blend well with the urge to get out of the house after last night's return of the dreams. Being left alone to my thoughts allowed me to recall how vivid the memory of it was, and how it happened on the bed I now sat waiting on. The walls were caving in on me, but thankfully the rasp of knuckles against wood released me before it was too late.

     I opened the front door, and there Harry was, outfitted in a baby blue dress shirt with the top button undone and black trousers, smiling so gorgeously that my body almost melted.

     "You look beautiful," was the first thing he said, giving my body a long, satisfying once-over.

     I blushed vigorously despite recalling the similar words once spoken by the liar of my subconscious. "Shall we?" Harry asked as craned his arm, an indication for me to hold on to, leading me over to his black sports car parked on the curb.

     "And where will you be taking me, Mr Styles?" I asked whilst getting in the passenger seat. Once he'd gotten into his, he merely smirked and said, "That, Miss Harper, is a surprise that I will not spoil."

     The silent engine came to life and we were off down the street, nothing but the passing streetlights to guide my curiosity.

     "I'm getting restless, Harry," I teased, and the corners of his lips curved upwards as he focused on the road ahead. We'd been driving for quite a while and curiosity almost killed the cat.

     "Don't fall asleep on me," he said, and that made me shudder. Sleep was a dangerous word. He must have noticed my sudden coldness towards it, and he turned to look at me properly. "You alright? What's wrong?"

     I contemplated telling him, but as we were nearing our destination, I didn't want to spoil the night we had ahead. I'd tell him eventually, but not tonight. Once Harry had turned off the headlights and ignition, darkness captured us and I had no idea where we were.

     "Can I blindfold you? I don't want to reveal the surprise just yet," he said, and I nodded, a piece of black silk falling over my already dimmed sight. I was left to adjust with my other senses, and I listened as Harry's door opened and closed, and in turn mine clicked open too. He helped me out of my seat and kept one arm around my waist, the other rummaging through another compartment in the car before the beep of the lock sounded.

     "Just walk carefully with me, I've got you," Harry said comfortingly, and I took measured footsteps alongside the gravelly sound of his. I noticed the sudden ascent of our walk as we continued to walk in an upward direction, and soon enough we'd reached our final steps. The blindfold fell loose and I had to adjust to the new light causing my eyes to retract.

     "Oh, Harry," fell from my lips as I registered my surroundings. We were stood atop a hill on a large pagoda, overlooking the quiet village flickering with little glowing beads of light. Small fairy lights laced around the wooden panel above us, and I circled around until I landed with Harry smiling and his hands behind his back.

     "Another First-Aid gift basket?" I grinned quizzically.

     "A little different this time," Harry smiled, pulling it out between us and peeling over the glossy paper concealing the goods. He placed it on the floor as we sat down on either side of it, and I processed the contents. Where I had once received bandages and kneepads, I now had a bottle of champagne, various chocolates and a pink letter with ‘Ellarie' written in silver on the front.

     I took it from the basket and turned it over to open, and I pried my hands inside and pulled out a card with ‘Timeless elegance and immaculate style' titled at the top before reading:

Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London

 

As one of London's most celebrated hotels, we offer an enticing blend of elegance, style and luxury. Home to two of the city's best restaurants, a stunning spa, beautifully designed accommodation and exquisite function rooms, we offer a fashionable, yet timeless base from which to discover the British capital.

 

I glanced up at Harry with confused eyes, and his hand reached over to flip the card to reveal more writing.

 

Dear Mr. Styles,

 

We thank you for reserving the nights of Friday the 12th to Sunday the 14th of April in our Knightsbridge Room.

We await your arrival and hope you enjoy your stay.

 

Kind regards,

Mandarin Oriental

 

"You didn't," I gasped, rereading it to make some sense of the situation. "That's next weekend!"

     "Happy Birthday," he smiled, kissing me slowly and passionately until my head was a swirl of excitement and happiness.

     "Are you actually taking me to London?" I beamed just to confirm that it wasn't my mind playing another trick on me-which I knew was capable of doing.

     "I am," Harry laughed, getting up and grasping me to help me up also. "But for now I am taking you on a little dance."

     I was pulled into his embrace, one hand on his shoulder and the other in his.

     "You're incredibly clichéd, do you know that?" I said.       

     "I know, I'm planning on punching a wall to regain my manliness later," he chuckled, swinging me around the round platform of the pagoda, causing my dress to swirl in the movement. He spun me outward and I curled back in until I was resting my head on his shoulder, changing to a soft sway.

     "Thank you," I whispered into the material of his shirt. He kissed the side of my head and replied, "No, thank you."

     I wasn't quite sure why he'd said it, but I was content enough with staying in his arms and forgetting about all my impending worries. Months ago I wouldn't have imagined being here with Harry under the dim lights overlooking Holmes, and I was torn between being so lucky to have him in my life and unfortunate enough to have his doppelgänger back in it too. Now with London coming up, that meant telling him about it would have to wait longer than I'd hoped. Nothing would ruin our night and our weekend, even if that meant going to sleep and facing the nightmares alone.

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