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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24. “What do you want from me?”

Louis' POV

I allowed Harry to mope for all of Sunday, but when Monday came around and he didn't show up for rehearsals at the studio, enough was enough. At least Ellie was holding her head up and attending school despite having a broken heart. To be honest, I'd never seen Harry with one before, but he sure wasn't taking it on the chin. So, around midday, I went to his house and pounded on his bedroom door, but the sounds of Pink Floyd blaring inside overpowered my knocking.

     "Harry, open up!" I shouted into the wood. When I got no response, I tried the knob; it was unlocked.

     The room smelt of musk and stale alcohol, an array of empty bottles laying on tabletops and the floor. Harry was on his bed with the sheets bundled up around his body. At first I thought his eyes were open and lifeless, but when his lips uttered the lyrics to Pink Floyd's "What Do You Want From Me", I knew alcohol poisoning didn't cause his unresponsiveness.

     Should I sing until I can't sing any more?

     Play these strings until my fingers are raw?

     You're so hard to please.

     What do you want from me?

     I repeated his name again, but he just kept staring at the ceiling. So, I yanked his iPod from the dock, cutting his lips short of the words. Harry still didn't seem fazed by the lack of music, merely just closing his eyes in a new attempt to block me out.

     "What are you doing?" I snapped.

     "I'm meditating," he mumbled in a tedious voice.

     "Well, while you were meditating you missed a band meeting and rehearsals, so I hope you're fucking chill, mate."

     "Is that really why you're here?" he said louder, opening his blood-shot eyes and glaring at me. "Or are you here because Ellie is playing victim?" The way he spoke, the words rolled off his tongue like venom, and that only happened when he was profoundly drunk. I guessed his definition of meditating was getting over a vicious hangover.

     "Don't you dare, Harry. She has every right to play victim, because she is against your cruelty," I retorted.

     "Please," Harry scoffed, getting off the bed and swaying dangerously close to me, my best friend of three years wearing the scowl of an enemy. "You're barely innocent. You two were out to get me from the beginning with all your stupid flirting and that kiss."

     I bounced back from that. "Get your head out of your ass, Harry. For weeks you shut her down and acted like she meant nothing, so really you're just the git who ruined it for himself." I grabbed an empty bottle of whiskey from the floor and said, "And you think this is giving you ease?"

     Harry stopped, his shadow-rimmed eyes faltering and husky voice left speechless. "You're right," he whispered, eyebrows furrowing. "It's not. I ruined it."

     "If you're seriously looking for me to pity you, think again. I'm not Liam."

     His lip curved upward. "I sure could do with some Liam love right now."

     "And Ellie could do with some love from you, and an apology."

     "She's got you," he said quietly. His drunken slur tainted his inhibitions, so basically all the thoughts and angst that he stored away was dancing on the tip of his tongue and spilling out the sides. "And I don't think an apology will be enough this time."

     I knew Harry. When things got hard, he'd put on the ‘poor me' façade. So many people saw his vulnerability and took advantage of his fame and wealth. And no, Ellie didn't have me, but even if I had it in me to take advantage of her own helplessness, I couldn't do anything to fix her. The way Ellie looked at Harry, consciously and subconsciously, could never compete with the friendly eyes I received. She held this stubbornness and refused to allow any trace of admiration for Harry to escape, but that was because she was afraid of falling in love with him, and to be honest, I couldn't blame her. He's my best mate, but never have I seen him consider a serious relationship before. She had every right to be precautious of him, yet the bloody fool went and screwed her over regardless. And I knew it was just a retaliation from his own hurt, but that wasn't an excuse. No matter the damage he caused her, he was the only one who could mend his mistakes.

     "And how do you know that?" I asked.

     "God, I see the way she looks at you," he said in anguish. "If you made a mistake, she'd forgive you in an instant. What I've done, being how I am to her normally, it's-it's just over for me!"

     "Stop moping, sober up, and get your head together because right now, it is over for you if you keep saying so. Ellie needs you, and your mates do too. I'm willing to give you another day for you to do it, so start now."

     Harry just smiled. It was a grateful smile laced with sadness. "You love her, don't you?"

     I didn't want to respond. Yes, I did love her. From the moment I saw her standing before our table at the restaurant, all the way up to kissing her blissful lips. I wanted to take a piece of her home with me, but Harry already took that piece long before I had the chance. They said they were only friends, but I kept my distance anyway, because I knew that their awkward love song had barely even begun.

     "Not as much as you do," I said quietly. Like Ellie, I set myself up for a broken heart, and I also prepared for it so no one knew how disappointed I really was.

 

***

 

Harry's POV

Once Louis left, I took his advice and started sobering up. Fuck, I'd never liked this process. The hangovers hit me the worst, no matter how many times I went out drinking. The first time I met Ellie, I'd been out for the night kissing women I didn't know the names of and not caring either. The little, feisty Australian with jet-black hair crash-landed in my busy life, but I wanted her. I hadn't slept with anyone since.

     I spent countless nights tormenting myself over the guilt for what I desired of her. How sickening to think that I sought nothing more than to make her my toy, an object of my pleasure only a house away. But when I heard her sing for the first time, and the way our voices blended together like silk, that's when I realised that Ellie Harper reached down my throat and claimed my heart. I was scared- so I ran. I thought that maybe spending time with the boys in London and kissing more nameless women would take away my unwanted feelings. And then I saw her again, but this time she looked at Louis...

     It didn't matter anymore, because now I'd become a drunken idol, adored by millions of fans that had no idea that I was drinking away my sorrows over a girl who could already be on her way to moving on.

 

If coincidence had taught me anything, it was that every time I left the house, I was guaranteed to run into Ellie. And I was right. I walked out the front door and approaching up the footpath was the girl I'd familiarised myself with over the past couple of months. She appeared more tired than usual, her ponytail barely supported by the tie and her eyes cast downwards.

     "Ellie!" I called out, my voice hoarse. The last person I spoke to was Louis, and that was a number of hours ago. He'd left me to cure a hangover that still racked at my brain and tainted my throat.

     She looked up at me in almost sheer fright. Her steady composure ripped itself apart upon catching sight of the person I knew she didn't want to see. But I just had to go to her and make things right.

     "Ellie, please- don't walk away," I begged pathetically, stumbling over my unsteady feet. She didn't say a word as she continued on her path, and the cold silence burned harshly. I tried to grab her arm, but she slipped from my weak grip. "Ellie-"

     "Just leave me alone!" she snapped, her eyes now looking my way. The browns of her irises glistened with tears and her breath came out in shuddered pants. Oh, God. I caused this. I caused my strong, stubborn Ellie to break.

     "I shouldn't have said what I did the other night," I started with. She scoffed weakly and said, "Well you did and I don't care anymore."

     Her response was just as cold as when she ignored me. Neither of them were better.

     "If I have to get on my knees and beg for your forgiveness, I'll do it, for the whole world to see," I urged.

     "That's the thing, Harry," she turned around, coming so close that I could taste the ferocity in her voice. "I don't want the world to see you grovelling and for me to walk into my house without a second glance back. Because then I look like the bad guy when it's you who is the villain."

     That's when I stopped. Her eyes no longer contained the liveliness or the respect or the kindness I'd once seen in them. All that was left were two hollow pits that once enclosed everything we had. I wasn't Harry Styles, her neighbour, her French tutor, and her friend. I was merely a memory, a mistake to add to her list.

     So I watched Ellie do exactly that- walk into her house and slam the door shut.

     Louis was right about one thing; I was the git who ruined it for himself. But I was right too.

    It was going to take a lot more than an apology this time.

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