Running From the Past

When Elizabeth lost everything, she went to live with her grandmother in London, England. But little did Elizabeth know that her grandmother lived next to the famous band, One Direction. Will she be able to outrun her past and open up? Or will her past tragedy hold her back?

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6. Chapter 6 - Paparazzi

I finally fell asleep after a few minutes, the utter exhaustion hitting me like a truck. I just prayed as my eyelids slid closed that I wouldn't have any nightmares. Not with the boys here. Please, not tonight. Just let me be tired enough that they don't come. 

I should have known I wouldn't be that lucky.

Mercifully, I didn't wake up screaming. Instead, I woke up choking. 

I bolted upright on the couch, coughing and gasping for air. I could feel the smoke in my lungs. It was all-encompassing. I doubled over, struggling for air. The screams were all around me. My mother, my father, my sister. I could hear them in their respective rooms, their screams reaching me through the roaring of the flames, permanently ingraining themselves in my mind. My hands were in my hair, pulling on it, feeling my nerves fray. 

And then, he was there. "Elizabeth?" I could feel him sitting near me, feel one hand on my shoulder, the other gently untangling the fingers of one of my hands from my hair. Once the hand was out, he simply held it in his hand, our hands on my lap. When he realized I wasn't really in a place he could reach, he scooted closer and pulled me to him. "It's okay. I'm right here. You're okay. You're not there." He kept reassuring me until they finally registered in my brain. 

When his words finally made it through, my eyes flew open. I wasn't in America, I was in England. I wasn't in a burning house, I was in Louis's home. The air wasn't thick with smoke, it was as clear as could be. 

I groaned and placed my hands over my face, sitting up. "Sorry..."

"Why are you apologizing, love? You've done nothing wrong." I peeked at him through my hands and he was looking at me with concerned eyes, a small smile on his face.

I shrugged, letting my hands fall. "Just didn't mean to wake up like that." I stared at my hands in my lap.

Louis placed his hand under my chin and lifted my face, forcing me to look into his eyes. "Don't apologize for having a nightmare. It's not your fault." He again gave me a small smile before it faded. "What was it about?"

"My family," I whispered, dropping my eyes. His arm wrapped around my shoulders and I found the strength to finally tell the story nobody had ever heard. I took a deep breath and began. 

"It happened about a week before I came here. I was in my room, asleep, when something woke me up. When I rolled over to check the clock, I could see the light under my door. I got up to open it, wondering what was going on at three in the morning, when I was greeted with a wall of flames. I closed the door and backed up, away from it. That's when I heard the screams. I could hear my parents in their bedroom and my little sister in hers. I knew it was bad because my dad never screamed. But when I heard him, I knew. There was no way they would make it out. It was the end for them. And my sister was only eight; she didn't really know how to deal with the situation. After a few seconds, my door was up in flames. The flames kept creeping closer and closer to me, and I knew it was the end for me. I watched the wall of fire destroy everything in it's path, and a few minutes later, only my sister was screaming. By the time the emergency responders had made it, my sister had stopped screaming too. It felt like hours before they found me. The smoke was too thick for them to really see me, and I'd inhaled so much of it that I couldn't scream. I guess it was the coughing that eventually lead them to me. I passed out somewhere between the man carrying me outside and the hospital. When I woke up, I was given the low-down on my injuries. I had third degree burns all over my body and the smoke in my lungs was a huge health issue. After a couple days of a medically induced coma, I woke up again and they told my I was both an orphan and and only child. Once I was discharged, I spent a couple days with a social services worker, making sure I was fit to go into the system. That's when they found out I still had a surviving relative: my grandma. Which is how I ended up staying with a woman I've never met before, with nothing but the clothes on my back and a few necessities purchased for me by the government." I sighed, feeling the weight being lifted off my chest.

I then turned to face Louis. "Louis? What am I going to do if she doesn't make it? I'll be all alone again? And I'm not old enough to live on my own; I'll be put in the foster system." The fear started to bubble in my chest again as I frantically searched his eyes for some sort of answer. Just as before, the piercing blue and flecks of green calmed me. I was still on edge, but I wasn't as close to panic as I was a few moments before. 

"You'll stay with us." The determination in his voice was endearing, but I knew it wasn't possible. I shook my head. 

"It wouldn't work." 

He frowned, clearly not understanding. "Why not? Sure it would. We've got the means to support you and we already know you. It'd be the best option."

"For me, yeah. But foster care doesn't really care about the individual. They have to follow the law. Yeah, you have the means to support me, but you guys are more of a risk. One girl living with five guys? No way. And if that wasn't an issue, your lifestyle would be. It's not a 'stable home' for me. You guys are gone for 9 months of the year. And the other three, you're either all scattered or working." I shrugged. 

"We'd take you with us." 

"Touring the globe is even more stable. Trust me Louis, I've had this all explained to me before. I know what's going to happen if she dies." I bit my lip and looked down. 

"What if we were named your legal guardians?"

I looked up at him. "Huh?" I hadn't thought of that. 

He realized that I hadn't thought of that and grew excited once again. "Honestly, it wouldn't be hard to get Liam to be named your legal guardian. He's the responsible one of the group and there's no doubt that he'd take care of you if I wasn't around. Ask anybody."

I shook my head, closing my eyes. "Can we talk about this a little later. It's just a lot to take in right now." 

"Of course." I could hear the apology in his voice. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders again and pulled me back so I was leaning against him. I tucked my feet under me and got comfortable as he flipped the TV on. 

It turned on to some median news channel, and wouldn't you know it, they were talking about One Direction. Louis laughed and started to change it, but I took the remote, smiling at him. "Come on... I wanna hear what rumors are flying around."

He just rolled his eyes but leaned back, watching the woman. I turned up the volume and did the same. 

"That's right, One Direction is back in the studio recording their brand new album. But uh-oh! Member Louis Tomlinson was spotted leaving the studio without his band-mates. And where did he go? To the hospital. But don't worry just yet, Directioners. Tomlinson appeared to be just fine. However the young lady with him seemed less so. The pair was spotted entering the hospital, but reemerging just seconds later, where the pair sat outside the building for almost fifteen minutes!" An image of me on the sidewalk and Louis next to me with his hand on my back flashed on the screen, followed by one of us entering the hospital. "They then returned inside with Tomlinson's hand on her waist. When they came back out? They were holding hands!" Another image of us popped up, this time, with us walking back to his van holding hands. "What do you guys think is going on with these two? Dating? Friends? And why were they at the hospital? More news to come, so stay tuned!" 

Louis removed the remote from my hand and turned the television off. "Izzy, I am so sorry." 

"It's fine. It was bound to happen sooner or later, right?" I tried to flash him a smile, but I think it came out as more of a grimace. I stood up. "I should probably head home, get something to eat, shower. I'll see you later."

"Elizabeth..." I could hear the remorse in his voice. 

"It's fine, Louis. Really." I wiped a tear that had managed to escape my eye as I headed for the door. As I opened it, I was greeted with flashing light and shouted commands. I stumbled back as Louis's hand closed the door a little forcefully. 

"Damnit," he whispered under his breath, hanging his head. "Liam! I need you down here, mate!"

Liam came bounding down the stares, took in Louis and quickly rushed to his side, his hand on his shoulder. "What's happened?"

"Paparazzi found us at the hospital and now they're camped out on the lawn."

"Shit."

"My sentiments exactly. Needless to say, it wouldn't be wise for us to be seen together, and she can hardly walk home without getting swarmed. I need you to take her home." Liam nodded and Louis turned to face him, his expression stern. "Walk her to the door and make sure she gets in. Yeah?" Liam nodded and grabbed his keys, his hand on my shoulder guiding me to the garage. 

The garage was massive and house five sports cars and a van. Liam lead me over to a black Audi, opening the passenger door for me. I nodded my thanks, keeping my eyes down. He then moved over to the driver's door and seated himself. Once the car was started, he opened the garage door. He began backing out before it was even open all the way. 

I understood why as soon as the paparazzi swarmed his car. He slid his shades on and put one hand on my head, ducking me down and shielding me from as many cameras as he could. The garage closed as soon as we were clear and he sped down the road, effectively losing them. Once they were no longer in his rear view mirror, he slowed down and removed his hand from my head. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it."

We were at my house in seconds, thanks to his driving. Once the car was at a standstill, he quickly opened his door and moved towards me, blocking me from anybody that might have made out of the throng. True to his word, he walked me to the door and didn't leave my step until the door was closed. Once it was closed and I heard his engine rev, I saw the flashes of lights signaling the arrival of the paparazzi. I quickly closed Gran's curtains and moved away from the windows, suddenly frustrated. I knew they were unaware of the situation, but still, it was infuriating that they could be acting like this when I wasn't even sure if my gran was going to make it. 

I walked over to the couch, screamed, and threw a pillow at the wall. Just my luck, it hit a lamp, which fell to the ground, shattering. With tears streaming down my face, I knelt to pick up the shards, completely ignoring the pain that accompanied the cuts they  gave me. Once the mess was cleaned, I replaced the pillow and just sat on the floor crying. Crying for my gran, crying for my parents, crying for my privacy. I was so tired and frustrated and crying seemed like the only thing to do. So that's what I did. I cried for what seemed like hours. The only thing that brought me back to reality was the doorbell. 

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