One Gypsy Summer

Friends don't date other friends' ex-boyfriends.

That was why she had to spend her summer staying far, far away from Harry Styles. That might be a little hard though, considering they were touring together.


1. the gig

The room was hazy with cigarette and pot smoke, even though there were signs plastering the chipping-painted walls proclaiming "thank you for not smoking..." in harsh red letters that glowed dimly from the lights coming from the stage area, which was across the room, past the swarming sea of people that moved in various waves, back and forth, holding beers and cigarettes and cameras and phones with blank hands or hands drawn on with black Xs that would soon be eagerly erased with soap from the dingy bathroom. It was the sort of place where she never got recognized, which was so relaxing. Of course, it helped that her blonde hair was streaked, temporarily, with black towards the ends, and she was wearing plain jeans and a black shirt with Keds, so that she looked so boring and dull, no one bothered to look at her twice. If they did, they might've paused on her face, the one on millions of album covers, the mouth that sang all those songs this angsty, indie crowd would've despised to admit they heard on the radio constantly and knew all the lyrics to.


She got a spot in the front of the crowd, snaking through couples of people, grasping the hand of her ginger-haired friend. That way they'd be closer to the music, and people could only really see the back of the two of them. If they only saw the back of the ginger boy's spiky head, they might not realize that they'd seen him before or that they bought his album or that they followed him on twitter or that they cried when they couldn't get tickets to see his show. He didn't have a disguise, and fame was new to him, so he was nervous and jittery. She just gave him a little closed-mouth smile as the presenter went on stage, a burly and surly man who introduced the first band that was too electronic for her taste. The ginger boy crinkled his fair-skinned nose at the end of the set, but clapped. He wanted to get out of there, to get back to the hotel and have a pint, but she shook her head. The duo she'd came to see was third.


They stood and listened to the next group, a folksy band who stomped their feet and wore cowboy boots but played indie tunes. The ginger boy was more relaxed because it was almost over, after this next duo, and that indie band wasn't too bad, and maybe he'd try to use some charm or even his name to get backstage to talk to them and congratulate them; maybe they'd even give him a pint, or a joint. She tied her hair in a ponytail as the man came out to announce the next group, and with only her blonde bangs in her face, she knew she was more recognizable, but she was too excited to care. "From Brooklyn, we've got Ellie and Jac, who are here to perform a few songs for you..."


Ellie and Jac got onstage. She'd heard of these girls from a friend in the music industry who worked going to a bunch of shows and trying to sift out talent; these two were competing for a record deal, and Ellie, the one with light brown hair and an hourglass frame, was nineteen. Jac was eighteen, and she had darker hair and a skinny body with a bigger chest. Both girls had mesmerizing blue eyes; Ellie's were lighter and greener, and Jac's were more like blueberries. Jac wore black pants and a tight black top with a camo jacket, and Ellie wore vertically striped, black-and-white pants with a tight white shirt and a jean jacket. Both girls carried black guitars.


Ellie spoke. "Hey guys, our first song for you is Muted Madness, please enjoy..." Both girls commenced playing, and they tore apart the stage. Jac focused more on guitar, and Ellie was the main singer, but for the chorus they would harmonized and strum, and the crowd screamed and clapped their hands at the end of the song. 


"Hey! You can try to clap us off stage, but our set's not done yet!" Ellie joked, and they started again, and the blonde girl with the fake temporary black in her hair caught a few words that she fell in love with... Every time I think of you, I fall apart, it's just what I do...It's not what I want, it's just what I'm made to do... I was crafted with love, and that love's for you.


Their songs were about love and rejection; they also wrote about hope and despair, about families and dysfunction, and about yearning. For their last song, Jac smiled, and Ellie spoke into the microphone. "You'll probably know this song, and maybe you guys will get mad and leave because you think it's pop bullshit, but I love it. This is Taylor Swift's 'Picture to Burn,' and yeah, of course it's dedicated to my ex boyfriend." That made the crowd hoot and holler, and Ellie held her index finger in front of her smirking mouth, narrowing her eyes, to quiet them, and she began.


The blonde girl with the fake black ends to her hair smiled, remembering that conversation she had with the guy she knew in the music business, the one who'd told her about Ellie and Jac. "You'll never believe it, I saw these girls in Nashville the other night, who came out of nowhere and sang 'Picture to Burn,' and I think they did it even better than you..." He was trying to get her riled up, to annoy her, but she just went along with it, and at the end of their talk he added, "Those girls are actually playing in New York when you're at Madison Square Garden with Ed. You should go see them, and then try to tell me I'm not right, Taylor."


That's why she'd come here, trying so hard to walk into this crappy venue in Williamsburg and not look like herself, so that she and Ed Sheeran could go see these two girls play Picture to Burn better than she could.

And they did.


Taylor was impressed, so as soon as the set ended, she pushed Ed forward towards the lone, yawning security guard standing in front of the backstage doors, drinking a beer out of a plastic cup and checking his watch. With her hair pulled back, when she smiled at him, he dropped his beer. "You look a helluva a lot like..."


"I am." Taylor pulled out her id and held it towards him. "Nice to meet you." She shook the guard's hand, and he was a little awestruck.


"Can I have your autograph... for my niece, yeah, my niece loves your songs... please?" Still smiling, she pulled her ticket from her purse after putting her id back in and grabbed a pen. On the glossy, white back of the ticket she signed her name, and handed it to the guard.


"Do you mind if we go backstage? I wanted to talk to those girls, Ellie and Jac."


The guard swung open the door. "Sure! Have a great night, you two!" He was still staring at the signature as Taylor was leading Ed through the cramped backstage area with the leaky ceiling. There were guitar cases and drum heads and bass guitars and cymbals all over, and bands ready to get on were warming up or smoking weed from bowls, depending on whether they viewed themselves as "serious musicians" or "wannabe rockstars." Ellie and Jac were coming off the stage, giggling to each other, resting their guitars in cases smacked with loads of stickers on top. People around them gave them hi-fives, hugs, and beers; Jac was chugging down her second beer when Taylor and Ed walked up. 


Taylor spoke first. "Hi, I'm Taylor Swift," she said to the side of Ellie's face, who was looking at a boy sitting in the corner, giving her a thumbs up, and making odd expressions towards him to make him laugh. Ellie's head swung towards Taylor.

"Sorry, wha--" she stopped, and her expression was very clearly shit-this-is-Taylor-Swift-what-do-I-do, "Um, wow, hi! Um, Jac, come over here..."


Jac walked over, chugging from a waterbottle, and by the look on her face, it was clear that she wasn't drinking water. Taylor was sort of bemused. "My friend, Larry Curtis, I think you met him, he works for Sony/ATV, he told me about your set so I decided to stop by. It was incredible. Oh, and this is Ed, by the way."


"Yeah, wow, I recognize him," Ellie shook Ed's hand eagerly, "I loved your album, um, postive/addition symbol/plus or whatever you call it, I just listened to it constantly when it came out, and I actually saw you in April at Terminal Five, and yeah, I love your music."


Ed laughed. "Thanks you. I loved your music, actually!" 


Jac practically spit out the vodka she was imbibing. "It's so amazing that you guys came! I love all of both of your music. We're very flattered."


"Taylor sort of dragged me here," Ed spoke, "but I'm glad I came. And, well, since you guys were so good, we kind of have an offer for you."


Ellie widened her eyes, and Jac took a quick sip of vodka to deal with the shock in the same way that a kid might as his mom to pinch him to make sure he wasn't dreaming. "What sort of deal??" They said in unison.


Taylor smiled. "When my boyfriend's band is touring around the United States, they need an opening act, and they've basically been begging the record company for someone or a group that's not quite as childish, but still relatively appropriate, but more edgy. Obviously, the record company is totally hesitant, because they want the show to basically be G-rated, but the band isn't so G-rated. The record company and their managers said they wouldn't go out and search for a band that fit this description, but if the band could find an opening act that fit, then whoever they found could open for them."


Ellie and Jac were speechless. Ed added, "And I just sent them a video of your set."


Taylor jumped back in after pausing for a moment of suspense. "...And... they sent it to their manager, and he heard it, and he said you guys were perfect. More perfect than perfect. Actually, he said you had sort of a female Ed Sheeran vibe going, with a hint of Amy Winehouse in your voice, Lily Allen in your spunk, with an Ellie Goulding cool. So basically, if you want, you're signed. For a tour, and then they want you to meet with them to arrange a record deal, if the tour works out."


"Wait, wait, what band is this?" Jac blurted out. Ellie glared at her. 


"Jac, it's One Direction..."


"Are you girls in?"


"We're so in."

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