"There's no doubt he's golden" | As the sun begins to rise to mark the start of his twenty third year, Harry finally gathers the courage to look at his self-proclaimed magnum opus.

Author's Note: Happy 23rd Birthday, sunshine!


3. D A W N

D A W N 

Harry sighed loudly, leaning back to lay down. He stretched out his legs, placing the envelope beside him. His back ached, his head hurt, his stomach was empty. It was early, the sky just barely beginning to brighten He watched as slivers of light peeked through his curtains, attempting to illuminate the tight darkness wrapped around him. He didn't mind, not one bit. He had given up on sleeping long ago when the stars were still shining. The sun was welcomed, after all, it had been raining for the past three days. Found it funny that today of all days the sun decided to poke out from wherever it was hiding. Louis would say it was for him, keyword would. They didn't talk much anymore.

Didn't talk much to anyone, actually. 

After filming for Dunkirk had wrapped up he had kind of gone into hiding. Didn't want a ruckus, didn't want to be thrown back into the spotlight. But this whole magazine thing, this was just something the he needed to do. He didn't want to, he had to. That was the problem. Hadn't been able to talk to anyone about it. Hadn't even been able to gather the words to say what he felt about it. The one thing he had put the entirety of his heart and soul into. It seemed vain and egotistical, but the truth of the matter was that this project was the one thing so far that truly embodied who he was as a person, and it was fucking scary. At this point half the world knew who he was, and still he stood at the brink of 23, unable to truly figure it out himself. 

"For the love of God." He murmured as he traced the coarse manila envelope beside him. He had put it off long enough, knew that eventually he'd have to read it. 

Everyone had knowingly been tip toeing around him. They knew he hadn't read it, knew he probably never would. It was too much for him. Almost seemed like his entire life were in those three volume. Well, okay, yeah it actually was. And yeah, it seemed like more of a self-promotion. One of those things celebrities do to be more relatable. Which, yes, totally. He had probably managed to give those fanfiction writers more fodder for their works about him and the boys. But those who knew Harry, knew that wasn't him. It had taken him more than six months to collect everything, to write everything, and of course everyone wanted to contribute. Said that he wouldn't have captured his whole self without them. From his sister, to his mother, to some designers and other colleagues, Harry didn't know what they had said, not yet at least. Didn't know what pieces they had fit into the puzzle. But as he told Mackie as he began designing the project, "It's anything that's a part of me, mate." 

He kind of regretted it now. Knew that it meant that every single part of him was out there. From the dogearred Bukowski, to the tattered boots, to the old baby pictures. This was the most vulnerable he had ever felt, even more so than when he had first seen his life plastered on a tabloid before him all those years ago when he and the boys shot to fame overnight. 

He wanted to get up, knew he should. Yawned as he contemplated it. His mother would be downstairs already, attempting to make his favorite breakfast from the sparse contents of the fridge. Gemma probably penning a card, as she had done for the past seven years. They wouldn't have slept much either, it was the first birthday he would spend with them since he had turned sixteen. Not that they chided him for it, it wasn't his fault. Home was too far away, and he didn't have any claim over it anymore. Instead he had this new house, in a new city, unblemished by any memories.

It was almost as if his origin story had been overshadowed by his success. He was not the boy that had left home, but he was not the man the world imagined him to be. His origin story began at the X-Factor, not in his childhood home in Holmes Chapel as he sang to his dog Max while Gemma yelled at him from the top of the stairs in her footie pajamas.


He pretended to still be asleep as his mother, Anne, lightly knocked and poked her head in.



She came in, swinging the door completely open, without making any kind of noise. She somehow always managed to float through a room, it was something Harry had always envied. 

"Mum, it's not even light out yet."

She laughed quietly, "Jetlagged."

"Go to bed." He mumbled, turning over.

"I'll bet you didn't even go to sleep." She said, as she sat the edge of the bed. Anne noticed the crinkled envelope, could see how worn it looked. But ever the knowing mother, didn't say a word about it. Simply moved it over, and laid down next to her son.

"Well, I was about to."


"Mum." He pouted.

"Am I wrong?"

He covered his face with his pillow dramatically, "Leave me aloneeeeeee."

"Harold, you're turning twenty three. Act like it." She said, yanking the pillow from his grip and throwing it onto the floor.

He turned to look at her, her eyes focusing on him fiercely, protectively. She knew he was troubled, knew that he was getting all twisted up in that complicated mind of his. 

"Gemma?" He asked, his voice thick with sleep. He was exhausted, it just hit him.

"She's up."


"Might be."

"So secretive." He smirked.

She sat up, "Have to be, since you're the same way with us."

"Really? I'm an open book."

"Love, reading about you in a tabloid is not the same as hearing about your day from you."

He shrugged guiltily, "Sorry."

She smiled, getting up, "Make it up to me by getting some sleep. I'll cook you some breakfast and have it ready for you by the time you get up."

"You don't have to do that."

"Don't be mad." She said, her steps once more soundless as she gracefully trapezed across the room to grab a blanket to cover him so he could finally get some sleep. She knew he couldn't sleep without one, no matter the place, time, or weather, "It's your birthday, Harold." She kissed his forehead and made her way towards the door, smiling all the while, "It's nice to finally see you."

"You too, mum."

Oh, how he wished it wasn't like this. How he wished he could be with her everyday again. How he wished he could find his way back to her, back to Gemma, back to the person he was before it all changed. 

He looked at the corner of the bed from under his blanket, wondering if his mother had noticed the envelope. Wondered if Gemma knew that he still couldn't find the will the open it.

And then he hear a woosh from under his door. Lifted his head slightly to see a crisp, white envelope upon the wooden floor. Knew it was the the traditional, snarky birthday card from his older sister. Was going to put off grabbing it, his eyes finally heavy with sleep. But the curiosity got the better of him. 

The envelope, much like the card was forgettable. Nothing out of the ordinary, just plain cardstock with the words "Another Year Older" on the front. He opened it, expecting another page long letter as he had gotten every year, but instead she had penned in her chicken scratch writting, 

Open that damn envelope. Don't start your 23rd year a pussy.

Love always,


He rolled his eyes, knowing she was right. That didn't mean he was less apprehensive about opening it though. His hands still shook as he grabbed the large envelope in his hands.

But he ripped it open. His eyes tightly shut as he pulled the bloody thing out. And he knew he was being stupid, he knew, okay? But he couldn't help it. Counted to three before he could finally look at the cover. 

And when he did, he knew that Gemma had beaten him to the punch. The pages were doggeared, bookmarks were put in place. He flipped the pages and saw notes in the margins, witty comments and sarcastic musings. It was everything he never knew he needed.

Yes, before him was the life he had chosen. The one he had left behind. The one he couldn't remember, and the way other people had remembered or encapsulated him. All of their words, their photos, their memories, they were all reaffirming who he was. Showing him that his origin story had not changed, that it had not been rewritten nor tarnished. Their memories; His mom's, Gemma's, and everyone else's, those were the grand parts of his story. If he ever wanted to look back to where he came from, all he needed was to hold his mother's hand, or hear Gemma's stupid laugh. He wasn't lost, never was. He just needed a reminder of who he was, where he came from, and it had been sitting in his room for months. He realized he was stupid for being so scared, for waiting so long to see the pieces of his life come together. 

And then he got to page 53. 





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