Golden

"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!

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2. D U S K

D U S K

He couldn't open it. He sat on the edge of his bed, shirtless, curled up with the stupid thing in his sweaty hands. His legs were going to begin cramping from the awkward position he was in, but he didn't care. Never did. All he could focus on was ripping open the damn thing he was firmly grasping.  

He could go through the motions all he wanted, replay them in his head over and over again, but when it came down to it, he just could not open the fucking envelope. His hands would not compute. Not that it mattered, the hype had blown over. Mackie had stopped calling. Olivia had simply sent a thank you note his way. Every copy of his self-proclaimed magnum opus had sold out in every country. He had one of the rare original copies right in his hand, enclosed in a manila wrapper, but it had been four months and he couldn't bear to open it. 

Four months. It was utterly ridiculous. It was a magazine for christsakes. A thick one, sure, but a magazine nonetheless. 

That's what he kept telling himself, hoping that it would help him gather the courage to finally look at it. 

It wasn't that Harry was terrified of revealing his true self to the world. It wasn't like that at all. Harry wanted to share himself with the world. Wanted everyone to hear his music, know his thoughts, read his words. Was never afraid of saying what was on his mind.

And that's what he did.

He was ridiculously candid about everything and anything. But always in the right way, you know? He was charmingly aloof, and well that's why he was considered a risk. Everyone suspected he was simple. From his publicists, to his label, to even his fans, no one was quite sure that he knew what he was doing. He was a nice boy, had a heart of gold with the boots to match, but smart? Strategic? Go-getting? Nope. That's why about four publishers turned him down. Yeah, he had a great concept. Sure, it sounded like it could sell. But they just didn't think he'd be up for the work. That he'd really be able to produce what he said he could. No one really wanted to give him the chance to create something like he had. But Mackie and Olivia did.

When conceptualizing the project, he had never thought it would be in a magazine, much less Another Man. He was looking into the book route. Something like a coffee table photo book. Very hipster, very in right now. Yet the more he searched for his means of print, the more he came back to the high fashion magazine. So he looked into it. Found the creative director, a perky girl named Olivia. He texted her, had gotten the number off of Paul one day after they had gone out for lunch. Couldn't tell him why he needed it, and Paul didn't really care either way. It was right after their hiatus was announced, what better way to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter?

"A book, huh?" He had asked, picking at some appetizer the starstruck waiter had brought to the table.

Harry nodded, "A book."

"You write?"

"Not really."

"What's it going to be about?"

"Me."

Paul stifled a laugh, "You're going to write a book about yourself?"

"Write what you know and all that shit."

"Do you know even know who you are?"

Harry frowned, "It's like four PM, mate. That's more of a three AM thought, isn't it?"

"You're the one that wants to write a book about yourself. Shouldn't you know who you are?"

That was the thing though, Harry thought that this would be the way to discover that. What better way to find himself than to attempt to piece together his life story. 

"So are you going to give me the number, or what?"

"I thought you wanted it to be a book. Why are you looking into a magazine."

"Maybe I don't have enough for a book."

Paul shrugged, "Whatever." He pulled out his phone and within a few seconds Harry felt his own go off, "Send my regards to Olivia. 

Olivia replied almost immediately. She couldn't say no, not when one of the hottest pop-stars in the world wanted a whole issue to himself. They took a chance on him. Knew the enigma he was, knew that his passion would work in their favor.

"Yeah?" He asked, his hands slightly shaking at the news.

"We'd love to work with you, Harry." Olivia said, it sounded like she was shuffling papers on the other end.

"Yeah, I mean, yes. That would be great."

So he worked with Mackie and Olivia and the whole team over at Another Man to curate his own volume of the ever popular and carefully crafted high fashion magazine. Had the concept in mind for about a year, but never thought he'd be given the chance or the resources to do it. But he was, he did. Never in the way he had imagined though.

"So this is about you, right?"Allister Mackie had asked the first day they had sat down in the London office.

"That's the plan."

"And what is it about you that makes you important? What is it that makes you tick Mr. Styles?"

"I don't know how to say it-"

"Well then, we'd have a problem, wouldn't we."

"No, I mean, I wanted to show you."

"Show me?"

Harry picked up his beaten up, raggedy, leather bag. Mackie's expression did not change, not one bit. Not when Harry pulled out the dogeared Bukowski, not when he placed the dried lavender sprigs before him, and not even Harry pulled out the obviously worn boots and plopped them on the wooden table.

"So?" Mackie asked.

"So?"

"Is this what makes you tick?"

Harry shrugged, "It's parts of me."

"The most important?"

"Well-"

"They would be, right? Since you thought to bring them with you."

"I don't know. I just thought, you know, maybe anything that's a part of me."

"Anything that's a part of you?"

"Physically, spiritually, emotionally."

"What else?"

"What else?" Harry repeated, slightly tilting his head like a lost Retriever puppy. 

"What else is a part of you?"

"I don't know."

"Who does know?"

Harry was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Albeit the point of this whole project was to find himself, but really, all Mackie was doing was making him feel like he was more lost than he had initially imagined. 

"Maybe I should just go." Harry said, picking up all the supposed pieces of him, a flush growing upon his damp face. 

Mackie smirked, "If you're already quitting on me, then you aren't much prepared to do this project, lad."

"What?"
"This isn't supposed to be some easy peasy little scrapbook you manage to scrape together a week before it published. And you better believe your scrawny little arse that we won't be doing the fucking work for you."

"I-"

"This is a highly respected high fashion magazine Mr. Styles. But more than that, it's a reflection of you. Do you really want it to be something artificial?" 

"No?"

Mackie cracked his first smile since Harry had gotten there,"Then we're going to have a lot of work in front of us."

Harry curated three different volumes, that's how much he had. Within it were the grassy knolls upon which he ran, the sandy beaches where he and Gemma would play on sunny, summer days, and even studio where it had all started. He bared his entire soul. In about six months, Harry, Mackie, and Olivia had managed to travel all of the places that made Harry him. They went to the thrift store where he had gotten his holey boots, to the hidden bookstore that pretentiously only carried first edition copies of Bukowski and the like, and even the field that reminded him of his first love and the lavender wreaths she'd make to place upon her head.

He had managed to relive a life he didn't remember living in those short six months. Had managed to go back and take a good hard look at what he had left behind, at who he didn't remember. It was all catalogued, all put away between the pages of that magazine. That's probably why he couldn't even manage to open the envelope it had been delivered in. He was scared to see the life he had chosen for himself reflected upon those glossy pages. 

It was all too much for him to bear. 

 

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