Hi y’all! This is a re-write of “There Were So Many Sunflowers!” Because I hate that fic! It’s so bad!
Anyways, this is a story about two people who live in the nice part of town. Enjoy.
There are many ancient stories about people going on journeys; failing, succeeding, getting beheaded, getting tortured, getting stoned, being drawn and quartered, being enchanted by a talking animal, being cursed by a higher power or deity, conquering an empire, losing to an empire and becoming a slave—you name it. Zayn Malik’s family has done it all. One of the many perks of being part of an esteemed family is that nearly every one of your ancestors were educated and cocky enough to write about themselves.
Although, it never really made sense to him as to why all of his ancestors did such cretin-like things, one of his personal favorites being how his great great great grandfather contracted syphilis and prescribed himself powdered mercury in his tea. But others ended up being his personal heroes, like Aisha, his great great great great great great grandmother who defied her father and secretly gave herself an education with the help of their castle’s librarian.
He had never imagined himself to be someone that shared the blood of these people, because often times than not, reading about a historical figure always seemed so displaced. Of course you aren’t related to the Queen, or Genghis Khan, and when you read about it, it doesn’t ever feel like anyone is. He did, however, feel so fortunate that his generational wealth meant that he was one of the richest omegas in the world.
So was his neighbor, Louis. And Niall, two houses over. And Liam, three houses over. In fact, all the richest people in London lived on the very same street, and perhaps that was another cretin-like idea that their ancestors came up with; the heaviest concentration of jewels and safe money in the entire country within the same five mile radius.
Another thing that Zayn had never imagined himself to end up being is a person who’d agreed to an arranged marriage.
Thing is, this apparently was a thing fated in the stars. The last scandal surrounding the British elite had to do with rumors of inbreeding and how the aristocratic bloodlines have been marinating within each other for the past several centuries. Although this may be true for the Royal Family, Zayn’s mother had personally made it her own crusade to conduct a series of genealogy experiments and historical studies to confirm that there was only a minor amount of incest that occurred within their family in the 14th century. Thanks, mum.
So naturally, another thing that mum’s lawyers did was to find a family that had absolutely no relation to the Maliks and set up an arranged date or pair to prove something to the press that they can, in fact, have genetic diversity. Disgusting business, Zayn thought it, but unfortunately, he was picked in the unlucky lottery to go about on a date for the press with a poor sod.
“He’s American? Why?”
“Do you know the chances of you even being minutely related to someone of good breeding in England?” Her words nearly made him throw up. “Even if it’s a mere 0.001% blood relation, the press will go into a frenzy. The Styleses are filthy rich and have lived in North America for the last two centuries, don’t you think I chose well? He’s not bad to look at, look, he’s got nice teeth; he’s from Los Angeles.”
“Mum, if you ever say the word “breeding” again—“
“Don’t be so sensitive about it, we’re all animals here, Zayn. Hamsters procreate with their own children—“
“MUM!” Zayn shrieked, jumping up and down into the ear with his hands covering his ears. “No, just no. That’s a no. That’s a fat no. Goodbye. Good day.” He left the room, nearly running into one of the housekeepers dusting off the mantle.
“I’m so disgusted, I’m going to vomit,” Zayn waved his hands around his sister, who was sitting on the stairs cackling. “I’m seriously going to vomit.” The printed picture of his suitor flew from his hands and danced through the air, and right before it hit the ground did Safaa catch it and tilt it upwards.
“Woah, he’s not too bad, actually. Don’t you think ‘Malik-Styles’ has a nice ring to it, Zaynie-kins?”
“Mum should’ve dumped you into the Thames when she had the chance,” He hissed, feeling like something was crawling underneath his skin.
“Oh, hush, you,” Safaa wisely turned the portrait around, “Do you like what you see, Catherine of Aragon?”
“Stop, I don’t want to think about Henry’s wives right now.” Zayn pressed the side of his fist to his mouth.
“He’s handsome, for sure. And he’s your age, an alpha, 6’2”, dowry estimating…1.1 billion dollars—hey Zaynie, how do you convert pounds to dollars?”
“It shouldn’t matter at that number, Saf, billions is a connotative equalizer in any currency.”
“You’re wrong. A billion pence is…ten million pounds, you’re right, you’re definitely right.” Safaa raised her eyebrows in realization. “Does this mean you’ll be richer than me, Zaynie? When you marry him?”
“No one’s marrying anyone!” Zayn screamed to the ceiling. “This isn’t the 18th century, I’m not to be carted off to some lord so that I can give him pups and move forth the bloodline.”
“Quite right, but it does seem like you’re not going to be given too much of a choice, unless you want to join a convent,”
“Convents are only for women, Saf.”
“My point is made.”
Zayn groaned, “This is a nightmare.”
“Well, my dear brother, perhaps this is just divine punishment for amounting to nothing at this point in your life—“
“You little shit,”
“ And perhaps this will set forth a new moral honor code that you might abide to in your coming years of cheating the stock market and fattening your trusts with ongoing industrial investments, because that what all us blue bloods do when we don’t deserve our money.” Safaa drew a mustache on the Styles boy’s face with a sharpie just as Zayn threw his slipper at her head.
“So you’re not even gonna look at him?”
“Is that all you have to say, Harry?” Gemma looked more aghast about the situation than he did. “You should be fighting back! You’re not some kind of science experiment.”
“I’m above this, Gemma dear, we all are. Just let it be. I’ve had to return home anyways, grandma gets antsy when I don’t call,” Harry slapped his book shut, deciding that there was too much noise for him to read.
Gemma shifted and turned around in her seat. “Should I have a word with mom about this?”
Harry shrugged, back turned to her. “You can do whatever you’d like, Gem.”
“One of these days, you’ll crack, Hazza, and it won’t be pretty. I’ll have my Nikon out.” Gemma shook her head, she was someone who wore her Loubotins inside, she was not one to be modest about her personal success at winning the lottery of life.
Harry stopped in his tracks. “Gem, it’s harmless, and it’ll make mom happy. Stop being so annoying about it and learn to follow directions for once in your life. After all, I heard he wasn’t bad to look at.”
“You’re a secret sociopath, you know that? A person can’t be this calm with so many ulterior motives under his belt.” Gemma sighed, turning back around.
“You’re wrong, Gem. I’m not calm, I’m just not cracking.” Harry laughed in a way that signaled his disbelief, footsteps light and feathery down the hallway.
“Love, you’re doing it again, stop it, stop,” Yaser scolded, tapping at Zayn’s hands. “Trisha, look at what he’s doing.”
“Stop ripping up the paper, Zayn, you’re completely fine and safe.” Trisha told her son, who had been ripping up the picture of the illustrious Styles boy in a nervous fit. This was the second stage of the paper’s life purpose, you see. The first was for Zayn to compulsively fold it and twist it around.
He felt Yaser rub his head, so he turned to look at him. His dad smiled, head beckoning to the outside of the car. “Well, go on, then. I reckon you have about an hour or two before you have to meet at the hall.”
Zayn stuffed the pieces of paper into his pocket and shimmied out of the car, excitedly leaping back in to give his father a kiss.
“Where’s my kiss?” Trisha asked in a half-joking, half-expectant manner. Zayn smiled sarcastically at her before spinning around and running to the university library.
Books. If there was anything that didn’t succeed in completely boring or making him incapacitated, it’d be his ability to read books. Ever since he was a child, he had been studying and reading any book he could get his hands on, and it was almost like he’d disappear for a few hours before returning to life.
His parents, bless them, were always intellectual aristocrats, which apparently were the worst ones to be, and having donated millions of pounds to this specific university as gratuitous alumni gave Zayn and his sisters the ability to use any of their facilities. Doniya is a violinist, Waliyha is an engineer, Safaa is a dancer, but Zayn? Perhaps his gift was writing, everyone had always told him so. But in fact, he loathed writing, and it was obvious that he would much rather pay someone to write him more books to read.
Today’s adventure consisted of American Literature, an area of expertise that he had not yet mastered the music of.
His recent project was a book called Native Son by Richard Wright, so per usual, he greeted the librarian receptionist and made a beeline for the literature, past all of the computers and chatting colleagues and noise .
Another thing, Zayn hated noise.
There was a special corner that he’s been sitting in for the last five years, loved to the point that it never needed dusting and the curtains never needed to be shut. Zayn loved the sunlight hitting his skin as it illuminated the ink blots on each page, and when he was truly zoned out and lost in another dimension, those few seconds of the sound of pages turning by were the only things reminding him that he was part of the real world.
Imagine the shattering it caused when he strolled up the path that he could walk through with his eyes closed and saw someone sitting in his corner. Sitting in his corner. With the curtains closed? Preposterous. Zayn ought to send this cretin-like stranger a piece of his mind.
“Uh,” was all that came out.
The cretin’s head tilted upwards. “...Hi?”
Zayn blinked furiously as he thought of a next move, feeling quite adamant in his feelings of dire emergency to get this stranger out of his seat.
The cretin—man, alpha, was really handsome, and that was also distracting. In an instant, the alpha’s scent wafted through the air and hit him like a million aquarium stones all at once. “Uh,”
“Sorry,” The man seemed to get it. “Is this your seat?”
Zayn nodded with his lips pressed tightly together. He’s American. Zayn didn’t know what to think anymore.
The alpha smiled at him like he had just seen something rare, and when he stood up, it could’ve well knocked Zayn back a few aisles down with that scent he had. Perhaps it smelled rotten. Yes, it smelled rotten. Not like the jasmine and cedar trees that his mind was tricking him into thinking it was.
“You’re reading Native Son! I was looking for that,” His voice sounded funny, and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. “I’m Harry…?” The alpha bent down to peer up at Zayn’s face. The action made Zayn’s heart beat fast and desperate in its chest, as if it wanted to lunge at the guy—Harry and tell him all the pulling but off-putting things Zayn’s noticed about him within the last thirty seconds.
“‘M Zayn,” He replied after swinging his head to the side, cheeks burning. “You…you read Wright?” God, that sounded dumb.
Harry threw his head back and laughed, as quietly as he could, nodding his head. “Of course I read Wright! I’m an American sitting in the American Literature section. That’s like asking a British person if they’ve ever read Dickens.”
“I love Dickens,” Zayn admitted, and Harry smiled even wider. He was a very smiley guy. “Did you…do you want to read it?” He handed the book over, which is something that he has never done in his entire life, and in horror, he watched his own hands betray his traditions, Harry’s hands moving gently to take the book into his.
“Are you an omega? That’s probably a dumb thing to ask, but back in L.A, almost everyone wears scent blockers so I’m not really sure who smells like what anymore,” Harry chuckled, one eye shutting as he ruffled his own hair in embarrassment. “I’m an alpha.”
Zayn’s eyes fluttered. “You smell like an alpha, I could smell you from six feet away.”
Harry frowned a little, looking a tad confused as he sniffed his own shirt. “I thought I sprayed a crap ton this morning, though. That’s a bit strange. Well, uh, sorry for taking your seat.” He motioned to the corner behind him, and Zayn just nodded awkwardly.
He thought he was going to collapse, hardly ever meets new people on his own volition, and to think that he was acting in ways that were unheard of in his character was already distressing on its own. “So, how come you’re in the U.K?”
Harry seemed a little surprised that Zayn wanted to keep the conversation going. “I’m visiting colleges, you see. I’m planning to earn a doctorate, and you can usually tell the quality of a school by their library.”
“I’d agree with that. Are you liking it here?” Zayn asked innocently, and there it was again, that look where Harry looked like he’s discovered something rare. “And yeah, I’m an omega. I don’t typically wear scent blockers, it’s a rule I have to live by.”
“That’s stra—I’ve never heard of that before. May I ask why?” Harry was very polite, and Zayn was ten minutes into his library visit and he was still standing and talking. The sun was about to fall into the earth, for sure.
Zayn licked his lips and gulped, eyes darting to anywhere but directly into Harry’s pupils. “My family…they see it crude to hide our statuses. In multiple interpretations of the word. Maliks, we call ourselves. I’m Zayn Malik.”
Harry’s expression shifted smoothly from one of confusion and fascination to one of total realization. “I’m Harry Styles.”
It still didn’t register in Zayn’s mind what the implications were of exchanging each other’s last names. All he knew, bless his heart, was that Harry’s face was vaguely familiar. “It’s nice to meet you. Sorry, but I’m itching to get back to what I was doing,” was that rude?
“Ah, I’m sorry,” Harry seemed flustered, which Zayn didn’t understand. “Uh, actually, keep this. I’ll feel bad to take this from you. Is there any way I can find another copy?”
“This library has a lot of their books underneath the ground, see those machines there? They’re large robotic arms that grab your book for you. I’m sure you can find something there.” Zayn offered, and Harry smiled and thanked him, walking away languidly and so fluidly he would have mistaken him for a royal.
He fingered the edges of Native Son, instinctively (not yet compulsively) trying to smooth out the creases and folds, wondering what just happened and how the logistics must have worked in order for him to have ended up in what just happened.
He blinked a few more times, just until the jasmine and cedar trees left the air, and he went back to his usual corner.
He loved to tuck his feet up and rest his books on his knees when he read, so he did so.
But of course, the designer slacks he was dressed in gave no leeway for whatever was inside their lining, so when he bent his knees, the pieces of paper he was ripping up in the car slipped out and hit the carpeted floor. Littering was a sin, so he scrambled back down to pick them up, and that’s when it hit him, just as he began to fit them back together like puzzle pieces.
“That’s an eye, two eyes. Well, that’s good, a person should have two eyes. Hair. Hands. Wait.”
He looked up, and past the computers, chatting colleagues, and rows and rows of archaeology textbooks, a man wearing a long dark coat and smelling of a mystical forest was conversing with the library receptionist.
“Styles. Fuck,” He slapped his forehead. “I’m a doorknob.” He threw away the trash and left the book on the window sill, speed walking with as much intent he’s ever had whilst walking. “Uh, Harry!”
“Shhh!” Engineers, professors, and Rachel the Receptionist hissed at him. But all Harry did was turn around.
“It’s a bit funny,” He said before Zayn could even utter a word. He beckoned to follow him out the doors. “I thought we were supposed to meet at the hall in an hour. What a coincidence that our first impressions were laid right now.”
“First impressions?” Zayn squeaked, having walked too fast for his comfort. “I’m sorry, I was so rude, I didn’t recognize—“
“I was being presumptuous in thinking that you would, it’s my fault. I’m the one who should be sorry.” Harry stopped him in his tracks. “What made you figure it out?”
Zayn looked down at his fingers, picking at the skin around his nails half-heartedly. “They gave me a headshot that I ripped up, it was in my pocket.”
Harry snorted, “That sounds about right.”
“Did they give you a picture of me?” Zayn asked, and Harry nodded.
“I glimpsed at it,” They continued to stroll down the courtyard side by side. “I didn’t study it, though. That would be creepy.”
“Ah,” Zayn laughed softly. “Did I, did I muck this up?”
“‘Muck,’” Harry’s eyes crinkled fondly. “You are very British. And no, you didn’t ‘muck’ anything up. In fact, you’re already much better than I thought you’d be.”
“We don’t have to get married,” Zayn blurted a little aggressively, as though he was trying to force an answer right into Harry’s mouth. “Uh, we don’t have to do anything at all, y’know?”
Harry paused, but he seemed to understand. “Yeah, I agree. But let’s just pretend that we haven’t met yet for now.”
“My mother will throw a fit, she can be very Victorian sometimes. It’s inappropriate for me to be going around having secret little rendezvous with Alphas.” Zayn informed him, and Harry had fun listening.
“It’s the 21st century! Are you really saying that you have no alpha friends?” Harry teased. “Could we never be friends, then?”
“I don’t have many friends,”
“Yeah,” Zayn’s hair got in his face, and he frantically shoved it about. Harry tried to pretend like he didn’t notice. “I think you’re a surprise, if you were wondering. Erm, since you said that I’m already much better than you expected. ‘Cause I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything at all—“
“I like the way you say that. It sounds really good coming from you. Sorry if that seems like I’m sensationalizing you or…anyways, sorry, please continue.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything, and if I’m being honest, I think you’ve already surprised me in ways that no one ever has.”
Harry had no idea what he was going to say to that. He sucked in a sharp inhale, “So, you love books, huh?”
“Yeah, I’m planning on getting a doctorate in Literature.” Zayn said in a giggle. “Kind of blue-blood of me, huh?”
Harry couldn’t tear his eyes away. “Nah, just the right amount of blue-blood. How old are you, you seem really young to be going after a PhD.”
“Same goes for you. I’m 20. I graduated early so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree early.” Zayn was getting a little tired from all this walking, and Harry noticed; he was so good at noticing, and led them to a bench to sit.
“I’m 20,” Harry said it like it was the most amazing thing in the world. “I graduated high school early too, that’s so weird. I’ve never met anyone who’s practically going the same path as me.”
“What are you planning to study?”
“Anthropology,” Harry explained. “I guess we’re both very blue-blood and taking much advantage of our privilege.”
Zayn giggled at that, and that’s when Harry decided he wanted to keep saying funny things to hear it again and again.
“The three books shows a lot about the techniques of perspective that Wright uses, like how Bigger’s point of view is so limiting that even the reader feels the need to shut out the other characters and forget how they are also people,”
“Because we’re so focused on all the things Bigger does and feels, you’re exactly right.” Harry continued when Zayn faltered, smiling in encouragement. “I think Flight has to be my favorite book, just because of all the emotions it made me circulate through. Sometimes, maybe that’s the only point to books, y’know?”
“Yeah,” Zayn whispered. “I getcha.”
People passing by were looking at them weirdly.
“I’ve never met a British person who was this invested in American Literature, I feel almost flattered, somehow.” Harry joked, and Zayn blushed. “What’s your favorite American book?”
“It’s called Pachinko.” Zayn stated without a moment of hesitation. “It’s not necessarily an American narrative, but it’s written by an American, and it’s absolutely fantastic. I read it in an hour, it’s over 500 pages; I read it in an hour.” He emphasized, a small part of him feeling proud when Harry looked impressed.
“I guess that means I’ll have to read it.”
No one has ever taken Zayn’s opinion this seriously before, and he didn’t know how to feel about it.
“What the hell,” he vocalized, and Harry blinked at him in confusion. “I mean, ugh, sorry, that was so weird—uh, well, it was just—shit. No one ever really talks to me about this stuff, and you just really surprised me just now.”
Harry blushed, and Zayn noticed. They looked away for a moment, training their eyes on literally anything but each other. Both weren’t exactly smooth and saucy, but neither could deny that they were intrigued.
Zayn smelled so good, Harry almost couldn’t breathe.
Like body wash and shampoo, amongst other things.
He was usually a better poet than this.
“Hello?” Zayn stretched upwards so that he could be back in Harry’s view. “You blanked for a second there.”
“Did I?” Harry looked red horrifically red, he was sure, but Zayn didn’t seem to notice or mind.
“You smell very nice,” Zayn blurted out loud, and Harry’s head snapped back towards him. “Like, jasmines and being forced to camp outside.”
“I didn’t know ‘being forced to camp outside’ was a scent,” Harry snorted, amused by this tiny, loud but skittish creature.
“I didn’t know either, ‘till now.” Zayn ended with that, and it went silent again.
“You smell nice too.”
“Huh?” Zayn’s head snapped so suddenly he cracked it.
“May I?” Harry’s hands moved, and Zayn’s head nodded on autopilot. His right hand gently touched the side of his jaw, tilting it, and his head moved towards his neck at an alarming pace.
Zayn was paralysed, this was the farthest an alpha had ever touched him in his entire life, and maybe it was just him being theatrical, but it felt intimate. Harry’s breath ghosted over the sensitive place in the conjunction of his head and shoulder. “Oranges. Ha.”
The words were hot on his body, and Zayn whimpered when he felt a small amount of slick make its presence known in his pants.
Harry pulled back in surprise, and when Zayn finally realized what had happened, his whole body stiffened up and he leaped up. “Erm,”
Harry coughed and stood up as well, hands flying to his pants to wipe off their clamminess. “Um,”
“Sorry.” They said in unison, and before anything else could be awkwardly stated, phones rang.
“Hello?” Zayn’s croaked, cheeks flaming and feeling a bit humiliated.
“Hello?” Harry was sweating.
“In the hall?” They both asked, looking over at each other in shock. “Okay, I’ll be there.”
They hung up, and it was when Zayn decided to go ahead first, walking so quickly it literally just looked like a jog.
Harry just blinked and watched him go, feeling as though he had just ‘mucked’ everything up.
“Jaan, are you okay?” Zayn was in his dad’s lap, clutching his shirt dramatically in his fist and right ear pressed against his chest. “Did something happen?”
“He’s not talking, goodness,” Trisha bent down to Zayn’s level, wiping his face firmly with her thumbs. “Sweetheart, they’ll be here any minute.”
“This is too much, Trish, not even as a possibility. We don’t want to send jaan into a panic,” Yaser sighed, pressing his lips to the side of Zayn’s head. “We’re sorry, it’s okay. It’s not serious, and we can work it out.”
“What was that?”
“I’m okay,” Zayn mumbled a little louder, “I swear.”
“Oh, okay?” Trisha blinked at him, surprised by the answer. “You sure, my love?”
“Mhm,” Zayn nodded, getting up off his dad’s lap and standing on his own. “‘M nervous, is all.”
“That’s alright,” Trisha kissed his cheek just as the doors opened. Zayn froze when he heard his father inhale loudly behind him, turning around to see his brow furrowed in concentration.
“Oh,” Yaser said calmly, looking right at Zayn with a twinge of a smile. “Interesting.”
“Hello, so nice to meet you, my name is ——— and I represent the Styles family.” An attorney led with his hand, shaking Trisha’s first before Yaser’s.
“Hi, I’m Harry,” Harry smiled warmly, teeth so bright they screamed riches. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” Trisha smiled, so easily impressed, judging by the way she turned her head back and waggled her eyebrows at Zayn. “Thank you for helping us. It’s been quite a shock.”
“If anyone were to ask me, which no one did, I’d say that my lovely wife has blown this lightyears out of its proportion.” Yaser jokes, resulting in a light slap to the arm.
“I mean,” Harry tries, “I understand the concern.”
“You’re too kind,” Yaser pats him on the back. “This is Zayn, but you probably already know that.”
“Hello,” Harry smiled at Zayn, a hand outstretched. “I’m Harry.”
“Hi,” Zayn took it gingerly and shook, eyes darting up and down from his gaze.
“Goodness, you are so quick to quip, aren’t you. Do you really think that shallowly of me? Come over here,” Trisha whispered to Yaser, looking up at him like the fiery little woman she was. “Let me explain.”
“You see, this worked out for our moms for lots of reasons,” Harry started, trying to grab Zayn’s attention, which, to be fair, was not an easy task. “Our wealth is purely generational, and stems from our English great-godmother, who raised my dad after my grandma passed away. Technically, we are her adopted family, and recently she has proposed an ultimatum in light of her...senior years.”
“The ultimatum was?” Zayn realized that they were still holding hands, so he quickly let go.
“I used to spend every single summer here with my god-grandma, really she’s just my grandma, but yeah, it's safe to say I’m her favorite.”
Zayn giggled, “Oh, nice.”
“Yeah, but because I haven’t visited enough, she’s threatened to take us all out of the will and cut us off if I don’t find a way to stay in England; close to her. That, and she insisted I have to make a name for myself.” Harry shrugged, “Sounds awful, but there is no better way to achieving all the things you’re ambitious about than marrying a billionaire’s heir.”
“I understand, money is a very important thing,” Zayn didn’t sound very convincing. Harry looked away and smiled.
“No, I can tell that you don’t care about money all that much. I don’t either, but it’s mainly the rest of my family I’d do this for.” Harry looked behind him to see Zayn’s parents and his lawyer conversing at the other side of the room, so he turned back to Zayn. “Did your mom really set this all up just because of a rumor that spread that you’re the product of incest?”
Zayn shrugged, “I don’t understand 90% of her antics. We already disproved it, but once she sets her mind to something…” He scratched the back of his head. “Silly question, but would you bring me lots of books? I’ve recently been enthralled by Harlem Renaissance literature,”
Harry smiled again like he’s found something rare. “Of course.”
“Well, then I suppose we could hang out.” Zayn smiled. “Or something, I dunno. Or not. That’s fine too.”
“Let’s just…see where this goes?”
“Yeah, let’s.” They agreed upon it. “I think you’re pretty cool already,” was said in perfect unison.