Welcome to the third episode of the Columbia x Harry Styles Fanfic series. This time, Harry and Y/N battle to take the stage at Bacchanal.
Dear beloved Reader,
Disclaimer: The events listed are purely fictional and the product of a delusional Bwog staffer’s mind. Harry Styles has not been—and is not currently—affiliated with Bwog in any capacity. For the optimal reading experience, read the first two segments linked above.
“Wait, wouldn’t it be cool if you performed?”
My friend’s words run through my head as I lie in bed and look at Bacchanal’s Instagram post advertising Battle of the Bands. Maybe it could be cool? No. Actually, it couldn’t. I haven’t sang since high school musical theatre, and that was different. Well, maybe they could focus on my guitar skills? No, I haven’t touched my guitar in months. Also, classes are ramping up this semester, and I can never get to bed before 2 am. But performing at Battle of the Bands would be nice.
I look back at the Instagram post. I guess I do have a week to perfect my vocal and guitar skills. I could do it. Wait, can I even hold a tune still? It’s nighttime, but I try to hum quietly—just to see if I still have a morsel of talent. I can barely hum the first part of “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac before my roommate, Harry, groans, “Y/N, it is bloody 2:37 am. I don’t want to hear your lousy singing.”
Ouch. Sometimes, I forget he exists behind the room divider we keep up in our room. We don’t speak to each other much, unless he’s bitching about something or I’m asking him to take his Zoom calls to our Hartley suite lounge. I scoff and close out my phone screen before rolling over, “Go to hell.” I can hear his deep chuckle reverberate through the dark room, and it reminds me that—though I hate to admit it—sometimes, he’s kind of cute.
I begin my walk to class feeling slightly uneasy. My friend’s words ring through my mind.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if you performed?”
No, it wouldn’t actually. I sing and play my guitar every once in a while, but it’s nothing like when I was in my high school band. It wasn’t serious, just some lads having a laugh in our garages, making music we’d never sing again. I miss it. Every now and then, I jot down some lyrics in my journal when I’m alone in my room, but it gets interrupted pretty quickly now that I have a roommate. We never talk, unless she’s asking me to leave the room, but I’m not fond of the idea of her watching me write. She might actually ask questions. Part of me wouldn’t mind.
I bookmarked the Battle of the Bands performer application to my phone’s home screen. I’ll think about it. Oh, whatever, there aren’t many questions. I’ll just sign up. The thought of my classmates watching me perform would usually frighten me, but today, I feel good about it. Not many people know this side of me, except for a few friends. They’ll finally hear some of my real work. Y/N will hear some of my real work. Something about that sends chills down my spine.
It’s fine. She probably won’t come anyway. She’ll be too busy doing something for her awful “journalism” club. If one can call it that. Before I know it, I’m on autopilot filling out the form and it’s time to submit it. Do I want to do this? What if they don’t like it? But also, I only get four years here.
I might as well.
Ever since the day I submitted my Bacchanal Battle of the Bands application, I’ve been so uneasy. And today, they release the lineup. What if I don’t make it in? What if I do? What if they don’t like what I’m singing? What if my voice is bad? Can I actually play the guitar, or am I horrible at it? And, most importantly, who are my opponents?
I’ve felt sick waiting for the lineup release. I’ve had Bacchanal’s post notifications on. I’ve even checked my email more in the past week than I have all year. I’m about to put my phone in my tote bag before leaving my room for class when I see a notification on my phone: “@cubacchanal just posted a photo”. I click it immediately, and my name appears at the top of the image. It’s real. My eyes scan the lineup post, and—oh shit.
Harry Styles is printed in the middle. This has to be a joke. Harry Styles? My roommate? The absolute nuisance behind my room divider? He’s my opponent. It’s getting harder to wrap my head around it the more I think about it. I want to be angry.
But the thought of Harry singing with his deep, husky voice and looking into the crowd with his forest green orbs staring directly at me as I wait in the crowd… no. I can’t do this today. I have to confront him or tell him to not perform. How am I supposed to do this in front of Harry—with him going against me?
Sometimes, life gets worse against my wishes.
My brain is swirling. Y/N stands in our doorway, nervously gesturing her arms around with her phone pointed toward me. From the spot on my bed, I can see it’s the Bacchanal post on Instagram. I’ve been staring at it for the past two hours. Fuck.
She walks closer to me and crosses the room divider, but I don’t process anything she’s saying, really. I can only take in the things I hadn’t noticed about her before. Every three words she says, she does a different outward-pointing gesture with her arms. She holds the pendant on her necklace between her thumb and the side of her forefinger when she’s stressed. She looks up at the sky when she’s explaining things and back at me when she’s asking me a question.
She’s asking me a question.
“I’m sorry, what?” is the only thing I can get out.
“Did you know that I signed up for Battle of the Bands? I get the fake rivalry stuff, Harry, but this is actually a bigger deal for me, so if you could just not mess this up, I would really appreciate it.” Why would she think I’d do that?
“No, Y/N, I signed up for myself. I didn’t know you wanted to, as well,” I explain. She pauses for a second.
“No, yeah, it’s fine. I just wanted to check, that’s all… well, do you want to possibly practice together one day, or—”
“No,” I say before she can finish her sentence. I can’t think of anything worse than Y/N seeing me practice for my performance. It gives me the ick. “I’m okay. It’s no big deal. We’ll just see what we have when we perform, okay?”
“Oh.” Is she… disappointed? “Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for the talk.” She crosses back to her side of the room divider.
I feel horrible.
My heart is pounding in my ears. I’m the last act of the night for Battle of the Bands. Harry went before me and put on the most amazing performance of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The crowd is buzzing with excited chatter. I think tears formed in my eyes. He was amazing. His voice, his guitar skills, his charisma. I never expected any of that from him.
In another life, that man could be an absolute rock star.
I can’t believe I have to go next.
The announcers go out and do their bit. Before I know it, Niall, a blond kid on the Bacchanal board, turns to me, “It’s your turn in a few seconds. We’ve set the mic up. Do you need anything else?”
I want water. My mouth feels dry, and I feel like I’m about to faint. “No, I’m okay, thanks.”
He turns away and hurries in the opposite direction. Oh gosh, their bit is over. I put my guitar strap around my neck and step onto the stage. The lights are so, so bright. And hot. The air is stuffy, and people turn toward the stage excitedly. I can hear some of my friends cheering for me, but I drown them out. I can’t think about the outside world too much.
I step to the mic, and the audience quiets. “Hi,” I squeak. “I’m Y/N, and I’m going to do a cover of ‘Songbird’ by Fleetwood Mac.” I hear some cheers and applause, mostly from my friends and student journalism peers.
I begin the first few chords. Just pretend you’re practicing, I think to myself. I instinctively close my eyes. I hear some voices singing along and open my eyes… and there he is.
Harry stood in the middle of the crowd, his eyes locking with mine for the entire three minutes. His green eyes and pink lips captivate me. And I can’t deny that I really like him.
The song is over, and I look around and finally notice the crowd waving their phone flashlights. I leave the stage with the applause ringing in my ears. I make small talk with my friends and give about a hundred “thank you”s before walking to my dorm alone.
When I get there, Harry is there, and he looks over at me standing in the doorway and smiles. “You were amazing, Y/N.”
My face feels hot. “Thank you, Harry. So were you.”
I get ready for bed, filled with happiness. That one interaction with Harry changed everything. We spent more time together and talked to each other every day. Something is forming between us.
But when, on Monday, I receive the news that Harry ultimately won Battle of the Bands and will open for Ice Spice, the best rapper in the music scene, I’m angry… or hurt. He didn’t hesitate to celebrate in front of me, and he never bothered to acknowledge my feelings. Does he care at all? But still, even as I sit in my anger, I can’t help but notice that I’m falling in love with him.
It’s the night of Bacchanal, and as I sit backstage, I still can’t believe it. Me, a Columbia sophomore, opening for this generation’s Princess Di. On any other day, I would be freaking out, but all I can think about is Y/N. What if she never speaks to me again? If I had known how important this dream was to her, I never would have…
Before I can finish my thought, the door bursts open and in walks none other than Ice Spice herself. She whips her amber ringlets around and stares at me with her chestnut orbs. I’m so starstruck that Y/N almost leaves my mind, until the star in front of me brings me back down to Earth.
“Are you the student assistant who’s supposed to get my snacks? Because I asked for some Hot Cheetos like 30 minutes ago and—hold on, what’s wrong? Why is my assistant crying in my green room?”
I hadn’t realized there were tears in my eyes until Ice Spice pointed them out. “I’m actually your opening act, Harry Styles,” I reply.
“Harry Styles? Hmm. I wouldn’t have pegged you for a musician. So, is the crying part of your pre-show ritual or something? Are you like a sad Phoebe Bridgers type? I guess everyone has their niche.”
“Not exactly.” I sigh. “It’s just that—” What am I thinking? “Never mind, you don’t want to hear about the silly problems of a uni student.”
“Come on,” she sighs in her captivating Bronx accent. “What else am I gonna do backstage at Bacchanal? It’s not like I have my snacks anywhere. Besides, I can’t have my opening act embarrass himself crying in front of the whole school, it’ll ruin the mood for ‘Bikini Bottom.’”
What do I have left to lose? It’s not like I’ll ever have Y/N’s heart now anyway. Plus, if I can’t share my feelings with a generational talent like Ice Spice, who can I talk to? I take a deep breath. “It’s just that… there’s this girl… my roommate actually… at first I thought she was a menace, but over the last few weeks I’ve started to realize she’s funny, and kind, not to mention the most beautiful bird in any of Columbia’s four undergraduate institutions.”
“That doesn’t exactly sound like a problem,” says the ethereal ginger.
“She’s not the problem… it’s me. She should be the one opening for you tonight, but I ruined her chances just like I ruined us. I didn’t tell her how I felt when I had the chance, and now she won’t even speak to me. I think by winning Battle of the Bands, I may have lost my one chance at love on this campus.”
Ice Spice sighs and pats my shoulder. “Harris, have you heard my latest single, ‘Boy’s a liar, Pt. 2?’”
“Well, it’s like I say in the song: ‘don’t like sneaky shit that you do (grrah).’ You can’t hide your feelings forever.”
“But I ruined her chances at Bacchanal, Ms. Spice. She’ll never speak to me again. Besides, I’m going on in two minutes. There’s no time.”
“There will be other Bacchanals, Hunter. You have to grab the most important duh-duh-duh—her heart—while you still can.”
She’s right. I can’t let Y/N slip away over some stupid performance, even if it is the opportunity to open for one of New York’s greatest living musical talents.
Just then, Zayn, a junior from my Creative Writing class tasked with wrangling the talent, grabs my arm. “You’re on in 15 seconds, mate.”
I know exactly what I have to do.
As I run out the door, I barely hear Ice as she mutters under her breath, “anything to get him out of my green room.”
It’s the night of Bacchanal, and as angry as I am with Harry right now, I wouldn’t miss his performance for the world. What he has is magic—even if he did steal my dream, I have to admit, he wasn’t entirely undeserving.
From behind me, I hear, “Hey, Y/N, here to see the opening act?” Shit. It’s one of the editors at my student journalism organization.
“Psssh, no, I just wanted to get here early for Ice Spice,” I say, trying to hide the flush I feel in my cheeks.
“Same here,” says the editor. “That Harry guy was in ‘Critical Approaches to Social and Cultural Theory’ with me last semester, and he’s kind of the worst. So full of himself.”
“You have no idea,” I mutter.
Before I have the chance to say anything more, the lights go up, and I can see my menace of a roommate’s silhouette begin to enter from stage right. This was a bad idea, I think. I start to look around for the fastest way out of the growing crowd—surely I have time to leave before he starts. There will be other chances to see Ice Spice in concert. Finally, I see a path out to the left of me. I start to make a run for it, but before I can, he’s on the mic.
“So, I was going to perform an original song tonight, one that I think really compliments Ms. Spice’s sound, but I can’t do it. You see, I shouldn’t be up here at all.”
I turn around. Wait, what is he saying?
“My roommate, Y/N, wanted this more than anything in the world. I didn’t think about that when I auditioned, because we’ve always been rivals, but I realized something watching her perform up there during Battle of the Bands. I realized the feelings I thought were rivalry were… well, maybe they were something else. A wise woman once told me, ‘you can’t hide your feelings forever.’ She was right, Y/N. I know I can’t undo the judges’ decision, but, if you’ll have me, I would be honored for you to join me on stage tonight.”
By the time I process what he’s saying, half the crowd is looking in my direction. Harry? Feelings for me? The same Harry who can barely stand sharing a Hartley double?
I’m shaken out of my thoughts by the same editor nudging my shoulder. “Y/N,” she says, “I think that’s your cue.”
Before I know what I’m doing, I’m climbing up on stage with him.
“Harry, this is ridiculous,” I whisper. “This is your night, and I can’t just—”
He cuts me off. “Did you feel what I felt?”
“That night at Battle of the Bands, Y/N. Did you feel what I felt?”
“Of course, but I never thought that you—”
“Then we’re doing this together.”
Annoying, awful, wild, spontaneous, wonderful Harry.
I look back out at the crowd. “What would we even perform?”
He looks at me with his signature dimpled smirk.
“I was thinking ‘Songbird.’”
Lauri’s A Bacchanal via Wikimedia Commons
Arry Stiles via Wikimedia Commons
Bwog via Bwarchives