The fan-fic writer knows no obligation to reality. While the media might be full of rumours about what really caused Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction – him cheating on Perrie, him smoking too much weed, him just being a 22-year-old guy who is bored of the whole world imagining what it would be like to have sex with him – fan-fic authors are free to dream up stories far more ludicrous than any that would ever appear in a tabloid newspaper.
In the hours since Zayn announced he was leaving, the 1D fan-fiction community has gone into overdrive, flooding the internet with fresh, new, semi-conspiratorial stories. Most of them are prefixed with apologies for their hasty composition and overly mushy subject matter, and most – obviously – depict Zayn leaving, a histrionic imagining of what went down – although some fans have announced that they're retiring their pens in protest and shock. Truly, surely, that will make him change his mind.
One of the strange things about the fan-fic that's been published since the split is that so little of it seems to fantasise about Zayn coming back. Almost every plot I read features scenes of backstage crying and clammy hugs, using the kind of quasi-apocalyptic language that wouldn't seem out of place at a funeral. The tragedy of the situation is clear: Zayn's gone for good.
Here are some of my favourite literary reactions:
Author: fetchlylarrystylinson AKA Larry Smut
Title: Goodbye Zayn
Previous works: Togehter we'll get through Anything (sic)
In review: Goodbye Zayn frames the Zayn revelation from a point in the not-too-distant past, the moment everything started to unravel. Were the signs always there? "Yes," says fetchlylarrystylinson, "they fucking were if you opened your eyes." Here, Harry – the de facto "main one" now, remember – approaches Zayn in the weird, five-dorm house that One Direction fanfictioners seem to think they all live in, and asks him if he's OK. This is teenage wish fulfilment at its most basic: who has asked the Directioners of the world if they are OK? Because they are not OK. They are sat on their beds being sad about that good-haired prince fucking off to go and do an undoubtedly shit solo record.
Sadly, all that tension – all that angst, all that parallel lives stuff – is quite rapidly destroyed when Zayn cups Harry's perfect face in his hand and it all, as One Direction fan-fiction is wont to do, gets homoerotic up in here.
What mark this would get if it were GCSE homework: C
Title: Ready to Run
Previous Works: Dangerous (A Liam Payne Love Story)
In Review: What Bearcat is saying with Ready to Run– beyond, "I know a lot of descriptive verbs for talking" – is that she's above the One Direction hype. Who cares that Zayn has left, yeah? Because Tracy fucking Chapman still exists, and turquoise paint still exists, and teenage fucking rebellion still exists. Heh, you think you know Zayn pain? You do not know Zayn pain. You do not know Zayn pain until you have deleted your Facebook page and smoked exactly three clove cigarettes and walked in your galoshes in the rain just really, actually, thinking about life.
OPEN. YOUR. EYES. SHEEPLE. PAINT. YOUR. NAILS. PURPLE.
What mark this would get if it were GCSE coursework: A low B, and a note to student services about their wellbeing.
Title: The Storm
Previous Works: Something Called Payne
In review: You know when proper grown-ups write for young adults and it's a bit, "Well, you tried granddad, but you did just describe a cardigan as being 'well dapper'?" That times a million for sunnysideup, author of The Storm. At its heart, The Storm is a story of five lads who have appalling, unworkable nicknames for each other (why would you call someone called Liam "Li"? Liam takes like, a millisecond to say), and who are in love in a bizarre, sexless (I think?) way, and they don't know how to swear, but they do understand each other, but they also punch each other in the bollocks on the reg. Liam and Zayn are in love, here, but in that kind of bromantic love where they sit on the sofa with their legs on each other's laps, but they never actually toss each other off. What is happening? Nothing. How long is it taking nothing to happen? Forever. Puberty in a nutshell, this. The Storm is the most meta out of all of these.
What mark this would get if it were GCSE coursework: low D and a whispered conversation at parents' evening where it's suggested additional tutoring might be necessary.
Title: Zayn Quit 1D for me
In Review: Think it's pretty clear what JessieAmari is trying to say with Zayn Quit 1D for me: it's that Zayn quit 1D, for her. So what is Harry Styles doing at the door, with his fuck-eyes on? He is in love with her too. What JessieAmari is saying here, and this is a brave admission, is that One Direction were torn apart by not one but two members' love for her, and the weirdly competitive feelings Harry and Zayn have over laying a stake on her. She's walking into the One Direction fan-fiction community with her hands above her head and she's saying: "Hear my voice, sunnysideup. Hear me well, Bearcat. It is I who broke your favourite band up, with my insanely powerful badonk-a-donk. I am like a double Yoko Ono up in here."
A brave piece of writing.
What mark this would get if it were GCSE coursework: Oh, like a U
Author: John the Craptist
Title: It Feels Better Biting Down
In Review: Kerouac never died, he just went into the ground and re-emerged years later as John the Craptist, renowned stream-of-conciousness One Direction fan-fiction author. Burn, burn, burn, John the Craptist. Burn like the fabulous yellow roman candle that you are.
What mark this would get if it were GCSE coursework: A*********, a new categorisation invented especially.