Scoundrels (One Direction Fanfic)

. “What are we playing for?” Quinn asked.
“Fame, glory, bragging rights,” Niall listed, counting the items off on his fingers with a cheeky grin. Quinn rolled her eyes and shoved him lightly, prompting him to shove her back. “Loser buys the winner dinner?”

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21. Brotherly Comfort

21

Brotherly Comfort

The party continued downstairs; the music shaking the foundations of the house. Quinn had wrapped herself up in her blankets and was staring blankly at the wall, absently wiping the tears off her face. This fight… it felt final, and she didn’t know whether to be happy or upset, which only made her cry more. What kind of person was she, if she felt worse about not feeling bad than anything else? What did that say about her character?

The words replayed in her mind and she buried her head in her knees, muffling the sobs. She didn’t look up or take any notice as someone thudded up the stairs and stopped outside her door; she kind of hoped whoever it was would go away, or at least be Tyson or Xavier, someone who had seen her cry before and someone who knew exactly what to say to get her to cheer up. Someone knocked, and when she didn’t reply, opened the door anyway. She didn’t have to turn around to know who it was.

“Sorry, Xavier,” she mumbled. “I’m ruining the party, aren’t I?”

“No,” her brother replied, shutting the door and sitting beside her on the ground. He didn’t try to hug her or touch her, but offered a tissue when she sniffed.

Quinn huffed as she took it, blowing her nose and cringing at the noise. “Thanks,” she muttered.

“Wanna tell me what that was about?” he opened quietly, eyes on her face to make sure she wasn’t going to lie to him and say ‘nothing’. Like she usually did.

She considered if for a moment, before throwing the idea away. If anyone would be able to see through her lying it would be Xavier. “It’s kind of my fault, I suppose,” she started, ignoring the way his face clenched up in protest. He didn’t interrupt. “I’ve been so busy, I’ve barely called- we never see each other anymore… and he… he thinks I cheated on him.”

“With Niall,” Xavier finished, putting the pieces together. He might act like an idiot, but he had a good head on his shoulders and he paid more attention to his little sister’s life than an ordinary brother might. He’d been paying especially close attention the last few weeks, and had noticed how quickly her friendship had sprung up with the five lads downstairs. Xavier had also been aware enough to know that Quinn wasn’t the type to betray someone, and would stubbornly remain loyal even if she was the one who wound up hurt.

Like tonight.

“I’m a horrible girlfriend,” Quinn muttered.

Xavier pushed her gently. “No, you’re not. You used to speak about him like he was everything to you, you dropped everything to answer him, Mum said you spent every last penny making trips up to see him, or paying his fare to get here. Quinn. Did he ever do any of that for you?”

She was silent for a moment as his words hit home, making her realise that though she’d tried so hard, she’d been clinging to the frayed threads of a relationship that was doomed from the moment Evan had thrown his first sulk and left Quinn crying for days. She’d gone crawling back to apologise for something that wasn’t her fault; in retrospect, she should have known that if they were having such issues so early, that it would never last. Still she’d held on for seven months.

Sensing the change in his sister, Xavier continued. “Boyfriends aren’t supposed to play you around. They’re not supposed to control your friendships or make you feel guilty about having interests outside the relationship. They’re not supposed to insult the things or the people you care about, and they’re not supposed to make you sit miserably through your own party then throw a tantrum when you’re having fun without him. And if I ever catch him shouting at you like that again, I’ll wring his fucking neck.”

Quinn smiled despite herself. “I can look after myself, Xay.”

“Alright,” he conceded quickly. “I’ll hold the camera while you kick his ungrateful arse.”

Normally, violence was abhorrent to Quinn, but her anger was hot enough to make it seem like an attractive course of action. They were completely joking of course, but it didn’t stop the thoughts from being mildly therapeutic. “Thanks,” she whispered, leaning her head on his shoulder briefly as he hugged her, pleased with himself and his ability to be a comfort. “Let me clean up and I’ll come back down, yeah?”

“That’s the spirit,” Xavier cried, standing up as quick as you like and dragging Quinn up with him, groaning and protesting. “Leave your phone up here, too,” he added as he kissed her cheek quickly and hurried off, leaving the door cracked open. Quinn watched and threw the blanket off her shoulders, feeling well enough to throw off her sadness too. Damned if Evan was going to ruin her night. Not this time.

Quinn was unspeakably grateful that nobody made a fuss of her return; Nadia, Elena, Perrie, Eleanor and Danielle swooped in with quick hugs and a glass of champagne, the women making themselves at home in the kitchen while the boys had turned on Just Dance and were currently flailing about in a poor mockery of the moves they were supposed to be making.

The moment he saw her, though, Niall broke away from catcalling Louis and grabbed her arm, leading her into their group and to his side. Quinn caught Nadia and Eleanor making kissy faces at her from the kitchen, which she ignored despite the colour on her cheeks, knowing they were kidding.

For the rest of the night, wherever Quinn went, Niall was sure to follow a few steps behind, apparently determined to make her laugh or die trying. She nearly tripped over him several times, though each near-miss was becoming funnier and funnier as the champagne took hold. In the end, when they all curled up on the floor with blankets and pillows to watch a horror movie, Quinn was unsurprised to find herself next to Niall.

The surprise came the next morning, when she woke to find her hand entwined in his and her heart swelled with more genuine happiness than she’d felt in weeks.

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