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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22. Hello Princess

22

Hello, Princess

Days and weeks blurred together, disappearing faster than a bullet. Preparation for the second leg of the tour, to Australia, was twice as difficult as the UK one and Quinn found herself rushing around like a headless chicken trying to keep everything in order. At least being busy kept her distracted from thinking about Evan; that fight still played on her mind and in her quiet moments, she often wondered whether she should have done something different.

The busier she was, the less time she had for regrets, which is why there were no complaints when Xavier handed off his packing to her in favour of spending time in London, recording their first proper single in the studio. Quinn divided her time between the Scoundrels and what work needed doing there, designing their promo merchandise with help from her mother and Nadia, catching up for a few brief coffees with Eleanor and Danielle, mostly, as Little Mix were as busy as Quinn herself.

Finally, the day of the tour arrived and the Scoundrels arrived at the airport early, before dawn in fact, in an attempt to beat the crowds they knew would be waiting. Sure enough, there were people waiting for their arrival and the excitement was tangible in the air even if it was barely five. Coffee was a priority, before their security team- their official security, as each boy and Quinn had their own personal minder for public appearances (something Quinn still struggled to wrap her mind around)- shepherded them into a row of seats.

One by one, One Direction and their entourage trickled in. Security first, then the stylists- Lou and Quinn instantly branched off to chat, as Quinn had been taking lessons from Lou in how to dress, how to do her make-up, and advice for how to dress the Scoundrels- then the musicians- Josh and Tyson started drumming on the seats while Sandy, Dan, Xavier and Ben made a guitarist clique.

Half an hour before the plane was due to board, the first of One Direction arrived. It was Liam, predictably, who made an appearance first, followed closely by Zayn who looked half asleep, then a smiling Harry and a too-excited Louis. The group reunited, the two acts sitting together on two rows of chairs, surrounded by their staff. This was not a small contingent by any means, and moving them anywhere was not an easy task. Quinn cast several glances at Paul’s worried expression and didn’t envy him his job one bit.

To pass the time, Quinn was engrossed in conversation with Louis, who was relaying a message from Eleanor that Manchester University offered courses in writing and journalism, and Eleanor would be more than happy to share a flat with Quinn, if she wanted to, once the tour was over.

“Hey, look who’s finally here,” Louis grinned abruptly, pointing at someone behind her head. Quinn turned to see, her mouth splitting into a wide grin as she slid to her feet and hurried to beat everyone to the new arrival.

“Niall!” she cried, delighted to see him again. They’d spoken on the phone the night before, and that morning, but just hearing his voice was nothing to seeing him in the flesh. Niall dropped his bag off his shoulder just in time to plant his feet and stay upright as Quinn crashed into him. “Oh, it’s so good to see you!” she breathed, her wrists crossed behind his neck and her cheek against his.

Niall narrowed his eyes at Liam and Harry, who slowed Zayn and Louis down for a few seconds longer and shot him thumbs up. Catching on quickly, Zayn and Louis snickered and made a few crude gestures before Liam spotted and batted their hands down. “I missed you, princess,” Niall murmured, distracted by the oncoming lads. He heard Quinn’s sharp intake of breath and she pulled back, shrinking down off her tiptoes.

Her hands were still on his shoulders and one eyebrow rose in askance; Niall smiled thinly, hoping she’d missed the slip and would simply say she’d missed him too. Quinn’s lips parted and she took a breath- Niall’s heart raced a little…

“NIALLER!” Louis and Zayn chorused, crashing the party in a flurry of arms and legs and sloppy kisses on his cheeks. Quinn ducked out of the way lest she be caught in the middle of the tangle of boys- Harry and Liam had leapt on the group, sending them all to the floor in what had quickly become a game of crush-and-suffocate-Niall. From underneath someone’s leg- Louis’, by the frankly alarming colour- Niall saw Quinn shake her head, laughing, as Paul walked over to prise the lads apart.

Back on his feet, Niall looked instantly for Quinn and found her back with her brother, she and Xavier gathered around a sheet of music as Tyson and Ben listened intently. Niall joined the boys, the two bands taking up four rows of seats as security kept the crowd at bay. This early in the morning, there weren’t quite so many, but there were no chances being taken.

“… the chorus again, Quinn, how’d it go?” Ben was saying. Niall turned his head a little, his back to the Scoundrels as he tried to listen to Harry and Louis explain how much fun they, Zayn, Liam and Quinn had had when everybody went to Doncaster for a day or two and…

Quinn was singing quietly, a little self-conscious and shy. “… each night when I am, alone in the dark, I dream that it’s you, lyin’ here in my arms…”

“What d’you reckon, Niall?” Zayn interjected, and Niall jerked his head around to stare blankly at the boys, the question written clearly on his face. Zayn rolled his eyes as it became apparent Niall hadn’t been listening and started repeating his question, only giving up when it was obvious Niall’s attention was firmly elsewhere. He was distracted from everything at the sound of a soft voice behind him, and it drove him mad that he couldn’t hear every word from her lips.

-[-]-

“So, what are you most excited about?” Harry asked, arm around her shoulder as he ignored the look Xavier was sending his way from three rows down. “New places, screaming fans, hotel food?”

“Neither,” Quinn replied, quite settled between him and Niall as she flicked through the inflight meals, trying to pick just one thing to eat. She did have meatball marinara sandwiches in her bag, though they’d likely be soggy and warm by now.

Harry seemed to be aware that she was almost ignoring him, and didn’t seem to mind.  “Then what?” Harry asked, prompting the conversation along as it seemed Quinn had forgotten about it.

“Oh… the bathroom,” she said vaguely. Harry snickered and she seemed to realise that she’d kept half her answer in her head. Her cheeks flushed and she rolled her eyes at herself. “I mean, having one to myself. Not having to share with Mr more-products-than-me over there.”

Niall snickered to himself and Harry full out laughed, glad to be back on the road and back in her company. Things were too quiet without someone to tease. “Worse than Zayn, then?” Niall said quietly, but apparently not quietly enough as a hand reached between the seats and slapped the back of his head. “Oi!”

“I heard that, Horan,” Zayn called, falling back against the seat he was sharing with Liam and a hyperventilating girl. Well… she had been hyperventilating until Liam talked her down from the edge of oblivion. Bless him. Louis had holed up with Xavier and Tyson, while Ben had decided to sit well away from anyone he knew so he and Nadia could be alone.

“He’s pretty bad,” Quinn admitted, sticking her tongue out when she caught on that Xavier was looking. He made an odd little reverse-clap gesture that clearly meant ‘move apart’ and she rolled her eyes exaggeratedly, shaking her head. “Jealous, Xay?” she called, causing a few heads to turn and Xavier to duck down lest he be caught in the crossfire.

Harry chuckled. “He doesn’t like me doing this,” he guessed correctly, wriggling the arm that was behind Quinn’s head. She shrugged and returned to the menu in her hands, shifting down slightly so she was slouched in her seat.

“The important thing, Mr Styles, is that I don’t mind,” Quinn murmured, absorbed in finding the perfect inflight meal since she was rarely on a plane long enough to warrant one. Everybody always said airplane food was good, albeit costly. Why not live the life?

Hours later, Quinn had fallen asleep on Niall. Harry had taken his arm back as she leaned further and further towards Niall, first to share the menu, then to hear his music better and finally to fall asleep. Niall wasn’t awake to notice that last part; though he later woke up with a numb arm and Quinn still snuggled into his side. Not long after he moved, Quinn also woke up. She couldn’t fight the blush rising on her cheeks and dropped Niall’s gaze, excusing herself to head to the loo with a muttered few words. On her way back, she kept walking to Xavier’s row and knelt beside his seat.

“Can I swap with one of you?” she asked casually, giving Louis in particular a pointed look. He groaned and shuffled, mumbling something about being too comfortable and Tyson grunted to tell her to tick off. Quinn bit her lip and closed her eyes briefly, praying for strength. “Please, Louis?” she said frantically, glancing over to Harry and Niall, both of whom still looked half asleep. Niall didn’t even glance her way and if he did, he’d assume she was chatting to Xavier. Louis followed her gaze with a small frown but got up anyway, relinquishing his window seat so she could climb over Xavier and Tyson to claim it. Both boys groaned and moaned that she’d stepped on things that weren’t meant to be stepped on. “Oh, shut up, bloody pair of girls,” Quinn sighed, smiling. She glanced up at Louis and her expression softened as she nodded. “Thanks for this.”

Louis smiled back. “No problem, love,” and headed off. He made it two steps before backing up and squatting down, blocking the aisle, to talk without being overhead. “Quinn… were they alright to you?” he asked, concerned. Xavier abruptly looked panicked, as if the thought hadn’t crossed his mind, and he fixed his sister with a hard stare.

“They’re fine, Louis,” Quinn replied quickly, shaking her head at his worries. “It’s just… people see me like that with them, they’re gonna talk, y’know? I’d like to be known as a Scoundrel’s sister and not…”

“Not?” Louis prompted when she faded out, her cheeks turning pink as her ears twitched.

“Not anything else,” she answered. Louis caught onto her meaning and gave her a sorry smile, but relinquished his place on the floor to shuffle over Harry and claim the middle seat. Quinn, peering through the seats, saw both Niall and Harry look her way and quickly ducked down, resting her head against the window. She’d seen the media, how cruel it could be. What would people say if they saw her so cosy with Niall- and Harry- so soon after meeting them? Moreover; she was still hurting after Evan. The labels flew through her head, and the frightening possibility of publicity scared her to the core. She was no media darling; there was no way she could handle that pressure. She’d mess up for sure. Quinn knew, deep down, that she was not the kind of girl One Direction should be seen with. She just wasn’t… right.

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