~Zayn Malik POV
I couldn’t believe it. I had actually made it far in the competition, and things had gone so fast the final week was already upon us. Although auditioning as a solo male artist, I had ended up placed into the groups category with a few of the other guys, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson. We’d formed a group called One Direction, and we hadn’t looked back since. The guys were so outgoing and kind. Each had their own personality but we all got on great and worked well as a team. Louis was the leader, Niall was the funny one, Liam was smart and quiet, and Harry was just… Harry. He’s hard to explain…
As finals week was approaching, it was time for all of us to make our homecoming visits before the final show. I was excited. Not only did I get to introduce the boys to my parents, I also got to see my little sister.
Natalie Malik is only thirteen. She’s sweet, cute, and my pride. I may be a little too protective of her, but she’s younger than me so I feel like I have to look after her like any older brother should. I knew she liked all of the boys that I’ve been placed with; I kept in touch with her quite often while we were in the house. She’s like a lifeline to me; we’re very close.
I guess people would find her attractive. She’s petite, but well endowed for her age. Like me, she has brown almost black hair, but hers is longer and straighter and falls just past her shoulders. She’s got the same colour eyes to me, so much so that we could almost pass as identical if I were a few years younger. She’s outgoing and smart, crazy like Louis but she knows when to be serious.
“Welcome back, Zayn!” I heard her sweet voice.
“Vas happenin’?” I asked her, pulling her into a massive hug. “I missed you Nat.” She smiled at me and waved to the other boys. Of course, I had run straight out of the van the second it reached our driveway, so happy and grateful to be able to see my family again once more so they could wish me luck.
“Hi. You must be the guys I hear so much about. Nice to meet you all!” Natalie led us all inside, taking us into the living room. The table was set up for the six of us, plus my mother and father.
“Ah, there’s my boy,” my dad pulled me into a hug. “Nice to see my little pop star again.”
“Dad, you’re embarrassing me!” I groaned at him. Natalie laughed.
“We’ve missed you Zayn! It’s so dull without you around!”
Natalie Malik POV
Finally, the day had come when I could finally see my big brother again. I missed him so much, and I watched the show like a religion. But it could very easily get awkward, this little get together. Thing is, I have a massive fangirl crush on Niall Horan. I admitted this to Zayn a while back, but he wasn’t happy about it. He thinks I should like Harry better, but I’m not sure. Harry seems a little strange for me. Niall’s sweet, kind, always happy. I’ve watched the video diaries they put up every week, and in each and every single one he’s smiling.
Niall is very attractive. He’s blonde with the most stunning blue eyes I’ve seen. He’s also the youngest of the group, only sixteen years old when he first auditioned. That was a few weeks back now. I know this probably sounds stupid, but I want so much for him to return my feelings. Yes, I realize that half of Great Britain has fallen in love with the boy, but all I wish is for me to be the one for him. I want to share with him the happiness that he often shares with others.
But I can’t get past Zayn. Zayn’s overprotective even at the best of times. I appreciate him worrying for me, but sometimes I just feel he needs to give me the opportunity to do things for myself.
Niall Horan POV
Zayn did mention once that he had a little sister, but I wasn’t expecting someone as attractive to greet us as the girl that was sitting across from me at the table. She was perfect. Polite, sweet, outgoing, a lot louder than Zayn himself. She’s cute, and she’s got a very nice personality, the things I crave for in a girl. But I’m not sure what Zayn would do if I went out with her… I looked across at her.
“So Natalie, what year are you in?” I asked. She chuckled.
“I’m in year eight, actually. I got put in early,” she explained, running her butter knife through a bread roll daintily. “I’m one of the youngest in my class, but I had to be accelerated.”
“Yes, all because of my amazing tutoring!” Zayn commented loudly. She growled at him.
“Nah, Zayn. I believe I’m just naturally smarter than you.” He smirked at her.
“Oh really? Says who?”
“Mrs. Johnson. Remember her?” Zayn mumbled something unintelligible under his breath.
“I hated that teacher…”
We ate the rest of the meal in relative silence. Zayn’s parents were constantly asking us all questions and stacking pile after pile of food on our plates. Once they found us full enough, we all went outside. The sun was beginning to set, casting a crimson light over the horizon that peeped between the trees that littered the boundary of Zayn’s garden.
“Well, lets get the bonfire going!” Natalie called happily, sticking a pile of logs in a rocky hole that sat in the middle of the yard. She pulled a few chairs over and motioned for us to sit down. Zayn’s father tossed a match into the pile, and before too long flames licked and danced the afternoon air, casting a light glow on our surrounds.
“You kids have fun,” he told us, before retiring inside. Zayn took a seat next to Natalie and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her into his chest protectively.
“So, tell me about all of you. Louis, you really like a girl who likes carrots? Very interesting. And Harry, apparently you have a naked problem!” she giggled, talking to everyone happily. I wondered whether or not to join into the conversation; I wasn’t sure if I’d embarrass myself in front of her. But she kept tossing me sideways glances.
“Niall, you’re from Ireland. What’s it like over there? I bet its green.” I nodded, blushing.
“Its quiet in Ireland… and very green.” Zayn gave me a questioning glance. Of course he noticed I was quieter than usual. Zayn’s smart like Liam, and he reads the situation well with his analytical, dark eyes.
“Well, I think I’ll go get the marshmallows. Niall, do you want to help me out?” Zayn asked, standing up. I nodded. That was definitely the cue for a much needed conversation.
Zayn Malik POV
I saw the way he looked at her. Perhaps he really liked her… but I couldn’t allow that. If he has to move back to Ireland after the competition, I don’t want to see my sister with a broken heart. Sure, it would be short, but I didn’t want her stuck in a long-term relationship with someone.
I don’t have anything against Niall, I only want what’s best for Natalie.
“Niall, why are you looking at my sister like that?” I asked angrily. He gave an audible sigh.
“Well, Zayn. Your sister is very pretty. Plus, I think she’s sweet.” He nodded in understanding.
“I don’t want to see her hurt, Niall. So leave her be,” I told him. “I hope you understand. I’d prefer her with someone else…” Niall glanced quizzically at me.
“Who would you rather her be with?” He asked. I shrugged.
“She’s young. I want her with someone that can be a little more serious. Perhaps Harry?”
Niall glared at me.
“And what does she want?” he asked me pointedly. I shook my head.
“Well, from the phone calls, she’s told me that you are actually her favourite… She’s developed an attachment to you.” Niall scowled at me.
“Zayn, I think you’re being a little too strong with this. Why don’t you let her decide for herself?” I growled.
“So, you’re trying to tell me where my place is as a brother, are you?” I asked. He nodded.
“Yes, yes I am. I don’t want trouble Zayn, you know that. But I think you should give her a little more freedom. She could choose Harry, I don’t care. Like you, I only wish what's best for her. You know all I want is to see other people happy.” I thought for a moment. Niall did sound genuine.
“I’ll give you a chance.” I conceded, holding a hand up. “But on one condition. You break her heart, and you have to answer to me.”
“Deal.” We both shook hands and headed out to join the others.
Natalie Malik POV
The other guys from One Direction were as funny and as charming as you find all over the television screen; Louis is so eccentric and outspoken that you wouldn’t believe he’s actually a really shy person when he first meets someone. Liam is serious, but likeable in his own way. Harry of course is the lady’s man of the group, with a funny, toothy smile that could set a girl’s heart aflame. But then there’s Niall. Actually, he’s been kind of quiet, more so than I usually see him. I wonder if he’s just more nervous around girls. Perhaps… but that doesn’t explain why he was so enthusiastic and loud up on stage.
Perhaps there’s a little more to Niall than meets the eye…
My thoughts were cut short as Zayn took a seat back down next to me, passing a bag of marshmallows and skewers around to the boys.
“Lets toast some marshmallows!” he announced, pulling me closer to him. Niall returned to his seat, smiling at me. Something had happened, and I was going to find out what.
“Yes, a toast to good fortune!” he said, motioning to the group. “To a win for us on the X Factor, and for luck in whatever future comes our way!” I jumped up out of Zayn’s arms and circled the group, giving each of the boys a supportive squeeze.
“Yeah, I agree. Best wishes to all of you. You’re all amazing guys with great voices. I’m sure you’ll win, but here’s to all the luck you’ll need.” I stuck a skewer into the fire, the marshmallow burning and melting away at the other end.
Soon, I found the boys all leaving to head inside one by one as the embers of the fire began to die down. Zayn must be showing them the house or his video game collection or something. I had hardly realized that all that was left outside was me and Niall.
“Niall, you’ve been quiet today. Is anything the matter?” I asked kindly. He gave me his usual warm smile, his brilliant eyes glittering as they refracted the light from the fire.
“No, nothing’s wrong, Natalie. Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” I nodded my head.
“Well, I know we’ve only just met for a short time but… I was wondering if you, uh, wanted to go out sometime?” I blushed wildly but nodded to him.
“So that’s what you and Zayn were discussing inside?” he nodded. “You actually got past my brother? Wow Niall, that’s a pretty big achievement. Zayn’s a little too protective of me, because I’ve always been his baby sister. But I know he only wants what’s best.” Niall nodded.
“As do I.” He pressed his lips gently on my cheek. “You're a sweet girl, and I promise not to hurt you. You can set the limits. I don’t want to scare or hurt you in any way. Plus, I’d probably be killed by Zayn if I did.” He said the last part jokingly. I couldn’t help but giggle a little.
“Yeah, probably.” I agreed. “You know, Niall, you have a really cute accent.” He smiled at me.
“Well, you’re just really cute.”
After a few minutes we decided to head inside ourselves. We headed up to Zayn’s room, finding all the boys sitting on the carpet sorting through Zayn’s Xbox games. Zayn noticed Niall holding my hand, and gave him a curt nod.
“Look after her.”