My Brother's Best Friend

Jasmin Smith is no one special to the eyes of the public. A normal pretty barmaid at a pub, a talent for singing and a flat in London. But not too long ago, Jasmin received some horrible news. Her twin brother, her other half, James has passed on, and she is now alone.
Jasmin and James are originally from Holmes Chapel, and James's best friend was no other than Harry Styles. The two boys lost touch when Harry started getting whirled around in the famous life, but even after all the time that has passed, Harry is devastated at the news of James passing away. When he and Jasmin meet by chance, he makes it his mission to help her recover after the great loss she has suffered, and perhaps recover himself with her help. He feels it is his duty towards James to protect and shelter her, but never did he expect that those feelings should grow much stronger than that.

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14. Chapter 13

The bell rang as I was wiping down the counter because Janey had dropped the bottle of créme cassis. I looked up to see who had opened the door and saw Harry's beanie-clad head look around for me. I waved at him and threw the rag into the sink. He went over and sat down on a bar stool in front of me.
"Hey gorgeous." He smiled and tapped his hands on the counter in front of him.
"Hey handsome." I laughed and got out a bottle of water for myself. 
"What did you do with James when you left today?" Was the first thing he asked.
"The neighbor used to have a cat, so I left James Jr. with her."
"It's like having a little kid isn't it?" He breathed. I smiled in response and bent down to pick up a slice of lemon that someone must've dropped earlier. I turned around to throw it out and turned back around to find Harry staring at me.
"Are we gonna talk about the eviction or are we gonna ignore it?" He asked seriously.
I sighed. "What's there to talk about?"
"Where are you going to stay until you find something?" 
"I don't know, I guess I'll find some cheap hotel or something." I already knew where this was going. He was going to offer me his couch, but how could I say yes to that? There were so many reasons to say no.
"Jasmin Claire Smith, you are not going to waste the money you need to buy a new place on a hotel room." He said and shook his head.
"Well where else can I go?"
"My couch?" See? I told you.
"Harry no. I can't do that. I won't cause you any more trouble. Your little "Charlotte doesn't hate you" act isn't working. She'd be furious. And you love her, I can tell." I said and started wiping glasses to avoid having to look him in the eye.
"But-"
"No. Thank you Haz, but no."
"There's nothing I can say?"
"Nothing."
"Well can I at least help you find a place then?" He asked with that innocent and terribly cute voice.
"Ok, I can agree to that." I sighed and smiled at him.
"Awesome. I have something else to ask you."
"Yeah? What is it?" I asked and put the glasses away.
"You know how my mum always thought of you as her second daughter?" He smiled.
"Yeah?"
"She wanted me to bring you home to Holmes Chapel for the weekend if you didn't have plans."
I avoided eye contact again, since I was desperately trying to sort out my thoughts. Holmes Chapel held a lot of bad memories, from school and from mum and dad, but at the same time, I missed Anne. 
"Well?" Harry asked.
"Well what?" I asked, trying to play dumb.
"Do you have any shifts?" 
"I don't think so."
"Then what's the holdup?" He wondered.
"Harry," I groaned. "You know I love your mum, but Holmes Chapel just holds so many memories. I don't know if I can do it."
"Please Jas, I'll be right there to support you. I have your back. And if any of the old deadbeats who never left come by, I'm ready to kick some ass and get some bad attention in the press." He said and took my hand over the counter.
"I don't know Harry... It just doesn't feel right."
"Please? You will make mum's day."
I looked at his face, and that turned out to be a big mistake. His big green orbs were the perfect puppy eyes, and I couldn't make myself say no.
"Fine." I groaned. 
"Yes!" He exclaimed and ran around the counter. He threw his arms around my waist and hugged me tighter than ever before.
"You're not supposed to be on this side of the counter." I giggled in his ear.
"I don't care."
"So when do we leave?"
"Well, this Friday, I'm thinking whenever you're done with work?"
"Ok, I'll just leave a bag here." I said. He let go of me and went back to his stool while I fixed the usual drink for one of the regulars.
"Here you go Bernie. Should I just put it on your tab?" I smiled sweetly at the old man.
"Yeah thanks Jas." He smiled and grabbed the glass.
"Do you want anything Styles?" I mocked when I returned.
"Sure," He replied. "It's past noon, so a beer." He laughed softly. I smiled again at his laugh and poured him his beer.
After a while he spoke up again.
"Jas?"
"Yep?" I popped.
"Why won't you stay on my couch? Have I done something or..?"
"No Harry, for God's sake no! It's just that I don't want to cause you any trouble." I said and touched his bicep. Did I mention how big those bad-boys are? They're huge!
"You won't be! Jas just please! I want to help. Just let me protect you." He begged.
For the fourth time today, I groaned and looked at him.
"Haz why do you insist on doing this to me?" I whined.
"Because you're James's sister. You need protection. You're a fragile thing, and I have to make sure no one breaks you." He explained.
"That is... so weird, but sweet at the same time." I laughed.
"Sweet enough to make you agree?" He tried, batting those eyelashes like a girl.
"Fine! But only for a week at most!" I gave in and pointed a finger at his face. "But then you have to promise that I do the cooking, cleaning, washing and kitty caring." I demanded as I listed the things and held up a finger for each.
"Jas you don't have to do any of those things! Except maybe the kitty care, I didn't know what to do with him before, and I don't know now." 
"Harold, NO." I scolded.
"Fine." He sighed.



Two days later, the boxes filled with my belongings were being unloaded from the trunk of my car. Both Harry and I were dressed in comfortable lumberjack shirts and jeans. My hair was in a messy bun with strands falling everywhere and framing my face. The shirt I was wearing used to belong to James, so it smelled like him, and I couldn't help but feel like he was there and that he approved of this change. I wore a lot of his clothes these days. They all smelt like him, like pine needles and cinnamon.
It had turned out when we packed my apartment down that I owned my fair share of crap that I wasn't willing to get rid of. For example, I had two whole binders filled with tickets and receipts from places James had taken me. Also, there was a whole box filled with his clothes, which I should really give to Harry, but I couldn't make myself do it. It seemed like sacrilege somehow.
We laughed and messed around as we carried up my stuff to his apartment. It was a loft, so we had to use the elevator for it. 
When the last box was finally situated in the little guest room in Harry's apartment where it turned out I would be sleeping instead of on the couch, we both exhaled heavily and sat down on a box each. It was a narrow room with just enough room for a twin bed, a small dresser with a little mirror hanging over it and a tiny nightstand. We'd pushed as many of the boxes as we could under the bed, but the floor was still dotted with them. 
Harry laughed and reached his hand forward. I did the same, and we merged our fingers and held them there for a little while and smiled at each other with our arms stretched across the distance. I was struck by how genuinely sweet and purely friendly the moment was.
We let go and went out of the room.
"So, let me show you around the place." He said.
"It's smaller than I expected. You'd think that now that you're an international celebrity you'd buy a mansion or something, but no." I joked and bumped into him from the side. He smiled and looked at the floor.
"I know, but it's just me. I don't need that much space."
"That's very... down to earth. I admire that." I complimented.
"Thanks. Anyway, this is the kitchen, in there is a small dining room. But I never use it, I just eat on the couch. This is the bathroom, I'm afraid there's only one, so we have to share it, but I cleared some shelves for you in the cabinet. My room is over there," He pointed at a door on the far side of the living room where you entered when you came in. "And this is the living room." He finished.
"Ok. Thanks Haz." I said and spun around myself to see it all. The furniture was a little worn down and looked like stuff his mum had picked out for him, but I liked it.
"Anyway, you do whatever you want, I have to go shopping. Charlotte's birthday is coming up."
"Yeah? Do you need help picking something out?" I asked. He frowned lightly and stared off in the room.
"I hadn't thought of that. Asking for help. I have no idea what to get for her. Yes please." He chuckled.

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