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.


18. Chapter 16

The next morning we packed my car with CD’s and a shitload of junkfood. I drove first, and we agreed that we would switch when we’d passed Birmingham. By the time we were outside of London, we were both screaming at the top of our lungs to ‘+’ by Ed Sheeran. I knew that Jas was a fan, and I made a mental note to introduce her someday. ‘Drunk’ was playing while we were past Greenford, and even though we could both sing, we sounded terrible. The nagging memories of yesterday were still tugging at my thoughts, but just for this moment, I didn’t let them take over. I wanted to enjoy this car ride with Jas. With my best friend. I looked over at her dancing in her seat, looking like a runaway from the mental institution and smiled. I just watched her out of the corner of my eye for a moment.
When ‘+’ had finished I turned to Jas for a second with a question I’d wanted to ask for a while.
“Have you been back since you and James left?”
“In Holmes Chapel?” I nodded.
“Once. For the trial. James and I stayed at the house.” She replied with a sudden somber look in her eyes.
“How did it happen?”
She sighed lightly and looked out the window while she wrapped her arms around her legs and put them on the seat.
“The day we turned eighteen. We’d packed the day before, and we ran out with our clothes, our personal stuff and all the money we’d earned at work. They were both asleep, hungover from the night before. I snuck inside their room and stole their wallets. We went to the bank first and got all the cash we could. Then we drove back and left their wallets in the living room so they’d think we were just in school.
“We took the train to London and stayed with our cousin for a few days. Then we found the apartment. James got a job as a football coach and I started working at the pub. We met new people, we started new lives.”
“So you did have other friends?” I asked. “Why did you let your social life slip then? Why didn’t they come to help you out?”
“They were mostly James’s friends. And all of them were guys, so after they’d hit on me and I’d rejected they lost interest.”

Jasmin’s POV

Harry’s question got me thinking of every single person I’d met since James and I fled Holmes Chapel. Charlie, Janey, Kristian, Maria. I stopped at Maria.
I walked past the little benches at the side of the football court to find James. I needed to tell him about the trip we’d have to make homeward soon. If you could really call Holmes Chapel home anymore.
He’d gathered all of the little girls and boys in a semi circle around him, and he was explaining something about asking their parents for money to buy some team t-shirts for a match next weekend.
He spotted me at the benches and waved me over. Every single little head turned around to watch me, and I smiled and waved at them.
“Hi Miss Smith.” They chorused. I smiled and waved at them.
“Hi kids. James, I need a word.” I said and looked at him. He nodded and told the kids to go run a few rounds on the court for warm-ups. I knew that he was a good but tough coach, and he coached to win.
“What is it?” He asked with worried eyes and sat down on the front bench.
“I got a call.”
“We have to go back to Holmes Chapel for the trial. I tried talking them out of it, but there’s no way out.” I sighed. I noticed him studying my face, and finding exactly what he was looking for. Only someone who’d known me all my life would be able to see the fear in my eyes.
He stood up and grabbed my upper arms. He rubbed them and looked me in the eyes.
“Don’t be scared Jas. I’ll never let them hurt you ever again. Don’t worry.” He assured me and pulled me in for a hug.
“I just don’t want to be in the same room as them James.”
“I know Jas, I know. It’s gonna be ok though. It’ll all work out, you’ll see.” He said and let go of me. He studied my face for a while, and I’d calmed down some by now.
“Wanna stay for a practice? I can drive you home.”
“Sure. I have some paperwork anyway.” I said and sat down. I pulled out the contract of employment from the pub where I’d just gotten a job. The owner, Charlie, had been exceptionally kind, and given me a full time job. If I could have all the paperwork done by tomorrow, I could start on Monday with the night shift.
Two hours later, the little boys and girls ran past me to their parents. A few of them called out a “bye Miss Smith.” As they passed. Suddenly, a little mop of dark hair ran in the opposite direction of everyone else, and I saw  a girl flinging herself into James’s arms out on the court.
I saw James talking to the little girl. She was crying, and he was placing her on his lap as he sat down on the plastic grass.
“What’s wrong?” I asked when I reached them. “Who is this?”
“This is Maria. She just got some pretty bad news.”
She sobbed into his chest and clung at his shirt.
“Hey Sweetie. I’m Jasmin.” I said gently and put my hand on her back.
“Maria I have to go talk to some parents. I promise you though, I’ll be back in a minute.” James said and put her back on her feet. She nodded and sniffled. He left us with a stroke of her cheek and jogged to catch up with a woman leading a little boy away from the court.
“What happened sweetheart?” I asked and rubbed her arm.
“My brother is…” She couldn’t continue.
“Is he hurt?” I tried.
“He’s dead.” She sobbed and fell to her knees. This little girl, no older than six was breaking down inch by inch.
“I’m so sorry honey. I’m so sorry.” I cooed and hugged her close. I rocked her back and forth. She immediately decided to trust me, and she relaxed against my body and let me comfort her.
“Where is your mother Maria?” James asked. He’d reappeared behind me while Maria was explaining to me what had happened.
“She’s at home. She was asleep when I left.” Little Maria cried and looked up at him.
“Was that smell that I told you about there again?” He asked.
Maria nodded.
“Come on sweetie, we’re taking you back to our place for now.” He said and picked her up. He walked her to our car and sat her in the backseat. He closed the door behind her and turned to me.
“Is she the one you-”
“Yep, that’s her.” He said. James had previously told me of the little girl on his football team whose parents were alcoholics to his knowledge, and possibly worse than that. I knew that she trusted him, and I had waited at various job interviews before because he’d had to drive her home first.
“Can you go sit in the back with her?” James asked. I nodded and got in. Without a word James started driving us back to our new apartment. We’d moved in a month ago.
I sat in the back and held my arm around Maria’s shoulders. She snuggled into me and sniffled every now and then.
“You’re gonna be ok Maria. Don’t worry.” I mumbled into her frizzy mess of a hair.
When James had locked us into the apartment I led Maria to the couch and put her down with a blanket.
“Would you like to watch a film Maria?” I asked sweetly. She nodded. I figured she’d need a little distraction. I put in Nemo and gave her a can of coke.
“Have you eaten today Maria?” James asked. He was leaning on the doorframe to the kitchen, crossed arms and worried eyes. She looked at him and shook her head slightly.
“Jas, could you get her two of those microwave burgers from yesterday?” He asked me when I passed him on my way to the kitchen.

*flashback over*

“What?” I said in a daze.
“You sorta spaced out on me there.” He said and glanced at me from the corner of his eye. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry.”
A silence followed for a while until Harry put on an old Beatles CD. It was a mix he and James had created, so it had all of our favorites on it. I hummed along to Blackbird, Here Comes The Sun, Let it be and Yesterday while I nodded my head slightly and looked out the window.
“I feel like I should warn you, I think mum has the big show ready when we get there. That means banner, cake, drinks everything.” Harry said.
“Really? Oh no!” I groaned and slammed my head into the headrest behind me.
“Kidding Jas.” He replied with that crooked grin on his face. I looked over and smiled at the dimples showing when he did that.
“You really had me fooled.” I said honestly and kicked my shoes off.
Harry’s phone started ringing suddenly.
“Would you answer that? I don’t want to drive and phone at the same time.” He said and adjusted his hands on the steering wheel.
I fished his phone out of his pocket and pressed ‘accept’
“Harry’s phone, this is Jasmin.” I said.
“Yeah, it’s Louis. Hi… Can I ask you something?” Louis said, sounding surprised.
“Sure?” I said.
“Why are you answering Harry’s phone? Because one gets a lot of funny pictures in his head when I hear your voice instead of his.” He joked.
“Way to make a first impression.” I snorted. “He’s driving.”
“So it’s Louis.” Harry chuckled, guessing from the short bits of conversation he’d heard.
“I’m sure Harry already told you the worst of the stories he has on me, so I didn’t really bother with trying.”
“No actually, I’ve only heard good things, so you just ruined that for yourself.” I chuckled.
“Well, whatever good things he’s been saying, he’s lying.”
“Ah. So was there a reason why you called? Anything he needs to know?” I asked him, since I had yet to find out what he’d called for.
“Yeah, can you ask him if he knows where I put my brain?”
“Liam told me I’d lost it.”
“I see. And now you’re calling rounds to see if anyone knows?”
“Nah, I’m just kidding. Ask him if he remembers what time that radio interview was next week?”
“Just a sec. Harry?”
“Yeah?” He said and turned his head toward me slightly without losing sight of the road.
“Louis wants to know if you remember what time your radio interview is next week?”
“It’s Thursday at five.”
“Thursday at five.” I said to Louis.
“ok thanks. Where are you going by the way?”
“Holmes Chapel, for the weekend.”
“He’s taking you somewhere for the weekend eh?” Louis said, and I could almost hear the smirk and the wiggle of the eyebrows.
“Shut up!” I laughed.
“I’m just joking around. I hope to meet you soon.”
“You too.”
“Ok bye.” He said and hung up. I laughed and shook my head while I put Harry’s phone down.
“I like Louis.” I said and turned to him.
“I’m glad. You and him are my best friends.” He said happily. “It would suck if you hated each other.”
“Well, he might hate me but be a remarkable actor, but I sure like him. He’s funny.”
“That he is.”
For the rest of the car ride we laughed, joked and filled our bodies with all of the crap we’d brought. We finally pulled up at Anne’s house.
I shot out of the car as fast as I could and stretched my back.
“Wow, slow down!” Harry laughed.
“Why?” I asked and jumped a little to loosen up my limbs.
He didn’t answer. The front door was slammed open, and before I could even turn around I was engulfed in Anne’s arms.
“Jasmin! It’s so good to see you! I’ve missed you so much!” She said and pulled me a little tighter. I put my arms on her back and let myself feel like the little girl who’d come running to her, crying whenever her parents had gotten violent again.
“I’ve missed you too. You look so good!” I replied.
“So do you! Come on inside.” She said, and we walked towards the door together.
“Happy to see you too mum!” Harry grinned.
“Sorry baby, hi, welcome home.” She chuckled and walked over to kiss him on the cheek.
“We can bring in the bags later, for now let’s just have a nice cup of tea yeah?” Anne said when we walked into the kitchen. She started boiling water immediately.
“Yeah that sounds good.”
“I told you she’d be happy to see you.” Harry said and sat down at the kitchen table. He took off his jacket and kicked his shoes off. I did the same and carried it all to the hallway.
“So how have you been Jas. What’s been happening since you and James left?” She asked and sat down at the table with us while the water boiled. A shocked expression flashed across her face, “Oh I’m sorry, I shouldn’’t have mentioned him.” She rambled.
“It’s fine, it’s ok.”
“Sorry. So what has happened?”
“Well, that’s a long story.” I chuckled.
“I have all evening.” She said with a wink.
“I’m gonna go find Robin while you two catch up.” Harry said and left the kitchen.
“Ok. Uhm, well, we found an apartment close to central London, and I started working at a pub. The people there are like family to me, they’re really sweet. I don’t know, what do you want to know?” I said with an awkward laugh.
“I wanna know the details, the people you’ve met, the places you’ve gone, everything! I feel like I should have stayed in touch with you, but you were impossible to find! I didn’t see you again after the trial.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong Anne. I’m sorry, we just felt that we needed to put all of this behind us, not just the bad stuff.”
“I understand sweetheart.” She said kindly and touched my arm. The water was done, and a cup of steaming hot tea was set in front of me.
“Thank you.”
“So, Jas. I want some gossip here, what’s the name of your boyfriend?” She asked with a smirk much alike Harry’s on her face.
I gave an awkward laugh and looked down at the table.
“There’s no boyfriend at the moment Anne.”
The expression on her face was priceless. It was obvious that she simply didn’t believe me.
“You’re lying.”
I shook my head.
“No, Jasmin Smith you lovely girl how is that possible?”
“I guess I’m just not…” I shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not even interested in dating at the moment.” I lied and looked out the window where he was laughing at something with Robin.
“What did you two do when you got to London?” Anne asked, breaking the silence.
“Huh? Oh, uhm… Well, we stayed with a cousin for a little while, and then we rented an apartment as soon as James had a job. He coached a few football teams for kids, and I found work at a pub. You know the rest of the story.” I said to avoid having to talk about my past any more than I already had. It was still an open wound, fresh and sore, and pressing on it would only make the blood flow faster.
“I know it must’ve been hard on you ever since James passed, and I’m sorry I didn’t show up at the funeral. I should have been there. Just know that you’re welcome here anytime darling.” She said and took my hand on the table to give it a gentle squeeze.
“Thank you,” I mouthed to her and squeezed back.
“Why don’t you go unpack, then I’ll get dinner started. Gemma is coming back soon though, so I’m afraid you’re sharing with one of them.” Anne said with an apologetic smile.
“You’re sharing with me.” Harry stated as a fact. I turned around to see him with his arms crossed and his gaze firm on me, like a child willing to scream, kick and spit to get his way.
I gave a nod in agreement. He had a couch in his room that I could use.
“I put your bag in my room already." He said with a sneaky smirk.
"You little sneak." I chuckled and got up. 

Harry's POV
Later that night after a dinner full of laughter and playful conversation and mum and Gemma interrogating Jasmin, we retired to my room. Jas started making a bed on the couch. 
"I assume you're not going to let me sleep on the couch this time either?" I sighed and sat down on the bed.
"You know me too well Edward." She said with a wink.
"I never should have told you guys my middle name." I groaned.
She stopped for a moment and looked at me with an amused expression on her face and a smile tugging at her lips.
"You're right, you really shouldn't have. Come to think of it, it's probably the stupidest thing you ever did with James and I. And that's saying something. Remember that time where we got caught movie-hopping? And you tried to make a run for it and that gorilla guard caught you in the door?" By then, she could no longer control her smile, and it burst out and lit up her face. 
I felt a smile spread on mine as well, and I got stuck in a little time-loop where I just appreciated the beauty of her smile. 
"Harry are you ok? You've been looking at the same spot for a bit too long." She said with a worried voice. I shook my head and flashed a weak smile at her. 
"I'm fine." 
She nodded and finished making the bed on the couch in silence. 
"I'm not really sleepy yet, wanna watch a film or something?" I asked and ran my hand through my hair. 
"Sure. Just not 'Love Actually' again." She chuckled and dug into her bag.
"I'm gonna go change first, you pick one." She said and went to the bathroom with a pile of clothes and her toothbrush. 
I found a movie I knew she'd enjoy. 'Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back'. It was a movie James and her had watched probably somewhere around fifty times. The theme sing and the text flying through space was just starting when she entered the room again, dressed in a football jersey James had used and some tiny shorts. 
"Do I hear Star Wars?" She said looking serious as the grave.
"Yes, you do." 
"You read my mind Haz." She said as she dumped her clothes on top of her bag and plumped down next to me on the bed. We sat back and listened to the genius theme of George Lucas's artwork.
Just after the whole "I am your father- NOOOOO!" Scene with Vader and Skywalker (Luke of course, not Anakin. Anakin is Vader and if you did not know that then shame on you go watch the completed seven star wars movies) I noticed that Jas's breaths had become heavy and steady, and her eyes were closed. I smiled at her sleeping form and gently stroked her cheek with my thumb. She looked so innocent when she slept. So peaceful.
I put a blanket over her and got into a more comfortable position next to her. I fell asleep there as well, and just before I went dead I felt her snuggle into my chest. I smiled and let my eyelids drop.

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