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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21. Chapter 19

So we kind of got dumped by Harry....
After Gemma and I found a TopShop and went on a hunt in there, Harry sort of disappeared.
Which meant that I was completely exposed to being interrogated for the second time by Gemma.

"Smith?" She said casually as she searched through a rack of clothes to find a top in her size. She'd adopted Harry's nickname of 'Smith' pretty quickly.
"Mmhm?" I mumbled and looked up from the pricetag I'd been studying.
"Would you like to explain to me what exactly it was I walked in on this morning?" She challenged with a smug smile.
Still being confused about what exactly had happened, I didn't have an answer. My cheeks heated slowly as a blush crept its way up my face. I looked away and pretended to be very interested in the nearest clothing item which just happened to be a hideous shirt. 
"What do you mean?" I breathed, avoiding her gaze, which I could feel planted on me and analyzing my every move.
"Jas put down that shirt, you know just as well as I do that it didn't even look good on the model." She commanded, and a sudden authority in her voice made me obey and look down at my feet like a six year old who'd just gotten caught with her fingers in the candybowl.
"Good. Now look at me." 
I looked up and saw a teasing smile on her lips. 
"How long has this been going on?" She asked and crossed her arms.
I sighed with defeat and shrugged my shoulders.
"I don't even know what 'this' is. I don't think he does either." 
Gemma chuckled and continued to leaf through the tops on the rack.  
"What's so funny?" 
"Nothing." She replied with that same smug smirk and plucked a top from the rack. She swung it over her shoulder and spun around. With a little giggle she pranced off to the fitting rooms and left me alone with my thoughts.

Later the same day I woke up on the couch after falling asleep due to the early rise Harry and I had that morning. 
"Jas c'mon! I'm bored! Let's go for a walk!" Harry called, sounding like a child. I laughed at him and followed the sound of his voice to the kitchen where he was perched on the counter.
"Where do you wanna go?" I asked him and leaned on the doorway with my arms crossed on my chest.
"I don't know." He sighed. "Just anywhere but here. I'm so bored!" 
"You're like a kid Haz." I chuckled.
"Whatever do you mean?" He asked in a posh voice and pretended to be offended by putting his hand to his chest.
"You need to be entertained constantly." I shrugged and walked to the hallway to put on my coat and shoes. 
"Coming or what?" I called,and he scrambled into the hallway. He pulled on a big grey hoodie and and a pair of converse, and as soon as he'd grabbed his keys, we were out the door. 
It was late autumn by now, and the wind blew cold and merciless, but my thick woolen coat protected me from the chill. We walked along the streets and simply wandered.
"Jas?"
"Yup?"
"Do you have to move out when we get back? Can't you just stay? I don't want you to leave." He asked with a pleading in his voice that sent a jab at my heart. 
"You want me to keep cooking don't you?" I joked and bumped my shoulder into his.
"No." He chuckled. "No I just like having you around. You're a pretty great flatmate." He smiled, and that smile sent another painful ripple through my heart. I looked at his face for a second longer than needed, taking in his... beauty. Though he was now a worldwide famous sexsymbol to many, he was still the beautiful boy I'd been so hopelessly in love with just a few years ago. His curls were blowing around in the wind, as were mine, and his eyes sparkled in the cold sunshine breaking through the tree crowns above us.
 "You don't want me for a flatmate." I sighed and looked away from his pleading green eyes. 
He grabbed my wrist and spun me around. We'd stopped walking, and not knowing what to do with myself, I tucked my hair behind my ear and looked down at his big hand wrapped around my petite wrist. 
"Yes, I do." He said gently. "I do want you for a flatmate. Why wouldn't I?" 
"Harry how long did you date Charlotte?"
"What does she have to do with anything?" He scoffed and dropped my wrist. It felt cold as soon as he let go, and I wrapped my arms around myself to try and heat it. 
"How long?" 
"A year."
"Just by being in your flat I broke a relationship that had lasted a year. And you still want me for a flatmate?" 
"That doesn't matter. Just stay. Please. For me."
I looked into his eyes as he towered so far above me and raised his eyebrows, waiting for my answer.
"I need to think about this Harry." I said and looked down the tree lined road.
We resumed our walk, and soon, a playful conversation was going on again.
We passed by our old school, and we climbed over the fence to go and relive some of the happy moments on the swings.
Three swings made out the old swingset. It hadn't changed much since we were last here, the chains had been oiled and polished, but that was it. 
Harry and I sat down on a swing each, and I knew that we were thinking the same thing. The third swing was empty.

And it would never be occupied again.

Not by the right person. Only by little kids with their whole life laid out before them, but the right person, the one who should be sitting on the swing next to me would never come back.

*flashback*

"We should be studying for that Biology test tomorrow." Harry mused as he rocked back and forth on his swingset, using his feet to move the swing back and forth, but never losing touch with the ground.
"We really should." James agreed.
"Did it yesterday. Have fun boys." I said and stood up from my swing between the two boys. Just as I got to my feet, both my arms were grabbed by the two boys as they held me back. My head rolled back, and I groaned, feeling slightly annoyed.
 "What now guys?" 
"You're not going home on your own Jas. That ass Hawkins might come to finish his business. And you know how they get when you come home early." James explained with a pained look in his eyes. I sighed.
"Guess you're right." 
"So we're not studying for the Bio test together?" Harry asked, sounding very disappointed. 
"Do you honestly think that we'd read anything at all if we did it together?" James laughed. His laugh was loud and contagious, and pretty soon, both Harry and I were laughing with him.
"Why does he always have to be right?" Harry muttered to himself and picked up his bag. Both James and I followed his example and swung our bags over our shoulders, ready to go home.
"Don't forget, my mum's going to kill you if you don't show up for her barbecue tomorrow. I don't know why she has to call it a barbecue, it sounds so bloody American." 
We chuckled at him and started walking off.
"We'll be there. At five right?" James called over his shoulder.
"Yep".
 ***

"He should be here." I whispered. Harry looked away from the empty swing next to me and looked me in the eyes.
"Yes, he should." Harry agreed.
"That is his swing." I stated, directed at no one in particular.
"Do you have something sharp?" Harry asked out of the blue. "Or a lighter?" 
"What?"
"Do you?" 
"I don't know, maybe. I'll check." I said and rummaged through my pockets. I found a nail, don't ask me where I got it, and handed it to him.
Harry took it and went to the third swing, turning the seat upside down and holding it in his hand while he started scratching the plastic with the nail. His tongue stuck out a bit at the corner of his mouth as he focused, and after two minutes, he waved me over. 
"Look." He said. "Now it will always be his swing." He handed the seat to me and stepped back a little.
Freshly engraved in the blue plastic were the words
'Property of James Smith. Rest in peace brother'
"I couldn't think of anything else." Harry said apologetically and scratched the back of his neck. 
Fresh tears sprang up in my eyes, and I dropped the plastic and threw my arms around Harry's neck. 
"Thank you." I whispered. He laughed lightly and picked me up so I didn't have to tiptoe anymore.

We stayed for another five minutes before continuing our walk. The sun had hidden behind a sheen of clouds, and the temperature had dropped, but inside, I felt warm from the gesture Harry had made. 
I glanced down at the charmbracelet and the ring on my hand and smiled while we strode down the small streets of our hometown. I looked up, and suddenly I didn't feel so warm anymore. In fact, my blood felt like ice.
I was standing in front of my parents' house.

***
"Where have you two been?" The cold voice of my father sounded. My head whipped around, and I saw him leaning on the wall, slowly undoing his belt. James and I dropped our backpacks, and James stepped in front of me, trying to shelter me from our father.
"We were at school."
"Until five in the afternoon?"
"So you finally learned to read your watch?" James taunted.
"James." I pleaded. Provoking him would only make the punishment worse later. 
"I'm not stupid!" Father boomed. "You were with that rich kid!" 
"Does it matter? You're gonna beat us anyway." James scoffed. 
That was the final straw. Father grabbed James by the shoulder and pushed him down to the floor. He kicked him and drew back his arm to whip James' exposed back with his belt. 
"Stop!" I screamed and put my arm in the way of the leather strap, wincing at the pain when it collided with the soft skin on my arm. A red mark stretched across the pale flesh, and I brought my other hand to it to try and ease the pain. 
"BASTARD!" James cried out and charged at him. 
Father won, and he threw him back to the ground. He kicked him twice in the ribs and grabbed me by the hair. I was pulled into the bathroom where he locked the door. I screamed. James shouted. Father simply beat the crap out of me.
***

Jas? Jasmin! Jas stay with me!" Harry said and shook me gently. "Jasmin!" 
"Get me out of here." I whispered, my eyes wide with horror. All the pain, physical and mental, flooded my brain, and I could almost feel my ribs cracking and my face bruising again. 
"Let's go." Harry mumbled and gave the house a final hateful glance before grabbing my hand and leading me away. 


"Why do you have to leave already?" Anne complained for the hundredth time the following day while we threw our things in the back of Harry's car. 
"Because we both have jobs mum." Harry explained again.
"Fine." She sighed. 
"Alright, time to say goodbye." Harry announced as he closed the trunk.
"Thank you so so much Anne. It was so good to see you and Gemma again." I said and hugged her.
"You're welcome here anytime Jasmin darling. You always will be."
"Thank you" I whispered and went inside to find Gemma in the kitchen. 
"I'll see you around Smith." She said with a smile and waved me over.
Who knew that I had in in me to actually miss Holmes Chapel?

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