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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33. Chapter 30

“She doesn’t live here anymore.” I replied sadly. “Can I help you instead?”

“But… but her address…” the girl spluttered, and I instantly felt the urge to hug her.

“I know. She just moved out 9 days ago. I guess she hasn’t changed it yet.” At this, she broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. I reached out and took her hand.

“I’ll take you to her okay?” I said and walked back into the living room to grab my jacket and my boots off the floor. She followed me down the hall to the elevator, and we rode down in silence, except for the occasional little sob or sniffle from her.

“What’s you name?” I asked her.

“Maria.”

“That’s a pretty one. I’m Harry.” I said, trying to distract her from whatever was upsetting her tot his extent.

“I know who you are. You’re everywhere.” She said. Her red and puffy eyes found mine. “And James talked about you a lot.” She said.

It was like getting hit with a bucket of cold water.

“You knew James?” I asked.

She nodded, and the elevator came to a stop. We walked out to the car, past the reception, and the first thing I did was to turn on the heater. She looked so frail and thin, and she was shaking with cold.

It was the first time since the accident that I’d driven a car. Usually, someone would pick me up, or I’d go on the tube. It was also the first time in a while I’d taken the car to the Dubliner.

We were silent again, for the duration of the car ride. As soon as we stopped, she shot out the car, eager to go find Jas. I went first to the door and pushed it open. It was warm in there, and little fairy light blinked form above the bar, along with the board of Christmas specials and Santa Claus figurines hanging from the ceiling.

“You! Out! You’ve done enough!” Charlie’s voice immediately boomed at me.

“I’m not here to see her. She is.” I defended myself and pointed at Maria. She peeped out underneath my arm.

Something in Charlie’s face softened, and he gave in. “Alright, you can come inside. Shut the door, you’re letting out the warmth.”

The tabled were almost full tonight with football fans, waiting for Manchester United to play Swindontown on the big flat screen that I’d seen up a few times on the back wall. It wasn’t that big of a match, but the Dubliner was the kind of place you’d make any excuse to go to.

Maria stepped around me, but she still kept close to me. I was guessing she’d never been in a place like this before.

“She was still crying a little, and I put a hand on her shoulder in a comforting squeeze.

Suddenly, there was a clatter at the bar, and I looked up to see that Jasmin had dropped her tray. Luckily it was empty.

“Maria!” She breathed and ran to the middle of the room where she fell to her knees as Maria shot into her arms. She clutched her tight and traced an invisible pattern on the little girl’s back.

Seeing Jas like this was painful. Seeing her at all was painful. But at the same time it brought me a twinge of happiness, and I wished that I could stay near her forever. It had never occurred to me before, like it did at that second, how much I honestly loved her. And not in the way I’d thought I did before, like a sister, a best friend who needed protection from the world. This was the kind of loving that made me want to wake up next to her, every day for the rest of my life, and the kind that made want to be the one to make her laugh and feel loved, from now on and to eternity.

She was still holding Maria, on the middle of the floor, between fallen peanuts and chairs. She was asking what had happened, and what Maria needed.

She loosened her grip on Maria and looked at the little girls face. She said something to her and stood up. Her gaze fell on me, and I froze. I wanted nothing more than to take her home with me and keep her there, but I knew that if I was ever going to do that, I would have to work for it.

And thus began my new plan, a plan made from love, and not from the jealousy that had conceived the previous one. I would do whatever I had to do to convince her to come back. I would be whatever she wanted me to be, whatever she needed, until she realized that she belonged with me.

Jasmin’s POV

 

“Maria!” I gasped when I saw the little girl on the floor, crying, like I hadn’t seen her cry since I met her. She was cold, and her clothes were wet with melted snow. I fell to my knees, and she slammed into me, allowing me to enclose her in a fierce hug.

“I’ve missed you.” I whispered. “What’s wrong darling?” My fingers began to move on her back, tracing a pattern into her skin. I felt her sob against me, and I heard a sniffle.

“Uncle Denny kicked me out. And he has all of my things. He has my bear, and my clothes.” She cried into my shoulder. I gripped her a little tighter and kissed her hair.

“It’s okay sweetheart. It’s okay. We’ll get your things back.” I cooed into her ear. James and I had gotten restraining orders after the case of guardianship over Maria had passed through. She’d been staying with her uncle ever since, and he had filed them. We hadn’t been able to go see her since. He’d even taken her off the football team.

“Why did he kick you out?” I asked her and loosened my grip. I took hold of both her upper arms and looked her in the eyes, gravely.

“I don’t know.” She said and shook her head, making her little curls fly and stick to her wet cheeks. “He just shouted and pushed me out the door.”

“Okay. Okay. It wasn’t your fault. It’s not your fault darling.” I said, sensing an upcoming fit of tears. “What do you need me to do right now?” I asked.

“I want to sleep. And I want my bear.” She said and wiped at her eyes. I nodded and stroked her hair. “I’ll get you your bear back. I’ll get your things.” I waved Charlie over, and he sauntered there and crouched down.

“This is Charlie. He’s going to look after you for a few minutes.” I explained to her. “I’ll be right back.”

I stood up and looked at the door. I’d known he was there for a while, I could feel his stare, but Maria came first.

I nodded at the door, and he nodded, understanding that I wanted to talk outside. I grabbed James’ old leather coat from the rack at the door. I’d been using it lately, using a lot of his clothes in fact. When I lived with Harry I’d only used them when they were convenient, and I had expanded the more girly side of my wardrobe quite a lot. But now that I no longer got the feeling of being protected from living with Harry, I’d taken to the safety of my brother’s smell. It was still wound into the fabric.

We walked outside, and I breathed out in a puff of white. I closed the zipper on my coat and crossed my arms over my chest.

“Thank you for bringing her. Did she show up at your place?” I said, stopping myself form saying ‘our place’. It was no longer home to me, I reminded myself.

He nodded. “She just came and asked for you. And she was breaking down, so I took her here. That’s all there is to the story.” His eyes were gentle, and filled with a glimmer of something I couldn’t quite pinpoint.

“Well then. Goodnight Harry.” I said and turned around. It was too damn painful seeing him when I’d already said my goodbyes. I missed him like crazy, but… and there were always all of the buts to it. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. I mustn’t.

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say to me?” He asked when I was halfway through the door. I sighed and paused, shutting it again to keep in the heat.

“What more do you want me to say?” I asked with a small shrug of my shoulders.

“Maybe you don’t have anything else to say.” He began. “But I do.”

“I don’t have the strength for this Harry.”

“Please.” He cut me off. “Please Jas.”

“I have to go take care of Maria. I can’t. I’m sorry.” I said and went back inside. I took off the coat and went to the bar where Charlie had perched Maria on the counter with a cup of hot chocolate and a sandwich from the kitchen. I stood in front of her and pushed a stray curl away from her face with a gentle smile. She leaned her head into my hand, and I ran it through her curly hair. She looked like James and I, so much in fact that people had mistaken her for our sister when we’d taken her grocery shopping and such when she’d come to us. We even had the same eyes.

“Jas.” Charlie called, and I turned around. He was getting ready to clear some tables, but he paused to talk to me for a bit. We walked away from Maria so she wouldn’t have to worry more than she already did.

“I don’t have the room to house her as well love. What are you going to do?” he said, referring to where Maria was going to sleep tonight.

I sighed. “I don’t know. I’ll come get my bag from your place first, and then I guess I’ll take her to a hotel or something.”

“You could stay with me.” Kristian suddenly said from behind me. I whirled around, surprised, holding a hand to my beating heart. I hadn’t heard him standing there.

“It’s okay. I can manage.” I said. “But thank you.”

“Really, it’s alright. I have plenty of room.” He offered.

“Are you sure? Maria has nightmares; she wakes up screaming and kicking. We wouldn’t want to keep you awake.”

“It’s fine. My shift tomorrow is a late one. This shift ends in a few hours. We can take my car.” He said. “Swing by Charlie’s first and get your stuff.”

“Thank you. So much.” I sighed with relief and gave him a quick hug. “Can I ask you another favor?”

“Anything.” He replied, and I honestly think he meant it.

“Do you have a friend or two who can look big and threatening tomorrow so that we can get inside and get back Maria’s stuff? Her uncle threw her out without letting her pack.”

He nodded. “I know some guys. Tomorrow morning yeah?”

“That’s perfect. Thank you.” I smiled. He got another hug, and I went back to Maria. She had taken off her wet coat, and the red fabric was now lying across the counter.

“Well get back your things tomorrow darling.” I said with a smile. She nodded, and sniffed again. I reached out and got her a tissue.

I was able to work the rest of my shift normally, with only two drunken hooligans attempting to grab me. They were very unhappy by the time the game ended since they were all Manchester fans, and Swindontown won. Good, I thought. For once somebody else got to win.

By the end of the shift, way past Maria’s bedtime, she was feeling happy enough to help me clear my tables. Sure, she got in my way more than she helped me, but she was glad to be of use to me, and doing it together was nice.

Kristian called for me when our shift ended, and I explained to Maria how we were going to spend the night at his flat, and then get her things in the morning. I’d then take her to the police station, and I would file for guardianship over her, since her uncle had shown obvious evidence of incapability.

The colored lights from the streets shone on Maria’s face as she fell asleep on the backseat of Kristian’s car. We let her sleep while I went inside and gathered my things. I’d only brought one duffel bag when I went to stay at Charlie’s. The rest of my things were locked up safely in a storage room at the Dubliner.

Kristian carried my bag, and I carried Maria. She was so small, an elfin creature of little weight. I easily got her to the couch. Kristian laid a blanket over her, and we left her there with the door to his kitchen open just a crack so that I would hear if she was having nightmares.

Kristian made tea, and we sat down at his kitchen table.

“So what’s the story here? Is she family? You look alike.” He questioned as he poured the tea into a pair of huge mugs.

“No. James coached her on his football team. And he found out about her parents. Her story is almost the same as mine in fact. Her twin brother died, her parents were abusive, drank, possibly drug addicts. She’d show up at our place sometimes, and we’d just bring her along in whatever we were doing. She needed a safehouse to go to. And then James filed a case against the parents when she came to training one day with a bruise on her stomach that was bigger than her own head. Her uncle got custody, and he filed for a restraining order against us for some reason.” I told the whole story.

“What are you going to do?” He asked me. I’d planned it all out in my head while I watched Maria clear a table from the bar.

“I’m going to take her to the police station tomorrow. And I’m going to tell then the whole story. And then I’m going to try and get custody over her. She needs to live with someone who truly cares about her. Someone who will take care of her, no matter what. With a little financial support from the government, I can get by. She could go to a public school near the pub, I could find a new place to live. I could even finish my degree and get a better job.”

“That’s very brave of you. “And very kind. But you’re giving up your whole life for one little girl Jas. And you’re so young. Do you really want to be a parent? Do you want to deal with school papers and fevers and homework and all of that?”

I felt a pit of ice grown in the bottom of my stomach.

“Maybe I don’t. But she needs me. I’m all she has now. I’m not going to let her get sent off to some orphanage or foster family. Those places have horrible reputations. If I’m the only one who can giver her the life she deserves then so be it.” I bristled; surprised by the lack of support I was getting from him. He’d always been my friend, and he’d never disagreed with me on anything this major.

“But is it worth throwing your own chances away for?” He asked. I downed the rest of my tea and stood up.

“She’s worth even more than that.” And with that, I went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.

 

 

Hi guys! So I'm sorry it's taken me so long. but I hope these two chapters satisfied you for now, because I'm going on project week in China to teach Naxi children English, so I'll be without wifi somewhere in the Yunnan province. So for now, I won't even be able to talk to the other author. Therefore, I hope this compensates, and will entertain you for now. I'm working on the next one already. -Marie

 

P.S. hope you liked the plot twist!

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