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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36. Chapter 33

Hey guys! Here it is. It's a long one, so I hope it makes up for the long wait! We love you guys!

 

Harry’s POV

It felt like years since I had brought Maria to the Dubliner , though it had only been a week. I’d seen the story begin to brew around the newspapers, and I knew that the first court date was right after Christmas. The 26th. It was closed to the media, and other spectators, so without Jasmin’s permission, I wasn’t going to be able to come.

I’d been shocked to hear that she was filing for custody. I would have thought she would go for visitation rights, while Maria stayed in a foster home, but looking back at he few times Jas had mentioned Maria, her facial expressions, the gleam in her eyes, I saw why she felt like she had to.

The final track of the new album was scheduled to be recorded that week, and I sat glumly at the back of the recording studio, waiting for the sound technicians to come. The others were talking, laughing together. I decided that my man-period had lasted long enough, and that I should at least try to reconnect with them. I felt like I had lost touch with the boys since Jas left. They had tried, and I didn’t blame them for giving up on me. Still, it saddened me to see them laughing about Olly’s latest escapade while they had been out the previous weekend, yet another night where I had failed to meet up with them.

“What’s he done this time?” I asked with an insecure smile as I sat down on the floor next to Louis’ chair. They all looked at me with surprised smiles on their faces and began to explain how Olly had managed to get a drink thrown at his face, while simultaneously flirting with another girl. And as they let me join in their conversation, and hear about their lives again, though the hole inside me didn’t heal, the pain was numbed for a little while.

 

Jasmin’s POV:

 

The magistrate looked at the slideshow of photos from Denny’s flat, presented by the policewoman from the station, with stern expressions, talking among themselves, nodding in agreement, or shaking their heads in disbelief. I had given my side of the story, and Denny had given his. When they asked him why he had placed a restraining order on me in the first place, he’d tried to sugarcoat the story, giving them a lifetime TV movie plot. They hadn’t fallen for it. When they asked for legal reasons, he was at a loss for words, tried to act offended, and I faintly heard the judge comment under her breath how she found it hard to believe that he had gotten it through at all.

I zoned out for a few minutes, looking at Maria, sitting anxiously in her seat, twisting, and biting her thumbnail. She wasn’t allowed to sit with neither me, nor Denny for the trial, and sat at the front with a social worker. I could tell how uncomfortable she was, and my heart went out to her. I simply wanted to take her in my arms and get on back to Kristian’s, but it seemed like they were only just getting started on the evidence material.

I leaned over to the lawyer Charlie had found for me, a woman in her late forties in a crisp suit and perfect makeup. She had been very professional, and very understanding. She nodded at what I said, and stood up.

“Your honour, my client would like to aid this officer in proving that Denny Samuels is not a fit guardian. May she speak?”

The judge nodded and gestured at me with her hand. I stood, and gave Maria an apologetic look before I turned to the judge.

“Thank you, your honour. While we are at the topic of Mr. Samuels’ ability to protect and raise a child, I’d like to recommend checking her stomach. Right below her ribcage. I found these bruises a week ago, but the report from the hospital didn’t seem to make it into the case folder. I have it here should it be needed.” I spoke with confidence. The judge spoke to the social worker, and the woman in her grey suit lifted up Maria’s shirt, to my comfort, gently, nodding at the judge. She had seen the bruises.

The trial came to an end, and the judge decreed that the case was to be taken up during a closed meeting the following Tuesday, and we would be called back to settle the final matters after the new year had started. Until then, Maria was to stay with me, in a flat provided temporarily by the social authorities. I was given an address to show up at with Maria’s and my belongings the following day.

“All rise for Judge Victoria Kamurry!”

We all stood as the judge left the room, and Maria was handed over to me while Denny’s lawyer and a police officer escorted him out while he sent hateful glares and curses my way. I hurried to cover Maria’s ears.

Charlie was waiting for us outside the courtroom to drive us back to Kristian’s. He had been present in the back of the room at my request, and was now greeting us with a happy smile on his face. He hugged us both and ruffled Maria’s hair.

I felt his presence as soon as we stepped outside the building, and when I looked up, sure enough, there was a hoodie clad, sunlight-sheltered young man with a few brown curls sticking out under his hood. I let Maria go with Charlie to pull the car around, as it was parked a few streets away, and walked slowly down the steps to meet him.

“How did it go?” He asked, taking off the sunglasses. His boots were covered in snow, as well as his shoulders, and the top of his head. He had been standing here for a long time.

“It went well.” I said, my voice plain. Though pretty much every single feeling in the world was rushing through me, I found it easier to pretend that I wasn’t feeling anything. “We got your Christmas presents. Thank you.” I said, referring to the giftcards he had sent, 100 pounds for each of us, for H&M. He knew that we would both need clothes, and that Maria was still growing like a puppy, faster than the eye could see.

He shrugged. “It was nothing. I just figured it might make your life a little easier.”

“It did.”

“Jas I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have come here but I just really, really miss you. Can we at least try to be friends again?” He asked, and for a moment, his pain and anguish flashed on his face, breaking any restraint I had left in my body. A tear slid down my cheek, and I sucked my lips in.

“Please? I’m falling apart. I hate not being there for you in all of this. You’re going through a trial over a child! You might become a mother all of a sudden, while you’re only 20 years old, and I hate that I can’t do anything for you. I want to help. I want to be a part of your life again, and I want to be part of Maria’s life as well.”

He had me almost breaking down then and there at Maria. I’d seen him with little children before. Mostly the younger fans, but a few times he had simply offered to hold a child for a mother with her hands full, or randomly started playing footy with a group of little kids in a park. And I myself knew that he wasn’t the only one falling apart. I’d been so busy lately, I hadn’t had the time to think about it a lot, but I lived with a constant dull ache within myself, and I knew that he was the piece that was missing.

“Give me two weeks.” I said, my voice shaky and unsure. “I need to figure out what to do. I might need to take up another job for Maria, and we need to get into a routine together. I have to get her started back up in school. I’ll call you in two weeks with my final decision.”

Charlie honked, and I ran off with an apologetic look over my shoulder.

 

 

Harry’s POV

 

I wasn’t expecting that the call would’ve been from her, or I would’ve answered it immediately. But two weeks hadn’t passed yet, and I was in the studio. I had only felt the phone buzz in my pocket, and didn’t check it until Liam was up for his solo, and I was outside again. I checked my screen, and there it was.

Jas – 1 missed call

I hurried into the hallway to call her back. The phone only rang once before she picked up.

“Harry.” She breathed. By the sound of her voice, I could tell that she had been crying.

“Jas what’s wrong?” I asked urgently. I’d begun pacing the hall in anxiety.

“I don’t know how it happened, she was fine when I left the room and when I came back she was on the floor coughing up blood and-“ She rambled in panic.

“Maria? Are you at a hospital? I she okay?” I asked her.

“No, she’s not, and they’re saying she needs an immediate surgery that I can’t afford and I’m afraid she’s going to be hurt. I just… Haz, I know it’s a lot to ask, and I’m so sorry but I just need you here right now.” She sobbed into the phone.

“I’m on my way.” I said and hung up.

“I have to go.” I mumbled at Niall, grabbing my coat off the back of a chair on my way out the door.

“Where?” He called after me, but I was already gone. I raced my car all the way to the children’s hospital on the other end of town, and barely parked it legally once I got there. When I asked for a Maria at the reception, the lady laughed at me, and said, “Yeah, we got about fifty a those. Do you have her last name?” Her voice was that of a woman who was getting old, and had smoked her lungs away.

“I have the full name of her guardian.” I said, ignoring her rudeness in my rush to get to the girls. “Jasmin Claire Smith.”

She typed a few things into her computer and looked back up at me.

“Unit 5, second floor, room seventy.”

I stormed through the blurred glass doors and took a quick survey of the room, checking that I was in the right place. Sure enough, Jasmin stood up the second she saw me, and fresh tears flowed down her face. I rushed over to where she stood and pulled her into my arms, holding her tightly, and stroking her hair.

“What happened?” I asked, as calmly as I could. She snivelled before she spoke into my shoulder.

“I went to the bathroom and then she began crying so I rushed back out, and she was lying on the floor and there was blood coming up when she coughed. She said her chest hurt, and I called an ambulance. And now they’re telling me that one of her ribs has cracked, and it’s about to puncture something. I don’t know why they didn’t see this before on her X-rays. And they’re saying that they need to operate as quickly as possible and I’ve already said yes. They’re preparing now but there is no way I can pay for this surgery.” She told me, occasionally interrupted by a hiccup.

I moved my hand to her cheek and slid my thumb across her cheekbone.

“Jas, don’t worry about the money. I’ll take care of that, just worry about Maria. Have you been in to see her yet?” I assured her. She shook her head and flopped down on a plastic chair behind her.

“She’s under a sedative now. They say it’s going to take five hours, and then she’ll need another hour to wake up.”

“And then you can take her home?” I asked, pushing a few strands of hair out of her teary eyes. She was a mess. Hair was falling out of the bun on her head, she was still in a uniform from the Dubliner, and the t-shirt was all crumpled up. Her makeup was running down her face, and she had goose bumps all over her arms. I took off my jacket and put it around her.

She nodded. “If all goes well, I can take her home, and then bring her in for a check-up in the morning.” She snivelled. I sat down next to her and put my arm around her shoulder. She immediately turned her head into my shoulder, and I did my best to warm her up by rubbing her arms. We were silent for a while, and her crying reduced itself to a cough now and then.

“Have you eaten at all today?” I asked her. I’d just noticed how she looked way skinnier than what could possibly be healthy, and she seemed so tired whenever I saw her. I began to worry that she was neglecting herself out of stress.

“A few apples this morning.” It was now past 2 in the afternoon, and enough time had passed.

“Come on, we’re getting lunch.” I said and got up. She hesitantly followed me to the cafeteria, looking over her shoulder a lot.

I sat her down at a table in the corner and went to the counter, getting her a can of pop and three chicken wraps.

“Thanks.” She said when I came back, and she tore open one of the wraps, eating slowly.

“So have you found her a new school yet?” I asked, sitting opposite her, leaning forward on my elbows.

“Yeah. Well no. Social Services has found her a school. It’s really nice, close to the flat they’ve set me up in. And they’re supporting me with a monthly amount of money, so I haven’t had to take a new job.”

“Good. Great. Is she… I mean, how has she handled starting a new school? It must be a lot for her to deal with on top of everything.” I asked, finding myself worrying about the kid. I had only briefly spoken with her, but she had made such a strong impression, and I both pitied and admired the girl. I wanted to ensure a better future for her.

Jas nodded. “Yeah she’s doing okay. I try to keep her out of the trial stuff, making sure that she doesn’t worry too much. She hangs around the Dubliner with me a lot. The night shifts pay better, so I usually take them and let her hang out. She just sits around and haves dinner from the kitchen, does her homework, draws, that kind of thing.” She smiled a little. “She’s so good at music Haz.” It warmed my heart to hear her call me that again. “The school teaches music, and she’s so good with the piano. She’s already learnt ‘Over Again’.” Jas was so proud of Maria, and I was exited too. I would have something in common with Maria. I could teach her so many things about music.

“What about her footy? Can she play that at school?” I asked. I wanted to keep Jas talking. I missed her voice so much.

“She’s already on their junior team. She kicks butt.” She laughed a little. Two of the wraps were already gone, and the can was popped open. “And her teachers say that she’s not too far behind, even though she’s missed a lot of school.”

“What about you?”

“What about me?” She asks back, and for one second, I can see through her strong façade. She is still suffering in there, but she has pushed all of that aside for the sake of Maria.

“How are you doing with all of this?” I said, reaching forward, taking her hand. She looks up warily at me, and pulls it back with an apologetic smile. Though it stings, I don’t blame her. Last time she trusted me like that, I hurt her, so badly.

“I’m alright. But I’m a second priority right now.”

“You’ll always be my first.” I said, and our eyes met, no longer filled with indifference, and no longer feigning callousness, but instead, we are back to sharing warmth, and care.

 

Jasmin’s POV

 

Maria had recovered quite well, and only minor damage had been made during the surgery. I cheered wildly for her on the indoor court, watching her dribble the ball down, and send it to one of her teammates. It was the first football game of the season, and she was playing like a champ. Most of the other spectators were middle aged mothers, or fathers with beer bellies, but every single one of them was just as into it as I was, and I felt like I was Maria’s biological mother, cheering, hoping for a win for my little girl.

After seeing his concern for Maria that day in the hospital, I had let Harry come back into my life, and hers, without second thought. We were meeting up after this match at his flat for a few drinks and some snacks with the rest of the boys. They were all eager to meet her, and I was convinced that they would spoil her rotten within minutes. She’d enjoy herself.

The buzzer announced the end of the game, and Maria’s team had lost by one goal. She ran to the side lines where I was ready for her, embracing her, telling her how great they were, how well she had played, comforting her, and so forth.

Being a mother.

I waited by the door while she changed, and when she came out again, she looked tired, and a little grumpy from the loss. It was cold outside, and it was a weird season to even be playing football. I’d asked the teacher who was in charge of the team, and he’d said it simply.

“We just can’t afford to rent the fields in the real season. So we play inside while they’re cheap to rent.”

With her hand in mine, and her backpack slung over my shoulder, I brought her onto the bus, and we drove off, downtown.

 

Liam opened the door, and he smiled and welcomed me back with a hug, then kneeled down to be at eyelevel with Maria while he greeted her. She was shy at first, not completely hiding behind me, but staying back there while he shook her hand. We went inside, and Niall got up from the couch to say hi. We kissed each other cheeks briefly, and he said hi to Maria as well while I carried on to say hi to Louis and Zayn. Louis had brought Eleanor, and she greeted me with a hug. I instantly liked her. Perrie was working, and other than Maria and me, Eleanor was the only female present. Maria was currently seated between Louis and Niall, and they were teaching her some game which involved slapping each other’s hands. She was smiling, any trace of grumpiness from the game gone.

I looked around, but Harry was nowhere to be seen. I was just about to ask where he’d gone when I heard a loud exclamation of “SHIT!” from the kitchen. I laughed and went to see what he had ruined this time.

“Whaaaaaaat are you trying to do?” I asked, leaning on the doorframe. He looked over his shoulder with a smile as he manoeuvred a tray of nuts, olives, and other finger foods onto the top of the counter next to what looked like a bowl of dip which had had a bad run in with a faulty tap.

“Shut up and help me.” He laughed, and I pushed off the doorframe with my foot, and began wiping down the counter. He carried in the last few things, and I heard him offer Maria a trip to his fridge, where he had pretty much every kind of pop. She came in and picked out a can of Fanta before going back to the game with Louis and Niall.

I sat down next to Eleanor with a beer in my hand, and pulled my feet up under myself. We turned to each other, and began talking, about her classes at University, about my job, about my job, where I knew Harry from, and I could already feel a great friendship forming. It felt good to talk to another girl my age, and she was so sweet, smiling, and open. We talked for hours, until the clock hit one am, and Maria was out cold on Harry’s lap. The others started to go home, one by one, and soon, Harry and I were alone. He took Maria into one of the bedrooms and put her down, while I had what he described as “another well-deserved drink”. He came back and sat with me on the couch.

“It’s weird coming here but not living here.” I chuckled and took another sip.

“It’s still weird living here without you.” He sighed and looked down. He grabbed his beer bottle form the table and downed the last little swig. I groaned and rolled my head a little to look at him.

“Come on Haz, don’t make me feel more guilty than I already do.”

“I’m sorry. I just wish none of it had happened. And now we’re going to release the new album soon, and then follows a tour, and there’s going to be so much work to do. I’ll hardly even see you guys.” He said sadly. I nudged him with my foot.

“Quit whining. We’ll still be here. I spoke to your mom the other day.” I changed the topic to avoid digging too deep for tonight. I was going to take this slowly, and see where it took us.

“What did she say?”

“She said she’s expecting to see us all three in Holmes Chapel, for a whole weekend within the next month. I was thinking maybe we could leave the Friday after we get the final verdict. That’s a Monday.” I suggested.

“Sounds good. I’m gonna check up on the dates, then I’ll call her.” He agreed.

We sat in a comfortable silence, and my slightly drunken self closed her eyes. I almost drifted off a few times.

“Jas?”

“Mhmmhmmm?” I asked weakly.

“Should I move you to a bed, or are you comfortable sleeping where you are? Because the last bus left seven minutes ago, and I’m in no condition to drive.” He chuckled. I smiled, and said, “I’ll just sleep for a few minutes.” Before I feel into a deep sleep. In the morning, I was woken up by James Jr. Harry had taken care of him since I moved out, and he was still around, though he was no longer a kitten. Maria was absolutely smitten with him, and they played together until the clock had struck 12, and we had to go home.

 

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