Warnings: Bad language, funerals, grief and loss, with a heavy dose of drama, hurt, and a smaller dose of awkward romance. NOT canon, despite following the same timeline of events. Slow burn. Mature themes. Anti-bloodsucker, like always.
Disclaimer: See previous.
A/N: This happened thanks to being asked, "Okay so you've written what it might be like if Jacob rejected an imprint . . . but what if he hadn't?"
(Truthfully, they probably meant something like "What if Jacob hadn't rejected Renesmee?" but, y'know, I have standards. High standards.)
Some chapters may be scenes/settings from both the books and movie!verse (and so will play out differently). There will also be 'missing' scenes. But it'll all have a different ending despite following the same timeline of events. AU from Harry's death in New Moon. It's also changed some since it was first posted, but I think we're set now. I hope you enjoy the changes.
All good? Great.
set me free / leave me be
Sara Bareilles, "Gravity"
In the days since her dad dropped dead on the carpet and her brother ran away, Leah's seen more of Sam than she has in the past year. He is around all the fucking time. Whether she wants him or not, needs him or not — which she most definitely does not — he is there.
And so it shouldn't come as a shock when she sees him sitting at the top of the stairs, but still she wills her heart into a less frantic beat as she closes her mom's door behind her and smothers her unease with a scowl.
"Don't you have anything better to do?"
It's her dad's funeral in less than two hours and they're late. On the other side of the door, Sue is catatonic on her bed — there's no other word for it, although at least she's been dressed for today. But struggling with her mom means Leah's not had a chance to pull a brush through her hair yet, let alone find a change of clothes. And Seth's not even here. If he was, he would have been sent downstairs an hour ago to clear the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom. It doesn't matter that Leah has done it three times over already when she couldn't sleep last night. The whole reservation is going to be here, probably half of Neah Bay on top of that.
Hell. She hopes some of them will bring food because she's not cooked a thing (that's what people do when this shit happens — right? It's what they did for Mrs. Black), but there's not enough cutlery and there's no beer or wine or soda. There's not enough chairs. Where is everyone going to sit when they're dying of thirst and hunger? At a wake?
"I'm here to help, Lee."
Leah pulls a face at her old name, tries not to wince. "You're not helping, you're just in the way," she tells him, but she sounds more resigned than spiteful. And she hates it.
Sam looks hurt. Leah almost feels guilty for it. She hasn't made him at all welcome in these last few days, and hurting Sam isn't in her nature, has never been in her nature, even if she hates him and hates who she has become because of him. But she holds herself upright and keeps her feet moving even though her legs are more than ready to give way underneath her. She can't take it back now; she's late. There is no time for Sam and his hovering.
"Sorry," he says quietly as he stands up and finally gets out of her way.
She pushes past him and runs downstairs, ignoring that he's in a suit and his hair is tidy (and far too short), ignoring that he looks as if he's slept just about as much as she has. There are dark shadows around his eyes. He either doesn't care that he's being annoying or he's too tired to argue back, whilst Leah feels like she could scream. Especially when she hears him following her.
"Why are you still here? You've not been more than five minutes away from my family since—" She can't say what she wants and harshly swallows the awful words. Instead she waves her hand at the front door which Seth broke three days ago as she passes it, gesturing wildly at the cracks in the frame rather than the carpet where her father had fallen. "That."
And she still doesn't know what that was about. Where Seth went, what he had become. Well — she does. She'd seen it with her own eyes but she doesn't want to believe it.
"I'll fix that," Sam tells her, still barely two steps behind as she storms into the kitchen.
"I don't want you to fix it—"
"It's fine. It's not a problem, really—"
She spins round. Sam nearly crashes into her. "But it's not your problem anymore, is it?!" she yells. To hell with being quiet. "I'm not your—"
The noise which escapes Sam and cuts her words off is not entirely human. "That's not true."
It is, though. Him carrying her mom out of the hospital because Leah couldn't hold up her own weight, let alone anyone else's, doesn't make it less so. Him staying with her that first night, sitting up with her until dawn, seeing her through those worst hours hasn't changed a goddamn thing.
Leah means to scoff at him, because no, despite all of that, she doesn't believe him. Not after all he has done and put them through — put her through. But her derision sounds a little bit off, a little broken, and she bites down on her lip to stop herself from giving anything more away.
He's a liar. If it were true then he wouldn't have left her. He wouldn't have walked away as easily as he did.
And it's not like he doesn't know how she feels. She's angry and sad and messy and exhausted all the fucking time. But then, it's not like she hadn't already been a mess before any of this happened.
Her life's defined by that word. Before.
Before, Leah had asked Sam if he could swing by her place. Emily was arriving in a few days and she was beyond excited to see her cousin-almost-sister; it was only natural that she wanted Sam to be there, too. Right?
All she wanted was a few hours with them all together. Her family. But only if Sam had the chance, because he'd been disappearing a lot lately and he'd suddenly become this sullen, unreliable person who she scarcely recognised. Especially after nobody had seen him for two weeks.
(Two weeks and three days, to be exact. Long enough to drive Leah absolutely, totally, completely insane. Long enough for Sam to gain a few hard lines around his face which she feared she would never be able to smooth out. Long enough that, when he had finally come home, she only recognised him by the way he'd pressed his scorching lips against hers by way of hello.
He always did that.
Dirty and exhausted, he had wrapped his arms around her and she'd felt him deflate against her. He'd almost brought both of them to the ground. And . . . she'd forgotten her anger. She forgot her despair. It was Sam, after all, and yet it wasn't Sam — at least, not the boy who she'd been missing for so long — but finally he had come home to her. He was alive, and as long as he held her like that then the world was a fine place to be.)
You don't have to if you don't want to, Leah told him quickly, because he flipped so easily nowadays; she'd said less which had him storming off in a rage. It's just — I mean, they haven't visited for so long, and I'd really like you to be there. With me. If you can.
Sam looked so sad. After those two weeks and three days, he was always sad or angry or both. Then he said, I've been kinda crap lately, haven't I, Lee?
Yes, she admitted. She never lied. Not to him.
And Sam nodded, because he appreciated that about her. Is your dad gonna be around?
Leah blinked. Of course he is. He's cooking.
Okay. He cupped her cheek and kissed her head, the ghost of a smile on his face. I'll be there.
This is not like when Mrs. Black died.
Leah will always remember those days after the accident, after the service. Her mom had cried and cried and cried, which she hadn't even done when her mom had died. She'd shut herself away upstairs, and Leah, Seth and their dad had lived on fish fry for a week because the man didn't know how to cook anything else.
After that, after losing her best friend in the whole world, Sue Clearwater had . . . drifted. There was no other word for it. There was a part of her missing — her right arm, her left leg, Leah wasn't quite sure.
Her mom recovered, of course. Eventually. But she was never really the same. She was harder. Fiercer. There was something within her which had broken and couldn't be repaired.
Sue is not drifting now. She's just . . . not there. She moves when Leah tells her to, she eats, she drinks, but otherwise she hasn't spoken. She hasn't cried, hasn't slept. She's not even said a word to Billy, who perhaps understands better than anyone here what she is feeling.
After it had happened, Billy was there. And like Sam, he's hardly left since. Neither has Charlie, or even the whole Reservation it seems. Everyone except Seth, and those who are still trying to coax him out of that cave Sam said he's hidden himself within somewhere far, far away. Somewhere instead of being here. His seat on the other side of Sue remains empty; nobody has dared to remove the reservation sign.
Leah doesn't care if they do. She doesn't care about any of them — not her tribe, not the elder, not herself. She doesn't care about anyone or anything except for her mom, who hasn't said a word since her dad's heart gave out and Seth ripped the front door off its hinges as he struggled to escape only moments after.
He hasn't been seen since.
Not on two legs, anyway.
It's not that she blames Seth. Her dad had never really taken care of himself like he really needed to. He'd had a bad heart since before she was born — since he was a kid himself. But her brother exploding into a fucking wolf in the middle of the living room hadn't exactly done any of them a favour, let alone her father.
Leah wonders where her brother is now, wonders if he's still there. She wonders who is looking after him, because the last time she saw him . . . She will never forget that look on his face right before . . . no, she won't — can't think about that now. She'll have to face up to it soon. Just not now.
Not now, but after. After she thanks the elder, who is lamenting in Quileute about life, love, about death and despair. After she accepts his condolences, his wisdom, though she'll not understand any of it. She'll murmur in the right places, nod her head, try her best to remember what the old man says to her . . . even though she can't even remember whose family he belongs to. She's known him all her life.
What the hell is his name?
Leah looks around the congregation as if she'll find the answer in the faces behind her, but everything's passing in a blur and her attention is wholly elsewhere. It feels as if she's ten steps behind everyone else, struggling to catch up, her head foggy and body aching because she hasn't slept in two days.
Sam is two rows behind.
Beside him is Jared, and on the other side sits Emily.
Paul is there, too. At least that's something — that he's not watching over Seth, because Lahote isn't known for his sympathy, his kindness. Seth is petrified of the older boy. And yet . . . when Paul catches her dry eyes, his own look uncharacteristically soft.
She turns away from him. She can't bear more than her mom's sadness right now. She's barely managing her own.
That's not all of them, though. She recognises all of Sam's new cadre only by their short hair and their sharp jawlines, by the way their gigantic frames tower over everybody else even when sitting down. Everyone else who is not privy to the secret she has now been brought into.
Leah had thought that all the boys were on steroids when she'd first seen them. Before she'd known. They all look older, leaner. Even Jacob, who sits between Billy and Charlie with his head bowed, appears much older than his sixteen years.
Billy puts his hand on Jake's arm, and it has Leah wondering whether they are remembering the day they buried Sarah. Whether Jake wishes his sisters were here as much as she does.
Leah hasn't heard from Rebecca since a month after she got married, and she hasn't seen Rachel since before she started college. But she misses them, her sisters in all but blood. And she's angry at them for not being here for her, with her, like she has always been there for them. Leah's mom might need her, but she needs them.
When she finally looks away, everything seems to happen all at once. The tribal elder steps down, the pallbearers step up: her uncles Michael and Lucas, behind Jacob in his father's stead, and Quil in his grandfather's. At the back are Charlie and . . . Paul.
Leah sags. The relief she feels that it's not Sam holding her father up in these final moments is crippling. He was only holding her up not too long ago in her kitchen.
(It doesn't change a goddamn thing, she reminds herself.)
And yet, as soon as relief registers, it's gone. Fleeting, forgotten. Because it's not Paul or Sam who are supposed to be carrying Harry. It's Seth. Seth is meant to be where Paul stands.
She pulls her mom up, and they follow the coffin. They walk past the whole tribe, hand in hand, row by row, Billy trailing them. It seems as if everyone is here for Harry Clearwater, saying their final goodbyes, grieving.
As Leah and her mom pass the third row, Emily reaches out to her.
Leah pretends not to notice. She pretends not to notice the tears streaming down her cousin-almost-sister's face, or how Sam's hands are on Emily's shoulders. Holding her, loving her.
The day of, Sam had stuck to his promise. He turned up as she'd asked, clean, shaven, and wearing his best shirt. Despite his sadness, his anger, that rage which Leah did not understand, Sam had a smile plastered on his face and was ready to stand next to her and hold her hand.
She loved him for that.
She met him at the door and kissed him silly. Her family were gathered in the backyard, waiting, though she wasn't bothered if they saw the way she ran her hands through his too-short hair, or if they heard the way he moaned against her lips.
Before long, Sam pulled away. He tapped her nose. Behave.
She grinned triumphantly — she loved the effect she had on him — and took his hand. Come on. They're all here.
He squeezed her fingers and let her lead the way into the yard.
He left less than five minutes later. Leah didn't see him again for days and days and days.
Up until then, whether it was someone she knew or someone in a movie, Leah had always laughed at the person who played sad music because they thought it was genuinely speaking to their broken-heart and their broken-heart alone. Nobody else's, because the song had been written just for them and that moment.
She mocked the person who sobbed as they ripped up photographs of their ex-boyfriend.
She scoffed at the person who stared in the mirror, comparing themselves to another. The person who wondered what they were lacking that the other was not.
It was unbelievably dramatic.
Yet, the day after, there she was, in her room, playing the sad music. She ripped up photographs (and then burned them). She stared at her reflection in the mirror. And as her dad was yelling at her about fire and danger and What the hell were you thinking! Leah realised with a hint of horror that she was that kind of person now.
She hated it.
She's the last to leave the graveside. She stands there long after her dad is in the ground, until others arrive with their shovels and wait for her to go.
He would hate it, she thinks. Her dad. He'd seriously hate all of it. The service, the crying, the way his family's life has come to a ground-breaking halt without him.
He'd hate that she's still standing here, waiting for something that will never happen, waiting for people to leave her house where they have gathered to mourn and pay their respects for just that little bit longer.
(She's still here because she can't face them. The groundsmen can cough and fidget all they want — she's not going anywhere. Not yet.)
But after that they'll leave. Probably when Billy clears his throat and makes some pointed remark about privacy. They will all leave and go get on with their lives.
Leah just isn't sure if she can do the same.