This is for IpsitaC77. Happy Birthday, di! I stole an inspirational quote from your FB photos and gave it my own take.

This is the only WARNING I'll be giving for the entire story, so please read it, absorb it, and then decide if you want to move forward.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Twilight, yada, yada, yada. More importantly, even though this is a birthday present for my best friend and confidante, it's going to be ANGSTY and will deal with SENSITIVE SUBJECTS that might be a trigger for certain people. I have it on good authority that the birthday girl enjoys a few tears and loathes meaningless fluff (like me ;)). I can assure you that there's absolutely no abuse/rape involved, but I won't be more specific here, in the interest of maintaining the suspense. My usual rule for endings still applies, though.

The story will be posted in its entirety today itself, so if you choose to wait until it's complete and read only after getting some spoilers, I understand and respect your decision.

Now those of you who're still on board for the ride, let's begin!


CHAPTER 1: INTANGIBLE

She climbed the stairs to her porch, her steps slow and soft, her eyes vacant, and her thoughts trained to focus on nothing but the present. A cold breeze blew down the street, making her hands tremble as she unlocked the door.

She shivered, but not from the cold—it was fear that rocked her to her core.

Fear of winter setting in earlier this year, plunging the town into a shroud of darkness at an earlier hour each day . . . maybe even before she got back from work.

The only thing that'd kept her sane since she'd relocated to Forks, the one place that gave her a few moments of peace enabling her to function the next day was the meadow behind her house.

She'd found it accidentally the day after she'd moved here, chasing . . . something intangible in the beckoning shadows of the forest that began just a few feet away from the fence surrounding her backyard. She'd followed the invisible thread pulling her deeper, her sense of self-preservation having left her the moment she lost everything she'd held dear to her heart . . . the moment it'd dawned on her that she had nothing left to live for.

She had stumbled over roots, flinched at the sound of little animals scurrying between the trees, abraded her palm several times while bracing herself on tree barks, but she hadn't stopped until she'd reached the perfectly round little clearing.

Green grass had swayed gently in the breeze as her eyes had raked over the space, marveling over how it'd held its own among the tallest of conifers that surrounded it, but couldn't seem to penetrate it.

She'd spent over an hour there, simply standing and looking at the stillness that surrounded her.

Until the moment when the rays of the setting sun decided to make their presence known one last time before bidding the day goodbye.

The grey blanket of clouds had parted. Sunlight had danced through the dense canopies, determined to reach the forest floor. Lost as she was, she'd been startled the moment it hit her skin, warming her in ways that felt foreign after having spent so long in the darkness of her own mind.

She'd squinted against it, but eventually found the courage to open her eyes wide and welcome the sunlight as it embraced her.

It was in that moment that she'd resurfaced from the purgatory of her thoughts. She was seeing the leaves around her glitter through new eyes, hearing the crickets buzzing in harmony through clearer ears, sensing the gentle breeze playing with strands of her hair with an alarming clarity that sent her reeling.

It was the first time she'd begun to believe in the possibility of a light at the end of her tunnel.

Since then, she hadn't missed a day—making it a point to spend at least an hour in her little sanctuary after she got home from work.

But now that it was time for winter to make its appearance, it'd mean that the forest would grow far too dark for her clumsy self to navigate—even if she used a flashlight—by the time she got home.

And despite all evidence to contrary, she didn't have a death-wish.

No, she'd worked very hard in the past three months to get herself to the point where she could learn to hope for . . . hope. Like the sunlight fighting its way through the lush treetops, she was determined to hold her ground and fight the demons that threatened to pull her under every second of every day.

That was why the thought of bidding her little piece of heaven goodbye sent an icy rush of dread trickling down her spine.


A/N: The biggest hugs and thanks to snoopylover60 and Ninkita for their help in pre-reading and editing SUPER QUICKLY. Diane Lynne (OTB) is the creative genius behind the banner for this story, and I'm so grateful. They're just the best people around.

I have coaching classes to attend all-freaking-day today and tomorrow! So I'll be posting this during recesses on my phone. If you choose to review, please know that I appreciate it more than I can say, but I will only be able to reply on Monday.

Pics for each chapter—including the one that inspired this story in the first place—can be found in my FB group: Fanfiction by ForeverRobsessed. Follow the link on my profile.

And don't forget to wish IpsitaC77 a very happy birthday!