Author's Note: This is a different kind of Quil/Claire fanfic... kinda anti-imprinting, and done for the sake of writing something different. One-shot. Tell me how you feel about it, I'd love to know. :)
The earliest memory you have of anything is when you are three and Uncle Quil is playing tea parties with you.
You remember your favorite doll, Miss Kitty Princess, as named by your older sister. She was five. You're not sure if she was there or not, at yours and Uncle Quil's tea party; you just remember Uncle Quil wearing a tiara and pouring you and Miss Kitty Princess tea and letting you eat his share of the sugar cookies that Aunty Emily had made. You look back now and think that maybe there was a sad look on his face, but you have no idea if you're just adding that on to the memory or if it was actually true.
Uncle Quil is not actually your Uncle. You find that out when you are seven and you're talking about him to your mother. She never liked Uncle Quil and hated it whenever Aunty Emily brought him around to visit. Daddy never seemed to like him either, but you were only seven and thought that 'weird' was the only variety that adults came in. You remember asking your mother why Uncle Quil and Aunty Emily lived in La Push when, from what you understood, family was meant to stay together. Your mother's lips, wide and pouty, the same lips that you've grown into, were set straight and hard. She curtly told you that they just did (live in La Push), and that the Ateara boy was not her family.
You were confused. Your parents were the ones that insisted that you call him "Uncle" and you didn't quite get what was going on, but you liked saying "Uncle Quil" so you left it at that.
The most happiest childhood memories you have were with your strange not-uncle Uncle Quil. He was very silly and did anything you wanted, whether that'd be playing dress ups or taking you to the First Beach at La Push. Uncle Quil rarely visited you at home, but you visited Aunty Emily heaps and very soon (well, for as long as you can remember) La Push became associated with all the fun things in life.
Apart from Aunty Emily and Uncle Quil there was also Uncle Jake and Uncle Embry and Uncle Seth and Uncle Sam. There was also a Paul, who frightened you a little too much to be given an affectionate "Uncle" and a Jared, who you didn't see that much, and a Leah, who you heard mentioned a few times but who nobody said anything about. But these people all formed a protective ring around you and you loved it. When you'd go to Aunty Emily's with your lip wobbling because Warren Journey had pulled your hair or called you a "fat piggy", they'd all be there, expressing their concern and petting you and giving you chocolate and asking whether going and "talking" to Warren would be a good idea? (Which of course it wouldn't have been.)
They made you feel loved, the group in La Push. They made you feel loved and you loved them right back, with every fiber of your ten year old self (the one you loved most being, of course, your friend and playmate Uncle Quil).
But time trickled away and then you were thirteen, and you suddenly realized that you liked boys. A lot.
For the most part these boys didn't notice you and you'd call Uncle Quil and he'd be outside your home within what seemed a matter of moments, and you'd cry and cry when Warren Journey had started dating Cissy Clyde and Peter Franklen had picked another girl to be his partner in dance. And Uncle Quil would wrap you up in the biggest, warmest of hugs and you'd eventually stop sobbing and just enjoy the cuddle.
It was another thing your parents didn't like about him, the easy going intimacy the two of you had, but you were never sure of what exactly they were implying so you choose to ignore it.
After all, it wasn't like that with Uncle Quil. They just couldn't see it.
Three more years and suddenly you're sixteen. The gang at La Push give you a huge birthday party; not the fairy themed ones from your single digit years but a true to life party, with people from school and music and everything, all on the beach.
That's when it happened. When you saw him and felt your world stop and then start again all in slow motion.
Warren Journey, the boy that used to tease you when you were ten and the boy that you had been so heartbroken over for a complete day when he'd started dating Cissy, a blonde girl that never really liked you very much.
You'd been in the same schools your entire life, but now suddenly you felt weak. You wanted him. You had no idea if it was the sweet alcoholic drinks that you and your sister had been drinking but it felt as if everything in the world suddenly clicked together and made sense. The only thing you needed now was for Warren to turn and look at you.
He did, as you were sitting on the opposite side of the fire next to Uncle Quil. His eyes were dark and perfect and he grinned at you, and you fell even more in love with the dimples he had.
Uncle Quil, who had noticed all of this, suddenly turned very quiet.
He stayed quiet for the next two years. Not that you noticed very much. You hardly went to La Push any more, too absorbed in Warren to remember anything else but that fascinating world that the two of you created and completed. Warren was handsome and funny and very loving, and also very teasing. He liked to call you "Kitty Claire" and tease you about how much you liked to sleep in and you'd always pretend to be annoyed until he'd was kissing your neck or your ear, whispering things, the sweetest things, and you'd forgive him, caving into the sugar rush that he created.
Aunty Emily took it upon herself to have a talk with you, just before your Graduation. You'd been telling her about how you and Warren wanted to go across the county, travel and work for a bit, see something outside of the safe sphere you lived in.
"Claire," She said, sitting down next to you. "There's something you need to be told before you go off with this boy."
What? You ask, wondering if she still doesn't like Warren after knowing him for the two years you'd been dating. Your mother loved him, thought he was the most wonderful thing in the world. Your father didn't trust him, but that was all protective Daddy mode and you didn't mind because he always caved and let you have just a little longer on your curfew. Only your La Push friends didn't like him; didn't even want to show him some politeness or courtesy but instead kept their distance.
Aunty Emily shakes her head. "It's not for me to tell you. There's a bonfire tonight, Claire honey. You'll be told then."
A bonfire? You wonder. Bonfires are normally tribal things and while you're not actually apart of the tribe they've always welcomed you. What could they have to tell you at a bonfire, though?
You find out later that night. They're all there, your childhood friends and protectors and even a few people you don't know. Then you see Uncle Quil, in the middle of them all, his face grave.
What's wrong? You're beginning to worry. You ask again, what's wrong?
Uncle Quil looks at you from where he is sitting and his eyes are boring right into yours and he's saying, "Claire, I'm a wolf. Like in the old legends. I'm a wolf and... I imprinted on you... when you were two."
In the reeling shock that you feel, a tiny part of your mind thinks that it's ridiculous that you know what Uncle Quil is talking about. Things like, "I'm a wolf" and "I imprinted on you" shouldn't make sense. But they do. Horrible, unwanted sense. You turn to Aunty Emily, barely aware that you're making a wounded, keening sound. Barely aware of Uncle-no, Quil's- flinch as you keep making that horrible sound. No one says anything except your Aunty, who's sweeping you up in a warm hug and telling you that everything's okay, that no one was forcing you to do anything, that they just wanted you to know.
You're crying. Why? You're asking thickly. Why me?
It builds up inside of you and suddenly you're screaming, WHY ME? WHY THE HELL DID IT HAVE TO BE ME?
And before anyone can say or do anything you're running away, ignoring Unc-Quil's-shouts, ignoring Aunty Emily's shouts, ignoring everything and just running along the trees, trying to find somewhere you can collapse and cry all over again.
You love Uncle Quil, but not as much as you've found yourself in love with Warren. Warren. You want to cry. You know the old stories, the ones about imprinting and what it meant. You knew that you would come to love Uncle Quil as your everything and no matter what Aunty Emily said, it felt very much like you were going to be forced into it.
You think of Warren again, of that smile that no one but you sees, and you cry even harder.
You love him, Warren. You want to stay with him.
Perhaps it's because of your crying, which has gotten gagged and noisy, but you do not hear the soft footsteps until suddenly, there's a woman sitting next to you.
Startled, you stop your tears. You almost think that you don't know her, but there is something familiar about her face, as bitter as it is. You've seen her before...
"Leah Clearwater," She says, not looking at you but in front of her, far off. Her dark eyes slide over you and then she murmurs, "You wouldn't know me. I've been away for years."
Leah Clearwater. The name and her eyes clue you in. You've seen her, younger, prettier, happier, in pictures with your Uncle Sam, tucked away in the closet at Aunt Emily's.
This is the Leah the the other's never talked about. Uncle Seth's older sister.
For some reason having a complete stranger next to you is calming. Your crying stops, though your face is still sticky and wet. You still hiccup a little, but it's nothing that can't be controlled.
You don't feel better, not by a long shot, but you're calmer.
After a little while the woman, Leah, says. "Imprinting's a bitch, isn't it?" She looks at you and then smiles, abet very small. "What's his name?" She asks.
Warren. You manage to whisper. Warren Journey.
Leah nods. "Tell me about him; what's he like?"
And suddenly you're pouring it all out. All the little bits and pieces that you love about him, everything you've ever thought about him from when you were kids and he'd tease you to when you were hormonal teenagers and he'd still tease you. You're talking about how he makes you feel a million different kind of wonderful, how you adore him, his smile, everything. And this Leah woman just lets you talk and talk and talk, all the while looking thoughtful.
Then you fall silent. There's a few moments where you're wondering what she's thinking but then Leah starts to talk, her voice low. "I haven't imprinted, so I can't tell you how Quil's feeling or how it works. I hate it though, just as much as you do right now."
Surprised, you ask why.
Leah says nothing for a very long time, then carefully, "I was... in love. I was as madly in love as you are with your Warren, but it... didn't work out."
There's a bitter smile on her face when you ask that, and you think that maybe she's trying not to smirk. "He imprinted on someone else. On my cousin."
You hear yourself gasp. Your own cousin?
Leah nods, her face blank. "Yes. It's something that's hard to explain. I knew that he still loved me but because... because of all this magic he ended up loving someone more." She grimaces. "It's not pleasant."
Who are they? You ask, curious despite the dread you feel. Do I know them?
This time Leah really does smirk. "You should do. Your mother and Emily are my cousins."
Your mother and Emily... at first you're confused. Then you remember the photos that you thought you might of recongnized her from, the ones with her and Uncle Sam, Aunty Emily's husband.
Aunty Emily's husband...
You're eyes are most likely the size of saucers as you look at Leah Clearwater, your second cousin once removed.
Uncle Sam? You whisper weakly. Was it Uncle Sam?
Leah stops smiling, her face going back to the disfiguring bitterness. "Yes. It was."
Your breathing shortens from the stomach tightening horror you're feeling.
Finally, after what feels like a very long while, you and Leah walk back to the others.
They were all in deep conversation as the two of you arrived but then fell silent. Leah sailed past them all, past Uncle Sam (who you now noticed gave her a very weary, sad look) and sat down. Aunty Emily rushed towards you, asking if you were alright, telling you never to scare her like that but all you could do was stare at her with blank eyes.
Her and Sam... how could she do it? How could they do it?
If Aunty Emily notices how stiff you are in her arms she doesn't say a thing. You just stare at Leah, you stare hard and with the flickering light of the fire you see how beautiful she could've been.
But now it was ruined for her. By her own cousin. By your Aunt.
No, that isn't fair. You know Aunty Emily, how soft and loving she is. You know she wouldn't of betrayed a cousin so badly unless there was an ironclad reason for it.
Magic. It's all magic's fault. Imprinting, wolves, the Cold Ones that you've heard mentioned in stories... if there was no such thing as stupid magic than everything would be alright. You wouldn't have to betray Warren.
Quil is standing up, looking at you, hard. "Claire?" He asks. That's all he says, quiet. Just your name. But you know what he's asking. You know why everyone around you has gone taunt, why they're all waiting. They want to know if you're going to make it easier for yourself, if you're going to accept what will come and learn to love Quil now.
But you won't, you'll go down swinging. You think of Warren; your wonderful, handsome Warren. He's a different kind of magic for you. He doesn't love you because of some crazy, ancient story curse. He loves you because he loves you.
You hold your head up high, push away from Aunty Emily.
I'm sorry, you say. But I love Warren. I want to stay with him.
One or two people gasp. You see Jacob Black, who was once as loving an uncle as any, hiss and turn away from you. Uncle Sam's eyes are closed and Aunty Emily's hands have flown to her mouth. You can't even look at Quil, so instead you look to Leah and see that she's giving you a very small smile. She's telling you to fight for what you want and suddenly you feel braver.
"I... I have to go." Uncle Quil mutters. And before anyone can stop him he's running. You think that maybe you saw his skin ripple and bulge but you chalk it up to stress.
"Let's get you home," Aunty Emily whispers. She doesn't look directly at you and for a fleeting moment you begin to wonder about what you've done.
You arrive home the following morning, and immediately rush inside to ring Warren.
Only there's something terribly wrong. When his mother answers the phone she's crying. Panic lights up inside you.
What's wrong? You ask. Mrs. Journey, is everything alright?
You can almost hear her shake her head. "Claire. Oh god, Claire. He's gone. My baby's gone."
The phone slips out of your hand. You know who she's talking about.
He was dragged out of his room. The window is broken in and the signs of struggle are all over the strewn bedsheets and the knocked over lamp. The torn curtains.
You hover around the Journey home for three days, waiting. Empty. There's one thought that you have don't don't want to think. Because there was no way that they would do this to you. That he would do this to you.
On the fourth day, however, the police come, faces solemn, and you know, you know what they're going to say and you sit on the Journey's veranda and cry.
Warren, your Warren. Dead. Found as an unrecognizable corpse in the depths of La Push.
You cry and cry, your heart shattered.
Leah was the one that found him. She's gone when you're dragged to La Push by Emily. Sam tells you that Leah left because she wanted to, though you don't believe that. You think they ran her off because she was going to dob them all in. You're wild with theories. The La Push gang is tight. They would cover for one another. You know that they've run her off and you add it on your list as another thing to hate them for.
Another campfire. When you arrive, Quil's back is towards you.
For a long moment no one says anything and made brave by the burning hatred you feel, you say, What, no apology?
They stay silent. It only angers you more. You killed him. You say, surprisingly calm. Don't deny it, I know it was you. Either you did it by yourself or your pack buddies helped you, but you killed him.
Jacob flares up. "It was an accident!" He defends. "You have no idea what you-"
"Shut up, Jake." Quil. Dull. Finally he turns. He's covered in filth, dirt, looking tired. Your inner child, the one that still adores him cries out for him, but the Grown You remembers your beautiful Warren, now dead, and that shuts her up.
Quil finally meets your eyes. "I did it." He says. No one says anything, only look away. "I was phasing, out of control... I'm sorry. I never wanted you to be hurt."
Never wanted me to be hurt? You start to laugh. Emily is reaching out for you, concerned, but you slap her hand away. Don't touch me! You snarl. Don't any of you touch me!
There is a pause and suddenly, snapping, you scream, I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL! YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A PACK OF BABY-RAPING MURDERERS AND I HATE YOU! YOU'VE RUINED MY LIFE!
And you fall on the soft sand and cry all over again. They let you cry and when you finally look up the only one there is Quil. You see the love and the sorrow in his eyes and you spit at him, curl up and cry more. You cry for Warren, your Warren, cry for the future that you'll never have. You cry for Quil, for the little girl that adored him. Finally you cry because you know that you will never escape from loving him. You know that even as you do, even as you mend and forgive him, there will always be a part of you that will hate him, and yourself, for condemning you.