Disclaimer: The wonderful world of Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I only like to play in it from time to time. I do own whatever you don't recognize, though.
A/N: So I really shouldn't be starting another story right now but this thing popped up in my head about a week ago and pretty much jumped up and down on my brain, screaming and whatnot until I finally decided to let it out. And so… here it is. It will probably be AU in about a month but that's ok. Just to clear this up, this starts the November right after Eclipse and goes on what I think (or actually kind of wish) will happen in Breaking Dawn: Bella + Edward got married and then left Forks right after the wedding. So please review and let me know what you think!
Summary: Liz is forced to move in with her aunt in Forks after her father's death and is determined to not like it until she meets Seth Clearwater. Suddenly, she's pulled into a world of supernatural myths and when a group of super-powered vampires called The Volturi show up, she doesn't think she can make it to her seventeenth birthday alive.
"Miss, are you sure alright?" the elderly woman beside me asked for what felt like the hundredth time. I didn't get what it was with this woman. Why couldn't she be like the normal people on airplanes who determinedly ignored whoever was sitting next to them?
"I'm fine," I said, harsher than necessary. I didn't mean to be a bitch but, really. This woman was getting on my last nerve, and that was not even mentioning the fact that she smelled like old moldy cheese. And not the good French kind, either.
She frowned at me, probably thinking something about how back in her day (when Jesus still walked the earth, probably), youngsters respected their elders. And every lawn was encased in a white picket fence and milk only cost a nickel. I'm sure everyone's heard the nostalgic ramblings of the elderly enough to know that life was never actually like that, that's just something they like to imagine so they can try to guilt younger people into being nicer to them. Never mind the fact that she was butting her nose into something that was definitely not her business. Then she pulled out a pocket pack of Kleenex and handed it to me.
"Thanks," I muttered, sounding a bit like a sulking child. I knew I was being rude but I just wanted to be left alone in my thoughts. I pulled one of the tissues out and wiped my tear-stained cheeks and then blew my nose.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked kindly. It was actually physically hard, stopping myself from rolling my eyes. I had to remind myself that despite the smell, this woman was being very nice to a perfect stranger and that wasn't something that normally happened. But what did she expect, that I would tell her my whole life story and then we would braid each other's hair and maybe ask the flight attendants if they could replay that Drew Barrymore film that had been shown earlier in the flight? God, why couldn't she just take the fucking hint already?
Thankfully, the pilot saved me from replying. He had come on the intercom to let us know that we were starting our descent into Seattle, so could we please put our trays and seats into the upright position. I just sighed and turned away from the woman, looking out the window at the wall of grey clouds below us. I still couldn't believe that I had been sent here, three thousand one hundred and eighty four miles away from home, the day after my father's funeral. I mean, I didn't even get a day to adjust, mope around or even pack. Of course, I understood why I had to leave but that didn't make it okay. My mother couldn't even take care of herself so no one wanted to entrust her with a child, even if I was her only daughter but it's not like I couldn't take care of myself. My father wasn't exactly Mr. Involved. In fact, he had spent the last six months locked in his bedroom and I had been perfectly fine. But unfortunately for me, the state of Massachusetts looks down on sixteen year olds living without (responsible) adult supervision, so I was being shipped off to Nowheresville, Washington to live with Emma, my aunt.
I had only met Emma once before. She was my father's older, very much older, sister. They weren't close at all. She had only come to Boston once, to celebrate Christmas with us when I was seven, and her and my father had gotten into a huge argument over something stupid. And then we had never heard from her again. Frankly, I was surprised when my mother told me that I would be living with her in a small town called Forks. She was divorced nurse and her only son, my cousin Ben, had moved to California a couple years earlier. Maybe she felt bad for me. Maybe this was her way of making up for the fact that she hadn't spoken to me or my father since I was seven. Or maybe she was just lonely and that was why she had opened her door to me. All I knew was that I had to finish high school on the wrong coast, away from all of my friends.
When we finally landed, I got as far away from the moldy cheese lady as fast as I possibly could. I found Emma waiting by the luggage carousel and was struck by how much she looked like my father. She had the same thin red hair, the same amount of freckles spattered across her face, and the same tall, lanky build. The only difference was her eyes. She had deep green eyes while my father had had clear blue eyes. "Liz!" she called when she saw me. She waved then, as if she didn't think I would recognize her or realize she was the one who had just called my name.
I sighed again and walked over to her. "Hi, Aunt Emma," I said, putting my carry-on bag on the ground.
She grinned at me, eyeing my wet cheeks. "How are you doing, kid?"
I shrugged. "As good as I can be, I guess." I said, avoiding eye contact with her by staring hard at the black suitcase that was passing by us.
This tactic didn't seem to work, though. She grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into a hug. I didn't return it; instead I chose to glare at the flashing light on top the carousel, indicating that it was on. I wasn't a very physical person. I didn't like it when people touched me unexpectedly, and I really didn't like it when I didn't want them to touch me at all. I was very thankful when I saw both of my dark blue suitcases passing by. I forcefully removed myself from the unwanted embrace and grabbed them. Then she led me to her station wagon in the parking lot and helped me load my things into the back without trying to hug me again.
Once we were on the road, she turned to me and smiled. "I hope you're ready for a long car ride. It's about four hours to Forks."
I forced myself to smile back at her and said, "I'm sure it'll be better than the plane ride."
"Was it that bad?" she asked sympathetically.
"There was a very nosy old lady who smelled funny," I said, settling in for the car ride. "She wouldn't leave me alone. She didn't even stop for the in flight movie."
Emma laughed at that. "Well, I might be a nosy old lady but at least I don't smell funny," she joked. I forced out a laugh and stared out the window as I watched Seattle, the closest actual city to Forks, pass us by. She turned to me after she had maneuvered through the city traffic and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the funeral. I really couldn't get enough time off work… and I wanted to make sure that everything was ready for you here."
"It's fine," I said. "It turns out that not a lot of people could make it." She threw me a look of pity and I shrugged it off. "I hope you didn't go to a lot of trouble. You didn't need to."
"Of course I did," she said, smiling at me again. "I want you to feel at home here."
"Like that will happen," I muttered.
She must have heard me because she scowled and said, "Elizabeth, I know you don't like it but you will be staying here until you graduate next June."
"But why?" I asked. "I could have stayed with my mom in Boston and –"
She interrupted me then. "You know as well as I do that your mother was in no condition to watch you. The woman can barely look after herself."
"But I can look after myself," I argued. "I've been doing it for years. It's not like it would be any different!"
"But you shouldn't have to look after yourself!" she said forcefully. "You're only fifteen –"
"Sixteen," I corrected her. "I'm sixteen."
She shot me a confused look. "But you're birthday's not until –"
I interrupted her this time. "November ninth, remember? That was yesterday. My birthday was yesterday."
"Oh, Lizzie," she said, giving me that pitying look again. "I'm so sorry. I completely forgot."
"It's fine," I said again.
"No, it's not," she said. "You know, I could take you out tomorrow and we could celebrate. That would be fun, wouldn't it?"
I sighed again. "I guess. You don't have to go to all that trouble, though. I mean, it's enough that you're letting me stay here."
She smiled at me. "It's no trouble at all. It's like I was saying, you should be able to have fun and be a kid. It's not right that you've had to take care of yourself. It was wrong of your father to put you in that situation."
I couldn't stop myself from wincing at that. She was right but it still hurt to hear her talking badly about my father. Instead of responding, I turned and watched as we passed what seemed like millions of trees. They were so tall too, and covered in moss. I had never seen trees like that on the east coast. Everything here was so green, it was kind of disorienting. I could see it now, that things would be completely different from the way they used to be. My aunt seemed intent on letting me be a "kid," whatever that meant.
"All of your things arrived this morning," Emma said, breaking the silence of the last couple hours. We had finally reached Forks, or at least that's what that Welcome sign had said. "I wasn't able to paint Ben's room though. I wasn't sure what color you would have wanted, anyways."
"I'm sure it's fine," I said. I felt like a broken record. "You didn't have to do anything, Aunt Emma. I don't want to be a burden."
"You could never be a burden, Liz," she said. Again with the eyes that clearly said she felt bad for me. She was really going to have to stop with that. I didn't want her pity, I just wanted to get back on a plane to Boston and pretend that this had never happened. She pulled up in front of two-story grey house and smiled. "Well, here it is," she said. "Home sweet home." She grabbed one of my suitcases and led me up the walkway to the dark red front door, which opened up into a large room done in shades of blue. And that was all I saw before a massive thing knocked me over and started slobbering all over me.
I shrieked as I fell to the ground and Emma seemed to find that amusing. She pulled the beast off of me and said, "Sorry Liz. Sophie gets a little overexcited when she meets someone new."
"A little?" I said sarcastically, wiping the drool off of my face. "What is that thing?"
"Saint Bernard," Emma said, proudly. She grabbed my arm and pulled me back up to my feet. "She doesn't realize her own size, but if she tries to jump on you again, just push her off. She's a tough dog, she can take it."
"You didn't say there would be a dog," I said darkly.
"I'm sorry," Emma apologized again. "I got her after Ben left. It won't be a problem, will it?"
It was a problem, actually, because I hated dogs. But I didn't want to make things worse. "No," I said, backing as far from the dog as I could get (which wasn't very far since the thing was ginormous). "I just don't really like dogs all that much."
Emma laughed and started petting it. "Oh, it's impossible not to like Sophie. She's just the sweetest dog ever." And then she started talking to it in that annoying voice adults always had when they talked to babies. I rolled my eyes and finally got to look around the room we had walked into. The paint was a light blue color with a darker blue sofa in the middle of the room. There was a television set up opposite it and I noticed some of the furniture I had shipped here next to it. Emma had finally finished talking to the dog at that point. "That bookcase… thing wouldn't fit in your bedroom so I decided to put it in here. Those smaller spaces are for DVDs, right?" I nodded while I tried not to laugh. I didn't bother to correct her, either. The bookcase hadn't exactly been mine but I couldn't really see the harm in taking it. It's not like my father would be using it. "Good," she said, laughing at herself. "I hope you don't mind, I decided to get rid of my DVD rack and just put mine in there."
"It's fine," I said, looking around the room some more. My cousin's school pictures were on the wall, along with ones of my aunt and people I didn't know. There was even one that had been taken that Christmas in Boston of the whole family.
"I left the boxes you had marked as books and DVDs out here because I figured you'd want to put them in there. Don't rush in unpacking them, though. Take all the time you need. Now come on," Emma said, motioning for me to follow her. "I'll show you the rest of the house." She led me into a smaller dining room and an incredibly large kitchen. I hadn't realized that my aunt had this kind of money. I mean, a house like this must have been expensive. Then she took me upstairs, pointed out the master bedroom and then showed me my room.
I smiled as I looked it over. It was large, larger than the room I had in my father's apartment in Boston and it was painted a dark blue color. My full-sized bed was pushed up against the far wall, right under two windows and my desk was across from it. There was a plushy blue chair in the corner and a dresser next to it. The boxes I had shipped here were piled in the middle of the room. "Do you like it?" Emma asked nervously.
"I love it," I said, walking into the room.
"I'm glad," Emma said, a wide grin crossing her face. "Well, the bathroom in the hallway is yours. I don't use it since I have one connected to my room. I've already enrolled you in Forks High so you can start on Monday. Oh and I invited my friend Sue to dinner tonight. I thought maybe it could be a bit of a Welcome Home thing, you know?"
"Sue?" I asked, not really paying attention to her. I had already grabbed the box labeled 'Desk' and was trying to tear the packaging tape off.
"Yeah, we used to work at the hospital together until she got her nurse practitioner license a couple years ago. Now she works at the clinic in La Push but we've kept in touch," Emma said. It sounded like she was gathering up steam to give me the full, unabridged version of Sue's life story and I knew I had to stop her.
"La Push?" I asked, turning around to look at her. "Where's that?"
"It's the Quileute reservation on the coast," she said. "It's really nice, I'll have to take you there soon."
"Yeah," I grinned. I had escaped hearing all about this Sue. "When's dinner?"
Emma looked down at her watch and said, "They should be here in about three hours."
"They?" I asked, confused. "I thought you said Sue was coming." Sue was definitely not a they.
"Yes," Emma said. "Sue and her two children. Her son's around your age, I think, or maybe a little younger. And Leah, her daughter, is nineteen now. I'm sure you'll love them."
"Oh," I said. I turned back to the box I had finally gotten open and rifled through it until I found the speakers for my iPod.
"Alright," Emma said, watching me. "I guess I'll leave you to your unpacking. Just remember to be ready by six, ok?"
I nodded and then followed her out of the room to grab my carry-on bag. My two suitcases full of clothes and some of the other things I couldn't ship earlier were still in the living room. They were incredibly heavy and I didn't know how I was going to get them upstairs without scratching my aunt's nice hardwood floors so I decided to leave them for now. Once I was back in my room, I plugged my iPod in, turned on some music and started unpacking. It wasn't exactly my favorite thing in the world to do, in fact, I hated unpacking but I hated living out of boxes and the clutter they seemed to bring even more. So I was trying to put things away as neatly and quickly as I could. And that was how I had managed to unpack all the boxes in my room in only two and a half hours.
I decided to take a quick shower after that since speedy unpacking can really make me sweat and I was pretty sure I was starting to smell like the moldy cheese lady. Once I was done, I couldn't stop myself from looking in the mirror. It was so weird. I had realized that things would be completely different here on the ride to Forks and I almost expected that change to show physically, but I looked exactly the same. I still had the same wavy light brown that fell to the middle of my back. I even still had the blonde streaks that had appeared over the summer from the sun, although I doubted I would have those for much longer. Forks was in the Olympic Peninsula, which was one of the rainiest places in the whole world. I doubt I'd even seen the sun more than ten times in the next two years. And I was still incredibly small, barely clearing five feet and weighing only a little over one hundred pounds. Maybe I should do something to make the change more external… if only I could grow half a foot. I guess I'd have to settle with cutting my hair or getting those colored contacts. Maybe Emma could help.
There was a loud knocking at the door and then Emma was screaming, "Hurry up, Liz! They're almost here!"
I hurried out of the bathroom and ran smack into Sophie, the canine wall. I had to grab onto the wall to stop myself from falling over, nearly dropping my towel in the process. "Stupid flipping beast," I muttered, trying to get past her. I still couldn't believe how big the dog was, her head was practically at my chest. She followed me down the hall and had gotten into the room before I could slam the door in her face. I sighed. "Don't get used to this room, dog," I said as I started looking for something decent to wear. "This will be the only time you'll get in here, I promise you that." I finally decided on a pair of worn dark blue jeans and a grey and navy striped button down sweater with a white tank underneath. "Come on, you beast," I said as I put my hair up in a ponytail. "It's time to leave now." Unfortunately, she simply refused to budge off my bed. Let me tell you, I was extremely thankful that I hadn't put the sheets on it yet.
I headed down to the kitchen. "Aunt Emma," I called. "I can't get Sophie out of my room. Could you call her or something?" I stopped short when I walked into the kitchen and saw that there were two women with Emma. They both turned when I walked into the room and looked at me curiously. I could tell that it was Sue and her daughter, Leah, because they looked so similar. They both had dark black hair, dark brown eyes and the same copper colored skin. One of them looked distinctly older, though, with laugh lines and a few wrinkles on her forehead. The younger one looked like she should be on a runway. Her skin was simply flawless, her hair seemed to shine even in the dull kitchen light and she was just so tall. She must have been at least six feet and what was worse, she had what seemed to be the perfect body. I felt hideous just being in the same room as her.
"Liz, this is Sue and Leah," Emma smiled, gesturing to the two women like I hadn't figured it out already.
"Hi," I said shyly.
Sue smiled kindly at me and then pulled me into an awkward hug. "It's so great to finally meet you, Liz. Emma's told me so much about you."
I pulled away almost immediately and smiled. "Good things, I hope."
"Of course," she said, still smiling. She turned back to Emma then and asked her how things were at the hospital.
I turned to look at Leah and noticed that she was looking me over. It was almost as if she was sizing me up, although I doubted I would be up to her standards. Someone that looked like that must only hang out with other beautiful people. I smiled at her and she narrowed her eyes and turned away. It was very clear that she was not interested in even speaking to me. I really hope Emma didn't plan on throwing us together a lot because Leah didn't seem friendly in the least. I walked over to the counter, where the other three women were congregating, and smiled shyly at them.
"So where's Seth?" Emma asked as she started pulling things out.
"Oh, he had to work later than he thought," Sue said, sharing a weird look with Leah. "He might be able to have one of his friends drop him off later, though."
"When did Seth get a job?" Emma asked, confused.
"The beginning of the summer," Sue said.
"Who hired him? Isn't he a little young to be working?" Emma asked, still confused.
"Sam Uley did," Leah said. "He's got Seth doing odd jobs for him around the rez. But it's off the books so... don't say anything to any tax officials."
"Oh," Emma said. She was giving Leah that look now, the 'I-feel-so-awful-for-you' look complete with the overabundance of pity that she had thrown at me more than once today. But why would she feel bad for Leah if her brother had a job? This town was stranger than I thought.
Leah continued to completely ignore me, no matter how many times Emma tried to start a conversation between us. I could tell by the obvious disappointment on Emma and Sue's faces that they had been hoping we would be best friends by the end of the night. Instead, I was forced to listen to my aunt prattle on about Forks Hospital and how awful it's been since some doctor left. It was the strangest thing, when Emma mentioned that doctor, I think his name was Cullen, Leah got the biggest scowl on her face, clearly showing her dislike for this doctor (although I don't think there were many people that Leah actually liked). And then Sue changed the subject quickly, clearly not wanting to talk anymore about this Cullen. It was all very suspicious.
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. "Hey Leah," I said, talking to her for the first time that night. "Come into the living room with me, I want to show you something." She glared but consented, following me into the living room. "Sorry, I just couldn't take it anymore in there," I explained once we were in the living room. "It was really awkward."
Leah actually smiled at that. "They seem to think that all everyone they're close with should be super best friends or something. You don't know how many times they tried to set me up with Ben."
"Before he came out, I hope," I laughed. I might have forgotten to mention that. Emma's son, Ben, had come out of the closet around three years ago now. It had all been very shocking for my family. I actually think that might have been the reason why he had moved out of the house, although I'm not sure. I didn't want to bring it up in case Emma was still a little sore about it.
Leah laughed too. I couldn't believe that we were actually having a civil conversation. I guess it goes to show that you can not force people together, you have to let them do it on their own. "Actually, it was before and after. They didn't give up until I started dating someone else." She stopped laughing abruptly and frowned. So much for the civil conversation, I guess. An awkward silence filled the room then. Leah grabbed the television remote and turned on some generic cop drama. I don't even think she was watching it, she looked more like she was lost in her thoughts than the show's storyline. I tried watching it but it couldn't hold my attention. After a couple minutes, I got up and tore open the boxes in the living room and started unpacking. Like I said, the clutter that those boxes make can really bother me sometimes. After that stupid show had ended, the doorbell rang, surprising both Leah and I. "Finally," Leah muttered, getting up.
She made her way towards the door but Emma came racing from the kitchen and got there first. She threw it open and said, "Seth! I was starting to think you were going to miss my dinner!"
I heard a voice say, "You know I would never do that, Emma."
She moved out of the way and I saw him for the first time. And, ok, I know it's starting to sound like a broken record. I'm getting sick of it too. It's like it's all anyone has been able to say since my father killed himself. Things will be different now. Or even the dreaded Everything's going to change. It drove me nuts. I didn't want things to be different and I certainly didn't want anything to change. They were perfectly fine the way they were. And that was why I could only see these changes as bad, horrendous even. But meeting Seth Clearwater opened my eyes to the fact that some changes can be good.