Enthralled: A Twilight Fanfiction

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of its characters.

Author's Note: To all who are eagerly awaiting the release of Breaking Dawn: congratulations! The time is almost upon us, and you haven't died from the suspense yet!

Jacob used to believe that Leah Clearwater was pretty.

Most of them had, of course. She had always been a looker. But no one thought of her like that anymore. Not after they had inhabited her mind, which was admittedly a dark and bitter place. But whose wouldn't be, after all that mess with Sam and Emily? Jacob could empathize, because in Leah's mind, imprinting aside, Sam was perfect for her. And in his mind, Bella was perfect for him. Behold the power of free will: it saves only those it favors, and feels no remorse from the slaughter of others.

It wasn't so hard to imagine himself in her place. The situations were similar, almost eerily parallel. Could've been, would've been, should've been. Leah place was in that little house with Sam. And his place was in Bella's arms. Not that it mattered, because neither of them was there. But still, it was a common ground. And Jacob needed ground, these days, because if he was left struggling through the sweet heat of denial much longer, he'd drown in it. Sometimes he wondered if it would hurt, to die from denial; after all, it didn't hurt to live in it. Denial was numb. And he wondered if Leah wondered the same thing.

Even through the veil of empathy, though, Leah wasn't pretty.

What Leah was, was bitter. She never tasted it though—always like too much nicotine on her lunch breaks, mingled with the cheap cinnamon breath mints from the drugstore around the corner from her work. And Leah tasted like blood, hers in his mouth, and his on her tongue. She tasted like release—like strawberry wine and chocolate on the beach on New Years Eve, so many years ago that the memory was faded in her mind. Jacob had always loved the taste of that in her mind, even though it wasn't him who she was thinking about. After all, he didn't have to be jealous, because Leah tasted like him.

It was just proof that bitterness didn't always lead to vengeance, and that vengeance wasn't ever all-consuming. Because even if Leah did want payback—and sometimes, Jacob wondered if she didn't, really, if she just told herself she did while she wallowed in the shallow enjoyment of masochism—it couldn't completely eat her, because that was his job. Because by default—nothing more, nothing less—she was his. And so Jacob tasted like Leah.

And, through her bitterness, Leah was alluring.

Their was something of a challenge about someone who didn't care anymore. It took a while for Jacob to really realize it—put a finger on the itchy feeling that haunted him when Leah would pull away suddenly from him and leave without speaking. It wasn't hard to rule out love; love implied commitment and fidelity and respect. He didn't possess the first two, and the third, while given, was wary. Neither was it hard to discard confusion, because Jacob always—always—knew what Leah was thinking.

So, challenge it was. It takes one to know one, and without knowing, how can repair work begin? So one can easily deduce that it takes one to fix one, and Leah didn't care, and Jacob didn't care, but subtly—he could never quite identify the beginning—he did. Not that it helped Leah, much, because then she was one, and Jacob wasn't, so how was she ever supposed to be repaired? Because Leah was broken and shattered bitter, and she never let him forget it.

Jacob didn't love her. But that didn't matter, because through him, Leah was beautiful.