I'm not new to writing fan fiction, but this is my first attempt at a Twilight story. A friend of mine introduced me to the series and I really enjoyed it, so, this story is dedicated to her and her favorite shape shifter. Obviously, this story is mildly AU since it is a PaulOC story and for the benefit of my plot he didn't imprint on Rachel. Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the Twilight series.

Chapter 1

The snow was falling in slight swirl patterns from the sky as my dad carefully drove down the road. My younger brother, Derek, was listening to his ipod a little too loudly so the muffled sound of the latest rock band that he was into echoed slightly in the back seat of our SUV. I sighed quietly as I rested my forehead against the cold glass of the window and watched the scenery go by. We were traveling from Seattle to the reservation in La Push where my mother had grown up to spend the upcoming holidays with my maternal grandparents. I had always loved taking the trip just to watch the beautiful scenery pass by and it was no exception that trip, but it had been a rough year and the silence in the car was draining.

"Amanda," came my mother's voice from the seat in front of me and I lifted my head and looked at her profile as she had turned her head to look towards the back. "You brought enough of your medicine, right?"

"Yes, Mom, I brought enough for the two weeks we'll be here," I told her for the fifth time since we left the house. I loved my mother to death, but sometimes I felt like she still treated me like I was a little kid. I was seventeen and was about to be eighteen come the middle of January. Granted I had a few health issues now, but it wasn't like I was going to break. Over the summer I was diagnosed with Lupus after a three week stint in the hospital, and the last few months had been taxing on my body with the doctors trying to get my medications right.

I'd lost a rather large amount of my hair so it was patchy in places, but it had started to grow back now that I wasn't so stressed and since the doctor's had my medication pretty much figured out. I just wore hats to cover up the patchy spots, and with the knit cap I had on you couldn't even tell I had lost any of my thick shoulder blade length dark brown hair.

On top of the hair loss there had been the fatigue, which was still wreaking havoc on my body and I was always cold. It could have been ninety degrees in the house and I would still be walking around in thick sweatpants, socks, t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. Plus, I would be carrying around a blanket for good measure. The only positive thing about the last seven months was I had lost twenty-five pounds. I'd always been a bit on the heavy side, so, the weight loss was a plus for me.

"Your mother just wants to make sure you'll be okay, Amanda," Dad said. "You don't have give her that tone." I sighed quietly as I returned my attention out the window.

"Sorry Mom," I said softly, apologizing to her. She didn't say anything back, but I knew it was because she didn't take what I said the same way Dad did. When I was diagnosed Mom became slightly overprotective and Dad became distant. Mom didn't want me to do much of anything, and it had taken my friends a lot of convincing to get her to let me go to a movie with them the weekend before. However, where Mom cared too much, it seemed like Dad just didn't care, and that hurt more than I wanted to admit.

It wasn't like I didn't take my condition seriously. I really did. I knew living with Lupus wasn't going to be easy and that I had a very good chance of not living to be as old as my grandparents or even my parents; but I just wanted to actually live my life, disease or no disease. Mom almost didn't want to make the trip to La Push, but I insisted on it. It was there, in my grandparents' modest home that was surrounded by thick trees, where I felt the most at home despite growing up in the city. Sometimes I couldn't help but wonder why Mom ever wanted to leave La Push, but I should be thankful she did. If she hadn't, she would have never met Dad and I wouldn't be alive.

Soon, Dad turned the black SUV down the familiar driveway of my grandparents' home and I was the first one out of the car after it came to a stop. My excitement at being there had been growing as we drew nearer and my fatigue was replaced by a rush of adrenaline as I took in the house in front of me. I did a small twirl in the falling snow before I laughed and raced towards the house. Grandma was opening the door as I ran up the steps of the covered porch and she laughed as I embraced her tightly.

"Amanda!" she cried happily as she hugged me back. After a second we pulled apart and she smiled at me. "Well, looking at you now, you wouldn't know you were ever sick," she said through her smile and I smiled back until Derek spoke behind me.

"You should see her without the hat," he said before he trudged past us and went inside with his bag.

"Derek," Mom chided as she adjusted her grip on her bag and came up the steps of the porch, but my fifteen-year-old brother acted like he didn't even hear her as he went upstairs.

"It's fine, Mom," I said. "I'm used to it." She sighed heavily before the three of us went inside. I stayed back and held the door open for Dad as he carried his and my bag inside. "Thanks Dad, sorry I forgot get my bag."

"I got it, Amanda," he said. "I'll put it up in your room." He gave me a tight-lipped smile before he passed me and went upstairs. We always stayed in the same rooms every time we came, so much so, that we all even kept personal items there for when we came back.

Three of the bedrooms were upstairs while the master was on the first floor so my grandparents didn't have to climb the stairs if they didn't have to. They had remodeled their house with the help of a few of the men on the reservation three years ago. They said they didn't want Derek and I sleeping in the living room any longer and that we deserved a decent place to sleep. So, they remodeled the upstairs, adding two more bedrooms and a half a bath in the one that I always occupied.

I closed the door and as I unbuttoned my jacket, the adrenaline was leaving me made me feel tired yet again. However, I pushed away the feeling and headed towards the kitchen where I knew I would find Mom and Grandma. Sure enough as I walked in the two were chatting away as they sat at the table in the kitchen. Mom's bag was next to her and I walked over to her.

"You want me to take this upstairs?" I asked and Mom looked up at me and smiled before she nodded. I grabbed the bag and headed back into the foyer and then up the stairs. I had no more sat Mom's bag next to Dad's on the bed when I heard Dad talking to Derek in the room next door.

"Derek, you need to quit giving your sister a hard time," he said.

"Dad, she's not even sick anymore," Derek said, "I don't know why everyone keeps making such a big deal about it."

"She's still sick, Derek, why do you think she takes so many pills every day? It's to keep her from going back in the hospital," he said. I felt bad for eavesdropping, but Dad actually sounded angry with Derek for his earlier comment.

"Why doesn't she just go back to the hospital? All she does is sleep anyway," Derek said and that comment hurt worse than the one about my hair, but it wasn't like he hadn't said it before. I was just surprised he was brave enough to say it to Dad.

"That's enough, Derek," Dad said tightly. "I know everything has been hard on you too, but can you put aside whatever animosity you have for her aside? It's Christmas time, and we should be thankful she's even here with us."

"Fine," Derek said dejectedly. "I'll try and be nicer."

"That's all I ask," Dad said and I quickly went back to the bed and acted like I just sat Mom's bag down and was turning to leave. "What are you doing Amanda?" he asked when I turned around and saw him standing in the doorway.

"I brought Mom's bag up for her since I was coming up to my room," I said. "I wanted to take off my coat and shoes, and grab a blanket." He nodded and continued on his way downstairs while I moved to my room across the hall and closed the door. I sighed as I pulled off my coat and hung it up in the closet. After taking off my tennis shoes and putting them on the floor of the closet, I went over to the bed and opened my suitcase. I had to unpack, but I really didn't have the energy. So, I just took out the few things I needed at that moment.

I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and my socks, but as usual I was chilly. I took my medicine bag out of my suitcase and sat it on the nightstand before I pulled out my thick dark blue hoodie that I practically lived in. It was the warmest thing I owned and sad to say it became like a security blanket for me. I pulled the hoodie on over my head before I went to the vanity.

Taking a deep breath I pulled the hat off my head and frowned at the bald patches that were visible now that I was no longer wearing the stylish knit cap. My hair was naturally thick, so when I wore the hat my hair loss barely showed but it was still embarrassing to see if I wasn't wearing a hat or a scarf. I brushed out my hair with a brush from the vanity before I put the hat back on my head. I may have been comfortable around my family, but I didn't want my grandparents to see the bald spots. Before I left my room, I grabbed a blanket from the top shelf of the closet and headed downstairs.

"There you are," greeted a deep and aged voice as soon as I stepped off the last step. I looked up and smiled at my grandpa who had his arms open and ready to hug me. I laughed and quickly rushed into his open arms, taking in his scent of the cold from outside and faint tobacco.

"Have you started smoking again?" I asked as I lifted my head and looked up at him and he chuckled.

"Please don't tell your grandma," he said. "I don't do it often, but she'll have my head." I sighed as I shook my head, but I relented and nodded my agreement.

"I won't say a word," I said and he smiled. I often wished that I got more of my mother's Native American genes instead of my father's Caucasian features. My mother, like her parents, had beautiful russet skin; deep brown eyes; and black hair. My complexion, as well as Derek's, was more like coffee with too much milk; and where Derek got the brown eyes and black hair, I got dark brown hair and murky hazel eyes that sometimes looked more green than brown.

"Good," he said and he kept his left arm around me as he guided me into the kitchen where Dad, Mom, and Grandma were sitting.

"Amanda, you don't have to keep your hat on," Mom said. "You know Grandma and Grandpa won't say anything."

"I'm more comfortable with it on, Mom," I said as Grandpa lowered his arm and walked over to the table, taking his seat next to Grandma. She nodded her head and I took a seat at the table, and draped the blanket over my legs. When Grandma and Mom got chatting it was always fun to watch, and I settled in for a moment of entertainment.

Several hours later, after a hearty supper and after I had taken my evening medicine, we were all settled in the living room watching TV. Even Derek, which was damn near impossible to do at home. It was then that I noticed that something was missing. "Grandpa, where's the Christmas tree?" I asked with a frown. It was three days before Christmas Eve and the tree was nowhere in sight.

"Well, I thought that this year you and Derek could join me in picking it out," he said. "I'm planning on going up the trail tomorrow with San Uley and a few others. Do you two want to go with us?"

"Dad, I don't think-," Mom started, but I interrupted her.

"I'd love to," I said quickly with a bright smile.

"Not really," Derek replied before he returned his attention to the TV.

"Amanda, I don't think you should go outside in the weather," Mom said, focusing her attention on me instead of Grandpa.

"Mom, I'm fine as long as I take my medicine and I haven't had a spell in days," I said, referring to the fainting spells that usually followed overexertion. I was still getting used to the medication and I wasn't completely functioning on a normal level but I was getting better every day. "The trail isn't hard to walk and with Grandpa around, I'm sure I'll be fine."

"And if anything happens, Molly, Sam and his friends are all big and strong," Grandpa said looking at Mom and she sighed quietly. "They'd be able to get Amanda back to the house faster than you can blink." I knew Sam Uley only because he and a few of his friends worked on Grandma and Grandpa's house. I hadn't met all of them, but I did talk to Sam while he worked. Despite his somewhat stern look and terribly intimidating frame Sam was a really nice guy, especially since he put up with an inquisitive fourteen-year-old girl.

"All right," Mom said and Grandpa winked at me while I smiled so big that my face actually hurt. "But I want you to get plenty of sleep tonight, Amanda," she said. "If you even look the tiniest bit tired in the morning, you're not going." I nodded my head before I stood draping the blanket over my shoulders.

"Okay, then I'm off to bed," I said. It was barely eight o'clock, but I was exhausted and Grandpa chuckled quietly. I wished everyone good night and went upstairs. After washing my face and tying a black silk scarf my friend, Breanna, gave me for my birthday around my head I crawled into bed. The day caught up with me and I was no more settled into a comfortable position when the darkness of sleep claimed me.