Leah was once a stranger to joy. She had thought it much like handstands—sustainable for a few seconds, probably headache-inducing after that. But the past month had been less headache and more lightheaded—in her happiness, she had become some lighter, brighter facsimile of herself. And somehow, it was okay. As August bled into September, their outings expanded to include movies, dinners, and even a bonfire in La Push. But it was back on the trail, lips stained dark with late summer berries, that he finally kissed her.
She was still the fastest runner in the pack, even if she now scheduled patrol to coincide with his night classes. She still wore sports bras most days, and bickered with the boys, and slept until noon. And she was still a fallow, shapeshifting teenage girl, cynical but smitten. She would always be a werewolf. But if Kyle could love her for her sharp mind (and equally sharp tongue), then maybe he could love her sharp teeth as well. She, in turn, could love his quiet strength, his easy laugh, his kindness. Each passing day revealed some new facet, so that he sparkled in her eyes like a gem. No obligation, no trick of biology had made him so precious to her. She had chosen to love him, and to let herself be loved.
And that, in the end, made all the difference.
Thank you to everyone who read, reviewed, or recommended this story. Special thanks to greeengoldfish and the members of the_gazebo, both for the initial prompt and for the tireless support. I lurk there as slow_asleep. Feel free to harass me sometime.