Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight
Summary: Leah is forced to realize that she and Esme have something very important in common
Written for fairgirl
Leah was a believer in the authenticity of first impressions, and once decided on how she felt about someone, wouldn't be coaxed or cajoled into thinking otherwise without monumental impetus to fuel the change of heart.
When she had first met Esme Cullen, she had labelled her a liar, because she was a creature that was human in appearance alone, and was so unashamedly pretending to be something she wasn't. As far as she could see, the sly woman hid behind a facade of maternal pride and affection for her children, and Leah couldn't see how a being designed to kill could ever feel anything so human as motherly love.
As time went on, and tales of her charity work, her rapport with all the other little wives of the town and her work in renovating houses went in one ear and out the other for Leah, she grew more and more disgruntled with the fact that nothing but a supernatural augmentation in appearance kept them flocking to her for advice and a glimpse of the bright smile that sent them fawning over her. It couldn't be because they actually liked her, even though they were unaware of what she was, and would have lead the typical pitchfork brandishing mob if they had. It was that same deceptive allure that had first drawn in poor, dim-witted Isabella.
It aggravated her how, after the doctor who had fixed him up, Esme was the one Jacob seemed to find least repugnant. He had a soft spot for all women, and with Esme this translated into simply ignoring her, which was better than how he treated Leah, no matter the incentive her provocation gave him. Rosalie was the only other exception, and he fought unabashedly with her.
She was filled with an unbearable resentment on the rare occasions the coven had met the pack, seeing them standing off with their mates, hovering protectively, as if they were as loved up as any wolf and their imprint. She was convinced they didn't deserve their cursed existences to be made any more tolerable, not when their arrival had made hers intolerable.
When Bella was pregnant, and Jacob had effectively committed treason by assuming his rightful position as alpha of his own pack, and to protect vampires and one singularly naive human who insisted on seeing the good in everyone no less, she had followed him, rather than staying with Sam, seeing it as the lesser evil. Jacob was grateful for her support, which soothed her slightly, but the gift of clothes that had that pretenders vague scent still clinging to them infuriated her all over again, and her pride prevented her from even considering accepting the gift.
Her kindness towards Seth incensed Leah. Although she knew better, that he wasn't really as shallow as that, she couldn't help but feel he had lost nothing in this whole scenario, while she was struggling to endure. He had left Sue, most likely without more than a note giving her warning that her son was jumping into the vampire's den, and had made an immediate beeline for Esme, who was only too pleased to tend to him and Jacob, cook for them, and would have done the same for Leah, if the thought didn't make her want to destroy something hard, glittery and obscenely chipper. He was being looked after the same as ever, and it felt like disrespecting their mother, who Leah knew would be out of her mind with anxiety.
Their little Cold War came to an end on either side, and the Volturi left after having done nothing worse than make meaningful threats in contradictorily friendly tones. Esme gathered her family about her, smiling gratefully at everyone, and Leah despaired, seeing how the monsters had come out of yet another sticky situation utterly unscathed, while her life was in even worse a state than it had been originally. Because if she only had a sham of a family, of pretending to be a mother to five adolescent vampires, it was still more than Leah would ever have.
It wasn't until the demon spawn, otherwise and affectionately known as 'Nessie' innocently questioned, not knowing that she was an anomaly, and that sterility was the norm for their species, to her grandmother if she could have more aunts and uncles, because the ones she had were so much fun. Leah was in the backyard, sitting on a wooden bench and trying to block out the conversation floating through the open window. Her lip curled, and she waited for her to laugh it off and spout some silly, romance novel fodder about how she was completely happy and how all of them were more than enough for her.
It didn't come. What did come, after an eerie silence, was the woman bursting out the backdoor like a tornado and a hushed conversation going on inside. Leah was too startled even to growl when she sat down beside her, shaking as she would if she were about to phase, her hair falling over her face.
"Aren't you going to ask me to move?" she asked after a while, stunning Leah by sounding almost as acerbic as her, but with more of a defeated edge. Cautious, Leah shrugged, and wrinkled her nose against the smell.
"It's your house isn't it?" she snapped. Esme said nothing for several minutes, and against her will, Leah's curiosity began to get the better of her.
"So what did the kid say to upset you?" she asked, tactless as always. The elder woman flinched.
Esme muttered. "I thought you'd have heard."
"I heard, doesn't mean I get it" Leah said sarcastically.
"Do you know how I came to be, Leah?" she asked coolly. Leah blinked uncertainly.
"You were bitten," she said slowly, not knowing what she was driving at.
Esme laughed derisively. "Carlisle only turned us four because we were on the verge of death. He found me in a morgue, assumed to be dead after I threw myself off a cliff, and turned me," she said matter-of-factly, though Leah could detect a quaver in her voice.
"You killed yourself?" she said, shocked.
Esme laughed bitterly. "I tried to, I was twenty six, and had run away from my abusive husband while pregnant with our first child. He was stillborn, and I couldn't see the point in living anymore." she said softly.
"So when the ha-Nessie, asked that, you were...reminded?" Leah asked weakly, reeling from the revelation that she actually had something in common with this woman, whom she had looked down on for so long, and something fundamental at that.
"I never forget," Esme murmured. Leah struggled with herself, wondering why in the hell she felt compelled to talk to her, when her husband or somebody should be doing it instead, but as per usual her mouth was moving faster than her brain.
Leah confessed. "I wanted kids really badly."
"You'll have them someday," Esme muttered. Leah bit back the angry retort that threatened to escape.
"Even if I imprinted, not that that's likely to happen, I won't," she said bitterly. Esme turned towards her, half looking at her through the curtain of honey coloured hair, waiting for her to explain.
Leah scowled. "I'm infertile. I haven't menstruated since I phased," she said frankly. Esme gasped in quiet surprise, but said nothing, and eventually Leah broke the silence.
"Thanks for not saying you're sorry," she said grudgingly. That was what all the others had done.
"No amount of saying sorry will bring my Robert back," Esme said sadly.
"Or make me fertile again," Leah sighed sullenly. If she didn't know better, she would have said the silence became almost comfortable after that, the two vastly different women reflecting on the circumstances that had robbed them of their greatest desire.
"I didn't like you before." Leah said suddenly.
"I know" Esme said, missing a beat.
The shifter almost laughed. "I'm thinking about changing my mind," she said, trying to feign nonchalance and pretend this wasn't going against every one of her principles. Esme finally tucked her hair behind her ear and regarded her thoughtfully, and Leah was surprised to note the ghost of a smirk on her lips.
"So am I. Perhaps there really is a nice, well mannered young lady lurking in there somewhere," she said wryly, and Leah threw her head back and laughed, not at all offended. She preferred this version of Esme, who wasn't afraid to give as good as she got.
"To think, all I had to do to make you like me was insult you," she said drily.
Leah snickered. You could bond over the most unexpected and tragic circumstances it seemed, and come out stronger in the end.