A/N: As you've noticed, this is AU, meaning that in this story, Bella's lived in Forks all her life. Here, Leah Clearwater is her best friend and Charlie Swan is out of the picture. Jacob and Bella also don't know each other that well in the beginning. I used some of the lyrics, including the title of this fic, from the most amazing song ever - Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


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Fractured Moonlight on the Sea

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arms of the ocean-

deliver me.

...

"How could you?"

The aforementioned male lowers his gaze mournfully, inwardly jerking back at the onslaught of her wrathful words. Burnished eyes glare at him with such unforeseeable intensity, and he can't help but replacing those deep brown orbs with a lighter chocolate hue. It's happening again, where all he ever thinks about is her and this is not supposed to ever happen to him in this lifetime. His heart beats for opalescent skin, he breathes for the very chestnut hair and the body swathed with sharp indentions and graceful lines-

Jacob vaguely feels his face twitch the side at the rough assault of Leah's palm against his cheek. The she-wolf automatically knows that he was thinking about that girl again, and the air around the pair crackles with the vibrations of her ever growing anger. Embry and Quil, ever his loyal best friends, let loose deep growls at her sudden attack. Their Alpha is mildly afraid that Leah's volatile enough to phase right here in the vicinity of everyone there present at First Beach.

"Calm down, Le—" Sam is brutally cut off when Leah shoves at Jacob's torso severely, although it doesn't budge the tall boy by much.

"She's my goddamn best friend, Jacob!" Unfortunately, her violent scream does not go unnoticed to all those around. At least Jared is smart enough not to provoke both Leah and Sam by dutifully shooing the nosy watchers away from the scene.

He shakes his head imperceptibly. "She's meant for me, Leah." And it's almost desperate the way Jacob manages it out, how the title of a soul mate holds just a bit more value than the title of a long-time friend. "I never wanted this to happen either—"

Leah hardens the trembling fist that just wants to punch something. "Why now, Jacob? Huh?" In all honestly, that is the question he himself is fiercely trying to figure out. "You've seen her come and go through the reservation all the time. Why imprint on her now?"

"Because..."

cathedral, where you cannot breathe-

It's not enough and even that singular word sounds stupid to him. With a low snarl, Leah leaps in the air, still thankfully human, and pounces on him with a force that doesn't correlate with her slim body. Every instinct in him screams to throw her off or fight her back, but he doesn't think he has the right to do that to Leah. He deserves this, he deserves this.

Yet, Sam is there to pry her body away from him, quick enough to peel her away from creating any lasting damage. Jacob doesn't dare stand up again, prompting to remain sitting down and letting his copper hands run through the warm grains of gritty sand.

And now Sam, Paul, and her younger brother Seth are dragging Leah away, her cries going uncovered ("You stay the fucking hell away from her, you hear me, Black? I don't give a damn if it kills you – you're not going to touch her!")

Just a week ago from this day, Jacob had imprinted.

...

Bella lets out a sharp intake of breath, not because of the giant wolf meandering in front of her, but the fact that it's him. She's never seen anyone else's wolf form except for Leah's.

They shouldn't even be in this position because she has never wanted to be in a relationship and he's always hated the idea of the forced, involuntary love that comes with imprinting. Incuring more of Leah's anger isn't worth over this. But she thinks that Jacob is absolutely magnificent as a wolf as he is human, every inch of the russet-colored fur within him. He stalks towards her like prey, undeniably quiet as any practiced predator should be, but the gleam in his eyes is filled with such unadulterated passion.

I would never hurt you, she could almost hear him say that, just by his wolfish expression (no pun intended).

Her arms reach out on their own accord – and what the hell is she doing in the woods in the first place? – at the same time his large head leans down to her. All of the sudden, she's filled with indescribably warmth, of relentless protection and security. Bella wraps her thin arms around his neck, hearing his silently whispered love for her through his loud, thrumming heart. Her nimble fingers stroke through his fur like she's touched him before, actually satisfied once he careens in volume at her ministrations.

"You're like the sun," she murmurs quietly, her lips quirking into a charming smile when his snout nuzzles at her cheekbone gently. He tilts his head to sniff her hair, taking in the fragrance of sweet honey and apples, the scent that ultimately lingers in his dreams. "Leah doesn't feel this warm when she's a wolf, so I'm guessing it's just a Jacob thing."

If it is even possible, Jacob's heart pounds ten times harder after that statement. Bella's always in control, always calm and collected and never so easy to get riled up, but reverie causes him to sense the slight adoration in the undertones of her voice.

...

Here's a secret: he doesn't sleep well at night anymore. It's the mantra I love her I need her I want her badbadbad that pounds into his mind like grating nails on a blackboard. Every night he phases, and every night he races to Forks. He believes, because he has to, that guarding her fenced house near the forest is close enough to protecting her physically.

Another secret: she thinks of irony every time her fingers play with the dream catcher he's recently made for her hanging at the top of her headboard. If it's supposed to catch all the nightmares, why does she always dream about him being ripped from her arms?

...

They're all at the beach again.

It's been a month since what is dubbed as JacobandLeah – more like Leah screaming her bloody head off – and they all think it's safe to progress out into the world as a united and dysfunctional family again.

Lucky all the wolves are good at slightly forgiving, and tremendous at forgetting. It's subtle at first, but Embry sees the way Jacob's wandering eyes follow the drastically skinny girl in the process of jumping between rocks and boulders. His friend is torn from looking hungrily at the pale shoulder being shown in effect of Bella's oversized shirt and the dark swimsuit underneath and feeling overwhelmingly afraid that she just might cut or scrape herself on those rocks, despite her light and weightless movements on them.

No one stops Jacob from picking himself up from his chair and walking in the direction of the rocks, not even Leah, who narrows her eyes dangerously but lacks the energy to cause yet another scene on the same beach. Someway, somehow, they're always going to gravitate to one another, finding each other where the other doesn't want to be found. Leah clutches her fingers and turns away jaggedly, refuses to look because the ardorous intensity found in Jacob's gaze assuredly rivals what is seen in Sam whenever he looks at Emily.

She lets out a little laugh at the moment of his approach and Jacob closes his eyes briefly to relish in the sound. So musical, so pure, so entirely and effortless Bella that it's quite hard to catch his breath when he repeats her laughter in his ears.

"You don't need to watch me, you know." But that smile is still controlling the contours of her face, and damn it, it's like the fucking sun shining on him and he feels guilty basking in it like the selfish bastard he is. "I'll be fine."

"Just making sure you don't fall to your death or anything," he responds with his own cheeky grin that betrays all the emotions bubbled up inside him. It's unhealthy for werewolves and their imprints to be separated on not interacting on a daily basis. Not to mention that fact that they were actually ignoring this imprinting process for a month now is pretty much unheard of.

But he doesn't want to ignore it anymore.

and the crashes are heaven for a sinner like me-

"We're supposed to be fighting this," Bella draws her eyebrows together as she looks off towards the salty-crusted sea.

An inaudible sigh escapes his lips. It surprises (hurts) her how broken it sounds. "Maybe..." Pauses, exhales quietly. It has to be no more than a murmur because he isn't the only one with supernatural hearing. "There's the chance that we – that we could—" be together is what should have followed those words, but he can't bring himself to say it. The fruitless hope in thinking that will only break him.

Bella jumps to another rock. "We don't believe in imprinting, remember?" With grace undefined by a human such as herself, she pivots to a flat surface of a large boulder, somehow knowing that he will follow beside her on the sand.

He has no more words because he doesn't know what else to say. Anything and everything that should be spoken is barred by the invisible barrier that has unceremoniously planted itself between them. They don't want this imprinting to affect them, but they wholesomely do.

Jacob extends an open hand to her and it's all he can give without having a total breakdown right then and there. The elders don't like what they're doing, how they're attempting to break an old ancient law by slowly killing themselves, but it doesn't matter. After this is done, he'll go back to regarding her only as Leah's beautiful friend and she'll resort back to seeing him just as another Quileute boy.

Both of them will go back to friendly speaking terms and they'll never have to consider the what ifs or the could have beens. Once the imprinting string that holds them together is finally severed, he won't ever have to think about cradling her thin body in his arms or running his hands and pressing his nose in her silky hair. In his mind, he'll stop thinking about having the urge to kiss every inch of her framework, to have her bucking gloriously under him, to bite the juncture between her neck and shoulder and to mark her infinitely as his.

He's giving her freedom. At the price of a broken heart. (His.)

Thankfully, she touches her palm against his and intertwines their fingers together. Swallowing tightly, Jacob lifts their perfect, locked hands to his mouth and presses a kiss to them, caution and tremor flowing through his lips.

...

"Jacob, please..."

"I'm fine, Emily. Honest." liarliarliarLIAR-

"Can't you see this is killing you both? Trust me, Jacob, I've been through this before. Sam and I have tried to stay away from each other for the sake of Leah, but it nearly destroyed us. This has gone far too long—"

Deliberate sway of his head. "I'm not going to tie her to me. I won't do that to her."

"No one escapes imprinting, Jacob."

"You know what? I'm not hungry anymore."

...

She hears him howling through the woods at night. He sounds as though his heart is being ripped from his chest every single night, trampled and shattered for patronizing means. It's achingly painful to the point that she really can't ignore it anymore, and the very next thing she knows, she's quietly slipping past her mother's bedroom and outside the front door.

Bella doesn't ever find him on these nights, and wonders, for a moment, if she had been hallucinating the whole thing. But even with that thought in mind, it always eradicates itself when she hears that imaginaryornot howls of distress the next night.

...

Running a hand through her hair, pressing her hip down with the other as he leans down to taste those pretty raspberry lips. Far sweeter than they look, there's no hesitation in the way he plunges his tongue in her the moment her lips part.

They don't know where he ends and where she begins, but they are simply connected. Her legs are crossed around his waist, his velvet lips now latched onto the pillar of her throat as they rock sharply over and over again. The bed creaks with each intense thrust, the sheets underneath twisted ruthlessly by the doing of her fingers, their bodies slick and sticky with perspiration-

Jacob almost phases in his small bedroom while Bella tugs painfully at the ends of her hair.

A dream. Another completely stupid- hopelessly wishing every ounce of it was true- dream.

...

The chocolate-eyed girl feels him tense up. "We hardly knew each other before," she states in a somewhat matter-of-factly manner, lowering herself next to him on one of the steps of the front porch to Emily's house.

Fine, that fact may be true, but Jacob regrets not getting to know her better before...this. He knows what they have between them is imprinting, but he can't ever muster up the sanity to actually label what they have as him imprinting on her. It's something else – something much more deeper and intangible than he could ever imagine though the pressure's hard to take-

"Your favorite color is purple."

Bella blinks owlishly at his response. "What?"

He suppresses a bittersweet smile at the bland inquiry. "Your favorite color is purple," he repeats with a Bella-like arch of his eyebrow, turning just so she could witness the gesture. "You're always hungry, no exceptions. On Saturdays and Sundays, you tend to sleep until two in the afternoon before finally waking up, regardless of anyone yelling at you to wake up. You're kind of a klutz sometimes, but there are other times where it looks like you're simply gliding..."

And it strikes her then that just because they didn't know each other that well before, doesn't mean it can stop him now. Every time she's looking away, Jacob takes the time to observe her, to mentally take notes about her traits and habits, to perk up his ears any time the mentioning of her name comes up in all conversations.

"You're a bit of a masochist, from what Leah's been complaining about during patrols. You purposely annoy Leah because you know it brings a smile to her face every time you do it. You're lazy as hell but you're—"

"Well, I wouldn't say lazy," she cuts in with a dry drawl. "Just unmotivated."

An amused smile lightens up her entire face, and Jacob flutters his eyes close for a short second. Part of him can't bear to look at her, but the more powerful side of him gives into temptation and would rather stare at her forever.

His whole arm jolts when he feels something cold on his palm. And then he realizes that its her hand enclosed in his. It's odd how she feels so much like one of those bloodsuckers, but he can smell that she's human. She's a glacier of ice and he's one hundred and eight degrees.

They shouldn't work. So he keeps making up lies like that to placate himself.

...

Two months have passed already. The pack notice that on some days, all Jacob can ever think about is Bella but on others, his mind is eerily blank of thought. Like it's not worth it to think of anything else.

...

Leah crosses her arms about her torso. "You're serious about this, aren't you?"

"It's imprinting, Leah," Jacob can't help but retort sarcastically. The roll of the female's eyes doesn't faze him anymore. "Of course, I'm fucking serious about this. We're meant for each other," he lets out a humorless chuckle that doesn't sound like the Jacob Black they all know. In fact, he hasn't been Jacob Black these past two and a half months. "To be together."

A little wistful. A little crestfallen. A bit more destroyed-

There is the momentary silence before the reluctant: "I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it." Because Leah actually apologizing is another thing entirely. "Believe it or not, your threats aren't the one keeping us apart. We just don't want to—"

"You're both too stubborn," the short-haired girl snorts, cutting Jacob's explanation efficiently. "Bella doesn't want to be in a relationship because she's independent and she can take care of herself and her mother," she stops as the male winces at the information. "And it's not in your nature to abide by the rules, so naturally, you don't like how the imprinting system runs."

"That's not—"

"Let me talk," Leah snaps at him with the familiarity of her well-known bark as a she-wolf. "Imprinting or not, you've fallen in love with her. Everyone sees the way you look at her, Jacob, and it kills some of us to see that damn depressed look on your face. And fuck, I think she's fallen for you too. I'm sure you haven't figured it out yet, but this is me giving you the okay to claim her or whatever."

Jacob chuckles shortly, and this time it sounds more like him. "I'm so honored to have your permission." His grin widens at Leah's abrasive response to him ("Damn right you are."). "But I don't think it's going to happen." God, why does it hurt so much? "By the way, do you mind telling me why you were so opposed to me imprinting on Bella anyway?"

She bites her lip, looking as though she's not going to breathe a word for her reasoning behind her anger. A soft, gentle expression flickers through her face and it's so uncharacteristic of her that Jacob blinks to see if he's really seeing what's in front of him.

"It's not just you specifically." The corners of her lips twitch upward – he can see it from where he's standing. "I would have gotten bitchy with any of the others who would imprint on her. I didn't want her involved in any of this werewolf shit we're stuck in." Leah averts her gaze to the ground before sighing subtly. "She's always been there for me, and I mean always. Since my thing with Sam and Emily, since my dad's death, since my phasing – everything. I don't want her involved because Bella doesn't deserve to have her life endangered by us."

Us. Fucking large wolves.

"I'd never let anyone hurt her," Jacob's breath of words was too quiet to be considered a murmur. "I would have protected her...I would have kept her safe." Loved her cherished her adored her-

"You still can, idiot."

...

Following the abrupt, loud knocks to her front door stands a willowy girl, her dark hair tossed in a sloppy bun atop her head, a pint of vanilla ice cream cradled in the crook of her arm, and a silver spoon dangling from her sinuous lips. The instinctive expression of blatant irritation disappears from her face gradually the moment she looks into familiar brown eyes. The program from her television fades with the background as she tilts her head up just to stare at his face.

She has never looked more beautiful.

"Bella?" voice a delicate whisper-

The girl is actually grateful that her mother's out of town. "Jake? Did something happen at—"

Words fail her, for once, when she notices his whole appearance at her doorway. His large shoulders are hunched forward when they shouldn't be, bloody scratches loitered all over his solid torso. It's not possible, but it seems as though he's actually lost weight and that's not supposed to happen because shape-shifters like him should maintain all that muscle tone. He looks vulnerable and horrendously sleepless and exhausted (but so so beautiful because he's looking at her like that...)

And suddenly, she's huddled in his arms, both strong and weak. "I couldn't do it anymore, Bells." Her heart practically sings at the nickname he's given her. "I can't," he mumbles into her brown hair and it takes most of herself not to sob at the fragility of his tone. "I know I'm selfish, but I don't care anymore-"

Bella stops him by pressing her lips to his.

The moment her mouth catches his, she can feel him almost sag against her, too tired to fight it now. Fine, so she's a closet romantic, but she swears she can feel her soul reaching towards his, the ties that keep them rooted to this planet molding around each other with no chance of ever letting go. The revelation is all wonderful, earth-shattering, and scary to embark on.

They've both been so stupid. Why fight something that's just meant to be? Why tamper with fate?

She pulls away just as he's cupping the nape of her neck for leverage. He doesn't want to ever stop kissing her and neither does she -tasting his lips foreverforeverforever- but it's quite cold outside.

"Wanna come in?" Bella asks with that pretty arch of her eyebrow. Jacob can't help it - he swoops down and places a short, sweet kiss on that eyebrow. It's amazing how happy he is to hear her bubble of laughter after the gesture before her eyebrows wiggle suggestively. "I'm watching Teen Wolf."

He erupts into laughter after she says that, and to be honest, it's been such a long time since he's laughed like that. Without care, without the painful ache, now surrounded by her individual, undying love...

In no possible way can she see the future. But Bella highly predicts that the both of them won't be watching the TV program all that much. Too preoccupied with more important things.

not giving up just giving in-

/fin