DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The legends of the Quileute belong to them. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thanks to my betas feebes86 & Mist, and prereader Juliangelus for their work on this story.

Prompt for GeezerWench: New Moon. Chapter 10, The Meadow, page 242 (hardback edition)

Bella is in the meadow without Jacob, searching for the "vision" of Edward. Laurent appears. They blather back and forth to each other. (Blah-blah Edward hallucinations blah-blah) Laurent says Bella is "mouthwatering." Laurent is startled by a scent. Looks to his left. Says, "I don't believe it," and backs away from Bella. Here comes a giant black wolf! Followed by four others in a V formation. Wolves focused on Laurent. Bella is fearful. As Sam-wolf leaps for Laurent, large grey wolf-Paul begins a leap toward Laurent but catches Bella's scent, twists in the air to drop in front of Bella. Bella falls backward. Paul stares into her eyes, licks her face then charges off after Laurent with the rest of the pack.

A/N: There are extracts from "New Moon" in this chapter.

4th March 2006

PaulPOV

It was a quiet Saturday afternoon. I was chilling at Sam's place eating some of Emily's muffins and playing Grand Theft Auto III with Jared. I hadn't been a wolf for all that long, just long enough to realize that it was a life that was going to be equal parts exciting and awful. As I hammered away on the controller, my wolfy reflexes helping me to win, my mind started to wander.

Embry and Jake were patrolling together. We didn't really expect when all of this started that we'd need to do too much but that skinny hokw√°t, Bella Swan, had helped to make things worse for everyone around here.

First she went and had a romance with a corpse. He might have looked like a good-looking guy to her, but to us he looked like a crystal, and smelled like he was about a century overdue for a decent burial. The scent of those Cullens burned my nostrils. I hated them, and was glad to see them go.

Then, when they finally did go, they left their little pet behind, and she'd run after her hero through the forest, trying to follow him to wherever he was going without her. That girl was crazy, or stupid, or both.

He'd done her a favor, but she didn't see it that way. Sam, Jared and I had been called on by the Elders to go and look for her in the forest. She wouldn't have lasted the night if we hadn't found her; if the damp and cold didn't get her a wild animal or worse would have. She was a danger magnet alright.

Ever since then, she'd dragged herself around like she was trying to mourn Cullen by becoming like him. Because every day she came closer to ending up a corpse herself. That only changed a couple of months ago when she got those bikes, which was ironic. The pastime that brought her back to life just might kill her...

The other thing that family did, with their undead version of playing house, was they attracted other leeches to the area. Maybe if they'd never come, or not stayed as long as they did, some of us would have been spared our lives as wolves. Every now and then we'd smell that sickly-sweet bleach smell, but we hadn't caught anyone yet.

My musings were interrupted by howling; Jake and Embry had come across something in the forest. The three of us, Sam, Jared and me jumped up and ran out the door towards the woods, shedding our clothes once we'd reached the cover of the trees, and leaving them there to save time. I was going to grab my matches, but then I remembered that the patrolling wolves always took some.

We ran towards the sound of the howling, which we could see in our minds was near to a clearing deep in the forest. Once we'd made contact with the others, the howling stopped and we ran silently.

The news was chilling; there was a red-eyed Cold One near the clearing, and a human in it. If we didn't get there in time the Cold One would kill the human. As we approached the edge of the forest near the clearing we heard voices.

"...I'm quite thirsty, and you do smell... simply mouth-watering."

"He'll know it was you... won't get away with this."

"And why not?" The Cold One continued, "...no-one will find your body... there's no reason for Edward to think of me...nothing personal, let me assure you, Bella..."

Bella? Was this human Bella Swan?

She begged for her life. "Please," she implored him.

From our hiding place in the forest we could see him shake his head and then tell her how lucky she was that he'd found her and not Victoria, whoever that was, and that he'd make it quick. That she wouldn't feel a thing.

Luck wasn't a word I would have used. There was nothing this creature had to offer Bella Swan that she needed to be grateful for, and especially not a quick death. I rolled my eyes. Yet again, she'd managed to attract the attention of a Cold One. What was it, vampire radar? She was like catnip to those leeches.

Jake growled at me, softly, but I ignored him. We fanned out into a V-shape and advanced into the meadow as that red-eyed, dreadlocked carcass kept droning on about how he was doing Miss Swan a favor by offing her quickly.

She was skinny and dead-eyed, only half alive. He might have been right, but it was our duty to protect human life, so he was history.

And then he said, "...mouthwatering," for the second time. Kinda gross, telling your dinner twice how tasty they're gonna be.

Bella was cringing, waiting for him to strike, and she seemed distracted, as though the thoughts in her head were more real to her than the vampire who wanted to kill her.

We were moving as quietly as we could, but his vampire hearing eventually clued him into our presence. He turned in our direction, and when he spotted five enormous wolves headed towards him, he started backing away and said under his breath, "I don't believe it!"

We advanced slowly at first. Bella stared at us, her eyes widening from fear. It must have seemed as though she was either going to be killed by the dreadlocked dude, or by one of us. The leech looked like he was about to start running so Sam and I took off, Sam leaping in the air on one side of him and me on the other. I glanced sideways in mid-leap, my eyes meeting Bella's, and...

... The world shifted on its axis. This skinny human, this bag of bones, with lifeless eyes and a death wish, was everything and everyone I wanted in the whole world. I'd give my life for her, and maybe I was about to.

I shook my head, trying to dislodge the thoughts that now resided there. If I was going to save my love, I needed to have my mind on the job. Jake saw my thoughts and growled again, more loudly this time. Bella paled, and shook, falling backwards onto the ground. She was beginning to fear us more than the bloodsucker, and that would never do.

I twisted, and landed near her, dropping onto my haunches and dragging myself forwards slowly on all fours as she watched, fascinated but frozen in place. When I reached her I licked her sweet face from chin to forehead, and gazed into her eyes, trying to soothe her and drink in her beauty. I wanted her, now and forever.

The Cold One spun around, and took off towards the trees. I dragged my gaze away from Bella's limpid brown eyes, eyes that I could get lost in, and refocused on the dead dude that was nowhere near dead enough for my liking. We took off after him, running like the wind, paws pounding the bracken and undergrowth on the forest floor. Although we didn't know what was happening with Bella, we couldn't worry about that now. If we didn't kill this guy, he'd be back again or another of his kind might be.

About half a mile into the depths of the forest we finally caught him. The five of us converged from all sides, cutting off his routes of escape and knocking him to the ground. He was going to kill my imprint so I sank my teeth deep into the motherfucker's neck, while the other four took the limbs into their massive jaws and ripped them almost off, tearing at the exposed wounds with their claws.

He was immobilized, pinned down and weakened by our attack. I phased back, and snapped off the partially severed limbs, tossing them in all directions. I was naked, but to be honest I couldn't have cared less. I went over to Embry and Jake to get the matches, and Embry spat the box out of his mouth. My God it was disgusting carrying them that way; they were covered in drool, so I rubbed the side of the box on my leg and then opened it, removing a match.

I walked back over to the torso, leaned down, and twisted the head off. Then I kicked it a few yards away from the rest of the body, where it rolled to a stop at the base of a tree stump. After I'd made my way over to it, I righted it and placed it carefully on the stump, where it eyed me with a look of alarm. Waving the matches back and forth in front of my face, and then pointing them at the soccer ball, I began to laugh evilly.

"You know what this is for don't you, you bloodsucking fuck? This little box of matches is going take you out of this world, and the grass you've been above for far too long, and send you to the next one. And were going to do this slowly, one limb at a time."

I stalked him, walking in ever-decreasing circles around and around the head, moving in a little bit closer with each circuit I made. His eyes followed me wherever I went, and his torso and limbs twitched with the intent of trying to link up again. We weren't having that, no way no how. Each of the other wolves went over to guard a limb, and sat, pinning it down and growling softly.

I left the head and strolled over the left leg, taking it from Jake. Striking a match I put it to the opening at the top of the leg, from where venom was leaking, and held it there until it caught fire. The head scrunched up its features in a silent scream, but I kept going. After the leg was a pile of ash, I went onto the next one, and then an arm, and another arm, and finally the torso.

Five piles of ash, and a head that needed to be one. Sauntering back to stand in front of it, I planted my legs wide apart, put my hands on my hips, and spoke to him one last time.

"Say your prayers motherfucker, you're going to need them. I don't know if even the devil will take a mongrel like you."

And with that, I squatted down on my haunches, lit my final match, opened his lips nice and wide and dropped the bastard in. Seconds later the mouth caught fire and then the head and hair were consumed as well. He was alert up to the last second, as I'd intended him to be, but we stayed and watched until he was completely gone.

I scooped up a pile of the ash and placed it in the matchbox. Once I got home I was going to put it in a pouch and keep it as insurance that he was never coming back again, like the one Billy Black wore around his neck. The job done, I placed the box in my mouth as Embry had, resumed my silver wolf and took off back into the forest.

My heart ached; the distance from Bella made me physically sick. Instead of going back to Sam's with the others, I surrendered myself to the tug on my chest. After swinging by my house to grab some pants from the clothesline, I set out again in the direction it was leading me to.

I knew Jake didn't like it, but he had no claim on Bella and I didn't give a fuck what he thought. I'd only phased back human for long enough to spit the matchbox out and put it in my pocket; I wanted to show Bella the purple ash.

I found her hiking back through the forest. She seemed a bit lost, but she was heading pretty much in the right direction. I knew that imprints were allowed to know about our wolves, and I also knew that Bella was already immersed in our world, for better or worse. So I took a chance.

She'd stopped; taking a break from her flight to catch her breath. My pants were in my jaws; after dropping them behind a tree I yipped, and her head turned towards the sound. When she saw my wolf walking quietly towards her, she froze like she'd done in the meadow. Once I was about six feet away, I got down on my haunches and chuffed, lolling my tongue out to one side of my mouth.

Bella stayed still for a few minutes, maybe thinking about whether to come over to me or not. But she was curious, and so eventually she closed the distance between us, sitting cross legged on the ground in front of me, and reaching out with her hand. I tilted my snout upwards, scooping up her hand so that it would land on my head, hoping that she'd stroke my fur. And she did; it was the greatest feeling I'd ever known.

We sat there for ages, Bella stroking and patting me, and me just lapping it up. I rolled onto my side and she snuggled into me; perhaps she felt our bond too. Being this close to her was bliss, but she needed to know who I really was.

I jumped up, and bounded a few yards away from her, pausing to grab my pants in my teeth again. Some of the guys used those leg ties, but I could never be bothered with them. Without turning to face her, I phased back and quickly dragged them on, zipping and buttoning them up. Then I made a silent wish that when I faced her again, she'd still be there.

She was. When she realized who I was she was taken aback, but she stood it well.

"Paul? Paul Lahote? You're a wolf? Oh my God... that gang you're in... Sam's gang is a wolf pack isn't it?"

I nodded, but didn't speak. Far better to let her connect the dots.

"So... Jake is a wolf? That's why he's been avoiding me isn't it? He wasn't like you guys, but now he is, isn't he?"

I nodded again. You could almost see the wheels turning in her head. I'd said she was stupid, back in another time, a time I'd already begun to forget, but she wasn't that, not at all.

"And it was the five of you who saved me from Laurent... am I safe? Is he gone? He's a vampire, you couldn't kill him, you don't know how to and you don't have arms when you're wolves... omigod he's still out there isn't he?" She was getting panicky at the thought, almost hyperventilating.

I smiled brilliantly, baring my teeth, and winked at her. Then I did finally speak, "I can assure you Red Riding Hood, that this wolf has very sharp teeth. And although we don't eat Cold Ones, we can and do rip them limb from limb and set them on fire."

I took the matchbox out of my pocket, cupping it in my hands and shielding it from the breeze, then opening it slightly. Bella leaned over and sniffed the contents, wrinkling her nose at the foul smell, and examining the small pile of ash.

"This is Laurent?"

"This WAS Laurent. He's gone and won't hurt you again."

"Where's Jake? Why isn't he telling me this?"

"Jake's gone home for now. I insisted on coming here myself."

"Why? Why would you care about what happened to me?"

"I care very much what happens to you... tell me, do I make you feel uncomfortable?"

"No you don't, and that's funny because I hardly know you."

"There are reasons for that, but I don't want to overwhelm you. Maybe we could talk about it later. I'd like to take you home if that's okay, the forest really isn't a safe place for you to be in."

"I'd like that too. To be honest, I think I'm a little lost."

We fell into step beside each other, and began to head to where she'd parked her truck. I wanted to take her hand, I wanted it so badly I could almost taste it, but she was new to this and new to me and I was going to have to take things at her pace. Maybe one day...

She stumbled, and tripped over a log. I moved quickly to catch her, and as she fell into my arms I slipped one around her waist, holding her to me and burying my nose in her hair. We stayed that way for a few minutes until she got her breath back, and she drew away slightly.

Our eyes met, and then as if drawn by an invisible thread, our hands snaked together. I tilted her head up, and dipped my own down to meet it, kissing her lightly on the lips, and lingering for as long as I dared.

After our lips parted, she seemed to be deep in thought for a moment, and then, when I was about to set off again, she put an arm around my neck and drew me down to her level, kissing me experimentally, and far more passionately than I'd done to her.

I grabbed her and held her to me with all the strength I could muster, running my fingers through her hair and peppering her face and neck with kisses. I kissed her hair, her forehead, her cheeks, and up and down her jaw. I nuzzled her neck, butterflying each spot after I'd rubbed my nose there. And then when I was finished, my lips found hers again, and she returned it, our tongues exploring each other's mouths and our heads swimming with the intensity of it.

We sank onto the ground, still wrapped around each other, still kissing and cuddling. I wanted to take her then and there but it wasn't right to do that. We were in the forest and she was my imprint, my beloved, I wouldn't cheapen our bond like that. Besides, Charlie Swan had a gun.

Before I could lose myself in her completely I pulled away slightly, saying throatily, "I need to take you home Bella, before I lose my mind..."

She smiled at me, and my heart did backflips. "That's a shame," she giggled, "Because I think I've already lost mine."

This time, I put my arm around her waist and she mine. Intertwined, we made our way back to the truck, and I went with her back to Forks, back to her father, a man who would never know how close his baby girl had come to death today. I could live with him not knowing that. Then maybe someday when I went to see him to ask him for Bella's hand in marriage, because I already knew that one day I would, I could tell him about my furry problem.

And maybe, if he was as good with this stuff as his daughter was, he'd even accept a wolf as a son-in-law. My body was relaxed but my mind was racing; dreaming of a life with Bella and planning it already.