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Protect Her

Summary:
Quil is Claire's. He will do exactly what she needs of him. Even when her newly divorced father gains custody and forbids him to go anywhere near her, he does what's best... he leaves her alone. And then, after five long years, he realizes what's been happening to the one he was born to protect. He WILL save her, no matter what it takes.


Notes:
Quil/Claire. Yes, it's a little creepy. He's in love with a two-year -old. Mostly post-eclipse, will skip around a bunch... *disclaims*


9. Chapter 9

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Claire’s first day of school.

I literally bit my nails the entire time between drop-off and pick up, until Sam sent me on patrol.

And smacked me, but that’s too embarrassing to recount.

When she was in the car on the way home, I was so relieved. She seemed happy almost. Bright. Not like anyone had been mean to her. That was good… I didn’t feel very bad about the murder of one Jack Denson, but I drew the line at killing nine-year-old bullies.

“Hi, sweetheart.”

We were in the house now…

She looked up at me. “Why do you call me that?”

“Do you mind? I’m sorry.” I hoped it wasn’t making her uncomfortable… or, God forbid, reminding her of him.

“No… I was just curious.”

Claire knew I was a werewolf—he had told her, about all of us, and she had believed. She did not know what imprinting was… I didn’t want to scare her.

I didn’t want her to fear me. But perhaps it was time.

“You know what I am? A wolf, right?”

“Yeah.”

Amazing, with all her fears, how little it fazed her. “Well, we’re different than most people in lots of ways. Not just transforming… we can read each other’s minds when we’re in wolf form. And we imprint on people…”

I held my breath. What if he had told her some lie about imprinting, about me?

She did not cower, so I continued. “Imprinting is how we find the person who’s more important than anyone else in the world. When you were two years old, I saw you for the first time and imprinted on you.”

Her eyes opened wider and she ran.

Great.

I didn’t, couldn’t follow. I couldn’t scare her like that. So I waited. Eventually, she would come back.

It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

I couldn’t go after her. Couldn’t. Couldn’t. Don’t. Don’t think about the fear that you’ll never see her again, that you’ll never gain her forgiveness, that she’ll hate you and fear you.

Too late.

She tiptoes in the door and flinched when she saw me. As she turned, I called out, “Wait. Claire? Just a few minutes. You stay right there and I’ll stay right here. I promise I won’t hurt you, all right? I just want you to let me explain. This isn’t what you think.”

“Okay.”

She seemed to trust me. I choked back a rippling sob.

“There are other ways to love people than what he taught you, Claire. I would never want to hurt you in any way. That’s what love really is. I want to protect you. You are always safe with me. I would never do anything you don’t want me to.”

“Promise?”

“Pinky swear.”

She laughed like the sun smiling.

I laughed too, and she walked to me, taking my hand in hers. “I love you, Quil. I think you saved my life. I could never have gone on with him. I love you like…”

“Like you should have had a father to love?”

She nodded.

“I will be that for you, Claire. I will be everything you need. I swear.”

She sobbed once, and buried her face in my shoulder, weeping, weeping.