SEQUEL TO PROTECT HER. Quil is Claire's, heart and soul. At last, she is old enough for him to pursue hers... but can she overcome the terror and demons of her past to find true love?
I disclaim. This story is stolen from Ms. Meyer's beautiful universe. it is all hers, so please don't sue me. right. enjoy. oh, i reccomend you read Protect Her first. And review it. after every chapter. well, once at least. but seriously, read it or this will make no sense. and thanks to all the people who read, reviewed, and encouraged me on Protect Her. I couldn't have written it without the continuous support i found, and i hope this story will get a similar response.
12. Chapter 12
Rating 5/5 Word Count 540 Review this Chapter
I was expecting… well, something. Rage, or sorrow. Not the blank look of confusion that was all I could see in her perfect face.
“Are you mad at me? Because I would understand, if you are.”
“Why the hell would I be mad?”
“Because I left you there. For all those years, he was doing such terrible things, and I didn’t come and help.”
“But you didn’t do anything.”
“Exactly. Didn’t lift a finger when you needed me.”
“It wasn’t your job.”
“Yes, it was. It’s why I was made, Claire. To help you. To protect you. And I didn’t.”
“Haven’t we gone over this already?”
“You were a traumatized ten-year-old. I want to be sure.”
“I think I know what you want to hear. So I’ll say it. It’s the truth. Quil, it isn’t your fault. It was never your fault. There’s nothing you could have done. I forgive you.”
And it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Exactly what I needed. I had the one thing I’d desired. Sweet absolution—but it was not complete. Claire had forgiven me, but I had not—could not—forgive myself. Nonetheless, she had answered a question on a subject I know she’d prefer not even to touch with a large stick. “Thanks, Claire.”
“I’m mostly over it. Can’t you forgive yourself? Hating yourself isn’t helping me, you know. It isn’t making me feel better, it isn’t making what happened un-happen. It will always have happened, but it’s in the past. It’s not a secret anymore. It’s just a terrible, terrible thing that used to be part of my life. Now I’m as over it as possible, and I think you should be as well.”
“If you want.”
Her voice was quite firm. “I do.”
Suddenly, my mind flashed forward. I could hear that same sweet voice, saying those same words, sometime n the future. They meant something totally different and yet the same. Claire stood smiling, calm, dressed in a beautiful white dress I scarcely registered, because I was too busy looking at her…
And despite the different context, I knew what she meant, now and then.
“I love you too,” I said.
And she smiled.
What I had done, I never would forget. Neither would she. It would always be a shadow on our love. But we would love nonetheless.
I had everything I had ever wanted, now.
I had her trust. And I had her love.
I looked at her blindingly bright smile and ached to… I didn’t know. But something inside stirred like it always did looking at her, and this time that glee was filled with hope, because I knew she loved me too. Not perhaps as much as I loved her, but I wasn’t sure that was possible.
It didn’t matter, though. She was safe, inside and out, and she trusted me, and she loved me, and that was beautiful.
It was as precious as she was, this tender trust, and I would keep it safe with all there was in me, all that loved her…
And loving her was everything.
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