Oh, man, DO I EVER HAVE HEADCANONS ABOUT LAURA HALE. DO. I. EVER.
She was always going to be alpha, and, like many children who grow up groomed for inescapable authority, I think that fact shaped her in ways she didn’t even realize. Before the fire, she took almost nothing seriously—it all seemed like a joke, compared to who she would be someday, compared to the unavoidable truth that she was stronger, sharper, more capable than almost everyone she interacted with outside of her pack. I actually think that’s part of what drew Derek to Kate, if I’m going to be honest; he grew up with Laura, who had this caustic sense of humor, who looked at reality as something to laugh off, who carried herself with the knowledge that she was a cut above her surroundings. So when he met Kate, with that same bitter humor in the twist of her mouth, with the same cutting laugh, with the same tendency to meet the day with the assumption that it was all a joke, it was easier for him to relate to her than it had ever been for him to relate to anyone before. I think that before the fire, Laura made pocket money by driving to Vegas and using a fake ID and her preternatural attractiveness to get a seat at the high-rolling poker tables. She could smell everyone’s bluffs and hear the excited jumps in everyone’s heartbeat, and it was so easy to take them that it was hilarious, the same way everything else was.
I think she lost that, after the fire. It’s harder to look at the world as a joke when the joke is on you.
I think she always knew, afterwards, that Derek was lying to her, that Derek knew the truth, that whatever the truth was, he blamed himself for it. I think she would’ve had to have known that, because I think she was always good at reading people, let alone people who were all the pack she had left. She would have forgiven him, if he’d told her. She would have forgiven him even if he hadn’t. She tried to, when they were running together, the six long years they spent avoiding the opportunities to rebuild—she wanted to, wanted him to believe it from her, because she knew it was the only way they’d ever move past it. Laura didn’t care what had happened, not really, because it wouldn’t matter in the long run. There was no knowledge that could undo what had happened, and while the idea of solving the mystery, of paying back blood for blood, was appealing, Laura knew there was more to life than revenge. I think she went back to Beacon Hills, went looking for answers, out of her desire to protect Derek more than any need to track her family’s killers. If that had been what she wanted, she would’ve done it at eighteen, or nineteen, or twenty-one. It was the fact that she could see it eating Derek alive, the fact that they couldn’t move past it until he did, the fact that his anguish brought it back every day, that drove her across the country. She wanted to know so he wouldn’t have to tell her. She wanted to know so she could offer him forgiveness, informed forgiveness, and they could finally, finally start over. She wanted to live clean.
I don’t think Peter was lying, when he said he didn’t mean to kill her, when he said it was madness that drove him to it. I don’t think he was even really sensate enough, at that point, to recognize what becoming alpha would do for him, to even put together that killing Laura would make him alpha. I think that, in the long drive across the country, in the weeks she spent wandering a town that hadn’t been her home since it was wrenched away from her years ago, Laura came to a peace she wasn’t able to reach with Derek around, always reeking of guilt and despair and lies he couldn’t be convinced to stop telling. I think Laura realized that it was over, that it was always going to be terrible and it was always going to hurt but it wasn’t happening anymore, that she could keep living—had to keep living—without them. I think she accepted it. I think she stopped burning, and that’s what Peter smelled on her, and that’s why he killed her. It was jealousy more than ambition, because what’s ambition to an opportunist, to a psychopath? It would’ve needed to be more personal than that, would’ve had to be the freedom wafting heavy off of her, new and so welcome that she let it run wild, carry her. I think if she hadn’t been so caught up in the loss of that weight on her shoulders, Peter would never have managed to take her down. I think the only reason he DID manage it, even with her distraction, was how horrified she was to think of abandoning that newfound peace to more of her family’s blood—on her hands, this time.
I think wherever she is now, whatever happens to werewolves when they die in a universe where people rise from the dead and ghosts wouldn’t surprise me, she forgives Derek. I think that, in the grand tradition of eldest sisters everywhere, there have always been times that she’s wished she could reach into his head and reorder everything into something that made sense, and there have always been times when she’s been so frustrated with him that she could kill him, but she’s always done everything she could to protect him, and she always would, too. I think Laura Hale always intended to be the only person allowed to mess with any of her brothers, and I think that, if she’d lived, if Peter hadn’t killed her, she would’ve found out the truth in the end. I think she would have taken it back to New York and ripped it open for him, all her caustic humor snarling towards all his dark repression, and I think it would’ve been the only way for either of them to heal completely. I think the greatest tragedy of this goddamn teenage werewolf show is the life she never got to live, the pack she never got to lead, and the things she and Derek never got the chance to say to one another—“I forgive you,” on Laura’s end, and “I hear you, I understand, let’s start something new together,” on Derek’s. It’s all either of them really wanted.