Hello, errybody! This piece was originally written for the Fandom for Mental Health compilation. It's an alternate universe story that takes place during Eclipse.
The beginning details of Edward's life are the same. Carlisle changed him in 1918, and he had a rebellious stage from 1927 to 1931. Where this story deviates is shortly after Emmett was changed in 1935. Struggling with the lifestyle and living among couples, Edward once again left Carlisle. Curiosity brought him to Volterra where he's remained a member of the Volturi guard ever since. Ergo, he wasn't present when the treaty was formed in 1936 or when Alice and Jasper joined the family in 1950. But he's still the same broody, self-deprecating Edward we all know and love.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, situations, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No copyright infringement is intended. Please do not repost this story elsewhere, even if you give me credit. Please do not plagiarize this story by changing the names and posting it elsewhere, even if you give me credit. kthxbai.
The Dreaming Dead
My fingers flew across the keys of the grand piano. I hit the notes perfectly, as always, but the song rang sour to my ears. Despite the whimsical melody, I couldn't shake the agitation and anger I felt during the time leading up to a hunt. It seemed lately I couldn't shake those feelings at all.
I read Heidi's mind before I heard her voice. She had returned with a handpicked selection of tourists, giving a faux tour I'd heard hundreds of times. It was my cue to leave. Hopefully I'd get far enough away before the screaming began.
It had been long enough since I last hunted that my eyes had darkened to pitch black. I walked the streets freely, not worrying about giving away my secret: that I was a vampire—one of many living among the humans in Volterra.
The Volturi had strict rules about hunting within Volterra. Rules I wasn't keen on breaking. Once outside of the city, I ran until I reached Montecatini Terme. I searched the minds of those around me, looking for someone who had done wrong, someone with ill intentions. I refused to take the life of the innocent, though I was well aware that I had no right to decide their fate. Ironically, I used my position as a Volturi guard to diffuse people like me. People who had too much power.
It didn't take long to find someone I deemed acceptable prey. It never did. That was what made the hunt so difficult. Were there really this many bad people in the world? Was I making it a better place? Or was it an excuse to justify my actions?
Sometimes I wondered if this whole vigilante act was just that—an excuse to drink human blood, a justification to offset the guilt.
I pushed the thought from my head as I grabbed the shoulders of the man whose life I was about to end. In less time that it took to blink, I yanked him from the street and into a dark alley. There would be no time for questions, no long winded speech about right and wrong. Before he understood what was happening, I snapped his neck.
The sun rose as I ducked into one of the tunnels the Volturi used to navigate the city during daylight hours. I heard my name in Eleazar's mind. If it were anyone else searching for me, I would have turned and headed in the opposite direction. But I respected Eleazar more than any other fellow member of the guard. If he was searching for me, he had good reason.
"Edward," Eleazar called when I came into view. "Aro has requested a meeting with you."
Though I frequently saw Aro within the castle walls, it was rare for him to request a private audience with me.
"Do you know what he wants?"
"No, but he said it was 'of utmost importance.'"
Eleazar escorted me to Aro's private chambers. Aro's thoughts were elsewhere. I couldn't get a read on what was in store for me.
"Thank you, Eleazar."
"I'll see you later." His parting thoughts were clear: he wanted me to keep him informed.
I knocked before opening the door. Aro stood, his arms outstretched.
"Edward! Please come in."
His enthusiasm to see me never wavered. I never could get a read on his sincerity. Being a mind reader himself, Aro had ways of protecting his thoughts from me.
"Sir," I said, bowing my head.
Aro held out his hand. I slipped mine into his. My every thought since the last time we met played in his mind. Though his power far outweighed my own, the intrusion ceased to bother me years ago. He was merely curious. He weeded out the mundane and idle thoughts, just as I did. We held a mutual respect for each other, in a way someone without our abilities couldn't understand.
Aro smiled and patted my hand before letting it go.
"There is no need to feel guilt, dear boy. We are not at fault for our nature." Aro had more opinions on the subject of human prey, but spared me the lecture. "I have an assignment for you."
Aside from the trials I oversaw, it wasn't often that Aro asked me to do his bidding. His thoughts remained guarded, putting me on edge. Under normal circumstances, he left his mind open to me—a display of respect. I didn't know what to make of his actions.
"I've received news of a large group of newborns in North America. I fear someone is creating an army."
"A newborn army," I said, frowning. "Like in the Southern vampire wars?"
"I don't understand. We've been aware of the situation in the South. The war has been going on for decades."
"Ah, yes. But this is different. These newborns are located in the North. In Seattle."
"What do you expect of me?"
"I want you to find out who is responsible."
"With all due respect, sir, why me? You've never sent me out of Volterra, let alone halfway across the world. This is a task for Jane or Demetri, not me."
Aro took a deep breath and pressed his steepled fingers to his lips. The wall containing his thoughts came down.
Dread pooled in my stomach.
"Carlisle's coven is located in the Olympic Peninsula. Suspiciously close to Seattle, wouldn't you agree?"
"You can't possibly believe he's involved," I said, not bothering to hide the disgust in my voice. "You think he plans to overthrow you? You've seen his mind. You know he has no interest in ruling our kind."
Aro shrugged. "Perhaps not. Still, if Carlisle isn't behind the newborns—"
"It doesn't change the fact that someone is," Aro snapped. "If this is a territory war, Carlisle is likely the target. You possess a gift, Edward. One that I find most beneficial under the circumstances. That is why I'm sending you. Jane and Felix will accompany you. You leave at dusk."
"Yes, sir," I said between gritted teeth. I turned to leave.
"Just because you can read minds doesn't mean you truly know a person," Aro said.
I stopped walking, knowing I hadn't been officially dismissed.
"Did you know Carlisle has expanded his coven since you were last with him?"
It was a rhetorical question. If I had any knowledge of it, Aro would have known. I held my breath as I waited for him to continue.
"Yes, very interesting additions indeed. He has a seer now—which is fascinating, though not relevant to this situation. Her mate, however, was the commander of a very prominent Southern newborn army. Coincidental, is it not?"
I had no response. I was confident Carlisle would never raise an army. At the same time, I was terrified I might be wrong.
"I'm not asking you to deal the hand of justice. I know how you hate doing that. Simply investigate the situation and report back to me. If there is a reasonable explanation, I'm sure we can work things out peacefully."
There wasn't a doubt in Aro's mind that Carlisle was behind the newborns, though he didn't want it to be true. I couldn't imagine what explanation he would deem reasonable. All I could do was hope he was wrong.
"You're free to go, Edward."
"What was that about?" Eleazar asked once we were alone in his rooms.
"Aro is sending me to North America. He believes Carlisle is raising a newborn army to wage war against the Volturi."
Eleazar laughed. "You can't be serious. Carlisle Cullen?" He envisioned Carlisle in the red Volturi garb. His golden eyes were a piercing contrast to the ones I was accustomed to seeing. "Carlisle is the most peace-loving vampire I've ever met."
"He isn't responsible for this."
"I have no doubt."
A question crossed Eleazar's mind. I hoped he wouldn't ask, but he did.
"Do you ever regret your decision to leave?"
"I couldn't stay with Carlisle. I didn't belong there."
"That's not what I asked."
I wanted my silence to answer for me, but Eleazar was nothing if not patient.
"I regretted it the first time," I said. "I was on my own for four years. I didn't think he'd take me back after that, but he did."
"If you regretted it so much, why didn't you stay?"
"I didn't fit in, and they didn't deserve to have me bring them down."
Eleazar placed his hand on my shoulder. "You deserve better than this life," he said. "You don't belong here."
I wanted to brush off his words as just that, but I heard the sincerity behind them. Eleazar was wrong. I deserved no better.
"Safe travels, my friend," he said. "Tell Carlisle I said hello."
The trip from Volterra to Washington took the better portion of a day. I replaced my brown contacts twice during the flight because my venom kept dissolving them. Seeing my red eyes in the mirror brought me nothing but shame. Why did I have to feed last night? Contacts might conceal my true nature from humans, but Carlisle would see me for the monster I was. My only hope was that we would get to the bottom of the newborn army without having to confront—or warn—the Cullens at all.
Aro chose wisely when he assigned the two guards to accompany me. He knew I would never allow Jane, with her irrational temper and ability to cause crippling pain, anywhere near the Cullens alone. The presence of Felix, who was usually only dispatched for combat or execution, made me equally uneasy.
When I wasn't busy worrying about what the presence of my travel companions meant, I found myself dwelling on the two new family members. With six members, Carlisle's coven was the second largest after the Volturi. Still, the Volturi was five times the size. Even with a seer, six vampires and an army of newborns were no match for the abundance of talents Aro had accumulated over the centuries.
There had to be another explanation.
I wondered what the seer and her commander mate were like. Probably just as insufferable as Rosalie and Emmett. I couldn't deny the jealousy I felt over them joining the family I left. At least Esme had more people to fill the void of my leaving for a second time.
My eyes stung. After all these years, I still yearned for a mother's love, for a family. Aro had been my mentor for the majority of my vampire life. Though my time spent with Carlisle was brief in comparison, I would always hold a fondness in my heart for him and the values he instilled in me.
Even if I wasn't strong enough to follow them.
Once we landed in Seattle, we made our way to the reported vicinity of the crimes, careful to avoid the patches of sunlight beaming through the mostly overcast skies. When we arrived at the abandoned shipyard, we were met with nothing but dried human blood and the hours-old scent of vampire.
"They weren't here that long ago," Felix said. "Let's follow their trail."
Each mile traveled brought us nearer to the vicinity where Carlisle lived. A sense of foreboding overwhelmed me. Regardless of whether he was responsible for the newborns, it quickly became clear that he was somehow involved. Jane and Felix were both focused on executing the newborns. Aro had only ordered me to recover information. If it came to a fight, I wasn't sure I could stop them from killing Carlisle and his family.
"Over there." Jane pointed to a plume of thick purple smoke hanging low over the trees. It meant only one thing: the army had served their purpose, and one side had lost. We quickened our pace.
The thick stench of death intensified as we neared the pyre, inhibiting my sense of smell. We followed it until we came to a clearing. Carlisle stood before a group of vampires huddled closely together. I refused to look at them, afraid to see Esme's face. A few feet away, a male stood over a cowering female. From their thoughts and the expression on Carlisle face, they weren't surprised to see us. The seer must have known we were coming.
"Carlisle," I said.
"Edward." Carlisle greeted Jane and Felix with a nod.
"It appears you've done our work for us today," Jane said. "Out of professional curiosity, how many were there? They left quite a wake of destruction in Seattle."
"Eighteen, including this one." Carlisle gestured to the female on the ground.
"Eighteen?" Jane repeated, sounding unsure. "And you did this by yourselves?"
A memory flashed in Carlisle's mind: a group of wolves—larger-than-life wolves—fighting alongside them.
"Yes." Carlisle's eyes shifted to mine, his mind pleading for my silence. "They were all brand-new, unskilled."
Jane assumed the horrified look on my face was due to the coven's combat skills. She looked at the fire in the center of the clearing, assessing its size. "If they were all newborns, then who was their creator?"
"Her name was Victoria."
"Who dealt with her?"
Again, the image of a large wolf appeared in Carlisle's mind.
"I did," he said.
"Is he telling the truth?" Jane asked me.
"Yes," I lied.
"Who is she?" Jane nodded toward the female on the ground. Her scarlet red eyes watched us with apprehension. She was confused, scared, and overcome with blood lust.
"That's Bree," Carlisle said. "She surrendered."
"Surrendered?" Jane and Felix exchanged a glance.
"As long as she was willing to halt her attack on us, I saw no need to destroy her. She was never taught."
"There are no options for those who break the rules. Felix?"
On Jane's command, Felix made his way toward the newborn. Carlisle diverted his eyes. Though he was disappointed in the outcome, he expected no less from us.
The man standing over Bree backed away. His arms and face were covered with bite marks that had long since healed—wounds only received during a war. He must have been the commander. I was immediately suspicious of him, but there was nothing in anyone's thoughts that lead me to believe Carlisle had lied about Victoria. As he stared in my direction, I realized he was sensing my emotions. He had a gift. Aro must not have known.
It made me uncomfortable to have a stranger privy to my mind, but he wasn't actively processing the information. Only observing, in one ear and out the other, as I so often did myself.
In his mind, I felt my fear.
Because I did fear.
I feared what would happen once Aro discovered Carlisle had allied with Children of the Moon.
I flinched when I heard the deep, rumbling growl and high-pitched keen. The sound cut off quickly, followed by a sickening crunching and snapping as Felix dismantled Bree's corpse.
Just then, the wind picked up, clearing away some of the lingering smoke. The scent of human blood assaulted my senses. It burned like nothing I'd experienced before. Jane and Felix smelled it too. There was a human among us. With the pyre burning so strongly, none of us had noticed.
I focused on the group huddled behind Carlisle for the first time. Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett stood shoulder to shoulder, blocking two women from view. Sure enough, one was a human. She peeked around Esme's shoulder and stared at me with brown, terrified eyes. A fourth vampire I didn't recognize—the seer, perhaps?—stood beside her, holding her hand. I searched the thoughts swirling in my mind, trying to hone in on the human's, but I couldn't find her inner voice. I couldn't focus with the scent of her blood on my tongue.
"Who is she?" Jane asked.
"Her name is Bella," Carlisle answered. "She's with us."
"Allowing humans to know of our existence is in violation of the rules. Deal with that too, Felix."
Their responses were immediate, a sharp contrast to the reaction to Bree's fate. Carlisle and Jasper moved into position in front of the others. Carlisle's thoughts turned to pleas. Bella was human, but she was as much a member of their family as any of them, as I had once been. Esme would be devastated. They knew they wouldn't win a fight with Jane involved.
"Stop!" I yelled. Felix froze. Jane turned her gaze to me. "Your orders were to dispose of the newborns. We have no further business here."
"They've broken the law," Jane said matter-of-factly. "We don't make exceptions."
"Aro will get a full report. If he wants to try them, that's his decision."
Jane glared at me. I was sucking the fun out of her assignment. She considered using her gift on me, but decided against it. At least for the time being.
"Aro should have never put you in charge. You're bad for our reputation." She turned her attention to Carlisle. "We're not used to being rendered unnecessary. It's too bad we missed the fight. Oh, well. Until we meet again."
Carlisle nodded, his expression pained. He didn't want me to leave. He wanted a chance to explain so Aro would learn the full story.
Felix tossed the last remnants of newborn in the fire.
"Come," Jane said. "I want to go home."
I wasn't ready to leave. I had to talk to Carlisle in private, and I wasn't about to leave the two of them with the others unchecked.
"Go. I'll meet you at the airport."
Jane gave me a long, hard look as she contemplated whether to leave me behind. Assuming I wanted to catch up with my sire, she turned and walked away. Felix followed. He wasn't interested in my reasons for staying.
Once they were out of earshot, I turned to Carlisle.
"Carlisle, how could you?"
"Let me explain."
"What is there to say? You're consorting with werewolves. You know I can't keep this from Aro."
"Edward, please. They aren't what you think."
As reluctant as I was to believe him, Carlisle's mind showed me the truth. The monsters that fought alongside them were in control of themselves, working together as a pack. They shifted at will, in broad daylight—their human forms all with the same shiny black hair and copper skin. They couldn't be werewolves.
"I don't understand."
"They're shape shifters—descendants of ancient spirit warriors. They defend their tribe from our kind, but they don't actively hunt vampires. We have a treaty with them because of our lifestyle. They helped us today because we were protecting a mutual interest." An image of Bella appeared in his mind. "Aro needn't worry about them."
"I'll make sure he understands, but I can't guarantee he won't investigate this."
"I only request he keeps an open mind."
Aro did keep an open mind. He also ruled with an iron fist. All too often, a vampire was executed not out of guilt, but because it sent a message to other wrongdoers. The trials I conducted were always fair, but I had a hunch Aro wouldn't let me oversee anything involving Carlisle.
There was another question on Carlisle's mind, one regarding Bella's fate. He didn't want to ask it out loud.
I shrugged. "Best-case scenario, he'll make you change her. Worst-case…" I didn't need to finish. Carlisle knew the answer.
Esme thoughts, which had been focused on Carlisle and me, began to wander. She was getting impatient with us. I turned to my attention to her.
"Come here, Esme."
She wasted no time rushing into my open arms. "I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too," I said.
Esme stepped back and took my face between her hands. I diverted my eyes, though I knew it was too late. She had already seen them. Everyone had.
"It's been too long," she said. "Don't tell me you don't get time off to visit us." Esme used her motherly warning tone, and I smiled. I couldn't help it. I loved it.
"I guess time got away from me."
"Well, don't let another seventy years pass next time." Esme gestured for the others to come closer. "Edward, this is Alice and Jasper. They joined our family in nineteen fifty."
Jasper was the first to extend his hand. "It's nice to finally meet you."
Feeling my own jealousy and remorse reflected back at me only intensified the emotions. I'd failed at this lifestyle—twice—and here I was, surrounded by six vampires who managed to abstain from human blood. It was further evidence that I wasn't good enough to be a part of Carlisle's coven.
"Edward?" Carlisle asked. I tore my eyes away from Jasper. "Is everything all right?"
"Yes, of course. Sorry." I turned my attention back to Jasper and shook his hand. "It's good to meet you."
The moment I let go of his hand, Alice stood on her toes and wrapped her arms around my neck. "We've heard so much about you!"
"And this is Bella," Esme said. She beckoned to the human, taking her hand and pulling her into the circle of introductions.
The burn in my throat intensified as she stepped closer. For the first time since arriving, I was glad to have fed last night. I wasn't sure I could have resisted otherwise.
Bella looked apprehensive. She must have been told about my gift. It always made people nervous when they first found out I read minds. Then I remembered my red eyes and the reason for my visit, and I wondered if that was the cause of her anxiety.
"Bella," I said, unsure what else to say. I'd interacted with humans numerous times throughout my existence, but never like this.
I'd hoped hearing the sound of her voice would help me hone in on the tone of her thoughts, but her mind remained silent. Perhaps her thoughts had stilled out of fear.
"Interesting choice of friends you have," I said.
Bella frowned. She appeared confused. For a moment I thought I was right, that her mind wasn't processing information correctly. When she spoke again, I knew that wasn't the case.
"The Cullens are my second family. What they are doesn't matter to me. They're the nicest, most accepting group of people I've ever met."
From the corner of my eye, I saw Alice smile.
"That they are," I agreed.
I felt a moment of unease. Was there something wrong with me? In my entire existence, I'd never met anyone whose mind was closed to me.
Rosalie came in for a hug, and then Emmett clapped me on the shoulder. The last time I'd seen him, he'd been a newborn. It was hard to reconcile my memory of him with the vampire standing before me.
"Won't you come back to the house?" Esme asked. "Surely you have time before your flight. We'd love to catch up."
As much as I wanted to spend time with them, it would only end in disappointment. Esme had every intention of asking me to come home and try the lifestyle one more time. Whether I said no, or tried and failed again, I would let her down. It was better to decline her offer now and save everyone the heartache.
"Maybe some other time," I said.
Her face didn't give away her pain, but I felt it, nonetheless.
Carlisle placed his hand on my arm. He understood why I'd kept myself closed off all these years. There was no judgment or disappointment in his thoughts, only sadness that their lifestyle wasn't good enough for me.
If only he knew how wrong he was.
"Give my regards to Aro," he said.
I kept my goodbyes short, rejoining Jane and Felix at the airport all too soon.
As lead on the assignment, I was the one to report to Aro upon our return, though I suspected it had less to do with my being in charge and more my ability to read minds. He greeted me with the same enthusiasm as always. Despite his smile, his thoughts were filled with anxiety of the news I brought.
"Edward, my dear boy! I am happy to see you back so soon. What did you discover?"
I debated whether to inform him of the shifters and the human verbally but decided to let him see for himself. An explanation would never do the situation justice, as unusual as it was.
"It was a crazed vampire with a personal vendetta against Carlisle's coven. They have taken care of the problem."
I held out my hand. Aro waved it away. He trusted me to tell the truth.
"And Carlisle; is he well?"
"Very. He sends his regards."
"That's good to hear. Thank you, Edward. Your service is greatly appreciated."
I bowed slightly before dismissing myself.
"How did it go?" Eleazar grinned. "Did you find evidence of Carlisle's plot to overthrow us?"
"Of course not."
I wanted to confide in someone, but there was no one within these walls I was comfortable telling my secrets to. Eleazar would surely have good advice, but I didn't want to burden him with my knowledge. It was only a matter of time before Aro discovered what I knew. I'd rather he got the full story from my mind than bits and pieces from another.
A glimpse of a thought crossed Eleazar's mind. He hid it just as quickly as it came. While I tried not to make a habit of addressing thoughts not explicitly directed at me, I couldn't help myself.
"I can't continue living like this. Carmen isn't comfortable being here, even though she has permission to stay with me. This lifestyle is too violent for her. And quite frankly, I'm tired of it too. I'm tired of bringing in new talent for Aro and breaking up covens that pose no threat to us simply because someone has a gift."
I understood where he was coming from, even if we had opposing views. His job was detrimental to those on the outside, whereas mine saved vampires from execution.
"Where will you go?" I asked.
"Wherever Carmen wants. Somewhere easy. Somewhere we can live a more 'compassionate lifestyle', whatever that means."
I thought of Alice and Jasper and Bella. Carlisle was nothing if not compassionate.
"You should seek out Carlisle. Tell him I sent you."
"Maybe we will." After a pause, he added, "You should come with us."
"And leave the Volturi?"
For the briefest moment, I let my mind wander to another life. One where I drank animal blood and blended in with society. One with a family instead of an organization. One with a human who had eyes the color of chocolate and a mind that was closed to me. Bella would make a stunning vampire.
Surprised by the direction of my thoughts, I pushed them away.
"Stop overanalyzing everything," Eleazar said.
"Carlisle's way doesn't work for me."
"Who says you have to live by his rules? It's a big world out there."
"Aro would never let me go," I said. "And even if he did, I can't just leave. Who will make sure justice is served fairly?"
"Edward," Eleazar interrupted. He didn't want my excuses. "What's the point of living forever if you're miserable? You were blessed with this life. Don't waste it."
It took a week for me to gather the courage to speak to Aro. Had Eleazar and Carmen not asked me to accompany them one last time before their departure, I would have let the dream of leaving remain just that.
Part of me wanted to run away—to avoid the impending conversation with Aro and keep Carlisle's secrets. But I knew that wasn't a wise choice. If I went MIA, Aro would send someone for me. He might even send someone for the Cullens, and who knew what would happen then. My best bet was to be honest and hope he'd grant me leave, preferably without one last look at my mind.
"This request surprises me," Aro said. "I thought you were happy here."
"I am," I assured him. It wasn't a lie. "You've been very good to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve you."
"But… it's been over seventy years, and I'd like a change."
"Will you return to Carlisle?"
I hesitated. The last thing I wanted was for Aro to think Carlisle and I would start a rebellion.
"Yes, though I'm not sure how long I'll stay with him."
Aro nodded. In his mind, this wasn't a permanent resignation. Whether ten, fifty, or one hundred years from now, I would tire of Carlisle's ways as I had before and return to the Volturi.
"If it is your will to leave, I see no reason to force you to stay. This isn't a prison, dear Edward."
"Thank you, sir."
I bowed. When I looked up, Aro's hand was extended toward me. With a slight sense of dread, I slipped my hand into his. My every thought, every memory, every conversation replayed in Aro's mind.
"Very interesting," he murmured, and dropped my hand.
Guilt washed over me, like I'd somehow betrayed Carlisle, though I knew that wasn't the case. Jasper's ability, the shifters, Bella—Aro had witnessed it all.
"The best of luck to you, Edward. Our door is always open to you."
I bowed again, ducking out of his chambers before even lifting my head. While there was no malevolence in Aro's mind, a sense of urgency pushed me to gather what little belongings I had and leave Volterra as quickly as possible.
Once outside the castle, I made my way to the Palazzo dei Priori, where Eleazar and Carmen waited for me.
"Are you excited?" Eleazar asked.
I wasn't sure if excited was the right word. I felt relief at no longer having responsibilities and apprehension about the life that lay ahead for me.
Carmen was more than willing to attempt a diet of animal blood, so we made our way to North America. We took our time, the three of us enjoying the change of scenery and the escape from the lives we'd been living for so long.
Using my sense of smell and a combination of images I'd picked from the Cullens' minds, I located their house set into the woods on the Calawah River. Even as we approached, I had no idea what I wanted to say. Where did I even begin?
Carlisle stood alone on the porch. Anxiety filled his mind. Alice had seen us coming, but she didn't know what we wanted.
"Edward, Eleazar." Carlisle nodded at Carmen. "I hadn't expected to see you again so soon. Is everything all right?"
Not wanting Carlisle to worry unnecessarily, I got straight to the point.
"We were wondering if perhaps you had room for three more."
Carlisle wasted no time inviting us into his home. It was a grand thing—open and bright, three stories, an entire wall of windows. It was modern in a way the castle wasn't, but it was every bit as opulent.
Esme's passion as she described their lifestyle was so strong that I started looking forward to trying it again. Carmen was ecstatic. After 300 years of taking human lives, she was more than eager for an alternative.
When she and Eleazar expressed their reluctance to pose as human on a daily basis, Carlisle referred them to a coven of three sisters in Alaska. They, too, drank only animal blood, but they spent much less effort integrating with society.
I was surprised to learn of more vampires who had adopted the "vegetarian" style, as Carlisle referred to it. So far, that was a total of nine and counting. I'd never thought of myself as weak, but perhaps I was. What made these vampires different than me? What allowed them to stick to a diet that I could not?
When Eleazar and Carmen agreed to travel north, Carlisle turned to me.
"What are your intentions, Edward?"
I didn't have a plan. I didn't know if I wanted to stay here, accompany the other two to Alaska, or go off on my own. Carlisle wanted me to stay with them; they all did. I wasn't sure why Rosalie and Emmett wanted me back, or why Alice and Jasper were more than happy to open their home to me. Their emotions overwhelmed me.
An image appeared in Alice's mind. It was Bella. Her eyes practically glowed red. The image was fuzzy around the edges, and it flickered before disappearing. I didn't understand what I was seeing. A memory? Alice's imagination? The scent of Bella's blood still lingered in the house. She was still a human.
I glanced at Alice. It took a moment for her eyes to focus on me. As if she could read my mind, she silently answered my questions:
Bella's future had changed when I decided to stay.
After Eleazar and Carmen left, I stepped outside for fresh air. It had been over two weeks since my last meal, the one I'd had before coming here on official business. Bella's scent was everywhere in the house. Though it wasn't enough to send me on a killing spree, I found it irritating, nonetheless.
I needed to hunt. The enthusiasm I felt toward returning began to wane as I recalled the flavor of non-human blood. Maybe I would get lucky and stumble upon a mountain lion.
Impossible as it was, I felt tired. I sat down on the porch steps and leaned my head against the railing. This was all too much change too fast. I still wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision.
Alice stepped outside. "Mind if I join you?" she asked before sitting next to me.
"Do I have a choice?" I smiled to let her know I was joking.
"Of course you do, but I already know it's okay. Comes with the territory. Speaking of which, did you understand everything I was trying to tell you inside?"
"Bella's going to become a vampire because I decided to stay, correct?"
Alice's face brightened. "That is so cool!"
I found myself smiling in return. It wasn't the usual reaction my abilities received. Usually people were horrified at the things I could hear.
"So is that what they're like, your visions of the future?"
"Typically. Sometimes they're longer. Sometimes they'll change halfway through. Or the next day. Or a year later. The future is subjective."
Alice shrugged. "No more confusing than deciphering someone's thoughts, I'm sure."
"You don't seem very upset about Bella. Do you think the future will change again?"
"It's hard to tell. It could. And why would I be upset? Bella's my best friend. I'd love to have her with us forever." Saying the words made Alice feel selfish. Even so, she had no intention of manipulating the outcome.
"Am I the one who changes her?" I asked.
"I'm not sure."
I couldn't imagine having the strength to change someone. Perhaps Carlisle does it to avoid a confrontation with Aro. Or perhaps Aro forces his hand. In the end it didn't matter who changed her. Even if I wasn't the one to bite her, I was the catalyst. I tried not to feel guilty about ending another human life.
Just the thought of humans made me hungry. I could still smell Bella despite being outside. It was like her very essence had clung to me. Even though I wanted to escape it, a masochistic part of me wanted to trace the scent back to her house and bask in it.
A vision flashed in Alice's mind: me, standing outside of a small house with white, wooden siding.
"Is that her house?" I asked. "Does it happen tonight?"
I watched, fascinated, as Alice searched the future.
"You'll go there, but no. Nothing will happen."
"Will you tell Carlisle I went hunting?"
Alice was apprehensive about my late-night visit, but she agreed.
I went straight to Bella's house, steering clear of an area Alice described as the treaty line. I couldn't help it. I needed to find her.
The house was easy for me to locate, having already seen it in Alice's mind. Bella's scent was much stronger here. I drew in a deep breath, enjoying the bouquet, reveling in the burn.
It was the sweetest torture. I wanted more.
There were no conscious thoughts anywhere in the neighborhood, so I stepped out of the blackness of the bordering forest and approached the house. The front door was locked, as I suspected. I circled the house, looking for an alternate way in. A window on the second story was halfway open.
I scaled the side of the house and looked inside. My breath stopped.
It was Bella's room.
Despite the danger lurking outside of her window, she slept peacefully. It was wrong to watch her. It was wrong to be here.
It didn't stop me from opening the window wider and slipping inside.
Her room was small—disorganized but not unclean. There were stacks of books and CDs. Shoes dotted the wooden floor. An ancient computer sat on a desk, a blue graduation gown draped over the matching chair. I wanted to snoop, but Bella had grown restless since I entered. I didn't want to make any noise.
I retreated to the corner and sat in an old rocking chair. For the first time since entering the room, I took a deep breath. Bella's scent enveloped me.
It was torture.
It was ecstasy.
I closed my eyes and drew in breath after breath. I would never be able to taste her, but as long as I stayed here, I could have her like this. The prospect made a diet of animal blood sound tolerable. I could do this. I could live this way for her.
"Edward," Bella mumbled.
She was dreaming of me. I smiled. It felt like my dead, frozen heart was about to beat again.
"What are you doing here?"
My eyes shot open. Bella stared back at me, shock written all over her face.
I considered fleeing out of the open window. I could be gone before she blinked. This would be no more than a trick her tired eyes played on her.
Except Bella knew what I was. I could leave as fast as I wanted. I'd never fool her.
Instead of leaving, I sat beside her on the bed. She gasped and held the covers tight to her body. My venom flowed freely, and I had to swallow it back before I could speak.
"I don't know."
Bella sat up straighter. I could see her perfectly in the darkness. Her cheeks flushed pink as her eyes darted across my face.
"Are you afraid?" I asked.
"Don't you know the answer to that already?" she challenged.
She wasn't afraid of me. There was no way she would talk to me like that if she were.
I kind of liked it.
"No, I don't. Your mind is closed to me."
"It is?" Bella laughed under her breath. A small smile graced her lips. She seemed relieved, and understandably so. "Three vampires have tried to kill me. Well… four, technically. Two more if you include your friends. Not to mention an entire army. I'm pretty sure I'm either invincible or my number's been up and it's only a matter of time. Either way, I'm not afraid of you."
"Maybe you should be."
Bella shook her head. "Alice would see if something were going to happen. She would be here."
Her words gave me pause. Alice's vision hadn't showed me entering the house, but I had no intention of coming inside until after I arrived. Was that what she'd meant by the future being subjective? If something were going to happen, would Alice intervene? I wasn't certain. Surely she wouldn't let mortal harm come to Bella. But if I were to bite her… change her like Alice's vision had showed…
Bella's words pulled me from somewhere deep within my mind. I had to keep my thoughts in check or this would turn into some twisted self-fulfilling prophecy.
"What makes you think that?" I asked.
"My best friend is a vampire. I know the signs."
"Then I should hunt." The words pained me to say. I didn't want to leave the warmth of her scent, her presence.
Bella's face fell. Her grip on the covers tightened. "What's on the menu tonight?"
I realized then that she wouldn't know the reason for my return, if she knew I was returning at all.
"Deer, most likely. A mountain lion if I'm lucky."
"Haven't you heard? I'm the newest vegetarian in town." I pushed off of the bed and made my way to the window. "Shut your window if you want me to stay away. I'll understand."
I tossed one leg over the sill when Bella called my name.
I turned to face her. Her gaze fell to the bed, and she smiled.
"You'll look good with gold eyes," she said.
I smiled too. For the first time, I knew I would succeed. Bella gave me a reason.
"So will you," I said.
And then I jumped.
Thank you so much for reading! If you are interested in a Part 2, make sure to leave a review so I know you care, and let me know here or on Twitter (o_oza) if you'd rather have Edward's or Bella's POV. Clicky links to Twitter, FB, and my blog are in my profile. Come stalk me.
Also, make sure to check out the PS I Love You Contest (PSILoveUContest on Twitter)! I'm not involved with it, buttt I was thinking about mebbe writing something if I can find the time.