Author Note:

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I hope you enjoy the first chapter of BREAKDOWN. I hope to update on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. Stick with me, it gets good! If you are interested in becoming a beta reader for this story, please PM me.

Read and Review! Any and all feedback is appreciated!


Lacrymosa

Bella is 19 years old. Picks up from an alternate New Moon. The Cullens have returned to Forks, but Bella and Edward's relationship is in shambles.


During a particularly relaxed afternoon at the Cullen mansion, Jasper taught Bella to play chess, which Bella apparently had good instincts for. As Bella reached across

the board to save a wayward knight, Jasper noticed a thick rope of scarred flesh on the back of Bella's wrist. Unthinkingly, he grabbed Bella's hand and exposed the scar

to the eyes of everyone in the room as he examined it closely. The eyes of every vampire turned to the scar on Bella's wrist, and Bella's breath went still.


Alarmed by Jasper's thought-process, Edward flashed to his love, and gently pulled up the long-sleeve of Bella's t-shirt, revealing a thin layer of clean white gauze which

covered Bella's skin from the base of her wrist up as far as the t-shirt allowed him to see.

Abruptly, the Cullens realize they have never seen Bella in anything but long sleeves. With the Forks fog, they never thought anything of it, but their vampiric memories

now recall every interaction where Bella covertly covered her skin from them.

Feeling sick with fear, worry, and a desperate feeling of betrayal, Edward carefully tore the gauze from Bella's arm, still held captive by Jasper. Though Bella whimpered

and tried to twist her arm away, Jasper's grip was iron.

Even with their exceptional minds, no-one of the Cullens can exactly recall what happened after Edward's careful revelation showed the messy, torn scar that stretched

from the inside of Bella's wrist to her elbow, at least as thick around as a fire poker. Flashes of struggle and fear are all that remain in their memories. Curiously, Bella

remembers the sequence of events perfectly, not that they would ever ask.


Bella's soft whimpers reached Rosalie and Emmett, who were busy upstairs. When Emmett reached the staircase, he saw red with rage. Bella –his human sister- was

pinned by Jasper against the wall of the staircase while Edward traced an ugly burn that marred her left shoulder blade. Carlisle had a restraining hand on Edward's

shoulder, but seemed in shock; and his baby sister, Alice, was hurriedly ripping the threads of Bella's shirt away from her wrist. Bits of gauze littered the floor like

confetti, scattered among chess pieces and bits of Bella's broken chair. Esme stood stock still in the center of the room.

Emmett was quick to process the grotesque scars covering every inch of Bella's exposed back, but from his vantage point at the top of the stairs, he could see what no

other Cullen vampire could: Bella's face was stark white, her eyes large and pleading. She was biting back a scream, dangerous blood welling up where her teeth dug

into her lower lip. Terror twisted her face into that of a stranger.

Instinct crashed through Emmett. He threw his brothers away from their victim, yanking tiny Alice away so fiercely she flew across the room. With a growl, he crouched

in front of Bella, prepared to stop anyone and anything from getting to the weakest member of his family.

He needn't have bothered, because Rosalie was hot on his heels. She took Bella in her arms and hid the exposed flesh with her own jacket. With Bella's eyes turned to

her attackers,— her family—, sense returned to them. Shame and horror painted every face in Emmett's vision, but Bella could only see the pity painted in Rosalie's sad

smile. Her vision faded, and the world went black.


Trust, once shaken, is slow to return. When Bella regained consciousness, the world was senseless. The Cullens,— her chosen family. Edward. Pain lanced through her as

she thought his name. Edward. Oh God, what was she going to do now?

She felt the hard oak under her fingertips. Carlisle's study then. She was dressed in a pretty and pristine blouse, an olive green top that complimented her skin tone.

She normally would have loved the shirt, but now the long sleeves mocked her. The gauze she always wore under her baggy shirts had not been replaced, and she felt

naked without the protective layer wrapped around her torso.

Soft footsteps alerted her to someone's approach, and she focused her gaze on Esme with effort. Her mother-figure wore a watery, cautious smile. Looking at it, Bella

felt she might be sick. When Esme reached out to stroke her hair, Bella ducked away, spinning to avoid Esme's touch and leaving the room without a word.

She carried on her silence, not even slowing down as she swung her backpack up on to her shoulder from where she had abandoned it in the foyer a few short hours

ago. Her nimble escape was thwarted by vampiric speed. Edward himself suddenly stood in front of the front door. With no idea what he would say to make this okay, to

stop her leaving, he opened his mouth to speak,—

"Am I your prisoner now?" Bella's voice rang through the quiet. She spoke in a hoarse whisper, but there were no tears in her monotone voice.

Edward put no thought whatsoever into the words that came out of his mouth, driven by panic. "Of course not. Bella, please—". His lover met his eyes, her face still

terrible and empty, her eyes old beyond her years; maybe even beyond his years. "Don't. Don't you ask me for anything—after what just occurred here. Don't you dare.

You have no concept of what you have done. You,—you stay the fuck away from me. Your family too. I am leaving right now. Either restrain me against my will, or get

out of the way."

The snap of Bella's footfalls on the hardwood did not falter as she stayed just out of Edward's reach, skirting around him and swinging open the door. The rush of anger

in her previous statement failed her, and her voice was soft and broken as the door clicked closed behind her. "Goodbye."

The word rang in the empty air.


New Rules

The anger didn't hit Bella again until she was in her truck, driving to the one place she knew no Cullen could reach her: La Push. Hot tears began to stream down Bella's

cheeks, and the silence in the cab of her ancient truck was finally broken by a ragged gasp of breath. Rather than pulling over when her vision became blurry, Bella sped

up, pushing the truck over fifty and shuddering through the gears toward sixty-five. At eighty miles an hour, Bella worried the truck might actually rattle apart under the

force of her rage, the pressure building in Big Red's ancient engine just like it was in her heart. With a scream that was half battle-cry, Bella slammed the wheel hard to

the right. As the truck flipped and rolled, the outside world finally matched the feeling in her chest. After a moment of glorious chaos, Bella felt the tension in her chest

give out as she slammed into the old-fashioned metal steering wheel.

Upside-down in the cab of her shattered truck, everything was still topsy-turvy, but Bella had

found some small release in her reckless destruction. The passenger side had slammed into a strong tree trunk, leaving the driver's side mostly undamaged, but the

rusty door was dented too badly to open, so Bella braced her arms against the roof of the truck and released her seatbelt. When gravity took hold and her thinly covered

back met the glass scattered across the roof, rage faded in an instant to acute and devastating despair. In the upside-down wreck of her ruined vehicle, Bella wept.

The Bella who crawled out of the wreckage through a jagged hole in the windshield was not the same girl the Cullens knew. Blood trickled down her stony face

unheeded, ice and fire ran through her veins.


A week passed, and though the Cullens grew ever more desperate for interaction with Bella, she stonewalled their every effort to get her alone, to explain, to apologize

or grovel. She did not speak directly to them unless it was absolutely necessary, and never ate lunch in the cafeteria anymore. If she shared a classroom with a Cullen

sibling, she still sat in her usual chair near them, but no matter what they attempted to do to engage her, she responded with blank faced politeness, made of courtesy

and nothing more.

Charlie wasn't answering any calls from the Cullens after their disappearance months ago left Bella in pieces. A half-baked plan to call Renee was quickly shut down by

Alice's visions, which had become muddy and distorted when Bella was involved, like static on the TV.

It seemed the awkward stalemate would last forever, until the morning Carlisle came home with a thin manila folder in his hands and defeat in his gaze. Before he took

two steps in the door, Edward ripped the medical file from his grip with shaking hands, laying it out on the unused dining table. "No. No,no,no..." Edward muttered to

himself as he spread the pages in a display of horrifying pictures and x-rays. "It's not true, Carlisle." he pleaded, "It's someone else's file, a mistake. It's not her. Not my

Bella." Carlisle buried his face in his hands, sinking onto the sofa and gripping his hair hard with a tortured expression. "It is her, Edward. I had to go through two

different servers in Phoenix and lie to a social worker to get it, but it's her file. I'm sure of it."

Rosalie interjected, outraged. "You stole Bella's medical file!"

"It's technically the file for an anonymous ER patient admitted for extreme trauma to Phoenix Medical. Rosalie, I know its wrong. I do. But someone,—Rosalie someone

has tortured Bella. I've examined the file, and the damage is too extensive to be anything else." His eyes turned to Esme, begging. "I had to know. I had to. The

possibility alone was terrible, but—", he motioned towards the file. "I didn't think the certainty would be so much worse."

Rosalie was uncharacteristically quiet, and when she spoke it was a halting half-question. "Carlisle,— was she...?" Carlisle let out a long sigh, tangling his fingers with

Esme's as he bowed his head to rest on her stomach. He was the picture of a man defeated. "I don't know for sure, Rosalie. Her mother wouldn't allow a rape kit. But

the evidence certainly points that way. And worse."

"Worse?" Alice's voice was a whisper.

Edward cried out, flipping the table and scattering the damned file across the room. "SIXTEEN, Carlisle. Bella was sixteen when this ER visit occurred. Lacerations on her

back like whip-marks, blisters from restraints on wrists and ankles, blood loss, trauma, intentional burns, edema; on her inner thigh here, someone bit her, Carlisle!

Layers on layers of damage, extended trauma—and I think those scars on her arm are from a SUICIDE attempt. I know what that looks like. " Edward fell to his knees.

"Please. You're my father, my maker. If you tell me it isn't her, that my angel didn't go through this nightmare, I'll believe you. Please. Tell me."

Carlisle couldn't speak, and he felt Esme's grip tighten in his, just a little. It gave him the strength to think it. "It's her, Edward. It's Bella Swan."


Black Beatles

When Bella opened her eyes later that same morning, the world was still stark and grey. Her bed was somehow colder without Edward's cool body sheltering her. She

glanced outside, counting the shiny heads of the nails that messily secured the closed window. As she did every morning for the last week, she imagined ripping the nails

from the windowpane. Her eyes closed for a brief moment. Bella swayed on the edge of the mattress, her body taking her closer to the window without her permission.

NO! Bella threw herself off of the bed, away from the window and towards the door of her room, slamming it closed behind her. Her weakness was out of control. She

was putting the Cullens at risk. How much longer could she stay away from Edward and his family? This was torture worse than any other: even now, Bella wanted

nothing more than Edward's stone arms around her. Something had to be done.

After a shower which did nothing to calm her mind, Bella met her own eyes in the mirror. Centering her intention, Bella lit the topaz candle she had set on the back of

the sink. With shaking hands, Bella traced the characters of Edward's name on the surface of the mirror, and for just a moment, she relished her soon-to-be-banished

memories. On the back of her eyelids, she saw Edward's crooked smile, Carlisle's golden eyes, Esme's delicate hands, Emmett's beaming grin, Rosalie's composed

movements, Alice's excitability and Jasper's calm steadiness. Tears pooled in her eyes, but the movement of her hands was decisive as she cut through the steam and

condensation on the mirror, wiping Edward's name away. Bella snapped a soldier's nod at her own reflection, pale and drawn as it was, and cupped her hand around the

open flame of the candle.

A sharp inhale, but before the candle's flame could be extinguished, Bella heard a crack. Her own reflection showed her numb disbelief in the shattered glass. The

candle's flame struck out of its own accord. Bella watched the smoke rising from the wick, and she felt it choke in the back of her throat. Her tears finally falling down

her face, she imagined larger flames, clouds of smoke. Yes, there would surely be clouds of smoke when the Cullens burned.

Suddenly, Bella could not stand one more second of loneliness. Just to lay eyes on her chosen family would be a comfort. She threw on her clothes and rushed through

her breakfast, barely remembering to lock the door behind her as she rushed to school. The long walk to Forks High school seemed to take a million years, and Bella

cursed her human slowness. With graduation and summer break days away, only a few students milled around the parking lot. It was still early enough to prevent an

audience.

Her eyes roved over the empty parking spaces, looking for any sign of the Cullens. There! The Volvo was in its normal spot, Edward exiting the driver's side with a

somber expression. Even little Alice seemed sad this morning. In the space of an instant, as Edward's eyes met hers, all of Bella's will to avoid the Cullens drifted away.

The pain in her chest doubled when she saw the agony in her lover's eyes. She held his gaze, willing him to feel what she was feeling, wanting to give him comfort and

hold him close.

Bella was so wrapped up in willing Edward to take that first step towards her that she didn't notice the ostentatious orange corvette swinging into a parking space across

the lot, blaring bass-heavy music loudly. But nothing could have made her miss the stifling, malevolent presence that creeped into her mind as the corvette's three

passengers stalked towards the entrance to the school. Panic clawed in Bella's throat as she ripped her eyes from Edward's and turned towards the dangerous trio

heading towards new student check-in. One of them, a dark-skinned man, narrowed his eyes as he considered her for a moment. He slid his leer across the lot to where

the Cullen's stood and then back to her, smirking. She glared at the handsome man, and without another glance at Edward, stalked off to class. She would have to be

careful now. The Black Beetles had arrived.


"I'm telling you Emmett, I saw it. Bella was about to run across the lot, straight into Edward's arms. But those troublemakers showed up, and just like that—Poof!

Nothing but muddled, violent colors in her future again. It's starting to give me a headache." Alice complained as she headed towards her homeroom. "and I didn't even

see them arrive."

"They're just humans Alice. I can hear the tall one's heartbeat from here. I saw her reaction to them clear as you did, future-seer. Maybe your vision is just going out.

You need Sight glasses or something." Rosalie punched Emmett's arm as Jasper rolled his eyes.

"They definitely caused a reaction, I'll give you that." Jasper drawled. "but how are we supposed to know how they play into this whole mystery if Bella won't talk to us

about anything? She's been keeping secrets, lots of them. Truth is, I wonder if Bella is who we thought she was at all."

Edward's back stiffened at Jasper's last comment. "I don't care who you think she is Jasper. She is my Bella, and she's in trouble. I swear, if she would just speak to me,

I wouldn't care about this whole puzzle. I just want to know she is safe." Edward turned and stomped away towards English, the only class he shared with his love.

The others exchanged wary, nervous glances, but out of options, did the same.


Two classes later, Bella couldn't take anymore. Between the Beetles' probing glances and Edward's constant stare, she was going to lose her mind. It didn't help that

Lauren had kept sneering at her all through English, batting her eyelashes at Edward and the Beetles alike when she thought Bella's attention was elsewhere. The whole

scene made her nauseous. She snuck out through the gym, determined to get away.

She would just move up her escape plans a little, that's all. Even with the abysmal failure of her forgetting spell that morning, she could still find a way to leave Forks

that wouldn't attract any trouble. Her cover was blown, and the Beetles' presence proved it. If she stayed, all would be lost. It was only a matter of time.

Besides, the Beetles weren't just dangerous to her. As Bella rounded the corner to the gym, she saw Lauren and the third Beetle looking pretty cozy by the girl's locker

room. Lauren had a dopey smile on her normally vapid face and the heavily-tattooed Beetle was leaning over her possessively. Oh hell...was Lauren worth starting a

fight with a Beetle over? Even though her brain screamed at her to stop, Bella called out to Lauren like they were old friends. "Hey Lauren! Good to see you girl!

Ohmygosh, who's your friend? He is so HOT!" The Beetle scowled, and with a heated look in her direction broke his eyes from Lauren, who responded to Bella's

interruption with an intelligent "Huh?".

As the Beetle quickly retreated from his failed hunt, his unknowing prey turned to Bella. "Oh. My. God. Isabella Swan, you suck. Edward Cullen wasn't enough, you just

can't leave any hot guys for the rest of us. I don't know what they see in you, or how you've got them under your spell! You are such a loser!" Lauren walked off,

flipping her hair over her shoulder arrogantly, no doubt to tell the whole school how desperate Bella was.

Bella sighed. Great. Now she had attracted the beetles' attention. "Under my spell, indeed." she muttered. Now if only she could find out how to break the spell.

She shimmied open the door that led from the gym to the outdoors. Time to go home. "Past time," Bella thought sarcastically. "I think I've caused enough trouble for

today. Why am I such a danger-magnet?"


Drumming Song

In the relative safety of her bedroom, Bella ruminated on her course of action. She had stayed entirely too long in this sleepy little town. She knew that leaving would

tear her heart apart, but staying would rain hellfire on this place. Cursing loudly, Bella swept the clutter on her desk to the floor. The crash did nothing to calm her

frazzled emotions, and now she had a mess to clean up.

Bella knew better than anyone what it meant to fall in love, how the desperation to hold on to a lover could drive someone to madness. She had to let Edward go, but

that didn't mean she had to stop loving him. In some ways, her life had begun when she moved to Forks, but reality couldn't be avoided forever. The past must be put

to rest.

The choke of secrets hammered at Bella's brain, and she felt her tongue begin to split and bleed.

Slamming the last of her textbooks on the cluttered desk, Bella crossed the room to settle on her bed, cross-legged. She straightened her back and centered herself,

falling into her meditative trance with difficulty.

She hadn't had much occasion to meditate since she had moved here. The hush of the constant rain and fog had seeped into her mind, muting her magick and her

memories alike.

Even when she could feel herself falling for Edward, damning everything in the process, she had been able to keep the constant chaos in her thoughts from spilling over.

By the time Bella had come to Forks, her secret life outside of the mortal world had been locked away in a steel box in her memory, and hastily labeled, "DO NOT OPEN

UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES".

The Cullens had blown that box wide open when they had exposed her scars, and there were no words to express the betrayal. Her vampire family had a way of doing

that to her, each and every one of them navigating her defenses with ease. She had never felt so free, happy, and peaceful as when the Cullens were around. Edward

did it best, of course. From the moment he didn't kill her in Biology class, Bella had cared for him more than was sane, or sensible. When he quit fighting the pull he felt

towards her, she had been irrevocably lost.

God, but she loved him with all her heart; enough to damn her world and herself. She had to protect him. She had to leave Forks, face the battle of her life, and win. As

much as Bella had given Edward her heart, the devil had already staked claim on her soul; and the devil always gets his due.

When Bella opened her eyes again, the sunset was slanting through her window and she could hear Charlie moving around downstairs.

He had been understandably concerned about her since she told him she had wrecked her truck, and with her strange behavior all week. Bella dragged herself down the

stairs gracelessly to find Charlie standing in the kitchen, frowning. "Listen, kid. We need to talk. The school told me you skipped class today?"

With a sad smile, Bella approached her father and kissed him on the cheek. "I love you Dad. I'm so glad I got to come here." A flash of irritation and confusion passed

across Charlie's face before the simple spell Bella had cast on her father manifested, and his face went blank.

Suddenly, it was as though Bella wasn't even there. Charlie hummed a sea chanty to himself and turned to look through the fridge absentmindedly, pulling the milk out

and sniffing it before reaching for the phone, no doubt to order a pizza or call Billy Black.

She had better get started on the large-scale forgetting spell before someone mentioned her to her dad, who now believed she had graduated early and gone off to

Dartmouth. Grabbing a pack of matches from the junk drawer, Bella headed back upstairs.

Once the forgetting spell had been cast and Bella had double and triple checked her symbology, she fell on the bed, exhausted. Once, casting such a spell would've been

as simple as flicking her wrist, but Bella had been suppressing her magick for almost two years, and she wasn't taking any chances.

Well, that wasn't entirely true, Bella conceded as her belongings flew around the room, packing themselves neatly into bags and boxes. It did feel good to have the

warmth of her magick flowing through her veins again.

She glanced morosely at the topaz candle that was the only remaining thing on her previously cluttered desk, remembering the failure of her forgetting spell that

morning. It seemed destiny did not favor destroying the Cullen's memories of her.

Perhaps another spell then, a final goodbye to ease her conscience as she ran away like a coward. A shy smile brightened her face. Well, if she was going to deliver a

heartfelt goodbye, she might as well do it with style.


Already Gone

Carlisle knew the importance of taking a break when needed. After he had found Bella's file, he informed the hospital he would be staying at home today, claiming

illness. He had never excused himself from his shift at the hospital before, and they were happy to deal with moving his patients around. Looking up at his beautiful wife,

he allowed a sad smile to cross his face.

"Esme, dear, you have vacuumed this room twice already. Come- sit with me awhile." Shutting off the noisy machine, Esme flitted to his side. "I'm sorry—I'm just so...I

don't even know what I'm feeling right now. I'm angry at whoever hurt my daughter, and sad and guilty that we made it worse. I'm worried about what's going on here,

what she is hiding from us. I don't know how to make this better."

With a sigh, Carlisle pinched the bridge of his nose, a habit he had picked up in his human days as a pastor. It didn't help. "I wish I knew, dear one. We love her, and I

know she cares for us. It will work out. Have faith."

As he spoke, the air seemed to glitter and shine around him. Blinking away the sudden sunspots, Carlisle refocused on Esme, only to find her expression filled with

wonder. He followed her attention to the coffee table, and immediately noticed a cherry-sized diamond that had not been there thirty seconds ago. The clear stone cast

the rainbows and sun-spots that had blinded him temporarily. "What the-".

Carlisle heard the door open loudly as his children arrived home from school. "Carlisle, you'll never guess-", Alice stopped mid-sentence, taking in her father's

distraction. Edward stepped into the living area right behind his most exuberant sister; Rosalie, Jasper, and Emmett trailed behind him. "Carlisle?..."

In Carlisle's thoughts, Edward saw the diamond that lay innocently on the tabletop. Cautiously, Edward reached for the small gem.

The room exploded into prisms of color, golden mist hanging suspended in the air, casting light around the room like noon-day sunshine. And there, in the middle of the

room, was Bella Swan. Her visage shimmered like reflections in water, and she was wearing a simple white dress with blood spatters on the hem of the otherwise

pristine garment. When she looked at him, her eyes were consumed by golden pools of light. When the apparition opened her mouth, Edward felt his world cave in.

Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories, they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye
Even with our fists held high,
Never would have worked out right,
We were never meant for do or die

I didn't want us to burn out
I didn't come here to hurt you

Now I can't stop.

The ghostly image took Edward's hands, gazing into his face with a sad twist of lips that made his heart wrench in his chest.

I want you to know
That it doesn't matter
Where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone.

With a light touch that was surprisingly solid, Edward felt the ghost trace the lines of his face. He finally moved, wrapping one arm around the transparent figure that looked so much like his love and yet, wasn't, seeking to trap it against his body.

Looking at you makes it harder
But I know that you'll find another
That doesn't always make you wanna cry
Started with a perfect kiss
Then we could feel the poison set in
Perfect couldn't keep this love alive

You know that I love you so
I love you enough to let you go

Images danced around him, snapshots of his relationship with Bella: their first kiss, their first conversation, the kiss he dropped on her forehead as he left her behind. The image of Bella suddenly disappeared from in front of him, re-appearing by the window and addressing his entire family.

I want you to know
That it doesn't matter
Where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone

Shifting once more, Bella appeared in front of Edward, standing on tiptoe to touch his brow, his cheekbones, his lips. Edward felt the brush of her mouth against his, and was immersed in a deep and passionate kiss which would have stolen his breath were he still human.

Remember all these things we wanted
Now all our memories, they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye

I want you to know
That it doesn't matter
Where we take this road
Someone's gotta go
And I want you to know
You couldn't have loved me better
But I want you to move on
So I'm already gone.

I'm already gone.
You can't make it feel right
When you know that its wrong
I'm already gone.
Already gone.
There's no moving on
So I'm already gone.

With the final words of the song, the kiss ended on a sob that faded too quickly. Edward looked around the room to find it empty of all trace of his lover, the unnatural

light gone and evening shadows casting gloom on the faces of his family. He met the gaze of his parents and siblings, the weight of one hundred years of family pushing

out in his next words. "Find her."


Get Ugly

Far away from Edward and his family, in the mountains that surrounded Forks, Isabella hitched her duffel bag further on to her shoulder. She had felt her goodbye reach

the Cullens, felt the kiss as surely as Edward did. In the privacy and solitude of the forest, Bella allowed her tears to make tracks on her face; but she did not allow her

steps to falter, did not look back towards the place she had called home for two wonderful years.

When she reached a large oak around sunrise, after a long night of marching towards nowhere-in-particular, Bella's knees finally gave out. She curled up in the root

system of the massive tree, taking a long draught off her water bottle and pulling off her shoes.

She was contemplating whether to start a fire the old-fashioned way or risk exposure by simply conjuring one, when she stiffened. Something wasn't right.

Her eyes clouded with gold, Bella searched for the imbalance she felt and found it. Cursing loudly, Bella dropped her water bottle and stripped off her jacket hurriedly,

muttering under her breath. Rosalie was looking for her, had found her scent trail and followed it to the clearing at the base of the mountain Bella was currently

climbing. Rosalie didn't know it yet, but she wasn't alone in that clearing. The black beetles were there too.

Fear and hatred coursed through Bella in panic-driven sparks, but she tried to center herself as she shook off her bracelets and rolled up her sleeves, muttering a

teleportation spell that was entirely too long.

In her clouded vision of the far-away clearing, Bella saw the rowdy, drunken beetles call to her vampire sister. Laughing as Rosalie snarled and turned to face them, the

beetles froze her in place. Bella saw the exact moment Rosalie realized she couldn't move, saw the morph of her expression as panic seized her. Shit.

Bella sped up her chant and began to lose her grip on her center as, in her vision, a beetle pulled out a small switchblade, leering as he cut a gash in his own tongue,

blood pooling in his mouth to run down his chin.

The beetle licked Rosalie's cheeks and then dragged his bloody tongue across her sister's grimace, while the other two jeered and insulted Rosalie, asking her if she was

hungry and wouldn't they give her something good to eat.

Bella's rage began to spiral out of her control. In the space between one second and the next, Bella was on the edge of the clearing. Hidden from the beetles' sight, she

telekinetically threw them away from her chosen sister.


Black Barbies

She marched out of the shadows, not even registering Rosalie's wide-eyed stare. These men would roast alive for disrespecting Rosalie so.

The heavily- tattooed beetle was apparently the dumbest, because he rushed Bella head-on; racing across the clearing with fire in his palm. The fireball had barely left

his grasp before his head twisted with a crack, blankness falling over his face; dead before he even hit the damp earth.

His attack was dispersed with a wave of Bella's hand as she continued her steady march towards the other two, who were barely gaining their senses after being thrown.

Comprehension and fear flooded the remaining beetles' faces. The beetle with the bloodied mouth began to chant lowly, vicious syllables falling from his lips before Bella

called on the ground beneath their feet to buck him off. His chant halted and stuttered, but did not stop as heavy stones flew at him from all directions and the ground

beneath him split and rolled.

Meanwhile, the dark-skinned beetle was forming shards of ice into sharp blades and trying to smother her with his mental weight. Bella batted him away from her mind

as one would a tiresome fly, and when shards of ice came near her they suddenly shattered, inconsequential pieces scratching her exposed skin.

The attacking beetle was lifted six feet into the air by nothing at all, thrown with massive force. Rosalie watched, still frozen in place, as his head split open like a ripe

watermelon upon impact with a large rock.

The only remaining beetle was the one who had launched the bloody assault on Rose. He didn't even try to defend himself as he was thrown, landing roughly at Rosalie's

frozen feet.

Bella snapped her fingers, and Rosalie could move again. Bella's eyes flashed dangerously as she looked at the beetle. "Apologize." she ground out between gritted

teeth, flashing to Rosalie's side and gripping the beetle hard by the back of the neck. She shoved him to his knees, but the sycophantic man just kept chanting in a low

voice, eyes lowered and head bowed.

Bella met Rosalie's eyes, and Rose was stunned by the depth of sadness and empathy on Bella's face. Bella nodded at her decisively, as if issuing an order or granting

Rosalie permission.

The beetle spit on the ground at Rosalie's feet and glared into her face, and Rose knew what Bella was giving her permission to do.

The rest of the Cullens had arrived at the edge of the clearing sometime during the short battle, but Rosalie did not look at her family. Bella took a step away from her

and the last beetle, respectfully turning her back to give Rose some privacy. Rosalie reached out with a hand that felt disconnected from her body, snapping the beetle's

neck with a flick of her wrist.

Rosalie crumbled, but Emmett was there to catch her. She sobbed in his arms as he cradled her close to him.

When Rosalie looked up, she half expected Bella to be nearby, but Bella was planting her feet in front of the Cullens with a dead face, facing the mountainside while her

hands shook. A figure was at the edge of the clearing, standing with hands at his side. His ebony skin and dread-locked hair gave him a distinctly tribal appearance, but

his face was somber and ashamed.

Bella's face twisted, and she resumed her slow march across the clearing, matched step for unhurried step by the stranger. Edward tried to follow her, but ghostly hands held him back. When Bella glanced at him with a shake of her head, face still hard as stone, Edward stood still.

"Demitri." Bella inclined her head, an acknowledgment.

The newcomer bowed low, scraping the ground with his fingertips. "Isabella."


Praying

In all the death Carlisle had seen in three hundred and sixty-five years, in all the wars he served as a medic, Carlisle had never seen a scene like the one before him

now. His eldest daughter was quiet in Emmett's arms, shocked out of her grief and fear by the commanding presence of the scene before her.

Bella and Demetri circled one another slowly in expectant crouches. Complete silence rang in the foggy clearing, no sound of animals in the underbrush or birds

tweeting. Even the wind was still.

The circles got closer with each tense pass, Bella, and the fierce man who seemed resigned to his fate. As the spiraling paths drew ever closer to one another, Demetri

and Bella locked eyes, their movements becoming sinuous and quick, their feet making no noise on the ground beneath them. The air crackled with electricity, and Bella

opened her mouth, unconsciously wetting her lips before her sad, slow voice floated across the clearing.

Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, but after everything you've done
I can thank you for how strong I have become

'Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I'll just say this is "I wish you farewell"

Determination coalesced on Bella's face, and she took an aggressive step forward, breaking the circular dance. Carlisle braced himself for the attack, and Edward jolted

forward in the corner of his eye.

I hope you're somewhere prayin', prayin'
I hope your soul is changin', changin'
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, prayin'

Instead of attacking, Demetri simply took a step backwards, matching Bella step for step as she advanced across the field. Carlisle saw brief hope flit through Demetri's

eyes at Bella's words, but Bella's face was twisted in fury.

Everything in Carlisle screamed in empathy and compassion as the hope died in Demetri's eyes. The man's backward steps suddenly faltered, and he grabbed onto a

nearby tree for support.

I'm proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come

Bella motioned towards the Cullen family with the last verse, tears building in her eyes. The rolled sleeves of her shirt blew in the sudden gust of wind, drawing every

Cullen's attention back to the scar that stretched from her wrist to her elbow with the scent of fresh blood. Sudden storm clouds blocked the weak sun, and the crackling

air charged with new tension.

'Cause I can make it on my own, oh
And I don't need you, I found a strength I've never known
I'll bring thunder, I'll bring rain, oh
When I'm finished, they won't even know your name

With his attention on her arm, Carlisle could see the line of red that began to tear through Bella's skin. Uncomprehending, Carlisle focused on the blood that began to

flow down Bella's arms freely, more red coating her skin as the ugly scar re-opened.

You brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I'll just say this is "I wish you farewell"

I hope you're somewhere prayin', prayin'
I hope your soul is changin', changin'
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, prayin'

Demitri's back hit the tree, and he sank to his knees at the base of it, his posture begging Bella for forgiveness as her advance grew steadily closer, still in the same

slow, sinuous march. He did not defend himself.

Ah sometimes, I pray for you at night, oh
Someday, maybe you'll see the light
Whoa oh oh oh, some say, in life, you're gonna get what you give
But some things only God can forgive

The scar on Bella's forearm split, and from under Bella's skin a beautiful steel sword was revealed, it's slate blade was longer than it should have been, extending itself

past Bella's reach to settle with its ornate hilt nestled in her delicate grip. The chrome roses that formed the cross-guard gleamed even in the sunless clearing, reflecting

light into Bella's suddenly unnaturally dark eyes. Bella's eyes were inhuman black holes, even the sclera consumed by an endless stretch of absolute darkness.

Yeah! (I hope you're somewhere prayin', prayin')
I hope your soul is changin', changin'
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, prayin'

With a sudden intake of breath, Isabella plunged the sword into Demetri's heart, killing him instantly.

Carlisle crossed himself and stared at his human daughter. Edward bolted across the clearing, reaching Bella as she stumbled backward. The blade reeled itself back into

the confines of her torn flesh, the scar on her arm sealing whole and unbroken once more.

Bella stared at her lover, confused and disoriented as her weak stumbles made her stagger. Edward caught her before she could fall, wrapping his arm around her waist

without hesitation. When Edward met Bella's gaze, the black faded inwards until her eyes were normal, doe-eyed brown once more.

Bella's gaze flitted from the four corpses littering the clearing to the Cullens standing at the edge of the field, to Edward's compassionate face, touching her hand to his as if making sure he were real.


I Know Places

Urgently, Bella spun away from Edward, keeping her hand in his as she faced the mountains once more. Scanning the scene in front of her, Bella and the Cullens saw

the black specks that danced on the horizon at the same time. They were too far away for even vampire eyes to make out detail, but they were getting closer too quickly

to be anything natural.

The breathless silence of the field broke when Bella clutched Edward's hand between both of her own, leaning towards him with intensity in the movement. She focused

her full attention on him. She spoke quickly, panic making her words roll off her tongue in a heap. "Edward, I know you don't understand what's going on. I'm so sorry,

God, you'll never know how sorry I am, but I can't explain right now. Please, you have to come with me now." She turned to Carlisle across the field. "Please. I know

you don't understand. We have to run. Get back to your house. Trust me." She removed her left hand from his to run it down Edward's face. The bloody grip she

maintained on him with her right hand turned white-knuckle tight. "Trust me." she implored desperately.

At Edward's nod, Bella used their entwined hands to swing herself onto Edward's back. Hooking her unbloodied arm around his shoulders in a piggy-back hold, Bella

pointed east, towards the Cullen homestead. "Run, all of you, but stay together. Run as fast as you can."


The black specks on the horizon were close enough for Alice to make out the details of their features. They were bird-shaped, but no bird had ever looked like this. The

wings on the creatures were skeletal and bat-like, with pulsing black-filled veins crisscrossing them in patterns that were somehow violent. Their bodies were emaciated

and decaying, with rotting eyes and a wide mouth splitting their skeletal faces in two, lined with wicked teeth coated in blood. Alice wouldn't have thought a vampire

could still feel like throwing up, but disgust roiled in her gut, almost making her wretch.

Emmett had already scooped up Rosalie, taking off after Bella and Edward without breaking his focus from his devastated wife. Carlisle and Esme were looking back from

their ready poses at the tree line, waiting for Alice and Jasper to catch up. Jasper tangled his fingers with hers and yanked her back to reality, dragging her usually

nimble feet behind him. Alice ran.


Gold

When they reached the Cullen homestead, Bella released her hold on Edward, sliding off his back and planting her feet on the ground with surprising grace. Emmet

grabbed her by the shoulders roughly as she hit the ground, shaking her violently as Edward grabbed hold of him with a snarl. Bella calmly met Emmett's eyes.

"Explanations are coming, Emmett, but now is not the time." Raising her voice to address the entire family, Bella spoke with authority. "You have two minutes to gather

everything of value to you in this house which you can carry without appearing inhuman. Don't bother with money."

Carlisle watched as Bella strode quickly into the house through the back door, raising her eyebrows as Carlisle followed. He shrugged, "Esme knows what to grab for me,

and I wish to speak with you." "Not now."

As Bella reached the living area, she scooped up the diamond which had held her goodbye message, spinning it between her fingers until it turned into a golden coin.

She began to flip the coin between her knuckles, back and forth across her fingers, and golden mist rose in the room once more. The horrific shades landed at the edge

of the lawn, but when the creatures approached the house the golden mist disintegrated them, their decaying bodies turning to ash as they fell. Animalistic screams and

growls rang through the house. The creatures were trapped at the edge of the lawn, pushing and shoving to get away from the deadly mist.

Bella's eyes were once again consumed, this time glittering with golden light as she cast her spell. As Carlisle watched on, Bella threw the golden coin into the middle of

the room, where it hung suspended in midair. The room filled with glowing threads, some thick as ribbons, some strong twine. Each golden line connected to the coin,

thickening as they grew closer to it and splitting into branch-like threads as they got farther from the coin.

Bella traced the lines frantically, touching each one. Where she traced the ethereal stings, shimmering figures coalesced, vaguely humanoid shapes that disappeared

when Bella moved on to the next. Shifting his gaze to Bella's face Carlisle watched as her frantic frustration grew, her expression rapidly approaching panic until one of

the strings chimed when she touched it. The shimmering shadow that erupted from this thread grew more distinct than the others, and Carlisle could make out long hair

and a toned masculine figure with clear green eyes and handsome features.

Relief made Bella's shoulders sag as she examined the thread, pulling at it so it feathered into multiple strings. Though her face was painted in concentration, Carlisle

could see an underlying joy burgeoning on her face.

Esme took his hand, awe brightening her worried features. Rosalie and Emmett arrived next, with Jasper and Alice close behind. Each couple had a duffel bag hanging

off their shoulders. Edward was strangely the last to arrive and carried nothing with him, though his jean pockets bulged with unknown items. Hesitantly, Edward

approached his lover, laying a hand on her shoulder until she met his gaze with her gold-painted one. Determination and sadness warred on the face of Carlisle's first

son.


Bella blinked herself back to reality, the golden lines fading from existence to leave the living room normal once more. The coin, still hanging in midair began to spin

lazily, and then faster and faster as Bella moved her eyes around, landing on each couple for a few seconds before moving on to the next. She focused on Edward once

more, and lyrical words began to fall from her lips.


The Rose

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring - becomes the rose

The slow song captivated the Cullens, each one of them falling under Bella's thrall. Edward's face was painted in awe and wonder as under Bella's outstretched hand,

fresh green vines began to curl upward, roots spreading along the suddenly supple floorboards. The stems and leaves blossomed rapidly into the most beautiful red rose

Edward had ever seen. Velvet soft and rich burgundy, the single rose had thorns at least a half-inch long, and though the plant below the flower continued to blossom

with leaves and new growth, no other flowers emerged. As Bella uttered the last line of the powerful song, she reached out towards the flower, her fingertips deftly

avoiding the thorns as she plucked the bloom.

Immediately after disconnecting from its only bud, the plant withered and died, brown rapidly spreading along its soft leaves until all that remained was a withered

stump. The flower, encased in Bella's light grasp, glowed for a moment before it spread its petals with a golden shimmer.

For one glorious moment, the flower bloomed beautifully, but the petals quickly began to droop and fall, exposing the center of the flower. Edward felt his heart fall too

and did not know why. But as the center of the flower was revealed, a stone nestled in its delicate petals began to be seen, a clear-cut crystal encasing a perfect

miniaturized replica of the beautiful flower. Bella held the strange pendant out to Edward as a delicate golden wire bloomed into existence around the stone, wrapping

the gem and connecting it to a sturdy gold chain.

He took the stone from her. "As long as you love me, Edward Cullen, do not remove this pendant from your person." Bella helped him throw the chain around his neck,

the pendant falling to just below his sternum. She placed one hand on his heart as the other tucked the gem inside the v neck of his t-shirt.

"I don't understand."

"You will, soon enough."

Bella took one last look at all of the Cullens, who as one realized how ragged she appeared. Blood coated her right arm, scratches littered her skin. Her face was so pale

she could've passed for one of them, especially with the dark circles bruising her eyes. She was barefoot, and her shirt hung askew, stained with some of her blood, but

more of the beetles'. The capris Bella had on with her plain navy shirt were covered in dirt and water stains, torn at the knee. She had no belongings with her.

"Ready?" Bella didn't wait for a reply as she clapped her hands together around the rapidly spinning golden coin, and the Cullens and Bella disappeared in a flash of light.