This takes place in the fourteen hours Bella is asleep at the end of New Moon, after she and Edward return from Volterra. It is from Edward's perspective.
"And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's,
In deepest consequence."
- William Shakespeare
I felt total agony writhe its way through every corner of my frozen being. I felt it for many reasons, ones that seemed both negligible and all consuming at the same time. I felt it not just about the past few months, which were thoroughly my doing as well, but about this present moment. I watched her deep brown eyes flicker open for just a small moment, but in that infinitesimal fraction of a second I saw hell. I saw worlds of hurt, entire universes where all that existed was an overwhelming torture. I saw her pain, her entirely rational fear of being left alone. Before her eyelids fluttered shut I knew I had already had my mind made up for me; there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn't going anywhere, nor did I want to. But there was the small matter of Charlie, seething in white-hot anger behind me...
"W-what...w-why..." The words stuttered as they fell out, clearly shaking with the effort of being civil enough for formalized language. His face was a rather unhealthy shade of dark crimson, clenched tight in pure unadulterated rage. I also read the deep concern for his daughter pooling deep in his eyes.
"I'm leaving, sir," I whispered politely, not wanting to wake Bella. Of course, I wanted nothing more on the planet than to stay, but I couldn't. At least, not now I couldn't. After being away for so long, I desired her near me, craved the closeness we had in Volterra. Even then, though, she shied away from me, almost as if...I couldn't think the thought. I brought my thoughts back to Bella. Her pale skin, angelic beauty...the absence from the sight of her seraphic face had only made me more captivated with it. I was addicted, like a relapsing addict lusting over his next fix. Exactly my brand of heroin...
Charlie's forced puffs of breath woke me from my enamored thoughts. His face was now purple, and it seemed to be pounding with every heartbeat, in and out, in and out. With more than a little bit of unhappiness, I pried Bella's warm hands off my shirt, cringing with the effort. She was holding on for dear life. I finally freed her hands, pausing just a moment to revel in the feeling of her skin and mine, touching yet again. We'd not let each other go since Italy, but I treated every moment as if it was our last. I allowed myself one last glance at her peaceful sleeping figure before I meekly walked down the steps. I hurried outside to the car, with Alice waiting in the driver's seat. My daydreams now unable to protect me, I was suddenly acutely aware of Charlie's thoughts, swirling through the air as if they had a mission. I saw it all, things I never wanted to see. Things that will haunt me for the rest of my doomed existence.
I opened the car door and slid into the passenger seat. I felt defeated, exhausted. The last hateful barrage of memories really hit home. Bella throwing out all of her cd's. Bella crying in her room, door locked. Bella screaming in the middle of the night. A knot twisted in the pit of my stomach, ripping out everything it came into contact with. My head swam with emotion, sadness and fury and regret and passion all mixing together into an indistinguishable mess. That's all I was now, a mess. But in all of those months, all of that time sitting in that God-forsaken attic, I had never thought she would be as broken up about it as me.
"Edward, you know--" Alice's thoughts came floating in from the back of my mind. I looked up to see her face darken into its own blend of sadness. She had seen firsthand the path of destruction my leaving had caused, the empty hole it ripped into my only love, my beautiful Bella. Alice had seen her eyes ache at my name, her bottom lip quiver in anguish. I saw it all through Alice's own eyes, and I felt it all rip open my chest and spill out the contents. Violently. That's how I deserved to die. That's how I deserved to feel. For what I had done--even though it was done with only the most perfect intentions--I deserved to spend my eternity cursed as I was, to constantly feel the torment I had inflicted upon her. Never mind that I had endured my own kind of distress. For hurting her in that way, I deserved it, and a thousand times more.
Alice had her eyes trained on the road, blocking her thoughts by singing a rather annoying pop song. I shot her a patronizing look and looked out the tinted windows. I realized we were pulling into my home, the home I had missed since I left it so long ago. I could feel the edge of my family's thoughts, burning with questions and reprimands. I could hear Esme's anxious tone, creeping into her thoughts with a desperate edge. I felt Carlisle's relief, flooding his mind with a feeling of calm. He was just happy I was back, and I smiled knowing that at least there was one person who wouldn't attack me with angry words. Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper...I would have to deal with them all, eventually. They needed to tell me their opinions, probably as much as I didn't want to hear them. But there would be time for all of that late, endless time...I smiled, thinking of eternity. Now that Bella was back, eternity seemed not so unendurable. As the car stopped in front of the white house, I braced myself for the onslaught awaiting me. With Alice walking squarely by my side, I walked up the porch steps and toward the mahogany doors. I thought of Bella, sleeping soundly in her room, and was cheered by the idea of her waiting for me, ready to speak volumes with her sleepy words. My last thought, as I stepped through the door, was something Emmett once said. "Hell's not so bad if you get to keep an angel with you."