Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer, not me.

Author's note: I know I should be working on my other (three) stories in progress, but this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone. I finally compromised by making it a one-shot. The style is a little different than what I normally write in, but I think I like it. Also, this is my first Twilight fanfiction, so feedback would be appreciated. Constructive criticism is always welcome, and any review makes me happy. And as a final note, I'd like to add that switches from the past to present tense were intentional.

Pain. Unimaginable pain branches out from my neck and spreads throughout my body. Pure agony, and I wanted this.

Screaming. I feel the reverberations of the screams bounce off the walls. Why won't they stop screaming? No. Why can't I stop screaming?

Cold. His hand is cold against mine as he looks into my eyes fearfully. I want him to leave, but my tongue is heavy and useless. Why should he suffer when it was my idea to do this?

Fire. My body, my world is on fire. Except for his hand. His hand is keeping me here, keeping me coherent and sane.

Carlisle had given me a book on these changes, on all of the stages. Right now Edward's venom was coursing through my veins, working its way to the final destination: my heart. I had to stay alive for thirty-six hours, thirty-six hours before my heart stopped. If I didn't have enough blood to sustain me for the thirty-six hours it took the venom to reach the heart, I would dieā€¦ for good.

The circumstances were very odd. There I was, an 18-year-old mortal, dying. My boyfriend began to kill me after prom, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd asked him to. I'd begged him to. I wanted to leave the mortal and enter the immortal. I wanted forever, if only it was with him.

By the look on his face, he would speed up the process if he could. Even then I could see the regret flashing in his eyes, the pain in his eyes mirroring my own. Edward had told me that I would hate him for turning me into a monster, but one hour into the process, I loved him more than ever.

Love. I love him. My mouth contorts into a weak smile, and he grasps my hand more tightly. He is my link to the world, without him I would fall off. He is my everything, my angel. His brow furrows and I want to tell him that it's adorable, but my tongue is still stone and my throat still sandpaper. He begins to hum my song, and I distance myself from the pain as I fall into what could be my last sleep.

I was sleeping on my deathbed, but somehow it wasn't as restful as I thought it would be. It wasn't my final resting-place; I would never have one of those. No, it was pure Hell. Maybe Heaven would come later, and they were both there to taunt me with what I would never have. How could Hell taunt me? My flames would soon end. And how could Heaven compare? I would be with my own personal angel for eternity.

Images danced before my eyes. The sunny days La Push, Jessica shooing me into a mall, and Mike paying more attention to me than the microscopic organisms he was supposed to be observing. All well and good, and I began to think that dying wasn't that bad after all. But then I saw it.

I saw Mom first, and then Charlie. They were sad, crying. And then I saw it, my headstone. I watched as my coffin was lowered into the earth, but I knew that I couldn't be in there. I was a vampire, not a corpse. With a sinking realization, I realized that I was in the coffin, neither alive nor immortal, merely running low on oxygen. I clawed at the lid of the coffin but my fingernails broke off and I smelled my blood, which still smelled of rust and salt. But instead of passing out, I felt a strange new sensation. I was hungry, as I'd never been before. I tried to lick my blood off of the coffin, but the lid opened and I saw James standing there, ready to complete his job. I wasn't dead, I wasn't a real vampire, and I wasn't alive. I was in Purgatory, and I'd been condemned there for life.

James then stepped into a fireplace and fell down the shaft. I was shocked, but my reasoning began to take over. This was the vampire version of Purgatory, and I had taken James's place. Maybe he had been stuck here because he had not finished the job with me, and now that I was finished; his soul could finally be free. But then I heard him screaming, and a dial above the fireplace pointed to the number seven. Again I had a moment of realizationā€¦ Dante. This was his Inferno, and James was wallowing in the seventh layer of Hell amidst pools of blood. James would be happy in such a bloody layer of Hell, the layer for the violent. Only instead of cries of glee I heard wracking sobs, his demonic body crying for his sins as his immortal form never could.

Bloody hands reached out of the fireplace and began reaching for my coffin. I began to scream as my coffin left a bloody trail moved toward the flames.

Blood. I am lying in my own blood. "No!" I wail, and Edward grips my hand more tightly. My eyes fly open and as soon as I see the clean white sheets around me, I begin to stutter, "I- you're here- just a dream. E-Edward!" I curl up into a tiny ball as his arm slips around me, and I feel safe. Only a few moments pass and then I feel the pain again.

Knives. The knives are clawing at my chest now, and I try to make myself as small as possible. The pain has returned, and it is worse than it was before. My pain has multiplied tenfold.

Thud. Wheeze. Thud. Wheeze. The steady beats of my heart and breath keep me sane. Thud. Wheeze. Wheeze. Wheeze. Wheeze. I stop breathing. I don't need to anymore. I glance at the clock: thirty-six hours. I'm dead. I glance at my hands and find that they are the same. I begin to sit up but fall down again as pain envelops me once more.

Iron. Molten iron is running through my veins. How is it running with no heart to propel it? Edward is looking at me anxiously. I attempt to smile, but only achieve a grimace. His left hand squeezes mine, and he buries his face into the remaining hand.

Pain. He feels pain, too. I don't want him to. Why can't we be free?

My senior year in high school, Charlie had convinced me to take a forensics class. He'd promised no blood and a lot of useful information, and he turned out to be right. His no blood promise was upheld (not counting pictures of corpses), and I was provided with information on a far more valuable topic: death. I'd paid special attention to the section about how the human body deteriorates, and I was fairly certain about what would happen to me when I was changed.

Of course, the book Carlisle gave me changed things a bit, but it only made sense. The two sums of thirty-six hours gave me that glorious sum of seventy-two, three days. I had three hours in which my muscles would move, and only eight hours of warmth left.

Salt. My blood is salty, just like the waves at La Push. I silently curse my blood; it is causing me this pain. Remembering my courage, I touch Edward's face with my free hand. "Come be warm," I manage to say, and Edward nods as he settles down next to me. He seems to draw comfort from my human temperature, and to me, he is a giant icepack. My pain alleviates slightly, but I don't dare utter another word. It would only ruin this perfect moment.

Cold. I feel so comfortable in his stone-cold arms. If I could, I would have fallen asleep by now, but I can't anymore. I now live in a world of eternal night without rest. Stealing a glance at the clock, I am surprised to see that I've been lying here for two hours. Unwillingly, I move slightly to face Edward, ignoring the pain it causes me to move. He has never seen a transformation. If my theories are right, he'll soon be holding a rigid corpse. "Edward," I whisper, and his eyes lock onto mine. I don't know if he'll ever stop dazzling me, but it's highly unlikely. "I'm pretty sure I won't be able to move for the next day or so." Edward nodded quickly, pulling me back against him gently.

Blush. I can still blush right now, and I do as I realize that Edward must have acquired this knowledge somewhere over the last century. Foolish, foolish little Bella. That's probably what he would say if he hadn't been seemingly struck mute thirty-nine hours ago. Thirty-nine and my eyes close.

When I told Edward I'd be out-of-action for a day or so, I'd been lying. I would keep my warmth for another five hours, but I'd be stiff the remainder of the transformation. After those five hours, I'd be cold and stiff for another twenty-eight hours.

Iron. The metallic-smelling blood inside of me seems to have frozen. That explains why I can't move. I am freezing slowly, beginning at the heart. The cold slowly moves toward my skin, and once it reaches I will be eternally cold. The icy blood feels good; it is soothing the fire that rages inside of me. I can no longer see my Edward or the clock, and his absence especially unsettles me. I feel him, but I cannot see him.

Crazy. I do believe I am going crazy. I'm trapped in a world without sight, without the ability to speak. I want to tell Edward that I love him, but there's no way for me to do that. I cannot move. Furthermore, what began as a relief is now a burden. My wonderfully chilled veins are now icicles stabbing me, and I cannot run away from them. I must simply endure this torture.

Break. My body must be breaking into millions of pieces. No longer is my body on fire; it is in the middle of a glacier. Edward seems warm now, and evidently he senses it too. He now wraps his arms around my body, trying to warm its deathly chill.

Tick. Tick. I can hear the clock as clearly as if it were right next to my ear. It suddenly dawns on me: my senses are being enhanced in this darkness. This is my rebirth to my life as a vampire, 'life' being used loosely. I love being able to hear now; it now seems like I'd never heard anything before in my life. To my surprise, Edward has been talking all the while, murmuring words of comfort and humming my song softly. Too softly for me to have heard before. I will my lungs to fill and they do; perhaps only my exterior is rigid. I am breathing in the most exquisite scent in the world: Edward. He had worried about me losing my human scent, but his vampire scent was the most alluring I'd ever smelt.

Thump. I hear feet pattering up the stairs. "Edward!" someone squeals. It's Alice, and I'm surprised that I can hear her fairy-like steps. "Oh, I saw, I saw, just a little bit longer! I'm so excited, I think I'll go pick out something for her to wear!" I groan inwardly, not even being a vampire would exclude me from Alice's dress-up games. Another icicle stabbed my heart, but they were becoming less frequent.

Murmur. I focus on Edward's voice again, he's telling me something. "Bella, ma belle, it's almost over. Less than an hour more. I am thoroughly shocked; these last hours have been the shortest by far. "I can hear your thoughts now," he says rather smugly, and I'm overwhelmingly thankful for the lack of color on my cheeks. "I could never stop loving you," he tells me. My pain ebbs even moreso, and within minutes disappears completely.

My eyes opened to see Edward's topaz orbs, and I lower my lids modestly. If I had blood in my body, I would have been as red as a tomato. "You could hear me?" I asked, mortified.

He laughed brilliantly and favored me with a crooked smile. "From the moment you died."

I heard another pitter-patter of steps, and soon Alice was standing outside of the door. "Bella! You're stunning! And you'll be even more stunning in this," she stated empathetically.

Groaning, I allowed her to usher me to the bathroom where a hot shower awaited me. I went straight to the shower, an oasis in the desert, and allowed myself to be lost under the water. It was all so surreal, what had seemed like years on end had only been three days. In those three days I'd given up my old life and embraced a new existence. Before the bite had been administered, I'd been warned that I wouldn't be able to see my family for about five years, in which time I'd be learning how to resist the scent of human blood.

The plan was to write letters for those five years, saying that Edward and I had eloped. Which, in a sense, we were going to. I stepped out of the shower, dried myself off, and put on the clothes that Alice had left for me. With surprise, I noted that they were my own clothes, Edward's favorite outfit. I quickly set to toweling my hair dry, and then used the blow dryer by the sink. I didn't, however, touch the make-up Alice had set out for me.

Upon looking in the mirror, I was slightly disappointed. Though my skin was paler than it had been and my eyes were now a deep black, nothing else had changed. Sighing, I walked out of the bathroom toward my godly boyfriend. He was simply too perfect for me.

"Never think that," he told me seriously, and I belatedly remembered that he could hear my thoughts now. "You gave up your life for me, I could never match that."

"But you have," I sighed, resting my head on his chest, and marveling at how he didn't flinch at all. "You have so many times. You gave me forever."

His eyes caught mine again, and I suddenly couldn't remember how to breathe. I technically didn't need to breathe, but it was a comforting habit. "You need to eat," he said darkly, and I felt a knot form in the pit of my stomach. "But first, the rest of the family wants to see you."

"Okay," I replied, feeling rather disappointed. I'd formerly possessed the childish thought that once I was a vampire, Edward and I would be closer, both physically and emotionally. But he seemed so upset now. I ducked my head, but I couldn't have formed a tear if I'd wanted to. He'd given me forever. I'd taken forever. And he was already regretting it.

"I can still hear you," he said, his eyes darkening as he took a step back.

"It doesn't mean that you have to listen!" I yelled, surprising myself with how loud I was.

"I'll always listen to you," he said, continuing before I could get a word in edgewise, "don't you think I want the same things? Eating is a necessity, an ugly necessity of my existence, and now of yours. Could it possibly be that I don't want you to see me as a monster? I can be afraid too; afraid that you won't feel what you just felt once you see what I really am. That's why I didn't want to change you, I didn't want you to share this curse."

"Eternity with you is no curse," I told him softly, "I'm sorry I over-reacted." I felt his strong arms wrap around me tightly, and I felt secure. What would have knocked the breath out of me as a human was now my stronghold, and I clung to him desperately. "I'll love you forever," I murmured into his shirt, breathing in the smell of him.

Remembering former conversations, Edward smiled crookedly. "And I'll love you for the rest of my life." I smiled appreciatively, and he continued, "but we really should get downstairs, Emmett is contemplating storming the room."

So I began my new existence. It was never perfect, but I never wanted it to be. After all, where would Edward and I be without the "I love you more" fights? Again, breathing is perfect, but where would our love be if I never lost the art of breathing when I saw his eyes?