First off, thank you to Katie for looking at this as I wrote it and giving me feedback. Your help is always most appreciated. The poem used in this fic was not written by me – it is from "Shattered Mirror" by Amelia Atwater Rhodes.
Cold as winter, strong as stone;
She faced the darkness all alone.
It's happening again.
Everything is quiet. While quiet means anxiety to some, to her, it is a welcome blessing.
Quiet means that no one is asking her if she is alright (she isn't, but she can't tell them that.) Quiet means that she is alone, and while the loneliness is never welcome, these silent times always are.
quiet means that her thoughts aren't creeping in on her,
threatening to drag her back down into the void.
She is able to sit for a while, staring at nothing and everything, her mind blissfully blank.
Then, a stray thought flits through the stillness. It will be as if I'd never existed.
Suddenly, the silence is maddening as she realizes that he isn't there beside her to hold her while she sleeps, to laugh as she blushes at something he says, to kiss her goodnight. How can it be as if he'd never existed when it felt like she hadn't truly existed until he'd entered her life?
She hears Charlie call her name, but the void is calling her back. The void is black, it's arms welcoming – there are no thoughts in the void, no emotions, no memories.
And no Edward.
He's not there with you either, the shadows whisper to her enticingly. And while you're there, you can't forget.
Bella falls back into the darkness with open arms.
A silver goddess; a reflection.
A mirage; a recollection.
She stares at herself in the mirror.
She does not recognize the face looking back at her. Her eyes are sunken in her face, her cheekbones far too prominent, her skin pale. She looks sickly. She looks dead.
She wishes she were dead.
His voice is musical as he says her name, and she wants to hold on to the sound forever. There is a lilt of laughter in his voice, and even though she knows she's imagining things, she can't help but smile back at him. She is surprised when she turns to the window and sees him there.
He holds out his hand to her, and she takes it. His skin is cool against her own, and she shivers, but not because she's cold.
She walks with him in silence. The feel of his hand in hers is electric. All of her senses are heightened; she feels like everything is in Technicolor. She looks around and realizes that he has taken her somewhere she's never been before. The trees are lush and green, the sky is blue. His skin shimmers as they pass through rays of sunlight.
He lets go of her hand and walks backwards away from her, still smiling, then slowly turns his back. He keeps walking. She calls his name. He doesn't turn back.
Her world fades to shades of grey, and when she opens her eyes, her waking world is all but black and white. Like Dorothy out of Oz, there is no color here.
But unlike Dorothy, she can't click her ruby heels and wish her sorrows away.
No return; no turning back.
The past is gone, the future, black.
When Renee walks into the room, Charlie standing awkwardly at her side, she doesn't respond. Not when she hears Renee's shocked gasp at what she must look like, staring unblinkingly at the wall in front of her, not when Charlie murmurs a quiet, This is why I called you.
Only when Renee sits down next to her and says Honey? It's Mom. I've come to take you home, as Charlie slowly pulls her duffel bag out from under the bed does she turn her head and stare at her mother's face.
Renee is wearing a royal blue shirt, perfect for a summer's day in Florida, and the color is too stark, too bright compared to the black and white world she has gotten used to.
Renee puts her hand on Bella's arm, slowly, as if afraid she will frighten her if she moves too fast. Charlie has begun to put her clothes in the duffel bag. Its okay, Bella. Everything's going to be okay.
That is when she realizes what is going on. They are going to make her leave Forks, leave and never come back... and something within her that has lain dormant for the past week finally wakes up.
"No," her voice is hoarse from disuse, and her mother's hand freezes where it is still lying on her arm. She can see Charlie stop dead where he stands. "No, you can't make me leave."
Renee looks away from her for just a moment to glance at Charlie.
It is the worst thing she could have done.
She jumps up suddenly, wrenching her arm from her mother's grip. "No, no, you can't make me leave," she says, shaking her head furiously. "I'm not going. I won't." Her voice grows more hysterical with each passing moment.
"Bella, honey," her father says quietly, trying to soothe her, "It's for your own good -"
"It's not for my own good!" she screams, and something inside her snaps. She grabs the bag from her father's hands and furiously begins to pull her clothes out, throwing them about the room. "How can you possibly know what's for my own good?"
"Bella, please-" her mother begs her, trying to pull the bag from her grasp, but she wrenches it back that much harder.
"NO! I'M NOT LEAVING! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME GO!" The tears she has been holding back for so long are beginning to pool in her eyes and try as she might, she can't keep them back any longer.
She throws the now empty bag to the ground, her breath coming in gasps. In her fury, she doesn't even realize she's begun to sob.
"You can't...I can't...oh God..." And that is the turning point. Breathless and heaving, she wraps her arms around herself and falls to the floor, finally letting herself go. She barely registers when her mother comes over and holds her in her arms.
She cries and cries and thinks the tears will never stop.
gather in their nest,
And she stands above the rest.
"Bella… you don't look so great. Maybe you should see a doctor."
Angela's voice is quiet, but her words startle Bella from her thoughts. She stares at her friend from across the lunchroom table. Angela stares back, looking somewhat embarrassed, but unblinking.
No one needs to ask the reason behind her emotional turmoil. Everyone has noticed the Cullens' and the Hales' absence, but the only person who has dared to ask her if she knew where they were – her Calculus teacher, someone she has grown to hate over these past few months – received a very short answer. She'd looked down at the ground and said "Gone," in a hollow voice. She knows her eyes must have looked dead.
No one asks her anything about them again after that.
Since her father has allowed her to stay in Forks, she's tried her hardest to act normal. She's started eating again, sleeping (although the nightmares haunt her every night), working. She knows she isn't nearly as social as she had started to become. She only speaks when spoken to, and even then, she gives the shortest answer possible.
Angela was always the most observant out of all of her friends. She should have known that she would notice something was still wrong, that she wasn't fooling her with her routine.
"I'm fine," she says, but her voice sounds fake to her own ears. She knows her responding smile looks forced – her smiles never reach her eyes anymore.
Angela shoots her a withering glance and leans forward. She is thankful that her friend is being so mindful of everyone else around the table. "You know, you're not fooling me." She pauses. "Maybe if you spoke to someone about – "
"I'm not seeing a shrink," she says vehemently. Charlie had suggested the same thing, and she'd responded with the same amount of furious annoyance. She is sure they weren't meaning to gang up on her, but that is what it is beginning to feel like, coming at her from behind when she least expects it. Either way, a shrink couldn't help her now. In fact, he'd probably lock her up and throw away the key.
How do you tell someone that your vampire boyfriend left you, not just because he didn't love you anymore, but because he thirsted for your blood, you more than anyone else? Because he and his vampire family were too dangerous to be around you when you were so clumsy, you couldn't even open a damn birthday present without some major catastrophe occurring?
They'd lock her up for sure. She tries to imagine herself in a padded, white room, a room devoid of any color, of any emotion, of any life, and she can't help but smirk just a little. It wouldn't be any different from the life she is living now.
Angela jumps at the anger behind her answer, then frowns when she sees the look on her face. She sighs, and Bella can tell she is frustrated. "I didn't say a shrink, Bella, I was just trying…" Angela looks at her, and then shakes her head, resigned. "Never mind."
As much as it pains her to see her friend so upset, a large part of her is thankful when Angela turns to talk to Ben about something completely unrelated to Bella or her situation.
Good. She didn't want to talk about it anyway. Not with a shrink, not with Angela… not with anyone.
hunt; she hunts the shadow.
The moon is risen; she stands below.
She stares at the bikes in the back of her truck through her rearview mirror.
As she drives to La Push, she wonders to herself as to the real reason why she is doing this, why she would keep trying to put herself in danger. The thought of breaking her promise to him is not enough to rationalize her irresponsible behavior.
After hearing his voice that night in Port Angeles, she is desperate for it, desperate for the calm hearing him brings, desperate for the adrenaline rush being reckless would bring.
She is desperate to feel.
She tells herself that she walked over to that bar just so she could hear his voice in her mind, but she doesn't tell herself that she could feel his hands on her shoulders, feel his breath against her face begging her not to do whatever crazy act she was about to perform. She feels like she is chasing shadows, chasing a dream, and for a few fleeting moments, there is color again in a world that had long ago gone bleak in shades of grey. Her shoulders twitch with the phantom feeling of his hand against the small of her back, his arm around her, his fingers running along her skin.
These feelings don't fade with time. In fact, the more she endangers herself, the more time she spends riding her bike with Jacob Black, the stronger they become. She isn't sure if she should be grateful to her memories or if she is simply delirious.
She only knows that she can't stop.
views her world through the eyes of others.
Black and white; there are no colors,
The word sounds funny to her ears. Even though she has thrown the word 'vampire' around hundreds of times, she has still not gotten used to hearing it said in normal conversation. 'Werewolf' will take even more time to get comfortable with.
Words like leech and bloodsucker fall easily from Jacob's lips, making her head spin and her heart hurt. His world is as stark and as black and white as her own, and while she (sort of) understands the nature of the vampire-werewolf rivalry, she wishes with all of her being that things could be different.
"This is the way things are, Bella," he tells her one night while they are on the beach when she finally voices her anger at his degrading word choices. "I can't help the way I feel anymore than you can."
She pauses where she stands, staring at him, taking care not to look too deeply into what he has said to her, but mulling over it just the same. The look on his face is blank, his eyes carefully free of any emotion, and she realizes that there is a double meaning to his words.
He loves her, she realizes with a start, and she can't love him back, not like that, not when she's still in love with –
She shakes her head and sighs. "It doesn't have to be that way," she says defiantly, knowing instantly that she's a hypocrite. "The world isn't just black and white."
"Yes, it does," he says softly.
The silence between them is deafening.
As she looks down upon a shattered youth.
A shattered mirror shows a shattered truth.
She is waiting for him when she abruptly has the urge to get in her truck and drive.
She isn't sure where she is going, at first. It's the middle of the day, and Charlie is at work. She's not supposed to leave the house. Edward will be there soon.
Things between them are different now. Edward loves her, and she knows that, just as well as she knows that he will never leave her again, but the trust that had always been so strong, so palpable between them… that trust is gone, replaced something much more fragile, and much more easily broken.
She knows that this is partially her fault. Her outward willingness to become a vampire makes him angry, and whenever they try to talk about it, he turns cold. His demeanor at these times reminds her too much of the days right before he left, so she tries not to bring the topic up too often.
She jumps in her truck and continues to follow her instincts, down winding roads, then through forests she recognizes, but does not really see. She does not know how long she walks. She wonders where exactly her mind is leading her to, where exactly her destination lies.
She comes to a stop at the edge of a cliff.
This cliff is familiar, the rocks and the edges all burned into her memory like the tip of a branding iron, and she pauses along the edge to stare down at the water. Unlike the last time she was here, the water is calm. She looks up and realizes that the sky is blue, but there are clouds blocking the sunlight from shining through.
"Bella – don't."
His voice is a velvet sound, music to her ears, but she doesn't turn to face him. She simply continues to stare down at the murky ocean depths below, lost in her own memories.
Edward doesn't move towards her, and she is sure that he's afraid that if he moves too fast, or at all, she'll jump. She smiles at the thought.
They are silent for a long time, him watching her, and her watching the ocean, when suddenly, he is beside her. His hand tentatively reaches out for hers, and she revels in the feeling of his skin against her own. Even this small contact makes her shiver.
"You're not going to jump," he says firmly, and there is some feeling in his voice that she can't identify. The fact that she does not know him well enough anymore to know every nuance of his emotions makes a part of her that she thought was long-healed ache. "Not unless I'm jumping with you."
She looks up from the water, from her pit of recollections, to stare at him, and the look in his golden eyes is fierce. The realization is as startling and as sudden as the night she realized that Jacob was in love with her – he really thinks she is going to jump again.
Bella pulls away from the edge, and from him, slowly but surely. Suddenly, everything comes to a screeching halt as she realizes that if he really thought that she was going to jump… that she would throw everything away again that she'd fought so hard and so long to hold onto, everything that she'd finally gained back… then he didn't know her anymore, not any better than she knew him.
She starts to shiver as her vision of the perfect life she was living with Edward was shattered and broken. The color that had finally bled back into her world when she'd been wrapped in Edward's arms for the first time in Volterra – the color had returned like a blaze of light, and it had almost been too much for her eyes to handle – fades, not completely, but enough for her to realize that maybe Jacob was right – maybe there really was only black and white.
Edward senses her distress and comes over to wrap his arms around her, asking what is wrong, what had happened, why she had come here. He holds her more tightly as she shudders even harder against him.
Her answer isn't what he is expecting, of that she is sure – his arms stiffen around her.
"We shouldn't be here. It's not safe, and you're not allowed." Her voice is hollow to her own ears, and she knows that she will have to explain herself later, but not now. Not here. Not like this.
Edward gently picks her up in his arms, and she curls into him, breathing in the familiar scent, wanting everything to fade away. Everything was so much easier when the world was black and white and she could try to forget. They are at her car in a matter of seconds, driving off moments after that.
"Bella," he says quietly. His voice is tense, but there is an underlying gentleness to the way he says her name. "Be honest with me."
Honesty between them usually results in tension, anger and regret these days, but she nods her head and says, "Okay," anyway.
His hands clench around the steering wheel, and she knows what is coming before he even has to ask the question. "Were you going to jump?"
She shuts her eyes, shake her head, and sighs. "No, Edward. I didn't have to." She fidgets in her seat, and lowers her eyes. Knowing he can hear her, she says under her breath, "I made the jump a long time ago."
They both know she isn't talking about the cliff.