It had come to this. All our careful plans, scattered like so many leaves on the wind. They were coming for us, and there was nothing we could do.

A fresh wave of pain gripped me, and I felt Edward's cold arms clutch me tighter.

"Breathe, Bella, love. Breathe."

Hysteria gripped me – when would it ever stop? My breathing became shallower and, against my will, a moan of pain escaped my lips.

I saw him shoot a worried glance across my body, toward a figure I could no longer see.

"Carlisle, we've got to get her out of here before they find us."

"It's too late, Edward. We can't move her now. Once it starts, there's no stopping it. It would just endanger her if we tried to run."

"But surely there is time? I can carry her, you know I can!"

"Alice says they are almost here. They outnumber us; we could never outrun them. It's too dangerous. We'll have to try to talk our way out of it."

The searing pain seemed to fade – or was that my consciousness? I was really losing my grip. I clung to Edward's hand and willed him to look me in the eye.

"You didn't tell me it would be like this…" I gasped, trying to catch my breath.

"Poor Bella," he sighed. "I am so sorry I did this to you." He bent to wipe my brow, adding a kiss for good measure.

"Carlisle?" I squinted at the blurry figure, just outside the range of my vision.

"Yes, Bella?"

"I want you to leave." I panted. "Now, before the Volturi get here."

"There is no question of that, Bella. I am here for the duration." The blur moved, as if to look over his shoulder. "They are almost here."

"Edward?" The panic in my voice was unmistakable.

"Right here, love."

"Don't leave me," I managed to choke out as another wave of pain rose and spread through my body.

"Not ever," he promised, holding on tight as I squeezed his stony hand ever tighter.

And then, blissfully, it all faded to black.