Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, Charmed, or Romeo & Juliet. Nor would I ever wish to. I'd much rather be in them. There may be a few quotes here that are Stephenie Meyer's.

As I glanced at my watch one last time, I stopped resisting the current and let the water overtake me. It wasn't the cold or my exhausted, cramped muscles that made me give up. It wasn't even the utter certainty that I would die, no matter how hard I tried. No, none of that had the least influence on my lack of resistance. Instead, it was the numbers I'd seen on my watch as the ocean swallowed me under and the life drained quickly from my battered body,


Chp. 20

I felt something pull me out of the water and I struggled with the feeble strength that still resided in my body. I didn't want to live anymore. I'd failed at saving Edward. Nothing else mattered to me. I was furious at my kidnapper, taking me away from sweet oblivion, whose iron grip would not release me.

This was an easy way out. My death would be ruled an accident, instead of a suicide, which would hopefully spare Charlie any guilt over not institutionalizing me or something. But if my rescuer succeeded, I would not live. I would put myself time and time again into precarious situations designed to end in death. I did not only fight my unwanted savior for me; I also fought him for Charlie and Renee. If they thought that their daughter had been a zombie before, they had no idea what I would turn into if I survived this drowning.

Most of all, though, I fought for my sisters, especially Piper. It would hurt her far less if I were to die now than if I were to die later. She would worry constantly over when I'd make the move to end my life. As the days passed, she would die inside along with me and I could not let that happen.

I would only regret not telling Jacob that I was sorry for how I'd treated him lately. He'd been an immense jerk but that didn't justify my lying to him. I could only hope he'd know that I was sorry and grateful for everything he'd done for me.

The cold water became even colder to my already numb skin as I registered the ice-cold hands that gripped me tightly. For one wild second, I thought it was Edward. Before I could dabble in that hope too much, I remembered the flash of fire I'd seen in the water. The sheer coldness of the water and my cramped muscles combined with my terror froze me completely.

I was insane if I'd thought before that my powers were enough to combat a vampire. Sure I'd defeated Tanya, but I'd had ample opportunity to account for her speed (and strength), which I had, by casting a spell.

But now, I knew she would not give me an opportunity and as she bit down on the side of my nape, any hopes that I'd had that this was Edward were completely shattered. I felt my blood leaving my body rapidly, draining it of its life source. As the fire entered what was left of my bloodstream, I could feel my mind protecting itself and the world was quickly darkening. I closed my eyes in surrender with only one thought resonating in my head. 'I'm sorry, Edward'.

Edward P.O.V.

The pain that coursed through me left me gasping for unnecessary breaths, a decidedly human action. I resolved to remain quiet as to not draw attention to myself. Though the pain pulled me under and tore me apart, I did not attempt to avoid it in any way. It was my penance, my punishment, though it did not even come close to atoning for my sins. I did not fight for consciousness; it was futile to do so.

"I love you," a memory resurfaced. I froze and for a moment I was speechless. She'd said my name all night and I wanted to hear it attached to this "I love you". I wanted to desperately hear that she loved me. It was ridiculous to think otherwise, especially after she'd asked me to stay with her tonight. The words were almost rendered superfluous by her actions. Even after witnessing the fluorescent horror that I was in the meadow, she'd still asked me to remain by her side.

And yet, weakness and doubt arose within me, rendering the words necessary. I remembered her earlier questions pertaining to possible relations with her in the future and my eyes wandered briefly to her lips. They were delightfully pink and I could vividly remember the scalding heat and yielding softness that I had experienced from them.

'O trespass sweetly urged!' I shuddered.

I couldn't deny that I wanted to, decades of denial sharpening and intensifying the yearning. Perhaps someday in the distant future. After all I had been able to control myself today…

'But just barely,' I reminded myself. And would I really take a chance that mind over matter would be enough one day? No. I could not possibly see a future where we partook in such activities. I would never be so careless as to risk her life because of my selfish desires.

Besides, I would not let myself hurt her after all of the control I'd managed to gain, even over something that would undoubtedly be the most incredible experience of my existence. The control I'd gained today had solidified the possibility of living out my life, or rather her life, with her. That was much too important for me to risk. Maybe there was hope for us yet. It was strange to think that there was an 'us'; a vampire and a human.

Hm. Technically, there wasn't an 'us'. I frowned, searching through my memories, but the mention of an exclusive relationship (or any relationship) seemed to be as elusive as the words 'I love you, Edward'. That situation would have to be rectified immediately after she awoke. I remembered Tyler's delusional idea that he would be taking her to prom. I wanted no such misunderstandings between Bella and myself, so the best approach would be the direct one.

There were, of course, more selfish reasons behind my desire to ascertain we were an item. I wanted to make sure that others knew that Bella was off-limits, particularly Mike Newton. That way he couldn't claim to have been ignorant when I cracked his skull after another ridiculous, odious fantasy pertaining to Bella.

'The dead can't tell tales,' I snickered.

I could already imagine Bella's reaction to telling her father about us. Her face would flush and she would fidget, looking around nervously. The crease between her eyebrows would appear as they furrowed, anxiety rattling her. She had told me that she'd never truly dated anyone in Phoenix; therefore she'd probably be worried at Charlie's reaction to the word boyfriend.

It wasn't a word that I was particularly fond of myself. Though it marked Bella as exclusively mine, it almost seemed too trivial to use this word to describe our connection in a society where the words boyfriend, girlfriend, and love are tossed around without a thought or regard to their meaning.

No, I wanted to describe my role in her life as something more. I wanted a title more appropriate and deserving of my feelings for her. Lover, soul mate, friend. These all seemed lacking in some way. I frowned, contemplating what I wanted to be in Bella's life, when the answer dawned almost immediately.


The thought of marriage had never stirred me in any way other than wishing I had someone to participate in it with. And yet now, I saw it as a goal. An ultimate goal in regards to Bella. It seemed something unattainable and unachievable. A decidedly human action, one that I now wished for with more fervor than I thought I ever could. It seemed to me to be a logical step and I was ready to propose at any time. Though I highly doubted Bella would appreciate me proposing to her tomorrow. I wouldn't want to scare her away, though the temptation of doing it anyway just to witness the look on her face was strong.

As selfish as it was, I couldn't help but smile at the thought of this fascinating, amazing creature beside me, joined to me in matrimony. I thought briefly of my mother's ring as Bella shifted and sighed in my arms and I dropped a kiss onto her hair, breathing in the sweet scent of strawberry, along with her personal intoxicating aroma.

Retrieving the ring would certainly require Carlisle's assistance. It'd be hard for him to keep it from Esme, knowing the news would cause her much joy. Not one of my family members could lie to their respective spouses if asked a direct question. They could only avoid telling them certain details.

There was only one person that I couldn't lie to and I sighed at the impending conversation. She'd certainly seen this now and she would surely attempt to use this as a reason to be friends with Bella.

"You're not planning to kill her if you want to marry her," she would argue. "That was the only thing stopping us from being friends: your indecision."

Alice was already exceedingly anxious to begin their predicted friendship and would certainly come over in the morning. I knew her too well to think even for a second that she'd wait until Monday to meet Bella. It seemed our activity for tomorrow was decided then. Bella would meet my parents and siblings tomorrow. I hoped my decision would prevent Alice from running here in the early morning.

As to Bella, I didn't know how she would react, but I could only hope. I would not force her to go to my house, not if it was something she was truly averse to. I could now see how to introduce the topic. A mutual exchange of visits would occur tomorrow. I would officially meet her father and she would meet my family.

I could only hope that they wouldn't be the catalyst that would drive her running as far as she could away from me.

As if she understood my torment she pushed herself impossibly closer to me and laid her head back on my shoulder, drawing my attention to her exquisitely graceful neck and more alarmingly to the pulsing beat beneath it. I froze reflexively as venom poured swiftly into my mouth. I tried to swallow it back quickly, the urge to sink my teeth roughly into her neck overwhelming in its intensity. The arms that had previously wrapped around her in an embrace now formed a prison, unwilling to release its prey. I leaned forward a bit, the monster rejoicing in the action. I desperately wanted to taste her and witness firsthand if her blood was as sweet as it smelled. Only my stiffness and utter aversion to causing her any harm or pain gave me slight control.

"I love you, Edward," she suddenly said, a hint of a smile in her voice.

The emotion that crashed into my system left me surprised and gasping. It gave me enough strength to beat down the monster and regain more control of myself. I unlocked my arms and carefully extricated myself from her, rising from the bed as quietly as I could so as not to wake her. I sat down carefully in the rocking chair and turned it so that I could get a better view of her. I could not believe the reaction that four little words could inspire within me. I felt like I was running and I physically looked down to make sure that my feet weren't moving. I could almost empathize with drug addicts now. Except that my substance was the essence of purity and goodness and had possibly changed me for the better.

This feeling, this rush that I felt, kept me bound and attached to this girl. I'd already known that I was hers, but now I could feel it more acutely than I'd ever felt anything before. It only reinforced what I'd already known; that killing this girl was unacceptable. I could not and I would not. Even before, my leaning forward had been in an attempt to get closer to the source. It made me ache and scratched at my insides but I now appreciated and adored this pain. It was her.

I tried to dredge up any source of remorse but found that I couldn't. For the first time since we'd met, misery was absent from my body and only pure uncontrollable joy resided.

My body shuddered uncontrollably and I instinctively bared my teeth at the woman put her hand on my shoulder. Her eyes widened in fear and she quickly retrieved her hand, stumbling as she stepped back. I knew my rudeness was reaching extraordinary heights, but my pain did not even allow me to formulate words. It was quiet and dark, allowing me the opportunity to wallow in my guilt. Since the day I'd met Isabella Swan, I'd hurt her, while she had done nothing but save me. I would not let her death go unavenged, however. That was an issue that would be rectified as soon as I could convince them.

I opened my eyes for the first time in 13 hours and looked out of the window beside me. The sun was setting, depriving the world of its warmth and beauty, casting the land into darkness.

'My midnight sun,' I mourned.

I steeled myself as the carrier made a rough impact with the ground, against the memories flooding my mind. I closed my eyes again as the man over the loudspeaker announced, "Benvenuti in Firenze".

Bella P.O.V.

"What?" I yelled, standing up more rapidly. Any blood that I had left in my system quickly drained from my face, making my already unusual pallor even paler. "You knew and you remained here? How could you hide something like this from me?"

"We're sorry, Bella, but you were under an intense amount of pain and we didn't think telling you was an option at the moment," Sean replied. His calm demeanor was upsetting me, more so than it would normally.

"We have to save him; nothing else matters," I whispered. "Please."

"We will, Bella, have some faith. The Cullens will be here soon to discuss strategy; there's still time," he tried to soothe me.

I laid my head back against Billy's sofa and closed my eyes, yearning for sleep. Or better still, a course of action. I hated just staying here; it felt like an intense betrayal. Edward's life was in the Volturi's hands and I was just sitting here doing nothing. But what else could I do? Our magic was faulty as a result of the turmoil we'd undergone over the last few days. I couldn't even get my powers to work anymore.

"Why wait for the Cullens?" I demanded. "I want to go now."

"Are you so impatient that you would risk Edward's life and yours?" Sean asked.

"No," I replied. "Not his."

He wisely held his tongue and we waited in silence until it was a half-hour until our meeting time. We headed out of the house, Billy throwing me a dirty look as we passed. He was dressed in a black tux and had a bottle of whiskey next to his wheelchair. I knew the bottle was not for him and my heart broke. Sean wrapped his arm around me in a silent communication of support and we walked to the boundary.

The stupid, ridiculous line that once I crossed I would not be able to cross back again. Ever.

Sean and I quickly traversed it and ran to the approaching black Mercedes. I could remember the last time that I'd been back here, except that then I was the one in need of rescuing. Today, I would be the rescuer.

Alice turned to me as I sat beside her, her normally excited features solemn. She was speaking on her cell. "He'll be under the clock tower in the square."

I knew exactly who she was talking about and my heart constricted in pain. I let out a sob and she began rubbing my back softly in an attempt to soothe me. She murmured a few more words into the phone, but I was barely paying attention, too lost in my fear.

Alice closed the phone quickly and finally looked at me. Really looked at me. She grabbed my hand and my skin shimmered faintly in the dull lighting. Yet another sign of what I'd become. Her tone was grave, "This will devastate him, you know."

"Tough," I replied with a confidence that I certainly did not feel. "He'll learn to live with it. What did you see?"

I desperately hoped that he'd be able to live with it because otherwise I did not know what I'd do. Edward hadn't wanted me to become a vampire, had been so adamant that he'd left me to prevent its occurrence. I only knew that his reaction would not be pretty.

"He's waiting until noon. Then he'll step out into the sun in the view of hundreds of people that will see his fluorescent skin, exposing our kind. The Volturi won't let him live after that."

"Edward's been in Italy for hours; why didn't any of you go while I was still under?" I snapped in frustration. I instantly felt guilty but pushed it down quickly. There was no time to feel anything. If I stopped to let my emotions take a hold of me then I'd quickly fall apart and be completely useless.

"Because we'd lie and he knows it. Even if you had been only clinically dead, we'd still have tried to stop him. I would have lied through my thoughts screaming "She's alive" the entire time. If he hears us coming, then he'll just do something quick, like rip a building from the ground or something, instead of giving in to his theatrics. You're the only one he won't see coming."

"When does our flight leave?" My agitation crept into my voice.

"It doesn't. You can't possibly get on a plane with humans. You'd massacre them all." She looked at me incredulously but I doubted if she understood that there was no price too costly for me to pay for Edward's continued existence. "And there's no time to rent a plane."

"Then how-" I was beyond frustrated at this point. It'd been 3.84 seconds since I'd gotten into the car and we were immobile. I was anxious to get moving. Every millisecond that I was here was a thousandth of a second wasted.

"Leo will take you and quickly leave. If he were to stay and the Volturi saw him, you would not leave alive. Their greed for his abilities would kill you."

"How much time do we have?"

"Two minutes. Put this on."

She handed me a long grey wool cloak and I quickly pulled it on. I was much too preoccupied to even ask about the conspicuousness of the cloak. I could clearly see the interwoven fibers in the material and wondered if there was any way to turn off this heightened vision. It was starting to give me a migraine. One benefit was that the material covered me from head-to-toe and had a hood that sheltered my head. Not an inch of my skin was visible and it eliminated the problem of others seeing my sparkling features.

"Two minutes?" I shrieked. "Where the hell is Leo?"

"He's on his way; he had to go to scout out the area. He wanted to see where he could drop you off safely. It would be disastrous if he just dumped you in a random alley. You'd have to get through throngs of people and you'd end up exposing us. Now when you run toward Edward there are a few things that you need to remember?"

I remained immobile, paying close attention to her instructions as my breathing became shallower.

"First thing is to hold your breath. The sight of humans will be appetizing enough but if you smell their blood, you won't be able to resist. It'd be pointless for you to save Edward only to slaughter the masses inside the city walls and get yourselves killed. If you absolutely need to speak, breathe through your mouth, but try to avoid it unless it's completely necessary because we can literally taste scents on our tongues if you hadn't already noticed. Second thing, try to make as little noise as possible. I don't mean your voice; if you're able to call out to him to get his attention while still holding your breath, even better. Make sure, however, that he can't hear your footsteps or sense you. The last thing you need to do is pull him away from the opening of the alley so that the humans won't see him."

I nodded my head, committing everything to memory effortlessly. I kept repeating her words regardless, mouthing them as if they were part of a prayer.

There was barely a minute left and I was getting beyond antsy. My breathing had lessened and decreased until my pants turned into shallow gasps. I sounded like a member of the pack after a chase to Canada. I felt as if I had tunnel vision, as if I was in some sort of dimension where no one else existed and I was all alone. Leo finally orbed in and I threw myself into his arms.

"Let's go," I gasped, my breath slightly increasing.

"Take care of my sisters, Alice," I screamed.

We were gone moments later in a flash of bright light. We arrived in Volterra as the clock was chiming twelve. I put up the hood of my cloak quickly, looking around to ensure that no one was looking at me. Luckily, there was no one here. I inhaled through my mouth and held my breath, trying desperately to ignore the sounds of pounding hearts and blood rushing through veins. Instead I tried to focus my attention on my surroundings. I could hear the melodic language spoken from a distance as clearly as if I was standing in the crowd. I didn't understand a word, of course, but I found myself paying attention to minute details like the tone and volume in which the words were spoken. The streets were made of cobblestones and the rustic walls had cracks in them, signs of the antiquity of the city. Leo turned us around and pointed me towards the opening of the alley and orbed out with a murmured, "Good luck".

No words could possibly do justice to the exquisite creature only 4 yards away from me. His pale bare back was to me and the dim light reflecting off of his skin made it sparkle, dazzling even my eyes. The clock had chimed 11 times by this point and I was anxious to reach him quickly. Conscientious of Alice's words, I tried to make as little noise as possible as I closed the distance between us. I'd never been good at being stealthy but my motivation (his life) made me careful. He was taking a step forward to walk into the light when I wrapped one arm around his bare torso and grabbed onto his arm, pulling him back desperately. I'd never been more grateful for my superior newborn strength.

I pulled him back from the mouth of the alley and pushed him against the wall. His eyes were closed and I could clearly see the dark purple shadows underneath them. If I didn't know better I'd think he'd gotten himself punched in both eyes. I shook him, trying to get him to open his eyes. We had to get out of here before the Volturi found us. He refused to open his lids and I finally used some of the breath I was holding to speak.

"Edward, please."

He responded my words but still didn't open his eyes. Instead his hands roamed over my body and he buried his face into my neck.

"Bella," he sighed, my body tightening in response.

The feel of his lips distracted me and I desperately tried to stop him; we needed to escape now. The tension that was always between us reared its stifling head and was much more intense now that I was unbreakable. I longed to kiss him and weld my body to his irreversibly.

"Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty," he spoke into my neck. My vestigial heart melted and I whimpered in response but I pushed him away. It seemed that he believed that I was dead. Well, I was but he was taking it way too well to know my true condition, which meant he didn't know yet.

He moved back and finally opened his eyes. He stiffened instantly and stared at me, his gaze darkening in anger and I steeled myself for his response. I knew that this would not be pretty.

"What-" he began, his tone harsh. He was interrupted by the sound of a throat clearing to our left, from deep in the alley. We froze and I gripped his arm tightly. There were two men in grey cloaks similar to mine, their stances offensive. They both had black hair, though one's was shoulder-length and wavy hair while the other's was cropped short. They both must have had olive complexions as humans because their pallor was unusual when compared to the chalky skin of other vampires. The one with the cropped hair was absolutely massive in size; his tall and thick stature could only be dwarfed by Emmett's gargantuan body.

"The Volturi," I whispered as the two pale murderers with burgundy eyes advanced on us, forcing us closer to the mouth of the alley and the sight of hundreds of unsuspecting humans.

AN: And I'm here!!! I can't ever fully explain to you how sorry I am for being AWOL. My only excuse is that my computer crashed and it literally took months to get it fixed. Thank you for all your wonderful reviews and I'm sorry for the long delay.

This chapter is dedicated to my cat, Baby, who passed away almost two weeks ago. She's one of the reasons I worked my butt to get this chapter out to you. I hope you enjoy it. Got to go get ready for the midnight showing. Only one or two more chapters left. Patience – everything will get explained by the end. OMP=ONE MINUTE PAST.