DISCLAIMER: I do not own Twilight- all things related belong to Stephenie Meyer.

Hey Guys,

Although its late I just wanted to wish you all a very happy and luck filled new year! May all you aspire towards this year be achieved.

Also, thank you all for the reviews you sent in!

That's all- I'll shut up now so can enjoy Chapter 21…

Chapter 21: Love me, Don't hate me

BELLA'S POV:

As I slowly begun to enter full consciousness I concurrently began to register an onslaught of memories. I remembered, with full clarity, all that had occurred the previous day;

I remembered fainting.

I remembered waking briefly to see a paramedic standing over me shinning an irritating white light into my eyes.

I remembered experiencing the odd feeling of moving, floating almost, without actually doing anything.

I remembered the professional tone of familiar voices, and the artificial tone of my heartbeat as it was played back through the speakers of one of those hospital heart monitor things I had always hated…

It was with that final memory I became fully aware of my surroundings, and slowly opened my eyes.

The room began to spin instantly, and I closed my eyes once more in an attempt to cease both the spinning and the horrible headache that had suddenly presented itself.

I lay completely still for a few moments, breathing deeply and trying to form a picture of my surroundings without actually looking at them. I knew I was lying on a hospital bed- one of those white steel ones with the extremely uncomfortable mattresses. I heard muffled voices come from my left and assumed that the doorway into the room was somewhere in that direction. The incessant beeping of the heart monitor came from my right, and beneath that I was aware of the soft rustle of turning book pages and the faint sound of someone breathing.

Curious, I slowly opened my eyes again and was met with the merciful sight of a perfectly normal looking, non-moving hospital dorm. My body, however, was not so merciful. My head still pounded and I was growing increasingly aware of various other aching muscles.

"Bella?" the murmured sound of my name made me turn instinctively to my right, and I gasped at the sharp pain the movement caused in my head.

Then a firm yet tender hand cupped my cheek and turned my head so I was no longer facing once side. "You know, if you stopped moving for just one minute you'd be surprised how much better you would feel." The smile in Edward's voice was hard to miss and I couldn't resist turning to look at him. Though all that granted me was a sorer head (if that was even possible) and a stern glance from Edward.

"Bella-"

"-I know, I know. But before I turned into some form of an ever obedient robot, I wanted to tell you something." I met his questioning gaze with my own, and removing all humour from my voice said a very genuine, "Thank you."

He sighed deeply and turned to pull the chair he had been sitting on beside my bed. He then glanced up at me once more and shook his head modestly.

Annoyed I rolled my eyes, "Edward do not shake your head. Do not act like you're not angry at me, or that I never got you and your family killed, or that-"

"-Bella," he interrupted, "me and my family are already dead-technically. You couldn't have gotten us killed." His face was neutral but I could see the humour sparkling in his eyes, and I was irritated by his uncharacteristic lack of focus.

"You know what I mean! Honestly Edward, you're over a century old and you still act like a child!"

"Look at the positive side, at least I'm not as childish as Emmett." He replied, finally smiling.

"Yeah, well that's Emmett." I said, which caused us to smile broadly at each other before sharing a moment of laughter.

Suddenly thereafter, Edward became serious, almost sombre. He stood to lean over me once more, kissed my forehead and murmured a soft, "Are you sure you are alright?"

I bit my lip, whilst I silently assessed my body (not for the first time), and then nodded slowly when I was sure my aches and pains were no more then bruises and severe fatigue.

Edward's body suddenly relaxed, as though he had been holding his breathe, and he nodded as if to reassure himself.

"Thank goodness." He said, "Carlisle has assured me countless times that you experienced no serious injuries and that he had just brought you here to monitor you overnight because you had experienced a whole lot of trauma to the mind and body. But I couldn't stop myself from imagining the worst, especially when you lay so still for so long…I just-"

"-Edward?" I whispered, interrupting him before he could speak anymore. "Relax. I'm fine, and I…" I paused to take a deep breathe to steady myself, "And I love you, which is all you need to know."

Though his eyes stayed locked with mine while I spoke, I was unable to detect any hint of emotion in them. To make things worse he said nothing in reply to what I had said, but simply nodded and grasped my hand in his.

Though I new the action itself was sentimental and was extremely aware of the butterflies in my stomach raging, I couldn't ignore Edward's sudden change in demeanour. He sat beside me with an almost ancient sadness about him, and I just knew there was something more that he wanted to say.

But for the time being I let it be, and merely sat there with the man I loved…

…living in a momentary fantasy I somehow knew could never truly be.

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BELLA'S POV:

As I pulled up outside the Cullen's house in my truck I honked the horn in a signal for Alice to meet me outside. As she walked out of the house's front door I was aware of a figure beside her, and it was obvious they were engaged in some sort of argument.

I didn't have to (or want to) look twice to know that the tall and brooding figure beside her was Edward.

He and I hadn't talked in days, at least not properly. A few words here and there hardly counted as a conversation, if I do say so myself.

But the frustrating thing wasn't that we weren't talking. It was that I had no idea why. No matter how many attempts I made to approach him, he always seemed to find a way to ignore me.

It was like the past week or so hadn't happened at all!

As Alice finally finished her discussion with her brother and opened the door to my truck, I smiled broadly at her.

"You know, you really should just try to-"

"Talk to him?" I finished her sentence for her. "Really Alice? It's not like I haven't tried, and won't keep trying. I don't need anyone to remind me, and I certainly do not need Edward spoiling my good mood. So can we just forget about this whole crappy confusion for at least one day and just go to school?"

Alice looked at me with an expression that clearly read 'are you finished yet?', and when I sighed and glanced away she simply laughed before saying, "From one problem to the next, right Bella?"

I didn't answer- I didn't have to. She knew what I was thinking; Problem? More like a complete pain in the arse.

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As the bell rang signalling the end of English class, I turned to wait as Angela picked up her books from her cluttered desk, muttering a "Me and my colour coding- why do I do it to myself?"

I smiled softly to myself just as she glanced up at me and noticed me waiting.

"Bella, sorry. You know you don't really have to wait for me. Besides I'm going home with Ben- he wants to go watch a movie tonight."

"One of those blood and guts action movies?" I questioned, before adding, "It's just a guess." whilst rolling my eyes.

She laughed and said, "I don't think it's considered a guess when it's completely predictable. Besides, what happened to the whole 'Go get him, Tiger'?"

I scoffed, and bumping her hip with mine replied with a, "Boys- you know."

She shook her head and stopped walking to turn and face me, "No, I don't know. What's happened? Actually, who's happened? I feel like I haven't seen you in forever, and by the sound of things I'm completely uninformed. So, spill."

"Nothing to spill." I replied bluntly.

"Bull." Her reply was just as blunt.

"Where?" I shrieked mockingly.

"Bella, stop acting stupid." She said, before sighing. "If there's a problem you know you can tell me, right?"

"I know I can, but honestly there's no problem. Just some stupid guy I professed my love for completely ignoring me, but no problem."

"You know, you should really just try to talk to him." Her reply was exactly like what Alice had said to me that morning, and as we began to walk to our lockers together I responded with a, "So I've been told."

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BELLA'S POV:

"All I'm asking for is some sort of explanation, Edward." I said.

Edward and I were standing on one of the houses many verandas, having a discussion that was long overdue.

So far, we had gotten no where.

"An explanation of what exactly, Bella?" he walked forward to lean on the balcony railing, and ran a frustrated hand through his already tousled hair.

"Ok, you know what? I've had enough!" As I spoke I moved towards his side briskly and placing my hands on his shoulders, turned him to face me forcefully.

"Bella, what are you-" I stopped Edward's next words with a raise of my hand. When I was sure he would not begin to talk once more, I lowered it and began to speak.

"If there is one thing you are most certainly not, Edward Cullen, it is dim-witted. Sure, you can be childish, and frustrating and sure as hell confusing. I mean, one second you're laughing with me in a hospital dorm about your brother, and the next you are acting as though I don't even exist. But that doesn't make you unintelligent. So when I ask you for an explanation, I know you are smart enough to realise what I mean and to grant me with an answer."

He sighed, and standing up straight gave me a response- though it was not the one I had been seeking, "No matter how many moments I share with you, or how much I try to tell my self otherwise, I will always live with the thought that it was me and my stupidity and my pride that almost got you killed- more than once."

I shook my head in disbelief and shoving him in the chest practically yelled, "Oh you have got to be kidding me!" right in his face. "Edward, if your pride means anything to you, you will man-up, forgive yourself, and will actually acknowledge that you are not the only one who has made mistakes in the past week, or even in the past few years. If it wasn't for me you wouldn't have become Victoria's 'slave'." I paused and placed air quotes around the word slave with my hands, before continuing what I was saying, "You and your family wouldn't have gotten killed, and you would be talking to me right now! But if every person hated themselves for the rest of their lives, just because they had made mistakes, then the earth would be some sort of zombie land. And to be honest, I don't think anything would be worthwhile then."

When I finished my liberating and heart felt speech, Edward starred at me with his endless, onyx eyes. He then spoke as though I had not even attempted to console him, "Bella, I understand if you never want to talk to me again."

I shook my head in pure frustration and defeat, murmuring a soft, "All I know is that after I met you, the word never completely left my vocabulary."

And with that said I turned on my heels, and walked away, not even noticing Edward's longing gaze follow after me.

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Ever since I had moved the rest of my things from the Cullen's house, back to my own, and had had that enormously exasperating conversation with Edward, I had felt, well, hollow.

It was weird how even though I continued to live out my now finally normal life; school, friends, school and friends, I couldn't ignore the vague feeling of missing something.

But that feeling was as annoying as it was weird. It hadn't been long since I had practically scolded Edward for letting self pity rule his life, and here I was letting some strange, void emotion run me like water from a faucet.

Don't get me wrong, I'd fight against it and attempt to ignore it, but I would only last so long. Then all I wanted to do was watch soppy romance blockbuster movies, or read ten of William Shakespeare's most heart-wrenching tales one after the other. Pathetic? Tell me about it…

It wasn't until Alice came over one evening that I acknowledged the source of my problem and decided that enough was enough.

"Bella! Alice is here!" the sound of Charlie's voice floated up the stairs to break me from my captivation of Romeo's love filled monologue for Juliet.

"Uh…I'll be down in a sec!" I yelled down a slightly hysterical reply, as I closed and hid my book, threw my empty double, chocolate ice cream container in the trash, and hurried to pull on some suitable, un-stained sweat pants.

"Bella, don't even try." Alice's bland voice came from my doorway, and caused me to jump in surprise. Lucky for me, I also happened to me pulling up my sweat pants at the same time, and slipped as I turned to face her.

"Ouch…" I groaned, before glancing up to see an unimpressed looking Alice leaning over me with a not so friendly hand extended towards me.

With a brief, cautious pause, I placed my hand in hers and allowed her to pull me up. She then led me over to my bed, where she pulled my copy of 'the best of William Shakespeare' from its hiding spot under my pillow, and threw it on the bed between us.

"Now," she began, perching on the edge of my bed's lumpy mattress. "Are you going to talk or am I going to have to make you?"

I sighed before sitting cross legged on my bed and running a frustrated hand through my long, knotted hair.

"Talk about what?"

"About why you have seemed distant for the past few days, have come to school with chocolate ice cream stains all over your clothes, and have been drawing love hearts all over the pages of your school books."

I laughed awkwardly, before muttering a shaky, "Oh…" under my breath.

"Yes, oh. Bella does this sound familiar to you at all; 'If there is one thing you are most certainly not, Isabella Swan, it is dim-witted. Sure, you can be childish, and frustrating and sure as hell confusing, but you are not stupid.'?" Alice asked patronisingly.

Biting my lip, in part frustration, part embarrassment, I nodded my head before looking away from her.

"You've managed to remember that Edward's leaving to go back to Harvard this afternoon, haven't you?"

I glanced back at her, and shook my head back and forth frantically, "No I haven't!"

"What do you mean no you haven't? I told you the other day!"

"When?" I yelled, standing up to search through my draws for a decent pair of jeans and a clean T-shirt.

"The other day, when we were sitting in the cafeteria having lunch! Ohhhh, wait! You were too damn spaced out to hear anything I said!" Alice replied, anger evident in her voice.

I sighed and turned to face her. "Alright, I've messed up. I'm a masochist and a hypocrite and I get it. Bur now I have to make things right again!"

Alice's overly serious faces changed before me to reveal a sweet smile and glistening eyes, "And there is the Bella I know!" she said.

"Alice!" I threw a pillow at her head, which she laughed at and dodged with ease, "Your such a traitor!"

She rolled her eyes, stood up and pushed me toward the bathroom in the hall way. "Traitor or no traitor, you're my best friend. All I want is the best for you. And now that my plan worked, maybe you can finally get that. Now wash up, get changed and let's go!"

I turned and saluting her mockingly, said a very convincing, "Yes, sir!"

However, all that got me was a slammed door to the face and a slightly bruised ego. Though I couldn't let that stop me, because like a clichéd Hollywood movie, or a sappy Shakespeare tale, I the possible love of my life to chase after.

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"Run, Bella! Run!" Alice's encouraging voice followed me out of her Porsche and along the path that led to her house.

I paused for a moment to think and saw Edward walk out of his home's front door, bags in hand, and toward his car. As he opened the trunk and began to load his suit cases into it, I started to run once more.

As I neared him, I gasped his name, and when he turned around, threw my arms around him and kissed him strait on the mouth.

For a moment or two he was still, but I soon felt him begin to relax, and when his arms went around my waist and pulled me closer, I was sure I would never forget this moment.

As Edward's lips parted from mine and he turned to kiss a trail along my jaw, I ran my hands down his chest affectionately, before raising them to twine in his hair.

Then, tugging to bring his attention back to me once more, I covered his face and mouth with butterfly kisses, before leaning back and whispering a breathless, "Did you honestly think I wouldn't care if you left without saying goodbye?"

He smiled softly, momentarily, before releasing me from his embrace. He then moved to kiss my cheek, said a curt, "Goodbye, Bella." And then turned his back on me.

"Don't. You. Dare." My voice was rock hard and ice cold, and caused him to look at me with surprise, which was the first glance of pure emotion I had seen on his face in quite a while.

"Do not, pretend like you didn't feel anything just then. Or like you don't feel anything for me in general!"

It was then that his body clearly sagged with defeat and his eyes filled with long suppressed emotion. He moved forward slowly and grasped my hand in his, saying, "Isabella, it's not that I don't feel anything for you. It's that I could never be with someone who hates me."

I furrowed my brows in confusion, shaking my head whilst saying, "I don't remember ever saying I hated you."

"You didn't have to- it's just common sense. I mean, what person could feel anything but hate for someone who ruined their life?"

"A bitter person, but not me. I could never hate you. Not when you didn't ruin my life, and not when my other emotions- not when love overpowers all." I replied, simply and genuinely. "Honestly Edward, if there's anything you should allow to run your life it should be love, not self pity. It won't get you anywhere, not with others, not yourself and sure as hell not with me. And if it helps for you to actually hear it, I forgive you. I honestly don't think there was much to forgive, but- "

Edward interrupted me by enfolding me in his embrace and spinning me around blissfully. I threw my head back and laughed joyously, and when Edward finally stopped I kissed him on the cheek before shouting a happy, "Finally, you're back!"

He laughed enthusiastically before kissing me passionately and whispering, "I love you, Bella", against my lips.

I pulled away and hugged him tightly, replying with my own, "I love you too."

Our intimate moment was interrupted by Alice's arrogant voice, "I told you, you two were perfect for each other! You balance each other out completely. Sure, you might yell down the house and nearly get everybody killed in the process, but you are a perfect match!" Edward and I both turned to her, rolling our eyes.

Alice was standing in the warm shelter of Jasper's arms on the house's front veranda. Emmett and Rosalie and Carlisle and Esme were beside them, and it was evident they had all been standing there and watching us for some time.

They laughed lightly at Alice's comment and Emmet, giving us a wink, replied saying "At least you're not as bad as Rose and I. You know one time we knocked down a whole house, just by-" A hard flick on the ear by Rosalie stopped him before he could finish what he was about to say. I blushed furiously at his implication and Edward squeezed my hand affectionately.

I turned to him then, and attempting to ignore all the eyes I could feel boring into the back of my head, asked him a question that I had been wondering about since he had recovered his old self, "Do you really have to go?"

His smile faded slightly, and he tucked a strand of hair behind my ear before saying a soft, "Yes, I do. Though I promise I will be back to visit as often as I can, and that I will speak to you every night if it's what it takes to keep you happy."

"And that you will not lose yourself in self pity?"

He laughed and caressed my cheek, "And that I will not lose myself in self pity. At least as long as you promise to love me, and not hate me."

I bit my lip, pretending to consider his offer, but then laughed at the distinct sadness and panic on his face. I then chose to put him out of his misery with one word, "Always."

And I meant it.

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That's a wrap!

It took me just over 3 years, but I've finally finished! One things for sure- its SO. WEIRD. :P

Thanks so much to everyone who has stuck by me and this story- I really do appreciate it!

I'm hoping to get my next fic up soon, but considering I lost all the notes I had on it (ridiculous, right?) and I'm going back to school shortly, that 'soon' might be a while. All the same I'm so excited to show it to you all and I hope you like it as much as you liked Love me, Don't Hate me.

Please, please, please, please REVIEW…

And thanks again,

Krissy

Heart of Diamonds