I wondered briefly how much time had passed. Seconds, minutes, hours, days… did it matter? It was quiet in the room now, but I could still hear her screams. They echoed through my head, through my body, through my heart, through my soul. They would never stop – this was my punishment for daring to love an angel, this was my hell.

"It won't be long now," Carlisle remarked from the doorway. I nodded but said nothing. I knew it was getting closer. Her heartbeat which only moments ago beat frantically as it struggled against the poison was now slow and erratic, and I could no longer feel the warmth radiate from her body.

I closed my eyes and wished – without hope – that she would one day forgive me for damning her this way, that she would still love me, still want me. I'd hurt her before – time and time again – but this was different. There was no going back, no apology that could fix this. It was forever.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," I muttered to myself.

I laid my head on her chest and listened to her heart for the last time. When it stopped, I expected to feel hollow and empty. Instead, I felt complete in a way that I had never felt before. It was as if there had been a piece missing from me all along, and I had found it.

"I love you," she said softly.

I hesitated before touching her face. "Do you? Even after…?" I tried to ask, but the words would not come.

"Of course," she laughed.

"Forever?"

"Forever," she breathed.

My long-still heart skipped a beat at that one word. Perhaps there was a chance for me. Besides who needed heaven when you had an angel with you?

It was forever, after all.