A/N: Post Eclipse. From both Edward's and Bella's POV and then from the POV of a third party. This is my first attempt at Twilight fanfiction, so please, please review if you read this. I am desperate to know how I did. It is quite intense at times, but the situation sort of called for it. Please enjoy and if you don't, then feel free to throw tomatoes at me. Hehe.
Edward Anthony Masen Cullen
: : :
I smiled down at my blushing bride just before twilight on that warm Tuesday evening, searing the current color of her cheeks to my eternal memory. A smile, cheerless and frail, spread across her dry lips, stopping my breath. Messy, brunette tendrils fanned around her head, which lay limp in the rocky dirt at the edge of our meadow. I was beyond thought, until a tepid breeze arrived and I closed my eyes.
The thumping of her heart penetrated my hard flesh and sustained my next thought, giving the music rhythm…
"…Something in the way she moves…attracts me like no other lover… Something in the way she woos me…
Vividly, I recalled a Beatles song that she and I heard three days before as we returned home from our brief honeymoon. I liked the song, I suppose, but more importantly, I remembered the day those words were first introduced to my cold, companionless ears. Ears that no sweet, succulent little pair of lips sighed into; that no whispered murmurs tickled and lulled with sleepy proclamations of love. Back then, I knew everything, or so I believed. Those vacant words sung by practiced men, they meant nothing to me. All that my literary aptitude had taught me up until that wintry night, so many decades before, was that those words, that that 'she', meant something wonderful, something warm to be cherished, something not intended for me.
I opened my eyes.
"Edward," my wonderful 'she' whispered again faintly, drawing me from my reverie. Her lethargic brown eyes implored me. Her fragile little arms reached up.
I leaned down to meet her. "Yes, my love?"
"Please." It came out as a long, exhausted hiss of breath, and I frowned, my heart broken as she touched my face with eight gentle fingertips and kissed me. I was wasting time.
"Move it, Leech! What are you waiting for? Do whatever it is you do already!"
Anger rocketed to my throat, choking me. I'd be damned if she was going to witness his insolence at such a time. One blow from my fist, a mild one at that, and that dog would shut up, once and for all.
I kissed Bella's still-warm cheek. "Be so still, my Bella," I whispered into her ear in my smoothest voice, hoping to keep her calm, to momentarily "dazzle" her, as she called it, and then jumped to my feet, flying towards Jacob Black, shoving him backwards. "You will mind yourself!"
He sneered and tensed, preparing to fight. "I'll do what I want!" But then his eyes, after glancing around me to her fading body, softened. It didn't surprise me. "Just hurry this up, alright? I'll be quiet."
I exhaled my needless breath. "Then keep everyone away," I said.
"Where are you taking her after?"
I shook my head as I left him; I wished I knew the answer to that. "I'll think of something."
Jacob's impudent tone returned. "Well you better figure it…"
I spun back around. "Enough!" I thundered, and he ground his teeth, his fists clenching as he turned away. I looked at my sister, Alice, then. "Anything?"
She shook her head. "No. You see what I see. But you better hurry still."
My gut turned at the thought of hastening Bella's torment, and my own personal Hell. I glanced around at the rest of my family then, my eyes pained with concern and sudden vacillation, but I didn't have the will to help that now. They all held the very same look, suggesting my same indecision, but their thoughts denoted something else.
"Edward," I heard Bella call again. My phantom heart battered against my chest at the gentle sound of her. Damn it. These minutes were pressing.
"Edward, she's going to die if you don't… She wanted this," Esme reminded to me sweetly, her tone near pleading. Please, I heard her supplicate wordlessly.
Emmett raised his head. "She said it a million times, bro. To me, to all of us. It's what she wants."
"I know," I murmured, and I felt Jasper's restful countenance flow through me.
"Then it's time," Carlisle announced quietly, earning a solemn nod from Jacob and the rest of the pack. The trees around us swayed and bent with the gentle wind, seeming, too, to know Bella's wishes.
I stared at the thick, mossy tree trunk at the root of the tallest Evergreen for a mile, but saw nothing. I closed my eyes. The people around me, they were right. It was time.
"I'm here," I answered Bella and kneeled back down at her side. "I'm here."
To my dismay, Bella began to weep and reached for me. The fear in her eyes disabled my resolve and all my so-called strength. I was putty in her presence, and part of me wished for her comfort, though it was she who needed it now. I had promised she would never be afraid again.
"I don't want to leave you. I don't want to die. Please…"
"I won't let you."
I leaned down closer to her, my face nearing her shoulder, and she froze, pushing me back with frail hands. "Not here," she insisted, shifting her eyes to the crowd behind me. "Just us… Please."
"Of course," I whispered. "Whatever you want, my love." Carefully, I picked her up, cringing when she wailed out in pain. The quarter-sized wound in her stomach began to bleed again, failing to trigger my thirst, to my surprise. A slew of vampires after her, and all this time between us, snake and songstress, and it was her clumsiness that almost took her away from me. I would scold her later, when she could properly pummel me in response if she so chose.
"The morphine will take effect in soon," I swore to her, raising her closer to me and nuzzling her temple with my cheek. She was still warm, and I found myself prematurely mourning her heat as I carried her body into our meadow. Behind me, the tangible voices remained quiet but the ones that only found resonance in my busy head murmured and screamed, all unconsciously doubting, wondering if I would bring her back alive and screaming, burning in agonizing pain, or iced over and pallid with the irrevocability of mortal death, emptied of blood.
"Leave us," I shouted, and they all shot off in different directions, creating a protective perimeter around us, running fast and never stopping until I heard little but the chirping of birds and the shallow breath of my new, dying wife. When I reached the center, the world began to spin around me, sending my equilibrium into an oblivion of color and chaos; trees blurred into stretched lines of jade and the sky whirlpooled above us. In the middle of it all, her form wilted in my arms; her limbs, turning lithe, sunk with gravity.
"Bella," I exhaled. There was no harried rush with which I spoke. I simply set her down onto the dewy grass, admiring the way her angel face illuminated faintly with the yellow and white of the flowers that surrounded her. "Bella… I'm going to bite you now." It sounded so formal. Ridiculous. I smiled, remembering every conversation we'd had on the matter, recalling every one of her pleas that I had denied. And Bella smiled, as well, her eyes still shut. Maybe she was remembering, too, but I couldn't be sure, and that frustrated me.
She exhaled as I knelt over her. "Bite me, Edward."
A laugh escaped me, but it was feeble and as unperceptive as she was at times, she could see the hesitation in my eyes. I could see that fact in hers as they opened. Her brow furrowed and she touched my face, stirring every sentiment I felt for her, every one that she had awoken from my very dead soul. "What's wrong?"
"I'll make it as pleasant as I can," I vowed, worried.
"I know you will," Bella smiled gently. "But I can take the pain. To me, you're worth it." She had no idea what she was asking for. Her fingers rose and began to comb through my hair, making gentle fists around my locks, massaging my scalp. She pulled my head down toward her and began placing warm, tender kisses on my cheeks, my forehead, my eyelids. She was about to experience slow death, agonizing and merciless, and she was comforting me. I was bowled over. My love for her swelled then, brimming over, until I very nearly cried, though I could not. Instead, I buried my face in her hair and slipped my hands beneath her, embracing her as tightly as I knew her delicate human body could stand. Still, even now, I didn't want her to meet this end. I didn't want to take her exquisite life, her unique soul. I couldn't bear to be responsible for the annihilation of this beautiful creature, but she chose this, chose me, and then, without even a morsel of doubt, chose the manner with which to have me, the method of her own destruction.
I was a devil on my knees, humbled in worship. And who was I to deny this falling angel her last mortal wish? I would give her anything.
Consciously, I gave Bella's dying body a squeeze, tightening my grip around her and pressing her to me. Her hair hung like silk to the green earth. She was patient as I exhaled the cold air from my lungs and then drew in a measured, very deliberate, sniff of her hair. The scent, as it never failed to be, was extraordinary. Her soft locks tickled my nose, my cheeks, my lips. I would have stayed there, lingering in the warm ambiance of her, for eternity if fate had allowed. I would have died for this one sin.
Lost in rapture, I rose slightly to skim my nose across the smooth skin below her tiny, pink earlobe and down the long, lean muscle of her neck, passing her jaw, so sensual to me as she spoke.
"I wish we could have been with each other once more like this," she said peacefully. Her hands still combed my hair, assisting the summer breeze around us in tousling it.
"I'm so sorry, Bella," I whispered, truly meaning it. Being with her, making love to her, as much control and effort as it took on my part, was the single greatest phenomenon my body and mind had ever experienced; though it was too severe, my ecstasy, to be tried again with her delicate human form. Her warmth became my own. Every part of her engulfed me like a steaming bath, nearly bringing the crystallized molecules that shaped me to a boil. Obliging my promise, I had soaked myself within her, became her, and, likewise, felt her become me; it was unbearable. The closeness, and the intensity of all its sensations, was nearly intolerable to the point of being excruciating, largely due to my heightened senses, once prized that I now cursed. I had to contain myself so that my desire for her, in all manners, did not spill perilously over. But her pleasure, and her fervent whispers, kept me grounded, and I languished quietly.
"I'm ready, Edward."
"I'm not." I returned my lips to her tender human throat, where the strong, thudding pulse of her jugular vain raised her skin repeatedly to meet mine. I pressed my lips there, so warm, to taste her, sure to take in, as I did, the fragrance of the siren blood that coursed beneath, for it would never sing for me again. No more would she possess it to this degree, rich and flowing, pumping with life, coloring her cheeks and keeping her warm, calling me home.
"Bella," I breathed into the young, perfumed flesh at the base of her throat.
"It's going to be all right," she assured me quietly. She was so brave, and I nearly dissolved, so beautifully fearless, even now, dying in our meadow.
My face crumpled. "What if it's not?" All of my most potent fears returned. What if I couldn't stop drinking from her? What if the swoon was too great or as orgasmic as it had been during my first brief taste? I had never taken as much blood as I would need to take from her today and then discarded a live body. They had all died. There was a line, a point of no return, where the frenzy began, when the rapture started, all reason rendered meaningless once that delicious saccharine tang was on my tongue. Once her hot blood, so full of life and nutrient, touched my lips, once I felt it pumping through my veins, ready to marinate my arid flesh with the very nectar that my body craved and thirsted for so much, could I quit? Already my mouth watered. My eyes glazed over in anticipation. There was no other voice of reason here to keep the vampire at bay. That monster I despised was here, and he was ready, wanting her, thirsting for her. Was I strong enough to keep him civil once the line was crossed?
"I trust you, Edward. I love you. I want to join you. It's all I want," the sweetest voice in existence murmured to me, pleading. She was kissing my cheek with her supple, warm lips. "Edward…Love of my existence…if you were an abominable snowman, I would want to be that, too." I laughed quietly into her ear, taking notice of the fact that both her heart rate and blood pressure were falling, her voice quieting. "I just want you, wherever you go, whatever you do, forever." She dug her fingers deeper into my hair, giving my head a sensual squeeze as she whispered so softly to me, "Take me with you." I closed my eyes, wanting to die with her, all over again.
"Anything you want." I hugged her once more and then kissed her warm lips. I wanted to thwart the pain that was coming for her, or, rather, no. I wanted to betray her and send her home to Heaven, but I was too selfish for that. I needed her too much.
The breeze picked up, raining down on us a symphony of whistles and harmonious swooshes. No cold could she feel, for I protected her, as I would for the rest of my life, from the cold and terrifying. I swore this. And I would guarantee this promise kept with this next toxic kiss, our final one as young children in love. The next step was a blood oath. It was mine and hers forever; and Heaven and Hell could not destroy it, or us.
"Bella," I whispered, returning to her ear. "Open your eyes." I wanted her to see the ivory thistles fly and watch them dance with the wind as I tore her blood's lullaby away, away and into myself to perish. She would see the fading blue sky and the way the sun painted a mural of pinks and oranges for her. She would see the wings of the birds as they fluttered and played, and the way the clouds fashioned themselves into her favorite things. It was all for her, this last twilight, these final breaths of her life. She was too young to go, like so many before her. For this, I would mourn her every day and take comfort in the fact that I was more providential than any man who ever lived or died. I had wandered this earth, unpracticed and unloved, for nearly a hundred years before her. It was my price to pay for an eternity with my she. "Are your eyes open?"
"Yes," Bella exhaled, her voice breaking into tear. "It's so beautiful here, Edward."
"Keep watching, Bella. Don't take your eyes off the horizon. Watch the sun dip below the trees until tomorrow."
"Do you see the thistles?"
"Are they flying?"
"Do you see the birds?"
"Yes." Her voice trembled. Her body began to shake.
"What are they doing?"
"Two of them are dancing, spinning around each other."
"I love you," I whispered.
"I love you, too," she cried.
I felt one of her warm tears fall onto my own cheek but, when I glanced to her, she was smiling up at the sherbet sky, as I'd hoped. I thanked the God, who I was sure had forsaken me, for my window. Keep her peaceful, I implored. Make it beautiful, please. And please, please forgive me.
I closed my eyes and opened my mouth, pressing my teeth to her willing throat.
Bella Marie Swan-Cullen
: : :
…I gasped loudly and squeezed my eyes shut, forgetting my promise to keep them open. The last good thing I had experienced was his perfect lips on my skin, his body molded to mine, and his cool, sweet breath; it was everywhere. But now a thousand tiny knives skewered my flesh. My neck stung and throbbed, his luscious mouth forming a seal over the pain. I could literally feel the blood being roughly sucked from my artery. It hurt sorely and I could hear it happening, him gulping with patient enthusiasm.
"Edward," I tried to let out, but that splendid word never left my lips. I wanted to tell him once more that I loved him, to not worry about me, to keep going, but my mouth hung open in shock.
I opened my eyes again to see the colorful twilight sky that lay far beyond his right shoulder, the very one that I clung to with childlike faith. My bluebirds were there, still happily playing and spinning through the air. Watching them roll and twist and chirp to each other, I was at peace, and I realized that I had never felt so secure in all my life, so loved and protected, even as Edward drained me of my blood with a passion so fervent that I was reminded of our lovemaking. The way his hard body gently rocked and bucked against mine oddly excited me, and the conscious pain in my neck and stomach subsided. I hugged his head and forced his sucking mouth harder against me, intensifying his writhe. He began to moan deeply, grunting his ecstasy. He would stop when he needed to. I had no doubt. But I would give him his pleasure in the meantime; he had given me mine.
He stopped suddenly after another minute, and I felt a gentle kiss land beneath my jaw. His lips were wet, his breath ragged, and his voice guttural and strained when he murmured something that I didn't understand.
"Just finish it, Edward," I told him and for the first time began to truly feel tired. My eyelids fell wearily and rose again. He raised his head and I saw his eyes, deep red and vacant. "Oh, Edward." I touched his cheek. "I know this is hard for you." He looked withered, drunk, barely himself, but, still, I felt no fear. To me, he simply looked sleepy, demonic, as well, but I loved him enough to not care. I had faith in him, in our destiny, and in Alice.
My handsome marauder took my hand then, twining our fingers, and laid his head on my shoulder.
"I love you," he said in a rough, beaten voice that was not his own but was still, somehow, smoother than silk to my ears.
I closed my eyes. Tears gushed from my eyes. "I know."
He laughed darkly, and I heard him, still there, deep within the purported monster: my Edward. "Just give me a moment," he said hoarsely.
I nodded, growing nervous as I waited for the pain I knew was coming. Suddenly, I felt extremely tired and… intoxicated, I realized. I was numb. The pain was gone from my throat, from everywhere, in fact, and it worried me abruptly. I tried to move my fingers against his, I tried to speak, and found that I could do neither. Panic spread through me, along with his venom and a strange, anesthetizing pleasure. I was paralyzed, and at his mercy, and all I could do was wait.
Tears continued to drip from the corners of my eyes as he lifted my hand without a word and sunk his teeth so sensually into my wrist. I watched him do it, feeling nothing, my faith waning, to my horror. No! I had faith! I screamed inside. I believed in him! I watched him suck and swallow, his eyes closed and swooning. They were quiet this time, though: his ministrations. Only the breeze touched my eardrums, my bluebirds silent, and then, the pain arrived.
A sharp stab pierced my heart and I screamed out with the full force of my lungs. The sound was glorious, echoing strongly through the forest that surrounded us, though there was nothing at all glorious about the cause for my anguish. The burning began as discomfort and then an intense itch that grew heated, like a raw, violent rash that was spreading through every inch of my flesh. His venom spread quickly like a forest fire through dry brush, burning from the tips of my toes up to the crown of my head. I bucked Edward away as I screamed in horror from it. It was excruciating and it would not relent.
He sat back at once, his blood-stained eyes wide and horrified.
"Did I do too much?"
I screamed out my torment in response, my eyes shut tight as if my eyelids would protect me from the pain. It was a futile effort. I heard nothing else from him after, though I could recognize that he spoke. I didn't care. I couldn't stand it! The fire! My skin! My insides! My flesh! It must have been melting off my bones! I must have looked hideous! "No!" I screamed, my body flipping like a fish out of water. I wanted to shout at him, to demand he kill me and make it end, but I feared he might do exactly as I asked and draw the venom back out as he'd done before. So I let out more simple, one-syllable words. I had enough sense to do that, at least, but it was all I had the will to control.
I felt him lift me and, for a short moment, there was reprieve from the pain. "Edward," I gasped, grabbing his shirt. "I'm going to die!"
"Yes, Bella," he answered me sorrowfully. His eyes were so unbelievably sad and free from physical pain; I hated him for a moment. "It's what you wanted."
My heart sank, and I nodded. He was right. What was I thinking? "Take me home," I told him. "I want our bed. I want to die there." I tried to plead with my soggy eyes, but I was sure that they looked so pitiful already that my endeavor escaped him.
I don't know how long it took us to get there, a week, an hour…a minute; I was measuring time as intervals between the greatest peaks of my torture by the time Edward laid me on our bed. I heard him yell something to Alice about watching for them, the remaining five of the Volturi guard, Jane, and Alec, I guessed. I heard Rosalie ask about me with a gentle tone, which sounded sisterly to me, and then I heard Jacob's voice, very serious, something about a perimeter. Edward responded as he would to one of his brothers, and I was glad to hear them getting along. It was the least they could do while I burned alive on the giant gold bed.
Something stabbed my arm and I flailed at my attacker.
"Bella," I heard near my ear. Desperately, my hands searched for the source of that beautiful voice, finding Edward's face quickly. But my eyes would not open. "Carlisle's giving you more morphine," Edward whispered to me.
"It's only going to work as strong as your heart is beating, though, Bella," I heard my father in law explain. "I'm sorry. But this pain won't last forever," he assured me, sweeping his cold palm over my scalding forehead. It didn't help.
"Okay," was all I could manage. The room turned as silent as the meadow then, only Edward's voice was in my ear. And I realized, as my pain temporarily began to ease that he was humming my lullaby. I let out a sob. "Edward."
He hugged me, burying me in his chest, and I paused. He felt lukewarm. I tucked my arms between us and let him rock me gently. The morphine was helping a little. The burn wasn't as sharp, but more of a slow smolder below the surface of my consciousness.
"Some moments are better than others," he murmured. "Did I ever tell you about Emmett's first day as a vampire?" He was trying to distract me.
"No," I answered, wincing at the discomfort, the inferno that boiled beneath the surface; it fought, tried so hard, to break through the morphine. I wanted to whimper at Edward to gain sympathy, but that would only make it harder on him. There was no point in dragging us both down. After all, he was my buoy, keeping me afloat when all I really wanted was to let go and drown, and then drag him down into the darkness with me, where there would be no more pain, only us.
"I had to sit on him," Edward continued, rocking me and rubbing my hair, "but he tricked me several times, and poked me in my eye."
"He poked you in your eye?" Boy, Edward was good at distractions. "How come?"
"He was thirsty… and angry. Only Rosalie could calm him down; he kept calling her his angel. Can you imagine that? Rosalie: an angel." Edward scoffed and I nearly smiled. "Anyway, she left to go to the store to buy him the things he needed—clothes and such—thinking I could handle him. He kept asking for her, and I when I couldn't produce her, he jabbed me in my eye with his big lumberjack finger, which startled me more than anything, and then took off looking for her. I had to chase him down and wrestle him back into the house several times. It was a nightmare. We were living in Cheyenne at the time, but the worst part was…"
His voice began to fade, but I could still feel his arms around me, cocooning me as I began to dream strange things. Bluish-black waves of what looked like long sheets of silk crashed over my eyes. I heard no sound, only breath, which I presumed to be my own. The darkness, though it should have, didn't scare me. I could sense Edward's presence and so I let it come. I let the dream wash through me. At first the dream was smooth, flowing like a sleek river of ink, but soft, sensual lines soon became very animated, jagged peaks. Faces screamed and folded over one another, disappearing into the fray. A faint thumping began to build from somewhere outside the mist that was me, for I held no form.
And then a flicker of white, and then another, startled me. A resonating image photographed itself into my mind. My mother's young face laughing.
"Mom?" My voice echoed.
Her features becoming hazy, my mother laughed again. "Oh, Bella. You need to stop worrying so much about me." Her voice played back very clearly; it was something she'd said a hundred times over my life. "…I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. Go have fun…
Another flash blinded me, and then, on cue, my father arrived. His flushed cheeks were soiled with dirt and his skin was damp with sweat as he drank down a moisture-beaded glass of what I guessed was lemonade. He sighed, wiping his mouth with his arm. "You fuss too much over me, Bella. I wish you would stop worrying so much…"
"But Dad, are you going to be…"
Charlie laughed at me and shook his head. "I'll be fine, Bella."
I opened my eyes. Tears tickled the sides of my eyes and, eventually, fell to my pillow. The ceiling I stared at seemed to be closing down on me. I was dying, and this was my short life, flashing before my eyes like some pathetic Christmas classic. How dreary it all seemed, how lonely, until…
Not aware at all that they were tense, I frowned as my neck muscles relaxed, my shoulders, too, the ease spreading down my spine and through my hips, warming my legs from my thighs to my toes. But my eyes remained closed. That sound was like home, the way my mothers sounded when I was a child, a sound that meant comfort and warmth and unconditional acceptance.
"Edward?" I replied back.
His voice was so much more magnificent and soothing than my mother's, though. "I think my parents are going to be okay," I told him, opening and shifting my eyes. His perfect face, worried and more glorious than ever, watched me. My hands reached up on their own volition to touch the brilliance of each of his godlike features.
"Don't worry about that now," he smiled as my fingertips reached his lips. I got the chills. His beauty made me want to weep like a sinner witnessing the merciful grandeur of an angel. He was a thousand times more precious than death.
"Oh, Edward," I cried to him as I stared at his flawless features with complete adoration. They meant more to me than just beauty. They meant love in all its forms, good and evil, and I wondered when his features would seem average to me, when I would see the true Edward, as he was meant to be seen, pre-dazzle.
Edward shook his head, laughing silently. "You're still my absurd Bella," he whispered, touching my cheek, same as I touched his, and then he pressed the firm cushion of his lips to mine. True to my human form, I swooned at the way he tasted, turning drunk by his aroma. His mouth no longer cooled me like ice, though. Something bizarre was happening.
I pulled away from Edward, my eyes open wide, and then a sharp pain ripped across my back. I lurched upright, screaming into Edward's bedroom. "My God!" Someone was attacking me! Fraught with panic, I reach around my body to investigate my wounds. "Edward!"
"No, Bella. Look at me." Edward grabbed my face. The pain was excruciating and I couldn't focus on much more than screaming bloody murder into the void between us. My fingers clawed at my back. "No one is hurting you!" I thought I heard him yell into my face. "Bella!"
"What's happening to me?!" I screeched. I felt my spine being torn to shreds and turned around to beat on my assailant. My jaw clenched. I wanted to kill! Destroy the source of such abominable pain! With rancorous fury, I pounded my fists on the black shadows that stirred behind me and behind Edward. I would kill them before they could hurt me anymore, or worse: hurt him!
Horrid, deep, gut-wrenching growls surged from my throat and out of my mouth in the form of vile words that I had never uttered in my life, and I continued to beat my hands into my enemy, my teeth gnashing my gums bloody, my body thrashing violently, not feeling the pain of any of it. In fact, it was exhilarating: the absolute thrill of revenge! I felt Edward at my back, his arms trying to lasso mine, but, for the first time in all of our history, we were evenly matched.
"Damn it, Bella! Stop!" His full, perfect lips were at my ear, his velvet voice more enthralling than I ever thought possible. "Look what you're doing? Look."
I paused. My heart was still in a frenzied fit, but my fists were still, shakily clinging to the air. My eyes widened. I had destroyed the rod iron headboard, my quiet, dark assailant.
"Oh my God." The pain was gone. Again, my shoulders drooped and I broke out into sobs. It would be back, though, to taunt me. That or I was going crazy. "What's happening to me?!" I cried out as Edward spun me back around to face him. I threw my face into his chest. "I can't do this! I can't do this!"
He lowered his mouth to the top of my head, silent for a minute, but then his lips found my ear. "Your organs are failing, Bella," he said, his smooth voice breaking. "Your body is dying. It's going to hurt, and your venom-soaked mind is going to fool you, but I promise it will be over soon."
"Wait…" I sat up, realizing something. "Don't be sad." I stared fiercely into his eyes, pleading for his strength, for his answers. I was scared now, terrified, and I was tired of trying to pretend that I wasn't. My insides suddenly felt like they were being ripped apart slowly, making it hard to speak, but I had to know, especially while I was still coherent. As it was, I had lost some time. The light coming in from the large western window was bright; it was the setting sun: late afternoon. Almost a day had passed, I assumed, or two, and I was changing. I could feel it seething inside me, the monster…my death.
"Tell me. Please, Edward. I want to know exactly what's happening to me."
His mouth was turned down, his face twisted in pain.
"Please?" I whispered more softly.
He closed his eyes and took in a slow gulp of air, exhaling it even slower, before speaking.
"My venom is attacking your body's defense system," he began explaining quietly, as if he were wholly ashamed. "…thinning your blood and altering your cells and your, we think, your DNA. Your body's trying to fight it, but it will lose. One by one, your organs will begin to fail and then shut down, faster and faster, reducing your blood flow. Your blood pressure will plummet. Your heart won't be able to take the trauma. It will begin to work harder to try and make up for the losses. It, too, will fail, though. But before that, you'll become so delirious that..."
His voice wavered and his features twisted with his sorrow.
My dying heart felt for him, my husband, my partner, my lover, my Emmett and Jasper and Carlisle, my sole companion for all eternity. As tenderly as I could manage, I brought his face to my chest and lay back onto my pillow, cradling his head.
"I'm so sorry, Bella."
I closed my eyes. My entire torso hurt now. My nose and eyes stung. Weakness like I'd never experienced saturated my consciousness. The blood loss, the pain, I felt dead already. My eyes dulled as fresh tears blurred my sight. "You'll be here the whole time?"
"Yes," he swore vehemently against my breast. "I won't move one inch from you. Never."
"You're going to have to watch me die, you know."
"Yes," he whispered and I knew that he was even braver than I. I knew that he loved me more than anyone had ever loved before, not including myself.
Time seemed to lapse in indiscernible chunks after that. A fog settled over me and I felt feverish. A bout of the chills sent my body into convulsions, but I gravitated toward the warm mass to my right as the sickness distracted me. Everything grew sharp and rigid. My tongue felt like a scythe cutting into the insides of my cheeks, the tips of my fingers like machetes; even the bed below me felt like a cold block of wood.
And then I was on an unfathomably deep-lined boulevard in the middle of a large city. The busy streets were a dulled ashen white, the sky and the buildings, too. Everything shone with this pallid hue. Cars rolled by. People passed me without a glance. And I walked among them, dressed in a deep blood red. My wide flowing gown was striking and stood out amongst the plain, but still, no one looked at me. I was invisible.
I looked ahead and within the slow-bustling crowd, Jacob, stone-faced and covered in white ash, waved me goodbye.
And then an arctic wind blew.
"Angel!" I chattered, calling over and over for the vibrant and beautiful seraph that Emmett had prophesized about, until I realized that the angel was still beside me. I blinked, and the air was suddenly dark inside my death chamber, this forest of gold and white, but a bright moon made the large casement to my right into a mural of a beautiful, dark, lush green jungle where creatures with dark eyes moved amongst the shadows. And I loved them instantly.
The angel wrapped his merciful arms around me. "I'm right here, love. Beautiful Bella. What do you need?"
"I'm…cold." I forced out the words, screaming. "I can't…stand…it…" Inching closer into him, I shivered and shook so hard that my I feared my muscles would shred apart from the effort. Already, I was beyond exhausted. How merciless death was! Yet the desire to beg for it, to plead with the angel to grant me it a thousand times, came and went again. To my surprise, inexplicable warmth swooped in to temporarily save me. "Edward," I cried into the mysterious angel's strong, heated chest in the very first moment I could breathe, pleading for my love. "I want Edward!"
"Damn it," I heard the angel roar. He was so angry. "I hate this!" And then the angel kissed me with a loving mouth, warming my aching bones. Those divine lips. That scrumptious taste. It was my Edward! He pulled away at first, and tried to drive some thick material between us, but I scrambled to retrieve him and yanked his body closer to mine, slipping my leg between his. I wrapped my arms around him, tangling us together, holding him to me as I opened my eyes, startled. I couldn't smell him.
"Edward?" I whispered fretfully. "Is that you? Oh, please say it's you!"
"It's me, Bella. I'm here. What's wrong?" He cupped my face and his hands felt like warm buns straight out of the oven, placed directly on my cheeks. The heat was delightful. I closed my eyes in unqualified bliss. "You're cold," I heard him guess with the usual frustration, and I smiled at his blunder. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Bella. Of all the…"
His hands, their warmth, they left my face and I panicked. Possessively, I wrapped my arms around him and clung to him, an insatiable greed for his heat consuming me like fire. He was so warm. Or at least, he was warmer than I was, and I realized that that was bad if that was true. Death was coming for me. As much as I'd practiced my heart for this moment, as much as I'd prepared and pled, the reality of dying, of abandoning my given form, the body that had carried me to the age of eighteen and a half, petrified me solid. My life, my body, was all I truly knew.
"I'm scared. I'm so scared, Edward," I finally admitted. "Will it be cold like this all the time?"
"No." Edward's palm cupped my chin and raised my face to his. "There will be no more discomfort or pain, ever…not physically anyway."
The addendum to his sentence, the way it broke from his sweet lips, ripped through me worse than any physical pain, and I started to sob to my own dismay, though no moisture formed over my eyes.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I've hurt you. I'm sorry I'm so selfish, Edward!"
"Bella, what are you talking about?"
"You know that I love you, right?" I grasped at him. "You know that even if I hadn't been dying, I would have died for you…right? To be with you."
He blinked, a frown and a smile confusing his face. "I know that," he whispered. "But you didn't have to die to prove that you loved me, or to be with me."
"I know." I managed a smile, too. "I just like making things more difficult than they have to be."
Edward laughed quietly then, hugging me, and I smiled through my growing delirium, feeling it steal me away from him. The gentle sounds he made rang out like heaven to my dissipating ears. He truly, like a pious siren, had called me home to my fate. From the moment I'd met him until this one, the moment I died, he was the one, my guardian angel in the departed flesh. I felt my last tear fall to the corner of my upraised lips, and then the world around me turned a radiant white. My life, and Edward, my universe, dissolved away.
And there was no pain. Only light remained and luminous warmth that engulfed me like a mother's womb. I felt a glorious presence that had never graced me so consciously before. I was unworthy of its beauty, but expected to answer for myself, for my life.
I stepped forward, and then planted my bare feet to the white earth, ready to declare my sins and accept my punishment.
"God?" I whispered, frowning into the brightness, watching as the light assumed a spherical shape and began to tunnel away from me. It didn't want me, and I understood its recoil. I had forsaken it for love and was disowned. "I'm not sorry," I told it, my voice firm and sincere. "You gave him to me. You did this, and you knew what I would choose. But I'm grateful, and I promise…I'll be good…"
The light flashed, spreading greatly, and kissed my entire face, ultimately leaving me in blackness as my consciousness vanished…
Edward Anthony Masen Cullen
: : :
There was a faint breeze. An airplane flew overhead. Several birds chirped. Men chattered. And then a woman cried.
I frowned to myself. Esme?
"Esme," I tried to vocalize, but failed. "Don't cry."
My breath hitched. I was choking. Why was I even trying to breathe?
"What?" I answered.
"She'll wake," Carlisle promised me, his thoughts concurring. His hand wrapped around my forearm and I felt his weight. They all do.
"No." I ripped my arm away, knowing his intention before even he did. "I told her I wouldn't move." All I could do was stare at her cold, dead eyelids, wondering: Was she there? Was it her: my Bella? I knew, rationally, that she existed…somewhere. But her heart was silent, her blood cold, and dread overtook me. So I just stared, waiting, wondering. Would she hate me forever, come to resent me for making her fall in love, for "dazzling" her, thereby killing her. Could I still dazzle her? No tricks or hypnotizing slips of my eyes, no sweet breath to draw her close. Would just my love be enough compensation for an eternity as a monster?
"Just give it a minute." Carlisle stepped back and so around our bed stood Bella's new family, waiting to greet her into eternity. But without her, I felt alone.
"She's so pale," Alice noted sourly, disdain rich in her voice. "I'm going to have to take her to the mall to find her a new base color. Ugh. She's going to be such a pain."
I looked up, a low growl building inside me as I glared at her tactless expression.
"Alice," Jasper whispered, nudging her and shaking his head. The visions Alice saw, they were not happening now. She always forgot that in the midst of her egotism, my insensitive sister.
"What! It's not like she's dead," Alice countered, glancing between us. "Well not really."
"Alice." Esme scolded this time and Alice threw up her arms, rolling her eyes as she sat on the couch to wait impatiently for her new vampire doll.
"Alice!" I barked as plans for the future, for my wife, flooded into her mind.
"Edward!" she barked back.
Then a new voice echoed dark and low behind Alice's. "Edward."
My neck craned around slowly, my body following, turning toward the sound, which seemed to originate from Bella's pillow. Her eyes were still closed, though. '
Was I hearing things? Was she… thinking? Perking me up, I had a thought. Could I hear her thoughts now? Could it be possible? I smiled, elated at the prospect. I had always wished for it, hoped silently that the change would open her mind up to me. But then I saw her eyelids snap open, triggering audible gasps around the room.
"She's awake," Emmett, the apparent play by play commentator of the group, noted sharply. "Her eyes are open."
"Oh, God," I heard Rosalie gasp. "She scared me."
Alice rose from the couch.
The seven original members of my family stared in amazement at our newest member, who was filled with human blood and possibly stronger than all of us combined…for the moment anyway. Together, we waited as deep crimson eyes scrutinized the ceiling. I would miss the golden brown, I suddenly realized, kicking myself for forgetting to seal the exact color to memory one final time, though I knew I would never forget or disregard any single aspect of the precious human attributes that had drawn me to her.
"Bella?" I leaned toward my bride, reaching out. "Sweetheart?"
With the disconcerting speed of ten vampires, she shot up into a sitting position, her scarlet eyes darting around the room. They landed on my face and shamed me. She was thirsty.
"Hey, Bella," Emmett sputtered out nervously. "You're all right there, kiddo?"
Then Bella's eyes flickered to my tiny sister, her sweet voice unchanging. "You're not dragging me to the stupid mall, Alice."
"Ugh!" Alice stormed out. "We will talk about this later, Bella!" she screeched, slamming the door behind her.
Bella returned her eyes to me. Her lips turned down at the corners, bringing to me the saddest expression I had ever witnessed.
"Bella." I caressed her pale cheek and no flush rose to color them. "Talk to me," I pleaded, condemning myself to her righteous blame. Behind me, my family communicated in silence, deciding collectively to leave us, and I was grateful. I didn't bother to turn around as they slipped out of the room; I kept my gaze on Bella. "Tell me you can forgive me."
Her brow furrowed and then she touched my face with tepid, affectionate fingertips. The deep heat that she usually projected from her flesh was gone, but I found that her touch still set me ablaze and sent my body into rapture. "Please, Bella."
"You're still so beautiful," she whispered, appearing confused. "You're perfect."
"Bella, please. How do you feel?"
Her eyes seemed to change then as awareness approached her. She blinked, frowning. "I feel…" She thought it over. I heard nothing, as usual, and waited to know her, to know what I had done to her. "…awake." Bella looked up, her eyes excited. "And strong." A smile, so beautiful, brightened her angelic face. Her skin was like marble. "I feel like I can do anything."
"You can't do anything, Bella."
"Oh." She tilted her head. "But there is something I want to do."
I watched with quiet fascination as my love climbed to my lap and settled before me, her hungry scarlet eyes on my mouth. "Hold me, Edward." Her gaze rose to bore into me, wooing my body to the very core of her will; it was my master and I slipped my arms gently around her.
"Anything," I whispered. Anything for her.
"No." Bella shook her head. "Hold me, Edward," she repeated sternly, her expression pained, desperate for me to understand. "Hold me like you want to. Like I need to be held by you. Don't make me wait any longer. It's been unbearable! Please!" Her body, now cooled to taut perfection, writhed against me in anticipation as she pleaded. "Please." I was utterly enthralled by her, overcome like never before.
The old fear clung to me, though, still shackled around me, and I pulled her a little closer. "Bella…"
"Hold me!" Bella demanded again, unsatisfied. "Hold me like you want to, Edward!" Her voice softened then, and she slid her wide open palms down the sides of my face. "I won't break. Hold me with everything that you are. Please, Edward," she begged, her expression full of torment. "I'm starved for you."
The evening sky, warning us of its rain, thundered deafeningly outside, making the large window tremble, and, in the midst of it all, in the silence of my hesitation, Bella thrust herself against me hard. Her arms flung around my neck in a death grip. "Hold me!" she hissed frantically into my ear. "And don't let go," she whispered more softly.
Somehow I got a chill. It was strangely exciting the way I slowly tightened my arms around her little torso, tighter and tighter, as she wrapped her entire self, arms and legs, not warm, but not cold either—around me. My shackles, they were falling away. For a moment, it felt wrong. I took a breath or two to deliberate, to remember, and then I constricted the sphere that my arms had around her again until my own hands touched my chest from the other side. I breathed her in. This was insanity! She was locked in my monstrous grip and, yet, she did not break. She only strengthened her own hold on me and moaned a pleasured, guttural cry in my ear, which felt incredible and loving and raw, like we were truly connected. I loved her so much, and I felt freedom wash over me.
"God, Bella," I gasped, and, with all abandon, I crushed her harder to me with as much power as my dark gift offered. We tumbled down to the bed and I rolled until the bulk of my weight sunk over her body, melding us together. I squeezed and fondled her and kissed cool, bare flesh as I let my reservations go; I let myself recklessly love my mate with all the strength once used to deny her. It was tenfold now, my strength! I was truly a god, and she was my immortal goddess!
Bella laughed and then sighed and the sound was booming Heaven in my ears. "Oh, why did you make us wait for this?"
"I don't know," I admitted breathlessly. I knew why, but at the moment, all that was washed away and seemed pointless. It didn't matter. And it didn't matter that everything human that I had loved about her was dead. Quite the opposite, I cherished her death and did not mourn her. The way she smiled now filled me with happiness. Her scent was intoxicating. Her body my temple. Those things that I had coveted in her, they were irrelevant and meaningless now. This trumped it all.
And then she gasped. Her hands found my face and pulled my gaze her. Her eyes were excited. "Kiss me," she requested with glee. "Kiss me deep and hard, Edward… Like you want to." Desire filled her suddenly sleepy gaze, and I knew it wasn't sleep that lulled her.
I froze again. The phantom ghost of my shackles rattled. But she smiled again. "You can't hurt me, Edward. Kiss me." Her eyes were so very alive.
Resting on one elbow, I touched my thumb to her cheek, caressing it gently, but I had a thought then and pressed harder until I was grasping her jaw authoritatively with my entire grip. My teeth clenched. Her succulent lips parted. She was pleased. And I liked it. I wanted to kiss her mouth and take her plump bottom lip between my teeth. I wanted to make her gasp and not have to pull away in response, disappointing her.
And I then I kissed her open mouth, my tongue penetrating past her lips, and I felt my body lift. I was deep inside her eager mouth and she in mine. A kiss to end all other kisses, she gave me. Carpe diem! Seize the day! I kissed her harder and deeper until heat and blood and venom flowed between us, until the sun finally fell away and rose again.
And I realized that I had been wrong; this was our twilight, not difficult or cold, but new and beautiful and invited at the end of a long, complicated day. We were children in love. It was the old ways that had aged us, and now with thoughtless abandon we rolled and played with one another and discovered the passionate ways of devastated lovers, whose bodies have finally been reunited after a millennia of cruel restraint, all thunderous sound and luminous glory pulsing through them, shattering the world apart. On the contrary to previous notion, as vampires, together, Bella and I were alive, souls brimming over with the love and contentment that mortal men can only sing about! The majesty sustained us for a thousand years and now, I tell you, poet, my queen, my Bella, she is the most glorious vampire to ever exist, and I her king! Humanity flows through us in the truest form. Unlike those monsters before, time and virtue purified us. The light absolved us and warmed our bodies and the ones of our family. Our hearts beat. Wombs surge with life, and I tell you now, my greatest day, not the day I met my love and her siren blood or the day I first kissed her sweet, succulent lips, or any other trite moment, but it was, in truth, the day I finally freed us and invited her into myself. There is a liberty in death, and she, my she, is a thousand times more precious than it, even in all its mysterious darkness and tunneled light. To the table of life and of death, she is invited, and I simply, and with all my strength and power, love her…
Stunned, I removed the recorder from the table. "Thank you both for that."
Edward sat back in his chair.
"Edward," Bella cooed, turning from me, their humble interviewer and subject, to face her exquisite husband. She caressed his magnificent face, causing a strange and inexplicable but pleasurable high to come over me as I watched them, still preserved with the corporal ages of seventeen and eighteen and insufferably beautiful. Yet they ruled the world with mercy and love. They were worshiped by great right, and I was in awe of them as she kissed him deeply and then said to him in the most tranquil, stimulating voice to ever grace these ears, "Stop being so dramatic."
AN2 – Thanks for reading.