(Just an idea I've been chewing on for a few days- related to nothing in particular, just a little bit of Edward angst, and who doesn't love that?)

Carlisle sees us as elevated, gifted, blessed, even. He looked at us- his children in every real way- and sees hope and the tenuous chance of a future. Much like a human parent, he sees us as the continuation of his legacy of healing, and himself as a prophet of choice to the weak. I know better. My father is a wise and caring man, but he has always been far too hopeful, too much of a dreamer. I know better than to assume vampirism is ascension into any higher level of being, as he believes it to be.

Vampirism is a fall from grace. Lucifer was- through fire- cast into Hell for aspiring to best the unbeatable, as we have been for daring to try and cheat humanity. Maybe we have souls, maybe it doesn't matter.

And on, how I have plummeted.

I remember very few things of my short affair with mortality. Being in Bella's house helps the dusty tomes of my mind crack open and spill what I alone cannot access. It is fitting to me that I cannot remember my own life without being a part of hers- what could a monster ever possibly do without his angle? His saving grace? She brings the human out of me tenfold compared to what I could do alone.

I let my feet move without my mind, automatically following the scent trail she left the last time she was in this part of her home. I retrace her steps without reason, my mind chaotic. She sleeps upstairs, but I do not trust myself with her life right now- I am too volatile, too dangerous to be close to her.

It is madness to think that staying a prudent distance from her now will make it less blasphemous to take her on our wedding night.

I let my unworthy hands trail across the mantel. It seems her father has kept every picture of her he was ever given. Bella grows with each step I take, first a sweet baby girl, then an adorable child, then the ambivalent teenager, and now—now a lovely young woman.

My hand draws a slow line in this week's light dust, brushing against each frame as I pass it. She is so lovely; I know Charlie lined these pictures here with pride. Charlie and I share something in Bella- we both believe she is the best thing that's ever happened to us. Charles Swan loves his distant child very much, despite his limited role in her life.

I can't help but wonder, looking at these tokens of a father's love, if my own father ever felt this way about me.

I remember less of him than I do of Elizabeth. Carlisle has told me I possess some of him in me- my face reflects his strong jaw, my shoulders follow the line his carried. As a human, I had much more of my mother- her coloring, her fair skin, her soft face; the venom seemed to have melted Elizabeth away.

But I have his name. Edward Masen Sr. had given me the only lasting thing I had of my human parents. I will forever carry my human father with me in that regard. When I succeed, I wonder if he would be proud of what I have done with his name, when I fail, I wonder if he would be ashamed to have given it to me.

Now, I live with two mantles, Edward and Cullen. Both names were given to me out of choice. Edward Sr. chose to give me what was his, and Carlisle chose to make me his son, despite that I was not his. I feel the love both men had for me- despite the intervening decades- every time my name is called.

I want her to have my name too. I could never tell this to my father- Carlisle would not understand- but I wish I could give my bride both of my names. Isabella Cullen is a good match, but I want, with all of my dead heart, for her to have Masen too. I have always seen this life differently than my family, and I know Bella agrees with them over me in this argument. To my mind Edward Masen was born June 12, 1901, while Edward Cullen was born on a lazy summer day in 1918. Both men are in me, somewhere, and I want my wife to marry the both of them.

All my thoughts don't fit on one mantel; my fingers soon trail off into thin air. Cursing softly, I turn to face the wall holding all the family pictures.

What I find there thrills and terrifies me.

Bella and I sat together in an 8x9 mahogany frame. My arms held her close around her small waist, and hands were folded delicately on mine. Behind us a tasteful backdrop of blues and grays swirled chaotically. She looked so happy to be in my arms—it only made me marvel at her all the more. Captured in the arms of death, she beamed at the camera with a lover's spark. She was either the most amazing, trusting woman in the world, or very confused.

Considering it was Bella, she was probably both.

I let my hand brush the frame reverently. It was a testimony of our love—of the marvelous and shocking way she loved and accepted me. The tips of my fingers brushed delicately across her face, as though I were caressing the real woman, rather than her paper image.

Vampirism was a fall from grace, undoubtedly. How could she ask me to ruin her? Snuff the spark in her eyes, and rip away her soul? Could I drag her with me into Hell? How could I live with myself if I did? I wasn't sure.

My breath was shaky as I thought of it- her skin frozen over, her mind twisted… It pained me beyond reason just to think it. I loved to dearly to even think such things.

And yet- and yet I would lose her in such a short time if I didn't. Sixty, seventy years; not even a ripple in the life of the immortal.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Either I lose my perfect angel, or she loses her perfect wings. Surely whatever Lord looked down on us would punish me for taking his gift to me, such an undeserving creature, so greedily, so selfishly, into my tainted embrace though I have no right to her.

She is fashioned after my deepest desires, my wildest dreams. She is a woman created for me as though we had been matched before time began.

What perplexes me is the way we fit- she matches all of me, even the parts formed of the last eight decades. Eight decades I spent as a vampire. Eight decades I spent fallen. If Bella is truly a gift from a benevolent god- and there is no doubt in my mind she is- why would any deity make a match so innocent and lovely for such a monster? It simply does not fit.

Bella begins to mumble upstairs, and I am drawn to her by the powerful tie of love. I fly up the stairs and take my place beside her on the weak mattress. Her hands fumble against the comforter searching for me, even in sleep.

I take her fragile hands in mine, enclosing them in my steely grasp. "Edward…" She mumbled, arching against me and pressing her cheek against my shoulder. "Edward…love you…" If I had a heart it would have been fluttering at her words. I pressed my lips to her forehead.

"Love you too, angel."

I had fallen from grace so many years ago—I had never expected someone to catch me.

((Thought I'd flavor your Fourth with a little Edward angst. THIS piece hasn't been beta-ed, but I've found a beta who graciously agreed to lend me his ninja English skills on a regular basis- Everyone say thank you Heathcliff! Hopefully my stuff will be easier to read from now on.))