Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A tribute to the eagerly awaited release of "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer
me not to leave you, or to return from following after you,
For where you go I will go,
and where you stay I will stay
Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried.
May the Lord deal with me and more if anything but death parts you from me.
Book of Ruth
Chapter One: Wisdom
June 16, 2006 Saturday afternoon
"Bella?" his velvet voice broke into my thoughts.
I wondered if, after I was turned, he would be able to read my thoughts. I turned my head away from the impossibly green forest and towards his golden face, only inches from mine, as we sat on the porch watching the rain fall. My heart picked up the pace from just looking at him, though beating not quite as rapidly as it had in the meadow.
We'd returned home- well, technically not my home yet - to wait for Charlie to get back from fishing. It's a good thing we only had an hour or so to wait. And that he suggested we wait on the porch and not his bedroom. Trying to respect what were now my boundaries, I mused.
"Yes?" I asked, after a moment passed, and he hadn't spoken. His arms, wrapped around the blanket that was wrapped around me, tightened just a little.
"There's something that I'd like to do…something that is…important to me." He looked at me, amber eyes slightly imploring. They weren't as light as honey today, but still warm and liquid. "Important to me…" The words echoed in my head, only it was my voice that had said it to him, earlier this afternoon.
Anything, I wanted to answer. For you, anything at all.
But the fact that he was so hesitant sent warning signals through my head. If there's one mistake I had learned from, it was saying yes to Edward before I knew what the question was. And, I had just denied him something that he wanted. I quickly glanced down at our hands, entwined outside the blanket, knowing that if I was to stand any chance of saying no to this request, it wouldn't be while I was looking at those mesmerizing eyes of his.
"What is it?"
He shifted slightly in his seat, but still I didn't look up to be subjected to the dazzling. "I am quite aware that you won't share the same opinion on this issue," he began. "But please consider my position before refusing."
I leaned back against the seat and closed my eyes. His speech was so formal. This sounded serious.
"Does this involve compromise?" I asked.
I felt him relax at our ongoing joke. "That is definitely one of our strong points, as a couple. But I believe it would fall under…negotiation."
As a couple. I liked how he said that. "Okay…" I said slowly, not sure of what was coming next.
"I'd like to talk to Charlie alone."
My eyes shot open and I looked at him, suspicious. "About what?"
"About our engagement," he answered simply, with a glimpse down at my left hand, clasped in his. He risked a smile at me. "I do believe it is customary for-"
"Wait a minute." I interrupted. I made my voice firm. "You are not going to ask for permission to marry me. I already said yes."
"One of the happiest moments in my life," he murmured, his eyes smoldering at me, one hand now playing with my hair. "I wasn't going to ask his permission. But I do think it would convey respect, and I think he would appreciate it. It could make the situation a bit easier. And…" he trailed off.
He shrugged, and smiled my favorite crooked smile. "It is how I would have done it."
I remembered my vision – Edward, in his light suit, me in my high neck blouse, on the porch swing….definitely a different era. But not a different Edward.
I said I would consider it, so I took a moment to do just that.
I was going to have to trust Edward on many things in life. He'd trusted me more than I ever thought he would, through the absolute craziness of the last two months. Was there really a need to be stubborn about his request? I searched and could not find one – one that was rational, anyway. With any other suitor, Charlie's loaded gun would have been a terrific excuse, but it didn't apply where Edward was concerned. But it just felt so….old-fashioned. Like Charlie owned me or something.
"I'm not some sort of prize," I grumbled.
"Exactly," he agreed.
I glanced up at him to find him smiling at me, his eyes warm.
"Not a prize…but a treasure. To me, and to your father."
I studied him. The fact that he knew more of Charlie's mind than me did not escape me. What exactly did he hear, I wondered? Edward would certainly have a grasp of the issues Charlie was truly concerned about, even if he didn't voice them.
The more I thought about it, I could see that maybe it could make this easier. Maybe not having me there could lower the intensity. That could hardly be considered negative. I really didn't want to have more images of Charlie yelling at the person I loved the most. Besides, it meant something to Edward. Shouldn't that be enough?
I sighed, and Edward glanced at me with a hopeful look in his eyes, but said "Bella, it's not absolutely necessary. If you would prefer –"
I cut him off. "Actually, it's okay." I smiled.
It took a moment for my words to register. Then he slowly grinned and his arms tightened slightly around me. "Thank you," he said quietly. Simple words, but his eyes were full of emotion. Maybe he could sense there was something deeper in my decision.
"You're welcome," I replied, snuggling closer into his sculpted, stone chest, absent of heartbeat. Such an easy request, compared to what I was asking of him.
I sat alone on the back porch after he left, wrapped in the thick blanket. It felt like a long time since I'd been alone. I knew that Carlisle and Esme were in the house, but they weren't watching me. The rest were away, although I wasn't sure where. Hunting, I had assumed, even though it would be earlier than needed. Maybe Alice needed extra strength for all the wedding planning she had ahead. At any rate, I had become accustomed to being babysat by Edward or some other mythical creature because of all the danger.
I breathed deeply. The danger had passed. My life could be normal again.
I grimaced inside. As normal as it could be, as a teenager about to be married to a vampire, then lose her humanity.
And lose much more.
My thoughts drifted to Jacob, and a lump still rose in my throat. I wondered how he was doing today. Was he healing? Was he hurting?
No, I told myself. No. You cannot think about that.
With resolve, I pushed thoughts forward. To speaking with Charlie. To speaking with Renee. What would I say to my parents? How could I make them understand that Edward and I were not the same as them? Charlie… I had a feeling Charlie would understand. But Renee… I wasn't sure that anything I would say to my mother would make a difference. I sighed.
There was so much to think about. I couldn't make decisions, with so much about my transformation out of my control.
What if I couldn't control myself? This worried me a great deal. What if I had to stay away from Renee and Charlie even longer than I expected? Would my long, but absolutely necessary absence permanently harm my relationship with either of them? It was pretty clear to both of them that money was never an issue with the Cullens. So, "sorry but we can't afford to fly home" was not likely to be accepted as an excuse. And I hated to lie, not to mention that I wasn't very good at it. What if I couldn't remember all of the lies necessary just to live?
What if the werewolves made good on Billy's ominous threats? Alice wouldn't be able to see that kind of attack coming, and Edward and I wouldn't be here… And my family…would they have to uproot and leave, because of me?
Jacob had said he would never let any of his brothers hurt me. Would he hurt me? I had seen him close to rage a few times. What would I do if he tried to hurt…
Stop it. I told myself. He would never hurt you. He had said he would not split me any more. He said he would be good.
I hoped his definition of good was the same as mine.
I looked out into the misty forest and breathed deeply, trying to just let my mind go blank. The rain fell so softly, and was cushioned even further by the deep green of the cedars and the carpet of needles on the ground.
I focused my eyes on a single large drop hanging from a branch whose fringe tips barely brushed against the house. The drops around it were smaller and fell one at a time. But this drop seemed to hang on, unwilling to let go of the safety of the branch, to plunge into the unknown. It changed shape and stretched, and finally, reluctantly, I imagined, against its will, slid slowly down the needle and into the puddle below. It disappeared, melding with the droplets before it. It ceased to exist individually, and now existed collectively. Had it carried in itself something that the puddle needed? Did the presence – or absence – of one drop of rain matter at all?
The only sign the solitary raindrop had even existed was the small ripples expanding from the entry point – then they too were altered by the arrival of several more raindrops in quick succession, each creating their own little ringlets. The rain was governed by a force more powerful than itself, the natural course of the water cycle, endlessly repeating since the beginning of time.
I studied the little crests and troughs and became a bit reflective. What impression had my life made? It seemed the waves that radiated from me – at least the last two years – were waves of hurt. I cringed internally when I thought of the big and small ways I'd hurt so many people. It would be different once I was changed, I vowed. I couldn't continue hurting people, when I had eternity to live with the consequences. How had Alice put it? Part of being a Cullen was to be meticulously responsible.
With a flash of insight, I realized that in a way, I would cease to exist individually as well. For safety's sake the needs of my cov – mental cringe – my family would have to take precedence over my own selfish needs and wants. Only a force as powerful as love could give me that ability.
I had lost track of time. How many minutes had it been? Had it been an hour? A familiar anxiety crept into my consciousness – where was Jasper when I actually wanted his calming effect? – and I began to doubt my decision to let Edward speak to Charlie alone. What if they were fighting?
My thoughts turned to when I was on the mountain, waiting in misery for Edward to bring Jacob back to me, remembering when the realization hit me that the two of them could be fighting, and and …
No Bella! I was angry with myself. Stop. Stop it. Nothing good comes from reliving that night.
"You are being utterly ridiculous." I muttered to myself. That's definitely what Edward would tell me.
I jumped slightly upon hearing Esme's sweet voice.
I turned, and saw her standing hesitantly in the sliding door, a mug in her hands, little wisps of steam rising in the cool afternoon air. The rich scent of chocolate wafted toward me.
"May I join you? Or would you prefer to be alone?"
"I'd love for you to join me." I smiled. "I need the distraction."
She replied with a radiant smile and handed me the cup. It warmed my chilly hands and smelled so good. It was such a motherly thing to do.
"Thank you." I said, with just a hint of surprise.
"I do remember how to cook." She smiled again. "And I wasn't sure the last time you'd eaten. I have things for a sandwich, too, if you'd like one."
"You grocery shop?" My face must have conveyed quite a bit of surprise, because she laughed.
"It's all part of the props, Bella. How strange would it be for me to never buy food for a family with three teenage sons?"
The only time I had ever seen food in the house was at our graduation party – well, my graduation party, really. And it was for the benefit of the guests only. Curious, I asked "What do you do with it?"
The expression on her face changed to sadness. "I take it to SafePlace, in Port Angeles. They certainly need it."
I just stared. SafePlace was a rape and abuse crisis center. It had a shelter home for abused women and their children. It offered counseling and life skills courses. I had learned about it in a class at school.
"I do a little volunteering there." Her eyes took a far away look. "It's nice to rock the babies while the ladies are in their classes."
"That's not – not hard for you?" I asked.
She looked at me sadly, but intently, as if trying to understand how to take my question, which, I realized, could be taken two ways. She gave an answer that fit both.
"Sometimes, in life, it's necessary to do things…even if they are hard to do." She sighed and looked out into the forest. A moment or two passed, and I felt like her thoughts were not in the present time and place, so I waited.
"I love Carlisle, and each of my children." We both smiled at the use of that word. "But.." her smile faded. "being able to have children…I think that's the only thing that could tempt me to return to humanity." She looked at me with an unreadable expression.
I froze, confused at this turn in the conversation. Esme had voted for my transformation. Was she having second thoughts? Was she trying to tell me something? Would this be like my conversation with Rosalie, to convince me that I didn't know what I was doing?
I decided to treat it as her sharing her life with me, with no ulterior motive.
"Does the pain ever go away?" I asked, hoping she knew I was referring to the death of her only child.
She gazed out into the forest again, and hesitated. "I don't know," she said finally. "When I was human, it was more than simply pain – it was despair, and it was unbearable. But since I was changed soon after, I would not presume to know the course those emotions take in a person's life. But my observation of humanity, over these many years, has led me to conclude that it very much depends on the individual."
"For me," she continued, "despair gradually gave way to grief, and grief to sorrow, and sorrow to acceptance." She glanced at me, perhaps to see if I was listening.
I was. I realized as she spoke, that the words could apply to Jacob, in a way. So I listened carefully.
"For me, I had to accept the knowledge that there would always be a wound, a part of me that would carry sadness. And the goal was not to make it go away completely." She paused, then wistfully added, "If I forgot about him, then how could I say that I truly cared so much for him?"
Cared for him… I knew she meant her son, but…
"But I also couldn't let it control me, and paralyze me from living. What's done was done. I had a new life ahead of me. Even with all the powers I had in my new life, I could not go back and undo the past. I could only control, to some extent, how I handled the future. To take all the love that I had for him, and funnel it to those in my life who were there for me to love."
I held my breath. Had she guessed that I was thinking of Jacob?
She turned her eyes back to me. "Wounds are terrible masters, but, surprisingly enough, wonderful motivators. I use mine to motivate me to provide help in any way I can, to women in desperate situations, struggling to raise their children." She looked away again, then said softly, "Children are such a precious gift. I wish the world could understand that truth."
I tore my eyes away and tried to breathe normally. My emotions were in a bit of turmoil. I didn't think Esme was trying to chastise me, but I couldn't be sure.
My thoughts came in a rush. Had I considered, truly considered, how it would impact me to not have children? It meant nothing to me now; absolutely nothing. But what about in 5 years? In ten? Would it also be my eternal regret?
And Jacob. My goal did not need to be to forget Jacob. It would be an impossible battle to win. But to take that love, and channel it to do something good….
I turned these thoughts over and over in my head, forgetting for a moment that Esme was sitting next to me, until she moved slightly. I glanced at her, still unsure of what to say, and saw that she too was staring out into the misty shapes of the forest, lost in thought as well.
I cleared my throat. "The wound…" then I stopped, unsure of what I was asking.
"..is very small now," she finished for me. "But I didn't try to make it become smaller; I gave it the time to heal on its own. And it does get ripped open from time to time." Then she laughed. "But as you'll find out, Bella, time is viewed a bit differently when one has so much of it!"
A deeper laugh joined her from the door. "Which can be both good and bad, the sudden fluidity of time." Carlisle added.
The look of pure love that passed between them almost made tears come to my eyes. As Esme departed with a smile in my direction, I suddenly longed for Edward to return. Nothing would be too much to give up so that we could be together…not Jacob, not children, not anything. Forever would not be enough time to show my love for him. I sipped the hot chocolate, feeling warmth spread through my whole body with each swallow.
The subtle change in the temperature let me know evening had arrived. I pulled the blanket closer and made sure all the edges were tucked in, so no draft could steal the warmth away. Edward had remembered to drive instead of run, in case Charlie was being particularly observant today, so I heard the Volvo on the driveway announcing his arrival. Before I even set down the mug and turned he was already at the door. He was so beautiful to me. His grace was evident even in simple movements, like opening and closing a door.
"Hi." I said nervously, looking up into an unreadable face.
He gently, always gently, took my face in his hands – a surefire way to accelerate my heart. For a moment he stared deep into my eyes, and very slowly, very gently, brought his cool lips down on mine for a too-brief kiss, then resumed his previous position on the bench with me. His eyebrows raised slightly as he noticed the now empty mug with tell-tale signs of froth and chocolate on the rim, sitting on the small table by the bench.
"What did he say?" I asked. I was surprised by how calm my voice sounded.
He looked at me solemnly. "He said no."
"What?!" I gasped. "I thought you said you weren't going to ask –
"I didn't," he clarified. "And it took a little bit of delicate explaining to impress upon him that I was not asking for his permission, only for his blessing."
He looked away. "And then, we had a little…shall we say… conversation."
I just stared.
He grinned. "Although it would be a very loose definition of the word 'conversation'."
I felt the blood drain out of my face, and I must have slumped slightly, for I felt Edward's arms tighten reflexively around me.
"Oh no," I said. "I should have gone."
"No, I'm glad you let me go alone," he said sincerely. "He had a lot of questions for me, and it was easier for him to-" he paused and smiled "interrogate me without you present."
"Interrogate?" I frowned. "About…"
He grinned a crooked smile. "He wanted to know if you were pregnant."
I stared. "He thought I was pregnant?!" The indignation in my voice was apparent. After all the restraint I had exercised in that area, it felt like a personal affront.
"Well," he chuckled softly, "he seemed quite convinced that was the only reason you would ever agree to be married, and so he was intent on holding me directly responsible. When I assured him that was not part of the picture, I think it took him by surprise. It calmed him down rather quickly."
"What did you talk about?"
His eyes were now serious, and he looked away. "Various things…things that most fathers would be concerned about, I imagine."
"Like…." I prompted with an exhale, realizing that I'd been holding my breath.
He looked back at me. "That I love you. That I can – and I will – take care of you. That you are happy. That this is your decision, not me pressuring you into something that you don't want." He paused, and smiled slightly. "That I am entirely convinced that he will do me great bodily harm if I ever hurt you in any way again."
I grimaced. Charlie did not know how impossible it would be for him to hurt Edward even slightly. Physically, anyway. But Charlie reminding Edward of when he left…that, I knew, did hurt him. It made me angry. There was no need for him to bring it up.
With all the powers I had, even in my new life, I could not go back and undo the past…
"He wants to talk to you." Edward continued. "He's waiting for us." Then he pulled back the blanket, chivalrously tucked my arm through his and smiled. "Shall we?"
author's note – added August 16th, 2008
Thank you for reading my fanfic! Now I have two questions for you!
First question: How did you find this story?
Found it while browsing on this fanfiction site,
Linked over from Twilight Fanfic and Fanart site
A friend told me about it
Other (tell me!)
Second question: Will you be reading the next chapters?
My stats show me that I have 1,022 hits on chapter one for this story, but only 419 people go on to "hit" (read) the other 12 chapters. As an author, I'm really curious why. Please leave me an e-mail (you can just leave a review) and let me know why you won't be reading the subsequent chapters. I'm not looking for the "b/c your story sucked" kind of answers. I'm looking for answers like….not enough action in the first chapter, or the ending didn't leave me wondering what Charlie would say, or the first chapter was too long….or I don't know how to get to chapter two!! Tell me how!! I want some kind of constructive criticism, not just a slam.
Thanks! It will help me write more twilight stories for you to enjoy!