Ashes to ashes, brother dear. Dust to dust.

We embody this. Our sole destruction is crumbling from granite into the flame-licked ash and the smell of incense burning.

We do not live. We endure.

Life is distraction from whatever it is we do. When the pain becomes too much, we do not die. Not even when we are on our knees, begging for it all to end.

I admire that you could do it. I admire the courage it took to attempt to end things, when you believe your soul is damned. You would face eternal damnation because it would be better than a world where she did not live in. Perhaps you hoped against all hope that you would find her, in whatever comes next.

Know that I would have grieved, if you had succeeded in your ultimate self-destruction.

But Edward, I don't understand.

How can you take her back? After the agony, what she drove you to do?

We cannot afford to play, Edward. Not when the stakes are so high. Or do you want to live with a broken heart?

You always were masochistic, reveling in the pain of your self-guilt for the killing years. Don't think I didn't know that when you looked into my newborn eyes you saw yourself as you were — a savage predator with only the thinnest veneer of control. When we slipped — and most of us did — I saw the civilized façade stretch thin as you listened to our gory thoughts of mixed relief and shame.

Is that why you kiss her even as your throat burns in dry heat that threatens to overwhelm you? Does it make you feel more civilized than the rest of us, to be able to withstand such perfect torture?

Does love draw you to Bella, or merely fascination with her mystery and the pull of her blood — prey to predator?

Likely you will swear until you are blind that you love her more than life itself — but you don't have life, it's just a mockery of everything. Pretend she can love you forever, the way you deserve to be loved.

It won't change the cold, hard truth.

If you loved her truly, you would let her go. You would stop fighting to win her affections.

If I hadn't made the mistake of calling you, how soon would you have been crawling on your hands and knees back to Forks? However miserable she was without you, everything that has gone wrong in her life has been your fault.

What if she really had died? What if you had succeeded in your melodramatic suicide?

I'll bet you didn't think about us, Edward. Maybe you thought of Carlisle as you set out to test his theories about … life after death.

Having come so close to the brink of this boundary, could you condemn her to your — our — life?

She wants it now. I'm not sure she'll want it once she knows the full repercussions of her choice. How could anyone want this — this savage existence that thrives on blood and the hunt?

You must understand that I want you to be happy, Edward.

And in a way, I want Bella to be happy as well. I may be jealous of her (she is everything I lost so many years ago) but I am not incapable of basic decency.

I do not dislike Bella because of anything all that personal. But she has the unforgivable.

She has the things I covet.

If she were turned to stone and made unchanging and eternally a fixture in our home and family, I could grow attached to another sister.

While I can stop it, I cannot let a girl (she is so young) give up everything she will ever want in life.

She could have the life I dreamed of, before that night.

I know it is probably the most selfish thing I have ever done, in asking you to leave Bella human.

But I cannot help but to ask one more time:


thanks to Kayla Ariev for a fantastic beta job!