Carlisle:

I'm exactly right for you, Bella. It would have been effortless for us — comfortable, easy as breathing. I was the natural path your life would have taken… If the world was the way it was supposed to be, if there were no monsters and no magic…

Jacob Black, Eclipse, Chapter 26

Carlisle:

The first time Carlisle smells human blood, it calls to him, screams seductive and happy promises of absolution. He is a handsome mortal, a promising figure in his community, a doting husband, a cruel master, a dreamer, a dark haired succubus who smells like lilies and fine rum. He has blue eyes; Carlisle remembers he once had blue eyes the colour of sunny skies.

The dark haired human looks at Carlisle curiously from across the river and Carlisle nods. He nods and then he turns away.

He's better then blood.

He did not believe in magic, but now he has to.

He promised himself he would not join the hunt, but he does now with a twisted ugly grin.

Twin bodies silhouette against the roaring flames, their shrieks quietened.

"You have no proof!" He had screamed at his father, once.

Milly Baldwin was only nine years old when they found her ripped open against a cold, white rock. Carlisle's tears mixed with rain that performed Milly's final baptism, cleansing her tiny body of the sticky, ugly red.

No one had ever heard the old women talk, not ever. She had laughed once when Carlisle's younger brother had stumbled into a fruit stand. Her daughter was skinny, with knobbled fingers and a hard mouth.

Burn.

With thick rope rounded around his fingers he secured them both. The girl sobbed quietly, but she did not beg to live. The women said nothing.

Carlisle stood back and watched as the flames took them straight to hell.

Murderer.

Esme:

Edward plays her the prettiest songs on the days when the clouds extinguish the sun, like cloth over fire. She moves slowly with the music, feeling its vibrations against her skin, practiced breathing hitching when he stops.

"Edward." She smiles. "My son."

Life moves easily, most of the time, if slowly. She too moves sluggily through time, paradoxical and forever. Her body still smooth and (to the foolish eye) soft with motherhood, stuck in a moment of loss, a reminder of the invisible son and the despotic (ex)husband.

She cries not, neither does she mourn.

Except for the sun.

Carlisle, her angel, picks her up in cool arms. The locket clicks closed. A familythatwasnot smile, smile, smile into oblivion.

"Fear not loved one." He murmurs into her hair and Edward chuckles. "The sun will shine on."

Later it will rain. A broken bone tells her so.

Her bad leg complains as she hoists herself towards the open grey. The cliff is steep and high enough so that when Esme does reach the gritty plateau of its pinnacle, she is numb with cold and hatred. The baby which once grew is now dead, clutching bitterly at her soul as it died, taking it with him.

The ocean roars beneath her, a welcoming hiss of nothingness.

She will not feel. She will not love. She will be naught and void.

The air hisses too as she falls through it, a screech of finality. Esme crosses her arms over her breasts in a final prayer of forgiveness. God will know, she hopes, that the human heart can only take so much. That to die is not weakness, but a final act of hope.

Above all things, of faith.

She does not feel the pins of the ocean, nor the sting of the rocks. Only nothingness. Only mercy. The rain does not fall on her broken body.

Rosalie:

The jealously roars inside her still.

Sunlight turn them into diamonds, their smiles the self-indulgent smiles of the lucky. She laughs more freely now, is more generous and feels less the slow and heavy monotony of time.

Yet…

She does not like ugly (plain, ordinary) things and her envy is ugly. Envy is wanting what she cannot have. Rosalie wants for nothing and she will not see Edward in the babes bouncing curls, or Bella in her glittering eyes. She fought for the child, she won it with blood and with damnation. Just like she won her Emmett.

Alice dances for Nessie; fast, chaotic spins and leaps, a dark, dancing top. The child claps her fat little hands and calls for more. The darkness snarls as Rosalie watches them. Light, which falls easily over her family, struggles to reach the corners of her soul.

Mine, the envy snarls.

Her wind chime laugh makes Nessie grin as Rosalie reaches to hold her.

"Rosie!"

"She likes beautiful things." Alice says with a smile. "Doesn't she?"

Rosalie dances slowly with darling in her arms and the ugliness dies happily. Like a secret she murmurs.

"I do too."

Even bitterness, even jealously, even the worse hideousness, does not contend with love.

They whisper about her at tea parties and during outings. She is the most beautiful, the Rose, Miss Hale, Rosalie. Their finest source of entertainment.

"Beauty doesn't last forever." A matron tuts. "Roses wither."

Rosalie does not believe in fairytales, but she does believe in magic. Magic makes men swoon as she walks by, magic catches the eye of the wealthiest and most prominent bachelors, magic murmurs in her ear-

"To look at you is to believe in God."

She does not believe that her own beauty is as static as they whisper. All the same she is smug when she announces her engagement. This is diamond, this is all and eternity.

This is not what she believes as she dies weeks later. All she hears among the pain, the patterns under her lashes of red and black, is that chafing adage.

"All things die."
She does sneering.

Emmett

With red in her teeth, a siren stands over him, her nostrils flared.

Angel of Mercy holds his hand and brushes his curls.

"H…" He tried to plead. No sound comes out of his brittle throat.

The beautiful queen shakes her head, her blonde halo twirling and whirling in the wind.

"You're dying." She says matter of factly. "I'm sorry."

That's probably correct, he thinks, after all I'm pretty sure I've been disembowelled.

Mistress Death smiles wanly-

"All things pass through time in the end." She strokes his fingers. "Don't worry, it'll be quick."

She is illuminated in his dying vision by the reds, oranges, golds and pinks of the setting sun and he thinks, don't let me die, let me live so I can worship you.

The goddess's gaze is searching.

"You remind me of someone I once knew."

Don't let me die.

"I'm sorry." She murmurs. "I'm sorry for this. You will forgive me."

The ground falls beneath him.

"Eventually."

"Tell me." The bartender purrs.

He pulls her onto his lap easily, grinning as his friends watch with mixed expressions of lust and jealousy.

She's a pretty thing, plump crimson lips, rounded breasts and a shock of red hair.

"Tell me I'm the finest thing you've ever lied eyes on."

Lied being the operative word, he obliges happily.

Jasper

In the days when they were the only two in the world, before Jasper really knew the meaning of temptation, he sat next to Alice, beside a wood fire they did not need.

The orange glow lights up her face, and her choppily cut black hair, making her so beautiful that Jasper questions every thought of beauty he had conceived. Even in those early days he knows he loves her, and that she has effectively ended the chances of his loving any one else.

"Just be good Jaz…" Alice croons. Jasper remembers learning in bible class about Lord Jesus Christ saving Matthew the Evangelist, and he wonders if he is being saved.

"Just be good and we'll get everything we ever wanted."

It has been too long since he had last set foot in the south. The military has a way of making even the worse of common men civilized, and Jasper had never been among the worse anyway. His career had taken him (eventually) north, up to colder climates that made him sullen. He had liked Washington fine, but the feeling of dust under boot was somehow comforting. The long drawn out dance of finally returning home.

Poor Aunt June, she'd lived a long life. Deserved better from him, he should have visited.

"Jay!" Mary Goldstein called out to him with a grin, her horse passing his. "My, my if it isn't the prodigal son."

He pulls to a stop, pulling himself off the mule with tired muscles.

Her cheek is dirty as he plants a kiss on it. Mary, with dry pulled back hair, looks at him with calculating eyes.

"Missus, Jay?"

"Nope." He replied wryly, recalling the hard faces and treacle voices of the women in Washington.

"It'll happen." She tells him brazenly.

Jasper watches her critically, noting the wear of age around her eyes.

"We all get sick of the grey and the loneliness eventually. A man can't search wide open spaces forever."

The cold, wide open spaces of his heart wonders if perhaps she is right,

Alice

She is afraid, and she is alone. The broken doll lies in the abandoned house, closes her eyes and pretends to sleep. Flickers of the future still die under her eyelids, warm moments of light in a world that seems too dark.

The boy with the golden hair kisses with ghost lips, he murmurs silent sweet nothings.

Alice hugs herself; smiling at a private joke he will tell her. Eventually.

He will come soon.

The others gather around her, their futures huddling against her and keeping her content on this lonely bed.

The beautiful blonde keeps her amused with her obstinacy, she smirks and snarks with Alice.

The strongest of them makes her laugh out loud, they play and dance together. He twirls her in his arms. Little sister.

The blonde man and his wife keep counsel with her, telling her in serious whispers that everything will be ok.

You're special Alice. You're part of the family.

The two lovers rest their heads on her shoulder. The lovely brown haired girl shares secrets with her; she will be her favourite sister, her most esteemed confident. (Iwon'tbetagainstAlice)

Her brother laughs at them both with love in his eyes. He understands her best of all (almost).

Us freaks have to stick together Alice.

The broken doll lies silent in the abandoned house, somewhere in the future her family lies with her.

Everything crumbles, nothing is static.

Mary's mind is not exception. Orderlies bring her meals three times a day; she looks at them through sightless eyes, her body folded into the padded corner of her cell.

With out the past, she murmurs to them, the future will not occur.

Nothing is real for the girl who sees nothing but a future that will not occur, she lives now in the nothing world of marble statures and walking corpses.

"You're being stupid Edward." She tells a nurse tartly one day. "Come home to your family."

I hear she can see the future.

The nurse rolls her eyes at the whispers and the rumours, she does not think very much about Mary Brandon and when she does, there is no mystery there.

"I'm mad…" Mary giggles, tears carving wretched trails down ivory cheeks. "Mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad."

Edward.

After their lovemaking they lie against each other in the dark and recite poetry to each other. Sonnets, prose, verses of their favourite words, tragedies, romances, dreams, death. Her lips taste sweet against his, as they always have, hard won among a million different possible fates, all that they managed to avoid.

"This is the very ecstasy of love/Whose violent property fordoes itself." Bella whispers into his skin. "And leads the will to desperate undertakings."

Edward strokes her long white fingers, fiddling absently with their joints.

"Hamlet. Scene 1 Act 2. Polonius."

She pouts.

"I'll get you eventually."

They roll among Egyptian sheets, laughing hard, the laugh of those who have the luxury of not needing to breathe. She holds onto him tight as he takes her, as he has again and again, until her fingers dent the cooked clay of his pallid skin. Afterwards he tells her that she is wrong, that if they live another million years she won't ever best him in the language of love, nor the insanity that love brings with it.

In his last moments Edward is alone.

His cracking skin looses moisture; salty brine tears waste even more. The hand of god tipped away from Edward's favour, took his mother, his father, his friends, his dreams and his entire. Now his life tears slowly away from him, fraying, unravelling bit by bit. Sickness is cruel, merciless, unyielding, it does not give him the luxury of dignity.

Edward's lips part in a final pray of serenity as life slips through his fingers.

A hundred years away the girl with brown hair kisses another man with no regrets, she does not feel the loss of a dead bronze haired boy.

Unbeknownst to Edward Mason, he looses her too.

Bella.

Lying on their fronts and reflecting in the sun, husband and wife watch their daughter. As they always have, heads together, they whisper about how happy they are.

"He's already ordered two thousand pink roses." She whispers to her Edward. "-And I helped him write his speech."

Edward rolls onto his back, closing his eyes and smiling against the cold sunlight.

"I can't believe she's fifteen years old and our little girl is getting married."

"-I bet he doesn't even use it." She continues absently. "Knowing Jacob and Renesme he'll probably just forget it the moment he sees her and make up something ridiculous."

An arm winds around her waist and Edward hugs her close. In the background they listen to the soft soundtrack of happy voices. She presses her face against his shoulder, and for a moment they lie alone on the island of themselves.

"I never dreamed of a life this good,"

Jacob rubs her stomach and studies the emerging hump diligently.

"Seven weeks?" He asks carefully.

Bella nibbles at the corner of her lip nervously.

"I know this is earlier then we planned." She sniffed, burnt by the truth in her statement. It was too early, this gestating human which had resulted from a broken condom and too many margaritas. They had only been married three months, she was meant to start her graduate degree next year, Jacob's mechanic was just starting to get successful.

"It doesn't matter…" Her husband promised her, pulling her back into the warm sheets on which they had just made love. His lips were rough, but they still inspired fire even after the dreaded vows had been recited. "I love you. This baby will be loved Bells."

His grin cracks his dark face, white teeth gleaming at the back of his wide smile.

"Now I like Lilly for a name..."

Bella kisses her lover with abandon, and for a while she's happier then she had ever imagined she could be. Reality waits for a moment to protrude, but at the back of her mind Bella knows eventually it will and she promises herself she'll get a diaper service.

Leah, Emily and Sam.

Emily always loved fairytales before she become part of one.

Once upon a time there were two cousins (sisters really) who fell on opposite sides of a curse (or a blessing). One was fated to live its effects, and one was fated to ride its aftermath. On a stony hill, somewhere in the middle of the forests of Forks, they said goodbye.

Leah looks so skinny at the end, she was always the more beautiful but to Emily she looks almost otherworldly (she is) in the light of the setting sun, her hair dancing in spirally loops around her shoulders. Her voice is thick but her shining black eyes are determined.

"I have to go." She says simply. "I'm sorry."

Despite all that has happened, Emily cannot believe that she lost Leah along time ago. She warps her brown arms around her torso, and glares at Leah through her broken heart, through her scars.

"They don't forget you know." She cried through the howling wind. "He may love me more now, but he never…"

Leah nods, and the girl that was, the girl whose thoughts are her own, fights back bitter tears.

"The cruellest irony ever invented by the powers that be…" Emily sneers at her. "Is that both of us, irrevocably, own an incomplete share, that we will forever be sharing a man who belongs to both of us."

As a towering wolf lopes into the horizon, and Emily returns home to her lover, she wonders which sister won the better deal.

With one hand Leah plays with her cousins hair as they chatter, the other locked in the vice grip of the grinning man beside her. Emily laughs too, at nothing in particular, and thinks how Leah has never looked more beautiful. She leans back and watches in content the smiles and stories of their friends and family on Leah's special day. Jacob Black looking deep into the brown eyes of his fiancée, who plays absently with his shirt collar, Quil chuckling as he chases his new girlfriend into the soft green grass of the lawn and Embry watching her shyly out of the corner of his eye.

She stands up, clinks her glass and clears her throat loudly.

"Fate-" Emily begins with a smile. "Is a funny thing…"