(A/N: Hey everyone. I know I completely disappeared off the face of the earth there, but for the last month I have been gone all hours of daylight, seven days a week. I was working multiple jobs, and super tired all the time, but all that is starting to simmer down, and I have TIME in my life again! (Honestly, it's weird, I don't even know what to do with myself.) Anyway, all that to say, I have more time to work on The Storm, and there are only a couple chapters left after this, so hopefully we'll get things wrapped up pretty quickly. Thanks for your patience and enjoy. We've finally reached the platform!)
Edward: You're such a punk.
Capella: Me? Why?
Edward: Uh, hello, a whole month?
Capella: Right, well some of us aren't vampires and can't get a weeks worth of stuff done in 5 minutes.
Edward: No excuses! I'm disappointed.
Capella: Aw, sad day. Well, I think I know what might make you feel better?
Edward: … Okay, I cave. What?
Capella: I TOTALLY forgive you for eating that shark in front of my friends!
Edward: Really? Why?
Capella: Cuz I had shark, and you're right, it's delicious.
Edward: I know right? Oh crap, I'm starting to sound like Jessica Stanly.
Capella: HA HA! That's awesome… (sees readers looking surprised at her) I mean… so NOT awesome.
Edward: Right… What I meant to say was, (says with a brittish accent) 'Oh my, Capella, I am so pleased that you found shark to your liking. It really is such a delightful and delectable morsel from the sea.'
Capella: (raises one eye brow) Where'd you pick up the accent?
Edward: (shrugs and mumbles) I du no.
Capella: Oh, I'm l-o-l-ing, out loud. : )
Edward: You totally are!
Capella: I know right? Hey, let's do the thing together today!
Edward: Sweet… On 3: 1… 2… 3…
Capella and Edward: CAPELLA DOESN'T OWN TWILIGHT!
(Here's a recap of the last couple chapters. Since it's been a while I thought you might want a bit of a refresher: Jacob is killed, and we all find out that Seth is Jacob's father. Edward takes Bella to his house, where they fight, make up, and then Bella gets kidnapped and Edward thinks she ran away again. Alice wakes up to find Emmett, Jasper and Jack around her. She is having a serious internal conflict on whether she loves Jack or Jasper more. On the one hand, she's always loved Jasper, but she doesn't always know where she stands with him, or if he'll even stick around. With Jack, he's open and honest about how he feels about her, he's heroic and he's all that Alice has ever dreamed of marrying, and she can't deny the spark between them, but she can't just dismiss what she's always felt for Jasper. Bella has been captured by Walt and Oliver, and just after she sees the mysterious scrolls in Oliver's bag, Demetri appears, tells the men the war has been lost and they can't come back into the city, and takes Bella to prison with her parents. Alice, Jasper and Jack sneak in to see Bella, and afterwards they seek out a way to set her free, but unsuccessfully. And so we've come to the platform, where Bella is waiting to be executed. When we last left Edward, he was on a great white horse, at the end of the crowd, watching his beloved about to die.)
Chapter 41- The Platform
I rode through the capital as fast as the horse would go, and then finally when I came to the field, the crowd was so thick, I had to stop the horse.
They all had fists raised up into the air, shouting fiercely at something ahead. My eyes followed their gaze until they came upon what had them so enraged.
My breath stopped.
My heart froze.
My whole world came crashing down.
And it didn't matter that she had left. And it didn't matter if she did or didn't want me anymore. My bitterness, my hurt, my rage, none of it mattered.
From my seat on the horse I could see above all their heads. There was a raised platform at the foot of the crowd. A top the platform stood an executioner with his sword held high, ready to strike. And there, on her knees was the one whose blood the weapon hungered for.
Right before me she knelt, her fear filled eyes scanning the crowd as if she were searching for something or someone.
There, kneeling before the executioner, was my Bella.
It didn't take long for the shock that paralyzed my entire being to ware off as the hero inside me was screaming to be set free, all the while my bleeding heart cried out in pain. A burst of burning energy exploded inside me, and at that moment, all that mattered was getting onto that platform, and getting Bella off it.
As I grabbed the leather reins harnessed to the sturdy white horse beneath my legs, I let out a cry that warned all before me to move out of my path, because I was pushing through this crowd whether they would or not.
"Hi'ya!" I cried, kicking the horse fiercely on both sides, sending it into war mode. It began to race forward, somehow seeming to seep my determination into its skin, giving no concern for the people before him. The moving was not as fast as I needed, but at least the horse was not afraid of the people.
I didn't take my eyes off the girl before my eyes. The fire that blinded my sight prevented any hope of seeing if she had noticed me by now, though I didn't doubt she had. People were screaming in a new kind of chaos as they desperately tried to scurry away from the horse and I. We were hard to miss.
"Hold on Bella," I breathed as I kicked the horse harder.
I moved my eyes to the executioner and I became aware that he definitely had noticed me. His sword drew back away from Bella and I breathed in relief as I once again attempted to push the horse harder forward.
The screams of the people around me filled my ears, but I would not be deferred. They had put Bella up on this platform. They were crying for her death. My compassion for any but her was non-existence.
I saw the executioner look at something or someone to the side, and noticed out of the corner of my eye a man in white moving his arms back and forth in hurried motion. The man with the sword nodded at whatever the man in white was ordering and moved back to Bella, who I now saw was staring at me with wide eyes.
I was almost there, but the fear that I would be too late gnawed at my being as the executioner raised his sword, slowly brought it low to find his aim for my beloved's neck, and then brought it purposefully back into the air.
"No!" I cried as I pushed through the last stretch of the crowd.
My eyes didn't leave that sword as my horse finally made its way into a clearing. They remained pinned to that pinnacle of death as it began its quick decent down towards its claim. Even as my horse jumped into the air and onto the platform, I didn't turn away, knowing with all that I was that my mission was to get that blade away from my Bella.
And as we flew through the air, I let out another loud cry as my animal and I came crashing into the executioner, and I continued to hold my focus on the steel that reflected off the light as it slowly spun through air away from my beloved, further and further until finally, with a loud clank it landed on the ground a great distance away from the platform. That was the moment when I finally took my eyes off the weapon, and turned a wicked glare onto the man under my horse's feet.
From underneath his black mask, I could see his eyes full of fear, staring at both the man and the horse whose gaze bore down pointedly at him. My steed clanked his hoofs upon the platform a couple times and let out an angry snort, he too keeping his eyes on the man beneath him, as if he could read my thoughts and knew my purpose. As if our minds were one.
"What is the meaning of this?" cried an angry voice from behind me, and I quickly dismounted my horse to run and shield Bella behind me.
I wanted to pull her to me, to hold her and breathe her in, to assure myself that she was here and we were together, but at the moment I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep her safe.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the horse was still standing guard over the executioner, not taking his eyes off the bloodthirsty man.
I fixed my gaze on the man before me. A tiny soft hand wrapped firmly around my calf and I remembered Bella was still kneeling behind me. I could feel her fear through that hand and I felt my body tense as I held out my sword and prepared for a fight.
It didn't matter that there were now at least twenty guards surrounding the platform, all with their own swords pointed at myself, even though I was one of them, adorned in my own red uniform. At that point, I wasn't thinking anything of my own wellbeing. Some how, I was going to get Bella out of this mess, even if I had to fight them all trying.
"Who are you boy?" called the man again. He was adorned in a long white robe made of fine material, and I knew he was some sort of leader amongst the people. "Why are you disrupting this execution?"
"This woman is innocent," I declared moving my sword to point directly at the man.
"Who are you to make such a claim?"
"I serve the queen. It's my job to see to her safety. Am I right to assume she hasn't been given the right to a trial?"
"There are no trials for traitors and murderers."
"Whom has she killed? And whom has she betrayed?"
The crowd around me shouted out in anger and I felt Bella's grip tighten around my leg. I was surprised I was even being allowed to speak this long, but as I did I hoped I was buying time enough to get her out of here. I didn't exactly have a plan yet, and my brain was wildly trying to formulate one.
"Have you not heard the cries lifted up for our countrymen boy?" he replied, his eyes squinting and his voice becoming more and more outraged. "Have you not seen the blood spilt upon the street because of that woman's," he thrust a bony finger at Bella, "and her father's treachery?"
More outraged shouts swarmed around me, and I took a moment to scan the angry mob. At the front, my sister caught my eye, and the surprise was enough to take me out of this moment for a second. What was Alice doing there?
I looked questioningly at her, noticing her reddened eyes and tear stained cheeks. Suddenly my eyes caught Jasper at her side, his arm around her shoulders, and I was grateful to him for being there. If this didn't turn out well for Bella and I, for I would not stay in this world without her, at least he would be there to comfort my sister.
My attention returned back to the man in front of me, who was whispering to someone hidden in the crowd so that I couldn't see his face. I saw the guards looking to this man for orders, and then finally he turned back to me, and I saw something in his eyes that sent shivers down my spine.
"Because you are a soldier," he began coldly, "I'm going to give you one chance. Forget any plans of escape right now. Look around boy. You have not one ally in this place, and every sword wishes that it could be the one to spill the queen's blood. Don't think they won't take down anything in their way to have that chance."
I gulped, his words sinking in, knowing that as much as I willed it to be different, there was no escape for Bella amidst the anger and the weapons around us.
"So here's your one and only chance; Step off the platform now and live, or add your name to the list of executions scheduled today."
I felt my breath quicken as his options flooded my mind like waves thrashing around in a storm, like the very storm that brought Bella to me. And then, like a light in the darkness, the voice of an angel whispered in my ears.
"Go Edward," it sang, and I turned to find Bella standing right at my side, her face just barely inches from mine. "Go and live."
The storm inside stopped at that moment, and there was only one option for me. Everything else was impossible. I reached up a hand and softly placed it on her face, the screams of the crowd finally drowning out to nothing untill all I could hear was Bella's breathing, all I could feel was her heart breaking, and all I could see were the tears falling down her cheeks.
"No," I whispered firmly, and her eyes squeezed shut as more tears spilled over.
"Have it your way," resolved the voice of the man below us. "Seize him," he ordered, and before I knew it men in red began to swarm the platform and surround me and my love.
"No," I cried as I felt multiple pairs of strong hands wrapping around me and pulling me back.
I saw Bella look back and forth frantically as her mind quickly tried to comprehend what was going on, and then she cried out, "Edward! Wait, please!"
She tried to push forward, but was powerless against the men who had imprisoned her in their grasp.
I on the other hand fought as hard as I possibly could, somewhere in the back of my mind thanking God for all my wrestling matches with Emmett. I knew how to escape from strong men. They held tightly, but I jumped and kicked and squirmed, trying to find the weak link that would set me free.
Amidst my struggle, I saw two men throw Bella to the ground. She recovered quickly, and tried to push her self back up, her eyes ever on me and mine on her, but one of the soldiers slammed a fist down upon her head and a cheer erupted from the crowd.
I froze as I watched Bella fall back upon the platform, her body lifeless. I felt both my breath and my heart stop as I waited for her to move. I barely registered the soldiers that were pulling me toward the stairs.
Finally her shoulders lifted, and Bella slowly pushed herself back up to her knees. The men started retreating back to her, but she held up her hands and they stopped. She then lifted her body until she was standing straight up on both her knees, and shifted so that she was now facing me.
My heart went from dead and unmoving to racing as fast as the wind. The soldiers were still trying to pull me back, but my eyes were stayed on Bella's, who would not take hers off of me. She stared out proud, head hi, and I had a flashback of Bella's first days on the farm.
I wasn't sure what to do, or how to move, until I saw the sword back in the hands of the executioner. He slowly walked up to Bella, grinned slyly at me through his black mask, and then lifted the weapon.
I'm not sure exactly how I did it, but some how I managed to slam the back of my head against one of my captors, and then slip right out of their grasp. With all the strength I had left, for it was quickly seeping from my body, I ran to Bella.
The whole world seemed to be moving in slow motion with each step I took forward, and every inch further that the sword came down, my heart screamed louder in my ears.
Suddenly I was diving though the air, and it was like it wasn't even me, but it was as if I was somehow outside myself, watching me fly through the air, dive into Bella, and knock her out of the way, the sword just a breath away from it's target.
We rolled across the wood, and I found I was holding myself protectively over her, like that day in the woods when I thought she was being attacked, only this time, she didn't pull away, just held there, breathing deeply and staring intensely into my eyes.
That one moment, the connection that passed between us right then, one that no one could understand had they not experienced all that we had, seemed to last forever, and it felt like years, not seconds later that those same hands were once again pulling us apart.
"Hold," called that same despised voice from before, and, now standing to my feet, I looked back down at the man in white. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bella on her feet, being held just a couple feet away from me.
The man seemed to be considering something as his face was masked with irritation, his bushy white eye brows scrunched together.
"If they're so desperate to be together, than they can die together."
The men holding us looked back and forth in confusion, but the man in white waved his hand and they set us free. As soon as they did, without hesitation I ran to Bella, gathering her as tightly as possible into my arms, and it didn't matter who could see or who would know now. I could love her and not hide it, and even if it was only for a few more moments, I would relish in it with everything I had.
Bella pulled back a bit until she could face me, and her eyes were still flowing with tears. I reached up to wipe them away with my hands, my skin burning at the touch.
"Please Edward, you have to go. You don't belong up here," she pleaded with me in a whisper, her voice full of despondency.
I held one hand against her cheek, and wrapped my free arm around her back to pull her as tightly to me as I possibly could. I then moved the hand placed on her face to finger the necklace above her chest.
Bella, it read. The same necklace that gave me the first clue as to who she was, this girl from the stars, from a place I could never go. Who would have thought that first moment I read the necklace's engraving that she would be here, at the end, with the boy from the earth?
"Wherever you are, that's where I belong."
I felt her surrender in my arms, and I was glad. I didn't want to spend our final moments fighting. Slowly, without letting go of each other, we began to drop down until our knees were rested against the platform, our bodies still upward and together. I heard my horse being dragged away, and the executioner being helped to his feet, but I didn't look.
I heard her suck in a deep, shaky breath, and then she reached up both hands to softly run them down the sides of my face, stopping just at the base of my neck where she lightly rested her fingers.
I pressed my forehead against hers and closed my eyes, trying not to think about what was coming next, only that in this moment we were together, fully and without restraint.
"Edward," she breathed, and I opened my eyes to take in her beauty once more, not daring to miss a single piece of whatever she was about to say. "I love you."
I could do not but pull her closer and press my lips fiercely against her own. We held there for what seemed like ages, and no one, no man, no sword, no fate of the universe was going to take that away.
Her fingers gripped the neck of my shirt as she eagerly responded to my kiss, and I felt as if in that moment the whole world could no longer be held together. All the fabrics of time and space that kept it in place were on fire and bursting at the seams. Every particle of every living thing, every piece of the sky and the sun and the moon and the stars were unraveling, and all that was left was Bella and myself, and this moment and this kiss, and the salty tears, both hers and mine, that coated my lips.
Whatever it was that passed between us right then, I have no words to truly describe the depth and the power and the complete rightness and wholeness. I didn't hear the crowds screaming for our deaths, or see the man in the white robe motioning to someone on the platform, or sense the man in the black mask raise up his sword, ready to bring it down in one fowl swoop against both our throats.
It was just me, and it was just Bella, and it was just us together, and as I pulled back ever so slightly from the kiss that shook the Heavens, I whispered so softly the earth thundered, "Bella, I love you."
I heard an almost inaudible gasp come from her mouth and we pressed as tightly against each other as possible, to enraptured in the other to feel the fear of the blade that was just about to sail through the air.
"Edward," Bella cried one last time, as we waited for the end.
What was my brother doing up there? Of all the places he could be, why was he on that platform, risking his life? Could my family really take another hit? Could I lose any more? How much more would I have to suffer before my heart was more than broken? Before it was completely reformed into a tattered mess I wouldn't recognize?
I started to run toward him, but Jasper pulled me back. I turned the anger of my gaze upon me, but it fell as soon as I saw the panic on his own face.
I let his firm grip on my shoulders anchor me down as I watched in horror at the scene before me. A man in a white robe was at the front trying to restore order to the situation, and a hoard of guards surrounded my brother and Bella, swords raised high.
"Edward!" I cried out, but he couldn't hear me.
"Alice?" came Jack's voice who was suddenly standing at my side. He looked up at the platform and then back at Jasper and I with a confused expression on his face.
"That's her brother," Jasper explained before he was even asked.
Jack turned a surprised gaze back to the platform, taking in the scene, trying to make sense of it all.
I too was trying to weave my way through the jumbled mess that was my brain at that moment.
"Wait here," Jack commanded, determination in his voice, and then disappeared, though I barely noticed.
"Jasper?" I whimpered, and he put his arm around my shoulder, taking his place directly at my side. "Jasper…" I cried again, not sure what else to say. Not sure how to voice the fear that was penetrating my very being.
His grip around me tightened, and I found that his hold on me was the only thing keeping me upright at that moment. My legs and feet had both gone numb.
My fears only intensified as I noticed the guards step away from Bella and my brother, and as they knelt on the platform before the executioner.
I pressed my back into Jasper, knowing there was nothing I could do, but needing to do something, and needing the support.
It wasn't real. It couldn't be real. But as the executioner stood before the pair, lifted his sword above his head, reality sunk in, and I knew I could no longer deny it; the two people I loved with all my being were about to die.
"Jasper," I cried louder this time, and he turned me around and buried my head into his chest, but I could feel his head above mine, and knew that he was not taking his eyes off the dreaded scene before us.
I wrapped my arms around him and held him as tight as I possibly could, wishing with all my might that this was only a bad dream.
I felt Jasper tense around me, and I knew, it was only moments before the end.
"Wait here," I commanded and then took off to find my father. Once Jasper had told me it was Alice's brother on that platform, there was a new urgency inside me to stop this execution.
She obviously loved the queen, and I wanted to prevent her from receiving any pain I could, but to lose her brother as well, to lose them both in one day, I'd give anything to spare her that torment.
I ran through the crowds, towards where the councilmen were watching. I wondered why it wasn't my father standing before the platform at that moment, directing the scene. He was after all, the head of the council. It should have been him trying to bring order out of chaos.
Because of this I wasn't sure if he was even here, but I doubted that my father would be one to miss such an important event that would forever live on in history; the event that would probably propel my father to the throne. So I wasn't surprised when I found him among the council, though I did find it strange he was sort of shadowed in the back, hidden almost.
"Father!" I cried, not taking any more time to think about it. "Father!"
I saw him turn his attention towards me, and didn't fail to miss the glare he shot my way.
"Father you have to stop this!" I pled, anger tinting my voice.
He didn't make an effort to come out and meet me, but I could read the agitation and anxiety all over his face.
"Please!" I begged, and tried to push through the council, but there were guards stopping me, so I shouted louder, attempting to make my voice stretch out over the screams of the mob, and reach my father's stubborn ears.
I turned to check the status of the people on the platform, and to my horror found that the executioner was already standing over the two kneeling before him, his swords raised high in the air, ready to make its' strike, and I turned back to my father, knowing it was too late, and saw the obvious, and terrifyingly sadistic smile on his face.
Choice. The very thing I'd been robbed of all my life. Choice. I didn't choose to be a princess. I didn't choose to come to Weidinhun. I didn't choose to get shipwrecked by a storm that would carry me to a little farm I would love, and be ripped away from.
I didn't choose any of that, but if I hadn't been a princess, and if I hadn't come to Weidinhun, and if I hadn't been shipwrecked and carried to the little Cullen farm, I would never have met Edward.
I didn't chose how I would die, though I suppose most people don't, but as much as I hated that he was here, his life about to end with mine, I felt selfishly grateful that he was next to me; that of all the people who could have been at my side, it was him.
Edward always had a choice, and in this final moment, he chose to be with me. Could anyone ask for more?
I pulled myself closely to him, my body trembling from both our kiss, and the fact that at any moment, a sword would come crashing down on our lives.
I focused on the feel of his warm breath against my face, the beat of his heart against his chest, the strength of his arms wrapped around me. And though my body trembled, and though I knew the blade was coming, I felt safe and encompassed in his love for me.
I closed my eyes, not daring to see the executioner lift up his sword into the air, and take one last breath just before he would bring it down.
A/N: Who's the meanest author ever? Certainly not me. ;) Well, just in case you weren't sure, the story isn't over. Hold tight.
And have an Epic Day.
P.S: If you haven't already, check out my one shot, "If He Didn't Exist." It's pretty intense, dramatic and romantic. Total Capella style. ; )