My Bella. My sweet, sweet Bella. Her freesia scent clung to the breeze surrounding us on the patio, as I held her to me and kissed her thoroughly. As she always did, Bella held on past my endurance. I broke away from her, pulling away. I held her hands and gave her my usual look of warning. She smiled as she looked at me. I reached up and brushed her hair back from her shoulder, tucking it behind her ear. Then I heard three different oaths, from three separate directions.
From the driveway, Jacob said "'Bout time!"
From the doorway I heard Esme, "Beautiful."
And from inside I heard Carlisle, "Thank God!"
I was shocked to find we had an audience. I looked first at Jacob, my annoyance displayed plainly on my face. Then I turned back to Esme who seemed delighted, smiling at me. As she stood there, the door opened wider behind her, and Carlisle stepped out, clutching some document in his hands.
"May I ask why we're being watched?" I looked at my Father, knowing he would be the most honest.
He smiled, holding his free hand in a placating gesture towards me and turned to Jacob. "Thank you Jacob. We truly owe you so very much. I don't know how to repay you." I turned to look at Jacob and saw he wore a very arrogant smile, as though he had some secret he was keeping from me.
He shrugged, "Hmph!" he made a dismissive hand gesture, and continued "Everything's back to normal, right? All annoying and happily ever after?"
Carlisle nodded, and to my shock, Seth Clearwater stepped out of our front door at that moment. He looked at me, smiling sheepishly as he dropped down the steps, walked over to Jacob who he exchanged a brief and knowing glance with, then the two of them looked back at us, and then headed for Jacob's car.
Jacob called out just before he climbed inside the old Rabbit, "See you around Bells."
After Jacob and Seth drove away, Carlisle walked up with the oddest thing I have ever seen in all my many years. He held out a photo. I took it from him, and asked "What's this?"
He inhaled deeply and said, "I think perhaps you ought to look at it."
I did as he asked, and Bella leaned over my arm to look as well.
It was outside, on the steps we were standing by. Emmett sat on the top step, one foot on the bottom step, the other on the 2nd. Rosalie sat in his lap, her arms around his neck. Emmett wore his generally mischievous smirk. Standing to their left was Jasper, his arms wrapped lovingly around Bella's waist, who stood to his left, with her head inclined into his neck. She had her right hand on Jasper's clasped hands at her waist, her left was curled in a caress around his face. Jasper was kissing the top of her head and the look in his eyes made me instantly furious. He was looking at MY Bella that way, then I heard Bella gasp on my right. She pointed at me, I hadn't made it to the image of myself yet. I stood on the bottom step, my right arm curled around Alice's legs, and my left behind her back. Alice's arms were wrapped over my shoulders and across my chest. She was leaning a little further over my right side, her head bent forward kissing me….and I was kissing her back. It was NOT a sisterly kiss. My eyes were wide with shock, I turned to Bella and saw a mirror of my own face.
I looked back at Carlisle, for once overwhelmed beyond being able to speak coherently. I held the photo before me, imploring him to explain. Carlisle exhaled, loudly, "I believe we have much to speak about Edward. I think we should go inside and get Jasper and Alice first. I don't know if anything with them may have changed." Carlisle turned around as though to walk in the door, but stopped suddenly. He turned around to look at me, frowning in concentration. I heard him thinking – it was coming through abnormally loud, and I clasped both sides of my head in reaction. "Carlisle, please?" I begged.
Carlisle cleared his throat, embarrassedly, "Sorry Edward, it was necessary to test you. You see, for the last five weeks, you haven't been able to hear my thoughts, nor anyone else's. Alice also lost her abilities in similar fashion."
I was certain I looked as plainly astonished as I felt. Bella and I again exchanged a look of complete confusion. We spoke at the same time, "Five weeks?"
Carlisle frowned at the porch for a moment, the lifted his head again and asked, "Edward, how many weeks do you have before the wedding?"
Bella answered for me, "Seven, why?"
Carlisle looked as though he needed a rest, which was completely unheard of. "I'm very sorry to inform you that it is two weeks until the wedding. You have not been yourselves for five weeks now. In fact, you and Jasper have been living in opposite lifestyles. Jasper and Bella have displayed every mark of deep affection and love that the two of you ordinarily do. And Edward, you and Alice have been living as husband and wife for the duration of that time." I stumbled back away from them. I gaped and fought to come up with something to say. When I looked at Bella, her face was so pained, I forgot myself utterly, and reached out for her, I drew her into a tight embrace. "Please don't be concerned, I'm sure there's some misunderstanding."
Carlisle continued, seeming to want to get the worst out of the way immediately "There's been a very great misunderstanding, but I'm afraid that it's still true. I think you'll find Esme concurs with this information."
At that moment, Jasper came into the living room. He saw my arms around Bella and his face twisted into a snarl. Bella gasped, and I pushed her behind me. Jasper crouched and was wild looking. The emotions he was sending off himself were full of pain, and outrage. Could it be? Was it true that we had been living separately? It was the only way I could explain Jasper's behavior. Carlisle stepped before Jasper. He asked Jasper to go into his study. Jasper raised himself again, but he remained visibly on alert.
Alice came down and had a similar reaction, but nowhere nearly so extreme as Jasper's had been. Carlisle sent her into his study as well. He turned to us. "Edward, Bella, please. Go into our room and sit with Esme. I'll do my best to sort things out between Jasper and Alice. It may take some time, but I will join you as soon as I'm able.
*~ * ~ *
On the evening before the wedding, Bella and I were lying on our bed, in our room. Together again. After exhaustive family conversations we'd never yet come up with any explanation for what had happened.
I couldn't remember anything, and wouldn't have believed it if Carlisle hadn't so strenuously defended the photograph. Esme bore witness to the truth of everything Carlisle told us, and apologized again and again for not knowing what to do. Neither Bella or I was talking, each of us thinking over the mystery of the weeks we lost, I imagined.
I heard Jasper outside our door. "Come in, Jasper." Bella looked questioningly at me. I shrugged slightly, it was apparent that he wanted to talk. I could hear it in his thoughts.
"I have something to tell you, I don't know if it explains what happened, I'm not sure anything can. Still I felt I should let you know."
I already knew what he was going to say from his thoughts, and though I felt it was preposterous, I let him explain it to Bella.
"Bella," he began, "The night you found out Edward had sent Jacob an invitation to the wedding, you two fought. Do you remember?
Bella nodded, I could tell she was hopeful he might have some information to make it all make sense. I didn't see how that could be possible. Still, I could tell it made her feel better to be talking about it.
"Edward explained that he would have wanted the opportunity to decide for himself, and you were upset because he went behind your back." Bella nodded, I frowned, remembering how angry I had been with myself
for disregarding her feelings. "The emotions coming off of you that night were horrendous. You were very angry with him, and he was angry at himself, I felt protective, and sad for my brother."
Bella looked at me guiltily, "I thought you were angry with me. I'm sorry." I only shook my head in answer, hoping she'd understand I didn't want her to worry about it, as Jasper continued, "I sat in my room and wished that I could do something to alleviate your stress, make you happier. I wished briefly," Jasper looked down for a moment before going on, "that I was your Edward, because you shouldn't feel so anxious all the time."
Bella blushed when he said this, but I could tell she was touched by it as well. She smiled at Jasper and stammered, "Thank you."
Jasper grinned, "You're welcome. I just wondered if maybe that might have been what caused the change?"
Bella shook her head negatively, looking down in her lap, and Jasper sighed, beginning to stand up. Suddenly Bella gasped and sat up straighter. "Oh Jasper, wait a minute." She looked at me, "I'm sorry Edward, but he's right. I remember, I went downstairs after we fought, and Alice and Jasper were in front of the TV, talking quietly." She looked at Jasper again, "I always look away from you two when you're talking privately, because it always seems too," her cheeks colored beautifully, "intimate." She was quiet for a moment, embarrassed by her own boldness. "I didn't that night though, I watched the two of you, and I thought it would be nice to be calmed for a change. Instead of feeling anxious I thought it would be nice to be Alice, and have Jasper always there to calm me."
Suddenly I heard Carlisle, I'm coming up, it seems like a stretch, but they could have the answer.
Bella and Jasper were looking at each other, and both seemed very uncomfortable. I didn't agree with the idea that this was the answer, but I couldn't deny that Bella deserved to be content, instead of always anxious.
We spoke over everything, and though we decided that we didn't understand how or why, it was agreed that their subconscious wishes must have been the answer.
Just before the wedding, Jacob found me. He asked me if we'd figured out what might have happened, so I told him our incredibly unsound theory. Surprisingly, Jacob seemed more willing to accept it than I was.
When I'd finished telling him, Jacob laughed. It was a short bitter laugh, then he said; "That makes sense. I mean - she's Bella. Bella always gets her wishes."
** A/N: I know this was a short fic, but I hope you've enjoyed reading it. It was great fun to write from different perspectives. I love trying my best to get the characters voices to sound authentic. Please review and let me know what you think of it all. I live for the reviews of all my readers. Thank you to each and every one of you. Happy Holidays to all!!! **