A/N: Working on the next chapter of Changing Directions, but posting this clichéd Bella's-about-to-get-married thing anyways (and you know I can't help including Rosalie).
Strangely enough, Rosalie is the first.
"Are you scared?" she asks, and even through the sneer Bella can tell she's hoping.
Rosalie tilts her head and she is just as beautiful. Bella knows that Alice's visions falter every day, and that her future is constantly disappearing despite the ring on her finger.
"Are you gonna go through with it?"
She looks away when she answers. Rosalie won't judge her, but she can't promise the same for herself.
"I don't know."
It takes two weeks for it to come crashing down.
And it isn't Charlie's badgering, or Renee's careful cries of mistake – it's Billy and his phone calls, the ones that never last without that self-deprecating, disgusted voice slipping in.
"Do you know where he is?"
She asks it every time (every day), even though she knows the answer's not going to change.
She can hear it between the silences of the line – and it's all your fault.
"Will he come back?"
"I don't know." But he'll never be the same.
Her heart is numb, but she keeps on dialing the numbers.
Bella tries not to let Edward see. It's one of the many times that she's grateful he can't read her mind.
At night, she holds on close to him and wishes for warmth when she shivers – the nights are getting colder and even between the blankets, there's only so much her fiancé can do.
Her nightmares get worse and her dreams get better. She can't be sure of what name she calls anymore, but one day Edward isn't there when she wakes up.
She can't find it in herself to be completely sorry.
It takes three more weeks of heady fantasies, of waking up sweating and crying and alone, to realize that she never really was.
Jasper can tell, of course. She should know better than to think it would go unnoticed – even disregarding Alice's visions, it's hard to hide such uncertainty when you're soon-to-be in-law knows everything you're feeling.
Edward is out hunting when he asks. She no longer needs a babysitter, of course, but he still feels better knowing that she's not alone (she doesn't need to hear it to know what he's afraid of).
"You don't have to do it, you know," he tells her.
It's easier this time, to say the words, than all the times she's practiced in the mirror.
"I do, though." It's too late.
"Bella, you can do whatever you want."
She swallows and stares at her hands. She's cold, but she's been trying to get used to it. Soon, she won't be able to notice.
"I never had a choice. We all know that, don't we?"
It's her wedding day and the white dress seems like the biggest oxymoron in the world.
A part of her spends the whole day chanting, wishing, but there is one guest that she knows will never show up.
The bells are ringing now, and Charlie walks her down the aisle with a whispered "I love you, Bells" and her throat catches when she comes to the end.
Bella's never been very good at lying, but for some reason the biggest lie is easier than the truth.
"I love you."
It's not that she doesn't, because she does. It's just that she was wrong about how much, and when, and why. She was wrong about who and how everything was going to work out in the end.
She's lying because she never got to say it when it really mattered.
And now he's gone.
He asks her every day, when she's looking out the window, still, after all these years.
"Do you love me?"
"Yes." And I always have.
"Do you want this?"
"Yes." And I wish I didn't.
"Are you happy?"
"No." And there's nothing I can do.
In her daydreams, she can cry.
Real tears that burn her skin in the most wonderful way – tears that fill her eyes and her heart and everyone around her. Tears that mean life.
She's encased in russet arms and too-hot words and her muscles hurt from morning runs. She has a cut on her left palm from chopping celery the night before, and she's starting to get hungry again.
She's in love with her best friend, and they can be together.
And suddenly, she's okay.