A/N: Well, this is my first new story in a while, but I'm getting back into the swing of things :D This is heavily based on one of my favorite movies, The Illusionist. I absolutely love the movie and I highly recommend watching it if you haven't seen it (if you have, watch it again, haha). The tricks are from the movie, as well as some of the dialogue, but I've twisted a few things around. I'd also like to mention that this is my first Twilight fic, so please be gentle :)
And without further ado…
Movie Crossover Contest
Name of story: Come What May
Movie or TV Show: The Illusionist
Main Character Pairing: E/B
POV: Edward (Third Person)
To read the rest of the entries go to the Steamy Movie Crossover Contest C2.
If you want to see the rules for this contest go to TheThreeSmutketeers profile page.
ObessingoverEdward, Jayeliwood, or TheSpoiltOne-amanda2505 profile pages.
If you have any questions about the contest, contact them.
Contest ends February 5, 2009
If you'd like to see the other entries in this contest, check out the C2.
Thick, black smoke bellowed from the steamer and a shrill wail cut through the polluted air, signaling the looming departure.
Edward adjusted his clever disguise, climbed the short flight of stairs on the train, and smiled to himself as he made his way to a vacant compartment.
The triumphant look of jubilation never left his face as he took a seat and stowed his luggage beneath it. He gazed out the window, watched people wave goodbye to their friends and family, and he thought of everything he was leaving behind: his home, most of his possessions, his contentious career, his life, everything.
Be that as it may, he would miss none of it – all of the sacrifices were worth it because they were made for her.
Her beautiful face haunted him; it felt like ages since he last caressed her silky-smooth skin, kissed her rose-red lips. He pictured how radiant and uninhibited she would look, what she would say and do when they were reunited at last.
Having free reign to kiss his beloved, to make love to her in their home on their bed or in a meadow beneath a blanket of stars…
Yes, spending the rest of his life with her was so, so worth any sacrifice made.
Slowly, the train began rolling out of the station, gradually picking up steam to begin the long journey. The greater the distance between him and his old country, the more comforted Edward felt.
Their plan was sound. If anyone (the prying Chief Inspector came to mind) were to catch on, it would be too late to take action. By then, they would be out of sight and well out of the Crown Prince's reach.
Free of identity, free to live as they so desired. No one would tear them apart again.
Exhausted, Edward closed his eyes and leaned against the window, his mind centered on Bella and how so many things had changed in just three weeks, right before his final act…
Three Weeks Prior…
"Five minutes," the restless stagehand alerted, then quietly ebbed into the shadows.
Edward – or Eisenheim, as he had been entitled for several years now – made final adjustments to his trim suit with the help of his final prop for the evening, a majestic full-length mirror, and patiently waited for the cue.
Clusters of people filed back in as the intermission came to an end. The auditorium was awfully noisy, but when the lights began to dim, the commotion would once again lighten into hushed murmurs and lastly, silence.
Each night, almost all of the seats were filled with a new, spirited audience. This show was no exception. They gossiped amongst themselves, their merged voices mimicking a substantial swarm of bees trapped in a single hive.
Amused, he listened to their buzzing from behind the closed velvet curtain. A small crooked and sarcastic smile threatened to break out; spectator conversations never ceased to be comical.
Predictably, most of the useless drivel was about him, but that was nothing new. To say that Edward was accustomed to receiving attention was quite the understatement.
Humble and quiet, he was extremely attractive and his skills surpassed those of some veteran magicians. Partially due to his talents, numerous women – young and old alike – had made ungainly (and unsuccessful) sexual advances, but his ethereal good looks certainly didn't dissuade them either.
Women fawned over his bronze hair and chiseled jaw and emotive green eyes, admired the strength and composure his tall stature exuded on stage, and regularly doted on his smooth, spellbinding tenor.
They worshipped and cajoled him as if he was some sort of deity, but Edward was no fool. Their eyes were clouded with lust for both his flesh and his pocket, a far cry from being heartfelt.
Being on the receiving end of that kind of attention was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, their interest led to excellent receipts and gratifying reviews. On the other, not only did the obnoxious flirting and unbearable flattery grow annoying and to some extent demoralizing, but it also made for a very isolated existence.
For all the wealth he had accumulated from his various acts, Edward was not happy, merely content. Money could buy him many things, could take him to scores of places, but it could not make him whole.
Perhaps, though, the worst part was that he knew exactly what was missing.
Or rather, who.
Years had come and gone and yet his heart still clung to the unattainable, a vision of a girl whom he was certain he would never come across again.
Preoccupied, he barely heard the crowd's polite ovation. Needing utmost concentration, he shook his head absently, trying to bring his mind back to focus, and inched closer to the curtain.
On the opposite side, two middle-aged gentlemen in close range to the rostrum evaluated and discussed his technique (as usual, all of their theories were wrong), while a group of ladies giggled and gushed about his alleged attractiveness and charm.
Then their conversations took a new route, inspired by a new fixation, and he was exceedingly grateful that not all of the chatter was centered squarely on him for the evening.
Akin to an epidemic, word had spread across several European countries of Herr Eisenheim's extraordinary talents. Just that morning, the Chief Inspector and his men made a routine assessment of the theater and his props. Naturally, the Chief also paid a visit to sate his own curiosity – even going so far as to try and lure his magical secrets from him –, but he also brought word of important company; the Crown Prince James would attend the late afternoon show.
A lesser man would have been worried about displeasing the royals; they were easily bored and if something did not meet their approval, it was frequently and rapidly dismissed. Someone with less experience would've dwindled under the pressure and lapsed.
But Edward, an accomplished professional at the age of 30, remained calm and poised. The art of spawning illusions was a very serious business, requiring intense concentration and years of practice, both of which he had in his favor.
Once more, the curtains were drawn and tied back for the final segment. He performed a few basic techniques that were effortless to him, as natural as breathing, yet instigated an appreciative round of applause and a chorus of 'ohs' and 'ahs' from the crowd.
Amateur stunts aside, it was time for main and final performance.
Hands in tucked in the pockets of his trousers, Edward casually roamed about the stage, glancing up at the Crown Prince's box balcony seat before looking back down at his feet.
"I thought we might end this evening with a discussion of the soul," he announced, bowing his head as he crossed the front stretch of the stage. "For thousands of years, all of the greatest religions have told of the soul's continued existence beyond the end of life. So what does it mean…" he paused for emphasis, appraising the engrossed multitude, "to die?"
When no one answered (he hadn't expected them to), he continued. "I need a volunteer from the audience. Someone not afraid of death," Edward enthused, retracing his previous path. No one seemed to be in a hurry to assist.
"Please, someone?" he encouraged, assuaging his voice. "I assure you, no harm will befall you."
He stopped as he noticed movement in the Prince's box…only to see the Prince himself rising to his feet. Beside him, another man rose, but the Prince obstructed him with a quick, but stanch gesture of his right hand. The man immediately returned to his seat, shooting his highness guarded glimpses.
Intrigued, Edward folded his arms behind his back and watched the exchange transpire. Surely the Prince would not volunteer himself? The crowd was in a low frenzy, no doubt asking the same question. Then again, it did not come as a surprise that he would accept the challenge, if only to demonstrate his valor.
But what was even more perplexing was when the Prince turned to his left and extended his hand, this time in invitation to the woman seated next to him…except it wasn't as much of an invitation as it was an order.
Edward could not see her face, but watched as she looked from the Crown Prince's stoic appearance to his hand incredulously. From what he could tell, she appeared taken aback by the suggestion.
Then, in a mark of defiance, she squared her shoulders, tilted back her chin, and boldly rose from her chair. The impassive Prince placed a kiss on her hand and let her pass before taking his seat.
For some reason, this bothered Edward. What if she hadn't wanted to participate? What if, deep down and masked by her dignified strut, she was afraid? He most definitely would not harm her, but still…
His manager stood as the bottom of the stage and he shot him a look of disbelief, which the man returned, and then turned back to see his forthcoming assistant descend the stairs. Two of Edward's aides rolled the pristine mirror across and to the center of the stage, right next to him.
Every head turned to observe and admire the brunette beauty as she came ever closer, assiduously followed by a member of the Imperial Majesty's guard. She softly smiled at the people as she passed and unknowingly earned more appreciative looks from the men and glowers from the envious women.
Josef took her hand, helped her up the stage stairs, and his greeting very nearly squeezed the oxygen right out of Edward's lungs.
"It is an honor, Lady Swan."
No…no, it couldn't be. It just couldn't be…
Wide, astonished green eyes met inquisitive brown. Edward was frozen to his spot as she came closer, closing a tiny proportion of the gap between them.
And in that instant, he knew it was true.
Various sets and shades of brown eyes had batted and blinked in his company, but only one set could draw him in and take his breath away.
And the closer she got, the stronger her scent became – succulent strawberries and mouth-watering freesia. If her eyes weren't revealing enough, her natural perfume confirmed her identity.
Isabella. Sweet, exquisite Isabella.
Fifteen-year-old memories flooded his mind, taking him back to a place he'd tried to forget, but never could…an age before he devised complex tricks for a living, before he toured the continents and countries, before he became the renowned Eisenheim, the illusionist.
The days and evenings he spent with her while his father toiled away in his workshop were forever burned into his senses.
Loud, carefree laughter escaping her mouth, her head thrown back in amusement over a funny, fabricated tale he'd whispered in her ear…her ever-clumsy feet tripping on them hem of her gown, too long for her short legs, and his arms wrapping around her waist to catch her before she could hit the hard floor or cold cobblestones…looks of awe and veneration as she watched him perform a problematical card trick…
So long ago when he'd been the underprivileged, gangly son of a cabinetmaker with grand dreams, honing his talents with Bella by his side. She had been honest in both her acclaim and criticism, always. She pushed him to continue his dream even though there was a good chance it would fall through. She supported him and in turn, he loved her, everything about her. Right down to the very end…
Edward closed his eyes in pain for a minute, momentarily losing himself in his thoughts. When he finally opened them, she stood but an arm's length away on the stage.
A shiver shook his spine when he saw how time had both softened and refined her features. Truly, his childhood love had blossomed into a striking, mature, and graceful (where appearances were concerned, at least) young woman.
Her sleek brown hair, long and wavy with soft curls in her adolescent years, was elegantly pulled back to complement her naturally beautiful face. Her skin was still the flawless porcelain he admired as a lad, and it was difficult for him to refrain from stroking her glowing cheek.
And oh, how her body had changed and developed, ripened like the most luscious fruit. Her ornate blouse concealed (and at the same time, accentuated) her full breasts and thin waist while her skirt framed the alluring flare of her hips.
A member of the audience coughed and it resonated, breaking the silence and snapping Edward out of a mystified haze. He swiftly averted his eyes, ashamed of his distending lust and the impure fantasies that refused to fade away.
A monster – that's what he was; an abysmal brute for harboring those thoughts of her. Isabella was an innocent, a noblewoman, and she deserved to be treated as such.
Adding to his shame, images of the regal Crown Prince taking her hand flashed through his head, solid proof that she wasn't his to covet. Edward's late mother, Elizabeth, would've admonished him for coveting.
As she met his gaze, there was a rousing curiosity in her lovely brown eyes. Did she remember him? Could she see the old resemblance, see the boy behind the man, or had time and space erased every single one of her memories of him? It was plausible, but it still hurt tremendously to think of it.
In a faint hope that she would reminisce, he wanted to reveal his true identity – the audience and all consequence be damned. He wanted to gather her in his arms and kiss her like he'd dreamt of doing for years; he wanted to pull her aside and ask her why, why, why had she left him, why did she allow the guards to pull her out of his grasp.
But Edward did none of those things – no matter how much he longed to – and instead, inquired of her the one question he'd asked all of his former assistants, simultaneously eager and fearful to hear her answer.
"Do you know me?"
She cocked her head to the side, searched his face for a trace of familiarity, and replied with a definite, "No." His stomach dropped, but he held her gaze, praying that something would click.
One final time, he asked, "You're fairly certain that we have never met before?"
"Yes, of course," she assured, completely unwavering.
Edward quickly composed himself as to prevent the crowd – and Bella – from seeing him falter. He nodded and took a step back, motioning for one of his aides. Clutching a red velvet cloak, the man ambled over to her, slipped her arms through the sleeves, and draped the material around her shoulders. Silently, Edward summoned her to come forward and she willingly complied.
"Now please gaze directly into my eyes," he directed loud enough for the entire audience to hear.
Edward's emerald eyes smoldered as they penetrated hers and his voice dropped an octave, a guttural tone he made sure only she would hear.
"Look nowhere else."
She did not nod, nor did she verbally consent, she just did as she was told and locked her eyes with his.
This time, he felt a different sort of power. Before, it had been a cross between lust and recollection and longing, but this…this was new. All aspects were attuned to her every move; the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional pull he felt towards her was now undeniable, inescapable.
He took a long, deep, ragged breath and held his left hand up to her face so that all five fingers were hovering without touching. Being so close, he could feel each permeating release and absorbing intake of air as it passed through her.
Steadily, Edward lowered his hand. His fingers barely made it past her nose and her eyes had fallen shut without a word on his part. Carefully, he took her by the shoulders and turned her to face the massive mirror.
Bella's eyes flashed open just in time to see him pull the bulky hood over her head, casting most of her face in shadow. Edward's hands came down to her shoulders in a brief graze before he walked to her right side, putting a precise amount of space between them.
"Wave to yourself," he instructed. Her sleeve slid down her arm as she lifted her hand in a single motion, watching her reflection do the same. Audience members were on the edge of their seats, attempting to get a good look, holding their breaths in anticipation.
"Turn in a circle."
Unhurriedly, she did a full rotation, mindful of her steps. Her movements were cautious and slow as if she were under a spell.
Once she was back to her original position, he gave the final command. "Now bow to yourself." Just like the other times, Bella followed his lead.
This time, however, her reflection did not.
Instead of bowing, her mirror image stood straight and crossed her arms in a stubborn fashion. Bella rose from her previous stance, quite shocked to see the disparity.
Behind her the crowd guffawed, but their laughter rapidly turned into bewildered gasps as a second cloaked figure appeared in the mirror…wielding a lengthy sword.
Staggered and visibly alarmed, Bella swiftly glanced over her shoulder. She expected to see the figure there as well, yet there was no one and nothing save the beguiled mass behind her.
In one sharp movement, the mysterious figure raised the sword and propelled it forward.
Petrified gasps and shrieks spread throughout the room as the girl in the mirror collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Equally aghast by the sight, the police almost rushed the stage to investigate, but stopped when they saw Edward's hand elevate toward the 'deceased' body in the mirror.
The show was not over, not yet.
Smoke-like wisps swirled up and out of the corpse and created a misshapen sphere. As if conducted by Edward's hand, the vapor abandoned it's former home in the mirror world and readily crossed over to the physical.
Pale as a ghost, Bella took a large step back as the misty orb advanced on her. Just as it was about to make contact, Edward coolly proclaimed, "Away," and it drifted above her head, floating upward.
Bella 's eyes followed it to the ceiling. In the process, she lost her balance and tipped backward, but Edward caught her before she could hit the floor and helped her stand upright.
Nostalgia hit him full force yet again as he gripped her by the waist, staring into her eyes as her hood fell back and she regained her balance. Her skin was flushed and her eyes, which had never left his while he lifted her up, were glazed over.
Against his will, he let out a shaky gulp of air and released her.
Wordlessly, he asked if she was all right and she nodded, the dazed look still in her eyes. His fingers went to the clasp on her cloak where he unfastened and removed it, draped it over his arm, and signaled the crowd to give her a hand as she frantically exited the stage.
Raucous applause drowned out the sound of her footsteps. A few were on their feet, clapping wildly, whistling for emphasis.
Edward could not have cared less as Bella walked away and never once looked back.
Afterward, once the guests had been thoroughly entertained and the theater had emptied, Edward was summoned to join the royals for proper introductions and drinks.
The young Prince was the first to approach, dishing out numerous compliments – all of which were meaningless.
There was glint in the man's cold blue eyes that didn't set well with him, and he knew better than to confuse the guise with genuine praise. Edward had heard many horrible things about the Prince's reputation, especially his fatal history with women.
"I would ask how you accomplished such an marvelous trick, but I'm afraid it would ruin the effect," the Prince grinned widely. "I assume you would not disclose your secret, anyhow."
"That would be correct, your highness," Edward smiled in return, but it did not reach his eyes.
He did his best not to glance to his left where Bella stood, but it proved to be easier said than done.
"May I make a few assumptions?" At this, Edward nodded and the Prince proceeded, seemingly incredibly smug. "Your assistants. We saw them; they carted out the mirror. They must have been behind the mirrors somewhere, in robes obviously; lights in the frame perhaps to illuminate them, or angled mirrors. "
Shrugging, he calmly answered, "That would be one way to do it, I suppose."
"It would, indeed," the Crown Prince affirmed. "And it would explain the rest, apart from the ghost. Again, it was a marvelous trick. Well done."
Josef grinned, already feeling the money weighing down his pockets, and stepped forward. "Perhaps a second viewing would assist you in your evaluation?"
The Prince looked at his men and nodded. "You must come to the Hoffburg next time. We'll make an evening of it."
Out of the corner of his eye, he observed Bella as she spoke to a group of women, but he caught her eyes darting to him every now and again.
"It would be my pleasure," Edward agreed, inwardly smirking.
"It is settled, then. I advise you to come prepared. Next time, I will assemble a better team. They will be expecting a clever performance."
"I will see to it that they are not disappointed and plan something special," he said, half-kidding, and began to back away. "Perhaps I'll make you disappear."
That night, long after the darkness had swallowed the sunset whole, Edward walked the wooden floor of his home until a distinct path was worn and his shoes were scuffed.
From time to time, he sat down at his grand piano. A new melody had been in his head for a while, but it never came together at once. There were times when notes sporadically hit him in a specific order, and then other times, he would just sit down and experiment.
But this night was proving to be fruitless – in more ways than one.
Frustrated, his hands gripped the roots of his hair, then his sheets as he sat down on the edge of his bed. Raging sorrow had made him weary, but he was too tormented to find sleep.
Why had he let her slip away yet again?
'Coward,' his inner voice scolded him.
But what else could he have done? Clearly, she was tied to the Prince. Everywhere he went, every social event he attended, she was forced to follow.
The sound of galloping horse hooves jostled him from his anguished state. Guardedly, Edward rose from the bed and rushed to the window. Very few people knew where he lived, and the guests who did were few and far between since his home was remote; who would visit him this late at night?
The rider came to a tottering stop, dismounted the horse, and looped the reigns around a sturdy fence post. The cloaked stranger turned and ran for his cottage. His eyes strained for a glimpse beneath the hood, but the face was strategically veiled by cloth and shadow.
He wrenched the door open, prepared for a confrontation, but was stopped in his tracks as the dark woolen hood fell back.
He didn't know how she found him, nor did he care. She was there, and that was all that mattered.
"Edward," she breathed, her voice shaky and tears gathering in her eyes. Her tiny hand reached up and traced his strong jaw line. His heart swelled as she smiled at him through her tears and said, "I remember."
That was all it took to break him; he could no longer refute the overwhelming itch to touch her, and so he gave in.
Backing her up to the wall, he gripped her jaw with his left hand, her hip with his right, and pressed his body against hers, panting in her ear, "Do you know how long I've waited for you?"
He didn't wait for her answer, swallowing her forthcoming words with his mouth as their lips made contact.
They could talk later. He could relearn Bella's endearing quirks, memorize the bell-like sound of her voice, ask her every question that came to his mind and she could do the same.
But right now, he needed her in more ways than mere words could express.
Her hands grasped his shirt collar, fumbled with his shirt buttons, and tugged it off as her mouth assaulted his yet again. He barely succeeded in removing her blouse and skirt without ripping them into shreds.
And by God, her taste was beyond belief, crave-worthy. He dove in for more after more like an out of control addict. Her tongue ran along his lower lip and sucked it between hers before she invaded his mouth completely.
Cupping her neck with his hand, he encountered something he didn't remember seeing there before.
"What's this?" he asked, sliding his fingers along the thin gold.
She bit her lip, gazing at him with that same strange emotion in her eyes he'd perceived earlier that day when she moved off the stage.
"See for yourself."
The locket must've been behind her neck, so Edward gathered her hair and searched. The chain was longer than he'd projected and he could feel the slight weight of the object it was suspending. He brought it up and around with the intention of removing it, but what he saw made him gasp.
Nestled between her bare breasts was a necklace, the very same necklace he'd constructed and carved specifically for her. He'd spent two days illustrating its construction on paper, and the three days that followed were spent on assembling his work.
Out of the blue, he gave it to her one afternoon as they stood in a desolate meadow that had become theirs. When he announced that he'd brought her a gift, Bella scolded him, jumping to the conclusion that he'd gone and bought her something.
He just grinned, assured her that he had done no such thing, and pulled the offering out of his pocket to prove it.
No one but Edward saw her joy as he presented the gift to her, fastened it around her neck, and sweetly kissed one of her reddened cheeks.
And no one, no one but him saw her awed expression as she discovered there was more to her present than it's external appearance.
On the surface, the locket was no more than a wooden pendant with an intricate design on the shell. However, once twisted in just the right way, it formed the symmetrical shape of a heart, and the heart would then slide open to reveal an undersized picture within.
A picture of him.
With no money and limited resources, it was the only thing he could give her at the time. To see her wearing it now after all those lost years apart…while she was in his bed… thrashing about in his sheets…
"You kept it," he rasped, dotingly kissed the small dip of her throat and met her eyes once more, completely dumbfounded. "Why? Why did you keep it? So much time has passed, and you're engaged…"
More heat spread through her already flushed body and he dove down for another kiss, this one a vain attempt to quell her embarrassment.
"It was the only part of you I could take with me. I couldn't have you, but I could have this…" she trailed off, running a finger over the adornment on her chest.
It told him all he needed to know: she had longed for him just as he had for her.
Growling, he withdrew and lowered his head to her neck, biting and sucking enough to leave a mark, but neither of them seemed to care.
The primitive need to have her, mark her, claim her in the physical sense was growing by the second. Never had he felt such a rush; not when he performed on stage, not when he composed a new piece…every part of him felt so alive and burned with want for her, more of her, realizing that she was finally here and for once, it was not a dream…
Locked in a dazed stupor, he was pulled back to reality when he felt her ample chest arch against his. He struggled to undo his trousers, having to stand in order to remove them. They, along with his underpants, fell to his ankles and he hastily kicked them off, not liking being separated from her for very long.
Crawling up and over her, he glanced down into her eyes; they were black as night with desire. Her mouth was slightly parted, her hair was fanned out on his pillow – perfection.
"I've wanted you for so long, Isabella, my love. And tonight, you're finally mine," he declared possessively. Instinctively, she wrapped her legs around his waist, but he shook his head. "Not just yet."
His hands reached back and gripped her thighs, pushing her legs apart once more. She rose up a little to see what he was planning, but he gently pushed her back down. His hands trailed from her slackened shoulders to her breast, pulling at her hardened peaks and massaging the malleable skin.
"So soft," he murmured. Open-mouthed kisses covered her stomach, drawing from her the most delightful mewls. Edward watched, fascinated by her reactions. Every time his fingers grazed her, she shivered. His hot breath coasted over the damp skin and violent goose bumps to the surfaced.
"Do you know how many times I've thought of you? Too many to count, my love," he crooned, rubbing her thighs and spreading them for his viewing pleasure. "Tell me, my Bella. Did you dream of this, too?"
She whimpered, but that was nowhere near good enough.
"I had no face to envision as I imagined doing this," he nibbled the skin below her navel, watching as her brow knotted in pleasure. "There was no voice to make these sounds, no fingers to twist my hair as I did this…"
Like a lion gauging its prey, his hungry eyes eagerly roamed over her flushed body, beginning at her feet and drifting upward to the dark curls hiding her sex.
A lone finger slid from her collarbone, down her sternum fingers drifted down to the juncture of her thighs and he felt her, warm and dripping.
Devour her, his ravenous body demanded, but he summoned enough strength to suppress it.
Apprehension had been present in her eyes when she saw all of him for the first time, a telltale sign that she was still pure. Given that she was a woman of high standing, he'd suspected as much, and he knew he would have to be considerate and make it as painless as possible for her.
He began with her ankle, pressing a light, affectionate kiss on the inside. His hands glided up her shapely legs as he crawled over her, leaving not a patch of skin spared.
Without further delay, his head dove between her legs (only being held apart by his broad shoulders) and his tongue plunged into her core.
Warm, wet silk dipped and curled and licked and sucked, tasting and teasing relentlessly; she was wild with lust and he knew it. Bella's short legs clamped as tight as they possibly could around his upper body and he was able to pry them apart fairly easily.
But then his tongue delved between her folds again, harvesting and consuming whatever she would give, and she completely lost control.
Her hips were grinding into his face, seeking the sweet pressure, the delicious friction he refused to give. She shook and whimpered and moaned, gripped her hair and his and tore at the sheets.
No one besides him had ever touched her like this, no one had the privilege of watching her come undone.
"I love you," he whispered, sitting up to look at her properly. He leaned forward to touch his forehead to hers, feeling her tremble. "I loved you back then, and even more so now. I'll always love you, Bella. I'll go as slow as you need me to. It will hurt, and if it becomes too much, let me know," he pleaded, cradling her head in his hands.
"It will, but it's inevitable." She brushed back the hair that had fallen into his eyes. "I love you, and I trust you. Make love to me, Edward."
Breathing heavily, he positioned himself at her entrance and entered her slowly, giving her some time to adjust. When he saw her nod, he slid in further, and with another quick thrust, he broke through her barrier.
Bella's hands immediately grasped at his shoulders and she squeezed her eyes shut, struggling against the ache. Edward bit his lip, restraining himself from any sort of movement as she looked up at him with watery eyes and pursed lips. She was hurting in ways that he couldn't imagine and he refused to do anything to increase her pain, even if it meant denying his own satisfaction.
She was still clutching at his shoulders with a strong grip, but he felt the pressure subside a bit and he looked down. Without a sound, he watched as she tested her body, swirling her hips a little.
Again, Edward's teeth dug into his bottom lip, threatening to break the skin. He kind of wanted them to. If she was in pain, he could afford to feel some as well.
But after a few half-hearted attempts, her tension started to melt. No longer grimacing or squirming from discomfort, her hold went from anxious to desperate, pulling his face down to hers and attacking his lips vigorously.
When he was confident that she was completely ready, his next thrust was deeper, more dynamic. He pushed and pushed some more, groaning loudly as he finally sheathed himself to the hilt.
To be buried inside her – all the way inside, now – was nothing short of heaven.
His world narrowed down to the bed and Bella and her thighs wrapped around him and God, the divine sounds she made.
Every sigh, whimper, moan, or gasp had him gritting his teeth and furrowing his brow in concentration. Sharp nails pierced and raked at his back, begging him to go deeper, harder, faster. They set a rhythm, moving slowly and erotically. His hips slammed against hers, making her cry out.
There were no thoughts spared to the inconsequential, to time, to anything but each other and the rocking and the fullness and tangled limbs.
He'd been through similar motions before, but those were simply for release and distractions on the lonely nights. Nothing more, nothing significant or mind-blowing.
Making love to Bella was, undoubtedly, the single most incredible experience of his life.
Edward rolled onto his side, bringing Bella with him, and their heavy panting and staccato heartbeats coaxed them both to sleep.
Not long after, he awoke to a painful throbbing in his nether regions. Glancing down with blurry eyes, he discovered why: half of Bella's magnificently nude body was spread over his him. Her head was tucked in the bend of his arm, her breasts were pressed against his side, and one of her lean legs was thrown over his. Every now and then, it would shift higher and he could feel her heat directly on his leg.
It was utterly maddening.
He wanted to remain in bed with her, but her leg was moving dangerously close to his prominent arousal and he didn't trust his body to behave.
Gently, so he wouldn't disturb her, he rose from the bed. Lazily wrapping one of the sheets around his hips, he made his way to his piano and thanked the heavens that he'd had enough sense to not store it in his bedroom.
His hands had barely grazed the keys before they were gliding over them fluently, playing a random tune like it was an old, familiar favorite. In the wee morning hours, he finished his latest composition and he smiled crookedly as a fitting title crossed his mind.
So absorbed in his music, he didn't notice Bella as she strolled up to the bench, but jumped when he felt her take a seat next to him.
He faltered slightly, but she gave him an encouraging smile and rubbed his back.
She curled into his side and listened on as he played, covering some of her suggested favorites and sometimes composing his own. Though he was fatigued from their previous…physical activities, he focused on the notes and finished each song with a flourish.
From the corner of his eye, he saw her rest her chin on his shoulder, studying his face like an artist analyzes a masterpiece.
"That was beautiful," she told him with complete sincerity and it was like they were fifteen all over again.
"As it should have been," he nodded, smiling as he turned his head and placed a gentle kiss on her swollen lips. "It was inspired by an even more beautiful woman."
As he envisaged, she immediately blushed a deep red that had quickly become his new favorite color. Still playing, he smirked and followed the hot trail with his eyes until the crumpled sheet obscured it. He was tempted to rip it off her body; he would have, had she not abruptly changed course.
"You left," she whispered, bathing his neck with warmth. He paused, fingers still on the keys, notes withering as seconds ticked by. "Why did you leave?"
"I couldn't stay," he told her, removing his hands from the piano and breaking their eye contact. "To be in the same city as you, knowing I was forbidden to be around you or even talk to you was just too painful. For the sake of my sanity, I had no choice but to go."
"Each time I went to town, I looked for you in the streets, the stores, the markets," she commented, frowning, "But you were gone. You never came back."
Not having a clear-cut response to give, he stammered, "I meant to return... I just... I kept thinking I'd find around the next corner..."
"Yes…" she urged, leaning back to better see his face. He sighed and ran a hand through his already mussed up hair.
"A real mystery. I saw and accomplished some remarkable things, but…"
He stared down at her, wondering why fate was kind enough to reunite them, what he ever did to deserve such a blissful night.
"There was one mystery I was never able to solve: why, no matter what, my heart couldn't let go of you."
He dipped his head, nuzzling and nipping at a hidden spot just below and behind her ear. She shivered, the tiny hairs on the back of her neck and her arms standing at attention. He reveled in the feel of her chest against his, hard versus soft, and he she let out a low moan. Any noise that left her mouth was music to his ears, far better than any sound a regular old instrument could make.
His hands dropped down to her hips, his fingers digging into her skin as he lifted her onto his lap, pushing and gyrating her hips against his.
And that time, he didn't hesitate to rip the sheet clean off of her.
For the second time, they lost themselves to the feeling, prolonging the end for as long as physically possible. Their emotions were too high, the heat was too much, and fifteen years was a lot of time to make up for.
An hour later, they were both drowsy and sated, but still stay awake. He listened as she spoke of her own small adventures and learned of her mothers passing only a year after their separation. He laughed at some of her tales and kissed away the tears she had shed, but there was still one topic left hanging.
"And the Prince?" he queried, brushing damp locks of hair off her cheek and forehead. Though he really didn't care to hear anything revolving around Prince James, Isabella, and their relationship, he was curious about her.
"We were arranged, as most noble marriages are," she divulged as she nuzzled her face into his neck. "Father wanted the best for me, he said. He wanted to know I would be taken good care of long after his passing, and he assumed James, who is next in line for the throne, would be the finest choice."
Edward hummed a response, but he knew better.
If what he'd heard was true, James was anything but a fine choice. Traveling to various cities meant that he also heard about the latest scandals, near and far. The Crown Prince's name was brought up on many occasions, mainly for his despicable handling of his former wives. Some of the townsfolk even accused him of murder, but he was never convicted. Edward wasn't sure how much of it was factual, but he would be damned if he allowed Bella to succumb to the same fate as those other unfortunate women.
"He's not good for you," he warned, breaking out from their adopted habit of whispering. "I know of his reputation and it is not one of good standing."
"I know," she whispered and buried her head in the crook of his neck. "But what else can I do? I am bound to him. I have no other choice."
When he said nothing, she rolled off of him and sat up, clutching the sheet to her chest. "I should go. The sun will rise in a couple of hours and so will James. I dare not think of what he would do if he met me at the stables."
She attempted to climb out of bed, but Edward caught her wrist and held her back. She turned to him, questioning, and she was greeted by the most sober and determined expression she'd ever seen.
"Run away with me."
Laughing bitterly, Bella met his solemn gaze with one of her own. "As wonderful as that sounds, I'm afraid it is not possible. For as long as he drew breath, he would hunt us. And if and when we were found, you would be sentenced to death. I will not risk it, Edward."
With what little time she could allow, she laid back down beside him. He peered down and saw her closed eyes, relaxed but not asleep. Moonlight trickled in the window behind his bed, illuminating her already pale skin like freshly fallen snow. Her wavy hair fanned out on her pillow, framing her face like the perfect portrait.
His hand lifted on its own accord and it traced her shoulder blade with a delicate caress. Unhurriedly, his other slipped through the slender valley of her spine, only stopping when he arrived at the thin sheet covering her from the waist down.
Greedily, his eyes drank in every detail they could unearth.
She was just as pale as she'd always been, almost translucent. When they were open, her eyes were the warmest and deepest hue of brown, slightly lighter than the rich color of her hair. Her figure was slender, yet full of dips and curves that were attributes of feminine splendor. Her face was flawless, her skin was so, so soft to the touch, and her smile made her glow.
Her lips were fuller now, the top one a bit plumper than the bottom. Her legs were shorter than need be for her already petite build. Her hands and knees displayed all of the scars – some vaguely worse than others – she'd collected with age. And if the passion she'd demonstrated in his bedroom was any indication of her usual demeanor, she was still as headstrong and spirited as she'd always been.
Letting her go and not knowing when he could see her again would be painful to bear, but it had to be done. Forlornly, he looked on as she redressed and fixed her hair, aching to feel her warmth in his bed once again. If he had it his way, she would never leave.
She promised him that they would see each other again. Their parting was hurting her as well, he was aware, but she kept a brave face. Too soon, she was out the door and disappearing into the night on her horse. He didn't like her riding by herself at night, but following her would do neither of them any good.
Since she was no longer by his side, he couldn't stay in bed. Already, it felt like days instead of minutes since he had explored and worshipped his love. Her scent combined with his lingered on his pillow, his sheets, and his blanket, doing both marvelous and torturous things to his overly receptive body.
Partially dressed, he sat down at his untidy desk and lit a lone candle. Deep in thought, Edward's eyes darted across the ceiling as if it would produce a perfect solution to their problem.
Bella was right. James would not let her go without a struggle. He was bursting with pride and kept his possessions within arm's length, and there was no doubt that he considered Bella his most prized possession yet.
Even now, he was terrified James would find her wandering about, but he trusted Bella's intelligence. She had been in his presence long enough to know his daily habits. If anyone could tiptoe around him, it was Bella.
Just thinking about that vile creature laying his seedy hands on her made his own ball into tight fists and his stomach roll. If there was just a way…some way they could disappear…
Suddenly, an idea flashed in his head like bright light, illuminating all of the possibilities.
It would be extremely risky, at the very least, and it would take organized help. There was a good chance it would fail, and if it did…well, he couldn't afford to travel down that road. He would need the utmost confidence in his abilities in order to pull it off.
But if he were to succeed…
Yes, he decided. No matter the cost, he would make it work. She might be out of his arms and his reach for the time being, but he would do everything in his power to bring her back to him, to where she was meant to be.
Edward leaned back in hair chair, a blissful smile on his face, and started conspiring for what would be his greatest – and final – performance.
He would make her safe, he would make her happy, and come what may, he would make sure they got their happily ever after.
-- Fin --
A/N: If you want to know more about the back-story and Edward's plan, you'll need to see the movie. I didn't want to give too much away for those of you who haven't seen it. Plus, the details would have exceeded the 8,000-word limit :) Hope you liked it!