Unfortunately I don't own any of the Twilight characters.
Takes place in New Moon between Edward, Bella and Alice getting back from Italy and Bella putting her mortality to a vote. I know the vote happens almost immediately after they get back in the book but here there's some time between the two.
Italics during Edward's PoVs are peoples' thoughts.
Ever the gentleman Edward held open the front door of his house for me and ushered me in. I paused on the threshold, not prepared for the wave of emotions that washed over me.
"Is everything alright? If you can't be here after what happened on your birthday that's fine. We can go somewhere else," he said, resting a hand on my shoulder.
I spun round to look at him. "No it's not that at all. For so long now I've worried that I'd never be able to come here again. Never see you again. Now that I'm back here with you it's just a little overwhelming." I could feel tears welling up but I forced them down. "I'm just being silly."
Edward pulled me into his arms and rested his chin on top of my head and sighed, "I'm so sorry, I-"
"No," I cried pulling away from him so I could look him in the eyes. "I'm not blaming you and I don't want you to blame yourself either. Do you hear me?"
He shot me his wonderful, crooked smile that I had missed so much while he had been gone, his warm, golden eyes making me feel weak at the knees. "Fine. I won't say another word. Now what do you want to do today?"
"Can we just sit and chat?" I wasn't feeling great at all and knew it was probably best if I sat down soon. My head was aching and I felt quite nauseous and exhausted but I knew if I said anything he'd fuss over me like nobody's business and if any of the other Cullen's got wind of it they'd probably be just as bad. Except Emmett, who would of course just find it funny.
Edward settled himself on one of the sofas and I sat down next to him, tucking my feet underneath me and snuggling into his chest.
"Where is everyone?" I asked.
"Emmett and Jasper are out hunting and I think the others are all around somewhere."
I could hear voices shouting and laughing outside, becoming louder as they got closer, and then the front door opened and Jasper and Emmett came in.
When they noticed us Emmett cried in his booming voice, "Bella! Great to see you again." He sat down in a chair just to the right of the sofa we were sat on. "Life just wasn't as interesting when you weren't around," he added with a snicker.
"Thanks, I think. And it's good to see you too."
Jasper still hadn't moved from the doorway when I turned to him. "I think I better go," he muttered.
"Jasper wait. You don't have to go because of me. I'd like you to stay."
He hesitated where he was for a moment and then came towards us. "Are you sure?"
Jasper came and sat down on a chair to our left, still looking a bit uncomfortable. He looked at Edward then at me, his eyes gold and apprehensive.
"About what happened on your birthday," he began. "I'm so sorry. For what happened at the party and for everything that happened afterwards."
"It's fine really. It wasn't your fault. Besides it's in the past now and there's no point dwelling on it, everything worked out fine."
Jasper visibly relaxed in his chair and I felt a wave of calmness fill the room.
"So how was your hunt?" Edward asked them.
Emmett started going into great detail about their hunt with the odd comment by Jasper but my headache was getting worse and I couldn't really concentrate. As I shifted slightly I felt Edward turn to look at me.
"Are you alright today? You seem a bit off."
I shot him what I hoped was a convincing smile and said, "Yeah I'm fine. Just a bit tired."
He didn't look convinced.
"Really I'm fine," I added.
"Is Emmett boring you? Don't worry after a while you learn how to tune him out," said Jasper, smirking at Emmett.
Edward chuckled and I couldn't help the grin that appeared on my face.
"He's right you know," said Edward. "It takes some effort to work out how to do it but once you manage it you'll wonder how you were ever able to cope without it." He was smiling as he said it but his eyes still shone with concern.
Suddenly, faster than my human eyes could comprehend Emmett picked one of the large hardback books from the bookcase by his chair and threw it at Jasper. It went sailing over Jasper's chair and Esme, who had suddenly appeared with Carlisle, caught it deftly in one hand. She arched one eyebrow at the sight of Emmett holding another book that was aimed squarely at Edward and he quickly put it back on the shelf with a sheepish, "Sorry Esme."
Esme looked at the book she was holding, "The Complete Works of Jane Austen", then dropped it in Emmett's lap and sat down with Carlisle on the sofa opposite us.
"Do we want to know why you're throwing the classics around?" asked Carlisle, glancing curiously round at us all.
"Well if you must throw any books around could you at least pick some of Carlisle's medical texts," said Esme, linking her hand into his, her eyes sparkling. "He's got far too many and some of them could do with being destroyed."
"Will do," said Emmett giving Jasper such a wicked grin that I was glad it wasn't directed at me. "And don't you be telling him any of my plans," he said to Edward.
"Would I?" asked Edward overly innocently. "Anyway I won't need to, Alice will tell him everything she sees."
Jasper smiled smugly at Emmett. "It's true. One of the many benefits of married to Alice."
Emmett glared at him.
"Oh Jasper please," cried Edward suddenly, burying his face in my hair. "At least try and control your thoughts when I'm sitting right here."
Esme caught my eye and gave me a look half exasperated, half amused as the boys carried on bickering playfully. "Anyway," she said loudly, halting their conversation. "It's lovely to see you again dear." Carlisle nodded in agreement.
As the conversation flowed around me I leaned back into Edward's cool embrace and turned my face slightly so my cheek was pressed against his cold chest. There was now an incessant pounding behind my eyes and my stomach was churning. I closed my eyes and just tried to focus on their soft, melodic voices and not the way I was feeling.
"Bella are you sure you're feeling ok? You feel warmer than normal," said Edward quietly. Carlisle and Esme stopped talking at that and I could feel their eyes on me, full of concern.
Before I could answer a fresh wave of nausea hit me and I knew I was going to be sick. I jumped up and ran for one of their many bathrooms, ignoring Edward's worried calls. If I threw up all over their perfect, cream carpets I'd never be able to show my face here again. Especially after I bled all over the place last time I was here.
Bella suddenly leapt up from the sofa and up the stairs. Nobody moved for a couple of seconds and then I was up the stairs as quickly as possible, Carlisle and Esme following behind me.
I could hear Bella throwing up but the bathroom door was shut and I couldn't bring myself to just burst in on her when she might prefer some privacy. So instead of pulling the door of its hinges and being at her side in an instant like I wanted, I settled for knocking urgently on the door. "Bella? Bella can I come in?"
There was no response. How could I have not realised she was ill? I felt a hand on my shoulder and Carlisle was at my side.
Calm down, it's probably just a stomach bug.
He knocked on the door and calmly said, "Bella, it's Carlisle. I'm going to come in alright?"
There was a groan from inside which he took as a yes.
Stay back she won't want to be crowded. Make sure the others do the same.
I realised that Esme and Alice were behind us and Emmett and Jasper were standing on the stairs. I had been too worried about Bella to notice them approaching. Carlisle opened the door and went in and I stepped just inside the room and shut the door behind me. Bella was crouched over the toilet. Her face, which had been far too pale lately anyway was almost as pale as mine and covered in a thin sheen of sweat. One arm was wrapped protectively around her stomach and the other was propping herself up against the toilet.
She looked up as we entered. "Hey," she mumbled.
"Hey yourself," replied Carlisle softly, kneeling down beside her. He put a hand to her forehead and frowned. "You've got a bit of a fever Bella. I'm guessing you don't feel too great right now."
"You think?" replied Bella sarcastically, causing me to chuckle. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude. I just feel horrible."
"Don't worry about it. I've had much ruder patients at work, believe me. So how do you feel now?"
"Too hot but shivery at the same time, really nauseous and my head hurts," she finished with a whimper that made me want to take her in my arms but I knew it was best to stay out of the way while Carlisle assessed her.
"It sounds like you've got a stomach bug. Perhaps you'd be more comfortable at home right now, in your own surroundings?" Carlisle suggested.
"No I just need to lie down right now if that's alright."
"Of course. Lets get you to Edward's room," he replied helping her stand up. They had only taken one step towards the door when Bella's legs gave way underneath her. I was at her side in an instant but Carlisle had already caught her before she could hit the floor and picked her up.
"Please put me down," said Bella, a blush giving her face some much-needed colour. "I can still walk, my legs are just a bit funny from kneeling on them."
"It's fine. You're hardly much of a burden, you've not been looking after yourself properly have you?" said Carlisle slightly disapprovingly. I felt a flash of guilt at that which must have shown on my face.
Don't start feeling guilty Carlisle thought sternly.
I gave a tiny shrug as I held open the door for him. "And anyway what would it do to Carlisle's reputation if one of his patients fell over and hurt herself in his own home?" I said lightly, trying to cheer Bella up.
Bella's blush deepened as we stepped out onto the landing and Esme, Emmett and Jasper were all standing there waiting for us, talking quietly together.
"Oh this is so embarrassing," she muttered, burying her face in Carlisle's chest.
"Don't be embarrassed sweetie we just want to make sure you're okay," said Esme.
Alice had disappeared but I hadn't thought anything of it till we entered my room. All the books from on and around my sofa had been moved to the other side of the room. The sofa had been covered with a blanket and Alice was just putting a couple of pillows on one end of it. Carlisle's medical bag was on the floor near the door next to a folded up blanket and a bucket.
"Thanks Alice," said Carlisle as he laid Bella down as gently as he could and she curled up as small as she could, her lips pressed tight in a grimace of pain. I knelt down by her head and started massaging her temple and her grimace smoothed away just a little bit although I didn't know how much of that was down to me and how much was down to Jasper, who was also doing his best to make her feel better. I heard Carlisle approach and knew that he wanted to take Bella's temperature so I moved round to the side of the sofa, my fingers not stopping their circular movements.
"I need to take your temperature Bella," Carlisle said, sitting down next to her on the sofa.
She opened her eyes and nodded so he put the thermometer in her mouth. I kept my eyes on her, waiting for the thermometer to beep and doing my best to ignore my family's thoughts, which were split between concern for Bella and amusement at what they termed my overreacting. After what seemed like an age it beeped.
After taking the thermometer out of her mouth and glancing at it Carlisle said, "It's not dangerously high but I'd prefer it if it was lower. Do you think you could take some painkillers?"
Bella blanched and shook her head. "I won't be able to keep them down. Can I have some water?"
"Sure." Before Carlisle had even taken two steps towards the door Emmett strode in with a glass of water and handed it to her.
"There you go," he said with a grin. Little sis.
My head shot up at that and I realised he was watching me with an amused look on his face.
That's right, she's my little sister as much as Alice is and you better remember that if you ever get it into your head to make us all leave her again.
Well that was a surprise! I knew he liked Bella but I hadn't realised he thought of her as his sister. He just seemed to find her amusing to be around. I suppose Alice's vision of her jumping off the cliff hadn't just made me realise how much I needed her in my life
"Because it's a stomach bug all you can really do is rest, drink plenty of fluids and wait for it to pass I'm afraid," Carlisle told Bella.
"That's fine. I'm sorry for causing so much bother."
"You're no bother at all," said Esme sitting down on the sofa and stroking her cheek.
"And anyway," added Emmett. "This is the best place to fall ill. You've got your own personal doctor right here."
Bella suddenly groaned. "I'm going to be sick again."
Esme sat her up and took the glass from her and I grabbed the bucket Alice had brought in and thrust it into her hands. I vaguely noticed Carlisle ushering Alice, Emmett and Jasper out as Bella threw up violently into the bucket while Esme held her hair out of the way and I rubbed her back feeling totally helpless knowing there was nothing I could do for her.
Eventually, although nowhere near soon enough for my liking, she finished. She slumped against me as Carlisle took the bucket from her and went to empty it. Esme retrieved the glass of water from the floor.
"Have some more water."
"Thanks." Bella took the glass from her, took a few sips from it and handed it back.
Carlisle, who had just come back in with the clean, empty bucket, saw this and said, "You need to drink plenty right now or you might dehydrate."
Bella nodded and slowly took a few more sips. When it was clear that she had had enough Esme took the glass back from it and said, "Why don't you lie back down?"
I stood up so she could and she looked at me uncertainly. "Will you lie with me?" she asked.
"Of course." I lay down next to her and wrapped my arms around her, hoping my cold body would give her some comfort.
"I hate being sick," she moaned as she settled her head on my chest. Her eyes met mine. "If you had changed me already I wouldn't be sick." There was a hint of accusation in her voice but it wasn't as if I wanted her to be sick.
"We're not going to discuss this again," I replied trying to keep my voice light.
Knowing Bella was going to argue I shot a despairing look at Carlisle. I knew he'd agree with me.
"Bella he's right," said Carlisle. "This isn't the time to be discussing that. For now all you need to focus on is resting, everything else can wait until you're well again."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. He was encouraging her! I shot him an irritated glare but he just smirked back.
She's not going to drop it, you know that as well as I do. And the question is would it really be that terrible if she was changed? It's clearly what she wants. Carlisle thought.
I ignored his silent question, annoyed that all my family seemed determined to condemn Bella. Alice hadn't realised I popped back from Bella's last night and she had been thinking about her conversation with Bella on the way to Italy. "Honestly I think it's all gotten beyond ridiculous. I'm debating whether to just change you myself."*
Bella started muttering grumpily, "I'm not going to forget about this Edward. Just wait till I'm better."
"Shh," said Carlisle, laying a hand on her head with a fond smile. "Try and get some sleep."
If there's any problems just let me know and I'll come up.
I nodded slightly.
Esme came forward and pressed a kiss to the top of Bella's head and briefly cupped my cheek and then the two of them left the room. As they headed downstairs I could hear their thoughts revolving around their happiness at having the two of us back safe where we belonged, completing the family.
I absent-mindedly started humming Bella's lullaby to her and was pleased when her eyes drifted shut and her breathing evened out almost immediately. I couldn't take my eyes off her. It was hard to believe that only a few days ago I thought she was dead and now here I was holding her in my arms as she slept like I had done every night for months. I could almost believe nothing had happened, that I hadn't said goodbye to her that fateful day and then completely disappeared from her life. Almost.
Carlisle had been right when he had commented about her not looking after herself. She had always felt fragile in my arms but never as fragile as she felt right now. She was so thin I could imagine her splintering into a thousand pieces at just a touch. And her pale skin and the dark shadows under her eyes were testament to the months of sleepless nights and nightmares she'd put up with. All because of me.
She moved slightly in my arms and a few strands of hair fell over her face. Softly brushing them behind her ear I silently vowed never to cause her pain like that again.
"Bella." I distantly heard Edward calling my name and felt someone shaking my shoulder. "Bella wake up."
I opened my eyes and looked around me groggily. It was dark and for a moment I couldn't work out where I was. And then the pounding in my head resumed and I remembered I was in Edward's bedroom. And I was sick. Great!
I sat up but I obviously did it too quickly because next second I was hit by a wave of dizziness. I clamped my eyes shut and grabbed onto the nearest thing to me, which happened to be Edward, with a small "Oh".
"Bella what is it? Are you alright? Are you going to be sick?" Edward asked worriedly, wrapping an arm around my waist.
"I'm just dizzy. Sat up too quickly. It'll pass," I grunted. After a few moments it did pass. I opened my eyes and saw Edward sitting next to me, concern etched all over his face. Carlisle was standing in the doorway but when he saw me glance at him he moved forward.
"How are you feeling?"
"A bit less nauseous than before, my head still really hurts and I'm still too hot," I replied, dragging a hand through my hair which had become tangled while I slept. "How long have I been asleep?"
"About five hours. It's nearly 7 o'clock," replied Edward.
"Oh no Charlie will be wondering where I've gotten to."
"That's why we thought it was about time to wake you up and get you home before Charlie can start worrying," said Carlisle. "Can I take your temperature again?"
I nodded and let him put the thermometer in my mouth as I leant back into Edward's arms again, still feeling horribly tired. After a minute it beeped and Carlisle took it out.
"It's gone up a little since this afternoon. You said you were feeling a bit less nauseous didn't you? Do you think you could keep some painkillers down now?"
"Yeah I'll try."
Carlisle nodded and pulled a small pot of Tylenol out of his bag. He tipped two out onto his hand and passed them to me with the glass of water.
I swallowed them down, gagging slightly on the second. Carlisle had the bucket in front of me instantly thinking I was about to be sick again but I just pushed it away.
"I'm fine. I always struggle to take tablets." I took another few sips of water and as I did so I noticed a silent exchange between Carlisle and Edward and I guessed it was about me but I felt too grotty to care.
"Are you ready to go home?" asked Edward.
I nodded stifling a yawn.
"Make sure you continue to drink plenty of fluids, especially if you're sick again. If you're awake take some more painkillers in about four hours, they should help lower your fever as well as get rid of your headache. And if you start feeling worse let someone know immediately because if your temperature increases it could become dangerous."
I nodded and then let Edward help me stand up. To my surprise Carlisle pulled me into a gentle hug. "I hope you feel better soon and remember if there's a problem or if you suddenly feel worse don't hesitate to call me."
Edward wrapped an arm around my waist and led me towards the door, Carlisle following behind us. He must have felt me sag against him as we reached the landing because Edward stopped and said softly, "I can carry you if you'd rather."
I was silent for a moment considering his offer. I really didn't want to appear weak in front of him and Carlisle but on the other hand I was exhausted and we were on the third floor of their large house. And when I thought about it was there really much point trying to hide my weaknesses from a household of immortal vampires?
"Would you mind? I'm still exhausted even though I've been asleep all afternoon," I admitted quietly.
"It would be my pleasure," he said, sweeping me up in his arms with a crooked grin.
Everyone looked up as we came down the stairs into the living room and Esme was at our side in seconds. She reached out one cold hand to my cheek. "Are you still feeling unwell?"
"Yes but I've not been sick again so that's something."
"Feel better soon sweetie. And when you are better you must come and see us again. We've missed having you around," Esme said so warmly that it made me blush.
Edward carried out me to his car as the rest of his family called goodbye. He started the car, drove down the long driveway and headed out onto the road, every now and then shooting a concerned glance at me. Even though he was driving a lot closer to the speed limit than usual I still cringed as a fresh wave of nausea rolled over me. I refused to throw up in his car, I'd never live it down. Leaning back against the seat I closed my eyes, tried to take slow, deep breaths and willed the journey to be over. Eventually we pulled up outside my house.
Edward was out of the car and opening my door for me before I'd even undone my seatbelt. I stumbled up the path to the door, fumbled in my bag for a minute before finding my keys and then opened the door. The TV was on in the living room but Charlie, who must have heard us pull up, was standing in the doorway waiting for us.
"Is everything ok Bells? I was expecting you home for dinner," said Charlie, shooting a suspicious glance at Edward. Unlike me Charlie wasn't ready to welcome Edward back with open arms after the last few months. Unfortunately!
"Sorry about that. I fell ill at Edward's and I've been asleep most of the afternoon." I was beginning to feel worse again and Edward must have sensed my discomfort because he started speaking, cutting off Charlie's worried questions.
"My father was at home today and he checked her over and said it's just a stomach bug and as long as she gets plenty of rest and drinks plenty of fluid she'll be fine. Do you mind if I take her upstairs to her room?"
"Fine," said Charlie and I heard him follow us up the stairs. As I sat down heavily on my bed Charlie spoke again. "Thanks for bringing Bella home. I'm sure you'll be wanting to get home now."
I knew I was being childish and that Edward would be back in my room as soon as Charlie was asleep but I couldn't help myself. I grabbed Edward's hand. "Don't go. I don't want you to go."
He sat down next to me, pulling his hand out of mine and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "I have to go," he said, indicating Charlie with his eyes. "But I'll be round tomorrow to see how you are."
I looked up at Charlie. "Please can he stay tonight? I don't want to disturb you if I'm sick again during the night, I know how busy things are at work at the moment. And at least if Edward's here with me you won't have to worry about leaving me alone when you go to work tomorrow."
"I don't think so –"
I cut him off. "I'm going to be sick."
Edward scanned the room and spotted the bin under my desk. He grabbed it and held it in front of me just in time while managing to hold my hair out of my way as well. When he was certain I had finished he put my bin down and plucked a tissue from the box by my bed and passed it to me. As I wiped my mouth I realised Charlie wasn't there anymore. At that moment he came back in with the beaker from the bathroom filled with water which I willingly drank hoping to dispel the sour taste from my mouth.
I picked up the bin and my pyjamas. "I'll be back in a minute. Try and be nice to each other while I'm gone," I said shooting them both what would have been a glare if I had more energy.
I emptied and rinsed the bin a few times and then washed my face and got changed into my pyjamas. When I got back to my room Edward was still sitting on my bed and Charlie had sat down at my desk. They both seemed to be studiously avoiding each other's eyes. When he saw me Edward pulled back my duvet for me and I gratefully crawled into the cool, refreshing sheets. Edward sat back down next to me and took one of my hands.
Charlie cleared his throat and said gruffly, "If he wants Edward can stay just for tonight while you're ill on the understanding that this is a one off and that nothing and I mean nothing," he glared at Edward, "Will happen. As you said Bella needs to rest. The only reason I'm allowing this is because she is ill and seems to get some comfort from you being here and because I don't want her to be alone while I'm at work."
"Thanks Dad," I said softly.
"No problem Bells." His voice hardened slightly as he spoke to Edward again. "Don't forget what I said earlier because if you break your promise I will throw you out of my house and keep you out. Do you understand?"
I groaned at Charlie's over protectiveness but it didn't seem to faze Edward who just said, "I understand sir."
Charlie stared at him for a moment and then nodded. "If there's any problems tomorrow let me know. The number for the station is on the notice board in the kitchen. Night Bella."
"Goodnight," I mumbled.
As the door closed behind Charlie Edward lay down beside me and I buried my face in his chest. He started running his fingers through my hair and my lullaby started slowly echoed throughout the room but I just couldn't fall asleep. Every few minutes I tossed and turned trying to get comfortable but failing miserably due to the pounding in my head and the nausea that just wouldn't go away.
* From New Moon
So what did you think? Please review and let me know even if you hated it. The second half should be up in the next few days hopefully.