The air in the family room was thick. I could see it on their faces: they felt it, too: the heavy combination of emotions. But they couldn't taste it in the air, feel it on their lips. They didn't feel it on every inch of their skin. They didn't live it. They didn't have to discipline themselves strictly to control their every single thought, every emotion. Not the way I did.
But I was a confederate soldier. I was stronger than that. I would give honor to all of those who died so many years ago. I would be better than my instincts. I would not be a monster.
When I was young, none of it had mattered. Human lives, blood, hate, murder. It was all part of the life, it was a game. A cruel, sick game in which everyone would lose.
And then, when I saw her face, it did matter. I couldn't bring myself to harm another human, not after what she had shown me. When she made me feel the emotion of love, something so truly human. I couldn't bear to hurt the species that had created such a thing. A thing like love. A thing like Alice.
A thing a beauty, a goddess. The most amazing in the world. My goddess. So much more human than I. A bright light to the world, sharing herself with them, bringing goodness into everything she touched. She found me, she saved me. My strength was for her. My restraint was for her. My life, my soul. All for her. Because somehow, miraculously, she had decided to give me her.
I looked over at Alice at noticed she was already staring at me. Her eyes burned into mine and I could feel the love radiating off her, shining out like the sun. In the back of my mind, I felt a slight twinge of awkwardness coming from the rest of my family as they witnessed our private moment.
Family. I contemplated the word. In those human years, so distant, I remembered very little of my family. All that mattered was the glory of war. Then, when I turned, my literal family was those who changed me and those I commanded. But I lived my life with something else that meant family. Hate, blood, competition. These were my constant companions, my family; no matter who I lived with, I could always count on such vile things. Alice found me and she was my life, was my only family. For a time, it was just her and I. Then we met Carlisle, Esme and the rest of the family. Then they were my family, as well as the love and compassion they brought with them. I never thought I would-I could- redefine family and love. I thought, after so many decades, I had understood what family really was. For so long, I was sure that Alice had taught me everything about love, and Carlisle and Esme and Emmett and Rosalie had reaffirmed my definitions. But I was wrong. I had no idea what these words meant. Not until we met Bella.
Alice and I had met when we were both vampires. We made each other strong enough to resist the siren call of human blood. We had learned about what we were together, we met our family together. We were inseparable and two parts of a whole. Nothing stood in our way. Not that anything ever could.
That fateful day- Bella's first day at Forks Middle School- I had felt the bloodlust coming off of Edward from across the school. That made things difficult enough, just for me, but I couldn't even imagine how awful it was for Edward. Not only was he incredibly thirsty, but next to him sat Bella, the human whose blood was far more potent to him than anything any of us had ever known.
He did his very best to resist. He left, trying to do what was best for Bella, for the entire school. He had no idea what would happen if he lost control. I didn't understand what possessed him to leave. I suppose he had no idea how much our family loves him. He could fell it, of course, through my thoughts, but it was so different experiencing that love firsthand, like I did. And then, Edward came back. He felt himself overconfident, arrogant about it. But I could feel the truth. Even so early on, he was completely infatuated by her. Even when so much, so very many brick walls were standing between them, Edward wouldn't give up. He refused. And so, love was once again redefined.
Beyond all reason, he fell for her. We knew it before he did. The climate in our house became stranger and stranger. Alice was absolutely bouncing out of her seat over this Bella person whom I had never met. Normally, she wasn't so certain about her visions. But she told me Edward and Bella's bond was certain. Inevitability. The definition of love was expanded.
The rest of the family was mixed. I had no idea what to feel. That was part of the problem with my gift: my feelings weren't my own. What I felt, the rest of the room felt. What the rest of the room felt, I felt. I wasn't a creature with its own emotions; in a way, I was emotion. I wasn't sure which to feel at which times. I was simply a middleman for the rest of the world. But I couldn't allow myself to feel anything, I couldn't interfere with their minds, their fates.
And that was the extent of my love to my family. I would do my very best to control myself around them, as they did for me. And, during this fragile period, they would do the same for Edward.
He told me much later on that they would often try to block out their thoughts from him. They were all so certain in a negative future and they didn't want to hurt him. But he knew that they could not hide their emotions from me. And, when he nearly begged me, I caved and told him their feelings.
Carlisle was optimistic. Of course. Carlisle had conquered the impossible so many times. His impossible self-control. His impossible job. His impossible life style. Carlisle had faith that his first son had the restraint. He knew Edward would never hurt Bella. And, he knew their love was strong. Carlisle knew, more than any of us, love. He was one of the most compassionate creates there ever was.
Esme was undeniably thrilled. She was so very motherly and wanted for Edward, more than anything else, happiness. He was so alone, for his entire existence-which was even longer than hers. She felt so bad, having a companion and he having none. It pained her when Edward had stopped playing his piano. The next time he played, it was as if he was a completely different person. It was as if this was his very first time playing his piano. And, of course, he played her song. He saw the universe with new eyes, as if he had suddenly found a bright light in a very dark room, or found the moon after an eternity of black. Bella was that light. Esme loved Bella, loved her before she even met her. Esme loved Bella because she was good, had a beautiful heart, a strong soul. Bella gave Edward happiness, hope, love. The only thing Esme wanted for her son.
Rosalie's jealousy was quite comical. The rest of us knew she was so vain that she was outraged that Edward found someone who he thought was more stunning than she. No, not just anyone-a human. A human without a vampire's extra beauty. Even with this advantage, Rosalie's beauty was instantly thwarted. She hated it.
So, of course, Emmett loved this new girl. Anything to provoke Rose. He took many things with a light heart, or, at least, he presented himself in such a manner. But Emmett was no fool. Underneath, he was worried. He loved Edward in so many real ways, and he was worried what would happen when Edward met what Emmett thought was inevitable. Emmett was worried that things wouldn't work out. How could things possibly work out? How could a vampire and a human have any kind relationship, let alone the fact that her blood sang to him. But it was love, I realized. It smashed down those brick walls with a force unlike any other. It conquered all.
And, of course, Alice. Alice didn't need to hide her thoughts from Edward. In fact, Edward told me Alice was often shouting out thoughts at him, mentally calling his name and displaying visions of he and Bella together, or Bella with Alice, best friends. Edward didn't want to scare off Bella (hah- nothing could scare of this girl) and refused to let Alice meet his infatuation. But nothing thwarted Alice. She was sure it was only a matter of time.
Despite their range of views, all of them (with the exception of Alice, with her optimism, and I, with my pained indifference) were worried. Concerned constantly about when Edward was with her, concerned when Edward was without her. We all knew it was risky. Being alone with a human-especially this human- was dangerous to the possible prey. But when Edward was alone with Bella, any harm to her would be twice as harmful to him. So when Edward left for a few hours, unsure of whether or not it was right to come back, we were all worried. Despite Edward being overly dramatic, Bella was the most important thing to him. The only important thing to him. She was the center of his universe. No. There was no universe. Only him, her, and their love.
Redefined, once again.
He brought Bella to meet us. It worried him to no end-he was concerned enough when she held a fork. How would he bring her to a house full of vampires? But he did. He was old fashioned, for one. And, another, he wanted her to know everything. Only then, only then could she decide what was right for her. He had hope-quite in vain- that she would realize he wasn't right for her. He never felt himself good enough. Yet, he couldn't be without her, couldn't leave her for any period of time at all. And he secretly hoped that she wanted this, too. That didn't mean he wouldn't give her the choice. A silent battle raged inside him, but he wouldn't tell her. He didn't want Bella in any type of pain. He would fight himself alone, all the while showing him his care for her, his love. She couldn't comprehend it all. Her mind, her heart didn't have the capacity. That didn't mean she wouldn't try.
If only I still thought love was simple. Their love kept proving me wrong.
When we all met her the first time, we could all see what Edward saw in her. Bella was the epitome of goodness. When she stepped into our home, she was filled with shock. But of course, she wouldn't tell Edward she was expecting a lair. Some mythologies were carved into the human mind far too deep. Instead, she put a rather positive spin on it, telling our family what a beautiful home we had.
And then, when she met us. The cool embraces she received shocked her once again, but she made not a sound. She was deathly afraid of Rosalie, but wouldn't visibly show us that. The light inside her shone. It was so much more than simply being alive. She had a goodness, but a simple-ness about her. She was so young, and so very innocent, but at the same time very aware. Brave, unafraid, even as she stared into our alien eyes, our pale, deceptively inviting faces. And, when she knew everything, she was absolutely touched. Amazed that Edward would trust her so deeply. If only she knew, if only she understood his love. But she only knew her love for him, which was equally as strong. That was one thing about them. They both felt as if their love for the other was one sided. They both felt undeserving. Another amazing thing about their love.
As we learned more and more about her, the more we cared about her. She saw only good, she saw strength, not flaws. We all fell in love with her nearly as quickly as Edward had. While she saw goodness in the world, she saw weakness in herself. She felt completely blessed but undeserving. She felt that our love was too good for her, as if we should find someone better. And though it was frustrating, it only made us love her more. As if we could find someone more lovely in the world than her. She was so unassuming. She would suffer from her insecurities but say nothing in it. Her battle was private, just as Edward's battle was private.
And we saw more and more how desperately they needed each other. They revolved around each other. Their lives were completely thrashed and rearranged by the mere existence of each other. Suddenly, the entire world was bright to them. They saw brilliancy, beauty. Never were they angry with the other. Never did they feel anything but love. They would blame themselves, never any other person, especially each other. It was beautiful, how they always showered the other in affection. Emmett and Rose got quite disgusted, said something along the lines of gooey. Alice found the romance enthralling. Esme and Carlisle just glowed as they say that love bloom. Though I could only feel their own emotions, I was feeling cautiously optimistic. Maybe Edward and Bella would continue to redefine the lines of love. While they were at it, they might be able to destroy the lines between species, between vampire and human. Because their love was different. Complicating. It knew obstacles, but it knew none that could thwart it. Trust. Faith. That was their love.
I glanced again at Alice, and she was smiling at me. Maybe she had a promising vision; maybe my mood had literally rubbed off on her. Maybe she was just happy to see me. It mattered not. Though our love was different, less confusing, less difficult than my brother and his girlfriend's love, it was equally as strong. Every one of us was hopelessly lost in it, falling and spiraling every day deeper and deeper into it. Like an abyss, it had no bottom. Like the bonds that held the world together, it was strong. And like nothing else, love was all that mattered.