Author's Note (4/30/2014): Change Heartache Into Courage was the first fan fiction I wrote. It was the first time I ever felt the need to write anything other than a blog post about my life (or that one Hey Arnold fic I wrote for myself during the 90s, but shhh, we don't talk about that). When I recently decided to revisit this fic for nostalgia sake, it was hard for me to ignore the glaring faults I saw due to me being new to writing fiction back in 2009 (when I posted the first chapter). I know people enjoyed it enough and to this day I still get reviews for CHIC, but I couldn't stop myself from wanting to fix the mistakes I saw. If anything, five years of writing and reading fan fiction has taught me a few things about correct grammar and how to write a sentence without loading it with too many words pulled from a thesaurus. I've started a rewrite that I am posting to Ao3. You are more than welcome to read that version and if I'm being honest, I hope you do. You can find the link to it in my profile on this site.
I will not be taking the original version down. With all its faults, there is an audience for it and it's sort of like a time capsule, what with all the author's notes thanking my original readers for their help. Still though, the newer version is up at Ao3 with some new additions and removals. I also changed the rating to M. I figured what was the point of the original soft M rating anyway? Did people actually stop reading when I gave a warning that the story was heading into soft M territory? Probably not. Whether you choose to read the original or the updated version, I hope you enjoy it.
I sat across the room from her sleeping form. She was still, peaceful. For that I could take credit, although, I wasn't sure how I was able to emanate emotions of well-being on the girl when my own were in such turmoil … but I did. I had to, because of my promise to Alice.
"Watch over Bella." Her words rang in my ears like nails on a chalk board.
Why? I wanted to yell out. Why did you delegate this task to me when all I want to do is disappear? I want to cease to be. How could you leave me with such a responsibility?
My eyes wandered to her again. A mixture of sympathy and anger washed over me and in that moment I lost my concentration. I could no longer keep her from suffering and I saw her jerk, a quick movement and then a thrash. I had to regain control. I labored to force myself to become calm, but not soon enough. I could feel Bella's own emotions breaking through. Her sadness began to permeate the tiny room we occupied and then a scream, but not just a wordless yell. A name. His name.
I was quick and knowing her eyes would soon open, I discreetly removed myself from her room through the window. She would be none the wiser. Soon her father would be there to comfort her and my services would no longer be required. This was how the three previous nights had been. Three nights I spent helping her sleep, but I could never keep my own suffering from escaping the hole I'd buried it in since Alice's death and as a result, Bella's reprieve from pain would always end with the same shrill sound … a scream for Edward. The first night she'd bolted up right in bed and I wasn't nearly as quick as I should have been largely, because I hadn't anticipated faltering so miserably in calming her. I should have known that I wouldn't have been able to keep my own grief at bay. The battle that had claimed both Alice and Edward had only taken place 24 hours before. In my hesitation to leave, I saw Bella squint into the darkness. "Edward …" her voice was tentative, but also raw from sobbing.
The window had been open and I swiftly exited through it before her human eyes could realize that I was not the vampire she hoped for. After that night I vowed never to make the same mistake again. To assume I possessed the ability to drown my sadness was foolish. I may have been a vampire, but I was no stronger than a human when the subject came to suffering the loss of a loved one.
Now I stood outside Bella's window after having successfully made my escape and listened for her father's voice. I expected to feel his strong concern before his soothing words began. "Bells?" I heard Charlie whisper from behind her door.
In response, his heart broken daughter let out a stifled sob as if she had buried her face into a pillow. Her father was quick to react. The door squeaked open which was followed by heavy footsteps that ended in the noise of a bed frame protesting from too much weight. "Oh Bella, it'll be okay, sweetheart. Shhhhh. You'll be okay."
She pulled in a ragged breath and struggled to answer him. "No Dad. I … I feel like he … Edward was … he was here. He was in here." Her voice broke off into a sob.
From my position outside, Bella's grief bore down on me. The sensation of this was unbearable not only, because she suffered greatly for Edward, but because her pain mirrored my own. A stabbing ache began around my tear ducts. I knew there would be no tears, but I wished there could have been. Any release from my tortured emotions would have been heaven. "I'm sorry, Alice. I just can't. I can't," I whispered to no one and then began to run.
I moved with lightning speed, wanting nothing more than to leave behind the agony I felt, but even as I placed miles between myself and the grieving girl my dead heart still ached. The pain remained in the same fevered state it had been since the night Alice was killed. No matter how much I tried to place those emotions down into the hole I had made specifically for them, they still encompassed me. I was able to focus the pain down to a low dull ache when my mind was on Bella, when I was watching over her. Yet, now as I ran with nothing to keep my thoughts from wandering onto the subject I wished not to revisit – the image of Alice – her mangled vampire corpse unmoving as orange flames licked her charred remains… I found myself going directly to that place.
I would not see it. I refused. She would never look like that again in my mind. I searched and searched my brain for anything else … for a moment where the two of us were together, in love and without worry. I tried, but failed, only being able to recall the last night we spent together. There had been worry, but we still had been in love and hopeful that all would end well during our battle with Victoria and her newborn vampire creations.
How wrong we had been.
Regardless, I let my mind wander back to that night …
I had entered our room to find my love waiting.
"Alice, do you know what you are doing to me by wearing that outfit?"
In response, Alice playfully twirled around in front of me with an impish smile on her face. "Oh, I know. Why do you think I decided to wear this?" she winked.
She continued to spin until her body collided with mine. "The outfit I wore the day we met," she mused and then placed her arms around my waist.
I did likewise and pulled her closer. I knew why she was wearing this. Having been with Alice and in love with her for so many years had provided me with the ability to see through her ploys. She was trying to distract me and force my mind out of the worry that had occupied it since she had told me of her vision. The image she had seen of both her and Edward dead.
"I'm amazed it still fits. I would have thought after all this time you would have put on a few pounds." I playfully slapped her thigh and her bell like laughter filled the room.
I felt nothing, but unconditional love radiating from the woman I held. Love, with also a bit of mischief mixed in. I leaned in to kiss those lips I had tasted a thousand times before when with vampire speed she placed an index finger against my lips, halting me. Then slowly and I might add a bit seductively, she removed her finger from my mouth down towards the top button of her blouse. "Would a Southern Gentleman do me the honor of removing my heavy clothing?" She horrendously murdered the heavy accent of my youth and I had to laugh.
She did not have to say anymore. I quickly hoisted her legs up around my waist and carried her over to our bed which had never once been used for sleeping. Our lovemaking that night had been beyond any other experience we had shared. A mixture of fear had mingled with our desire for each other. The fear of losing the love we had found. The fear that all we had together would soon be coming to an end.
That was also the night she had made her request. "Jasper," Alice had whispered into my bare chest as we clung to each other in bed. She did not wait for me to respond and I felt her apprehension intensify. "You must watch over Bella … if …" She could not force the words out, but I knew.
She paused for a moment in an attempt to regain her courage and then continued, "Bella lost Edward once and it nearly killed her. I'm afraid having him torn from her again would throw her over the edge."
In the darkness, I saw her large amber eyes stare pleadingly up at me, but all I could do was nod. To speak would be to lose my composure and I did not want Alice to know how truly terrified I was.