Author's Notes: Based on Emily Dickinson's "Wild Nights," as per a request.
Might I But Moor
Everyone is moving on—has moved on; everyone is in the present, in the future, and what is past has passed. But Bella Swan is moored in a day ago, a week ago, months and months and years ago, in everything that Yesterday might have had to offer if only she'd listened harder.
Watching Leah is like watching herself all over again, but this time Bella's actually paying attention. Leah is bitter at first; Leah is broken; Leah is Bella, slipping on the shoes that Bella thought she'd cast off two years ago—but they keep showing up at her door, regardless of who is wearing them. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it makes her smile. She can predict what's going to happen, and when, like the workings of a well-oiled clock:
Leah is always alone. She's managed to isolate herself from everyone that maybe once cared, or maybe once could have cared, if she hadn't been swaddled so tightly in the layers of her own heart. Maybe someone tries to talk to her and tries to connect to the something—the anything—that's left. But she doesn't notice, or she doesn't care (and this is almost the part that Bella remembers best).
But then he comes, entirely out of nowhere. Maybe it's not quite the same; it's almost, Bella thinks, as if the roles and personalities are exactly reversed. The effect, however, is the same: he comes, and he's persistent, and sometimes consistent persistence, that kind of determination that's as sheer as a cliff, moves even mountains out of self-pity.
Leah sits, and quietly, gradually, Embry edges closer. He isn't shy or nervous about it, not reserved in his intent. There's a soft confidence to him, a nice contrast and complement to Leah, who's all fight and fire but hardly ever self-assured anymore.
She ignores him with defiant purpose (and Bella wonders if she was that stubborn, too). He's not there, not there at all, except that he is, and he won't leave.
"What do you want?" Leah snaps when it's finally too much to continue pretending.
Embry shrugs. "Nothing. Leah."
He says her name in a sentence of its own, not quite like it's added on as an afterthought, but intentionally there for emphasis. Call her name, bring her back, break the spell.
It's bold, and Bella can see that Leah is startled.
"Whatever," Leah mutters after too long of a pause. "Just don't bother me."
She returns to whatever it is that she's been doing (it's hard to tell from Billy's front porch), her cheeks slightly red and her movements thereafter self-conscious.
Behind her, the door opens.
"Bella!" Billy exclaims, surprised. "Was there… something you wanted? I didn't hear you knock."
Bella shakes her head. "Sorry," she says quickly, and pulls herself to her feet. "I just… I don't know, I…"
"Jake's in his room, if you want me to get him." He looks at her warily.
But she shakes her head again. "Thanks, but… he still won't talk to me."
And just as she expects, Billy doesn't argue.
Freshman English has her carrying around Emily Dickinson like it's the only thing that's sustaining her existence; and, pinned to her side by the crook of her right arm, it may as well be. Thick and sturdy, it's always there, holding her up, straightening her out, pinning her down, steadying.
And Bella—but not quite by example—is always here, on Billy's front porch. She doesn't know why; she tries to forget, as much as she can, who exactly lives in this house. She's not trying to accomplish anything, not consciously. It's nice just being here.
Bella flips to a page at random.
But she's read this one, before.
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.
Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!
"Reading again, Bells?"
"What, am I predictable, now?"
"Nah. I just know you. Lemme see."
"It's nothing exciting."
"I'm counting on that."
"Fine. It's this one."
"Wild Nights? Hey! Isn't that the sex poem?"
"Maybe… What? Stop looking at me like that, Jake!"
"Only you would be into dirty, old literary stuff."
"Only you would call it the 'sex poem.'"
"Sure, sure. I bet everybody calls it that."
"Yeah? Well what if everybody's wrong? Maybe it isn't about sex."
"C'mon, Bells. 'Might I but moor tonight in thee'? Even I get that metaphor, or whatever it is. Besides, what else would you do on a wild night, anyway? And speaking of wild nights…"
"Don't even think about it, buddy."
"Okay, fine. Then what is it about?"
"Well… maybe wild nights are just that: wild nights. Like a crazy date, or something."
"Oh yeah, I'm sure they're getting kidnapped by pirates."
"Or, maybe it's just what people call a whirlwind romance. Ever thought of that? Anyway, when it's talking about the winds, and the compass, it could be that they're going to do whatever they want, and let that take them wherever it takes them. They're not going to let anyone drive them away from each other."
"So what about the rowing and mooring part?"
"I… Okay. So they're rowing in Eden, which is like this perfect paradise, and she's mooring… her heart… in him? Or she wants… to? She's mooring herself in this guy…"
"…Ugh! Okay, I give up. You win. This is really dirty."
"However! However, it's still about someone missing someone else, and realizing what she'd have if she hadn't lost that person. And that's not just about sex."
"Psh! That just means it's about really great sex."
"Holy crow! Where is your mind, Jake?"
"In the gutter."
"This is why I shouldn't be hanging out with sophomores."
(The lesson the Cullens taught her, apart from the one that warns against being careless and stupid, is that things can't go back to the way they were before. It's a bitter pill for her to swallow, the fact that Edward ever happened at all.
She hasn't missed him once since she shut her window and told him goodbye.)
The difference between Leah and Bella is that for Leah, today takes longer to come. Or at least, the today that it seems to be at first: the day the walls break. Every time Bella is here, watching, she sees Embry and Leah, but it's always Embry with Leah, not Leah with Embry. Embry grants her space, and sometimes they talk, because like—like Jacob—Embry has a sense of timing, a sense of when, and the courtesy to wait for the when to arrive.
"How can you even stand to be around her?" Bella hears Quil ask once when they're on their own. (She ducks down a little to avoid being seen.)
Embry shrugs, but the meaning is so clear it nearly hurts: Haven't you ever wondered if there's more to her than what there seems to be?
And so he waits, and Bella watches.
Today is when.
Leah smiles, Leah jokes. Leah tosses her head back and laughs into the sky. She's the one that crosses the invisible boundary line, the one that finds Embry this time, the one that calls and asks if he would mind her dropping by, just to talk.
"We haven't really talked," Leah says.
(Bella is walking, stretching her legs, when she nearly stumbles upon them.)
It seems like all Embry can do not to let his face explode into smiles and startle Leah away.
But then today begins to speed up, to race, to happen too, too fast, and Bella can't keep up. It careens past her own today on the feathery, guarded wings of trust and understanding; and perhaps she was so blind herself that she continued on sailing forward when she should have stopped and thought and allowed herself to live outside of her own head.
For Leah, when Embry comes walking toward her along the road, pauses, and considers for perhaps a shorter length of time than she should; and then when he is close enough to touch, she reaches out.
And she kisses him.
And Bella's heart stops right then and there, because she realizes, finally, that she has no idea what will happen next.
Because this never happened to her, so wholly and completely.
She hadn't let it.
Were I with thee, were I wish thee, were I with thee…
But she isn't.
Today is the day that Bella Swan leaves everything behind, and learns to move on.
She stops driving down every day to La Push, stops haunting Jacob's front porch like an old ghost. She's done wrong, so much wrong, and she's hurt so many people—hurt him so much. She doesn't know why she couldn't accept this before, why she didn't see it.
Bella wants to be forgiven for what she's done, but forgiveness, now, is not her right.
She's not in the past; she's in the present. It is not the same; it's not like it was.
This is today.
She won't ever forget, no; but her heart, resting in its port, is buffeted by the winds that will draw her out into the whirling sea.
She'll glance back, but it'll take a while before it's right to come back home.
For once in her life, Bella lives for herself, by herself. She loses track of time because she wants to, not because it escapes her grasp when she least expects it and needs it most. She interacts with people she doesn't know, with people who have no chance in the world of recognizing her; it's an interaction with normalcy, and something she's always desperately needed. No monsters, no magic, no heartbreak and repair.
She calls Charlie sometimes, and Renee even less.
She reads books she'd never have dreamed of picking up on her own, because instead of overthinking, she just closes her eyes and points, letting nothing but chance guide her.
She drives with the windows all the way down, and the music all the way up in that obnoxious way she's always scorned.
She goes places. She takes hikes and nearly kills herself with untied shoelaces and bloodied knees. She visits cities that look after sunset like stars reflected upon the water down below. She sits in on a pottery class, tries yoga.
She tries dancing, too, and later she'll swear that it's the only mistake she makes.
Bella breathes in clear, cool air.
Bella basks in the sun she's all but forgotten.
And Bella has wild, wild nights by simply being alive.
It's midnight however long afterward it is that she drives her truck back onto the bumpy roads of Forks. Her headlights sweep over the familiar trees and the shining eyes of deer that only bound away after she's far ahead.
Charlie's police cruiser is there when she pulls into the driveway, just as she expects and just as she remembers. She turns off her truck, pulls her key out of the ignition. When she steps out into the cold night, it's absolutely silent. All is still, except at the top of the trees, where the pine needles sway back and forth, ever so slightly and softly.
She stands for a moment in the dark. She breathes in and out, just like she's practiced doing.
As she walks to the front door, she notices a light on inside the house; and it's odd, she thinks, for Charlie to be awake this late when he's out early almost every morning. Especially because she never called to tell him she was coming home.
She shrugs, and unlocks the door.
Inside, she hears conversation, television, and Billy's deep laughter, Charlie's right after it like lightning to thunder. She sets her things down on the table, and glances back out the door behind her before shutting it; she hadn't noticed the extra car parked out on the street.
She exhales, and turns around.
Then she freezes. Jacob is asleep on the couch.
Bella pauses, and considers for perhaps a shorter length of time than she should; and then she's walking forward so quickly that the floor doesn't even creak, and curling beside him in the small amount of space that's left beside his legs.
He stirs a little, but he's always been a heavy sleeper. She thinks she even hears him mumble "Hey, Bells," before his voice fades into incoherence, but she's not sure.
What she does know, though, is that she's done with the compass, done with the chart, done with the past and her expectations.
Because Jacob is here, and now, and if this means anything at all, it must be forgiveness.