My love for Edward was life-altering, undeniable, and irrevicable. He was my soul mate, my other half. I could not live without him-I had tried that once already, and had no plans on it happening again. But not only him. His famliy, no, our family. The Cullens. They were part of me too. I loved each of them, even Rosalie, who had never really liked me much. I still don't understand why they care for me so much, why they are willing to risk their lives for me, yet they do, and they are. Once again, they are all at risk because of me. I hated this. I could not stand to see any of them fall. If I had to bleed to save them, I would do it. I would die to do it, like the third wife. I had no silver dagger in my hand, but I would find a way...
Chapter 1: The Battle
Sharp fragments of gray stone showered down on my head, scratching my exposed skin. A jagged splike of rock rolled down my arm and I caught it reflexively. My fingers clenched around the long shard as my own survival instincts kicked in; since there was no chance of flight, my body - not caring how ineffectual the gesture was - prepared for a fight.
Adrenaline jolted through my veins. I knew the brace was cutting into my palm. I knew the crack in my knuckle was protesting. I knew it, but I could not feel the pain.
Behind Riley, all I could see was the twisting flame of Victoria's hair and a blur of white. The increasingly frequent metallic snaps and teats, the gasps and shocked hissings, made it clear that the dance was turning deadly for someone.
But which someone?
Rley lurched toward me, his red eyes brillant with fury. He glared at the limp mountain of sand-colored fur between us, and his hands - manngled, broken hands - curled into talons. His mouth opened, widened, his teeth glistening, as he prepared to rip out Seth's throat.
A second kick of adrenaline hit like an electric shock, and everything was suddenly very clear.
Both fights were too close. Seth was about to lose his, and I had no idea if Edward was winning or losing. They needed help. A distraction. Something to give them an edge.
My hand gripped the stone spike so tightly that a support in the brace snapped.
Was I strong enough? Was I brave enough? How hard could I shove the rough stone into my body? Would this buy Seth enough time to get back on his feet? Would he heal fast enough for my sacrifice to do him any good?
I raked the point of the shard up my arm, yanking my thick sweater back to expose the skin, and then pressed the sharp tip to the crease at my elbow. I already had a long scar there from my last birthday. That night, my flowing blood had been enough to catch every vampire's attention, to freeze them all in place for an instant. I prayed it would work that way again. I steeled myself and sucked in a deep breath.
This was the moment that would change everything.
"I love you, Edward," I whispered, knowing he would hear me. Then I pushed down on the shard as hard as I could.
In that same short second, the dance broke violently apart. It happened so quickly that it was over before I could follow the sequence of events.
I heard the roars of two vampires, one too high-pitched to seem normal, the other much lower. I heard growls. And then I heard the velvet voice that I love so much yelling, "Seth-take her and run! I love you Bella! Go!!!"
Suddenly, I was thrown onto Seth's back and we were flying. Trees were passing by much too quickly, and between the pain in my hand, the pain in my arm, and the sheer panic I was feeling, it was all I could do to keep a grip on his fur.
We arrived in the clearing after a few moments, and I was surprised to see that the fighting seemed to be over. I smelled the fires before I saw them - the raging flames were sending up thick, pungent, purple smoke that smelled strongly of incense. I was still shaking with fear, and my eyes roamed the scene, searching for my loved ones. I saw no other wolves, but found around the field the shapes of six of the vampires that I loved as family. I let loose a deep breath, one I was sure I had been holding since the moment the rock pierced my skin, relieved that they were ok. Seth set me down, and within a second, Jacob, back in his human form, appeared at my side.
"Cullens-Edward is in trouble! Seth says he needs help. You've got to get up to the campsite, and fast-the redhead is there, and he's alone!" Jasper and Emmett immediately took off running up the path Seth and I had just come from. Then Jacob looked at me. "You're bleeding!" He yelled.
"Yeah, I may have cut myself with a rock," I mumbled.
"What were you thinking Bella? Only you would make yourself bleed in front of leeches!"
"Third wife, Jacob," I said, as if the answer was obvious. I was annoyed not only at his insult to my loved ones, but also at the idea that I was stupid.
"Oh god, Bella, really? You have major issues! Why don't you ever trust us to take care of ourselves?"
"Jake, I will not allow the ones I love to die when I could..."
My words were cut off by a blood-curling scream.
"NO!!!!!" Alice collapsed on the ground. "Oh God, NO! NO! NO!"
Carlisle ran to Alice's side, trying to calm her enough to get her to speak. This is one of those moments when Jasper's talent would really come in handy.
It seemed like hours were passing, waiting for Alice to stop repeating the word no and dry sobbing before she would tell us what she Saw. The whole time I waited for her to speak, I felt a strong, twisting pain deep in my gut. I think I already knew what she would say, but I was desperately trying to hold out hope.
But hope no longer exists. Hope is gone. Hope is false. Because the next words out of Alice's mouth destroyed hope and everything that is good in this world.
"Edward....he's gone. (sob) Victoria (sob), oh god! Victoria and her friend (sob), they overpowered him. Jasper and Emmett were too late. (sob) He's gone..." And then she collapsed in dry sobs again.
I started shaking uncontrollably. I felt that hole in my chest that had been healed when Edward came back to me rip back open, painfully, more painfully than ever before. As my chest tore open, I wondered at the pain of it. I could only hope that it would kill me, because how could I live in this world if Edward was no longer part of it? The pain seemed to get worse, and suddenly, it was too strong. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't scream, I couldn't see...all was black.
I opened my eyes again, and was surpised to find myself in the baseball clearing still, and in pain still. The pain was physical-my hand, my arm, my chest- and emotional-my heart was broken, shattered, ripped from my chest. I couldn't understand how or why I was alive. Surely no one could live in this much pain. I looked up, and found myself cradled in Esme's arms. She was dry sobbing and attempting to comfort me at the same time. I wondered briefly why she hadn't thrown me into one of the fires and just killed me herself-after all, I just caused her to lost her first son. How could she possibly comfort me in this moment? Yet her eyes looked at me with all the motherly love she had ever shown me in the past. I could see the pain in them as well, and worry. Why was she worried? All was already lost.
I looked to my right and saw Carlisle's frame, shuddering, with his arms around Alice, who was obviously inconsolable. Rosalie was squatting next to them, seemingly unsure of what she should be doing, and looking up towards the path where Emmett and Jasper had run with panic in her eyes. Were they not back yet? Had Victoria gotten to them too?
I felt my heart racing in my chest, my breathing growing nearer and nearer to hyperventilation. I looked up at Esme and whispered the names of her two remaining sons.
"They are coming back soon, dear. They are just fine. They disposed of Victoria and her friend, but they are waiting for... for Edward's... fire to burn out. They want to bring back the... ashes... for us." That was all she could say before the sobs overcame her again.
Despite my relief for the safety of my brothers, her words made Edward's death more real, and brought back the pain a hundred-fold. It was too much, more than any person could possibly bear. I felt the darkness coming over me again, and prayed that this time I would not wake up.
Surprisingly, I opened my eyes again, still in Esme's arms. I looked up at her and said the only thing that I could think of to say in that moment, "Oh Esme, I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! I'll never forgive myself for this! I'm so sorry!"
She looked at me with confusion in her eyes. "Dear, you have no reason to be sorry. You have lost your mate today, yet you appologize to me?"
"Because it's all my fault, Esme. Everything is my fault! If it wasn't for me, Edward would be alive, you would all be safe, and together. I brought this to you, I brought death to Edward!"
"Bella, stop this! If it wasn't for you, Edward would still be unhappy. He lived for over a hundred years, and it is a tragedy that he spent so little of that time truly happy. But he was happy with you! You gave him that gift. Before you, he was, quite literally, the walking dead. There was no life, no joy, in him. YOU gave him that! You gave him life, happiness, love. Never apologize for that! What is eternity, Bella, if you have no one to live it with? No one to love? It's nothing. It's hell! His existence may have ended prematurely today, but I guarantee you that, even knowing that this would happen, he would never have regretted knowing you, loving you!"
"I should have let Victoria kill me. Edward shouldn't have given his life for me..." I started, between sobs.
"No, Bella. Ssshhh. Don't say that. Please, dear, don't. If you had died, Edward would have followed you in death as well, you know that."
"I want to follow him too, Esme! I don't want to live without him!"
"Bella, no. You can't. Edward gave his life so that you could live. You musn't belittle his sacrifice. He wanted you to live, Bella, and live you must. You are a part of this family, and we need you now, more than ever before. I know you are in pain, but you have to find the strength to live. For Edward."
I wrapped my arms aound her and sobbed again. I knew she was right, even if I didn't want her to be. Even though all I wanted in the world at this moment was to die and join Edward wherever he was, I knew I had to try to honor him and his wishes. I had no clue how to survive now, but I would try. For Edward.
"I'll try...Mom." I whispered. Even in her grief, I could feel her smiling against me at the title. I was glad that there was at least one thing I could do to make her happy.
I was shiverring quite severely by this point, thanks to the combination of Esme's cold skin, the cold air that surrounded me, and most likely the severe emotional pain. Rosalie, who was standing next to us, gathered some sticks and made a fire near us to try to warm me-no sense in me freezing to death after all this, she said. Jacob had suggested that he could keep me warm, but I had a death-grip on Esme's shirt and couldn't be convinced to leave her lap. I guess there are times when all you need is to be in the arms of your mother, and Esme like one to me.
Suddenly, though, fate dropped another bomb on my life. Jake jumped up and was flying through the air before I even saw or heard a thing... damn human senses. Changing to his wolf form mid-air, a feat which impressed even the other wolves, I saw what he was reacting to- another newborn vampire had just entered the clearing only a few hundred meters from us.
Jake's phase seemed different, wrong, this time, however. Instead of continuing his attack on the newborn, the large russett wolf seemed to freeze in the air, his body contorting with pain and whimpering. The newborn had his advantage now, and used it. And as I sat there in utter terror, I watched as the vampire wrapped his hands around Jacob's neck and twisted. I heard the snap, and then the thud as Jacob fell to the ground. I waited. Warewolves heal quickly, that's what Jacob had told me. So I waited. Waited for him to get up, to move. But nothing happened. And as time remained frozen, I stared at him, at his body, lying on the ground, his head at an awkward angle. Why wasn't he moving?
Esme jumped up, knocking me out of her lap. "Rosalie, take Bella and run! Get to the house, and don't stop until you get there!"
"No Esme! I can help you!" Rosalie cried.
Esme did not turn around. She was crouching before me, blocking the path of the newborn. "Rosalie, GO! I will handle this! No more of my children will fall today!"
Rosalie whimpered, a sound that I never expected to hear from her. "But Mom..."
"No buts, Rosalie! You must go! NOW!"
And with that, Rosalie scooped me up bridal-style and started running. I burried my face in her chest, not sure I could handle the speed without getting sick, and waited for her to stop.
We arrived back at the Cullen's mansion, and the first thing I noticed was the quiet. I looked up at Rosalie, her face still gloriously beautiful despite the pain and fear it so obviously displayed. "Where is everyone else?"
She set me on the couch and then sat next to me, taking my hand in her own. I was a little taken aback, because she had never liked me much, and compassion was not a trait I usually saw in Rosalie. I had never seen Rosalie look so human.
"I don't know, Bella. I don't want to lie to you, and the truth is, I don't know. And I'm scared. Jasper and Emmett never came back from the campsite, but Alice swears they are ok. She and Carlisle ran off while you were passed out because she had a vision of some of the Volturi guard arriving and they wanted to head them off before they came close to you. She swore that they would not have any problems with them, so they should be back soon. Esme will probably be busy disposing of that last newborn, though I still don't understand where it came from..."
"What about the wolves?" I whispered.
"I don't know. Seth ran off the first time you blacked out when he heard Sam howl. Jacob refused to leave your side though, even though we told him we'd protect you. I have no idea where any of the rest of them are."
"So what do we do now?"
Recognizable lines taken from Eclipse, pg 539, 549-550