Selfishly Holding, Selflessly Leaving

Summary: Edward Cullen's thoughts on what he knows he must do, the night before he leaves Forks in New Moon. A "Midnight Sun" like scene.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight Saga. I'm just borrowing Stephenie Meyer's characters for a bit. I also do not own the few Romeo and Juliet references throughout those are Shakespeare's.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? "It is the east, and Bella is the sun." I offer a sad smile up to her lighted window as I finish my thought and allow the heavy weight of pain to settle upon my chest. Reflexively my hand comes up and rubs a small circle around my stilled heart. If my heart still beat within my chest, I know it would be shattering in pain. However, that will not change my decision. As much as it hurts me, as much as I long to keep her for myself, I know I cannot.

She is the joy of my existence, but I know I must let her go. My time was long ago, and Bella's is now. Our paths would never have met had it not been for the myth turned reality which stole me from death. I by no means am angry with Carlisle for changing me, it did bring me to my Bella. However, as I should be dead I know I cannot selfishly cling to her life and soul. She belongs to the Mike Newtons… the humans, of the world. I grimace at the idea of Bella in Mike's arms rather than mine, but how can I deny her love and safety, even if it is with Mike. Although I long to give her those things, all I can guarantee her is danger.

A sigh escapes my lips as I press myself deeper into the shadows around her house. Images from her birthday party assault me as they have every second since that day: the slice of wrapping paper against her delicate skin, the heavenly fragrance of her blood, the menace in Jasper's eyes as he launched himself towards her, and the most disturbing memory of all was the knowledge that my own instincts urged me to do the same. The greatest horror of them all was not the injuries she sustained, those are healing and disappearing with time, but the knowledge that I could have easily taken her life myself. That knowledge haunts me when I know she deserves much better.

I've seen in her eyes the last two days, her attempts to convince me the events of her birthday were not the horror we both knew them to be. Sometimes I wonder if she realizes how hard she is making it for me, for what I know I must do. I had thought about sneaking out of her bedroom the evening of her birthday and walking out of her life for good. After all, she would be… will be, safer without me.

I told myself I would not blacken her birthday further by leaving her that night, it could wait another day. However, if I was truly honest with myself, I was not staying for her, I was staying for myself. I already knew I had to leave her, but I needed one more night with her.

From the moment I walked into her room that night my fingers ran against every surface of her furniture as I catalogued the room for the years to come. As I settled on her bed, I can remember fighting back a wave of anger at the tiny silver wrapped packages I had brought up for her from her truck. I wanted to blame them for the pain they were causing me, but as I had growled out on the ride to her house, I knew that no one at Mike Newton's house would have had the urge to drain the blood from Bella's body because of some accident she had suffered. The gifts were an easy target rather than the true guilty party, me.

My wallowing must have shown on my face as she entered her room that night. I can remember her climbing into my lap and snuggling close to me in an attempt to distract me. It might have worked had I been human, but my vampire mind could still process the guilt and self loathing. However I did push it towards the back of my mind and just focused on her for a moment. Memorizing her scent, her warmth, and the way she felt in my arms. I soaked up every second with her, knowing that our time was limited and I would eventually have to pull away.

I know she was annoyed with me for unwrapping the last of her presents for her when she requested I let her have them, but after the night's events I could not bear a repeat performance. It was not her fault, although my memory of my human life is fairly dim I suspect even I suffered numerous paper cuts; it was a common enough injury for a human. However, I could not bear to allow the monster in me to be tempted.

I should have let her open those gifts herself and feigned some excuse to leave her right then. The joy in her face at the idea of taking me with her to Jacksonville, or the happy tears that flowed down her cheeks at the sound of the music compositions I had recorded for her was almost unbearable. As always I could not read her mind, but I could picture the plans she was making for us, plans that I could not allow her to make.

I wanted so much to share her plans, but I was a monster and knew my future could not cross with hers. However, the look of love shining in her eyes almost willed me to stay. Panicked that my will was crumbling under the gaze of my beloved, I asked her if her arm was hurting her, hoping to bring back the reason I had to leave her and fight back the temptation to stay.

I leaped at the chance to get her some Tylenol. Even as I found the necessary pills for her, I found myself considering leaving right then. I could be at my house before she even realized I was gone and I could have myself and my family packed and away before she could reach me. I might have left and made a clean break of it, but I was greedy for a few more stolen moments.

Just being near her made me happy and I knew if I was going to endure a lifetime away from her I needed to enjoy this last night. I had not intended on the kiss she gifted me with, clearly trying to distract me from the bleak mood I could not hide from her. I tried to be careful, but as the knowledge that this could be our last kiss hit me I felt another wave of panic wash over me. My lips grew more insistent against hers and my fingers instinctively tangled in her hair, holding her to me. I was clinging to this minute of bliss, willing it to never end. However the feel of my venom pooling in my mouth as a reaction to her scent brought back reality and I gently pushed her away. She was too lost in bliss to see the pain in my eyes as I fought back the flashes of images from her birthday party. By the time her pulse and breathing had calmed down, I was able to compose myself enough to urge, "Try to sleep, Bella."

Laughably she asked me to kiss her again and my self control was put to the test. It was all I could do to stop myself from granting her wish, especially since I knew my seconds with her were numbered.

"Which is tempting you more, my blood or my body?" She challenged my control, forcing me to fight back a groan of longing and the urge to drag her towards me. She honestly had no idea what sweet torture she was presenting me with, for I certainly longed for both. I wanted to smile at her terrible joke, but given what had happened this night it was not funny. Her comment just served to remind me of all the reasons why I needed to leave her. I did hunger for her body, blood, and most importantly soul. However, none of those I could rightfully take from her. She deserved more and that was the thought that rang in my head as she snuggled against me and fell asleep.

Again, I had a chance to leave her, to escape into the night while she could not stop me, but weakness kept me with her. I held her cradled against me that night, taking in more stolen moments: the feel of her against me, the peaceful look on her face as she settled into dreams, and the soft murmurs of my name that fell from her lips as the night passed by. I'm not sure how I managed to keep my face smooth when she awoke that morning. I knew my time was up with her and it was all I could do to slip out of her room without taking her with me.

However weakness kept me at Forks and with her that day. I could have skipped school and town that very morning. At the time I told myself I was only staying to gently let Bella go, but I was staying for myself. I greedily clung to the moments with my beloved as I pretended that I could convince her to turn from me, herself. However, the more I pushed the more she seemed to cling to me. She could have made things easier if she told me to leave. I would not deny that request, but as much as I longed to keep her, she seemed equally determined to keep me. I quickly realized my false plans to let her go gently would not work. If Bella and I were to part, I would have to make that break.

If I was human, last night certainly would have killed me. I forced myself away from her bedroom and spent the night pacing agitatedly outside of her house. I'd like to say that I was doing better tonight, merely lurking in the shadows around her home, but I am simply too defeated to move at this point. I cannot put this off anymore. I will have to make the break from her tomorrow and it will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do. I would gladly take the pain of my vampire transformation a thousand times if I did not have to do this.

Bella's human mind will not understand why I must do this, I know it, but I also know her human mind will eventually heal. She'll forget this, forget me, while I suffer from my memories of her. However it cannot be helped. I am a danger to her and I will not allow that. She is safer in Forks without me and the rest of my Vampire family. This town can certainly hold no other horrors for her once we are gone. She can be happy and safe.

I cannot be a coward about this any longer and there is no time to stall, but stall I will for one more lonely night. Once again I will not join her in her room this evening, but will maintain my vigil in these shadows. I have to get used to this, for my existence from now on will be without her. Tomorrow I must force the split I have put off for far too long.

Even now as I have resolved myself to this decision a sigh of defeat escapes me. I cast another glance at her lighted window, the beacon that beckons me to join her. "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" I repeat my whispered words from before. "It is the East and Bella…" I can cast Bella as the heroine of the love story for that is what she is, but as I should not be here I am merely the spare character, Paris, interfering in her quest for true happiness, her quest for Romeo.

Like Paris I long for Juliet's affections. However, if nothing else that alone should drive my actions tomorrow. The story is Romeo and Juliet, not Paris and Juliet. Had I died in 1918 as I should have, like Paris, I would have not been meant for this Juliet. So although it pains me I know Bella deserves love from her Romeo and I could never bring myself to deny her that love. I will not force Juliet to settle for Paris when she can have her Romeo.