Never Again by Lucie-Madeleine

You know how when you wake up, sometimes you lie in bed with your eyes closed, hoping to go back to sleep, but nothing happens? That's what I was doing. I was lying in bed, curled up in a ball. If this had been ten years ago I would've been sucking my thumb. I was dizzy and sick to my stomach and I couldn't remember why. It felt like I had been asleep for about a year and a half. I took a deep breath in and then I remembered what I had been doing.

My lungs filled and then cramped suddenly, the same old soap-and-detergent mix laced with that sweet, forbidden smell hitting my nose. I bit my lip and scrunched myself further into a ball. Goddamn it. It was exactly how I had remembered. My heart gave a shallow, knifelike beat as it tried to move. I willed it not to.

It was as if I could still feel his cold body curved next to mine, not quite touching, the space between us alive with energy. It was as if I could still sense his gaze as I slept. What twisted, sick senses I had to trick me this way! A tear made its way down my cheek, sliding down my nose, meeting my fist.

I opened my eyes. Was sight to deceive me too? I took in the form lying beside me, breathing quickly, my heart hammering. I rolled over onto my other side to face him. His eyes were as golden and warm as ever, his hair, his lips, his brow- all the same, all going straight to my heart like broken glass. How all occasions do conspire to inform against me. This was my reality, my life before Edward had left. Had I only imagined all of those months? I blinked. Now I could see the purple bruises beneath his eyes, the eyes that were black, not gold. His body that was cold, colder than ever.

He was beautiful, too- beautiful in the majestic, silent way of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic.

"Edward," I breathed, bringing my hand to his jaw. I jerked it away before I had actually touched him, fingertips tingling. My throat tightened with the mention of his name. I wouldn't speak it again. "Don't leave me. I promise I won't wake up- just stay with me." My eyes drifted closed and I sighed and curled up closer to him. I sensed rather than saw his crooked smile, the one that I knew and loved, twisting his lips. He chuckled and kissed my forehead, lips icy and soft all at the same time. It was the first contact we had made, and I shuddered at his touch, my eyes blankly open now, staring at a spot on the wall.

We were connected.

"Bella, you are awake. Let me prove it to you." He responded, moving infinitesimally closer. He slid one finger across my jaw and turned my face to his, leaning in to kiss me. My world was everything that was between our faces, between our bodies. I tilted my face upwards like a flower to the sun. I could feel my senses giving in to everything that I had worked to forget- his touch, his smell, his being. And he had called himself masochistic! I wanted him to kiss me, oh God, that was all I wanted. But I couldn't let him. I pushed his face away.

That was when I knew I must have been dreaming. Of course I would take him back. I'm Bella, and he was- him. That was never even a question. None of it would matter once we were together again, him holding me tight, my body molded to his- like a

hook into an eye. A fish hook. An open eye. The way we were meant to be.

But this was not reality. The frozen form I saw before me, the one whose worried and bewildered expression was etched into his forehead, was not real. This thought gave me the strength to move on. I took a deep breath and slapped him across the face. My palm flushed red and stung. Although I'm sure he could have stopped me, I'd like to think I took him by surprise. His mouth dropped adorably open. I wanted to touch it and catch it between my teeth.

"Bella, I-" He began. I could see different emotions flit across his face before I cut him off. Yeah, he was surprised.

"How could you leave me?" I demanded in a harsh whisper. "How could you do this to me, do you know what I have been through, you sick-" Charlie's snores stuttered, then stopped after my voice raised in both pitch and volume. I lowered my voice and continued. "I have been in hell because of you! You were my life! When you left I felt as though you had ripped out my heart! What are you doing here after all you said? How dare you show your face again! How dare you try and- and kiss me? The only purpose you can serve now is to leave and watch me truly die." I broke off, my voice cracking. No dream had ever felt this real- I was finally face to face with Edward, with Edward. It was him, at last, and now I was really, truly awake and I wanted fucking out.

The pain I had felt months ago was back, and worse, a dragon tearing at my chest and burning fire into my throat. I shook, and he drew me to him again, murmuring my name. I buried my face in his hair, hating myself for my weakness. I took deep breaths, breathing in his smell, filling my lungs with its sweetness, its purity. It burned my lungs. "Bella, I have always loved you. I never stopped loving you, I love you now, and I will love you forever still."

I laughed one short laugh- more like a dry sob. There was nothing funny about what he had just said. "Don't lie, Edward. I'm not a toy you can pick up whenever you're in town. Or are you here to tell me you've changed your mind? Have you decide that you love me again?" Bastard. He gazed at me, his brow now smooth, softly tracing my jaw.

"Dearest Bella, I am not lying." He said, his breath like a kiss. I leaned back to look at him, not quite comprehending.

"But- in the forest- you said-" He smiled sweetly, brushing the hair out of my eyes.

"In the forest I said many things. I regret each one- each one was like a stab in the heart. When I said I didn't love you, it was the very blackest form of blasphemy. I had to leave, for your sake. This was the only way. I had to protect you, Bella. I did this because I love you." He paused, a slight smile curving his lips upwards. "It was hard, but I knew you'd forget me in time. Of course, I never thought it would be that easy, convincing you that I no longer loved you. I was expecting weeks-" My heart seized and sputtered to a stop. He had been what? He stopped mid sentence as he assessed the look on my face. I began to hyperventilate, the room spinning. I felt sick to my stomach.

"You mean you were lying to me?" I shrieked. "This was a lie?" He bit his lip, looking up at me from underneath his lashes.

"Well, yes, but you see, I had to, there was really no other-" I stopped him again with a raised hand. I wrenched myself away from his hold and threw myself to the other end of the bed, my hands knotting and pulling at my hair. I couldn't be near him, not now! How could he smile and tell me that nothing had changed? How could he smile? How could he laugh? He should have been on his knees. Of course it was easy! All I had ever thought was that I wasn't good enough for him. And for him to capitalize on it, knowing my deepest fears? The sick fuck.

Everything had changed. I was the shadow of the girl I used to be, the girl seduced by winging words and caresses. As if more proof was needed, his breath tickling my ear no longer set it on fire but froze it to ice. I had saved him in Italy because there had been no other choice- I couldn't live without him. It wasn't even an option. But I hadn't thought about the afterwards. And now he was repaying me with kisses and caresses? I would have been overjoyed had I not known that he would just leave again.

I was cowering on the opposite side of my too-small bed, my body racked with sobs, as far from him as I could possibly be. He lay still, still as death, his eyes contemplating the ceiling, his jaw sharp and exquisite. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe, the only thing I could sense was that great, unnamable pain that had returned. He was everywhere now- every breath I took drew him into my lungs, even the slightest distance between my foot and his leg crackling with electricity. I couldn't say his name. I couldn't say his name. I couldn't say his name.

But I knew I would let him back into my life- there was no doubt. There was never any doubt. And then, the next time something happened, he would leave, and this cycle would repeat itself. I was stupid but oh I loved him. I loved him. My teeth sank into the fleshy part of my hand and I screamed into my fist. I screamed and screamed and I didn't care that Charlie's footsteps were in the hall, and I didn't care that I might draw blood and I didn't care that I had no excuse to tell Charlie and I didn't fucking care and suddenly Edward wasn't in my bed anymore, and I did care, and I cared because he was gone. I stopped, my teeth buzzing and my head spinning. I squeezed my eyes shut, my hands clamped over my ears, panting. He was gone. Charlie's footsteps faltered, stopped, and then returned to bed. I could hear him sigh, alone, and return to his bed, alone. He was alone, and I was alone. I would face him in the morning.

"Edward," I began. "I know you can hear me. I know you are listening." I stopped and started again. "You were right, that day in the woods, but you didn't know it. Get out. Let me forget you for the last time." I held my breath, waitinghopingpraying oh God Edward-

And suddenly-

"Never," He whispered, pulling me close. "Never again."


Author's Note: Props to you if you can name the two allusions here! Also please note the similarities in Edward's dialogue to what he says in New Moon- obviously it will be the same, I just changed Bella's reaction to it. Please don't be mad or anything, I just got really really mad when in New Moon Edward laughed at Bella when she was insecure and tried to pretend like nothing was wrong. Jackass. In fact, I kind of wanted to slap him. So I made Bella do it! Please review.

-Thank you to Shakespeare and Margaret Atwood, two of my heroes. -