Under Her Spell…
A/N This goes with the final part of chapter 9 (I put a Spell on You) of La canzone della Bella Cigna. If you haven't read it, this won't make much sense. Thanks to NelsonSmandela for the on-the-road beta!
Don't own Jaques, Nina, Edward.
youtube (dot) com/watch?v=TI8F6DbB2cE
Ne Me Quitte Pas, by Jaques Brel (sung by Nina Simone, translated crappily by yrs trly)
Ne me quitte pas / don't leave me
Il faut oublier / have to forget
Tout peut s'oublier / all you can forget
Qui s'enfuit deja / it's over already
Oublier le temps / forget the times
Des malentendus / of misunderstandings
Et le temps perdu / and the lost time
A savoir comment / to know how
Oublier ces heures / to forget the hours
Qui tuaient parfois / which sometimes kill
A coups de pourquoi / the reasons why
Le coeur du bonheur / the heart of joy
Heart of joy.
Nina Simone is taunting me from beyond the grave with some harsh truths, and Bella won't go to sleep. It shouldn't matter, because I am not going up there tonight. I will keep her safe from here, down in the shadows of her house. Of course, it's easier to protect someone when you can see her. I can barely hear her heartbeat, and her whisper is too soft even for my ears, eclipsed by the sad song coming from her window.
Now I just want her to go to sleep, to speak. To say my name again, with a sweet sigh, as she never will again if she truly realizes what I am.
How careless I've been. As many times as I've slipped, as close as I've come to staying to watch her eyes open in the morning, it's almost like I want her to know. If she knows, and fears me, this will end. If she tells me to go, even from the depths of her subconscious mind, I will leave her and never return. It used to be my biggest fear—that Bella would find out what I am. I knew that the moment she saw me as a vampire, the trust and fascination always lingering in her fine expression would melt into terror and disgust.
Now I am not so sure, and my carelessness shifts in intent as well. She told him—yes, used that word—told Jacob Black right here in this forest. Not far from where I stand, she actually said that even if I were a vampire, she would rather kiss me above him or anyone else. She said it. Did she mean it? That odious, rude, loathsome boy believed her. What I would have given to be able to hear her thoughts just then. What I would have given to silence his.
She's been circling around the truth ever since that night in the alley when I fought the vampire who ran away before I could find out who he was. He did terrify and disgust her. She dreams of him sometimes, shaking with fear; she calls out for me to help her. God help me, but I go to her every time. I cannot bear the thought of her sleeping when I'm not around, in case she has a nightmare, and I'm not there to save her from him. Even if it is only in her sleep, I have to save her. This is my excuse. I started watching over her to protect her from him. When he didn't return, I told myself he could be aware of my careful watch and waiting for his chance. I haven't picked up a trace of his scent since that night, but he still hunts her in her dreams. I would be there to stop him every time. Amazing how devoted I've become, considering how we began. Even with my perfect memory, it's difficult to remember what it felt like when I didn't trust her.
I am long past thinking she could be a plant, some lure sent here by the Volturi to bring me under Aro's control. Carlisle had made some subtle inquiries, and there was no known way for anyone to predict who another vampire's singer might be. For a while I thought she could have been sent to me for her confounding talent, but I have no way of knowing if she would be as silent to Aro as she is to me.
I once suspected her to be as ruthlessly ambitious as her teacher, but her love of music doesn't come from the ego. I strongly doubt she's prepared for the success for which Professor George grooms her. Every suspicion I had about her true nature dissolved when I saw her with her classmate, bringing her gently out of panic. I couldn't read Bella's mind, but Angela's was an accurate enough measure. Bella had no reason to help her, besides compassion. Angela had fallen asleep in class, and when she awoke she had truly been in despair over the certain loss of her scholarship. In that moment, Bella was her angel, saving her from the death of her most treasured dream.
Now it's my turn to play angel for her, even if what I'm saving her from is my most treasured dream: Bella with me, as my mate. Bella like me, black eyes instead of brown, embracing Carlisle and Esme as father and mother, hunting with me and her blood calling to me no longer. There will be no monster version of Bella. She is too good for my fate.
I hear the familiar sound of an old German engine as a car approaches her street, and climb the tree once more to hide in the branches. Her window is open, just a crack, but the curtains are obscuring my sight. I can see her silhouette, bending over her bed, taking something out of a box. I inhale her post-shower scent. Delicious, warm Bella.
I know the car before I see it. Lovesick Jacob Black has driven past her house twice tonight, filled with jealous curiosity, about me.
I cannot help but feel shameful, delightful satisfaction at his thoughts. It's his turn to wonder if I kissed her, and whether or not she liked it. I can see her in his mind's eye as he crossed paths with her earlier in the day. Surprise at seeing her in elegant clothes and subtle makeup. Curiosity about her excitement, and finally jealousy as he correctly guessed she was going to see me. He stares longingly at her window, but does not stop.
Silence, except for the whisper of the trees, and the vanishing engine as the horrid boy drives away. Yes, go. Run along.
My own music now, for her. This is how she feels safe enough to go to sleep.
I keep my promise and stay in the tree, listening for her steady breath and heartbeat. Soon, however, I hear her moan faintly. Could she have a fever? I knew she wasn't warm enough. It's all my fault.
Without consciously making the decision, I am in her room. I am at her side, inhaling her scent, my lips hovering just over hers. Her hair is wild, dark, and swirling against the white pillowcase. Her cheeks are flushed.
I won't touch her. Except to check for fever.
I will only watch her. Watch over her, that is. To keep her safe.
and you are pure beside me as a sleeping ember
She is. So warm, warmer than most, my little coal-bright girl in her faded t-shirts, blankets up to her chin.
"Edward," she says in her honey-thick sleep-talking voice. "The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses."
An invisible cord binds me to this girl. Lust, and thirst, and now this. I will not say the word. I am not worthy of the word. I want to offer it to her in my way—from a distance. I move back to settle in the chair like so many times before, and look out the window at the moon shining through leaves. I want to hide a thousand paper cranes in the tree outside her window. I will guard her from here in this chair. Protect her.
She moans now … "Edward …" Her slightly open mouth hypnotizes me.
Without consciously making the decision to move, I am kneeling next to her again. Finding myself too close, I pull away just in time, again. This is getting ridiculous. I need to control this need to have my mouth on hers.
I'm playing with fire, my little ember.
Even in her sleep, she looks disappointed. She frowns stubbornly and reaches for me, her arms dragging against the weight of her dreams.
The blanket falls away, and I cannot help but gasp.
My mother sends me embarrassing lingerie, she says in my memory.
Embarrassing? No, elegant, seductive. She is exquisite—no longer a girl; she is a woman, an enchantress. In this silk and lace, she looks more erotic than she could if she were naked. At least I think so, until she suddenly reaches down and takes the damned thing off entirely. I try to look away, but the deep blue shadows of the room in the moonlight make her skin glow, and her subtle, sensual beauty has me transfixed.
The dream has her, and her pulse is wild, frantic. It's clear by her movements and soft sounds she dreams of me, making love to her. I feel sick with envy, as absurd as that sounds. I am so insanely jealous of my dream self that I do not stop her as she moves instinctively into my arms.
"Bella," I sigh, straining to keep my touch light as a feather. I cannot keep from touching her. Her skin is so warm, soft and responsive to my touch in sleep as it was when she was awake. I bury my face in her hair and inhale her natural perfume. I always thought vampires couldn't get intoxicated, but I was wrong. I am drunk with Bella.
This is wrong. This is so wrong, I think, as she writhes slowly against my hands. I must stop. I must move away.
She moves abruptly, swerving her hip, and my hand is there. Only for an instant, my hand touches where I've never touched another creature in my life. I pull back reflexively, as if I touched fire … if fire were hot and slick and silky.
Stop. This is so wrong. I am a monster, and now an incubus. I cannot let this happen to her. Not Bella. Not like this, not even with me.
If we're going to be together, she must at the very least be awake for it. Now I'm just giving her more secret reasons of why she should hate me. I force my hands to her shoulders to anchor me as I try to regain control over warring impulses.
She exposes her throat to me, eyes closed but moving beneath her silky lids, and once again my lips hover, nearly tickled by the whooshing rush of blood beneath the fine, warm skin. Her scent, her scents, overwhelm me, compete for my attention, and the traitorous thought comes unbidden for the first time since we were introduced.
Nobody would know. You could take her, then drain her. Why suffer?
Life-stealing, paralyzing, vampire-making venom floods my mouth again.
Or turn her and make her yours. Forever yours, and no one else's.
An image of a transformed vampire-Bella, in much the same state of undress as this warm, vibrant, lovely girl in my arms tortures me. Am I really so selfish? Yes. My lips pull back from my teeth, and I feel the irresistible draw of my singer.
"Edward, love. Let me touch you." Her hands move, sleep-heavy, but not enough to touch me this time.
I take her hips and place her firmly back tucked in her bed, quickly as I can. I move to put her gown back on for her, but the moment I touch the smooth silk, I know I do not have the strength to put it back on her and still leave her.
"Forgive me, my Bella" I sigh, cover her with the blanket and dash outside, quickly as a whisper, full of regret. I'm such a monster that I can't even trust myself to give her a chaste kiss on the forehead. As I shut the window nearly all the way, she murmurs.
"And now you are mine."
I know. But you shouldn't be mine.
The thought is almost physically painful. I came to her on the pretext of protecting her, but who protects her from me? Seventy years ago, it could have been Ephraim Black and the others.
The wolf in Jacob Black lies dormant, but I can still smell it in him. Would the dog lie sleeping if he sensed my presence, threatening the woman he loves? I imagine a changed Jacob, now taller and muscled as his ancestors, but just as obnoxious as he is today.
If he drives by again, I'm going to take out a tire.
The hell I can't protect her. I will. Protecting her now means hunting. It means staying far enough away that I won't touch her, and close enough so that nothing can hurt her, not even me.
Ne me quitte pas.
Her scent lingers in my mind and on my body. There are more than enough reasons to kill the heart of joy, but my little ember of hope refuses to be snuffed out, as long as she sighs my name in her sleep.
I cannot lose her now.