Finding the Beauty in the Beast

Written for the ONCE UPON A TWILIGHT CONTEST


Title: Finding the Beauty in the Beast

Author: Oxygen. and .Cucumber

Rating: T

POV: Bella's

Word Count: 9710

Summary:Ten years ago Edward Cullen was a very different man from the one Bella married. Ten years ago, he was broken, scarred and disfigured, and had stopped believing in true love. But with Bella, he found his own happy ending. – Written for the OUATC –


Present Day

"Momma, can you tell me a story?" the little girl called from inside her bed, the duvet so high that only her face was visible beneath the mound of covers.

"Which one sweetie?" her mother came and sat on the end of her bed, resting a hand gently against her daughter's cheek.

"A fairytale!" she exclaimed, her eyes alight with excitement.

The mother sighed contentedly, pulling her daughter onto her lap as she lay back against the headboard, curling her arms around her daughter's stomach. "One with ogres and princes and magic?"

"Not ogres," the little girl shook her head, frowning slowly as she looked up from her lap to her mother's adorning eyes.

She pondered for a moment. "Shall I tell you a real fairytale?"

"Yes!"

"You have to listen very carefully," the mother warned teasingly, "because this fairytale is a different kind. It's not about 'love at first sight'; you know what that is?"

The girl nodded understandingly.

"It's about two people-"

"Do they have names?"

"Would you like to give them names?"

She nodded again, a smile playing across her lips. "The girl is called Bella and the man is called Edward."

"But Nessie-"

"Yes?"

"Those are mommy and daddy's names!"

She giggled to herself, "They're pretty names."

The mother touched the top of her nose with her fingertips, smiling warmly down at her daughter as she smiled back, mirroring her expression. "So, no ogres?"

She nodded forcefully, and the mother made a mental note to herself that she was afraid of them. She'd have to warn Emmett, seeing as his last present was ogre related…. perhaps that's why she was afraid?

"Are you ready Ness?"

"Almost!" she giggled in excitement, taking two white fluffy pillows and propping them up beside her, and then lining up her seven teddies in the bed next to her. She beamed back at her mother, diving deeper into her lap with a teddy snugly under her arm. "Now I am!"

She took a deep breath, knowing that regardless of whether her daughter had fallen asleep or not, she was going to try her best to keep talking.

It was a while since she'd reminded herself too.

"Once upon a time…"


Ten Years Ago

"Dad, can you please get a restraining order on James or something? He is driving me insane!" I groaned in exasperation as I threw my bag down onto the table, slumping in the arm chair next to my dad.

"He'll stop eventually Bells. He just likes you."

I slammed a hand over my face, scrunching my eyes shut. "I guess I could always say that I was dating Alice."

"I'll get a restraining order," my dad said quickly, and as I looked up from my hands to see whether he was telling the truth, I saw him staring – amused – back at me. He was lying.

Great.

"Well, when he comes knocking on my door tonight asking me on a date, you can answer it. And tomorrow, when he asks me to marry him, you can tell him to get lost."

"He wants to-"

"Dad, we've been through this. I wouldn't want a restraining order if I didn't feel that my personal space was being seriously threatened by a boy that doesn't understand the words I don't like you or leave me alone."

"Bells, a restraining order isn't necessary. He'll go away; trust me."


Present Day

"Mommy, what's a restraining order?" Nessie scrunched her nose at the word, frowning slowly as her mother reminded herself that this was only a fairytale, and that she was going to have to rephrase how she talked.

"If there's someone you really don't like, you can get one and it means they have to stay away from you."

She sighed happily. "Can I get a restraining order on Uncle Emmett?"


Ten Years Ago

"Fine dad, I trust you," I muttered in defeat as I trudged up to my bedroom, figuring out new ways to get him to leave me alone. He'd been following me around since third grade, and back then, I hadn't thought anything of it; until he started leaving love notes in my locker and flowers on my table.

"Oh Bells?" my dad called up the stairs suddenly, as if he'd forgotten something.

"Yeah?"

"Did you see Dr Cullen's son at school today?"

"I didn't realise he was there."

"He'd just started today," Charlie explained, "and I think it'd be nice for him to have someone to talk to."

"Hang on," I frowned, putting my hands on my hips. "Did I hear you correctly? You want me to talk to a boy? You never want that!"

He turned red, putting his hands in his pocket. "I just think it would be a nice gesture Bella."

"Did you hear that he was infertile or something?"

"Bella," he cut me off before I could say anything else, giving me a stern look as I smiled sheepishly. "There was an incident last summer on the main road out of Forks, where five cars collided together. I'm sure you remember that?"

I shuddered, knowing all too well that my best friend Jacob had been in that mess. He lost two fingers off his left hand and broke all the bones in left side. He was in hospital for almost half a year.

"Dr Cullen's son was in that."

I gasped, my eyes widening. "Is he OK?"

Charlie shook his head. "He didn't lose anything major…"

"Except?"

"Well, I'll just say that his face is a bit messed up. But can you look past that Bella? Please? Because I don't think that a lot of the kids at your school will."

"Sure dad," I promised, sending him one final smile as I said goodnight, and shut the door of my room, quickly getting dressed into my pyjamas.

The crash had been what defined that year; three teenagers, two men and one woman. I'd never wanted to know the finer details, despite Jacob's insistent descriptions of it. Apparently one of the cars spun out of control and crashed into Jacob's, which caused him to spin into the other three.

No one died thankfully, but the downside of it was that Charlie put off me getting a driving licence for another year.

*

In the morning, after spending the entire night dreaming of James thrusting more pink love letters into my locker, I was officially wound up.

"Phone Bella!" my dad shouted up the stairs.

"Who is it?"

"You've got one guess."

"Tell him I'm in the shower!" I called back down, grabbing a pair of jeans and a shirt, swapping them for my pyjamas quickly.

I didn't have to wait long for my dad to come and talk to me. It happened every time James called. "Bells, for all you know he could be a nice boy."

"Dad, stalkers don't make nice boyfriends."


Present Day,

"Momma, why didn't she like James?"

"Because he wasn't a very nice man," the woman explained softly, touching the side of her cheek. "He may have looked nice, and he was very handsome and popular, but inside," she pressed her hand gently to her daughter's heart. "That's what matters more Nessie. The person you are inside."

"Am I a pretty person inside momma?"

The woman clutched her daughter closer to her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "Of course you are baby."


Ten Years Ago

His face turned red as he tried to come up with a good reply. "Why don't you at least try?" he suggested timidly, and I grabbed my pillow off my bed, throwing it into his face.

"Don't be ridiculous. You sound like you willingly want me to go out with some disgusting, filthy minded stalker!"

"Truce!" he shouted over my rants, slamming my door shut as I collapsed against my bedroom floor, throwing a hand over my eyes.

What was I going to do with my life?

*

"Hey Angela," I bumped her shoulder as I stopped by her locker.

"Bella," she smiled as she saw me, putting the last of her books into her bag. "How've you been?"

"Apart from surviving my stalker phone calls?" I asked seriously. "I've been good." She laughed with me as I saw James walking down the corridor towards me. He was almost in earshot.

"You need to tell him to leave you alone."

"Don't you think I've tried?" I whispered to her, now realising that he could hear us if we didn't talk quieter.

Then, a plan formed suddenly in my mind, and I stood up straight, letting a smirk slip onto my lips. "So Ang," I said smugly, and she stared back at me, confused. "Jake asked me over to his again."

I widened my eyes slightly, begging her to play along with my gaze, and as James passed us slowly, still listening to our conversation, she quickly realised what I was trying to do.

"That must be the fourth time this week, right?" she asked, pretending to be shocked as my grin widened.

"I really like him."

She giggled with me as James stormed down the corridor, his bag clutched so tightly in his fingers that you could see the whites of his hands.

"Thank you," I breathed, leaning back against the wall as he disappeared around the corner. "I'm running out of ways to get rid of him."

Then, I felt someone wrap their arms tightly around my stomach, and I screamed suddenly as they lifted me off my feet, spinning me around and pressing me against their chest.

"So apparently you really like me?" Jake asked questioningly as I whacked his shoulder, pushing him away from me.

"You were just part of the plan."

He pouted, tears suddenly welling up in his eyes. I had no idea how he managed to pull off that expression, but I was putty in his hands every time. "I do really like you Jake," I comforted him, hugging him tightly. "You're one of the best friends I've ever had."

He smiled into my shoulder. "Thank you Bells."

*

The bell rang for the next lesson, and I was revelling in the thought of having double biology with a spare seat next to me. For the past three years I'd been sharing the table with Mike Newton, who was an equivalent of James, apart from the fact that he actually understood English and eventually left me alone when I asked for the millionth time.

So it was a bit of a shock for me when I walked into the classroom to see someone sitting in the empty chair next to mine. All I could see was a mess of bronze hair, and the top of a very pale forehead.

"Miss Swan," Mr Banner stood next to me, his voice lowered. "Mr Cullen is new to this class and I would appreciate it if you would share a book with him for this lesson."

"Of course," I replied, making my way towards the table at the back and taking my seat next to me.

"Right class, if you could all turn to page thirty seven?" Mr Banner began the lesson, and it wasn't long before he set us some work to get on with for the next hour.

"Here," I passed the book towards the boy next to me, opening it up between us. He still hadn't looked at me or met my gaze. "I'm Bella," I introduced myself, hoping to extract an answer from him, or at least a glance in my direction.

He tensed at the sound of my voice being aimed towards him, and if anything, it only made him slip lower in his seat.

"I only know you as Mr Cullen… do I get to know your first name?" I tried again, ignoring the biology questions in front of me.

"Edward," he muttered under his breath, his face still concealed by his bronze hair.

"So, do you like it here in Forks?"

There was a short pause as I waited for his answer, and in that time his eyes flickered once to mine through his fringe of bronze hair. "Sure," he replied monosyllabically, and I sighed in frustration. Despite my efforts, he was refusing to have more than a one word conversation with me.

"Do you have any brothers or sisters?"

"No."

"Any pets?"

"No."

I sighed again, spinning my pen between my fingertips as I tried to think of a question that could provoke perhaps a three word answer from him?

"What are your parents called?" That would mean that he'd have to say at least three words.

"It doesn't matter. They're dead," he said bluntly, before spinning around in his chair to face me.

Before I even had time to register his words, his dark green eyes were boring back into mine, his lips twisted upwards into a cold, cruel smile. He flicked his hair off his face, moving it so that I could see the large scars running down the right hand side of his cheek. "Please stop asking me questions."

I froze, unable to speak as I continued to stare at him. I knew it was wrong.

But unlike the majority of people here at high school who claimed to have a complicated life, he could speak those words with truth. He'd lost his parents. He'd lost the right side of his face in a car accident. He'd almost died.

And in those few seconds, I knew more about him than Jessica or Mike, or even James; people I had known for most of my life.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, finally managing to choke out the two words, and he nodded once in recognition before turning back to the questions.

*

"Have you seen Dr Cullen's son?" Jessica asked me, struggling to hide her smile. "I caught a glimpse of his face in calculus. That must have been a serious crash for it to leave him so messed up like that."

I'd managed to tone out her voice a while ago, and as we entered the lunch room together, I was entirely set on the idea of leaving her to tag along with Mike whilst I tried to find Angela and Jacob.

"God," she giggled quietly to herself. "He doesn't even have anyone to sit with."

Jessica was seriously getting on my nerves and I turned to face her, my gaze void of all emotion. "That can always change." And without a second thought, I left her standing in the entrance and made my way towards his table.

"I'm not going to ask you any questions," I promised as I dumped my tray down on his table. He flinched at the sound, and his gaze flashed up to mine. "I'm sorry about what happened in biology, but you didn't have to use your face as a way of scaring me so that I didn't ask you anything else. It doesn't matter to me what you look like, and if you don't want me to ask you anymore questions, I won't." I grabbed an apple and bit into it, not looking up to see his expression.

"Thank you," he replied simply, and I smiled at his words, before we continued sitting together for the rest of lunch, a comfortable silence filling the air between us.

That moment was six months ago.

*

Our relationship quickly progressed to friendship, and he became someone that I trusted and relied on. Not only to help me through the monotony of school life, but to keep me on the right track too.

He was also someone I trusted to keep James' ever increasing hints of dating, romance and marriage away from me. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary if I found an engagement ring in my locker, regardless of the fact that I'm only seventeen.

The whispers had eventually died down about his appearance, and he was starting to gain more confidence, sometimes even pushing his hair completely off his face when he talked to me.

The scars didn't shock me as much as when I first saw them. They were part of who he was; part of his suffering, and without them, he wouldn't have been the same person.

He still remained reclusive, and sometimes reluctant to open up or talk to me. I'd hoped that over time it would get better, but he still tried to keep his eyes glued to the floor when he was talking, or sit as low as possible in his chair so that he appeared almost invisible.

But his personality wasn't what scared me the most.

Regardless of his sanity being a little distorted at times, and his behaviour classed as almost 'dangerous', there was something bigger that frightened me.

And that was how I felt towards him.

"Bells, have you seen Leah?" Jake asked beside me, jolting me out of my thoughts. He'd just started dating Leah about two weeks ago, and I couldn't have been happier for the two. Whilst Leah was bitter, sarcastic and temperamental, Jake was steady, fun and a generally happy character to be around. I guess it's true that opposites do attract.

"No, I'm sorry," I bit down on my lip. "Have you seen Edward?"

He frowned, raising a finger to his chin. "I saw him outside about an hour ago…" he smiled sadly. "Sorry, I know that doesn't help much."

"It's OK," I smiled back, hoping down from the wall I was sitting on. "Sorry I couldn't help about Leah."

"Sure. Catch you later Bells."

Edward was also known for disappearing during lunch breaks. I never questioned him about where he went, but it became a quest for me each time he disappeared. No one else wanted to miss their lunch to search for a broken, empty body of a person.

He'd told me that his adopted parents had tried persuading him to go to therapy or get some professional help, but he didn't want any of it.

He'd almost died in the same event that killed his parents, and that wasn't something that he could just forget. To him, he just accepted it, and learnt that if he no longer had any control over his emotions or how he felt, he had to accept that too.

Obviously, I always disagreed with him.

"Edward?" I called into an empty classroom, glancing towards the black darkness underneath the desk. Last time I'd found him hiding underneath the basketballs in the gym storage cupboard.

Not here.

I trundled outside, my shoulders slumping as a cold breeze swept through my face.


Present Day

"Momma, why did Edward need therapy?" the girl frowned slightly in confusion as she ran over the details of the story in her head. "He sounded nice."

"He was very unpredictable," the woman pulled her daughter's hair through her fingertips. "You could never tell what he was going to be like. One minute he could be nice, and the next he could be scary."

She nodded, turning around in her mother's arms. "He sounds like Aunty Alice. Does Aunty Alice need therapy?"

"Of course she doesn't," the woman laughed quietly, pulling her daughter closer to her.

The little girl smiled contentedly, relaxing back against her mother as she waited for her to continue.


Ten Years Ago

"Edward?" I tried calling again into the trees behind the car park, and once again, I got no reply. I sighed in frustration, turning towards the sports field.

It was completely deserted, and I smiled dryly, realising that this was perfect for him.

"Edward, come on, I know you're here somewhere."

And then, my heart froze inside of me as I heard a spine chilling scream rip through the air. I sprinted towards the voice, slipping down the slope of the field as I ran away from the school.

"Bella!" the voice screamed once more.

Oh hell.

It was Angela.

It didn't take much for my initial shock to increase tenfold, because after her desperate cry another voice spoke – something deeper, more masculine.

"You have to be quiet!" Edward pleaded hoarsely, his voice dry and rough.

I could see three bike sheds in front of me, and I knew that they were in one of them. I'd been a fool to think that it was fine for me to be around Edward.

I pushed the first door of the shed open, but there was no one inside. When I tried the second, it was jammed shut.

"Angela, are you in there?"

"Bella!" she cried at the sound of my voice, and she pounded on the door, the vibrations close to my hand. Edward had Angela locked in a bike shed.

"Edward, open the door."

"Bella, leave me alone."

"I'm not leaving until you open this door, and if you don't, God help me I'll go and get my dad."

"You wouldn't-"

"Try me."

The lock clicked on the other side of the door, and as I stepped inside, Edward pressed Angela back against the wall, her mouth pressed into the wood, preventing her from speaking.

"Close the door Bella."

I did so obediently, knowing that the only way to get him to let go of Angela was to do as he said. "Edward, let go of Angela."

"No."

"Please Edward," I lowered my voice, speaking gently to him; like a mother would do to a child. "You don't want this, just let her go."

"No."

Angela whimpered in fear under his grasp, a tear slipping down her face. I had to keep my anger in check, because right now, he could hurt her.

"Why did you choose Angela?"

"I wanted someone to talk to."

"Edward, you could have asked. Maybe sat in a classroom together?"

"She wouldn't talk to me."

"Edward," I pleaded. "Look at her! You're scaring her."

"I needed someone Bella," he said simply, his face void of all emotion.

He wanted someone… just to talk to, or sit by for a while; just a simple gesture like that, to know that someone cared. But in wanting that reassurance, he had used force.

And the only way to protect both of my friends was to offer myself.

"Edward, let Angela go."

"No, I-"

"I'll sit with you," I said gently. "Just let her go."

"Bella-" Angela tried to say, but my gaze flashed to hers, begging her to keep quiet. We were both walking on thin ice, and I knew that if something provoked Edward, it wouldn't take long for that ice to shatter.

"You promise to stay with me?" Edward asked brokenly, his disfigured face crumpling with panic. The Edward I loved was still there, fighting behind the memories of his past, and I took a deep breath, nodding fiercely as his grip loosened on Angela.

Without another word, Edward threw the door of the bike shed open and pushed Angela outside. She glanced once to me, her eyes asking every question that she couldn't say.

"Tell no one," I whispered. If anyone could bring Edward back into reality, it had to be me. I was the only one he truly listened to, and the only one who understood him for the broken soul he was.

Angela disappeared silently as Edward slammed the door shut, turning the key as the lock clicked.

My heart was thudding dangerously fast inside my chest as fear rose in the pit of my stomach. "You wanted to talk," I prompted him, trying to hide the panic from my eyes.

He crossed the room without another word, his face hidden from me by a shield of bronze hair as he curled up in the corner of the shed, the key of the door gripped tightly in his fingers, his forehead pressed against his knees. It was almost as if he was protecting himself.

It was time to try and reach him.

I moved across the floor towards him, putting a hand against his knee as he shuddered away from my touch. "Why did you force Angela here Edward?" I asked quietly, as his gaze flickered upwards from his lap.

"She didn't want to go with me."

"Then you should have found me. I'll always listen Edward."

"You wouldn't have gone."

I raised my eyebrows, "I'm here now aren't I?"

He moved his knee slightly so I was no longer touching him. "You can sit in the corner," he said coldly, his eyes becoming aloof and distant.

I pursed my lips, debating on what to do. In the past I had always used a strong emotion to get him out of these… trances – for lack of a better word.

"Don't tell me what to do."

His mouth opened a little, and he froze against the wall, staring back at me as his retort died on his lips. "Sit in the corner." His voice almost sounded like a question.

I rolled my eyes purposefully; hoping to trigger an emotion inside of him as I moved so that I was sitting in front of the bike shed door rather than the corner.

I pushed the door slightly, testing to see whether he had actually locked it, but it never even budged.

"Sit in the corner," he repeated, and I had half a mind to throw myself into his lap, seeing as that would have been me sitting in the corner. But somehow, I didn't think that would go down too well.

I reached towards a spanner sitting by the window of the shed, throwing it in my hand as I once again debated with myself. By disobeying his orders of where I sat, he'd eventually either give up, or forcefully move me to the corner. But I didn't want to wait on 'eventually'. I wanted something to happen. Now.

Without a second thought, I brought the spanner down on the door, leaving a small hole in the wood.

"Stop that," he growled, and in a flash, he'd crossed the room and tore the spanner out of my hand.

"Let me out." I hissed, my face inches away from his as we glared at each other, both refusing to back down.

"Sit in the corner, or I will take you to the corner."

I spat into his face, waiting for his reaction. I needed his anger.

His hands clamped onto my waist and he pulled me towards the corner, his fingers digging into the sides of my hips. As he tried to put me down, I tightened my arms around his neck, and clung onto him. If I didn't let go, he'd have to sit in the corner too just to get me to obey his orders.

"Edward, you don't want this."

"Don't even try and tell me what I want."

"You don't want me here by force," I suggested. "You want me to be here because I want to be."

"You are here because you want to be," he said so forcefully, that it was as if he was trying to convince himself as well as me. "You could have left Angela, but you chose to swap places."

"I didn't want to see you hurt her."

"I wouldn't have-" he choked into my shoulder as I interrupted him.

"I'd prefer that you hurt me rather than her."

"Bella, I would never…" he trailed off, his eyes wide with terror. "I…" his hands slowly let go of my waist as he sank to the floor, his face whitening. "Why would you sacrifice yourself?" he asked in a horrified whisper.

"She's my friend Edward. I would do the same for you." I vowed, knowing that my self-sacrifice for Edward would have been for entirely different reasons.

This event in the bike shed though had opened my eyes to the person that Edward could be; the damaged and scarred man that only wanted someone to sit beside him for a while.

Just to feel like a small part of him was loved.

But after this – when he had come so close to hurting Angela – I began to doubt whether friendship would be in the equation anymore. It wouldn't go down to well if the same thing happened twice, and my father was called into school to sort it out.

I'd tried to deny my feelings for him, telling myself that it was just lust that I felt for him – but feelings as strong as mine were almost impossible to ignore.

I have to put them aside to think clearly though. I have to do what I think is best for him, rather than base it on what I want.

"Bella, please stay with me," he begged softly, his hands reaching out to grip the bottom of my shirt with his fingers. "Please."

"I can't Edward," I said gently, knowing that I was so close to freedom.

"I need you," a tear slipped out of his eyes, and I reached to brush it away, pressing my lips against his cheek.

"I can't Edward. I'm sorry."

"Bella-"

"Please let me go."

"Bella," he cried openly now, and before I could protest, he engulfed me in his embrace, sobbing desperately into my hair. "Please stay with me. Please. I need you. Bella."

"Edward-"

"I love you!" he howled brokenly, his fingers tightening on my shirt.

I don't know how many nights I'd dreamed of him saying that to me, but right now they meant nothing to me. He didn't mean them.

He just knew what I wanted to hear, and was using them to make me stay.

"I can't," I shook my head, fighting back my own tears of anger and love. The two contrasting feelings should have never gone together, but in my world they were merged as one. "Edward, please let me go."

His hands fell away from my waist, and he crumpled onto the floor, his head buried into his hands, hiding the tears that stained his cheeks. Then, to my disbelief, he reached into his pocket and passed me the key to the bike shed door.

"Edward-"

"Go," he whispered, never raising his eyes from his palms as I stood up, my legs shaking.

"I-"

"Go!" he roared wildly, and I fumbled with the key, trying to put it into the lock before he could change his mind.

As I sprinted away from the bike shed, tears now pouring down my face, I could still hear his broken howl of pain running through my mind, almost as if they were on replay; because I was in love with him.

I hurt him more than I thought possible, and after he admitted to loving me, I left him.

Just like that.


Present Day

"She left him?" her daughter asked in dismay as she stared wide-eyed back at her mother. "But they both loved each other!"

"Nessie, he was dangerous," her mother soothed quickly. "She was afraid of him, and what he could do."

"But he was crying," she pouted.

"Maybe I should tell you a different story…" she suggested uncertainly as her daughter shook her head quickly.

"Keep going momma. I want to hear their happy ending."

"You sure they get one?"

She rolled her eyes as if it was obvious. "Of course they do! It's a fairytale."


Ten Years Ago

I loved Edward Cullen. There, I said it to myself.

But it made little difference.

"Bella!" Someone caught my wrist in their hand as I sprinted past them, pulling me quickly to a stop. "Where have you been? I've looked everywhere for you, and I was beginning to get worried."

Great; it was James. "Cullen locked me in a bike shed," I drawled patronizingly as I rolled my eyes. "Why do you care?"

"I want to marry you Bella."

"Well, I don't want to marry you," I retorted, dashing towards the ladies room. I needed somewhere to calm down and a place that James couldn't follow me into. This seemed like the best solution.

As I shut the door of the bathroom, turning slowly back to the sink, I soon realised that I wasn't alone.

"Angela?" I asked softly as she raised her tear-stained face from her lap, her lip caught firmly between her teeth. "Angela, I'm so sorry." I pulled her into a hug, as she collapsed into another round of tears against my shoulder.

"W-We have to s-say something…" she whispered. "I t-tried to keep him off Bella…"

"I know you did."

"But h-he's so strong!"

"Angela, we can't say anything yet."

"Bella-"

"Hear me out," I pleaded as she slowly took a step back from my embrace, her eyes curious. "He can change the person he is. Believe me. So we need to give him an ultimatum." I paused, waiting for her reaction. "Either he gets therapy, or we tell."

"I don't know…"

"Please Angela." Suddenly the roles were reversed, and I was the one begging. "I don't want to lose him, I just can't! And this seems like the only reasonable way to make things work. I'm not expecting you to ever forgive him, and he's not expecting that either… but we have to try and do something."

"I… have a question." She said after a while of silence, her face deep in thought.

"Shoot."

"Are you doing this because you genuinely think that therapy could change him, or because you love him to much to say goodbye forever?"

I froze as she voiced my feelings. "Both?"

She sighed in defeat. "Fine."

"I'm sorry Angela…" I trailed off as a loud cheer sounded from outside. I raised an eyebrow towards her in curiousity as she moved past me, opening the door of the bathroom.

The hallway was packed.

"Jessica, what's going on?" I grabbed her arm as I saw her, "Why's everyone here on lunch break?"

"James," she answered my question in one simple word.

"Why?"

She giggled smugly to herself. "I guess scar boy's finally getting what was coming to him."

"Jessica, what does James want to do?" I asked her forcefully as the crowd swept us outside and onto the field.

"What do you think?" Jessica asked sarcastically as a voice spoke over the commotion.

"Today, a valued member of our school was hurt by this man. This damaged, hideous thing that was inflicted on us, not even a year ago. This hasn't been the first incident though."

Jessica nudged me with her elbow. "I made up this bit."

"Five other pupils here reported that they have been locked away for at least two hours in a cupboard. Unprovoked and without reason, this is a clear case of his distorted mind, and his unpredictability. It is down to us to do something about this."

No.

No, no…. no!

He was gathering supporters.

I tore out of the crowd before anyone could pull me back. If I got a head start on them, perhaps I could persuade him to leave – to run into the forest before they unleashed the havoc James was planning.

This was my mess to sort out. I was the one who gave away where he was, just so that I could get rid of James.

He was sitting exactly where I left him, knees curled tightly to his chest, his damaged face buried in his arms, and as I saw him, I threw myself down beside him, shaking him. "You have to go," I whispered desperately, clutching onto his shirt as I tried to pull him up so that he was standing.

But he refused to move. "I can't leave."

"Edward, James is bringing everyone here. They'll want to beat you Edward and I can't let that happen!"

"I hurt you Bella," he breathed, his eyes full of unshed tears as he lifted his chin up to look at me. "I deserve anything they give me."

I don't know what made me do it, but in a flash I'd grabbed his face between my fingers and crushed my lips against his.

"I love you," I said forcefully. "And if you love me back you'll get onto your feet and run."

"Y-You love me?" he asked weakly, his voice laced with disbelief. "You…"

"Edward!"

"Come on scar boy," a voice taunted from outside the shed. "Come on beast and face me like a man."

My mouth dropped at the sound of James' voice, and I turned to Edward, my face horror-struck. "He'll hurt you Edward… you have to try and run, please!"

He placed a soft hand against my cheek, and it was in that moment that I realised I had the Edward back that I loved. "I love you too Bella, and if you want it, I'll get on my feet and run. But I will run towards him. I can't hide from this forever."

"Edward-"

He leaned forward and pressed his lips gently to my forehead as he glanced one final time towards me, before stepping outside.

"You locked Bella in a bike shed," James stated coldly, as I stepped out of the shed, moving to stand beside Edward.

James would never hurt me physically. That was something I'd learnt over the past six months. So… if I offered myself again to him by putting myself in front of the two, I could be sure that nothing would happen. Possibly.

"I never meant to hurt her," Edward replied solemnly, putting his hands in his pocket as he faced James.

"She was never yours to hurt in the first place anyway." James sneered. "She's mine."

Yours to hurt? I don't think so. "Shut up James," I snapped bitterly as his gaze whirred round to mine. "I was never yours and I never will be. The only thing stopping me from getting a restraining order on you was the fact that my father thought you might actually be a decent guy. After this, there's nothing stopping me."

"You're lying."

I smirked to myself at the fear in his voice. "No I'm not." I replied smugly, and then, just to provoke him further, I laced my fingers through Edward's.

"Bella, get away from him."

"No."

"I'm not going to hurt you."

"Good," I smiled to myself, standing in front of Edward. "Then this plan should work just fine."

"Bella," Edward breathed against my neck, "I refuse to let you sacrifice yourself again for me. Please, just go and sit inside somewhere. I can look after myself."

"Scar boy, why don't you lock her back in the bike shed so we can settle this one and for all? That girl is mine."

"What do you want Bella?" Edward asked quietly, turning to me as James froze opposite us, his jaw locking. "Do you want James?"

"Of course not," I disagreed. "I want you."

At my words, James laughed bitterly, slowly relaxing. "Don't be absurd Bella." He raised an eyebrow daringly, as the crowd watched us, forming a semi-circle around James. "You can't choose scar boy over me."

I tore my hand out of Edward's, stalking towards James and standing so that I was barely inches away from him. "What do you not understand by the words I don't like you or I hate you? Or even leave me alone? I won't go out with you, I won't date you, I won't kiss you, and I certainly won't marry you."

He sneered, closing the distance between us as he pressed his lips against mine. "You just did sweetheart."

Before Edward could react, I slammed my fist against his jaw and then coiled my knee up and smacked it into his stomach as the air rushed out of him, and he fell to the floor, clutching a hand to his face.

"Bella, I-" Edward said behind me, the words dying on his lips as I left him speechless.

"Let's go," I put my hand into his once more, not sparing a final glance towards the man on the floor as I pulled him away from the crowd and into the forest.


Present Day

"I told you they'd get their happy ending momma," the little girl beamed happily as she hugged her teddy closer to her chest.

"They haven't got it yet," her mother warned. "You remember earlier in the story, when he locked her in the shed?"

The little girl nodded fiercely. "She's still scared of him?"

"Yes," her mother agreed. "And she doesn't want it to happen again."

"Maybe I could have helped her… Uncle Emmett scares me all the time, but you have to make sure that daddy's around, and then he doesn't scare me. Why didn't she ask her daddy?"

"Her daddy was a policeman," the mother explained. "He would have put Edward in jail."

"But he's a nice man!"

"He was a nice man," her mother smiled warmly down at her daughter. "But he was also dangerous."

The little girl pursed her lips, pressing her cheek against the top of her teddy. "Keep going momma," she murmured. "I want to hear their happy ending."


Ten Years Ago

"You shouldn't have done that," he said softly once we were a reasonable distance away from the school.

"I wasn't going to let him hurt you."

"So you'd give yourself up instead?"

"Of course."

His hand dropped away from mine suddenly at the sincerity in my voice, and he turned his face away from mine to look into the darkness of the forest. His fingers curled into fists at his side, and he bowed his head, struggling to control his now erratic breathing. "I'm a bad person Bella."

"Don't be stupid."

"I'm not," he retorted, bringing his fist down on the bark of a tree, his face still turned away from mine. "I'm hideous – just like James said."

"You're not."

"Bella," he breathed, scrunching his eyes tightly together. "I don't deserve you."

"I-"

"You are everything that I want!" he roared suddenly, cutting me off as he spun around to face me, and in a few strides he was standing opposite me, his chest heaving. "You are beautiful, and smart and caring," he frowned to himself. "You – out of everyone – understand me for who I am. You sat down with me at lunch, regardless of what I looked like."

"You deserved someone to sit with you Edward. No one should have to be alone."

He shook his head, fighting back my words as he reached tentatively towards my face, caressing the smooth, unscarred skin of my right cheek. "You're perfect."

I turned my head, pressing a kiss into the centre of his palm. "So are you."

His hand dropped away from my face suddenly at my declaration, and his eyes grew wide with horror. "I'm a monster Bella."

I raised my fingers to his lips, gently tracing the outline of his mouth as he breathed softly across my hand. "You are never a monster Edward. Ever. When you had Angela in the bike shed, you scared me beyond what I can put into words, but I'm still here. I want to help you."

He bowed his head again as his eyes closed, a tear slipping out from under his lashes and onto his disfigured face. "I'll listen," he vowed. "With you Bella, I feel like I'm someone."

"You are someone." I pleaded with him to understand what he was in the world.

"Why… why didn't you stay with me?" he asked uncertainly. "In the bike shed – you left."

"I had to." I murmured, moving my hand to his hair as I pulled his soft bronze hair through my fingers. "If I had stayed… nothing good would have come out of it."

"Bella-"

"Why did you let me go?"

His lips parted, searching for the right words as he stared back at me. "I love you Bella," he whispered. "I had to let you go."

"Thank you…"

He nodded weakly, biting down on his lip nervously. "I keep hurting you Bella."

"Edward," I said seriously, putting both my hands on either side of his face. "Love was never meant to be easy. You know that."

"Do I?"

I didn't want to bring this up, but he was hurting, and it was hard to deny that this was a part of that. "Edward, I know that when you lost your parents you also lost love for a long time." He froze under my hands as he registered my words.

"Don't talk about them," he snapped, taking a step away from me.

"Edward, you need to talk about them!"

"They are gone. I lost that part of my life forever. There is nothing else that needs to be said!"

"There is everything else," I retorted determinedly. "The crash last summer was a recurrence of what happened when they died Edward, and that's something that you can't just get over!"

He roared at my words, turning away from me as he punched his fists into the side of a tree in frustration. "I should have died Bella!"

"If you should have died Edward, you would have been dead by now. And you're not. You survived."

"For what I did Bella," he shook his head in horror. "For that… I should have died."

"Whatever you've done, it would never have your death as a consequence."

"Don't you want to know what happened?" he asked suddenly, his voice cold and unfeeling as I shook my head fiercely, staring back into his stone hard gaze. "Don't you want to know that it was my brakes that stopped working, and my car that lost control? Don't you want to know that it was my car that caused the event?"

"I don't care."

"You-" he choked, loosing the words as he stared desperately back at me. "Bella, I'm a monster. I almost killed four innocent lives!"

"Almost Edward."

"That's not the point!" he spat back at me.

Then, I reached out and slapped him. "Just listen to yourself!" I shouted into his face. "You may have caused it, but everyone survived, and their lives weren't worth any more or less than yours." I exhaled, aggravated. "I'm glad you didn't die Edward, because if you had then I would have never known you."

"Don't you wish that you could change it all?"

"I would never wish that," I shook my head, smiling sadly to myself. "I love you and that's all I know, or really understand. If I had lost the chance to know you, I wouldn't be the same person I am now, and who knows? Maybe someday I finally would have given in to James' advances. Would you have wanted that?"

"Of course not."

"Then don't say that your life isn't worth anything." I pressed my hand against his cheek, now red from where I'd hit. "Your life is beautiful."

He looked down to his feet, hiding his eyes away from me. I wasn't going to let that happen. I lifted his chin up, pushing his hair slowly away from his face as I revealed the long scar running down the right side of his face.

"You're beautiful," I whispered softly, staring ardently back at him.

He shook his head, trying to disagree. "I'm n-"

"You are." I murmured, stroking the side of his face lightly. "Edward, will you…"

"Anything. Ask me, and I'll give it to you."

I took a step towards him, resting my arms against his shoulders. "Will you kiss me?"

His face froze suddenly as he stared back at me, his lips parting. "You-"

"Please."

His gaze wavered suddenly, before his face became determined, his mouth set. He leaned forward slowly, pressing my back gently against the tree as he gazed back at me. "Are you sure?" he whispered, as I nodded, my eyes slipping down to his mouth. His hand curled around the back of my neck, and as he closed the distance between us, moving his lips slowly with mine, I melted into his arms.

In fairytales, they always talked of true love's kiss and I had never believed in it or anything so powerful. But holding him so close, and feeling his body responding to mine, I had no doubt that it existed anymore.

Regardless of the scars covering his neck, and his disfigured face; he was beautiful.

"I love you," I breathed against his mouth, tracing my finger slowly across his shoulder.

"Despite everything?" he asked, his voice pained and broken. I pulled back slightly, standing up on my tiptoes to reach his cheek.

"Despite everything," I promised, leaning forward to press my lips to the deep scar across his forehead as his eyes closed slowly, and he too melted into my arms.


Present Day

"Who was the man mommy?" she opened her eyes, staring intensely back at me. I didn't realise that she'd stayed awake for the whole story.

I pulled her close in my arms, kissing the top of her head as I smiled into her hair. "The man walking into the room right this minute," I whispered as Nessie turned around suddenly in my arms, her eyes fixating on Edward.

"Daddy!" she cried, flinging herself into his arms as he chuckled, picking her up and swinging her round.

"Hey angel."

"It's you!"

"Were you expecting anyone else?" he raised an eyebrow cheekily as she buried her face into his neck.

And then, like I had done in the story, she pulled back from her father slightly, and kissed his cheek boldly. "Mommy said you had a scar there, and I wanted to make it all better."

The only hint that gave his emotions away was the wince of his eyes, but it wasn't long before he smoothed out his face and smiled back at her. "Thank you Nessie. You've both made me so much better."

He carried her to the bed, tucking her under the duvets as he pressed a kiss against her forehead. "I'll see you in the morning."

"M'kay daddy," she whispered sleepily, turning over and pressing her face into the pillows. "Love you."

"Love you too angel," he promised, smiling affectionately to himself as he held his hand out for me to take.

As I linked my hand in his, feeling the smooth palm of his beneath mine, I was full of nothing but love and wonder for my family. Edward had overcome so much since we were both in high school together.

He was eventually persuaded to visit a therapist once a week to help him overcome the loss of his parents, and the accident he too was involved in. Dr Carlisle – his adopted father – then managed to contact a surgeon who repaired the damage on his face.

Over time he regained his confidence, and began to start believing that he was worth something, and that he was beautiful. But to me, he had always been beautiful.

Life taught me that love wasn't judged by appearances or looks. To truly love someone you had to get to know one another, and see beyond each other's flaws. And through life, I learned that beauty is never on the outside.

It is always on the inside.


AN – This piece took me forever to write and ended up being an impressive total of 23 pages on my word document, which is the most I've ever managed to persuade myself to write for just a oneshot.

You've probably guessed that the majority of it is based on Beauty and the Beast, but it's also partially based on a film I watched recently called "Definitely Maybe". If you haven't seen it; rent it, buy it, borrow it – whatever, just watch it!

I'd love to know what you thought of this, and any reviewers are automatically given cookies in return. XD


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