Chapter 5- Edward

The afternoon sun scorched the brown cobblestones underfoot as I stood, leaning against the wall of the clock tower. City sweepers moved to and fro in the harsh heat, gathering piles of red debris from the St. Marcus Day festivities that had just taken place the day before. Staring out from my cool, shaded refuge in the alleyway, I watched as the townspeople moved from place to place, some vising friends and family, some on their way to shops. Children dipped their hands into the fountain in the town square, laughing as the cool water chased away some of the dry summer heat. The daisy clutched in my hand wilted down over my fist.

The clock ticked ever on.

"You've made your decision, then?" I growled out, eyes glued on the tall, leonine figure on the dais. "You won't help me." His thoughts betrayed him before he could even try to conceal himself from me.

"Unfortunately," began Aro, his voice slick and oily, "we have decided that a gift of this... magnitude, would be a waste."

"I see."

"But if you're unhappy with your lot," he continued, "we would be pleased to offer you a place in our ranks. Join us."

"You know it will happen," I growled, my black eyes turning on Marcus as he shifted to face me.

"Not unless we are forced." His voice, old and weathered despite his eternal youth, rang with authority and quiet warning.

"Such a waste," mourned Aro, and in his thoughts I caught a glimpse of his bitter disappointment. His longing, his need, to add my particular skillset to his arsenal was almost overpowering. I saw his quickly flying thoughts as he tried to come up with a solution, with a way to prevent what I knew was inevitable.

"Goodbye, Edward," said Marcus quietly, turning away from me again. Aro, eyes narrowing, twitched towards his brother, and I heard the clear dismissal in both minds. Caius stared, malevolent and angry, as I turned heel and stalked away.

I had moved through the shadows silently and without notice until I stood here, beside the great clock tower, the shadow of the palace on the far side of the city unable to reach me. I knew that somewhere, among the throng of people, Volturi guards stood sentinel, watching me for any sign of misbehaviour.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, the sound jolting me from my musings. I knew without having to check that Alice's name would be lighting the screen. I let it go to voicemail.

"I'm sorry, Alice," I said aloud, and for the first time since my arrival, I saw one small human head turn to me, curiosity burning.

"He's lost his shirt," came his eager thoughts as the child, who couldn't have been older than four, turned to stare at me. "Mama!"

"Come along," said the mother, speaking in rapid Italian. "It's hot as Hades out here, and your grandfather is waiting on us. Come along!"

"That man lost his shirt!" cried the child, pointing a plump finger in my direction. I slunk back into the shadows, out of view as the mother turned to see. The clock had not yet chimed. The time had not yet come.

I knew that even here, hiding in the dark shadows with nothing more than a wilted flower to keep me company, Alice would be watching. I knew that she could see me, ignoring her calls, speaking her name to the empty air as I imagined her, anxious and angry. I knew she would be watching my every move, trying, without the slightest possibility of success, to change my mind, to call me back. I held on to my flower a little harder, feeling the stem flatten against my palm.

The clock face on the other side of the tower shifted to 11:59, as I caught sight of it through the mind of a frazzled and harassed shopkeeper. I stepped out of the small alcove I'd been hiding in, and inched closer to the light.

Soon, my love.

"Don't make me hurt you," came a quiet voice from behind me, a voice that both threatened and comforted. A brief glance behind me showed the thin, lithe figure of Demetri, one of Aro's guard.

I turned away from him, silent. He inched closer.

"You have ten seconds to turn around before I take you out," he threatened, and his thoughts belied no hesitation. He didn't see the small smile that graced my lips as I took another step forward, my toes peeking out into the sunlight.

"Edward!" The warning was sharp and clear, causing many heads to turn our way.

The last syllable of Demetri's shout was drowned out by the sudden tolling of the clock bell, signaling the sun's peak position in the sky. The warmth of the sun on my face as I closed my eyes, stepping out into the crowded square brought me back to our first time in the meadow, the first time I had truly shown myself to her. I remembered, in that brief moment, how her warm, gentle hand had caressed me, called me beautiful, her wide, brown eyes alight with awe.

The eyes that stared this time, however, were filled with fear and confusion as everyone, from that small, curious child to an elderly man sitting on the steps of a café, turned to look at the strange man emerging from the shadows. I heard the angry, cursing thoughts of the Volturi guard behind me as he was joined by his brothers in arms from the other side of the pavilion. I saw, in a blur that the humans could not catch, two black figures skirting along the shadows of the walls, just as two strong hands grasped my upper arms and jerked me backwards, into the darkness once more.

The clock tolled a second time.

"Wrong choice," said Demetri, his voice hissing in my ear. He wheeled me around just as Felix, the great, hulking man whose size could rival Emmett's, and another man I did not know, rounded the corner. Felix's eyes, red just hours ago, were now black, glinting as he rounded on us.

"You know what the punishment is," he said, his voice a low growl. "Aro warned you."

"Yes."

My phone buzzed angrily in my pocket once more, and I felt Demetri reach in to grab it. Reading the name on the screen he flipped it open, listening.

"Oh thank god!" Alice's shrill voice rang through the speaker. "Where are you now, Edward? Carlisle's already on a flight…"

Demetri glanced over at me for the barest of seconds, and I felt my heart clench for my sister, so far away and unable to help.

"Your leader will be too late. The laws must be upheld," he said flatly, turning to give Felix a nod. Larger hands replaced Demetri's restraining one as the clock tolled again, loud and echoing through the small passageway.

Alice's cries were cut short as Demetri snapped the phone shut and tossed it to the ground, where it broke open on the stone.

The chime rang out again.

"Do it now," said Demetri quickly, glancing at the swinging bell. "Quickly, before anyone sees."

The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was my flower falling to the ground, where it was swept on a gentle, hazy breeze.

ooOoo

When I opened my eyes once more— and what a strange feeling it was— my vision was green. I breathed in the scent of grass, of flowers and trees. I could hear the distant sounds of running water, of bees buzzing gently overhead, of wind rustling the leaves of trees. I took a deep breath, feeling my lungs burn for air as I moved my hand to run over my face. Gently, almost gingerly, I sat up in the cushioning grass, glancing quickly around me to regain my bearings.

I recognized the place at once.

Deep blue, almost indigo skies shone directly overhead, a curious mixture of sun, moon and stars painting a vivid picture of celestial beauty. To the west the skies were deep pink, fading to orange before the trees obscured the horizon, silhouetted black against the fading light. The east saw an inky blackness taking over, thousands of pinprick stars awakening as the sun descended.

The sky, however, paled in comparison to what waited me at the edge of the forest, curled gently on the ground, eyes looking out towards the fading sun. Her hair, just as I remembered it, was splayed out behind her, tumbling over long grass and colourful wildflowers as it on our first visit here so long ago. Her eyes did not turn to me as I stood and walked forward, careful not to startle her. A glint of white caught my eye as I looked down to her outstretched hand, and I saw her fingers clenched loosely around the daisy, no longer wilted and dry. She stroked the petals almost absently as she continued to stare, unblinking, into the pink glow. I stepped up next to her, the grass whispering beneath my feet and she started slightly, shifting.

She turned then, sitting up in the grass, eyes wide and disbelieving as she looked me up and down. Her hand hovered in mid air as she reached out towards me, stopping herself before she could touch, glancing up to meet my eyes. There was no sign of death about her this time, no unearthly pallor to mar her. There was no evidence of a bullet wound, no sign of blood or pain as I knelt down before her, taking in every last inch of her. Gently reaching out, I felt the warmth of her cheek, her eyes closing briefly as she leaned into my touch. A sharp breeze picked up then and I took a deep breath, catching just the slightest hint of freesias and strawberries as her hair blew towards me, tickling my chin. I took her small body in my arms then, pulling her to me and feeling that gaping wound in my heart close, and that missing piece of myself that she had taken with her fell back into place. I had the strangest sensation of a pounding in my chest, a feeling of dizziness coming over me as her arms returned the embrace and she pressed her face into my shoulder.

"I'm sorry."

A/N: That's it, folks. This rewrite is complete. I'll pick another one to work on later tonight, and might have some new updates out later next week.

Once again, if you need them, suicide crisis hotlines can be found at the end of chapter 4.