(A/N) Hey! Sorry for the slow update, I had stuff to do, and I have pretty bad writer's block on top of that, so... yeah. This is quite a bit like the last chapter, but this is Bella's POV. But not all of it. I'm putting another bit at the end, and this chapter isn't in the present tense. Also, I don't think I've ever got as many reviews as I got for the last chapter, so thank you so, so much. :)
The pain was everywhere. I hadn't guessed it would be anything like this bad. I was fighting a losing battle with the blackness that threatened to consume me, and soon I would have to surrender. At times, it was hard to remember why I was putting myself through this... 'Pain' would be an understatement – but all I had to do was pull up Edward's face in my mind, and I could deal with it. For a few minutes, – or hours, I couldn't tell the difference – anyway. Then it became unbearable once again.
It carried on like this for what seemed like quite some time, until I finally blacked out. Contrary to what I'd expected, it was no different to being fully conscious. I had my eyes closed then, so the lack of sight was no different, but the searing feeling didn't subside either. I was anticipating relief, and I was disappointed when I didn't get it. But I'd take it willingly, knowing I was saving Edward.
The burning was the only thing that was constant in my half-consciousness. I was, strangely, almost thankful for it, since it stopped me from slipping away altogether. The thing that was furthest from constant was my train of thought. I found that I could only concentrate on any one thing for a few seconds. It was rather irritating.
Just then, I was shocked to realize that it was getting more bearable. Maybe I was dying. It seemed like a faraway time that I was hoping that I would survive. Everything seemed faraway in that moment. Even the thought of my own death didn't seem so bad. That shocked me, and put things into perspective.
I can't die, I thought desperately. It wasn't that I was depressed enough to want to die in the first place, but aside from that, I wouldn't want Edward to have to live with the guilt he'd unequivocally feel if I died, as he would probably put it, 'because of him'. I wouldn't die because of him, I would die for him. But that still didn't mean for one second that I wanted to.
But the return of my senses didn't feel like death, or how I'd pictured it, anyway. I'd had plenty of near-death experiences, so I should have gotten a pretty good idea of what it was like, but this was more like... relief.
You're probably delusional, I told myself as a last-ditch attempt to not bring up my hopes. But I was not delusional, of that I was sure. The pessimistic side of me lost, and I truly began to believe that I could walk away from this. It no longer felt like a fading dream, but something I could cling to as a small bit of hope in a sea of despair. And so I clung on, with all my might, and thought of nothing else.
The first thing I noticed was a figure slumped in a chair next to me. I heard a sharp intake of breath – my own. Her arm was held out towards me, having collapsed next to me when I rose.
I could look no longer at the appalling sight that Bella had become. Her wrist was a bloody mess – my fault – but that wasn't the only thing that caused me to look away in disgust. Her once-happy face was in agony, which was evident even when her eyes were shut.
Also my fault.
"Carlisle!" I yelled, breaking the unbearable silence. He arrived in an instant.
"You're awake," he smiled, and then gasped as he saw Bell. "What happened?"
"I don't know," I replied monotonously.
"Alice brought her, but still, I never dreamed that... Not that this could have anything to do with Alice."
"Of course not," I agreed. Alice would have done everything in her power to stop something like this. That didn't stop me from being angry, though. What was Alice thinking?
My placid tone, apparently, didn't fool Carlisle. "Edward... don't be too hard on her. It wasn't her fault."
I nodded grudgingly. Berating Alice would help nothing.
"Will she be alright?" I asked, nodding with closed eyes at Bella.
"I think so," Carlisle said distractedly from across the room.
"Will... Did I..."
I couldn't even speak the words – will she become one of us? Luckily, he knew what meant.
"No. The cut was made with a blade –" I winced "– and, miraculously, no venom got in. She'll be just fine."
I sighed, relieved.
I was unable, it seemed, to continue the conversation without running into a sticky subject, so I gave up. I ran into the next room – it felt wonderful to run.
"Edward!" called Esme, hugging me as soon as I stepped through the doorway.
I chuckled. "Hello, Esme."
She pushed me back after a minute and scrutinized my face with a gasp.
"What?" I asked.
"Your eyes..." She held a small mirror in front of my face.
I saw straightaway why she was shocked, and why Carlisle had stolen furtive glances at me whenever he thought I wasn't looking. My irises were a deep red, so deep that it was almost like staring into a pool of blood. I barely recognised myself.
Esme's tight-lipped expression told me that she knew exactly why I looked like a monster. She frowned even more when I opened my mouth to explain, but she didn't interrupt. It was almost as if she wanted to be proven wrong, to be told that I wished with all my heart that Bella hadn't put herself in danger to help me.
So I proceeded to tell her everything, starting from the moment I knew what was happening myself. I watched her face soften with every new addition the the tale, until she embraced me again.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thought... This wasn't your fault."
"It was. Is," I whispered.
"Don't blame yourself, Edward. It was her own choice, a foolish one, admittedly, but certainly not something you could have stopped. You know better than I how stubborn she gets."
I nodded. It was all I could do. It was my fault, but Esme would never agree, so I thought it better to just drop the matter.
Just then, Alice stormed through the door.
"Where is Bella?" she demanded. I stared into her furious, pitch-black eyes, and she took one look at my face and screamed.
Jasper was by her side in an instant. I hadn't noticed him come in.
"What have you done, Edward?" he asked, shaking his head. "Is this what you saw?"This question was directed at Alice. I inclined my head towards her.
"You saw this happen? Why didn't you do anything to stop her? Do you know how close it came?" I yelled, stepping closer to her with every sentence. Jasper stepped closer to me, too.
"Listen to me! I did try to stop her! I warned her. I wouldn't have gone, only I don't think I could have stayed near her much longer – I hadn't fed in days!"
"So you gave her the idea? Fabulous! That's so much better!"
"I didn't tell her what not to do! I presumed she'd know what I meant by "Don't try anything funny just because I'm gone!" I told her about her doing something stupid in the vision, and warned her not to do it!"
I relaxed a little bit, but it didn't make me feel any less tense about anything.
"I'm sorry, Alice. This isn't your fault, and I'm being very rude. My apologies."
Jasper relaxed his stance a little, but was still in between us.
"I understand. I didn't think she would, after I told her..."
"No worries. Carlisle says she'll be OK, anyway, so..."
I put on a brave smile, but everyone in the room knew I was faking.
(A/N) I wrote like half of that chapter within the space of 2 hours, because I really have to go study for my exams – "Studying for my future," as my friend calls it. Haha :). Review, pretty please! 40 review before the next chapter! That's only another 6! :D