Cut the chit chat and right into the story, see you at the bottom... SM owns everything, I just reserve the right to mess up her characters.
He said it. He had to go and say it.
"Damn you, Jasper!"
I wished in that moment that I could un-hear it. I wished that I didn't have fancy vampire senses. I wished that Jasper's words didn't stir something inside me. I wished it didn't frighten me.
"What are you afraid of, Bella?" He didn't need to yell but he did.
I didn't need to yell but I did too, "What am I afraid of? Everything is new to me Jasper, I look different, I move different, I see everything different. I don't know if I should listen to what my instincts are telling me or to do what my brain thinks is right; because right now, I'm torn between how a vampire sees you and how Bella sees you."
And I'm still in love with Edward.
"Jasper, I'm not even a day old yet. I have to relearn everything I've ever known; I have to learn how to live like this. I can feel where you want me to be right now and it's such a strong feeling but, Jasper, I fell to pieces when Edward left me. I knew he was still existing somewhere out there, but now, he's dead. He is gone forever. There's no coming back from Italy and no rescue missions.
"I need time to move on, Jasper. I can't be who you want me to be right now. I don't even know who I am anymore. Edward had become such a big part of me that my own reasons for loving him became skewed. We were both wrong about loving each other because we weren't meant to be..."
And that's how I talked myself onto Jasper's team.
I was thirsty again. Just as I was about to say something, Jasper put a finger to his lips to silence me. He already knew.
As the breeze lifted my hair I could smell them. Elk. I realized then how much I let my guard down when I got emotional. Jasper had heard the elk before he smelled them; I sensed nothing until he pointed them out.
Jasper was silent as he motioned me to follow him. I didn't argue since the flames blistering my throat had suddenly made everything I was feeling snuff out and die.
But once again I couldn't focus just on the hunt; as Jasper stalked through the trees, moving fast and slow all at the same time, I noticed his broad yet fine build, the way his arms moved and flexed, and his most devastating feature of all: the scars on the back of his neck. The scars I knew he carried with him all the time; the scars I could imagine all over his body.
He only turned back to look once at me and the smirk he held there seemed out of place after the conversation we just had, but I guess the thrill of the hunt was all he needed.
In one graceful leap, he bounded onto a low branch, again motioning for me to follow. My accent wasn't as smooth, but if he noticed, didn't say anything. Jasper now spoke only with hand signals. I seemed to catch on really quick when he motioned to explain that the elk should be walking right by our hide out.
Of course, he was right.
Jasper went straight for the biggest male. I just jumped on whichever one I got my hands on first. It felt good to drink again. I could feel my frayed emotions settling down to a more manageable state. Jasper still hadn't said anything. I wasn't sure how to take his silence. Is he mad that I rejected him or is he thinking of ways to get me to want him? No, Jasper isn't like that. He's not like Edward.
And like every other realization I'd had that day this one took its time coming to the surface too. Jasper isn't like Edward. He didn't choose what was best for me to hear; he told me straight out whereas Edward would have brushed the details off as not important.
Jasper made me feel comfortable around him; Edward always made me feel like I was a child that constantly needed supervision. That I was to be seen and not heard. Once again I found myself rooting for Jasper.
As the high from the hunt wore off, I noticed we were heading in the direction of the house. Not wanting this to go unsaid I put a hand on Jasper's bicep to get him to stop. He wouldn't look me in the face, but that was okay because I didn't think I could handle seeing the sadness I could already feel leaking off of him. So, I stared at his jaw and throat, memorizing the jagged scars that stood out so much more now that I could really see them, see him.
I thought of what I would say to him before I opened my mouth, but what actually came out was something completely different, "You must have spent many years as Maria's captain to have received so many bites. Do they hurt at all? I know that every once in a while if I was thinking about it or dreaming about it, I could still feel his teeth in my flesh; his lips on my skin."
Jasper cocked his head to the side but didn't answer.
"Never mind, I don't know why I asked that. You don't have to answer." He quirked an eyebrow and turned away. I was stalling and he knew it, because the words I needed to say, the words Jasper needed to hear would mean I really would have to say goodbye to Edward. I knew it was what I needed, but that didn't make letting go any easier.
He turned back to me and looked me in the eye. There was a determination there that wasn't present a minute ago. "One would think, like you, that it would take a long time to accumulate scars like mine. When really, most of them were made in a span of two years; the worst two years of my existence. Maria was overrunning so many strongholds that instead of killing them all she would just keep those that weren't lost in the battles. Really, that just meant that I would have more to execute later." I could tell he wasn't happy about telling me. He wasn't proud of his past, but he wasn't ashamed of it either. Jasper Whitlock survived though those years and that's all that counts because he is still here today.
"You didn't have to tell me that. I really shouldn't have asked." I ducked my head only for Jasper to lift my chin with a long finger.
"I told you, silly girl, that I would always answer your questions." He dropped his hand, "We should get back to the house. Carlisle might not want to light the pyre now that it's dark, it might draw attention." He made to take a step but I stopped him again.
"Jasper, wait. There's something I need to say but, I don't want to say it if it's going to hurt you more than I already have." He looked at me a moment.
"You don't need to say anything. You've already said what you need to. Don't worry about me, Bella."
His feelings betrayed him. He was curious now and I seemed to have planted a seed of hope in that pretty blond head of his. So, I took up his hands in mine and kissed his knuckles. I had to start slow because if I jumped in headfirst I would startle us both.
I kept one hand in both of mine and released the other. Turning his palm up I traced the lines there. Jasper didn't protest or try and take his hand away but I was making him nervous. I kissed his palm and took a deep breath. I was just moving his sleeve up to kiss his wrist when he said my name in a breathy whisper.
I reached for his face with both of my hands and his own hands covered mine. Tentatively, I kissed the corner of his mouth, and then the other. I knew I was pushing it because as my experiment got more bold, the one word echoing through my mind got louder.
I knew I couldn't rush whatever we were supposed to be, and frankly, Jasper wasn't in the clear yet. He still had some explaining to do about what happened three days ago. For now though I would give him the benefit of the doubt and lay it on the line for him plain and simple.
He took my hands away from his face, but he didn't let them go.
"Jasper, I'm just going to say it: I'm not ready for you. I just need time... I know I can be what you need me to be, but I just can't do that right now. If we really are meant to be, then, I'm sure we can hang on a little while longer for me to get my head on straight. I have to focus on me right now, and what I could use, is a friend. So, Jasper, can you be my friend? Can you be the one to help me through this? I know I'm going to need someone to lean on and I hope that someone will be you.
"I can't force myself to love you, but I can start off somewhere. I know that something is there because earlier today, that was a feeling I've never had before. Most people can be around someone and then gradually begin to love them and never know exactly when it happened. So, think about it."
He returned the kisses to my knuckles, "I will, Bella." Jasper motioned we should move on, so we headed back to the house.
When we walked into the house Esme was the only one waiting for us. It was hard to see my human memories, they were vague and blurry; seeing Esme with my new eyes left me staring. She looked totally different. Not even the same person almost. Her hair wasn't brown, it was caramels, golds and reds. She wasn't ageless like the the teenagers in the family. She had the signs, like crinkles in the corners of her eyes and wonderful laugh lines that showed when she really smiled like she was doing right now.
The most wonderful thing I came to notice about Esme was her eye colour. The only Cullen I had taken the time to really look at was Jasper, so now, studying Esme's face I've come to notice that it wasn't anything like the colour of Jasper's. Yes, her eyes were gold, but they were a darker gold, like her hair. Jasper's eyes were much brighter in comparison.
This thought gave me some peace. It meant that I could look at each one of them and not be constantly reminded of Edward. The only problem was that I'd never noticed the difference between them with my human eyes. Like everything else about Edward, I never really knew the real him.
"Did you want to go see him? To take a moment. To say goodbye."
Esme's words startled me. I knew she spoke earlier, but I was finally taking the time to listen. Like her appearance, she sounded nothing like I remembered.
I gazed back at Esme with big eyes. All I'd wanted since waking up was to see Edward, but now that it was offered to me I wasn't so sure.
"I don't... how can I...?" I looked to Jasper, he wore a small grimace like smile as he nodded his head in encouragement. "Yes. I'd like to see him."
Esme used the same expression as she moved for the door Jasper and I just entered through. I moved to follow but Jasper took my hand, "Remember what I said? He isn't whole Bella, I know it will be hard but don't let this be the only way you remember him. Think of him as he was." The last words were whispered as he brought my knuckles to his lips once more.
"I will." was my whispered response.
I imagined Edward's grand finale would be something to rival a king. But when I got there I was surprised to see a very minimalistic approach. He lay there, on the pyre, with a blanket covering him. Esme tried to give me space, but I knew I wouldn't be left completely alone for a long time to come.
My approach was slow; I was waiting for him to sit up and yell 'surprise'. Then Emmett would jump out from behind a rock and say 'welcome to the family, little sis' and Rosalie would smack the back of his head.
But, none of that happened, so I stood beside him until I had the courage to look at his face. It didn't take me long because honestly, I was curious. What did Edward really look like? Was he as perfect as everyone thought he was?
The fleece felt wrong in my hands as I pulled it down just enough to see his face. I didn't let it fall any lower. I did not want to see what I knew would be there.
Edward truly was beautiful. His hair was a riot of coppers and reds and golds, his brow far more refined under my new gaze. His pale eyelids sat closed; lashes resting on his cheekbones. I wondered if his eyes would be gold or black, but couldn't bring myself to actually look. His nose, of no great importance, was just a little too thin for his face. The sharp angle of his jaw made his chin seem pointy and his lips look fuller than they were.
Would it be wrong if I kissed him one last time? I don't think I could do it. So I settled for grabbing his hand instead.
"Edward? It's Bella..." I felt silly talking to him like he would answer me back. Looking over my shoulder to find Esme, I spotted her near the trees and Carlisle had joined her. She nodded her head and gave me a small smile. I turned back to Edward, but didn't know where to start.
"I miss you. Why did you do it? Why did you let her win? I guess I got what I wanted right? I just didn't realize it would cost me you."
I sat there, beside him for a little while. The rest of the family had joined Carlisle and Esme.
"Just know that I loved you and always would have...Goodbye, love." I leaned down and kissed his cheek. "Jasper better be worth it."
Knowing that everyone heard made me self-conscience, but the new Bella is going to make a turn for the better. I stood up and walked back to the group with my head held high.
As Carlisle carefully lit the flames, the Cullen family watched as their first son, sibling and love burned. The purple smoke lingering in the air.
I let Jasper hold my hand, hoping that would be enough, but as I heard him whisper, "Goodbye, Edward." I couldn't hold on tight enough. My knees gave out and Jasper scooped me up before I could hit the ground.
We sat there, in the heat and the smoke. Jasper said goodbye to a brother. I said goodbye to my life as I knew it.
Back in the house I didn't know what to do with myself. Every room had a memory that didn't always make complete sense because I was missing too big of a chunk. I stopped myself when I started wishing Edward were here so he could fill in the blanks.
The kitchen, where I would never eat again; the cream coloured two-seat where Edward and I always sat; the dining room where family meetings were held.
The hardest room I thought would have been his bedroom, but it was the piano that really made my heart hurt. I sat down on the bench, mindful of my strength, and lifted the lid to reveal the ebony and ivory keys that would never be played by Edward again. I let my fingers float over the keys until I tried pressing one. The note rang out clear in the silence. In that moment I promised myself and Edward that I would learn how to play, after all, I would be around for a while.
I moved through the house until I was standing in front of Edward's closed door. I heard footsteps approach and willed my almost uncontrollable body not to tense. I knew I was safe in this house, but being new at this vampire stuff wasn't easy.
It was Carlisle that came to join me. He just stood there with me, staring.
"You can have any room you like, Bella. If you wish to have two rooms there's plenty. Emmett can knock out a bit of the wall and put in a door to join them. That's what Jasper and Alice did." Carlisle had a quiet voice, the kind that you can hear caring in.
"Thank you, Carlisle, but if you don't mind I'd just like to stay in Edward's room. I'll pick another one if you want to keep his room..." In a way, Edward's room felt familiar. I had lost count of how many times I'd slept in his bed or listened to his music. It just felt right to be there.
"Of course you can have Edward's room, it's all yours. It would have been yours anyway. I didn't want to rush you into the idea of having his space, but I think he would have wanted to you have it. No one has been in there since... well, you know. I'll leave you to yourself, if you need anything just shout. Oh, and Bella, I'm glad you're okay. Esme and I may have lost our son, but we have gained an incredible daughter."
I smiled up at Carlisle and gave him a hug. It felt nice to be reassured of my place in the family. I listened as he walked away. A door opened and closed. Then as if he was still standing right beside me, "She'll be okay. She wanted Edward's room, just like you knew she would."
I stopped listening and opened the door before me.
I slowly looked around. The south facing window wall was dark with the night sky. The stars looked so close, as if I could reach out and scoop one up. The whole room was a mess; like a tornado had gone through it. Clothes, both mine and Edward's were strewn across the couch and the bed. My school books, notes and novels littered the desk and underneath them a laptop computer.
The bed wasn't made. I could still see where both Edward and I had lain. The covers were tossed up on my side and on his the crinkles from where he stayed on top. My pyjamas sat in a ball by my pillow.
I walked over to the massive shelf that sat between the bathroom and closet doors. It took up as much space as possible; door jam to door jam. On the shelves was Edward's music. The middle shelf had doors and behind those doors was the stereo system which was wired into the wall. Edward had told me that the speakers were hidden in the walls so they didn't take up any space. I very gently tried the power button and the face of the machine lit up. It told me that I was listening to Andrea Bocelli, 'Con Te Partiro'.
I liked the beginning; when she started singing I got lost in the foreign words. The sudden understandable words of the chorus startled me. She was telling me it was time to say goodbye. A man started singing as I searched frantic for the stop button. I finally recognized the CD switch and maybe used a little too much force. The dreadful music stopped and something new started.
The stereo once again told what I was listening to, this time it was something I recognized. Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' blasted from the invisible speakers. I knew this album well, so I quickly shuffled to the song I was looking for. Track number twelve 'The Point of No Return' quietly filled my ears. I think subconsciously I enjoyed this music because I could identify with it. Listening now I noticed so many metaphors.
I couldn't bring myself to clean anything up, so I got into bed and curled up on Edward's pillow. I lay there listening as Gerard Butler the Phantom, whispered those fateful lyrics to Christine,
'Say you'll share with me, one love, one lifetime.
Lead me, save me from my solitude.
Say you'll want me with you here, beside you,
Anywhere you go, let me go too.
Christine, that's all I ask of you...'
Yay! Another chapter! Did you cry? Cause I got a little misty when I wrote it... Anyone out there a Phantom fan?