A/N Thank you to beta readers ShyNoMore and mrsaubergine.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.
I've always wondered what might have happened if Edward survived the Spanish Flu. The story begins at that point but quickly moves to 1928. All other 'Twilight' pieces are in place ie. Rosalie and Emmett won't be around because they are human children somewhere else. The idea that Edward's mother seemed to know that Dr Cullen was something different and begged him to save her son intrigued me. This is the passage from New Moon that stuck with me, when Elizabeth Masen speaks to Dr Cullen. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, Chapter 2 'Stitches'
"'You must,' she insisted, clutching at my hand with enough strength that I wondered if she wouldn't pull through the crisis after all. Her eyes were hard, like stones, like emeralds. 'You must do everything in your power. What others cannot do, that is what you must do for my Edward.'"
So this story is a bit of a rollercoaster, Edward's up then he's down... stick through the first four chapters if you can... it seems like a lot of set up but hopefully worth it!
I paced the length of the room over and over, desperately searching my mind for the magic words I could speak to convince her to change her mind. She sat still and silent, only her eyes tracking my movements. My eyes sought hers but she wouldn't meet them, fixing her gaze instead on the wall over my head, like I wasn't there at all. That was like a blow to my gut; I'd seen that look before and desolation swept through me.
We had been talking in circles for hours but my pleading and bargaining had fallen on deaf ears.
"You promised me forever, you promised." My voice was a raw rasp. "I told you I wouldn't live without you." All at once I felt the weight of defeat; it was her decision to make and I had failed to convince her. I sat beside her then not sure my legs would support me anymore. I took her beautiful face in my hands. "Do you remember when I promised that I would never force you to do anything you didn't want to? Well I'll keep my promise". She flinched a little at that and I continued, "and I won't force your hand but I wish, with every ounce of my being that you wanted this too."
Johnnie, get your gun, Get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun Who's a son of a gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly, Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit, Show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee Doodle fill the ranks, From the towns and the tanks.
Make your mother proud of you, And the old Red, White and Blue.
"Over There" 1917 by George M. Cohan
My uniform was soaked through with freezing rain and my boots stuck in the thick mud. It was tough going with the wounded soldier slung across my shoulders but I couldn't leave him behind. We'd almost reached the trench when a mortar explosion sent me sprawling face first into the muck. I dragged my friend the last few feet and as we descended into the trench I was warmed by the praise of my fellows.
"Well done, Edward!"
"Atta Boy, Masen!"
"What are your plans for this evening, Edward?"
This last question broke the spell of my daydream. I wasn't at war…I was too young to enlist. I was at home, but the familiar surroundings of home weren't the comfort they should have been, not when I wanted the glory, the excitement of battle. Some of my older friends had gone and sent home tales that made my hair stand on end. I tried very hard not to dwell too much on the friends who weren't ever going to come home.
I shook off the last of my reverie with a sigh and smiled sheepishly at my mother. She quirked an eyebrow at me and murmured, "War dreams again? Really Edward?"
"How did you know what I was thinking about?" Mother always astounded me with her perceptiveness.
"You're very easy to read dear. Now, tell me your plans for tonight?"
"Ah, I'm just going to the pictures with the guys. There should be a new newsreel tonight. Looks like that's as close to the war as I'll be getting for a while." My pals, Bobby and Tom were just as eager as I was to get overseas. Our birthdays, however, weren't until spring.
My mother smiled indulgently and reached up to smooth down my hair, her charm bracelet rattling gently in front of my eyes. Her matching green eyes sparkled at me. "And you promise the war footage won't send you straight to a recruitment office ready to lie about your age?" I knew she wasn't really worried about that. She knew I'd sworn to my father I would not run off. I really wish I hadn't done that.
I rolled my eyes. "I'll be home straight after. I'm kind of tired anyway."
She patted my cheek with fondness. "You're a good son, Edward. I'll miss you next year when you go to Boston." She took in my exasperated expression. "Don't make that face at your mother, Edward. The war will be over soon and you've been a better piano player than I since you were six years old. You deserve that place at their School of Music." A small frown creased her brow. "Are you feeling well, darling, you seem warm? Perhaps you shouldn't go out after all."
"I'm perfectly fine. I'll go see Father before I meet up with the guys." I leaned down to kiss the top of Mother's head. Her hair always made me smile; it was the same strange auburn as mine, but it looked a lot better on her. I towered over her now but her familiar perfume always made me feel like a little kid.
"I'll see you in the morning!"
I found Father in the library, perusing the papers he bought each day on his way home from the office. I crossed the room and flopped into the wing chair beside his desk. He flashed a grin at me as he lay the newspaper aside.
"Heading out son? You should catch those war newsreels while you can. It certainly looks like we're nearing a victory." There was frank relief in his tone but I just felt frustrated.
"Won't you reconsider, dad? I'm going to miss it if we wait. If you'd just give permission I can enlist now…" Father interrupted with impatience.
"I told you no! Think of your mother! I know we can't stop you once you turn 18 but for now…" I put my hands up in surrender.
"It's fine, it's fine." I changed the subject. "What have you and Mother planned for tonight?"
"Ah, some business associates and their wives will be dining with us. Your mother is trying to persuade the ladies to volunteer with the Visiting Nurses. This influenza… well suffice to say many people aren't getting the help they need." He glanced at the newspapers. I'd read the stories myself over the past weeks. Whole families found in their homes, burning with fever, helpless. Small children left terrified and starving when their parents died suddenly. People were afraid to help their neighbours for fear of getting sick themselves.
Piano music floated into the room and Father and I grinned at each other. We had always made a game of guessing Mother's mood by what she was playing. I closed my eyes and let the notes of Clair de Lune fill my head; it was one of my favourites. "Hmmm," I wondered aloud, "Contentment?"
"Nah," Father's eyes were focused on the doorway, as if he was trying to see through the walls to catch a glimpse his wife. "Romantic."
"You're both wrong," her voice called softly. "I'm feeling hopeful."
At the theatre, I found Bobby standing alone, tapping his foot impatiently because he had news. There wasn't much, other than the war these days that could get us worked up and I guessed another of our pals had enlisted and, if I had to bet on it, I'd say Tom. His father had been on the fence for months and seemed the most likely of all the parents to have caved to his son's incessant requests. Bobby saw me approach and spread his arms in disbelief.
"His dad just gave in. I can't believe it. Tom is one lucky son of a gun," he called out. I felt jealousy surge through me and struggled to stay quiet. Bobby took in my expression. "Ah, come on Edward. Be happy for the guy. He said to say 'Bye'. I think he didn't want to rub it in, seeing as how bad you want to go." I took a deep breath and nodded.
"Tom's going to be a soldier," I muttered, forcing a smile. I was happy for him. I just wished we all could have gone.
"All right let's go watch the news and see what Tommy's got himself into."
"The Forgotten City" was not a film I would have chosen but I wanted to watch the reels again at the end. I felt woozy after sitting so long in the dark theatre and then the street lights hurt my eyes once we made our way out to the sidewalk. Bobby was feeling extra patriotic after the one-two punch of Tom's victory and the latest war footage. He linked arms with me and marched as he sang,
Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there—
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming
"Sing it with me Edward! Sing for Tommy!" My silence finally caught his attention and he groaned. "Enough with the morose jealousy. What, you want to fight the war all by yourself?" Bobby punctuated the last word with a playful shove. Normally, he wouldn't have even moved me with a shove like that but I went down hard. A sudden chill shook through my whole body and I could hear Bobby apologizing, explaining that he hadn't pushed me that hard.
I rolled to look at him and just managed to whisper, "Go get my Dad."
A voice through water. "Edward, darling, try to open your eyes." A sob.
My heart is racing and I see it, I see it crawl out of my chest and jump out the window. I worry. How will I live without a heart?
A cold cloth on my neck. Shivers rack me. I moan.
Somehow my eyes are open. My mother stands a mile away with her back to me. A man with a white shirt and a white face talks to her.
Hot hands cradle my head. Water is sloshed on my face. An alarmed voice. "Mrs. Masen you should be in bed!"
My eyes are open again. Mother is in the bed next to mine. She is a startling shade of blue. She whispers, "Dr. Cullen says he'll save you." Her nose starts to bleed.
I wake drenched in sweat. Nurses come and change the linen. They smile kindly. The bed next to me is empty. Sleep overcomes me.
When I woke again Father was standing at the foot of my bed. He was spinning his bowler hat around and around but his eyes were on the bed Mother had occupied.
"Dad," my voice came out as a croak.
His red-rimmed eyes met mine for a long moment. With a shuddering breath, he broke the contact and fixed his gaze on a spot about a foot over my head. He cleared his throat.
"Your mother passed. They need your bed so I've hired a lady to take care of you at home." His voice was monotone and his expression cold. He turned as if to leave.
"Dad?" my parched throat could barely whisper.
He didn't turn but took a deep breath that became a sob. He seemed to have aged 10 years in the week I'd been sick. Mother couldn't be gone; I couldn't even begin to understand that kind of loss. I needed my father not the cold stranger standing in front of me.
"I've made arrangements to get you home later today." He walked out the door without looking back. A doctor had been watching our exchange, blending discreetly in the background. After all the blackness, the bright white of sheets, the white walls and this doctor's face almost blinded me. I recognized him from my fever dream and now I noticed his strange eyes. Even in my exhausted, grief stricken state, I felt a need to move, get away from him. He approached me now, slowly, with a solemn expression. Thoughts moved behind his topaz eyes; I sensed relief, sorrow and strangely, regret. His cold hands checked my pulse as he spoke in a gentle voice.
"Hello Edward, I'm Dr. Cullen."
The description of Edward being hit so suddenly with the flu and his mother's colour and bleeding are accurate. It was a truly horrific disease. Thanks for reading.