Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. Quotes from "The Tyger" and "The Auguries of Innocence" by William Blake.
Snot sobbing hugs to my girls MrsAubergine, BeingBold and WhitbySucks. I love you. Thanks to all for reading.
We didn't argue again.
I couldn't stand to see Bella upset and I knew turning me had to be her choice. When I thought back on the lonely years before Bella – and the dark months of despair when I thought she was gone – I couldn't be anything but euphoric. She was here. She was real and with me. So, I didn't beg, or plead my case again. I didn't drop hints or tease her. I didn't want forever with her to be an empty prize I'd won through wheedling and manipulation. I wanted it to be a gift, the most incredible gift, lovingly and willingly given. The only thing I'd ever want. Besides, you can't really force someone to spend all eternity with you.
Maybe she'd change her mind; what might seem like an impasse might be her thinking things through. For all I knew, Bella was wrestling with the idea of ending my human life – essentially killing me – to secure a forever she was certain I would regret. It wasn't an easy thing I was asking of her. I was willing to give her all the time she needed... I just hoped I wouldn't look like her father, or worse, her grandfather, by the time she decided what she wanted.
We created a sort of limbo for ourselves... a happy one for sure, but not completely one thing or the other. Not wholly human, nor vampire. Days and nights, the time told by the clock, none of it mattered. We did what we wanted when we wanted. Strolling the tree-lined streets at two in the morning. Dancing in the parlour at noon. Upstairs, in our bed... whenever. Anytime. The world outside Rose's ornate front door could have gone completely to hell and we'd hardly notice.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what was happening.
In mid-October, the stock market crashed taking most of my inheritance with it. I didn't care much; I needed very little, Bella wasn't going to let me starve and some small manipulative part of me thought it might help her decide to change me. She was worried about my human life? Pitiful as it had been, it was getting worse, trickling away – and she knew I didn't mind.
I did mind losing the means to help my friends.
Ben was ruined. The small amount he should have gotten for the sale of the building was lost when the Irish guys decided it was worth more to claim the insurance and burned the place to the ground. Unfortunately, the insurance company had been one of the first to go bankrupt... there was no company anymore and therefore, no money. Ben had already signed the title over. He had to walk away with nothing... and I couldn't help him the way I wanted to. He would accept only train fare from me, knowing my money was gone too. He and Lauren left for California at the end of October; she had family there. In parting, Ben remarked that at least they wouldn't freeze to death.
The gym hadn't escaped the mob's attention either. I knew Sam had been roped into throwing fights and most of the kids did what they were told and lost when they were told to. They all knew what was at stake. That stupid kid, Jacob, tried to double-cross them, tried to beat them at their own game. He agreed to lose a fight but then had his friends bet on him and he won – by knockout. It took the mob about five minutes to figure out what he'd done. Jacob didn't even make it out of the ring – they shot him right there to make an example of him. Sam and Emily disappeared without a word. I didn't know if they'd made a run for it. I hoped so.
I felt bad that I didn't care more. Truth was, I'd said goodbye to that life, those people, when I'd committed to Bella. It was her hurdle, the leap she needed to take.
Carlisle thought she'd come around, Esme did too. An unlikely friendship had replaced the hostility and resentment I'd felt toward Carlisle. He was patient with Bella, I think even more than I was. My previous behaviour toward him was forgiven in an instant, waved away with a kind smile when I tried to apologize. I might've been technically older than him but of course it didn't feel like it. He was careful not to condescend, he was so very careful when he spoke, choosing each word to be as gentle as possible. I was surprised how much I liked him – and it surprised me how important he already was to me.
Esme's friendship was different. She was quieter, clinging to Bella when she visited. There was a protective edge to her glances between us, fierce hope and worry. She was, of course, as cold as Bella and Carlisle but warmth radiated from her. Sometimes I would get a glimpse of what her human life might have been – a baby at her breast, another clinging to her skirt, while a few more crowded around a scrubbed table studying their books. Everyone pink and warm and suffused with a quiet joy. I knew Bella was both friend and child to her, Esme, more than a sister to her – almost a mother. My chest tightened at the sight of them together.
I wished I could tell Bella how desperately I wanted to join her new family. That they already meant more to me than I could say. That I felt like my very humanity – my human needs and limits - held them all back, keeping them from the much more exciting lives they were meant to be having. My human need for sleep was the most annoying of them all...
The old dream recurred, almost every time I closed my eyes. Mist, yes, but not cold. Bella wasn't cold either and she wasn't lost. She was in my arms and kissing me in a way she hadn't since she'd been human herself.
I woke with a start – one of the few times I wished I hadn't woken... I'd always rather be with Bella than sleeping.
"What were you dreaming about?" she asked, her voice light and wistful. She missed dreaming. Her eyes, however, were dark. "You said my name, Edward. You moaned it." I clung to the edges of the dream, savouring the phantom tugging of my hair, the indescribable taste of Bella on my tongue...
"Uh," I hesitated. Telling her about this dream would be to show what I wanted. How badly I must want her to change me – to dream of it, to wake panting like this, rigid and needy. My sleep-addled brain wouldn't cooperate, wouldn't provide words... wouldn't tell me what to say.
So, I showed her.
A kiss to start, swallowing her tiny objection. Bella really did love to hear about my dreams; the more outrageous the better. I think, just maybe, she liked kissing me more. My hands sought hers in the dark twist of bed sheets and blankets and quilt. Bella wouldn't have me take cold because of her. I found one icy hand, then the other and guided them to my hair. I curled my fingers around hers, tangling them and urging her to tug, pull... bring the dream to life.
"No," she whispered, shocked. Even in the dark, I could see the sad glint in her eye, the pleading for understanding. I was changing the rules – that was unfair - I knew the rules and I'd agreed to them. I pressed my forehead to hers and let out the first words that occurred.
"That's what I was dreaming. You pulled, it didn't hurt - you couldn't hurt me. I was strong too." I kissed her throat, suppressing a dangerous urge to bite her there. Would it set her off?
Would she bite me back?
I tasted her neck, licking, sucking, wishing I could mark her. I grasped her hands with all the strength I had, dragged them harder against my head, cool stone raking through my hair. Her moan vibrated on my lips but it wasn't her moan of pleasure – I knew that sound well enough. She wanted me to stop. Before she stopped me herself.
I did bite her then. Hard.
Tyger, Tyger burning bright...
Hard, but not to her – had she been human, I would have broken her skin, drawn blood. It occurred to me I was lucky to have not chipped my teeth.
Bella didn't seem to notice. Shadows jumped on the wall, the impression of tree branches, black and crowding.
In the forests of the night...
The moon streamed through the window and her skin shone in its light, pale and luminous. Not the bright dazzle of the sun, softer, a glow from within - not diamonds but opal. Her eyes met mine, blacker than coal.
"What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Were we not to have our symmetry? Peaceful harmony? Not matching, not being equals, but her one thing and I another?
"I love you, Edward. I love you." She whispered it over and over against my shoulder. That's all that mattered.
I let her hands go and kissed her again, gently this time. "I love you." I whispered the words back, they were inadequate but all I had. Her body pressed to mine, seeking, wanting. I'd meet her in the middle, the only way for us now. My hands roamed her, she felt of marble and silk and ice, magnetic. Irresistable. She responded with a whimper, surrendering. To me? To us? I didn't know anymore. Painful need overwhelmed me. The need to feel her inside, fill her, be as close as I could get to her. She let me in, and I was surrounded - cold heat, soft sounds and the pale shiver of that precious opal skin.
Her skin seemed to change as I loved her. The more I moved, the more I gave, the softer she felt – a subtle change from unyielding ice to more delicate snow, snow on the verge of melting.
She moved with me, a perfect symmetry of back and forth, without and within... and I forgot why I wanted more.
Bella had surprised me with a piano. I'd woken to find it in the parlour, perfectly tuned and shiny with polish, decorated grandly with Bella herself atop it. Her skin matched the keys and her black shoes the case – there wasn't anything else.
It was a pleasant surprise that the piano survived that first day.
I played now, for Esme, as the sun warmed the parlour and we waited for Carlisle and Bella to return. Even with me in on the secret it was judged far too dangerous to have me in the area when Bella was feeding. I knew that Carlisle talked to her about turning me; Bella usually returned with a slightly hunted look about her.
Esme, motionless while listening to the piano, stirred and I brought the light tune I'd been playing to a close. Bella and Carlisle must be almost home. The back door opened, followed by light footsteps and quiet chatter. Esme and I went to the hall to meet them.
The front door opened with a crash, startling the lot of us. Rose's voice floated through the air, directing, bossing and chastising the young men wrestling with her trunks and bags.
A mild chaos ensued. Luggage was stacked, money exchanged, oaths sworn upon my head for scaring Rose so. She had just received my panicked messages from months ago, delivering news of Bella's accident, her possible death. Relief, disbelief and barely suppressed anger flashed across her weathered face, the lines deeper than when I saw her last. She reached for Bella but stopped short as she glanced past her niece to the quiet, still figures behind her.
"Oh, you have company." Rose blinked, as if to clear her eyes, and peered up at the doctor. She gasped.
I watched as her skin blanched and I braced to catch her should she faint. Did she see Carlisle and Esme for what they were?
Rose blinked again. "Carlisle Cullen? Is that you?" Bella and Esme were stunned into unnatural stillness. They wore matching masks of pale disbelief, amber eyes wide, red mouths rounded in perfect 'o's. Carlisle was examining Rose, perplexed. He sniffed delicately and his eyes widened.
"Rose?" He looked closer and a small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. Esme's grip on his arm tightened and he patted her hand absently. Bella, no longer frozen in shock, looked dazed.
"But how...? Rose, are you saying you know Carlisle?" Bella asked.
Rose could not tear her eyes from Carlisle. She smiled lightly, her mind clearly far away, remembering. She turned her face slightly, directing her remarks to Bella but staring at the doctor. A glance at Esme's expression was alarming; she was not amused.
"Isabella, this is..." Rose gestured toward Carlisle, her hand shaking. The story tumbled out. They had known each other in Paris, more than forty years ago. A significant look was shared between aunt and niece; this was the man Rose had told Bella about, the man she had wanted to marry, the only man she would have given up her independence for. Carlisle was looking a little entranced himself and Rose... well the years seemed to fall away. Her posture changed and her face softened. Looking between them, I could see the lovely young lady she must have been.
"Carlisle, I...?" She reached out, as if to stroke his cheek. A hiss brought her up short and she glanced at Esme, taking in the possessive grasp of her smooth, white hand on Carlisle's arm. Rose's elegant brow arched, disappearing into a deep wrinkle. "Hmm," she murmured. "I see." She frowned in confusion at her own gnarled and trembling hand. She touched her own cheek instead. Carlisle watched her, kindness and a sort of pity clear on his face. Any moment now...
She turned from her old lover in horror and looked in the hall mirror. "I don't... how...?" She blinked again and the spell was broken. She looked around the group wildly.
How in hell were they going to explain themselves?
There was no way around it. Carlisle told her the briefest true version he could, Bella's accident, the miracle that made them all young forever, leaving out the alarming word 'vampire', of course. Her eyes widened with each sentence. She glanced between the immortals in front of her and then over her shoulder to me. I could see the wheels turning as she compared, contrasted. Them. Us. I wondered if she'd believe any of it.
She opened and closed her mouth a few times. I was ready for a fainting spell, a shriek of terror. Rose spoke. "Well, how perfectly marvellous." A slow smile transformed her as she leaned toward the only man she'd ever wanted to spend her life with. "Carlisle? Could you do it to me? Would I be young again, young and beautiful?" She took a step toward him, her eyes shining with a future she never could have imagined.
"It doesn't work like that, Rose." Carlisle hastily explained. "You would be immortal yes, but as you are now." He patted Esme's hand again. Only Rose and I could see her ferocious expression, the definition of 'if looks could kill'. Rose waved a hand grandly in the air, a white flag of surrender.
"Ah! Well then, definitely not." She darted a haughty look at Esme. "Calm down dear, I know three's a crowd. He's all yours." She held out a hand to Bella who stepped lightly across the war zone and took it. Rose beamed at her. "Never mind me. How wonderful for you and your Edward! To have all that time - an eternity, young and healthy and gorgeous – My! How heavenly. All those adventures you wanted... in this perfect state! When are you going to turn him? What are you waiting for?" Bella recoiled.
"Rose, no. I don't want this for Edward." Bella tried to explain. Rose searched her face and sighed. Without another word, she headed to the library, towing Bella along. I followed, leaving Carlisle and Esme to their own devices.
Bella paced behind the desk while I leaned on the door jamb. I half-expected them to ask me to leave. Rose sank onto the sofa with a grateful groan. I wondered absently just how old she was but hadn't time to give it much thought before she rounded on Bella.
"You really are a nincompoop, you know that?" Bella's mouth dropped open. I coughed to cover the laugh that escaped me. They both ignored me, intent on each other. I'd seen fighters in the ring behave friendlier than this. "You listen to me, young lady. I know you've heard of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. This independence you hold so dear will be nothing, meaningless when you lose him! My God! You told me before how you felt... what is this insane need of yours to always be right? You're not, you know. You're so very wrong. I would've sold my soul to the very Devil himself to have this sort of chance with Carlisle." Rose's voice was pitched low. I thought it best not to point out that Carlisle and Esme could hear every word anyway.
She took a deep breath and went on. "Isabella, it's all right to want this. It's all right to give in to this... This is between you and Edward. I know you well enough- " The shrill ring of the telephone interrupted. Rose closed her eyes and exhaled forcefully through her nose. This likely wasn't the homecoming she'd expected. She picked up the receiver.
"Rose Swan's residence." She smiled lightly at us. Covering the mouthpiece, she whispered, "I haven't said that in more than a year!" She wasn't done with Bella yet, I was sure, but she didn't want to be angry. She just wanted the best for Bella. The next moment her smile faded. Bella gasped and came to me quickly. Rose's hand went to her mouth and she glanced at me. "Yes, yes, he's right here. I'll put him on." I crossed the room. The telephone was handed to me. Rose looked at me sadly.
"Edward, dear. I am so sorry. It's about your father."
It was the same hospital, the place for terrible moments, the worst memories. Fitting, I suppose. The morgue was in the basement; I knew exactly where it was. I'd looked for Bella here months ago.
She was with me now, thank God. I didn't know how difficult it was for her to come into the hospital, to walk through halls smelling, to her, of the sweetest blood. I was glad she offered; I never would have asked this of her.
We stood in front of the gurney, the ominous shape beneath the white drape smaller than I would have expected. The coroner waited, patient yet business-like, as I gathered the nerve to nod my head. Bella was at my side, a bracing hand at my elbow. She was still, unnaturally so, and I realized she wasn't breathing. I fervently wished I had the option. The air was cold and thick with the suffocating smells of chemicals and death. The desire to leave the place suddenly outweighed the dread of looking at him, giving me the required courage. I signalled I was ready.
The coroner pulled the sheet back. It was him, my father, the shell of him. I looked away quickly; it seemed rude to look at the inside of another man's head. The bullet hole wasn't large and all traces of blood had been cleaned away. They said it had been quick, he hadn't suffered. Bullshit. The poor man had suffered every day since Mother died. I nodded again, quickly, but the sheet stayed pulled back.
"I'm sorry, Sir." The coroner did sound apologetic... and a little bored. This was routine to him, even this sort of violent end. I had to assume it was the mob. Perhaps he'd tried to double cross them, like Jacob, or ran up a debt so large he couldn't hope to pay. Maybe they even thought they were doing him a favour. The coroner cleared his throat. "Mr Masen, can you identify this man? You have to say it out loud."
I took a deep breath and regretted it. "Yeah, that's him. This is, was, Edward Masen." He'd had identification – they'd called me for crying out loud. I wondered if this practice of naming the deceased was just as much for those left behind as for the authorities. "Look," the custom demanded. "See what has happened. This is real. Acknowledge it."
The sheet was replaced. "Thank you, Mr Masen. I'll give you a minute?" The morgue was cold, near freezing, and I'd gone numb. Bella replied for me.
"Thank you. We won't be long." The coroner's footsteps shuffled off. The door opened and closed. I looked at the sheet on the gurney and thought about the man who lay under it; I didn't know what to feel.
"I'm sorry," I blurted out. A wave of regret rolled through me, regret of what, I couldn't quite put my finger on. I was sorry. Sorry for Mom and Dad and me. Sorry for what I could have done that I didn't do to make this all end differently. Sorry for all those years where a father and son should have been a family and weren't. Bella gave my arm a gentle squeeze and I was profoundly grateful for her. The world snapped back into place. And I understood my father. "I'm sorry," I said again. "I should've helped you more, I should've found a way." I could feel Bella shaking her head beside me, answering for my father.
No, I guess not. Because I hadn't understood my father at all until I loved Bella – loved her and lost her. I didn't want to live without her, I couldn't. Just like he couldn't live without the woman he loved. "I hope you can forgive me. I let you down, Father." I cleared my throat. I needed to say this, to him and for me. "I forgive you too. I understand, really understand now." Bella made a choking sound beside me. She was crying too. "I hope there's peace for you now... Dad? I hope you're with Mother now."
I laid a hand on the sheet, where my father's heart was, and felt the stillness, the permanence of it. "Bella?" She had to know. "This is my future. If you don't change me..." She moved in front of me, took one look at my expression, and pressed her cheek to my chest. I held her close and took one ragged breath. She was listening to my heart. "Those guys who killed my father, they could come after me. You can't guard me every second..." Her arms tightened around my waist. "Even if they don't get me... it'll be something else, an accident, I could get sick again." I thought of Dr Cullen. If he'd turned me when I'd had the Spanish Flu – what might have happened then? Bella was shaking and I went on. "Maybe it will just be old age. But Bella, if you leave me like this, human... someday we will be separated. Permanently. And I'll go to my grave knowing I failed you, I failed us."
Bella took my hand, urging me to come with her. We took the steps and emerged into the dark grey of early evening. I breathed deep, clearing my lungs of the heavy air of the mortuary. Bella looked dazed as we turned and walked, past the bench where I'd first seen her, stumbling and careening along the sidewalk. We walked up the street where I'd lost her in the crowd of shoppers, and had cursed my inability to just talk to her. Yet here we were. It was a few blocks before I realized she hadn't spoken. Even in circumstances as sad as these, it was unlike Bella to be so quiet, for so long.
We were back at the house but I was reluctant to go in. Bella must've felt the same. She sat on the porch swing and patted the seat next to her in invitation. I was staring at her, trying to read her expression, guess at what she was thinking. To be honest, she was scaring me. "Bella, love. Please say something."
The most extraordinary thing happened. Her golden eyes glistened, shiny with the light from the window. Then they welled and I watched as one plump, pink tear overflowed and fell down her cheek. I caught it with my finger. "Esme said you couldn't cry," I said, stupidly.
Bella sniffed. "We're not supposed to be able to..." She was amazed too. I brought the tear to my lips, tasting sweet salt and the tang of copper.
"Why are you crying?" I whispered. Bella stared into my eyes, through me, straight into me. That electric pull, that magnetic connection was there, stronger than ever. I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe. My heart thumped unevenly in my chest as Bella held me in her gaze.
"I can't believe you would do this for me," she said, her voice a satin whisper. Her cold fingers traced along my cheekbones as she gazed at me with a tenderness I'd never seen before. "I'm going to miss your green eyes." I gasped. A surge of something, relief, pure joy crashed through me and I took her face in my hands, kissing her with the power of it. Long moments later I had to break away to breathe and she said it again. "I can't believe you would do this for me."
I laughed, half-sobbing, shaking my head. Would she never understand? "I have to." She shook her head but I laughed again. "I have to because it's going to take decades, centuries maybe, to show you what you mean to me. I'll prove it to you eventually." I pushed her hair aside and kissed her neck, behind her ear. She shivered and it thrilled me; I hoped Rose was a sound sleeper. "I'm going to enjoy every minute of convincing you. Bella, you'll never doubt how much I love you." She traced my lips with her fingertips. "I'd do anything for you," I whispered against her cold, silk skin.
Bella settled her head against my shoulder and we sat, watching the first snow of the season drift silently down. "I'm doing it for me, too," I said. I shook with suppressed laughter. "I've a notion to climb the Eiffel Tower – the outside of it. At night!"
Bella quivered in my arms. She was laughing with me. "We can swim there if you want to. Oh Edward, you'll love being underwater..."
I kissed the top of her head. "See? I'm doing this for us." Bella heaved a happy sigh. The snow fell in thicker flakes, reflecting the streetlamp light. It gave the illusion of solid, blinding white.
Every Morn and every Night, Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight, Some are Born to Endless Night.
"Forever," she said, softly. Incredulous. An impossible wish granted. I pulled her closer, breathing her in and grinned. Bella and I. Forever.
"Forever," I agreed. "It's the way it's supposed to be."
Wheeeeeeee! I can't believe I finished it! Thank you all for reading and your patience – I know my updating was sporadic. I've loved researching and writing this but, even more, I loved getting to know some of you during the process. Honestly, I don't think I could have gone on and finished without your words of encouragement. So big hugs and thank you to: tangling shadows, babbles, NoWayWithWords, rpgirl27, snickerdoodle6949, MyRobbie, AussieGirl101, Rita01tx, abinar, aerobbee82, bbbee and everyone who reviewed.
Thank you to Rob for saying in the Eclipse commentree that vamps probably have a "storage of tears". I agree. ;) Thank you to Rob for a variety of other reasons as well. Doo de doo...
Thanks to Quantum Fizzx and DeeDreamer16 for listening and telling me I'm normal even though it's clear I am not. LOL
Thank you to the not-to-be-named fic author who blog-ranted, ages ago, about historical fics. She scared me off writing this for six months BUT when I did get the balls to start it, I researched it well. Perhaps excessively.
I'm pressing complete so any outtakes, epilogue, future takes (those could be fun – Bella and Edward in 1970? 2029?) will be posted in the "Extras". Babbles started a thread for 1929 on Twilighted (link on my profile) so we can chat there if you like. Thanks again everyone! Mwah!