Disclaimer: SM owns it all.
Summary: We all have something that slightly irks us about the events in the Twilight Saga. For me, it was the fact that Edward's family seemed okay with him abandoning Bella in New Moon. I just couldn't swallow that. Surely, Esme and Carlisle had something to say about Edward's ridiculous decision to leave! So here is my version of what happened at the Cullen household leading up to the day they leave from Esme's POV…
Winner of the Judge's Pick - Summer 2010's Most Tragic Hour Writing Challenge and 2011 Winner of the Vampie's Awards One Trick Vampie (best one shot)
I knelt on the floor to gather them up. They made loud clinking sounds as they struck each other in the trashcan. The jagged pieces of glass represented how broken my family had now become. This was supposed to be Bella's 18th birthday celebration! But in a few brief seconds, so much had changed.
Jasper had attempted the ultimate of evils. He had tried to attack another family member (as I had already come to consider Bella a daughter). And although Bella suffered physical damage as a result of that attack, Jasper and Edward's relationship would also bear the scars. Could this family be mended and eventually heal as Bella's wounds would?
From the main room I stole a glance at Carlisle. He still stood at the window where he had watched Edward and Bella leave over thirty minutes ago. We would all be looking to him for strength in the aftermath of this latest catastrophe and I could sense he was preparing for the storm that would certainly come after this moment of calm. I knew to keep my distance as he gathered his thoughts.
I strained my ears to hear from my other children. Emmett had left with Rose as she would not stop raving "I told you this would happen!" Alice had not returned since she went out back to talk to Jasper.
The sound of the back door opening jolted Carlisle and I from our thoughts. Alice entered the room with a reluctant Jasper in tow. Carlisle turned from the window to face them, but did not speak, while I abandoned my cleaning attempt to stand at my husband's side.
Alice spoke first.
"Carlisle, Esme, I think it would be best if Jasper and I left for while."
When her eyes met ours, they reflected a great sadness. Jasper kept his eyes averted. Strangely, I felt as if his gift was working in reverse. I could feel remorse and agony rolling off of him in waves. And there was also doubt. Doubt he could ever master our lifestyle.
"Did Edward ask you to leave?" Carlisle asked pointblank.
"No," Alice shook her head emphatically. "In classic Edward style, he blamed himself for what happened."
"Then how can leaving this family help?" Carlisle challenged.
"If I may," Jasper spoke up quietly. "I respect this family too much. I am obviously a liability. Once I have better control, we'll come home."
"Were will you go?" I blurted out, not knowing which alarmed me more: the thought of them leaving or not knowing when or if they would return.
"Jasper wants to stay with Peter and Charlotte for a while."
Carlisle looked uneasy. "They do not refrain from their human bloodlust. You need to be with others who live the life you want to lead."
"Right now, I just don't fit in anywhere. Seeing some welcoming faces may help me think more clearly. But I can't stay here. Edward's emotions are…too overwhelming right now."
I looked at Carlisle and prayed, please don't let them go… But then a bubble of tranquility began to form inside my chest. It grew in size until it filled me with a soothing sense of calm.
Realization hit and my eyes flashed to Jasper's.
His sorrowful eyes were already locked on mine.
"It will be all right, Esme. We'll return someday, I promise."
The panic that welled up inside at hearing the final decision in his voice burst the bubble and Jasper frowned.
"I'm sorry. I really am." He dropped Alice's hand and bolted up the stairs.
Alice closed her eyes; the conflict she was experiencing was displayed on her sweet, childlike face. She didn't want to leave, but she had to choose her husband - her mate - over her coven and family.
"I can't see right now. I don't know the future of this family. Too many choices are being considered." Opening her eyes, she looked to Carlisle and I. "I am sorry too. I asked Jazz to try this way of life and he has tried. I guess we may need to take a few steps backward before we can go forward again. We'll leave before Edward returns. It will be easier for both of them that way. I love you both."
She hugged us and likewise flew up the stairs.
"Carlisle?" I pleaded one more time feeling like everything we had spent years building and nurturing was coming to a sudden end.
"I know," he said pulling me to him. "We have to let them go, Esme. They really aren't ours, nor are they children."
"Do you think they will come back?"
"I hope so." He kissed the top of my head. "Let's get this cleaned up. We're in for another round of crisis management when Edward returns."
But Edward did not return that evening, only stopping at the house in the morning to change before heading out to school.
The next day wasn't any better. Edward returned after school but quickly excused himself to hunt.
I sat at my desk, pencil in hand, but I had yet to make a mark on the blueprint in front of me. Staring out the window, I watched the sky change from shades of blues to dusky reds and finally deep purples. Alice's words played over in my head, "I don't know the future of this family, too many choices are being considered."
My gut told me something was brewing with Edward. He was the unknown Alice had cryptically referred to, I just knew it. And he was avoiding me and Carlisle.
Carlisle's prophetic words from Bella's first visit to our home came to mind, "…how could this end well?"
I had been so enraptured with seeing my too often brooding son brought to life, I had optimistically disregarded his words of warning. After all, love always finds a way – doesn't it?
Edward was a good soul. He deserved love. But now I wondered why it came in such an odd package. Fragile human. Singer. Silent mind.
Was he drawn in to her by her humanness, something he never wanted to give up?
Did he confuse love with the lust and desire he had for the blood that called to him? We always want what we cannot have. The more forbidden, the more it is coveted.
But mostly, I wondered if he had fallen for what her mind didn't say. She was a mystery to him, unlike any female before her. Unheard and unknown. A challenge and yet a refuge for him at the same time.
What drew him so strongly to her? Ultimately, did it matter?
Bella seemed just as drawn to Edward. Of course, she'd be attracted to him, as any human female would, but maybe the difference was he had let her in. She knew only what we had known – his capacity to love, his compassion, and loyalty. Nevertheless, she too had to realize how improbable it was that their relationship would last. Still she clung to him almost as if her life depended on him.
My thoughts worked in a complete circle, bringing me back to the beginning: what will happen next in a relationship so not meant to be, yet determined not to be dismissed?
Soft piano music floated into my thoughts from downstairs. I guess I would soon have my answer…
Drawn by the haunting beauty of his music and my curiosity, I padded to the top step. It was my favorite place to sit and listen to Edward play. While I remained out of his sight, he would play and I would listen to his mood as it coursed through his music. Eventually I would hear the familiar notes that made up my song. Then I knew he had caught the presence of my mind.
Tonight the music was sorrowful. Bitter sweet. Lonely. Moved by his emotions, I drifted down the stairs. Once I was within inches of him, his fingers froze. When they resumed their skillful dance over the keys, my song appeared.
I slid gently next to him on the smooth bench. We sat together in verbal silence while he played. I watch his face. It held no expression. There was no light in his eyes.
He ignored my mental question and continued to play my song through to the peaceful ending.
He rested his fingers on the keys and I waited and watched. When he removed them, it was to close the cover over the keys.
"I am done now."
The words held such finality.
"It is still the most exquisite composition I have ever heard and a most cherished gift, Edward."
"It is about endless beauty, gentle kindness, and generosity. It is my portrait of you in musical form. I wanted to play it for you one last time."
I abruptly closed my eyes to hide the sharp pain his words caused, but he didn't need to see my eyes to know.
"You're leaving." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yes," he answered nonetheless.
"What happened with Jasper –"
"Was an accident! We all make mistakes," my words were rushed and cracked, showing my desperation. What I said next proved it. "He left Edward. Alice and Jasper are gone. There's no reason for you to leave!" Don't do this…
For the first time since I sat next to him, he turned to look at me.
"I have to. I can't let it continue. Bella doesn't belong in our world any more that we belong in hers. James, Jasper and what next? Hasn't her life been threatened enough?" His hands balled into fists before he continued, "Isn't it clear I've brought nothing but disaster to her life?"
"You also saved her once."
"This is my chance to save her again, Esme."
"Why do you love her, Edward?"
My frank question took him by surprise and he was momentarily speechless.
"Bella…" he swallowed and visibly started to tremble."She is brilliant, yet meek. She glows with a beauty that comes from within and shines outwardly. She feels like home and makes me want to be more than I am. She fills my thoughts and I feel called to her. Her happiness is all that matters to me."
He looked shocked by his disclosure.
"Edward…is she…is she your mate?"
My words opened the flood gates and he broke.
The sobs came slowly and quietly at first, but he shook harder as I embraced him.
I was taken aback by his display of emotion. While I could always sense his emotions through the music he played, his movements and the color of his eyes, he mostly kept his emotional state in check – rarely losing control. The intensity of this emotional breakdown scared me. He was so exposed, so fragile and vulnerable. I held him tighter to protect him.
I placed kisses into his rumpled hair and whispered, "We're going with you."
My declaration stilled him for a brief second before he spoke, "No. This is my issue."
"If I were in need, Edward, would you not stand by me?"
He pulled away to look at me. "Of course I would."
"And when Emmett and Jasper had their times of weakness, did you stand by them?"
"Yes." His eyes drifted from mine as he had already arrived at the point I was about to make.
"We will stand by you now. I will not abandon my family – ever," I said, letting conviction fill my voice.
Carlisle appeared in the doorway.
"She's right, Edward. If you leave, we leave with you."
He nodded in resignation, opting not to take us both on. "Okay."
"Can I ask for one thing, Edward?" I tentatively questioned. "Will you wait…wait just a few days for things to settle. You may see things differently once you've calmed down and have a chance to think more clearly."
He stood from the piano and pulled himself to his full height and then stoically replied, "I can't wait, Esme. It has to be a clean, fast break. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. The sooner I leave, the sooner she can move on and forget. She deserves a real life with a human husband, babies, and a living family. If I love her, I have to do this – and do it while the motive is still fresh in my mind. If I wait, I'll weaken. I'm too selfish and I will find some reason to stay with her. I can't have it both ways - love and selfishness are incongruent."
"Edward, did you consider what your leaving will do to Bella? She feels very deeply about you. I know she loves you," Carlisle questioned.
"She's human. She will forget," Edward responded.
Though it violated his confidence, I acted reflexively, "Carlisle, she's his mate."
Carlisle's eyes flashed. "Is this true?"
"She will forget. I will not."
"Edward," Carlisle spoke emphatically, "You cannot walk away from a mate! She has irreversibly changed you! She will always call to you. You will never be complete without her."
Frustration gripped at Edward when he spoke, "I know, but that doesn't change the facts! She does not belong in our world – what happened on her birthday proved that. And I refuse to take her life, her soul, from her for my sake. If I love her, I need to prove that by letting her live a human life without interference from me."
"I will change her for you if you will not," Carlisle offered.
Edward released a growl and I stepped quickly between my husband and my son.
"You will not touch her, Carlisle," Edward ground out between clenched teeth.
Carlisle raised his hands in a show of concession. "I will respect your decision, Edward, but I do not agree with it. This will be your undoing."
Edward maintained his steely posture, "Then stay here in Forks where you feel you belong."
"No," I said abruptly hoping to stop the backward slide of the conversation. I was not about to lose any more of my family. "We will go with you."
"How soon can we leave?" Edward pushed.
"With everyone's help, we can be ready by day after tomorrow. But…where are we going?" I looked to Carlisle, and Edward answered bitterly, "I don't care, as long as it's far from here. I'm not coming back."
The moving truck rumbled out of sight, barely clearing the trees that encroached on the long gravel drive leading to the main road.
Emmett and Rose had gone ahead to prepare the house and greet the movers when they arrived. Carlisle and I planned to drive Edward after he said his goodbye to Bella, but he insisted on driving alone.
But with each passing hour, I felt more uneasy. It started in the pit of my gut and slowly worked its way to a conclusion in my head: This was all wrong.
I kept my opinion to myself though I had no doubt Edward knew what I was thinking. He had been steering clear of me in demonstration of his refusal to discuss it anymore.
If only Alice was here. Could she see now what was to happen? What the consequences of our decisions would be?
I was relieved I had secured Edward's promise to remain with the family, but now I feared for Bella. She had no idea what was about to hit her. She had proved she was physically strong, but I could see he had become her emotional anchor. With his admission that she was his mate, I could see they had indeed been orbiting each other, dependent on the other for happiness and meaning. Only cataclysmic disaster loomed for both of them. Why could Edward not see that?
On the day of our departure, Edward left the house early while Carlisle and I hunted.
I watched the clock as I counted down the hours for school to end and Carlisle to return from his exit interview from the hospital.
Alone and unoccupied, I boiled to a panic. I had to plead for them one more time. Grabbing my cell phone, I texted Edward.
Please reconsider Bella deserves 2b included in this decision Think of what harm may come 2 her if you leave
He responded - almost too quickly.
I'll make sure she is safely at home first
Feeling frustrated, I flopped on the crunchy plastic covered sofa. And then I made a desperate decision. I bolted out the door toward Bella's house with no plan in mind. I just needed to be there – for them.
I waited anxiously in the woods having arrived before Bella and Edward.
His car approached and he pulled in her drive, but waited in the car as I hovered at the edge of the woods contemplating my next move. He flung his head back against the headrest, worry etched on his features. Then his expression changed. He was angry. He had sensed my presence.
"What are you doing here, Esme?" he spoke evenly.
"I don't know," I answered him verbally. "I just can't see it end this way, Edward. There has to be another solution. You've finally found love and it's a love that is returned in kind. How can you walk away?"
Bella's thundering vehicle announced its impending arrival.
"Leave please, Esme. I have to do this. Don't interfere – it's hard enough."
I looked on from deeper within the trees as he greeted her, his tone bereft of emotion. It raised an alarm for Bella and anxiety clouded her face.
I listened helplessly, hiding in the woods like a coward, as he coldly told he was leaving - we all were leaving her.
He lied as he told her he didn't want her and that she wasn't good for him. I watched as he broke her with his words, causing more internal damage than either attack from James or Jasper ever had.
When he remembered my warning and asked her not to do anything reckless and to go on with her life, she reached for him. He stopped her, pinning her arms at her side.
I wept for Edward.
He had renounced his mate, in essence, tearing himself in two. I had stood by and observed his ruin. I cursed him and myself.
Then I pleaded silently for Bella to do something.
But she didn't. She swallowed his lies whole. She doubted her hold on him and he took total advantage of that. Could she not see how she had changed him?
"This is ridiculous, Edward!" I could hold my tongue no longer. "I won't let you make the biggest mistake of your life!"
But before I could move to confront them, he appeared inches before me. His eyes glinted wildly with barely controlled anger and fear. He looked crazed.
"Stay away from her, Esme. It has to be this way. You will only make it harder on her. You can't change this – it's not your choice."
And with that, he was gone. The squeal of tires hitting the pavement confirmed his final exit.
Then I heard her…
The initial shock had worn off and panic overflowed her voice.
She lurched in my direction, walking at first before attempting a run through the uneven woods.
Swiftly I moved ahead while keeping an eye on her haphazard movements.
She continued to call for him. A lone voice in the dead silence. But he was gone and no matter how long she cried out to him, there would be no answer.
She stumbled and I started in her direction. But what would I say to her? It will be okay. Useless words. Edward loves you. What good would that do when he was gone?
Bella avoided a fall by catching herself on a tree trunk, blood oozed from the cuts inflicted on her hands by the wet, jagged bark.
I wept for her.
Her voice became hoarse and she could only whisper his name over and over. She stumbled repeatedly as she wondered aimlessly through the darkening forest. How could he leave her lost and alone? But I knew he too was lost and alone and would remain so as long as he was away from Bella.
She faltered in the darkness and this time she fell. I cried out to her and prayed she still had the strength to get up. But with her will gone and physically exhausted from traipsing the slippery terrain for hours, she curled up in a ball and sobbed. Eventually, she cried out, "Alice, help me!" before muttering "He's gone. He's gone."
Her shaking finally ceased and she was still and silent. I stood over her, a worthless guardian angel.
Then I heard them. Charlie and Jacob were calling to Bella, the beams of their flashlights frantically searching for her. As they moved closer to where I stood, I backed away and watched. But at only twenty feet from her, they abruptly changed direction.
With a sigh, I resumed my muted vigil as rain began to fall from the cold moonless sky.
It was not long after that I smelled him. Wet dog.
My nose crinkled at the scent I couldn't have been more joyful to detect approaching. Another being who had a dark secret to keep. Someone I could confide in.
I left Bella's side and went to him – alone - taking the risk I had to take for her.
He was closing in on me quickly, a warning growl was sent ahead meant to alert me to my tenuous situation. But I could not leave her. Breathlessly I waited for his arrival.
Teeth bared he emerged from the shadows. I had forgotten how incredibly large they were.
Saliva hung in thick strands from his jaws and the fur on his back stood on end, making him appear even bigger.
I raised my hand in a show of surrender and spoke hurriedly, while my head still remained attached.
"Bella is here. She's unharmed, Sam Uley. I'll take you to her and then I will leave once I know she is safely with you."
His posture remained unchanged. While I feared for my life, I remembered the words of strength I had said over Bella. She needed me to be strong now. Against every instinct in my body, I turned my back to Sam and walked in Bella's direction. "Follow me," I croaked out, leading the way.
From behind, I could hear the sounds of twigs and branches snapping in his wake. Self-preservation screamed warnings in my head and pushed me to flee. I shuddered wondering if he would attack once he found Bella in her pathetic state of shock, assuming I had caused her injury.
Stopping short of Bella's location, I pointed, "She's there."
The beast growled threateningly and I froze in place as he passed me to investigate.
The cold rain fell harder and it startled Bella back to reality. Her feeble mutterings resumed, "He's gone. Help me. He's gone."
Sam returned and glared at me. I assumed he was looking for an explanation, so I started talking. "She got lost in the woods. I couldn't go to her – it's a long story. Suffice it to say she is unharmed except for a broken heart. Take care of her and tell your tribe the Cullens have left this area. I don't foresee we will be returning… May I go now?"
He dipped his head and I bolted. The sooner I left, the sooner Bella could be helped. I knew he wouldn't change to human form until I put distance between us.
As my legs propelled me forward, I listened. "Bella?" Sam spoke kindly to her. Then he lowered his voice and grumbled, "Thank you, Cullen. Don't come back."
Emotionally spent and adrenaline drained, I collapsed on the soaked ground. The sobs ripped from my throat and I grieved the loss of Alice and Jasper. I grieved for Bella's pain and Edward's torn soul. And I grieved for myself and the strength I did not possess to change things.
"Don't cry, love."
He was here. My rock.I looked up at him, rainwater dripped on me from his face and hair. I was embarrassed by my weakness.
He held his hand out to me. "Let's go home. It's the start of another chapter, Esme. We'll see it through if our foundation stays strong. You and me – together."
I nodded, finding a lifeline in his words, and took his hand.
Carlisle pulled me up. He held me close and carried me to the road where the Mercedes waited.
"Where's Edward?" I asked him.
"He went ahead."
Reaching the car, Carlisle opened the passenger side door. I climbed in, relieved to be out of the pouring rain. Carlisle started the car and we began the trip to our new home.
"How will this end, Carlisle?"
His soft eyes caught mine. "If there is one thing we've learned from our relationship, it's that love is a journey, not a destination. Bella and Edward will find a path back to each other. I just pray they do so quickly and safely."
A/N: This was very difficult to write - all the emotions involved from everyone involved. But am so glad to have finally been able to write these events down. They came to me a few months ago in the image of Edward saying a farewell to his music, knowing it would never be the same again. Just not enough to fill him anymore.
It was at this point I think he knew that Bella was his mate. I feel it is in the same vain as imprinting, it would have been something he felt deeply, it was life changing and could not be dismissed. I would love to hear your thoughts on this entry!
Parent story to this is "Carlilse and Esme: How the Love Story Began" and the series of Carlisle and Esme outtakes is titled "Through Their Eyes". Both can be found through my profile.
Reviews/comments are appreciated.