Disclaimer: I own none of the characters.
Searching for Bella
Dear Edward and Renesmee,
I'm writing this from a tiny café in London. I can't see any major landmarks from here, but earlier I went to the Victoria Embankment and walked over the bridge from parliament to the museums that line the riverside. I stood under a replica of one of Salvador Dali's elephants and watched two students break dancing. It made me smile. It's raining at the moment and I'm pretending to drink a cup of coffee. The table tops are grimy and the chairs are rather lumpy with the padding getting old. There's a man with a guitar in the corner, singing softly. He has more facial piercings than I've ever seen on a person before. The girl who served me my coffee is watching him as though she loves him. He sometimes smiles at her as he sings. It's the way that you look at me, Edward, or the way that you, Renesmee, look at Jake.
It makes me miss you.
How often do High School Sweethearts work out in the real world?
Edward and I were supposed to be exceptional and in so many ways, we were. We were exceptional vampires, with an exceptional family and our exceptional daughter. It was ideal and romantic and my teenage self was star struck by it all.
But after ten years, twenty, thirty… the shine began to fade. Charlie and Renee both passed away, not that I saw them often.
It should have been happily ever after and for so long, it was. Then I began to look at what other people had. At my classmates. At my friends, who were growing old and having families and taking holidays, going to college and doing silly, mundane things like family days.
I don't regret becoming a vampire, not ever. I love my husband, my daughter, my family. But the lines became blurred and I couldn't tell who I was. Was a mother and wife all that I was? Who was Bella Cullen?
What had happened to Bella Swan?
Tokyo is beautiful, but I didn't stay there long. There were too many people, so instead I went to some of the smaller cities, such as Kunitachi and Hamura. I visited some temples and they were beautiful; ancient and meaningful. The cherry blossoms are in bloom and I have pressed some between these pages. I thought you might like them.
I felt trapped, unable to turn. Trapped by love and adoration. There are worse cages, but in a way, it was more painful than steel bars and barbed wire because it wasn't just me who would be hurt.
I couldn't just run, although there were times where the thought crossed my mind, just for a split second before I composed myself, unable to bear Alice's judgement. I had to be so careful around her and Jasper, who would be able to sense my turmoil in an instant.
I went to check in on Renesmee, who still lived with us. Jake was out running with Emmett somewhere nearby. I bent over my daughter and smoothed back the copper curls, kissing her soft, warm cheek until I was afraid the love would force my still heart out of my chest. How was it possible to love someone this much and still be so torn about what I wanted?
As I left her room, Edward stood beside me, kissing my throat softly.
"Alright, my love?"
"Yes." I murmured, returning his kiss but being careful to keep my mind blank and my shield close. I could not, would not hurt him this way.
One day, Renesemee, I will bring you to Ireland. It is stunning. I passed through Galway two days ago and it is beautiful. I am writing this letter from County Kerry, sat outside a 'traditional' Irish pub. The man who bought me my pint of Guinness was friendly, even through his wariness and the sound of his lilting voice is so peaceful.
Night is falling and music has struck up inside the bar. I watched as one man began to play a violin and another struck in with a penny whistle and another with an accordion. It was a stereotypical scene and I didn't expect this sort of thing to actually happen. The music is not perfectly in tune but it makes me feel so happy, as though Jasper has twisted my emotions to their highest and I am laughing along with the humans here, who are so strange in their acceptance. It makes me feel human again and I wish you were here to feel it too.
I missed being able to sleep. For some reason, I feel that if I could sleep, I could overcome these strained feelings, that if I were able to have just a few minutes to myself, with no one listening or watching, I could be myself again. I understood at last why Edward pressured me to have those human experiences. I wished that I had listened and taken hold of them, but it was too late.
The change came one night in October. The whole family was gathered in the main house in Alaska, where we were split into smaller groups, Edward and Renesmee sat at the piano, laughing at each other as they played silly ditties. Jacob was watching with a grin as Emmett and Jasper watched some new sitcom. Alice, Esme, Carlisle, Rose and I were playing scrabble. I had just taken my turn with 'motive' and was waiting as Rose picked through her tiles and lay down the word 'freedom'.
I stared at that word for an eternity.
What had been lost? What had I missed? Why couldn't I just be happy with what I had?
But I couldn't. I was lost in love, stranded in kindness with my family and husband adoring me and all I wanted was to run and try new things and find myself because I was so lost…
I snapped to attention to find Jasper and Edward both staring at me. The piano had fallen silent.
I passed through Canterbury on my way to Dover. I'm going to travel through France for a while and then towards Germany. I'm staying well away from Italy, Edward, don't worry.
I had read The Canterbury Tales and I tried to imagine myself as a pilgrim as I walked down the main street in the city, from the West Gate and the river and down the small side path to the Cathedral gate. The gate is surrounded by a little square with candy shops, a Starbucks, and some tourist shops. There was a busker sat on a monument and I looked up at the gate, at the statues of the saints and of Jesus. I went into the cathedral and I sat in the back row and I prayed. I prayed that you are all safe and that you know how much I love you.
"I don't understand why you're doing this, Bella." The agony in Edward's voice made me want to double over in pain. The forests were pitch-black but I could see him clearly. We had had to run. We couldn't have had this conversation with the others listening in.
I wrapped my arms around my waist.
"Edward… I love you. You know that I love you."
"Then why are you leaving? Alice saw it… she saw you going, wandering and leaving us behind." He whispered, his eyes fixed on mine as though pleading with me to say it was a lie and laugh it off and take him in my arms. I couldn't.
How could I tell him that I didn't know if I was the same Bella that he'd fallen in love with? Who truly knows themselves at seventeen, eighteen? How could I explain that I loved him, would always love him, but I couldn't stay because I felt as though we were one entity now and that thought terrified me?
I met another vampire the other day. I was in La Rochelle and I smelt him. He had a victim already and he was already drinking from the boy. That's all that he was, a boy of fourteen or fifteen. I pulled him away but I was too late. He was dead.
He was so young, Edward. Younger than either of us were when we changed and it breaks my heart to think of all the things that he might have done. It isn't right. I chose my change – I had a choiceand he didn't, he's just gone.
"Who am I, Edward?" I begged him to reply and he blinked at me in surprise.
"Bella… you're Bella. You're my wife, the love of my life. You're Renesmee's mother, a sister, a daughter… Bella, I don't understand."
"I don't know who I am anymore, Edward." I laid my hand on the rough bark of the tree, feeling the tiny sensation of an insect crawling less than an inch away from my fingers, "I feel like I lost myself. I used to be Bella who looked after Renee. Then I was Bella who looked after Charlie and then I was a wife and a mom and I don't… know…" My voice trailed away as Edward's arms wrapped around my waist, his face buried in the crook of my neck. He was trembling with anger and fear and desperation and I rested my forehead against the tree, my throat closing with emotion.
"Bella, please. Please."
I've stayed in this small cabin in Russia for over a week now. It's quiet and peaceful. I've reread some of my favourite books that I keep in my handbag. They smell like home, Edward. I think that my journey might be coming to an end. I see things but they don't impress me the way they did.
Everything reminds me of you, Edward. I'll walk through a marketplace and see some cheap necklace. A topaz stone will catch my eye and I'll see your face. A burnished bronze statue will make me think of your hair and I want to scream.
I hunted a bear today and the kill would have been worthy of Emmett. I think he would have enjoyed it, it was very rich and salty, more flavoursome than our native bears.
I kissed his face again and again, begging with him not to hate me.
"I have to, Edward."
"We can go. You and me and Renesmee, just… just give us a couple of days to pack our things and we'll go!" He pleaded desperately with me and then he saw my expression.
In an instance he was across the clearing, his back turned to me as he stared down at the floor. Discomfort prickled my stomach and I reached out a hand towards him.
"Is this because I left?"
The words were like an arrow to my heart and I gasped.
"Edward, no! How can you think that?"
"I don't understand why else you'd leave!" He spat and anger erupted in my cold chest as I ran at him, seizing him by the arms.
"Because you aren't listening! For all your abilities to hear, you aren't listening! Edward, I'm scared to stay here! I can't just be a wife and a mother and nothing else! I was too young to do those things, I know that now!"
"You regret it?"
"Not for a single minute." I whispered and pulled his face down to mine, pressing my lips to his, "Not ever. But I regret not doing other things."
"Why can't I do those things with you? Bella, we do everything together." He pleaded, one last ditch attempt.
I shook my head.
"Because if you come, I'll still be Bella Cullen, Edward's wife. I still won't be able to find what I'm looking for."
He didn't speak, staring down at me as though I was going to dissolve in his arms at any slight movement. I traced his jaw with a finger until he gave a shuddering breath.
"You should go. Now. Before Alice sees and tries to stop you." He said softly. I swallowed hard and reached up to kiss him again, savouring the taste of him on my lips.
"Tell them I love them. Nessie especially." I whispered, "And you. I love you, so much."
He nodded but his lips were pushed together and both knew that if he tried to speak again, he'd beg me to stay again and I would break us by refusing.
I turned and began to run as my heart cracked and I felt his begin to break.
I went to Forks and visited Charlie's grave tonight. No one saw me, it's as though I were a ghost in this town. I sat and told him all about you and Renesmee. About how much we miss him.
The dawn arrived whilst I was talking and I realised that I'm tired of searching for Bella Swan. Bella Swan was a child, Edward, who was so certain that she had everything. Bella Cullen was the one who became less certain, that she was missing out on something. I love being Renesmee's mom and I love being your wife and it took walking the world, took doing all those things that I thought I needed to do to find that Bella never left the two of you.
I am Bella. I like reading and playing chess. I like lying in the sun and listening to you play the piano. I like being with our family, with our brothers and sisters. I like watching Jacob and Renesmee play those videogames you hate.
And I love you. I love you, Edward. I have loved you my whole life, because my life began when I found you. I became the person I am because I found you and being away from you has just proven to me that Bella can only exist where there is Edward. I am Bella because I have Edward. Does that make sense?
Even if it doesn't, it doesn't matter.
I think I'll deliver this letter by hand.
My love, always.
A/N: Plot bunny, had to be written. Leave me one!