Third Wife Persona (A Means to an End)

(3rd POV)

Freshly fallen snow coated the ground in the aftermath of the snowstorm which had trapped them in the night before. A sandy wolf stood over the shredded tent that had protected the two lovers through the night, and communicated silently to them. Edward shouted out for him to go and the wolf swiftly disappeared into the forest, leaving them alone in the clearing.

Bella shook with fear, her eyes wide as she struggled to get Edward to talk to her. He didn't listen, focused as he was on protecting her at all costs; he would not allow any harm to come to her and now he was the only one there to protect her. His family were too far to come to their aid this time, too busy defending themselves.

Edward tensed as he heard the thoughts approaching. Victoria and another male were fast enclosing on their target. They had split from the group to lurk in the forest to wait to see what happened and had come across his trail. They guessed he wouldn't be far from his love and they were right.

In a desperate attempt to seek a more easily defended area, he picked Bella up and flashed with speed, depositing her with her back against the cliff face as he crouched in front of her. His teeth were bared in an animalistic gesture as he waited, frozen in place. Every inch of him wanted to destroy the thing that had caused his love so much distress, threatened her not once, but twice. But he restrained himself knowing he could not act out of foolishness and risk not only his own life, but that of Bella's.

Victoria came slowly, her thoughts taunting him with all he had to lose. She has to die for what he did to my James, she thought. She will die. But how should I do it? Slowly, definitely slowly and painfully, oh yes. Maybe, I could make Him watch as I destroy her life. She pictured herself holding Bella's battered and bloodied form, limp in her arms as the blood flowed to the ground and her body cooled.

Edward snarled viciously at the imagery, shrugging away the rising feeling of agony and dread. The image was so similar to the ballet studio that it dredged up the horrible memory of her still frame, how he had believed he was too late to save her. No, he hissed to himself, not again. She would not get her hands on his precious Bella, not if he had anything to do with it.

Finally, the fiery red head stood at the edge of the clearing, her head tilted to the side as she appraised his position in front of her prize. How foolish if he thinks he can stop me, she thought sadistically. The young male was at her side, looking unsure but determined to fight for the one he loved and who he thought loved him.

Bella trembled as she realised what the danger was, why Edward was behaving like this. Victoria had found her and come for her and now Edward was preparing to fight for their lives. But despite this, she felt some relief at knowing the numbers were fewer for the rest of her extended family.

For a moment, no one moved. Then, in a movement so fast that Bella had no hope of trying to see, the red haired demon was crouched down, challenging Edward. Snarls were erupting from all over the place, breaking the stiff silence that had descended as the two prepared to face off in a final battle.

"You don't want to listen to her, Riley," Edward spoke in an alluring voice, his deep eyes penetrating the newborn's own red ones. "She doesn't want you, Riley," he continued, filtering the agitated, swarming thoughts of Victoria and focusing solely on Riley. He was the weakness here, if he could even the playing field, or delay the inevitable fight for a while then he would have a better chance of winning.

Riley hesitated, casting a longing glance towards Victoria, who didn't even spare him a look in return, too concentrated on her rage at the bronze haired vampire. "You suspected that, didn't you?" Edward asked, obviously picking the doubt straight from his mind, "You wondered if she was just using you."

This time, the newborn took a step away, now distracted from his task, and he glanced around warily, seeking assurance. Victoria was furious. She had no caring for this pathetic boy, but he was useful in her revenge and now this vampire sought to turn him against her and she would not have that.

"Riley," Victoria began seductively, "Surely you don't believe that, right?" His attention turned to her again and inwardly, she smiled. You have not won this yet, Edward, she thought. "You know I wouldn't do that. I was the one who saved you after all," she persuaded.

Edward watched the newborn's thoughts as they swirled, alternating in direction, unsure of who to believe. "I told you I would keep you with me, remember?" She prodded.

Riley nodded and smiled slightly, his purpose returning. "And you believe me, right?" Victoria insisted, "I would never lie to you, Riley. He's the traitor, remember?" Riley nodded again, with more resolve this time as his intent grew.

His gaze focused back on Edward, and Edward knew that he had lost him. The newborn braced himself; he was determined not to be undermined again. Without a last thought, he launched himself towards the vampire protecting his love.

Edward was ready for his attack, but a nearby murmur of consciousness alerted him to another presence. He smiled as he caught the mental voice of the overeager wolf, Seth. The sandy wolf barrelled at the young vampire and caught his shoulder between his teeth, throwing him away from Edward and Bella.

The fight was now even, but Victoria was not going to give up her chance at getting the girl. She allowed all of her rage and pain over James' death to fill her as she attacked. Edward darted forward to meet her and they began a complex duel, almost dancelike in its appearance.

Every move she made was both anticipated and intercepted by Edward and she was steadily growing more and more frustrated. She needed this to end, now. She locked onto Bella's quaking form and snarled again, low and deep as she bent. Edward growled furiously as he read her intentions and crashed into her again, the collision sending her flying into the forest.

Meanwhile, Seth was excitedly tearing into the young vampire every chance he got. Riley was now missing his hand and his shoulder had been partially detached. He was in pain, but he wanted to do this for Victoria, even if he didn't understand her motives properly.

In his eagerness, the newborn caught Seth off guard and sent him ploughing into the rock face. Dizziness and pain washed over him and he whimpered slightly as he lay still. He looked up briefly and saw the vampire had lowered his guard in his triumph so he wasn't paying attention.

He may be a new wolf, but he was far from stupid. He saw the opportunity this offered and pretended to be seriously injured, playing an easy target as the newborn approached and he waited for the perfect moment to strike.

The sounds of fighting nearly overwhelmed Bella. All of the fear she felt – for Edward and Seth and for the rest of the Cullens – seemed to flood her in that moment. And in that moment, her mind chose to remind her of a story, one of the legends Jacob had once told her: the story about the Third Wife.

She looked towards where she could vaguely see Edward fighting with Victoria. He's risking his life to protect mine, she thought desperately. But I can't live without him. Bella looked down and found a rock near her feet. Another look at Edward fighting for both of their lives and she took the rock in her injured hand.

Near her, she could see the wolf still whimpering in terrible pain. He's just a boy, her mind despaired. He has to live. Slowly, she raised her hand to her other wrist and stared at her love. Edward, I'm sorry, she whispered mentally, wishing he could somehow hear it.

Victoria saw the instant the girl moved and risked moving her gaze from her opponent for a second. But what she saw made no sense to her, what is that stupid child doing with that rock?

Edward, reading her mind, felt his eyes widen in horror as he saw what his love was planning. The image of the third wife from the legend crossed his mind briefly and he cursed Jacob for even telling her that particular story. He had to stop her, and now. He spun around to reach for her, but found Victoria dragging him back, away from his worst nightmare.

He felt powerless, as he struggled with renewed desperation, to prevent something that would forever haunt his memory. To watch as his loved one bled to death. With his heart, and from experience, he knew he couldn't survive that. So he turned quickly and with a growl, used all of his strength and threw his attacker away, tearing her arms from their sockets in the process.

Time froze for him in that instant. A snap shot of reality that would be with him always. Victoria sailed into the forest once more, her face contorted in pain, with her injured arms hanging limply. He saw in slow motion as the tree she hit cracked on impact.

He saw as Riley turned to watch her and then as Seth took advantage and leaped at him, rendering him helpless. The sharp noise of stone on stone as he was ripped into pieces filled the air.

But, above all of that and by far the most important to him, was the sound of soft, delicate flesh tearing. The scent of fresh blood permeated his senses, but he lacked the feeling of the usual blood lust for this wasn't any ordinary blood. This blood meant more to him than anything in the world because it was the life fluid of his life, his love, his soul.

Edward stared in fear and horror as Bella's face paled and she fell to her knees, the blood flowing freely down her arm. All sound seemed muted to him as he watched and he knew she would easily lose too much from the wound she had inflicted upon herself.

The scent of spilled blood reached Victoria's sensitive nose and she lost herself to the bloodlust. As quick as her feet would carry her, she was racing towards the source of the delectable meal, not caring for anything that would get in her way. The only thing she saw was the blood.

This preoccupation was all it took for Edward to take her down. She was in pieces before she could ever reach the weakened form of Bella. It took only an instant for him to destroy her, sending her to join her mate and the rest of her army.

But Edward couldn't find any satisfaction in her death, for Bella's life still hung in the balance. He rushed to her side, his sharp eyes taking in the spattered blood that contrasted so vividly with the white of the snow, the blood covered rock that was still clasped in his love's limp hand and the blood that still ran from the severed blood vessels on her wrist.

"Bella!" Edward cried out in agony at the sight of her. His hands found her face and cupped her cheeks tenderly, silently begging her to open her eyes for him. Her skin was cooler to the touch and it scared him. "Bella, can you hear me?" He asked desperately as he listened to the weakening sounds of her heartbeat. "Bella, please," he pleaded, "Open your eyes, Bella, please. For me."

Seth stood to the side, unsure what to do. He felt Edward's pain as he called to his love and his own concern for his friends, but he didn't know how to help. Seth, what's going on? The voice of his Alfa, Sam, called to him.

Bella's hurt, he whimpered in reply. The rest of the pack responded to his statement with whines and in Jacob's case, a heart wrenching howl. Carlisle! He suddenly thought. Can you send the doctor here? He asked them.

Sam shifted to his human form when he found the vampire doctor and delivered the news and the location of his two children. Carlisle felt his heart ache at the thought of more suffering coming to them as they had already been through so much. Before another minute had passed Carlisle was running towards them, with Alice staring anxiously at his back.

Edward's arms wrapped themselves around Bella's small body and pulled her tenderly to his chest. "Bella," he called again, softly, sadly. His throat felt choked with unshed tears, tears that he would never be able to shed no matter what happened. With one hand he applied pressure to the jagged wound, over the torn strip of his shirt that he had wrapped tightly around her arm. The only thing he could do for now was to wait for his father to arrive and pray that she would be alright.

Bella stirred lightly, the call of an angel had descended through the fog and reached her protected mind. As she roused and became aware, she remembered what had happened, what she had done. The voice called again and she knew she recognised it. It was Edward. She couldn't leave him behind, knowing what he would do without her. So she started fighting. "Edward," she spoke softly as her eyes fluttered open, her call barely audible to those without super hearing.

But Edward could hear her. He pulled her closer to his frozen body, feeling her pulse thrumming against his skin and gazing into her brown eyes. "I'm here, Bella," he told her, unable to completely mask the fear and panic he held. Carefully, he brushed his fingers across her face, sweeping her hair back and rubbing her cheek with the pad of his thumb. "Just stay with me, Bella, okay? Keep your eyes open."

She found the strength to nod once, and then allowed herself to be mesmerised by his swirling, anxious golden eyes. In them, she could see all of his fear and pain and she felt the guilt at knowing she was responsible for that. "I love you. I'm sorry," she whispered.

"I love you too, Bella. So much," Edward said softly, his hand gently stroking her hair soothingly, both for her comfort and his own. "Carlisle is here," he added, his father's thoughts now prominent in his mind.

"Edward," Carlisle greeted as he crouched down next to him, giving a comforting smile to a sickly looking Bella. His doctor mind swiftly analysed the situation, judging that Bella had lost a lot of blood, but seemed to have only one wound. Edward nodded in agreement with his thoughts. "What happened?" He asked, removing the improvised bandage to inspect the damage.

Edward stiffened, unwilling to recount what he had just witnessed. Carlisle watched him warily, understanding his reaction. He decided to wait for that kind of information and concentrated on fixing Bella.

The wound was deep, but the bleeding had already slowed, thanks to Edward's swift thinking. "She's needs stitches," he noted, "And maybe a blood transfusion. We'll have to get her back to the house."

In compliance, Edward scooped her up and cradled her in his arms. Bella was still pale, but she had managed to keep her eyes open and she stared blearily up at him as he ran, trying not to focus on the smell of blood.

"Is everyone okay?" Bella asked, suddenly panicked, having not seen the rest of the family yet. She looked up at Edward imploringly and he smiled tenderly in return, but it was Carlisle who answered her.

"Everyone else is just fine," he assured her, with a wry smile. It was typical of his newest daughter to put others before herself, even when injured as she was. "The others are just concerned with how you are," he added.

"Including the wolves?" She persisted anxiously, much to the disapproval of Edward, who was thinking that she should just be worried about her own welfare right now. But he wouldn't expect any less than this from her and he loved how selfless she could be, provided she wasn't putting herself in danger because of it.

Carlisle chuckled at her stubbornness. "Yes, they are all safe and fine, back in La Push," he responded, "But right now, we need to get you sorted out." They had arrived at the house now and Edward carried her straight into his bedroom and laid her on the bed carefully.

Bella winced as her arm was jostled, but tried to cover it up. Edward noticed, though, and his expression became even more pained and anxious. The doctor took her damaged arm into his cool fingers and proceeded to clean the wound, removing pieces of granite as he went.

Now that the rush of adrenaline from her fear for her family had faded, Bella felt exhaustion hit her suddenly and she slumped against the pillows. "Bella?" Edward questioned anxiously. She turned to him weakly and he frowned in concern.

His father was watching her as well as expertly stitching her wound closed and bandaging it. He placed one hand firmly on her forehead, observing the pale, clamminess of her skin. Her blood pressure was very low and he knew he had to give her a blood transfusion.

He looked to his son with a question in his eyes. Edward shook his head. "I'll stay," he stated firmly. Nothing and no one would make him leave his love in a time like this.

Carlisle acknowledged his statement and left to gather the things he needed. They would deal with everything else after Bella had been treated and he knew that Edward would need some time alone with Bella before joining the rest of them.

Later that night, Edward lay on the bed, holding a sleeping Bella in his arms. She still looked tired and pale, but a whole lot better than when he had first brought her back to the house. He thanked whatever entity that had allowed her to survive yet another potentially deadly situation, though he wasn't sure how many more he could take or that Bella could live through.

He waited, somewhat impatiently, for his love to awaken so that he could see for himself that she would be alright. Carlisle had told him some hours earlier, after administering her with some pain meds that she would recover just fine with no lasting trauma. But he needed to see her, alive and awake, to properly allow himself to believe that.

Eventually, some six hours later, Bella finally showed signs of stirring. "Bella," Edward sighed softly as she blinked open her eyes to peer up at him. His hand found her cheek, lightly touching her warm skin while his other arm pulled her closer. He leaned down and pressed his lips lovingly to her forehead as his eyes slid closed and he relished the feeling of her safe in his arms once more. "You have no idea how worried I was," he murmured.

"I'm sorry, Edward," Bella apologised, regretting that he had suffered because of what she had done. "I just wanted to help," she mumbled pathetically, "He was going to kill Seth."

Edward let out a strained laugh. "Oh, you silly girl," he chastised, "It was a ruse. Seth was only pretending to be hurt so he could catch the newborn off guard."

"A...ruse?" Bella blinked confusedly. He had been pretending? "But...I thought-"

"Yes, I know what you thought," Edward snapped, frowning darkly. He sighed and ran a hand through his already messed up hair, leaving it in even more disarray. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to shout at you. You have no idea how much you scared me, Bella," he admitted roughly, "Seeing you, pale and unconscious – so near to death...It brought back things I would rather not remember."

Remorse filled Bella and she turned her head up to place a feather light kiss on his mouth. "I'm sorry," she mumbled again.

Edward pulled Bella back slightly so he could look into her face. He traced the back of his hand across her cheekbone as he stared at her intently. "Promise me, Bella," he said seriously, "Promise me that you won't try and do something like that again. I don't think I could handle it another time."

Bella smiled back, pressing her palm to the side of his frigid face. "Of course," she said with matching intensity, "I promise."

"Thank you," Edward breathed, gratefully. His eyes brimmed with love and he leaned in slowly to place his mouth to hers in a soft, lingering kiss. Their lips moulded together, encompassing all of their love and affection and tenderness in the simple connecting action. "I love you," he told her when they parted.

"I love you, too," she answered him, "Forever."

"Forever," Edward agreed.

Fin.


Written for the 'I Can't Believe It's Not Canon Challenge'

Author's Note: Okay, so I had a bit of inspiration when I found this contest and decided to write this and give it a shot. I really hope you all have enjoyed reading this and I would appreciate listening to your comments. Was it good? Bad? Could possibly be improved? Let me know what you think.

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