A/N: I blame EmeryBoard's Twilight MST for this metafic. …That may not be entirely fair, since there's a far more direct link to the unholy crack that is the Twilight/Death Note crossover I have mouldering on my laptop, but I still contend that I never considered writing Twilight fic before I read that MST.
The Art of Self-Deception
She says her life ends when Edward leaves. She says nothing at all, lets her silence speak for her.
There's a vast, echoing emptiness where Edward used to be; she is hollowed out and scraped clean and without Edward to fill her she is reduced to nothing.
She thought of her love as being irrevocable, immutable – self-destructive and passionate and the epitome of all that love should be. Shouldn't there be pain, then, when its source is taken away?
It doesn't hurt, it doesn't – she doesn't feel anything. It's okay. It's just… okay. Isn't it supposed to hurt, when your heart tears itself free of your chest and runs away?
This is how she knows her heart is still there, that he didn't take it with him. This is how she knows she doesn't love him as much as she thought.
This is why she can't think, can't hear, can't see, can't feel for months on end, because then she would have to know herself, then she would have to admit -
"I'm so weak," she whispers.
"What's that?" Jacob asks.
"Nothing," she says.
She is nothing, she is empty, she is without awareness. She is devastatingly in love because the alternative is unthinkable.
Bella has always avoided Dracula. It's hard – for a creature without a reflection, his likeness is visible everywhere – but it's possible to catch nothing but glimpses. So her first meeting with him is a shock, cracking the spine of her cheap classics selection book and finding a hawk-faced moustached old man greeting her, sharp-nailed and fur-palmed, red lips peeling back from sharp white teeth in a smile she can't believe doesn't send Harker running.
"Welcome to my house," he says in his barely accented English. "Enter freely and of your own will."
Right there is the point, she decides – it is a choice. She can hardly call Harker a fool for taking a step closer. Didn't she do exactly the same thing?
But Edward (smiles like a tiger that knows the prey is crippled) is beautiful, Edward (invites her closer with his every warning) doesn't want to hurt her, Edward … is beautiful. So beautiful. What does Edward have to do with Dracula resting in his coffin, bloated with stolen blood?
What doesn't he?
Filtered through another's horror, Bella almost reaches an understanding of what it is to be afraid of vampires. Then she throws the book at the wall and turns back to Heathcliff and Cathy, and fails to recognise the truth there either.
She takes a piece of paper, divides it neatly in two. reasons to become a vampire, she writes at the top, and her pen hovers for a long time under the 'cons' column. In the end she moves left and writes be with Edward first and then be beautiful under it, because she prefers thinking herself a martyr for love over being an average teenage girl, eager to fit in with someone, anyone.
She writes, strength, speed, increased senses, power.
She writes, eternity.
She will be herself, but better. She will be Edward's equal; she will be able to hold her head up. She will not age and die. (She will not grow and change.)
She writes nothing in the negative column, ignores Jonathan Harker's whispers in her ear. The Count took good care of his guest. Such good care he didn't want him to leave.
(This man belongs to me!)
How she hates to recognise Edward there, in Dracula's autocratic command, in his temper, in his possessive rage, in his utter control of the situation, of Harker, the brides and himself.
This is how she counters it: the Count is merely protecting Jonathan from himself, after all, just as Edward protects her from making wrong decisions. Harker was told at the start that there were locked doors; there were places he was forbidden to enter and would not care to see. He ignored the sensible (irrational) command and brought his trouble upon himself, just as she would ignore Edward and bring trouble and pain upon herself.
Edward is beautiful and selfless and wonderful and perfect and cares for her and if he sometimes gets overprotective that's okay. She is in love, and she really does need protecting from herself.
She does not wonder how long Dracula (Edward) stood over his sleeping guest (over a girl he'd barely met), listening to the blood pulsing hammer-soft in the heart, fighting his hunger with logic, with the memory of his plans – of houses and boxes of earth, customs and languages and all the blood waiting for him England (fighting his hunger with - what? why didn't Edward tear her throat out?)
She writes, love. Underlines it. love.
Edward loves her and she could forgive him anything for that. He doesn't care how plain and clumsy she is, or how stupidly stubborn she is about all the wrong things. She doesn't care how possessive and authoritarian he is. She just thinks he'll love her more (she'll like herself more) if she's his equal in strength and beauty, no matter how much he tries to tell her to cherish her mortality as he does.
She is not in a horror story, after all. She is in a love story that happens to involve a forever after more literal than most.
reasons not to become a vampire
— I'll be dead
Somehow, this never manages to sink in until her hand is at her throat, her wrists, her chest, feeling for a pulse that isn't there. She forgot, somehow, that speed and strength and skin that won't break – these things belong to a corpse with no purpose save one night more of life at the expense of something (someone) else.
— I'll have to drink blood
She faints at the sight. She faints at the sight and she says (I want this.)
— I'll want to kill people
London, wet and grey and loud, and she kills her first man under dim yellow streetlights and laps the blood from the filthy pavement like a cat, too full of hunger need necessity to be appalled. Later she'll wait to feel something about it, and never will.
— I won't be able to stay anywhere for long
This won't bother her until some decades later, when it finally occurs to her that actually, a person is not home, that she is tired and wants to stop somewhere for longer than two or three years, she wants to rest awhile. She is unchanging; she wants the world to match her tedium, to stop being so alive, mocking her choice.
— I'll outlive my family and friends
Ten years after the death of her last family member she wonders why she feels a sudden pang, like her frozen heart has just convulsed in her chest. Just five years before she would have recognized it as a desire to cry.
— It cannot be reversed; there can be no change of heart
This is a happy story: Isabella Swan is born. She grows up. She has relationships; she falls in and out of love. When she marries, she does it because she wants to, because she thinks it's worth it. It could go wrong; she would have to live with that, but not for eternity.
Her husband is a good man, their relationship contains equal amounts of love and trust and respect. They have jobs they enjoy; they have friends and hobbies of their own, and friends and hobbies that they share. The sex is good and when it is no longer important, the love remains. She has a satisfying life, no more or less. She dies. The end.
This is an unhappy story: Isabella Swan is born. She grows up. She has relationships; she falls in and out of love, breaks her heart over and over choosing the wrong guy. She marries, has children. It goes wrong; there is messy, protracted divorce that leaves her shattered and her children devastated. She is hurt and remains hurt for a while. The break heals crooked, but it heals. She will have plenty of chances to break it again.
She is fifty-six and careworn when she starts forgetting things. One day her son makes one of his rare visits and she fails to recognize him. He hires people to care for her; filial duty completed he forgets about her. Her world passes by in a haze of pills and professional voices belonging to women she sees everyday and greets as new friends every morning. She lives a long life made longer and lonelier by absence of memory. She dies. The end.
This is a true story: Isabella Swan is born. She grows up. She is filled with infinite potential, with ability to do and be anything and change the world if she cares to. She dies. That potential is ended.
This is a possible addendum: She lives again. That potential is still ended.
There is a reason that a vampire's existence is called unlife or undeath. It succeeds in neither.
— i'll be dead
She writes, strength, speed, increased senses, power. She does not write corpse.
(Well, whatever. It's Jonathan's list, not hers. All these things, they pale before Edward's smile.)
"Choose life," Jacob says, as if she is choosing death, not Edward.
"Why?" she says.
"Why?" he says, looking like she's just struck him. "Why? Bella-"
"I don't need to hear it, okay?" she says, irrationally angry at his care and concern. Because she doesn't. She doesn't need to hear that there are things worth living for, that growing old (growing up) isn't the horror she imagines. She could have a life: education, a career, children, a husband who would age with her. She could mature, she could find herself in unexpected places, she could have friendship and family and love without blood.
It just isn't what she wants.
Why be normal when you can be more? Why one life when eternity is a possibility? You hear it everywhere: there are things worth dying for.
"Edward is what I want," she says. "You can't change that, Jake."
"He left you," Jacob says with frustration. "He broke you without care and let other people pick up the pieces."
"I love him," she says simply, like that solves everything, and maybe for her it does.
"Dying is the easy choice, the coward's choice," Jacob warns her as he leaves. "It's living that's hard."
"I could live forever," she says that dusk, looking into the setting sun.
reasons to love edward
— he (says he) loves me
— he's beautiful
— it was meant to be
— he keeps me safe
— i need him
— without him i am empty
— (i lose myself in him)
What do we have in common, what passions do we share, what does he like that I like, what do I like that he likes, where do our lives intersect in any place other than ourselves?
She burns the paper. That means it never existed.
"I love him," she says, as if that solves everything.
"I love him," she says, as if no one has ever loved before or could possibly understand.
"I love him," she says, so often that the words lose their meaning. Perhaps she never understood what was in them anyway.
"This is what I want," she says. There is no other option; she will not change her mind. Hers is a love story, not a horror story.
This is the only thing Dracula got right: there is an invitation, and there is a choice.
Her choice is always going to be to cross the threshold and take Edward's hand.
This is a hollow story: Bella Swan is seventeen and she meets the first great love of her life. She never gets the chance to have another. She dies. She lives again, frozen in time, in maturity, in love.
She lives a long, long unlife. She watches the world change and remains the same. There is no end.