Chapter Note

One of the limitations of first person perspective writing is that you literally get just that – the perceptions, interpretations, and opinions of a single character. However, I kind of like having both points of view to draw on before a chapter gets produced.

Please see below for Edward's point of view of one of Bella's nightmares. This is a bit of a tease because it is from narrative in a chapter that hasn't been published yet because I am heavily revising chapter 16 onwards at the moment. It occurs between Edward finding Bella drugged and struggling with Jasper and Carlisle at the house, and Bella waking up and finding Edward absent on her first morning back at school. It also (sort of) explains Edward's motivations in letting her wake up alone.

I thought you might enjoy this flip side aspect of the story. If I ever get around to it, this will be added to Fading in Increments.

A bit rough and unbetaed so all mistakes are my own.

Edwards POV

Bella has been asleep for several hours, curled around me like ivy around a tree. Unlike the ivy to the tree, there is nothing unwelcome in her embrace. Lying on top of my bare chest, with her face pressed to the skin of my throat, one arm around my waist, and the other around my neck, she has her fingers in my hair and is holding on tightly. I'm hugging her just as securely, delighting in the soft weight of her body against mine. When she begins to shiver I make myself shift her slight weight until she is tucked into my side instead of on top of me. The cold of my body is stealing her warmth. I can't bear the thought of losing contact with her completely, and I doubt that she would tolerate any distance between us right now either.

As I gently move her she stiffens and clings tighter to me, moaning softly. I stroke her hair and drop gentle kisses against her temple, trying to soothe her. Bella's fingers curl into a fist in my hair, then relax and as she seems to settle back down into sleep. I can feel that she has warmed up a little, but she remains restless and starts talking her sleep minutes later.

I used to love watching and listening to her sleep. As I told her once, the unedited ramblings of her sleeping mind fascinated me. It let me have the slightest of glimpses into the intricacies of her protected thoughts. Perhaps I have become overindulged, because of the advantages of my gift, or perhaps it is an extension of my possessive nature, but I've came to need her night time muttering almost as much as her awake company. Bella is a blessing to me in every way but my inability to get closer to her mentally vexes me daily. Especially now as her breathing becomes choppy and she moves against me with increasing vigour. I know the signs; she's have a nightmare and it's probably my fault.

Soft touches across the skin of her back, and through her hair make her press closer against my side, and I lay my head against the top of hers and murmur her name quietly. It seems to be relaxing her until she goes rigid against me. Despite the tension in her body, her hand moves through my hair as though she is trying to soothe me.

"What do you want?" Bella's voice is high and anxious and matches the acceleration of her heart and increasing tightness in her muscles.

A minute passes then she demands, "Why would I ask if I already knew the answer?" She huffs several fast, warm breaths against my neck. "You're talking in riddles."

Part of me wants to wake her; to spare us both her sleeping anxiety. Words I could use to wake her rise in my throat, and I cut off their potential for action ruthlessly, remaining silent. If these vivid, agitated episodes of her sleeping imagination are what she needs to work through her thoughts and anxieties; I will manage my own worries and let her sleep. As much as my apprehension burns me from the inside out with each hitch of her breath, I will bear it for her benefit – it is no less than I deserve.

"You're a monster!" Bella shouts. Through the anger in her voice, I can feel her sadness and she almost sobs her next words, "You have no right to want what's mine."

What she is saying makes no sense to me. I would give everything I have in the world to be able to access her mind, even for the briefest of moments, to find a way to comfort her now; to improve my current, clumsy attempts. My failure makes me feel – helpless.

"You're a liar," Bella accuses in a quieter voice. I know in that moment that she is talking to me and the pain slices through me, sharp and distinct. What she says in true, I am a liar. When she moves as though to roll away from me, I feel my heart shatter into a million tiny shards.

Does she need me to let her go? Should I let go of everything I consider to represent comfort and hope and love, because it's better for Bella?

As my brain struggles to find an answer, my body makes its choice and moves with her until we are lying facing each other on our sides.

Bella's hand in my hair relaxes and then tightens, as her brow furrows with what I think could be first confusion and then irritation. The only thing that gives me comfort is the fact that she is still choosing to hold onto my in anyway. I'm selfish, I know, but the distance that her sleeping state puts between is difficult for me. My previous assertions that I should leave her to sort through her dreams desert me in the space of one of her heart beats.

"Bella?" I murmur and hear the slight unsteadiness in my own voice.

She's moving again, and it takes a physical effort on my part to stop my hands from crushing her to me. Is she trying to move away from me? I find myself freezing in stress at the very notion. Bella wriggles closer, not away, pressing her forehead against mine and I can suddenly breathe again. I press close enough for us to be able to share breathe as some of her silky hair falls across both of our faces. The sensation of the strawberry scented strands against my skin is comforting.

Bella's hand come up to cup my face and I nuzzle against her, delighted that she is extended the contact. The seconds tick by, marked by the rapid thump, thump of her heart. With tiny almost undetectable movements, I can feel her fingers tighten and relax against my face and wonder what conversation she is having with the spectral me inside of her head to cause such a reaction. The feeling of distance washes over me again. She shakes her head and our foreheads bump together softly, and her warmth almost stings against the coldness of my skin.

"I'm here. I'm not leaving you. I couldn't ever leave you again," I promise, praying that the depth of feeling in my words can reach wherever she is right now. "I'm holding you close. You are with me and we're safe, my angel. I won't ever let yougo again."

"You're wrong," she replies and the absoluteness in her words stabs through me all over again. Her disbelief, where once there was complete trust, is my fault. I can't even find the words to explain how that feels to me – it leaves me...broken inside.

We made so much progress today, talking through our worries and hurts. Was I arrogant or naive to think that we'd moved forward? Doubt washes over me again, and with it a louder, more urgent need to have her wake up.

My hand moves urgently against her back, and I struggle to soften the contact. "Can't you feel my hands stroking your hair, on your back?" The pressing need I have for closer contact with Bella makes me want to shake her awake to end the agony.

"I have you, my heart." She flinches and my selfish hold tightens.

"Please come back to me. I can't bare this distance, it hurts. I need you to open your beautiful eyes and set my world to rights again," I say, louder and faster, my voice breaking on the word 'need'.

I've always needed her, even before I knew I loved her and it is my own foolish fears in leaving that have caused this situation. She never doubted me until I gave her reason to doubt. Even after I left her destroyed in the forest, she still managed to hold onto hope, otherwise why else would she risk herself and Alice by coming to Italy to save me.

"I need you, Bella. I've always needed you."

My sweet girl, please believe me. I press my forehead harder against her warm skin and feel the prick of tears, that will never fall, in the corner of my eyes.

She goes almost limp in my arms and whispers hoarsely, "I understood his reasons."

Unable to stand even the slightest of distances between us, I pull her against my chest, tucking her face into my neck and curling around her body protectively. She shudders gently in my arms, and I feel her tears falling warm and wet against my neck.

Understanding and trust are a world apart from each other in meaning. I grit my teeth. Understanding isn't believing either. I feel the self directed anger rise and twist inside of me. My fault – all my fault, again.

I stop myself from curling my hands into fist, or smashing something like my temper wants me to. This isn't about me, or Bella. It's about us, together. Bella has to be my focus. I move my hands in smooth, hopefully soothing circles against her back and through her hair, and wipe the tears from her cheeks – willing her to wake, and come back to me. For her to see that I am here, wrapped around her as tightly as I can manage with bruising her fragile body. That as physically as I am around her, she is inside me mind, body, and heart. Beside me, around me, within me – she is everything.

"Go away," she murmurs almost tiredly.

My existence could have ended with those words. But instead of killing me, Bella saves me by wrapping her arms around my neck and squeezing hard enough to force a small grunt, vocalising her physical effort. Her words break my heart, but her actions give me hope – I try to focus on that.

"Leave us alone."

As confusing and contradictory as her words and actions are to me, it gives me the mental clarity to know what I need to do. I know she loves me, despite the careless way I have handled her heart. But I want her trust me again. I want it and we need it to move forward together.

I make a promise against the soft shell of her ear, "I'm going to prove to you a thousand times a day how much you mean to me. I'll show the whole damn world if that's what you need."

"He was always worth it," she whispers and that small nugget of affirmation warms me and solidifies my resolve. We're going to get through this.

"I'm going to heal us, my angel. If you'll let me. Please let me," I ask pulling her against me and rocking her slowly. It feels like she is relaxing against me, settling back into the rhythm of sleep.

"Come back to me, sweetheart, come back. I miss you. I have you safe, open your eyes for me..."

"I can't, don't make me," she pleads, and a painful groan escapes me. What a fool I have been... careless. How I have hurt my beautiful, loving Bella. She struggles against me and compared to my strength the force of it is so soft that it almost feels like a caress. Despite the anxiety it causes, I release her slowly.

Bella pushes up on one elbow, half hovering over me and I wonder if she is awake. Her eyes are closed, and herHHS

head tilts as though she is looking down at me.

"I swear to you, I'll make things right between us." I hope she can hear the sincerity in my voice.

A small smile curves her pink lips. "I love you," she says, and her lips meet mine for a bittersweet, brief kiss.

Bella lays down on her back and sighs; it is a sad little noise. I sit up, twisting to lean over her. I hold her face between my hands, thumbs smoothing over her cheeks bones.

"Whatever it takes, I'll do it," I repeat again.

She shifts restlessly under my hands, and I can hear her heart beat speeding up again.

"Secrets and lies don't get better with time. While you have an audience, why not admit what you want?" she says, almost sneering.

The words don't make sense, and I feel frustrated once again because I can't get inside Bella's head.

"You can't have him!"

All I can do is hold her and wait for the dream to pass, but it's killing me to see her so upset.

"I'm here, Bella. I'm not going to leave your side, not even for a second."

"You can't have him!"

She's almost screaming now, and it takes all of my self-discipline to keep my voice even and gentle, "Even when you can't see me, I'll be right by your side. Listen to my voice, sweetheart, come back to me."

She tenses, almost arching off the bed as her mouth contorts in a silent scream before she falls back against the bed and is still. When her breathing settles and becomes slow and regular again, I lay down beside her to wait for Bella to wake up and return my heart to me the moment she opens her fathomless, brown eyes.

Everything in life has limitations. Philosophy, religion, technology – none offer all the answers, despite what some people might say. I have a strong belief that Bella and I together is the answer to most of the questions I have ever thought to ask in my existence, and to any I may ever need to ask in the future. That thought is very comforting.

As Bella sleeps, I whisper words memorised from countless, monotonous English Lit classes. Far from being dreary, or worn-out from meaningless repetition, they have more depth and vibrancy for me than ever before. Weaving a story of how I want to love Bella going forward; not as an angel, unattainable, and unspoiled but as the perfectly flawed, unique, and beautiful woman that she is.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rar

As any she belied with false compare.

(Sonnet 130, William Shakespeare)