A/N Hi yes it's been forever I KNOW I suck. I still love this story, I hope you do too. A move, life and PTSD really messed with my energy to write. SO. Here you are :)

I don't own Twilight. Thanks to Sherry, Momduckie and Sri for their unending faith in me. I have rewritten this chapter 3 times. They haven't seen the final version. Any mistakes are mine. There's like, idk... 5-10 chapters left? Depends on what my brain comes up with when I write.

On our way back to the hotel, I am hopelessly locked up in my own mind. Edward is asking me something at some point, but he doesn't press when I don't give any inclination that I heard him. His warm fingers weave through mine and he squeezes my hand, but I am too numb to squeeze back. I hope he understands.

The hotel room is nice and clean smelling, especially compared to the trailer. I walk over to my room in the suite immediately, collapsing on the bed. Esme follows me in. I can feel the mattress dipping where she sits down. I want to roll with the motion and curl up around her, but my bones are too heavy, my muscles frozen.

Esme doesn't speak. Instead, her warm hand comes down on my shoulder, a gentle, grounding touch. It allows me to move, at last, and this time I do curl around her, wrapping my arms around her waist and hiding my face against her thigh. Her hand moves to the back of my head in a protective gesture and I shiver. I don't notice that I've started crying until the fabric of her jeans turns wet from my tears.

She lets me cry as we stay in total silence. There's so much to process, and that's not even taking into account all the memories that have resurfaced just by being in that trailer. The silver lining in the shape of Stacey was a nice reminder that there were good things in my childhood, too, but they were few and far between. The majority of it is bleak and black, and I've been so busy surviving all my life I guess I never realised just the extend of the horrors I have faced.

They are in the forefront of my mind's eye, now. I hear the shouting from my memories as if those people from my past are standing right next to me in this room. My brain tricks me into believing they are here, just out of sight, their silhouettes teasing in the corner of my eye even though my eyes are closed.

I guess up till now I've always believed I was going to get through this. Now, with the onslaught of my past and the realisation of just how much more is lurking beneath the surface, I'm not so sure anymore.


My sleep is restless, ripped up several times by horrid dreams. I wake up screaming more than once - every time Esme is at my bedside with a cool cloth and kind eyes. It's exhausting and I can't help it. I resolve to stay awake for the rest of the night then, but after a glass of water and a bit of toast Esme tells me kindly but resolutely to stay in bed. Afraid to go against her, I try staring at the ceiling instead, but sleep claims me, my dreams back with a vengeance, vivid and disorganised.

What disturbs me most is that I know the dreams are true; they're memories brought back by visiting the trailer. In my slumber, I can see my grandfather's face, sharp as if it were a high definition movie clip. His bead-like, black eyes as they peered out into the world, his nose like a hawk's, his mouth turned down in a perpetual frown. His voice, low and surprisingly heavy. I don't think he was able to talk quietly at all.

Other details are so lifelike too I reach out in my sleep to touch them. I see the ratty chair my grandfather always used to sit in. From the way that chair creaked I know if he was just shifting to get more comfortable or getting up. I see the sickly green linoleum on the floor that always seemed to be sticky, no matter how hard we scrubbed it with bleach. I see the paper dolls my mother made out of colourful paper to put in our bedroom window, faded from sunlight and cigarette smoke. When the sun shone on them, the room took on hues of red, purple and green.

I wake up exhausted and I imagine this must be what a hangover feels like. The remnants of my dreams are still tugging at me, my brain begging me to just stop and take time to get all my thoughts in order. But I have to get up, because we have things to do today. Like so many other days in my life, I'll just have to get moving and put one foot in front of the other until I find the next moment of quiet respite. I'll just have to keep it together until we get back home, I guess.

We have breakfast in our room instead of at the breakfast restaurant at the top floor of the hotel. Everybody looks awful and I feel horrible for it. Even though Edward and Carlisle didn't come to check on me last night, I know they must've heard me.

My stomach knots just thinking of eating, and I bite my lip as I look at the cereal, scrambled eggs and pancakes that are set out on the table.

"Eat," Esme says, not unkindly, looking pointedly at my empty plate. When I shake my head, her smile fades. "Eat," she says again, in a no-nonsense tone I don't want to deny.

It's the strictest I've encountered her so far, and I blink in shock at the way she is putting her foot down. I steal a glance at Carlisle, who shrugs almost imperceptibly, letting me know he's with his wife on this. Not that I expected any different, but still. Why can't they give me this tiny frisson of control when everything else is outside my reach today? Esme looks satisfied when I put some pancakes on my plate, but I can't bring myself to do more than tear them up into smaller and smaller pieces.

It's not a surprise that after everything that happened here, my brain is resorting to old coping mechanisms. Esme looks at me, a thoughtful look on her face, but she doesn't tell me off for playing with my food and she doesn't repeat her request for me to eat again. When Carlisle announces he's going to take a shower and get dressed, I slip away from the table and back to my bedroom to hide some more.

My head is too full. I don't know what I can do to empty it. I need a pensieve, that device from Harry Potter where you can put your memories in a bowl. I'd empty the bowl down the drain too, while I was at it. I'd be okay if I never had to think about my childhood ever again.

When we're all dressed and packed, we check out of our room and go back to the trailer. This time we bring some boxes, so that if I want to keep anything, I can take it with me.

We're not sure if it's a good idea for me to go back to that trailer, but logistically it's the best option and so I straightened my shoulders and convinced them earlier I'm fine going back. I'm not, and bile roils in my gut as we drive up the trailer park. I swallow convulsively, wringing my hands in front of me. Edward, thankfully, doesn't try to comfort me and keeps up idle conversation with his father about baseball, of all things.

The trailer looks sadder today than it did yesterday. It doesn't help that the sky is overcast, heavy with the promise of rain. Stacey comes out to greet us and tells us to come over for coffee when we are done. Her husband is home too, and he'd like to meet us.

We merely nod and step back into the trailer. Inside, the silence is oppressive. I want to take everything and I want to have nothing - I feel lost when it comes to deciding whether I need tacit proof of my memories or if they're best left in the past.

I sigh in defeat when I look around me. Really, there is nothing that can be saved here. Nothing that I want to save. The scent is overwhelming today. It slams me back into my childhood. The vague smell of mould underlines the scents of old furniture and stale food. I stand motionless, unable to move. Edward is by my side, but by some grace he really understands I'm better left alone right now.

Esme thankfully takes the lead and helps me through it all. She hands us all a pair of cleaning gloves and she helps me root around some things. There's a big bookcase in the living room, filled with cheap paperbacks that stink of cigarette smoke. As much as I love books, I don't want those. A drawer in the kitchen is filled with old administration. In between the clutter, we find certain items Esme convinces me to take. It helps, having her decide for me. Other things disappear into boxes wordlessly. A figurine of a girl in a dress. A framed photograph. The dozen or so books that are in the rickety book case in the living room.

I think Carlisle and Esme know what they need to wrap things up here. I hope so at least.

Ugh. Even if I'm finally learning to cope with the guilt I feel for them having to take care of me, suddenly there's my past that demands a whole lot attention and I can't even deal with it myself. I wouldn't even know where to start. More things they're doing just for me, and I have no hope at all of ever paying them back.

"We can put it in storage at home," she explains kindly. "And then when you're ready, you can go through them. Or not - that's up to you. But that way you won't have to decide right now what to do with everything. We will keep it safe for you until you decide."

It's so thoughtful of her, and makes me think she must have earlier experience with loss, or grief, or at least cleaning up after someone has passed. Her grandparents, maybe? I've never even thought to ask. I know she's an only child and there really isn't much family that ever visit the household. Maybe she had a friend who helped her through this when her loved ones passed. Or maybe she helped someone. I don't know. But it's nice she knows how to help me now.

In the master bedroom, the jewellery box is packed, unopened and unchecked, in its entirety. We'll look closely at the contents once we get home. It feels awful to go through these things. It's dirty work and it feels hellishly invasive to pull open the underwear drawer and go through it to see if there's anything important hidden in there.

In the nightstand I find the family bible. I don't care for it, until Esme points out to me that there's a family tree written inside the cover in cursive, sloppy writing, and she places it in a box as well.

In my mother's old bedroom, Esme persuades me to keep one of my mother's dresses, as well as the toy I had to leave behind all those years ago. Without a word, Esme packs up all my children's clothes that have been left. They're dirty and dusty, faded with time and wear. One dress, that used to be yellow, I remember wearing on a swelteringly hot day. It came below my knees and it was very wide so that the skirt danced if I twirled. I twirled until I was dizzy, and my mother started calling me Bellarina because of that day.

I gasp in shock when I find a diary underneath the mattress. I can't get myself to open it, but it's packed with the other things, Esme taking it from me and putting it in her purse carefully as if it were a delicate piece of glass.

Even from across the room, out of sight in Esme's purse, it feels as if that diary is looking at me, making the hairs in my neck stand on end. It's the weirdest feeling.

There aren't many other things in the bedroom, but when Carlisle discovers a ragged copy of the Velveteen Rabbit, he shows it to me. We don't need any words. I don't even need to ask him to please put it in a box.

After a few hours, we've combed through most of the trailer. There is not much of value in it, but I think I can follow Esme's reasoning when she wants to pack this thing or that.

"I think we're just about done," Carlisle says after we've done a final sweep. "Do you agree?"

I nod. I want out of here. There is nothing here that holds nice associations for me. I only remember the suffocating feeling of knowing you're taking up too much space, and the fear that always lived just beneath the surface of pleasant sounding conversations.

As I look back into the living room, memories force their way into my mind's eye. My mother, shouting at my grandfather. My grandfather backhanding her into a wall, her long hair fanning out from the impact. In my head, I can hear her shrill voice. She tried to act tough but her voice gave her away. She hated that, I remember now. She hated her voice was her tell.

She got me out of here, I think, sadness creeping into me, making my shoulders and legs feel heavy. She took me with her in the middle of the night. She knew we couldn't stay, that it wasn't safe. Why did she leave me with Laurent? Why couldn't she take me a second time?

My throat closes up. If I were to meet her, would I ask her? Would I even be able to speak to her? Do I even want to see her? So my old wounds would be torn open. I don't know if I could handle that.

I just want to go home. To the Cullen house, where I've carved out a little space for myself, where I am welcomed and accepted and even actively involved in their lives. Where people want me around.

My lungs start to burn and I gasp for breath, realising belatedly that I've not been breathing for too long.

"Ready to visit the neighbours?" Carlisle asks, but then he takes a look at my face and his expression changes. "Or maybe we should just go home."

"We promised," I whisper.

"They'll understand," Esme says soothingly. "I'll go talk to them."

She slips away, leaving me with Carlisle and Edward. They don't speak, instead giving me space to wander around the tiny trainer, looking at the details that seem new to me but are so familiar all the same. The hole in one of the inner walls when someone kicked it - I don't remember who. The crack in the little shelf above the sink in the bathroom. The dirt that is in every crease from years of hard living. The stale smell of cigarette smoke that seems to come off the wall.

Esme is back mere minutes later. "Stacey said she'd love to write you, keep in touch? I told her it's up to you if you want to reply."

I nod at her, numbly. I doubt there'll ever be a letter, but it's nice of her to offer.

Back in the car, I pull back into my mind, my memories playing like a movie in my head. They're shards, fragments really. Some scenes I see over and over again, others are just edges of memories that I just can't quite reach. My mother's voice. My grandfather's lower rumble. The sharp curses of my grandmother. She always smelled like cheap soap. I hate that smell to this day.

"Such nice people," Esme says from the passenger seat, pulling me from my thoughts. "So generous and kind."

I don't respond. Not because I don't care, but because I can't deal with it all right now.

I half listen as Carlisle tells me that he will arrange for a professional cleaning company to clear out the trailer. Then it can be put up for sale, and John had told him he knew of a family who was looking for a home.

I can't reply. Carlisle isn't driving the regular route to the hotel, instead trying to find a place where we can have a late lunch. I still don't feel like eating. I don't even care anymore if it'll upset them if I don't. My head is aching, and sounds feel like they're coming from under water. There's a sort of white noise in my ears that's starting to overtake even my own inner voice. A sense of alarm is crawling up my spine and I sit a little straighter, unsure why my body is yelling at me suddenly to be on high alert.

From the corner of my eye I see Edward tasing note, observing me without being obvious about it.

As we drive through the streets, it's like a hand closes around my throat and I suddenly know. I know this neighborhood. This is where my mom took me, to go live with Laurent. My eyes frantically scan the houses that line the broad street on both sides, but we don't pass the house where I spent seven years of my life. I'm not sure if I would've recognized the street either, but it's around here somewhere - my body tells me so. I exhale in relief when Carlisle gives up and returns to the hotel, announcing that we will have lunch at the hotel restaurant after all. We have to leave for the airport in a few hours, anyway.

I don't eat. I don't even try. Esme pushes a bun from her plate onto mine, but I just look at her as if I'm going through a fog. I can't. I don't know how to tell her that I just can't.

Carlisle looks at me with a worried look on his face, he doesn't say anything. Instead, he asks Edward if he wants to check out the little tourist shop that's next to the hotel. Edward grumbles, but after a little gesture from Carlisle I'm not supposed to see, he follows his father.

It's an unsubtle way of him to leave me some space with Esme, who looks pointedly at my plate and then picks up the newspaper she brought with her from the hotel lobby.

Well, she can look at me pointedly all she wants, I am not eating.

When Edward and Carlisle come back, the bun is still on my plate and Esme actually looks a tiny little bit frazzled. I did manage to use the restroom at the hotel however, which is a victory if I ever saw one. Relieving myself in a public space is just as stressful as eating is. When we went to Seattle I barely made it home. I'll need to figure out how that works once school starts again in September. I'm expecting I'll be able to eat then at least, but with eating come other bodily functions I won't be able to deny.

Ugh, school. People.

Well, I'll deal with that when we get there.

Carlisle asks us if we would like to explore the city for a little bit before we leave.

I feel no need for that, and I urge the three others to go. I could use a little quiet time, anyway, even if it means staying in the hotel lobby by myself. I have my e-reader with me. I can pretend I'm reading so nobody will bother me and I can just be alone and think. Esme refuses to leave me alone in the hotel though, and in the end she stays with me while Edward and his father go out for a while to make sure the boxes we brought with us from the trailer are sent to Forks and to shop.

A deep sigh escapes me when they have disappeared from sight. The lobby is big but quiet - we've commandeered two couches in the back corner that are perpendicular to each other. A fire is crackling softly in the hearth just a few yards away. The dancing flames are a soothing sight.

"A lot to process, I think?" Esme says quietly.

I nod slowly. These past two days have brought back a lot of memories. Bad ones, but good ones, too. I believe now that my mother genuinely wanted a better life for me, but when things turned awry, she ran away. It's hard to think about that. What mother leaves behind her child with a man she knows is abusing it?

Then again, I ran from Lauren when she needed help. Does that make me as awful as my mother has been? Will I become heartless too? I probably should never have children then.

Well, I'm never going to have sex anyway, so that's sorted.

I try to envision my mother's face, but apart from her hair, which was the same as mine is now, I can't really picture anything. Invariably, when I try, I end up seeing Esme's kind eyes instead. It's weird, because I feel so many different things when I think about my mother. I don't like how my memory of my mother is softening because of Esme's presence in my life.

"Come here," Esme says, beckoning me. I look at her, but don't move. I can't. I can't do anything right now. I don't even know how I'm supposed to get through the flight later today. I wish I could pull up my legs on the couch, but I don't want to take off my shoes in this public space. I'm left uncomfortable, feeling exposed and cold, my arms wrap around my waist tightly.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

I shake my head. My jaws ache - I've been clenching them too much.

"Okay," she says softly. She doesn't say anything else, just offers quiet company as we sit in silence.

I love how Esme learned to be quiet with me. It took her a while to figure out that I really was comfortable with silence, and then she discovered how much more relaxed I would be when I didn't have to focus on joining a conversation. Edward told me once that it's hard for his mother to be quiet, because she feels as if she's ignoring me then.

To me, as I sit with her, this is a far stretch from feeling ignored, even when she picks up a magazine at some point and starts leafing through it.

The diary is still in her purse. I don't know if I'll ever be able to read it. If I should. If it would give me answers or if it would make me even more unhappy. Deep down I know I'm hoping to find an explanation as to why my mother left in that car. But the diary was left at the trailer and not at Laurent's house, so I guess I'll never know.

I sigh quietly and pull back into my mind a little more. It's called dissociation. I know that now. I'm supposed to fight it and stay in the here and now. And I just don't want to. I glance over at Esme one more time to see if she's paying attention, and then I slip back into the recesses of my own mind.


There's too much buzz in the airport for me to stay hidden away. It's crowded with people. Because I'm so small, people bump into me easily, brushing my shoulder and pushing me off balance. It's physically painful to come back online, but I need my wits about me to dodge everyone and to stay close to Carlisle, Esme and Edward, since I refuse to let any of them to hold my hand. My skin is crawling from the inside out, an itch I have no hope of scratching.

On the plane on the way home, Edward asks if he can sit next to me again. I don't particularly feel like being close to him right now, but I don't know how to tell him no. When we've taken off and both Carlisle and Esme seem to be sleeping, Edward turns to face me in his seat.

He threads his fingers through mine and brings our intertwined hands to his mouth so he can kiss my knuckles. I can't stand his touch right now, I realize, but I brace myself and let him hold my hand. I don't know how to tell him no. It'll break his heart. He's so used to being able to touch me now.

"How are you, really?" he asks. "Can you talk?"

I swallow thickly and take stock, then shake my head. No, it's not going to happen.

Edward sighs. "It's pretty fucking hard to believe all the shit you've been through in your life."

I don't know what to say to that, even if I could speak, so I simply look at the fold-up table in front of me. It's chipped in one corner. After a moment, he squeezes my hand. I barely resist the urge to pull it out of his grasp. It's hard work.

"You'll be all right," he says. Then he hesitates. "Don't freak out, because this plane is too small for that, but I think I love you."

My heart skips a beat and my breath stutters as I turn to look at him, unblinking. He looks at me expectantly, his eyes bright and hopeful.

Oh no. Oh no, no, no. I can't right now, Edward. Why are you doing this to me? Do you seriously not realize just how bad your timing is?

I can't say it back. He looks into my gaze searchingly, and finally he just smiles, a little sadly I think.

"It's okay," he says. "I understand."

He doesn't, I know. He can't possibly. Nobody can. Except that he still likes me enough to love me. Unless he's mistaken, but he's a smart cookie. So maybe I'm still worth something even with all my faults?

It's too much to think about.

His hand is still holding mine. My skin prickles underneath his touch, but I let him.

It's easier to let it be than to try and make him understand.


I don't sleep that night. I'm wired and exhausted but I am unable to relax a little so that I can sleep. At some point, close to morning, I crawl into the bathtub to see if that will help, to no avail. I play with Wisp until she simply walks away from me to hide under my bed to sleep.

Esme gave me my mother's diary. I put it in my memento box, not knowing where else I could leave it. I consider getting it, but I don't know what I'll find and I don't think I want to know. I just want it close, a physical piece of evidence that my mother existed and that she needed to get her thoughts out sometimes. That she existed. Or maybe still exists. Not that I have any desire to meet her.

I spend my night awake, thinking about her. Trying to make sense of what must've been going on inside her mind. I can't come up with a scenario in which her behaviour makes sense. But it just doesn't add up. I never had the sense that she really hated me. She flipped her shit of course when I tried to tell her about Laurent, but before that I was mostly a nuisance to her, nothing more. Just annoying baggage she had to deal with.

Why did she leave? Why did she leave without me?

The next day, my eyes feel like there's sand in it from lack of sleep. I keep away from the family, letting them know when prompted that I have a lot to think about and that I just want to decompress. They let me, although Esme checks on me every hour on the hour. To humor her I leave my door ajar so she can peek in. Nobody else comes, and I'm grateful for that. I wonder if Esme has a hand in that.

At some point during the afternoon. Esme tells me the boxes have been delivered and that they've stacked everything away in their storage. If and when I'm ready, I'm free to start going through them. They won't touch it without my permission.

Closing my eyes, I take a deep, steadying breath. It's probably going to take years before my life won't feel like an utter minefield anymore. The longer I seem to be in a stable situation, the more I discover that I would have wanted to stay hidden. The memories are just a small part of that.

I touch the scar in the palm of my right hand. The place my mother hit me with the poker from the fire when I told her what Laurent did. I know now she had no right to do it. It doesn't help making the shame or guilt any less. So I play with Wisp and finally end up spending time with Alice and Rosalie to try and distract myself. The girls especially seem to notice that I do not want to talk about our trip to the trailer - I don't talk at all - and they do their best trying to cheer me up, telling me stories and playing funny games. I watch how Alice braids Rosalie's hair and I let Rosalie paint my nails in a subtle pink. When Alice is done, Rosalie takes the brush and starts brushing my hair. The way the brush pulls at my nape is comforting, and gooseflesh rises onder my too hot sweater. It's a small step, but it's a way back to me, of fitting back inside my own skin again.

I don't know how I'll ever get back to normal, my normal at least, after that visit to the trailer. Something cracked inside me, and I'm afraid what will happen if that crack grows and the carefully built walls inside me start to crumble.

At dinner, I join the rest at the table, but I can't eat. Carlisle looks like he's going to argue with me over it, but Esme sends him a look and het settles down. I lift my chin in defiance anyway. I can't eat, and I won't.

Thing is though that I haven't really eaten normally for a while now and already I can feel my body shedding the weight I've taken so much care to put on.

The rest of the kids either don't notice or are trying not to make a fuss about it, and they chat over their pasta. Rosalie and Emmett are planning their trip to their university. They'll be leaving in a few weeks. I'll miss them, surely, and from the expressions on the others' faces I won't be the only one.

After dinner, I retreat back to my room. Edward asks if he can join me, but I just send him a pleading look that I hope conveys that I can't tell him no but that I can't be around him now, either.

"I miss you," he says quietly just before he leaves, and it tugs at me, but I just don't have space in my head for him right now. I am craving touch, and comfort, but I'm sabotaging myself since at the same time I know I won't be able to bear any form of contact.

Esme comes up not much later, two packages of astronaut formula in one hand and a smoothie in the other. "I'm not negotiating on this with you," she says. Her voice is quiet, but her intentions are clear. "I will not insult you by watching you take it. I trust that you will. But you will. I will check on you in the morning and I expect you to have taken these." She holds the liquid food up to me, and I nod in defeat.

She leaves right after I've taken the food from her and I sit on my bed with it. The smoothie is strawberry flavoured, a pink straw peaking out from the froth. There's a swirl of chocolate sauce on top - Esme really went out of her way to make it look appealing. The glass is cold in my hands, the condensation making my fingers damp. I swallow thickly and carefully take a sip of the smoothie.

It's… good. It's really good. I forego the straw and drink right from the glass, giving myself a hellish brain freeze as a reward for my gluttony. My stomach cramps right after, protesting after having been empty for so long. I whimper quietly, hoping the paints and aches will fade soon.

I roll my eyes at myself. I'm such a basket case. I drink the two packets of liquid food right after to get it over with, and then I lie on my bed for a while to let my full stomach settle.

Sleep won't come, I already know, so I just lie in the silence, listing to Wisp's quiet purrs as she sleeps on my chest.

I wish I could break free from the chains of my past.

Sometime after midnight, there's a soft knock on my bedroom door and it opens. "Bella?"

It's Esme.

"You still awake?"

I nod. There's no reason to lie. My tv is on, and I am still fully clothed. I haven't even pulled down the comforters on the bed. Esme's gaze flits over the empty smoothie glass. I have taken one of the liquid food packages too, the straw still sticking out of it.

"How are you?" she asks quietly.

I have no words. I don't know how to tell her what's happening in my brain. Instead, I reach out to her like a child, both arms outstretched.

"Help," I whisper.

She comes to me swiftly, holding out her arms even before she sits down on the bed with me so I can fall into her embrace. She hushes me even before I can try to let her know I don't want to talk about anything, and I hide my face in her neck, taking in her comforting scent that is now familiar to me.

"You're here," she says quietly, swaying us both in a soothing manner. "And you're safe now."