The Muses of ice and of fire

Are attendant on Stephenie Meyer

We disclaim to infringe on her talents and rights

We only intend to admire.

This outtake takes place just before the final chapter of For Whom the Bell Tolls. I hope it will help flesh out the conclusion and appease some of you who were like, "what the hell kind of ending was that?"

A week after that marathon session, when all of Bella's aches and pains and bruises had finally faded, she got a text from Edward while at work informing her that they had a flight plan filed to go visit Jacksonville. She was too busy to call him back and get more details; instead, she was resigned to waiting until she got off work and as able to head over to the bookstore. When she got there, however, Edward was not. Alice and Rosalie were sitting downstairs waiting for her.

"He went hunting," Alice explained. "I convinced him to go. We have work to do."

"Oh?" Bella wondered if she would ever stop being wary of anything Rose and Alice came up with. She hung her coat by the door and allowed herself to be hustled up the stairs.

"Shower," Alice commanded, dragging her to the bathroom. "Wash your face and exfoliate. And use the shampoo I put in there."

"What's going on?" Bella called to them as she lathered up her hair. The girls were bustling around the bathroom, rummaging through drawers and setting lots of things out on the counter, things that she couldn't see through the frosted glass of the shower door.

"Just scrub," Rose commanded. "Alice, where are those tweezers we bought?"

When Bella emerged from the shower, damp and rosy from scrubbing herself down with a loofah, an entire beauty parlor seemed to be waiting for her at the vanity. Alice shoved her into her blue silk bathrobe and made her sit on the bench.

Rosalie immediately attacked her hair with a comb. Alice started dabbing at her face with a cotton pad soaked with some sort of toner.

"I think we'll need to take off about an inch and a half," Rosalie said, running her fingers through Bella's hair. "Girl, when was the last time you had a trim?"

"Um, maybe in May? What are we doing? Is this a prelude to a fancy dinner or something?"

Alice rolled her eyes. "Do you see this?" She speared her fingers through her short black hair, holding it out around her face.

"Your hair?"

"It's been this length," Alice said with a scowl, "for the last...ninety...years."

Bella bit her lip to keep from giggling. "Alice, your hair is beautiful."

"It's short," Alice insisted. She sounded revolted. "When you're changed, you're going to be frozen in time. Your hair is going to be the same forever. Your eyebrows. Your nails."

"See this?" Rosalie thrust her thumb in front of Bella's face, making her cross her eyes. A perfectly lacquered red nail shimmered in front of her nose. "It's got a chip in it. All my nails are perfect except for this one. And it's been that way since the day I was bitten."

"Rosalie, I don't see any chip."

"Well, I do," Rosalie shot back. "And believe me, you are going to absolutely abhor these split ends about ten years from now. Face forward."

"I told you that no one can see your wounded nail," Alice grumbled to Rosalie. "Whereas I have had short hair for decades. Through the forties. Through the seventies, when everyone had those feathered bangs. It was infuriating."

"So you're going to give me a makeover?" Bella squinted at Alice as she started massaging some kind of cream into her cheeks. "But...what if long hair is totally out in fifty years?"

"You can pin it up," Rosalie said instantly. "That's what I did in the fifties. It's much better to go long than short."

"Poor Emmett," Alice giggled. "In the seventies, when all the guys had long hair and sideburns? He was stuck with his short little locks. Rose tried to get him to wear a wig, but he refused."

"And Jasper has had that mop for ever." Alice rolled her eyes. "He stuck out like a sore thumb for the first half of the century."

"Edward's hair is all over the place," Bella mused. In truth, she loved it, but she could imagine how strange it would look in the age of Errol Flynn and Gary Cooper. "Was it always like that?"

Alice and Rosalie both snickered. "We're not really sure," Rosalie said. "He can tame it if he really wants to, but he rarely bothers. I'm guessing his mother had been after him to get it cut for a month before...well, before they all died."

"Sometimes I look at his eyebrows and I just want to scream," Alice huffed. "He looks like a caveman with those things. Alas, there's nothing to be done."

"But you," Rosalie said, snipping at a lock of Bella's hair that she was holding between two fingers, "have the opportunity to be perfect. Trends and fads come and go, but you're going to be beautiful through the ages. So be still."

"Thank God your ears are pierced," Alice said, fingering the little silver studs Bella was wearing. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to get clip-ons to stay put when your earlobes have zero elasticity?" Mystified, Bella shook her head. It seemed like the safe reply.

"What happened to Edward's parents?" Bella asked tentatively a few minutes later. Alice paused in waxing one eyebrow.

"They died in the Spanish Influenza," Rosalie said brusquely, snipping away. "Edward would have died too, but Carlisle changed him."

"He was the first," Alice said. "Carlisle had been lonely, but he never would have done what he did if Edward hadn't been alone and dying."

"What about you guys?" Bella asked, hoping that she wasn't opening any old wounds.

Alice shrugged. "I don't remember anything about my human life," she said. "That fucker James said something about hunting me. That's the first clue I've ever had about where I came from. Edward thinks it was somewhere in the south."

Bella averted her eyes, uncomfortable with Alice's suddenly withdrawn demeanor.

"And I had nothing much to live for," Rosalie said, a strange harshness to her tone. "If I'd lived, which I probably wouldn't have, my family would have shunned me. I would have been a pariah."

"Why -"

"Let's talk about this another time," Alice said quickly. "It's not a very fun story, and anyway, today is about you. What do you think of this little mole at her hairline, Rose? Should she get it removed?"

Bella groaned. She was pretty sure that she wouldn't have much of a say in whether they got rid of the mole. As they discussed it, she thought about what the girls had told her about their human lives.

Edward's parents had just died. Something terrible - the nature of which Bella could guess, considering her reaction to the subject - had happened to Rosalie. And Alice had no memory whatsoever of her life before she was changed.

She was different. She had friends, and a mother and father whom she loved. She was going to throw all that away, just disappear from their lives in the blink of an eye.

Charlie would be crushed, of course. He would look for her forever. Her mother would grieve for her as well. Jake...well, Jake would have a pretty shrewd idea of what had happened to her, and while he would never tell anyone, he would probably grieve as well. After all, they would be natural enemies.

"Bella," Alice said suddenly, "it won't work."

"Huh?" Bella looked up into Alice's amber eyes. Saw the worry and compassion there.

"You can't make it better for them. If you leave a note, or try to explain what's going to happen, you'll just cause them more pain. It will be best to make a clean break."

Bella looked down at her hands, then back up at her reflection in the mirror when Rose, still wielding her scissors, made an impatient sound. "But my parents...won't they look for me?"

"We'll come up with something," Rosalie said quietly. "An accident of some sort. Something that you would never survive."

"Actually," Alice said thoughtfully, "We might make it look as if you and Edward had died together. Enough of your friends and family have met him that it would be strange if he wasn't at your funeral and whatnot."

"Maybe a plane crash," Rosalie said. "The little Cessna. Crashing into the side of a mountain and bursting into flames."

Bella let them speculate about the ways that she could die. A tear slipped out of the corner of one eye.

End Notes:

I'm pretty sure that this scene would have taken place in Breaking Dawn if that whole pesky pregancy thing hadn't gotten in the way. Alice just couldn't pass up the opportunity to make Bella even more perfect.