The wind swirled hauntingly around the grave, whispering an eerie melody. Beautiful, no doubt, almost as smooth as velvet, but the loneliness added a roughness. I hung my head back as if to gaze at the grey sky, instead I closed my eyes. Snowflakes gently fell on my face like gentle caresses as I listened to the melancholy song. It reminded me of his voice, both incredibly pure and slightly raspy all at once. The breeze hummed the tune he used to sing to me, all those years ago; I sang with it.
Oh, all the money that ere I spent,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm that ere I've done,
Alas it was to none but me.
And all I've done
For want of wit
To memory now I can't recall.
So fill to me the parting glass
Goodnight and joy be with you all.
I let the last note ring out across the deserted cemetery as the wind ruffled my long chestnut hair. It was an old Irish song that his mother used to sing to him when he was little, or so he used to tell me. A faint smile graced my lips remembering when he used to sing it to me to help calm or comfort me. I remembered his voice as he held me to him. The way he used to smell of spices and earth, absolutely wonderful. I knew I would cry if I could, and again was surprised at the clarity of my memories of him. Everything else was cloudy and muddled, but not him. Never him.
I finally opened my eyes and stared down at the old headstone, reading the words I had already memorized.
In loving memory of Major Jasper Andrew Whitlock
You will be dearly missed
And yet no one knew how dearly. Jasper had been drafted into the confederate army in the civil war, and advanced rapidly on the chain of command. A Major after only one year, he was the youngest soldier at his rank in the entire forces. I felt my chest swell with pride at the thought. But it was not to last, he went missing in the line of duty.
He broke his promise.
I stood in the doorway of the little house, tears stinging in my eye. My long hair was loose about my shoulders, but I could hardly think of the impropriety at a time such as this. I was waiting for him; he had said he would come before he had to leave. I abandoned my shawl as the air of the night was warm already. When would he arrive? I stared anxiously up at the clear Texas sky. Even though I had just settled here from the east, I was already thinking of it as home.
I heard hoof beats and looked up to see a man halting a black stallion.
"Whoa," he muttered to the horse before dismounting.
As he strode forward I could clearly make out his features in the moonlight, despite the black hat he wore. He looked in his early twenties, but I knew him to only be nineteen. Honey blonde hair fell in waves to about his chin, framing his high cheekbones and strong jaw. He had tanned skin that was in stark contrast to his stunning, ice-blue eyes, which were staring at me with such love and intensity that it took my breath away. He was beautiful.
"Jasper," I cried and ran into his arms. He pulled me to his chest and sighed in relief.
"Bella," he breathed, holding me tighter. His voice was so smooth. I felt myself melt against him.
He pulled away gently to look into my eyes. I tried to send all of the love I felt towards jasper, causing him to smile slightly; I felt his love for me in his eyes. But the sadness of our situation grew tendrils of despair in my foolish happiness. He was leaving. I might not ever see him again. I felt hot tears slide down my cheeks, crying silently. I bit my lip, willing the water to halt.
Jasper pulled me too him again, humming The Parting Glass and stroking my hair. We stayed like that for a long time, just holding each other, neither of us wishing to release our embrace. Finally he drew away, reaching into his shoulder bag. He pulled out a small white box.
"Bella," Jasper said in his silky accent. "I have ta go. My regiment will be expectin' me soon." His voice was laced with the pain we shared. I momentarily panicked. I didn't realize how real this was, that he truly had to leave me, that there was no guarantee that I would never see his face, hear his voice, feel his touch.
"Please, don't forget me." I whispered.
"Isabella Marie Swan, I will never forget you. Don't you doubt that." Jasper's eyes bored into mine, begging me to understand his feelings. And I did; I felt them.
"Never, never," I replied with a smile.
He retuned my grin and returned his attention to the box I had forgotten he was holding. Quickly lifting the lid, he looked at me, showing me what lay inside. A delicate gold heart rested on a beep blue velvet pillow. I gasped at its elegance. A strand of small diamonds encircled the shape. In the center of the heart a single word was engraved; Always.
"It's beautiful," I breathed. He smiled, and clasped the necklace on me.
"I give this to you with a promise. We will see each other again." His eyes sparkled with the truth and love in his vow. I nodded my head once.
"I love you."
"I love you, Darlin'. Always."
I never saw him again. I never saw his face, heard his voice or felt his touch. It killed me, every day for my immortal life; to love someone so much you could hardly bear it, and know that they died over a hundred years ago. I played with the heart-shaped locked that graced my neck. It was gold, decorated with a single word. Always. I had never taken it off, not even during my change. The thought of Jasper was the only thing that helped me through the pain, only his promise. And even then, when I knew he can never come for me, when I knew that he was dead, I still believed him. I still believed that he loved me, that he would come for me. I knew it was impossible, but I could not help but hope.
It was why I came here, every year on the anniversary of his disappearance, to his grave. To talk to him, Jasper, my lost love. To tell him that my silent heart still belonged to him, the only one I could remember clearly from my veiled human memories. And that was why I would never stop visiting him and hoping he could somehow hear me.
I sighed deeply, wishing I could just take a break from all the turmoil, wishing I could sleep. Not for the first time either. Shaking my head, I tried to clear my head of all regretful thoughts. This day was for Jasper, as it was every year. Not a time to pity myself for things out of my control.
I silently dropped a crimson rose on the resting place of my beloved, feeling sadness that overwhelmed my senses. I turned away, wishing once again that I could cry. I walked at swift human pace, in case someone was watching. My eyes were glued to the cemetery floor. That was until I ran headfirst into a slab of stone.
I looked up to see it was no stone at all, but a person. Another vampire to be exact, he had the scent and appearance of one. The chalky white skin, the bruise-purple bags beneath his eyes, the beautiful features. The only thing that surprised me was the color of the stranger's eyes. They were a liquid topaz, dark butterscotch. A vegetarian, I thought. Just like me. He couldn't know that, though, as my eyes were neither gold nor blood read. They were an icy blue, both cold and warm at once, because that is the way I willed them to be. They were his eyes.
The strange vampire cocked his head to one side a look of frustration on his face. What on earth did he have to be irritated about? I was the one jolted from my thoughts. Stupid vampire.
"Who are you?" I asked, coolly polite. I was not exactly happy to be having a conversation with someone other than Jasper, not here.
"My name is Edward Cullen," he answered smoothly. "And who, may I ask, are you?"
"Isabella Swan." I was still hesitant with any information.
He smiled then, crookedly. I had to admit he was handsome, but he was a vampire. They all were. "Would you mind if I asked… well what you are?"
"Same as you," I laughed. "I just manipulate my eye color to blend with the humans more easily." He shot me a puzzled look. "I can will anything I need, and it will happen. It is an extra ability." I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly.
"That's very interesting," he commented, impressed. He should, I knew firsthand that powers like mine were highly uncommon. I could manipulate people's appearances and thoughts, as well as my own. I was also skilled at willing the physical, like conjuring a bottle of blood, but that was far more difficult. I was barely beginning to get the hang of it within almost two hundred years.
"Can you do anything like that?" I inquired. He chuckled.
"Yes, I can read minds. But not yours, for some reason. I wonder why that is," he mused. I just smiled at him. Yes this Edward Cullen had disturbed my reverie, but that didn't give me any excuse to dislike him. In fact, he seemed as if he wasn't bad company to keep. Maybe that was just my loneliness talking.
We started walking slowly along the graveyard path, just meandering. We talked about philosophy, art, literature, music, everything. It was nice to have someone to talk to after all these years, to tell your feelings to. Edward and I were instant friends, after those first few awkward moments.
Still, I felt slightly guilty. Today was my one special day with Jazz, or at least his memory. And that memory was far more important than anything, even my new friend.
"Edward," I said. "I'm afraid that I can't stay and chat any longer. I'm sorry… it's just… any other day…" I trailed off. How could he understand?
He smiled gently, looking like he wanted to ask me something. "Sure, Bella. No problem." But it still seemed as if there was something he was hiding.
"Edward?" I asked suspiciously.
He swallowed before speaking. He reached out to take my hand in his, oh-so-hesitantly. I was shocked, no idea what to do. So I let him hold it. It was nice, no crazy fireworks, but nice.
"Will you meet me here tomorrow? I- I want you to meet my family. I think they would love you." I looked at him with an utterly confused expression. He smiled sadly. "You seem so lonely," he confessed. "I want to help."
I nodded numbly, pleasantly surprised. I liked the way Edward wanted to look out for me. It was sweet, what friends do for friends.
But something within me was urging, begging me to go. This is important! It screamed. This is what you have been waiting for!
"I will be here."