A million, billion thanks to solareclipses, smexy4smarties, and nowforruin for holding my hand when I was freaking out and telling me to simmer down with all the tense changes. I don't know what I would do without y'all, but I do know it wouldn't be pretty. XOXO.
Something is wrong. I feel it the moment it happens. All of the light in the universe dims for one brief moment. It's a cliché, but it's true. My love—my light—is gone.
His golden eyes meet mine as he asks me to be brave and hold still while he resets my leg. I've never seen eyes that color before. They're extraordinarily beautiful. So is he.
Edward calls me as soon as they leave Volterra to tell me about his father's fate. He needn't have bothered. I know I'll never see my mate again.
Rose and Emmett are by my side when the phone rings; they hear the news through the receiver next to my ear. Edward begins to tell me that Carlisle's final thoughts were memories of me. It takes all of my self control to not crush the damned contraption in my hand. I give the phone to Rose and step away before it's too late. I can't bear to listen to any more.
I don't want to know what his last words, last look, last moment were. He wasn't supposed to have had any of that. He was supposed to be by my side, always.
He promised me forever. He lied.
I face the cliffs and suck in my last breath. The only reason for my meager existence is dead now, and I cannot face a future without him. The icy wind slaps my face, all the while pushing me nearer the edge. I close my eyes and jump.
Three days later, I awake to the good doctor's face, filled with concern, and a thirst clawing at my throat.
I have to leave the home we've made. Every object in it is just a reminder of everything we did together and everything that we'll never get to do again. I can't stand it.
As slowly as I can, I walk. Through the forest, across the river, up the mountainside. I make myself stay aware, be present, instead of shutting down and keening aloud like I want. My role as "mother" prevents me from acting how I truly feel. I have to be strong for them, at least while I'm still within earshot.
I think of the last time I felt like this, helpless, hapless, hopeless. My son—a faint memory now—had died, and I'd felt like life was no longer worth living without him. I had thrown myself off of the highest spot I could find, believing that my life was over. It had been, in a way.
He had rescued me then. There was no one to save me now. My undead savior, who'd ironically taught me so much about living, had left me for the other side. We were meant to be together for eternity, and he deserted me here among the trees. My life wasn't supposed to be spent as a widow, but that's what I am, a widow. Forever.
Deep into the mountain range, I express my grief, loudly, brokenly. My dry sobs echo across the forest. I don't care; there's no one to hear me.
I am truly alone.
He's so careful around me, as if he thinks I might bolt away at any moment like a frightened deer. Every movement is carefully calculated and planned. He knows that's exactly what I need. And I am grateful.
Days pass. My family edges around me as if I might break from the strain. I would if I could. I try to keep in mind that I'm not the only one grieving. My pain just feels so much more profound because it's my own, and he was mine alone.
Yet, they all lost him too. Their father, teacher, benefactor—call him what you will—he saved us. All of us. But I'm the only one who has no one to share my heavy burden with.
My partner is gone.
I wish I could join him.
Instead, I hole myself up in our—my—room. I don't want to see them exchange any of their knowing glances, gentle caresses, or any show of affection that I won't ever be able to experience myself. I'm happy for them, but I know what the cost was. And as happy as I am for Edward, I don't think she's worth it.
How could she be? Nothing is worth this.
His lips brush against mine. I'm startled by how warm they feel, how alive. I want nothing more than to feel alive too. I try pulling him closer, frantic for more contact, but he resists me and my unspoken invitation. He whispers against my arching neck, "Soon, my darling. Soon."
Time heals all wounds, as the mundane saying goes. If all I have is time, does that mean that my broken heart will eventually mend? What if I don't want it to?
I can't imagine a life without him. It would just be an empty existence, stripped bare of love, happiness, meaning.
Humans, at least, have the gift of forgetfulness. As time marches on, their memories do too. My kind is blessed, or cursed, with perfect recall. Every smile, every kiss, every touch I remember, whether I want to or not.
We don't change easily. It's one the penalties we pay for immortality. I accepted it when I thought my love would be by my side forever, but now I find it loathsome. Unless I leave this life, I will always be missing him, mourning him. This is my fate and my price.
I won't ever fall in love again or feel the sweetness of my lover's caress. He was my one and only, my everything.
I have nothing now.
He smiles at me and the whole world glows a bit brighter. I have never felt this loved and cherished before. For the first time, I'm glad we have all of eternity spread out before us to enjoy it.
When he initially touched me, not long after I awoke to this existence, I was so afraid of him being like the other one that I almost ripped his arm off. It was only after months of being exposed his extreme patience and kindness that he could brush his hand against my skin without me flinching.
The first time he kissed me, my newborn self wanted to jump into his skin just to get closer. He convinced me that I would regret it. Once I got over the hurt of being rejected by him, I realized that he was right.
Our courtship began slowly. He was so worried that I would feel obligated or indebted to him that he didn't want to rush any development of our relationship.
He was a consummate gentleman, always, especially when he was protecting his future daughter-in-law from certain death. Perhaps if he had been less mannerly, he would still be in my arms.
It doesn't matter now. None of it does.
He slowly reveals my flesh, inch by inch. My new husband is unbuttoning my white dress with an agonizing slowness that only our kind can draw out. His smirk tells me he knows exactly how crazy he's making me. He kisses me roughly then pulls away, leaving me panting and begging for more.
Bella tries to hide herself from me. It's selfish of me, but I'm satisfied to hear from Jasper about the crushing guilt she feels and how she's afraid of what I think of her now.
When she comes to visit, I stay in my room, in the dark. The curtains are all drawn, and the stereo blares the Stones—his favorite. Mick's raspy singing almost overpowers the sound of her soft human voice, ensuring that I don't have to hear her speak or her heart beat that drums in my ears, even when she's not here. The very same beat that my husband gave his life for.
It's not her fault; I know that, but the fact that she still has breath, and my husband sacrificed himself so that she could live … It's better that I don't have to look at her. I don't know what I would do.
I can get lost inside my head here. At first, I dwell on what I imagine his last moments to be. Did it hurt? Did he know? Edward said he was thinking of me, so perhaps he understood what was happening. I was his last conscious thought. The idea humbles me.
Alone in our bed, I allow myself to focus on my memories of him, of us. Inevitably, my mind drifts to the last intimate moment we shared. I don't care what this says about me or him. Edward's gift be damned.
If I had known it would have been our last time, I would have clung to him just a bit longer before letting him slip away. Now I just cling to my memory, knowing that I'll never get another chance to repeat it.
My existence has become a graveyard of memories—ones that I dig up over and over again, just to re-inter them once they become too painful. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I thought immortality would protect us from the grave. It didn't. He's gone, and I'm all but buried now. I just need the headstone.
His hands ghost over my skin, a millimeter away from contact. He's testing me. I long to have him touch me, but I don't want to spoil his fun. Instead, I hold my breath, waiting for the anticipation to boil over, and we're both desperate for any kind of completion.
My children want to help me. I try to let them. I try so hard.
Emmett invites me to go hunting with him in an effort to bring me out of my self-induced exile. I half-heartedly tag along, knowing the only thing I really want is the one thing I can never have again. When we reach the river, he turns to look at me—really look—and takes me back home. He brings me to my room and holds my hand in the dark.
Alice engages me by bringing me next year's design spreads, pictures of objects that mean nothing to me now. I let her chat about how she wants to redecorate her room, and when she asks me what I think, I have to admit that I wasn't paying attention. She smiles sadly at me, kisses my cheek and leaves me to my memories.
Rose just sits by my side, letting the silence consume us. Sometimes, she'll let me rest my head on her shoulder. She understands what it's like to not want to be. She'll understand if I leave, more so than the others.
Jasper can't be near me. It hurts him too much. I feel the most guilt about this. He tries to make it seem like he caught a case of wanderlust, but I know that his now-infrequent visits are because of me.
I know Edward almost as well as I know myself. I know that he's torn between relief, guilt, love, and pain. And I know that he's torturing himself over it. Good. At least someone feels a fraction of what I feel. At least he knows that his father's sacrifice was exactly that.
Living with my "gifted" children had always been slightly inconvenient, but now it's extremely frustrating. I need to keep my secrets, like I've never had to before. Not so long ago, I just had innocent ones: holiday presents, moments with my love that I lingered upon, nothing out of the ordinary. Now, I don't want anyone to know what my thoughts are or what I'm thinking about doing.
If only it were as easy as jumping off of a cliff had once been.
I watch him as he stalks his prey. His fierce, leonine eyes haunt me still. Once he drains her, I pounce on him, unable to hold off any longer. I need him more than I do any other sustenance. He is my love, my life, my world.
I can't continue on this train of thought. Alice or Edward might find out what I'm thinking. I know that if I don't make any concrete decisions, she won't be able to see me. So I'm just pondering things, carefully. Testing the waters of my consciousness, testing myself to see if I want to stay or join my love.
I cannot be separated from him for eternity, and unlike my first immortal son, I still think we have souls. How could Carlisle not? He was the kindest, gentlest, most generous soul I have ever met. If he's not in the afterlife, I'll renounce God. I want to be wherever my partner is, and if he's not in heaven, I'll willingly join him in hell.
It can't be worse than this hell on Earth.
He comes through our door and rips off my nightdress. He growls in my ear, "I need you, now." Before I can respond, he's nibbling on my neck, nipping at my breasts, and inside me. We both groan in relief.
I miss sleeping. I never have before, but the idea of being able to turn off one's body, even for just a short while sounds extraordinary. It's been so long since I've last slept, since I've last dreamed.
If I could dream, I'm certain it would be of him, and it would only be of good times: him smiling at me, our bodies connected, our eyes meeting. I'm not sure if that would help or hurt. Everything hurts now, so I don't believe anything else would make much of a difference.
If I could go to sleep now, I'd never wake again. I want that more than anything.
He finds me hiding in the shed. I'm so ashamed of myself. I've never felt that kind of need before—not even with him. I don't know how I can still look him in eye. He soothes me, tells me that we all make mistakes, that he loves me still. In my stained dress, he rocks me to the beat of a heart.
Alice comes to me in the dark. She tells me she's seen things, my future is disappearing. It frightens her. She's more scared than I've ever seen her before.
I want to be a good mother, convincing. I reassure her that I'm right here, with her and the family, that I'm not planning on going anywhere. I don't think she believes me.
I need to try harder.
I don't know how much more I can take before I fall apart.
If only wishing it could make it so.
"Promise me, whatever happens, you'll stay strong for our family."
"Nothing's going to happen."
He is silent.
The last time we spoke. The last time we kissed. The last time I looked into the eyes that I fell in love when I was still just a child.
I made a vow to love and honor him.
I have to keep it.
I can't let him down; that can't be the last thing I do.
I'll spend eternity longing for him, and his touch, but I'll be here for him, even though he's not.
I promised him forever.
I meant it.