A/N: This was my entry for the Seasons of our Discontent contest - basically, write as angsty a fic as possible. So, this fic has that. If you need an HEA in all your fics, this may not have that. I don't want to give it away for those that are fine with either or and don't want to know before the end. I didn't win but the story was great to write for the experience and I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to stmurr for pre-reading and to Project Team Beta for Beta'ing and also to SleepyValentina from Emergency Beta Services for Beta help as well.
Agony. There is only constant, excruciating agony.
Burning. Every molecule of my body is on fire.
Screaming, writhing, begging, nothing helps. I try to get up and run from whatever is torturing me, but I'm held down by a force I cannot hope to overcome. From nothingness to the flames of hell, one thought forces through my pain induced haze—Bella.
Realizing my eyes are closed, I open them, fully expecting them to be sightless, for surely the flames consuming my body have melted my eyes into molten pools of vitreous fluid. Amazingly, a room forms around me, everything moving to and fro until I realize it is I that am moving; the room is still.
I'm not alone; there is a man watching me. He looks concerned, and I immediately beseech him for help—a cure, antidote, quick death—anything to make the pain stop. Without stopping from one thought to the next, I demand to know if Bella is safe, if our unborn child still lies in her belly. The look on the man's face chills me so thoroughly that the pain is forgotten.
I beg, "Please, tell me what's happened!"
He says nothing, only drops his face into his hands and then wrenches at his head as if to tear it from his body. Loud thoughts not my own appear in my head...my God, my God, what have I done? He's not alone; he has a family. How will I ever atone for this!
I want to run to him and demand to know what is going on, but the pain grabs me again, keeping me prostrate on the bed in which I lie. Mimicking the stranger; I find myself grabbing at my own head, trying to end the torture. I don't understand what is happening; why won't he help me? Why can I hear his unspoken thoughts? Why does he know nothing of my family?
Again, I try to reach out to him. "What has been done to me? Why so much pain? Where is my family?"
After moaning the last question, I struggle onto my feet and throw myself at him, landing on my knees before him. I clutch at his legs and beg for answers as the burning continues to destroy me.
How do I answer? What do I say?
"Just tell me the truth!" I shout at him.
"Yes, I damn well hear you; now answer my questions!"
As he looks at me in amazement, I realize, finally, that I've been responding to what is in his head and that he has not actually spoken yet.
"What's happening to me?" I ask, yet again, desperate for some answers.
"Edward, you were dying from the flu, Spanish influenza. A group of men brought you to the hospital I work in after they found you fevered and delirious in a local park. Since you had no identification and were dressed in rags, it was assumed you were homeless."
I can barely think through the pain, but I vaguely remember now.
I can't get all the words out; my jaw is clenched too tight against the assault on my body.
"Edward, I'm so sorry—if I had known that you had a family, someone to mourn you, I would have never done this."
"WHAT DID YOU DO?" I manage to get the full sentence out and then collapse into a heap on the floor.
The man remains silent but his thoughts flood into me once again.
Read my thoughts, Edward. Please see the truth of what I am telling you. You were suffering; it was only going to get worse before your death. Everything about you indicated you had no one; it seemed such a tragic waste to let you die. You're so young, Edward; I couldn't let it happen so I did the only thing left for me to do. I prevented you from dying by making you like me...vampire.
Edward, I know it hurts. I know you feel like you are on fire right now. I would give anything to take that away from you. The pain you are experiencing is from the changes occurring throughout your body: cells are dying, blood is metamorphosing into venom, muscles are contracting, pores are closing; everything in your body is being altered in some way. In another day, the process will be complete.
I ponder his words while he waits for my reaction. Try as I might, I can not make sense of what he is saying and wonder if the pain is making me delirious. Vampire? Is he speaking some kind of code name for a new flu cure? Is he using me as some kind of test subject?
I cannot concentrate any more on trying to figure this out. The pain is too much. My mind empties of my thoughts—and his—as I try to escape from the agony.
The change is nearly complete...I am so sorry, Edward.
The burning has been my companion for what seems like centuries. Now, a new sensation, my heart racing and pounding with such fervor, I think it is about to explode. The pain in my arms and legs is moving to the center of my body, leaving my hands and feet with a cold numbness. The thoughts of the man are louder and clearer, in my head; they bring hope of an ending soon to be given...death, healing, I no longer care for what...I only need an end.
And then, there it is. After a ripping crescendo of furious heart beats pounding through my body, suddenly, it has stopped. The end I prayed for has finally arrived, yet—I am still here. My heart beats no longer, but I feel alive and aware. I lie still a moment, reveling in the absence of pain, and then take stock of the alien body I now inhabit. In addition to not having a heartbeat, breathing appears to be superfluous. I can do it, but it doesn't feel the same; there is no longer an actual urge to take in air. My senses are heightened; as well as being able to hear the thoughts of the man in the room, I can smell each individual article of clothing he is wearing, along with what appears to be a vast forest outside of the building we are in. I am unsure at first as to how I know the breadth of the forest; finally, I realize it is because I cannot smell any industrial or residential activity outside of our own humble cabin. While I was never considered an imbecile, I am now capable of reflecting on much more than one thing at a time; it is almost overwhelming how many things my brain can do simultaneously.
I open my eyes and can only stare around me in amazement. Before I became ill, I needed spectacles to see. Now, everything is astonishingly crisp and clear. I can see through small cracks in the ceiling to the crawl space above. Tiny, multifaceted dust motes sparkle in front of my eyes, each one its own little universe, detectable down to the last molecule. Like adjusting the controls on a microscope, I am able to change the level of my focus to whichever level I need.
Intending to attempt sitting up and getting to my feet, I find myself upright before I have hardly finished the thought. I bring my hand up to my face, and wave it back and forth faster and faster, until it is a blur even to my heightened visual acuity. Super speed is apparently another change I have undergone.
Throughout my self-inspection, the man in the room watches me. An endless loop of humming plays in his head, a way of keeping me out, I assume. Of course, I have several questions for him—so many; I hardly know what to ask first.
"Is there some kind of...I don't know...explanation? For all this?"
He looks at me, and the depth of sadness in his eyes reminds me again that my heart no longer beats—for if it did, it would be pounding fast with fear. I dread what he is about to reveal.
"Do you remember what I told you during the burning? About what you were becoming?" he asks.
"You said something about...vampire? At the time, I thought it was a code for some kind of experiment—" I let my voice trail off as I think about the word vampire and then remember all of the changes I catalogued a moment ago.
As the inevitable conclusion rapidly forms in my improved mind, it starts. At first, I feel a slight tingle in my throat, similar to the feeling before a cough. The more I focus on it, the greater the intensity builds, turning from a simple tingle to a scorching, painful dryness—a thirst more extreme than any I have ever experienced. I turn wildly this way and that, looking for some kind of drink, anything to soothe the thirst. There is nothing in the room, but I spot a lavatory and run to it. Reaching the sink in under a second, I wrench the metal handle clear away from the porcelain in my desperation to drink. While I add increased strength to my catalogue of changes, I manipulate the nut that remains on the sink to get water flowing. As soon as the first drop of foul smelling liquid leaves the faucet, I know it is not going to help. I try anyway, scooping some into the palm of my hand and slurping with my mouth. The water tastes awful, like the shit of a thousand plagued people, and I can only expel it back out, my throat burning more and more by the second. In a flash, I am back in the other room, confronting the one there who holds the answers.
"What? What is this now? What more do I have to endure?" I claw at my throat in a futile attempt to ease the pain.
"Please, I just want to go home. My wife is pregnant; we're having our first child. Help me so I can get back to her!"
I am begging now, on my knees in front of him pleading, while my throat convulses, pointlessly trying to swallow whatever my tongue can grab, but there is nothing in my desiccated mouth.
"Blood. You need blood. It is the one thing you will ever need from now on." His posture is one of abject dejection, shoulders bowed, torso slumped forward, hands clasped between his knees while his head hangs down.
And as he says the words, I realize the truth of them: I am a vampire; I need blood.
"What do I do? Am I to be a killer? Something thought to live only in nightmares?"
As I speak, I can feel a monster growing and awakening inside me. My vampire soul. I recognize it immediately; it is ready to do exactly as I said, find a young life and suck the essence from its thrashing body. My muscles are coiling, ready to spring in the direction most likely to contain something to end this new torture.
"Stop! There's another way," Carlisle shouts to me.
Before I can respond, he is in front of me, hands clasped to my arms, trying to stop me from leaving. An instinct entirely new prompts me to break free from his hold and crouch down into attack mode. Snarls—feral, gut-howling snarls—leave my lips as I ready to conquer this being that stands between me and my hunt. The part of me that remains human is no longer in control; the vampire soul has taken over.
"Edward, listen! Animals! You can drink from animals!"
He is yelling at me while trying to block my exit. I want to believe him, but the pull to find human prey is stronger than his words.
In the next moment, he is gone, out the door and running away. I have to chase, he is a threat I need to eliminate before I can feed. What if he gets to the closest human before I can? Taking off after him, I bolt out of the cabin into the woods. Gaining on him is easy; my speed is much greater than his. Before I catch up completely, he has stopped on his own. First spinning to see if I was watching, he then pounces into the brush, his movements graceful but deadly like a jaguar. I go after him once again, finding him in a thicket, drinking from a deer in his lap, another deer held fast by a free hand; it is still thrashing. Again, instinct takes over; with a leap of my own, I rip the second deer from his grasp and jump again, this time to take myself and my prey into a tree. Less than a second later, I have torn into the animal's throat, the warm blood finally soothing the scorching thirst.
After finishing off the deer, I am able to calm down enough to focus on what the Carlisle is trying to show me; I can feed exclusively from animals, never killing a human. We hunt together; it takes two more deer and a small bear before the burn in my throat decreases to a manageable level. He explains it will never go away entirely, but with time, it will be easier to ignore.
As we walk back to the cabin, he introduces himself as Carlisle, telling me he has been alive for over three hundred years now. He has a family of sorts, a group of vampires he has changed: a woman who became his wife, another woman whom he considers a daughter, and a son, mated to the second woman. While vampires who choose to live together typically refer to themselves as a coven, Carlisle and his group call themselves a family. He hopes I will join them, an idea I am not remotely interested in entertaining. My only concern is getting back to my wife and figuring out how we will live now that I am...this.
"Carlisle, I know you only tried to help me, that you pictured me becoming part of your family, but I have a family already that I intend on returning to. My child is due to be born in just a few weeks, and I mean to be there."
Unlike most men of my acquaintance, I am every bit as excited as Bella to welcome our child. Boy or girl didn't matter; I simply prayed every hour of every day for the health of both mother and baby.
As I speak, Carlisle's face becomes more and more grave. My words trail off in a futile effort to defend myself against whatever horrible news he is about to add to the day's revelations. His mind is empty of clearly worded thoughts, but I can tell something horrible is coming.
"Edward, as long as I exist, I will never forgive myself for what I have done here. You can't go home; it's impossible," he says with agony in his tone.
Practically talking over his last words, I speak as fast as I can to better make what I say true. "Of course I can go home. Now that I know how to take care of myself, there's no reason why I can't go back to my family. What are you talking about? You're not making any sense." Barely, I stop myself from stomping my foot like Bella does when I am being unreasonable.
His words make me anxious, and I want to block him out and leave. The only reason I have not yet departed is that I cannot chance missing important information which may affect those I need to keep safe.
We are in the cabin now, and I look to see if there are any belongings I should gather. While I search, he keeps babbling words that I unsuccessfully attempt to ignore.
"You haven't been near a human yet, so you don't know; the smell of human blood is too much for a newborn vampire. You would have no control and would kill many, including your wife and unborn child." He speaks slowly and deliberately, like an asylum worker to an inmate.
I stop what I am doing and look at him incredulously. "That's preposterous! You were my doctor, surrounded by human blood all the time! If you can do it, I certainly can."
"I've had centuries to work on my control. When I was first turned, it was well over a year before I could even be within a couple miles of human life without being a danger to them. Do you really want to take that chance?"
"What am I supposed to do then?" I say.
"She's my wife! My everything! Am I just supposed to let her think I died? Force her to raise our child all alone?" As I speak, my mind recoils from the implications of what it means that Carlisle has been working on his control for centuries.
"I know it's awful to contemplate, but it really would be best for her to think you are dead. She'll have closure that way. Isn't there family that can help her with the baby?"
"No. There's no damn family. Her parents are self-absorbed, selfish and pathetic. They barely care about Bella, much less a grandchild. My parents died when I was young. I'm it. She needs me, and I will not let her down. You did this to me; you help me fix it!"
"What do you propose we do?" Carlisle's voice is about one decible over a whisper, as if he thinks speaking softly will somehow help anything. His hands are up and open, a universal sign of peace.
The more Carlisle tries to calm me down, the more enraged I become. My world is crashing down and while he is the cause of this travesty, he is also the only person I can turn to for help.
"Well, I don't exactly know, now do I?" I throw up my hands in a violent mimicry of his peaceful gesture.
I pace across the room, grabbing at my hair. Bella is all I care about, her and the child. What will I do?
"We have plenty of money; enough can be left to ensure that she and the babe want for nothing." He remained calm and quiet, unaffected by my frantic behavior.
"Great, we can offer her money. What about everything else I am to her? Can you replace that too? Are you going to find some young stud to take my place in her heart and bed?"
"Edward, I'm not saying we can replace you. Of course we can't. But I promise, we'll do everything that can be done to ensure her safety and comfort."
"No. I don't even know why I'm standing here talking to you when I could be heading to her right now. You can keep your crazy vampire family. I will find a way to make this work with my wife!"
Done talking, I run out the door and into the woods. I can hear him following, but I do not care. Acclimating to my increased velocity capabilities, I churn my legs faster and faster, faster even than the one who chases me it seems, as I can hear he is falling behind. Using the new mental compass that I appear to have acquired with all my other talents, I am easily able to lock onto the course I need to get home. While I am able to notice with one part of my brain how in focus everything is regardless of the high speeds I am attaining, the foremost thought in my head is that I will see my Bella soon, that in exactly one hour and three minutes, I will be at my front door. That should give my enhanced intelligence plenty of time to figure out what explanation I'll provide to the love of my life about her newfangled, undead husband.
Evaluating and tossing most of the ideas that float into my consciousness, I almost do not notice when my legs, almost of their own accord, abruptly shift course. Incredibly, I am moving faster now than before, my body targeting the one thing it wants more than Bella—blood. Like being hit with steam from a train, the smell completely surrounds me.
It is so much more than what I had fed on before: deeper, richer, sweeter, the scent absorbing into every sense I have. Reaching the aroma's pinnacle, my body takes over again. I barely have time to register the form in front of me as human before I am grabbing it by the neck, sinking my teeth deep into its throat. It is not until the body is an empty husk that I finally set it apart from me and look at what I have wrought. What remains is the figure of a man. From his clothing, I guess he was a drifter. After the damage I have done, there is no way to tell his age or anything else about him.
Horribly, my first thought is not even of this man that I have killed in the most heinous manner; it is only of my Bella and the horrid realizationtion that Carlisle is right; my precious wife is not safe from me.
The conclusion that I cannot return to my love is devastating. Dropping to the ground, I clutch the man in my arms, begging him to come alive, wake up, anything that would undo what I have done. My hands pulverize his bones as I hold him; even dead, he is not safe from me.
It is no use; all the pleading in the world will not change anything. Realizing the futility of my actions, I gently lay him down and then set about digging a grave for him with my bare hands. If I can use them to crush his bones, I can use them to lay him to rest.
I make it exactly six feet deep, with the walls and floor perfectly even and flat. While creating a bed of pine needles for the bottom, I notice that Carlisle has caught up to me and is silently watching. There are no words or judgment in his head, only a deep sadness on my behalf and an intense regret for what he has done to me.
I carefully lower my victim into his dank, dirt grave. The shame for what I have done is annihilating me. Knowing nothing about him, I purposely torture myself by imagining great acts of kindness done by him on a daily basis.
Maybe he worked with orphans or was a minister on his way to console a grieving family.
Maybe he was a travelling doctor, helping those with no transport.
I'll never know the complete devastation my actions have wrought. And now, I have no choice but to consign him to a base, anonymous grave, whatever family he may have had forever to be in the dark about their loved one. Searching his clothes, I find he carried no identification, nothing I can use to notify kin, even if I were capable of such an interaction without it turning into an even harsher nightmare.
I continue to flagellate myself with the sharpest thoughts I can draw from my newly-expanded verbal scabbard, all the while softly—so softly—covering the man with dirt. Every bit of him I bury is a new agony to my dead heart, watching my sin being hidden away while the man inside me demands justice, even against himself.
Once he is covered, I search about, needing a marker for the grave. I have interred the man under a majestic spruce tree, and am able to gather sizable branches from under the boughs. Twisting and twining the wood, I form a decorous cross with which I impale the dirt at the grave head.
My task done, unable to come up with any other way to seek atonement for my sin, unwilling to pray to a God who I believe to have rightfully forsaken me, I finally turn to Carlisle.
"How could you?" I ask quietly, no longer railing at him but encouraging him to explain this to me. Desperately, I hope he has something to say, some fact as of yet unrevealed which could possibly turn this evil I have become into something good. "Why didn't you let me die? For what was I turned into this?"
I can already see in his mind, as I watch my questions enter his consciousness, that he has no words to place some kind of silver lining on this darkest of clouds. I let him speak anyway, knowing how much it pains him to admit these truths to me, gaining a sliver of petty revenge against my destroyer.
"Edward, I can never apologize enough. There is no justification, nothing I can say that will make sense of this to you—I see that now. I can only offer the experiences I had with my family, my vampire family. While we all wish we could have lived our full lives in our human forms, our existence now is still more than no existence at all."
I try, I really try, to see it from his point of view. In his mind, I can see that he truly seeks to be good, that he wants to rise above what he is. There is no denying the love he feels his family has to offer each other. Still, no matter how much consideration to his intent I attempt to give, there is no escaping what he took away from me, away from my family. If I had died, then at least there would be a body for my wife to mourn. She would have a grave to visit with our child as she shared stories of us. And, I would have never become unworthy of her in a single act of violence that stripped away everything good about me. He should have known no one with a true soul would ever ask for what he had to give. I only have only an intense hatred for this man now.
Keeping these thoughts to myself, I only allow him to see the contempt in my eyes as I rise to stand in front of him. Regardless of how I feel about him, I still need his guidance and cannot risk driving him away with continued condemnations. Nothing in my previous life could be used to acclimate me to the existence I now face. For the moment, ruled by pragmatism, I prepare to be the unwilling companion he created for himself.
"Lead on, please. Now that you have me, do what you will. Just, please, do not let me anywhere near a human. And keep your thoughts to yourself." I have grown weary of his inner monologue, constant entreaties for forgiveness, and insufficient explanations.
Without further ado, Carlisle leads me to a herd of deer grazing about a quarter mile from where we had been. I fall on the buck, sucking greedily, while cursing myself for noticing how vile the taste is compared to the man I had slaughtered. My capacity for cognitive dissonance is making me feel at war with myself, a war I will apparently wage for time eternal. At that happy thought, I drop the deer and wait for Carlisle to finish, my own appetite buried under a throat-choking load of self-hatred.
Carlisle looks with surprise at the unfinished animal at my feet but, as requested, keeps his mind blocked. He merely places a new bite on a different spot of the animal and finishes him off. For one brief moment, I wonder what he seeks to avoid from the bite I had made, but then decide I do not care enough to ask. Daresay, I will eventually find out in the millennia to come.
Once Carlisle has finished my kill, he turns and heads back to the cabin, motioning for me to join him. Lacking any other option, I submit once more to my fate and follow close behind, close enough, I hope, that he can catch me in case I am taken unawares by another human.
We make it to the door without incident. On the threshold, I turn to take a last look outside before heading in. The beauty of the forest is marred for me now that I can only look using the eyes of a killer.
Inside the cabin, I sit in a small chair, determined not to move or speak unless absolutely necessary. I ignore Carlisle completely, having nothing left to say to the creature that has ruined me so thoroughly. Eventually, the burning returns to my throat, signaling the need to feed again. In his incessant ramblings, Carlisle informs me that, as a newly-turned vampire, my urge to feed will be almost constant, gradually becoming less frequent, as my control strengthens and my body becomes more mature. I don't care. The only thing I focus on is his story of trying to go without feeding when he was first turned. He lasted two months. If he could do it, so can I.
The chair in which I sit is made of wood. The legs are at an exact 93 degree angle from the seat, which has seven slats and a total of five knots, each of which I can feel and identify individually. The back rises up 27.43 inches from the base. It is a chair no one would be comfortable sitting in for very long, designed more as a temporary spot to put one's shoes on or read a brief letter. I will sit in it for 57 days, one hour, twelve minutes and three seconds before my world is torn asunder once again.
Over the last couple months, every day has been like the one before. The only benefit I have found in this new body is that it needs absolutely no attention, as long as I can ignore the burning in my throat. I do not need to defecate or urinate, do not need to sleep. Human food and drink are things of the past. I do not sweat, alleviating any need to wash. Like a statue, I get dusty, but since I do not need to breathe, it does not matter. My dust glimmers and twirls in front of my eyes, fascinating me. It seems, regardless of my expanded intellect, I can still be entertained by the simple. Of the horror that my life had become, this is what I am most thankful for.
Mainly, as I sit in my self-imposed exile, I think about Bella. Always, in my head, there is a countdown to the day we are expecting our baby. We had a great time one morning, speculating on which of our recent couplings made our child, and then counting nine months from there. Bella had hoped that it was a particularly enthusiastic encounter that had taken root; she thought such a conception would make the baby stronger of body and character. My vote was for one of our slower, more romantic love makings, in the hopes that the child would be sweet and gentle like my Bella. Of course, Bella did not like it when I described her as either sweet or gentle, but she is…she always is. I miss her.
No matter which of us is correct, the day is approaching. The knowledge that I can not go to her, be with her for the birth of our child, is tearing me apart. I want to scream, cry, beg; but there is no point. Nothing brings any release; my body has no human way to break down anymore, and I have not yet found the vampire equivalent.
Bella and I had talked constantly about the day she would have the baby. She had planned a home birth, wanting to bring our child into the world in a natural setting. Despite the increased availability of hospitals, and the promise of pain-erasing drugs, Bella's instincts were to let nature take sway. I was in awe of her and would have agreed with whatever she asked. She amazed me, continuing to care for me and our home without complaint while she grew more and more unbalanced and her feet pained her from swelling. Each evening, when I got home, my first order of business would be to make her sit with me on the couch while I massaged her from calf to toe, reveling in every groan of pleasure I brought forth from my wife.
As I rubbed her feet, I would take so much pleasure in looking at the home Bella had created for us. While I made house call after house call to build up a client base for my sales job, Bella was turning the shack we had scrounged to buy into a cozy cottage. Curtains she had made adorned the windows; table cloths and tapestries inherited from her family and mine hid rough wood and cracked walls. And in the corner of our room, sat the cradle I had used as a baby, handed down to my parents from my maternal grandparents. Bella had crocheted a baby's blanket of the softest yarn I had ever felt, and it lay waiting for our little miracle.
I knew I wasn't like the other men. I heard the complaints they gave about fat wives, crying babies and no intercourse. That wasn't me; everything they complained about, I saw as part of our life together, part of making this family, the only family we had in the world.
Day starts like any other day. The sun rises at 6:42am. By 10:21am, it is coming in the window enough that I can feel it on my body and watch the beams reflect off the multifaceted surface I used to call skin. At 11:52am, Carlisle enters the cabin.
It had only taken a few days of my ignoring him and refusing to discuss the need to keep myself fed before Carlisle informed me he was going to spend some time with his family, but would be back to check on me. He offered to let me come with him, to live with his supposed family that was nothing more than a sick fantasy he had created for himself out of a shameless need to fabricate a human life for an inhuman monster. I declined.
His visits are generally short and perfunctory, consisting of his trying to talk to me and my continuing to ignore him. I can only assume he thinks I'll break down out of loneliness or hunger. He continues to keep his mind filled with minutia which spares me the actual details.
On this most recent of days, his mind is still blocked, but there is desperation to his method. Calm recitations of favorite poems have been replaced with frantic counting in ancient languages. He refuses to look at me and seems ready to depart before the wake of the wind from when he opened the door has settled.
Immediately, my mind goes to Bella. At least three of the due dates we guessed have been and gone. I cannot think of anything else that could possibly make Carlisle this anxious to hide from me.
In an instant, as if I was already in motion and hadn't been frozen in place for almost sixty days, I am on top of Carlisle, driving him into the floor, my arms wrapped in a choke hold around his neck. Determined to tear him to pieces if he does not talk to me, I snarl at him to tell me what is going on.
The image is only in his head for an instant, less than a second, but with my cursed vampire mind, that is all it takes to read in full the notation Carlisle had seen in the newspaper.
Isabella Marie Swan Masen. Found deceased in her home March 12, 1918. Apparent death in child birth. Un-named child also deceased.
That is it—those four sentences and everything is over. There is nothing left for me. Bella: my rock, my angel, my heart, is gone.
My cursed vampire mind manages to remember in perfect detail every beautiful moment of our lives together; the memory loss Carlisle warned me of never providing relief.
The day I met her: she fell at my feet while dismounting from her horse, laughing and blushing as I dare to give her my hand and use my handkerchief to dust her shoes.
The day I proposed: a wine and cheese picnic in the most perfect flower filled meadow. The diamond was barely bigger than a promise but shined true in the sun.
The day we moved into our new home: we made love in each room, and then, with only a small amount of shame, followed each exuberant coupling with a prayer to bless our home and love with a child.
The day she told me she was pregnant: tears streamed from her eyes turning them to shining chocolate pools while she could barely get the words out. My happy tears mixed with her as we kissed and embraced in joy.
The day I promised her one last sales trip before the baby was born: I vowed to make it home safely to her. Her fierce hug and threat of disembowelment should I renege—a pain I would happily undergo if it meant I could be in her arms once again.
Twenty-three years old and with eternity ahead of me—I am done. Nothing will ever eclipse the best moments of my existence that have already been and gone.
Letting go of Carlisle, I fall to my knees, clawing at my eyes, attempting to scrape them from my skull, needing to erase the new images in my head. Beautiful Bella, on the floor, surrounded in blood, our child cradled in her arms. I knew she would have been frantic trying to bring the child to life, while her own life flowed out of her body unnoticed in her grief. It doesn't matter that I actually know not a single detail of what occurred; this inhuman brain of mine is more than capable of providing gruesome images out of speculation and assumption.
In my mourning, I am still aware of movement around me, Carlisle and someone else whom I have not noticed being with him before. My head is entirely consumed with grief, blocking the thoughts of the two from entering. As I only want to be alone, I roll from my knees until I lie on the floor with my arms wrapped around myself, screaming as loudly as I can in the hopes they would go away.
"Edward, Edward, I know you're in agony. Please, I need you to listen to me now. Please, Edward." Carlisle was begging me, the desperation in his tone enough to break through my keening.
"What could you possible have to say to me now? She's gone; there's nothing left. Leave." It is all I want, for him to leave, for no one to ever find me again.
"Edward, this is my son, Emmett. I brought him with me…I brought him for you," he says, struggling to articulate why he'd felt bringing another one of his demonic creations would somehow ease my suffering.
I ignore him, but can't help but open my mind to this Emmett only a bit, in case he somehow has a way that will bring Bella back to me. I can read minds; maybe Emmett can bring back the dead. Maybe Emmett can reunite me with my family and make it as if this all had never happened. Maybe Emmett can kill me.
As I think it, so does he. Turns out, he is here to kill me, if that is what I want. Carlisle's thoughts come through now showing me that he realized what this latest news could do to me. I could very well end up going mad and remaining so 'til the end of time. Images of another vampire, one somehow looking ever year of a millennia long life, lurk in the background of his mind. Marcus: nothing but a shell after Didyme's murder. It is only because of these memories that he considers offering this death to me.
Emmett is strong; he had possessed above average strength as a human, and now as a vampire, he could accomplish things that others could not, including a fast, clean rip of the head from my body into a fire, obliterating everything as quickly and humanely as possible.
I look up then to see this Emmett, this proposed savior of mine bringing me what I sought most—death. He stands taller than I and is muscled over every inch of his body that I can see. His face, while grim now, gives an indication that his usual expression is one of happiness and contentment. Apparently, he has found peace in this blooded existence. I'm sure having a mate made the whole thing much more bearable. There will be no mate for me though; the only one who could have fulfilled such a role is now gone.
I eagerly accept the gift Emmett offers to his would-be brother and nod my acquiescence to them, hoping it will be quick and that there will be no need for further discussion.
As promised, I never see it coming.
I took the ashes of Edward Anthony Masen and placed them into an urn so I could lay him to rest with his family as he would have wanted. As I scatter his ashes over the graves, allowing him to surround his loved ones with his essence, I pray for his soul using the words my father taught me in my human youth, the clearest memory I have.
"We commend unto thy hands of mercy, most merciful Father, the soul of this our brother departed, and we commit his body to be consumed by fire, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And we beseech thine infinite goodness to give us grace to live in thy fear and love and to die in thy favour, that when the judgment shall come which thou hast committed to thy well-beloved Son, both this our brother and we may be found acceptable in thy sight."
I struggle through the last words of the prayer, knowing that if I ever am fortunate enough to sit in judgment in front of the Creator, I will be found wanting, not in small part due to my actions toward the young man I pray for today. As a means towards atonement, I make a vow to my Lord.
"Into Thine arms, I commend the spirit of Your servant, Edward Anthony Masen. I vow that I will no longer presume to be equal to You by giving everlasting life to the humans You have called home. I humble myself before You, begging Your forgiveness, and that of Edward, Bella and their child. Never again will I turn a human into a vampire…never again."
A/N: Thanks for reading! All praise and criticism humbly appreciated and responded to...