Age of Edward Contest
Pen name: Bellaward1105
Title: Once Upon A Terror
Type of Edward: French Revolution Edward
1793. French Revolution, Reign of Terror
"She is in dire need of a physician," Jasper said with a sigh. He stood up and took his spot beside Alice.
I abruptly rushed to where my mère lay, sick and pale. "It's all right, Mama. Everything's all right. I will fetch you a physician so you'll get better, I promise." I took her icy hand and kissed her knuckles. She coughed, and the tears were threatening to spill over the rims of my eyes.
"N-no, Isabella," Mama moaned. "It is too dangerous. You might get caught. You cannot get caught." She gave another terrible cough.
"Hush, Mama." I motioned for Rosalie to hand me the damp towel. She gave it to me with apprehensive eyes and went back to Emmett's side. I placed the towel gingerly over my mère's forehead.
I waited for sleep to conquer her and when it finally did, I got onto my feet and left the room with my amis. We descended the stairs silently. The house was quiet, the rest of the inhabitants sleeping in their rooms. Once seated on the wooden chairs at the dining hall, they expressed their concerns to me.
"Isabella, I don't believe your voyage to town is a splendid idea," Alice said uncomfortably. Rosalie agreed and reminded the presence of my name under the guard's watch list.
"Jasper and I volunteer," Emmett contended, ignoring the worried look of his femme. Jasper nodded once, his bellicose nature showing.
I was shaking my head before they even broach on the subject. "No." I sighed. "No one will guard the others if you two go. I have to do this. Mama has endured too much."
"What if they capture you?" Rosalie asked miserably, trying in vain to change my mind.
"They won't. I will prevent it with all my power," I promised. "I have to leave before sunrise." I stood up and headed to the door, planning to prepare my horse.
"It seems like we cannot change your mind." Alice sighed unhappily. "You are always so stubborn."
All I could give her was a cheeky grin.
Dawn came almost as fast as sound. Once everybody had been awakened, they were told of another perilous mission of mine. Everyone became fretful when they learned what I was about to do. The younger males volunteered to take my place, but I told them that it was all right. It was my mother who needed the physician and I was the sole person who could take the risk for her.
After a couple more arguments, everyone finally gave in. The children gave me hugs, the women admired me for my bravery, and Alice and Rosalie made a promise to keep the excursion from my mère; Alice had insisted I wear some simple dress she made–which clearly made me looked foreign–in exchange of the secret she was about to conceal.
"Take care of everyone, Emmett, Jasper, Seth, Benjamin, and Alec." I nodded to the young men who I entrusted the lives of all the women and children while I was away.
I mounted my horse and was off to town to find Doctor Carlisle Cullen. I didn't look back at the farmhouse we were keeping cover and made the animal go faster, wanting to finish my job as quick as possible.
The sun was hovering above the mountains when I reached the city. I firmly pulled the reins and the horse decelerated. I lowered my chapeau in aspiring hopes of hiding my face from the lurking guards and headed towards Doctor Cullen's abode.
After making sure no one detected my arrival, I hopped down from the beast even though I was still a few steps away from physician's dwelling. Knocking on the door, it was Esme, the kind femme of Doctor Cullen, who opened it and gasped when she saw my serene visage. I smiled a little and she quickly ushered me in, looking from left to right for safety measures.
"Who is it, ma cher?" I heard the doctor called out from the kitchens.
"You better come in here, Carlisle," Esme said quietly, motioning a cushion-covered chair for me to sit on. I removed my chapeau and placed the wandering wisps of hair behind my ear.
Doctor Cullen appeared at the doorway, his genteel demeanor shifted to one of astonishment, and rushed to our side when he had composed himself.
"Isabella, what in God's name are you doing here alone? If they see you, jeune fille, they will execute you," he chastised. He took the seat across from where I was seated while Esme was busy closing the curtains. I thanked her in my mind for being prudent.
"Doctor, Mama has been sick for these past few days. Jasper couldn't do anything about it anymore, so I decided to seek for your help. I will give you my word that I will pay you in every amount you wish," I vowed before he could repudiate my offer.
"Oh, child, you do not have to do that," Esme interceded, seating herself beside me. "Your death-defying performances are enough to show how grateful people like Carlisle and I are for helping less fortunate people find refuge. You have that marvelous audacity to fight for them," she added the last sentence in total veneration.
"Because it is the right thing, madame. They are all innocent, yet they are all punished," I pronounced in a bleak voice as I remembered what happened to my father.
Esme touched my shoulder. "Pardon me, Isabella. It must be very painful for you. Have no concern. Carlisle and I will provide any help you need." Doctor Cullen nodded as she was speaking.
Relief deluged me. "Oh, thank you!" I exclaimed. "I couldn't have asked for more. Here is the address." I handed them a piece of parchment with the farmhouse's address on it. "Leave a few minutes after me. If anything unforeseen happens, do not think about me; I shall take care of everything. Your presence is critical to my mère." I put the chapeau back, and with a gratified bow, I exited their home.
Officials had scattered around town during my conversation with the Cullens. I felt dread creep along my spine. I may have been frolicking with Fate during those street flights with my amis, but I was currently alone. I had no weapons but only my wit to save me, the very thing why I'd been able to live this long.
Once I was seated above the horse, a guard turned his attention towards me.
Oh, the unfortunate timing!
Feeling slightly panicky, I whipped the horse and we sped out of the streets, leaving the guard yelling, "Isabella Swan!"
The sound of more galloping from the neighboring streets became louder as I weaved through the streets of Paris, making turns and curves around alleys and roads, sprinting over wagons and trolleys. Reaching the nearby forest was my ultimate chance of losing them and making a detour for the farmhouse.
My beloved chapeau flew out of my head because of the speed, and my hair rolled down, making it easy for them to spot me. I held onto the reins as the beast zoomed past the street, easily sidestepping carriages and fellow horses. Some people were shocked when they realized it was me and others were purely amazed. One male whistled while a young woman selling flowers threw a rose; it landed perfectly in front of me.
I was at an intersection, and all I had to do was go right and I would end up in the forest, but five impish guards were approaching from that direction and so was the direction in front of me.
So I took a sudden left turn. I didn't notice if some of them crashed with each other by the sudden curve. What was important was that I went home safely. The hooves noises lessened behind me until I thought I could only hear one. I risked a look, and instantly regretted it. It was the officer earlier. He had a determined look on his young face, and those piercing green eyes scared me.
The buildings and houses were thinning and I thought that it might be another way to the forest. Soon, the houses were gone and there was a deep abyss with an old rope bridge linked to the woods. I instantly knew that I wasn't going to make it if I cross that with the horse, but I prayed that it would because it was the only way for me to escape.
I whipped the horse and it accelerated, heading towards the possible cause of our deaths. I never dared looking down and seeing how deep the cliff was. I just stared ahead. I thought the guard had finally stopped chasing me because I heard the horse come to a halt. I breathed a sigh of relief when I crossed the bridge without any harm. I turned around, wanting to look for the guard who'd given up, but I was surprised to see him start crossing it with his horse. Oh, I got his logic. He feared the bridge would break if we both pass through it. Clever boy. One of his errors was that he didn't think I could run off and be ahead of him in a few seconds.
"Hiya!" I shouted and lashed the horse with the reins. I was only a meter away when I heard the sound of someone shouting and a horse neighing.
I halted in my tracks, curious as to what had happened. I was wary that it might be a trick, but curiosity got the best of me. I went back and was horrified to see that the bridge had given out. I jumped out of my horse, running to peer below the cliff. I thought the guard would've died but there he was, clinging to a branch. His hat fell, revealing peculiar, bronze locks. His horse unfortunately fell. The young man looked up and yelled, "Help!"
Without thinking, I looked around me for something that I could use to pull him out of Death's hands. I saw a sturdy-looking piece of wood. I knelt down and offered it to him. "Hold on to this!" I instructed.
He clung to it for dear life, and I used all of my strength to pull him out. After a little more effort, I managed to bring him up. I was breathing heavily and sweat covered every inch of my body.
He finally turned to me–his fierce eyes were full of appreciation and a little confusion–and said, "Thank you for helping me."
"Of course. You needed it. It is only right that I give it to you," I said sincerely and quietly. That was the reason why I took all the trouble helping bourgeoisies and sans-culottes. Because they needed help. My père had always taught me to keep my feet firmly on the ground and care for others, even bad people. Many people were shouting for help and justice that couldn't be attained. But I had the means to help them, and I wasn't going to sit inside my house, knitting, when I could do something for them. For my papa. I would never forget the things that he did.
I was being a tad overwhelmed that was why I did not immediately saw the guard's strange expression and heard the distinct sound of approaching horses.
The young man must had pitied my frenzied face, because all of a sudden, he took my arm with one hand and the bridle of the horse with the other, and dragged me until we were hidden amongst the bushes.
"What–" He cut me off by placing one large hand over my mouth. He was looking over the leaves and branches and when I had spoken, he turned his attention towards me. I tried to explain with my eyes what he was doing. Shouldn't he be selling me to his other comrades like what he did back in town? Why was he helping me escape?
"You saved my life," he explained simply. "I cannot let you go without giving anything in return." He watched through the bushes once more.
I was extraordinarily amazed. All my life, I'd known men and women in the government to be cold and uncivil, doing everything for power and wealth. But then the man before me–the man I had feared mere minutes ago–had proven me that I was wrong with that assumption.
Or maybe it was just him alone that was not wicked. As my horse nudged my cheek and I responded by patting its nose, I could not help but wonder.
A man spoke loudly from the other side of the ravine, "Commandant, it looks like she has escaped."
The person he was speaking to blasphemed. "How can you say so? Look at the damn cliff. She might've fallen in it!"
"No, sir. The other men did not see any signs of someone falling in there. No woman."
"How about Masen? Where is he?"
I saw how the young man–Masen–stiffened from his crouched position, but didn't say or do anything.
"We do not know, sir. But I believe he and Isabella Swan had crossed the bridge before it broke down. I cannot comprehend why Masen did not reappear by now, though. He probably betrayed us and helped the woman escape," the man assumed.
I kept my eyes on Masen while guards were conversing. I saw how hurt and betrayal crossed his handsome face.
"Humph, we do not know that. He might be trailing her. But I'll consider your idea. After all, that Swan girl has lured some of our men with that her ludicrous ideas and, I don't know, maybe her own body," he said in disgust. I felt my blood boil. Jasper and Emmett turned their backs on them because of their femmes. How can those people think of me in the most degraded way? I would've lost my control and jump out of my hiding place if it weren't for the horse I was caressing.
"Listen," the one who insulted me started, and hearing his voice yet again angered me more, "if any one of you sees Masen with that Swan girl, capture the both of them right away. Comprendre?" A chorus of oui, commandant rang out, and they were retreating.
Masen and I stayed frozen behind the bushes until we were sure that it was safe. When it was, Masen stood up and angrily slammed his hand on a tree trunk.
The horse made some nervous sounds and even I was feeling frightened once more. After giving the poor tree a few more blows, he rested both hands and said in a shattered voice, "What did I do to deserve this?" Then, he fell on the ground.
I did not know what to do. I felt so guilty for what he did even though it was his decision to help me. But I had to comfort him. I couldn't bear it if anyone gets hurt because of me. The steed had run off somewhere and I was left all alone with him.
I walked–the hem of my dress was sullied from the forest floor–and stopped when I was standing next to him. I looked down on him with apologetic eyes. "I am sorry for what happened." Those were the words that escaped from my mouth which, I thought, were the grandest things that I could say.
He gazed into my eyes. "No, no, I do not blame you." A clap of thunder echoed through the entire forest. Briefly, I checked the clouds. They were a shade darker than before and it promised rain. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't discover my great friend lying to me." He sighed dolefully, staring at the clouds as well. "You should go back to where you are hiding, and not have to worry about me; I have no plans on coming back to the quarters." He stood up just as the first drops of rain fell lightly. A few seconds later, they were falling heavily.
I couldn't help asking him, "Where are you heading?" He was going to the direction of the abyss, looking oddly defeated and lifeless.
He turned back to me and gave a shrug of indifference. Still, I asked him another question, "Are you heading back to your family?"
His green eyes steeled and his face became strained. I instantly feared I had said something wrong. "I have no family. My parents have left me lots of years ago." Without waiting for another word, he continued his path to the abyss.
"Then come with me," I gasped. The rain was making it hard to speak. The words came out automatically, like they were meant to be spoken to an individual like Masen. It was as if I could trust him with our secrets. "It is my fault why the guards are after you. Stay with us at the farm for a while, and then you can find a way to leave France if you want to." I wished he'd accept my offer because tremendous amount of guilt weighed strongly on my shoulders at the moment, and I have no idea what to do with them if he refused.
He stopped again, veering his head back at me. His eyes were calculating. "I don't know. All my life, I thought your groupe were badly-behaved and ruthless because of the stunts you did and for being outlaws. But you extended your kindness too much to prove I was mistaken. Since nothing holds me here, I guess leaving France would be my best choice, but your people might murder me," he admitted, smiling slightly and turning fully to me.
My mouth turned upwards. "No, they wouldn't. I trust Jasper and Emmett to behave. And I have to admit, I took your kind as the cruel ones. But I guess we were both prejudiced; not all of you are bad, after all. I am Isabella Swan, monsieur. I help people who are nearly guillotined and who doesn't have enough money to feed themselves." I gave him a curtsy, smiling still.
He appeared to be surprised, nevertheless, he played along. "I see, Ms. Swan, you are really the most prejudiced woman in France. I am Edward Masen. Mes parents died when I was jeune, and I thought serving Robespierre was the best choice for me." He bowed a little, also smiling, though there seemed to be something wrong.
I chuckled, somewhat entertained with our silly conversations and wholly forgetting the current state we were in. Lightning streaked across the sky followed by the boom of thunder. A shiver ran through my body, and I only realized at that moment how cold the temperature was.
Edward Masen looked at me in concern. "I suggest we go to your farm immediately."
I agreed. We tagged my horse with us as we walk. I had only gone a few steps when I became conscious of something crucial.
"I don't know where to go."
It was true when I said I did not know. I had turned the other way when the guards were chasing me, and with the bridge unavailable, I knew no other way. Masen asked me if I was being serious, and after a few moments, we both decided to find in vain of a place to shelter us until the rain stopped.
About two meters away–if what I learned was accurate about the metric system–was an old, abandoned shack. I thanked the Lord for it and we quickly rushed inside. There was no door but a single window beside where it should've been. Nothing was found inside apart from arm-long twigs.
We stayed inside the hut, both of us not talking, until the rain stopped, and when it did, the sun had set and it was too dark to travel. Edward used the twigs to start a fire, while I stayed seated at the mouth of the shack's entrance.
The clouds had cleared after the great onslaught and the stars were sparkling like diamonds in the deep blue sky. The familiar feat of stargazing warmed my heart and I abruptly stopped shivering. There was a dull, orange glow in front of me and I realized that it was the fire that had thawed me. Edward Masen was seating on a log beside the fire and when he met my gaze, he gave me a small smile. I returned it. And then I finally noticed it through the flames. His troubled eyes.
Standing up and taking a seat on a spare log opposite him, I asked softly, "Edward, what's the matter?" I did dare use his first name. It was a precedent I had learned when I spent my entire time with people I considered my equals.
He was leaning forward, both his elbows resting on his thighs. At the mention of his name, he shifted his gaze to mine. "Nothing. I was just thinking."
Understanding he probably did not want to share it with me, I just nodded, settling on fixing my tangled hair and gazing up at the sky. A full minute passed before his voice filled the silence.
"Why do you do it?" he suddenly asked.
I looked at his face. "Pray, do what?"
"Help these folks and put your trust in them so easily."
"Because they need help," I answered automatically. "These people have nothing to buy their clothes and even their own food. My late father taught me to never turn my back on anybody. As long as they need your help and you have the ability to give it, then you must do so. He toured me so much around town when I was young, and kept reminding me how lucky I was to have both my parents and an access to all my necessities. I saw beggars, abandoned children, and worst, people who were maltreated because of their social status, because they were poor." I sighed deeply.
"Even if it means half of France despising and wanting to kill you?" he asked with reverence.
"Dying for the good is a million times better than dying for nothing. And the feeling that at least one-eight of the citizens of France are having three meals a day, safe from the terror Robespierre created and merely happy to be with their family." I smiled. I perceived I was doing the action quite a lot today.
He stared at me for a long time. "I am sorry for what happened to your father. I know it must be hard for you." Edward must have heard his death back then.
"As long as I continue what he has started and we attain what we want, then I am all right," I told him. Then, I veered off our conversation. "Enough about me. What about you? You seemed a little sulky," I jested, picking up a stick and played with it and the fire.
It took him a while to reply. "Well, I was thinking of my unfortunate life. Like what I've said, mes parents died when I was a child. A distant relative raised me and when I was old enough, she sent me out of her house. I wandered through the streets until an officer offered me a post." He sighed. "I met a friend there. His name was Jacob. He and I had been good friends." I waited for more but nothing followed.
"Had?" I inquired. Then it all clicked. The man before who had given his nasty opinion, the hurt look that had etched on his face when that was considered. It was him. His friend. Or so he thought.
I didn't even think of what came out of my mouth. "I am sorry."
He looked at me, his agonized face shifting to amusement. "You are being fervid with apologies, Mademoiselle Swan. How many times do I have to remind you that it's not your fault? Everything isn't."
I turned beet red. "Well ... I am the reason why they are looking for you. Having your picture posted on every corner. A fine reward awaits the citizen to turn you in. The feeling of becoming an outlaw," I murmured, fixating my gaze on the flickering flames.
He didn't respond for a long time, until we heard a distant yell. I looked blindly around the dark foliage that surrounded us, wondering what it could possibly mean. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Edward standing up and climbing a tree effortlessly. I thought I heard him curse as he leaped down gracefully.
"What is wrong?" I asked, alarmed as he pulled the horses out of their cover behind the trees.
"Someone noticed the smoke. The guards will be coming here soon, so I suggest you take your horse and leave this area," he said grimly.
I didn't need to be told twice. I jumped to my feet, scurrying to my steed and Edward and I retreated from the scene as quickly as possible. It was hard when you had nothing but the moon's soft glow to light the way. The forest floor was filled with twigs and pebbles. I had tripped multiple times and Edward helped me, and if he couldn't, I'd used my horse's reins for support.
Even as we get away, I could hear them. "Arrest that Isabella Swan. She has brought nothing but trouble! She is a witch, a gypsy. Death will not suffice when it comes to her!"
My anger shot up so high, I thought I could go back and face them. How dare they use my name in vain! They had no rights. None at all. But then, I was so glad I didn't for it could end Edward's life and mine, too. I did not know if it was the fatigue or what, but tears had started to form in my eyes. Angry tears. I fought the urge to cry the whole way, not wanting them to hear me.
We didn't stop our journey until Edward felt we were far enough. There seemed to be a stream somewhere near. The loud gushing of water reminded me so much of what we'd had back in the farm; I was sure that the stream we had come across wasn't what we had back there because of the trees were definitely unfamiliar.
When I felt that there were no rocks or branches on the ground, I sat, leaning on a tree trunk and released the tears that I had been fighting off earlier. The events that had transpired today finally sank in. The senseless comments of the officers finally made its way to my weak heart.
I knew I was weak. I was so pale everyone thought I was sick the whole time. The tragic death of my père had given me nightmares. Those months without him were unbearable, especially for my mère. When I decided to continue what my father had started, I was just putting up a façade–a mask–to be strong and not let my opponents knew how they were affecting me with their verbal abuse. But there were times when I lay down on bed, thinking how I managed to help a lot of people on my own. Maybe my père was guiding me wherever he was.
The sound of his footsteps brought me back to the present. I felt him sat next to me. "Mademoiselle Swan, what is wrong? Are you hurt? Please don't cry. I hate it when people cry," he admitted. "You're shivering." And I was. I just didn't notice it before.
I had no idea why he did it. Edward put an arm around my shoulders and hugged me. I knew his only intention was to keep me warm, but there was that wary, that cautious part of me, that told me to not move an inch. I suddenly doubted him, his motives, and everything about him. Was he lying to me? Acting as the government's spy so they could raid our hiding place?
He sighed. "If it was safe to make a fire, I'd do that, mademoiselle. But they will spot us if we do, and you have nothing to keep you warm. I will not do anything, I promise. Trust me."
I lifted my head and tried to look at his face through the tears. He looked sincere, though. Nothing to show he was lying or deceiving me. And I was torn at that time I couldn't help but sobbed on his shoulder. He wrapped both his arms around me and I felt safe and sound. Internally, I was bewildered. How could I keep my guard down so fast? What was with him that calmed me so easily? As I slowly drift to unconsciousness, I found myself too tired to think of anything. But I thought I heard him say, "Poor, lovely Isabella."
When the first rays of the sun peeked out and illuminated the trees, I woke up. Birds chirped from every corner. The stream I heard last night sounded livelier than ever. I tried to get up when I realized Edward's arms were wrapped around me protectively. He was still asleep. Carefully, I ducked under his arms and lay them limply in front of him. His head rested on the tree, his face looking a lot more peaceful and better when asleep. I stretched as I looked around, trying to figure out where we were. My clothes were so filthy and so were my arms and legs. Probably from sleeping on the ground.
I told Alice I shouldn't have worn a dress, but she didn't listen.
I decided to wash in that stream not far from here. I set foot toward west where it was located. It was better to walk around with the help of the sun. After gathering familiar, edible berries, I reached my destination in a few minutes. The current was not that strong and it was shallow. I removed my footwear and lifted my skirt up, stepping in the cool, clear water.
I sighed deeply. The water was very comforting. I cupped my hands and scooped some water. I brought it to my lips and drank. Hesitating ever so slightly, I pulled off my dress–it was a good thing that the dress wasn't the complicated one with the plaited back–and cleaned it, wearing only my undergarments.
I had decided to dry my dress on the rocks while I cleaned my body when I was startled by a noise behind me. I temporarily forgot that I was partially naked as I picked up a long, sturdy bough and prepared myself for my assailant.
A few minutes passed before a figure emerged. I gasped as I recognized who it was.
He seemed all right but his face was painted with worry and anger. His eyes were more troubled than last night and his hair messier, like he'd been running his hands through it.
All signs of worry dissolved from his face when his eyes landed on me. Without speaking, he strode over to where I stood frozen on the spot and enveloped me tightly in his arms. I heard him whisper, "Thank God, you are fine."
I was a little uncomfortable being hugged with just my undergarments. Shyly, I murmured to Edward, "I am all right. Nothing happened to me. Um, Edward, can you turn away for a while. I am kind of underdressed ... " He took a sharp breath as he heard this and swiftly turned his back to me, muttering a quick apology.
Putting my still damp clothes on, I said, "I picked out some berries if you're hungry. They are on top of that rock." But he didn't retrieve it. Instead, he just stood there, with his ears as red as apples.
Bewildered, I walked and faced him. His face was bright red and he was looking everywhere except my eyes. "Are you embarrassed?" I asked with a hint of a smile on my face.
His face had gotten hotter and brighter. For the first time in my life, I teased someone. It was actually a refreshing feeling. It must be the nerves. After all, no one had seen me underdressed except for him, so it was kind of embarrassing. But I was determined not to show him that.
I giggled. I actually did. The last time I came as close as to being giddy was when my père was alive. The mention of my father sobered me.
"I do not want to tease you, monsieur Edward." I smiled. "Excuse me for being so irrational. You must be regretting saving me." I bowed, now feeling slightly embarrassed.
His finger went under my chin. I met his eyes just as a blush crept over my cheeks. "I can never regret saving you." He wiped the drops of water over my cheeks with his other hand, still staring into my eyes. We seemed to be trapped in each other's gazes for awhile, unaware of everything around us. I couldn't even understand why I couldn't break it myself; I didn't have the will.
Then there was a caw so loud and near, I turned suddenly. A large bird flew a few spaces above me. Panicking, I stumbled into Edward. We both lost our balance and fell back into the cold water.
"Ah!" I gasped. After all those effort of removing my dress to bathe myself, it just ended up soaking wet. This is great. At least I'm not entirely wet. I tried being optimistic. Unlike Edward ...
He was sprawled beneath me, preventing me from lying on the riverbed. I was lying on top of him and I quickly scrambled to my feet, my blush darkening and my heart racing a million miles a minute. It was such a deplorable display. He might have seen me unclothed, but at least I could say there was not much physical interaction. The moment was too enchanting; the form of idea that solely existed in romantic artworks of poets and playwrights.
Those perverse reflections were probably the cause of my ineptness to stand. I gave a strident cry, falling for the second time over him. A groan escaped from the poor man beneath me, all the while muttering assurances to my thousand apologies.
I did not have the slightest initiative of the connection between Edward and myself. My emotions were dispersed and my body was having an arduous time picking what portrayed me the most. I may not be a warrior, but I refuse to be vulnerable, either.
How confusing I might sound! I was completely irritated with myself.
We righted ourselves silently, neither of us willing to speak. An air of discomfiture had settled around us with so much pressure, I thought I would choke at any minute.
Astounded and hesitant. Yes, that was what I thought I felt the whole time we ate berries and replenished ourselves. I suggested we start our quest and he readily agreed. He picked up his weapons that were hidden amongst the tall vegetations. The veracity of Edward and I's condition reappeared and my senses ran back to me, causing me to be vigilant and keen.
Hours came and we still hadn't found a way back to the village. We were strolling just near the end of the forest, and it was clear that the land mass across of us was also filled with humongous trees; we were getting farther away from the city. When the sun was at its zenith, there was still no routes in sight and our chance to discover a path to get out had dissipated.
"This is a futile attempt on our part." Edward sighed, placing his devices at his feet. It was the first sentence he had uttered to me, so it took me a few seconds to respond.
"I know," I agreed, sitting on a fallen log and leaving Edward standing in front of me. My feet were protesting inside my shoes and I was so famished. Whatever we were doing, it was wrong. We were just tiring ourselves. I must think of a way.
It was difficult to admit, but I could only think of one way.
"Edward, do you think we could go down the cliff?"
His jade eyes widened a bit. "Down the cliff? That is suicide, mademoiselle. It's far more dangerous."
"No, hear me out," I said. "Yesterday, when we were hiding from the rest of the guards, I caught something incongruous. It is about them searching for us down there and finding no trace. Besides, when I was lending you a hand, I thought I see water."
"Are you positive about that?" he asked uncertainly.
I stood up and gave him an unwavering gaze. "There is only one way to find out." I stepped over the pebbles, bent over and reaped one, and loped to the brink of the cliff. I was about to hurl it down, when what I witnessed staggered me.
It was so near! The water that I had suspected yesterday was essentially from a flowing channel of water. Edward and I might have not become aware of it, but we were descending which led for the cliff to be almost twenty feet from the ground at the moment.
"Edward!" I gasped. "I am right. We could go down! Come and see."
His lean and robust stature appeared beside me. He peered below and murmured, "You were correct. And amazing. What I mean, your way of thinking is incredible." Without uttering one more word, he strode back to the woods to gather his weapons.
I was oblivious of my looking at him with speculation to his response. He just complimented me before he walked away. Was flouncing out his interest? With a culpable jolt, I fathomed I did not know much about him. But I guessed it was inconsequential. He would leave France once we quit this area. I had suggested it and he had deliberated and decided it would be the preeminent choice for him. I couldn't elucidate it, but then, the notion displeased me.
To divert my thoughts, I checked the steepness of the slopes. Oh, well, it is not that dreadful. There were rocks jutting out of the slopes that we could place our feet over as we descend and ascend. Distress was the least thing in my mind. Doing this inevitable event would look less intimidating than the risky missions I did.
Edward came back, prepared, and I told him about the rocks. I volunteered to go down first and was performing miracles with my dress before he could refuse. His eyes strayed on everywhere except on my own, and used that opportunity to lower myself.
"Attends-moi, Mademoiselle Swan! Aah!" shouted Edward. I moved my head heavenward, but he wasn't there. Instead, there was a loud splash below.
A few expletives escaped from my mouth before I plunged into the chilly water.
I imprecated again. The undercurrent was powerful and hard to oppose. Nevertheless, I tried. Mixed emotions were all inside of me, and it was what kept me moving. At first, anger to Edward for being so reckless. And second, desperation when I was finding it arduous to locate him. Where did he go?
Believe it or not, it was his extraordinary hair that saved his life. The sun caught the butter-colored and trunk-tinted strands which stood out in the sea of blue and I swam towards him.
"Edward!" I managed to gasp. He was thrashing in the water and seemed to be unable to move.
"Help! My foot!" he choked out. Without thinking, I dived underwater. It was dark and my eyes couldn't identify a thing. So I used his legs to get to his feet. Embarrassment flies out of the window when your life is at risk. My hands patted around his ankle and I felt his whole left foot sandwiched between two rocks. I lifted the rocks and nearly ran out oxygen in doing so. Just as I was going up for air, a branch drifting hit my back and the small bubble of air escaped my mouth.
I wanted to go up and inhale the fresh air, but the distance suddenly looked so far. Consciousness was slipping from my fingers like sand. I had no potency left to fight the sudden urge to close my eyes, and my lungs hurt. Welcoming the darkness was my sole deliverance.
Exhausted. After everything, that was what registered in my mind. My body throbbed and I could almost hear my heartbeats like my heart was held out just beside my ears. I felt water leaving my respiratory organ and started coughing. For a moment, I remembered my mother. What was she doing at the moment? Was she still too ill to worry for me? Or she might be frantically trying to wait for me in the farmhouse?
Lips over my own befuddled my thoughts. I had been feeling it for quite a while, but at the moment, the gesture was purely sweet and intentional, and not just to save my life.
Edward's face jumped into my mind and I slowly opened my eyes. He was there, waiting for me to wake up, no doubt. His facial expression was familiar. It was like I'd seen that expression before. Ah, yes, his worried expression earlier when he'd thought I was captured. The eyes that I started to admire were staring at me with so much concern and attention. I feared I might get lost staring at him all day ...
My eyes wandered involuntarily around my surroundings. We were back to the forest. The trees were shining because of their leaves against the sunlight. Stray animals made sounds somewhere. My brows furrowed as I thought of why we were at that place again.
"We are at the other side now," Edward explained slowly and gently. He backed away and rested against the same tree trunk where I was currently leaning to. "You did not tell me your white stallion could jump at great distances. It would've probably saved us from a lot of trouble."
I turned and saw my horse nibbling on some plant. "Yes," I croaked. I gulped and cleared my throat to take it away. "It was trained. Though, I have forgotten that, we still seemed to make it back here alive." I smiled and closed my eyes, thinking about my mother and my friends.
A hand was touching my shoulder. I snapped my eyes open. "Are you fooling me, Isabella?" He dropped the formality between us which did not bother me in the slightest. He looked pained. "You almost died, and it was my fault." Edward's face darkened.
"No. Everything was an accident." I tried to say it firmly, but my voice was as weak as my body. With a jolt, our current situation was somehow identical to what we had yesterday. Only on different perspectives. "Edward, we have to continue."
It was now his eyebrows that furrowed. "But you're still frail and spent," he reasoned. "I will not travel if you're still unable to."
"I could use my horse," I demanded softly. "The sooner we get back home, the better. I want to see my mother." I showed concern for my only living relative for the first time.
Sure enough, he understood me. After setting up his gears and the horse, he lifted me off the ground as if I weighed lesser than what I really was. Edward Masen placed me above my steed, and I massaged the animal's head for comfort. Five seconds had only passed and the world was suddenly spinning. Edward's arms clutched my weakened body before I hit the floor. He gave me a disapproving look, while I returned it with a small, somewhat innocent smile.
Edward decided to ride with me. He hoisted himself up behind me and grabbed the reins from my hands. The position was too uncomfortable for us, and so, I was told to sit one-sidedly. I had no will to refuse it. And I didn't care in the least way.
Edward started the journey and the staccato movement was making me queasy. I put my arms around his torso and rested my head on his chest.
"Is this all right?" I asked quietly with a tired sigh.
"Of course," he assured in a tone almost as low as mine. I could hear and feel his heart hammering inside his chest. A question popped in my head.
"Why did you kiss me earlier, Edward?" I mumbled, closing my eyes. Fatigue was winning at the moment.
I wasn't sure if Edward replied or not, and I was not sure if this sentence was true or not, but here it was, anyway. "Because I might not have a chance to do it."
My body rested more than usual. That was what I knew. I was lying on my back, unlike my last memory of succumbing to sleep with Edward and me on my horse. It was peaceful and quiet, just like home. And at a distance, I thought I could hear my mère talking.
"She is coming around!" I heard Alice's voice right next to me. Opening my eyes at once, I did a quick scan of the room to see if I was really home. The bed. The chairs. The furniture. Alice. Rosalie. My mère.
"Mama! Alice! Rosalie!" I gasped, settling on a sitting position. "You're here! I am back here. At home."
"Yes, Isabella, you finally are." Mama smiled. Her smiling eyes, which had ceased to exist whilst she was lifeless with malady, glistened with saltwater. "You worried me to death, ma fille," she cried, coming over to stroke my hair.
I felt at ease when I realized I was safe. There would be no guards to chase both Edward and me. Then again, any mention of him alerted me to my senses. "Where is he? Where is Edward?"
The three of them looked confused. It took Rosalie a few moments to reply to my distraught inquiry.
"Do you mean your abductor?" she asked with a flip of her golden hair. "He is detained in the broom cupboard. You know, he almost had you delivered to his men. Emmett said he was spotted at the market with you. Luckily, the men arrived this morning, and they got him and brought you here safely. Isabella, where are you heading?"
"You are all mistaken. He is not my abductor. He helped me. Let me be!" I complained when they crowded around me. Despite their complaints that I stay in bed, I twisted around them and ran–or staggered, since I was still weak–downstairs to see him.
Women and children were scattered along he corridors. I had no chance to see their faces. Either they were shock to see me sprinting or happy to see me alive, I knew nothing. Before I find him, though, I must chide the men, I thought grimly. The rest of the men who were out when I had started my journey were at the sitting room, discussing in hushed tones. They were all startled when they saw my grave countenance.
"Isabella, you are awake!" Michael's cheery greeting did nothing to change my mood. "You are as lovely as I last saw you. Your beauty never fades."
Not blessing him any attention, I turned to Emmett and Jasper. "What did you do to Edward?" I inquired coldly.
"Now, now, mon chèrie, there is no need for panic," Ericson interceded, placing a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off, too angry to let anyone touch me. "I assure you he is locked up and guarded and will never see the sun–" He was cut off by my shrill voice.
"Panic? I doubt my being terrified has something to do with what Edward did to me. He helped me, monsieur," I answered, my tone rising. "The least I can do is to help him get out of France because now, he is a criminel just like me!" I looked at their eyes and saw guilt creeping on it.
"He tried to tell us that," Jasper said, slightly mortified. "Of course, we didn't believe him. He was wearing an officer's uniform! But, on behalf of the men in this room, I suppose we apologize to you."
I looked at him. "Do not ask for my apology. Beg forgiveness to him." I stalked out of the room and made my way to the broom cupboard.
In my state earlier, I failed to notice the outside world. Dusk settled and it was raining again. For the second time, I was reminded of the time I spent yesterday night with Edward.
Once I turned on the hallway, I spotted two gentlemen guarding the door and I scoffed. They greeted me and I told them about the true story, about Edward's innocence. Both were unconvinced.
"But, mademoiselle," Jared started. "A while ago, he was screaming to get out. Hollering your name a lot of times, I daresay. Paul and I agreed he must really want you captured, so you are probably mistaken."
I sighed and it was one of irritation. "At least, trust me. Don't you believe what I am saying?" The two exchanged uncomfortable glances. What I had done for them was enough for them to stop doubting. Muttering apologies, they bustled out of the corridor.
I turned the knob–apparently, we did not have cages to hold prisoners; I was suddenly grateful we didn't, though–and opened the door slightly.
The light coming from the hallway provided incandescence to the small room. He was sitting on the farthest corner fast asleep. He must be so tired after getting the both of us here safely.
It must be lucky for us–well, not so much for him–that he happened to be venturing in the market. My people were usually there, gathering news or searching for people on our side. They wanted to enlarge our group, so we could find a chance to stand against the administration. Last thing I heard, they were planning to convince some part of the guards to join the party, so they could defeat Robespierre easily.
I didn't like the entire plan, and I was determined not to let more people get hurt.
I sat down in front of Edward, watching him. His placid face made me forget my problems. That unruly hair that saved his life earlier was so chaotic I had to smile a little bit. A few strands fell over his eyelids. Reaching over to brush it off, my heart skipped a beat when a pale hand encircled my wrist securely.
Those eyelids opened, revealing his eyes that were black in the muted light. I met his gaze evenly and felt his hold on my wrist loosen.
"Isabella, I thought you were one of them," he whispered. "How are you faring?"
"I am doing well." He looked so enervated. I was worried for him. Raising my left hand, I swept the hair out of his eyes. "But in my opinion, you are not. Come, and I'll lead you somewhere more comfortable. I can tell you want to rest." Without thinking, I leaned in and placed my lips on his forehead. I blushed slightly at my impetuous action, and pulled him up with me avoiding his eyes.
We both wobbled out of the cupboard. While walking, Jane, an eight-year-old orphan, informed us that dinner was served. Feeling famished, we both decided to have a meal first before settling to bed.
A glance at his filthy clothes suggested I had to provide one for him. My dress had probably been changed while I was asleep by Alice, Rosalie and my mère. I steered him to someone's room and grabbed some pieces of clothing for him.
Once dressed, I led him to the dining area. It consisted of a long table and a dozen or so chairs. Almost every chair was occupied. The women were chatting with each other and the men were either talking or waiting for the others to settle down. There was a hush once we entered. I felt Edward hesitating.
"Everyone eats together, so excusing yourself is out of question," I told him. We sat both sat together. My reason was that, they might hurt him or what. Mama was already sitting and she gave me a wink before resuming her conversation with Alice.
Confounded with the gesture, my eyes scanned the table, a habit I'd done to see if everyone was still there. Almost everybody's eyes were trained on the man seated beside me. There was giggling from the women such as Jessica and Laurent, and glaring from men like Michael and Tyler. Nevertheless, I remained silent and waited for the rest.
It was not long before Jasper and Emmett appeared with solemn faces. Their expressions bothered me. They went to the gentlemen in the room and whispered some words that had the men standing and striding out of the room.
I stood up, as well as Edward. I could feel the children and the women staring at us in confusion. "My dears, this is nothing. I suggest you start your meal without us." I announced with a reassuring smile. After meeting Rosalie, Alice and Mama's eyes as if to say "stay on your seats," I exited the room.
"What is wrong?" I immediately asked Emmett once outside the room.
"We are expecting a combat here," he said gravely, glimpsing at me and Edward. "Apparently, someone unwanted saw the two of you at the market."
There was a murmur among them as they calculated the number of enemies, their weapons, and etcetera. Must we really have to fight? It seemed unavoidable in this world. My mind started reeling with ways to escape. I had prepared a place near the Normandy Coast in case a scenario like this was to happen. But we might not make it in time to escape.
"You need to flee." Edward's voice rang behind me. We all turned to look at him. He wore a serious and determined expression. "Avoid traveling in the forest again, Isabella." He rested his eyes on me. "They know you would escape there again, and I know they tend to concentrate on one area at a time, so it's safe to use the roads."
"Hold a second, soldat," Michael said. "What is the meaning of that? You might just be endangering their lives."
Edward faced the men. The intensity of his stare was staggering. "I would never do that. I worked under commandant for a long time and I know his strategy by heart. I could be a great use to you."
They fell silent as they considered Edward's offer. They weighed their decisions based on the amount of trust I'd given him, no doubt. When I realized Edward would be left here to fight while I led the others away, there was a twinge in my chest. Being away from Edward, even though we had only known each other for a while, was something I couldn't bear thinking and doing.
"It might be for the best," Jasper said slowly, and in his military voice, he ordered, "All right, we must move fast. Emmett will explain to our companions our condition in the calmest way possible to prevent panic." He looked at Emmett for affirmation.
Agreements and preparations were made and the gentlemen moved to do their assignments. Edward was asked to collaborate, and he was about to join Jasper when I excused him.
I paid no heed to his inquisitive stare. I told him to follow me, and we went out into the pouring rain.
Care for my clothes or what illness might touch me was the furthest thing from my mind. Edward followed me in the rain. When asked where we were we headed, all I could give him was silence.
"Isabella, you must not waste time," Edward chastised. Instead of offering a rebuttal, I ran inside the shed located at the west side of the farm.
The shed was small, bare, and had no door. The farming tools were missing and I briefly remembered Zafrina asking permission to clear the contents of the place.
I turned to face Edward who was soaking wet because of me. When I look at him, I had that painful feeling that I might not be seeing him again.
"I thought you said you will leave France once we get here?" I accused, relieved to find that I remembered the promise he made of leaving before.
His eyes tightened. "Things have changed, Isabella. That plan has been terminated. I see myself needed here, so I shall stay."
"But," I started, feeling a sudden urge to cry, "you might get killed doing this. Is that what you want?" I whispered the last part. Death. That was the cause and effect of all of these. Death was the only thing we were helpless under.
Edward's eyes lowered to the ground. "I have no one anymore, so it doesn't matter. If I get killed, well, nobody would care, am I right? I might prove to be useful to society. Besides, I might finally have the chance to see my parents." He actually smiled bitterly after his depressing speech.
"No!" I shouted. The tears were falling from my eyes faster than the raindrops falling from my hair. Conversing about someone's death was not a subject I like. And when it was Edward's demise ... I shook my head, as if it could erase the horrifying image of him, lifeless and unresponsive. "I cannot understand it," I gasped. "But losing you is something I cannot bear."
His eyes burned like fire. It was not of anger, but of something I hadn't seen someone wore apart from Papa whenever he had been around Mama. That whimsical smile appeared. "To hear you say that." He sighed, the smile fading. Edward took a precautious step toward me. "I do not want to lose you either," he murmured, raising his hand to touch my face. He hesitated when I involuntarily closed my eyes. He sighed again. "That is why I have to protect you. Now, I want you–to keep you, I mean–alive."
Heart palpitating. Hands becoming cold. An abrupt unexplainable thrill running down my backbone. They were enough to say that my feelings for Edward were exceedingly different from the others. I could not say if it was more powerful than a child's love for her mère and père. I backtracked. Is that what I have for him? Love? I had to agree that it was too early to determine that.
"You are forgetting that I am Isabella Swan," I whispered, unconsciously taking a step toward him. "Being with me means getting killed. I've already went through a lot of trouble keeping my mère and my amis well."
He, too, took a step forward. "Your father came to the townsfolk's aid, even though he has a wife and a daughter. It is because he knew he could protect you." He placed a hand over my cheek.
I placed my hand over his that was caressing my cheek. "That is the problem," I argued. "I do not know if I could protect you." I wept.
"Shh, Isabella." Edward encircled his arms around me and I rested mine around his torso. "I told you before I detest people crying. Especially if it is you." I sensed something touch my hair.
There was a new perception now when we were touching. The shed was barely lighted by the moonlight. We felt hidden from our friends and enemies. The freedom emancipated a sensation inside me.
I twisted my head and a lightning was enough for me to see his face. It seemed content just holding me, and I would treasure that image of him when we would part. Probably for the last time in my life, I wanted to feel the lips of the man I possibly loved against my own.
Tiptoeing, I placed my lips gently on his. I could tell the action took him by surprise, and even I was startled at the hastiness of my actions. I was suddenly afraid I had miscalculated his feelings for me.
But the feelings were mutual. He responded with just the amount of passion that told me he cared for me. That he wanted the idea of the two of us together. It roused something inside me and I entangled my arms from his waist only to place both a hand to his chest and an arm around his neck. He placed his hands lightly on my waist.
Our mouths became desperate when we heard a call from the house. My arms were now both wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer to me, afraid to let him go. He knew what I was feeling, and maybe, he was feeling it, too. I felt one of his hands go to my neck, pulling me and deepening the kiss.
My knees were starting to weaken with the newfound connection, but I was determined not to let go. Edward seemed to read my thoughts. He moved the both of us forward until the wooden wall was on my back and we both found some support. We shared a long, fervid kiss. My hands running over his unruly, damp hair, his running over my body. Whenever my lips were freed, I would whisper his name, and his were either on my throat or my face. We barely noticed the calls getting clearer and louder.
When I realized we couldn't hold onto the moment forever, I pulled away. The room was silent apart from our disjointed breathing.
Within the echo of our names, he whispered, "I will be with you after this. We will spend the rest of our lives together. But for now, I have to protect you, s'il vous plaît." He gave me one last kiss before he strode out into the night.
I stared at his retreating form, my heart still pounding in my chest. A tear escaped my eye. There would be no assurance if we would still be together after this.
I knew it was wrong to fall in love in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or even to meet someone who I found endearing and charming.
But I still did, and I had no regrets.