"Things got better after I found Emmett but we'll always be this." I listened to Roaslie, my heart broke for her history and I felt sorry for her not being able to have the life she wanted.
I was going to tell her I loved Edward, that loving him would always be enough for me, that I would never want anything more than I wanted to be with him, instead what came out was something different. "If you hadn't been this, you'd never have loved him. There would be no porch or grandchildren, not because you would have died on that street without Carlisle but because Em wasn't born yet. Being what you are, gave you him."
She made a sound like a sad huff of air, "The consolation prize."
"If that's all Emmett is to you, then you don't deserve him. Alice would choose to be what she is for Jasper, just like I'm choosing it for Edward. Love is worth the sacrifices, my family, my friends even my humanity. I'd do anything to be with him." I worried I had over stepped but her expression wasn't angry as she turned to me, instead she had an almost sad smile.
"Maybe I don't but then Edward doesn't deserve you, doesn't love you the same, does he?"
"Edward doesn't want to live without me either."
"He doesn't want you to be one of us though does he?" She responded softly. "I changed Emmett, it was selfish. Jasper wouldn't have thought twice about turning Alice. None of them have thought twice about turning you except him."
I nodded feeling oddly numb. "Do you think you can forgive me for this choice?"
Rosalie shrugged, "I don't approve but it is your choice, even if you are choosing wrong. The question is, will Edward?"
"Did you forgive yourself for changing Emmett?"
"No and I haven't forgiven Carlisle for either of us, even if I did ask him with Emmett. I love him, I love this family but I can't forgive that."
We stood in silence looking out over the stars for a little while until Carlisle stepped out onto the porch.
"The others have gone hunting." He nodded at them both, "Rosalie." He spoke to her in a quick blur of vampire speed and she nodded.
"I wish you'd reconsider but since you wont, I'll try to get over it being your choice." She told me before disappearing into the night.
Carlisle sighed, "Would you like to talk about that?"
"What she said."
"You heard?" He nodded. "Edward?"
"They left while she was telling her story. No doubt he'd have stopped her had he heard her go on."
Bella nodded and turned back to the stars, "Did you know?"
"Yes." Carlisle moved to stand near me, "I know Rosalie loves this family. There is nothing more important to her than all of us and she does love Emmett, very much."
"Do you blame yourself?"
"I thought I was helping her. I was wrong. I'm sorry for how she's suffered. I questioned changing another a very long time before Edward and I questioned the choice to change all of them for a very long time. It is because of Rosalie I have never changed another. Emmett was an exception I felt I owed to her and he is the one who has embraced this life fully, from the moment he woke up he didn't just make the most of what he'd become, he was happy as I believe you will be."
"Wasn't Esme happy?" I knew what Edward thought of himself but I wondered if he blamed Carlisle for turning him into the soulless monster he thought he was.
"No." He sighed. "Esme was very broken for a long time. I think, much like Rosalie, she hasn't quite forgiven me for stealing her death from her."
"She has you." I hadn't meant for it to be said aloud but the whisper still escaped.
"A small consolation. She has made the most of this life and loves our family and for lack of better word, her children."
"You aren't a consolation Carlisle, you're, you're," I turned to face him, not even sure what I was trying to say as I met his topaz eyes, "You deserve everything. So does Emmett. I can't believe Esme and Rosalie don't see that. How can they not, be so, grateful, everyday, every minute they have with you?"
He gave me a soft, almost sad smile, and I felt one of his cool fingers trace down my cheek, "Thank you."
We stood like that, looking in each others eyes a moment before turning back to the porch rail and looking up at the stars.
After a long while, the words in my head came out in a whisper, no matter how much I didn't want them to, "Do you think Edward would really have let me age, or get sick, would he ever have wanted me forever, if we hadn't forced it on him?"
"He loves you."
"Rosalie loves Emmett and Esme loves you, it doesn't answer the question though, does it?"
"No." He whispered back, "I suppose it doesn't."
Silence fell again and this time it lasted until Edward returned Emmett.
"Carlisle?" He questioned, no doubt his concern coming from whatever thoughts ran through the older man's head.
Carlisle shook his head, "Goodnight Isabella." He said to me before disappearing into the house.
"Later Bells." Emmett sent me a smile, though it wasn't as full as his usual grin.
"Everything ok?" Edward asked me as he led me to his Volvo.
"Is it Rosalie's story? I know its very upsetting. She should have spared you some of the details."
"Why?" I questioned with a frown, "I hardly need to be protected from the reality of the world being a harsh place."
Edward just sighed and opened the passenger door for me, "Is your hand hurting?" He changed the subject.
"My hand is fine." It felt like a long time since I had hit Jacob when in reality it had only been a few hours before.
The car was silent as he drove and I looked out the window contemplating the things I'd learned tonight.
Over the days that passed, I felt, melancholy, for lack of a better description. I couldn't get my conversation with Rosalie out of my head, or the one with Carlisle for that matter.
I didn't realize the thoughts might be affecting my decisions until Alice showed up at my house, she was sitting at my desk chair in my room looking sad.
"I don't remember who I was before this." She told me meeting my eyes.
I frowned at her, "Alice?"
"I know, or I think I know, nothing could make me choose anything but Jasper. He'd choose me too."
"We'd choose you, for our sister, both of us." Jasper's voice startled me as he came in the window. "Darlin." He nodded at Alice. "Did you think them emotions wouldn't concern me enough to follow you?"
She smiled at him, "I love you."
They seemed to share a moment, something so beautiful passing between them before they both turned back to me.
I was blushing as much from the moment I'd witnessed as Jasper's words.
"He's right Bella, we both choose you, so does Emmett."
I nodded, "The others choose me because Edward chose death without me." It was part statement and part question.
"You know why Rose said no." Alice gave me a sad smile, "It's nothing to do with you at all really and I think Esme would have said no as well, if not for Edward."
"If you didn't want it, he wouldn't change you, regardless of Edward." Jasper spoke up again. "He hates going against Edward but chooses that because he refuses to live without you. Carlisle will protect us from anything in his power to."
"You do want it though." Alice smiled at me.
"He wouldn't agree if Edward hadn't gone to Volterra."
"Not against Rosalie, Esme and Edward." Jasper agreed with a nod.
"We tried." Alice sighed with a sad look to Jasper.
I swallowed and locked my lips, "I guess there's no point dissecting what would or could have been different."
"Isn't there?" Alice questioned me with a tilted head.
"No." I tried to make my voice sound firm. "Edward went to Volterra and I have to be changed." I looked from one to the other before focusing on Jasper, "What?"
He gave me a sad half smile, "I'm sorry for how well you'll fit in with the family." He told me with a nod.
"I should go hunt. Ali?"
"I'm alright, you go." She smiled at him and he nodded before disappearing out the window.
Her eyes were brimming with venom as she looked at me, "He can feel everything Bella."
"Even the things you don't want to know you feel."
"Esme and Rosalie, they'll never be completely happy. Under the surface, under everything, there's always sadness and some anger. Esme even more than Rose."
"She loves Carlisle and all of us, but under it all, she also hates him. So does Rosalie, but she's with Emmett and between them there is just regret, with Esme there's also a bitterness between her and Carlisle, I think that its more than she can't forgive him, I think part of her also hates that she loves Carlisle."
"What does that have to do with me?"
"Under all that love, buried in your fear of losing us all again, you hate Edward for leaving, you're angry and hurt and buried in with that is a bitterness that even still Edward doesn't want to change you."
"Maybe." I sighed with a nod, tears in my eyes to mirror the venom in hers.
"You're going to be a vampire. I've seen it. What I see keeps changing though."
"Sometimes you're with Edward and its like you are forcing yourself to believe how happy you are."
"Other times?" I forced myself to ask.
"Other times you're with the family and not with Edward."
"Which is worse?" I hold my breath as I wait for her answer. It didn't hit me until later that I didn't seem to consider either possibility to be good.
"I don't know." She admits sadly. "If I could, I'd push you towards the other future."
"The one I can't really see." She admits. "Sometimes its with us but blurry only I can hear you laughing and happy. Sometimes I can't see anything but you smiling and greeting me like we hadn't seen each other in a while. I don't know anything else about either one."
"I'm happy in them?"
"You think I'm happy without Edward?"
"I think you love him, I know you love him. Jasper can feel that under current in you, so deep that it doesn't reach your surface at all but steadily, if glacially slow, it's growing. The bitterness, the pain, the anger and one day it will be hate so maybe in your mind you'll be revisiting that porch with Rosalie and wishing you'd understood then. Maybe you wont have chosen Edward over all the things you'll have had to give up, to watch mourn you the people you know who have grown old and died. Maybe you'll hate us all for not voting no with Rosalie."
"I'd never hate you Alice."
She shook her head, "You'd never want to. Esme doesn't want to hate Carlisle but she does, same with Rosalie. No matter how much they love him, they can't forgive him."
"I wish I knew what to say." She smiled sadly at me. "The only part of your future, not changing, is that you will change. As much as I wish I could get a clearer vision I'd advise not making any other decisions about your future. Let time guide you. You'll have forever to figure it all out."
I nodded at her as a tear fell. Alice smiled grimly again and disappeared out the window. I moved to the rocking chair and reverted to my melancholy while I thought. I knew she was right and I didn't need to make any decisions, not concrete ones but I couldn't ignore any of the questions and fears I had.
Graduation brought with it many changes and not the ones I had been expecting. My conversation with Rosalie had brought forth a lot of things, truths none of us wanted to face.
It was the night before graduation that things came to a head. Carlisle called a family meeting, to which I was invited, it made me feel so good to be part of their family, a real part of them all, at least it did until the meeting left everything crumbled at my feet.
"I've called you all here…"
"No!" Edward hissed, interrupting him.
"Edward?" I questioned, partly admonishing him for the interruption.
"Carlisle." He growled.
Carlisle lifted a hand to quiet him, "It's done." He told him, his voice hard. Edward just glared at him while Carlisle turned back to the rest of us, "Esme and I have been talking a lot and I've, well we've decided its best for us if we parted ways."
"What?" I wasn't the only one with a shocked response but while mine was a shocked whisper, the others were mostly louder in their reactions.
Carlisle quieted us, "We are all still a family, Esme and I being divorced will not change that. We've all lived apart at times, this while being more permanent, does not mean we don't love each other or all of you, we are still a family, we just aren't a complete coven anymore."
"You can't abandon her." Emmett hissed.
"I'm not." Carlisle met his eyes, "I'm setting her free."
"Carlisle." Esme's hesitant voice was quiet and unsure.
"Esme." His was as sure and final as it had been while speaking to us and it was clear they had talked a lot about all of this as she gave him a sad smile and nodded.
"I'm going to live in Denali for a little while." She told us, "Her eyes not leaving his.
"I'm coming with you." Rosalie told her.
"Not that we are turning our backs on you Carlisle but Rosie is right, Esme needs us."
"I'm quite alright Emmett." Esme turned to him with a maternal smile, "I think time apart from every one is actually just what I need."
Emmett nodded, "Rosie and I can stay close in case then."
"No Emmett." Rosalie whispered turning to meet his eyes, "I'm going with her." He shook his head with a frown. Her eyes filled with venom as she whispered, "I'm leaving you."
Nothing was said for a long time. "I'm sorry." She finally spoke again. "I love you." She licked her lips, "I just can't love you the way you deserve."
"You do Rosie." He contradicted.
Her head was shaking before the words were out of his mouth, "I don't, I wouldn't choose this for you, changing you was selfish because I would have hated you for doing that to me."
"I know. I'm glad." She smiled at him but it fell as more venom coated her eyes, "It's not about you Em, you have always been so much to me, you made this life better for me." She shook her head, "You just haven't made me want this life. I love you but not enough to want to choose this life. You should be with someone who wants nothing but you. You deserve that."
"I deserve that to, not just to be with someone who loves me like that but to love someone like that."
The room fell quiet as they looked deep into each others eyes for a moment before Emmett got up, his chair slamming back as he disappeared from the room.
"We should go." Esme spoke up softly after a moment of silence.
"Wait." I stopped them as Esme stood.
"Bella." She smiled at me and I looked up into her gold eyes.
I shook my head stopping what she'd say next as I turned to Edward. I could feel the hole in my chest opening as I met his eyes, "I think you should go with them." I forced out, nearly choking on the words.
"Bella?" He questioned frowning at me, his eyes going from mine to my forehead as though he were tryng to bore a hole into my mind and see what was going on there.
"I love you." I caught his attention, calling his eyes back to mine, as I sobbed out the words. "I made the choice, for you," I swallowed the lump in my throat, "And this family." I sniffled forcing myself to go on, "You'd never choose it for me though."
"I deserve someone who wants me forever."
"I love you. I want you forever. You know I wont be parted from you Bella. I just don't want you to lose your soul for me."
I licked my lips and finally admitted, to him and to myself, "I hate you for leaving." I sniffled and wiped at the tears, "I hate you for making me so afraid of losing you that I feel like I'll die without you. I hate that I love you and I…" even as the truth came to me I could feel my heart breaking into a million shards, "I wish that I didn't love you, that I could make myself love Jacob, or love anyone but you. I wont though, not as long as I have you with me. Please set me free. Let me heal. Let me not love you." I took a pain filled breath, "Go with Esme."
He gave a curt nod, his eyes dark and swirling with pain. None of them said anything else as the three of them left the room. The last to leave Rosalie turned back to me with the barest of smiles and a nod before disappearing.
"You two?" Carlisle turned to Alice and Jasper.
Alice shook her head as she took Jasper's hand. I saw him squeeze it before speaking softly, "I think it may be best if we gave you some space to heal."
"Jasper's going to call Peter, we'll meet them in New Orleans." She turned to me with a smile, "We'll talk every day."
I nodded to her as fresh tears fell, "I'm going to miss you."
"Me too." She told me with venom coated eyes.
"If you need help." He was speaking to Carlisle but nodded at me.
"I have done this before." He reminded Jasper.
"You'll still change me?" I asked him, a little surprised.
Carlisle nodded but it was Jasper to speak, "We voted," he gave a weak smile, "Besides, it's been decreed by the Volturi."
"They'll be coming to check." Alice informed us, "Soon."
"How soon?" I felt my heart quicken with fear.
"They're coming about Victoria."
"Victoria." I'd forgotten about her and the new born army.
"I called them about it." Jasper admitted.
"You already made your decision and whatever Edward thinks, he and this family aren't equipped to deal with this alone, they aren't trained." Jasper's voice was uncompromising and commanding. It made me see him in a new light. He sighed as he met my eyes. "I have some experience in the matter." He told me before launching into his history. At its close I got up from the table and hugged him.
It took me a moment to remember myself and I stepped back blushing, "I'm sorry Jasper, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Jasper grinned at me and chuckled before hugging me and kissing my temple, "It's ok." He gave me a rueful smile, "I will be really glad when next time we meet I wont want to kill you."
I chuckled and nodded, "Me too."
Alice hugged me next and whispered in my ear though everyone would hear as clearly as she'd spoken louder. "You're going to be so beautiful. Take care of them, let them take care of you."
"I will." I whispered back.
"We'll be together again." She promised. "All of us." I nodded, relieved, I'd never bet against the pixie.
They said more in vampire speed to Carlisle and Emmett before hugging them both and disappearing.
"I should take you home." Carlisle offered.
"I'll do it." Emmett stood up and I nodded.
He helped me into his monster jeep and buckled me in.
It was silent as he drove and when he parked in front of my house, we continued to sit there. "I'm sorry Emmett." I whispered, still looking out the window.
"I tried to make her happy."
"I don't know who I am if I'm not the man who loves her."
I turned to him with a sad smile, "You're still you Bear. I'm still me." My voice cracked but I continued, "We're all still us and we'll all heal, even if it takes forever."
He nodded and squeezed my hand before disappearing out the truck, my door opening about the same moment I registered he wasn't in the drivers seat. He unbuckled me and lifted me out of the truck, carefully setting me on the ground.
"Night Tinkerbella." He gave me a grim smile.
"Night Bear." I whispered back as a breeze signified his movement back to the drivers side of the jeep.
Inside I crept past the sleeping Charlie in his recliner and trudged up to bed where I could cry myself to sleep. I lay on my bed as thoughts repeated themselves in my mind as I sobbed.
I asked Edward to leave.
Carlisle is divorcing Esme.
Rosalie left Emmett.
I asked Edward to leave.
The Volturi were coming to check if I still had a heartbeat.
Alice and Jasper left.
Esme, Rosalie and Edward were gone.
Carlisle is divorcing Esme.
Rosalie left Emmett.
I asked Edward to leave.
I told Edward to leave me.
It was over. I was going to be a vampire. I wasn't getting my happily ever after. Not with Edward and not with his perfect family.
There was no more perfect family.
Carlisle was divorcing Esme.
Rosalie left Emmett.
I asked Edward to leave.
At breakfast dad asked if I'd be going to the school with the Cullen's since we had to be there early.
I explained to him that they'd left. That I'd broken up with Edward. I wasn't sure what the explanation would be about the others so I just told him Esme took him away early because he was so upset.
Charlie was shocked and did his best to hide how happy he was.
Jacob didn't hide it at all.
"I didn't do it for you Jacob."
"You still left him." Jake grinned. "You'll stay you and in time, you'll see, I'm perfect for you."
"I don't love you like that Jake." I sighed, "I do love you but not like that and anyways, I'm still going to be changed."
That was not the right thing to say as he began to shake, "Why?" He demanded.
"I told you, I have to, the Volturi wont just kill me if they come here and see I still have a heart beat."
"We can protect you."
"Maybe against a nomad or two Jake but not against all their army, their gifts."
"No." I shook my head, adamant.
"If one of them bites you, they break the treaty, bites not kills." He spat.
"Jacob." I sighed.
He took off into the woods.
Concerned about his words I headed to see Sam as soon as my dad and I got home from our celebratory dinner. He was happy to go watch game and smiled to himself when I asked to go to the reservation, not having seen the argument I was sure he thought I was going to see Jake, I didn't correct him.
I talked with Sam a long time and in the end we also sat down with the elders, with Sam on my side they agreed though Billy was not happy about it and Old Quil seemed to hate me instantly as he banned me from the reservation from that point on, I'd have to abide by the treaty now to, to them I was as good as a vampire now. All I cared about was that the Cullen's were safe. Since it was my choice, they could change me, treaty in tact.
I said goodbye to the pack, hugging Seth extra tight and rolling my eyes at the glares I got from Paul and Leah. They all, well all but Paul and Leah, wished me well as I did them. Jacob wasn't there. He'd phased and taken off. I hoped he was ok.
"Tell him," I sighed, "Tell him I'm sorry and I love him, and goodbye." I asked Quil and Embry. It was Sam who nodded though.
That night I packed all of my things and in the morning I said goodbye to Charlie. I cried as I hugged him.
"Have a good summer." He said gruffly. "Call me and check in."
"I will dad."
"I'll see you in the fall then, you'll stop back on your way up to Alaska?"
"I will." I nodded knowing it was a lie. For him, I'd be dead then. I hugged him again and got in my truck to drive to the Cullen's. I'd told everyone Alice and I were taking a road trip for the summer before starting at Alaska State together.
In light of the divorce Carlisle was moving, it was rumored Esme had left him and he was devastated and moving away to a big city to be busy and forget after all it had been Esme who hated the city. The kids were all gone off to college so no one questioned them all leaving town. No one would link them to anything funny when I died in a freak accident. Alice would come back from the funeral, devastated that when we'd gone separate ways for a few days, I'd died. After the funeral she'd leave to be with family and grieve until college.
It was all planned and outlined by Alice, her vision saying everything would go without problems. I parked my truck in the drive and climbed out. Carlisle hugged me and I burst into tears.