Edward is unable to save Bella like he did at the end of Twilight. He has to resort to "other" means. This starts with him arriving at the ballet studio.
Thanks so much to Project Team Beta, especially izzzyy and Bookgeek80, for betaing this Chapter.
This was written for the "I Can't Believe It's Not Canon" Contest.
I do not own any of these characters, or the original plot to the Twilight Series. Everything publicly recognizable belongs to their owners. I am doing this only for the pleasure I gain from writing and I am not associated with anyone or anything to do with the Twilight Series. There is no financial benefit, whatsoever, though I may wish there were.
The smell of Freesias permeated the air as Edward burst through the door into the dark vestibule of the ballet studio. Led by the overpowering scent, he rushed into the room that held his love, his life.
"No," he screamed, his voice echoing throughout the cavern-like room. "No, Bella! No!"
The blonde-haired vampire, the fiend who'd concocted this plan to steal his love's life, the loathsome James, was crouched over the body of a petite brown-haired girl, his Bella. At the sound of Edward's yell, James turned his dirty head to face him. James' blood-covered lips pulled into a devious smile, his eyes a sickening, vivid shade of crimson. Edward's heart fell. Only a recent feeding of human blood would have provided that bright shade of red. He could still smell Bella's freshly spilled blood scattered in pools spread throughout the room.
How much blood had she lost?
In the back of his mind, he noticed a faint thumping noise, but he paid no heed. His sole focus for now was to remove this monster from Bella. Once she was away from his clutches, he could assess the situation and save her. He refused to believe that she wouldn't come out of this alive, though he knew what the consequence of that outcome would be—a one-way trip to Italy. He had already decided his fate if he lost Bella on the trip to this dreadful dance studio.
The Arizona sun had been unforgiving when Edward had arrived at the airport. As soon as they'd taxied to the gate, both his siblings' internal voices had alerted him to the situation at hand. Bella had gone missing. She'd somehow escaped the ever watchful eyes of Alice and Jasper. Edward didn't understand how that could have come to pass, but it obviously had. The frantic hum of their thoughts could only mean that she was gone.
He'd wanted to rip his way from the plane, to find his sister and learn Bella's destination, and to race against time to stop his love from whatever foolhardy plan she'd come up with. He knew Bella could be resourceful when she wanted; she would reach her final destination without his intervention. Of course, his resolve had not taken into account the hulking vampire sitting on his left or the compassionate father-figure to his right.
Emmett, Edward's brother, had placed his hand on Edward's shoulder, securing him in place, much like he'd done in a Spanish class so many miles away and what seemed like a million years ago. Carlisle had acknowledged the scene with one statement.
"Stay calm, son."
As soon as the seat belt sign had turned off, Edward had raced from the plane.
He'd flown past the baggage claim as fast as he could without drawing too much attention, though all he had thought about was stopping Bella. Emmett and Carlisle had been able to help him slow himself, as he was barely clinging to sanity and the human façade. They hadn't known; they hadn't understood the gravity of the situation.
Edward had seen more of Alice's thoughts. Bella had been going to sacrifice herself as a result of some overinflated sense of duty. Duty to whom, he hadn't known, and he hadn't had the time to care. All he had allowed himself to focus on was finding and saving her.
When he had finally stepped into the terminal, Alice and Jasper had been waiting, their faces impassive. But Edward had seen see the fear in their eyes and thoughts. Alice had tried to hide her thoughts behind her concern for Bella and her subsequent anxiety for Edward. Through her attempts, however, Edward had caught a brief glimpse of a lifeless Bella lying on a large wooden floor, James hovering above her, the image now before him.
Once he'd seen that picture, he had thought there was no one that could hold him back. He knew he could run faster than the humans around would be able to see; he could move faster than either his siblings or Carlisle.
Suddenly, Emmett's arms had wrapped around Edward's shoulders, embracing him tightly, restraining him. Maybe there was one person who could hold him back.
Calm down, bro.
Emmett's tone and strength had done nothing to relax Edward. While he had been held back, Bella had been on her way to a certain death.
"Where did she go, Alice?" Edward had asked as soon as they were within range for normal conversation. "What happened? How did you lose her?" An unnatural feeling of peace had engulfed him, though it had little effect. He had looked to his blond haired brother. "Enough, Jasper. I don't need your help."
"I don't know, Edward," had wailed Alice. "One minute, Jasper was with her. She went into the bathroom, and disappeared."
"I scoured the area for her scent when she didn't reappear." Jasper had been calm, calculated. "I turned the corner, and it was apparent that she had used another exit."
Edward had been able tell what Jasper's next words were. His thoughts had betrayed his intent.
"No," Edward growled.
"Edward, listen to me," Jasper had interrupted. "This was a tactical move. Bella waited until it was nearly time for your plane to land, then she specifically asked for me to go with her—not Alice."
"She what?" Edward had asked. "Why would she do that? Didn't she know I would do anything to keep her safe?"
"Yes, Edward. Of course Bella knows that," Carlisle had said, his words full of reason. "I believe Jasper has more to tell."
"I do," Jasper had agreed. "Thank you, Carlisle. Bella also specifically asked for the restroom. She knows this airport well enough to realize it was her only means of escape. She planned this, Edward."
"Why would she do that?" Edward had echoed his earlier question, his voice defeated. "Why?"
"There's more than we realize, Edward," Carlisle had interjected. "Bella would do anything for you, that much is clear. Think about it. Why would she do something that would intentionally hurt you?"
"To save someone else," Edward had answered hollowly. "But who?"
"Who else?" Carlisle had asked. "There is only one person who would be in Phoenix."
"Her mother," Alice had gasped. "But I didn't see her mother anywhere in a vision. And she spoke with her before we came here."
"Maybe that wasn't her mother," Emmett had offered. "Maybe it was James."
"How could that be?" Alice had asked. "I answered the phone. I heard her talking. It was obviously a human female, and Bella recognized the voice as her mother's."
"I don't know." Emmett had shrugged his large shoulders and looked to the ground. "I don't know."
"Who cares about the why," Edward had roughly stated. "Let's get to the where and when." He'd looked to Alice, his only hope lay in the arms of his sister.
"Well, it looks like she's in the dance studio from my earlier vision," she had said. "I drew it for her, and she said that was located at 58th Street and Cactus."
"When will she get there?"
"I don't know exactly…twenty or thirty minutes?" Alice had replied. "That decision still has to be made."
Edward had nodded. "That's not much time. Where's the car?"
"It's in one of the short term garages. We should be able to make it there without seen."
Emmett's grip had slackened, and Edward had used that opportunity to free himself from his brother's grasp. When Alice had pictured the parking garage, she'd also recalled the path there. Within milliseconds, Edward had been off to the Mercedes. He'd passed a car rental counter on the way and grabbed a free local area map. Perusing the overview of the city, he'd memorized the best route to his destination.
Luckily, even with the sun shining brightly, he had been able to avoid its rays and the subsequent inhuman sparkling of his skin. He 'd arrived at the car swiftly, though each moment had seemed like an eternity. Each second that passed, he had wondered if this was what it would be like should he lose Bella permanently. Would time move always so slowly? He'd banished that thought before it could flourish.
He'd had an extra set of Carlisle's keys in his pocket, just in case, so using the car was not an issue. Before he had reached the car, he had used the remote to unlock it. The resounding beep had filled the mostly vacant parking garage. Its high-pitched squeak had been hollow and annoying as it had echoed around him. What had angered him more was the fact that he had wished he hadn't had to take the car. The human charade had been frustrating. He'd much rather have just run there; it would have been so much quicker.
Edward had run up to the car, almost removing the door in his haste to enter. After putting the key in the ignition, rather than relaxing, he'd become more anxious. Would he get to Bella in time? He had rotated the key and the engine turned over. Fluidly, he'd pulled out of the parking space.
As he'd driven through the unforgiving openness of Phoenix, he had contemplated Bella and how they had gotten here. He'd remembered that at one point that he'd thought he was always running away from or toward Bella. How ironic was it that, at that moment, he'd been yet again running in her direction?
He had thought back to their first meeting and how he had fled Washington, and the temptation Bella had offered, for the distance and clarity available in Alaska. It had been in this very car that Edward had taken flight in order to save Bella's life from a bloodthirsty vampire. How appropriate that he had been racing to protect her, to save her from the very same thing.
He'd sped through the streets of the vigorous city, ignoring most traffic laws. What did minor traffic regulations matter when his very existence was on the line? Besides, he had a built in radar detector.
He'd known that if he was not in time to help Bella, he would end his existence. What was forever, but hell, when the only happiness you'd known had been taken away? He'd come up with a plan. If he was unable to save Bella — the pain that had shot through him at that thought was unbearable—he would go to the Volturi and ask to be ended. If they denied him, he would find a way to force them.
After a few sharp turns and more than one close call with a human—Edward wasn't on top of his game—he'd found the building where that vile wretch was holding his love captive.
He'd tore himself from the memories of his frenzied trip, the events that had brought him to the point where James hovered above Bella, threatening her very life.
Looking across the room, rage filled his every cell. He would not allow this monster to take this precious girl from him.
A roar left his lips as he dashed across the room toward his enemy. James reacted defensively, flinging Bella's limp body into a corner. The crash of her fragile form against the walls hurt Edward emotionally, almost as much as it must have hurt Bella physically. Maybe more, as she seemed unconscious. His eyes reflexively sought out her form.
Fuming, Edward turned his gaze upon James. The creature before him had injured Bella in so many ways. Now, he would to pay.
He flung himself across the room and collided with James, the cracking sound of their stone bodies deafening. James threw Edward off and into a mirror across the room. It shattered under his stone body, the sound of the shards of glass barely audible under the growling of both opponents as they fell to the ground. Immediately, he stood and attacked again. The two vampires fought throughout the room. Edward took care to stay away from Bella's fragile body as James struggled to bring them closer to her.
Edward was so involved in his combat with James that he didn't even noticed when Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Carlisle sprinted into the room. The first to enter his line of sight was Jasper; he held his hand over his nose, his thoughts solely on removing James and getting away from the scent of Bella's blood. Both he and Emmett grabbed James by the shoulders, removing him from Edward.
They pulled the thrashing vampire from the room. As soon as they were from his sight, Edward heard the high-pitched biting scream leave James mouth joined with the screech of vampire flesh being ripped apart. Under different circumstances, those sounds would have nauseated him. But now, he drew a perverse pleasure from the fact that James' existence would soon be over.
Once again, his attention returned to the broken girl in the corner. "No," he screamed, his mind clouding with fear. For the time being, he was able to ignore the thirst that clawed at his throat, his only thoughts of her safety. "No, Bella. No. No. No."
He reached her side in less than a second and knelt beside her. Pulling her into his lap, he began crooning to her, trying to make her open her eyes. She didn't respond to the sound of his voice and his heart broke at the sight of her.
"Carlisle?" Edward cried, begging his adopted father to rush on the scene.
Carlisle was there momentarily, staring at his desperate son clutching the beautiful daughter he'd barely gotten to know.
"Help!" Edward bellowed.
"Alice. My bag, please." Even through the confusion, Carlisle's voice was calm and measured. "Edward, you will need to release her, so that I can have a look."
Anger flooded Edward's emotions. How could he let his angel go? He must protect her at all costs. He didn't even notice the soft growl emanating from his chest.
"Edward, I won't hurt her," Carlisle said. "You know that."
Shaking his head from the daze that had controlled it, he placed Bella in his father's arms. "Take good care of her, Carlisle."
"Of course," he responded.
Edward watched as Carlisle gingerly turned Bella's head, inspecting the gaping wound inside her hairline. His thoughts were clinical with no sign of lust over the spilled blood.
"Here, Carlisle," Alice said, handing over the oversized black bag. As soon as Carlisle grabbed the bag, Alice covered her nose with her hand.
"What do you see?" Edward asked after turning to Alice. "Please tell me."
"I won't look, Edward," she said. "I can't. I'm too scared."
At that moment, Bella shrieked. Her scream, while weaker than it should have been, was the first sign of life she'd given since Edward had entered the open room. His heart soared at this miniscule glimmer of hope.
"Bella?" he asked, picking up her right hand. "Bella, sweetheart, can you answer me?"
Her reply was mumbled but she responded.
Suddenly, she wailed again. "It hurts," she cried.
Edward leaned down to her ear. "I know, sweetheart. Carlisle will make it better. He'll help." He turned when he saw Carlisle bring the needle to her soft skin, unable to watch it penetrate the thin membrane.
"My hand," she screamed. "My hand is burning."
In that instant, Edward's world turned askew. He knew what burning meant, the thing he'd wanted to protect Bella from the most. James had bitten her; it was the only explanation. Edward knew it wasn't the hand he held in his own—this one was perfect and whole—so he looked to the opposite side of her body. There on fleshy pad beneath her thumb was a crescent shaped wound in the exact shape of a set of teeth. James had marked Bella in a way that Edward had never wanted for her.
Bella screamed again. "Make it stop."
"He bit her?" Carlisle asked, his quiet voice filled with disgust.
"Please," she shrieked, her voice pleading louder than before."Please make it stop."
Edward ran his free hand through his hair. "What can be done, Carlisle?" His voice broke under the enormity of the situation before him.
"You can try to suck the venom out, or—"
"Will that work?" Edward asked.
"I don't know," Carlisle responded. "I've never heard a situation like it before."
"There's another alternative," Alice chimed, visions of a red-eyed Bella flitting through her head. Each one became clearer than the next.
"No!" bellowed Edward. "What can you do Carlisle?" Edward knew that Bella's blood was too tempting for him. There'd be no way to resist if he even let a drop pass his lips.
"I need to stop the bleeding here," Carlisle said. "Whichever choice you make, you'll need to follow through."
"I don't know if I can," Edward moaned. "What if I…what if I…"
"You won't," Alice stated.
"Either way, Edward." Carlisle's voice was authoritative. "You need to act now."
Edward looked back down to Bella's broken body. Her fathomless, beautiful brown eyes were open and staring back at him, pleading. In their depths, he found his conviction. He could do this. He would do this.
He leaned down, hovering over her injured body carefully so as not to crush her. Grabbing her hand, he looked into her eyes once more.
"I love you, Bella," he said desperately. "Forgive me for this."
Through her panting, she managed to mouth the responding, "I love you, too."
As soon as he saw her lips form those most powerful words, he clasped his mouth around her hand and began sucking. The fluid that streamed down his ragged throat eased his constant burn for the first time in seventy years. Even marred by the flavor of another vampire's venom and the drugs floating through her system, the taste was beyond anything he'd ever had before. Her scent enveloped him from the inside, carrying him along a path of pleasure that he'd never experienced.
Edward had tasted human blood so many times before, but this was pure ecstasy. This particular human had been created for him, bred for him.
A small voice in the back of his mind told him he needed to stop, but he was unable to understand why. And since he had no will to end the perfection of this moment, he continued to suck.
A female voice next to him became frantic, begging this Edward person to stop doing whatever he was doing. But he couldn't pull himself from this heaven to remember who Edward was and why he was supposed to stop.
Another female voice broke through, a spoken voice. "Edward," it called.
He was Edward, she was his Bella.
He was supposed to be saving, not killing, her. Instantly, he tore his lips from her delicate hand. With desperation, he realized that he'd nearly ended her life.
"I think her blood's clean," he murmured. "I don't taste the venom, only the morphine. Will she be all right?"
"So tired," Bella slurred as her eyes closed.
Edward briefly thought that she looked like a fairy tale princess, her beauty fresh and pure just like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella.
"No," Alice answered, her voice ragged. In her head the only image of Bella's future was a lifeless body and a funeral.
Frantically, he looked to the nearly unconscious Bella. "Don't go to sleep, love," Edward yelled, holding her shoulders and pulling her close. "Wake up. I need you, please." His begging made no difference; still the only future Bella had was death.
"How can this be?" Edward cried. "What happened?"
"You took too much blood," Alice answered quietly, her thoughts echoing her unwillingness to speak the words. "There's only one resolution now."
"No," he said. "That's not a resolution. That's a tragedy." He looked frantically to Carlisle. "There must be another alternative. There's always a choice." Diverting his attention back to the girl he was kneeling before, he reached out and grabbed her hand, noticing how her temperature had decreased significantly. "No!"
"It's the only way, Edward," Alice stated, wrapping her arm around his shoulders. He shrugged her off. "The decision must be made quickly, or it'll be too late."
"How can I do that to her?" he asked, dropping Bella's hand. "How can I sentence her to this?" he asked, gesturing to himself with his free hand.
"It's what she would want," Alice consoled. "But you need to do this now."
"Carlisle? Should I…"
"I can do it," Carlisle answered.
The protective and possessive instinct flared in Edward again. He couldn't let her die; he needed her. But he also couldn't let anyone else steal her humanity. It was his cross to bear. "No. She's mine. I will do this."
He looked at her too peaceful face. "I'm so sorry, Bella. I hope you will forgive me. I just… I can't live without you."
He cleared his mind and brought her hand to his face. His eyes became blank, almost deadened as he inhaled her lovely human scent one last time and filled his mouth with venom before he bit down into her fragile wrist. Before the powerful taste took over and he lost himself, he pulled away and sealed the wound. Next, he performed the same process on other strategic points throughout her body. Mentally weary from his whole ordeal, he drew away from his love and wept tearlessly. His body heaved and jerked as he attempted to gather himself for the nightmare that was sure to come.
Seconds later, Bella's screaming began. It was quiet at first, but grew increasingly more fervent as the moments passed. He knew what she must be going through; he'd experienced it, and it stood out in strong relief against all of his other human memories. He'd never wanted this for Bella, never wanted to steal her humanity and her soul. But when put to the test, he failed her, damning her in his selfishness, when he should have left her to a blissful eternity.
"It'll be fine," Alice soothed. "Look, Edward."
She looked to the future. Again, a vision of a red-eyed, pale-skinned Bella played before her eyes. This time, though, Edward was by future Bella's side. They were in the woods, running between the trees. Bella had a brilliant smile as she looked to him. Suddenly, Bella's eyes flashed and she jolted to the side. The vision followed for a few more seconds as Edward watched his love pounce on an unsuspecting deer.
She would be fine.
"We must leave Phoenix," Carlisle said, breaking Edward from the beautiful vision and back to the reality of the situation. Bella's screams had increased exponentially. "Your brothers have started a fire in the other room, so we'll need to leave soon." He paused assessing the situation, his thoughts attempting to resolve a location where both Bella and humans would be safe. "You'll have to take Bella someplace other than Forks."
"I know," Edward hollowly responded. Unable to process anything beyond Bella's suffering, he watched helplessly. "Where?"
"We have the house in Montana," Carlisle stated. "That may be the best place to take her. At least until she wakes up. Then we may be better able to get her into Alaska."
"Yes," Alice agreed. "That will be the best bet."
Edward nodded, and picked up Bella, her small frame writhing while she screamed. "I'm so sorry, love. I didn't want this for you," he repeated, and then carried her to the Mercedes, gently placing her in the back seat. After easing himself below her head and upper torso, he pulled her close. "Will you ever forgive me?"
He stayed this way for the entire trip to Montana while Carlisle drove. At each gas stop, Edward held her close attempting to stifle her movements and cries of agony. As they approached, he would explain to her what was happening, and each time she'd calm just enough to keep the charade in place.
He kept constant vigil over his love, watching the color slowly fade from her face, the gradual sharpening of her jaw, the hollowing of her cheeks, and the darkening under her eyes. He wanted to discover something in himself that found these changes upsetting. After all, he was losing his beautiful human girl. But nothing was unearthed. Only the anticipation of his love's awakening and the appeal of her new form could filter through the jumble of his thoughts into coherent ideas. Each slight change attracted him more…in the right way. Or wrong, depending how an individual looked at the situation. Even the appeal of her scent was changing from burning food source to pure bliss.
Once they arrived at the house in Montana, Edward deftly carried Bella into the main room, not noticing the difference in her weight since he'd put her onto the backseat of the car. He placed her on the soft, blue cushions of the longest couch. Bella's screaming hadn't stopped for the last hour or so, and each piercing sound ripped a new hole in his long dead heart.
"Forgive me, love," he whispered. "Please. I was so selfish. I couldn't lose you. I love you."
He stood up and examined her thrashing form, deciding that he couldn't leave her on the sofa for too long. She had become so strong and would likely break it into pieces very quickly.
He looked to his mother who had arrived shortly before him and Carlisle. His sister had opted to stay in Forks for a little while longer and settle things there.
"Esme," he began, "I don't have a bed in my room. I was wondering if I could take the mattress from yours and put it in my room so I can place Bella on it. She'll most likely rip it to shreds, but I'd like something more private and more comfortable, not that either really matters."
"Of course, dear. I'll do it for you so you don't have to leave Bella's side." Esme flitted up stairs and out of sight.
"When will the others be arriving?" Edward asked.
"They are going to be here sometime tomorrow." Carlise spoke calmly. "Alice informed me that they will be here shortly before Bella wakes up. I assume both Emmett and Jasper will be needed."
"Right," Edward answered vaguely.
"How much does she know, Edward?" Carlisle asked. "What have you told her?"
"I've told her nothing," Edward answered coldly. "I didn't want her to know any of this. I wanted to keep her safe."
"Now is not the time for guilt, son," Carlisle said, placing an arm around his son's shoulders which Edward quickly shrugged out of. "The decision has been made. But you must tell her what's happening and what will happen. She needs to understand. She's over halfway through, so I'm sure she's lucid enough. Can you do this?"
"I committed the sin, Carlisle. I must do the penance." He turned to face the burning girl again. "I'll explain everything once she's upstairs. I only hope she can learn to forgive me at some point. I'll do whatever it takes."
"Edward, Bella loves you. This will only solidify that love. You know it won't change that."
"We'll see when she wakes up," Edward sighed. He lifted his love from the couch on which she'd been lying, this time noticing the change in her weight. Knowing this weight was temporary, he gently rearranged her in his arms, getting used to the new sensation of having her there. He decided that he liked the fact that she was becoming more durable, sturdier. This was the way things were meant to be.
Quickly, he recoiled from that idea. No, this should not have been her destiny. She should have had a long, human life, not an unnaturally long existence as a monster.
Even with these conflicting thoughts, he couldn't help admiring the changes that had already taken place in Bella's body. Her skin was lighter, more pearlescent, her scent so much more delightful with less burn, and the delicate features of her face were more chiseled, more perfect. His eyes wanted to roam lower, to explore more changes, but now was not the time.
Bella was in agony.
He should not be having lascivious thoughts about his suffering girlfriend.
He maintained a silent vigil by her side, unable to speak, though he knew he should. Her panting, moans and screams were the only sound, other than his measured breaths, for hours on end. Periodically, Carlisle would enter the room to check on Bella's progress. Every time he would attempt to assuage Edward's fears, assuring him that Bella was advancing as had been expected.
On the morning of Bella's awakening, Carlisle finally prodded Edward into speaking to her.
Son, you know she can hear and understand everything that's going on. "It's time to explain everything," he said as he was leaving the room. "It will be over soon."
"I know," Edward sighed, his voice filled with resignation. Carlisle was right; it was time to inform Bella about her new life, set to begin in a few hours. "I know."
"Do you want me present? Or would you rather be alone?"
"Alone, I think."
Carlisle nodded. "Everything will be fine. She'll understand." After his last words, he walked from the room.
Edward unnecessarily cleared his throat, stalling for time. "Bella? Love? Can you please open your eyes?"
Through her screaming, she understood and turned to the sound of his voice. Though she was only able to open her eyes partially, Edward was capable of seeing the changes already rendered there. Her irises were mostly red, the lovely chocolate color lost for eternity. He tried not to react to the shock of this unfamiliar color, so out of place on her angelic face—he'd known it would be this way; why did he recoil? Unfortunately, he knew his flinch would not go unnoticed by Bella's increasingly keen eyesight.
She moaned, closing her eyes and turning away.
"No," he begged. "Please don't look away." He reached out his hand and gently caressed her cheek, marveling at the sensation as he stroked her smooth skin, so similar to his own now. "I need to speak with you."
Once again, she turned her head to him and opened her eyes. Through her parted lids, the muddy red was no less shocking, but he was more able to temper his reaction. Her breathing increased and she uttered unintelligible sounds more often with her eyes opened.
"I'll make this quick," he said. "You're suffering enough." He nodded to himself that the upcoming monologue needed to take place. She should have known, but in his selfish attempt to distance her from his world, he'd drawn her in without the necessary understanding, similar to his own baptism by fire. He decided to ease her into this discussion, while still keeping the pace quick. He knew her hearing had advanced, and he hoped she'd keep up with his rapid speech. But first, he needed to tell her one thing.
He conveyed all the emotion he could muster into three simple words. "I love you." He picked up her hand and held it against his cheek. "Never forget that. Even after all I've put you through, I love you."
Though she couldn't form the words, he imagined that he saw his love reflected in the red of her irises.
He now knew he was at the part of his speech that he'd been dreading, the part he'd dreaded since she'd pronounced that horror-filled word almost a week ago…"vampire."
"It's almost over, love. Not much longer now. Alice has called and she says it should end in a few hours."
Bella's eyes widened before closing tightly, and her nose scrunched as she bellowed loudly. A tear, probably her last, leaked from her right eye and dripped down onto the useless soft pillow.
"I know. But after it's done, you'll never have to worry about pain like this ever again. I promise."
She nodded her head, all the while her labored breaths and grunts revealing her agony.
"Do you understand what's happening?" he asked, willing her eyes to open.
She jerkily nodded, struggling to keep control of her muscles through the pain. As he had hoped, she once more graced him with the beauty of her open eyes.
He noted that although the color had changed, the shape was the same, the indescribable something that made Bella's eyes the gateway to her being was still there. He sighed, momentarily lost in this realization. He could still see her soul. If it remained this long into the transformation, maybe she wouldn't lose it; maybe he hadn't lost his. He smiled wistfully at her, pushing himself to fulfill his duty as both her maker and her love.
"As I'm sure you know, when James bit you, he started a process. I stopped it by removing his venom. We're venomous, Bella. Vampires propagate the species by injecting our venom into the bloodstream of a human—"
"Alice," Bella screamed.
"You want Alice?" She didn't want him there?
"N-no," she breathed heavily. "Sh-she t—" Bella pulled in two more deep breaths, her struggle unbearable for him to watch.
"You don't need to tell me now," he soothed. "There will be time enough after."
Bella panted and shook her head. "Told m-me."
"What? Alice told you what?" He retraced his words. "Alice told you about the process?"
She nodded slightly.
Anger filled him as he'd purposely commanded Alice not to tell Bella. Though at this point, Bella's knowledge helped immensely which assuaged his anger slightly. He wasn't upset with the small girl enduring hell before him. In fact, he wasn't really upset with his sister. It was himself with whom he was livid.
"So you understand," he said more to himself. "Well, when the change is complete, everything will be overwhelming. You'll see, hear, smell and taste so many more things that you could before. Everything will feel different. Your senses will be enhanced beyond your imagination, vastly more so than they are even now."
He released her hand, once again bringing his to stroke her cheek. Her temperature had dropped dramatically; everything was changing so quickly now. He stared deep into her still reddening eyes and continued explaining.
"You will be inordinately thirsty, love," he explained, a note of sorrow tainting his voice. "We will need to hunt soon after. That will help lessen the thirst, though it will never go away." He looked to the floor. "I'm sorry. So sorry."
"Edward," she whispered, her words little more than a breath, drawing his attention with the power of a super magnet.
"Don't," she breathed, a tinge of desperation coloring her words.
"Yes. I'll continue with the story. So, I sucked out his venom, to prevent the process. I inadvertently took too much blood. When given the choice between losing you and keeping you forever, I knew what I would choose. But when given the uncertainty of stealing your soul, I dithered. Still, I chose selfishly to keep you for myself." He stared into her eyes. "I did it, Bella. It was my choice and I chose for myself. I love you."
At that point, Bella closed her eyes, forcing herself to concentrate. "I love you." She mouthed.
His heart soared. Even after everything he'd put her through, she still loved him. With that plain declaration, his world righted. If she could still love him, he could live through anything. With Bella by his side, eternity was not a sentence but the only heaven he could ever desire.
He watched as once again her gaze clouded, and she was lost to the pain of transformation.
A few hours later, the rest of his, now his and Bella's, family arrived. Alice informed him that Bella would finish within the half hour when she stepped through the door into Edward's vigil. The others were somber and quiet. Even their thoughts were muted and calm.
Rosalie amazed Edward when she spoke. "I'm not happy that another human life has been taken, Edward. But I understand your motives. I can definitely say I would have done the same had I been in your situation; I have." With that brief declaration of acceptance, she squeezed his shoulder and walked from Bella's burning room.
"Let us know when we're needed," Emmett said. "We're here for you and Bella." He quickly followed his wife.
"I know," Edward replied.
"I think I'd rather stay with you, if that's okay, Edward?" Alice asked.
The others filed out, all acknowledging their imminent return.
Around twenty agonizing minutes later—had sixty seconds come to mean a lifetime?—Bella's heart began to beat rapidly. Edward knew the end was drawing near. He was about to be greeted by the new incarnation of his love. Would she see him for all his shortcomings once she had the same predatory trappings?
Alice grabbed his hand, pulling his attention away briefly. "It'll be fine." She showed him a picture of Bella and him mid-kiss. He couldn't tell how far in the future, but he held onto that image like it was a life preserver, and he was lost in the ocean with only human strength.
As her heartbeat increased, he pictured the final outcome. As she screamed and arched her back due to the pain centering in her chest, he imagined the feel of her skin perfectly matched to his. As the final beats of her heart echoed throughout the room, he memorized the sound knowing he'd have only that memory for eternity.
With a final thumpa-thump, the room was cloaked in silence. No one even breathed in anticipation of an irrational, uncontrollable newborn. Only Edward could hear the rushing and excited words hovering through everyone's minds.
After too long a time, the angelic creature on the bed opened her eyes.
Thank you for reading!