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All That's Left

Summary:
Bella finally gets what she's been wanting for so long, but it's so much more painful than she ever could have imagined. The Cullens watch as she's changed into one of them with mixed reactions. Told in varying POVs.


Notes:
Edward/Bella with appearances by all the others. Spoilers throughout all three books.


1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4928   Review this Chapter

Chapter 1

Bella’s POV

I paced nervously back and forth across the hardwood floor in Edward’s bedroom, completely lost in thought. I felt bad for sending him away, but I needed to think without him there to distract me. I had already made up my mind about tonight being the night, but I found I was torn over the decision to have Edward be the one to seal my fate. I knew he was close by and guilt was beginning to consume my thoughts as I imagined how tortured he was feeling. I knew it hurt him at times like this to not be able to hear my thoughts, but at the same time I knew it would hurt him more if he could.

Sighing lightly, I walked slowly over to the wrought-iron bed that sat at the center of the room and sat down, putting my face in my hands. On the one hand, if I was going to spend the rest of eternity with Edward, I wanted him to be the one to bite me, to really make me his. On the other hand, if I wasn’t the same, if I wasn’t Bella when all was said and done like I feared I wouldn’t be, I didn’t want Edward to be consumed by the guilt of what he’d done. I wouldn’t blame him, I couldn’t blame him, not when this was something that I wanted so much, but I knew he would blame himself.

I sat up once again, wiping at my eyes to stop the tears before they could fall. My hands dropped into my lap and I stared at the ring on my left hand. I knew I was already Edward’s forever, but not in the way that I wanted to be. I was his for my forever as his wife. My forever was finite, though. My days were numbered. I wanted to be Edward’s for the length of his forever. I just didn’t want him to feel responsible in the event that things didn’t go quite as planned. I didn’t want him to feel any regret for causing me the agony I knew was to come with the bite.

As tough as the decision was to make, I made it with the best of intentions. Another sigh escaped my lips as I stood, smoothing my hands over my shirt to dry my palms. I took a slow, shaky breath and moved towards the door, stepping out into the hall and heading downstairs to find Edward and Carlisle.

I made my way down the stairs, clinging to the banister so tightly that my knuckles were white. I wasn’t afraid of the pain, I wasn’t afraid of my fate. What I feared was Edward’s reaction. I didn’t want him to be mad; I couldn’t take it if he was, though I could understand why he would be. I took my time heading towards Carlisle’s study, knowing that was where Edward would be waiting for me. I was postponing the inevitable and was disappointed that it didn’t do anything to temper the nervous tightening of my stomach at the thought of the conversation that would ensue.

I reached the main level and turned off to the left, heading off towards the hall that would lead to Carlisle’s study. I kept my eyes focused on the floor, taking one measured step after the other. I tried to focus on the steps, to keep my mind off of the hurt I would undoubtedly cause Edward when I told him I’d decided to ask Carlisle to be the one to change me.

It seemed so paradoxical. After all, wasn’t I the one who’d asked, no, who’d begged Edward to change me? Didn’t I go to great lengths to get him to agree? Didn’t I give in and marry him so that it could be him that did the job? It definitely didn’t seem right, but it was the decision I’d made and I wasn’t about to change my mind.

I could see his denial even now. No, he’d say with that almost frighteningly insistent edge to his voice, I want to do this, Bella. Nothing you can say can change that. I promised, and I won’t go back on my word. Don’t worry about me, Bella, what I feel doesn’t matter, as long as you’re happy.

This wasn’t going to be easy.

I took a slow, deep breath and looked up, seeing that I’d reached Carlisle’s study sooner than I’d expected. I wasn’t sure I was ready to face Edward, but I reached for the doorknob anyway. My hand shook as I paused for a moment, taking just one more breath. I was just about to turn tail and head back up to the bedroom for a little while longer, to do some more preparing, when the doorknob turned and the door opened inward.

Edward’s eyes were so warm and kind that my resolve almost crumbled right then and there. I had to fight the urge to step forward, wrap my arms around him and forget everything I’d thought out in the past hour or so. I took a step back away from him to help myself keep it together and avoided his gaze for a moment.

“I thought I smelled trouble,” Edward said with a soft laugh.

I smiled wryly and still kept from looking directly at him. I could already tell he’d noticed something wasn’t right. He had balled his hands into fists and straightened up like he always did when he got stressed. The questions were coming, and there was nothing I could do to avoid them. I could try to run, but I knew I’d never outrun him. I could try to hide but he’d had no trouble finding me. I figured it was best to just stay there and get it all over with.

“Bella?” He asked lightly. “What’s wrong, honey?”

“I,” my voice caught in my throat. “We need to talk.”

I slowly lifted my head, meeting his eyes, seeing that they had darkened just a touch. His eyebrows had furrowed like they always did when he was concerned. I watched as he stepped forward and gently wrapped an arm around my waist. I shivered, anticipating the cold that always came with his touch but not expecting it to reach quite so deep. It was almost like my very heart and soul were being chilled.

I shakily wrapped my arm around Edward in return and stepped forward with him, heading into the study. I glanced around the room and noticed that Carlisle was at his desk. I met his gaze and it surprised me how much like Edward’s it was. I could see the same concern there, the same desire to help, to soothe. I allowed myself to be led over to the couch at the far end of the room and settled down onto it. I continued to avoid Edward’s gaze in hopes that I could either change my mind or find the strength I needed to break the news to him. Instead I focused on Carlisle, watching as he stood slowly from his desk and stepped around it, leaning against it just touch closer to us than he’d been before.

“Carlisle,” Edward said quietly. “Could you give us a moment, please?”

“Of course,” he replied with a nod, turning on his heel and heading for the door.

“No!” I blurted quickly. “Please. I-I need to talk to you both. It’s about… tonight.”

I was having a hard enough time telling them what it was I wanted to talk about, I didn’t know how I could expect myself to tell them exactly what was on my mind. I looked between the two of them and they each met my gaze wearing the same concerned, confused expression. Carlisle nodded and moved to the door, closing it before turning back and coming to join me and Edward on the couch. I sat between the two of them, not sure which it would be easier to look at.

“Bella,” Edward said softly, breaking the silence and startling me.

“Before I start, I want to ask you to hear me out,” I said slowly. “I’ve made a decision, and I’m going to stick to it. I know my reasons might not make sense to you and I know they may seem like they’re far from the truth, but just hear me out. It’s our future we’re talking about, our forever, and I want to do it right.”

I glanced at Edward and Carlisle in turn, waiting for a nod of understanding and agreement from each of them before clearing my throat to speak once again.

“I was thinking about tonight, about Edward being the one to do it,” I swallowed thickly. “To bite me.”

The words were bitter and I almost choked on them, but I forced myself to go on. I turned to look at Edward, finding that meeting his eyes at that moment was one of the most difficult things I’d ever had to do.

“I love you,” I began softly. “I want to spend forever with you, I want to be your equal in every way, but I can’t live with myself knowing I’d forced you to be the one to change me. I don’t want you to feel guilty about causing me so much pain, about taking away my life, my soul or whatever else it is you’re worried about. I know you keep telling me that it’ll be alright, that nothing would make you happier than making me happier, whatever that may entail, but I don’t want to be happy if you can’t be happy with me over the decisions I’ve made.”

I paused for a moment, holding up a hand to keep Edward from speaking while I took a slow breath and steeled myself to go on. I turned to look at Carlisle instead and met his gaze, feeling the tiniest bit better as I saw the unspoken encouragement in his eyes. At least he wanted to hear me out.

“Carlisle,” I said quietly. “If you’re not opposed, I’d like for you to be the one to do it.”

“Bella,” Edward hissed swiftly, cutting Carlisle off.

“Please, Edward,” I said almost inaudibly. “For once just let me have my way. I need for you to trust me on this one. I need you to support my decision. This is forever we’re talking about. I couldn’t live with myself if I let you do this. I’ve met all of your conditions to get this far, now all I ask is that you meet one of mine.”

I could see that he wanted to argue as I met his gaze again, but at the same time I was sure there was something else there. Was it a flicker of relief? Whatever it was, I could see that what I’d said had worked. For once, I was going to get what I wanted, no questions asked. I was sure this wasn’t the last I’d hear of it, but for the time being I’d managed to silence his oppositions.

I let a moment of silence to pass between us, to seal the deal, before letting out a stagnated breath, letting the relief wash over me. The nod that Edward gave me a split second later made the decision feel even more right. I flashed him a small, grateful smile and reached out to take one of his cold hands in mine, holding on as I looked back over to Carlisle.

“Please,” I said softly. “I’d like nothing more than for you to be the one to do it. I trust you.”

He nodded and reached out to take my other hand in his, giving my hand a gentle squeeze as he spoke.

“Of course,” he replied warmly. “It would be my pleasure, Bella. I want you to be a part of this family and I’d like to be the one to bring you into it.”

“Thank you,” I replied, my voice thick with tears.

His words had truly touched me and I smiled, squeezing his hand back in a gesture of gratitude.

“You’re welcome,” he said with another nod. “Now I’ll leave you two to talk. Come and find me when you’re ready, Bella.”

”I will,” I replied.

With that, Carlisle let go of my hand and stood, heading swiftly out of the room and closing the door behind him. I stared at the closed door for a moment, sighing lightly before looking over at Edward once again. A shiver went through me as I met his gaze, not quite as warm and welcoming as it had been before but understanding at the same time. He was hurting and I felt terrible for being the one to hurt him, but it was the best decision in the end.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I know this is hard for you to accept and I know you probably want nothing more than to argue with me until you get your way, but this is how I need to do this. Please understand.”

“I do,” Edward replied softly. “As crazy and backwards as some of your assumptions must have been in order for you to reach the conclusions you did and make the decision you did, it’s your decision and I respect that. I just want you to be happy and now that you’ve made me happy by giving me your hand in marriage, I’m willing to make this sacrifice so that you don’t have to spend the rest of your life, however long it may be, wondering what it would be like not to have to regret my being the one to change you.”

“Thank you,” I whispered.

I leaned in and wrapped my arms around him, pressing my face into the crook of his neck, allowing the chill radiating off of his body to soothe me. I relaxed a fraction as his arms wrapped around my body, pulling me into his lap and holding me against the hard plane of his chest. I stayed there for a while, I didn’t know quite how long, and allowed myself to enjoy the contrast between us in our embrace for what would be one of the very last times. Once I was a vampire, things were going to be a lot different, at least physically, and I wanted to enjoy these moments; to remember them.

Sighing softly, I slowly leaned away from Edward’s body, meeting his eyes with a teary smile. My heart was racing and I was terrified at what would come in just a short little while. I tried to convince myself that the hardest was behind me: saying my goodbyes, giving up my friends and family, leaving behind all of the reminders of my mortal life. Leaving Jacob behind. Even with all of that to think about, I couldn’t get over the thought of the pain.

I looked down at the palm of my hand, lightly tracing the cool, stony, crescent-shaped scar that had marred my palm ever since James had bitten me. I remembered the agony that had burned through my flesh, down to the very core of the bones in my arm as the venom made its way through my bloodstream. That had been enough pain to last me a lifetime, and yet I was about to subject myself to three days worth of the very same brand of agony, only this time it would be ringing throughout my entire body.

The two of us sat in a comfortable silence for a few more minutes and I allowed myself to enjoy the moment. In a few short days we would have an eternity to spend enjoying each other’s company, but this was the last chance I had to sit back and feel the breath truly entering and leaving my body, to feel my heart beating in my chest.

A few minutes later, as much as I wished we could stay locked in the moment forever, I sighed softly and decided the silence needed breaking. The day was growing darker and I figured it was as good a time as any to get it done. Looking up I met Edward’s gaze and bit my lip lightly, feeling the cold ball of fear beginning to build exponentially in the pit of my stomach.

“Let’s do this,” I said softly.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” Edward asked gently.

I nodded.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied.

He nodded back and stood up, still holding onto one of my hands. I stood with him and leaned in a little closer, resting my head on his shoulder. I sighed contently as he pulled his hand away and wrapped his arm around my waist instead, keeping me close as he took a step towards the door.

Together we walked down the hallway, heading back the way I’d come earlier. I found myself staring at the floor once again, trying to focus on anything but how nervous I was. I didn’t even realize how far we’d gone when we reached Edward’s bedroom and he was sitting me down on the bed. I looked over at the window wall, looking past the glass and at the canopy of the woods behind the house. The night was clear, for once, and I could see the moon. I smiled weakly and hoped it was a sign that my transition into immortality would be a fairly easy one.

I let out a long, nervous breath and met Edward’s gaze, reaching over to where he sat beside me to take his hands in mine. I was ready, or at least I was trying to convince myself that I was. At the same time, however, something didn’t feel right. I swallowed thickly and glanced around, taking in the soft gold tones of the bedspread, figuring out right away that I didn’t want to do this here. I didn’t want to be in this bed while I was changed. I didn’t know if I could handle the memories that it was sure to bring back after it was done. I wanted our bed to be a safe place, a comfortable place, a place tied to only the best memories.

I could tell that Edward could sense my reluctance. I could read it in his gaze. I spoke swiftly, wanting to avoid the question. Hearing him ask what was wrong would only serve to make it an even bigger deal.

“I can’t do this,” I said quietly. “Not here. I do want to do this, I need to do this, but not in our bed.”

“Then we’ll do it in Carlisle and Esme’s room,” Edward said softly, reaching up to cup my cheek, gently stroking my cheekbone with his thumb. “They won’t be opposed.”

I nodded, grateful that he’d understood.

“Well, let’s go then,” I said, the nervousness making my voice shaky.

I watched Edward, waiting for him to move, to encourage me to move, to reassure me that this was the right thing to do. Instead, he leaned in and pressed his lips to mine in a soft, soothing kiss. The love I felt in the kiss was enough to do all of that and I found myself smiling as I pulled away, swiftly getting to my feet and tugging Edward’s hand so he’d follow.

I headed down the hall towards the staircase, feeling more sure of what I was about to have Carlisle do than ever, though with that thought came another one. Where was Carlisle? I stopped so swiftly that Edward bumped into me and reached out to steady me, resting his hands on my hips.

“Bella?” He asked, meeting my gaze.

“Where’s Carlisle?” I asked.

“He’s in the study,” Edward replied.

“And Esme?” I prodded further.

“She’s in the bedroom,” he said pointedly.

“Can you get Carlisle and tell him I’m ready?” I queried lightly. “I want to talk to Esme for just a minute.”

“Of course,” Edward said with a nod. “We’ll be right up.”

“Thanks,” I said gratefully.

I watched as he made his way down the stairs and waited until he was out of sight until I continued on down the hall toward Carlisle and Esme’s room. I paused outside the door, resting one hand on the doorknob and bringing my other hand up to knock lightly. I only had to wait a moment before Esme’s soft voice beckoned me inside.

Turning the doorknob I pushed the door open and stepped into the bedroom. It was obviously the master suite; spacious, bright, inviting. I glanced around, wondering where Esme was and jumped a little as I heard a footstep off to my left. Turning my head, I noticed her stepping out from behind a dressing screen, smiling softly.

“Bella,” she said warmly. “What a surprise. What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to see you for a moment,” I replied. “Edward’s going to get Carlisle. We’re going to do it right away. I didn’t want to do it in our room and Edward said you wouldn’t mind if we used this one…”

“Of course we don’t mind,” she said reassuringly. “But that’s not what you wanted to talk about, is it?”

I felt comforted by her matronly manner once again. I watched as she moved to sit on the bed and gestured me closer. Closing the door behind me, I stepped forward and walked to the bed, coming to sit next to Esme. I relaxed a little as she put her arm around me and pulled me closer, embracing me like I were her own daughter.

“What’s on your mind, dear?” Esme murmured.

I pulled back just enough to be able to meet her gaze. My expression was serious as I cleared my throat and spoke.

“I know I can trust Carlisle, and I do,” I began, “but if anything happens, for whatever reason, I need you to tell Edward that I’m so glad we tried. Tell him that I want him to be happy and I want him to move on. I know it’s going to be hard. Even if it hurts half as much as it hurt me when he left me last year, it’s going to be unbearable, but he has you and he has the rest of the family. You’ve got to help him through it. He’s already told me that if anything happened to me, he wouldn’t out-live me by long. You have to promise me you’ll take care of him if I don’t survive to do it myself.”

“Oh, Bella,” Esme said quietly. “You have absolutely nothing to worry about. Carlisle has done this so many times that you are in no danger whatsoever. That being said, I know you still have doubts and because of that, I promise you that I will tell Edward every word and that I will watch over him for you in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. You have my word.”

Tears stung at my eyes and I reached up to wipe them away. I smiled a broken, teary smile and felt the fear welling up again, pushing my relief at Esme’s promise to the back of my mind.

I was distracted at that moment as the door to the bedroom opened and Carlisle stepped inside with Edward. They closed the door behind themselves and approached us with identical soft but serious expressions. I tried to firm up my smile a little and moved away from Esme a bit more, watching her as she stood and stepped back a little, allowing Edward to take her place at my side. I reached out to take his hand automatically and held on tightly, my heart beginning to race as the seconds ticked by.

Carlisle came to kneel before me, coming down to my level and meeting my gaze. He reached out to put a gentle hand on my shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“Are you ready?” He asked softly.

“Yes,” I said nervously. “Let’s do this.”

Carlisle gave a single nod and stood up once again, motioning to the bed.

“Alright Bella,” he instructed. “Lie back.”

I took a deep, shaky breath and turned to look at Edward, meeting his gaze as I let go of his hand. I held it for a long moment and blinked away a few frightened tears before shifting a little bit and moving onto the center of the bed, lying back against the silken fabric, trying to get as comfortable as possible in hopes that it would balance out the discomfort that was sure to come.

Once I was lying back comfortably, I looked over at Edward and took his hand once again, keeping a firm hold on it. Whatever happened, I wanted to be holding on to him when it did. I closed my eyes for a second, trying to relax, trying to slow the frantic racing of my heart which I knew would be just as apparent to everyone else in the room as it was to me, and reveled one last time in the feeling of it beating in my chest.

I opened my eyes again and looked over at Carlisle, giving him an almost imperceptible nod to encourage him to go on. I kept my eyes focused on him as he came around to the opposite side of the bed and knelt at my side, looking down at me reassuringly. I gripped Edward’s hand just a little bit more tightly as Carlisle reached out, brushing my hair back away from my face and neck. His touch made me shiver but I welcomed it, knowing my touch would soon be similarly cool and stony.

As he leaned in over me I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the moment when his teeth pierced my flesh, starting the irreversible process of my becoming a vampire. I couldn’t help but smile wryly at the thought of how the word still made me uncomfortable, even though I would soon be one of them. At that moment, Carlisle’s voice snapped me out of my reverie.

“Just relax, Bella,” he said softly.

I felt his hands come to rest firmly, almost painfully on my shoulders, undoubtedly holding me down so I didn’t snap up from the pain when he bit me. I shut my eyes tightly and squeezed Edward’s hand as hard as I possibly could, gritting my teeth and trying my best to do as Carlisle had asked but finding it extremely difficult.

I felt his cool breath on my neck just a split second before I felt the white hot agony of his teeth sinking into my skin. A moan escaped my lips but the pain was receding almost as quickly as it had come on and I felt no urge to scream. I could feel my heart beginning to race just a little bit faster and I could feel the warmth and wetness as the blood from the wound trickled down my neck and matted the hair beneath it, but there wasn’t much pain.

The blissful numbness didn’t last long, though. Within seconds I felt warmth spreading through my neck and my chest, out to the rest of my body and seconds after that it was turning to searing agony; the same agony I’d felt in my hand the day James had bit me. I tossed my head and felt Carlisle’s grip on my shoulders ease up just a little bit, allowing me to lash out and express just how much pain I was in.

The scream that tore from my throat was shrill and desperate. It felt like it was echoing all around me and every time it began to die down the least bit, it came back twice as loud and vicious as before, deafening me and making me want to scream louder still. It was all I could do to express how much I was hurting. I tossed my head back and forth and writhed on the bed, squeezing Edward’s hand and balling my other fist in the sheets. Nothing made the urge to scream go away, though. Nothing made it better.

I sobbed, tears flowing down my cheeks, and screamed until I was sure I couldn’t scream any more and then continued to scream. The night wore on, began turning to day and still I screamed. I never thought it was going to end. I couldn’t stop it. I just continued to scream as my heart counted down to the end, as my body cooled and my skin paled. I was changing.

Even with every scream, as loud as it was, in the distance I could hear a wolf’s howl. For every one of my screams, he was screaming too.

And so it continued as the sun began to peek over the mountains to the East, lighting the way to a new day and a new beginning while I kept on screaming an ending.