All That's Left
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.
Edward/Bella with appearances by all the others. Spoilers throughout all three books.
2. Chapter 2
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2209 Review this Chapter
E dward’s POV
I couldn’t believe how brave she was. My Bella, suffering the kind of pain that few in the world could even so much as fathom, still and silent. I could see that she was tired. She’d given up kicking and screaming, she almost looked like she was sleeping. Even under the thin sheen of perspiration clinging to her skin and the clench of her jaw against the agony, she looked peaceful; like she was sleeping rather than unconscious.
Watching her as the hours wore on through the first night and the first day, I saw the pain wax and wane. We were never alone, of course. Carlisle sat by on Bella’s opposite side, monitoring her throughout the change. Every so often he’d press his fingertips to her neck, feeling to see whether she still had a pulse, whether her heart was beating or whether the change was complete. When I grew concerned about her condition, about why she was unconscious when I could remember every waking moment of my change, he reassured me that it was a defense mechanism, that Bella’s body was just protecting itself against the pain. Esme was with us, too. She hovered constantly nearby and I could hear her thoughts as clear as day as the inner struggle over who to fret over more, me or Bella, continued.
No one else had dared to enter the room yet, though they all took turns waiting just beyond the door, wondering whether or not to come in. Alice had decided to put off her visit for a later time. Emmett was hurting for Bella, I could feel it almost as clearly as I could feel my own heartache, but he would come by in his own time. The others, however, would be a bit more hard pressed to stop in to see how Bella was doing.
I understood the sentiment on their parts, though. Rosalie was hovering just outside the door. Her thoughts were so loud they almost overpowered my own. She prayed that Bella wouldn’t resent her for voting against everyone else, even though the decision was months behind us. At the same time, she was frightened. I remember the day Carlisle first brought Rosalie home to us. I remember how she’d suffered the same pain Bella was in against her will, and I could understand how someone choosing to go through that could dampen her spirits. It couldn’t have made much sense to Rosalie.
And then of course there was Jasper. He and Rosalie took turns hesitating just beyond the door to the bedroom. Much like I did with Rosalie, I understood Jasper’s reluctance. The scent of Bella’s sweet blood hung in the room like a heavy curtain, obscuring everything else, sharpening my instinct to draw the remaining blood from her body to feed and dulling the rest of my senses. It was difficult to resist, even I could admit as much, but Bella needed me and nothing could keep me away. The scent was so delicious that even Esme had to will herself not to breathe it in. Carlisle suffered no such difficulty. As stoic as ever, he sat by Bella’s side, keeping the both of us company, and cared for her as though she was his own.
I sighed and looked down at where my hand was tangled with Bella’s. I lightly brushed my thumb over the back of her hand, hoping she could find some comfort in the gesture. I brought my gaze up to her face and noticed that her eyes were open. Pain clouded them as she glanced around and I longed to know what she was thinking. Instead, I detached myself from the frustration of not knowing and leaned in closer, bringing my hand up to cup her cheek so she would focus on me.
“Bella,” I said softly. “How are you doing, sweetheart?”
I watched as she slowly licked her lips and swallowed thickly, undoubtedly trying to clear the cobwebs that had collected as she’d lain there unconscious.
“It hurts,” she whispered hoarsely. “A lot.”
“I know it does,” I sympathized. “But you’re doing so well. Just another day and a half. After that you never have to worry about anything hurting you again. In the meantime just try to get some rest.”
She nodded once, weakly, and I could see that she was fighting to keep her eyes open as the darkness beckoned to her again. I could remember the blissful feeling that made itself known when I gave in to the darkness when I was being changed. It was so seductive, so tempting that I knew Bella would find it impossible to resist sooner or later and would give in. It would be best for her if she did; at least she wouldn’t feel the pain.
“Don’t leave me, Edward,” she pleaded weakly.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I promised her. “I’ll be right here when you wake up again. You’re in good hands.”
I glanced up at Carlisle for a moment only to notice that he was studying Bella intently. I examined his face for any traces of worry or uncertainty, and was thankful when all I found was blessed satisfaction. Everything would be alright.
I looked down at Bella once again and saw that she was looking up at Carlisle as well, though with a far away look on her face. I leaned in and pressed a soft, reassuring kiss to her forehead, feeling her relax a fraction as I did so. The relaxation quickly became more evident and I knew without looking at her that she’d fallen unconscious once again.
It was just a little bit easier to see her going through the change of her life when she was unconscious. Her features weren’t marred by the agony of the waking world and she wasn’t crying out. It broke my heart to know that all of that was still in store for her when she woke up again, but for the time being I could handle things.
“Are you having second thoughts about all of this?” Carlisle asked softly, his voice startling me out of my reverie.
“Of course not,” I replied, irritated at the fact that he could so much as think of something like that.
At the same time, his words did ring true, at least a little bit. Maybe what I was having weren’t exactly second thoughts, but there were doubts in my mind. I hadn’t had enough time to figure everything out. I hadn’t had enough time to think before Bella’s mind was made up about making the change. In my defense, I had asked her several times to wait a year, maybe two, but she refused.
A part of me was glad she’d changed her mind at the last minute about my being the one to change her, though. At least if something went wrong, I wouldn’t suffer that heartache on top of the guilt of having been the one to make her want to change in the first place. It sounded selfish, I knew that, but it was the truth. Besides, if I wasn’t feeling guilty, there would be no reason for Bella to be upset. It was her worrying about my feeling guilty over biting her that had driven her to ask Carlisle at the last minute anyway.
“Edward, dear, why don’t you go out and get some fresh air,” Esme suggested this time.
I shook my head swiftly. It was painful to watch Bella as she was unconsciously transformed but it would be unbearable to leave her side for even a moment and have to wonder what she was going through. I didn’t want her to wake up and feel as though I’d abandoned her in such a time of need.
I moved to lie down next to Bella, wrapping my arms around her and pulling her closer. I held her near and felt the change immediately. Before the bite she’d been so soft, so warm, so breakable. Now she was so much different. Not quite cold marble yet, but nowhere near as human as before. She was somewhere in between, lost in the space that separated the living from the undead.
I hadn’t realized how much I had learned to control myself until that moment. When Bella had been human I’d had to work so hard to remember to be gentle so I didn’t break her when I touched her face, held her in my arms, kissed her. Now it didn’t matter anymore. Bella could take anything I could give and she wouldn’t shatter. Still, I resolved to be gentle, to treat her as though she were made of porcelain. Even if she wasn’t human anymore, she was still my Bella and she deserved to be treated with the same tenderness as any other girl.
I glanced down at Bella as she moaned softly and stirred in my arms, shifting a little so that she was even closer to me. I tipped my head down just the smallest bit and pressed my lips to her cool, hardening forehead. Her skin was becoming like glass and I realized how alien the sensation was to me. Before Bella I’d never kissed another girl, human or otherwise. I hadn’t known what to expect when I kissed her for the first time in her new state, and now I knew that it was going to be so much different than it had been before. Not unpleasant, just unfamiliar. It would take some getting used to for the both of us, I was sure.
With a light sigh, I glanced at the clock on the wall adjacent to the bed. Time was of no consequence to me, but to Bella the minutes must have seemed unbearable and I was keeping track of just how many more she would have to suffer through. She was past the half way mark, but it was still too far from the end of the ordeal to reassure her that it was going to be okay. Instead, I allowed her to suffer in silence, suffering alongside her.
I paused for a moment and closed my eyes, trying to filter through the melee of voices in my head. It was a strange, unfamiliar and almost frightening moment when I realized that the only voice there was my own. I couldn’t hear Carlisle’s thoughts, though he was mere inches away from us. I couldn’t hear Esme’s thoughts, though she was sitting in the opposite corner of the room. The rest of the house was silent as well. I furrowed my eyebrows; something wasn’t right.
I didn’t know whether I was simply too wrapped up in Bella’s ordeal to acknowledge the outside thoughts, or whether no one was thinking of anything at the moment, but either way it unnerved me. I’d grown so used to the voices that not having to block them out seemed unnatural.
When I realized what I was thinking about, I reigned in my straying thoughts. I wasn’t what was important at that moment. The important thing was Bella. I had to focus; I had to stay sharp so that I didn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t let her down. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing I hadn’t given her all of my attention while she was undergoing the change; all of the attention she needed.
I glanced over for a moment as Carlisle moved nearer once again, checking Bella for signs that the transformation was progressing. She didn’t respond to his touch at all as he pressed a palm to her forehead, looking unconcerned at her still relatively warm temperature, nor did she respond as he checked her pulse at the neck once again, undoubtedly still feeling it there. I could still hear her heartbeat; she was still human, still my very breakable Bella.
Even with the pain that marred her still features, she was incomparably beautiful. It was hard to imagine she would become even more flawless after the transformation. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t worried, though. Whatever it was that happened, however difficult it would be to get used to at first, I was ready for anything. I was willing to give anything and everything for my Bella.
I sighed softly and ran my free hand through my hair, hearing the clock in the hall chime another hour. Bella was closer to the end than the beginning of her change now. It wouldn’t be much longer.
I ran my fingertips gently over her cooling lips and longed for the moment when they would be full of life again, even if it was a different kind of life. I leaned in and kissed her softly, watching and waiting for her to open her eyes like sleeping beauty, but to no avail.
The clock finished it’s chiming, the eighth note ringing out through the air and hanging in the silence between me and Bella. I held her in my arms, carrying her into the night as she fought to hold on.