Good night, Sister
It is the night before the wedding. Jasper pays Bella a visit to see how she is holding up.
1. Good night, Sister
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2760 Review this Chapter
The air in the Cullen house is crackling with a whirlwind of emotion. Jasper sits in one of the white leather armchairs, the bridge of his nose becoming prey to his thumb and forefinger. Vaguely, he wonders if it is possible for a vampire to get a migraine.
Beside him, Rosalie is tense and apprehensive, though she puts up a good front as she flips absently through the channels on their new high-definition television (Edward finally replaced the one he broke—about time, too). Outside, Emmett, Alice and Carlisle are both excited and anxious as they adjust the tables and chairs, discussing the final details of the reception. Esme is in Carlisle’s study, worrying like any mother would. Nothing in the past few weeks has given them any indication that something will go wrong (Alice certainly hasn’t seen anything amiss), but each of them are certainly on-edge.
And then, there is Edward.
Jasper hasn’t seen his brother since they returned from hunting early this morning. Apart from helping Alice and Carlisle with last-minute preparations, Edward hasn’t left his bedroom. The rest of his family knows him well enough not to bother him with trivialities when he has his music turned up louder than normal. Jasper recognizes the dizzying note patterns of Johannes Brahms floating down from the third floor, and he sighs in resignation. Edward is brooding. Again.
At one point during the evening, Jasper stood before Edward’s bedroom door, contemplating going in and trying to talk to him. But just as he was about to knock, Edward called out, “Leave me alone. Please.” Jasper didn’t bother to persuade him.
Edward and Bella have decided that it would be more prudent for them not to be together the night before their wedding. They have never really been a conventional couple, but since they were trying to do things “right”, they agreed that they would follow tradition just this once. It isn’t easy for them, though. Jasper feels it like a punch to the stomach. Edward is everything but calm. Occasionally, he paces, murmuring under his breath. Other times, he is very still, so much that his siblings wonder if he is still in his room, or if he broke the rules and went to see Bella. Alice has had to debunk that rumour a fair few times.
Jasper stares up at the ceiling contemplatively, his thoughts turning to his soon-to-be sister. Is she just as nervous? Just as anxious?
He glances at his watch. 11:56. She would still be awake. He rises from his seat.
Rosalie looks up at him. “Where are you going?” she asks.
“I need air. The emotion in this house is asphyxiating,” he answers delicately. He strides off before she can reply, before Alice can see him going . . . before Edward can hear his thoughts.
The wind is exhilarating. Jasper runs swiftly, relishing the adrenaline rush that replaces the slew of his family’s unpleasant feelings. Minutes later, he finds himself standing right beneath Bella’s window, which is still open despite the fact that Edward isn’t coming tonight. The house is dark. Charlie is snoring (quite loudly, in fact; Jasper allows himself a smirk), and Bella seems to be reading; he hears the soft rustling of pages and the creak of her bedsprings as she moves. He senses discomfort, worry, and nervousness from her. He hesitates then, wondering if his presence will be welcomed. Will he be able to calm her, not with his talents, but with his words? His company? They haven’t really spoken that much, and he certainly has never gone out of his way to talk to her away from the rest of his family. But if he couldn’t be of help to Edward, then perhaps he could offer some small amount of support to his fiancée? Maybe?
Jasper leans against the tree trunk, thinking. Suddenly, his cell phone vibrates in his pocket. He flips it open. On the screen is a text message from Alice.
“She will thank you for it.”
Smiling slightly, he responds with a quick grateful message back, and then takes a deep unnecessary breath. A split second later, he crouches on the windowsill and slowly pushes the curtains back.
“Edward?” Bella’s voice is laced with surprise and relief. Jasper stifles back a chuckle.
“No, it’s me,” he says, alighting from his perch and landing silently on the floor. The shock on Bella’s face is nothing compared to the invisible wave he receives. She puts her book down—Pride and Prejudice—and sits up straighter on her bed. Jasper answers her question before it escapes her lips.
“Everything is tense back home,” he tells her. “I just wanted to know how you are holding up.”
“Oh.” A blush rises to her face, as usual. The monster stirs within him, but Jasper silences it immediately. He would sooner rip his own head off than attempt to bite her again. Remorse suddenly floods him, as it always does when he recalls the damage he caused. Things between him and Bella (and his brother) have been very smooth since the Cullens’ return to Forks, but he hasn’t really begun to atone for his mistakes. And he deems that utterly unforgivable.
“I hope you don’t mind me seeing you,” he says quietly. “I can leave.” He motions towards the window.
“No! Jasper, it’s all right. I . . . I’m glad you came to see me,” she says quickly, climbing out of bed and walking over towards him. She stands before him hesitantly, and Jasper smiles unevenly at her.
“You don’t have to, Bella. I know you’re frightened of me. And it’s not without reason, either.”
She has always been stubborn; even he knows that. So when she inches forwards and wraps both arms around his torso in a firm hug, Jasper isn’t really as surprised as he is relieved. Carefully, he returns the embrace, squeezing her shoulders gently before letting her go.
“Thank you. You’re way too nice to me for your own good,” he quips with a boyish smile.
“You vampires are too self-deprecating,” she notes as she makes a face, settling back on the bed as she does so. “It’s not like I’m the queen of the universe or anything. I’m not worth feeling worthless over.”
“On the contrary,” disagrees Jasper as he finds his own seat on the old rocking chair in the corner, “you are the queen of my brother’s universe, and I have every right to feel worthless in your presence.” Anguish paints his face. “I haven’t really apologized for what happened last year. Granted, I owe you much more than apologies, but—”
“Stop,” says Bella fiercely. “I’ve forgiven you long ago, Jasper. To be honest with you, I’ve never blamed you for trying to bite me”—they both flinch at her choice of words—“just as I’ve never blamed Edward for leaving. So don’t feel bad, please. There’s nothing to be sorry about.”
He stares at her incredulously. “You’ve never blamed Edward?” he demands. “Never mind me, Bella, but what Edward did was incredibly stupid. Alice told me what happened to you, and we all can never forget Italy.” His eyes flare at this. “Really, Bella, tell me that you were mad at him, at least.”
Her face reddens even further. “It’s different now,” she murmurs, pulling her knees to her chest and resting her chin on top of them. Her eyes beg him to understand. “Now, I’m sure of his feelings for me. Now I know that he loves me, that he’ll never leave me. But at the time, Jasper, it was difficult. He refused to change me. And I didn’t really know whether that was because he was worried I . . . wouldn’t fare well as a vampire, or whether he wasn’t going to keep me for very long, and that he was planning on leaving me because I was a slow, insignificant human. That’s why I never blamed him. When he said goodbye. . . .” She shakes her head, as if trying to get rid of the memory of it.
Jasper can still feel hurt, but it is subdued by conviction and the unfathomably strong love she has for his idiot brother. Sighing softly, he says, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“You aren’t the first to say it, though.” Bella smiles wryly at him. “Charlie, my friends, even Alice, at one point . . . I guess I really must be insane.” She laughs.
He studies her—so innocent, and yet so mature. He sees her allure, though; sees why his brother is so drawn to her. It’s her fragility and her strength, her intelligence and her silliness, and a whole array of other things he, Jasper, never would have thought possible for a human to possess.
“You know, once, when Edward and I were hunting,” he starts, “we came across a field of freesias. And suddenly, it was as if he wasn’t thirsty at all. He just lay there for god knows how long, breathing deeply. When I asked him if he was actually going to hunt at all, he just said, ‘No amount of heaven can compare, Jasper. None.’” He wrinkles his nose at Bella. “Look at what you’ve done. You’ve turned him into a lovesick puppy. I don’t know how I’m going to survive tomorrow.”
If possible, Bella’s face flushes even more, but she wears a similarly disgruntled expression at his last comment. “Isn’t there a way to turn it off?” she asks. “You don’t deserve all that---and especially not my mother’s hysteria.”
Jasper chuckles. “I wish. I’d like to have my own feelings once in a while.”
Bella laughs, too, but then her expression abruptly becomes pensive. He is hit with a small pang of discomfort. “I don’t know if I’m going to survive tomorrow,” she says quietly.
Jasper eyes her warily. “You aren’t having second thoughts, are you?”
She looks as if he slapped her. “No! Of course not. It’s just. . . .” She sighs. “See, before you came, my mom was in here, bawling. And before that, Charlie was trying to have some last-minute bonding. Romeo and Juliet was on HBO, and he wanted to watch it with me.” She bites her lip for a moment. “It’s just . . . tomorrow will be my official goodbye. To all of them. And I don’t know how I’m going to handle that. And Jake. . . .” A ripple of pain rushes through her.
Immediately, Jasper is at her side, putting an arm around her shoulders. As if they’ve been comfortable with each other for a long time, Bella leans against him, resting her head against his arm. He sends a wave of calm over her, and she smiles gratefully.
“Look, Bella,” he says softly, “whatever happens tomorrow, and the days after that, we’ll be there for you. Whatever moral support you need, you have. You’ve been a part of the family even before this whole marriage business. And you should know that, though I’ve never really acted like the best brother in the world, you can come to me from now on. Anything that’s on your mind, don’t hesitate to talk to me. All right?”
Bella nods and pulls away from his embrace. Jasper sees that she is crying. “Thank you,” she says, smiling at him as she wipes her tears away with the back of her hand. Jasper extracts a handkerchief from his jeans pocket and hands it to her. Bella laughs despite herself.
“You’re the first vampire I’ve ever seen carry a handkerchief, you know?” She takes it graciously and dabs at the corners of her eyes.
Jasper laughs as well, and if he had been human, he would have blushed. “It is more of a force of habit than anything else. One can never tell when a little lady will need some extra help,” he says with a slight Southern twang. Bella snorts. When she finishes, she folds the handkerchief carefully and returns it to him.
“I can’t imagine what a vampire would need it for, but thank you.”
“Alice occasionally needs it for touch-ups.”
Bella bursts out laughing. “I forgot. You have Alice for a wife, don’t you?”
Jasper grins as he tucks the handkerchief back into his pocket. “Yes, I do. It’s an interesting existence.” But Bella isn’t paying attention anymore; her head is turned to the open window, a frown gracing her face. He feels anxiety rolling off her, making his sinuses ache.
“How is he?” she murmurs.
“He hasn’t left his room all day,” answers Jasper as he rubs his forehead gingerly. “Well, except for discussing minute details with Alice and Carlisle, he hasn’t spoken to anyone.” She tenses up, and he quickly affixes, “He’s fine, Bella. He’s extremely excited for tomorrow, but nervous at the same time, just like any groom would be. And he’s just a little worried about you, since he can’t be with you tonight. You know how he is. One thing doesn’t go his way and he acts like it’s the end of the world.”
She looks up at him then. “Does he know you’re here?”
“No.” Jasper wrinkles his nose. “I expect he won’t be pleased, but there’s no law that says that the brother cannot visit the sister-in-law-to-be before the wedding. Or at least, I hope not.” He looks away thoughtfully. “I haven’t been to any weddings in a while, but I’m pretty sure the rules haven’t changed.”
“He will still be extremely annoyed, regardless, right?” Bella sighs and slides off the bed and onto the floor.
Jasper watches her curiously. “What are you doing?”
“Making sure that your face is intact for tomorrow,” she replies as she turns the lamp on her desk on and grabs a scrap of paper and a pen. Jasper looks over her shoulder curiously.
“Edward,” she writes. “Please don’t shoot the messenger. I will be very mad at you tomorrow if you do. He was just trying to help. And I love you. Bella.”
Jasper chuckles. “I like the way you think,” he tells her.
“Thanks.” Bella smirks as she folds the paper and hands it to him. “Give it to him before he makes any threats.”
“Yes ma’am.” He takes the note and slides it into his front pocket. He glances at the time. “I guess that’s my cue to leave. It’s late. You should get some rest.”
Bella makes a face. “I probably won’t be able to sleep anyway. Too nervous.”
Jasper rolls his eyes. “Lie down.”
“Lie down, Bella. I’m going to drug you. You, among all people, need your strength tomorrow.”
“Drug me?” she repeats, eyes narrowing.
Jasper sighs. “In a manner of speaking, yes. I’m going to calm you to the point that your body relaxes into a sleepy state,” he explains. “Please, Bella. It’s nearly two in the morning.”
She exhales loudly, but finally acquiesces and crawls under her blanket. “I want to be able to wake up tomorrow, though,” she says, almost accusingly.
“I’ll do what I can.” Jasper smiles impishly at her. “Close your eyes, Bella.” She nods and does what he says. He then closes his own eyes and focuses on transferring a current of tranquility to her. When he finishes, he opens his eyes and finds her snuggling further under the covers, a small sigh escaping her lips.
Shaking his head, he reaches out a hand and pats the top of her head. “Thank you,” she murmurs.
“Good night, Sister,” he whispers with a smile, but she doesn’t hear it; she is already fast asleep. With a final glance at her, he climbs through the window and heads back home.
When he arrives, he senses indignation licking at him like flames. He greets his brother at the bottom of the staircase. The look on Edward’s face is priceless. Before he gets the chance to go into a full-blown tirade, Jasper whips out the note and brandishes it in his face. “I am innocent,” he says.
Glaring, Edward snatches the paper from his hands and begins to read. Jasper takes this time to slip away to the living room. Alice and Rosalie are sitting on the couch, watching What Not To Wear on TLC.
“How was it?” asks Alice with a bright smile. Jasper rolls his eyes at her and kisses the top of her head.
“You know better than I do,” he says in reply.
Suddenly, Edward is beside him, an unreadable look on his face. Jasper, however, can feel relief, irritation and gratitude coming off him. “I hope you didn’t tire her out,” he says stiffly.
“Leave me alone, Edward,” snaps Jasper, settling himself next to Alice. But he sends Edward an image of Bella falling asleep and a silent thought. She needed some help. She was really worried about you.
Edward smiles this time. “Thanks.” Then he disappears back upstairs.
“Teenagers,” mutters Jasper under his breath. Beside him, Alice giggles.