Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Juxtaposition

Summary:
Edward/Bella. Edward POV. Reality turns on its ear and you have no choice but to forget everything you think you know about Twilight. Is it AU? I guess you'll just have to read to find out.


Notes:


15. Sacrificial Lamb

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1441   Review this Chapter

PART FIFTEEN: Sacrificial Lamb

[Edward POV]

There was heat, brutal and all-consuming. A surge of light and energy unlike anything I've ever experienced. My body moved of its own accord, sheltering in the farthest corner of the elevator's shell. My mind was still lost in the moment. That perfect moment of destruction when the flame had caressed her like a lover and she welcomed it with her sweet smile. With passionate urgency, it swallowed her down, consuming the silk of her hair until it too was a part of the flames. And still, she had smiled that soft and peaceful smile. An angel given wings of fire before she ascended into heaven.

Until finally, in a heartbeat, she was gone.

Had it only been a moment ago that I'd watched her, whole and lovely, fighting a desperate battle against my one-time sister? Had it only been hours ago that we'd last touched? When her lips had caressed my brow like a blessing. I'd never kissed her, never truly held her, always holding myself back for the memory. Where was that memory now, when the fire rained down and the world ended? What was that precious thing that I'd traded an angel for? I couldn't remember. The fire and the heat were consuming me too, from the inside out.

Mortality dragged me down, the heat and smoke outside the elevator doors making a death trap of my shelter. Weak and without purpose, I welcomed it. Come then, death, if you would leave me with nothing of life worth living. To hell or heaven with me, I didn't care. Darkness was coming, and it could have every unworthy piece of me, the very best that I could hope for now would be sweet oblivion. Perhaps then there would be no more fiery angels to torment me.

"Edward..." Ah, so it was to be hell, then? With little demons come to whisper to me in sweet voices. "Edward, please." A hand cradled the back of my head, lifted it. "Drink Edward." The cup was placed to my lips, and I could smell the bouquet of its contents. Sweet, rich, such a delicious, heady scent and yet so hauntingly familiar. Then my lips were urged apart and I tasted it. Like a man dying of thirst, I swallowed down that sweet elixir, savoring the warm strength of it as it sang down my throat. I drank down a second mouthful, and then a third. With every sip I felt stronger, more myself, as though waking from a long sleep. "That's right," her voice said. "Good."

Her voice. I fought to hold onto that lifeline, suddenly certain that voice was important beyond measure. It had been so long since I'd heard it. Other voices had come and gone, but never once had this voice spoken to me. Until now. The voice, and the taste, it drew me in, and I shivered like an addict gone too long without a fix. The need was painful, thirst burning its way through my veins. Like the fire that had eaten Isabel alive.

I drew back, violently shaking my head, gasping for breath. I pushed at the cup, at her wrist, fighting between hunger and nausea. I was drowning, pulled down by memories, by need.

"I'm here." Her voice was full of tears now. "Edward, I'm here. Look at me, Edward. Look at me."

At her command, I wrenched my eyes open, looking up into her face. "Bella..."

"Yeah." Her warm, soft hand stroked my face, her beautiful brown eyes spilling over with tears. "It's me."

For a long moment I was frozen, staring up at her face as though to memorize every line and curve. Then I reached out for her, pulled her down to my chest. I could still smell the blood, but it meant next to nothing compared to her presence. I buried my face in her hair, inhaled her scent, rubbed my cool cheek against her deliciously warm one as though I could could take away a little of that scent for myself. Her name was like a prayer, whispered against her neck, her ear, her soft, sweet lips. "I love you," I whispered fervently, framing her face in my hands.

"I love you, too." Like warm rain, her tears fell on my face. "I'm not sure I can ever tell you how much... Or show you." Some intense sadness shuddered through her, and she closed her eyes, leaning into my caress.

"Isabel..." Her name was painful to say.

"I know," Bella sobbed, more tears spilling over. The how and why of it didn't matter, I was too grateful to be understood, to be able to hold close this precious woman and to know her grief echoed mine, that her tears were shed for us both. To grieve, and to feel no remorse for having shared something worth grieving for.

For seven days I had been lost to them. The night of the attack, the vampire I'd fought had possessed a power like mine, like Alice and Jasper's. The power to lock his victim into illusions created by their own mind, making them docile, easy prey. He had escaped that night and, thinking he might be the key to my lingering state of unconsciousness, my family had hunted him down. But not even his death had released me.

Only Isabel's sacrifice, and Bella's gamble, had been able to do that.

They were grateful to have me back, as grateful as I was to be there. But it was difficult to speak of my experience, even with Bella. I found it hard to accept that what I'd been through, the things I'd seen and the people I'd met, were simply a dream. How could I possibly think a soul as lovely and pure as Isabel was simply a product of my own imagining? There was also the secret that Bella had reluctantly shared, that she and Isabel had communicated, that Bella had shared some of Isabel's experiences and seen through her eyes.

None of it was simple, and I refused to let it be.

The only answer I may ever have came to me on a quiet afternoon in the meadow. Our meadow. The sun was shining, dancing in the facets of my skin and casting rainbows. Some time ago, our idle conversation had drifted to quiet when Bella fell asleep, curled up against my side. I listened to her breathe, to the steady rhythm of her heartbeat, and contemplated the fluffy white clouds adrift in the blue skies above us.

This is a beautiful place. She sat down beside me, her skin casting rainbows like mine, her long hair like a silken cloak down her back.

"It is," I murmured.

I'm glad. Her voice was warm, soft. That there are places like this in the world. That you have someone to share them with.

"I should thank you for that."

She laughed, a silvery sound, like bells chiming. Thank me for something else. Not for returning what was never mine to begin with.

"Wasn't it?" My voice was strangely wistful. "Couldn't it have been, if things had been different?"

Don't say things like that. They're not fair to either of us. There was no bitterness in her voice, only peace. I found I was deeply thankful for that.

I took a deep breath, and then asked the question I most needed answered. "Was it worth it?"

The beautiful smile curved her lips, and she lifted a graceful hand to tuck dark hair behind her ear. Yes.

I smiled too, it was impossible not to. "I don't believe you."

That's your burden to bear. Not mine. I closed my eyes, and felt her cool lips press a kiss to my forehead. Be happy. Make her happy. As long as you do those things, it will always be worth it.

"I will try."

She laughed again. And I will hold you to it. Then she was silent... and the day felt just a little cooler, the sun a little less bright.

That was how I knew, even before I opened my eyes again, that she was gone. An angel, a spirit, a particularly sweet dream, I had no name for what she had been. But I turned on my side and looked into Bella's sweetly sleeping face, and knew that I would make it my life's work to keep our promise. "Sleep well, angel," I whispered, stroking Bella's face.

Sleep well.