“Goodbye, Bella.” He whispered, before closing his eyes again. His hand began to lose its grip on mine, and I held it tightly to me like it could somehow stop him from leaving me. Bella has always known this day would come, but that hasn't prepared her any better for it. Can she handle saying a final goodbye to someone so important in her human life, whilst she lives on forever? And why is Edward absent in her hour of need?
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“Bella,” A voice mingled with fury and worry in equal parts called. “What on earth are you doing?”
I spun around to the sound, but by the time I had he was already in front of me. He caught the match effortlessly and extinguished it between his perfectly manicured fingers.
“Edward.” I gasped, putting my arms around his neck and leaning into his marble chest. It was so good to see him here, now. I could hardly remember why I’d asked him not to come. The darkness that had been building up inside of me dissipated as he held me in his arms. Still, I didn’t want to look into his eyes just yet… mine were hopelessly easy to read. They could give more answers to his initial question than I ever wanted his to know.
I could almost hear his thoughts as he looked around the ruined living room. It seemed empty and wrong without Charlie burning a hole in the couch. With one swift movement he picked me up, cradling me with both arms, and flew off up the stairs to my room. He settled me on the bed without a word, then knelt down in front of me.
“Bella,” He said again through pressed lips, lifting up my chin so I had to look into his angry, worried eyes. “Tell me why you were going to do this.”
“The wolves…” I began evenly, pulling my face out of his grasp so I could look at the floor again. “Jared gave me-”
“I know what he did, I was there.” Edward told me impatiently. “Why did you agree to it? This was your home for so long, it has so many memories of you and Charlie… How could you destroy that?”
I sucked in a breath of air sharply and tried to tune out his perfect voice. I knew what I had to say. I even think part of him knew what I had to say. It would just make it too real, to do it.
“This is upsetting you, I want to help.” He told me slowly. I could hear the worry in his voice. He was waiting for the wailing, the breakdown he had seen when I had turned down Jake, when I told Charlie and Renée I couldn’t see them anymore, when he left me... Then again he had just watched me try to set a house on fire. With me still inside. I guess what he’d said meant he’d seen everything at the hospital. I wondered how I’d ever thought he’d leave me to do this by myself. I could have walked right by his silver Volvo in that parking lot and not seen him at all. Perhaps if I’d looked out of the hospital window, I would have seen Edward watching Charlie die.
What mattered was that he was here now. His ancient, golden eyes watched my heart break again.
“Bella, you’re scaring me, please.” Edward begged. The action was so glorious, his butterscotch irises stunning me through his thick eyelashes, that for a moment I didn’t comprehend what he was saying. I realised that I hadn’t spoken for several minutes.
“The wolves knew that while the house is here, there’s a risk I’ll come back and break the treaty.” I explained, though he’d know this already from Paul and Jared’s thoughts. Still, it was easier to tell him this than to answer his first question. “They thought that it might as well be me who lit the match. They were going to frame me for it, whatever happened.” Through the fog that was my mind, I somehow managed to make the last part sound indignant.
It didn’t have the desired effect. Edward didn’t give the tiniest smile. Yet even angry, he was the most beautiful thing I could imagine.
“What I meant was,” He asked quietly, “Why did you have to be inside the house when it was destroyed?”
I closed my eyes for the longest time. When I opened them, they were still dry. No tear escaped as I whispered.
“Because I’ll never see Charlie again.”
Edward nodded slowly, pulling me into the heavenly circle that was his strong, protecting arms. I curled up, so that I was hugging my knees whilst I shook with useless, dry sobs that hurt me so much. I tugged at his shirt uselessly, trying to bury myself in every part of him I could touch.
“I asked him… I asked him to become one of us.” I confessed, keeping my eyes down so I couldn’t see his expression.
Edward froze for a second, his arms gripped almost painfully around me. Then I heard him breathe out, trying to find something to say.
“You could have done that?” He murmured softly in the hollow of my ear.
I shivered involuntarily, remembering my own transformation. I pulled myself closer to him and stretched my face up hungrily. The kiss we shared was short, but it helped take away the thoughts of Charlie feeling such pain for so long...
“I don’t know,” I sighed, settling back into his embrace. “If it would have kept him with me, maybe.”
We were silent for a long time after that. My mind drifted back over all the time we had spent here, huddled together in this little room. I looked over at the dusty computer, untouched by Charlie, and thought of my search for vampires. The books on the shelf; WutheringHeights, MansfieldPark, Romeo and Juliet- each held a little part of our story within them, too.
Eventually the sky outside darkened, with purples and pinks emanating from the horizon as they celebrated the end of another day. Another Twilight- though this one could have a very sinister end.
“We should leave,” Edward said, half asking me and half reminding. I nodded, but made no effort to worm out of his embrace. Eventually he slid me off his knee so that I had to stand behind him.
“Do you want to take anything from here?” He asked quickly, not meeting my eyes. Anything that stopped me being so tied to Forks was a good thing. I nodded, taking the books from the shelf and the picture of me and my parents from my bedside table. I dropped them into a rucksack Charlie had bought me that hung by the door and let him lead me outside.
I took the matches from my pocket again and tried to strike one as Edward pulled me outside. My hands shook like leaves and I kept dropping the tiny pieces of wood. I tried striking three at a time, mumbling about why they had to be so small.
His perfect face was clouded by indecision. Each time I lit a match, his brow furrowed over. It straightened out the second I dropped the damn thing, until I reached for the next one.
“You know you don’t have to do this, Bella.” Edward sighed, obviously perplexed. He stopped me still with his questioning gaze and took the box of matches from my hands. “The wolves can’t make you; this was your home.”
“Was being the operative word, Edward.” I muttered, trying to snatch the box back., He just whisked them out of my reach like I was a five year old. “Just give me the damn matches.” I growled.
“Not until you tell me why this has to be done.” He asked articulately, “All your memories with Charlie are here, some of my favourite memories with you are here. Why would you want to destroy all that on Jacob Black’s say so?”
My arms dropped at the mention of Jake’s name. All the fight went out of me as all the strength went from my usually infallible legs. I landed lightly on the porch step, with a little help from Edward. His strong, steely hands gripped my upper arm guided me to the ground and he repeated my name, once, twice, like a dog bark. Or a wolf...
I closed my eyes and spoke out in a rush.
“If it’s here, I’ll come back.” I explained slowly, wishing for him to understand straightaway. “I can’t keep myself tied to Forks like this. It’s bad for me. It’s bad for everyone.”
I opened my eyes the tiniest bit to see if Edward understood who I meant by ‘everyone’. The look on his face told me I didn’t need to repeat it.
“You still… still think of him?” Edward asked, stammering over the words he found so hard to say. I closed my eyes tightly again, refusing to see what this was doing to him.
“Only when I’m here.” I reassured him quickly, but I could tell he thought I was lying. “That’s why this has to be done.” I chided, hoping that now he would see all this from my point of view.
I heard the harsh crackle of the match as it lit, spitting and hissing its way into the world. The little ball of flame-hate felt strangely warm as it licked against my icy skin, so much so that I didn’t want to let it go. My perfect senses let me throw it through the open door and land it exactly on the gasoline covered couch, even with my eyes closed. I felt Edward slip his hand into mine and start to lead me away. I had lost so much today. Keeping my eyes closed made it so much easier to imagine that this was all a dream…
It was then I felt the teardrop on my cheek.
I gasped, loud and theatrically enough for Edward to turn. With a triumphant look, I slid the tiny bead of moisture onto my finger and lifted it to show him. I somehow managed to sob and laugh at the same time, the emotions fighting for control of me. I had no idea what this meant, but if it meant that I could cry again… then surely it could only be good things?
He examined the droplet for a moment, leaning in, and then he moved so fast that I barely registered what he was doing. Suddenly the finger I had been holding aloft was settled between his marble lips.
He sucked on it slowly for a moment, before he took it from his mouth and let go. My hand fluttered back down to my side. I tried to get him to speak, to tell me what this meant but he simply placed an icy finger to my lips to silence me. His bronze hair had fallen forward, masking his eyes. He moved a step closer with his head bent, as if he were about to kiss me…
Instead he traced my jaw line with one finger and lifted my chin, so that I was gazing into the zenith of rain clouds above us.
At least the heavens cried as my father died again.