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Scenes from a Fireplace

With five charms and one kiss, he takes away more than he can every replace. [edward/tanya]

Written for The Tanya Fic Challenge at edwardtanya. Okay, so I read a lot of bitch!Tanya, which I like, and a lot of Tanya breaking Edward’s heart, which I like. But I thought for my first Edward/Tanya fic, I’d go in rather the opposite direction. I hope you’ll enjoy my offering! The excerpts are from Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream.”

1. Scenes from a Fireplace

Rating 0/5   Word Count 1546   Review this Chapter

    In visions of the dark night
    I have dreamed of joy departed--

Her fingers skim over the fire, watching it shiver around her skin. She wonders how it might look with a twist of purple, but never stutters. Tanya pulls her hand from the flames and listens to his approaching footsteps. A hymn ripples out from her chest, his favorite, as she waits: legs curled, fingers drumming over the floor.

“We’re leaving tomorrow,” he tells her. Slowly she rolls onto her back, her hair a pool of fire-licked blonde about her. His eyes reflect the flames perfectly. The blood of his victims is dying and dark, the peeled skin of rotten apples.

He hears this thought and sighs. “Don’t think like that. It’s not beautiful or poetic.”

Fingers splayed over her collarbone, wondering if he’s remarking on the flawless gold of her eyes, she says, “Of course it is. That’s why it hurts.” She supports herself on her hip and elbow, cradling her head in her palm. “All beautiful things hurt, dear.”

The air rushes out of him again, and something like pain flickers across his face. “We’re leaving tomorrow,” he says again.

Tomorrow doesn’t exist for Tanya, much like yesterday. Time is a seamless blend of everything and nothing that splits in one place: the present. She lives only in that sliver of never.

“I want you to have this.” He kneels to the floor and takes her wrist from where it rests at her waist. Cold metal clips around it, a linked chain upon which sparkle five porcelain charms: a tuneless bell, a music note, a rose, a feather, and a heart. “It was my mother’s.”

She eyes it curiously, turning her arm to watch it catch the firelight. “You want me to remember you by a bracelet?”

“No,” he says. His fingers close around hers, his other hand tracing lightly the line of her throat to her jaw. “I want you to remember me by this.”

She pulls him down, down, down. They make love so close to the fire that it singes their clothing before they can rip it apart themselves. Edward kisses her lips, her cheeks, the sweet spot of skin under her ear. She draws her nails along his arms and back, longing to burn away the air around them. Without even a squeal, the bell is crushed between his flesh and hers, but neither notices.

    But a waking dream of life and light
    Hath left me broken-hearted.

Sometimes, she’ll sit in the ashes of the cold hearth and hum. The song curves against the blackened stone, then bounces back toward her to be slit in two by a new note. So many different melodies are whistling around her that she can almost hear words, lyrics she could never write on her own. The moment her mouth moves to form them, it all breaks into piano keys and your lullaby, and she cushions brick to her lips to forget the taste of memories.

With ashes on her eyelashes, she’s blinked and four years have slipped away. She knows by the date of the letter, which begins with Denali and ends with love, Carlisle.

Tanya slips the music note from the silver chain and puts it to her tongue. The paint is tart, the varnish sour. Before her chest is rocked by empty sobs, she crunches it between her teeth and spits it into the fireplace. She uses the legs of an old piano for tinder, and starts the fire with a crumpled Edward sends his best.

They all know Edward has sent nothing at all.

    Ah! what is not a dream by day
    To him whose eyes are cast

Rosalie is a child, afraid and unrefined at the edges. She sits in the snow for hours, staring out at the white skyline, waiting for her lips to miraculously blush red again.

It’s only for a little while. Considering what’s happened to her… it’s best she’s not around men for the first few weeks. Thank you so much.

Carmen is the mother, and Tanya only a plaything for when Rosalie grows tired of her own apathy. She wanders into the house, tracking snow and misery, and finds Tanya arranging pictures on a mantle.

“Your bracelet is missing a charm,” she remarks tonelessly.

“Thank you,” Tanya says with as much emotion.

Tanya feels Rosalie’s fingerprints in her wrist, so unaccustomed is the newborn to her strength. Tanya doubts she’d lighten her grip if she knew. “Edward gave this to you, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” she says evenly.

Rosalie answers the question unasked: “Esme has something similar. I suspect I’ll be getting mine soon.”

“And what leads you to think that?”

Rosalie challenges her stare for a moment, but her bravado quickly withers. She releases Tanya’s wrist, and though her glare is gone, her voice remains hard as stone. “It seems he’ll give them to just anybody.”

The bracelet doesn’t glow, but suddenly the metal burns. “Sad that you’re nobody then, isn’t it?”

The blonde rounds, venom in her touch and her tongue as she pins Tanya to the brick. Her teeth hover over Tanya’s throat, searching for a pulse-point that doesn’t exist.

“You wouldn’t call me that,” she hisses, “if you could see the way he looks at me. I don’t need to read his thoughts, just his eyes.”

Tanya waits for Rosalie to release her, breath locked somewhere between her lips and lungs. Finally, the subtle graze of her teeth vanishes and she backs away. As she leaves, she catches the last dregs of sunlight: her hair flashes white-hot. In Tanya, there flares the memory of her own hair against the snow, faded blonde by the blinding white, and Edward’s eyes, the color of bloodied brass.

Tanya takes the rose between her fingers and rolls it slowly to dust.

    On things around him with a ray
    Turned back upon the past?

He returns to her with different clothes, different eyes, but the same fear. It glows so brightly in him she can almost reach right in and pluck it out. Almost.

He tells her of the Swan, and all she thinks are plaster wings and moonlight spells. Out of habit she begins to hum. He silences her with a glare and immediately apologizes – but she won’t sing again.

“Where is the piano?” he asks.

“There was a fire,” she says simply.

Tanya hides her wrists in long sleeves, hoping he won’t notice two charms’ feeble attempt at music. He seems not to, gaze only darting as far as her lips and then he shuts his eyes sharply, as if pained. She wants to ask why he won’t just slide his hands under the collar of her shirt and tear it away, but she doesn’t have to. He hears her well enough and keeps the answer to himself.

“I don’t know what to do,” he growls after three days of absolutely nothing.

She thinks again of a woman in white, pointed toes poised over a pond as smooth as glass. Her own feet are ill-trained and only beautiful when bare and flat to the ground. She thinks of a swan’s song, so replete that it needn’t words, and the lonely circles spun by a dancer without her partner. There is no tomorrow for Tanya, but there is for Edward, and she can feel it almost as surely as she can her own useless heart.

“You have to go back,” she tells him, practiced fingers slipping the feather into his pocket.

All Alaska’s lakes are ice, cold and impenetrable. Where he’s going, they’re warm enough to drown in.

    That holy dream--that holy dream,
    While all the world were chiding,

The Swan looks lovely in white, even glossy and trapped in a photograph. Edward’s smile is so sickeningly unfamiliar that it has Tanya turning the frame down every time she enters the room.

The fire is volatile, licking at the chimney and toeing past the iron bars that bind it. It reflects off the mirrors of Tanya’s pale body. Against the weak silver links at her wrist, it flares in star-like bursts so bright they hurt her aged eyes.

The little heart is scuffed and chipped, delicately lain between the lines of her palm. She places it to where her heartbeat might be and closes her eyes and thinks, far from where anyone might hear her.

Tanya wonders how much it would hurt to dig her fingernails into her ribs and find the largest, most hollow chamber for the charm to rest in. See if humanity and mortality are synonymous by the way her body reacts: if it pushes it out, a foreign disease, or if the marble merely closes over it and allows it to fill a fragment of the space inside.

She sighs and her hand drops to her side; the heart makes a whisper of sound as it hits the floor. Her eyes flicker to the fire once before she goes, fingers steady over the doorknob. The flames glow against the wood, as if calling her back.

But Tanya understands too well that it has never warmed her, though she doesn’t know why. An empty room where the fire dies… This, and only this, Tanya knows.

    Hath cheered me as a lovely beam,
    A lonely spirit guiding.