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NM Alternate Ending

Summary:
It's page 449 of the hard-back version of New Moon. Bella is running across the plaza in Italy. She has to get to Edward before the clock chimes. Before the Volturi do. His life depends on it. This time Bella stumbles and doesn't get there in time. What will happen to Edward now? Will Alice make it out of Volterra and keep her promise to Jasper? Will Bella be able to survive, thinking she's failed... alone in Volterra?


Notes:
So, you remember of course, in New Moon, Bella is running for her (and his) life toward the place where Alice saw Edward would be. It’s a race against time and she’s fighting the crowd…


14. Chapter 14

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Elizabeth had kind eyes. I’d never thought that about a vampire that wasn’t a Cullen, but she did. Despite being bright crimson, they were wide and innocent. I found myself trusting them, even with part of me screaming against that idea. I wanted to like her, without knowing why. She was tall, like Victoria, but I wasn’t frightened as she towered over me.

I was comforted by this, until I saw Jasper file into the room behind her, and I realized that most of the comfort I was feeling was probably coming from him. He looked into my face with a mixture of pity and apology. I realized I hadn’t seen him since my eighteenth birthday party. It seemed so long ago.

Alice followed him in. She was clinging to his arm. She also looked at me, but her expression was devastated. It was difficult to be frightened though, with Jasper sending me waves of reassurance.

Carlisle came into the room last, his eyes were on the ground and he didn’t look at me.

“Jasper, Alice, Carlisle!” Aro rose to meet them. “I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave, this is a private matter.”

Carlisle walked forward, he stood beside me as he faced Aro. “We just wanted to tell you that we’ve decided to go home after all.”

They were leaving? Now?

“Jasper, Alice, and I have decided that we’re not needed here any longer, like you said, and we want to return to the rest of our family.”

Aro smiled. If he was surprised, he hid it well. “Good. Good. I think that is a wise decision. You many leave this city in peace, my friends. You may return at any time and, as you know Carlisle, there will always be a place for you among us. But be warned my young friends, I will not hesitate to destroy all of you if there is another incident like the one you took part in a year ago. You are lucky, that I have decided to allow Bella to justify your actions.”

I knew I should have felt alarm at these words, but the feelings of comfort Jasper sent me made it impossible to be frightened.

At these words Carlisle turned around and walked toward the door. Jasper pulled Alice along in his path and our eyes met, not even Jasper’s power could comfort me from what I saw in Alice’s expression.

The door closed behind them and my hands began to shake.

“Alec, fetch Edward… and Demetri too. He requested to be here for this.”

With a small smile Alec also left the room. Aro’s expression when he finally looked at me again was bored.

“Does your hand hurt Bella?” He lowered his eyes to the hand hanging limply from my side.

It was oddly numb. Like my vocal chords, and every other part of me. I didn’t answer.

“Bella, you may think that not replying to my questions will somehow protect you, but I’m afraid it only angers me and makes me that much more determined for an answer… So I will ask you again. Does your hand hurt?”

I shook my head.

That seemed to be enough for him. “There, see?” He said. “It’s not so hard to cooperate.”

There was a scuffling in the hallway. Alec appeared a moment later followed by Demetri who was holding Edward by the back of the next and forcing him into the room.

“Edward!” I shrieked. Unable to stop myself, I ran to him, desperate to close the distance that was between us.

A large hand shot up when I was close, it hit me in the chest. I fell to the ground. Demetri had reached up to stop me from getting to Edward. Hot bolts of fire and pain were shooting up my arm now. I fought to hold back the screams that were suddenly in my throat. On reflex, I had put both arms back to brace my fall, now I could feel the broken bones screaming in protest.

“Bella!” Edward pulled against the strong arm holding him back. “Let me go!” He growled at Demetri, who ignored him.

There was a quiet chuckling behind me, I didn’t need to turn around to know that it was Aro, who found our pain amusing.

“Get up, Bella.” He demanded. “Elizabeth, help her.”

I felt cold hands under my arms and I was standing a moment later, facing Edward. He was looking at me with a tortured expression, then his eyes focused on the woman behind me and his eyes widened in alarm.

“Why is she here?” He demanded. “She doesn’t need to be here, Bella will never tell our secret. Elizabeth isn’t necessary.”

Aro floated toward us until he was standing near Edward.

“On the contrary, she is quite necessary. In your absence Bella has demonstrated a vexing display of stubbornness, which needs to be dealt with. I need to know where’s she has been and she refuses to tell me. She’s protecting someone.”

Edward was watching Elizabeth, horrified. “No.” He begged. “Please, it doesn’t have to come to this.”

Aro leaned into Edwards face, “It does, and let me tell you why.

“First of all, this could all have been avoided if you would have abided by the rules of our kind. When we are discovered by a human we have two choices, Edward. Either to destroy them, or to change them. You have failed to do either, and you have allowed her to continue in her human life. What’s more, you left her unsupervised with no intention of keeping tabs on her. She may have already told many our secret without us having any way of knowing because is immune to our ability to read her mind. You killed another of our kind for her sake. Because of you, she has made her way into this city. She has been here for days without any of us knowing her whereabouts. She is refusing to cooperate. I fail to see another alternative but to allow Elizabeth to use the unique ability she has with humans until Bella tells us where she has been. That will be Bella’s punishment for her uncooperative behavior. You’re punishment will be to watch this. If you interfere, Jane will punish you as well. When we are finished here, Alec will be allowed to feed on Bella’s blood and you will be allowed to go.”

Edward looked at me and I felt myself falling apart. His broken expression was breaking my heart.

“No.” He choked. His eyes never leaving mine. For this moment I wanted to believe that he was feeling for me what I had never ceased to feel for him. Unyielding love.

“Yes, Edward. And if you try to interfere, her pain will be even worse.” Aro turned to me then, “Now Bella… Tell Elizabeth where you have been hiding.”

The tall female walked around me until we were facing on another. She leaned down until we were eyelevel and waited for my response.

My voice sounded rough, like sandpaper. “I can’t.” It was barely a whisper.

“Yes you can.” She replied, her voice light and soft. Landing on my ears like feathers. Her pleasant countenance made me want to grant her request, but Alice’s words were still fresh in my mind. I had to protect my friends.

“No.” I looked into her face and watched her eyes grow dark.

“No Bella! Don’t look at her!” Edward cried out desperately, but it was too late. My body was already on fire.

Elizabeth’s power attacked my nervous system. Every joint, every limb, every cell felt like it was burning. For one wild moment, I imagined that this must be what it feels like to change from human to vampire. It felt like my skin was being peeled away from my bones. I was vaguely aware of voices and movement around me, but I could not focus on anything but the pain. I didn’t even know if I was screaming.

It stopped. I was on the ground at Elizabeth’s feet. I was sweating and tears were streaming down my face. I didn’t try to get up. I repeated Alice’s words over and over. I was determined to protect Lazzaro, despite this torture.

“Bella, Bella, Bella.” I looked over to see Edward on his knees, his face crumpled as he watched me, he was saying my name over and over as he fought against Demetri‘s grasp.

Aro bent down and smiled at me. “You don’t want to feel that again, do you Bella. So now I will ask you again. Where have you been? Who hid you?”

“I was alone.” I whispered. “No one hid me.”

“That’s a lie, my dear.” Aro stood straight and shrugged in Elizabeth’s direction. “Do it again.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and braced myself. It was worse the second time, I couldn’t even breathe. “You will survive this.” Alice had said. “You will survive this.”

I gasped when it was over, and tried to control the trembling all over. I felt sick to my stomach.

“Stop it!” Edward was yelling. “Stop! Leave her alone, she didn’t hurt you, she didn’t betray our secret. She wouldn’t! If you want to hurt someone, hurt me, just leave her alone!”

“I am hurting you, Edward.” Aro replied calmly. “That’s the beauty of love. In hurting her, I hurt you at the same time. It’s a fascinating concept.”

Aro said that Edward loved me? He was mistaken, Edward’s pain was born from guilt. I knew he didn’t love me anymore, he had made that clear. This pain was almost bearable next to the memory of that day.

Demetri kept one arm gripping Edwards, and placed the other on Aro’s shoulder. Aro closed his eyes as he received whatever thought it was that Demetri wanted to communicate. I saw Edward stiffen and watch the exchange carefully. I continued to try to regain my composure. The pain Elizabeth gave me didn’t linger, now the only pain I felt was in my heart and in my hand. The latter seemed miniscule in comparison.

Aro opened his eyes wide and turned to Demetri. “I’m sorry my friend, I had no idea! Of course! And of course Alec will understand. I wish you would have told me sooner, but I guess you’re still fairly new to our ways, you couldn’t have known. Don’t worry friend, it can’t be much longer.” Then he turned to Alec who had wandered out of the shadows at the mention of his name. “I’m sorry Alec, but it seems that Bella’s blood sings for Demetri. I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for our next victim.”

Alec seemed slightly disappointed, but bowed his head in acceptance. “Yes Master, then if it’s alright with you I will go on about my duties.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you Alec.”

The small vampire walked toward his sister and lovingly stroked her cheek once before exiting the room.

Aro returned his attention to me. “This is your last chance Bella. If you tell me who you’ve been with, I will consider not killing you and I will change you instead. You will be able to stay with Edward for all eternity.”

Edward was glaring at Aro. “No!” He begged. I felt my heart break a little more to know that Edward didn’t want Aro to change me.

“Edward.” Aro shook his head. “She can’t stay human, surely you see that.”

“Please Aro,” Edward begged. “Please just let her go. She has kept our secret for so long already.”

“No Edward. Either she will cooperate and be changed, or she will die.” Aro turned to me. “Which will it be Bella? Will you reveal your whereabouts?”

It took a moment to find my resolve. I thought about Lazzaro’s kind blue eyes, his daughter Alessa, and I shook my head.

The pain this time was shockingly worse. It engulfed me with a new force and I could even hear myself shrieking. Death now would be a sweet relief.

“Very well.” The pain ended and Aro’s voice cut through the ringing in my ears. “If that’s what you want.” I realized that through my shrieks, I had been begging to die.

“Jane, go and tell my brothers that we will have to heighten security until we know the identity of the man who helped Bella. She will not reveal him to us and so Demetri will destroy her. Edward will watch and then he will join his family. May this memory follow you forever Edward, as a reminder to abide by our laws.”

Demetri finally release Edward and he ran to my side. He hands trembled as he brushed my sweaty hair from my face. Edward cupped my face in his hands and looked deep into my eyes. The look was so intense that it almost hurt. His expression was devastated, broken; but there was something in his eyes that confused me. Something that he was trying to communicate.

It almost looked like hope.