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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…


17. Chapter 17

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2054   Review this Chapter

I was disconnected.

That was the only way to describe it. I knew I had feelings, I knew I had questions; millions of them. I knew I was tired and sore, that we were still in danger. I wasn’t completely unaware of the way my broken hand was throbbing…

But it all felt so far away.

I wasn’t connected to my body anymore. I wasn’t connected to the present, I wasn’t worried about the future. I didn’t even feel connected to my past; Renee, Charlie, Jacob… they all felt like they belonged to someone else, like they were totally unrelated to me. I felt like someone else or like a bystander in my own head, my own life.

I was indifferent to my surroundings, even to Edward, who was holding on to me tightly as we hurried at nearly human speed through the winding alleys of Volterra. He glanced at me periodically with looks of concern. Sometimes I returned his gaze with what must have been a blank expression, sometimes I just watched over his shoulder as the buildings wound out of view behind us. It didn’t matter. I didn’t know what mattered anymore.

I didn‘t have anything left.

~>*<~

There was a car waiting for us near the wall that was just left of the city gate. It looked like something a retired doctor would drive. It was black, shiny, four-door sedan. Carlisle approached it and I heard the jingle of keys. It had just occurred to me that, although it looked roomy, there was no way that we would all fit. Then Carlisle popped open the trunk and without any discussion at all, Rosalie walked forward and folded herself gracefully inside of it. Emmett climbed in after her, and Carlisle shut the trunk door over them. I felt Edward’s eyes on my face, gauging my reaction. I couldn’t find one inside of me. I knew I normally would have been shocked, I would have asked if they were okay in there. I would have pointed out that it was dangerous, against the law, and unnecessary. A different Bella, the old Bella, would have said these things and Edward would have told me not to be absurd, that they would be perfectly fine. Even in a near hysterical state I would have at least found it amusing. I felt nothing, I didn‘t care.

Alice and Jasper were already in the back seat and Esme had slid into the passenger seat.

“Bella?” Edward whispered anxiously when my expression was unchanged.

I looked at him, trying to find myself enough to answer. I came up empty.

“You’re going to be alright.” It sounded like he was trying to convince himself. He walked us toward the door that Alice was holding open. “It’s almost over.”

Over. I knew that word.

It’s over.

I looked over and the younger one was watching me with a look of mild confusion.

I tripped over my own feet on my way to the empty seat.

He looks you over like you’re something to eat.

I’m head over heels.

He leaned over the hospital bed and kissed me on the forehead.

It was over in an instant, they were dragging Jasper through the back door and out of sight.

Edward and Bella are over.

Bella can’t get over him.

She went over the cliff and I didn’t see her come up.

Why do you hold your arms over your chest like that?

It’s been over six months, he’s not coming back.

Why couldn’t Lazzaro understand? It was over, I was too late. I had failed.

I can’t take this pain, just let it be over.

“It’s almost over.”

I nodded without understanding and let him set me down on the backseat next to Alice. I felt her eyes on my face and her tiny arms wrapped around my shoulders.

“Just go to sleep, Bella.” She whispered. “It’s been a bad dream, it will all be over when you wake up.”

Over.

I hated that word.

~>*<~

Most of the rest of that night was a blur.

We drove quickly and at first there was nothing but silence. I watched lights and shapes flew meaninglessly past us. They began to talk quickly, their voices surrounding me, but it was a long time before I started listening. Before their words began to make sense. I fought my way back into control of myself. I forced myself to listen, to understand, and eventually, to respond.

I was back in my zombie state and I didn’t understand why because Edward was here.

Edward was here. I was here. Everyone was okay and for the moment we were safe. I could breath again. I should’ve been able to breath again.

Edward was holding me to him, he was periodically kissing my forehead, my hair, me cheek. He was continuously stroking my cheek, rubbing my arm.

“Can you turn up the heat Carlisle?” It was the first thing that my mind chose to understand. It was Edward who spoke. “Bella’s shivering.”

I realized it was true, I was shaking. I hadn’t noticed before. Was I cold? I didn’t know.

Carlisle turned around to look at me as he reached for the temperature dial. “She’s in shock. She’s been through a lot the last several days.”

Edward’s grasp on me tightened and Alice reached for my hand. I was almost comforted, and I knew that Carlisle was right.

Alice’s voice filled the car a moment later, it was her ‘vision’ voice. “Aro bought it.” She reported simply.

They collectively breathed sigh of relief. “They won’t come looking for her. Demetri succeeded.”

Edward’s head dropped against my shoulder. His hair and his scent tickled my nose. It made me feel strange.

He raised his head a moment later to look me in the eye. His relieved expression was overwhelming. I didn’t understand what Alice’s words meant, but I understood that look. We really were safe.

I smiled and he smiled back. His glorious crooked smile.

Alice’s voice chimed as she sang, “Bella’s back!”

Edward’s answering chuckle slightly surprised me, and he turned his head so that he was facing the back seat. “Emmett says, ‘Good!’” He reported, as though he could see Emmett through the seat into the trunk, “Finally!”

~>*<~

I had fallen asleep in the big black car, wrapped in Edward’s arms. I woke up in a bright hotel room that had a floral smell and a lot of tall, thinly curtained windows.

I was stiff, I felt like I hadn’t moved in years. It was so peaceful here, as I stretched out under the smooth sheets as I listened to the birds sing. The nearest window was cracked open and a light breeze was blowing across my face. I didn’t care where I was or how I got there. I reveled in the quiet and chose not to remember what had happened or worry about what was going to happen. I closed my eyes again and willed myself to go back to sleep.

The next time my eyes opened, the room was the same but the light streaming in was different. It didn’t have a rosy early morning quality to it, it was brighter, harsher. It reminded me of something; bright sunlight glinting off of the surface of water… in a fountain… a moment later I had tripped.

It all came rushing back.

I sat up quickly and panicked as my eyes searched the tiny hotel room. I found him in a chair, in the corner. He was out of range of the light coming through the thin veil of fabric that covered the windows. Light slanted across the floor, across the bed I was sitting on and part way up a wall that was painted yellow. He was dim in the shadow that enveloped the other side of the room.

Only his eyes moved. They searched my face as I let the memories back in. I didn’t know what expression be saw there, on my face, but he didn’t move. He stayed perfectly still and watched me warily.

I wanted to run to him, but I was afraid he wouldn‘t want me to.

We were safe now, both of us were alive. I wondered how long it would be until he left me again. I shuddered and tried not to think about it. I would stay in the present second only.

My voice came out raspy, it hadn’t been used for a while. “Where are we?”

“Rome.” Only his mouth moved.

“Where is everyone?” I remembered them all in Lazzaro’s living room, in the car…

“Downstairs.” He paused, his eyes never leaving mine. “Carlisle is booking us a flight home.” His head finally moved as he nodded toward the phone next to the bed. “You should call Charlie.”

I looked at the phone, but made no move to pick it up. This was unbearable. I didn’t know why he was here, why didn’t he tell Alice to stay with me instead… I had so many questions, I considered where to start. What I needed to know the most, in case he left again before they were all answered. Maybe he only waited around to make sure I was okay, so he could tell me goodbye again.

I looked back at him in time to see him open his mouth to speak. I couldn’t let him. I couldn’t give him to opportunity to say it. I knew his going was inevitable, but I would do what I could to prolong it. I wasn’t ready, I would never be ready.

“Why did you do it?” The words fell out of my mouth quickly, before he could utter a sound.

His mouth snapped shut audibly and he looked confused. His perfect brow furrowed as he considered my words.

I instantly wished the words back. I was pretty sure I already knew why he had tried to end his life. It was guilt. He thought I had killed myself because of him, because he left me. In his unreasonably just mind he had come to the conclusion that the only way to validate that reality would be to end his own existence as well.

“To what are you referring?” He was uncharacteristically formal. Speaking carefully, watching my reaction to him warily. In this moment we were strangers.

I pulled my knees up to my chest under the sheet and wrapped my arms around them, with the broken hand resting on top. I could see my shadow across the bed before me, abnormally long and narrow. My hair was wild and I was trembling. I tried to hold myself together.

“Why did you ask to die?” My voice sounded stronger than I felt.

He looked like he was in pain, and I quickly decided I didn’t want to know.

“Never mind.” I said before he could speak. “I don’t want you to tell me.”

“I will.” He offered and he finally moved to stand. He picked up the chair and brought it closer to the bed. The thin curtains blocked out the direct sunlight, but the room was still very bright and his skin glowed. He sat the chair next to the bed. Now that he was out of the shadows I could see his face clearly. It was so beautiful that it hurt.

He observed my grimace and assumed wrongly that it had something to do with our closer proximity to each other. He looked apologetic as he scooted the chair back a little.

“Bella.” Hearing his voice wrap around my name made my chest squeeze. Unexplained tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t look at him.

“Bella, are you alright?” There was anxiety in his voice.

I nodded.

“Look at me please.” I couldn’t deny him anything so I met his eyes and felt a tear roll down my cheek. “Of course you aren’t alright,“ he murmured, almost to himself. Then he frowned, “I want to tell you everything.” He didn’t take his eyes away from mine. I wanted to climb into the inky blackness and stay there forever. “I want you to know everything,” he repeated, “but I don’t know if you’re ready.”

I knew the answer to that right away. “I’m not.” I told him simply. I wanted to know everything that had happened. I wanted to know all of the reasons, but I didn’t want to hear it now. I still felt fragile.

Edward nodded and almost looked relieved.

“But you have to promise me something.” I was surprised to hear myself making demands.

“Anything.”

“You can’t leave again until we talk.”

He opened his mouth like he was about to say something else before he changed his mind.

“I promise.”