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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…


9. Chapter 9

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It was amazing to me that even here, on the other side of the world, morning still smelled like morning. The air was still alive and fresh and rushed into my lungs in gusts instead of breaths. Here at the end of all things, in this terrifying city, birds still chirped and the few people moving about the streets still nodded in greeting as I passed, oblivious to the monsters in their midst. Oblivious to the terror at their doorsteps. Terror that I was rushing to face.

I’d left Lazzaro’s house at half-past five in the morning. I’d listened carefully to the rhythm of his snores as I made my way quietly to the front door. They never wavered, even as I was closing the door behind me. I hurried down a flight of stairs and onto the street. I turned around and realized that his house was really just a small apartment over a butcher-shop. I didn‘t pause to examine it. I rushed to the end of the first street and from the corner I could see the clock-tower, well lit to accent it’s beautiful architecture. From this vantage point I could see the exact route I had taken from the car to the fountain. Without all the people, I could see exactly how close I had been. Painfully close, excruciatingly close. I tried to breath and I forced my feet to hurry along the sidewalk. I knew it was much too early, but the suspense was overwhelming. I couldn’t sit in Lazzaro’s house anymore, I needed to be moving. I needed to be out of his presence, his safety depended on it.

The first thing I did was take the paper out of my pocket. (I had changed back into my own clothes.) The paper that Lazzaro had written his name and number on. I quickly tore it into tiny pieces and threw them into several different garbage cans. I didn’t want the Volturi to find any evidence of Lazarro’s help. Maybe it would be a wasted effort and they would be able to read my mind, but I was holding on to the hope that my thoughts would stay secret to them, as they had been to…him.

As I approached the clock-tower I experienced my first moments of naked terror. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t facing the Volturi alone, Carlisle would be there, and Alice and Jasper. And I had to remind myself that I was doing this for them. A family that I loved like my own, a family that was broken now because of me.

I focused on each footstep, each breath, each blink. The grief was threatening to overpower me. There would be time for that later, and if there wasn’t…

There was a pocket of darkness to the right of the tower and my feet took me toward it. It wasn’t until I was very close that I noticed the darkness wasn’t uninhabited. There was a large figure in a dark hood standing against the wall, completely motionless. I recognized the eerie stillness, it was familiar. Familiar and terrifying.

In that moment I abandoned my body. My mind was telling me to turn and run, so I stopped thinking. Something about the statuesque creature in the darkness brought a boldness to me that I didn’t know I had. I forgot my grief, my terror, my hopelessness and it was replaced by blazing determination. These creatures; Volturi, (my mind spat the word) had taken everything from me. Had reduced me to an empty shell, a black hole, the reason for my existence was gone. I wasn’t afraid, there was nothing they could do to me. I was only afraid for my family, I would do everything in my power to help them. I let my feet have control and they marched me right up to the enormous, dark statue.

At first only his crimson eyes moved at my approach, focusing on me. Then the sculpted eyebrows rose in surprise at my boldness. The exquisite lips formed the shape of a smirk when I finally stopped before him.

“Why you must be the notorious Bella. You’re early, my dear. We weren’t expecting you yet.” The purr of his seductive voice did not surprise me. I didn’t answer, I wasn‘t allowing myself to think, just act.

Another hooded being moved from the shadows and came toward us. “What’s this Felix? Our guest is early?”

“Mmmm,” the giant named Felix answered with a nod. “And look at her eyes Demetri, don’t you recognize that look? Many of our guests have been sporting that expression lately.”

They were circling me slowly, reminding me of James in the ballet studio. The only difference was their bright crimson eyes, they weren’t thirsty. I didn’t know whether or not I was comforted by that.

“Ahh, yes.” Demetri purred using his cold fingers to pry my chin up and force me to stare into his flawless face, “The look of… hopeless desperation.”

Felix chuckled and nodded. He bent down to look me in the eye, “Bella, love, why the long face?”

They laughed together, and I remained silent. I hated them. The anger coursed through me, and for one wild second I imagined myself exploding into a werewolf and tearing them to pieces.

“Enough.” A voice chimed from the darkness. Another dark shadow emerged and came toward us. This one was very small and horribly angelic looking. The two giants stopped circling me and straightened up immediately, reminding me of soldiers awaiting orders.

The small shadow drifted into focus with impossible grace and smiled at me with an innocent expression. “You’re not afraid Bella?” It was said almost as a statement, but with an invitation to reply.

“I don’t know.” I couldn’t, I wasn’t allowing myself to think.

“Carlisle will be relieved to see you, as well as… others.” She tilted her head to one side and looked me over. “I thought once we’d met, I’d understand the fascination. But, I’m afraid it remains a mystery. Perhaps it has something to do with your immunity to most of our… tools, I don’t seem to be having the slightest effect on you.”

“Wait!” Demetri spoke, “Should you be doing that? I thought Aro promised Carlisle we wouldn’t hurt her… yet.”

She shrugged her tiny shoulders and said lightly, “Curiosity got the better of me. Besides, it seems there was no harm done.” She seemed disappointed by the last part. I found myself wondering what she had tried to do. Then I reminded myself not to think.

“Well boys, take her below and I’ll let Aro know our guest has kept her end of the bargain. Maybe by now he’s got his point across upstairs.” She smiled vindictively and the other two laughed along with her. It was a beautifully terrifying sound.

After dropping through a drain-hole into an underground labyrinth of tunnels, they led me into a dark stone room that reminded me of a dungeon. Which was probably exactly what it was, Volterra was a castle after-all. They closed the door behind me and I was alone in the damp darkness. I couldn’t hear them outside the door, but I was sure they were there, guarding me. I felt my way into a corner and curled into a ball in the blackness. Even the slightest movement echoed against the stones. There was a dank smell and a constant dripping sound. It was freezing and so dark. I fought back the terror that threatened to overwhelm me, but it would not be overcome. My breaths turned into gasps as my short burst of bold courage faded away. This was not a nightmare, I would not wake up. Maybe Carlisle wasn’t even really here, maybe it was a trap. As my rapid breathing became full-on hyperventilation I felt the threat of unconsciousness. I didn’t fight it. The claustrophobic darkness was pressing in on me from every side. It was so cold here, every gasp felt like knives in my chest. Now there were voices in the corridor, but I was beyond understanding. I heard the heavy door scrape open, but I could no longer see, everything went black.

“Breathe Bella,” An angel’s voice drifted through the haze that was threatening to pull me under. It was the most perfect hallucination yet. Even now, when I was barely whole, my subconscious brought me the greatest of gifts. It mended me while simultaneously destroying me. I wanted this to be the last sound I heard.

“Breathe!” It was rough and anxious, urgent. I didn’t listen to the demand, just relished in the perfect melody of the sound. I let the darkness have me, I welcomed it.

“Come on Bella, open your eyes! I’m here. Bella, love, I’m here. Don't do this, please, not now. Open your eyes, Bella, I need you to open your eyes.”