The Dying of the Light
Once there was something magical and beautiful to her about the idea of being a vampire, of eternal youth and invincibility. But she knows now they are not flying off to Neverland. Edward/Bella, Jacob/Bella.
Another one of my old fics I never got around to putting up on this archive before. This one is actually my first Twilight fanfic I ever did, over a year ago. It came from my opinion that if Bella really has to become a vampire (something I've never really wanted to happen yet oddly find myself writing about all the time, LOL), then it at least should be written about in a way that is appropriately dark and not too sugar-coated. Now that I look back on this fic and read it over again, I think there are parts I might have gone too far with that, but it's not all depressing by any means. In fact, I think of this as a pretty hopeful story about finding the strength to survive any suffering and loss and being able to find meaning in any kind of existence. So I hope Team Edward fans won't find it too off-putting, as this fic is meant to have something to offer to both teams.
1. part 1/3
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3060 Review this Chapter
"The Dying of the Light"
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay
Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
"It could still be another way, you know," Edward says as he and Bella are lying on her bed in his room just looking at each other thoughtfully.
Bella laughs, though there is no real amusement behind it. "We're getting married in two days and you want to back out now?"
He smiles. "Of course I don't want to back out of marrying you. That may be the only thing that will convince you I'm not going anywhere. No matter how much . . . you ever change."
She frowns at him, realizing what this is about. "I'm not the one stopping us from being together as a teenager and granny in sixty years. It's you."
He raises an eyebrow. "I'm afraid you have to explain that."
"You've made it quite clear how well you're going to handle it if I die," she says, trying to put as much mocking sarcasm in her tone as she can. "So how could I do anything but promise to stay with you forever?"
She is smiling, idly running a finger along his collarbone inside the open collar of his shirt, but he finds himself unable to smile back. Is this how it is? Still? He just looks back at her seriously, not able to say it. She's right. They are getting married in two days and they've made all the necessary arrangements to make it look like they're going to live in Alaska two weeks after that. There can't possibly be any stopping her now.
"Edward," she says softly, nestling herself closer to him with her face buried against him under his chin. "You know something could still happen to me. I've only known your family for a couple years and I've already seen more than enough to show me you're pretty capable of making enemies. And - "
"Oh, Bella," he interrupts, smoothing a hand down her back, "you don't have anything to be afraid of. Surely you've also seen enough to show you that we look out for each other in this family. I'd never let anything happen - "
"That's not what I'm worried about," she says in a slightly exasperated voice. "I just . . . I wish more than anything, even more than I want to be with you for the rest of my entire existence, that I could just know you'll be okay even if something ever does happen to me."
"I would be fine," he promises. "Granted I . . . could somehow find relief from my suffering soon afterwards."
She sighs heavily. "That doesn't help at all."
"I'm sorry, love. What do you want me to tell you? That I could just one day stop being incomplete without you? I can't say that. When you become one of us, you'll understand how these things are unfortunately different for our kind. I will never be able to stop needing you exactly as much as I do now. And I would never stop mourning you."
She pulls back away from him a little so she can look up at him, directly into his eyes. "But I'd never stop being a part of you," she tells him firmly. "If I died and you went on living, you would continue to carry the most important part of me with you. Because it's so set in stone and never-changing, your love will always make me more immortal than anything. That's how I've started to see it. And you know what else?" She takes one of his hands and places it over her heart. "You can't tell me you have no soul. Because I know you do; I have it with me right here. Even if I'm the only thing in the world that redeems you for what you are, I'm going to take care of it."
An unreadable, intense look crosses over Edward's face. He takes her face in both his hands and kisses her forehead with his eyes squeezed closed almost like he's in pain, and then he puts another delicate kiss on each of her closed eyelids, his lips cool as metal. She feels like a dead body being burned with coins placed over each of her eyes for her to pay the ferryman to take her across the river Styx. A shiver goes down her back, but not from the cold sensation; it is like the sudden thrill and fluttering of your heartbeat when your car in a rollercoaster starts moving and you suddenly hope you're strapped in right, that this is a good idea. Here we go, she thinks darkly.
I am not giving up on you, he thinks. He promises. Jacob told her, "I'll always be waiting in the wings" and he meant it. He knows it will ultimately be easier for him if he just accepts that it is over. But that is accepting not just that there is no hope for him, but none for her, and he can't do it.
When a heart is in love it will not be helped by any rationality or reason. It is poisoned with a desperate, viciously tenacious hope that thrives on something completely separated from the mind. Part of him simply is not capable of giving up, no matter what he knows and what he tells himself.
So every night these days he lies with his eyes wide open unable to sleep, every beat of his heart pounding out a silent prayer that is completely unstoppable and out of his control. No. No. Don't give up. Do not just surrender to it like this and say goodbye, fight it, stay. Live. Please. Live.
iii. sleep, sweetheart
She always knew it was going to be bad. Horrible, a living nightmare. But she also knew that thinking about it a lot was only going to make her feel terrified rather than do any good. But perhaps she could have prepared herself for it better. Perhaps not.
At first they planned to leave Forks and take Bella somewhere secluded and far from any other people before going through with it, but she got restless and was going so crazy from the fear and anticipation she wanted to get it over with. So when Jasper comes home and finds Bella thrashing wildly on the carpet with Edward holding her in place across his lap and Alice clutching her hand, his voice is heard sounding deep and grave as he comes close and immediately feels it - all of it.
"Oh my God." He is standing in the doorway of Edward's room, looking pityingly over at where she and the others are on the floor, and she is only vaguely aware of hearing his voice speaking; he sounds far, far away. "I thought you weren't going to yet."
Edward looks up at him, not even bothering to explain now. "Jasper?" he says in a pleading, desperate tone. "Please. . ."
"You know I can only do so much to help physical pain like that," he says regretfully, and Bella loses the rest of what they all say to the roaring in her head, but it seems that for a while she is not so aware of the pain, desensitized to it. For just a while. And then it is unbearable again, every part of her feeling like it's on fire, the sweat running endlessly. She is feverish and half-delirious, forgetting where she is and not understanding what's happening anymore.
Then she thinks it's day. Then she thinks it's night. Then she thinks she can tell it's still night when it shouldn't still be - where is the sun? Are there curtains over the windows? How much longer does she have left before it's over? Time seems to be disappearing entirely. Maybe in a way, it is.
Edward is there, she realizes in this moment when she can think again - probably always has been, though she wasn't always aware of it. He is saying something in her ear, attempting to soothe her, but the words are just whispers of the air, nothing she understands right now. This is how it is for what seems like another ten days rather than just a few; she writhes and yells out wordlessly and screams piercingly without even hearing it with her own ears and he is with her every moment feeling it all with her, hating that there's nothing more he can do than just be there. Then at some times she doesn't want anyone near her. She throws anyone off of her who tries to touch her - even him. This disturbs him so much that Jasper starts looking at him sadly as much as he looks at her that way, and as Edward sits helplessly watching her shriek and squirm and thrash on the floor like a fish out of water dying, Jasper puts a hand on his shoulder at one point and does his best to make it more bearable for him, too.
Bella makes her fingertips bleed digging them into the floor. She does not even notice it when her nails start making deep, effortless grooves in it and there is no longer any bleeding. Edward tries to come to her again, but everything scares her right now. She does not remember who he is. She hates him. He is the one who did this to her. As she lies back on the floor taking huge, rasping breaths with all of her skin glistening with sweat, he reaches for her face and she lunges for him viciously, a fierce and wild growl escaping her that sounds much too loud for a sound coming out of her, something strange and terrifying. Before she strikes him he has both of her wrists and pins her arms down on the floor, trying to make her settle down by muttering calm, quiet words.
"Bella, it's alright," he says, his voice sounding torn in two and barely audible. "Listen to me, Bella. I'm right here with you and you're going to be fine in just a while. I think the worst of it is almost over. It's almost over . . ."
She struggles out of his grasp and rolls over, curling up into a ball with a low moan. He sinks completely into a sitting position and turns away from Bella, unable to watch anymore right now, putting his arm over his face as he leans his head down and letting out a great exhaling sigh.
He thinks of what she said about how he is the only thing stopping her from growing old, and how it terrified him but he didn't say anything. It is still not a choice she made for the right reasons. This is all still just her trying to make everyone else happy.
Why? Why didn't he lie and tell her she was right, that he would be okay even if he lost her? Why didn't he stop her? Why did he ever take her to the meadow that day to show her the reason monsters like him have to hide from the sunlight and let everything start even after he knew what Alice had seen? Why did he pursue her when he knew he shouldn't have?
Why didn't he just let her die that day Tyler's truck was supposed to slide right into her? He never did give her an answer to that. And thinking of the answer now, the reason he thought he had any right, he hates himself.
Finally, near the end of the third day, Alice suddenly looks alertly toward Bella, knowing: it's here, it's nearly done. Edward is holding her hand even though she does not seem to feel it or see him sitting by her as she lies still now, trembling and still gasping every breath. He can still hear her heart beating steadily - the most important sound in his world, he told her. But then suddenly it starts to hammer fast and hard, as if raging and fighting against the end with a few last determined beats.
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump.
Then nothing, and Edward stops breathing.
Alice has come to kneel at her side along with Edward now, and everyone else is standing near, closely watching. It is immediately easy to tell when the change is done; the color drains from her skin all over, in just a second, as if the lighting around her just changed and made it appear to be a different tint. Slowly, she opens her eyes, and Edward is suddenly terrified beyond speech or movement as the firey red irises stare up at him.
Esme drops to the floor by her as well now, stroking her face with her hand. "Bella?" she says softly. "How do you feel, honey?"
Edward squeezes her hand, and his voice comes out sounding weak. "Please say something."
Her eyes roll back away from being pointed at Esme to looking at him, and something in them seems to become more focused and calm. She whispers, "Edward."
He sighs heavily. He pulls her up into a sitting position, holding her against his chest. She closes her eyes again and says quietly, "I feel . . . so tired. . ."
But there will be no sleep. This is it. She cannot sleep ever again.
iv. long-distance friendship
Jacob didn't come to the wedding, of course. There was no word from him. Not the smallest, most painless kind of communication possible made just to say congratulations, or I was almost going to go but, or I wanted you to know somehow I'm okay with it and not to worry about me but the thing is, or I just wanted to hear your voice a last time while you're still here.
For as soon as she was Mrs. Edward Cullen it must have felt to him like she was already gone.
But at the end of the summer, after word got around town that all the Cullens' kids had left town and Bella and Edward had both gone off to the University of Alaska, he knew better and figured out what was happening. Maybe he went stalking around the Cullens' house as a wolf to listen a couple times. Perhaps he could not have missed the screaming and the painful intensity in the air from a great distance away even in human form. But however he knows all about it, in the morning after the third day as Bella is curled up in Edward's lap in a deadly silence brought on partially by shock and partially by complete exertion, he looks down at her as he runs his fingers soothingly through her hair and says very quietly, "There's something left on the porch for you."
At first, she has no interest in going to look. She isn't even interested enough to wonder. She doesn't care. But Edward convinces her she should go see "before somebody steps on them."
Bella feels like she's in a dream right now, and drifts to the front door absently, not feeling like her feet are really making contact with the floor or her hand with the door handle. She opens the door and finds six brightly colored flowers laid on the mat in front of her. Wild flowers, not ones bought from a store, as beautiful as the ones that grow in her and Edward's meadow.
She knows it is no wedding present. This does not signify a sentiment of "congratulations" or "good luck" - it's something very different. Flowers left on a grave.
And somehow, even though she cannot see into anyone else's mind like Edward can, she understands his intended message perfectly. They are forever separated now, but it doesn't matter to him. He still loves her and will always love her. Unconditionally. Immutably.
This is when the numbness of the dream-like shock starts to wear off, and she can feel that she is really here. She is also very aware once again of the tear in her now-still heart and realizes that nothing there has changed. And she knows that if it still there now, it is always going to be there. Vampires may be physically invincible, but there are other ways they are perhaps much more terribly vulnerable than humans.
v. dead flowers
Once there was something magical and beautiful to her about the idea of being a vampire, of eternal youth and invincibility. She knew better than that by the time she made her decision. She knows they are not flying off to Neverland. They are not flying anywhere. They are falling, down, down, into a dark and freezing cold place there is no returning from. She cannot change her mind and go back if she decides she wants to grow up after all.
But she reminds herself this is not like Hades and Persephone. Persephone did not actually have a choice. And that, she knows, can make all the difference.
As she sits on the back porch of the Cullens' house - now her house and home also - and watches the rain, she looks down at the moon-shaped scar on her right hand, and thinks of how it used to be the only part of her that had that iredescent sparkle in sunlight. She thinks a while of the girl she used to be at sixteen, at thirteen, at eight. A girl who loved summer and the bright sun and wearing airy, gauzy tops and blouses with eyelets. She thought when she moved to Forks she had managed to say goodbye to the sun, but of course she hadn't. She couldn't have had any idea then how profoundly she would really end up severing herself from that former self, that young girl version of Isabella she remembers, and leaving the light behind.
Maybe she never would have come. It's not like she ever would have known what she was missing.