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Say Goodbye

Summary:
Oneshot: Jacob didn't go get Charlie, in Breaking Dawn, and the Cullens had to hold a funeral for Bella. How did the people of Forks respond? Bella's friends and family gather around her to say goodbye.


Notes:
I reread Breaking Dawn recently, and tried to imagine the pain of the funeral that would have taken place if Bella had had to feign her death. I'm not sure I portrayed it properly, but I did the best I could. I was crying while I wrote it, if that helps. Raw emotion is good, right?


1. Tears

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2642   Review this Chapter

I clutched at Edward’s arm, balking at the coffin in front of me. “I can’t do this,” I said shrilly, looking at the silky white lining of the mahogany box. “God, Edward. I can’t do this.”

Alice sauntered to my side and tweaked the collar of my blouse over my sweater. “Sure you can. It won’t be that bad, I promise. It’s the only way, too.”

Jacob cleared his throat. I glanced wildly towards where he stood in the back of the room, Renesmee in his arms. He didn’t approve of this idea. I’d been willing to go along with it, until now. But he didn’t say anything, no matter how imploringly I looked at him.

I turned to Carlisle instead. “Can’t you tell Charlie it was a mistake? That kind of thing happens all the time, right?”

Esme pulled me into her arms. “Bella, sweetheart, it isn’t that easy. It’s too late for that. Charlie and Renée need their chance to say goodbye, and this is really the best way. It’ll be over soon, don’t worry.”

With her arm around my shaking shoulder, I walked over towards the coffin. Funny, how I should end up pretending to sleep in a coffin within my first week of being a vampire. I didn’t think any of my other family members had done the same. I climbed into the wooden box with a heavy heart.

“Lay back, Bella,” Alice instructed, coming over to pose me. “That’s right.” She took my hands and folded them on my stomach, making me hold a bouquet of freesia. She smoothed out my already flawless hair.

I heard Edward catch his breath, and Jasper looked at him with worried eyes. I looked at him questioningly. “That’s… something I swore to myself I would never have to see,” he explained sheepishly. “I cannot bear the thought of seeing you dead, even if it’s only pretend.”

My eyes pricked like I was going to cry, but of course I had no tears. Instead, I took a deep, steadying breath. “Edward, please. Just let me not do this. Make it close-coffined, or something. Let’s run away. Let’s not be here. We can skip the funeral. We can both die.”

He straightened the cuffs of his jacket, shaking his head. “No, Bella. We can’t.” He wore all black today, a mourning tuxedo. He looked stunning. The contrast of the black against his pale skin made me feel like swooning. “We have to get through this. It’s only a few hours, and then we can close the casket for the funeral.”

The thought of lying here while people cried over my “dead body” did not appeal to me.

“Momma!” Renesmee said clearly. Jacob carried her over to me, and she touched my face. I read confusion in her thoughts as she replayed an image of me lying in the casket, looking for all normal purposes like I was dead.

“It’s just pretend, baby.” I wanted to reach out to her, to hold her to me as a form of comfort. But I couldn’t really have a child splayed across me.

Emmett walked in, somber in an outfit that matched Edward’s. “It’s time,” he announced gravely. Rosalie traipsed in behind him. Her heels were daggers on the floor, and the swishing of her beaded black skirt sounded like silk. She looked beautiful.

I started to hyperventilate. I was probably the only vampire ever to have done so.

“I’m gonna take off,” Jacob said huskily, tightening his grip on Renesmee. Renesmee couldn’t be there at the wake or at the funeral. It wouldn’t make sense for a baby to come out of nowhere. “I’ll be right back, Bells.”

My throat closed around a scream as I heard the sound of tires in the Cullens’ driveway. I recognized the tires – Charlie’s Cruiser. I heard the beating of three hearts, and low voices.

“Now, Bella,” Alice hissed, as the rest of my family started towards the door. I lay back all the way and stopped breathing, glad not to have to smell the blood. As I composed my face into the serene mask I knew I would be able to hold indefinitely, Alice smoothed my hair one last time.

The door opened.

Two men and one woman walked in. I could tell the woman wore heels – only one inch high, though. They were the type of heels I’d favored as a human, and the type of heels that I knew Renée wore to compensate for her balance problems. Both the men wore clomping dress shoes.

“Welcome, Renée, Phil, Charlie,” Carlisle said somberly.

I heard the rustling of cotton, and the sound of men clapping each other on the back in an awkward guy hug. I imagined Renée throwing her arms around Esme, who said, “I’m so sorry, Renée. Really, I am.”

Renée sniffled. “How are you all… coping? Edward?” My heart contracted painfully. I hadn’t heard my mother’s voice in so long, and now she sounded so sad.

“It’s very hard on all of us.” Edward, the perfect actor, found the perfect level of repressed pain to convey. I tensed at how dead his angel’s voice sounded. The last time I’d heard him sound like this was when he left me. “We’re all going to miss Bella very, very much.”

Emmett asked quietly if he could take coats, and more fabric rustled. Then Emmett began his way upstairs.

“Thank you all for hosting,” Phil said quietly.

“It’s nothing,” Carlisle assured him. “It’s the least we can do. Part of me feels personally responsible for not looking into the right kinds of vaccinations before the honeymoon.”

“It isn’t anyone’s fault,” Renée murmured.

Charlie cleared his throat, and I heard that his voice was thick with tears when he said, “Where’s Bella?”

“This way, Charlie,” Alice said angelically. I heard five pairs of feet shuffle closer to me – Charlie, Renée, Phil, Alice, and Carlisle.

I concentrated on keeping my tense muscles relaxed. Now is not the time to run, I told my instincts. Don’t move.

Renée gasped and ran over to me, falling to her knees beside the casket that stood in the middle of the Cullens’ huge front room. She started to sob, her hand reaching for mine. The warmth of her fingers on my cold skin was almost too much to bear. I felt the blood pulsing through the thin membrane that separated me from it. I wanted it badly.

Charlie knelt, too, stroking my hair. I froze as his hand brushed my face, so close to my lips. “Bella,” he whispered, choked with tears.

Someone patted Renée’s shoulder – Phil, I imagined.

Alice touched my face lightly, too, her fingers pressing to my lips in what felt like a warning. The door opened again, and Edward greeted Angela and Ben in a dead voice. They loitered in the doorway for a few minutes, talking inanely about the how sad they were, until Renée and Charlie stood. Then Angela and Ben filed over towards me.

I barely noticed when more and more people filed in through the door, distracted by the sounds of my parents repressing sobs and putting on brave faces for the guests. I couldn’t bear the thought of causing them so much pain. My heart hurt almost as much as it did when the venom coursed through me, but this time the fire wasn’t poison. It was tears, going straight to my heart.

A minister walked through the constantly swinging door, and I resigned myself to listening to this for hours. Phil asked Renée if she was doing okay. Jacob clapped Charlie on the shoulder and whispered about how beautiful I looked, even in death. My eyes stung again.

After some twenty minutes, I wondered if I dared risk cracking my eyes open slightly. I could manage it – no one would see. I knew that. At that point, I knew my powers. My eyes fluttered open one thirty second of an inch, and lighted on Renée.

She looked horrible. She wore a simple black dress and wrap, and clung to Phil like a lifeline. Her eyes were red and puffy, and kept darting back to me. I saw the pain in them, though they were dry now. Phil stood by her side steadfastly, his arm protectively around her shoulder, looking straight ahead.

Charlie was all alone, though Billy sat next to him in his chair. My dad looked so lost – like he’d lost a bit more hair, maybe some weight, too. It was like the grief had completely taken over his body. He stared at me hard, his jaw set. I recognized the wide tie he wore, and the bulging jacket. He’d worn the same thing to Harry’s wedding.

Carlisle and Esme stood right after Charlie. Carlisle had his arm around Esme’s waist, and she rested her head on his shoulder, her curls spilling into her face and down the front of his coat. They both gave the necessary strained smiles and whispered thank yous to the people who filed past. The rest of my siblings roamed the crowd.

Then I saw my angel’s face.

Using my peripheral vision, I saw Edward, standing on the other side of the casket, by my head. His hand rested on one of the golden bars that the pallbearers would later use to lift me. His knuckles were whiter than normal, and I could see the restraint it took him not to snap the bar in two. His face… If my heart hadn’t been broken before, it was in pieces now.

I saw the pain of death written clearly over his perfect features. His mouth and jaw were tight, holding back the tears that would never fall. His eyes were glazed, unfocused, staring out across the room in search for an escape. I knew what Edward looked like when he was in pain but this was more intense than I’d ever seen, worse than when he writhed under Jane’s torture, worse than when he’d left me.

Jasper stood by his side, his hand on his shoulder, trying to calm him, I could tell. They made a perfect picture – too perfect. This felt too real. This was more than an act, more than anything imaginary. This was real.

I couldn’t cause my Edward pain, I couldn’t stand to watch Charlie, Renée, and Phil so sad. But Edward. He was the worst of all.

A burning drop of water fell onto my face, and I saw Angela right beside me, biting her lip, her eyes puffy, her nose red. Ben had his arm around her consolingly, his face closed and tight.

“Bella,” she whispered. “Bella, I’m so sorry.” Like Renée, she took my hand, squeezed it. Her eyes tightened at the coldness of my skin, and I concentrated on not noticing the chill of her skin.

“It isn’t your fault, Ange,” Ben whispered in her ear.

She sniffled. “She looks so beautiful, so happy. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

His arm tightened around her. “She’s not really gone. She’s still right here.” He put a hand over her heart, and she pressed her hand on top of his, squeezing it.

All the people I would miss – I hadn’t really given much thought to how much they would miss me. I’d never seen Angela look so sad, so lost. I couldn’t believe I was gone, either.

I let my eyes wander, and I saw Mike and Jessica, standing arm-in-arm. Dr. Gerandy, from the hospital, sat in one of the folding chairs Alice and Emmett set up earlier that day, his wife by his side. Mrs. Cope chatted idly with Mr. Banner. Quill, Embry, and Sam stood in a solemn line against the back wall. Quill noticed my gaze, and winked swiftly. Sue and Leah Clearwater were there, too, begrudgingly. I could tell they were only there for Jacob.

Rosalie took her turn to come kneel at my side. In a whisper so low and fast that none of the humans could hear, she said, “Bella, the minister is almost ready to close your casket. As soon as they take you out into the limousine, you can get out. Carlisle will be driving, so you won’t have a problem with getting away. You can come to the gravesite, if you want, and watch from a distance. But if you want to go find Renesmee, she’s at your house. Edward will be home soon.” She bent her head, her golden curls falling around her face. In a higher whisper, she said, “Goodbye, Bella. I’m so, so sorry.”

The minister stepped forward as soon as Rosalie stood, and the room fell silent.

“Friends,” he said, clearing his throat. “We’re here today to celebrate the life of Bella Swan Cullen, who passed away this Sunday. I’m sure there will be more speeches given later, but I’d like to take a moment right now to pause and reflect on her death. What will it mean to you, to have Bella gone? She was a remarkable young woman, who touched the lives of many. And she died too soon..

“The time has come to say goodbye, so I’d like to read a little prayer before we close the casket on her. If you could all join me.” He said a quick, jumbled prayer, and cleared his throat. “If you ‘d like to get in your cars and start forming the funeral procession, we’ll be leaving shortly.”

Most of my friends and acquaintances left the room, but the Cullens, my parents, Jacob, and Edward stayed behind with the minister.

They all knelt in front of me one last time.

“I love you, Bella,” Renée whispered. “You’ll always be my baby girl. I miss you so much already.” She kissed my temple, her wet eyelashes brushing my face. Then she straightened, tucking a card under the freesia in my hands.

Phil touched my forehead. “We’ll miss you a lot, Bells. Think of us, wherever you are up there.”

Jacob took my hand, looked down into my face. “Bells,” he sighed. “I’m sorry you didn’t make the right choice, but I hope wherever you are up there, you’re happy. I’ve forgiven you. And life won’t be nearly as much fun down here without you.” He bit his lip, his face contorted with pain.

Alice and Jasper stood side by side in front of me for a moment, holding hands and staring down at me. Then Rosalie kissed my forehead, and Emmett sniggered. “See you soon, little sister,” he said quietly.

Charlie gripped my hand tightly, squeezing onto my cold, dead fingers like they were the last things he had in the world. “Bells, I’m going to miss you so much. I’m so glad you came to live with me. It was the best thing that ever happened. And we’re all real sad, but I hope you’re thinking about us. And know how much we love you, always. I’m just sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye.”

Finally, Edward stood at my side staring at me with the same pained expression. He stood there silently for thirty seconds, soaking in every last detail of my face. “Bella,” he breathed. Carlisle and Esme came to stand with him, one on each side. They wrapped their arms around him and he broke down, his face contorting. He turned around, and they held him up as he cried broken, tearless sobs.

I just couldn’t take another minute of this. Each of them stared at my face, memorizing it one final time. Renée, Phil, and Charlie especially. I hated the pain I was causing them, hated to see them so lost. Renée slipped her free arm around Charlie and they formed a huddle, very much like how Esme and Carlisle held Edward up. The rest of my siblings and Jacob converged in a blob, arms and hands intertwined. I was happy to see Jacob included.

The last thing I saw, before the minister closed the lid on me, was that frozen image of them all, supporting each other, holding each other. I knew everything would be okay. I soaked their faces in, too, hearing their quiet voices for the last time. Then everything was dark.