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What would have happened had the Volturi decided to grant Edward his wish and kill him? Would Bella have been able to get to him in time? Would the Volturi show mercy on them still? Bella races to save Edward's life, though one thing has changed...Edward will be killed.


9. Chapter 9: Solution

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When we got back to his house, we went inside to see Alice. Everything was still covered with the sheets and dust and cobwebs. It was dark and dingy in the house--it didn’t have that quality of home and love that it once held for me.

I was able to make out every little detail about it--even through the darkness--every sight, every smell, every feeling, every sound…it was unbelievable. I could distinguish the different scents--the most distinguishable being that of everyone else in here--each one having their own specific scent, differentiating them from the others.

Carlisle smelled of a sweet ocean breeze--the salty, warm scent of waves crashing down one onto another, sending itself wafting throughout the house. It gave me a sense of comfort.

Esme smelled of fruit blossoms in the early of spring--the sweet fruitful scent engulfing me--giving me a sense of the kind of love only a mother could know. It was inevitable that Esme Cullen was, without a doubt, destined to be a mother.

Emmett smelled of a fresh forest--the scent of pine and nature--giving me a sense of safety. I knew I could not be safer than by having him as my brother.

Rosalie had a scent that put all other beauty and grace and perfection to such shame. I couldn’t even find a word to compare it to--it was so strong, so great…so unbearably sweet. I actually couldn’t help but wonder why, if my scent had made Edward go so crazy, hers hadn’t. There was no way any scent could ever exist that was better than hers. Now, having known her scent, I couldn’t decide which was greater. Her scent or her incredible beauty.

Jasper smelled of a rainy day--and though I never was one for the rain--even I couldn’t deny the pure and clean smell of a good rain. Multiply that by a thousand and that was how Jasper smelled. It was remarkable; giving me a sense of peace and calm that I never thought could ever exist.

Alice had a different almost chocolaty scent. It was almost as if I was at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and it was comprised of Alice. That was new to me; different. It gave me a sensation of an unbreakable bond--our friendship, which could never fail or falter, no matter what.

The sweetest of all the scents was, of course, that of Edward--he smelled of…honey…lilac…and sun…it was so amazing that it literally weakened me. It was so beautiful that it hurt me.

I still had my scent of freesia, but to be honest, it was not as great as Edward made it out to be. I couldn’t help but wonder if my being immortal had diminished it or something. It was quite strange to me.

Edward grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the staircase, interrupting my thought. “Come, Bella.” I followed him, snapping out of my trance.

We reached the landing and were immediately greeted by Esme, who grabbed Edward in a hug, and nearly cried, “Edward. Oh, Edward!” She held him to her, closing her eyes, and struggling through her next words. “Oh…thank God you’re all right.”

He smiled, slightly, “Yes, Mom, we’re fine.”

She released him and then turned to me, smiling warmly, despite the pain in her eyes. “Bella.” She now hugged me, “Oh, sweet Bella. Thank you, thank you. Oh, thank you.” She nearly sobbed, “I’m…so glad you’re back. We all are. We have missed you so much, my dear.” She took my face in her hands, pulling back and looking into my eyes, “How could we ever repay you?”

I took hold of her wrists and shook my head, “You already have. I have all that I have ever wanted.” I stepped back, wrapping my arm around Edward’s waist, leaning the side of my head against his shoulder, still holding Esme’s hand in my free one. “What more could I ask for?”

Edward kissed my hair and hugged me to his side, as Esme now scolded him. “Edward, I cannot believe how incredibly selfish you were. You will never do that to us again, do you hear me? I will not have it. Bella is not the only one who needs you around here.”

Edward grimaced, sheepishly, “I’m sorry, Mom. It will never happen again.”

Then, Emmett jumped down from the rafter and clapped Edward’s back, “Yeah, you bet your ass it will never happen again, bro., or Jazz and I just might have to kick it for you, my man.”

“Emmett.” Edward smiled, and hugged his brother eagerly, “I promise. I’m sorry for everything.”

Emmett released him and punched him on the shoulder playfully. “Eh, forgive and forget…well, forget.” Then, he turned to me. “Bella! Yay, thank God you’re back!” He picked me up and spun me around excitedly. Then, without setting me down, he said, “I’ll tell you what, Edward is boring without you. You’d better stay, woman.”

“Emmett.” Edward scolded, rolling his eyes.

“What?” Emmett set me down, but kept his arms around me. “You have to admit--our lives suck without her. Bella is the life of this part-e!” He released me and then did some funky dance move and whooped excitedly before breaking off laughing.

I laughed too. “Trust me, I’m definitely not going anywhere anytime soon.”

“Actually,” Edward began, now turning to Esme, “We need to speak with Carlisle. We have to leave again. All of us.” He assured me, squeezing my hand.

“Why?” Esme sounded appalled. “We just got back.”

“I know, and I’m sorry, but we don’t have a choice.”

Esme opened her mouth to speak again when we heard a noise behind us. Rosalie stepped out of the shadows, exercising caution, being extremely careful as she addressed us, “Hi, Edward. Bella.”

She actually looked to me in acknowledgement and I felt extremely relieved to see an apologetic smile on her flawless face.

Edward began growling angrily and made to advance towards her when Emmett put himself in between them and I held him back by one arm, while Esme had the other.

“Wait, wait. Please calm down, Edward. She feels awful--just please let her apologize.” Emmett said, holding his hands up as if a criminal.

Edward simply glared, but made no further advancement, so Emmett then went behind Rosalie, putting his hands on her shoulders and pushing her forward slightly. Edward looked angry, but he allowed her to speak, tensing up as he listened to what she had to say…and think.

Rosalie seemed nervous as she said, in a truly apologetic voice, “I am…so sorry. I had…no idea what would happen. I only wanted to get my brother back--” Edward put his fist to his mouth, struggling to not blow up at her, as she continued on. “--and I knew that the only way to do that, would be for him to have closure and be able to…let you go.”

She took a step towards me and Edward scoffed as she pleaded, “Bella, please, please…” She hesitated slightly before taking my hands, “…forgive me?”

I nodded, “I do. I never blamed you.”

“Makes one of us,” Edward said, bitterly, not tearing his glare from her.

“Edward.” Emmett, Esme, and I all reprimanded at the same time.

Rosalie closed her eyes, in shame, and then turned to Edward. “Edward…I never meant--”

“Well, you never do, do you?” He challenged, shaking his head, in disbelief.

“Edward!” I nudged him in the ribs, but he ignored me as he advanced towards Rosalie.

“I’ve got to tell you, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a pathetic apology to get me to forgive you for what you did.”

Rosalie hung her head and mumbled a small, “I’m sorry,” as Carlisle came out. “Edward…don’t, son. She feels terrible; we all do. But, please do not take it out on her. She never meant for anyone to get hurt.”

Edward looked to Carlisle and simply stared at him for a moment--the months of separation evident on their faces, in their eyes, as they stared at one another, their love and admiration for one another clear. “Okay. Sorry.”

Carlisle approached him and pulled him into a hug, smiling in contentment, as he held him. “I’m so sorry, Carlisle,” Edward mumbled, “I…never wanted to hurt you or Esme…I promise you…I’m sorry.”

“I know, my boy…I know.” Carlisle assured him, kissing his head and releasing him.

“I’m sorry for…all I’ve put you through.” Edward said, shaking his head, miserably.

Carlisle took his face in his hands, forcing him to look at him. “No one blames you, Edward. We completely understand why you did it. You did something that none of us could ever have the strength to do--you…left the only good thing in your life. You left the woman you love to protect her. I could never do that. None of us could. Immortal or not, I could never survive being parted from Esme. I have no idea how you found the strength to do so.”

“I didn’t,” Edward admitted, “Why else do you think I had to leave you? I couldn’t handle your pain, too. I had ruined enough lives already; I didn’t need to ruin anymore. Especially not yours.”

“No, Edward, I--” I began, but Carlisle held up a hand to stop me.

“My son…all you have done…is enrich our lives….Believe me when I say that our lives will never again be complete without you in them. Both of you.” He turned to me. “Bella, we owe you everything. We could never thank you enough for helping to save our boy.” He wrapped one arm around me and the other around Edward, looking from me to him.

“I couldn’t let him die,” I said, truthfully, as Carlisle tightened his arm around me.

“Yes…and while I’m very glad that everything turned out the way it did, it did come with some consequences, I’m afraid.” Pain and sadness filled his eyes as he looked to Edward.

“Alice.” Edward choked out, “What did Jacob do to her?”

“She’s…in pretty bad shape, Edward.” Carlisle admitted, “Jasper’s with her. She won’t let anyone else in. She can’t be around anyone right now.”

I gasped, “Can we try?”

“Sure, but good luck with that.” Emmett said, sarcastically, “She’s not exactly seeing anyone right now. Unless your initials just happen to be Jasper Hale.”

“Go on,” Carlisle said, ignoring him, nodding. He released us and Edward took my hand, leading me to Jasper and Alice’s room.

He knocked but didn’t wait for an answer as he opened the door slightly, and peeked in. “Can we come in?”

Jasper nodded solemnly. He was holding Alice, cradled in his arms, and she was burying her face in his chest. He was sitting on the floor against the wall, kissing her hair, and rocking her back and forth deliriously.

Edward released my hand and approached them, kneeling beside them. “How’s she doing?”

I was frozen in the doorway in fear, staring at them, unable to move. Jasper didn’t look at him, as he said, “Not well. He got into her mind…made her…believe that she was alone…he tortured her and…” he broke off, stifling tearless sobs. “God…Alice…I’m so sorry…”

Alice was trembling in his arms as she turned to look at Edward. “Edward…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve--this is…my fault.”

“Shh…” Edward shushed her and kissed her forehead, “It’s okay, Alice. It was my fault. It’s my fault that you’re here. I never should’ve sent you away; I am so sorry.”

“Maybe I’m getting what I deserve…” she choked out.

“No…” Edward said, firmly, “You, in no way, deserve this. It was simply wrong place-wrong time. I sent you back and you were the messenger. Of course he’s going to take his anger out on you.”

Alice forced a smile, “We both know I was a lot more than the messenger, Edward.”

Realization flashed in Edward’s eyes. “You didn’t. You told him about your premonition, Alice; what the hell were you thinking?”

“I was thinking…that…better me take the fall than you.”

“Why does anyone have to take the fall?” I demanded, finally finding my voice. “If anyone should take the fall here, it’s me.”

“That is out of the question, Bella.” Edward said, firmly, not looking at me, “Don’t…say that; don’t even think it, do you hear me?”

“Why not? I’m the one that got you into this whole mess.”

He now turned to me, “And, how exactly did you get us into this whole mess?”

“By existing!” I said, in an obvious-tone, “Face it, Edward, if it wasn’t for me, you life--your lives--would be a hell of a lot less complicated.”

“Excuse me?” He demanded, clenching his teeth, “Funny, considering I could say the exact same thing about you.”

“And, what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“What the hell do you think it means? It means that I was the one who should’ve died in 1918, not you, remember? This was meant to be your time--not mine.”

“Stop it!” Jasper said, raising his voice for the first time since I’ve met him. He clutched his head with his hand and shook his head, miserably. “Please…stop…your issues are giving me a headache. I can’t do this. The pain…first, Alice and now you…it’s too much. Please don’t make me do this.”

“Jasper--” Alice choked out, reaching out to caress his face, but he stopped her, taking her hand, “Yes, Alice, it’s me; I’m here; what is it? What’s wrong?”

She shook her head, signaling that she was okay, “I’m fine--we--have to leave…again.”

Edward nodded, “She’s right. It’s Charlie.”

“Why; what happened?” Jasper asked, looking to us.

“There’s no time. We need to speak with the entire family and figure everything out. You up for it, Alice?”

“Anything that redeems me with you?--absolutely.”

Jasper helped her to her feet and Edward said, “Redemption not necessary.” They exchanged a smile and then he said, “Come; we must hurry. The treaty and then Charlie--we have…very little, if any, time. Charlie might very well send someone out to investigate out here--they can’t know we’ve been here; it’ll create suspicion.”

She nodded, “As of now, as far as I can tell, we’re okay. Charlie’s not planning anything just yet.”

“Let us know if anything changes.” Edward said, taking one of her arms while Jasper took the other, and leading her out.

I followed hesitantly, hating the pain and anguish I was putting the ones I loved through. Charlie, Renee, Alice--even Jake (on a good day)-- were just the very tip of this very dangerous iceberg, which was built on the foundation of the pain and agony I had put Edward through, which was bad enough as it was.

We all met in the dining room--sitting at the table they used as merely a prop. Once we got settled in, Emmett leaned forward towards me excitedly, and said, “So, Bella, do you know if you have a power yet?”

“Emmett.” Esme cast him a look, but he shrugged nonchalantly, and said, “What; I wanna know!”

I smiled, “It’s okay, Esme; really.”

“No, Esme’s right.” Edward told me, “We don’t exactly have time for personal gain here, Emmett.” He now addressed Emmett.

“Oh, it’ll take a whole two seconds for her to tell us; keep your pants on, will you?”

There were so many ways I could argue with that metaphor, but I decided to keep my complaints to myself, smirking slightly. I tried to hide it, but Edward caught it. “What?” He asked, furrowing his eyebrows.

I started. “Huh; what?”

“What are you smiling for?”

“I’m not.” I said, a little too defensively.

“Oh.” He said, awkwardly, his eyes widening in understanding.

“Ohh!” Emmett said, suggestively, winking at me and clicking his tongue several times, full of heavy implications. “Gotcha!”

“Emmett, that’s enough.” Carlisle reprimanded.

“Okay, okay, just let me have this one thing. Bella, if you will…”

I smiled and began to explain, “Well, when we ran into Jake--”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you ran into that damn horn dog?! Did you kick his ass a couple of times for me?”

“Emmett!” Everyone chided, making him roll his eyes.

“No!” I said, “Do you want to know or not?”

“Okay, you’re right, I’m sorry.” He said, stifling a snort. “Continue.”

Edward glared at him and he put his hands up, as if surrendering, and said, “Nothing.”

I continued as if nothing had happened. “Anyway, he tried to attack Edward, but some…force-thingie…that I may or may not have created somehow…kinda pushed him back into a tree, making the tree collapse on top of him. He’s okay, we think, but I still don’t know how I did it.”

“You what?” Emmett said, now chortling in amusement, “Damn, Bella, you’ve got yourself a totally kick-ass power; I hate you. That is freakin’ awesome! God, I wish I’d been there.”

Even Jasper smiled as I explained my power, most likely because I had used it against Jacob.

Carlisle scolded Emmett though. “Emmett, that is not funny. Jacob could have been seriously hurt.”

Emmett blew a raspberry and waved his hand carelessly, “And, that’s a problem? The way I see it is the dog’ll heal in, like, two minutes anyway. It’s not like it’s a big deal or anything.”

I scoffed and looked to him, making him say, “I am so sorry.”

“It might not be a big deal yet.” Carlisle scolded, “But, Bella’s power will grow--as all of ours did--and if she can do so much with it already, having just received it, it may become exceedingly stronger and take her over. She might not be able to handle it; it could implode within her--”

Emmett broke him off by snorting and Edward kicked him under the table. “Emmett!”

“All right, I’m sorry, I’ll stop.” He covered his mouth with his hand to stifle his laughter and Carlisle continued, “On the other hand, thought, this power could be quite extraordinary. It’s fascinating that it is so strong while you are still a newborn--a new vampire.” He added, to my questioning look.

I didn’t answer so he merely continued on, “It seems that your ability is linked to your ability to block Edward out of your mind as a human. It seems you can now physically block what you wish--you can act as a shield of some sort. That is…beyond remarkable.”

He seemed awe-struck by the whole concept, shaking his head. Esme seemed to be somewhat worried by it, while Emmett was merely amused.

“That freakin’ kicks ass, Bella!” He punched my shoulder playfully and said, “Hey, hey! Block this!” He grabbed the empty vase from the table and threw it at me.

“Emmett, no!” I shielded my face with my hands and cringed away from the sound as it shattered to a million pieces. I looked and saw that Edward had caught it before it could hit me, but he had used such force that it shattered in his hands.

“EMMETT!” Everyone yelled in protest--even Rosalie.

“You were supposed to block it; why didn’t you block it?” He asked, almost frantically.

“Kind of…caught me off guard.” I said, still trying to analyze what had happened. Even as a vampire, it was still way too fast for me to keep up with it.

“Emmett--” Esme began as he said, irritably, “Yeah, I knew, clean it up; I’m goin’ I’m goin’!” He pushed his chair back and stood up. “Damn it!” He swore under his breath as he went into the kitchen.

“Bella, are you all right?” Esme asked, concerned.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I assured them all, “You forget; I’m like you now. It couldn’t hurt me anyway.”

“Then, why’d you duck?” Emmett asked, amused, walking back in.

“Instinct.” I said, as he swept the glass up into a dust pan. “I’ve been doing it for 18 years--just habit.”

“Ah!” He said, sounding like he didn’t really believe me.

As if he hadn’t spoken, Carlisle said, “I wonder if this affects your ability to read her mind, Edward.”

“It doesn’t.” He said, confidently.

“Oh, you never know,” I said, stroking his arm lightly, “Try it. What am I thinking?”

He looked to me and then said, with a shrug, “How much you love me?”

I gasped dramatically, “Oh, my God, you read my mind!”

I smiled as he rolled his eyes. “Lucky guess.”

“Well, maybe someday I can find a way to let you in.” I said, hoping to comfort him, as Emmett’s scream of laughter came from the kitchen.

“Emmett! Ugh, grow up!” I said, as Edward made to get up. “That’s it!”

Carlisle pushed him back down though. “Edward, don’t. We have no time for anymore problems. Emmett’s immaturity can be dealt with later; for now, our only concern is protecting our family.” He waited for Edward to nod once, angrily, before turning to Alice, “Alice, what’s the status? Any changes with Charlie?”

She seemed to be recovering quite quickly. What had Jacob done to her? I had never seen her like this before. “We are still okay. Nothing’s changed.”

“All right, then, Edward, what do we know?” Carlisle now looked to him.

Edward was still quite rigid as he answered, “Jacob is still unconscious--he’s going to be out for awhile. He’ll be fine--” he assured me, squeezing my hand, “--but, once he becomes conscious again, he’ll go back to the pack. They’re going to come after us. We have to get out of here.”

“And, Charlie?” I stiffened up at the sound his name. What was I going to do? How was I supposed to let him go? “Charlie…” I said, in a weak voice, “I have to see him.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Edward said, turning to me, shaking his head, “Bella, I know how you must feel, but Charlie is in pain right now. Seeing you…wouldn’t do anything but make matters worse and increase that pain.”

“And, what about my pain?” I asked, my voice cracking.

He placed his hands on my shoulders and said, “Bella, please--don’t do this. I cannot stand your pain, but…I think…that…maybe Jacob was right, love. I think it really is better this way.”

“Better for who?” I asked, incredulous.

“For everyone! Charlie and Renee will mourn for you, yes, but at least they’ll be able to move on. Do you really think seeing you will help them let you go?”

I remembered living without Edward and flinched. Seeing him definitely did not help me let him go, but rather increased my love and pain for him. Did I really want to put Charlie through that?

“Charlie…believes you are dead. As hard as that is for him, seeing you would only make matters worse. Believe me, love, I--of all people--know how hard it is--how impossible--to lose you once. I can’t imagine doing it twice. Don’t make Charlie do that.”

“But, I can’t just--I can’t--” I broke off, unable to go on.

“I know, Bella, I know.” He pulled me into his arms and held me for a moment as Jasper began easing my pain, making it easier to breathe--to think clearly.

As much as I hated to admit it, Edward was right. I couldn’t put Charlie through any more pain--not on my behalf. I buried my face in his chest and took several deep breaths, inhaling his scent, which calmed and confused me all at the same time. But, it did make sense. A clean break. A clean break…

“A clean break.” I said, aloud, looking to Edward now, finally understanding how he felt leaving me.

He nodded solemnly, placing a hand on my cheek. “Exactly…a clean break.”

I began trembling as I rested my forehead against his. “Is this how you felt?” I wondered, “Leaving me?”

He pulled back and looked into my eyes, “Worse, love.”

I closed my eyes, in shame. I was in such pain that I couldn’t imagine any possible worse pain. The pain of the transformation seemed insignificant to me. How could worse pain possibly exist?

“A million times worse,” Jasper spoke, “Bella, I can feel what you are going through right now. I can literally feel it. Where you hurt, I hurt…and…as much as this hurts me, Edward’s pain when he left you…was intolerable for me. I couldn’t even be in the same room as him, it was so great. Merely being in the same house, I thought I was dying. I couldn’t handle it. But, Edward did. He managed to survive…somehow.”

“Barely.” Edward said, “Any longer, I would’ve died inevitably. Volturi or no Volturi, immortality or no immortality…I couldn’t exist. I just…I don’t know how to exist without you, Bella. It’s beyond impossible for me.”

Thinking over those seven months, I realized that I had withstood greater pain than this before. And, if I could do that--if I could survive without Edward--the oxygen in my lungs, the beat of my heart, the blood in my veins, my very existence…I could do this. I could lose Charlie and Renee. And, I would prevail. I had Edward by my side forever…what couldn’t I do?

I nodded, “ ‘Kay. I know…you’re right…he…can’t see me. But, can I at least see him? Just…one last time. He won’t know I’m there; I just…want to see him, see how he’s doing.”

Edward simply stared at me for a long moment before saying, “You, uh--are you sure?”

I nodded confidently. “Please. I have to see him, Edward, he’s my father.”

He looked to Carlisle, almost as if asking for permission, and Carlisle nodded. “I suppose you could see him. Just do not let him see you, whatever you do. And, please, be careful. If the werewolves are after us, we don’t have much time. We must leave…I will not fight them.”

“I’ll do it!” Emmett said, excitedly, “Come on, Jazz, let’s go rough us up some werewolves.”

“Emmett, not now, please.” Esme pleaded, shaking her head almost wearily. “I cannot handle anymore of my sons in danger. Carlisle is right. We will leave immediately.”

“No!” We all nearly yelled and he opened his mouth to retort again, but we repeated, “No!”

“Damn! You pansies anyway.” He folded his arms and smacked his lips, grimacing irritably.

“Go on, Bella.” Carlisle urged.

“I’ll go with her.” Edward said, standing with me, “She can’t be alone right now.” Carlisle nodded and we went outside. “Or ever.” He said, softly enveloping me in his arms, “I’m so sorry, love. I’m sorry I put you through this. You don’t deserve this. You never did--that’s why I refused to take it away from you; can’t you see? Charlie and Renee are just the beginning of what you have given up to be with me.”

“And, I would give up every other person on this planet and the whole universe if necessary to be yours.” I protested, “Edward, I love my parents…but, I could never love them or anyone the way I love you.”

“I sure hope not,” He said, making me roll my eyes.

“You know what I mean.”

“Yes, I do and I cannot believe how ridiculously absurd you are as to even say that.”

“Say what?” I asked, confused.

“Don’t even think about giving anything up to be with me. I believe that is my job.”

“In what alternate universe?” I demanded.

“The one called Reality.” He said, taking my hand and running us off so that I couldn’t protest.