Paved With Good Intentions
If you loved someone, how much would you be willing to sacrifice? Bella makes the most difficult decision of her life; now she has to live with the consequences. A Bella/Edward story.
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 1786 Review this Chapter
Edward did not return by morning; Emmett had planned to travel away from Forks in search of more challenging game. I drove to the carnival, keeping my mind clear by sheer force of will. If I gave myself even a moment to think about what I was doing, I wouldn’t be able to go through with it. Oblivious to the activity around me, I made my way through the carnival grounds to Madame Fontaine’s tent. Almost as if I were sleepwalking, I pushed the tent flap aside and walked in.
“Bella.” Her smoky voice greeted me from across the room. “How nice to see you again.”
I studied her as I took a seat at the table. Not very long ago I would have laughed at the insanity of my thoughts, at the ease with which I accepted this woman for what she was. My experiences of the past two years had taught me that the world was not what it appeared to be. “I don’t want to be here.”
Her eyes were genuinely sympathetic. “I know.” Placing her hands on mine, she said, “You’ve come for your wish.”
Panic caused my heart to race, but I ignored it. “I have some questions first.”
Taking a deep breath, I tried to organize my thoughts. “The man I was with last night, Edward.”
She nodded. “You’re fiancé.”
Why was everyone determined to use that word? Gritting my teeth, I continued. “Do you know…do you know what he is?”
“He’s a vampire.” An eternity of knowledge and compassion filled her voice.
Unable to meet her gaze, I looked down at our joined hands. “Can you make him human?”
Her response was immediate. “Yes.”
It scared me so much that I stopped breathing. Pulling my hands away from hers, I finally gasped in enough air to ask, “Can you change all of them? His whole family?”
“No,” she replied gently. “You remember what I said about things that can only be stretched so far?”
I nodded. “So you can only change a few?”
“One,” she countered firmly. “Just one, Bella.”
My hands clenched into fists. “Only one,” I whispered. A sudden, terrible thought occurred to me. “When would you make him human? Would it be back then…when he died?” He could survive the influenza and live out the rest of his life. Would the past century never have happened, as far as Edward was concerned? We would never meet, never fall in love, never share a single kiss. And as for me…a picture of Tyler Crowley’s van skidding toward me over an icy parking lot flashed through my mind. Was this the cost that Fontaine mentioned?
She shook her head. “No. There are too many threads intertwined for that to be possible. He would become human now, as soon as you make your wish.”
For a brief moment, I allowed myself to hope. What it would be like, for Edward to be human with me now? It would mean giving up so much, but if it gave him the one thing he wanted most, wasn’t it worth it?
“Bella,” she said sharply. “You need to focus, because this is important. I can make Edward human, but at a cost. There’s always a cost.”
She had my attention. “Go on,” I said nervously.
Her blue eyes held mine intensely. “Edward will be human, but he will have a life somewhere else. He won’t remember you, or his family. And you won’t remember him.”
The pain of it was so sharp that for a moment I almost thought I would faint. It was too much; she asked too much. My mind raced, looking for an exception, any kind of loophole. “What about everything that’s happened? He’s done so many things; we would have to remember.”
She shook her head. “The events of the past century will remain as written, but other memories will take the place of the ones you hold now. Most physical evidence will remain as well; only things that provide absolute proof will be removed.” Her eyes were kind. “Bella, I’m not doing this to be cruel. There are rules about this sort of thing; I have to maintain the timeline as closely as I can.”
So this was it. I could grant Edward his humanity, his freedom, but I would lose him in the process.
A thousand crazy, impossible thoughts flew through my mind, each more self-serving than the last. If there was only one wish to be granted, was it really best to use it on Edward? Surely one of the other family members would benefit more. Rosalie…Rosalie wanted to be human even more than Edward did. The thought was tantalizing, but I shook my head. It wouldn’t be fair to Emmett. But was it fair to me, to any of us, to lose Edward? He was the glue that held us all together; he was, whether he believed it or not, the soul of our family. If we didn’t know that we’d once had a soul, would we mourn its loss once gone?
The final thought, the only one that really mattered: What was best for Edward?
“Will he be happy?” I asked desperately.
“He will be human, with the same chance as anyone else,” she replied. “Beyond that, it’s up to him.”
I took a shuddering breath and met her gaze, whispering, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
She looked at me for a long moment and then reached across the table, a jade carving resting in her palm. “Your wish is stored in here. I’ll teach you how to use it. You can take it home and think about it, but you have to decide before midnight. After that, the wish is no longer mine to grant.”
I took the object from her numbly, tracing the pattern with my fingertips. “It’s a butterfly.”
“The symbol of transformation.” She smiled sadly. “Jade is the color for love.”
The weight of it in my hand was an accusation. I didn’t want to touch it, and so I slid it into the pocket of my jeans as I reached for my money. I paid her, and she told me what I would have to do if I decided to go through with the wish. I didn’t thank her; I’m not sure I even said a proper goodbye. I stumbled out of the tent and ran back to my truck, falling once and scraping my hands. Unseeing, I drove too fast through town; it was a miracle that I didn’t hit anything. My thoughts were miles away.
When I stopped the truck, I realized that I had driven to Edward’s house. I stared out the windshield at this place that had become my second home. If I didn’t do anything, if I let events continue as planned, it would become my only home in the near future. If I chose the wish, I wouldn’t just be losing Edward. The house was silent; Carlisle was at work, and everyone else was still out of town. I stepped out of the truck and walked up the front steps, reaching for the key on my key ring. Edward had given it to me just weeks ago, and it had been such a precious gift to me. It meant that I belonged with them. I opened the door and walked into the quiet sanctuary of the living room.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, in the gentle peace of their home. My fingers traced over every surface of the living room and the elegant, barely used kitchen. They had been so thrilled to have me stay with them, because it meant they could buy real food. Eventually I found the strength to enter Edward’s room. I sat in the middle of the elaborate bed he had purchased for us and fought back tears. I looked at his music collection and stared out the window into the woods, wondering what the right decision was. Finally I made my way back downstairs and sat at his piano, running my fingers over the keys. The grief won its battle then, and I bowed my head, weeping for all that I would lose. Hot tears marred the ebony surface of the polished instrument.
Charlie was still gone when I returned home. I went in and started dinner, mechanically assembling ingredients for a meal I barely tasted. When Charlie returned from work I gave him his portion and told him I was going to bed early because I was still tired. He seemed concerned, but something in my face must have told him not to ask. Pulling the hated jade carving out of my pocket, I placed it on the end of my bed. I showered and changed, doing everything I could to put off the hardest decision of my life. Finally I crawled into bed, leaning back against the pillows and staring at the carving as a million memories filled my mind.
My name is Edward Cullen. I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself…
You are the most important thing to me now.
I don’t find you scary at all, actually…
…you really shouldn’t have said that.
Could you believe that, despite everything I’ve put you through, I love you, too?
Amazing…Carlisle was right.
You love me…
…truly, I do.
I promise to love you forever – every single day of forever. Will you marry me?
As the night darkened, I rose from my bed to put a disc in my CD player. Edward’s music swirled around me as I thought about the memories of a lifetime. There was baseball, and laughter, and music. There were parties, and tears, and arguments, and compromises. Should I do this? Could I do this? I thought of a conversation from long ago in a high school cafeteria, a hypothetical scenario that had just become my pressing reality, and I knew what I had to do.
The music stopped at 11:56, but still I sat on the bed, determined to have the last four minutes of my memories. My phone rang; I watched as Alice’s name flashed on the screen. I had counted on her distance from me and preoccupation with wedding arrangements to keep the vision from coming too soon. Now she knew, but it was too late to stop me. I silenced the phone, wanting desperately to hear her voice one last time, but knowing I wasn’t strong enough. Finally I reached for the jade butterfly, curling my fingers around it until the edges cut into my skin. The clock read 11:59. I brought my hand to my chest, holding it tightly, as tightly as I would have held Edward, if I could. If he had ever been mine to hold. Tears poured down my cheeks. I closed my eyes and whispered, “I wish…”
Please take a moment to review. This is my first Twilight story, and I’d like to know how I’m doing. Thanks!