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.
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I awoke groggily as sunlight poured through the window of my room and spread its heat across my face. Sunlight. Edward and I will have to stay hidden today. For some reason, thinking his name sent a searing pain of anguish and loss through me. I sat up, feeling every muscle in my body wince in protest. What happened yesterday? I felt like I’d gone ten rounds with a prize fighter…or a hungry vampire.
As I moved, something slid across the bedspread and fell to the floor. Leaning over the edge of the bed, I stared at the jade carving that lay there. Memories from the previous two days flooded me in brilliant images.
The carnival, a mysterious sign over a tent, and a deep, instinctive fear…
A kiss filled with desperation and danger…
Longing for something he thought would never be fulfilled…
The unyielding sympathy in Fontaine’s blue eyes…
And me, holding the carving to my chest, speaking the most painful words of my life, weeping for all that I would lose. Darkness had surrounded me then, wind and noise swirling around my room and buffeting my body until I began to grow faint. I welcomed it, because I knew that when I woke, my memories would be gone. The only way I could possibly survive this was if I never remembered him at all. I fell to the bed as the room grew black…
Yet here I was, and I remembered everything. Every touch, every kiss, every word. I rose from the bed and raced to my CD player, pressing buttons with shaking fingers. Edward’s sweet music swelled to fill each crevice of the room and the hidden corners of my abused, tender heart. Light from the window flashed on my left hand, stopping to sparkle at the ring on my third finger. I raised my hand in front of my face, staring in disbelief as I tried to comprehend what this meant. Nothing had changed, and I remembered everything. There was only one explanation, and joy filled me until I burst into tears from the beauty of it. It hadn’t worked! Fontaine was a fake; the whole thing had been an elaborate scam. I was so thrilled that I didn’t even care that I had wasted a significant portion of my savings on a phony jade figurine.
I danced back to my bed, so filled with my love for Edward and his for me that for once I didn’t even stumble. I held my left hand to my heart, allowing myself to admit how very precious his ring was to me. I didn’t care anymore that I was too young to marry; I’d marry him this morning if he would let me. Grabbing my cell phone, I pressed the button that would speed dial his number. Surely he was back from his hunting trip; he must have stayed home because of the sun.
My thoughts stumbled to a halt as I realized that instead of ringing and the sound of his beloved voice, I was greeted with an automated message telling me that the phone I was trying to reach was not in service. Frowning, I hung up, wondering if my speed dial had been reprogrammed somehow. I dialed the number directly this time, taking care to press the numbers slowly. The same message played, and I felt the first stirrings of unease. Shaking my head to dispel any doubts, I called Alice instead.
She answered on the first ring, her musical soprano soothing my shattered nerves. “Hello?”
“Alice! I’m trying to reach Edward, but his phone’s disconnected for some reason. What did you do, forget to pay the bill?” I teased.
There was a long pause. When she spoke again, her voice was cautious. “I’m sorry; who is this?”
That trickle of unease called louder, begging my attention. True, I hadn’t said who I was, but my name would have shown up on her phone. Besides, I didn’t have to tell her who was calling; this was Alice. Trying to control my voice, I said, “It’s Bella, silly. Do you know where Edward is?”
Again that unsettling pause. Finally she spoke, definitely suspicious now. “Bella Swan? From school?”
Oh God. “Yes,” I whispered. I could say no more.
She spoke with the polite formality of a stranger. “It’s good to hear from you, Bella. We haven’t really seen each other since graduation, have we? I’m out of town with my sister and mother, so I can’t speak for too long, but I’ll be glad to help you in any way that I can. Who were you asking me about? I don’t know anyone named Edward…”
She continued talking, but her words fell on unhearing ears as the phone tumbled from my hands. I slid to the floor, trying desperately to think as grief battered against the fragile edges of my self-control. Alice didn’t remember; it must have worked. Edward was human somewhere. I looked at the ring on my finger and listened to the glorious music that continued to fill my room. Fontaine had said that as little would change as was possible. What were her exact words? Only absolute physical proof would have to be altered. Absolute…what kinds of things were so concrete that they couldn’t be left behind?
Pictures. If I could find even one picture of him, it meant he had to exist here, with me. I rose from my crumpled position next to the bed and flew to my desk, throwing items to the floor in my haste to find what I was seeking. Finally my hand closed over it: a packet of pictures from the graduation party at the Cullen’s house. Edward and I had had been in several shots.
He wasn’t there. The party had still taken place; every decoration was just as I remembered it. I was pictured, as were Alice and the family, along with my friends. I was smiling in a way that should have been impossible without Edward beside me.
I sat in my desk chair, not trusting my legs to continue supporting me. It could only mean one thing. Edward was gone from me, as finally and cruelly as if he’d died. Fontaine’s wish had worked, but not perfectly. Why did I remember? I was supposed to forget! Immediately my mind supplied the answer, so heartbreakingly obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. How many times had Edward lamented not being able to hear my thoughts? Then in Italy, when the Volturi hadn’t been able to hurt me…
It was my mind, my hated, private mind. It had denied Edward, and the Volturi, and now remained immune to whatever magic Fontaine had worked last night. How could I ever have been glad that my mind protected my thoughts, protected me from harm, if it now meant that I was doomed forever to remember a love that had never existed? Because that was what had happened. He was gone, and I would have to remember. Forever.
I bowed my head into my hands and cried.