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The Dreams of the Boy In the Nighttime

Summary:
Bella Swan has had a tragic and abusive childhood; everyone knew it. But not everyone knew of the bronze-haired boy who visited her in her dreams. He was the only one who knew the true Bella. But Edward wasn't real, was he? Banner made by Anne Cullen :)


Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended. Twilighted Supervisory Beta: qjmom Twilighted Validation Beta: Twilightzoner


3. It's Downhill from Here

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2756   Review this Chapter

"Make a wish!" Esme voiced enthusiastically from Bella's side, gripping tightly onto a camera as she spoke. Bella blew out her candles with a large grin sitting upon her face. There was a bright flash from the camera and a chorus of "hoorahs" as the small crowd of three finished singing "Happy Birthday."

"What did you wish for?" Alice asked excitedly, eyeing the blue icing of the cake, no doubt filled with the pure essence of hyperactivity.

"Now that would be telling," Esme said, before Bella could tell her. "If you say, it won't come true." she cautioned.

Bella sucked in her lips and shook her head ‘no,' a small smile hidden on her mouth so that the only way you could tell she was smiling was the appearance of dimples on her cheeks.

Alice pouted, but quickly recovered, a grin already spreading across her face. "I know," she said eagerly, "let's play hide go seek!"

Hide go seek was Alice's all-time favorite game, and she always won. Bella didn't refuse the offer though, as she'd learned over their past two years of friendship that it was just easier to go along with whatever Alice wanted. Instead, she sighed and pulling her hands up to cover her eyes, she turned around and leaned into the tree behind her.

"1...2...3...4...5..." When she had gotten to five she peeked in between her fingers, and when she saw that nobody was still standing watching her, she rushed the remaining numbers up to ten.

"Ready or not, here I come!" She called out loudly as she pulled her hands from her face and blinked largely at the unexpectedly bright light. Bella could almost sense the feeling of victory already in the air, but sadly not where it was emerging from.

"Okay, I give up!" Bella yelled after running about and looking in every single place she could think of in the big field. Alice must have been cheating somehow, but she didn't understand how she could do so.

As soon as the words had left her mouth, the small pixie-like girl sprung delicately out from behind a boulder Bella had sworn she'd looked behind on her search.

"I won!" Alice said, clapping her hands together in front of her and jumping ecstatically in the air. The girl was easily pleased. "Again!" she added as she ran up right in front of Bella's face.

"Nobody likes a sore winner, Alice." Esme spoke from the backdoor, where she had just appeared. Her arms were crossed over her chest as she looked sternly at her daughter, though Bella could tell that there was some humor hidden behind Esme's frosty demeanor.

Alice opened her mouth to begin a retort, probably about how she imagined Nobody to be a great guy, but at that moment the sound of a ringing phone could be heard, and Esme disappeared back inside the house.

"How do you always win?" Bella inquired, her lip sticking out in a pout. "I swear I checked there." She pointed in the direction of Alice's hiding place.

"You may well have done, young Bella, but a magician never reveals his secrets. Besides, I know these things, remember." Alice tapped her temple with her fore-finger. Both her tone and the expression displayed in her eyes were filled with mysterious implications.

Bella was about to inquire further - it wasn't the first time Alice had said that she ‘knew things,' but a voice interrupted hers as she began to speak her thoughts.

"Bella, dear?" Esme called cautiously, walking toward her across the grass. When she was close enough, Esme grabbed hold of Bella's hand from where it hung limply at her side and looked with dejection, but determination, into her eyes.

"Bella, that was the hospital on the phone right then..."

"Yes?" Bella asked when Esme did not continue.

"It's your father," Esme rushed out.

"And?" she asked, as the feeling of unease began to set through her.

"He's had an accident."

Bella couldn't, at first, take in Esme's words. She just stood frozen as the clouds moved in front of the rare September sunlight, shadowing the world in gloomy darkness.

"He... he's dead?" she concluded disbelievingly, staring worriedly into Esme's eyes.

"Yes." she replied shortly, not wanting to make it any worse for Bella by drawing it out and rambling on. Bella didn't say anything, she didn't even cry as both Esme and Alice expected her to. She just stood completely still, the world growing darker and darker around her as she did so.

"Bella?" Alice's voice spoke nervously from her side, shaking her shoulder softly.

"Bella?" she called again, shaking her shoulder a little harder. Bella felt herself tipping backward as the darkness became more and more prominent and finally, all consuming in her vision.

"Bella!" The cry was frantic instead of pleading, though it wasn't one which belonged to the two women surrounding her, or even the booming voice of Alice's older brother who had joined them. No, it was the voice that she always longed to hear and that she yearned for even more than usual at that moment. Edward's voice was the last she heard before she succumbed into the blackness.

###

Bella sobbed deeply into Edward's chest for the several minutes she was unconscious. His shirt just absorbed her tears as he held her to him, whispering words of reassurance into her ear. They were sat underneath their favorite tree in the whole meadow, and Bella was atop his lap.

The tree was an old oak, and its breadth was so wide that Bella and Edward couldn't reach around it even when they held each other's hands. It seemed to reach right up into the sky, higher and higher it went. Bella had fantasized many times when she was even younger than she was now about climbing up into the tallest branches of the tree and stepping onto the fluffy white clouds. When she had suggested her plan to Edward, he had told her she was silly and laughed jokingly. Bella's lower lip had stuck out and it had taken Edward wrapping his arms around her to stop her from falling into tears.

Rain thundered down outside of the tree, but Bella and Edward hardly noticed. It was like they were in their own bubble, and nothing outside of it could even begin to affect them.

Bella's sobs began to calm, and Edward ran his hand up and down her back.

"Shhh, it's going to be okay, Bella," Edward whispered.

"He... he was my father," she spluttered out, and Edward continued to rub his hand along her back.

"Shhh..." he said again. Bella's sobs slowly began to subside. She was calmed by the pitter-pattering of the rain as it bounced off the green leaves and fell to the ground. But, she was even more calmed by the soft breaths that blew into her hair and by the shifting of Edward's chest underneath her, moving with every breath he took.

"Shhh..." he whispered once more, before her body relaxed and she fell into unconsciousness in his arms.

Edward stayed awake for several minutes longer, watching Bella's face. She was so peaceful when she slept. He listened to the rain that fell from the heavens, but mostly he thought about Charlie Swan and the sensation of anger filled his body. Bella didn't deserve this pain. He shifted his jaw in fury. As his hostility lessened, he looked back to Bella, and felt the uncomfortable but necessary sensation as the pain she could no longer feel transferred to him while she slept in this magical meadow.

His heart spiked and tears prickled his eyes, but he blinked them away quickly before they could cascade down his face.

It's worth it, he thought as his eyelids began to shut and he, too, fell into a deep slumber.

###

Alice and Bella walked slowly but surely down the staircase. Bella's hand was grasped tightly in Alice's reassuring one. The two girls were dressed in similar attire. Bella was wearing a plain black dress with a hem of black lace that made her want to scratch her knees. She had a piece of black netting fastened to the bun at the back of her head that fell down over her face. It obscured her glazed eyes from view and hid where the tears left an unperturbed, glistening trail down her rosy cheeks.

"Come on, girls." Esme was standing beside the open door, and she nodded her head in the direction of where the rain was pouring down from the skies. Bella sniffed and allowed Alice to lead her to the door. Esme picked up a black umbrella from where it was leaning against the wall and proceeded to open it over her head and those of the two girls as they stepped outside into the rain.

The drive to the funeral was led in silence. The only sound that could be heard was the growling of the engine beneath them. Throughout the whole journey Esme shot worried glances at Bella's reflection in the rearview mirror, but Bella didn't notice.

Bella's head was hung, and she was staring blankly at her patent leather shoes. Alice could sense her friend's pain, but she didn't mention anything. She'd grown to discern that Bella was more one to suffer in silence than to voice her problems. Alice was quite the opposite, and it was a strain for her to allow the quiet to envelop the vehicle.

Esme was once again proud of her daughter. She could see this inner battle raging behind the young girl's eyes, and her suspicions were only confirmed by Alice's agitation as she fumbled with her fingers while sitting in the back seat. But, she had yet to break the silence.

The car pulled up into a church parking lot which was almost completely empty. The weather hadn't changed much in the ten mile distance between the two venues, but there seemed to be a dark cluster of clouds centered over the building.

There were several dozen age old grave stones embedded in the small plane of grass in front of the church. The gray colorings of the stone seemed to merge with the murky green grass, making it appear as if they just blended into each other.

The click-clacking of Esme's heels hitting the concrete path followed the girls into the church, the sound echoing around the site ominously. The pews were made of chestnut, dimmed with age, and there was a thin sheen of dust layered over the seats. The floor tiles were maroon colored, darkened from overuse that made them look dirty no matter how clean they were in reality.

There weren't very many people inside the church, just people Bella barely recognized as colleagues of her father, but she slid into the pew furthest from the front of the church nonetheless, Alice and her mother sliding in beside her. The music emitting from the organ behind them was despondent, with several buoyant chords that would have made the music jovial in any other circumstance, but that in this one only furthered the melancholy.

A portly gentleman stepped onto the lectern at the front at that moment. He was dressed nearly fully in black, but wore a white collar at his neck, so Bella assumed he was the minister. He cleared his throat in a way which was plainly unnecessary, but served to emphasize his superiority.

"We are gathered here today to commemorate the sad and unfortunate death of one Charles Swan..." he boomed through the microphone. Bella tuned out his voice and returned her eyes to her shoes.

Alice looked helplessly at her friend and bit down hard on her lip. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned toward her mother's maternal gaze. Esme communicated something silently in that one glance, and Alice nodded, turning back to her friend. She squeezed Bella's hand and gathered her into her arms, something which was hard to do if you took into consideration how much bigger Bella was than Alice.

Bella hardly noticed the embrace. Instead, she was reliving the vivid memory of a different pair of arms enveloping her, the calming voice of another uttering words of comfort into her ear. The tears that leaked from her eyes now and that began to soak into Alice's dress were the same tears that had soaked into Edward's shirt.

She wanted Edward. She needed Edward.

It wasn't long before Bella was walking out of the back doors to the church, Alice still grasping her hand securely, behind a large black coffin held by the four men Bella had spotted earlier.

They stood beside the large rectangular hole as the coffin was lowered slowly into the earth. The pastor was still droning on about something or other, but Bella could no longer hear him. His voice was just a monotone murmur in the back of her head.

Her eyes were centered wholly on the black box, though she wasn't thinking of anything, couldn't think of anything, except for the words that had plagued her mind and echoed constantly through her head since she'd heard the news.

He was my father.

The minister's voice finally ceased, only for another voice to begin where he'd left off. The new man spoke only a few words and so did the man after him and the one after him. There was a silent pause before Bella heard Alice's voice whisper in her ear, "Bella, you have to say something."

Bella hadn't realized that she'd spoken, but she heard her croaky disused voice utter those four words. "He was my father," she said.

There was another pause as everybody waited for Bella to elaborate, but when it was apparent that she wasn't going to continue, the minister began to speak again of spiritual signs and meanings before he dismissed the group and the first shovelful of soil was emptied onto the box.

Esme's eyes were still trained on Bella, worry etched into her forehead. Bella still hadn't recognized the dismissal, and was continuing to stare at the coffin as more and more dirt was emptied onto it.

"Excuse me, Ms. Cullen?" a nasally voice asked from beside her. Esme turned to see a businesslike woman that she hadn't noticed at the ceremony until now. The woman held her hand out in front of her, a fake smile plastered on her friend.

"Hello, I'm Mrs. Stanley, and I work for the Child Protection Society. I was wondering when it would be a good time to talk about where Bella's future will go from here?"

"Excuse me?" Esme choked out. She was confused. Bella had nowhere else to go. She wouldn't be going with them, would she?

The woman lowered her hand when it became clear that Esme wasn't going to shake it. "Well, it's terribly nice of you to have taken care of her over the last couple of days, but it isn't right for her to stay with you for any longer time."

"What do you mean?" Esme felt her chest tighten at the thought of the girl, who might as well have been her daughter, being taken away from here.

"Well, I'm terribly sorry," she said, not seeming sorry at all, "but, you're not family, and it isn't ri-" She was cut off by Esme's voice which was becoming more and more persistent and even slightly aggressive.

"I'm as good as!" she inserted.

"I'm sorry, this is not open for discussion; it's the law. Here's my card." She placed the small offending white card into Esme's hand. "Call me in a few days when everything has settled down a little. There's no need to rush any of this."

The woman turned on her heel and walked away, leaving Esme as frozen as a statue behind her. She couldn't get her head around it. Bella had no family. She hadn't even considered...

Her eyes rested on the two dark-haired girls beside the grave and her chest tightened again.

Bella.

They couldn't.

They wouldn't.

They would.