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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


5. The Ugly Duckling

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3583   Review this Chapter

The day Bella left was a memory implanted deeply in all three Cullens' heads. Even Emmett - who had kept his distance from the young girl, being under the impression that he frightened her - was sad to see her leave the big house by the river.

"Bye, Bella," Alice whispered hoarsely into her best friend's ear as they embraced by the white door. Tears were streaming down Alice's cheeks, but she did not attempt to remove them. Instead, she allowed them to stain her blotchy cheeks with their glistening drops. There were no tears falling from Bella's eyes, and Alice couldn't help but think it strange. But, there was no mistaking that the emotion in her eyes was anything but sorrow.

Alice removed herself from Bella's arms, and they fell limp by her sides. Emmett took the space where Alice had been, and picked Bella up, pulling her against his chest. "I know I didn't show it very much, Bells. But, I'm gonna miss you, too." As he put her back down on the floor, Bella's legs turned to jelly. She would've fallen to the ground if it were not for the final pair of arms left to embrace her.

Esme sobbed into Bella's shoulder, though she tried to stop herself so that she could take her turn to whisper into the girl's ear. "Good-bye, my daughter," she said in between her sobs. Esme held her longer than the other two had, and Bella felt as if she was going to cry like she had all of last night. But there were no tears to fall.

"Come on, Bella," Mrs. Stanley - the woman the whole family had grown to loathe over the past few weeks - spoke from under a navy umbrella, just outside the door. After one last squeeze for good measure, Esme let go of Bella and took a step back to observe the vacant expression of the girl.

"Thank you for being so cooperative," Mrs. Stanley said, "When we spoke at the funeral, I was afraid that maybe you'd be less... accommodating to our rules."

"It's the law," Esme spoke through her teeth, trying to hold onto any civility that she still had in her, which was, admittedly, very little.

Mrs. Stanley walked Bella to the taxi, and the both of them climbed into the backseat. The Cullens had waved from the door, but it was unlikely that Bella would have seen them. Once she'd left, they hadn't known quite what to do with themselves. It felt wrong somehow to just continue on with their daily chores.

Instead, they chose wordlessly, to sit in the living room together, just the three of them and the silence of the house - the silence which they had grown used to being filled by Bella's jubilant cries. Alice and Esme were both still crying, and Esme wrapped her arms around Alice so that she could sob into her daughter's hair whilst Alice wept into Esme's chest. Emmett felt like the odd man out and was the first to vacate to his room. The other two stayed on the couch for a good hour, though, before they agreed that they should get on with their day, or nothing would get done.

###

Alice stood leaning against her locker with her eyes closed, as she tried to will the voices away. Her brow was crumpled in concentration, but when she heard the bell ring from down the hallway, she admitted that her attempt was futile, and allowed the voices to swarm around her head as she walked to class. Alice was nearing her last day of high school, now, and the people who'd excluded her in elementary school and middle school - both - had inevitably followed her there.

They had been her friends before Bella had taken their place, though after she'd made friends with the New Girl, it had become clear that they were not truly her friends, or they would not have excluded her as they had. Sometimes she wished she hadn't taken the plunge and become Bella's friend. She'd think that maybe, if she'd just rejected her like the others did, because of her traumatic life in Phoenix, they wouldn't resent her as much as they did now for leaving their social circle which, of course, was so superior to everyone else's.

Whenever she'd considered the thought, however, she'd immediately dismissed it and had felt ashamed for even thinking of it in the first place. Bella had been, and still was, the best friend she'd ever had. Nobody had anticipated her leaving, not even Alice herself, and she could never have seen then what would've happened if she'd befriended her.

She was glad that she had, though. Bella had needed somebody, and that somebody clearly wasn't going to be found within her family. Alice slid into her desk at the back of the classroom and proceeded to place her iPod earphones into her ears in a way that would be invisible to anyone who didn't look too closely.

She found herself humming quietly along to the music as she flipped through her notebook to where her History notes were. History was her favorite subject and the only subject in which she could risk raising her hand and answer correctly. She turned up the volume on her iPod, hoping that her concentration on her notes and the added noise would help to deafen her from the voices.

After she realized that her notes were not helping anything, she put them back on her desk, and instead proceeded to close her eyelids, as she had in the hallway, and concentrate wholly on the pounding beats of the heavy metal music. She was so absorbed that she didn't hear the footsteps coming closer and closer to her. She only acknowledged the two girls' presence on either side of her when she felt the ear buds yanked out her ears and the sting as a hardback book slammed into the back of her head.

Her eyes immediately flashed open, but she didn't bother to turn her head. She knew who would be standing there, and did not wish to see their satisfied faces sneering at her. Instead, she just picked up her notes again, trying to focus on what they had been doing the lesson before, attempting to implant the dates in her head as she did so.

At that moment the teacher walked in, and she pulled out a pen to begin her notes for another lesson. She could still feel the sting at the back of her head. It was a sick reminder of the girls' hostility toward her, and she had to bite down on her lip to stop herself from bursting into tears every time she thought about it during the next hour.

###

The rest of Alice's day went by relatively normally. The girls didn't try anything for the remainder of the day, and she was glad. She sat by herself at lunch, as usual.

Since her brother left for college two years ago, she hadn't had anyone to sit with to eat, and even when she had, she hadn't felt as if she fit in with the well-muscled boys and their disgusting dining habits. Well, disgusting except for Emmett's, who had eaten his lunches in a much more civilized manner than his friends. He had been brought up by Esme Cullen, after all.

The trip home in the overly optimistic yellow bus was also spent alone, as Esme thought it a waste of the world's finite resources to take a car to school when there was a perfectly good bus service that could do the trip just as well. It didn't matter to her, or maybe it just hadn't come to her attention, that making Alice take the bus to school did nothing to help with her incredibly low social status and made her the butt of even more pranks that the girls at school liked to play on her.

When Alice got home, she went straight to the kitchen. Esme still hadn't stopped baking for her return home, as she had when she was a child, and Alice didn't complain. She grabbed a muffin and had started to climb the staircase, but stopped in her tracks when she heard sound of her mother's voice calling her name.

"Alice?" Esme called from where she had just exited the kitchen.

"Uh uh?" Alice said, her mouth full of the moist muffin.

"Something came in the mail for you, hon." Esme came into view with her arm outstretched and a large envelope in her hand.

"Okay," Alice said, her voice no longer muffled by the cake, her mouth empty. She took the envelope from her mother and walked back into the kitchen, Esme tailing slowly after her. She pulled out one of the chairs and proceeded to sit at the table.

She laid down the remainder of her muffin on the table, and tore open the envelope. She had only noted the writing at the top of the page that read, "University of Oregon," before Esme spoke out.

"Congratulations!" She took the final step toward her daughter, and put her arms around her neck, bending down so her head was rested on her shoulder.

Alice's eyes were still skimming through the remainder of the writing, but she managed to get out a sentence as she continued to read. "How... how did you know?"

"That you got accepted?" she asked rhetorically, "Well it said ‘University of Oregon' on the front, sweetie, and they weren't going to send an envelope that thick to say that you got rejected, now, were they?"

"We... Well, no. But..." she mumbled so quietly that Esme didn't hear her.

"Oh! My little girl is growing up!" She nuzzled Alice's neck and squeezed her even tighter.

###

Bella was sitting in the backseat of the black Mercedes, and her head leaning against the window. Her eyes were closed as she tried to will the bags underneath them to disappear through the only way she knew how. It had only been just over seven-and-a-half years since her move to Phoenix, but if felt like much longer.

She could hardly remember Alice at all, and only had faint memories of baking and games played around a colossal garden. In fact, the day that she had found out about her father's death was one of the clearest from her past. She could reminisce on all the details of that day, though it was one that she wished she could forget the most.

There had been good parts of that day, though; namely, the comfort of a bronze haired boy found in her unconsciousness, and the reassuring arms of her family, whom she'd loved. She sighed. That was the past - way, way back in the past. She knew that she would never have such a happy time in her life again.

Her existence was now ruled by a group of narcissistic stereotypical high school girls. All of them seemed to hone such a potent dislike for her, a dislike that she could only guess was fed to them from her cousin. At least it had taught her to grow thick skin, and her feelings were now almost always hidden behind such a profuse exterior that it took a very strong force to be able to penetrate through it, a force only found in the faith of a boy in her dreams.

She felt a hand touch hers and she opened her eyes, meeting a pair of searing blue ones. The beauty of her cousins had done nothing but improve through their adolescence, and she couldn't help but feel like the ugly duckling. Maybe she was the ugly duckling. She was unwanted, unattractive - it all fit.

"Bella?" Jasper said, "We're here." She lifted her head slightly and nodded in his direction. She didn't need to speak with Jasper. Nobody did. It was as if he understood what you were feeling or trying to say. Anyway, he needed no confirmation by way of speech.

She sighed from being denied the sleep she had yearned for, and proceeded to open the car door. She walked around to the trunk and pulled out her bag, swinging it over her shoulder as she slamming the lid closed. Just as she was turning around, she heard the sound of a revving engine behind her, and knew that Rosalie had arrived.

Why Rosalie insisted on driving her convertible to school, Bella would never know. It was just as convenient - and stylish - to be driven to school by your family's own personal driver in a Mercedes. Yet, she was determined to get her way, and as usual ‘Daddy' obliged.

After her first hour of class, Bella returned to her locker. Her bag was laden with books, pulling down her shoulder and making it ache, yet she still had to grab more books for her next class. The large clock on the wall was ticking away, and Bella was very aware of its progress as she turned the numbers on the dial.

She swung the door open and stopped, frozen in her tracks at the sight before her. Bella always kept her iPod in her locker. It was the safest place for it while she was at school. Well... that's what she had thought. She reached out one arm to hold the object in her hand.

She raised it closer to her face, but as expected, the illusion did not change. The screen had an elongated crack down it, so did the dial underneath it. It was clear that it had been hit with something very heavy. Nothing else would have been able to make a crack that big.

She pressed down on the buttons on the dial, but, as she suspected, it didn't work. She held the object tightly in her hand and she could see her skin turning white around it. She felt a tear trail down her face. It was a tear of sadness. They had done it. They had broken through her exterior, and she'd had enough.

She stuffed the abused device into her jacket pocket and pulled out her cell, dialing the number for James.

"Hello? James?" she spoke into the phone. "Can you possibly come and collect me? I'm not feeling too well." She didn't wait for a response and just hung up the phone. She knew that he would come. He served the Hales and, in effect, her. She hated to let Rosalie and her posse know that they had won, but they had, one thousand times, and they never allowed her to forget it.

More tears followed the first as she walked to the front of the school. She ignored all the quizzical looks of her fellow classmates and only stopped when she had reached the sidewalk, sitting down on the curb.

It wasn't long before the black Mercedes pulled up, and she wordlessly stood up and climbed into the back seat. The journey was spent in silence as she stared at her iPod. No thoughts were coming from the act, but she couldn't bear to tear her eyes away from it. When she returned home, there was nobody at the house, except for James and herself, of course. Carlisle was at work and Jasper was still at school, Rosalie with him.

Rosalie would probably know that she'd won by now. It never really was a competition. Why did she bother to try if she knew that she was going to win anyway? Bella didn't understand.

She walked into the kitchen on the way to her room, but three large white envelopes on the kitchen table caught her attention. They were exactly identical, but on closer inspection, she noticed that they were each addressed to a separate person. There was one for her, one for Rosalie and one for Jasper.

She picked up hers curiously and sat down at the table. She pulled out the paper within and read the words, "Congratulations, you've been accepted at University of Oregon," before she placed it back down on the table. She was uninterested in anything else they said beyond those words.

She continued her walk up to her room, rubbing at her eyes, which still had tears falling out of them. The sun was streaming through her window and she remembered back to when she had first arrived in the huge house, and how the views of Phoenix and the immense size of her room had amazed her so greatly. She thought nothing of it now. It wasn't home. It was the room that she lived in. Home was in the meadow, and home she wanted to be.

She walked over to her CD player and slotted in a disk of classical music that was lying on the top. She allowed the flowing melody to lull her into a false sense of security, trying to clear all thoughts from her mind, before collapsing onto her bed. She focused wholly on the music, not on her university acceptance, and especially not on Rosalie Hale. It wasn't long before she fell asleep, and her fatigue-driven body welcomed it.

###

The meadow was beautiful today. Though it was only January, the temperature did not affect Bella, the cold allowing a beautiful light to filter through the medium of the air. There was a slight wind blowing across the waters of the lake, creating ripples that flowed in waves to the bank, like a beach. As Bella took in the serenity of the place, she could feel her defenses finally falling.

She walked up right to the edge of the bank, where there was a foot drop to the lake, and wrapped her arms around a tree trunk, swinging herself around it so that she was hanging above the water. She may have been eighteen, but she was still entitled to childish moments.

"Bella," she heard a voice whisper into her ear. Immediately her arms unclasped and she braced herself for the impact of the icy cold waters of the lake... that never came. She felt a pair of strong, warm arms under her back, and opened her eyes to be met by a pair of green emerald ones. The eyes were amused as they stared down at her, and she could feel herself blushing.

Edward chuckled as he put her back on her feet. Bella turned determinedly in the other direction as soon as her feet touched the ground, facing the hill, and walked swiftly away from him. He easily kept pace with her, but she pretended that she couldn't see him beside her. When she had gotten halfway up the hill, she felt a hand on her shoulder, and Edward turned her around to face him. She sighed, sitting down in the grass in front of him. He sat across from her, so that they were both sitting cross-legged, facing each other.

"How've you been, Bella?" he asked cautiously. He could tell from the emotion in her eyes that she wasn't in the most joyous of moods.

"I got into UOFO," she said softly.

"Bella, that's great!" Edward couldn't see what the problem was.

"Uh uh..."

"What's wrong?"

"Jasper and Rosalie got into UOFO, too," she said in the same soft voice.

"Oh." He didn't know what else he could say to her. He could tell that there was something else bothering her, but he'd learnt over the years that it was best, with Bella, if you just let her tell you whatever was wrong in her own time. He held out his arms in front of him, wrapping them around her back, and pulling her into a slightly uncomfortable embrace.

After a few moments of that, Edward sighed, and instead leant back against the grass so that she was lying on top of him. Bella relaxed quietly on top of him, listening to Edward's heart beating loudly in her ear, and the sensation of his undulating chest as he breathed in and out.

"Rosalie broke my iPod." She thought that she must've sounded childish, but Edward understood the gravity of what the act and what it did to her, even if Rosalie Hale didn't.

"Oh, Bella." He pulled her even closer to his chest in comfort.

Bella could feel the moisture building up behind her tear ducts. She didn't try to stop them as she sobbed deeply into Edward's chest.

"It was the last memory I had of them!" she managed to get out in between sobs.

"Shhh, it's going to be okay, Bella." Edward wasn't totally sure if the words he were speaking were true - Bella seemed to be digging her own grave deeper and deeper, and soon she wouldn't be able to climb out of the hole - but, he spoke the words anyway.

Bella cried herself to sleep in the meadow that night, Edward following soon after her. He just wished that his friend's hard times would end soon.

He was afraid they would kill her.