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Morning Dew

Summary:
Did the battle scene at the end of Breaking Dawn leave you feeling cheated?
Were you expecting an epic fight and some well-deserved suffering?
Did Bella's perfect happiness get on your nerves? This is my alternate ending to Breaking Dawn.


Notes:
I don't know about you, but Breaking Dawn severely diminished my excitement about Twilight. I just didn't like the book much. The characters were all totally off, the plot was not well thought-through, and the writing made my eyes water. When the book finally advanced to the battle scene, I was exultant -- I thought that the story would finally take the right turn and amend for all the confusion from the beginning. But then nothing happened. SM later called it "strategy"... but I seriously see no connection between what happened in BD and The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. So I decided to test the waters myself, and see if I could do any better. That being said, I would like to remind you of two things: a) I am not an author. I know I'm not better than SM. I'm just a sixteen-year-old venting her frustration.
b) I don't mean to offend anyone who liked BD. Everyone's entitled to an own opinion. You can still enjoy this story if you did :) The story kicks off right where the Volturi are deciding whether or not to attack. Until then everything stays as it is -- if you need to refresh your memory, feel free to check Breaking Dawn (I had to do that quite a lot, especially in the beginning. I hope there are no contradictions. If you find any, however, please let me know). The italics in the beginning are straight from the book. Beta'ed by TRDancer from fanfiction.net


9. Happy Men's Thoughts

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2712   Review this Chapter


The sun had melted away most of the snow that had fallen just before the battle, but a few rare snow banks had survived and colored the green landscape with a bit of white. It was dark now, and clouds had started gathering in the sky again, making the view gloomy. Yet there was a strange peace in the air, probably because it was so quiet. The only motion came from my family as they continued to search the area. Only I had given up.

Edward had darted after Emmett soon after he'd cried out. I could tell he had too much excess energy and that the whole exercise was more for the movement than for the hope of finding something. Emmett, too, was not particularly optimistic. He kept searching the same places, as if he thought something might have changed since the last time he checked there. Rosalie was far away in the woods, probably looking for a new trail. I assumed Esme was with her, as she was nowhere to be seen.

In a way I felt bad for being the only one who'd admitted defeat so early. After all, this was my daughter we were talking about. My flesh and blood. In a perfect world, I would have been uprooting trees in my efforts to find her.

But this wasn't a perfect world, and I was not a perfect mum. I'd experienced too much disappointment in the last few days to handle it all. What's worse, my self-disgust weighed me down even more, rendering me useless. Maybe I was being a coward. Or maybe I was just being realistic.

So instead of helping my family, all I did was sink down to the ground and try to drown the world away in my grief.

I was so consumed by my sorrow that at first I did not hear the twig snap behind me. Only when I sensed a presence right behind my back did I turn my head to check who it was.

Carlisle was standing there, looking down on me with empathy written all across his face. I welcomed his calming aura, but also noted a slight discoloration of his eyes—they were pitch black and distressed, something I'd never seen in Carlisle before.

"Bella." He nodded, dropping his hands from behind his back. "Do you mind if I join you?"

I was really in no mood for any social activity, but I nodded nonetheless—it was less strenuous than having to speak. Carlisle lowered himself slowly and slouched down beside me.

He was quiet for a long while. I started to drift away from reality again, into my own little world in my head where none of this pain existed.

But before I could get there, Carlisle's voice pulled me out of it.

"I understand what you are going through, Bella, but I want you to know that life will go on," he spoke quietly. His tone made it sound like he was continuing an ongoing conversation rather than beginning a new one.

I looked away from him and sighed. He had no idea. How could life go on after this? My darling daughter was gone, Demetri was out there, and I would never even get the chance to say goodbye. Involuntarily, I started recollecting memories of her—the day I'd held her tiny body in my arms for the first time, the day she'd learned to walk, the day she'd started reading on her own…

Before I could stop it, a huge sob erupted from my chest. I felt Carlisle put an arm around my shoulders and closed my eyes, frantically trying to stop myself from crying. But I was unsuccessful. Every breath I took felt like a tear.

The more I cried, the tighter Carlisle pushed me against himself. At first I felt like pushing him away, but then I noticed just how comforting his presence was and didn't fight it. As the sorrow gushed from me, Carlisle just emitted wonderful calm. He was like a campfire in a cold, rainy night. Cruelly, I wondered if Edward could ever be like that to his daughter. Right now he seemed more frantic than calm. Maybe he didn't have this gift—or was that something that came with the years?

When my crying started to quiet, I drew back from Carlisle's embrace, suddenly embarrassed. Despite everything, I'd always thought of him as my father-in-law. I'd known him for such a short time compared to everyone else. I'd practically barged into his family and forced myself upon him. And then I expected him to be my shoulder to cry on?

Carlisle let me go, but didn't leave my side. After a while, he spoke again.

"How much do you know about Esme?" he asked me. I turned to look at him despite myself. I hadn't expected the conversation to take this turn.

"Quite much, I guess," I replied, not quite knowing what "quite much" actually was. Edward had never been keen on giving away everyone's secrets. I couldn't know how much he'd kept from me.

Without breaking eye contact, Carlisle nodded. "Do you know how she died?" he asked on carefully.

I nodded. "She jumped from a cliff and ended up in the morgue of your hospital."

"Yes," Carlisle said. His voice implemented that my answer wasn't quite what he'd meant. "But do you know why she jumped from that cliff, Bella?"

I stared out into the trees. Edward had told me why Esme had killed herself. I also saw what Carlisle wanted to say.

"It's not the same, Carlisle," I told him, trying my best to keep my voice steady. In result, it came out wispy and meek.

He sighed, turning his head away from me. His eyes looked out at nothing in particular, and I knew what he was seeing were old memories. It was funny, at that moment, how much he reminded me of Edward in his better days.

"Esme had fled from her husband not long before it happened. Her family had broken contact with her, feeling that she'd shamed them. Her friends avoided her. Back then, divorce was widely frowned down upon, no matter the circumstances. All she had was the baby."

I shut my eyes and tried not to let my feelings overflow again. It was hard, as I knew how Esme must have felt—in a way, I was all alone myself. But I didn't even have my baby.

Carlisle continued quietly, now looking at me with his black eyes that were both distressed and calm at the same time. "It was cruel fate that her child should die right then. The disease came over him fast, and he was dead before she knew it. It became too much for her to handle—"

"—I know what you're getting at, Carlisle, but it's not quite the same," I interrupted him, not wanting to hear any more about babies dying and mothers grieving.

"How so?" he asked me, gently holding my gaze.

"Well, for one, I can't commit suicide. And Renesmee isn't dead."

Carlisle's dark eyes gleamed a little. "Exactly."

I frowned, annoyed that I'd stumbled over my own words. "Just because it isn't the same doesn't mean it's any better."

"What I am trying to tell you, Bella, is that even when things seem like they couldn't get any worse, there is something more awaiting you in the future. The thread of life isn't straight. It's like a pendulum, always swaying from side to side. We cannot see where it is going, but that doesn't mean the future isn't there." Carlisle's speech became rushed, and I noticed that he was in his element: philosophy. The many centuries had obviously given him much time to think. There was suddenly much more excitement in him, although he never quite lost his calm touch. He seemed like a naïve young boy and a wise old man at the same time as he spoke.

But despite his obvious conviction, I could not believe his words. They sounded like something a happy man had thought of long time ago, someone who had never been in the situation I was in. How could it be possible to survive this agony?

When Carlisle noticed that I wouldn't answer, he breathed out and closed his eyes, suddenly looking more ancient than usual—like an old marble statue whose shine was starting to wear off from its years.

"You think I do not understand you," he continued in barely over a whisper. "And you are right. Perhaps I have never lost a child. Perhaps I am too optimistic for my own good. But there is one thing time has taught me, and that is that it never stops."

Instead of comforting me, his words made me feel like weeping all over again. "Maybe I want it to stop," I murmured.

Carlisle shook his head and smiled gently, looking more like himself again. "I've tried to make it stop but failed each time, and I thank fate for that every day. Fate is much smarter than us. She works in ways we cannot hope to understand."

Something about what he said surprised me. "She?"

Carlisle smiled again, this time sheepishly. He almost seemed embarrassed as he answered. "A relic of my time in Italy. The goddess Fortuna is a woman."

I couldn't see how fate could be either male or female, but I bit back the words.

At that moment, Edward approached us from the woods. His face turned from despairing to wary when he saw Carlisle, and he halted a good ten feet away. He eyed us both disapprovingly for a second, and then asked me, "What are you doing?"

I felt my insides jump to my throat—I knew Edward was angry at Carlisle, and his state wasn't exactly calmer than usual now either. Already there was lightning in his eyes.

"I needed a moment for myself, that's all. We were just talking," I answered. "Wait, let me help you search." I got up, rushed to his side, and grabbed his hand, hoping to pull him away from the scene before he decided to transform his excess energy into a fight.

But Edward wouldn't budge. His gaze fell on Carlisle, who was still sitting on the forest floor and looking at Edward with clear sorrow in his eyes. I could tell he was communicating something to Edward because he tensed and balled his hands into fists.

"That's not quite enough," Edward hissed, answering a question I couldn't hear. "You have no idea of the damage you've caused."

Carlisle stood up ever so slowly and inclined his head towards Edward. His face was distressed. I couldn't understand why Edward couldn't see all his regret—even I found it impossible to be angry at him.

"Demetri is out there, for heaven's sake!" Edward cried out angrily, letting go of my hand. His lips were almost pulled back in a snarl.

"Edward!" I whispered, angry that he would continue his feud with Carlisle in times like these. Was any of this fighting going to bring Renesmee back?

Edward huffed, but thankfully retreated at my words. He continued to stare coldly at Carlisle for a couple of seconds before grabbing my hand again and turning to leave.

Glad to have avoided a bigger fight, I scuttled after him. Just as we were about to break into a run, a quiet, remorseful voice behind us said, "I'm sorry."

It could have been just wishful thinking, but I thought I saw Edward's angry mask falter for a moment to reveal a regretful expression.

***

We were well out of hearing distance when I finally addressed him.

"Do you have to be so darn vindictive about this?" I demanded. "Do you think it will somehow improve our situation? Do you not see how sorry he is?

Edward pursed his lips and answered coldly. "Without him Renesmee might have had a chance to live."

I forced him to stop by blocking his way and glared at him. "That's ridiculous. The problems started way before him. Take us, for instance. It isn't like we have no hand in this at all. We are the parents! She's our responsibility! And Renesmee isn't dead. We might still be able to find her before them."

He furrowed his eyebrows but otherwise did not seem affected by my words. "Don't think that I'm not angry at myself. Believe me, Bella, you will find nobody who hates me as much as I do. But at least I don't pretend to be a saint like Carlisle does." His eyes turned into dark wells again and he gritted his teeth. "He knew what he was doing when he let Demetri run. He knew the consequences it would have for Renesmee. And yet he thinks that justice is somehow more precious than his granddaughter!"

"He acted as he saw right. Carlisle can't help his nature," I reminded him. "And neither can you."

Edward didn't answer. For a moment I thought he was distracted by something far out in the trees, but then I noticed he was avoiding my gaze.

I laid my hand on his cheek and forced him to look at me. To my surprise his eyes were not angry anymore at all, but regretful to the core. They reminded me of what I'd once read in a Greek mythology book: Charon, the sea where all dead souls landed.

Instantly, my heart softened. I felt like a fool, talking like this to him—I was the one who was too weak to handle my own grief. I was the one who'd given up first.

"I'm sorry," I whispered and let go of his face.

"Don't be." Edward grabbed the hand I'd dropped and brought it back up to his cheek. "You're my conscience. You know those cartoons where the character has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?"

I nodded.

Edward's dead eyes sparked back to life. "You're the angel," he told me and caressed my face with his free hand.

I sighed and shook my head, but decided to let the matter drop to make way for more important ones.

"What will we do now?" I asked meekly, already afraid that he'd have no answer. I wasn't sure I wanted to know.

Edward stared back at me sadly. I nearly broke down there and then as I realized he had no clue either.

He must have realized that I was at my breaking point, because Edward was soon cradling me against his chest, whispering half-hearted assurances into my ear.

"We'll think of something," he breathed out.

"That's what you said before!"

"We can't give up," he asserted, but I could hear in his voice that he was tired. There wasn't really anything useful we could do. It would all only serve as distraction.

I started crying again, only this time against Edward's shoulder. He wasn't nearly as calm as Carlisle, and ended up crying with me after a while. Strangely, I found it more comforting than Carlisle's sturdy calmness. It made me feel like I wasn't smaller than I was. I felt bad for having though meanly of Edward before—he was a great father, and a much better parent than me.

As I was crying, my fingers brushed against my bare skin and I noticed the cold feel of the metal of my wedding ring. It was oddly gray in the darkness, but the oval stone still managed to shed some light. I looked at it for a long while, mostly with sadness. If I had only known…

But apart from bringing me sadness, the ring also helped me focus on something. If I tuned out my own whirling emotions, I could hear Edward breathing, smell his scent in the air, and feel the texture of his skin against mine. It was like a bit of heaven right in the middle of hell—as always seemed to be the case with us. At that moment, I knew I could handle it. As long as I had Edward, nothing was bad enough to kill me. As long as I had one half of my life, I had hope of finding the other.

"Edward?" I breathed out.

"Yes?"

"We'll find her."

"Yes," he sighed.