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Beneath A Shattered Sky

Summary:

Many thanks to m81170 aka Mandi for the banner!
Edward and the Cullens left Forks for the second time after the battle with Victoria and the newborns – this is set two years after this. Bella was heartbroken but found solace in her best friend, Jacob Black, and they fell in love. Bella is utterly in love with Jacob, but her past is only waiting to catch up with her...


Notes:
Bella's POV, some other POVs later. Disclaimer: Twilight and all associated characters and concepts are the property of Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing with Jacob and Bella :P.


2. Indelible

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3185   Review this Chapter

Chapter 2: Indelible

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this...


...In secret we met
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

When we two are parted.


Excerpt from 'When We Two Parted' - Lord Byron

The next day I was so busy I barely had time to think. Jake left early to get to work, and I spent the morning writing my assignment before going to the Lodge. Later on, I backed the truck into the driveway and hit the brakes, sighing. I'd just arrived home from my six-hour shift and it had been tiring. The afternoon shift was always horribly busy. My arms ached from carrying plates. At least the tips had been good today; I had a fair bit of money in my pocket.

Relax, Bella, for God's sake, I told myself. I knew what I needed. A walk would calm me down. Just up the path by Charlie's house led to the woods. I wouldn't go far as I had to be back soon to cook for Charlie and I, but the thought of even a short walk among the sparse, autumnal trees cheered me considerably.

I got out the car and made my way up the path, the fallen leaves crunching in my wake. I needed to clear my head. Things had been really muddled these past couple of days. Events I had sworn to forget were coming to the forefront of my mind. Even though Jake and I were happy.

Before we made love last night I'd had a moment of madness where I'd thought of him, but I'd pushed it out of my mind. Jake had commented afterwards that I seemed more distant than usual. Out of guilt, I'd over-compensated and made sure I was extra-affectionate and attentive for the rest of the night. Never mind, Bella. You're just in a funk and you're taking it out on Jake. It's happened before, and you've always been fine.

The fading light beneath the trees shimmered faintly on the ground. Fall was almost over, and winter would come. I shivered as a cold wind blew, and tucked my coat tighter about me.

I couldn't help but remember the part this path had played in one of the most important events of my life. But strangely enough, that bothered me little right now. What was really playing on my mind was the second time. I took a deep breath even before saying it in my head. The second time Edward had left me. Edward Cullen. That was a hard name for me to think of, even now. I couldn't keep fighting it any more. I had to remember...

2 years previously

That had been worse than I'd expected. After seeing Jake and telling him I couldn't be with him, I had broken into a thousand pieces. It took all night, although that was less than I had expected for the small, broken part of me to cry herself out. My deserved penance for trying to force two polar opposites together; Jacob's Bella and Edward's Bella. I had sobbed uncontrollably onto Edward's shoulder all night, and finally fallen into unconsciousness, emotionally exhausted. But now I was awake. It was time to face him. I was resolved. I knew I could ignore the other small part of me that thought it wanted Jacob. Edward was my destiny.


He gently put his hands on either side of my face. God, he was so heartbreakingly beautiful, his muscular chest encased in a beige pullover, his pale face etched with the features of an angel.


Bella...are you sure? Did you make the right choice? I've never seen you in so much pain -” His voice broke on the last word.


I touched his lips. “Yes.”


I don't know...” His brow creased. “If it hurts you so much, how can it possibly be the right thing for you?”


Edward, I know who I can't live without,” I told him, real conviction in my voice. I'd made a terrible mess of everything. Kissing Jacob had deeply wounded Edward's heart, and I knew it. Whatever he might have pretended to me when we'd been together since. I needed to put things right.


To my surprise, he stiffened a little and gently untangled himself from my arms which were now wrapped around him. Oh no. I should have never let him stay last night. But I had needed him so much.


Bella, I can't stand for you to be miserable,” he said quietly. And something had changed in his marble features. I instinctively knew something was really wrong.


It was the same look that had graced his perfect face when he had left me the first time, for what he thought was my own good. Before we had realised we couldn't live without each other. And we couldn't, could we?


My love, I know you were only trying to stop him leaving,” Edward continued, taking my hands in his. His icy touch was gentle, but cursory, and he did not stroke my hands as he normally did. “I told you then that were holes in your life that I couldn't fill, that could be filled by someone more human. Jacob healed you when I left. And that left its mark.”


No, Edward, I - , I started to protest, but he silenced me with a finger to my lips. I could barely breathe. It felt as if a lead weight was crushing my chest, even though there was nothing there. I looked into his eyes, and saw none of the warmth I was used to. He was a stone cold statue.


I was almost ready to believe you, that you really loved me enough to spend immortality with me. But from what I witnessed last night, I've damaged you enough. I tried so hard to let go of the jealousy I had towards Jacob. I pretended I didn't care whenever you went running off to see him, that you were just friends. But now I think I always knew that you were something more. That it wasn't all coming from his side.”


I was crying now. Silent tears were pouring down my cheeks. Edward saw them, and something in his face thawed. His hand gently touched my face, wiping away the streams. I wanted to speak, but no words would come out. No thoughts could form coherently in my head.


I'm so glad that Victoria is dead, Bella," he said earnestly. “I would never have had anyone hurt you again. Even the thought that she would have got to you, I could hardly breathe, even though I do not need to. I know you think I still find it hard to control my thirst, Bella, but that's not true. After Italy, after I knew what it was like to be without you. And so I knew I would never do anything to take you away from me while you still loved me.”


I was confused. It sounded as if he was trying to leave me, but everything in his words said he loved me. I stayed still and silent, hoping. Hoping he was only musing. Hoping he wouldn't go.


Bella, I've stayed part of your world for too long.” He shook his head, pain etched on his face. “And so many terrible things have happened to you. You've had to live in fear of Victoria for too long. And the Volturi. That would never have happened if I hadn't been part of your life. I'll never forgive myself for leaving you that way, for making you believe that I didn't love you. I have always loved you. That's not the issue.”


I was becoming slightly hysterical now, my breathing coming in rapid gasps as I willed for air.


But w-what is it then?” I begged, knowing how desperate I was beginning to sound.


He stood up now, and stepped back a pace from my bed. I tried to follow him, but he gently, yet firmly pushed me back, so I remained seated. I looked up at his flawless face, trying to memorise every line, every curve. For I knew what was coming, and I needed to remember.


Edward smiled sadly, and although it reached his eyes it was not the warm smile of adoration he normally reserved for me.


Bella, I'm bad for you. I told you once that I wouldn't stand in your way if you wanted something more – if you outgrew me. And I can see that you have, even if you don't know it yourself. I knew it the moment I saw your face when I picked you up at La Push yesterday. Breaking Jacob's heart had broken something inside of you. Something I know I can never fix.”

Edward!” I was almost screaming now. Thank God Charlie had already gone to work, otherwise he would have heard every word. “No. No. I love you. I HAVE to be with you. I chose you, Edward, because I love you...I love you...”. I was becoming incoherent, unable to concentrate on all the thoughts rushing through my head.


He took a step forward, and put his hand on my shoulder.

Bella, I cannot make you immortal while I know that you love another. I cannot take away your soul!” His coal-black eyes flashed, and I remained silent. I knew there was no arguing with Edward when he was like this.


If I can be with you, I don't need my soul!” I cried, my face sinking into my hands. Edward shook his head. “How can you leave me again like this?”


Please, Bella, don't make this harder for me than it already is,” he sighed, looking away, and the look in his eyes was sorrowful. “I wanted you to marry me, for us to pass through immortality together as equals. Forever. I know that you love me. But I cannot turn you into one of us, take you away from Charlie, the life that you know, if there is any doubt in your mind as to how completely you love me.”


I wanted to speak, but my voice was frozen again. I shook with the force of my sobs. Edward tried to place his hand on my shoulder again, but I shrugged him off. He looked hurt at this. But I wanted him to see how much he was hurting me. He was tearing my heart into pieces and scattering the pieces to the winds.
You love Jacob, a small voice inside me said. Edward's right to do this, you've hurt him so much. No! No! NO!


Then go,” I spat, surprised at the strength of my voice now that it had finally come back to me.


I will. This time, I won't come back. I won't tear you in two any more, Bella. I know you'll find happiness with Jacob. You'll be able to grow old with him, have children, things you could never do with me.”


At these words, the vision I had previously discarded flashed back into my mind. The two small black-haired children that ran from me into the forest. That was a future I could have. But I wanted Edward. My Edward.


You'll never see me again, as long as I know you're happy.” He tried to smile at this, but it didn't even approach his eyes and I could see how much this was costing him. “I won't pretend this time that I don't love you. For I'll love you for the rest of my days, Isabella Marie Swan. For the rest of forever.”


He reached for my face, and this time I let him come closer. He touched his cold lips to mine briefly in a soft kiss that spoke of longing and loss.


Tell him you love him. Be happy,” were Edward Cullen's last words to me as he crossed my room and disappeared out my window, leaving my life for the second time. I raced to the window and looked, but of course he was already gone. My gaze dropped to a note I hadn't even seen him write, clinging to the windowsill. With trembling fingers, I opened it.


Alice will send word to the Volturi. They won't bother you again.

E


I sank down on the floor, my head against the window frame, and surrendered to my misery.


With a jolt, I woke from my memory. It surprised me how easily I had recalled that entire conversation. I knew that Edward's actions had made an indelible mark on me that I could not forget, but after months of barely thinking of him, it amazed me that this memory still made me feel so deeply. How I could still remember how quickly things had changed afterwards...

After that day I spent slumped by the window, in a virtually catatonic state, I surprised myself with how differently I behaved this time. No screaming, no crying, no ragged, empty hole when I went to bed each night. I was only numb. When Charlie had found me sitting there that day, when he came home from work, I saw
the look of pity in his eyes, the understanding on his face of what had happened.


Bella, I know they left. I'm not going to ask why this time, but I'm betting it's got something to do with Jake.” His eyes tightened. “I could still kill that boy for hurting you. For worming his way back into your life and then just leaving again.”


I stared right past him, not looking. But the next morning, Charlie nearly jumped out of his skin when I appeared downstairs, freshly showered and dressed smartly with my hair pulled back in a neat ponytail.


Where are you going, Bells?” he asked, confused.


A job interview at the Lodge”, I replied calmly, pouring myself some cereal. “I heard they were looking for staff, and I could use a job.”


Charlie looked flummoxed. I could tell he'd been expecting me to emerge zombie-like in my dressing gown and ponder a full bowl of cereal for an hour, my eyes red-rimmed.


Er, that's– that's good, honey. Keeping busy is probably the best thing right now.” He shifted awkwardly on his feet, clearly wanting to say more but unsure how to proceed. Without warning, he pulled me into his arms and gave me a fierce hug.


I'll be okay, Dad” I told him calmly, and he watched me leave, shaking his head in disbelief.

--

A few weeks later, I went to see Jake in his garage. He was fully healed now, working on another old car he was restoring, and had just started his mechanic's training.


His russet face creased into a genuine smile when he saw me. No doubt he had heard what had happened, but he was choosing not to gloat over it. He cared about me too much to do that. He tossed me a soda from the grocery bag, warm as always. My hand missed and it tumbled to the ground. Jake caught it with seemingly no effort and placed it in my hand again.


You're such a klutz, Bells,” he grinned, his white teeth sparkling. "I see your hand's healing well," he added, his eyes fixed on the brace that I still wore on my right hand. I could see the warmth and love in his eyes. And in that second, I abandoned all of my prepared speech, all the things I wanted to tell him. Dropping the soda, I threw my arms around him and kissed him passionately. Startled at first, his lips tensed and he pulled away.


What the hell are you doing?”


There's so much I want to say, Jake. I want to tell you how sorry I am. That you were right. That I -”


But I didn't get any further, for in that second he brought his warm lips back to mine, pulling me to him with a violent urgency, one warm hand at the small of my back and the other in my hair, stroking my dark curls. It had all the potency of our first kiss on the mountain, but none of the poignancy, the heart-wrenching sadness. I only felt whole. Jacob was always the one to put me back together again. He didn't care that I was damaged, broken. He loved me anyway.


As we broke apart, panting, he smiled down at me. “We'll take this slow, honey. I know you're still hurting. If you just want to be friends for now, I'll understand. I've waited long enough for you. I can always wait a little longer.”


No,” I replied. “I want this.”


And so Jacob and I began. I thought Charlie and Billy were going to explode with happiness when we told them. Billy even hugged Charlie, an unprecedented act for these normally guarded men.


I gasped. Suddenly I realised I was slumped on the ground in a pile of leaves. I was freezing cold. And tears were pouring down my cheeks. That's to be expected, Bella, remembering all that, I told myself firmly, brushing the tears away with the sleeve of my coat. The sky above me was darkening, and the sparkling light had vanished from the trees. Heaving myself up off the floor, I brushed myself down. I had no idea how long I'd been here, but Charlie must be home by now. He would be getting worried. I set off back to the house quickly.


“Bella!” Charlie said when I came in the front door, clearly relieved. He was sitting at the table with an open pizza box, steadily chewing on a slice. “I was worried, I thought you might be with Jake but you usually call.”


“Sorry Dad, I meant to make dinner,” I apologised, trying to compose myself. “I just went for a walk and lost track of time.”


He shrugged and said “Don't worry about it. You cook for me enough, you're entitled to a night off once in a while. Pizza?” Charlie offered the box to me.


“No thanks, I'm not hungry” I mumbled. “I've got some work to do for college, I'd better get on with it.” As I stumbled up the stairs, I could feel Charlie's eyes boring into me. He knew something was up. When I reached my room, the tears I'd been fighting back returned and spilled out of my eyes, soaking my cheeks.


Now I knew why I was crying. It wasn't remembering when Edward left me that was the final straw for my self-control, although that was part of it. It was remembering when I got together with Jake, remembering when I felt happy, complete and whole in his warm, strong arms. And honestly, I couldn't remember the last time I'd truly felt like that with him. I knew I loved him. But he didn't fill my heart the way he used to any more. Not the way Edward had filled it.