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Sunset

Summary:
Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her? Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.


Notes:
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.


1. Edward - Senior Again

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 5067   Review this Chapter

Today was the first day of the new school year. I was a senior again. I hadn’t been a senior for twelve years. I remembered how I felt that last first day of my senior year. I was with Bella and I was looking forward to sixty or seventy years of happiness with her. I knew Bella hadn’t liked my plan to stay with her throughout her human life. She hated the idea of aging when I couldn’t, but what else could I do? I would not, could not end her life and take her soul. She was far too precious to me. I was now a hundred and twenty-one years old and I’d had just six months with the woman who meant more to me than everyone and everything else in this world. In ten days it would be the twelfth anniversary of the ending of that time – Bella’s thirtieth birthday. Other than that time I went to check on her less than seven months after I left, I had kept my promise not to interfere in her life. Bella would be stunning now. I always thought of her as beautiful but there is a difference in a woman’s beauty to a teenager’s and I was convinced that she would probably never have looked better than she did now. Perhaps I could treat myself to finding out what she was doing, where she lived that sort of thing. I could see her - from a distance so that she didn’t see me: a gift to myself for her birthday. She probably had a couple of children by now. I only hoped that her husband was worthy of her. I sat next to Alice for our third lesson – Geography. For some reason Alice had been very jumpy lately. And she was worse since we set off for school. Bella’s name kept leaping into her thoughts seemingly from out of nowhere but she ruthlessly banished it knowing how it upset me. Perhaps if I told Alice that it was alright to think of Bella now she wouldn’t be so strung out. It might actually be nice to talk about her now and then. It was almost a relief when Alice went off to her fourth lesson – English. I headed for the music room for my fourth lesson of the day. I was almost at the door when I heard Alice shouting for me in my head. ‘Edward! You need to go home now! Do not take any detours, just go straight home. Now, Edward. Go home.’ Of course I wasn’t going home without discovering what was going on. I went to find Alice. She was standing in the corridor just outside her classroom. There was a look of total shock on her face. “Alice, what’s going on? Why do you want me to go home?” Alice gave me a quick look before staring at the woman standing between us who dropped the things she was carrying. Then I caught the fragrance. “Bella!” I sighed. I knew immediately who she was. I would know that scent as long as I existed even though it seemed more muted than how I remembered. I didn’t need to see her face to know I was right. Even if I had forgotten her scent, I would have realised that it was Bella because I couldn’t hear her thoughts and Bella was the only person, human or vampire, whose mind I couldn’t read. I wanted to immediately pick her up and carry her somewhere we could be alone. I wanted to hold her, kiss her, look into her beautiful warm brown eyes. But then I caught a glimpse of her face through Alice’s eyes. Bella was shattered. I was in agony. I saw Alice make a ‘phone call and pick up the stuff, including a crutch, that Bella had dropped. “Bella! Bella! Will you be able to take your class or should I tell them you’ve come down sick? Bella?” Alice said. There was a long pause before Bella replied. I could hear her heart race in an unfamiliar rhythm. “No, I won’t be sick,” she sounded breathless. “I can take my class. Thank you, Alice. And Alice, it is good to see you.” Bella took her belongings and, without so much as glancing in my direction, stumbled into the classroom. I hadn’t known it was possible to feel so much pain and remain standing. “She didn’t even look at me” I whispered. I wasn’t sure that I expected a response. “Do you blame her?” Alice asked sadly. “You promised Bella a happy life with you, then you took it back and from what I’ve just seen, the past twelve years have been far from happy for her. To top it off, you are still a gorgeous seventeen year old and she is now much older. Why would she want to look at you, have you look at her?” “You’re right, she didn’t like it when she turned eighteen, she would hate it now she is nearly thirty.” Perhaps if I had stayed with her, Bella would eventually have accepted that her physical aging had no impact at all on my love for her, but there was no way she would know that now. But what about the happy life I thought she was living? “Come on; let’s get you to the office. Esme is coming to take you home. You’re ill.” I let Alice lead me to the school office. I really did not feel well and needed the comfort of home and family. I should have known better. “Is this family never going to be safe from that woman?” were Rosalie’s first words to me. Even Emmett looked shocked at her outburst. “Edward. Come and sit.” Esme lead me to a sofa and half pushed me into sitting. Then she wrapped her arms around me as I fell apart. “The school bio just notes that the new English teacher is Isabelle Swann who has recently moved here from New York City,” Jasper read from the I-pad he was holding. I just thought that the school couldn’t even get her name right – Isabella. I tried to concentrate and read Alice’s thoughts, but I couldn’t. All I could see was Bella’s face in Alice’s mind when she, Bella, realised that I was standing behind her. So I tried a different tack. I went to my room and played Bella’s lullaby on a loop and remembered the times I hummed it to her as I held her in my arms while Charlie slept unaware in the next room. But soon Bella’s contented seventeen year old face that I was remembering was replaced by her devastated face as I was telling her goodbye, which then morphed into the shattered face of today. I was surely in hell. “How is she?” I heard Esme ask as soon as Alice got in the front door. No one needed any clarification on to whom Esme was referring, but it was clear from her tone that she was expecting to hear happy news, well happy from Bella’s perspective. “Not good” was Alice’s very grim response. I immediately focussed on Alice, trying to see everything that she knew before she said it. I saw enough to get the general picture. Jasper went to hug Alice and asked her what she meant. “I wish I was human and could have a stiff drink. Right now I feel that I need something. Give me a second to get my thoughts together.” I knew exactly what Alice meant. “I spent my lunch break on the ‘phone eventually getting hold of our old friend Angela from Forks who was not happy to hear from me. Bella had a nervous breakdown when we left. Charlie was killed by a two legged animal they were hunting in the forest that was killing hikers ‘I’m sure you can guess what type of two legged creature’ Angela said with an emphasis on the word ‘you’, and a while after that Bella deliberately drove onto the rail tracks and was hit by a train. That old truck saved her life. Every single one of those knocks shows on her face. How she moves now makes her former clumsiness seem like elegance personified.” “Oh no, what did I do?” I hadn’t realised that my pain and guilt could get any worse. “Anyway, Bella said to tell you that she was sorry. She thought it would be okay in this part of Alaska since she assumed that if we ever settled here it would be closer to Denali. She realises that we haven’t been here very long, and doesn’t want us to feel that we have to move on again because of her. She said we can pretend that we don’t know each other or are the merest acquaintances so she can be just one of my teachers.” “You mean she expects us to act like we don’t know her?” Esme was shocked, “That she wasn’t the next thing to a daughter-in-law to us?” I flinched at Esme’s choice of words. It hadn’t been only me I was depriving when I pulled myself out of Bella’s life. “Esme, you would pass for her daughter-in-law now. No doubt she thinks the difficulties in explaining how we know each other mean that it will be easier for all of us.” I was never going to be able to pretend that I don’t know her. “I need to see her, speak with her.” I went to leave feeling uncharacteristically slow and disjointed even for my pretend human walk. “No Edward. I do not think that she wants to see you. I will go and see her. I have my own grovelling to do and I think she will speak to me. By the way, what were you thinking when you realised that it was Bella who stood there?” “Not a lot. I just wanted to grab her up and run off with her so we could be alone and I could say everything that I’ve wanted to say these past twelve years.” “Oh. I was worried that her blood might have the same appeal it did to you when you first met and would want to do more than speak to her. Sorry.” “Her blood will always have that appeal to me, but I could never do anything to harm Bella, never!” I stopped suddenly as I accepted that by leaving her I had done a great deal of harm to Bella. Carlisle wondered if he and Esme should go and speak with Bella and they and Alice discussed that option. Throughout all the conversation, Rosalie and Emmett stayed silent. Rosalie had always been very vocal in her dislike of Bella, so it was very surprising that she didn’t suggest that we all do as Bella had proposed and pretend that we didn’t really know her. Emmett just looked unusually sombre for him, staring at the floor and shaking his head at his thoughts. I didn’t bother to try and read them. “I am going to see her at eight o’clock tonight. I’m going to tell her that I don’t want to pretend not to know her and that I know that some of the rest of you don’t either. I’m also going to say that whatever happens in the future I don’t want to lose touch with her again, but I’m going to go along with whatever she wants.” Alice looked at the rest of my family daring them to try to talk her out of her decision. None did. I decided that I would listen to their conversation and make my decision on when I would go and see Bella based on what I heard. I went to my room seeking privacy, but Carlisle, Esme and Jasper followed me. Either they didn’t trust me not to do anything stupid out of their sight, or they wanted to offer support; but on reading their thoughts, I could tell it was a bit of both. “Come on Bella, let me in. It’s freezing out here” Alice said as she waited at Bella’s door. “You don’t feel the cold Alice, but come on in” Bella opened the door and invited Alice in. “Since you’re here you can move my sofa for me, I want to try it closer to the fire. And by the way, no one calls me ‘Bella’ anymore, it’s Isabelle.” As well as thinking about Bella’s words, I could tell Alice was also thinking about the Spartan furnishings in the room. “Do you want me to call you that too? Go and make yourself a hot drink while you think about it. I’ll move your furniture for you.” While Bella was in the kitchen Alice re-arranged her meagre living room comforts thinking about things that were not there. She even took a quick look in her bedroom. That was even grimmer. “When did you move in? It looks like you haven’t had time to get much stuff,” Alice asked. “A month ago. I’m not sure about staying in this apartment though. My downstairs neighbour plays her music too loud and I have difficulty managing the stairs. I think I might prefer a small house. But this will do until I decide what I want for the longer term.” “What do you want me to call you?” “I don’t know so for the time being could you try to not address me by a name while I try to work out what I want, please?” “Of course I can. But I’m telling you now, I have no intention of pretending that I don’t know you and, except for when we’re in class of course and you’re my teacher, you are my friend and I do not intend to lose you again, no matter what happens in the future. I know Esme wants to be in touch with you as well.” “You say that now Alice, but I thought you were my friend before, my best friend but when Jasper took a snap at me you dropped me like I was radioactive without so much as a goodbye. A friend would never have been able to do that to me. I loved you dearly, Alice, but I could never trust your version of friendship again.” I felt a sharp stab of pain at those words; it mirrored what Alice was feeling. More guilt was heaped upon my shoulders. “I’m so sorry. I told them that it was wrong, but I let them convince me that a clean break from us all would be best for you in the long run. After what Jasper had tried to do I didn’t really know how to counter them. I am so sorry. But what happened, Bel... what the hell happened to you?” Bella looked down at her mug and I, like Alice, thought that she was not going to answer. “Did you know about the wolf pack from the reservation?” she asked. “I heard about the pack from the others. Jasper and I hadn’t found them then, why?” “Well, when vampires are about, it triggers the gene and the pack is formed again. When he left me I was stupid enough to run into the forest to try to catch him. I ended up getting lost. I didn’t know it, but one of the pack found me and carried me home to Charlie. Apparently I just kept repeating ‘He’s gone’ over and over. Everyone kept wanting me to ‘talk about it’ so that I could get over it and ‘move on’. As if I was ever going to do that, what could I say? There was no one I could talk to. Eventually I started to ignore people and just stopped talking so that there was no danger of me letting something slip. But of course I was still talking in my sleep. Luckily I didn’t say enough for anyone to be able to make any sense of it but I was terrified that I would say something that I shouldn’t so I kept trying to stay awake so that I wouldn’t have nightmares and therefore wouldn’t talk. But when I did sleep I kept having the same nightmare of being abandoned by all hope in the forest. After a while the sleep talking stopped and just became sleep screaming but the secrets were safe. But I was suffering from severe sleep deprivation and became almost catatonic. I was sectioned.” I was repeating what Bella was saying to Carlisle, Esme and Jasper who were trying to offer comfort, but listening to Bella’s words, there was no comfort to be had. “Go on” Alice encouraged. “I was in the hospital for a month. I started to get better when my shrink suggested that since I wouldn’t talk to anyone I write to someone, even if the letters were never posted. So I pretended you were my friend and wrote to you. First I had to devise a code to make sure that no one would be able to read what it said. The first few letters took forever to write as I had to work out each letter for each word individually, but the more I wrote the more proficient I became. I must have written over a hundred letters to you, Alice, knowing that they would never be read by you and that they would never be replied to. But writing to a pretend friend, saying how lost and empty I was, well it helped. When I started talking again I went home. “It was very strange. I still didn’t talk unless it was to answer a direct question, but I liked the quiet. “It was February, maybe March, when Laurent found me.” I hissed at the words as Bella carried on. “He said that Victoria was looking for me and planned a slow and painful death for me in revenge for James’s death – his mate killed the way hers was so he would suffer the way she did. Pity she didn’t know that he no longer wanted me so it wouldn’t be the revenge she thought. Anyway, I was supposed to be grateful that Laurent found me first since he would kill me quickly. Just as he was about to strike the wolf pack came to my rescue. Laurent was killed. Victoria kept coming back though, and the pack kept chasing her away. It used to really irk them that they could never quite catch her.” I couldn’t react to what Bella was saying. I was just so horrified. The others felt the same. How was it possible that I would owe the wolf pack a debt greater than I would ever be able to repay? “I started dating one of the pack, Jacob. His dad and mine were old friends and it was easy to be with Jake. We got serious. I still don’t know why. He was sixteen and I was eighteen, what the hell was I thinking? Anyway, Charlie was happy about it and it meant that I could stay with Jake so it was easier for him to keep me safe from Victoria. “It was the end of May when Victoria came back for the last time. This time she got Charlie. The pack nearly caught her but broke off the hunt to try to help him. Jake said that Charlie was still alive when they got to him, but she had already taken too much blood and he was DOA at the hospital. I often wonder if she knew Charlie was my dad or if it was simply a case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We never discovered what happened to her. Do you know?” We were all reeling from Bella’s revelations, but Alice was able to hold herself together sufficiently to answer. “The Volturi executed her because she had made an army of new borns that were on the rampage in Seattle. No one knew why she wanted the army, but now I guess it must have been to take out the pack. “So she’s dead too, good. Even though I thought she had probably discovered that he no longer wanted me so she stopped hunting me, I still sometimes have nightmares about her coming to get me so hopefully they can now be at an end and I can sleep easier.” Luckily Bella seemed to need another second before she could continue. It gave us all a little time to gather ourselves. “Somebody said something at Charlie’s funeral that reminded me of the promise I made I to try to stay safe for Charlie’s sake. But with Charlie dead I struggled to find a purpose for anything again. I was living with Jake but I kept thinking that there was no need to keep my promise any more. That was when the problems started between us. Jake, like the whole town, knew I was broken, but he also knew almost everything about you all. We both thought he knew how really broken I was. He said it didn’t matter, that he loved me enough, but naturally he was wrong. We were in bed together and I was contemplating doing my duty for the rest of my life. When I realised that sex was no longer the physical representation of deep affection, let alone love, but had become a duty, I knew I had to end our relationship. So I moved back into Charlie’s house, now mine.” I wasn’t able to feel the least bit jealous at the news of Bella having a lover, a member of the wolf pack of all people. The thought of Bella being intimate with another man had tortured my thoughts so much in the past and was now completely irrelevant. “Depression set in again. I decided that there was no point in me just waiting for Victoria to get past the pack and kill me and drove my truck to where the train tracks cross the road and waited for the Vancouver train. How I didn’t kill anybody else, let alone myself I’ll never know. It was pure luck that there had been warnings of wildlife on the tracks so the train was going slower than usual when it hit me. I don’t think I would ever have forgiven myself if anyone else had died or been seriously injured. “While I was lying in hospital I heard Jake say to his dad that part of him half hoped you would all come back again, just so that I would have something to live for.” I couldn’t believe how crass, smug, arrogant and stupid I had been twelve years earlier when I assured Bella that she would get over me, thinking that her humanity meant that she would soon forget her love. How could I have been so foolish? “If we had any idea that Laurent and Victoria were hunting you we would have been back in a second. But I’m confused. Edward said that he went to Forks to check on you and that you were living with Renee and seemed to be happy” Alice said. I also wondered about that. “I have no idea how he could have gotten that impression. At one point Charlie wanted me to move to Jacksonville with Renee but I refused to go. I think even then my sub-conscious was thinking about the plan I came up with while I was in hospital recovering from the train crash. I remembered that the Cullens first arrived about seventy years ago and guessed that you would return in about seventy years again. So all I had to do was to make sure I stayed alive until you all came back again. I wanted my last days to be spent knowing that he was happy. I was sure that he wouldn’t have tied himself to someone who would have begrudged me a little of his time so that I could see him just once more before I died, see that he was happy, probably with one of your kind, someone he would want to keep who could be his equal. So that was my plan.” I nearly screamed at the pain in the words ‘someone he would want to keep’. So that was why she thought I didn’t want to change her, why it was so easy to convince her that I didn’t love her anymore. And I supposed by leaving, I only proved her right. “But when you had the opportunity to see Edward yesterday, you didn’t. Why?” “I expected to be very old knowing that my end was near when I next saw him. I could handle that. If I see him now, I have no reason to carry on. I need to set my affairs in order first.” I jumped up. “I have to go and see her. I need to talk to her. I can’t let Bella suffer any more” and I left the house to go to Bella’s apartment. As I was running along the road to town I tuned back into their conversation. “I promise that I will do nothing before the end of the school year” Bella was saying. “I will complete my probationary year at least, but that is all that I can promise. And can you promise me something, can you promise to try to mind your thoughts around him, I don’t want him to get a replay of all this?” That pulled me up short. What should I do? “I promise to try to not think about it when Edward is near, but I think it will be too late for some of it. He is on his way here; I think he must have heard the last part. I was kind of shouting.” “It’s okay, Alice, I’ll still keep my promise. You should go now; you don’t want to be here when he arrives.” I decided I had to be honest. Lying to Bella had cost us both so much and I owed her nothing but the truth from here on in. I felt Alice’s pain and heard her thoughts as she tried to hug Bella who did not want to be hugged. There was so much that I had to apologise for. I didn’t think that even eternity would be long enough for me to be able to make up for the damage I had done. I hesitantly knocked on Bella’s door. She would know it was me and was probably wishing she could make me disappear. “Come in” Bella said as she opened her door, “At least this time you waited to be invited into my home” referring to the days when I used to sneak into her room to watch her sleep without her knowledge. I remembered Bella’s heart rhythms. What the changes in the beat meant. I couldn’t read her thoughts, but the changes to her heart used to give me many clues. Now, the beat was something new, something I had never heard from her before: I didn’t like it, it made me anxious. “Look, I really don’t want to have this conversation. As you know I’ve just been speaking to Alice and to be frank, I’ve had enough.” All the time she was speaking Bella had not looked at me once. I suppose given what she planned to do after she had seen me one more time I should be grateful. “I understand. I just want to say a couple of things then I will leave until tomorrow evening if that’s alright.” Bella waved her hand for me to continue. “I promise you that from now on I will tell you nothing but one hundred per cent truth: no evasions, half truths or lies, just honest truth. To that end I want you know that I listened to all your conversation with Alice. I know you didn’t want me to hear it, but by the time I understood that it was too late. Carlisle, Esme and Jasper also heard it.” I watched Bella cringe with embarrassment, but I couldn’t hide my surprise that no blood rushed to her face. “You’re not blushing!” “No, I haven’t blushed for twelve years so I guess I should thank you for that.” “No, never for that. I loved watching the blood rush to your face” I allowed myself to be distracted momentarily. “But that is beside the point. The other thing I want you to know is that I love you. I have always loved you, and will always love you. There is nothing you, I or anyone can do to change it, even if I wanted to. I lied before because I wanted you, needed you to have the chance of a normal, happy human life safe from the dangers of my world. I would never, never have been able to leave you if I had thought for one moment that you would be in more danger with me gone than by my staying with you. It never occurred to me that Victoria would target you instead of me and that you would have to trust a pack of young wolves with your life. I am so sorry.” “You are such a good liar that I will never know when you are telling the truth. I believed you when you said you loved me before and at prom when you said that you would stay with me. I believed you when you pointed out that I was a danger magnet but you didn’t mind rescuing me all the time me. I was wrong to trust you and have no reason to believe you now. Please leave, and please, please respect my privacy.” I saw the sadness in Bella’s posture. She thought I was lying. “I will never lie to you again. I will leave now, you need to rest, but I will be back tomorrow and we can talk some more, there is much I need to say. I won’t be in school since I would never be able to act like you were no more than a teacher so you have no need to worry about running into me there. Try to stay safe, love. I’ll see you about eight tomorrow.” I left, determined to be fair and not to keep watch. It was so hard.