dark moon

a twilight fanfiction.

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24. Chapter 23 Request

I wasn’t angry at Bella.
I was furious at what she was doing.
Furious because in my heart I both knew and dreaded the outcome of my family's vote. My family, with the exception of Rosalie, already considered Bella as part of the family, and were willing for her to truly become one of us.
A monster.
 
However, I did not refuse to take Bella to see my family, as much as I longed to keep her from going; we had argued enough since she had woken up. Additionally, Bella would only go alone if I refused to take her – being the stubborn, beautiful creature she is.
But, whatever occurred, whatever the outcome – I was adamant that Bella would remain human and unchanged.
 
I pulled Bella into my arms and lightly sprang out of the window, trying not to jostle her too much.
            “All right then, up you go.” I said in a stern voice; attempting to withhold my anger as I helped her up onto my back.
When Bella was secure, I sprinted at full speed into the trees.
I could once again enjoy the exhilarating speed, now that Bella was with me…making me whole.
Rays of light from the moon beamed down, making the leaves shine silver. The beautiful night engulfed us as we flew through the peaceful surroundings of the forest, the moonlight dancing softly among the trees.
The only sounds were the whistle of air swirling around us as I ran, and the faint patter of nocturnal animals roaming unseen in the dark undergrowth.
I let all the anger drain from my body and concentrated on enjoying the blissful moment with Bella.
 
Bella turned her head and kissed my cheek. The smoothness of her lips sent warmth pulsating through my body.
            “Thank you. Does that mean you’ve decided you’re awake?” I asked.
The sweet sound of her laughter echoed through the night.
            “Not really. More that, either way, I’m not trying to wake up. Not tonight.”
            “I’ll earn your trust back somehow. If it’s my final act.” I promised myself aloud.
            “I trust you. It’s me I don’t trust.”
            “Explain that, please.” I said, suddenly feeling compelled to slow down and prolong the time with Bella in the idyllic surroundings, taking the opportunity to continue our discussion and hear her sweet voice. We were nearing my house, and I wasn’t ready to discuss her plans for fatality and immortality, so I slowed to a walk.
            “Well, I don’t trust myself to be…enough. To deserve you. There’s nothing about me that could hold you.” Bella said softly. 
Her statement bought me to an abrupt halt.
She thought I was too good for her?
When would she ever see me clearly?
What would make her realise that I was the fortunate one, who didn’t deserve her?
The one who was deeply and unconditionally in love with her.
The one who was bound to her in indescribable and unknowable ways.
The one who would never leave her again.
 
I reached to pull Bella off my back and cradled her in my arms for a moment, holding her close to my heart, before setting her on her feet.
            “Your hold is permanent and unbreakable. Never doubt that.” I whispered with reassurance.
An expression of uncertainty crossed her face, but she did not respond.
 
            “You never did tell me…” I wondered aloud, before pausing, unsure whether I actually wanted to hear the answer to the question I was going to ask.
            “What?” Bella questioned.
I decided to go ahead and ask nevertheless.
            “What your greatest problem is.”
            ”I’ll give you one guess.” She signed as she touched the tip of my nose.
Well, at least she comprehended that I was a danger but I couldn’t help feel a little disheartened, and surprised.
            “I’m worse than the Volturi. I guess I’ve earned that.”
Bella rolled her eyes at my misunderstanding.
            “The worst the Volturi can do is kill me.”
What was more fearful than death?
Bella considered that I was worse than a death sentence?
 
I did not reply; prompting her for an explanation.
            “You can leave me. The Volturi, Victoria…they’re nothing compared to that.”
My frozen heart constricted in pain as I remembered the image of a distraught Bella in Charlie’s mind.
I would always deeply regret leaving.
Regret what it had done to her; what it had done to me too.
            “Don’t. Don’t be sad.” Bella whispered as she caressed my face.
I attempted to smile, but failed.
            “If there was only some way to make you see that I can’t leave you. Time, I suppose, will be the only way to convince you.”
Bella brightened slightly.
            “Okay.” She agreed.
It was silent for a few moments, while I wondered how I could erase the heartache I had caused.
 
            “So – since you are staying. Can I have my stuff back?” Bella asked as we continued to walk.
I stiffed a chuckle at Bella’s feeble attempt to distract my anguish.
            “Your things were never gone. I knew it was wrong, since I promised you peace without reminders. It was stupid and childish, but I wanted to leave something of myself with you. The CD, the pictures, the tickets – they’re under your floorboards.”
            “Really?”
I nodded in confirmation.
            “I think. I’m not sure, but I wonder…I think maybe I knew the whole time.” Bella said slowly.
            “What did you know” I wondered.
            “Some part of me, my subconscious maybe, never stopped believing that you still cared whether I lived or died. That’s probably why I was hearing the voices.”
I was bewildered.
Bella had been experiencing hallucinations?
What else didn’t I know?
            “Voices?” I asked sceptically.
            “Well, just one voice. Yours. It’s a long story.” Bella said warily, as if she wished she hadn’t introduced the subject. Perhaps she thought that I would think she was crazy. I must admit that the situation did seem farfetched; however with the tortured ordeal I had encountered in the months I was away I could not make judgements.
 
Bella had been hearing my voice subconsciously?
Was this in her nightmares, making it seem realistic?
And more importantly – what did these voices say?
            “I’ve got time.” I said, encouraging her to elaborate.
            “It’s pretty pathetic.”
I waited, without response.
Bella hesitated, like she was afraid of what to say.
I was afraid of what I would hear.
            “Do you remember what Alice said about extreme sports?”
I could remember Alice’s exact words in Volterra – In summary, she did jump off a cliff, but she wasn’t trying to kill herself. Bella’s all about extreme sports these days. I had been furious about Bella’s recklessness, especially since she had promised me that she would keep herself safe. I felt a slight twinge of betrayal at her broken promise, but I was hypocritical to think that way – how many promises had a broken?
Too many! I chastised myself.
 
            “You jumped off a cliff for fun?” I said, keeping my voice even without showing any hint of rage beneath.
            “Er, right. And before that, with the motorcycle…”
            “Motorcycle?” I echoed. My voice sounded calm, but the rage increased inside.
            “I guess I didn’t tell Alice about that part.”
            “No.” I replied bluntly. Alice should have informed me, or I should have at least seen it in her mind. Was there anything else she was keeping from me?
            “Well, about that…see, I found that…when I was doing something dangerous or stupid…I could remember you more clearly. I could remember how your voice sounded when you were angry; I could hear it, like you were standing right next to me. Mostly I tried not to think about you, but this didn’t hurt so much – it was like you were protecting me again. Like you didn’t want me to be hurt. And, well, I wonder if the reason I could hear you so clearly was because, underneath it all, I always knew that you hadn’t stopped loving me.”
I listened to each word intently without interruption, as the immense rage built up in my chest.
I couldn’t believe what Bella was telling me.
All her recent dangerous endeavours were conducted for the sole purpose of inducing an auditory hallucination.
I was more culpable than I originally assumed.
I felt like my air circulation had been cut off and I barely choked out my words.
            “You…were…risking your life…to hear –“
            “Shh. Hold on a second. I think I’m having an epiphany here.” Bella interjected.
 
For the few minutes Bella was thinking, I waited impatiently, but silently. All the while my anger began to subside, replaced quickly by anxiety.
The minutes ticked by slowly whilst my mind raced with images of Bella partaking in various perilous activities. Each thought pushed me further towards insanity as the silence wore on.
What was Bella’s epiphany?
I detested not having access into her mind, but I respected her right to privacy; still my curiosity overwhelmed me.
 
My main concern was for her safety.
Surely, now that I was back; her life-threatening behaviour would cease.
I did not believe that my Bella was insane, but my departure had caused her to sink into a depressive state that was slowly driving her towards madness.
It was my fault.
I had once again jeopardised her life.
I was concerned about the effect I had on her.
I was worried about the hazardous activities she had been participating in.
I was anxious about her thoughts.
I was scared to think about what would have happened to Bella if I had never come back.
Would her irresponsible behaviour have continued?
Would she slowly have developed an obsession that bordered on insanity with her need to provoke these worrying hallucinations?
Would she really have killed herself?
 
I was thankful that Bella interrupted my thoughts, as I couldn’t bear to be in my own head anymore with all the unanswered questions.
            “Oh!”
            “Bella?” I asked anxiously.
            “Oh. Okay. I see.”
            “You’re epiphany?” I questioned nervously.
            “You love me.”
The words made my heart swell.
She believed me.
The smile that flashed across my face was both genuine and effortless.
            “Truly, I do.”
I heard Bella catch her breath.
As I took her face in my hands, I felt her heartbeat increase.
I kissed her lovingly until my head became intoxicated by the feeling of her soft lips moving against mine. I leant my forehead against hers, both of us breathing harder than usual.
 
In comparison to my behaviour, Bella’s seemed saintly.
She had attempted to survive – she had made the effort, by living her everyday life.
Whereas I had just laid in desolation and let the pain engulf me.
            “You were better at it than I was, you know.” I informed Bella.
            “Better at what?”
            “Surviving. You, at least made an effort. You got up in the morning, tried to be normal for Charlie; followed the pattern of your life. When I wasn’t actively tracking, I was...totally useless. I couldn’t be around my family – I couldn’t be around anyone. I’m embarrassed to admit that I more or less curled up into a ball and let misery have me. It was much more pathetic than hearing voices. And, of course, you know I do that too.”
Although I felt guilty for abandoning Bella and causing so much pain, I felt a little comfort in the fact that I was not alone in my feelings; she hadn’t moved on. I thought back to my months of depressive solitude without my Bella.
I was constantly wondering how she was, if she was okay.
How was she living her life and had she moved on?
She was always in my mind.
Bella had always been with me, just like I was subconsciously with her.
Perhaps those small parts of our subliminal memories had enabled us to hold on – to survive.
            “I only heard one voice.” Bella reminded me, reclaiming my attention from my thoughts.
I chuckled as I pulled her against my side; wrapping my arm around her I lead her forward through the trees to the open space where my house was situated.
 
            “I’m just humouring you with this. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what they say.” I told Bella as I gestured towards the house.
            “This affects them now, too.”
I shrugged apathetically, without replying, in case my voice showed the increasing anger of my sudden change of mood now that we had arrived.
Bella would not be changed...ever.
I would not allow it.
I was incensed at the thought of my family going against my wishes and wanting Bella to become a vampire.
I would do whatever it took to stop whoever tried to change my Bella...even Alice. I didn’t need to read her mind to know that she would vote in Bella’s favour. She had promised in Italy, but more importantly she wanted Bella to be a part of the family, as a true sister.
Before the vote could take place, I hoped I could sway some of my family member’s decisions by convincing them that, if my recent theory proved correct we could diminish the threat of the Volturi with minimal effort.
Demetri would not be able to track Bella, and therefore would not be able to locate her if I hid her in a remote location when the Volturi decided to visit. Alice’s premonitions would be useful for timing.
 
As we approached the house, I could hear the thoughts of my family members from different rooms. Alice was expecting us, and was filled with excitement, which only increased my resentment.
I led Bella through the front door and switched the lights on for the purpose of allowing her to see; lack of light did not affect vampire sight.
Being here again brought comfort and a sense of homecoming, and despite my current feelings of anger; I was happy to be back in the place I thought of as home.
I called my family to come and greet us, although they already heard us arrive.
            “Carlisle, Esme? Rosalie, Emmett? Jasper, Alice?”
I saw Carlisle flash to Bella’s side, but she didn’t flinch at his swift appearance.
            Welcome home, Edward. He greeted me silently.
            “Welcome back, Bella.” Carlisle smiled. “What can we do for you this morning, I imagine, due to the hour, that this is not purely a social visit?”
            Bella nodded. “I would like to speak to everyone at once, if that’s okay. About something important.”
 
Carlisle looked at me with questions running through his mind, and when I made no effort to respond he turned his attention back to Bella.
            “Of course. Why don’t we talk in the other room?”
Carlisle led us to the dining room, which was used only for family discussions. I sensed the rest of my family members following us.
Carlisle politely held out the chair at the head of the table for Bella; she took her seat looking slightly nervous as she noticed the other vampires enter the room. No one spoke while my family members took their own seats around the table, each contemplating varied thoughts in their own minds. I occupied the chair next to Bella’s; opposite Carlisle.
            “The floor is yours.” Carlisle nodded to Bella in encouragement.
I took Bella’s hand underneath the table, as a wary expression appeared on her face. I could feel how anxious she was as I glanced around the table at my family.
 
Emmett was silently speculating about our gathering. His impatient curiosity was shown in his physical expression.
            It better be something fun, I’m bored. He thought.
Rosalie smiled warmly at both Bella and I. She had a newfound respect for her after she came to be my saviour in Italy.
Esme was revelling in her joy at having her entire family together again, including Bella.
 
I could feel the tension in Jasper’s thoughts. Being in Bella’s presence made him feel extremely nervous; he still felt immensely guilty about the incident that led to our departure from Forks. He was trying to keep himself restrained by replaying the memory in his head. Hurting his brother’s love, and his wife’s best friend. The reminder was too painful to watch; hence I did not linger in his mind.
Leaving had been the wrong decision on my part, and even though I used Jasper’s actions as an excuse to depart, I felt no animosity towards him for prompting my bad choice.
 
Alice’s body twitched slightly. It would have been presumed by the rest of my family to be excitement, as she wore a huge grin. However, it was only apparent to me that she was having a vision. It happened so fast that the others were completely unaware.
Alice’s vision caused a stir of anger in the pit of my stomach.
She was standing next to a stunningly beautiful vampire.
An immortal.
I had seen this vision before, but now it was stronger; more definite
I had the sudden urge to grab Bella and flee.
 
My attention was then claimed by my love, erasing the vision from my mind.
            “Well...I’m assuming Alice has already told you everything that happened in Volterra?” Bella asked.
            “Everything.” Alice responded.
            “And, on the way?”
My insides trembled slightly from the anger. My sister and Bella’s journey had consisted of Alice promising Bella that she would change her. Therefore, Alice had technically provided Bella with two death threats. Although, Alice’s promise had ensured our survival in Volterra, for which I was grateful as I got be reunited with my Bella.
            “That, too.” Alice nodded.
            Bella sighed. “Good. Then we’re all on the same page.”
Bella paused, evidently preparing her speech to cover everything she wanted to say.
Everyone was silent. I tried with great effort to block out the minds of my family, to avoid the frustration their thoughts would bring me. However, strangely enough, they were now all silent and waiting intently for Bella to continue.
I sat mutely, waiting for an opening in Bella’s speech so I could introduce my contingency plan.
Bella was unaware that I would attempt to thwart her plans.
Alice’s premonition would change when I informed my family of my own plan.
Well, I hoped it would.
 
Bella inhaled deeply and began talking, as I kept my eyes focused on the table, unblinking.
            “So, I have a problem. Alice promised the Volturi that I would become one of you. They’re going to send someone to check, and I’m sure that’s a bad thing – something to avoid. And, so now, this involves all of you. I’m sorry about that.” She paused for a minute, and I allowed myself to take a quick glance at her. She was interacting with her audience, looking at each occupant at the table, gazing into their eyes just for a split second before moving on. She finally rested her eyes upon me, and my breath caught in my throat. She was divine; why would she want to change that?
            “But, if you don’t want me, then I’m not going to force myself on you, whether Alice is willing or not.”
Esme opened her mouth to tell Bella that she was already a part of the family, but Bella silenced her by holding up her finger.
            “Please, let me finish. You all know what I want. And I’m sure you know what Edward thinks, too. I think the only fair way to decide is for everyone to have a vote. If you decide you don’t want me, then... I guess I’ll go back to Italy alone. I can’t have them coming here.”
Frown lines appeared on Bella’s forehead as she let that thought register.
My chest purred with the sound of a building growl.
There was absolutely no way that Bella would ever go to Italy again, let alone on her own. Her threat was a form of emotional blackmail to ensure my family would vote in her favour.
Her obstinacy would succeed.
 
            “Taking into account, then, that I won’t put any of you in danger either way, I want you to vote yes or no on the issue of me becoming a vampire.”
I saw the corners of Bella’s mouth crease into a small smile as she spoke the last word.
Vampire.
I was still incredulous at her eagerness to lose her soul – to become a monster.
Maybe Bella’s obsession with becoming an immortal was not just about becoming my equal and being the same as me and my family. I hadn’t thought much about it in the past; I had generally assumed that Bella wanted to be changed so we could have the same unending life.
Was she sacrificing her soul entirely for my benefit?
Or was there more contributing factors?
She was deemed to lose far more than she would gain.
 
Bella gestured to Carlisle to cast his vote, which was my cue to intercede; the moment I would attempt to sway any undecided voters.
            “Just a minute.” I interjected.
I gazed at Bella, who raised her eyebrows scrutinising my stony face, as she glared at me. I gave her hand a gentle squeeze and continued.
            “I have something to add before we vote.”
I heard Bella let out a sigh. I didn’t need access to her mind to know that she was irritated by my disruption; my attempt to eliminate the need to vote and any reason for her to be changed.
            “About the danger Bella’s referring to. I don’t think we need to be overly anxious. You see, there was more than one reason why I didn’t want to shake Aro’s hand there at the end. There’s something they didn’t think of, and I didn’t want to clue them in.” I looked round the table as I spoke. My anger began to subside slightly, as the words flowing from my mouth brought with them a sense of confidence.
             “Which was?” Alice prompted me to carry on. What haven’t you told me, Edward? She continued in her head.
I leaned forward, ensuring I had everyone’s attention, before continuing with my explanation.
            “The Volturi are overconfident, and with good reason. When they decide to find someone, it’s not really a problem.”
I glanced at Bella and asked, “Do you remember Demetri?”
She trembled, which I presumed was a yes.
            “He finds people – that’s his talent, why they keep him. Now, the whole time we were with any of them, I was picking their brains for anything that might save us, getting as much information as possible.” This wasn’t strictly true. I was mainly trying to find any way to escape; to protect my Bella. “So I saw how Demetri’s talent works. He’s a tracker – a tracker a thousand times more gifted than James was. His ability is loosely related to what I do, or what Aro does. He catches the...flavour? I don’t know how to describe it...the tenor...of someone’s mind, and then he follows that. It works over immense distances. But after Aro’s little experiments, well...” I paused, shrugging my shoulders, hoping that they would determine themselves, what I was suggesting.
            “You think he won’t be able to find me.” Bella said plainly.
            “I’m sure of it. He relies totally on that other sense. When it doesn’t work with you, they’ll all be blind.” I said, feeling rather self satisfied.
            “And how does that solve anything?”
            “Quite obviously, Alice will be able to tell when they’re planning a visit, and I’ll hide you. They’ll be helpless. It will be like looking for a piece of straw in a haystack!”
            I grinned at Emmett, as he chuckled in his thoughts. This sounds fun, bro.
            “But, they can find you.” Bella said sternly.
            “And I can take care of myself.” I assured her.
Emmett laughed aloud, and reached across the table with his fist.
            “Excellent plan, my brother.”
I smacked my own fist against his.
I knew Emmett could be convinced by the idea of a confrontation.
            “No.” Rosalie hissed. No, no, no way!
            “Absolutely not!” Bella conceded.
            “Nice.” Jasper contributed, before continuing in his head. It might just work.
            “Idiots.” Alice murmured, clearly irritated. Testosterone fuelled, idiots. She silently directed at me, which I ignored.
            Edward? My mother called me in her head. I looked at her to see her glaring at me. That is not a suitable solution. The Volturi aren’t likely to give up. We can’t live in fear forever, just as Bella can’t hide away for the rest of her human life. I can’t agree to your plan when there is a possibility that you or the others could get hurt.
Esme was right, but what other choice did I have?
Bella was about to remind me of that.
She straightened up in her chair, ready to talk again.
“All right, then. Edward has offered an alternative for you to consider. Let’s vote.”

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