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Forgotten.

Chapter Text

Edwards POV.

The sleeting rain beat heavily against the wind-shield as I sped my way down the winding Washington road. It had been a painful 4 years since I left my heart behind in Forks, and it still hurt every time I had thought of her. My only solace was thinking of her happy, healthy and most importantly, alive.

As a rounded another bed I saw the silhouette of a girl, walking dangerously on the shoulder of the skinny road. She had a hood up over her head and she was hunched against the cold rain. Hearing my car approach she stuck out her arm, thumb raised. I sped past her and then I paused.

I slowed and my eyebrows furrowed as I saw the girl in my rear view mirror. If I left this loan human in this weather she could die from the cold. Decided I pulled over to the shoulder.

The girls head perked up but I still couldn’t see her face from under the shadow of her hooded coat. She sped to a brisk jog as she closed the distance quickly. Without a single word she opened the door and slipped into the leather seat. I was momentarily worried about the girl. Who would, without a second thought, get into a strangers car in the middle of the night, in the middle of no where, alone?

Any curiosity and concern immediately left my face as she roughly closed the door and her scent filled the small enclosed space.

Bella

My amber eyes darkened and looked incredulously at her.

“Thanks, you wouldn’t believe how many assholes drove past me out here.” She grumbled, her voice heavenly music to my ears despite her frustration.

“You’re very welcome.” I choked out, as I put the car in drive and pulled onto the road. From the corner of my eye I could see her take off her damp hood and look at me for the first time. I waited with baited breath for the realization to dawn on her face. For her human heart to quicken in surprise and maybe anger.

But none of that happened.

“Whats your name?” She asked, as she fiddled with the heating vents so they would blow on her damp hair.

“Excuse me?” I stuttered. Of everything she could have asked me, I was not expecting that.

“Your. Name?” She repeated, this time slower, pronouncing each word carefully.

I snuck a glance at her from the corner of my eye, and she was just looking at me expectingly. When I didn’t answer her eyebrows furrowed over her beautiful brown eyes.

I cleared my throat, “I’m Edward.” I said “Edward Cullen.” I clarified.

I looked at her again. Waiting for the sudden moment of realization to dawn across her delicate features. It didn’t come.

“Well, Edward. I’m Izzie.” She then muttered under her breath, “Not that you asked.”

I pretended I didn’t hear the snarky comment, since I was obviously not meant to.

Bella pulled a damp duffle bag into her lap and started to ruffle through it. I tried not to be obvious as I watched her more than I watched the road.

The past four years had changed Bella. She had slight lines at her eyes and around her mouth, and her previously pristine ivory skin now had a spackle of freckles across her cheeks and nose. As she continued to rummage through her bag, my eyes lowered from her face to her neck.

Quickly I snapped my gaze back to the road, and then slowly dared another look.

Peaking from the collar of her coat I saw something that made my dead heart sink. Raised red and pink, was burn scars. Webbed and writhing I could see that they made their way around the back of her neck and disappeared. I tried not to think of the terrible thing that had happened to her to cause those marks.

My fingers clenched around the steering wheel. I had left her so she would be safe, and I had failed at even that.

It hadn’t occurred to me that not even 30 seconds had passed. My thoughts were racing and my brain and body where working over time, attempting to absorb every moment of this chance meeting.

Bella produced a crumpled packet of cigarettes, “Do you mind?” She asked, waving them gently. I tried not to let my face betray the disgust. Of course I minded, I did not want the stench of tobacco to sink into my car seats. However I couldn’t bring myself to deny Bella anything.

“No, of course not. Go ahead.” I waved my hand dismissively.

“Thanks” She muttered, a cigarette already between her beautiful lips. She pulled a cheap plastic lighter out of her pocket and lit the offending item.

Bella rolled down the window a crack, and after she drew in a deep breath, she blew the smoke out the gap. My eyebrows rose slightly in shock, as the scent of the smoke lingered in the car.

It was not tobacco as I had originally thought. Rather it was marijuana.

Bella took another long draw of the joint, before holding it in the space between us, “Want some?” She asked tightly, the smoke still in her lungs.

“oh, uh” I stammered, “No. Thank you, though”

Bella released the breath she was holding in with a puff of smoke and laughed. If my dead heart could beat it would have been hammering out of my chest. I never thought I would that amazing sound again. “Relax. It’s just weed. And this is Washington,”

I still didn’t truly know what was going on. Bella looked and behaved so differently, and she had no reaction to me what so ever. It was like she had no idea who I was. I wanted to ask her a million questions, but I knew how to read a room even if I couldn’t read her mind. So I settled for this question. “So where are you heading? Is there anywhere I can drop you off?” I asked.

Bella sighed as she stubbed out the joint on the wrinkly packet of cigarettes, placing what remained of her vice inside. “As far as you can take me a guess.” she shrugged, “I don’t have anywhere I need to be,” she chuckled humorlessly.

“Is there a friends place I can drop you off at?” I offered, “Or family?”

Bella’s expression turned sour, “You would know that just as well as I do.”

I looked at her from the corner of my eye again, thinking this was it. She finally realised who was in the car with her. But she wasn’t looking at me, rather gazing out the window.

“I’m sorry?” I asked, my eyebrows furrowing.

Bella gave me a rueful smile, as if to apologise. “I don’t really remember much.” she shrugged.

“Remember about what?” I asked, trying not to give away my eagerness in figuring this mystery out.

“I was in an accident, when I was 19. I was driving with my dad, or at least that's what the doctors said.” Bella pulled a worried hand through her dark hair and the movement was so familiar that I wanted to reach out and do it myself. Bella continued, oblivious to my yearnings. “I don’t really remember much of my life from before waking up in the hospital. My dad died in the crash, and no one else came to get me from the hospital.” Bella’s shouldered shrugged tiredly, “All I really have is,” She paused as if feeling around her muddled brain for the right word, “A sensation. A feeling. It’s like a void, deep in my chest. Something that was there, but is missing now. Someone I loved, deeply.” her voice was shaky and I could see the tears that welled in her eyes, threatening to fall.

“I’m so sorry,” I rasped out, trying my best to remain calm.

“Oh god,” Bella covered her face with her hands, “I’m the one who should be saying sorry to you! I mean I don’t even know you and here I am burdening you with all this bullshit. And after you’ve given me a ride and everything.” Her hands waved around the car. “Its all such bullshit. I don’t even know what I am talking about. I don’t even know his name, or if he was even real.”

I opened my mouth to say something to reassure her she wasn’t crazy, but she continued before I had the chance, “What I should have said,” she took a calming breath and my eyes darkened more at how her scent wafted around me. “Is that I am heading to Seattle. So I would really love it if you could just take me as far as you’re going.”

I wanted to tell her that I would drive her the entire way there if that is what pleased her. Even though we were a good 5 hour drive away from the city still. Rather than that I said “So you have no where to stay tonight?”

“Nope” Bella replied nonchalantly.

My brows furrowed in concern, I didn’t like the thought of Bella, my Bella, alone and unprotected in the cold night. “If it’s not too presumptuous you could stay with me and my family?” I phrased it as a question,

“You don’t even know me,” Bella laughed in surprise, “You sure your wife would be okay with you bringing home a strange woman?” she jested,

I baulked at the insinuation “I’m not married.” I said plainly,

“Oh,” Bella raised her eyebrows, “You mentioned your family, is all” she shrugged.

“I meant my siblings and my parents.” I clarified.

“Well then,” she hummed, “You don’t look like a serial killer. And I would prefer a warm house instead of the alternative.” She continued, “But I don’t want to put anyone out. Shouldn’t you check with your family?”

I knew I didn’t need to do that. I knew that the moment they saw Bella that they would all be overwhelmed with happiness. But she didn’t know that, so I reached into my pocket for my phone, dialling Carlisle without looking away from the road.

I lifted the phone to my ear and gave Bella a friendly smile, Carlisle quickly answered, “Everything okay, son?” he asked,

“Uhm yeah, I was wondering if it would be okay to bring over a house guest tonight?” I then whispered, far too fast and far too quietly for Bella to hear me “It’s Bella. It don’t really know whats going on Carlisle, but she doesn’t remember me, or any of us, at all. She mentioned an accident but I don’t have anything else.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone, and I worried that the line had dropped. But then Carlisle answered me, “Of course Edward, there is no need to ask. Is there anything else?” he asked,

I gave Bella another smile, letting her know it was okay, “Her name is Izzie, we will be there soon, about 15 minutes.”

“Alright son, I will let the others know”

I pressed the end call button on the phone and slipped it back into my inside jacket pocket. “Everyone is okay with it.” I assured her.

“Whoa” she pulled her duffle bag close to her, “Seems like you have one really kind family.” she said softly.

Her eyes looked so sad as she looked out at the rainy night that was passing us by. I wanted nothing more than to pull over the car and tell her, that this family was hers too. That I would never leave her like I had four years ago. I wanted to hold her in my arms and run my hands lovingly through her hair and beg for her forgiveness for the unforgivable agony I had caused her.

Instead I stayed quiet and continued the drive to my home. I was not going to let Bella go again, I would make her remember. I would get my heart back and together we would be whole.

I just had to figure out how.

Chapter Text

 

 

Bella’s (aka Izzie) POV

 

 

 

I peaked a look at the strange man who had picked me up off the highway and subconsciously pulled my duffle closer to me. He didn’t look threatening in the slightest, despite his strange eyes that shifted colours in the evening light, and the way he gripped the steering wheel so tightly I was sure it was going to break. I was still weary, after all he had just invited a total stranger to stay the night. But I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

 

Thanks, again” I broke the heavy silence as he pulled off the road and onto a single dirt road. I swallowed the lump in my throat at the thought that he could be taking me somewhere to kill and easily dispose of my body. Another part of me though, somehow knew that he wouldn’t hurt me. The same part of me that felt the never ending void.

 

It’s fine,” He looked over, a kind smile on his face.

 

I looked down at my lap, a blush rising over my cheeks. I shook out my hair in and attempt to hide the embarrassing reaction from the stranger across from me. As I looked up, I saw an amazing house come into view. It was an old colonial, all wood and bricks.

 

T he man, Edward, pulled up close to the front door and turned off the engine. He looked over at me, his eyes seeming to ask me a quiet question. I didn’t understand how he looked at me, as if he could see into my soul and read my mind. His eyes were soft and kind, but it wasn’t pity; he just seemed sad. What could he have to be sad about? I wondered as I looked up at the amazing house before me, and wondered about the kind family that he no doubt had.

 

I opened the door and made a move to get out of the car. I almost bumped straight into Edward. He was making a move to help me out. I hadn’t even heard him get out let alone seen him move around the car to my side. He offered a hand and I took it gratefully. I let him help me as I eased my way out of the vehicle. My hips groaned in pain at the movement, and I felt my left knee click slightly. I let out a soft huff at the stiff pain that seemed to always be with me.

 

I guess that I had always had the pain, a constant companion. After all I didn’t remember much from before the crash, just after. Waking up in a blinding pain, hooked up to a hundred machines, fighting against the tube that had been shoved down my windpipe forcing air into my lungs. Though the pain I had now was nothing compared to what I had experienced then, I still had become accustomed to a level of uncomfortable discomfort.

 

I fulled righted myself, and I noticed that Edward still held my hand in his. He looked down at it, a small frown playing at his lips as his cold thumb graced over the burn scar on the back of my hand. With a violent movement I tugged my hand out of his and shoved it into my jacket pocket. I shot a glare at him, biting my tongue at the sarcastic comment that itched its way up my throat. There was no need to be rude to the man who was letting me stay at his house. I had to allow a certain level of social impoliteness from him, as I really didn’t want to have to stay out in the cold before moving on to Seattle.

 

I hitched my duffle bag higher on my shoulder, ignoring the twitch of pain as I did so. Without a word he moved towards the front door and I followed, staying a step behind him.

I looked past him and to the house. Lights were on in almost every window but the house was silent. I looked at my watch, it was almost 10 and I hoped that I hadn’t interrupted anyone's sleep.

 

E dward opened the door and gestured me ahead of him inside, I did as instructed and entered the house. The warm air hit my face and I let out a comforting breath. Suddenly a woman appeared, silent in her movements. I startled slightly at her sudden appearance.

 

Hello,” She chimed, her heart shaped face showing a caring smile. “I’m Esme, Edward’s mother.” She continued.

 

I smiled and put my hand forward, “It’s nice to meet you. Thank you so much for letting me stay the night, Mrs Cullen.” I said politely, grateful I had remembered Edwards last name.

 

S he stepped forward and placed her hand in mine, it was the same icy temperature as her sons “Please dear, call me Esme.” she said. I just nodded mutely, “Have you eaten yet? I know it’s late.” She said, moving to walk down the hall. I looked back at Edward and he just smiled so I followed his mom down the hall. “My daughter just came home with takeout, that’s all.” She continued as she let me into a beautiful kitchen.

 

I tried not to stare at the people in the room. What? Was this family all super models or something, or did they just seem to be more beautiful in contrast to my scarred self. There was a small black haired girl, standing next to a curly haired man. She seemed to be beaming, smiling at me happily as I came into the room. The man next to her gave me a polite but curt nod.

 

That was fair, I guess I wouldn’t be too happy about a strange woman in my house either. On the other side of the island bench was a massive man, all muscles that seemed to stretch against his clothes. Next to him was an older man, it was him who Esme moved over to and gave a chaste kiss on his cheek. Must have been Edward’s dad.

 

Uh,” I stuttered, looking at the boxes of Chinese food on the island bench, “I could eat, yeah” I tried to sound noncommittal but my stomach growled at the sight of the food. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast that day when I had left for my trip to Seattle.

 

Fantastic,” Edward said from behind me, and I jumped slightly and turned to face him. I hadn’t heard him follow us into the room.

 

Uhm, is there somewhere I could clean up first?” I asked, suddenly acutely aware at how gross and grimy I looked in comparison to the perfect people standing in their perfect kitchen. “I could really use a shower before I eat.” I explained, motioning to my damp and dirty clothes.

 

Oh of course!” Esme exclaimed clapping her hands together, “Follow me dear,” and she turned to leave without giving me a chance to respond.

 

I looked around at the people standing in the kitchen, “Uhm, nice to meet you, I guess” I muttered shyly before I scurried after Edward’s mom. I followed her up a stair case and into a beautiful bedroom. A large plush king size bed dominated the room. This was clearly a room for guests, it had little furniture and no personal items to speak of.

 

You can stay here tonight, and there is an en-suite through that door there,” Esme said, motioning to a closed door. “There are fresh towels in there and toiletries under the sink. If you need any.” she turned to face me, “Well I will leave you too it, dear.” She smiled,

 

I moved out of her way so she could leave. As she exited the room she shocked me by coming over and giving me a soft hug. She was ice cold, and even though she seemed soft and motherly her body seamed muscled and toned. As she pulled away I was sure that my shock was more than evident on my face. “ Just yell out if you need anything.”

 

I nodded mutely and she left. What the hell? These people were beyond nice. I didn’t understand it. Then I shook my head, sad at myself. Why was human kindness such a shock to me. Why was I trying to find motive behind what was obviously altruistic actions. I closed the door behind her with a soft click and I turned and pressed my back against it.

 

I thumped the back of my head against the door softly, “Get your fucking shit together Izzie,” I muttered to myself. I pushed myself off the door and walked towards the bathroom, looking forward to a warm shower after hours in the damn cold night.

Chapter Text

 

 

Edwards POV

 

I stood in the kitchen with my family, silently listening as Esme showed her to the guest room. I watched through Esme’s eyes. Trying not to think of this as an invasion of her privacy. As Esme left she gave Bella a soft hug, and I was over washed with the feeling of Bella’s soft frame against mine. But it wasn’t mine, it wasn’t me who was hugging her. It was a soft and sad echo, as I experienced this timid moment by proxy. After Esme had left I heard the door close softly and then a soft thump. “Get your fucking shit together, Izzie” I heard Bella mutter to herself.

 

I smiled sadly to myself while Emmett choked down a laugh.

 

She seems different He thought to himself with childlike glee, already imagining talking and joking around with Bella.

 

Esme appeared in the room a smile breaking out across her face. It made me so happy to see her like this. “ It’s so great to see her again,” She said, and her thoughts were saying the same thing.

 

She’s different” Jasper remarked, did you see the scars? He thought at me, not wanting to say that out loud. I nodded to him to confirm.

 

Good different” Emmett said, replaying what we had heard Bella say to herself moments ago.

 

Maybe” I replied, thinking to the scars I had observed on her neck and hand. “She mentioned she was in a car accident” I said, answering the question that was screaming in the back of everyone's minds, why didn’t she remember us?

 

“It was a bad one?” Alice asked, her cheery smile falling.

 

“Yes,” I nodded, “She said she was driving with Charlie, he didn’t survive the crash.” I didn’t pause as my family took in that information, “She said that when she woke up in hospital that no one came for her,” I continued, more quietly now. Shame and guilt rolled off of me and I felt Jasper shift uncomfortably as the strong emotions hit him like a brick wall.

 

That doesn’t make sense,” It was Carlisle who spoke, “What about Bella’s mother?” He continue, leaning forward on the island bench.

 

I shrugged, “I don’t know. And given that she thinks I am a complete stranger it didn’t feel appropriate to ask.”

 

I paused as I heard the shower over head turn on and the rustle of clothing being removed. Bella started humming a soft tune under her breath as I heard her enter under the shower’s stream. Everyone in the room turned as still a s stone as we all recognised the song. Her lullaby. The one I had written for her all those years ago, before I had broken both of our hearts.

 

T hat’s a hopeful sign, Carlisle thought it himself, It shows that the memories are still in there somewhere . The next thought was directed at me.

 

It was a comforting thought and it felt as if my heart had leapt into my throat. My Bella still held the memories of me somewhere. More than ever before I wished I could read her mind. As if willing the impossible I focused my hearing on her movements upstairs. I could feel the others near me doing the same, listening to the human we all loved move around in the bathroom.

 

A fter a moment the shower shut off and Bella stopped her soft humming. I listened as the glass door opened.

 

Then there was the sound of soft skin squeaking against hard tile, a soft thump and a pained groaned. There was another sound, one I couldn’t quiet place.

 

That sounded like a dislocation Carlisle thought to himself before he could stop himself.

 

Did she fall over?” Emmett chuckled, a playful smile on his lips. I moved to go up there and help her but it was Emmett who stopped me, “You can’t go up there, man. Not without giving away that we were all eavesdropping.”

 

She’s hurt.” I growled,

 

“If she needs help I am sure she will call out,” Carlisle’s attempt at reassuring me wasn’t working as well as he had hoped it would. As if sensing my exasperation and worry, he put his hand on my shoulder. Going up there now will only cause both of you distress, he thought pointedly. I stifled a disheartened growl, knowing that my surrogate father was correct. Of course he was correct, I chided myself. While he was not gifted like myself or Jasper, he had centuries of wisdom and he probably knew more about human (and for that matter vampire) behaviour than any other immortal on the planet.

 

W e all turned ou r attention back to Bella.

 

Are you fucking kidding me,” I heard her mutter angrily to herself. There was a minute groan and the sound of her lifting herself off the bathroom floor echoed around me. I clenched my hand on the marble of the kitchen counter top, only vaguely registering Esme’s thoughts warning me against breaking her perfectly designed kitchen. “You’re so fucking clumsy,” She chastised herself, “Can’t even having a shower without maiming yourself.” She continued her tirade of self hate, sucking in a pained breath. Alright, Izzie. Easy does it, you can do this. You have before.” It sounded like she was talking herself up to something. Tying to comfort herself, and I so desperately wanted to go upstairs and comfort her myself. I heard her let out a sharp breath and then I heard a sickening grinding noise, before a sudden pop.

 

Bella let out a strained groan the type that lingered in a persons throat and barely made a sound. She then let out a shaky breath, there was a moment of silence and then a small whine of pain.

 

She just reset her own shoulder,” Carlisle spoke out loud, amazement and admiration clear in his voice.

 

Jesus fucking Christ almighty” Bella said to herself, and I heard the sound of clothes being pulled on.

 

S he swears like a sailor , Jasper thought amusingly to himself.

 

Okay, Izzie. Time to go downstairs and have dinner with the family of super nice supermodels.” Bella spoke to herself, and my family laughed around me. “Just act like a normal fucking human being for a change.” She said to herself sternly.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of her statement. I could feel through Jasper that she was anxious, seemingly worried about insulting us perhaps. She was worried about ‘acting normal’ when in fact she as about to have dinner with a family of vampires. We listened as she opened the door and her soft footfalls started to head in our direction. With vampire speed we all quickly got out plates and cutlery, dolling out portions of food for ourselves.

 

B y the time Bella entered the kitchen it looked as if we were a normal family enjoying a meal, sitting on stools or standing around the island bench.

 

Feeling better?” I asked, wishing I could ask how her shoulder was.

 

Yes,” She nodded, some of her wet hair was pulled into a high ponytail, but other shorter strands fell around her freckled face. Her damp clothes from before where gone, replaced by a clean long-sleeve shirt and dark denim pants. She nervously tugged at the sleeves of her shirt, pulling them down and over the backs of her hands. No doubt self-conscious of the scars that resided there.

She was stunning.

 

Here’s a plate,” Esme said, handing her an empty plate, “Help yourself.” She gestured towards the food.

 

Thank you, so much.” Bella replied shyly, stepping further into the kitchen. I could hear her stomach complaining. “Uhm, my name is Izzie, by way.” She said looking through her lashes at the others in the room. “Thanks for letting me stay here tonight.” she busied herself with the food, putting some noodles and rice on her plate. “And for dinner.” She continued.

 

It’s no problem,” Carlisle said, “My name is Carlisle, I am Edwards father. Its a pleasure to have you here.” He said kindly.

 

I could see Bella attempting to hide her blush at Carlisle’s kind words.

 

She hasn’t changed that much Emmett’s thoughts chuckled.

 

She’s feeling really nervous right now, we should probably stop starring at her so much” Jasper whispered too quickly and quietly for Bella to hear. We all responded to Jasper’s instruction immediately, moving our attention to our plates. Pretending to eat in silence.

 

I t was Alice who eventually broke it, “I’m Alice, and this is my husband Jasper. That lump there is my brother Emmett.” Alice grinned at Bella. It was then that I noticed the absence of Rosalie, as if guessing my question, Alice thought in my direction She went out hunting, she wasn’t exactly happy about this . I shrugged imperceptibly, it was only caught by Alice.

 

Honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to care about my sister’s wrath. I was too preoccupied being happy that Bella was here. Rosalie would just have to find a way to cope, I wasn’t going to leave her. Not again. Not ever.

 

Hi!” Boomed Emmett, making Bella jump slightly, “It’s great to meet you,” He grinned.

 

Uhm yeah,” Bella said, around a mouthful of food, “You too.”

 

Izzie’s a cool name. What’s it short for?” Emmett asked, and I shot him a warning glare. He was walking on thin ice and he knew it.

 

Isabella,” Bella replied, “Would it be a hassle to get a glass of water?” Bella asked, looking at Esme.

 

Of course not.” Esme answered plainly, moving to the cupboard to get a glass before filling it with water.

 

Isabella” Emmett echoed slowly as if this was the first time he had heard the name, “Anyone ever call you Bella?” He asked innocently, and I felt a growl growing in my chest.

 

B ella’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “No, not really?” she said it as a question, her confusion evident in her tone.

 

Can I call you Bella?” He asked,

 

“Cut this out right now,” I hissed under my breath, but all he did was flick his mischievous eyes at me briefly.

 

“Uhh,” Bella said, “Could you not maybe?” She said, still clearly confused. Emmett looked downfallen, saddened by the refusal.

 

Okay,” Emmett said, returning his attention to his plate.

 

I could feel through Jasper the awkward tension wafting from Bella and I silently cursed Emmett.

 

So, Izzie” I started, “Where are you from?” I pushed my rice around on the plate.

 

“Oh, I live in Colville” Bella replied, a gorgeous smile breaking out across her face.

 

And you like it there?” Esme hummed, her own thoughts filled with kind worry.

 

B ella shrugged, “Its a nice town. Nice as any. Good people”

 

All her answers were vague and noncommittal. It was as if she didn’t want to allow her self to become attached to the place she called her home. I couldn’t fault her for this though. Not only had I abandoned her, she then experienced a terrible tragedy which had stolen her memories, her life, from her.

 

And what do you do for work?” Carlisle is the one that spoke, joining in on the polite questioning. Well I had hoped it was polite, but I lost my confidence when I noticed Bella’s heart race increase as an angry blush rose to her cheeks. I was worried that we were prying too much, that Bella was going to finally show us her irritation and the stoic anger that she had used against her self only minutes before. When she thought she was alone.

 

S he took a long drink of her water before answering, and I could hear her heart beat calm. “I’m a bartender” She replied.

 

Bartender. Of all the occupations I had imagined for her, I never considered this an option. I would have liked her to go to college, to see her explore her mind and intellect. I left so she could grow as a person, like every human should. When I left her in that stagnant small town, I had hoped that her future would grow bright and become fulfilled. Instead all that has changed is the name of the town, and the age and trauma evident in Bella’s eyes. There was no budding hope there, no dreams. Just a cold resignation of her lot in life.

 

This is not what I wanted for my Bella.

 

She didn’t seem to notice my sad expression as she continued her conversation with my family. “What about you, Mr Cullen? What do you do for work?” She asked,

 

Carlisle laughed, a deep chesty sound, and replied. “Call me Carlisle, please. And I am a doctor.”

 

Oh sorry! Dr. Cullen.” Bella corrected herself with a sardonic smile, “Carlisle,” She corrected herself again with a breathy laugh.

 

I could tell, even without looking through Jasper’s mind, that she had begun to relax around us. Maybe it was the warm food, or the fact she had had a calming shower, or that she was no longer out in the cold night. I couldn’t let myself believe that it was because of the company. No human could ever be comfortable in a house full o f vampires.

 

T hen again, I mused, Bella had always been an odd duck. She never used to shy away from us like a usual human should. And now, four years later, and a vastly different person, Bella still felt more than comfortable in our presence.

 

What about the rest of you?” Bella asked around a mouthful of food. Her big brown eyes flickered between us all expectantly.

 

Well, I am in college.” I replied, and I was glad it wasn’t a total lie. While I wasn’t studying in the traditional sense, I had been spending my time delving into Carlisle’s expensive and expansive library of books.

 

I’m an artist,” Alice piped up, and again, she wasn’t completely lying either. She was a gifted artist and was venting her anger and sadness that she still felt from leaving Bella by painting and selling some outstanding pieces of art.

 

I’m happy to just stay home and care for my family.” Esme said, smiling up at Carlisle.

 

I’m training for the Olympics.” Boasted Emmett, and every vampire in the room shot him a cautionary glare. He had already crossed the line on what would be appropriate in this situation, and now he was just making it worse.

 

Luckily Bella didn’t seem to notice our expressions. “Wow” She laughed “That’s pretty impressive.”

 

So, Edward mentioned you were going to Seattle. Why?” Emmett asked, still not getting the obvious signals that the rest of us were trying to send him.

 

B ella’s previously lighthearted stance stiffened slightly as she stood up straighter and made and attempt to tuck the still damp strands of loose hair behind her ear. However they were too short and fell unceremoniously around her face again.

 

I am headed to meet with a specialist.” She said vaguely.

 

“Specialist? What kind of specialist?” Emmett continued to amaze me with his complete lack of social grace.

 

B ella scowled down into her food, and bit her lip. The familiar movement made my chest explode in happiness. The nervous tic is always something I had found so endearing, and even though she had lost so much of herself, she hadn’t lost that.

 

A neurologist.” She bit out. Her tone had switched from open and friendly to closed off and cold.

 

And you’re walking?” Emmett laughed out, “Don’t you have a car?”

 

Bella placed her plate on the island bench and looked up at him, probably wondering the same thing we all were. When was Emmett going to remove the foot from his mouth.

 

No, I don’t like to drive.” She said, her eyes becoming less hostile, “Besides, I have never had this much trouble picking up a ride.” she shrugged. She took a deep breath and I could hear her angry heartbeat slow and the red flush of her cheeks quieten.

 

I glanced a look at Jasper, eyebrows raising in silent question. Did you calm her down?

 

Even though I was the mind reader, not Jasper, he knew what I was asking and replied in his thoughts.

 

I didn’t do a thing. She has remarkable control over her own emotional state. More so than most humans. The tone in his thoughts couldn’t hide much as he mentally compared her to other humans her age. They often flickered from one emotion to another, allowing themselves to stew and marinate in the most negative ones. Unable to sensor themselves they would lash out at those close, those they cared about, and strangers all the same. Even though Bella obviously experienced the same fleeting and fickle emotional states as any human, she could reel herself back from the brink. Choosing not the remain in the heat of anger.

 

The neurologist for that amnesia thing?” Emmett said, tapping his fork to his head, oblivious to both Jasper and I’s mental communication and how improper he was being. Emmett excelled at being a vampire, and relished in his immortality. The downside of this is he tended to have almost no mind to mouth filter, which often made humans uneasy.

 

Oh, your brother mention that. Did he?” Bella attempted to sound unconcerned, but I could tell she was embarrassed. I knew she didn’t mean to reveal as much about herself as she had while we were in the car together. That thought made me hopeful. That somewhere deep in the recesses of her forgotten memories she still felt that she could trust and confide in me. It pained me so much, how much I wanted her to remember. I just wished that she could remember who I was, and what she had once felt for me, without also remembering how I had left her so broken and alone.

 

Sorry,” I looked at her, hoping my face conveyed my apology.

 

No, no, its okay.” Bella waved away my apology with her empty hand, the other now picking at the food much like the rest of us had been. “I guess I can’t really complain. After all, if I was going to allow a strange woman my brother had picked up off the side of the road to stay the night, I would want to know as much as possible as well.” She said, still pushing the food around her plate.

 

So that was why she was allowing the torrent of questions. Why she seemed to be constantly censoring her words and actions. She was trying to be nice, and polite; a good house guest.

 

E mmett let loose a loud bout of laughter. Bella looked at him with hesitation and confusion before she joined in, with her own musical laughter. This was taken as a sign of approval by the rest of us and we joined in, letting the awkwardness wash off of us.

 

After a moment we all quietened down, and Emmett spoke up again. He moved in closer to Bella, and I was worried he was taking things too far. He spared me a glance and shot a pointed thought in my direction.

 

You can relax a little bit, Edward. It’s Bella, I’m just happy to have her around again. I’m not going to do anything to scare her away. His thoughts were meant to reassure me. In some small way they did, as I knew he would never do anything to scare her intentionally. It’s what he may do unintentionally that worried me.

 

E mmett reached over with his fork and stole a piece of broccoli from Bella’s plate before popping it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing it with an impressive level of composure. It was a spectacular display of humanism, and I could hear the shocked and amused thoughts of my family swirl around me.

 

So,” Emmett said, breaking his sentence to steal another piece of Bella’s food. I had to give him points for commitment, “Why don’t you like to drive?” and with that sentence I stopped being happily amused by my brother and went straight back to angry.

 

B ella shrugged, smiling up at the big bear of a vampire that now stood next to her, mimicking his actions and taking a bite of food. “It probably has something to do with the fact that the last time I was behind the wheel, I killed my father.” Her eyes sparkled playfully and her tone was casual and joking. In spite of this though, we didn’t know how to respond, even Emmett’s playful facade fell. Bella slowly took in the mood of the room and let out a low breath, “Whoa, tough crowd” She muttered to herself quietly, if we had been humans, we wouldn’t have be en able to hear her. She took a small sip of her water, her eyebrows furrowing. She then looked up and addressed us all, “Sorry,” She smiled shyly, “I forget that most people aren’t used to my unusually dark sense of humour.”

 

It’s fine” Jasper surprised us all by speaking, “A dark sense of humour can be refreshing.”

 

B ella smiled at him, “That is true, but I have found that the dead dad jokes tend to make most people nervous.” She laughed airily and Jasper chuckled. I was grateful for Jasper, and for the reassuring vibes he was sending towards Bella. I only hoped that she didn’t pick up on his sometimes not so subtle influences.

 

B ella then looked at her watch, it was the first time I noticed it. It was old and gaudy, the strap worn leather, and the face too big for her wrist. It was clearly a mans watch, and an old one at that.

 

God, I didn’t realise it’s so late. Do you need any help with cleaning up before I head up to bed?” Bella asked, a polite smile on her lips.

 

Oh no! Don’t worry about it. You head on up” Esme replied kindly, already collecting up the plates filled with untouched food.

 

Uhm, okay then. Well goodnight I guess.” Bella said, giving an awkward wave, “Thanks again for letting me stay, and for dinner.” She said, and then she ducked her head and scurried out of the door, almost as if she was worried that if she had lingered any longer we would change our minds and ask her to leave.

 

O nce we all heard the soft click of the bedroom door, we sprung into action. Rushing with inhuman speed as we cleaned the plates and disposed of the left over food. I could tell that Emmett was already regretting h is earlier shenanigans as an uneasy feeling grew in his stomach.

 

S uddenly we heard the window of Bella’s room open, why would she want to open the window and allow the frigid night air to assault her? My question was answered when I heard the familiar click of a lighter.

 

S lowly, the smell of the marijuana snaked its way through the air and down to the collection of vampires in the kitchen. Everyone’s noses twitched, nostrils flaring at the unfamiliar scent.

 

Is that... Carlisle’s thoughts tapered off into an unasked question.

 

Everyone’s minds were filled with similar questions, but it was Emmett who finally spoke aloud, the humour unmistakable in his deep and rumbling voice, “Is Bella smoking pot?”

 

I didn’t know what to say, how to answer this or any of their questions. So I just shrugged and sped to my own space. Intent on listening closely to the sound of Bella’s heartbeat and breathing.

Chapter Text

 

 

Bella’s POV

 

The air swirled around me, thick and heady. I could see my own hands, pale and unscarred, gripping the steering wheel tightly. I turned to the man in the passenger seat, I knew him, I knew that I knew him, and yet his face was unknown to me. His brow was creased and he was speaking. The words that fell from his mouth were lost to the void, and didn’t reach me.

 

Suddenly. Pain.

 

The world shifted and all I could feel was the snapping of bones and the burning of flesh.

 

My vision blurred. And I was no longer in the car. I was standing in a field, all tall grass and wildflowers. Another man stood in front of me, another stranger I was supposed to know. His face blurred, and indistinguishable. But even if I had been able to make out his features, that isn’t what I would have been looking at. As he stood there, buttoned shirt open, small rays of sun peaked through the clouds and danced across his skin. The light refracted into a thousand gems, and I couldn’t believe the beautiful sight in front of me.

 

I tried to move towards the beautiful enigma in front of me, somehow knowing he could help me find that missing piece of myself. My legs wouldn’t obey.

 

I could feel myself being pulled away, back into the darkness behind me, away from the stunning scene in front of me. I felt myself being pulled back into the flames, back into the sound of twisting metal and pained screams. Back into the world of endless ports, and that thick hard tube, forcing air into my lungs as I fought against it. Back into the blind panic, as I realised, I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know who I was.

 

I woke up, my eyes wide and unseeing in the darkened room. My breath came in pants and I shivered, as I realised I had worked myself into a cold sweat. I leaned over and grabbed my watch from the side table. 5 am.

 

A s far as restful night sleeps went, this was one of the better ones. I fumbled with the bulky strap as I put on the watch. It had been my dad’s. Well, that's what I had been told. I don’t remember.

 

Oh, of course I knew what he had looked like. His friends from his work had made sure to show me the plethora of pictures they had, regaling me with tales of how he loved to hunt, loved to fish, how he had loved me.

 

It didn’t help. Whenever I had looked at the warm face in the pictures, face creased into a friendly smile, eyes brown like mine looking back at me, all I saw was a stranger. Still, I held onto the images, and a few of his items. I wore his watch everyday, a reminder of the family I had lost, and the family I hoped to god I could one day remember. I tried not to let the anger that was rising take hold in my chest for long. Mainly because I was angry at all the wrong people. The more stories those kind men told me about my dad, the more angry I became at them. Frustrated by my inability to remember. That anger had manifested in me, taking root deep inside my gut, weaving its evil tendrils through the depths of my being. I am sure I had been the worst patient that those poor doctors and nurses ever had the displeasure of treating. I took my anger out on them, pulling at wires that should have remained untouched, struggling spitefully when it was time to de bride my burn wounds and change my dressings.

 

I t had taken me a long time, to let go of my anger, learn how to recognise it, feel it, but not let it control me. Nothing ever good came from letting my emotions get the best of me.

 

 

As arduous as this trip to Seattle was becoming, I held hope. That somehow this doctor would be able to offer me something all the others hadn’t.

 

Well, I fucking hoped they did. Even though I had received a small, but not insignificant, inheritance from my dad, I was still paying off the medical bills from the original incident.

 

I pulled on my clothes, figuring that there was no need to impose on these kind people anymore than I already had. I dug through my mess of a bag and found an old receipt, turning it over I scribbled in my messy script.

 

Cullen’s,

 

Thank you so much for your kind hospitality.

You are exceptionally charitable and warmhearted.

If you are ever in Colville, please stop by Jim’s Bar and Grill. Dinner is on me this time.

 

Thanks,

Izzie.

 

 

I read over the note, it didn’t seem enough, but it would have to do. I gathered my things and poked my head out the door, looking down the hallway one way, and then the other. I listened for a moment and when I was confident that no one else in the house was awake I made my silent escape down the stairs.

 

I left the note on the hall table, hoping it was prominent enough and wouldn’t be mistake for a piece of trash. Not wanting to linger any more than I had, I just had to hope they found my note.

 

I opened the front door and closed it softly, wincing at the soft click it made, as if such a small and faint noise could be heard by anyone but me. Once I was down the stairs I stopped briefly, slowly easing my aching body onto the steps to put on my shoes.

 

I took another look as the grand house, and silently thank ed the very strange, but still very nice family. For a brief moment, I thought I saw the shift of a curtain, and the flicker of movement behind the window pane. I shifted my duffle to my shoulder and turned to start my walk back to the highway.

 

 

Two weeks later

 

That neurologist had been both a waste of my time, and my energy. It turns out, that after a long and difficult inspection, their experimental treatment of direct brain stimulation would most likely not help me after all. And even though, it might help, they didn’t want to risk brain surgery if it wasn’t an almost guarantee. Frustrated as I was, I was glad. The last thing I needed was more medical bills, and no memory to show for it.

 

I shook my head in a futile attempt to clear my head. I grabbed the damp dishtowel and wiped the drops of spilled beer off the bar.

 

“Hey Izzie,” a loud voice boomed at me from across the bar, and I looked up grateful for the distraction,

 

“What do you need, Barry?” I asked, flicking the dish cloth over my shoulder as I observed the older man. His face was wrinkled and soft looking, his thinning hair peaked out from under a baseball cap.

 

“Who do you think would win in a fight, me or old man Mark here.” He said, aiming a kick under the table at his friend.

 

“Hey!” Mark huffed, “we're the same age.” He protested.

 

“No,” I said, pointing a scolding finger and the men, “There is no fighting in my bar.” I asserted, leveling a steely gaze at them. It was still early in the night, just approaching seven, and the two men were the only people here. I knew though, that as the night drew on that more of my regulars would come in.

 

“Oh hey now,” Barry said, putting his hands up in surrender. He then picked up the two empty glasses that sat on the table in front of him. “I never said we were actually going to fight.” He continued as he made his way over to me. He placed the empty glasses on the bar.

 

“Another round?” I asked, already knowing the answer. It was Friday, and this was Barry and Mark’s weekly ritual. Every week they would come in, drink some beer, play darts and pretend that they hadn’t completely wasted their lives in this no where town.

 

“Yes, please, sweetie.” Barry murmured, and I smiled happily. I liked to think that Barry and Mark were a lot like my dad had been, not that I could actually know. It was still nice to hope. “So? Who would win?” He asked again, as I moved to refill their glasses.

 

“Hmm,” I hummed to myself as I filled the first glass at the tap, “You really wanna know what I think?” I asked, raising a playful eyebrow at him as I placed the first beer in front of him. He didn’t answer other than a quick nod and a rascally smile. “Well,” I continued as I filled the second glass, “I think you are both far too old, and far too fat, to be resorting to such childish shenanigans. And if by some twist of fate it did happen, I would call both your wives, and in that case my money is on them.” I finished my jest as I put the second beer down.

 

There was a moment of silence before the booming laughter of both men filled the bar and I laughed along with them. “You wouldn’t actually call my wife, would you?” Barry asked in a low tone as he handed me a note.

 

“You know I would” I winked as I got him his change.

 

“You are a devil.” Barry chuckled, as he tucked his change into my tip jar. I watched as he carefully carried his drinks back to his friend and sat them on the table, before sitting in his seat and continuing his low conversation. Their murmured words filled the room, I was unable to make out what they were saying but I smiled as I heard them laugh every now and again.

 

I busied myself wiping down the bar and straightening the bottles of liquor on display. My ears peaked up at the tinkling sound of the metal bell attached to the door. My usual's didn’t normally start trickling in until 8. I turned around, wiping my hands on the stained apron tied around my waist.

 

“Welcome to Jim’s Bar and Grill,” said automatically. The rest of my greeting stalled on my lips as I saw who had entered the bar. It was Edward, the strange and kind man who had picked me up two weeks ago. I had started to think that my memories of him were exaggerated, that no person could be as stunning as he was. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or sad that my memories were accurate. Relieved, because whenever I began to doubt my own recollections of events I couldn’t stop the panic that would clench in my chest. Sad, because he was astoundingly beautiful and someone who looked like they belonged on the front of a magazine couldn’t possibly find me anything other than scarred and ugly.

 

For the first time in years I felt exposed and raw. This bar had become a sanctuary for me, a place that I found comfort and normalcy. I didn’t need to hide here, I didn’t need to cover up my burns or the scars from previous surgeries. The people here knew me, and they knew better than to stare or ask questions. They knew me for who I was now, not for whatever had happened to me before I came to live here. I struggled with the urge to run to the backroom and throw on my jacket over top of my light coloured tank top.

 

I cleared my throat, “Edward,”I greeted hoping that my face didn’t portray the litany of emotions I was feeling. “Glad you got my note. What can I get for you.” I continued.

 

Edward moved through the room, weaving gracefully between the tables. I watched as his eyes flickered down my arms, and tried to ignore the frown that pulled at his lips. I didn’t like people starring. It was rude, and made me feel like some sort of freak show. People stared at me as if I didn’t already know what they were thinking. And then, when I would catch their eye, they would turn their heads as if that would make it less obvious. I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to meet his eye, “The kitchen is just starting dinner service,” I said, “What me to get you something?”

 

Edward spoke for the first time, his voice smooth and honeyed “No, thank you Izzie.” He slipped gracefully into one of the bar stools. His eyes were now looking directly into mine, and the sight of his amber coloured eyes, so strange and hypnotic made my heart beat just a little bit faster.

 

I cleared my throat as I broke eye contact. What the actual fuck. I felt like a heart sick teenager, not that I actually remembered what it was like to be a teenager, but I imagined it felt a lot like this.

 

“Well, can I get you a drink then?” I side, uncrossing my arms and busied myself fiddling with the objects behind the bar, straightening the tumblers and glasses that didn’t need straightening.

 

“Do you have wine?” He asked,

 

My eyes flickered up to his face, and I could see the same intense look as before, “Uhm yeah,” I nodded

 

“What kinds?”

 

I laughed, “Red, or white.” I smiled at him as he laughed along with me, “I think we have some sparkling wine too, but I would be hesitant to call it champagne.”

 

“A glass of red wine would be lovely,” He hummed as he shrugged off his grey pea-coat and hung it off the back of his chair. I poured him a glass and handed it to him, “How much do I owe you?” He asked,

 

“Oh no, It’s on me” I shook my head

“Izzie, how much?” He asked again, his tone stern but his eyes playful,

 

“Okay, it’s $12” I laughed.

 

Edward reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a leather wallet, and produced a crisp $20 note. “Keep the change,” He said, as he handed it to me. I raised a questioning eyebrow, but didn’t say anything as I tucked the change into my tip jar.

 

“So, how have you been?” I asked. I felt more comfortable speaking to him here, now, than I had in his car or in his home. This was my home, my domain, and it was so easy for me to slip into a familiar level of friendly that I had with most of my patrons.

 

“I have been well,” He answered coolly, and I raised an eyebrow at the change in his tone. He had been almost overly friendly in our short encounter a few weeks back. Then again, he was probably just being polite then, or worse, he pitied me. That was the other reaction I often elicited in people, if they didn’t respond in thinly veiled shock then they would bombard me with unwanted pity. I hoped to god that this wasn’t what he and his family were doing. As if sensing my change in mood Edward smiled reassuringly at me before saying, “You ran out rather early, didn’t you?”

 

I didn’t have to ask what he was referring to, and I just shrugged, “I didn’t want to bother you and your family more than I already had. Besides I got a lift from a trucker after only a few minutes.” I reached under the bar and pulled out a cutting board and some lemons, busying myself with preparing them for the patrons that would be arriving shortly.

 

“You could never be a bother.” He murmured.

 

This was not the response I was expecting from him, and when I looked up at him with shock the sharp carving knife slipped, nicking the end of my finger. “Oh for fucks sake.” I chastised myself as I held up my now bleeding finger before burying it in the dish cloth. I hissed, “Well that was a fucking mistake.” I muttered, and looked up at Edward who’s eyes had grown dark. He sat ridged in his seat, his already pale face growing paler. “Lemon juice,” I chuckled before moving to the sink to rinse out the cut. I watched as the running water turned pale pink with my blood and turned around to Edward, who was starting to look ill. “You don’t like blood?” I guessed.

 

“No,” He said the word softly, and deeply,

 

“Okay well, if you’re gonna be sick the bathrooms are over there. I do not want to be cleaning puke off the floor this early in my shift.” I jested, attempting to lighten the now dark mood. Wordlessly, the jolted up from his stool and breezed towards the door I had just pointed out.

 

I fished the old first aid kit out from under the bar and dried my finger before putting on a gaudy fluorescent yellow band-aid on the cut. I then threw out the lemons that were now contaminated and washed the cutting board and knife.

 

As I was cleaning I noticed Edward leave the bathroom, less sickly looking than before. “You alright?” I asked worryingly.

 

“Fine,”He snapped, “Thank you for the wine.” he didn’t stop as he moved past his bar stool, grabbing his coat as he went. The bell jingled noisily as he opened it and then slammed it behind him.

 

“What’s that guy’s problem?” Barry asked, appearing at the bar with two empty glasses.

 

“No idea,” I shrugged taking them from him, “I guess he just doesn’t like blood.”

Chapter Text

 

 

Edward’s POV

 

 

Turn around, go back and rip her throat out with your teeth .

 

“No,” I growled out loud and I ran through the forest that bordered the town of Colville.

 

You know you want to. The monster inside of me continued, the burn in the back of my throat raged like a wild fire out of control. “ No!” It was a scream now, as I skidded to a halt. The soft soil of the forest floor gave way underneath my feet, making dark brown marks as my feet churned up the earth. Its not worth fighting Whispered the monster just go back and take her, it would be so easy . Stop!” I flung my fist at the closest thing to me, and a not so small cedar tree snapped in half in a shower of splinters.

 

I hadn’t felt this out of control since that first time all those years ago in that biology class room. Seeing her again all these years was complete torment, but I had been able to control the monster that hid itself away inside of me. All my self control left me the moment I saw that crimson drop of blood fall from her pristine finger tip. I hadn’t been able to stop my breathing quick enough before the scent hit me like a freight train going full speed. It was a small miracle that I had managed to make my escape without hurting her, or the two other humans who would have been witness to her bloody death.

 

B y the time I had come back to myself the muted light of the just set sun was gone, replaced with the cool stillness of the night. The monster was now back under control, so when I felt the urge to go find Bella, I knew it was out of love and concern and not blood lust. I raced back to the bar where she worked, but I arrived to find it closed. I checked the time on my phone, of course it was closed it was almost 2 am. I inhaled deeply, trying to separate out her scent from all the others. It didn’t take me long, and I took off in a sprint, following it down the road and then out of town.

 

I had found her house easily. Although it wasn’t much of a house, rather a small cottage of sorts. It was nestled in among the trees of f the road a little bit, only slightly out of town. Close enough that she could probably still walk into town without issue, although the thought of her doing so troubled me.

 

I stood in the shadow of a tall pine and listened. I could hear her heartbeat, but it wasn’t alone. Pain racked my body and I felt like pulling my hair out in grief, before I realised it wasn’t a human heartbeat. No, it was definitely not human. It was a cat, Bella had a pet cat. The thought of this made me smile, the terrible pain from before vanishing like smoke.

 

I listened to Bella sleep. Her slow and even breathing became faster, and then it started to come in quick panting breaths. “ Please,” I heard her whimper. I was halfway to the window before I stopped myself. I couldn’t go in to comfort her, no matter how much I wanted to. I could see her now, wearing a short sleeved nightshirt, her arms exposed. Even though they were marbled with burn scars that weaved raised red patterns across her skin, I still found her breath taking. “ Help me.” Bella groaned out, turning restlessly in her bed. As she moved her shirt rose slightly, and I could see the start of a long vertical scar as it disappeared under the clothing. Her words started to become unintelligible even to me. Now just moans and grunts of pain. Then a heartbreaking scream escaped her lips, loud and shrill. “Don’t go!” she yelled out. Was she dreaming of me? I didn’t dare to hope. This sounded more like a nightmare, and even though I wanted nothing more than for her to remember me, I didn’t want to be the source of her nightmares. Another scream erupted from her lips, and then suddenly a small motley coloured cat jumped on her chest.

 

B ella woke up, gasping for breath. The movement made the cat fall from her chest and into her lap with a startled meow . I shifted slightly in my hiding spot, moving so I was more in the shadows than before but so I could still see her. “ Oh,” Bella gasped, grabbing at the cat and holding it close to her chest. It didn’t complain but let out a soft mewing sound. Silent tears started to fall from Bella’s eyes, as she held onto the cat as if it was the only thing stopping her from completely falling apart. If I wasn’t already dead I would want to die right then, as atonement for the pain I had caused.

 

B ella released the cat and it settled across her legs. “Oh Anthony, you are the best man a girl could ask for.” Bella sadly chuckled to herself as she caressed the back of the tortoiseshell cat. It purred in contentment. I almost purred happily along side it when I heard it’s name. Was it pure coincidence? Or did some part of her remember my middle name? Remember me? Did she know why she named her beloved pet that? Or did she just feel an attachment to it? I wanted so badly to go inside and ask her.

 

I continued to watch silently as she picked up the cat and placed it on the bed next to her. I saw her check the time, and groan. She flicked on a dim bedside lamp and swung her legs out of bed. I tried not to stare, I really did, but h er short pyjama pants left much of her skin exposed. There was a long scar on her left shinbone , which I knew was probably from some orthopaedic surgery, most likely setting a bone. Large raised purple scars riddled both legs, like cattle brands. Too late I realised, it was most likely from being pressed up against the red hot metal of a burning vehicle. I still found her beautiful, stunning, like a breath of fresh summer air. She was still my Bella, and she would always be perfect to me, no amount of scars could change that.

 

B ella moved to sit in front of a vanity mirror. She looked at herself and sighed, she had some dark bags under her eyes, and her hair was a mess. She reached for a bottle of pills. From the angle of my hiding spot I couldn’t make out what they were. She opened the bottle and shook some into her hand before tossing them into her mouth, swallowing them without difficulty.

 

She made eye contact with herself, “ My name is Isabella Swan.” She stated at her reflection, “ I am twenty-two years old. I was born in Forks, Washington. I now live in Colville, Washington.” As she talked, she never stopped looking into her own eyes. “ I have retrograde amnesia after a car accident.” The last statement seemed to hang in the air. “ It is not my fault my father died.” She finally said, and I had to stop the painful sob that was forming in my throat. “Not my fault.” she whispered. She repeated this mantra to herself a few more times, repeating her own name and place of birth. This ritual seemed to calm her, or maybe it was whatever pills she had taken, perhaps it was a combination of both.

 

Slowly she made her way back to bed, picking up her cat as she turned out the light. She rolled on her side, facing the window and snuggled the cat close to her chest. I smiled, she seemed so calm, almost happy. Through the dark I made eye contact with the bright yellow eyes of Anthony the cat, and immediately his hackles rose and he let out a violent hiss. The sound and movement caused Bella to stir and sit up.

 

I didn’t wait around to see what else happened, as I turned and ran as fast as I could into the dark and lonely forest.

Chapter Text

 

 

Bella’s (aka Izzie) POV

 

 

I weaved my way through the kitchen of the bar with a quick smile to Ethan, the cook. I made my way to the back exit and heaved open the heavy door, wedging it open with a brick.

 

With a sigh I let my customer service facade fall. It was Thursday night, not our busiest night by far, but I hadn’t slept well for a few nights now. I had always been waking up at strange hours, which was pretty normal for me. It was my cat, Anthony. He was usually a calming presence, helping ease me back into sleep after a frightful dream. The last few nights though, he had been cagey and hostile. Always looking out the window. I had gone out to check, and hadn’t seen anything. I think it must have had been a raccoon or something rooting around outside that was setting him off.

 

After the first night it happened, I had gone into town and borrowed a trap from the ranger service. I had hoped to be able to catch the offending critter and give it to the rangers, so they could re-home him somewhere else. Somewhere far away from me and my cat so I could get a decent nights sleep. I had had no luck so far. The trap had remained empty.

 

I sat down on an empty milk crate and pulled a joint from my apron pocket, and a lighter from my jeans. I lit it and took a slow inhale, pulling the smoke deep into my lungs and held it there. Already I could feel the soft ooze of the drug working its way into my mind and body, calming my frayed nerves and easing the ache in my hips and leg.

 

“Hello,” A soft voice called out,

 

I let out the smoke in a startled cough, searching for who had spoken. I could see the shape of a man in the shadows and I narrowed my eyes in an attempt to see him better. He then stepped into the soft glow of the spot light that was attached to the wall of the building. “Edward,” I chuckled to myself, “You scared the crap out of me. What the hell are you doing lurking in the shadows like a predator?” I took another drag of my smoke.

 

He seemed to flinch at my word choice and a pang of guilt pulled at my chest, “I’m sorry,” He said, moving closer and sitting on a crate next to me, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

 

I shrugged “It’s alright. What are you doing back here?”

 

“I was heading in to the bar, and I saw you out here.”

 

I thought that was unlikely, the back entrance to the bar was on the side of the building. You couldn’t see it from the car park or the road. I didn’t point this out though, I didn’t want him to leave. I couldn’t explain it. I mean I barely knew this man but somehow it also felt as if I had known him all my life. I felt comfortable near him, safe almost.

 

I didn’t know why he kept turning up now. I had never seen him before he picked me up off the highway, so I knew he didn’t live in town. I was grateful for it though; for his continuing presence in my life, even if he was the strangest person I had ever met.

 

“Are you okay?” He asked, his eyebrows furrowed in worry, “You look tired.”

 

I laughed as I inhaled another lungful of smoke before extinguishing the remainder and putting it back in my apron pocket, “That’s just a polite way of saying I look like shit.”

 

“What?” He gasped, almost offended by the accusation, “I didn’t mean it like that at all! You look beautiful! You always do.”

 

I laughed at his indignation and I shoved playfully at his shoulder. He didn’t move. Not an inch. I tried to not let my confusion show as I said, “I am just messing with you, relax.” I stretched my arms above my head. I felt my shoulders click and groans of pain flitted through them and down my arms. I could always rely on my pain to remind me of who and what I was. I was a mess. The human equivalent of a dumpster fire, and no matter how attractive I thought Edward was there was no hope for me there. The way my heart jumped in surprise and happiness when he appeared, both now and last week, was just a sad reminder of my hopeless desire to be normal. Be a normal girl, who could maybe ask out the normal boy, and go on a normal date, and have a normal life.

 

Instead I was everything other than normal. I was a person that was held together with wires and pins. My bones fused together with titanium plating and grafts from corpses. I was both living and dead. Human and inhuman. Even my mind did not escape harm. Who I was, whoever I had been before was lost to me. Maybe forever. Did I like strawberries? Then why did the smell of them make me want to cry? Why was it, that whenever I heard the soft sound of a piano that my heart clenched in longing and sadness. How could I even think of bringing this gentle man into my messy life? I was so busy, trying to put myself back together. Trying so desperately to find the missing pieces of myself and once again become human.

 

I couldn’t help it though, as I sat there in the cool night air, the smell of smoke still lingering around us. Edward’s compassionate and tormented eyes observed me. What I wouldn’t give to be able to read minds. To know what he was thinking, what he was feeling. Why did he keep coming back? My body acted without input from my mind, or my better judgement. My hand rose to rest on his cheek, the coldness of his skin only shocking me slightly. Somewhere deep inside I had been expecting it.

 

“You think I’m beautiful?” I whispered, my voice cracked as tears started to well in my eyes. I looked at my disfigured hand against his perfect and pristine skin. It was a grotesque mural of red and purple, weaving into brown before it faded into my ivory wrist. The pallor of my skin just making it all that much more obvious. The scars tugged and pulled at the skin, and I roughly pulled my hand away. I didn’t want to look at it anymore. Seeing my flaws in contrast to his perfection hurt too much. I looked away from him and down into my lap. A few tears made their escape, slipping down my cheeks and falling to the dirt. “I’m a monster.” I whispered.

 

I heard him shift beside me, but I didn’t dare to look over to him. Then I saw him crouch in front of me, an elegant hand reached towards me and lifted my head. “You are the single most beautiful being I have ever laid my eyes on.” His eyes were boring into mine, he was so serious and so sad. There wasn’t a hint of pity in his voice. I believed him. I don’t know why, but I somehow knew that he was telling me the truth. He wasn’t trying to make me feel better, or trying to stop me from throwing myself a pity party. When Edward said those words, they were true for him. And I could see that.

 

I managed to smile and he let go of my chin. I wiped the tears from my face and let out a shaky breath as I stood up. I ran my hands through my hair to calm myself, “Sorry,” I said, “I kinda lost it there for a second.” I was staring at the ground, suddenly unable to look him in the eye.

 

“Izzie,” The sound of my name on his lips made my heart beat loudly in my ears. I looked at him with a questioning look, “There was a reason I came here tonight.” He continued.

 

I cleared my throat and straightened my apron, “And what was that?” I hoped to god that I sounded calm and casual. I sure as fuck didn’t feel calm, my heart was still beating so loudly I was sure he could hear it.

 

“I came here to see you.” He said it so plainly, like it should have been the most obvious thing in the world.

 

“Me? Why?” I had a hope, building in my chest. He was going to ask me out, I really hoped he was going to ask me out. I squashed this feeling down, it was better not to hope. When you hoped, all you got was sadness and pain. It was better to expect the worst.

 

“I was wondering if I could take you to dinner one night? When you don’t have work?” He shifted from one foot to the other, was he nervous?

 

“Uhm sure?” I squeaked out, “I have Mondays and Tuesdays off.”

 

His serious expression broke out into a stunning grin, and I had to stop myself from staring like a slack jawed idiot, “Great, how does Monday sound?” He asked,

 

“Uhh, sure,” I then fumbled for my phone from my back pocket and handed it to him, “Here, put your number in my phone.” Without answering he took it from me swiftly and put in his contact details. “I gotta go back to work, but I’ll text you after my shift and we can work out the details then.” I slipped the phone back into my pocket.

 

“I look forward to it.” He smiled,

 

“Sure,” I managed to stutter out as I slipped back in the heavy door, pulling the brick inside with me so the door could close with a heavy click. I leaned my back against the door and let out a heavy breath as my breathing returned back to a normal pace.

 

Edward had asked me out on a date. Edward had called me beautiful. Edward didn’t think of me as some monster to be stared at or pitied.

 

I returned back to work, giving people their drink orders and running food to tables. A smile never left my face for the rest of my shift, and unlike before it was genuine. For the first time in a long time, for almost as long as I could remember, I felt happy. Better yet, I felt hopeful.

Chapter Text

 

 

Edwards POV

 

 

 

She had said yes. She was going to text me after her shift. My chest was exploding with happiness and hope. Maybe I could fix this. Fix all the terrible things that had happened over the past four years. Maybe I could fix her. Help her to remember herself.

 

I stood in the shadows of the trees near Bella’s cottage, my phone was grasped in my hands like a holy artifact. Soon it would vibrate and Bella’s message would come through to me. I felt like a prophet waiting to hear from my god.

 

I could hear the soft heartbeat of Anthony the cat, thrumming away inside. He was sitting on the window sill of Bella’s bedroom, staring vaguely in my direction. I was sure he couldn’t see me, not here in the shadows of the trees. Somehow though, he still seemed to know I was nearby. His yellow eyes searched the forest, his multi-coloured tail swished back and forth in anger. It was such a strange reaction. Most animals responded to my kind with fear, with running and hiding. This cat, Bella’s cat, reacted defensively. As if this ten pound creature could stand a chance against me.

 

M y head perked up at the sound of a car approaching the cottage, so did Anthony’s. His whole demeanor changed as he let out a soft trill of recognition as he launched himself from the window sill and out of sight. I moved from my hiding place so I could see the front of the cottage.

 

An old beat up car slowly drove up. It was all rusted, and one of the doors was a different colour than the rest of the car. It came to a stop near Bella’s front door, the engine still idling. The passenger side door opened and I watched as Bella’s slim frame exited the vehicle.

 

“Thanks for the ride, Ethan.” I heard her say to the driver,

 

“Don’t mention it Iz, any time.” A rough voice answered.

 

Bella closed the door, it squeaked and groaned in protest. She moved to her front door and unlocked it and quickly went inside.

 

Oh hello Anthony.” I heard her say with a happy sigh. I listened as she picked up her cat, and he started to purr. “You will never guess what happened today.” She said.

 

O nce the car left, I moved myself around the cottage so I could see in the living room window. The main room of the cottage was one large living space, a small kitchen and dining area set up near a living room and TV. A small hallway led to her bedroom and what I assumed was the bathroom. I watched as she went to one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out a can of cat food. Anthony’s purring increased as he rubbed against her legs. She opened the can and put the contents in a bowl, and even from my hiding place the fowl smell of fish and offal filled my nostrils.

 

Edward visited me again tonight.” She said, as she placed the bowl down on the ground. I smiled to myself at the sound of my name coming from her lips. She sat down next to the cat and petted him as he ate, “I know, I was just as surprised as you. I mean, what could he possibly want with me?” she continued to talk to her cat and the absurdity of it made my smile turn into a grin. Anthony didn’t answer, he just kept eating, his loud purrs filling the room. “Well, he asked me out on a date!” Bella chirped happily, “I have his number in my phone, I am meant to text him after my shift.”

 

Anthony had finished his food and Bella picked up the bowl and rinsed it out. “ What do you think? Should we text him?” She asked as she picked up the cat and moved to sit on the sofa. I moved a little bit from where I was hiding, so I could still see Bella, but that neither her or her cat could see me. Yes, text me . I wanted to scream it out. Text me, talk to me, be with me.

 

Okay, here goes nothing.” She sighed and I heard the minute clicks of her cellphone.

 

M y phone vibrated and I looked at it. Hi, It’s Izzie here. From the bar?

 

I felt my heart in my throat and I forced myself to type at a reasonable human speed. Yes, I remember. How was your shift? I pressed send and heard the chime of her cell phone a minute later.

 

Look Anthony! He texted back.” She showed her phone to the cat and I chuckled under my breath. A few moments passed before my phone vibrated in my hand again. It was the usual, quiet. Then another message followed quickly afterwards, It was better after your visit.

 

I didn’t know what to say to that. My presence had made her night better. “ Oh no, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.” Bella murmured to herself, or to her cat. Anthony offered no advice, choosing to settle comfortably on Bella’s lap. I quickly responded before Bella could get the wrong idea. It was really great to see you too. How about dinner on Monday?

 

I watched Bella’s beautiful face smile d as she typed out her response, my phone then alerted me to her message. I would really like that. But there’s not many places to have dinner in Colville other than Jim’s. And I don’t really want to go into work on my night off. Any ideas?

 

Did I have any ideas? I had a thousand. I could take her into the forest for a candle lit dinner. I could drive her to my home and make her a five star, five course meal. I could hire I private jet and fly us to Maine for lobsters. Somehow I thought that last one would be too much.

 

Well, I live less than an hours drive away . I can ask my family for some privacy and I could cook for you? I responded.

 

Whoa there cowboy, already trying to get me alone are you? Bella’s response came immediately.

 

Is that what she thought? That I was trying to bed her? The thought horrified me. Oh no! I am so sorry. I did not mean to be inappropriate in the slightest. Please forgive me.

 

I could hear Bella’s boisterous laughter, once she had calmed herself I heard her type her response before my phone vibrated. Dude, chill out. I was kidding. Dinner at your house sounds really nice. Are you always this serious?

 

 

I let out a relieved sigh and replied. I was raised to always show a lady the utmost respect. When I thought that you assumed I wanted to bed you, I became worried.

 

I heard Bella snort in amusement, “Bed me? What is up with this guy, Anthony?” She spoke to her cat as she petted him. What did I say wrong? I was pulled out of my thoughts by my phone. Are you saying you don’t want to sleep with me?

 

What the?” I whispered to myself, staring at the message on my phone. How in the world was I supposed to respond to that? Of course, I wanted to take her to bed. I always had. My blood lust and strict upbringing was always in constant conflict with my desires towards Bella. I took a calming breath that I didn’t need before replying. I honestly do not know how I am meant to respond to that, Izzie.

 

I could hear her laughing again, and I smiled, glad I could illicit that response from her. Quickly though I realised she was laughing at me, not with me. “Oh Anthony, Edward sure is a strange guy. Its nice though. Isn’t it?” The cat didn’t provide a response. My phone alerted again. Edward, I think you need to just take a breath and stop taking everything so seriously. Life is short.

 

Oh Bella, how wrong you were. My life was agonisingly long. Another message came through. If it’s an hour to your house, how about you pick me up at mine at around 6? Here’s my address .

 

Following the message was an address and a link to google maps. I didn’t need it, obviously.

 

I look forward to seeing you again, Izzie. I answered her text without looking at my phone, instead looking at her through her living room window. I never wanted her to leave my sight again.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s (aka Izzie) POV

 

 

I was both nervous and excited. I had never been on a date before, or at least I couldn’t remember if I had ever gone on a date before. Maybe I had been on lots of dates before my accident. But afterwards? No. Well, that wasn’t totally true. There was that one nice male nurse who had given me chocolates and a rose on valentines day, and had spent the day with me holding my hand while my burns had been debrided by an over zealous intern. I don’t think that really counted as a date though. After all I had done a lot more screaming than talking.

 

I wasn’t sure what to wear, I didn’t really have anything that seemed like something you should wear on a first date. I ended up settling for some of my nicer clothes, the ones I saved for job interviews and specialist appointments.

 

I wore one of my nicer shirts. I dark blue blouse that hung loosely but still fit well. I then pulled on my black blazer, I shifted it until I felt it looked right. I was sure that I wouldn’t need the jacket, since we were going to be in his car and then his warm house. But I wanted to be able to cover my disfigured arms, and I didn’t have any long sleeve shirts that felt appropriate. The one risk I did take, was wearing my only skirt. It flared out slightly and hung just above my knees. I looked down at the unsightly scar on my shin and frowned. I almost got changed but then I thought, well if he really wanted to date me, he should know what he’s signing up for.

 

I had decided to do my makeup, just to make me look a little more human and less like a member of the un-dead. I had just finished when I heard a light knocking at my door. I glanced at the time on my cell phone, it was just before six. I jumped up from my seat in front of my vanity mirror and headed down the hall towards the front door. I grabbed my purse on my way through my little cottage. “ Now, Anthony.” I said, addressing my cat, “I will be going out now. Be good, and don’t wait up.” I gave him a quick kiss on his little head before I went to the door.

 

I opened the door to see Edward standing there, an amused expression on his face. I felt a blush rise to my cheeks as I looked him over. He wore nicely fitting slacks, and a floral patterned button up. He had left the top few buttons undone and I was momentarily distracted by the site of his smooth chest. He also wore a dark blue pea-coat.

 

Hello, Izzie.” Edward greeted, pulling me out of my stupor.

 

“Hi,” I smiled and moved towards him, he shifted out of my way and I turned to lock the door behind me. I could feel his eyes on me as I did so, and almost dropped my keys. Somehow I managed the task and put my keys in my purse.

 

You look lovely,” He said as we walked towards his car, the same silver Volvo he had picked me up in weeks prior.

 

Thank you, you look very handsome.” I replied. God I was acting like a total idiot. Why was I acting so formally? We had been texting each other every day since Thursday. Nothing serious, just checking in. I would sometimes send him a funny image or video I had found, and he would sometimes send me quotes of whatever book he was reading. It was so easy, so effortless. But now we were face to face I had no idea how to act. Edward moved and opened the car door for me and I lowered myself in. I tried my best to ignore the stab in my hip as I did so.

 

 

 

First dates. How were you supposed to act on a first date? We were supposed to get to know each other, casually telling each other titbits of our lives, our childhoods. Except I didn’t have any. I didn’t have any information I could share with him. My anxiety grew as he got into the drivers side and started the car, pulling out along my short drive and onto the road. T his was a mistake. Surely, soon he would realise this too.

 

Are you okay, Izzie?” I could barely hear him over the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears.

 

“Huh?” I hummed, looking over at him.

 

You seem worried?” His eyes flickered between me and the road.

 

I laughed lightly in what I hoped was a dismissing manner, “No, not worried. Just really nervous. I have never been on a date before.” I tucked my hair behind my ear.

 

Never?” He asked,

 

Well, I guess I might have.” I shrugged, “But if I have I don’t remember it. And it’s not like I had a line of potential dates waiting for me after my accident.”

 

Why do you do that?” His voice was lowered now, annoyed.

 

“Do what?”

 

“Put yourself down like that. Any man would be lucky to go on a date with you. I know I am beyond lucky to be going on a date with you.” He huffed out,

 

I laughed and smiled at him, again I knew that he wasn’t lying. He wasn’t trying to make me feel better or boost my confidence. He was simply saying what he saw to be the truth, he felt lucky to be in this car with me. “You sure are something else, Edward Cullen.” I teased.

 

We drove in silence for a while, which I welcomed. It gave me time I sort out my thoughts and calm down my anxieties. If Edward didn’t want to be here, he wouldn’t have asked me out in the first place. Soon enough we were turning onto the dirt road of his driveway, pulling up in front of his large home.

 

A s he had promised, it seemed that the rest of his family had vacated the premises for the evening. It wasn’t that I didn’t like his family, they were incredibly kind and friendly. I just didn’t want to be thinking about impressing them while also on a first date with their brother and son.

 

Before I could open my own door, Edward had done it for me. I smiled up at him and stepped out of the car, pulling the strap of my purse up on my shoulder. I tried my best to ignore the pain that shot from my hips down my legs. That always happened when I was in one position for too long, that’s why I liked bar-tending. I was always moving, so I never had too much time to think about one particular pain for too long. Unfortunately my grimace gave me away,

 

“Izzie, are you alright?” Edward asked, a cool hand coming to my shoulder as if to steady me.

 

Oh yeah I’m okay. My hips are just a bit stiff after sitting in the car for so long.” I tried to give him a convincing smile, “That’s the downside of having your pelvis held together with pins and plates.”

 

H is frowned deepened, “I didn’t think about that, I am sorry.” He brushed a strand of hair away from my face and another blush rose to my cheeks.

 

I pulled away from him, “Its fine. You didn’t know.”

Edward moved towards the front door and I followed. He opened the door and I wondered why it wasn’t locked. Then again, this far away from anyone else they probably didn’t feel the need to lock their door.

 

E dward shrugged off his coat and hung it on the coat rack near the front door. He moved to help me remove my own, I hesitated and thought about keeping it on. I didn’t want to shed this piece of armour that hid my scars from him. Eventually I decided to let him take it, after all he had seen my arms when I was at work. This wouldn’t come as a shock to him. It was more my own anxiety, to be seen like this in a romantic setting. I felt like covering myself up with a thousand protective layers, so no matter how hard someone were to dig they could never uncover my terrifying truth.

 

Edwards fingertips grazed the back of my neck, and the sides of my arms as he removed my blazer. I felt a thousand goose-pimples rise on my arms at his cool touch and my heart started hammering in my chest. How the hell was I going to get through the rest of the night, if my body kept reacting to this. Oh god. What if he kissed me? I didn’t want to hope. Hope was dangerous. It was deadly and fatal. In that moment th ough , all I hoped for is that Edward would kiss me before the night came to a close.

 

I hope you like Italian?” Edward asked, moving down the elegant hallway. I followed him in a familiar route to the kitchen.

 

Yeah, Italian food is great.” I replied, smiling over at him as he moved about the kitchen. Taking out pots and pans from their different hiding places. They all looked so shiny and brand new. It didn’t give me much hope for the outcome of this meal, unused cookware was never a sign of a brilliant cook. I didn’t voice my concerns though, I didn’t want to be rude when he was trying his best to make this night a nice one. A part of me wondered though that maybe I should have offered to cook for him in my little cottage instead, at least then I would know the food would be good.

 

You can take a seat here at the island while I cook.” He smiled over his shoulder and he moved to the fridge.

 

Oh uh, that’s alright. I would prefer to stand actually, stretch out a little bit.” I said and I hung my purse off the back of the stool he had referenced.

 

Oh, of course. I didn’t think. I’m sorry.” He placed a bunch of ingredients on the counter.

 

You apologise a lot.” I rolled my shoulders, before pulling my left arm across my chest. My body cracked loudly as I eased into the stretch.

 

E dward’s eyes snapped from his preparation straight to me, and he moved quickly to my side. “Izzie, are you alright?” His worried eyes flickered over me, as if trying to discern my injury.

 

I released my arm and looked at him in the eye, I brought my hand to rest on his shoulder and I was momentarily lost in his gaze. Finally I managed to say “Edward, I am fine. My body makes lots of strange noises. I’ m pretty sure my skeleton is more metal than bone at this point. I’ve gotten used to it, sometimes I forget that most people aren’t. I’m sorry if it startled you, but seriously it’s normal and I’m fine. If I need any help I will ask.”

 

You promise?” The request came out in a hushed whisper, and his breath fanned out across my face. His breath smelt like honey, and strawberries.

 

I struggled against the lump in my throat as I pulled away from him to give myself some breathing room. “Promise.” I said, nodding.

 

Okay, well I will start cooking. Dinner shouldn’t take more than an hour. Deserts already setting in the fridge.” Edward moved back to the other side of the island bench and I watched in aw at how he moved with such ease and grace.

 

Do you need a sou chef? I could cut up some of those vegetables?” I asked, motioning towards the stack of bell peppers.

 

“Oh no, you just stand over there and watch the show.” He smiled playfully,

 

You just don’t want me near any of those knives.” I grumbled as I remembered his severely adverse reaction to blood. “You really don’t like blood. Do you?”

 

Edward’s back was to me so I couldn’t see his face, but I watched as his shoulders stiffened. Had I struck a nerve? Maybe he had some deep seated trauma around blood and I had just brought it up. Great work, fantastic first date etiquette.

 

He slowly turned around, his face a mask I was unable to crack. “No, I really don’t. It makes me feel… sick” He said.

 

Alright. Noted.” I nodded, hoping to lighten the mood. Somehow I always managed to cock everything up. “So, what do you do for fun?”

 

Fun?” He repeated. He methodically chopped vegetables and added them to the skillet. “I enjoy reading. I also play the piano. What about you?” His mood seemed lighter and I was glad that my previous mess up had been forgotten.

 

I like reading too. I also have a cat, Anthony. I really like spending time with him.” I moved to sit down, now that my stiff muscles and sore bones had been stretched out.

 

E dward chuckled, “Anthony huh? That’s my middle name” He turned and gave me a playful smile.

 

Really?” I exclaimed, “That’s so strange!” I laughed.

 

Yeah,” He nodded, turning back to his work. From what I could tell he was making some sort of pasta sauce. “Did you name him that?”

 

I sure did. I don’t know why, it just seemed like his name.” My nose wrinkled in thought. “Do you like cats?”

 

“Sure,” Edward shrugged, “I like cats. Its just cats don’t seem to like me.”

 

“Oh well I will have to introduce you to Anthony. He is the nicest little kitty you will ever meet.” I smiled as I thought about the little tortie waiting for me at home.

 

“I look forward to it.”

 

I continued to watch Edward cook, and my earlier fears about his skills dissipated. He sliced and diced like a professional. I sat across from him as I watched him make pasta from scratch. He had put an apron over his nice clothes and it quickly became dusted with flour. Small particles of flour floated in the air around him like fairy moats and I was captivated. I was enthralled by his lean fingers as they needed the dough, stretching it out along the counter top. “You are so beautiful.” I whispered to myself. I thought I had said it quiet enough that Edward wouldn’t have been able to hear my quiet confession. He must have heard me though, as I saw his lips pull up into a half hidden smile.

 

I didn’t acknowledge that he had heard me. Admitting to that would have made my embarrassment unbearable. Instead, I just watched as he pulled the pasta through the pasta maker and dropped it into the waiting pot of boiling water. Soon, dinner was ready and Edward expertly plated up two delicious looking meals of Spaghetti Bolognese.

 

Edward smiled over at me, holding the two plates in his hands “This way, to the dining room.”

 

I followed him out, my mouth watering at the scent of the food. I can’t believe I doubted his skills. We came to a formal dining room and my breath got stuck in my throat. On the large mahogany table was a large bouquet of flowers, red roses and baby breath. The lights were dimmed, it softened the mood but it was still light enough to eat by. Edward placed one plate of food at the head of the table and the other next to it. He then pulled out the chair at the head of the table and smiled expectantly at me.

 

I managed to make my legs work long enough to walk across and sit down in the offered seat.

 

“Would you like a drink? How about some wine?” Edward said as he pushed in my chair.

 

“Oh no thank you. I don’t drink. Some water would be fine.” I answered, and I turned to see him disappear back the way we came and reappear with two glasses and a pitcher of cool water.

 

Edward sat down in front of his meal and poured us both a glass of water, “You’re a bartender who doesn’t drink?”

 

I shrugged, “I sometimes need to take sleeping pills. I never know when I will need them so it’s easier to just not drink. Alcohol and meds don’t mix well.”

 

“Right, well dig in.” Edward smiled at me gesturing to the food.

 

I didn’t need to be told twice. I hungrily dug my fork into the pasta, twirling the strands around before taking a large bite. I couldn’t contain the groan of pleasure when the flavours hit my tongue.

 

“Good?” Edward chuckled, taking a much smaller bite of his own meal.

 

“Good!?” I mumbled through a full mouth, “It’s fucking fantastic!”

 

Edwards eyes glittered happily as he smiled at me, “I am so glad you like it, Izzie.”

 

We ate in silence for a while. I couldn’t help myself from watching him. In the low light his hair seemed darker now, more brown than bronze. Sitting this close to him felt like a dream and I had to concentrate on my food or else I would have stared at him all night. In all honesty, I felt ridiculous. I was sitting next to a man who may as well have been a Greek god incarnate, in comparison to him I was as attractive as that raccoon who had been tormenting Anthony.

 

I was so consumed with my internal pity party that I didn’t notice Edward’s hand until it rested lightly on my own. I stopped eating and looked at our hands, his perfect ivory fingers encapsulating mine like a Russian nesting doll. I bit my lip as I turned my hand over, palm up, and weaved my fingers through his.

 

My heart was hammering in my chest and I could hear my pulse in my ears. Nervously I looked up from our entwined fingers to his face. He was staring at me so intensely, as if he held the weight of a thousand unsaid words behind his eyes. I had never had anyone look at me like that, with such emotion, such devotion. Suddenly, my eyes burned as tears welled in my eyes and my throat closed up as a heavy lump formed there.

 

“Oh no, Izzie. What’s wrong? I’m sorry.” Edward murmured removing his hand from mine to brush a tear away from my cheek.

 

I closed my eyes as more tears fell and I leaned into his cool touch, “No one has ever looked at me like that before.” I croaked out in a whisper, my voice breaking as more tears fell. It was like a flood gate had been opened and I couldn’t control the torrent of tears that streamed down my face. I heard Edward stand up, his chair scraping against the hardwood floors. Without warning I was pulled into an embrace. I welcomed it and put my arms around his neck as Edward weaved his arms around my waist. I buried my face in his neck, staining his nice shirt as my tears mixed with my makeup. His body was as cold as his hands, but it was a pleasant sensation that helped me to ground myself.

 

“Shh, Izzie. It’s okay. You’re okay.” He murmured into my hair.

 

I sniffled a bit and slowly pulled away, suddenly embarrassed by my outburst of emotion. I had made a complete fool of myself and I felt totally humiliated. First date with the most beautiful man I had ever seen, and I had cried and snotted all over his shirt that probably cost more than what I made in a week. “Ugh, I am so sorry.” I grabbed a napkin from the table and wiped my face. The white fabric came away slightly stained with my black eyeliner and mascara. “Oh I probably look disgusting right now. Like some sort of swamp monster or something.” I laughed shakily, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“No, no Izzie. You look lovely.” Edward was still crouched on the floor next to my chair. I looked around for a guest bathroom and as if sensing what I wanted Edward said, “But if you did want to freshen up there is a powder room down the hall, second door on the left.” He pointed towards the direction of the hall.

 

I nodded silently and scurried away, escaping towards the bathroom. Once alone I looked at myself in the mirror, my face was all red and blotchy and my eyeliner had left streaks of black down my face. “Ugh, yeah that’s fucking attractive.” I sniffled. I grabbed some toilet paper and wet it slightly, using it to clear off the marks from my cheeks. The cool water reminded me of Edwards touch and it helped me to relax and compose myself. Once I looked like something vaguely resembling a human woman I looked at myself in the mirror. Okay, this is fine. He probably thinks you are just some emotionally unstable crazy person. And he would be right. Mostly.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “Just go out there and try to salvage what is left of this date. Although I seriously doubt you will be getting that kiss now.” I pointed a scolding finger at my reflection. I nodded to myself and tried to feel as confident as I could as I exited the bathroom and went back to the dining room.

 

W hen I had returned, Edward was waiting for me. He had removed our plates, I had eaten almost all of my food anyway. “ Feeling better?” He asked softly, I nodded mutely as I sat back down.

 

I’m really sorry about that, Edward. I have no idea what came over me.” I smiled apologetically at him.

 

Nonsense, Izzie. You have been through a lot, and its only natural for some strong emotions to come out.” He reached across the small gap between us and brushed my hair behind my ear.

 

I am usually much better at controlling my emotions. I swear I am. Its just the way you were looking at me.” I shook my head to clear my thoughts, “I don’t know. It’s like something inside me just snapped? It happens sometimes. I will have the most absurd reactions to the most mundane things. Like my body is reacting to a memory my mind can’t even remember.” I risked a glance in his direction, “You must think that I’m a freak or something.”

 

No, I think you are an amazingly strong woman.” I bit my lip as I looked into his eyes, they seemed darker than they were before, but maybe that was just the lights. “I have no idea, what you have been through. But I sincerely hope I will get the opportunity to continue to get to know you.” He was moving closer to me now and my breath was catching in my throat. I couldn’t speak as I saw Edward’s eyes flicker from my eyes down to my lips, and I caught myself doing the same. Edward leaned over the table, closing the small gap between us and softly pressed his lips against mine. His kiss was soft and gentle and loving, and I returned his emotions in kind. Too soon he pulled away, a cool hand resting on my neck. I stared into his eyes, the soft amber colour now the darkest I had seen them. “Simply put, Izzie. You amaze me.”

Chapter Text

 

Edwards POV.

 

 

I was in the middle of a hunt when my cell phone chimed loudly. The elk I had been carefully stalking looked up and with a startled expression on its face it bounded off into the brush. I growled angrily at my lost meal, fully intent on telling off whoever had texted me. When I pulled out my phone my anger dissipated when I saw it was Bella. It had been five days since our date, and we hadn’t seen each other since. Well rather, she hadn’t seen me. I had made a point to drop by her cottage to check on her occasionally. We had continued to text frequently and whenever her name appeared on my phone’s screen I was filled with electric excitement .

 

H ey, the Bar is having a Halloween party. I am working that night, but did you wanna stop by? It could be fun.

 

I smiled to myself. Bella wanted to spend more time with me. After our date I wanted nothing more than to spend more time with her. Eventually Alice wore me down, convincing me to let her make the next move and limit my interactions to friendly texts.

 

That’s sounds delightful. Is it a costume party? I quickly responded.

 

There was a few minutes before her reply came through. Yeah, it’s a costume party. What kind of boring Halloween party do you think we’re throwing?

 

I laughed aloud at her sardonic tone. Fantastic, could I pick you up before your shift? It was a shameless attempt to spend any extra time with her, preferably time alone.

 

If you want? I mean I have to go in a bit earlier than usual to put up the decorations. The party doesn’t officially start until 7 and I will be heading in about 6 to set up.

 

I didn’t hesitate to reply, I will pick you up at 5.50 sharp. Its a date.

 

I worried that I had been too eager. It was almost ten minutes before Bella’s reply came, See you then.

 

 

 

H alloween Night

 

A lice had had way too much fun choosing my costume. It was all I could do to talk her out of the more extreme or extravagant ones. This was a small town bar, and I didn’t want to stand out more than I already did. We had settled on Clark Kent, Alice wanted me to go as Superman, but I didn’t feel comfortable in a latex suit. Instead I wore a white button up that was mostly unbuttoned to show a superman insignia shirt underneath. My usually messy hair had been groomed back save for a small twirl at the front, and I had a pair of bulky black frames on the end of my nose. I felt like a complete fool, but Alice assured me I looked good. I didn’t believe her.

 

 

I drove slowly down the drive towards Bella’s cottage and got out of the car. I gingerly knocked on her door, I heard a scuffle before she called out. “ Hey! It’s open, come on in! I will just be a sec!”

 

I thought against it for a moment, but then my desire to be close to her and to be completely enveloped by her intoxicating scent won out. I gingerly opened the door and took a step inside. For the first time I got a complete look at the inside of her cottage, rather than the partial view from outside her window.

 

It was cosy and warm and completely Bella. It seems that even when she didn’t know who she was, she was still the same. Against the wall that had the window I would look into was an eclectic mix of bookcases. Most of them were old and worn and I was worried that they were going to fall down under the weight of the books. I drifted over to them and looked over the titles. All the books seemed older and well loved, and this close to them I could smell the familiar musk of old paper and ink. She had some classic titles, Jane Austen and Virginia Wolfe. I was surprised to see some books that the Bella I had known would have had no interest in. Orwell’s 1984 and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 stuck out to me the most. Bella had always been a lover of romance, of tales of hope and love. The more I looked through her collection the more I realised that the romance genre was in the minority. The book cases were filled with dystopian novels, horrors and thrillers.

 

I looked over to her eclectic lounge furniture and noticed a threadbare copy of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale sitting on the coffee table, a tattered fabric bookmark sticking out from the middle. Such depressing literature.

 

I heard the shuffling of feet before I heard, “Ta-da!” I looked up to see that Bella had appeared at the end of the hallway with her arms out at her sides, “What do you think?” She asked with a large grin on her face.

 

I found myself frozen, completely stunned into silence and I instinctively stopped breathing. She was wearing a white cotton dress that fell just past her knees, it was pulled against her frame by a tight black corset. It wasn’t the way the fabric clung to her body, or her beautiful cleavage heaving from the top of her dress that had me standing there like an imbecile. It was the fact that the white dress was stained with bloody red hand-prints. Bella’s beautiful neck had two pin-point wounds, and blood had dripped down her neck and smeared across her chest. I looked at her face, and I saw blood falling from the corners of her ruby red lips. It was then that I noticed a set of plastic fangs in her joyous grin. Bella had dressed up as a vampire.

 

Oh shit, are you okay? I forgot about your whole blood thing. It’s not real. It’s cornstarch and syrup.” Bella said, coming across the small room to me. Now I had calmed slightly, I allowed myself to breathe. I noticed Bella had made her already pale skin paler, she also wore some dark smudged eye makeup to make her eyes look sunken.

 

I am fine.” I nodded giving her a smile.

 

Oh good.” She smiled up at me before her face turned to a look of shock, “Oh wait! I forgot the best part!” without waiting for a response from me she turned and left down the hall she had appeared from. When she returned I almost lost it again, her once chocolate brown eyes were now covered with blood red contact. “Creepy, right? I ordered them online. I really like Halloween.” She grinned over at me.

 

I heard an inquisitive meow from behind her. “Is that Anthony?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

 

Yeah! I had to put him in a time out, he kept licking the cornstarch off me.” She let loose a laugh that I would almost call a giggle. “Would you like to meet him?”

 

I looked at my watch even though I knew perfectly what the time was, “Maybe another time, I wouldn’t want to make you late.”

 

Alright.” She smiled happily as she grabbed her bag. I hadn’t seen her this happy before, not since we had met in Forks.

 

O nce we were in the car and on our way into town I asked, “Why do you like Halloween so much?”

 

Its the best holiday. Everyone dresses up as something their not. And for once I blend in, instead of stand out.” The smile dropped slightly on the last sentence and I pretended not to notice, “So, Clark Kent, huh?”

 

Oh, Yeah. My sister helped me. She wanted me to go as Superman and I managed to talk her down.” I chuckled.

 

That would have been a sight to see. You know there’s a costume competition, right? Colville may be a small town, but we are oddly competitive when it comes to Halloween costumes.” Bella almost seemed to be bouncing in her seat. I had no idea that she loved Halloween so much, if I had I would have made much more of an effort. It made sense, though. In some sad way I understood. It was a night that she could play pretend. Be something, anything other than what she was. I could empathise with that. After all, I was a monster dressing up as a hero.

 

I pulled to a stop in the small gravel parking lot of Bella’s work. She jumped out of the car before I could manage to make it over to open it for her. She went over to the glass doors and pulled out her keys from her handbag and swiftly unlocked the m. I followed her inside as she yelled into the seemingly empty space, “Hey Ethan, it’s me! You here yet?”

 

I heard someone curse before there was the shuffling of feet and a tall lanky man appeared from behind a door, he was carrying two large boxes. I could see pieces of Halloween decorations peeking out the top. Izzie! You look great! I see the contacts arrived in time.” The tall man, Ethan, greeted. His dark hair was pulled up with gel and his skin was stained green, little plastic bolts stuck out from his neck and stitches were drawn on with marker.

 

Argh, Ethan. You’re Frankenstein every year!” Bella complained as she went over to the man, putting her hands on her hips in a disapproving manner.

 

No, I am Frankenstein’s Monster every year. Besides, I am in the kitchen most of the night so it’s not like it matters.” Ethan responded with a playful grin at Bella as he put the boxes on the ground near the bar. “Whose Clark Kent?”

 

Oh! Ethan, this is Edward. Edward this is Ethan, he’s the cook here. And my friend.” Bella made the introductions smoothly. I moved across the bar so I wasn’t loitering near the door, offering the man a friendly smile.

 

Oh this is Edward huh? The Edward? Edward who makes the best spaghetti Bolognese in the whole world, Edward?” Ethan teased. I watched as Bella glowered at him, a heavy blush rising under her white makeup.

 

You’ve talked about me huh?” I teased along side him, beaming at the thought that Bella mentioned me to others. I was slowly gaining a place in her life.

 

More your cooking than anything. Apparently you’re a better cook than me. Although I don’t believe it.” Ethan sniffed, “Anyway I gotta go finish the prep for tonight, if you need any help give me a holler.” He then disappeared behind a set of double swinging doors, as they swung open I could see they led to a clean industrial looking kitchen.

 

Ignore him. He is a bitter, bitter man.” Bella grumbled adorably.

 

I couldn’t contain myself as I moved closer to her and brought her into a soft hug, pressing my lips against her hair. My throat burned with thirst at her sensational scent. “ You are adorable, Izzie.” I murmured.

 

With her chest pressed against mine I could feel her heartbeat quicken. “ Tonight I am not adorable. Tonight I am a terrifying vampire.” Her murmured words lost whatever weight they had as they fell against my chest, “And if you are not careful I may just suck your blood.” I had to stop my laughter at the absurdity of it all. The woman’s whose blood called to me like no other, was here dressed as a vampire threatening to suck me dry. I briefly wondered if Alice had foreseen any of this, and if so was that the real reason she was so excited for me to go to this event? I was pulled from my thoughts when Bella moved in my arms and I felt the pressure of her plastic fangs against my stone hard throat. I pulled away immediately, before she could break her prop against my iron skin.

 

B ella must have misinterpreted my motions because she looked away from me with a muttered “Sorry,”

 

I gently pulled her back to me, staring into her crimson coloured eyes, wishing that they were their natural brown. “Don’t be, you just startled me is all.” I then quickly gave her a chaste peck on the cheek.

 

She cleared her throat, “Right, well then Mr. Kent. Lets get started.”

 

I did as I was told and opened one of the boxes that Ethan had placed by the bar. “What would you like me to do first?”

 

You can start by putting the fake spider webs up.” Bella replied, waving her hands around the top of the bar and door frames.

 

W e worked in pleasant silence for a time. I dutifully placed the fake webs on the backs of chairs and bar stools, I also helped her hang the plastic bats from the ceiling.

 

When we were finished, the bar had transformed. Each table had a little collection of green and orange pumpkin shaped mason jars that flicked with the fake flames of the LED lights inside, fake bats and spiders hung from the ceiling and orange, yellow and green streamers hung from almost every surface. In the corner nearest to the door sat a plastic fold up table, with a painted cardboard box with a slit cut in the top. Pieces of paper sat next to it with a pen. Bella explained to me it was the voting for best costume.

 

I honestly thought the room looked terrible, tacky and gaudy. I looked to gauge Bella’s reaction and she was gleaming with pride. “ It looks great!” She clapped her hands together as she looked over the room, “I am so glad I bought those little pumpkin lights.”

 

I laughed as I casually put my arm around her shoulders, “It looks very nice.” I agreed.

 

Bella went over and flicked the lock on the door, and flipped the sign around to show they were now open.

 

I sat at the end of the bar, I wanted to be close to Bella but I didn’t want to monopolise her time. I wanted to respect the fact that she was working, and didn’t want to interfere. Over the next hour or so, the bar slowly filled. I was surprised at the turn out, for such a small town it was as if every adult had turned up for the event.

 

By 8 o’clock the bar was filled with people, the music had been turned up a little louder than it usually was and Bella had moved some of the tables to allow her patrons some room to dance. Bella hadn’t been joking when she said that people in this town took their costume competition seriously. Of course, there were a few people who had put in the minimum amount of effort, but others had clearly gone all out. A few people were dressed as characters from popular TV shows and movies, others in more classic costumes.

 

To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention to the hoard of humans around me. The only human I was paying any attention to was Bella. She stayed behind the bar most of the night, making cocktails and pouring beers. Her face was full of life and happiness as she passed drinks to patrons and waitresses. It seemed so at odds to the shy and introverted Bella I had known. This Bella easily made jokes and small talk with everyone who approached her. It warmed me to see, but also made me sad. Would she ever remember who she was before? And if she did, would she loose this new more carefree side of herself?

 

I was pulled out of my musings by a light tap on my shoulder, I turned to see a woman standing next to me. She was dressed as Alice in Wonderland, but some sort of twisted version of it. Her blue and white dress had blood splatter on it and in her hand she held a fake butchers knife. “Hi, I’m Heather. I haven’t seen you around here before.” The blonde woman smiled at me.

 

“Hello, I’m Edward. I’m new in town.” I greeted politely before turning back to watch Bella.

 

“I was wondering if you wanted to buy me a drink? Or maybe dance?” Heather asked,

 

I frowned at her, “No, thank you.”

 

“What? You have a girlfriend or something?” She pouted at me in way that was meant to be attractive. I tuned into her thoughts, What’s this guys problem? He’s hot though, the hot ones are always assholes.

 

“Yes. I do have a girlfriend.” I replied smoothly, trying to be more polite than I was.

 

“Who? Its a small town I probably know her.” I need to know who my competition is,

 

“It’s Izzie,” I said pointing across the bar to Bella who was busy laughing and mixing a cocktail in a shaker.

 

“Really?” Heather asked, I was ready for her mean and vapid thoughts but instead I got Good for her. About time she got some.

 

“Really,” I smiled softly at the girls thoughts.

 

“Okay, well if you change your mind, let me know.” Heather then flounced away with a flip of her hair.

 

A few more hours passed and it was announced that the voting for the costume competition had closed. I kicked myself as I realised I had been so absorbed watching Bella that I hadn’t voted myself. After a moment, one of the waitresses came up to Bella with a slip of paper.

 

“Can I have everyone’s attention!” Bella called out to the bar, somewhere the music was turned down and the chatter of the bar slowly quietened. “I have the winner of this year’s costume competition. In a landslide victory, the winner is…” Bella paused for dramatic effect, “Red-head Clark Kent!” It took me a moment to realise she meant me.

 

Naturally I was confused by the vote, there were much better costumes than mine. Quickly though, I realised by the tone of the thoughts of the women (and a few men) in the room that it had a lot more to do with my being attractive than it did with my costume. Bella came over to me and produced a small metal medallion on the end of a ribbon necklace. She held it out over the bar towards me and I leaned across so she could put it around my neck. I held it in my hand and looked closer at it. On the front was a small engraving of a jack’o’lantern and on the back had Jim’s Bar and Grill Halloween costume competition. 1st place.

 

I smiled over at Bella as she started clapping, everyone else joined in. Quickly the chatter of the bar resumed and the music started back up again. “Congratulations.” Bella grinned at me.

 

“Thank you, it’s truly an honour.” I joked, grinning back at her.

 

Within an hour all the patrons had slowly tickled out into the night. Bella handed each of the waitresses a white envelope from under the bar and walked them out, locking the door behind them and flipping the sign back over to display closed.

 

“Need help packing up?” I spoke up from my spot at the end of the bar,

 

Bella twisted around to face me, a hand fluttering to her chest in surprise. “You’re still here? I didn’t even notice you.” She chuckled to herself.

 

“Sorry, I can leave?” I stood up and Bella quickly came over to me.

 

“No, no I’m glad you are still here. Did you have fun?” Her blood red eyes looked up at me and for a moment I thought about what it would be like if those were actually her eyes, and not the effect of coloured contacts. If my Bella were a vampire, would her memory return to her, or would it be lost forever like Alice? I didn’t want to damn her soul, but I also never wanted to be without her. The Bella I had known had wanted nothing more than to be a vampire. If she had asked me, right now to turn her I don’t think I would be able to deny her. My guilt ached in my chest and made venom tears prick at my eyes at the thought of all the wrongs I had caused her. I would never say no to her ever again. But Bella wouldn’t ask. She couldn’t ask. She had no idea who or what I was. If she somehow regained her memories, would she still want me? Or would she hate me, and run away from me? In all my existence I had never been more confused.

 

“Yes. I had a very nice time.” I replied, keeping my thoughts safely tucked away behind a neutral expression. “Did you need help?” I gestured to the mess of decorations and spilled drinks.

 

“Sure, I mean, if you want. It’s getting late so if you wanna head out that’s cool too. Ethan can give me a ride home.” Bella looked at her shoes and pulled at her fingertips nervously.

 

“Just put me to work, Miss Swan.” I smiled as a blush rose to her cheeks.

 

“You can start pulling the decorations down while I get the mop.”

 

We worked in silence, me putting the decorations away and Bella moping the floor and wiping tables. It was so easy, being with her in the silence of the now empty bar. I willed this time to last an eternity, the two of us alone with an easy air between us.

 

I carried a box of decorations to the storage closet when I heard something that made my dead heart clench in my chest. The sound of a stool clattering to the floor, and then the soft thud of Bella hitting the tiled ground. Within the sound of the impact I heard a sharp and distinct crack.

 

I forced myself to move at a human pace as I ran into the main room and saw Bella on the floor, tears streaming down her face causing her makeup to run in streaks of black and red. “What happened?” I rushed over, kneeling at her side. I had a pretty good idea of what happened.

 

“I was trying to get the last piece of streamer down. I stood on the stool to reach and I fell. I landed on my hip.” Bella manage to gasp out between shaky breaths. It was clear to me that she was hiding how much pain she was really in.

 

“I’m going to call an ambulance.” I pulled out my phone to dial 911.

 

“No, no don’t do that. I’m fine.” Bella tried to get up but when she moved she let out a sharp yelp of pain as more tears fell. If I could cry I would have.

 

“Please, don’t move.” I stopped dialling.

 

“I can’t afford an ambulance.” Bella whispered,

 

“I will cover it. Please let me help you.” I whispered back, my forehead pressing against the top of her head.

 

“What happened?” I hadn’t even noticed Ethan appearing from the kitchen.

 

“Izzie fell off a bar stool. I’m calling an ambulance, I think she needs to go to hospital.” I looked up to answer him.

 

Ethan chuckled, “Walking disaster, aren’t you kid?”

 

“Ethan, don’t.” Pleaded Bella, her mask falling as she started to show just how much pain she was really in.

 

“Alright. Don’t worry. I can finish up here. I will call Old Jim and let him know what happened.” Ethan offered a kind smile and walked back towards the kitchen.

 

“Will you stay with me.” Bella whispered as I put my phone to my ear,

 

“Always.”

Chapter Text

Bella’s (Aka Izzie) POV

 

 

I sat in the back of the ambulance, instantly regretting every life decision that had led me to this point. Mainly asking Edward to stay with me. In the back of the cramped vehicle he sat next to the gurney, holding my hand while I tried to ignore the stinging burn in my arm as the pain relief flooded into my veins. I was sure I looked like a total mess, I knew my tears had ruined my perfectly planed makeup. I didn’t need to look in a mirror to know my face was a mess of black eyeliner and eye-shadow, streaking down my face to mix with the white makeup and fake blood. I had never felt more humiliated, laying like this next to him. He was still a picture of perfection, even when his face was screwed up in worry.

 

I didn’t need to go to the hospital to know it was bad. To know I had fucked up. I had felt it. When I landed heavily on the cold tile, I could feel the crack as something in my hip gave way. The pain that had exploded in my pelvis, and radiated down my legs was easing now. All my pain was easing now. I remembered this feeling: Morphine.

 

A dopey smile pulled at my lips as I let out a slow sigh. “How’s your pain now?” The EMT asked. She was a younger woman, probably about my age, and seemed worried but eager.

 

“Much better.” I murmured softly. I felt a cool hand brush my hair back and I turned to face Edward. “Thanks for staying, I hate hospitals.”

 

“It’s fine, Izzie. Anything you need.” He lent down and softly pressed his lips against my forehead.

 

“It’s probably because I spent the better part of a year being tortured in a hospital.” I mused to myself, “You know that they have to keep scraping at burns as they heal? Something about making sure the skin heals over properly.” It was like I didn’t have any conscious control over my mouth. I was just saying whatever stupid thought came into my head. “I think doctors are just all secretly sociopaths.”

 

“You should rest,” Edward murmured, but I could see an amused smile playing at his lips.

 

“Is any of this real blood?” The EMT asked.

 

“No.” both Edward and I answered at the same time. It wasn’t long before we pulled up into the ambulance bay of the small hospital in Colville.

 

The bay doors opened and I suppressed a pained groan when the gurney jolted out of the ambulance. Edward remained by my side as I was wheeled into the emergency room. There was the sound of various people talking as the EMT handed me off to the hospital. I couldn’t really pay any of them much attention as the morphine continued to make me feel light and airy.

 

“Carlisle.” I heard Edward say.

 

My face scrunched up in confusion, “What’s your dad doing here?” I mumbled,

 

“I called him, he is a very talented doctor.” He bent down to murmur in my ear.

 

“No you didn’t” I argued, I didn’t remember him making any other phone calls other than the one to 911.

 

“Hello Edward, Izzie.” I heard him say, I raised my head of the hard pillow to see him at the end of the gurney, honey blonde hair groomed back and wearing a three piece suit without the jacket. The EMT was still talking to the intake staff.

 

“Hello, your son is a drama queen. He didn’t need to call you for this.” I grumbled as I flopped back.

 

“Well, I had the night off and I didn’t think it would hurt. I have privileges at this hospital, so I thought I could help. Besides, Edward was worried about you.” Carlisle replied, moving to the other side of the gurney levelling a gaze at his son.

 

“As I said, drama queen.” I looked up intently at the ceiling tiles. The morphine that the EMT had given me was starting to ware thin. The sharp burning pain in my hip was returning, pulsating with every breath I took.

 

“Dr. Cullen?” A surprised voice drifted over to me, I risked raising my head to see who else had come over to witness my embarrassment and pain and instantly regretted it. The small movement jolted my pelvis in a way that caused a devastation of pain to shoot through me. My eyes closed as I scrunched my face up in pain. I couldn’t stop the lump in my throat from forming, I struggled to control my breathing as the movements from my pained gasps made it worse. Everything made everything worse. If I allowed myself to cry and gasp and groan, I knew from experience every movement would make it worse. But laying here, trying to force myself to remain calm hurt almost as much.

 

“Could she have some more pain relief?” Edward ask, I forced my eyes open and looked up at him. His eyebrows were furrowed and his dark amber eyes looked worryingly down at me. He was still in his Clark Kent costume. He really was my superman right now.

 

I reached up slowly, trying not to cause too much movement in my pelvis as I did so. I carefully pulled off his black frame glasses from his long nose. Turning them and placing them on my own face I gave him what I hoped was a playful smile, but I think it came across as more as a pained grimace, “I’m not sure Clark Kent has privileges at Colville County Memorial.”

 

“Are you seriously making jokes right now?” He whispered down at me.

 

“You look so worried, I don’t need you to be having a coronary while I am here. Defenceless and surrounded by sociopathic doctors.” I didn’t like him looking so pained. I would do anything to ease his worry, to make him smile and laugh like he had been doing not even an hour ago. I could feel the pain returning more forcefully now, but I didn’t want to upset Edward anymore than he already was.

 

“Oh come now, Isabella. We both know I am not that bad.” The voice from before said again and I didn’t know whether to smile or groan at the familiarity.

 

“Dr. Samantha Sullivan. My nemesis.” I looked through the glass-less frames at her. She looked much like she did the last time I saw her, brown hair pulled into a neat bun, white doctors coat pulled over dark blue scrubs. Out of the many doctors I had been to and become familiar with, Dr Sullivan was by far my favourite. She worked at the hospital, and as such we had many chance to meet during my time living in Colville. I had always been one for stupid accidents, hurting or otherwise maiming myself was a weekly occurrence. Dr Sullivan was nice, and not in that fake ‘I’m a doctor with good bed side manner’ way, she was genuinely nice. And what I liked the most, is that she didn’t bullshit me. She didn’t try and shield me from the entire truth, or only focus on the positive, she spoke with me like an equal, and took time to explain anything that I didn’t fully understand. And after spending over a year in a Seattle hospital being talked down to by doctors, or talked about while I was still in the room as if I was a science fair display, her respect and patience was a god send. On the flip side, she didn’t take any shit from me either, and I knew that I wouldn’t be getting away with anything.

 

“Hello Izzie.” She greeted warmly, “And Dr. Cullen, it’s a nice surprise to see you here. Did someone call in for a consult?” she asked as she looked over the papers that the EMT had filled out.

 

“No, Izzie here is a friend of my son Edward. When Izzie had her accident, Edward called and asked me to come lend a hand.” Carlisle responded smoothly. No. No Edward didn’t call him. Why did he say that? How did he know I was coming here? How had he known anything was happening at all? They lived almost an hour away, he would have had to get in his car the moment I fell from my stool, and broken loads of traffic laws, to be here by the time we arrived in the ambulance.

 

“Does Edward think I’m not good enough to treat Ms. Swan?” Dr Sullivan asked, and I didn’t have to look at her to know that she was smiling mischievously.

 

“Shut up Dr Sullivan. Edward here is my hero. Can’t you see?” I patted his chest with the superman insignia lazily. I gasped when the movement sent a shot of pointed pain through my pelvis. It felt like strands of razor wires had been woven around my bones, and any wrong move would send the cutting edges of the blades further into my marrow.

 

My discomfort didn’t go unnoticed by the three people standing around the gurney. “Do you want to tell me what happened, and then we can see what we can do for your pain?” Dr Sullivan said, pulling out a pen to make her notes.

 

“I stood on the top of a bar-stool to pull down some streamers, and I fell. I landed pretty heavily on my right side, on my hip.” I paused as I looked at Edward cautiously. I didn’t want him to be worried anymore than he already was, but if I was right he would know as soon as the X-rays confirmed it. “I think I felt something crack, something shift maybe? Its like when I dislocated my shoulder, by like a million times more painful.” My right hand fluttered over the outside of my hip were the pain was at it’s worse, I didn’t want to touch it though.

 

“Well, that was a silly thing to do, granted your history with poor co-ordination. I will order an X-ray for your hip, and it says here that the EMTs gave you 2.5 of morphine through the cannula they placed?” she raised an eyebrow at me.

 

“Yeah, it helped for a bit but the pain is getting worse again now.” I wanted to deny I was in any pain at all, I could already see how my admission of pain was making Edward worry. It was as if seeing me in pain was causing his own. I didn’t want to be the source of his pain, but right now I couldn’t bring myself to care. I just wanted the growing pain in my pelvis to stop.

 

“Okay, I will give you another 5. That should kick the pain in the ass, even with your high tolerance.” She winked at me, “The radiologist will be by soon to take you to get an X-ray and I will come back to check in when it’s done. I think you will be more than well cared for in the mean-time.” She gave a Carlisle a playful tap on the shoulder.

 

“Stop flirting with Carlisle,” I mumbled as I felt her push the burning medication through the tube in my arm, “He’s a married man, ya know.” She didn’t respond other than a throaty laugh, I could hear the shuffling of plastic as she disposed of the wrappings from the medication. Then the scraping of metal on metal as she pulled the thin sheeting closed around medical bay.

 

A cool hand covered my own and I turned to look at Edward, “You didn’t call your dad.”

 

“Of course I did.” He murmured down to me, his eyes flickering over to Carlisle.

 

“No. You didn’t. You made one phone call and that was to 911.” I asserted.

 

“Izzie, if I didn’t call Carlisle. How did he know to be here?” Edward brushed his hand over my forehead.

 

I didn’t have an answer to that, of course that’s what he was counting on. My morphine addled brain had a different idea, as my brain to mouth filter disappeared once again. “I don’t know. Maybe he is psychic or something. Some ESP freaky stuff.” I didn’t noticed the strange look the men shared, “Or maybe Edward really is some sort of Clark Kent superhero, and he moved faster than the speed of sound to come tell you something had happened.”

 

“Izzie, you’re being ridiculous.” Edward looked down at me with a serious expression.

 

I laughed lightly and tried to ignore the pain that shot through me at the movement. “You are so serious! If I didn’t know any better I would think you’re trying to hide something.”

 

Our conversation was cut short by the radiologist coming and taking me away for an X-ray. As he wheeled me away I said to him, “Don’t bother. We can ask Clark Kent here to use his X-ray vision.” The radiologist laughed and shook his head.

 

As I was pushed through the swinging doors I caught a glimpse of Edward and Carlisle standing close to each other, having a hushed and serious conversation. I was struck with the strangest sense of Deja-vu I had ever experienced. Something about them standing in the hallway of a hospital, talking in hushed tones with serious expressions was so familiar. It was the same feeling I would get when I heard the sounds of piano music, or when the crystal hanging in my bathroom window would catch the light and throw rainbows around the room. It pulled at something inside of me, that place where the dark void lingered. It pulled at something that felt familiar, safe and intimate. I didn’t have time to linger on these thoughts as I was pushed into the X-ray room. I would have to figure this out later, preferably when I was not giddy on morphine.

Chapter Text

 

Edward’s POV

 

Dislocated. Somehow Bella had managed to dislocate her hip from it’s socket. I wanted to be with her. H olding her hand while they manipulated the bones back into place, but she had made me leave the room. Little did she know that that didn’t mean much, I watched through Dr Sullivan’s eyes as she set the bone with the help of a nurse. I could still hear the nauseating sound of bone against bone, and the pulling of cartilage from where I was standing in the hallway of the ER. I could hear the pained scream that fell out of Bella’s lips when the joint found it’s place. It felt like it was taking forever but eventually I heard Dr. Sullivan say, “Now, I bet that feels a lot better. Yeah?”

 

B ella’s rapid heart beat was slowing now, and she replied “Yeah. That hurt like a son of a bitch, but its already feeling a lot better.”

 

Okay, I want you to stay off your feet for a couple of weeks. And when I say weeks, I mean weeks. Not one week, not a few days, at least two weeks of rest.” Dr Sullivan told Bella sternly. I could tell from the tenor of Sullivan’s thoughts that this was a common issue with Bella, always too quick to discount her own injuries. Rushing back to work, or daily life, ignoring her own pain and the signals her body was throwing at her to rest and slow down. I made a silent vow that this time, Bella would get the rest she needed.

 

Yes Ma'am” Bella replied sarcastically,

 

I mean it, Izzie. An anterior hip dislocation like this wreaks havoc on your ligaments, nerves, and muscles. You’re extremely lucky you didn’t also fracture your acetabulum.”

 

“Fracture my ace-a-what-now?” Mumbled Bella.

 

Your hip socket, Izzie. Where the ball of the hip joint sits.” I could hear the heavy flutter of X-ray film moving, and I could see through Dr. Sullivan’s eyes that she was showing Bella what she was talking about on the X-ray. “All things considered, you are very lucky. But your body needs rest. You need to let the muscles and ligaments around the joint heal. If you’re not careful you may get permanent sciatic nerve damage.”

 

Check my extensive medical history, Dr Sullivan. It’s a little late to be worrying about sciatic nerve damage.” Bella was trying to play off her injuries, and I smiled when I realised Dr Sullivan was not going to take any of Bella’s attitude.

 

God Damn it, Isabella Swan. I don’t want you trying to ‘walk this off’. Now, I want to hear you tell me that you will take at least two weeks off work to allow yourself to heal.” The was a small pause and it sounded like Bella was about to say something but Dr Sullivan cut her off, “Promise me, or I wont sign your discharge papers and I will make sure you stay in this hospital bed.”

 

I think both Bella and I knew that Sullivan couldn’t hold her against her will, but the threat still seemed to do it’s job. “Fine. I solemnly swear that I will not go to work for at least two weeks.” Bella begrudgingly murmured.

 

Good, I will go sign the papers and write you a prescription for some pain relief for when you get home.”

 

I pushed myself off the wall I was leaning against as Dr Sullivan exited the treatment room. Carlisle also came over from the nurses station were he was pretending to read through some paperwork. “ You can go in to see her now. I re-set her hip, and she should be fine. I am going to sign her release papers now. Will one of you be taking her home?” She looked between Carlisle and myself.

 

I ran here, I don’t have a car. Carlisle thought in my direction.

 

I will be taking her home and looking after her.” I responded,

 

Good, she is a stubborn and bull-headed girl. I don’t envy you trying to care for her.” Dr Sullivan gave me a playful smile. Her thoughts were kind and caring, she cared for Bella that much was obvious. She also worried about her, feeling that she pushed herself too much and too far. That Bella was too hard on herself, and wished that she had taken the offer of a referral to a local therapist.

 

O nce Dr Sullivan was out of ear shot I turned to Carlisle, “I left my car at Bella’s work. It’s parked in the parking lot, could you go get it and bring it around so I can take Bella home?” I pulled out my keys from my pocket and handed them over.

 

Carlisle took my keys, and then took my hand in both of his. His bright golden eyes shimmered with concern, both for me and for Bella. “ Of course, son.” He murmured.

 

Don’t worry.” I tried to soothe him, “I’m going to look after her.”

 

He nodded his agreement, but couldn’t hide his worried thoughts as he exited the building and broke into a sprint once he was out of sight. I slowly eased open the sliding door and entered the small treatment room.

 

Hello Izzie, how are you feeling?” I said softly as I went to her bed side.

 

I am feeling sore and tired and ready to go home.” She grumbled back at me. “Also ready to wash off all this damn fake blood.” She gestured helplessly at her outfit.

 

As soon as the paperwork is finished, I will take you home.” I promised.

 

Trying to take advantage of me in my weakened state, Mr Cullen?” Bella smirked at me with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Over the past couple weeks I had started to get used to her strange sense of humour, she often made jokes about things that others would avoid talking about all together.

 

I wouldn’t dream of it,” I bent down and brushed my lips against her forehead, I heard her breathing hitch and her heartbeat increase and I smiled at the reaction as I pulled away. “I just want to look after you.

 

Why, because I’m your girlfriend?” She raised an eyebrow at me playfully. I must have shown my shock and confusion on my face because she continued, “Heather mentioned that you told her I was your girlfriend. I didn’t realise we were using labels like that already.” she shifted uncomfortably in her bed.

 

We don’t have to. Although I must admit I would like to.” I silently kicked myself, this was exactly what Alice had warned me against. Moving too quickly would spook her, cause her to bolt like a wild stallion. I had to take things slow, and at her pace, not mine.

 

I’ve never had a boyfriend before.” Bella mumbled,

 

Is that right?” I lowered myself into the hard plastic chair that was next to her bed,

 

Well, sort of? After my accident some of my dad’s friends mentioned I had dated this guy in high-school.” I swallowed the lump in my throat at this information. Was this it? “Yeah some guy called Mick, or Mike? I don’t know. Obviously it wasn’t serious because it’s not like he visited me in hospital.” Bella was refusing to look me in the eye. She had dated Newton after I left? I was thankful she didn’t remember that.

 

Well, I would be honoured to be your boyfriend, Isabella Swan.” I reached over and took her hand, I saw a blush rise up under her smeared makeup.

 

You know you speak like a Jane Austin novel, right?” She laughed lightly obviously trying to dismiss her embarrassment.

 

Yes, and you swear like a sailor. So I think we would make the perfect couple.” I knew I was pushing it, she was clearly trying to lighten the mood and change the subject. I wasn’t going to let her, not this time. I wanted an answer, I needed an answer. I needed her to be mine again.

 

I guess so. It feels strange, being someones girlfriend.” She said it quietly, almost murmured under her breath.

 

I smiled widely, and was about to lean over and kiss her when the sliding door opened. My head shot up and the nurse who entered seemed shocked to find me in here. “Sorry, I’m just here to remove the cannula.” she said, gesturing to the port in Bella’s arm.

 

Yessss.” Bella hissed, throwing her head back into the hard hospital pillow. “Thank you.” She held her arm out as the nurse came closer.

 

M y throat burned in anticipation. I knew what to expect when a cannula was removed, a few drops of blood at least. I halted my breathing as I watched the nurse pull out the cannula, I saw the small bead of blood form before she placed a cotton ball over top. Even though I didn’t allow the tantalising scent fill my senses, I knew from my perfect recall exactly what it smelt like. My throat exploded in flames, and as I tried to swallow the pain away it was if I was swallowing acid. Bella’s hand replaced the nurses, holding the cotton in place and the nurse opened a band-aid.

 

S nap the nurses neck and drink the girl dry . Growled the monster inside. I ignored the animalistic impulse and turned to look from Bella’s arm to Bella’s face. She was looking at me, her tired eyes grateful for my presence. A soft smile pulled at her lips, “Thanks for staying,” She whispered sleepily. The burn in my throat remained, but the monster who was snarling just a moment ago disappeared. I would never harm her. My chest bloomed with love and adoration for the beautiful woman next to me. So breathtakingly fragile, and amazingly brave. She wanted me here, wanted me close and I would never betray her. Not again.

 

I leaned down to her hand, taking a slow deep breath. The floral scent of her blood still hung in the air, and the pain in my throat was almost unbearable, but for once the monster remained silen t . “I will do anything for you.” I vowed, placing a small kiss on her hand.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s (aka Izzie’s) POV

 

 

I was so sure that I had experienced the worst humiliation that life had to offer. I had spent almost a year stuck in a hospital bed with no memory of who I was. Being poked and prodded and my skin torn off as it healed. I had had more strangers see me naked and vulnerable than I ever thought possible. I had thought that after all that, I was now impervious to feeling embarrassed by anything. That those experiences had left me with a hardened shell of indifference when it came to people seeing and touching my body.

 

I had never been more fucking wrong in my life.

 

All of that was nothing in comparison to the embarrassment I felt as Edward carried me in his arms from his car to my front door, bridal style. I could feel the fire of my blush on my cheeks, and I was sure Edward could feel it too. Since my head was balanced against his chest. My heart was pounding in my ears, and it bothered me that Edward wasn’t as affected by our closeness as I was. His breathing was even, and his heartbeat was so calm I couldn’t even hear it with my head against his chest. I had tried to convince him to let me walk, the hospital had given me crutches for that exact reason. He wouldn’t have it though. Edward was a stubborn man, and I was too tired to fight him on it. So eventually I relented and allowed him to pull me up out of the car and carry me inside. I fumbled with my purse that was hanging from my arms, and eventually fished out the keys. I unlocked the door and Edward carried me inside.

 

Where would you like to go?” He breathed against the top of my head and I was over-washed with the alluring scent of his breath.

 

I t took me longer than I would have liked to be able to formulate a response. A mixture of my own exhaustion, and the drugs from the hospital still floating in my veins mixed with Edward’s bewildering scent had rendered me mute. “ I-I don’t know.” I eventually muttered out.

 

A curious meow from my bedroom caught my attention, snapping me out of my stupor. “ Anthony! Oh my poor boy must be so hungry!” I was filled with remorse. With everything that had happened, I had forgotten my little cat. He was such a small and defenceless creature who relied on me, and I had forgotten him. However, I was still covered in fake blood, and smelt like a hospital ER. I desperately wanted a bath. “ Would it be too much to ask for you to run me a bath, and then feed Anthony for me? I know it’s late and you’re probably as tired as I am, so it’s cool if you wanna just head home.” I rambled on as Edward carried me across the small main room of my cottage and down the hall.

 

I am fine, Izzie. I am more than happy to help you any way you need.” He spoke softly.

 

Bathroom’s here.” I pointed to the door. Edward effortlessly opened the door and sat me down on the closed toilet seat. “Could you pass me the container for these contacts? I am seriously getting sick of them.” I pointed to the small plastic container on the counter near the sink. Edward passed it over as he started to draw me a bath. Steam slowly filled the small space as the tub filled. I took out the contacts and pressed closed the container.

 

Do you, uh need help?” Edward asked and I could have sworn he was embarrassed as he gestured to my clothing.

 

I laughed at his bashfulness, “No, I should be fine. Anthony’s in my bedroom, and his food is in the cabinet above the sink.”

 

Edward nodded mutely and made his escape, softly closing the bathroom door behind him. Who would have thought that Edward Cullen would become embarrassed so easily at the thought of helping me into a bath? Over the years I had had so many strangers help me clean myself, first with sponge baths when I was stuck in bed, and then helping me bathe in a shower when I was strong enough to stand. The thought of Edward seeing me naked was only slightly worse than this. My naked body had long since lost it’s sense of sacredness. Other girls guarded their bodies, only allowing their closest lovers to see them. My body had been seen by so many others, and was so broken and scarred. I was more worried about him being horrified at the sight and leaving than I was embarrassed at the thought of him looking over my naked form.

 

I had managed to manoeuvre myself out of my Halloween costume with limited issues, and I slowly eased myself down into the warm bath. I hissed at the pain in my hip at the movement, but the hot water slowly eased the tension from my muscles. I heard Edward moving around my small home, and then I heard a startling hiss from Anthony. That was strange, Anthony was a sweetheart. I had never seen him react negatively to anyone before. I heard the tell tale sounds of his little padded paws racing through the house, and then the sound of some books hitting the ground. No doubt he had taken up residence in his favourite perch, the very top of my book shelf.

 

Is everything okay?” I hollered out from my place in the tub.

 

Yes. Everything is okay. Anthony and I are just becoming acquainted.” Edward’s amused voice called back.

 

I laughed to myself, and I eventually heard the plod of Anthony jumping down from his perch. Edward must have gotten some food out. Anthony was a classic man, the way to his heart was through his stomach.

 

I took my time, scrubbing away the makeup and fake blood. It didn’t take long before the water was discoloured and I was clean. I positioned my hands on either side of the tub and tried to pull myself out of the murky waters. My hip screamed in protest, the weight I was putting on it was too much. I changed positions, trying to put more weight on my arms than my hip but it was no use. I was stuck.

 

Well fuck me.” I muttered to myself. I looked helplessly around the room for anything that I could use to pull myself free of my soapy prison. Nothing. “Fuuuuuck” I groaned as I tried to find the resolve to call out to Edward for help. After a moment of feeling sorry for myself I managed it, “Edward? Are you there?” I called out softly, half hoping he wouldn’t hear me so I would be forced to McGyver my way out of the tub using towels and an elaborate pulley system devised from hair ties.

 

Yes? Are you okay?” Came a soft reply from behind the closed door.

 

I huffed, “I’m stuck. I can’t get myself out of the tub. Do you think you could help me?”

 

Slowly the door creaked open a crack, and I could see Edward’s shadow appear on the tile of the room, “Are you sure?” I still couldn’t see him, he was keeping his distance.

 

Yeah, I am totally fucked right now. But if it makes you uncomfortable or something I am sure I could manage it.” I lied. I knew I couldn’t. Or if I somehow did manage to pull myself free that it would hurt like a son of a bitch and I would pay for it later. As much as I hated to admit it, I needed his help right now.

 

Okay, as long as you’re sure.” He slowly entered the room, being very careful to avert his eyes from my naked form.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh, “Geez, Edward. Such a puritan. Who would have thought.” I was trying to lighten the mood, a futile attempt it would seem as he didn’t offer a reply as he came closer to the bath. H is eyes were trained carefully on the white tiled floor, as if they held the secrets to life and the universe in their stained grout. “ Do you think you could just put your arms under my armpits, and pull me up? I should be able to step out once I am standing.” I recalled doing this exact same thing with orderlies and nurses during my time in hospital. It had been so simple and clinical then. Sure it was embarrassing at first, but it hadn’t taken long to get over that. It felt different with Edward. Even though it was the exact same situation, the same movements, it somehow felt more intimate. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a wave of shyness and embarrassment. A heavy blush rose to my now clean face, and my heart beat quickened.

 

W hat the actual hell was I thinking? Asking him to do this? Asking Edward to put his hands on my naked body? He wasn’t a nurse, or an orderly. He was the actual reincarnation of Michelangelo’s David. Edward’s perfection was mind numbing.

 

Of course, Izzie.” Came Edward cool reply. Of course he wouldn’t be as bothered by this as I was. My body wasn’t much to look at. Burn scars littered my arms, and a long vertical scar covered my abdomen. If anything was going to make Edward realise just how monstrous I was, it was this. Surely, after tonight he would politely break things off with me. Maybe if I was lucky, he would offer his friendship. My heart started to break at the thought. Naturally I would take anything I could get, a friendship with the demigod that was Edward Cullen would be better than not knowing him at all. But it wouldn’t feel like enough.

 

When had this happened? When had I fallen so completely for a man who was still virtually a stranger to me? I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure I cared. I felt a connection to him, one that I couldn’t explain. I wanted to know him, know everything about him and become his life. Just being near me, made me feel like I knew myself better than I had in years. His presence was a shining light that chased away the shadows of the void that plagued my amnesia riddled mind.

 

S lowly Edward bent down, scooping his strong arms under mine. I noticed he had his eyes closed. I hoped he was doing it for my modesty, although it was much more likely he just couldn’t stand the sight of me. Slowly he eased me up out of the water, and the cool air of the bathroom nipped at my skin. Once I was standing, he held me steady as I stepped out of the tub. I reached for my towel and wrapped to protectively around my body.

 

Are you alright,” He looked at me now. His amber eyes were dark in the dim light of the bathroom.

 

Your eyes look different.” I murmured, my hand drifted to his face to caress the skin around his eyes. “They were lighter before.”

 

Do you need help getting dressed?” He asked. I knew what he was doing, he was avoiding my comment. Changing the subject. He thought he was being clever, but he couldn’t get away with that trick. I had pulled it myself so many times over the years that I could sense it a mile away.

 

Uh, no I should be alright. I will get dressed in my room.” I said, choosing to bring it up at another time. I was too tired now, and too sore to get in to it with him.

 

Alright.” He looped his arm under mine and around my back, forcing me to put most of my weight against him as he helped me limp into my room.

 

Is Anthony okay?” I asked, remembering his commotion I had heard before.

 

E dward’s chuckle vibrated against me, “Yes, he is fine. He was a little shocked to see me I think. But he eventually came around when I opened him some food.”

 

I sighed, “That sounds like him.”

 

With Edward’s assistance I pulled out some pyjamas and sat on the bed, I gave Edward a look raising an eyebrow in question. He quickly understood my silent question and swiftly left the room. I slowly pulled the clothes on, wincing as my muscles protested the movements. “ I’m decent.” I called out. Edward re-entered the room, quickly followed by Anthony who barrelled passed him and launched himself onto the bed beside me. “ Oh hello my sweet little man.” I cooed to him as I scratched under his little chin.

 

Do you need anything else?” Edward asked, smiling at me from the doorway.

 

Oh, uh no. Thank you for everything. I guess you will be going home now?” I didn’t want him to leave, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to stay. He had already done so much for me. The thought of asking him for more worried me. I wasn’t sure how I would respond if he refused to stay, but I knew that the hurt wasn’t worth the risk.

 

If that’s what you would prefer. However I was hoping that you would permit me to stay the night. To watch over you.” Edward spoke so smoothly and formally.

 

H is offer shocked me and I looked down, focusing intently on petting Anthony. I let his gentle purring calm me before I responded. “That’s fine I guess.” Would he want to share my bed? Again, I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to risk the rejection. I was in no shape for any sort of physical intimacy, but I still liked the thought of sleeping next to him.

 

Well, I will make myself comfortable on your sofa. Just call out if you need me.” He floated over to were I sat on the side of my bed, and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead. I wanted to stand up, and to pull him closer and kiss him properly. My body had other ideas, not only was I now in a significant amount of pain at my recent movements but I was thoroughly exhausted. I watched as he left my bedroom, closing the door but leaving it open just slightly. I listened as he moved down the short hallway, and the light from the living room that was casting shadows through the crack in the door disappeared as he flicked off the light.

 

Well, come on Anthony. Time for bed.” I pulled back the covers and eased myself into bed, pulling my cat close to my chest. I listened to his little heart beat and the vibrations of his purring and allowed the soft sounds to lull me to sleep.

 

 

B lurs of green. The metallic smell of blood. Shattered glass falling around me in a cascade of tiny diamonds. The world rotated, falling over itself in a never ending symphony of images. Sky, trees, ground all blurred together. Finally it stopped, pain surged through my body. Fire. Red flames flickered around me. I looked around, unable to see through the waterfall of blood in my eyes. There was a man next to me. The stranger who was my father. He was looking wildly around, his hands clawing at the seat-belt that held him suspended against gravity. A clawed hand shot through the shattered window. It ripped the familiar stranger away from me. I reached out, wanting to know him. Wanting to ask him questions that I didn’t have the answers for. Who are you? Who am I? Please. Please don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please stay.

 

Dad.

 

Blood covered hands and eyes the colour of rust.

 

Q uestions. Questions I couldn’t hear over the ringing in my ears. Questions that even if I had heard, I was sure I would have no answer. Who am I? Where was I?

 

E dward. I needed Edward. He would help me, he would make it better.

 

T he smell of rain against the mossy forest floor. Death. Surely this was death. Fire burned my skin, and the smell of gasoline replaced the fresh smell of the mossy woods. Edward. Where was Edward?

 

I shot up with a pained scream cascading out of my mouth. Anthony let his unhappiness be heard at being woken up. He let out a grumbling meow before settling down next to me, tucking his pink nose under his tail. Suddenly my bedroom door shot open, slamming against the wall with such force that the door knob left a hole in the drywall. Edward stood there with a wild expression on his face. He had changed out from his outfit into a loose t-shirt and long sweat pants.

 

I forced my panicked pants to slow, and managed to take a single deep breath before asking. “Where did you get the clothes?”

 

Edward released a breath he had been holding in a n incredulous laugh, “What?”

 

You changed clothes.” I gestured up and down his figure.

 

From my gym bag I keep in the car.” He answered quickly, coming across the room and sitting next to me on the bed. The movement made Anthony look up, he let out another grumbling meow at the disturbance but quickly returned to his imitation of a cat croissant. “Are you alright? I heard you screaming?”

 

Sorry about that,” I looked at him apologetically, “I get night terrors sometimes.” the excuse was weak on my lips. They were so much more than that, but I wasn’t about to get into it with him. Not now anyway.

 

You were yelling my name.” He murmured, moving closer to me.

 

I cleared my throat, “Well, that’s embarrassing.” I had that dream a lot over the years. Terrible nightmares of the crash that took my dad’s life and my memories. That one had been different though . All I had wanted was Edward. I didn’t want to admit this weakness to him. I didn’t want him to know just how much he already meant to me, how much I wanted him around. When he had agreed to stay with me at the hospital, it had given me a feeling of peace and security I had never felt before.

 

And I would be damned if I would ever admit it to anyone, let alone him.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s (aka Izzie) POV

 

 

I woke up the next morning with a burning ache in my hip. I groaned as I shifted under the covers trying to find a less painful position. A light knock on my bedroom door caught my attention and I turned my head to see Edward at the door.

 

Good morning, I heard you moving around.” He said as he slowly entered the room. I just grunted in response, too tired and sore to be bothered with pleasantries. “Here.” He came over and placed a glass of water on my bedside table along with the little orange bottle of pain killers from the hospital, “You should take a couple of these. Also, put this on your hip. The heat will help.” He said handing me a flexible heat-pack. I forced myself upright on my elbows and took a two of the pills, swallowing them down without the water.

 

I reached and took the heat-pack from him, squishing the warm gel filled packet between my fingers. “Where did this come from?” I asked as I positioned it on my sore muscles, the heat instantly started to seep into my body and ease the aching pain.

 

My sister Alice dropped by earlier this morning. She thought you might find it useful.” Edward sat gingerly down on the side of my bed,

 

What time is it?” I asked,

 

“Almost 11, I thought it would be better to let you sleep.”

 

Where’s Anthony?” I asked, looking around the room. It was mid morning, usually he would be complaining at me for food by now.

 

Don’t worry. I fed him and then when he scratched at the door I let him outside.” Edward tried to soothe me.

 

You did what?” I snipped, trying to get up and out of bed. The pain in my hip stopped me short, and I couldn’t stop myself from falling back against the headboard.

 

Is something wrong?” Edward’s voice was now worried,

 

I have had some sort of critter around my house recently. Anthony has been going nuts. I didn’t want him going outside by himself until I catch it. Or he might-” I was cut off by the sounds of slapping metal and a hissing cat. I sighed and closed my eyes in frustration, “He might get himself stuck in the raccoon trap.”

 

I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.” Edward’s hands fluttered to his hair and pulled through it worryingly.

 

It’s fine. I guess.” I looked around the room helplessly for my crutches, I spotted them on the other side of the room. “Could you pass them over here, please?” I asked gesturing at them.

 

Why? What do you need?” He moved across the room to fetch them.

 

I need to go free my cat who apparently has less brain-cells than a raccoon.” I grumbled as I pulled off the warm blankets and grabbed the crutches from Edward.

 

You stay here, I will go fetch him.” Edward ordered and quickly breezed out the room.

 

I let out a startled breath and pulled myself up onto the crutches, my hip complained at the movement but it quickly settled down. By the time I had managed to hobble my way down the short hallway, Edward was already coming back in through the front door. I couldn’t help but laugh at the image in front of me. Edward held out the long rectangular raccoon trap at arms length, and inside the wire mesh cage was a thoroughly annoyed Anthony. His ears were flat back against his head, and his little yellow eyes were almost black with his enlarged pupils. His tail had puffed up to nearly twice its usual size. The funniest thing though, I wasn’t sure who was more uncomfortable, my cat or Edward.

 

E dward very carefully, and very slowly lowered the cage to the ground and lifted the metal flap. Anthony took off like a bat out of hell and ran at his top speed towards my bedroom, no doubt to hide under my bed.

 

I was still laughing when Edward came over to me, “I’m very sorry.” He murmured down at me. His soft tone and serious expression quietened my laughter and I felt a heavy blush colour my cheeks.

 

Edward, it’s no big deal. At least Anthony didn’t get into a fight with whatever critter is out there.” I smiled reassuringly at him.

 

Okay, well you sit down and I will make you some breakfast.” He bent down gently and gave me a quick kiss on my forehead.

 

I felt my breath hitch in my throat and my legs felt like they had turned to jelly. “ Uh sure.” I managed to stutter out. I gingerly lowered myself down onto one of the chairs around my small dining table. Edward briskly walked down the hall and quickly returned with the heat pack, he held it out to me between two fingers, as if he was worried it would burn him. I smiled my thanks and took it, placing it on my sore hip. I let out a sigh of relief as the warmth did it’s job of soothing my aches.

 

I watched Edward move about my tiny kitchen with practised grace, it was like he already knew where everything was kept. I watched as he pulled out a carton of eggs from my fridge and my eyebrows scrunched up in confusion. “I didn’t have eggs.” I suddenly said.

 

What?” Edward said as he cracked eggs into a mixing bowl.

 

I said, I didn’t have eggs in my fridge. Where did they come from?”

 

My sister, Alice. I told you she dropped by, she dropped off some groceries and other niceties for you, and a few days worth of clothes for me.” Edward replied easily as he continued his work.

 

Clothes for you?” I squeaked out.

 

T hat made Edward stop, he turned around to face me, leaning against the kitchen counter. “I assumed I would stay with you for a couple of days, just until you are feeling better.” He said carefully, gauging my reaction to his news.

 

I was delighted by his news. Usually I didn’t like people fawning over me, or trying to take care of me. I had had enough of that during my long hospital stay. Somehow it felt different coming from Edward. I was more that happy to have him around, taking care of me. My silence seemed to bother Edward and he continued “If that’s alright with you, if it’s not I understand.”

 

No!” I shocked both of us by blurting out, another blush rose to my cheeks. “I mean, no it’s alright. I would really like it if you could stay.” I gave a shy smile as I looked down at my lap.

 

A n amused smile broke out on his face and he gave a soft chuckle, he turned back to the counter and continued his work making me breakfast.

 

I started to stand again, and was shocked to find Edward immediately next me. “And where do you think you’re going?” He smirked down at me.

 

I need to go grab my cell phone, I need to call Old Jim.” I looked up at him confused.

 

Sit. I will go fetch it for you.” Before I could answer, he had disappeared down the hall and returned again with my cellphone in hand.

 

Thanks.” I smiled at him as I found Jim’s number. Jim was the owner of the bar, but he was getting on in years and I hadn’t seen him in person since I had my interview a few years back. He was a cantankerous old man, and if you dared to suggest he was retired he would bite your head off in an instant.

 

The phone rang a couple of times before I heard the coarse voice answer, “What?”

 

I laughed, “Hello to you too, Jim. Did Ethan call you and fill you in?” I asked as I eyed Edward. It seemed like he was making me some sort of omelette.

 

What? You mean how you’re a walking disaster.” Jim responded with a raspy laugh that quickly turned into a heavy cough.

 

I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, that. The doc says I need to take two weeks off.” I couldn’t help but smile at the old coot.

 

I figured as much. You still right to do the books and stuff?” He asked as he fell into another coughing fit.

 

Yeah, I can still do the books and schedules. Have Ethan drop the work laptop and books off after work tonight. I will also need the daily takes from the tills.” I smiled up at Edward as he placed a plate of food in front of me. I mouthed thank you at him. The food looked amazing, a delicious looking omelette with all sorts of vegetables folded into it.

 

Call him yourself, I’m busy.” Jim snapped before hanging up the phone unceremoniously.

 

I chucked to myself and placed my phone down on the table. “Wow, this looks amazing. Thank you.” I smiled up at Edward.

 

Do you want anything to drink? Tea? Coffee?” He asked,

 

Coffee would be amazing. Black.” I smiled as I dug into my food. “The service here is great. 10 stars.” I smirked at him.

 

Do you have a coffee pot?” He asked looking around the kitchen.

 

French press.” I pointed to the cupboard it was kept in. “Coffee is in the pantry. Do you know how to use a French press?” I raised an eyebrow as I continued to eat.

 

I’m sure I can figure it out.” He winked at me.

 

Do you want some of this?” I asked gesturing to the half eaten omelette. “It’s really good.”

 

Oh no thank you, Izzie. I already ate.” Edward replied as he started to fill the French press with coffee.

 

Use hot but not boiling water. Or you will burn the beans.” I warned as I quickly finished off my food.

 

You take your coffee very seriously.” Edward jested.

 

Oh of course. I have to, what with my terrible sleep patterns.” I laughed. “Coffee is my life blood, Edward. Life without coffee, wouldn’t be life at all. More like a sickly half life.” He chuckled at my dramatics but listened to my instructions. He waited until the water in the kettle had stopped bubbling and waited for it to cool slightly before pouring it into the press.

 

I heard the padding of little toe beans against the wood floor and looked over to see Anthony coming down the hall. When he caught my eye a happy trilling noise escaped his mouth and he plodded over to me and launched himself onto my lap. I kissed the top of his soft little head and brought my arms around him. “Hello, my sweet little man.” I cooed.

 

You really love your cat.” Edward noted as he placed an empty cup in front of me and slowly poured the black coffee into it.

 

Of course I do.” I answered in the same cooing voice as I scratched under Anthony’s chin. “No thoughts. Just vibes.” I nuzzled my nose into the fluff of his neck.

 

What?” Snickered Edward, an amused twinkle in his eyes as he brought his hand to his mouth to stifle his laughter.

 

No thoughts. Just vibes.” I repeated seriously, looking at Edwards shaking form as he continued to fight against his laughter. “He doesn’t have any serious thoughts, he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. But he always gives off the best vibes. He’s friendly and loving and gives the best cuddles.” I gave Anthony a quick little squeeze before he leaped off my lap.

 

I took a sip of my coffee as I watched Anthony gingery approach Edward. I could see his little nose twitch as he smelt Edward. His ears were flat, but not in an aggressive way, he seemed more curious than anything. I looked at Edward, he stayed perfectly still, it didn’t even look like he was breathing. Slowly, after a minute or so, Anthony approached Edward and rubbed himself over his legs. I smiled, “He likes you.” I declared.

 

E dward seemed to relax back against his chair. “Well, that’s a relief.” He smiled crookedly at me.

 

Oh yes. His approval is very important.” I nodded seriously, but my playful smile gave me away. “If he didn’t like you, I would have to ask you to leave.” I joked. I knew the truth though, nothing Edward could do would ever make me ask him to leave. I never wanted to be without him again. I was sure then, that even though we barely knew each other. That I was deeply in love with Edward Cullen.

Chapter Text

 

 

Bella’s (Izzie’s) POV

 

 

Ever since I was released from the hospital after the crash that took my father’s live and stole my memories, I had never minded being alone. In fact I preferred it. Being in the company of others felt strained and awkward, I felt the need to fill silences with stilted conversations. Its the reason I had used the small amount of money I had to buy this tiny cottage on a slip of land far away from anyone else. I didn’t want to have to wake up each morning and smile politely at my neighbours. It was just me and Anthony, alone out here with the odd raccoon or opossum.

 

And that’s how we liked it.

 

Edward Cullen didn’t seem to count. He was unlike anyone I had ever met and being around him felt as easy as breathing.

 

A fter finishing off the coffee he had made for me, he continued to fuss over me like a worried mother hen. I had refused to go back to bed, so instead he had piled pillows, blankets, and warmed heat-packs in a strange ne s t on my sofa. That’s where I was, my hips raised slightly as I lounged back. I was trying to finish The Handmaid’s Tale , but I kept finding myself distracted by Edward.

 

E dward was sitting on the old second hand Everette chair that I had picked up at a local yard sale. It was a hideous thing, truly, but I loved it. It’s fabric was old and faded, the once colourful flowers now dulled with age. On one arm rest was a rough square of blue fabric, my attempt to patch up a large tear that Anthony had caused. Edward made it look regal. He lounged back in it casually, a book open in one hand the other slowly stroking the fur on Anthony’s head.

 

W hen Anthony had launched himself onto Edward’s lap, Edward smiled so brightly his eyes glittered with surprise and happiness. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t about him. The Everette was Anthony’s chair, and the fact that it was currently occupied wasn’t going to stop him from sitting there.

 

I was pulled out of my musings by a knock at the door, I grunted as I moved to get up off the sofa-nest but Edward shot me a look. “Don’t even think about it,” He warned in a teasing tone.

 

I didn’t have it in me to fight him so I slumped back. I figured it would just be Ethan dropping off the books and work lap-top so I could still write pay-slips and organise shifts while I was laid up.

 

E dward gingerly lifted Anthony off his lap, placing him on the chair carefully before heading to the door. I smiled as I watched my cat turn in a small circle, little paws kneading the cushion before settling back down to nap.

 

I heard the door open, and a startled “Oh! Hello,”

 

M y eyebrows furrowed in confusion and I craned my neck to see behind the sofa. I bit back a wince at the movement. At the door was not Ethan, but rather his wife Jackie. Always an odd couple, Jackie was as short as Ethan was tall. “ Hey Jackie!” I called out,

 

H er large brown eyes met mine, her shocked face morphing into a small smile. A pitying smile. I forced myself to wrangle my face into a polite smile in return. “ Izzie! Ethan told me what happened,” She eyed Edward warily, as if he was a dangerous unknown element, and moved around him to enter my small cottage. “ So I thought I would come over and drop off some food, and your work things.”

 

I didn’t like the mistrustful looks she was shooting Edward’s way. “ Edward, this is Jackie, Ethan’s better half. Jackie this is Edward he’s my…” I paused unsure of what term I should use. I knew he had called me his girlfriend at the Halloween party, but I didn’t want to be the one to say it now.

 

Boyfriend.” Edward supplied with a kind smile, “It’s very nice to meet you,”

 

J ackie’s lips pursed as she eyed Edward, I guess she eventually determined he wasn’t a threat and she turned to me with a smile. I hadn’t spent a lot of time with Jackie, I really didn’t spend a lot of time with anyone, b ut both her and Ethan were as close to friends as I could get. Jackie was nice enough, she was smart and kind, but she also had no control over her face. She wore her heart of her sleeve, so it was painfully obvious that she saw me as a little bird with a broken wing. It was infuriating.

 

That Tupperware better have your pasta bake in it,” I kept the forced smile on myself, as frustrating as her pity was I knew it came from a good place.

 

J ackie let out a small laugh, “Sure is, I’ll put it in the fridge.” She said as she moved towards the little kitchen. She moved a few things around and placed the container in the fridge before moving over to my place on the sofa. She had a worn satchel slung over her shoulder, and she took it off as she approached, she placed it on my coffee table with a dull thud. “ You really should have just let Ethan or Old Jim deal with the books, Izzie. You should be resting.” She frowned at m e.

 

I couldn’t help but shake my head and give a soft chuckle, Jackie and Ethan were only a handful of years older than me but they still treated me like a little kid sometimes. “ If I let your husband do the books, we would all be arrested for tax-fraud. Right after the government mandated audit.” I reached for the bag and clenched my teeth at the sharp pain that shot through me, it was definitely time for more pain meds. “ Face it, Jackie. You’re hubby’s a great cook, but he’s terrible at math.”

 

J ackie rolled her eyes at me, “Yeah, you’re right. Are you alright here? I’ve got to head out, but I can stay if you need me to?” She offered with another wary glance in Edward’s direction.

 

No, I’m good. I’ve got Edward here.” I smiled warmly over at him, “Thanks for the food.”

 

J ackie nodded and bent down to give me a soft hug, I returned it gently. “ Okay, well you just call me or Ethan if you need anything.” she said, a clear warning in her voice that told me that if she found out I hadn’t there would be consequences.

 

I’m fine.” I stressed,

 

J ackie headed back out the front door, and Edward closed it behind her. He looked over at me and smiled crookedly, “ That was kind of her,” Edward said while gesturing to the fridge, “To bring you some food.”

 

I nodded even though I didn’t totally agree, I didn’t feel like getting into the nuances of my relationship with Ethan’s wife. “ Could you please grab my pain meds from my room?” I asked.

 

E dward nodded seriously and rushed down the short hallway, coming back with the little orange pill bottle. I reached out for it but he ignored me as he opened it and tapped the bottle until a couple of pills fell into his palm. He then handed them to me, along with the glass of water that was sitting on the coffee table.

 

I couldn’t help the small surge of irritation at his actions. My mind unwillingly drew parallels to the grouchy nurses that had stood by my bedside to make sure I took my meds. With hindsight I knew their wary vigilance was my own fault, after I had tongued more than one dose of my sedatives in an attempt to end my own life I should have been grateful that I hadn’t been committed to the psych ward. Still, the way Edward hovered as he carefully eyed the pills that now sat in my hand was aggravating.

 

M y eyes narrowed at him as I chucked the pills in my mouth, swallowing them down with a small sip of water without breaking the cold eye contact. “Did you want to check?” I asked in a snarky tone, pointing to my mouth.

 

E dward’s eyebrows furrowed in innocent confusion, and I instantly felt terrible for my jab. I groaned and ran a hand over the back of my neck, slightly massaging the tired muscles there. “Sorry, Edward. That was really rude.” I mumbled, looking up at him from under my eyelashes.

 

It’s okay, Izzie.” He smiled kindly at me, “Is your neck bothering you?” he asked softly, “I could massage it for you? If you’d like?” His tone was gentle, and caring. I didn’t understand him. How could he not react at all after I had just snapped at him for no reason? It was like he believed he deserved to be treated poorly. That thought just made me feel even more ashamed for my words. Who had hurt this incredibly kind man? Whoever it was had done a number on him, that was for sure. His sense of self, his sense of self worth seemed completely diminished.

 

You don’t have to,” I sighed as the guilt burnt in my chest. Even though I was the one who was laid up and completely vulnerable, it was like he was the one at my mercy. That I could destroy him with a single sentence, or a wayward look.

 

I know, but I’d like to.” He replied as he moved to stand behind me. His cool fingers slowly started to prod and manipulate the aching muscles of my neck and shoulders. “Tell me what you are thinking.” He implored,

 

I feel bad for snapping at you,” I mumbled, the words wholly inadequate.

 

Don’t.”

 

I bent my head back to stare at him, his amber eyes looking down at me with an emotion I couldn’t quite place. “ Who hurt you?” I asked in a whisper, afraid of scaring him away.

 

H is cool hands stopped their gentle movements on my shoulders and I watched as he moved around to sit on the patch-work ottoman. Edward leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees, “What do you mean?”

 

I fe lt the heat rise to my cheeks and I bit my bottom lip nervously trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words. “ It’s pretty obvious, Edward.” I started softly, reaching out a hand to brush my fingertips against his forearm, it was just as cold as his hands. “ You are always so careful… the way you talk to me… the looks you give me.” I paused and looked at his face, trying to gauge his reaction, I still couldn’t figure him out. “ I was just really mean to you then, and you just… took it. The normal response to that would be to at least snap back, or ask what my problem is.” I sighed and weaved my fingers through his, “It’s like you’re afraid that if you say the wrong thing I’m going to disappear on you, or go off on you and ask you to leave.”

 

You’re still so perceptive.” He murmured, his eyes not meeting mine. Still? What did that mean? I was going to ask but he continued before I could. “No one hurt me, Izzie.” he paused as he brought my hand to his lips, I felt his cool breath on my skin as his movements faltered slightly before he pressed a soft kiss to my knuckles. “If anything, I hurt myself.” he sighed as he placed my hand back in my lap. I frowned at him, I didn’t understand his words or what he meant. It was like he was hiding a piece of himself from me, and I desperately wanted to know all of him. “I’m not good for you… and I guess I worry that one day you will work that out for yourself.”

 

I’ m not good for you . Those words seemed to echo inside my head, pulling at the murky depths of memories long since lost to me. Suddenly it felt like I couldn’t breath. There was a pain in my chest, a deep cavernous whole where my heart should be. I tried to take a breath to ease the ache in my lungs, but all I managed was a pained gasp. My hand flew to my chest, cl awing at the fabric. I had expected to find a wound, some evidence of the burning pain I was experiencing.

 

Izzie?” Edward’s worried voice broke through the haze,

 

I released another gasping breath, trying desperately to force air into my lungs. When did it become so hard to breathe ? “ Don’t-” I sobbed as hot tears starting streaming down my face, what the fuck was wrong with me? “Leave- me!”

 

A gain . A small voice whispered in my mind. Don’t leave me, again.

 

Leave you? Izzie-” Edward’s voice cut off as he gently pulled me into a hug, my hip groaned at the movement but I barely noticed it. The burning ache in my chest abruptly eased, and I could once again get air into my lungs. I took a deep breath, relieved by the sensation of air filling my chest. I rested my forehead against Edward’s chest as he traced small circles on my back. “I’m not going anywhere.” He murmured against my hair.

 

I wanted to believe him, truly I did. But I was filled with a cacophony of emotions that I didn’t understand. Something inside of me didn’t trust the words he was saying, that he was just saying them so I would stop crying, because he felt guilty . I had no idea why I was feeling like that. Edward had never done or said anything to make me not trust him, and while I had an endless list of mental health problems, trust issues wasn’t on that list.

 

I didn’t voice any of these thoughts and instead I let myself be comforted by Edward’s touch and his words. Eventually I could breath again, and the pain that had erupted in my chest was completely gone. It was like it had never been there to begin with, a phantom pain. My tears had stopped and I pulled out of Edward’s arms and leaned against the sofa once more. “ I’m sorry about that… I have no idea what came over me.” I mumbled before I raised my head to meet his gaze. I tried to put on a playful smirk, “ Would it help if I told you that I have abandonment issues?” I joked,

 

M y attempt at humour made his worried frown deepen, “ I’m so sorry, Izzie.” He whispered to me as he tucked a stray hair behind my ear.

 

Why?” I chuckled, “It’s not like its your fault.” I smiled, desperate to make him smile again as well.

 

E dward looked down and his shoulders slumped as he ran a hand through his hair, pulling at it slightly. He seemed to take a moment to regain his composure, and when he looked back up at me he had a dazzling smile on his face. “ Are you hungry? I can make you something to eat?” He offered, already standing and walking towards the kitchen.

 

E dward Cullen was a strange man, and he was clearly hiding something from me. I hoped that in the two weeks I had off from work that I could slowly chip away at his armour, and uncover whatever secrets lay underneath. He was clearly hurt, tortured by something or someone in his past and all I wanted to do was help him. Maybe by helping Edward cope with his own traumas I would be closer to dealing with my own.

Chapter Text

 

 

Edwards POV

 

I sat in the large overstuffed arm chair, a cat in my lap and a book in my hand, as I watched Bella with quiet fascination. She had propped herself more upright and was muttering to herself as she worked, hands clicking keys on the laptop that was balanced dangerously on her legs or flipping through the thin pages of an accounting book. Bella’s forehead had an adorable dimple between her brows as she worked, her eyes narrowing and her teeth worrying her bottom lip.

 

The Bella I had known had been terrible at math, often needing my tutoring in order to complete her trig homework. The woman Bella had become didn’t have those same misgivings. She worked quietly and confidently, but I still couldn’t help myself. “Do you need any help?” I spoke up softly.

 

Bella’s brown eyes that had been narrowed in a mix of concentration and annoyance widened at the sound of my voice. She looked up from her work and gave me a tight lipped smile. “No, I’ve got it.” she then ran a hand through her hair, pulling it around her face with a sigh. “It’s just,” She shook her head and gestured to the accounting book that was balanced on the edge of the coffee table and the side of Bella’s knee,I have a system, and I am already worried about the damage that Ethan could do while I am away.” Bella tapped a few keys on the computer before closing the lid with a sigh and placing it on the coffee table. Bella referred to herself as a bartender, but if what I had seen so far was any indication she was much more than that. She seemed to run the entire business, managing the books and organising the schedules.

 

Is there anything I can get for you?” I asked hopefully. It may have been wrong, inappropriate even, but the chance to look after Bella, to care for her was something that I was enjoying immensely. It felt as if I was starting to make up for all the damage I had inflicted upon her. Even though I knew that no matter what I did, nothing could erase that debt. It was a stain upon my very soul. The sin of leaving Bella and causing her to come to so much harm would be something I would have to carry for as long as I continued to exist.

 

A delicate blush coloured Bella’s cheeks as she lowered her eyes a moment before saying, “It would be great to have a bath,” She took a deep breath as if to calm herself before she hastily added, “It’s fine though, if you’re not comfortable. I mean last night must have been totally awkward for you, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to. Ya know?” The words tumbled from her mouth like the rushing of a river rapid.

 

I couldn’t help but chuckle lightly, “It’s okay, Izzie. I don’t mind helping you.” I tried not to think about the feeling of her body under my hands or the radiating warmth that fell from her skin like the gentle waves of in incoming tide . I had tried my best to not look, to not see her in such an exposed and vulnerable moment. However, as always, I was weak. I couldn’t stop my eyes from dropping for just a millisecond as my arms went under Bella’s to ease her out of the tub. That was all it had taken to burn the image of her scar scattered back, and of the gentle and utterly captivating curve of her bottom, into my mind forever . “ I am more concerned with how uncomfortable you were. I can’t imagi ne it is easy to be naked in front of a man you hardly know.”

 

T o my surprise Bella laughed loudly, throwing her head back lightly and her hand- the one free of scars save for the silvery half-moon of Jame s’ bite- fluttered to her mouth in an attempt to stifle the sound. My eyebrows furrowed, and I cocked my head to the side as I watched Bella’s reaction. I was slightly worried for her mental health, but then again that had always been the case with us; Bella reacting in a way that I would never had been able to predict, and me left wondering about soundness of her mind.

 

Seeing my face Bella laughed lightly once more, a sound that boarded on a giggle, before she explained. “ I pretty much lived in a hospital after the accident. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many complete strangers h ave seen me nude. It k ind of loses meaning after a while.” Bella shrugged with a wave of her hand, “ There’s only so many times a girl can endure a sponge bath before she isn’t mortified each time.” Bella grinned at me cheekily for a moment before her expression fell.

 

I couldn’t see my own face through her thoughts like I usually could when talking with someone, but I could guess what I looked like. Guilty. My Bella had once been so shy, so timid that she would blush and hide away at any mention of her body. The trauma she had endured had stolen that from her.

 

B ella misinterpreted my expression, and I could see the movement in her throat as she swallowed thickly. “Forget it, Edward. You don’t have to.” She shrugged before reaching for her novel on the coffee table and hiding her face behind it.

 

Oh god, how I wished I could read her mind. What was she thinking? I slowly stood up, Anthony the cat squeaking a protest before settling back down in the now vacated chair. I walked over and crouched down next to Bella’s spot on the sofa. Slowly, I reached up and lowered the book away from her face and waited for her eyes to meet mine, “ What’s wrong, Izzie? Please tell me what you are thinking.” I pleaded.

 

B ella sighed and ran a tired hand down her face, “ It’s fine,” She said again, “I mean I totally get why you don’t want to see me naked, if I were you I wouldn’t want to see it either.” She shrugged and it was clear she was trying to play this off as no big deal, but I could tell that she was hurting.

 

I t took me a moment to work through what Bella had just said. She had misread my facial expression as an unwillingness to see her naked. She wasn’t worried about being naked in front of me, rather she was worried that I would be disgusted by her body. A burning ache filled my chest and I knew that if I was capable of crying I would have. “ You think I don’t want to see you naked?” I murmured out, glad for the fact that I didn’t have blood in my veins to rush to my face and give away my embarrassment. “ Izzie, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

 

B ella scoffed and looked at me with a deadpan expression, “Oh yeah?” she snarked. I could almost see the invisible walls she built around herself, sarcasm and anger were her defences against any emotion she deemed too dangerous to feel.

 

I reached and took her hand in mine, running my thumb over her knuckles as I spoke. “ My mother raised me in a rather old fashioned way. To respect women, their minds, their emotions, their bodies.” My other hand drifted up and brushed her hair away from her face before it coasted down and rested against her neck, I could feel the warm pulse of her blood under my hand and it just about drove me to insanity. “ Any reluctance you see on my part is not because I don’t want to see your nakedness, but rather it is my attempt at giving you privacy.” Bella was still looking at me with a level of calm disbelief, I shifted closer to her and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. The action seemed to startle her some and I heard as she gasped lightly and the pulse under my hand quickened. I pulled back slightly, but kept my forehead against Bella’s. I took a deep breath, steeling my nerves for what I was about to say. Admitting something like this was foreign and very nearly mortifying, but it was clearly something Bella needed to hear. Because, believe me, Izzie. I very much want to see you naked, to see your body. All of it. To touch you, kiss you.” I quietly murmured the words, my eyes closed as I felt our noses softly brush against each other. “ I’ve never wanted anything more in my entire life.”

 

I opened my eyes and started to slowly pull away from her, hoping to get a better look at her reaction to my confession. Before I could, I felt Bella’s hands wrap around my neck, warm fingers tangling in the hair at the base of my skull and pulling me forwards. I was so startled by it that I didn’t think to stop myself from being pulled against her. Bella’s delicious lips burned against mine, and w hen I felt her warm tongue ghost against my lips it felt like my throat was a gaping portal to hell itself.

 

I could feel the thirst burning in my throat, but the blood-thirsty monster remained silent. I could feel Bella’s tender hand caress it’s way down my spine, leaving a trail of fire in it’s wake. She was trying to pull me closer to her, and I was weak enough to let her. I could feel another type of monster awakening inside of me, this one did not hunger for Bella’s blood but rather her body. My mouth moved against hers in a gentle rhythm, and I found myself suspended over Bella on the sofa, one hand on the back of the sofa holding me up and the other still resting on Bella’s neck . I leaned further into the kiss, giving into the lust-filled demon inside of me as my hand went from her neck down her shoulder and caressed the skin of her arm. I could feel Bella’s hands exploring the expanse of my back, her fingernails pressing into my stone hard skin as she continued to try and pull me closer to her.

 

My fingers twitched as I placed my hand on Bella’s ribs, just under her breast. She whimpered in delight, the sound muffled against my lips. It would be so easy to raise my hand a little higher, to gently touch her in the most intimate way that I dared. Instead I lowered my hand, gently placing it on her hip. The little gasping sound Bella made then wasn’t of pleasure, but rather pain, and it was enough to snap me out of the sinful spell I had found myself in.

 

I wrenched myself away, pulling away from Bella as quickly as I dared. I blinked away the lust y haze that had clouded my thoughts as I looked her over, checking to see if I had hurt her. “ Izzie, I am so sorry. I-” I was going to continue to spew forth a hundred apologies but Bella’s hand came and covered my mouth. Her warm palm pressed firmly against my lips.

 

Don’t. Don’t you dare.” Bella said sternly, her face flushed red, the colouring of her ivory skin made the little brown freckles stand out even more over her nose and cheekbones. “Don’t you apologise, not for that. Never for that.”

 

I gently pried Bella’s hand off my mouth, kissing her palm gently as I did so. “ I was just going to apologise for hurting you,” I murmured.

 

You didn’t.” Bella responded too quickly and I frowned, Bella sighed before saying. “Not really, anyway. You just touched the bruise and it was more a shock than actual pain.” Bella paused for a moment, her eyes dropping to her lap and her fingers tugging at the hem of her shirt. “I’ve never been kissed like that before… it was nice.” Bella spoke in a low voice, a near whisper like she wasn’t quite sure if she truly wanted me to hear the words.

 

Yes,” I agreed as a coy smile pulled at the side of my mouth, “It was very nice.”

 

So… about that bath?” Bella asks meekly and I can’t help but chuckle lightly.

 

Sure thing,” I stood up and offered Bella my hand to help her stand. Bella took it and gripped it tightly as she tried to pull herself up and off the sofa, her face was twisted into a grimace of pain at the movement but she didn’t say anything. She paused for a second, before she tried again this time a little noise sounds in the back of her throat, and I couldn’t take it any more. I already knew Bella was proud, and stubborn, and didn’t like accepting help from others but I couldn’t stand here and offer the bare minimum when I could do so much more. “Can I please help you?” I asked in a pleading tone.

 

Bella looked up at me, her jaw was set as if she had been grinding her teeth and her cheeks were flushed red with pain. She nodded once.

 

I bent at the waist and put my arms underneath Bella’s, circling them around her gently as I slowly eased back upright. Bella made a startled whimpering noise when we moved and I stopped halfway, waiting for what, I wasn’t sure. “ I’m okay,” Bella gasped out, her hot breath in my ear, “I think I was just in the same position for too long and the movement hurt.”

 

I fulled righted us and Bella’s bare feet touched the floor, leaning heavily on me for support and one leg almost completely off the ground so she favoured the side of her hip that she didn’t dislocate.

 

Honestly, I shoulda known better.” Bella grumbled against my chest, “Gotta be sure to keep moving with this sorta thing.” Bella slowly pulled away and with a limped step backwards she looked up at me with a smile. “So are you gonna fetch me my crutches or are you gonna help me into the bathroom?” she quirked an eyebrow.

 

T o answer her question I simply looped my arm under hers and snaked it around her body, she raised her arm around my shoulders and leaned on me as I walked us down the short hallway to the bathroom.

 

I gently sat her down on the close d toilet so I could start running her bath, testing the water as I went to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Once the tub was filled I turned to Bella, “Do you need any assistance?” I asked in an even tone.

 

Nah,” Bella waved me away dismissively, “I should be fine to get in, probably just need help getting out again. I’ll call out if I need you.” She smiled a tight-lipped smile, a polite smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

 

I nodded obediently even though I didn’t fully believe her, and exited the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I listened closely to Bella’s movements in the bathroom as I made my way back to the small living area. I could hear her pained groans and little’s pants of breath and she struggled to take her clothes off, I could hear the sound of her clothes dropping to the cold tile.

 

I heard the gentle slosh of water as Bella started to get into her bath, then there was a sound that made my stomach clench in fear. I heard the sound of soft flesh squeaking against the tub, a splash of water and a loud, pained groan that was almost a yell. I rushed back to the bathroom door and vampire speed, barely stopping myself from throwing the door open.

 

Izzie?!” I yelled, my voice cracking in worry.

 

T here was pants of pain, and I could hear Bella taking deep breaths to stop herself from making any noise that would give away how much she had truly hurt herself. “It’s okay!” I heard her call out, slightly breathlessly. “ I slipped a bit on my way into the tub. I’m good.”

 

Are you sure?” I called through the door, trying to listen to her telltale heart.

 

There was a moment of worrying silence before she responded, Yeah!”

 

Taking Bella’s wor d for it I stayed were I was. I gave up any pretence of waiting patiently in the living room, and instead leaned against the hallway wall across from the bathroom door. I listened at the gentle lapping of the water and Bella’s calm breathing. She had started to hum to herself as I smelt the lavender fragrance of her soap waft out from under the door. It was her lullaby, the same one she had hummed during her shower at my house, the same one I had written for her so many years ago. Little pieces of her past – our past – were bleeding through the tattered remains of her memories. Memories that had been lost, been taken from her by a cruel twist of fate. If I were lucky, they wo uldn’t be lost forever. Hopefully the fact that she knew this song was proof that she still knew me .

 

I was pulled out of my thoughts by Bella call ing out, “Uh, Edward? I could use a little help getting out now.”

 

I waited for a few moments to at least give the impression that I wasn’t hovering outside the bathroom like a perverted voyeur. I slowly opened the bathroom door, keeping my eyes trained on the tiles beneath me. “ Should I help you up the same as before?” I asked as I resisted the urge to look up and take in the sight of Bella’s naked body.

 

Uh,” I heard Bella swallow thickly, “Yeah, sure.” she stumbled over the words.

 

I walked forward obediently and when I came to the edge of the tub I closed my eyes briefly so I could scoop my arms under Bella’s without invading her privacy any more than I already had. “ You don’t have to close your eyes,” Bella whispered, her breath warm against my ear as I encircled her with my arms.

 

I didn’t need any more encouragement, my eyes snapped open before I could think better of it. I knew what to expect, my perfect vampiric memory allowed me to recall the image I had seen the night before with picture perfect clarity. But this time I allowed my eyes to linger.

 

T he water sloshed around us as Bella’s arms went around my neck, the water dripping and dampening the collar of my shirt. I looked down at Bella’s back as I slowly eased her out of the tub. Her long brown hair was damp and curling at the ends from where they had touched the bath water, and I could see a number of scars over her back. Burn scars that were like a macabre patchwork over her skin, weaving up and over the side of her neck. As I slowly eased Bella out of the bath I couldn’t stop myself from gently moving her hair out of the way so I could see more of her naked back. I felt Bella shiver at my feather light touch, her breath catching in her throat.

 

A t the base of her neck, near her shoulders was a thin puckered scar and I gently traced a fingertip over it as Bella stepped out of the tub. I didn’t want to let her out of my arms, I wanted to hold her warm body against mine and never let her go. Instead I reached behind me and found Bella’s towel, handing it to her as I stepped away. I averted my gaze, even knowing that Bella didn’t mind me looking it still felt wrong to see her naked body. Old habits die hard I guess.

 

The vertebrae in my neck are fused together.” Bella said, and I looked up at her in confusion. She had wrapped the towel around herself. Seeing my confused expression her hand went to the back of her neck, “The scar? I had a neck fracture during the accident so they had to fuse my spine.”

 

I took a step towards her and pulled her hand away from the back of her neck, “You don’t have to explain anything to me.” I mumbled.

 

Bella shrugged and pulled her hand out of mine before draping it over my shoulders, “Help me to my room?” She asked. I just nodded, grateful for the closeness of her warm body. We had just about made it to Bella’s bedroom when she spoke up again, her voice quiet and unsure . “ Do you play baseball?”

 

I couldn’t control my body as I stopped moving, forcing both of us to a sudden and violent halt. My thoughts turned into static as I considered the implications of Bella’s question. Why did she ask me this? Was she remembering something? How should I respond to her? Surely lying to her would make things worse, after all I was already lying to her by omission.

 

Edward?” Bella’s voice broke through my internalised panic attack and brought me back to the present,

 

My family and I sometimes play together, why do you ask?” I answered evenly as I continued to help her limp into her bedroom. I slowly lowered Bella down so she could sit on her bed, when her arms pulled away from me I could feel a tingling heat remain.

 

I don’t know, it’s nothing really, just a thought I had.” Bella shrugged as her face screwed up in thought. I resisted the urge to sigh, to reach out and smooth out the creases in her worried face and tell her everything.

 

I will leave you to get dressed then, call out if you need me.” I stuffed my hands into my pants pockets to stop myself from touching her as I turned and walked out of the room.

Chapter Text

 

Izzie’s (AKA Bella’s) POV

 

 

 

The loud crack of lightning against a calm grey sky. Cold hands against my warm skin, harsh wind striking my face. Fear and panic. Pain, blinding pain. Liquid fire in my veins.

 

T he sound of shattered glass, pieces of tiny crystal slicing into my arm. Growling and whispered apologies. A warm room and the scent of old books and wood-fire smoke. A man with golden hair and sad eyes to match slowly stitching the gash in my arm, Carlisle?

 

I wanted to bring people happiness, even if I am damned regardless.”

 

I never even wanted a party.

 

I woke up with a gasp and I shot upright before I could think better of it. My sheets were drenched in a cold sweat and I looked around in the darkness for anything to ground myself. My hands searched blindly, pulling at the damp sheets until I found the light switch to the lamp. I turned it on and focused on how the dim light cast strange shadows around my room. I couldn’t seem to get control of my breathing, either it came to me in short gasps that were far too shallow, or deep painful lungfuls of air that left my body in painful sobs.

 

I was crying? Yes, I was crying. That information came to me much later than normal. I needed my meds. My traitorous body was not listening to me, my hands were shaking so violently that when I reached for the little orange bottle that would bring me relief it instead was knocked off the nightstand with a loud clattering noise. Another noise, the door opening. I looked up from the lost medicine bottle and saw Edward standing in the doorway, his hair was a windswept mess and his eyes were wild. Bright yellow in the soft light of my bedside lamp.

 

Izzie? Are you okay?” He asked in a worried tone, coming into the room in a few long strides. “What do you need?”

 

M y stomach churned with nausea and I could feel the acidic burn of bile building in the back of my throat. I pointed to the little orange bottle that had escaped my grasp and tried to say the words. What came out instead was an unintelligible garble, somewhere between a sob and a moan. Edward seemed to understand, thankfully, and he hurried to retrieve the bottle for me. He put it in my hand and when he saw my trembling fingers struggling to open the bottle he took it back, opened it, and handed it to me again. I managed to shake out a couple of the little tablets, and threw them into my mouth and swallowed them coughing slightly as they travelled down my throat.

 

Here, Izzie. Drink.” Edward murmured gently, holding a glass of water to my lips. I sipped it slowly, the water helping to ease the tablets as well as rid my throat of the burn.

 

I slowly managed to get my breathing back under control, and as time passed I felt the effects of the meds take hold in my body.

 

Bad dream?” Edward asked gently, his cool hand slowly stroking my hair.

 

I-I…” my words stuttered and stumbled, refusing to take shape. “I don’t understand.” I finally managed to say.

 

Maybe if you tell me about it, it will help?” Edward suggested as he continued to caress my hair tenderly.

 

That’s it though. I don’t understand.” I stressed. My hands clenched into fists before I found myself pressing against the burn scar that marred the back of my left hand. It had been a long time since the movement caused me any pain, but I still found myself pressing against the now healed wound in order to ground myself and gather some sense of control over my thoughts. Edward didn’t rush me, didn’t ask any probing or invasive questions. He just knelt there, at the side of my bed, one hand combing lovingly through my tangled hair damp from sweat and the other still holding the glass of water. Lovingly. A comforting touch, strangely intimate. Cold hands in my hair, ghosting over the skin of my neck. I didn’t want to think right now, I didn’t what to examine any of the tumultuous emotions that were warring inside of me.

 

I closed my eyes and focused on the soothing touch of Edward’s hand. The mild sedatives I had taken were taking their full effect now. I could no longer hear my heartbeat slamming loudly inside my skull , my hands had stopped shaking, and it no longer felt like I was going to throw up with the slightest wrong movement.

 

I opened my eyes and turned to look at Edward, he was looking at me with soft eyes filled with concern. I slowly reached out and touched the skin underneath his eyes, the dark bags that had been there yesterday had lessened some. “ The dream didn’t make much sense.” I croaked out, I cleared my throat and took the glass of water from Edward to take a small sip.

 

Dreams don’t often do.” Edward said in a comforting tone as he took the half empty glass from me.

 

Mine do. Mostly.” I shrugged, the sedatives were now starting to show their face in my mind and thoughts, it was like thinking through a thick fog, unfamiliar but comforting in its opaqueness. “My nightmares are usually a strange tangle of memories from the crash,” I stared at the burn scar on my hand as I continued. “This was just… flashes. Images and sounds and emotions.”

 

What images?” Edward’s hand stopped it’s caress of my hair and grasped my hands instead, stopping myself from pressing against the scar. I looked over at him, wondering why he was bothering. What did he want? Why was he even sticking around? Any normal guy would have gotten off the crazy train at the first station, but Edward refused to give up. And it wasn’t like he didn’t have every opportunity to leave. Sure, he didn’t know what he was getting into when he asked me for that first date but that date ended with me crying my eyes out and snotting all over his fancy shirt. After that I figured he wouldn’t want much more to do with me, but still he had persisted, texting me almost relentlessly. So I didn’t hesitate to invite him to the Halloween party. I figured it was a public event, and I would be working, so it would give him ample opportunity to politely let me down. Something along the lines of ‘hey you’re nice and everything, but I don’t have time for crazy lady problems.’ was what I was expecting.

 

I nstead he had announced to the entire town that he was my boyfriend. Or rather he announced to Heather that he was my boyfriend. Which is kind a the same thing.

 

A nd now here he was, kneeling at my bedside. Edward Cullen was the strangest person on the entire planet.

 

Lightning? The sound more than anything else. And then all I felt was a deep, blinding fear.” I shook my head and took a deep breath as I started to feel my heart pound loudly in my chest. A few deep breathes had it back under control. Edward stayed silent as I worked through the anxiety, a quiet soothing presence. “And then there was the sound of glass breaking, and something slicing into my skin.” My eyebrows furrowed against the oncoming tide that was the steadily growing fog of the sedatives. “Growling? Some sort of wild animal, I don’t know. And then your Dad was there, patching me up.” I let out a humourless laugh, a short barking sound that was more air than anything else. Saying it all out loud made it sound all the more crazy. “He was saying something about being damned?” I shook my head, a self depreciating joke lingering on the tip of my tongue.

 

Whatever I was about to say fell away when I looked up and saw the look on Edward’s face.

 

H e no longer looked the perfect picture of gentle worry and loving concern. The gentle worry had morphed into a frenzied panic, his eyes were wide and it was almost like I could see the gears behind his eyes whirling around at a hundred miles an hour. His smooth calming smile was gone, replaced with a tight frown that matched the slight furrow of his brow.

 

Edward? What’s wrong?” I fought back a yawn as I took in his tense expression.

 

I t was like a mask dropped into place. Edward’s face smoothed out into a blank mask of calm, and then a moment later his eyes met mine with a familiar crinkle around the edges as he smiled at me. “ Nothing’s wrong. I’m just tired is all,” he assured me, his tone even and confident.

 

L iar. There was something else going on, and usually I would have called him out on it and demanded answers. But I was fighting a losing battle against my medications and I couldn’t stop the yawn from escaping. Edward remained silent as he helped me ease back down into bed, placing a soft kiss to my forehead before he stood up and turned off the lamp. I watched him leave with half closed eyes, before I slowly fell into the growing fog of unconsciousness.

 

 

Chapter Text

When I woke up the next morning, my thoughts were slow and my limbs fe lt like dead-weights. Ah yes, the lovely side-affects of sedative medications. I lingered on the edge of asleep and awake for a moment, the hazy fog filling my brain and clouding head and any thoughts I could have had were left half formed. I kept my eyes closed as I took a breath deep into my lungs, the oxygen burned through my muscles and I let out the breath in one tired huff. I eventually opened my eyes and blinked up at the ceiling, I didn’t really have any need to get up today did I? I could just lay here in a post sedative haze for a few hours, maybe I could take another one and sleep the day away in a fit of dreamless sleep. That thought made me groan and I scrubbed my hand over my face, it was never a good sign when I was considering taking a sedative first thing in the morning. It was just hard to see the point of forcing myself out of bed. To face a day filled with pain both old and fresh from my still healing hip.

 

A gentle rapping on my door pulled me out of my pity party. “ Izzie? Are you awake yet?” Edward’s honeyed voice drifted over to me and it filled out the hollow space in my chest. Maybe I had a reason to get up after all.

 

Barely.” I replied back, my voice breaking around my raspy throat. I kept my eyes on the ceiling as I heard the door creak open and Edward’s soft footsteps came into the room. I took another breath, trying to pull on the sliver of motivation that I knew wasn’t there before I had heard Edward’s voice, I pulled myself upright and looked at him. No one had any business looking that damn good first thing in the morning, especially not after the night we had.

 

I had woken up in the dead of night, screaming and crying and sobbing and barely able to form a single fucking sentence and Edward had rushed to my side. He had been so patient with me as he talked me down from my nightmare. A nightmare that didn’t even make any sense. It wasn’t the usual crash, the burning fire and screaming fear. By all accounts it shouldn’t have even been a nightmare at all, just a bizarre dream. But still, I couldn’t stop the complete and utter breakdown that the dream had caused. How was it that after helping me through that, he looked so good and well rested?

 

The usual darkness under his eyes seemed to be lighter than usual, and his pale skin had a slight pinkness to it that I hadn’t seen before. It made me feel all that much worse. I felt like shit, and I knew I probably looked the part too. Edward was looking at me with that face again. The one with the scrunched up eyebrows and hard line in his lips, a look of worry and concentration. He slowly came across the room and sat gently next to me on the bed.

 

Are you alright Izzie?” He asked softly as his hand slowly came up and cupped my cheek, his thumb grazed over my forehead and I felt my face relax, my deep frown falling away under his touch. “What are you thinking?” He whispered.

 

I was sure that this was probably Edward’s favourite question. Judging by the sheer amount of times he had asked me.

 

I’m thinking that it’s unfair you look so put together when I know I look like a dumpster fire.” I mumbled back, some of the words only coming out half formed as I battled against the black sludge rumbling around my skull that had taken the place of my brain at some point in the night.

 

You could never look anything short of beautiful.” Edward replied and even though I had closed my eyes at some point during our conversation I could hear the smile in his voice.

 

I opened my eyes to a smiling Edward and made a move to get out of bed, before stopping at the sharp twinge in my hip. At this point in my short but incredibly pain filled life I had become a master at masking pain. Stopping that hiss of air between clenched teeth before it could start. Insisting no doctor, I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt that bad as I had taken the first wobbly steps on a leg held together with a titanium plate and a whispered prayer . I was a girl without a family, the girl who rocked up with no memories and nothing except a grocery list of injuries that needed fixing, so I didn’t need to inconvenience anyone else with any unnecessary bitching about how it hurt . This new pain was nothing I hadn’t dealt with before, in fact it was pretty low on the pain scale for me. So I figured that it shouldn’t be to o hard to grin and b ear it and fake my way through the next two weeks without worrying Edward too much. The guy didn’t need it, he already looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and I didn’t want to add to whatever burden he was already shouldering.

 

S omehow Edward always knew. It was like he could pick up on the tiny minuscule tells that occurred in my body against my own will. It annoyed the fuck out of me. I couldn’t seem to hide anything from him.

 

Izzie, wait.” Edward gracefully rose from the bed and grabbed the little orange bottle of pain pills, handing it over wordlessly, “You must be in a lot of pain, you haven’t taken any since dinner last night.”

 

I frowned at him. A lot of pain. I wonder ed what he used for his pain scale, what his level of pain tolerance was like?

 

I opened the bottle and shook out a couple of the small white tablets, staring at them for a moment before tossing them into my mouth. I wasn’t looking forward to how the pain meds would interact with the dwindling fog of last night’s sedatives. I took the glass of water Edward offered me and swallowed the pills down quickly, trying not to think about it. I had spent too long in a hospital bed, my mind and body muddled by a cocktail of different drugs made to mask pain and to put my damaged mind to sleep. Most of those days had become blurred together in my memory, the only way I could mark the passage of time was the white hot memories of dressing changes and burns being clean ed to break up the otherwise continuous memory into distinct days and weeks. These days I didn’t like mixing sedatives and pain relief together, at least not th ese Opioid based painkillers that the hospital has sent me home with. Sure, they took away the pain, but when mixed with the after affects of the sedative it lowered my inhibitions to a dangerous level.

 

 

A gain I thought about just laying back down, spending the day in bed doing nothing except wallowing in the empty feeling that gnawed at my gut, but then I looked at Edward and the pain seemed to lessen some. I guess it was worth getting out of bed for a little while, if I didn’t feel any better afterwards I could always just come back.

 

I made a move to get out of bed again, this time stubbornly ignoring the pain in my hip as it shot down my leg and radiated throughout my lower back. As if sensing my discomfort Edward hurried to my side, snaking an arm around my back and helping me stand up. I huffed out a breath as my cheeks flushed red. I wasn’t sure if I was reacting to Edward being so close, or if I was just embarrassed by the fact I needed the help to stand upright.

 

Kitchen?” Edward asked and I felt him pull me closer to his side. Not for the first time I noticed that Edward seemed to run a bit cooler than normal, and I tried not to think about how nice that coolness felt against my body.

 

Or you could just pass me my crutches and I could get where I need to go by myself.” I mumbled half irritated-half joking.

 

Accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness, Izzie.” Edward’s chest rumbled against me as he started a slow walk down the short hallway towards the kitchen.

 

It’s not that.” I grumbled out as we limped into the small kitchen and I eased myself down onto a chair.

 

Then what is it?” Edward asked as he turned to get some water boiling to make me coffee.

 

I sighed and scrunched my nose as I ran a tired hand over my face, I didn’t have the energy to keep up any defences right now. “ I just don’t like being a burden.” I mumbled out softly, hoping that maybe he wouldn’t catch what I said over the clatter of cups and spoons.

 

T he soft noises of Edward making me breakfast stopped and I looked up to see him staring at me intensely. “ You are not a burden.” Edward said the words with such fury that I almost believed them.

 

I gave him a tired look, making it pretty damn clear I didn’t believe him for a second. He frowned and crossed the small kitchen, pulling over a chair next to me and sitting down so our knees were just barely touching. I looked up at him and saw that he was gearing up to make some sort of speech, his eyes were soft and caring but his jaw was tense like he was grinding his teeth. I could feel the painkillers kick in with a vengence , a soft sort of giddiness invading my mind and mingling with the remaining fog. I had things I wanted to say, questions I needed to ask and I knew if I let Edward start first that by the end I would be too drugged out to put up much of an argument.

 

Edward opened his mouth to speak but before he could I blurted. “I can’t even work out why you’re still here.” Edward stopped whatever he was about to say, his mouth hanging open slightly for a moment before he remembered to close it again. His frown deepened, his amber eyes confused as he tilted his head to the side slightly as if he were looking at a particularly difficult puzzle. Before he could say anything to rebut me I continued, forcing the words out of my drug addled brain and bringing them into existence, albeit a little bit jumbled. “I mean, we’ve known each other for what? A little over a month?” I paused as I thought about it, nodding to myself when I realised that I was correct. “We’ve been on one date.” I held up a single finger, and then frowned. “Well two if you count Halloween, which I don’t think really counts as a date?” The sentence ended up sounding more like a question than I had hoped. “What are you still doing here?”

 

E dward took my hand in his, lacing his fingers through mine and covering the scar burned back with his other perfect hand.” I’m here because I care about you, Izzie.” He answered evenly, like it was the most obvious answer in the universe.

 

It wasn’t. It made absolutely zero sense, and it was making me more and more irritated that he couldn’t see that. Or worse, he did see that and was choosing to ignore it for some reason. Something in the back of my mind itched, causing my throat to tighten and my eyes to narrow. A small warning that maybe Edward was playing some sort of game, some sort of long con with the poor Amnesia Girl. Something different to occupy his time, after all he was obviously extremely wealthy and privileged, a life like that would probably become boring after a while. Maybe I was just some pet project.

 

I shook my head and cleared by throat, fighting back the urge to admit just how much I cared about him too. “ Why .” I managed to force out the word, fighting back the sting in my eyes caused by the threat of tears. I cleared my throat again, fighting a loosing battle against the painful lump in my throat. “ I just don’t get it.” I muttered out, “You-you’re… ” I shook my head and dropped my gaze down to our hands. “ Most guys would have run for the hills by now. I’m a mess, and not just physically. Edward… my head is a mess.” I peaked up at him for a moment, just long enough to see him looking at me with a tortured expression. “ I have all these… issues . Trauma from shit I can’t even remember and it’s not fair for you to put up with that!” I pulled my hand out of Edward in an angry jerk and covered my face with both my hands as hot tears started to fall.

 

Fuck. I’m such a fucking mess. The fog in my brain was starting to spread throughout my body now, and the only upside to it all was it ma de it easier to reign back the tears and get myself under control. I took a deep breath and mumbled behind my hands, “You don’t even know me, Edward. Fuck, I don’t even know me.”

 

I felt Edward cold hands circle around my wrists and pull my hands away from my face. I didn’t have the mental or physical energy to fight him. “ I know enough to know that I love you.”

 

That doesn’t make any sense.” I muttered, I couldn’t stop the corners of my mouth jerking upwards in a watery smile at the sound of those words.

 

Does it have to?” Edward asked.

 

I couldn’t really argue with that, and not just because of the drugs that were becoming more pronounced as the minutes wore on. Most things in my life didn’t make any sense, so why should this?

 

I guess not.” I replied, my eyes were dried, the lump in my throat getting smaller by the second and my mood was become more stabilised again. “I… I love you too.” I glanced up just in time to see Edward’s face break out into a stunning grin, his eyes crinkling around the edges and teeth all white and perfect. Even though I had never seen this particular expression on Edward’s face, something about it was so achingly familiar. I just couldn’t figure out why.

Chapter Text

Edward’s POV

 

 

It was just past mid-day, and I never thought I would ever experience this sort of happiness ever again. I had tried to pull away from Bella after our mutual confessions of love, but she held onto me with all her strength. Given that she was human, and currently doped up beyond all reason, it wasn’t much strength at all. But I wasn’t about to fight her on it, not for one second.

 

I had slipped out the previous night to hunt, taking my time to get my fill of elk and deer. When I returned it was to the heart breaking sounds of Bella’s broken sobs and the scent of her sweat heavy in the air. I had wished I had never left to hunt, but I knew if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been able to comfort her as I did.

 

I was grateful again for it now, as I sat with Bella on her ratty sofa. Her long legs were laying lazily over my lap and I couldn’t stop myself from gently caressing her over her sweatpants. She had started to read her book, but quickly gave up that endeavour as fast as she had started it, tossing it back onto the coffee table with a huff.

 

I ran my fingertips over her leg, delighting in the warmth I could feel. Bella sighed contently and shifted lower, scooting closer down the sofa. “ Are you alright?” I spoke softly, not wanting to break her out of whatever half-sleep trance she was in.

 

Hmmm,” She hummed, half opening her eyes at me and I could see her pupils were slightly larger than usual, “Just….” Her eyebrows scrunched up as if trying to find the correct word was a herculean task, “Fuzzy.” She eventually said, raising her hand to wiggle her fingers near her temples. “The pain meds… plus the meds from last night…” her sentence dropped again, so I just waited patiently for her to finish, “It’s making it hard to think straight.” she sighed again, this time it sounded sad. I wanted to ask why she was sad, but I didn’t think she would be able to give me a coherent answer in her current state.

 

I watched as her eyes fluttered closed again, and her breathing evened out. I could hear her heartbeat, so even and comforting. I slowly traced my fingertips down her leg again, this time ghosting over the skin of her ankle. I heard her heartbeat stutter before returning to normal, and I watched as a sleep y smile curled the sides of her beautiful lips. “ Feels nice,” she mumbled.

 

I smiled at her as I gently ghosted my fingertips over the skin of her leg, the hem of her sweatpants being pulled up as I went. When I got to her knee I circled it once slowly, before I lowered my hand again. This time I traced the outline of the thick, puckered scar on her shin. I heard Bella grunt and I turned from studying her leg to look at her face, she was frowning deeply but her eyes were still closed. “Don’t… Don’t do that.” She muttered and grunted as she tried to move to cover her leg with the fabric of her pants.

 

Why not?” My voice came out in hushed whisper, although I’m not sure why. Maybe I just didn’t want to break the gentle silence and steady beating of Bella’s heart.

 

It’s ugly.” She bit back, her tired voice suddenly hard and tinged with venom. I watched as she opened her eyes, and I could see that through the drug induced haze she was agitated.

 

You’re beautiful.” I countered immediately.

 

Scars are not beautiful, they’re just ugly reminders of past injuries.” She argued back as she continued her attempt of pulling down her pant’s leg.

 

I put my hand around her wrist to stop her, and I could feel the pulse in her wrist flutter at the same time I heard her heart skip a beat. “ They are reminders of your strength.” A argued back, “ You survived .”

 

Barely. And most of the time I didn’t want to.” she grumbled back, pulling her wrist from my hand and in my shock from her statement I didn’t stop her.

 

What does that mean, Izzie?” I asked. Bella sighed as she ran a hand down her face, she looked emotionally exhausted and it was clear she hadn’t meant to say what she had just said. I should have let it go, I should have just moved on and forgotten about it. I had never been great at doing the things I should. Izzie? What does that mean?” I asked again.

 

B ella took a large breath in and I couldn’t stop myself from watching as her chest rose sharply, she held the breath for a moment before she let it out in a large huff. She then slowly started to shift away from me so she was sitting more upright than she was before. Bella had her eyes down in her lap, her fingers fiddling with the hem of her shirt for a moment, seemingly getting the courage to say whatever it was she needed to say. “ You don’t know what it was like.” She murmured after a moment.

 

Tell me.” I begged, reaching for her hand so I could hold it in mine. Before I could, she moved it out of my reach.

 

I woke up in a state of complete panic. I had no idea where I was, or what had happened to me. All I could feel was pain everywhere and a hard tube thrust down my throat.” She paused for a second and I could see her throat move as she swallowed thickly. “It only got worse when I was suddenly sounded by people telling me to calm down, to relax. Calling me Miss. Swan or Isabella and that was the moment I realised that not only did I not know where I was but I didn’t even know who I was.”

 

I could see the pain on her face, and I waited for the tears to start to fall but to my surprise they didn’t. Bella must have felt me staring because her eyes flickered up to meet mine, her big beautiful doe brown eyes were narrowed and tight around the sides and her eyebrows were pulled together. I could see them shining with tears, but not enough to spill out and over onto her cheeks. Her pupils were blown, large and glassy. I figured that she probably would have been crying if it weren’t for all the drugs currently in her system. I reached for her hand again and this time she didn’t deny me. I held it softly and waited for her to continue.

 

I didn’t think it could get any worse, the pain in my body and the complete confusion was totally terrifying. It took a long time before the doctors would even let me anywhere near a mirror.” Bella shook her head and chuckled, but there was no humour in the sound and I resisted the urge to groan in pain and plead with her for her forgiveness.

 

Of course I knew what Bella had been through, but I had no details, nothing specific, and while I had been dying to know I wasn’t going to push her for answers. I didn’t want to say or do anything now that would stop her from sharing this with me.

 

O blivious to my internal struggle, Bella continued. “The shrinks weren’t sure if it would do more harm than good. If seeing my own face would trigger some memory, or just traumatise me more. Eventually I took the choice away from them by guilt tripping a student nurse into handing me a mirror.” Bella paused again and bit her bottom lip, her eyes flickering between me and her hand that was being held by both of mine like it was a cherished relic. My face was swollen with bruises and cuts, and when I looked at myself I just saw a total stranger.” She took another deep breath in, holding it in her lungs for a moment before letting it loose in a slow and controlled way. “ Everything from those first few weeks is just a blur, really. Days and weeks became meaningless, and I slowly lost the will to just... keep going. I couldn’t see the point . I had no point of reference, I had no memory of anything before waking up in that hospital bed so I didn’t have anything to help me get through it. All I had was pain, and fear, and strangers poking and prodding and scraping away at my flesh as I was held down by orderlies, and I just wanted it all to stop .” I saw as Bella clenched her teeth and I saw a small piece of the glassy drugged look in her eyes burn away with her anger. “ I started to tongue my sleeping pills, and when I had enough… I-” Her voice broke and I watched as Bella clenched her jaw again and swallowed heavily.

 

You tried to kill yourself.” I finished the sentence for her, and I was surprised by the level of anger in my voice. Bella didn’t miss the fury in my voice and her hard eyes snapped up to mine.

 

B ella yanked her hand out of mine and levelled me in her glare, “ You have no right to judge me, you don’t know .” She spit out her words, they were icy and sharp on her tongue. “ I had no one . I was totally alone and everything in my life was just pain . I’d like to see what you would do in that situation.”

 

B ella’s words tore through my dead heart, and it felt like my chest was going to crack open like a macabre flower in bloom. Of course she had no way of know ing just how much those words hurt me. It was all my fault, of course. She was alone because I had left her, she was in such tremendous pain because of my actions. My Bella, my sweet and lovely Bella had lost the will to live because of what I had done to her.

 

I could feel the burn of venom in my eyes, swelling with tears that I could never shed. “You’re right.” I choked out, my voice breaking with the strain of talking around the lump forming in my throat. “I’m sorry.” I risked a glance at Bella, and saw that her anger had softened into something else. Concern?

 

There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch for an eternity. Bella grunted softly as she pulled her legs off the sofa and shuffled closer to me, pressing her warm body against mine. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I loved the way her small body melded against mine and I didn’t want her to ever move. I gently raised my arm and put it around her shoulders, pulling her against me as tightly as I dared.

 

I’m really glad I didn’t kill myself.” Bella mumbled against my chest, “I never would have met you otherwise. Meeting you, being here with you now…” She paused for a moment and I felt her press herself against me tighter than before, “It makes all of that worth it.”

 

A flood of conflicting emotions ran through my body, setting my dead heart aflame like a lightening storm in summer. Unrelenting joy and happiness erupted in my chest and I was sure that Bella could feel the heat of it from where she rested her head. However the joy was over-washed by the abhorrent wave of self-loathing, it crashed over me like a tidal wave, extinguishing any happiness left inside of me. I was sure that if Bella knew the truth, that she would hate me. It was the only logical response, not only to me leaving her to be harmed so deeply but also to my now continuing deception.

 

T here could be no guarantee that she would ever remember, and for the first time since finding my love again, I hoped that her memories would never return. I hoped that I could remain her saviour, her safe harbour in a stormy sea. I hoped that for as long as she let me be in her life, that she would never remember that I was the storm that she needed saving from.

Chapter Text

 

Izzie (aka Bella) POV

 

 

 

I felt like I was floating but instead of finding myself suspended in the familiar inky sea of my memories and dreams, I was instead drifting in mid air caught under the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting. It was so bright, so white that I couldn’t seem to get my bearings. I heard my own voice, lighter and much more subdued than I ever remember being.

 

I don’t know… I was thinking, radioactive spider?”

 

I tried to find the source, but my eyes refused to adjust to the harsh light.

 

There was an amused chuckle that I instantly knew belonged to Edward. “Kryptonite doesn’t bother me either.” There was a pause, and then I heard Edward again this time all humour was gone and his voice was low and stone cold. “What if I’m not the hero. What if I’m the bad guy?”

 

S uddenly I was falling, the blinding white light growing darker as air rushed around my ears. When I landed it was in amongst a dark forest, staring up at Edward. His face that was usually filled with love and concern was now twisted into a cruel sneer.

 

I don’t want you.” He honeyed voice spat at me, “We are too different, I always knew this was never going to work.”

 

I opened my mouth to argue, to fight him on it but in a blur he was gone. I was alone. Always alone, with no one and nothing.

 

I tried to speak, but my voice was stuck in my throat. No, not stuck. Muffled by the heavy breathing tube that I could feel forcing air into my lungs.

 

Calm down, Miss Swan. There’s been an accident.”

 

 

 

 

Izzie! Wake up!” I felt cold hands shaking my shoulders gently, “God, please wake up.” Edward’s voice was distraught and tight with anxiety.

 

I opened my eyes and gasped in a breath as my hand flew to check that there wasn’t anything snaking it’s way down my windpipe, satisfied that the disturbingly vivid dream was just a dream I managed to reign in my breathing. I turned to see Edward still hovering over me, his amber eyes narrowed with worry and his brow furrowed.

 

What’s wrong?” I croaked, suddenly aware of how dry my mouth was and how sore my throat had become.

 

E dward released a disbelieving puff of air as he pulled at his hair. He slowly pulled away from me and knelt at my bedside which gave me the room to shuffle upwards and sit against my headboard. “Jesus, Izzie.” He huffed, “What’s wrong? Seriously? You were screaming and thrashing about and you weren’t waking up!”

 

I wrinkled my nose at this, the strange dream turned nightmare didn’t seem that bad. In fact I felt oddly calm now that I was awake. I looked at Edward and he looked nearly hysterical, his hands pulling at his bronze hair. “ I’m okay,” I wanted to comfort him, reassure him.

 

Edward pulled his hands away from his hair and grasped one of my hands in both of his. What were you dreaming about?” His question was begging, pleading and I couldn’t deny him an answer.

 

I also didn’t want to tell him the truth. Edward was already so upset and I didn’t want to burden him with anything else. I knew that if I told him about the part of the dream where he left me, claimed he didn’t want me, that it would just upset him even more. If there was one thing I knew about Edward, it was that he wouldn’t hesitate to torture himself and apologise for the actions of his dream- state doppelganger. I could just picture his flawless face crumpling in anguish, and I couldn’t stand that. So I decided on a half-truth.

 

Waking up in the hospital after the accident.” My answer was murmured and I couldn’t look at him when I said it.

 

He brought my hand to his lips, kissing my knuckles gently. Is that all?” He words ghosted across the back of my hand. I was always such a shitty liar.

 

I nodded, “Yeah, that’s all.”

 

Edward lowered my hand back to the bed, and rose to his feet. “Do you need anything?”

 

He was clearly getting ready to leave, to go back to his makeshift bed on my lumpy sofa. “ Stay?” I whispered.

 

What?” Edward gasped.

 

Would you stay with me?” I bit my lip nervously, “Please?”

 

E ven though the dream was just a dream, I couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from him right now. I wanted him in my bed, I wanted to curl up into his side and fall asleep in his arms.

 

Of course.” The answer was slow and diplomatic but I didn’t wait to dissect the meaning in his tone before I started to turn onto my good hip. I grunted with the effort, but eventually made it onto my side before I pulled back the covers on the other side of my bed.

 

I watched as Edward made his way around the room, moving slowly and deliberately, constantly watching my face and gauging my reactions as if he expected me to change my mind. I waited patiently as he slowly slipped in beside me, his long legs disappearing beneath the covers.

 

I smiled happily, and scooted closer and Edward greeted me by raising an arm around my shoulders. A contented sigh escaped my lips as I rested my head on the crook of his shoulder and my arm came over his chest and curled around his side. “ Thank you,” I whispered,

 

E dward didn’t respond, instead I felt his free hand come up and start to card through my hair. The touch was gentle and soothing, and I quickly fell asleep.

 

X xXx

 

I woke up still in Edward’s embrace. I shifted my head so I could look up and see his face, and when I did I couldn’t stop the smile that curled my lips and made my eyes crinkle.

 

E dward was still in a deep sleep, his face relaxed and his mouth open slightly. He looked so much younger like this, all the pain and worry that usually followed him was gone. I watched him for a while, I listened to the soft sounds of his breathing. I wanted to wake him up, but I also never wanted this moment to end.

 

T he morning was slowly progressing, but I had no concept of time. I could feel the warmth of the morning sun on my legs, and then as the clouds outside shifted a beam of light cast it’s glow across Edward’s face.

 

I gasped at the same time Edward’s eyes shot open. Where the sunlight struck his face, his skin glowed like a thousand iridescent diamonds. I couldn’t move, my body was frozen and then as if it had a mind of it’s own my hand reached up and my fingertips grazed his face.

 

I could feel my heart hammering away in my chest, I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears. A slow pain started to stab in my temples, shattering outwards in a spiderweb of agony.

 

Izzie?” Edward whispered my name but I was already moving. I pushed away from him, scrambling backwards and fell off the bed and crumpled to the floor like a paper doll.

 

I-…. I don’t” My mouth was moving too slow, and everything around me was moving too fast. “Edward,” His name came out slurred on my lips as the pain in my head continued. It felt like something inside of me was breaking, like a thousand ice picks were driving their way into my skull. I gripped my hair in my hands and pulled at it, trying to do anything to relieve the white hot pain in my brain. My vision was starting to blur and I felt nausea bubble up in my stomach, my limbs started to feel heavy like dead weights that I couldn’t control. I slumped to the ground on my side as my vision blurred to blackness.

 

 

T he sound of tyres screeching against brakes, and a dark blue van hurdling towards me. Edward. One arm pulling me out of danger and the other raised to stop the out of control vehicle.

 

The man in the meadow, the man from my dreams who had always been faceless now had a face. Edward’s face. He stood before me, skin glistening in the sunlight.

 

This is the skin of a killer, Bella.”

 

You’re beautiful.”

 

A sense of love and belonging, being a part of a family that was entirely strange and yet accepted me anyway. A birthday party, hugs and congratulations. The sharp sting of a paper cut, and then Jasper’s snarling face as he fought against Emmett’s hold.

 

I don’t want you to come.”

 

You don’t want me?”

 

No.

 

 

 

I blinked and groaned as I came to. I was still on the floor, on my side and I could taste the gross

burning taste of bile. Looking on the floor in front of me I realised I had thrown up. I tried to raised my hand to wipe my mouth, but it was like there was a delay and I almost missed my face completely.

 

Izzie, be careful. You had some kind of seizure.” Edward’s worried voice drifted over me.

 

E dward. Edward . Adrenaline coursed through my veins as I hurried to sit up, my back pressed against my bed as I looked at him. He was here, he was really here . My jaw clenched as I tried to make everything make sense in my head. Edward had left me, destroyed my heart and left me alone to try and piece it back together. Edward didn’t want me anymore.

 

T hat didn’t make sense. Edward had given me a place to stay. Edward had made me dinner and dried my tears. Edward had spent the last week looking after me, caring for me in every way possible. Edward had helped me bathe, oh god he had seen me naked.

 

H ot rage and embarrassment coloured my cheeks and I swallowed thickly. “ Get out.” I whispered.

 

Izzie? What’s wrong?” Edward shifted closer to me and moved to place his hand on my cheek. I flinched away from him and struggled to stand up, my injured hip screamed at me and it still felt like my limbs weren’t completely under my control. Edward got to his feet as well, but didn’t attempt to come any closer.

 

I remember, Edward.” I stood up for a second before I sunk back down onto the bed, I raised my eyes to meet his, my gaze cold and steely. “I remember everything.That wasn’t the complete truth, there was still some glaring holes in my memories, but I remembered enough.

 

E dward sucked in a breath of air, “Bella.”

 

Get out!” I yelled, hot angry tears falling down my face.

 

Bella, please. Let me explain.” He tried to take another small step towards me.

 

GET OUT!” I screeched and reached for the closest thing to me, my small digital alarm clock. I grasped it in my scarred hand and launched it at Edward, it hit him square in the chest and broke into a thousand pieces against his stony skin. “Get out! Get out! GET OUT!” I was sobbing now and the movements made the pains in my body worse.

 

I f Edward could cry I knew he would be, “Bella, I’m sorry.”

 

In a blur of movement and a gust of wind he was gone. As soon as he was out of sight it felt like my chest had been ripped open and all my organs were on display. I laid back on the bed and curled my arms around my midsection, trying desperately to hold myself together. I wailed loudly, my sobs turning into strangled screams. I loved him. I loved him so much it hurt . Even though he was the source of my agony all I wanted to do was hold him close and never let him go.

 

B ut he was gone. I had told him to leave. Oh my god I told him to go. Why would I do that!? I couldn’t lose him, not again, never again. My breath hitched in my throat, and I hiccuped at I scrambled to sit up. I quickly found my phone on my bedside table and with watery eyes and shaking hands I dialled Edward’s number.

 

I t hadn’t even finished the first ring before he answered. “Bella?”

 

Come back.”

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

I sat on the edge of my bed, clutching my phone in my hands as if it were a life-line and I was lost at sea. I had asked, no told Edward to come back and the n hung up the phone before I could hear his response. I didn’t want to hear it. I don’t think I could have handled it if he had said no. I didn’t think he could have gotten far, and I was expecting him to come back pretty quickly. So when nothing happened I started to lose hope. I kept waiting for him to suddenly appear in front of me with a blur of speed and a subtle gust of wind, but there was nothing. I sighed and ran a hand down my face, and was pulled out of my pity part y by a soft brr .

 

I looked down to see Anthony sniffing at the small puddle of bile on the floor. “Oh no, Anthony. Leave it.” I tried to shoo him away. He wrinkled his nose at the bitter smell and trotted away, obviously displeased that my puke wasn’t a tasty snack. I sighed and grabbed a handful of Kleenex and did my best to mop up the mess. I manage d to get most of it cleaned and I toss ed the dirty Kleenex into the waste bin next to my night stand.

 

E dward still wasn’t back, and I couldn’t keep sitting there just waiting for him to return. I glanced around my room looking for my crutches and scowled when I saw them balanced against the wall near my vanity. Edward had been acting as a human crutch for the last week, so I hadn’t needed them. Or was it vampire crutch?

 

F uck. How could I forget about vampires .

 

That seemed like a really important thing to remember. I had forgotten a lot about myself, like if I preferred milk in my tea or not. Turns out I didn’t like tea at all. But to forget that there was a species of blood-sucking super humans roaming the earth? I groaned as I recalled ‘meeting’ the Cullen’s a month ago. What did they think of me ?

 

I took a deep breath to steal my nerves and pushed off the bed. I placed my weight solely on my good side as I glared at my crutches. I could do this, it was two steps… maybe three. I slowly moved my foot forwards and gingerly took a step. I quickly remov ed the weight from my bad hip as fast as I dared. I wasn’t walking so much as I was doing a sort of stuttering hop, but it worked well enough and I reached my crutches with minimal issues.

 

I grabbed them and stuffed the hard rubber under my armpits and slowly made my way to the kitchen. I much preferred Edward’s help than the cumbersome crutches.

 

W hen I got to the kitchen Anthony was screaming at me for breakfast, “Yeah, yeah I hear you.” I muttered angrily, which led Anthony to look at me and make a confused Brrt noise. I sighed as I pulled out some dry kibble from the cupboard and filled a small metal bowl. “ I’m sorry, boy. I’m not mad at you.” I mumbled as I tried to lower the bowl to the ground. I couldn’t bend all the way and ended up having to drop the bowl the last few inches. It clattered noisily and some of the kibble was scattered around the kitchen. Anthony didn’t seem to mind and started to purr loudly as he ate.

 

I watched Anthony eat for a moment while I contemplated what I should make for myself. A loud knock on my door made my heart leap into my throat at the same time my stomach seemed to fall out onto the floor. I moved as quickly as I could on my crutches as I crossed the small cottage.

 

I threw open the front door with all my strength. It wasn’t who I was expecting, it wasn’t Edward waiting for me at my door step. My crutches clattered noisily to the ground as I dropped them and threw my arms around the tiny v ampire in front of me. “ Alice!”

 

A lice caught me with a surprised giggle, her small arms circling my waist and holding me up. “ Hey Bella.” she laughed in my ear.

 

I wasn’t ready to let her go yet, so I just held her to me. How could I forget Alice? Forget my best friend? “ I’ve missed you.” The words were mumbled as I pressed myself against her.

 

I’ve missed you too!” She chirped happily.

 

I finally pulled away and I had to take a deep breath to calm myself down. I looked down to my crutches and instantly knew I had no hope of trying to retrieve them, so I just held onto Alice’s arms for balance. “ What are you doing here?” I blurted out, then grimaced at how rude that sound ed. “ I mean… Just… Edward…?” Tears started to prick at my eyes, even though I was trying my best to remain cool, calm, and collected. Did he not want to see me again? Had he sent Alice to tell me that he had meant what he said all those years ago in the woods in Forks? That the last month was just some sort of sick game, or twisted hobby?

 

Hey there,” Alice cooed softly, “It’s alright. Edward’s on his way, I promise. He had run a long ways away before you called, but he’ll be back.” She said the last sentence with such surety that I had no choice but to believe her. She must have seen it. “Besides, we wanted to check on you first anyway. Make sure you were alright.”

 

We?” I asked as a puzzled expression covered my face, eyebrows pulling together and head tilting to the side slightly.

 

Hello, Bella.” A smooth voice said from behind Alice and I looked over her shoulder to see Carlisle standing there.

 

Carlisle!” I crowed and didn’t think before I tried to take a step towards him. In all the excitement I had momentarily forgotten about the pain in my hip, and when I placed my full weight on the still healing joint I stumbled forward. I put my hands out in front of me, fulling expecting for my face to meet the dirt, but instead there was a flurry of movement and a gust of wind and I found myself in Carlisle’s arms.

 

Careful there, sweetheart.” He chuckled as he helped me to right myself.

 

I pulled Carlisle into a warm hug which he returned, “I missed you.” I mumbled as a hot blush of embarrassment coloured my cheeks.

 

You only saw me last week.” He jested as we pulled out of the embrace.

 

Yeah, but that doesn’t really count.” I shrugged shyly, “I didn’t know who you were at the time.”

 

C arlisle smiled sadly at me, “Lets get you inside, hmm?”

 

Without having to be asked Alice slips her arm around my body and takes all my weight as she helps me limp into my cottage. We move d into the small kitchen and Alice lower ed me down onto one of the chairs. “ Why do I need to be check ed on?” I asked as I watched Carlisle open up a black leather doctor’s bag on my dining table.

 

Edward said you had a seizure. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Carlisle answered me as he slowly rifled through his bag.

 

I feel fine.” The automatic response came flying out of my mouth without any input from my brain. Carlisle looked at me with a concerned frown on his face, clearly not believing my hasty lie. Of course I don’t feel fine, I haven’t felt fine in over three years.

 

Lets just make sure, alright?” He pulled out a stethoscope and sticks the buds in his ears. I scooted forward in my chair a little bit so he could listen to my lungs and heart. I knew the drill, and I was already expecting a pretty standard neuro exam. Carlisle put his stethoscope away and he moved a chair so he could sit in front of me. “Follow my finger.” He instructed as he moved his finger from one side of my face to the other, and I followed it with my eyes. “Good.” Carlisle nodded before pulling out a pen light. He flashes it in each of my eyes and I do my best not to flinch away from the bright light. Carlisle hummed approvingly and nodded to himself.

 

G reat. Carlisle was one of those doctors. I never expected it from him, but there you go. I figured out pretty quickly that there are three types of doctors. There’s the ones are are patronising and condescending and act like they are the smartest person in the room just because they have a medical degree. Then there’s the ones who explain what they are doing as they are doing it, they answer questions and treat you like a human being instead of just a body of flesh to investigate and diagnose and cut open. Then there’s the third kind, arguably the worst kind. The ones who barely talk and just poke and prod and offer no explanation as to what they are doing and why. It seemed that Carlisle was the third type.

 

I had been through this type of exam before, so I knew what he was doing and why, but Carlisle had no way of knowing that and it was irritating the way he kept moving and checking me over without saying a single word. He took both my hands in his, “Squeeze my hands as hard as you can.” I bite the inside of my cheek and do as he asked. I try to remind myself that it’s not Carlisle fault, he’s not a bad doctor, and most people wouldn’t be bothered by his bedside manner. I just have a chip on my shoulder. Carlisle moved to check my legs and I couldn’t help myself as I scooted away.

 

Stop, Carlisle. It’s fine. I’m fine.” I tried to keep the irritation out of my voice but it bled through anyway.

 

Bella, you should really let me finish my examination. Make sure there’s no lasting damage.” Carlisle’s tone was firm, its the exact same no-nonsense doctor voice I have heard a thousand times and it causes anger to flare in my chest and I snap.

 

Lasting damage?” I scoffed, my face twisting into a sarcastic sneer. “Carlisle, I have a titanium plate in one leg, pins in the other, and my rib cage is held together with wire. I’m missing a kidney and a good portion of my bowel, and I don’t have a spleen. I’m pretty sure we are well past the point of worrying about lasting damage. So can you please just stop!I’m not sure when I started yelling, but when I finished my mini rant my face was red and Carlisle and Alice were staring at me in total shock. I was breathing heavily, and I tried to slow my breaths down in an attempt to quell my anger.

 

C arlisle and Alice share d a look, it was brief and I almost missed it. Concern, shock and hurt flit over their faces and I sigh ed sadly. “ Sorry.” I mumbled as I pulled a hand through my hair, “That wasn’t fair. It’s just, at this point falling over and blacking out for a couple of minutes isn’t really that big of a deal.” I could tell my weak explanation wasn’t cutting it, but thankfully neither of them pushed it.

 

C arlisle’s eyes flickered towards the door, and I notice that Alice turned to face the door as well. I frown in confusion before I heard a three gentle knocks. I want to call out ‘come in’ but a lump formed in my throat, and I could hardly breathe let alone speak.

 

C arlisle st ood up and placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, he squeezed it gently before both him and Alice walk ed over to the door. Carlisle open ed the door and I c ould see Edward standing there, he look ed over Carlisle’s shoulder and we ma de eye contact and it felt like a thousand tiny lightening strikes were hitting me all at once.

 

I’ll see you later, Bella!” Alice chirped, waving at me happily before disappearing out the door.

 

C arlisle and Edward share a moment of silence, and I watch as Edward nods at whatever Carlisle was thinking. “Thank you,” I only just hear Edward’s mumbled words.

 

Carlisle turn ed and lower ed his head in farewell before he too is gone in a blur of speed.

 

Edward doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself. He stands there in the doorway, shifting from one foot to the other. I want to make a joke about how I thought that the whole ‘vampires have to be invited in’ thing was a myth, but I still couldn’t get my mouth to work properly.

 

Hey,” Edward greeted me from the door way, and then grimaced to himself.

 

It occurred to me that he was just as nervous as I was, and it made my chest ache.

 

 

You better come in and sit down. We really need to talk.”

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

I tried to keep my face blank as I watched Edward move towards me. His movements were both stiff and graceful and totally inhuman and I wondered how in the hell had I not noticed it before . Looking at him now, with my memories returned to me, it was so painfully obvious he wasn’t human. Was I just totally blind? Or was I wilfully ignorant? Maybe the desire to be desired, the desperate yearning to belong somewhere had led me to ignore all the parts of Edward that were otherworldly and strange.

 

I kept my eyes trained on him as he slowly lowered himself to a chair on the other side of the table. I was grateful for the distance, for the solid piece of wood that separated us. I was worried that if we were any closer that I wouldn’t be able to get through the oncoming conversation without jumping into his arms and begging him to never leave me again. Because that’s what I so desperately wanted to do, I wanted to feel his arms around me, to feel his cool lips against mine. But I also wanted answers. I needed an explanation.

 

F uck, I deserved an explanation.

 

And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. I was downright furious. There were still holes plaguing my mind, missing time that I had no answers for, but in spite of that I knew that if Edward had stayed I wouldn’t be in my current situation. I would still have my memories, I would still have a body that didn’t betray me everyday, I would still have my Dad .

 

Bella,” Edward spoke after the silence began to grow around us. “I don’t know what to say.”

 

M y eyes flashed with anger that bordered on contempt. With those pitiful words my broiling anger won out over my desire to hold him, to love him and be loved in return. “ You can start by telling me why .” I spat out the words.

 

 

Why?” Edward echoed, his brows furrowed in confusion.

 

 

I clenched my jaw as fury and outrage coursed through my body, I wish I had something else to throw at him. “ Why did you leave me? Why did you pick me up off the highway? Why have you stuck around for the past month?” My voice was steadily growing louder and louder with each unanswered question, and I realised that I was yelling at him. I didn’t care, I stared him down as I continued to shout questions at him. “Why, when I was laying in a hospital bed, scared and alone and wanting to die, did you not come back to me then? Why did you not tell me who you were straight away? Why did you lie to me? WHY!?” I bashed the side of my closed fist on the kitchen table and the loud noise reverberated around the otherwise quiet kitchen, it startled Anthony who let out a short surprised hiss before scampering off down the hall.

 

 

I watched as my cat sprinted away, little paws scratching on the hardwood, and I winced and se n t him a silent apology. I turned back to look at Edward, and even though his face was an emotionless mask I could see the pain and hurt in his eyes. That caused a conflict of emotions inside of me. It hurt to see his pain, and I wanted to comfort him, but it also made me irrationally angry. What did he had to be upset about? This was all his fault to begin with.

 

 

 

E dward took a deep breath, and then another one. I just sat there in my quiet anger as I waited for him to speak. Finally he did. “ I left to protect you.” Came his mumbled reply, I scoffed and went to make a sarcastic remark about how well that turned out, but Edward continued to speak before I could. “ I know. I know now that that was a mistake. I never should have left you.”

 

You said that you didn’t want me anymore, that you didn’t love me.” I tried my best to repeat the words he had spoken to me all those years ago with the same burning anger that I had used before, but a lump had formed in my throat and made the words come out as a pitiful whimper.

 

I lied.” Edward quickly replied.

 

Yeah, you’re good at that.” I sneered, and when Edward winced at my words I was over washed with a sense of satisfaction and regret. It felt like I was of two minds, like my body and soul were battling against each other. I wanted to see Edward hurt, to see him experience even a fraction of the pain I had endured over the last few years. I also never wanted to see him in pain, I wanted to protect him from the worst of the world. I was sure that I had weathered enough storms for the both of us.

 

E dward’s eyes flickered down to stare at the table top for a moment before he looked up again to meet my eye. “ When I stopped on the highway that night, I didn’t know it was you. Not until you were already in the car.”

 

Okay, so then you must have realised that I didn’t remember you. And then what? Why didn’t you say anything?” I demanded.

 

I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to lose you again.” He answered softly, his eyes warm and glistening with love.

 

 

The air in my lungs whooshed out of me in a disbelieving breath. “You… you didn’t want to-” I cut myself off and shook my head angrily. I wanted to move, I wanted to stand up and pace and throw things and rage, but the aching pain in my hip wasn’t going to let me do that so I was left stuck in that kitchen chair as I trembled with barely controlled outrage. “ You didn’t want to lose me again, even though it’s your own goddamn fault you lost me to begin with! I didn’t mean to screech the words at him. “ You had the power to give me back my memories, to fill in years of missing time and instead you kept it to yourself?! ” Hot angry tears started to streak down my face and my breath shuddered as I tried to take deep breaths of air to calm myself down. I have never heard something so selfish .” I mumbled the sentence as I tried to wipe away my tears, but they were replaced just as quickly.

 

Edward sighed and I watched through watery eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose, You’re right, of course. I’m essentially a very selfish creature, I told you as much when we first met.” Edward stood up and started to move towards the door.

 

Where are you going!?” I demanded in a shrill squeak.

 

E dward paused and looked over his shoulder, taking in my expression before he turned completely around. “ I was going to leave. Clearly I have hurt you too much, destroyed any chance I have of you accepting me again.” His words were calm, final, but I could detect a dejected sadness in the undertones.

 

You don’t get to do that!” I argued, “You don’t get to decide just to walk off again! You can’t just come back into my life like a supernatural tornado, breaking everything in your path, just to pack up and leave again!” I wanted to sound strong and demanding, but the words came out more whimpering and pleading. “You have to stay. Stay and fix what you broke.”

 

 

You want me to stay?” He asked, clearly not believing me but still hoping that I meant what I said.

 

 

Of course I want you to stay!” I pleaded as he moved back to his chair across the table from me. “Edward, I love you. I’m really pissed and angry at you right now, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m completely and irrevocably in love with you.” I placed my hand palm up on the table between us, and Edward quickly placed his hand over mine, his long fingers brushed against the pulse point in my wrist before he intertwined our fingers.

 

I don’t deserve your love.”

 

Probably not. But you’ve got it anyway.”

Chapter Text

Bella’s POV

 

 

 

We sat there for a n age , and I listened as the second hand on the kitchen clock ticked rhythmically showing that against all evidence to the contrary, time was still moving. I decided that for that moment, I could let my anger at Edward take the back seat. Instead I chose to just relish in his touch. Edward’s hand still gripped mine, the long perfect fingers of a pianist interlocked with my own. I bit my lip and I gently pulled my hand out of Edward’s, I didn’t miss the small frown on his lips but I didn’t wait for him to do or say anything before I was moving again.

 

I brought my right hand up off where it had been resting on my knee and with two hands I held Edward’s still. With slow and methodical movements I traced along every small crease on his palm with my fingertip, I then followed the length of each finger before I turned his hand over in mine. I placed his hand palm down in my own, and I gently started my exploration all over again. With the lightest of touches I grazed over each of his fingertips noting his perfectly shaped nails before I ghosted over the slightly raised veins on the back of his hand. I placed my hand over his, my hand that was void of scars save for one. One that had always been a mystery and a source of confusion- James’ bite mark.

 

T he ticking of the clock continued, unaware that it was marking some of the most amazing seconds of my life.

 

Are you going to tell me my fortune?” Edward whispered, and his voice was so quiet I wasn’t sure I had heard him at all. I looked up from our hands to stare at his face, there was a small smile there, it was a weak smile. It was as if he wasn’t sure he should be smiling at all, or if he wanted to cry instead. I understood that feeling all too well.

 

Maybe we should ask Alice,” I murmured back,

 

 

E dward remained still, as if he were afraid to move. “She really missed you.”

 

I frowned and started to absentmindedly trace circles on the back of Edward’s hand with my thumb. “It didn’t stop her from staying away from me, though.” I muttered, the anger slowly dripping back into the foreground.

 

I told her not to contact you. I told all of them to leave you alone.” Edward immediately defended his sister, but there was no heat in his words, only sadness. “If you’re going to be angry at someone, be angry at me.”

 

Don’t worry, I am.” I mumbled, and I felt as Edward’s hand twitched a tiny amount. I clenched and then unclenched my jaw, “These past few years…. I could have really used a friend.” I thought back to how the hospital administration said they could release me, only if I had someone to stay with who could look after me. I remembered the looks of pity when I said there was no one, and then all the insurance paperwork I had to fill out so I could become a long term resident in their rehab wing.

 

I am so sorry.”

 

It’s not enough.” I mumbled, and this time Edward’s hand didn’t just twitch, it tensed. Suddenly I wasn’t holding a hand, I was holding a hand shaped stone. I took in Edward’s expression, one he was clearly trying very hard to hide, he couldn’t though. Not from me. It was heartbreak. I hurried to explain myself before this miscommunication led to him running off again. “I just mean, saying sorry isn’t enough, Edward. Sorry is just a word.” I shrugged.

 

E dward’s hand relaxed in mine again, and I watched as his other hand slowly came up as if to cup my cheek, but he stopped himself with his hand suspended in the air. I smiled sadly and leaned into his palm and I watched as Edward released a sigh of relief. “ I’ll show you, everyday if you’ll let me.” He vowed.

 

I closed my eyes and stifled a yawn, the tidal wave of anger was now a small wave, gently lapping, and the aftermath of that torrential current had left me emotionally exhausted. Edward didn’t miss anything, and when I opened my eyes I saw how his eyebrows had raised dramatically. “ You’re tired.” He said, not asked. “Would you like to rest?”

 

No.” I quickly said, “I’d like some coffee, and I would like to keep talking.”

 

E dward frowned, but he seemed to think better than to argue with me before he got up and started to make coffee.

 

I bit my bottom lip as I thought about my next question, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know the answer or not. I watched as the water boiled, I watched as Edward filled the french press with ground coffee beans and I watched as he poured the water over them. By the time the coffee was steeped and the hot cup was in front of me I had managed to find the courage to ask. “Did… Alice see?” I mumbled as I stared down into my cup.

 

See?” Edward echoed,

 

Yeah, see. See the crash, see how it happened? See me in the hospital?” I took a slow sip off the coffee, it burned its way down my throat and I felt a little better having something else to focus on.

 

No… no, Bella she didn’t. I swear, if she had I would have been there.” Edward replied and I looked over at him, he had taken his seat again across from me.

 

Really?” I asked in a disbelieving tone.

 

E dward’s face fell, a pained look crossed his face. “ You doubt that I would have? You don’t think that if I had known that I would be there for you?” He demanded.

 

I don’t know what to think!” I snapped, and I had to put my coffee down so I wasn’t tempted to throw the steaming liquid in his face. “You left me! You left me and it felt like I was dying, like I couldn’t breathe.” I tried to swallow around the lump in my throat.

 

I told you. I thought I was protecting you.” Edward replied, his voice was strained but I couldn’t tell if it was pain or agitation.

 

That doesn’t make it okay!” I stared at him as I yelled, and I tried to take a deep breath so I could speak at a reasonable level. “Edward,” I sighed his name, “There’s…. gaps. Holes in my memories, missing time and everything is all… so jumbled up. I don’t know what to think.” I bit the inside of my cheek, using the sharp pain to try and ground myself in reality. “After everything that’s happened… all the lies and the crazy supernatural nonsense….” I paused as I felt my heart thud in my chest and my next words came out as a whispered confession, “I don’t know what’s real anymore or what is made up. I don’t know what the truth is, and what’s a lie.

 

I heard Edward take in a sharp breath, but I couldn’t force myself to look at him. I remembered more now than I ever had before, and with that knowledge I was beginning to look at my nightmares with a new perspective. I just wasn’t sure if it was the truth, “I remember the party, and I remember you leaving. And I remember how… empty I felt. But then there’s just…. So much missing time I can’t account for. An entire year of my life is still missing, before I wake up in that fucking hospital bed, and I guess…. I guess I was just hoping that maybe Alice had seen something, anything that could help it all make sense.”

 

You don’t remember the accident?” Edward asked gently,

 

I shook my head before I took a sip of coffee and put my cup back on the table. “ I don’t remember, but I have had nightmares about it, not sure if its the same thing or not.”

 

Tell me?” Edward pleaded.

 

Why? What does it matter now?” I muttered, I had other more important things I wanted to talk about. I thought back to all of our interactions over the past month, and considered them under the new light of my rediscovered memories. My cheeks instantly flushed red as a particular interaction came to mind. “You…. You helped me out of the bath.” I manage to mutter out the words, unwilling to meet his eyes I just stared into my half empty coffee cup as I swirled the black liquid around.

 

Yes…. I did.” Edward replied carefully, and I looked through my lashes to see him cautiously studying my reaction.

 

I frowned as I tried to sort out the muddy memories in my head, the days spent in the meadow and the nights he had spent in my room. “ I remember…. You could never stand to be close to me for too long. Is that right? Or am I remembering wrong?” I finally looked up to meet his eyes properly, I needed to know the answer. I needed to know if my new found memories were lying to me or not, because the way Edward was now was a complete juxtaposition to how I remembered him. I thought back to our heated kiss on the sofa, and the way his hands had gripped my arms and ghosted on the underside of my breasts before trailing down to my hip. The Edward in my memories would never had dared to touch me like that.

 

You’re remembering correctly,” Edward seemed almost ashamed to admit.

 

What changed?” I demanded quickly, “When you kissed me the other day, you touched me in ways you never would have before.”

 

What changed was I experienced what life was like without you.” Edward replied, and he put his hand on the table between us as an offering like I had done before. I couldn’t stop myself from placing my palm in his. “Life without you was like…. Like a half life. Everything was dark and my only solace was the thought of you out there, living your life, happy and free and human.I frowned and was about to voice my confusion, but Edward kept talking before I could. “That was also part of why I left… I thought you would be able to move on… to live a normal life, to find a husband and have children. I wanted that for you.” Edward was looking at our joined hands as he spoke.

 

Well, that’s stupid.” I grumbled.

 

E dward barked out a surprised laugh, “What?”

 

Well, I mean put aside the whole car crash and amnesia thing for a moment. Why would you ever think that I would want to love anyone else? How could you even think that I could?” I shook my head and with my free hand I quickly down the rest of my now lukewarm coffee, “And even if you’d never come back into my life, even if I had never gotten my memories, it’s not like any of that was an option anymore anyway.” I scoffed.

 

What are you talking about, Bella? Why wouldn’t that be an option?” Edward’s voice had grown pained again, his hand tightening around mine. As if the thought that he was once again denying me some strange human fantasy life physically pained him. Well, time to show him the absurdity of that.

 

A normal life?” I scoffed as I rolled my eyes, “Seriously, Edward? Do you understand the level of pain that I put up with on a daily basis? There is nothing normal about it, there is also nothing that can be done to fix it either. And a husband? Who would want to marry me? With the way I look?” I watched as Edward opened his mouth to argue with me, but I just spoke louder so my point could be put across without interruption. “I know, I know. You think I’m beautiful, well news flash, I’m not. And finally, children? Even if I could have kids, I wouldn’t want to. I can barely look after myself and my cat, I wouldn’t want to inflict my parenting on an innocent child.”

 

I watched as Edward took in everything I just said, his jaw clenched a small amount before he said. “ You can’t have children?”

 

T hat’s what he focused on? Alright. “ They had to remove my uterus after the crash, there was too much damage and it was easier to just take it out instead of try an d repair it.” I shrugged, “There were a lot of internal injuries, and apparently it’s better to just… remove some things than waste time on fixing them.”

 

And that didn’t upset you?”

 

I was kinda focused on the whole ‘can’t remember who I am’ thing at the time.” I replied sarcastically.

 

Silence fell around us again, and a new question popped into my head. I wanted to ask, but I could remember Edward’s anger when I had asked him before . Fuck it. I deserve d to know. “ Edward?” I spoke, and he looked up from staring at our hands to meet my eyes. “ If I asked you to change me, would you?” I felt Edward’s hand tensed and tightened under mine.

 

Are you asking?” He replied and I wasn’t sure if I was amused or annoyed at him answering a question with a question.

 

Maybe,” I tried to shrug like it was no big deal, but I was sure that my jack hammer heart beat had given me away.

 

I could never deny you anything, Bella. Not again… so if you asked…. Yes. I would say yes.”

 

So you’d change me out of guilt, then?” I replied, and I watched as his face morphed into one of horror.

 

No, I would do it because you asked. Because I would do anything for you, Bella. I would give you the moon and the stars if I could, I-” Edward’s little rant was cut off by my surprised giggle and he looked at me like I had finally lost the last shred of my sanity, hell maybe I had.

 

Sorry… Sorry,” I took a deep breath to try and stop my laughter, but another burst of laughter came out of me before I could get myself under control. “Just, that is super cheesy.”

 

A cautious smile curled at Edward lips and his shoulders shook as he chuckled gently, “I suppose it is,” He relented, “I mean it though.” He said seriously, “Anything. Anything at all Bella, and I’ll do everything in my power to make it yours.” There was no humour in his tone, this wasn’t some empty promise he was making on a whim. Edward’s voice was deadly calm, and his eyes seemed to be begging me to understand the depths of his vow.

 

I thought about that for a moment, letting his words sink in. I thought about the stack of medical bills that ate away at almost all of my paycheck each month. I thought about the fact I couldn’t bring myself to get behind the wheel of a car and had to rely on people to drive me everywhere, or else walk. How convenient would it be to have a chauffeur? I remembered the Cullen’s obscene amount of wealth, and how that money could make my life so much easier .

 

Can I ask you something?”

 

Anything.” He stressed.

 

Were you ever planning on saying anything? I mean…. You must have thought about it? You couldn’t stick around forever or I would eventually notice the no ageing thing…. So what exactly was your plan there?”

 

E dward looked slightly embarrassed, “Honestly? I didn’t really have much of a plan. I just was enjoying spending time with you, I couldn’t believe you were back in my life again. I figured that one day you might remember, and I figured that you would send me away. But until then?” He shrugged.

 

I’m not going to send you away.” I sighed sadly, “I don’t think I could live without you.” I felt Edward squeeze my hand and I returned the gesture. “Even before I remembered anything…” I furrowed my brow as I tried to think of the right words to explain how I felt. “All these years, I felt… hollow. And then you came along and it was like I was complete again, I know it’s stupid and it’s definitely not healthy.” I scoffed and chuckled humorlessly, “Actually I’m pretty sure its the definition of co-dependent, but I don’t really care.”

 

It’s not stupid.” Edward murmured as he stared at me, his intense gaze made me shift in my seat a little bit and I winced at the sharp pull on my muscles. “Are you alright?” He frowned at me.

 

Yeah, I think I have just been sitting for too long.” I sighed, I turned my head and stared at the crutches that were still on the floor near the entry way, I looked back to Edward. “Help me up?” My question came out in an uncertain squeak, and Edward’s face lit up at the request.

 

T here was a blur of movement, and in less than a second Edward was at my side. I couldn’t stop the surprised flinch at his sudden appearance. “ Sorry,” Edward murmured, his bright smile from a moment ago gone just as quickly as he had moved.

 

No… no it’s alright. It’ll just take some getting used to.” I smiled up at him and raised my arms waiting for him to help me up. I knew I was strong enough now that I could probably get myself up off the chair by bracing myself on the table, but I wanted an excuse to touch him. Edward returned my smile, but it was soft and sad. Subdued. I looked him over quickly and I noticed how tense he seemed. The past couple of hours had been arduous, for both of us, and I desperately wanted things to go back to the way they were before. Even if it was only for a moment. I wanted the happy and laughing Edward. The jokes and the gentle teasing, the casual touches and caresses. I wanted to lay on the sofa and watch as Edward read a book while Anthony sat purring in his lap. Just for a moment, just for now. It was the only thing in the world that I wanted.

 

E dward bent down and scooped his arms under mine, his long limbs circled around my body and instantly I felt safe. I pulled my arms over his shoulders and around his neck for balance as I stood up, Edward took most of the weight and together we slowly moved into an upright position.

 

 

My hip was not happy. It had been a week since the dislocation and I knew from past experience that the muscles and ligaments were still healing, but I also knew that laying around immobile would only hinder my recovery. I took a deep breath and removed my arms from around Edward’s neck, placing them on his muscled arms for balance I looked up at him. “ I need to walk around a little.”

 

Are you sure?” He sounded so worried, scared even.

 

Completely sure.” I nodded, “Just… keep an arm around me? Like you normally do.”

 

The hard, strained set of Edward’s shoulders seemed to relax at my words. Normal . That’s what I wanted. I wanted everything to just go back to normal.

 

A s Edward slowly helped me walk circles in my small cottage, I couldn’t help but wonder. What did normal look like now? Would normal be me, working at Jim’s and coming home to a vampire boyfriend and our pet cat? Or would normal be me, un-dead and perfect, living a life where I would never have to feel pain ever again?

 

W e started a second lap of the room, and I kept my thoughts to myself. For that moment, I was just happy to feel Edward’s arm around my waist as he helped me stretch out my sore muscles. Everything else could wait.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

I felt a little better after having taken three laps around my living room. I wasn’t sure if it was because I had burnt off some of the nervous and angry energy, or if it was because Edward was so close. I clenched my teeth against the dull ache in my hip as Edward lowered me down onto the sofa.

 

Is there… is there anything I can get for you?” Edward pulled a hand through his hair, and he looked so unsure of himself.

 

I thought about it for a moment. The day had continued on and it was approaching the afternoon, I hadn’t eaten anything and I knew that I should be hungry, but I had absolutely no appetite. I knew exactly what would fix that problem.

 

Could you grab something for me?” I asked as I stuffed a throw pillow behind the small of my back in an attempt to lessen the strain on my muscles.

 

Anything. What is it?” Edward replied eagerly. I resisted the urge to frown, this… this wouldn’t work. We couldn’t have a relationship when he was always walking on eggshells around me, balancing on a knifes edge so desperate to please me. That’s not how relationships worked. Edward didn’t deserve that, it was completely unfair.

 

I bit my lip, one problem at a time. “ In the second draw of my night stand there’s a little wooden box, would you fetch it for me?”

 

E dward nodded once before he was nothing more than a blur, and then he was back again, kneeling in front of me between the sofa and the coffee table. He offered me the little box like a devout man making an offering before his god, his eyes wide and so desperate to please . T he lid was carved with intricate Celtic knots around the boarder, and was kept closed by a little bronze latch . “Thanks.” I smiled, Edward returned the smile and stood up so he could sit next to me.

 

I lifted the little bronze latch and opened the box, taking a moment to look over the contents. A little Zip-lock bag was tucked on one side, the pale green label clearly showing the name Happy High Herbs Dispensary, Seattle WA. Nestled in the box was also a packet of rolling papers, a herb grinder, a small bag of dried lavender flowers in a baggy from the same dispensary, a little ornate wooden smoking pipe, and a couple of spare cigarette lighters. I unrolled the mostly empty packet of weed, and pulled open the zip-lock, I frowned slightly when I saw I only had a small little bud left. I would need to put an order in soon, since it would take a few days to get here.

 

I pulled sticky plant out of the bag and broke it into pieces before putting it in the grinder with a couple of the lavender flowers.

 

What’s that for?” Edward spoke up suddenly and the disruption to my ritual made me jump slightly.

 

Uh… which bit?” I asked, looking down at my little box of drug paraphernalia. It occurred to me then how odd this must be for Edward. I was the daughter of a cop, and when Edward knew me in high school I was as straight laced as they came, and just because pot was legal now doesn’t mean that people were automatically okay with it. I didn’t even think twice when I had asked him to fetch the box for me, but now I was beginning to.

 

The lavender flowers.” Edward clarified, a slender finger reached out and gently touched one of the pale purple blooms that was sticking out of the grinder.

 

Oh, I mix it in with the weed. Makes it last longer,” I paused and gave Edward a wry smile, “and taste a little better.”

 

E dward chuckled lightly and nodded his understanding. “ You seem to be out?” He raised an eyebrow at the now empty packet.

 

I pushed closed the grinder, and started twisting it back and forth. “Yeah… I didn’t realise I was almost out.” I shrugged, “I will have to get online and order some more soon.”

 

Why not just go to Seattle?” Edward asked as I continued to mince the herbs together.

 

Me and what car?” I replied sarcastically. I opened the grinder to check my progress. Nope, too lumpy.

 

My car.” Edward replied quickly, “I would be happy to take you. We could make a weekend of it even, get a hotel room and see the sites.” Edward’s voice was light and excited, his happiness shining through.

 

A hotel room?” I asked in a teasing tone, and I ignored the blush that rose to my cheeks and instead focused on grinding my smoke to a lump free mix. “You wouldn’t be trying to bed me now, would you?” I teased, calling on the antiquated words he had used in his text so many weeks ago.

 

E dward made a shocked half-choked sound. “ Bella! ” He admonished, and I looked at him from the corner of my eye before winking at him. His eyes grew wide with alarm, and I was sure if he was capable of it he would be blushing harder than I was.

 

I opened the grinder and now that I was satisfied that the mix was milled to perfection I picked up the carved pip e it was small, smaller than most I had seen online, and was about the length of my palm . With nimble fingers I pitched some of the mixture and packed it into the bowl of the pipe, “ I’m just teasing you, Edward.” I muttered around my smirk and blazing blush. “I… I know that-” I cut myself off from what I was about to say. I was going to say something about how I knew that I wasn’t desirable. That between my lack of experience and the sheer number of disfiguring scars that littered my body I knew that I wasn’t going to be the object of anyone’s fantasies. Except I remembered what he had whispered to me the other day on this very sofa, how he wanted to see my body. How he desired me.

 

I cleared my throat and busied myself in making sure I wasn’t over packing the pipe, “ I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable,” I ended up mumbling as I took the pipe in one hand and grabbed a lighter with the other. I lifted the pipe to my lips, only to be stopped my Edward’s cool hand on my forearm.

 

That isn’t what you were going to say.” He accused gently, as if he was imploring me to tell him what I was originally going to say.

 

I sighed, “I was going to say… that I know you don’t want me like that.” I mumbled the words and quickly put the pipe back to my lips, and hastily lit it before he could stop me again. I sucked in a lung full of air through the pipe, the embers burning hot as I pulled the smoke into my lungs.

 

Bella,” He said my name in a soft sigh.

 

I was glad now for the smoke in my lungs, holding it there gave me reason not to speak for a moment. Eventually I felt the burn in my chest, and spots appeared in my vision and I released the smoke in a slow breath. I took a clean breath of air and release it in a sigh, coughing slightly. “I know, Edward.” I brought the pipe back to my lips, pulling in another lungful of smoke until the embers in the pipe were only ash.

 

Bella… I have told you that I think you are beautiful… told you how much I desire you. Why don’t you believe me?” He murmured,

 

I bit my lip as I ignored him. I emptied the ash into the empty baggy, and started to slowly re-fill the pipe.

 

Bella? Please talk to me.” Edward begged, his voiced was strained and it caused a painful lump to form in my throat.

 

I sighed as I set the pipe back in the little box, and then leaned forward to put the box on the coffee table. I shifted in my seat so I was facing Edward. I reached for his hand and tried to pull it towards me, but it was like I was trying to manipulate a marble statue. I looked into Edward’s eyes, a silent question passed between us, and then I tried again. This time Edward allowed me to take his hand.

 

I raised it and placed it on the marbled flesh of my forearm, flesh that was raised and pockmarked. I slowly started to drift his hand up my arm, following the path of the scars. “ You-” My voice broke around the word and I cleared my throat before I tried again, “You think this is beautiful?” I whispered as I continued to press his hand against my skin. I raised it up to my shoulder, and then forced him to feel how the burn scar curved up around the back of my neck like the flicker of a flame.

 

I let my hand drop, but Edward didn’t move his. He kept his hand pressed gently to the back of my neck. “ Yes. I do.”

 

Then you’re a damn liar.” I muttered bitterly.

 

Edward sighed sadly, “I wish you could see yourself the way I do.” Edward shifted closer, and I could feel him pressing lightly on the back of my neck, coaxing me closer.

 

My eyes fluttered closed and I felt Edward’s lips against mine. I kissed him back, and as his ice cold lips moved against mine it felt like my body was besieged by a roaring wildfire. I gasped in a breath and I moved one hand to rest on his chest as the other reached up to tangle in his hair. Warmth spread throughout my limbs, and I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the weed or if it was Edward.

 

P robably both.

 

My hazy teenage memories told me that this would usually be the point that Edward would pull away, creating space between us. I didn’t want that to happen this time, I wanted to feel him, I needed to feel him against me. The hand on his chest curled around his shirt in a tight fist, and I tugged on it in a hopeless attempt to bring him closer to me. Much to my surprise, and delight, Edward allowed me to pull him towards me.

 

 

My head felt fuzzy as I slowly started to lay down on the sofa, bringing Edward with me in a slow decent. I felt his hand gently cradle my head as we continued, and soon we were laying down on the sofa, but it still wasn’t enough. I hesitantly flicked my tongue out, and it ghosted along Edward’s bottom lip. Edward released a low groan, a deep sound filled with pure hunger and desire, and I felt my heart flutter at the sound.

 

 

E dward had been keeping a careful distance during our heated kiss, balancing himself on the sofa with one knee between my legs, the other pressed between my thigh and the back of the sofa, with his hand gripping the back rest so his body wasn’t pressing against my own. I moved both my hands to Edward’s back, pulling him closer to me with all my strength. I didn’t want him to keep a careful distance. Edward once again relented to my desire, lowering himself and taking his hand off the back of the sofa to curl around my body.

 

M y lungs were burning and I couldn’t quite remember the last time I took a breath. I reluctantly turned my head to the side to take in a much needed breath. Undeterred by my human needs, or perhaps misreading my movements, Edward didn’t stop and instead lowered his mouth to press soft kisses to the column of my throat.

 

Oh,” I gasped as Edward’s gentle kisses sent another wave of foreign fire coursing through my veins.

 

My hands were still clawing at Edward back, as if my pitiful human strength could stop him from moving. I felt the rumble in his chest, right before I heard the soft growl in my ear. You have no clue what your body does to me.” He purred.

 

I’m beginning to get an idea.” I gasped in a breathy voice.

 

Edward chuckled and I turned my head to look at him, and he stared back at me with dark amber eyes. “ You are the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eyes on. Something as trivial as scars could never change that.” He whispered as he gently caressed my cheek with his finger tip.

 

Unfortunately , that was the moment my stomach decided to get in on the conversation. It grumbled loudly and I blushed as Edward chuckled again. “ Lunch time for the human?” He asked, but didn’t make any moved to pull away from me.

 

I didn’t think I could get my mouth to correctly form words, so I just nodded dumbly. Edward slowly pulled away, gently bringing me upright with him.

 

E dward stood and then smiled down at me, “ What can I make for you?”

 

I reached back for my little wooden box, picking up the already filled pipe as I thought it through. “ Banana and cheese toasted sandwich.” I said eventually, before I lit the pipe and took in a deep lungful of smoke.

 

I saw Edward pause in the kitchen, and I breathed out the smoke as I turned to look at him. “What?” I asked in a tight voice as I breathed in clean air.

 

Banana and cheese? That doesn’t sound like the best combination.” He wrinkled his nose.

 

What would you know about it? You’re a vampire.” I paused to finish off what was left in the pipe,

 

I may be a vampire, but I do remember eating human foods.” Edward retorted as he started to collect the ingredients and fetch the sandwich press from the cupboard.

 

It’s delicious, and one of the best snacks to eat while stoned. So,” I shrugged as I tapped out the ash, usually I would stop at two, enough for a buzz and to do away with any lingering pain. But there was only a tiny bit left, and I didn’t have to go anywhere. Fuck it. I pinched up the remainder of the mix and packed it into the pipe.

 

I’ll take your word for it.” Edward shrugged as he unwrapped the cheese.

 

A s if he had been summoned, Anthony came trotting down the hall, happy little trilling noises falling out of his mouth. He immediately ignored me, and went over to Edward, rubbing against his legs and meowing loudly for a snack. I laughed, the air leaving in a puff of smoke as Edward tried to shoo the cat away.

 

He can have a little bit of cheese,” I smirked, “Just a little bit.” I repeated sternly, the warning clear in my tone.

 

Just a little bit.” Edward repeated, taking a small piece of cheese and offering it to the cat that was still weaving around his legs. Anthony sniffed it before he took it in his mouth, trilling his thanks he trotted away with his prize.

 

I continued to watch Edward work, and I let myself sink into the fuzzy buzz of the pot. A gentle sort of happiness slowly invaded my mind, and for the first time in years I was knew it wasn’t because of the drugs in my system. We still had a lot to talk about, issues to work through, but I was sure that we could get through it together.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

I couldn’t see anything, my eyesight was blurred and covered in a red haze. I was laying on my side, my leg trapped between the twisted metal of my truck. I could smell my flesh burning as the flames flickered and blazed around me.

 

G rowling. Hissing. A loud screeching sound like the tearing of sheet metal.

 

The fire around me grew larger and I could feel a scream gurgling in my throat, I coughed and sputtered as I tried to scream through the think blood pooling in my mouth. I twisted and writhed, trying in vain to free myself from the burning wreckage of my truck. Tears streaked down my face, the salt water cleared the blood from my eyes.

 

I could see now.

 

I wish ed that I couldn’ t.

 

I n front of the truck I could see three gigantic wolves, pacing angrily just beyond the flames of the wreckage. I hoped that they would kill me before I could burn to death.

 

Bella!”

 

I tried to twist my head towards the voice, but I couldn’t move. A worried face appeared in my field of vision, dark russet skin and large worried eyes. Dark hair cropped short. I preferred it when he kept it longer.

 

Bella, hold on.” The man begged.

 

J acob?

 

 

Bella! Wake up!”

 

I lashed out instinctively, and my hand collided with a brick wall. Pain shot through my knuckles before ice cold hands circled around my wrists, restraining me.

 

Bella! Open your eyes, love.”

 

I groaned as I opened my eyes, and I tried to pull my injured hand towards my chest. I couldn’t though, Edward was still holding my wrists. I blinked in confusion as I looked around at my surroundings. It was dark, and I was on the sofa in the living room with Edward over top of me, holding my wrists beside my head.

 

What?” I grumbled sleepily. Edward released my wrists and slowly got up before he lowered himself to kneel by my side.

 

You fell asleep after lunch, I didn’t want to move you.” Edward explained gently. I pulled my injured hand up above my face to study it, “I think you sprained it when you hit me.” Edward said softly.

 

I didn’t mean to hit you. I’m sorry.” I mumbled as I rubbed at the reddening knuckles.

 

E dward chuckled and I turned my head to see him smirking at me, “It’s not like you could do much damage.” His amused expression turned thoughtful, “What was your nightmare about?”

 

I groaned and flopped my head back, staring at the cracked paint on the ceiling. “The crash.”

 

I know you said that it doesn’t matter.” Edward said as he slowly helped me up into a sitting position before he sat down on the sofa next to me, “But it might. You still have missing time, but you dream about it regularly. Maybe talking about it will help.” Edward gently brushed my hair away from my face and neck as he spoke.

 

There were wolves.” I muttered, talking to the coffee table in front of us rather than to Edward. “Massive fucking wolves. Like the size of a horse. And Jake was there.” I shrugged angrily. None of this was making any fucking sense and I was sick and tired of sounding like a crazy person.

 

Jake? Jacob Black?” Edward asked tersely.

 

Confused at his tone I turned to face him, “Yeah?”

 

A growl echoed in Edward’s chest, the sound made my eyes widen and I flinched back as Edward shot up out of his seat and started pacing angrily. Thankfully he was doing it at a human speed, I was sure that if he were moving at vampiric speeds the blurring would have made me feel nauseous.

 

Edward?” I asked weakly, unsure of where his anger came from and who it was directed at.

 

I will kill him.” Edward growled menacingly as he pulled at his hair with his hands.

 

Okay…” I bit my lip as I observed Edward, “Who exactly are we killing? I mean, I’m sure you have a good reason… but still, it would be nice to be in on the plan.”

 

T hat was enough to get Edward to stop his pacing, his eyes scanned my body before they narrowed in on my hands. They were in my lap, my thumb pressing down roughly on the burn scar. I hadn’t even realised I had been doing it. Edward dropped to his knees, shifting himself forward so he was situated between my knees as he took my hands in his and pulled them apart.

 

O ne of Edward’s hands came up and cupped my cheek, he raised my head so I was looking at him. “ Jacob Black is a werewolf.” He said sternly, “ And I’m going to kill him.”

 

M y eyebrows furrowed as I came to terms with this new information. I wasn’t sure which part to address first, the werewolf thing, or the planning a murder thing.

 

How do you know he is a werewolf?” I asked gently. I pulled Edward’s hand away from my face and held it in mine.

 

Because his grandfather was one, I met him.” He answered stiffly. “You said you saw horse size wolves. That’s what they look like when they shift.”

 

I had said I had dreamed about horse sized wolves. But judging by Edward’s current emotional state I didn’t think he would appreciate the distinction. I simply nodded along with Edward, “Okay, and why are you going to kill him?” I asked gently.

 

Because this is his fault!” He snarled,

 

How do you figure?” I raised a questioning eyebrow at him, Edward opened his mouth to answer but I just kept talking. “I saw him there, he was telling me to hold on. I think he was helping me, Edward.”

 

You don’t know that!” Edward argued, he stood up angrily and resumed his pacing.

 

Would you calm the fuck down!” I snapped furiously, “You pacing like a mad man and wearing out a hole in my rug isn’t gonna help anything!” Edward stopped and looked at me in shock. I took a deep calming breath and released it in a harrowing sigh, “Thank you. The truth is, what we don’t know seriously outweighs what we do know.”

 

E dward scrubbed a hand down his face, “You’re right, I’m sorry.” To his credit he looked genuinely embarrassed by his outburst.

 

I think the only way I’m going to get any answers is if I ask Jake.” I suggested,

 

E dward let out a disbelieving laugh, “What are you going to do, Bella? Walk up to his front door, knock and just demand answers?”

 

Why not? That’s as good a plan as any.” I shrugged.

 

Except the part where you will be aggravating a werewolf” Edward’s eyes were wild with panic, I silently reached out for him and he came around the coffee table and took my hand in his.

 

I pulled him down to the sofa and smiled. “ Well then, it’s a good thing I have a vampire on my side then. Isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

 

I was a whirlwind of activity, much to Edward’s displeasure. I was limping around my room, grabbing clothes and shoving them in my duffle bag as Edward hovered next to me, begging me to sit down and let him pack. In one day I ha d gone from having no memories and no clue about my past, to having a fuck tonne of memories and a really solid lead on how to gain more. I wasn’t about to sit on my ass while there was so much to be done!

 

Bella! Please just sit down!” Edward begged from beside me as I started rooting around the top draw in my dresser,

 

You sit down!” I retorted angrily, and somewhat childishly.

 

You’re going to hurt yourself.” Edward tried to reason with me.

 

I snorted, “What’s new?”

 

Our childish argument was cut off by Edward’s cell phone, he narrow ed his eyes at me before he sigh ed and dug it out of his pants pocket.

 

Edward look ed at the screen before he scowl ed and answer ed , “What?” He bit out bluntly.

 

I couldn’t make out what was being said by the other person, I could however hear some high pitched screeching. It was so loud that Edward winced and held the phone away from his ear slightly, he waited until the screeching stopped before he brought the phone back to his ear . “Are you done?” He asked dryly .

 

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, and whoever was on the phone went off on another bout of screeching and yelling. “ Alice, I refuse to speak with you when you’re being so melodramatic. Bella and I are fine. We are at her cottage. Call back once you have calmed down.” Edward said stoically before he hung up the phone.

 

That was Alice?” I asked, “Sounded like a banshee.”

 

E dward rolled his eyes, “ To be frank, she wasn’t making much sense. Something about our futures disappearing, she ordered us to stop whatever it was we are doing and not make any more decisions.”

 

I scoffed, “Fat fucking chance.” I said as I continued to stuff clothes into my duffle bag.

 

E dward watched me cautiously, ever vigilant in the way he moved by my side as I worked. I shoved my dresser closed and started to move towards my nightstand, as I took a limping step I must have placed my weight incorrectly and my hip decided to give out. I stumbled and Edward’s arms quickly caught me. I scowled up at him impatiently, my eyes silently demanding that he unhand me and let me finish what I was doing.

 

Would you please just sit down!” Edward hissed, his voice tight with poorly concealed anger. He didn’t wait for a response before he picked me up, hands under my armpits and legs dangling, he then deposited me on my bed like one would an unruly child.

 

 

 

 

E dward glowered down at me, his face a picture perfect example of unforgiving disapproval. “ You are still healing, the doctor said you had to take it easy for two weeks.” He lectured me, his arms crossed s ternly across his chest. I opened my mouth to argue, to tell him that he wasn’t my fucking father and I didn’t need him, or anyone else for that matter, telling me what to do. I didn’t get the chance. “ You are so stubborn !” He threw his hands up in exasperation, “ God dammit, Bella. I worry about you so much. I t physically pains me to see you hurt yourself like this, and yet you seem so fucking determined to push yourself beyond your physical limitations!” Edward was yelling, shouting the words and moving with his entire body as he talked. Arms waving dramatically he continued, “Just let me help you!”

 

 

I couldn’t stop the amused smile that curled my lips, but I did my best to try and bite it back.


What?” Edward asked, not missing my mirth. “ What could you possibly find funny about this?” He demanded.

 

I stopped trying to hide it and smirked at him, a startled laugh bubbling out. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you swear before.” I tittered. I was also happy that he had gotten over the whole walking on eggshells thing, at least for the moment.

 

E dward looked at me strangely, the anger from before morphing into concerned confusion. Maybe he was considering the cost of having me committed, he sure was looking at me like I was a special kind of crazy.

 

M y front door opened with a loud bang, and both of us snapped our heads in the direction of the noise. There was a blur and then Alice was standing in my bedroom doorway, her golden eyes wide and darting around the room wildly. “ Edward Anthony Masen Cullen!” She roared, “What. Did. You. Do!?” She continued as she advanced on her brother, nostrils flaring in anger.

 

Nothing!” Edward yelped, raising his hands in surrender, clearly fearful of the tiny vampire and her wrath.

 

Then would you like to tell me why both of your futures have disappeared!?” She stood toe to toe with Edward, glaring up at him furiously. “What are you planning!? What decision could you have possibly made that would lead to your imminent deaths!?” She shrieked.

 

I wrinkled my nose and picked up a pillow, launching it at Alice. Her hand snapped up at caught it, before her head slowly turned to look at me. “ Yes ?” I could tell Alice was trying to reign in her anger when she addressed me, she was furious at Edward for whatever reason, and didn’t want to take it out on me.

 

Care to clue the human in, please? What’s this about our imminent deaths?” I snarked, still miffed about Edward lecture.

 

A lice shot a glare at Edward before walking over to me and sitting down on the bed next to me. “I can’t see your futures. I see you both in Edward’s car driving, and then it all goes black.”

 

I frowned, “That doesn’t mean that we die , though. Does it?”

 

Dead people don’t have futures.” Alice replied, her usually chipper face was deadpanned.

 

Well, yeah.” I rolled my eyes at her, “But I mean, you didn’t see a crash or anything that would indicate us dying.”

 

A lice frowned, “You need to take this seriously.” She warned, “Have either of you made any big decisions in the past couple of hours?”

 

I glanced at Edward, “We are going to take a trip to La Push, to see Jake.”

 

The werewolf.” Edward quickly clarified.

 

A lice gaped at me, “You can’t be serious. Why?”

 

I think he knows something about the accident. I need to know what happened, Alice.” I explained.

 

It’s a bad idea.” Alice declared, “Obviously whatever happens with this werewolf leads to your futures disappearing. You can’t go.”

 

Well, good thing I didn’t ask for your opinion.” I scoffed as I started to slowly stand up, making sure not to put too much weight on my injured hip.

 

Bella,” Alice breathed, the shock and hurt was unmistakable in her voice. “I’m just concerned for you. I can’t see and that worries me. I care about you, and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

 

T he writhing black tendrils of anger twisted in my gut, and I could feel my heart in my chest as a furious blush covered my face. If there was one thing that I hated, it was people telling me what to do and disguising it as worry or concern. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, they all did it. It was one thing to just be told what to do and controlled by a bunch of strangers when I had no one else to rely on, but when they tried to guilt me by playing the ‘ we are just concerned for your health’ card, well I kinda lost it. And now, here was Alice, doing the exact s a me fucking thing. I realised then, that my anger was not purely directed at Edward. He had told me not to blame his sister, that he forced his family to leave, what a crock of shit. They were grown ass adults and fucking vampires to boot! You couldn’t force them to do anything. Alice had left, abandoned me just as much as Edward had, and now she was trying to manipulate me by making me feel guilty for doing what I want ed instead of what she demanded.

 

I slowly turned back around to face Alice who was still sitting on my bed, “Well, that’s nice but I don’t need your concern right now .” I sneered, “You know what?” I barked out a humourless laugh, “I could have used your concern three years ago!” I growled, “ I could have really used your fucking concern when I was learning how to walk with a fucking plate in my leg! It would have been super fucking great to have someone to care about me when I was lying in a hospital bed planning on killing myself!” I screamed at her, my voice breaking as hot angry tears started to fall down my face, “ Where were you and your visions then Alice? Huh?” I swiped at my face furiously to get rid of my tears as I glared angrily at her.

 

A lice stared up at me with wide watery eyes, her bottom lip was trembling violently and I seriously thought she was going to cry. She opened her mouth to say something, but a strange squeaking sob came out instead of actual words.

 

I shook my head bitterly and turned away from her, “I… I just can’t.” I muttered as I started to limp out of my bedroom.

 

I managed to make it to my living room before I collapsed on the sofa. I heard Edward murmur something to Alice, but I couldn’t make out what he said. I groaned as I slouched forward, bracing my elbows on my knees so I could bury my face in my hands.

 

Bella?” Edward’s gentle voice called out and I glanced up to see him standing in the archway of the hall, I tried to smile at him but it came out all twisted and awkward. Edward seemed to understand anyway and slowly came to sit beside me. “Alice is just taking a moment…” He paused for a moment, and then I felt his hand gently rest on my back between my shoulder blades. “What you said, it was…harsh.”

 

I kept my elbows braced on my knees and turned to stare at him incredulously, “Harsh? Are you kidding me?”

 

I didn’t say that it wasn’t warranted.” Edward quickly added, “It’s just… she’s missed you a lot, and I don’t think she ever really expected you to be angry at her.”

 

I heaved a tired sigh as I glanced at the kitchen clock, it was almost 2am and I was fucking exhausted. “Maybe… ” I reached up and started to knead on the tired muscles on the back of my neck, “Maybe I was a being a little bit unfair.” I conceded, “ It’s just… it’s been a long time, ya know? A lot has happened to me. I’m not the same person that she knew, and I just…” I didn’t know how to finish my thoughts.

 

E dward’s hand started to make slow comforting circles on my back, “I know, love. I’ve had the time to get to know you again, but Alice hasn’t had that chance. All she knows is that her best friend is in danger, and she would do anything she can to keep you safe.” Edward paused, his hand stopped the circles and he lowered it to my waist, he then gently pulled me closer too him. Edward tucked me under his arm and pressed a kiss to the top of my head, “ It didn’t occur to her that you wouldn’t appreciate that.” Edward paused again, “She thinks you blame her, for everything you went through.” He murmured against my hair.

 

I groaned, “I don’t… really I don’t.” I sighed and relaxed against Edward’s side, “ I just don’t like being told what I can and can’t do, and then all this pent up rage and frustration kinda just… exploded.” I frowned and pulled away from Edward and looked towards the hall, “Alice?” I called softly, there was a moment of silence before Alice appeared in the archway, she moved at a human speed as she came halfway into the room. She was staring at the floor, her shoulder’s hunched sadly. I don’t blame you… and I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

 

A lice smiled sadly, “It’s alright. I kinda deserved it.” Alice walked over and sat down on the other side of me and I shifted in my seat so I could face her properly. Edward’s arms came around my body, and pulled my back against his chest. “ I’m sorry for listening to my idiot brother and leaving you alone to deal with all that crap.”

 

I huffed a tired laugh that turned into a yawn, I turned to try and see Edward but due to how he was holding me I couldn’t quite turn around enough, “Would you help me to bed? I’m super tired, and then in the morning we can finish this conversation about our trip to La Push and our imminent demise.”

 

E dward grumbled about my word choice but helped me to bed anyway, he made sure I didn’t need anything else before he started to leave the room. “ Hey,” I grumbled, “Where do you think you’re going?”

 

E dward smiled shyly at me and hurried around to the other side of the bed, he pulled the covers back and slid in beside me. I wasted no time cuddling up to him, nuzzling myself against his side. With Edward’s arms around me I was asleep in no time.

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

I was woken up by Anthony’s loud purring, which was a pretty normal occurrence for me. The rumbling, somewhat asthmatic sounding noise was ordinary and familiar and it brought a sleepy smile to my face. I slowly blinked my eyes open and took in the sight in front of me. I was still snuggled against Edward as he held me close with an arm under my neck and around my back, and from where I rested my head on the crook of his shoulder I could see Anthony perched happily on Edward’s chest.

 

M y cat was doing a rather impressive impression of a loaf of bread, his front paws were tucked in under his body and his tail curled around the side. His eyes were almost completely closed, and I swear it almost looked like he was smiling. Edward’s free hand was slowly petting down the length of Anthony’s body, occasionally pausing to scratch between his ears.

 

Morning,” I grumbled sleepily,

 

Good morning, love.” Edward’s replied, his voice rumbled against my ear.

 

N ever to be one to be left out of a conversation, Anthony let out a little chirping meow.

 

I sat up carefully, as to not disturb my cat or my aching joints. I stretched my arms over my head and my shoulders popped loudly, “What time is it?”

 

Just past 11.” Edward replied as he sat up, carefully tucking a grumbling Anthony under his arm as he did so.

 

I hadn’t meant to sleep for as long as I had, but given the exhausting day and then tumultuous night I had had I was going to give myself a pass on this one. “ I’m amazed Anthony isn’t hounding us for some food,” I joked as I slowly pulled my legs off the bed and stood up. Edward was by my side, cat still in hand as he offered his free arm for support.

 

Yes, he’s been rather patient.” Edward replied with a smirk as he lowered Anthony to the ground.

 

I placed a hand on Edward’s forearm, and I used him as a makeshift walking stick rather than a vampiric crutch as I limped my way down the hallway. Anthony complained loudly as he weaved around Edward and me, clearly angling for some breakfast.

 

We finally made it to the end of the hall, and managed to do so without tripping over the decidedly demanding cat. When we reached the entry way to the living area, Anthony’s entire demeanour changed in an instant. He went from needy and loving to hostile and aggressive. Anthony arched his back and released a loud hiss as his tail puffed up to twice its original size. He then growled a throaty yowling sort of growl before he turned tail and bolted back towards my bedroom. Once I looked into my living room, I couldn’t blame him. In fact, if I could, I would have followed his example.

 

S ix vampires were in my house. Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect clothes, sitting with perfect posture on my very not perfect furniture. It looked all kinds of wrong that I almost laughed. Almost. I turned and gave Edward a questioning look, and all he did was smile apologetically at me. No explanation as to why he entire fucking family decided to just show up at my house.

 

T o make things worse, they were all just staring at me. As if I was the one acting strangely by not greeting them with exuberance and happiness . I suddenly felt exposed, and extremely vulnerable. I was still wearing my sleep clothes, a tank top and really short cotton shorts, so every inch of my mangled body was on display.

 

What are you doing in my house?” I had meant to sound demanding and strong, but instead I sounded tired and confused, which to be fair was exactly how I was feeling.

 

T he vampires in front of me seemed to hold a silent conference amongst themselves, turning to look at each other briefly before Carlisle faced me and smiled warmly. “ Alice called us and told us about your plans.” He said.

 

M y frown turned into a terse line as I turned my stare to Alice. I wanted to know why she thought this was okay. Honestly, what was she thinking? Did she think I’d appreciate a room full of vampires first thing in the morning? With my hair a rats nest and crusty sleep still stuck in my eyes did she think I would thank her for the immediate reminder of my own inadequacy? I could feel my temper growing as irritation and anger started to simmer inside me. I then felt a soft wave of calm wash over me, and my eyes instantly snapped to Jasper. I levelled him in an infuriated glare and the calmness was gone as quickly as it had arrived.

 

And you are here because…?” I hedged, my lips twitching into a scowl.

 

C arlisle kept that stupid fucking fatherly smile plastered on his face, “We just wanted to talk to you, and offer our support, of course. And then there’s the treaty to consider, none of us can step foot on the reservation without breaking it and I-”

 

I wasn’t going to let Carlisle finish whatever it was he was about to say, and so I just started to speak over him. “ And you all thought it would be okay to just… show up here? No phone call, no warning at all?” I demanded, “ I only just woke up!” I huffed out an angry breath, “ I’m tired and hungry, and I feel like shit!” I whined, “ And you… you just show up at my house… you let yourselves in and you… you scared my cat!” I wailed , gesturing wildly in the direction Anthony had fled.

 

C arlisle looked around at his family as if silently asking for some sort of help or advice, “ I’m sorry, Bella. We-”

 

I once again didn’t let him finished, “I think-” I paused and limped my way over to the front door, “I think I would like you all to leave.” I accentuated my words by opening the door and gesturing outside with my free hand.

 

Pardon me?” Carlisle asked, utterly bewildered.

 

You’re a vampire, so I know you heard me perfectly.” I snapped, “When I am ready for company I will ask Edward to call you, until then…” I waved my hand palm up like a game-show host revealing a prize, but instead I was gesturing to the damp day waiting outside.

 

I n stunned silence the gathering of vampires slowly filed out, and when Alice turned on my door step and opened her mouth to say something I quickly slammed the door in her face, I didn’t want to hear it.

 

I turned around and looked across the room at Edward, “What the actual fuck?” I grumbled,

 

It looked as if Edward was trying to figure out if he was amused by what he had just seen, or apologetic on behalf of his overbearing family. “ I did try to get them to leave, but I couldn’t exactly kick them out without waking up you or Anthony.” Edward said, it seemed he had decided on apologetic. He crossed the room and let me lean on him again as he helped me to a chair at the kitchen table.

 

E dward started towards the small kitchen and slowly began to make me coffee. I sat in silence as I watched Edward move about my kitchen, but the gentle silence was interrupted by Anthony’s loud and distressed yowling. He was doing the feline equivalent of crying, and the sound broke my heart. My poor boy had been given quite a scare, and was probably still quivering in fear as he hid underneath my bed. Unfortunately there was no way I was going to be able to get down on my hands and knees to coax him out again.

 

What in the world?” Edward muttered as he shot me a confused look.

 

He’s scared, and hungry.” I explained, “And has probably squished himself under my bed and is too frightened to come out because the last time he did he found his house filled with strange vampires!” I ranted angrily, I huffed out an annoyed breath. “I can’t believe they did that.” I groaned,

 

E dward’s mouth curled into an amused smirk, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re more upset that they scared your cat than you are about the invasion of your privacy.” He jested.

 

I scowled at him, “Of course I am upset they scared my cat! Listen to him!” I shouted as I pointed in the general direction of my bedroom, I paused for a moment and Anthony released another yowling noise as if to drive home my point. “ My poor baby.” I moaned. “ Could you go try and get him? I would, but I’m worried that if I get down on the ground I wont be able to get up again.”

 

E dward nodded and started to head towards the hallway, but when he reached the entryway he paused and turned back around. “Are you sure? I mean, he was just scared by a group of vampires… I wouldn’t want to make things worse.” Edward looked so unsure of himself as he stood there, one hand scratching the back of his head sheepishly.

 

I smiled at him as I felt warm affection bloom across my chest, “I’m sure.” I declared, “Anthony likes you, besides… you’re not as scary as you’d like to think.” I winked at him playfully.

 

Edward shot me a winning smile before turning around and walking down the hallway. I could hear Edward’s murmured words of comfort, and Anthony’s pitiful crying reply. I could hear Edward cooing at him, the words still too soft for me to hear. I frowned deeply as I waited and soon Edward returned.

 

E dward stood in the entry way with Anthony in hand. He was holding the cat protectively against his chest with both arms, and Anthony seemed desperate to rub his face against Edward’s neck and cheek. The amount of wiggling and squirming Anthony was doing was making it difficult for Edward to keep a solid hold on the fastidious feline. Eventually Edward gave up on keeping a grip on the writhing creature and slowly lowered him to the ground.

 

A nthony let out a yowl in protest, his ears flat against his head as he sniffed around the room. I could see his little whiskers twitch in movement as he canvassed his surroundings. After a thorough inspection of the living room, which included a comprehensive investigation of the sofa which ended in him angrily sharpening his claws on the fabric, Anthony seemed content that his house was free of unwanted vampires.

 

I’ll get him some breakfast.” Edward declared, moving towards the cabinet.

 

Give him some wet food, instead of the kibble.” I hastily replied, “He deserves it.”

 

E dward shot me a smile over his shoulder as he found a can of cat food and opened it. Like a naval vessel pursuing a siren’s song, Anthony rushed to the little kitchen at the sound of the can being opened. As soon as Edward placed the food bowl on the ground, Anthony wasted no time devouring his breakfast.

 

Breakfast time for the human now?” Edward teased.

 

Just some cereal is fine. And some coffee, lots of coffee.” I grumbled. I sat in silence as Edward prepared my breakfast and once my coffee was ready he placed both my cup and my bowl of cereal in front of me.

 

If it means anything… the family’s intentions were pure.” Edward said after a moments silence.

 

I didn’t know what to say to that, so I simply scoffed and rolled my eyes.

 

E dward smiled sadly at me from his seat across the table, “I mean it, Bella.” He murmured.

 

Yeah, alright.” I replied sceptically, making it clear that I didn’t agree with him but was in no mood to argue the point. I was positively sick and tired of arguing by this point, and I was more than willing to concede this point if it meant having a quiet morning free of any further conflict.

 

You don’t believe me.” It wasn’t a question, nor was it an accusation, rather it was just a resigned realisation. Again, I didn’t want to press the issue so I just shrugged in response. Edward slowly rose from his chair, and then moved around the small table and crouched down beside me. I frowned in confusion as I twisted my chair to face him. From this position Edward was looking up at me with an expression of heartbreak and remorse. “You’ve been alone for too long, and that’s my fault… I’m so sorry, Bella.” He gentle words only confused me further, but Edward continued before I could question him. “Even before… before I left you, you were alone. You were responsible for your own parents in a way that no child should be… and then I abandoned you to more loneliness.” Edward paused for a moment, and he slowly reached up and traced the crease in my brow with his fingertips, before gently caressing my cheek. “You’ve been alone for so long, that you don’t know how to let people in… how to let people care for you… look after you.” My throat tightened as I realised the truth of his words. “Bella, my family is… very close. Probably closer than any family has any right to be,” He smirked at that before continuing, “Choices and decisions that effect one member affects everyone, and coming together as a family unit to discuss the issue and support each other is just how we show that we care… so you see Bella, them showing up here was simply their way of showing you that they care about you, that they consider you a part of our family. Because you are… a part of this family. I’m so sorry I ever made you doubt that… they are just trying to show you they love you… you just have to let them.” Edward looked at me with soft eyes and a sad smile.

 

E verything Edward had just said was painfully true. I was alone, and for the most part it had been by choice. It was just easier to keep everyone at arms length than to risk anything more. “ I’m scared.” I whispered. I dropped my eyes from Edwards and instead stared intently at my lap, “ I’m scared that if I let anyone in… that I will lose control over my own life… if I’m alone then the only person that can hurt me is… me.” I shrugged hopelessly as a painful ache pulled in my chest at the revelation.

 

Oh, Bella.” Edward sighed, “What have I done to you?” He murmured painfully, and at those words silent tears broke free and started to fall down my face. “Bella, look at me?” He requested tenderly. I didn’t respond, and when I refused to meet his gaze he slowly lifted his hand to wipe my tears from my cheek before tucking his fingers under my chin and gently coaxing my face upwards. “You’ll never have to be alone again, and we… I will never hurt you, not again Bella, I promise you. You just have to let us love you, sweetheart.”

 

I pressed my lips together tightly in an attempt to stifle the sobs that threatened to break free, and simply nodded my agreement. I closed my eyes and took some deep calming breaths to stifle the tears, once I had once again regained control over my emotions I turned back to my breakfast. I frowned down into my bowl, “My cereal has gone all soggy,” I said sadly, the mild inconvenience threatened to break my shaky emotional calm. Edward slowly stood up next to me as he lovingly caressed my hair with one hand he picked up the bowl with the other.

 

I will get you some fresh cereal.” He assured me in a soothing voice.

 

I took another deep breath, pushing the illogical reaction to a soggy breakfast down before I nodded my agreement. As Edward sat my new breakfast down in front of me I looked up at him and grabbed his hand, “After I eat… will you call your family for me?” I pleaded, “I… I can’t promise anything… but I would like to try.” My bit my lip for a moment to stop the emotional wobble, “I would like to try.” I repeated, this time with much more conviction.

 

E dward smiled down at me and gave my hand a gentle squeeze, “Of course, love.”

 

I wasn’t sure how much I could offer of myself, how willing I would be to open myself up to potential hurt and heartache. It would be so much easier to just shut them all out, to just exist in a little bubble of safety with Edward and Anthony. But I was willing to try, I was determined to make an effort. After all, anything worth having was worth working for, and I was pretty sure that a loving family was worth having.

Chapter Text

 

Edward’s POV

 

 

 

Just as Bella had requested, after she had finished her breakfast I quickly called Carlisle and requested that he and the family come back to Bella’s cottage. I didn’t offer any explanations, or apologies on Bella’s behalf. Firstly, because they weren’t mine to give, and secondly I wasn’t sure they were warranted anyway. Bella’s reaction to my family was what I had come to expect from her. Blunt, assertiveness that sometimes bordered on aggression, and with little regard to how others would then feel towards her. Bella didn’t seem to care much for what others thought of her, or at least that’s what she tried to project out to others, and it seemed to work with everyone other than myself. It had become pretty clear to me over the past week, that Bella had a bad habit of keeping everyone around her at a distance. Seemingly in preparation for an inevitable betrayal. A fact that made my dead heart ache.

 

I stood in the small kitchen and looked over at Bella. She had moved over to the living area and situated herself on the faded and patchwork Everette chair, a chair I had quickly come to think of as ‘mine’. I was sure she was sitting there because it meant that no one could sit near her, and instead would have to sit on the sofa and love-seat. As I watched her sit there, gently stroking her cat, I couldn’t help but wonder if she had chosen that place of isolation on purpose, or if it was a subconscious choice she made in order to ‘protect’ herself.

 

My extrasensory ability made me aware of my family’s approaching arrival. I could just begin to hear the whispers of their thoughts, even though my ears could not yet pick up any actual sounds. “They’ll be here in a few minutes.” I announced as I wandered over to her.

 

Bella sighed deeply as she scratched Anthony behind his ears, “Could you take him to my room then? Close the door to keep him there, I don’t want to spook him again.” She lifted the cat off her lap and held him out to me, which Anthony complained about with an annoyed trilling sound.

 

I smiled affectionately at the cat who stared at me with his bright yellow eyes as his tail swished in the air impetuously, as if he were insulted by Bella’s handling of him. I gently gathered Anthony in my arms, tucking him safely against my chest. “Of course,” I offered Bella a warm and hopefully comforting smile as I turned towards her bedroom. I wasn’t sure what to make of the cat’s strange acceptance of me, but I wasn’t about to question it, or do anything that may jeopardise it in anyway. It seemed that Bella’s only truly meaningful relationship was with her cat, and as sad as that was, I nevertheless endeavoured to make that cat love me just as much as he loved Bella.

 

“Come on, Anthony.” I cooed softly, “You can have a nice little nap while those scary vampires visit.” I continued gently, as if I were speaking to a small child instead of a cat. I hadn’t realised my family had come within hearing range until I heard the telepathic teasing of my siblings. I decided to ignore their (mostly) good natured ribbing, and instead focused on putting Anthony safely away in Bella’s room.

 

I lowered him down onto Bella’s bed, and I ran my fingers down his back a few times to settle him. Anthony made a happy little brrt sound, before he began to purr as he settled down on the comforter. I quickly made my escape, at a human speed as to not startle him, and closed the door behind me.

 

Bella was were I had left her, “They’re almost here.” I told her and she tried to smile, but it was clearly forced and came out more as a pained grimace. I frowned at her and hurried to her side, “Are you alright? You don’t have to do this.” I assured her as I took her hand in mine, placing a soft kiss to her knuckles.

 

Bella frowned, and seemed to be deep in thought for a moment before she snorted in laughter. Not for the first time since she regained her memories, I was worried for her mental health.

 

That was why, even after she had demanded for me to leave her alone, I had called Carlisle and begged him to check on her. I couldn’t bear the thought of her alone after the episode I had witnessed. When the sunlight had crossed my skin I was instantly terrified of her reaction. To my utter surprise and joy, Bella’s first reaction was not one of horror, but of awe. Unfortunately it all went to hell in a hand-basket rather quickly. As she scurried away from me, she started to slur her words together, her movements were simultaneously sluggish and jerky. Bella had groaned in an unintelligible way as she pulled at her hair, before collapsing into a fit of convulsions.

 

It was the single most petrifying moment of my existence. At least after James had attacked her I could help, I could do something to help her and lessen her pain. But as I watched as she convulsed on the ground, all I could do was watch helplessly and pray to a god I wasn’t sure I believed in anymore that he would not take her away from me. Not again. I was more sure now than ever, that if God did exist, he was cruel and ironic. Because Bella wasn’t taken from me by the seizure, but rather when she regained her composure she had flinched from my touch before screaming at me to leave her alone.

 

A fter an especially harrowing day, I felt that perhaps we could be okay. But throughout our talks, I became concerned for Bella’s mental state. And this moment of inappropriate laughter was one of those moments. “Bella?” I hedged cautiously.

 

B ella shook her head, “Sorry,” I watched as she was trying very hard to bite back a smirk, “It’s just I was going to say that I am in two minds about it… but then I realised how… apt that description was.” She chuckled dryly.

 

I was about to say that perhaps this could wait for another day, that she should rest and relax and that the drama with my family and wayward werewolves could wait. But before I could I was interrupted by a knock on the door. I quickly hid my scowl and turned my face into a perfect mask of reassurance. Bella smiled up at me, her smile somewhat forced but her eyes held nothing but love and trust. Neither of which I deserved.

 

I went over and opened the door and saw that Alice was the one at the front of the group, and no doubt had timed her knock precisely to stop me from talking Bella out of the meeting. I narrowed my eyes at her, but she simply smiled innocently at me. I silently stepped aside and opened the door wider to let my family in, and with the kind of grace only vampires were capable of they drifted into the room and over to the small living room. A space that seemed even smaller now that it was filled with a coven of vampires.

 

I chose to ignore all of my family’s questioning thoughts, both intentional and unintentional, and instead focused all my attention on Bella. To her credit, she was doing her best to seem calm and welcoming. There was a cautious smile on her face, and she sat relaxed, leaning back into her chair. But my eyes were drawn to her hands that she held in her lap, one hand covering the other as it pressed onto marbled burn scar with considerable force. It was a habit that Bella had obviously learned as a way to calm or perhaps distract herself, and I had noticed she did it often, and without really meaning to.

 

M y family seated themselves on the sofa and love-seat, and after I closed the door behind them I decided to stand beside Bella. I placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, and when she looked up at me I simply smiled and nodded encouragingly.

 

B ella took a deep breath before she looked over at my family, “Hi…” She paused and I could see her press her thumb against her scar with such force it made the puckered red skin briefly turn white from lack of blood. “ Sorry about the whole… kicking you out thing…” Bella huffed an annoyed breath, “I mean, it was fucking nut s . Who just… breaks into somebod y’s house?” Jasper sent me a worried look, and silently asked me if I wanted him to calm Bella down. When I remembered how quickly Bella noticed his influence the last time, and how badly she responded to it, I subtly shook my head no. I felt Bella tense, and then she took a few long deep breaths as she struggled to calm herself. Once she had reeled back her anger she started to speak, and I was grateful that none of my family had taken Bella’s silence as a cue to start speaking. In fact, it was incredibly out of character for them. There was no snide remark from Rosalie, or poorly times joke from Emmett. No attempts at parental concern from Esme or Carlisle, and no hurried excuses from Alice. “ Edward explained that your complete and total lack of boundaries is just your way of… showing that you care.” Bella wrinkled her nose as if the actual thought of such emotion was distasteful. “ That’s just not something I’m used to, I g uess. But I told Edward that I want to try, and I do. Just… go easy on me , okay?” Bella smiled nervously at the collection of vampires, and Carlisle’s eyes shifted from Bella’s to mine as he sent me a direct thought.

 

Will I upset her again if I were to speak?

 

I couldn’t stop the amused smirk from tugging on the corner of my mouth as I shook my head no.

 

Carlisle didn’t appreciate my apparent amusement at his discomfort, but didn’t let it show on his face and instead chose to smile warmly at Bella, “ I’d just like to apologise again. After Alice filled me in on your situation it only seemed reasonable to hold a family meeting, and given your current handicap it seemed more appropriate to have the meeting here, rather than expect you to travel almost an hour to our home. That being said, I can see now that it was presumptuous of me. Of course, the Bella I had known would not have reacted so… aggressively, but as Alice so kindly pointed out, you are no longer the Bella I once knew and it was foolish of me to think of you as such.” The way Carlisle spoke, and the incredibly quick side eye he gave Alice who was sitting next to him on the sofa doing her best impression of a perfect doting daughter, made me think that Alice had not been kind in her explanations.

 

B ella seemed to take in Carlisle’s words with careful deliberation, but before she could respond Alice very obnoxiously cleared her throat before elbowing Carlisle in the side with so much force he rocked over and bumped into Esme who sat on his other side. Carlisle turned and gave Alice an incredulous look, which Alice returned with a steely glare.

 

Oh for the love of- I didn’t think she was serious. Carlisle thought with more irritation and annoyance than I had ever heard from the old vampire’s mind. Whatever it was that Alice had wanted Carlisle to say, he not only found it unnecessary but simply… harebrained. Carlisle turned back from Alice to once again look at Bella, who had observed the exchange with a growing level of anxiety. I gently squeezed her shoulder, hoping to convey that everything was alright.

 

I would also like to apologise for… scaring your cat.” Carlisle said with a perfect level of deportment and sincerity. Rosalie couldn’t help but snicker at this, and a quick scan of my family’s minds showed that this part of Carlisle’s well rehearsed speech was one that each of them found particularly humorous. The others were doing a much better job at hiding their mirth at our father’s embarrassment, and I was especially impressed by Emmett’s unusual sense of decorum.

 

Anthony,” I chimed in helpfully, and I couldn’t do anything to stop the cheeky grin from colouring my face, “His name is Anthony.”

 

Yes, thank you son.” Carlisle sniped quickly, but there was no true animosity there, Carlisle could see the humour in the situation. Even if it were at his expense.

 

I glanced down at Bella, and not even the nervous human was immune to the comedic effect of a 300 year old vampire apologising for startling a cat. She was doing a better job than I was at stifling her growing smirk and she cleared her throat before she said, “Thank you, Carlisle. That means a lot.” It was painfully obvious that she was doing her best to remain serious, but a certain level of humorous delight was still present in her tone.

 

A nd with that, all the tension in the room was gone. Bella seemed more relaxed and at ease than I thought at all possible and I turned my eye to looked pointedly at my sister.

 

Alice smiled innocently. You’re welcome. She thought purposefully. Alice then decided she needed to speak, “And Bella? For the record, I did not tell them to come here. I called Carlisle to fill him in on the situation and then he made the decision to bring the rest of the family here.” She then paused to give Carlisle a particularly venomous glare, “Against all my warnings to the contrary, might I add.

 

B ella chuckled lightly, “It’s alright, Alice. It was a miscommunication, and I will admit that I probably over-reacted, just a little bit.” She relented. Bella paused and seemed to take a moment to collect her thoughts, she bit her lip for a moment before she spoke up again, “So, Carlisle… before I kicked you all out earlier you were saying something about a treaty?”

 

C arlisle seemed happy to have moved past the apologies and onto the reason for the meeting, “Indeed, when the family met the La Push werewolves we made a treaty with them. We would not step foot on their lands, nor would we ever bite a human, and in turn they would not attempt to destroy us.”

 

B ella startled a t Carlisle’s banal explanation, “ Destroy you?” Bella squeaked out, “The werewolves could hurt you?” Bella turned and looked up at me, her face creased with worry.

 

I acted quickly to reassure Bella that everything was okay, “It’s okay, love. Nothing bad is going to happen.” I said softly but confidently as I raised my hand to gently caress Bella’s cheek with my knuckles.

 

B ella frantically grabbed at my hand, holding it against her face and I had to make a considerable effort to block out Esme’s suddenly very loud and extremely jubilant thoughts at the innocent display of affection. “ Are you sure? I don’t want any of you to get hurt.”

 

Don’t worry, Bells!” Emmett spoke up for the first time and Bella jumped at his loud interruption. She turned to look at Emmett, who was sitting opposite Bella on the love-seat with Rosalie, “We can take a couple of pups.” Emmett grinned impishly. Rosalie didn’t offer any platitudes and simply rolled her eyes at her husband’s oafishness.

 

C arlisle’s mouth was a stern line as he looked at his youngest son, “I would like to avoid any sort of confrontation.” He turned back to Bella, “As such, I was going to suggest I get in contact with Chief Black. I have his contact details from when we were in Forks last, I could call and we could arrange a way for you to meet with your friend Jacob in a way that is safe and acceptable to everyone.”

 

Carlisle seemed rather proud of his diplomatic efforts, but all his hope s of a quick and efficient resolution were immediately dashed.

 

No!” Bella objected loudly.

 

I was startled by Bella’s sudden and violent rejection of Carlisle’s suggestion. I thought that it was a prett y good compromise. I frowned as I moved to stand in front of Bella, blocking her view of my family before I crouched down in front of her. “ Bella, love, please… see reason. Carlisle just wants to help.”

 

B ella frowned and she looked at me as if I had grown a second head, or like she thought I had lost all sense. I briefly wondered if that was how I looked at her when I was questioning her mental state. “ Edward, that’s not…” Bella barked out a laugh and shook her head, “Jesus Christ.” She chuckled, before laughing loudly for a moment, she eventually calmed down enough to speak. “ Honestly, for someone as smart as you are Edward, sometimes you’re really… dense.” Rosalie (who wasn’t expecting Bella to say something like that) laughed loudly in agreement. Bella didn’t acknowledge her outburst before she clarified what she meant. “ I’m fine with the phone call thing, I think that’s a really good idea. I also like the ‘meet on common ground’ thing too, what I have an objection with is Carlisle making that phone call on my behalf.”

 

I thought over Bella’s words for a moment, “Bella, it would be better left to Carlisle to act as an ambassador of sorts. He has much more experience with this sort of thing.”

 

Bella rolled her eyes, “No doubt.” She scoffed, “But in all fairness, it’s not really about Carlisle. Is it?” Bella looked over my head to the rest of the family, “To be honest, it’s not really about any of you. I mean, I appreciate that you care about me and want to protect me from a potentially dangerous situation, but this is about me.” Bella stressed, her eyes narrowing as she looked at each of the family before turning her gaze back to me. “This is about my memories, about getting answers to questions that I’ve had for years. I don’t need… I don’t want anyone to speak for me. I am perfectly capable of being my own advocate.” I very quickly understood the double meaning in her words, and I did my best to not let them wound me. Bella was more than capable of being her own advocate, she would have had to be in order to traverse the medical system and get the help she needed over the past few years.

 

I slowly stood up and went back to my previous position of standing next to Bella, “Carlisle?”

 

My father figure smiled warmly at me, “I don’t see that being an issue.” Carlisle then reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and produced his cell phone. He quickly found the home phone number for the Black residence before handing the phone over to Bella.

 

I was worried. I wasn’t sure that this was a good idea and I much preferred the thought of Carlisle acting as a buffer between Bella and anything that could upset her. She had been upset enough over the past few hours, and I wanted to protect her from anything that could be distressing.

 

Bella took the cellphone from Carlisle and stared at the screen for a moment, it was like she was contemplating whether or not to go through with it. Despite my misgivings, when Bella looked up at me with nervous trepidation I forced my face into an encouraging smile.

 

B ella smiled back and then pressed the green call button before putting the phone to her ear. I was grateful for my vampiric hearing as it allowed me to listen into both sides of the conversation.

 

T he phone rang for a worryingly long time, before it was answered by a rough male’s voice. “Black.”

 

Bella seemed startled for a moment before I watched as she schooled her features. It was like a carefully constructed mask fell into place, and I quickly recognised it as the one she wore while she worked. “Hello, I was wondering if I could please speak to Jacob Black.” Bella spoke clearly and politely, as if this were any other professional phone call.

 

“Speaking.” The male voice replied with a small amount of suspicion. “Who is this?” Jacob Black demanded.

 

“It’s Izzie.” Bella quickly replied. I was momentarily stunned by Bella’s choice of name, and even Bella seemed shocked and for a moment her mask fell as she grimaced, “uh, Isabella,” She quickly corrected, “… Isabella Swan.”

 

As the silence on the other side of the phone grew I could hear Bella’s heartbeat get louder and faster as her anxiety sky rocketed. “Bella?” Jacob replied in a stunned voice.

 

I then witnessed how Bella’s anxiety rapidly morphed into anger. Her jaw clenched and her eyes became hard and cold, her entire body tensed as she replied. “Izzie. But it’s nice to know that you remember me.” She sneered cruelly down the line. Jacob began to stutter out an apology mixed with excuses, but it was like Bella didn’t even hear him. “Yes. I’m sure you are very sorry.” Her tone was wholly unsympathetic and clearly conveyed her disbelief at the werewolf’s remorse. Jacob Black stopped his blubbering and Bella continued, “I have recently regained some memories… and I have questions about the accident. Questions I think you are… uniquely qualified to answer.”

 

There was a beat of silence, “Bell-Izzie, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jacob replied anxiously.

 

I winced on behalf of the werewolf on the phone, that was most definitely the wrong thing to say.

 

“Don’t. Don’t even try to lie to me Jacob Black!” Bella snapped, her hand that wasn’t holding the phone clenched into a tight fist. “I know you were there! And I know all about the wolves.”

 

“Look, I can explain-” Jacob started but Bella once again cut him off.

 

“Good. But I don’t want to have this conversation over the phone. I want to look at you while you explain to me exactly what happened, and then I want you to explain to me why you abandoned me immediately after!” Bella paused and her anger faded slightly into sadness, “I thought you were my friend, Jake.”

 

Jacob didn’t seem to know how to answer that, “When can you come to the res?” I could tell he was barely controlling his emotions.

 

“I can’t. Well more accurately, my boyfriend and his family can’t.” Bella snapped,

 

“For fuck’s sake! The Cullen’s? Are you fucking kidding me Bells!?” The werewolf raged.

 

“You have no right!” Bella raged right back, yelling into the phone. “You have no right to judge me after what you’ve done! And you owe me this, Jacob Black.” Bella was quickly losing her composure and she sniffled as tears started to streak down her face, “After everything I have been through, after everything you forced me to endure alone, you owe me this.”

 

“Fine.” Jacob snapped angrily. “Wednesday at 11. At the Cullen’s old place.”

 

Before Bella could respond the line went dead. She pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at it blankly. I would see Bella’s emotional resolve quickly crumbling and I got on my knees in front of her and gently took the cell phone from her hand before I passed it wordlessly to Carlisle behind me. I wasn’t sure if she was about to throw it across the room in anger, or dissolve into tearful sobs.

 

Silent tears were running down her face as she looked at me with a watery smile on her lips. She released a laugh that was more a sob before she said, “Well, that could have gone a lot worse.”

Chapter Text

 

Bella’s POV

 

 

It was decided. The entire Cullen Clan would come with me and Edward to Forks to meet with Jake. It wasn’t decided by me, of course. In fact I tried to persuade them that it was unnecessary, that Edward’s presence would be enough moral support for the emotional encounter ahead. I didn’t want to interrupt their lives anymore than I already had, Carlisle had work and the others had college classes to attend. I didn’t mention the real reason I fought against their presence. I didn’t want them there to see what would no doubt be an explosive reunion.

 

I didn’t like being vulnerable in front of others. If I was in more pain than usual during work, I would take a smoke break and do my best to power through it. I had spent so long being weak, being helpless with every nerve exposed and on display, that I now found comfort in a level of emotional distance. When I had met Edward – the second time – I didn’t understand how he could break through my walls so quickly, so completely. I also didn’t understand why it didn’t bother me. When others had tried, I had become defensive. My hackles rose like a feral dog that had been backed into a corner and I lashed out at them, firmly placing them at a safe distance. Friends, sure, but never close friends or anything more.

 

W hen my memories came back, it all made so much sense. Why I felt complete whenever he was nearby. How he could so easily chip away at the brick and mortar of my defences until all that was left was rocks and rubble. Even if my mind had forgotten, somewhere on some instinctual and primal level of my being, I knew Edward was safe. That he had been what I was missing. So I hadn’t minded when he saw me at my worst. I didn’t mind when he saw me crying my eyes out, or writhing in pain on the bar-room floor. And I knew I wouldn’t mind him witnessing what I was expecting to be a breakdown of massive proportions once I finally spoke to Jake face to face.

 

B ut there was no way in Hell that I wanted Edward’s family to see that.

 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to say all that without hurting their feelings. Which I was trying very hard not to do. So when Carlisle insisted that the entire family be there, not just for moral support, but to ensure my safety, I couldn’t fight him on it.

 

E than didn’t hesitate to pick Anthony up for a sleep over, not minding one bit as he was still trying to convince Jackie to get a cat of their own and figured Anthony to be the perfect thing to seal the deal. And while the rest of the family went to retrieve their own vehicles and start the drive to Forks , I quickly packed a bag. It was a little over 3 hours to Forks, and I didn’t want to wait for Wednesday to leave. I figured that getting the re a couple of days early would allow me to settle in, so to speak. Not to mention I was completely dreading the 3 hour drive, and the number it would do on my already aching hips, so I figured giving myself a day or so to recover from the drive before having to face Jake was a good idea.

 

I pulled the zipper of my duffle-bag closed, and Edward’s pale hand appeared to gently pry the strap away, “Here, let me.” He murmured. I let Edward take the bag, and I didn’t fight him when he put a supporting arm around my waist and all but carried me out to his car.

 

I couldn’t tell if it was guilt or affection that made Edward want to do things for me, but regardless it seemed to make him happier when I let him. So I let him. Edward opened the passenger side door for me and helped me lower myself into the car, and then before I could even buckle myself in, Edward was already in the driver’s seat starting the engine.

 

 

X xXx

 

 

T he silence felt wrong. For the past hour, Edward had driven with careful precision in profound silence. Older memories were beginning to become clearer to me now, and I could remember the earlier days of our relationship with such clarity it was almost as if I had never forgotten them at all. I could remember my mother’s face, pale skin like my own, mark ed with dozens of freckles. I couldn’t remember where she was now, though. Or why she had seemingly disappeared. I could remember Arizona, and moving to Forks, I couldn’t quite remember why I did that though. Another thing I could remember, with absolute certainty was that Edward drove like a madman possessed.

 

T he silence felt… terrible. For the past week our silence had been easy, cosy and comforting. Now it felt heavy with unspoken words, unspoken questions and a lingering anxiety. Whose anxiety, I couldn’t say. I couldn’t take it anymore.

 

Why are you driving so slow?” I blurted out, the first words spoken between us since we got into the car.

 

E dward frowned as he glanced at me, “I’m driving the speed limit, Bella.” His frown t old me he was confused by my question, even if his voice was even and g ave away nothing.

 

I just… you used to drive so fast. Dangerously fast, and now you’re not and I just… I wanted to know why.” I mumbled out, regret bloomed in my chest. I shouldn’t have said anything.

 

It used to frighten you, back then. Given everything that’s happened… I didn’t want to frighten you.” I watched as Edward replied, and when he saw me staring at him he smiled softly.

 

Thank you.” I murmured, facing back to stare out the windscreen.

 

T he silence is back. Somehow it’s worse than before.

 

You remember how I used to drive.” It’s Edward who breaks the silence this time. His words were confident, a statement, not a question.You said that you remembered everything… but then you said that there were gaps. I am wondering…what else do you remember?”

 

I worr ied my bottom lip with my teeth for a moment before I shrug ged hopelessly , “I don’t know. Lots of stuff I guess.”

 

Do you remember when I took you to the prom?” Edward’s voice seemed lighter, hopeful.

 

My mind is like a swamp, muddy and murky and I don’t think all my memories are in the right order. They are jumbled, images and memories with no context in which to place them. I push through and try and muddle out any memory of the prom.

 

I remember us dancing together?” I offer weakly, “There were fairy lights and… I had my leg in a cast.” The memory was fuzzy, feeling more like the memories of a dream than of something that actually happened. Like the memory of the stories Charlie’s friends used to tell me, words and crinkled photographs blurred until I couldn’t say whether I actually remembered that fishing trip when I was 10 or if I just wanted to so badly I could almost smell the salt water of the ocean.

 

Yes!” Edward breathed in a whispered exclamation, “That was our junior prom. Your leg was broken because of James.”

 

I remember James.” I replied quickly, I didn’t want the oppressive silence to return.“His coven interrupted the baseball game. He wanted to hurt me, but you stopped him.” My words became less certain the more I spoke, those memories weren’t all that clear to me either. Red eyes and fiery pain bled together until I wasn’t sure if I was remembering Jame’s attack or the car accident.

 

It wasn’t me, actually. It was Emmett and Jasper that stopped him.” Edward replied,

 

All I remember is you.” I shrugged, I didn’t know what he wanted me to say. The silence felt threatening again, and Edward seemed to like it when I remembered the prom so I searched my mind for another memory. I remember when you saved me in Port Angeles.” I eventually said. I tried to be subtle in the way I looked over to gauge his reaction.

 

E dward was a master at hiding his reactions, but I still caught the way his hands tightened around the steering wheel. “ Of all the things to remember.” He muttered bitterly.

 

I opened my mouth to murmur an apology, but quickly closed it. I didn’t have anything to apologise for, and the urge to do so was part of who I used to be.

 

A relic of a forgotten past.

 

S o instead of apologising I say, “I remember you playing the piano for me…” I pause d for a moment, unsure of what I was about to say next. Unsure because I still wasn’t convince it was a memory, it seemed like a fantasy, a piece of romantic fiction. “ A meadow?” It ends up sounding more like a question.

 

E dward’s lips curl into a soft, hopeful smile. “You remember our meadow?”

 

So it’s real then.” I remarked in confused astonishment. “I… I wasn’t sure if it was real or just a dream.” I confess in a whisper.

 

We can visit it, if you’d like.” Edward’s words were a promise, “While we are in Forks.”

 

I’d like that.”

 

T he silence returns, but it’s not as hostile as it was before.

 

Do you know what you’re going to say to him?” Edward asked.

 

H e didn’t need to say who he was talking about. We both knew.

 

Honestly? No idea. Probably just get some clarification on what happened, and why he didn’t help me afterwards.” Tears sting in my eyes as I think about Jacob’s betrayal, his abandonment. I huff out an angry breath and blink them away. I didn’t want to cry, I wanted to be angry.

 

Hey,” Edward cooed, “It’s alright. Whatever happens, whatever he has to say. I’ll be right there with you.” He reached out and took my hand in his and gave it a soft squeeze.

 

I didn’t want to talk about this any more, I wanted to not think about it until I had to. “ Do you think we could stop somewhere for lunch soon? I’m hungry and I’d like to stretch my legs.”

 

Of course. There’s a road house up ahead.” Edward replied easily.

 

I nod my agreement as I shifted in my seat a little bit. I tried to hide the wince of pain at the movement, but no doubt Edward caught it anyway. He didn’t say anything about it though, which I appreciated. I looked down at our hands, fingers intertwined as they sat on the console between the seats.

 

Hey, Edward?” I smiled over at him,

 

Yes, love?” He glanced over at me and raised an eyebrow in question.

 

I love you.” The words were strong, easy. A declaration of an undeniable truth. No matter what else, werewolves, car crashes and forgotten memories, that was still the thing that was so clear to me. An unshakeable fact.

 

E dward’s soft smile widens into a toothy grin, his eyes glistened with happiness and gentle affection. “And I love you.”