The Twilight Saga

Carlisle's mistake (Have a read & tell me what ya think! :D)

Everything was still.
The morning rain clouds had parted – a rare occurrence, especially for this time of year - giving way to a warm spring sunlight that now shone triumphantly through the full length glass walls of Edward's room, the giant fir trees by the stream outside casting lively shadows across the ceiling. Dropping my pen and calculus book, I smiled as I felt it warm my legs and back, observed it as it shone through my hair which was growing long, flowing over my shoulders now, giving it a red tinge. I couldn’t have found a place more like home to me than Forks for one reason in particular, but I would never quite get used to the dreariness of the weather here – how I still missed the constant hot sunshine of Phoenix. I quickly dragged my mind away from thinking about my old town – any moment of sun here was precious and not to be wasted. I sighed contently, shaking my hair across my back and lying back on the warm, lusciously thick gold carpet, the shade of honeycomb in the sun’s rays.

"What are you thinking?"
He broke my reverie, his sharp hearing having caught my almost inaudible sigh, and I turned to find his liquid butterscotch eyes unexpectedly close to mine, an amused smile dancing on his full lips. Of course, the moment I saw Edward in the sun, the shadows, the honeycomb carpet, my reddened hair, even the warmth of its rays on my skin, seemed to completely lose all significance.
I gasped, needing a moment to take in the fantastic, sparkling form of the creature that lay beside me. The fact that I knew him so well now – perhaps almost as well as he knew me – didn’t mean I would ever get used to his utterly startling, beyond-this-world beauty. Just his crooked smile knocked the breath out of me, let alone his rainbow-shattering diamond form.

“Bella, did you hear me?”
His smile grew, knowing the effect he had on me all too well. I attempted to reply, but before I could speak his ice cool lips were on mine, his fingers braiding my hair. “What are you thinking right now?”, his velvet voice was broken by quiet laughter.
“You know exactly what I’m thinking. Now stop distracting me or I’ll never get any of this done”. I shoved Edward away playfully, planning to turn back to my books, and he rolled back onto the carpet, shutting his eyes, the smile not leaving his face. I couldn’t help myself, reaching over to wrap my arms around his neck, trapping his waist with my legs. Edward opened his eyes and laughed. “Our exam’s on Monday. We’ve been here for 3 hours and you’ve only done 10 questions.”
“You don’t even have to study,” I grumbled, clinging to him. “It must be handy knowing absolutely everything”.
“Being damned to eternity has to have some advantages”, he smiled.
“Mmm…” I lowered my head to press my lips to his, moving my hands to his bronze hair, which seemed to come alive in the sunlight.

Suddenly Edward’s lip froze and he pulled away abruptly, his body becoming tense beneath me.
“Edward, what-?” I trailed off the moment I raised my eyes to meet his. His expression was suddenly so dark and shocked, his eyes transformed from liquid to solid as they bore past me, that I struggled to find my words.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” I tried to shake his shoulders, but he was frozen still as stone, eyes wide, expression becoming more horrified by the second. “Edward!” I took his face in my hands and tried in vain to pull him closer to me, failing miserably.
The sun had retreated once again behind the ragged clouds. In a split second Edward had disentangled himself from me, dissapearing downstairs in a movement too fast for my own eyes to follow. For a moment I sat dumbly on the floor beside my books, so surprised by such a sudden change in the atmosphere of what had until seconds ago been a lazy, relaxed, perfect afternoon, before pulling myself up and sprinting down to the kitchen after him.
He stood pressed motionlessly against the glass wall, eyes still glassy, hands clenched into fists beside him. Alice, Emmet, Jasper & Esme entered noiselessly beside me and were staring at him too, seeming to have as little idea of what was happening as I did.
"Well, are you going to tell me what's going on?" Alice demanded, breaking the tense silence, speaking for all of us. This worried me - Alice, with her unique ability to see the future, usually always knew exactly what was going on. "Your plans are changing so quickly I can't keep up. It's all blurry". Alice frowned as she concentrated, trying to make some sense of the unique visions confronting her. We watched with alarm as her expression became a mirror of Edward's, a gasp escaping her lips.
"What did Carlisle do? Edward, I don't understand."
"Carlisle?" calm, quiet Esme made no effort to hide the panic in her voice. Jasper laid a comforting hand on her shoulder, but she shook it off.

"Come on! When are the rest of us going to get in on this?!" Emmet roared in frustration, grabbing his brother by the shoulders and shaking him hard, hauling him away from the wall first as to no doubt avoid breaking a huge hole in the plaster, with his immeasurable strength.
Edward growled, slipping from beneath Emmet's iron grasp, then spun to face us.
"I'm sorry, Carlisle's not hurt. Something's happened - I'll have to explain later." He'd already shrugged on his jacket. I followed him down the hall, having to run to keep up. "You are at least going to tell me where you're going!"
Edward grabbed his keys. I threw my arms around his waist, restraining him as well as a fragile human 17 year-old girl possible could a frantic stone-skinned, able-to-stop-cars-with-one-hand vampire. He turned and took my face in his cool hands, for one moment tracing the line of my cheekbone to my temple. My own hands moved to his chest.
"Carlisle made a mistake. I've just got to go and help him fix it. We shouldn't be long". He kissed my hair briefly, then turned to the door.
"Wait," I shouted. "what kind of mistake?"
Too late. The door had closed, the only reply the powerful roar of a V12 engine rocketting down the drive.
"Well, Alice?" Re-entering the kitchen, we all stood tensely around the table, the vampires still as stone, me shifting anxiously from foot to foot.
"Edward's gone to the hospital," Alice began, still concentrating hard. "Carlisle's there... they're in the carpark". Her forehead creased, eyes narrowing. Slowly she lifted them from the floor to meet each of ours, before coming to rest on Esme's worried face.
"There's blood, Esme".
My own heart began to race frantically. Could vampires bleed? Was it Carlisle's blood? Edward's? Oh, god - was Edward hurt? I couldn't even consider such a thought for a second, clutching at the chair for support as my legs began to shake.
Jasper, the most calm of all of us, took Alice's arm and nudged her encouragingly. "Is someone hurt, Alice?"
"No" Her reply was faint. I breathed a sigh of relief, still holding tightly onto the chair. Everyone else remained motionless.
"Somebody's dead."
The word - such a hopeless, awful word - came out as a strangled squeak. I couldn’t breathe. My legs shook uncontrollably, threatening to give way beneath me, and around me the grand living room was beginning to blur and spin. A very small part of me hoped fate would at least spare me the embarrassment of fainting in front of my vampire family. It was a shallow, small-minded hope, particularly at a time like this, but I hoped it nonetheless.
“It’s not Edward, Bella. Like I said, he and Carlisle aren’t hurt,” Alice gushed hurriedly, her expression suggesting she had realised how close I was to collapsing.
“Charlie, Jake?” again, squeaked.
“No, Bella”, Alice moved around the table and took me firmly by the arms to steady me. “It’s a patient at the hospital – we don’t know her. Now breathe”.

The force of relief that came upon me at that moment almost caused me to faint anyway, a physical wave of it so strong I narrowly avoided falling straight into Alice, and I laughed giddily as I leaned on the chair for support.

I had not released my hold on it, and still held on so tightly that my knuckles had turned completely white and my hands were aching.
“Easy on the furniture, Bells”. Emmet chuckled and made a show of releasing the chair from my intense grip, pretending to struggle as he effortlessly straightened out each of my fingers one by one. There was an apprehensive edge to his snigger that I’d never detected before.
Emmett was nervous?
It took me a moment to realise that, in fact, it appeared that no-one else had shared in my momentary wave of exhilaration. Their expressions remained anxious and confused, not so much as a shade of relief colouring their gold eyes.
I didn’t understand. As guilty as I felt for not feeling much grief for a stranger’s death, people died in hospitals all the time. Why was this any different? What had made Edward react so strangely? What had Carlisle done?
“What’s the problem, then?” I muttered, embarrassed by my seemingly inappropriate reaction to Alice’s news.
“Carlisle and Edward are planning to move her. They don’t know where yet, or how. They may not have a chance – it’s going to be busy,” Alice murmered - she didn’t hear me. Her eyes were clenched tightl shut as she concentrated
“What’s busy? Why are they moving her?”
Alice still didn’t respond. She opened her eyes and focussed on Esme, whose returning gaze was so shocked that I gasped; it was apparent that she had read something in Alice’s words that I had missed.
“Alice,” Esme’s dulcet voice was little more than a whisper.
“Please tell me that what I’m thinking is wrong.”
I watched on in surprise as her words became pleading, her own legs beginning to shake slightly.
“Tell me it didn’t happen – that he can’t have done it.”
Alice only nodded mechanically. “It’s the only explanation”.
And then I was hit with another wave – this one not of relief, but of a horror – as I realised Carlisle’s mistake.
Was it truly possible that after over 350 years of such a flawless record and strong will, working in hospitals, having never had human blood touch his lips, Carlisle could be tempted enough to take a human life, right there in the place that he worked and loved so dearly?
It seemed so impossible to accept, the idea of Carlisle killing a human being, let alone one of the patients he had always had such great compassion for, that for minutes, or perhaps hours, we stood - four vampires and a vulnerable human being - at the dining table, as the weight of such a truth set in.

carlisle's thoughts were so ragged and piercing with fury that it was completely impossible to hear anything - not even the car's engine - but the raging war within his mind. So intense was the anger aimed directly at himself that i could actually see the red haze that blurred his vision, almost blinding him.
Blinding me.
My head was pounding so painfully that it was a struggle to resist the strong force willing me to let go of the steering wheel and leap out of the car altogether.
"carlisle, stop. You really must calm down," i hissed desperately once again, but my words didn't register in his thoughts.
The deafening war raged on, louder. Beside me, he sat completely rigid, the expression on his face that of a stranger's; so different from his own.
Pulling into the hospital car park and seeing him standing there with vivid cromson eyes, the sweet, almost overwhelming, scent of human blood still fresh on his lips had been so startling, so entirely opposed to everything i'd ever known, that it seemed that the image had been sliced clean into me. I could feel it in my stomach, my chest, burned into the backs of my eyelids. I couldn't escape it.
It was all too much.
"Carlisle, stop!" shouted now, as i slammed my foot on the brake and pulled abruptly up onto the curb.
"I'm so sorry, Edward". His head was in his hands. I turned to study the steering wheel.
"I've let you down", he continued, his voice a hoarse whisper. "everything i've taught you. Everything good i thought i'd made for this family, and i'm the one who destroys it."
"Please don't think like this right now," I finally managed, trying in vain to offer him some comfort. "We've got to try and fix this while we still have a chance".
It was a very small chance.
Perhaps it didn't even exist, but there was no need for me to tell Carlisle that. Not my own father.
Not now.

"This will ruin him" From the sound of Esme's broken voice, it would ruin her too. I wanted badly to reach out and hug her but my bod ywas still frozen in shock. I had known from almost the very beginning that Edward had tasted human blood before, during his rebellious phase of over half a century ago, although "human" was a loose interpretation; his victims had hardly been worth life itself anyway. He had never killed an innocent. And now Carlisle had. The image of Carlisle with blood red eyes, like James' or Victoria's - I shuddered at the sheer memory of their names - was all but impossible to form in my mind. I didn't try very hard.
"Esme, come on," Emmett coaxed gently. "We're vampires. Think about it; we were made to drink human blood. We can't blame ourselves for the odd slip up. It happens"
"It may happen to you, Emmet", muttered Alice. "But not Carlisle, and you know that."
Suddenly her head snapped up. "They're here", she whispered urgently.

We waited in tense silence, and in less than a minute, the roar of a car engine became audible in the distance, it's rapidly increasing volume indicating Edward was driving: Fast.
Within moments the car had pulled into the garage, the sound of soft footsteps approaching the front door. We waited, and a streak of panic shivered thorugh me from head to toe as I realised I was about to share the house with a vampire who had only just killed a human. A human like me.
I tried to shrug away the chilling thought to stop myself from almost collapsing again. I knew what I was getting myself into by becoming involved with a vampire family, and I was determined that I would not, for everyone, for Edward, see Carlisle differently because of this. Edward would keep me safe.
It was him who appeared first at the entrance of the hall. Seeing him standing there, knowing he was here and he was fine, brought warmth flooding through my vains, completely expelling the chill, and forgetting about our audience, I ran to throw my arms around him.
For an all-too-short moment he wordlessly pulled me firmly up against him, lifting me off the floor a little. I pressed my lips to his collarbone, his shoulder, his neck, breathing in his glorious scent, before he set me down and, putting his hands on my arms, distanced us so that he could see my face. I was about to protest and bury my head in his chest when I caught sight of his eyes, and the reality dawned on me that he was far from fine.
"Edward..." I reached up to touch his face. He didn't say anything, closing his eyes. I was going to stroke his cheek when unexpectedly he took me around the waist and pulled me swiftly into his side, my head cradled in the crook of his arm. All I could see was the white wall behind us and the fragrant navy wool of his pullover. Again I wrapped my arms around him, as always glad to feel him so close to me, but surprised by his sudden movement. When I heard the door reopen and a second pair of footstep, accompanied by a disturbing but recogniseable snarl, storm past us, I understood. I wriggled around, trying to see Carlisle, but I was stuck fast. I managed to strain my neck to see Edward's jaw. He was shaking his head.
"Bella, I need to take you home."
At that, he basically swept me into my coat and out the door before I even had a chance to respond.
We drove to my house in total silence, his car a silver streak against the darkening sky. It was difficult to tell if dusk had arrived, for the thunderous clouds gave no hope of the sun shining through. Within no time at all we had pulled up metres from the house. Charlie, who had left during the afternoon to spend the weekend fishing, had made sure the porch light was on for us. Good old Charlie. Edward seemed to have no intention of moving as I opened the passenger door.
“Aren’t you coming in?” I knew he would probably be needed at home at a time like this, but couldn’t help but ask anyway.
“I can’t, Bella. Carlisle is – “he trailed off,
“Won’t you tell me what you’re thinking?” I imitated his voice from this afternoon, adding in a little more of a seductive tone, and trying to smile. “I can’t read your mind either, remember.”
He turned to face me, wide gold eyes glowing softly in the increasingly dim light. “What happened today didn’t go unnoticed”. His voice was dark. “The Volturi know about it”
My blood froze. “What?!”
“They were already suspicious of our lifestyle, being vegetarian, living in such close proximity with humans” He smiled bleakly, taking my hand and brushing his lips across my knuckles to demonstrate his meaning. I laughed shakily.
“Why on earth is this any of their business?” I demanded, pulling my hand away. “I know Carlisle did the wrong thing and he’ll be furious with himself for it, but the Volturi kill hundreds every day just for the pleasure of it” I shivered; The image of the old woman with the rosary beads wondering down that dark tunnel, completely oblivious to the horrific fate awaiting her, was one I would never, could never, forget. “How did they find out, anyway?” Were the Volturi in Forks? Was Aro here? Jane?
“Please tell me they’re not here, not at the hospital”. My heart, which had already suffered enough today, started to increase in pace again.
Edward sighed, and once again turned to stare out the windshield.
“No they’re not here, but they might be on their way. Carlisle wasn’t alone in the room with his patient when he caught the scent of her blood. There were witnesses.”
Someone had seen Carlisle drink his patient’s blood? I cringed at the image my mind conjured up; how terrifying it would be to witness something like that, even for someone like me who knew more than just something about the vampire world. Edward had always refused to allow me to see him hunting, for which I had been secretly grateful, even though I complained about being away from him; until I was a vampire myself, I feared that seeing him hunt might make me as scared of him as I was apparently supposed to be. I pictured the terror of an unassuming nurse walking in on a vampire – until that moment a creature they considered to be nothing more than make-believe – sucking the life from another human. I remembered all too well the pain of being bitten by James and the fire that had burned through my body as his razor-sharp teeth stabbed into my own flesh, but had never considered how it would have felt should Edward not have rescued me; I couldn’t even begin to imagine the agony of having his teeth sink deeper into me, the blood drained clean from my veins.

“Bella!” Edward was holding my face, staring at me with intense concern. I was shivering violently, one hand clutching my wrist with the crescent shape moon. The sky was completely black, and rain drops were beginning to fall on the windscreen, illuminated by the yellow porch light. I blinked, trying to squeeze the thoughts from my mind.
“Calm down, it’s alright”. He stroked my hair. I tried to relax my tensed muscles, allowing my face to rest in his hands.
“Edward, how could Carlisle have given in so easily? My blood is so sweet for you, and yet you’ve never hurt me” It didn’t make any sense – Carlisle had told me once that he was all but desensitised to the scent of human blood.
“He didn’t give in easily. There’s no such thing as easy” Edward’s reply was sharp and fast, and I sat up straight again in surprise. He let go of my chin, and ran a hand through his hair.
“I’m sorry” his expression was anguished. “I suppose I don’t understand either, but I know for sure that Carlisle wouldn’t have done something like this had he seen a choice – I’ve never seen him so hurt or angry before.”
I was furious with myself for being so unfeeling. I leaned my head into his shoulder, breathing in his delicious fragrance for reassurance. “I’m sorry”, I whispered into his arm. “I forgot – this is as bizarre for you as it is for me.”
“Yeah” his reply broke just a little. For minutes we sat there in silence, listening to the gentle but unyielding rain spatter on the roof, staring out into the blackness.
“What does this mean, then?” I finally managed. “Has the witness said anything?”
“His thoughts were pretty jumbled with shock – hopefully he’ll think it was just his imagination”. Edward’s voice didn’t sound hopeful. “It would have been the safest thing for us to kill him”, he muttered, shame in his tone. He glanced at me to see if this was going to be too much. I nodded, signalling for him to continue.
“But obviously, we’d done enough damage for one day. Carlisle couldn’t take it as it was – I suggested it, but he couldn’t think for a second about taking a second life for his own convenience – that’s not Carlisle”
“I know.”
Edward sighed and started the motor again. “I’ve really got to get back. I’ll see you tomorrow, and hopefully things will be a little clearer by then.”
I didn’t want to leave him, but knew I didn’t really have a choice, so reluctantly kissed him goodbye, stepped out of the car and headed to the front door.
It was strange going into the house alone, as it had been so long now since I hadn’t either stayed at Edward’s or had him come in with me when Charlie was out. I felt the cold silence seeping through my clothes and pricking my skin, the occasional creak of the old wooden floorboards making me jump. I decided on a nice hot shower to warm me up, but the soothing water couldn’t chase away the worry of what more news tomorrow would bring.
Giving up, I climbed into bed and curled into a tight ball, trying to focus on all the study I needed to do tomorrow for my exam. A rather awful thought, but still an improvement on contemplating the events of today. Awake for over an hour, I lay in the darkness, ears tuned to every noise around me, from the rustle of leaves and rain against the window to the odd car that sped past on the highway.
Unconsciousness eventually came with the hope that I’d wake with Edward beside me.

I hated leaving Bella alone like that, and dread filled me as I approached my house, blasting the radio to keep everyone’s thoughts from my head. I’d heard enough for one day.

My family were seated at the dining table, Carlisle and Esme holding hands on one side, Emmett opposite them. I didn’t look at Carlisle’s face, afraid of the anguish I’d see there. Rosalie had returned from her short trip to Alaska with Tania’s family and sat at the head. She had only just been vaguely filled in on today’s events and wanted me to tell her exactly what was happening. Jasper and Alice sat adjacent Rosalie, Alice leaning back, eyes closed. She glanced up at me with warning in her eyes. Don’t you dare tell me to sift through the future, alright? There’s nothing there. I smiled at her. Poor Alice had clearly been working in overdrive since Carlisle returned.
Thank God you’re back. Relief coloured Esme’s thoughts. I patted her shoulder as I passed, sitting beside Alice. Emmet was looking at Carlisle. Rosalie was looking at Emmet.
Jasper was contemplating battle strategies.
“Okay,” Esme began. “Let’s just summarise what happened today”. She placed her other hand on top of Carlisle’s and took a deep breath.
“Carlisle has accidentally taken a human’s life-”
“Stop.” Carlisle cut in suddenly, and opened his eyes to look at us.
“What happened today was not accidental. I was too weak to think clearly and succumbed to this sudden need for one person’s blood.” His voice shook. I traced patterns in the grains of wood in the table, trying hard not to think. It was not real, hearing these words from my father’s mouth.
“In all my years, I’ve never experienced coming so close to blood that sings for me – just like Edward said – and I was not strong enough to resist.” He was fighting hard to maintain the calm, authoritative role he played in the family, and his thoughts were determined to be strong for us now. As much as he was struggling to admit all this, he knew it was the right thing to do. Everyone was silent.
“I’ve put you all in great danger, by not only killing someone but by not doing it subtly… There was a witness, who lives.”
Rosalie gasped and was on her feet immediately. “Carlisle, this is ludicrous!” Her fist slammed into the table, leaving an indentation on the ancient oak.
“Rosalie!” Esme scolded her. “Carlisle was hardly going to take another innocent’s life.” Carlisle cringed.
“You are not seriously telling me that someone else in this town actually knows our secret? Who the hell was it that saw this, Carlisle? They need to be disposed of, and don’t you dare tell me that it’s the heartless thing to do.”
“Babe, sit down,” Emmet murmured, but now Rosalie was staring at me.
“Alright, well if Carlisle couldn’t do it, you should have been able to. Surely you see the sense of it”
I gazed at her steadily. “Sorry Rose, but I was a bit distracted by the need to get Carlisle out of the hospital before he proclaimed to the world that he was a vampire.” I tried to grin at Carlisle, who smiled weakly back. When I’d arrived at the hospital, Carlisle has been so astonished by what he’d done that he was repeating it to himself loudly over and over; it had taken all my strength to get him to focus on getting out of the car park.
Rosalie sat down again, fighting hard to avoid slamming her body so forcefully into the chair that it would split in two. she threw her head into her hands, letting her blonde ringlets cascade across her face.
"Well I guess this is it, then", she sighed dramatically, fixing each of us with an icy stare. "The end of yet another attempt at living, hey. Time for me to move one again, pretending to be yet another something that I'm not?"
I closed my eyes to stay calm, pushing back the fire building fast inside me. Now was not the time to waste energy with Rosalie - I had slightly more important things to worry about.
"Are you done?' Carlisle's voice was shaking. "Believe it or not, as much as it was my stupid, thoughtless fault, this has hurt others asides from you, Rose". Rosalie slowly raised her eyes to meet his, and I could sense her pang of anxiety and shame as she grasped how much this was hurting Carlisle. I allowed my mind to read his for a moment, and still the silently deafening, crimson war clouded his vision, though he did not let anyone else in the family see. I winced involuntarily, hoping no one would notice. Alice did, and nudged my leg gently under the table. I shook my head, having to hum quietly to myself to once again drown out the raging thoughts.
“I’m sorry Carlisle”, Rosalie’s voice was repentant. “Please continue. I won’t interrupt again”.
“I am still struggling to figure out how on earth it happened, but it would appear that somehow the person who saw… the incident… has spoken about it and been overheard by another vampire.” Carlisle gestured for me to speak.
“Apparently they called a friend in Canada to tell them that they’d seen a real life vampire,” I muttered, not able to keep a mocking tone from my voice. Humans adored the prospect of the existence of such terrifying creatures as ourselves, and yet most walked past us every single day, totally oblivious. Our family had spent so long existing without hurting people, as we’d been designed to do, despite the everlasting ache for human blood, and now we slip up once and they jump at the opportunity to tell the world.
It wasn’t fair, but that was how it was.
“Canada”. Alice stated bluntly. “The Volturi are in Canada”.
I simply nodded. “They called me.”
“What?!” Rosalie screeched, jumping to her feet again.
“When did you give them your goddamn number? I suppose you’re-“
“I didn’t give them my number” I snarled, standing up and leaning toward her in one swift movement so that my eyes were centimetres from hers.
“Edward, sit down.” Great, so now I was in trouble. I slumped back in my seat, and Carlisle took up the conversation again; “Having lived with them a number of years, I know a thing or two about the Volturi. They have spies everywhere, ways of finding out everything, making sure that we keep in line. It’s mainly to protect the secret, -“
“You mean protect themselves by making sure no-one discovers the skeletons in their closet,” I added.
“The only way to ensure vampires are safe is by keeping populations low and the number of people being killed minimal, localised, and subtle. The punishment for making mistakes is severe” Carlisle’s features twisted a little and everyone became more rigid, if that were possible.
“The only reason they don’t check up on us is because of my friendship with Aro – I gave him my word that I wouldn’t let my family taste human blood, that no-one would ever find out about us here. I was wrong.”
“So they know what happened, then,” Esme murmured quietly. “What now happens now?”
At that, we all turned to Alice, who was looking at me.
I had known what she would see before the vision had come to her.
“They’re coming here. They’re not entirely decided on how to deal with it yet.” They’re not decided on a punishment yet. That was what she was thinking. Jasper’s arms went protectively around Alice’s shoulders, and Rosalie shifted to settle on Emmet’s lap.
“Well, I suppose they’ll have to sort something out with you.”
Emmet spoke to Carlisle for the first time. “You’re their friend - I’m sure they’ll understand – you’re like family to them. And our family will be fine.” He spoke with confidence. “It won’t be like they’ll want anything to do with us – it’ll all be fine.”
“No, Emmett,” Alice said icily, her eyes still on me.
“It will not be fine. They’re sure as anything not Carlisle’s friends anymore”.
She turned to face him.
“And they’re going to punish all of us.”

Edward wasn’t there when I woke up. As worried as I was, as much as I wanted to find out what was happening, I decided on cramming for my calculus instead, letting him call when he was ready.
Of course he didn’t call; who would when it was so easy to simply materialise in my bedroom. One moment I was alone, sprawled across my bed with only my books to keep me company in the gloomy afternoon, the next he was in sitting cross-legged in front of me, not a strand of hair out of place. Smiling, relieved, I pushed my notes from my bed and kissed him. “Carlisle any better?” I asked, while other questions pulsed in my head.
“He’s okay.” His eyes didn’t meet mine, wanting to say so much more than his words allowed.
“The witness? The Volturi?” I urged impatiently.
“Bella…” He seemed to take a sudden interest my bedcovers, fiddling agitatedly with the purple satin. “I’m really sorry.”
“What?” I pulled away now, hands on hips, trying to hide the tremor in my voice. Whatever it was serious, and I needed to know it.
“They're going to punish all of us. Leaving is going to be the only way to make sure no-one else gets hurt. I’m so sorry.”
I stood up slowly, waiting for the numbness that was currently streaming through my veins to turn into something of substance – something I could feel.
Then again, perhaps I did not want to feel.
“You’re telling me… You’re leaving?” I had meant it as a statement, but my voice squeaked at the end, the words carving all too familiar gashes into my heart, slicing into the scars that I was sure had just healed.
I couldn’t deal with this.
“Take me to your house. Now,” the order was sharp, as I grabbed Edward’s shirt to pull him from the bed, trying to keep my mind blank; otherwise I would not be able to do this.
“Bella, listen to me. I-“His voice was agonised. I couldn’t look at him, grabbing my coat from my closet.
“Will you just do it, okay?”
Not saying a word, he slipped me onto his back and leapt smoothly from the window. I clutched onto his neck, hiding from reality in the smooth scent of his hair as he ran, but still it surrounded my head, offering little comfort – all I could imagine was the prospect of never feeling his hair again. By the time we arrived at the Cullens’ panelled-oak door, I couldn’t see anything. Nothing but my future without him, stretched before me like a scorching desert without a trace of shade, or water; just an empty life, as constant and unrelenting as the death that comes after it.
I would not deal with this.
Summoning all my strength as he set me on my feet again, I forced my panic into rage, and shot through the doorway.
“Carlisle! Get here!” I shouted, knowing he would hear me. Even Edward had trouble keeping up with me, caught off guard by my anger as I stormed into the dining room. The whole family was there, all probably surprised as well – I was usually very polite around the family – today I couldn’t have cared less.
“How could you have done something like this?” my face was burning as I addressed Carlisle. “You’re going to take everyone away with you, so that they will all be hurt for your own stupid mistake?”
“Please, you must understand-“Carlisle began, but I wasn’t finished.
“So that you can forget about the carnage you’ve left here, the pain you yourself have inflicted on innocent people?” I couldn’t even contemplate the words flowing from my mouth; my voice was like a swollen river – destructive and unstoppable, even for me.
“Edward can’t suffer just because you were too weak to do what he does so well, and if you have to die for this, don’t-“
Then in one moment, I went from staring right into Carlisle’s blood red eyes to watching the carpet swaying beneath me, a fuming growl from behind followed by arms around my waist. Disorientated, I eventually realised I had been thrown over Edward’s shoulder, and he was carrying me up the stairs at lightening pace. He swiftly opened his bedroom door, entered, and then shut it, still with me in a firm hold. In the next split second, I was pinned against the wall; Edward’s dark eyes so close that they were barely in focus, his arms pressing against the wall, creating a cage around me, a suppressed but still dangerous growl vibrating deep in his throat. I shrank back, dazed – he had never looked at me like that before – so furious.
“What the hell was that, Bella?” he hissed. I felt his sweet break fill my nostrils, which didn’t help me reorientate myself. I shook my head, confused.
I couldn’t remember what had happened. I couldn’t remember my name.
“What is it?” I asked.
“How could you do that to Carlisle? He’s suffering enough himself as it is. You didn’t need to go and, and scream at him like that,” his eyes had become black as night. “This is complicated, and you know it.”
Blinking, I remembered what I’d said. How on earth could I have been so thoughtless? Still, I knew I couldn’t let up now – if I had to fight, I would fight.
“Edward, I’m sorry, really I am, but you have to see what I mean – you can’t go with him”, I was fighting hard not to dissolve into tears.
“Yes I can – I have to. Can’t you see that? He’s always been there for me, and now it’s time for me to support him.”
“Alright,” I said, shoving against his chest. He didn’t move. “You support Carlisle, then. But don’t you dare tell me you’re leaving.”
“What?” his growl hadn’t ceased. “You’d prefer that we wait, so that the Volturi come here?” I tried to look away, but a cool finger lifted my chin. “They’re furious with us – we don’t know what they’ll do, and we can’t do that Bella. Staying here isn’t safe.” The growl stopped now. I pushed against his chest again, and he lowered his arms, releasing me from my cage.
“You made me a promise – y-you promised me you wouldn’t leave me,” I whispered feebly. Edward closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
“I know Bella, but I can’t put you in danger either.” His voice sounded so sure, so certain. It was unbearable.
“No!” I shouted, shoving against him again, pushing him over to the bed. He let me, eyes still closed. “This hasn’t got anything to do with me at all!”
He opened his eyes. “You don’t want me – you don’t want to be with me – you’re just taking the easy way out, and-”
“Bella, where could you have possibly got that idea from?” The growl was back. “You should no by now – I’ve told you – I do want to be with you, of course, but I have a duty to my family, and I can’t let you – I won’t let you - get hurt.”
“You have a duty to me too,” I argued, struggling to see Edward’s face through the film of tears clinging to my lashes, hopelessness – a feeling I was all too familiar with – creeping around me, making me shiver. “Edward, nothing could hurt me worse than you leaving. You know that. I couldn’t care less about being killed by the Volturi”.
Suddenly, I was pinned against the wall again, so fast that it almost hurt. Not that I was particularly worried by physical pain right now. He could throw me through the wall if he liked – compared to how I was feeling now, it sounded almost enjoyable.
“I care, Bella,” he hissed. “I can’t let the Volturi punish Carlisle, and if he must be punished, then surely I – the one whose spent his whole life making mistakes that Carlisle’s had to clean up – should suffer much more. And I cannot let you anywhere near the Volturi, Bella. I can’t stand being away from you, but this is the only way.” By the end his voice was soft, defeated. He moved a couple of feet away from me, pressing his forehead to the wall.
“Fine then,” I murmured, sounding surprisingly composed. I knew these next words would hurt him, and I so badly didn’t want to do that, but I had to.
“But next time Rosalie gives you a call about me, Alice won’t have made a mistake.”

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That did it.
Edward slammed his head into the wall with such force that the whole house seemed to shake. Stunned, I stood there in silence as plaster rained down on my hair, stifling a sneeze as the dust tickled my nose. He stood motionlessly, head still against the now part-crumpled wall.
“You’re making me choose between you and my family, Bella.” He whispered, all the anger seeming to have dissipated, leaving nothing in the space between us.
I had never seen him so tortured. How could I have been so cruel? I hated myself for it, but there were not words I could take back. The situation was impossible.
"I'm sorry". Edward whispered, staring at the damage he had done to the wall in dismay.

Then, unexpectedly, he turned to me with the look of a child who'd just been caught stealing biscuits from the pantry - a sheepish grin flashing across his face - and shook his head, raining powdery white plaster all over me. I couldn't help but sneeze and Edward couldn't help but chuckle- somehow eventually we found ourselves lying on the golden carpet, covered in dust, shaking with laughter.

I allowed the moment to sweep me away - make me forget all that was going on for a little while - and Edward seemed perfectly content to do the same. Wiping the powder from his forehead, I leaned over and kissed his smiling lips, blatantly refusing to let my mind wonder how many more times I would have the chance to do it, and he kissed me back. With one hand caressing my neck, he brought us to a sitting position, and I ran my fingers through his bronze, shimmering hair, dislodging another cloud of powder which sent us into another round of hysterics, followed by another, more intense, kiss.
By the time our lips parted once again, I wasn't the only one short of breath.

"what are we going to do?" he whispered, rolling onto his back and staring wistfully at the ceiling.
Knowing what he was referring to, it was easier to play dumb;
"There's no way you're getting out of this," I murmered in reply. "Esme's going to absolutely kill you".
He turned back onto his side, facing me, all the humour now gone, but his eyes gentle, sad.
"yeah." his voice wavered just the tiniest bit.

I simply pulled off my cardigan, closed my eyes and curled closer into his chest.

Within minutes Bella was sound asleep. I had the feeling she hadn't had much of a peaceful night last night. I felt her warm breath fan my chest, her hair tangled beside my neck, her soft, fragile body pressing against mine. In sleep her face was so care-free, a slight smile seeming to play on her lips, escaping far from the troubles of this world.
Oh, the wonders of sleep.
I missed it so much it hurt.
Reluctantly, I slid my arm out from under her and crept toward the door so quietly that my sharp ears could barely pick up the ruffle of carpet beneath my feet . Bella didn't stir.
When I arrived back in the kitchen, Alice, Esme and Carlisle were on their way up the driveway - the whole family had left the house for the morning, knowing I needed some space to talk with Bella.
As Alice approached the door, I watched through the glass panels as she her brow furrowed, a gasp of surprise escaping her lips, obviously sensing a change in my future; I'd made a decision.
Esme and Carlisle stopped and sat on the front step of the porch. Esme was monitoring Carlisle’s every movement; Carlisle’s thoughts were not longer raging, replaced with an emptiness, almost solid in its lack of existence, that was even more painful. I was glad he was facing the river, so he wouldn’t see the tortured expression Alice saw in my face for a moment. She grabbed my arm, releasing me from Carlisle’s mind. I sat at the table and Alice seated herself across from me, letting me watch her visions. She saw our family being led by ghostly, black-cloaked vampires down a dark tunnel, disappearing slowly into the distance. The vision was the same as yesterday, only in this one I was missing.
“I’ve changed my mind, Alice,” I whispered, not wanting Carlisle to hear.
“I’m not going. I’m not leaving Bella.”
I winced, waiting for Alice to piece together my words with her visions - waiting for her to visualise the awful consequences I could be inflicting by abandoning my own family. Whether I accompanied them or not, the punishment the Volturi would impose was not going to be pleasant, only now perhaps I wouldn’t stand beside those who’ve stood beside me to face it, to protect them as best I could.

Alice surprised me.
Instead of the anger I was sure would overcome her, she shook her head - dragging herself back to the present moment - and then smiled at me, a flash of amusement bringing light to her pixie face. In her thoughts, I could see myself staring at her with an expression of utmost confusion. This didn’t make any sense.
“You do understand what I said, right?” I hissed, leaning closer toward her.
“Yes,” she replied calmly.
“I’m not coming with you, Alice." I tried to be a little clearer. "I’m not coming to be with you when you need me most”
I had known her to be a little vague sometimes - a common trait of those with such intellectual gifts - but now I was genuinely questioning her sanity.
Alice snorted. “Need you? Somebody’s a bit full of himself.” She smirked briefly, but then her face became grave.
“I knew you would decide to stay with her,” she said softly, her tone serious now. “You had to.”
Closing her eyes, she locked me into her memory of Bella on the day she’d returned following the cliff-jumping incident, illustrating perfectly the image of her as they sat together on Charlie’s living room sofa. Etched deep into Bella’s chocolate eyes, clear as dawn across an untouched ocean, was the sadness, the hurt… the emptiness…
I could barely stand to watch it, fists clenching tight as I forced my mind to stay with Alice’s memory, hating myself more and more with each moment that passed.

See what I mean? If you leave again, she won’t be able to deal with it, Edward. Surely you can see that. I really don’t think she could survive it.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, too ashamed to look my sister in the eye.

Carlisle will have the rest of us to support him - It makes sense that someone stay with Bella; she’s family too, after all.
Yes, she was. She was more than family. I flicked Alice a grateful smile.

The high ring of Rosalie’s voice, matched with the deep boom of Emmet’s, became evident a couple of miles away as the couple approached the house, signalling the end to me and Alice’s conversation. As they trudged through the front door, accompanied by Esme and Carlisle, I stole away back to my bedroom. Telling Alice my decision had been one thing; telling Carlisle and Rosalie would be entirely another, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face it just yet.
Shutting the door softly, I slid myself back beside Bella, who hadn’t stirred; inhaling the delicious, burning, perfect smell of her again as I gently re-wrapped my arms around her little frame.

It took a moment for me to recollect why on earth I was covered in white plaster, waking up to stare at a gaping hole in a wall.
Oh, of course.
Beside me, Edward's eyes were closed. Having been around me for so long, he had all but perfected the art of pretending to sleep, to the point where sometimes I watched his face and wondered if he was dreaming, just when everything was quiet, safe in the protection of a dark night.
No, there was no dreaming today. Today I knew he kept his eyes closed for the same reason I had reluctantly opened mine; neither of us wanted to admit consciousness and tackle a reality over which we had so little control.
Edward opened his eyes slowly, methodically, unintentionally inflicting the full force of his hypnotically long lashes on me. I held onto him for one more moment, and then sat up. Edward sat up beside me, cringing a little as he stared once again at the damage he'd caused, before jumping lithely to his feet to help me to mine.
I took a deep breath, waiting for him to pick up our conversation where it had ended before the plaster incident.
Edward observed the anxious expectation in my expression.
“Come one, Bella – you’ve really gotta study for calc. Let’s just not talk about it right now, alright?”
That was fine by me. I was quite happy to postpone any conversation involving him leaving for however long I could manage. Besides, at least studying for my exam would give me something to have some control over, although should I leave it much longer I would be bound to fail.
“Yeah, sounds good.”
I followed Edward downstairs, almost amused by the way he snuck meekly past Esme, murmuring a subdued thanks and apology as I unhooked my jacket from the rack. I couldn’t see Carlisle anywhere.
I could only pray that he’d forgive me.

“Root 13” I muttered, attempting an incredibly difficult question for the third time. If there was one thing I struggled with, it was the awful analysis problems.
“3.605551 –“
“Show off.” I hit him with my textbook to cut him off. “You know I only want four decimal places”
He smiled at me, leaning in briefly to kiss the tip of my nose, before reassuming his position across from me, staring vacantly out my bedroom window.
And so this is how we spent the rest of the afternoon, sprawled amid piles of books across my bed, me struggling with maths while Edward acted as my calculator. In almost silence, we stayed there, each knowing that there were far more troubling matters on the other’s mind than pi and algebraic equations; neither of us willing, nor able, to confess to it.
And so, all in all, the afternoon was a torturously enjoyable one. An afternoon on denial.
Charlie’s eyes were alight, a clear indicator of a successful fishing trip, as he clambered down the hall, struggling with his rod and armful of fresh fish.
“See you later,” Edward’s lips brushed softly against my ear, then he disappeared from my side, seemingly vanishing into thin air. We’d ended up spending the afternoon productively – now I was quite confident with at least passing this damned exam, although thanks to Edward I’d done basically nothing in relation to using my calculator for solving problems. I planned to tackle that tonight.
“Don’t be late,” I muttered, much too quietly for Charlie to be able to hear, but of course Edward could, then hurried to relieve my Dad of his heavy load. A soft laugh, silent as a shadow, smooth as satin, echoed from upstairs, hiding all but a trace of the anxiety I knew was suffocating the two of us. We’d managed to delay this morning’s conversation for a whole afternoon, and as much as both of us tried to hide it, the tension of what had gone unsaid was building, a swollen damn on the brink of flooding.
“So Bells, are you going to ask your father about his voyage?” Charlie grinned at me, opening the fridge to grab himself a beer. I found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen, staring at our pathetic excuse for a flower arrangement in the centre of the dining table without seeing it at all.
“Sorry Dad, how was it?” I busied myself with preparing a salad for dinner, focussing on cutting each tomato into perfect two centimetre dices.
“Well, I suppose that bucket right there tells the whole story, doesn’t it? Four catches in the space of a half-hour, I had,” Charlie chuckled, pausing to sip his beer. “Now that’s something that doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you right now.”
I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows – he was rarely this talkative.
“Hope you’re feeling like fish for dinner, then.” I tried to sound lively, hoping to absorb some of Charlie’s positive energy.
I failed.
“Something’s up, honey.” It wasn’t even a question, but a statement. Charlie was no fool, and on top of that I was a terrible actor, guilty at the very thought of lying to my own father. However, I didn’t particularly like the sound of admitting to him that I was concerned for the life of my vampire beloved and his vampire family at the hands of other brutal creatures with whom I have already had a dangerously close encounter.
No, I would just have to stick with my poor acting and guilty conscience.
“Nothing’s up Dad. I’m just a bit stressed over my calculus exam, that’s all. The analysis practise problems are tough and the way I’m going, I’m hoping to scrape a pass.”
Now it was Charlie’s turn to raise his eyebrows, sensing something deeper hidden in my tone, but he let it go, knowing that I valued my privacy – much like him, I suppose.
“Alright sweetie, well why don’t you go and do some more study, then. I’ll be right with dinner. That is, as long as you’re not expecting a delicacy.”
“Thanks Dad, that’d be great”. Good old Charlie. I did cringe just slightly, however, when I considered what my dinner was going to look like.
I couldn't stand it anymore. Virtually racing up the stairs to my bedroom, I leaned out the window into the dank night air.
Silence. Only the distant rumble of cars and a soft, tingling breeze across my neck.
"Come here now. We're not delaying this conversation any longer!" I raised my voice, praying Charlie wouldn't hear. I leaned out a little further before i called again in an attempt to distance the noise further from my father's ears.
Still no Edward.
Had he left already? The knot in my stomach tightened, if that was possible.
Surely not. Gulping back a sudden wave of nausea, I let out a rather vampirish growl of frustration, pulling back resignedly from the window.

It was almost one in the morning when finally a shadowy form materialised in my room, in front of my open window. Knowing I wouldn't be able to sleep till we'd spoken, I'd stayed up to study. My eyes were dry, my temples throbbing from several hours of glaring at my work, and yet the relief of seeing him made me forget such ailments for the time being. He was still here.
He didn't move, staring past me blankly. I leapt from my desk, practically sprinting all three metres across the room to him to throw my arms around his waist. He chuckled a little at that, and I looked up to see him smiling at me, dark eyes glinting in the light of my lamp. Forgetting our conversation for just a moment, I lead him to my bed, jumping up onto my faded quilt so that I could now look down on him, knotted my fingers in his hair and kissed him hard on the lips. It wasn’t so much desire or the hope of procrastination that made me do this right now, but the desperate sensation that perhaps I would not be able to hold him, kiss him - believe that some part of him belonged to me - for much longer.
“Bella…” Edward stepped back from the bed – away from me.
Abruptly humiliated by my inappropriate, much-too-enthusiastic greeting, I turned away, hoping stupidly that he wouldn’t notice the blush flooding my cheeks, and sat cross-legged on my mattress.
“Alright then, are you going to tell me what’s happening?” I disguised my embarrassment with anger, fighting the urge to hide beneath my blankets.
“Will you look at me, please?”
“Bella.” His tone was exasperated, demanding. I continued to study my bed post.
"Where were you just now?" My eyes now moved to my hands, where a hangnail required particulary attention.
"I was at my place, sorting things out, Now I'd really appreciate if you'd look at me - who knows how long i have to see your face?", he added broodingly, coming to sit down beside me.
"What on earth does that mean?!" I threw my head angrily back against my assortment of oddly shaped pillows, feeling almost sick with the pain that filled his words. The sense of deja vu that came with that burning sensation in my chest - the sensation of a hole being torn right through my heart - was almost overwhelming. "What are we going to do? You have to tell me now, Edward - it's making me crazy."
Edward held a finger to his lips, warning me to lower my voice, which now had an echo of the hysteria i had been so determined to contain, then took a deep breath. I watched him expectantly.
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Rosalie's POV

"Move, Babe."
"In a minute", he smiled cheekily. "Kiss me".
I groaned, trying to wriggle free of Emmett's hold, which had me wedged between his heavy body and the gnarled roots of our favourite oak tree. We'd discovered it years ago on a hunting trip; the most beautiful tree I've ever encountered in my painfully prolonged existence. Giant, lucious fronds of green leaves clung to each branch, the trunk of it so tall that even Emmett hadn't managed to climb to the top. And right down at the base, below the bird nests and cicada casings, was the most perfect of all hollows - a cave inside the tree just big enough for the two of us to snuggle in. For hours we'd come and lie here together, feeling our bare skin on the soft earth beneath us, inhaling the moist perfume of old oak. It was our place.
"I suppose we'll never come back here again, will we?" I murmered, knowing it was stupid that i felt so much pain at the prospect of leaving this tree behind, but feeling it none the less.
"Nup," Emmett replied. "This is it, I guess".
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My breath caught in my throat, as I tried to run through a list in my head of the possibilities such a catch could present, but I suddenly felt a little too dizzy to organise my thoughts in such a categorical fashion.
“What is it?” shakily, resting my forehead on his cool shoulder.
“I can’t be certain, Bella, but I have a feeling that something more is going on here than just Carlisle’s mistake. It’s just a feeling, but I can’t seem to…” Edward trailed off, & I sat back up to watch his expression. Now it was his turn to be biting his lip, long lashes looking downward.
“How come?” I murmured softly. There had to be some reason for him to feel that way.
“Alice’s vision shows us all going to Volterra when Alec brings the message that Carlisle ought to go to the Volturi.”
“You mean that her vision still shows you going as well?” I sat up straighter.
Edward turned to face me, angel’s face illuminated in the dim light.
“Exactly. I am completely decided that I am staying with you – there’s not a doubt in my mind. I know that if this situation is based purely on Carlisle’s mistake, then there is no need for me to go to Volterra - & yet the vision stays the same: No matter how decided I am, the future still shows me leaving here – leaving you.”


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