Summary: Bella's met Edward's condition of marriage, and he's fulfilled her wish of lovemaking. Now they both make the ultimate sacrifice. Rated M for mature ideas and sexual content.
In this piece, Renesmee doesn’t exist. Not because I think it’s impossible for Edward to get Bella pregnant (this is a world of fiction, after all), but because I don’t want a gruesome birth to overshadow the sacrifice they make for each other.
I know the rest of the Cullen’s immortality came about as situations of life or death, but I always wanted Edward’s act of taking Bella’s life—and her understanding in the moments before he does so—to be one of cognizance.
No moment of desperation.
Just love, just sacrifice, just the power of stinging awareness.
This piece's most-influenced song is called Honey and the Moon by Joseph Arthur. It's a bittersweet little song about a guy singing about a girl who seems to want all the wrong things.
Nineteen minutes after Bella laid the palm of her hand against Edward’s cheek and said the words that crashed cymbal-like in his mind—
--he settled her back against the pillows of the bed—their bed.
His hands were trembling.
His insides were trembling.
Because there was nothing else he could do or say to stall her, to hope that she’d rethink what she wanted. He saw it in her eyes—her doe-brown eyes that were steely soft as she stared at him without blinking.
“It’s going to be okay,” she said.
Alice’s voice came to him from two floors below. She’s right, Edward. Two-and-a-half days is all it’s going to take. The image she foresaw flashed into his mind:
Bella’s face in profile, pale, eerily beautiful…motionless. Like a statue. Turning now, her eyes under their heavy fringe of lashes bright red, full of confusion, even fear, until her gaze met his. The gentle curve of her cheek rounded as her mouth curved into the peek-a-boo smile... You see? She’s going to live, Edward.
He took Bella’s hand in his, noting the contrast her small pink palm made against the larger snowy white of his, marveling anew at their body’s difference in temperature and texture and weight. She was so...
Fearless, and willing to go through hell now, unheedingly eager to give up everything to become what he was.
She couldn’t see that, though—wouldn’t see that—until someday soon…or someday long…after her human body’s death when she was something else entirely. And then the moment would burst upon her in all its heartache, a bombshell that promised pain and horror in the aftermath because there was no going back.
How could he prepare her for it in a way that made sense to the uninitiated?
Even Rosalie had tried.
Bella, how can you want this? How can you give up so much?
Her fingers were warm against his cheek. “Stop thinking.”
Closing his eyes, he lifted his hand and held her warm fingers against his face. “I thought I was ready for this day,” he murmured.
Her voice came as gentle as a whisper. “How could you be?”
He looked at her in surprise and saw that her expression was torn—certitude warring with sorrow.
“I’m sorry, Edward,” she said with a catch in her voice. “I hurt inside when I try to imagine what you’re going to go through to do this, and I’m so sorry.” Then her voice strengthened. “But I don’t look at this as dying, not when it means that I can be reborn in a way that is better for us.”
Under his hand, her fingers moved to trace his mouth. He recognized the physical gesture as one he’d often initiated himself—a mostly unconscious communication of his desire, love and sometimes, even deliberate manipulation because…well, because he could. The essence of that kind of physical gesture, especially against the face, lay in the power of how it was received. As he fought not to be swayed under her touch, he wondered when she’d picked up his habit.
“I knew what I wanted a long time ago. I knew I wanted to be like you long before I said it out loud. Do you know what has changed since then?”
Nothing, her eyes said.
“I don’t want to wait anymore,” she whispered.
He knew she felt emotionally ready, as ready as someone could feel without having gone through the change, but physically? The pain wasn’t something anyone could prepare for. She still had to die before she could live again. And he knew just how much she was going to wish for death.
He still suffered moments of great, tearing doubt that ate at whatever part of his soul was left, although she’d unwittingly put her side of things into perspective for him once.
“If our roles were reversed and I was the vampire, would you…would you want me…”
And he’d felt the soul-wrenching hurt of that thought—the unreasonable, all-consuming painful pull that cared not for the difference between right and wrong, outside of that only necessary idea: Bella. The power she exerted over his heart made him long to be the one doing the sacrificing, the hurting, the dying; in this world or any other. He was certain nothing would ever change that. He would go to hell.
Die horribly and go to hell.
Suffer how ever much pain he had to suffer in hell to be with her.
It was nearly impossible for him to accept that she’d do the same for him. That she was prepared to do it for him. The thought made him breathless with fear and panic, turning his sight to gray.
How can she, how can she, how CAN she?
Railing against this decision always destroyed his self-control. Already his breathing was uneven, his hand on the bed beside her balled into a fist. Worry for her was like acid in his stomach. Though he never would have thought it possible, his love for her was different now. More powerful. Ever since the night they’d first made love, his emotions had intensified. It was almost like a volcano of pent-up feeling had exploded inside his chest, lava and intensity overflowing, receding only just before he drowned, leaving him with a new heart that seemed not to fit so well inside him anymore. It kept swelling up into his throat, trying to choke him.
Bella lifted his fist and bit his knuckle. “Kiss me.”
He recognized her words for what they were: a distraction tactic. But that went both ways.
He leaned down to press his lips softly against the warmth of hers. Like always, her body and her scent shot a jolt of fire and need through him, and his mouth was slanting rougher than he’d meant to against hers. Before either of them was aware of it, his body was flush against hers on the bed and she was gasping for air. He ran the tip of his thumb along her wet lower lip, holding her mouth open for the penetration of his finger and then, hesitantly, for his tongue. It wasn’t something he allowed himself to do often because the way she tasted excited his dangerously carnal desires. It never helped, either, that she was so amazingly responsive to him, that just his tongue in her mouth could give her an orgasm.
Before the red haze could claim him, he moved his lips down her chin and across her jaw, until his tongue was a cool caress against his favorite, hot, oh-so-delicious, place under her ear. Gone, she was still gone and senseless, and his hands rose and cleanly tore the little cotton shirt she wore in half from neck to hem. Carefully, he bit her bra apart and she arched under him, against him, up into his mouth.
He ran the tip of his thumb across her erect nipple, murmuring his need for her against the underside of her breast. Under his lips, her heartbeat was pulse-pounding thunder; he worshipped the sound with long stroking laps of his tongue. She tasted so good that he kept going, all the way down the tender, white silk of her belly. Hard shivers shook her body as he ripped at the denim waistband, but she was warm and flushed pink as his palms smoothed down her hips, moving the material down her legs. He pressed a kiss against the inside of her ankle.
“Bella,” he whispered, his voice thick with desire.
If only this moment could be their forever.
He alternated between kisses and licks as he made his way up her calf, to the back of her knee, to her kitteny softness. Three months ago, one month ago, he couldn’t have done this…hadn’t even dared to imagine being intimate with her like this. But maybe, if he was strong enough—and he knew it wouldn’t take long—she would wait because she would want, and they could try a forever kind of moment again.
The tangy scent of her soft, delicate curls intoxicated him almost beyond the point of restraint. Every part of her was so very dear to him, love and desire playing merry hell with his control and common sense. When one of her errant moves caused her to roll away from him, he panicked and pulled her writhing hips back with a growl. She made a soft sound of what could have been shock or fear or distress, but it barely registered with him as the warmth of her fragrance filled his senses. Swift, painful desire burned through his body like fire-licked whiskey. Eyes closed, his fingers holding her gently, inexorably prisoner, he slid his tongue into her.
He felt her body tense and bow, tasted the extra essence as her tissues stiffened and reddened with the influx of blood. There was nothing for impossibly long seconds but his animalistic need for her, nothingnothingnothing. His tongue mimicked the action of intercourse, lapping at her, but it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough, and then he was sucking from her as he would have sucked her blood. Another hard, lingering rub of his tongue made her muscles contract and she screamed, and feeling her orgasm almost sent him over the edge to his own…
Her second scream brought him up short.
He tore away from her with a strangled hiss, careening against the far wall, his elbow leaving a hole in the drywall. Through a passion-induced fog, her halting voice came to him over the fury of his breathing.
“Edward, you can’t—oh, God—. This is so embarrassing,” she almost wept.
Feeling strange, feeling clumsy and heavy, he straightened, his body’s impulses still going north and south. Bella was glaring at him with tear-filled eyes, one of her hands pressed against her mouth in shame or fear.
His voice was ragged. “Bella?”
She hunched forward, one of her arms wrapped around her naked midriff, as if she wanted to curl up and hide. “They can hear us, Edward.”
Because he was distracted by his still uncomfortably there desire, and the wrenching aftermath of what he’d thought was her fear over what he’d done, it took him a long moment to understand what she was saying.
She was embarrassed by her vocal outburst. Not hurt. Not scared.
He’d forgotten that the heightened hearing of vampires offered no privacy here. It had never bothered him before. There had never been a reason for him to resent it, especially since his mind reading ability made privacy impossible for everyone else. Thoughts of mirth, chagrin, disgust and happiness came from downstairs. They’d heard much more than just her scream, but it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to mention that.
He made a sound, something between a sigh and a groan, trying to cudgel his laughter into submission. That absurd, guileless dignity of hers—she would be hurt if he laughed right now. Kneeling at the side of the bed, he wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, wondering if the tender laughter that twisted his heart could be heard in his voice.
I was just half out of my mind for you…
She was trying to tug him upwards. “You can make it up to me.”
And because he still wanted what she wanted, because his time with her was never enough, he let her pull him back onto the bed. It was early January in Forks and the city was in lockdown from heavy snowfall and freezing temperature advisories. He’d turned the thermostat up to 85-degrees in their room so he could touch her this way. As she helped him yank the rest of his clothing off and they came together skin-against-skin, he was sure the sweetly erotic sensation of it would never diminish in power.
He pulled her arms above her head and gathered her wrists into one of his hands, then held her there as he moved his body in a slow caress against hers. With his lips pressed against her collarbone, he ran his free hand down her quivering skin, all the way from the tip of her breast to the inside of her thigh. Moderating the pressure of his touch was second nature to him now, but sometimes the all-consuming ache he felt for her made him move too quickly. As wickedly fast as he could affect her—his kiss of frost igniting her stormfire—she did the same to him. Her breath caught as he pushed a knee between her thighs and slid too eagerly into her heat. He pushed down and she arched up, his growl a bass to her soft soprano.
Their mouths searched for and found each other, white heat becoming red. He released her wrists to allow her more leverage and she came against him hard, already out of control. Maybe it had something to do with their body temperature, that odd lick of heat that flared whenever they touched…that painful yearning to sink so deeply into her that they would forever be one. Her wildness often incited his, but it could also hasten his release and the sooner it came, the better for her.
She was already orgasming when he shifted and raised the back of her knees to his shoulders. He felt the naked skin of her thighs quivering against his chest, the new, tighter hold her body had on him. He pulled back—the muscles in his back and neck stiff, one hand abusively-hard on his thigh while the other was a caress against her thigh—he pulled back, pushed in, and his own body was shuddering convulsively.
Too fast, it always happened too fast.
“I hope it will be like this for us again…soon,” she said a few moments later.
He moved his head back slightly on the pillow they shared so he could see her better, then traced a finger along her cheek. “It’s already like this for us…now,” he said and moved his hand down her throat, across her breast—
She caught his hand before he could reach her belly. “Mmmm, stop that.”
It didn’t exactly sound like a command, so she couldn’t blame him for not listening. His fingers were nearing their target when she sighed, turned and clamped his hand between her thighs.
“Now it’s time,” she said, gentle as a kiss, as if she knew how her words would sting.
And his heart rose into his throat again. Choking him.
His fingers, cold against her cheek, pressed softly against her warmth.
Open your eyes, Bella.
Looking at him, she was looking at him silently now, her eyes steely soft again.
“Lets take a bath first,” he said and made a move to lift her from the bed.
“No, Edward.” She cupped a palm against his cheek. “No.”
“Then lets at least get you dressed.”
“Why? Because Carlisle will be coming up to give you morphine—”
“No morphine.” She backpedaled at the look in his eyes. “Did you have morphine? Did Carlisle? Rosalie? Emmett? I just want you, Edward.”
He shook his head. “You’re getting the morphine.”
“It will dull my senses.”
“It’s supposed to dull your senses,” he growled.
“Edward, please. I don’t want the morphine.”
“And I don’t want to do this,” he said.
She didn’t even flinch. “I know. But you will, because it’s what I want. Because you promised.”
Their eyes held until the intensity became too painful for him. With a low cry of torment, he pulled her into his arms in one move. “I’m afraid, Bella. Afraid for you.”
She wrapped her arms tightly around him, pressing her face against his neck, and he felt her lips against his skin as she spoke. “I’m going to be fine, Edward. I’m strong. I’m ready. It’s time.”
And you promised, you promised, you promised, he heard between the words, although she didn’t say them again.
They sat still and silent until she moved to press a kiss against his neck.
“Do it,” she said. “Please keep your arms around me, though.”
He drew back to see her eyes—those steely soft eyes that spoke of nothing but her fierce, hell-damned determination to see this through. Tilting her head back, she exposed her throat in unmistakable invitation. Her neck muscles were beginning to shake with the strain of holding the position when his hand finally rose from her shoulder to cup the back of her head.
Jesus and Mary, help her.
And he leaned forward to press his mouth against her carotid artery. “Bella,” he whispered.
Are you sure?
“I love you,” she said. Not a whisper, but a calm affirmation of trust and acceptance.
Before he—oh God, dear God—pierced her warm skin, his fingers caressed her cheek, dabbled in the folds of her ear—a distraction, a very momentary distraction from the pain to come because nothing would distract her once the venom hit her bloodstream. Just as nothing but his love for her would distract him from her blood, but he knew what Alice knew as her vision, both a comfort and a torment, played in his head: that he would be able to stop. If he wasn't certain of that, his lips wouldn't be pressed against Bella's pulse with more intent than just a kiss, no matter what he'd promised.
Eyes closed, he took a breath, his last until Bella would take her first as a vampire, and arms cradling her as tightly as he dared to hold her, he opened his mouth and bit into the girl he loved. Just as he’d known they would, his teeth sank effortlessly through silk and glass. They cried out simultaneously—she in pain, he in another kind of pain. Heat, desire, ambrosia! coursed over his tongue and he swallowed, and the taste of her was better, impossibly better than what he’d remembered—Bella, Bella, I love you—and he swallowed twice more, understanding with new clarity that horror was no longer different from love, pain no different from pleasure, an angel no different from a vampire.
With a growl, he broke away from the painful, pleasurable lure of her blood, his tongue sweeping across the deep gashes his teeth had made. Tried not to fixate on the rose and pink flower he’d left against her neck.
“Bella,” he gasp-choked.
Lightning fast, moving lightning fast now, he went to the femoral artery in her thigh next, another major vein. Sobbing once, he tore through her skin, his voice mingling with hers. Just bit this time, didn’t drink, didn’t dare drink, because it was too hard to stop, because he didn’t deserve to taste her and he never should have. He heard nothing but the pounding of her heart, the sound of her skin tearing, the cries she still kept trying to smother, the growls that ravaged his aching throat.
Killing her now, he was killing her now.
Her body was stiff and arched, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. Against her white, now bloodless cheekbones, her lashes were long and jagged. She thrashed from the deeper pain, no longer shrinking away from his teeth on her other thigh, on her wrist, on the inside of her elbow. Because she could no longer feel those minor pains. Backing away from her, he wiped his mouth on the the bed sheet, but he couldn’t stop the way his tongue ran across his teeth, searching for more of her blood.
Hatred for who and what he was burst inside him like an inferno, violent and more unbearable than he’d ever felt it before. He wanted to tear the hair from his scalp, to gouge his eyes out and claw the skin from his face—to destroy anything that had ever attracted her to him. Vision black, soul black, heart black, he screamed. He bent over her, his body naked and whole, her body naked, torn, in distress. Dying. His body wracked with tearless sobs, he screamed until his oxygen ran out.
. . . . .