I woke up panting to the feeling of cold, strong arms. Trying to calm my erratic breathing, I focused on the body that was seated on the bed beside me. I knew whose it was without a thought. It felt so normal, so natural. ‘Hey you.’
He brushed some of the stray hairs out of my face. ‘Hey. Are you alright? You were screaming..’
‘It’s okay, they’re just nightmares. I’m used to it.’ I turned, pulling myself closer to him and putting my head in his lap. Seemingly without a thought, he started stroking my hair and I found myself almost relaxing. Almost. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be with Bella?’
‘I missed you for half a year. Bella understands that. Besides, the chief was going to visit the Reservation tomorrow and she wanted to come along. ’
I nodded, once again just enjoying the feel of his body, the smell that I could only describe as home. He was home. I sighed, knowing that he couldn’t be. ‘Do you love her?’
A silence fell and I knew that I would not get a response. I had asked the wrong question. ‘Do you think you would have loved her, would have even noticed her, had her blood and her mind shield not caught your attention? Aren’t you afraid that if you’d be able to read her mind, you would come out disappointed?’
He wanted to answer with an immediate, determined “Yes, I would have still loved her”, but found that he couldn’t. Something about Dalia’s presence radiated complete acceptance and he knew that she was waiting for an answer. A real answer.
Playing with a particularly soft strand of her ginger hair, he wondered why things couldn’t always be this simple. Why couldn’t he be so careless, so free around Bella? Why did he always have to be on guard, always holding tight control, when he could feel almost human when he was with Dalia? Even now, with her blood rushing through her veins only inches away from him, he felt at ease. She was his safe haven. His home. Even her blood, which he was now able to smell, enticed him, it was like a good wine that you want to sniff, not drink.
He smiled, recalling how she’d always keep pestering him until he’d finally tell her what was going on. Not that he ever minded, not really. ‘Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed her.’
She hummed, satisfied that her theory had been proven right. She pushed it away again quickly, though, starting to formulate a new question in her head. Whenever she’d have it figured out, she would scratch it and start over, thinking it would be too rude to ask.
‘And no, although it might take away the mystery, I am convinced that she would be just as lovely.’
She just nodded, but her thoughts revealed that she had tucked the matter away. For now.
The silence that fell over them wasn’t uncomfortable and he reveled in the simple feeling of having her pressed against him. Her warm body against his cold one. Her heart beating while his remained silent. Slowly but surely, her mind started to drift in and out of consciousness and her thoughts became incoherent. She yawned and nuzzled her face closer to him. ‘I missed you, Fitz.’
He chuckled, endeared to know that she still remembered. Of course she would have. Bending down to kiss her forehead, he whispered as her breathing fell into a steady, sleeping rhythm. ‘I missed you too, Lizzy.’
He spent the night there. Stroking her hair, watching her, letting himself daze off into her dreams from time to time, only to have to pull her a little tighter when those dreams took a turn down a darker alley.
Sighing softly, Edward realized he truly had missed her. Even when his mind had been made to forget, he’d felt like a part of him had been missing. Like somehow he’d lost a piece of his heart along the way. It was only now he realized that he had.
He couldn’t remember when he’d started to care so much about the small, sleeping human girl in his arms. It wasn’t like with Bella; he’d fallen for Dalia slowly, every day a bit more. He loved her because of the little things that she did. Because of her endless and unconditional acceptance, because of the way she would act silly just to make him smile, because of the way she would bite her lip when she was nervous. He loved her for all her stupidly human things and for how stupidly human she could make him feel.
It was almost peculiar, then, to know that the love he held for Bella was so much different. He would put Bella on a pedestal, while Dalia had climbed her way up there herself. He’d offered Bella his heart, only to realize that Dalia had quietly nestled her way into it a long time before. He’d thought of Bella as his star in the dark night, only to find out that Dalia had taken the night away a long time ago. Everything about his love for Bella was extreme and bombastic, while the bond he had with Dalia was simple. Just by holding her hand, or by stroking her hair, things were said that he’d need a thousand words and gifts for to explain to Bella.
Edward didn’t know what all of this meant, but he didn’t want to think about it, not now. He’d have an eternity to ponder the matter, but knew that he only had a day left with his best friend. Soon, she would leave and he would never see her again. The thought alone was enough to make him hurt physically, but he knew that he could offer her nothing to make her stay.
We stood there in silence, neither of us knowing what to say. It was unfair really. I had only found them and now was already forced to leave again. In advance it might have been enough to just know that they were alive. But after actually seeing them, actually being with them again, I knew it would never be enough again. ‘Dalia, are you ready?’
I looked around, seeing that Carlisle was already waiting by the car. I had wanted to say goodbye to the others, but found nothing really came to mind. What can you say when you leave your family? My heart constricted, my body already hurting with just the idea of being separated from them. From him. ‘I’m coming.’
Slowly, I moved up to Alice and gave her a long, tight hug. Although I was still angry with her for how she’d treated me, I knew now was not the time to hold on to resentment. It was the last time I’d see her. She hugged me back, though, whispering a soft ‘sorry’ as if she knew how I felt. Her cold skin felt so unhuman, that it cost me hardly any effort to touch her.
Moving on, I went to stand before Jasper. He smiled warmly at me, even though I knew he now had more trouble being around me. Apparently my scent had returned along with my body to Forks. Before I fully realized it, he had me wrapped in a hug and I could say that I was positively surprised – as were the others, I suppose. ‘If you ever need us, don’t hesitate to call,’ he said, making it sound more than a demand than a request. He let go then, sending me another warm, but sad smile. ‘We’ll miss you.’
Emmett had me hoisted up into the air before I knew it, holding me up at eye-level. ‘I’m going to miss you, shortie.’
I pushed back the tears and forced myself to smile. ‘And I you, Emmett.’
Lowering me back to the floor, he gave me a well-meant, but rather hard pat on the back, almost making me lose my footing. He, of course, only chuckled at that.
Somewhat hesitantly, I moved to Rosalie. I mean, what was I supposed to say to her? She had made it no secret that she disliked me.
‘Good luck. Don’t ever let the world break your spirit.’
Although not really lovingly like the others, Rosalie Hale had actually wished me well. Even more so, she had managed to do so smilingly. That was more than I could ask for and so, surprised as I was, I only nodded. ‘Thank you.’
Sighing, I turned to the only person that was left. Standing there in all his ruffled bronze hair, honey eyed, perfect faced glory, I found him as dashing as the first time I’d laid eyes on him. It was, then, perhaps befitting that I could take this image of him with me as a final reminder of the man who would always hold my heart. Words eluded me and so I did the only thing that I knew how: I hugged him.
Seamlessly, Edward moved into the embrace, wrapping his strong arms around me. Closing my eyes, I found myself wishing that I could spend eternity this way. But only too soon, I was reminded of the reality.
I pulled back with great reluctance, wiping away the few tears that had already escaped me. Giving him a last, sad smile, I wrapped my own arms around my torso, as if to replace his. ‘Goodbye.’
Knowing that I could take no more, I turned and made my way to the car. Carlisle and Esme were already patiently waiting for me, but their faces betrayed nothing. I took a seat in the back, fastening my seatbelt and biting my lip to keep the tears from falling.
As we drove off, I forced myself not to look back. It would only kill me inside.
The Cullen patriarch and his wife left me alone for most of the ride, probably picking up on my need for privacy. I was in no mood for talking. Instead, I thought back on that morning.
After a cornflakes breakfast, Carlisle had called me into his office. I wasn’t really surprised, since I knew he wanted to discuss the matter of my strange “talent” – as he’d called it – but I had to say I was glad to find Edward was also there.
‘Please take a seat,’ Carlisle said, gesturing smilingly to an empty chair in front of the desk.
As I sat beside him, Edward laid his hand over mine and squeezed it comfortingly, silently telling me it would be alright.
‘I looked into the matter of your.. gift a bit more and tracked down the vampire Rosalie told you about. Fortunately for us, I learned that he is still alive and in fact, lives in the United States. I contacted him and told him about you – all anonymously of course – and about what you did. He was fascinated to say the least, finding out what you can do while still being human. However, he also told me that your gift differs from his. Or at least is far more powerful.’
Edward frowned. ‘What do you mean, Carlisle?’
‘That’s what I wondered as well. He told me that he was only able to project his mind. Meaning: himself. But you didn’t just project yourself, but projected your family as well. You warped reality and formed it into something that you see in your mind. So now the question is whether you are so powerful that you can project anything in your mind, including yourself, into reality. Or whether your gift is, indeed, something else.’
I nodded, trying to process everything that he was saying. It was a lot to digest, really. I mean, being told you’re crazy and have psychoses is one thing, being told you can project your mind even to a whole other part of the US is another. ‘You told me that there might be a link to the psychoses. What did you mean by that?’
‘Symbolically, psychoses are a mental state in which the mind opens a door to the world. This door will let anything in, leading to a point on which you completely lose contact with what is in the present. However, through this door..’
’.. the mind could also go out,’ Edward finished. ‘Could it really be that easy?’
It was the closest we’d gotten to a logical explanation and so, in absence of a better one, I had taken it for truth. At least it implicated that as long as I took my medication, the door would remain closed. I liked that idea.
He was still staring at the spot where the car had disappeared, listening to the sound of the engine that was dying out as well. Soon, she would be no more than a memory. At least he would have that, this time. The others slowly turned away, returning to whatever they were doing. Edward didn’t know if he could, knowing that she would be somewhere else. His body hurt with the thought of not being able to hold her anymore, of not being able to stroke her ginger hair and listen in on her dreams at night.
With great pain, he tore his eyes away from the trees, turning back to the house. He was about to go inside and moved to go past Jasper, keeping his head down. He wasn’t in the mood for talking.
’You’re a fool for letting her go a second time.’