Author : ophelietta
Fandom : Twilight
Characters/Pairings : E/B, J/B, Bella-centric.
Summary : Bella walks down yet another road not taken.
Notes : Post-Eclipse. Companion piece to "Seven Years". Headings from "We're Both So Sorry" by Mirah, epigraph from Wikipedia (my English teacher would kill me XD).
The Golden Mean
In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes…
To the Greek mentality, it was an attribute of beauty.
zero. now we both agree to separate from the lonely castle steps
Sometimes she feels like she snuck out of a novel. In all the epic romances, there’s always triangles, there’s always the give and the take, there’s always the choice.
What they don’t tell you in the novels and the movies : there is always a third choice.
You don’t have to slide down one side or another of the triangle. You can go down the very middle in a perfect line, a never ending ray. You can make your own path, and walk down it.
Then keep walking. All alone. For a very long time.
one. a lifetime of disillusionment and the distraction of the stars
The saddest thing, maybe, is that she actually thought this (marriage, Edward, eternity) could work.
It sounded good in theory, it sounded like the only viable option. You have a handful of sand and you get so lost in it, so absorbed, that it becomes an entire world, an entire universe. You don’t even realise that each grain is slipping away until you feel the cold curving walls of the hour glass pressing in on you.
You know I love you.
You know how much I wish it was enough.
She had thought, once upon a time, that Edward would be enough. More than enough. That he would be the grain of sand wherein she saw a whole world.
But a grain of sand is just a grain of sand after all, and stone will never become skin again.
BellaBellaEdwardEdwardBellaandEdward. The lines between them aren’t being crossed, they’re being crossed out, they’re blurring together, they’re becoming singular.
It’s hard to tell where I end and you begin and when did that thought start to scare me?
He is the mirror she looks into to learn her own face, and he is her shadow striding beside her. She doesn’t even know, anymore, can’t even put a name to who or what she is without him.
She’s afraid that the word for it is “nothing”.
And then there was Jacob.
Once, out of desperation, she had asked him who or what she was.
“You’re Bella,” he said, his eyebrows winging up just a little, as if it was that easy, that simple.
And maybe it was.
(Maybe he made it so.)
She felt like her name was something she had lost, something that Edward had lifted gently from her and taken with him when he left her in the woods. And that Jacob had somehow, magically, slipped her own self back into her hands.
two. i never knew i could possess that fatal kind of charm
She wishes she could see Edward’s face when he sleeps, except that he never sleeps.
She wakes up in the middle of the night when they’re curled closer together, two people shipwrecked in the sea of his ridiculously vast bed, and whispers, “Just let me look at you.” He props himself up an elbow, and she looks into his face for a very, very long time.
She said once, of herself, that making the decision was always the agonizing part of it, and the easy part of it was following through. It’s easy the way falling off a cliff is easy : it’s all about letting gravity pull you down.
She looks into his face, thinks, This may be my only right.
And she says, as if marveling at herself, as if astounded at the very novelty of it, as if the thought has come from far away and has only now finally reached her, “I’m leaving you.”
He doesn’t say anything.
Her voice is still just a bare thread of a whisper when she says, “I wish you wouldn’t look so unsurprised.”
It isn’t… It’s just… It’s not like she’s freaking Helen of Troy, dammit. Cities do not fall and burn for her. None of this was meant to be all… mythic. Epic. World ending. Treaty breaking.
She knew all the romances by heart, knew that in all the stories it’s always the woman that makes empires crumble. Sirens, queens, sorceresses, other man’s wives. Delilah, Jezebel, Guinevere, Eve, Catherine. She’s well read on the literature of ruins, she’s written essays on the archetype of the beauty who destroys.
I’m just a selfish bitch, is all.
“I could hurt you a million times,” she says, and it hurts so fucking much that the moment of this sad revelation is the moment of her departure. “I could leave you a million times, and each time, you would take me back.”
She’s not Helen, whose husband forgave her when all of
He just thinks she is.
“Yes,” Edward says simply, raggedly, his voice torn velvet. That’s the heart of it, isn’t it, bloody and freshly beating.
That’s why I love you.
“That’s why I have to go.”
three. the bedroom lies abandoned, the future is unplanned
There is the illusion of choice.
It is simple and unbearable. To choose one is to hurt the other, and no matter the outcome, she is torn.
Justice is a blindfolded woman holding up the scales and as she weighs her choices, there is only this to consider : everyone will be hurt. It’s just s a matter of trying to minimize the damage as much as possible.
And Bella knows, knows so well why the figure of Justice is blindfolded. It’s because she can’t bear to look at what she’s weighing and choosing. Because sometimes it’s the perfection of the balance that causes things to break.
“Minimal damage” means :
She will break all of their hearts equally. Her own included. Her own, especially.
Once Upon a Time, she would have died rather than leave Edward.
Maybe that explains why she feels like a ghost.
It’s in the morning and she’s sitting in her truck, outside her house. La Push is fifteen miles and forever away and it takes her ten minutes of sitting there, blankly, to remember (what a lie; the knowledge is like a ringing in her ears, sometimes louder, sometimes softer, but always there and oh, he used to call her Bells) that Jacob’s gone.
I - me. I did that, she thinks numbly.
(Somewhere, empires are crumbling.)
She makes it inside the house and almost makes it to her room without tripping or falling over anything when Charlie emerges from his, with his sleep mussed hair and his standard issue .40 Smith & Wesson at the ready.
If he just shot her, she thinks wryly (an unexpected miracle : her sense of humour is still in tact), then he might just save them all a whole lot of trouble.
She never meant to cause so much damage. She never knew that she had the power to, and that’s probably what got them all into this mess in the first place.
She gives into a sudden impulse and hugs Charlie goodnight. I’m leaving you, she tells him telepathically, testing it, and no, even though this is her second time saying it today, it doesn’t make it any easier at all.
four. i drove across a sea of ice to find my own command
In the morning, she doesn’t drive to La Push. She doesn’t drive to the Cullen mansion.
She doesn’t drive down to
She takes inventory : one tomato-red truck. One duffel bag, filled with various belongings. One Bella Swan, in search of self. A single side of a triangle, trying to somehow stand on her own.
She takes off in a completely different direction, towards someplace where, hopefully, the rain falls and the sun shines in equal measure. She sets her wheels on a third road that never really existed, until the moment she decided to go down it.
The golden mean.