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Title: Only Human (14/27) Author: Amethyst Jackson Rating: M/NC-17 Category: Drama, Angst, Romance Pairing: Edward/Bella Summary: A wish sends Bella back in time to Chicago, 1918, and to a human Edward. Disclaimer: All this genius belongs to Stephanie Meyer. I’m just having a little fun. A/N: We’re just moving right along now.
Our engagement remained our little secret for nearly two weeks afterward. We weren’t intentionally hiding it, exactly, but Edward confided in me – after a great deal of pestering – that his father would not be pleased. “It’s not you, not at all,” he said immediately, trying to reassure me. “My father has had it in his head since I was born that I would go to a great school and become a lawyer like him. Until now, there was nothing more important than my parents’ approval, so I never argued. I don’t think he’ll take it well…but now that I know what I want, nothing is going to stop me.”
“You know I would wait, right? If you wanted to go to school? I don’t want to cause any problems in your family –“ Edward merely laughed and kissed me. “I appreciate that, but I can’t wait that long for you. Don’t worry about my father; I’ll handle him. And my mother will be thrilled.” I had no doubt that his mother would be happy, if only for the fact that Edward had given up his notions of going off to war on some heroic adventure. Every day, she reported the news dutifully – with growing relief. The Allies had just won a long battle against the Germans, the Second Battle of the Marne, if I remembered my history lessons correctly. Now they had launched an offensive. The tides of the war did very much seem to be turning, which seemed to comfort everyone. Only I’d been privileged with the knowledge that the war would end in November. Things remained very much the same as they always had during this time, otherwise. I still spent most of my time with Edward, though I tried to help Elizabeth around the house as much as possible – not an easy task, considering they had a maid and a cook, but I tried. Edward found more and more excuses for us to sneak off places alone, mostly for the sake of stealing heated kisses. Between Edward and the ridiculous Midwestern humidity, my head was constantly reeling. Only in mid-August, when Edward’s father mentioned at dinner that he ought to be packing to return to school, did things finally start to go awry. “You know they want you up there a week before term starts. That doesn’t leave you much time,” he went on, oblivious to my suddenly white face and Edward having frozen in place. Edward swallowed the bite he’d been chewing on with difficultly and met my eyes briefly before answering. “Actually, Father, about that…I’ve decided I don’t want to return to school.” I could see Edward Sr.’s jaw clenched with anger and Edward bracing himself for confrontation, but I felt suddenly like a strange spectator as a horrifying realization came over me. Edward would be in Chicago when the epidemic hit because of me. If he went off to boarding school like he was supposed to, he wouldn’t be in the city. He might never catch the disease. He wouldn’t be taken to Carlisle’s hospital. He wouldn’t be changed. Edward would remain human…have the life he always wanted… I was paralyzed with the terrifying, sickening knowledge that the future hung in the balance. My instincts flew in a thousand different directions. On one side was the impulse to protect Edward at all costs…on the other was the need to protect my future at all costs. What could I do? “Maybe we should discuss this in my office,” I heard Mr. Masen say as he stood up from the table, silverware clattering down against his plate.
Edward got up silently to follow. I wouldn’t have known he was nervous at all if he hadn’t given my hand a tight squeeze before he followed his father out of the room. “Don’t worry,” Elizabeth said, glancing through her eyelashes at me. My face must have tipped her off to my distress. “They’re just being a father and son.” I nodded weakly. My mind was still reeling, and I needed to be alone to think. I quickly excused myself from the table and hurried up to my room. What I really wanted was to talk to someone – Carlisle, perhaps – but it was much too late to go out alone. The last thing I wanted now was another run-in with the likes of Norman Bouchard. What was I supposed to do? What would happen if I convinced Edward to leave Chicago? He might avoid the disease altogether…we might marry and have children and grow old…but then he would be dead before I ever had the chance to meet him…and then how would I make the wish that sent me here? And what was the guarantee that it would work out that way? I might spare Edward from the epidemic in Chicago, only for him to contract it elsewhere…away from Carlisle, who could save him… How could I risk this Edward’s fate and my future Edward’s? Maybe I had to let things play out according to the story I knew. But if I stood by and did nothing when I knew what was coming, was that the same as condemning Edward to the damnation I knew he’d always cursed? What would he want? Maybe it really was impossible for me to change anything. Anything that kept Edward from becoming a vampire would change my future in a way that would prevent me from ever being in the past. If I didn’t meet Edward in 2005, I certainly wouldn’t make a wish on a birthday cake in 2006 that would send me to 1918. And who was to say I could even convince Edward to leave Chicago? He was possibly more stubborn than I was. No matter what I did, disastrous consequences were possible. Whether I destroyed my future, or things stayed exactly the same and I watched Edward go through hell…it was going to hurt.
Maybe it means that no matter what you do, things are going to turn out the way they’re supposed to, Carlisle’s voice echoed in my head. And maybe he was right. Maybe there was no way for me to
change things from their intended course, and maybe I shouldn’t try. A soft knock sounded on my door, the unmistakable signature of Edward. “Come in,” I called. He did come in, closing the door softly behind him, and then sprawled out wearily beside me on my bed like it was an old habit. It was becoming a habit, I realized, taking in the familiar sight of him throwing his arm over his eyes, like he did when he’d just been through an exasperating ordeal.
“What happened?” I asked, reaching down to comb my fingers through his hair. What had always astounded me was that his hair was just as soft as a vampire as it was now, as a human. Only the warmth exuding from his scalp was different. Edward dropped his arm and smiled up at me. “It went well enough. He’s not making me return to school, but he insists I try out a job at a law firm, hoping I’ll change my mind. It’s fine; I was going to get a job anyway. Now I know where I’ll be working.” I frowned at his forced smile. “But it isn’t what you want.” His response was to take my hand away from his hair and kiss the back of it. My heart stumbled in my chest, as clumsy as I was. “Don’t worry about that, Bella. Maybe it isn’t what I want to be doing, but I only have to do it long enough to appease my father. And as long as I can see your face at the end of the day, I don’t care what I’m doing.” I could only sigh a little dreamily and lean down to brush my lips against his. A pronouncement like that could only be rewarded with a kiss. He grinned as I pulled away, grasping my hand tightly. “See, that’s all I need. You have no idea how relieved I am. I’m an abominable coward sometimes, you know – I’d been putting off that conversation for so long because I was terrified he would make me leave.” His face had fallen, his eyes clouding with something I recognized, that sense of dread and fear that went along with needing someone so much that one lived in fear of having that person taken away. “We could have run away together if he had,” I offered, half-joking, trying to ease the tension. “If you could find a way to bring home the bacon, I could cook it.” He chuckled. “I suppose I was worried for nothing. Silly of me. I think I could manage anything, as long as you were with me.” I smiled back as I realized I was thinking about this entirely the wrong way. Edward was right. We were meant to be together, and staying together was our best bet. It wouldn’t help to try to send Edward away. I could only stand by his side and try to make him happy for as long as I had with him. “What’s that smile for?” he asked, reaching up to brush his fingers along my jaw. “For you,” I replied simply. “Hmm. I could get used to that,” he teased, taking my hand again. I enjoyed the way he played idly with my fingers – unthinking, unafraid of breaking me. When I was a vampire…but now wasn’t the time for that thought. He would see it on my face, and I didn’t want him to think there was a single part of me that wasn’t with him. “Bella…” Edward started tentatively, although a hint of slyness played about his eyes, “Would you be terribly offended if I tried to sneak into your room tonight?”
I laughed aloud, wondering what was going on in his head. “Don’t you think that would cause a scandal?” Smiling softly, he replied, “I think I would risk it for the opportunity to hold you in my arms. Just to sleep, I promise.” I scooted down to lie beside him, facing him. “Just sleep? I don’t know about that. I couldn’t go without at least a kiss or two.” Edward faked a sigh of exasperation. “If that’s the price I have to pay…I guess I’ll give you want you want.” I grinned. “See you in a few hours, then?” “Definitely,” he promised, leaning in to kiss me quickly. I watched him go with a smile; it was easy to get caught up in watching him, studying the way he moved, the life in his every step. True to his word, Edward returned after his parents had gone to sleep. He was adorably boyish in his nightshirt and shorts as he slipped under the blankets beside me. I gladly wound my legs with his as he wriggled closer, snaking an arm around my waist. “You’re warm,” he sighed happily, nuzzling his nose into my hair at my shoulder. “Your feet are cold,” I replied, still smiling. They weren’t nearly as cold as I was used to. “Soon we’ll be able to do this every night,” he said; I couldn’t see his face, but I could feel him smiling. “We’ll be able to do a bit more than that,” I pointed out, satisfied when he tensed against me. “Bella!” “Sorry,” I choked back a laugh, squeezing his arm in apology. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.” “Oh, is that so?” he growled playfully as he pinned me beneath him. “I think it would be much cuter if you were the flustered one.” “Do you think you can fluster me?” I snickered; even though I had a feeling he would make me eat my words. Edward had no greater talent in life than charming me into submission, in any time. “I know I can,” he said, his warm breath drifting over my face. My lips tingled as I met his eyes, glinting blackly in the darkness, sparked only with moonlight. It was almost like having my vampire back, seeing that predatory look on his face with that smug smile. “Okay,” I relented, wrapping my arms around his neck. “You win.”
He smiled his triumph and happily kissed me breathless.
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