Let me start by apologizing for an overly long review ... kind of your fault for giving us so much material at once, though, don't you think? ;) I spent almost as much time cutting this down as writing it in the first place...
The beginning scene when they come back to Charlie's house after school reminded me how vividly you describe a scene, from the sound of the rain on the roof changing when they closed the door, to her soaked jacket ... I feel like I'm there.
‘...some miracle cure that would somehow completely erase the unwanted parts of one's past from one's mind. And from those around them.' You've done such a good job showing how violence like this affects everyone who loves the victim.
"Maybe I should let you snack on Lauren after all." Good one.
Oh my goodness, what an explosion over the Dartmouth letter. I have to wonder if he really thought through how she was likely to react. But he cleaned it up pretty well: "I'm not trying to change everything we had planned. I just...I wanted to give you more options in case you need them." Hard to argue with that.
‘the dull cast of weariness in his eyes...' Oh, this hurts my heart. Poor baby.
Great conversation about the human memories that will stick with her after her change. That's an excellent point that in addition to his own change, he was a front-row witness to what Rosalie and Emmett (and Esme) went through, especially how Rosalie resented Carlisle. When he tries to coax her to take her time and be sure she is ready, ‘The desperation and...fear in his quick and jumbled words shocked me.' The dialog you wrote for him really did catch my attention as being unusually ... emotional?
"I couldn't bear it if you...if you had any regrets." Heartclench.
Great answer: "I have a choice. Rosalie didn't. And I choose you. Always."
Good when he enthusiastically kisses her and she assures him "No, this is good. This is very good." He needs to hear it.
So well said: ‘Everyone still craved juicy Bella Swan gossip that they could sink their teeth into, just so that they might mince it up and mold it to their liking before spit[t]ing it out again to the next available gossiper, not even caring who they hurt in the process.' Flocks of humans take that kind of cruelty so casually. Imagine being a celebrity in our culture, ugh.
Interesting advice from Dr. Williams: ‘Falling back into normal habits, that's what I needed.' And yet ‘I no longer saw the world the way I once had, the way [Angela] still saw it.' All the normal habits in the world won't close that gap.
She's pushing so hard, but it's understandable: ‘He had been trying to convince me to slow things down and get some of my exams deferred, but that was the last thing I wanted. What I wanted was school over and done with as soon as possible.' At least it would be a relief to put a fork in high school. (maybe that's an Americanism? "put a fork in it, it's done". Couldn't resist the fork thing...)
Good description of the mental battle between rational Bella and irrational Bella over wearing shorts for the first time in months. And of how desperately she wants to win that battle, to spare Edward going through it again. The whole section that starts ‘And like always my attempts to talk sense into myself were pointless' is so well done. What her logical mind knows and what feels real don't have much in common. Jacob's hands are gone forever, ‘Yet touch me they did.‘ Shiver.
‘I hadn't pulled away from just a simple touch from him like that for a long time, and we both knew it.' She's trying so hard to be in control, and he's trying so hard to help ... it must kill her to hurt his feelings.
So helpful that she learns there are words for the things she has been feeling, perfectly normal and predictable reactions to what she's been through. A little ironic, isn't it, that she learns about "hypervigilance", which describes our favorite vampire to a T.
Yeah, it can be really frustrating when you know you most need sleep and it stays so far out of reach. What a brilliant idea Edward had, and he managed to execute it so well, bringing some playfulness and "easy charm" back into their interaction.
She can't believe he wants to take her outside in the middle of the night. ‘Maybe I'd fallen asleep after all.' Giggle.
‘He was trying so hard to do everything exactly right, to be exactly what I needed, but what about what he needed?' Good girl.
She did well managing the moment of panic when she realized her eyes were fully open and she still couldn't see a thing in the pitch dark. That would scare me too. She even manages to reassure hypervigilant Edward that it's OK. He relaxes enough to observe that she just allowed him to take her who-knows-where in the dark, and "I hope you don't do that for just anyone." Cute.
Ah, the meadow! ‘It had always held its own kind of magic, but, coming here at night for the first time, it had a different kind of magic.'
Oh, this is excellent: ‘And he felt so strong and hard and safe that suddenly there were tears slipping down my cheeks. Just a silent, steady flow that came for no particular reason except that they needed to. There was no stopping them. They just were. And I closed my eyes and just let them come.' Sniffle, just what she needs. Don't have to analyze all the time, don't have to judge, just let it flow.
Lovely: ‘A sweet, surprisingly innocent kiss that was just such an act of kindness and love that my heart seemed to freeze with the wonder of it.' What good news: ‘I hadn't destroyed all the progress we'd made after all.'
Yummy when she explores him by touch in the dark. Even better that he lets himself enjoy it: "If I knew this was what awaited me I would've kidnapped you in the night and brought you here a long time ago."
Oh my gosh: "The night sky and its vastness was one of the only things that didn't change when I became a vampire, you see. ... It made me feel...connected, in a way, to who I used to be...to being human." Wow. We so rarely get glimpses into Edward's early struggles to adjust!
‘The thought of him spending all that time alone was devastating." Yes.
Classic Bella: ‘Edward Cullen," I said, my voice deathly quiet. "Are you telling me you've avoided talking about your past because you think it will make me feel uncomfortable about our age difference?" I might have laughed-if I didn't feel like strangling him instead.'
And Bella even manages to be a little playful: '"You're incredible, you know that?"
"Yes. But reminders are always welcome."'
So he accomplished just what he wanted: ‘Edward had been right; I'd needed this. ... it was wondrously cleansing... oddly comforting, peaceful.' And ‘...we were just two people lying beneath the stars without a care in the world. For now, everything was perfect.' Sigh. They needed a moment like this so badly.
Funny that he has been worrying about her reaction to the diamond charm all this time. Oh, she asks for a cell phone! ‘I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life letting these small details creep up on me, or fearing that they would. Facing them was better.' Good girl.
I can't believe he has no clue why it would be of interest to her to see him hunt....
‘He always took care of me. ... My last thought before I let sleep pull me under was: who was taking care of him?' Yes, excellent, important question.
‘[Dr. Williams] talked about how in a sexual assault the scene of the crime was the body itself, and how this made the body an enemy to the victim, reminding them of what they wished only to forget.' What an insight for the rest of us! ‘...survivors must find the power to overcome the false beliefs instilled at the time of the assault...' No wonder Bella doesn't feel like herself any more, her whole view of the world has shifted.
This is a really good point: "Nobody truly knows their own mind." The longer I live, the more I understand this.
Aww, so sad that she has taken to heart what her fellow students said about her leading Jacob on. In the books that was clearly the case, and yet, it in no way justifies rape. Oh, and she also blames herself for not having listened to Edward's suspicions about Jacob. That's a tough one, especially when she's thinking about how the rape has affected him. She has to know that Edward blames only Jacob, right?
Oh my gosh, she finds a way to tell Dr. Williams that Edward actually saw some of the rape. Clever girl! Reminds me of James and his video camera at the ballet studio, shudder.
‘Edward needed help too ... And I was going to make sure he got it.' Have I told you how much I love your Bella??
Not surprising that he interpreted her wish to keep him away from her therapy sessions as a wish for privacy. ‘Didn't he know by now that we were in this together?' Gee, Bella, you've been known to forget that occasionally too!
"Ah, you must be Bella's Edward." Perfectly phrased. ‘I decided I liked the sound of it. I liked it a lot, in fact.' Hell yes!
‘He looked almost...awkward under her gaze.' Can't wait to find out why!
Whoa, this is terrific: ‘"Remember what I told you about finding your power ...Well, if I'm not mistaken, the key to yours is standing on the other side of that door," she said with a faint smile.' Because of what Bella has said about him, or because of something she picked up from meeting him? Inquiring minds what to know!
Terrific, intriguing, engaging chapter. More, please!!
P.S.: I know what you mean about being sad that the last movie is over. I was practically sniffling thinking "no more Edward Cullen". Also no more new shots of Rob in character, damn it. For more than two years, though, my main tie to the fandom has been fan fiction, which is such an incredibly rich vein of well-imagined, deeply thoughtful, beautifully written stories starring our favorite characters. No way am I going anywhere!