In ancient times, it was said that the goddess Selene drove the moon across the sky. Each night she followed her brother Helios, the sun, to catch his fiery rays and reflect the light back to earth. One night on her journey, she looked down and saw Endymion sleeping in the hills. She fell in love with the beautiful shepherd. Night after night she looked down on his gentle beauty and loved him more, until finally one evening she left the moon between the sun and the earth and went down to the grassy fields to lie beside him.
For three nights she stayed with him, and the moon, unable to catch the sun’s rays, remained dark. People feared the dark moon. They said it brought death and freed evil forces to roam the black night. Zeus, King of the Gods, was angered by the darkness and punished Selene by giving Endymion eternal sleep.
Selene returned to the moon and drove it across the night sky, but her love was too strong. She hid Endymion in a cave; and now, three nights each lunar month, she leaves the moon to visit her sleeping lover and cover him with silver kisses. In his sleep, Endymion dreams he holds the moon. He has given Selene many daughters to guard the night. They are powerful and beautiful like their mother, and mortal like their father.
“So are you ready for a great birthday party?” Edward asked.
Reiko rolled her eyes. “Couldn’t you rein Kramisha in just this once?”
“No. Besides. You’re gonna love what I got you. Grams actually lent us your house today for the party.” Edward said.
“The shrine? But why?” Reiko said.
Edward was pulling her and covering her eyes and at last he let her see—a baby grand piano, in the middle of the shrine.
“I’m going to make a virtuoso out of you yet.” Edward grinned.
Reiko whirled and kissed him hard, knocking what would have been breath out of him.
Kramisha and Emmett laughed at the display.
Reiko went and sat at the piano, eager to prove herself.
As the music played and everyone was giddy with excitement, a lone priestess stood at the head of the stairs. Mana looked darkly at Edward and beckoned him with her mind.
“Mana, can’t you just have fun at the party?” Edward said in a long-suffering voice.
Mana reminded him of his sister Aphrodite. Both were cold and unappealing, and both always believed they were right.
“I would have stood by and let this happen, except...you were there at the Harvest Festival.” Mana said. “You saw that she is Chosen.”
“I thought you were their High Priestess?” Edward arched an eyebrow.
“It isn’t that simple.” Mana said. “There is something different this time. And it’s bigger then the petty dalliance between a leech and a silly girl.”
Edward paused, reading her thoughts, though it was difficult. As a priestess she was guarded from his power. From what he gathered, she was not lying, something evil was coming, and Reiko would die if something wasn’t done.
“What can I do?” Edward surrendered finally.
“Disappear.” Mana said. “If you go, then wolf’s time will end, and the curse will go unfulfilled. If you go, I don’t have to watch her die.”
Pain crossed his face before Edward quickly rearranged it.
Edward nodded, and went down to the party.
The next morning dawned with the Hikawa shrine in rags from the party.
Reiko bounded downstairs and set to cleaning.
It took a few moments, but she began to notice that her gifts were gone. Pictures, music...the piano.
Edward stood by the house. Reiko hurried toward him, but slowed when she saw his cold, distant face; an unreadable mask.
“Walk with me?” Edward said.
Edward gently took her hand. Dread filled her, but she let him guide her toward the woods...
Edward stopped by a fallen tree and turned to Rei.
“We need to leave Forks.” Edward said.
“What? Why?” Rei said.
“It's time. Larten's supposed to be ten years older than he looks; people will start noticing.” Edward said.
“But... when?” Rei said.
“Now.” Edward said.
Rei reeled, trying to take this in.
“I'll have to think of something to tell Grams, but I can be ready --“ Rei said.
“Not you. Us.” Edward said.
“I belong with you.” Rei said.
“You don't.” Edward said.
“I'm coming.” Rei said.
“I don't want you to come!” Edward said.
Rei was stung, as if slapped.
“You don't... want me.” Rei said.
“No.” Edward said.
She stepped back. Trying to understand this.
“I'd like to ask one favor though.” Edward said.
“Anything.” Rei looked up, hopeful
“Don't do anything stupid or reckless -- do you understand?” Edward said. “... for Grams’ sake. Just... take care of yourself.”
“I... yes... I will.” Rei said.
He softened ever-so-slightly.
“Don't worry. You're human. Time heals all wounds for your kind. Particularly if you're not reminded.” Edward said.
Desperation welled up in her, overwhelming dignity.
“No, this is - don't do this. Please.” Rei said.
He saw she wouldn’t let go easily. Took a breath. His face turned cold again.
“Try to understand. Every second with you is about restraint. You're too fragile. I'm tired of pretending to be something I'm not. Reining myself in so I can be with a human.” Edward said.
“Then take my soul. I don't care! I don't want it without you --“ Rei said.
“You're not good for me, Rei.” Edward said.
Rei looked at him. His hard face. His resolve.
“I've let it go on too long. I'm sorry.” Edward said.
Tears stung Rei's eyes. This couldn't be happening. He stepped forward... kissed her forehead. She closed her eyes.
“I promise, it will be like I never existed. Goodbye, Rei.” Edward said.
And here, for the first time, it was revealed how truly agonizing this really was for Edward. But Rei didn’t see.
By the time she opened her eyes - he was gone. She spun
“Wait.” Rei said.
She saw a leaf fluttering to the ground where he grazed a branch; the only indication of his direction. She hurried down the path, then ran.
“Edward?!” Rei said.
Rei kept running, going deeper into the woods...
Rei ran through the woods, searching, reminiscent of her dream. It got darker and darker, until it was deep into night. Rei had sharp desperate breaths, coughing, blood dripping from her mouth.
Rei tripped. Fell to the damp forest floor. She looked up, the trees spinning around her...
She remained on the ground. Curled into a ball. Darkness shrouded her. Devastation paralyzed her.
She was numb. Her name was being called in the distance. A search party. She was too
wrecked to respond.
Rain began to pour; she didn't register it....
Rei, lay there, dazed. She began to hear an animal snuffling. It got closer. It sounded large. Scary. Then she heard a whisper.
“Move, Rei.” She heard Edward say.
She lifted her head, looked for Edward... but saw something else instead
A dark shape, huge, black. Nearing. Its eyes reflected light for a split second; they were inhuman, savage.
Rei, terrified, managed to drag herself to a cluster of trees. She squeezed between them. Breathing hard. She closed her eyes, trying to disappear...
Rei's eyes opened later to find herself floating several feet above the ground. Trees passed by. She was being carried...
Half the town was gathered - a tired rescue party that included Damien, Erin, Shaunee, Kuri and Jacob.
Grams, beside herself with worry, pored over a map with Dervish Black and Quileute Harry Clearwater.
“I'll call the Cullens again. Her note said she and Edward went for a walk.” Grams said.
“They left town, Kaori.” Dervish said.
“Hospital said Doc Cullen got a big job somewhere else.” Harry said.
Harry put a reassuring hand on Grams's shoulder.
“We'll find her, Grams.” Harry said.
Grams was glad for the comfort of his two friends.
“Grams!” Jacob said.
Grams spun to where Jacob pointed.
Grubbs Uley, 20, emerged, a tall, strong Quileute Indian with cropped hair and a fierce expression. He was carrying Rei.
“It's Grubbs Uley. He found her.” Dervish said.
Grams bolted to her; she had never moved faster in her life.
She wrapped her arms around Rei, lifting her from Grubbs's arms.
“Thank you, Grubbs. Thank God.” Grams said.
Grams carried Rei to the house, cradling her. Harry and Dervish gave Grubbs a nod of praise and gratitude. But Grubbs backed away, avoiding any accolades.
Jacob jogged alongside Grams, peering at Rei with worry. Then Jacob slowed, feeling eyes on his back... he turned to see Grubbs Uley staring at him. Jacob, uncomfortable, quickly looked away.
Grams started carrying Rei up the stairs to the house.
“What were you thinking, Baby? Why were you out there?” Grams asked.
“He's... gone.” Rei said.
Then Kuri smelled it, and it was like she slammed into an invisible wall. The scent of blood washed over her, horrible. Kuri stopped and closed her eyes. Maybe if she stayed very still and didn't open them she could convince herself that this was all just a bad dream, that I would wake up in a few hours.
Kuri felt an arm go around her, and still she didn't move.
"She needs you, Kuri." Damien's voice was shaking only a little. Kuri opened her eyes then and stared at him. He was already crying.
"I don't think I can do this.”
His grip on her shoulders tightened. "Yes, you can. You have to."
"Sister!" Rei sobbed.
Without another thought, Kuri wrenched herself from Damien's arm and ran to her sister. She was on her knees clutching the blood-soaked towel to her chest. She coughed and gagged again, and more blood sprayed from her mouth and nose.
"Get me more towels!" Kuri snapped to Erin, who was sitting white-faced and silent beside Rei. Then she crouched in front of Rei. "It's going to be okay. I promise. It's going to be okay.”
Rei was crying, and her tears were tinged red. She shook her head. "It's not. It can't be. I'm dying." Her voice was weak and gurgled as she tried to speak through the blood hemorrhaging in her lungs and throat.
"I'm staying with you. I won't let you be alone," Kuri said.
Rei grasped Kuri’s hand and she was shocked by how cold hers was. "I'm scared, Sis.”
"I know, I'm scared, too. But we'll get through this together. I promise.”
Erin handed me a pile of towels. Kuri took the blood-soaked towel from Rei's hands, then she started wiping her face and mouth with a clean one, but she started coughing again and Kuri couldn't keep up. There was just too much blood. And now Rei was shaking so hard that she couldn't hold a towel herself. With a cry, Kuri pulled her onto her lap and wrapped her arms around her, and like she was a child again, Kuri began rocking her, telling her over and over that it would be all right, that she wouldn't leave her.
“Kuri, this might help." Kuri forgotten that there were other people there, so Damien's voice surprised her. Kuri looked up to see that he was holding the relit green candle that represented earth. Then somehow, in the midst of my fear and despair, her instinct kicked in and she suddenly felt very calm.
"Come down here, Damien. Hold the candle close to her.”
Damien dropped to his knees, and oblivious to the growing pool of blood that surrounded us and soaked us, he pressed close to Rei, holding the candle in front of her face. Kuri felt more than she saw Erin and Shaunee kneel on either side of me, and she drew strength from their presence.
"Rei, open your eyes, honey," Kuri said softly.
With a nasty, gurgling breath, Rei's eyelids fluttered open. The whites of her eyes were totally red and more pink tears leaked down her colorless cheeks, but her eyes caught on the candle, and they held.
"I call the element earth to us now." Kuri’s voice strengthened and got louder as she spoke. "And I ask that earth be with this very special priestess, Rei Hikawa, who has been so newly gifted with an affinity for the element. Earth is our home—our provider—and earth is where we will all someday return. Tonight I ask that earth hold and comfort Rei, and make her journey home a peaceful one.”
With a rush of fragrant air we were suddenly enveloped in the scents and sounds of an orchard. Kuri smelled apples and hay, and heard birds chirping and bees buzzing.
Rei's reddened lips tilted up. Her eyes never left the green candle, but she whispered, "I'm not scared anymore, Sis.”
Then Kuri heard the front door burst open and Grams was there crouched beside me. She started to move Damien and the Twins out of the way and take Rei from my arms.
Kuri voice blasted the room with its power, and she saw even Grams jerk back with surprise. "No! We stay with her. She needs her element and she needs us.”
"Very well," Grams said. "It's very nearly over anyway. Help me get her to drink this so that her “passing will be painless.”
Kuri was going to take the vial filled with milky liquid from her when Rei spoke with surprising clearness. "I don't need it. Since earth came there hasn't been any pain.”
"Of course there hasn't been, child." Grams touched Rei's blood-smeared cheek and Kuri felt her body relax and stop trembling completely. Then the High Priestess looked up. "Help Kuri lift her onto the stretcher. Keep them together. Let's get her to the shrine.” Grams told her.
I nodded. Strong hands gripped Rei and , and in moments Kuri was placed on the stretcher with Rei still in my arms. Surrounded by Damien, Shaunee, Erin, and Jacob, they were carried swiftly out into the night. Later, Kuri remembered so many weird things about the short trip from the forest into the shrine—how it was snowing heavily, but that it seemed none of the flakes touched us. And it seemed abnormally quiet, as if the earth were holding itself still because it was already mourning. Kuri kept whispering to Rei, telling her that everything was okay, and that there was nothing to be scared of. Kuri remember her leaning forward and vomiting blood over the side of the stretcher and how the scarlet drops looked against the clean white of the new-fallen snow.
Then they were inside the infirmary, and lifted off the stretcher onto a bed. Grams gestured for her friends to move close to them. Damien crawled up beside Rei. He was still holding the lit green candle, and he lifted it so that if she opened her eyes again, Rei would see it. Kuri drew a deep breath. The air around them was still filled with apple blossoms and birdsong.
Then Rei opened her eyes. She blinked a couple times, looking confused, then she looked up at me and smiled.
With obvious effort, Rei opened her eyes again and looked around at Damien, Shaunee, and Erin. "Y'all stick with Kuri. Don't let anything pull you apart.”
"Don't worry," Damien whispered through his tears.
"We'll take care of her for you," Shaunee managed to say. Erin was clutching Shaunee's hand and crying hard, but she nodded in agreement and smiled at Rei.
"Good," Rei said. Then she closed her eyes. "Sis, I think I'm gonna sleep for a while now, 'kay?”
"Okay, honey," Kuri said.
Her eyelids lifted once more and she looked up at Kuri. "Will you stay with me?”
Kuri hugged her closer. "I'm not going anywhere. You just rest. We'll all be right here with you.”
"'Kay ...” she said softly.
Rei shut her eyes. She took a few more gurgling breaths.
Then Kuri felt her go completely limp in her arms and she didn't breathe again. Her lips opened just a little, as if she was smiling. Blood trickled from her mouth, her eyes, nose, and ears, but Kuri couldn't smell it. All she could smell were the scents of the earth. Then, with an enormous rush of meadow-filled wind, the green candle went out, and Kuri’s sister died.
And in an ironic twist of fate, she felt a painful shiver all over her body. When she looked in the mirror later she would find that all the Celtic knots had come undone, a symbol of the death of a sister.