This is the last chapter. I have had such an amazing 9 months writing this and that's because of you awesome people. Thanks for reading this, thanks for talking about this, thanks for letting me know you are out there, thanks for nominating me in the TwiFic Awards. I have tried to respond to each and every review, I love hearing from you and talking about these characters. Please keep in touch here, or on Twitter or Facebook. This isn't the last you've heard from me, I promise.
Now for my extra-special thank yous. (If I have forgotten you, it is only because I am overwhelmed with love and appreciation)
- to the many authors who've inspired me over the years, I'm still in awe of all the talent in this community.
- to Raum who was the first person, that I know of, that asked people to take a chance on a new Canadian author.
-to Sri, who found me on Twitter, and agreed to be my pre-reader. She's an amazing woman and I'm so happy she puts up with me.
-to Raum and Camilla who wrote about my story in its early days, and to the Fic Sisters at the International House of Fanfic for including Goodbye Peter Pan as one of their "Stories We're Smitten With".
- to Nic, who made my night when I got a message from her telling me she'd found my story in a fic dive. I was at a bar with girl friends and I went into to the bathroom to do a little Squeeeee! dance. She calls me on my self-sabotage and I love her all the more for it. Plus, she hooked me up with the greatest beta a gal could hope for. All that and she's an amazing friend. (I still fangirl a bit that I can call you friend!)
- to Every Freaking Body at The Lemonade Stand for all their support they've shown not only to this little story, but to me. They kept my head up and in the game, I am forever grateful for their faith in me.
-to Mina, AN Hanninen and Jamie, who've all made beautiful banners for me. They've each captured Goodbye Peter Pan in a single image, I'm so lucky to be on the receiving end of their talent.
-to AN Hanninen and the girls at Twi Fic Trivia for picking me as a fic of the week, even when I was under 1000 reviews.
- to every author, blogger and fan who has sent people my way; Carrie ZM, Karen Twilightladies, Stace Leo, Vagabonda, Sue Gilreath, Daisy Read, Lori, PFK, Belle Biter, Moosals, twiolic, rhdmom and others that I am sure I am forgetting. XOXO
-And finally, to the amazing Iris aka Mariahajile. She has been so much more than a beta through this process, she's been my mentor and I adore her. She does so much for this fandom. We are so crazy fortunate to have her in this community. I heart you girl!
And now, the final chapter.
"Edward?" She sighed.
"Mmmhmmm?" His lips were back on Bella's neck.
"I believe you promised you were going to dress me and take me home to our bed." She felt him smile against her, gently nipping her skin before he moved away.
"You're right, Ms. Swan. I believe I did."
They lingered. Lips and fingers continued to explore, while fantasies were listed in breathless whispers. Bella grew restless with the teasing and moved her hand down Edward's chest, eager to move things along. Edward's hand caught Bella's before it reached its destination. "I've made promises to you regarding our bedroom. If you go any further here, I'm worried about my ability to fulfill them. Let's go Mrs.-" Edward stopped mid-sentence.
Bella looked down at Edward. "I'm guessing you weren't going to say Newton."
"No." Edward laughed quietly through his embarrassment. "I was definitely not going to say that."
"I didn't think so." Bella stood up and then reached her hand out to pull Edward up. He didn't need her help, but he took it.
Edward opened his mouth to apologize but, once again, stopped himself. He wasn't sorry. "The thing is…" The hand that wasn't holding Bella's moved to play with the back of his neck. Bella noticed his nervous gesture and smiled as she gave his hand an encouraging squeeze. "The thing is," he repeated. "I think of you like that already." Even though he thought of her like that, the phrase as my wife wasn't one he was quite ready to say.
Neither of them spoke as they dressed and then walked hand in hand through the forest. Bella knew he was collecting his thoughts and was willing to give him time.
"Actually, scratch that. You're more than that. We're more than that." Edward moved in front of Bella, letting go of her hand so he could place both of his hands on her face. "You've been married. Hell, you were married last week. Is what we have between us anything like that?"
"There's nothing in this world like what we have."
"That's what I'm saying," He leaned it to kiss her quickly before returning to his impassioned speech. "We were born nearly a century apart, and yet the fates knew we were so perfect for each other that our souls are one. They found a way to preserve me at 17 until I found you. And even when I tried to defy the fates, they wouldn't have it. Look at me. I aged while we were apart. I don't think it was heartbreak. I think I would have kept aging so that when we finally found our way back to each other, I'd be ready for you. Bella, when you said that we're one, there hasn't been a greater truth uttered. A ring can circle your finger and a white dress can wrap your body, but they can't come close to encompassing our love. They're just mundane trappings of a mortal ceremony."
Bella watched Edward as he talked about weddings. She knew him well enough to hear all the things he hadn't said. "But a ceremony... Would you like to have one? Someday?"
Edward's laugh was loud and carried through the leaves above them.
"Yes, you wonderful, absurd girl. I tell you all that and you still see through me."
Bella stood on her toes to press her lips to Edward's, cutting off his laugh. "Everything you said is true and perfect. But there will be a day in the future that I'd like to have one last human experience with you. I need a little time, but trust me. You'll know when I'm ready."
"Bella," Edward murmured her name between kisses. "Bella... this... right now... I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest."
Bella put her hand over his heart, as if she could hold it in.
"So happy... So, so happy." Edward picked Bella up, swirled her around in a full circle before resuming their kiss, and started to walk with her in his arms.
As they walked, Bella's legs dangled and her toes knocked Edward's shins with each step he took. He didn't mind. His arms were crossed under her ass, and he took pleasure in the places his hands could stray as he supported her. They walked and kissed until they bumped into a tree. They changed course, but not position, as they meandered through the forest. Edward was looking forward to putting her down once they reached their destination, but he was making the most of their journey. He kissed her through his wide smile, his delight impossible to contain.
Eventually they found their way home. Edward let go of Bella only enough to open the front door. Once they crossed the threshold, their kisses changed from the leisurely exploration they enjoyed on their walk to an unrestrained passion that increased as they neared the bedroom. Bella's legs wrapped around Edward's middle, his hands freeing to undress her.
His mouth pressed against each new inch of exposed skin as he undid the buttons of her blouse. Edward pushed the material off her shoulders, his mouth following down her right arm as he freed it. He kissed the inside of her wrist, moved to her left arm, and began kissing his way slowly back to her neck. They fell on the bed, where Edward continued to follow his hands with his mouth, on a mission to kiss everywhere he could reach.
"I'm touching you." For a moment, the shock they were finally together hit Edward.
"You are... You're touching me." Bella held Edward's face in her hands. She watched him process the moment. "You're here. I'm here. We're together. We're finally, finally together. Forever." She shifted to her knees but didn't take her hands from him. He moved with her. "I love you. I'm here in our bed, and I love you." She moved her hands over his face. "I love you," she repeated.
"Bella!" Edward exclaimed, but she had no chance to reply. His mouth crushed hers as a rapturous response to her declaration. She clung to him as she had her own quiet moment of gratitude.
They were together.
She fell backwards, eager to feel Edward's weight on her, but he stayed on his knees.
His mood shifted back to ease. He languidly removed Bella's shorts and then her bra so she was nearly naked in front of him. He continued to run his hands over her bare legs. His feather touch caused her to giggle as he moved them over her stomach. The giggles turned to sighs as he circled her breasts. She watched his face as he watched his hands.
"What?" She was curious about the change in his expression, as though a thought had just occurred to him.
"I just realized I've never really seen your ass. Roll over." Edward lifted Bella's leg and ducked under it so that he was no longer between them, but kneeling beside her.
Bella complied with vampire speed, keeping her eye on Edward to watch his expression as she gave her bum a little wiggle.
But it was her face that changed when he answered her teasing with a light slap. Edward took in her shocked expression. He smirked at her and shrugged his shoulders. "Couldn't help it." He swung his leg over hers, trapping her thighs between his knees. His hands traced the hem of her panties before he leaned down and kissed between her shoulder blades. His hands stayed as his body shifted, his lips making contact with every dip and divot in her spine, until he reached the small of her back. He pulled away as he pulled her panties down and off her legs, his lips and tongue still following the path his hands and fingers blazed. Standing, he pulled them off her feet.
Bella stayed on her stomach but turned to look at Edward.
Edward rubbed his chin, and then bit down on his knuckles to stop himself from pulling her hips up and impaling himself on her. He watched her for a little longer as her ankles crossed and her knees bent.
"Take your shirt off." Her innocent tone didn't quite match her instructions.
He let her legs swing in front of him for a moment longer before he followed her request. She didn't take her eyes off him.
Once his shirt was on the floor, he reached out and grabbed her calves, unhooking her ankles.
Bella understood his silent request and rolled once more onto her back. "Keep going," she directed, tapping her foot against his pants to make herself clear.
She watched hungrily as he pushed his boxers and jeans down together. Once he was undressed, he leaned down and ran his hands down the outside of her legs, stopping at her ankles. He clasped his hands around them and moved them apart, exposing Bella before him. He trailed his hands along the inside of her legs, once again following the movements of his fingers with his mouth. He kissed and licked his way from her ankle to her knee, and then did the same to the other side. Bella lifted her head from the bed to watch him as he moved past her knee, curious and hopeful about where he was going to next. His fingers lightly brushed over the lips of her pussy as he moved his head back to Bella's opposite knee. His tongue swirled over her skin as his fingers teased her, his eyes never leaving the actions of his hands between her thighs. Her eyes never left him.
She was sure his lips were going to replace his fingers; she needed them to. Instead, he shifted so that he was back on his knees looking down at her.
"You know, from now on, I don't think we should bother with clothes. I want to be naked with you for eternity." His eyes never came off his hands. Now, the second one had joined in, teasing her lips, while a finger on the other hand entered her.
"I'm not sure how your family would deal with that," Bella joked.
Edward finally looked up to Bella. "Fuck 'em," he growled, but grinned and winked at her.
Bella laughed. "You're so free now. I love you."
"Keep saying that. Don't ever stop telling me that." Edward tilted down, his mouth finally making contact.
"I love you," she repeated until she couldn't form sensible words.
Edward took his time tasting, teasing, exploring. He kissed and licked her while his fingers dreamily danced, sometimes in her, sometimes over her. The occasional "I love you" would slip out between her mewls and sighs, and Edward would respond with a small increase in vigour. He would then pull back slightly, just enough to keep Bella from tumbling over the edge. This tender back and forth continued until Edward could no longer contain his fervor and he had to hold Bella's hips as she thrust erratically against him.
Seconds after Bella's final, blissful cries, Edward felt the barest of something fall onto his back, immediately followed by another and another. Curious as to what snowed down around them, he reluctantly pulled his head up to look around. Just like snow, feathers fell from the air around them. The source appeared to be the destroyed pillows Bella's hands were twisted into.
She was a vision. Her eyes could barely focus, because her lids heavy with delight. Her chest heaved. While she had no need for the oxygen, the physiological response ‒ to be breathless in paradise ‒ remained. Feathers continued to fall for several seconds before Bella acknowledged them.
"Oops." It came as one of her breaths more than a fully formed word. "I'm afraid to see what I've done to this place."
Edward smiled at the slight slur to her words. He had done this to her.
And he was going to do it again.
"It's just the pillows, darling. Easy enough to replace." He brushed the feathers from her torso before lowering his head once more, this time to lick and kiss his way up her body, until his hips were even to hers. His lips brushed hers as she wrapped her legs over his.
He pulled away, just enough to look into her eyes as he slowly entered her. "I love you. I've always loved you, and I always will. I love you with my body and my heart and my soul. We are one… for eternity."
Edward didn't give Bella a chance to respond. Once again overcome with emotion, he pressed his mouth to hers. While his body moved at a measured pace, his kisses betrayed his urgency. Bella's response came in the way she moved her hips against his, how her lips parted, eagerly receiving. But if she replied in words, they would have sounded very much like "I do."
Their days and nights alternated between completing renovations and causing new ones. Their bedroom remained unharmed, however, a testament to their ability to, once in a while, restrain themselves.
On occasion, they would wander to the main house, but in their early days together, the visits wouldn't last long, much to their family's amusement. As the summer days grew longer, so did their visits. They invited their Denali cousins for an extended stay. Jasper and Eleazer worked with Bella on developing her gift. She found she could easily extend her shield, a talent Edward was most grateful for when she could block others from his ability. Alice appreciated her attempts at retraction. As much as she adored finally having her second sister back, the fog that her gift created frustrated her.
Alice's ability to sometimes see Bella's future came with some reassurances. One cool, late August evening, the family descended on the nearest town. Although Alice had seen there would be no problems, they all wanted to be with Bella as she encountered humans for the first time. It went so well that they took in a late movie. They were the only one in the theatres. Bella had paid for their entrance, and delighted with her self-control, she took another stop on the way to the empty theatre and bought the entire family popcorn. She knew it was wasteful, but she did it just because she could. It was a move she regretted when the Cullens launched popcorn at Bella and Edward in the back, who were enjoying each other much more than the movie.
They'd never been happier. Every now and then, it would strike one of them that this had been the place where they had watched Edward at his worst. Only a few years ago, he had returned from Charlie's funeral and locked himself away from the world.
And now that his world was never more than an arm's length from him, his joy was palpable. It radiated from him. Jasper, who once was unable to live with the emotions his brother wallowed in, now revelled in them.
Then September came and, with it, a nudge that another world existed.
Jasper was the one who received the phone call. He wanted to talk to Edward alone first, but he knew that was impossible. He called Edward and let him know he was heading to his place. No one went by Bella and Edward's without calling first. Esme had learned that the hard way.
Although Jasper walked to their house feeling apprehensive, that changed when he saw them sitting on the front step waiting for him. Well, Edward sat on the front step; Bella sat in his lap, one hand lazily playing with Edward's hair while he kissed the fingertips on her other hand. Jasper now just wanted to get back to Alice.
"Jenks called." He thought he may as well get straight to it. "The library's finished the next renovation."
"That's wonderful!" they both exclaimed, though neither looked at Jasper.
"Edward, as a major benefactor, your presence is requested at the opening of the Isabella Newton Community Room."
"Oh." Bella's hand dropped from Edward's head. "Did you know about that?"
"No. Jenks has just been sending them money. I've had no contact with anyone there."
"That's why we're just hearing about it now. Jenks received the invitation on your behalf last month. He assumed you wouldn't be interested."
"We should go."
Edward and Jasper stared at Bella with matching shock.
"I mean you should go to the ceremony. I know I can't show up there."
"I'm not leaving you here while I go to Forks." Edward's hand squeezed Bella's. "I told you before: Where you go, I go. We'll never be apart again."
"I'll go to Forks with you."
"Bella," Jasper cautioned. "You can't."
"But I can. Alice could fly us in, and Edward and I can stay at his place. No one will see us there. We can get to it right from the ocean. The Denalis can come and babysit me while you're at the ceremony."
"Edward, it'll be okay. You should go. This is a result of what you started, and I want you to see it through. We'll have Alice scout the future for us, and we'll call Jake to get permission. But you should be there."
And so it came to pass that two weeks later, a large group of vampires met a smaller group of men on the rocky shore of the Pacific Coast. It didn't take long for Jake to embrace Bella, and they both joked about the other's offending smell. They spent the morning before the ceremony together. Jake caught Bella up on his life as a father before steering the conversation around to more sensitive subjects. He told her Angela had given birth to a daughter the day after Bella's funeral. Bella had to ask Jake for a minute when he revealed her name: Isabella. She leaned her head to Edward's chest while she let her own grief for her once friend find a way through her. Edward kissed the top of her head, knowing what she was going to ask next.
"How's Mike?" He rubbed her back. He wasn't offended by the question. Mike had come up in conversation from time to time. It was impossible to feel jealous of the time Mike had with Bella when Edward now had her for an eternity.
"He's doin' alright. He sold the store, though I strongly suspect the two of you were behind that, given how quickly it all went down." They both nodded. It had been in the early days that Edward had told Bella he'd like the Trust to buy Newton's. He had a great deal of empathy for Mike. He couldn't imagine continuing to work in the place where he had lost Bella.
"He's moved to Seattle. He started his Masters in Education at U Dub."
"Good for him." Bella smiled. "Look out for him."
"Don't worry. We're on it."
They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes until they heard the approaching cars on the driveway. Edward took the garment bag from Alice as she walked through the door and excused himself to get changed. Alice winked at Bella as she breezed back out of the house as quickly as she entered, muttering about never getting the smell out if she lingered.
Edward soon re-emerged, and Jake made himself scarce while Bella said her goodbyes. In the days following the invitation, Bella and Edward would sporadically spend time apart. They needed to work their way to this day, when they would have to spend hours away from each other.
Edward had used the time to hunt or play video games with his brothers.
Bella had used the time to test her shield while she plotted with Alice, Rose, and Esme.
Edward struggled through the ceremony. Bella had suggested that he take Tanya with him, but he refused. It felt like her funeral all over. This time, Angela approached him. Her young Isabella squirmed in her arms while she apologized for what she said to him on his front porch. Edward reassured Angela that he knew she was only looking out for her friend. Mike also approached him. He reached his hand to Edward's and shook it firmly. They exchanged a brief greeting before Mike moved on to thank others for coming. Jake had spoken truly when he told them Mike was doing okay. He wasn't as despondent as he was at Bella's funeral. Time, indeed, would heal him.
They'd arrived in several cars, including Edward's Cobra. He was hoping he could convince someone to drive it home for him. He had things he'd like to do to Bella in that car. He was sure someone wouldn't mind taking the day to bring it to Alberta.
Although Emmett had joined Edward on the drive to the ceremony, he got in the car with Rosalie, Jasper, and Emmett for the ride back to Edward's. Edward followed them, grateful for the time alone.
They all arrived together. The rest of the Cullens got out of their cars and moved to the back of the house. Bella was waiting for him at the front door. She'd changed since that morning, and she now wore her hair up and nothing but a robe.
"Wow. You look beautiful." He played with a curl that framed her face before pulling her into his arms and kissing her thoroughly. "Jesus, I missed you, Bella."
"I know. I missed you, too."
"I can't hear my family. I think they're giving us time alone. Time to bring this house down." He pulled Bella tighter against him, preparing to swing her legs up and carry her over the threshold. This had been the first place he'd wanted to do that in, and he didn't know how long it would be before they were back here.
"Hold on." Bella pressed her hand to his chest as her other one gently deposited something in his suit pocket.
"What's this? A gift for me?" Edward joked as his fingers fished around, looking for what she'd dropped. Bella knew the moment he found it. His lips parted, and his eyes widened.
She nodded softly.
"I told you you'd know when I'm ready."
"Bella." Edward said nothing more as he pulled out his mother's ring and held it between them.
"I know that we've done things a little differently than you once imagined, but I thought you'd still like to be the one who officially asked."
"I do," he replied as he dropped to one knee.
He took her left hand and then took a moment to appreciate the view of Bella, luminous before him.
"Bella Swan, you are my everything. You made me feel like a man when I thought I was a demon. You are my life, my heart, and my soul. Would you do me the extraordinary honor‒" He paused, overcome with emotions. She was already nodding. "Would you do me the extraordinary honor of also being my wife?"
"Yes. Oh, Edward. Yes!" The ring was on her finger as the words came out her mouth, and then Edward's mouth was on hers.
They held each other's faces, and laughed and kissed again. "Wow. We're engaged."
"Let's go celebrate." Edward attempted to push Bella to the door.
"Edward…" Bella took Edward's hand and started to lead him around to the back of the house. "The truth is that I have no interest in being your fiancée."
Bella continued on, pulling him with her around the corner. His family, both the Denalis and the Cullens, along with Jake and Seth, stood on the rocky beach. Their minds silent as Bella shielded them. Carlisle was positioned in the center under a simply constructed arbour, Esme standing not too far away on his right. Emmett and Jasper were to his left-hand side.
"I only want to be your wife."
It wasn't easy to surprise Edward, but they'd done it.
"Go stand with your brothers. I'm going to finish getting dressed. I'll be right out." Bella went to kiss Edward, but Alice moved between them.
"There'll be enough time for that soon enough. Come on."
Bella ignored Alice and dodged around her. "Edward? Are you okay? Is this okay?" His silence had her worried.
"We're getting married. Today." He beamed at her.
"In, like, five minutes."
He took her face in his hands and kissed her soundly. "Be fast. I don't think I can wait more than that." He kissed her again and walked away, but backwards, so he didn't have to take his eyes off her as she moved toward the house.
She walked backwards, as well.
He turned around once he got to his place at the end of the makeshift aisle, defined only by the short line of people on either side of a rocky path. Jasper and Emmett each gave him a solid pat on the back. Carlisle started out patting his shoulder but pulled Edward into his arms. They'd just finished congratulating Edward when they heard the door open up. Edward watched Alice and Rosalie walk the few feet from the back of the house to the end of their aisle. They each ended their journey stopping at Edward and kissing his cheek.
If he'd had a heartbeat, it would have stopped at the sight of Bella before him. As it was, his hand moved over his heart.
She stopped in the doorway and looked at Edward before taking her first step. He watched her take a few more when he realized she was walking alone.
He walked toward her, and they met halfway down the aisle.
"What are you doing?" She looked at him, tilting her head to the side, trying to understand what would have caused him to leave his place.
"You're walking alone. Nobody is giving you away."
"I'm nobody's to give away. I come to you freely. I'm yours and always have been." Bella rested her hand over his heart. "Why did you walk to me?"
"I couldn't stay away. There's no sense trying. Come on." He held his elbow out for Bella to hook hers into. "Let's do this together."
"Forever," Bella replied, hooking her arm into his.
"It won't be long enough, but let's start with forever."