Epilogue — Happily Ever After
I was doing my best to ease the tension of the room, but I was struggling. There was so much anxiety and uncertainty that even I couldn't combat it all. Edward had left a few minutes ago—Makenna and Eleazar left soon after—and I knew I wasn't alone in thinking that he could well have left us for the last time. He had told Carlisle that he wouldn't go to Italy to seek death, but I knew how fast a decision could be changed, how fast things slipped out of control; Bella's doomed birthday party was evidence of that. He could even now be seeking death. It didn't need to be The Volturi. There were a pack of murderous wolves a few minutes run away. They would be more than happy to end Edward's life, just as they had Bella's.
My hands fisted on my lap and Alice took them and uncurled my fingers. "It's okay, Jazz," she said softly.
Emmett, who had been sitting with his head bowed and his hands between his knees, looked up. "You know that for sure?" he asked.
"No," Alice said. "But I trust my brother. He would not betray Carlisle that way."
"Could you look anyway," Esme asked softly, her despair clear to us all. "Just make sure that he'll come back."
Alice smiled. "Of course." Her eyes slipped closed and I felt her emotional tenor change as she searched. "He's… Oh!" Her eyes snapped open and she covered her face with her hands.
"What, Alice?" Emmett demanded, already on his feet and making for the door.
"Emmett, stop!" she shouted, and we all froze, Emmett with his fingers curled around the door handle. "He's okay. He'll come back. But you can't go to him."
"Why not?" Rosalie asked, her arms folded across her chest. Her eyes narrowed. "What did you see, Alice?"
Alice shook her head, her expression a mask. "I can't tell you, but I ask you to trust me. He will come back soon. Just give… him… a little longer."
Her expression may have been a mask, but she could not conceal her emotions from me. She was elated, exhilarated even. I didn't understand. What could she have possibly seen that would make her this happy? She looked at me and her joy was there in the brightness of her eyes. That emotion had been out of my life for so long, it felt wrong to feel it now. The last time I saw Alice so happy was the day of Bella's birthday—as she had been preparing the house for the party. She had been so happy then, ready to celebrate her best friend. It had all gone wrong after that. She had not despaired after we left Forks. She had been confident that we would return soon and that had sustained her, though she missed her friend. I had never felt Alice despair before, not until the vision of Bella and Victoria. That had changed her. Her smile had become a thing of memory and the light in her eyes had been extinguished.
"Do we need to be concerned?" Carlisle asked her.
"No," she said quickly. "He will come back and he will be safe. I promise."
"You sure?" Rose asked dully. "You've been wrong before, remember."
I expected Alice to flinch, to be upset, but she merely shook her head patiently and smiled slightly. "You'll see."
An idea came to me, an explanation and a burning hope combined into one. Was it possible…? Could she be…? It made no sense. Alice had seen her die. But her happiness now made no sense either.
"Come upstairs with me, Alice," I said.
She nodded and we got to our feet. I felt the eyes of the others on us as we walked up the stairs, but I didn't turn back. When we got to our room, I flipped on the radio to cover our voices, though I didn't think anyone would be attempting to listen to us now. We all respected privacy.
Alice turned to me and whispered. "You know, don't you?"
"Am I right?" I breathed. "Is she…?"
Alice nodded enthusiastically. "She was changed!"
I swept her up into my arms and spun her around. I was elated for myself, not just in reaction to Alice's happiness. Bella was alive. I didn't know how this could have happened, but I was beyond glad it had. My brother would be healed by this. Our family would be made whole again.
She was alive.
As eager as we were to see them both, we had to wait for them to come to us. It was almost a full hour later that Alice stood and held out a hand to me. "It's time."
I had almost forgotten that the rest of the family didn't know what we knew. They were still stressed and sad. Stepping into the room, I felt like I was at a funeral, such was the emotional tenor of the place. I schooled my face into a blank mask.
"He'll be here soon," Alice said.
Esme smiled slightly. "That's good. He needs to be home."
"Yeah," Emmett said dourly. "Home."
I felt the seconds tick past, creeping towards the moment of their return. I anticipated seeing her again. How would she look? How would she feel? She had to be happy to be with Edward, but the question remained of why she hadn't come back sooner? Months had passed since that vision. What had she been doing in that time?
Then I heard them coming, through the noise of cars of the road and the ambient sounds of the forest, I heard two sets of feet whispering against the bracken. I took Alice's hand and gave it a brief squeeze. She smiled and then flitted to the door. She had just pulled it open when Edward appeared on the threshold. He was trying to control his expression, but he couldn't hide how he was feeling. I had felt Alice's exhilaration, but that was nothing compared to him. He was alive with the feeling, made new.
"Edward," Carlisle said, concerned. "Are you okay?"
Edward nodded and stepped aside. He looked askance for a moment and whispered, "Come on, love."
And then she was there. She stepped into view, golden-eyed, beautiful, and smiling fit to bust, Bella was there.
There was an explosion of noise as people shouted and gasped and exclaimed their shock. The emotions rolled over me: surprise, wonder, happiness and relief.
"Bella!" Emmett roared, charging forward and sweeping her into his arms. He spun her around, and her laughs echoed through the room.
"I don't… What…? How…?" Carlisle was insensible with shock.
Bella looked around and smiled shyly. "Hey."
Esme was the next on her feet. She flitted towards Bella and threw her arms around her. Bella returned the embrace, and I felt her overwhelming happiness. She was passed from Esme to Carlisle, who pressed a kiss to her hair and whispered a prayer of thanks.
Then Alice and Bella's eyes met and they moved forward as one, meeting in the middle with arms thrown around each other, and they were both talking, apologizing and sharing their grief at the other's absence and happiness at their reunion.
Edward watched them for a moment, smiling widely, and then he stepped forward and laid a hand on Bella's arm, as if he couldn't bear to be without her touch. Alice and Bella broke apart and they both smiled fondly at him.
"How did this happen?" Carlisle asked. "Why didn't we know?"
Before either could answer him, the back door opened and Eleazar and Makenna came inside. Eleazar looked stunned as he looked at Bella, as if not sure what he was seeing was real. He looked on the verge of speaking, but Edward spoke up first. "Eleazar, Makenna, this is my Bella."
Bella looked to Makenna, and there was intense happiness in her. "Thank you," she said fervently. "Thank you for what you did. You made my life what it is."
"No," Edward said. "You made our life what it is."
Makenna smiled slightly. "I do not understand how this happened, the rules are absolute, but I am very happy to meet you, Bella."
Eleazar was still watching Bella with the look of confused awe. "What are you?" he asked.
"That," Bella said, "is a long story."
"We have forever to tell it," Edward said.
Bella closed her eyes for a moment, seeming to absorb his words, and then she nodded. "Forever."
As I sat and listened to their tale, a story of vengeance and peril and werewolves and time travel and gifts, I enveloped myself in the happiness around me, and thought that this was a good place for us all to start our forever—as a family at last.
This story would never have been started without Snarkymuch, Mary-Alice-Brandon-Cullen, Verseseven, IamTheAlleyCat, Augustmoon, Lacrimosa Moon, DutchGirl01, and Gredelina1. In the years that passed between starting and finishing there was one person that stuck with me and made sure it never left my thoughts completely. Gredelina1. If you enjoyed the story, you need to thank her because she's the one that made it happen.
New story: I am only on the second chapter, but I am writing a new Twilight story for NaNoWriMo. It's a new paring for me — Carlisle/Bella. If you're interested in reading, add me to alerts.