A/N: Thank you so much for all your wonderful thoughts. Please read the A/N at the end if you have any questions. I've now hit 'Complete' on this one!
Betad by the lovely Michelle Renker Rhodes. (All remaining mistakes are mine).
Most characters belong to S. Meyer. The rest is mine.
Epilogue – Edward Cullen
June 2167 A.D.
Your transport arrived at the Port of Seattle today.
As it flew over the Puget Sound's deep blue waters, I sat in the Space Needle's café among the crowds of people gathered to watch today's celebrations. When the transport touched ground, everyone clapped except me. My hands were too jittery to clap, and my heart pounded too fast, faster than it has in…well, in a long while.
You're twenty-seven years old now. Technically, you're a year older than me - technically. When you left right after graduating college five years ago, I wasn't surprised. The part of your soul which has always thrived when leading and serving is obviously still in full effect.
I've wondered what you felt when you left behind that girl, Jayne, whom you'd dated throughout your last year of college. From the beginning of the relationship, you warned her that you'd be leaving, so she wouldn't be hurt by your departure. More than once, she assured you she was fine with it.
But the day you left, she cried. I watched her weeping as your flight took off, staring after the craft as if she realized she should've said more while she still had time. I suppose at that moment, I felt somewhat sorry for her. After all, I know what losing you is like, and I know the feeling of wishing I hadn't wasted precious time.
It's a clear day today, so clear that the snow-capped peak of Mount Rainier is strikingly visible way in the distance. Its majestic prominence has everyone all the more excited about the upcoming celebration. Nevertheless, as I sit here at the café preparing myself, a few clouds roll in, hovering just behind Rainier.
I suppose I'm anxious. I wonder if you're ready for me. Perhaps I should've approached you before you left – not before you started college, no. You were still too young then. But perhaps when you'd lived some more, when you were older and wiser, as they still say.
Yet, you've always ached to break free, to be the kind of man inherent within you. I could see it in every move and every decision you made. What would you have thought had I told you before you left who you were, had I told you that your soul belonged to me and mine to you?
What will you think of everything now?
What will you think of me? How long will it take you to recognize me? And once you do recognize me, how long will it take for you to love me?
Will you love me?
God, I wonder if these thoughts and doubts plagued you when it was the other way around; when you found me. I didn't make it easy for you, I know. It took me a while to recall everything, for my anamnesis to completely take hold. In the meantime, you were so patient.
I hope I can be just as patient with you. Although, even in the reverse situation, you were more considerate than me. You waited almost one thousand years for my return. I've waited one hundred and fifty years for yours. And no, I won't deny I'm thrilled my wait wasn't as long as yours. Nevertheless, we still have challenges ahead of us.
No, not challenges related to the werewolves. Werewolves and shifters no longer exist. They've been extinct from this world for one hundred and fifty years now; although, their myths and legends remain. The most popular story originated as a way to explain the inexplicable events which occurred on the day of the 2017 summer solstice.
According to the myth, the father of all werewolves and shifters – Garwalf, as he's known in popular culture – was the one responsible for the eruption of Mount Rainier. There are a few variations to the tale, but they all revolve around hundreds of thousands of werewolves exploding out of the mountain after being summoned by Garwalf. According to myth, this is what caused the massive eruption.
An innocent pair of lovers happened to be in the area during the eruption. When the quick-moving magma consumed and killed her lover, and as the region panicked and prepared for the same fate, the grieving woman raised her hands to the sky and took control of nature, reversing the flow.
Then, consumed with fury, the beautiful woman named Belnatura, who's now as famous throughout the world as are Garwalf and Count Dracula, lifted every single werewolf, including Garwalf, in midair and flung them all into the mountain's crater before its peak closed.
Creatively inventive, yes, but so wrong. However, as a highly intelligent student of mine once pointed out, creative tales evolve from something original and true which first sparks the imagination. That is the stuff of legend.
Of course, scientists quickly arrived at a logical explanation for the events, so all the above is merely a folk tale told for entertainment, a way to sell hologramized images of books and movies.
The world has been calmer, if not necessarily peaceful since Jakob and his minions were eradicated. Vampires, while not entirely extinct, are even fewer in number than they were when you were one. But, by nature, vampires have always been more intelligent creatures. Nevertheless, after our agreement, the Gypsy no longer creates them.
I've written about him in this journal – of the other Beautiful One, Jakob's immortal brother. Rena knew him as Gar, her gypsy gladiator. In the Middle Ages, we knew him as Geraud, Norman friend of Lord Karles and Lord Jakob.
One hundred and fifty years ago, I vaguely knew him as Garrett, Kate's husband, whom I never actually met until after her death. Before then, whenever I visited her, he was always busy at work.
It was about a year after losing you that I first met him.
At the time, my stepdad and I were in hiding in one of a chain of volcanic islands in the deep, northern Pacific. Temperately even colder and rainier than the northern mainland, the islands' flora was limited to a dense growth of shrubbery with few, relatively short trees. I know, it sounds like a strange place to go into hiding when you're a grieving sorceress with a habit of expressing your pain through volcanic eruptions. But losing you, or more accurately, knowing the sacrifice you made for me, was the last catalyst I needed to finally learn control.
Anyway, one afternoon, I was walking amidst the thick shrubbery. As I walked, the path flourished with the type of trees and flora I would've found back in Seattle. They gave me a small sense of home at a time when I felt extremely lost. As I stood under a cherry-blossom tree with my face up to the sky attempting to absorb a modicum of heat, my hands tingled in a way they hadn't in over a year.
At first, his pale skin, a total contrast to his brother's ebony skin, blended with the ivory background. Yet his glowing blue eyes gave him away. He watched me warily, and when I dug my hands into my pockets, he made his way from behind the snow-packed trees.
"You're about a year too late," I said. "but you never had any intention of participating, did you?"
He shrugged his broad shoulders. "We were never meant to interfere in mortal affairs. It was why we were punished in the first place."
"Really?" I snorted. "From the beginning, it was all a game, an intense rivalry. Isba preferred him, so you refused to help him with Elisheba. He married Rena, so you took her as your lover."
"You've pieced quite a bit together," he grinned, the sparkles surrounding him dancing.
"I've had nothing but time lately. Then came Bellaria…me. You sat there, with Lord Karles and your brother, Jakob, and you watched them kill me and my unborn child."
"I was allowing Rena's prophecy to take hold. I loved Rena," he said.
I held his gaze. "I've come to further conclusions."
"Oh? Such as?"
"Such as that all Beautiful Ones were intelligent, exquisite, and beguiling creatures…yet completely heartless and self-serving."
"That is why your kind was taken from the Earth, not because you fell in love with mortals. You claim you loved Rena, yet when Jakob discovered she was sleeping with you, that her child was yours, you abandoned her. She awoke, and you were no longer at her side."
"I kept the child safe," he stressed. "I hid Sabella and her descendants from him for as long as possible."
"Yet, you allowed them to kill me, a descendant of the mortal woman you claim you once loved. It's a good thing some sixth sense warned Rena never to tell you of Rosalia, of your other daughter."
"Bellaria, I did not completely abandon you," he grinned. "I turned your brother, whom then turned your friend and your son of the mason, all to protect you."
"All part of your game," I said impassively, "as was marrying Kate…Cateline, and whispering the truth about her previous life to her in bits and pieces."
He chuckled, shaking his head. "Bellaria, you won! We won! I don't see why you're upset. I gave you enough so that in the end, you – Rena's descendant, my descendant – could carry the final battle! Yes," he sighed, "you lost the son of the mason once again, but immortality does not equal eternity. Nothing lasts forever. You now know of your own immortality, and you will see that as the years, the decades, and the centuries pass, perpetuity becomes tedious. We immortals seek diversions, that is all."
For a long while, we remained locked in one another's gaze.
"Why are you really here?"
"I wanted to meet you face to face."
I shook my head slowly. "No. No, I think it's simply as you said: you're bored. It seems you've been bored for millennia."
He didn't finish his thought before the skies suddenly rumbled and the constant cloud cover darkened. In the near distance, one of the many volcanoes forming the Pacific's Ring of Fire came to life.
Gar's eyes widened. "It was merely a diversion, Bellaria."
A stream of magma burst into the air, but this stream didn't slide down the mountain slope. It traveled like a lightning bolt through the dark skies, heading straight for Gar.
He threw up his hands and halted the bolt. And after an evident breath of relief, he looked at me and grinned.
"Bellaria, I did not come to fight."
Hands still in my pockets, I turned my gaze to the bolt of molten magma: thick, wide, and glowing. When it pitched forward, Gar struggled to stop it, his fingers straining as he fell to the ground and lifted his hands over his head as useless protection.
"Bellaria, no! NO!"
A couple of inches from his blond head of hair, I stopped the flow.
Laying prone on the ground, his breaths came hard and fast.
"Immortality does not equal eternity," I echoed. "I don't want to fight, either. I'm tired of fighting." As I spoke, the magma bolt surged back toward the volcano's peak. "We humans are not your diversion. We were not set on this Earth for your amusement through complex games or for you to love at whim. If you're bored with your immortality, then I can easily solve that problem for you."
"Or…you can find other ways to divert and amuse yourself. The world is an ever-changing and complicated place, and as I was taught by three of the best men to ever walk this earth," I choked, "there is always something new to learn. It's full of true amusements for those brave and adventurous enough to seek them. It's a never-ending fountain of knowledge for those with a true appetite of the mind, and…it does contain true, eternal love for those with the capacity to feel it. I won't end your existence."
He let out a long, ragged breath.
"Despite your less than altruistic reasons, you did return my brother, my friend, and my husband to me, and for that alone, I'll spare you…for now," I qualified, "for as long as I'm assured that you're not using us as a way to pass your existence."
I haven't seen him since, but his visit did teach me something. I realized that it was time to stop hiding, to stop regretting, to stop wasting the gift you – as well as my brother and my friend – preserved for me. The gift of life.
Anyway, I don't want to waste any more of today's passage on Gar. There's much more regarding him in the journal I've kept for you if you ever want to read it.
Yes, I've written it all down for you, from our beginning as Lady Bellaria of House Swein and Sir Edward, Son of the Mason, to now. Writing it down was my stepdad's – Carlisle Cullen's – idea. I hope it'll make it easier for you to understand…to believe, even though I've never written as well as you. I'm afraid my account may read more like a cheap romance novel than like a work of genius, as your Verse for Bellaria still does. Regardless, I hope you won't dismiss it all offhand as a work of fiction.
As for my stepdad, he passed away twenty years ago at the age of one hundred and eighty-two – an unnaturally-long lifespan even in this day and age when humans regularly live to be centenarians. He kept me company for a long time. We soon discovered that, as the years passed and I preserved my youth, his was preserved as well. When we separated for a few years to follow separate interests, he aged - not too much, but enough for us to realize that it was his proximity to me which kept him young.
It's been by this process of accidental trial and error, of chance experimentation through which I've discovered and learned to control so much of my gift. Unfortunately, as much as my ancestors handed down to me, they failed to hand down any book or instruction manual for my gifts.
But these are things we can discuss later as well.
It was during this separation I've just mentioned that Carlisle met Elizabeth. I won't go into their story too deeply either because much of Elizabeth and her ancestry is detailed in the journal. I'll only say that it's strange how the vagaries of life and nature work. Those who are meant to find one another, do. My mother, Esme, found Carlisle because she was always meant to find him. Yet, he created the rest of his destiny with her. He could have turned us away, but instead, he chose to love us.
I remained part of Carlisle and Elizabeth's lives for about two decades after their marriage. They had two children, whom throughout their first years knew me as their older sister. But, as they got older, and I failed to age, my visits to them stopped. It wasn't easy to say goodbye to the man who'd been my father for so long, but it was something else of which you'd once warned me:
…to keep our immortal existence hidden, we are forced to learn to perpetually adapt to and then just as easily dispel with changing ways of life…
So, before I end this entry (which has gone on much longer than it should've because I'm terrified of setting down the finger-pen), I'll share a passage with you from one of the last letters I received from my stepdad:
Our great-great-grandson is seven years old now. He's a handsome young boy, Bella, intelligent and kind. But he drives his mother crazy with his adventurous spirit and imagination. He says he wants to marry a beautiful medieval maiden when he grows up. He says he wants to climb a volcano and slay Garwalf.
Look after my family when I'm gone, Bella. Keep an eye on them from afar. And when my great-great-grandson, when…Edward is old enough, look for him.
I have always, and I will always love you, my little girl.
The old transport has been turned into a museum for the day's activities.
Walking through its gray halls studying all different types of artifacts from that day, I discover varied sized rocks which were once lava before the magma abruptly hardened. Next to the rocks are jagged pieces of glass from a storefront whose large window shattered upon Mount Rainier's eruption. There's a cast of a mangled twenty-first-century bike which was caught in the flow. Now, it's forever preserved by hardened ash.
When I enter the Discussion Room, the walls contain pictures turned into hologram images of the volcano's eruption, and of people casting their eyes upward in horror. In a corner, 4Ds of eyewitness accounts are surrounded by a group of teenagers asking the VRs so many questions that the simulated images can't keep up.
"They're going to overload their systems."
The voice behind me sounds amused despite the prediction. My heart races madly, hands clenching and unclenching at my sides.
"It's probably a good thing," he chuckles quietly, his warm breath close to my neck, "otherwise, my discussion might sound redundant."
With a long, deep breath, I turn around.
You're wearing the lopsided smile I heard in your voice, the one I see in my dreams. Tall and heartbreakingly handsome in your officer's uniform, your hazel green eyes are warm and friendly.
All those years ago, how did you control yourself? How did you keep yourself from rushing me, from crushing me against your chest, from grabbing my face and kissing me wildly?
I don't know if I'll be able to keep myself from doing those things.
And here's something else you were right about: It's not even the fact that you're physically almost exactly the same. My heart, my blood, my very soul all react to you as if they're trying to escape my body to crawl into yours.
You wait for me to say something, to make some response to your quip. When five seconds become ten, your smooth forehead wrinkles.
"Uhm…I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
"No, I'm sure it won't be redundant. There's always something new to learn. I know in today's age, 4Ds are believed as effective if not more so than an actual person, but I think that for some forums, you still can't beat a real human."
You chuckle again, crossing your arms against your chest. "I tend to agree. It's not the most popular opinion among our age group," you wave a finger between us, "we, who've grown up with 4Ds. But as evidenced by the fact that I'll be holding a live discussion in a couple of minutes, I don't believe 4Ds will ever completely replace us."
I can't help staring at you even though it obviously makes you uncomfortable because you clear your throat.
"Are you from the Seattle area or are you just visiting for the celebrations?"
"I'm from around here," I say.
"So am I, originally," you volunteer with a smile when I fail to expand. "Were any of your family in the area when the eruption occurred?"
"Yes," I breathe. "Yes, I had family around."
Again, you wait for me to expand, but my throat is dry, and what I do manage to say comes out so shakily I'm afraid I may scare you away. Of course, my current strategy of silent staring most likely isn't a great one either.
Still, you push on. "Yes, I had family here at the time as well - my great-great-great grandfather, I believe," you chuckle. "My parents used to tell me stories he told them."
"Is that what first sparked your interest in volcanology?"
Your brows furrow in bemusement. "How do you know I'm a volcanologist?"
I point toward the podium on the other side of the room. "They just announced you." I lean in a bit and whisper, "And the crowd is looking at you expectantly."
You turn your head, and when you turn back to me, you're actually blushing.
"I'd better go then," you chuckle quietly. "I hope you're planning to stay for the discussion? I promise I'll keep the next half hour as interesting as possible. You may even learn something new." You quirk an eyebrow.
I swallow thickly and smile. "Yes. Yes, of course, I'll stay."
Despite your concern regarding redundancy, the Discussion Room is packed. Men and women of all ages are riveted as you speak. Afterward, they hurl question after question your way.
You not only discuss MR '17 – as the Mount Rainier Eruption of 2017 is now known – in scientific terms, but you mix in Mount Rainier's history, the tribal legends on volcanoes that have surrounded the Pacific Ring of Fire for centuries…and you speak of the legend of Garwalf, Belnatura, and her nameless lover.
"Why is there no name for Belnatura's lover?" a teenaged girl asks during the question and answer session. "Why are Garwalf and Belnatura so famous, yet no one ever bothers with the man who died?"
You walk closer to the girl, standing before her with a smile. Your military uniform is perfectly pressed and official, yet your stance is relaxed and inviting.
"We have no name for Belnatura's lover because he's insignificant to the legend. He's simply a place holder for loss, an excuse for the continuing struggle between the representations of good versus evil. Garwalf represents pure evil, whereas Belnatura represents us, the common human trying to exist yet faced with daily-"
"While I agree that Garwalf was pure evil, I completely disagree with the statement that Belnatura's lover was insignificant to the legend."
Slowly, you swivel toward me with a smile despite the fact that I've interrupted you with my opposing view. Then, you nod in a gesture for me to continue.
"Belnatura's lover was the most important of the three."
Now you lift your brows high. "Can you please elaborate on that thought, Miss…?"
"Masen," I say. "Bellaria Masen."
"Bell-aria," you repeat, and my pulse quickens, "please continue."
"Belnatura's lover is the true hero of the story, but like all true heroes, he sacrificed himself so she could live, so she could go on, and so that her name would be the stuff of legend. All the while, everything she did that day, she did for him. She wasn't trying to save the world. She just wanted him. Yet she's immortalized as this great hero when he's the one who gave her the strength to prevail in the first place."
You hold my gaze, your eyes narrowed in apparent thought and consideration of this information.
"I suppose that's a different way to look at things, but it doesn't say much for either of their reasons. If all they were trying to do was save one another, it doesn't make for much of a heroic legend."
"Why not?" I challenge. "Why must every act of heroism nowadays be on a grand scale? Why can't it just be about…love?"
The entire room is silent.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to veer the topic so off course."
You clear your throat. "That's fine…Bell-aria. Thank you for your views."
You continue with your discussion.
When the discussion ends, the room clears except for a few people at the opposite corner interacting with the 4Ds. In my periphery, I see you approaching. I'm so keyed up that I drop my small holobook as I rise from my chair.
You pick it up and hand it to me.
"No problem…Bellaria. I'm sorry, may I call you Bellaria?"
"Of course. It's my name," I smile.
"Please, call me Edward."
I draw in a deep breath, releasing it along with your name. "Edward."
Again, your brows knit together. Then, your gaze falls to my holobook.
"You don't see too many people with those anymore," you grin.
"I guess I'm from another era."
"Well, you've preserved yourself well," you chuckle.
Yes, you're just teasing, so I withhold my snort.
"Edward," I say, hoping you don't note how my voice quivers on your name, "I apologize if my comments earlier interfered with your planned discussion."
"Please, Bellaria, don't apologize. I vaguely recall being told once that discussions are meant for meaningful discourse."
My heart stutters. "Do you recall who may have said that?"
"No," you say, smiling and shrugging. "It's just something I heard somewhere."
I swallow back the lump in my throat.
"Bellaria, I'm actually done with my lectures for the day, and I was wondering if you'd like to grab a cup of coffee or something?" You look nervous as if you're unsure of what my response will be. "If you have time, and if you're interested, I'd love to discuss MR '17 with you in further detail."
As soon as you're done with your proposal, you chuckle self-consciously, raking a hand through your dark copper hair. "And that was probably the worst offer you've ever received. Would you like to further discuss MR '17?" you repeat, mocking yourself.
"No, it definitely isn't the worst offer," I reply.
"It's just that in all my years as a volcanologist specializing in MR '17, whenever the myth around it has come up in conversation, no one's ever championed the unnamed lover in the Legend of Belnatura with such conviction." You shrug sheepishly. "It kind of piqued my interest."
"If no one's ever championed him, then that's a true shame," I say softly, "because he was...amazing. And I would love to discuss him, and the legend, further with you."
You swallow, and your Adam's Apple bobs before you gesture with your hand. "Then, may we?"
As we make our way through the transport, you tell me more about the craft. It's obvious you're proud of its history.
"It's been overhauled and refitted a few times. In its day and age, however, it was very modern despite the fact that back then, it only traveled on water. It was actually one of the first to respond on MR '17, ready to help the citizens of Seattle in the face of what everyone must've thought was an impending apocalypse."
"But no one actually died," I say, reminding myself as much as I'm reminding you.
"No, there were no recorded fatalities due to the eruption itself, but there was a SWAT team responding to an incident in the Cascades the night before the eruption. It's widely believed that the entire team was caught in some sort of pre-eruption event, as they were never seen or heard from again. As a matter of fact, there were thousands of people who disappeared in the days and hours before the catastrophic event. Nowadays, we believe most of their disappearances can be attributed to pre-eruption events around the world."
I keep my gaze front and center as you eagerly continue.
"The science of the early twenty-first century hadn't yet developed the Theory of Heat Holes, but today, we think that heat holes may have opened underground in the hours, even days before the eruption, swallowing these people. Then, the earth simply closed around them."
"Yes, I've heard that theory taught at the university."
We walk from the transport, and you lead me down the walkway with your hand on the small of my back. The heat that flows from your hand into my body is almost overwhelming, and I wonder if you feel even a hint of it.
"Which university do you attend?"
"I'm a professor of Medieval Literature at UDub."
You side eye me, nodding. "You must be a great professor if they haven't replaced you with a 4D."
"I don't know if I'm great, but I've always had an unquenchable interest in the period."
"I understand the feeling," you murmur as we walk along the waterfront. The sun is higher and brighter in the sky than I've seen it in a while, and you seem to notice it too. "It's going to be a great solstice today."
"I sure hope so," I whisper.
You take my hand as we cross the street, gently guiding me away from imaginary danger, and my heart clenches.
Again, you clear your throat. "There was some crazy stuff that went down at UDub around the same time as MR '17. I wonder if you've heard of it."
"I have heard stories, yes."
We stroll through the park, where the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom.
"Some of my colleagues believe those events could've been tied to the eruption as well. The volcano's volatility may have caused instability in the earth, which in turn may have led to a stressful environment and-"
"Edward, are you home to stay or do you plan to continue traveling with the military?"
Again, you side eye me, narrowing your eyes once more. "I'm done with the military. This trip back is actually my trip to stay. I've felt…a calling, you might say, to return home."
I stop and look at you, unable to hold back the question bubbling. We're under one of the trees, and the petals fall around you, framing you like a vision from my dreams.
I don't have your self-control.
"Why were you gone for so long, Edward?" I ask.
Your head jerks back, obviously startled by the question. You haven't let go of my hand. Now, you reach with your other arm and place your hand lightly on my forearm. You hold my gaze, your eyes displaying all your confusion, yet you remain open with me.
"You're very direct with your questions." When I say nothing, you sigh and cast your gaze beyond me. "I think…I was searching for something."
"Did you find what you were searching for?"
You return you beautiful green gaze to me, tilting your head sideways, studying me. The sun plays with the copper in your hair. Then you draw in a deep breath and release it slowly.
"Bellaria. Your name means…beautiful song."
My heart jumps.
"I found some things, but no, Bellaria, not everything."
My hands tingle, and as I clench and unclench them, your gaze falls on them and you frown.
"Why are you nervous?"
"What makes you think I'm nervous?"
"Your fingers…" You take both of my hands now, weaving our fingers together. My heart slams against my ribcage in its effort to break free…to go home.
"Bell-Bellaria, I want to tell you something, but I don't want to scare you away." You chuckle nervously.
"Trust me, I don't scare easily."
Your gaze sears into mine as you swallow. "Here's the thing. I…have dreamed of you all my life."
I choke back a sob, yet you bravely keep going.
"I've seen you as a highborn maiden and myself as a knight." Again, your cheeks grow crimson. "I saw you laughing and running in fields of lavender. I saw you and I helping others, clothing and feeding them. I saw you with two other men who were our friends, our brothers. Then…" you frown deeply, "I saw you killed, and I saw myself become…a vampire," you breathe.
You stop there, while my tears flow freely.
"Am I frightening you?" you whisper.
"No," I smile. "No, not at all. Go on."
You inhale and exhale through narrowed lips, your grip tightening.
"In my dreams, I waited for you, and you returned to me. You sat under a tree at the university, a tree just like this one, and you smiled and laughed. You made the trees bloom. Then…" your gaze flashes momentarily behind me and toward Mount Rainier, "we were on that mountain, and you cried over me and said you'd wait."
"I did," I choke. "I waited."
Your beautiful eyes widen, and you cup my cheek in your warm hand. "Bellaria," you breathe in amazement. "Bella."
I drop my head as a sob tears through me.
"I thought they were all dreams, but now…" With your thumb gently on my chin, you lift my eyes back to yours and move in closer, your chest to my chest.
"Now…?" I dare ask.
"I have loved you since I was a man old enough to know what love means. And I think…" You tilt your head closer, breath to breath. "I think you love me too. I think you have been waiting for me. Either that or I'm insane," you smile.
I can't help chuckling. "You're not insane." Giving in to my overwhelming need, I reach up and touch your face, stubbly with some hair-growth...and nothing more. Your eyes close as your breath hitches. "I was afraid you wouldn't know me," I say in a strangled whisper, "but I should've known better. You've always been the best, the most human part of me."
"Bella…" You reopen your eyes, and now I clearly see the reverent adoration in them. It's a reflection of what's in my gaze.
"Bella," you repeat over and over. "Bella…" Then, you smile. "Bellaria, your name is a beautiful song, and I shall sing unceasingly your worship on my tongue."
"As choruses unbound," I reply, "as melodies resound through space and time…"
"So endures this love of mine. Bellaria, my heart, my soul."
"If ever you wonder how long this worship stays, know now it remains yours…"
"As always…" you say.
I close my eyes as your lips find mine, and after one hundred and fifty years, I'm home.
Yes, we loved and we lost.
We loved and we found and then we lost again.
Yet in between, we gained friends, family, brothers, and sisters. Most of them are in their own eternity with their own loved ones now. I will always miss them, but they deserve their own forever.
And as your mouth moves with mine, as you breathe your life into me once more, I see our forever, the one I've held on to throughout all these years – the one that's been my anchor.
I see us making love this evening, reconnecting, our breaths mingling. I hear our cries, our whispers of old vows, and our promises of new ones.
I see myself staring at my reflection in the mirror, no longer seeing a jealous, young woman from the middle ages. Instead, I see you standing behind me with your hands wrapped around my growing midsection.
I see a wedding, and a house, and laughter, and tears, and all those events which make up a full life, a full existence.
But now, you pull me into your arms, and in your embrace, I see that vision I first saw on that mountain many years ago. Yet now, it replays itself much more clearly.
I see you walking toward me with a young boy who looks just like you. And when you drop to one knee, wrap an arm around his shoulder and point, I see your mouth move, and I hear your words:
"EJ, there's Mommy. Let's go get her home. The baby in her belly is probably kicking up a storm."
I see the wonder and excitement in our son's – in Emmett Jasper Cullen's – small face.
Did the women in my bloodline see what would be or were their visions simply possibilities existing within our fates?
I still don't know. I don't know if I'll ever have the answer to that. But I know one thing: the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
So, I won't treat our future as a curse or even as fate.
I squeeze my eyes and my hands, and I return the gift I was handed down – perhaps just for a while, perhaps forever. Now is time for the present. You and I will decide our future together.
Pulling away only enough to meet your gaze, I look up at you and smile.
My Edward. My immortal love.
"For always, Edward," I say, completing our verse. "For always."
A few housekeeping items first:
1. I have a board on Pinterest of pics/artwork/banners, etc. which kept me inspired throughout the story. I had to pin it as "Secret" for a while because some of the pics would've given too much away. But now, we're done. :)
2. I will post a playlist of the music that kept me inspired for this story on my 'Stories by PattyRose' Facebook page.
3. I plan to post a "Family Tree" of Bellaria's ancestors/family on the above-mentioned Facebook page. Keep an eye out for that if you're interested.
4. Later today, around noon EST, I'm hosting a Q&A session on that same Facebook page or on my Twitter account, in case you guys have any remaining questions/comments. If you're not on either of those platforms and have questions/comments, PM me. And you can ask questions at any time now, even if you're not ready at noon.
Most importantly, thank you so much, guys, for joining me as I romped through a pretty dark part of my mind. I know some of you had a hard time, but thanks for sticking with it. And if you couldn't stick with it, that's fine as well. Everyone has different tastes.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Facebook: Stories by PattyRose