Edward guides me to the passenger seat of his car, using his most delicate presses and prods to not mess up the flower on my lapel, the tie Charlie took 10 minutes working on, and the blast-back that Alice showed up an hour ago to put together on my head. And on my right leg, a rather nasty looking cast. All the while, he ignores my hard-set mouth and narrow eyes.
Once I'm settled, his chuckling highness gets into the driver's seat and starts down the long, narrow driveway.
"You gonna clue me in, or do I have to start screaming?" I ask, refusing to look at him. I hear him laugh again, his radio clicking on to an indie band Jessica introduced us to. My favorite song by them, actually. Dammit. We both start singing along with my question not being answered.
"You know," I finally say, "if Alice is going to keep using me as a guinea pig, I may just stay at home on the weekends."
"That'd break her heart and you know it." Edward states, knowing absolutely no one can resist Alice's heartbreaking doe's eyes when she begs. "I'm honestly surprised you, Ms. Detective, haven't figured it out yet."
Well, the fact that he's wearing a James Bond worthy tuxedo isn't helping. We don't really go out much, not since we got back to Forks. Too much Charlie making sure I'm still alive and Carlisle making absolutely sure I'm still human. That either of them are letting me out of their sight is too much of a relief for me care about what Edward is planning.
"You look beautiful, if I may say." Edward says as if it's indisputable fact. "Or, rather, dashing. Alice's magic even brought out the little bits of gold in those eyes." I reach over and playfully punch his arm, my wrist, thankfully, much better than it was just a little while ago.
Carlisle says the venom might have sped up my healing. Only time will tell if it'll last.
My cell phone rings, and Edward stares at it. The contact name is different than he might remember. Not "Charlie" — but "Dad". He smiles as I answer the call.
"Hey Pops, what's up?"
"Well, we have a dilly of a pickle here, Bella. You see, a young man by the name of Tyler was hoping to take you to prom tonight, but I told him you're unavailable tonight. Care to uh," a pause, and then the clear crackle of speakerphone, "care to confirm?"
"Tyler, buddy, I'm MIA tonight. I'm sorry, but it's a no-go on that front. You understand, right?"
"I uh ... well, yeah, I do. I just ..."
"Still feeling guilty?" I wager a guess. His uncomfortable whine answers me directly. "You're sweet, Tyler, but it's a no. Don't let that stop your fun!"
"You're right ... maybe Jessica will want to dance again. See you Monday, Bella!"
"Ta-ta. Love you, Dad."
"I love you too, little witch."
We both hang up and Edward instantly starts guffawing. "Oh, be nice!"
"I am being nice, ma belle. I could make fun, but I'd rather laugh. I think it's cute that he cares so much about what you think." A shadow crosses over Edward's features for a flash, and then he's smiling once more.
I work on getting my pant leg to cooperate with the boot protecting my healing bone when I recognize where Edward is slowly leading us. My blood pressure skyrockets, and I feel the red rushing to my cheeks.
"Y-you're taking me to PROM?"
Obvious. So obvious. Charlie's sarcastic little "have fun". Alice obsessing about contour and getting my hair to fall perfectly. Rosalie and Esme taking pictures of the two of us, posing on the stairs and even in front of the fireplace. Emmett and Jasper laughing all the while from the kitchen.
I have to say, denial is one Hell of a drug.
My middle finger meets his sightline, and he sticks out his tongue.
"Oh, don't be difficult."
"Why are you doing this to me? You absolute sadist."
"Honestly, what did you think was happening?" He gestures to his tux. "Formal night at the coffee shop?" He looks at me like I've exposed myself to be the biggest idiot this side of the continent. I fall back into the seat and glare at the road ahead of us.
We're already half-way there.
I feel a tear roll down my face and I groan in frustration.
"... are you really so angry about this?"
"Yes! No? Maybe! You know I can't dance, Edward. And people already talk about us, what message is this going to send?" He shrugs, pulling up into the parking lot. "So calm about this, he is. What a douche."
"Bella," he parks and faces me, the full force of his burning ruby eyes hitting me.
"Humor me," he unbuckles and turns off the radio, stretching with a soft whine. "Please. You may actually enjoy this. One normal experience for the first time this year."
"Alright, fine." I pout, crossing my arms. "I'll go quietly. But you'll see, you'll all see. Even in these flats, I'll probably break my other leg." I hold out my good leg and wiggle it. "What about the others?"
"Emmett's taking Rose, like always, and Alice will be bachelorette-ing it. Jasper doesn't like crowds, so he's probably breaking out the romcoms right about now." He slides out of his seat and goes to my side, where I refuse to even try to get out by myself.
"I can't believe Dad was in on this."
"Believe it, Bella." He reaches in and helps me stand, staying on my weak side as a crutch. "I'm still in awe at your priorities. Someone even mentions dancing..." he shakes his head, and I gulp. "Hey, nothing's going to hurt you tonight. Not even yourself. Let's get in the gym."
In Phoenix, I'd heard of proms in hotel ballrooms. Chandeliers, fancy decor. Here, it's the gymnasium, covered in balloons, streamers, and those weird rainbow lights that dance everywhere madly, painting the students with streaks of color. I limp along beside Edward, taking it all in with quickly drying eyes.
"What is it?"
"I'm keeping an eye out for Carrie is all."
"Ca ..." Edward purses his lips and sighs. "You are addicted to those movies."
Toward the center of the dancefloor, a beautiful couple whirls gracefully. Emmett, his dreadlocks braided down his back, looking stunning in a green and gold velvet tuxedo. And Rosalie, with her pink-kissed hair, looking even more flawless in a vividly — if not violently — scarlet gown, sleeveless and backless. A pair of royals amid teenage gyrations and awkward stumbling.
Off by the snack table, Alice dances in a short flapper dress, black satin a shocking contrast with her ivory skin. She's in heels, moving in ways not even a model could replicate. Honestly, the three of them are sucking at the "passing as human" aspect of it all.
"So many vampires, so little square footage." Edward muses, watching Emmett dip Rosalie.
"Should I bolt the doors? You can massacre the innocents easier that way." He snorts and pulls me closer, his hand starting to shake.
"And where do you fit in this?"
"I'm with the vampires, of course. Anything to get out of dancing."
"Of course," he buys our tickets and turns me toward the dance floor. I dig my heels in. "We have all night you know." I drift, my body starting to tremble, vision doubling.
"E-Edward, I really can't dance!" I cough out, my throat feeling like a desert. He sighs softly and turns me toward him, lifting me so my feet are balancing easily atop his.
"But I can, Bella." He says, raising my hands to meet behind his neck. "Just focus on us, ma belle." And now we're whirling. Waltzing. Dancing. And I'm vertical, in the arms of a freezing young man, who is looking at me with an expression that dubs me his entire world.
My cheeks heat up for an entirely different reason, and I bite my lip.
"I feel five again," I laugh after a while of dancing. "I used to do this on my own, you know. Before I got hurt."
"Maybe you can regain that skill someday. Until then," he pulls me closer, lifting my feet off the ground for just a moment, "I've got you."
Slowly but surely, Edward and I make our way to the other side of the gym, the open doors in sight. They went out of their way to make this beautiful; roses and fairy lights guide the students to a no doubt rented gazebo in the distance.
Edward's head snaps to the side, eyes searching until familiarity relaxes him.
"Alright, then." He sets me down and leads us outside, just beyond the limits of the prescribed path. "She's yours." I stare until a tall, grinning figure emerges, holding a helmet under her arm. Julie Black, in a long-sleeved gray shirt and a striped tie, swaggers toward us with a skip in her step.
"Can I cut in?" She asks, looking between Edward and I. He offers my hand to her, stepping back as we hug, my face pressing into her shoulder. "It's good to see you again, Bells."
"You too, Jules. How's Billy?"
"A lot better now that the nomads are gone. And Carlisle's donated nurse is a massive help for me." She lets out a soft sob and wipes her eyes. "It's weird, not being his caretaker, but so relieving. Like I've lost 200 pounds off my shoulders."
"I'm glad to hear it," I squeeze her arm and she gives her sunniest smile to me. "Are you here to crash the prom?"
"Not exactly... I got paid $20 to come here and talk to you about something." She looks at my leg and helps me balance until we're sitting at a bench. Edward waves to us from the walk and points to the gym. He's giving us real privacy, with the mess of voices and thoughts in the massive room. I mouth a thanks and turn to Julie.
"I uh ... first off, you look awesome." Julie raises both thumbs approvingly. I waggle my head and brush it off. "I'm honestly trading this information for that master cylinder I need. The twenty is the down payment." My suspicions rise and I lean into her.
"Is something wrong?"
Julie looks away, ashamed. "Don't get mad, okay?"
"Just say what you have to, there will be no anger toward anyone."
"Good, good. He says, pretty simply, that you need more human friends. He likes the Cullens, don't get me wrong, he's just… Edward concerns him. A lot." She watches my face for some form of reaction. All I can manage is a barked out laugh, holding my stomach until the wave subsides. Julie, meanwhile, is visibly relieved. "I hoped that's what you'd do."
"I appreciate his concern, Julie. I truly do." I look towards the woods, watching the stars dance in the sky. "Maybe he's right... what are you doing over the summer? You and the other teens? I'll remember to swing by."
"I've got nothing, so!" She claps her hands together and laughs triumphantly. "Perfect! Oh, and if you can, bring Esme? I like her." Her eyes flitter to the sky. "Her muffins, Bella. Heavenly."
"I'll be sure to ask."
"You are awesome. Alright, I'll letcha go, for now." She stands and whistles, Edward appearing at our sides instantly and hugging her tight. "Aww! Leech love!" He almost drops her, the pair trading mocking expressions.
"Are you sticking around?" He asks, taking his own corsage and pinning it to her chest. "Alice is inside, all on her own." Julie glances at the gym for a moment, considering, and shakes her head.
"I should get back home. I borrowed this tie from my uncle, anyway." She tosses her helmet in her hands and slips it on. "You two behave yourselves!"
"Never!" We shout back, Edward watching as she vanishes into the forest. Then he laughs.
"Sam Uley was hiding in the woods. He wanted her to seem mystical, but in reality, they rode his dirt bike."
"Friends supporting friends." He nods in agreement and lifts me back onto the lit path with a gentle plop. "So, how much did you hear?"
"Only the last bit, actually. The word 'human' stuck out amongst the chaos inside there." He sneers and glares at the gym. "Hell is paradise compared to a room full of teenagers." I push him back gently and he laughs. "C'mon, let's keep going."
As we go to the gazebo, we pass by our friends. Jessica and Tyler, arm-in-arm as one looks on in approval, and the other slight betrayal. Respectively. Angela and Eric smile at us, waving wildly and clinging to each other with utter glee in their eyes. A few others pass us by, but none pay as much attention as the others. Our footfalls transition from covered grass to wood, clicking in my ears.
Edward looks up, catching the moonlight in his eyes, and sighs. "Perfect. Twilight again. Another ending, and another beginning." I look up at the full moon, the gossamer clouds and dancing birds breaking her light ever so slightly. Edward's face seems to glow in the pale light, bringing out how sharp and hollow his face really is. His mouth is loose, his eyes soft.
"Thank you. For all of this. The adventure, the thrills. The danger. This," I arch my arm around us. "I wouldn't have even gone to prom if it weren't for you." Admitting this isn't as difficult as I'd imagined. Edward even looks touched at my admission.
"If I have my way, you'll have every human experience in peace. Let you see the world though those curious, wide eyes and with that beating heart." He lays a hand over my shoulder, our eyes still locked on the moon. "I know it's stupid, but I want you to have everything I lost in 1920."
"Even death?" I offer, and his grip tightens on my shirt.
"... if that's what you want, yes."
"You sound like you're considering alternatives already." I snort, looking at him. His eyes are downcast, head angled away from me. "... if I would have survived, would you all have let me turn? Become like you."
"I don't know. I would have wanted to, and Carlisle would have preferred it to letting you die. That's ... that's how he made our family. People dead before their time. But Alice showed me what you said, about how you wouldn't want to be a vampire as a teenager. Another reason for Carlisle to be the one to get the venom out."
"Not because you still drink human blood, but because of hesitance." I draw the conclusion, and his head sinks further down. "For what it's worth, I wouldn't have been mad. I won't lie, becoming a vampire seems absolutely horrific. But at the same time, all the things I could do. Could see. Could learn, experience."
"I wouldn't want this for you, not in a million years."
"Well, good thing it's my choice, not yours." Edward searches my face for something. Whatever he finds, he smiles at it, and he offers his hand. "Another dance?" I take it, watching him pull out a pair of earbuds and giving one tiny speaker each.
He pulls me closer as the song from the radio plays just for us. I lay my cheek on his chest, letting us spin slowly, my eyes drifting shut as the rhythm of our motion and the beat of the song lull me. His voice enters the song, humming the music and singing the lyrics, melting perfectly into the track.
"I never got the chance to thank you, for bringing the sun back into my life. So ... thank you. For ending my midnight." I laugh softly, looking up at him.
"If I am your sun, are you my moon?"
"If you want me to be, then yes." He presses his forehead to mine. Then slowly, surely, his lips meet my cheek. I cling to him, my blush no doubt very visible to him. I don't ask, he won't bring it up. We don't want to ruin this.
In our little bubble, there is no fear. No daylight. No twilight. No divide between our kinds.
Just Bella and Edward. Edward and Bella.
And the little piece of his forever that will always belong to me.