Icy flakes of white fluttered down from the sky, leaving Forks covered in a blanket of snow. Ugh. That meant I wouldn't go out when I had the chance not to. Therefore, Edward kept me company indoors, until, of course, his bloodlust got unbearable and he had to hunt.
While my beloved was gone, Alice usually kept me distracted with her company. But today was one of the rare days of winter when both Alice and Edward were away, Carlisle was at the hospital, and Rosalie occupied Emmett's attention and time. Only Esme and Jasper were left.
Esme is a lot like Renee in quite a few ways and is like a second mother to me. I love her as much as I love every other Cullen with the exception of Rosalie and Edward. I love Edward more than the life itself and as for Rosalie . . . well . . . we don't really get along much. But I don't spend much time with Esme and don't know her as well as everyone else. She's a mother figure, but not someone to keep me company in my boredom.
As for Jasper, his aversion to me was still strong and I tried not to feel too bad about that. I knew it was for my own good because Jasper didn't have complete control of his instincts yet. He did spend time with me, when there was someone else in the around. But no one was.
So I was sitting in Edward's room, wrapped in a blanket with a steaming mug of cocoa in my hands. I gazed around his room for the millionth time, analyzing the vast music collection of his. I was nearing towards the end of the spot dedicated for music from the 1940s when I spotted something on the floor. Carefully, I set the mug down and walked over, curious. Crouching on the floor, I tentatively opened what I now recognized as a photo album, unsure of what to expect.
Filling the first page were photographs in black and white. From when Edward was human and a child.
The first picture, a beautiful young woman cradled a baby in her arms, Edward, I assumed. His eyes were squeezed shut together. She was smiling, loving Edward, caring for him. He was her life, her pride and joy. The corners of my mouth turned up, reveling in Edward's memories.
The next photo showed Edward, only he was more recognizable. He was waddling at age 2, towards . . . something. His hands were outstretched and was taking unsteady steps. This, I thought to myself, was the graceful vampire I know today, only here, he was about to fall on his face. I giggled lightly and grinned to myself. A sharp rap on the door startled me and I jumped up, reflexively. "Come in" I said and Esme walked in. I stood, awkwardly in the center of the room after a few minutes of silence. My cheeks reddened and, impulsively, I attempted to hide my face by looking away quickly.
My eye caught the photo album on the floor and I tried to hide my slight embarrassment. I felt as if I were a peeping tom, spying on someone's personal life. But it was hard to feel ashamed when Jasper's calm and reassurance washed over me. I smiled slightly and called, "Thanks, Jasper!" towards his room. I heard a chuckle and then nothing.
I looked up at Esme's loving eyes as she speculatively peered at me. In her hand was a small pitcher filled with cocoa. "Would you like some more?" She smiled kindly and I grinned back, impishly.
"No thanks, Esme,"
She set the pitcher next to my mug and looked around for a moment. Her eye caught the album in the corner and she looked back at me. I flushed tomato red and I bit down on my bottom lip, ashamed. To my relief, Esme's eyes flitted back down to the album, confused.
She took a couple of steps, closer to the photos. Gracefully, she folded herself in front of it and looked at the photos. I walked behind her and peeked over her shoulder, examining the photographs. She had flipped the page and was laughing, musically. I frowned, confused, and then I saw the picture.
Edward, now five, was sitting on the muddy grass, his hands and face coated in mud and dirt. He was grinning, the crooked smile that I've grown to love. A small giggle escaped my lips and I smiled. Esme scooted over and patted the empty spot next to her. I crossed my legs and sat down as she flipped to the next page.
Edward was 7, sitting in the bathtub, blushing furiously. His hair was filled with suds from the shampoo and water was pooled on the floor. He was frowning and trying to hide in the bathtub. There were soap bubbled, from his waist, down. He looked more like the Edward I knew today. I smiled and glanced at Esme. She was still gazing at the pictures, her eyes filled with love, care, and compassion. A radiating smile spread across her face.
Edward was still 7 and dressed in a suit with his mother and father, Edward senior. He wasn't smiling, but seemed to be thinking of something. His eyes were distant, as if he were a million miles away.
Esme flipped the page and I looked at the photo. Edward was around 14. Leaned over a desk, he was scribbling something down, intently.
In the next photo, Edward's mother, Elizabeth had gotten older. Edward and his mother were hugging and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a hint of sadness in Esme's features. I remembered quickly that Esme had lost her only child. Cautiously, I leaned over and wrapped my arms around her, comfortingly and we sat in silence while my hand patted her gently on her back.
Jasper appeared, suddenly, by Esme's side. Silently, he sent waves of calm over her and spontaneously, she wrapped her arms around both of us and hugged us fiercely. That one hug was filled with a lot of love, the love she would have put in her lost child. Jasper looked in to my eyes, questioningly. I cocked my head pointedly at the album. He looked at the picture and understanding washed over his face.
Hesitantly, Esme flipped the page. The last photo was Edward, 17, asleep in the hospital bed in Chicago. His face looked paler, even though the photos were black and white. Though asleep and dying, his face was peaceful, one of the last looks on his human face. I tore my eyes from the page as my imagination began to run amuck. I began to think of Edward sick, dying, dead, gone. Gone. I sucked in a deep breath as I tried to blink away the oncoming tears. One escaped and slipped down my face.
Then, Edward appeared by my side, back from hunting. Jasper shut the album, sending one last round of calm around the room before he left with Esme. Edward's cool hand brushed against my damp cheeks, and I gazed up in to his butterscotch eyes.
His sweet breath blew in my face and he said just two words. "I'm here." He pulled me in to a hug and I realized his words were true. He was here, he loved me and I loved him.
"I love you," I mumbled in to his shoulder. I pulled back and looked into his soft golden eyes before he pressed his cold lips gently against mine one more time.
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