"So…are you going to tell me where we are now?"
"Bella, love, I thought you would have guessed…we're in a hotel room." I groaned inwardly and rolled my eyes at Edward's grin. That much was obvious from the wallpaper and bedspread. The clock on the bedside table read seven o'clock in the dim light. Only one of the lamps was on, and Edward hadn't seen fit to open the curtains yet.
"Yes, but what I meant was that I don't see why you booked a four hour private jet—which was unnecessary, by the way—," I glared at him, "—on a Sunday afternoon; refused to let me look out the window; blindfold me once we landed; give me ear plugs as long as we were in the airport; taken a taxi through unbelievable traffic; and then still have to walk three blocks to our hotel just so that we could be in a hotel room together without any luggage… Unless you've changed your mind," I added hopefully. It was his turn to roll his eyes.
"Of course not," he chided me. "But let's open the window now." I folded my arms in frustration but walked over to the window with him when he pulled open the curtains. My mouth fell open at the scene below us. We were high above an immense divided avenue lined with oak trees and European 19th century houses. The neutral ground and opposing sidewalk were covered with chairs, ladders with strange seats on top of them, some barbeque grills and even a couple of tents. Families and friends talked while kids played in the streets. Everything was lit up and the noise and the size of the crowd were incredible. I recognized the scene nearly instantly from a project I had done in Phoenix.
"You took me to New Orleans?" I yelped. "At Mardi Gras?"
"St. Charles Avenue, to be exact. Just something to liven up your weekend," Edward murmured, wrapping his arms around me. I kissed him before he quickly broke it off and pointed down the street.
"Look, some police cars are coming, the parade's almost here," he said. Then he picked me up and before I knew it we were on the streets below. By the time we were down, the police cars had passed and men dressed up in different robes of purple, green, and gold were passing by on horses, throwing doubloons to the crowd.
"So what parade is this?" I asked Edward loudly above the noise. One of his arms was around me protectively as the other caught two in the air and presented them to me. I shoved them in the front pocket of my jeans.
"The Krewe of Bacchus always parades the Sunday before the big day, which is Tuesday, from its name," Edward replied, softly, but I could still hear him above the din. "Bacchus always has a celebrity reign as its king. This year, it's Michael Keaton. Look there." He pointed as the king's float came near us, pulled by a huge tractor-like vehicle. The bottom part of the float was lined with really young kids wearing fancy costumes that were reminiscent of what the men on horses had been wearing. They and Keaton were throwing strings of necklaces made of plastic balls into the crowd. Everyone in the crowd was screaming with their arms in the air. I shrieked with excitement when I caught a string of plain, gold ones.
"These are called beads, right?" I screamed, putting them on.
"Yes," he replied. "They and all of the other things you can catch are called 'throws.'"
"And to get some you yell, 'throw me something, Mister!' right?"
Edward laughed loudly.
"No, not really," he said. "People used to, but now screaming works just as well…it's not as though they can hear you on the floats, anyway. It may be your first Mardi Gras, Bella, but it's most certainly not mine." Soon, one of the "normal" floats was coming down the street. It was still enormous. Before I could say anything about it, Edward had lifted me up and I was sitting on his shoulders.
"Let's go," he said, and soon, we were among tons of other people, about five feet away from the float, screaming for beads. Many of the men, all wearing masks and costumes, were clearly drunk, but grinning and throwing us stuff anyway. Edward laughed every time I got excited about catching something; the beads were all different colors and sizes. By the time the end of the float had passed us, what appeared to be a marching band was coming our way. Adults wearing sweats with the school's logo on them were marching down the sides of the street, forcing people to retreat onto the neutral ground.
"Oh great, another 'We'll kill you if you're in the street' band," one of the men standing next to us said. I laughed and cheered during the band's performance. Following them were rows of girls in heavily sequined dance outfits of the school, twirling batons as they came. Some of the men in the crowd yelled appreciatively.
Edward leaned back his head so I could see his face; he wore an expression of annoyance. When they had finished, the second float came by, and then the third and the fourth. Soon my neck was covered with different kinds of beads. When the fifth float came, Edward said, "Come on, you'll like this one!" Having no idea what he was talking about, I went along on his shoulders as usual. Suddenly, the float stopped, though no one seemed to be complaining.
"The parades stop a lot, it's normal," he explained. Then he walked towards the back end of the float. The last three men had taken off their masks, though it took me a moment to recognize them.
"Emmett? Jasper? Carlisle?" I screamed and squirmed in childish excitement. "What are you doing here?!"
"Hey, we got bored in our months away from Forks," Emmett explained, grinning. "And this is a parade that's really easy to buy your way into. Rose, Esme, and Alice stayed behind, they didn't mind missing it, it's not exactly our first time riding."
"We got a lot of hunting done yesterday as well," Jasper said.
"Everything's fine," Carlisle assured us. Suddenly, the float started moving again. Emmett quickly handed me a stuffed bear as a souvenir, causing Edward to roar with laughter. When their float had passed, another band came, forcing us to back onto the neutral ground once again. I noticed that I was now parallel with a little girl sitting in a ladder seat who was looking at my bear with a hint of jealousy. I did head gestures to Edward to show him what I was going to do, and he shrugged and smiled. I turned to face the little girl and handed her my bear. She gave me a wide smile and showed her mom, who mouthed thanks to me and put the bear in their bag. The next float was fast approaching.
"Hey Edward, do you think you could put me down for this next one?"
"Sure," He called back, and then I was on the ground again. For the next float, I only got one or two beads, but ended up with the same number because someone had given Edward an entire package of beads, which he took out and placed around my neck immediately. The next thing to come down the street didn't even look like a float, it was shaped like the streetcars I remembered from my project, thought it was still pulled by a tractor. There was an entire band inside playing a unique type of music I'd never heard before. Everyone around us started clapping and dancing to the beat.
"What is this?" I half-yelled to Edward.
"It's a type of New Orleans music…dance with it!"
"Like this!" Edward put my hands in his and pulled and pushed me in a dance that I quickly picked up with the song.
Down in New Orleans where the blues were born
It takes a cool cat to blow a horn
On LaSalle and Rampart street
The cambo's there with the mambo beat
Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo
Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo
Mardi Gras mambo-oh
Down in New Orleans
Once the band had passed, I stood laughing and let my hands fall. A couple seconds later, what appeared to be a drunk college student came up and took a string of long beads that were around his neck and place them around mine so we were both caught by them. I froze for a moment, disgusted, but unsure of what to do, before Edward came up behind me and pinched two of the beads so that the strand broke. The guy quickly lumbered away and Edward took my hand. I followed him very willingly, still disgusted by what had just happened.
"I think I've had enough of this parade," Edward growled. Quickly, he walked around the back of the float and onto the sidewalk, navigating the crowd. We left the street and walked into a beautiful old neighborhood filled with beautiful old homes from the mid to late 19th century. The noise decreased significantly the further we walked along the alternating brick and cement sidewalks.
"I'm sorry about that," Edward said tensely. "There are a lot of crazy college kids running around, drunk. They usually stay on Bourbon street, though, uptown is never like this. It's a great family-oriented holiday."
"It was a lot of fun, though, despite him," I said. "And I got a lot of beads," I added, gesturing to my neck. Edward chuckled.
"You did very well," he said approvingly. "You should see how well Rosalie and Alice do…each of them were getting three bags full per parade last year. They get tons of huge beads too…until the men see Emmett and Jasper with them, that is." I laughed softly.
"It's a beautiful city," I murmured as we walked along.
"I'll keep that in mind in the future," Edward agreed. "This is a nice spot," he said, placing my arms around his neck and pulling me close under the lamplight on one of the street corners. He began to sing a soft song with bizarre lyrics that I didn't recognize immediately as we began to sway.
If ever I cease to love…
A/N: Okay…this was my first attempt at writing a Twilight fanfic. It is a bit AU because it only happens if Edward had returned about a month before he did in New Moon. (I checked the dates online) I don't own anything in this story, quite literally. The hotel they were at was what used to be the Garden District hotel (some big chain just bought it), and Bacchus IS "the Sunday night parade." I'd like to thank the Krewe of Thoth, the Krewe of Bacchus, my BFF, my lovely beta Mother Nature's Daughter, the cast of Hairspray, Aly & AJ's "Into the Rush," the fanfic Edward's Date Night Extravaganza, and Ginger Ale for providing the inspiration needed to write this. Thanks, and HAPPY MARDI GRAS!