Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairing, etc.
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, story-alerted, and favorited this fic. You have all made my days a little brighter. This is the end, though, for now. Until I am again inspired by these characters, and their beautiful story. I deeply apologize for the tardiness of this final chapter, real life has kept me too busy to devote the emotion and attention this chapter demanded. Again, thank you so much everyone, and I sincerely hope you enjoy this chapter!
Perhaps my Bella is no longer soft, and warm. Her scent, no longer as potent as it was at one time.
But, now, my Bella is as close to indestructible as someone so accident prone can be. Her eyes are red now, instead of brown. Her skin is even paler; cold and hard instead of warm and soft. But she is as beautiful to me as the day I first realized I was deeply in love with her, and always would be.
It's been five months now, and though her eyes are still brilliantly red, I can see the gold starting to seep in. Though now her eyes are closed, as she lays still in the center of the new clearing we'd claimed as ours in the more remote part of the Vancouver forest. The sun, playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, sparkled against Bella's skin everywhere it could.
Was this how Bella felt, that first day in our clearing in Forks? When she'd sat and stared at me for so long, and touched my skin so carefully, and with such awe?
"Edward, what are you thinking?" Her voice is low and sweet, unhurried despite the fact there is no one human within a thirty-mile radius to hear.
"I love you," I blurted. It wasn't what I meant to say. But it slipped out anyway, a truth spoken from the deepest and most sincere part of my heart. It no longer beat, and hadn't for so long, but it still belonged to her – for whatever it was worth.
Her eyes opened, and she looked at me with that playful half-smile I couldn't seem to get enough of. "Edward." The word was full of so much adoration, so much devotion, it spoke more than my three little words could even if I repeated them a thousand times.
"My Bella." I reached out and traced her smooth cheek, down her jawline, across her lips. She closed her eyes and sighed, and her cool breath shuddered across my fingers.
She shifted so her head rested in my lap, and she reached up to secure my hand in both of hers. "Thank you, Edward." Her tone and expression left little doubt as to her meaning.
I swept my free hand through her silky dark hair, then played with a few strands I'd captured from the breeze's stir. "You're welcome, Bella."
During her change, I'd had a thousand regrets, and more than enough time to beat myself up over them all. After a while Alice and Jasper crept in. They sat in the corner watching me, and Bella. Alice was there to make sure all would go safely; Jasper was there to try to soothe the pain of Bella's transformation, and subsequently my own pain. He'd also taken it upon himself to ease my guilt, though, and sometimes I let him.
Since the moment Bella had opened her red, newborn eyes upon the world, I had only suffered a few moments of doubt in the past five months. As time went along, I realized Bella hadn't changed that much. She was more durable now, more like me so we could spend forever together, but the faucets of her personality that had drawn me to Bella the human in the first place had carried over into Bella the vampire. Her sweetness; her shyness; her willingness to love, accept, forgive.
The only thing I remotely missed was her penchant for blushing. But since I knew she didn't miss it in the least, I didn't, either. Whatever made her happy, made me happy.
I cupped her sweet, glowing, beautiful face in my hands and smiled down at her. "I love you, Bella Cullen. Forever."
She smiled up at me with a pure, sweet love that made everything in me want to scream to the world how much I loved her. "I love you, Edward Cullen. Forever."
The lion and the lamb at last found their happily-ever-after.