Title: Cinderella
Rating: T
Summary: "Oh, I will dance with Cinderella ... I don't want to miss even one song. 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight, and she'll be gone..." — Bella says goodbye to her father at the wedding.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. I also do not own Dance With Cinderella by Stephen Curtis Chapman.


Cinderella

"You are so beautiful."

His whisper was quiet, and I barely heard it. I watched him place his forehead gently against hers as they swayed — gently, slowly — to the music. She blushed and he kissed her forehead, his lips lingering on her pale skin for several seconds before he pulled back and stared into her eyes.

And I ... I just sat in the background and watched.

I watched as my baby girl danced with the boy she claimed she loved more than even her own life. My baby girl, who, as of ten minutes ago, is officially married to Edward Cullen.

And I watched as the love the felt for each other almost literally colored the air around them.

I want to hate him, but as I watch them — carefully holding onto each other, as if they're afraid if they let go, the world will fall apart — I know I can't. Sure, he swept into our lives, just when Bella had come into my life again, and swept her off of her feet ... and away from me.

But I can't hate him.

He loves my baby too much.

She spins and she sways,
To whatever song plays,
Without a care in the world.
And I'm sitting here wearing,
The weight of the world on my shoulders.

I was too busy trying to catch the words of the song that had just started playing to notice much of anything.

"You should steal the bride away for a minute."

So when I heard a soft, quiet voice behind me, I whirled around in surprise to see Alice — who was positively glowing — behind me. She was smiling softly as she watched her brother. The look on her face was almost indescribable. It was of pure love for the two people that today was all about.

"Huh?" I questioned stupidly, momentarily stunned by her beauty.

"Dance with Bella," she urged. "She would really love that. She's worried about you, you know, about how you're holding up."

"I'm fine," I said gruffly, looking down into my wine glass. "And I don't dance," I added quickly. She laughed. It was a really soft, sweet sound. A lot like Bella's laughter.

"Dance with her."

I sighed and put my glass down. I tried to make it seem like I rather hated what I was doing, but I couldn't manage it. I wanted to take Bella's hand and lead her around like I had when she was tiny. Of course, with us being possibly the two most clumsy people on the Earth, there had always been a lot more falling down than dancing. There was always a lot of laughter, too.

But it was one of the precious few memories that this cruel world, my cruel fate, had allowed me to create.

I reached out and gently placed my hand on Edward's shoulder. He reluctantly tore his eyes away from Bella's piercing gaze and turned to me with a smile.

I spoke slowly, quietly.

"May I have this dance?"

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

"Dad, you don't dance," Bella said nervously, her eyes trailing after Edward, who had begun dancing with his mother ... Esme was it? I noticed his eyes never left Bella, though, and even though he was paying constant attention to my daughter and not his dance, he was still graceful.

I laughed at Bella's worry.

"Neither did you," I pointed out, smiling. "And now look at you."

"That's only because Alice and Rosalie forced me to practice for weeks before this," she said, smiling. "And I still only manage to stay on my feet because of Edward."

When she said his name, her whole face glowed, and her eyes lit up. I didn't miss the loving glance she threw him, either. It was then that I realized exactly how deeply in love they were. I knew it was like a black hole, and they would never find their way out.

"You're going to be all right, aren't you?" I asked quietly.

She laughed, and the sound was music to my ears.

"Yes, daddy, I am. I'm going to be just fine."

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone...

We were still swaying to the music, and the world seemed to disappear around us. It was just me and my daughter — my baby girl — for this moment, for this single, beautiful moment.

It was then that I realized it.

"You're leaving, huh?"

She gave a little laugh, and for once, I was perceptive enough to catch the fact that it was nervous.

"Of course, dad, I'm going to college in Alaska!"

She was trying to be happy, to seem carefree. I shook my head, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her bite her lip.

"No ... it goes deeper than that. I'm not ... going to see you again, am I?"

I could see the tears forming as she shook her head, slowly, carefully.

"I'll visit. I promise. Every break that I can get away."

I smiled sadly at her. I didn't know what was going on, or what was causing the obvious pain, but I knew that, wherever she was, she would be happy. She would be with Edward. They would be together. I knew enough to realize that she couldn't be happy without him.

A quote from one of my favorite books — a favorite that Bella had read once and had fallen in love with immediately — came quickly back to me, and it hit me hard.

If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.

"You really, truly love him, don't you?" I whispered, holding her closer as we both stumbled and nearly fell to the ground. She laughed, then stared into my eyes with such a beautiful smile lighting her lips that it stole my breath away.

"I truly do."

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

"Do you remember when Edward first came over?" I asked, swinging her gently before taking her close to me again.

She nodded, and the look in her eyes made me think I was missing something important. I probably was.

"I remember. It was raining buckets, and he was taking me to play baseball with his family. And then ... then ... " she trailed off, and her gaze dropped form mine. "And then I left," she continued almost silently. "And then I hurt myself. When I was ... falling down those stairs, in the split second I had to think, all I thought about was him."

I laughed, trying to hide my real emotions as I spoke gruffly. "What, no thoughts of your old man?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone
.

"Of course I thought of you!" she said, as if the idea she hadn't was completely insane. "I was so worried that ... that I'd never get the chance to apologize for what I'd done ... what I'd said. I was so ... so sure that you would hate me forever, and I'd never be able to t-tell you how much I-I love y-you."

She was crying by this point, and I wasn't far behind. I could feel the tears coming, but I fought against them with everything I had as I reached out to press my rough, scarred fingers to her soft skin, to wipe her tears away.

"Oh, Baby ... " I whispered, my voice breaking as I took her close again. We weren't even dancing now. We were just standing there, my arms around her small body as I rocked us back and forth slowly, so slowly.

"I d-do love you, Daddy," she whispered, burying her head in my chest. I held her closer. "I love you so ... so much."

"I love you, too, Bells."

Somehow, it seemed like our words were more than words of love, finally spoken after so many years of being afraid to show our emotions. Somehow ... it seemed like I was saying goodbye.

"I love you."

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

"Bella?"

I looked up to see Edward staring at us in concern, his liquid golden eyes alight with worry and confusion. I just smiled at him and motioned for him to walk closer. He did, and when he was close enough, he reached out and placed his hand comfortingly on Bella's shoulder.

"E-Edward?"

She looked up in surprise, and he smiled and nodded.

I was the one to pull out of our embrace, but I didn't completely let her go. Instead, I held her hands in mine and stared into her tear-filled gaze for what felt amazingly like the last time.

Without turning to Edward, I spoke.

"Take good care of my girl, all right?"

I could almost feel the smile spreading over his flawless features.

"I will."

Two words. Two simple words. But they meant the world to me, because I knew they were true. I knew that, whatever happened, wherever they went, they were in it goether. And he loved her, more than I could possibly comprehend.

And ... she loved him, too.

I gently took Bella's hand in mine, and then turned to Edward before clasping her hand in his. They both looked at me, and I smiled. The tears had come, and I couldn't stop the single one that slowly slipped down my worn, aged cheek.

"Live," I whispered, "And have no regrets."

Then, I turned my back and walked away. I could hear Bella crying, and as I cast a final glance over my shoulder, I could see Edward taking her so softly, so gently into his arms. His eyes closed as he held her close, and she held him almost as if she was afraid she'd break to pieces if he ever let her go.

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone ...

I heard this song on the radio, and couldn't help myself. It's beautiful, and it fit so well. It's very sad, and the story behind it really doesn't fit with this fic, but whatever. I was going for the lyrics. Whatcha think? Hate it? Love it? Somewhere in between?

NOTE: I just finished my multi-chapter story, My Miracle, My Angel a while ago, and started the sequel Never Too Late. If you liked this, you'll probably like those!

Please Review! ( Please, please? )