This isn't what I sat down to write, but it wouldn't stop playing in my head until I did so.
Disclaimer: I am not, nor will I ever be, responsible in any way for the creation of these characters.
A/N: I also wanted to thank NoMoreThanUsual, for her help in beta- reading this story. Her suggestions helped to make what I wanted to say sound quite a bit better!
My Bella was driving me crazy. Again. She lay, wrapped in my arms, and had not said a single word for what seemed an eternity.
"Love," I said softly. "Please tell me what you're thinking of. You know that it drives me insane when I can't know what goes on in that wonderful, silent mind of yours."
"Sorry. I'm just trying to figure something out."
I waited for her to explain, but she had fallen silent again, lost in whatever thoughts occupied her mind.
"Bella, please! I can't take it anymore."
"You'll laugh," she said, blushing, and looking away from me.
"I won't. I promise," I whispered, catching her chin in my hand and gently turning her eyes back up to meet mine.
"It might make you angry. Or sad. I don't want to tell you."
"Bella, love, you can tell me anything. I could never be angry with you."
"Please? I promise, I'll listen to whatever you have to say, no laughter or anger. I just need to know. Please." Now I was even more worried about where her thoughts had gone. Was she considering changing her mind? Did she no longer wish to be my wife? I could hardly bear the thought of that being the case.
She blushed brighter, but reluctantly agreed.' "Well," she began, "I know that every time you go to a new town, that you pretend you are as young as possible, so as to be able to stay in each place longer." She stopped again.
"Yes," I urged. "We do. What about it?"
"After I change, well, I know that I'll be joining you in that charade, at least once I've learned to control myself. And…"
I nearly growled in frustration when she stopped again. Getting little bits of her thoughts like this was very nearly worse than hearing nothing at all. I could not figure out what she was worried about.
"Are you afraid that you won't look young enough to be in the same classes I am?" I knew that she was sensitive about the fact that she was physically about two years older than me. "That isn't true, you know. You will probably be able to pass for even younger than I can, if you wanted to. Besides, people believe what the documentation tells them. If our birth certificates say we're fifteen, people believe it."
"No, Edward. That's not it. I'm not worried about that."
She fell silent again, and I tried to be patient. I failed.
"Then what are you worrying about?" I demanded, a little sharper than I had intended.
"It's just so silly! I have no idea why I even care! But I do…."
"Care about what, love?"
"What people think of us. What people will think of us. They're going to talk, I know that, but I can't help wanting to minimize the gossip."
"Bella, what are you talking about?"
She looked into my eyes for a long moment. "When I first came here, and Jessica was telling me who you were, she told me that you were all together. Well, Alice and Jasper and Rosalie and Emmett, I mean. The story was that you were all adopted, so there was no blood relation between you, but her tone still implied that it was somehow incestuous. I don't want people thinking that about us."
"I hate to tell you this, but they are going to think that about us. I don't want it, either, but humans are drawn to scandal. Anything that looks like scandal will create gossip. If it goes beyond gossip, we will have all of the proper documentation to show that there is no trace of incest in our relationships. Multiple couples living together will always cause idle talk."
"I know that, too. But can't we try and lessen the impact a little?"
"What do you propose we do?"
"As of now, you, Alice, and Emmett all legally share the same last name. Rosalie and Jasper, the other half of each couple, share a different name. Couldn't we do something like that for you and me? As much as I want to be a Cullen, it would help if you and I didn't share a last name, especially since we can't say we're married when we go back to high school! We'll be pretending to be fifteen, or so?
"Are you saying that you want to keep your last name Swan, once you've changed?" I couldn't help but feel a little hurt. I knew what she was trying to do, and I understood it, but it still felt like rejection."
"No, not at all!" she cried, laying her hand on my cheek and urging me to look at her. "However, I don't think I'm ever going to look enough like Rosalie and Jasper to make people believe that I'm related to them. And I want to always know, every time I hear my name, that I'm yours."
I stared at her, utterly dumbfounded. "What are you saying, Bella? I don't understand. You just said that you didn't want my last name, once you change. You don't want to cause more gossip than we have to, by being Bella Cullen."
"No, Edward. I said I didn't want to have the same last name as you. I never said that I didn't want to have your name."
My dead heart felt like it had expanded to the point where it could no longer be contained in my chest. "Are you asking me what I think you're asking me?"
"Would you have any objections to having me change my name to Bella Masen, once I change and we go back to school?"
I leaned closer to her, my nose nearly touching hers, before I whispered my answer, hardly able to contain my euphoria. "Nothing would make me happier," I breathed, before pressing my lips to hers in a gentle kiss.
When I could manage to pull myself away from her, she snuggled closer into my arms.
"Thank you", she told me softly. "You don't think it's silly?"
"Not at all."