Title: Worth the Trouble
Summary: A conversation set after Eclipse. My way of working through things.
Spoilers: Eclipse, obviously.
Disclaimer: All Stephenie Meyer's. Woe.
He played with my hair – it seemed to be becoming a habit – while I stared up at the unusually clear sky. Occasionally, a flash of his skin in the sun would throw a burst of colored light across my vision.
"What are you thinking so hard about?" he asked me quietly, one of his long fingers traced the shell of my ear.
"How do you know I'm thinking hard?" I asked evasively. I didn't want to tell him what I was thinking of. I didn't want to remind him any more than I had to of the other one, the one I had hurt so very deeply, and in the process, had hurt Edward…the one whose pain dwarfed all of my pain…seeing that flash of hurt and jealousy and self-blame in his eyes, however quickly he managed to hide it, left another little bruise on my heart.
He smiled, his wandering hand brushing over my forehead. "You've wrinkled up on me. I know you're not as relaxed as you're pretending to be."
I sighed, turning to meet his patient eyes. His endless patience with me was astounding. I didn't deserve it.
"I was just thinking about soulmates."
His eyes tightened, if not from my words, then from my tone. He continued tracing my features with his cool fingers, though, as if nothing was wrong in the world, and I closed my eyes, selfish. I couldn't look at him while I explained.
"It's just that…if the world was normal and vampires and werewolves didn't exist, I would have been with Jacob. If you'd died in 1918, he would have been my soulmate, in this time."
His fingers stilled, and his words were carefully enunciated, hiding his pain. "If he's what you want –"
"No," I said quickly, opening my eyes to place my index finger against his lips. "Let me finish."
He nodded and waited for me to go on. I looked back to the blue sky. "He was my soulmate for this time. But somehow, there was a more perfect soul out there for me, and by some miracle the fates preserved it through time and space to bring it to me. A gift like that is impossible to turn down…it shouldn't be wasted."
I turned to him, touching his exquisite face, and I marveled once again at how undeservedly blessed I was. He loved me in a way that Jacob couldn't quite manage, so unconditionally, so selflessly. I didn't deserve his continual forgiveness, his kindness, his generosity. He'd done everything in his power to protect me and to make me happy…if only he could have protected me from myself.
"Bella…" he sighed, stroking my cheek with the back of his fingers, as he was wont to do, and his eyes looked torn – between longing and some strange sadness, "You don't feel…obligated to stay with me, do you?"
I blinked and choked on a burst of laughter. "Oh, Edward, you completely missed the point. If I feel like I'm destined to be with you, it's because I love you more than anything. Because I can't be with anyone else – I couldn't live out my human life with Jacob, knowing you were out there somewhere…knowing what I was missing. I couldn't ignore that call for anyone. It is meant to be…it's destiny. But because it's right, not because it's some trick of fate. It's like…it's like imprinting, like Sam and Emily. It's fate handing you that one perfect person, and that can't be ignored, not for anyone."
He chuckled at something I didn't understand, and I turned onto my side to face him. "What?"
"You're much more eloquent than you used to be," he said, grinning at me. The smile faded into something nostalgic and wistful. "You've grown up so much."
I winced. "Is that a good or a bad thing?"
"Both, like most things usually are," he said, wrapping and arm around my waist. "You've lost a lot of your innocence, and that breaks my heart – or what's left of it. There are so many things you should never have had to see…you've been hurt in ways you never deserved, and I know most of it is my own fault.
"But you've also become smarter, wiser," he continued before I could tell him not to blame himself. "Stronger, although you've always been stronger than you look. I know I don't need to worry for you as much as I used to."
"A little closer to being equals," I sighed.
"Soon," he said, a statement more than a promise as he followed the train of my thoughts. The promise was already made, had been made the moment I agreed to marry him, and the memory of the joy that had radiated from every ounce of him was enough to reassure me of my decision now. How could I refuse him something that lit up his face like that?
The ring on my finger with its myriad of diamonds sparkled like his skin in the sunshine as he lifted my hand to his lips. We were getting closer to what I wanted as well, the completion of our physical relationship…and then, eternity.
I was no longer afraid of what I would face in becoming a vampire. Perhaps I would not be myself at first; perhaps I would be a bloodthirsty monster. But I knew Edward and my new family would prevent me from doing any harm, and compared to thousands of years with Edward, those first few years seemed like nothing. They were more than worth the struggle, for what I would receive in the end.
"Have you heard from your mother yet?" Edward asked, stroking my palm.
Renee had surprised me. Instead of the tirade I'd been expecting, she'd actually been giving me the silent treatment, which was a very bad sign where my mother was concerned. Usually her every thought came spewing out involuntarily; remaining silent took an amount of willpower she usually didn't possess. She was coming up for the wedding; I assumed she was saving her lecture for then.
"No, not yet. I've never seen her this angry before."
"She'll come around," Edward said, and he sounded very certain. "In her mind, she knows we're different from her and Charlie…she's just not ready to let go yet."
"I suppose I should just be content that Charlie took it as well as he did," I sighed, letting him draw me closer, my head tucked comfortably under his chin.
"He was expecting it, though. Even when he was rooting for Jacob. You were the only one holding out."
"And I can't say I'm not still a little horrified by the prospect. You know I'm going to trip coming down the aisle, right?"
Edward laughed, his chest vibrating with the sound. "If you do, it's no worse than anyone expected, Bella. That's just one little moment, though. You're focusing on all the wrong things."
I huffed. "And what should I be focusing on? The part where I step on my dress and rip it in two? Or the part where my mom wonders why you're not letting me shove cake in your mouth?"
He laughed again, loudly. "Neither, Bella. What about the part where we belong to each other, officially? Not just in our eyes, but to the world? When Mike Newton finally gives it a rest? When you move in with us? Or if those thoughts still don't satisfy you, what about the honeymoon?"
"Honeymoon?" I perked up at the word. We'd not discussed anything of the sort so far. I knew exactly what went on during honeymoons, however, and I wanted it.
"Mmmhmm," he murmured, a soft purr against my ear. "You know, that part where I whisk you off to a deserted island and we spend a few weeks languishing in bed and lounging in the sun?"
Once again, he'd found my weakness and exploited it mercilessly. "A deserted island?"
"Yes, deserted. Just you and me in a cozy little bungalow, with no interruptions…no one to see us at all."
"Well," I croaked, trembling embarrassingly, "When you put it that way…"
"That's what I thought," he chuckled, rubbing my back and managing to be seductive even at that. "Relax, Bella. All the trouble is going to be well worth it."
Suddenly, the wedding didn't seem soon enough.