Epilogue

Edward is dead.

Well, technically he was dead all along; no heartbeat and cold hardened flesh tend to have that result.

But this time he is really, really dead, and it's really devastating and all the sparkle has gone from Isabella Swan's world. All she wants to do is lie in bed crying and hugging her copy of Romeo and Juliet to her chest, but there are all these really annoying things going on around her.

First Mike the deputy shows up for work, and instead of doing something useful like untying her and chasing after those two murderers, he calls Charlie. And of course Charlie comes skidding up in his cruiser yelling about her sneaking out all night and is she all right and why is she tied to her truck and why didn't she call-- well, because her purse is on the floor, DUH. And he wants to know who tied her up, and when she tells him it was the two Wildlife Service officers and that they killed Edward and chopped him up and burned all his pieces and also all his family, Charlie gets this really worried look and wants to know Were you at a party and Did someone give you something and Was it Edward.

And so Bella has to explain No, no, no, it wasn't a party, it was because Edward didn't come to her room last night and she had to go find him, and that makes Charlie get all red in the face and shouty. Because Charlie is really old-fashioned about boys spending the night in bed with her.

So then Bella has to explain that Edward is a total gentleman due to being over a hundred years old and a vampire as well so Charlie can just relax.

When the ambulance arrives, Charlie tells the EMT he wants a complete tox screen and Oh, keep Dr. Cullen away from Bella.

And that's how Bella finds herself in the hospital with a nurse checking on her every ten minutes instead of home in bed sobbing for her topaz-eyed Edward.

Nobody believes he was a vampire, and nobody believes he is dead.

"But then where are the Cullens?" Bella demands, and Charlie replies in a very sad voice that it looks like they skipped town after Edward's creepy behavior with Bella came to light. The house is closed up, the cupboards and refrigerator bare.

"Because they're vampires and they don't eat," Bella says. "Or they were, before those two guys killed them and burned them up!"

Charlie replies that it's impossible to burn seven bodies in one night without a crematorium, and when Bella insists that she saw it with her own eyes and that burning vampires smell like incense and gasoline and that their pieces try to crawl away from the fire, Charlie puts his head down and pats her shoulder for a very long time.

The result is that Bella has to talk to a tranquil woman who asks her lots of questions. Bella doesn't like it because she has to think about really complicated things the woman-- who is a doctor but not as gorgeous as Carlisle—wants to discuss, like self-esteem and inner strength. Even after she's done in the hospital and goes home and is back in school, Bella has to keep talking to the woman.

It's mostly really annoying stuff about finding self-reliance instead of being co-dependent and seeing inner beauty rather than getting preoccupied with surface glitz and broadening one's horizons with some hobbies.

"I had a hobby," Bella says. "At least until those two nutjobs with the weapons took him away from me."

That leads to a discussion about how a healthy hobby usually involves more than letting a boy be patronizing and a danger to you simply because he's attractive, which, like, is so not how it was. Edward wasn't patronizing, he was protective, and maybe he was dangerous but that was only because he was a vampire, and he made up for it by sparkling so beautifully.

So then they have to talk about self-esteem some more and how tying yourself to a truck in the middle of the night when you've had a disagreement with your boyfriend is a cry for help and everyone really does want to help Bella get better and to find a goal for her life other than being dead-- or undead, as the case may be.

It's not really all that fun, but Bella doesn't have much else to do now that her beautiful and oh-so-sparkly Edward isn't around to gaze at anymore. She never does quite get the hang of having hobbies, though sometimes she and this girl Angela from school wander around together. She finishes high school and forgets to go to her prom and almost forgets her own graduation until Renée says I flew all the way up here to this cold wet podunk town so you're going out on that stage to pick up your diploma.

And the thing with the high heels and the balloon bouquet strings and the sound system control board hardly even spoils the ceremony that much.

Her grades turn out to be adequate for getting into college even without any extracurriculars or community service. Since she's finally given up insisting that her boyfriend was a vampire who was killed by a cute guy who once saved her from angry ducks and a hot guy who helped her after a canoe accident, Charlie gives his blessing for her to go out on her own.

She's accepted to a school in Wisconsin, where, before the first semester is over, Bella gets mixed up with an incubus that's been stalking the campus.

But that's a story for another day.


The End.

Thank you all for sticking with this to the end.