Well, it has been quite a while (years in fact) since I've thought of this story. But recently, while nursing my sweet baby, I reread Twilight, and figured I should wrap up some loose ends over here. I have an epilogue I would like to write, but until then, this is the end. I am amazed that some of you have stuck with me, and very appreciative of the feedback and positive responses—it's because of you that I wanted to keep up with this. Thank you.
Bella laughed and squeezed Edward's hand. "I guess I can tell Charlie then," she said happily. "All I need to figure out is how to keep him from shooting Edward. I don't think he's quite ready to be a Grandpa." She paused thoughtfully. "And I guess I should think about how to prepare him for when I am turned. Maybe he could even do some babysitting."
I was smiling and nodding until, wait, what?
I heard a crack, and saw the metal railing on Bella's bed fall and clatter on the ground by Edward's feet, his white-knuckled fist now grasping thin air.
"Edward?" Bella questioned hesitantly.
"When. You. Are. Turned?" he repeated slowly.
Bella stared at him.
Oh crap, here we go again.
It was all too familiar, seeing the frozen look on Edward's face- the look I now recognized as Edward's attempt to hold onto himself amidst a shattering onslaught of emotion. However, his state of frozen shock proved useful, as Alice maneuvered him out of the room, unresistingly. His eyes did not leave Bella's until the hospital door closed between them. Carlisle, looking unhappy and concerned, had motioned the rest of us to follow. Carlisle's emotions unsettled me. I hadn't realized how much I counted on our "father" to be the bedrock of our family. As I trailed behind Rosalie, my eyes couldn't help but linger on Bella, who sat, bewildered, with her pale belly still exposed. Edward and Alice were long gone from the hallway by the time I exited the exam room, so Esme stalwartly led us to the cafeteria, where we waited awkwardly, twiddling a collection of snacks Esme had bought, until the exam was finished.
Bella walked quietly next to Carlisle, and seemed calm, more thoughtful than frightened or angry. The rest of us were more on edge. Perhaps Bella, not realizing how close Edward had come to leaving her and their child just the day before, wasn't aware of the danger she was in. The Porsche was gone from the parking lot, and I hoped that Alice had taken Edward, "seeing" that she could talk some sense into him. I guessed, however, that she had taken him because she had seen him do something hurtful if she didn't.
As Edward was gone, I drove home in the Volvo, with Bella seated beside me, her expression drawn inward.
I pulled in the driveway, and was at her door in a second, reaching out a hand to support her. Bella smiled reassuringly up at me as I pulled her from the car. My concern must be clear on my face. She squeezed my hand before turning towards the house. The rest of the family entered behind us.
Alice flew down the stairs to meet us, nodding earnestly at Bella. "That would be a fine idea," she agreed to some future event only Bella was privy to.
"Edward," Bella called softly, her voice reverberating through the still house. "I want to talk with you and your family."
My eyebrows rose upwards. "You want a family meeting?"
I couldn't resist. "It's Mortality Vote Night 2.0!" I cried, in my best game-host voice.
I could feel a number of eyes sardonically turned my way.
"Into the dining room," I pointed with exaggerated excitement, and for the first time in what felt like days, I felt the tension leave my body.
I knew I should be grim. I knew I should be trying to take in the gravity of the situation. But I was finished. We had been wrung out on emotions for so long, I just couldn't take it anymore. Bella gave me a half-smile as she walked past my still directing arm, so I knew she wasn't mad- hell, I'm sure she was as emotionally exhausted as the rest of us. Edward entered the room last, but still in time pull out Bella's seat, and keep a hand hovering at her elbow as she sat. He looked in control, for the moment at least. A thrum of intensity was in his motions and behind his eyes, but I had the feeling that, this time, I wouldn't have to take him outside to beat some sense into him. Despite bringing out his crazy-overprotective side, Bella also brought out an extreme selflessness, that, when properly harnessed, kept him wrapped around her little pinky.
"Bella, would you like the floor?" Carlisle began, courteously inclining his head toward his youngest.
Bella nodded. "I wanted to talk to you all at once, when I realized you hadn't thought I would still want to be changed. I just want you to understand my thinking."
Edward gave her a tight nod, and her eyes never left his face, reading his clenched jaw, and blazing eyes.
"Edward, why is it that you can resist hurting me? When my blood is so much better to you than anything, how can you resist?"
Surprise flashed across Edward's features so briefly I wasn't even certain I was correctly identifying his emotion. But then Edward seemed to regroup, and take a defensive stance- he was setting up his argument, I could tell.
"Bella, if it weren't for the decades of restraint, years of discipline, you would have been dead the moment I first caught your scent." Edward held her eyes as he spoke, and the edge of his human facade was pulled back. I knew what he said to be the truth. A flash of the most tantalizing scent crossed my memory, and then the horror of the once soft, pliant body growing rigid in death as I continued to cradle the lifeless girl flew through my mind. I was happy that Edward, older than me, with a mind aware of every human failing and vice, had not been responsible for the death of an innocent. An imperceptible tremor slid down my body at the thought of the course our lives would have taken had Edward not been able to resist.
Bella had listened to Edward's words, but a soft smile had crept onto her face, completely unbefitting of my train of memories. She nodded. "Yes, that is how I stayed alive the first time you met me, but how is it I am alive today? Is my blood less appealing to you?"
"Bella," Edward's voice was tense, "When I first caught your scent in the house, even now—even as your husband—I was tempted. More than tempted. I had to fight down the desire to stalk and kill my own wife."
Bella gazed softly at Edward. "But you didn't. Despite how powerfully my blood calls to you, you've been able to stay with me. When I'm hurt, when I'm bleeding, even when you had to drink my blood to remove James' venom- Edward, we were even able to create a child together! Tell me, why is it that you were able to do all of those things, when my blood is so difficult to resist?"
I watched as Edward's hard features softened slightly. Yes, he could see where Bella was going with this. And I could too. Was she right? Was love a powerful enough force to stop even a young vampire from doing harm?
Bella continued without waiting for Edward's response.
"Edward, you can do all of that because you love me. You've said it yourself- loosing me is unthinkable. Despite the appeal of my blood, you aren't truly in danger of attacking me because of it. If you had already loved me as you do now that very first moment we met, I have to believe that the power of your love would have made even our first meeting bearable for you."
Bella now glanced around the room to take in each of our faces.
"I love this child. I would do anything to keep him safe. And that's how I know that no matter what I am, I could never harm him. He'll need me human for his first few years, but after that, he needs me to change so that I can stay with my family. So that I can be strong and protect him from any danger our lives bring his way."
Carlisle reached out his hand to interlace fingers with Esme as she took a choked breath. I imagined a tear running down her cheek.
"I am not willing to loose my husband and my family when there is a way we can stay together. I am meant to be with all of you. This child does not change that. And any change that happens to me will not change my love for him and my desire to keep him safe. I know that in my heart."
A pause. Then Carlisle spoke aloud to all of us, but kept his eyes trained on the face of his youngest son. "Bella, the last time we had this discussion, we put it to a vote. But that is no longer necessary. You are already a member of this family. You are our equal, and the choice lies with you. Edward, you can see that I hope you will support Bella in her decision, but know that I will uphold her choice either way."
Edward sucked in a long breath of unnecessary air. That reminded me that maybe I should start breathing again too. He rose and approached Bella's seat where he kneeled down at her feet.
"Bella," he whispered to her, "I can only hope that you are right. To have that, it seems like to much." I saw his eyes flicker to my Rosalie before returning to Bella's face. "We've been blessed with something I thought was impossible for us. That I get to have that, while also keeping you by my side for eternity is more than any one man deserves. It is far more than I deserve."
Bella smiled impishly up at him. "Edward, you've really never seen yourself very clearly. You deserve this. We deserve this." Her glance included us all.
Edward smiled lovingly at her. I could practically feel Rosalie rolling her eyes.
Things seemed to be settled, but I had another question. "What about the child?" I asked. "Will you change him?"
Edward's back stiffened, but his face remained impassive. I looked at Bella to see if my question had upset her. She looked thoughtful. After a moment, her smile returned, broadening to sweep up Edward and encompass the rest of the family.
"I imagine that your answer will most likely depend on who this little guy ends up falling in love with. And that will be completely up to him."