Well, here it is! My little story is finished! I'll keep the AN here short and save it all for the end.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I only own Brainward and this idea.
I rolled over in bed and reached for Bella, only to realize she wasn't there. I sat up and grabbed my glasses from the nightstand so I could see the clock. It was just after midnight. I had an idea of what she was doing, and I smiled. I got out of bed, grabbed my cane, and headed to the living room. Aro, who had been sleeping in his dog bed at the foot of our bed, got up and followed me.
Bella and I had an early flight in the morning, and I was worried she'd be worn out. Today we had celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and we were finally taking a real honeymoon. We were leaving first thing in the morning for a five day trip to Hawaii.
Just as I thought, Bella was sitting on the sofa looking through our wedding album. She did that quite often when she couldn't sleep. Aro ran up and jumped on the sofa next to her.
"Hey, big guy. I hope you didn't wake Daddy," she told him, scratching his head.
"No, I think Daddy woke him," I said.
Bella turned around. "What are you doing up? You need your sleep. We've got a flight in the morning."
I sat between Bella and Aro on the sofa. "I could say the same for you. Can't sleep?"
"I'm too excited," she replied, nearly bouncing. I laughed because that was so unlike Bella.
"I'm excited too," I admitted. "We finally get a real honeymoon."
"Our first honeymoon wasn't so bad," Bella said. "I'd gladly spend another weekend locked away with you in a hotel suite."
I laughed again. So many things had changed during our first year of marriage, most of them quite good. I looked at the album and saw a photo of my family. My eyes focused on Rosalie and Emmett, and I remebered that our wedding day was also the day we found out about Rosalie's pregnancy. I had been thrilled to death for my brother and sister-in-law. I thought back to the cold February morning when my nephew was born.
Our family was crowded in Rosalie's hospital room just a couple of hours after she had given birth. My nephew was just perfect, all nine pounds eight ounces of him. I had no clue how Rose had delivered him. I sat in a chair, and Emmett placed the baby in my arms.
"Meet your nephew Hale Edward Cullen," Emmett had said.
I looked at my brother in confusion. "His middle name is Edward? You gave him my name?" I was stunned.
Rosalie smiled from her hospital bed. "We want him to grow up to be a strong individual, and his uncle Edward is the best example we know of."
"Edward? Where did you go?" Bella's voice broke me out of my reverie.
"I was just thinking about the day Hale was born," I replied. "I still can't believe he was named for me."
"I think Rose was hoping he'd turn out to be more like you than his daddy," Bella laughed. "Can you imagine raising a mini Emmett?"
Emmett had turned out to be an amazing father. Even Rose was surprised at how much he pitched in and took care of the baby. Of course Hale had a football and a baseball already, and his daddy and Aunt Bitt couldn't wait to teach him to play.
Teaching Hale to play sports would have to wait, though, until Elizabeth had free time. She was always on the go now. I looked at the picture of my sister and couldn't believe how much she had grown up in the last year. She had turned sixteen in the spring, and my parents surprised her with a car at the end of the school year as a reward for making straight As. The car wasn't new or fancy, but it meant everything to her. She was still busy with cheerleading and was now starting shortstop on the varsity softball team. She and her boyfriend Colby had broken up, but they still remained friends. Every now and then she'd go on a date with a new guy, but it never lasted. She was having way too much fun being a teenager.
"Look at this one," Bella said, pointing to a photo of her and me dancing at our wedding reception. "I still don't know how you pulled it off."
I didn't know either. Even though I worked it as hard as I could in physical therapy, I never regained full sensation in my left leg. I still had some numbness and tingling along with weakness. I did recover enough, though, to start walking with a cane just before Christmas. It had been a wonderful feeling to get rid of the walker. Having a cane made me feel a little more independent. I could walk short distances without it, but I tended to drag my leg when I did. I continued to work my leg at the gym, and I still hoped that one day I'd be able to walk unassisted. Hearing Emmett call me "Dr. House" got really old after a while.
I did have a couple of setbacks along the way, but I managed to work through them. Dr. Snow worked with me to get my seizures under control, experimenting with different medications until we finally found a combination that worked. I continued to go to my weekly counseling sessions with James, and they helped tremendously. Thanks to both of them, my life was so much easier.
What no one could prepare me for, though, was the stress of returning to work. I was finally cleared to go back to work in April, but I was scared shitless. I didn't feel like I could handle the stress of working in the ER. I was also afraid that my disability could get in the way of a patient's care. After many long talks with Bella, Carlisle, and my advisors, I decided to begin a new residency. I was now a resident in pediatrics, and I absolutely loved it. The children were amazing, and I felt such a sense of pride when I helped a little one through an illness. They didn't seem bothered at all by my disability. Infact, if a patient asked about my cane, I just explained that it was a magic stick that helped me walk.
I had trouble making it through an eight hour shift, though. I still didn't have the energy level I had before the stroke. The hospital generously offered to let me work five hour shifts for the time being. I felt awful about it, but my advisors didn't have a problem with it. I'm sure having Carlisle Cullen as my father helped.
Bella turned a page in the album, and there was a photo of Alice and Jasper on the dance floor. Alice was doing one of her crazy dance moves, and Jasper was just chuckling. Both Bella and I laughed out loud. Things couldn't have been better for our dear friends. Jasper had recently been promoted to junior partner in his law firm. He was taking on more high profile cases and winning them all. Alice had started designing her own clothing line and selling it at Twilight. She was so successful that she had been talking to some major retailers about taking it nationwide. I was thrilled that both of them were doing so well.
On the facing page was a photo of Bella and me with Aro in his doggie tux. Aro had not only become a faithful companion, but he was also my lifesaver. Having him alert me to seizures was amazing because I could prepare myself as much as possible for what was to come. Thankfully he hadn't had to alert me in a while. Aro also kept me quite active. We still walked twice a day in addition to playing in the yard and the house. I had never thought about having a dog until Emmett and Rose gave him to me, and now I couldn't imagine him not being a part of our family.
We continued flipping through the album and stopped on a photo of my parents. I didn't know what I would have done without them over the last year and a half. Carlisle was always there for me with medical and fatherly advice. He helped me tremendously when I returned to work. Esme and I had become even closer than we were before the stroke. I still couldn't drive, so she became my chauffeur when Bella was at school or busy. She got me through several panic attacks when we were out and about. They were wonderful grandparents to baby Hale and spoiled him rotten like the rest of us did. My mother had been hinting to Bella and me about giving her more grandbabies, but I still didn't feel physically ready to be a father. With or without babies, my parents loved us very much and had been an incredible source of strength and support to Bella and me.
Feeling the effects of the late hour, I couldn't supress my yawn. Bella smiled and reached over to play with my hair, which had finally grown out the way I liked it. "We'd better get some sleep," she said. "Tomorrow is going to be a long day."
"Long but amazing," I replied. "I can't wait until we get there."
Bella put the wedding album back in its usual spot on the bookshelf, and we headed to bed. Aro followed and climbed into bed with us instead of his doggie bed. Bella shook her head, but I knew she really didn't mind. We turned out the lights and snuggled close to each other.
"Happy anniversary, my beautiful Bella," I told her. "Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world. I love you."
Bella kissed me sweetly on the lips. "And you've made me the happiest woman in the world. I love you more than anything."
As my wife and I drifted off to sleep in each other's arms, I thought about how lucky I was. I was a survivor. I made it thanks to the love of my family and friends and the beautiful woman sleeping next to me. Bella was truly my reason for living. I didn't know what would happen tomorrow, but I knew I could face anything as long as the woman I loved was by my side.
And we're done! I hope you liked Edward and Bella's happy ending! I can't believe I've spent almost two years on this journey and that it's all over. I couldn't have done this without the help of several people.
My dear beta Bittenev. You are an amazing writer and an amazing friend. Thank you not only for making my words look good but also for being one of the best friends I could ever ask for. I never would have finished this without your help. You make me smile all the time! I can't wait until we finally get to hang out and wreak havoc together! I love you!
The other two-thirds of my world domination team, WhoDat9 and Eclipsegirl. What would I do without y'all? You're more than friends; you're my sisters. You make me laugh, you give me a shoulder to cry on, and you kick my butt when I need it. Words can't express what your friendship means to me. I love you both!
The Brainward posse: Katydid, Jennmc, sweetishbubble, Capricorn75, Ambushed, Maganbagan, and so many others. I hope you can forgive me for missing some names here! You're the reason I wrote this story. The love and support you've given me has been overwhelming. Thank you so much for everything. You're the greatest!
Unfortunately, unless something drastic happens, this will be my one and only full length story. I've decided to retire from writing. Writing WHT has been an amazing experience, and I've met some wonderful people in the fandom. That being said, I think it's time to move on to other things. I'll still be a beta for a couple of authors, but I'm giving up writing. Who knows, maybe something will change and I'll return. As for now, though, I don't have plans to post any new stories.
Thanks again for reading. This has been a wonderful experience!