A/N: Aw, it's the epilogue. :( :)
I would love nothing more than to thank my life partner, Kitschisme, for writing this awesome story with me. And it all started because of a failed one-shot.
We co-wrote this one.
"Five more minutes," I called over the children at their desks. A collective groan echoed through the air as their pencils began to tap in unison.
My eyes went back to the novel in front of me, reading over the words but not really taking them in. My mind was focused elsewhere at the moment, and I flashed a glance at the calendar to my right.
It was spring again, not too cool and not too warm. It was perfect weather for the birds to rejoice and sing their gay songs to one another. The flowers I'd planted this morning outside the front window were reaching their stems up to the sky where the sun peeked over the clouds.
I smiled, my book momentarily forgotten, and twirled the ring sitting comfortably on my fourth finger.
After Edward's unexpected proposal, preparations for the wedding had begun almost immediately. At the time, spring was due in just a few short months and Alice had been desperate to plan as much as we possibly could in the meantime. These tasks included the décor, flowers, catering, and of course… my dress.
I spent the winter months in a constant state of pleasurable bliss where every passing person and thing seemed to smile and greet me while I floated along in my own happy little world. Edward and I spent every waking moment together and we rarely left each other's side. We would make love for hours until the sun rose or we would just stay up talking, waiting for another day to spend together.
But those months of solitude were short lived before all hell broke loose at the manour.
By the time spring had arrived I would spend spent almost every day at the seamstress. I was poked and prodded mercilessly by a disgruntled French woman who spoke not one word of English and yelled at me until I was perfectly still. She was large and terrifying and certainly wasn't afraid to bruise me if I didn't do exactly as she said. I had to give her credit, however – the final product was earth shattering. I wasn't surprised, really . . . well, maybe just a bit.
The wedding was out of control, by my standards. Alice was the orchestrator behind it all, but Edward spared no expense on getting the finest of everything. China imported from Russia, vintage church pews purchased from a monastery in France, and only the finest satins and linens imported from several different countries. I nearly passed out when I'd overheard a conversation on the price for a "small" chapel for us to be married under; the chapel was anything but small.
Under normal circumstances I would have been appalled by this sort of frivolous spending, but I knew how much this wedding meant to Edward. He just wanted everything to be perfect. I understood that, and I just couldn't bring myself to disappoint him. Whenever I saw that hopeful smile on his face I knew there was no way I could protest.
My desire to please him didn't do much to quell my nerves, however. But Edward continued to assure me that everything would be alright, that everything would be perfect, and not to worry. I should have known that he would give me exactly what I wanted, as he always did, even if I didn't know that was what I wanted at the time.
As promised, the day of our wedding was perfect.
A sea of new faces came to congratulate me. Women of all ages came into my room—well, Edward's room, he'd gone to Jasper's to prepare—to see the bride, not caring about what state of undress I was in, but getting their kiss on the check and a polite hug with a few words of wisdom before leaving and to grab a flute of champagne.
Ah, the champagne. Thank God for the champagne. I'd had at least three glasses to calm my raging nerves. The guest list had quadrupled since the last time I'd seen it. Distant family, business associates and acquaintances from all over the world had come in for Edward's wedding and to finally see the eldest Cullen marry off.
The actual ceremony went by in a flurry of grinning faces and soft piano music. I was incredibly nervous and self-conscious as I walked down the aisle; of course I could be counted on to be the typical blushing bride. But the moment I reached Edward and took his hand, everything else around us seemed to melt away; the church, all the people watching us, and even time itself. The only significant part I remembered in detail were the vows, seeing Edward's bright green eyes light up as he said "I do", and my own quivering voice repeating his words as I slipped the gold band onto his finger.
And of course, there was the kiss.
As soon as the words were out of the priest's mouth, Edward's lips came down to meet my own. It was not an intensely passionate kiss, but it was not exactly a peck on the lips, either. Maybe we were being lude, but it was our wedding day; and if we wanted to kiss, we damn well were going to do it properly. The room spun slightly when we pulled away, and I couldn't even bring myself to concentrate on the booming round of applause, or the glowing look of unadulterated happiness on Alice's tear streaked face. The only thing I could focus on in that moment was the glorious creature in front of me, and the fact that I could stay with him, the fact that I belonged with him . . . forever.
The sound of children laughing brought me out of my memories and back to the present. I stood from my chair and collected the papers on their desks, letting them play amongst themselves for the remaining few minutes of class. Books filled their arms and I watched them form a line while waiting for the time to go home and play outside in the nice weather. I started thinking about what I myself would do once I was home, remembering how giddy and secretive Edward had been this morning, grinning and kissing me before I left and telling me not to worry about a thing.
I decided to take my time in walking home to enjoy the lovely effects of spring, the green grass and the freshly blossomed flowers. The road beneath my feet gradually disappeared behind me with each short stride towards my home. I couldn't help the smile on my face while I twirled my ring around my finger again. The cool metal was warmed by the time I made it back to the manour.
The wrought iron gates were open wide and the carriages that usually littered the entryway were gone as well. The large wooden door was unlocked and slightly ajar. Rose petals were spaced evenly one by one flowing up each of the front steps. I smiled and removed my shawl before deciding to follow the petal of petals that would inevitably lead me to Edward.
The manor was equally as desolate inside, which was unusual. I followed the fragrant path as it lead me through the foyer and up the main staircase, one petal placed delicately upon each individual step. I strained my ears to hear any sort of noise from upstairs, knowing that he was up there somewhere, waiting for me. It was at this thought that I began to take the stairs two at a time, eager to reach my destination.
My heart leaped excitedly in my chest once I reached the first floor landing and I saw the place to which those petals led: the bedroom. Our bedroom. I paused, leaning my ear to listen against the door. I heard nothing, so I gently pushed it forward and stepped inside.
The petals continued across the floor until they stopped at the foot of our large, king sized bed. The room was dark, despite the time of day. Lit candles of various shapes and sizes had been placed everywhere, spaced out evenly upon every available surface. There was an intoxicating, seductive fragrance in the air, almost spicy, like oranges and cinnamon. I couldn't help the anticipation that bubbled in the pit of my stomach.
A few more steps forward revealed a note upon on the mattress, neatly written on plain paper. Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Cullen, read Edward's beautifully scripted handwriting.
I smiled to myself. He remembered.
Two large hands placed themselves unexpectedly upon my waist, and I felt Edward's warm breath tickle softly against my ear.
"Welcome home," he whispered, placing small kisses up the side of my neck. I hummed softly in pleasure as his hands curved themselves to the shape of my waist, running gently up and down my sides. It had been too long since we had been together like this, and it had only been since this morning. Edward's arms wrapped themselves around me protectively, possessively, and I felt the rush of emotion that I always felt when he placed his hands over the small bump of my abdomen.
"How are my loves today?" he whispered, rubbing his hands soothingly over my slightly rounded belly.
"Alright," I sighed, leaning my head back on his shoulder. "My feet hurt a little."
Edward didn't respond, but shifted his weight so that he could place an arm under me, and lifted me up so that I was cradled in his arms. Even with the weight I had gained, he still held me as I weighed nothing. He placed me carefully down onto the bed, and immediately went to work at removing my shoes.
"Well, we can't have that," he murmured, taking his time in peeling off my stockings. I shivered as the cool air hit my exposed flesh; it was a remarkably pleasant sensation. Edward's large hands wrapped themselves around my tired, swollen feet, his thumbs pressing into my throbbing arches. I leaned back with my eyes closed and sighed contentedly. It wasn't long before my entire body was relaxed; Edward gave the best massages.
My eyes were still closed when I felt him shift on the bed so he could crawl up towards me. I opened them to find his absurdly handsome face staring down at me, looking at me with that sort of gentle reverence he always seemed to hold in his expression lately.
"Thank you," I whispered.
He reached up to brush the stray hair away from my forehead, caressing my face with the gentlest of touches, and then leaned down to press our lips together. He handled me so carefully lately, as if I were the rarest of china, or a fragile piece of delicate glass.
My fingers twisted themselves into that bronze crop of hair that I loved so much while his hands explored my body in kind. I felt no embarrassment as he lifted my dress above my head, no longer self-conscious of my largely distorted frame. Despite the fact that I was round and bloated, Edward still made me feel like the most devastatingly attractive woman in the world. He would always see me that way, and that was all that mattered. I could feel it in the way he touched me.
Edward took his time in worshipping my body. His mouth lavished attention upon every available inch of skin, lingering on those more sensitive places, while his hands explored every surface, line and curve. Our mouths melded together in kiss after passionate kiss, tongues brushing and lips sucking and chests heaving, breaking away from each other for nothing except to breathe periodically. Even then, it was a reluctant separation. This continued uninterrupted until my lips parted in a silent gasp, moved as I always was by the feeling of him sliding into me slowly, seating himself deep inside of me so we could make love gently around our unborn child.
Truth be told, we had never intended to get pregnant; at least, not so soon. Though it was a miracle it had not happened sooner. I had never considered the possibility of becoming a mother, although I had never considered the possibility of falling in love and getting married until it happened, either. Alice had been absolutely overjoyed when I told her the news, as I knew she would be. I, on the other hand, was a complete nervous wreck, frantic over Edward's possible reaction.
Of course, he exceeded all of my expectations. If I had thought Edward to be a loving, devoted, husband, it was nothing compared to the enthusiasm with which he embraced fatherhood. Then again, I never had any doubts that Edward would be a wonderful father.
It was strange for me to think back on how much my life had truly changed. It was almost impossible to believe that I could truly be this happy; that my life could be so completely and so thoroughly filled. The painful memories of that dark place from which I had come were paled considerably in comparison to the overwhelming sense of contentment I now felt.
There were some scars that would never fully heal, but I knew that they would fade in time. And although I would never be reunited with my own family, or with my mother, I knew now that I had found a new family, somewhere I belonged. I had found two caring sisters in Alice and Angela, wonderful brothers in Emmett and Jasper, and the love of my life in Edward. Even Rosalie fit into that happy picture somewhere.
My children, and even my children's children, would grow up having all of the things which I had gone without for so long. They would be well cared for in all of the necessary ways; they would have food and clothing and an education and all of the things which the Cullen's extensive fortune had to offer. But they would also have unconditional love, and a family to care for them. It was realizations like this that made me realize how much I was truly blessed. No one on earth had more to be thankful for than I had now.
When you've lived like I have, you learn that hope is not always void of reason, just small blessings in disguise. And not a day goes by that I don't silently thank the heavens for making me one of those rare and lucky few upon whom fortune has smiled.
A/N: Before anyone asks. No. Sequal.
However there will be extras, so keep an eye out.