Disclaimer: I don't own anything that SM owns but the universe she created owns me.
Lillie... I have no words. Thank you.
When I was human, Edward used to tell me that vampires were easily distracted and time passed quickly for them. I never really understood that but looking back on the last few years, I understand it much better. Twenty-five years have passed since our battle with the Volturi.
The first year was spent at the house in Alaska. Heidi and Felix stayed with us, deciding to adopt our lifestyle and become a part of our family. They were a wonderful addition and easily adapted to being 'vegetarian' vampires. They even let Alice plan a big wedding for them. It was fun to watch someone else squirm while Alice obsessed over wedding plans. The good news was that we didn't have to have a meal catered because there were no humans there. Rosalie, Gianna, and I were bridesmaids and Alice was Heidi's matron of honor. It was a lovely wedding. Edward even let them use our chateau for their honeymoon.
Garrett stayed with us for a while, but eventually he took off on his own again. He wasn't prone to staying in one place for such a long period of time. He still drops in on us occasionally and is a true friend in every sense of the word. We are always thrilled when he shows up.
Gianna's change went very well and she and Marcus also adopted the vegetarian lifestyle. They stayed with the Denali family for a few years but finally decided to go their own way. They have kept in touch with both the Denalis and us. It has been so refreshing to see Marcus with happiness in his life again. It's made the whole of the battle seem worth it that a few were able to walk away and live their own version of happily ever after.
Athenodora and Sulpicia were initially quite angry that their mates had been killed. There was a period of time when we thought they might move against us, but Demetri, as promised, went to them and took care of the problem. He never really divulged how he convinced them to leave us alone, but he managed to convince them that going against us was not a good idea and that they were better off without Caius and Aro. Demetri has proven himself a true friend, besides the fact that he and Kate are so enamored with each other that they have eyes for no one else. They decided not to marry in the traditional sense, but are mated for life. Alice was disappointed that she wouldn't get to plan their wedding but she has dealt with it.
Vladimir and Stefan held to their promise of not attempting to become overly powerful. The vampire world has been very quiet for a long time. Although we wondered when some tragedy would befall vampiredom, we enjoyed the solace of the quiet years.
Charlie still lives in Forks and is still the chief of police there. When my eyes finally turned from burgundy to golden, Alice got me some contacts and we all made a journey to Forks. Charlie seemed to be a bit shocked by my appearance and the changes in me, but in true Charlie fashion, he didn't ask many questions. Mostly he was happy to see me and I was happy to see him. Being in his house felt very foreign to me, but at the same time, it felt like home. Although I have my journals and all of Edward's memories, everything else from my human life has slowly slipped away. I finally went through a period of grieving for my human life after we visited Charlie, but it didn't last long. Edward has always been able to make me feel better and that was no different. I've often felt badly that Charlie was alone, but he didn't seem to mind it. I never saw Charlie more proud than he was the day that Edward and I graduated from Dartmouth, which is where we went as soon as we were sure that I wasn't going to kill anyone.
Edward and I took all of our classes at Dartmouth together and both received degrees in Art History. After our wonderful college experience, all of us kids got together and approached Carlisle asking if we could forego spending years in high school from then on. Going back to high school repeatedly seemed like nothing short of torture to me so Carlisle agreed that we would all do college instead. Sometimes, however, we just don't do anything but enjoy life, and those are the best times we have.
After our visit with Charlie, we knew that we had to do something about Renee. She and Phil were still in Jacksonville but Phil had finally given up trying to be a major league baseball player. He had a knee injury that helped his decision along. He had moved from player to coach and was an assistant coach of the minor league team he had been playing for. Edward suggested that once we got settled in our house in Hanover, near Dartmouth, we fly Renee up to see us, so that was what we did. Renee was not quite so easy to convince as Charlie was, but she was accepting. She asked a lot of questions that Edward and Carlisle did a wonderful job of explaining away with my illness. Finally, she decided to stop asking questions and enjoy her visit. If there was anything I was thankful for, it was that I didn't have to give up my parents and they didn't have to grieve for my death. Even though I didn't see either of them often, I was able to talk to them and tell them all of the wonderful things that I had been able to see and do. I felt sad that someday I would have to mourn their deaths knowing that I would be eighteen forever. I've always known that they both questioned why none of the Cullens, including myself, ever aged, but they were both smart enough to keep that particular question to themselves. I was thankful because otherwise, I would not have been able to see them at all after a few years.
Wonderfully, Edward and I had been able to purchase a number of items from the antique dealer in Seattle that had originated with Edward's parents' estate. It was one of Edward's happiest moments when we returned to his childhood home in Chicago and restored it using several items that had belonged to his parents. Esme had been a great help with that and we used the house as our home base in Chicago. It never ceased to amaze me how many houses we owned. It seemed that anywhere we went, we had a house that we could all call home.
The best times were the times we spent in France at Chateau de Bella. It was a favorite escape for everyone in the family. Rosalie was green with envy the first time we all visited and wanted Emmett to buy her a palace and name it after her. Emmett had found that rather hysterical and poor Rosalie became the butt of many of his jokes, but in the end, he gave in and bought her a castle in Scotland. Of course, he named it Castle Rosalie and renovated it into a fabulous palace that we all enjoyed. But, Edward and I preferred the south of France to anywhere and spent as much time as we could at the chateau.
About two years after Jacob's death, Nara had met and fallen in love with a wonderful man. He had married her and was helping to raise Jacob's son, whom she had named Jacob Edward Black. I had wondered how Edward would take the news of Jacob's child being named after him, but giddy is the most appropriate word I can think of to describe his reaction. A few years later, she bore her new husband a daughter whom she named Sarah Isabella. Sarah for Jacob's deceased mother, and Isabella for me. I was honored to say the least.
Per our decision after Jacob's death, we had set up a trust fund for Nara and little Jacob. When she remarried, we decided to continue the trust fund. Nara's new husband had a good job, and though they would not need the money to live on, there would be more than enough for them to send both Jacob and Sarah to college when they grew up. Those two children would never want for anything and it made Edward and me exceedingly happy that we were able to do that for them.
Nara was not fooled by the anonymity of the trust fund. She insisted on staying in touch with us via email and regularly emailed us pictures of both children along with updates about their lives. We had been able to watch them both grow up from afar and see that although Jacob's death was a tragedy, we were able to do something good that would not take his death away or make it right, but make it somehow easier for Nara and her son. We asked Nara not to tell the children about us, either what we were, or where the money came from, and she reluctantly agreed and honored our request. Edward and I were both proud to be an anonymous part of their lives.
When Jacob Edward graduated from college with his degree in pre-med a couple of years ago, Edward and I were there in the shadows, watching with pride at his accomplishments. We knew that he was destined for great things and that his first college graduation was only the initial step towards his life. He is now studying medicine at Johns Hopkins University and will make a tremendous surgeon someday. Sometimes I think that Edward is jealous.
Almost all of the Quileute wolves have stopped phasing and are living their various lives out. Leah even found a mate and is happy. Sam and Emily married and have two children. Several members of the pack have kept in touch with us over the years via email. Fortunately, neither of us have ever had to call upon the others for help again. The house in Alaska, along with all the land, now belongs to Nara and the tribe jointly. They were all very appreciative of us letting them use our land to bury their boys and for allowing them to have it when we left. I believe they have taken full advantage of using it for a vacation home and have made it somewhat of a 'timeshare', all taking turns going there.
Seth is the only one of the Quileute that still phases occasionally. The reason for that, we believe, is all the time he has spent with us over the years. While he was young, he spent every summer and every spring break with us that he could. Seth and Edward basically adopted each other as brothers. Edward attempted several times to convince Seth that he needed to quit coming around us so he could quit phasing, but Seth always said that he would rather phase occasionally and spend time with us than never see us. Edward finally gave in on the condition that Seth let us send him to college, which we did. He owns his own construction business now and is making an excellent living. He has put his MBA to good use and makes superior business decisions. We still see him at least twice a year and he is still as endearing as he has always been.
Emmett has permanently taken his place as my big brother and no longer teases me endlessly. Of course, that's because he knows that if he teases me and makes me mad, I won't let him play in my invisible world. We've played some wonderful practical jokes on everyone in the family except for Alice because she always 'sees' us coming. I think Emmett likes being invisible more than I do. I know one thing, had I known before, and if I could have chosen, I would have chosen invisibility. It's been invaluable in so many ways. Edward and I frequently go to tourist spots rain or shine. Rain, we go as we are, shine, we go invisible. I've also learned that I can make anything invisible as long as I'm touching it. I wish someone would have taken a picture of Esme's face the day I made the entire house vanish right before her eyes. Emmett's idea… of course.
Looking back over the past twenty-five years, it's hard to believe that we haven't had any crazed vampires trying to kill us, no tragedies, nothing but happiness, but that's what we've had. I find that I love Edward even more with each passing year and we've had some of the most amazing experiences together. I look forward to many more as we continue our lives through eternity together, just as it should be.
As soon as I knew that I could take Bella anywhere without concern about her killing humans, I took her back to the chateau so that we could finish our honeymoon that was so rudely interrupted. It was so amazing in so many ways. One of our side trips was to Paris, of course. There was a lot of Paris that I had not been able to show Bella and I had a mission. I had wanted Bella to see Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower through my eyes so I made it happen. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives and I was so happy that I did it.
The hardest part of my plan had been to convince the authorities to let me rent the Eiffel Tower out for a private viewing, but after the appropriate amount of convincing, and a large number of Euros, they allowed it. When we stepped out of the elevator onto the viewing platform at the top, Bella's breath had been taken away. It brought back her memory of seeing it as a human, but it was also a very new experience to see it through vampire eyes. We spent the entire night up there looking at Paris from every angle and seeing all the details that humans could never even dream of seeing. We stood with our arms around each other and watched the sunrise together. It was one of the most beautiful moments of our collective lives. The suns rays were touching the cathedral of Notre Dame and we were both reminded of the chimera that watched over the city. I'll never forget the words that were spoken between us that morning.
"Edward, look, the chimera," she had said, pointing at them in the distance. I had torn my eyes away from her just long enough to see the very same chimera that had prompted my prayer years before lit up by the yellow-orange light of the sun.
"That was where you first convinced me that there was still a chance that I had a soul, Bella." Her loving eyes had turned and studied my face briefly.
"I never had any doubt that you had a soul because I could see it from the first time we met, and it's a beautiful soul, Edward. I was meant to find you, Edward… meant to make you realize you had a soul. I've always believed, and still do, that God gave us to each other. You were made for me, and I was made for you."
"Before we met, I wasn't sure that I believed in God, but looking back on our years together now, I know, Bella, that you're right. Why else would I have saved myself for ninety years other than for the simple reason that I was waiting for you? When you came into my life, you completed me. God did, indeed, bring us together, and no matter what happens from now on, I will never be convinced otherwise, my Bella, my angel, my love, my savior."
We were different that morning when we left the Eiffel tower. We had finally spoken aloud a truth that we had both known all along. When the odds had been stacked against us, we had always prevailed because we had always depended on our love for each other. No one and nothing had ever been able to keep us apart. Our destinies, our very souls, had been intertwined in fate before either of us were even born. It wasn't chance or coincidence, it was divine intervention. One thing had never, and would never, waver between us, and that was the intense, overwhelming love that we shared for one another. Marcus had told us on more than one occasion that our relationship was different than any other he had ever seen. He had never seen a bond as strong as the one between Bella and me. Bella and I are destined for great things someday. Neither of us know what, but we know that we are. God would not have gone to all the trouble of creating us and bringing us together without having plans for us sometime in the future. Until those plans revealed themselves, and they would, Bella and I would simply enjoy the great gift we had been given. Each other.
It's sunset, almost twilight, our favorite time of day. Bella and I are standing on the balcony outside of our bedroom at Chateau de Bella. The light from the setting sun twinkles on the water of the Mediterranean Sea looking like so many diamonds sprinkled across the vast ocean before us. We can hear the sounds of our family in the background. Emmett and Rosalie are tinkering with my Lamborghini. The words spoken between them are words of love and acceptance. Alice and Jasper are in their study. Alice is helping Jasper choose stocks to buy and Jasper is projecting his love and affection onto her. Esme and Carlisle are in the living room sitting next to each other on the couch, each reading, but with their hands intertwined. Heidi and Felix are down on the beach looking for seashells, walking hand in hand, stopping occasionally to gaze into each other's eyes and share a kiss or embrace.
As for Bella and me, we are sharing the vision of the sunset through our mental connection, which is hardly ever closed now. Neither of us enjoys the empty feeling we get when the other one is not in our mind. It's comforting to hear all of Bella's thoughts as though they were my own, and by listening to her thoughts, I know she feels the same way. One of the benefits that has come from our connection is that we have learned that Bella can block the other voices that I hear in my mind. It took a while to get used to not reading everyone else's mind against my will, but after a few years, I've grown to enjoy not having to listen to the endless drivel.
The sun is finally slipping below the horizon and the first stars are beginning to appear. I slip my arm around Bella's waist and she lays her head against my chest, prompting me to place a kiss on the top of her head. We stand together as twilight slips away into darkness and both of us know that, at least for now, all is right with the world. We are together and we are content and we love each other endlessly, and nothing else matters.
End Note: Please review. It's been a wonderful journey. Thanks.