I own neitherTwilight, nor Carlisle. And I was just kidding about what I said before—I decided that I'm not quite ready to return him yet, so Carlisle will be staying with me...for-ev-ver. If you need to get ahold of him, you know where he'll be... ;)
All hail the beta of fuckawesomeness, bananapancakes07. I couldn't do without you, in any way.
Author's Notes to follow this brief Epilogue.
Though I couldn't remember much of my own views on the subject while I was human, it had been all too easy to glean an understanding of the ephemeral perspective after living amidst them for over two centuries. Most mortals viewed time as a sort of horizon, its end entirely incomprehensible and unknown—but to which they could see an end. It was a thing they owned, with which they had the privilege of wasting, spending, or making good use.
However, as vampiric beings beyond the constraints of life and death, most of our kind saw time as the very atmosphere in which we subsist—we could look up into the cerulean, temporal skies and see no end, no fixed boundaries. Our world was only limited by our fixed location within it, which was usually as changeable as the winds and weather. Little did we depend upon past, sequential happenstance for making future decisions—each event is seen as entirely independent from the last, every chapter in the story a brand new beginning in and of itself, wholly without context.
But I had never been allowed such a mundane perspective on our existence—such a perception had always seemed utterly ridiculous, and that was before anyone else had taken up a permanent residence within my heart. Time was something of which the humans in my care were in desperate want, and it was a commodity that I could not afford to take lightly, as little as I needed it. I was richly endowed in hours and breaths, though I possessed not the power to give them as much as I wished.
This one moment was rare and precious, as time lost all value to me. Rosalie's arm was wound around mine as she walked beside me slowly, every step calculated and measured. The gait was very reminiscent of her arrival with the man that now stood not twenty feet before us, at the end of the rose-strewn aisle that let to the altar—Emmett.
With a little legal maneuvering, thanks in great part to Edward's research and co-conspiring, we had managed to obtain a proper license for the two. The wedding took place precisely one year, to the day, of Emmett's rebirth into immortality.
The entire process had begun less than a week after Rosalie's discussion with Emmett, when Esme, Edward, and I had returned from the hunt to find the house smelling of sex—and Rosalie's room practically destroyed. Esme was uncomfortable with the idea of their premarital coupling—and Edward even more so, horrified at the pornographic images to which he was inadvertently exposed—and she demanded that the two be married at once.
"It's perfectly normal for our kind," I had assured her, thinking of our own almost-consummations before the eventual nuptials.
Esme merely huffed. "But that's the entire point of our family, Carlisle. We're trying our best to not be 'normal for our kind.' As soon as Emmett can be around humans without going into a frenzy, we're taking them to the nearest courthouse."
Of course, the very idea had sent Rosalie into a blind rage, all but demanding to have, at least, what Esme had been afforded—if not much greater. I almost wished that she did not know of my nearly limitless assets, for she seemed to take the wedding as a "no expenses barred" operation, designing the entire ceremony to be one of the grandest spectacles of which I had ever seen.
Yet, it had all been more than worth it once I saw Rosalie emerge in her wedding gown; this time, the exact opposite of the vengeful specter that had seen the demise of several men. She was indescribably gorgeous—dazzling, even—and a pure and true queen in her own right as she walked to meet me at the doors. She took my arm calmly, though I could sense her nervousness and immediately brought my dear daughter into a tight embrace. Her shoulders shook with light sobs as she pressed her cheek against my shoulder.
I held her for several moments as she whispered to me of how long she had wanted this—how she had never thought it would be possible. Esme watched from beside us with her own silent, invisible tears before she proceeded to the front as Edward began the music on the piano. No one but our family was present, but it was not for the public eye that this ceremony was held: it was a private celebration of thanksgiving for the blessing of love and healing, far more than it was the dream wedding that Rosalie had always wanted—though, inarguably, that was a major contributing factor.
Pulling away from me, Rosalie looked into my eyes with her own, the gold within them shining brighter than I had ever seen it. She whispered a small phrase, voice heavy with emotion as the very inflection transformed her words into the perfect replication of those from a year before.
Though she didn't know it, the privilege of walking my daughter down the aisle was something for which I could never be grateful enough. After placing a firm kiss to her forehead as I gave her one, final hug, she took my arm. The doors opened as Edward seamlessly segued into the processional, and Rosalie was no longer aware of anyone but Emmett—and from his wide-eyed, gaping look, I doubted he was even troubled by the bloodlust he must be feeling at the minister's close proximity.
Rosalie tugged firmly on my arm, as we apparently weren't walking quickly enough, though I remained steady. I understood the impossible longing within oneself when your lover was within sight, but not within reach. Feeling Esme's gaze on me, I looked up and to the left to see her smiling back at me, more beautiful than she had ever been to me— though, the sentiment always grew stronger with every time I laid eyes on her. Her joy amplified my own, and I felt as though I might burst.
As I placed Rosalie's hand within Emmett's, proudly stating, in a voice thick and husky with emotion, that it was I who gave her away—and it felt as though I truly was. The two were undeniably private in their lives, even as Emmett connected us all in some mysterious way, and I was terribly afraid they might choose to leave us and venture out on their own. Much discussion had surrounded the subject upon the decision to leave Tennessee and move to Hoquiam, Washington, an area in which I had lived for a short time during the late 1800s.
Even if Rosalie and Emmett did choose to live on their own, I would not be alone in my feelings of bereavement. Esme felt, as I did, that they were an amaranthine, irreplaceable part of our group—our family. They had both been born into this world within the sheltered arms of my and Esme's love, and for them to be beyond it left an ache that we doubted would ever subside. It was doubtful they would depart, at least for any extended period of time, for Rosalie was loathe to be without her family, and Emmett was in as much need of support as she, though for different reasons.
Even Edward was averse to the idea, as easily annoyed as he was by Rosalie. He felt, as I did, that Rosalie and Emmett were already his good friends, as well as honorary siblings. However, we both knew that we would never be without each other—his bond with me was almost as strong as Esme's; it was, in fact, stronger in many regards. He and I were cut from the same cloth, so it seemed, and we had an understanding that few could hope to equal.
As Rosalie and Emmett were declared man and wife, the bridegroom exuberantly whisking the bride into his arms and down the aisle, Esme, Edward, and I followed soon after in companionable silence. Two more lives were now united in every bond of love, both within this world and without, and as I walked home, one hand joined with Esme's and one arm around my son, I felt nothing but absolute peace.
All at once, I felt a strange sense of vertigo as the immortal perspective clashed with the transient. It was all so similar, yet so novel—as though, for the first time, I could see the Earth turning in a perfect dance with Time, each step foreknown and perfectly executed by both partners as the music of life floated around them in all its strivings and laughter. All my memories washed over me, both ancient and recent, and I couldn't help but feel as though I was living every single one of them, right then, though I remained lost in the microscope of the moment.
It was dizzying and grounding—and Edward's arm firmly wrapped around my shoulders as he, too, was overwhelmed.
Almost three hundred years had passed since my first breath on the earth, over one hundred thousand days of merely existing, remaining the same even as I learned and grew as a physician. And it had taken only seventeen years—six thousand days—to completely change my life, the presence of four other souls, each one now as dear and precious to me as my own, irrevocably and thoroughly transforming me into a new creature altogether.
Had it really been my decision, in the beginning, a conscious resolution to commence this journey by promising to save Edward, our prodigal son? Or, perhaps, had there been a greater purpose in my existence written before I had even been born as a human? My compassion, anomalous in a world of indifferent, instinctual egocentricity and animalistic savagery, seemed only to evolve into a new sort of characteristic, almost unheard from the tongue of vampires—
With this small, yet unquestionably powerful entity brought into this endless existence by inheritance, I could already see the new life it had created—Edward, Esme, Rosalie, and now Emmett were all part of a new breed altogether: with each unnecessary breath, every gratuitous blink and restless fidget, our choices were transforming us into creatures this earth had yet to see—a reclamation of lost souls, embodied in a group of immortals existing betwixt the transient and the everlasting.
So it seemed, after all, that any physical power that I possessed had been insufficient to save any of them in the manner I had intended. It was in my release of power that progress was made, in any regard—as I learned from the young woman from Ashland, who was destined to be my eternal, perfect match. There was something at work, beyond my individual strivings, that was greater than any of us—it was all of us. In any division, we were helpless to grow and change; it was only in our union—above the melee and imbroglio that was certain to surround us forever in this ever-changing world—that we would find the strength to meet the challenges and accomplish things yet undone.
We had transcended being a coven, for they were mainly a source of security for their members. It was not necessity or want of strength in numbers that bound us, but our resounding love. We were now a family, in every definition. Although I had begun as the ultimate director of my world, in control of even the minutest detail of my daily life, I was now surprised at the peace I found in being simply one of many contributors—and whatever the future would bring, never would the decisions lie solely in my powerless hands.
Never again to be alone—upheld forevermore, empowered by those I love.
*pauses for "Awwwww."*
Okay, now onto the Final Notes!
Some of you have inquired as to the validity of the "tear" analogy from the last chapter: yes, it is all true. In fact, I had to do evenmore research than before in order to make sure Carlisle wasn'ttoo far ahead of his time in knowledge. For it wasn't until after the 1950s that knowledge about chemical composition became available, thanks to advances in technology.
And here's a little something from me and Carlisle to really drive his point home: tears contain DNA, which further proves the point that, with every tear you shed, you arereally leaving a piece of yourself here. I know I'm shedding several of my own pieces of evidence right now.
I almost wrote "The End" at the end, jokingly of course, but Carlisle didn't find it amusing—he merely stated it would be contradictory to the rest of the chapter's through-line. And really, this isn't the end for Carlisle and the gang. It's like the Neverending Story for them, only without flying luck dragons. So, if you feel saddened by the lack of Edward's fulfillment, I would encourage you to go read "Twilight" again. As I told some of you in replies to reviews, I really hope this story will shed new light on the events of the series. I wanted to fill in places I felt were unanswered questions or plot holes, and give even deeper meaning to phrases (Really—how many of you aren't thinking, "Man—Edward really did wait a long time for Bella!"?)
There is now a sequel to this story, entitled, "Immortal Emancipation." It details the arrival of Jasper and Alice…and, of course, we hear more about the Cullen's colorful history. Check it out on my profile.
I now have Several Dedications…
To my faithful readers (both known and unknown): A fanfiction isn't made simply because someone writes the words. It takes a supportive group of readers (a village, if you will) to turn those strokes of darkness upon light into a story—something known, anticipated, and loved.
Particularly to those who have been with me (some, almost from the beginning!), constantly reviewing and sharing your amazing perspectives, you have become like dear friends. I will miss hearing from you with each update. Over the course of the year (can you believe it took that long to write?!), I have poured much of myself and my experiences into this tale and the characters within them, and you have always accepted them with open arms.
Indelibly, indubitably, and in all other ways, my heart is overflowing with thankfulness.
To locqua, without whom this story would have not even formed: your educated eye and dear friendship was an honor, truly. I cannot thank you enough for your support and guidance in the early stages, as I dusted off the right side of my brain and oiled my typing digits. Long happy hours squining over Twilight and laughing at life are memories that I will always hold dear! Thank you for your inspiration, and for who you are.
And to bananapancakes07, without whom this story would not have finished: Dearest Friend, even with my great love for etymology, I have not the words to adequately express how much your presence in my life, "on the page and off," has made a permanent impression in my heart. Though it seems silly to say it, I feel as though this whole story may have been a mere plot device, in the grand storyline of life, to bring us together. I couldn't ask for a better beta, friend, or kindred spirit. You've made me feel as Carlisle stated in his final parting line, and I truly thank God every day for the mere privilege of knowing you.