Disclaimer - Twilight and its related characters are the creation of Stephenie Meyer
"Thanks" can not even begin to express my gratitude to miaokuancha, you've been a guide more than a beta, and I am in your debt.
Time to say goodbye to Bella and Angelward. Thanks for coming on this little journey with me. I dedicate this to all of you, who have taken the time to read, to share your thoughts, and to believe in this little story. You have blessed me in more ways than I could ever tell.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13
The world had changed.
Everything was different now, and I was the only one that noticed. It was a colder place. The sun didn't shine the same way. There was more to fear and less to love. I guess that's what happens when there is one less angel to watch over us.
I didn't know how to go on. I had had enough practice dealing with loss. I knew how to put on a brave face, put one foot in front of the other … take one day at a time. This wasn't the same. Though I loathed to visit, there was a place, a clear spot marked with a stone where I could go to say goodbye, before.
This time, there was just loss. Total, unfathomable loss.
He was just gone.
If it had been up to me, I would be gone too. I would fade into nothing, return to dust - just the same as the feathers from his wings. That was my wish when I curled up on his bed.
What I hadn't counted on was being carried back to my own apartment in the arms of another angel.
Jasper had carried me home.
He didn't speak as he walked. He barely looked at me. He seemed to already know what had happened. I wanted to ask, but I didn't. Hearing Jasper say the words aloud would make them real, and I wasn't certain I could handle that.
He set me down on my couch. I curled into a ball and pulled the blanket on top of me. My intention was to slip back into my memories. Instead, Jasper pulled the blanket off of me and told me to sit up.
He hadn't spoken any other words to me, and then to demand I get up, when it was an effort just to keep breathing?
"I said you need to get up. Alice told me to tell you to keep walking. She said you can't give up."
Alice had told me that. She had told me that I had to have faith in the destination. She said you had to keep moving forward, even when things seemed impossible.
I regarded him for a moment. I wondered why he had carried me home. I wondered where Alice was. But more than all of that I wondered how he expected me to have any faith left.
"I remember what Alice said. I just don't know how I can. I saw those things take him. He is gone, Jasper. He is gone, because of me. He was everything that is good, and he gave that up to give me life. I'm not worth it. He should be here and I should be gone. There is no justice in this, no balance. Alice told me I would have to believe, she said I had to have faith when things seemed impossible. The problem is, I can't. I believed in Edward They took my faith when they took him."
Jasper didn't say anything right away. Part of me hoped he would just leave without saying more, hoped he would walk away and leave me to my despair.
"You're wrong. You are worth it. Edward saw that, and that was why he did what he did. I have faith, Bella. I have faith in Alice. Faith in what she can see, faith in the way that she believes that good will always win out over evil, that love will always conquer. If Alice said you have to keep moving forward then you have to. If you give up, everything that Edward sacrificed, everything he will suffer will be in vain."
Edward would suffer. I thought of the Atoners. I had the audacity to think I couldn't go on, yet he would endure suffering at their horrible hands. Jasper was wrong, I wasn't worth this.
He reached out and rested his hand on my arm.
As soon as he made contact my body was flooded with feeling. The feeling of my mom tucking me into bed when I was small. The feeling of lying in the sun on a perfect summer day. The feeling of my dad telling me he was proud of me when I brought home straight 'A's. The feeling of star shine on a clear night. The feeling of being wrapped in Edward's arms, his feathered wings cocooning me from the outside world. The feeling of endless promise and possibility. The feeling that tomorrow the sun would shine and the world would still be turning.
It was the feeling that I could go on.
"What did you do?"
"You needed courage for the battle ahead. I'm an Angel of Valor, Bella. That is what I do. You might not have to pick up a weapon and fight for your life, but you're still going to have to fight. And you must. Take what I was able to give you and let it help you to be strong."
I rose from the couch, overwhelmed by the amount of resolve that I suddenly felt.
My eyes fell on a red stain spreading along the sleeve of Jasper's shirt. He grimaced as he pulled the sleeve back to reveal a jagged gash that was bleeding freely.
"It's balance, Bella. I have to pay. I gave strength to you, so something needs to be taken away. You have paid, Edward is paying. Balance will be restored. You just have to find the way."
And then he was gone. No farewell. No further sage words. Just two little drops of crimson on the floor where he had stood.
His blood looked just like mine.
I did the only thing I could think of then. I prepared myself for battle. Bolstered by Jasper's strength, I tried to find the way.
I sat down with a notebook and wrote down every detail I could remember about Edward. I wrote down what he looked like and tried to capture his heavenly scent in words. I jotted down the things we spoke about, the places we went together. Everything I could recall was added as I created an account of our all too brief time together. It proved useful in the days to come.
As the days passed, reality seemed to shift around me. There was the day I decided to visit Edward's apartment, only to find that it was inhabited by a family I had never seen before. I had knocked, and a middle-aged woman opened the door. I rechecked the number. I even asked her about Edward. To her credit, she didn't slam the door in my face or call the police, even though I am quite sure she believed I was mentally disturbed. Over her shoulder I could see bits of the apartment. It was laid out the same as Edward's had been, but it wasn't the same. The furniture, the colors, the trappings of everyday life - like magazines and laundry, all of it was different. She explained to me that she had lived in the apartment with her family for the past five years.
Five years. I had no idea how that could be possible. When I was back out on the street I walked back and forth, carefully inspecting each building, sure I had made some sort of mistake. Even if Edward was gone, Jasper and Alice still would have had the apartment. It couldn't have just disappeared, but that was precisely what happened. I sat on the steps of the building across the street. The cold of the stone beneath me seeped through my jeans. I watched the door of Edward's building, hoping for some sign or evidence that Edward, Alice and Jasper had lived there. There was no sign. I just sat and froze, for hours.
When I finally made it home, I tried to call Edward's phone. The recording that answered informed me it was a number that was no longer in service.
Armed with a hot cup of tea and a warm blanket, I sat on my bed and tried to understand what had happened. I pulled Edward's feather out from under my pillow. The scent of it had begun to fade. I closed my eyes and pictured his face. The awful sound of the Atoners' voices echoed in my ears, "It will be as if he never existed." It was already happening. The traces of Edward's existence were being erased. The fabric of my reality was unraveling.
I pulled a chair up to the sliding doors that led out to my little balcony. The sky was clear and I could make out the stars even though they were dimmed by the lights of the city. I couldn't sleep. Each time my eyes closed, thoughts of Edward tumbled past, the horror of the Atoners, the certainty that wherever he was he was suffering for my sake.
I wondered if I should go to church, or pray. Would it help at all? Would these prayers, like so may others I had uttered in my life, fall again on deaf ears?
I returned to work and was surprised by Mike's friendliness. It wasn't the easy friendship we had settled into after he understood that I was with Edward. It was back to square one. He even asked if we could go out again because he'd had such a nice time on our "date".
He thought I was joking when I reminded him of Edward's arrival at the end of our awkward dinner out. It hurt too much to try and explain myself.
There was no evidence of the accident I had been involved in. The hospital had no record of my admittance. The police had no report.
I alone stood firm as the world changed around me.
Each night I sat in my bed and read over all the things I had written about Edward. I tried as hard as I could to remember everything. The only problem was that the more I read the words, the more they began to feel like a story, instead of events that had really happened in my life.
The idea of balance became my obsession. I lay in my bed remembering a time when I stood on a cliff, high above the ocean. As I had looked down into the churning water, death was both a wish and a fear inside of me. When I'd reached the shore after my ungraceful fall into the water, I'd promised myself I would never treat my life so carelessly again. Now, I was seriously rethinking that promise.
If a life could pay for a life, could I free Edward by giving up mine? It would be easy. How easily had I broken when that van crushed my body? A human was fragile, as breakable as a glass shattering on the floor.
As I fell asleep that night, I was certain death sang a quiet lullaby from the corner of my room.
In the morning I felt heavy, as if the weight of the world surrounded me. The last vestiges of strength that Jasper had granted were gone. I wanted to honor Edward by obeying his wish that I fight what the Atoners had whispered in my mind about forgetting him. I wanted to keep walking and keep faith as Alice had instructed me. The problem was that I had gone as far as I could go. There weren't any more paths to choose. I felt like I was standing at a brick wall that extended infinitely in all directions and someone expected me to get to the other side. I needed a miracle. I needed a sign. I needed something to ground me and help me to know that all wasn't lost.
Sometimes those silent prayers for help are answered. In my case, they were answered by a lovely angel sitting on the edge of my tub, knitting a scarf.
I had trudged to the bathroom to get ready for my day, and nearly tripped over Alice as she sat, silently working. I gasped in surprise and then flung myself at her in joy. When I could no longer take the discomfort of the knitting needle jabbed into my ribs, I ended the hug. That was also when I realized how odd it was for her to be sitting in my bathroom knitting. Her appearance itself wasn't that odd. I had seen Edward dissipate into thin air, and Jasper as well. What I was confused about was the timing of her visit, and the knitting, and her chosen location.
As if she anticipated these very questions, she began to speak.
"I figured this would be your first destination in the morning, so I decided to set up camp here."
"How come I haven't seen you? Where have you been? I went to the apartment, but someone else lives there. Everything feels wrong."
"It feels wrong because it is wrong. It won't be for long, though. Jasper and I aren't supposed to interfere. You are supposed to do this on your own. The only problem is that I see what you have been thinking about, and that isn't the way balance works. If you were to take your life, more scales would be thrown out of balance. You can't think things like that. Life is precious. If spending time with Edward taught you anything, it should have been that."
I felt ashamed. In the dark and quiet of night, those thoughts seemed much more rational. In the light of day, they were shown for what they really were, a cowardly way out.
"That's a lovely scarf you're making." I gestured to the piece she was knitting, hoping to shift the focus away from the awful choices I'd been considering.
"Thanks. I'm making it for Jasper. He doesn't get cold, but sometimes he likes to wear a scarf in the winter."
She knit a few more rows as I watched. Her fingers moved with speed and skill. The needles made a slight clacking noise as she worked.
"May I show you something?" She said, gesturing me closer to the piece she held in her hands.
I leaned in to get a closer look.
It was charcoal gray with red and blue stripes every three or four inches. It was nice enough.
"If I was only concerned about being warm, do you think it would matter much what kind of pattern I made on here?"
"No, I guess not." I said.
"If that was the case, I could just knit this up really quickly and be done with it in a few hours. Right?"
I smiled at her, knowing another important lesson was being worked out in front of me.
"But what if half-way through, I decided that I wanted this to be warm and beautiful? What if I decided to go back and change something?"
She began unraveling several inches of the scarf. The yarn pulled easily away from the unfinished item.
"Sometimes, if you're careful, you can make it so that everything is even more beautiful than before. Sometimes you can go back, and by changing the place of one string, you can change it all."
She began knitting again, and she worked so quickly that her fingers were a blur. To my amazement, there was a new design apparent on the scarf. Red and blue angel wings on a gray background.
She regarded the change with satisfaction and then whispered to herself, "Maybe I will give this to someone else instead."
"Do you see, Bella? Once in a while we get the chance to change things, we get to go back and make a new pattern. And if we're lucky, it is even more wonderful than the first time around."
"Too bad I can't knit."
Alice laughed. "Maybe the 'we' I was referring to wasn't you, Bella. There are forces at work here that are even more powerful than angels. They are able to knit the design of humanity blind-folded, but on a rare occasion they go back and alter the pattern. I can see how perfect it will be when it is complete. It's absolutely amazing."
Her passion touched me deeply, but it didn't make many things clear.
"What am I supposed to do, though? If the Great and Powerful Oz is going to fix it all, what am I supposed to do? You told me I had to keep moving, keep making choices, keep faith. I'm trying, but what difference will it make? I don't understand."
Alice tucked her knitting into the darling little bag near her feet. She led me back to my bed and sat next to me, smiling kindly all the while.
"Jasper warned me not to confuse you. I guess I should have listened. I see things differently than everyone else, Bella. When you can see the now and the past, the future and the possible all at once, it kind of skews the way you view things. I know you are trying to make choices. I know you are fighting to make it through each day. The problem is that you aren't. The world is changing around you. You said as much. You, however, have your feet stuck in concrete. I know you are trying to hold onto Edward. The trouble is that he's already gone. If you open up your hands, you'll see that he isn't there. Stop trying
to hold on to the past. If you let it go, if you allow it - the past might just wind up in your future."
And with that, she was gone - yarn, scarf and all. No goodbye. No more sage words of advice.
In many ways I felt like I was back to square one. Should I do what Edward said, and fight the tide that threatened to wash me away, along with every memory of him? Should I do what Alice said, and go on with my life - hoping that somehow, someway Edward will find me there?
Once again it came down to having faith.
3 Months Later -
"Bella, can you grab some more cups from the back?"
"Sure." I called back to Leah, as I headed to the supply room.
It was my third week of work at Holy Grounds. It was the same coffee shop that I had sat at with Edward, but that felt like a lifetime ago. And in many ways it was.
Leah had purchased the shop and renamed it, when I asked about the choice she told me it had to do with her Native American heritage. The irony of the new name wasn't lost on me.
I was working here each night from 6:00 until we closed at 12:00.
This was my new life. I had had to make some hard choices after my visit from Alice. She was right about me being stuck. I had been afraid that if I did anything at all, I would miss some sign from Edward. I had allowed myself to crawl back into the protective bubble that I was so used to carrying around. I'd learned from experience that that wasn't living at all. That was almost as bad as throwing my life away, and Alice was right, being with Edward had taught me that life was precious and to be valued. He'd given up his for mine, and that wasn't something I could overlook.
So I ventured out into the world, holding each sacred memory of Edward close in my heart. I started classes at the local college. I quit working at the library. I now worked at Holy Grounds, and made enough money to manage, and when I could bring myself to serve a big smile alongside the coffee - then the tips weren't bad either. There was time to study when the night was slow, and I got to bring home any leftover baked goods at the end of my shift, so all in all it wasn't a bad gig. I'd met more people in the past three months than I may have ever met in my entire life.
Despite the gaping hole of loss in my chest, occupied by not only my parents and Jacob, but Edward as well, there were still a few sparks of hope smoldering down deep inside of me. Wading back into life, finding purpose, meeting people, laughing, smiling, it was all happening. It was all happening to me.
I hadn't seen Alice or Jasper again. I didn't catch a single glimpse of Edward. But I still got up in the morning and tried to have a life. Tonight, as I grabbed the cups that Leah asked for, I wondered once again if I would ever see any of them again.
The sound of my name startled me, and the cups dropped out of my hand. I looked up, flustered, and was happy to see Esme Cullen at the counter. I hadn't seen her since I stopped working at the library, and her smiling face was a welcome treat.
"Hello, Esme. How are you? It's nice to see you."
She ordered a coffee and some pastries to go. We exchanged pleasantries as I rung up her order, and I was pleased by the genuine happiness that flooded me upon seeing her.
We said goodbye, but as she turned to leave, she looked like she had something more to say.
When she reached the door she turned and came back to the counter.
"Bella, I'm sorry, I have a question. I don't usually do things like this, but somehow, when I saw you here I just knew I had to ask. Our son is home from college for a week. He's been studying abroad. I was wondering if you might be able to come to dinner at out home tomorrow. I'd like for you to meet him."
I stood and stared a moment, a bit stunned. I had thought that Esme and her husband hadn't been able to have children. Or was this another one of those cosmic shifts I'd been experiencing for weeks? I also wondered what kind of son would be thrilled about their mom inviting random girls for dinner. I didn't know what to say, and I imagined Alice rolling her eyes as the concrete hardened around my feet again. It was amazing that I had just been in the back room patting myself on the back for living life, and now when an opportunity presented itself to me I was so ready to let it pass me by.
"I'm sorry. It was foolish of me to ask. It was nice to see you Bella. Please stop by the library and see me when you get a chance."
She began to walk away. I'd taken so long to think that she mistook my lack of response for a no.
"Esme, wait." I slipped out from behind the counter and met her. "I'd love to. I was just surprised by the invitation."
She seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. We exchanged information and she was on her way.
So the stars had aligned, and on the one night of the week that I had off, I was going to dinner at the Cullen residence - to meet a man I didn't even know existed.
When I was home later that night, munching on a slightly stale, leftover croissant, I read through the book of memories I had created about Edward. It had been three days since I'd picked the book up, the longest I'd gone without reading it. Warm butterflies invaded my stomach as I remembered what it felt like to run my fingers through his hair, the warm touch of his skin on my own, the way it felt to sleep with one of his wings draped over me protectively. And then the butterflies turned to lead and ice as I recalled the evil presence of the Atoners, Edward being bound and taken away, Edward's wings - gone.
I closed up the book, wondering if there was any possible way that Edward and I would ever find one another again. Here on earth, or in some other place. With each day that passed I felt like the likelihood of that happening was slipping through my fingers.
A little card slipped out from the pages of the book and landed on the couch next to me. I picked up the card Edward had given to me, the card that told me his phone number and that his last name was Cullen.
Cullen. The same last name as Esme and Carlisle Cullen.
A little seed began forming in my mind, and its roots were already wriggling around, digging in deep, blooming hope in my soul.
Edward Cullen. Edward, the angel whose soul arose from the love between Esme and Carlisle Cullen. I remembered Edward telling me the story, the beauty and magic wrapped up in it all.
Could there still be magic there? Could it really be that easy? Could Esme's son be Edward?
My body was nearly vibrating with excitement. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost 2:00 in the morning. I knew there was little chance of sleep tonight. I was fighting the urge to throw my clothes on and go to the Cullens' home right now. If there was even a small chance that Edward was there, I wasn't sure how I would accomplish anything else until I knew for certain.
I managed to get myself into bed, even though I knew it was a lost cause. Questions raced to my brain at an alarming rate. If it was Edward, was he human now? Why wouldn't he have come to find me? Would he remember who I was?
I opened the window, letting the cool spring air flood my room. Spring had arrived, and it had helped to see the rebirth of the earth, to see it wash over the bare trees and ground like a soothing balm. The respite from the cold gray winter had done wonderful things to my outlook on life. It had given me resolve to keep walking, to keep believing that one day I would find Edward again, to believe that the parts of my heart that were dormant would be flooded with love again one day.
When my eyelids were finally beginning to close, the last thought on my mind was a silent prayer: please, please let it be Edward.
Esme had asked me to arrive at 6:00 for dinner. I'd called the house three times today, hoping to come up with some reason to arrive earlier, or just for the chance that Edward might answer the phone. No one picked up, any of the times I called. I still found myself on the street outside Esme's home at 5:00, after having convinced myself that showing up earlier would be ridiculous, especially if it wasn't Edward.
The house was amazing, tucked on a side street in the suburbs just outside the city. It was the kind of home that any child would be lucky to grow up in. It was the kind of home that felt welcoming, even from the road. With my heart beating wildly, I walked to the door and managed to calm the shaking in my hands just enough to knock. I didn't have a good excuse for being so early, and just decided to try and come up with an explanation off the cuff if I was asked to present one.
I heard footsteps on the other side of the door and was certain that if it was Edward on the other side, I was going to fling myself into his arms and kiss him soundly for the next several hours. To my disappointment, Esme opened the door.
"Bella? I'm so glad you could make it. Come on in."
To her credit, she didn't mention how early I was, once. She simply welcomed me in, treating me like a guest of honor.
"Your home is lovely. I've never been out this way."
"Thank you. I just need to check on some things in the kitchen and then I'll give you the grand tour."
I followed her to the kitchen. It already smelled delicious. There was a large table that was set with four places. I found myself craning my neck, trying to see around corners, hoping to catch a glimpse of Esme's son. The house, however, seemed pretty quiet.
We made small talk about the library, and what we were having for dinner, and the classes I was taking. The conversation never approached the topic I was most concerned about.
When Esme was ready, she wiped her hands clean on a towel and ushered me on to see the rest of the house.
"Carlisle and Edward should be back in about twenty minutes. They're stopping to pick up dessert on their way home."
I heard nothing after the word Edward. I wanted to jump, to dance, to scream, to sing. I couldn't help the smile that completely overtook my face.
"Edward is your son?"
We had reached the living room. Over the mantle there were pictures. A picture of a little boy with untidy hair and shining green eyes. A picture of a boy in a jacket and tie, standing near a large piano, looking a bit anxious. A picture that looked pretty recent, of a young man in hockey gear holding a trophy.
They were all Edward. Each picture showing the man that I loved. Tears pricked my eyes as I eyed the photos greedily. I drank in every detail, from the little boy with the missing tooth, to the self-assured smile on the young hockey player. It was utterly impossible. A few months ago these pictures couldn't have existed, and yet here they were. He was stunning in every one, but different somehow. It wasn't just the age that threw me, it was that he didn't look exactly as I remembered Edward to be, the startling perfection of his face was softened slightly. Either way he was still heartstoppingly lovely to me, and I found myself reaching out to touch the frame of the picture nearest me.
"Yes, Edward is our son. He's been in Greece for the past two months studying ancient religion and mythology. He seemed to really enjoy his time there, but I'm just glad to have him back home."
She showed me the rest of the house, and I followed along dutifully, not really paying attention. It was impossible to think about anything other than the fact that in minutes, Edward would be walking into this house. Then perhaps I could also utter Esme's words, about being glad to have him home.
We wound up back in the kitchen and I offered to help prepare the salad. Esme left me working so she could grab the cloth napkins from the linen closet.
I counted the seconds in my head. My anticipation was mounting with each passing moment. And then I heard a car pull into the driveway and worried that I might actually pass out, which wouldn't do at all. I really wanted to be awake for my reunion with Edward.
I reminded myself to breathe as I concentrated on the lettuce and tomatoes in front of me. The knife in my hand stilled when I heard someone enter the kitchen. I placed it on the counter carefully and turned, wondering if it was simply Esme returning with the napkins.
There, right in front of me, was Edward. My Edward. And though I had thought I would throw myself into his arms, I couldn't bring myself to do anything but stare.
"Bella?" He asked, as the items in his hands fell crashing to the floor.
I approached shyly and helped him pick up the things which had fallen. He was close enough to touch now. He smelled like expensive cologne, and there was a small scar under his right eye.
"Is it really you, Edward?"
He reached out and touched my hand. I was surprised by how rough his skin was. He had the hands of a man.
Esme entered the kitchen with Carlisle. Edward quickly drew his hand back.
"I see you two have met. Bella Swan this is my son Edward. Did you pick something good at the bakery?" She gestured to the box that had just had a very unceremonious trip to the floor.
"I grabbed some kind of apple tart, I think. I hope it's still edible, I just dropped it."
Esme shook her head and carefully picked up the box, ready to examine the contents for damage.
"I'm going to show Bella some of my pictures from Greece. We have a while before dinner, right?"
I saw Carlisle and Esme exchange a quick glance of surprise and then smile.
"Go right ahead. I'll let you know when we're ready to eat."
I followed Edward out into the hall and up the stairs. I hadn't seen the upstairs of the house. He opened a door off the hall and ushered me into his bedroom. I guess some part of me expected him to have the same spare, tidy room as the angel I had known. This room was decidedly different. It wasn't untidy, but it was incredibly cluttered. There was a large stereo system, but nothing else seemed familiar. There were hockey sticks and skates shoved in a corner. A fancy laptop was lying closed on the bed. The bed was small, and I almost laughed out loud over the comforter with all the Star Wars characters printed on it.
"Don't laugh at my Star Wars blanket. Mom still thinks I'm ten, sometimes. They used to be my favorite."
I smiled at the way he said 'mom'.
The desk, nightstand and dresser all housed various books, trophies and knick-knacks. It was the accumulation of a boys life, and once again my brain wrestled with how all of this was possible.
I was brought back to the here and now when Edward spoke again.
"Bella Swan. Swan. That is really pretty. It suits you."
Did he not remember my name?
"Do you realize that when I woke up two weeks ago in Greece, the name Bella just continued to be in my mind. All day and all night. Your face, the taste of your mouth, the scent of your hair - I could recall all of those things perfectly, but I had no idea what your last name was. And that made it pretty difficult to figure out how to find you."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that the Atoners made me mortal. They turned me human and placed me on the earth and now I have this life and these memories and it all feels so strange. They did their best to erase all my angel experiences, but they couldn't completely erase you. I fought as hard as I could to keep every memory of you, and I was able to keep many - but I lost your last name, and where you live. It's been like trying to recall all the details of a dream and each moment you're awake they are harder to hold onto. I can't believe you're here. I want to hold you. I want to wrap you in my arms, but you look afraid."
I couldn't help the tears that flooded my eyes. I stopped fighting it and did what I had wanted to do for months, I wrapped my arms around Edward. Here, on earth, amidst all that life had thrown our way, we were together once again.
I was just glad to have him back home.
He wasted no time in pulling me close and I melted into him. It felt just the same as it always did to be in his arms. His hand gently caressed my hair and I nuzzled in closer. He was here, and he was real.
"I've missed you so much." I managed to squeak out.
"Nothing could keep me from you. I've been trying every day to figure out how to find you. It would have been a lot easier if I'd remembered that you knew my mom." I looked up and had to let out a little laugh at the sheepish look on his face.
He used his fingers to tip my chin back. Then his lips were on mine, and nothing else mattered. This kiss was everything. The sorrow of being parted, the joy of reuniting, the longing, suffering, hope, faith - all of it rushed through me as we embraced.
Before I fully realized what was happening, I was lying back on his bed, his full weight pushed up against me and the edge of his computer jabbing me in the side. It was too much and not enough all at the same time. His hands were edging up my shirt, and his kisses took on a new sense of urgency. When I was able to pull back slightly, I found myself gasping for air. Edward's eyes were shining with lust and for the first time since he spoke the words, I could fully understand what it would mean for Edward to be a mortal man.
I slid away. I wanted to enjoy every moment of having Edward back. I didn't want to just get swept away on emotion and let the consequences be damned. His parents were downstairs and they weren't privy to the history we shared. It wouldn't do to have his mom walking in to find us dirtying the precious Star Wars blankets.
Edward stood and walked a few steps away. When he turned, he looked ashamed.
"Wow. I am so sorry. That was kind of unexpected. I guess as an angel I had a better handle on that kind of self control. Having you close just now made everything shut down and I'm sorry to say it, but my mind went to one place and it was pretty intent on staying there."
I could understand. That was often how I'd felt around Edward. I was always hoping to touch him, or to be touched. I couldn't fault him for feelings I'd had myself.
"I hope you know how much I want you to do all the things you might have been thinking." I noted the mischievous grin that graced his lips when I spoke those words. "However, I also know that your parents are right downstairs, and that's a little weird for me. Plus, I just got you back. I have so many questions, I just need a second to process everything."
Edward sat beside me on the bed and then lay back against the pillows, pulling me with him. He cradled me next to him, and every few seconds I would feel him feathering kisses on my hair. A sigh of contentment escaped me. Even though we'd only been back together for such a brief amount of time, the wounds and weight that I'd been carrying for months were gone. Lying with him, with my body pressed to his, I was finally completely certain that nothing would come between us again.
"I should probably start at the beginning and tell you everything." His chest rose and fell with his breath and speech, and the rhythm of it soothed me.
"I woke up two weeks ago in a strange bed, dreaming of your face, and of these horrible creatures that were inflicting my body with horrible pain. I was absolutely terrified. There was another guy sharing the room with me, and I must have looked like a wreck because he ran to get me a glass of water. I was sweating and shaking, it was awful. The longer I was awake, the more I remembered. I knew my name, I knew my roommate, I had all these memories of being a child, and my parents. It was strange though, because even though I knew all of this stuff, it just didn't feel like it really belonged in my mind. I eventually fell back asleep, but over the next few days, out of nowhere, these snippets of things would come to me. I'd picture myself with wings. I'd remember kissing you. I'd see us sitting together in a little apartment, laughing over some shared joke. The name Bella kept snaking through my head. It just didn't fit together. I started to think that there was something seriously wrong with me."
He quieted and I tried to imagine what it must have been like for him. How would it feel to wake up one day in a completely different reality, while memories of your old life continued to bleed through?
"Then, I found something tucked away in the drawer of my nightstand."
He leaned up a little and reached for a little clay pot that was sitting on the windowsill above his bed. He held up the object and I waited for the rest of the story, I wasn't clear as to what the little jar had to do with anything.
"This is a miniature replica of a pithos. They were these clay jars that they used to store stuff in Ancient Greece."
I pushed myself up and my elbow and looked at him. I raised an eyebrow as if to say: 'where exactly is this story going?'
He smiled and then kissed me again. "Patience, love. I'm getting to it."
He shook the little jar and I could hear that there was something inside of it. He removed the little cork from the lid and then shook a little hair clip from the jar onto the palm of my hand. It was the hair clip that Edward had been given when he was assigned the task of balancing my life. It was the clip that had been mine when I was a child. I stared, mouth agape.
"So I was in Greece, studying ancient religion and mythology. I'm sure my mom told you. She's pretty proud of her only son."
It didn't surprise me at all that as a person, Edward would have an interest in gods, mythology, religion - anything that we use to help define and understand the divine.
"As a child, I had taken an interest in the ancient myths, and my parents made sure that I had lots of books and opportunity to study the things I liked. Are you familiar with the story of Pandora?"
"Yeah, I think so. She opened a box and let all sorts of evil stuff out into the world. Right?"
"Partly. It wasn't a box, it was a pithos." He shook the little jar in front of my eyes. "And she did let lots of bad stuff out, but she managed to trap one thing. Hope."
He picked the clip up off of my palm.
Alice had been right. The pattern had been rewoven, and it was definitely a complex design.
"I found that clip. I picked it up and all of a sudden my memories all fit together. I had been an angel. I was remade as a human. You were my task as an angel and my destiny as a man. I held that clip in my hand and I saw all of it. You were my hope. I had bought that jar as a souvenir and it just seemed the right place to store it. I knew I would find you again. I had hope that all that we had suffered would lead to here."
I turned in his arms, and wound up lying face to face with him on the small bed. His eyes swept over me, pausing on my lips. His tongue darted out and moistened his own lips. Then our lips met again, the passion and fire igniting once more. His mouth and his hands were so certain. They moved with precision, and for the first time I wondered if any of his 'human' memories included other girls. I had a feeling they might and it made me a little sad.
Edward noticed the shift in my mood and stilled his kisses.
"What's wrong? I've finally found you, but you suddenly feel far away again." His tenderness touched me.
"It's nothing. I just found myself wondering how many other girls have fallen for you. How many had you kissed, maybe even loved?" I hated the sound of my voice. I was ruining our reunion by pouting like a baby.
He put a hand to his face and I thought that I upset him with my petty accusations. Then I realized that he was shaking, overcome with a bout of nearly silent laughter.
When he pulled his hand away, he was still laughing and his eyes were tearing up. When he had calmed down enough to talk he asked, "Are you serious?"
I nodded in affirmation.
"You sweet, silly, oversensitive girl. You can't imagine how much I love you. There was never anyone else. Not even in these memories that I now have in my mind. In fact, there was a complete lack of girls in general. What I do know is that my parents have worried about it a lot. They wonder if there is something wrong with me, or if I am just a really late bloomer. To be honest, you aren't the first girl they have tried to nudge my way. That's part of the reason I didn't get too excited about whoever was coming to dinner. Mom tries to be subtle but she rarely succeeds. In all honesty, even though I know it isn't going to happen, they would probably throw a party if they came up here and realized we were going at it."
I smacked his arm. "Edward!"
"What? You asked. You had to have caught the look they gave each other when I said you were coming up to look at my pictures from Greece. Like I said, mom's not real good about the subtle thing."
I squirmed my way closer to him and kissed the tip of his nose. "I'm glad there weren't any other girls."
He smiled and let out a little sigh. I studied his face, realizing I needed to rememorize it in its slightly altered human form. I ran my fingers over the stubble at his chin. His eyes were the same, as bright and sparkling as before. My gaze came to rest on the little scar below his eye.
"How did you get this?" It felt so odd to find it necessary to relearn the person you were in love with.
"I took the end of a hockey stick to my face. I was lucky it didn't break my cheek bone. I had a really nasty cut and bruises."
I kissed the scar, my eyelashes grazing over the skin of his cheek.
Somehow, as we lay there, we'd become intertwined. Our arms and legs wound round each other. It was effortless, being here with him. It didn't seem possible that any time had passed since we were parted.
"Is it wrong for me to be so happy?" I asked. "I feel like I should mourn for what you've lost and suffered. I feel like this should be difficult. But I'm not and it isn't . It just feels so good. It feels like this is how it was always supposed to be. Everything about it feels right - and that is the only thing that scares me."
"I don't remember most of what it was like to be an angel. What I remember clearly is you. Everything else pales in comparison to that. Remember what I said about hope? I think it feels right because it is right. As soon as I woke with your name on my lips, my only hope was that I would find you. Maybe, for the first time in a very long time, both of our lives are in balance. I know that isn't what you're used to, and maybe that is why it's scary. I promise you, I am not going away again. I don't want anyone else, I don't care about anything but you. Now that I've found you, I'm never going to lose you again. I have literally been through hell to get here. We've paid Bella. We've paid in full. Our future, our happiness, our love - that is what is out there waiting for us. You don't have anything to fear."
It was true. There was nothing to fear. Edward was here. He was human. He was a man that would be able to stay. One day, hopefully when we were old and had oodles of grandchildren, we would pass on, and we would be able to meet up again in that place. We wouldn't be separated because he was an angel and I was human. There was balance, and I had nothing to fear.
We had made it. Even when things seemed to be at their worst, we kept moving. Faith, hope and love had worked together in our favor.
"Edward, Bella." I could hear Esme's voice calling from the bottom of the stairs.
As I got up off the bed I noticed something draped over the chair near the desk. It was the scarf the Alice had been knitting. It was finished, and of course it was lovely. I held it up and examined it closely.
'Where did you get this?"
Edward looped the scarf around my neck and pulled me to him. "It was a gift from a friend. A reminder that there are still angels watching over us."
He held my hand and walked me to the door of his room. We both paused there. This was it. We were stepping out into the rest of our lives. Everything in our existence had led us here.
In that moment, I had faith that an enchanting dark haired angel was watching out for our future. There was hope that balance had truly been restored. And most of all, deep down into my spirit, there was love for the man at my side, a man with the heart of an angel.
Happily Ever After....
Thanks for reading. Love, C