This is the final chapter - there seems to be some confusion.
Chapter 14 - Finale
Winter brought yet more misery. Though we were gladdened that our days would no longer be fraught with fear for loved ones fighting for us, the swarms of lads that had left us were drastically depleted as they crawled back home. None were jubilant with victory; all were weary and pained. Those who had braved the ghastly, stomach-churning conditions of the trenches were vulnerable on their return home, and the second wave of influenza that hit the world knocked down our brave survivors, stealing from them the promise of a happy life that they had clung to whilst drenched in mud and freezing amongst the reeking corpses of their comrades. It seemed that the world was not done punishing us.
Emmett stumbled home into Rosalie's sobbing arms, a shell of his former self. He would not speak of what he had seen or what he had done, but his haunted expression and vacant eyes spoke louder than any words ever could. Of course, they still sparkled on occasion, for Emmett McCarty could never fully lose his sense of humour, not for anything. But, nevertheless, the young couple suffered. Rosalie would cry herself to sleep after soothing a shrieking, wailing Emmett, who would wake, alarmed and terrified, in the middle of the night, reliving horrors that none of us could imagine. She was at a loss for what she could do to help him and was near paralysed at the thought that her husband would never quite return to being the man she married. But as her stomach continued to swell and threaten to burst, she found herself inexplicably grateful that she even had a husband, when she could so easily have joined the ranks of women in black that roamed the desolated city. She hoped that a baby in the house would restore some happiness to Emmett, and give him a purpose again, for his eyes would brighten as he felt the babe kick her belly under his fingers.
Emmett McCarty Junior was born on New Year's Eve, amidst the noise of Chicago's fireworks. Perhaps having inherited his father's predilection for tricks, it would be that he chose to arrive on the one night of the year when medical assistance was so hard to come by. It seemed that the McCartys were granted some much needed mercy, however, and Rosalie was afforded a relatively quick birth with no complications. The housemaid delivered a healthy baby boy so pretty and dainty that, but for his lungs, it was difficult to believe him to be Emmett's child. No child was ever welcomed into the world by such grateful parents, and I know for a fact that he was rarely out of the arms of either his mother or father.
As Emmett Jr. grew rounder and more precious, the time until my own baby arrived grew shorter. It would be a big baby and the stress on my back left me obliged to spent large amounts of my day in the house with my feet up. Edward insisted on my remaining as still as possible, often berating Mrs. Beale if he came home to find me walking about. He had secured a work placement at the hospital, shadowing doctors whilst studying medicine at the Rush Medical College part-time. Honestly, it wasn't the best time for it; coming home after a stressful, and sometimes emotional, day only to encounter a hormonal, stubbornly disobedient wife when wanting to study wasn't anybody's idea of practical. But I tried not to complain, because this was Edward's dream and I'd hang myself if I were the one to stop him from achieving his goals. Nevertheless, it didn't stop me from bitterly resenting him for putting me on such strict orders of bed-rest. I was soon wretched with boredom, so a distraction in the form of Rosalie and her beautiful baby were a welcome distraction.
Little Emmett was the happiest baby I had ever seen, and though my experience with babies was minimal, I couldn't help but fall in love with his wide, toothless smiles, chubby rosy cheeks and sparkling blue eyes. He had a beautiful baby smell and I could not seem to stop myself from nuzzling my face to his soft skin and filling my nostrils with it. He renewed the excitement I had for my own baby's arrival; bed rest had taken some joy out of the experience, but rather than looking forward to the baby's birth to relieve my discomfort, I now looked forward to it purely to see my little one. Motherhood had softened Rosalie; she was still direct but she was mellower and she smiled more during this visit than all my previous experiences with her put together. Her baby was her world and I was glad to see her so happy.
March 26th was a sunny morning, which heralded the end of a bitter winter. For the first time in months, I awoke to golden sunshine streaming through a crack in the curtains and onto my face. I was so large with child that every movement was an effort and, with Edward having already left for an early lecture, I was obliged to call for a maid to help me get up. I knew I wasn't supposed to venture out of bed, especially now that my due date imminent, but I was desperate to look out of the window. The maid, Sophie, reluctantly helped me, swinging my legs out from the covers and putting her arms under my armpits and heaving me out like a child. It was degrading to require help for even the most meagre of tasks, but I found the additional weight of the baby too much alone. I took the Sophie's arm and she led me to the window. I rubbed the condensation away and beheld the street aglow in warm sunlight. The flowers would soon be blooming in the park and I longed to go to be outside, to feel the warmth on my face. But the maid, sweet girl that she was, gently tugged me away from the window and took me back to bed, where I would spend yet more days horizontally. Yet, a few paces short of the bed, I was gripped by sharp abdominal pains.
"Ma'am?" Sophie enquired, as my fingers clutched at her arm.
She lowered me onto the bed and ran out of the room, screaming for Mrs Beale. Not two seconds later did they both appear in the doorway, accompanied by all of the female staff. Mrs Beale was immediately relaying orders.
"Charlotte, bring warm milk and stir in plenty of honey; she'll need the sugar. Sophie, we will need towels and a basin of hot water. Amelia, go and find Mr Cartwright and tell him to telephone the hospital; the mistress will soon birth her baby and is in desperate need of a doctor. Katie, I need you to find Mr Masen and inform him of the situation. I have no way of knowing how long the labour will continue, but he must be informed, should it be shorter rather than longer. Take some money from the box in the kitchen and catch the next bus to the university."
I groaned at the mere thought of Katie's task. The journey was only a short distance across town, but the bus stopped at regular intervals and I knew it would take her near to an hour. The return journey would be much faster in Edward's car but I was still worried. It would be an hour and a half before Edward would be home, and that would not allow for any mishaps along the way.
"Now you must not fret, Mrs Masen, it will be some time before you're ready to deliver the child. You need to stay calm. Rest a little while the pain subsides," soothed Mrs Beale.
The abdominal pains would wane and allow some time to relax before quite suddenly reappearing with increasing force. I dutifully drank to warm sweet drink that Mrs Beale held to my lips and barely blushed as towels were placed on the bed to cover various fluids that came with the labour.
Half an hour after the first cramp, the doorbell rang and brisk footfalls could be heard on the stairs. It was a familiar face that smiled. Dr Cullen entered the room in a white coat and carrying a large medical bag.
"Well, if it isn't my favourite patient," he said, his grin never fading. "How are we feeling?"
"Tired," I admitted.
Dr Cullen nodded with understanding and a small look of what could have been pity. He began spreading out his tools and affairs, before checking me over to see how I was really faring. I gasped as his hands touched me; they were so cold to my heated skin. My eyes flew to his and his grimaced with apology.
"Sorry," he muttered. "It is still cold outside despite the sun."
I nodded, for that seemed perfectly plausible, and I let his continue his examination. This time I did blush, a little.
"Luckily, for you, Mrs Masen, it appears this baby may be arriving soon. It won't be long before you need to begin pushing."
My eyes went wide at his words and I clutched Mrs Beale's hand between my shaking ones.
"But Edward won't be home for at least another hour, most likely longer!"
"I'm afraid the baby won't wait for his father to come home. He or she will arrive when they please," Dr Cullen joked, but with warning lacing his humour.
Dread filled me and I silently prayed that Edward would make it back for the delivery. I needed to see his face. I could not bring this baby into the world without him here.
Precisely an hour later, as I winced and breathed through clenched teeth, I willed the door to fly open and for feet to take the stairs three at a time as Edward's did. Yet the entrance hall remained silent, the only room in the house, it seemed, unaffected by this momentous occasion. Servants bustled back and forth, directed by Mrs Beale who relayed Dr Cullen's requests for water and linen and ice. The cloth slipped off my forehead as I squirmed, having long lost its coolness. Dr Cullen placed his hand in its placed, and I worried for my health, for surely I had a fever; the doctor's hand was still ice cold and he had been indoors for long enough to have recovered from the cool temperature outside. But he did not seem alarmed and I was in too much pain to question anything too deeply.
Another thirty minutes passed and Edward had still not arrived.
"Alright, Mrs Masen, I'm afraid it's time to deliver this baby."
"No," I said, gathering as much will as I could, considering the pain I was in.
"Ma'am, you must listen to Dr Cullen. He knows what is best, my dear," said Mrs Beale.
"What is best is waiting for Edward. He wouldn't want to miss this!"
"I know, dear, I do. But he would also scold you for not following the doctor's advice and he would hate for you to harm yourself and the baby, just because you were waiting for him."
I knew, deep down, that she was right. Edward would no doubt be livid if I delayed the birth, especially considering all his new knowledge on the complications of labour – he had been driving himself insane for the last few weeks imagining all the possible things that could go wrong. But I was also a coward: I simply couldn't go through with this scary process without knowing that Edward was waiting outside.
I shook my head resolutely.
"You can't make me do it! I won't! Not without him here!"
Dr Cullen sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I suppose we can wait a little longer but I cannot allow you to postpone the birth much longer. It will affect the health of both you and the child."
My heart twinged with fear as I thought of my child in danger, but I couldn't bring him or her into a world without their father either.
Ten minutes passed before Dr Cullen said any more.
"It must be now, Mrs Masen. If you care for the wellbeing of your child you must put aside your own preferences and do this without your husband here."
He looked to Mrs Beale, silently pleading with her.
"Sweet girl, you know you cannot risk the health of your little one. Mr Masen would be beside himself should anything happen to either of you. I know you are frightened but I will be here. You cannot wait any longer, darling, you simply can't," she said.
I looked up at her ageing face, and her own fear was etched across her forehead in wrinkles. The loss of her professional address was not lost on me either. She truly cared for me and it would hurt her if harm came to me. I processed her words and knew that I could delay the inevitable no longer.
I grasped her warm hand tighter and gathered a shaky breath.
Tears slipped down my cheeks as Dr Cullen readied himself and Mrs Beale shushed me, pulling her handkerchief out of her apron to wipe them away.
"Right, Mrs Masen. On the count of three I want you to push as hard as you can," Dr Cullen began. "One… two…"
The bedroom door burst open and a crazed Edward flung himself into the room, still carrying his briefcase. He knelt at my side and kissed my face everywhere he could find, whispering apologies between each.
"Good to see you, Mr Masen," said Dr Cullen. "But I'm afraid Mrs Masen needs to deliver this child and I must ask you to step outside."
Edward shook his head meekly, bending to kiss me once more.
"I'll be right outside the door, Bella. Don't you worry about anything."
He exited, throwing me a look of radiant happiness and encouragement, taking his proper place outside the birthing room as husbands were dictated to do.
Full with Edward's bravery, I felt ready and I began to push.
Edward Carlisle Masen lay peacefully in my arms, his father sitting beside me and cradling me in his.
"Isn't he the most beautiful baby you have ever seen?" I asked Edward, whispering lest I wake the sleeping boy.
Edward chuckled quietly and ran his thumb over the baby's coppery down.
"You certainly did well, my Bella. I'm so proud of you."
"We did well," I corrected him. "He's half yours, you know."
"Yes," said Edward, awe lacing his words, "and he is the very best thing I have every achieved in all my life, apart from winning you."
I blushed and lifted my head from my babe to kiss my husband's cheek."
"We did well," I repeated.
As per Masen tradition, our son was named Edward, a name that had been given to more men of the family than could be counted. For a second name we chose Carlisle, for he seemed to be our angel of sorts and I wanted to honour his patience when treating the world's most stubborn mother-to-be. Before he left us, Dr Cullen bid me farewell, having received enough apologies from myself to last him for several years. He patted my arm affectionately and I stiffened. He was still cold. I had cooled after the birth and yet he was still cold. I looked at his quizzically but he just smiled and informed us that he would leave our new family to get acquainted.
"What was all that about waiting for me, Bella? Haven't I told you about haemorrhaging?"
I smacked Edward's arm and re-engrossed myself in memorising the features of my son's perfect newborn face.
"If I had found you, there isn't a doubt in my mind how I would have proceeded. I was that boy, who would have — as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for — gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn't have quite the same connotations." Edward, 'Eclipse' by Stephenie Meyer
March 26th 1924
It was Teddy's fifth birthday and we held a small gathering to celebrate. Our house was full of laughter and little ones running around. We had invited Emmett and Rosalie, which automatically signaled carnage; their efforts to have a daughter had resulted in five boys that preceded her. Emmett Jr was followed by twins, John and Henry, then George and Thomas before Violet finally arrived. Jasper and Alice had also brought their brood: Maggie, now eight years old and quite the little lady, Jasper's namesake and Ellie. They join my own children. Alice Renee Elizabeth was shortly after her brother's first birthday and we called Libby to avoid confusion with my friend, who had reciprocated with Ellie, whose full name was Isabella. It was a sentiment that we felt solidified our firm friendship and respect for one another. Edward and I had compromised on her middle names, wanting to ensure that, should she be our only daughter, both our mothers were equally remembered. Libby was, in turn, followed by Charles Anthony, who was so named after I made amends with my father.
It was a beautiful July morning and I had taken Edward Jr, now known as Teddy, to the park. Nearing four months old, he had gained weight and would smile widely and gurgle, which delighted me to no end. I had spread out a large blanket and was playing with Teddy when I heard a man clear his throat.
"Excuse me, ma'am."
I would recognise my father's voice anywhere and stiffened to hear it. I gathered my baby to my chest and slowly looked up to meet my father's gaze for the first time in many months.
He had shaved away the beard and left a trim moustache that I remembered fondly from earlier days. He had gained weight and looked like a respectable gentleman once more, in suit and with eyes no longer bloodshot.
"Bella," he choked, his eyes pooling as he beheld me. "I – erm - I wasn't sure it was you, with your hat, you know." His arms waved around his head to imitate my large sunhat.
"Daddy," I acknowledged, but kept myself busy avoiding his gaze and readjusting Teddy's bonnet.
"Is this -?"
"This is Teddy. Edward Carlisle Masen," I informed him, weary of his reaction.
But he surprised me, sitting down beside me on the quilt and gingerly stroking Teddy's cheek. A great smile spread across his face.
"Huh," he said softly. "I have a grandson. Never had one of those before."
I laughed quietly at his attempt at a joke.
"You never had a son either. A boy may prove to be a challenge," I said with a small smile.
"I always hoped for a boy after you, but your mother couldn't have anymore children. It would have been nice to play cricket on the green with a son, but I was more than happy with my little Bella."
"That was before she became such a disappointment to you."
I could not help being bitter.
My father stilled at my words and closed his eyes, sadness overwhelming his expression.
"I am more sorry than I could ever adequately express, my dear daughter. A man… will become a strange person, removed from himself, when he suffers grief. Though even a grieving man has no excuse for ever rejecting or belittling his own child, especially when she is all he has and when she means the world to him. I was not myself, Bella… and I am so ashamed. I know that my actions and words were unforgivable, I do. But I am selfish enough to ask that you let me try to earn your forgiveness and be your father again and grandfather to your little boy."
His speech was so earnest that I feel we were both overwhelmed with emotion. And I saw the man who I had thought lost forever.
I couldn't stop a few stray tears from escaping as I bent to kiss Teddy's soft cheek before looking up at my father.
"I would like that."
Edward had, understandably not been so easily persuaded and was quick to berate my father when we arrived home that day. Yet, I think Daddy respected him more, if that was possible, for showing his loyalty to me. My father's relationships with both of us was strained for several months, but we eventually agreed to forget his past actions and focus on the future, forgiving a man for his acute grief for, as Edward said, it was understandable that one could feel so much pain at losing their other half that they lost their sanity.
My father was also at Teddy's birthday party and was entertaining the boys in the back yard together with Edward, Jasper and Emmett, despite the chilly weather. He had reluctantly relinquished cricket in favour of baseball, which Edward had proudly introduced Teddy too, realising that he was fighting a losing battle. He was acting as the peacekeeper outside and advising the group of small boys on their technique, delighting in their enthusiasm.
The little girls giggled and chattered as Libby proudly showed off her new miniature china tea set. They all sat very sweetly around a small table, equipped with dolls and bears, all dressed in their prettiest frocks for the occasion. Even young Violet was joining in, just beginning to toddle around in her pale purple and lace dress.
"Hold my baby for me please, Auntie Esme," said bossy Libby, thrusting her dolly into Esme's arms before running off to bring down more toys to boast with.
I rolled my eyes at my daughter, who had mysteriously acquired many of her namesake's characteristics. She was quite the little princess and the apple of Edward's eye: he was unable to deny her anything.
Esme just smiled and ran her hands over the doll's satin dress. She had, it seemed, deservedly found her happy ending. She sat next to Dr Cullen and couldn't contain her brilliant smile. They had been married some three years now but had only recently re-entered our lives; after a rushed wedding that nobody was invited to, the good doctor whisked her away for a two-year round-the-world honeymoon. She had returned with an eye condition that left them weak and delicate to bright light, so she was required to wear a pair of rose-tinted glasses to protect herself. However, most unfortunately, she and her husband would never be blessed with children and I knew her heart still ached for her loss.
I subconsciously ran my hand over my barely showing round stomach, wondering for the hundredth time who this new addition to our family would be and how our lives would turn out. But I wasn't worried, because I had struck gold; I had found that boy that girls always dream they will one day meet and I had three angels, another on the way. Life could not be sweeter.
A/N: Well, it's finally finished and that, for me, is an achievement in itself. You'll have to forgive me for it; I came back to this after a year and I literally forced myself to write it, so it won't be brilliant (understatement). But it is now complete :)
Oh and about Carlisle and Esme... are they vampires? Well, I deliberately left it ambiguous but I reckon there's a chance ;) The Carlisle in previous chapters is less vamp... but then the cold hands and glasses? Yikes, I don't know!