A/N: Wow. We're finally here. It's been quite a ride, and I want to thank you all for the favorites, alerts and kind reviews, especially the constructive criticisms, I received along the way. I'm both overjoyed and saddened to see this come to a close, and I hope that you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. You're readership has meant everything to me- it's amazing that other people want to read what I write. One last time…
I couldn't believe this was really happening. It was just too mind blowing.
After nearly dying- twice if you counted Edward biting me- I was back in Forks. And I happened to be wearing a white dress, getting ready to marry the love of my life, join the best family I'd ever known, and be given away by my father while my mother quietly sobbed into a handkerchief. All as a vampire.
How was this possible?
Someone, whether God or fate or whoever, had a really twisted sense of humor. Not that I was complaining- I was coming out on the best end of the deal.
Of that I was certain.
Even if I wasn't certain about walking down the aisle in about fifteen minutes.
Of course, it wasn't uncertainty about committing myself to Edward for forever. That was happening with or without the wedding that was planned to take place in the living room of the Forks Cullen home. Edward was the only thing I couldn't live without.
On the other hand, wedding dresses, flower arrangements, receptions and vows were not necessary. Not for me- they were all the result of Esme's, Alice's and Renee's planning. But I didn't resent them- Edward wanted to have them, and I wanted to give them to him.
I was only literally unsure about walking down the aisle. I suppose that was the human in me coming out- I just wasn't comfortable with being in front of everyone.
Even if that everyone was just Charlie, Renee, Phil, the Cullens and few of their vampire friends. The thought was terrifying, and somehow it showed.
"Calm down Bella," Alice ordered, fussing with my hair as she pinned on my veil, "It will all turn out beautifully."
I rolled my eyes, annoyed. "How do you even know I'm nervous?"
Rose laughed from across the room, where she was tweaking my bouquet. "Please Bella. You may not have a racing heartbeat, but you're the stillest I've ever seen you and you've stopped breathing- you're freaking out."
I sighed, laughing a bit. I hadn't noticed, but I probably did look a little like a deer in headlights. I swallowed out of habit, and took a breath. "Right, ok. But you both know I don't like crowds."
Alice guffawed. "Bella, there's hardly a dozen guests. That does not count as a crowd."
Looking in the mirror, I saw Rose nod. "She's right- if this makes you nervous, you should have seen mine and Emmet's third ceremony. Almost the entire town was there for that one."
Thankfully, just as Alice and Rose started to launch into recounting their various weddings, a tap came at the door, accompanied by two heartbeats. That meant only two people could be on the other side. I started for the door, but Alice beat me there. Even with my speed, it was difficult to move in the frilly, lacy contraption that was my wedding dress. It didn't help that Alice had seen who was coming.
"Hi Charlie! Hi Renee!" she trilled, opening the door wide. "Bella is just inside!"
I turned, shaking my head at Alice's excitement but smiling wide as I saw my parents enter the room. Though I had already seen them both several times over the past week, I felt my eyes prickle with venom. It was still nearly impossible to believe they were really there.
After all, I had went from thinking I would never see my parents again to standing in the same room with them.
The day after settling things with the wolves, I had visited Charlie again. Together, we had decided he should call Renee and tell her what had happened to me. After being convinced Charlie wasn't insane, she caught the first plane out with Phil. Renee had cried for a full twenty minutes before she was able to say anything other than "Oh my God." Renee was exactly the wreck I vaguely remembered, and I was grateful for it. Once she composed herself she had demanded hearing what happened to me from my own mouth, and I had retold the pre-formulated story. I emphasized that the majority of my memories were still gone, and therefore I didn't really wish to renew contact with anyone else or have them even know about what had happened. I used excuses of it being too difficult to explain, too painful, and not wanting to deal with people I couldn't remember.
After some begging, Charlie reluctantly agreed to keep the secret, the police chief in him revolting. Renee was just so glad to have me back that she cared little about anything else- except for meeting Edward. Once I told her that I planned to marry him, she had demanded immediately seeing all of the Cullens, right after crying some more and congratulating me.
That meeting had happened later that day- it was a strange sight to see my new and old families mingling together, vampire and human. Nothing could have made me happier, even though I knew that after the wedding I would have to limit my contact with my human family again, especially when I didn't age. Lies and sparse phone calls were the only future we could have, but I was just glad to have any kind of future that included my parents and a sliver of humanity.
In the end, with the help of some brown contacts and bold-faced lies, everything was working out like a fairytale. When I asked why everything seemed to be so easy, Edward explained that Renee, Charlie and even Phil were just so grateful to see me alive again that they buried all of their suspicions. I could hardly believe it, but considered myself lucky- ironic, considering how this had all started.
And now my mother was weeping all over herself, ruining her makeup as she went on and on about how beautiful I looked and how happy she was for me, her baby girl. Charlie looked like he could cry as well, but just stood by awkwardly for few minutes before clearing his throat.
"Bells, I think it's about time…"
I nodded, hugging my mother gingerly before moving toward Charlie. He hooked his arm with mine, patting my hand. He was becoming a pro at ignoring how cold I was. Renee slipped by me, placing a gentle kiss on my cheek as she went downstairs to take her seat. "I love you baby," she said, hiccupping as she swallowed tears. Alice and Rose followed just behind her, whispering encouragements so low and fast that only I could hear them while gracefully gliding out of the room in silver heels and dark blue bridesmaid dresses.
Charlie and I were all alone then, and he cleared his throat once more, shuffling uneasily from one foot to the other and avoiding my eyes.
"I love you Bells," he stated, surprisingly looking down at my face. I smiled, nearly warmed by the words. Yet the display of affection was still awkward, and I found myself wanting to move on.
"Love you too Dad- don't let me fall?" I asked, knowing there was no way that could actually happen.
He chuckled and the atmosphere relaxed. "I promise."
"Ok," I breathed, "let's go."
I reminded myself not to grip Charlie's arm too tightly as we moved down the staircase to the sounds of the traditional wedding march. I heard his heart beating loudly, and had no doubt that if I still had one, mine would be competing to be faster.
Despite moving so slowly, I was caught off guard that we had already turned the corner and reached the bottom of the staircase. Suddenly I could see into the living room. My stomach tightened for one quick moment as the small gathering turned its focus to my entrance. I immediately focused in on Edward's face, beaming at me from where he stood with Emmett and Jasper beside him. Carlisle was behind him, ready to perform the ceremony. Alice was bouncing by Rose, waiting at the makeshift altar, white and laced with an entire garden's worth of flowers.
Everyone was smiling, but it was Edward's lopsided grin that my entire existence seemed to hang on. I met his gaze, and all of my nervousness and apprehension melted into an amalgam of excitement and joy. I couldn't fathom why the he had forgiven me so easily after that night, but when Edward had simply called us even I had decided to take my own advice and not wallow in my guilt, vowing instead to love him unselfishly for the rest of my existence. I tried to communicate that promise all the way down the aisle- our eyes never broke contact and my surroundings slowly faded out, with the exception of the feel of Charlie's light kiss on my forehead as he placed my hand in Edward's. My eyes fluttered close for a moment under the weight of the contentment both sensations brought.
Then Edward and I took a step up together and Carlisle began speaking. I forced myself to pay attention and tuned back in to reality. I miraculously remembered where to say "I do" but focused more on the silent words of love in Edward's expression.
Before I knew it, Carlisle was uttering the words I never thought could mean so much to me. I never believed I needed the official proclamation. Yet something about the words, here in front of everyone I loved, was beautiful and healing.
"I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen. You may kiss the bride."
With that, everything was worth it all. The pain of the transformation, the separation from my family, the loss of normalcy, and the months of confusion. It was all worth Edward. No price could have been too high. Overcome with a flood of too many emotions to identify, I bit my lip.
Then Edward was moving his face forward, and his warm but cold lips met mine. Unable to contain myself, it felt like every emotion I had felt over the past year was infused into that kiss. I hardly even heard the snickering of Emmett and Alice, or the quiet amused whispers between Esme and Renee. I certainly didn't care about any of it, even when Edward finally broke the kiss and I saw that everyone was just slightly embarrassed at our over the top display of affection.
I just grinned with Edward's hand in mine, ready to take on forever.
A/N: Yeah- I know, cliché happily ever after. But it is cliché for a reason.
One last time, please, please review- I would love it if everyone who has made it to the end could leave their final opinion!