A/N: Wow. So much thanks to jilburfm for betaing for THREE YEARS. This story wouldn't be half of what it is without her. Also, I'd like to extend a general, heartfelt thank you to everyone who is reading this. There are certainly things left open-ended, I understand that. So goes the reading experience. That being said:
1) Let me know all the questions that you have that were not answered within the story. Tell me in reviews or PMs. I will try to answer them all on my profile or something in the coming few weeks.
2) Review to tell me which chapters you'd like EPOV outtakes of! As lots of you know, NaNoWriMo approaches quickly. I won't write outtakes in November, but over the coming weeks or months or years, when the mood strikes, I'm not opposed to giving up some EPOV. So let me know which chapters you'd like most to see in EPOV and I'll try to make it happen eventually :) (Outtakes before the first time he successfully fed are not possible, so be mindful)
Without further ado, the epilogue. Enjoy :)
Our house sits on the outskirts of Ontario, Canada. It's modest in comparison to what we've been used to. We've been spoiled, though, with a private island, a massive house and endless nights of making out in the warm ocean. A place where you could swim with (or scare, in our case) porpoises and watch the moon glow brightly over the water and everything was simple. Life was beautiful on Isle Esme, but admittedly I missed the real world.
The small computer sits casually on my lap and I hit the search button. I've done this countless times over the past year, and I will continue to do it until the day my father dies. Maybe even beyond.
He married last week. I knew it was coming and I was happy for him. Now, I trace the picture of him and his bride with my forefinger, admiring her dress. Sue Clearwater, a local, has stolen my father's heart, and I am eternally grateful to her. Edward watches me with guarded eyes, unsure of what he can do to comfort me. He knows that it's okay, that there's nothing left to do.
I only ever wrote Charlie that one note, telling him I was safe. Often in the past, I've considered writing him again, but he is healing, and perhaps salting his wounds is unkind. Still, I miss him desperately.
Emmett enters through the front door and we both know it's him by the rumbling guffaw that follows. Still, I feel Edward's shoulders shake. I notice it more, now that I'm one of them. One of us. The trembling, it's always there. Under layers of okay-ness, my vampire still fears the world. He always will, Carlisle explains. A hundred years of happiness cannot undo what has come to pass. All we can do now is teach him to love the world. Show him that the world deserves his love.
"We're hunting tonight. Gonna see the sights. You in?" Emmett's offer is tempting, but Edward and I haven't had much time to ourselves lately.
Simultaneously, he says, "No thanks," and I say, "Unlikely." Emmett laughs, biting his tongue. The sex jokes have grown tiresome to the rest of our family, but they will never cease to amuse Emmett and me.
When they leave a few hours later, Edward takes his post at the piano.
It has become his favorite pastime. There's something unbelievably attractive about the way his fingers gain certainty as they dance across the ivory keys, all traces of shakiness and hesitation evaporating as soon as the notes begin to resonate.
Music flows through Edward and I often find myself wishing I could pick it up like he does.
I take up residence on the bench next to him, wrapping my arm around his waist and resting my head on his shoulder. I close my eyes and listen as each note bends to Edward's will. It's as though this piano is linked to the inside of his soul, as he effortlessly composes whatever feelings are in his heart.
He lets the notes trail off and pauses. "Do you remember," he asks me, "how to play the song?"
My eyes open slowly and I back far enough away to meet his. They're bright, alive, and happy. The most beautiful things I've ever seen.
"What song?" I ask, confounded. Never have I claimed to be a pianist; there is no song in this world that I've ever known how to play.
"The one you learned in your lesson," he clarifies.
"You told me once that you'd learned a song," Edward says, raising one eyebrow. A challenge. Had I?
I think back. Way back. I guess I did learn how to play Heart and Soul, to an extent.
"You quit, though, because it hurt your fingers."
My mind reels. When did I tell Edward this? Immediately I pinpoint the memory. I clutch his torso and kiss his shoulder as I recall, because, as I've always hoped that he might, he does remember. In all that time, I thought I was talking to a vacant mind. I told him my stories, because I wanted him to know me and because he was lonely, but did I ever in a million years think he heard? Never.
"Will you try it?" His voice is a whisper and it brings me back to the present. Automatically, my fingers find my approximation of where the keys that I seek lay. His hands cover mine, moving them a few keys to the left. I close my eyes and smile.
I don't play it, because I can't. But Edward knows how, and his fingers on top of mine lead us.
It's not beautiful or graceful, the way it normally sounds when my vampire plays, but it's magic.
I lie in bed, my hand tracing the planes of Edward's chest. His head rests on his arm, his free arm cradling me.
I kiss his chest, rolling so that I hover above him. Propping myself up, I gaze down at my vampire and he smiles, lifting his head enough to kiss me. His tongue is warm against mine and I smile, pulling him impossibly closer. I no longer need to breathe, so there is nothing in the world that can make me stop kissing him.
When he finally lets his head fall to the pillow, my lips find the skin of his neck. We have the house to ourselves on this fine, clear night, and we intend to take full advantage of our time.