The end… already. I just want to take another final moment to thank all of my readers, especially the ones who stuck with this series from the very beginning of Jasper's moments as a newborn in "About A Soldier."
If you haven't already, please read that one, which can be found on my profile here, as well as Alice's story, "Pixie Dust & Premonitions." They are the companion pieces to this fic.
Some of you have mentioned a honeymoon chapter… keep a lookout (it won't be added to the end of this… it will more than likely be done as a separate one shot. Just for you.)
Because You Loved Me
Because You Loved Me
"Jasper, you gotta control that little gift of yours, man. You're making me nervous."
It's nearing six in the evening, and there's just barely an hour left before the wedding is meant to start. Three or four times, Jasper had sneaked down to take a look at the guests. Carlisle and Esme had invited a coven from Alaska, and Rosalie and Emmett had remembered the names of a few fellow vegetarians that they had run across in their travels.
He sighs, irritated. "I'm trying, you know."
The door opens, and Carlisle pokes his head in. "Jasper, can I speak with you?"
Jasper follows Carlisle out into the hallway, and away from the room a ways. "Sir?" The older man reaches into the pocket inside his coat, and pulls out a long grey box. Jasper frowns. "You didn't have to get me anything…"
"I didn't," Carlisle explains as he opens the box to reveal two cufflinks, studded with four tiny rubies. "My father gave me these, and they're one in a set of three. Emmett and Edward have the other two."
Jasper stares down at them for a long moment before he reaches out and carefully removes them from the box, turning them over in his hand. "…I don't—"
"I've given them to my sons, Jasper. You're part of the family, and I know you're not comfortable with it, but I do think of you as my son."
He lets Carlisle take the links and attach them for him, then he turns his wrist and lets the stones catch the light. He thinks that maybe, just maybe, it's okay to let Carlisle fill the place in his life that's been empty for so long.
He has his brothers.
He misses having a father.
* * *
Rosalie's pearls around her neck. Emmett and Carlisle's earrings snug in her ears. Esme's pin on her dress. Edward's mother's coin in her corset.
Dress. Shoes. Headpiece. Bouquet.
"Oh my God," she mumbles. "I'm ready."
"Alice? Esme, I think she just got paler."
"Just, sit her down. Sit down, Alice. …Do vampires faint? Where's Carlisle when you need him…"
"Alice? Look at me."
"I can't do this," Alice hears herself say. "I can't…"
Suddenly, she sees Rosalie's face very clearly before her. On it is a look that Alice knows means business. "Yes," she says firmly, "You can. And you will. Because I did not go through hell getting those Spanish carnations for no reason. I didn't get all sentimental when I gave you those pearls just for my health. You are gonna get yourself together, you're going to hold your head up, and you are gonna walk with Carlisle down that isle and you're gonna be the most beautiful bride those people have ever seen, do you understand me?"
Alice nods weakly.
"Now, you get out there and show them Mrs. Jasper Whitlock."
Yes, Whitlock. That's the name on the license, because that's his name. She'll always be a Cullen, there's no doubt in her mind about that. But first, and foremost, she is Alice Whitlock.
Blindly, Alice lets Rosalie and Esme lead her down the hallway to Carlisle. He's acting in the place of the man who couldn't be there; he's walking Alice down the isle because her true father – and her human life – didn't last to see this day.
"You look beautiful, Alice. Are you ready?"
"Yes, she is."
Numbly, she returns the hugs that Esme and Rosalie give to her. "We'll see you at the other end of the isle, Alice," she hears someone say.
She's shaking so much when the music that cues her entrance starts, she can barely hear it over the chattering of her own teeth. She wobbles on the three inch heels on her feet, and grips Carlisle's arm so tightly that she prepares an apology in case it pops off.
"Just relax, Alice," he whispers to her.
She doesn't see the guests seated on either side of her, doesn't hear their whispers about her custom dress design nor her headpiece, or the pearls around her neck. She doesn't hear the music, nor Carlisle's reassuring words in her ear.
She doesn't feel him patting her hand for comfort.
The only thing Alice sees is Jasper.
He's standing next Edward and Emmett, an expression on his face that, no matter how hard she tries, Alice can't name. She locks her eyes on his, because she finds that this makes her a little less nervous.
Until she starts thinking again.
How many times has she walked to him? How many times has she thrown herself into his arms, how many times have they hugged or kissed or made love until the sun had risen again?
Everything will change after this.
After this, she won't just be his partner or his companion. She'll be his wife.
When they finally reach the end, and Jasper steps forward, she nearly tumbles to the ground when Carlisle let's go of her. Jasper grasps her arm and looks down at her with wide, golden eyes. "Are you okay?"
Alice nods, because she wants to save her voice and, to be honest, she isn't quite certain if she'll ever speak again.
The vows are traditional ones, because no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't seem to write their own. Because there were no words to describe or express this commitment they were making.
When the priest comes to the part about death, Alice can't help but mirror Jasper's smile.
Til death due us part won't happen for them, and it's then that it hits Alice: nothing will ever part them. When they say "for eternity," they really and truly mean it. She will remember this moment forever.
When Jasper kisses her, it's soft and gentle; he was never one for public affection, and that's okay with Alice because that's the way she wants it: her husband, in all his old-fashioned glory.
Everything goes by in a blur for her after this.
They dance – with Alice's feet on Jasper's toes to give her a little more height – to a beautiful song that Esme helped pick, by a woman with a very strong voice. They open various gifts from people they don't know, and it all feels very strange to Jasper until he hears a voice behind him that stops him in his tracks.
"Well, look what happened to man who said he wasn't gettin' swept off his feet by nobody."
Alice turns first, and when she looks up at Jasper with a confused expression, he forces himself to turn around, too. He knew who the voice belonged to before he saw the tall, dusky-haired man in the dark blue tux. Before he saw the statuesque brunette at his arm.
Charlotte steps forward and wraps her arms around Jasper's neck. "I told you I'd like to see you again, didn't I?"
Peter shakes his head and folds his arms, "We got wind of the wedding, and when I heard the name of the groom, I nearly had a heart attack. Well, figuratively speakin' and all that. I thought they must've been mistaken, and we just had to come and see for ourselves. Major Jasper Whitlock with a bride of his own… it's just bizarre."
"And what a bride!" Charlotte says, fixating her eyes on Alice. "Your dress is absolutely beautiful."
Alice is glad she can't blush. "Thank you. I've heard so much about you two."
"Good things, I hope."
Jasper frowns when Charlotte and Peter exchange glances. "…We also heard about Maria."
"…Oh. Yeah, she…"
"I know you don't want to talk about it, especially on a day like this. We just wanted to offer our condolences."
"We can't stay," Peter said. "We just came to offer congratulations."
Jasper thanks them again, hugging them each once more before they say goodbye and disappear just as quickly as they came. Alice studies his face as he watches them, and imagines how he must feel.
"Don't worry," she says quietly. "I see them coming to visit you again in the future."
He looks down at her and smiles. Then, without any warning whatsoever he leans down, and, with one arm under her knees and the other around her shoulders, lifts her into his arms. "Let's get away from the crowd, hmm?"
Alice giggles. "Okay."
Jasper walks a ways before setting her down again. They're far enough away from the guests to be alone, but close enough to still hear the chatter and the music. "Like the dress," he says quietly.
"My own design was the only one that worked… everything else swallowed me whole."
He chuckles at the image of Alice in a dress six sizes too big for her, then reaches out and takes her hand. He twirls her once, and then she wraps her arms around his waist and rests her head on his chest.
They dance in no particular pattern to another slow song that drifts to them through the trees, and the silence doesn't bother Jasper until he hears a sharp gasp. Frowning, he looks down at Alice and, when she turns her head and refuses to look at him, he places his finger beneath her chin.
She tries to turn away again, but gifts up when he grasps her face in his hands. What he sees when she does look at him sends a shooting pain through his entire being. He reaches out and, very carefully, runs the back of his hand across her cheek.
Frowning, she reaches up and touches her own face. When she looks down, she finds that the tips of her fingers are wet.
Not real tears, of course.
Alice pulls away from him, and rubs both of her hands over her face, wiping away the trails of venom that stream from her eyes.
"I'm not supposed to cry. Vampires don't cry."
Jasper places his hands on his shoulders and turns her around. "Why are you sad?"
"I'm not…sad, Jasper, I'm – I don't even know what I am. I'm happy. I'm so, so happy. I never saw this, any of this. I only saw us together. You don't know how many times I've imagined it, though. Never anything like this."
Once more, he lifts her head up with his hands. "Sometimes not seeing the future is a good thing, Alice. If you'd known, if you'd been expecting it, would any of this have turned out the way it did?"
No, she knows. Probably not.
It's then that she breaks. She throws her arms around him again, buries her face in his chest and weeps. Not just for this moment, or this night, but for everything.
Because it's only now that she can. She knows these tears will never come again; she knows she'll cry once in all of eternity, because only once does something happen to someone like her to allow it.
Only once does something so tragic or, in her case, so beautiful happen to awaken that bit of humanity buried so deep inside that it's almost been forgotten.
Only once, and so she cries for everything she's wished she could cry for. She cries for a past she can't remember. She cries for whatever happened to her to bring her down this past. She cries for whatever brought her to this man.
Alice cries for her memories, and she cries for her visions of the future.
And Jasper… Jasper simply holds her, because, somehow, he knows that she's crying for him, too. She's crying for the very emotion he's about to burst with:
She's crying for the love. The love that was there when neither of them even knew it. She's crying because he loved her before he would admit it even to himself.
Because she loved him when she was human, before she even knew his name.
Because as far as anyone – even Alice – can see, one thing is absolutely certain: any time Alice doubts herself, anytime Jasper fears the torment of his past, they will be there to pick each other up again.
They'll be right there.