A/N: Today is the single greatest day of my life.

Tonight, I'm going to see my muse, my inspiration, my first true love: Otep Shamaya.

Here's hoping that this final chapter will bring you the happiness that I'm flying high on right on.

Once more! I LOVE MY REVIEWERS. :) Thank you all for taking the time to read this, thank you for reviewing even if FF wasn't letting me reply I read them all, smiled, laughed and thought about this chapter over and over. I'm happy with this, so I hope you are, too.


Somehow I didn't get any rest. It seemed like every five minutes I would be shook awake and once I smacked the hands away they'd leave, come back, rinse, repeat.

Everything around me was white and loud. I smelled bleach and cigarettes and thought about the strange combination, trying to figure out how the two fit together and that would end up leading me to where I was.

"Bella? Bella, are you awake?"

My mouth felt like cotton but I shook my head from side to side and groaned at the oncoming wave of nausea.

"Oh thank God," another voice cried.

I cracked an eye open and immediately closed it. No, no way in hell could I look at that light right now.

"The lights," a voice whispered. "They'll probably hurt her eyes."

"Probably," I muttered and coughed.

Someone put a glass to my lips and I drank the whole thing greedily. My back was stiff from being inclined by the hospital bed and when I opened my eyes I blushed hotly.

I had a crowd in my room, all looking at me expectantly. Edward was by my side, holding my hand tightly in his, and Renee was on the other side, looking gaunt. Charlie was standing at the end of my bed in his police uniform and then there was Phil, and… Esme?

She smiled at me and my heart sped up. I probably looked horrible, I felt horrible, I could feel the crack of dried blood at the corner of my eye and my neck was throbbing where I remember Lauren's nails bit in.

My eyes fluttered closed and I bit my lip to keep from crying. Renee had her arms around me in half a second and squeezed me to her chest, hushing me and cooing things in my ear to make me stop.

"Don't cry, don't cry, you're not in trouble—well, with the police, you're definitely grounded," she murmured.

"I'm already grounded," I mumbled.

"Well, I guess being covered in blood and grime for two days is punishment enough. I think Edward was tempted to give you a sponge bath."

"Mom." I tried to stifle my giggles but they got out anyway.

She started to laugh with me, cutting up the tension and she smoothed down my hair affectionately.

"Sorry, baby," she nearly whispered. Her eyes told me she was sorry for more than what was let on and that we'd talk later.

She sat in her seat and I looked at everyone around me, watching me with tired and expectant eyes. Wait. Did she say two days?

"How long was I out for?" I squeaked nervously.

"A day and a half," Charlie answered tightly. Renee shot him a look and his square shoulders dropped a bit. "You had a concussion, but that's not what had you out for so long. Well, it was, but it was also something to do with you not eating properly."

"We'll let the nurse explain." Renee rolled her eyes. "Oh! Damn we're supposed to get the nurse when she's up."

Renee sprinted out through the doors with Phil hot on her heels and I heard her yelling to someone. I squeezed my fingers one at a time to get circulation back into them, and when I felt the solid weight of Edward's hand I looked up at him.

He smiled warily and used his hand that was unoccupied to flick a piece of hair off my forehead.

"Do I look bad?" I asked timidly.

His smile got bigger and he shook his head. "You never do."

"I think you're lying," I accused lightly. He simply shook his head and leaned down to kiss the top of my hair.

At that moment the nurse came bustling in, a metal medical sheet and a couple supplies in her hands as she asked me basic questions.

I was regaled with the whole story. There were several spin offs from different people, but the decision was unanimous that Lauren hit me first, I reacted in self-defense, but I was still in trouble for fighting, just not as much as her.

Lauren's leg was re-broken, something I oddly felt guilty for, her nose was broken, too. But it would be healed in no time. Neither one of us would have lasting scars, just a couple cuts that would last a few weeks and then disappear.

In short, we were switched out of classes, moved around so we'd basically never see each other, and since Edward would start his job at the hospital I was staying at, I didn't have anything to worry about. It was… nice.

--

Soon after I was released from the hospital Edward started there. He got a set of scrubs, a doctor to follow under, even a patient to keep tabs on. He was the only one who stopped giving me wary looks after the first day.

My mother tried to convince me to come to Florida with her and leave everything behind, but when I shook my head and began to explain she cut me off and told me she understood, glancing at Edward who had fallen asleep in his perch by my bed.

"I'll give him a test run," she'd said. "I think he's a good guy, better than some of the other boys you could have brought home."

Charlie hadn't had the same sentiments. He was civil, cordial and cold. My irritation was beginning to spike, but Edward no longer fidgeted under his protective glare anymore. Edward reminded me that I was his only daughter, and therefore Charlie was fully entitled to hate him for a while.

I was released after two days and back in school as soon as Charlie could procure it.

School, well, it sucked. Plain and simple with no sugar coating or sprinkles. I didn't get threatened or beat up, but the taunting was back at full force with a distance between me and whoever it was. Everyone looked at me like a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment and take the closest person down with me. I wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

Getting back in the swing of things was easy. I did my homework every night since I didn't have anywhere else to go. I got straight A's and did my best academically. It was all that I could focus on without going insane.

The insanity, of course, came from none other than Edward.

Since my time in the hospital, we hadn't been together for more than an hour, and that was on lunch breaks. Phone calls weren't the same without his facial expression, and my imagination wasn't that vivid.

And sex had been out of the question. He offered—what I assumed jokingly—to try out the on-call room. By the time a month went by, I was more than ready to take up that offer.

Life was boring, life was dull, and I could see more than ever why I needed Edward.

So enough of the backtracking and all the boring weeks that I ran through my entire library of books and watched the rain, and to the present where I was currently waiting for my name to slip through the thin papery lips of Mr. Greene.

Jessica Stanly grabbed her diploma and asked to make a short speech. It was boring, quick and at the end she gave a white-girl-woo with her hands up like she was in a wet t-shit contest.

Mr. Greene looked at me, waiting in line kind of shimmying around to stop the wool-like fungi green gown from touching my skin. If I broke out in some kind of rash I would make damn sure it was contagious.

"Isabella Swan, class valedictorian." Mr. Greene clapped and moved aside to let me have my stand at the mahogany podium.

My heart was racing a million miles and I had my stupid folded paper with all the words I was supposed to say on it. But looking at all those faces out there—those who had already gone through this process and those who had yet to go through it—they didn't want to hear any of this bull.

"If there's one thing I've learned in the high school system," I started. "It's that doing your best and trying to succeed will always get you somewhere. The same thing cannot be said about the social structure, though. No matter what you do, unless you end up severing all ties, the people that you trust are usually the downfall that defines you." Mr. Greene coughed behind me.

The nervousness in the pit of my stomach began to escalate as I looked through the crowd to all the faces pointed at me with their listening ears. Even if they were just looking and not paying attention, they all would grasp some concept of what I said.

So to stop my worry, I looked for Edward. Like always, he was right there, guiding me. His green eyes looked me on from the back where he stood against the outside archway that led to the field of seats.

"Don't pay attention to them, just look at me." So I did just that.

"There are people you can trust, and there are people that you can't. Unfortunately none of us are fortune tellers and we can't truly decide that when we need to. There's not much more to say. But in conclusion, academics can only get you so far, when the reality of it is that our social responsibilities sometimes outweigh the priorities."

I turned, grabbed my diploma and walked down the stairs to get the hell off that stage. Some people were laughing; some were looking on like I'd just committed some horrible faux pas.

Mr. Green laughed into the microphone. "Well, I think that was shortest valedictorian speech in history." The crowd laughed with him accordingly.

I rounded the back while the rest of the students were called and a science teacher who was retiring talked about their futures and how to make the right decisions as opposed to the wrong decisions.

I was done with high school. D-o-n-e.

Edward was waiting right where he'd been standing during my whole speech and smiled when he saw me.

"Ready to go already?" I took off my cap, threw it in the air and grabbed his hand to drag him through the doorway.

"Where's Charlie?" I asked.

"In the crowd—waiting for you," He laughed. "Just wait here a moment sweet pea."

Edward tugged on my hand and we stopped at the curb of the parking lot. His bright green eyes were wide and excited and he swooped down to kiss me. His lightheartedness took away my anxious foul mood and I smiled and kissed him fully back.

"Edward?" I murmured.

"Yeah?" he pulled back so our noses were touching, the perfect romantic moment with my arms around his neck and basking in the raining glow of a fresh afternoon.

"Thanks for getting me through this. I couldn't have done it without you." He smiled against my lips, wide enough that I could feel his teeth against mine because my grin was just as stupid and huge.

He pulled back and laughed out loud, giddy and happier than I'd ever seen him before. Everything did get better. We were in love and ready for anything the world could throw at us.

"It's over!" he yelled to the sky and looked back at me. "Let's go get married now."

"Whoa there Casanova, let the good times roll." We both turned towards the lawn where green caps were flying upwards and yelling was coming from. Charlie walked through the arches, hands in his pockets with Renee and Phil behind him. Renee had a camera in her hand and crooked a finger in my direction.

"Ready for the afterglow of post-graduation?" Edward teased.

"You know it, let's go get our pictures taken and then get married," I teased back and laughed loudly just because I could.

I ran to my parents with Edward on my heels, looking at all the positives for once instead of living in the negatives. I had a future ahead of me that was looking bright as the sun and a man who was everything I could possibly ever want and need.

If I could end it right here, with no worries or anxiety, I would. From my naïve young mind I would live out the rest of my life perfect and happy, and that's how I would see things from now on.


The End


A/N: No look into the future from here on out. It's done. It's up to the reader whether or not they lived happily ever after or the stress of an adult relationship worked them over.

Thanks once again for reading my short little story. Good news is while I was posting this I've been writing something. I have a stock of stories because my fingers are rarely ever off these keys.

Don't forget to review!