A/N: So here it is...this is the end...I thought I might have a little more left, but alas, there is no more...
I thank those of you who put this on your favorite and/or story alert! That makes me happy! :) Please check out my other work in progress, To Get Me To You! It's not as sappy. :)
Big thanks to my awesome comma/semicolon expert and the best personal beta a girl can have! You rock, G!! :)
Once again...SM owns.
Edward held my hand tight as the cruiser disappeared down the driveway. Everyone stood quietly for a few moments before beginning to slowly make their way back into the house. I walked to sit in the swing that sat at the end of the porch. Edward made his way over to me, sitting beside me and putting his arms around me. I felt empty. I felt like the place where my heart was supposed to be was a black hole. I hadn't felt loss like that since that day all those years ago when Edward left me in the woods behind Charlie's house. Silent sobs rocked through my body as I clutched the front of his shirt and fell into his arms.
We sat there for hours, until the sun was setting in the sky around us. Finally, Esme dared to open the front door to check on us.
"Edward, Bella dear, is there anything I can do?"
I couldn't speak. Edward answered, "Not right now, Mother. Thank you. I think Bella just needs some time."
Esme walked over and kissed the top of my head, whispering in my ear, "It's alright, dear. She will be fine. And she will come back." All I could do was nod.
The next morning, everyone prepared to leave and go back to their lives. Rose and Emmett were heading back to Denali to pack for their trip to Europe. Alice and Jasper were debating wether to go on another trip to Brazil and a shopping excursion to New York City. You didn't have to be a psychic to know who would win that argument. Carlisle and Esme were going to return to Juneau where Carlisle had set up a practice a few months before.
"Everyone is leaving," I sighed into Edward's chest. We hadn't moved off the porch swing all night.
"Yes," he said. "But, you know, love, we've all been apart before. And we'll all be together again. Rose and Emmett will only be gone a month. And Alice and Jasper will be back in a few weeks. You and I can go on a little vacation ourselves and then head back to Juneau with Carlisle and Esme. We can go to school or you can write or help Esme with the renovations to the house, whatever you want to do, love."
"Edward," I needed to ask him even though I knew what he'd say, "I'd really like to stay here for a few days. I won't get in her way, and I won't let her see me, but I need to make sure that Nessie is really okay. Do you think that would be awful of me? To skulk around for a few days?" I tried to smile. I just needed to know that we'd made the right decision. I looked up him with hope in my eyes, begging him to agree with me.
Edward took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I assumed that was to make a point of how important his answer was, since he didn't actually need the air. He brushed his fingers through my hair and kissed my temple.
"No, love, I don't think that would be awful of you. I think it would be very motherly of you. But just a couple of days okay? We'll make sure she gets in school without incident and then we'll head out, deal? You can shield us while we're here and maybe she won't notice we're still around."
I couldn't keep the smile from my lips. "Thank you, Edward. Thank you. I just need to make sure. Then we'll leave. School starts on Monday so we'll leave on Wednesday, is that okay?"
He nodded and scooped me up off of the swing. "Now, let's go wish everyone a proper farewell, shall we?"
Charlie called that night to let us know that he had registered Renesmee at Forks High School without any problems. As always, the papers Mr. Jenks had provided were flawless and no one had any reason to question them. Charlie said Nessie hadn't gone with him to fill out the paperwork, saying she wanted to get her room fixed up.
"You know, Jessica Stanley and Angela Weber both work at the high school now, Bells," Charlie told me.
"Really? I didn't know that," I said, hoping they hadn't asked about me. As far as the town of Forks was concerned, I was out of the country. Edward and I had gone on a European honeymoon and then to Dartmouth before returning to Europe to live. It explained our absence without being too specific.
"Yeah," he said. "Jessica works in the office. She's a secretary or something. She asked about you and Edward." He sounded like the exchange was more uncomfortable than it normally would have been. "Was that girl that nosy and pushy when you two were in school together?"
I laughed, knowing exactly what he meant. "She wouldn't take the bare bones story you gave her, huh?"
"She wanted all kinds of details outta me, for sure. But then Angela came in and kinda took over, told Jessica to go work on some other files or something. I think she's the new counselor. I did always like that one." He exhaled a long breath.
"That sounds like Angela," I said, smiling remembering my friend.
Charlie said Nessie and Jacob had gone to La Push to visit Sam and Emily, so we said our goodbyes. I didn't tell him of our plans to remain in Forks for a few extra days.
Monday morning, Edward and I were in the woods beside Forks High School before the sun had come up, shield firmly in place, hopefully blocking us from our daughter's senses. We watched as the parking lot started to fill up. Edward nodded toward the entrance to the lot, bringing my attention to Jacob's old car pulling in. Nessie was driving, and she parked the little rabbit convertible on the edge of the lot.
"Look, honey," I said with an exaggerated tone of nostalgia, "Nessie parked in my space!" I pointed at the spot in the parking lot where my truck had been parked on the day that Edward saved me from Tyler Crowley's out of control van.
Nessie got out of the little car, pulling her backpack onto her shoulder and locking the doors behind her. She took a deep breath before heading toward the main office building. Edward and I moved closer to the building so we could hear.
We watched as Nessie walked in the door and up to the counter. Up to Jessica Stanley. From our vantage point, Edward and I could see in the side window of the office. Jessica looked up to see Renesmee standing there and all the color drained from her face.
"I was afraid of this," I said to Edward. "She's going to get suspicious."
"Honey," he reminded me, "that's Jess. She's always suspicious and everyone knows she's a gossip. No one will pay her any attention, even if she says something. Now, be quiet and watch."
Renesmee handed her stack of paperwork that she and Charlie had filled out to Jessica, saying, "Good morning. I'm new. My name is Vanessa Wolf. My uncle is..."
"Chief Swan," Jessica finished her sentence, staring at Nessie as though she had seen a ghost. "Yeah, he was in on Friday. We got you all set up." She thumbed through the papers Nessie had handed her. "Looks like this is everything....umm, just let me get your schedule from Ms Weber...." She didn't take her eyes off Nessie as she called to Angela. "Ms Weber! Come meet our new student, Vanessa Wolf."
"I'll be right there!" Angela called from her office. "I'm printing her schedule now."
"Make sure you put on your glasses so you can really see her, 'kay?" Jessica called back.
Angela came out of her office, glasses on, and stopped as soon as she caught sight of Nessie. "Wow," she said under her breath. Walking closer to the front counter, Angela's mouth wouldn't seem to close. "Vanessa?" She asked, handing Nessie a slip of paper.
"Yes, ma'am," Nessie answered, taking the schedule from her. I could see the decision to nip that situation in the bud cross her face as she said, "Didn't my uncle tell me that you two went to school here with my cousin? Bella Swan? Well, of course, she's Bella Cullen now, but...do you remember her?"
Edward and I couldn't help but chuckle. That's our Nessie, getting straight to the point.
"Um, yeah," Jessica stammered, looking to Angela for help.
"Yeah, we were friends with Bella. We haven't seen her since graduation, though." Angela said, cocking her head to the side, taking in all of Nessie's features that were mine, adding, "God, you must know that you look just like her."
"I know, right?" Jessica agreed, "I mean, I guess you know that, but it's really freaky!"
"Yeah," Nessie said, "My mom always said I looked like Bella. Charlie thinks so, too." She took the opportunity that their stunned silence provided to change the subject. "So, this is my schedule, right? I get it signed and bring it back at the end of the day?"
Angela and Jessica just nodded. Nessie waved them a goodbye and headed out the outer door, walking off toward her first class.
At lunch, we saw Nessie exit the building and head for the cafeteria. She was talking to three girls. When they reached the door to the cafeteria, she said something to them, waving them into the building. Once she was alone, Nessie walked around to the side of the building and looked into the woods, just to the right of where we were hiding. Or, at least where we thought we were hiding.
"Mom, Dad," she whispered. "I don't know if you're really out there, but I feel like you are." She closed her eyes. "So, if you're out there...well, I just want to say thank you...Today has been awesome, and it's only lunch time. And thanks for hanging around to check on me. But I'm fine. Really. And you will be, too, Momma. I love you. I'll call you in a couple of days...and I guess...if you're not out there, then I've been talking to myself and I guess that's okay, too." She smiled and opened her eyes, letting them linger on the trees for just a moment before she turned and went to find her new friends.
By that evening, Edward and I were on our way back to Alaska. We had closed up the big house, but left the cottage in livable condition in case Nessie wanted to go there. We had driven about two hundred miles without talking. Edward holding my hand, me staring out the window.
I thought about my little girl, my daughter, my precious Renesmee. She had changed my life in so many ways. Her existence had made my own change not just possible but necessary. She grew so fast, Edward and I- well, all of us for that matter- had trouble keeping up. She was such a mystery, such a joy, such a blessing. She was the center of our universe for ten years, and now she was gone. I looked at Edward and he pretended not to notice, keeping his eyes on the road. I laid my head back against the seat and let my shield collapse around me.
For letting me take my own time to get used to this idea. I know I'm the one who said we should listen to her and consider what she wanted to do...It's just been harder than I thought it would be.
"I know, love. It isn't easy on any of us. But she's in the best possible hands."
Yes she is.
We had come upon a fork in the road. Literally. The road split in two. To the right was the road to Juneau, to the left, the highway turned around, going back the way we had come. Edward slowed the car as we approached.
"So, love," Edward asked, brushing his fingers along my cheekbone, "are you ready?"
I smiled and leaned into his hand. "As ready as I'll ever be."
I recognized the first bars of an old song on the radio. I'd heard many versions in my life, but this one was my favorite. I turned it up and hummed along, letting the music fill the space around me.
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
Make you happy make your dreams come true
To make you feel my love
Isn't that what being a mother is all about? Doing whatever you have to do for your child? Put their needs first? Make their lives be full of happiness and help them to make their own dreams come true?
I had done that, hadn't I? I had let her do what she wanted, put her needs above my own. I was helping her, letting her set off to make her dream for her life a reality. Taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, I looked back out the window as Edward sped along the highway that would take us to our new life- finally letting go.
End Notes: So, there you have it. I'm all about the happy ending! Anyway...I hope you liked it...Thanks for taking this little trip with me!! 3
p.s.~ in case you haven't heard the song "To Make You Feel My Love" I put a link to a youtube video on my profile. It's Kelly Clarkson's version...the video is just the lyrics scrolling....but the song is so pretty and one of my favorites!